Quantum Xander


by
Jameschick



Part Sixteen



Waking up this morning was a new experience in the ever-increasing weirdness that is my life. Spike was beside me, or rather under me, sort of. I remember waking up last night after having a terrible nightmare - Demons, Willow, yada yada. So not going into that. Anyway, Spike was there, in the bed, holding me and comforting me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I needed the comfort. I am surprised, however, that Spike was there. I mean yeah, I sorta saved him from Riley but I didn't expect anything from him. I'm embarrassed to admit that I cried like a baby while he held me after I told him about my dream. I'm not sure how to deal with him today; I mean, do I pretend it didn't happen?

A big part of me really wants to do that. Just pretend it never happened; but another part, a smaller-but-still-there part, doesn't want to forget that for the first time since this mess started, I felt safe. I know, talk about crazy huh? I felt safe while being held by a vampire. Ha! If Buffy could only see me now!

I left Spike sleeping in my bed while I came downstairs to the kitchen. I made coffee and toast - Angel doesn't have a lot of people food here - and tried to think of what I'm going to do while stuck here in LA. One thing’s for sure, I'm not going back to Sunnydale. Those people are nuts. If I ever decide to show this to my Giles, I might have to take these pages out first. I am not sure how he would handle knowing what he could have become, what all of them could become.

The ‘me’ in this world? I haven't really met him yet. I mean I saw him, he was in the car the whole way back here with Spike and me, but he was strangely quiet. I say strangely 'cause you know, when am I ever quiet? I tend to babble when I'm nervous, not shut up. I think he's with Wesley, as in with Wesley. Not that it bothers me; I mean Spike, then Faith. Wesley can't be any stranger of a partner, right?

Wrong. I can't help it. I think Wesley, and I see a nervous, uptight, tweed-wearing, busybody who bossed Buffy around and couldn't pull his own head out of his ass long enough to see that everything isn't black and white. Okay, unfair. I know, but that's what I remember. Of course the fact that he works with Angel must prove that he has broadened his outlook somewhat. I just don't see why I'm with him. Why he's with him. Spike and Faith I can almost understand. Okay, Demon-magnet Harris, right? So a gay or bi version of myself would inevitably wind up attracting either Spike or Angel. Can I just say how happy I am not to have run into a version of me that's hooked up with Deadboy? Nugh! And Faith? Well, I did sleep with her, so obviously there was an attraction. Maybe it was the slayer thing? I lusted after Buffy, thought Kendra was pretty hot, why not?

So, what have I learned about myself so far on this little expedition? Ooh, big word, Giles would be so proud! I've learned that I am terminally attracted to Demons - ex or otherwise, and slayers. And apparently in at least one deviation, a former watcher. Why can't I ever just find a nice normal person to settle down with?

Xander closed his journal and stuck it back into his pants. He really needed to see about getting another backpack. He also needed to get dressed soon. He never knew when he was going to shift realities and he doubted any other Angel would be too pleased to find him in his kitchen wearing his jammies. The thought of the look on the vampire’s face actually made Xander snort in amusement. It might be worth it.

When Spike woke up he was confused by his surroundings. Usually, he was woken at dawn by Riley, dragged out of bed, beaten - sometimes raped - and then made to fetch his breakfast while his master showered. This morning, however, he woke on his own in a soft bed surrounded by the scent of a human that was definitely not Riley. It took Spike a few minutes to remember where he was and why, but once he did, he couldn't hide the smile that lit up his face. It hadn't been a dream; he was really here, in LA, safe with his sire and Xander. Xander who had rescued him and then broken down and cried in his arms. He couldn't blame the boy, from the sounds of things the place he had been was pretty rough. Not to mention just randomly popping around dimensions. Not exactly a trip to Disneyland.

Spike was no stranger to nightmares, or to crying for that matter. In the years that he had been in 'service' to Riley, he had endured tortures that would have made Angelus cringe. He'd had his fangs ripped out - several times; he'd been beaten and gang raped, buggered with a cross, given an enema with holy water, had his testicles removed - twice. He'd been starved for weeks, blinded, experimented on by mad scientists; had a chip shoved into his brain that crippled him for even thinking about hurting a human and then to top it all off, was forced to kill his lover of over a century.

Dru had shown up with Darla in tow; he still wasn't sure how the bitch had been resurrected. Buffy had found out they were in town and Riley used him as bait to lure them out. He wasn't supposed to stake her, the Initiative wanted to 'learn' about her visions. Spike couldn't let that happen, not after everything he had been through. So he staked her. The only thing that let him live with himself after that was the knowledge that she was better off in hell than at the mercy of Riley and his commando buddies.

He was not sure what happened to Darla; as soon as he staked Dru, Riley shot him with a tazer. He woke up strapped down to a gurney, an ache in his groin, and a grinning Riley looking down on him with a steel bowl in his hand. That was the first time he had been castrated. Good thing for vampires that their parts grow back - eventually. So yeah, if Xander wanted to cry, Spike wasn't about to stop him. Hell, he wished he had someone who would hold him when he cried. Not that he did a lot of that these days… He had gotten to the point where almost nothing could get to him anymore; he was close to the point of breaking. If not for Xander, Spike was sure that within months he would have been completely lost - a shell of himself that blindly obeyed Riley Finn.

Spike stretched and rolled out of bed. He crossed the hall to his room and grabbed his smokes out of his coat before heading downstairs to the kitchen. That was another nice thing about being here. He could feed when he was hungry, without having to beg for it.





Part Seventeen



Spike found Xander in the hotel kitchen sipping coffee and reading a newspaper. He wasn't sure how the boy wanted to treat last night so he settled for a noncommittal grunt as a greeting on his way to the refrigerator. Xander snorted in amusement and cocked his eyebrow.

"I see some things don't change. Still as eloquent as ever first thing in the A.M., eh?"

"Piss off, m'tired. Somebody hogged all the blankets and I didn't sleep well."

Xander choked on his coffee and Spike smirked. That'd teach the boy not to insult him before he'd had his brekkies. Spike reached into the fridge and pulled out a large container of blood before setting it on the counter. When he turned around to get a mug from the cupboard he noticed that Xander was blushing and trying to hide behind the paper.

"Oh bugger! Look, I was just joking, all right? I'm not gonna take the piss with ya. Nothing wrong with needing comfort once in a while, especially after what you've been through. Tell ya the truth? I was glad for the company as well."

That seemed to shock Xander into responding as he dropped the paper and looked at the vampire.

"Really? So you won't say anything about..."

"Not a word. Promise."

"Cool."

Xander picked the paper back up with a sigh of relief and watched Spike move around the kitchen while he made his breakfast. He couldn't help but chuckle at Spike as he scowled at the ancient microwave again. When Angel walked into the kitchen an hour later, he was faced with a half-naked Spike laying on the table while Xander was running his fingers over his back and scowling. He watched for a few minutes trying to figure out what was going on. Once he realised that Xander seemed to be looking for something, he cleared his throat to get his attention.

"You ah, need any help?"

Xander looked at the puzzled expression on Angel’s face and smiled.

"Sure, know anything about tracking devices? I think Spike might have one in him somewhere."

"Why do you think that?"

"Because we're talking about the military; they don't like to lose what they consider theirs. Plus, I'm figuring this chip is a prototype, right? So it's probably expensive. They won't give up looking for him."

The severity of the situation seemed to dawn on Angel. He knew some people who might be able to help but he wasn't sure he trusted them to keep quiet.

"I can't say I know anything about tracers, but maybe Wes could do a locator spell on him? He's pretty good with magic."

Xander looked at Spike who shrugged his shoulders.

"Call him. I'll keep looking."

Angel headed out to the office to call Wes while Xander continued his search for the implant. He hadn't found anything so far, and he wasn't sure if he would either. There was a very good possibility that any tracking device the Initiative may have implanted would be buried deep.

"You find anything mate?"

"Nope, not yet. Want me to stop? Wes should be here in a half hour or so."

Spike shrugged his shoulders and said nothing. Truth was, he was worried about the watcher using mojo on him. He was never very comfortable around magic. Plus, Xander’s warm hands on his back felt kinda nice.

"If you want."

Xander sighed and continued to search. He knew Spike well enough to know what he wasn't saying. His Spike didn't like magic, so this one probably didn't either. He hoped he would find something, but knew it was likely that he wouldn't.

By the time Wesley showed up, Xander had done a pretty thorough job of searching the vampire. He didn't find the tracking device, but he did discover that Spike was ticklish - something he planned on using to his advantage if he ever made it home. See how big and bad he'd look while giggling like a schoolgirl… Just the thought of it made him snicker.

Xander - this world’s version - showed up about ten minutes after Wesley, laden down with shopping bags and boxes. Angel and Xander helped him bring everything into the kitchen while Wes set up his spell in one of the empty rooms. Spike was in the courtyard having a cigarette. He was still nervous about the spell but as Xander had pointed out, it was better than having Finn and his goon squad finding him.

Angel left the two Xanders in the kitchen while he went to fetch Spike. He wanted to get this over with quickly; the last thing he needed was a bunch of gung-ho soldiers storming his hotel. While emptying the groceries, Xander noticed his double watching him. He figured he was curious about him, in his situation he would be, so he turned, smiled and asked him if he wanted to know anything in particular. His double gave him a sheepish grin.

"That obvious huh?"

"Well yeah, but then it's not everyday you get to talk to yourself from an alternate reality."

The other Xander smiled.

"Kind of like Sliders, huh?"

"Yeah, kind of. So what would you like to know about my oh-so-fascinating life?"

"I'm curious about Spike, I mean are you two...?"

Xander chuckled. Then he shook his head.

"Not this time. There was one world though, the second one I ended up in. Don't tell anyone I said this, but they were cute together."

That made the other Xander choke. He couldn't grasp the idea of dating Spike. Sure Doyle had been half Brakken but he was a sweet guy, all heart. Spike was mean and nasty and would just as soon kill you as look at you. It just didn't make sense.

"I don't understand how you can take this so lightly. He's a soulless killer, how can you trust him? I mean, I work for Angel, I even kind of like the guy now but I don't trust him. One happy thought and he'd pull out my spleen, ya know?"

Xander tried to think of a way to explain his feelings about Spike, but the truth was he didn't really understand them himself. He had written in his journal that Spike was his friend. He had gone so far as to tell the Spike of this world that very same thing, but the truth was, before he'd left home on this wacky adventure, he had been just as close-minded about Spike as his double was. It wasn't until he really started to pay attention to Spike and 'Xan' that he saw who Spike really was under all the bluff and bravado.

"It's complicated. A few weeks ago, I would have asked the same thing. But now? I know what he can be, what he's capable of."

"So do I, and if you ask me you should have left him in Sunnydale. I don't like him, I don't trust him, and I won't come back here as long as he's staying in this hotel. Tell Angel I'll call him if I have a vision."

Xander watched in open-mouthed shock as his double walked out of the kitchen. He couldn't believe ... well, yeah he could believe.

"Jeez, was I this much of an ass before all this started?"





Part Eighteen



Spike fidgeted restlessly while Wesley finished preparing. He caught himself - several times - looking toward the door hoping Xander would come in. Of course every time he realised what he was doing it made him angry. He did not need a human to make him feel safe. It was humans who had hurt him this much in the first place. Besides that, Xander could disappear at any given time so it was best not to get attached. Nevertheless, he couldn't stop himself from letting out a relieved breath when the man came into the room.

"So, we all set? What exactly is this spell gonna do anyway?"

Wesley cleared his throat and looked toward Angel, after receiving a nod from the dark-haired vampire he answered.

"It should tell us if there are any foreign objects in his body and where they are located. A bluish light will surround him and then disappear. If there is anything there, the skin in the area of the object will remain glowing faintly for approximately five minutes. Long enough to mark the area."

"Will it hurt?"

Spike was glad Xander had asked that question as he refused to look weak in front of his sire and his sire’s human pet. Not that it mattered - he had been through a lot worse, he was sure.

"No, it won't cause any pain, however ... "

After a brief pause Xander prompted the man to continue.

"However what?"

"However, he will need to take off his clothes in order for the spell to be most effective."

Both Wesley and Xander blushed. Spike snorted and began pulling off his boots. Angel sighed and closed his eyes. It had been a very long time since he had looked upon his childe naked, and he wasn't sure if he could handle seeing the noticeable differences in his body. Spike had lost a fair bit of weight; he looked half-starved and Angel knew without even looking that he would resemble more of a living skeleton than a vampire.

"Can we just get this over with then?"

Spike wasn't concerned about his nudity; he was actually enjoying the discomfort it was causing the others. He didn't know what Angel’s problem was, he had seen it all before. But he knew why the watcher was blushing - he could smell his arousal. Xander just seemed to be embarrassed about being in the room with a naked man.

Angel held a marker in his hand while Wesley chanted. Once the spell was cast, Spike stood in a ball of glowing blue light. It seemed to seep into his skin and then fade away. Xander cursed softly when he saw the multitude of glowing blue spots adorning Spike’s pale skin. He was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Xander grabbed the marker from Angel as he was just standing there staring, and began marking the pattern of lights. Spike stood still, jaw clenched in anger and waited for him to finish. He counted sixteen marks all together by the time Xander had finished.

Xander grimaced at the thought of what Spike was going to have to go through. He knew that the mark on the back of his head corresponded with the behaviour modification chip, but what the hell were the other fifteen for? He knew without a doubt that one of them would be a tracer - maybe even two as a backup but what the hell else was in there?

"We're going to need to put him out."

Angel’s voice startled Xander who was still trying to figure out what all could be in the vampire. Spike shook his head.

"No."

"Spike..."

"I said no, Peaches. You will not put me out for this. Just give me a bottle of that Irish whiskey I know you have hiding in your room somewhere."

Angel sighed but nodded and left the room to fetch the bottle. Wesley gathered up his spell ingredients and headed for the door as well. He turned back when Xander spoke to him.

"Uh, Xander’s gone already, just thought you should know."

Xander shrugged his shoulders and Wes nodded before leaving the human and the vampire alone in the room. Xander looked around uncomfortably while Spike paced - naked - throughout the room. He was just about to offer to leave, to give him some privacy, when Spike spoke to him.

"Did this happen back in your world? Did your version of me have all..."

He gestured to the marks adorning his body.

"...this inside of him too?"

Xander shook his head and then ran his fingers through his hair.

"I don't think so. See, back home after you escaped the Initiative you showed up at Giles’ and we grudgingly took you in. You spent some time chained up in the tub; eventually we realised you couldn't hurt us and let you out. You stayed with me for a while when Giles’ lady friend came to visit. I told you about the chair, right?"

Spike nodded and then Xander continued.

"The soldier boys were still out and about looking for you; they spotted you one night walking back to your crypt and shot you with a tracer. You showed up at Giles’ and we dug it out. It wasn't pretty. I don't think my Spike, er, the Spike back home has anything else in him other than the chip now. Of course, you've been stuck as their guinea pig for a hell of a long time now, haven't you?"

"Too bloody long. Did I thank you for getting me out of there yet?"

Xander chuckled and shook his head.

"Don't offer to thank someone when you’re naked, okay?"

Spike looked down at himself and smirked.

"I didn't think you went for blokes, pet. The other one does though, so maybe I'm mistaken?"

"Nope. Straight as they come! No interest in alternate lifestyles here. Nuh uh, no way."

"I get it, yer straight. Was only taking the piss with ya, mate."

Angel chose that moment to come back into the room, a bottle of whiskey and a very large first aid kit in his hands. He gave the bottle to Spike while he put some towels down on the bed and opened the kit. Xander wasn't surprised to see an assortment of scalpels, tweezers, needles and sewing thread.

"Anytime you’re ready Spike. Xander, you might want to leave. This won't be pretty."

"Yeah, but then who will play nurse?"

Angel sighed but nodded.

"Your call, just don't throw up or pass out."

It took nearly two hours, but in the end everything except the chip had been removed from Spike’s body. The vampire himself had passed out from the pain - or the alcohol - after about an hour. Xander had cleaned each piece of technology as it had been extracted. He recognised three of them as being tracking devices. The Initiative certainly wasn't planning on ever letting Spike get away. The others, however, he didn't have a clue about. He followed Angel back downstairs after helping to move Spike back to his own room. He wanted to know if Angel had any clue what the other things might be.





Part Nineteen



Xander was packing his things into a bag that Angel had given him. It was more of a sports bag than a backpack but it would do for now. His double had - apparently at Angel’s request - brought clothes for him. He had brought some things for Spike as well, so Xander had taken them upstairs and left them on the bed beside the sleeping vampire.

Angel had no clue what the little bits of metal he had dug out of Spike were. Xander had pointed out the three tracers and Angel immediately smashed them and then flushed the pieces down the nearest toilet. Now if only they knew what the others were for… Angel said he had a friend - David something or other - who could probably find out so he went to call him, leaving Xander alone in the kitchen perusing the contents of the recently restocked fridge.

Spike woke up feeling like a truck had hit him. He groaned and rolled over in the bed, right into a pile of clothes that he assumed were for him. He chuckled at the idea of Xander making sure he got dressed before leaving the room. Maybe the boy wasn't as straight as he thought he was. Not that Spike was anyone to talk - he had never cared one way or the other what sex his partner was. Of course he wasn't planning on bending over for anyone anytime soon. He pulled on the jeans and shirt - a pretty good fit - and then shoved his feet into his boots. He stuffed a pair of socks in his duster pocket - he'd put them on later - and headed for the kitchen. He was starved.

He found Xander hunched over the counter scribbling away in a notebook. He barely spared him a look as he headed for the refrigerator. He must have lost a lot of blood earlier ‘cause he hadn't been this hungry in a long time. After pouring a large mug full and putting it in to heat, Spike drank the rest of the blood straight from the container - cold - he was that hungry. The microwave had barely signalled the end of its cycle when Spike grabbed the mug from within and drained it as well. His hunger sated, he was about to ask Xander if they knew what the hell had been inside him. He never got the chance.

Xander had just finished putting his journal away after writing down all the horrible details of what he had watched Angel do a few hours before. He knew Spike would want to know what they had found. He saw Spike open his mouth to speak before the hotel went dark and an alarm began to sound.

Xander shouldered his bag just as Angel ran into the kitchen. He tried to usher them toward the back hallway, and Xander caught him saying something to Spike about sewer access. Xander couldn't see where he was going and was grateful that Spike had grabbed hold of him and was pulling him along in the dark.

Suddenly there were bright lights and Xander could clearly make out the game faces of the two vampires before he heard Buffy's voice.

"Angel, step away from Spike. He's all we came for. Let us have him and no one needs to get hurt."

"I can't let you take him Buffy. I know what kinds of things have been done to him, I won't allow it to continue."

Xander wished he could see Buffy, he really needed to know if she was aware of what exactly her 'boyfriend' had done to the helpless vampire. Unfortunately the boyfriend in question took that moment to begin issuing orders.

"Take them all down, we'll retrieve the hostile afterwards."

Spike turned to run but only got a few feet before he was hit with a tazer blast. Xander screamed as he watched him fall. He rushed toward Spike and felt himself get hit, the last thing he remembered was landing on Spike before the darkness took him.


~*~*~*~*~


The first thing Xander saw when he opened his eyes was the arrow of a crossbow - pointed right at him. The second thing he saw was Faith, not the softer version he'd met before but the hard-as-nails-looking Faith he was familiar with.

"Fang! Get your ass in here, one of them is awake."

Xander moved to cover his ears when she started to yell but then thought better of it. He might not be a vampire but a bolt through the chest would still kill him. He watched Angel come through the door and sighed in relief. At least Deadboy wouldn't let her kill them. The fact that he was still sprawled on top of Spike’s back had not escaped his notice and he desperately wanted to move before the vampire came to. He didn't need Spike setting off his implant in a blind panic.

"Can I sit up now? Spike's too skinny to be a comfortable cushion."

Faith nodded but didn't put the bow down for a second. Angel continued to watch him and once he was up, the older vampire immediately flipped Spike over and shook him. Xander suddenly realised that there were no soldiers, no Riley and no Buffy. That could only mean one thing - he'd shifted again. And apparently taken Spike with him.

"Angel? I don't think you should do that. He's in pretty bad shape."

Angel stopped manhandling the blonde and looked at Xander.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I don't know how long we've been lying on your floor but just a couple hours before that, Spike had fifteen pieces of Initiative technology dug out of his body. He lost a lot of blood, and then he got shot by a tazer. So all in all, I think shaking him is probably a bad idea."

Angel seemed to consider this before letting go of Spike. He then turned to Faith and nodded for her to lower the weapon. He looked at Xander long enough to make the mortal uncomfortable before speaking.

"So what was that then? A teleportation spell? And what do you want with Spike? And while I'm at it, why bring him here, I mean won't your wizard be looking for you?"

"Um, not a spell. A trans-dimensional shift. I don't want anything with Spike; I just landed on him after I got blasted by one of Finn’s goons. We're here because I always end up in the same place as I left, and what wizard? I don't have a wizard. Do I?"

Spike chose that moment to groan and sit up. Xander went to his side and helped him. Angel watched the interaction between human and vampire with interest. Faith just rolled her eyes.

"If I'm not needed here, can I go? Cordy said she'd take me to that new leather shop in the mall."

Angel waved Faith away and turned back to Xander and Spike who were now seated side by side against the counter. Spike was looking around warily and Xander had a guilty expression on his face.

"Uh, Xan? What the hell happened? Last thing I remember, Farmboy and his friends were pointing guns at us."

Well ... I don't know how to tell you this, but I shifted out again ... and somehow took you with me. I think maybe 'cause I landed on you when I got shot."

Spike stared at Xander for a few minutes while he thought over the idea of being in an alternate dimension. In the end, he figured it had to be better than being recaptured by Finn or being dust, so he just shrugged and nodded once.

"Alright. I can live with that."





Twenty



Well, it seems I've made a huge mess of things. Leave it to me to screw up the universe, eh? Thing is, I don't regret it. I know if I hadn't landed on Spike, hadn't taken him with me, he'd be back in the loving custody of one Riley Finn and the Initiative. So how can I regret it? I am so glad Riley took off for the jungles of South America or wherever. I hate to admit that he had me fooled - he wasn't the country bumpkin I had him pegged for. Spike saw through his act, though, and maybe Giles a bit. I'm glad Buffy missed his chopper.

We have Faith the vampire slayer on this world. She got out on early parole - supposedly for good behaviour. If you ask me, though, the council had to have pulled some strings after Buffy died. Seems Willow never brought her back in this reality. Of course in this reality she's still dating Oz, and I apparently live here in L.A. and run a magic shop with Ethan Rayne - my lover.

Yeah, that's what I said, my lover. What the hell? I mean okay; the only woman I've been with in these other worlds is Faith? Is there no reality out there where I get a shot at happiness with the Buffster? (Buffy? If you ever read this, forget you just read that okay? You're my friend and I love you, but the 15-year-old that I was is still yelling foul!) I've been paired up with Spike, Doyle, Wesley, possibly Angelus - I didn't exactly want to know about that one (Yes I read the watcher diaries and I know what the sire/childe bond entails, I just refuse to think about it!) and now apparently, Ethan Rayne. I wonder what the Giles of this world thinks about that? Oh yeah and I'm a warlock or something here as well. Cool huh? And Giles thought my magic skills entailed setting books on fire by speaking Latin to them… Showed you huh, G-man!

I still have the bag that the last Angel gave me so I now have more than just the clothes on my back. Unfortunately Spike doesn't. He's lucky he was wearing his boots and duster when he got hit, or rather I'm lucky. If he hadn't been I would have to listen to him complain forever.

Angel was good enough to offer us a place to stay, on the condition that Spike doesn't bother his employees and we tell him the full story of what's happened so far. I don't know if Spike is ready to tell anyone his story yet, and certainly not Angel. I told him mine, minus the gory details of course. He had the grace to look guilty for the whole Acathla fiasco, at least. I think I might just get in touch with the Angel of each new world I visit just to make the asshole feel bad. Yeah, so I'm bitter. Fuck off, you weren't there.

Spike and I are gonna go out once the sun sets. I want to meet myself in this world, maybe he can teach me a spell to bind my belongings to me. That way I won't have to worry about carrying this damn bag wherever I go. Plus, I just want to get away from Deadboy for a while; he still gives me the wiggins. I know he's just one happy away from being Angelus again and that just does not inspire trust. Especially with both Cordy and Faith staying here; can you spell temptation boys and girls? I knew you could.

Xander put his journal away and went in search of his new travel buddy. That was another thing he had to figure out, what to do about Spike. He felt kind of responsible for the vamp; he was, after all, the one who dragged him into a strange new world. Could he just abandon him here? If you had asked him that before this whole mess started, Xander would have answered with a heartfelt yes. Of course that was before he had gotten to know Spike better.

"Hey Fan ... Blondie! You in there?"

Xander winced at his first choice of nickname for the vampire, he didn't think he'd ever be able to use that one in good conscience again. He heard a shuffling noise behind the door just before it swung open. Spike stood there in his jeans - unbuttoned, a towel over his shoulders, barefoot, with his hair still damp and tousled.

"Yeah? What's up?"

Spike motioned for Xander to come in and once he was in the room he closed the door and headed for the bathroom. He left the door open while he combed his hair back and applied gel to it. Xander was strangely fascinated to see Spike stand in front of the mirror while he groomed himself, as if it were of any use to him. He always thought it would be strange, trying to get your hair done, or shave or whatever without being able to see yourself.

"Hey Spike? Random vampire question - do you have to shave?"

Spike chuckled at him. He rubbed his smooth face as if in thought before answering.

"Not often. I never had much in the way of facial hair before I was turned, and of course afterward our hair grows so slowly it's not much of an issue for me. Angelus though, he grew a goatee and a moustache at one point. Darla hated it, plus it took him well over a year to get the thing to come in all the way. Funny as hell though whiles it was growing. Never seen anything so stupid."

Xander tried to picture Angel with a moustache and goatee. He couldn't help but snicker at the image. Spike knew what he was laughing about and raised an eyebrow at him.

"You should ask him to see the sketches. He had to know how it looked so he paid a local artist to draw him in various poses. ‘Course he ate the poor bugger afterwards, but the pictures were a riot. Bloody poof thought he looked good though."

Xander couldn't see himself asking Angel anything about Angelus. Hell he had spoken to the vampire more in the last two days than he had the entire time they lived in Sunnydale.

"So, besides random vampire questions, what brings you to my room?"

Spike pulled on a shirt and sat on the bed to put his socks on. Xander fidgeted with the gym bag on his lap and stood up. He began to pace as he tried to think of a way to broach the subject. He just couldn't find a way of asking that didn't sound like a cheap come-on. I mean 'hey Spike, do you want to be my travel buddy and keep me company on the long lonely trek across dimensions?' sounded like a pick-up line. Besides, Spike might not even want to come, he knew about the place Xander had been before his world. He wouldn't blame him if he just decided to stay here. Of course, the more Xander thought about having a companion on this trip, the more he welcomed the idea. He hated travelling alone, and having someone to share this with, someone who would understand, was an appealing idea.

"When we go to see the me of this world tonight, I was gonna ask him to put a spell on my things for me. You know, so that whenever I shift they'll come with me so I don't have to carry everything around all the time. I just wondered ... do you want to stay here? When I shift out? Or do you want to come too?"

Spike looked stunned. He opened his mouth and then closed it again. He blinked a couple times and then tilted his head slightly to the left.

"You serious? You'd take me with you if you could?"

Xander shrugged and looked at the floor. He was somewhat embarrassed about wanting Spike to come with him.

"Yeah. So? Do you want to? I mean, we can ask him for a spell breaker or something if we end up somewhere you want to stay. You don't have to come home with me if you don't want to. That is, if I ever get home."

"Sure, mate. I got no reason to stay here, and my home world was no fun anyway, can't say I'll miss it. So why not? Could be fun."

Xander smiled and headed for the door. He turned back and looked at the vampire lounging on the bed. Who knew he would one day be travelling across dimensions with William the Bloody. Life was funny sometimes.

"I'm heading downstairs to eat before we go, you coming?"

"Sure, I'm a bit peckish."

The two headed for the hotel kitchen, both happy about the decision they had come to.




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