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One Tin Soldier


Part Twelve

The next twelve hours were some of the longest of Xander's life. Being in the military meant patience, being able to wait for hours on end, but staying alert so as to be able to react in a split second. But this, this was sheer torture.

For every step forward Oz would make in re-programming Spike's chip, he'd take two steps back. It was a slow, arduous process. Oz would finally gain control over Spike's legs, only to have his arms go into spasms. Oz never stopped, only taking the occasional break to make yet more coffee and use the bathroom before he exploded.

Maggie and Giles had finally fallen asleep, choosing to stay in the infirmary on the cots across the room so they could be on hand if they were needed. Rom, estatic to finally be able to speak to his Sire again, refused to leave Spike's side and was even now hovering next to Spike's bed.

Xander spent as much time as he could with Spike, but he had other duties that he couldn't put off. The Nexus site had to be monitored very carefully for the next several days, there were duty assignments to hand out and the prisoners to take care of. After speaking to General Marshall, it was decided that Willow would stay with the others for the time being and wait for the main prisoner transport to pick them up. Xander sighed deeply, 'one less thing for me to worry about. I can't wait to get them out of my hair.' Some days Xander wished he were just a Captain again, and this was one of them. He almost resented the time he had to spend away from Spike, but he also knew that there wasn't anyone else he'd trust to take care of these things for him. Xander sighed again and briefly closed his aching eyes, there would be time to sleep later, after Spike was mobile again.


Oz growled at his laptop, that little electronic buzz was going to drive him insane. "Mr. Osborne? Is something the matter?" Sgt. Jamison asked diffidently.

It took Oz a second to realize that the Sgt. had been speaking to him. "Hey, man, ease off with the Mr. stuff. That's freaky. Just call me Oz."

Jamison grinned, "I should have known that one of the Major's old friends wouldn't stand on ceremony any more than he does. Now, Oz, what seems to be wrong?"

Oz shrugged, "No big. Just some background noise I can't track down."

Jamison pointed at Oz's setup, "Do you mind if I take a look?"

Oz shrugged, "Go ahead, man, I can't find it and it driving me crazy."

Jamison checked the signal input, impedance matching, the variable attenuators, the connectors themselves and finally rang out the cables. "Huh. Well, it's not noise, it's a legit signal, I just don't know where it's coming from."

"Hum off the lights?" Oz asked.

Jamison shook his head, "Wrong frequency. Here, look." Jamison slowed down the sweep on the o'scope and showed off the signal he was tracking. Whatever it was, it was slow, steady and constant.

Oz adjusted a couple of settings, "You got a time on this?"

"Yeah, it's about once every 3.5 minutes."

"Ooookkkaaayyy. I have no idea what it is."

Rom looked over Oz's shoulder, his mouth falling open when he recognized the signal. "Help me with this for a second, I think I know what it is." Rom set up his equipment and applied the monitor pads to his own chest. Oz and Jamison shared a look, then shrugged, they'd tried everything else.

It took a while to calibrate the equipment, but Rom finally found what he was looking for. It was weak, and way too slow, but it was there. "Son of a bitch. Spike?"

"Yeah, mate. What's wrong?" Spike asked tiredly.

"We're not dead."

"What? Rom...trust me...we're dead. Vampires, remember? The living dead?"

Rom shook his head and swung the EKG around so Spike could see the screen and the faint heartbeat there, turning the volume up so everyone could hear. "Living dead is a good way to describe it. We're not alive exactly, but we're not dead either. We have brain activity and a heartbeat." Rom looked up at Jamison, "You better go get the Major, he needs to know about this."


Xander listened to the explanations and then shrugged, "This means what exactly? You guys aren't dead, but you're not alive either. I knew that."

Rom grinned, "I think the reason Spike and I are in such control is because of the blood we drink. Everyone in the Squad is consistantly dosed with the strongest antibiotics and anti-viral agents known to man. We've known for years that several viruses act directly on the brain chemistry and cause psychotic behavior. If we can isolate which agent is helping us stay in control there's hope for the others."

Xander hoped he didn't look as shocked as he felt, "I can't wait to tell the General about this one."


Oz went back to his task with a new determination after their unexpected discovery. The fact that Spike was 'alive' really made his condition just that much more horrifying to the werewolf. Oz knew that he'd been more than lucky to get away from the Initiative with as little damage as he did. And there was no doubt in his mind that if he'd been chipped, he'd have killed himself at the first opportunity, and taken as many of the bastards with him as he'd been able.

The very fact that Spike had survived and managed somehow to stay sane had earned Oz's respect. And that respect demanded that Oz do anything and everything possible to break Spike free of the chip's control. Now if only the damn thing would cooperate a little. "Fucker. Your mother was a vibrator, you know that?" Oz muttered under his breath, but Spike heard him anyway.

"A toaster, maybe, or better yet, a remote control. The one that never would turn the telly up. But a sex toy? No bleedin' way. This damn thing is no fun at all." Spike said, laughing.

Oz reached down and pulled Spike into a sitting position. "Doesn't matter. I think I kicked it's ass. Come on. Try to stand up."

Spike slid off the table and wobbled for a second, but then stood firm. Bouncing on his toes he smiled widely, "Good job, mate."

"Don't get too excited yet, Spike. I'm not finished yet. There's still some more fine tuning to be done, but my brain is wiped. If I don't get some sleep I'm gonna pass out."

Xander slammed through the door, "Sleep later, Oz." Looking Spike over, Xander nodded, "How ya feelin', Blondie? Up for some hate and discontent?"

Spike slid into his vamp face and grinned, "Too right, Pet."

"Good. We have trouble. Oz, I want you with Giles and Maggie in the control room. It's the most secure place we have."

Oz shook his head and very calmly pulled off his clothes before calling his wolf. "I don't need to be protected, Xander. I can help." Oz growled through extremely impressive fangs.

Xander nodded, they needed all the help they could get. "Rom, no arguments, you go with Giles and Maggie. If they break through, you're the last defense."

Rom didn't want to be separated from his Sire, but he accepted reality. "Yes, Major."

"Good, get going." Xander waited until Rom had left to tell the others what was going on. "We're going to be surrounded in a matter of minutes. The survivors from our earlier encounter came back and brought friends. We're sending the prisoners out of here and we have to hold this position until reinforcements arrive. That means we're on our own for about an hour. And there are 'lots' of really pissed off demons heading our way. I want the two of you to stay close to me, and no heroes."

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