From Out of Nowhere


by
Sukiblue



Part Three

Spike sat cross-legged in the centre of the empty apartment.  He pulled deeply on his cigarette and tenderly stroked the snake that had curled up on his leg.  For two years he had lived in this apartment.  And for two years he had been happy.  Then, three months ago, when he had fallen in love with Alexander Harris, all that had changed.  He was no longer just happy.  He was ecstatic, euphoric, blissful and totally contented.

“Hey, smoking wonder!  You coming anytime soon?  Everyone’s gonna start thinking we stopped for a shag.” Xander stood in the doorway with a big smile plastered across his face.

“And your point is?”

“And my point is that I don’t wanna get accused of shagging, when I haven’t actually shagged.”

“You wanna shag?!?”  Spike asked, surprised and missing the point entirely.

“No, I wanna go.  C’mon Spike, I’m excited, and there’s food at the other end.” Xander had to quash the urge to stamp his foot.

Spike narrowed his eyes. “Cucumber sandwiches?”

All you can eat.”

“Deal.” Spike stood and eyed the box by the door. “That the last one?” Xander nodded and Spike handed him the snake. “Right, you take her.” He picked up the box and paused briefly to place a small kiss onto his lover lips. “Let’s go home, pet.”


~*~*~*~*~


“Ooops.” Xander stared out the windscreen and into the frowning faces of Joyce, Dawn, Willow, Tara, Buffy and Giles. “You think we should have given them the key?”

“I think we shouldn’t have stopped for that shag after all.”

Xander opened the car door and whispered over to Spike. “How does a flat tire sound?”

Spike bobbed his head and tried desperately to clear the smirk from his face. “It’s better than, ‘we stopped the car for a bit of slap and tickle’”

Xander stepped out of the car and waved to his friends. “Hey, guys.  Sorry about that.  We were right behind you and suddenly, from out of nowhere, we get a flat. Would you believe it?”

Willow approached the dishevelled lovers with a grateful smile. “No, but thank you for the lie,” she said, honestly.

“You’re most welcome, Red.” Spike trotted over to Joyce and rubbed his hands together. “Xan says you brought cucumber sandwiches?”

Buffy stepped in front of her mother before she could reply and pointed at the door. “Cucumber later. Door now.”  She grabbed one of the larger and heavier boxes and waited for Spike to comply. The others copied her and Spike unlocked the door, mumbling under his breath.


~*~*~*~*~


Giles glanced around the living room. “Oh! It’s really rather nice.”

“Thanks, G-man.  We like it.” Xander opened the vivarium door and placed the snake gently inside. “And how about you, Isis? You like your new digs?”  Isis waggled her tongue and slithered up one of the many branches in her new and improved home. Xander stared at her for a few moments before he realised that everyone had disappeared. He stood and listened to the laughing and chattering voices that were coming from the kitchen. He smiled softly to himself and walked over to join them.  Home

It had not taken long to move everything inside. Twenty minutes, maybe.  The furniture had already been moved in the daytime and Xander had gone along to supervise. When the removal guys had left, Xander had taken some time to look around his new home. Most of his time had been spent in the kitchen.  It was a slightly old fashioned pine affair, all done out in warm reds, oranges and yellows. A large table stood on one side and Xander had sighed deeply when he thought about all the meals they would share here with their friends.  His own chosen family gathered around the table, talking, laughing and gossiping.  As Xander had wondered around the kitchen, he had spotted an envelope next to the sink; it had his name written on it.  He had sat on top of the counter top and opened the mysterious envelope. What he saw inside made tears well in his eyes.  It was the deeds to the house.  Spike had put both their names on it.  This was not just a house.  It was his home. Their home.

“Yghou guhonna eurhat sourgmitt, ourhr arurghe yghou guhonna sturgh aht iht aurll daurgh?”

“Huh?” Xander shook his head slightly.

Spike swallowed his third sandwich and repeated himself “I said, are you gonna eat something or are you gonna stare at it all day?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. Zoned out.”  Xander leant over the kitchen table and swiped the biggest piece of chicken that he could find.

“So we might as well start the meeting now, we can move to the magic shop if we need supplies.”

“Meeting? Now? What’s up Buff? Aliens landed? Elvis back? Easter bunny attacking small children and goats?”  

“No, Xan. Demon.”

“You do surprise me, Slayer. What’s the deal? What kind of demon do I get to rip to a million bloody pieces?”

Xander grabbed a spring roll and smiled happily at his lover. Spike was at his happiest when either shagging or slaying.  This day must be his idea of heaven.

“No clue. No confirmed sightings. Just lots of confirmed body parts”

“Euww. Human body parts?” Tara had turned seven shades of white and Willow put a comforting hand on her leg.

Xander anxiously swallowed down a cold sausage. “Where?”

Giles adjusted his glasses and answered Xander’s question.  “The park. For the last three nights in a row, the police have been called there.  By the time they arrive, all that can be found are the shredded remains of some poor unfortunate.”

Willow gulped. “Shredded?”

“Yes, torn to pieces. The nature of the attacks would lead us to believe that the perpetrator was some kind of animal and you can bet that is what has been put in the police report.”

“Flying guess here. Not an animal?”

“I very much doubt it, Xander. The bite marks are much too big.”

“H-h-how many people?” Tara was now paler than Spike.

“Five” Buffy stood and stretched. “Anyone fancy a quick patrol?”

They all agreed, some more enthusiastically than others, and Xander turned to face Joyce. “Would you like me to take you home, Mrs Summers? Or you can wait here.  We won’t be long.”

“Aren’t you a dear? I’ll be fine here with Dawn. I’ll clean up while you’re gone and maybe watch a little T.V.”

Xander nodded. He picked up his coat from the back of the chair and smiled to himself.  Everything was perfect. He had his own home, a seriously hot boyfriend who he loved very much and he had his friends all around him.  He did, however, feel a slight tinge of sadness.  He wished his own mother could be more like Joyce, so kind and so caring. He craved that feeling of a mother’s unconditional love. A small sigh escaped him and Spike looked over, knowing instinctively what Xander was feeling.  Spike shoved an axe into his lover’s hand and slung an arm over his shoulders. “C’mon, pet. Let’s go kill something.”


~*~*~*~*~


Spike stalked through the park, his blue eyes sparkling yellow as he picked up the scent of blood and followed it.

“What is it?”

“Blood, pet. Stay behind me and keep quiet.”

Xander obeyed and walked quietly behind his lover.  He glanced nervously around at his surroundings.  The park was dark and deadly silent.  He and Spike were patrolling the north side while the others had split into pairs to search the rest of the park.

Spike hissed under his breath and pulled them both to the ground “Bloody Hell.”

Xander gasped and increased his grip on Spike’s duster. “Oh god.”

A few feet away from the crouching lovers was the body of an elderly man. At least as far as they could tell, it was a man. The body had been ripped to pieces and each part was covered from head to toe in thick, dark, gloopy blood.

Xander whispered into Spike’s ear. “Do you think it’s still around?”

“It must be close, look, the body’s still twitching. Fresh”

“Jesus! Is he still alive?” Xander stood to rush over, but he was roughly pulled back down.

“Not yet! No, of course he’s not alive. It’s just his nerves ‘n stuff going into spasm.  Happens sometimes, just after death.”

Xander nodded his comprehension and swallowed hard.  He was beginning to feel nauseous.

Spike sniffed the air and tried to catch the scent of the demon. Failing, he turned to face his lover. “Bugger. Not a fucking trace of it. It doesn’t make any sense. I should be able to smell it.”

“Maybe it’s gone?”

“Maybe. C’mon, let’s check the body out.  Stay low.”

The two lovers crept towards the body and Xander clutched at his stomach.  He was barely holding onto his dinner. “And just what are we looking for exactly, apart from nasty nightmares and six months worth of therapy?”

Spike and Xander looked down at the mangled body. “Dunno, luv. Clues, I guess. Any thing that can tell us what we’re dealing with.” Spike casually picked up an arm and examined it closely. “My, my. What big teeth you have. Look at that, pet” Spike thrust the mangled arm under Xander’s wrinkled nose.

“Um, yeah, those bite marks are pretty impressive. And for your future reference, I will always just take your word for it.”

Spike shrugged “Whatever you say, luv.”

“Spike?”

“Mmm?”

“What’s that smell?”

“Smell? Oh, well that would be his bowels...”

“Euuww, no! Not that smell.  The other smell.”

Spike sniffed the air. Xander was right. How the hell had he missed that? The smell got stronger and Spike got the feeling that they should be anywhere but here. He quickly pulled Xander to his feet. “We need to find the others.”

“Actually, I think it would be nice if they found us right now.”  Xander pointed to a spot behind Spike and the vampire whirled around to face a wolf like creature.

Spike pulled out a large sword from the holster around his waist and pushed Xander Behind him.  Spike was torn. Send Xander to find the others or keep him in sight.  He opted for the latter. Who knows how many of these creatures were lurking out there.

“Try and stay away from him, pet. Leave him to me, yeah?”

“Not a problem. You go get the bad doggie. I’ll just be over here not getting eaten.”  Xander drew back and placed himself into the area that Spike had gestured to.

Spike adopted a defence position and took a couple of moments to eye up his opponent.  It was a large hairy creature, much like a werewolf.  It was standing upright on its hind legs, and from the way it carried itself, Spike assumed that this creature always walked upright.  Not like the werewolf’s he was used to seeing.  

The uber-doggie stood about eight feet high, towering over him. Stepping forward, it lowered its jaws level with Spike face and growled low in its throat.

“Oooh, language pup.”  Spike said, playfully.

The demon-animal stood motionless, snarling and drooling foul-smelling saliva onto the grass below.

Spike stood his ground. If this creature wasn’t going to make a move on him, then he would return the favour. Perhaps his new furry friend would back down.  It certainly didn’t look like it was in a hurry to tear his head off and Spike was keen to make sure his lover was safe with the others before launching an attack.

The creature locked eyes with Spike and cocked his head.  Spike was certain that he could see an expression of confusion. The demon then looked to a point over Spike’s shoulder and intensified it’s growling.  

With horror Spike realised what the creature was growling at. Xander. It was going to go for Xander.  “Xan, listen to me, babe, and don’t bloody argue. Run. Get back to the van.” Spike heard no movement from his lover and he knew that the boy was hesitating. “Xan! I said run!”

Xander heard the pleading in his lover’s voice and he decided now was definitely another one of those rare occasions where he was best off obeying. Spike would not send him off alone and in the dark without good reason. With the decision made he turned around.  The demon lunged and Xander ran for his life.


~*~*~*~*~


Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

It was dark and Xander suddenly realised that he was lost.  He was exhausted but his arms and legs continued to pump frantically, running on pure adrenaline. Shit. The creature was right behind him now. He could hear the demon’s clawed feet crashing into the ground and he could feel its hot, foul breath on the back of his neck.  Xander used the little remaining strength he had and abruptly changed direction, diving behind a large tree.  The creature, although fast and powerful, was not nimble enough to keep up with the sudden change of route and it struggled to stop itself and pivot around. This bought Xander valuable seconds. He knew Spike must somewhere behind, chasing the creature, and Spike was the only one, out of the two of them, that had any chance of fighting and surviving. Xander ran furiously back the way he had come, ignoring the pain burning in his lungs and his tired legs.

The creature began to gain again, its harsh panting now almost deafening to his human ears. As he stared forward, the bushes began to part. Spike  Xander sprinted towards them, a relieved smile forming over his lips. Oh Fuck.  It wasn’t Spike. From out from the bushes another wolf-demon appeared and Xander barrelled straight into it.


~*~*~*~*~


Spike lost sight of the demon.  Even with his vampiric abilities, he was not fast enough to keep up.  To top it all off, he had also lost its scent. That made absolutely no sense.  The scent should leave a trail.  He concentrated instead on tracking Xander.  He wasn’t far.

As he raced across the park he saw them. Two wolf-demons and Xander. His lover was caught between them, frantically trying to free himself. Mine Spike shifted into his gameface and charged, his feral roar of fury blazing into the sky.

Spike wasn’t sure he had the strength required to knock down one of the demons so he aimed instead for Xander. He connected with his lover at a massive speed and wrenched him away from the creatures clutches, rolling him along the ground. Spike jumped to his feet, he didn’t have time to check Xander’s injuries, the boy was awake and his heartbeat was strong.  That was good enough for now.

Spike immediately went on the attack.  He pulled his sword back out and charged again. The wolf-demon he was aiming for was seemingly distracted.  It did not even look at him, it looked past him.  It was preparing to attack Xander again. Not a chance in fucking hell.  With all his strength and power, Spike plunged the sword deep into the creature’s chest. The demon screamed with pain and thrashed out with its arms, knocking Spike to the floor.

“SPIKE? XANDER? IS THAT YOU?”

The second creature focused on the group of people that were emerging from the other side of the clearing. It took a quick and uncertain look at its injured companion, whined, and disappeared back the way it had came.

Buffy pulled out her own sword and approached the remaining thrashing demon.  Its screaming had hit a high pitched tone and all the humans clutched desperately at their ears. Buffy raced up behind the wolf-demon and forced her sword through its back and into its heart. The creature froze. Its eyed glazed over and it whimpered like a frightened puppy before it toppled silently onto its side.

Spike rushed to his lover and ran his hands over his body.  This was a vampire health check that Xander was very much used to now.  Xander accepted the examination silently, unable to speak.  He was still breathing fast and heavily and his heart was booming in his chest.

“I don’t believe it! Not one bloody scratch.”

Xander could only nod and Spike gathered the panting boy into his arms.  “That Xander Harris luck must be working in your favour for a change.”


~*~*~*~*~


“Oh, Jesus Christ.” Xander threw himself into the couch and stared unhappily around him. “Look at all this.”

Spike looked.  The place was filled with unopened boxes. “Yep, lots and lots of boxes.”

Xander groaned. “You think maybe we should unpack some of them now?”

“Nope. I think we should go to bed.  I’ll unpack them tomorrow while you’re at work.” Spike waggled his eyebrows at the exhausted human. “Wanna christen the place?”

Xander thought hard.  He was tired. The packing had all been done at the last minute and that combined with Spike’s insistence that last night was the last time they would ever be able to have sex in the apartment, meant that Xander had not gotten a whole lot of sleep. Now it was three o’clock in the morning and the evening had been spent, moving boxes, having more sex, being chased across the park by a giant poodle then dragging said poodle to the Magic box.

Xander turned to look into Spike’s hopeful face. “I’m real tired and I’ve got to go to work early tomorrow.” Spike’s optimistic expression turned into a disappointed one and Xander continued. “Sooo, I’m afraid you’ll have to do all the hard work.”

Spike developed a mischievous grin. “Not a problem, luv. Which room do you want to christen first?”

“Hmm. Well, I think we should only christen a room once it has been unpacked. Call it motivation.”

Spike nodded. “So that would be the kitchen, then?”

“Uh-huh”

“And you say you’re tired and I’ll have to do most of the work?”

“Yep”

Spike looked like he was considering something for a moment. “Okay. You asked for it.”

Xander emitted an unmanly squeak as he suddenly found himself being hoisted up and slung over Spike’s shoulder. “Counter-top or table?” Spike asked with a slap to Xander’s rear.

“Table,” Xander commanded.

Spike moved at supersonic speed. Reaching the table, he quickly deposited his lover and began to undress.

Xander pushed himself up on his elbows and watched Spike unclothe himself.  He licked his lips, watching as bit by bit, firm ivory skin was revealed. “Spike,” he whispered. Xander reached out his hand and Spike stepped forward to receive it. Warm fingertips scrapped over a cool chest, meeting and scratching at an appreciative nipple.

Spike gasped and felt his erection grow harder. He leant over the table and claimed a heated kiss. Spike paused to look deeply into his lover’s eyes and he stroked a tender hand across Xander’s flushed cheek. “Love you, Xan.”

“Love you too, Spike. And thank you for the house.”

“You're welcome. And now we’ve got all the tender shit out of the way, I’m gonna fuck you into the table.”

Xander responded to the announcement by grabbing Spike’s arms and pulling him down to join him. He crushed his mouth over Spike’s and sucked on his bottom lip. Nimble hands tore at Xander’s clothes and in a split second his shirt was a pile of torn fabric and his pants were rapidly going the same way. Spike growled as he tore more fabric away and flung his lover’s sneakers across the room.

After what seemed to Spike, like hours, but was actually seconds, Xander was finally naked. He looked down to admire the human that was sprawled across the table. Xander stared back up at him, his eyes wide and his breath fast and erratic. “Spike. Now. Want you.”

Spike whirled around and grabbed his jeans, searching desperately for the small tube.

“Spike,” Xander pleaded.

“Alright, quit your moaning, I’m coming.”

“Not yet, I hope.”

Spike heard the humour in Xander’s voice and he smiled wickedly as he located the tube.

He stalked back towards the table, a look of lust and need enveloping his whole body. “Gonna fuck you ‘till you’re raw, pet.  You ready?”

Xander let a shiver pass through his body.  He was naked and laid out on the table top like a vampire buffet, but he felt no fear. He wanted this.  He wanted the vampire to fuck him into next week and then plunge his fangs deep into his neck. “Ready.”

Spike rushed forward and hurriedly prepared his lover. Xander squirmed beneath him, enjoying the feel of Spike's cool digits inside his tight passage.

Spike climbed onto the table and crawled over Xander’s body, kissing him from belly to lips. Xander desperately kissed him back, his need burning white hot. He clawed blindly about the table top, searching for the tube of lubricant and he groaned with frustration as he repeatedly failed to find it. Spike drew back momentarily; grabbing the small tube and handing it hurriedly to his lover. Xander squeezed a generous amount of the lube into his palm and quickly coated Spike’s cock.

Spike moaned as Xander’s warm hands slid over and over his shaft and suddenly the need to feel his lover impaled onto his cock took over all other thoughts.  He pushed Xander’s hands away and grabbed hold of his legs, pulling them up and hooking them over his shoulders. He positioned the head of his erection at the tight opening and glanced at his lover, seeking permission for entrance. Xander gave it and Spike thrust himself deep inside.

Xander cried out as Spike filled his body. The sensation gave him the feeling total completeness. This was it.  This was what he wanted.  Spike, with him and inside him, forever.

“Touch yourself.”

Xander complied and touched his throbbing erection in long strokes that matched Spike’s thrusts.

Spike looked down, desperate to watch the expressions running across Xander’s face. His lover was panting wildly as he stroked himself and Spike was driven closer to the edge by the sight of the sweating, moaning human that twisted bellow him. He drove hard into Xander’s body, his thrusts wild and almost brutal, and he felt the shudder as a violent orgasm was ripped from Xander’s body.  Spike tensed and an unearthly howl rose and filled the house as Spike’s seed was squeezed from his own body and released deep into his lover. He sunk forward, releasing Xander’s legs and sinking his fangs into Xander’s shoulder.  Mine


~*~*~*~*~


Sated, Spike pulled himself up and rested on his forearms. “You okay, luv?  Did I hurt you?” Spike expression said that if he had he would stake himself on the spot.

Xander smiled and reached up, brushing his fingers through Spike’s blonde curls. “Course not. But you have nearly fucked me into unconsciousness.”

Spike smiled back briefly before putting his thinking face on.

“What is it?”

Spike laughed, the sound hollow in the air. “Just thinking.”

“Thinking what?”

“Just thinking that when I tell you what I wanna tell you, it might be the moment that you get up and walk away from me.”

Xander kept his voice light even though a sliver of fear had crept into his brain. “I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get up right now even if one of those uber-poodles was standing by the sink.”

Spike fixed him with a serious look and Xander brought his hands back up to cup his face. “Tell me.”

“I want you. I need you. I’ll never leave you and I will never let you go.”

“Okay, well good. I want those things, too. What are you worried about?”

Spike took a deep breath. “I want to claim you.”

“C-claim me? What’s that?”

Spike heard the fear in his lover’s voice. “It’s okay, pet.  It’s not like turning. I wouldn’t do that. I love you just the way you are.”

Xander exhaled slowly and felt his fear fade away as Spike’s soothing eyes pleaded with him to believe. “Okay, so what s it?”

“It’s a ritual. Kind of like a marriage. But it would bind us together by blood.  You would belong to me and all other vampires would know that they couldn’t touch you.”

“Like a consort?”

Spike’s eyes widened in surprise. “Yeah! That’s exactly what you’d be. Where did you hear about that?”

Xander shrugged. “I think Giles mentioned it once.  But I don’t really know anything about it, except that a consort is a vampire’s human companion.”

“Well that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s like a branding, pet.  It shows the world that we belong to each other.”

Xander nodded, his brain turning over all the information. Did he really want to be bound to this vampire for the rest of his natural life?  God, yes!  He pulled Spike back down and kissed him thoroughly. “Yes.”

Spike grinned from ear to ear.  He pulled Xander into his arms and rolled them over, draping the warm body over his own.

Xander yawned. “So how does this ritual work?” he asked, sleepily.

“I’ve got to admit, pet, I don’t really know.  Claiming isn’t something that’s done too often.  I’ll call Angel. He’s bound to know.  Bloody pouf knows everything.  And maybe he would perform the ritual for us.”

Spike hadn’t actually lied, he really didn’t know much about the claiming ritual.  However he did know a few titbits and he wasn’t entirely sure that Xander was going to go for it. Still, he would call Angel; perhaps his Sire would know a way round it.

“Hmmm, sleepy” Xander’s eyes slipped closed as he spoke.

Spike looked up at the boy in his arms. “C’mon, luv, Bed time for you.”  Spike more or less carried Xander up the stairs and put him to bed.  After returning to the kitchen, he retrieved a beer from the fridge and lit up a cigarette.  He swigging from the former and picked up the phone to call Angel.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander flung an arm over the bed and was surprised to find a distinct lack of Spike. He rolled over and squinted at the clock. Okay, so only half an hour had passed since he’d begun to drift off to sleep. Spike was probably still on the phone to Angel.

He sat up and pulled the covers around his body.  There was a chill in air and it made him shiver slightly.  It was no good.  He needed to put some pyjamas on.  His legs were positively goose-bumpy. Xander climbed off the high bed and padded over to a box that had ‘Xan’s clothes’ written on it. He rifled sleepily through it and produced a pair of black cotton pyjama bottoms. He tugged them on and eyed himself in the mirror. They weren’t overly baggy, but loose enough to hang nicely off his hips. Spike would approve. With Spike in mind, Xander decided he would go downstairs and interrupt his lover, perhaps give him a loving lick or two while he was yapping with Angel. That would be fun.

Xander turned towards the closed door and heard footsteps approaching on the polished floor boards. With an evil smile, he crept towards the door.  Time to give the big bad a big fright He pressed his ear up against the door and listened.  When the footsteps halted outside, Xander swung the door open and bellowed. “BOO!”

There was no-one there. Xander frowned. He could have sworn he’d heard footsteps. He shrugged at his own apparent stupidity and walked to the bathroom.

Xander emptied his swimming bladder and washed his hands. As he dried them on the hand towel, he heard the footsteps again. He concentrated on the sound; it was slow and steady, not at all like Spike’s normal swagger.  What is that British bastard playing at now? Xander sighed, opened the door and stepped into the hall. “Spike…?”

Xander was confused.   There was no-one there. He listened carefully and could just make out the drone of Spike’s voice.  Spike was definitely still downstairs, talking on the phone. Okay, so now he had the wiggins. He walked back down the hall towards the stairs. He stopped when he reached the closed bedroom door and listened again. There were more footsteps, different footsteps, coming up the stairs, but he could clearly see that there was no-one there. The footsteps rushed in front of him.

Bang

Xander jumped as the bedroom door opened and slammed itself. “SPIKE!”


~*~*~*~*~


“And you’d really do it for us?...Yeah, well, I don’t know if he’ll go for the full ritual.  I’ll have to talk with him. But you’re sure we could do it even without the sex?...I see…uh-huh…uh-huh…Okay, well, I’ll talk to him about that too.  The least I can do is explain what will happen…Yeah?...Hang on a minute would you?”  Spike dropped the phone to his side and stared up at the ceiling, frowning at the footsteps that were going back and forth. What the hell is that bloody brat doing up there? The footsteps stopped and Spike went back to his phone call.

“Sorry ‘bout that, Peaches. Were was we? Oh, yeah. Could you bring the necessary down with you?...Good…Yeah, the party is still on.  Gonna be wild. Cordy coming?...Sure…okay, then...Whatever.” Spike hung up.

Spike was just about to light up another cigarette when he heard light footsteps moving quickly up the stairs. As he moved to find out what Xander was thinking by running about at all hours when he was supposed to be sleeping, he heard a bang loud enough to wake the dead, followed by the cry of his lover.

“SPIKE!”


~*~*~*~*~


“Xan!? Pet.? You alright? What the bloody hell are you doing?”

“Did you hear it?”

“What?”

“All the walking about?”

“Yeah. That was you.”

“It wasn’t! The footsteps went back and forward, then they came up the stairs and the door opened and slammed. I thought it was you…”

Spike put his hand over the boy’s mouth to silence the babble before it spiralled completely out of control. “Wasn’t me, pet”

“I which case, Spike?......I think this house is haunted.”

Spike paused for a moment to mull this over and then come up with a more rational explanation. “…Oh bugger!”


~*~*~*~*~


“So, what’s the verdict, G-man?”

The sun had set and the scoobies had amassed at The Magic Box to discuss the new demon threat. Xander had arrived last after finishing his shift at Pizza Pizza.

“Not entirely sure, is the honest truth. It seems to be a hybrid of some sort.  Willow has examined its DNA.” Giles gestured that Willow should explain.

“Weeelll, from what I can tell it is part werewolf, part domestic canine and part human.”

Most of the room was stunned into silence.

“How the bloody hell did that happen?”  Spike looked up at the ceiling. For fuck sake.  What next? He was just about ready to kick something. This was going to mean an investigation. Spike was happy enough to seek and destroy, but he was not looking forward to the lengthy discussions and debates that would undoubtedly go with it. Spike had enough on his plate what with the ghostly goings on that had nearly scared Xander out of his wits the night before.

Giles crossed the room and leant on the table. “I can only assume that these creatures are man made.”

“Tell me it’s not the initiative, please,”  Buffy groaned as she slowly and repeatedly head-butted the table

“I’m terribly sorry, Buffy, but I think it’s a given.”

Xander grew suddenly alarmed. “Hang on, we’re not gonna break into the initiative again, are we?”

“No, Xander.  We don’t have the necessary recourses for that kind of action.  Willow is going to try and break into their data files with her lap dance thingy.” Xander’s alarm turned into a smirk as Giles flapped his hand at Willow’s laptop.

Buffy stood and started towards the door. “Well I’m not too good with the research thing. Think I’ll just go dog hunting. You up for a fight, Spike?”

“Always, Slayer”

Xander got up to follow them.

“And just what do you think your doing, pet, hmm?”

“I’m coming with you.”

“You bloody aren’t!”

The look of hurt that shot across Xander’s face, twisted Spike’s gut in two. Xander hated being pushed aside; it always brought up that feeling that he wasn’t good enough, that he was weak and that no-one needed him.

Spike touched a comforting hand to Xander’s cheek. “Not just you, pet. Those things are too strong and you humans break so bloody easily. It’s just gonna be me and the Slayer.”  Spike turned towards Buffy. “Right?”

Buffy nodded. “Right.”

Spike knew he had to give Xander something to do. He wasn’t going to let him think that he was needed any less than he was. “Why don’t you go home, babe.” Spike lowered his voice to a whisper. “Keep an eye on the house. We need to work out what’s going on. Do you think could go online and see if you can trace the history of the house?”

Xander whispered back.  “Do you really think it’s haunted?”

“Maybe.  This is a Hellmouth, pet. It could be anything. But let’s go with the obvious theory first, yeah? C’mon. I’ll drop you on the way.”

Xander nodded and grabbed his coat.

“What are you two whispering about?” asked Buffy

Two voices spoke in unison. “Nothing.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander carefully shut the front door, put his keys in his pocket and tiptoed down the hall way.  He stopped halfway and inwardly cursed himself. Why the hell am I creeping about? I’m not the damn ghost.  C’mon, Xan, pull yourself together. Nothing to freak out about. Just be sensible.

Xander gave himself a mental slap and carried on walking normally down the hall and into the lounge.

Moving towards the computer in the corner, Xander looked quickly around the room. So far so good.  No spookies in here. He chuckled softly to himself.  This was just so typical of his life. Can’t have normal friends, got to be a Slayer and some witches.  Can’t have a normal lover, got to be a vampire. Can’t even have a normal house, got to be a fucking haunted house. Xander frowned.  This was his house, his and Spike’s. And there was no way he was going to be driven out by a restless, ghostly, power walker.

Xander waited impatiently for the computer to connect to the internet.  He tapped at some keys and let the search engine do its thing.  After a few minutes of searching, a pop up window revealed a website containing local hauntings and ghost sightings. Xander fiddled with the mouse and his jaw dropped open as a seemingly endless list scrolled up the screen. Oookaaay, need to narrow it down. He spotted a search box and typed the road name into it. As a picture of his house appeared on the computer screen, he heard the clattering footsteps.

Xander stood abruptly and spun around. Calm, Calm, Calm. He slowly edged forward and tried to see into the hallway. “Hello? Anyone there?…Hello?” There was nothing.

Xander fought back his fear and stomped on the feeling that he needed Spike to be here. Nothing to be afraid of. Don’t need Spike to protect me. Got this under control.  He walked over to the door and confidently stepped into the hall.

Unseen footsteps rushed past him and up the stairs.  Xander stared up to the next floor and listened as the scampering feet charged across the landing. One of the bedroom doors opened and slammed. Just like last night.

He shivered; the air seemed suddenly cold and damp. Fear rushed back at him and he took an unsteady step back.

Footsteps. Clonk…Clonk…Clonk

Slow and steady, the footsteps echoed down the hall. This presence felt so different. The fast steps that had passed him earlier had brought feelings of curiosity. These slower, harder steps gave him a feeling that was near to stark terror. Steadily the footsteps climbed the stairs and Xander began to shake.  He was happy to admit now that Spike’s presence was much wanted and needed.  The footsteps walked along the upstairs landing and Xander heard the same door open and close again.

Silence.

Xander stood glued to the spot, completely paralyzed with fear. Something felt very wrong.

A voice. “No, please, no, no, no, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The screamed filled the house, bouncing off every wall. It was all Xander needed rip him from his paralysis. He ran blindly through the main room and skidded into the kitchen, slamming the door behind him


~*~*~*~*~


Buffy stared up at the creature, her weapons scattered about the ground, lost. Hot breath smothered her face.

Spike grinned. “Evening, poodle”

The creature looked at the vampire only briefly before turning back to the tasty human.

Buffy sniffed at the large wolf-like creature, seemingly not bothered by her own impending death. “Euww. Doggy wants a bath?”

The Smelly-poodle dived at the Slayer, its huge clawed arms swiping at the tiny girl. Buffy fell, hitting her back hard against the ground. “Spike! A little help here, please.”

“Oh, so you want my help now.  Five minutes ago it was all I am the slayer, I am the greatest, I can take the wolf all by myself, la la laa” Spike had his hands on his hips and was doing a pretty good impression of Buffy.

Buffy held onto the wolf’s arms and squirmed beneath it. “Spike!”

“Admit you need me.”

“Alright, alright! I need you. Now get you’re un-dead ass over here, now!”

“Pleasure, ducks.” Spike pulled a large hand axe out of his duster and sprinted into the fight. He spun his body in a full circle and landed a powerful kick into the wolf’s chest.  The creature howled with surprise and hooked a clawed paw at the vampire, catching him painfully on the shoulder.

“Fuck.” Spike stumbled backwards, keeping his eyes locked with the wolf’s. The creature stalked towards him, growling and snarling. Its teeth were bared and slick shining saliva oozed and dripped from its jaws. It lunged again, but Spike was quicker this time. He ducked and spun his body around in a crouching position, bringing his axe around and connecting it with a large hairy leg. The creature howled again, its eyes burning yellow with fury.

Buffy scraped herself up from the ground and watched the creature take the blow to its leg. As she stood and steadied herself her foot stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly.

The wolf whirled to face her. Its hackles rose and its claws unsheathed further.  

“Buffy! Run!”

Spike seized his opportunity. The wolf had turned his back on him and was crouched down in the grass, readying to pounce on the fleeing human. Spike jumped onto the creatures back and locked an arm around its neck, hacking the axe into its chest.

The wolf thrashed violently and Spike lost his grip on his weapon. Using both arms now, he squeezed tighter around his victims neck. Spike growled at the incensed creature, feeling anger and rage at the thought that this could have been one of the bastards that had chased and attacked Xander. What if they had hurt his love? What if they had killed him? Spike’s whole body tensed at the thought, his arms squeezing and crushing at the hairy neck. Never. No-one will ever take him away.

Crack

Spike felt the body beneath him go limp and both creature and vampire fell forward into a heap on the floor.

Spike bounced back up and grinned.  He was very pleased at his handiwork. “Two down and Christ knows how many left.” Spike suddenly winced at the pain in his shoulder, he needed to get home and heal himself. He shouted into the darkness. “SLAYER! YOU THERE, DUCKS? C’MON. IV’E PUT THE MUTT OUT OF ITS MISERY. YOU CAN COME BACK NOW” He cocked his head and listened, a small scuffle was taking place in the distance somewhere. Spike concentrated hard. Two human heartbeats. Buffy and another human.

Spike leaned against a tree, lit up a cigarette and waited. A couple of moments later Buffy appeared. Behind her, she dragged a man dressed in military gear. Spike growled. The initiative


~*~*~*~*~


Spike stepped into the hall. He hung his coat on a peg and threw his keys into the table. “Xan?” Noticing that the there was only darkness upstairs, he headed for the lounge and scanned around him.  The light was on and the computer flickered in the corner. Spike sniffed at the air and stiffened as the scent of fear hit him square in the face. Picking up an erratic heartbeat from the kitchen, Spike rushed towards it and flung the door open.

Xander was ready.  As the door swung open, he raised his weapon high in the air and lunged.

“WHOA! Easy there, pet. Just me.”  Spike reached out and caught hold of Xander’s arm.

Xander struggled for a moment before registering that it was his lover that held him. “Spike.”  

Spike let go of Xander’s arm, and folded protective arms around him. “S’all right, luv. I’m here now.” He held him for a few moments before Xander pulled back.  

“Where the hell have you been, Spike?”

“Had some trouble. But we’ll talk about that later. What happened here?”

“They came back. The footsteps.  They went right past me, Spike. There were two. One was running and it went into one of the rooms upstairs and then there was this other one. It walked all slow and it really freaked me out.  I think it followed the first one into the same room, and then there was this awful scream.  It was so loud, I couldn’t think, I didn’t know what to do…”

Xander looked on the verge of a complete mental breakdown and Spike wrapped him back into a tight embrace. “Sssh, luv. It’s ok now.  Calm down. You’re safe.”

Xander took a deep breath and continued.  “I just ran in here and waited. I was so scared that it would come in here.”

Spike’s concern turned into mild amusement as he clocked the weapon that Xander still held tightly in his hands.  “And what were you planning on doing if the ghosts had come in here? fry ‘em some eggs?”

Xander looked down at the frying pan that he still held in a death grip. He suddenly found the humour in his situation. “You think pancakes would have been better?”

Spike chuckled lightly and released the pan from his lover’s grip.  Setting it on the table, he pulled Xander back into his arms and kissed him firmly, taking his time to dominate the warm human mouth with deep lavishing strokes. “Safe, pet.”

Xander nodded and smiled  He did feel safe now. What use Spike would be against a bunch of ghosts, he didn’t know. But he definitely felt better. Frowning, he noticed the wound on Spike’s body and he felt guilty that he hadn’t noticed it earlier. “Spike, your hurt”

“S’nothing” Spike lied.

“It’s not nothing. Go sit down. I’ll get you some blood.” Xander ushered Spike into the lounge and returned to heat up some pig’s blood from the fridge.

Spike sat forward on the couch and carefully removed his t-shirt.  Fuck His shoulder hurt like hell. Xander sat down next to him and handed over the mug of blood.

“Thanks, pet.  You’re a star.” Spike guzzled at the rich fluid, quickly downing it in three greedy gulps. It wasn’t enough. Pig’s blood could barely heal a paper cut, never mind the gaping claw marks that travelled over Spike’s shoulder.

Xander moved closer to the vampire and bared his neck. “You need more. Drink from me.”

Spike hesitated “You sure, pet.”

“Of course, you need it.  I may not know much, but I do know that my blood will help you heal much quicker than that pigs blood crap.”

Spike nodded his agreement and leaned in to his lover’s neck. He shifted into his gameface and carefully sunk his fangs into the soft warm flesh. Spike moaned as the hot blood pulsed over his fangs and filled his mouth. The urge to keep drinking from his lover and never stop was almost overwhelming, but he would stop.  He would never hurt his love, his soon to be mate. After two mouthfuls, Spike reluctantly pulled back and lent his forehead against Xander’s. “Cheers, pet. Much better.”

“Mmmm.” Xander replied dreamily. He hadn’t lost enough blood to hurt him, but it did make him feel a little bit floaty. He looked down at Spike’s shoulder, marvelling as the wounds closed up. It was mesmerising.

“You find anything?”

“Huh?” Xander looked up with a puzzled and slightly dazed expression and Spike motioned towards the computer with his head.

“Oh, um, I don’t know. Maybe. I got kind of distracted.”

“Well, that’s fair.” Spike got up and wondered over to the computer and Xander followed behind.

Spike stared at the computer screen. “Oh that’s just bloody great!”

“What is it?” Xander asked, leaning around Spike for a better look “Shit. That doesn’t look good.”

Spike sat down in the chair and picked out the relevant information. “Justine Brooks, murdered by her estranged husband ten years ago. Chopped her up with an axe, apparently.”

“Nice,” Xander said with sarcastic cheerfulness.

Spike continued. “Previous owner reported strange noises and a ghostly presence. Presumed it to be the woman and her husband. It says ‘ere that the disturbances started in the summer of last year.”

“I’m guessing that’s why they moved out”

“Probably. But don’t you think that it’s strange that all the weird shit only started last year but the woman died ten years ago?”

Xander thought about for a moment. “Yeah, that is weird. Does it say how long the previous owner lived here for?”

“Nah, but I remember that the estate agent said it was about nine years.”

“Okay, that is bizarre. Why would the disturbances only start last year? I really think it’s time for some outside help, Spike.”

“Yeah, maybe we could ask Angel when he arrives. This sort of thing is right up his alleyway.”

“Sound like a plan.”

Spike got up from his seat and circled his arms around his lover. “That’s settled, then.” He kissed Xander deeply and wandered his hands over the boy’s back and over his buttocks.

Xander pulled back slightly. “Your are sooo transparent,” he said with amusement.

“What?” Innocent blue eyes stared not so innocently.

“You are clearly trying to distract me.”

Spike grinned. “Is it working?”

“Yes,” Xander replied firmly. “However, I still wanna know what happened to you tonight. Then I will allow myself to become distracted again.”

Spike nodded and pulled them both onto the couch. He took a deep unneeded breath. “We ran into the initiative.” Spike paused there for the predicted reaction.

Xander’s eyes went suddenly wide. “The Initiative?

Spike nodded solemnly.

Xander was silent as his brain processed the given information and all the possibilities that went with it. “Oh my god! Did they recognise you?  What happened?  Were they in the park? How did you get away?”

“Hey, sssh, baby, calm down. I’m okay, see? There was only one.  He was hiding out at the park.  He didn’t recognise me. So there’s no need to for panic, yeah?”

Xander wasn’t so sure but he nodded anyway. “Tell me what happened.”

“Well, I was finishing off one of our new furry friends and Buffy was running away.” Spike was pleased at the slight look of confusion on Xander’s face. “Next thing I know, the bint is dragging some soldier bloke out of a bush.”

“Are you sure he was initiative?”

“Positive, pet. I can smell ‘em.” Spike narrowed his eyes and a look of hatred crossed his face.

“Did you…Did…?” Xander was worried.  He knew all too well how his lover felt about those bastard soldiers.  He wouldn’t blame Spike if he’d killed the soldier, but that didn’t mean that he had to like it.

Spike knew what Xander was trying to ask. “No, I didn’t.  Couldn’t, could I? Not with her Buffiness watching. Don’t forget, you and Angel are the only ones that know about my chip not working.”

“Yeah, maybe we should tell them about that soon.”

“Maybe, luv.  But not yet, eh? One problem at a time.”

“Sure. Although technically it’s two problems at a time. So, anyway, why was there an Initiative guy in the bushes? Is it something to do with the wolves?”

“’fraid so, pet. Looks like the super-dogs are some kind of experiment. Seems like they escaped from the base and soldier boy was sent to locate them and report back. We don’t know anything more yet.  The fucker was right tight lipped. Red’s gonna look into it.”

Xander sighed heavily. How typical is this? What else could possibly go wrong?


~*~*~*~*~


“Hello, welcome to Pizza, Pizza.  May I take your order? Dad?”

Xander was frozen to the spot. Fear suddenly pulsed through his body.  Bring back the ghost, Osiris, Uber-poodle, anything but this.

Xander had not been back to his parent’s house since around the time that Talzar had been hanging around. He had virtually moved in with Spike as soon as they realised that they shared the same feelings for each other and there seemed no point in going back.  Spike didn’t even mention that Xander should collect some of his stuff from his parent’s basement.  He seemed to understand that Xander had an issue and that he would share it when he was ready.

He hated and feared his father more than any other entity that he had encountered and, if possible, he hated his mother even more.  The woman who had given birth to him, who was supposed to care for him and protect him, instead stood by and watched him suffer years of abuse, sexual, physical and emotional, by his father, her beloved husband.

The man looked up from his menu and fixed his son with a cold, hard stare. He held the freezing gaze for a few moments before abruptly changing to a forced and false happy greeting.

“Son, how have you been?”

“O-okay.” Xander didn’t know what else to say. He glanced briefly at the woman sitting at his father’s side. Not his mother.  He didn’t recognise her.

His father continued staring at him with the false happy expression.  he clearly didn’t know what to say either. Xander wondered if he had just caught his father out. An affair, huh? Not entirely surprised.

“Um, drinks? Can I get you some drinks...If you’re not ready to order yet?”

“Actually, no. I don’t really see anything on the menu that I fancy. I think we’ll just move on.  Good to see you though, son.”

Xander stayed silent as his father ushered the woman out of her chair and hurried her towards the exit. When they reached the door, his father whispered something to his companion and watched her exit the restaurant.

As Xander stood holding his pen and pad as if he was still trying to take an order, his father walked briskly back towards him. The older Harris’ face had now contorted back to its more usual hate-filled expression.  

The older man stopped and stood nose to nose in front of his son. “If you mention to anyone that you saw me, I will hunt you down and snap your fucking neck. Got it?”

Xander nodded his head shakily. “G-got it. I won’t tell.”

Xander’s father only grunted before turning around and walking calmly out of the door.

Xander stood for a moment, shaking and still rooted to the spot. He became dimly aware of another voice coming from behind him.

“Harris? Are you even listening to me?”

“Sorry?...w-what?”

“I said you’re a liability Harris. What the hell did you say to that customer to make him leave?”

“I didn’t say anything. I swear. That was my…”

“I don’t want to hear it, boy. I’m docking your pay for this! Now get your useless, lazy backside out of my sight.”

Xander felt something inside him give way. He didn’t have the strength or the courage to fight his father back.  But there was no way he was going to let this maggot of a man walk all over him.

“Fine.  I will get out of your sight.”  Xander untied his apron and took off his cap. “There is no fucking way I’m gonna work with a fat bastard like you anymore. I am not useless or lazy.  I work a fuck of a lot harder than you ever have.  What exactly is it you do as manager? You can’t even add up properly! You can keep your lousy money and your lousy job. I’m worth more than this. I can make something of myself  What about you? How long have you been doing this crappy job? You’ll never be good enough for anything else!” Xander dropped the uniform on the floor.  He stomped over to the counter and picked up two extra large pizza boxes, containing a barbecue special and a vegetarian that were waiting to go out for delivery. “For services rendered. Fuck you!” He headed out the door and was sure to nearly slam it off its hinges.


~*~*~*~*~


“Hey, guys”

“Xander! You’re early, I must say”

“Yeah,” Xander looked guiltily over at Spike. “I kinda just quit my job...but I stole pizza!”

Spike took in his lover’s flushed and agitated appearance and jumped instantly to his side. “What happened, luv? You alright?”

“I’m fine. I just had a small disagreement with my manager and I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.” Xander shot Spike a look that said there was more to it, but it wasn’t for discussion now.

Buffy took the pizza boxes from Xander. “And you stole pizza on your way out? Well done. You must have read our minds and known how starving we all are.”  Buffy winked at Spike.  She had seen the look and was trying to ease the situation.

Giles sat at the table and folded his arms in front of him. “Well, now we are all here, I think we should all sit down and discuss the matter at hand.  I’m afraid that we have some rather alarming developments. Willow, if you be so kind as to start us off.”

Spike grumbled under his breath, he hoped they could sort out whatever this Initiative mess was so that he could concentrate on the problems going on under his own roof.

Willow grabbed a slice of vegetarian and began. “I managed to hack into the Initiative’s computer system. It seems that the Initiative guy was telling the truth, these creatures definitely are part of an experiment.”

“What kind of experiment? To create a new breed of pedigree? I hate to shatter any illusions, but there is no way one of those things is gonna win best in show or waggiest tail.”

Willow smiled at her best friend.  His ability to make a joke out of anything still amazed her. “It was an experiment to create the ultimate vampire hunter.  A creature that could locate and kill any vampire in the vicinity. Their scent is masked somehow so that vampires can’t detect them until the last minute.”

“That don’t make no bloody sense. When we first came across them, they were more interested in going after Xander than me.”

“Well, apparently the experiment had a few teething problems. They had trouble getting the creatures to actually go after vampires.  They preferred humans.”

“And then what happened? They got bored and put the unwanted puppies in the bin?”

“No.  They were transporting them. There was an accident somewhere around the Sunnydale border and they escaped.”

Buffy got up with her slice of pizza and paced about the room. “Where the hell were they taking them?  Please don’t tell me they have another base.”

“It is a valid question, but one for another time, perhaps? I think we must concentrate our efforts on eliminating the last creature.” Giles looked at the others for confirmation.

Xander’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.  “Last creature? There’s only one more? That’s fab-tastic!”

“Not so fast, eager one. There is a teeny-tiny catch.”

“There always is, Red. C’mon, spit it out, ducks.”

“Well, the two that we saw in park? They really are puppies. And I don’t think mummy is particularly pleased.”

“Fuck! What we dealing with, Red?”

“Um, picture, relatively similar but twice the size.”

Buffy leant on the table. “Where?”

“That’s what we need to find out, Buffy.” Giles replied.

“Where the hell do we start?”

Spike looked over at his lover. Xander sounded tired and Spike wanted nothing more than to take him home, wrap him up and find out what had happened with his job.  Spike was guessing that Xander probably felt guilty for walking out on his job without talking to him first and he was keen to reassure him that it was not a problem. Spike entwined his fingers with Xander’s and gave his hand a comforting squeeze.

Willow thought hard for a few moments. “The files from the Initiative stated that they behave like pack animals. So that means that the parent couldn’t have been far away from its children at any time.”

Buffy nodded. “The park again. Chances are that mummy dearest is still there, searching for her offspring.”

“Right, let’s go then.”

The gang rose from their seats and gathered weapons and numerous magical charms. Xander stayed seated and Spike knelt down to look into his lover’s glum face.

“I take it, I’m not going.”

Spike was torn.  He didn’t want to make Xander feel bad about being left behind, but at the same time, he didn’t want to put Xander in any unnecessary danger. He couldn’t risk losing him. Not for this.

“I’m not going to force you stay. It’s just because I love you so much. So I’m asking you to stay. For me?”

Xander smiled.  He knew that Spike was just worried. Spike didn’t think he was useless or worthless. Spike loved him and he was just trying to protect him.  Plus, Xander did quite enjoy Spike’s fierce protectiveness. Truth be told, it was a bit of a turn on, so why kick against it?

“I’ll stay, for you. Love you.”

“Good. Love you too, Xan”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander watched the gang leave and, under strict instructions from Spike, locked the door behind them.  He walked behind the counter and picked up the broom. Might as well make myself useful.

He wasn’t upset that he had been left behind. It was just because they cared, not because they thought he was useless.  He could see that now. In the last few months that he had been with Spike, his sense of self worth had grown considerably. He still had the odd wobbly moment, but in general he felt a lot stronger.

After sweeping every square inch of The Magic Box’s floor he set about dusting the shelves. As he coughed and spluttered, he wondered how often Giles actually bothered to clean his precious shop. I wonder if Giles could use some paid help around the place.  It was a good thought. Xander only wanted something small and temporary to tide him over while he considered what he actually wanted to do with his life.  He had never considered a career before, but maybe now was the time.

Xander finished dusting the last shelf in the shop and looked up at the clock. An hour had passed. As he pulled himself from his knees he heard a noise coming from behind the front door. He immediately tensed and crept slowly across the shop. He heard another strange rustling sound. Passing by a shelf he picked up a strange shaped skull and held it up like a weapon.  He reached the door, counted to three, and flung it open.


~*~*~*~*~


The scoobies stared around the small clearing. “This was her nest alright, but it doesn’t look like she’s been here for a while.” Giles sagged and looked to Willow for a helpful suggestion.

“Well, she’s trashed the nest, too, so I don’t think she’ll be coming back.”

“Now what? I am not going traipse around all bloody night.”

Giles sighed and glanced at his watch. “Spike’s right. It been nearly two hours and we have searched this park high and low. She’s gone.”

Buffy stamped her foot in annoyance. “Damn it. So where do we look now? Any ideas, Willow?  Where would a mean and nasty pack hunter be hanging out?”

“I can only guess that. Oh, goddess!”

Spike didn’t like Willow’s suddenly alarmed tone. “What?”

“She’ll be looking for her offspring, tracking them.”

“Your point being?” Spike asked with more than a tinge of irritation in his voice.

“My point is that she will be able to trace them, even if they’re dead.”  Willow waited for a reaction, but the blank faces blinking back at her told her that they hadn’t caught on. “The Magic shop!” She squealed. “We took the carcasses back to The Magic Shop.  That’s where she’ll go.”

The others looked at each other and spoke all at once. “Xander.”


~*~*~*~*~


Spike entered The Magic Shop first. The door was hanging off its hinges and he pulled it the rest of the way off on his way through. The others followed closed behind.

“XANDER!?” Spike scanned the shop and noted all the fallen shelves.  His stomach lurched at the thought that Xander could be lying broken and bleeding beneath one of them.  He ran to the first set overturned shelves and lifted them up. Nothing. “XAN! LUV, WHERE ARE YOU?” Spike threw the shelves aside and made his way the next. The shop looked like a bomb had gone off inside it.

“Dear Lord.” Giles trotted to the back of the shop and opened the door to the training room. “Xander? Are you in here?” He turned back to the rest of the group and lifted his arms in the air in defeat.

Tara and Willow appeared from the basement. “N-n-nothing. Although I-it looks like that’s where it c-came in.”

Spike slammed down the last upturned shelf. “FUUUCKKK!”

Buffy approached him cautiously. “Spike? He’s not here. And there’s no…body.” She took an instinctive stepped back at the sudden growl that was thrown at her. “Or blood. I’m just trying to say that maybe Xander wasn’t here.”

Willow stepped up and placed a hand onto Spike’s shaking arm. “Buffy’s right, Spike. I don’t think he was here. We would have found something.”

Spike fixed her with a cold yellow stare. “What if it took him?”

Willow shook her head firmly “No, I don’t believe it. There would be no point. The creature came for her children. She doesn’t know that we burned them. She will keep hunting. If she was hungry, then we would see the evidence of that.”

Spike softened his expression. He wanted to believe the witch. He wanted to believe that he hadn’t insisted on Xander staying at the shop, just for him to be slaughtered by the very thing that they were hunting and that he was protecting him from. “Then where is he?”

“Perhaps he went home.” Giles suggested

Spike turned his back on the watcher and kicked an unidentified piece of merchandise. Why would he go home? He wouldn’t while those bloody ghosts were hanging about. He would have waited for me.

Giles fiddled with the phone.  By pure luck, it was still connected. He handed it to Spike. “Phone home.”

Spike snatched the phone. “He’s not there.” He dialled the number anyway. He didn’t even dare hope that Xander would pick up. He would let it ring for a few minutes, and then he would set out and search for his love.

The phone rang and rang and rang and rang…


~*~*~*~*~


“Would it kill one of you two to get that?” Xander shook his head and ran to the phone. “Xander and Spike’s house of horrors, how may I spook you? Of course it’s me….Um, I love you too…Hey! That’s not nice!...I went home…What are you so annoyed about? I left you a note!...Spike?...Spike?” Xander hung up the phone and turned to Angel. “I think, no. I know Spike’s mad.”

Angel shrugged and grinned. “Well, we all know that.”


~*~*~*~*~


As soon as Xander heard Spike enter through front door, he headed into the hall to greet him and find out why he had called him to, firstly quote his undying love, and secondly to hurl a string of expletives at him.

“Spi...”

Spiked hurled himself through the door and slammed his lover against the wall. “What the fuck did you think you were playing at, taking off like that?  You worried the un-dead daylights out of me, you fucking idiot!”

Xander opened his mouth to protest and suddenly found it filled with a cool, urgent tongue. Spike pressed his body firmly against his lover, seeking to reassure himself that Xander was alive and well. Spike finally pulled back and allowed him to breath. “I’m so glad you left.  I love you so fucking much.  But don’t you ever scare me like that again.”

Xander was still puzzled by Spike's behaviour, but he assumed that something must have happened and Spike had been scared for his safety. “Okay, I’m sorry. I really did leave a note...”

Spike grabbed him and pulled him into a deep embrace. “Don’t be sorry, pet. Just glad you’re alive.  Why did you leave the Magic shop, luv?”

Xander pointed into the living room and Spike wandered in. Angel was sat in the corner petting the snake.

“Angel, man!” Spike stopped suddenly and took a large step back, suddenly noticing the other figure in the room. “And Cordelia. Always a pleasure.”

Cordelia smiled sarcastically. “Hello, Spike”

“You two are a couple of day’s early.  Party’s not ‘til the day after tomorrow.”

“Yes, we know. But I thought that as we have other business to take care of, it would make good sense to get an early start.” Angel winked at Spike and looked over at his jacket that he had slung over the couch.

Xander cocked his head and tried to recognise the strange little tune that radiated out of Angel’s coat. He smiled.  It was the Adams Family.

Angel fished the phone out of his pocket and answered it. “Hello?...Err, Oh hi. Yeah, hang on a minute” He motioned his head towards the kitchen. “I’ll just take this in there.”

Spike and Xander looked curiously at each other and Xander whispered. “Was that my imagination or did Angel look a bit…shifty?”

Spike nodded. “If it is your imagination then it’s mine as well. Cordy? What gives?”

Cordelia waved them over and spoke in a hushed voice. “I think Angel has a love interest. I haven’t been able to work out who it is yet, but give me some time and I’ll get back to you.”

“Uh, guys? Everything alright?” Buffy poked her head around the door. She had been waiting in the van with the others.  None of them had been particularly eager to follow into the house. Spike had gone nearly psychotic and they had debated weather he would be either trying to strangle Xander or trying to ravish him.

“Everything’s fine.” Spike gripped Xander’s hand as though he needed a brief reassurance that everything really was okay.

“Great.  So, same time tomorrow?”

Spike nodded. “Sure. But do us a favour? Do the bleedin’ research. Make sure you know where we’re going, I’m not gonna go running around Sunnydale like a headless bloody chicken. Got better things to do”

“No problemo. Don’t worry Spikey.  We’ll find her and kill her tomorrow...Cordelia! Oh my god!”

“Oh my god!”  

The girls squealed at ran at each other with terrific speed. Xander hopped out of the way just in time and Spike dragged him towards the Kitchen. “I hope Angel’s finished his call, cos we’re going in.”


~*~*~*~*~


Angel had finished his call and he looked up to find Spike and Xander backing their way into the kitchen. Xander flashed him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, Angel.” He pointed back to the living room. “Girlie screaming and possible catching up session.”

“I quite understand,” Angel said as he winced at the sound of more of the said screaming. His face suddenly turned more serious. “What happened tonight, Will?”

“Well, did Xander tell you about the wolves?” At Angel’s slow nod he continued. “We thought the mother was in the park.  We were wrong. She tracked her offspring The Magic Box.  Trashed the bloody place. I thought Xander was still there.” He touched Xander’s cheek, softly.

“There was no-one home, so Cordelia and I went to the shop to find you. We all decided to come back here. Xander really did leave a note.”

“I don’t care about the sodding note! I’m just relieved he got out before the attack.”

“If you’re going hunting tomorrow night, I would love to join you.”

Spike shuffled his feet and looked down at them. “I would appreciate that, Angel.”

“I don’t know if this is the right time to mention this, but have you two discussed the mating ritual?”

“Err, well we haven’t had a lot of time to, you know, discuss the details. Xander and I will definitely talk about it tonight and we can go over things tomorrow.”

“No problem.” Angel glanced quickly at Xander and he didn’t know if he wanted to smirk or feel sorry for him. He certainly had a shock coming. “Anyway, working daylight hours has taken its toll.  I’m going to go and get some sleep.”

“I’ll show you to the spare room.”

Angel followed Xander out of the kitchen and Spike followed them as far as the living room. “Slayer. As much as I adore your company, I have stuff to do. So get out.”

“With pleasure, and I’m taking Cordelia with me. She can stay at my house.”

“Ahh, broken my heart, you have.”

Cordelia missed the sarcasm. “Sorry, Spike.  No offence, but given the choice of catching up with my girls or you. I think I’ll go with the girls.”

“Thank Christ,” Spike muttered under his breath


~*~*~*~*~


“Spike! Not now!”

Spike put on an expression of mock hurt. “You don’t want me, Xan?”

“Of course I want you. But I want to talk first.”

“What about, pet? The weather? The state of the government? The endangerment of California’s native bird species?”

Xander hit him. “The claiming ritual.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, oh. I know you’re hiding something. What is it?”

Spike sighed. “I’m not hiding anything, pet. I’ve just been….picking my moment.”

Xander frowned “So pick it. Now? Oh good, glad that’s settled. Go on, spill it.”

“Well, there are two things really.”

“Colour me surprised,” Xander said with growing agitation.

“Okay, how can I put this? Err, well, okay then. You understand that the ritual basically binds us together?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well, there is a little more to it. We will need and want to keep the bond between us strong. We will need to exchange blood quite a lot.” Spike gripped the tops of Xander’s arms in readiness for a freak out.

“Well, duh! I guessed that. It’s like what we have been doing already, yes? A little biting foreplay?”

“Yeah. But you will eventually crave it, like a drug. It’s not like the bloodlust that I have. You will only crave the blood of the one you are bonded with. Meaning me.”

“I think I can live with that.”

“Hang on, I’ve not finished yet. It will change you. It won't turn you. But it will make you a little different

Xander eyes widened “Different, how?”

“A little stronger, a little faster, a little healthier. It’s only good stuff. I wouldn’t even be entertaining the idea otherwise. You have to believe me, luv, I wouldn’t do anything that could hurt you.”

“I know,” Xander whispered. He curled into Spike’s chest and let the vampire wrap cool arms around him.

Spike looked up at the ceiling and mentally crossed all fingers, hands, arms and legs. Xander had reacted really well so far, but this next bit could be the straw that completely broke the camel’s back and scattered its humps across la la land. “One last thing.”

Spike felt Xander stiffen slightly in his arms. “I really wanted to do the ritual in the traditional way…”

Xander interrupted and placed his hands over his face. “Oh my god! It's sex isn’t it? I have to have sex with Angel?!”

Spike was flabbergasted. “How the hell did you know that?”

“You’re a vampire, Spike. It’s always about sex. Sex and blood. Blood and sex.”

Spike nodded and shrugged. “Yup.”

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, oh my…”

“Xan, please don’t get upset. We don’t have to do it that way.”

“We don’t?”

“No.  Angel said he would do the ritual in any form that we wanted. And there are lots of ways...”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you want me to have sex with Angel?”

“It’s not like that, luv. It’s about tradition. The full ritual is not just about you bonding to me. It’s about you being accepted by my Sire and being accepted into the family. It will bind you to Angel, too”

Xander heard what Spike didn’t say.  It was also about Spike following the old ways and being fully accepted back into the fold by Angel, his Sire. Xander was well aware of the problems that the two vampires had had in the past. This ritual would bond them back together. Family  He would do this. He would do it for Spike, he would do it for Angel, and he would do it for himself.

He turned around in Spike’s arms and sat back. “Okay, we’ll do it the traditional way...”

Spike bounced and Xander pointed a firm finger. “Hang on.  I have some conditions. Angel must be in complete agreement. You will tell me exactly what will happen in this ritual in advance and during the ritual I will be naked for as little time as possible.”

“No problem, pet. That all sorted then?”

“Sorted. Okay, so we talked. Now let’s fuck.”

“Hang on. Not quite believing what I’m about to say, but I want to talk some more, pet. What happened tonight? With your job, I mean?”

Xander looked down at his hands and fiddled with the hem of his t-shirt. “I just had an argument with my manager. He’s always treated me like dirt and I just cracked.”

Spike knew there was more. “And? I know you, Mr Placid.  Something kicked you off.”

“My father came in.”

Spike growled. “He hurt you, pet? Cos if he did...”

“No, he didn’t hurt me.  He wouldn’t”

Spike knew that was lie.

“He just came in for pizza. He didn’t know that I worked there. He had a woman with him.  I think he might be having an affair. Anyway, he didn’t hang around. He left pretty quickly once he spotted me.” Xander decided to leave out the part where his father had threatened him.  He didn’t want Spike to make shredded wheat out of one of his parents. “The whole thing just freaked me out and my manager chose that moment to have a pop.”

Spike was well aware that Xander had left out important parts to the story, but he didn’t want to upset him by pushing him for more information. He would get the truth out of Xander one day; he would find out exactly what his bastard of a father had done to him over the years.

“Well, don’t worry about the job, Xan. You know money isn’t a problem.”

“I know, but I thought I might ask if Giles needed some part time help around the shop, just until I figure out what I wanna do.”

“You thinking of a career change, pet?”

“Possibly. I just think that maybe I could do something more.

“Anything in mind?”

“Dunno, I need to think about it”

Spike pulled Xander back into his chest and smiled secretly. Although his lover might disagree, Xander was very intelligent and Spike was positive that he could follow any career he wanted. A small push and a nudge and maybe I can get Xander to consider college.

Xander looked up with big questioning eyes. “Fuck now?”

“You got it.”


~*~*~*~*~


As the noises from the other room increased, Angel pulled a pillow over his head. It was going to be a long night.

Angel tossed and turned for a good couple of hours. The sex noises from the adjoining room had long since finished, but Angel still could not sleep.  He tried to tell himself that it was the human hours he was keeping but deep down he knew it wasn’t true.

Finally he admitted defeat.  He climbed out of bed and quickly pulled on some loose fitting PJ bottoms. Grabbing his book, he walked out of bedroom.

“JESUS!” Xander bounced off Angel and clutched at his chest. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

“Sorry, Xander.”

“Not to worry. Took several years off me, but never mind. Trouble sleeping?” Xander gestured to the Angel’s book.

“I guess. You know, strange bed, weird hours. You can’t sleep either?”

“Naahh. Too many things going around in my head, Uber-hounds, ghosts.” Sex with you.

Angel nodded and confessed. “Yeah, me too” Relationships … sex with you.

“Shall we go make coffee and be awake together?”

“Sounds, good. Actually I would like to talk to you about this ghost problem of yours.”

“Sure.”

They walked down the stairs together and headed into the kitchen and Xander went back over the spooky goings on that had plagued them since moving in.

“This is our house and there is no way that we’re gonna be driven out.” Xander looked thoughtful for a moment. “Do you think that maybe we need a priest? To, you know, do some sort of circumcision?”

Angel chuckled into his coffee. “I think you mean Exorcism.”

“That’s what I said! So what do you think?”

“I think perhaps not. I’m not convinced that were dealing with a straight forward haunting.”

“What a bloody surprise! Care to enlighten us,  Peaches?” Spike stood leaning against the kitchen door.  His hair was in wild disarray and he was naked apart from a pair of tight boxer-shorts and a cigarette in his mouth.

Spike stalked over to the table and leant down, placing a long sensual kiss into his lover’s neck. Xander muttered a tiny moan at the sensation of Spike’s cool lips and tongue gliding over his hot skin.

Angel suddenly found his coffee most interesting and he desperately tried to fight off the feeling of approaching arousal.  Spike would sense it a mile off.

Finally Spike finished his assault on his lover’s neck. He crossed to the kitchen counter and helped himself to a mug and the pot of coffee, bringing both back over to the table. He topped up Xander’s coffee without asking then held the pot over Angel’s mug. “You want some?” Spike grinned wickedly as his own double edged question, knowing that Angel knew exactly what he meant and that Xander had completely missed it.

Angel didn’t bother to verbally answer the question, he simply held out his mug for the re-fill.

Spike filled his own mug and sat down. “So? C’mon then. Hit us with your theory.”

Angel cleared his throat. “I don’t have a theory yet. But there are just a few things that strike me as odd.”

“Like what?” Xander asked.

“Well, most genuine hauntings are like video clips of the past. Something traumatic happens, someone dies and reality seems to record it.”

Xander rolled the idea around in his head. “Like the stories you hear of ladies in white walking around old houses. They’ve been...photographed?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. I have no idea how it works. I don’t think anyone does really.”

“Yada yada. C’mon, get to the point otherwise I’m gonna die of boredom, and I’ll be coming to haunt you, sugar.”

“My point is that this cannot possibly be a normal haunting. The murder happened ten years ago, yet the disturbances only started a year ago. Plus, the man murdered his wife, which means that, if it was recorded, then we should only be hearing or seeing her. No matter what happened to the husband afterwards, he should not be in the same recording.”

“I don’t get that” Xander turned to his lover for a better explanation.

“I don’t really get it either, pet. But let’s just assume that Angel knows what he’s talking about.”

“Actually, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I just know that something isn’t right.”

“So, shall I go back online and find out what happened to Mr Murderous Bastard after he butchered his wife?”

“Good idea, pet. Go to it.”

“Hang on, one more thing. Spike? Have you ever witnessed any of this when Xander hasn’t been in the house?”

Spike thought hard. “No,” he said finally.

Angel stayed silent as he pondered something.

Xander looked between them, his eyes finally resting on Angel. “Hey! What are you saying? This has got nothing to do with me! It isn’t my fault! What’s the matter you? I didn’t do anything!”

Spike growled at Angel and turned to face his lover. “No-one’s saying anything, luv. Angel was just making an observation. Ain’t that right, Angel?”

“Yes! I wasn’t accusing you, Xander. It’s just that if these things are happening only when you are around, then it may point to other explanations.”

Xander looked at Angel with suspicion. “Like what?”

“Well, for instance, there are some kinds of demons which feed off of human energy and use it to channel their own thoughts into solid forms.”

Spike thought about this. “Do you mean like, if they thought about a bunch of grapes, then they could channel the energy from any humans that were close and the bunch of grapes would become real?”

“Basically, yes. I don’t know for sure, but maybe this could be along the same sort of lines. If there is already a faint trace of a haunting, then maybe the demon is using Xander’s energy to enhance, or maybe even twist it, which would explain why you are hearing the woman’s husband. It’s just a thought.  I need to look into it further. I’d like to go and see Giles tomorrow. I suspect he has some books that could help us.”

“There you go, pet.  Probably just another pesky little demon. S’nothing that we can’t handle.” Spike wasn’t actually quite so sure.  He definitely hadn’t witnessed any demons hanging about the house.

Xander relaxed slightly and Spike put a gentle hand onto Xander’s leg. “Why don’t you go set up the computer.   See if you can find out what happened to the husband?”

Xander nodded, shot Angel a dirty look and walked into the living room.

When Xander had left, Spike hissed under his breath at his Sire. “Nice one, you twat.”

“I’m sorry, Spike. I didn’t mean to upset him.”

Spike knew that Angel hadn’t meant anything. “Yeah, well, the brat can be a little sensitive about stuff.”

“I’ll try to remember that. Have you talked to him yet? About the ritual?”

Spike smiled. “Uh-huh, and we’re all systems go.”

“The full ritual?”

“You bet. He wasn’t sure at first, but he knows how important it is to me to do things all proper like.”

“I’m surprised, Spike. I didn’t think he’d go for it in a million years.”

“Yeah well, my baby is full of surprises.” Spike winked at Angel “You’ll find out.”

Embarrassed, Angel turned away from his Childe and carried the mugs over to the sink. “I should probably talk to him and explain the details. I don’t want to spring anything on him.”

“Good idea, but I wouldn’t bring it up ‘til morning. I don’t think you’re his favourite person right now.”

“I guess not. He overreacted a bit. What’s that all about?”

“Parental issues, I’m guessing. They didn’t treat him too good. He probably got the blame for everything and anything that happened in that twisted family of his.”

“Hmm, I always did get the impression that they didn’t get on.”

“It was a lot worse than you think. I don’t know too much about it, though. Xan is real tight lipped about it all. I’ve got my suspicions, though.”

A dark look crept over Spike’s face and Angel caught the meaning. “You think they abused him somehow?”

“I don’t think, I know. Shh, he’s coming back.”

“He was shot.”

“Shot dead?”

“Uh-huh. Right outside. The neighbours heard a disturbance, a woman screaming, and they called the police.  They arrived just as he was leaving the house. He still had the axe and he was covered in blood. They tried to get him to give himself up, he wouldn’t, and they shot him.”

“So he did die here.”

Angel mulled it over for a moment. “It still doesn’t fit”

“Yes it bloody well does. What’s not to fit?”

“Their spirits could only be caught up together if they died together, and they died separately. This is not a straight forward haunting.”

As Angel spoke, clattering footsteps trailed through the hall and up the stairs.  One of the bedrooms doors slammed.

“Right on cue” Sneered Spike.

Together they trotted into the hall and waited. The air went abruptly cold and damp and Xander started to shiver. Spike pulled him closer and the three of them gazed along the hall.

A ghostly figure materialized. It was a man, dressed in dirty denim dungarees and a tatty striped jumper. In his hands, he carried an axe.

Xander, Angel and Spike stared with part wonder and part disbelief. It was Xander that spoke. “Whoa, this is the first time that we’ve seen one of them.”

The ghostly figure stopped and cocked its head.  It was almost as if the man had heard him speak.  Xander held his breath and gripped tightly to Spike’s arm. The man looked straight through them and then continued on the journey he had taken so many times before.
As the man ascended the stairs, Angel followed.

“C’mon, pet. Let’s wait in here.” Spike dragged Xander back across the room and sat him on the couch.

“But Angel...”

“Can take care of himself,” Spike interrupted.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The scream echoed around the house and Xander covered his ears and screwed his eyes shut. Spike held his lover in an embrace that was both comforting and protective. “S’ok, luv, I’m here. I’ve got ya.”

After a few minutes, Angel re-entered the room. Spike kept hold of his lover and addressed his Sire. “Well? What happened?”

“I saw...I saw the whole thing. I saw him murder his wife.  And the haunting is definitely getting stronger.  It was almost like they were really in the same room. And I swear that guy heard Xander when he spoke.”

Xander looked up at Angel with big glassy eyes. “What are we gonna do?”

Angel looked over at the clock. Three am. “I think...” As he spoke the clattering footsteps, again, went along the hall and up the stairs. “I think we should leave, get a hotel room for the night.”

Angel ushered Spike and Xander out the door, only pausing himself to pick up his car keys and a large old looking wooden box that he had left under the coffee table.

By the time they all climbed in the car, the woman’s screaming rang out again and Xander slammed the car door to block out the sound. Spike turned around in his seat. “Don’t worry, pet. We’ll sort this.”

“How?” Xander said, miserably.

Angel turned around. “I think I’m going to call Giles as soon as we get to the hotel, get him to bring the books to us. We need to deal with this quickly before someone gets hurt.”

Xander felt scared. There was a giant creature with a penchant for human chow mien on the loose plus a murderous ghost that looked like it was going to become living again real soon.

“Stop it!”

“What?”

“Stop worrying, pet. I can hear your brain whirling from here.”

“I can’t help it.”

“I know, luv. But stop it anyway. We’ll sort it, yeah?”

“I hope so,” Xander said softly. He stared out the back window and watched as their house disappeared into the distance. “That’s our house.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander had nearly cried when the hotel receptionist said there was only one room left.  He really needed to talk to Spike alone. Truth be told he was feeling very nervous about the whole ritual thing.  He knew he wanted to do it, but the thought of having sex with Angel was giving him the serious wiggins.  Xander guessed that the box Angel had brought with him contained something to do with the ritual, but he was too afraid to ask.

When they had entered the room, Angel had called Giles straight away and the watcher had promptly delivered the requested books. He had only stayed for a few minutes and that was just to lecture Spike and Xander on the dangers of keeping problems to themselves. Giles left with a promise that after they had located and killed the wolf creature, he would help research the haunting.

Angel sat at the dressing table, leafing through the borrowed books. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Xander sitting on one of the beds. Xander had pulled his knees up and had folded his arms around them.  His whole body was screaming with tension. Angel listened to the noises in the bathroom; Spike had just stepped into the shower. All clear.

“You alright?”

“Sure.”

“We will fix this, Xander. We will get your house back.”

“And the wolf-creature?”

“We’ll fix that, too.”

“Yeah?”

“Of course. We’ve all faced worse. You especially, I suspect.”

“What does that mean?”

“I mean your parents.”

“How do you…? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Angel shrugged. “I don’t expect you to discuss it with me, but you should talk to Spike. He’s not stupid; he knows that things aren’t right.  He’s being patient at the moment, but I don’t know how long it will be before he starts to feel hurt by your distrust in him.”

“I don’t distrust him!”

“What is it, then?”

“I’ve never...I don’t...I can’t...” Xander started to shake and he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

Angel sat on the bed and placed his hand over Xander’s. “Trust him. He’ll never stop loving you, no matter what you have to tell him.”

Xander nodded and attempted a smile. “You think?”

“I know.”

Xander nodded again and when he heard the noise of the shower spray stopping, he wiped quickly at his eyes with his sleeve. They needed a change of subject quickly before Spike came in and realised that he was upset. Unfortunately only one subject came to mind and Xander could have shot himself when it came spilling out of his mouth. “So we have to sleep together, huh?”

Angel’s eyebrows nearly met the top of his head. “Err, Yes.  As long as you still want to.”

“Yeah, it’s important to Spike so I’ll be fine with it.”

“Spike has told you that this is a permanent binding? Once he has claimed you, that’s it.  There will be no going back. You will belong to each other.  Spike won’t let you go.”

Xander gave an involuntary shiver at Angel’s words. He never wanted to be let go.

“That’s okay.  I’ll never let him go either.”

“Too bloody right!”

Xander jumped. “Spike! I really wish you would stop creeping about!”

“Wasn’t creeping. It’s just the way I walk. Sooo, talking about the ritual were we?”

“Yeah...”

“Wanna do it now, pet?

“Now? You wanna do it now?!”

“Why not? Angel’s bought the gear with him.”

“Gear?”

“Yeah, robes…”

“Robes?”

“Is there an echo in here? Yes, Robes, candles, oil, the usual ritual stuff.”

Xander looked up at two pairs of expectant eyes and fought to keep the panic at bay. What the hell. Do it now and get it over with / Get real, you want to do it / I do not / Yeah you do. You want Spike to be yours / Yes, that’s true but you’re gonna have to have sex with Angel / What’s wrong with that? Angel’s hot! / I never noticed. / Liar!

Xander swallowed and struggled for air “I guess now is as good a time as any. I’m gonna shower first, though.”

“Good idea, pet. You do that and me and Peaches ‘ere will set up.”

“O-ok” Xander scrambled off the bed and scampered to the bathroom, snatching a couple of towels on his way.

“Ahh, sweet in ‘e? Embarrasses easily.” Spike’s expression turned serious. “Don’t hurt him, Angel.”

“I wouldn’t. I’m not Angelus. I’ll take care.”

The two vampires stared at each other in silence for a few moments. The sound of the shower spray jolted them and they got to work.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander leant back against the tiles and let the spray of water lash over his body.  He had cleaned him self over at least five times and now he was just delaying.

He wanted to belong to Spike forever and it saddened him that it would not be possible, not in the true sense. Spike, of course would live forever but he was just a mere mortal.  He would be lucky to live another seventy years, and that would only be if he could avoid serious illness or slaughter from anything that crawlled out of the Hellmouth. He wondered how Spike would feel once he was gone. The same as he would feel, probably. Empty, lost, hollow, finished.

He pushed the feelings aside.  There was no point dwelling on something that he couldn’t change. The point was that he wanted to be joined with Spike, claimed, bound and owned. The thought of a kind of binding with Angel was also pleasing.  He really did like Angel.  He held no grudges or bad feelings with him over the whole Buffy escapade. He had grown up immensely since then and so had Angel.

Xander flinched slightly at a light knock at the bathroom door. “Xan? I can hear whirling in there. You okay?”

Xander smiled at the concerned voice of his lover. “I’m fine. Be out in a minute.” He strained to keep the fear out of his voice.  As much as he wanted this, he was still terrified.

Xander stepped out of the shower and dried himself off. He pulled on his jeans and turned towards the bathroom door. Here we go.. He turned the handle and swung open the door.

Xander stood in the open doorway and stared.  Thick black drapes had been hung at the windows and the room was aglow with countless black and red candles. On the dresser there was a small brass pot that smouldered and released a beautiful scent of roses.  It reminded him of Willow’s incense.

The beds had been turned sideways and were pushed against the wall. The middle of the room had been cleared and a rich red coloured rug had been draped over the floor.  In the middle of the floor was Angel.  He was dressed in a long black robe and was sat cross legged in the middle of the rug.  He held another candle in his hands and was muttering softly. Xander could see his lips moving but he couldn’t hear the sounds.

“Is he talking to himself?” Xander whispered.

“He’s just preparing, luv. You ready?”

“I think so.”

Xander took in the robe that Spike was now wearing, long and black just the same as Angel’s. Spike held in his hands a similar robe, but in red. “Come back into the bathroom.  I’ll help you put this on.”

Xander allowed himself to be led into the bathroom and Spike closed the door behind them. “You sure you’re ready, pet?”

Xander noted the expression of hope that was on Spike’s face and it melted his heart. “Absolutely.”

Spike waited for Xander to remove his jeans.  Then he wrapped the robe around his lover’s naked body.  Xander slid his arms in and Spike lifted the heavy front over the his shoulder. He took Xander’s face in his hands and kissed him. “Just remember that I love you. Things might get pretty intense.  If you want to stop at any time just say. I won’t mind.”

Xander started to shake again. “Is this gonna hurt?”

“Maybe, a little. Don’t worry,  luv.  I’ll be with you every step of the way. I’ll take care of you.”

“I know. I’m good.” He let Spike kiss him one last time and then motioned to the door with his head. “Shall we?”

“Lead on, pet”

The two lovers exited the bathroom and Spike closed the door behind them.  Angel was now standing.  He held out both hands and beckoned Xander to him.

Xander looked behind him and found his lover’s gaze.  Spike nodded his approval and Xander slowly walked towards Angel, taking the offered hands with his own.

Angel drew the boy to him and touched gentle hands to his neck. He slowly placed a single kiss on both of Xander’s cheeks before speaking.

“Young one, you seek entrance and alliance to our family. Do you understand that you stand by us as we stand by you?”

Xander knew this included Drusilla and Darla. He wasn’t quite so sure about Talzar. “I understand.”

“You seek binding to my Childe, William, also known as Spike.  Do you understand that this binding is eternal in life and in death?”

“I understand.”

“In your binding to my Childe, you will also be bound to me, Angel, Once known as Angelus.  Do you understand that this bond will also be eternal in life and death?”

“I understand.”

“Then I give my consent.”

Angel pulled away from Xander and turned him to face Spike.

Spike approached eagerly and placed his hands on Xander’s neck just as Angel had done.

“You seek to bind your body and your blood to me as I do to you. Do you understand that you will belong to me as I belong to you for eternity in life and death?”

Xander felt Angel grasp the edge of his robe and flip the train back over his shoulder. “I understand.”

“I seek you as my consort and my mate. Do you consent to this?”

“I consent.”

Angel placed both hands onto Xander’s shoulders and slowly eased the robe from his body.

“I seek to bind you to Angel, my Sire, for protection, comfort and love. Do you consent to this?”

Xander knew Spike did not mean love as in the kind they shared, but love as in what Spike felt for his Sire. “I consent.”

Cool hands soothed rose scented oil over Xander’s back. The hands travelled over his buttocks and down the backs of his legs. The bottle of oil was passed to Spike, and the he poured some into his hand and passed the bottle back. Xander watched, mesmerized, as Spiked massaged the cool oil onto every inch of his skin. He heard a shifting of fabric and became aware that Angel had released himself from his own robe.

Spike pressed his lips to Xander’s and then pulled back, waiting for Angel to begin the next phase of the ritual.

Angel’s hands gripped he tops of Xander’s arms from behind. “I bind you to my body and my blood.”

Xander felt Angel move in and he used every ounce of concentration to relax.

Angel leaned forward and fastened his lips to the back of Xander’s neck.  He rested there for a moment to give Xander time to prepare himself. When he felt Xander’s muscles relax slightly he sank his fangs deep into the soft warm skin and drank.

Xander cried out in pain and Spike held his hands in unsaid support and comfort. Angel drank three large mouthfuls and pulled back. His hands remained on Xander’s arms to support the slightly swaying boy.

Spike dropped his robe, stepped in close, and tilted Xander’s head. “I bind you to my body and my blood. As my consort and mate you belong to me as I belong to you for eternity in life and death.” Spike leant in and bit into the lower part of Xander’s neck, knowing that the binding mark that he would leave, would scar.  Xander would need to hide it from the Slayer for now.

Xander whimpered and he felt his erection spring to life. Spike also took only three mouthfuls before stepping back.

Xander felt dizzy and he wondered if now would be an inconvenient time to black out. He became aware that he was being turned around again, and he caught the flash of a blade in Angel’s hand. Strangely he felt no fear.  These were two vampires that would never harm him.

Angel let the blade slice across his own collar bone and Xander felt an instant hunger at the sight of the ruby liquid that flowed down Angel’s chest. Angel guided his head towards the wound and Xander latched onto it eagerly, gulping down greedy mouthfuls. Spike eventually prised him away, ignoring his week protests.

Suddenly the power of Angel’s blood hit him like a ton of bricks. He swayed heavily and his breath came out in harsh, shaky gasps. Both vampires grabbed at him before he could fall and Xander found himself being lowered to the floor and draped on top of a cool body, Spike.

Spike soothed his hands through Xander’s sable locks, seeking to calm the violent tremors that rippled through his body. The blade was passed and Spike drew it over his own chest. Xander caught the scent of his lover’s blood and he immediately pressed his lips and tongue over the deep cut. He drank more slowly this time, his hunger already sated by Angel’s blood. He sucked in the precious fluid and he allowed each mouthful to sit in his mouth, savouring it before slowly swallowing. Instinct told him this time when to stop and he reluctantly relinquished his hold.

Angel knelt in front of the two lovers. “It is done. We are bound.”

Spike sat them up and turned Xander around again. “Thank you, Sire. My respect and gratitude demands that I offer my consort to you, for your pleasure and feeding.”

“Thank you, Childe. Xander, do you accept this taking?”

Xander squinted at Angel, still feeling dazed from the mixing of blood. “Y-yes.”

Angel pulled him up and kissed him deeply, swirling his tongue inside Xander’s mouth to claim the last of his Childes blood. Xander hung on to Angel’s arms to steady himself and he felt Angel’s slick hand run down his back.  

Gently, Xander was lowered back onto the rug.  Angel opened his legs and knelt between them. He gestured to Spike. “Childe, join us.”

Xander tilted his head around to find Spike kneeling a few feet away from him.

“Yes, Sire. Thank you.” The surprised and awed expression on Spike’s face told Xander that Angel must be bestowing a great honour upon his Childe.

Spike Crawled over to his lover and Sire, and Angel reached forward and captured Spike’s mouth in a searing kiss.

Xander gazed up at the two embracing vampires and he felt his need for them almost impossible to control. He ran one hand over his Spike’s thigh and the other over Angel’s stomach. Both vampires ceased their kiss and looked down at him. Spike leant down and pressed his mouth against Xander’s throat, sucking firmly on the honey sweet skin, while Angel licked long and hard along the Xander’s hard throbbing length. Xander gasped and gripped hold of his lover.

As Angel took Xander deep into his mouth, Spike kissed his lover’s mouth firmly, softening and quietening the frantic cries of pleasure.  Spike looked up and stared at his Sire, the sight of him suckling on his lover making him groan with desire.

Xander had a sudden idea.  He spotted the knife they had used earlier laying on the floor and he stretched an arm out to reach it.  Both Angel and Spike saw him take the knife in his hands and they watched intently to see what Xander was going to do with it.  Xander held the knife to his chest and drew the blade across his skin. As soon as the knife was laid back on the floor, Spike and Angel pounced. Xander’s cry of surprise turned into a heated moan and he arched his back off the floor, pressing his chest further into the jaws of the two Master vampires.

Xander felt cool digits entering his body and he squirmed in an attempt drive Angel’s fingers deeper. The fingers abruptly left his body and he found himself being dragged towards Angel and away from Spike. Xander wasn’t sure that he particularly wanted to protest, but he held on to Spike anyway. Spike shuffled closer and growled a warning at his Sire.

Angel lifted Xander’s hips and the boy wrapped his legs around his waist. Without too much warning, Angel plunged himself into the Xander’s tight hole. Angel was big, as long as Spike, but much thicker, and Xander felt himself being wonderfully stretched to his very limits.

As Angel’s thrusts increased, Xander remembered his lover.  He reached out and gripped Spike’s cock, stroking it in time with Angel’s thrusts.  Both Angel and Spike reached for Xander’s length at the same time and Spike growled at his Sire again.  Angel understood that his Childe needed this contact with his new consort. He took Spike’s hand and placed it onto Xander’s cock, fastening his own hand over the top and setting the pace.

Steady thrusts and strokes increased to a frantic pace and they all moaned and twisted as their simultaneous orgasms were torn from their bodies.  Xander had only a dim awareness of Spike kissing him and Angel sinking down on top of him, before he let his senses give up and he passed out.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander woke to find himself laid out on one of the beds. Spike lay facing him, purring like a contented cat that had just feasted. Xander tried to wiggle closer into his mate and found that he couldn’t. The reason was a long cool arm, not belonging to Spike, fastened around his waist. He wiggled some more before admitting defeat.

“Um, is anyone else awake?”

Two amused voices spoke at the same time. “No.”

Xander felt Angel shift his weight on the bed behind him, and the arm that had been around his waist, released him. Angel placed a chaste kiss onto his shoulder. “You’ll probably be feeling a little wasted for a couple more hours, try to rest.” Angel got off the bed and pulled a sheet over him.

Xander had already closed his eyes, so Spike answered for him. “Cheers, Peaches”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander was not sure how long he slept, but a strangely familiar piece of music jolted him out of his dreamless sleep. The Adams Family.

“Bloody hell, Angel. Couldn’t you have put that sodding thing on silent?”

“Shit, sorry Will!”

Xander half sat up and watched with his head cocked to the side, as Angel attempted to free himself from the other bed. Angel pushed back the covers and scrambled to the end of the bed.  He stepped off onto the floor, but got his foot tangled in the sheets. Angel hurriedly hopped the rest of his way across room, dragging the sheet with him and grabbed his cell phone.

“Err, hello…err, hang on…fuck…shit…damn sheet!” Angel finally managed to untangle his foot. “There, that’s it…err…Hello?”

Spike and Xander looked at each other and stifled their amused laughs.

“Yeah? That’s great!...Oh, I’m not sure, in a few days maybe. I’ve got some other things to take care of.  Oh yeah, it’s all done…I know.” Angel lowered his voice in a gesture that made the others realise that he would prefer to be taking this phone call in private. “I feel the same.  I’ll be back soon…Bye.”

“Sooo, Peaches. Who’s the fancy man?”

Xander interrupted before Angel could speak. “How do you know it’s a man?”

“It was a male voice on the phone.” Spike waggled his ear with his thumb and forefinger “Vampire hearing, pet”

Angel's eyes widened in alarm.

“Don’t panic, Peaches. I could only tell it was a guy.  I couldn’t hear what he was saying...So who is he”

“That’s none of your business!” Angel snapped.

“Hey, he was only asking!”  Xander protested.

“Yeah! I was only asking!”

Angel sighed. He should have expected those two to double team him. “Sorry, Spike.  It’s just that, things with this guy are going really well and I would rather keep things private for now.”

Spike crossed his arms and began sulking.

Angel rolled his eyes and sighed again. “Okay, when we’re ready to tell, you two will be the first to know. There, happy?”

Spike smiled and nodded but Xander put his hand in the air. “Um, I would just be happier if we could eat now.”

Angel chuckled. “No problem. Although it is day now, so we’re going to have to order in.”

“Fine by me.” Spike leaned over his consort and swiped the room service menu. “What you fancy, pet?”

“Anything, as long as it’s hot and there’s lots of it. I think I worked up an appetite.”


~*~*~*~*~


The day passed quickly, and pleasantly.  A lot of food was consumed, mostly by Xander and Angel spent of his time with his nose buried in books.

“You got anything, Peaches?”

Angel looked up only briefly. “Maybe.”

“Care to share?”

“Well...”

As Angel spoke the hotel phone rang and Xander snatched it up. “Hello? Oh hi Buff. What’s happening? Now? You sure? Okay, bring us some weapons, we’ll be right there.” Xander put the phone back down. “Got her. She-wolf has been spotted lurking around that big building site near the mall. We’re gonna meet the guys there.”

They got to their feet and headed out the door. When Angel had stepped out into evening air, Spike stopped and turned back to his lover, pointing a stern finger at him “You stay way back.”

“Got it. You two be the heroes.  I’ll be in the background shouting encouragement. Just call me cheerleader boy.”

Spike kissed his mate. “I’ll have to get you some pom poms, pet.”

“Don’t be kinky.”


~*~*~*~*~


The group stood huddled beneath some precarious looking scaffolding.

“She’s here somewhere. I can’t smell her, but I know.”

“And may I ask how you know, Angel? We’ve trampled around this blasted construction site six times over. I’m inclined to think that we have missed our chance.”

“No we ain’t. Peaches is right. She’s definitely still ‘ere.”

“And what are we waiting for, bleached wonder, is an explanation of how you know. ‘Cos I’m leaning towards agreement with Giles. We are wasting time.” Buffy fixed Spike with a cold stare.  She placed her hands on her hips and tapped her foot on the ground.

Spike grinned back and pointed to her tapping foot. “Because, you single minded twassop, you’ve just trod in her doings.  And it’s still steaming.”

“Euuwww!”  Buffy scrapped her feet frantically along ground. “Great, that’s just great.”

Angel suppressed a smirk and turned to the others. “She knows we’re here and I think she is put off by our number. As fast as we are trailing her, she is moving away in the opposite direction, trying to put as much distance as she can between herself and us.”

“I’m inclined to agree,” Said Giles. “What we need is a way to draw her out”

Tara looked at Giles suspiciously. “What are you thinking?”

Willow answered the question first. “He’s thinking, bait.”

“Yes, quite right, Willow. One of us needs to wander off over there somewhere and hopefully the creature will just assume that they have just somehow become separated. If I’m not mistaken, she would like nothing more than to pick us off one by one.”

“Alright then, I’ll do it.”

Xander was alarmed. “Spike! No you can’t…”

Giles interrupted. “Actually, Xander, you’re right.  Spike can’t. We don’t know if she’ll go for him, particularly with all of us humans in the vicinity.”

Angel was confused. “But I thought the creature was part of an experiment to hunt vampires?”

“Yeah it was, but the experiment had a few problems. They don’t really have too much of a problem with vampires. She’ll fight them if she has to but she’d much prefer a nice fresh human.”

“Thanks for that Willow. So I guess the question is, who is the freshest human among us?” Xander said with his usual humour.

“I’ll do it.”

“No Buffy. Your speed and strength will be required in the ambush and besides, she may sense your slayer status and avoid you.”

“So, who then, Watcher?” Spike had an idea where this plan was going and he didn’t like it one little bit.

Giles felt Spike’s eyes boring into him and he shifted uncomfortably. “I…I think Xander would be our best bet.”

Spike stood toe to toe with the watcher and sneered into his face. “Now, how have you worked that out, ducks?”

Giles stepped back. “Well, err, well, he’s human for a start. And he’s the most ordinary among us….”

Spike growled at the implication.

“I simply mean that, he has no magical powers and he is neither vampire nor slayer.  She will probably track him if he is separated from us.  And besides, aside from you, Angel and Buffy, he is easily the fasted runner.”

All eyes turned to Xander, who stood before them with an expression that could be likened to that of a startled otter. “I guess I could do it,” he said, wanting to help with the problem, but not wanting to send his mate into a state of psychotic rage.

“You bloody well are not doing it!”

“Spike...”

“No! I don’t want to hear it. One of you fuckers do it!”

Angel laid a hand on Spike’s shoulder, part in comfort and part to restrain him in case the younger vampire decided to become murderous. “If Xander wants to do it, then let him. I’m sure Giles knows what he’s talking about. Don’t worry, we’ll all be here to make sure nothing happens to him.”  Angel made sure that Spike took in the look on his face that said that his Sire was prepared to give his life to protect the consort.

Spike looked between Angel, Xander and the other scoobies. “Arrgh, fuck it! Fine. Xan? You want to do this?”

“Yes,” he said, quietly. He didn’t really want to do it, but he also didn’t want to let the others down.

“Then do it. The rest of you look out for him, ‘cos if he gets so much as a scratch, then I’m coming for all of you.”

Chip or no chip, they all believed him.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander shivered. He knew his friends were scattered all about him, but he couldn’t help but be scared.  He hoped for all their sakes that nothing was about to happen to him.  He truly believed that someone would pay for it with their life.

A noise that sounded that like clanking bin lids, sounded behind him and he whirled around to face it.  He squinted into the darkness and tried to make out the shadowed shapes in the distance. Was that the creature or one of his friends? The noise rang out again and he felt his heart rate pick up pace. “S-Spike? Angel?” There was only a deafening silence followed by another clang. Xander jumped and walked backwards, his eyes firmly fixed in front of him.  

Bump

Xander came to a halt as his back hit something hard and hairy. Oh fuck. He didn’t bother to look at what he’d backed into, it was painfully obvious. Instead, he ran. “SPIKE!”

The creature ran after him, snarling and roaring, its arms thrashing out in an attempt to snare him. The third swipe caught his arm and he was spun sideways in the air.  As he fell, Xander caught site of shapes running towards him in the distance.

The creature bared down on him, teeth bared and claws unsheathed and Xander closed eyes and prayed. He would never be able to get away in time.  He just had to hope that his friends were close enough to wrench the creature away.  He heard scrambling feet far in the distance and he realised with a sickening feeling that none of them were close enough.

Xander wasn’t sure exactly what he expected to feel. Agonising pain when his stomach was ripped open and his intestines fell out perhaps? Agonising pain when one or all of his limbs were ripped off? Or perhaps just agonising pain when his throat was torn open and he gasped for breath before he died of massive blood loss?  What he actually felt was a warm, wet spongy thing trailing up his torso, neck and face. He opened his eyes and was appalled to find the creature was licking him, or was that tasting him?  After the non-consensual tongue bath the creature snuffled at him, the force of the inquisitive probe pushing him along the ground. “Urgh, Spike! Help me!”  The creature roared and Xander grasped at his ears to block out the deafening sound.

Then it all happened at one. Angel collided with the creature, only just managing to knock it slightly off balance. Spike rushed in and scooped Xander up with one powerful arm, dragging him, hopefully, out of biting distance.

“Now!” Spike shouted.

A whooshing noise streamed through the air and a giant net opened and encased the creature within it. Spike dragged Xander further back. “Stay!” He rushed forward, pulling a long golden sword from his duster. He reached the creature and plunged the glistening blade smoothly into the creature’s stomach. To his dismay, the mother-wolf barely seemed to notice, she simply carried on trying to claw her way out of the net.

Spike and Angel persisted in plunging their weapons into the creature’s body, it was nearly free from the net now, and both vampires growled in frustration as it refused to fall. If this Initiative experiment had worked then it would have made an interesting challenge to any unfortunate vampire.

“DOWN!” Buffy shouted.

The two vampires threw themselves to floor and listened as several wooden spikes shot through the air an embedded into the creatures face. “UP!” Buffy screamed, and the two vampires jumped to their feet and backed quickly way. The creature had freed herself from the net and was wobbling towards them.

Spike and Angel kept backing up until they met with Xander.  Both vampire’s grabbed Xander and began pulling him back as the creature stumbled forwards. Spike looked to Angel for instruction. “What now?”

“Get Xander somewhere safe.”

“Safe? Where the bloody hell is safe?”

“I don’t fucking know! Anywhere but here!”

Xander tugged on two sets of sleeves. “Um, guys? When you’re done with the cute but annoying vampire spat, don’t you think that we should be avoiding the big fiery thing that’s currently winging its happy way towards us?”

“What…?” Spike looked up. “Jesus, suck me Christ! RUN FOR IT ! ! !” Both vampires ran with vampiric speed, dragging Xander along between them.  In the distance Angel caught site of Buffy and Giles running in the other direction. As he turned his head he also spotted Willow and Tara. They were holding hands and looking up to the sky, their eyes were as fiery as the flaming ball above them, Angel knew at once that they were controlling the flaming sphere and that it was only the creature that was in immanent danger. He screeched to a halt, effectively stopping Spike and Xander in the process. “It’s okay.”

In the distance, Giles and Buffy had also stopped running, obviously coming to the same conclusion as Angel. Everybody was torn between watching the fireball, the creature and the two witches.  Xander had settled on watching the ball.  It soared through the night air at a frightening speed and collided with the oblivious creature with massive force. The resulting explosion brought them all to their knees and the blackness that surrounded them was lit up with an intense orange glow. It was almost beautiful.  Xander clung to both Spike and Angel as he watched the fire burn impossibly bright, before slowly dissipating and leaving only the charred remains of the creature.

Spike gathered his consort into his arms. “It's over, pet. She’s gone. She can’t hurt you now.”

Although Angel was sure that Xander was more than happy to hear Spike’s reassurances, the older vampire knew that his Childe was really reassuring himself. That was fair enough, they had nearly lost Xander, yet again. Angel pondered for a moment why the creature had not killed Xander as soon as he had caught him. Angel had a feeling that it was because the creature could sense the blood of two Master Vampires running through the boy’s veins. Angel hoped that no-one else would question what had happened.  This was not something that should be shared with group for a while. He was pretty sure that the Scooby gang would not approve of Xander binding his life to two vampires.

Willow and Tara wandered over.  

“Wow!” That was incredible, you guys.” Xander heaved himself to his feet with more than a little help from Spike.

“Thank you. Tara and I have been working on that one for while.”

Buffy and Giles arrived and joined in the discussion. “Yes, well, while I admit that that was very impressive, I must say that I am more than a little concerned. That was very powerful magic, and I’m not sure that either of you are ready to be dealing with such dark forces.”

Willow expression was nothing but crestfallen. “But Giles, we’ve been researching it for months and we were really careful.”

“That’s as maybe, but…”

“Arrgh! That’s it, Watcher.  Just shut your fucking mouth for once.”

Xander put a hand on his enraged lover’s arm and attempted to calm him. “Spike, lets not argue.”

Spike yanked his arm away and stalked towards the Watcher. “You can’t ever let anything go can you. Those witches did a great thing, they saved all our lives. And all you can do is ‘ave a go at ‘em.”

“Spike, do calm down.  I think…”

“I don’t want to know what you bloody think. You’re full of shit!”

“Spike, there’s no need…”

“Yes there is a sodding need. You have to be right all the bloody time and you don’t give a fuck about anyone else’s opinion. Bugger the rest of us as long as you get your own way.”

“Please be rational for a moment, Spike, although I realise that must be difficult for someone like you…”

“Go fuck yourself, Watcher.”

“Spike, I really don’t understand what your problem is.”

Spike emitted a terrifying growl and everyone, except Angel, took a large step back. Angel was well aware of the fury that his Childe was feeling and he knew that Spike needed to vent it. So he stayed close enough to snare the angry vampire if he should decide to pounce on Giles.

My problem? MY FUCKING PROBLEM!?” Spike’s eyes flashed a dangerous shade of gold. “My problem is that you always know fucking best. You nearly sent Xander to his death, that’s my fucking problem.”

“It was merely a suggestion, Spike.  Xander made up his own mind.”

“No! You made it up for him. You make the suggestion and you bloody well know that your minions here will follow you. And why? Because, apparently, you know best. Well, I don’t see you putting your arse in the line of fire, why is that?”

“Spike, Xander was the best choice for bait.”

Spike laughed. “Bait? Is that what he is to you? FUCKING BAIT!”

“Of course not! Look, Xander isn’t hurt, so why don’t we all go back to my...”

“What do you mean, he isn’t hurt?” Spike grabbed his lover and pulled him closer. “What the fuck do you call this then, you fucking moron?!” Spike gestured to Xander’s arm and Giles’s eyes widened in alarm.

“Oh Xander, I didn’t notice, I’m so terribly sorry.”

“Enough, Watcher. How could you not notice? He’s dripping blood all over the sodding place!”

Buffy, Willow and Tara dropped their gazes, they hadn’t noticed either. It was Giles that broke the brief silence.  “I really am sorry.”

Spike opened his mouth to assault Giles with another barrage of insults, but Angel silenced him with a firm hand on his shoulder. “Will, stop it. Everyone is tired and this is not the time. Let’s go back to the Hotel.”

“But...”

“No buts. Xander’s arm needs treatment. We can all argue about this later.”

Spike seemed to think about it for a second, before he swung his arm around his consort’s waist. “C’mon, pet. Let’s get that arm looked at.”

Xander nodded solemnly and allowed his lover to lead him back to the van.  Willow and Tara followed behind with Angel and all three of them shot back dirty looks at Giles.

Giles turned to Buffy. “Buffy…”

“I told you that I should have done it.  We were lucky that we got to Xander in time.  If it had been me, then at least I would have had a fighting chance. Xander had none. If it hadn’t been for Spike and Angel then Xander would be dead. And if it hadn’t been for Willow and Tara, then we could all be dead.”  Buffy turned her back on Giles and ran to catch up Spike and Xander.  When she reached them, Spike gave her a surprised smile.

“Cheers, Slayer”


~*~*~*~*~


“Sorry, pet. Nearly done.” Spike lapped at the last cut and pulled away to admire his handy work. He had to admit that when he had declared that Xander was “dripping blood all over the place,” he had been somewhat exaggerating.  The wounds were relatively shallow and thanks to a dose of vampire saliva, the cuts were already healing. Spike leaned forward and kissed the small bump on Xander’s head. “All done, luv. Feel better?”

“Not really.”

“I meant your injuries”

“I didn’t.”

“I know. Look, I’m sorry that I kicked off. But that guy makes me so mad sometimes.”

“He’s not as bad as you made out. He does genuinely think that he’s making the right decisions.”

“Yeah, well. He made the wrong decision tonight. And having a go at the Witches after what they’d done was just bloody rude.”

“Don’t be mad, Spike. Please.”

“I can’t help it.”

“I know you can’t. But at least promise me that next time you see Giles you’ll argue in a less scary sort of way.”

Spike smiled. “I’ll see what I can do. You should get some rest, babe.”

“I’m not tired!”  Xander protested.

Before Spike could argue, there was knock at the door.  Angel put down his book and answered it. “Willow, Tara. Come In.”

“Hi guys. Sorry to burst in. We thought we should come and apologise.”

Three confused faces silently stared.

“For what happened tonight,” Tara explained.

“You’re not the ones who should be apologising.”

“But the magic.  Giles was right, it was dangerous.”

Spike took hold of the tearful witch and spoke softly. “Willow, dangerous it may have been, but you and your girlfriend here were in complete control, any idiot could see that. If hadn’t been for you two, god knows what would have happened.”

Willow was barely holding back her tears and was unable form any coherent words.  She settled instead for trapping Spike in a bone crushing hug.

Tara addressed Xander “Are you okay? Your arm…”

“Don’t sweat it, Tara.  I’m fine. My arm stings a bit and there’s definitely a headache approaching, but apart from that I’m fine.”

Willow let go of Spike and hugged her best friend instead. “Sorry, Xand.”

“Don’t be.  Like Spike says, if it wasn’t for you, things could have been a lot worse.”

Willow nodded and looked up at her friend. “You sure you’re okay? Cos if you’re not and if there is anything I can do to help...”

“Actually,” Angel interrupted. “There is something,”

Willow let go of her friend and stood to attention. “Name it.”

“Did Giles tell you about Spike and Xander’s ghost problem?”

“He did mention it, why?”

“Because I think I know what’s causing it. And if you girls having nothing better to do then may I invite you to join us in sorting it out?”

“S-sure, what do you need?” asked Tara.

“We’ll go back to the house now.  I’ll explain in the car.”


~*~*~*~*~


“So, c’mon Peaches, spill the beans. What we dealing with here?”

“Gritashna.”

“Bless you.”

“No, Xander, It’s a Gritashna. A type of demon.”

Tara frowned from the back seat. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“That’s not surprising. They are very rare.”

“Still not buying the demon theory, ducks. I ain’t bloody seen one hanging around. Have you, pet?” Xander shook his head. “See? You’ve gone off your rocker, Angel.”

Angel sighed at his Childe. “You haven’t seen it because it would have been hiding.”

“And why would it be hiding?” Spike said, still disbelieving his Sire.

“Because it’s frightened. Please believe me when I tell you that it will be more afraid of us than we will be of it.”

“I still don’t understand what this has got to do with our ghosts.” Xander sounded as confused as he looked.

Angel glanced sideways at Xander. “You remember how I told you about ghosts being like photographs or video clips?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Well a Gritashna channels the energy required to make those video clips. Creating a haunting where there should be none or enhancing a haunting that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. It picks up on something that has been faintly recorded already and cranks the pace up, in some cases, twisting the events. It is very powerful creature and its effects can be very dangerous.”

Spike sat up, abruptly. “Dangerous how?”

“The longer it stays in one particular place, the more real these visions will become.  Remember the first time we saw the man from the haunting? He walked right passed us, but when Xander spoke, it seemed to hear him. Well, I think he did hear him, but the energy wasn’t strong enough yet for the ghost to pinpoint where the sound came from. I believe that if this situation is left unchecked then the world that the two ghosts live in will collide with our own. They will be able to see us, hear us and touch us. And considering that one of the spirits is an axe wielding maniac, that would not be good!”

“Heavens!” cried Willow “Why does it do it?”

“I don’t know exactly what triggers it, but the demon is somehow spontaneously created by the presence and energy of a human. And it is also that same energy that brings out and twists a haunting.  That’s why it only happens when Xander is in the house, it's feeding from him. I’m quite sure that it doesn’t actually do it maliciously. It just sort of happens. The demon itself is relatively harmless.”

“Good news at last,  Peaches. So how do we kill it?”

“We’re not.”

“What the fuck?”

“It’s harmless, Spike. I will not allow it to be killed.  We move it.”

“Is that why you need us?” asked Willow

“Yes. We need you two to work a little magic to send it to sleep while I drive it out of town.”

Willow clapped her hands and bobbed up and down in the back seat “Oh. is that all!? I can do that by myself. Easy peasy!”

The car stopped and the five friends got out and stared at the house. “Where is it?” Spike asked.

“I’m guessing the basement,” Angel replied.

“And what exactly does this Gritashna geezer look like?”

Angel only smiled.


~*~*~*~*~


Under strict instructions from Spike, Xander stayed in the kitchen and made the tea. Tara stayed with him.

“Don’t worry, Xander.  Spike and Giles will sort things out. Spike just needs a few days to calm down.”

“Yeah, I guess. I just don’t want there to be any fighting, especially over me.  I don’t want to be the cause of bad feelings and arguments. I got enough of that from my parents.” Xander wasn’t sure why he had confessed that to Tara and he immediately wished he hadn’t.

“I know how you feel.”

Xander looked up, surprised. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. My family were always arguing. They were so mean to each other…and to me.” She finished quietly.

“NOOOOOOOOO!”

Xander and Tara jumped, sloshing hot tea all over the table.

Tara looked up at the ceiling “Goddess!!”

“I know, chilling isn’t it? Thank god it will all be over soon. I really don’t know how much more of this I can take.”  Xander had scurried over to the sink and was searching for a suitable cloth to clean the tea up with.

“Xander?”

“I know, I know.  There’s tea everywhere.”

“XANDER!”

Tara backed across the kitchen and Xander whirled around to face her.  As she backed further away, he saw the reason for her sudden terror.


~*~*~*~*~


“You sure it’s in ‘ere, Peaches. I can’t bloody see it!”

“You’re not looking.”

“I am looking!”

“Then look up.”

Spike looked up and promptly got a face full of goo. “Erghh, Bugger me! That’s fucking disgusting!”

Angel looked up from a safe distance and then looked at Spike. “Yep, that’s disgusting, alright”

“You fucking ponce! You knew that was gonna happen.”

Angel chuckled.

Willow stepped warily closer and grimaced at the site above her. The Gritashna looked like no demon that she had ever seen. It resembled a giant black slimy booger.

The booger squeaked at the people bellow and quickly tried to squelch away from them.

“Oh, no you don’t. Get your slimy arse back here.” Spike circled the demon and waved his arms at it. “Go on, shoo, shoo. Get back in the bloody corner, go on. Hop it!”

Angel started to warn his Childe. “Spike, I wouldn’t do that.  Don’t corner it.  It might...”

Splat

Spike turned slowly to face Willow and Angel.

Willow tried to look anywhere but at Spike and Angel tried to hide a smirk and failed miserably.

“Laugh and I’ll bloody garrotte one of you.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander grabbed Tara’s arm and pulled her behind him. He reached over to the knife block beside him and pulled out a seven inch blade. “Stay away.  Don’t come any closer.” The iridescent figure stepped towards them and its form shimmered under the fluorescent kitchen lights.

“W-what’s it doing?” Tara gripped tightly to Xander’s back and peered over his shoulder.

“I don’t think I want to know.”

It shimmered again and its form became solid. The figure raised its axe and rushed towards them.

“NOOOOOOOO!”


~*~*~*~*~


Spike stood in the corner and sulked. He pulled out his cigarettes from his duster and cursed quietly as he tried to wipe the slime off them. Eventually he gave up and threw them onto the floor.

They all heard Tara’s sudden scream but it was Spike who ran up the basement steps first.

“Willow! Hurry! Put it to sleep!” Angel cried.

“Lulla-bile” Willow quickly spoke the two syllable spell and pointed a finger at the Gritashna. A light green spark danced through the air and connected with the creature. At once it peeled off the ceiling with a repulsive slurp and fell to the floor with a loud squish.

Willow grabbed Angel and together they followed Spike up the stairs.

“Tara! Baby, are you okay?”

She nodded her head shakily and fell into Willows arms “I-it was so real.”

“Bloody good as, ducks.” Spike kept one arm around his consort and pointed to the kitchen counter, where the man’s axe had taken a chunk out.

“What happened?” Angel asked.

“H-h-he came right at us w-with his axe. Gods, if Xander hadn’t pulled me out of the way...”

“He just disappeared,” Xander added. “His axe got stuck in the counter and then, he just disappeared.”

“Willow put the Gritashna to sleep.  It disrupted the energy flow that was feeding the haunting,” Angel explained.

Xander’s eyes widened. “Is it going to wake up?”

“Eventually, but not before we’ve taken it far away from hear. Talking of which, Spike? Would you like to give me a hand?”

“Not particularly,” Spike said, already moving to help Angel anyway. He turned back to face his lover. “You gonna be alright for a while, pet?”

“It is over right? The house is ours again?”

Spike nodded.

“Then, yeah. Hurry back though.  We’ve still got a house warming party to plan.”


~*~*~*~*~


“Spike, we can’t!”

“Yeah we can.  Go on, do it again,” Spike urged.

“Angel’s gonna be mad,” Xander protested.

“No he won’t. He’ll be too drunk to be mad and in the morning he’ll be too hung over. C’mon, pet, do it.”

Xander grinned. “I do kinda want to see what he’s like when he’s really hammered.”

“Oh, luv. You won’t regret it.  He’s so fucking funny.”

Xander’s grin turned evil and he carefully laced another one of Angel’s drinks with a generous helping of vodka.

Angel burst into the kitchen and stumbled slightly to the left. “WAASSUUPPP!” he yelled.

“Your punch, sir.” Xander presented Angel with his drink and took a step back.

“Ahhhh, punches s’very good.” Angel slurped at his drink and re-joined the party.

“I don’t know about hammered,” Xander said, guiltily. “I think that one will finish him off completely.”

“Yeah.” Spike tried to mimic Xander’s guilty expression and failed totally. “Wanna go watch?”

Xander’s guilt filled expressed turned back into a wicked, mischievous grin. “Sure do!”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander and Buffy sat in the corner of the room. Xander was grabbing at his sides to prevent them from splitting and Buffy was on her back with tears rolling down her cheeks.  The source of their attack of hysteria was one 300 year old drunken vampire.

Angel had started to strut his funky stuff approximately five minutes after finishing the last glass of spiked punch that Xander had given him in the kitchen. His strange brand of dancing had begun with a solo version of the hokey cokey and had continued on with the funky chicken and something that appeared to be a musical version of one potato, two potato. Now, he was attempting a sideways tango with a, no longer amused, Spike.

Buffy sat up and wiped her face. Xander’s own giggles subsided and he glanced at Giles standing alone on the other side of the room. His smile turned slightly sad at the thought of the argument that Giles had had with Spike the previous evening. Buffy saw his expression and put her hand gently over his. “They’ll make up.  Don’t worry.”

“Yeah? I hope so.”

Xander looked down at the floor and Buffy searched for a change of subject. “So...Isis. How’s our wiggly friend doing?”

“She’s good.  She seems to like her knew vivarium. Spike built it,” Xander said with pride.

Buffy bobbed her head, obviously impressed. “Has she flashed you yet?”

Xander quirked an amused eyebrow.

“I mean her eyes, you dope. Has she done that blue eyed flashy thing again?”

“I know,” he chuckled. “No. No supernatural activity exhibited.”  That wasn’t quite true, although nobody, not even Spike and Xander Knew it. If the two lovers and Angel had performed their secret ritual in the living room of their house as originally planned and not the hotel room, they would have seen Isis’ eyes glow mystically blue just as the bonding ceremony was completed.

“Ooof!”

“Argh!”

“Bloody poof!”

The room collapsed into fresh hysterics. Angel had slipped on a fruit roll-up and had knocked over a side table, sending a lamp flying up into the air. He’d managed to land on his back and had accidentally pulled Spike down with him. The site of a shocked and grumbling Spike straddling his sire and wearing a wonky lampshade on his head was enough even to cause Giles to spit his drink across the room and choke with laughter.

“Oi! It ain’t bloody funny!”




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