Lex the Ruthless, Childe of Spike
Spike pulled his DeSoto over to the side of the road and scowled. Turning his bleached blonde head to the side, he scrutinized his dark haired, dark eyed Childe and frowned. Lex just looked back at him, a world of sadness and loss in his eyes.
"Are you sure about this pet? I mean, we can all turn around and head off to somewhere else. Europe? Asia? Even South America like Dru's been prattling on about? What do you say?"
Lex seemed as if he were about to say something, but then the youngest of the three vampires bit back his words. Instead, he just shook his head softly and shrugged, sorrow radiating out of his very being.
"I'm sorry Spike. I wish that were possible, but... if events don't happen exactly like they did last time, I might just... vanish some night. Who knows? I can only tell you the things that I remember from my mortal life... and I know that you and Dru went to Sunnydale to search for Angelus to cure Dru's illness. I've told you what will happen... or, what did happen. Just... remember, if you need anything, anything at all, contact me here and I'll get it for you."
Spike smiled at that. He could feel the worry rolling off of his beloved Childe and he tried very hard not to let it show how much that Lex's concern was effecting him. He felt torn in two. Part of him was turning into a bleedin' marshmallow, all sticky gooey sap and mushiness. The other part of him was practically jumping out of his skin from wrecked nerves. Normally, he didn't care if his Dark Princess and his Dark Prince saw how emotional and silly he got over things, but this time his sweet Lex had enough to deal with, Spike didn't want to add any more. So, he forced away his apprehension and forced a cocky grin onto his face.
"Not to worry pet, I'm the Big Bad and all. Slayer won't know what hit her."
Lex just shook his head and grinned wickedly.
"That's true. You're gonna rock her world to it's foundation. Hell, you rock my world harder than it's ever been rocked before."
Spike's grinned turned into a real honest smirk. He loved it when Lex told stories about his time as a mortal. Not only was he a master storyteller with a sharp and sardonic sense of humor, but they were the tales that demons could enjoy immensely. All full of slayers, vampires, spells and life and death struggles.
"Hell Spike, my mortal self had nightmares about you and Dru! And a few 'please don't let me piss myself so I can die with some dignity' type of confrontations."
They shared a quiet chuckle and then Spike watched as all the humor drained out of his Childe's dark eyes and they flashed gold briefly.
"But, this is going to test you harder than anything else ever did, and it's gonna push you to your very limits... and beyond. You'll suffer..."
Spike waved him silent. They had been down this road before, lots of times. Spike had a choice. He could go into Sunnydale and let events come to pass as they had done during Lex's mortal life and he himself would pay a terrible price to ensure his Childe's very existence, or... he could turn away and risk Lex vanishing into nothingness as a different destiny took hold of him.
"Yeah... well. I'll survive. I did last time, right? Well, I can do it again."
Lex grinned at him. It was a shaky grin, but it was there.
Suddenly, the dark haired vampire leaned across the empty space between them and wrapped his arms tightly around Spike, a low sounding whimper catching in his throat. Spike felt his own eyes tear up slightly and his unbeating heart felt like a lump of lead in his chest. This was the first time in almost 60 years that he would be separated from his one and only Childe, and he didn't like it. Unable to resist one last lingering taste, Spike vamped out and sank his fangs deeply into Lex's throat. Thick rich blood welled up in his mouth and he rolled it around his tongue, savoring the unique flavor that was pure Lex.
Finally, he released his Childe and Lex opened the car door and stepped out into the Los Angelus night. With Drusilla and Miss Edith firmly ensconced in the back seat, Spike turned the car around and headed back north. Towards Sunnydale and his destiny.
Willow arranged the spell components on the makeshift alter and tried to explain her reasoning to Tara once more.
"I know it sounds... strange, but I just don't buy that story about it being too painful for Spike to talk about. I mean, he likes to brag, about everything, why not his Childe? I know that Lex was dusted in Prague when Drusilla got hurt, but that doesn't really explain it. Not from a Spike point of view. I mean, the only reason we even found out about Lex was that Xander just happened to find it listed in one of the Watcher's Journals and he asked."
Tara shrugged slightly and gathered together some herbs that she had stored in tupperware containers to help them keep their freshness. Walking over to Willow, she handed them to the red haired witch and offered a small sad smile.
"I... I don't know. I think that he was... genuinely upset when it was mentioned. Well... shocked anyway. He did do that eyes-popping-out-of-his-head thing and demanded to know why Xander wanted to know."
Willow nodded her head decisively.
"Exactly! I mean, if Lex is dust, why would he care if we were curious about him? He loves to tell stories, but he's never once mentioned him. Why? What's he hiding? After all, Dru left him and he still tells stories about her."
The blonde shook her head and shrugged once more.
"I don't know. I have no idea why he didn't want to tell us about Lex."
Willow finished setting up and turned to face her lover.
"Look, I just want to do this spell to find out more about this mysterious Lex vampire. It's just a simple modification of a scrying spell. It'll allow us to look through the veils of time and see into the past. The water in this bowl will act as a viewing screen. We should see events as they happened back then if we do this right. So... will you help me?"
Tara's lips twisted slightly in thought as she considered her lover's plan and request. She leaned forward and read through the spell once and she didn't see anything wrong, but there was this little voice in the back of her head that was trying to warn her about something. Then, Willow pouted at her, her soft full bottom lip sticking out and her big green eyes pleading and Tara firmly pushed that little voice out of her mind and nodded her consent. She would help.
Standing side by side, the two witches each lit a candle and gathered a handful of the herbs. Then, together they began to recite the spell. Slowly and carefully, Tara sprinkled the herbs she held over her candle. They sparked quickly and then turned into shimmering bits of gold glitter that floated around them and the alter. Then, Willow sprinkled her herbs over the other candle and they turned into bits of bright red glitter that floated around them and the alter as well. At that point, they began chanting again, repeating the last verse three times, each time slightly louder and faster than before. Finally, the spell was complete and a fuzzy and hazy image began to form in the bowl of water.
It was at that point that their door burst open and Xander rushed in. His expression was one of grief and frustration as nervous energy and angst rolled off of him in palpable waves.
"Wills I'm so sorry to just interrupt and all, but Anya just dumped me and I really need to talk. What am I going to do? I love her!"
Willow turned to face Xander as he barged across the room. With an abstract sort of horror forming in her chest, she watched as if everything was happening in slow motion so she wouldn't miss a single detail. She could see that tears were pooling in his eyes and he lifted a hand up to wipe them away. With his hand and arm covering his eyes, Xander didn't see Miss Kitty dash from her spot on top of the bookcase to greet her friend. The young feline twined around his legs in her usual fashion, possibly hoping that he would start handing out kitty-treats like he normally did during visits. Xander tripped over the purring ball of fluff and lost his balance, his arms flung out to the side waving wildly.
Instead of catching his fall, his one arm smacked into the makeshift alter, knocking it over. The bowl of water tipped over, splashing Xander from head to toe even as the container of herbs flew through the air, sprinkling him liberally with them. A clap of thunder and lightening flashed across the clear evening sky and a whirlwind rushed through the room. Papers and herbs and knick-knacks flew through the air and the candles blew out.
In self-defense, Willow and Tara dropped to the floor, praying and hoping that nothing broke and that no one ended up getting hurt. Clutching her girlfriend tightly, Willow huddled on the floor until, as suddenly as the indoor windstorm started, everything grew still and quiet.
Cautiously lifting her head, Willow looked around. Everything was a total wreck. Papers and books lay scattered everywhere. Magic components and paraphernalia had been tossed about in random patterns. And Xander was... gone.
"Oh no... oh Goddess... oh no..."
At the sound of her panicked babbling, Tara's head popped up and she too glanced around.
"Oh my... what a... mess."
Willow turned and clutched at Tara's arm tightly, shock and fear etched into her face.
"No, you don't understand. Xander! He's gone!"
Willow nodded frantically at her bewildered lover.
"Gone! I think... I think the spell took him! Took him to the past or something."
Willow watched anxiously as Tara closed her eyes and her features took on a blank expression. She knew that her lover was 'feeling' the pattern and flow of their magic to try and trace out what happened and her stomach tied itself into knots as the seconds ticked by. Finally, Tara opened her eyes and frowned sadly.
"You're... right. The spell did take him away."
Giles looked up from where he was researching Spike's Childe Lex for Buffy while she worked off some of her aggression and tension in the training area with Riley. With a sigh, he removed his glasses and began to polish them absently while he allowed his thoughts to swirl.
Apparently, Buffy had confronted Spike about his defeating two slayer's and, while he had mentioned, in quite sordid detail, his relationships with Drusilla, Angelus and Darla, he had failed to even once tell her about Lex. Not his death, his career as a bloodthirsty vampire, nor his dusting in Prague. He hadn't even given a hint that Lex had existed at all.
Xander had shrugged Spike's reluctance to discuss Lex off, his concerns lying more with his floundering romance with Anya. Willow had been as curious as a young kitten about the mysterious vampire and Buffy had been enraged that Spike had left out such an important detail.
He admitted to himself that he was perplexed as to why the blonde vampire would neglect to talk about his Childe. It just... didn't seem right to Giles. It didn't fit in with what he knew of the blonde's personality. He remembered reading about Lex in the Chronicles and Watcher's Journals, but he hadn't focused too much energy on studying him since he was no longer a threat, but now Giles wondered. Why would Spike hide that knowledge? Did it hint at an unseen weakness in the blonde? Or did Spike perhaps dust his own Childe himself in order to save Drusilla?
Shrugging, Giles finished cleaning his glasses and was about to go back to his reading when the front door to the Magic Box burst open and Willow and Tara rushed in. He could tell right away that something was terribly wrong. Both of the young witches were visibly upset and flushed. They were also breathing heavily, as if they had run the entire way across town. In fact, as soon as they were inside, Tara collapsed onto one of the chairs at his research table.
"Giles! We need your help. It's an emergency!"
Standing quickly, Giles's helped Willow into a chair next to her girlfriend and tried to brace himself for the bad news.
"What? What happened? Some demon or... something?"
Both girls shook their heads in the negative, still panting for breath. It was finally Willow who was able to answer first.
Giles's suppressed a groan and the urge to roll his eyes. That boy always managed to get himself into the worst sort of trouble. And then it was up to everyone else to bail him out of the mess.
"I'm almost afraid to ask, but... what... what did he do this time?"
"No... it's serious. Bigger than Anya dumping him. Bigger than a messy room. I'm talking big big."
Giles frowned. Willow still had the habit of babbling incoherently when she was greatly distressed and he had no clue as to what she was going on about. "I'm sorry. The problem is that Anya broke off her relationship with Xander, so he made a... mess?"
Willow shook her head again and took a deep breath.
"No! Anya dumped him. He came to see us for comfort. He messed up our spell when he burst in. Then we sort of accidently sent him backwards through time."
Giles felt his heart clench up for a brief moment. He couldn't have heard what he thought he heard. It was a mistake. It couldn't be correct. His ears must have... malfunctioned or something.
"What was that again?"
Willow clammed up, her green eyes going big and watery and she sucked in her bottom lip and began nibbling on it. It was Tara who picked up the story.
"Um... We did a spell to see back in time. A scrying spell, that's all. Honest. But... somehow, when Xander tipped over the alter, it mutated. Now... we think he traveled back in time to the year we had been viewing."
Giles felt his face go pale at the very thought of Xander wandering lost and alone in a foreign place and time. The boy must be frightened and confused. He might also be in a great deal of danger. They needed to find out where and when he was and then get him back as soon as possible.
He resisted the urge to grab the young girls and shake some sense into their pretty little heads just as he resisted the urge to scream. Instead, he took a deep steadying breath and tried to be as gentle as possible with them to prevent upsetting them further.
"Did you bring a copy of the spell you used? And also, what time period were you aiming for? Was it specific in time frame and location?"
Willow sat quietly, nibbling on her full bottom lip, one big wet tear dripping down her pale cheek. Tara, however, reached into the bag she had slung haphazardly across her shoulder and torso. After a brief heartbeat, she pulled out a slim brown leather bound book with pressed goldleaf lettering on the front proclaiming 'Scrying, Visions and the Third Eye, Volume II'. She opened the book and flipped through the pages swiftly, until, with a little shuddering gasp, she handed the book over to him at the correct page.
"Th... this is the sp... spell we were doing when Xander burst in."
Quickly, Giles read through the spell and the list of components needed to make it work properly. Then, feeling his panic raise up a notch, he read through it again. Confirming what he had figured out the first time he'd read it, a sense of exasperated anger rolled over him. He'd told these two time and time again not to muck about with untried spells until after he'd had a chance to review it and give his approval, but time and again, they just assumed to know enough to work magic without his guidance and it always led to trouble.
Taking in a deep breath to try and calm his anger, he leveled his best disappointed mentor expression at them complete with a glasses removal and polishing.
"I hate to be the one to inform you of this, but this spell is not a 'scrying' spell at all. It's a 'Third Eye' type of spell. That's one where you see through the eyes a specifically mentioned individual, not just a general overview of the events happening. And I'm afraid that when Xander interrupted the spell, it... latched onto him as the person through which it would work. So... if he hadn't knocked over the bowl of water, you would have been able to actually 'see' what he was seeing. And we still might... we just need to find out exactly where and when you sent him. What was it you were trying to see?"
The girls both went impossibly paler and Giles found that he was bracing himself for more bad news. Finally, they shared a quick glance and Tara nodded and grabbed her girlfriend's hand in comfort and support. Then, with a soft sigh, Willow turned back to face Giles.
"Um... we weren't looking for a specific time and place... We were looking for a specific person and a specific instant during that person's life."
Giles frowned as he absorbed that. The intent behind a spell was what fueled it and it often had far reaching effects. Vaguely, he heard the front door open and footsteps approach, but this was far more important than any customer could ever be, so he concentrated on Willow and her suddenly distracted and trembling girlfriend.
"Who? Who were you looking for? This is terribly important Willow. If we are to have any chance of retrieving Xander from the past, we need to know to whom you sent him!"
"Bloody Hell! You two finally did it, didn't you?"
Giles sighed in frustration even while both girls jumped as if they had been prodded by a pointy stick. With anger leaking around behind his mild mannered facade, Giles turned to glare at the bleached blonde vampire that had walked into his shop.
"Spike! We don't have time for any of your games or tricks. We've a genuine emergency on our hands here!"
But then Willow shocked him to his very core with her next words and he was certain that he was going to suffer heart failure.
"Did you find Xander? Way back then? Did you?"
Giles looked back and forth from the look of horror and guilt etched on Willow's face to the smug smirk that graced Spike's. A feeling of remorse and mind numbing grief hit him like a hammer's blow.
"Oh no... no, no, not that... Willow, please tell me that you weren't trying to scry into the past to learn about Spike!"
Willow ignored him and continued to stare with wild sad eyes at the Master Vampire. Her next question sent a spear of icy fear and anger through his soul.
"Lex?... That's short for Alexander, isn't it?"
Spike didn't answer her directly, his smirk just grew wider until it reached a true smile of happiness. Then, he reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out an old and battered leather wallet. Opening it up, he pulled out a slightly faded picture and handed it over to the red haired witch. Giles leaned over to see it better and gasped in pain and faint shock.
"There ya go ducks. That's a picture of me, my Dark Princess, and Lex. We paid a pretty penny to the wizard that made it possible for our images to be captured on film for that little family portrait. Oh... Watcher, I need to use your phone."
Giles felt himself nod his head absently in response to the question. He was far too busy staring in abject horror at the wallet size picture in Willow's small pale hand.
Drusilla was dressed in a pale yellow frock with lots of frills and lace. She was seated on what was probably a low backed chair or stool of some sort. Behind her left shoulder stood Spike, in all his bleached blonde leather wearing glory, a cruelly seductive smirk on his face. He had one hand possessively resting on Dru's shoulder and the other resting on his Childe's arm.
It was the face of Spike's Childe that had so captured the unwavering attention of the two witches and the Watcher, however. From his dark curly hair, to his deep chocolate eyes, to his full lips curving in a soft and alluring smile. He was dark, beautiful, charming and obviously very self assured. He was also painfully familiar to them all... Xander.
It was at the point that Giles turned his attention back on the blonde vampire, meaning to demand an explanation. But as he looked over and saw Spike with the phone to his ear, he heard what the vampire was saying and his heart literally skipped a beat.
"Lex?... Cheers, mate. It's Daddy!"
Giles's mind swirled and floundered as he desperately tried to catch up with the events that were quickly spinning out of any semblance of control. Lex? How could Spike be talking on the phone to Lex? Lex was... dust! The Journals said so!
"Yes Luv! The witches did it, just like you always said they would. Yes, tonight, they did it earlier tonight."
Giles watched a wide grin of real happiness spread across the vampire's face and he wondered briefly if any of them ever knew the true Spike. He couldn't recall ever seeing the blonde look so totally happy.
"Where are you pet?"
Whatever response Spike got to that question caused the vampire to turn and look over at him. Giles felt his chest get tight as their eyes met. Spike winked at him and he wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. In either case, he wasn't too sure what it was he wanted to do about it anyway. Part of him wanted to turn Spike and the two witches over his knee and paddle them all into submission and remorse. The other part of him wanted to run off and find a safe place to hide and cry his heart out for the boy who had been like a son to him.
"Do you have the DeSoto then?... Right. Well, I don't suppose they'd mind seeing you again, but you have to promise not to eat the witches. After all, we do owe them for sending you back through time luv. S'only right that we let them live a long life... give 'em plenty of time to think about what they've done and all."
Giles watched as a soft look washed over Spike's face and he blinked in confusion. That was the expression of someone who loved, and loved deeply at that. While the Journals had often noted that Spike adored, hell practically worshiped his family, Giles had never seen it personally and thus he had just sort of... overlooked that aspect of the vampire during the time they had spent together.
His brain, in it's shock, took that moment to marvel over Spike's acting ability. He'd never once given the hint that he felt anything special for Xander. In fact, more than once, he'd been rather harsh with the boy. However, another part of Giles's brain reminded him that Spike had plenty of opportunities over the past years to kill or maim Xander, and he'd never done it. Bloody Hell, he'd kidnapped Xander and Willow prechip and he still hadn't killed the boy. He had threatened too, but he didn't actually do it, did he?
Giles was pulled out of his swirling thoughts by Spike hanging up the phone and sauntering over to them. One long fingered pale hand reached out and snagged the picture back. Then it was quickly tucked back into the battered wallet and the wallet was put away into his jean's pocket.
"Right. Well... Lex is on his way over here now. Should be arriving in an hour or so. Says he wants to do a quick visit before we head off. Just... remember, it may have only been a few hours since you saw him, but to his point of view... it's been decades! Oh... and don't call him Xander, he hates that... he's Lex now."
Xander looked around from his position on the ground. It was dark out... probably around 10 at night, but that didn't stop him from recognizing that he was outside and in a rubble strewn alley instead of Willow and Tara's living room. It was also cold. Far far colder than anything Xander had felt before.
He grimaced. Apparently, he had done something to disrupt the girl's spell and this was the end result. Once again, The Zeppo had ruined everything for everyone around him. It was a classic Xander maneuver.
First Anya dumped him because all his hard-earned money went to paying rent on the apartment he had gotten for her and on the food and groceries that she ate and thus, he didn't have any money left over to take her to fancy restaurants and to the movies and to all of the social functions that she read about in the paper. Apparently, she had found a new boyfriend. One that made lots of money and was willing to spend it all on her.
Then, when he went to his oldest friend in the world for some comforting and advice, he'd ruined a spell she had been doing because he was too stupid and clumsy for his own good. Willow was going to be majorly pissed off at him. And what was worse, Willow didn't yell when she was mad, she just got this sad and disappointed look in her eyes that made him feel all of 5 years old again. Hopefully with Tara there, Willow wouldn't be too hard on him.
Picking himself up off of the cold hard ground, Xander took a minute to dust off his jeans and shirt. Brushing away the last of the sprinkled herbs and a few pieces of paper and even some.... grey ash like stuff that Xander didn't want to think about too closely, he took the opportunity to look around him and try to locate the girls. At first, he expected them to have landed close to him, or at least in the general area. But he didn't see them at all.
His eyes adjusted to the darkness of the alleyway quickly enough, and then he began to hunt in earnest. There was a pile of broken wooden boxes and such leaning up against a brick wall. With a last flicker of hope, Xander dashed over to the pile and began to dig through it, yanking the boxes on top out of his way.
"Willow! Wills! Can you hear me? Tara! Are you under there? Wills! Wills!"
Xander dug down until he hit the rough asphalt ground, but he didn't find any sign of either witch. He spun around frantically, looking for someplace else they could be. Further down the narrow alley, he saw a large pile of broken stone and rubble and the first traces of panic and fear worked it's way into his heart.
Praying that Willow and Tara were not buried under the bricks, stone and mortar, Xander none the less ran over and began to dig into the pile, calling out their names.
"Wills! Tara! Are you under there? Can you hear me?"
Heedless of the multitude of cuts and scrapes he was picking up on his hands and arms, Xander dug deeply into the pile. Picking up heavy stones and tossing them off to the side. Shoving away crumbling mortar and dirt, praying and hoping that he didn't find their crushed bodies at the bottom.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, he worked his way down to the asphalt. With a bolt of relief running through him and unclenching terror's tight grip on his heart, Xander sagged against the brick wall. The witches weren't under the rubble heap, crushed and broken.
After a brief moment to catch his breath, Xander wondered where they were. Why weren't they with *him*, and speaking of that, where was *he*?
A noise from beyond the alleyway caught his attention. It sounded like footsteps. Turning his head, he watched as Spike stepped into view under a yellow street lamp. Xander spared a brief thought to the bizarre outfit that the blonde vampire was wearing, not used to seeing him in anything other than tight black jeans and a blood red silk button-up shirt with the long black leather duster.
Still, the fact that the vampire had apparently decided to play dress-up tonight wasn't half as important as figuring out what happened to Willow and Tara. Taking a deep breath, Xander pushed off of the wall and ran over towards Spike, grabbing him roughly by the arm in his panic.
"Spike! You've gotta help me here! You need to use those super-vamp senses you're always bragging about and help me find Wills and Tara!"
Spike just looked at him in offended astonishment and shook his arm free.
"What the Bloody Hell are you yammering on about? And how in the Nine Hells do you know my name whelp?"
Xander rolled his eyes and gave vent to a snort of frustration. He reached out and grabbed onto the dark blue wool coat that the vampire was wearing and tugged hard.
"Listen Junior, I don't have time for any head games. One of Will's and Tara's spells went wrong and the next thing I know, I'm in this alleyway. But I can't find the girls. You have to help me look for them, they could be hurt or something! You can tell me all about why you're all dressed-up like a longshoreman and how I should pretend not to know you later! Let's go!"
Xander tugged on Spike's sleeve again, but once more the vampire yanked his arm free and stared at him as if he was a lunatic. He was about to start threatening the blonde with a good staking when a soft breathy voice from behind him sent a chill of horror down his spine.
"Spikey? Who is this yummy boy? Can I eat him?"
His heart hammering in his chest, Xander whirled around to stare into the dark and haunting eyes of one of his worst nightmares come true. Drusilla.
"Oh. My. God! When did you get back in town? Spike! Why didn't you tell me she was back, dammit?!"
Then, to his ultimate horror and confusion, he saw the tall svelte blonde woman standing slightly behind the dark haired vampire prophetess. She was elegantly coifed and beautiful in a way that few women could ever hope to be. She was also one of the deadliest and cruelest creatures to ever walk the earth. Xander cringed back against Spike, almost trying to sink into the flesh of the blonde as if that would save him from the obvious madness that was descending upon him. Unable to stop himself, he pointed at her in stark terror.
"Y... y... you... But, you're dust! I... I... I... saw Angel stake you myself!"
Darla flinched back as if he had slapped her in the face and Spike grabbed hold of his arms tightly and shook him like a rag-doll even as his low angry voice growled in his ear. Xander was certain that if he looked around, he'd see that the blonde had vamped out and gone all pointy. Not being able to help himself, he turned his head and stared up into glittering gold eyes and swallowed hard. When he spoke, his voice was a squeaking and pleading whisper aimed at the blonde personally.
"Sp... Spike? Wh... What's going on? I... I don't... um, understand. I mean,... how is Darla, um... still alive? Well... not alive, but... you know, not a big old pile of dust?"
Spike growled and Xander winced.
"And why are you... you know... uh... acting like you've never seen me before? You're really freaking me out here blondie, and I gotta tell you that I'm so not enjoying this particular joke the world has decided to play on me."
Spike gave him another teeth rattling shake and his head leaned forward so that he was growling directly into Xander's ear, his rumbling voice sending chills and shivers down his spine even as his mind tried desperately to figure out what was going on.
"I have no idea what it is you are babbling on about and I don't know how you know me, but I've never set my eyes on you before in my entire unlife. If this is some sort of sick joke, I'll make you suffer agonies that will have mortal men cringing in fear for centuries to come just recalling your fate."
At that pronouncement, Xander felt chilled sweat break out all over his body and he began to tremble. Then Drusilla reached out and placed one small hand gently against his cheek. He couldn't stop it, he flinched at her soft touch. With wide-eyed horror and terror, he watched in mind numbing panic as her face went oddly blank and her dark eyes unfocused. Her soft lilting sing-song voice was enough to make him pray to a God he barely believed in.
"Ooooo Spikey! This little kitten is sooo lost and far from home. The stars sing his name and whisper of secrets buried down deep in his brain. He has seen that which has yet to come for he has not even been born yet. Slipping and sliding through the halls of time like a comet soaring and burning through the starry sky, leaving fiery trails and wisps of ideas and thoughts and memory."
Then, she petted his cheek softly before pulling away. Her eyes were frighteningly clear and coherent as she looked past Xander to gaze with hunger and delight at Spike.
"The two witches, the one's that he mentioned? They sent him here, to you from the future so that he could fulfill his true destiny as your Childe. That was the spell that he spoke of, time travel. He was sent to you... and he knew you personally in his former life... but he was never told of his fate, so he is confused..."
Xander's trembling became even more violent at her words. His mind swirled and his heart beat frantically in his chest. Denial swarmed over him, begging his own mind for her words to be false, for it to not be true. Anything else but that... Almost automatically, he began to shake his head in the negative, as if that action could save him from his fate.
"No... nononono! It can't be right! The... the stars are wrong! Confused or something... This isn't happening... I'm just having a nightmare. I'm gonna wake up and I'll be back in my apartment and Anya will be there and not mad and we'll go over to your crypt and you'll insult my clothes and then we'll go out and hunt down some big nasty thing to kill and Wills and Tara will have not sent me backwards in time to die on the non-chipped fangs of my ex-roommate... That's it, it's just a horrible horrible dream."
Xander pinched himself.
"Wake up Xander!"
He yelped at the sharp pain in his arm. Damn! Not a dream. A snort and a whisper in his ear caught his attention and gave him hope that he'd get out of this alive somehow...
"Anya? Who's Anya? And in the future, the three of us hunt down things to kill together? That right?"
Xander shivered at the blatantly evil glee and hunger in that soft husky voice.
"Um... Anya, my girlfriend... uh, you might have heard of her. She goes by the name Anyanka the Patron Saint of Scorned Women in this, uh... whenever we are. She's a Vengeance Demon... And um, yeah... we, me and Anya usually patrol with you. The witches do too sometimes, but they also patrol with Buffy and Riley as well."
"Patrol? What the bloody hell it that?"
"Um... we hunt down big nasties that want to gain control of the Hellmouth and kill 'em dead... or deader as the case may be."
Spike grunted in amusement in his ear.
"The Hellmouth, huh? Always knew I'd get there someday. Nice to have proof, of a sort. Still, how did you get there mate?"
"Who me? I... um, I was born there. They built the school I went to right over top of it... um, and that's sort of why I helped the gang to blow it up during Graduation. Um... long story..."
Spike laughed in his ear. It was a chillingly evil sound and it caused a whole new blossom of fear to open in his chest.
"I bet it is a long story at that mate, I do. I think my Dark Goddess is right, though. You will make an excellent choice of Childe for me."
And then Xander's world exploded in bright red pain as he felt two sharp pointed fangs descend into his neck. He could hear Spike swallow mouthfuls of his own blood. The cold air seemed to seep down into his very bones and his hands and feet began to tingle and go numb. He became dizzy and his thoughts felt distant, as if his mind was packed in wool. Gravity seemed to grab hold of him and he felt so heavy. Vaguely, he realized that Spike was lowering him to the ground, yet the vampire's fangs were still deep in his throat.
Then, suddenly, those sharp points of agony were torn from his flesh and something was shoved between his cold numb lips. A hazy semi-aware part of his mind thought it might be Spike's wrist, but he wasn't sure. Something liquid and spicy was dripping from it into his mouth, burning a trail of fire down his throat and into his very core. Spears of icy pain stabbed through him and a knot of terror and grief clenched his heart so tightly that he knew that it had stopped beating. Vaguely, right before the blackness took him, he heard Drusilla's delightfully laughing voice echo in his ears.
"Oooo Spikey! When your lost little kitten wakes up, we can take him out and hunt down some yummy Nazi's for him to eat. They are so delicious. Of course, Miss Edith says we'll have to teach him how to speak Polish and German first... but that's okay. I'm sure that with the right incentive, he'll be a fast learner..."
Buffy paused in her pacing across the length of the floor to turn and glare at the smirking blonde vampire leaning up against the glass counter. His blue eyes caught her look and his smirk got even wider. She had the wild urge to just stake him where he stood and then laugh as he dissolved into a whirlwind of floating ash and dust. Instead she turned and paced back the other way, passing Willow and Tara at the research table and Giles who was desperately flipping through the pages of an ancient looking thick book to try and find a spell that could pull Xander back to them out of the past.
She spun on her heels and made a broad sweeping gesture that could take in the entire room, or the entire world.
"Let me see if I've got this all correct here, 'cause somehow I'm thinking that this isn't a situation I want to be messed up about. Okay?"
Spike snorted in amusement and nodded his head in acquiescence as he hopped up on top of the counter.
"Sure thing Slayer. What is it you wanted to know exactly?"
Buffy wondered just why Spike was suddenly so willing to talk, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so to speak.
Right. So... Xander got sucked through some magic hole in time and went back into the past. Your past. Correct?"
Spike nodded and grinned.
"Yep. The git showed up out of an alley in war-torn Poland babbling on about how I had to help him find a pair of witches as he didn't know where they popped off to. I'd never laid eyes on him before, yet he knew my name and everything. He was a bit freaked out when he finally noticed that I was with My Dark Princess and Angel's Sire Darla. I gotta tell you, he sent that blonde bimbo into a towering huff over the fact that he went on and on about how she was supposed to be dust at Angel's hands. She ate 6 Nazi's that night, she did."
Buffy blanched slightly at the thought of her goofy and bumbling friend accosting a chip-less Spike in some dark alley thinking that he couldn't hurt humans. It tore her up inside to consider how frightened and confused he must have been. It sounded positively horrifying to her.
However, her Slayer instincts were all riled up, so she pushed her personal feelings aside and tried to concentrate on the details and not how they effected her life and the lives of her friends.
"So, then you turned him, yes?"
Spike nodded again, but this time Buffy noticed that his eyes softened slightly and his smile lost some of it's hard cynical edge to it. It was the same sort of expression he got when he recalled the good times he'd had with Drusilla. Of course, his idea of a good time was far from what she herself considered to be wholesome happy fun.
"Yeah. I turned him as soon as Dru announced that the stars were singing his name and that he was from the future by way of a magic spell. We all waited until he woke up the next night and then we went out hunting. He was a natural predator, I tell you. Pure hunter, he was. Gotta give you a lot of credit for that Slayer. You gave him a good basic education on the demon world, he knew more at his turning than I did."
Buffy felt as if she'd been slapped. She stumbled back a half step as she was flooded with an odd mixture of guilt and pride.
In a weird way, she felt as if all of the strange Hellmouthy things that happened to her friends was all her fault. A little voice in the back of her head kept insisting that if she didn't drag them into her world of evil and vampires, that they would have had a chance to live a semi-normal life. Her rational self knew that wasn't true, that without their help, she never would have survived as long as she did and that the evil would have swarmed over everyone instead.
At the same time, the fact that Xander's knowledge and skills had impressed Spike made her feel oddly proud. It was because of working with her and Giles that Xander had learned what he did. She also knew that was an irrational response... her mind just desperately trying to cling to some shred of goodness, even if it was in a warped and twisted way.
She silently yelled at herself to get back on track and offered up another glare at the blonde vampire who was the primary focus of all of her fear, anger and frustration.
"Okay... then explain Prague. How could Lex be coming over here when everyone knows he got dusted by that angry mob that injured Dru? And why didn't you tell us what was going to happen? We could have done something to prevent Xander from going back in time to begin with!"
Spike was just about to answer her when the front door to the Magic Box slammed open and a chillingly familiar voice called out into the room.
"If you invite me in Slayer, I'll tell you the answer to that."
Buffy heard Willow's breathy gasp of "Xander" and turned to look at the vampire version of one of her dearest and most trusted friends. His dark hair was cut shorter on the top then she remembered, but long dark curls hung down his pale neck. He wore thick heavy black boots and tight black jeans, a faded original Sex Pistols concert T-shirt and a black motorcycle jacket that had that beaten worn in look of age and hard use. His dark eyes sparkled with cruel hunger and amused mischief and he exuded an air of sex and danger.
"I promise to be goo-oood."
His voice was a sing-song taunt and she was sure that he was lying even when some tiny part of her brain wanted nothing more than to rush over to him and throw her arms around him, thankful that he had returned. She was unsure what to do in response to his request, but before she could decide, Giles took the decision out of her hands.
"What? Oh yes,... um, do come in Xander."
The dark haired vampire glared and a low throaty growl drifted through the air.
"Oh... er... I mean, um... Lex. So sorry about that... it's just that this is a bit... disconcerting."
Xander, or rather, Lex grinned cheerfully at her Watcher and shrugged as he stepped over the threshold.
"I've asked you not to call me that."
Buffy felt hysterical laughter want to bubble up out of her that their exchange. Her Watcher was bantering back and forth with a deadly soulless vampire that was wearing the face of her best friend as if nothing was wrong. Desperately, she tried to sort out her tangled thoughts, but what happened next threw her a bit.
Willow sort of half stood up and Buffy was sure she was going to dash over and hug Xander, but that never happened. To everyone's shock, their one time friend blew right past them and headed straight for Spike. A husky and whispered "Sire" rumbled through the shop and then the blonde vampire sitting on the countertop grabbed a fistful of dark curls and pulled the younger vampire into a deep and possessive kiss.
As she watched the two men devour each other's lips and tongues, she had to admit that it was the hottest and most erotic display she had ever seen in her life. True passion and desire just rolled off of them as they pawed at each other and Buffy felt wet heat build up between her legs at the sight of Lex and Spike's reunion.
Finally, Giles cleared his throat loudly and that seemed to break the spell they cast over everyone in the room. They pulled apart and Lex whispered loudly enough for everyone to hear him.
"Missed you Sire. Missed you so much... but I guess I owe the Slayer an explanation, huh?"
"S'up to you pet. You did promise though and she'll more than likely try to stake you if you don't tell. Either way, I'll back you up. S'your call."
Buffy glared. The idea that Xander would walk away without explaining it to her was upsetting. Not just because she wanted to know, but because that would mean that the last vestiges of her friend had died long ago. She found herself holding her breath. Then, Lex turned so that he was situated between Spike's knees, his back pressed up against his Sire's chest. When his dark eyed gaze focused on her, she felt her heart skip a beat. All her Slayer senses were screaming that he was a strong vampire, not as strong as his Sire, but definitely stronger than 90% of the vamps they had running around Sunnydale. He was a true Childe, not some mindless minion. In time, he could reach the level of Master Vampire, just as his Sire before him had done.
"Okay Buf. You want the truth? I'll give it to you, but I don't think you'll like it much."
Buffy merely nodded. She didn't trust herself to speak just yet.
Lex shrugged and leaned closer into his Sire's embrace, yet he never broke eye contact with her.
"Prague was a lie. Yes, Dru did get injured, but I wasn't dusted. However, I remembered reading that Spike's Childe had gotten dusted there. That was a freaky time for me. I mean, I had forgotten all about that little detail. One night we went to sleep on a train and when I woke up we were in a foreign city. No big deal, right? Found out two nights later that it was Prague. As soon as I did, I got scared and I went to Spike and told him what I remembered from reading the Watcher's Journals. I would be dust and Dru would get hurt badly. So... we went off looking for Dru so that we could leave the city as soon as possible. But it was too late. By the time we found her, she'd already been hurt. That's when we left."
Lex grinned at her then and it was a nasty grin full of dark amusement and evil intent. It was a clear reminder that this man wasn't really her friend, but a soulless and deadly vampire.
"The whole situation was... confusing. I mean, I could clearly recall reading about my own demise in Giles's books. That's when Dru told us that Miss Edith found the whole sordid mess to be an amusing trick. A trick meant to fool the Watchers and the Slayers. So... Spike and Dru let it be known that I had perished in Prague at the hands of an angry mob. The truth of it was that I survived just fine."
Lex gestured broadly, taking in the whole shop with one swoop.
"YOU are the ones that elaborate bit of fabrication was aimed at. I didn't want you to know who I was. Spike had to come here and play out events as I remembered them for the same reason that you guys were not allowed to know that Spike even had a Childe, let alone who he was. If you had found a way to prevent me from being sent back in time, then I wouldn't even exist! My whole unlife would have never happened! I had to do whatever it took to make certain that you guys didn't change my destiny."
Buffy felt as if the world was shifting under her feet and she reached out and clutched at the bookcase beside her to keep from falling over in shock. Her mind swirled as she tried to make sense of everything that Lex had just told her. She kept looking for one shred of hope that they could somehow save their friend.
"Well... what if... what if...Oh! What if we cast a spell to pull you back here. To our time. You know, not let you stay in the past. What then?"
Lex shrugged, unconcerned.
"I've spent over 6 decades studying all aspects of time travel and magic. After all, that's what altered, or perhaps, righted the path of my destiny. I can assure you that there is no way to get my younger self back. You did have a window of opportunity. It was... ohhh... about 45 minutes long. Then Spike killed me. The spell won't work on a dead man. However, you already passed that 45 minute deadline hours ago."
Buffy resisted the urge to run over to Willow and wrap her in a big comforting hug when the red headed girl burst out in a choked sob. However, when she heard the witch's suggestion, she was all for it.
"Xan... um, uh... Lex? I... I can cast the spell to give you back your soul. You don't have to stay a killer. I... I... I can do it tonight and you can stay here with us and help fight the bad guys and it'll be just like old times. Honest."
Buffy nodded and felt a bubble of hope build up in her and she bounced on her heels in excitement.
"Yeah! That... that would be perfect. Then... then you could, I don't know... stay with Spike in his crypt, I guess. He helps us too, but you know that, right? It could be... you know, the Scooby Gang again... just with... you know, an extra set of fangs. Right?"
Lex snorted in derision and Spike actually chuckled.
"Not going to happen Slayer. There's not a single copy of that spell left in the world. I made sure of that myself."
Buffy blinked and stared in shock at Spike.
"What? Surprised, are you? Did you actually think that I'd wander around in your homes and not take steps to protect myself from your worst weapon? Bloody hell, I know I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm not that daft, am I? Destroyed every copy I found, I did."
Buffy watched as Giles and Willow sputtered and floundered, but one thing echoed in her mind. They didn't have any spell to restore Xander's soul... Of course, Spike could be lying, but she wasn't too sure about that. In either case, she knew that Willow and Giles would search and search. But for now, she had a vampire on her hands that had no chip and no soul. She leveled a pointed stare at her former friend.
"Lex. I think you should leave now. Not just the shop, but Sunnydale as well. I don't want to have to dust you, but I will if you stay in town."
Lex nodded his dark head and grinned at her in a sheepish and goofy manner that was very reminiscent of Xander and she knew in her heart that it would come close to destroying her if she were forced to stake him. However, much to her surprise, he didn't argue with her, in fact, he agreed.
"I know. I don't want to be dusted, and to be honest, I wouldn't want you to dust me anyway. I still remember what it was like to dust Jesse and in honor of the friendship we once shared, I won't do that to you. Consider it a debt paid. I just came here to get Spike anyway. Long phone calls and short visits do not make up for being away from him for so long, I gotta tell you. So... we'll be off now."
With that, Buffy watched as Lex stepped away from the counter and Spike hopped off. Then, slinging an arm around each other, they sauntered off into the night, the front door to the shop swinging shut behind them.
She turned and looked into the shell-shocked faces of her remaining friends and saw grief and regret and pain and deep deep sorrow. Almost absently, she reached up and brushed a lone tear off of her own cheek. There would be time to mourn later. Right now there was work to do. There had to be a copy of the Soul Restoration Spell left somewhere in this damn town, and she meant to find it.
It had been a long night. A long hard night. A long hard night full of fighting off and subsequently killing a slime coated Brotha Demon and the half dozen or so of it's hatchlings that were slithering around all snake like.
Needless to say, his hair had gotten coated in pungent smelling blue ichor and his silk shirt had been forever ruined by the night's activities. However, it was nothing that a warm and soapy shower couldn't fix. Now that he was clean and much more pleasantly scented, he found that he was starving.
Making his way into the kitchen, Angel noticed the little red light blinking on his answering machine. He paused a moment to hit the Replay Messages Button and then continued on his path to his refrigerator. He pulled out a package of blood and poured it into a mug while he listened to the recording rewind to the beginning. Just as he was about to stick the mug into his microwave, the message began to play.
"Um... Hello? Uh, Angel... this is... Tara. Um... I'm not sure if your... ah... answering machine is gonna record this. After all, I... uh... haven't even seen one in... wow, years, but... Oh, um... anyway, I was just calling... um... I was going through some of... ah... Willow's things and I... er... I thought you might want to help me with something. See... I found, um... a copy of that Soul Restoration Spell... and I was hoping that... maybe you would help me use it... um... on Spike and Lex. Uh... call me, okay? Um... bye."
Angel stood perfectly still, the hand still extended to place the mug in the microwave totally forgotten. He was literally too overwhelmed with the thoughts and emotions flooding into him to be able to do anything beyond stand there and gape open mouthed at the now silent answering machine.
It had been almost twenty years since Spike had surprised everyone with the realization that his Childe, Lex, was not dust and what's more, that he was also Xander Harris. Angel had known about Spike's Childe, but he hadn't put Lex together with Xander for one very good reason. He'd never met Lex. After that disaster in China during the Boxer Rebellion, he had avoided his family like the plague. Yes, he kept tabs on them all, but he didn't actually go near them. So, when he ended up in Sunnydale, he hadn't recognized Xander as Lex. Simple really.
And after that bit of news came to light? Well, it hadn't taken long for everyone to realize that Spike no longer had his chip. In fact, he hadn't had it since a week after the Initiative implanted it in his skull. He had gone straight to Lex and Lex had done some combination magic/medical science thing and had it removed. Spike's return to Sunnydale and his alliance with the Slayer... Buffy, had all been a ruse. A delicate deception that kept him close to Xander until Willow and Tara could send the boy backwards in time.
Once that occurred, Lex had shown up in Spike's beat up old DeSoto and the two had stormed out of Sunnydale to embark on the beginning of a bloodbath the likes of which the world hadn't seen in decades. They claimed it was all in celebration of their being reunited and of the fact that they no longer had to worry about Lex being yanked back into the future. A future that was now the past.
In any case, they killed. Brutally. William the Bloody and Lex the Ruthless once again. All that was missing was Drusilla the Mad. The unholy trinity... well, almost. As far as Angel knew, his absent Childer was still off in the jungle with that Chaos Demon having the time of her unlife. No matter, it was Spike and Lex that worried him now.
Buffy hadn't been able to live with the knowledge of what one of her former allies and her once best friend were doing. It had torn her up inside. Angel could understand. That was his Grandchilde and great-Grandchilde that were out there doing those things. It was his burden, his guilt... his fault in a way. Yet, he had turned a blind eye, his undying love for Spike refusing to let him do the one thing that could have ended their reign of bloodshed and terror. Buffy didn't feel that restraint.
The blonde Slayer had gone after them with a vengeance. She'd finally caught up to them in New Orleans at the height of Mardy Gras. There, amidst the swirling chaos of drunken mortals decorated in golds and greens and purples, she had challenged the two vampires to a fight to the death. And lost. Rumor said that they had finally managed to catch her and pin her struggling body between their own. Then, they had each bit deeply into her throat and drank her life from her veins.
Two years later, a marble statue appeared one night on the very spot she had died. It was a beautiful depiction of a slim girl in a fighting stance, a stake held up in each hand. It had a bronze plaque on it that read: Buffy A. Summers, The Greatest Slayer The World Has Ever Seen. No one knew who commissioned it and then had it placed there. But Angel knows. It was Spike and Lex. He knows because he went to visit the statue personally and he saw it's likeness to the real Buffy Summers.
After that, everyone's attention became focused on Willow. Grief and guilt had eaten away at her until she herself stopped eating. She slowly withered and became painfully thin and frail. They'd eventually had to put her in a hospital so that the doctors could literally force nutrients into her. It had been touch and go for a while, but eventually, with Giles and Cordelia and himself, not to mention the overwhelming love of Tara to support her, Willow slowly recovered.
Then, five years or so ago, Giles had been in an automobile accident. He died instantly. Willow took his death hard. Too hard. She stopped eating again. This time, however, nothing anyone had done for her had been able to bring her back from her depression induced self-starvation. Everyone was helpless as they watched her grow weaker and weaker, her will to live gone. She had passed away about five months ago.
Cordelia, who still kept in close contact with Tara, had told him that the blonde witch had finally come to terms with her wife's death and was ready to begin going through her things. It was a part of the grieving process, Angel knew, but he was also aware that it couldn't have been easy for her.
And now this.
To have found the Soul Restoration Spell now, after all these years. After so much had happened that could have been prevented. After all of the pain and the suffering and the anguish. After Willow was dead and gone and would never know... Angel shuddered at the horrible irony.
With a sigh filled with sadness, he turned and walked over to his phone and the old and battered answering machine. Slowly, he picked up the receiver and dialed the number he knew by heart and then listened to it ring until a soft-spoken voice answered.
"Tara? Hi... this is Angel. Uh... yes. I'll help you do the Soul Restoration Spell on both Spike and Lex. When do you want to meet to do this?"
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