Pairing: Spike/Xander, mentions of Spike, Buffy, Willow friendship

Rating: R overall

Warning: Character death...sort of

Summary: Ten years after Sunnydale's destruction, Spike returns to the ruins. Chasing his lover on All Souls' Night, when the dead can return and walk amongst the living, Spike will do whatever he must to get Xander back.

A/N: Written for [info]fall_for_sx. Thanks to my beta, [info]kidcyclone , for putting up with my complete insanity while writing this. Also, a big thank you to [info]virtualpersonal  for her inspiration over at [info]waywardbunnies . I've twisted her plot bunny completely out of shape, but it was still the inspiration!

All Souls' Night


Part One

Buffy stood at the lip of the jagged crater. She shivered, the unusually cool wind whipping up around her. Ten years ago, she’d stood here and smiled. The whole world had waited for her then, bright and shiny. She’d assumed that a life away from the Hellmouth would be simpler, easier. She hadn’t understood how many monsters a world could hold.

Her hand snuck out, colliding with the shaking hand of the man next to her. She could almost feel his unbeating heart breaking at the sight of Sunndale’s wreckage. Thinking about what was coming was unbearably difficult for her. She couldn’t even begin to imagine how Spike was feeling right now.

Spike gazed bleakly down into the pit that he had made. Somewhere in that wreckage was his past. Dru’s dolls, Joyce and Anya, all of that and more turned to ash by the force of a single soul. Somewhere down there was Xander.

“You ready?” Willow asked him gently, and he flinched almost imperceptibly at the sound of her voice.

“No,” he answered honestly. He wasn’t ready, wasn’t sure there was any way to be ready for what was coming.

“It’s time,” she told him, her face grave. He nodded and gestured towards the remains of the town. She smiled, a tense little smile that trembled with the effort she was making.

“Hecate audite meus placitum. Patefacio porta,” Willow chanted, fingers outstretched. *

As Willow begged for Hecate’s intercession, Spike stood silent, his fingers entwined with Buffy’s. Ten years ago, that was his definition of perfect happiness. Ten years ago, he’d have been somewhere in the stratosphere. Now, his only thought was that she wasn’t Xander. Xander who was dead, Xander who he hadn’t saved.

It had been a stupid fight. They’d bickered constantly, endlessly. It didn’t matter about what, they just couldn’t seem to break the habit of picking each other apart. Man U or Liverpool, curry or a fry-up, stake or behead. They had a fight for every topic and night of the week. Spike couldn’t even remember what they’d been bickering about, only that Xander had stormed off. His last words to Xander that night were burned into his memory.

“Piss off, mate.”

They rang in his ears every night since. He heard them in his sleep, his own voice echoing endlessly. Piss off, mate. Piss off, mate. Piss off…

He could hear it now, the words rising above the churning wind. The words that threatened to choke him, drowning out everything but his guilt and shame. The ground shook underneath him and he stumbled, pulling Buffy backwards away from the cliff face. They fell into the dust, watching wide-eyed as Sunnydale rose from its cratered tomb.

*Translation: Hecate, hear my plea. Open the gate. (or roughly that. It's been years and my Latin is way rusty!)

Part Two

Spike watched as Sunnydale rebuilt itself brick by brick. He hadn’t expected this and from the look on her face, he wasn’t sure Willow had either. He’d just figured Sunnydale would appear, or maybe shimmer into view like bloody Brigadoon. Instead, the town was quaking and clattering back to an approximation of life. Finally, the clank of the last brick sounded and before them was a real, if slightly transparent, Sunnydale.

“Wha...What just happened,” Buffy asked, pulling herself off the ground.

“Uhm.” Willow looked perplexed. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know.” Buffy replied, a flicker of annoyance settling on her features. “Well, that’s perfect. We have six hours to go in there, find Xander and bring him back and you don’t know what happened.”

Spike sighed. He’d known Buffy was likely to bollocks up the whole plan, but he’d hoped for a little more time to get things going. She’d argued against this from the beginning and again on the trip over, saying that Xander’s soul was at peace and this was no different than ripping her out of heaven.

“I don’t care,” Spike had told her. “He can do his bloody dance on the head of a pin some other time. Xander’s out there and I’m going to put this right, with or without you Slayer. So either help or stay out my bloody way.”

That had been that. Except for the constant low-level bitching that hummed between them every time the subject was brought up. Spike gave a mental shrug. He didn’t want to kill her and that was all that was likely to stop her, so he resigned himself to trying to talk her out of whatever it was that was bothering her now.

“Slayer,” he interrupted. “We’ve got six hours. Think you can walk and complain at the same time?”

With that, he straightened up and took a large step forward. The ground beneath his feet was vaguely unstable, almost swampy. He supposed that was to do with whatever magic had brought it back. Magic was dicey on the best of terms and this wasn’t exactly the best of terms. All he could do was hope Red’s mojo kept the place from disappearing.

“Coming?” he asked over his shoulder.

Willow strode forward to stand beside him. This was her best chance at saving Xander and she wasn’t going to waste it. No matter what Buffy said, Xander wasn’t at peace. She’d traced his soul to the ruins of Sunnydale and she was going to install it in his undead body if it killed her.

She understood why Buffy was worried. The act of pulling Buffy from heaven had left the Slayer…altered in some way Willow couldn’t quite put into words. She thought maybe not all of Buffy came back, that part of Buffy’s soul was missing. It was pure speculation and even if she could prove it, Willow wasn’t sure she wanted to. How could you tell your friend that she didn’t have all of her soul?

Xander was different. He wasn’t dead and his soul wasn’t in heaven. By no stretch of the imagination could Sunnydale be called heaven. It wasn’t Hell anymore, but it wasn’t heaven either.

Spike wandered down old familiar streets, taking in the sights. He drew up short when he saw a shopkeeper stroll out of the Magic Box, broom in hand. He knew that face. It was the woman he’d killed when he’d come back, pissed and bent on getting Dru back. He whirled around, desperate to escape.

“All Souls’ Night,” Willow murmured, her hand gripping his shoulder. “That’s why we’re here, Spike. Just relax and keep moving. We have to find Xander.”

Spike nodded, eyes trained warily on the woman now sweeping the front walk. In his momentary panic, he’d forgotten that this was part of the spell. For one night a year, the veil between the living and the dead was permeable. That night was All Souls’ Night, October 31st and for that night, the spirits of the dead could inhabit the earthly plane.

All around them, the town seemed to awaken, the streets gradually filling with the hustle and bustle of Sunnydale’s dead. Buffy let out a small cry and began to move away, Spike and Willow following after.

“Bloody hell,” Spike yelled, trying to push through the crowd. “We don’t have time for this, Slayer. We need to find Xander.”

“Go.” Willow pushed him away. “Call me when you find him. I’ll stay with Buffy.”

Spike snarled, but reluctantly nodded and stalked off. He wasn’t sure how he was supposed to find Xander in a town suddenly bursting with people. He started off towards Xander’s old house, stopped suddenly and changed direction. No reason to think Xan would be hanging around his parent’s house. No good memories, nothing to tie him there. The apartment, then, he decided, moving briskly for a few paces before stopping again. Xander probably wouldn’t be sitting in his empty apartment, waiting for Spike to show up.

Spike threw up his hands, growling in frustration. “Bugger me. Xander, where the fuck are you?”

“You never did have any patience, Bleach Boy,” a familiar voice purred.

Spike’s shoulders slumped, a shudder of disgust running through him. It had been too much to hope that he wouldn’t show up, that he hadn’t gotten wind of what they were doing. There wasn’t much chance this would end well now, but Spike had to try. If he didn’t, if he had to fight, there was no chance at all. Impossible bloody odds a specialty, he chuckled grimly to himself.

“Nah,” Spike replied, turning to face Xander. “ Patience is for whelps with no chance of getting what they want. They call it patience so nobody realizes it just means they’re settling for whatever they can get.”

Part Three

“Now why would I need to settle,” Xander asked casually, hands curling and uncurling by his side. “I can have whatever I want, right? Vampire, evil, the whole spiel you used to yammer about. You know, back before you became a complete pussy.”

Spike smirked, bringing an unlit cigarette up to his mouth. “Can’t get everything, can you?” he asked, the snick of the lighter reverberating in his ears. “Can’t have me, can you?”

Xander’s lip curled, and his eyes flashed dangerously. “What makes you think I want you? Actually, what makes you think anyone wants you? A vampire with soul doesn’t have much going for him. Won’t kill, can’t stop crying. You’re not exactly a prize, Spike. Still have nightmares? Wake up screaming, reaching out for me?”

Spike shook his head, grateful he didn’t have a heartbeat to betray his emotions. He did wake up screaming, every night. He missed the comfort of Xander’s embrace, of his lover’s quiet reassurance that he was loved, wanted, needed. He wished he could believe that this wasn’t Xander, just a demon with his face. He knew better. This was Xander without a soul, without a conscience. But, it was Xander.

“You think I miss you,” Spike drawled, blowing out a puff smoke. “That’s adorable. Sorry, Xan. You just weren’t that important.”

Xander snorted, folding his arms across his chest. “Important enough to have you chasing my soul to a dead town.”

“That’s Red,” Spike replied blandly. “You know how she loves you. Just can’t let you go, mate. I’m only here for the muscle.”

“Uh-huh,” Xander smiled. “Then you won’t mind if I stop this little party? Wouldn’t bother you if I never got my soul back?”

“Nope,” Spike said. “Go ahead and stop her. If you can, that is. Red’s still as a strong as ever, and she’s got quite a bit of control these days. Imagine she could knock you out for the duration without doing much damage.”

Spike saw Xander’s eyes widen. The truth, Spike reflected, was always more dangerous than a lie. They hadn’t wanted to do it, but they had prepared for a showdown. Red had shown him how to incapacitate Xander, given him the right words and the special powder. Spike just had to get him close enough for it to work.

“So what have you been up to, Xan? The usual fledge hijinks aside, of course,” Spike sneered. “You been out hunting with your sire? Learning the lore and all that? Oh wait, I forgot! Your sire didn’t bother to stick around. Guess you weren’t worth the bother of training.”

Spike cheered inwardly as Xander’s face shifted. Spike stared at his lover’s changed face and tried to suppress the flash of lust that shot through him. He’d always privately wondered what Xander would look like as a vampire. The feral and dangerous creature before him, Xander and yet not, had Spike’s cock stirring in his jeans.

“Still,” Spike continued, “maybe you’ve done fine on your own. How important is a sire, really, in the scheme of things? Sure, they teach you to how to hunt, how to be a real vampire instead of a loser that’s likely to end up dust his first few nights. But, that whole claimed in body and blood bit is really just more trouble than it’s worth, right?”

Spike’s face shifted as Xander charged. A quick block and grab spun Xander around and into Spike’s strong arms. The younger vampire growled, struggling violently, but Spike kept a firm grip. He couldn’t afford to lose this fight.

“Don’t worry,” Spike reassured him as he removed the powder from his pocket. “When this is all over, I’ll make sure you’re welcomed into the family right and proper. Placidus!”

The spell and powder worked just as Willow had said, with Xander going limp in his arms. Spike heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of Xander’s eyes, aware but glassy. He’d been so frightened the spell would hurt Xander. Performing magic on the undead was tricky and this town was already so full of magic, he hadn’t been certain the many magicks floating around wouldn’t interact.

“Promise,” Spike whispered, pressing a quick hard kiss to Xander’s temple. “Soon as we get you back, I’ll show you how much I love you.”

He hefted Xander in his arms, and headed towards his old crypt. He’d stash Xander there, out of harm’s way, before continuing to look for his lover’s soul. He sent out a call for Willow, and the breathless reply of “Busy” drew a groan from his lips. He wasn’t sure what sent the Slayer haring off like that, but whatever it was wasn’t as important as Xander’s soul.

‘Red, deal with it and get your ass back here,” he thought. ‘Need to get this show on the bloody road.’

‘Buffy,’ she sent back to him. ‘We found Buffy. Spike, her soul…it’s here!’

Part Four

“What the bloody hell?” Spike muttered, kicking open the door to his crypt. His eyes darted around the large room, lighting on the sarcophagus. He laid Xander’s body on the stone slab, absentmindedly smoothing back the hair that fell into Xander’s eyes.

“Red,” he said quietly, “what do you mean you found her soul? How in buggering fuck is Buffy’s soul doing a walkabout?”

“Spike,” Xander said softly and Spike stiffened, glancing down at the body on the sarcophagus. He was still nearly unconscious, the spell still holding. So, if it wasn’t Xander, it had to be…

“Xander,” Spike breathed, looking up and out into the gloom of the crypt.

“Yeah,” the voice said again. “It’s me.”

He walked forward from the shadows and stood next to Spike, looking down at the lax form on the slab. Spike turned slightly, staring at his lover’s…soul? The difference between the two men was amazing.

This was Xander, the real Xander, the Xander he knew and loved. The slightly slumped shoulders, the relaxed and easy smile, the utter Xander-ness radiated from the translucent man standing next to him. Spike found himself breathing heavily, almost panting, as long-buried emotion swelled inside him.

“Xan,” he choked out. “What the hell are you doin’ in Sunnydale? Of all the places for a soul to be…”

“You know what they say,” Xander grinned, eyes shifting to stare at Spike. “Hell is where the heart is.”

Spike snorted. Trust Xander to turn death into a joke. He’d always thought the other man would go to his death with a wisecrack. Should’ve figured on him being an after death comedian.

“Come to get you back,” Spike confessed quietly. “I-I’m sorry, Xander. ‘S my fault. Never shoulda…I drove you off and you died.”

“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “Gotta admit I’m still a little pissed about that.”

Spike stayed silent, still staring at the shimmering almost not there presence in front of him. What could he say? How do you apologize for killing someone? It’d been over a decade since he’d gotten his soul and he still didn’t know.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Xander smiled shyly. “I’m guessing by the presence of my creepy undead self that you’re gonna shove me back in?”

“Trying to,” Spike admitted. “Red…Willow’s got a new spell. No crap curse for you, no worries about being happy.”

Spike had insisted. One of the things he loved about Xander was the younger man’s complete and uncomplicated happiness. Seeing that brilliant smile warmed his dead body and he’d rather not have Xander than condemn him to an eternity of unhappiness.

“New spell,” Xander echoed. “Somehow, I’m not so thrilled.”

“There’s one condition,” Spike told him. “Well, okay there’s a lot of conditions, including tracking the soul to where it rests and bringing it forth on All Soul’s Night. But, the thing is…we gotta have the soul’s permission. We can’t bring you back if you don’t want to be back, Xan.”

Xander cocked his head, a thoughtful look on his face. Spike fidgeted, shifting restlessly from one leg to the other. This is where it all went arse over teakettle. If Xander was happier dead, well mostly dead, than it was all over.

“If I say no,” Xander asked slowly, “what’re you going to do with him?”

Spike sighed heavily, tipping his head back to stare at the ceiling. Of all the questions for Xander to ask…He straightened, staring straight at Xander’s soul.

“I don’t know,” Spike answered finally. “I’m not sure I can stake you, any version of you. I don’t want him, if that’s what you’re asking. All of the things I love about you, they’re part of you and none of him. But, don’t ask me to kill you because I don’t think I can.”

“And what about Buffy?”

“What about her,” Spike asked, confused. “She’s not thrilled we’re re-souling you. Thinks we’re ripping you away from your heavenly rewards. But, she’s here and she’s helping, so I guess that’s as much of a blessing as I’ll get.”

“No.” Xander shook his head. “What about her soul?”

“It’s here. At least a part of it is. Xander!” Willow walked in, arm around a weeping Buffy. Her green eyes lit up at the sight of Xander, and she smiled broadly. “Spike found you! Uhm, both of you.”

“Nah,” Xander contradicted. “We found him. Spike’s tracking skills have gone to shit in his old age.”

“Oi!” Spike protested. “Have not. I’dve found him eventually.”

“Sure,” Xander dismissed him. “So Wills, what’s up with the Scooby soul reunion?”

Willow shrugged, looking fondly at him. “I’m not sure. I have an idea, but with no books…I can’t be sure.”

“Not nice to lie, Red,” Spike said gruffly, looking at Buffy uncomfortably. “You know exactly why the Slayer’s soul is wandering around this little ghost town.”

“Spike,” Xander said warningly.

“No,” Spike said. “It’s true. Let’s not dance around it. When you nits brought her back, you didn’t do it right. Slayer came back wrong.”

“Spike’s right,” Buffy whispered disconsolately. “He’s the only one who could see it. T-tara did a spell to ch-check. But, I th-think maybe she just…missed something.”

“No,” Willow said firmly, eyes bright. “Tara wouldn’t have missed anything. This isn’t about us bringing you back. It’s something else. I’m sure of it.”

“Well, whatever,” Xander finally said, looking uncomfortable. “That spell? The one you were going to use on me? Will it work on Buffy?”

Spike growled, his face rapidly shifting into the harsh angles of his demon. He couldn’t bear to get so close and to have some stupid sense of nobility bollocks this up. There was no way Willow could perform the spell twice. Not enough time and nowhere near enough energy for two such powerful spells.

“Theoretically,” Willow mused. “Her soul would have to consent but…yeah.”

“Then, do it,” Xander said quietly.

Part Five

Willow nodded slowly, once, then twice and she rose, a hand reaching out and almost touching Xander’s sheer body. Xander stared at her, a painful solemnity marring his features. Spike had seen them do this before, this bizarre voiceless expression of familiarity and love. It had never seemed more alienating.

Willow was actually going to do it. She was going to throw Xander away, consign his soul to wherever souls went and that was that. Spike glanced back at the motionless body on the sarcophagus, eyes glowing with rage. That dead body was all he would have left of Xander and for a brief moment, he wanted nothing more than to watch it turn to so much dust and ash.

Willow hustled Buffy out of the crypt without a backward glance. Spike hadn’t expected her to look at him. She had to know what Spike would say and do in order to get Xander back and Willow wasn’t stupid enough to give him the chance.

“So that’s it, then,” Spike asked rhetorically, a candy coating of bitterness dripping from his words. “You do the noble sacrifice and I’m left with what? Your corpse?”

“Spike,” Xander said tiredly. “Don’t, okay? Just don’t. You know I can’t let Buffy leave here without her soul.”

Spike wanted to howl, the urge to destroy welling up so fiercely that it blurred his vision. Of course Buffy would come first. She always had, with all of them. His own soul, poor battered William with his fears and his sorrows, fluttered inside him and he could hear the cry as clearly as if William stood in front of him. What about me? I, who love you and need you, who dreams of you ceaselessly and craves but a moment of your time? What shall become of us now?

“Why not,” he finally replied, clutching tightly at his control. The internal war weakened him, made him tired and sad. Spike just wished for everything to finally be over and damn the consequences. “She’s been doing fine without the thing for years now. Can’t see how it should make much of difference either way.”

“Because she’s not dead,” Xander screamed harshly. “Get it, Spike? That body over there isn’t me, no matter how much you’d like it to be. I’m dead. So, you’ll fucking forgive me for putting my living friend’s pain ahead of your desire for some quality time with my dick.”

Spike rocked, the force of Xander’s words sending him literally reeling. He couldn’t believe Xander would think that, let alone say it. He stiffened as years of pain and derision washed over him.

“Ah,” he murmured sardonically, lifting an eyebrow. “You know, you’re right. Why bother with your dead body when I can have the Slayer’s sweet warm one? Wonder if getting her soul back’ll make her a better shag?”

Spike brushed past Xander’s intangible form, head held high. Not going to give him the satisfaction, Spike thought dully. All those years of loving Xander, of missing him, flitted through Spike’s mind as he walked out. How many times had he stalked the dead facsimile of his lover, keeping the cold body safe from Slayers and demons alike on the faint hope that one day he’d have Xander back? Wasted years, wasted grief for a man who didn’t believe Spike loved him.

Something Drusilla said, years gone by, echoed in Spike’s ears as he wandered aimlessly around the shadowy town. Demons can love well, if not wisely. Never a truer word, luv, Spike thought.

“Spike.” Xander’s voice, soft and low. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Spike stopped walking and looked up towards the sky. Funny how well he remembered this sky. The stars winked down at him, oblique messages from an unknown source. Stay or go? Speak or stay silent? Love or hate?

“Yeah,” Spike answered him. “But you did. ‘S our pattern, innit? Soon as one of us gets close, the other one gives a good shove. Doesn’t matter anymore, does it? You’ll be…gone and I…”

“I love you,” Xander whispered, and for a moment, Spike could almost feel the other man’s arms holding him close. “I want to come back. But, I can’t. Not if my coming back means that someone else suffers.”

“I know,” Spike said. “I know. Miss you, Xander. Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking of you. Loving you,” he added. Time was growing short and if these were his last moments with Xander, he might as well make them count.

“Wow,” a low mocking voice interjected. “There’s enough loser between the two of you to power a whole Star Trek convention. The next thing you know, the violins will start playing and both of you will be wearing dresses. Lucky I was walking by.”

Part Six

“Oh for the love of hell, ” Spike groaned. “Can’t a bloke get a decent bit of mojo any more? Used to be, one little spell’d do the trick. Now it’s all fancy light shows and showy powdered bits but no real power.”

“That’s me?” Xander asked. “Evil me? Huh. Wills was right. Definitely skanky. Wow, who knew?”

Spike laughed, the sound pealing through the wavering outlines of the cemetery. He couldn’t imagine anyone other than a Scooby focusing on their vampiric appearance. It was just such a Xander thing to do that it threw the vampire version into sharp relief. Nothing about the vampire was Xander, and it never would be.

“Too true, luv,” Spike agreed and turned around. Xander stood next to himself, and the differences between them were heightened. Xander’s eyes sparkled with warmth and laughter, unlike the flat malicious glitter that shone out of the vampire. “Still, you have to give him credits for trying. Evil isn’t a look everyone can pull off, after all. “

“Let me guess,” Xander said dryly. “The leather can stay, but he should invest in bleach?”

“Oi!” Spike protested. “Already had my look stolen once. Don’t fancy another look-alike.”

The vampire didn’t speak, didn’t move. He simply stood there, body loose and at ease as they bantered back and forth. Spike admitted to himself that seeing all that power bound up in his lover’s rangy form was intoxicating. Despite the absence of his soul, the vampire was beautiful and in a strange way, more sensually enticing. Spike knew that the lack of soul was freeing. Once you lost your moral compass, you no longer worried about the mustn’ts that troubled the living. Xander without his shining armor was deadly and delicious.

“Uh-oh,” Xander murmured, staring thoughtfully at Spike. “I know that look.”

“So do I,” his vampiric double smirked. “Think he’ll wait for you to turn around before he gives it to me?”

“Nah,” Xander replied easily. “I think he’ll stake you right in front of me. In fact, I’m sort of hoping he will.”

“I go, you go” the vampire pointed out calmly.

Xander snorted, rolling his eyes. Somehow he always figured he’d be cooler as a vampire. This guy was like a cheap B-movie villain. He should have known better. Even his super suave alternate self had ended up as a dork.

“Not much of an issue,” Xander told him. “Willow’s off re-souling Buffy as we speak, so I’m pretty much just killing time waiting for them to kill you.”

“The Slayer lost her soul,” the vampire chuckled. “Now that’s something I’d like to see.”

“No,” Buffy said softly. “I really don’t think you do.”

She and Willow walked over to Spike, standing shoulder to shoulder with the blonde vampire. Spike looked at them, one eyebrow raised. Willow shook her head fractionally, but smiled broadly at Xander.

“A soulless Slayer,” Buffy continued” is a cranky Slayer. She’s mean and hard and she has absolutely no problems with pounding you into an unrecognizable pulp just for wearing her best friend’s face.”

The vampire simply nodded, his flat eyes sweeping her from head to toe. He leapt forward, kicking Buffy’s legs out from under her. As she fell, he dove for her neck, fangs bared. With a sigh, Spike yanked him backwards, hand around his throat and a stake placed directly over his heart.

“Oh yeah,” Xander said smilingly. “That’s my Big Bad.”

Spike smirked at that statement but he didn’t loosen his grip on the vampire. He just looked at Willow, who nodded.

“Xander,” she said softly. “I need you to stand next to him. The spell doesn’t require close proximity, but it doesn’t hurt, either. I do need your consent, though. Do you wish to return to this plane, to re-inhabit your body from now until your meet your final end?”

Xander looked at Spike, and Spike stiffened. He didn’t think he could handle it if Xander answered no. His hand trembled, and he knew that if he couldn’t have Xander back, he’d use the stake on both of them.

“Yes,” Xander finally said, voice firm. “I do.”

Part Seven

Spike watched anxiously, eyes locked on Xander. He had so much he wanted to say, but the words lodged in his throat. How could he explain the mingled joy and regret surging through him? He knew he couldn’t, that anything he said would sound trite, or worse, callous. So he said nothing and just watched.

A low thrum of power built around them, shivering through Spike and the vampire he held in his arms. Red’s power, Spike thought distantly, his body tense and rigid. No matter that she was helping Xander or that he knew she meant no harm. That kind of magic, that amount of power, shook him and made his teeth ache. Inside him, the demon scrabbled and clawed, desperate to escape and the muscles in his jaw ached from holding back the need to fight and flee.

The other vampire wasn’t resisting his demon at all. Spike cursed at the snarling struggling demon, wrestling him into stillness. The scent of need emanating from this facsimile of Xander teased at his senses, and his own tattered shreds of control. Spike could feel the growl rumbling low in his throat, the desire to bury his fangs and his cock in his lover’s body almost driving him mad.

“Gonna be so much fun,” the vampire murmured vindictively, “when I get him back. Think he’ll last a week with me gnawing at him? All that evil festering inside me, the need for pain and blood and screams…Poor Spike. You’ll have to watch him rot and wither, until you finally give him that staking you’ve been dreaming of.”

Spike shook his head, not trusting his voice. Too many conflicting needs fought inside him, too much pent-up grief and lust to be able to fight back now. He concentrated on keeping a firm grip on the vampire, trying desperately to ignore the truth in his words.

How would Xander be able to manage the demon? The memories of what he’d done drove Spike mad, and there were still days and nights of anguish that left him shaking. The thought of his vibrant lover, forced into eternal grief over the actions of this demon…Spike closed his eyes and shook his head. He’d spent the better part of his existence forging ahead, damn the consequences. Too late to change now, too late to back out, because Xander was slowly disappearing; the essence of his lover’s soul gently swirling apart and drifting into the body in his arms.

“I’ve got you,” Spike promised, voice low in Xander’s ear. “I’ll make this right, no matter what. Body and blood, Xan. Yours forever, now. Gonna make it right.”

He stood there, cradling the still cool form until he felt a hand on his arm. His head whipped around, face shifting into the harder, more menacing planes of his demon. He snarled in warning, and the hand retreated.

“Spike,” Buffy said quietly, “we have to go. Now. In another few minutes Sunnydale’s carriage turns back into a big pumpkin crater, okay?”

The words seeped into his consciousness, shaking him from his reverie. He lifted Xander, holding him close to his chest. He noticed Willow, probably collapsed from exhaustion, in the Slayer’s arms and gave a tight smile.

“Just not Sunnydale without wounded, “ he said softly, scanning the ghostly cemetery.

Buffy nodded once, her face hidden in shadow. Now that it was done, and he had Xander safely in his arms, he felt a pang of sorrow for his former lover. This one night had brought her as much grief as the last ten years combined.

“So,” he began, starting to walk away. “you goin’ to share or are we going the usual route?”

“Usual route?” Buffy asked dully.

“You know,” Spike returned, quickening the pace. Sunnydale was beginning to decompose around them, bits and pieces of buildings and people fading from view. “I use my keen insight to tell you things you don’t want to hear, you beat me to a pulp and then admit everything I said was true. The usual route.”

Buffy laughed, the sad and empty sound echoing in the growing emptiness. She shook her head and began to run, Spike hard on her heels. The town was crumbling now, collapsing silently back into the abyss.

They reached the outskirts as the last pieces of Sunnydale disappeared, leaving them standing on the lip of the precipice. Buffy looked back at the now vanished town, and began to laugh. Wild and hysterical, she laughed until tears ran down her face.

“I w-wonder,” she snorted, “if I’ll ever be able to leave that town without having to run for m-my life.”

Spike grinned at that, relieved that whatever had happened hadn’t sent her around the twist. Whatever it was, and he was fairly certain he knew, it would keep. Right now, he had to get Xander somewhere safe, away from the sun that would be rising soon and his friends, who wouldn’t understand what was about to happen to him. Xander was his priority and everything else was just noise.

The End

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