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Eternity's Bright Promise - 3

They'd agreed to meet the following night. Spike utterly refused to go anywhere in Giles' car. Giles refused to risk his life and sanity riding behind Spike on the bike, so a cab had been the compromise. Giles walked over to the cemetery and waited where he'd agreed to meet the vampire. He watched a few people out walking in the warm night air, but did not see Spike. He sat on a bench and watched a young couple hand-in-hand, engrossed in each other. He saw an elderly couple out walking their dog, not engrossed. What was he doing? He was going on a date with Spike: it was ludicrous; it was embarrassing. It was profoundly depressing to be so near yet so far.

Absorbed in his bitter thoughts, Giles watched a young man walking slowly on his own. He seemed out of place and Giles idly wondered, given his beauty, why he was solitary. The stranger stopped and spoke to him. Giles started: Spike! He stood up, trying to hold his jaw closed. Gone was the leather and anything-as-long-as-it's-black look. Gone were the boots and the jewellery. Cream chinos and a chocolate brown linen shirt with dark loafers.… Giles tried not to be too obvious in his pleasure. He just nodded towards the main street and said rather distractedly, 'Cab then?'

Spike spun on his heel to follow and smiled behind the human's back. He was well aware of the extent that the clothes changed his look; he felt different, so knew he must look strange as well. He climbed in beside the watcher, still silent. He glanced surreptitiously at Giles out of the corner of one eye, also pleased with the effort the human had made. Gone were the ageing tweeds: Giles had on a pair of old, faded jeans and a denim shirt, equally faded and rolled up to his elbows.

Spike rubbed his hands nervously on his thighs. The thought that he was looking for someone tall, strong and interesting lurked confusingly in his mind as he looked at the watcher's tanned forearms. He looked down at his pale hands; glad he'd buttoned his shirt down to cover his dead arms. He'd never felt such hatred for what he was and gritted his teeth, looking out of the side window.

Giles seemed to sense his mood, for he said quietly, 'I think you'll pass muster, Spike, don't worry.'

Spike turned to him. 'Yeah, they're gonna fall at me feet, mate. Know that.'

Giles chuckled. 'These tall, strong, interesting women.'

''Xactly. So, where we going?'

Giles gave an evil chuckle. 'To the museum.'

Spike gave him a furious look. 'Don't take the piss with me, mate; this is serious, ya know?'

Giles shook his head. 'It is. I agree. There's an exhibition opening at the museum; I've been invited… with guest. So I'm taking… my brother to free food, drinks and intellectual company for the night.'

'Oh, fucking hell, mate, what am I gonna talk to clever people about all night? My intellectual stimulation recently ain't extended beyond helping Harris find 'phallus' in the dictionary. Should 'ave left him looking in 'f', but you had to take pity like.'

Giles chuckled. 'I think you'll be okay, Spike. The exhibition is called….' He glanced sideward, not wanting to miss the reaction. 'Life and Times of a Victorian Gentleman.' I don't know why, I just thought you'd find something to talk about.'

Spike looked at him. He took a deep sigh. 'I'm leaving my shag life to someone who thinks a good night out is a bunch of historians in a museum. Great. Fucking great.'

He looked out of the window for a while. 'Tomorrow, I choose where we go, 'k?'

Giles smiled inwardly: he liked the idea of there being a tomorrow.

The opening was surprisingly well attended, and they stood together, wondering where to start when a man peeled off from the crowd and came over to Giles. 'Welcome, Rupert. Glad you could make it.'

Giles nodded and, suddenly, as if he'd steeled himself up to this moment, said, 'Hello, Sam. This is my brother; he's visiting me from home.'

The man nodded enthusiastically and extended a hand to Spike. 'Hi, I'm Sam, as you've just heard.'

The moment drew out, Spike clearly trying to think of a suitable reply. Giles cursed that they had not finalised this last part of the plan. Eventually, Spike smiled and said, 'Hello. I'm William,' and walked away towards the drinks' table.

Like most people at a social event, Giles downed a number of drinks too quickly and soon began to feel the effects of the tongue-loosening liquid. He tried to join conversations but, for some odd reason, found the usual talk boring.

Where was the challenge talking to these predictable people? He looked around for Spike and spotted the blond hair across the room. He made his way slowly towards him, accosted here and there by people who knew him. Eventually, he found the vampire, standing on his own, looking at one of the displays. He stood a little way behind him and wondered why he'd wasted his time on anyone else that night. Spike suddenly said, 'This ain't working.'

Giles stood closer. 'Why not? There are lots of people here: there must be someone you fancy.'

Spike turned, gave him an impenetrable look, and then said rather sadly, 'Maybe. Don't think they fancy me though.'

'Are they blind?' Giles spoke before his brain fully connected. He tried to recover. 'I mean.… To some of these…. Well, they aren't used to….' He gave up and looked slightly annoyed at Spike's amused smile. 'What?'

'Nothing, pet. Only… I'm cheering up slowly. Wanna skip and find a nice, cosy drinking hole somewhere?'

'We can't leave: it would be impolite.'

'Uh huh, impolite. I ain't been that for a while. Hundred years at least.'

Giles laughed. 'Maybe you should drop that into the conversation and see the reaction.'

Spike gave a small grin. 'Tell 'em their exhibits are crap as well, shall I?'

'Err… crap. That's your considered opinion on this world-renowned exhibition, is it?'

Spike's grin spread. 'Yep. Crap.'

'Anything in particular that gets that damning write up?'

Spike suddenly took a small pinch of Giles' sleeve and, walking backward, led him into a small adjoining room. Giles looked down at the pale, strong hand holding him and felt a distinct trickle run down his spine and lodge in the small of his back. Something about being led…. Something about following…. Something about the small, empty room…. He wanted….

Spike swung him around and, standing close behind, pointed to a large bed in a room tableau. 'Crap, see?'

Giles smiled and wanted to lean back a little against the vampire. 'Not really, just what am I supposed to be looking at?'

Spike came in closer. His chin was almost resting on Giles' shoulder. 'Don't you get it? Look, Rupert, look at the bed and the furniture and the floor - everything, really.'

Giles shook his head slightly: not thinking about the room, not thinking about furniture or floors…. Thinking instead about the coolness pressing against his body, a soft ironic voice in his ear, and something (at last) that relieved the boredom. He managed a small, amused 'Tell me.'

Spike chuckled against his ear, sending frissons of delight down Giles' spine once more. Was this vampire actually flirting with him? 'Clean, luv, it's all so clean. We were a filthy bunch back then.… See, no smog, no smuts, no lice.… Bet there ain't even any fleas in that bed.'

Giles wanted to say "Get in it with me, and we'll see" but knew, as the thought crossed his mind, that he was very drunk. He tried to extricate himself from the vampire's arms, but they were too… enticing. He found himself leaning back more. Spike's arms slipped so that they were around his waist; his chin was on Giles' shoulder. They both felt something was about to happen - that things were not as usual - but before either could comment on it, they were disturbed by some of the other guests wandering in to experience the authenticity of the Victorian bedroom. Giles jerked away, and the mood was broken. Spike stood straight, gave him an unreadable look and made his way back to the drinks-table.

Giles felt cold. Whilst Spike had been leaning on him, whilst the cold flesh had been pressed to his face, he'd felt hot. Now, left to the heat of the small room, a cold sense of being bereft overcame him. He wanted Spike to warm him some more.

The vampire was clearly getting drunk on free alcohol and eyeing people in the room with a baleful detachment. Giles made his way over and stood beside him. 'Sorry.'

Only a shrug greeted this. Giles felt he had apologised for the wrong thing and not for something Spike clearly thought he ought to be sorry about. He tried another tack. 'That bar seems appealing right now. Fancy leaving?'

Spike didn't even reply, only pushed his way though people to the exit, Giles trailing in his wake. They hit the stifling night air. Giles paused. 'It'll be hard to get a cab.'

Spike began to stride away. 'Let's walk.'

'Err… it's a good few miles back to town.'


'So, it's hot and, unlike you, I'm not cold, and I don't have preternatural strength.' Nevertheless, he began to stride behind Spike, even as he made his objections. He could not deny that it was a beautiful night. He watched Spike's back for a while, noting the way the pale chinos showed off the muscles in his backside and legs. The blond hair caught the streetlights occasionally and seemed to glow. He chuckled at the effect and owned to himself that he was seriously drunk. Spike slowed and allowed the human to catch up.

'This ain't gonna work, Watcher.'

'You didn't give it a fair go, Spike. You didn't mingle, and you didn't even try to talk to anyone.'

'Talked to you, didn't I?'

'That's not the point, is it? I'm not going to.…' For a moment, Giles was completely unable to work out what it was he was not going to do for Spike so trailed off, and covered by removing his glasses and polishing them intently. It was this simple, yet familiarly reassuring act that made him miss the vampires as they began to assemble at the end of the alley. The first he knew, Spike had grabbed his arm and spun him around, heading them back the way they had come. He was about to protest this but, putting his glasses back on, he suddenly saw the vampires that had emerged at other end. He was only aware they were trapped when Spike glanced anxiously over his shoulder. All the vampires - about fifteen in all - were in game face and rough, modern dress. Giles knew from experience that they were, in all probability, fledglings, but that thought did not reassure him.

Spike stood his ground, a hand lightly on Giles' sleeve. He desperately missed his duster: feeling vulnerable dressed as a human in this demonic encounter. He felt Giles tense and knew that the watcher knew they were in some serious shit, but he wondered if the human suspected just how much danger they were actually in.

He nodded at what he took to be the lead vampire. He vaguely recognised him but couldn't recall his name. The vampire nodded back at him and slipped out of game face. 'Spike.'

A cool trickle of relief washed through Giles: Spike was known - his reputation would precede him. The leader nodded toward him. 'What's with taking the food for a walk?'

Spike grinned and slipped into game face himself. He licked over his fangs in a provocative and unmistakable gesture. 'Tenderises 'em, ya know?'

He leant into Giles and licked up the warm, slightly stubbled neck. In a whisper, that was almost as quiet as the lick had been, he said, 'Go with me, pet, and I'll keep you alive.' Giles didn't even hesitate; he gave his ascent with a small murmur at the back of his throat. Spike stood straight, put an arm over Giles' shoulder in a mockingly friendly gesture and began to walk him towards the smaller of the groups. 'So, if you'll 'cuse me and me dinner, boys, we'll be on our way.'

The leader stepped out in front of him. 'What about share and share alike, Spike?'

Spike stopped and laughed. 'Well, ya know, I'd love to. You know me, don't you…?' He looked each one challengingly in the eye, and the effect was not lost on any of them. Some even took a small step back. Satisfied he'd made a small point, Spike continued, 'But this un's special like. See… he's not just food for tonight: I've kept 'im going for weeks.'

There was a clearly bewildered silence from the group as they digested this claim. Spike took the opportunity to lean back to Giles on the pretext of nibbling at his throat to murmur, 'Whatever happens, show no pain.'

Giles frowned slightly. He was feeling the effects of the alcohol less and less, but his mind was still fuzzy and confused. Spike grinned at the vampire blocking their way. 'You should try it, mate. Farming, 'stead of hunting.' He laughed inwardly as he saw this allusion fall on stony ground, but winked and said, 'Pint a day, keeps the doctor away,' and leant back to Giles. He put two fingers to the back of the warm neck and a hand to the frowning forehead and, as if giving artificial resuscitation, neatly tipped back the human's head exposing the throat. Giles groaned in fear and confusion but stifled the moan of pain as Spike's needle-sharp fangs pierced his flesh. An ice-cold tongue flicked over the wound… but then stilled: Giles had made a small noise, and they both knew it was not one of pain. Spike's hesitation was covered by a soft intake of breath from some of their audience as they smelt the blood. Spike recovered swiftly, mashed his face into the small trickle to coat his mouth as much as possible, and bit his own lip to add to the effect.

When he pulled away, he saw he'd impressed them. One or two of the younger ones peeled away, egging each other onto the idea of finding some cattle of their own. A hardcore of older vamps remained though: less convinced, more suspicious they were being played. Spike frowned slightly as he held the staggering human. Suddenly, he laughed and took Giles by the jaw, holding him still. He crushed him to his mouth, forcing Giles' mouth to respond by the urgency of his kiss. He pictured how revolted the watcher would be, imagined the tirade that would follow later, tried to ignore his raging confusion, and just did it.

Giles did react, but his reaction made Spike pull away slightly in surprise… until a hand came up to the back of his neck and captured him again. Spike hissed with confusion: this was not feigned; the watcher was aroused. Giles groaned and opened his mouth wide, allowing his tongue to caress Spike's. Spike pushed Giles back against the wall and rubbed against him for the briefest of time before pulling away and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, as if he'd eaten something particularly messy.

He laughed at the faces of the remaining half-dozen vampires and winked. 'See, not just blood. I got me own little food and fuck farm here. You should try it.' He took Giles around the shoulders once more and pushed through the group, saying casually, 'Seen the slayer tonight? Hear she's pretty pissed 'bout what I did at the bar the other night. Fuck, that girl don't like demons being tortured. What a wuss.' As if on cue, the group peeled away: the knowledge of what had taken place in demon bars around Sunnydale recently, clearly fresh in their minds.

Spike increased their pace until they made it back onto the main street, and then steered Giles into the protection of a street café. He pushed him against a wall and inspected the small, swelling wound, by this simple expedient avoiding having to catch the human's eye. He winced slightly and pursed his lips. 'You're a stoic bugger; I'll give you that, mate. Didn't show a flicker, did you?'

Giles was silent, and Spike couldn't help it; he had to look at him. He stared into the human's eyes and was intrigued by what he briefly saw there, but the watcher veiled his look before Spike could be totally sure what the expression had been.

'Why did you do it?' Giles' voice was ragged.

Spike shrugged and lied. 'Don't think I'd let you get killed an' then 'ave to face the slayer tomorrow, do you? Fuck, I value me nuts more than that, even if they aren't the full quid at the mo.'

'No, Spike. Why did you… kiss me?'

Spike stepped back, confused. Giles knew the vampire was baffled both by the question and the possible answers it gave rise to. He laughed and fished for his cigarettes, lighting up as if that would arm him against the unthinkable.

Giles suddenly pulled away from him and began an unsteady walk down the main street. He stopped after a few moments and leant against a wall. Spike stood a little way behind. 'You 'k?'

'Not really.' Giles' hand went to his throat.

'Come on, pet, were only a little bit, honest. Couldn't afford to hurt you, could I?'

Giles turned; he was beginning to look pale. 'It's the first time, though. Even… even he…. Even Angel didn't feed from me. Other things but.… My God, Spike: you've got my blood inside you.'

Spike stared at him then began to walk angrily away. Giles thought he heard a final, bitter comment, 'I'm a fucking vampire; I bloody know I'm disgusting, okay?'

Neither slept well that night.

Giles lay staring at the streaks of light that travelled across his ceiling as cars moved slowly down the street. He'd blown it. That one simple, shocked comment, misinterpreted by a vampire who hated himself, had blown it. Until then, he'd begun to think - as incredible as it was - that Spike actually liked him. Spike had flirted in the museum for God's sake. He'd kissed him! Giles groaned and flung himself over on his belly in his hot, rumpled bed. Why had he said it like that? He'd not been disgusted at the blood loss; he'd been… what? Shocked? Definitely. Intrigued? Possibly. Men did not exchange bodily fluids, but Spike now had some of his. Even Giles - who was still refusing to engage his considerable brain in any self-analysis - could see that particular thought led inevitably to thoughts of other fluids they could easily exchange. He groaned and turned back to stare once more at the ceiling. Spike's tongue had entered him, and this time he'd been fully conscious and had been given the chance to respond. Had Spike sensed that response? Giles thought that he had but.… Bloody hell, it all came back to that final rejection. Spike had not heard shock or intrigue: he'd heard disgust, and it had only fuelled his own self-loathing. Spike thought he was….

… Disgusting. Spike lay with his hands folded under his head fully dressed on his bed. He was disgusting, and he'd blown it. Every time he thought the watcher was beginning to like him, he was rejected, denied, and cast aside. He'd made the human laugh, flirting with him in the museum, but oh-how-quickly the man had pulled away when they'd been observed: couldn't afford to be seen with something like him. He had felt the human's arousal during the kiss. Initially unsure and confused, Spike was sure of it now. Giles had become aroused because he - Spike, the filthy vampire - had kissed him. Spike chuckled with no amusement at that, because Giles had not been the only one aroused… and how fucking ironic was that? He'd been given arousal at last by someone who found him disgusting. "You've got my blood inside you." Spike dragged a pillow over his head to smother the remembrance of Giles' tone. He may as well have said, "You are beneath me". The pain would have been the same.

Spike went to the shop the next day, but he left his arrival until he was sure all the gang would be there to deflect some of the tension between them. Giles seemed distracted and unusually quiet, even for him. The teenagers glanced at him and then at each other questioningly. Spike sat in his usual place on the ladder, twisting his rings around and around with obsessive concentration. Eventually, he heard a small cough and looked up to find Giles with a stack full of books in his arms, waiting to get past. He shifted over; Giles hesitated for a moment, and then squeezed by. One of the books dropped off; he cursed quietly but continued up to the balcony. Spike picked up the book, also cursed, but stood and followed the watcher up. He handed it over silently.

Giles looked at a spot somewhere on Spike's chest and said, 'Thank you.'

Spike glanced at Giles' high collar, flicked his gaze over the shop to gauge if they'd be overheard, then said hesitantly, 'How's the neck?'

Giles took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with a weary gesture. 'It's bitten, Spike.' He replaced his glasses and looked at Spike for the first time. 'It's bitten, and I'm alive. Thank you.'

Spike fidgeted with the edges of the books on the shelf, seemed to be working up to something, and then said, 'Giles, I can't….'

'Hey! You two yabbering about cricket or something up there?' They broke apart slightly: Xander's words interrupting whatever Spike had been about to say. Giles took the opportunity to say hurriedly, 'Tonight then?'

Spike looked up, surprised. 'You wanna continue this with me?'

Giles looked taken aback in return. 'Of cours, why wouldn't I?'

'Well….' Spike gestured vaguely at Giles' neck. 'I'm a filthy vampire, pet, just like the ones….'

'You always seem remarkably clean to me, Spike, given that you live in a utility-free hole in the ground.'

Spike smiled and knew he'd been forgiven… only he wasn't entirely sure what for.

'Giles!' Once more, plaintive, needy voices drew them back to the here and now. Spike smiled again and just said softly, 'I'll pick you up. It's my fucking problem… my problem fucking, so to speak, so my bike and my choice.'

Giles pursed his lips then nodded.

He spent the rest of the day trying to decide what to wear.

He could hardly shower and dress for the nervous anticipation of hearing a motorbike.

It was pathetic; it was worse than sitting in the cemetery the previous evening. This was anticipation tinted with the memory of Spike's quiet laughter. This was anticipation flavoured with the taste of Spike's tongue on his. This was anticipation informed with the knowledge that part of him was moving around inside Spike, animating him; an infinitesimal blood link.

Naked, however, he caught his reflection in the mirror as he rummaged for something to wear.

He paused.

He took off his glasses but then put them back, tired of the avoidance in that habitual gesture.

He could have no illusions about himself: he was a greying, middle-aged, slightly overweight English librarian in glasses. He studied himself for a while, forcing a healthy sense of perspective into his overwrought anticipation. He mentally placed a naked Spike alongside his own reflection and compared each body carefully. When he was satisfied that he had a realistic view of his own attractiveness, he turned away and put on the first things that came to hand, not caring what they were. Just as he pulled on the T-shirt, he heard the long-awaited engine noise.

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