After Xander had found footprints around the crypt, he had asked Spike if he would like to move in with him. Spike's refusal was immediate and adamant, his face haunted. So Xander let the matter drop for now.
"Well, you can stay tonight then."
They made the slow trip in silence. Dawn got ready to go, telling them "If I don't get home tonight, Buffy will get suspicious." Her voice was colored with contempt, " and then she'll just go snooping. That's the last thing we need."
They both gave her hugs. After shutting the door, Xander turned to see Spike once again huddled in on himself.
"I know it's early for you, but I need to get to bed." Xander stopped mid-sentence as Spike's eyes widened in fear and he began to back away.
"Spike, what's wrong?" he asked as he backed away, hands low at his sides watching Spike as he trembled.
"It's all right," he said. "I just wanted to show you your room 'cause I need to get up early, but I didn't know if you wanted to stay up and watch some T.V, ya know with you being a creature of the night and all."
And score one for the stupid babbling he thought as he watched Spike visibly relax as he talked.
Spike nodded his head. "Yeah Whelp, a bed sounds right nice, been a long night, ya know." He heaved a sigh and ran a weary hand through his hair, grimacing as it tugged.
Xander stood watching this for a moment, a soft flutter forming in his belly. "Here, why don't you have the shower first while I set your bedroom up for you, wasn't really expecting company." he said with a leery smile wondering if that would set Spike off again. But the other man just nodded had headed in the direction Xander had pointed out earlier to Dawn.
Xander went into the guest room and pulling out his spare sheets, set
about making the bed in folds of soft scarlet cotton. placing a large electric blanked in the middle of the sheets. Turning it on high, he left the room with one final glance around.
He pulled out a bag of blood and a mug, popping it in the microwave and left a note on the table where Spike could find it. At the ding, he grabbed the mug wrapping a towel around it to help hold the heat and placed it with the note.
Heading to bed, he paused at the bathroom door intending to holler goodnight when the muffed weeping reached his ears. Dropping his hand and leaning against the door he sighed, debating what to do. A moment later he decided to just go on to bed.
Before his alarm could go off, a scream ripped through the dark house. Xander bolted out of bed and raced down the hall where he saw Spike sprawled on the floor screaming, back arched. The jewels on his arm band glowing crimson, but before he could cross the room the glowing flared, tearing another howl from the withering vampire, then winking out.
Xander flinched as the Hyena slammed to the forefront of his mind.
Clan, Help, Stronger, the yipping growl rumbled.
Then gripped his head as the Soldier ghosted through.She's right let her out then let the vamp drink you, she will make your blood stronger.
Shaking his head, he took a halting step towards the form on the floor.
All right, but you go back after understand?! Xander thought to the hyena and got a yip in answer.
Xander drifted to the back of his mind and felt the warm brush of fur and heat as the hyena lept past.
Spike tried lifting his head with a groan. Then deciding it just bloody well hurt too much to keep it there, let it fall back. Curling his aching body in a ball and cradling his arm to his chest, Spike let a soft whine escape his throat, his sodding arm felt like someone had replaced the bone with a hot poker.
He jumped in surprise when an answering whine came from beside him. He jolted again when he saw the whelp next to him in the bed. Then the cerulean gaze narrowed, he noticed something was off with the boy when he saw gleaming chartreuse looked back at him. Brown head tilted to the side as the soft whine came again, as if in question. Tanned hands reached for him, pulling him up against a bare chest.
Spike couldn't figure out what was going on as his head was tucked under Xander's chin.They were now laying back to chest leaned up against the headboard. Solid arms draped around his shoulders and powerful legs braced his own. He was surrounded and it felt........safe. One tanned wrist moved up to nudge at his lips, a deep rumbling growl rolled out from under him as the man behind him began an odd purr. It almost reminded Spike of his Sire's purr.
Soft puffing breaths brushed against the back of his head as he was nuzzled closer to the offered wrist, Spike sighed "I can't bite you, you berk. Chipped, remember?"
That provoked a snarl as the arm was yanked away. Spike flinched involuntarily even as he hated himself for the act, waiting to get hit. Much to his surprise, all that fallowed was a sharp yelp and the sent of blood. Then it was back torn and dripping. Spike felt the hunger rip through his belly even though he had just fed the night before. When the wet flesh touched his mouth once more, Spike latched on drinking greedily.
The blood hit his gut with the punch of aged brandy and tasted like heat, sunshine and dust......and power .....a lot of power, more than the man alone should have had.
Xander's other arm slowly stroked up and down the silky flesh under his hand as he gradually came back to himself and the hyena retreated.
Leaning down, he whisper into Spike's ear " Shhhh.... That's enough ....That's right, ease up."
Spike let go of his wrist with one final lick closing the ragged bite, settling back against the boy and pressing his ear next to the steady heart with drowsy contentment. Xander eased them back down onto the mattress, pulling the blanket up over them. He glanced at the spare alarm he had in here for guests and set it to wake them up in time for the Scooby meeting tonight. He laid back down. Pulling Spike close, he purred in contentment, feeling the Solder brush his mind and the ruff fur of the hyena drift over like a ghost.
Later that day after they had showered, eaten and the sun went down, Spike and Xander found themselves at the Magic Box. They had picked up pizza and soda on their way over, everyone was busy munching while Giles passed out patrol assignments.
"OK, I want Dawn and Xander to take the East end. Tara and Willow, you take the South. Buffy, you and Spike take the West and North sections of town."
Dawn started to protest the pairing, but paused at the slight growl from Xander. He gave a small shake of his head. Grabbing weapons, they headed out turning in different directions. When they had turned the corner, Xander doubled back.
"What are you doing?" Dawn asked. Xander looked over his shoulder, not stopping
"Spike's with Buffy. Where do you think she's taking her pet?"
"Oh, I know where she's taking him and what they are going to be doing, but what can I do besides have blood and bandages ready to patch him up with after?" Dawn snapped.
Xander whipped around with a snarl. "Maybe not, But. I. Can!"
A deep rumble began and as she watched, his hair bristled and his muscles swelled. Throwing his head back, a shriek was ripped from his throat, echoing across the night. It was answerd by a chorus of howls and even the scream of a wildcat miles out. A shudder swept down Dawn's back as Xander's body settled as if on springs coiled and ready.
They set out at a fast lope, eating up the distance to the cemetery where they had found the solders before. As they neared the clearing, Xander dropped into a hunting crouch while Dawn shadowed him, gripping the hilts of her daggers. The man's head cocked to the side, whipping around as soft sounds filtered through the breeze. Following the sounds, the pair came up to a family mausoleum, its' door slightly open and a faint flickering light flowing out. Xander crept up, leaning around to look inside.
There were two men and Spike. One of the bastards was over in the corner guzzling what looked like JD and the other was busy with Spike. Xander had to bite down on a growl when he saw Spike. They had him chained over the smallest sarcophagus. It looked to be a young child's. It was only long enough to brace Spike's shoulders to his ass. There were iron cuffs on his wrists, ankles, knees and elbows, bright new chains connected each arm to a leg. wrists pulled back to meet ankle and knees brought up to elbows.
That left him straddling the marble open to whatever their sadistic minds could come up with. There was a heavy cloth around Spike's head, wrapping his eyes, ears and nose, but leaving the top of his head free along with his mouth and chin. There was a heavy D ring though the back. Attached to this was a small clip which led to a thin leather cord that ran taunt down his spine and over his hips to twine around his balls so any forward movement yanked painfully, while keeping his head up high.
Xander turned back to Dawn. "Your objective is to get the vamp. In and out. No talking, No fighting." When he saw her open her mouth to argue, he bared his teeth at her.
"NO. Fucking Arguments or I will knock your ass out and go in without you!"
Dawn snapped her mouth shut and gave a hard nod. Turning back, Xander pulled out a gun with one hand and a throwing dagger with the other. Stepping into the doorway, he let out a vicious snarl, causing the two men inside to freeze, one in the act of lifting his bottle and the second in the act of raping Spike's mouth.
Xander fired of his pistol and threw the dagger at the same time, hitting one between the eyes and the other in the throat. As he went over to check that they were dead, Dawn ran over to the poor vamp, cutting the cord on his back first, allowing his head to sag, panting through his mouth.
After checking the chains, she found the only thing she could remove was the damn mask. Dawn quickly cut through the laces at the back. Spike blinked, gasping at the sudden brightness. She gently ran her hand over his hair, leaning his head on her shoulder.
Glancing over found Xander dragging the guy he stabbed, still alive, over to the other sarcophagus. Dropping him there, he moved over to where they were. Sliding to his knees, he unlocked the iron and chains with the key he had found in the dead guy's pockets. When he was completely free, Xander and Dawn helped him to his feet. Xander nodded to the door, looking at Dawn. She nodded back and they slowly hobbled out.
Xander found them a few feet away in the grass. Settling next to the abused vamp, he nudged him with a whine. When tormented cerulean eyes raised to meet his, he raised his blood stained hands. What he held up made Dawn gag and turn away. Nestled in each palm was a heart glistening in the moonlight, wispy steam still rising.
"Should any dare do you harm, their hearts you shall hold in you fist." The vow was made quietly, but lost none of its power.
As Spike lifted shaky hands to take the offering, his stunned gaze never left the brilliant steady eyes of the man watching him. Suddenly, Spike's demon rose and with a howl he sank his fangs in the warm organ in there combined hands. At this, Xander let loose a loud whooping cry, almost like a laugh, as Spike drank each till it was nothing more than a husk.
Dawn had backed away during this but as several emotions flickered across her face, resolve finally locked in place. Clenching her hands into fists, she lifted her face to the moon and screamed long and loud, causing the night to still around them. Whipping their heads around, Spike and Xander stared at her, one golden eyed and bloody, the others brown eyes back lit in emerald and bristling still.
When they sat there gaping at her, she shrugged. "What? I thought I would join in the celebration, too."
Looking at each other, Spike began to grin and Xander broke out in inhuman giggles
"We'll make a demon outta you yet, Pet."
Later that night, Xander had finally convinced Spike to stay at his house for a few days, if not to move in with him. So when morning came it found them both at Xander's.
With a groan, Xander reached over to smack at his alarm to shut the damn thing up but missed, sliding it a bit to the side. As it continued to buzz, a growl came from the pillow he had his face buried in and the second time he swung at it, it died a quick death as the knife Xander had just stabbed it with swayed gently from side to side.
There was a very small creak from the loose floorboard by his door that had him flipping over and a dull black Glock pointed at the very startled face of the young woman that had just crept in. Dawn jumped back with a shriek.
"Jesus Cripes, Dawn!" Xander said as he popped the safety back on the gun and flopped back down. Dawn's scream had caused Spike to come flying out of his room, hair wild and curling in just a pair of faded jeans .
"What! What is it?"
With a groan Xander sat back up looking hard at Dawn. "Dawnie almost got herself shot. That's what it is."
Dawn glared back to him. "Well, how the hell was I supposed to know you even slept armed?"
"Oh I don't know? You could try knocking, I know it's a bit old fashioned but they say the trend is back." Xander shot back at her. Spike stood there looking from one to the other, his face still bruised pretty badly but the other marks had almost healed from all the blood the pair had forced in him when they got in last night.
"Sodding hell, it's too fuckin early for this." he said, causing the almost sibling like bickering to grind to an abrupt halt. They looked over at him guiltily. Dawn sighed.
"Yeah, me too. You go on back to bed. We'll try and keep it quiet out here." Xander said as he tossed back the covers and climbed out to bed. Twin gasped caused him to grin as he walked over to his closet, slipping on his robe over his bare skin.
"Serves you right." he laughed as the door slammed shut.
It was a couple of hours before sunset when Spike emerged from his room for the second time. Walking through the hall to the kitchen, he found Xander hunched over stacks of papers and talking on the phone. Quietly, he went over to the fridge and poured himself a mug of blood. Xander hung up the phone the same time the microwave went off. Turning, Spike sipped his blood, wincing a little as the rim touched his sore mouth.
"Where's the Bit?"
Xander looked up. "Hmmm? Oh! She'll be back in a few, had to run to the shop for some things." Just as he opened his mouth to say something else, the front door swung open and Dawn stepped in.
"Xander! Someones out here for you!"
Sliding back his chair with a frown, Xander crossed to the doorway. On the other side stood a petite young woman with flowing golden hair and wide hazel eyes. Her long skirts drifted softly around her sandled feet. A long burgundy suede cape, with its hood already folded back, lay over her shoulders flowing to the ground. Tiny hands gripped one another under the flowing sleeves of the turquoise peasant top.
"Hullo Alexander." Her voice matched the rest of her, soft and delicate. "May I come in?"
Xander looked at her with hard eyes and mouth set. "Not if you have to ask." She took a small step in to the house shutting the door gently behind her. Turning back to the occupants of the room, she once again gripped her hands. Xander's face broke into a wide grin as he strode forward. Dropping to one knee in front of the young woman, he took her hands in his, kissing the backs lightly before pressing them to his forehead.
A delighted laugh flouted around the room. "Stand, good sir, and introduce me to your friends."
Xander rose and offered his arm he turned to the other two watching from the kitchen doorway. He motioned for them to follow him in to the living room, settling the lady on one of the wooden rockers and after offering something to drink he began the introductions.
"My Lady, This is Dawn Summers, sister to Buffy Summers, the current Slayer. Also the legendary Key in her own right. And this is William the Bloody, one fourth of the Scourge of Europe and the Slayer of Slayers, also know as Spike and .....my good friend." The last was said with a slight smile. Both Spike and Dawn looked at each other, stunned by this type of introduction.
"This is My Lady Diana, she is a great sorceress."
At this pronouncement, Spike coward back into the kitchen and Dawn jumped in front of him, blades of silver and one of iron edges facing outward. Pouches of salt spilled onto the floor from where she had cut them as she spun, forming duel lines in the carpet.
"Hey! Dawn! What the HELL!" Xander said as he jumped to his feet from one of the chairs.
"I thought you were different!" Dawn sneered at him, never letting him out of her sight. "So when did you join them huh? Or were you in on it all along?" Her voice like chips of ice. Xander's eyes glowed green as he growled
"That will be quite enough," was said gently on a sigh.
Diana turned to Xander "It's my magic, my friend. They don't trust it or me." Xander slowly relaxed and his shoulders drooped. He brought a hand up, rubbing his eyes.
"Nor me, it seems." he sighed, sitting on the edge of the rocker, elbows on knees and his face hidden behind large hands. Diana stood and walked over to him, placing a tiny hand on his shoulder.
"Lady Diana's here to help get the thing off of Spike's arm and to ward the house. I also wanted to see if she track the spells placed on Spike back to the caster." This was muffled by his hands, but the hurt and defeat came through clearly.
Spike had crept back into the room and was standing beside Dawn, who had lowered her blades. They stood at an impasse. With a huge sigh, Xander rose to his feet walking slowly, careful to stay well away from the pair in the doorway. He stopped in front of the hutch in the corner of the room and pulled out a small silk bag. Crossing over to Diana, he handed her the pouch.
"Thanks for coming all the way down here, Di. Maybe I'll come see you and the girls in a few days?" He gave her a sad lopsided smile, kissing her hand again.
Diana passed the pouch back to him. "I'll not have you pay for me coming to see a dear friend. I think I will be going now, my dear." She said, reaching up and kissing his cheek. They made their way back over to the door with Xander keeping himself between Diana and Dawn. With her hand on the door knob, Diana paused
"Would you do me a favor? You wouldn't still have those books I loaned you, by chance?"
It showed his state of mind that Xander didn't realize that she could just as easily teleport them any time she wanted. He just nodded and went to his room. Diana turned to the girl and vampire with her face set in harsh disapproval as she addressed them.
"You have no idea how gravely you have just wronged that man. I came over land and sea at his call so great was the debt I owed him. He could have had anything in the world. His greatest desire, the wealth of kings, the power of gods." Her voice became harder with each word until it was granite. "But no, he asked for none of that. Alexander asked me here to help two ungrateful, blind children!"
"That's enough, Di. Leave them alone." Xander stepped in between them, his back to Dawn. "It's my fault not theirs. I was too stupid and didn't think. I should have warned them." A small whine slipped from him and Dawn stepped up, placing her daggers back in their sheaths.
"No, Xander. She's right. I shouldn't have been so quick to judge and I should have known better. I'm sorry."
Xander scooped her up in a bone crushing hug before she had finished talking. Dawn giggled and gasped, "Air ...need air.." Laughing, he stepped back and looked over to Spike, who was still half hidden in the doorway.
He walked over to him and as he got closer, he saw the fine vibrations running the length of the thin body. Cupping the bruised face in his warm palm, he whispered, "Their hearts, Spike. Friend or foe, their hearts are yours." Spike gave a choked sob and curled into the broad shoulder. Xander started to sway side to side while rumbling that growling purr.
Diana stood quietly with Dawn in the hall before turning to the brunet young woman and asked "Shall we retire to the sitting room until they are done?" Dawn nodded and followed her back into the living room. A short while later, the guys joined them.
"OK, are we all good with this? Just a warding and bad guy tracking. Nothing else." Xander still held the slightly shaking vamp as he said this. Dawn and Spike looked at each other before nodding in agreement. Diana set up the proper herbs and crystals and began pacing the room, chanting.
"Ban! Ban! Barrier That None Can Pass,
Barrier Of The Gods, That None May Break,
Barrier Of Heaven and Earth That None Can Change,
Which No God May Annul,
Nor God Nor Man Can Loose,
A Snare Without Escape, Set for Evil,
A Net Whence None Can Issue Forth, Spread for Evil,
Whether It Be evil Spirit, or evil Fiend,
or Hag-Demon, or Ghoul, or Robber-Sprite,
Or Phantom, or Night-Wraith, or Handmaid of the Phantom,
That Which May Do Harm in Any Form or Fashion
Which Hath Attacked the Shining Waters of Ea,
May the Snare of Ea Catch It;"
At this Dania speckled the walls with shimmering drops of water.Her voice rose higher as she continued,
"Which Hath Assailed the Meal of Nisaba,
May the Net of Nisaba Entrap It;
Which Reverence Not the Great Gods,
May the Great Gods Entrap It,
May the Great Gods Curse It;"
Silver lines of pure power raced over the windowpanes to the sorceress' feet and back again.
"That Which Attacketh the House,
Into a Closed Dwelling May They Cause It To Enter;
That Which Circleth Round About,
Into a Place Without Escape May They Bring It;"
Pale rose twined around the silver, crackling and sparking.
"That Which is Shut In By the House Door,
Into a House Without Exit May They Cause It To Enter;
With Door and Bolt, a Bar Immovable,
May They Withhold It;
All the doors in the house slammed shut and ringed with pulsing sapphire.
That Which Bloweth In at the Threshold and Hinge,
Which Forceth a Way Through Bar and Latch,
Like Water May They Pour It Out,
Like a Goblet May They Dash It to Pieces,
Like a Tile May They Break It;"
Amber and the lightest of green raced to join the slowly growing ropes of power surrounding them. Xander hugged Spike closer as the vamp shivered, Diana's voice grew loud and harsh.
"That Which Passeth Over The Wall,
Its Wing May They Cut Off;
That Which Lieth in a Chamber,
Its Throat May They Cut;
That Which Looketh In at a Side Chamber,
Its Face May They Smite;
That Which Muttereth In a Chamber,
Its Mouth May They Shut;
That Which Roameth Loose In an Upper Chamber,
With a Basin Without Opening May They Cover It;
That Which at Dawn is Darkened,
At Dawn To a Place of Sunrise May They Take It."
Strings of onyx and scarlet smashed into the power cord, causing it and Spike to shudder and tense.
"Out With You! Spirits of Fear, Spirits of Death!
Give Way to the Sun and the Moon!
For This is a Place Made Safe!
Bright Blessings and Peace Upon Us!
And All Who Reside Here,
Let None Enter Here Unbidden,
Keep Harm and Fear Far from This Place,
May God and Goddess Bless Us!
So Mote It So!
So Mote It Be!"
Bright, bright ivory wrapped around the rope. The colors pulsed and twirled while a deep sonic boom shook the foundation, gold light zipping around the house. The magic cracked and sparked as it seeped into the house and ground. Diana stood in the eye of the power storm, shining with simmering gold, But the amazing the was the image that overlapped her like a movie projection.
It was the Goddess Diana in all her glory. As the faint image rippled and settled over Diana, they saw it wasn't an image at all, but a break in a glamor. When everything had settled down, Diana looked over to where Xander had Spike and Dawn gathered behind him as he crouched protectively in front. His hair was raised and teeth bared, growling with eyes glowing brighter than ever before.
Dawn was trying to edge around him to stand at his side, but Xander would only let her so far. She had her blades pulled once again, edges out and together they formed an immovable wall between what they now knew was the Goddess Diana herself and the vampire that was nearly catatonic from being so close to so much magic.
"Shh, Shh, It's OK. I am sorry I frightened you, it was not my intention." Diana held out her hand to the snarling man, watching calmly as he tensed and growled louder. She stepped closer, reaching to touch his face.
"I wouldn't do that...." Dawn trailed off and Xander grew quiet and nudged into the hand that gently stroked the side of his face. Xander shook his head as he came back to himself and forced the hyena away.
"I am alright," he rasped. "No harm, no foul." With that, he turned and gathered up the keening form at his feet and made his way over to the couch. Xander purred and whispered till Spike calmed. Looking up, he nodded at Dawn.
"Would you please grab some beers and the bottle of wine out of the cupboards in the kitchen, please?" Xander suddenly noticed something as they sat there. He had been rubbing the back of Spike's neck when the vamp nuzzled and mouthed the joint of neck and shoulder, sucking softly.
"Go ahead. It's alright," he whispered into the soft curls under his chin. At this ,Spike gave one more whimper and bit gently.
Dawn came back into the room with a tray of glasses and bottles. She passed the bottles to Xander and took a wine glass over to Diana, who had moved over to the window and was looking out. "Thank you, my dear," she said as she turned and took the glass from Dawn.
Dawn kept one for herself as she put the tray on the coffee table and sat in the recliner. "OK so....You're a Goddess." Diana looked at Dawn steadily as she sipped her wine. "Yes"
Dawn nodded and grinned. "Cool."
The other woman looked slightly surprised at the reply. "You believe me?" At Dawn's nod, she asked, "Just like that? No questions? No comments?"
Dawn just shrugged, taking a drink of her own and pointing. "Vampire... Multi possessed man." This caused Xander to snort into his beer. As she continued she counted off by raising a finger for each point. "Slayer, two witches, one werewolf and a watcher. Goddess is not too hard to believe with all the fireworks earlier."
Diana just stared at her for a moment before laughing "I like this one, my friend. She would rest well among the gods."
"But alas, we can not part with the cheeky minx." Xander said dramatically. During this, Spike had closed the tiny wounds, just resting his head on Xanders shoulder for a moment. Xander leaned down, murmuring in soft tones. When Spike nodded, he handed him the other beer it, one of the imported English beers he picked up a few nights ago and kept in the pantry.
Diana had been watching Xander's interaction with Spike ever since she had arrived. "My knight, has your fair Lady finally lost your favor?"
Spike looked at her in confusion before sharing that look with Dawn, who just shrugged and shook her head. Xander tensed then said quietly "Yeah, Buff's not the person I thought she was. But before we get into that, can we finish up here?"
He stroked Spike's arm, drawing attention to the golden band. Diana stepped closer, peering at the band. "Yes, of course, my dear."
Diana brushed her fingers over the metal before hissing at the sparks that shot up. "Whoever did this was messing with things that should never be woken." She ran her hands around it, setting off light showers. As she did, Spike turned his face away, shutting his eyes. Diana stepped back, still looking at it.
"Well, it is sealed proper...Sealed to his life force...." She paused, tilting her head. " Almost .....As if ..." She trailed off. Spike turned back with an almost hopeful expression.
"Come on, Di! As if what?" Xander exclaimed, watching Spike's reactions.
Diana looked around at the people sitting, before returning her gaze to the gleaming gold. "Almost as if it was a valve...a spout. Locked on tight, but a turn to the left and someone could tap right in to his life energy. Draining off ...."
Xander and Dawn exchanged horrified looks but Spike just slumped down on Xanders chest, weak with relief that finally someone had figured it out. Dawn jumped up pacing angrily.
"Fuck! It all makes sense now. I mean, how could I not see it before? It's so right there! Spike was getting weaker and weaker and Willow kept getting stronger and stronger. Everyone thought it was just because of all the spell books she has been reading, but noooo, she's draining the life out of Spike!"
Spike made his way over to her, wrapping lean arms around the girl. He tried to shush her, rocking from side to side. A quiet whisper caught their attention.
"Alexander...be calm, my friend...be calm." Diana knelt in front of the man. Hands braced on his knees, he bowed his head, shaggy brown hair hiding his face and every muscle tense.
"Do not fight them. Let them flow through you like water, like sprites. Allow them their say and let it go. Easy, my friend. Just like we worked on over the summer, remember?" She stroked his hair as she spoke but this time it wasn't helping.
Xander jerked away, lifting his face to the ceiling and let loose a whooping wail. Instead of the rage they expected. it was filled with pain and sorrow.
He turned wet chocolate eyes to the vampire. "Gods, Spike. I am soo sorry. The chip, Spike ...Oh gods, the chip." He dropped his head back down. "B...before I left for the summer, I gave Willow the files on the chip. She was supposed to deactivate it. What that thing does is just wrong. After the solder was released again, because of her memory spell, I could get into the on-line system files and hacked my way through till I found the blueprints and codes for it." Xander let out a deep breath into his hands and Spike took a step forward at the catch in it.
"I couldn't stay the ...hyena and the solder were tearing me apart from the inside. When ....when I came back and you still had it, I just thought it was giving her fits, or I hadn't gotten all of the information she needed. I just..." Spike took the last step and folded the shaking man into his arms, in a reversal of their earlier positions.
"Here now pet, you tried yeah? That's what counts." he soothed. Before he could say any more, Xander exploded up off the couch.
"You don't understand! It did! It was! Instead of deactivating it, she REPROGRAMMED it!" Xander had made his way over to the wall, punching through the wall like cardboard. Diana clapped her hands together sharply. "If you are finished? Why don't we take care of the problem and then worry about who did what to whom afterwards, hm?"
"But you said the bleeding thing was locked on tight?" This came from Spike, who was watching Xander.
"Well it is, but you have the key."
"What! If I had the bleeding key, the damn thing wouldn't still be on me arm!" Spike growled at her.
Diana smiled slightly at him "No, you do not have the key to the band itself. You have the key to ALL things." With this, she turned to Dawn. "If you are willing, I could use your help." Dawn nodded eagerly. "Whatever I can do."
"Come here, then. Put a bit of your blood on the gold then remove the band." Diana said, standing back and clasping her hands. Dawn stared at her in disbelief.
"That's it? It's that simple?" Diana chuckled. "Well, I could get a few props. But, why put on a show when simple is usually best?" Dawn took a deep breath, nodding. Xander moved back over to the couch to sit by Spike, taking his hand.
Pricking her finger, she spread the blood over the surface, once again setting off a light show of sparkles. Gripping the metal, she pulled hard and it slipped off with a hiss. Dawn handed it to Diana, who placed the vile thing in a leather bag, slipping it into her pocket. Looking at the raw place on pale skin, Xander whispered "I'm sorry."
At the soft words, Spike broke. It was just too much after all the stress of that night and the relief of having that damn band off. Xander gathered him close, Dawn pressed up against his back and Spike was surrounded, held close.
Sometime later Diana brought out a tea set with two pots. She poured cups for Xander and Dawn, handing them over as the knot of limbs untangled. From of the other pot, she poured Spike's drink, ruby liquid simmering as she passed it to him. As things calmed down, Dawn looked over at Xander.
"So, are you going to tell us how you two know each other?"
They sat sipping their drinks, each lost in their own thoughts, until Xander abruptly stood, walking over to the window to peer out into the night. At the loss of the human's heat, the exhausted vampire rested his head on his knees with a sigh. Dawn sat down next to him, wrapping a comforting arm around the bowed shoulders.
"After Willow did that forget spell and we all got our memories back," Xander swallowed, "it woke up the hyena and solider I was possessed by before. Giles told me he got rid of them, but he just trapped them in my brain. When they were released, they were pissed. The hyena was an 11 thousand year old primal clan head. She was bound and determined to take over." He took a deep breath. "I kept having long blackouts or major pissed off moments. When I found myself out in the woods one night with no freaking idea how I got there, I knew I had to leave."
“Why didn't you go to Giles, Willow, or Buffy?" Dawn asked shifting her hold on the vampire.
Xander took another deep breath before turning back to the room. "I did. That's how I knew to call Diana to help Spike. I was Willow's prototype." Dawn sucked in a quick breath and Spike's head shot up to look at him, but Xander wouldn't meet their eyes, just looked out over their heads. "She had just found out about the spell and thought she could drain the hyena out." As he spoke, his hair began to slowly lift and bristle.
"The first and only time she tried it, she damn near killed me. Without a focus for the spell all she did was drain my life force and all that energy went right into Wills. Willow came over to my house a few days later. She had these big plans for her and Buffy to use me as their power source." Xander's hands creaked as they clenched into fists.
Dawn's horrified gasp cut through the memories, drawing his attention back to the present. She had tightened her grip on Spike, who had started rocking while rubbing the raw mark on his arm.
Xander gave them a tight smile before continuing "Anyway, after I shot down her make-Xander-a-battery plan, Wills gave me the speech on how I was just being selfish and it was my duty to help, and how I would finally have something to contribute. That was the only time I've ever thrown Willow out of my house. That was the first time I found out that the three of us," he glanced at Dawn and Spike, "could work together. But the small taste of freedom drove the Hyena nuts. I -- I had to get away before I hurt someone innocent. I took all of the money I had been saving for a house and bought my cousins motorcycle and took off."
Turning back to the window, he braced a hand on the wooden frame causing it to groan under the pressure, unaware that he was growling under his breath. "I made it to a town called Essex before she broke free. I had rented a motel room that night and was heading down to a diner I had driven past on my way into town."
Diana got up and crossed the room. By now, Xander was growling so hard his words were almost inaudible. Slowly petting his tense back, Diana took up the story. "A group of men had me in a abandoned building. They had found a way to drain me of my powers...They were..." she shuddered at the memory, and Xander's growl kicked up a notch "They were enjoying the fruit of their labors when Alexander walked past."
A snarl ripped through her words. "We snapped and the Hyena took control. Those men were slaughtered, completely destroyed. When Hyena got through with them, she took off. We ended up in the Devil's playground." Xander stopped and the growling faded away. "I don't remember much about that time, but I do remember the feelings; contentment, happiness, anger, and loneliness...but never fear, because we were the baddest thing in the area." Xander flashed a grin at the woman standing next to him. "Until one little female came into our territory and kicked our ass from one ended to the other."
A small chuckle emerged from Diana. "It took me almost two months to find the spell and ingredients that those amateurs used. Once I did, I tracked Alexander to a den he'd holed up in. When I found out he was possessed I helped him join with his other occupants. We trained for weeks before Alexander felt strong enough to rejoin other people." she smiled at Xander who wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
"Wow." Dawns quiet statement broke them apart "So, you're mixed together now right?" Xander nodded.
Diana eyed Spike closely for a few moments, before turning to Xander “Alexander, you should feed your friend again. Then we all should settle in for the night, you have to go to work shortly do you not?"
Xander twisted to look at the clock on the far wall "Damn it, yeah, this day's going to be a doozy."
He looked over at Dawn “Are you staying tonight?"
Dawn was already shaking her head “Nah, the Bitch Queen's going to throw a fit as it is."
A quick glance told Xander that the slumped vampire was asleep. After walking Dawn to the door, he gave her a warm hug. Xander then turned to Diana. "Would you like to stay here?"
"If you're sure?" She said with a smile. "I would be delighted, thank you."
Xander showed her to his room. "You can take my room."
"I couldn't possibly take your bed from you."
Xander shook his head at her. "I'll sleep in the spare room with Spike, or out on the couch. It's all right." He gave her another fast hug, and then went down the hall as the bedroom door snicked shut. Xander crouched down in front of the sleeping vampire, just gazing at the chiseled features. He watched as the long lashes fluttered, before slowly lifting to reveal sleepy deep blue.
When Spike realized he was being watched, he lurched back, throwing shaking hands up to protect his head and face, and curling into a defensive ball.
"Hey, easy. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you." Xander's hands hovered over the huddled frame, and then he gently stroked his hand down the curved back. Xander moved closer and started a deep rumble in his chest to settle Spike.
Cautiously Spike began to uncurl peeking over his arms. Carefully he leaned in to the comforting presence of the man next to him. He buried his pale face into the tan neck, Xander slide his arms around Spike's shoulders. Lifting the vamp was a lot easier than he thought it would be almost tipping them over when he stood. Moving down the hall, he went into the spare room, and settled them both down on the bed, the dark of the room creating a comforting den.
“I hate this." The soft whisper came from under his chin where the blond head was tucked. “They took everything from me. I’m a Master Vampire. I fought for it. I bled for it." The words ended on a sob. Xander curled tightly, protectively around the smaller body.
“Dust me. Bloody hell, just dust me."
Xander froze, every muscle tensing.
Spike’s voice grew stronger. “I can't do this any more, pet. If it isn't Red, it's the other bitch. Next, come the fucking soldier boys. If I could fight, maybe ... but I’ve nothing left; no power, no bite. No bloody chance, yeah?" A choking laugh tore from the ragged throat. “No pride, no clan."
The last was nearly lost in sobs, but Xander heard. He let the wounded man have his release. As the emotional storm eased, he tightened his grip and after awhile Xander's comforting growl was the only sound in the room.
Spike was almost asleep when he heard the words beneath the rumble. “What was lost, we will find. What was taken, we will take back."
Spike lay stunned. When a strong hand gently lifted his face, the heat of it was searing and he savored the touch. It had been so long since someone had touched him with gentleness.
Blue crashed with green when Spike met Xander’s gaze “You have Clan if you want it. The Solder, Hyena, Diana, and I – we are all Clan, family. You can be part of that if you want it."
Shock was a mild term for what Spike was feeling and his mortally wounded demon took even the smallest offer of family/clan/safety/hope and lunged for it, slamming to the fore. Ridges and fangs pushed forward before Spike had a chance to do more than draw a breath.
His training ran deep; he dropped his head waiting for the punishment, certain he was to be beaten for showing Xander his true face. He doubted the mortal wanted reminding that Spike was really a demon in human skin, as others called him. When the expected blow didn't come, Spike dared to glance up. What he saw was another shock on this night of revaluations.
Xander's hair was stiff, bristles lifted in a ruffled mane. His eyes were a brilliant, bright green, the warm chocolate completely wiped away by the deadly predator that lived behind them. The soft mouth twisted in to a cruel snarl reveling sharp fanged teeth.
“I have never forgotten what or who you are – William the Bloody, Slayer of Slayers, Spike. Your demon knows what it wants. It knows you can trust us. Trust me, Spike." Xander dropped his head to nuzzled the soft, blond hair, purring hard. “I take care of my family, you know that. After all, it took my girls trying to enslave me to push me away, and that was before being united with the Clan-based hyena living in my head." A quiet chuckle came with the words.
Spike swallowed hard before hesitantly reaching out and touching one of Xander’s hands. Tentatively lifting golden eyes, he looked up into Xander’s face. The hyena was still evident, but Xander’s natural kindness had once again softened his visage.
Looking at the tired, bruised face of the vampire Xander’s free hand reached to cradle the back of the blond head, slowly, carefully, drawing him to his throat. "You’re tired, hurt, and hungry. Drink, sleep. We can talk more about this tomorrow."
Spike wearily nodded before gently pressing sharp fangs into the hot flesh. Once again, the taste of power and dry heat filled his mouth, but this time Spike could taste the subtle flavor of clean mint that was the boy himself, and a swirl of cinnamon that must be the solder.
When he had calmed the gnawing hunger, Spike licked the bite one last time. He lay his head back down on the solid chest next to him feeling the fresh blood going to work on the damage in his body.
Feeling safe and at home for the first time in a century Spike drifted off to sleep.
|Feed the Author|