Preying On My Mind

Jane Davitt

Part Four

Xander felt fear take him, dimming his vision, buzzing loudly in his ears. Giles could do it. Giles would do it. Spurred on by the sure and certain knowledge that Spike would be dust within the hour if he didn’t force his body to work again, he wriggled enough to make Giles loosen his arm lock and turned to face him. They were so close that it should have been awkward, embarrassing even, but Giles didn’t step back and Xander had nowhere to go. He could still feel the warm hand on his scratched back; still hear the rage and disgust in Giles’ voice echoing in his head.

“Giles listen to me, let me explain,” Xander said, the words coming out in a frantic whisper. He tried again, achieving a slightly higher volume. “It’s not what you think.” Oh, wonderful, he thought. I sound so convincing.

Giles raised his hand as if he were going to hit Xander, fist clenched, knuckles gleaming white where the skin was dragged thin over bone. “How can you know what I’m thinking, Xander, when I don’t know myself?  What can you possibly say to make this seem right?” He glanced at his hand as though it belonged to someone else and Xander flinched away, less from the expected blow than from the idea of Giles being angry enough to strike him.

Giles moved back, his face going slack with shock at what he had almost done. Xander saw him struggle with the emotions that swirled around them both, as abrasive as sand in the wind, and watched helplessly as Giles twisted away and drove his fist against the wall, his lips peeled back in a soundless grimace of pain.

Xander saw his fist come back again and grabbed at his arm, seeing the blood oozing from the torn skin of Giles’ hand. “Stop it, Giles! Please...”

It was like trying to hold back the sea. Giles shouldered him aside and rammed his fist against the wall again, the noise of the blow merging with the guttural, deep sound he made as his knuckles were scraped raw.

“Fine! You want to hit things? I can do that, too Giles. But I’m not stupid. I use this."

Xander grabbed the hammer he’d been using and smashed it down, inches above Giles’s hand as it hit the wall for a third time, overriding Giles’ violence with his own, forcing him to retreat.

Giles turned to look at him, his eyes searching Xander’s face, the anger giving way to a dull, disillusioned expression. He stood silent, automatically nursing his injured hand, his lips tight as the pain began to seep through.

Xander spoke quietly. “Two years. I’ve loved him for two years, Giles. Why kill him now?”

The metallic glint in Giles’ eyes faded and Xander was looking at Giles again, just Giles. The man who scolded him, corrected him, used him as an errand boy. The man who had taught him, protected him and loved him for years. For the second – or was it the third? - time in less than a day, Xander felt tears sting his eyes. To have Giles look at him like this – his eyes tired and desperate – to know that Giles had been about to kill for him, to risk a confrontation with a vampire who was still far from safe –

Giles reached out suddenly and pulled Xander to him, his arms going around him in a brief, infinitely comforting hug. Xander rested his head on Giles’ shoulder, needing to hold onto someone, just for a moment, just until the room stopped whirling around him. Giles patted his back and pulled away gently.

 “I think we need to discuss this calmly, Xander. I can’t promise, but I’ll try not to  –”

“Kill him?”

The dangerous look came back, the brief reconciliation over. “No. I was going to say, lose my temper again. I’m still going to kill him.”

Xander had had enough. Maybe it was his turn to have a tantrum. “You go through me first then. Or are you going to drop the Ripper act and listen? Since when did my love life become your business?”

“’Love’?” Giles gave an incredulous, scornful laugh. “Are you mad, Xander? This is Spike we’re talking about. He’s incapable of the emotion.”

Xander stared at him, meeting his eyes without flinching. “Maybe. But I’m not.”

Giles was left wordless for a moment. He moved away, his shoulders slumped and stared out of the window. Xander watched him, wondering just when his legs had started trembling. It had all happened so quickly...

“I don’t understand what you mean. Two years?” Giles had recovered his composure enough to ask questions, Xander thought wryly. That had to be a good sign.

“It’s a long story full of Hellmouthy goodness.”

Giles turned his head. “I have time to listen. It’s still an hour to sunset.”

The threat implicit in his words made Xander’s head throb as he forced back the hot anger. “Giles, you are not going anywhere near Spike like this. Understand?”

Giles took off his glasses to polish them, a ritual Xander had seen a thousand times. Without them he never seemed to peer around uncertainly or look as if the world had turned blurry. Giles was always focused, always in control. Changing his mind would be a challenge. The glasses slid back on and Giles studied Xander’s face for a long moment before gesturing at the door. “Let’s go and make ourselves comfortable then and you can tell me what you think I need to know.”

Xander frowned at that phrasing and hung back, suspicion flaring. Giles noticed and sighed. “I assure you, Xander, my concern for your well being doesn’t include pushing you down a flight of steps to get you out of the way while I go and find Spike.”

Xander shrugged. “You just had me in an arm lock, Giles. I’m not big with the trusting right now.”

Giles ducked his head but not quickly enough. Xander saw the hurt flash across his face and winced. “I’m sorry –”

Giles held up a hand to ward him off. “No. I deserve that. I acted impetuously. I had my reasons but even so it was wrong of me. I’m sorry.”

He walked out of the room before Xander could reply, not looking to see Xander’s reaction. Xander stood for a moment before following him, looking at the abandoned project, the neatly stacked wood. He wondered if he’d ever finish it.


Once Giles had dealt with his injured hand, rinsing it and wincing as he doused it with antiseptic, they settled down in the living room, both choosing to sit as far apart as possible. Xander felt unable to begin talking. Where could he start? Giles knew about Spike but he didn’t want to see his face when he found out all of what had happened. Giles sat expectantly, his hands loosely clasped, leaning forward slightly in his chair, but Xander, huddled into a corner of the sofa, could only look at him.

“Xander?” Giles said eventually. “I know this is difficult for you, but if you really want to plead Spike’s cause you have to actually use words. Try your best.”

Giles being sarcastic was blessedly familiar amongst the chaos of the day. Xander smiled. “You know me, Giles. I can talk and talk and never say anything worth listening to. Not so good with the persuading people not to kill things though.”

“I think you underrate yourself but no matter. Perhaps it will help if I tell you how very sorry I am.”

“Sorry for what?”

Giles stared at him. “I sent Spike to you. Forced you to invite him in. It’s my fault that this has happened.”

Xander jumped up. “No way! Giles, you can’t take that on yourself. You needed some space with Olivia coming over, I had room, and it’s not your fault. Besides, this began long before that.”

Giles stood as well and brushed past Xander to pour himself a shot of whisky, pouring it carefully as though the precision was all that saved him from filling it to the brim. “I didn’t send him to you just because Olivia was coming,” he said. “I sent him because if he’d been here with me one more night he’d have driven me mad. Do you have any idea how annoying he can be?”

“Well, yes. Can’t argue with that. If you want aggravating, he’s your man.” Xander said.

Giles shook his head in exasperation. “He’s like a child in some ways. He sees the world as a very simple place. He’s lost every weapon he possesses save his ability to use words to hurt and his undeniable physical attraction. He’s helpless for the first time in decades and he’s panicking, clutching at anything to get him back in control.”

Xander thought about the times he’d seen that panic as Spike waited for the chip to punish him for an unthinking shove or an automatic threat. He wondered how different the world looked to Spike now that he wasn’t at the top of the food chain. He remembered the arrogance, the assurance of two years ago and felt the first stirrings of regret, not that Spike couldn’t kill, but that he’d been twisted and bent like a sword warped out of shape until it was transformed from a weapon to scrap metal.

“He even tried to come on to me after threats didn’t work. Seemed to think I’d get the chip out if he – well. I’m sure you can guess what he offered.” Giles laughed a little bitterly. “I felt rather sorry for him then, he’d lost so much of his self respect, but now he’s tried it on you and you’ve – God, Xander, do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

 He broke off, gulping his drink and putting down the empty glass. Xander collapsed back on the sofa, trying to make sense of what Giles had said. Giles joined him. The room was full of shadows now as the light faded and it made it easier to talk.

“I can’t believe Spike tried to – well, why would he? I mean you’re not gay –” Xander looked at Giles who was giving him a patient look, as if he were waiting for him to catch up. “Oh, God. Officially freaked here.”

Giles rubbed his forehead. “I’m not gay, precisely, Xander, if that’s what’s got you blushing. I grew up in an era of, well, we experimented a lot more than your generation seems willing to do. Not your fault perhaps. The fact remains that I’ve had lovers of both sexes and Spike was well aware of the fact that I wasn’t totally indifferent to him from a physical point of view. Just can’t stand the sight of the manipulative little toe rag so turning him down wasn’t that much of an effort.” Giles raised an eyebrow and said with some asperity, “And if that dropped jaw is because you don’t think someone of my advanced age is still interested in sex then –”

“No! Not thinking that at all! Well, maybe a little, but, no. You’re, well, you’re Giles. Don’t tend to think of you and sex and, can I just shut up now? Please?”

Giles grinned for the first time since the conversation had begun. “No, you may not. In penance for your all too predicable response, you may start at the beginning and tell me exactly how you and Spike got to this point. I promise not to judge you and you’ll find it difficult to shock me.”

 Xander gave way to the temptation to try. “I ate human flesh and lost my virginity to Spike after I woke up handcuffed to his bed.” He waited expectantly but Giles just looked at him, his face expressionless. “Aren’t you going to say, ‘Good Lord!’ or something?” he asked, slightly disappointed with Giles’ lack of reaction.

Giles forced words out past gritted teeth. “I may be difficult to shock, but if you're going to be deliberately provocative, you may see a side of me that you never suspected existed. Don't push me, Xander. I don't think you'll like the consequences."

Xander flushed. “Sorry. I’ve had two years to get used to the idea, forgot you haven’t.” He swallowed. “Think it might take more like twenty though.”

Giles looked at him, concern replacing irritation. “I can’t believe you never told us about this. Do you – I mean, are you ready now? Would you like me to call Buffy or –”

“No! No way, Giles. Just you. If I tell them they’ll know that I lied to them.”

“Lied about what?”

Xander met his eyes. “You always knew but they didn’t. They think I can’t remember trying to rape Buffy, they’ve never said a word about it. He offered me a lot but he couldn’t do anything to take that memory away.” Xander shuddered, his hands locked together.

“Who offered you – Xander, would you please just tell me in simple sentences what happened? You’re talking about the time you were possessed by the hyena? But Spike wasn’t even in Sunnydale then.”

“He was, you just didn’t –” Xander broke off as the front door opened and Spike walked in, kicking the door shut behind him. Xander stood up, looking at Giles, also on his feet,  with a clear warning on his face. Giles’ eyes were bright with renewed anger as he walked quickly towards the vampire.

Spike smirked at him, realising by his expression that Giles knew what had happened, in part at least. He turned to Xander, the mocking smile turning genuine for a moment. “There you are, pet. You’re late. I told you to be back by sundown.” Spike’s face was a smooth mask of polite amusement as he turned back to Giles. “Hope you had fun playing with him, Rupert but it’s time he went home. Got a lot to do tonight.”

Spike’s gibe shattered Giles’ forced composure. “You really think I’m letting you near him again?”

“Not up to you, is it?”

“I think I don’t really care about the niceties of it all.”

Two steps and Giles was grabbing Spike’s coat in rough hands, thrusting him against a wall and glaring down at him. Xander watched, wanting to help but unsure if his intervention would make things worse. Spike’s head slammed against the plaster but he kept smiling, his tongue flicking out teasingly. “Now, then Rupert. Let’s not get hasty.” His eyes flicked down and his nostrils flared, the smile vanishing. “If you got your hand bloody on Xander I’ll rip it off and make you eat it.”

Giles rolled his eyes and let go of Spike, dislike radiating off him. “Save your concern and your empty threats. The only bruises he has are the ones you left on him.”

“I didn’t hurt him. Or have you forgotten the chip?” Spike growled, his eyes fixed on Giles.

“Oh, I think you’re more than capable of hurting him still. Or you were until I found out –”

Xander heard the angry voices dim as the room began to swirl around him as it had done upstairs. “Standing right here, people,” he said, forcing the words out. “Getting tired of being fought over –”

He swayed and grabbed onto the back of the couch. Spike and Giles both moved towards him but Spike got there first, holding Xander up without any difficulty and dumping him unceremoniously on the couch. He stood and shot Giles an accusing glare. “So you didn’t hit him? What did you do then?”

 “Giles didn’t do anything to me, Spike. Just not feeling so good.”

“You’re sick? You should have said something, not come here and worked your arse off for this incompetent wanker.” Spike sneered at Giles. “Should have thought you were good at D.I.Y, Watcher. Or did you finally get some once I’d left you in peace with your English bit?”

 Giles looked at Xander and visibly held back the words that rose to his lips. He jerked his head towards a chair. “Sit down and keep your mouth shut, Spike. Xander has something to tell me and until he’s done, he’s not leaving. If you try to interfere I will hurt you. Do you believe me when I say it would give me more pleasure than anything else you said I could do to your body?”

Spike grinned sourly. “When you look like that? Yeah. I believe you.”  He sauntered over to a chair, his eyes going to Xander’s face. “It’s all right, love. I’m not going anywhere without you.”

Xander stood up, looking between them both, stricken and lost. “I can’t do this. I can’t –”

Spike was out of his chair instantly and Giles made a sound that was close to a growl. “Sit down, I said.” He looked at Xander. “And that goes for you, too. Sit down before you fall down.” He sighed. “I need a drink. God, do I need a drink.”

“First sensible thing you’ve said since I came in. Get the lad something first; he needs it more than you. Brandy maybe. And while you’re at it, I’ll have one too. Not fussy what. I’ll give you this; you’ve got good taste in booze.”

Xander saw Giles’ outraged face, began to laugh and couldn’t stop. Giles swore and he felt the edge of a glass against his chattering teeth. The fumes from the brandy and the fiery burn as he swallowed some helped calm him and he sat back and looked at the two concerned faces watching him. “Sorry. Been one of those days.” He took another sip. “I’m going to tell you this story just once, both of you, and if anyone interrupts me, I’ll get unpredictably violent, okay?” Two heads nodded and he sighed with relief.

“We were on a field trip to the zoo...”

Part Five

Giles relented and let Spike move beside Xander on the sofa. Spike sat with his arm across Xander’s shoulders and Giles wondered if the embrace was designed to annoy him or reassure Xander. He refused to even think about it being something Spike was doing for his own sake. When he looked at Spike his knuckles throbbed with pain because his hand automatically doubled into a fist. Xander did seem calmer with Spike touching him though, especially when he described feeding off the woman and ended up gripping Spike’s hand hard enough to make the vampire wince, though his hand remained still under Xander’s. Giles was able – barely - to keep his face expressionless, but he was aghast at the size of the burden Xander had been carrying for so long. What he had dismissed as a gruesome but fairly small scale occurrence had done more damage than he realised.

Xander’s story had been faltering and confusing at times, though the brandy might have been partly to blame. Giles had given him a larger measure than he’d intended and he frowned as he saw Xander gulp it down, shuddering slightly as it burned his mouth, relaxing into the cushion it provided.

Giles hadn’t understood at first why Spike didn’t help Xander out when he searched for words. He wasn’t usually so reticent. Then Xander described the memory charm and Spike’s reasons for taking it, and he drew in his breath sharply, looking past Xander’s face, haunted with old memories, to Spike. “You still don’t know? The memories have completely gone?” he demanded.

Spike nodded. “Thought the lad had gone off his rocker last night when he told me about it. Still trying to get at them but...I can’t. I know they’re still there but –” He shrugged, his frustration evident.

“You’re talking,” said Xander looking at them both reprovingly, his eyes heavy as the brandy seeped into his blood. “I’m not done yet.”

Spike nuzzled into his neck with a casual affection not lost on Giles. “Sorry, pet. But you’ve done the bit that only you know about so I can take it from here if you like.”

Xander smiled at him. “It’s just killing you keeping quiet, isn’t it?”

“I can be quiet!” Spike said, hurt.

“No, you can’t,” said Giles. “At least not in the time you were under my roof. I’ve had leaking taps that drivelled less.”

“Was bored, wasn’t I? Easy enough to shut me up if you give me something more interesting to do with my –”

“That will do, Spike,” said Giles, his voice hard. “Xander knows that you did your best to entertain me while you were here but there’s no need to dwell on it.”

Spike raised his eyebrows. “You told him? Rupert, sometimes you surprise me.” He studied Giles and smiled, open and friendly. “Offer’s off though. Missed your chance there.”

Xander looked at him. “Would you really have done - that - to get your chip out?”

His voice was high with hurt and Spike frowned. “That would bother you?” he said doubtfully. Giles cast up his eyes in disbelief. Could even Spike be so clueless?

“Too many ways to list, yeah.”

“Why don’t you start at the top and work down,” Giles suggested a little snidely. “I have a feeling Spike might not be seeing things in quite the same way as you and it could prove instructive.”

Xander swallowed. “Well, I –” He turned to face Spike, his movements slow and slightly exaggerated. Giles leaned back against the arm of his chair, watching them both in the low light of a single lamp. Spike was still touching Xander, as if he couldn’t help it, his thigh against Xander’s leg, his hand resting on his shoulder and Xander was doing more than passively allowing it, he was welcoming it. Three days ago they would have been at opposite ends of the room, the hostility between them a living thing. Giles was still trying to organise his thoughts. Clearly there had been a bond forged when Xander was possessed, severed by Xander’s belief that Spike had rejected him and now reforged. From what he gathered, Spike and Xander had only fed from the woman, not each other. Giles tried to think of anything in vampire lore that applied, but so much of it, even after centuries of research, was guesswork.

Xander seemed to find his courage and began to speak, choosing his words carefully. “I don’t like the idea of you bargaining with your body. You shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t like you ... teasing Giles. He deserves better than that. And sorry, but if you didn’t have the chip I’m not sure where that would put us so I don’t like you planning how to take it out. Well. Guess the list wasn’t that long after all.”

Giles cut in. “It’s academic anyway so perhaps we can just leave it there. We don’t know how to remove it, Spike. And for what it’s worth, I don’t approve of the chip, though obviously I’m relieved that you’re no longer killing.”

“What, not sporting enough for you? Prefer a good old fashioned staking?”

“Frankly, yes. The Initiative scares me more than you ever did.”

Spike looked as if he couldn’t work out if this was a compliment or not and Xander snickered. Spike glared at him. “Not wanting to break up the ‘remind Spike he’s fangless’ party but I didn’t come around here just to be bloody minded. I need Xander with me tonight. Got a demon to see. We should push off. It’s getting late”

Giles welcomed the move to a less emotionally charged subject but Spike’s words made him sit up straight. “Not bloody minded? You stalked in here as if you owned the place! And I suppose tattooing, ‘I belong to Spike’ all over Xander’s neck and back was done from the purest of motives?” He stood up and walked behind the sofa deciding that he did need another drink after all.

Spike smirked, leaning back with arrogance clinging to him as tightly as his jeans. “Got that right, Rupert. Pure possessiveness. Lad’s mine and I didn’t take kindly to – hey!”

 “He is not yours, Spike,” Giles said, separating the words with a deadly calm as he gripped the back of Spike’s neck and dug his fingers into the cool skin. “If you ever hurt him based on the mistaken belief that his body is yours to mark, I will carry out my earlier promise and kill you.”

“Giles! Don’t,” said Xander, reaching up to tug at Giles’ arm. “I let him do it. If you’re going to get mad, get mad with me.”

Giles let his hand slide away and sighed. “Xander –”

“No. I know why he did it, my neck I mean. Willow came by with your message and we were –”

“Getting the marks on your back?” said Giles dryly, taking his revenge for Xander’s earlier attempt to shock him.

Xander’s eyes widened and then he grinned a little shyly. “Some of them. I – I was scared. I –”

“You shoved me away, like I was something to be ashamed of,” Spike said bitterly. “Then you talked to me like –”

“Like I always do,” Xander said, not looking at Spike.

“Ah. I see, Spike. I can understand how galling that must have been. You spent the night together and then in the morning light Xander seemed to change his mind. My heart bleeds.”

Spike picked moodily at a loose thread on his jeans as Giles’s sarcasm bit deep. “I got angry.”

Giles slapped him across the back of his head. “Doesn’t excuse you being bloody childish,” he muttered. “Love bites! Did you scrawl Spike and Xander in a heart on the wall outside?” He frowned. “You didn’t, did you?”

Spike gave him a scathing look. “Must you treat me like a punching bag? And what do you mean you promised to kill me?”

Xander leaned forward and patted him on the knee. “’S’okay. I shaved –saved- you, Spike.”

He giggled as he slurred his words and Spike looked at him with quick suspicion. “Xander, are you drunk? How much of that brandy did you have?”

“All of it and then you were yapping away with Giles so I drank yours too.”

“Oh, well that’s just great! We’re supposed to be going to do a spell, remember?”

“’Spell’?” Giles asked sharply. “You really do plan to take Xander to one of your demon friends? Might I ask why?”

Xander was snuggling down amongst the cushions, his eyes shut, a small smile on his face as he went from awake to asleep with a childlike abruptness. Spike sighed. “Just look at him. Should’ve known this would happen. Lad’s not slept properly for days and he left the house without eating – no wonder it went to his head. I blame you, Giles.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Spike! You sound like his mother.”

“Oh, please. Have you ever met his mother?”

There was a short silence as Giles remembered his few encounters with the woman. She had flirted with him almost mechanically, ignoring Xander with an indifference that spoke volumes, and Xander had flushed with embarrassment before hustling him down to his dingy basement. “Point taken. Well, no matter what your plans were, they’ll have to wait. I’ll put him up in the spare room for the night. If his parents see him like this -”

Spike glared at him. “I don’t think so. I can get him home.”

“You can’t protect him if you’re attacked en route and I’ve had one too many to drive you.”

“Cautious, law abiding Giles,” Spike sneered.

Giles kept his temper. “If it were vital, I’d drive but as it isn’t and he’ll be quite safe here –”

“I’m not leaving him.”

The words came out with more desperation than Giles had ever heard in Spike’s voice, startling him out of his automatic hostility. “Spike? I don’t understand –”

“You can chain me up again if you want but I’m staying, O.K?”

Giles reached out and touched Spike’s arm fleetingly, surprising himself with a sudden flash of empathy for the vampire. He was still perfectly willing to stake him if it were in Xander’s best interests, but listening to the story Xander had told him had both piqued his curiosity and made him cautious. If they were linked he wasn’t sure how Xander would be affected by Spike’s removal. Xander had seemed to be drawing some kind of reassurance, some strength from Spike’s presence and Giles was reluctant to take that away from him. He was also taken aback by how genuine his dislike of the Initiative was. Their methods might have rendered Spike harmless in one way but what the long term effects would be was something they could not forsee and probably hadn’t bothered to try. “You can stay. With him. Now help him upstairs. I want to talk to you.”

By the time Spike came back down Giles had brewed coffee and was sipping at it slowly. “Is he settled?”

“Yeah. Not drunk enough to throw up or anything. He’s just tired out. Do him good to get some sleep.”

“This is a new side to you, Spike. You’ll pardon me if I find it a little hard to accept as genuine.”

Spike sat down beside Giles, stretching out his long legs. He’d taken off his coat and boots while he was upstairs and Giles noticed that he’d left them by the door, as though prepared to make a hasty exit. He didn’t read too much into that. He had the feeling that Spike had left quite a few places at a dead run.

“Doesn’t matter what you think, does it? Xander knows it is.”

Giles frowned. “Tell me about this demon,” he asked abruptly, his eyes never leaving Spike’s face. “What spell are you planning and why?”

“Giles, if you can’t work that one out for yourself after everything you’ve been told tonight –”

“The charm? You want your memories back? Why? You gave them up voluntarily!”

Spike shrugged. “Wouldn’t you? And I don’t give a toss what I did two years back. I worked it out that I did it because of Dru. She’s not in the picture now, is she, so I can please my bloody self. And I want them back. My first time with him? How could I not?”

“It’s pure supposition that you took the charm out of a desire to help Xander. Shielding yourself from Drusilla’s wrath is more likely,” Giles said coldly.

Spike glared at him. “She was dying! Couldn’t have laid a finger on me, you stupid git. But a human? She’d have gone for him, hunted him down or got someone to do it for her. Dalton, now, he’d have lain down and let her walk all over him, that one. But, fair enough, I don’t know for certain, just a feeling I’ve got, you know?”

“Not really but I can understand why it’s frustrating you to know of the gap in your memories. Whatever prompted Xander to tell you after all this time?”

Spike shrugged. “Far as I can make out, he just cracked. He’s been carrying this guilt around for so long and it just got too much for him.”

“Guilt over the woman in the alley? Spike, tell me and please don’t even attempt to lie, did Xander have any part in her death?”

Spike’s eyes widened. “And just what would you do if I said ‘yes’? He was possessed, remember? Not playing with a full deck. Besides, everything he did got edited out by the spell so I’m just going by what he said; I killed her, he got the scraps. Not his fault.”

Giles gave him a hard look. “I wouldn’t ‘do’ anything to him. It would just help if I knew how much he had to forgive himself for. I’m also certain that you’re a large part of his guilt. Look at you! A vampire, a killer. You’ve attacked his friends and him on numerous occasions and yet he’s spent the last two years with the knowledge that you and he –”


Giles’s mouth twisted. “I imagine that’s an accurate description, yes. It explains a lot.”

“Unless you were hidden under the bed, Rupert, you don’t know what we did. If last night was anything to go by it wasn’t just –”

He looked away and Giles watched him search for the words before giving up and growling with exasperation.

“You and he made a connection, perhaps?” he offered softly, his eyes intent, measuring. “One that’s prevented Xander from entering into a relationship that lasted?”

Spike looked up, his eyes curious. “Maybe. Who’s he been with then?”

Giles smiled despite himself. “Xander’s love life is the stuff of legends. He seems to unfailingly fall in love with the most unsuitable people and they with him. No, that’s not a gibe at you, although you certainly fit the description. The last one was a former vengeance demon turned human. She seemed to take quite a fancy to him but from what I gathered, it didn’t get much farther than a one night stand.”


“Is that all you can say?”

“Dunno. Can probably manage a few more words but I’m as knackered as Xander to tell the truth. You try kipping tied to a chair. Softer than your bloody bath but that’s about all you can say for it.”

Giles studied him. He did look tired. “I have more questions but they can wait. Go to bed. I’ll get you some blood in the morning and you can stay here tomorrow if you like.”

“Why are you being all welcoming, Giles? Thought you couldn’t wait to get rid of me?”

Giles stood, picking up his mug. “You know very well why I sent you away, Spike,” he said tersely. “I wish I hadn’t but it’s too late now. The damage is done.”

Spike surged to his feet, energised by his anger. “What damage? He’s been happy with me. I’ve not hurt him and I don’t plan to.”

“It’s only been a day, Spike,” said Giles impatiently. “You don’t love him and no matter how beneficial it is for him to confront the events of two years ago, I can only see a host of problems in front of us.”

Spike met his eyes. “Don’t know if I love him or not. It’s why I want to reverse the spell, so I can find out.”

Giles laughed shortly. “If you’re capable of love –”

“I am. Capable of just about anything, Watcher.”

‘Then you should know how you feel without the memories.”

Spike bit his lip. “I’m not asking you to take my word for it, but something happened back then. I can feel it. Something was triggered. I’ve asked Xander and he won’t tell me in enough detail.”

“You didn’t perform any rituals, didn’t feed on him?”

Spike glared. “Have you been listening at all? I. Don’t. Know.”

“But – oh, the hell with it. Tomorrow we’ll get this sorted out. Now I’m going to bed.”

He made it to the foot of the stairs before Spike spoke, his voice hesitant. “Why are you helping me?”

Giles didn’t turn around. “I’m not. I’m helping Xander. Any benefit to you is an unfortunate side effect.”

Spike’s chuckle followed him as he climbed the stairs.

Part Six

Xander woke in stages, each sense returning slowly to a body that had been deeply, dreamlessly asleep for hours. Confusion followed as the information they gave him failed to match what he expected. His body was bare under sheets crisp with newness, scented with an unfamiliar detergent. The room was dark but the deeper shadows where furniture stood showed him that it was smaller than it should be. Finally, memory caught up with consciousness and he turned his head to see Spike smiling at him, his head propped up on his hand.

“Morning, pet. Wondered if it was going to take something drastic to wake you.”

“A kiss is traditional, a wet sponge will bring nothing but trouble.”

The smile broadened. “You are feeling better. Good.” Spike’s free hand reached out and smoothed back Xander’s hair from his forehead. “No hangover?”

Xander swallowed. His mouth was dry and sticky at the same time. “Thirsty but that’s about it.”

Spike nodded. “Water’s on the table beside you. Guessed you’d need it.”

Xander rolled over and reached out for the glass, welcoming the chance to rinse out his mouth. The water was tepid but he didn’t care. He put the glass down and turned back. “Did I make a fool of myself last night?”

Amusement made Spike’s husky whisper even deeper. “Not really.”

“Oh, that’s very reassuring!”

“Shh, keep your voice down. Don’t want to wake the Watcher, now do we?”

“What time is it anyway? It’s still dark.”

“Sunrise is in ...” There was a pause as though Spike was consulting an inner timetable. “Half an hour or so.”

“Not like you to be so considerate.”


“Not wanting to get Giles up this early,” Xander clarified. He didn’t know why they were talking. His head ached slightly and he just wanted to wrap himself around the cool body beside him. He could imagine how good it would feel, how Spike’s hands would stroke him, stealing away the heat and leaving a delicious stripe of freshness wherever they travelled.

Spike chuckled. “Want him to stay asleep so I can fuck you without you getting shy thinking he’s listening.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Xander said firmly, forcing down the inevitable reaction to hearing Spike say ‘fuck’ when he was looking at him with appraising eyes. “Not here, not in this bed.”

“He’s asleep. I can hear him breathing, nice and slow. He knows I’m here with you anyway. I think he’s prepared to do laundry when we go.”

Xander felt arousal battle toe curling embarrassment. “That’s Giles you’re talking about!” he whispered urgently. “He wouldn’t understand. Let’s just get up quietly and get home.”

Spike stretched lazily, putting his arms behind his head and arching his back. The sheets slid down obediently. “Wouldn’t make it in time. And I think he understands now that when I look at you the only thing on my mind is getting you naked and - ”

“In theory! Yes! Not actually happening a few feet from his room!”

Spike sighed. “Fine. Whatever.”

Xander felt an unreasonable pang of disappointment that Spike had given in so easily but it was swamped by a far greater relief.

“I’m glad you’re seeing it my –Spike? What are you doing?”

Spike pulled the covers up as far as they would go and disappeared beneath them. In the slowly lightening room Xander watched a Spike shaped mound move until it was between his legs. “Spike!”

Two hands gripped his thighs, pulling them apart, and Xander’s mouth opened too. Spike had skipped all the teasing and the foreplay and had taken as much of Xander’s cock in his mouth as he could in one greedy, succulent mouthful. Xander felt his muscles tense under the spread fingers that held him open, felt his teeth drive into his lower lip and his hands claw at the sheet he lay on.

Spike’s head bobbed up enough for him to speak. “Yeah? Kind of busy right now.”

Xander wanted to transfer his death grip from the sheets to Spike’s hair, wanted to push that head down again, command that clever mouth to lick and suck, kiss and bite, hard and gentle, over and over, until he came. There was a simplicity to it that appealed more than he had words to express. Instead he threw back the sheets that hid Spike, exposing the bow of his back; a clean line of spine curving down to the cleft his tongue and fingers had explored and prepared for his cock two years and two nights ago. Spike moved one hand and wrapped it around the base of Xander’s cock, holding it away from his stomach, close enough to his lips that when he spoke they brushed against it like feathers, softly fluttering. “Well? Want to watch, then?”

Xander wondered if Spike had deliberately chosen those words knowing that each ‘w’ made his lips pout outwards. It hardened his resolve even as it stiffened his cock still further. “I said, ‘no’, Spike. We’re not doing this.”

“Nearly right. You’re not and I respect that choice. I, on the other hand, am, and if you just lie back and think of, well, me, it’ll be over in no time.”

He bent his head enough to capture the thickened, aching flesh again and Xander’s hands fisted in his hair, pulling him back. “That would leave me with a happy memory but what about you? No, wait. By then I’d be agreeable to returning the favour?’

Spike grinned up at him, flexing his fingers and moving them gently up and back down again over tongue slicked flesh. “Something like that.”

Xander felt his lips stretch in a tight smile. For the first time since he’d told Spike what had happened between them he felt in control and he decided, with a curl of anticipation that made him shiver, that it was time he set some boundaries.

“Spike, we can lie here and talk, cuddled up nice and close, but nothing more, or we can get up and see what Giles has in the way of breakfast. Your choice.”

Spike looked up at him, his gaze taking in every inch of Xander’s body from thigh level and up. “I think we’ve moved past that or hadn’t you noticed?”

Xander kept his voice level and sat up enough to take him out of reach of Spike’s mouth. “I noticed you ignoring what I said. I’ll accept that you didn’t realise I meant it and I’ll say it again. I’m not fucking you or letting you do me in Giles’ bed.”

“Spare bed. Or it’d be crowded. Interesting though. I’m game if you are.”

“You’re not amusing me. Last chance. Choose.”

“Fuck off.”

Spike started to get out of the bed, the sheets tangling around him. Xander grabbed him around the waist and pulled him to him. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“You don’t want me, I’m going. Should’ve thought it was obvious, you stupid git.” Spike’s face was averted, his voice indifferent.

“In what universe does asking you to come and hold me translate as not wanting you?”

“The universe where I’ve spent the last hour harder than I’ve been in years, waiting for you to wake up, keeping my hands away from me, from you, waiting, just watching your face, thinking about how it’ll feel when you touch me –”

Spike twisted until he was lying beside Xander and carried on talking. Xander felt the words trickle over him like juice squeezed from a ripe fruit, sticking to him, coating him with sweetness. His arms were still around Spike and he pulled him closer until Spike’s head was resting on his shoulder, letting Spike’s hand start to touch him, swirling patterns on his skin as the words were doing in his mind.

“And you’d let me do anything I wanted, you’d move for me, give me that look that says ‘now’ and ‘please’ and I’d do it, all of it, everything and you’d bend and twist and writhe under me, over me...”

Xander lost the ability to talk and forgot how to breathe. He’d gone from righteous anger to ... this, this state where a voice, blue eyes and a hand were all that kept him from floating away as the need took his body in gentle, insistent hands and made it weightless, hollow, waiting to be filled...

“And you’d beg, so nicely and I’d –”

“I’d do what?”

Innocent face. Hand going lower, surreptitious and swift. Xander reached down and grabbed his wrist. “You nearly had me then. Nearly. Spike, you pout and I swear to God, I’ll –”

“What?” said Spike, lips pushing forward in what could only be described as a pout.

“Right!” Xander grabbed Spike and pulled him over his lap in a flurry of limbs and sheets. He got in two hard slaps on what had to be the most biteable backside he’d ever seen before Spike stopped struggling and lay still. Somehow that took the fun out of it.

“What’s the matter, pet? Don’t stop now; I’m enjoying it. At least you’re touching me for the first time this morning. Course, it’s noisier than what I had planned, so Giles’ll not only hear it, he’ll think you’re a right kinky sod but you’re in charge, wouldn’t dream of – ow!”

Xander smiled with satisfaction as the wriggling started again. This was new territory and despite what Spike was undoubtedly thinking, it wasn’t one of his fantasies. At least it hadn’t been. Knowing that he couldn’t hurt Spike, knowing that he had a willing victim, took away any guilt. Not that he had much. Annoying, manipulative....

He didn’t intend this to take long; he was making a point, drawing a line, but the rhythm of his hand rising and falling, the clean, sharp sound of hand against skin, the heat that began to build, both literal and emotional, drew him in. One more moan, one more whimper and he’d stop. One more perfect slap, just there, just under the curve of that perfect ass. One more involuntary squirm that brought Spike’s cock sliding against his thigh. Just one more...

The knock at the door was timed to coincide with the brief moment when the echo of Xander’s hand had died down and Spike’s whimper had yet to rise. Xander brought his hand down slowly and laid it flat in the exact place he’d planned to hit next.

“Xander?” Giles’ voice was casual but he didn’t wait for a response, which was fortunate as Xander was incapable of making one. “I wasn’t expecting company for breakfast so I’m ill prepared. I’m going out to get coffee and donuts. I’ll be away, oh, perhaps thirty minutes or so.” There was a pause and then he added. “I expect to see you both downstairs and dressed when I return.”

Spike twisted under Xander’s hand and called out, “Make it forty and I swear I’ll let you have all the jelly ones.”

The pause was longer this time and Xander found himself staring at the door handle, half expecting it to turn.

“Spike, I know full well that you like the sprinkles. Thirty five. Goodbye.”

Xander waited until the footsteps had retreated and the front door had slammed before releasing a breath that he couldn’t remember taking.

“Well, I hope you’re happy now,” Spike said. “Won’t say this wasn’t fun but –”

“I’m not done yet,” Xander said in a voice as inflexible as he could make it.

Spike’s head turned, though his body still lay supine across Xander’s lap. “Thirty minutes isn’t long.”

His face was serious and Xander’s mirrored it as he slid his legs from under Spike, keeping one hand on the small of his back and moved to straddle him. “Long enough for a good tongue lashing,” he said, bending forward. Spike’s surprised burst of laughter cut off abruptly as Xander licked the scarlet, stinging flesh in a long, lazy line. After each lick he pursed his lips and blew down on the damp skin, watching, fascinated, as the red faded to rose. As he worked his way across, Spike’s body relaxed bit by bit, until he was sighing with pleasure.

Xander sat up and placed his palms flat on Spike’s backside, digging his thumbs into the line that divided it, spreading Spike open as if he were splitting an orange. Spike’s thighs parted in a wordless invitation and Xander grinned. He could remember the noises he’d made when Spike had done this to him two years ago and he wanted to see if he could coax them from Spike’s throat. Dipping his head down, he ran his tongue around in a deliberately slow spiral before darting inside. Spike threw back his head and howled and Xander curled his tongue in deeper. It had been a good sound but he was sure Spike could do better. Finally, when Spike was bucking underneath him so wildly that Xander couldn’t hold him down enough to carry on, he stopped and flipped Spike over to his back.

Spike’s eyes were navy blue and he’d chewed his full bottom lip until it was swollen but Xander wasn’t looking at his face. Perhaps he should have. Spike had reached his limit. He pounced on Xander, bringing their mouths together in one bruising, half angry, wholly loving kiss, wrapping himself around Xander, arms and legs, bringing him closer until Xander felt himself melt into Spike in a surrender of identity. They were both too close to the edge to stay locked like this. Without speaking, Spike broke free, cupping Xander’s face with his hands and kissing him once more before turning and sliding down to take Xander’s cock inside his mouth. The silky feel of a cool tongue and lips against his rigid cock brought Xander’s hips surging forward to thrust deeper inside the willing mouth even as he wrapped his hands around Spike’s erection and curved in to taste it.

They came together, swallowing frantically, eagerly lapping until the tortured, teased flesh could take no more and they fell apart, too spent to even move together, to hold each other. Spike recovered first, crawling up the bed and collapsing against Xander’s chest as though he’d exhausted his strength. They kissed just to taste themselves on each other’s lips, wrapped around in a silence neither wanted to break.

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