Alternate Reality Bites


Part Three

While Spike gnawed anxiously at his bottom lip, hovering near his partner like a mother hen, Xander answered the zillionth question from Angel and Kyna. “No, it wasn’t a hallucination. It was…. When I have these…things. These visions. It’s like…I am that Xander. Or he’s me. I don’t know.” He groaned lightly and sank his head into his hands.

Spike set a cool palm on the back of Xander’s neck. “Leave him be,” Spike said. “Can’t you see my boy’s knackered? Go off and research or whatever it is you plan to do, but let him get some sleep.”

It was a measure of the potential seriousness of the situation that Angel didn’t argue. He made an unhappy sort of hmph noise instead. “Fine. But if anything else happens—”

“You’ll be the first to know, Peaches.”

Angel and Kyna said good night and left. Spike was right—Xander felt as if he couldn’t possibly move a muscle. But Spike gently undressed him and then almost carried him to the bed. After Spike removed his own clothes, he snuggled up close and sucked lightly on his favorite spot on Xander’s neck. It soothed them both.

“Sorry,” Xander said before he drifted off to sleep.

“For what?”

“I ruined our evening.”

Spike bopped him lightly on the flank. “Berk. ‘T’s not your fault.”

“What if it is? What if I tripped some hex trap or conjured a demon or something? I did before, remember? With the show tunes and the spontaneous combustion?”

Spike sighed. “Pet, everyone makes mistakes. Do you need a recital of a century’s worth of my bollocksed schemes? The Buffybot, for example.”

Xander couldn’t suppress a snort of laughter over that one.

Spike squirmed a little, settling the planes of his body more comfortably against Xander’s. “Whatever it is, we’ll get it sorted. Get some sleep, love.”


Xander gritted his teeth through the tenth pirate joke of the day and tried to resist the urge to punch the customer in the mouth. He had a headache, the type that felt like tiny little men were scraping away at the inside of his skull, and his eye socket itched. The manager had noticed him dragging and had offered to let him go home early, but Xander was out of sick days and he badly needed the pay. So he plastered a smile on his face and imagined using a staple gun on this guy’s bulbous, red nose. “What kind of grout were you looking for, sir? Resin? Epoxy? Cement?”

“How the hell should I know, Cap’n Kidd? You’re the pro, right?”

No, not a staple gun. A nail gun. “What kind of project do you need it for?”

“A tiling project, genius.”

“What kind of tile and where?”

“In the bathroom. And, uh, I don’t know. It’s green and about this big.” He held his hands out to demonstrate.

Xander sighed. “Let’s go visit the tile aisle first, okay? Then I’ll help you with the grout.”

Half an hour later, the guy happily wheeled away a shopping cart full of grout and thinset and tile nippers and spacers and a float and a copy of Tiling for Dummies. Xander glanced at his watch. Great. Only another three hours to go. He turned to make his way to the lumber section where, if he was lucky, he could hide behind the plywood for a while. But he almost bumped into a man who stood there, blocking his way.

“Good Lord! What happened to your face?” the man asked.

And that was enough. Xander couldn’t stand one more shocked look, one more “Ahoy, matey!” Without a word, without even looking at the guy’s no-doubt disgusted face, Xander pushed past the man and took off at a near-run for the employee break room. He was proud of himself. He made it all the way to a bathroom stall before he threw up.


“Xan? Are you there, Xan?”

Xander found himself again blinking up at Spike. This time, though, instead of on the floor of a nightclub, he was huddled on the thick rug beside his own bed. “Ngh,” he said.

Spike looked slightly relieved to have received a response. “Another one, then?”

“Yeah.” Xander tried to pull himself shakily to his feet, but Spike grabbed him and hauled him onto the mattress.

“Still sequential?”

“Yeah. It’s so real, Spike! When I’m there, it’s like…I don’t remember you or...or any of this.” He waved his hands around to indicate their suite, the hotel at large. “I have a whole separate set of memories, and while I’m in these dreams, they’re as clear as my real ones are now.”

Spike sat down beside him and put his arm around Xander’s shoulders. “And now?”

“Now I remember both. The ones from my dream—they’re kind of like this fuzzy overlay. They’re like—”

“Xan? Let’s go tell this tale in front of the others, yeah? So you only have to say it once. Perhaps they’ve dug something useful out of all those books.”

Xander thought that was a pretty good idea. It was hard enough to explain even once, and he didn’t have the energy to do it twice. So he and Spike showered. They didn’t fool around—not even Spike was in the mood—but Spike did shampoo Xander’s hair for him, which was nice. After they’d dressed, Spike steered Xander to the table and insisted that he sit there while Spike made him a sandwich. Spike brought the sandwich to the table along with a glass of milk and a banana and a bag of potato chips. “Gonna cut the crust off, too?” Xander asked, grinning slightly.

Spike just rolled his eyes and heated himself some blood.

Kyna and Angel were downstairs in what had once been the hotel’s office. After the explosion, Xander had expanded that space considerably, turning it into a full-fledged library. Fortunately, most of the books had been stored down in the basement and had escaped damage in the blast. Xander had built a lot of shelves, and then Angel had outfitted the space with a few large tables, two desks, and a bunch of chairs. Spike and Xander didn’t really spend much time in there, generally, but Angel and Kyna seemed to like it a lot. Now they were sitting at one of the tables, looking at a big volume, but they looked up as Spike and Xander entered.

“You find anything?” Spike asked.

“No,” said Angel. “It reminded me a little of Doyle. He had these visions, from the Powers That Be, until he, uh…. And then Cordy had them, but…. Well, anyway, I don’t think this is the same thing.”

Xander ignored the little twinge he felt at the mention of Cordelia and collapsed heavily into a padded armchair. “It’d be stupid to give visions to a one-eyed man,” he said, smiling slightly.

But Spike wasn’t smiling. “He had another one today, while he was asleep.”

Kyna said, “What happened this time, Xander?”

“Nothing, really. More excitement at Home Depot. Just another crappy day, I guess.”

Spike perched on the arm of Xander’s chair and Xander leaned back into Spike’s arm. “Tell them about the memories, love,” Spike said.

So Xander tried his best to explain, and the other three listened closely. When he was finished, Kyna asked, “So now you can recall your dream self’s life?”

Xander nodded. “It’s kind of fuzzy, but yeah.”

“Is it similar to your own?”

Xander frowned, trying to concentrate. It was like when he had a word just on the tip of his tongue but couldn’t quite spit it out. “I think…the early stuff is pretty much the same. I remember—he remembers—Willow and Jesse. His Tony and Jessica were as much a pair of asshats as mine. He didn’t pass seventh grade social studies either. But then…no Buffy. No Buffy, no vampires or demons, no…Hellmouthery.” It was kind of a shock, actually, to almost-recall a fairly normal life.

“What else, pet?” Spike asked softly.

“Jesse still died. Leukemia, sophomore year. Christ. And Willow and I—Willow and he—kind of grew apart. She went off to college, he had a bunch of minimum wage jobs and lived in his parents’ basement.”

“Just like you, Xan.”

“Yeah. Only he blew it when he got a break in construction, and there was no Anya.” He choked out an unamused laugh. “He got laid for the first time when he was nineteen. Some girl at a bar. He never knew her name. He drank…no, he drinks a lot. Like dear old Dad. Thus the general job suckage. He and Willow fell out of touch. He sort of moved around, looking for something better. He hasn’t found it.”

Xander had been staring at nothing, some vague point on the wall. Now he focused his eye and looked at the others in the room. “I could’ve ended up like that, I think. It feels like…like a direction I could’ve gone.”

“The road not taken,” Spike murmured.

“Yeah,” Xander said, and snaked an arm around Spike’s waist. “What I’d be in a world without supernatural stuff. Without you, sweetheart.”

“Maybe that’s it,” Angel said. “It’s another world. An alternate dimension.”

“Like the world without shrimp,” said Xander. The others just looked at him quizzically, and he shrugged. “Okay, let’s say Angel’s right. Why am I suddenly tuned into the Alternate Dimension Channel? And for God’s sake, how can I tune out?”

But nobody had the answers to those questions.

They discussed some possibilities after that, but they were mostly just random speculations. After a while, Xander could feel Spike getting twitchy, and Xander himself couldn’t manage to just sit for much longer. So he didn’t—he stood and then tugged Spike to his feet as well. “Let’s go for a ride, Spike. Or a run. Something. Let’s get out of here.”

“What if you have another…spell?”

“You make me sound like some kind of Victorian maiden aunt. If I do have one, you’ll be right there, won’t you? With…what is it you give people having spells? Smelling salts. What the hell are smelling salts, anyway?”

“Xander, if you collapse again you could be hurt—”

“I could be hurt every time I get on the freeway. But I’m a big boy now—a big werewolf, actually—and I won’t die if I fall down. Besides, I trust you to keep me safe.”

Spike looked like he might be wavering.

“C’mon, sweetheart. I can’t stay cooped up in here forever. You can drive, okay?”

Spike sighed theatrically. “Right, then. But just for a bit, yeah?”

“Fine. We’ll be back before I turn into a pumpkin.”

Xander grabbed Spike’s hand and began to drag him toward the door. Angel had wandered over to the shelves and was perusing them, looking for a particular book maybe. They didn’t seem to be very well organized. Xander wondered what the Dewey Decimal number for alternate dimensions was. Just before Xander left, Kyna called out.

“Xander? Would you mind if I brought in some outside assistance?”

He stopped. “Outside assistance?”

“Yes. Someone who could research the problem as well.”

“And that would be?” asked Spike, protective again.

“I was thinking perhaps Mr. Giles, as he means to visit us anyway.”

Xander thought about it for a moment. It never did hurt to have Giles lending his big brain. “Yeah, okay. Want me to call him?”

She smiled at him, which softened the harsh planes of her face into something almost beautiful. “No. You go have your romp. I’ll ring him myself.”


They took Spike’s GTO. Spike seemed to have a destination in mind, so Xander leaned back into his seat and watched as they flew down the road. “You know, if you’re so worried about my hide, maybe you could slow down to Mach 2.”

Spike snorted dismissively. “Vampire reflexes, love. ‘T’s perfectly safe.”

“You have vampire reflexes. The guy driving that semi over there most likely does not.”

Spike just stepped harder on the gas.

In what felt like no time at all, they’d flown south, all the way down the coast. Spike pulled the car to a stop alongside a state park. “Fancy a run?” he asked.

Xander nodded eagerly. He looked around—there was nobody near—and stripped out of his clothes as Spike pulled off his Docs. Then, ignoring Spike’s leer, he hopped out of the car and shifted. It hurt. It always did. But he’d become faster at it, so the pain was more like ripping off a scab than being flayed, and in any case the pain was always worth it, if for nothing else than the intoxicating mix of scents he inhaled through his long muzzle. Most times when he shifted, his first thought was how he tolerated his senses so dulled in human form: the absence of acute hearing and smelling was like taking his one eye and squinting it nearly closed, then turning off all the lights.

Spike walked over and scratched the fur just behind Xander’s left ear, then that perpetually itchy spot between his shoulder blades. “Ready, pet?”

For an answer, Xander took off running.

A small path led down to the beach. It was twisty, and with the new moon there wasn’t much light to make out obstacles. But now Xander could see almost as well as Spike in the dark, and his balance was better due to a lower center of gravity. He flew down the path in a few heartbeats, then tore across the soft sand until he got to the spot where the high tide had packed the beach nicely. And then he really ran. He loved the way his paws flew over the ground, the claws kicking up little divots of silica. His tongue was lolling from his open mouth and he smelled salt and seaweed and the tiny things that lived under the waveline and something dead and deliciously rotting and smoke from distant fireplaces and pine sap and…and about a million other things, too many to name.

Spike was just behind him, and it made Xander happy to know the vampire was struggling to keep up. Made him so happy, in fact, he put on a burst of speed, pulling many yards ahead, before he turned and looped back and ran in circles around Spike, barking and nipping at Spike’s feet like a puppy. And then he threw all his weight into the back of Spike’s knees and they were rolling together on the beach, growling and biting and panting, and Spike was laughing so hard he kept getting mouthfuls of sand.

After a while they both rested, splayed out against one another and breathing hard. Spike’s fingers combed through the fur on Xander’s flank, and it was so good, so right to be with his alpha like this, that Xander couldn’t contain his happiness any longer and he sprang to his feet.

“Frisky tonight, aren’t you?” Spike chuckled.

Xander took off towards the waves. The water was cold, but his pelt was pretty decent insulation and, in fact, he needed a bit of cool-down after that run. He stood and let the water wash over his legs and then went pouncing off, splashing happily.

Spike was still fully dressed except for his bare feet. He stayed above the waves, watching Xander carefully. With a surge of devilry, Xander leapt out of the water and headed straight for the vampire. Spike tried to run, but he was too late: Xander shook himself mightily, instantly soaking his indignant alpha.

 “Oi! Git!” Spike tried to catch him but Xander was too fast, and they had a wonderful chase up and down the beach until Xander’s muscles began to tire a little and even Spike was looking a little weary.

“Come on, Rover. We need to beat the sunrise home.”

Back up at the car, Xander shifted again. Shivering, he ducked quickly into the passenger seat and pulled on his clothing while Spike started up the engine and cranked the heat all the way up.

“Feeling better?” Spike asked. “We could make a quick stop so you can track down a rabbit, if you like.”

“Nah. I’m good.”

“You smell like fish.”

“Hmm,” Xander said sleepily.

They drove in silence for a while until, in a soft voice, Spike said, “Xan?”


“In that…that other dimension….”

Xander opened his eye and looked over at Spike. “Yes?”

“If there’s nothing supernatural there, well, I was never turned.”

Xander considered this for a moment. “I suppose that’s true.”

“So…I’ve been dead and gone for, what? Eighty years?”

Xander’s stomach lurched. “I guess so.”

“I wonder what became of William Pratt, without Dru.”

“Is that…. I don’t know if there’s any way for me to find out, Spike. I don’t even remember this me when I’m there.”

Spike shook his head slightly. “No, doesn’t matter. I was just thinking about what might have become of you, without me. Perhaps you’d have a normal life, with—”

“No! That Xander’s life sucks, remember?”

Spike shrugged. “His does. But you’re no loser. Without me you’d—”

“Without you, I’d be miserable.”

“You wouldn’t be a wolf.”

“Newsflash, baby: I like being a wolf. It’s cool. But, hell, I’d be a wereslug if it meant I could be with you. I thought we’d pretty much established already that you’re the light of my life. You complete me. You’re…. I’m gonna break into a cheesy love song here, Spike.”

Spike glanced over at him, emotions flickering rapidly across his face. “I don’t deserve you, you know,” Spike said.

“Well, drive a little faster then, sweetheart. When we get home, you can work on earning me.”

Part Four

Xander clicked through a cooking show, past something that involved repotting herbs, and skimmed over about fifteen channels of cartoons and Disney sitcoms. Then he was into the more adult realm. South Park was funny for about five minutes before he got bored. HBO was showing a chick flick, something with Renee Zellweger. Cinemax had soft-core porn, which might have diverted him except it had been so goddamn long since he got any that it was downright depressing. He flipped to the sports channels instead. Tennis. Great.

Over the past few weeks, his head had stopped hurting and the swelling had disappeared. The maddening itch in his empty socket was gone. His bone structure was still off on that side of his face, slightly skewed like something in a funhouse mirror, but Dr. Abrams said it wasn’t dangerous. No, he thought, just ugly. He was back to work full-time, even back to a few beers now and then at the end of the day. He had two hundred dollars saved up so far, which meant he’d be able to afford a new car, oh, sometime in the next century maybe. But that was okay, he was managing. He was getting on with his life.

Only, something was wrong. At first he’d thought it was the accident itself, or having lost an eye. But that wasn’t it. Hell, sometimes now when he was home he could almost forget for a while that he was a Cyclops, until he went to toss a wrapper in the trash and missed because his depth perception sucked, or when he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror.

No, his problem was something else. He felt…off. Like he was missing something, or had forgotten something important. Sometimes he felt like his apartment wasn’t his own, like he was supposed to be someplace else. Sometimes he missed someone so deeply that he thought he might cry. He’d wake up expecting another body to be next to his, arms to be wrapped around him, the solid comfort of a loved one close within reach. But of course it was always just him, and it was stupid to feel that way. He’d never had a loved one. Never dated for longer than a couple weeks. Never had anyone.

Maybe he had damaged his brain after all.

Xander tossed the remote control across the room and didn’t even wince when it made a mark on the white paint, when the plastic fell apart and the battery rolled out onto the floor.

Beer. He was pretty sure he still had some in the fridge. He was just getting up to find out when someone knocked on his door.

His first thought was that the rent was overdue, but no, he’d managed to get that in on time. Jehovah’s Witnesses, maybe. He ignored the knock and went to the fridge, but just as he was reaching for the handle, there was another knock, louder, more insistent.

Crap, he thought. What if the cops had decided to charge him with DUI after all? He sighed resignedly and went to answer.

“Xander!” said the man who stood there.

Xander frowned at him in confusion. The guy was familiar. Tall, thin, a few years older than Xander. Glasses. Dark hair and dark stubble on his chin. A sort of desperate glint in his eyes. “Xander Harris,” he said with an English accent, and then Xander placed him. He was a customer, the guy who’d exclaimed over Xander’s face a couple weeks earlier. There weren’t a whole lot of Brits around here.

“Yeah?” Xander said, confused.

“I need to talk with you. It’s urgent.”

Xander wondered what kind of nut-job this guy was, and how he’d tracked Xander down. He could have got Xander’s name from his name tag, but how did he find the apartment? He must be some kind of deranged stalker.

“Thanks, but, um, I’m kind of busy right now,” Xander said and started to close the door.

The man blocked the door with a surprisingly strong hand. “Please. I’ve been searching for you for…for some time, and I really must speak with you. I need your help.”

“Look, mister, whatever you’re selling, I’m not buying. If you’re trying to get me to convert, well, I’m glad you’ve found Jesus. Tell him hi for me. If you’re looking for some kind of donation, I gave at the office.”

The man shook his head. “It’s none of those. Please, let me in and I can explain.”

“I don’t think so.” Xander repeated his attempt to shut the door, and again the man blocked him.

“My name is Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I’m…well, this is rather difficult to explain. I’m not from here.”

“Yeah, the accent kinda gives that away, man.”

“No, no, I mean I’m not from this…this reality. I was brought here and—”

“Wait. Are you trying to tell me you’re from another planet? Like, ‘Take me to your leader,’ and all that? Or maybe more ‘To serve man.’”

Wyndam-Pryce rolled his eyes. “No, Xander, I’m very much from Earth. Just…another dimension, if you will.”

Xander barked out a laugh. “Well, I won’t. Look, buddy, I’d suggest heading home and asking your doctor to up your dosage of Thorazine, ‘cause what you’ve got ain’t doing the job for you.”

“I’m not a lunatic, Xander!”

“Of course not. Now just toddle on home before I call the cops, okay?”

“Xander, please—”

But Xander shoved hard and managed to dislodge the crazy guy enough to close the door. He quickly twisted the lock and then, for good measure, slipped the chain lock into place as well.

Wyndam-Pryce pounded on the door, yelling Xander’s name, ignoring Xander’s orders to shut up and go away. Xander really was about to pick up the phone when he heard his neighbor’s door slam open. “What the fuck is your problem, dude?” shouted the neighbor. Xander didn’t know his name, but he’d seen him before and he was big and kind of scary-looking. “Shut the fuck up before I tear you a new one.”

To Xander’s relief, the knocking stopped. He heard footsteps going away, then the neighbor’s door shut so hard it shook the wall.

Xander went and fetched that beer, finally—there were two left—and collapsed onto the couch. “That was really fucking weird,” he said out loud. He appreciated the irony of talking to himself to complain about somebody else being nuts. But the really weird part was that, deep inside, he wished he’d listened to Wyndam-Pryce’s story.


This time, Xander found himself in the training room where, the last he remembered, he’d been sparring with Spike. Now he was propped up on a mat with, of course, his anxious vampire kneeling beside him, stroking his face. Xander sat up so suddenly he became dizzy, and Spike had to grab him before he toppled over. “Oi! Be careful!”

“I need to talk to Angel right now!”

Spike looked a little hurt. “He’s in the library, I expect.”

Xander pulled Spike in for a hug. “This one was especially strange, and I think maybe it has something to do with Angel.”

Spike’s face grew stormy as he helped Xander to his feet. “If that wanker has done something to you—”

“Relax. That’s not what I mean.”

Angel was, in fact, in the library, sitting at one of the tables. He had a glass of whiskey in one hand and a small book in the other. Kyna was cross-legged on the floor, peering and poking away at a laptop balanced on her knees.

“He had another one,” Spike announced, and Kyna and Angel looked at Xander with mild alarm.

“Angel, what happened to Wesley?” Xander asked.

Angel goggled at him, clearly taken completely by surprise. Spike looked pretty shocked, too. “Wes? Wesley Wyndam-Pryce?” Angel said.

“Only Wesley I know. He worked for you after he gave up the Watcher gig, right? But didn’t he die?”

Spike could hear Angel swallow. “Yes. Right before the battle. He was killed by a sorcerer.”

“Well, he was there, in Loserxanville. He showed up at my—dammit! At the other Xander’s door, claiming he was from another dimension. The other Xan thinks he’s loco and sent him away.”

“Fuck,” said everyone else in the room.

“Pretty much.”

Kyna called Giles again. Giles was surprised but maybe, she said, not as surprised as she’d have expected. In any case, he said he’d change his and Lindsey’s tickets, and be there in two days instead of the following week.

Xander stayed firmly in his own dimension for that time. Spike wouldn’t let him out of his sight, but that wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing.

The night before Giles arrived, they took a bath together, Spike settling himself between Xander’s legs and up against Xander’s chest. He tipped his head back onto his lover’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “Heaven,” he said.

Xander couldn’t have agreed more. He settled one hand on Spike’s hip and placed the other on Spike’s chest, tweaking lightly at one nipple. “It was kind of weird to see Wesley again. I mean, in retrospect, again. ‘Cause at the time he was just raving lunatic guy.”

“He wasn’t a bad sort, for a Watcher.”

“I still can’t picture him all…heroic-like. Or kinda dark and twisty.” Angel never spoke of his son, but Spike had told Xander the bizarre tale. “When I knew him in Sunnyhell he was a bigger dork than I ever was.”

“He grew up.”

“Yeah. A few apocalypses’ll do that to a guy.”

“Or a vampire,” Spike said, and turned his head to nuzzle Xander’s neck.

“Hmm. And, speaking of growing up….” Xander dropped his hand down to Spike’s groin and began to lazily stroke Spike’s cock. Spike hardened quickly under his touch, and Xander felt his own cock grow and fill. Obligingly, Spike shifted a little so Xander’s cock was nestled comfortably between them, the crown pressing slightly into the cleft of Spike’s ass.

“Why couldn’t life be like this all the time?” Xander asked. “I mean, with the baths and the cuddling and the sex and all the good stuff? Without interdimensional trances or poisonous demon bites or hexes. No hexes of any kind!”

“Without supernatural shite, you mean?”

“No, I want the good supernatural shit. Sexy souled vamp boyfriends.”

“Wouldn’t appreciate the good so much without the bad, pet. Yin and yang.”

Xander wasn’t convinced, but instead of arguing he nibbled on Spike’s pale shoulder. Despite the heat of the bathwater, they both shivered.

“Spike?” Xander said a few moments later.


“What do you suppose would have happened to you—well, did happen to you, in that other world?”

Spike was silent a while, thinking. “Dunno. Might’ve eventually married, I expect. Would have had to find a position of some sort—we were running short of dosh when I died. Perhaps I’d have become a teacher, perhaps even a lecturer at university. My uncle was a bureaucrat; he could have found me a position.” He sighed. “I wouldn’t have amounted to anything much.”

“You wouldn’t have saved the world. But would you have been happy?”

“Maybe. But not as happy as I am with you, love.”

That was enough to satisfy Xander, at least for the time being. He pushed Spike away, ignoring Spike’s indignant protests, and pulled the bathtub plug. He tossed Spike a towel and used another to dry himself. Then they dropped the towels and embraced, kissing and gently biting and sucking on one another’s skin, and groping. Awkwardly, without breaking contact, they made their way out of the bathroom and across the bedroom. Xander fell back onto the mattress as it hit the back of his knees, and Spike toppled right on top of him.

After three years together, Xander still couldn’t believe how lucky he was, how good it felt to have a naked, male vampire squirming over his body, how he’d come to crave Spike the way a drunk craves the bottle.

When Spike dismounted and walked away, Xander nearly whined. But Spike only went as far as the bedside table, from which he produced a bottle of lube. He returned to Xander’s side and then put one foot up on the mattress.

Xander watched raptly as Spike poured a little of the liquid onto his long fingers and reached under himself to push the fingers inside. “Let me,” Xander said, reaching for the bottle.

But Spike moved the bottle away and pushed him back down. “Uh-uh. You just watch now.” Xander did, biting at his lip to stop a moan from escaping as Spike languidly prepared himself. The moan did escape, though, when Spike poured a bit more lube on his palm, tossed the bottle aside, and slicked Xander’s cock with a few firm caresses.

With his tongue curled behind his teeth in the way that he knew always drove Xander wild, Spike climbed onto the bed with his knees straddling Xander’s hips and grasped Xander’s eager cock in his hand, and began to lower himself onto it.

And then he stopped. “You’re not going to go away while we’re shagging, are you?”

“Ew. I most sincerely hope not.”

Spike didn’t exactly look reassured, but he did sink down slowly, deliciously, engulfing Xander’s girth in his tight, silky channel.

“Christ,” Xander said. He moved his hand up, towards Spike’s tempting cock, but Spike batted his hand away.

“I’m doing all the work this time,” Spike said.

“Do I get to participate at all?”

“You get to lie there and watch and think about how fortunate you are to have me.” Spike punctuated his sentence with a slight wiggle that made Xander groan and lose all desire to argue.

And Xander did watch, sort of wishing for the first time in a long while that he had two eyes—all the better to see you with, my dear. Spike moved slowly up and down, flexing his powerful thighs, clenching all his muscles in the very best ways. At first, Spike’s cock bobbed damply against his belly as he moved, but then Spike wrapped one hand around it, using the other hand to help balance himself above Xander. Xander watched, mesmerized, as the red crown of Spike’s cock appeared and disappeared within Spike’s fist, as Xander’s own cock appeared then disappeared into Spike’s welcoming body.

Xander couldn’t stand not touching at all. He placed his hands on Spike’s hips, and either that was okay with Spike, or the vampire was too far gone to notice. Spike bit his own lip so hard that a tiny trickle of blood started down his chin, but he stuck his tongue out and licked it away; a small motion, but one so erotic that Xander groaned and dug his fingertips into Spike’s tender skin. He wished there was some way he could mark Spike as his, just a tiny little scar somewhere, like the pinpricks that dotted Xander’s throat. Maybe Spike would agree to a tattoo, he thought.

Then he stopped thinking at all, as Spike sped his movements and threw his head back, as the bedsprings squeaked and one of the pillows fell to the floor, as Spike swore and cried out and came, his spend erupting over his fingers and his back arching. Moments later, sweet lightning sizzled up and down Xander’s spine and he climaxed as well.

Spike withdrew himself and flopped down at Xander’s side.

“See?” Xander said. “I stayed right here.”


It was not a comfortable gathering. Giles and Lindsey sat on the loveseat. Lindsey’s lower legs were encased in braces, and he had them propped up on the coffee table. His arm was flung around Giles’s shoulders and he looked very smug. Giles, on the other hand, appeared a little uncomfortable with the small PDA. His mouth was clenched tight and his body was stiff and he kept alternating between narrowing his eyes at Angel and looking unhappily at Xander. Angel, meanwhile, was perched in the Punishment Chair—the most uncomfortable chair in the room—glaring at Lindsey and periodically wincing when Kyna dug her fingers into his bicep.

“Sorry, the new suites aren’t quite ready,” Xander said. “You can have ours if you want.”

“A simple room is quite fine, Xander,” Giles said. “I’ve no wish to evict you.”

“Your room has a king-sized bed, anyway. So you two can…um. And we got the elevators fixed. But, um, I guess you already knew that. So if you get hungry, there’s food here in our suite, or we can get you a fridge for yours, ‘cause we’ll be buying one anyway for the new suites. Or you can use the big kitchen downstairs. Or takeout, or, uh, there’s lots of restaurants ‘cause this is LA.” He knew he was babbling, but he didn’t seem to be able to stop.

Mercifully, Spike put his hand over Xander’s mouth. “Let’s skip the nattering, shall we? What’s happening to my boy, Watcher?”

Giles took off his glasses. He looked like he might want to polish them, but he didn’t have a hanky nearby. He put them back on. “Well, we’re not certain, actually.”

“But you have an idea,” Spike said.

“Yes. Some of the members of the Council were documenting the activities and demise of Wolfram & Hart. Lindsey and I were helping. Lindsey, of course, had a great deal of useful information about the firm.”

“Unfortunately,” Lindsey muttered.

Giles patted Lindsey’s leg in a gesture that Xander found very sweet. Giles said, “As we worked, we became aware of some odd…discrepancies. As some of you know” —he looked at Angel and Lindsey—“the firm had many of its employees sign contracts that bound them indefinitely to the firm. Bound them even past death.”

“But Wolfram & Hart is gone. That should have nullified the contracts,” Angel said.

Lindsey answered. “It did. So Lilah, Holland, they’re free, off to wherever naughty lawyers go.”

“What does this have to do with Xander?” Spike demanded impatiently. “He never signed a contract with those wankers. Nor did I, for that matter.”

Giles nodded. “Yes, I know. But Wesley did. And during our research we uncovered some indications that when he was murdered, the firm had him…his soul, I expect…stored somewhere. Somewhere out of the way, where he couldn’t interfere with their plans for Angel. They probably thought that they could bring him back here eventually in some capacity. But you can’t simply stuff a soul into a box of some sort—the person, or whatever was left of him, would go insane.”

Xander was beginning to understand. “So they stuck him in this other dimension and they figured he couldn’t come back until they went and got him.”

“Precisely. As I said, we just recently became aware of this possibility and we’ve been trying to locate him.”

Spike growled so quietly nobody but Xander and Angel heard him. “What the bloody hell does this have to do with Xander?”

Giles frowned. “We attempted to open a communication portal of sorts, between our world and the one where we believe Wesley is. It’s quite a difficult task in the best of circumstances—make a mistake and you’ve created a new Hellmouth—and we were having particular problems in this case. Most likely because that world is without magic, although we didn’t know that at the time. We’d nearly given up. That’s why I was going to come here next week; I wanted to see whether the books you have might be helpful.”

Kyna had been sitting beside Angel, chewing on the end of her ponytail, but now she stood and pointed at Giles. “I see! When you went mucking about with alternate dimensions, you somehow pulled Xander into the mess.”

“I’m afraid so,” Giles said. Xander had to restrain Spike, who growled again and looked ready to leap for Giles’s throat.

“Let’s get some more info before we wreak mayhem on our source, okay sweetheart?” Xander said. Spike glowered but stopped resisting, and instead slumped back in his chair. “Okay, G-Man. So you’ve opened up a chatline with the other side, and it’s kinda sorta working, even though they don’t have magic over there. Got it. But why me? I barely even knew the guy. Haven’t seen him in years.”

“I was thinking about this during our flight,” said Giles.

Lindsey nodded. “Beats the in-flight movies. Twilight and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Ugh.”

Xander was very satisfied to see Giles do that semi-affectionate eye roll at someone other than him. “I believe there are several reasons why the enchantment affected you specifically, Xander,” he said. “It has settled on someone who knew Wesley, someone who the members of the Council knew of. But it wouldn’t work on anyone whose alter-ego is dead in the alternate dimension, so that eliminates Angel and Spike.”

Xander squeezed Spike’s hand, because he still didn’t like to think of him gone. “Fine. But then what about Buffy or Willow? Or Faith—she was his Slayer, for Christ’s sake.”

“I’m not sure. Are you sure that they’re alive there?”

Xander thought. “No. That Xander never met Buffy or Faith, and he hasn’t talked to Will in years.”

Giles nodded. “Your location may also have played a part. Wesley signed his contract here, he died here, he left this plane of existence here. It makes sense that his ties to LA would be particularly strong.”

As Xander pondered this, Spike lurched to his feet, this time managing to avoid Xander’s grab. “Fine, then,” Spike said. “Now that you’ve sussed out what’s going on, disconnect the fucking line and let Xander free!”

Giles didn’t even flinch. He’d probably been the target of Spike’s tantrums too often. He looked Xander straight in the eye. “I believe we can break off communication, although it won’t be simple. But the connection between the worlds can only be made once. If we end it now, Wesley will be trapped there permanently.”

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