Giles dropped the books on the table and wondered for the tenth time in just
as many minutes why he didn't have a life beyond this blasted library and
the several thousand musty volumes it contained. True, most of the time he
loved what he did, and he loved the smell of five hundred year old books
even more, but the events of the past few months had taken their toll.
Spike showing up in Sunnydale, Angelus resurfacing and killing Jenny, Oz's
murder, Giles' own impulsive deflowering of Willow, Buffy having sex with
*two* vampires - although, thankfully, not at the same time - and now ending
up pregnant beyond all the laws of physiology...well, there was only so much
a man could take.
It was enough to make him long for the drug-induced haze of his youth.
He sighed and turned his attention to the book in front of him. It didn't
look any more promising than the last twenty or so volumes he'd already
scanned. There didn't seem to be any other recorded instances of a human,
Slayer or otherwise, becoming pregnant by a vampire. It wasn't supposed to
be possible. Period.
So how did he account for Anne and Buffy?
And when the hell was Damien going to return his calls?
The sound in the stacks behind him was almost imperceptible, but he'd been
expecting it. In one fluid motion, Giles had the crossbow in his hand and
was swinging it up to face the intruder.
"Don't come any closer," he ordered.
Spike stood before him with an insolent grin plastered on his face, hands
raised up in a mocking gesture of surrender. "Ease up, old man. I didn't
come here to eat." He stared at Giles appraisingly, his lip curling with
disdain. "Even if I did...you're a bit past prime for my tastes."
Giles glared, keeping the crossbow trained on Spike's chest. "Forgive me
if I don't find that the least bit comforting," he returned drily.
Spike shrugged. "Can't say I really give a shit about your comfort level."
Did the Watcher really intend to take him out? Spike knew he had more than
the required balls for the job, but would he risk the Slayer's happiness?
"You plannin' on pullin' that trigger? Or aren't you even the least bit
curious about why I'm here?"
"I think I have a pretty good idea of why you're here, and who sent you.
I'm sure that Buffy means well, but -"
"The Slayer doesn't know I'm here," Spike interrupted. "And I'd rather she
didn't find out, either."
"Well, when she finds my drained corpse in the morning, she might get a bit
suspicious, don't you think?"
Spike laughed. "Don't think too highly of your own slaying skills, do you,
Watcher? You are the one with the crossbow, after all." He leaned back
against the table and crossed his arms. "Look, if I'd wanted you dead - any
of you - you would be. I've had ample opportunity, not to mention getting
up close and personal with the Slayer on a regular basis. I mean, let's
face it, I've had her in some pretty vulnerable positions -"
Giles' face went purple with rage. Before Spike knew what was happening,
the Watcher had him by the throat and slammed him up against the wall,
crossbow bolt pressed into his chest. "Shut. Your. Bleedin'. Gob," Giles
gritted out, "or I'll make you *wish* I'd pulled the trigger."
Gone was the well-bred, uptight librarian, and in his place was a
thoroughly pissed off Eastend brawler. The strength in the other man's
hands caught Spike by surprise. There was a lot of muscle hiding underneath
all that tweed. And a lot of rage. Any doubts he had about the Watcher's
ability or inclination to dust him had gone the way of the mild-mannered
librarian, leaving only one coherent thought.
His ass was perilously close to being annihilated.
In spite of all that, or maybe even because of it, a chuckle of
appreciation snuck out. He tugged at the Watcher's arm, trying to keep his
larynx from being crushed. "Easy, mate," he managed before the hand
tightened even more.
"I'm not your *mate*," Giles growled dangerously. "Buffy thinks you're
worth saving...that you've got a soul. Trust me when I say that I don't
suffer from the same delusion."
"That makes...two of us...then," Spike choked out. "But what...we
think...doesn't...really... matter...does it?"
Giles stared hard at him, struggling with his intense desire to destroy
the vampire once and for all. It would be so easy; just press the bolt into
cold, dead flesh and feel it evaporate under his hand. He felt himself lean
in closer, just a fraction of an inch, almost giving in to the temptation
before Spike's words make him pull back. As much as he hated to admit it,
the vampire was right. What they thought - what they wanted - didn't matter
The only thing that mattered was Buffy...and Buffy was in love with Spike.
Cursing, Giles shoved the vampire away from him. Spike stumbled, then
righted himself, his laughter turning to a cough as he rubbed the imprint of
Giles' hand on his throat. "Gotta...hand it to you, Watcher," he said
hoarsely, "you hide your inner demon well."
"I've had a lot of practice. You would do well to remember that. Now,"
Giles set the crossbow down on the table, and leaned against the edge,
crossing his arms, "as much as I've enjoyed our repartee so far, it still
begs the question...why are you here?"
Spike looked away, feeling suddenly awkward, like a schoolboy being grilled
by his date's father. A date he'd knocked up, no less. He took a deep,
unneeded breath and plunged in. "I'm worried about the Slayer." Looking
up, he found Giles staring at him impassively. "She told me she's going to
start patrolling again tomorrow. It's too soon, I don't want her out
Giles cocked an eyebrow. "I really don't see how it's any of your
Spike's temper flared. "It bloody well *is* my business! She's not up to
her full strength yet, and I'm not about to let *my* woman get herself torn
up while protecting this shithole town."
"*Your* woman? Buffy is not your property, Spike, she's the Slayer. *She*
understands that, and moreover, she takes pride in it. Perhaps your concern
lies less with her well-being than with the preservation of your own kind."
The vampire snarled with frustration as he picked up a book and threw it
across the room. "I don't give a fuck about the preservation of my kind!"
He stalked toward the Watcher, who stood up straight, letting his hand rest
on the crossbow. "You *know* she's not ready...and you know that her
condition throws everything for a soddin' loop. Are you really that much of
a heartless prick that you'd send her off to get killed? Oh, wait, I
forgot - anything for the bleedin' Council, right?"
"Buffy is, and always has been, my first and only concern," Giles muttered
through clenched teeth. "Patrolling tomorrow was *her* decision - I had
nothing to do with it. If you're so bloody worried about her, why don't
*you* watch her back the way that Angel used to? Or don't you care enough
to put yourself on the line for her?"
Spike's eyes narrowed at the mention of Angel. Clever ploy, that -
throwing the ex-lover in his face. Surprising coming from the Watcher,
though, considering that Angelus had murdered the man's girlfriend and left
her splayed out on his bed like some macabre present the cat dragged in.
"Angel wasn't quite the paragon that you think he was, even before Angelus
showed up. Like you, he hid his inner demon well."
"Unlike you, I suppose, who makes no effort to hide yours at all."
Spike spread his arms. "Hey, I'm exactly what you see. I don't make
excuses for what I am. I'm a vampire, I drink blood, and I get my rocks off
by smashing things." And banging Slayers, he thought, but figured it was
prudent not to add that little fact to the list.
He started pacing around the main floor of the library in a nervous fit of
energy. "I'm not exactly complicated, you know? Before Angelus came back,
my unlife was pretty simple. Drain the general population, shag Dru, try to
kill the Slayer...world by the ass, right?" he shrugged. "Only I couldn't
seem to kill to chit, could I? All I got was an organ dropped on me for my
trouble. And then *he* showed up...and Dru changed...and there I was,
stuck in that fucking wheelchair..." His eyes met Giles' unwavering stare.
"I just wanted it all back the way it was. So I came up with that stupid
plan - I never thought she'd go for it. Never thought she'd actually..."
The memory of her screaming his name that first time caused him to shake his
head ruefully. "An hour after we fu-" He broke off as the Watcher's eyes
narrowed. "An hour later, I was helping her kill Drusilla.
"I did more than lay myself on the line for your Slayer. To save her life,
I sacrificed my whole world."
"You seem to have recovered admirably, trading one woman for another."
With a deadly snarl, Spike's face shifted. He stopped just short of
grabbing the other man, and pointed a finger. "You don't know a thing about
it! What Dru meant to me, what losing her meant... And I bloody well
didn't plan what happened with the Slayer - I fought it with everything I
had! But just like I couldn't kill her...I couldn't seem to walk away,
either." The admission seemed to deflate him, and he shifted back. "She
was under my skin before I knew what hit me."
Giles was silent as he contemplated the vampire before him. Spike seemed
sincere enough, but demons were notoriously adept liars. Still, both Anne
and Buffy had put their trust in one, enough to fall in love with him and
defy every part of their calling. And as much as he hated vampires in
general and Spike in particular, what was done was done, and Buffy needed
every bit of support they all could give her. "Do you love her?" he asked.
"What, you mean you actually think a demon like me is capable of it?"
"At this point, Spike, I don't know what I think. But I suppose that if a
vampire can get a Slayer...pregnant...then anything is possible. So, I'll
ask you again -do you love her?"
Spike wished he could lie. More than that, he wished he'd never even come
to the bloody library in the first place. But he'd already placed himself
in the line of fire, and the only way out was the simple, unvarnished truth.
He leveled a steady gaze at the Watcher and replied, "More than I ever
wanted to kill her." He laughed bitterly. "Ain't that a kick in the nads?
Spike, once sidekick of the Scourge of Europe, killer of two Slayer's - now
pansy-ass in love with one. I can't even bloody drain my victims when I
feed!" he shouted in disgust.
Giles looked at him with interest. "Buffy mentioned that...it's really
true? You eat, but don't kill?"
"I haven't killed anyone in over two months. Not that I can remember,
"Is it because you feel some sort of remorse for what you've done?" Giles
Spike shrugged. "I don't feel anything, I just...stop feeding. It's as if
the desire for the kill just isn't there anymore. 'Cept when I went after
Angel's boys, but I was plenty pissed off, you know? And they were
vampires, not human."
"Interesting," Giles began excitedly. "Do you think - " He realized what
he was doing and stopped, shaking his head. "This conversation is wrong on
so many levels, I can't even begin to count them."
"Tell me about it, mate," Spike replied. "How the fuck did this happen?"
He walked over to the stack of books on the table and picked one up.
"You're the one with all the answers, what do the bloody books say?"
Giles followed him and took the book out of his hand. "They say exactly
nothing. There has never been a mention in any of the standard texts, not
that I can find, anyway. Our only resource so far has been the journals,
and they..." His eyes became hooded and he turned away.
"They what?" Spike grabbed the Watcher's arm. "What do the journals say?
Are you telling me you finished the translations?"
"This morning. I - I haven't told Buffy. Or Willow. They have enough to
worry about without -"
"Blast it all, Watcher! What do the fucking things say?"
Giles pulled away and walked over to the cage, retrieving a large book. He
handed it to Spike. "Here, inside...I don't even know why I brought it with
me tonight. Habit, I suppose. I didn't think I could read them again, but
I just keep hoping that they'll shed some light our situation - give us
something, *anything* to go on. Or maybe I keep hoping that each time I
read them, it all ends differently, somehow. Never does, though."
Spike cocked an eyebrow and stared at the pages as if they were going to
leap up and bite him. "This is it, then? The final act in all of this?"
Giles nodded. "Hmm. Fitting turn of phrase, by the way."
All of a sudden, Spike didn't want to know. But he could no more look away
from the pages than he could walk away from the Slayer. He *had* to know.
Quickly, his eyes skimmed over the Watcher's shaky hand, trying to decipher
some of the words. The handwriting contrasted sharply with Willow's even
script, and as he continued to read, he understood why it deteriorated with
each line. The feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach grew, and the
room receeded as he was transported back five hundred years to the place of
his dreams. Every vivid image came back to him, only now, he knew what each
moment had been leading up to. When he reached the last line, he stared up
at the Watcher with a look of horror that he quickly masked.
"Yeah, so?" he shrugged. "None of us figured on a happy ending anyway,
"And you're not bothered by what you just read? Not the least bit
concerned about what it might mean for you and Buffy?"
"This -" Spike shook the papers in his hand, "this all happened centuries
ago! It's got fuck-all to do with me and the Slayer. *You* would never do
what that other Watcher did, so none of it matters."
"I wish I could believe that, Spike. I really do." Giles sighed and
removed his glasses, cleaning them more out of habit than out of any real
need. "But there are too many parallels to ignore."
"Well, what are you doing about it, then? Not like you can ask those
pillocks in the Council, either. So where do we go from here?"
Giles blinked at the "we", then realized that he'd have to get used to
Spike being part of the equation. "I've been trying to contact an old
friend, someone I believe has already seen the journals. He's an expert in
demons, and demon physiology for starters, and a medical doctor. I haven't
been able to locate him as yet."
"Well, you'd better, because time isn't standing still for any of us." He
ran a hand through his hair, then looked up with bleak eyes. "Another
thing...the Slayer is scared. She puts up a brave front and all, but
underneath she's just a frightened little girl. We're talking about someone
who faces death on a daily basis, and never runs, so to me, a scared Slayer
is far more disturbing than anything written in those soddin' journals." He
pierced Giles with his gaze. "If you let her down, I'll make Angelus look
like an amateur in the torture department."
"I have no intention of letting her down, and I don't need you to remind me
of what Buffy needs. Perhaps you'd be better off looking in the mirror -
oh, wait, you can't. You're not human."
"I might not be human, but I'm what she wants. Get used to it, mate."
"I'll never get used to it, but that doesn't mean I can't work around it.
And this petty fighting is getting us nowhere. Can I count on you to shadow
her on patrol?"
Spike nodded. "I hadn't planned on doing anything else. Do you really
think she's ready?"
"As ready as she'll ever be. You'll have to keep out of sight. If
anyone, Buffy included, finds out what you're doing, there'll be hell to
pay, both with the Council and with the demon community, I'm sure. Willow
is the only one besides myself who knows, yes?"
"And Willy," Spike replied, "but I think we've got him covered. He's
scared shitless of us."
"Until someone with a bigger wallet or fist comes along. I would wager our
time frame has become even shorter, then, the journals notwithstanding."
"Yeah, well...that's life on the Hellmouth, innit? Good times for all."
Giles sighed. "I hear war-torn Beirut is lovely this time of year," he
"Slightly better mortality rate, anyway," Spike reasoned. He stared at the
Watcher. "So, we're clear, then? I don't get in your way and you don't get
"Agreed," Giles nodded, "but if Buffy even stubs her little toe, then all
bets are off."
"Right. And I want to know anything you turn up first hand. No leaving me
out of the loop."
When Giles nodded again, Spike turned and headed toward the stacks, leaving
the Watcher to stare after him pensively. The meeting hadn't quite turned
out as Giles had expected. Far less bloodshed, for one thing.
Spike paused at the top of the stairs. "Watcher..." he called without
turning around, "if anything happens to me, you'll - "
"I'll look out for her, Spike. You don't even have to ask."
The vampire nodded, and left without a sound.
No, Giles thought tiredly, not as he'd expected at all.
To be continued...