All About Spike

Chapter: 1  2  3  4

Journeys Part Three: Revelations (Draft)
By Mary

Sequel to Journeys Part Two: Awakenings; part of Journeys Series

Author’s Note

Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who’ve been reading this over the last two years. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that it’s been so long since I updated, and I hope you’re not too disappointed now that I have, because this isn’t a finished chapter – it’s a draft.

I waited a long time before deciding to do this, and it was a very difficult decision. I haven’t written anything for months, and don’t see that changing in the near future. Sending the draft version of the rest of Journeys out feels a bit like sending children to school naked must feel. It’s awful, and embarrassing, but if you don’t, the teacher and the kid’s friends wonder if he’s, like, dead or something, and they’re happy to see him even if he is naked! (Does that only make sense to me?)

Aside from the naked children analogy, for me the deciding factor in choosing to send this out was this; If I was given the chance to read a draft version of Lynn’s long unfinished ‘Secrets and Lies’ (also known as the ‘Chains Series’), would I take it? Fellow fans, you could not tear me away!

Whether you choose to read the story in this state is up to you. If you do, please keep in mind that this is a draft. D.R.A.F.T. There are a lot of unfinished and missing scenes, nothing is polished, and there are inconsistencies galore. There are plot points that have not been totally worked out, some that will make no sense, and scenes that will contradict others and make you go ‘Huh???’ Not all of my plot notes are included here, so lots of stuff will downright confuse you. You’ll find some notes to myself are interspersed, so reading the Journeys draft will probably also give you some insight into how my brain works, something I’m sure you’ll all be endlessly fascinated by! (snort)

I’ll be releasing the approximately 500 pages of the draft over the next few weeks.

Does this mean I’ll never actually finish the story in polished form? Honestly, I don’t know. I do know that I devoted my entire life to it for more than two years, and it would break my heart to leave it in this incomplete state.

Personal news: I finally became a grandmother! My granddaughter was born last week, and I am enjoying her immensely. Between cuddling her and helping to plan the weddings of two of my children (#2 Son and The Daughter), I am happily very busy!

Mary
September 15, 2004

This chapter is for Mezz and AllyV who didn’t ask me one single time at WriterCon when they would see the next chapter. Not. Once.



Part Three: Revelations

You’ve never looked into my eyes, but don’t you want to know –
What the dark, and the wild and the different know?

—Melissa Etheridge

Chapter One

~*~

(((Giles would be looking at angel even more differently now that he’d seen how Spike can behave without a soul.

Also – some talk of Spike's obsessions turning into a truer love. And his learning to relax. Guard yes, but not obsessively.)))

He was there when they walked in.

He hadn’t sensed him, and, later, Angel would put the oversight down to the fact that they were all covered in seriously large amounts of demon slime, and that this particular slime reeked of rotting eggs. His nose was full of the sulfuric scent, which, he would assure himself, was powerful enough to throw all his instincts off.

He was tired, too. They’d hardly slept since they’d given in to Cordelia’s insistent demands that they destroy the nest of LY!!—Drex!! El demons that had been wrecking unprovoked and, as Cordy put it, totally uncalled for, not to mention possibly sacrilegious to the fashion gods, havoc on Rodeo Drive. They’d tried to avoid the job by arguing that the usually deadly LY!!—Drex!! El demons hadn’t actually killed anyone yet, but Cordy had crossed her arms, tapped her foot, glared, and reminded them that the demons had, in fact, harmed people as they looted the exclusive shops, and that that should be enough to merit their involvement.

It had taken them more than two days, but they’d located the nest and wiped it out. Despite being covered in the lime green slime, they were all feeling satisfied and victorious. Cordelia had taken a moment out of the gushing she was doing over some of the ‘spoils’ she had claimed from the nest to complain about her ruined shoes, and the increasingly gregarious Fred was teasing Gunn about the sticky green mess covering his head.

As soon as he caught sight of the distinctive blond head, Angel stopped dead, his good mood gone. How dare he? How dare he come here? Invade his home? The initial outrage was quickly followed by wondering exactly what trouble the other vampire was about to stir up. Spike and trouble, in his experience, nearly always went hand-in-hand.

He was leaning casually against the front desk with a small duffle bag at his feet. Dressed in his usual black, but without his trophy duster, he looked thin and almost elegant, smoke from his burning cigarette swirling about his head. His blue eyes were running over them with a mixture of amusement and contempt, an expression that, like trouble, Angel usually associated with Spike.

Cordelia’s gasp and Angel’s deadly expression had Fred and Gunn looking at the blond curiously.

“Spike.”

The icy rage in Angel’s voice brought Gunn’s crossbow up. He leveled it at the intruder’s heart; a move that probably would have been more threatening had the weapon been loaded. And if Gunn’s head wasn’t coated in green goo.

Spike eyed the weapon with derision, before shifting his eyes to Angel. He smirked.

“Get out.”

“Is that any way to greet family?”

“You are not my family.”

“’s that right?”

Spike’s derision was in his voice now, and his expression stated clearly that they both knew differently. Angel felt his anger go up a couple of notches. Damn him!

“Leave now and I won’t kill you.”

Cordelia turned to Angel. “Why are you giving him a choice? Don’t you remember what happened the last time he was here? Just kill him!”

Neither vampire looked her way. Their eyes were steady on one another. Angel took a step closer to Spike.

“I mean it, boy. You’re not wanted here.”

“Too bad then, innit? Because here,” he gestured, “I am.”

Over the years, the younger vampire had honed the skill of driving his grandsire quickly over the edge, and apparently absence hadn’t lessened his prowess. Angel growled, vamping out, and advanced on the blond. He grabbed his arm and turned, throwing him toward the door. Fred, Gunn and Cordelia scurried out of the way. Spike smashed into the wall near the door, the impact sending a web of cracks through the plaster.

To Angel’s surprise, Spike didn’t launch himself back at him. Instead, he stayed where he was, turning to lean back against the wall. His body pivoted just enough to allow him to watch Angel’s approach. His lips curled into a sneer, and his expression was an odd mixture of anticipation, contempt, and something else; something Angel couldn’t read.

“Still here?” Angel snarled, advancing slowly. “You want me to throw you through the door? It’ll be a pleasure, boy, believe me.”

Angel reached for him, planning to make good on his words, when Spike spoke again. Softly; his words going no further than Angel’s ears.

“Blood of Aurelius. Sanctuary is claimed.”

Angel froze, his eyes widening.

“What?”

“You heard me.” Spike's lip curled again. “Sire.” The last word was tacked on in a contemptuous drawl.

“How dare you?”

Spike’s expression smoothed over to blankness, and he seemed to slump down against the wall as he muttered quietly, “’s not hard at all, Angelus. Not hard at all.”

“How long?” The words fell between them like piercing spears of hatred.

Spike straightened, shrugged a little, and his face took on a familiar cockiness that served to add fuel to the fires of rage burning through Angel.

“Not long. A few weeks, a month or so. Just a quiet room, and no visits from any of you lot. I’ll stay out of your way.”

“You’d better. I don’t want to see you or hear you or even know you’re here. Do you understand?”

Spike inclined his head.

“Cordy,” Angel kept his eyes on Spike as he spoke. “Find him a room. As far away from mine as possible.” He ran his dark eyes over the blond. “Make sure it has lots of morning sun.”

“I will not give him a room!”

“Give him a fucking room!”

Angel swung away, ignoring Cordelia’s shocked sputtering and the confusion and questions on the faces of the others. Without another word, he went into his office and slammed the door.

~*~

Spike eyed the closed office door before shrugging. “Family,” he snorted. “Ya gotta love ’em.”

“Why are you here?” Cordelia demanded. It was clear she felt it was her duty to ask the questions her boss had failed to ask. Not that he planned to give her any answers.

“None. Of. Your. Business.” He paused. “Bitch.”

Gunn stepped forward. “I can make it mine.”

“’s not yours either, mate.” Spike dismissed him, his eyes going back to Cordelia, as he shouldered his bag. “Just give me a key, and I’ll be on my way. You won’t even know I’m here.”

“That’s so not possible. You’ve played too big a part in some wish-I-could-forget-them moments in my life.”

Spike arranged his face into a smirk. “Left an impression, did I? Good to know.”

Spike almost sighed with relief when the bint actually chose a key.

“I’ll take him up,” Gunn volunteered, glancing between him, the bitch and Angelus’ office. But Cordelia refused.

“No. I have a few things I want to say to this psycho blood boy.”

She turned and led the way out of the lobby. Spike followed.

“I hate you, you know,” she began.

“Yeah? It’s mutual.” Actually, he’d never given Harris’ former chippy enough thought to hate her, but with every word that came out of her mouth as they climbed the stairs, the sentiment became truer.

He tried to blank out his mind as Cordelia went into a lengthy tirade of verbal abuse while he followed her to the room she’d chosen. She took the stairs slowly. Flight after endless flight. God, couldn’t she just shut her bleedin’ hole? he wondered. Her tone was grating on his exhausted nerves, threatening to make him do something he’d regret. Well, maybe not regret exactly… Spike figured that anyone who could actually stomach eating her would be doin’ the world a favor.

The bleedin’ Christmas lights he’d been forced into seeing at every turn for three days now, flashing their gaudy and generally revolting words of peace and joy, and the unending sound of carols being played on every radio station, and here in L.A, even on the streets, had only served to make the last few endlessly long days even longer. His head was throbbing, almost as if the chip had fired earlier. It bloody well felt like the familiar aftereffect headache anyway. Which it wasn’t. He hadn’t tried to bite anyone. But, if he heard ‘The First Noel’ one more time, all bets were off.

God, he was tired. So damned tired. The tension inside him built with every step they took, and every word out of the yapping bitch’s mouth.

Cordelia continued to bang on. Blah, blah, blah, Angel. Blah, blah, blah, hurting. Blah, blah, blah, Buffy. At the mention of h- the Slayer’s name, Spike exploded.

“Shut your gob, you bloody cow,” he grated, and backhanded Cordelia viciously across her mouth.

The chip fired, and his head exploded with renewed pain.

Sonofabloodybitch!

Spike clutched his head in agony, and staggered, almost falling to his knees.

The chip worked. The fucking thing still worked.

What the hell was going on? Was it shorting? Decaying in his brain and working when it bloody well felt like it?

His mind was racing, and a terrible fear seared through him, finding its way through the excruciating pain. What if it was her? What if heaven had changed her, or something had gone wrong with Red’s spell, and she’d come back – different?

Dear god, don’t let it be that. Let it be the chip, not her. Never her. If she was no longer human…

Couldn’t bear to see what that knowledge would do to her if she ever gained it.

Cordelia got up, her hand clutched to her bleeding mouth.

“What the hell was that for? God, why am I asking? I just called you a psycho, didn’t I? Well, you know what? I’m not the same little girl I was in Sunnydale. I know how to fight back now.”

Spike glanced at the stake in her hand and curled his lip. Again. Damned if he was going to reveal the fact that he felt like a small bomb had just exploded inside his skull.

“Much as I’d like to take you on, I think you’d best discuss dusting me with Angelus before you do anything he’ll have to kill you for.”

“My god, you’re a completely insane psycho! Angel would give me a huge raise!”

“Why don’t you give me the key and trot off and have a little chat with him about that, ducks?”

“You hit me! You can’t think he’ll actually let you stay here now?”

Spike didn’t much care, but he still managed to snatch the key out of Cordelia’s hand before she stormed off. If he had to break into a room, he wouldn’t be able to lock the sodding door, and that would probably lead to the bitch coming and going as she pleased. He gripped the key tightly for a moment, leaning against the wall as he rode out the worst of the pain.

He’d found out part of what he needed to know. The sodding chip still worked. Sometimes. Maybe. He had a hundred questions about that, and not a bloody clue how to find the answers.

His head hurt like hell, but the pain would recede, and be forgotten. The satisfaction of smashing his hand across that bint’s yapping mouth, though, could well last for years.

~*~

“Are you crazy? He can’t stay here!”

“I can’t ask him to leave, Cordy.”

“Sure you can. All you have to do is open your mouth and let the words ‘Get the hell out of my hotel’ come out.”

She was furious with him. Why had he given that madman a room? And why, even though his eyes kept straying to the blood on her lip, and he looked angrier than she felt, which was saying something, was he refusing to explain himself?

Angel shook his head. “Spike stays, Cordy. Don’t ask me again to kick him out. Believe me, I don’t want him here either, and I’m sorry he hit you, but it makes no difference. Just stay away from him.”

“Have you lost your mind?” she demanded. Her eyebrows rose. “Again?”

Angel walked over to her and wrapped his hands around her upper arms. Cordy started to relent, expecting him to apologize to her. Instead he lifted her, set her outside the door of his office, and shut the door firmly in her face.

She wanted to scream when she heard the click of the lock.

~*~

Spike dropped his bag onto the floor of the depressingly average hotel room. An almost crippling pain was still shooting through his head, and he felt twinges of the nausea that sometimes accompanied the courtesy-of-the-sodding-Initiative headaches.

He lit a cigarette, visually explored the room until he spotted an ashtray and swept it up as he went to the window. Christmas lights were flashing on the streets below. With a low growl, he pulled the curtains closed to shut them out and took a deep drag on his fag.

He’d have thought his bleedin’ sorry excuse for a grandsire could have come through – once. Pillock.

Stumbling a little, Spike felt his shoulders hit the wall behind him, and his body began sliding down, sliding, slowly, as if his legs could no longer support him. With a little jolt, his bum hit the floor, and he stopped moving. His eyes, blank and unfocused, stared sightlessly into the dark of the room.

Except to light another cigarette, or to smoke one or crush one out, he didn’t do much else in the way of moving for nearly forty-eight hours.

~*~

Buffy put the lid on the last bowl of leftovers and put it into the refrigerator. Since no one had actually taken a single bite of any of the dishes, they were technically probably not leftovers. They were, like, parts of a delayed meal, or something. Provided either she or Dawn ate some of them later. If not, they’d probably turn out to be garbage.

It was Christmas day.

Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.

There weren’t any boughs of holly, and she sure as hell didn’t feel jolly. There weren’t even any halls to deck, providing she’d been in the mood. Well, er, no tree, anyway. She and Spike had planned to get one the night after they’d gone to see the Lord of the Rings. That plan had gone to hell, and since then, her mood hadn’t been anywhere near the kind of mood that could have gone through the family Christmas decorations for the first time since her mother’s death. She didn’t think she could bear any ghosts of Christmases past right now.

She had put up Dawn's stocking, and laid the gifts she’d gotten her on the hearth. They were still there, untouched. Dawn hadn’t spoken to her since the day after the – since the day after.

Buffy closed her eyes and gripped the handle of the refrigerator, squeezing, as she relived the day after confrontation with her sister. She’d been dreading it, knowing it was going to be hard. She’d known Dawn was probably upset. Okay, not probably, was. The whole flying at her with her fingernails curled into claws and her words ‘I friggin’ hate you’, had made that pretty clear. The sobbing she’d been able to hear behind her sister’s locked door for the rest of the night had driven the point home.

Buffy is angry at everyone. She was mad at Dawn and Spike and Xander. She was upset with Giles for no reason whatever that she could think of, and most of all, she was angry with herself.

Buffy knew there was nothing she could do to change things. The chip didn’t work. Spike’s leash was broken beyond repair, and she could never trust him anywhere near Dawn again.

She had been so sure, so sure he had changed. But when she’d looked into his eyes when the chip hadn’t fired; when she’d seen the joy there… It had shocked her; terrified her. She’d had the horrible, and horribly familiar, fear that she was going to have to dust him.

But even so, she hadn’t been prepared for the strength of Dawn’s fury, and the cold depth of her anger.

Dawn had been waiting for her when she got home.

“You had to do it, didn’t you?” Dawn began. She’d been leaning against the wall near the base of the stairs, with her arms crossed. Waiting. She straightened as she spoke.Anya, who’d been sitting with her, had risen and slipped silently out of the house, her face uncertain and confused.

Buffy took a deep breath. She’d known this confrontation was coming, but that didn’t mean she was ready for it.

“And now, at Christmas time. Do you think I haven’t had enough traumas in my life this last year? You just wanted to make it complete by kicking my best friend out right before the holidays, right? Merry Christmas, Dawn!”

“Look, Dawn. I know you care about Spike…”

“No, you don’t know. You weren’t here. You were busy being dead, and he was busy taking care of me. You left me. You and mom both left me. But Spike didn’t. He stayed. And every single day he was there for me. And now he’s…” Dawn swallowed convulsively. “I went to see him this morning –”

“You did what?” Buffy was horrified. Hadn’t she made it clear? No, of course she hadn’t, she reminded herself. She hadn’t told Dawn anything last night. Hadn’t told her that Spike's chip wasn’t working. “You can’t go near him, Dawn. Not until…”

“—and he was like a whole different person.” Dawn ignored her sister’s interruption. “Because of you. Because you are such a bloody bitch. Can’t you ever just be nice to people? Ever?

“God, for awhile I actually thought you’d changed. Really changed.” She shook her head in a gesture of self-disgust, rolling her eyes heavenward. “I was so stupid. Why do I keep hoping? I should have known…” She looked back at her sister. “Didn’t take you all that long to get back to your old self, did it? The biggest bitch on the planet! And you’re gonna do what you always do, aren’t you? Make sure no one around you enjoys their life too much…”

“Dawn –”

“You’re an expert at it, you know. It’s certainly working on me and Spike. Why don’t you spread your holiday cheer to Giles tomorrow? How about Tara – oh, no wait, you can’t! She’s out of town. I guess you’ll have to wait ‘til she’s back. Then you can ruin her life, too!”

Buffy grabbed at Dawn’s arm as her sister whirled to run up the stairs. Dawn’s whole body jerked at the force of the grip, and she cried out in pain.

“Spike is – Spike is dangerous, Dawn. He can hurt you, and he will. Xander warned me, tried to remind me…” She saw again the relief and joy that had been in Spike’s eyes when the chip hadn’t fired. The memory helped to firm her wavering voice. “Without a soul… Spike – we can’t trust him. We have to…”

Dawn brought her clenched fist down on Buffy’s forearm, trying to break her grip. “Take your hand off of me,” she demanded furiously. Her eyes were swimming with tears and Buffy knew her sister was determined not to let them fall in her presence. She glared at her until Buffy reluctantly released her arm. “You already threw me into a wall the other night. Don’t you ever, ever, use your ‘I save the world Slayer strength’ on me again. Do you hear me? And you don’t have to worry about me spending time with Spike. Not anymore. He left.”

“He…” Buffy could feel the reaction to those words spread through her body, leaving ice in its wake. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. “What?”

“He’s gone. Because of you.

If possible, Dawn’s glare intensified, and Buffy could read nothing but accusation and anger and – and hatred there.

“And you’re wrong, you know. Spike loves me. He would never hurt me. Ever. Even without your oh-so-precious-can’t-possibly-be-capable-or-worthy-of-anything-good-or-decent-without-one, frigging soul.”

Buffy met those vivid blue eyes. She had known Dawn would be angry, but she was still shocked by the intensity of her reaction. Did Dawn really think she had left her? That their mom had as well? She needed to talk to her about that. Tell her... But even more than that, she was concerned about something else – something she could see in the depths of her sister’s eyes. Something she hadn’t expected, and didn’t understand. She watched Dawn race up the stairs.

After the sound of the slamming bedroom door made its way down to her, Buffy sighed and buried her face in her hands. She pushed them up through her hair and clutched her head tightly.

Now what? She wondered. She could understand Dawn’s anger and hurt. She could even understand if Dawn felt betrayed by her death, as if she had willingly left her. In a way, she supposed she had. And she also understood that Dawn would be angered by her warning about Spike. She knew they had become very close while she’d been – gone.

But, in god’s name, why would her sister look at her with that lurking in the depths of her eyes – that terrible overwhelming fear?

~*~

“Hello?”

“Watcher.”

A brief pause. “Spike.”

He didn’t beat around the bush. “Did the Slayer tell you?”

“About the chip not working? Yes.”

“Is she okay? Is Dawn?”

“Buffy is angry and worried. And, as far as I know, Dawn isn’t talking to her.”

Spike gave a little snort. “I – I need your help.”

“I must ask you, Spike. Have you fed?”

“No.”

“You give me your word?”

“Yes. I haven’t fed. Just the usual revolting pig swill.” Spike paused; then continued quietly. “Do you accept my word? Have I – have I –” He couldn’t force out the words.

Giles’ voice was steady. “Earned that?” he finished for him. Giles barely paused. “Yes.”

A long silence stretched over the phone wires.

“Thank you,” Spike said at last. He didn’t even attempt to conceal the emotion in his voice. “Can you come to L.A.?”

“Yes. When?”

“Today?” Spike gave another little snort, this one laced with derisive amusement at his own impatience. He was a bit surprised when Giles didn’t hesitate.

“Where shall we meet?”

~*~

angel can think that he hasn’t seen any sign of Spike since he showed up – and it will have been a few days. Two in spikes room, Angel POV:

Angel and Cordelia were sitting near the registration desk, laughing together, when Giles came into the lobby. They looked up, their expressions registering their surprise as they recognized him.

“Giles!” Cordelia’s wide smile made her pleasure plain. “I haven’t seen you in – well, since…”

…Buffy’s funeral. From the looks of remembered pain on everyone’s faces, Angel knew he wasn’t the only one finishing her sentence silently.

Giles spoke first, easing the awkward moment. “Hello, Cordelia. You’re well, I hope?”

“Yes.” Cordy relaxed, sending a grateful smile to the Watcher. “You’re looking pretty dapper yourself,” she added, and Angel watched her run her eyes ran over the long olive coat, the blue t-shirt and the worn jeans the Englishman wore. “Much less tweedy. It suits you.”

FIX

Angel’s reaction was different. He rose slowly to his feet, his body was tightening in anticipation of bad news. Something unsuited to a phone call. The last time that had happened, when Willow had… Angel couldn’t think of any other reason Giles would come to his hotel. They’d kept in touch, haphazardly at least, for the first year or so after he’d left Sunnydale, but not much since. And he had no idea how much Wes kept in contact with his former co-worker.

Cordelia’s eyes darted between the two men, and her warm tone faltered. “Is – everything okay? Giles?”

“Fine, thank you, Cordelia.” He nodded at Angel. “Hello, Angel.” Giles' voice was calm, but decidedly cool.

“Giles.” Angel’s voice was cautious.

“I’m here to see Spike,” the Watcher told them.

“I knew it!” Cordelia exclaimed. “He did something, didn’t he?” She glared at Angel. “I told you he was hiding from someone. Her eyes went back to Giles. “You’ve been hunting him down, right? How did you find out he was here?”

“He called me.”

“He – ? Oh.” Cordelia frowned. “And, um, why?”

“That’s his business, I imagine. Is he here?”

“Yeah,” Angel replied. “He’s staying here, anyway. I’m not sure if he’s in his room or not.” He was. Even though he hadn’t seen any sign of him since his arrival, Angel always knew precisely when Spike left the hotel and when he returned. He could feel him. “533.”

“He’s expecting me.” Giles inclined his head toward the stairs. “This way?”

“There’s an elevator,” Angel offered, wondering distractedly if Wes and Gunn had managed to repair it after the last damage it had incurred. He’d almost never used it himself, and…

But Giles was already on his way up the stairs. “This is fine. The exercise will do me good. Thank you.”

Angel and Cordelia stared after him.

“Do you think he’s gone completely wacko?” Cordelia asked, tipping her head to the side curiously.

Angel doubted it. But he was beginning to feel like he might.

~*~

((work on POV – one or two?))

The room was relatively small, and aside from the overflowing ashtray, almost militarily neat. The bed looked untouched.

Spike himself was not so undisturbed. His hair, usually so ruthlessly smoothed back, was wildly disarrayed. Giles blinked in surprise at the mass of wild curls. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he’d seen Spike’s hair in this state before, or near enough as not to matter, but it still struck him as odd, and – unexpected.

((((Giles can think about how b isn't talking to anyone. she seemed furious, as if she was angry at the world. Dawn wasn't speaking to her, Christmas had been a nightmare during which Xander and Anya had tried to make it a celebration



Giles is surprised that Spike took off so fast, since tenacity seems to be one of his main personality traits, but puts it down to depression.))))



“Is the Slayer okay? Dawn?”

“No different than they were this morning, to my knowledge,” Giles told him, coming into the room. “How about you?”

Spike snorted. “Been better, mate.” He led the way to the requisite small round table flanked by two uncomfortable chairs that sat in front of the window. Spike emptied the ashtray into the wastebasket, and took the second chair, bringing the ashtray with him. The air was already blue with remnants of smoke, but he lit up again, anyway. Giles tried not to cough. Or reach for the pack. Resorting to smoking when he’d learned of Buffy's resurrection had been one thing. Lighting up with the regularity of a strobe light while getting completely pissed was quite another. He’d tried to put his lapses down to Spike’s unruly influence. He was determined that he was not going to pick up the habit he’d shed along with his Ripper persona.

“I need to know what’s happening with the chip,” Spike said bluntly.

“It didn’t fire when you hit Buffy. It seems clear that it has malfunctioned.”

“Don’t think it has, Watcher.” Spike raised his eyes to meet those of the other man. “But I don’t know.”

Giles sat opposite Spike. His hands were folded and hanging loosely between his knees, and his body was leaning slightly toward the vampire.

“Did you attempt to feed?” He asked, and there was a wealth of disappointment in his voice, a note approaching betrayal.

“No. But I hit that bitch – Angelus’ sidekick.”

“Ange – you mean Cordelia?” Giles was shocked.

“Yeah. The night I got here. She was yammering on and on, and she said something about the Slayer and brood boy, an’ I –” His hands moved expressively. “Know I shouldn’t have. But I don’t regret it. So, if you wanna leave now...”

“And the chip fired?” Giles asked instead, and could almost see the wave of relief that went through Spike at his lack of outrage.

“Oh, yeah, full on. But I found out something else, too. Something worse.”

“Go on.”

“The B—Slayer wannabe is part demon.”

“Cordelia?” His shock was even greater this time.

“I guess. That twittery one told me. Ran into her in the kitchen the other night. Third night I was here, I think it was. I popped in to nick some of the grandsire’s blood, and she told me where I could get my own. Don’t even remember how it came into the conversation.”

“The twittery one?”

“Yeah, um, Fred, I think her name is. New addition to the camp of champs.”

“But Cordelia is still part human?”

((((Spike would KNOW Fred was human. He didn’t realize it about cordy cause he was so upset and exhausted.) finding out that cordy is part demon has really confused Spike and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s tempted to go out, take on some demons, see if the chip has somehow reversed itself and now only works on demons and that he can kill humans again, but he decides he shouldn’t pick a fight with demons if it turns out he can’;t fight them. Besides, this was Angelus’ town. And what if brood boy actually rescued him? That would be intolerable. Time to call Giles, see if he can help him get some answers.)))))

“That was the impression I got, but I dunno for sure. Didn’t quite know how to ask. Gave a minute of thought to askin’ Fred if she was human herself, but I was pretty sure she’d object if she said ‘yes’ only to have me smack her upside the head to see whether or not my brain would explode.”

“We need to find that out,” he paused, his eyes meeting Spike’s. “Do you want to hit me?”

The men looked at each other seriously before they both broke into reluctant smiles. It eased a lot of the tension in the room.

"Now there's a question. Once upon a time, Watcher..."

Giles could almost see scenes of their past flashing through Spike's mind. No doubt the time the vampire had spent chained in his bathtub figured prominently in those memories.

“It’s somehow not as appealing now,” Spike went on.

“But I think you’d better. Like you, I don’t think we’ll run into a lot a volunteers.”

“Yeah,” Spike agreed.

They stood, facing each other, and Giles braced himself.

“Just so you know, Watcher, I’m not feeling even a twinge of anticipation. It’s damned unnatural.”

Giles relaxed slightly, and Spike chose that moment to strike. His fist connected with Giles’ jaw, and they both howled with pain.

“You’re one hundred percent human, right?” Spike asked, clutching his head.

“Yes, sod it all. That bloody well hurt.”

“Didn’t exactly tickle for me either, you know.” He paused. “Can’t hold back much,” he explained. “Damn thing seems to have some understanding of intent.”

“You were holding back?” Giles groaned, cupping his jaw. Already, it was beginning to swell. He ran his tongue along his teeth to make sure they all seemed secure. They did.

“Well, yeah,” Spike admitted. He went to a small cooler sitting on the nightstand. He pulled out a jar of blood, and set it aside, taking out an ice pack instead, which he applied to his head. “Not a lot, mind you,” he said, eyeing the Watcher, and Giles could plainly see that the lie was being offered in an effort to make him feel better. Spike removed a second ice pack and held it out. “Ice?”

Absurdly, the question made Giles think of Chevy Chase saying, “Lip balm?” in some foolish comedy Xander had talked him in to watching. But he accepted it gratefully, and after Spike had replaced the blood in the cooler, the men sat down again, each holding a flexible ice bag to their respective injuries.

“We need to find someone who can help us test the chip out thoroughly,” Giles commented after a few minutes of nursing his jaw. He was thankful to hear that his voice hadn’t taken on some odd inflection or thickness from the punch. Holding back, he thought in disgust. He’d damn well watched Spike work out often enough, hadn’t he? He should be bloody grateful he was alive. “I have a couple of contacts. I can make some calls.”

“Yeah, I guess, “Spike agreed. He hesitated. “What about B—the Slayer?”

Giles looked up, and Spike went on quickly. “What if something went wrong with Red’s spell? If it’s her? If she’s not completely human anymore?”

“Dear Lord.”

“It’ll kill her, you know.” Spike got up and began pacing. “She’s coming back to herself, but she’s still fragile right now. I don’t think she can take one more thing. And this? It’s gotta be one of her worst nightmares. Almost like – almost like getting turned.” His voice broke a little.

Giles took pity on him. “Let’s see if we can’t make sure the chip isn’t shorting out at all first. Maybe some little electrical connection just didn’t – connect – when you hit her.” For the most part, electronics were a mystery to Giles. He wasn’t even sure if ‘electronics’ was the right word in this instance. After all, the chip wasn’t plugged in to anything, was it? “Before we worry about any other consequences, let’s get the chip evaluated thoroughly.”

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, Rupert,” Spike began. Then he paused, his mouth twisting in self derisive amusement. “Haven’t thought of another bloody thing since I got here.” He went to the window, drawing back the curtain to look out over the flashing holiday lights decorating the endless expanse of city. “I – Dawn. I love her, Rupert, an’ I’m not gonna let her down. Not gonna leave her like she feels a lot of others have.” His hand clenched tightly into the folds of the curtain, crushing the fabric hard. Slowly his fist relaxed. “When the chip didn’t fire, I thought maybe it was my chance… Prove to the Slayer that I could…” He paused, swallowed. “It doesn’t matter,” he went on. “I know the Slayer will never trust me anywhere near her kid sis without a working chip in my head.” His fist clenched again. This time it took him a little longer to force it to relax. “If it’s not working, I -- I want a new one put in.”

Giles stared at his rigid back in shock.

Spike turned and faced him.

“Can you arrange that?”

~*~

It wasn’t the chip. The doctors Giles had arranged to meet with did extensive testing, and found it to be fully functional. The chance of it just randomly not working on Buffy were extremely slim. Impossible, the doctors had said, but Giles knew enough to know that nothing was ever truly impossible.

((((Any explanation of who the doctor’s were? Needed?)))))

That left the logical conclusion that the problem lay with Buffy. It also left Giles wondering if Spike would have gone through with his stated wish to have a working chip implanted if the current one proved faulty. When he’d asked him, Spike had just shrugged. He would never know now. Perhaps Spike would never really know either.

Spike and Giles sat at a rather cramped booth in a dark corner of a pub near the Hyperion. Giles had had something to eat, but even with a few things on the menu the watcher knew the vampire enjoyed, Spike chose to chain smoke instead. He was nursing a beer, and fidgeting in his seat. Giles watched him, taking a long drink of his own beer, while he waited for Spike to share whatever it was that was making him so restless.

“I think she’s still human,” he said at last. “B—the Slayer.” (using this too much – edit)

Giles hadn’t needed the clarification.

“She doesn’t feel different to me. Doesn’t smell different.” Spike stared into his beer. “And she tastes the same,” he added very quietly.

It was Giles’ turn to shift in his seat. He really didn’t want any details on their sex life, not even something as simple as kissing. Oh, dear Lord, he thought, wincing inwardly – he hoped Spike was talking about kissing. He could tell himself he’d accepted their relationship, even that he was growing comfortable with it, if it, er, still existed. But a mind free of any details, was a mind that allowed sleep to come a great deal more easily.

“I’ll find some reason to do a series of tests on her when I get home. I had thought about doing it right after she was brought back, if you remember. But someone persuaded me to wait. Perhaps I’ll insist on a complete physical as well. She detests doctors, and hospitals, but I think I can use her death and resurrection as a plausible excuse. And it quite likely is the reason there’s a problem. Perhaps the magic Willow used altered her in some way. Not making her non-human, exactly, just – different. Some little thing that’s confusing your chip. A CAT scan, some molecular studies, perhaps, a complete blood workup...”

“Told you, her blood’s the same.” Spike looked out over the crowd. “I’m not mistaken on that, Watcher. I’d know her blood anywhere.”

“You’d... You’ve drunk from her?” Giles sounded appalled.

Spike looked back at him. Hadn’t he just said so a minute ago? Thought the Watcher had taken it a little too well. Maybe it had just sunk in. “No. Well, not exactly.”

What, exactly?”

“She cut her hand.” Spike grew defensive. “Was just a taste. ‘s not like she objected.” He paused. “Well, to that anyway.”

“Perhaps you should explain what, exactly, you’re talking about,” Giles pressed.

“’s nothing,” Spike mumbled, avoiding his eyes.

“Let’s see if I have this straight. You feel that Buffy has not undergone any significant change because her blood is the same. Blood you tasted before her death, and have tasted again since her resurrection.”

Spike finished his beer. He glanced at Giles’ glass. “Get you another, Watcher?” He rose without waiting for a reply, and went to the bar. Giles stared after him. What wasn’t he telling him, and more importantly, why? Aside from the guilt he’d expressed over his perceived failure to keep Buffy alive, Spike didn’t express much in the way of regret for past deeds. It didn’t seem to be a part of the vampire’s nature. So what had he done that he was so reluctant to talk about now? When, before her death, had he had the opportunity to drink from Buffy? And why had his Slayer never told him?

Spike slipped back into the booth, pushing a heavy glass stein toward Giles.

“Got a favor to ask,” Spike said. He seemed to have no intention of answering Giles’ question.

Giles raised a brow.

“It’s about the bit. I want her to know I haven’t fed. Want her to know the chip’s working, and I haven’t hurt anyone. An’ that I didn’t try to either. Except for hitting that bitch that hangs out with Angelus, of course.” He shrugged. “You can tell her that if you want. Your call. And I want you to tell her I’ll be back. Don’t know when, exactly, but I don’t want her thinkin’ I’ve abandoned her. She’s got a lot of issues with that. Will you do that?”

Giles eyed him speculatively. "This," he gestured between the two of them, "relationship must work both ways, Spike. Before I agree to help you out any further, I want you to tell me about Buffy's blood. The whole story," he tacked on. It wouldn't do to give Spike an out. He too often seemed to find a way to use them.

Spike took another draught of his beer. He reached for a cigarette, but the pack was empty, and he crumpled it up and tossed it onto the floor with disgust.

Giles watched it roll across the old tile. Litterbug, he thought.

“It was after – after...”

Giles read that devastated expression. “After the tower,” he supplied.

“Yeah,” Spike swallowed. “I don’t remember much. Guess my health took a turn for the worse.” He looked up at Giles, and his lips twisted a little in a ghost of his old smirk. “An’ – a little angel brought me somethin’ to make me better.” He stared into his beer again, and waited.

The Watcher was a bright fellow. He didn’t have to wait long.

“Dawn.” Giles stated.

Spike confirmed his conclusion with a nod, and watched the expressions flickering across the other man’s face as he mentally worked out the details.

“Did she let you drink from – no. No,” Giles said again, his thoughts crystallizing. “Buffy’s blood. From their freezer. Dawn brought it to you.”

“That she did, mate.”

Giles was silent a moment as he let all the implications go through his mind. And to wonder why the possibility had never occurred to him before. He should have long ago become used to the things young people would do for their friends. Hadn’t Xander and Willow taught him that? Hadn’t Buffy? “Dear Lord. Getting it to you... The chances that child must have taken...”

“Yeah.”

“And the rapid recovery. The increase in strength we saw when you fought the dragons...”

“Yeah.”

“From Buffy’s blood...”

“Packs quite a punch, our – your Slayer’s blood, Rupert. Strong, powerful. It was –”

Never gonna taste her again.

Never gonna have her blood in your mouth, in your throat. Never gonna feel her power, her passion. Never gonna have her body in your arms, never gonna… Never. Never…

Don’t think about her.

Don’t fucking think about her.

Spike clenched his fist, pausing briefly before going on. “Never tasted anything like it. And I could never mistake it. She cut her hand the other night an’ I – I –” Spike squeezed his fist tighter. “I tasted her. Blood’s the same. No question in my mind.”

The two sat quietly for awhile, nursing their beers.

“Do you suppose that could be an explanation?” Giles asked thoughtfully.

“What’s that?”

“Having drunk her blood – having been restored by it. Do you suppose your chip recognized that somehow, and no longer sees Buffy as – well, not inhuman, but not different from you either? Rather like a blood tie between vampires. Kindred, in a sense.”

As a theory, it was of a rather more mystical nature than those the doctors had espoused. Those had revolved, for the most part, around the possible altering of molecular structure or something of that sort. Being based on blood, thought, his own theory could be said to have some scientific underpinnings. Giles gave a mental nod, rather pleased with himself for having come up with it. After all, his own experiences had led him to believe that mystical explanations should hold at least as much weight as scientific.

Spike eyed him.

“Not a theory I’d expound on at length to the Slayer,” Spike said dryly, remembering Buffy’s horrified voice, ‘Oh. My. God. Were you trying to turn me?’. “Don’t think it’d go over too well – suggesting she was somehow related to vampires.” And she doesn’t know – not about Dawn’s involvement.

“I rather think it would be the other way ’round. You related to her.”

Spike’s expression clouded further. “Still not seein’ it as something she’d wanna hear. An’ it sounds a bit far-fetched to me.” He paused, before admitting tiredly, “But then, I’ve never had a clue how the chip could figure the difference between humans and non-humans anyway, so who am I to say?”

“Well it makes as much sense to me as some of the other possibilities running through my head since the doctors told us everything was fine with your chip – that Buffy’s cell structure was somehow altered during re-entry, so to speak, and your chip no longer registers her.”

((((Is this going to be relevant??:

He realized his mistake when she rolled her eyes at him. “Really? Oh, god, thank you, thank you! I’m so glad, so relieved! I’m way up there on the normal scale when compared to demons!”

He knocked her elbow out from under her, so that her head flopped to the ground.

“Ouch!” she protested.

“Didn’t hurt,” he derided her. “Chip.” He gestured to his head, indicating the general state of him not writhing in pain.))))))

Giles finished his beer and pushed the stein away.

“I don’t suppose it makes much sense to be hashing through this until I’ve had a chance to run some tests on Buffy.”

“You find something wrong with her, an’ she’s gonna feel like a freak. Even if it’s not demon related. She already feels – well, bein’ the Slayer an’ all, comin’ back from the dead a few times...”

“I know.” Giles’ mind had been working along the same lines. “I shall just have to find a way to reassure her that she’s human and normal. Or – as normal as a slayer can be said to be.”

Giles was watching Spike’s hands. They had stopped their desperate fist clenching, and were now carefully shredding a paper napkin. “When I first became her Watcher, she used to talk a lot about being a normal girl.” He paused. “She doesn’t so much anymore.”

“She’ll never be normal,” Spike said. “’Cause she isn’t. She’s the Slayer. Never understood why she was so anxious to blend in when she was born to stand out.”

He made it sound so simple and straightforward.



(Consider Spike not specifying that Dawn be told he hadn’t fed or tried to feed. This knowledge would ruin the scene later with Buffy. Perhaps he can just say that he wants Dawn to know he’s coming back, and that they might hold off with the chip news until they’ve tested Buffy in case it might be something that upsets Dawn or adds to her worries.)



“’ppreciate it if you’d keep my whereabouts quiet for awhile,” Spike muttered a little later, changing the subject. Not that the Slayer would ask, Spike told himself. Had to care to ask, didn’t she? He swallowed, opening his mouth and forcing sound out. “In case the bit asks or somthin’. Just feel like I need a little time to myself. But I want Dawn to know I’ll be comin’ back. I know I already mentioned it, but I want you to give me your word you’ll tell her. I don’t want her worryin’. An’ she will.”

His girl loved him. That he knew. He could feel it all the time. Like a little light glowing inside him. Aside from some words spoken to him in a vision, ‘You’re what I need, what Dawn needs, and I’m counting on you, to protect her’, it had been one of the only things keeping him going through most of the long summer of Buffy’s death. That and his promise.

Still was, sometimes.

Dawn.

She matters.

She’s the only thing that matters.

The only thing that can.

“I’ll keep your confidence, and I give you my word that I’ll speak to Dawn. You might consider giving her a call yourself, though. My guess is that she’ll want to hear from you.”

Spike didn’t comment, his eyes remote.

Giles drew a deep breath. “I have a favor of my own to ask,” he began. He waited until Spike seemed to be paying attention. “Not long ago, I asked you if you would be willing to write your memoirs for me. You refused. I’m asking again.”

Spike’s eyes met his. The vampire looked exhausted suddenly, as if all the, er, life had drained out of him. All of the energy. As if he’d been pushing himself, and pushing, and pushing, and had just suddenly, completely, lost the ability to continue on for one minute longer. Giles had never seen him like that, not even after Glory had beaten him to a bloody pulp. Spike had always seemed so alive to Giles. Annoyingly alive, usually. He’d always seemed to exude some – something. Even when he was still and silent. Certainly, he was always impossible to ignore or overlook. But tonight, he seemed different. Lifeless. Empty. Almost like he’d been when they’d first found him after Buffy’s death. He was moving and talking, but his eyes held the same nothingness they;d held then. Empty, deadened pools of blue.

Perhaps the battery of tests he’s been subjected to earlier had worn him out.

Oh, don’t be daft, Giles, old man. It doesn’t have a bloody thing to do with the tests, and you know it.

Spike shrugged, and let his eyes drift away, gazing blankly out into the open areas of the pub.

“Whatever you want, Rupert,” he said quietly. “I’ll do what I can.”

Giles stared at him, feeling genuine concern for his well-being; for his safety. For a moment, he contemplated asking Angel to keep a close eye on the younger vampire, but he soon let the idea go. There was no love lost between the two, and the situation would be very difficult, not to mention damned unpleasant, to try to explain to Angel. Giles frowned, wondering why Spike was staying with the other vampire.

“Thank you.” He paused. “Do you need some alternative place to stay?”

Spike gave no sign of having heard him.

Giles made a decision and straightened his shoulders.

“I have another favor to ask, as well,” he told the blond. Ignoring the fact that Spike was not acknowledging him, Giles went on. “It’s about you, Spike. About your future.”

Spike’s head, which had fallen onto the back of the booth, rolled toward him. “What is it?”

“I don’t know what will happen between you and Buffy when you eventually return to Sunnydale. But, for some time now, I’ve watched you change. I’ve watched you grow, and begin to become something new, something beyond what I’ve always been taught a vampire could be. I hope – I hope you’ll continue on that journey – to become this new being.

“And I hope you’ll do so regardless of Buffy’s feelings, or the decisions she makes. I don’t know what Buffy feels, but I do know that this much is true: ‘You can’t make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved; the rest is up to the person to realize your worth.’ I’m not suggesting that Buffy doesn’t love you, or that she does. I don’t know, though I do believe she feels something for you.” He was relatively certain his Slayer had very strong feelings for the vampire. Whether they were, or could ever be, what Spike wanted, he hadn’t a clue. Buffy certainly hadn’t said anything to him, and, in fact, he didn’t think Buffy was even aware that he knew of the nature of her relationship with the vampire. But her actions and behaviors since she’d been resurrected had made him believe his Slayer felt some – connection – to Spike. “All you can do, Spike, is keep striving to be something better – something more – than what you were. What happens after that is up to some other power. You can only control you.

Spike looked at Giles. His mouth opened once or twice before he spoke. “You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I’m no longer evil, Watcher.”

Giles raised his brows, refusing to dignify Spike’s words with a verbal reply. They’d spoken of this before, and Spike knew perfectly well how Giles felt about the subject. He was making every effort to judge Spike on his current actions. And, aside from witnessing him nicking cigarettes more than once, he hadn’t seen him do anything evil for months now. Though it might deeply offend his own environmentalist tendencies, it was rather a stretch to fit litterbug into the category of ‘evil’.

Spike shifted a little uncomfortably under the Watcher’s steady regard. “And do you have one of these pithy little quotes handy for every occasion?” he asked.

Missing the vampire’s annoyance entirely, Giles looked pleased that he had noticed. He touched the knot of his tie. “Yes, actually.”

The vampire rolled his eyes, and took a final swallow of his beer. Without another word, he rose and left. Giles watched him go out the door. He may be willing to give Spike the benefit of the doubt when it came to his evilness, but his manners remained quite often utterly deplorable. As was often the case, Spike had avoided a serious discussion by ignoring most of what Giles had said. Or at least pretending to ignore it. Long ago, Giles had begun to understand that Spike had a habit of not commenting on things said that touched the deepest places within him.

Giles contemplates that Spike was not much of a quitter, he’d always been remarkable tenacious – obnoxiously so, in some cases. and the fact that he’d taken off for LA, PLUS the fact that he wasn’t coming right back – well, Giles thought it had a lot to do with Spike’s lingering depression. They’d never actually talked about it, but there was no doubt in Giles’ mind that spike had been suffering some pretty severe depression since Buffy’s death – even perhaps in some forms since the Initiative chip had been implanted.

Buffy’s return had not suddenly made Spike’s depression disappear. That’s not how depression worked, something he knew well from personal experience. He had to admit he didn’t understand vampire physiology at all. There were so many contradictory things. No breath, Angel had told Xander, explaining why he couldn’t give Buffy mouth to mouth resuscitation when she drowned in The Master’s lair. Yet both Angel and Spike breathed all the time when they fought, and Spike certainly needed breath to smoke his unending cigarettes. Not to mention air was required to speak. No blood circulating, which seemed to have no effect on their ability to, er, engage in sexual relations. He let his mind drift to how much simpler his life would have been if that hadn’t been the case.

And how much duller, another part of his mind whispered. Ripper peeking through.

He hadn’t meant that! Giles assured himself. He had no interest in Spike’s and Angel’s, er, sexual activities. But their ability to love Buffy… Now that, he admitted, he found fascinating. He’d mused on it many times – the unlikelihood of two vampires both loving his Slayer so deeply. And Spike, without even the benefit of a soul…

expand

Spike also still felt guilt. And now he worried constantly about how to protect b & d – something he’d never had to contemplate before – he was having a lot of trouble dealing with that. He knew spike felt he had failed them both that night at the tower, and was determined not to fail them again. If spike said casually over chess “I’m having some trouble concentrating lately.” He could pretty safely translate that into. “My mind is spinning all the time, and I have no idea what’s real and what’s not” or, depending on the tone and body language, it could even be translated to: even “I’m fairly certain I’m going completely bonkers, but I’m not sure how to test myself for that.” He was getting fairly good at translating spike to giles

Also Giles is aware that Spike gets almost NO sleep. Giles reminded himself that Spike had been taking care of himself for a long time. Chances were he had a fairly good handle on it. Still…

Giles sighed and finished his own beer. His mind went to Buffy, and his brow creased in concern.



Continued in Chapter Two

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