3,000 words, PG-13. In this chapter Spike relates some past events to Giles...
“Good Lord!” Giles stood in the doorway and raised a hand to adjust non-existent glasses. “Are you all right, William? What on Earth happened to you? You seem somewhat the worse for wear as well, Andrew. Would you care to explain?”
“It was totally an Epic Level adventure,” Andrew gushed. He had a black eye and a smear of dried blood decorated his upper lip under his nose. “A frail human versus two rogue Slayers, in no-holds-barred combat, and he defeated them both! Spike is the greatest!”
Giles’ eyebrows ascended so fast that they seemed to be about to reach orbital velocity, and to be on course for an unscheduled trip to the International Space Station, had they not been firmly attached to his skin. “William defeated two Slayers? Inconceivable.”
Spike grinned. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“Spike?” Giles stared at the former vampire and his jaw dropped. “It must be. I cannot imagine William Pratt quoting from ‘The Princess Bride any more than I can conceive of his prevailing against two Slayers. You’re back. Good Lord. I... what... how? Ah, are you still, well, human?”
Spike answered that question with an action. He walked through the door into the house without encountering any invisible barrier. Once inside he jerked his head back toward the outdoors. “Sunny day with patches of cloud, mate. If I had turned back into a vamp I’d be a crispy fried one for sure. Yeah, still human. Bloody hell, that’s something I never thought I’d say.”
“I take it that your injuries are superficial, and that there is no need for me to call an ambulance?” Giles asked.
“I’m fine,” Spike confirmed, “but I don’t know about Andy. One of those Italian bints gave him a fair old thumping.”
“I’m okay,” Andrew said. “I guess they didn’t want to get to the bone-breaking part too quickly.” He shuddered. “It was all kinds of scary. And then Spike saved me. It was so cool!”
“Did a bit your own self,” Spike acknowledged. “Could have been in a sticky situation with that Isabella bird if you hadn’t grabbed her legs and put her off balance. Ta, mate.”
Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. “Clean yourselves up in the bathroom,” he suggested. “There are some basic antiseptics and the like in a cabinet there, if you require them, and I have more medical supplies if necessary. After that,” he added, “perhaps you would tell me exactly what happened.”
“Soon as the blood was in my mouth, that was it,” Spike related. “All came rushing back, right? I was Spike again. ’S always about the blood, innit? Just like I always said.” He grinned. “Not that everything was all right with the world straight away, of course, had to fight those two daft Italian bints with only human strength, but I managed.”
“Remarkable,” Giles breathed.
“Have to admit I’d never have been able to see them off if they’d been any bloody good at all,” Spike confessed. “Whoever trained them wants bloody shooting.”
“Yes, well, I doubt if the Immortal bothers about such things,” Giles said.
“Speaking of which,” Spike went on, “what was the deal with a Buffy look-alike taking up with that git? And how the hell did she fool me and Angel? Not that we managed to get up close, of course, but we should have been able to smell the difference. We were even in her sodding flat.”
“We took extensive measures to insure that the deception was impenetrable,” Giles told him. “The original resemblance was passable but Willow augmented it with magic. I hadn’t thought about smell, I must admit, but the incantation contained a passage about ‘let the five senses be fooled’ and I suppose that would cover everything.”
“Yeah, right,” said Spike, “but why? I can get why His Magnificent Pillockness would want to have the Number One Slayer as a trophy girlfriend, yeah, but why play along with it?”
“Ah.” Giles reached for invisible glasses, reconsidered, and tugged the lobe of his ear instead. “Yes, well. We needed Buffy to have an alibi for a certain period and the Immortal offered us a perfect opportunity. His word carries weight in some circles, although God knows why, and if he testified that she was with him then any claims to the contrary would be dismissed.”
“You needed Buffy to have an alibi?” Spike’s eyebrows went up and then descended in a frown. “What, you had her doing something illegal?”
“Ah, yes, you could say that,” Giles admitted. “There were certain aspects of the funding of the new Watchers’ Council that needed rather, ah, unconventional actions to be taken.”
Spike’s eyebrows performed a rapid climb that equalled or exceeded the rate of acceleration shown by Giles’ brows earlier. “You’re not telling me you got her to rob banks?”
“In a sense, yes,” Giles confessed. “Everything that we took was rightfully ours, of course, but the documentation that proved ownership was destroyed when the Council headquarters building was blown up. The bank refused to hand it over and we had to take matters into our own hands. Luckily their security systems were never designed to cope with witches and Slayers.”
Spike whistled. “Well I’ll be buggered.” He shook his head and grinned. “Like the song, innit? ‘My Slayer was a bank robber, she never hurt nobody. She just loved to live that way; she loved to take their money’.”
“Our own money,” Giles stated. “Ah, at least most of it was our own. I fear that liberating a certain safe deposit box, which had belonged to the late and unlamented President Mobutu of Zaire, proved to be an irresistible temptation to one of the young Slayers. It contained gold bars and diamonds of quite considerable value.”
“So that’s how come you’ve got a Jag now,” Spike teased.
Giles frowned. “Really, Spike, that is uncalled for. There was nothing in the least improper about my car purchase. I did have a BMW in Sunnydale, if you remember, and I assure you that I can easily afford a Jaguar.”
“Who could forget that red, shiny, penis-shaped mid-life crisis-mobile?” Spike grinned. “Was only pulling your leg, Rupes. If that useless fat git of a Deputy Prime Minister can have two Jags then the top geezer of the Watchers’ Council deserves at least one.”
“Indubitably,” Giles agreed. “As for those, ah, dubiously acquired funds of African origin, we donated half the proceeds to charities working in the region, and earmarked the rest specifically for funding our operations on the African continent. I felt that was the most appropriate and moral use.”
“It was so Robin Hood,” Andrew chimed in. “Taking back the money stolen from the poor and oppressed of Africa and using it for a noble cause.”
“Yes, quite, and on this occasion I was prepared to go along with it,” said Giles, “but it is not any part of the remit of the Council of Watchers to engage in any kind of redistribution of wealth, however worthy the cause, and I trust that you don’t regard it as setting any kind of precedent. Our operations should be restricted to opposing supernatural foes.”
“Mobutu might have been a demon,” Andrew suggested.
Giles sighed and raised his eyes to stare at the ceiling. “I doubt it. His early life is fairly well documented, as I recall, and he died of prostate cancer. A rather unlikely ailment to cause the demise of a demon.” He lowered his gaze and fixed it upon Spike. “Let us put aside this irrelevant discussion of Mobutu Sese Seko.”
“Yeah, ’s not the right spelling to interest the Council of Watchers,” Spike said. He grinned at Giles’ baffled expression. “Seiko watches. Watches, Watchers, get it?”
“Yes, Spike, very droll.” Giles sighed again, less deeply, and once again reached for the glasses that he no longer wore. “If we could turn our attention back to the matter at hand? It is apparent that you retain the memories of William Pratt as well as those of the personality familiar to us as Spike. That rather torpedoes my tentative theory that the Spike persona’s memories were entirely those of the vampire demon and were thus lost when you returned to human form. Perhaps you could elaborate?”
“Sorry, mate, I’m no expert on the metaphysics of it all,” Spike said. “I just live in this body. Doesn’t come with an operating manual, for either the human version or the vampire one, and you’ll have to ask someone else about how memory works. Remember, Aristotle thought that the heart did all the thinking and the brain was just there to cool the blood, and he was supposed to be a clever bloke for his time. I’m not likely to be much more accurate. I was a poet, and a student of the Classics, not a biologist.”
“Damn it, Jim, I’m a magician, not a doctor,” Andrew muttered under his breath.
Giles ignored him. “True,” he said to Spike. “Indeed, your background turns out to have been very different from the one that you portrayed. Why, may I ask, did you engage in such deception?”
Spike lowered his eyes to avoid Giles’ gaze. “Not exactly the sort of image to inspire fear and awe, is it? Soppy poet, wittering on about love and beauty, sort of thing. Even had the floppy hair, didn’t I?”
“That is as may be,” said Giles, “but William was a pleasant and personable young man.”
“Ta, mate, but ‘pleasant and personable’ doesn’t cut it when it comes to mayhem and destruction,” Spike pointed out. “I learned quickly and painfully that William wasn’t going to get anywhere as a vampire unless I toughened up. Had to talk the talk as well as walk the walk.”
Giles frowned. “I can see that. I shudder to think of someone with the, ah, sensibilities of William in the company of Angelus. You could have been more forthcoming with us, however, after you were, ah, forced to throw yourself upon our mercy. I dare say that we might have treated you in a somewhat better fashion had your street thug persona been revealed to be an act.”
Spike shook his head. “Nah, would have just given Xander the opportunity to take the piss out of me something rotten.”
“Perhaps,” Giles conceded. “That is all water under the bridge now, of course, and idle speculation serves no purpose.” He scooped up a notebook from his desk. “I really must learn how to make one of those new-fangled MP3 players record,” he muttered under his breath, “or hunt out an old cassette recorder.” He took out a pen and turned back to Spike. “Let us get back to more, ah, pertinent matters. I would dearly like to hear the story behind your resurrection.”
Spike’s eyebrows rose as he stared at the notebook. “Not sure I want to go into it with you taking down notes,” he said. His lips twitched upward at their corners. “Better that than you building monuments, though.”
Giles frowned for a second and then recognised the reference. He broke into a grin. “You are casting yourself as The Mighty Spike, I suppose? I will concede that Buffy may indeed jump for joy now that you are here. Perhaps a monument would not be totally inappropriate, actually, now that you mention it. The Leaning Spike of Bracknell, perhaps?”
Andrew’s wide eyes and creased forehead demonstrated his complete and total bafflement. “A monument to Spike would be cool, yeah,” he agreed, “but don’t they have to have all kinds of, like, planning permission and things? And, like, shouldn’t we have done it when he was supposed to be dead? Although, hey, I hear they’re putting up a monument to Nelson Mandela and he’s not dead.”
Giles sighed once more. “I was being facetious, Andrew. To get back to the matter at hand, Spike, you were going to tell me how it is that you were returned to human form.”
“Was I?” Spike pursed his lips. “My plan was to get cleaned up and then give Buffy a ring and tell her I’m back. Didn’t expect the bloody Spanish Inquisition.”
“Nobody expects...” Giles began.
Spike raised his hand in protest. “Stop it, Rupes, let’s not go there.”
“No,” Giles agreed. A grin came to his lips. “It is a silly place.”
Spike groaned and gritted his teeth. “Bloody hell. Okay, I’ll tell you what you want to know. It’ll give the smell of Dettol time to wear off, ’s not exactly the world’s most romantic aftershave, is it? Just the short version of the story, though, and then I’ll ring Buffy.”
“Very well,” said Giles. “Do go on.”
“Okay, it’s like this,” Spike began. “There we were, in the alley behind Angel’s old hotel, me and Angel and Illyria and Gunn, Wesley not having made it through his mission, and there were bloody hundreds of demons charging towards us. Pissing down with rain, it was, which turned out to be a good thing ’cos everything was too soggy for the dragon to set on fire. Including us, even, which is how Angel managed to kill the bugger. So, there’s this bloody great scrap, fists and fangs and swords and what have you, but we hold our own.”
“Remarkable,” Giles breathed.
“Yeah, well, Illyria’s hell on wheels, right, and Angel was hyped up on some power he nicked from the Senior Partners somehow and he was chopping through them like a sodding Samurai, and I was doing okay myself. ’Course, Charlie-boy was already wounded and he didn’t last all that long, bunch of vamps grabbed him, and I was fighting some other buggers, and I didn’t see them get him until he was already down, but the rest of us did all right. We hacked and slashed and stabbed and the demons seemed to lose their enthusiasm for the fight. They had a giant, bloody great thing he was, only his groin was right on the same level as Illyria’s fists and, what she did to him, well, I nearly felt sorry for the bugger.”
“Quite,” Giles said, wincing slightly.
“Anyway, the demons backed off a bit, and I started to realise how bloody exhausted I was getting, and then they made what must have been one final push and they all came charging back again. One of them clobbered me on the head and everything went black.”
“Ah, yes, I know the feeling well,” commented Giles.
“Next thing I knew,” Spike continued, “I was in this weird place like some sort of temple. All white marble and arches and stuff. There were two weird-looking people there, a bloke and a bird, done up all Greek style. The bloke was in full hoplite armour, only without the shield, and the bint wore a black peplos and had her hair in an Athenian-style chignon.”
“You remember your, ah, William’s Classical education, then?” Giles put in.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Tosser. I am William. William is me. Got that?”
“Indeed so,” said Giles. “Forgive me. The, ah, patterns of speech are so different that it is as if you were, are, two totally different people.”
“I am, I assure you, quite capable of speaking in a manner that would be sufficiently formal for any occasion,” Spike said, reverting to William’s mode of speech with no apparent difficulty. “It is merely that the customs and habits of over a century have become, as it were, second nature.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean that you will revert to drinking blood out of mere habit.”
“Tosser,” Spike said again. “Although, good point, if I’m ever in a demon bar I might order a pint of O neg by reflex and I really don’t think I’d enjoy it.”
“Quite so,” said Giles, grimacing. “Please return to your tale. You were describing your meeting with two, ah, mystical beings in Ancient Greek attire.”
“Right. Okay, a couple of things about the bird didn’t quite fit with the Ancient Greece theme. She had a flak-jacket over her peplos, instead of a himation, and she had one of those Heckler and Koch sub-machine guns slung at her shoulder. So, I raised my eyebrows and said ‘Who the hell are you? And where am I?’ Not exactly original, I know, but I was a bit off-balance.”
“Understandably so,” Giles agreed.
“The girl gave me this tight little smile, like she didn’t mean it but it was expected,” Spike continued, “and told me ‘You are in the Space Between. We are the Successors to the Oracles. The liaisons between the Powers That Be and the world of Mortals.’ ’Course I wanted that clarified a bit, but she wasn’t very forthcoming, so you’ll have to just live with that ’cos it’s all I got out of her.”
“I have heard something about the Oracles, in that context,” Giles mused, “but the word on the astral streets is that they were slain by some evil entity three or four years ago.”
“That would explain a lot,” Spike said, nodding. “Asked them about the machine-gun, and the sodding big sword the bloke was carrying, and the bird said ‘We are rather keen on there not being a requirement for any Successors to the Successors.’ Wouldn’t expand on it, and I wasn’t interested enough to keep pushing.”
“It does make sense,” Giles remarked. “If their predecessors met a violent end...”
“Yeah.” Spike nodded again. “Anyway, as long as she wasn’t going to shoot me, which wouldn’t have killed me but would have bloody hurt, I wasn’t that bothered. The important thing was what they wanted with me. Turned out they wanted to make me an offer.”
“An offer you couldn’t refuse,” said Giles. “The chance to become human once more.”
Spike shook his head. “Nope. That was already decided. Part of some prophecy, bloody thousands of years old, all done and dusted once I’d done the things that qualified me for it. They were offering me the chance to turn it down.”
“Fascinating,” Giles murmured. “Go on.”
Spike pursed his lips. “In a minute. Think I’d better let Buffy know that my memory’s back. If I leave it much longer, and she finds out, she’ll bloody kill me.”
“I suppose so,” Giles said, “and she may be rather cross with me if I delay you further. Very well, Spike, call her now.”