Part Eleven

Angel watched David cuddle with Asta on the couch. The fledge smiled shyly when he noticed the Master vampire standing by the door to the kitchen.

“X-Xander is upstairs…he’s still sleeping.” David said and looked down at Asta mumbling in her sleep.

“That’s okay.” Angel said “I wasn’t really looking for him.” David looked up and saw Angel smile at him. Spike entered the living room, looked from Angel to David and smirked.


Buffy was standing under the old apple tree outside the house opposite the abandoned house Xander lived in. She had kept an eye on it for the past half-hour. All the windows were boarded up as well as the front door. They probably used the backdoor to get in. How long had Xander lived there? She remembered visiting her friend a year ago. Or was it longer than that? He had been living in his parents’ basement back then. She hadn’t visited Xander since.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care. Buffy cared about her friend…but she was just so busy. Busy with college and slaying. Whenever she did have some spare time she tended to spend it with Riley or Dawn.

Not to mention the fact that she just didn’t have as much in common with Xander as she used to do. She was in college meeting new friends and studying and Xander was going from underpaid job to underpaid job. She always had the feeling that she had to strain herself in order to find anything to talk to him about.

Someone came out from behind the abandoned house. Cordy and Wesley. They were discussing something. Cordy got in behind the wheel of Angel’s car and Wesley scowled at her for a second, then got in. The car drove away.


“Is he safe with you?” Angel asked Tim as the furry demon rinsed the mugs that had been standing too long in the sink. The demon growled when he realised that the rinsing wouldn’t be enough. The blood had clotted.

“He’s always safe with me.” Tim growled.

“How did you end up as part of the pack…” Angel frowned “I mean your kind is known for it’s…”

“Bloodlust and tendency to rampage?” Tim grinned flashing the vampire a truly fear inspiring row of sharp teeth. Angel nodded. “I wasn’t bloodthirsty enough for my clan.” Tim continued “They banned me when I wouldn’t kill a human family and their children. I just couldn’t…” the demon left the mugs in the sink and turned his full attention on Angel.

“I wandered around for awhile…my kind is not made for loneliness or isolation…The boy found me by accident.” Tim laughed and shook his head “He literally tripped over me. He was out patrolling alone and I was trying to sleep in the graveyard. Next thing I know I have my arms full of a growling human. Turned out we both needed the same thing…”

“What?” the vampire asked.

“To belong.” Tim said.


“All I’m saying is that Angel’s been eying that David guy all night.” Cordy grinned and looked over at Wesley as they drove in search of a fast food joint still open this late.

“I assure you Angel wouldn’t…” Wesley began.

“I’m not saying he’s gonna jump the kid.” Cordy giggled when Wesley blushed “I’m just saying that they’d make a cute couple.”

“Be that as it may…um…Angel needs stability…He’s not been himself since he was forced to stake Darla…again.” the watcher said and pointed out the window “There…they seem to be open.”


David was standing by one of the only windows in the house that weren’t boarded up. He was watching Xander and the two Master vampires talk in the garden. David bit his finger nervously while he kept his eyes on the tall dark-haired vampire. He reminded the fledge a lot of Xander. There was the same concern for those he considered family and the same internal calm…as if there was an inner core no one could touch.

“He’s cute.” Asta said as she peeked around David to look out the window. David smiled and nodded dreamily.

“Yeah.” he agreed. Asta snorted “What?” David asked and reluctantly turned away from the window.

“Nothing.” Asta giggled.

“What?” David demanded to know.

“You’re drooling.” she laughed.

“Am not!” the blond fledge glared.


“Buffy?” Xander asked Angel “Is she going to be a problem?”

“I…yeah.” Angel admitted and looked at the human. Xander nodded.

“Yeah that’s kinda what I thought.” he said and walked away from the two vampires then he turned around “What if we leave? Get out of Sunnydale…go…somewhere else?” he asked.

“She thinks you need rescuing.” Angel pointed out “She won’t stop.”

“I don’t need rescuing. I never did. The hyena…she…” Xander sighed and ran a hand thru his dark hair “Look.” he said “If Buffy hurts them…any of them…I can’t promise I won’t…respond.”

“Not asking ya ta promise, pet.” Spike muttered.

“I’ll talk to her, Xander.” Angel said “But your idea about leaving Sunnydale…might be worth considering even if she promises to leave you and yours alone.”

Xander nodded “Yes…” he looked up at the house “I’ll think about it…”


Giles was worried. Worried about Buffy. Worried about Xander. But most of all worried that this was somehow his own fault. Perhaps he should have talked more with the boy. Shown an interest in his life. Offered advice. But he hadn’t done any of those things. He had let his entire life be consumed by his duties as Buffy’s watcher. He had dismissed the boy’s need for guidance. Not out of ill will but simply because he hadn’t had time for him.

“I think” Giles said to Willow “I think we should go and make sure Buffy doesn’t…react excessively when she confronts Xander.” The watcher looked at the witch.

“Yes…I’ll call Tara and she…no she should stay with Dawn.” Willow said changing her mind. Giles nodded and they both left the magic shop in search of the slayer.


Buffy turned and looked at Riley. The soldier scanned their surroundings and said “We have a clear view of the house from here but what if they leave?”

“They can’t see us from the house or the driveway.” Buffy said and peeked at the house from behind the old apple tree.

“That’s not what I was talking about.” Riley said and shook his head “What do we do if they leave? We can follow or try to get into the house…do a little recon.”

“I think we should try to get into the house.” Buffy said “Maybe we can find the answer to why Xander is…acting weird.” she finished.


Cordy and Wesley arrived with pizzas and bagged blood and they all sat down and enjoyed their food. Xander noticed that David ended up sitting next to Angel. The fledge kept stealing glances in the Master vampire’s direction.

“Bloody swooning over Peaches.” Spike whispered in Xander’s ear and touched the human’s thigh fleetingly. Xander smiled when he saw Angel keeping an eye on David as well.


“I think we should go out.” Xander said when he noticed how twitchy Alan and Tim were becoming. They had fed well and were filled with energy.

“We could patrol the cemeteries.” Tim suggested and Alan agreed. The minion restlessly moved around the room.

“Sounds good.” Cordy said “Me and Asta…we’re with big and hairy.” she pointed at Tim.


Buffy and Riley crossed the street the second the group of demons and humans had left the large abandoned house. The backdoor was not locked and they could simply walk right in.

“Okay.” Buffy said “You go look upstairs…there’s gotta be some bedrooms up there.” Riley nodded “I’ll check things out down here.” she looked around the main hall.


They had been thru all the rooms and all the hiding places they could find more than once when Buffy finally said “Looks like we won’t find anything here.” She looked around the living room. Everything looked old and used. How the hell could Xander stand to live here? And just the thought of the bedroom upstairs made he shiver. Four mattress making out one bed. Angel had talked about sex. The thought of Xander with those vampires…she decided not to think about it anymore.

Suddenly the backdoor opened and before she knew what was happening she had her stake out and dust fell to the ground.

Part Twelve

Buffy barely had time to look up before she was slammed against the wall and then pushed face first down on the floor. She attempted to fight back but whoever was holding her down was immensely strong.

“Fucking bitch!” she heard Xander growl.

She was flipped over. Her shoulders now digging into the hard wooden floor. Xander hit her twice in the face before she finally fought back. He pressed his hands against her throat. She slammed her palm against his chin in an upwards motion. Xander retaliated by grabbing the stake left forgotten on the floor. Buffy screamed as the stake was rammed into her shoulder.

Blood sprayed across Xander’s face.


They all just stood there. A frozen tableau of anger, fear and pain. Asta was the only one moving. Her small hands running over the floorboards. Attempting to gather the dust in a pile. She gasped and cried. The tears falling on the dust turning it dark and letting it soak into the wood.

“No no no no no no no no.” she murmured continuously.


Riley was trying to make sense out of everything that was happening. Xander was obviously a threat to Buffy’s safety. The young man’s eyes were glowing green and he was reduced to growling and snarling.

When Xander grabbed the stake and stabbed Buffy in the shoulder with it Riley aimed his gun and shot.


Xander suddenly stiffened. He looked down at his left thigh. A tranquilizer arrow was sticking out of it.

“Oh…” Xander said “Oh shit!” he staggered backwards away from the slayer.


Suddenly they all seemed to move at once. Spike pulled Xander away from Buffy. Angel knelt by the slayer’s side, pulled the stake out of her shoulder and after she passed out the souled vampire lifted her up and swiftly moved out of the house. Riley found himself inches away from Tim’s sharp teeth.

The furry demon was pinning the human against the wall, a large strong hand wrapped around the soldier’s neck. Asta started screaming when Cordy tried to pull her away from the pile of dust the fledge had gathered.

“No! No! We can’t leave him like that…we can’t leave him…we can’t…” the girl abruptly shut up when the seer slapped her. Big frightened eyes locked with Cordy’s and the fledge was pulled into a hug.

“I can’t breathe…” Xander mumbled and passed out.

“What the fuck did you do to him?” David screamed at Riley.


“Where’s the bitch?” Spike asked the older vampire. They were standing in the kitchen.

“At the hospital…” Angel answered “Willow is there. So is Giles. She’ll be fine.”

“Could die for all I care.” Spike snarled and returned to his task.

“How’s Xander?” Angel knelt next to Spike and helped the blond vampire find the towels and a few bowls. Spike stood up and looked down at his Sire.

“Boy’s not doing well, Peaches.” Spike said and closed his eyes “That shite in the arrow…” Spike looked Angel in the eyes “Was meant for vamps…could end up killing Xander.”

“Is there nothing we can do?” Angel filled one of the bowls with hot water and handed it to Spike.

“He’ll ‘ave to pull thru on his own.” Spike took the bowl “Ya could take care of the fledges.” the blond vampire said “Girl’s hanging on ta the boy…but he ain’t really doing good himself.”


“He never did anyone any harm…” Asta sobbed against David’s shoulder “Alan was the best.” She started crying again and David gently hugged her. He looked up when Angel entered the room with the seer behind him.

“Asta?” the Master vampire said. The fledge looked up at him and tried to dry her tears away. “Cordy is going to take care of you…is that okay?” Asta looked at the human and slowly got up. She reached out and took Cordy’s hand and they both left David and Angel behind as they walked out of the living room.

“She’ll be all right.” Angel said and sat down on the couch. David started shaking. The fledge looked down and cried silently. Angel reached out and touched David’s face and the fledge finally fell apart. Crying against Angel’s chest digging his fingers into the Master vampire’s shoulders.


Spike tried to calm Xander down but the human kept trying to get up.

“No Spike you don’t understand…I have to…If…” Xander started coughing his hands covering his mouth. He slowly sat up and looked at his hands. They were covered in blood. “T-that can’t be good.” the human mumbled and looked up at Spike. “Look…” Xander said holding up his hands “…blood.”


Wesley watched Tim tie Riley to a chair.

“Would be much easier to kill him,” Tim growled.

“Yes.” Wesley said “I’m sure it would…but you won’t.”

The demon looked uncertain for a second. “Could just break his arms and legs,” Tim suggested.


“I’m going to go and make sure Xander is all right.” Giles said and looked at Buffy sleeping in the hospital bed. Her shoulder was bandaged and she had been given a sedative because she wouldn’t stop yelling.

“Thanks.” Willow said and took Giles’s hand “I know it would mean a lot to him if you did.” Giles smiled sadly and slowly walked out to the parking lot.

He just sat there in his car for almost half an hour. Staring at Sunnydale. It always amazed him how such a small town could so easily destroy its children.

Part Thirteen

Angel held Xander. The boy was breathing hard and his skin was clammy with sweat. Spike was desperately trying to calm Xander down.

“No…no. Jesse…don’t…” Angel grabbed hold of Xander’s thrashing arms.

“We need to calm him down…” Angel said “He’s tiring himself out like this.”

“I know that!” Spike growled and helped his Sire get the boy back on the mattress.

“No…Don’t you touch me you bastards.” Xander’s eyes glowed green and he tried to kick Angel in the chest. The Master vampire simply held the flailing boy down. Suddenly Xander’s eyes grew wide.

“I’m gonna be sick.” he mumbled and then started throwing up. Spike stood back and watched with horror as Xander emptied his stomach on the floor.

Crimson blood slowly soaked into the old worn floorboards.

Angel looked up at Spike. “He’s bleeding out.” the older vampire said.


Giles knocked on the backdoor. He had a stake tucked safely in his pocket.

Just in case.


Tim watched the two vampires clean Xander up. The boy’s limp body was cradled against Angel’s chest while Spike changed the sheets on the mattress. The floor was covered in blood and vomit. The stench impossible to stand.

The blond vampire started cleaning the floor with the already ruined sheets. Angel gently pulled the covers over the boy’s unconscious form.

“Is he dying?” Tim bluntly asked. Both vampires looked up at the large demon.

“If he survives the night he has a chance.” Angel said and walked over to the demon.

“How big?” the furry giant asked, his eyes glued to the human.

“If he survives the night…” Angel looked over at Spike “Maybe twenty-five percent.”

Someone knocked on the door.


Giles was a little surprised when Angel opened the door. A young blond fledge peeking from behind the souled vampire’s broad back.

“Giles.” Angel growled.

“I…” the watcher began “I came to see Xander.” Angel stepped away from the door and Giles walked in. The fledge backed away always keeping Angel between himself and the watcher.

“Hand it over.” Angel said and extended his hand. Palm up.

“W-what?” Giles stuttered.

“The stake…Watcher” the large vampire snarled flexing the fingers on the hand held out to Giles.

“I…I…” Giles tried.

“You’re not getting in if you don’t.” the fledge firmly said from behind Angel.


Cordy was cuddling with Asta on the couch in the living room when Giles entered. The man was stunned to find the young woman sitting so close to the fledge. The vampire crying against the seer’s throat.

“Dear God…” he gasped “Get away from her.”

“You wanted to see Xander.” Angel said and grabbed hold of the watcher’s elbow.


Xander was panting. The human was shivering so hard that his teeth rattled. Spike was holding on to him as strongly as he dared.

“I-I-I’m c-c-c-c-co-cold.” Xander stuttered and clutched on to Spike’s black t-shirt.

“I know, pet.” Spike said and kissed Xander’s cheek. The boy’s scent was rancid.

Spike looked up when he heard someone gasp.

Angel was standing in the doorway holding on to Giles’ arm. The tall vampire looked at the watcher and said “Look at him…see what your slayer did…what you did with your neglect.” Angel pushed Giles further into the room. The watcher stumbled and fell down inches away from what looked like an almost dried pool of blood.

“Xander?” Giles whispered when the boy moaned in pain and curled up clutching his stomach. Xander started throwing up again. The watcher gagged when the smell of rotten blood hit him.


“You can’t keep me here!” Riley yelled and attempted to get loose.

No one answered.


Asta was throwing up. Cordy was holding her hair back.

“Can’t you smell it.” the fledge gasped between dry heaves.

“Yes.” Cordy nodded “But sweetheart your sense of smell is much better than mine.” She gently brushed Asta’s hair away from the girl’s tear streaked cheeks.

“He’s dying.” Asta sobbed.

“No.” Cordy pulled the girl closer “No. We don’t know that. Xander is strong and…”

“No.” Asta interrupted “You don’t understand…I can smell it. His blood is…wrong. Like the blood from a corpse.”


Willow sat by Buffy’s hospital bed while the slayer slept.

She wished she could be two places at once. She wanted to be with Buffy but if what Angel had told them was true…then she needed to be with Xander. The young witch looked out the window and watched cars drive by outside on the streets of Sunnydale.

Ordinary people with ordinary problems on their way to normal jobs. And when they were done they would all return to their homes. Eat dinner, watch TV, go to sleep.

Sometimes Willow longed for that simple existence. Simplicity gained by not knowing what lurked in the shadows. Simplicity gained by the belief that humans were at the top of the food chain.

A nurse knocked on the door and came in.

“There’s a phone call for you.” she said and smiled at Willow.


“Angel will pick you up.” Giles sounded tired.

“But Buffy…” Willow said and looked over at the door leading to her friends room.

“He’s dying, Willow.” Giles said.

“What?” she whispered.

“He needs you here. Now. Willow. If you want a chance to…” the watcher’s voice trailed off.

Part Fourteen

Willow stood in the corner of the bedroom and watched Spike and Angel wash Xander.

“Support his head.” Angel whispered and Spike moved closer and gently held Xander’s head while Angel attempted to make the human drink. Xander started coughing and the water ended up on the covers and all over Angel’s shirt.

Spike looked over at Willow and nodded. The witch slowly moved closer to the mattress.


“No I’m fine, Doctor Smith. Really.” Buffy tried to get out of the hospital bed again. But one of the nurses, a big woman with large hands, firmly helped the slayer back into bed.

“You need to rest, Miss Summers.” the doctor said. Buffy started peeling her bandages off “What on earth do you think you’re doing, young woman.” Doctor Smith grabbed her hand.

“No just look, please…I’m all healed up.” Buffy said and tried to get the last of the bandage off “I always heal really fast...Super fast!” The doctor and the nurse looked at each other briefly. The nurse left the room.

“Miss Summers.” the doctor began “One of our…therapists…will come by in just a minute to assess…um…whether you need additional help.” doctor Smith smiled encouragingly.

“Therapist?” Buffy asked confused.

“Yes…your…how can I put this…your delusions of grandeur…worry me.” the doctor patted Buffy’s arm comfortingly.


Xander tried to smile when Willow took his hand.

“Hey.” he whispered. His voice barely audible.

“Hey.” Willow felt the first tears roll down her cheeks. Xander reached out and wiped them away with his thumb. The boy was propped up by all the pillows Spike could find.

“No…” Xander murmured “Can’t have my Willow crying like that…not…not” he coughed “very attractive.” he teased. The witch started sobbing.

“I’m sorry, Xander…I’ll fix this…I will.” she promised.

Xander shook his head slowly and winced when it hurt “No…There’s nothing you can do…Giles…he…” the boy closed his eyes and fell asleep.

“Is…is he…?” Willow turned and looked at Spike. The vampire walked over and held Xander’s hand.

“No.” Spike said “just exhausted…The poison’s breaking down his blood,” the vampire explained “Won’t be long now.”


Dawn was furious.

Being told to stay at the house like some little kid. She wasn’t a kid damn it. She wasn’t some snot nosed toddler that needed a babysitter. Dawn looked over at the couch where Tara was curled up with a blanket watching TV.

The witch blinked sleepily and Dawn smiled. She looked over at the front door. Tara started nodding her head as sleep overtook her.

Maybe it was time to show them that Dawn Summers wasn’t a little kid anymore.


Angel was holding a sleeping David. The fledge had been exhausted desperately trying to calm Asta down. It was clear that Alan's death had left a void in the pack. The minion had been the one to make sure that the two fledges were taken care of, fed and cuddled.

David seemed desperate to fill that vacuum. But Asta was terrified and in her terror she had latched on to Cordy. The girl never left the seer’s side.

So David felt useless. Unneeded.

Angel needed to change that.


“So ya’r saying that we can’t stop this.” Spike growled and pointed at Xander. The boy was shivering and mumbling. His eyes unfocused and green.

“I…” Giles looked away from Xander and sighed “No. We can’t stop it.” Willow gasped and pushed past the watcher.

“No there‘s…there’s got to be something…anything.” she looked frantic “I could call Tara…she could…I…”

“Willow.” Angel said and reached out and pulled the witch into a hug “We can’t stop this. I’ve tried everything…asked everyone…” the vampire let go of Willow “This is it. There is no miracle cure…no last chance. Nothing.”


“Xander?” Spike said and took the human’s hand “David and Asta want ta see ya.”

Xander opened his eyes and smiled. “They…you need to help me.” Xander closed his eyes “Help me sit up…I don’t want them to see me like this.”


The two fledges wouldn’t leave. David held on to the human as if the fledge could keep Xander alive thru sheer willpower. Asta wouldn’t look at Xander. Her eyes always seeking other things. Finally she collapsed into a sobbing heap on the floor and Wesley carried her out of the room.

Tim just stood in the corner. Eyes unblinking. Face blank.


“My kind…we have traditions.” the huge demon said standing in the corner of the room. Spike looked up “When someone from our clan is mortally wounded…” Xander mumbled something in his sleep and Tim’s attention was on the boy’s face “We stand guard. Protecting the essence.”

“You believe you have souls?” Angel asked quietly.

“Souls are for humans and their philosophers.” Tim said and returned to his vigil.


“Angel?” Xander’s weak voice startled the tall demon.

“Yes?” he moved closer to the dying human. Spike was curled around Xander on the mattress.

“Promise me…” Xander’s breathing was laboured “Promise me you’ll take them with you…to…to LA.” Spike rubbed the human’s back.

Angel nodded “I’ll take care of them.”

“You better.” the human wheezed “Or I’ll come back and haunt your undead pale ass.”

Spike laughed.


“So tell me how you feel.” Mr. Gefühl asked and looked down at his clipboard. The therapist was sitting in one of the uncomfortable chairs next to Buffy’s hospital bed.

”I feel great.” the slayer said. Mr. Gefühl instantly started scribbling notes on his papers.

”I see.” the little man mumbled and seemed to study some kind of chart.

”I always feel great.” Buffy said hoping it was the right thing to say. The thing that would get her out of the hospital.

”I’m sure you do, Miss Summers, but you see that’s all part of your megalomania.” Mr. Gefühl said and started scribbling more notes on his clipboard.


”We could turn him.” Spike said and looked from Willow to Giles. The old watcher turned to Wesley.

”Can you perform the soul restoration spell.” Giles asked ”I’m not entirely sure I’ll be capable after…” the older man closed his eyes and shook his head sadly.

“Of course.” Wesley said.

“We should ask him.” Angel said and Willow rushed out of the room.


“Pet.” Spike ran a hand thru Xander’s dark hair. The boy needed a bath.

“mmmm.” Xander murmured.

“We can’t stop the poison spreading thru your body…but we can...” Angel looked at his childe.

“We can turn ya.” Spike continued “Wesley is ready. He’ll make sure ya get ya’r soul back.”

“No.” the weak voice answered.

“But…” Angel began.

“No. “ Xander coughed “No turning no soul…nothing like that.”

“Please pet…” Spike pleaded.

Xander just shook his head infinitesimally.

Part Fifteen

Xander felt Spike’s cool hands on his neck and forehead. He felt like he was burning up and the only place the pain seemed to subside was where the vampire’s hands connected with his skin. Xander’s entire body felt tense as if every muscle was primed for battle.

But the battle had already been lost. His body betraying him. Turning on itself.

“Shhh.” Spike murmured close to Xander’s ear and kissed the soft skin on the human’s neck. Xander sighed and closed his eyes. Everything hurt. Xander could almost feel his blood rotting in his veins. Could almost hear the slowing beat of his own heart.


“What?” Buffy glared at the little doctor.

“You would of course be given the best of care and it’s an open ward.” Mr. Gefühl said and smiled encouragingly. Buffy just looked horrified ”I do believe that you’d benefit greatly from the treatment offered there.”

”Treatment?” Buffy said.

”Yes. You would certainly require some medication.” the doctor nodded ”Nothing severe but…” Mr. Gefühl took Buffy’s hand ”You need to admit you have a problem.”

”Problem?” Buffy realised she had turned into a human echo.

”I understand you live alone with your younger sister.” the doctor looked down at his clipboard and hummed a bit ”You do realise that if you won’t get treatment for your megalomania the state will have to re-evaluate your sister’s living arrangements.”

”Re-evaluate?” Buffy shook her head.

”Poor girl.” the doctor patted the slayer’s head comfortingly ”Here take these.” he handed her three little green pills ”You’ll feel relaxed and calm down.” Buffy took the pills and swallowed them.


Spike was shaking Xander violently.

”Breathe you stupid bastard.” the blond vampire begged and kept shaking the gasping human.

”What’s going on?” Giles came running into the room and Spike looked relieved.

”Won’t breathe.” the vampire growled. Giles started rubbing Xander’s chest but it didn’t help.

”I’ll try…” Giles said and started giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Suddenly Xander took a deep breath and started shivering.


Dawn clutched the stake in her slim hand. So yeah okay maybe walking alone in a graveyard in Sunnydale wasn’t the brightest idea she’d ever had. But she wanted to find Xander. Wanted to tell him that Buffy was wrong that Xander would always be welcome. That she missed him even if it had only been a few days.

Maybe Xander would let her talk to Asta again. Maybe she should try looking for Xander somewhere else. Somewhere without so many weird shadows.


David was wrapped around Angel. The two vampires were sleeping on the couch in the living room. Angel was stroking the fledge’s blond hair. Letting the strands run thru his fingers. David reminded the Master vampire of Spike back when he was still William the Poet. Before Angelus beat the poetry out of the fledge and helped create William the Bloody.

David had the same innocence. The same humanity clinging to him.

Angel heard someone move and saw Tim come into the living room. The demon looked worn and ruffled.

”He finally fall asleep?” the furry demon asked and sat down on the floor. Angel nodded. ”Won’t last long…heard Asta waking up a few minutes ago.” Tim scratched his shoulder ”She’s upset but…calmer.” he continued.

Asta came down the stairs and walked over to Tim. The big demon let the fledge rest her head against his broad shoulder.

”I need to ask…” Angel began ”…Xander has asked me to bring you…all of you with me to LA.”

”But he’ll get better.” Asta whispered afraid to jinx it.

”Asta.” Tim rumbled ”Xander he…we’ll need somewhere else to stay and if Xander wants us to go to LA…” the demon closed his eyes and sighed ”Angel will provide for you and David, Asta.”

”You are included in my promise, Tim.” Angel said just as David stirred and yawned ”You all have a place in LA…if you want it…with me.” the vampire finished.


”I could still…” Spike mumbled and looked pleadingly at Giles.

”He wouldn’t want it.” the watcher said.

“He can’t make me…make me watch this.” Spike growled and waved a hand at Xander. The human was unresponsive and they couldn’t make him drink anymore water “I can’t watch him die.”

“He needs you here.” the watcher said and touched Xander’s cheek “He needed me…and I wasn’t there for him…Don’t bring yourself that heartache…the knowledge that you could have been there for him but chose not to.” Giles looked away, his eyes fixed on a scratch in the old wallpaper.

The watcher and the vampire stood vigil over the boy as he slipped into a coma.


Riley couldn’t feel his hands. It was as if they had been removed and replaced with a strange tingling.

Wesley had brought him water and food a few times. Had even let him go to the toilet but apart from that…he’d been tied to the chair for at least two days.

And during those two days the house seemed to have changed.

It was just too damn quiet.


Tim held Xander’s limp body close to his broad chest. The demon slowly rocked back and forth. Counting the human’s heartbeats.

Too few. Too far between.

David was clutching his Sire’s clammy hand and mumbling. Giles was shocked when he finally heard the words quietly flowing from the fledge. “Four angels. One to watch, and one to pray. And two to bear my soul away.” David must have learned that prayer while he was still human.

Asta was clinging to Cordy. The fledge’s green eyes locked with Xander’s glassy ones. The human made a slow rattling sound and Willow gasped.

The witch was kneeling on the mattress close enough to see but not close enough to disturb Xander’s pack. Asta let go of Cordy’s hand and slowly walked over to Tim. The demon smiled sadly and let the girl stroke Xander’s dark hair.

Spike was standing next to Angel. The blond vampire’s hand was buried in the lapel of Angel’s leather jacket. Clutching so hard that the leather was slowly ripping apart.

Xander closed his eyes.

His heart stopped and the silence was deafening.

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