Giles filled in the time, while Spike was on the phone to Buffy, by making a pot of tea and serving up a plate of buttered scones. Even as a vampire Spike had appreciated a good cup of tea and Andrew, although he no doubt preferred coffee, regarded tea as the proper drink for a Watcher and therefore drank it without complaint.
“She’s coming straight over,” Spike reported, once the call was finished. “Didn’t even give me a chance to speak to the Nibblet. I think she wants me all to herself.”
“In that case,” Giles said, “you had better press on with your story before she arrives. You had just said that the, ah, Oracles offered you the chance to turn down the gift of humanity. I presume it was something to do with the memory loss aspect?”
“That’s right,” Spike confirmed the deduction. “Thing is, it seems, those Powers gits had always expected it to be Angel who got the reward. Remembering all the shit that Angelus did would drive a human totally batty, no question, so the memory wipe was part of the reward. ’Course, from what Angelus let slip, and what I heard from Darla, Liam wouldn’t have won any prizes for being a decent bloke even when he was a human. So, when I beat Angel to the Cup of Ultimate Torment, and then the pillock went and signed away his right to the reward so he could infiltrate the Circle of the Black Thorn, it all...”
“Cup of Ultimate Torment?” Giles interrupted.
Spike rolled his eyes. “Later, mate. You’re just getting the main points for now. Anyway, once the Powers twigged that Spike had got past the qualifiers and was in the final, and was two-nil up on Angelus, they started rethinking. See, I was never half as big a bastard as Angelus, and I’d even done a few good things when I didn’t have a soul.”
“Yes, you did have some, ah, redeeming features,” Giles conceded. “More so than I ever gave you credit for, I must admit.”
“Pissed Angel off no end,” Spike digressed, “when he found out that I’d got over the whole guilt thing with a few weeks of being a nutter in a basement, after he’d spent a century living in alleys, eating rats, and brooding. Anyway, those Oracle characters said that, just maybe, it wasn’t fair to erase Spike’s memories without giving me some say in the matter. Trouble was, it was an all or nothing deal, or so they said. Either I took them up on it, and William picked up where he left off and it was ‘sayonara and goodnight’ for Spike, or I missed out altogether and stayed a vampire.”
“I must admit to being rather surprised at your choice,” Giles said. “I always thought that you enjoyed being a vampire.”
“Did, yeah,” Spike admitted, “but, right then, I’d sort of gone off the whole thing.” He sighed. “Fact is I’d had it up to here with just about everything. All the shit that the First put me through, dying to save the world and it not bloody taking, being a ghost and hearing that I was going to go to Hell, Fred dying, seeing Buffy – as I thought – with that git the Immortal... I was tired of it all. I’d gone along with Angel’s suicide mission and I’d pretty much resigned myself to dying. Getting all the Spike memories wiped, and giving William a fresh start, might not be all that different to dying but I didn’t care. Plus, it would probably piss Angel off no end. Got to love that bit.”
“Even though you wouldn’t remember it?” Giles raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah, well, that kind of took the gloss off it a bit,” said Spike, “but it still counted. I weighed up the things that I’d have liked to remember – Joyce, the Nibblet, Buffy saying ‘I believe in you’, Wembley ’66 and the Miracle of the Nou Camp, me whacking Angel over the head with a crowbar, Angel getting turned into a puppet...”
“Angel was turned into a puppet?” Giles sat bolt upright. “How long ago? How was he restored to his normal self?”
Spike raised an eyebrow. “What’s got you so interested? Yeah, it was funny as hell, but you really had to be there.”
“It may hold the answer to a case that we are working on,” Giles explained. “Were you aware that the avatars of the Norse gods have survived into the modern age, although with powers somewhat reduced since their heyday in the first millennium?”
Spike shook his head. “What, Thor and all that lot? You’re kidding.”
“I assure you that I am not,” said Giles. “They are benign beings, in the main, although one or two can be malicious.”
“Yeah, like that pillock Loki, right? The one who cloned Jack O’Neill?”
“I have no idea what you mean by that last bit but, apart from that, you are correct. Our problem, however, is with Odin, the All-Father. He has been afflicted by a curse. It has us completely baffled. Your mention of what happened to Angel, however, may be an important clue.”
“Okay, I’ll fill you in later,” Spike said, “but I’ll keep it brief for now, otherwise Buffy will turn up before I finish and you’ll be left hanging. So, like I was saying, there were those good memories, yeah, but there were a fair few shit ones as well. Added it up and decided I’d go for it. ‘Course, I checked a couple of things first. Always consequences, right? Wouldn’t have put it past those Powers gits to bring me back to life with galloping bloody TB.”
“Obviously they didn’t,” Giles said.
Spike grinned broadly. “Told them they’d have to bring me back in perfect health and they agreed. Worked out even better than I hoped. Used to need glasses for reading, right, but not now. Perfect eyesight. The vampire strength is all gone but I’ve got the body of an athlete. Would probably make a decent middleweight boxer; or maybe light middleweight, haven’t checked myself out on the scales lately.”
“You do seem to be in fine physical condition,” Giles agreed, “which is just as well considering that you found yourself engaged in combat with a pair of rogue Slayers.”
“Damn right,” Spike said. “If I’d still been in the shape I was in back when I got turned those two would have kicked my arse, for sure, even with the edge I had with from all the fighting experience.”
“It was awesome,” Andrew put in, his voice slightly muffled by a piece of scone in his mouth. “The sheer skill of Batman, or Elektra, against the brute strength of Sabretooth or the Rhino.”
Spike rolled his eyes but made no comment. He took a sip from his teacup before continuing. “Anyway, apart from the bit where I was going to lose my memory, it seemed like a pretty good deal, and even the memory loss bit didn’t seem all bad. So I said yes.” He looked at Andrew. “Surprised you’re not piping up with ‘totally awesome, like the Man from Del Monte’.”
Andrew merely looked blank but Giles chuckled. “And then, I take it, they restored your humanity?” he asked.
“Pretty much,” Spike said, “except that, just before they worked their mojo, the bird said, ‘of course, there has to be a loophole.’ That worried me for a minute. My first thought was the happiness clause, of course, and I had this flash of me getting lucky with some bikini babe on a sunny beach – not that it would have been all that likely for the William version of me, but you never know – or maybe being in the stands when England wins the next World Cup, and suddenly being a vampire again for a couple of painful, dusty, seconds.”
“I can see why that was a worrying prospect,” Giles said, “although obviously it wasn’t the loophole to which they were referring.”
Spike nodded. “I told them to hang on a minute, and that I wanted to know more about the loophole, and the bird explained a bit more. I’m human permanently, unless of course I get turned again the normal way, and the loophole only applied to the memory loss aspect. She told me that I’d get the Spike memories back if I drank the blood of a Slayer. Couldn’t see that happening, no way, and so I told them to go ahead.”
“And, inevitably, that unlikely circumstance came about,” Giles said. “Million to one chances, as Terry Pratchett says, crop up nine times out of ten. Hmm. I wonder if the Oracles foresaw it? Their title does imply that they have foreknowledge of the future...”
“Buggered if I know,” Spike said. He bit into a scone and washed it down with tea. “Anyway, it all seems to have worked out pretty well in the end.”
“Indeed so,” Giles agreed. “Do you recollect anything about the actual spell that turned you human?”
“What, you’re thinking about maybe using it on some other vampires?” Spike shook his head. “They just waved their hands and said ‘Let it be so!’ and, next thing I knew, I was back in the alley but now I was William.” He went on to give a recap of the subsequent events, expanding upon the account that he had previously given in his William persona, making use of his Spike memories to clarify things that he had not previously realised were significant.
“Remarkable,” Giles said, as Spike finished his tale, his scones, and his cup of tea. “I shall consider the implications, and I may wish to question you further later, but for now, if I may, I’d like to return to something you mentioned earlier. You said something about Angel having been turned into a puppet.”
“Yeah,” Spike said. “Bloody hysterical, that was. These evil puppet demons turned him into a wee little puppet vampire. Cute as a kitten. Still had his vampire strength, though, and he actually kicked my arse. Was laughing too much to fight properly...”
“Fascinating,” Giles said, “and relevant, as I mentioned, to a current case in which the Council is involved. Odin, the All-Father, chief of the Norse gods, has been smitten by a similar curse and he, too, has been turned into a puppet. Do you know how Angel was cured of his affliction?”
Spike opened his mouth to reply and at that very moment the doorbell rang.
“Buffy,” Spike said.
“No doubt,” Giles said. “I’d better let her... ah.”
Buffy hadn’t waited for the door to be answered. She rushed in, a whirlwind of flying hair and flashing eyes, and stopped in front of Spike. “Spike,” she said.
“Buffy,” he replied.
“I was kinda planning on punching you on the nose,” Buffy said, “for that ‘No you don’t’ thing, and for coming back to life and not telling me, but it looks like someone beat me to it.”
“You totally should have seen it,” Andrew gushed. “One mere human, standing alone against two with superhuman strength, prevailing through awesome martial arts ability and...”
“Andrew, shut up,” Buffy ordered. She seized hold of Spike’s arm. “We’ve wasted enough time. I’ve thrown everyone out of the house – turnabout is fair play – and I’m taking you back there. To bed. Right now.”
Spike nodded. “Sounds good to me,” he said.
“If I could prevail upon you to wait just a little while, Buffy,” Giles said, “there was just one matter on which I wanted Spike to shed a little light...”
“I’ve waited a year,” Buffy said, “and I’m not waiting any longer.”
“A few moments only,” Giles pleaded. “Spike may be able to resolve the perplexing problem of Odin, the All-Father, and his unfortunate transmogrification into a puppet.”
“Ask Angel,” Spike suggested. “He was right up at the sharp end, knows more about it than me anyway, so you can get the info straight from the horse’s mouth.”
“That would be rather... awkward, in the circumstances,” Giles pointed out. “I fear it will take some time to mend the bridges that I burned.”
Buffy led Spike towards the door. “That’s tough, Giles, but you’ll just have to suck it up,” she said. “I don’t care about Great Muppety Odin. I miss the sex.”