What Lies Within - 10
'You heard. Get out, now… please. I'm going to… explode or something. Just go.'
Spike saw Giles' expression, grabbed his duster and stormed out… but he didn't go far. He lurked in the courtyard until the humans left, then went back and leant nonchalantly on the doorframe, lighting a cigarette. 'Good plan, mate. Don't want them all thinking….'
'Hey! This is just us now. Drop the….'
'GET OUT! How much clearer can I make this? Something is very wrong with me, and I need some space to….'
'Loving me is wrong?'
'I don't love you! How can I? Without a spell? How the hell can I love you? Forget the face and the body - they're just illusions. I should think of you in a Sloth demon's body! Would I love or want you then? No! Course I bloody wouldn't. You are dead! You are a thing! You are the evil I've fought against all my life, but worse! Even if you were human… my God! You're a man! I am not gay! I don't want to do… those things…. The very thought makes me nauseous…. And with you? Something loathsome, repulsive….'
'Shut up. You know what? I don't care. I SO don't care, I'm not even gonna think 'bout any of this again. There… wiped. Gone. Deleted. Bye! Have a nice life. Short, but nice.'
One of them should have left Sunnydale… neither did, and they kept meeting, almost daily - sometimes more than once a day. Attempting to give the impression that nothing was wrong, Giles refused to allow himself the luxury of not going patrolling, or not having Spike included in meetings. Spike, having now deleted the whole incident, couldn't refuse to meet, for there was no reason not to meet because nothing - in his mind - had happened anyway.
They both calmed down, somewhat, from the initial shock of the discovery. When Spike came into the shop the next day, Giles greeted his arrival with nothing more noticeable than complete and utter disinterest. He didn't look up; he didn't acknowledge Spike's presence; he didn't engage in any conversation that Spike might join too; he didn't go near the research table; and he left on some personal errands soon after the vampire's arrival.
That night he patrolled with Buffy and came across Spike fighting some vampires. Buffy waded in, but Giles stood to one side, watched until he was sure Buffy was handling it, and then slipped away into the night.
Spike had no reason to be affected at all, for he had wiped all memory of everything. From his initial entry into the shop to steal some money, through the four months he'd lived in Giles' body, right up to the moment when Giles had called him loathsome - it was all gone. He was somewhat surprised, therefore, a couple of evenings later when Xander turned up at the crypt. Instead of launching into one of his odd, trying-too-hard-to-be-nice-to-the-vampire speeches, he stopped and stared openly at Spike. 'Jeez. Evil one, you've really gotta stop doing…. What are you doing?'
As Spike was only sitting with his feet up, watching telly, he thought this was a bit odd and gave the human a sideward look.
'Spike! You're kinda….' Xander couldn't express what he saw in Spike but waved vaguely at the huge pile of freshly smoked butts on the floor, the empty bottles strewn around the couch, the dishevelled clothes, and the untreated cuts and bruises. 'Ah hah! You're on a bender! I know! Been there, done that, and it never helps. Excessive alcohol not of the good, Spike.'
''S good for me. Piss off, Harris; I'm not in the mood.'
'You've been dumped, haven't you?'
Spike flew at him; his chip fired off at the first light push, and he dropped to one knee, cursing. 'Who the hell told you that? What did you hear?'
'Nothing! I just thought… guy on a bender… must be love! Jesus, Spike, I was only guessing!'
'Well, fuck off! I'm…. I'm just 'aving a bad day ("bad fucking unlife"), an' I don't need it, 'k?'
Xander backed off and went back to the meeting at Buffy's house, stopping on the way to check something out.
In the middle of a conversation about money, he blurted out, 'I'm kinda worried 'bout the evil dead one. He's not picking up the blood and feedin', and I'm thinking he's looking… scary! Just like you did, Giles, remember? Hey! Giles? You okay?'
Buffy turned to Xander. 'He's not feeding?'
'Well, he's not collecting the blood. And he looks… bad, even for Spike… given he's dead an' all.'
Buffy turned to Giles. 'What do you think?'
'I think it's completely irrelevant what some vampire we neither know very well, nor care about at all, does. Can we please get back to the matter in hand?'
'Giles! It is important. Spike not feeding equals Spike going crazy, and crazy vampires are my bag. You need to find out why he's not feeding.'
'All right. I'll look into it.' Giles had no intention of giving it another thought, but he hoped this would shut them up.
'He's in love - been dumped.' Xander added this helpfully, and all the girls immediately looked sympathetic.
Willow said innocently. 'He'll probably come asking for a love-me-again spell, an' it'll be all broken glass, tears and… ow!' She looked down in utter shock at the painful grip on her arm.
'You will not practice magic of any sort on Spike, for Spike, or with Spike. Willow, do you understand that?'
Buffy removed Giles' hand, frowning at the red mark on Willow's wrist. 'I think you need to calm down, Giles.'
'No, Buffy. That's not what I need. I need rank amateurs to stop meddling in my life. Goodnight.'
Concern for Willow, shock at Giles' departure, and general confusion, prevented anyone from wondering why a conversation about Spike's woeful love life had turned so swiftly into one about Giles.
Buffy worked out for herself that Giles would probably not tackle Spike about the feeding, so she did.
The next night when they were patrolling together, she asked quite bluntly. 'Why you doing a childish with the blood, Spike? It's there; it's free - take it!'
As Spike could hardly say, "What blood?" - for he had no memory of any free blood - he mumbled a non-committal reply, hoping she would shut up.
She turned to face him and put a hand on his arm. 'I don't need you crazy, Spike. If you're gonna help me, you need to be focused. Look at you! You had that bruise two days ago; it should have gone by now. Take the blood, Spike, and stop this… whatever this is.'
Spike nodded with a slow blink of his eyes… and at that moment lost the ability to block out the memories.
He turned on his heel and walked away, ignoring her increasingly annoyed shouts. She caught him up. 'Hey! Brood boy! Is this an inherited trait? Look, party at my house - tomorrow night. You come. You be normal. Or I will find out what this is all about.'
'Party? Why do I want to come to a bleeding party?'
'Well, not exactly for her…. It's not her party… but she's been given a hard time by.… She's feeling bad about all that stuff with you and Giles, and I intend to show her that there's no harm done. Be there.'
'No harm done?'
'That's right. Make Willow happy. Got it?'
Spike turned up just after dark. No one answered his knock. He heard voices in the garden and made his way around the house to the back. At first, he thought it was a sacrifice of some sort. A large bonfire illuminated everyone's faces, and at the top of the flames was a figure, just starting to burn. He walked in a daze to stand beside Buffy.
She looked pleased and even said pointedly, 'I'll get you a drink.' Spike nodded. He wanted the drink but didn't want to be left standing by the fire with Giles.
The silence between them when she left was acutely embarrassing. Spike toed the ground, twisted his watch around, fiddled with his rings, lit a cigarette and finally said, 'What's this then? Thought this was for the witch.'
Giles didn't look at him, and when he replied, his voice was utterly calm and utterly neutral. 'I offered. I'm attempting to inculcate some much-needed culture into these American teenagers. It's November the Fifth.'
Giles didn't attempt to hide a patronising tone. 'Guy Fawkes?'
Spike hissed between clenched teeth, 'I know what bleedin' November the Fifth is, wanker.'
Silence fell between them again. Spike wanted to move away but didn't want to give the watcher that much satisfaction. Giles was in charge of the bonfire so felt he ought to stay and watch it. He gave the Guy a particularly vicious poke in its belly with a sick, venting his fury on the helpless form. Spike chuckled. 'You're not a left-footer then?'
'Absolutely not! I'm celebrating England's unbroken Protestant ascendancy over the Roman Church.'
Spike turned and looked at him, blowing a small stream of smoke into his face. 'I think you need to get a life, luv.'
'Don't call me that.'
Spike paused. 'It don't mean nothing… anything. You know that. I wouldn't say it to you if it meant anything.'
Buffy returned with Spike's drink but immediately veered off to help with the cooking. Spike picked up a burning stick and carefully lit another cigarette from its glowing tip. 'You got fireworks then?'
'Huh. We always had really big 'uns - woke everyone up.'
Giles turned to him for the first time. 'Were fireworks common in England in….'
'Not back then. Me and Dru. She loved Bonfire Night. Loved fireworks. And it was amazing what she could do with a rocket… 'fore it was lit like'
'Oh! Good God, Spike! Do you mind?'
'Oh yeah, I forget. Two things you can't talk about in the same breath: sex and demons.'
'Don't be bloody ridiculous. You are just an unpleasant memory of something that happened a long time….'
'Shut up. Just fucking shut up, watcher. I can still smell me on you!'
Giles clenched the stick he was holding so tight, it snapped in two. 'Don't do this, Spike.'
'No - you don't do… this! Why are you doing this?'
'Because! We cannot happen.'
'We already have.'
'I refuse to believe it. I'm sorry. I don't care about bloody dust telling me something. My brain… my heart… tells me something else.'
'No it don't! Or if it does, your dick says something else again.'
'I'm a man. I don't deny I have urges… but not for you. You're sunk on all fronts - "A", you're male; "B", you're a demon, and "C", I don't like you!'
Spike threw his empty bottle viciously into the fire. 'I hope you burn on the bonfire of your own loneliness, tosser.'
'Oh, mature, Spike, mature….' Giles wasted his breath. Spike stormed out of the garden in a swirl of black. He knew he wasn't being very mature, but he wanted something, and he was being denied it for no good reason, and that really really pissed him off!
The rest of Giles' party was ruined. The teenagers enjoyed it, food was eaten, fireworks watched, and fun was had… but Giles stayed close to the fire as if needing the warmth and the comfort of the light. He felt very, very cold, and even the heat of that small beacon did not seem to penetrate or warm his frozen core.
Wondering why he'd bothered to try and be cheerful and normal in the first place, Giles decided a few days later when it was his birthday to keep quiet about the whole event, and have no party at all.
He bought himself a few bottles of something strong and started drinking them fairly early on in the afternoon. He had meant to watch a video, make some calls to old friends in England - have a pleasant, quiet birthday. Getting viciously drunk had not been part of his plan at all, but he'd found the discarded copy of "Netherworld Influences…" as he'd rummaged in the bedroom for his address book. It had been kicked under the bed and an old T-shirt thrown over it. He'd picked them both up. It was Spike's black T-shirt. He'd sat on the edge of the bed, and then gone down and poured himself the first, large whisky.
By his third glass, he'd decided to file the book under 'r' for "reminds me of Spike".
He sat on the sofa, just drinking and thinking. By late evening, he was so drunk he'd started talking to himself and was actually finding himself very good company. He recited the events of the body swap and agreed that it was all pretty ghastly. He got around to talking about the spell, defending himself against accusations by not-really-there Buffy that he was not 'himself.' He looked at her as she perched on the coffee table facing him. She looked too sober, so he rumpled her up a bit and, when he was ready, said conspiratorially, 'Buffy. Spike and I are having a homosexual affair.' He collapsed in giggles, tears rolling down his face. He didn't need to look at imaginary Buffy to see her reaction to that.
He sat up and wound her back to the beginning, so she didn't know, and tried another one. 'Buffy. I am gay. You could have surmised this from my accent and clothes, but you didn't. So, there you go. I'm gay, and I'm having a relationship - nay, I'm sleeping with Spike.'
He didn't like the 'nay'; it just didn't work. Once more, he set Buffy's expression into one of innocent admiration, and said, 'I'm sleeping with Spike…. Well, obviously not sleeping, because we're awake all night having sex. You see, Buffy, I'm gay. Spike isn't; he's dead.' It took him longer to recover from the giggles this time.
He had one last go. He looked at Buffy very seriously and said, 'Buffy. I'm a homosexual necrophiliac.'
'Why don't you just say that love is love and to be valued wherever you find it? She's slept with the dead, too; she'd understand.'
Giles tried to whirl around but was too drunk and only ended up spilling his drink. Spike came in from where he'd apparently been propping up the doorframe for some time. A badly wrapped parcel landed in Giles' lap.
'Happy Birthday. Thought you'd be 'aving a party. Bit sad innit?'
'I felt sad. This suits me just fine, thank you.'
'You gonna open me present then?'
'No. I don't want anything from you.'
'No. I did not.'
'What was all that crap I've just heard then?'
'That was me reminding myself exactly why I'm doing this.'
'Ah…. So you are doing something. Doing what then?'
Spike perched on the coffee table exactly where Giles had placed Buffy. 'Do you know what, Rupert? I think you are so much of a wanker, I'm beginning to question if I want you anymore. Jeez, how would I ever live you down? You're too sad an anorak to take anywhere. So, repress yerself as much as you want, tosser. No need now, though, cus I'm moving on.'
'Huh. From your cast of thousands, no doubt.'
'No, but I ain't so totally unfuckable that I can't find someone.'
Spike did find someone.
He snatched back his gift and tossed it in Giles' trashcan as he left, throwing a bitter comment over his shoulder. 'This'll be wasted on you, mate.' He went to a bar and picked up a wanna-be fledge - good tits, cute arse - and took her home. Promised eternal life if she made the grade, she cleaned and gave good blowjobs. When he was in the mood, he'd flip her over and lay into her from behind - her body too soft to really enjoy, but a reasonable substitute all the same.
Buffy found out about the Giles non-Birthday and, horrified, threw a party at her house. Xander invited Spike, and Spike turned up with Jelly - not her real name, but Spike had been intrigued by the bounciness under her sweater.
She was beautiful; everyone fell into a stunned silence when Spike arrived with her on his arm. He grinned inwardly; pleased by their response and only praying she didn't open her mouth and ruin the illusion. Unfortunately, she did. Without ever taking her eyes off Spike she talked almost non-stop about him: he was perfect; he was loving; he was incredibly good in bed; he was…. Within five minutes of politely asking her how had she had met Spike, Buffy was relatively knowledgeable about what Spike did, thought, and said about almost every conceivable topic.
Spike could hear her voice wherever he went in the room: Spike, Spike, Spike. It grated. He wished he could kill her. He finally went into the kitchen to escape his number-one fan.
Willow rescued Buffy. When he saw the girl by herself, Giles went over and stood in front of her.
'What are you doing?'
She jerked back, a little surprised by his tone. 'Who are you?'
'I'm someone who's puzzled as to why you would date a vampire. I assume you do know that Spike is a vampire?'
She gave him an incredulous look and feigned major surprise. 'Duh! He's going to make me one, too.'
Giles reared back. 'You want to die?'
'Jeez, who are you? No! I want to live forever.'
'Well, I'll never be like him - he's unique - but yeah; I'll get to live forever, and I'll be his Bride of the Darkness.'
'And that is one of his phrases?'
'Well, no, it's mine, but he didn't deny it when I thought of it.'
'And just how is he going to achieve this… marriage from hell?'
'Hey! And what do you mean? Obviously, you don't know anything about vampires!'
'No, I'm beginning to think that myself. So, enlighten me, do.'
'If I'm good enough, he'll bite me, drain me, and feed me, and then we'll be together forever. It's quite simple really.'
'Uh huh. So, he's not told you about his little problem then?'
'Duh. It only happens when he's really tired, and there's ….'
'Told you about his chip. Spike has a government chip in his head that prevents him biting humans. So, what's he going to do? Use a McDonald's straw on you?'
She paused, certainty failing for the first time. Giles almost felt sorry for her. 'You're lying. He….' She could not conjure any evidence to contradict this slander and looked wildly around for her beloved. She stormed off towards the kitchen. Giles listened. There was silence for a moment, then a high-pitched howl of outrage, the sound of something breaking, a low, pained grunt, and then Jelly flung theatrically out of house, still wobbling and still beautiful.
Giles pursed his lips and waited. The room was full, so he doubted Spike would make a scene. He was slightly wary, all the same.
Spike came in slowly and looked at him from across the other side of the room. Giles turned away; he wanted to explore what music Buffy had - see if there was anything he liked. He could feel Spike's glare burrowing into him; his skin itched, as if insects were crawling on it.
The voice was icy and very, very close behind him when it finally came. 'So, you don't want me, but you don't want anyone else to have me either?'
Giles whirled around. He felt utterly justified in what he had done, not at all confused by his motives. 'How old was she, Spike?'
Spike looked unconcerned and lit a cigarette. 'She was old enough to teach me some new tricks.'
'You were keeping her as no more than a bloody sex-slave!' He actually tried to snatch back the phrase he had also used with Spike. How could he have been so stupid? How could he have brought those associations into this room now? Giles saw that Spike had also picked up on the phrase, so finished rather lamely, 'It was all false promises, Spike. Lies.'
Spike didn't seem too sure whether they were talking about now or then, so hedged his bets with a question of his own. 'And she was unhappy, was she?'
'Well, no, but that's beside the point. You lied to her, you….'
'She's unhappy now.'
'She'll get over it. You are missing the point….'
'No, wanker, you are. She had a death wish when I met her. That's why she took up with me - like other people I could mention. So, what do you think she'll do now, Rupert?
'No, you didn't think about that, did you? She'll go back to the demon bar where I found her; she'll find herself a real vampire who'll be only too happy to take her to the dark side. I'd give her….' He glanced at his new watch. 'Oh… about two more hours of life. Well done, Watcher.'
'Oh, God. Where's the bar?'
Spike chuckled, took a deep drag of his cigarette, then tapped the side of his head. 'Funny that… being so low… being so evil… ya know? I just can't remember.'
Giles pushed at his shoulders - hard. 'Tell me!'
Buffy came over. 'Will you two get a room already?'
They both turned to her. 'What?'
'You two! Whatever we're doing, wherever we go, you two are always together… and then there's all this…. Blah! You're worse than sisters!'
Spike backed away, horrified. Giles grabbed his arm. 'Buffy, we've got to….'
Spike wrenched free and disappeared into the dark.
Giles was distraught. The girl's face as he'd told her about Spike played in his mind all night. He couldn't sleep and, at first light, set off himself to do the rounds of some bars.
He was amazed he actually found her. First bar… sitting outside on the step… sobbing her eyes out. It was bright enough to cast her shadow, so he assumed she'd survived longer than the predicted two hours.
She looked up. 'I hate him!'
Giles sighed and sat awkwardly alongside her. 'Yes, I expect you do. He should never have lied to you like that, and as for the stuff he made you….'
'No! Not for that! I hate him cus he's told them all he'll kill them if they help me.' She burst into tears again at the unfairness of not being able to die.
'He went mad last night. You should have seen him. He practically destroyed this one.' She gestured to the bar behind them. Giles turned thoughtfully and looked at it.
'So, you're back together then?' He was glad the girl was too preoccupied with her life to notice a slight tremble in his voice.
'Nah. And that's her fault.'
Oh, God, another one? 'Whose fault?'
Jelly turned to him with a conspiratorial look. 'See, he was on the rebound when I met him. I know that, cus he was all weepy and sorry for himself. Jeez, you should have seen him; it would'a made you so damn sad! I've never seen a man cry before, and I just wanted to make him all better. I did make him forget her; I know I did… or thought I did. But he said he didn't want to see me anymore, and I just KNOW he's gone back to her.' She began to weep again.
'Why don't you go home?'
She gave him a look, and he took his cue to leave. He wandered to the shop, thoughtful and confused.
He tried to settle his mind by some routine paperwork. Anya had been nagging him to do the monthly accounts for days. Resigned to the work, he made some tea and sat with the books in front of him. The girl's words kept coming back into his mind. With a light curse, he began the calculations.
By lunchtime, he'd worked out he was over three thousand dollars out, but he couldn't find the missing money. He flicked further back through the book and thumped the table in annoyance as his neat, blue penmanship suddenly turned red, then purple… with one or two pages in pencil. The book became untidy; scrawled comments and small illustrations had been added to the neat columns. The final straw was the cigarette ash stuck between the flaps. He cursed and tried to make sense of it; by nightfall he had found almost three thousand dollars in one column, but had lost over five in another.
He cast a glance up to the ceiling, berating the fates once again. Why? Why was his life fated to be entangled with the unlife of this one blond vampire? It was last thing he wanted to do…. He'd rather do anything else…. He went to Spike's crypt.
He picked up all the books, the boxes of receipts, and his calculator, and walked determinedly towards the cemetery. He'd get Spike to show him what he'd done with the money, and then he'd leave. It would take half an hour at the most.