Once It Begins


9 Connections

Magic Box

Buffy runs into the main room of the Magic Box when she hears Angel’s voice. She follows her instincts and stops only a foot away from the vampires. “Angel!” she sobs, sighs, then after a dramatic pause, she throws herself at... Spike.

Willow makes a strangled sound and Angel suppresses a chuckle. Spike though, looks kinda disturbed down at the blond girl clutching at him in desperation. “You’ve lost weight.” Buffy says and it’s the last straw for Tara, she starts giggling rather loudly.

“Oh, oh, I can see again!” Buffy squeals joyfully and looks up at the person she’s holding on to. Who is Spike. “GAH!” She splutters and jumps back. Maybe she would be embarrassed about her faux pas but the happiness about her returned sight overlays every other emotion. She turns around, screaming out: "I can see again. There is Giles and Cordelia? And Willow and Tara and this time they are not having hot, sweaty, lesbian sex!" Tara’s face flames up again, embarrassed beyond reason, she retreats a few steps in an attempt to make herself invisible.

“Oh no! NONONONONONO! Take it back! I didn’t do anything this time! Willooooow!” Buffy whines and everybody looks at her when she spreads her arms wide, trying to get a feeling for her surroundings.

Spike chuckles... "Hot, sweaty, lesbian sex?" he waggles his eyebrow at his sire, the pink tip of his tongue rubbing over a sharp canine tooth sensually. Angel shivers, when this little motion sends a tingle to his groin, he knows immediately what Spike is referring to, thinking back to long gone times when he watched Darla and Dru entwined on a bed, more often then not with the fledgling William in the middle; when the girls were either asleep or had gone out hunting and only his boy remained on the silken sheets, wantonly spread out for him... naked flawless body, baby blue eyes begging, cock purple and leaking... violently Angel tears himself back to reality, adjusting his hardness as subtly as possible. He focuses back on the people in the room. "Where is Xander?"

Angel’s mansion







Stephen is wandering aimlessly through small alleys of the town. He keeps to the shadows, not wanting to be even more visible to the many eyes he feels travelling over his body again and again. He moves almost noiselessly, the pounding heartbeat is the loudest sound emitting from his body. Suddenly he feels something resembling a sharp nudging against the back of his spine. The sensation of a thousand bugs crawling up his neck makes him whimper and arch his back. The ‘pull’ he felt before, the need to get somewhere fast to… help or something, is back. He just follows his instincts and starts running in the direction of the outskirts of the town.

Magic Box

Buffy squeaks suddenly and slumps down to the ground. When the watcher rushes towards her, Angel and Spike catch a whiff of underlying arousal, sharing a look, needing nothing more to know what the other thinks right now.

Willow comes forward, coming to a halt before Angel, cocking her head while looking deeply in his eyes, then smiling brightly. Waving Tara over to confirm what Willow found out and Tara nods, shyly smiling at the bulky vampire. Spike looks questioningly at Angel but the older vamp pretends not to notice it.

Suddenly the front door flies open and slams into the wall with a loud crash. Cordy lets out a high-pitched scream. Buffy jumps to an upright position and people scramble for things to use as weapons. As if sharing one body, three vamps duck their heads and scrunch up their faces.

“Daddy!” The woman in the black dress shouts, jumping in joy and dances over to the other members of her family. About halfway there, she stops directly in front of the slayer, whose senses are on total overload with the close proximity of three vamps of such an age, who are all related. Her slayer senses prove themselves useless when confronted with three signatures so similar, they merge together, alarming her in turns to the presence of one, two or three vamps, sometimes all around her, sometimes backing away. Distressed, Buffy launches forward, gets hold of rustling fabric and uses her bodyweight to bring the Vamp down with her. “Stake! Stake! I need a stake!” she screams frantically until she becomes aware that the body under her is not moving.

“Ooooh poooor slayer… all dark. Frightened little lamb… Has the light lost you or… did you lose the light?” Dru whispers, only loud enough for superiorly sensitive ears to hear and Buffy herself. Hastily hiding the helplessness the slayer feels behind a wall of anger, she spits out one word “Drusilla!”

Drusilla’s face melts into sweet smiling innocence, one hand comes up and caresses the slayer’s cheek tenderly. “Yes, my lamb…” she murmurs “It’s me.” before she twists the slayer’s neck.

Two screams mingle into one when Drusilla pulls away violently, long fingernails leaving deep angry scratches on Buffy’s neck.

Angel groans and Spike crashes down onto one knee gasping for unneeded breath.

Giles sees his opportunity and tackles the keening Drusilla, holding her to the ground. He has no stake and he wouldn’t risk trying to get near her with one. Giles is not dumb. He sees the change in Angel and knows he would tear him apart if he were to try to kill one of his childer.

Wesley rushes to Drusilla who is now struggling to get away from Giles, wailing out her frustration.

Spike’s hand comes up and clutches onto his sire’s underarm. Angel just nods and grips Spike’s wrist, pulling him up and out of the shop whilst all eyes are on the brawl around his only female childe.

“Are you okay?” Angel asks when he shoves the dazed Spike into the passenger seat of his GTX.

“Yes, I think I will be. Soon. It’s just…” Spike trails off searching for the right word.

“Overwhelming? Amazing? Painful when a new childe is connected to the bloodline?”

“All of the above?” Spike offers weakly and then gets serious. “Do you think they’ll be okay?” Angel looks over at Spike whose expression holds earnest concern for both parties in the Magic Box. Distracted by his own musings about the changes in his boy which he seems to discover every other moment, he goes around the car and seats himself behind the steering wheel. Then he answers: “Sure. They have a slayer.”

“Who is blind.”

“Against a slightly crazy vamp.”


“Hush Spike, I made her, I love her like she is. I’m not always patient but…” Spike interrupts him,

“And two watchers…”

Angel groans and adds: “One drooling all over an incapable slayer and the other enthralled by a psychic vamp…”

Angel chuckles and Spike continues with his list.

“Two witches, one powerful…”

“But weak minded.”

“The other even more powerful but too…”

“Embarrassed to use it…”

“I was going for shy! Never mind. A cheerleader with visions and the street fighter who hates vamps.”

“But works for one and now follows one without even being enthralled…”

Spike cocks his head and looks at Angel with a long sideways glance.

“You’re enjoying this!” he exclaims finally, waiting for the answer with uselessly held breath.

“Of course… Who wouldn’t?” Angel flashes Spike a very Angelus-y smirk – amusement with just a hint of fangs - and starts the engine of his convertible.

“The mansion?” Spike sighs, chiding himself for not thinking about that location sooner.

“For sure. My mansion.”


Slowly now Stephen creeps closer to the old, towering building. It looks abandoned but not derelict, left behind but not forgotten. The cramping feeling inside his belly that something majorly important will happen soon increases and makes his breath come in short intervals.

The thick wooden door is ajar, so he pushes it open, hiding behind the door frame just in case someone is inside, just waiting to attack.

When nothing happens he tiptoes inside the hall, his senses on alert, trying to figure out where the ‘pull’ he feels comes from.


Without further inspection of the lower room he cautiously sneaks up the wide staircase to the first floor. All doors are closed but one, so he goes directly towards it. He comes to a stop in the threshold, his heart speeding up when he takes in the still form on the bed.

A man.

Tied to the bedposts.

Not moving.

With a harsh intake of breath he rushes over to him, shaking the unmoving person.

No reaction.

As trashy as if in a cheap horror movie, Stephen thinks, the clouds move and silver moonlight shines through the decayed curtains onto the impassive face. He raises a hand to the man’s forehead and the next second he is in the corner farthest away from the bed, trembling from shock.

Cold. Cold. Cold. coldcoldcoldcold….

The blood rushes so loudly in his ears that it overlays all other sounds, except the pounding sound of his heart pumping in top speed. He feels dizzy and helpless. Routines fail him.

What do you do… whatdoyoudowhatdoyoudowhatdoyoudo…

Mobile phone!

Numb fingers search in his pockets until finally they collide with the hard plastic cover and he gets it out, his shaking fingers dialing the three numbers that promise help.

The silence between the beeping tones, uselessly unaffected by his panic, seems to stretch forever, until someone takes up the receiver and answers: “Sunnydale Police Department…”

10 Caught

Angel’s mansion

“Do you hear that?” Spike asks vamping out. He doesn’t need a reply from Angel, the nervousworryanxiety coming through the link is enough.

“Just one human.” Angel comments nevertheless and grips Spike’s collar, stopping him from rushing into the mansion. Spike snarls at Angel, on edge with concern for creation.

“I. Have. To. Go. In. There. NOW!” The restrained vampire growls.

“I. Know.” Angel answers, using his sire voice in an attempt to calm his instinct driven childe down. Spike takes a deep breath and… tries to break away once more, without success. “Sire!” he pleads.

“I’ll go first, you follow. No tricks.” Angel orders and lets go of Spike’s duster after the blond nods his agreement. …chipchipchipchip… His thoughts circle again and he knows without Angel he is as helpless as a kitten if he has to defend his childe and himself against one bloody human.

Silently the two vampires move inside the hall, pausing only for a second on the beginning of the staircase to reach out with their heightened senses, detecting no other being in close proximity.

One of the stairs creaks under Spike’s weight and he flinches, cursing his lack of concentration. Angel turns his head and looks at the other Master vampire with a cocked eyebrow, mocking him with a challenging look. Bloody poof! Spike thinks, and they complete the ascent noiselessly.

Stephen stops rocking back and forth when he hears the old wooden stairs creak.

From his corner, he watches the bleached blond when he steps into the room. A familiar but unfamiliar pattern starts in his head, he does not only look at the other man, he registers. Size, weight, build, possible strengths and weaknesses. Comparing them to himself and figuring out some kind of possibility to win against him. Then his immaturity takes over again and he thinks "Crazy hair for an officer.." just before the tingle of warning… or recognition… starts in his neck. The face drenched in silver white moonlight jerks in his direction and glowing yellow eyes… wait a mo… stare at him unblinkingly, a low warning snarl escaping the slender throat. Goosebumps tickle up his spine and if he wasn't trembling so hard as to make his teeth nearly rattle the other may have been able to detect the bone deep shudder going through the boy.

Another man, bulky in his appearance, dark where the other is light, enters the room and Stephen fixes his eyes on him… what the fuck? The tingle in the back of his neck is so insistent now it feels like knives slicing through his skin.

Angel comes to a complete stop as soon as his eyes meet the ones of his son. Connor? Connor here? Why? What? connornonoherenono…

Angel’s mansion, Xander


heartbeat… thumpthumpthump… not right.

not supposed to be here. heartbeat's not supposed to… what?

hunger hunger hungerhungerhunger

smells overwhelming him, hurting him…

panic sweet but…


decayed rotten musty old not like…

frustration bitter.

and thumpthumpthumpthump… getting on his nerves… thumthumthumthumthum…

don't like don't like dontlikedontlikeDONTLIKE

hungryhungry… sire? sire? siresirehungrysire… ~

The mansion

The form on the bed moans and for the first time, the link opens siresirehungrysire slamming through it. Spike's complete attention is on his childe now. He makes to go over to him but is stopped by the youth nearly flying across the room and barring his way.

"Bugger off!" Spike growls, full vamp visage inches from Stephen's face. His heart is pounding so hard in his chest, that at any other time, Spike would have liked to rip it out of his chest to see its last furious hammering in his hand but now it's all chipchipchip… sending blue lightning bolts for the thought alone.. Ignoring it, he leans in more, intruding into Stephen's personal space mercilessly, trying to impress, trying to bluff his way to his childe.

"No!" Stephen grits out and tries to make himself look bigger, pushing his chest out and dragging his shoulders back. "Show me your BADGE!"

"Badge?" Spike spits unbelievingly.

"Yeah you know… cops have…"

"Cops?" Spike asks, frowning and raises his hand to just push the weird youth out of his way but Angel moves with unexpected speed, tagging Spikes arms behind his back painfully. "Don't you dare touch him!" Angel yells and Stephen jumps back, shocked by the loudness and determination in the voice, and yes this one has the monster face too.

Master vampire – Sire Spike's demon acknowledges and he keeps still for a second, waiting for Angel to… do anything but Angel doesn't, can't. He is still almost immobilized by the sudden appearance of his son, his mind following loop after loop of thoughts, coming up with nothing.

The figure on the bed siresirehungrysire moans and nothing matters for Spike anymore. My childe. Mine. Coming. Coming. He struggles to get free and is on the bed, hugging Xander to him in the next second. Here now. safe.


Angel and Stephen just look at the reunion, different emotions playing over their features. Angel gets a hint of what goes on on Spike's side of the link, inwardly smiling to himself.

"I thought he was dead." Stephen murmurs, voice strangely high, and Angel feels alarm bells going off in his head. He turns to his only alive offspring, eyebrow raised in question. "I came here" Stephen pants, panicking. "and found him and I thought he was dead and I called the cops 'cause that's what they tell you. If you witness a crime or something you have to call them… have to call the cops… they fix it… somehow…"

Inwardly Angel groans and when he hears the faint sound of sirens he knows he has to do something.

Magic Box

"Dru suddenly squeals and laughs, singing something about dead kittens awakening and a new daddy. It triggers a fuzzy memory in Giles' brain but he can't get it clear and he shoves it away for now.

Angel’s mansion

Stephen cocks his head to the side and his face brightens up. "They're coming!" he yells excitedly. "They're coming! I'll go down and guide them up, I'll go and wait for them!" he says and makes a dash to the door but Angel stops him with a hand on his wrist and yanks him back. Instinctively Stephen turns out of the half embrace and jerks his arm up, his elbow connecting hard with Angel's jaw, making the head fly back. Golden eyes flash in the half dark and Angel roars at the struggling youth. "Lemme go, I have to get down and sorry about that, wasn't meant, just lemme go, they'll know what to…"

"No, you'll do what I…"

"Fuck off. Lemme go." Stephen's knee comes up and Angel avoids that but then the heel of Stephen's docs connects with his left toes and Angel howls in pain. Angelus rips to the surface, unusually upset by this respectless behavior of one of his and he curses and barks at the youth to “keep the fuck still!"

loudloudloud don'tlike don'tlike

alright safe here, all safe here hush, childe


soon childe. open your eyes first, will you childe?

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Stephen screams right back and finally Angelus and Angel lose their temper and Stephen is knocked out with one well placed, controlled right hook to the temple. The dark vampire catches him and looks around helplessly.

Wonderful Angel. And now? he asks himself.

"Spike!" he hisses. "We have to get going!"

After a long moment of no response from the blond, Angel repeats his command in sire's voice and Spike manages to look up.

"How the bloody hell do you want to 'get going'?" he spits at his sire, his eyes pointing at his childe's slumped, still unconscious form against his chest.

"Fuck, we just…" he trails off when the sirens' sound is fullfully loud and car doors are opened and slammed shut. "We just have to… the window! Open the window."

Spike growls.

"What do you think they'll do if they" Angel nods in the direction of the door. "get here? Finding you with a dead man in your lap?"

Spike growls but gets up, carefully laying Xander down on the bed again. He opens the window and looks down. Two storeys, about fifteen feet down. Bloody hell.

"How are you…"

"I'll go down, you throw them, I'll catch them."


"He has to come too." Angel tightens his grip on the limp body.

"And why the hell does he have to come too?"

Opening his mouth to explain, Angel decides against it and just scratches a fingernail over the boy’s neck, a bit of blood wells up and he scoops it on his fingertip, pressing it urgently against Spike's lips which – trustingly – open up, as if one hundred years of estrangement never happened.

When the taste of fresh blood hits Spike's tongue and fills his senses he recognizes it instantly. bloodchilde slams so hard through the link that Xander and Angel groan.

"Why can't I catch them?" Spike asks still staring disbelievingly and in awe at his sire.

"Because your chip will fry your brain right after you caught Connor."

"This is the Police! Is anybody up there???"

Both vampires leap into action and Spike takes Connor from Angel's arms, handling him as if he's a fragile piece of glass.


safe. soon. hold on.
Spike sends back, trying to calm the nearly thrashing childe on the bed. Not long now ‘til he wakes up completely.

"S.P.D.! Are you upstairs? We're coming up now!"

Angel is out of the window and waiting with wide open arms for the first … to be thrown down. Spike looks down, one knee on the window sill for balance and with a nod he lets Connor fall. The chip doesn't give a twinge. Glad, Spike hurries to turn around and grab his childe. He strokes the contorting face, somewhere between death and human and vampire, coldsirecoldhungrysirehungry kisses his childe's forehead and then leans out of the window and soon. safe. all safe. lets him fall.

Angel catches him easily, hugging the trembling body to his chest, gaze fixed on the rippling face, again fascinated by the gorgeous transformation of a first change, on half parted lips through which he can see the fangs grow and gleam virgin white. Eyelids flutter and orange-golden orbs focus on his. "Sire?"

11 Bonding

Magic Box

"It's time!" Drusilla squeals and jumps to her feet. Wesley, who sat on her lap to keep her on the chair, falls to the ground.

"I told you to secure her!" Giles hollers and looks with open disgust at the younger watcher who struggles to get back his footing.

"I tried to... she just... it was unexpected!" Wesley tries to justify himself but only earns scornful looks.

Gunn, in the meantime, followed Drusilla to the middle of the room where she twirls around herself, laughing loudly. She doesn't seem to be a danger to anybody so Gunn just watches her antics carefully, but doesn't try to grab her.

Willow, Tara and Cordy, who sit on the stairs to the upper level of the bookstore, also watch the vampire's dance, fascinated. Buffy frantically pulls on Giles' sleeve. "What's going on, Giles! What's going on?"

Wes stands beside Drusilla and holds his hand out. "Come here, princess, you make them nervous when you dance." he says softly and she stops all her movements.

Wes, Gunn and Giles let out a sigh of relief, when suddenly, Cordy sits up straighter and would have fallen down the stairs if Willow and Tara hadn't caught her.

Drusilla throws her head back and screams. Wesley grabs her around her middle and drags her to the ground, cradles her to his chest but she keeps on screaming.

Cordy's cheeks are wet with tears and her lip is bleeding a little where she must have bitten it. Her hands hold her head as if she wants to keep it from exploding. Willow and Tara try their best to keep her still.

Buffy has crouched down and dragged Giles with her, she looks around with unseeing eyes frantically from where Dru struggles in Gunn's and Wes' hold to where Cordy writhes in the arms of the witches.

The next moment, the two dark-haired women cease to move at all, before they sit bolt upright, eyes rolled up towards the ceiling so that nearly nothing of the iris can be seen, they both open their mouths then start chanting simultaneously:

"It has begun and once it begins it can't be stopped except by the new order that still has to form. It has begun and once it begins it can't be stopped except by the new order that still has to form. It has begun and once it begins it can't be stopped except by the new order that still has to form."

Then both girls collapse in exhaustion.

Wesley and Giles exchange a look and the witches and Gunn, who witness it, feel the hairs on their necks stand on end.

Outside Angel's mansion, Xander

I feel weird. My body feels tight and controlled. I am hungry. I want to - no! I need to be with my sire. I am moved, and then I am flying. My body tingles as if new skin is growing on it. Strong arms encircle me. I feel safe. The tingling grows and it seems to be concentrated on my face, my teeth and forehead. It's increasing and increasing and it starts to hurt. Hurts. Hurts badly. Sire? Help me? Help me! The pain is so bad, where is my sire? Why do I hurt? Sire? I need my sire. Where is my sire? I fight to open my eyes. My face feels so weird. Finally I manage to open my eyes. Everything is foggy, only slowly can I focus. I see brown eyes that look down at me with pride and adoration. Something in me tells me family. Not my sire. Where is my sire? "Sire?" I hear myself ask.

I feel strong hands grab me and rip me out of the comfortable embrace of family and my stomach does flip-flops. I struggle to get to the ground, there are more hands, pulling and pushing on me. I get sick. I start gagging. And finally, I feel muddy ground under my hands and knees and let my body do what it wants.

Outside Angel’s mansion

"I told you to..." Angel snarls at Spike, who at last puts Xander down on the ground.

"Fuck you."

"I told you to let him down!"

"So what?! You want a gold-medal for knowing first thing he's gonna do is puke his guts out?"

Xander groans and empties his stomach more. "You could have told me!" Spike says and keeps massaging Xander's neck.

"Keep your voice down!" Angel looks around, cocks his head and listens to the sounds from the mansion. "And when should I have told you? Between searching for the childe you lost and the police coming after us, which they still are by the way."

Spike huffs out breaths, annoyed. "So what shall I do? Go in there and impress them by falling to the ground and screaming like a girl?!"

"I told you to keep your voice down!"

"Why don't you keep your voice down?"

"Why don't you both shut up?" Xander croaks and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, effectively cutting himself with his fangs. "Fuck."

"Maybe later." Angel says and grins over his pun. Spike just stares in awe at his childe. "Now we have to get going. Come on." He gets to his feet and when Spike doesn't make a move to follow suit, Angel kicks Spike in the side. "NOW."

Xander bares his teeth at Angel instinctively. Spike grins. Angel growls. "Get your childe, childe. I’ll get Connor."

Spike grabs Xander's arm. Xander is touching his forehead wonderingly and stares at the blood where it leaks from the two parallel scratches on the back of his head. "Come on now, poof's right. Gotta get away now. It's not safe." He pulls Xander to his feet, supports him whilst they walk deeper into the shadows of the trees in the backyard.

Angel has gathered up Stephen and carries him carefully. On the young man's temple a bruise is rapidly forming, but it's not as bad as Angel thought. He never thought he'd hold his son in his arms again. The oracles promised him a normal life, a good life for Connor and now the boy showed up here. Looks like they, too, underestimated the power of blood.

The three vampires and the bloodchilde arrive at the car and get into it, Spike and Xander sit in the back, Connor is put on the passenger seat and secured with the seatbelt. Spike pulls Xander, who is still confused and hungry, to him. Angel turns the key in the ignition and, without turning the lights on, he steers the car out of the driveway unseen by the two cops still in the mansion.

"Where do we go?" Spike asks, cuddling a nearly unresponsive Xander.


"Oh wow - you're a genius with plans." The blond rolls his eyes and looks down into Xander's vampiric face. "You okay?" He asks, softly and Xander shakes his head.

"Course he's not okay - he must be hungry as hell." Angel says reproachfully. "Feed him."

"Bugger off."


"BUGGER OFF!" Spike yells and Xander winces, shrinks away. "Not you."

"You kidnapped me!" The newly awakened Stephen/Connor says.

"Oh just great." Angel sighs and grabs the seatbelt to hinder any attempt by Connor to get out of it.

"Xander, calm down. You'll get what you need soon." Angel wishes for once that vampires show up in mirrors, he can't keep an eye on the road, on Connor and on the two in the back. "Spike, just listen to the link, would you?"

Stephen/Connor struggles to get out of the seatbelt as expected, Angel holds on but is surprised - and proud - by the power of the boy.

"Let me go! Why did you kidnap me? Let me go. I won't tell anything to anybody. Promise."

"No." Angel says calmly.

"You can't just say no. I asked why you won't let me go! Why! That is not a yes-or-no- answer-question!" Stephen/Connor protests.

"No." Angel grins.

"But... damn you." The boy crosses his arms in front of his chest and pouts. Angel thinks it's adorable.

Spike has gone silent. His eyes are on Xander's face that looks down on his hand. The blood has dried there but the fang marks from before are gone. Xander's whole body shakes, he is breathing regularly. Spike is sure he doesn't even realize it. The blond focuses on the link, tries to find Xander there and succeeds. Xander is strong in the link, stronger than Spike imagined, and he is hungry, scared and hungry and uncomfortable.

Slowly Spike reaches out and touches his fingertips to the back of Xander's formerly injured hand. The boy jumps, then looks up at Spike, his expression a mix of fear and anxiety. Spike lets his gameface come to the fore, golden eyes lock on golden-orange eyes, he opens the link a bit, floods Xander with his emotions while he says the initial words:

"I am Spike aka William the Bloody of the Aurelius bloodline. I am your sire. You are my childe. To complete the bond, you shall receive your first taste from my vein, to strengthen the bond I shall drink from your vein. Once this is done, whatever happens, whatever you do, whatever I do, nothing but the final death can destroy the bond we share."

Spike pulls Xander to him, the boy's back to his chest; he shoves up his sleeve and holds the vulnerable inside of his wrist close to Xander's mouth. "Drink, my childe." he murmurs and breathes kisses onto Xander's neck. The newly created vampire doesn't hesitate long; he sinks his fangs into his sire's flesh and starts sucking deeply. Spike can't withstand any longer and he bites carefully into his childe's neck, suckles just a little blood inside his mouth. Both moan in exquisite pleasure when the physical and psychic connections are both established. Love, family sense and acceptance, protection and eagerness flash through the link and can be tasted in the blood. The bond completes.

Angel smiles.

12 Belonging

Magic Box

"Giles! I can see! I can see! I see you! I see Drusilla, she's being held by Wesley and Gunn, and Cordy is down too, Willow and Tara are kneeling beside her. And there is the front door and the meeting table and the books, all those books, red, brown, black, golden..."

"Shut up, Buffy."

"But Giles, I can..."

"I told you to shut up! The return of your sight is really advantageous but you see, there are other people that need my attention right now." Forcefully, Giles turns to Wesley. "I need to talk to you, Wes. Alone."

Wesley looks undecidedly from Drusilla, whose head is in his lap, to Giles and back. "I really need to take care of ..."

"We need to talk and now. Get your arse in my office." Giles has taken off his glasses and his voice holds several layers of steel.

Wesley swallows, then nods. "Gunn, would you mind... "

"No, no, man. Go before the guy has a heart attack from all that stored up anger." Giles gives the bald man a pure ripper look but Gunn just grins back. "Ever seen that movie with Jack Nicholson about anger management?"

The office door slams shut loudly.

"Guess not." Gunn shrugs and lifts Drusilla's head onto his strong thigh. "Could I get a blanket or something?" he asks no-one in particular, even though Buffy is the only one who is doing nothing at the moment. Willow and Tara are occupied with the unconscious Cordelia.

Buffy goes to stand before the kneeling Gunn, hands on her hips, she looks down at him icily. "You shouldn't talk to Giles like that, he does what he can."

"So commanding and glaring is what he can?" Gunn answers, raising his eyebrows at the blond girl.

"You should watch your back." Buffy threatens.

"Why? Cause you wanna kiss my ass?"

"You mean kick your ass."

"Try it."

The staring contest is broken when a blanket is held in between them.

"Hey guys, really don't think this is the right time to..." Willow tries to intervene.

"Shut up, Willow." Buffy cuts her short.

"I just meant to..."

Gunn takes the blanket from Willow's hand and smiles friendly at her. "It's alright. Thanks for the blanket, Willow, right?"

"Yes, Willow Rosenberg."

"I remember you from when you came by to tell Angel about the..." Gunn frowns then looks back at Buffy. "Guess that was your death."

A look of abject horror crosses both Buffy's and Willow's face, Gunn just carries on. "Nice to meet you again, last time we weren't properly introduced. Charles Gunn."

"Erm... Willow Rosenberg, again." Willow giggles nervously.

"I... I think sh-she’s coming around a-again." Tara's shy voice breaks the uncomfortable moment and relieved, Willow goes back to help her girlfriend with Cordelia.

Gunn unfolds the blanket and wraps it around Drusilla's slender body.

"I don't think she's gonna get cold. She's kinda already cold. Dead, to be exact." Buffy comments.

"She's dead, undead, yeah, know that. Doesn't mean she's not gonna get cold."

"And you'd know that why exactly?" She throws her head back so her long blond hair drapes nicely over her shoulders. Gunn watches her closely when he answers.

"Just figured that's why Angel likes to sit in front of the fireplace with a book and a hot cup of Wes' authentic tea to put his hands around." Buffy's mouth closes with a snap and any remark she might have had stays unsaid. Her expression turns sour before the sadness fills her eyes and for a second Gunn even regrets playing this unfair. He watches the tiny blond stalk into the back of the shop, the door with the "authorized persons only" sign slams shut and the sound wakes Drusilla.

Huge, frightened black eyes fix on Gunn's and he smiles at the vampiress.

"Is it over? It's over, is it. For now. They hurt me, they hurt me so bad." Drusilla says with a hoarse voice and tears fill her eyes.

"Who hurt you?" Gunn asks and wipes away a tear from the pale cheek with a corner of the blanket.

Drusilla raises her hand, points to the ceiling with trembling fingers. "They. They from above. Those who live in the sun and send beams to the earth to scorch the tainted."

"I am sooo not tainted, vamp-girl!" Cordelia yells suddenly, interrupting the almost tender moment between Gunn and Drusilla. Willow and Tara help Cordy to her feet, after a little slip, the ex-cheerleader manages to stand relatively safely by herself. "Where is Wesley? He always gets me my pills and juice and steak after a vision!"

Giles' office

"Sit down!" Giles commands and Wesley lets himself fall down on an uncomfortable chair. He takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. "What are you doing with her, Wesley? She is a vampire. Are you thralled? She is insane!" Giles slams his fist down on the desk.

Wesley grits his teeth.

"There is nothing that holds her back from killing, no soul, no chip. You can't trust her! Why did you bring her here! The whole Aurelius Bloodline is in Sunnydale for God's sake!"

The younger ex-watcher rubs his thumb over the bandaged wrist. He was bitten and it was neither a terrible, hurtful experience nor did he die, quite the opposite, he felt more alive, more himself than ever before.

"Wesley, listen!" Giles puts his hands on the arms of the chair Wesley sits in. "She is unpredictable and you follow her like a lap-dog and serve her every need!"

Very calmly Wesley lifts his head and meets Giles' eyes. "Jealous?"

Giles pulls back as if he was slapped. "What?" he splutters and stares incredulously at the younger man.

"I asked if you were jealous, Mr. Giles." Wesley repeats slowly, voice cold.

"How can you..." Giles is still too stunned by the unexpected way Wesley had stood up to him to find the right words.

"Listen to me, Rupert, for once. A few years back I may have been stupid and naïve but I am not anymore. I am working for Angel and I’ve had my fair share of fights and experiences. I've grown up and I don't need someone to scream at me. If you want to professionally discuss the mentioning of the New Order in Cordelia's and Drusilla's shared vision, I am willing to do so."

Angel's car, Xander

Slowly memories come back; slowly I remember my old life. I know the memories are mine but they feel strange. Some emotions, some of the big events have suddenly lost their scare factor or their importance. New feelings flood me; a new role in the system of the world is waiting for me to slip into. I am floating somehow, between old and new life, both seem infinitely far away. I am like a puzzle piece waiting to be clicked into the right place. Spike, my sire, and Angel, the head of the family - my family? - fight again. It hurts, I don't understand why they have to fight. I feel the connection between them and I don't know why they need to pretend it doesn't exist. I don't know who the guy in the passenger seat is. Human. I can hear his heart-beat. It's a calming sound somehow. I concentrate on it and try not to think about the nagging hunger in every cell of my body.

They stopped, at last. Angel and the boy now exchange a few words, the boy isn't willingly here. Do I have to eat him? Did they get him for me? Is Angelus back? Why doesn't that frighten me? My head hurts. Thinking is hard when all I can think is hunger. I need to eat, well, need to drink blood. Can't say that disgusts me, but it doesn't excite me either. Weird.

My hand has healed. The marks have gone and I start peeling off the dried blood until my sire's slender pale fingers touch me like the soft wings of a butterfly. I look up and meet the worried blue eyes of my former enemy, lately almost-friend, now sire. He changes into his demon face. I wonder what I look like. Am I ugly? Spike isn't, not like this, not with the human mask.

I listen closely to the words he says, I am his childe. The words flood a part of me with joy. He is my sire and I feel proud to have him as my sire, William the Bloody after all.
We share a bond that can't be broken, that means acceptance and safety. I feel hope bloom inside me.

He pulls me towards him, my back to his chest and in his embrace I feel safe. He offers me his wrist and I can't resist, I bite deeply into his flesh.

Blood. Sire's blood. It fills me, my mouth, my throat, my veins. It rushes through my system and I feel my body and mind flare to life. What before was just a background pulsing, now drums through my being.

Love. Acceptance. Family. Safety. Love. Acceptance. Family. Safety. Love.

I bind with my sire. I bind as his childe. I commit myself to the bloodline and it welcomes me. I find my place in the hierarchy and accept it eagerly. This is where I am meant to be. This is what can't be taken from me, what I can't deny whatever the future may bring. I am Xander of the bloodline of Aurelius; childe of Spike aka William the Bloody; who is the childe of Angelus; who is the childe of Darla; who is childe of the Master of the Aurelius bloodline.

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