The Triangle

Randy Sex Kitten


A scream filled the air as the scent of blood wafted across the breeze.

Shadows filtered across the sand as the trees continued to sway gently in the warm nighttime breeze.

There was no carnage, no sign of the life that had just been destroyed. A murky shape slipped across the sand, vanishing into the welcoming dark waters. The waves splashed against hard skin as the figure silently slipped under the swells.

No other sound was heard.

Part One

Giles looked up at the clock once again. He had been waiting for Buffy to arrive to train for over an hour. He was concerned, not that she was in danger, but that their relationship had deteriorated to the point where he was no longer effective as her watcher.

Over the last six months, there had been many changes within their tight knit group. Willow and Buffy were attending college and spending less time with the gang, each absorbed in their new romantic interests.

Giles had to admit that Tara was a lovely choice and a good partner for Willow. Her kind soul seemed to temper the young, redhead Wicca. Tara had confided to Giles that she had practiced witchcraft since before she could speak. Giles had evaluated her powers to the best of his ability and found that she was, by far, the most powerful human he had come across in some time. He admired the young woman for not exploiting the powers that lay pulsing within her body.

Buffy’s choice of partners, however, left a lot to be desired. Riley Finn… Giles couldn’t even contemplate the young man without including his last name. He sighed. Riley was simply too arrogant and cocksure for Giles’ comfort. Buffy spent less time patrolling and training every week due to the influence of the commando. Giles was worried that she would not last as the slayer much longer. Her lack of concentration and her frequent yelling matches with her friends and her watcher were undoubtedly doing damage.

Spike was another recent addition to their group. Giles, against his better judgment, was becoming quite fond of the peroxide vampire. He had accidentally discovered that not only was Spike a very intelligent man, but also a gifted linguist and a voracious reader.

He made this discovery several months back, when he caught the creature breaking into his shop after closing time to return a book that he hadn’t noticed was missing. They had sat for hours after, sipping tea and talking about various books in his collection. They had discussed not only the linguistics, but also how each text was applicable to the situation in Sunnydale. Since that day so many months ago, Spike and Giles had met after closing biweekly to discuss any new texts that may have come in or to argue British sport.

Giles had noted the relationship between Xander and the vampire changing, as well. After moving into his new apartment, Xander had unexpectantly offered the spare bedroom to Spike, much to Anya’s chagrin. No one really understood the reason behind the invitation, but the three housemates seemed to get along well, in spite of the almost non-stop bickering between Spike and Xander. Spike, being a creature of the night, slept the day away, giving the young couple plenty of daylight hours in which to enjoy each other without the vampire’s presence presenting a problem.

Giles was pleased with how his family was flourishing. He smiled around the top of his teacup, thinking of how Spike would respond if he knew that Giles thought of him as one of his children. Strangely enough, they had discovered that they were related. Giles appeared to be a direct descendent of William’s younger sister. Knowing that his sister had lived long enough to have a family had pleased the vampire to no end.

Giles’ eye wandered back to the clock. Where was Buffy? The young woman was pressing on his last nerve. He was tempted to send her out to do an extended patrol and write a formal report on her findings. However, he was not interested in reading the ramblings of his hormone-driven charge, so he decided against that course of action. He sighed again. Ninety minutes late. Buffy would be in for quite a talking to when she arrived.

The bell rang loudly as Buffy entered the magic shop, Riley close on her heels. Giles rolled his eyes as Buffy draped herself over her stiff yet unresisting boyfriend. There went the talk and the training. When the soldier was around, Buffy made no effort to concentrate. Giles felt that he should have followed his instinct this morning to not get out of bed.

“Do you mind, Buffy? We do have work to do.”

Buffy looked at Giles in shock. “What?” She quickly returned her attention to her boyfriend, pressing her full length against him.

Giles started at the pealing of the telephone, turning his back to his slayer and her current playmate. Buffy took the opportunity to drag Riley into the training room for a quick session on the mats.

“Buffy!” Giles’ sigh of disgust carried over the wire to the council member on the other end of the phone line. Knowing the Council like he did, Giles gave up on training his slayer tonight and settled in for a long talk.

Hours later, Giles rubbed his nose as he finally hung up the phone. Buffy had long since escaped out the door, mumbling something about patrolling around the tongue that was mapping out her mouth. Giles had waved her off, more interested in what the Council’s man was saying than his disinterested slayer.

The Council of Watchers was in an uproar and was requesting his assistance with the issue. He knew that Buffy was not up to the task in her current condition. Namely total self-absorption. He would have to go himself. Groaning, Giles realized that he would not be able to do it alone, he would have to take some help with him.

He sighed and reached once again for the phone, wincing as the receiver touched his oversensitive ear. This was going to be great fun.

“Shut! Up! Spike! Hello?” Xander’s voice stung his ear as it raced through the phone lines.

“Xander, this is…”

“Spike, shut the fuck up! I’m talking to Giles!” Xander neglected to move the phone away from his mouth before yelling at the vampire and Giles’ headache increased tenfold.

“Hey G-man! What’s up?” He could hear the smile in Xander’s voice over the line.

“Xander, I have asked you numerous times not to call me that.” Giles’ smile was not evident in his voice, although prominent on his face. “I wonder if you and Spike might be able to come to the shop for a while. I would like to speak with you both about something that has come up.”

There was a loud thump and Giles heard both Xander and Spike squeal in pain before the young man answered, “Damnit, Spike! Yeah, Giles, we’ll be there in a minute. Look, Fangless…” Xander’s rant stopped as the call was disconnected. Giles went off in search of his hidden whiskey, praying to every deity he could think of that the neutered vamp hadn’t found this one yet.

“Hey Ahn! Giles needs me and Spike at the shop. You want to go?” Anya wandered out of the bathroom to find her boyfriend and their roommate sitting on the floor in the living room, their shoelaces tied together.

“Why are you tied to Spike?” Anya frowned at the two men on the floor.

She had noticed that more often than not, if she left the two alone for any period of time, she would return to find them in interesting situations. She had walked in on tickling fights, thumb wrestling, arm wrestling, ‘Tai Chi’ lessons…

That particular episode had made her laugh. She had walked in on Spike and Xander; both dressed in sweatpants, tangled on the floor as they attempted to situate themselves into calming positions.

She was amazed at how well the two men got along. Contrary to what they both insisted was true, she no longer believed that they hated each other. She knew that neither Spike nor Xander saw what she did, so she never commented on it.

Over the months that they had all lived in the apartment, she herself had developed strong feelings of friendship for the blond demon. They had a lot in common. Sometimes, when she and Spike were alone in the apartment, they would regale each other with tales from their pasts, trying to outdo each other with their stories of creativity and skill.

Looking at the two sitting on the floor, Anya laughed as Xander jerked on a lace, hitting his head on Spike’s chin, causing them both to fall back onto the floor.

“Blondie here tied our shoes together while I was on the phone.”

“The fuck I did, Harris! You’re the one who was bloody tying his shoes while blathering on about something or another. I was just standing here drinking my blood.” Spike looked innocently at Anya, hoping to win her over with his argument.

“Never mind,” Anya sighed. She reached over and deftly untied the knotted laces. She then quickly tied Xander’s tennis shoes before moving to Spike’s boots. Both men scrambled to their feet, each glaring daggers at the other.

“There, you are both ready to go. No, I do not want to go with you, I just got home from work two hours ago and I am ready to get into the bath and then rest. You go, enjoy your talk with Giles and I will see you when you get home.” She stood on her toes and placed a quick kiss to Xander’s mouth, then gave an affectionate shove to Spike’s leather clad arm.

“Bye, Ahn. Love you.” Xander threw his coat over his shoulder before motioning the vampire out the door before him. He turned and winked to his girlfriend as she closed the door behind them.

“Bath, negligee, bed.” With that, Anya walked resolutely to the bathroom to pamper herself.

An elderly woman glanced at her doorway as what sounded to be a herd of buffalo thundered down the stairs just outside her door. She glanced down at Baggins. “That’s the two young men from upstairs, what a lovely couple.” She smiled as the feline hopped into her lap and began to purr.

“My car, Whelp. I’m driving.” Spike pointed Xander towards the blacked out DeSoto parked across from Xander’s wreck of the week.

Xander glanced up and glared at the vamp. “What? You don’t want to be seen in my car?” He looked over at his Pepto-Bismol pink Toyota and flinched. “Right, you’re driving. Only, please let me move the crap out of the floorboard!” With that, he ran to the passenger’s side of the classic car, flung the door open and began throwing empty liquor bottles towards their owner.

“Hey! Quit that!” Thunk. “Ow!” Spike snarled at Xander before grabbing the bottle that had just hit him in the head. He threw it in an arc towards Xander, aiming for the gravel at his feet.

Spike screamed when Xander backed out of the car, the bottle impacting with his lower back. The pain in his head caused him to fall to the ground, whimpering. Xander rushed to his side, scared at the obvious intensity of the jolt and apologetic for his part in the actions that had led to the chip’s adverse reaction.

“Shit, Spike! I’m sorry, man. Hey, careful…” Xander helped lift Spike off of the ground to lean against the trunk of his car.

“You ok?” Xander’s look of concern helped Spike focus on something other than the pain that continued to fire through his brain. He glared at Xander in exasperation and reached for his pack of cigarettes, trying to shake off his game face.

“That thing is getting worse, isn’t it?” Xander’s quiet inquiry made Spike pause, his cigarette halfway to his mouth. He considered a snarky remark, but changed his mind at the expression on the whelp’s face. He had no reason to lie.

“Yeah, mate. It’s getting worse. I’m not sure what’s happening, but the jolts are getting stronger and lasting longer each time.” Spike lifted his Zippo and lit the cigarette with a trembling hand.

“It’s also taking less to set it off,” Xander muttered. Last week Spike had been helping Anya unload the groceries and had opened a cabinet door as she was passing by. She had walked into the door, bumping her head and Spike had fallen into convulsions.

Uncomfortable with the relaxed atmosphere, Spike finished his cigarette, threw the butt to the ground and shook his head. “Alright, Harris, all better, let’s go.” The two men climbed into the car and drove off towards the Magic Box.

Giles glanced up from his whiskey search at the sound of a bell ringing. He peered over the counter to see Tara enter the shop. Standing up, he smiled at her.

“Hello, Tara.” Tara jumped at the sound of his voice.

“Oh. H..hello, Mr. Giles.” Tara smiled gently at the storeowner. Giles had become important to her in a very short period of time. She looked at him as the father that her own male parent never was.

“Did you need help with something, or are you here just to visit?” Giles tried to phrase his question in such a way to let the girl know that she was welcome at any time, with or without Willow.

“I w..wanted to talk with you, i..if you don’t mind.” Tara looked at the floor before remembering that this man wouldn’t hurt her. She raised her head to look him in the eye.

“Of course, my dear. Tea?” Giles waved towards a chair as Tara nodded. He went into his office to collect his carafe of tea and two clean teacups.

“Now then, what did you want to talk about?” Giles leaned forward, eagerly. The blonde Wicca had never approached him in this manner, and he was intrigued.

Tara blushed and stammered, but began to speak. “I’ve been f..feeling something s..strange over the last few days.” Her speech began to lose its stutter as she forced herself to relax. She took a sip of tea before continuing. “I’m not sure what it is, M..Mr. Giles, but I’m afraid something big is about to happen. I’ve asked Willow if she’s felt anything unusual recently, b..but she hasn’t. I really don’t think that anything is going to happen here, but there is something…” She trailed off, waving one hand in the air, unable to communicate her thoughts.

“Please, call me Giles, or Rupert, if you can stand it. We are friends and colleagues and I would like very much for you to address me in a less… formal manner.” Giles smiled once again at the shy, blushing witch, and then began to question Tara.

“Have you looked deeper within yourself to find what this feeling is about?”

Tara thought for a moment before answering. “Y..yes. I did try to meditate, but couldn’t balance myself. All I could feel was evil energy trying to get into me.” She shuddered at the memory and then frowned at her less than coherent explanation.

“This is not coming out right. Mr., I mean, G..Giles,” she grinned, then frowned, her speech becoming more confident. “There is something big going down within the next few months and it is not happening here. I’m not sure that it will even happen on American soil, but something is going to happen.” Tara looked intently at the watcher, allowing her concern and fear to show on her face for a moment before reigning them back in.

“I think I might have some idea about what you are talking about,” Giles spoke softly. “However, I would like to wait for Xander and Spike to arrive before going into it in greater detail. Is that alright with you?” At Tara’s nod, he continued. “So, how are your classes going?”

Tara flashed a shy smile. “Actually, I did have something else to talk to you about. I have been accepted into a short-term program to do some field research in my Sociology class. I think the subject of my research will be the Sociological effect of Mythology on human interaction with nature. I have been excused from my classes for the last half of this semester so that I can focus exclusively on my research.” Tara paused and looked down. Giles, sensing that there was more that she needed to say, sat quietly and waited.

Taking a deep breath, Tara spoke. “My classes are finished this Friday. Um, I am also supposed to find an experienced off-campus teacher to help guide me in the right direction. I wanted to ask if you would be interested in being my mentor for the project.” Tara glanced down at her shoes, pleased that she had managed to ask for Giles’ help.

The smile that had been comfortably resting on Giles’ face broadened.

“You want me to help you?” His pleased expression made Tara glad that she had asked.

“Yes, please. I don’t know anyone who has more knowledge of mythological creatures and incidents than you.”

Giles quickly responded in the affirmative. “Then I would be honored. Tell me more about your project.”

Giles and Tara spoke animatedly about their chosen subject, blissfully unaware of the time that was passing. Both glanced up when the bell sounded, matching smirks crossing their faces when both Spike and Xander attempted to enter at the same time, resulting in shoulders digging into one another and yet another shouting match.

“Shift over, Whelp! I’m trying to get inside!” Spike’s snark was audible.

“I’ll ‘shift over’ after I get in the door, Fangless. Move your skinny butt!”

“M’ butt’s not skinny,” Spike pouted. Xander paused at the very real pain he heard in the other’s voice. He realized that the snark and pout were a cover for the chip’s firing, yet again. He closed his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose harshly.

“Sorry, Spike. Here, you go in first.” Xander stepped out of the way, allowing Spike to enter the magic shop.

The scene that he was witnessing overwhelmed Giles. He shook his head; unable to believe that these two men had no idea how aware they were of each other. He had noticed it on many occasions.

When the group patrolled, Spike could always be found within fifteen feet of Xander. Yes, he had measured it. When researching, they either sat directly across the table from each other, or side by side. The bond that was developing between the two men was almost visible to Giles, however, it was quite apparent that they had no idea that it was happening. Their verbal sparring had in no way changed. To someone who didn’t know them, is was obvious that these two men hated each other.

“Ok, G-Man, we’re here, ready to slay and/or maim whatever you point us at.” He glanced around the shop. “Where’s Will and Buff?”

“They’re not here, Xander. I wanted to speak with you and Spike about a phone call that I received from the Council. Tara is here because she seems to have picked up on some occurrence that will be happening in the next few months and I believe that her feelings are directly tied to the Council’s ‘problem’, therefore, I asked her to stay.”

“What should we care what the Council of Wankers has to say?” Spike paused at the look on Giles’ face. “Never mind. Better question: why us, Rupert?” Spike looked directly at the watcher, seeking the truth in his eyes.

“You two are the only ones that I could ask for help, that’s why. I need help that Buffy would not be willing or able to provide and this will involve some travel. She is not currently in a position where she can leave Sunnydale for any length of time.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me that the Whelp and I are stuck helping because the Slayer is too busy playing college girl to do her fucking job!”

Giles’ winced at the tone in Spike’s voice. “Please, let me explain before you decide whether or not you are willing to help.”

Unconsciously, Xander and Spike glanced at one another, and then nodded.

“Tell us.” Spike tossed one leg over a chair, settling in to listen to his nephew, Xander sitting to his left, instinctively leaning towards the blond vamp.

Giles looked into three sets of eyes. Blue, Chocolate Brown and Hazel peered back.

“What do you know about the Bermuda Triangle?”

Part Two

“The first documented use of the words ‘Bermuda Triangle’ was in 1965. However, the legend has been floating around since Columbus arrived in North America. There have been countless reports of missing boats, planes and other vehicles that have disappeared while traveling in the area between Fort Lauderdale, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. I will go into more detail on this in a moment.

First, the ‘Bermuda Triangle’, or the more appropriate ‘Devil’s Triangle’, is one of only two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally, it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as twenty degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble.

The other area is known as the ‘Devil's Sea’ and is located off the east coast of Japan. It also exhibits the same magnetic characteristics and is known for its mysterious disappearances, but is not relevent at this time.” Giles paused and consulted the notes he laid out on the table.

“As I said, there are legends that part of Columbus’ entourage disappeared in the area of the Triangle. Many other ships have vanished in a similar manner. When man began to fly, planes were added to the list of missing craft. One of the most famous disappearances attributed to the Triangle was Flight 19.

In December 1945, five Avenger torpedo bombers left the Navel Air Station at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, around two in the afternoon. It was a routine practice mission and the flight was composed of all students except for the Commander, a Lt. Charles Taylor.

The mission called for Taylor and his group of thirteen men to fly due east fifty-six miles to Hens and Chicken Shoals to practice bombing runs. When they completed that task, the flight plan called for them to fly an additional sixty-seven miles east, then turn north for seventy-three miles and finally straight back to base, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles.

About an hour and a half after the flight had left, a Lieutenant picked up a radio transmission from Taylor. Taylor stated that his compasses were not working, but he believed himself to be somewhere over the Florida Keys. Lt. Cox urged him to fly north, toward Miami, as Taylor was sure the flight was over the Keys.” Giles took a sip of tea and looked around the table, seeing only confused interest in the eyes of his listeners.

“Planes today have a number of ways that they can check their current position including listening to a set of Global Positioning Satellites in orbit around the Earth. It is almost impossible for a pilot to get lost if he has the right equipment and uses it properly.

In 1945, though, planes flying over water had to depend on knowing their starting point, how long and fast they had flown, and in what direction. If a pilot made a mistake with any of these figures, he was lost. Over the ocean there were no landmarks to set him right.

Apparently Taylor had become confused at some point in the flight. He was an experienced pilot, but hadn't spent a lot of time flying east toward the Bahamas, which was where he was going on that day. For some reason Taylor apparently thought the flight had started out in the wrong direction and had headed south toward the Keys, instead of east. This thought was to color his decisions throughout the rest of the flight with deadly results.

The more Taylor took his flight north to try to get out of the Keys, the further out to sea the Avengers actually traveled. As time went on, snatches of transmissions were picked up on the mainland indicating the other Flight 19 pilots were trying to get Taylor to change course.

By 4:45 P.M. it was obvious to the people on the ground that Taylor was hopelessly lost. He was urged to turn control of the flight over to one of his students, but apparently he didn't. As it grew dark, communications deteriorated. From the few words that did get through it was apparent Taylor was still flying north and east, the wrong directions.

At 5:50 P.M. the ComGulf Sea Frontier Evaluation Center managed get a fix on Flight 19's weakening signals. It was apparently east of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. By then, communication was so poor that this information could not be passed to the lost planes.

At 6:20 a Dumbo Flying Boat was dispatched to try and find Flight 19 and guide it back. Within the hour two more planes, Martin Mariners, joined the search. The weather was getting rough and the Avengers were very low on fuel. The two Martin Mariners were supposed to rendezvous at the search zone. The second one never showed up.

The last transmission from Flight 19 was heard at 7:04 P.M. Planes searched the area throughout the night and into the next day, but there was no sign of the Avengers.” It was quiet in the room for a moment as Giles flipped through a book, searching for anything that he may have forgotten to share.

“In addition to the compass difficulties, an environmental factor that comes into play is the Gulf Stream. It is extremely swift and turbulent. The unpredictability of the Caribbean-Atlantic weather pattern also plays it’s role. Sudden thunderstorms and waterspouts appear unannounced, frequently.

So… that is a brief and extremely incomplete history concerning the Bermuda Triangle. However, I will refrain from offering any more, as it appears that I am about to lose Xander.” Giles paused and looked at his listeners. Xander immediately sat up straighter in his chair and glanced around at the others. “Any questions?”

“Yeah.” Xander turned and looked warily at Spike. “What year is it, Fangless? Because if I’m back in high school, I’m gonna have to vote for screaming and running away from the Master Vamp.”

Spike preened at the thought of Xander and the others running scared. He flashed his fangs at his flatmate and growled threateningly. His chip shot a warning jolt, which he tried to ignore.

“Spike, quit.” Tara’s quiet voice destroyed the atmosphere that the vampire was attempting to build. He dropped his game face, grateful when the pain receded. He adjusted himself in his chair and proceeded to give the Wicca his best pout.

“What does this have to do with the Council of Watchers or the strange feelings that I’ve been having?” Tara looked expectantly at Giles, waiting for the information that she requested.

Giles sighed and pulled off his glasses, cleaning them on the handkerchief that he retrieved from his pocket.

“There have been reports from various parishes in Bermuda of creatures rising from the sea. More than two hundred people have gone missing, presumed dead, their bodies never recovered. The population is quite afraid.”

“How refreshing to know that outside of Sunnyhell, people actually notice the things that go bump in the night,” Spike snorted.

“And the Council is aware of this how?” Xander’s warm chocolate eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“Well, it appears that there is an active Hellmouth a hundred miles off the shore of Cobbler Island. They’ve been monitoring the island closely for the past fifty years.” Giles closed his eyes and braced himself for the explosion.

“What the fuck?” As he expected, Spike was the first to respond.

“Those wankers knew that there was an active Hellmouth and have done nothing to close it? They didn’t even notify their Slayer or her Watcher about the danger that might be brewing underneath the surface of the ocean! Those idiots!” The Victorian accent and language of William’s youth came to the fore as he vented his anger towards the Council. Without warning, William disappeared and Spike returned, game face glaring out at the world. “Bloody Hell! I could rip their heads off, tear out their hearts and eat their eyes!”

Spike suddenly screamed and fell to the floor, his entire body convulsing violently.

“Shit!” Xander dove to the floor and tried to keep the flailing vampire from hitting his head or legs on the table.

Giles quickly stood and shoved the table away from the two men on the floor, forcing Tara to jump up from her seat. They all heard a loud snap and Xander grabbed Spike again, continuing to hold him down as the convulsions began to slow.

“I think he broke a rib.” Xander glanced up at Giles, a look of pain fleeting across his face.

“W..what happened?” Tara’s shaky voice penetrated the quiet of the room.

“His chip. It’s been going off almost continuously the past week.” Xander sighed. “Giles, you know how I feel about vampires, this one in particular, but seriously, this is unfair! He’s not doing anything wrong!”

Xander glanced over at Tara. “Yesterday, I bumped into him when he came out of his room. He blacked out for several minutes before we could get him to wake up.”

Spike moaned and tried to roll over, his broken ribs grinding together. Giles looked on as the brunette helped the quaking blond from the floor and into a chair. Tara turned and ran out of the room when she caught sight of the vampire’s paler than normal complexion. Xander wandered towards the front door, struggling with his own thoughts.

Giles knelt at Spike’s feet, urging the vampire to look him in the eye. Blood dripped from the corners of Spike’s blue eyes as he attempted to smirk at the watcher. “Ouch.”

“Yes, quite. How long has this been going on, Spike?” Giles appeared to be genuinely concerned. Spike looked into the eyes that so reminded him of his baby sister. He allowed his pain to show as he spoke.

“About three weeks. It’s been getting worse. You know, it’s been several months since the damn thing has gone off due to anything that I’ve intentionally done. I’ve learned exactly what I could and could not do on my little electronic leash.” He sighed and looked at the ceiling. “Last week, it started responding to non-specific violent thoughts. Then two days ago, it began to zap me when I thought about fighting other demons. Rupert, I’m not sure how much longer I can take this,” he added tiredly.

Tara appeared at his side and offered him a mug of blood. “Ta, pet.” Spike gulped the revitalizing liquid down and returned the mug to her hands. She quickly set it to the side.

Giles took the wide tape that blonde woman offered to him. Tara dragged off Spike’s duster, leaving it lying across the back of his chair and began to help Giles pull up the vampire’s black t-shirt. Giles pulled a long strip of tape and began winding it around Spike’s rib cage, tightly binding his ribs.

“Don’t need that, Watcher. It’ll heal.” Spike winced then hissed as Giles tugged at the tape. Xander glanced over at the sound of the vampire’s indrawn breath.

“Yes, Spike, it will heal. This way, however, it will heal correctly.” Giles pulled down Spike’s shirt and stood. Tara moved to help the vampire ease back into his leather.

Xander looked on with concern as Spike struggled to get his arms into the sleeves of his coat. It was unlike him to accept so much assistance without a fight or at least a sarcastic remark. The blond must really be suffering.

Xander’s thoughts were buzzing. He hated vampires, hated what they stood for and what they were. He had always felt the same about Spike as he had Angel. He could put up with them because of Deadboy’s soul and Spike’s chip. Didn’t mean that he liked them.

He was beginning to reevaluate his feelings about the blond struggling before him. No one should have to live with that type of pain, that type of punishment for things that they hadn’t even done. Xander scoffed at his own thoughts. This was William the Bloody! He’d done plenty of things that deserved punishment. Xander couldn’t seem to convince himself of that fact, though.

Xander was becoming seriously concerned about his own mental health.

“Well, that was fun. What’s next?” Xander slapped his hands together and looked expectantly at his friends, who all glanced at him in shock.

“I think that we should all go home and rest. We will reconvene tomorrow to continue this discussion.” Giles squeezed the bridge of his nose and sighed.

“Alright, G-man! See ya tomorrow.” Xander headed for the door, glancing back surreptitiously to make sure that the blond was following.

“Ta, Rupert. See you later.” Spike spun on his heel and stalked from the store, his Big Bad persona firmly in place.

Tara turned to Giles and smiled. “What time should I come by?”

Giles glanced at the clock and responded, “Around ten am, if you’re free. I would like to make a recommendation concerning your research project.”

“OK. My classes don’t start until one, so I’ll see you then.” Tara gathered her shawl around her and headed back to the dorm and to Willow.

Part Three

Spike lay on his back, smoking and looking at the stars. He thought it was quite amazing that he had not lost interest in the heavenly bodies above him in all the years that he had laid underneath them, staring into their depths.

He closed his eyes, blowing smoke towards the moon. When the burning ash reached his fingers, he crushed the cigarette out on the asphalt-covered tiles beside his head.

He searched for another cigarette, his hands anxious to be doing something. As he brought his lighter up, he saw a shooting star fly by.

“Well, well… What a pretty sight. Shooting stars. Dru, baby, did you see that?” He thought back to the nights he had spent with Drusilla as she waited anxiously to see the lights shooting across the sky. Her childhood belief that a wish made on the flying debris would come true still strong in her mind.

Spike lit his cigarette, inhaled and dropped both arms to his sides, lying spread-eagled on the roof of his apartment building.

Thoughts of his dark princess no longer tore into his heart. He was confident that they would never again be together as they were and truthfully, he really didn’t want to anymore. Too many things had changed; the last incident with Angelus had destroyed any hope of recovering their relationship.

Spike scoffed. Relationship, right.

He was her pet, her servant. He would have done anything for her and often did, but it wasn’t the same for her. He no longer desired her as he once did, though. Thoughts of running his hands over her slim form no longer interested him, no longer aroused him and no longer hurt. He loved Drusilla, always would, but she was no longer his world.

No matter, when he was laid out under the stars, he spoke to her. Something about the familiar skies reminded him of good times with his wicked plum. He smiled at the remembrance.

He slipped easily into the language and soft accent of his youth, he had no one to play the Big Bad for up here. “Oh, Dru. This hurts so badly. I don’t know if I can handle this much longer. This fucking chip…” Spike stopped speaking as a sob attempted to escape his throat.

“Shit.” He drew the hand holding his cigarette across his face before dropping it to his mouth to draw in another lungful of comforting smoke.

He thought back on the past three weeks. He had told Giles the truth; it had been months since his chip had gone off. The limits on his behavior were rigidly defined. He could contemplate violence all he wanted, he just could not act on his thoughts. Direct contact with a human, no matter how accidental, caused the chip to surge. However, tonight was the first night that the chip had gone off when he had thrown something in the general direction of a human with no intent to harm.

Fuck, he hadn’t even meant the damn bottle to get that close to the Whelp. He had thrown at the gravel at the boy’s feet. His chip fired a warning shot at the remembered image. The thing firing at his anger towards the Council was simply intolerable.

He was no longer safe in his own head.

Spike growled, sat up and threw his cigarette across the roof. Something had to give.

He lay back down, trying to calm himself.

“Drusilla, my queen, I understand your madness now. Angelus caused you all that pain and you were so innocent, so pure…”

No use dwelling on the past or on things he could not change. He glanced up at the stars, naming the planets that were visible to his searching eyes.

After a long while, his roaming thoughts turned to his home and to the two humans he shared it with. Spike had been shocked when Xander had offered his spare room to him. By the look on the boy’s face, Xander had been taken by surprise as well.

Spike had waited for the boy to rescind his offer, but Xander had stayed firm, telling the others that he had offered the space and would stand by it, no matter how much it confused him.

So… after a week of waiting for the boy to appear and tell him to stay away, Spike had appeared at the whelp’s door, his few possessions in hand. He had smirked at the whelp and the demon girl, handed an envelope of cash to the boy and stalked into his room, slamming the door behind him.

Spike still wasn’t sure what caused him to give him the money in the first place. He knew that the boy was young and still struggling financially, but he really didn’t care, or he shouldn’t have at any rate. Still, he found himself shoving wads of cash at the boy. If Xander had been surprised at the money, he had never mentioned it. Anya had asked a time or two, but Spike had remained silent on the subject. He had amassed an impressive fortune in his long life; he just couldn’t quite access all of it.

Spike made a mental note to speak with his sire about his accounts that were currently sitting in Angelus’ name overseas. Spike had always hated dealing with money and had left it to the older vampire to manage his funds. Now that he was unable to hunt, he needed to be able to buy his meals.

The hospitality of the Scoobies would not hold out forever.

Anya had helped him acquire a few furnishings for his room, welcoming him into her home after making it quite clear that he was not to interrupt them at any time if Xander was in the process of giving her orgasms. He laughed aloud at the ex-demon who shared his space. What a fiery girl.

The whelp on the other hand… Spike was unsure as to what he felt about the boy.

His relationships with Tara and the watcher had grown and developed into what he considered true friendships. Red was still a bit skittish around him, but he understood that, after all, he had directly threatened her life more often than any of the other Scoobies.

Anya and he had a lot in common. He enjoyed swapping war stories with her over tea. She was the only one who had been alive during the same time periods as he had. It was nice to reminisce with someone who had been there.

Buffy was the Slayer, cautious and wary, but as the months went by, she had become less threatening. Her soldier had contributed greatly to that end. She had no time to focus on Spike or his problems.

But the whelp… Spike sighed and lit another cigarette. Xander… Spike was beginning to wonder about the boy.

Xander was an enigma. He yelled at Spike, told him how worthless and unwanted he was, but the gentleness in his eyes when he lifted him off the ground…

Spike growled in frustration. He was not going to finish that thought. Yes, the boy was attractive; he could admit that. Spike had always had a thing for tall creatures with dark eyes and hair. Angelus and Drusilla… He smiled as he thought of his first lovers.

But Xander was human, straight and severely demonphobic. No use even enjoying the scenery there.

Straight? Enjoy the scenery? Spike had tried not to look at Xander as anything but an annoying nuisance until tonight. He wondered why the concern in the boy’s eyes had affected him so deeply.

Spike closed his eyes and contemplated the young man. He had enjoyed the boy’s sense of humor since day one. The lad was bloody brilliant, although none of the others seemed to notice. Spike enjoyed spending time with him. Annoying the whelp was his current favorite pastime.

Xander had slimmed since starting his job in construction. His skin had darkened to a warm honeyed tone, the muscles evident beneath his white wife beaters shifted gently as he pulled on his baggy overshirts. Spike’s mind began to wander.

Xander closed his eyes, running his hands over the strong abs under the worn cotton of his shirt. His hands dropped to his belt, his fingers dangling down to brush against the treasure hidden below. One hand rose, pulling his shirt up as his fingers drifted towards his nipple. Strong, calloused fingers gently pinched the brown nub, tugging at the soft hair surrounding the warm flesh.

Slowly, the shirt is pulled up and over his head, exposing the wide expanse of his chest. Sweat from his day outside still gleamed on tanned skin. Xander’s hands dropped to his fly, releasing button after button, allowing lighter flesh to appear between the spreading fabric.

Spike moaned at the images that filled his mind. His hand drifted down to his covered cock, softly caressing the burgeoning flesh. His eyes flew open in panic.

“What the fuck?”

Spike jumped up from his position on the roof, dropping the dead cigarette from his grasp. He walked to the edge of the roof, looking down on Sunnydale.

“That’s it, I’ve lost it.” He looked up at the sky. “Dru, luv, if you can hear me, I’ll join you in la-la land soon.”

Spike jumped off the edge of the roof, gracefully landing on the grass below. Snarling, he brought up his game face and raced into the night, fleeing from his own thoughts.

Xander sat on the couch in the living room, listening to Anya’s snores through the open door of their bedroom. He lifted his beer, taking a long swallow, enjoying the sensation of the cool liquid flowing down his throat.

Thoughts of Spike were haunting him.

The chip that had protected them for so long was misfiring. Xander was not a stupid man; he knew what that meant. They were in danger. Anya, Buffy, Giles, Willow, Tara and himself were all in grave danger. If the chip burnt itself out and didn’t fry Spike’s brain in the process, the vampire would be able to return to his old hunting habits.

OK. Well, that was all well and good. Knowing that they were in danger was the first step in protecting themselves. The only problem was, he wanted to help the vampire get the damn thing out.

The hardware in his head had been zapping Spike several times a day now. Xander would have found it amusing if the vampire had brought it on himself, but the fact of the matter was that Spike was doing nothing to cause the chip to go off.

Xander took another long swallow of beer, emptying his bottle. He threw at the trashcan, lobbing it in without touching the sides. “Two points!” He threw his arms up in celebration.

He contemplated getting up off the couch to get another beer, but the movement required to do so was unappealing. He reached down and pulled off his boots, wriggling his toes as they escaped their confinement.

As he lay back on the sofa, his thoughts returned to the annoying vampire. Spike’s chip was really screwing up. Xander had a rudimentary understanding of electronics and knew that something bad was going on in the vampire’s brain. He knew that Spike had learned the limits of his chip a long time ago and always acted accordingly. Spike played at being tough, but the pain of the chip was obviously debilitating and he avoided it at all costs.

Xander wondered at the unusual nature of the blond man. A vampire. He should not be living in an apartment with a couple and sharing living expenses with them.

Spike had given Xander almost two thousand dollars in cash the night he had moved in. He never said a word about it, so Xander never did either. Every once in a while, a new envelope would appear in the bowl that Xander emptied his pockets into.

He knew Anya was curious about the money. Xander had wondered if the vampire had finally gotten lucky and scored big in a mugging. He hadn’t heard any news about that, though, so he doubted it.

Anya’s snores grew louder and Xander shuddered gently. He loved Anya, but was quickly learning that he really didn’t want to live with her. It wasn’t just the snoring, either. She seemed to be treating him more as a child than a lover. On many occasions she out and out mothered him and Spike.

He knew that she and Spike would sit and talk for hours when he was out. He really wasn’t interested in their conversations, but he did find it interesting that he didn’t care. Shouldn’t he be concerned that his girlfriend was spending hours on end with another man? Another man who was an extremely sexy blond with stunning musculature and a striking accent.

Xander’s thoughts drifted, the vampire filled his head. Spike was not especially modest. When they lived in his parent’s basement, it was not unusual for the vampire to walk around nude. Here, he pulled on sweats in the mornings for breakfast, but left everything else uncovered. Xander began to imagine what that strong chest might feel like under his fingers, cool and dry…

Xander jerked and hit himself in the head with the palm of his hand. “What in the heck are you thinking about?” He smiled as Anya snorted and shuffled in her sleep. Xander’s thoughts returned to the chip in his friend’s brain.

Xander looked over at his computer sitting on the desk in the corner. He dragged himself from the warm embrace of his couch and plopped down in the chair in front of his desk. Turning on the machine, he began to search for information on computer chips.

Shortly before dawn, Xander was pulled from his research by the sound of keys in the front door. Spike walked through the room, glancing at Xander, but not speaking as he entered his bedroom. Xander sighed and turned off the computer. He had to be at work in less than an hour. A shower was in order.

Xander worked through his day as an automaton. As he lifted, hammered and drilled, he thought on the intricacies of the human brain. As he reviewed the complicated blueprints with the architect, he thought of plans for a complicated computer chip.

By the end of the day, Xander had come up with a single idea with which to help Spike. It seemed too simple and he was pretty sure it wouldn’t work, but he was going to bring it up tonight at the meeting.

Xander clocked out and headed for home. He was too hot and sweaty to go straight to the Magic Box. Instead, he looked forward to a long, cool shower in the quiet of his own apartment.

He knew better than to plan anything like that. As soon as he walked in the door, Anya, Willow and Buffy accosted him, all talking loudly about something that he couldn’t understand.

“Hey, hey, hey! HEY!” His shouts finally quieted the gaggle of girls and he eased past them and into the kitchen for a glass of water and a beer. The girls stood in the doorway and watched him as he finished the water and popped the lid off the beer.

Sighing, he looked at the group in front of him. “I’m not getting a shower right now, am I?” All three heads shook no.

“Fine, at least let me sit down. He pushed past the crowd in the doorway and sat on the couch, stretching his legs out and propping his work boots on the table.

“OK. Shoot.” As all three mouths opened, he amended his statement. “One at a time, please.”

Buffy and Willow looked at Anya as she took a deep breath. “Xander, you are not going to believe what happened!” She paused and looked at the other girls, both bouncing on their toes as they eagerly anticipated Xander’s reaction to their news.

“We have been invited to go to LA.” She sighed triumphantly as she completed her news.

Xander stared at her blankly and said, “Ok.” He then stood up and headed for the shower.

“Alexander Harris! Come back here!” Xander stopped mid-step, spun and returned to the couch, dropping down to the cushions.

“As I was saying, Cordelia called the Magic Box this morning. They’re having a problem with some demon that is attacking the models at fashion shows. Cordelia is hosting a show at the Hyperion this weekend to try and draw it out. She wants the three of us to come down and act as models!” All three girls looked at him expectantly.

“Yeah?” Xander’s brow furrowed as he tried to decide what reaction they were looking for.

Suddenly, all three girls began to chatter at him again, talking about fashions, clothes that they needed to buy to do the show and what shoes would look best with each outfit. Xander began to doze as the noise continued around him.

Xander woke to the sound of someone banging on the table in front of him. He opened his eyes to see startling blue eyes looking right back at him. “Oi! Whelp! Time to get up. Watcher wants us, remember?”

Spike wandered into the kitchen and Xander heard the sounds of the vampire rummaging around in the kitchen, preparing his evening snack.

“Where’d everybody go?” Xander smacked his sticky lips and tongue, trying to produce some moisture for his dry throat.

“Who? Oh! You mean the bints that spent the entire afternoon yakking non-stop out here, keeping me from getting my beauty sleep? They left about an hour ago, all nattering about shopping for shoes or some such crap.” Spike gulped down his blood, grimacing at the taste as he swallowed.

“Ghastly stuff.” He rinsed out his mug and laid it in the bottom of the sink. He was not in the least bit interested in another episode of ‘how to keep Anya happy by not leaving nasty mugs in the sink’. Demon girl had gone on for about forty-five minutes the last time she had found a blood-tinged cup.

“Ready to go, Harris?” Xander looked at Spike in exasperation.

“Do I look like I’m ready? I need a shower and something to eat. You go ahead and go, I’ll get there when I can.” Spike shook his head at his flatmate.

“Nope, Watcher wouldn’t let the girls use his mid-life-crisis-mobile to get to the mall, so Anya volunteered your car. You’ll have to ride with me.”

“Well, crap. Ok. I’m gonna hop in the shower. Be back as soon as I can.” Xander stood and stretched, exposing a firm belly and a long line of dark hair that lead down into the front of his work pants.

Spike blinked and looked away, his mouth snapping shut as he spun. “Hurry up, Whelp. Don’t have time to wait for your slow arse.”

Xander flipped off the vampire and hurried into the shower.

Spike sat in the warm spot that Xander had just vacated, luxuriating in the leftover heat. He laid his head on the back of the couch and tired not to envision Xander in the shower, all wet and soapy. He growled softly as he imagined the difference in skin tone between Xander’s stomach and hips.

Xander stood under the necessarily cold water. He had caught the look on the vampire’s face when he stretched. Spike’s eyes had deepened to midnight blue and Xander could swear that the look in the dazzling eyes was lust, pure and simple.

“There is no way that Spike is lusting after me, now quit it.” He spoke to his cock as it continued to try to rise. “Why are you reacting to Spike anyway?” He roughly washed the rest of his body, willing away his erection before it really got going good, turning off the icy water and wrapping a towel around his slightly blue skin.

When Xander reappeared, dressed and ready to go, Spike handed him a sandwich before herding him towards the door. “They were expecting us twenty minutes ago, let’s go.”

Xander stared at the sandwich in his hands as he ran down the steps. “Spike, wha…”

Spike interrupted. “Forget it, Whelp. It wasn’t for you. I am the one that will be blamed when we’re late. Now get in and let’s go.”

Xander slid into the front seat of Spike’s beloved DeSoto, chewing thoughtfully on his sandwich, oblivious to the cleanliness of the car that surrounded him.