By Jane Davitt
Sequel to Predatory Acts
“So chummy here can cut his throat in private? I don’t think so.”
“My intent is not to harm your friend but to save him,” the stranger said, sliding the knife into a sheath attached to his belt. He moved into the faint light from the street, studying the vampire with amused tolerance, towering a full foot above him. “My name is Matthew.”
He turned and walked away. “Why isn’t he sticking around to help?” Spike demanded.
Giles hissed with impatience. “It would affect the ritual if he touched Xander – look, are you giving me a hand or not? He’s bloody heavy!”
Spike said softly, “Take your hands off him, Watcher.”
Spike slid one hand under Xander’s shoulders and scooped him up easily into his arms. “You don’t get to touch him after what you did. Not until we’ve had a little chat.”
Giles met his eyes steadily. “Do you really think I would ever harm him?”
Spike shrugged. “Not planning on letting you try.” Giles reached for his glasses and began to polish them, his lips set in a thin line of hurt. Spike relented. “He trusts you.”
Giles looked up, his face hard. “He has never had any reason not to – until now. I assure you that what I’m doing is necessary.”
Spike began to walk towards the car. “Hope so, Giles. I really do.”
The drive back to Giles’ house had been mostly silent. Spike had opened his mouth and Giles, sensing the imminent inquisition, had said quietly. “I’d prefer to wait until we get home, Spike. Then we’ll answer your questions.”
“Got a fair bit to think about myself,” Spike said. “There’s a lot that’s making sense now.”
“Of course!” Giles said. “I forgot to ask...I take it you’re in full possession of your memories then? Good. I have a feeling that will be useful.”
Spike looked down at Xander, lying across his lap, his face slack and empty in his drugged sleep. “Is that right?”
Giles took advantage of a red light to glance back at Spike. “It might make all the difference to Xander, if that matters to you.”
Spike met his eyes. “It matters.” His hand rested against Xander’s chest, feeling the comforting thud of his heartbeat.
Spike carried Xander into Giles’ house and laid him down on the couch. Giles shook his head. “I’m afraid we’re going to need to restrain him, Spike. He’ll be awake soon.”
“You’re going to let him wake to find himself tied up?” Spike asked, his voice flat and expressionless.
“Yes. Because when he does, he might not be Xander.”
Spike digested that and nodded reluctantly, watching Giles bring out the ropes he had felt around his own wrists the week before. “Better hope your knots hold, then. He’s strong.”
“Stronger than you?” Giles asked, helping Spike place Xander on a wooden chair.
Spike grinned. “You’d better hope not. Could have broken this chair if I’d really tried, you know.”
“I’m glad you didn’t,” Giles said. “It’s a matched set.” He rubbed his forehead. “There’s always the bath tub.”
Spike sighed. “Use the chair. I won’t let him get free.”
Matthew spoke for the first time. He was leaning against the wall, a massive figure, dressed in dull grey and brown, his face deeply tanned, his eyes weary. “We must hurry.”
Spike shot him an unfriendly look. “Who is he, Giles, and how did he get here?”
Giles looked over at Matthew for permission and got a small nod. “I called him after you went down the alley with Xander. I thought he would be able to help.”
“You live in Sunnydale then?”
Matthew shook his head. “Scotland.”
Spike huffed in disbelief and then said, “Magic?”
Giles interrupted, giving Matthew an exasperated look. “He’s being pedantic, Spike. He does live in Scotland but he left there two days ago.” Giles turned back to Spike. “Can you guess when and why?”
“Can you just stop with the games and spit it out?”
Giles pursed his lips. “Oh, very well. He sensed the reawakening of Xander’s beast which coincided – except it wasn’t a coincidence – with the first time you and he, well –”
“Coupled,” Matthew said bluntly.
Spike looked between them, baffled. “I fuck Xander and people can tell thousands of miles away? Did we make the earth move for real?”
Matthew surprised them both by laughing, a deep, booming sound. “No, vampire. Not quite.”
Spike’s fists clenched. “Giles, I’ve heard you talk. You can use up five minutes telling someone what the bloody time is.” He turned to Matthew. “Can you do better? I’m not know for my patience at the best of times and trust me, this isn’t.”
Matthew shrugged. “Sit. Listen. Learn.”
Spike nodded. “I like you already.”
“Make that unconditional approval.”
Giles tutted but went to fetch glasses and Matthew and Spike exchanged amused glances. Once settled, Spike sitting as close to Xander as possible and the two men on the couch, Matthew began to talk.
“You wish for a swift story and yet there is much to explain...you know what happened to your friend two years ago?” Spike nodded. “That happened to me. I came close to losing myself in the animal; I killed and fed...the memories haunt me but I fought free of the beast.”
“I got in touch with Matthew two years ago,” Giles said quietly. “I was concerned about Xander.” He looked at Matthew ruefully. “You assured me that the spell had removed the animal spirit but of course we had no idea...”
“When you met the boy, you shared blood, a death,” Matthew said.
Spike looked pensive. “Yeah...it’s why I let him live. He wasn’t scared of me at all. He licked the blood from my hand...then I killed the woman it came from, and he fed on her.”
Giles shuddered, gulping at his drink to hide his revulsion, his eyes resting on Xander’s limp body with pity and regret.
“Blood...and then sex. You know how powerful both are, vampire, you know only too well...and the animal bonded with you, linked to your spirit. The spell that freed Xander worked well enough but the spirit was not completely banished. It retreated, using you to hide itself. It could not manifest within you; your demon is far too strong, but it could draw on that strength.”
“It hibernated, for want of a better word,” Giles remarked.
“Yes,” Matthew said, “but it was not spring that awoke it.”
“I can guess,” Spike said, his voice tight. He flicked his eyes over to Giles. “That’s why you said it was my fault, was it? If I hadn’t fucked him, he’d still be Xander?”
Giles studied him and then nodded. “It began the process, yes...and Matthew felt it happen and set off to warn me.” He raised an eyebrow. “You should have told me you were still monitoring the situation,” he said in mild rebuke. “Or at least told me you were coming. When I called you and you told me you were at Sunnydale airport...”
Matthew looked unrepentant. “You would have fussed.”
Spike laughed. “See you know our Rupert, mate.”
“He’s my aunt by marriage’s second cousin,” Giles snapped. “And I would not have...never mind.” He took a deep breath. “To make it short – which I am quite capable of doing – the animal spirit woke and that’s what caused Xander’s odd behaviour and the memory flash you got. The link was active again, you see. Xander probably bit you because the sex wasn’t quite enough.” Giles permitted a faint smile to cross his face as Spike looked crestfallen for a second.
“So; we do the spell again and this time we involve both of you,” said Matthew. “Simple enough.” He drained his glass, put it down and stood up. “Where shall I draw the circle?”
Giles looked around the room doubtfully. “Well...”
“This just suits you, doesn’t it?” Spike said, his voice bitter. He stood up and stalked over to Giles, vibrating with fury.
“What?” Giles frowned at him, genuinely taken aback. “Is this because I said it was your fault? I wasn’t really...”
“No! It’s because it was killing you to see him with me, wasn’t it? One of your precious Scoobies getting all snuggly with a vampire. Again. Because we all know how well it worked out with Angel and the Slayer. Now you can do the spell, get him back and he won’t want me any more, will he? Because it was the animal who needed me. Xander hates me, right? Always has done. Fuck it. Just fucking do the spell and –”
Spike’s voice broke and he hissed with frustration. Giles gaped at him. Spike’s face was alive with emotion, unguarded and vulnerable. Giles saw the deep blue eyes gloss over with tears before Spike shook his head and let his game face well up. “Spike! Stop that,” Giles ordered, gripping the vampire’s arms and shaking him slightly. “You’re being selfish and you’re quite mistaken.”
Spike’s human face returned and he looked at Giles with loathing. “Let go of me, Watcher.”
Giles hesitated and then shook his head. “Look at me, Spike. What do you see?”
Spike cocked his head to one side, his lips set stubbornly. “An enemy. Admit it, Giles; you hate me, too. I could taste it pouring off you every time you came near me when I was here.”
Giles smiled. “Really? And I thought my mother brought me up to be a better host than that. That chip must be affecting you in more ways than we realised.”
“Meaning?” Spike said, the word harsh, standing still in Giles’ grip.
Giles slid one hand down to take Spike’s hand and then took advantage of his surprise to slip the other around his neck, digging his fingers in. “Does this give you a hint?”
Spike choked out, “Only that you need a refresher course. Don’t breath, remember.”
“It’s symbolic, you dense pillock,” Giles said mildly. “I could have chosen here instead –” His hand moved from Spike’s throat to between his legs, cupping him gently and then dropping away. “Except I’m not quite certain which hand I should have used for that...” He stepped back, at ease in the face of Spike’s confusion, smiling faintly.
“I think he’s trying to tell you that he’s a conflicted man where you’re concerned,” Matthew said, topping up his glass. “You should have worked that one out yourself. You’re a crippled, helpless vampire but you’re not dust amongst the daisies because he doesn’t want to end you. Yet, still, you’re a vampire, so he hates you for that. I’ve a feeling he’s not blind to the fact that you’re easy on the eyes but I won’t presume...”
“No, don’t,” Giles said hastily. “Things are confused enough as it is.”
Spike said bluntly. “You want to fuck me, Rupert?”
Giles shrugged. “In my more insane moments, I’ve thought about it. It’s not really important now.” His eyes drifted to Xander. “Him, I love. He’s part of my life and he’s the one of all of them that I worry about most. Even more than Buffy, who, as you’re fond of pointing out, doesn’t quite need me anymore. You, I don’t love. Fancy you, maybe, but not to the extent of caring too much that you’re off limits now. I feel a certain...respect for you perhaps. As an adversary, as a fighter, as an individual. You’re irritating, indolent, insecure and immature, of course –”
“He likes you,” Matthew said confidentially. “I can tell. Now if you’ve finished chatting him up, maybe we could do this spell?” Spike turned. “Because laddie here’s been awake for quite a while, listening.”
The still figure in the chair did not move. Xander’s eyes were shut and he was breathing steadily. Spike frowned and then stiffened in shock. Xander’s eyes stayed closed but his lips were curving in a slow, sneering smile. The room hushed suddenly and Giles felt the hair on the back of his neck lift in an atavistic thrill of terror. Xander began to chuckle; a high pitched giggle, humourless and grating. Spike stepped forward, his face concerned and Xander’s eyes opened suddenly, wide and staring.
They were cold eyes, inhuman and cruel. “You knocked him out,” Spike whispered. “He couldn’t fight it like that. He’s not there anymore.” He spun around and glared at the two men. “Find him!”
Continued in Chapter Twelve