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Chapter 18

The old man utterly refused to go to hospital. When Giles carried him to the fresh air outside the church, he revived quickly. Some other members of the congregation staggered out; they were also pale, sick, and complaining of headaches. Giles went quickly back into the church and turned off the old heater, kicking it in frustration that they had not thought to buy a more modern one or at least have this one serviced regularly.

As he was about to go back out, he looked up and saw Spike still sitting in the pew. He was smoking, blowing circles of smoke towards the altar. Giles went down the aisle. He was about to go into the pew when Spike turned. Giles reared back, shocked, as the vampire stared back at him from feral yellow eyes, the fangs descended and glinting wetly in the diffused light from the candles.

For some inexplicable reason, Giles found himself glancing wildly around and couldn't help himself saying, 'Spike. For God's sake, not in here.'

Spike only laughed and waved with his cigarette. 'You referring to this, or me?'

Giles hesitated, unwilling to commit to an answer. Spike took his own inference from this silence and stood, stretching slowly. He slipped back into human form, ground his cigarette out on the seat, and said casually, 'You need a hand to carry the old man?'

Aware that he'd failed some fundamental test in this short exchange, Giles shook his head miserably. 'Look, I'm a little distracted just now. The shock. Can we talk about this later? Tonight? Please?'

Spike shrugged, as if this surprised him. 'Course. Why not. Yeah, let's do that.'

Spike's tone set Giles' teeth on edge. He had not seen or felt the darkness, but he felt this like a small knife in his heart. 'What's wrong? I'm sorry about just now, only you shocked me rather.'

Spike pushed past Giles and went out to join the throng of people outside still discussing the strange events in the church. Giles came out and bent once more to his father. Spike watched his hunched back for a moment then turned and walked back on his own to the house.

It was a gloomy group that assembled for dinner that night: Giles' father insisting he was quite well, his mother anxiously worried, Giles strangely deflated and quiet, Spike only there because he sensed these were the last few days, and that soon the game would be over.

Half way through the first course, the old man looked up and said to everyone, 'I think that was rather well received; what do you all think?'

His wife nodded complacently, but murmured that it may have upset one or two of the more elderly regulars. He nodded. 'Can't be helped, my dear. Good God, forty-one, can you believe it? Rupert, you're forty-one; what do you think of that?'

Giles didn't look up but replied, toying with his uneaten food, 'I'm forty, father.'

'Ah. Quite so. Well, glad you're not one of those then, eh?'

Spike scraped his knife slowly across the plate, and the other three looked up at the offensive noise. He smiled pleasantly and, leaning back in his chair, said, 'Least they'll die 'appy. Ever think 'bout that?'

'What? What? Rupert, what did he say?'

'Nothing, father, ignore him. William has an odd sense of humour sometimes.' Giles gave him a furious look, which Spike ignored with practiced ease.

'I'm not bein' funny. I'm deadly serious. Better to die young an' 'appy than live to your age miserable and twisted up inside.'

Giles' father put down his glass of wine and spoke with a patient, yet patronizing tone, 'I don't think at your age, young man, you should have such strong opinions. You can know nothing of death or the suffering it brings.'

Spike began to laugh. 'You'd be surprised, old man.'

Giles looked up, shocked at Spike's tone; Spike still effectively ignored him. 'He'd be happy now, if you'd let him.'

Giles pushed his chair back and made to rise, but his father waved him down. 'We weren't put on this earth to be happy. The sooner your wastrel generation works that out, the better. Julian Forbes knows better than to think he'll gain true happiness by… by… I can't even name what I saw in here last night.'

''S called shagging where I come….' He was hustled out of the room before he could finish his sentence. When they reached the hall, Giles gave him a blow across the face that split Spike's lip and sent him staggering into the wall. He'd never hit anyone so hard, and he held his knuckles, tears springing to his eyes. Spike stood up and wiped at the blood, then sucked on it thoughtfully.

Giles brushed the tears away but, maddeningly, more spilt over and ran down his cheeks. He took his glasses off and rubbed a weary hand over his eyes. 'Whatever else, Spike, they deserve respect.'

Spike looked at him. 'They've got you now, and you'll never break free again.'

'Stop being so melodramatic.'

Spike turned on his heel and went upstairs. He paused outside Giles' room, but went on up to the blue room, and lay on the bed for the first time. He half expected Giles to come up and find him so lay awake listening to creaks on the old floorboards. Dawn came, and he was still alone.

Feeling somewhat remorseful at what he had tried to do at dinner, he went in search of Giles after lunch the next day. He heard his voice in the library and, smiling, pushed open the door. He froze on the threshold. The woman he had spoken to at the party was sitting at the desk with Giles, shaking her head woefully at the books of accounts. Giles looked up, and an embarrassed look passed between the two men. Perhaps if she had not been there, Giles would have capitulated at the slight pout on Spike's face, and Spike would have forgiven Giles when he saw the stressed, tired expression that indicated a night of restless anguish, but she was there, and they could say nothing.

'Spike, err, William, well, Spike then, you remember Camilla.'

'Yeah. 'Ow's the horse?' He went to the armchair by the fire and threw himself in, lighting a cigarette.

'I can't abide secondary smoke, do you mind?' She looked up with the expression of a woman who had never had to ask for anything twice.

Spike looked at the familiar way her hand rested on Giles' and said nonchalantly, 'Nah. I don't,' and continued to smoke.

She jerked back and looked at Giles with astonishment. He shook his head with a small warning gesture and rolled his eyes. Spike caught the look and, furious enough to risk his chip firing off, he stood up and said icily, 'I wanna talk to you. Now. Outside.'

Giles, perhaps aware of Spike's intentions, said carefully, 'Not right now, William. I'm busy. Camilla is helping me come up with a plan of action for the house.'

'Oh good. That's just peachy.' He spun on his heel and went out, came back, and slowly, deliberately ground his cigarette out into the pale fabric of the old chair.

The next day was worse. She was there all day, stayed for lunch, invited herself to tea, and appeared at dinner in a low-cut dress, which showed off all her advantages.

Spike had not bothered to change and appeared in his scruffy jeans and old black T-shirt, swiftly realising that what he had meant to be a small, but significant statement had backfired on him badly. There were other guests, one or two intimate friends of the family who were worried about Henry Giles' health. He debated turning around and just beginning the long walk home at that moment, but something in Giles' expression stopped him. The human was bent close to the woman, trying, with a small laugh, to release her long, very luscious black hair from its entanglement in his cuff link. Spike turned, went into the billiard room and waited.

When Giles eventually came in to refresh drinks, Spike stood in front of the doors, preventing his return.

'What's happening here?'

Giles turned and faced him, pausing in the act of pouring some whisky. As if realising he was in for some trouble, he swallowed the drink himself and coughed faintly. 'I have guests, Spike; let's leave this for later, shall we?'

'Yeah, but later ain't been coming, 'as it? Like me.'

'I was tired and in no mood to cope with your tantrums and histrionics last night. I still haven't forgiven you for being so rude to my father.'

Spike laughed and looked incredulous. 'I was rude? He fucking told me I was an abomination… even if I weren't dead, like, I'd find that just plain rude.' He trailed off; this had sounded better when he'd practiced it in his room earlier.

'He wasn't speaking about you or me; you know that.'

'Only cus you didn't 'ave the balls to tell 'im.'

'I was going to; you know that, but….'

'You weren't. You said you'd tell 'im; you said we'd go.' He paused and looked down at his bitten nails for a moment. 'You said you loved me.'

'This is exactly why I wanted to avoid this conversation. I knew you'd be like this. Can't you see that this is not about you…?'

Spike looked up, furious. 'I know that! Since when has it ever been about me? Don't matter what I want. Don't matter what I need. It never has to you. You wanted some fun; you wanted to find yer manhood or some shit, and you thought my arse was nicely convenient - being dead an' all. Thought I'd never tell; I'd go along with it; I'd be your little toy, 'til you tired of me.'

'This is ridiculous. I refuse to get into this nonsense.'

'There ya go! There ya go! It's always what you want!'

'Don't be bloody ridiculous, Spike; it doesn't matter what I want…' As if suddenly realising the truth of Spike's claim, he trailed off miserably. Instead, he came closer and hissed at the vampire, 'Do you think I really believe any of that rubbish he spouted from the pulpit? Do you think that's what this is about? Oh, God, Spike, give me a little more credit than that will you?'

'Well, what is it then? Why you been 'voiding me? Why am I fucking sleeping alone suddenly, and what's with the fawning on 'er all of a sudden?'

Giles took a step back again. 'I'm not. Anyway, that's beside the point. It not what he said, Spike; it's that he believes it. It's what they believe, all of them, everyone I've ever known, everyone I've ever loved or admired. If I deny what he said, I'm denying all of this. Don't you see? I have to choose. I never came here to do that, but now I do.'

Spike left his stance by the door and came closer. 'I know. I know that. But I've been there, remember? You can't let 'em inform you for the rest of your bloody life. You've got to let the past go and be yourself, find yourself. Like I 'ave.'

Giles suddenly laughed and, as he made the noise, realised that that one small sound had probably just destroyed any hope they had of making this better. 'Do you seriously mean that you think your relationship with that blood-thirsty, evil, psychotic sire of yours is equal to my relationship with my father? My God, you do!'

Spike backed away. He hit the door and fumbled for the handle, but couldn't find it at first. He stumbled through and ran into the hall, then wrenched open the front door, and ran out into the freezing night.

If he could, he would have run all the way back to the warmth of Sunnydale. He couldn't, so he contented himself tearing through the woods. He came to a small clearing and fell to his knees, slipped into his true form once again, and raised his face to the moon, howling a chilling scream out into dark, lifeless space. 'I - am - a - vampire.' A disturbing silence descended on the woods for many miles around, small creatures sensing the demonic forces now present in their quiet places. Spike began to tear at the ground, ripping through the soft leaves and earth with his nails, until he reached harder, frozen earth below. Nails tore and bled, fingers broke as he ripped at roots and flung stones aside but, eventually, it was deep enough. He lay in the shallow grave and scraped the earth back over himself. It filled his mouth and his nose; it went in his eyes, which he kept open until the last moment. When he was completely covered, he folded his arms over his chest and let himself be at rest, as dead and as thoughtless as fate had once intended him to be.

Spike was missing for a week. Guilt crept around the edges of Giles' worry, not least for the fact that, this time, he did not feel like leaving a small note tucked into a bottle. He felt too angry, too confused, and too distracted by the delight and pleasure his parents displayed at Camilla's continual presence in the house. She had offered to stay over and keep them all company, and her offer was leapt upon by Giles' mother. Where once there had been the disturbing, unpleasant, young man, William, now there was this long-standing friend, this fellow landowner, this wealthy, single woman. They raised natural concern at Spike's odd absence and even odder departure, as any hosts would. Eventually, to stop the polite enquires every morning that only added to his guilt, Giles told them that he had heard from him, that he was in London, looking up old friends and family.

Everyone immediately forgot to think about him. Except for Giles. He slept very little, ate even less, but kept all this to himself, as he had no one to discuss it with. He worried about what he would do when he wanted to return to the States, if Spike were not with him. Having brought him, it seemed too odd to just return without him but, increasingly, these thoughts made Giles stop mid-worry and ponder this conviction. Had he brought Spike, or had Spike come along because it was exactly what suited him? When Giles had looked at him in the pub at Stonehenge, he'd seen Spike as something that now belonged to him. Had this been where he failed so badly? Had Spike been right… always what HE wanted, always what HE needed. What had Spike wanted from this? Why had he started it all with that soft promise, 'I can help.'

These thoughts confused Giles too much, and he was always distracted by someone wanting him, things to do, people to see. Spike's absence became something he only got time to think about late at night when he finally got to his room, but then worry and guilt so overwhelmed him that he fell into exhausted confusion in front of the fire, unable to solve any of the problems that seemed to surround him.

One night, he was at his very lowest, tears long since given way to a black despair that he could not surmount when he heard a hesitant tread on the landing outside the room. He grinned and rose from the floor, just waiting.

After a hesitant knock, Camilla came in. She smiled at him, saw him stagger, and came forward boldly, thinking her arrival fortuitous. She eased him down to the rug, threw some more logs on the fire, and began to chat of inconsequential, childhood things that they would both remember. Giles brought himself under control, unwilling to have to explain himself to this woman. She dragged some bedding off and made them a small nest. The associations were so painful, Giles almost moaned.

She kept up the light, artificial chatter until, drawn back into habits of a lifetime, Giles was able to answer. Pleased, she turned the conversation to more important subjects and talked of his father and of the house. A lifetime's knowledge of, and interest in, the family made her easy to talk to and, gradually, unable to unburden what really troubled his heart, Giles was able to share his concerns about everything else that had worried him since coming to England.

Within a couple of hours, he was actually glad she was there. He went down to the kitchen and fetched up some wine and a couple of glasses. They sat cross-legged on the rugs drinking and talking. She actually made him laugh once or twice, and he was very grateful for that sound, thinking it might have been lost for good.

Too tired, too comfortable, and possibly too drunk to ask her to leave, Giles finally lay back on the rug, pulled another over him, and mumbled that he was going to sleep. She sat and watched him for a while with a small smile on her face, then tucked herself under the same rug, and began to plan the redecoration of the house.

When Giles woke, it was still dark, and he had the immediate impression that something had woken him. He could feel Camilla asleep alongside him and grimaced faintly at the thought, moving slightly away before turning over so as not to wake her. He sat up and checked the fire, thinking a log had fallen into the hearth.

He sensed him before he saw him. He turned. His heart nearly stopped. A figure, ghastly and terrifying, stood in the corner of the room where it had appeared to have been for some time.

Giles knew Spike was pale; he hadn't realised he could become translucent. He looked as he had when he'd arrived at his house under a blanket: starving and desperate. He looked worse than that, for now he was filthy, covered in dark mud, his hair sticking straight up and intertwined with leaves and small twigs. He was bleeding all over, deep scratches on his face the only colour, his fingers scabbed with dried blood. He was soaking wet and shaking, deep, bone-penetrating shakes that seemed to belie the fact that the vampire could not feel cold… and he was staring at Giles and his companion on the rug, his eyes wide, very pale, and utterly blank.

Giles rose but, instead of going toward Spike, he went straight to the door and bolted it, and stood in front of it, shaking his head at Spike to tell him that, having come back, he was not going to be allowed to leave again.

Giles could have taken the woman and killed her, just to be able to speak freely to Spike, but he could not. He nodded desperately at the small sitting room. Without losing his blank expression, Spike walked slowly toward it.

Giles grabbed a couple of blankets off the bed, a towel, and reached out of the window for the blood he had been buying all week in the hope Spike would return.

He shut the adjoining door, laid all his supplies on the couch and went to Spike. He pulled the vampire's ripped, soaked T-shirt off and wrapped him in a blanket. He pulled the worst of the debris out of his hair; he gave him the blood and watched with satisfaction as he drank pint after pint.

Eventually, he sat Spike on the sofa and sat down alongside him. 'I almost hate you for doing this. Do you know what I've been through?'

Spike did not reply; he only tipped his head on one side thoughtfully.

Rather floored, Giles coughed slightly and tried to regroup. 'You know that was nothing in there, don't you? Use your senses, Spike; they'll tell you that.'

He still got no response.

Finally, he just passed Spike the towel and said rather lamely, 'You'd better take the rest of that wet stuff off. You still look very pale.'

'I'm going home tonight. I just came to tell you that.'

Giles laughed. 'Don't be silly. How can you?'

Once more, Spike tipped his head on one side thoughtfully. He gave an eerie smile. 'You know nothing 'bout me, do you?'

Giles frowned. 'I know you can't walk on water.'

'Nevertheless, I'm going.' Spike stood and, unbelievably, pulled back on his soaked T-shirt.

Giles began to panic; it was too hard to stop thinking of Spike in human terms. 'Look. Just wait 'til morning, and we'll talk, yes?'

'I gonna take the white shirt, cus I'll need it, but I'm not taking nothing else, 'k?'

'Stop. Spike….' He caught at Spike's sleeve, but received an implacable stare for his troubles.

Finally, Giles resorted to low tactics, but he was desperate and confused, and could not withstand that cold look. 'Spike, for whatever has gone between us until now, please, I'm begging you; don't go tonight like this. Wait until the morning. If you still want to go, I'll buy you a ticket, and you can take the car to the airport. Please. You are chipped now, and you can't travel as you once did.'

Spike looked down at the hand on his arm. He raised his hand to his head, as if he had not thought about his chip for a while and nodded, more to himself than to Giles.

'Okay. You make the calls in the morning.' With that, he passed silently through the bedroom, past the sleeping woman, and back to his own room.

Giles did not go back to the rug but paced the room until the first rays of dawn. When he was sure Spike could not escape the house, he went up to the blue room to confront him. It was empty, the bed not slept in, no sign that anything had occupied the room.

Giles dressed quietly and made his way downstairs. Spike was waiting for him in the hall by the telephone. Giles cursed and bristled angrily. 'You don't trust me?'

Spike shrugged. 'I have no reason to.'

Giles closed the gap between them and crushed Spike into the wall. 'Don't give me that. You know me better than anyone in this world, Spike. Why are you doing this?'

Spike kept his gaze level and replied softly, 'The number's on the pad there. I looked it up.'

Giles gritted his teeth to the provocation and snatched up the receiver. He had a confusing conversation with the booking clerk about nighttime flights but as, he was about to give her the final details, a hand was placed over the mouthpiece. He mumbled apologies to the girl and asked her to hold on. 'What? I'm doing what I told you I'd do. You can bloody fly back to Sunnydale in style.'

'I'm not going to Sunnydale.'

'Oh.' Giles began to replace the handset, this confusing him, but Spike held his arm and said carefully, 'Make it a one way to Los Angeles.'

Giles let the phone drop. 'No.'

Spike shrugged. 'This is why I said I'd go my way: why I didn't wanna tell you.'


'Just forget it human; I'll make my own way there, like I said.'

'No. You can't go to him.'

'This is nothing to do with you.'

Giles was not so angry or confused not to recognise his own words neatly thrown back at him. He knew Spike's assertion was no more true than his had been though, and he was willing to call the vampire on this. 'There's nothing else but me in this, Spike. I am this.'

Spike refused to be drawn. 'Not in the way you think, you ain't. Now, you gonna pay for me to go LA, or you gonna let me earn me trip my way? An' you know I can.'

The threat was implicit, but no less vivid for that. Giles had a hideous vision of toilet floors, grimy back streets, and Spike on his knees in the filth. He knew he was being blackmailed, but it did not change his revolt. He picked up the receiver, redialed, and made the call.

Spike nodded. 'Keys?'

Giles looked at him, astonished. 'You mean this? You're going to just up and go, and leave me here?'

'If you're staying, yeah.'

That subtly changed the blame, but Giles was unwilling to accept this. 'I can't just leave, Spike; you know that.'

Surprisingly, Spike's look softened. 'Yeah, I do. Keys?'

Giles handed them over, and Spike nodded, took them, and went into the library to wait for it to get dark.

Giles trailed in after him and sat watching him read for a while. Finally, he could restrain no longer. 'Angel?'

Spike didn't look up but said quietly, 'Leave Angel out of this.'

'I think he's rather come into it, hasn't he? You brought him in.'

Spike looked up. 'He's been in it from the beginning, just like all this has.' He glanced around the now hated house and returned to his book.

Giles watched the lowered blond hair with increasing anger. 'I'm not about to shag this bloody house, am I?'

'Maybe not. Might shag what's in it though.'

'Ah, I thought you'd come back to her sooner or later. I told you, Spike; that meant nothing….'

'It were just like I described for you, weren't it?' Spike's voice was almost wistful. 'Just like I said you needed, remember?'

'Yes. I do. But it was nothing like that. I was… tired, she came in, and somehow we ended up talking and…. I told you, Spike; use your senses; you know nothing went on.'

Spike nodded. 'I did. But it would 'ave, if I hadn't 'ave been there.'

'Oh fuck off, Spike. You know that's completely untrue; I couldn't have….'

'Not you, her.'

'Oh.' Giles reviewed this mentally and added, rather surprised, 'Really?' He saw Spike's face and said quickly, 'And thank you for that vote of confidence; I think I could have defended my honour.'

Spike gave a small smile and returned to his book. Encouraged, Giles got up and sat next to him on the couch. 'Come on, Spike. Let's drop this, please. You aren't going to leave. We'll go upstairs. We'll….'

'Tell them.'


'You know what. You said you were going to; well do it, today, and I'll stay.'

'You bastard. How can you ask me that? You saw how he was.'

Giles began to rise, but Spike laid a hand on his thigh. 'I'm not askin' you. That's the point, human. I'm not askin' you. Now, leave me be, hey? If you stay here, then I'll go somewhere else, an' you won't find me. I'm dead, remember? I play a bloody mean game of hide-an'-seek.'

To his extreme embarrassment, Giles felt tears prick his eyes and, when he tried to control them, they began to flow freely. 'I don't understand any of this, Spike.'

Spike clenched his jaw and some emotion crept into his eyes at last. 'You will, pet; you will. Now, I'm gonna take meself off, 'til it's dark. Like I said, don't bother to look for me.'

Giles followed him to the hall, tried to restrain him, could not climb the stairs as fast as the vampire, and lost him at the first turn of the landing. He stood dumbfounded, lost and utterly distraught with the house creaking quietly around him.

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