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The Beginning of Knowledge

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The first thing he notices is that he’s hungry—starving in fact. He wants nothing more than to—


He falters at that, disconcerted by the unfamiliar craving for something red and rich and coppery.


“’bout time you woke up.”


The voice is his own, which is decidedly odd, because he hadn’t spoken. “What?”


And that’s odder still, because the timber and pitch of his voice is all wrong, although somewhat familiar. He knows that voice, and—


He opens his eyes to see his own face staring back at him, and Wesley sits up so quickly that his double is forced to move back.


“Before you ask, the witches are already working on it.”


“Working on what?” he asks, staring down at his hand, and he realizes that it’s not his hand. “What the hell?”


“Take a deep breath, mate,” his face says, and Wesley finally realizes that it’s his face, his voice, but Spike’s accent and intonation.


“Spike?” he asks.


“Got it in one,” Spike replies. “Bit freaky, innit?”


“You could say that,” Wesley says faintly. “I think I’m hungry.”


Spike—with Wesley’s face—nods. “Figured that. Here.”


Wesley grimaces when he sees the thick, red liquid, but his mouth begins to water immediately, and he drinks it without protest. “What happened?” he asks, his voice somewhat distorted by the fangs.


“Your guess is as good as mine,” Spike replies. “We were out on a patrol, and that took us through Wolfram & Hart’s old headquarters. Something in their vault flashed when we entered, and this was the result.”


Wesley glances around. “You brought me back to the hotel?”


“And I’d make a joke about you needing to lose weight, but that would be insulting to me,” Spike replies with a smile. “Still hungry?”


“Yes, god,” Wesley says, and grabs the second mug. “How do you stand it?”


Spike shrugs. “You get used to it. New vampires have to feed, and considering that you’ve never dealt with the hunger before, you’re hungry. Best thing to do is eat until you can’t eat anymore.”


“I had no idea,” Wesley replies. He doesn’t look at Spike, because it’s too weird to see his face and know that it’s not him.


His sense of self has been fragile ever since waking up in the hospital, and seeing someone else wearing his face is doing nothing to help that.


“No one but a vampire would,” Spike replies. “It’s not something that you can explain in words.”


Wesley tries to think about how he’d describe the hunger he’s still feeling and can’t come up with anything.


The second mug dulls the edge of his hunger, but just barely, and Wesley knows he’ll come away from this experience—assuming that he does—with a newfound appreciation for Spike and his restraint.


“You said they were working on it?” Wesley asks.


Spike nods. “They put in a call to Willow—the witch—first thing.”


Wesley likes that Spike doesn’t assume he knows the people he used to know. Spike always explains, always has a sense for what Wesley knows and what he doesn’t.


If there’s one person in this world that Wesley can count on remaining steadfast, it’s Spike.


He’s fond of the Slayers, especially Min and Faith, but Spike is his partner.


“You okay?” Spike asks.


“Not really,” Wesley admits. “I don’t know who I am on the best of days, and this—this is throwing me for a loop.”


“Told you before,” Spike says with Wesley’s mouth. “You’re the same guy you were before, no matter what face you wear or what memories you have.”


Wesley smiles. “Yes, well, you’ll pardon me if it doesn’t feel that way while I’m staring at my own face.”


“Give it a day or two,” Spike replies. “Either it will wear off, or Willow will fix it.”


“You’re so certain?” Wesley asks.


Spike pats him on the shoulder. “Yeah, I’m certain. In this case, I know more than you do, so you’re just going to have to trust me.”


“I do,” Wesley insists. “In fact, I trust you with my body. If anybody else were the one to have switched bodies with me, I’d be far more upset.”


A genuine smile crosses Spike’s—well, his own—face. “Thanks. You still hungry?”


Wesley thinks about that, and he says, “Not really.”


“You want to be alone?” Spike asks.


“No,” Wesley says decisively. “I really don’t.”


Spike stands up and motions Wesley to scoot over. “You mind if I take a nap?”


“Not at all,” Wesley replies. “Feel free.”


He tries not to think about how nice it is to have company in his bed, to have someone sharing his space. Even if the situation is completely bizarre.


At least he has this much; at least he has a stalwart friend. That’s something, particularly in the midst of the uncertainty that is his life.