What Lies Within - 5
Buffy and Xander bounced around excitedly when they were completely certain that Giles was returned to his own body. Helpfully, Xander dragged him by his arm to the large mirror and pointed. 'Look.'
Giles did look. He saw a tanned, thin, handsome man, staring back at him. Xander laughed at the expression. 'Spike's been taking good care of you, man, while you've been gallivanting around like the undead.'
'Good care of me. Yes.' Giles winced again as he walked back to the sofa, sitting down very carefully. 'Do you all think you could leave now?' There was a slightly stunned silence in the room, and the youngsters looked at each other with puzzled faces.
'You are okay, aren't you Giles? All… back in properly? Nothing… out of place?'
'Absolutely. I am quite myself again, only… it's been a rather tiring experience - as you can imagine - and I'd just like to get some sleep.'
He went straight to the bathroom and soaked in a deep, hot bath for a long time, trying not to think. He could only assess the physical injuries he could actually see, but these were extensive enough. His torso was covered in bruises, scratches, and bite marks. His neck throbbed and was black and yellow: the deep bruising still coming out. One wrist was too painful to move.
He stood naked in front of the full-length mirror and looked at himself. He turned sideward and looked at his hipbones. He turned fully around and peered over his shoulder. He looked as if he'd sat in something black: his thighs and backside, one mass of deep bruising.
It was like recalling pain - you remember it obliquely but can't conjure up the actual agony. He could remember raping Spike, but it was as if he had not actually been there at the time: no conscious volition over the act. Nevertheless, guilt permeated deep into his soul. He had not been strong enough to control the dark side of that demonic body. In four months, he had proved to have less humanity than its original owner. Giles looked at his face once more and saw - beyond the bruising, beyond the sharp edges and the handsome, tanned appearance - someone he could no longer respect. Self-respect was the most fundamental of his principals. Where could he exist now that it had gone?
Spike sat on his crypt until the first rays of dawn nearly reached him, then he jumped down and went inside to see if he wanted to live there anymore. Nothing seemed to have changed, but it was all different: he was different.
The intense feelings of victimisation were fading as his own natural strength and power returned to him. With no physical injuries, it was hard to fixate on the emotional… but the experience had thrown him completely.
He flung himself down on the bed and put his head under a pillow.
Where did his demon lie? Some demonic energy had remained in his body; it so overwhelmed the human that he had sunk beneath its powerful energy. Hadn't Giles just become what he, William, had become in far less than four months? Spike could still remember those early days now; coming around in Angelus' arms; feeding from him; needing to kill and hurt and take and penetrate - anything, everything - just to feed the evil inside him. He hadn't felt like that for a long time. His body was now under his control - most of the time - but Giles, cast adrift, had had no reference points, and he had failed.
Spike wondered what the watcher was thinking and feeling now and bet he was not taking the situation with calm equanimity.
Naturally, they avoided each other; Giles, by the simple expedient of not going near the cemetery; Spike, by not leaving it. The vampire would have had no contact at all with the others - and thought that he did not miss it - until two days later when Xander came hesitantly into his crypt.
Spike was reading and didn't look up. 'What do you want, wanker.'
'Uh huh. Nice with the 'tude, Spike - for a gift horse cometh.'
'Well I ain't looking in yer mouth… or any other orifice. So, sod off.'
'So… you don't want these then?' Xander held out the two blood bags he'd been carrying behind his back… and he so wished he hadn't been chosen to carry them through a Sunnydale cemetery on his own after dark!
Spike looked up at that but tried not to appear too eager. 'What do I have to do for those?'
'Nothin' apparently. Giles said….'
'Sorry to disappoint you, Spike, but I'm not funding the food.'
'What did he say?' Spike had returned to his book, so his question was just thrown casually out into the space between them.
'He's set up a standing order kind of thing for you. You can collect a couple of pints a day; he's paid in advance… and hey! Did you hear about that creepy guy who worked there? He got a little damaged around the vitals apparently. Wince time, Spike, for all males on the telling of this story.'
Spike still resisted looking up. 'Weren't me. Chip, remember?'
'Nah, human apparently… looks like a revenge gig. So, where'd'ya want it… and I am referring to the blood!'
Spike stuck out his hand but still did not look up. Xander toed the ground, hung around, poked and prodded into corners. 'What! What do you bloody want?'
'When you coming back, Spike? Kinda weird now and need consistent evil to know where… and obviously, I'm not saying you are evil… or consistent… and is that actually better? Trying not to rag you here, chip boy… and that probably wasn't of the good, either. So, shutting up now.'
Spike couldn't help a small smile at the boy's earnestness. ''Least yer tryin', pillock. So, what's so wrong that you need the big evil back?'
'Well, Giles is….' Xander stopped and shook his head. 'This sounds even weirder out loud than it did in my head! Giles is kinda drinking a lot and, without him at the….'
'Did anyone ask him why?'
'Ask him why what? Oh! No… don't need that question explained. Well, we kinda put it down to all that blood and being… in there. And again, no disrespect intended to the dead aspects of being you, Spike. Good body to be in… and God! Did I actually just say that? Leaving now. Drop by, Spike. Do something bad. Needed, 'k?'
Spike pouted slightly when the messenger left; he was trying to translate a particularly difficult passage, but the words just swum around on the page. He cursed and flung the book into the corner.
Let him rot in the hell of his own making.
What did he care?
He cursed once more and grabbed his duster, following the human back to town.
Spike leant in the open doorway for a moment, watching the scene inside. Buffy and Willow were making bright, artificial chatter in the kitchen as they made brownies together. Xander was still in his coat and was watching Giles anxiously. Giles was perched on one of his bar stools, staring at some sheets of paper in one hand. In his other hand, he held a large tumbler of something amber and inviting. Spike didn't think he looked drunk. He looked… good.
He pursed his lips and went in, giving a shy nod to Xander, who grinned at him and then threw himself onto the sofa with the remote control, as if all was now right with the world.
Giles stilled with his glass halfway to his lips and said softly, 'Get out.'
Buffy looked up from the tray she was scraping clean. 'Hey! Giles! He's kinda earned the….'
'Not Spike - you. All of you. Get out of my house, please.'
This fell like a grenade into the domestic scene; they looked about, bewildered. He moderated his tone, but repeated. 'All of you. Please.'
Spike helped himself to a drink as the others left. Giles got up and shut the door, laying the sheets of paper down as he did so.
'What ya got there?' This was calm, neutral, mature, and set just the right tone. Spike congratulated himself on his brilliance.
'My credit card bill.'
'Guess that's what's up with the drinking then?'
Giles looked puzzled. 'The drinking?' He looked down at his hand then at the door. 'Oh…. Silly children. That's why you're here - told you I was becoming an alcoholic, did they?'
'Kinda, but it's not why I'm here, Watcher.'
Spike resisted the temptation to say "Quite" in a facetious voice: he was only just holding it together as it was. He sat on a chair where he could see Giles. 'So, how are you? You still look good….' That was not so brilliant or so neutral, and he trailed off uncertainly.
Giles took his glasses off and wiped a sleeve across his face. 'I've been having a throw out actually. I can't wear ninety percent of my clothes anymore, but the rest are survivors from a rather bizarre seventies' time warp. I think I may go shopping at the weekend.'
'If you've any money left, that is.' Spike risked a small, teasing glance up at Giles, but it was lost on the watcher as he stared unseeingly at Buffy's half-finished brownies.
'What did you spend my money on, Spike? Anything I could take back?'
'Nah, made sure of that. Look, got meself a watch and had it engraved, just so you couldn't. Like it?' He held out his new Rolex challengingly.
Giles made no comment - it was hard to criticise or chastise someone you had raped two days ago.
He didn't look at the watch either, for that would mean looking at Spike, and he didn't think he would ever do that again. 'Why are we making meaningless small talk, Spike?'
Spike chuckled. 'We're not.'
'How can you bear to come here like this?'
Spike leant back in the chair and crossed his ankle over his knee, holding onto it and playing idly with his laces. 'Hear you did the blood guy. Inventive, Ripper - hope he screamed.'
'He did: cowards always do.' Probably the worse thing he could ever have said slipped out before he made the connection. When he did, when Spike's screams echoed once more in his head, he looked up, an anguished expression making him look tired and very stressed. 'I am so sorry. I didn't mean….' He stopped and took a deep breath. 'There is no excuse, no apology that would be sufficient, Spike; so I'd rather decided not to insult you by trying.'
'You were the one who got hurt, mate.'
Giles turned to him, jerking his head back a little. 'Don't be….'
'Come on, Giles. Ain't my bottom needin' careful handling right now, is it?'
'That's semantics, Spike, and you know it. Don't confuse this with that bodyswap debacle - I raped you.'
'I disagree. Technically, I raped you.'
'NO!' Giles got up and came toward him. 'No! No technicalities here, Spike. There are no technicalities where rape is concerned. It's always black and white; it's always victim and victimiser, good and bad, weak and strong.'
Spike stood up and faced him angrily. 'No technicalities? You total pillock, Rupert. Technically, I was you. Technically, you were me. Technically, you had my demon to contend with. Technically, my demon wanted you before all this and was just sneaking one in while 'e didn't 'ave the chip. Technically, you wanted me, too, before all this… and you've got some weird magazines upstairs to prove it. Technically, we were bloody… this far… from shagging 'fore it happened. Technically, you weren't even there, Giles, and couldn't have stopped me - my body - if you'd wanted to. So, technical that up yer bottom and 'ave another drink, mate!'
He stormed out, came back in, ripped the credit card bill in half with a theatrical gesture, and left once more.
It took Giles a while but eventually, he sorted this into: Spike had wanted him, he had wanted Spike, and they had been incredibly lucky to have the last four months and the rape to show them this. Giles knew Spike was bizarre; he had never put him down as utterly insane.
It actually made him chuckle - the first time in many months. He put down his unfinished drink and rubbed his hands through his hair. Wanting… Spike! Shagging with… Spike! The chuckle turned into laughter, as he thought about this. He didn't… shag - and what a perfectly awful word - with anyone, let alone a vampire. A male vampire! A male vampire he hated! Him - a human, a man, a watcher - wanting Spike! It was the funniest thing he'd heard in years, and he was still chuckling over it when he got to the shop the next day.
Small things - life's ironies turn on small things. He was putting some money away in the till when he idly thought about the spell and how it had all begun. He moved on, thought about other things but, like a huge surge that had been building unnoticed behind the dam, that small thought of Spike made the rest of the vampire's assertion - the part he had avoided thinking about - wash into his head: Spike wanted him.
Giles reared back and actually clutched his head slightly. Anya gave him a worried look and put down the things she was dusting. Giles shook his head at her, giving a small reassuring smile. He gave it a moment, and then went quietly into the back to think.
That was another very, very bad move. No one had even cleared up the blood. Perhaps no one had been back here and seen it. It stained the pale green mat a deep, rusty brown. Spike's blood… spilt as he'd…. No! His blood. Giles frowned, as he looked at it, confused.
That was his blood… and Spike wanted him.
Giles had no one to turn to. He'd gone through the most intense experience of his life, and he had no one he could share it with, except, of course, for the one person with whom he could not (or would not) share. Alone, isolated from his young friends, Giles became increasingly morose, until he woke up one day and decided that speaking to Spike again was his only option.
He walked slowly to the crypt in the soft, early morning light, the route now familiar, the crypt quite like home… until he opened the door.
He had to give Spike his due: the money had been well spent. An inviting couch faced an impressive TV. Stacks of new paperbacks littered the floor, and a half-unpacked and assembled music system spilt from a box in one corner. He shook his head and climbed down wearily.
New additions improved the downstairs, too: rugs on the floor, lamps illuminating dark corners. It was softer, more… homely. The vampire was asleep, twisted into the sheets. Giles looked at him for a few moments, remembering the feel of that body from the inside, but the memories confused him too much, and he coughed, knowing Spike would wake instantly.
He didn't. The pale figure remained still. Giles gave a small, puzzled frown at the body and put a warm hand on one cool shoulder. Spike jerked awake, a defensive fist shooting out and catching Giles accurately on his jaw. He staggered back, not badly hurt, but the vampire curled into an agonised ball, holding his head. Giles knew exactly what that felt like now and winced to think he had caused it needlessly.
Eventually, Spike sat up and pulled the sheet modestly around his waist. He looked at Giles and, considering the manner of his wake-up call, the look was neutral, almost bordering on friendly. 'What's up?'
'Why didn't you wake up when I came in?'
'Spike, I stood here, looking at you; I coughed, but you were dead to the world. I could have been anyone, anything!'
Spike rummaged in his bed for his cigarettes and lit one. When he had a satisfying amount of nicotine, he answered neutrally, 'I've not been sleeping well… anyway, wanna take this upstairs?'
Giles couldn't help a small smile. 'To all my new stuff, you mean?'
'I was you when I bought it, so it's mine… technically.'
Giles began to make his way upstairs. 'You like technicalities, don't you Spike?'
The vampire climbed out of bed and pulled on his jeans. 'So, we back to that, are we?'
'No. We are not, Spike. I didn't come here to talk about that.'
Giles sat on the couch, and Spike hopped up onto one of the tombs. 'What did you come here for, Watcher? Thought you'd seen enough of me recently - inside and out.'
If Spike was trying to provoke the human, it didn't work. Giles looked at him frankly then, polishing his glasses, said quickly, 'I wanted to talk about some of the other things, Spike… before…. Well…. Things happened to me, Spike… to both of us… and I can't talk to the others.'
'Cus they couldn't deal?'
'Exactly. It's not black and white enough for them. Buffy asked me what it felt like to be you, and I could only tell her it was complex. I had no words to use to describe it to her.'
'It was incredible, Spike. For those first two months….' Giles got up and began to pace. 'You are so strong, so invulnerable, so hard, so freed from all our petty inconveniences. It was…. You are… addictive.'
'If you wanna join me like, let me know. We could do it now and, come tomorrow, you'd be just like me.'
Giles just smiled rather sadly at this. 'You don't get it, do you Spike? That's exactly what I'd not be. If I were turned, I'd be a vicious, evil, soulless demon.'
Spike bristled. 'Hey! What you saying human…? Evil here now… remember? An' you can't judge what being me is like, cus you took your stinking soul to my body with you. Demonic bits of me a tad watered down there, mate! I'm evil and don't you forget it!'
'No, you're missing the point, Spike. I was able to watch you when you were freed from this body. You… whatever you are without the corporeal form… the you inside… what lies within…. Damn it! I lived with that you for two months and got to know you quite well.'
'No! You saw me squished inside your body…. Still evil, just too bloody tired and weak all the time, and too bloody busy pissing and shitting to do anything more interesting.'
'But that's not true, is it Spike? Look what you did to me, for God's sake! You spent all your time working on my body when you could have been out killing, raping… causing mayhem. And this body is anything but weak now.'
'Yeah, like the slayer would have allowed that.'
'Was that the only reason you didn't?'
Spike jumped off the tomb and sat on the couch, picking up the remote control. 'Anything else you wanted, human? Cus I'm a bit off me schedules still and need a quiet day.'
("You said you wanted me, Spike, can I ask you about that?") 'You're feeding well?'
Spike turned and gave him a slightly incredulous look. 'Yes, Mummy, I am,' but then added more generously, 'thanks for that, pet.'
Giles nodded distractedly. 'I think that was the worst thing of all… except obviously the….'
Spike sighed and turned off the TV again. He could see the human hadn't done. Giles came forward and sat on the far end of the couch. 'How do you stand it, Spike?'
Spike shrugged. 'It ain't so bad for me, I guess. I'm more conditioned to hunger. I don't know…. I've never killed a cat and eaten it, so you must have been worse than me.'
'It was dead already… and how did you know?'
Spike only looked at him and made a face, as if still tasting something unpleasant, but then brightened and suddenly, unexpectedly, reached out and pulled Giles' T-shirt off his neck a little. 'Preferred the aftertaste of this.'
Giles reared away, shocked. 'How can you joke about these profound things, Spike? I drank my own blood - your blood… technically.' He made a face at his unexpected use of that last word, and they both chuckled. It relieved the tension, and Spike turned sideward in the couch, leaning back against the arm, crossing his legs casually. He lit another cigarette from the stub of his previous one, flicking that carelessly across the floor.
'What do you do, Giles, if you don't laugh? You weep and wail and get all angsty. An' there's one thing no one likes: an angsty vamp. They're a pain…. All broody and swirly black coats.'
Giles laughed. 'You got anyone in mind there, Spike?'
Spike didn't reply, just flicked up one eyebrow and continued to smoke.
After a moment, Giles asked softly, 'Did you weep, Spike? Was it all just a joke to you?'
Spike pursed his lips and studied his cigarette for a moment. 'When you were hunting me…. When I was too damaged to run, or fight if you'd found me - that weren't much to laugh at, no.'
'Why didn't you go to Buffy?'
Spike looked at him and then away quickly. 'What would she do every time she looked at you now, if she knew? Do you think she'd 'ave understood that it wasn't you: that technically it was still me?'
'No, I don't think she would. I don't, and I was there. I still don't see why you aren't more… furious with me… or something.'
'Do you want me to be? Is that it, Giles? Do you want me to shout and scream and try to hit you? Would that make you feel better? Well, sorry, mate, I'm not going to do that. You were driven, Giles, just like I am sometimes, and you did what you needed to do.'
'No….' Giles' voice was raw, ragged with pain. 'I understand what you're saying, I do, but you see….' He looked at the ceiling of the crypt as if for forgiveness, but found none there. 'There was something of me in there when I…. In that original bloody wish, do you remember? I'd just told you to piss off for good, and then I wished… that I hadn't said that, because I would… miss you. Oh, bloody hell, that's not what I mean at all….'
Spike leant over and blew a long mouthful of smoke into the human's shocked face and when Giles opened his mouth to complain, he kissed the warm, opening lips.
Giles reared away. 'No! What is this? This is ludicrous!'
Spike shrugged and leant back against the arm of the couch, smoking slowly and leisurely.
'What do you want, vampire? You can't want me, not really. Tell me the truth, Spike.'
'I do want you, Giles. But maybe not as you think. I want….' Spike cast a glance at the ceiling, too, but it had no more answers for him than it had for the human. 'I want someone who wants what I want: release, passion, fun.' He shrugged slightly. 'But no commitments, no angst, no complications. I want someone who will get the game, Giles, who just wants to take and give, and not get all fucked by it. I need someone old, like me… an ancient soul for an ancient soulless being.'
'My God! You see a soulless fuck partner when you look at me? How can you be so mistaken?'
'I'm not mistaken, Giles; I just see things other people don't see; you know that; you've seen it, too, now. I look beneath the surface of people. I smell their arousal or their hatred when they talk; I sense their needs and confusions. I've always sensed your need to explore my darkness, and I know how hard you fight it, too. You see the happy families, don't you Giles? You watch the happy couples with their fucking, lovey-dovey ways, and you want to rip and tear them apart, just to prove that you can. Marriage? It's a challenge you want to destroy. You're trapped in that closet of yours, mate, and it's made you bitter and twisted and… oh, so ripe for the picking. I want that bitterness; I need those twisting limbs. We're so alike, Giles.'
'No. This can't be happening. I am not having this conversation with you. I've never heard anything so ridiculous. You stand for everything I revile, everything I rejected. I loathe you most of the time - find you unpleasant the rest. I'm utterly flabbergasted by your arrogance, Spike.'
'That's all as may be; don't make no difference that you hate me or that I disgust you…. You still want to know what I feel like. You still want to hear me when I cum. You want me to make you cum, feel my complete absorption in your pleasure. I can smell it now, human, you're hard, just thinking about it. I'm that toy you were never allowed to have, those friends you couldn't win, that job that rejected you, that woman who dumped you. I'm everything you've always wanted but couldn't have. I am temptation, Giles. I'm the devil you fear to lose your soul to.'
Giles stood up, backing away.
Spike watched him intently. 'Next time we're together, Rupert, and all the children are there - know I'll be wanting you and picturing us together. Think about slipping away up to your bed together, none of them suspecting. Have a drink, Giles, feel yourself relaxing, and know that you could try it, just once. Remember. Next time.'
Giles stumbled from the crypt to the safety of the morning light.
Spike switched on the telly and watched it mindlessly for hours. He was amazed that, having lived in his preternatural body for four months, having shared his house and his life, the watcher had actually been taken in by the complete bullshit he'd just spouted… but it had been interesting watching and sensing his reactions. Spike had a new problem now though, and it took his mind off his favourite shows: he'd half believed his own bullshit. He was coming around to the very disturbing thought that shagging Rupert Giles might be something quite memorable. Next time they were together, he had the distinctly unnerving thought that he'd be the one thinking of the bed upstairs. When he saw Giles drinking, he'd be the one thinking of their bodies rolling and tumbling in the warmth of their arousal. He'd painted a picture for the human that was too close to the truth, too close to what his demon wanted. What he, Spike, wanted - the Spike that lay within the demon - was even more complicated, and the only thing that came into his mind as he tried to probe this, was the feel of fingers stroking him as he lay, warm, human, and almost forgiven, in a bed with a watcher who had temporarily borne his likeness.