"Why did I leave her with you lot?"
"You thought she was dead," Spike said, pleasantly enough. He struck a match. The end of his cigarette glowed red. He blew out a stream of smoke. "She was dead."
Giles reached out a hand and Spike passed over the pack. Marlboros. American cigarettes. He tapped one out and handed it back. He struck a match on the side of his shoe. He did not often smoke these days. Only on special occasions, for very special kinds of shock. Inhale, out through his nose. A little bit of a buzz already. Spike was watching him closely over the glow of his own.
"The witch says she was in a hell dimension," he said.
Giles jabbed his cigarette at Spike, who danced back warily. "Slayers don't go to hell."
"Don't suppose they do."
"Why the bloody blazes did Willow think she was in hell?"
"You're assuming she isn't lying through her teeth. Wouldn't put it past her to be inventing excuses."
"Fuck," said Giles. Something butted against his shin: the cat, tail up, rubbing against him. In agreement again, he supposed. He peered down at the animal. It seemed friendly enough. "Hello, moggy," he said. "I wonder where you come from."
"Its name is Patches," Spike said.
"It bloody well is not."
"Answers to it." Spike dug around in one of his coat pockets and pulled something out. "Hey, Patches. Here you go." He tossed whatever it was at the ground before the cat. It moved, squeaked. It was a rat, no a deer mouse, white belly, furred tail, little round ears. It reared up and chittered at the cat, but it was in vain. The cat seized it and bit at the back of its neck. It carried off the corpse to the base of the tree, just out of the lamplight, and began eating.
"That was utterly gruesome," Giles said.
"Takes a predator to understand."
"At the moment."