Pairing : Spike/Xander
Rating : NC17
Summary: The words of a prophecy force Spike and Xander closer than they ever thought they would ever become but will it be close enough?

A/N : Inspired by plot bunny/challenge posted here: SpanderFiles Fic Bunnys and Challenges
Lady Q: Write a story based on the meaning of Xander's name. Alexander means: Defender of Men and Warrior. So I would like to see a story based on the meaning of his name and Xander coming to understand it





The Prophecy of the Defender
and the Determined Protector


by
Skargasm


Prologue


“He who is named Warrior, Defender of Mankind
And the Determined Protector
Conjoined they must become

Empowered to work with the Chosen One
To prevent the rise of the evil that lies beneath
Or all will fail and only evil shall come to pass.”

“Oh dear.”

“Giles?”

“I say, Buffy, this er latest prophecy – it is a cause of um some concern.”

“Don't tell me – another apocalypse?! Come on, Giles, we have one nearly every other week!! The end of the world is nigh, but don't forget your homework!! Just do your researchy thing and let me know how to kill whatever is and we're good! Right?”

“I don't think this is going to be quite so simple as that.” Giles stood up from the research table, lifting the heavy tome he had been reading and moved towards the shelf. “I need to double-check with the Codex of Ruination, but I think we might be in for some rather stormy weather.”

“Oh. Does that mean I can't go shoe shopping?”





Part One

The room was bland – magnolia would be his best guess if he was forced to say what colour it was. Xander stood up and moved to one of the walls. As he did so, he became aware of two other presences in the room, but couldn't quite make them out. Reaching the wall, he reached out with his right hand and touched it. As his fingers touched, the wall turned opaque, then into a mirrored surface. Now he could see he was definitely not alone. He turned his head and to his right was a man who looked a lot like him. Well, if he had a brush cut and wore army fatigues. And to his left, in a cage, was a naked but furred human-looking figure. The facial features were blurred and no matter how much he squinted he couldn't quite make them out.

“Huh, no fear yet” he found himself thinking. He turned back to the mirror to find that it had now turned transparent. And on the other side was the figure of Spike, reaching out the opposite hand. If the glass hadn't been there, their hands would have been touching, palm to palm. To Spike's right was a slight looking man, honey-coloured curls tumbling about his head and wire-rimmed glasses. To Spike's left was a creature in a cage. The creature – or demon – was quite fearsome looking, with gold eyes, ridged forehead and sharp fangs.

As Xander watched, the Spike in the middle moved forward until he was standing next to the glass. It was only when he felt the brush of leather against his trousers that Xander realised that he too had moved forward. Looking down, as always slightly surprised to find he was taller than Spike, Xander's eyes were caught by the diamond bright blue of Spike's eyes. As he watched, the eyes fluttered closed, making Spike look – vulnerable and open, a posture that Xander could never have imagined on the vampire before now. And without volition, he lowered his head and pressed his lips to Spike's......


“Holy shit!!!” Leaping up in bed, Xander reached out and slammed the alarm clock to turn it off. He felt muzzy-headed, lacking in sleep – a familiar state recently. He was plagued by dreams – dreams that he never remembered the next morning, only that he had dreamed quite vividly. Running his fingers through his rumpled dark hair, he flopped back down on the bed. Thank goodness it was Saturday – no work, just a Scooby meeting at the Magic Box to look forward to. He was looking forward to seeing the girls – college was keeping them very busy, and apart from the odd night of slayage and research parties he wasn't getting to spend as much time with them as he would have liked.

Energised by the idea of spending time with his ladies, Xander pushed himself out of bed and headed towards the shower.


~*~*~*~*~


“Never fear, the Xan-man is here and I come bearing gifts of pastries and coffee!!” Kicking the door shut with his foot, Xander walked into the Magic Shop, arms full of goodies for the girls and Giles.

“Ah Xander, so glad you could make it - ”

“Hey, Xan, did you get the ones with the sprinkles?” The normal scramble for the best choice in donuts was fought in silence as Xander shrugged off his coat and made himself comfortable at the research table. Silly though it might seem, it always pleased him to see the girls diving in to the goodies he brought. That and the smiles he could coax out of them with his goofy jokes often made his day.

“Hey G-Man, I made sure to get the jellied donuts cos I know how much you love them – in your understated Britishy way that is.”

“How many times must I ask you not to call me by that ridiculous name?”

“Always worth one more time Giles!” Giles rolled his eyes and smiled (score one for the Xan-man – making Giles crack his stiff upper exterior) before reaching for the jelly donut and heading back behind the counter where he had stashed his tea. He was most concerned by the latest prophecy but had had little to no luck finding out who the 'Defender' or 'Determined Protector' were meant to be. “So, what's the what?”

“No big. Just thought it would be good to catch up. Giles is all wiggy cos of his latest prophecy of doom but apart from that things are pretty calm.” Speaking around a mouthful of donut, Buffy sat down on the table next to Xander, swinging her leg and kicking him casually on each swing.

“And my Willowy type person – how goes the college studies?”

“Most excellent thank you Xander. I've made a new friend – well hopefully a new friend – she goes to the same Wicca group as me, and she seems to be as interested in the spell stuff as I am, which is not to say that I've been doing any spell stuff, just reading up on it in a purely supervised way – right Giles?!”

“What? Oh yes, yes, Willow, absolutely.” Xander and Willow grinned at each other – it was perfectly obvious that Giles hadn't followed her babble at all.

“So, Giles, what's this prophecy that has you all in a bind? Anything we can help with – and by help with, I mean make you tea and pretend to understand.”

“Well actually, I'm really not sure. It's not very specific - ”

“Pah, when are prophecies ever specific?”

“ - and I cannot find reference to either of these two beings anywhere. It just says they are meant to work with the Chosen One -”

“Yeah me!”

“Yes, quite Buffy. Unfortunately I think I've pretty much exhausted my library and may have to consult with Wesley.”

“Oooh, Watcher Road Trip ahead – better watch it when the two of you get together, I can imagine the stuff you two get up to surrounded by books!!”

“Yes, quite Xander, thank you.”

“So, Tara and I got talking and she's really into spiritual stuff, and was telling me the meaning of names and stuff. My name is Celtic for Joy or something like that, and hers is perceived as the unquenchable hunger that propels all life!”

“Whoa – getting a bit deep there, Wills!”

“What does my name mean then?”

“Err, there's no particular meaning for Buffy – don't laugh Xander! - but Elizabeth means God's promise which is of the good, especially with you being the Chosen One and all.” Buffy stuck her tongue out at Xander, and he retaliated, both of them ignoring Willow's pretend scowl. “Oooh, and get this, Xander, Alexander means “Defender, or Warrior for Mankind – now how's about that then?!”

The sound of a heavy book being dropped caused all of them to turn to look at Giles, who was standing with his glasses in his hand, looking rather shocked.

“Oh Good Lord, Willow, say that again!!”

“Say what?! Giles, are you alright? Because I don't know if you realise this but you just dropped a very old book and normally you tell us that -”

“No no, what you were saying. What's the definition of Xander's name?”

“Well, it was just in this book Tara was telling me about. It's something like Defender, or Warrior for Mankind which I thought was really cool because of Xander here working to fight the forces of evil here in Sunnydale and stuff. Why – Giles, you've gone really pale!”

“Quick, get him a chair!” and the three rushed to help Giles to sit down at the table. “Giles, what's wrong?”

“I – well, I hope I'm wrong but I think I may have been looking in the wrong places. You see, one of the beings referenced in the prophecy is called the Defender, or Warrior for Mankind.” Looking round at the three faces, Giles could see they were as stunned as he was. “Yes – it would appear that our Xander has made his way into a prophecy.”

“Well hell!”





Part Two

“Ok, G-man, I hate to say this but I think you may have taken one too many hits to the head. There are hundreds of Alexanders – what makes you think I'm it?”

“He does have a point Giles. I mean, this is Xander we're talking about - ”

“Hey!!”

“No offence, Xander” Buffy said, patting him on the arm. “But seriously, why would Xander suddenly turn up in some fusty old prophecy? And if he's this Defender then who the heck is the Protector? And is it me, or does that sounds like some sort of birth control?!” Xander couldn't resist a snicker, half-wishing he'd come up with that one!

“Yes, well perhaps I was a tad hasty. But you must admit, finding out that Xander's name means the same thing is quite the coincidence. Willow, where did your friend – Tara, did you say? - where did she find these definitions?”

“I think you can just look on the net Giles. Would you like me to boot up your computer? There are some amazing search engines that would be incredibly helpful....”

“Yes, yes, I know how much you adore using all this technology. Give me a decent book any day. However, in this instance, I think it would be most helpful if you could indeed turn to the computer and see if you can find more about these definitions. And – where's Buffy gone?”

She waved from the entrance to the training room, mobile phone in hand. “I'm just going to give Angel a ring. He's meant to be coming down later and I thought it might be an idea for him to quiz Wesley on any handy-dandy books for you. Now aren't I the helpful little Slayer?”

“Yes, and the opportunity to talk to your Deadboy-friend has nothing to do with it?!” Xander snarked. Ever since Buffy and Angel had decided to give things another try, he had been making a real effort not to return to his previous 'Angel-hating' stance. He was old enough now to realise that a large part of it had been jealousy – of all the attention the vampire had received, his relationship with Buffy while Xander was deep in the Buffy-love, and the actions of Angelus had been too much for his loyal heart to easily forgive. Admittedly, there were still times when he hated the vamp, but mainly because he seemed determined to be miserable!! Even after the embedding of his soul – payment for deeds he had undertaken in L.A. For the Powers that Be – Deadboy had still been a miserable s.o.b.. Xander was well on the 'we hate Angelus' train, but now there was no chance of the evil bastard re-emerging and wreaking havoc on Buffy's family and friends, he was prepared to let bygones be bygones. Well after a particularly harsh talking to from Buffy about the freedom to choose and all that! They had actually sat and had a proper conversation not long after the two lovers were reunited, and although they weren't friends, they could at least be in the same room as each other without hackles instantly rising.

“Ha, ha, you're just – ANGEL! Yeah, I know – was hoping you could... What vision? Really? Ok, right – see you later then. Ok, yeah I'll let Giles know. Bye.”

“Whassup? Did someone mess about with his hair-gel? If so, please remember I have an airtight alibi and -”

“Cordelia had a vision. And Xander, you were in it. Angel is bringing Wesley with him because apparently this one looks like a big deal. He wouldn't tell me more – said he would be down as soon as it's dark.”

All four were struck dumb. If Xander was starring in a vision from the Powers that Be, maybe Giles wasn't as far off the mark as they thought.


~*~*~*~*~


For a moment, he was convinced he was back with the Initiative. The cold, hard fear froze him in place before he realised the walls were wrong – the Initiative was whiter than white, soulless and evil hidden behind a clean façade, whereas this room seemed to be neither good nor bad – simply there, like a waiting room. Bouncing to his feet, he looked around. Even with his excellent sight, there wasn't anything to be seen – white upon white upon white. He moved towards one of the walls, and as he reached out to touch it the texture changed becoming mirror like. For the first time in over 100 years he saw his reflection. He took a step back, bemused, then instantly shrugged into his Big Bad persona and faced his image down.

Looking to one side, he could see himself how he used to look – floppy curls, poncy glasses, breeches and shirt. He sneered – it had literally taken blood and tears to lose that part of himself, and facing it now wasn't bringing back any fond memories. Angelus had beaten William out of him years ago, or rather beaten away any external signs of William. Turning to his other side, he could see a cage containing a demon – a snarling, writhing beast with golden eyes, ridged forehead and razor sharp fangs. He could quite clearly see the seeping wound in the demon's head where the chip had been implanted, and sometimes the snarls sounded more like whimpers before rising in volume as the demon beat against the bars of the cage once more. Trapped within it's own head – sometimes he wished the Initiative had simply dusted him.

Turning back to the image in the middle, he realised the mirror was changing texture again, becoming more window like. He faltered as he saw something on the other side, and the blurred shape formed into – Xander ruddy Harris? Why would he be seeing the Whelp? And what the bloody fuck were the two other shapes there with him? One made his demon growl threateningly – dressed as a soldier, from crew cut to boots, standing at attention – the soldier image was distressing to say the least. But more bizarre was the furred creature in a cage. If he could understand that the caged persona on his side was the demon, what the fuck was THAT doing at Xander's side? It looked like nothing so much as - as a hyena? This was getting more and more surreal, and determined not to put up with any more shit, Spike moved to turn away. But Xander was reaching for him – his hand outstretched, palm forwards and Spike found himself stepping close and pressing his palm to Xander's palm. The skin was hot but not sweaty – just part of the overall furnace that was Xander Harris – and looking up Spike realised that he must have stepped closer or something because now he was looking the whelp dead in the eye with nothing between them.

Those eyes – those kick me, hurt me, love me, all-seeing hazel eyes – were staring directly into his own, piercing through any pretence to the man within the vampire. And for the first time in years, Spike felt that somebody SAW him. Not just the image, the bravado. Not just the demon – the capacity for blood, death and violence. Not just the sexy exterior, with his pretty blue eyes and his marble white skin to be kicked and bruised as desired. Those eyes saw HIM - the poet hiding inside of the killer, the too-big heart that had been trampled and crushed by rejection too many times. Closing his eyes, blocking out the sight, Spike desperately tried not to cry. He wouldn't let the Whelp see him cry, not now, not ever.

Eyes squeezed shut, he was taken by surprise when warm, mobile lips touched his and Xander pulled him into his arms. He was enfolded in an incredibly warm embrace, wrapped up tight and held close – so close that he could feel Xander's heartbeat thudding into his own chest, almost as though it was his own heart. He gasped, and found he was being devoured – darting tongue slipping in to steal a taste; his head was being tilted, all the better to enable the boy – Man – to delve deeper; crushed closer as Xander's kiss went on and on and on. Responding in spite of himself, Spike's hands swept up to grasp Xander's head, taking over the kiss so that now it was his tongue delving into that wet warmth, tracing teeth and gums, learning Xander from the inside out. He had NEVER felt like this, not even with his Dark Princess, and stunned he pulled back, eyes wide with shock.

And as he watched, the furry beast-man and the soldier moved closer to Xander until they seemed to merge from either side, almost as though they were sliding INTO Xander. “What the fuck?!”



His exclamation echoed around the crypt, bringing Spike fully awake so that he found himself sitting up in bed, tangled in his sheets, and gasping for breath. “What the fuck had the Red Witch done this time?”





Part Three

“I don't want to talk about this. In fact, I think it's probably best if I shoot out of here now before Deadboy turns up - ”

“Xander, you can't pretend this isn't happening – we need to try to understand what's going on, how the prophecy relates to you – we need to find out who this 'Determined Protector' is – hiding your head in the sand isn't going to make this go away.” Giles tried to be understanding, but now wasn't the time for Xander to be stubborn. The mere fact that Angel and Wesley were coming down from LA that evening meant that whatever was going to happen was going to happen soon and they needed to be prepared.

“Hey! Head firmly out of the sand thanks G-Man!! You guys smooshing together some bits of information does not make the Xan-Man part of any prophecy, and until you've got some proof, I'm quite happy on this river I'm sailing on, thanks very much!.” Xander and Giles had gone into the small office in the Magic Box. The young man was obviously upset by what had occurred and was determined to ignore it all as long as possible, whilst Giles wanted to get to grips with everything sooner rather than later.

“Xander – I can understand how difficult this is for you but - ”

“Can you? Can you really? It's bad enough I've been every demon's butt-monkey for however many years – now you want me to play some role in some dumbass prophecy, and conjoin with some fucking protector, who by the way we have no idea who it is!! I don't think you can understand how any of that feels Giles, I really don't. I'm the token human, remember – no special powers here? And no matter how many times I may have joked that I wanted to not be quite as ordinary as I am, I'm kinda happy with my place on the totem pole. Right at the bottom suits me just fine, thanks, and putting me into some stupid prophecy is not going to change that!”

“I can see you're agitated. Perhaps you're correct, maybe we should try to gather a bit more information, piece together a bit more before we go any further. Please, rest assured, we will be looking into this whole thing very carefully.”

“Thanks Giles. I just...” Xander sighed deeply, “ – I just don't feel up to all of this, especially with Deadboy and Wesley coming. Buffy and Willow seem to think I should be happy to be involved in this, but I'm not. I'm sorta happy being 'fray-adjacent' and this seems to put a bull's eye right on my back. It just makes me feel uncomfortable – I don't want to be responsible for some apocalypse happening.” Having revealed his real fear, that he might let people down, might be responsible for something earth-shattering happening, Xander bent his head and allowed his shoulders to droop, letting Giles see how deeply affected he was.

“Oh Xander, you must know you're not alone in this. But yes, I can understand how you're feeling, and appreciate you need some space. It's just – you really must let me know of anything, anything unusual that occurs with you, alright?”

“Unusual how exactly?”

“Well I'm not absolutely sure. If we apply the same sort of principles as how Slayer's are affected, for instance, recurring vivid dreams - ”

“Dreams?!” Eyes wide, Xander realised too late that he had given himself away. There went his opportunity to escape. Sitting down , he dropped his head in his hands. “What do you need to know about these dreams?”


~*~*~*~*~


“I can tell you're there – you might as well come in.” Spike sighed as the door to his crypt was opened, and Angel walked through. He had sensed his Sire outside for at least ten minutes before finally losing patience and speaking.

“Hello Spike.”

“'Gelus.”

“Spike – look, I need to talk to you. There are some things you need to be made aware of.”

“What – you mean like you and the Slayer?! What – you thought I didn't know? Can smell you on her, or didya forget, vampire here?”

“No, I didn't forget. I can't ever forget can I? I made you what you are – did things that I'm ashamed of....”

“Oh please!! Save the brooding for someone who cares! What do you want?!”

“Spike – God, there's no easy way to tell you this. I only recently found out your part in it, and until Cordelia had the vision we had no idea, I swear to you - ”

“What are you going on about? Have you lost all your marbles underneath that hair gel? You're not making any sense!”

Angel was pacing up and down the crypt, obviously agitated. “Yeah, sorry. This has me thrown. And I know how much you hate 'mojo' but I don't think you're going to have much choice in this one. Look, do me a favour – sit down will you? I can't talk to you while you look like you're waiting to bolt.”

“I don't run from anyone mate!!” Spike snarled, then sighed heavily as it became obvious Angel wasn't going to speak until he had sat down. Throwing himself into the ratty old armchair he had 'saved' from the dump, he threw one leg over the arm and raised his eyebrow sardonically. “This alright?”

“There's a prophecy. You're in it. As well as someone else, and you need to do something that I don't think you're going to want to do but you don't really have a choice otherwise Acathla is going to look like a walk in the park.”

“A prophecy? With me in it – yeah, ok Capt'n Forehead, pull the other one!”

“Spike, I'm being deadly serious. I need you to come with me, and I need you to listen to some pretty heavy vampire lore because if you don't, there's no telling what might happen.” Spike took a moment to look at Angel's face and realised the older vampire was serious. And what that meant for him he really wasn't sure.

“And what makes you think I wanna help? Cos that's what you're talking about, isn't it?? If there's some crappy prophecy and your demon bint's getting visions, then it's all about helping the White Hats right? And what makes you think I want any part in that?”

“Because despite everything I ever did to you, or tried to beat into that thick skull of yours, you're actually a good man. And I don't think you want to see the end of the world anymore than I do. I know how much you've been helping Buffy over the last year, in spite of the fact that no progress has been made in getting the chip out of your head. And I know there were alternatives to what you chose to do – you could have set up a demon court, burned down their houses, hired killers – but you didn't. You chose to help them. So something within you is already playing on the side of the White Hats, whether you want to admit it or not. So, are you going to come with me, or do you want to drag this out so I'm forced to kick your ass and make you come with me?” Standing over the smaller vampire, Angel pulled himself up to his fullest height. “I could always use Sire's voice if that would help – make you feel like you had no choice?”

“Alright, alright, keep your mullet on. Where are we going?” shrugging into his duster, Spike looked up at Angel. He hated it when Angel showed how well he knew him – it pissed him off that Angel was right, he had had a choice since the chip.

“To the Magic Box – like I said, this doesn't just affect you. And we need to talk on the way because I don't want you exploding in front of all of them when I explain what you have to do!”

“Why would I explode? You know, contrary to your opinion of me, I do have some self control ya know!”

“Yeah, ok. So, if I were to tell you that you're going to have to take on a Consort and you won't actually have a choice in the matter, you're gonna take that well??”

“Bloody hell!”





Part Four

It was a tense group of people sat around in the Magic Box. Xander was trying his best to disappear, slumped as low down as possible in his chair. Angel was at the 'head' of the research table, Buffy's hip resting against him as she stood by his side. Whether they realised it or not, they presented a united front – that they were together and would support each other's decisions. Xander was pleased for his friend, he really was but he couldn't help but wish he had someone he could lean on, who would unquestionably be on his side. Trying hard to shake off his melancholy, he looked around at the rest of the gang. Giles and Wesley were sat side by side, heads buried deeply in a couple of large books, muttering between themselves as they compared the two copies of the prophecy that they had found.

Willow was in front of the computer, almost hiding behind the screen. He got the feeling she was going to flip when she heard what he had told Giles about his dreams but he couldn't think of how to prevent that, and again he sighed, wondering how badly he was going to disappoint his friends. Spike was the only one not around the table having taken his customary place on the steps leading to the loft-space, scowling at everyone in general but Angel in particular.

“Giles? Wes? Perhaps it might be an idea to start?” Angel's voice broke the heavy silence, and Xander jumped slightly. Wesley cleared his throat noisily, then began to explain.

“Yes, well, right then. Er, perhaps I should fill you in on the LA connection as it were? Right. Er, I've been researching the so-called 'Defender' prophecy for some time although like Mr Giles I hadn't managed to figure out who the leading players were. This afternoon – evening? - Cordelia had what was not a normal vision. There wasn't the normal scene of bloodshed and mayhem, but there was a definite sense of urgency and the, erm, well the people in the vision were already known to us. The first person she recognised was Xander but not Xander as we know or knew him - ”

“What does that mean exactly?!”

“Let him finish – please.” Willow subsided with some grumbling under her breath but allowed Wesley to continue speaking.

“Cordelia was only able to identify the person definitively as Xander once she remembered a few things that had occurred whilst she was living here in Sunnydale.”

“What things?” Willow interrupted again, leaning forward around the monitor and obviously bristling.

“Well, to put it politely, the two possessions that Xander went through.” Out of the corner of his eye, Xander saw Spike stiffen and he realised that up until that point the vampire had been unusually quiet and unassuming. The Big Bad persona was nowhere in evidence and for some reason the image of a bookish man with floppy curls seemed to be superimposed over his normal visage. Shaking his head and feeling quite disturbed, Xander tuned back in to what was being said. “Cordy explained that the, er, image of Xander was blurred, as though there was his normal image or persona but with two shadows. One was quite obviously a soldier, and the other – well, the other was um - ”

“The other was the hyena,” finished Giles.

“But Giles, we exorcised the hyena – you said...”

“Willow, please! Let Wesley get through the explanation – we can discuss the details then.” Giles' tone was sharp and Willow sat back resentfully. Strangely Buffy didn't move from her position next to Angel, a sign of her recently acquired maturity perhaps - whatever it was, Xander found himself thinking that she had done some major growing up recently and it had never been more evident.

“Yes, Giles, as you say the other seemed to be a representation or manifestation of his previous hyena possession. The vision continued in this vein but with another being, similarly confusing for his – well, his multiple personalities blurred into one. Cordelia was still dealing with the trauma normally caused by the visions when she realised who the other being was.”

"So - who was it?" Buffy asked. Willow began biting her nails, shifting nervously in her seat. “Well?”

Finally Angel answered. “It was Spike.”

Xander was quietly petrified to realise that he wasn't surprised. During his conversation with Giles earlier he had admitted to the recurring dreams but that they hadn't been clear enough for him to say what had happened in them. But as Wesley spoke, a slow movie reel seemed to be playing in his head and with the revelation that the other being in Cordy's vision seemed to be the owner of multiple personalities or possessions, Xander instantly had a flashback to his dream. The dream where Spike was Spike and his demon and the foppish young man. The dream where he had seen his hyena and his solder memories solidified into being, the dream where he had kissed Spike.

“XANDER!! Xander – oh my God, someone get him a glass of water or something...”

“Good Lord!”

“ … I don't know, one minute he was listening along with the rest of us and the next he fell out of the chair and......”

“....perhaps if you hadn't put it quite so bluntly Angel......”

“Give the Whelp some bloody room to breath why don't you!!!!” Spike's voice broke through the hubbub, and the sudden silence rang loud in the shop. Xander found himself being helped to his feet and shoved back into his chair, a glass of water thrust into his face. He looked up to realise it was Spike holding the glass to his mouth, whilst the others were standing around with various expressions of shock. “What?!” Spike growled.

Xander snickered into the glass as everyone busied themselves finding their chairs again, leaving plenty of space between themselves and the growling vampire. Although not so funny when it meant he was right next to said growling vampire and had obviously been thrown to the lions, metaphorically speaking. Spike looked down at him and smirked, his twisted sense of humour obviously on the same wavelength as Xander's.

“So what makes you think this other being was Spike? And what does that have to do with the prophecy?” Buffy broke the silence, and Giles looked up wearily.

“Err, perhaps if Willow would be so kind as to pull up the page on screen - Wesley was successful at finding something... well, the um page of name definitions if you please?”

Still slightly confused, Willow's fingers flew over the keyboard going through the recent browsing history then she tilted the computer monitor so that it could be seen by the rest of the group. Eyes huge in her face, she selected some keys and highlighted a section of the page:

"As you can see this, along with Cordelia's vision would indicate that, er, Xander and Spike represent the beings mentioned in the prophecy. And, based on the research Wesley and I have completed this evening, their 'multiple personalities' are part of the whole thing. Or fated to be, if you will".

The silence this time was deafening. Spike remained at Xander's side, determinedly not looking up. Xander buried his face in the glass of water, inwardly running and re-running the movie of the dream. He'd kissed Spike. He'd kissed Spike.

"Now we don't actually fully understand the whole prophecy, but it is quite clear on one particular point which Angel is going to explain. And I would ask that you let him explain fully before interrupting." Giles looked at Willow warningly having already noted her mutinous expression.

"Thank you Giles. The prophecy - well the copy Wes and I have been working from - was actually taken from a Vampire Codex, one that talks of a 'determined protector'. It was originally ignored because it made no sense that a vampire would work alongside a human, a 'defender of mankind' if you will but certain signs have been noted and it's becoming more and more clear that this is real. And that somehow, the protector and the defender must be conjoined if they're to stop evil being unleashed on the world. In the vampire codex, there was some argument regarding the 'conjoined' aspect but then it was determined that this referred to the taking of a Claimed Consort."

"A Consort?!" Willow blurted out, blushing as Giles once more frowned in her direction.

"Yes. Taking a Claimed Consort - well it doesn't happen often between two vampires. More often than not the pair are simply known within any court as Master Vampire and Consort. It's incredibly rare for it to happen between a Vampire and a Human - generally, any human would simply be turned and then become a consort in the normal order of events. However, it's the Claimed aspect that makes this - well, so different and so binding. From what we have read in the Codex and also in Giles' Ruination Text, it's quite clear that this human would need to be Claimed rather than just becoming a normal Consort."

Giles took over speaking from Angel, saying "So, to all intents and purposes Xander and Spike would have to undertake a magical vampire ceremony and then work with the Chosen One - Buffy - in order to prevent this apocalypse from occurring. If they don't, the consequences could be quite catastrophic."

Willow scowled. "So what you're actually saying is - "

"What I'm saying is - "

"That Spike and I are engaged?"





Part Five


The shouting had started pretty much straight away, Willow surprisingly being one of the loudest. It was a bit like watching tennis as she literally screamed in Angel's face, with Buffy shouting back at her, Giles and Wesley adding to the general noise levels as they tried to calm things down. Xander had been transfixed by it all, and it was only when Spike tapped him on the shoulder, and gestured with his head towards the back door of the shop that he had managed to pull himself away from the spectacle. He saw Spike catch Angel's eye and mouth “Whelp n' me are gonna talk” as he ducked through the door, and then it was just the two of them. Well, the two of them and the words of a prophecy standing like an elephant between them.

Spike leaned against the wall, lit a cigarette and watched the golden glow of the burning end. He looked up at Xander who had positioned himself against the opposite wall, head tilted back as he looked up at the sky. The silence lengthened.

“Can I ask you something?”

Spike squinted through the smoke as he exhaled. He raised an eyebrow.

“Are you – have you been having – well, dreams? About all of this I mean...”

This wasn't quite where he'd imagined the conversation would start, but then he'd never understood the way the Whelp's mind worked. All that babble could be hard to decipher. “Only one dream – that I remember anyway. You?” Xander nodded. Another elephant joined the party, and Spike smirked inwardly – the alley was getting kinda crowded. “What happened in you'rn then?”

Xander blushed and ducked his head so he could hide behind his bangs. “Well – erm, I've only just started remembering them – when Wesley was talking in there it all kinda came back.”

“Ahh. Is that why you swooned?”

“I didn't swoon!! You make me sound like a girl!” Xander exclaimed indignantly.

“Cap fits n' all that!”

“Hey, buddy, I'm not the girl in this relationship – not that this is a relationship because that would be – and anyway, I didn't swoon. The heat in there got to me - ”

“A bit overcome by it all were ya?” Spike snarked.

“Why does everything you say make me sound like a weak girl?!” Xander scowled at him, then reluctantly grinned. “Yeah, ok, so I fainted. Spike, this is all so sudden!” Batting his eyelashes, he put one hand to his chest, and the other to his forehead in a fake swoon.

“Git!”

“Bite me Fangless!”

“So you do know what the ceremony involves then?!”

“Ah what now?! What's biting got to do with the ceremony? Because I've managed to get this far without any biting – well biting of the bad kind, although I guess a vampire wouldn't consider any biting to be of the bad, but I'm not a vamp so I think I can safely say that there are definitely some types of biting that I would class as bad – for me, obviously. Because it has to be a personal choice – say, if Buffy and Angel wanted to - and I'm gonna shut up now!”

“Harris – do you have any idea how serious all of this is?? Do you know what being a consort involves – is there anything getting through that thick skull of yours?”

“Hey!!! I may not know what all this consort stuff is, but I am taking this seriously! Excuse me if every now and then I have a slight attack of the wiggins at the sudden realisation that not only am I part of some moldy old prophecy, but that all my previous Hellmouth possessions are part of the package and to top it off I'm apparently getting married to someone but not a female someone like I would have expected, but a male someone and that person is of the undead variety and we've never been on so much as a date!”

“Vampires don't date!”

“Well maybe they should! And that was so not the important part of what I said!”

“So some of that was meant to be important?! Sorry, mate, just seemed like your normal useless babble to me!”

“You wouldn't know useful if it jumped up and bit you on your vamp ass!”

“Better my arse than your flabby effort – too much sitting down lately Harris?!”

By this time, they were faced off against each other in the middle of the alleyway, almost shouting into each other's faces. And in an instant, both of them had flashbacks to the same part of the dream. Rendered speechless, they stared at each other, both wondering if the other was thinking the same thing. Both wondering what would happen if they took one step forward, leaned towards each other and kissed. Both hoping the other was brave enough to make the first move. The moment stretched and they moved that little bit closer to each other, eyes still captured, lips parted. Xander's head moved down slightly, Spike's neck arched up and -

“XANDER!!” Willow's voice broke the spell, and both men jerked apart, visibly shaken. They turned to look at the girl in the doorway. She was obviously upset, eyes wild and cheeks flushed. “I don't think you should be out here with Spike, Xander. I think we all need to take a step back and not rush into something that could be regretted!” Twisting her fingers together, she stepped between the two men, staring up at Xander.

“Will - ”

“I just think you need to think this through – I mean, you HATE vampires and all of a sudden there's all this talk of conjoining you with Spike, which is so not of the good because, evil much? And, and, there's no real telling whether we've even translated the prophecy correctly so you should just stay away from Spike because your head's all mixed up and you maybe don't realise what you're doing!”

“Willow!!! I'm not completely brainless - ”

“I never said you were Mister, just that all of this has to be really confusing, and I know how long you've wanted to be special, and you are special even if you're not in this prophecy really, and I just don't want you doing something without thinking it through first.”

“Willow, stop – just stop!! Spike and I were just talking, alright? Just talking.” Xander wrapped his arm around Willow and steered her back towards the doorway. “We're coming back in now anyway – just wanted to get away from all you grown-ups shouting.” Relieved when she laughed, Xander followed her to the doorway. He turned back to look at Spike who was still standing in the alley, and before he could stop himself he took three quick steps towards him and planted a kiss on his lips. Three quicker steps took him back into the shop and he moved towards the sounds of the others talking, determinedly not looking back to see how Spike was reacting. Which meant he missed the look of shock on Spike's face, and the slightly shaking hand that lifted and pressed itself against trembling lips.




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