Amends, Friendship and Moving On


by
Xandercordy1



Part Nineteen

“Samantha is it?” Xander asked and the vampire nodded. “Take a hike.”

“I don’t take orders from humans.”

“Didn’t ask, did I? Get lost.” Xander twirled his stake, his brown eyes flashing. Samantha tried to rise but Spike put his hand on her leg, pushing her back down and stroking it for good measure. Just because he didn’t want the bint didn’t mean Xander had to know that.

“Don’t worry about him, luv. He’s annoying but his bark is worse than his bite.” Samantha and some of the other vampires laughed at Xander who was giving Spike a dirty look.

“Spike, let me pay Willy, you can grab your JD and we can get the hell out of here before you do something you might regret later.”

“Not going anywhere, especially with you, you sodding wanker. And anything I do I will not regret.”

“Not if you do it with me.“ Samantha cooed, running her hand along Spike’s thigh up to his cock. Her eyes grew wide as Xander’s stake entered her back, dusting her. Several vampires and demons growled but Spike gave them a warning look before turning back to Xander.

“What the bloody hell are you trying to prove?“

“Nothing. But no vampire is going to touch you like that and get away with it or they’ll end up just like that.“ Xander pointed at the pile of dust on the floor.

“You don’t tell me who or what can touch me, got that? Especially after what you’ve done.“

“Look, Spike, I’ve been following the trail of trashed bars for the last hour and my feet hurt. Can we please just take this argument elsewhere.”

“Why were you in demon bars alone?” Spike growled. He may be angry and hurt but that didn’t mean he wanted anything to happen to Xander.

“Checking out the atmosphere.” Xander snarked. “What do you think? Looking for you, you dumb ass. And also killing a few vampires along the way. Working off some aggression issues like I was taught.”

“How many?” Spike asked, feeling oddly proud and upset at the same time.

“Ten, I think. Couldn’t keep count at that last bar because I had to make a run for it. Seems I killed this guy’s pet…” Several vampires growled again and Xander glared at them. “Hey, it’s not what it sounds like. I wasn’t out joy-killing vampires….although it was kinda fun.“ Three vampires stood up, tired of this boy and not caring whose pet it was.

“Hey, in my defense, they started it.”

“Try anything and you’ll be dust on the floor before you can raise a finger.“ Spike’s blue eyes flashed amber and the three sat down, gulping. Okay, maybe they did care after all. Spike turned to shake his head at Xander.

“You’re one stupid git. Do you realize what you did when you killed that vampire’s pet? What you’re doing now, bragging about it in here? And what’s with all the macho bullshit?” Spike grabbed Xander by the shoulders, practically shaking the boy’s teeth out of his head. “Go away before you get yourself killed.”

“I was trying to find you.“ Xander defended himself, pulling away from Spike and crossing his arms stubbornly. Spike knew he wasn’t going to like what was coming. “And I’m not leaving without you.“ Yep, he didn’t like it.

“Does this look like a good time to talk?” Spike gestured around the bar.

“We wouldn’t be airing our differences to the world if you had come back to Angel’s, so it’s your fault.”

“My fault? You have the nerve to try and turn this around on me when you were the one that…..oh, bloody hell, just leave me alone. Quit following me and get the hell out of my unlife.”

“You know, even though I’m pissed as hell that you were here in a bar letting another vampire feel you up, it doesn‘t surprise me. How many other vampires have you fucked in the last two bars, huh?”

“None of your business.” Spike answered, knowing he hadn’t fucked one. Oh, sure there had been drunken flirting but he wouldn’t…..couldn’t let it go past anything more.

“Okay, while that hurts thinking of you being with God knows how many other whatevers, and it seems to be a pattern with you, I might can get past this if you’ll come with me so we can talk this out.“ Spike mirrored Xander by stubbornly crossing his arms across his chest. “So you’re just gonna throw away everything we have because you’re not only stubborn and dumb but you can’t keep your dick in your pants!” The other demons gasped at the audacity of Xander‘s words while Spike slammed Xander into the wall.

“I’m not the dumb one, mate. That’s you. And as far as not being able to keep my dick in my pants, you have room to talk.”

“Who are you trying to kid!“ Xander pushed Spike away. “I may have kissed wrongly but I’ve never been with anyone else but you!”

“Was the slayer that unforgettable seeing as how you just fucked her tonight?”

“I wasn’t with Faith…not like that! Nothing happened, I told you that already. I was there helping with her shoulder because it was dislocated and there was this whole big misunderstanding….an accident.”

“Lame.” Another vampire tsked, taking a drink of his beer. Xander and Spike glared at him, both speaking at the same time.

“Stay out of this!”

“Just saying…..” Spike’s warning growl shut him up. Spike turned back to Xander.

“First of all, Xander, it’s not like you tripped and fell into her. And then out of her and then into her again.“

“There was no tripping of any kind!” Xander defended himself. “She was all wound up after the fight and she thought we were going to….that’s where the hickey comes in…..but I stopped her. I told her that I wouldn’t do….what she wanted to do….because I love you. Then I left. “

“Nice little story. Been practicing that long?” Spike sat back down at the bar and turned to Willy. “Set me up with another bottle.”

“Spike….”

“Just do it, you little weasel.” Spike poured himself another drink, totally ignoring Xander, or trying to at least. When Xander tapped him on his shoulder, Spike refused to look at him. He wanted so much to believe Xander but he was too hurt to go through this right now. “Thought you’d gotten the message and left.”

“First of all, I didn’t practice any speech because if I had there wouldn’t have been all that stuttering. Secondly, I’m not leaving until we settle this.” Spike sighed, knowing that all eyes were on them. He had to get Xander out of here. He couldn’t afford to have all the demon world knowing a human boy had Spike wrapped around his little finger. Not only would it be bad for his reputation but they could use Xander as a way to get to him. Besides, he was still pissed with the boy.

“Look whelp. In case you haven’t figured this out already, I don’t want you around. I don’t want your big mouth yapping at me any longer, don’t want to see your face so be a good little boy and toddle away before you piss me off and I end up grabbing you by the ankles and redecorating this bar with your head.“ The demons nodded their head in approval while Spike played the room.

Xander stared at Spike, his pain at those words so bad that he did what he always did….he turned it into anger….anger like he had never known before in his entire life. Sure, he had been stupid about how to handle the situation but he had hoped that Spike had calmed down enough to listen to him. That Spike would love and trust him enough to at least forgive him for not telling him but that wasn’t happening. And okay, Spike had been hurt a lot in love but so had Xander. So maybe a year with Cordy wasn’t equal to centuries with Dru but still…. Spike was his. They had made promises that were supposed to last forever, not a few months or until Spike got pissed off at him.

“I’ve fought vampires for almost three years now and while I’ve hated them, I’ve never hated one as much as I do you right this minute!”

“That’s not what you’ll be saying when I have your legs in the air and I’m pounding you into the mattress.” Spike covered his hurt at those words by turning to the nearest demon. “Humans are such sluts.”

“Don’t I know it.” The demon agreed.

“Slut, huh? We’ll see how long, if ever, it takes for you to get my legs into the air again! And you know what else, Spike? I don’t have any where to go thanks to you so you know what? I think I’ll just pull up a stool way down here and have a few drinks. “ Xander walked to the other end of the bar and motioned for Willy to come serve him. Willy looked nervously at Spike and after hearing the vampire growl, he turned to Xander and shook his head no. Xander rolled his eyes and stood up.

“Hey demons!” All the demons in the room were now looking at him. “Willy here doesn’t want to serve me,” Xander hitched a finger in the bartender’s direction. “Can you believe that?”

“Well, duh, you’re one of the Slayer’s humans. You kill us. Why should he serve you?” A Ruksha demon asked, coming forward. The demon was seven feet tall and a bright orange and Xander turned a smile up to him.

“Because he’s Willy."

"I do not understand that answer."

"Come on, when have you ever known Willy to turn down a buck from either a demon, the slayer, or her crew because of his principles, huh? He’s an equal opportunity snitch and bartender. Face it. He plays both sides. I can kinda respect that. Even a sleaze like Willy has to make a living. But what I don't respect is a coward and that's what he's being. Willy isn't serving me because he's scared of Spike, plain and simple. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a coward. Are you scared of Spike?” The Ruska demon glanced at Spike who raised an eyebrow. “I respect him. He is a Master Vampire. But my kind knows no fear.”

“Hear that Willy? He knows no fear.“ Xander gestured at the orange demon. “He’s not a little chicken shit like you!“ Xander made clucking noises while flapping his arms, while every demon in the house sat, mouths open in shock. Spike groaned and put his head in his hands. The boy was completey nut raving starkers. He looked up in time to see Xander clapping the orange demon on the back. “So buy me a beer?”

“After what you just said, I wouldn’t sell you a beer if you were the last demon or human on this planet.” Willy huffed. He started polishing the bar and was shocked when Xander stalked over, grabbing the him by his collar and pulling him over the bar. Willy got his bearings and looked up to see Xander’s eyes flashing in anger.

“I’m in a reaaaalllly bad mood tonight.”

“I can see that.” Xander began to choke him.

“Don’t interrupt me! I’m talking here! Got it?” Willy shook his head and Xander took his hand from his neck, mockingly smoothing down his collar. “As I was saying, I’m having a bad night. I’ve fought zombies, Sister of Jhe demons, killed a few vampires, diffused a bomb, been ignored by my friends and been treated like shit by the one person I thought I could trust more than anyone in my whole life. In fact, my life pretty much sucks beyond the telling of it right now. Beginning to think that life just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.” Spike flinched at those words and turned to see the same expression on Xander’s face that he had seen when he was talking to Jack in the basement. A cold, resigned smile, no emotions in his eyes. “So I think I deserve a drink right now, don’t you?” Before Willy could answer the Ruksha demon gestured at a table where 5 other Ruksha sat waiting.

“Come to our table. You may share our libation.” Xander threw Willy to the side and stuck out his hand.

“You're a gentleman and a scholar."

"No, I am Gravin, head of the Ruksha clan."

"No, see that was just a human saying that means you're a nice guy. My name is Xander.” The Ruksha shook hands with Xander before following him to the table, letting the boy take a seat before sitting down next to him. Xander held out a glass, pointing at the bottle on the table.

“Fill it up with libation, please?” One of the demons began to fill the glass while Gravin cocked his head and studied Xander before laughing.

“You are definitely a strange human.”

“I’ve been told that over and over again.” Xander shot a glance over at Spike, who was now thoroughly pissed. The vampire rose as if to put a stop to the goings on but several demons and vampires, along with Willy pulled him to the side, talking.

“Spike, you can’t be serious. Taking on 5 Ruksha demons by yourself is suicide. You know they have the claws that shred and speed that is faster than any vampires I‘ve ever seen.”

“Except me and Angelus. We’ve taken on Rukshas in the past and won.”

“Okay, you and Angel did, man. This is just you.” One of the vampires pointed out and Spike stared at him. “Oh, hell, no. I‘m not getting shredded over your little pet.”

“Besides, they seem to have taken a liking to him.” The other vampire pointed at the table where Xander was talking and drinking with the Ruksha.

“Too much of one.” Spike growled, watching the Ruksha put an arm around Xander and pat him on the shoulder before removing it and taking a drink.

“Spike, they aren’t going to try anything with the kid. Ruksha are clan like demons. They have never, ever mated with a human or any other species other than their own. And Xander is just trying to get under your skin. Don’t let him.” Willy said.

“Guess you’re right.” Spike grumbled, taking a drink of his beer as he listened and watched. Xander was now back to goofy Xander mode, telling jokes and just being the witty Xander he always was and the Ruksha were hanging on every word. Spike had never seen Rukshas take to a human, much less one as quickly as they were with Xander. They were mostly loners and Spike was shocked. He looked around the bar and noticed that almost everyone else was staring as well, evidently thinking the same thing Spike was. Some of the other demons were even listening and laughing along with the Ruskas at Xander’s stories. Spike shook his head and grumbled. “Always was a demon magnet.”

“Look, Spike, I know you’re mad at the kid over something bad, but he does have a kind of personality that draws people or demons to him. He’s got a sense of humor and a kind of contagious, uh, niceness about him but you can tell he’s got a darker side to him and that makes….” The vampire trailed off when Spike began to growl again, “Just pointing out his good qualities to remind you. I know he’s yours and I would never try to touch him but if you ever decide to give him up….”

“I’ll give you a call.“ Spike put his arm around the vampire and walked him towards the door.

“You will?“

“No, you daft git! The boy is mine! The only reason I'm letting you leave with all your body parts intact is so that you can spread the word that if anyone ever touches him, I will hunt them down and they'll be begging for death within minutes. Now get out of my face before I bloody well stake you.” Spike threw the vampire out the door and walked back to the bar, taking another drink of his JD. The vampire rolled onto the sidewalk and got up, checking for breakage. He looked back at the bar but decided not to go back in for the rest of his drink. It wasn’t worth it. He knew not to mess with a Master Vampire when he was pissed. He bumped into someone and vamped out.

“Why don’t you watch….Oh, hey, Angel how’s it hanging. And the Slayer. So good to see you both…”

“Cut the act, Manny.” Angel grabbed the vampire by the collar. “Answer our questions and we won’t hurt you.”

“We won’t?” Buffy crossed her arms and stared at Angel.

“We’ll get more information out of him alive than dead.”

“Technically, I am dead, but you’re so right, Angel. A bunch of dust can’t talk. I’ll tell you whatever you need to know, I swear. Won‘t even charge you.”

“Oh my God, he’s a vampire version of Willy.” Buffy laughed as Angel began questioning Manny.

“You seen Spike tonight?”

“Yeah, yeah. Matter of fact, I just got through talking to him.”

“He the one who threw you out?” Angel smiled, noticing the way the vampire reacted to Spike’s name and seeing the way he had exited the building.

“No…oh, that, I just tripped….” Manny saw that Angel wasn’t buying his story and started spilling his guts. “Okay, so Spike got pissed off just because I pointed out that his pet had a sense of humor and a niceness but yet a darkness that drew people and demons to him. You know…..aaaah!” Manny struggled as Angel tightened his hold. “That speech is getting me nowhere tonight.”

“So the smart thing to do would be to quit repeating it. But we both know you're not the brightest crayon in the box so let me give you a warning. Quit looking at Xander. Quit thinking about Xander because he’s Spike’s.” Angel growled, dumping Manny onto the ground while Buffy watched.

“Xander is a pet now? Since when is Xander a pet?”

“It’s a vampire term, Buffy.” Angel looked down at Manny. “And Xander is more than a pet to Spike. He’s his mate.”

“Damn, no wonder he got so mad when I said I’d take him if Spike didn’t want him anymore.” Again Manny was grabbed and held up by Angel, staring into the vampiric face.

“It’s a wonder Spike didn’t stake you on sight for saying that. Why didn’t he stake you on sight, Manny?”

“Uhm, well for one thing he and the kid had an argument so he wasn’t real happy with him. Told the kid to leave but he wouldn’t. Ended up at the other end of the bar demanding drinks from Willy but Willy wouldn’t serve him….”

“Let me guess. Because Spike told him not to?” Buffy asked.

“Yeah, that’s right. But then after Spike’s pet…

“His name is Xander.“ Buffy interrupted.

“Xander. Okay. After Xander called Willy a chicken and dragged him over the bar….“

“Xander dragged Willy over the bar and I missed it?“

“Would you quit interrupting me? Please?“ Manny hurried to add off of Buffy’s glare. “Some Ruksha demon came over, decided he liked him and now they’re all sitting in there at the table like they’re ready to make him a part of their clan while Spike is getting more pissed by the minute.” Angel dropped Manny, who took off running and Buffy stared at her startled boyfriend.

“Angel, what is it? Are these demons dangerous?”

“Not unless they’re pissed off. Long talons, very fast. Can cut you to ribbons in seconds.”

“Oh, God, we have to get Xander away from them. Why didn’t Spike….Angel let go of me.” Angel had pulled his girlfriend back.

“No, you’re not getting it. Ruksha’s are a clan type demon. They don’t like any other demons, much less humans. For one to approach Xander…..man, the kid is a demon magnet. And talking to them without getting killed….wow.” Angel shook himself out of his reverie. “Let’s go inside and find Spike.”

“Hell with that. I’m getting Xander away from those demons.”

“Buffy, please, just for once let Spike and I lead the way.” Buffy snorted. “Okay, let me lead the way. You don’t know demon ways and I think if what I’m hearing is true, everything will be fine as long as someone doesn’t try to take Xander away from them until they’re ready for Xander to leave or Xander wants to leave himself.” Buffy was about to open her mouth, but Angel stopped her. “Please. I don’t want a blood bath and if there’s 5 in there, Xander could get hurt before we could get to him. I’m guessing that’s why Spike hasn’t…..fuck, Spike. We have to get in there before he does something really, really stupid.” They entered the bar, finding Spike within seconds. He was just about to go after the demons when Angel and Buffy stopped him.

“What are you doing here, Slayer? Nice to see you, SLAYER!” Willy raised his voice, trying to warn the other vampires and demons that the slayer was in the house. Some of them left, but most of them were still sitting, listening and laughing along with Xander and the Ruksha demons.

“Just where did you think you were going, Spike?” Angel asked.

“Where do you bloody well think? The boy’s gotten himself into trouble all because he wouldn’t just leave when I told him to.”

“Xander’s in trouble because you're a stubborn asshole who won't get his head out of ass long enough to listen to what he has to say.” Buffy told him. “He just wanted to tell you the truth about what happened tonight between he and Faith.” Spike’s head snapped up at that and he growled.

“Xander’s been airing our dirty laundry not only to the whole demon community but to you two as well? Has he called Red or the Watcher as well? Taken and ad out in the Sunnydale Gazette?”

“We nagged Xander into telling us. Besides, we’re your friends so…..”

“Don’t bloody well say that in here, Slayer. And quit your yammering. I have to figure out a way to get Xander away from them.”

“Let’s just stay cool, let them have their fun and see where it goes. There’s a possibility that Xander can just tell them he’s tired and leave.” Spike gave Angel a look that clearly said he didn’t agree. “I said a possibility.” They turned their attention on the table. Xander hadn’t seen his friends enter. In fact, he hadn’t been paying much attention to Spike in the last 10 minutes. It was nice to be able to talk and crack jokes and actually have someone listen for a change and appreciate his wit even if they were a bunch of orange demons. To say Xander was eating it up with a spoon would have been an understatement. He was definitely playing to the crowd.

TBC


Xander thought a moment before talking in a Chinese accent. “Virginity like bubble. One prick all gone. Man with hand in pocket feel cocky all day. Man who buys many prunes get good run for money. Baseball is wrong. Man with four balls cannot walk.” The demons had been laughing until that last one and then the room got quiet. Xander had a confused expression on his face. “What?”

“I have four balls and I can walk.” A large demon stood up, ripping down his pants and showing Xander. Buffy and Xander made an ew face while Angel and Spike prepared for the fight they thought would come but never did. Instead, Xander said, “Confucious never met you. I’m sure if he had he would have been very impressed.“

“So you are impressed?” The demon asked Xander, who nodded.

“Very. I mean, hell, it’s hard enough for me to take care of two balls much less…never mind, very impressed.” The demon stood smiling at Xander, who waved his hand at him. “You can pull your pants up now. You’re making me feel like less of a man.” Feeling vindicated the demon pulled up his pants and sat down while the others laughed. Xander breathed in a sigh of relief and took the time to look over at Spike, seeing Buffy and Angel with him. He jumped up and smiled at the Ruska demons. “Hey, guys, some of my friends are here. It’s been real. Keep in touch.” Gravin grabbed his arm and Spike growled.

“Wait.” Angel warned.

“Gravin, what….”

“Thank you for entertaining us. We are a rather serious, single minded demon clan who doesn’t make friends very easily. We now consider you a friend.”

“That’s….great. Very nice. I’m honored but I didn’t really do anything unusual. That’s what I always do...entertain.” Xander bowed and turned just as the door opened and 10 vampires, along with some demons entered the bar. Everyone turned to see who the newcomers were and Xander’s eyes widened as he recognized the face of the vampire he had run away from.

“Yes, you are definitely entertaining. It’s taken us a long time to find you boy.” Before Gravin, Spike or any of Xander’s friends could react, three vampires had grabbed Xander and were holding him. Gravin and the rest of the Rukshas stood up, Spike, Angel and Buffy stepped forward but the lead vampire tutted, shaking his finger at all of them. “Make another move and my friends will snap his neck in two.”

“Snap his neck and all of you will die a very, very painful death.” Angel said as he and Buffy took another step forward. They were surprised when Spike stopped them.

“Xander’s my boy and this is my fight.” He approached the lead vampire. “Let him go.”

“Can’t do that, Spike. Your little playmate came into the bar where my pet and I were having drinks. Having smelled your scent on him, I decided to be courteous and allow him to join us but he declined by killing Lucas and staking me in the shoulder. He started a brawl, trashed the place and then ran. We’ve been following him for quite some time.”

“And why is that?”

“The way I figure, your pet killed mine and as a gesture of good faith, you should give him to me to replace my own.” Anthony ran his hand down Xander’s cheek. “I’m just grateful that you have such good taste.”

“Yeah, I do and get your hand away from Xander before you lose some body parts.“ Spike looked at Xander. “What happened, Xander? Why did you dust his pet?“

“Why are you asking me, Spike? You don’t believe anything I say. You’ll just take his side.”

“No, I won’t.”

“Yes, you will.”

“No, I….damn it Xander, quit playing children’s games with me. Now is not the time…..”

“Fine. I walked into the place searching for you and they came over to me. Started giving me these corny pickup lines….”

“I never…..”

“Does…Is there a mirror in your pants because I can see myself in them ring a bell?” Xander glared at Anthony. “Or how about If you and I were squirrels I’d store my nuts in your hole?” Spike began to growl while the demons behind him laughed at Xander’s words. “My God, where did you learn such awful lines anyway? That’s almost as bad as Cindy Jenkins telling me if I were a booger, she’d pick me first back in third grade.”

“You said that to my boy?” Spike’s eyes flashed amber as he stepped into Anthony’s personal space. Before the demon could respond Xander spoke up.

“That wasn’t what made me stake his whatever. After those lines didn’t work, that Lucas guy had his hands in bad places. And then he rubbed against me and suddenly, the hands not the only problem if you get my drift.”

“They were looking to….”

“Screw me? Fuck me? Have their way with me? That would be a big yeah.” Amber eyes turned to face Anthony who held his hands up innocently.

“Again, your pet misunderstood our intentions, Spike.”

“Misunderstood huh? Guess that’s why I felt something saluting at full mast against my thigh. Hell, Boy Scouts could have set up camp in your pants. But I dealt with it, Spike….which is exactly why I guess he’s here.” Spike grabbed Anthony by the throat and lifted him up.

“You smelled my scent on this boy and yet you and your pet dared to touch him inappropriately? Sounds to me the right and proper thing to do would be to send you to hell to join your pet.” As Spike pulled out a stake to kill Anthony, two large Nagrom demons stepped in front of him, while the vampires yelled they would carry out their threat on Xander. Spike hesitated, but before he could answer, Gravin and the Ruksha demons had already snuck up behind the vampires holding Xander and killed them. All hell broke loose as Buffy and Angel joined the fight and soon, all of the demons and vampires from the other bar were dusted or dead. Willy shook his head at the damage and dead bodies lying on the floor.

“Why me? I just got through cleaning up the joint after those Sister of Jhe demons trashed it and now this. Why does this shit always happen to me?”

“Karma?” Angel pulled out some cash and stuffed it into the man’s hand before joining Buffy, Spike and Xander.

“Everyone okay?”

“I am now. Thanks for the help.“ Xander turned to the Rukshas. “and you guys, too.”

“As I said earlier, you are our friend now and will be safe around us. “

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?” Gravin nodded and Xander led him off to the side. “Where do you guys sleep? Generally speaking. Like in a cave or a sewer or….”

“We would never lower ourselves to sleep in a sewer.” Gravin sniffed. “We have a dwelling. Why do you ask?” Gravin looked over at Buffy, not wanting the slayer to know.

“Oh, I’m not trying to find out where you guys hang because of Buffy if that’s what you’re thinking. It’s just….well, I got kicked out of the place I was staying and I really don’t want to go back to my parents house and I was wondering if I could stay at your place until I found something.”

“Only Rukshas are allowed in the dwelling. Not even friends are welcome.“

“Oh, okay.“ Xander started to leave but Gravin stopped him.

“However, we may know of an abandoned house where you can stay. It doesn’t have all the comforts humans like such as furniture, food and clothing. There are some blankets, though and it has running water. If you want us to show you….”

“He doesn’t.” Spike interrupted, he and Angel each grabbing one of Xander's arms, leading him out the door. “Ta, anyway.” And with that they were out the door.





Part Twenty

“Hey, stop it.“ Xander pulled himself away from Angel and Spike with Buffy’s help. “You can’t tell me where I can stay and where I can’t. You told me to be gone from the mansion by the time you got back,” Xander pointed at Spike before whirling around, pointing his finger in Angel’s direction. “And you seconded the motion so….”

“Listen, Xander, about earlier, I apologize for jumping to conclusions, making judgments and….”

“Hurting my feelings?“ Xander interrupted.

“And taking up for Spike?” Buffy added.

“I‘m not apologizing for taking up for Spike. He‘s family. But I should have tried to stay more neutral and waited for Spike to come home so you two could talk.”

“You took up for me?” Spike turned to Angel with a grin on his face.

“Like I said, you are family, Spike.” Spike couldn’t believe how much those words warmed his heart. That is until Xander’s words sunk in. “You actually kicked my boy out of the house!” Amber eyes glared at a stunned Angel.

“No. Yes….hell, from what I heard you’d already done that yourself. So, I thought if you didn’t want him there…..”

“No one has a right to throw him out of the house but me, Angel.”

“Which you did at the library.” Xander interceded. “And don’t be so pissy with Angel when he was just doing what he felt was best. You two have been together for centuries so naturally your friendship is going to mean more than mine.”

“Angel bloody well knows how I am when I’m all worked up. Saying things I don’t mean because I’m hurt or angry. He should have kept you safely at home until I returned and then asked me what I wanted to do instead of just tossing you out the door.“

“He didn’t physically toss me out the door.”

“Who the fuck do I look like to you? Kreskin? Is there no pleasing you?” Angel was pissed at Spike now.

“Evidently I did for a while but now Spike’s tired of my yammering and he doesn’t want to see my face anymore so I’d appreciate it if you would both quit following me.” Xander turned and pointed at Angel and Spike. “Buffy’s the only one I feel like talking to right now.”

“And I’m taking him to my house.” Buffy looked at the others before she and Xander began walking away. “Spike actually told you that he didn‘t want to see you anymore?” Xander nodded sadly and Buffy‘s hand tightened around the stake she was holding.

“I had to. The boy came into the bar acting all macho and trying to boss me around.” Spike’s voice came from behind them and they turned to face Angel and Spike.

“Your point being?”

“We were in a room full of demons. Demons who would use Xander against me if they knew how much he means to me. I couldn’t let that happen.”

“Who are you trying to kid, Spike? You were just worried about your reputation.” Xander began walking, the others following.

“Well, yeah that too.”

“And I’m fairly certain I said I didn’t want anyone around but Buffy.”

“Xander, what the hell were you thinking going to those demon bars without waiting on me?“

“I wanted to find Spike and I didn’t want to wait around all night while you and Angel kept arguing about who was right and who was wrong. Hell, if I can take out Jack O’Toole, his three zombie buddies and diffuse a bomb, I can certainly handle going into demon bars alone. Besides, with Spike’s scent on me, most of them leave me alone.”

“Hold up. Did you just say you fought a bully, three zombies and diffused a bomb?” Buffy couldn’t believe her ears.

“That’s right, Slayer. Oh, by the way, Jack O’Toole won’t be in school anymore.”

“Hey, Spike, you really are a poet.” Xander grinned, Spike returning it until they remembered they were pissed at each other. “You’re supposed to be going away now.”

“Tell me you didn’t kill a human, Spike.”

“Relax, Slayer. He was a zombie. Oz got out of his hideaway and ate him.”

“Gross. And good….about you not killing anyone human because we all know where that would lead.”

“Yeah, you’d have to try and stake me good and proper and then I’d have to make you my third….”

“I could take you, Spike. There’d be no trying to it.”

“Want to put a wager on it.”

“Shut up!” Xander yelled, making both of them jump. Even though they were being serious, they knew it would never come to a fight between them. At least they hoped not. They loved Xander and Angel too much to cause them any heartache.

“Xander, it’s okay.”

“No, it’s really not! It’s my worst nightmare! You think I haven’t thought about it before?”

“I know you have, Xander. You said so earlier….”

“Not just tonight, Buff. Lots of nights, lots of times.”

“But why would you? I promised you I wouldn't kill any humans and I keep my promises.”
Spike was offended.

“I know that. It's just...I’m a Harris. And for the first time in my life everything was going great….until tonight. And that‘s not supposed to happen. Harris‘ don‘t get a happily ever after. I thought maybe I could break the cycle. That just once….but it’s never going to happen. I screwed up like I always do, only not, you know? It wasn’t my fault but I made the wrong choice because I didn’t want to lose anyone that I loved. And the irony of it all is that I ended up hurting and chasing down the one person I love more than anyone in my life only to have him tell me he doesn’t want me anymore. I lost in the end, anyway.” Xander tried to walk in the other direction but Spike grabbed his arm.

“Don’t walk away from me. Stay.“

“Why? So we can say more mean and hurtful things to each other? Make each other more miserable?”

“No, so we can clear this up. I never went to Faith’s tonight. I couldn’t. And as far as there being anything going on in the bars there wasn’t.” Xander snorted. “Okay, a little flirting but as mad and as hurt as I was, I couldn’t betray you.”

“And I didn’t betray you.” Xander took a deep breath and looked into Spike’s eyes. “I have to tell you the truth because I see now that even a little ommission, even if it’s because I’m trying to keep things from getting out of hand, is a lie. It only comes back to bite you on the ass in a big way.” Angel looked around, noticing they had made it as far as the edge of the park. It was empty.

“Maybe we should let you two talk in private.”

“No, Angel, I’m thinking we need you here.” Xander said and Spike stared at him in confusion.

“Why would we need them to sort this out?”

“Because you’re not going to like what you hear, Spike. But you have to promise me that you’ll listen all the way through before you move from this spot.” Spike was wary but nodded, and Xander told him the whole truth. Spike stood still, clenching and unclenching his fists, his jaw twitching in anger, as he tried to control himself long enough to hear everything that had happened. The bitch was going to pay.

“Why did you cover for Faith, Xander? Does she mean more to you than our relationship?”

“Of course not! Don’t you get it?" Spike shook his head. "I don’t want to see the man I love and one of my best friends fight to the death over a bitch like her and that’s what will happen if you kill Faith!“

“Don’t you care about what she did to Xander?” Spike turned on Buffy.

“Of course I care! You think I don’t want to go over there and beat her to within an inch of her life for what she did to him?”

“Good, let’s go then.” Spike started forward but Xander and Angel stopped him.

“Buffy said she wanted to. Didn’t say she would.” Angel told him.

“Because Faith is human?” Spike scoffed.

“Exactly.”

“If you ask me half the people you white hats fight to save are worse than most of the demons you slay.”

“Maybe so, but we’ve sworn to protect humans. It may not always be pretty but it’s what we do.”

“Don’t give me that, you poof. You may fool yourself and the slayer with your grand speeches about doing good, but when all is said and done you’re still a vampire with vampire instincts. You know if Faith did anything to the Slayer, you would rip her heart out and dance on her grave.“ Spike stepped up, staring Angel down, daring him to deny it.

“Angel?”

“Buffy, Spike’s right. If Faith were to hurt you in any way, I would feel the same way Spike is feeling right now.”

“But you have a soul.”

“Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t kill anyone who tried to harm you.”

“Glad we have that settled then.” .

“Nothing’s settled.” Spike looked at Xander in surprise. “If Faith had killed me tonight, I could understand the wanting to get revenge and my ghost self would be cheering you on. But here I am, alive and in the flesh.” Xander gestured at himself. “Sure, I was humiliated because I was stupid enough to fall for her ’help me out’ line and for almost getting….”

“Raped?!” Spike shouted.

“If you want to put it that way, Mr. Technical.”

“And how would you put it?”

“I’ve seen Faith after fights. She’s like a wild thing. She told us when we first met her that slaying always made her hungry and horny, remember Buffy?”

“Yeah, she did Xan but that’s no excuse for what she did.”

“I’m not making excuses for her, Buff. Faith should have taken no for an answer, but I think she was just worked up and couldn’t believe that anyone would turn her down. Spike, you yourself said she propositioned you in the library after the fight with the Hellmouth beast. I think that’s just her M.O. Fight and fuck, repeat as needed with whoever’s closest, regardless of the consequences.”

“She needs to learn the consequences of touching what is mine.” Spike growled.

“I know that but couldn‘t you wait until you‘ve calmed down and then give her a stern warning.”

“I doubt if I’ll ever calm down and vampires don’t give stern warnings. They take revenge.”

“Spike, is getting revenge worth more than our relationship?“ Xander’s voice stopped Spike and he turned around, walking back over to his lover.

“Don’t throw my own words back at me, Xander.”

“Why not? Do you think you’re the only one worried about our relationship?”

“No, it just pisses me off.” Spike gave Xander a wan smile and tentatively reached out for Xander who pulled away. “I’m so sorry for being such a wanker, luv. It’s just…I love you so much. More than I ever loved Dru or An..yone else.” Spike cast an eye at Buffy, but luckily she hadn’t caught the slip or hadn’t heard. Angel had though and he lowered his head in shame, knowing that Xander had been right about Spike’s trust issues being partly his fault.

“That’s not true.”

“It bloody well is!”

“Like I told Angel earlier, you never left Drusilla even though she fucked everything that walked! You loved her so much that you followed her all over the place begging for her to take you back! You were even crazy enough to try a damn love spell on her just to get her back! But me…..it took you all of five minutes to throw me out of your life and walk away. And then even after I realize that my love for you is greater than my pride I find you in a bar with a girl vampire who just so happened to look a little like Dru! And still I love you so much I try to get you to listen to me only to have you say all those mean things to me and tell me to leave again! And now that you’ve finally figured out that I didn’t have sex with Faith you’re ready to get all lovey-dovey?”

“Lovey huh?”

“Kiss and make up! Act like nothing happened! Do you just expect me to forget everything and fall back into your arms?!”

“Yes?”

“Oh, that’s right I forgot. You think humans are sluts.”

“Hey!” Buffy yelled but they both ignored her, Xander still ranting.

“That as long as you’ve got my legs in the air and you’re pounding me into the mattress…..”

“That’s our cue to leave.” Buffy grabbed Angel’s hand and dragged him away.

“But what if…..”

“They’re big boys. Besides, we’ll be over here close enough to watch what happens but far enough away not to hear anything.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“I am.”

“And you said you hated me, Xander. Did you mean that?” Spike’s quiet words stopped Xander, neither of them noticing Buffy and Angel’s exit.

“I hate how much you can hurt me with just a few words.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“No, I don’t hate you.”

“And I don’t love Drusilla more than you.” Xander tried to turn away but Spike caught his chin, turning his face back so they were looking into each others eyes. “I love Dru because she’s my sire and that’s all. I’ve never loved anyone like I love you.”

“If that’s true then why didn’t you give me the same…..”

“Because our love is not the same as what Dru and I shared. We had a sire/childe love. A bond that can never be broken because she was the one that gave me immortality. William the human was a poncy, virgin poet. Drusilla turned me into the confident, sexy vampire that you see before you.” That got a smile out of Xander and Spike felt a little relief. Maybe he hadn’t totally destroyed their relationship. It had never occurred to Spike that Xander would compare how Spike treated him to how Spike treated Dru. He had to make Xander understand. “Xander, the reason I forgave Dru and chased after her even after all the things she had done to me was because of the bond. I was with her for almost a century. Taking care of her, having wild, passionate sex, bending to her every whim and desire no matter how jealous I was of her flirting and her trysts. Got used to it after a while. I thought that’s what love was….how it was meant to be.”

“Not helping yourself by talking about the wild, passionate sex.” Xander tried to move away, but Spike wrapped his arms around the boy.

“Quit squirming and listen to me. Really listen.” Xander stopped and looked at Spike again. “That’s all it was. Just sex. I didn’t realize that until after I met you, fell in love with you and took you to bed for the first time. Do you remember what it was like?” Spike whispered into Xander’s ear and the boy shuddered with lust.

“How could I forget? I had and still have nothing to compare it to, but I would bet my life if I were to have sex with everyone on this planet, no one could compare to you.“

“Got that right. And if I have my way, you’ll never have anything to compare it with.” Spike leaned back till he was staring into Xander’s eyes. “That’s part of why your supposed betrayal was so much worse than anything Dru had ever done to me.”

“Because I was a virgin when we got together?”

“Yes, I’m the only one who has ever been inside of you. Yes, I’m the only one you’ve ever been inside of….that’s a plus. But that’s not why. That first night,” Spike cleared his throat and Xander could see the tears glistening in his blue eyes, “you looked at me with such an expression of trust, love and loyalty that if I hadn’t already been in love with you, I would have fallen for you then. I looked into your eyes as I sank into your warmth for the first time and all I saw was love and lust for me. That’s why I came so quickly, you remember?”

“I remember.” Xander smiled, recalling how embarrassed Spike had seemed at the time. “If vampires could blush you would have been beet red.”

“I had never lost control like that before with anyone ever. And that’s saying a lot considering how long I’ve been around and how many people I’ve….”

“You were making me feel much better up until this point.” Xander tried to look down but Spike grabbed his chin, holding his gaze.

“Just proving a point, luv.”

“And what’s that? That you‘re very, very experienced and I‘m very, very not.”

“That when I admit how much I love you, when I bring up an embarrassing moment for me, you have to realize how special you are. Xander, it may have been your first time luv, but you took me to places no one, not even the most experienced of lovers, has taken me to before. Dru and the others, they never gave themselves to me completely, but you did. They never looked at me that way. Like I was the most special person in the world. You made me feel safe.”

“Safe?”

“I looked down at you, giving me not only your body but your soul and heart as well and I knew……I just knew that I could give you my heart and you would take care of it. That you would never stomp on it or toss it away. That you would never treat me the way the others had.” Xander let out a tiny gasp, realizing.

“That’s why you had such a hard time listening or forgiving me tonight. Not because you loved Dru more than me but because it was easier to forgive Dru because you were used to her hurting you. And you had trusted me more than you did her so…..”

“Exactly. Xander, you’re the only one I’ve ever been able to trust. And I know I can be a jealous, possessive arsewipe……”

“You’re a vampire.”

“The jealousy thing isn’t just about me being a vampire, pet. It’s about not wanting anyone to ever have what I have with you. I swear, Xander, if I lost you I think I’d take a walk in the sun.” Xander stared at Spike, saw the truth in his expression and slugged him on the shoulder. “Ow! That’s what I get for being honest with you? For letting you know how much you mean to me? Pouring out my heart like a ponce?”

“If I mean that much to you then don’t ever talk about throwing your unlife away do you hear me?” Xander was pacing now and didn’t notice the angry expression on Spike’s face.

“So you don’t like me talking about my second death, eh? Want me to take care of myself so nothing will ever happen to me is that it?”

“Of course I do, you doofus!”

“Just like you thought about your life earlier tonight when you were faced with that bomb?”

“That’s not the same thing, Spike.” Xander stopped pacing to stare at his lover.

“Innit it?” Spike stared back at him. “Dead is dead, whether it’s me turning to dust in the sun or you being blown to bloody bits all over the school walls.”

“Actually, I think the walls would have been gone as well….uh, cause it was a pretty big bomb.” Xander started out trying to tease but when Spike growled, he stuttered. “Geez, I thought we had this conversation back in the library. And we were talking about you now, not me.”

“I told you there was going to be a conversation. I don’t like the fact that you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you’re going to die an early death. Makes me feel like one of these nights you’re just going to give up or throw yourself into a dangerous situation for home, hearth and the slayer, never caring what your death will mean to anyone else. I know you didn’t have a great home life but I thought after we got together you would at least be careful for me!”

“I haven’t resigned myself to anything.”

“Not what you said earlier.”

“I said I had come to terms with the fact that my helping Buffy and fighting the good fight might lead to an earlier death than most that’s all.”

“Resigning yourself to something means coming to terms with something, Xander.”

“Oh. Okay, but just because I know how dangerous it is that doesn’t mean that I don’t care what would happen to you or my friends if I died!”

“Then maybe you should try showing it!” Spike yelled back. “I saw you in that basement, Xander. I saw the ‘what the hell look’ and the smile on your face when that wanker said you’d die too! I heard you say ’you like the quiet’. If that wasn’t giving up your life for…”

“It was called bluffing, Spike!”

“Bluffing? You call that bluffing? Make a hell of a poker player, you would.”

“You once told me that I know how to read people. And I guess in a way I do. I knew that Jack would wimp out if it came to him losing his own life too. See, bullies, people who go around acting all badass and bragging about how they’re not afraid of anything are either very stupid, very psychotic or underneath they’re just chicken shits that like to mess with people they think can be intimidated so they can feel good about themselves. I know what I’m talking about since I lived with a very stupid, chicken shit father for a very long time. In Jack’s case he was all of the above.”

“Hold up a mo. You’ve told me that I go around acting all badass and bragging about how I’m not afraid of anything.”

“You do.” Xander smiled as Spike walked over, putting his arms around the boy.

“So which category do I fall into? Stupidity, being psychotic or a chicken shit?”

“Well, before I really knew you I thought you were psychotic but now I know that you’re unique. You’re one of the very few who can actually call themselves a badass and not be lying. The only thing you’re lying about is the part where you’re not afraid of anything. You’re afraid of being alone, aren’t you?”

“Not just being alone, Xander. Being without you.“ Spike leaned in and tentatively brushed his lips against Xander’s. “So is it time to go home and have a good, long shag? All is forgiven, yeah?” Spike was surprised when Xander leaned back and shook his head. “What do you mean no?”

“You asked me what the difference was in what I did tonight and what you said but you never let me tell you.”

“Go ahead.”

“I plan to.”

“Figured as much.” Spike sighed, stepping back and fishing around in his coat for a cigarette. Xander watched as he lit it, snapping the lighter shut and tossing it back into his pocket. “What? If I can’t have a good shag right now, I might as well have a smoke.”

“This is serious, Spike. I want you to really listen to me instead of acting like you are but in reality, thinking about what you could stick in my mouth to get me to shut up so we can get to the good stuff.“ Spike arched an eyebrow at him. “You know what I mean.”

“I certainly do.”

“Stop that! I’m really, really serious and you’re making jokes!”

“Now you see what I go through.” Xander opened his mouth, realized that Spike was right and shut it again. After careful consideration, Xander started again.

“You’re right. I do ‘jokey, rhymy’ my way through life as Willow puts it but this time I’m being dead serious…..no pun intended.” Xander quickly added, before Spike could interrupt. Spike took a puff off his cigarette, noticing the tension in his lover’s body. He straightened up and suspiciously eyed Xander.

“What’s going in that mind of yours?”

“Like I said….the difference thing.” Xander waved his arm. “See, I was fighting to save people’s lives. It wasn’t like I was just playing chicken in a car for the thrill of it or anything like that. Contrary to what you think, I do value life. It’s nothing to just throw away. And that’s what you’d be doing if you did what you threatened to do. Suicide is taking the easy way out. If you really love someone and they die you honor their memory by doing the hard thing and getting on with your life. You don’t just…”

“Oh, shut it with the honor shit.” Spike took one last puff off his cigarette before throwing it to the side.

“Excuse me?”

“I am not gonna stand here wasting good shagging time by listening to you go on and on about what I should do if something happens to you. Isn’t up to you. Besides, If you’re dead, you won’t know what happens to me.”

"How could you even act like this. Don’t you know what it would do to Angel if you just fried yourself like an egg on his sidewalk? Or what about our friends?”

Your friends, luv. I doubt the slayer or the watcher would miss me that much.”

“Buffy likes you more than she lets on and Giles respects you.” Xander defended his friends. “But the person I was really talking about was Willow. You know she’s grown attached to you.”

“Red is a bit of all right.” Spike smiled, knowing he had a soft spot for the girl. “Which brings me to why I can act any way I want. The big speech about honor and moving on after someone dies, trying to make me feel guilty for saying what I did, it’s all bollocks.”

“Huh?” Xander had no idea what Spike was going on about.

“Remember the first night you stayed at Angel’s….the talk we three had. I recall a certain person saying that if they loved someone with all their heart and soul they wouldn’t want to live without them. How if they lost Red their heart would be ripped out….”

“Okay, okay! Damn vampire memory!” Xander was frustrated now. Spike wrapped his arms around his boy again, smiling at him.

“You seem to love my vampire memory when we’re in bed. How I remember all the special spots that make you cry out. Like when I bite your calf right about here,” Spike touched the inside of Xander’s leg, making him groan, “or how you have that sensitive spot right here behind your ears,” Spike nibbled on the spot, making Xander jump.

“God, Spike.”

“Hate that vampire memory now?” Spike continued nibbling and Xander was just about to melt when he remembered what they were talking about.

“Spike, we really need to talk about Willow.”

“I said she was a bit of all right, Xander. Didn’t mean I wanted her in our bed.”

“No, that’s not….”

“Talk later, Xander, promise. Right now, I want to take you back to the mansion and make love to you the way I did the very first time. Do you remember?”

“I may not have vampire memory but I’ll never forget it. A warm fire burning in the fireplace, candles lit all over the room, chocolate lube, romantic music and alcoholic beverages…..” Xander had been groaning out the words as Spike continued placing gentle kisses on his neck and face, his hands threading through Xander’s hair, but now he burst out laughing. A confused Spike pulled back, staring at him as if he were crazy until he realized where Xander had stopped.

“All the work I did and you still remember how I couldn’t get the stupid music right.”

“Spike, no. I mean, well, yeah, that was kinda funny too but I was thinking about my screw up.” Spike cocked his head and thought.

“The beer bottle.”

“Yeah. I thought I could be as cool as you and tried to impress you by throwing the bottle without looking like you did but we both recall how that worked out.”

“No one is as cool as me, luv. And you didn’t have to try to impress me. Already had.” Spike brushed his lips across Xander’s, both of them groaning into each other’s mouths. “Home now, luv.”

“I don’t think I can wait till we get there, Spike.” Xander began his own assault on Spike’s neck and the vampire grew desperate. He glanced around, realizing they were in the park. Spike, being a vampire, could have sex anywhere but he was worried about Xander’s comfort. His eyes fell on just the right thing and he began to smile. There was only one thing left to do before he and his boy could have fun.

“Angel, you best take your girl and leave unless you want to see a show! I know you’ve been listening so you know I’m not just yanking your chain but if you don’t leave in about 30 seconds you’re gonna see me yanking…..”

“Shut up, Spike! We’re leaving!” Buffy’s voice came back. “But I’m warning you, if you hurt Xander…”

“Last thing on my mind, slayer. That is unless he begs me to.”

“You are so crude!” Buffy yelled back as she and Angel began to leave the park. He was becoming lost in his boy, but he had to smile when he heard Buffy complaining to Angel. “I can’t believe he’s corrupting my friend like this. Making out in the park for God’s sake. It’s….it’s kinda pervy, don’t you think?”

“No worse than us making out during patrol in the cemetery.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Why? Because they can….”

“No. Because of the kid factor. You know….parks equals kids.”

“There aren’t any children around at this time of night.”

“Maybe not, but tomorrow there will be kids in the same park where they….you know. What if they do it on a picnic table and then some poor family will be eating where….eeew. Or the teeter totter?”

“I don’t think they’ll go there. Too many ups and downs.” Buffy giggled.

“Angel, you’re really honing that sense of humor thing.”

“Thanks for noticing.” Their voices faded out of range as Xander’s was heard.

“Spike, what are you laughing about?”

“Huh?”

“You know, it doesn’t make a guy feel very good when he’s trying to get his boyfriend worked up and all he can do is laugh.”

“I’m sorry, luv. Wasn’t you. Something Angel said.” Xander looked confused. “Could hear him and the slayer talking. He’s actually getting a sense of humor.”

“Yeah, I’ve noticed. What did he say?”

“Tell you later.” Spike began making his way to the picnic table, backing Xander up as he went. They were kissing passionately when Xander suddenly stopped.

“Wait, wait, wait.”

“What, what, what?” Spike was frustrated now.

“If you heard Angel talking to Buffy then that means he heard everything we said?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Aren’t you embarrassed?”

“Why should we be, luv? It’s not like he hasn’t been living with us for the past few months.”

“You got a point.” Xander and Spike began kissing again, each of them working to undo the other ones pants before Xander stopped them again.

“What is it now, pet?”

“Not on the picnic table, Spike. People eat there.”

“Yeah, was planning on it.”

“You know what I mean.” Spike glanced around, his eyes falling on the merry go round. He turned to Xander who shook his head. “Why not?”

“Stop and think, Spike. If we get into this like I’m pretty damn sure I want to, that thing will be twirling at a hundred miles an hour. Now you might can take the chance of getting hurled into space but I’m mortal so…..”

“Won’t be spinning. It’ll be rocking.”

“Still not taking the chance.”

“Then where the bloody hell….”

“Under the table okay with you?” Xander pointed at the grass. “That is, if you don’t mind taking the chance that there might be old gum under the table or stale food on the grass or….” Spike kissed Xander, gently but firmly pushing him under the table. After a few minutes, he raised up, pulling Xander’s shirt off and tossing it to the side before doing the same to his.

“I’m a vampire, luv. I can make love on top of, under, against anything, anywhere, anytime.”

“Don’t doubt it for a minute.” Xander was kicking out of his shoes while Spike did the same. Next went the jeans, followed by a sigh. “What’s with the pout?”

“Thought I broke you from wearing boxers.”

“No way. Too uncomfortable going commando.” Xander yelped as Spike tore the boxers away from his body. “Hey! Those were my Superman boxers!”

“Fuck Superman.” Xander looked up at Spike’s body, appearing to glow in the moonlight and he bit his lip in anticipation.

“No, fuck me.” Spike growled, leaning forward, hands caressing Xander’s body as he kissed him.

“What did I tell you, Xander. We don’t fuck. We make love.” Spike nibbled his way down to Xander’s chest, a growl escaping when he saw the hickey.

“Spike, I’m so….”

“Not your fault. And I’m not going to let it distract me. Faith’s done enough damage tonight.” Spike swore, kissing Xander again. “I’m gonna cover it with one of my own.” Spike leaned down, setting teeth into motion, nibbling and sucking in the very same spot. He hated the taste of Faith, so he concentrated on Xander’s own scent and taste. Xander moaned and held Spike’s head close.

“God, it feels so good, Spike. Love you so much, Spike. Make it….make me yours, Spike.” Xander made sure to repeat Spike’s name so that he wouldn’t get the idea that Xander was thinking of anyone else. As if Xander could. When Spike had left a much larger, darker hickey over the one Faith had, he looked up at Xander, grinning.

“Done and done. And now I’m going to make love to you. We don’t just fuck, remember?” Spike pulled a tube out of his pocket and squeezed the lube onto his fingers, gently but impatiently inserting two fingers. Xander bucked up, moaning in pleasure.

“Oh, we do fuck sometimes, Spike. Remember the time we both fell off the bed? Or when you broke the nightstand corner by gripping it too hard. Or……”

“Okay, we may fuck like animals but it’s still making love. It’s our ’in a hurry, can’t wait to get inside you because I love you so much’ form of making love.”

“Better watch out, Spike. Oh, God.” Xander groaned again as Spike added the other two fingers. “You’re beginning to speak like me even in bed.”

“Frightening thought.” Spike put some lube on his cock and threw the tube to the side. He had gotten too much on his hands and he looked around for something but all their clothes were too far away. He tried to run his hand through the grass to wipe it off and while it did work, some of the dirt and grass stuck to his hand. “Bloody fucking hell. Can’t get this shit off.” Spike was shaking his hand and growling while Xander watched, wanting Spike inside of him but not being able to keep from laughing at the vampire’s predicament.

“Don’t worry about it, Spike. A little dirt and grass never hurt anything. I want you in me, like hours ago.” Spike watched as Xander parted his legs wider, holding his arms out to him. God, he loved this man and thinking about how close he had come to making the biggest mistake of his life spurred Spike on. He pounced on Xander, quickly lining his cock to Xander’s hole. He pushed inside in one firm stroke and then settled, letting Xander get used to him. In the meantime, he leaned in for another kiss, running his hands through Xander’s hair like he always did, not thinking about the lube, dirt or grass.

“Please, Spike, move.” Xander gasped as Spike began to move slowly at first, finding his sweet spot and teasing him to the point of breaking. “You’re killing me here, Spike. Faster, please. Show me how much you love me. Show you me you own me. Show me I’m yours.” Those words went straight to Spike’s cock and he proceeded to speed up, his hands and Xander’s seeming to be everywhere at the same time as they took their fill of each other, neither one seeming to be able to get enough. After a while, Spike felt the tension rising in Xander’s body and knew he was going to cum. He placed one hand on Xander’s cock and began to stroke it in time to his thrusts. Seconds later, Xander was screaming his name as he came, pushing Spike over the brink. When their orgasms had passed, Spike lay on top of Xander, the boy holding him in his arms while kissing his head. After a few moments, Spike rolled to the side, taking Xander with him, his half hard cock still inside the boy. He took his first good look at Xander since they had begun their lovemaking and had to laugh. Xander’s hair was a mess, most of it wet with lube from where Spike had run his fingers through it. There were pieces of grass stuck here and there like ornaments on a tree.

“What’s so funny?”

“You’re hair.” Xander picked up a piece close to his face, smelled the lube and licked it. “Mmm, at least it’s the chocolate kind.” Spike’s laughter stopped as he watched Xander lick the lube out of his hair.

“Oh, fuck, do you know how sexy you are right now?”

“Yeah, real sexy what with grass in my hair, which is all over my head and filled with chocolate lube.”

“I wouldn’t have thought it was possible either luv, but when you’re laying there, sucking on that chcolate lube, your eyes closed…..come here.” Spike pulled him in for another kiss and soon they were on their way to round two. It was several hours before they finally gathered up their clothes, cleaned themselves up and made their way home. Only the threat of the morning sun had made them leave their little love nest under the picnic table. They made it home to the mansion just before the first glimmers of sun made their way into the sky. Angel was waiting on them, pacing back and forth.

“Spike, cutting it a little close aren’t you.” Before Spike could answer, he looked at Xander. “And what the hell happened to you, Xander?”

“Chocolate lube, grass, gotta shower.” Xander headed for the bedroom door, hardly able to make it since he was so spent and sated. He turned and threw the Spiderman boxers at Spike. “And you owe me for another pair.”

“Sod that.” Spike pitched them into the garbage.

“Another pair or so help me your total disregard for Spiderman, your abuse of him will not go unpunished.” Xander warned, entering the bathroom and shutting the door.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Shagged him senseless. Oh, and he took offense to me ripping his boxers. Don't worry. He'll forget all about it by tomorrow. If not, I'll just have to shag him senseless again." Spike raised his eyebrows and leered at Angel. “Gonna go help him take a shower. Make sure he doesn’t fall and drown in the soddin’ tub. And don’t wake the boy for school today because he’s sleeping in.”

“Then you need to call the school and tell them why he isn’t going to be there.”

“Fine. I’ll just tell him that I shagged him into oblivion, plan on doing it again when he wakes up and he’s gonna need a day or two to recover.” Angel grabbed the phone out of Spike’s hand, pushing him towards the bedroom.

“They’re not at school this early. I’ll call in. But I think I’ll come up with another excuse. Don’t think that having a sexual hangover is under the excused guidelines.”

“Whatever you say, mate. Ta.” Spike closed the door and Angel sat down to wait to make the call. He had to smile. At least Xander and Spike had gotten through this still intact. Angel frowned as he worried about Faith trying to come between Spike and Xander. He had a feeling that she was going to try to cause trouble for them. Angel and Buffy had talked about it last night when they had returned and had deduced that she was jealous of Buffy having a vampire to love and wanted one of her own. Naturally, she had set her sights on Spike and would not be happy until she got him, regardless of Xander’s feelings. Buffy and Angel had decided not to say anything unless Faith brought it up. Not because they didn’t want revenge for what she’d done to Xander because they did. However, they felt that’s exactly the reaction Faith was hoping to get so they were going to act as if nothing bad had happened. Angel had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach that Faith was not only hoping to break up Xander and Spike but he and Buffy as well. She knew that if Xander and Spike split up because of what happened, he and Buffy would be at each other’s throats, which is exactly what happened, each taking up for the one close to them. Angel knew Faith was jealous of Buffy and he was worried about them all. He vowed to himself that he wouldn't let Faith hurt any of them as he laid his head back on the cushions and sighed, deciding to worry later. For now the crisis was over.





Part Twenty-One

Xander woke and chanced waking Spike as he raised his head to look at the alarm clock. 7:00. Had he slept all day or only an hour and a half? He squinted his eyes and there it was - A.M. Wow. Where had the past 24 hours plus gone? Oh, right. Staying in bed all day long with his lover. Eating, drinking, watching television and having the awesome sex. The awesome sex that had him sore, even after the long, hot shower he had taken last night. But it was a nice sore.

Xander slipped out of bed, stopping briefly when Spike rolled over mumbling something about drowning in shoes. Amused, Xander gazed fondly at the sleeping vampire before making his way to the bathroom to relieve himself. Xander wished he could have another day off but he did have that big math test today. Besides, Spike, and especially Angel, were very adamant about Xander going to school, so yesterday had been a vacation of sorts to Xander. Xander knew that he would probably miss school once he graduated - being with his friends every day but until then......

Xander exited the bathroom feeling antsy for some reason. He wanted to wake Spike up and talk to him about something....what was it that was niggling at the back of his mind? It had been there since the night he and Spike had come tumbling back into the mansion....or rather, morning since Angel had been pissed at Spike for cutting it so close to sunrise, but between the food, television and mind blowing sex, Xander had let it slide away. Now, the niggling was back with a vengeance. Xander sat down in the chair and thought for a few moments before it came to him. The night they had been talking about what would happen if he died. While Xander didn't like to think about his mortality, he did want to talk to Spike about something...or rather someone.... very important. Willow.

Xander knew if something did happen to him, God forbid, that Spike would be devastated. However, Spike would have Angel to help him through his grief. Buffy - well, Xander could count on Angel to help her out as well. Oz, Cordy and Giles would be sad, however, they were tough enough to go on. And while Oz would try to help Willow, Xander knew that his death would affect her worse than anyone else other than Spike.

Xander smiled as memories of his and Willow's lives crossed through his mind. Playing hide and seek and tag in their backyards. Swinging on the swings and going up and down on the teeter totter at school and in the park. Building sandcastles on the shore when their parents took them to the beach. Throwing paper wads at each other when the teacher's back was turned. Xander couldn't remember a time that he and Willow hadn't been friends and could not imagine living life without her so he knew how she would feel if something happened to him. Alone, even though she would have Oz and the rest of the gang. Forlorn, angry, helpless and afraid - those were a few of the emotions she would be feeling.

Even though Willow had matured and become more confident, especially in her magic, in the years since Buffy came to town, Xander still considered his best friend to be fragile when it came to her emotions. Xander wanted to make sure that someone was looking out for his best friend for the rest of her life, the way she had always looked out for him. Buffy would try, but with her slaying duties she wouldn't be around all the time or might miss changes in Willow. And what if Oz and Willow broke up again? No, Xander had to make sure that someone was taking care of Willow 24/7. Someone who would know what she was feeling, even if Willow couldn't explain it herself or tried to hide it. Someone who could protect her from the dangerous elements on the Hellmouth and who would make her feel better, even if she didn't want to. That someone was Spike.

Once Willow had gotten over her fear of Spike, she had given him the big shovel speech. During Xander's recovery, 70% of the time had been spent with the three of them laughing and talking or watching television together. Willow and Spike had become very close, though neither of them were willing to admit it. Spike had even given Willow the nickname, "Red." Xander knew how Spike was about keeping his promises to those he loved. If he promised Xander he would take care of Willow if something happened to him, then Spike would do exactly that. Xander would never have to worry about his best friend ever again. After all, look at how well Spike had taken care of Drusilla.

Xander frowned at the thought of Drusilla. Even though Spike had explained things to him, Xander was still upset that Spike had been so quick to walk away from Xander when he had stayed with Drusilla for over a hundred years, no matter what she did to him. Xander tried to shake off his feeling of jealousy and fear that if Drusilla were to show up, he would be history. Spike loved him now. He had said so. Had showed him in so many ways yesterday. Spike had even said that he loved Xander more than Drusilla - that the only thing that kept Spike with Dru was the sire/childe bond. Xander sat up, now knowing what had been running through the back of his mind since the other night. Spike had lied to him!

With that thought, Xander stood up and began to get dressed. He had to hurry up and get to school where his friends were and the big vampire liar was not. Where he could bitch and moan all day long about his stupid boyfriend who tried to make him believe something that wasn't true. How dumb did Spike think Xander was anyway? Evidently, pretty damn dumb. Which he must be, because he had almost believed it Xander thought as he jammed his feet into his shoes and made his way to the kitchen of the mansion. Xander would grab something to eat before heading off to school. His stomach didn't care that he was pissed at Spike - it wanted something to eat now.

Cursing his stupid stomach, Xander opened the cabinet doors and pulled down the first box of cereal he came to. He was usually choosy about what he put in his stomach first thing in the morning, but today Xander was too angry to think about it. His anger rose as he read the writing on the cereal box and saw the little drawing of the vampire. Count Chocula!

"Damn vampires," Xander muttered, throwing the cereal box across the floor. "Bet you were a friggin' liar, too, huh?" he asked the thankfully closed cereal box. If cereal had spilled all over the floor, he would have had to clean it up or else listen to Angel bitch. Xander jumped when he heard said vampire's voice behind him as he pulled down the Fruit Loops.

"What did that box of cereal do to you?" Angel's voice was teasing but he was concerned. He had heard what Xander had said and wondered if he had missed another argument between Xander and Spike. Highly doubtful, since they were equally as loud during their arguments as they were their lovemaking which reminded Angel that the spell Willow had cast needed to be renewed. Angel was beginning to hear things he would rather not. Angel would have to remember to ask Buffy to have Willow come by and renew it.

"What are you doing up? I thought you would be tucked in your bed sleeping. After all, isn't this the time that all good little vampires should be sleeping?" Xander poured some cereal into his bowl and turned to get the milk but Angel beat him to it.

"Let me pour, okay? Don't want the milk heading the same way as the cereal did." Before Xander could protest, Angel poured the milk over the cereal. Xander grabbed a spoon, pulled out his chair and flopped down, beginning to eat as Angel explained, "I was going to wake you up and make sure that you were going to school today since you seemed to be....."

"So clueless that I was actually believing the lie he told me?" Before Angel could ask what lie, Xander continued, "Well, I have news for Spike. I am not as stupid as I look! I may be slow on the uptake, but eventually I can weed out the lies and deceptions!"

"What lie are you talking about, Xander?"

"That's what I would like to know." A sleepy but indignant Spike stood at the bedroom door. Xander glanced up and gave him a dirty look before dismissing him and turning his attention onto Angel.

"Would you please tell your childe.....he is your childe, right?" Angel nodded, reaffirming what Xander had remembered. "Tell him that I don't want to speak to him right now, maybe never." Spike rubbed his head, trying to think what he had done wrong while Angel stared dumbfounded at Xander. Xander waved his spoon at Angel. "Tell him!"

"Xander doesn't want to talk to you right now, maybe never."

"Why the bloody hell not?" Spike recuperated a little, making his way into the kitchen. Angel shrugged his shoulders.

"How should I know?"

"You just said----"

"He told me to." Angel pointed at Xander. Spike snorted.

"Do you always do what you're told?"

"When I don't want a mixture of cereal and milk all over my kitchen floor, yeah." Angel pointed at the Count Chocula box lying on the floor. "Evidently, Xander doesn't like vampires much this morning." Xander nodded in agreement. "I'm guessing it's your fault."

"I didn't do anything!" Spike protested. Xander let out a loud snort, almost choking on his last bite of cereal. Covering his mistake, he took the bowl and spoon to the sink and washed it out, putting things in their proper places including the box of cereal.

"Yeah, you did. Sorry, Angel. I shouldn't have taken this out on you." Xander walked into the living room, the two vampires following.

"Is it my imagination, or has the boy gone as crazy as Drusilla?"

"Like a straw." Angel agreed. Xander spun around to face them, pointing his finger at Spike.

"Don't you dare compare me to....," he stopped and stared at Angel. "What?"

"What, what?"

"Like a straw? What the hell does that even mean?" Xander was frustrated now.

"You know.....those crazy straws. Remember them?" Angel made a motion with his hands, trying to explain. Xander shook his head, turning his glare and his finger back onto Spike. "Guess not."

"As I was saying before I was interrupted, never, never, never, never compare me to Drusilla." Xander poked Spike's chest with each never until Spike finally grabbed his hand.

"Calm down and tell me what the problem is, Xander. I'm taking a wild stab in the dark and going with something having to do with Dru?" Spike cocked his head and stared at Xander, waiting for a reply. Xander usually took Spike into his arms every time the vampire did that cute cocking of his head, but not now. Now he was pissed.

"What was the first clue, Spike? Me accusing you of lying or mentioning her name?" Xander pulled his hand back and crossed his arms, staring at the two vampires. Spike looked at Angel, then Xander and back to Angel.

"What did you lie about, Spike?"

"I have no clue, Angel. Everything was fine yesterday....better than fine actually." Spike leered at Xander but that only seemed to make him more angry.

"Oh, don't try using sexy expressions with me or that innocent expression with Angel. I'm not buying it and he's a vampire! He can tell when you are lying Spike. Go ahead, Angel! Bust him!"

"You want me to hit Spike?"

"No, silly! Bust him as in expose his lie for what it was....is....whatever." Xander waved his arms in the air.

"Spike isn't lying, Xander."

"Yes, he is! Now he's got you doing it too!" Xander grabbed his bookbag. "I'm going to school where hopefully my friends aren't going to lie to me as well!" Xander made for the door but both vampires grabbed an elbow, lifted him off the ground and walked back to the living room. Xander kicked out the whole time but got nowhere for his efforts. "No fair double teaming the human!"

"You are not leaving this mansion until you tell us exactly what we are supposed to be lying about." Angel told him, both vampires crossing their arms in duplication of Xander's movement. The three men stood staring at each other for a few minutes before Xander gave up.

"Fine. Spike, when we had that talk in the park after the argument you told me the reason that you kept going back to Dru and forgiving her even after she had cheated on you was because of the sire/childe bond you two had."

"I remember, luv. It was....."

"A convenient way for you to cover up the fact that you love Dru more than you do me!"

"That's a boatload of craziness coming at me this early in the morning when I should be asleep...."

"Don't let me stop you!"

"Xander, what I said last night was not a lie!"

"Yes, it is! You stayed with her for over a century no matter what but after one slip up you left me! It took you a few minutes to almost throw what we had away! I had to almost beg you to forgive me and still you lied to me about your feelings! I'm nothing but amusement for you until Dru comes back!"

"Where is this coming from?" Spike tried to grab Xander but he dodged behind Angel who was beginning to understand what was going on. Before he could say anything, Xander answered Spike's question, tears welling in his eyes but refusing to fall.

"You told me Dru was your SIRE! You said that she was the one who made you into what you are today! Yet you told me when we first saw each other again that you had come back to Sunnydale to help Angel, your SIRE! One way or the other you lied to me!"

"It's complicated, Xander," Angel tried to calm Xander down. "Maybe you should let Spike explain things to you."

"Don't try and cover up for him, Angel!"

"I'm not!"

"I know that you two have been together for a long time, but I was hoping that you would tell me the truth!" Xander suddenly stopped and his mouth fell open as another thought hit him. He began stabbing his finger in first Angel's direction and then towards Spike. "You both lied to me! When Spike told me - or possibly let it slip - that you two had been together....you know...you both assured me it was because you were close due to the sire/childe bond!"

"That was the truth, Xander! We respect and love each other as well, but the sire/childe bond - "

"Oh, save it for someone who's a moron, Spike!" Xander yelled, clearly hurting. "Every time you tell me you've had sex with another vampire it's because of the sire/childe bond." Xander air quoted. "I'm betting if Darla were still around and she came by, you would screw her and then say she was your sire, too!"

"Bloody unlikely!"

"I know for a fact that a vampire can only have one sire, Spike! One!" Xander held up one finger for emphasis.

"That's usually true but......"

"Don't try to cover, Angel! Either Spike lied to me last night about Dru or you and Spike lied to me about your relationship so that I wouldn't wonder what was happening here every day while I was at school......oh, God." Xander ran for the door.

"Xander, wait!" Spike tried to follow but Xander was already in the sunlight. Angel held him back as they watched Xander running off, hearing the words Xander was saying.

"God, I'm so stupid it's a wonder I remember to breathe. I'll ask Giles to look this up for me when I get to school so I can find out the truth.....that is, if I'm not too stupid and forget about it."

"I guess we'll just have to wait until Xander gets home from school before we explain....."

"Like hell! We're getting dressed and using the sewers."

"We? Why we?"

"You can help explain....and you'll get to see your lass." Spike added before Angel could get out his negative answer. Thinking about seeing Buffy put a smile on his face until Spike added, "Because if Xander shares his thoughts on the two of us, you are going to be in for some major groveling if you aren't a pile of dust alongside myself."

"You don't think...." Spike raised his eyebrows and Angel ran off to his room to get dressed. Spike smiled. Angel was so easy to manipulate. Xander wouldn't tell Buffy anything. He had given his promise and Xander never went back on his promises unless it was a life or death matter. Spike hurried to get dressed and met Angel out in the living room. They threw their blankets over their heads and made a mad dash for the entrance to the sewer across from the mansion. The one that would lead them to the back of the library at Sunnydale High School.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander headed straight for the library, wanting to know once and for all what the truth was regarding Spike's transformation from humanity to a vampire. He was tired of being told different stories, being made to feel like a moron and being so damn gullible. A part of him wanted to believe Spike and Angel, knowing the vampires had always been truthful with him for the most part. But another part of him.....the jealous part.....was telling him that he was being played for the fool once again. That Spike and Angel laughed at him behind his back, thinking how easy it was to manipulate the moronic human.

That thought made him throw the library door open, making it hit the wall with a bang. Buffy and Giles didn't even notice the noise, although Willow and Oz jumped as he entered the room. Before they could ask him what the problem was he made his way over to Giles, making good use of the quiet to ask him the question he had been wanting to ask since he had left the mansion. So intent on getting answers that he failed to notice the angry expression on Buffy's face and the equally baffled one on Giles'.

"Giles, where is the book you have about the Aurelius clan and how they were made?" Giles pointed to a particular book, still staring at Buffy for a moment before he realized what Xander had asked.

"What are you looking for in particular, Xander?"

"I'll know it when I see it, Giles." Xander slammed the book on the counter next to Buffy and Giles sighed in desperation. One outraged teenage slayer was bad enough. He certainly didn't need two angry teenagers on his hands. When had his life gotten so out of hand? Giles knew the answer to this question. When he had come to love not only his slayer, but her friends, as if they were his own.

"Xander, let me know if I can assist you. Buffy, you need to try and calm down."

"Don't tell me to calm down!" Buffy was clearly upset and Xander halted for a moment to take a look at Buffy's face. Her expression was a mixture of anger, hurt and sadness while Giles seemed a little taken aback by Buffy's outburst.

"I - I- I only meant ....." A stammering Giles meant the situation, whatever it was, was truly of the bad. Xander completely stopped looking, thinking that his love life could take a back seat for a few minutes if the world was going to end. After all, no world, no relationship.

"They were kids, Giles. Little kids. You don't know what it was like to see them there. My mom can't even talk." Xander heard those words and for the first time, he realized how much weight Buffy carried on her shoulders. Sure, himself along witht he rest of the gang, had seen some terrible things and been through some hellish moments. But they weren't out there every night, finding things like dead kids and they weren't the ones who had to not only protect the world but her loved ones as well. At that moment, Xander felt very sorry for his friend.

"I just wanted to help." Giles apologized and Buffy relaxed a little.

"I know." Wanting to help Xander tested the waters, resting his arms lightly around Buffy's shoulders and giving her a comforting look. She smiled sadly before leaning into him, her head resting on his chest.

"Anyone want to tell me what the hell is going on? I miss one day of school and....."

"There was a murder." Oz simply stated making Xander wish that just this once Oz could be a little less non-verbal.

"Somebody killed two little kids. They were like seven or eight years old." Willow added. Buffy raised her head and turned towards Xander, putting her arms around him. He returned the favor, both knowing they needed the comfort. She looked up at him with the saddest eyes he had ever seen.....except whenever she had problems with Angel.

"As if that weren't bad enough, my mother was the one who found them."

"Why was your mother there in the first place?" Xander asked and Buffy sighed.

"More bad. She picked last night of all nights for a surprise bonding visit. And while I was trying to dust Mr. Sanderson from the bank she stumbled across them in the park."

"That's terrible, Buffy." Xander held her close, wondering how to make his friend feel better. "As awful as this is, and believe me, this is the uber-awful, something good did come out of this."

"What?" Buffy looked at him hopefully. She always knew her Xander shaped friend could make her smile even in the worst of circumstances and was hoping that he would keep his record. He didn't disappoint when she heard his words and a small smile crept onto her face.

"You don't have to pay Mr. Sanderson back for that fancy mailbox you demolished when we had the wreck."

"I wouldn't call it demolished.

"Buffy, there was nothing left. Some of the pieces were on his roof. If that's not demolished....."

"I still say he had it sitting too close to the road."

"It was almost on the sidewalk."

"And he wanted me to pay him $250.00 for it. Who has a mailbox that's worth that much?" Xander shrugged.

"Brad Pitt? Johnny Depp? Banker's who know how to forge receipts?" Buffy laughed and then smiled fondly at Xander. "Why do you have that "aw, isn't that sweet expression" on your face?"

"Because you are sweet." Buffy gave him a hug. "And I don't know what I would do without you, Xander. You always know how to make me laugh even during the toughest of times. To make me realize that my entire life doesn't suck when I have friends like you guys. Thanks." Xander blushed as they hugged.

"That's my superpower. Hey, we all have them." Xander protested as they broke their hug and everyone stared at them. "Oz is a werewolf, Willow's a witch, Giles is super smart and you're the Slayer. I have to have some superpower."

"You could be the heart of the group." Willow chimed in.

"The heart. I like that. I might get a t-shirt that says that." Everyone stopped and stared at him again. "Hey, the heart is better than being the lung or the kidney but not better than the penis."

"Xander!" Giles, Buffy and Willow admonished while Oz grinned.

"What? Nothing can defeat the penis so I would be uhm...."

"Undefeatable." Oz helped out.

"Exactly." Xander walked over and gave Oz a high five as the girls rolled their eyes.

"Men. They always know how to ruin the nicest moments by bringing up sex." Willow sighed as Buffy turned to face Giles.

"Anything yet?"

"Uhm, well, do we know how they were killed? It wasn't a vampire, was it?" Giles sat on the table, almost falling off of it as they heard another voice come from the back of the stacks.

"Why do we always get blamed for every death on the Hellmouth. There are more monsters out there than us, including other people." Spike tried to pout as he and Angel descended the steps. Buffy ran over to hug Angel while Spike walked over to Xander.

"What are you two doing here?" Buffy asked the question Xander was just about to ask before adding. "It doesn't matter. I'm just glad you....did you hear?"

"About the children?" Buffy nodded. "Yeah, we did."

"Any ideas, because Giles can't seem to find anything."

"Buffy, it might help me if you could tell me anything else about the crime scene. Much as I hate to say this, Spike does have a point about the fact that it could be a crime committed by a human. After all, if there were no marks or symbols....."

"Wait! There was a symbol. How could I forget." Buffy stepped around the chair, grabbed a pen from the table and sat down to draw the symbol. Giles hurriedly set his mug down and quickly reached out to stop Buffy before she could write on the parchment in front of her.

"Oh, uh, 12 century, Papal Encyclical." Giles explained before moving a pad over to replace the parchment. "Write on this."

"I-it was on their hands. The police are trying to keep it quiet, but I got a good look at it." She finished the drawing and pushed it over so that everyone could get a good look at it. "There. Find me the thing that uses this symbol and point me at it." Giles made a hmmming noise while Spike and Angel exchanged glances.

"What's with the hmmm's and the looking at each other like that. Do you guys know what killed those kids?"

"What? Oh, sorry. Um, no, it....I just wonder if we're looking for a thing."

"Splainy." Buffy urged before Angel joined in the conversation.

"What Giles is trying to say is that the use of a symbol like that on a victim usually means the murder had something to do with a ritual of some kind."

"Or a cult sacrifice by a group." Spike added while Buffy shook her head as if not believing what she was hearing.

"You guys are trying to tell me that someone with a soul actually murdered two innocent little kids?" They nodded as Spike stepped forward.

"Welcome to the real world. slayer."

"Spike, don't....not now."

"Come on, Angel. The slayer and her scoobies need to know that not all bad things that happen on the Hellmouth are due to demons and vampires. She should have learned that after what happened to her and Xander." Everyone turned to look at Xander and Spike wished he had someone that would tape his mouth shut before he said things he shouldn't. "Pet, I'm sorry about that."

"Sorry for what? You actually told the truth that time." Xander shrugged, making it clear that he still believed Spike was lying to him about Dru.

"Xander...."

"Not now. We have to find who killed these little kids and make them pay whether they are demons or humans."

"Xander, no....." Willow started before Buffy turned to Giles.

"Okay. While you, Spike and Angel....if they'll help...." the two vampires nodded, "are looking for the meaning of that symbol thingy, could you also find a loophole in that 'Slayers don't kill people' rule?"

"Buffy, this is a dreadful crime, I know and you have every right to be upset, but...I-I wonder if you're not letting yourself get a shade, uh....more personal because of your mother's involvement."

"Oh, it's *completely* personal, Giles. Find me the people that did this. Please." Willow stood up, knocking over some of her books and tablets. Oz and Xander began picking them up before waving her off. They both knew what she was up to.

"Buffy, I know you're upset about your mom finding those kids.....and God, I can't believe your mom would actually take the time to do that with you." Buffy shot Willow a look. "That really wasn't the point I was trying to make here. You are the Slayer. The person that embodies goodness. You can't possibly be thinking about....."

"I'm a daughter, too, Willow. You didn't see how shook up my mom was. How scared. That's the whole reason I never told her I was a Slayer in the first place. I never wanted to see that fear on my mother's face. Part of me is glad that mom knows what I do so I don't have to sneak out or lie anymore but another part of me wishes that she didn't know so that she wouldn't get hurt or wigged out."

"It's that bad?" Willow's voice was sympathetic.

"Beyond bad. She's completely wigging out...."

"Who's wigging?"

Buffy and the gang turned around to see Joyce standing behind them. While Angel and Spike had seen Joyce enter, the others were too busy doing other things to notice and were completely taken off guard, especially Buffy who was searching for an answer.

"Um, everyone. You know, 'cause of what happened."

"Oh, it's so awful. I-I had bad dreams about it all night." Joyce wrung her hands. Spike walked over and put his arm around Joyce and she accepted the comfort gratefully. Angel had to shake his head at the interplay between Joyce and Spike. Joyce had taken an instant dislike to him that had gradually turned into a lukewarm relationship once she knew that Buffy was head over heels in love with Angel. The way he had treated her when he was Angelus didn't help either. But even before that.....yet Spike had come along, made no excuses for being a vampire and Joyce had welcomed him into her home like she was a long lost relative. She had even fixed him hot chocolate with little marshmallows several times and had sat for hours watching Passions, laughing at Spike as he yelled something about a guy named Timmy falling down some well again. Angel had to work hard in order to make friends with humans whereas they gathered around Spike like moths to the flame. Angel guessed it was because Spike had so much of his humanity still inside of him. If he didn't, Spike would have turned Xander and made a vampire consort out of him instead of preferring the human side.

"I'm sorry you had to see something that awful, Mrs. Summers."

"Thank you, Angel." Joyce gave him a small smile before turning back to Buffy. "Have you talked to Mr. Giles yet about who could have done this?"

"Yeah. He, uh, well, Giles, Angel and Spike seem to think that it might have something to do with some kind of ritual. A cult. Uh, they're still looking. In the meantime, we're gonna add to my patrol and, and, y'know, keep an eye out."

"A cult? Like witches?" Willow began to cough while Buffy smacked her on the back.

"Sorry. Phlegm. Too much dairy." Willow tried to explain her coughing spell away but Joyce wasn't buying it.

"Oh, I-I-I know you kids think that stuff's cool. Buffy told me you dabble."

"You did?" Buffy nodded, mouthing an 'I'm sorry'. "Right. I'm a dabbler. Yep. Just a dabbler. Nothing hard core."

"But anybody who could do this isn't cool. Anybody who could do this has to be a monster. It's....."

"You know what? Let's go for a walk." Buffy led her mother away from Spike, Joyce waving good-bye to everyone as they exited the library."

"What a burn. I mean Buff's mom was just starting to accept the whole Slayer thing, and now she's gonna be double-freaked." Xander finished replacing the books and notepads not noticing that one of Willow's notepads got mixed up with his stuff.

"Yeah. Makes me grateful that my mom's not interested in my extra-curricular activities." Willow sat back down, pushing the drawing over to Giles, Spike and Angel without glancing at it. "Or my curricular activities."

"I hear ya." Xander agreed. Before Spike could talk to Xander, Buffy returned looking worse than before she exited. "Buff, what's wrong.....well, wronger."

"I tried to explain to my mom that we were all going to investigate what happened to those little kids and that we would find whoever did it. I tried to explain to her that I wasn't embarrassed that she was here at the school, that it was just.....well, she represents home and the library, halls and lockers represent school. I don't want them mixed together, or else my world will dissolve."

"Do you feel that way about us being here?" Spike asked Xander, who shook his head before grinning.

"Do you look like my mother." Both Angel and Spike shuddered and shook their heads. "Hey! I'll have you know my mother was actually really pretty.....like Joyce....until she started drinking and not caring."

"We believe you." They chorused before Buffy spoke again.

"That's not the worst of it. I have to warn you guys. My mom called everybody she knows in town and told them about the dead children. She said they were just as upset as she was. So they called all their friends. And guess what else?"

"Her friends friends called all their friends and those friends called more friends....."

"Xander!"

"Sorry. Continue."

"They set up a vigil for tonight at City Hall. Mom said the Mayor was even gonna be there. She is sure that with his help, they'll get something accomplished."

"If by 'they' you mean the Sunnydale PD or the judges or bigwigs that run this town, they couldn't find their head if it was stuck up their ass." Xander pointed out, still bitter about how easily his parents had gotten off after almost killing himself and Buffy. Spike put his arm around Xander and noticed that Xander didn't shrug it off. Yes, Xander was so bummed, he had forgotten that he was pissed at Spike and Spike didn't know whether that was a good sign or a bad one.

"Well, what's done is done." Giles took off his glasses and began rubbing them furiously. "I suggest we all go tonight and keep an eye out. See if anyone is acting suspiciously."

"What do you expect to see, Officer Giles? A bunch of demons standing in the corner with signs proclaiming their innocence or their involvement in the murders? I'm sure they'll fit right in with all the human parents." Willow giggled but muffled it with her hand when Giles glared at her before turning to Xander.

"I was merely stating that if it were a human crime, the person may come to the meeting just to gloat or to see whether anyone saw him or knows anything. Criminals have been known to do such things."

"You've been watching way too much "Cops" or "World's Dumbest Criminals."

"I do not watch television. I don't even own one." Giles protested.

"My God! You are un-American!"

"I'm British, for God's sakes. We've known each other for almost three years and you haven't picked up on my British accent?"

"You could be faking it."

"Why would I----"

"To attract women. Everyone knows that foreign accents turn American women on."

"I would never stoop....maybe, I would but I don't have to because this accent is legitimate."

"Then I have one thing to say to you, Giles. You're in America now, buster. And while I allow you to drink that yucky Earl Grey, tea....."

"Hey! Don't put down....." Spike

"Allow me? You allow me? Who is the adult here?" Giles interrupted. Buffy stepped up to calm everyone down, even though she hoped they were playfully arguing.

"We go to the meeting so we can make sure my mom or some other parent doesn't do anything stupid." Buffy picked up her books. "Come on guys. Guess we have to go to class." Xander turned to Spike.

"We'll discuss what we need to at lunch....that is, if you are staying to help Giles." Spike nodded and watched as Xander followed the girls out of the library. Spike had to smile as he heard Xander's comment to the others as they exited. "Giles is so easy to wind up. I love yanking his chain and making him get his mind off the demonic stuff for a little while so his head doesn't explode."

"What if you piss Giles off and he becomes Ripper?"

"No worries, Will. I still think I can outrun him." Spike was still chuckling when Angel handed him the book he had found that Xander had been looking through. After looking at it, Spike became serious.

"What do the Watcher's say?"

"That Drusilla sired you."

"And that you....."

"Nope. Nothing in there about that whatsoever." Angel felt a little put out about that. After all, if he was supposed to be the big bad assed vampire that the Watchers wrote about, they could at least get everything right.

"Bugger."




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