Quantum Xander 2
In Wake of the Curse


by
Jameschick



Part Thirty-One

Willow couldn't believe what she had just heard. Xander had been gone for almost a year. He had had to fight for his life, had seen things that no one should have to see, and had no one to share it with. Well, not at first anyway. She was still a bit confused on the two Spikes issue, but it was her own role in the whole thing that really upset her. She had done this to her best friend.

"I didn't mean to. Oh Goddess, Xander. I would never do that to you; you have to believe me."

"I'd like to, Willow. I really would, but how do you explain it then? I was under a spell. You put it on me. You changed who I was. How do I get past that?"

"It... It wasn't like that. Will you let me explain?"

"Sure. Explain to me how you didn't mean to take away my choices, how denying who I am was suppose to help me."

Willow couldn't stop the tears that ran down her face. She had never seen Xander behave so indifferently toward her. It hurt. A lot. She remembered back to when it had happened and began speaking.

"It was just after Jesse died. I found out what happened, that you had staked him. Oh Xander, I felt so bad for you, having to go through that. I just wanted to help you. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

Xander motioned for her to continue, and Willow ducked her head before speaking again.

"I loved you. I think I always have. I saw the way it was hurting you, tearing you up inside and I only wanted to make the pain go away. So I did a spell. It was supposed to make you forget - purge the feelings of guilt and regret you had over Jesse. It was supposed to make it so that you would never feel guilt over Jesse again. I didn't know that you were in love with him. That changes everything."

Xander just continued to watch his best friend from childhood as she tried to make sense of what had happened. He was beginning to figure it out for himself as well. It didn't make this any less painful, but it did make him feel a bit better about Willow. She had only been thinking about him, not herself, after all.

"I guess, the spell made it so that you would never fall in love with another guy, therefore you wouldn't feel any guilt about being with him and betraying your memory of Jesse. Goddess, Xander. I only wanted to help you. I wanted to take your pain away, and all I've done is cause you more. I'm so sorry; I should never have done it. I was stupid and immature, and I'm a bad witch. I should never use magic again; I only end up hurting people."

Willow began to cry and Xander gathered her in his arms. He couldn't be mad at her anymore - well not a lot anyway. They were just kids then, and Willow had only been trying to help him.

"I understand now. But Wills, you can't make decisions for people like that. It's wrong to take a person's pain away from them. I would have come to terms with Jesse's death on my own. I know you learned your lesson after you and Tara broke up, and I'm proud of you for not doing magics anymore. Well, other than today anyway, but that was an extenuating circumstance. You have to let people live their own lives; just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Look what happened to Buffy? Everything that has happened since she came back was because of us. If we had just accepted her death, her sacrifice, none of this would be happening. She'd be in heaven, Spike wouldn't have gotten a soul just to try and win her love, and The First Evil wouldn't be about to spring loose on the world."

Willow nodded her head and sat up. She knew that Xander was right, that she had messed up big time. She had no way of making the past right, but she could do something to make things better between her and her best friend.

"Whatever happens, Xander, I'm on your side. If Spike makes you happy, then I'm all for it."

"Thanks, Wills. But I'm not entirely sure what's going on there. We... Our bonding was kind of an accident. It wasn't supposed to happen, but now that it did, I kinda like it. I mean, he's not my Spike... except that he is now, I guess, but not the one I fell in love with... except that I did. Damn it. This is hard to explain."

Willow giggled slightly and patted Xander's shoulder.

"I get it."

"Okay. So he's not the first one I loved, but he's here now."

Xander placed his hand over his heart and smiled at Willow.

"And I don't want to change that. But I want the other one back, too. I need him. Does this make sense to you?"

"Yeah. If I lost Tara, and then found another Tara and fell in love with her - which I would, 'cause she'd be Tara, you know? I'd still always want the first one back as well. Just because you love someone new, it doesn't mean you stop loving the first person."

"Exactly."

"So, how do we get your other Spike back?"

"No we, just me. I don't want you involved in this. You and spells are not a good idea, especially one as powerful as this one would have to be."

"I know that. I just meant I could help you look. I am research girl, you know."

"Oh. In that case, thanks. I need to talk to Deadboy first, and the green guy said he might have an idea."

"Okay. Should I go and get Angel?"

"Yeah, guess I should get that over with."

Xander ran his hands back through his hair and sighed. He really didn't want to have this conversation. He knew that Angel was only doing what he always did - sticking his nose in where it didn't belong - but he really wished he didn't have to deal with this right now.

Xander looked up and smiled grimly as Angel entered the office and closed the door behind him.

"Xander."

"Angel."

"You plan on explaining?"

"Which part? Spike, or the Gaelic?"

"Both. Start with Spike, I don't think I'm ready to hear the explanation for the other. Not yet, anyway."

Angel sat behind his desk and took a bottle of Irish whiskey and a couple of glasses from a cabinet behind him. He handed one of the glasses to Xander and poured them each a drink.

"Well, I suppose the first thing I should do is welcome you to the family."

Xander blushed bright red and looked frantically at the door.

"Um, can we maybe skip that part? I mean, you're kinda noisy, and they're all right out there in the lobby..."

Xander trailed off as Angel blanched and set down the bottle. Xander realised with a start that that wasn't the kind of welcome Angel was talking about.

"And you meant you were going to welcome me with a drink, didn't you?"

"I guess I'm ready to hear about the other now."

"Um, alright but I still think it would easier if I explain about Spike first."

"Alright. As long as you explain."

Xander started at the beginning. He told Angel about how he had woken up that first morning, confused and not sure of anything. How he had jumped around to different realities - including one where Acathla was in charge. When Angel asked why he hadn't attempted to stake him, Xander blushed and told him that it was kinda hard to stake someone who you'd been intimate with. Angel refrained from asking questions after that and just let Xander continue with his tale.

Finally, Xander came to the end. He told him about what had been going on since he'd been home - he left out the bit about Spike having a soul; that was his story to tell or not to tell. Then he told him he could make his soul permanent.

"You... How?"

"I got a spell from another me. He and the Angel of his world have been together since high school. He found it, and used it to anchor your double's soul after Angelus was turned loose following their first time. It works. I can do it right now if you want."

"I... You're sure?"

"Uh huh. I wouldn't suggest it otherwise. I'm the last guy who wants to see Angelus unleashed - I'm family now, and I know how he treats family."

Angel nodded his consent and watched as Xander walked to the door.

"I just need my bag. I'll be right back."

Angel closed his eyes and smiled. If this worked, he could finally tell Cordelia that he loved her. He could finally be with her the way he wanted to be, the way he hoped she wanted him to be. Just the thought was almost enough to make his soul disappear.

Xander came back into the office and opened a worn out old gym bag and pulled out two books and set them on the desk. Then he started rummaging around in the bag again. Angel looked at the books and his eyes bugged out at the title on the larger book.

"My God. Xander, do you know what this is?"

"That? Yeah, it's a spell book. I got it from some Chinese-looking demon lady."

"Ming Chi?"

"I don't know. She owns a bookstore on Wilkins Street."

"Xander, this book... Have you used it?"

"Yeah."

"You... You can read it?"

"Yeah. But only sometimes. I guess I'm not ready yet."

"Holy shit. This book only reveals itself to true magic users. You have to be of both dark and light - balanced, or it remains blank. Even I can't see the words and I'm a demon with a soul. How much more balance is there than that?"

Xander just shrugged and put the spell book back into his bag. He didn't need it anyway; he was trying to get it out of the way so he could find the ceramic bowl and the lighter he had stuffed in there before leaving that morning.

"Aha! There it is."

Xander pulled out the little black Bic lighter and set it on the desk next to the saran-wrapped ceramic bowl full of herbs and other less pleasant ingredients.

"You ready?"

"Yes. What do I have to do?"

"I'm going to light this..."

Xander pointed to the bowl.

"...And then I'm going to start the spell. When I point to you, I want you to let three drops of your blood fall into the flames. No more, no less. Got that?"

"Sure. Um, what happens if I screw up?"

"Don't screw up."

Angel swallowed and then took a deep, relaxing breath.

"Okay. Let's do this."





Part Thirty-Two

The spell had been cast and Xander was cleaning up his supplies when he felt Angel come up behind him. He tensed as he realised the position this put them in. He was slightly bent over his duffel bag and Angel was standing close - too close - behind him. Xander stood quickly, but before he could move, Angel had his arms around him and was holding him in place. He could feel his lips brush against his ear before the vampire spoke.

"Now, about that welcome to the family."

Xander swallowed hard. He wasn't unaffected by Angel's presence. He remembered all too well the feel of those large hands as they touched him. That clever mouth as it rained kisses and nips all over his body. He remembered the way he screamed as Angel filled him. It couldn't happen again though, not without Spike - without either of them.

"Angel. We can't."

"Why not? You said my soul was permanent. You want me, I can smell it. It is my right as head of the clan. So why exactly can't we do this?"

"Because Spike isn't here. It would be wrong. And also, there is the matter of everyone else in the hotel being just outside the door."

Angel cocked his head and frowned as he pondered that little problem. It wouldn't do for the others to hear them in here, not if he was going to have any hope of a relationship with Cordy; she just didn't understand vampiric ritual. To not claim right of sire would be an insult toward his childe and his mate. It would be like saying Xander wasn't good enough to be a part of them. After what Xander had done for him, he couldn't do that. Not to mention the fact that the boy was very attractive.

"Hmm, you do have a point about that. But how else do you suppose we test the spell?"

"Test? Why do you need to test?"

"Well, you wouldn't want to take any chances now, would you?"

Xander seemed to think about that for a minute. He certainly didn't want Angelus back, and if he was wrong, and the spell didn't work... Well that was as far as he got in his thinking before Angel was whispering in his ear again.

"Do you have any idea how good you smell? You're covered in him; I can smell my William in your veins. Combined with the scent of you... well, I can't be blamed for wanting to welcome you properly now, can I?"

"B.. but you hate me."

"No, I never hated you, Xander. I hated that you could give Buffy what I never could. But then I got over that. Got over Buffy. Things are different, and besides, you're family now."

"We still can't. The noise..."

"Silence spell. I'm sure a warlock of your natural talents could do something to soundproof the room. Right?"

During the entire conversation, Angel's hands were trailing lightly across Xander's chest, dipping underneath his shirt, playing with his nipples. Xander groaned and leaned back against Angel fully. He was so going to hell for this.

"Yeah. I can."

Xander only had to think about what he wanted and a hush fell over the room. He knew the vampire had felt the magic in the air when he was swiftly turned in Angel's arms and kissed possessively. Xander fell into the kiss and just let it happen. It was Angel's right, after all, since he had mated to this reality's Spike. Except...

"You can't fuck me."

Angel pulled back slightly and quirked his eyebrow at Xander.

"And why is that?"

"Because Spike hasn't yet. We've only messed around a bit."

"But he bit you - mated with you."

"Yeah, funny thing, that. It was sort of an accident."

Angel's lip twitched and then it twitched again. Then he smiled. As Xander watched, Angel began to laugh. He laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. Xander crossed his arms over his chest and frowned at him.

"What? Why are you laughing?"

"Only you, Harris. Only you could end up mated to Spike by accident. My William never was much of a planner; seems like you aren't either."

"Hey! Well, alright, you're not wrong there."

"Welcome to the family, Xander. You're going to fit in just fine."

Xander laughed and shook his head.

"So, we're not gonna..."

"No. Not if Spike hasn't taken you yet. Trust me on this, he wouldn't be happy about it."

"Yeah. But what about testing the spell?"

Angel thought about it for a minute and then smiled.

"I'll just have to wait until that idiot childe of mine claims you properly. Then we can see about testing the spell. All three of us."

Xander swallowed and licked his suddenly dry lips. He knew exactly how that would go and was actually looking forward to it. He was a sick man. A sick, sick man.

"Right. I should... Oh hell! Cordelia! I completely forgot about Cordelia. When was anyone gonna tell me she was pregnant?"

"What? Cordy's not pregnant. She was injured; I... Angelus... she's not pregnant."

"Oh, you didn't know. Well, fuck."

Xander lifted the silencing spell from the room and opened the door. Angel followed him out of the office, still trying to figure out why Xander thought Cordelia was pregnant. He got his answer as a very pregnant-looking Cordelia came down the stairs.

A hush fell over the collected group of people in the lobby. Xander watched curiously as his former girlfriend made her way down the stairs. She smiled at the group and rubbed her swollen abdomen. Xander narrowed his eyes and stepped back from her.

"That is not Cordelia."

All eyes turned toward Xander and he shrugged his shoulders.

"Well it isn't. I mean, yeah that's Cordy's body and Cordy is in there, but she's not the one in control."

Connor stepped in front of Cordelia and glared at Xander. He didn't know who this man was but he wasn't going to allow him to talk like that about the mother of his child. Cordelia had warned him that the others wouldn't understand.

"Oh, Xander. Of course I am. Just because I'm not the same shallow girl you dated back in high school doesn't mean I'm not me."

"No, but the fact that I can see your true face lurking beneath the surface of Cordelia's does. And can I just say, eeewww? I mean, maggots are just so last year's evil, ya know?"

The lobby erupted into chaos. Cordelia - or the thing that was Cordelia - began glowing and Xander shouted for everyone to take cover. Willow and Xander looked at each other and nodded their heads. They would work together to fix this.





Part Thirty-Three

We're on our way home. I gotta say I'm glad Wills didn't do that to me on purpose. I missed my best friend, and finding out that she only wanted to help me get over having to stake Jesse - it's a load off my mind. It was still wrong, but she realises that now, so it's done. No more feeling bitter and hateful towards Willow.

Angel's soul is secure; we didn't test it, but I know it is. Still, he plans on coming down to remedy that after Spike and I finish our bonding. I don't know when that'll happen, but it will likely be soon. I have mixed feelings about that. I want him, no doubt there, but I still can't help but feel I'm betraying my Spike by doing this. Plus, there is the fact that Spike even admitted he's never bottomed for a human before. He made it sound like it was something he wasn't interested in changing either. I don't really have a problem with that, I enjoy it either way, but if this is going to be a long term thing between us - and from what I understand about mates, it is - then it needs to be on equal footing. Something we'll have to talk about sooner or later.

Then there is Angel. Christ, when he first twigged to what was happening - and I will so be having words with Spike when I get back, I mean he could have warned me - he was furious. I had to resort to whispering things in Gaelic to him just to get him to let me go! It's a good thing he's a predictable vampire - Spike says he always gasps out the same phrases during sex. It was enough to get him off of me and give me time to explain a few things.

So much has happened. I don't even know where to start. Cordelia was possessed by a ... not real sure what she was, but damn, was she ugly. Willow helped me to cast her out of Cordy, and with no host body she just sort of... fizzled out. It was kinda gross. Oh, and Cordelia's not preggers anymore now, either. Turns out the thing was trying to give birth to herself. Yuck!

The green guy - Lorne - gave me some good news. He knew of a spell that will bring my Spike back. It calls for some really out-there ingredients, though. Not the least of which, being blood of the sire, the subject and the sorcerer. So, Angel, Spike, and I assume the sorcerer is me. That I can do. I have Angel's blood - he was really good about giving it to me after what Willow and I did for Cordelia; I'm pretty sure that Spike will give me his blood, and I already have my own. It's the other stuff that's gonna be difficult. I mean, the powdered Racashka's horn alone is going to take time to track down. I don't care, though. I have a way to bring him back now. Finally, he'll be here with me the way he should have been all along.

The only thing that worries me is how is this going to work? I love my mate and I missed him so much, but now I have this other Spike and he's my mate now, too. I don't want to hurt him. I love him, as well. How is this possibly going to work? I know that my Spike said it'd be fine, that everything would work out in the end, and I believe him, but it's the beginning and the middle that has me concerned. Spike is very possessive; both of them are. And with this Spike having a soul, he's so damaged right now that I'm afraid anything that my Spike says or does to him could hurt him. It's no secret what my mate thinks about having a soul, and then there is the whole "falling for a slayer" thing.

I should just go and buy myself a black and white striped shirt. I'm going to be playing referee quite a bit, I can tell. I mean the idea of being in the middle of them sounds good in theory, but not when it's going to be to keep them from killing each other.

Then there's the ring. It belongs to Spike. I gave it to him and I wouldn't even think of taking it back, but what about this Spike? I mean, doesn't he deserve to walk in the sunlight too? How are Spike and I ever going to enjoy a day out in the sun knowing that he's back at the apartment -or worse, at Buffy's - trapped inside?

I kinda wish this had never happened. Not because I don't love this Spike; I do. It's just that suddenly my life is way more complicated than I ever thought it would be. I mean, the gay thing took me by surprise, the Spike thing was even more of a shock, but two Spikes? One souled and one chipped? How am I supposed to deal with this?

Thank God Willow is a better driver than Buffy. I need this time to sort things out and I would never let Buffy drive my car on the freeway. We're probably an hour away from Sunnydale now. Faith is coming back with us since there is no big evil in L.A. that needs her attention right now. And hey? First Evil? I'm thinking there's no such thing as too many slayers!

So, all I need now is for Cordelia to come on down, and then I can sit around with all my past lovers in front of my current one. Gee, uncomfortable much? But Angel says Faith has changed, and from what I've seen, I believe him. I just hope Buffy can accept her; we need the extra muscle and I'm a firm believer in second chances. If Angel and Spike deserve another chance, why not Faith?

I keep coming back to Willow. God, if I had just told her everything in the beginning, I could have saved myself so much grief. How is it that the demons in my life know more about human relationships than I do? I mean both Anya and Spike told me that I should talk to my friends, tell them everything and get it sorted. But not me; no, Xander has to hold onto a grudge and let it fester. I can be such an ass at times. I hurt Willow. I didn't trust her, and I let my suspicions harden my heart against her. Thank God she loves me.

She's pretty forgiving, my Willow. She told me she didn't blame me, that if it had been her, she might have reacted the same way. After seeing her go all "Evil Willow" in that one reality, I really hope that that is a side of her I never see in this Willow.

Faith is being pretty cool about the whole thing. Even the "Spike as my mate" part. I think she has her ideas about Angel and me, as well. She gave us this weird little grin when we came out of the office and later she made some cryptic remark about Sunnydaler's getting all the hot vamps. If she only knew!

Wills and she are chatting away in the front seat. Discussing the First, Angelus, Cordy's possession and pregnancy. Faith told her about the dream-sharing with Angelus, and I gotta say I laughed at the puppy rescue. Only Angelus would consider that a nightmare. Although, I have to admit, the Angelus I met - the one that tortured Riley - was nothing like the crazy fucker we all knew and hated when he was loose in Sunnydale. He was different, more in control. Spike said he used to be like that before the curse. Now, he's just crazy. But maybe not as crazy as we think. He did take out the Beast after all, ended the no-sunlight issue. It's a moot point now though, what with Angel's soul being permanent.

That's the other thing. Before the spell, Angel was all "I don't want to know about you and me" and after? He was all hands and lips and "Welcome to the family". I mean, what's up with that? Maybe he's channelling his inner demon? I should have had Tara or Willow look over the spell for me. I think I might have blended a bit of Angelus into Angel's personality; either that or the man was a horn-dog before he was turned. I'll have to ask Spike about that. What Liam was like before he ran into Darla and met death at the end of sharp, pointy teeth.

Then again, maybe bringing Angel up when Spike and I haven't even had the sex yet is a bad idea. He's still sore about Angelus taking Drusilla away from him, and about the fact that Buffy still loves Angel. He might get a bit... Angry? Growly? Possessive? I don't want to be the cause of any more of his pain. Maybe I should tell him what Angel said, about being over Buffy. It might help. Then again, do I want to offer any false hope? Plus, hello? Mated to me now? How the hell would he and Buffy ever make it work when he belongs to someone else?

I don't think I'd be very good about it either. Just the thought of the two of them together now makes my stomach twist. I can feel my anger and jealousy rising to the surface. I have to remind myself that it isn't real, that there is nothing going on between them. That they weren't... together while I was in L.A.

Damn this bond thing is hard!

Xander closed his book with a sigh and watched out the window as the dark scenery blurred past them. He was looking forward to going home, but at the same time, he was dreading seeing the Welcome to Sunnydale sign. He wondered if Willow would let him drive now? He kinda wanted to run the sign down on his way into town, sort of a tribute to his mate. Both of them.





Part Thirty-Four

Xander didn't end up driving over the sign; he didn't end up driving at all. Willow drove them all to Buffy's place where they sat inside the car for the better part of twenty minutes trying to work up the nerve to go inside.

Willow was still in shock after hearing everything that Xander had been through, not to mention seeing exactly how powerful he was now. What he did to Cordelia - even though she had helped - was beyond anything she had ever seen.

Faith was scared. She wasn't too stubborn to admit that anymore. She wasn't afraid of dying; it was what slayers did. She was afraid of how she would be accepted. Or not. She had done some horrible things to these people, facing them wasn't going to be pleasant.

Xander was afraid to see Spike. They had agreed to take things slow, but what happened before he had left was not taking things slow. It was fast, very fast. They went from comfort to naked in under sixty seconds. He was afraid that he would jump the blonde as soon as he saw him. For all his protestations, he wanted him. It didn't help that he was still aroused from what Angel had done to him back in L.A. - not to mention his promise of what they would do once Spike had claimed him properly.

Finally, Faith broke the silence as she muttered 'fuck it' and opened her door. Xander gave Willow a small smile and followed suit. The three of them mounted the steps together and then stood outside the front door. No one wanted to be the first inside.

"Hey, Faith? Look. For whatever it's worth, I forgive you. No hard feelings."

"Thanks, Xan. It's worth something, believe me."

"I do. You ready?"

"No. But I'll deal."

"Come on then. Let's get this over with."

Xander opened the door and stepped inside. It was not a happy scene. The potentials were all glowery and depressed and there was a strange kid standing in the corner wearing oven mitts. Xander looked around for Buffy but didn't see her.

"Hey, where's Buffy?"

Everyone turned to look at Xander, but it was the new kid that answered.

"She went out. Well, after yelling at everyone and pissing Spike off."

"Thanks. And you would be?"

The guy looked at Xander strangely.

"I'm Andrew. Remember?"

"Um, yeah. You look familiar."

Xander and Andrew continued to give each other strange looks. Willow put her hand on Xander's shoulder and frowned at him.

"Xander? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Well, you don't seem to remember Andrew. He's been here since just after Spike came back. He's been helping, trying to make amends for the whole stalking Buffy thing he got dragged into by Warren. You don't remember any of this?"

"No. I remember Warren killed his girlfriend and tried to pin it on Buffy. I remember he got arrested and Andrew and Jonathan got arrested as well, for helping him."

As Xander looked around the room, he noticed that everyone was looking at him like he was crazy. There was something definitely off about this whole thing.

"I... I'm gonna go. Home. I have things... Sleep. I must be overtired. Yeah that's it. I just need a good night's sleep."

Xander shook his head and left the house. He got into his car and drove towards his apartment. He didn't know what the hell was going on but it felt familiar. Like he was in a different reality again - albeit one very close to his own.

After parking and taking the elevator up to his floor. Xander stood outside his apartment door afraid to go in. He was terrified that he would already be in there. That he had somehow ended up back on his nightmare trip through dimensions. Knowing that he wouldn't get any answers standing outside in the hallway, he unlocked the door and stepped inside.

It looked like home. It smelled like home. It was quiet and dark; there were no obvious signs of anyone else being there. Xander turned on the hall light and went towards his bedroom. He looked in his closet and let out a breath of relief. Spike's duster and Docs were there. He opened the bedside table and saw his mate's journal - along with the flogger, the cuffs, and the other trinkets he had picked up in that one reality.

"Thank fucking God."

"Why?"

"Aaack!"

Xander turned around to find Anya smiling at him.

"Damn it An, are you trying to scare me to death?"

"No. I came to answer your questions. Scaring you is just an added bonus."

"Questions?"

"Yeah, you know, why is Andrew at Buffy's house? Why does everyone seem to think he belongs there? Why don't I remember any of this?"

"Oh. Those questions."

"Yeah. So where should I start?"

Xander sat on the bed and Anya sat down next to him. She put an arm around his shoulders and squeezed.

"You're not in a different reality, Xander. This one has just been... altered."

"By who? Why? How?"

"Hallie. It was a wish. Andrew."

Xander was furious. He went away for a day and everything changed. He hated that damn Halfrek; she had put him through hell. Now this?

"What did Andrew wish for?"

"He wished for a different life. One where he was included, where he made a difference. He wanted to help Buffy."

"So now he's there? What the hell does he do in a house full of girls?"

"Cook, mostly."

"And this is what he wanted?"

"Yeah, he's rather simple that way."

"Okay. What the hell all have I missed since I went to L.A.?"

"A lot. Come on, you can buy me dinner and I'll tell you what's happened."

Xander shook his head fondly at his ex-fiancée and followed her back out to his car. They got inside and he drove toward the Chinese food restaurant she liked. Once they were inside and had ordered, he gave her a pointed look and she sighed.

"Fine. You missed quite a bit. Turns out that Wood guy is the child of a slayer. He had some stuff of his mother's that he gave to Buffy. Included in that stuff was a shadow caster. Before you ask, it's a magical storyteller. This one tells the story of how the first slayer was created. Buffy went into the past to talk to these shadow men and see if they had anything to help with the First."

Anya took a sip of her drink and then shook her head.

"Like a bunch of men would be of any use. They weren't. Buffy disappeared and in her place we got a big ole stinkin' demon - Spike had to track it down and kill it. The only way to get Buffy back was to send the demon back through the portal. Of course this was after Buffy told Spike how useless he was now. After she lectured everyone on how they weren't pulling their own weight. She even accused me of not doing anything to help! I mean, hello? I am a demon."

Xander smiled at Anya.

"Yes, you are. And not that I'm not grateful, but why are you helping?"

"Because it's the right thing to do. You were my first friend, Xander. My first lover, my first boyfriend, my first everything. You taught me what it is to be human, and even though I'm not human anymore, I don't want to see you hurt. Any of you."

"Good enough for me. Thanks, An."

They shared a smile and then Xander frowned.

"Buffy told Spike he was useless?"

"It was awful. She told him she wanted the old Spike back. The one who had tried to kill her when he first saw her. He was devastated, Xander. You would have been proud of him, though. He didn't show it. He reminded Buffy that he did all of this, the soul and whatnot, for her and she just told him she didn't want the soul, she wanted the demon."

"Oh God. Poor Spike; where is he?"

"Where do you think, Xander? He's out being the "Big Bad", trying to prove that he's demon enough for her. It won't work. Buffy doesn't know what she wants, and she's making everyone else crazy because of it."

Their dinners arrived and they ate silently for a few minutes.

"An? Did Buffy tells the others about me?"

"No. Not in so many words, but she was pissed about keeping your secret. She thinks you should be doing more on the magic front instead of hiding behind Tara and letting her do all the work. I'm sorry, but I have to agree with her on that point. Tara doesn't have your power. You would be a better choice. It almost killed her and Giles when they had to open the portal to bring Buffy back. You would have been able to do it easily."

"Point. Well, I'm done hiding, anyway. I talked to Willow; we're all good now. I fixed Deadboy's curse and I brought Faith back with us. I think we stand a chance against this thing now."

"Faith? Isn't she the crazy slayer that tried to kill you for foreplay?"

"Yep. One and the same. She's changed though. She's on our side now."

"If you say so."

They didn't talk much after that. Xander was worried about Spike, and it was obvious. Anya finally told him to just go find him and take him home. Xander thanked her, paid the bill and left.





Part Thirty-Five

It was almost sunrise by the time Xander made it home. He hadn't found Spike, and he had run out of places to look. He figured the blonde was probably home by now, that or at Buffy's. He'd check his place first; if Spike wasn't there then he'd call over and see if he had gone to slayer central instead.

The apartment was still dark and quiet. Xander felt his disappointment like a lead weight. He really wanted to see Spike, to tell him that he knew what Buffy had said, and that she was wrong. That Xander didn't think he was useless, that Xander loved him just as he was - soul and all.

Xander sighed and picked up the phone. He dialled Buffy's house and rolled his eyes when Andrew answered. That was another thing he was curious about - why he wasn't affected by Halfrek's magics.

"Andrew, it's Xander. Is Spike there, by any chance?"

"No. He hasn't been back since Buffy yelled at him. Yelled at all of us, actually. I don't blame him; she was harsh."

"Thanks."

Xander hung up on Andrew, feeling a small pang of guilt over it, but too worried about his vampire to give it much thought. He headed for his room, stripped off his clothes and padded naked across the hall to the bathroom.

The shower was a blessed relief. He felt like he hadn't been clean in forever. He smiled as he remembered the look on Angel's face when he smelled him. Xander shook his head and grinned; Spike knew that Angel would smell Spike on him and had sent him off like that anyway. Possessive, thy name is Spike.

Xander stepped out of the shower and dried himself off. He was still scrubbing his hair dry when the bathroom door opened and Spike stepped inside.

"Have a nice trip then?"

"Ahhh! Damn it, Spike, when did you get home?"

"Been here for a couple hours, was sleeping 'til some git turned on the water and woke me."

"Oh. Sorry."

Xander just then remembered he was naked and quickly covered himself with the towel. Spike snorted and rolled his eyes.

"I've already seen it, Xander. No need to play shy with me."

"Oh. Right."

There was something off about Spike. Xander couldn't pinpoint what, but he knew it was there all the same. Spike felt... aloof, indifferent, closed off.

"You were in your room?"

"Where else would I be? It's where I sleep, isn't it? Or do you want me to leave?"

"Er, no. I just thought... I mean, you were sleeping in my... never mind."

"Oh, I see. You thought I'd be waiting for you, didn't you? What did you think, Xander? That you'd come home and I'd be lying in your bed just waiting for you to climb in and roll me over?"

"NO! Damn it Spike. I didn't think that. I thought we were friends."

"Demons don't have friends. I don't need a friend, Xander; I'm not human."

Xander wanted to slap Buffy. This was her fault. Spike was fine when he left that morning. In the span of less than twenty-four hours, everything had gone to hell. All the progress he had made with the vampire had been undone. Well, at least he wasn't crazy-in-the-basement-guy.

"Do you still have your soul, Spike?"

"Does it matter? You love him, and he doesn't have a soul. Buffy wants the demon, you want the demon, why not be the demon?"

"Because you don't have to be? If that's what you want, Spike, I'm okay with that. But you don't have to be anything for me. I love you just the way you are."

Spike cocked his head to the side and studied Xander closely. In a move so fast that Xander didn't even see it, Spike was in front of him - demon face to the fore. He tilted Xander's head to the side and brushed his fangs over his neck.

"Mine."

"Yours."

Spike sank his fangs deeply into his mark and pulled Xander into a crushing embrace. He brought his hand to his own throat and made a cut with his fingernail. He cupped the back of Xander's head and pulled him to the wound. As soon as he felt Xander's lips close over the cut and begin drawing on his blood he removed the towel from Xander's waist.

Xander felt himself harden as Spike's cool fingers closed around him. He moaned into his neck as he continued to suckle at the slow trickle of blood. He fumbled with the drawstring on the vampire's pants and finally got them untied. He pushed them down over slim hips and felt them pool at their feet.

Spike's hand moved with a purpose, expertly bringing Xander closer and closer to orgasm. It didn't take long, and Xander would have been embarrassed if this had happened with a woman, but Spike being a guy, knew exactly how to touch him; how to bring him off quickly. He had barely registered Spike's fangs receding before he found himself on his knees; Spike's cock in his face.

"Suck me, pet."

"Yeeesss."

Xander didn't waste any time. He licked across the head of the pale cock and moaned at the taste of the fluids there. He had missed this taste; it had been too long since he had done this. He swiftly took as much of Spike into his mouth as he could. He brought his hands up to caress Spike's balls and pump his shaft as he continued to suck. He could hear Spike's moans of encouragement and sank down further until he could feel the head of his mate's cock against the back of his throat. He swallowed.

"Fuck! Xander, do that again!"

Xander did. He swallowed again and then pulled back until only the tip of Spike's cock was in his mouth. He played over the slit with his tongue and then slid one finger into his mouth to lubricate it. He sank down on the vampire's cock again and swallowed continuously as he worked the now wet finger between Spike's cheeks and pressed it into his ass. Spike screamed and came. Xander swallowed and then licked him clean before getting to his feet.

Spike blinked at Xander and then shook his head. He pulled his sweats back up and walked away. Xander grabbed his towel and followed after him with a frown. He found Spike in the kitchen heating blood.

"Spike?"

"Yeah, pet?"

"You alright?"

"Fine. Why d'you ask?"

"No reason."

Spike looked at Xander and then shrugged before drinking his blood and rinsing the cup in the sink. He walked past Xander and headed down the hall.

"I'm going back to bed. If you're staying up, try to keep the noise down, eh? Need my beauty sleep and all."

Xander just stood there in shock as Spike went into his bedroom and closed the door.




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