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Nine Months


Bad Timing Leads to Blue Balls



Without cracking open his sleep swollen eyes, Xander reached out blindly with one hand and smashed it against his alarm clock.


A slight frown creased his face as he considered the fact that his alarm clock was still making noise even after he'd turned it off.


Turning his head, Xander peeled open one dark brown eye. 4:45. He grimaced in distaste. He still had another 15 minutes of prime sleeping time before his alarm was scheduled to go off. Satisfied with that thought, Xander closed his eye and snuggled back down in the warm fluffy goodness that was his blankets and pillow.


Both eyes popped open this time. He glared at the alarm clock accusingly for a long moment before he realized that the offensive noise shattering the quiet stillness was actually the telephone. Grimacing at the very idea of someone calling him to wake him up at such a cruel time as the last lovely 15 minutes that he was allowed to be asleep, Xander pushed himself up and out of bed.


Stumbling and muttering vile profanity under his breath, Xander made his way into the small kitchen of his apartment without turning on a single light. Shooting the telephone a "Spike glare of Doom and Destruction", Xander took a sort of childish glee at flicking on the coffeemaker before bothering to lift the telephone receiver up out of the cradle.

"Hello?" Well, that's what he meant to say. It came out more of a sleep encrusted croak that sounded like "H'o?"

The voice on the other end of the telephone was painfully awake, although Xander was pleased to note that they weren't perky sounding. Possibly because that person didn't want to be awake anymore than Xander did.

~Hey Xan. It's Jack Claymore.~

Xander frowned even as he reached up into the cabinet by the refrigerator and pulled down a large white coffee mug with the legend "BITE ME" on it. He used the time tested method of quickly removing the glass coffee carafe with one hand while shoving the mug under the steady stream of hot coffee pouring out of the machine with the other while he wondered why the site foreman was calling him so early in the morning. Clearing his throat, Xander switched back the carafe for his now full mug of coffee.

"Mornin' Jack. Sorry, ya just caught me before my first cup of the day, ya know?"

Jack's signature rumbling chuckle sounded clearly across the phone lines. Xander always thought that laugh reminded him of a small rockslide. He honestly didn't think Jack was fully human, but he kept that suspicion to himself. He didn't need Buffy slaying his boss and getting him fired.

"So...what's up?"

~Rain-day today. It's coming down in buckets, so no work today. The site's closed. I need you to call all of the people on your crew and let 'em know. Okay?~

Xander turned and opened the refrigerator and pulled out the milk. He poured a small splash into his coffee to cool it down a bit and then put the milk back.

"Yeah, um... let me make sure I still have the list of numbers real quick."

Walking to the first cabinet, Xander pulled it open and glanced at the inside of the door. This was a trick that he had learned from his mother and it was one of the few things that he appreciated learning from her actually. Anytime Xander had an important list or bit of information that he absolutely could not lose on pain of severe punishment, he had Willow type it up nice and neat and then he taped it to the inside of one of his kitchen cabinet doors.

The first one he'd looked in had the list of contact numbers and addresses for Scooby stuff. He had most of this information memorized, but it was nice to have the list for such times as he forgot. The second list was his personal business information; insurance agents, banking stuff and the dates that various monthly bills were always due. The third cabinet, however, was a list of names and telephone numbers of the men on his carpentry crew. Xander grinned. Jackpot.

"Okay, Jack. I got the list. I'll start calling the guys now and hopefully I won't miss anyone that decides to leave early today."

~Good. If you do come across someone that you can't reach, then give me a call back at my home number. You got that one?~

"Yep. You're first on my list, right after the main office number. My crew is listed right under you."

~Great. I gotta go, Xan. I've still got a few others to call as well. Have a good time enjoying the day off.~

"You too, Jack. Talk to you later."

Xander hung up and grinned. A day off. He shifted a sly look back towards his bedroom and considered the cuddly sleeping lover he'd left there. It wouldn't take but a few moments to call all of the guys and then he could crawl back into bed for a little more sleep. Then after that...he could think of quite a few fun things to do with Spike that would prove to the blonde vampire that he really honestly did forgive him for being an overprotective nag and that he really honestly was sorry for going off like a demented bomb yesterday.

Sipping at his coffee and dialing the first phone number on his list,  Xander grinned as his mind supplied him with a few lovely and somewhat kinky mental images.


Four hours later saw Xander back in the kitchen and just as grumpy as the first time he'd wandered in here this morning. After he had called the guys on his crew he had indeed gone back into his bedroom and crawled back under the warm blankets. He had wrapped himself around his undead husband and drifted off into a lovely dream that involved a large pizza with extra anchovies and Spike in a french maid's frilly uniform while Willow and Giles told a demon that looked a lot like Alex Trebeck about how smart a guy he was and how they would have never gotten through some of their research parties without his desperately needed help.  

When Xander had awoken he had tried, unsuccessfully, to wake up his undead love-muffin for some sweaty fun. He had whispered in Spike's ear. He had gently shaken Spike's shoulder. He had reached down with one hand and pinched Spike's luscious ass. Nothing. Xander had finally resorted to slamming one hand down on Spike's chest while shouting for him to "Wake the fuck up and give me sex, dammit!" That effort had caused Spike to roll over and mutter something that sounded like, "Piss off. M'soddin' sleepin'. Middle o'the bleedin' mornin'. Daft git."

So, pouting at the unfairness of it all, Xander had climbed out of bed to begin what was normally the routine for Saturdays and Sundays. After all, during the week he was at work until about an hour or two before Spike was able to wake up on his own. On the weekends Xander would sleep in a bit, but he was so used to being up at 5:00am that he couldn't stay in bed past 9:00 at the very latest. So, he would get up, shower, and then eat breakfast in the living room in front of the television. Somehow, Xander didn't think that he'd find too many cartoons showing on a Monday morning.

He had finally put on some music instead and had eaten his breakfast in the kitchen. Now he was left with nothing to do and no one to do it with. Spike was asleep and the girls were all at class. And he was horny. Very horny. Xander shot another glare in the direction of the bedroom and the sleeping demon that was denying him sex. Granted, Spike didn't know he was denying Xander sex by being asleep...but he was. Xander pouted. It wasn't fair.

Looking around the apartment, Xander finally decided that he had to do something. Anything. If it would take his mind off of the raging hormones that were throwing a party in his boxers then it was a good thing. His options, however, were pretty limited. He could either stay in and clean. Oh joy, not! Or he could venture out in the rain and maybe go visit Giles at the Magic Box for a few hours.

Xander smiled as he considered the second option. Yeah. That's what he would do. He'd get showered and dressed and then head over to visit Giles. He'd spend a few hours helping out around the shop, maybe doing some inventory or something and then he'd head out and pick up some food to take home to Spike for lunch. Then after a nice quiet lunch together they could retreat to the bedroom for some, heh-heh, desert.

In a much better mood now that he had a plan that would get him some nookie by lunch time, Xander put his cereal bowl in the sink and began humming to the music on the radio as he made his way to the bathroom.


Smirking, Xander had to admit that his plan was working to perfection. He'd had a very enjoyable morning with Giles. Some rare book that the ex-Watcher had put on order a while ago had finally arrived and Xander had been treated to the rare sight of a giddy Giles. He had celebrated the event by making a cup of tea and putting Xander in charge of the store. Giles had then retreated to his office for about a half hour of book-skimming before returning to explain what the book contained. Xander was impressed by Giles' well hidden ability to babble excitedly.

Then, he had left and picked up two deli sandwiches and a small container of macaroni salad as well as some fresh blood from the butchers. It would have been an annoyance to do all of that a few years ago because of the heavy downpour, but he now was the owner of a nice new car. Okay, it was a used car, but it was a good used car in excellent condition and it made the running of errands a lot easier and safer.

When he'd arrived home he'd found that Spike was much more willing to be woken up and his lover had appreciated the food and the fresh blood. They had enjoyed a fun and delicious lunch together and Xander had made a point to let Spike know that he really wasn't angry anymore. The fight last night had been stupid. Yeah, his complaints had been legitimate, but the way he'd expressed himself had been very wrong and abusive. Especially in light of the fact that Spike was under a curse to worry about him and as such, really couldn't help himself.

Now, however, lunch was over and they had just retired to the couch in the living room. Snuggling up close, Xander was once again being shown just what a great kisser Spike really was. His hormones were raging once again, not that they'd really stopped. He'd managed to distract himself from his horniness earlier, but now all of the distractions were gone and he was enjoying himself immensely.

"Mmmm, more pet."

Nibbling on Spike's bottom lip, Xander slid his fingers under his lover's t-shirt. Silky cool skin brushing delightfully along his hands was his reward for his diligence as he began to slowly push the cotton material up Spike's body. Strong hands grabbed his hips and shifted his body slightly so that his denim trapped erection thrust against the matching erection that Spike was sporting.

"Ohhh, yeah. There Spike, right there."

One cool hand traveled up Xander's back to grip the back of his neck while the other one tightened slightly on his hip. The strong hand on his neck gently tilted his head at a slight angle and suddenly their kiss deepened, tongue sliding wetly against tongue. Shivers of pleasure skittered along his skin and down his spinal cord. A moan of desire tore it's way out of his throat. He loved it when Spike manhandled him. The demon was so gentle that he wouldn't even leave a single bruise, but at the same time he was so dominating, so inexorable, the sum total of Xander's entire universe.


No. He did not hear that sound. That hated evil sex-interrupting sound. Pointedly, Xander ignored it and went back to nibbling on Spike's lush bottom lip even as he rubbed his throbbing erection against his lover. The hand on his hip tightened slightly.


Spike broke off the kiss in order to glare at the telephone in the kitchen. Xander moaned in frustration and clenched his fists in Spike's t-shirt.

"No. Ignore it. Whoever it is will just go away if we ignore them. Kiss me instead. Yes?"

Spike's glare melted into a leer as he looked over at Xander again. His bright blue eyes focused on Xander's puffy wet lips and flashed glowing gold for a brief second. That quick glimpse of Spike's inner demon caused Xander's erection to twitch violently in his too tight jeans.

"Yeah, pet. I can do that."

And with that pronouncement, Xander found his mouth captured in another deep searing kiss. He hummed in appreciation deep in his throat.


The muscles of his shoulders tensed up momentarily, but Xander forced them to relax and began to try and peel his lover out of his t-shirt. Spike seemed to like that idea because he let go of Xander and lifted his arms. Xander smirked.


Xander twisted slightly in annoyance and then pitched Spike's shirt at the telephone with a muttered "Shut up, dammit." He turned back to find his husband smirking at him with an amused tilt to his scared eyebrow.


Spike tipped his head in the direction of the ringing telephone and the thrown t-shirt.

"That's tellin' 'em luv. Bet they're runnin' for their miserable lives even now."


"Then again, maybe not, eh?"

Spike chuckled at his own semi-cleverness, but Xander just growled in a fair imitation of the bleached blonde demon whose lap he was currently sitting on.

"Spike, I'm horny. Very horny. I want sex. Lots of sex. Sweaty, messy, tire me out until I fall into unconsciousness type sex."

Xander quickly peeled off his own t-shirt and threw it with a snarl at the telephone.

"Ignore the damn phone."


Spike swallowed loudly and let his hungry eyes roam over Xander's suddenly bared chest. His cool silky fingertips followed the same path as they gently roved over Xander's skin leaving behind aftershocks of tingly pleasure.

"Right. I can do that."

Xander melted against his undead lover and buried his face in the crook between Spike's head and shoulders. He inhaled the scent of his husband deeply into his lungs and moaned. Gently, he began to nibble on Spike's neck. Inhumanly strong hands clamped down on his hips and Spike arched up to grind their groins together. Sparks began to flash behind Xander's eyes.


~Hey. You've reached Spike and Xander's place. We can't come to the phone right now so...~

~So bloody bugger the hell off! This goes double for you Peaches! Ya bloody pouf.~

~Spike! You can't say that!~

~Already did, pet.~

~/sigh/ Fine., leave us a message and we'll get back to you soon.~

~You might luv, but not me. I couldn't care less.~    


~Xan? Spike? It's Buffy?~

Xander broke off his nibbling on Spike's neck and sighed in frustration.

~Come on Xan, pick up. I know that you don't have work today. It's all rainy.~

Spike echoed his sigh and rested his forehead against Xander's shoulder.

"Do you think that she'll go away? If we ignore her, I mean?"

Xander shrugged.

"Don't know. It's hard to tell with Buffy. It depends on what's going on in her head."

Spike nodded in understanding. The slayer was nothing if not persistent when she got an idea stuck in her head.

~Look. I was just worried about you. I mean, you seemed pretty upset the other night and I just wanted to see if you were okay.~

Silently, Xander smiled. It was nice that his friends cared about him. He would have to let her know that he appreciated the call since it was a sign of her friendship and support...even if the timing was horrible. Still, as touched as he was, he didn't make a move to get off of his husband's lap.

~Well, I guess I'll just... Hey! You didn't end up in another fight this morning, did you? Oh god, don't tell me that you ended up staking Spike? And in another weird Hellmouthy twist, I can't believe that I'm actually worried about Spike!~

Xander could feel Spike's smile pressing against his shoulder at Buffy's concern for him.

~Still, if Spike was ever staked I know that you'd be a mess. And if it was you who staked him in a fit of hormonal rage,'d be ugly. I'm talking plug-ugly type of ugly, so... /sigh/ That's it. I'm heading over to make sure that you are both fine and healthy and not piles of dust and sobbing balls of misery.~

Spike and Xander both yanked their heads up off of the other's shoulder and shared a look of frustrated horniness and panic. Then, as one, they both leapt away from each other and dove for the telephone in a frantic rush to prevent Buffy from storming across town and barging into their apartment.


It had been a fairly frustrating day so far. Xander felt as if he'd walked around with a hard-on since 5:00am and he was so close to getting it taken care of by his undead-not-needing-to-breathe-and-so-is-an-expert-at-giving-head lover. He could have cried with joy.

They had ended up chatting with Buffy longer than either of them had planned to. The new telephone was somewhat to blame for that. At first they had put Buffy on speaker phone and had reassured her that they were no longer fighting and were, in fact, in the process of "kissing and making up". She was thrilled to hear it in her own slayery way. Then, somehow, the conversation moved around to the demon that had ruined Willow and Tara's date the other night. That's when they had explored the other feature of their new telephone and used the three-way calling to get in touch with Giles at the Magic Box. Between Buffy describing what Willow had told her and Spike's very educated guesses about what it could be, they had been able help narrow down Giles' search through his various books for information.

By the time they had finally gotten them both off of the telephone, Xander was hungry again and they had made themselves a quick snack. Now, here he was, pressed up against his own kitchen counter with the bleached blonde demon who shared his bed and his life slowly sinking to his knees in front of him. Xander was fairly sure that his painful erection was about to break through his jeans all on its own in its enthusiasm to get inside Spike's cool wet mouth.


Uncomprehending, Xander turned his head in the direction of their front door which was the source of the rude and loud banging.

"Hey! Harris! Aurelus! You guys home? You have to get out of the building for an hour!"

A low rumbling growling snarl made Xander look down. His lover was in full gameface and was glaring evilly at the door. However, there was very little blood left in his brain because it was all throbbing in his aroused cock. Instead of worrying that Spike was going to attempt to eat the rude and unforgivable person on the other side of the door that was telling them that they couldn't have sex, Xander's blood deprived brain flashed back to the day they'd had Spike added to the lease of the apartment. The landlord had asked for Spike's name and he had said William. When asked for his family name, Spike had said Aurelus. Apparently the landlord knew that name for he'd immediately gone pale and begun to sweat. They'd never heard a peep from the landlord since.


"You hear me in there?"

In a flash of growling snarling anger, Spike was up and at the door. Xander watched in a lust created daze as Spike yanked open the door and literally growled at the man on the other side. In true Sunnydale fashion, the man was unimpressed at the snarling vampire and sighed with his own annoyed frustration.

"Hey Aurelus, don't give me that attitude, man. I'm having enough of a shitty day as it is. My kid got sent home early from school today. Apparently they had an outbreak of lice. The super is having the whole building deloused, so everyone's got to leave for an hour or so before we can come back in."

The man, one Carlos Martinez, was a good guy that lived on the floor below them. Xander knew him from around the building and also from work. While Martinez wasn't a worker on the site, he was an employee of the telephone company and had come down to three different projects to install phone lines before the drywall had gone up. Normally Xander liked the man, but at the moment he was just staring at him stupidly.

Spike growled in frustration, but Martinez just shook his head and glared absently down the hallway.

"If I ever find the parents of the kid that spread that shit around the school, I'll..."

Martinez trailed off, but Spike filled in with his own ideas of what to do to lice-spreading sex-interrupting people.

"Rip their eyeballs out and make 'em swallow 'em whole, like olives?"

Martinez grinned at Spike for a long moment and then shook his head again.

"I gotta go and warn the rest of the people in the building so no one ends up poisoned by that delousing crap. My luck, if anyone does get sick, I'll be the one sued and not the super, ya know?"

Spike nodded and sighed a frustrated sigh of his own just before he closed the door and walked back into the kitchen.


Xander watched as Spike punched the refrigerator. It wasn't hard enough to destroy the thing, but it did put a bit of a dent in the door. Silently, Xander reached out and tugged Spike into a hug.

"Shit, Xan. We gotta get out of here. I can get through a delousing just fine. S'not like I have to breathe, innit? You on the other hand..."

Xander whimpered and adjusted his painful erection.


He was finally getting what he'd wanted all day. His dick was swollen and painful, his balls were in agony and all he wanted, all he needed was to come. And come fast.

After evacuating the apartment for its delousing, he and Spike had taken an unwanted but quick car ride over to the local movie theater. It was guaranteed to be sunless and it would provide distracting entertainment while they waited for the chance to get back home. On the other hand, it wasn't as easy to sit in the dark with his lover as he'd thought it would be. The theater was filled in a way found only on rain drenched days as everyone looked for ways to escape both the weather and boredom. And despite Spike's encouragement, Xander just couldn't bring himself to indulge in a make out session in front of a theater full of young mothers and their school aged children. Xander could only hope that they were all lice-free kids at the movie.

When they finally made it home, Xander hadn't wasted any time on chitchat. He had simply stalked over to the windows and opened them wide to let out the stink of the delousing chemicals and then turned back and pounced on Spike. Thankfully, Spike had appreciated the pouncing and had used his wonderful vampire strength to carry Xander over to the couch and then proceeded to begin stripping him down.

They both had their shirts off and they were working on unzipping their jeans. Xander honestly didn't think he'd last long, but he was sure that he could go more than once because he was so worked up and it didn't seem to matter much to him as long as he got off. He had just gotten his one hand down Spike's jeans and his hot hungry fingers wrapped around his lover's hard-as-a-rock erection when it happened.


Xander and Spike's heads both whipped around to stare in horror at the soft knocking on the front door.


Xander couldn't help it, the sexual frustration had just grown too big. He screamed.

There was a brief moment of stunned silence and then they could hear the sound of someone scrambling for keys on the other side. Xander just had enough time to reluctantly drag his hand out of Spike's jeans before the door was flung open to reveal a worried Willow and Tara. Tara held one bag in each hand. One bag bore the logo of the local Chinese restaurant and the other one had the logo of the local video store. Willow held a handful of glittering sizzling magic.

The sight of a half naked Xander and Spike standing there with Xander half bent over the couch brought the two witches up short and once they realized what they had interrupted they both blushed deeply. Willow dissolved her magical attack and grinned sheepishly.

"Um...we, uh. We brought Chinese and movies. To, cheer you, um...up?"

Xander sighed in a mixture of frustration that he wasn't currently being fucked into a puddle of sated breathless goo by Spike and happiness that Willow was worried about him and thinking of him. With a groan, he blushed and sank further down on the couch while trying to adjust himself without looking like he was adjusting himself.

Spike, on the other hand, merely stood up and turned around to face the two witches. Unashamed and unapologetic about his raging hard-on hanging out of his jeans, he ignored the twin "eep!"'s and hastily turned heads as both girls looked away. Walking over to them, he took both bags from Tara with one hand and gently ushered them back towards the front door with the other.

"Thanks muchly. Lovely to see you again. Sorry you have to toddle off so fast. Don't take any wooden nickels. Bye!"

And then Spike shut the door behind them and locked it again. With a leer, Spike walked back to the living room and deposited the two bags on the coffee table even as he reached down to pull Xander up off of the couch.

"Get into the bedroom, get naked and then lay down on your back with your feet in the air. Now!"

Xander blinked stupidly up at Spike for a brief second and then dashed off for the bedroom. He was naked before he even crossed the threshold. Chuckling evilly, Spike sauntered in behind him after pausing to take the telephone off of the hook in the kitchen.


Outside the apartment door, Willow and Tara exchanged embarrassed and amused looks.

"W... well, that was..."

Tara trailed off helplessly and Willow grinned and nodded in agreement.

"It sure was."

They exchanged another long look of shocked amusement.

"A...and did you s...see, um..."

Willow's grin grew decidedly naughty.


Tara nodded her head and blushed all over again.


The two witches glanced at the apartment door for a long moment and then back at each other again.

"Lucky Xander, huh?"

Blushing, Tara nodded again.


A brief pause and then they both broke down into slightly hysterical giggles as they each wondered if Xander would ever forgive them for barging in at such a private moment. Taking each other's hand, they turned and slowly began to walk away when they heard it coming through the walls. It was muffled, but it was easily recognizable as Xander's voice.

"Oh, oh, oh! Spike, yes! Yes! Harder! Oh, yes!"

They stopped and blushed at each other before bursting into a gale of fresh giggles. Then they started to walk away again, faster this time.

Migraines and Minions

Hanging back in the darker shadows, Harmony grit her teeth together and narrowed her eyes to gleaming gold slits as she watched her prey sauntering down the street as if they didn't have a care in the world and that no one existed except for the two of them. And that's what hurt the most.

When she had left Sunnydale to go off into the world and try to rediscover the true inner Harmony and make sense of her place in the vastness of everything, she had specifically told Spike that she would be back. She had promised that she would return to him. It wasn't that she was breaking up with him by leaving, it was more that she needed to learn about herself and the world around her. She had to, as Spike had so bluntly put it, grow the bloody hell up.

Her trip to LA hadn't gone quite as she had expected, but it had been a huge eye-opener for her. She had reconnected with her childhood friend Cordelia and the fact that the Seer still believed in Harmony even though she was a vampire now had been just the confidence booster that she had so desperately needed. Of course, things had fallen apart and she had realized that she just wasn't meant to be one of the good guys, but she had also figured out that it was okay to be a bad long as you were good at it.

After leaving Cordelia, which had been harder and more painful to do than she thought it would be, Harmony had drifted in and out of various demon and vampire subcultures, learning what she could and figuring out where she belonged. It didn't take her too long to discover that she enjoyed traveling and meeting new people, but that the philosophy of the Sunnydale demon community was the one that was ingrained the deepest in her. She was, after all, a true childe of the Hellmouth.

So, she had decided to return to her home and continue the relationship with her on-again/off-again boyfriend Spike. Her plan had been to enjoy a nice week long reunion in their bed before they embarked on a tour of the world. Spike had been to a lot of different places and Harmony was certain that she would enjoy seeing everything that he had to show her. The problem was, when she returned to their crypt it was to find the place abandoned and empty because her Spike was living with that loser Xander Harris.

She didn't care if Spike wanted to sleep with the guy. Hell, Harmony could sorta understand that urge. After all, even Cordelia had fallen under his spell for a while and she herself could admit that if you peeled away his tacky secondhand clothing he wasn't bad to look at. But Spike wasn't just having sex with Xander, oh no, nothing that simple for the self-proclaimed Big Bad. As far as Harmony could tell, her idiot boyfriend had gone and fallen in love with the big dork. That would never do.

She had fumed and bitched and ranted about it for several days. She was on the verge of either killing them both or just taking off and leaving when her temper-tantrum caught the attention of a cragthol demon with an unpronounceable name. After quickly dubbing the furry creature "Stephan", she sat down to listen to it's plan. The cragthol wanted Xander for some spell or something that she didn't really understand. Stephan had offered to help her get Spike if she captured the Slayer's friend for him. It sounded like a fair trade, they each got the one they wanted and Harmony was promised that the loser who had so frustrated her all through highschool wouldn't survive Stephan's attentions for long.

Now, she stood with her minions and the humans that she had hired and waited for the perfect moment. They just had to be patient. The Slayer's patterns rarely changed and she followed almost the same routine that she had established back in high school. The only difference was that now, she had two other teams that helped her patrol during times when demon activity was high. As the group walked through Sunnydale, they would occasionally split into three groups. The Slayer by herself, the two witches together while the last grouping was Spike and Xander. Doing this allowed them to cover more ground faster, but it also left them more vulnerable if you knew their weaknesses. And Harmony knew all of them very very well.

Finally, just as her patience was at it's end, the large group split up into three smaller ones. A grin spreading across her face, she gestured to her minions and the large men that she had hired as muscle to follow her as she stalked after the chipped vampire and his human bedtoy.

As soon as the two men were far enough away from the Slayer and the witches that even if they screamed the girls wouldn't be able to arrive in time to help, Harmony turned to her fighters. "Remember, Stephan wants Xander alive. Knock him out, but don't eat him." She pointed to the humans. "Spike has a chip in his head that causes him pain if he hurts humans, but don't get cocky. He's smart, strong and stubborn so he'll go down fighting. He'll probably try to get his human to switch around with him so that he ends up fighting the vamps instead. Don't let that happen." She frowned. "Xander may be a dork, but he's been fighting against demons for years and he may just surprise you if he and Spike manage to swap places. If Spike gets to the vamps..." Harmony grimaced and turned to her fledges. "Don't let Spike get his hands on you. If you do, you're dead. Simple as that."

Everyone nodded at her and she singled them to go. With a gleam in her eyes and a smirk on her lips, Harmony followed her boys as she stalked out after her ex-boyfriend. She would have her revenge for him not waiting for her to return. Starting now.


With a low cry of pain and surprise, Cordelia collapsed to the ground clutching her head. She was vaguely aware of Angel's lightening fast reflexes bringing him across the room to grasp her and cradle her against his chest just seconds before her head would have smashed into the tile floor. She heard Angel's voice, tight and strained with worry and sensed movement off to the side as Wesley scurried towards the cabinet where the first-aid kit was stored. The rushed and tense atmosphere created by her worried coworkers faded away into insignificance as her vision overtook her.

The first thing to register beyond the searing pain was smell. It was a scent that she recognized as Sunnydale. Even though she had grown up with it as a child, she had never really noticed it until she had moved away and it was gone. It was only when she had visited old friends that she had known it for what it was, but she knew that she would never ever forget that scent. It was a sickening mixture of rust, decay, old blood and a hint of sulfur that hung in the air like a miasma of evil. That stench was generated by the Hellmouth itself...and how twisted was it that she would forever connect the smell of Hell and Damnation with "home" in her mind.

Then sound kicked in and her ears rang with the cries of someone she had once loved dearly and who still held a tiny part of her heart. His voice was strained and filled with fear as he called for Buffy to come help because there were humans with the vampires. She didn't understand what that meant and she frowned and shook her head as if to tell the Powers That Be that it wasn't enough information.

Suddenly, she could see what was happening. The images swirled around and wavered in and out of focus. There was Spike in full gameface, snarling and growling as a bunch of large men in leather jackets held him tightly while they dragged him down the street. Spike kept jerking and pulling as he tried to break away, but then he would squeeze his eyes shut as he howled in pain. A group of vampires surrounded them, one of which was holding Xander in a fireman's carry.

Then, the images swirled in a dizzying kaleidoscope of horror and death until it settled on a blurry image of a fur covered demon with long tusks and paw-like hands. It stood before a cracked stone altar set up in a burnt and blackened room. A mutilated corpse lay on the altar and the furry demon held up a newly born infant in it's large paws. The infant opened it's eyes and they glowed a deep burning gold even as it gave out a loud wail of pain and fear.

The stench that Cordelia had grown up with intensified and a loud rumbling echoed through her ears. Horror flooded her mind and soul. She didn't need to see the cracked ground split open wider to know what was happening. She had seen it once before in real life. It was the Hellmouth and it was opening. She couldn't contain her own terror and helplessness at this vision. Shaking in Angel's arms, she threw back her head and screamed out in denial.



Angel carefully laid the last weapon into the large bag and then closed it. He looked up and across the room as he watched Wesley pull another book off of the shelf and glance at it briefly before tucking it gently into the small box in front of him. Cordy was upstairs gathering clothing and personal items together. They had all ready called Giles and told him about her vision and informed him of their plans to head for the Hellmouth.

Still, Angel was worried. Despite all of the danger that Buffy and her friends faced on an almost daily basis, the Powers rarely sent a vision to him concerning them. He could only assume that it was because his ex-lover was more than capable of handling the Hellmouth all on her own or with the help of her friends. That meant that this current crisis was something that she couldn't fix without either himself or one of his staff at her side. And that was enough to worry him. If Buffy couldn't fix it, then what the hell was going wrong?

Perhaps it was because of the fact that Spike and Xander seemed to be caught up in it and were at the heart of it all. While not close to Spike, Buffy might be thrown off balance because of her long-term friendship with Xander. It was very possible that she would be too upset and frightened to think clearly or act decisively. Angel knew better than most that Buffy sometimes faltered when her heart was involved and to his eternal shame, Angelus had used that fact ruthlessly.

Angel, on the other hand, was able to admit that his relationship with both men was somewhat...restrained at the best of times. While both he and Spike weren't at the point of wanting to stake each other, they were both most comfortable with a bit of distance between them. Hence, Spike stayed in Sunnydale while Angel stayed in LA. His estranged childe knew that he could call on Angel in an emergency or vice versa, but neither wanted to spend any amount of time in the other's presence if it wasn't necessary.

Then there was Xander. He and the sharp tongued boy had never gotten along and would most likely never be what one could call friends. Yet they had both put aside their personal feelings to work together for the greater good in the past and they would both be willing to do so again. Angel was confident of that. Despite their mutual animosity, they both respected the other's desire to keep Buffy, Willow and Cordelia safe from harm. Angel also believed that if he ever turned into Angelus and harmed Cordelia that Xander would find a way to put a crossbow bolt in his chest before anyone else could slap his soul back on. After all, Angel didn't spend five hundred years suffering in Hell because Buffy wanted him to. He was in Hell because Xander told her that she had no choice and she believed him.

And now that boy was a pawn for some demon that wanted to open up the Hellmouth. Angel would do everything in his power to stop that...not just because he didn't want the Hellmouth opened, but because it was Xander. That boy, and a boy he was at the time, had done the one thing that no one else had the ruthlessness and the raw guts to do. He had forced Angel to suffer and truly repent his evil. Before Angel's sojourn in Hell, he had scuttled about the shadows leaving cryptic messages and offered the occasional help to his beloved Buffy, but he didn't believe that he could ever be a true force for goodness. Five hundred years of torment later and Angel was positive that he could fight the good fight and win his redemption. He didn't just watch from the sidelines anymore.

His chance at Heaven was a real possibility now...and it was only because that one terrified and angry boy made sure that he was punished for his sins. Absolution is not a quick thing and it requires pain and suffering. Angel didn't want to know how a young boy, even one raised on the Hellmouth, could know that so instinctively.

Angel wondered how Xander would feel if he knew just how much of an inspiration he was to the vampire. Angel watched him struggle to protect his friends with no gifts or abilities while facing enemies that were smarter or stronger or faster or more powerful and still prevail. Somehow, it made the whole package of limitations that he suffered under as a member of the undead a little easier to bear. He always sort of thought that the day that he had Xander's forgiveness was the day that he had proved his worth to the Powers That Be.

So, he was off to Sunnydale. To rescue the childe of his blood and the most annoying scrap of humanity ever. The boy who could forgive Anyanka...but not Angelus.


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