Home / Fan Fiction / Buffy / Stuck With A Mirror
Disclaimer: this is a non-profit, amateur effort not intended to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, the WB, or any other copyright holders of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Stuck With A Mirror
by The Brat Queen
Summary: Spike comes to terms with himself.
Spoilers: Up to The Replacement, technically some from Fool for Love.
Warnings: This is sort of slash, and sort of AU, and really meant for Spike lovers. Here's hoping they don't chase after me with sticks.
Thanks to: Maximum Woman and Meredith, who provided the plot bunny and some interesting twists therein.
"The city dump, where smells go to relax and be themselves."
Spike groaned. From where he stood, arm-deep in a pile of trash, he could hear the voice of Buffy and the rest of the Scooby gang.
Just what he bloody needed.
"People say they're recycling. They're not recycling."
A particularly glittery object caught his eye. Spike dove in deeper and unearthed an old oil lamp. Wasn't his first choice to bring more flammable objects into his place but since the crypt wasn't wired for anything beyond the TV set he'd have to make do with what he could.
Next year, though, he was getting some Christmas lights.
And a satellite dish.
"I found a spell so you can't smell anything. But it does it by taking your nose off. So, no."
Spike pulled the lamp out from the refuse around it and began wiping it off. It was old, yes, and filthy. But it would do. Might even make the place look a little posh. Add a certain air, assuming you could ignore the smell. Of course Spike was used to ignoring things that annoyed him.
"What are you doing here, Spike?"
Case in point.
Spike turned around and favored Riley with a look of amused contempt. "Oh, there's a nice lady vampire who's set up a charming tea room just 'round the next pile of crap -- what do you think I'm doing? I'm scavenging, ain't I?" Knowing that it helped to give the slower members of the Scooby gang a bit of a visual aid, he gestured to the table that he'd found and held up the oil lamp.
Willow at least had the courtesy to look and be impressed. "Very pretty."
Spike was about to thank her for her good taste but Summers cut him off at the start.
"Spike," Buffy said, fixing him with a look of contempt, "we're looking for a demon. Very tall, robe, skin kinda hanging off, deep voice…"
Spike figured he'd never stop being amazed at how dense the Slayer and her friends could be. "What, you mean a great tall robe-y thing like that one?"
To their credit, the Scoobies at least had the brains to turn and look behind them. True enough, there was a great tall robe-y thing standing by a hill of garbage. It was holding a black rod of some sort in its hand.
The demon loomed forward, pointing the rod in Buffy's direction. "Die well, Slayer."
Well not every demon was gifted with wit. Even so Spike couldn't help rooting for it while Giles and Riley tried to circle around behind it with their axes in hand.
"Hey, big guy!" Spike called out, "Kick 'er ass!"
Buffy picked up a length of pipe, probably figuring to get the rod with it somehow. Ignoring her, and the rest of the gang swarming around him, the demon raised the rod again.
"Watch out!" Xander shouted. A blast of sparks erupted from the rod, causing a pile of garbage next to Buffy to explode.
Always the gentleman - and the sissy - Riley was the next to act. "Take cover!" soldier-boy yelled, grabbing Willow's arm and pulling her away from the action.
Once again the demon fired. The blast shot through the crowd and hit Spike's lamp dead-on, shattering it.
"Oh very nice!" Spike said, not bothering to keep a snide note out of his voice. "I was on your side!" Spike shook his head, tossing the broken lamp down in disgust. Some days it just didn't pay to go to the dump. He turned and walked away, deciding the whole scene wasn't worth his time anymore.
And that's when the second blast hit him.
Spike wanted to vomit. This wasn't a pleasant sensation, but it seemed a reasonable one. He wanted to sit up, open his eyes, vomit out everything currently inside of his body, lie back down on the amazingly comfortable pile of trash he was on and go to sleep for the next thousand years.
Preferably without the insanely sharp stabbing pain that was behind his right temple.
"Bloody fucking Hell," Spike groaned. A beautiful starburst danced in front of his eyes; which was interesting, since they were closed at the moment. "That is the last bloody time I eat anything out of the trash cans at the Bronze. Bastards probably put something in there just to poison me. See if I tell anyone about that onion thing anymore. D'ya hear me?" Spike sat up, shaking his fist at the sky for lack of anywhere better to shake it. "No more!"
"I don't think that this was poison," a voice came out of the darkness. "At least I'm not sure poison would have done this."
Spike's pain receded in favor of survival instincts. In an instant he leapt to his feet and put his game face on. "All right now, who's trying to sneak up on old Spike, eh? Hasn't your mum ever told you that it's rude to skulk about? Come over here where I can get a good look at 'cha."
A figure stepped out from behind one of the smaller clumps of garbage. It stood uncertainly at a distance.
Spike squinted at it, trying to make out features in spite of the remnants of his pain. "Well? What are you then?" Something about the voice inspired a thought. "Giles? Not you is it? Or one of your Council of the Wankers buddies?"
"Er - no," the voice said, but Spike allowed himself a moment of satisfaction. He thought he recognized a posh accent the first time 'round. "Not Giles. Or the Watchers. Just, well, me."
With that the figure came forward and into the light. Even still, it took Spike a moment before comprehension dawned.
"Bloody Hell!" he shouted, finding himself propelled back a few feet where he stumbled on a stray can. He reached out for purchase and grabbed onto a crumbling piece of wood. Wasn't much, but he'd take any stake in a storm. "All right, what's all this then? What's your game?"
The figure - which looked exactly damned like him - shrugged. "I don't know," he said. "I'm just as bewildered as you."
"Come on now," Spike said. He made his game face look harsher. "What's it all about then? Who sent you? Don't tell me this is about the Slayer because -"
"It's not about Buffy," the man replied. He held out his hands in a gesture of peace. "Please, Spike, I'm not here to hurt you. I do not even know why I'm here - or you are. Truly, waking to see you there was just as much a scare for me."
"I'm not bloody scared, I'm - " Spike started, then stopped. He frowned.
Something wasn't adding up.
The answer came from the only sound he could hear in the resulting silence.
"Fuck me," Spike whispered. He stared at his doppelganger's chest. "You're mortal."
"Apparently so," his twin, his human twin replied. He raised a hand up and laid it flat against his own chest. "It's rather strange, actually, having a heartbeat again."
Spike threw the makeshift stake down and closed the distance between them in a few short steps. He shoved his mirror's hand aside and felt the offending organ for himself.
"Fuck me," he said again, loosing his game face in shock.
"I know," the mortal him replied. "I mean I am you - or you me - or we are one another." His own blue eyes looked at him in fear and confusion. "After I awoke I did what I could to ascertain what had happened and all evidence suggests that we are exactly alike."
"Not exactly, mate," Spike said. He pushed his twin away but kept his hand over the still-beating heart. He stared, for the first time in centuries, at himself. "Not exactly."
"Y-yes, that's quite true," his twin replied. He trembled beneath Spike's hand. "But everything else is the same. Our hair, our eyes, our clothes… Even -" he nodded in the direction of the scar over Spike's left eye, then touched its exact duplicate over his own eye.
Spike pursed his lips, studying it. "So that's what that looks like, eh? Not bad. Not bad t'all. Hair could use a comb though."
"It is in the way that you style it," his twin said. He attempted a shaky smile.
"Look," Spike said, straightening up and letting a bit of his deadly side creep in again. "Even if you are me, what of it? Why should I care? Why should I worry about keeping some nancy-boy version of… oh Bloody Hell." Spike stepped away, pressing his hand to his forehead as a last piece of the puzzle snapped into place.
Spike turned and glared at himself. "Welcome to the fucking world, William."
"Perhaps I should speak with him?"
"No you bloody well won't," Spike said as he picked the lock of the back door to the Magic Box. "You just stay behind me and keep your mouth shut, do you hear?"
"But we need his help," William said. He dropped his own set of lock picking tools to the ground with a clatter and knelt down to pick them up. "And I am rather good at asking for things."
Spike laughed, feeling the lock give way. He opened the door in a smooth motion. "You? Fat bloody chance. Besides, let's not forget which one of us is the real me. I'll do the talking 'round here."
"But aren't we both real?" William asked. He followed Spike into the back room of the shop. "Isn't that why we came?"
Spike turned on William, eyes blazing. "I'm the bloody vampire, mate. Not you. Don't you forget that. Only one of us is the real me and he ain't the one with a ruddy heartbeat!"
William paled, swallowing. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Just keep your mouth shut," Spike said, turning away. "This is a delicate thing. I don't want you messing it up."
"I wouldn't!" William protested. "I like Giles."
Spike had no words for that, and whatever William might have added was lost as a blaze of light fell across them. Spike and William turned in unison to see the source.
"Yes," Giles said as he stood in the doorway. His eyes flicked back and forth between the two of them from behind his glasses. "I haven't been getting enough sleep lately, obviously. Pardon me."
Spike stepped forward before Giles could walk away. "Watcher - hold up."
"Oh-oh good," Giles said, turning back. "I wasn't sure if that was you, Spike. And now I see that it is. Wonderful."
"Look, Watcher, coming here isn't my first choice," Spike said. He approached Giles as best he could while hanging back from the doorway. He didn't want anyone to see him - or him. "But I've got myself a bit of a problem and I figured you and your books could get me out of it."
"Spike," Giles said. He removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Have I been spending too much time cataloging the Zaitian incense or are there, in fact, two of you?"
"There's two of me."
"Absolutely lovely," Giles replied. He put his glasses back on. He spared a twitch of a smile in William's direction. "Two Spikes. Yes. I knew it was a Monday and yet I had no idea the full implications of that until just now. Brilliant. Well, Spike - and, Spike - why exactly have you come to me? Besides the obvious I mean."
"Obvious is it," Spike said. "Look, all I know is that I start out the night at the dump with your lot, I get zapped by tall, dark and robe-y, and I wake up with one Hell of a headache and that staring at me." He pointed at William in accusation.
"It's a remarkable duplicate," Giles said. He studied William intently. "All the details are there. Are you certain it's you?"
"Yes," William replied, looking at Giles and oblivious to Spike's glare and motions for quiet. "I've every feature that he has, every memory that he does - including the struggle with the demon and waking up to find myself beside me. There's only one true difference."
Giles frowned in interest. "Yes?"
William held out his hand, offering his wrist to Giles. After a moment, Giles took it in his fingertips uncertainly.
"I've got a pulse," William said.
Giles's eyes widened. "Dear Lord -" he bent down, examining William's wrist and placing his fingers along it to take a pulse properly. "Yes, there it is. I can feel it." He looked up at William. "You mean to tell me that you're mortal?"
William nodded. "I am like Spike in every way save that."
Spike snorted in disgust. "Look, nobody cares what he is, just make him go away!"
"Yes, well," Giles said, stepping back but still studying William, "it isn't as easy as that, Spike. This is - well it's any number of things. He could be from another dimension, or some form of energy made to look like you."
"He's bloody annoying is what he is," Spike said.
"As I said, it's a remarkable duplicate," Giles replied. "Wait here a moment. I do have something I was looking up about our Toth demon."
"Tall, dark and robe-y," Giles said. He disappeared into the Magic Box and returned with a thick book in his hand. He flipped through the pages carefully until he found the right passage. "Yes, here we are. I was attempting to discover the nature of Toth's weapon when I came across this." He held the book out for Spike and William to see. Spike immediately took it into his hands and began reading. Upon seeing William's lost expression, Giles turned to him to explain. "It's called a Ferula-gemina. The device that Toth used, that is."
"What does it do?" William asked.
"Splits us - me - into bloody two," Spike said. He looked at Giles for confirmation.
"Yes, as far as I can tell," Giles said. He reached for the book and began to scan its pages again. "If my guess is correct and this is the device that Toth used, what has happened is that you, Spike - both of you - were split apart. The device works by distilling personality traits into two separate bodies."
William frowned. "But why?"
"As near as I can tell, Toth was attempting to split Buffy," Giles said.
"Don't blame 'im," Spike muttered.
Giles ignored him. "One of them was to have been the Slayer, and the other with all the qualities inherent in Buffy Summers. I think that Toth intended to then go after Buffy, who would have been too weak to defend herself without her Slayer strengths."
"Which is why one of us is mortal, and the other is not," William said.
"Well, yes," Giles said. He put the book down and fished out a handkerchief with which to polish his glasses. "If my theory is correct. Since you were the one hit by the rod's beam it would seem that it was you who was split into separate qualities. One Spike the vampire, the other -"
"Never bloody mind," Spike said, snatching up the book again. He skimmed it, looking for any scrap of useful information. "What I want to know is how to we get rid of him?"
"You don't," Giles said. "At least not in the manner you're suggesting. Spike, he is you. That is why Toth wanted to use this against Buffy. If one of you was to die the other would as well. If Toth had killed Buffy, the Slayer would have died too."
"Would have?" William asked.
"He did not succeed," Giles said. "Buffy dispatched him at the dump after - well after he was distracted by attacking you apparently. But that's why I'm not entirely certain of this. We did not see Toth use the rod on anyone else, and now that it's destroyed I can only theorize that it was a Ferula-gemina. Although given what happened to you it does seem to be a good guess."
William nodded. "I don't believe I am a demon. I feel just as truly Spike as he does."
"Well you bloody well aren't," Spike said. He threw the book towards William in the hopes of shutting him up. "Look, Watcher," he said, turning to Giles, "You owe me. I helped you out when you came over all demon-y -"
"Yes, and you charged me for it as I recall."
"A fair price for services rendered," Spike replied. "My point is it's your turn to lend a hand to old Spike."
Giles folded his arms, frowning at him. "Really? And, tell me why I should, exactly?"
"Because nobody wants two of us," William said, speaking over Spike's own response. He shrugged, not looking in Spike's direction as he handed the book back to Giles.
Giles's eyebrows flickered in surprise, then resignation. "Yes. Well. You make a good point, Spike, certainly."
"He's not -" Spike started to protest, then clamped down on it, turning his anger on William instead. "I told you to keep your mouth shut."
"Spike, please," Giles said, "it's late. I'll do what I can to help you -"
"No you won't," Spike said, waving a dismissive hand in the air. "You're going to bleeding help him is what you're doing. Stupid, nancy, pissant…" Spike trailed off as an idea began to take shape. "Wait a tick." He turned to Giles again. "He's the stupid me, right? All weak and mortal and no big bad?"
Giles considered it, obviously choosing his words with care. "Well, I don't know enough to say for certain but it would seem safe to say that he is the - that is you are the vampire. The 'big bad' as you put it."
A slow smile crept across Spike's face. "So if he's the weak one, he's the one with a chip in his head, right?"
Giles blinked, stepping back. "No - I mean, I don't think so."
Spike pouted. "Oh come on! There's got to be some good in having him around! If he's got the chip in his head maybe we should leave him alone!"
"The chip is not a part of you," Giles said. "Rather, it is but not a part of you. Your soul, I mean. The chip is a material thing. If the rod duplicated the clothes that you are wearing then I would imagine it duplicated the chip as well. In which case you'd both have one."
"Damn," Spike muttered. He scowled at William. "Just when you looked like you had a point."
"Buffy would kill you if the chip was gone," William said softly.
Spike grimaced. "Yeah, s'pose she would. Which reminds me, let's just keep this between ourselves for right now, eh?"
Giles looked predictably disapproving. "Spike, I don't think -"
"Look, I promise to be on my best behavior," Spike said, making a vague cross over his heart. "All I ask is you look up this Verruca-oblongata thing and tell me how to get rid of my lesser half. No reason to go bugging the Slayer with that information, right? Especially if I do still have the bloody chip in my head."
"Please," William added. "If Buffy kills Spike then I'll die too."
"Real shame, that," Spike said, bitterly.
Giles looked from one to the other, then settled his gaze on William. "All right. But only for a day. And only if you promise to stay out of trouble."
Spike attempted to look his most innocent. "Of course I will."
Giles paid him no mind. "As a little insurance, I'd like you to take this along." He walked over to one of the many boxes in the back room and pulled something out, handing it to William. "Just in case."
William held it up. "A stake?"
"What the - he's got a chip too!" Spike protested.
"Yes," Giles said, "but the chip prevents you from hurting other people, Spike. As I recall it does nothing to prevent you from hurting yourself." He turned back to William. "I trust you to keep yourselves in line."
"I'll do my best," William promised.
"Oh that's just great," Spike said. "I'm the one with the bloody wanna-be following me around but he gets to be in charge. What exactly am I supposed to do then?"
Giles favored Spike with a thin-lipped smile as he turned to go back into the Magic Box. "I suggest you go home, Spike, and spend a quiet evening alone."
"Huh," Spike said, making a face at Giles's back. "'s the bloody problem, innit?"
It was a few hours before dawn when they made it back to the crypt.
"Here we are," Spike said, closing the door behind William as they both entered. "Don't make yourself at home, don't get comfy, and don't touch anything."
A spark of defiance lit up in William's eyes. "This is my home as well."
Spike laughed, grabbing a cigarette out of a handy pack and lighting up. "Don't think so, mate. This here is my home. Vampires only. Your home is across the pond and a hundred bloody years ago. Only reason why I'm keeping you here is 'cause I don't want anyone seeing you and trying to come after me."
"There's hardly anywhere that I could go," William said. He shed the long leather coat they were both wearing and began looking about the crypt for something else to put on. "I don't know of a place in Sunnydale that would provide pleasure to me." He paused, then added. "Except perhaps a library."
"Get off bloody Giles, would you?" Spike said, speaking around his cigarette. "Like a broken record with you."
"I didn't mean -"
"I know what you meant," Spike said. He blew out a stream of smoke. "I'm still enough you to know it. And forget it. There's nothing for you here or there. You're just gonna stay here until Giles figures out some way to magic you gone."
William found an old, worn, long-sleeved shirt and pulled it on. "It is not as though I wish to be here."
"Not as though I want ya."
"Yes, I'm aware of that," William said. His eyes seemed strangely keen. He straightened up, holding his chin out. "But I am not altogether fond of you either."
That earned a bark of laughter. Spike perched on the edge of his tomb and took another drag of smoke. "Oh? Do tell."
Emboldened, William spoke. "You're filthy. And vulgar. You make an abject point of rudeness. You live in a disgusting manner -"
"Bloody vampire, mate, small choice there."
"- and you have no hope," William finished, nodding in satisfaction.
Spike frowned. "No what?"
"No hope," William said. He pulled the coat on again, obviously feeling a chill in the damp crypt's air. "You destroy everything we could create."
"What would you create?" Spike asked. He threw his cigarette onto the ground and lit up another. "As I recall your main talent was making a fool of yourself."
William winced a little at that. "Perhaps. But I tried. I aspired. I endeavored to be better than I was."
"So did I," Spike said. "I aspired to be better than you."
"I'm still here," William said. He sat down in the overstuffed chair by the TV set.
"Don't remind me."
"Forget it," William said. He stared at the TV dully. "I should have known better than to attempt reasonable discourse with you."
"Do you have to make a point of speaking like a total prat all the time or is it just for my benefit?" Spike asked. He flicked some ashes onto the tomb.
"You're the only one here." William gave a ghost of a smile. "Literally."
Spike's eyebrows raised. "So, bit of the ol' Spike in you after all, eh? Don't suppose we could bring out a bit more of that fire? Keep me from being bored all day."
"I am you," William said. "How many times must I say it?"
"The old me," Spike replied. He waved the lit end of the cigarette towards William. "Not the real me. I told you, real me doesn't have a heartbeat."
"But you still have a heart!" William said. He stood up in anger, shoving his hands into the pockets of the coat as he started to pace. "Even if it's only me." He held up the stake, jabbing it in Spike's direction. "It's still important!"
"Getting all threatening now, are you?" Spike asked. He tossed the cigarette away and leaned back on the tomb, exposing his chest. "Go on. Stake away. Remember if I die you do."
"Really?" William asked. He turned the stake around, pointing it at himself. "I wonder -"
Spike was on his feet in a flash, grabbing the stake out of William's surprisingly strong grip. "Hey now! 's my heart too!"
"Precisely." William's eyes were pale, and sad.
Spike took this in, then pushed him away. "You're still here. So what? Not like anyone gives a damn."
"I know," William said. He sat back down again, folding the ends of the coat over his lap like a blanket.
"I mean what do you think you're going to do, eh?" Spike asked. He gestured broadly, indicating all of Sunnydale. "Go out? Have a life? Go to school? Join up with Buffy and her little Scooby gang? Be one of the crowd? That what you want?"
"You know the answer to that," William said. He looked in Spike's direction, but did not meet his gaze.
"Well it's bloody stupid, is what it is," Spike said. He walked up to William and poked his chest with his index finger. "You're all dreams and fairy tales. I'm the one who survives around here, mate. I got us this far. Not you."
William sighed. "True."
Spike blinked. He hadn't expected any agreement. "Well. Yeah. And don't you forget it!"
"Of course I couldn't survive without you," William said, looking Spike in the face at last. "Neither one of us would argue that. I just thought…"
William shrugged. "Nothing. You're right. I'm sorry."
Once again Spike felt as though he'd lost a beat in the conversation, but he tried not to show it. "Just don't let it happen again."
"What are we going to do now?" William asked. He sat back in the chair, tucking his hands up into the sleeves of the coat.
"Dunno about you, mate, but I'm going to watch the telly," Spike said. He lit up another cigarette and made himself comfortable on the floor. He reached over to switch the TV on and started changing the channels.
William dared a smile. "Passions won't be on for hours."
"I know, but we could still get ourselves a good infomercial or two," Spike said. He tried adjusting the reception. "Think we've got one of them dehydrators on now."
William laughed. "Remember the vacuum sealer?"
Spike grinned. "Yeah. Found that one at the dump. Could'a worked I tell you."
"It was blood," William said. "Hardly recommended for the device!"
"They stored up soup in there!" Spike said. "You saw! Just dump it in the bag, suck the air out - boom, dead chicken for weeks. Would've been real useful having my own blood bank like that."
"The blood was liquid!" William said, "How was it going to do anything but get sucked in as well?"
"How was I supposed to know?" Spike asked.
"Perhaps if you'd frozen it first -"
"Let's not be disgusting here. 's my food we're talking about."
Spike waved it off, rolling his eyes. "Frozen blood. Honestly! Don't want to do that. Gets all chunky."
A strange sound interrupted him.
Spike turned around, raising an eyebrow. "Beg pardon?"
William looked embarrassed. "Sorry. I'm a bit hungry."
Spike raised both eyebrows. "From blood talk? Thought you were mortal."
"I am," William said, ruefully. He held up his watch. "I've been here for hours."
"Oh. Yeah," Spike said. He stood up. "Suppose you have. All right. I'll run off to the Bronze. Just enough time to grab you something before the sun comes up. Anything in particular?"
William held his hands out in a circle. "You know that -"
"Onion-y thing, right," Spike said. He adjusted his coat. "Anything else?"
William smiled. "Whatever you like."
Spike smiled back, not sure why. "Right. You stay here, got it? Last thing I need is some demon coming after me and meeting up with you."
"I won't move," William said. He placed his hands on the arms of the chair for emphasis.
"Good," Spike said. On impulse he grabbed a blanket just to be on the safe side. "Back in a flash."
The Bronze only had a few customers left by the time Spike arrived, but luckily the kitchen was still open.
"… steak, bleeding rare - and I mean that literally - two orders of chicken wings, large order of mozzarella sticks, couple'a cokes and beers to go and…. yeah, toss in some of those potato skins," Spike finished up his order and handed the menu back to the waitress. She looked at him dubiously from a list of items that was now two pages long, but went off to fill it.
"Not my bloody fault I can't remember how much they eat," Spike muttered to himself. He lit up a cigarette and made himself comfortable for the duration of his wait.
"Spike!" the grating voice of Xander broke through his reverie, "Good to see you. How's it going? No, wait - I'm sorry, I forgot I don't care." Xander sat down at the bar beside him and picked up a half-finished drink that was obviously his own. "What I meant to say was why aren't you leaving?"
"Don't get your knickers in a knot," Spike said, blowing a wave of smoke in Xander's direction. "Just getting m'self a delivery. Got better things to do than hang 'round the likes of you, believe me."
"And yet you're still here," Xander said. He downed the rest of his beer and motioned for another. "Lucky me."
"It's a thrill for us both," Spike tapped his ashes into Xander's empty glass. "So what's wrong with you then? Up a bit late for a Scooby, ain't ya?"
"I've got a lot on my mind," Xander said. He ran a hand through his already unkempt hair. "There's this new apartment. And they gave me a promotion at work. And, you know, hey, I've got no problem with people who want to give me money. In fact, if they wanted to make, say, a weekly habit of it I'm behind it all the way! Full support to all Xander/money related activities. But it's just… an apartment, and a job… and a really big apartment - did you know it's possible to live in more than one room? With walls! And doors!"
"Hn," Spike said. From where he sat he was pretty sure he could recognize the bass player currently on stage. He just couldn't put his finger on where.
"It's just - " Xander gestured helplessly, gratefully accepting his drink when it came. "I'm not sure I'm ready for all this. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to move out of the basement. Wasn't all too happy about moving into the basement in the first place. But from there to this?"
Spike took a drag off his cigarette. After giving it some thought he realized he didn't know the bass player at all but damned if he didn't look like a Keplar demon he'd met a few decades back.
"Of course Anya is pushing for the move. I'd love to get the apartment just for her sake," Xander gulped down some of his beer. "But how? Promotion or no I'm not too likely to win friends and influence people with a job I've had less than a year and a previous address which says 'just to the left of the leaky washing machine'." Xander put his glass down and stared at it a moment before turning and looking at Spike in annoyance. "Why am I telling you this again?"
Spike shrugged, turning back around and looking for any sign of his waitress. "Beats me. I stopped listening to you about five years ago."
"Great," Xander said. He swirled his drink around, leaving a trail of condensation on the rough wooden bartop. "That's how pathetic my life has gotten. No more butt monkey, but I still talk to Spike."
"Hey, 's not the greatest joy of my life either," Spike said, He stabbed his cigarette out on the bar. "But if you're so all beat up about it why don't you do something?"
"Like what?" Xander scoffed. "I told you, I can't -"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Spike said, waving a hand in front of Xander's face to shut him up. "I heard you the first time. Or at least I couldn't drown out all of it. My point is you've gotta do something. Stop sitting around moping. Go find what you want and take it! 's done me all right."
Xander made a face at him. "Oh yeah. This from Goodbye Mr. Chips. You're doing real well."
"Ay," Spike said, pointing a finger at him for emphasis. "I may have a chip in my head but beyond that I'm still me. Living my own life and on my own terms. Not waiting about for somebody else to tell me what to do like I was some little puppy dog."
"Oh?" Xander folded his arms. "So what, exactly, would you do if you were me?"
Spike looked past Xander and saw the waitress getting his order ready. An idea occurred to him. "Give 'em what they want."
"This apartment you're going on about," Spike said, leaning forward and speaking as though they were the best of friends. "Needs one of them recommendations, right? Somebody saying you've got the cash?"
"Well, it needs a few things but -"
"Recommendation would help, right?"
"Well… yeah," Xander admitted.
"There you go!" Spike said. He sat back with a look of satisfaction on his face.
Xander frowned. "Come again?"
"I'll write one for you," Spike said. "Put down the info, swear you're richer than rich and you get your place."
"Isn't that lying?" Xander asked.
Spike rolled his eyes. "'Course it's lying, mate, that's the bloody point! Don't get anywhere in this world if you keep to the truth all the time. 'sides, we did live together -"
"Don't remind me."
"Not one of my favorite memories either," Spike said. He lit another cigarette. "Look, they just want someone sounding all posh-like making sure you're not a bloody murderer or something."
"Like you, for instance," Xander said.
Spike paused. He wasn't sure which part of the "you" Xander was referring to there, but decided not to give up the momentum. Especially now that he'd seen what the cheese fries looked like. "So I do it for you, they think you're great, and bang! Got yourself an apartment."
"Uh-huh," Xander eyed him suspiciously. "What's in it for you?"
"I'm hurt you'd even ask," Spike said. He put a hand over his heart as though wounded. "But since you brought it up - pay my dinner bill."
Xander looked even more suspicious. "That's it?"
Spike held up his hands innocently. "That's it. Just a little food to keep me off the streets and away from puppies and kitties."
Xander considered it.
"It's a real nice apartment," Spike said, his voice a light sing-song. "Your own bathroom… bedroom door that closes…."
"Oh all right!" Xander said. He caught the waitress's eye. "I'm paying his tab," he said, pointing to Spike. "But only what he's ordered so far! Nothing else!"
Spike again held his hands out in innocence. "You think too bad of me. Told you, just wanted something to keep m'self off the streets." Literally Spike added, silently. He motioned towards the waitress. "Hey, love, give us a pen and some plain paper. Ta."
"What are you going to write?" Xander asked. He tried to peer over Spike's shoulder.
"Usual," Spike said as he wrote. "Nice guy, pays rent on time, doesn't steal the neighbor's pets for purposes of animal sacrifice."
"You can change that last bit to 'good with people'," Xander said.
Spike made a face at him as he signed the letter and handed it over. "There ya go. One letter of pure intent."
Xander read it over. He laughed as he reached the end. "William LeSang?"
"Hey, you prefer William the Bloody and I'll be happy to write it down."
"No, no, it's fine," Xander said, still giggling. "Just…"
Spike put his hands on his hips and tried to stare him down. "What?"
"Isn't it a little too… you know…" Xander made a vague circling motion with his hand. "Anne Rice-y?"
"No," Spike said, with exaggerated patience. "Angel is a little too Anne Rice-y. Crappy narratives that have no point are a little too Anne Rice-y. That is what we call subterfuge."
"Ok, ok," Xander said. He folded the letter up and put it into his back pocket. "If you say so. Hey - what should I do if they ask to talk with you?"
"Tell 'em to call me here. Give me enough warning in advance and I'll make sure to be on the other end of the line talking all posh-like about you." Know just the guy for the job too, Spike thought. He saw his waitress gathering up sacks of food and motioned for her to meet him by the door. "Well, best be going before the food cools and I turn into something they sweep into the dustbin."
Xander checked his watch. "Yeah, guess so. Hey - thanks."
Spike smiled as he got up. "The expression on your face is thanks enough. Believe me." He gave Xander a mock salute before turning and heading toward the door. He stood just outside of the Bronze long enough to see Xander's reaction to his bill, then returned home, chuckling.
The sun was forming a faint bar against the horizon by the time Spike returned. He juggled the bags and his blanket as best he could while letting himself in.
"Hey, don't bother lending me a hand or anything. Only got this crap for you, you - oh," Spike stopped, mid-complaint, when he saw William. In the time since he'd left, William had curled up in the overstuffed chair, wrapped one arm around his legs, and fallen asleep. A strand of hair had escaped from their normally slick style and had fallen into William's face.
"Well," Spike said, shifting uncertainly for a moment. "S'pose you do need your beauty rest. Guess this can wait." He put the sacks of food into a dark and cool corner, figuring that it was as good a place as any. Feeling a bit tired himself, he walked over to his crypt then paused, thinking.
After a moment he returned back to the bags, picked up the blanket, and spread it over William. He checked to make sure nothing was exposed and then went to bed.
He wasn't sure how much time had passed before something woke him.
Spike lay inside of his crypt, his senses primed. Something wasn't right. He just knew it.
Taking a chance, he opened the lid of his coffin and slowly crept out. With his game face not on but ready, he scanned his home, listening.
Then it occurred to him.
"William?" he called. When there was no answer he tried again. "William?"
Still no answer.
"Bloody Hell," Spike whispered. He glanced around for a weapon and picked up a handy crossbow. "William? Where the bleeding Hell are you? I know you're not inside of me again - I'd be hearing your poetry in the back of my head. William?"
Spike primed the crossbow. He didn't like this. Didn't like it at all. He started running down a list of anyone who could have come into the tomb while he slept and hurt William. The Slayer was first, followed by a horde of demons who considered Spike to be an ideal weapons target. The very thought that any of them had gotten their hands on -
"It is a bit of a quandary, yes."
Spike whirled around, fully vamped. It took him a moment to realize that the voice was coming from outside. Keeping his game face on and his crossbow ready, he ran to the door.
And fell back as an explosion of sunlight came to greet him.
"Bloody Hell!" he shouted, dropping the crossbow. He covered his eyes in pain, trying to work some life back into him. Instinctively he knew it was late afternoon, and the powerful light of the setting fall sun was streaming directly into his home. He gathered himself up as best he could and made his way to the door, squinting as he tried to see.
"But isn't there anything that you could do?" William - William - asked Giles, who was standing beside him about five graves away. "Something to help the process?"
Spike stopped, mesmerized.
William was in sunlight.
Spike hadn't seen himself in sunlight for years - hadn't seen himself in centuries. But there was something about this. Something about the way the sun fell down onto his bleached white hair and touched his hands as William gestured with them. Even the leather coat that he never did without was transformed by it, turned into a shimmering mass of sparkling colors. No longer black, but a living rainbow of reflections.
He could only stand it for a moment.
"Fucking Hell!" he snarled as he leapt from the doorway. As fast as he could he ran to William's side and dragged him back in, biting down on his tongue to keep from screaming in agony as he felt himself burst into flame.
"Spike!" Giles yelled. "Your back! Do be careful!"
"What do you think you're playing at!" Spike demanded as he threw William inside of the tomb and against the far wall for good measure. "I told you to stay inside!"
"I was only -" William began, but then stopped as he took Spike in. "You - you're hurt!"
"Not the bloody point!" Spike said, glad he was still angry enough to ignore the pain that was ripping through his skin. "What exactly were you doing?"
"Spike, please," William said. He scrambled to his feet and grabbed the blanket from the chair, throwing it over Spike's back to smother out flames that had already died without the sunlight to fuel them. "You're burned!"
Spike grabbed William's wrist and snatched his hand away. "I know what I am! What are you, eh? Trying to get us killed?"
"He was speaking with me, Spike," Giles said as he entered the tomb. "I assure you there was no one around."
"He could've done it in here," Spike said, not taking his eyes off of William for a second.
William shook his head, tugging his wrist to try to release it from Spike's vice-like grip. "Please, Spike. I'm sorry. I didn't mean -"
"Didn't think more like!"
William nodded, acquiescing. "Yes. I'm sorry." He trembled, but looked up again, his eyes crystal blue. "But could you blame me?" he whispered.
"Yes - er, let's try to take a breath, shall we?" Giles said. He stepped forward and attempted to impose himself between the two of them. "Spike, let him go. There's no telling what might happen if you damage him before you are rejoined. It - it might weaken you in some fashion."
"Might still be worth it," Spike said, but he let William go. "So what's the deal? Found a way to get us out of this?"
"I think so," Giles said. He reached into his coat and pulled out some papers. "Here. I've made copies of what I've found. I believe there's a way to break the spell which is on you, but as I was telling… telling you" he nodded at William "I don't have all of the supplies yet in the shop."
"Just great," Spike said. He stepped back, pushing William away from him for good measure. "How bloody long then?"
"Oh, not very," Giles said, adjusting his glasses. He handed the paperwork over to William. "I've got the items on order, actually. Part of the stock for the grand opening. But it may be a few days."
"And what am I supposed to do in the meanwhile?" Spike asked, directing the question out to the Fates as much as he was to Giles.
"Well," Giles said carefully, "there is a way it might go faster, if I were to reveal the nature of the problem to Willow. Someone of her skills -"
"No," Spike said, flatly. He made a chopping motion with his hand to drive the point home. "Nobody knows about this but us."
"But, Spike…" William pleaded.
"No," Spike said. "Nobody's to know about you." He turned back to Giles. "Couple of days the best you can do?"
Giles slumped his shoulders in resignation. "I'm afraid so, yes. I can try to tell them to hurry with the delivery but -"
"Good," Spike said. "Do that. Let me know how it goes. But don't tell anyone!"
Giles nodded, giving William a look of apology. "If that is what you wish. However do remember your promise, Spike."
"I've been keeping my promises," Spike said. He looked daggers in William's direction. "Can't claim as much for him."
"Even so," Giles said, "do be careful." To William he added. "I'll be back as quickly as I can."
"Thank you," William said, smiling at Giles as he departed.
Spike shook his head at William, then searched for some cigarettes. "Bloody pathetic, you are."
"He's attempting to help," William said. He found a partially crushed pack and offered it to Spike.
"Still stuck with you though," Spike said. He took the cigarette and tried to sit down, wincing as the slight motion of bending sent pulses of throbbing pain from his back to his fingertips. "Bloody Hell," he muttered, then attempted to light his cigarette in spite of the difficulty.
"Let me," William said. He stepped forward and took the matches from Spike, lighting one in an easy single-handed manner, then holding it steady while Spike drew in a breath and ignited the end. William looked worried. "You're hurt."
"Yeah, save me the fucking news flashes, would you?" Spike said. He looked around, wondering where he could rest while his body repaired itself. "I'm aware of it."
"Is there something I could do to help?" William asked. He looked around as well, searching for inspiration. "Something to soothe you?"
"Can't be that much mortal," Spike said. He drew in a shaky breath of smoke and let it out slowly. Even his lungs were hurting. "You should know this isn't exactly cured by a little Calamine lotion and a cup of hot tea."
"But still there must be something," William said. His eyes settled on the remnants of the food that Spike had brought home. "Would you like to eat? I saved you some of the best bits."
Spike groaned, turning away from the sight. "No. Not like this. Just the thought of food is enough to make me be sick." Spike closed his eyes and tried to imagine what his back must look like. Didn't feel like he'd completely destroyed it - his clothes were still there - but even still, it felt like Hell. "Had enough of that in the past 24 hours, let me tell you."
"I suppose so," William said. He looked defeated. "It's a pity you can't go hunting. But in your condition even the softest light would damage you."
"In my condition even the softest kill would damage me," Spike said. He tapped his forehead. "Or are you forgetting a little mechanical problem that we both share?"
"Oh. Yes," William sighed, then laughed ironically. "A pity that I can't do it for you."
"Be a damned sight hard without the fangs, mate," Spike said, puffing on his cigarette. "But if you want to chase around the neighborhood unarmed be my guest."
"It'd be of no use to you," William said. He sat down on the arm of the chair. "And if I have the chip inside of me as well I'd be unable to kill for you either."
"You'd do that for me?"
William seemed surprised. "Of course I would."
"But it's not your style," Spike said. He gestured with the cigarette. "Thought you were all poetry and daisies."
"However I am you," William said. He stood up and stood beside him. "Spike, we are one another, no matter our differences. Your needs are my needs. Your wants, my wants. Your heart…" William trailed off, looking away at nothing in particular.
Spike tried to follow him. "What?"
William turned back, a strange look was in his eyes. He held up his wrist. "My heart."
There was a beat before there was understanding.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Spike said. He stepped back, dropping his now-forgotten cigarette.
"Why?" William asked. Not waiting for Spike's response he shed the leather coat and began to roll up his sleeve. "It's mortal blood, Spike, you've said as much yourself!"
"Yeah but it's my bloody blood!" Spike said, then heard himself, then tried again. "I mean -"
"Who's better?" William asked. He patted his chest. "This is your body as much mine. It won't activate the chip if you touch me. And as long as we are in separate bodies it is just as new and as fresh as any mortal's would be!"
Unable to help himself, Spike felt a tinge of hunger at the thought of fresh, hot, beating blood. He tried to shake it off. "Look, it makes no sense!"
"It makes perfect sense!" William said. He held out his wrist, vein-side up. Softer, he said "You need it, I can provide it. Why would I deny this to you? Why would you hold back?" When Spike did not respond, he added "What are you afraid of?"
Spike clenched his fists. He looked from William, to the floor, and back to William again. Somewhere inside of him was the thought that this was the daftest idea. Need, however, won out.
The sensation was strange. Oily. Familiar. But not unpleasant.
It was, in fact, strangely all right. As though it fit. As though this was the one thing that did fit and made sense, and filled everything inside of him that had ever been missing.
It did not, in truth, end his hunger. Sated it somewhat. Eased its rough edges. But did not fulfill his nightly, aching, need. In that it was lacking. Missing the certain something that made blood what it was.
Still, he drank. Drank because in it he tasted something else. Something new, and interesting, and something he'd never experienced before. Something he did need and had been aching for all his life. A warmth. A desire. A passion.
He drank. And he kept drinking. Swallowing down the blood in big, greedy gulps, taking in as much as he could because he needed it. Not it, but what it was, what it represented.
What it came from.
He drank. Until suddenly he could drink no more.
"Giles you've got to do something!" Spike did not bother with preliminaries as he burst into the Magic Box. A pale red light still burned in the sky, illuminating the front room of the store where Giles sat amongst boxes and nothing else Spike cared about. "I didn't mean to!"
Giles stood up, focusing on the limp body in Spike's arms. "Oh good Lord."
"It was an accident," Spike said. "Off his bloody idea! Honestly!"
"Did I miss a memo?" Xander asked. He turned to Riley, who was holding up part of a half-assembled shelf for him. "Because the last time I checked there was only one of him. And we held that meeting were we all decided it was actually three too many."
"Shut it you," Spike growled.
"Yes, it's - it's very complex," Giles said to Xander. "Here, both of you, lend a hand. Take him to the back room. There's a table there you can put him on."
"If you say so," Riley shrugged, but complied, grabbing William by one arm while Xander took the other.
"Here now - don't you hurt him!" Spike said, following after them.
"Spike, what in Heaven's name did you do?" Giles asked. He polished his glasses then began to examine William's body.
"It was his idea!" Spike said again. He hovered, keeping his eyes on William's still-breathing chest. "I didn't mean to get carried away like that! Just tell me if I can fix it!"
"Does someone want to tell me what's going on?" Riley asked.
"Does someone want to tell me I'm having a bad dream and I need to stop eating circus peanuts before bedtime?" Xander added.
Giles looked critically at the bite marks on William's wrist. "You're not telling me you actually drank from him?"
"Look," Spike said. He laid his hands down on the table, facing Giles. "Just tell me how I can fix it. Can I give him a bit 'a me without messing the whole thing up?"
"You mean give him your - like a vampire?" Giles asked. He put William's hand down gently, causing him to stir. "Well, I honestly don't know."
"Not the whole thing, then!" Spike said. He tried to keep a note of pleading out of his voice, hating how keenly aware he was of Xander's and Riley's presence. "Just a taste! To make him better!"
"Yes, but it's quite complicated!" Giles said. "This has never happened before, Spike. I'm only somewhat certain of how the problem began, let alone what a situation like this will do to it!"
"Whatever you need to do," Riley said, "You'd better do it quickly." He gave William an examination of his own. "He's fading fast."
Spike zeroed in on him. "Dying?"
Riley nodded. "If it were me I'd get him to a hospital."
"Right, that's it," Spike said. Off Giles's look he said "We know he can't die! I can at least do something about that!"
Giles shrugged. "I suppose so."
"Ok, does anyone want to explain why there are two Spikes around?" Xander asked.
"Let me," Giles said, motioning for Xander and Riley to join him. "Spike - Spike's not in a position to speak at the moment."
Glad for the peace, Spike propped himself up on the table beside William and began rolling up his sleeve. "All right, mate," he said softly. "There's to be no dying on me, you hear? I'm keeping you around and frankly you don't get a say in the matter. Got it?" With that Spike bit into his wrist, going down deep enough to pierce a vain without releasing a fount of blood. He waited until just enough seeped onto the surface of his skin, then bent down, rubbing the liquid across William's mouth until he moved and began to drink.
"There we are," Spike whispered. He reached out to stroke William's hair with his free hand. "Nice and easy now. Just enough to put some of the pretty color back in your cheeks, eh?"
"You - " William tried to speak, but Spike silenced him.
"Just a little more," he said, pressing his wrist to William's mouth. "Not enough to turn ya. Just don't want you going around all weak-like."
William complied, licking softly at Spike's wrist until Spike finally took it away. "Thank you," William said. He reached out for Spike's hand and held it in his own.
Spike growled a little, but did not remove it. "Yeah, well. Couldn't have you dying on me now could I?"
William smiled. "No."
"They're both Spike?" once again, Xander's voice interrupted Spike's reverie.
"As far as we can tell, yes," Giles replied. "They're both equally Spike, just different aspects of him."
Riley looked over at them with a glint in his eye. "Psychologically, this is fascinating. Doesn't it make everyone want to lock them in separate rooms and do experiments on them?" He smiled at Giles and Xander then, upon seeing their looks, shrugged. "Just me, then."
"No bloody experiments," Spike said. He swung his legs down off the table then helped William to get up. "And no spells either."
"But Spike - " Giles said.
"Look," Spike said, interrupting him. He still kept William's hand in his own. "He's just a part of me as anything else so I get to decide what happens to him, right? And I'm deciding that he's coming home with me."
"You're taking yourself back to your crypt?" Xander asked. He looked to Riley and Giles for support. "And we're liking this? We're happy with the two Spike thing?"
"I am," Spike said. "And that's all that counts." He paused, then turned to William. "You ok with it?"
William grinned, slicking his hair back with his free hand. "Hell yeah." He paused, then added "Mate."
"Oh good," Giles said, rubbing his eyes with his fingertips. "He's turning into a bad influence on himself. Wonderful."
"It'd say it's bloody brilliant," Spike said. With that, he gave them all a two-fingered salute, and took William home.