He was covered in warmth. He didn’t really remember what it felt like to have a fever. 250 years of being dead would do that to you but he was pretty sure it must have felt like this. Warmth spreading thru his body.
Small huffs of warm air. An almost inaudible murmuring voice. He loved these mornings. Mornings spend cuddling. Angel slowly turned around so he ended up laying on his back. Xander was now resting against the vampire’s broad chest and the boy made a small snuffling sound and clenched his hands around Angel’s upper arms.
The nightmares were almost completely gone. It had taken three months of holding Xander tight and stroking his back to give him a restful sleep. Warm lips pressed against Angel’s shoulder as Xander moved impossibly closer, snuggling into the vampire’s embrace.
Xander still didn’t laugh and rarely smiled. Cordy had made it her personal crusade to make Xander laugh. She still hadn’t been successful. Not that something like that would deter her. Angel kissed the top of Xander’s head and closed his eyes.
He found it harder and harder to keep his physical contact with Xander non-sexual. Angelus accepted the boy as his pet. A pet in need of protection and discipline. But the demon’s idea of discipline was corporal punishment, wearing Xander’s defences down and taking what Angelus wanted.
Angel wanted to protect Xander as well. But the soul’s reasons differed greatly from the demon’s. Angel wanted to protect Xander from harm. Protect him so he could grow strong and independent. Angelus simply wanted to protect what he perceived to be his property.
Xander’s heartbeat slowly picket up speed as he woke up. Sleepy brown eyes looked into Angel’s.
“It’s time to get up, Xander.” Angel whispered and ran a hand thru the boy’s dark curls. A muttered protest made the vampire smile “I know you’re comfy” his strong hands moved from the silky locks to Xander’s back “but we need to get up and remember…we agreed that you should start your training today.”
“Five more minutes, please?” Xander wheedled and didn’t move an inch.
“Ah the dead arise.” Cordy teased when Angel and Xander joined the ex-cheerleader and the rest of the crew in the kitchen. Xander looked down at the floor but not before Fred caught the small smile that briefly appeared on his face. She would have to remember to tell Cordy about that.
They ate breakfast and talked about their latest case. An old lady had called and said she thought that maybe her late husband “dear Reggie” was haunting her house. “He keeps moving the furniture around and writes obscene things on my new flowery wallpaper.” she had complained on the phone.
“Probably some old crazy woman with cats living in her hair.” Gunn said as he drank his coffee.
“In her hair?” Wesley asked and looked worried. Fred giggled and shook her head.
Cordy smiled and watched Angel pour milk in Xander’s glass. Without a word the vampire slowly moved the glass closer to Xander and put another piece of buttered toast on the young man‘s plate. Xander looked at Angel.
“We’ll be training later. You’ll need your strength.” Angel said. Xander just nodded and ate it all.
Xander stood in the training room Angel had made in the basement of the hotel. Gunn and Angel were pulling the training mats out on the floor.
“We’ll start off by working on how to fall right.” Gunn said and moved over to Xander. He made sure not to touch him “You’ll be training with me” Xander looked anxiously over at Angel “Angel is gonna stay and watch…make sure you’re okay.”
“I asked him to do this, Xander.” Angel said as he moved closer to the boy “I’m afraid I might hurt you without wanting to.” the vampire touched Xander’s shoulder “Gunn is human. He has the same weak points as you and he’s not too strong for you to spar with him.” Xander reluctantly nodded and Angel moved away to give the two humans room.
Gunn and Xander trained for half an hour. Xander seemed to grow more confident as the two men sparred. Angel was leaning against the wall watching Xander move when it happened. Gunn caught Xander on the shoulder with a surprise attack that send the younger man to the floor.
Xander landed with a loud thud on his stomach and Gunn rushed over to help. Xander’s t-shirt had been pulled up exposing most of his back. The words William The Bloody still stood out as angry pink scars against the young man’s pale back. Gunn leaned over Xander and put a hand against the his back. The reaction was instant.
Xander turned around and pushed Gunn away sending the street fighter sprawling on the mat. Xander grabbed hold of Gunn’s shoulder with one hand while he kept punching him in the face with the other.
“I was good I was I was” Xander screamed. Angel pulled him off the bleeding Gunn “I did what you wanted I was good I was always good. You bastard. Bastard!” Xander yelled as Angel held him close.
“He’s sleeping.” Angel said and closed the door to his and Xander’s bedroom behind him. Gunn was waiting in the hallway. He was leaning against Wesley and holding an icepack against the bruises on his face.
“He’s gonna be okay, right?” Gunn asked as he removed the icepack revealing a swollen cheek and eye.
“I think so.” Angel nodded “I’m sorry, Gunn. I had no idea…”
“Don’t sweat it, man. Look…this proves that he can protect himself.” Gunn grinned “And even if he had to kick my black ass for us to find out that’s gotta be good news.”
The driver of the dark car racing down the highway reached over to turn the volume up. The music blared out and filled the car. The driver sang along.
“I am an anarchist. Don't know what I want.” He sniggered. Oh he knew what he wanted. ”But I know how to get it. I wanna destroy the passerby” He had paid for the information. Well…he’d said he would pay. What he actually did was break the wanker’s neck after he got what he wanted.
And now he was off to LA. Off to visit Peaches and check up on his pet.
”And I wanna be an anarchist” Spike took a swig from the almost empty bottle of Jack Daniels. He opened the window and threw the bottle out. ”Get pissed ” the blond vampire sang ”Destroy!”
Xander murmured contentedly and Angel smiled down at him. The last few days since the incident in the training room had been difficult to get thru. Mostly because Xander felt guilty every time he caught a glimpse of the bruises on Gunn’s face. But the street fighter’s attitude toward Xander had made the boy relax and they had even resumed their sparring sessions.
Angel ran a hand over Xander’s shoulder and the boy moved closer to the vampire. Xander slowly shifting onto his side. They were facing each other. Angel’s hands were clenched under the covers. He wanted to touch , to run his hands down all that warm skin. But he wouldn’t not unless Xander made the first move. And Xander wouldn’t, Angel thought, because the boy wasn’t…
Xander inched closer and briefly - chastely - kissed Angel. The vampire was so stunned that he froze and didn’t move. Xander immediately noticed and looked away.
”Sorry.” the young man whispered anxiously. Angel reached out, gently pulled Xander closer and kissed him. Held him close and moved so Xander was resting on top of Angel.
”Angel?” Gunn was knocking on the door ”Hey, man! Cordy just had a vision.”
”What?” Angel sighed and looked over at the door and frowned. ”Can’t you guys take care of it on your own?” he huffed.
”No.” Gunn sniggered ”Get your ass out here. Cordy said we would need you.” Gunn sounded amused.
Xander kissed Angel’s neck and moved away. He watched as Angel got dressed. Just as Angel was about to close the door behind him he caught Xander’s tentative smile and smiled back.
Whenever Angel had to leave the hotel he made sure someone else stayed with Xander. But because Xander didn’t really trust anyone he almost always ended up locking himself in the bathroom.
Lorne would sit on the floor leaning against the locked bathroom door and sing for Xander. If Fred was the one staying with him she would talk and babble about magic and science and books she’d read. Anything to take Xander’s mind of his vampire-less state. Cordy would rave on about just how amazingly annoying her neighbours were or what Dennis the ghost had been up to lately.
They weren’t really sure he was listening. He rarely answered. Never talked unless Angel was around as if he was afraid to say the wrong thing. When Angel came back the vampire would knock on the door and tell Xander he was back. The door was always immediately unlocked and Xander would gravitate toward Angel and sigh contently when he was hugged against the vampire’s chest.
And because it had turned out that the old lady wasn’t crazy and didn’t have cats living in her hair - not to mention that her husband was indeed haunting her house - Cordy was staying behind with Xander while the rest of the crew went off to help the old lady.
“And then I told her that honestly if I was wearing what was obviously last seasons colours I wouldn’t be bitching about the length of someone else’s skirt.”
Xander listened to Cordy’s voice slightly muffled by the bathroom door.
“And then she said…Are you listening, Xander?” Xander made an affirmative sound “Good. Right she said…” Cordy stopped. Xander could hear her move on the other side of the door.
“Cordy?” he asked.
“Xander I’m just gonna go downstairs. It sounds like someone just came in…but” Cordy sounded uncertain.
“I locked the front doors and I don’t think Angel and the boys are back yet…I’ll just go check. Okay?” The sound of Cordy’s shoes click clacking on the floor disappeared down the hallway.
Xander waited and waited. Nothing. Cordy didn’t come back. He would have to…a thud and a strangled scream made Xander unlock the door and rip it open. He ran down the hallway and the stairs.
Suddenly he couldn’t breathe. He started shaking.
Cordy was on the floor in the middle of the lobby. Knocked out. Oh God Please let her be knocked out, Xander frantically thought. The only other person in the lobby turned and looked straight at Xander and said
For a few mind numbing fear filled minutes Xander thought he was back in the old abandoned house. Back on that stinking mattress waiting. His head hurt and he was almost certain he had a concussion. He touched the back of his head and his fingers came back drenched in blood.
He felt cold. Cold and frightened and disorientated. There was something…like when you walk into a room and have this feeling that you went there with a purpose. Maybe you just wanted to find a spoon or a CD or whatever but suddenly you just can’t remember why you’re standing there looking for God knows what. That feeling of knowing something and yet not knowing was driving him crazy.
He looked around the room. The wallpaper seemed vaguely familiar. Stylish but simple. He attempted to turn around slowly shifting to his side but had to stop. Broken ribs. The pain momentarily froze every movement. Small shallow breaths. Then a new attempt. He succeeded and was now facing Cordy. Blood smeared over her face. Broken nose.
He was about to reach out and touch her when the sound of a door opening made him look up. Black boots filled his view and a rush of fear made his breath hitch.
“Ya look good, Xander.” Spike said as he crouched down in front of the two humans. He was smiling as if this was a chance meeting between long lost friends. As if Xander was glad to see him again.
“No.” Xander whispered and slowly scooted back across the floor. And now he recognised the room. It was Angel’s room. It was their bedroom. “No.” he repeated when his back hit the wall farthest from the blond vampire.
“No?” Spike laughed “You don’t look good?” and Xander realised that even though he had removed himself from Spike’s immediate vicinity Cordy was still right there. Unconscious in front of Spike.
Spike ran a pale hand thru Cordy’s hair. He smiled at Xander.
“No.” Xander said again. He felt impotent, useless. No matter what he did or said he couldn’t stop the vampire.
“Pretty one isn’t she?” Spike turned Cordy over on her back.
“Are ya telling me what I can or can’t do, pet?” Spike asked, his eyes tinted with gold. Xander shook his head. “No? Then what?” the blond vampire tilted his head and smiled.
Xander knew what he would have to do. Knew it and still wasn’t sure he could. Wasn’t sure he would survive it. He had survived it once, barely, but could he repeat that performance? Cordy moaned. She was waking up.
Xander slowly stood up ribs screaming in protest as he moved closer to the vampire. When all was said and done…when he looked at all the possible outcomes of this…You could always live with doing the right thing. He needed to believe that. He needed it to be true even if he knew it wasn’t.
Spike was scrutinising Xander’s every move. The young man stopped by the bed. Angel’s bed by the scent of it. Angel’s and Xander’s. The vampire smiled. Oh but wouldn’t it be sweet to leave Angel a little message right there in the middle of that big bed. A message written in blood and gore. A message telling the souled bastard that he, Angel, had failed his duty. Had failed to protect the humans. Oh yes Angel would walk in to find his pet and his seer broken. Disembowelled, eviscerated, lost.
“Man! For a second there I thought my ears would fall right off.” Gunn said when they slowly walked back to the Hyperion “I mean yeah so she didn’t have any cats in her hair or anywhere else but why did she think we wanted to see all her fucking picture albums.”
“My eyeballs are dry.” Wesley deadpanned and Gunn laughed.
“She did seem to like you a lot, English.” the street fighter teased. “But ya gotta wonder…If those pictures were anything to go by” Gunn said “they looked happy so why the hell did her dead husband decide to haunt her and write smut on her living room walls?”
“Jealousy.” Angel explained “She was getting on with her life…seeing new people and he…well he was dead.” The two humans nodded in agreement.
“Till death do us part.” Wesley mumbled.
Fred was really excided. She had bought a dress at the mall. Cordy had told her that she should wear dresses and skirts. That she shouldn’t hide her “sexy leg” in jeans anymore. So Fred had gone out and bought a beautiful blue dress. Simple in it’s design but beautiful none the less. She fished thru her purse for the key to the Hyperion’s front doors. When she finally found them she noticed that the door was already standing ajar.
What she didn’t notice as she walked thru the open doors was that the handle was hanging loose. Broken.
“Cordy!” she yelled and ran up the stairs “You gotta see this dress. It’s so beautiful.”
Xander froze. Spike looked from the young man to the door and smiled.
“Well well well.” the vampire said and rubbed his hands together. “Looks like we’ll be getting company.” the smile on Spike’s face was almost blinding.
“Cordy?” they heard Fred yell somewhere down the hallway.
“I’ll do anything you want, Spike.” Xander said eyes travelling from Cordy on the floor to the closed door leading to the hallway “Anything.” the young man emphasized.
“I know.” Spike said and casually sat down on the bed “I know you’ll do anything.” the vampire got up again and walked over to Xander. Spike looked him in the eyes. He seemed to be searching for something. “You’d do anything to save the girls wouldn’t ya?” Spike looked over at Cordy. She was slowly moving her head back and forth.
“Yes” Xander answered. The sound of Fred coming closer all the time “Let Fred go, please.” Xander looked down at his feet and said “I-I…I’ll be g-good.” Spike laughed and backhanded Xander so hard the human fainted.
Someone was crying. Quietly. Almost as if they hadn’t even noticed it themselves. Xander’s head felt heavy and his vision was a little blurred. He was on the bed hands above his head tied to the headboard with…shoelaces?
“Coming around again then, pet.” Spike’s voice sounded triumphant. Xander lifted his head and slowly scanned the room. Cordy was curled up in the farthest corner. Her hands tied together with a belt. Xander’s belt. The ex-cheerleader’s eyes were big and frightened. Cordy frantically tilted her head in the direction of the door making Xander turn his head. He gasped when he saw Spike standing there holding on to a sobbing Fred. The vampire’s fingers were digging into the girl’s slender upper arm.
“See, bint” Spike laughed “’E’s waking up” he traced his other hand up the side of Fred’s body “Think he can save ya?” Fred closed her eyes. Spike pulled her closer and tied her hands together behind her back. He dumped her unceremoniously next to Cordy.
“Ya girls think Xander wants ta play?” Spike was crouched in front of the two women “I taught ’im all kinds of tricks, I did. Maybe we should show these lovely ladies some of them, Xander?” Spike walked over to the bed and smiled down at the struggling man. “Now none of that, ya hear. If ya fight me I’ll just ’ave ta get me a new pet.” the vampire looked over at Cordy and Fred.
“No…please don’t.” Xander begged.
“Ya always begged so nicely. You’ll be good?” Spike asked. Xander felt like throwing up. His wrists hurt and a small trickle of blood ran down his arm.
“I…I’ll be good.” the answer made the vampire smirk.
“Yeah I know ya will.” Spike licked his lips and turned to look at the girls “Ya’re in for a treat.” he said as he unzipped Xander’s pants and roughly pulled them down.
“Bastard.” Cordy yelled “Fucking bastard. Angel’s gonna dust your ass!”
“Angel, man dust his ass!” Gunn yelled as they were attacked by a group of fledges.
Xander closed his eyes. If he couldn’t see it happening maybe then he could pretend. Maybe.
“Open ya eyes, pet.” Spike said as he loomed over the young man “Ya gotta watch this. Can’t hide away.” Xander shuddered “Ya want ya girls ta see ya all weak like that?“ the vampire mocked.
“Please.” Fred begged quietly.
“Ya hear that, Xander? Can’t keep our audience waiting now can we.” Spike pushed Xander’s thighs apart. “Always so bloody warm.” Spike moaned as he roughly pushed himself into the shivering body.
Xander could faintly hear Fred, or was it Cordy?, throwing up. He tried to focus on that. The sound of a throat working and gagging, the quiet sobbing of……no that was him. He was the one sobbing.
Angel brushed the last remnants of dust off his leather jacket and turned to check on Gunn and Wesley. The two humans were both arguing about the body or in this case the vamp count.
“Let’s get back to the hotel.” Angel said “Xander must be worried.”
Xander was on his stomach with Spike straddling his lower back. Xander could see Cordy and Fred in the corner. The two women were sitting as close to each other as they could. Their eyes red. Cordy hadn’t looked away once. It was as if she was burning the image of Xander’s torture into her brain. Remembering every thrust, every bite.
“Now let’s renew this ‘ere. Right, pet?” Spike said and ran his hand over the letters carved into Xander’s back. The vampire traced the W and the I “Hmmm these are almost gone. Guess I’ll just ’ave ta cut deeper this time. Yeah…” Spike seemed to consider that for a while slowly turning the small sharp knife in his hand. “Could mark ya good an’ proper.” he said and pinched the skin on Xander’s neck, the human gasped.
“Could mark ya so the Poof couldn’t take ya from me.”
Something was wrong. He sensed it before he saw the broken door handle. Knew it when they walked into the lobby. The blood splattered on the floor was silent, irrevocable proof.
Xander felt his gaze held by Cordy’s. Her beautiful eyes made him feel safe. Despite everything. Despite the pain. Despite…
“Almost done with ya back, pet.” Spike said as he started cutting the last few letters “Then I’ll mark ya. Claim ya as mine.”
Angel held his hand up. Gunn and Wesley stopped moving. The two men stood silently in the lobby watching the tall vampire. Angel scented the air. Picking up faint traces of Cordy and Fred. Apart from the two women the hotel reeked of fear and blood. Xander’s blood and the stench of the Aurelius clan. Spike. It took all of Angel’s willpower to stay focused.
Spike climbed off the bed. Xander felt cold. The sheets were drenched in cooling blood. Spike reached out and moved a lock of dark hair out of Xander’s eyes.
“Pretty.” the vampire murmured “Shouldn’t ’ave let the bitch and the poof take ya from me. Should ’ave fought ’em or…” Spike leant down and kissed Xander’s pale cheek “Maybe I should ’ave killed ya.” The knife cut a thin trail down Xander’s arm “Should ’ave used ya and killed ya. Should ’ave left ya on the Slayer’s doorstep.”
Spike put the knife away and started stroking Xander’s back not paying heed to the deep cuts. “Should ‘ave claimed ya. Made ya mine.” the vampire brought his hand covered in blood to his lips. “’S not too late, pet.” Spike whispered in Xander’s ear. “Not too late ta make ya mine.”
Angel was standing outside the door. Gunn was behind him carrying a crossbows. Angel looked over at Gunn and nodded. The street fighter took a step back and kicked the door in.
One moment Xander was clutching the blood covered sheets, his eyes closed as he attempted to stay conscious despite the pain in his neck. The next he was pulled off the bed and thrown in the corner landing between Cordy and Fred. Spike was standing in front of them facing Angel and Gunn. The human had a crossbow pointed at Spike. Angel was in game face. Snarling.
Xander started shaking. Finally feeling the last remnants of his strength seep out of him. Out of the wounds covering his back. Out of the shallow pinpoints in his neck. He felt warm hands on his shoulders. “You’ll be all right Xander.”
And it was comforting…
Even if it was a lie.
Angel took in every detail of the room in a split second. Cordy’s broken nose. Fred’s tears. The bed. Rumbled sheets covered in blood. There was even a bloody handprint on the wall above the headboard. Spike standing in front of the three humans. Standing in front of Xander. The blood running down Xander’s back and shoulders.
Spike. Spike. Spike.
Gunn was pointing the crossbow at the blond vampire. The stench of blood was overwhelming and even if the street fighter wasn’t a vamp he could still practically smell the fear filling the room. Angel was focused on Spike and he took a step toward the smaller vampire. Gunn followed a few steps behind eyes moving from the three humans cowering on the floor to the vamp.
“Let them go!” Angel demanded eyes locked with Spike’s.
“The boy belongs ta me.” the blond vampire said and grabbed Xander by the hair. The young man gasped. “I claimed ’im. ’E’s mine!” Spike insisted.
“You didn’t finish it, William.” Angel growled “He isn’t yours if you don’t finish the claiming.”
Spike snarled and his fingers clenched harder around Xander’s hair.
“You were always so fucking useless, Spike. Never had any patience. Pathetic.” Angel’s words made the other vampire growl and attack.
Gunn let the arrow fly. It hit the blond vampire’s shoulder. Making him stumble a few steps backwards. He looked down at the metal arrow and laughed. “Bloody ’ell, Angel. ’M not a werewolf.” Spike grabbed the arrow and pulled it out.
“Not trying to kill you, William.” Angel said taking a few more steps toward the swaying vampire.
“You‘re not?” Spike sounded mildly surprised.
“No.” Angel shook his head.
“You’ll be feeling a bit dizzy.” Gunn said gesturing with the crossbow.
“Whot?” Spike looked confused.
“Tranquilizer,” Gunn simply said and pointed at the arrow in Spike’s hand.
”Everything’s prepared, Angel.” Wesley said and helped chain Spike to the chair.
”Good.” Angel said and pulled on the chains to make sure they would hold.
”Angel? Is this really what you want. I mean…” Wesley’s voice trailed off.
”Yes.” Angel answered and walked out of the room.
Xander was curled up on the bed covered with Gunn’s jacket. Cordy had tried to touch him but the young man had begged her not to. Fred clung to Gunn’s side. Her eyes big and frightened.
Angel stood in the doorway for a few seconds before he spoke.
”Gunn take Fred and Cordy to the ER.” Gunn nodded but then turned and looked at Xander.
”And Xander? What about him?” the human asked.
”I’ve already called a healer.” Angel answered his eyes not leaving the shivering body on the bed.
”You what!” Cordy yelled and was pointing a shaking finger at Angel ”You what!” she repeated almost silently. Wesley reached out to touch her shoulder. To calm her down but the ex-cheerleader moved away.
”It’s done, Cordy.” the vampire said eyes firmly locked on the top of the table. ”It’s done and that’s it.”
”And Xander?” she asked eyes dark and angry ”What about him? What about what he wants? Needs?”
Angel looked up at the ceiling. Xander was upstairs in one of the spare rooms. Lorne was with him. ”When Xander is well enough to hear…to understand…I’ll tell him.”
The screaming was driving Gunn insane. The begging as well. Spike just wouldn’t shut up.
But it was Xander’s silence that drove the street fighter out of the hotel.
Angel watched Xander. Waited. Xander looked at him as if he’d never noticed Angel before.
”Where is he?” Xander asked.
”In the basement. Locked up. Chained.” Angel answered.
”A soul?” Xander’s eyes seemed almost vacant ”You punished him by giving him a soul?” There was pain hidden in his voice. Pain and disappointment. Angel nodded.
”Get out.” Xander whispered.
Angel stood outside the door to their bedroom. A new one because Xander wouldn’t sleep in the old one. He stood there and listened to Xander. The boy was sobbing. Angel opened the door and walked back in. Stopped when he saw Xander hunched over on the floor. Hands wrapped around his middle. Xander slowly rocked back and forth. A mumbled promise whispered to the floor.
”I’ll be good.”
Xander looked up at Angel. They were standing in front of the door leading to the room where Spike had spend the last month. A stake was placed in the human’s hand.
”You can’t kill him” Angel reminded Xander and embraced the young man ”And you” the vampire said turning to Cordy ”keep him safe.” Angel’s hand was resting on Xander’s shoulder. Cordy nodded.
Spike looked up as the door opened. Someone walked in and the door was closed again. He tried to focus. He was so tired. His throat felt raw from all the screaming.
Hours, days, a month he had been trapped in this room. In this chair. Being revisited by all his victims again and again. His mother was the most frequent one. Her presents always heralded by the scent of lavender. The scent of simpler days and sunshine. The scent of his childhood.
The others were always preceded by the stench of blood and fear. Of humiliation and anger. Spike had begged Angel to stake him. To end his misery. Angel said only one word.
Spike looked so small sitting chained to the chair. Small and fragile. His skin seemed grey. Xander’s hand tightened around the stake. Spike looked up at Xander. Was he smiling?
“X-Xander?” the blond vampire asked and squinted slightly. Xander didn’t answer but looked over at Cordy standing by the wall. Her eyes were locked on Spike.
“Yes.” Xander answered. He walked closer to the chained vampire and knelt down. Spike’s eyes were big and disbelieving.
“Y-you died?” Spike seemed to shrink a little.
“I wanted to…but no. I didn’t die.” the young man looked into the vampire’s red tear-filled eyes “Are you in pain?”
“Y-yes I-I’m…in pain.” Spike stuttered.
“Good.” Cordy said “It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving vamp.”
Xander placed the stake on the floor in front of the chained vampire.
“I’ll give you something you never gave me.” Xander said still kneeling in front of Spike “Sometimes when you were using me“ Spike flinched “…when you passed me around to your friends…I’d dream about it…Death. Dreamt about having the choice.” Xander’s voice grew in strength “So I’ll grant you this.”
The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. He unlocked one of the shackles around Spike’s wrist then got up and stepped back “I’m sure you can reach the stake.” Xander walked to the door, opened it and walked out leaving Spike and Cordy behind.
“I hope you use it” Cordy said and looked at the stake on the floor. She walked over to the open door, paused and turned around “He’s not Xander anymore, you know. The Xander I knew always had hope. You took that away from him. He might be breathing and making all the appropriate noises but you still killed him.”
The seer closed the door behind her leaving Spike alone with his choice.
“I called Sunnydale” Angel said looking down at Spike. The blond vampire wasn’t chained to the chair anymore. Spike just nodded and closed his eyes.
The lobby was filled with voices. They all seemed to talk louder than normal. As if attempting to force the gloom away. Willow and Tara talked about magic and the use of kwizarat root in locator spells. Fred nervously tried to get a word in edgewise. Cordy looked pissed off and Buffy stood close to Giles.
But Xander only noticed Spike standing next to Gunn. The pale vampire was quietly studying the floor. Xander felt a hand on his back. Angel‘s. Xander closed his eyes enjoying the contact and the reassurance.
Buffy walked over to Angel. She noticed where the tall vampire’s hand rested and frowned. The slayer looked at Xander but quickly looked away.
“You’re staying here?” she asked. Her eyes focused on the wall above Xander’s head. Xander felt Angel shift slightly closer to him.
“Yes.” Xander confirmed and smiled a little when Angel started to rub his back.
Willow hugged him. Her small hands pulling his bigger body closer to hers. Xander promised to write and call. Willow attempted to persuade him to come back with them “just for a visit” but Xander said no. They hugged. Again. Trying to draw out the inevitable and not succeeding.
Angel walked over and quietly said “It’s time.” He touched Xander’s hand.
“Do I need to give you the shovel talk?” Willow asked shooting Angel a worried look.
Angel surprised the witch by hugging her and whispering a “no” in her hair.
Xander watched as Angel walked over to Buffy. She was standing with Spike next to her. Angel looked at Spike and everyone grew quiet. Spike looked up at the older vampire.
“You do what they tell you to, William.” Angel said “If you do anything to jeopardise them I’ll be the one to take care of things.” Spike nodded “And Spike? I’m not going to give you a choice. Understood?”
“Yes.” Spike said his voice hoarse. He looked over at Xander then back at the floor and said
“I’ll be good.”
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