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Dead Men Walking - 3

Even Spike, who had lived in some extremely elegant places in his time, was impressed with the sweeping grandeur of the council's country headquarters. Sequestered at the beginning of the Second World War on the pretext of providing a base from which to study the occult interests of the Nazi party, it had never reverted to its former occupancy. Giles showed his identification card, and the gatekeeper opened the imposing iron gates. They swept up the long gravel drive and parked to one side of the old Tudor manor. Giles noted with some amusement that Spike was glancing nervously up at the windows.

'Is William the Bloody having second thoughts about his plan?'

'Dunno. Spike fucking is.'

'Come on, don't speak unless spoken to, and stick to the story. We'll be okay. It'll be quiet here this time of year. Most of them will be away on field study.'

Giles handed Spike his bag. 'One of my research assistant's jobs.'

Spike laughed and took it. 'Just watch it, Giles… there's a limit to what I'll do to see this document.'

Giles raised his eyebrows in a rather good imitation of Spike's most irritating look and preceded him towards the front doors. Spike trailed after, in what he hoped was a humble and obsequious manner.

Having been warned by the gatekeeper, the house servant was waiting to let them in. He greeted Giles in a familiar but respectful way. Spike noted with interest that Giles was someone of influence here and commanded respect.

'Your usual rooms, Sir?'

'Err, no… I have my research assistant with me tonight, perhaps one of the adjoining suites?'

'Very good, Sir.' The old man eyed Spike with evident distaste. 'Your name, Sir?'


'For my records, Sir, your name?'

Spike glanced at Giles who looked back at him with a slight shake of his head, begging him silently not to say Spike. 'Harris, William Harris.'

'Thank you, Sir. This way, please.'

They were shown to two elegant, adjoining suites on the first floor. They waited until they were alone, then Spike immediately ripped off his tie, undid his top button, shed his jacket, and kicked off his shoes. 'Fuck, that's better.'

'Not going to dinner then, Spike?'

'Do you think they serve my kind of food?'

'Oh, sorry, no. Oh… what are you going to do for food this weekend?'

Spike had his back to Giles who didn't see the small, evil grin that slid across the vampire's face and replied casually, 'Haven't really thought about it… I'll come up with something; I always do.'

'Well, I'm going to bathe and change and catch a late dinner. We can't do anything else until the morning. What are you going to do?'

'Guess I'll go to bed then.'

Giles did not come back up to the room until much later that night. He was quite drunk, having met a number of old cronies he had not seen since before he went to the States. They had reminisced, gossiped, and drank rather a lot of port. He got undressed, put on his pyjamas, and lay gratefully in the centre of the large bed. His head was swimming in opposite directions to the spinning of the room, but he was not so drunk that he didn't feel the edge of the mattress depress as someone climbed on. He opened his eyes to find Spike, dressed only in his familiar old jeans, sitting quietly looking at him.

Giles tired to sit up, but the bed lurched alarmingly, so he lay back down. 'Go away, Spike. I'm in no mood to debate meta… met… stuff with you.'

'I don't want to talk either, Rupert.'

'Don't call me that. It's quite alarming, coming from you. What do you want?'

'I'm hungry.'

It took Giles a moment to get this. He was thinking about the exceptionally good dinner he had just had when the import of Spike's words hit him. Even the disturbing spinning couldn't keep him lying on the bed. He flung himself off and staggered over behind the couch. 'Stay away from me, Spike. And hey! What about your chip?'

Spike slid seductively after him, hopped over the couch and sat on its back with his bare feet on the cushions. 'It's still there, Giles, don't worry. I can't lay one tiny fang on you… unless you ask me to.'

Giles snorted. 'And that's not going to happen, I can assure you.'

'Why not? You've never even tried it, have you? Some people crave it, Giles. You remember the fat farm boy, don't you? He loved it, couldn't get enough of it.'

'And he tortured and dismembered demons for fun. I don't think anything Riley did is going to impress me.' Giles sat down as far away from Spike as he could, but, given it was a love seat, not as far as he would have liked.

Spike slid off the back of the couch so he sat cross-legged, facing him. 'What about Buffy then?'

Giles gave him a furious look and felt himself sobering up rapidly. 'Don't even try that, Spike. There is no way I would believe that Buffy ever let you feed from her.'

'Why not?'

'For goodness sake, Spike; you are a vampire. For all our talk earlier, Buffy will always see you as a vampire. She would never let a vampire feed from her.'

'She let Angel.'

'That was different; she was in love with Angel; she was….'

'Have you ever thought it might have been the other way around?'

Giles began to see where Spike was going and refused to be drawn, but Spike continued in his low, seductive voice. 'Maybe it was the blood loss she loved; the vampire was just… convenient.'

'No! That's quite obscene. And even it it's true, it doesn't change my mind. I am not going to let you bite me.'

'I don't have to, Giles.' Spike slid closer to him on the couch until his knee was almost touching Giles' thigh. 'I didn't bite Buffy - she used this, so I wouldn't hurt her.' Spike held out a tiny surgeon's knife. It glittered dully in the soft light. 'A tiny nick, wherever she wanted… and she always kept that a surprise for me. It's so easy, Giles. Look, just there, on your hand, see?' Spike feathered the blade over Giles' palm. He was right, there was no pain at all, but a tiny, bright line of red bubbled out. The smell hit Spike like the smell of water on arid plains, but he did not let on. Instead, he took Giles' hand in his and brought it slowly to his lips. When the hand was merely inches away, he stopped and raised his eyes to Giles in supplication. Giles felt as if this were a dream, as if he was having a bad dream brought on by too much rich food and port… but was it bad? Didn't he want to feel that tongue lick across his palm? Why didn't Spike just raise the hand to his lips?

Giles closed the gap between his bleeding hand and Spike's mouth, and Spike took this tiny surrender as all the encouragement he needed. He placed his whole mouth over the seductive wound and explored it with his tongue. There was not enough blood there to satisfy a vampire flea, but it was a good start. He heard Giles' slight gasp of pleasure as his cool tongue ran over the cut. Spike smiled inwardly; he had never known anyone resist him after this. He delicately placed the blade in Giles' other hand and swirled his tongue in circles on the bleeding one. He spoke into the soft flesh 'Where will you cut for me, Giles? I've been good, haven't I? I brought you my books; I've showed you good stuff… I need you, Giles, I want to taste you, please?'

Giles looked from the bowed, blond head, to the tiny knife. He held it in his fingers and looked at the faint trace of blood already on the blade. Spike's hand slid up the arm he was holding, his thumb working over the pulse point. Giles put his head back slightly at the unexpectedly erotic feel of Spike's cool hands. It was a very long time since he had felt any kind of sensual touch, and that it should be Spike's quite overwhelmed him. Spike's tongue left the tiny cut and followed his hand up the pale arm. He teased Giles with blunt human teeth, taking a pinch of the white flesh on Giles' inner arm and nibbling it. Giles hissed and tired to pull his arm away, but that only made Spike bow further and use his teeth on Giles' thigh. The thin cotton pyjamas seemed no defence against this seductive treatment. Giles saw the front of his trousers tent slightly as his penis stirred from its distressing inactivity. He put both hands to Spike's head and tried to push him off, but as he did so, the blade of the scalpel caught Spike across the temple, and a bright arc of blood spurted out.

Spike put a hand in wonder to his head and sat up. Giles looked aghast at the knife, and then at Spike. 'Oh my God, I'm so sorry, Spike… it slipped….'

He leant forward to inspect the damage to Spike's already wounded face but, instead, he found a pair of cool lips being pressed to his.

Later, Giles could not decide whether what happened was caused by his own lust, or by his guilt at having further injured Spike.

When Spike's mouth opened against his mouth, and Spike's tongue slipped in to find his tongue, Giles felt a jolt of desire radiate out from deep within his balls. His semi-hard penis swelled and throbbed. He felt Spike's hands slide behind his head, felt his lips being pulled harder onto the sweet-tasting mouth. Spike kissed and pulled away, kissed and came back for more, kissed and started to beg in an irresistibly seductive voice. 'Feed me, feed me, feed me… please Giles; I'm so hungry.' The lips brushed over his eyes blinding him to the truth; the mouth played with his ears, blocking them to the lies; the tongue probed his mouth, taking away his ability to say no.

His warm hand was taken lightly in a cool one, and the knife was directed to the pulse point on his throat. 'Please, Giles, you're so warm and sweet. Giles, please…' and the cool hand pressed the metal to the thin skin before being withdrawn to rely on the power of seduction. It was so easy to press the blade into the hollow of his own throat. If there was pain, it was nothing to the pleasure. Blood flowed, and the blade slipped in his fingers, but it was enough. Spike buried his face into the warm neck and started to feed.

Giles tipped his head back slightly to rest on the back of the couch. The room spun sickeningly around him, and he almost pulled away and put an end to this obscenity, but then he heard a sound that made him tighten his arms around Spike and pull him closer. As the warm blood flowed down his throat, Spike let out an unconscious groan of pure, unadulterated, sensual pleasure. No one had ever made that sound over Giles' body before, and he felt profoundly grateful that he had heard it now.

He was even more grateful that he had not stopped Spike when he felt a cool hand slip into the front of his pyjamas, seeking out his erection. As he sucked, Spike pulled and worked Giles' swollen shaft. As his tongue eased into the weeping wound, his fingers slipped over the weeping tip. As his teeth opened up the soft edges, his fist gripped the swollen veins. Giles' hands began to massage Spike's hair, moving in time to the fisting. He knew he would not last long. He looked down as best he could over Spike's head and saw, with a shiver of lust, just the movement of the hand under the soft material. He closed his eyes to picture what that hand would look like on his penis, if in the dark he were to illuminate it with a torch.

The thought made him erupt over Spike's hand. The warm sperm cascaded over the cool skin, and Giles heard once more the intense sexual moaning that Spike had made earlier over his blood. Spike's mouth increased its urgency on Giles' neck, as if he knew that the sperm signalled the end of all this delight. He moved his hand down to fondle Giles' balls in desperation… anything to keep him distracted and compliant, but Giles was not fooled now. Released from his brain-numbing erection, he knew he had given Spike enough that night. He pushed him effortlessly away from his neck. The bloodied vampire just looked at him ruefully and gave a slight nod of agreement. Giles would have stood up, but it was a bit awkward given that Spike still cupped his balls firmly in his hand. Spike twitched up his eyebrow and gave a slight laugh, but removed his hand. Giles didn't know whether to be shocked or aroused when Spike put the hand to his mouth and tasted the salty fluid he found there. He opted for disgusted instead, pushing himself off the couch and back over to the bed. He crawled under the covers and curled into a ball. He was hoping that the whole ghastly incident would prove to be a dream in the morning. That when he looked in the mirror tomorrow, his neck would be smooth and unbroken. The fantasy lasted about a minute: the minute between Spike slipping off his jeans and sliding under the covers to join him.

Giles sat up. 'No. I utterly draw the line at this, Spike.'

Spike stretched his arms above his head. Giles almost groaned at the lithe, muscled body next to him. There was a time when such a body had been the focus of all his adolescent fantasies. That body was here now, and he was trying to turn it away.

'Just to sleep, Giles. I don't like sleeping alone. One hundred and thirty years is a long time to get used to someone sleeping next to you.' Spike's look was so disingenuous that Giles forgot he had been seduced easily by this clever demon once already that night. He lay down next to Spike and stared at the ceiling.

'I've never shared a bed with someone for more than an individual night or two, and I've never shared with a man.'

'Thanks, luv.'

'For what?'

'You just called me a man.'

Giles laughed. 'No I didn't. I said I'd never shared with a man. Never shared with a demon before either.'

Spike sat up in mock outrage. 'Bastard. I'd hit you if it wouldn't hurt me more than you.'

Sitting up and animated, Spike's body was even more appealing than when the muscles were still. Giles groaned and rolled over, turning his back to Spike. 'If you are going to stay, shut up. Don't snore, and don't do anything else.'

Spike slid down and lay on his side, too. 'Can I just do this?' He put one arm over Giles' waist.

Giles merely grunted his agreement.

'This as well?' He slid his other arm under Giles head, so Giles was lying in the hollow of his shoulder.

No noise indicated Giles' approval, but Spike felt the human's body relax fractionally.

'How about this then?' Spike pulled Giles back into his strong embrace, so all of their bodies were in contact: Spike's legs entwining around Giles', his groin pressed against Giles' backside, and his face buried into the back of Giles' hair.

There was no response, so Spike smiled into the soft hair. 'Watcher?'

'Bloody hell, Spike, what?'

'Is this okay?'

Giles smiled, but Spike couldn't see it. 'Yes. This is okay. Now go to sleep. Humble and obsequious, remember?'

'I remember something about licking.…'


Giles remembered times in his life when he had tried to stay awake all night: times when his mother had promised to look in on him after her return from some social function or other, and in desperation not to miss those rare, beloved kisses, he had forced his tired body not to sleep. He tried it now. He focused on his headache. He focused on the slightly sick feeling in his stomach. He fixed his mind on the throbbing from his neck… but most of all he thought about Spike. He had quite of lot of Spike to think about now. There was Spike's hand on his belly. There was Spike's face against his hair, breathing softly. There were Spike's feet against his leg, and Spike's toenails grazing his ankle… but most of all, there was Spike's sharp, prominent erection against his backside. Again, a thing of fantasy. Giles felt down for the pale hand on his belly and brought it gently into his line of sight. He studied it for a long time. It was just a hand. There was nothing demonic about it. If anything, it was an intensely human looking hand: the nails bitten, the fingers stained with nicotine, and the thumb, once again, decorated with a silver ring. He felt Spike stir lightly against him and gently replaced the hand on his belly. He was tempted to push it lower, to rub it into him again, but didn't want the consequences of where that might take them. Fear had held him captive for over forty years. He did not have the courage to attempt an escape with something as innately desirable as Spike.

He closed his eyes to this self-revelatory thought. This demon was trying to find a soul. Giles felt he might be losing his.

He must have fallen asleep eventually, for he awoke to a low groaning from his cold bed partner. He sat up and groaned, too.

'Fucking hell, watcher… next time you invite me to feed from you… don't bloody go on a bender beforehand. I'm fucking dying here.'

Spike was curled into a ball, holding his head in a childish way. Giles was outraged by Spike's manipulation of the truth. He wanted to defend himself against the lies, but when he shifted in the bed to face Spike he felt the stiff front of his pyjama trousers peel off his skin.

He winced at the disgusting sensation and, with a huff at Spike's turned back, climbed off the bed and went to the bathroom.

When Spike heard the water running for a bath, he turned on his back and folded his arms under his head, his feigned headache gone.

He had woken a few minutes before Giles. He almost cried out at the delightful sensation of being curled around a warm, sleeping human. Giles had not kicked him in his literal or metaphorical balls and gone home to wash. But the instant he felt Giles stirring he feared he might. Spike had no confidence now in his post-shag conversational skills. He had always said the wrong thing, always driven her away, always seemed to remind her she was lying with dead meat.

So he had driven Giles away before he could suffer that rejection.

He listened avidly to the human noises coming from the bathroom. The domestic routines of teeth cleaning and shaving fascinated him.

Giles sank into the water with a deep sigh. He let his mind drift over nothing for a while. Although he had slept, it had been fitful: his heart pounding from the alcohol, his brain composing rejections of Spike's advances that he should have used, but didn't. He couldn't believe it when Spike wandered in a few minutes later and sat on the edge of the tub. When he opened his eyes, Spike was handing him a glass filled with something suspicious and amber.

'I was gonna say..."hair of what bit you"... but given that...' Spike nodded amiably at the wound in Giles' neck. '...I don't think I'd better.'

Giles did not take the drink, the mere smell of it threatened to undo him. 'Err... Spike... I am naked here!'

'Yeah, well, so am I.'

'I noticed.'

Spike stood up and wandered over to the sink. 'I'm not in that though, am I?'

Giles shook his head in a bemused fashion. 'What?'

'In the mirror. I'm not naked in the mirror, cus I'm not even bleedin' there.'

'Oh, God, not again!'

'What?' Spike seemed put out at Giles' soft exclamation.

'No more with the brooding, Spike. Please. Bite me, suck me, fuck me, but please stop with this irritating self-absorption.'

'Rupert Giles! Did you just use the 'f' word?'

'Yes, well, I've been associating with low company recently.'

'Huh. Fuck you, too.' Spike turned back to inspecting his lack of reflection. Giles couldn't stop his eyes travelling over Spike's backside. It was like looking at a Bob Mizer photograph. Spike's flawless skin drew the eye; his muscles begged to be touched. He closed his eyes to the temptation.

'I don't mind you looking, pet.'


'One advantage of not showing up in mirrors... you can see what's happening behind you.'


Before Giles could defend himself, Spike assailed him once more. 'Hey, watcher, you know, if I had clothes on....'

'Even God wishes you did, Spike....'

'Yeah... you're really convincing me there, Giles. But if I did, they'd be invisible, too, wouldn't they?'

'I suppose so; it's not something I've given much thought to....'

'So, if you held my shirt, we'd see it... give it to me… it'd disappear?'

'Yes, again, I suppose so.'

'So, what if I was clothed in you instead...?'

'Bloody hell, Spike! What?' Giles got out of the bath and clutched the bath sheet protectively.

Spike continued his wistful examination of the empty mirror as if Giles had not moved. 'If I was buried deep in your arse, Giles, I'd be sorta wearing you. So would you... poof... disappear, too?' He saw the look of horror on Giles' face and said with emphasis, 'My point being... would that mean you'd become demonic, too... cus we couldn't see you either?'

Giles started to back away slowly. 'Spike. I am going to dress… in tweeds probably. I am going to go down stairs and have my breakfast. I shall have scrambled eggs, mushrooms, kidneys, and some toast. I will drink copious amounts of tea, and I will read The Times. I will not... let me repeat this... I will not think about you, your disgusting questions, your feeding habits, or your irritating, current self-loathing. I will think happy thoughts, and when I have finished my breakfast - in about two hours - I will send for you. You, Mr William Harris, will be dressed smartly, and be silent and obsequious. Then, and only then, will I pull the necessary strings to have us admitted to the private vaults. Do you understand me?'

'So, you don't wanna put me new theory to the test then?'

Giles planned to take three hours with his breakfast, just to punish Spike. He hoped he was bored and hungry, so was more than a little annoyed to see him arrive in the dining room half an hour later, dressed as instructed, his hair slicked back and shining, and his face set into what Spike clearly thought was a obsequious smile. That was the first to go. It only lasted until he spotted Giles and came swaggering over to the refectory style table.

'Good morning, Rupert.' He actually kept a straight face as he said this, sat down, and tucked his napkin in.

One or two of the younger members looked up and nodded amiably at him; the older ones huffed noticeably and shook their newspapers.

Spike raised his eyes questioningly to Giles. Giles leant over and whispered in his ear, 'You don't speak at breakfast. Sorry... old tradition.'

Spike whispered back, intrigued, 'What if you wanna ask someone for something?'

Giles nodded, 'That's allowed.'

Fatal reply.

Spike had the whole table engaged in passing him things for the rest of the meal. The poor retired watchers using the council headquarters as a free rest home had never been more used and abused. Times newspapers did not get read. Telegraph crosswords did not get completed. Giles would have been horrified, or at least stopped the torture, but for the warm, amusing, conspiratorial glances Spike gave him every time he leant over one more time to tap a victim on the shoulder or cough lightly - 'Excuse me, but could you....' 'Oh, so sorry, would you....' 'Very grateful if you could just pass....'

At last, he drove everyone from the room. He laughed as the last old duffer shuffled out, shaking his paper in outrage. He turned to Giles and leant back in his chair, 'I say, old chap, could you just....'

Giles kicked him none too lightly in the shins. 'Ow!'

'Serves you right. They are old, respected members of the council, Spike. You had them practically buttering your toast for you!'

'Yeah, well. I should have gone into game face. That'd spice up their kippers a bit. Come on, eat up, Giles... gorge that fat tummy of yours... I wanna get started.'

'I am not fat.'

'You weren't the one with a hand on that soft belly all night.'

They looked at each other across the table, both surprised at realising how much they had enjoyed sharing the bed together.

Spike tipped his head on one side as he looked at Giles, and Giles felt a very real tingle of desire flood through his bowels. He tried to remember Spike in some of his less endearing moments and was disgusted to realise that he was starting to see his whole history with this creature through rose-tinted spectacles.

The sooner Spike had his answers and they left, the better.

Getting access to the inner, private libraries was surprisingly easy. Using the pretext of the book the council had commissioned him to write, Giles and Spike followed the librarian through several locked doors to a comfortable looking cubbyhole lined by files, books, and computers.

'Would you like some tea, Sir?'

Giles indicated that they would, and the old man shuffled off. Spike pouted. 'How come you never fetched tea for us, librarian?'

'I never called you Sir, either. Now shut up, and let's find the stuff we want.'

They searched through the most recent research files, pausing only when the tea arrived. It didn't take them long to find the document titled, 'Shattering the Glass Snake: Angelus, the Souled Vampire. Implications and Expectations.'

'What the bleedin' hell does that mean?'

'I have no idea. It's probably just a spurious way to make it seem more important and pry out a bit more money from the council.'

Spike glanced over at Giles' jealous expression and smiled. 'Maybe it's Freudian.'

Giles looked surprised at Spike's comment and busied himself reading the digest to decide where they would find the information they sought.

It became very quiet in the reading room. Giles studied. Spike didn't.

After a couple of hours, Spike could stand it no longer. 'Here, give me a bit. I'd rather die of boredom reading the shit than watching you read it.'

So they studied together. Spike read through a brief and typically inaccurate description of Angelus' life before his turning by Darla. Spike had heard the real story from the bitchqueen herself and laughed at this watered-down version. He skimmed over the chapters on Angelus' life before he met and turned....

William the Bloody. He made his first appearance in the paper. Although he'd seen his name many times in Giles' books, he never quite got over the shock of realising that he had become a subject of others' studies... but this was a new reaction. It was as if he were reading about someone else. For the first time, he found it impossible to associate the words and actions of this long-repressed demon with himself. He read on, glancing at Giles every so often to see if he was having more luck.

'Did you know that the majority of the world's religions believe in reincarnation, Spike?'

'So what?'

'So... there is no reason to suppose that the soul is linked to its own, individual body... it might be separate and pass from corporeal body to corporeal body.'

'So, Angel may not have his own soul, but someone else's.'

'Well, yes, but I was thinking more in terms of your increasing humanity.'

Spike raised his eyebrows in surprise and made no reply directly to this, but a few moments later said, 'It's only crosses and bibles and stuff I can't touch.'

Giles looked up sharply. 'What?'

Spike didn't catch his eye but continued to look down at the paper he was reading. 'Only Christian images burn me, Giles.'

This was something Giles had always wanted to know about vampires but had strangely never seen discussed in any of his books. What Spike told him was so overwhelming, and made such a shocking commentary on other religions that he dared not pursue the thought further.

At last, they both pushed away their papers and looked tiredly at each other. 'No luck?'

'Not a bleedin' thing. I don't think it's here, Giles. This is not the whole research. No conclusions, no fucking... implications or expectations.'

'No, I think you're right. I was naive to think we would get access to it that easily.'

'So think, watcher. Stop thinking about that shag you're getting tonight, and think about where the rest of this bloody paper is.'

It was just bad timing that the old librarian shuffled in at that exact moment, but fortunate that he was a librarian and therefore focused on the second and not the first part of Spike's comment.

'What paper would that be then, Sir.'

Giles thought, "In for a penny, in for a pound," tried not to think "Shag?!" and replied, 'Do you by any chance know where the rest of this document is?'

'Indeed I do, Sir.'

The long irritating pause annoyed even Giles. 'Err, where is it then?'

'Ah. Mr Hawkins has it, Sir. He signed it out yesterday.'

Spike flung the useless papers away from him. 'Oh, fucking hell!'

'Sir, you can't swear in here. This is a library!'

Giles started packing away their stuff and gave the old man an apologetic look. He knew Spike's behaviour had undermined his status with the librarian, and tried to regain ground. 'When is he returning it; do you know?'

'Why don't you ask him yourself? He is reading it next door in the main library.'

Spike stood up, but Giles put a restraining hand on his arm. He had not missed the librarian's flippant tone and knew they still needed his cooperation.

They waited until he left, and Giles said quite sharply to Spike, 'You are a fool sometimes, Spike. Why can't you keep your mouth shut?'

'Sorry.' Spike tried to look abashed and laid his hand over Giles'. 'I just want to know, Giles. I need to know.'

'Stop using your undoubted charms on me, Spike. I'm becoming immune... or if not immune, at least cautious. Take your hand off, please.'

Spike gave him a sweet smile. 'It's your hand on me really, mate.'

Giles glared and walked stiffly out, trying to maintain the last shreds of his dignity. He decided not to try and have the last word with Spike any more. It only made him look foolish and undermined his position. If Giles' thoughts circled seductively back to his position on the couch the previous night, he did not let this show.

They hovered at the edge of the main library. A distinguished looking man was peering at some papers laid on the table in front of him. The room was gloomy, lit only from the green-shaded reading lamps on the desks. Giles leant towards Spike's ear. 'Any ideas? Anything that doesn't involve violence of some kind?'

He did not really expect any useful reply, so was surprised when Spike spun on his heel, grabbed his arm and pulled him back behind one of the large stacks.

Spike pushed him against the shelves and leant into him. 'How good an actor are you, Giles?'

Giles could feel the whole of Spike's lean, hard body pressed into him. He could smell his freshly washed hair and the faint lingering scent of tobacco on his clothes. He looked at Spike's lips, still just parted from his question. He looked up into the amused eyes. He pushed Spike off with annoyance and straightened his metaphorical tweeds. 'What do you mean?'

Spike grinned, reached behind him, and said cheerfully, 'Fire, Giles, we're on fire!' He smashed his fist through the glass panel of the fire alarm and pressed the button. Spike made small shooing motions with his hands. 'Err... maybe lead everyone to safety, Giles. Sans papers, of course.'

'Oh, right, I see.' Giles came out from behind the stack to a sea of bewildered faces. 'Come on everyone follow me... no! No time to gather papers... everyone out. They'll be quite safe; the fire is only in the kitchen. Come on... follow me.'

Some time later, explanations glossed over, and gossip indulged in about fires during the Blitz, Giles made his way back to his bedroom. As he expected, Spike was already there. The papers were scattered over the bed, but Spike seemed to have finished reading them. He was standing with his back to the room, arms folded at the window, as if he could actually see through the curtains that blocked his view of the sunny afternoon.

'Well? Are they what we wanted... did you find what you are looking for? What's in here about you then... or your soul, or whatever it is we are trying to find out....' Giles rambled on for a while, turning and examining the documents on the bed. He didn't pay much attention to Spike, didn't notice that his head was bowed, his shoulders shaking slightly… but he did notice when Spike went into his own room and slammed the door between them. Giles looked up, surprised, thought he had better read it first hand, and made himself comfortable on the bed.

An hour later, and he debated knocking on Spike's door, but decided to take the bull by the horns and just go in anyway. Spike was lying face down on the bed in one of the best imitations of being dead that Giles had ever seen. His arms were folded over his head as if for protection from some assailant Giles could not see. He sat on the edge of the bed and put his hand on one of Spike's.

'I think I shall quit the council, Spike. Some things are just too much to take, aren't they?'

Spike turned over, and Giles could see that he had been crying. Although he knew Spike was a volatile creature, he had not thought him so vulnerable. He longed to take him into his warm embrace and comfort him. He didn't need to - Spike pulled him down and hugged him to his cold, shaking body, for all the world as if Giles were a comforter for a small child. Giles allowed Spike to hold him tightly, relaxed as much as he could into the embrace and, finally, relaxed totally: becoming limp and pliant in the strong hug. He let Spike take his time. It had been a shock to him; he hardly dared think what it had been to Spike.


Spike's question was so vague Giles wondered exactly what it was he was asking. Was he asking why the council were so cruel? Was he asking how they could discover such things and treat them as an academic exercise? Was he asking why no one had thought of these implications before? Or was he asking the question that really needed to be asked: why were the Powers That Be going to make Angel human when they knew that the minute he did, his powerful, all-consuming soul would drive him to insanity and then, almost immediately, to suicide.

Giles didn't have the answer to any of these questions, so just replied gently, 'Life is difficult, Spike. Unlife is difficult, too, I suppose.' He didn't know if this was any comfort to the grieving vampire, but he sensed a slight relaxing in the possessive hold.

'Let's leave this place, Giles, soon as it's dark. I want to go home.'

Giles hoped he meant Bath. Knew that he didn't, and felt the loss acutely.

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