What Lies Within - 8
Just before dawn, Giles went to fetch his car and carried Spike, wrapped in blankets, to the back seat. He transported him to the apartment just as the sun came over the horizon. Laid in Giles' bed, covered in a clean sheet to his neck, there was no evidence that Spike's body had been mutilated.
Giles was stiff and formal around him, undone by guilt and the vampire's pain.
For the first four days, Spike slept and fed. Like an animal, he turned in on his wounded self and concentrated on healing: sleeping, eating, sleeping again, always tightly wrapped in a sheet, allowing no assistance, forbidding Giles to look at his wounds.
Giles provided the blood. He sat alongside the sleeping body. He watched, helpless, as the vampire lay absorbing the pain.
On the fifth day, Spike became tetchy, cursing his confinement, but Giles rejoiced and took this return to form as a positive sign of recovery. When he returned from work, he suggested Spike come downstairs for a while to relieve the boredom. Spike shook his head fractionally. 'Nah.'
Giles looked closely at him and tentatively murmured, 'I could carry you….'
Spike didn't return the look and closed his eyes to the indignity, but he nodded weakly. 'Anything just to get out of this bloody bed.'
This was true in its literal sense and when Giles had carefully negotiated the stairs and laid Spike on the couch, he returned to strip the blood-soaked sheets and pillows. Spike was still tightly wrapped in one fouled sheet, so Giles took a clean one down for him, urging him to accept his help.
'Just leave it - I'll manage.'
Giles nodded, unable to think of something to break through this hideous formality that had crept upon them. He made them both some tea and when he turned back, Spike was lying on his side, clean sheet tightly in place, remote control held loosely in one hand.
Giles put the tea down for Spike, and the vampire sat up slowly, vacating the other half of the couch. With his desperate desire to end their estrangement, Giles sat in the empty space. He froze uncertainly when Spike gently lay back down, placing his head into the warm, human lap. Giles held his hand theatrically in midair but, with nowhere else to put it, laid it down on the silent vampire. It was agonisingly embarrassing for him, and he sat wishing some proverbial hole would open up and swallow him. Spike turned on the television. Giles watched it but didn't see or hear it. His mind was still churning over that night, over the screams, the fear, and the pain he'd witnessed.
A few minutes passed. Giles came back to himself with a deep sigh, remembered where he was and looked down, surprised. He had been swirling his thumb around Spike's ear, over the delicate grooves, behind, on the sensitive bone, and up into the soft hairline. Spike was looking at the screen, but it was clear he hadn't really been watching it either. A contented, restful look softened his features. It was first time Giles had seen him pain free since that awful night.
Giles took a deep breath and asked the question that had been plaguing him. 'Why did you do it, Spike? Why sacrifice yourself like this?' It was spoken so softly, it was so much part of the gentle stroking that Spike did not stir at all as he answered equally quietly.
'I wasn't going to. I had it all worked out. I was gonna let you play evil human for a while and then knock it on the head like. But I thought 'bout you an' it all seemed….'
Giles didn't vary the slow speed of his rubbing or change the route as Spike trailed off, but let the vampire speak at his own pace.
'I knew that weren't you, pet. I kinda thought all humans were evil… ya know… if you dig under the surface, look at what lies within. But I was wrong. You're a good man, Giles, and you couldn't have hurt me without a bit of help. So I got rent-a-devil in to play for a while.'
'But why so violent? Why so bestial? I never fantasised about this.'
'Cus of those bleedin' memories you talked about. Thinking about me? Wanting me every time you made love to someone? I didn't want that for you, so I made the memories 'orrible. You won't be fantasising about the dark side with me now, will you Giles?'
It was on the tip of Giles' tongue to say, "No, but I might about this," but he refrained, for this confused him. He felt it would confuse the injured vampire, too.
That night was the start of the healing process - for both of them.
For the next two weeks, Giles tended to Spike with a care and consideration that far exceeded even Spike's unconscious desires.
They rationalised that not playing out the spell was the danger - doing it too much couldn't matter at all. So, Giles bought human blood and forced Spike to drink it in great quantities. He applied lotions to the areas Spike would allow, never being given access below the tightly held sheet. Spike only claimed softly that he would heal, given time, and that that was not the human's concern.
Giles began to arrive late at work and leave early. The thought of Spike lying in his bed drew him against his own volition, back to the apartment. He knew they only had a few more days together, knew that as soon as Spike was well enough they would play out the rest of the hideous spell, and that then they would both be free. So, every moment he spent with Spike seemed important, precious somehow, as if this were an idyllic time that would not come again in his lifetime.
For the first week, he'd slept on the couch but one night, he'd woken abruptly to find Spike, swaying slightly, standing looking at him. He jerked upright and took hold of Spike's arms, easing him down to the couch.
'What the hell? You shouldn't be walking!'
'Come up to the bed with me.'
'What? I most certainly will not! You can't play out any fantasies just yet, Spike, so what would that gain us?'
Spike blinked slowly; in the cold moonlight that illuminated the room, his eyes seemed unnaturally large, his whole body, thin and vulnerable, and still he clutched the sheet tightly as if that would protect him from memories he didn't want and a future that he couldn't face.
In his guilt, Giles nodded and helped him back up to bed. He lay alongside the pale body, cursing his weakness - how was this part of any spell? He stretched out an arm, though, and Spike came to him. He lay awake for a long time, trying to analyse what he felt. It wasn't sexual, not now, not with so much guilt and with the voices inside his head still whispering at him: perverse, evil things that brought tears to his eyes.
Giles clenched his jaw, bit his lip, and allowed that he was far more traumatised by his experiences in the mansion than he let on. When he was alone, he caught shadows moving out of the corner of his eye. The voices plagued him when he was tired, his resistance too low to fight them off. He feared their residual power over him - that having been a portal for evil, he was still open somehow, still leaking.
So, as he lay beside Spike, his mind was in turmoil, yet he was also the most peaceful he had been for a long time. For if this was not sexual gratification, what was it? What was his hand doing, stroking repetitively over this soft hair? What was his other hand, gently running down Spike's smooth arm for, if this was not sexual? Spike had tried to prevent memories of their time together surfacing? Giles despaired at the foolishness. He was being seduced by a far more potent allure than sex.
The lonely, middle-aged, childless man held the slim, wounded body tightly to him and pressed his face into the soft hair…. It was…. It was…. He pulled away with a grimace. 'You need a bath, Mister.'
Spike, sleepy, relaxed, mumbled a meaningless reply.
'Err…. Spike? As in now?'
'No. I can't do it meself yet, and you ain't seeing me.'
'Your hair is still matted with blood!'
'It won't kill me.'
'No. I suppose not. How much longer?'
'You trying to get rid of me?'
Giles let the renewed tightness of his arms answer this. He felt the vampire relax once more, drifting off into his almost twenty-four hour sleep routine. Giles eventually fell asleep, but he had at least made one important decision. He couldn't do anything about the complex, tangled web of his emotions, but the demons inside him? They could be stopped.
The next day, he held Spike as he fed, made him take more than he wanted and left when the vampire fell back to sleep. He went to Buffy's house. Willow was summoned. He looked at their cheerful, innocent faces and wondered when his life had become so complex.
'I need a spell.'
Willow brightened visibly. 'Spell stuff! Who's it for?'
Buffy raised an eyebrow. 'You?'
'Yes. I was… experimenting with a portal the other day, and I believe it's been seeping into me ever since. I need it closed.'
Buffy turned to Willow. 'Portal closure in your repertoire?'
Willow looked serious. 'If it's not, it will be in a couple of days.'
Giles turned and left without further explanation. Willow made to follow him, excited now by her task, but Buffy laid a hand on her arm, restraining her. She gave her friend a meaningful look and a small shake of her head.
Giles went back to Spike; it was the only place he wanted to be.
The days began to blur; hours became meaningless. There was only Spike and his too slow recovery… but the strange, non-passing of the days had a serendipitous outcome: they became intimate in ways they had not thought likely. That strange feeling Giles had sensed when he held the weak vampire in his arms came back. He had odd thoughts when he watched Spike sleep: sharing books… teaching him things. He found it profoundly disturbing when visions of taking Spike to England began to plague him. He envisioned taking him away from Sunnydale and the Hellmouth - taking him to a place of greater safety. One evening, Giles took up a selection of his favourite books, just to test the vampire's reaction - to see if he was the only one thinking these disturbing thoughts of domesticity.
Spike listlessly eyed the books from his permanently reclined position on the bed, flicking through one or two with a desultory interest.
Giles, relieved by the lack of enthusiasm, relaxed until Spike said, 'I've kinda read all these, pet. I was up to 'm'; get something from 'n', hey?'
'Err… my books aren't alphabetical, Spike.'
Spike managed a weak smile. 'Oh yeah?'
Giles went back down and discovered that, indeed, his books had been rearranged at some time, not entirely in the order of any alphabet he recognised, but enough to make a selection as requested. He picked out "Netherworld Influences on Religious Iconology", carried it upstairs and placed it by Spike.
'Why were the "Watchers' Diaries" put under 'c'?'
'Cus they're crap.'
'Ah. "Interview with a Vampire" under 'y'?'
Spike smiled again, clearly trying not to. 'For… "yeah: not!".'
'Interesting. "Waiting for Godot" in 'u'?'
'Unreadable crap…. See, it's a carefully thought out system.'
'You know, Spike, you really need to get some proper hobbies.'
'Yeah, so…. You gonna read that to me then?'
Giles' heart gave a small, additional, weak beat. 'Read to you?'
'Well, duh! Can't hold the book…. Look, all weak and floppy.'
'I don't remember your arms getting injured.'
'Classic trauma repression, mate; seen it a hundred times. Come on… read. Oh, an' you can explain all the bits I won't understand.'
'And you have remembered that I am not actually immortal? I will die in a few years?'
'Well, if we're still reading it, pet, you can will it to me, hey? "I leave to Spike, sod all 'cept the book I friggin' wouldn't read to him - even though he was incredibly badly injured by me and never whined once about the pain…".'
'Religious iconology can be traced back to the….' Thus began a routine of reading to help Spike pass the boring hours of his recovery. Propped up against the headboard, Spike stretched out alongside him, they became the moments of the day Giles most looked forward to: the calm end to days of stress and worry. Occasionally, as on that first night in front of the television, Spike would lay his head in Giles' lap. If these times coincided with particular signs of pain in his face, neither commented on it. If Giles' hand, stroking over his hair, helped ease that pain, again, they did not openly express these thoughts. So, Giles relieved Spike's pain but only made his own far worse.
These were exactly the memories he feared to have, for this was what had been missing from his life, its lack not made apparent until he had it for this short, unreal, magical time.
The growing intimacy and friendship between them had one useful outcome; Giles stopped hearing voices. He did not fear the dark - afraid to look too closely into corners of the room. Maybe it had simply been shock that had left residual traces of dark energies in his mind. He rejoiced in their absence and gradually forgot to think of that abhorrent time.
As Spike would not let Giles look at his wounds, Giles had no real way of telling how quickly - if at all - the vampire was recovering. He took the recovery on faith, his knowledge of vampires in general, and Spike in particular, giving him patience for the inevitable. If he suspected Spike was dragging out his sick leave? Well, he would delay it himself if he could, so he never called Spike on this suspicion.
Too soon, therefore, Giles woke from a light doze one morning to find Spike propped up on his elbow, watching him. Giles smiled at the familiarity of this, despite the different bodies they now wore. 'You were watching me.'
'Why, may I ask?'
Spike gave a slow grin. 'I was thinking about forest fires and baths.'
'Uh huh.' Giles put a hand to Spike's sticky-out hair and attempted to tuck a few strands back into place. 'I know you want me to ask, so I'll indulge you, just this once…. Forest fires?'
Pleased, Spike began to undo the knot in his sheet. 'Yeah… fires burn the whole lot down - ruin everything - an' it's all weepy-environmental-disaster shit. But nature is indefatigable, Giles; it recovers - always. New an'… better.' With a cheeky raise of his eyebrow, he removed his covering.
Giles gave a low hiss through his clenched jaw.
It was standing proud against Spike's unmarked, pale skin, the shaft, softly muted like velvet, the tip whole, round and glistening from the slit that punctured into its perfection. Spike's wiry curls nestled around the thick root, and the soft, hanging sac bore not a single scratch.
Giles swallowed and tried to speak. His hand crept out, and he caught hold of the swollen penis. He moved it from side-to-side. He suddenly sat up and became frantic, checking, examining - reacquainting himself with the perfection. Spike lay on his back, his arms folded under his head, allowing the intense intimacy. He rolled obediently as Giles' need to see the full restoration led him inexorably to the place he'd last seen as a tattered ruin. That, too, was whole and perfect - closed over: a dark flush of pink on an otherwise flawless body.
Giles sat back, satisfied, but Spike grasped his hand and replaced it.
'You did a lot of internal damage, luv. How's about you check that out, too.'
Spike kept his face averted but gently encouraged Giles by pressing the hand against him. Once more, Giles felt conflicting emotion about this vampire warring inside him. This would be just clinical, necessary… innocent? It was only as if he were taking this recalcitrant childe's temperature…. Not sexual but…. His finger pushed in for the first time ever, and he knew he was lying to himself: it was intensely sexual.
Giles could feel nothing inside but soft, intact walls almost warm to the touch. Spike clearly felt more, for he tensed and swore slightly under his breath.
'Sorry, does that hurt?' Giles began to pull out; Spike's hand flew around to stop him leaving.
'Watcher… just keep doin' it, 'k?'
Spike turned and faced Giles. Giles looked at him and began a more intense exploration. Their gazes never faltered; the human saw dark grey/blue eyes dilate at the pleasure, long blinks of enjoyment and tensing of the facial muscles. He heard soft grunts and watched as Spike's jaw clenched and unclenched. Finally, the vampire turned on his side slightly and murmured, 'Gonna test the whole kit an' caboodle, Watcher!' As he spoke, his penis twitched, and a powerful bullet of sperm shot out between them on the bed. Giles cried out involuntarily but only probed deeper and harder, watching with fascination as another string of cum arced free and drizzled down the pillow.
Eventually, Spike turned right over onto his back, dislodging Giles' hand. The vampire lay panting slightly, sticky, damp, and chuckling. 'See… told ya! Forest fires and… baths! Clear, obvious connection.' He turned to Giles, and his face was full of suppressed glee. 'Now, I'm thinking about some old poof I know who fantasised about washing me. Who could that 'ave been, do you think?'
Giles didn't reply to the provocation but slid down to mirror Spike's position. 'We could start your fantasy now. It could be all over in less than an hour.
Spike sat up and looked curiously at him. 'Shag, breakfast, shag, 'nother?'
'Exactly. All over. Obsession gone.'
Spike hesitated. 'Do you still feel that… obsession?'
Giles looked at him. 'It's worse now than at the beginning, Spike. Then I only wanted to take you, have you, and have you take me. Now I'm thinking seriously of keeping you.'
Spike gave a small pout. 'I'm not a bloody lost puppy.'
'No. Clearly not. But I can't help how I feel, can I?'
'Not 'til this bloody spell is over, anyway?'
'Quite. This spell is warping, twisting the original desires, I think. Maybe the intensity of that hideous night made a mirror image emerge: not pain, but succour….'
'I'm all for succour, mate; you can succour me anytime you want. Succour now, if you feel up to it like!'
Giles continued, pointedly ignoring the interruption. 'I wanted the dark side, but it got bounced off, and now I want to have you as mine. So there you go.… That's my rationalisation of it, which is all rather pointless; the outcome is the same - obsession getting worse. You?'
Spike didn't reply. He crawled slowly toward Giles' mouth. He opened his lips and replied with a kiss, so intense, so powerful, that Giles had to pull away, groaning. 'We must work this through, Spike, or it'll be the death of me.'
Spike nodded thoughtfully. 'I'll lose the parts of me that can't grow back, I think.'
Giles shut his eyes to the inevitable. 'So, what's first?'
'Bath…. I know, I know, it's not in the original, but I'm thinking two-week old sweat an' blood ain't gonna increase me charms none.'
Giles smiled. 'I'll run it.'
He sat alongside Spike as the vampire stretched to the warmth of the water. Spike handed him the soap, and Giles nodded to the almost predestined feel of the moment. It was painful in its irony. Had he really had these desires before the spell, or was the spell falsifying his memories? He washed Spike's shoulders, rubbing soap up into the sticky hair. 'Tell me, Spike, did you ever fantasise about this? When I had you chained up in here?'
'What do you think?'
'I don't know anything any more, vampire. I am a man entirely lost.'
'Do you like being lost?'
'Yes. I think I do… for this minute here with you… for the next few hours that are to come.'
'Don't sweat it then, Watcher; this time tomorrow, it'll all be over. You'll look at me and see a disgusting creature you revile. I'll look at you and see an old ponce I hate… and remembering this'll just make it worse. I'm thinking I may leave Sunnydale when this is over, cus I won't wanna be reminded of being like this every time I see you. Hey! Don't stop! Rinse me off.'
Giles did, but his mind was not on the streaming, darkened hair. 'You'll leave?'
Spike heard his tone and sat up a little to face him. 'You'll be free of the spell then, pet. You'll be glad to hear I've gone.'
'I - I - I can't really imagine I would ever think that.'
'I know. I can't picture goin', but I've been here before, remember? With the Slayer? I was… in love, 'bout to marry 'er…. Would 'ave given me life for 'er… then poof! I woke up on top of 'er, hating her, spitting her out of me mouth, and wishing I could 'ave a bath to wash 'er off. So… been here, done this. Tomorrow we'll want to kill each other when we think 'bout all this. Now, I'm getting colder than someone who's being succoured ought to be, so pass me a towel, and just go with it, Giles. Let's enjoy it while we have it, yeah?'
Spike climbed out; Giles handed him the towel, but as Spike took it, the human pulled the cold, wet body to him, captured his mouth and, running his hands up and down the smooth back, he kissed Spike as if the intensity of this kiss could bind them even when the spell had torn them apart.
He pulled away, took Spike's arm and led him back to the bed.