The Prophecy of the Defender & the Determined Protector


by
Skargasm



Part Six

The Big Bad was back in evidence when Spike stepped back into the shop. Inwardly stunned at Xander – who knew the boy had the knackers to make the first move like that?! And what exactly did it mean? - outwardly he seemed nonchalant and almost cocky as he walked back into the meeting.

Everyone had settled down at least – the shouting had hurt his sensitive ears, and to him seemed pretty pointless. What was there to argue about? If there was a choice to make, it was down to him and Xander – all the rest of it was just noise. When Angel had explained to him what was going on, Spike had been sceptical – more than anything, it sounded like the Powers that Like to Fuck you over were playing some nasty little trick and he didn't particularly want to set himself up for whatever butt-fuck they were planning. But the more Angel explained – some of it about Xander's possessions, some of it about the Vampire Codex – Spike found himself accepting more and more that this was meant to happen. And, rightly or wrongly, there was a part of him that liked it. That liked the fact that this one person was destined to belong to him and only him, tied to him by spiritual and magical means for ever, never to be taken away. Ok, so it took some getting used to that the one person was ruddy Harris of all people, but it wasn't as if the Whelp was unattractive. He'd grown into his lanky body, and construction had put some pleasing muscles onto his frame. It wasn't a hardship to look at him – that shaggy dark hair, and those ruddy eyes! Sharp, clear, but with the capacity to be warm and loving......

Shaking his head, he brought his attention back to the room. Red was the one to watch – she seemed to be taking it all very personally that Xander was the centre of attention, that he was in a prophecy and even worse, alongside Spike. He had always gotten along with her – relatively speaking – although after her 'My will be done' spell he'd made it perfectly clear that chip or no chip, she better keep her mojo to herself around him or he'd rip her fucking skull open and pull her eyes out from the inside! For some reason, he hadn't been included in the rash of cookies that she had baked as an apology – funny that! Smirking, Spike took his customary position on the stairs watching, listening and waiting.

It seemed that the conversation had gone past accepting that he and Xander were the Defender and Protector and had moved onto the implications of them undertaking the Vampire ritual – and the consequences if they didn't. It surprised him that the Watcher was being so – well, so reasonable. It set his teeth on edge, made him wonder what was going on in his mind that it was acceptable. For a moment, Spike felt like growling as he thought how easily they were sacrificing his Xander to their cause, then he almost laughed out loud as he realised he was complaining about the fact that the Watcher was supporting the very thing Spike found that he wanted. Him and Xander together.

Giles was obviously struggling to keep his temper because he was speaking through gritted teeth. “Willow, I would ask that you cease and desist this instant. No-one here wants to throw Xander's life away on the say-so of a few words as you so eloquently put it. Both Wesley and I have researched this most thoroughly and will continue to do so. Your over-emotional reaction is not going to help Xander make this decision and if you were half the friend you claimed to be you would understand that”.

“Don't you ever say I'm not a good friend to Xander!! He and I have been friends since kindergarten – since before all of this slaying and prophecies and evil vampires! You have no right to - ”

“No!! YOU have no right to make this harder on him than it has to be! This is not about you – this is about Xander. And Spike. And the decision they need to make about whether to undertake this ritual, without undue pressure – from either side. If they decide that they cannot make this commitment, then we all need to be working together to find alternative action. And if they decide that they will go ahead, we need to be supportive. Regardless, your emotional ramblings are not helping, and if you can't calm yourself down then I think the best thing you can do is go home!” Stunned silence greeted this announcement, and everyone looked at their feet, shuffling them uncomfortably.

“Xander? Am I making this harder on you?” Her voice was small in the room, and she turned the full weight of her gaze onto Xander. “I – I'm just trying to save you – I don't want - ”

“Yeah but it's not about what you want now is it Red?” Spike walked over, unconsciously aligning himself with Xander so that the two of them were faced off against her together. “S'gonna be hard enough on the boy making a decision like this without you twanging his strings to do what you want him to do.”

“Well you would say that wouldn't you? Golden opportunity to get your claws into someone, a chance to make yourself feel like you belong? What's the matter Spike? Can't get someone to take pity on you so you're grabbing this with both hands? It's disgusting - you're disgusting and Buffy should have staked you when you first came to us after the Initiative neutered you!”

“Willow! That's enough!” Shockingly, it was Xander who shouted at her, his words echoed by Angel and Buffy as Spike flinched from her vitriol. “I don't know what's going on with you Wills, but I gotta tell you I don't like it. This isn't Spike's doing and taking it out on him, being such a bitch to him – and yes, Will, you are being a bitch – isn't helping anything. If you care about me at all, you'll let me make this choice and not make it harder on me than it needs to be. Because releasing evil from below because I'm a bit squicked about getting up close and personal with Fangless isn't something I can do just because you want me to stay the same old Xander that I was at school.” Holding his hands out placatingly, Xander lowered his tone and moved closer to her. “Come on, Willow, what is this all about? Because we've all done things we've not been happy with for the greater good. Why is this so different?”

“Because it just is. I don't want you to be his – I don't want you to belong to Spike like some – some weird Pet!! You're not his and he has no RIGHT to you!!”

“Willow....”

“No, Xander – you're MINE!!! I don't mean that in a – a Pet kinda way. But you've always been mine, always there for me when I need you. And if you do this – that won't happen any more. You won't have time for me.” Her voice trembled, and for a moment Xander felt himself wavering, understanding how she was feeling. He had struggled for so long, feeling on the outside, like he didn't belong. There was no way he would ever want Willow to feel that way, not if there was something he could do to prevent that. “You're not special, Xander, you're just you. And I don't want that taken away from me. And I can't believe you would be that selfish -”

“Selfish?!!!”

“Yes, yes, Xander, you're being selfish. You've been pulling away from me for months, and now you're practically throwing yourself into Spike's arms like some puppy! Aren't I enough for you? I thought we would be friends forever, but now - ”

“But now what? What Willow? No point holding back now is there? I mean, forget the fact that you were the one to go off to college and not have time to just hang with me anymore. Or how I've always just followed behind you and Buffy blindly, there when you needed me and conveniently out of the way when you didn't. I lost Cordelia because of how much your friendship meant to me and I put up with being shoved aside because you needed to convince Oz that you were with him. But that was ok because I understood. Oh and obviously what I felt for Cordelia wasn't as valid as what you felt for Oz because, hey, it was just about how I felt! But now? Now when I need you to understand – suddenly we're not going to be friends anymore? What – because I might have someone for me?? It's not even about him being a vampire is it?? Because you were all on the Buffy/Angel wagon. So what is it Willow?? Am I selfish because maybe, however big the fear – and believe me, the fear factor is WAY high – maybe I want something for ME? Someone for me? Is that what this is Willow – you scared you won't have me as your back-up plan anymore?”

“Xander – enough now.” And suddenly Buffy was there, pulling him away from being all up in Willow's face. A face that had crumpled in on itself as she wrapped her arms around her waist, sank to her knees and cried. But worse than that, so much worse than he had ever really feared – or admitted to himself – was hearing Willow admit to him, and herself.

“Yes – oh my Goddess, yes that is exactly what I'm afraid of. What kind of a friend am !?!”

As Buffy went to Willow, wrapping her arms around her and trying to get her back to his feet, Xander was left standing alone, feeling lower than low for shouting at his friend, for breaking her down until she was weeping at his feet. His instincts were to go to her, to comfort her, but part of him realised that if he did that, it wouldn't solve things. Part of him seemed to be standing back and wondering if he was being manipulated, whether this was just another way – conscious or not – of Willow getting him where she wanted him. And while he struggled with those feelings, with those thoughts, he felt so very very alone. Until strong arms wrapped around him from behind and he was tugged into Spike's arms. And for the first time in a long time, almost as long as he could remember, there was someone to put him first and comfort him instead of him always being the comforter. And it felt good.





Part Seven

“You didn't do anything wrong you know...”

Xander looked over at Spike who was smoking furiously as he walked, not looking in his direction.

“You're allowed to say how you feel, and it's better out than in, most of that shit...”

“Yeah, but I didn't have to be quite so brutal. I – I don't even know where most of that stuff came from. What if I'm changing already? I mean, when I was possessed by the Hyena – not so much of a nice guy...”

“Woulda liked to have been there for that – think you would be kinda interesting as a primal, yeah?”

Xander laughed. “Yeah, interesting is one word for it. I tried to rape Buffy – claim her as my mate, ate the school mascot and narrowly missed out on eating the Principal. Interesting definitely works!..” He laughed again at the expression on Spike's face. “Thanks for walking me home Spike...”

Spike shrugged. “Wanted to spend some time with you – think we probably need to have a big talk at some point...”

“Have we got a choice? I mean, I don't think I have much of a choice – part of the job description. But you – you don't have to do this if you don't want to. I mean, I got the impression it's a big big deal Vampire-wise.....”

“Yeah – s'not summat you do more than once in your unlife. None of this divorce crap – once it's done, it's done for good. Or until one of you dies anyway!” They had reached Xander's apartment, and stood outside the main doors.

“So, you need to be sure of what you're doing, right? I mean, not something to rush into despite deadlines being imposed by whatever lies underneath...” Xander shuffled from foot to foot nervously. He was suddenly quite conscious of the fact that the last time they had been alone together, he'd kissed Spike. And it hadn't been part of some dream, or coerced. He had voluntarily kissed Spike. And he had no idea how Spike felt about it.

“Yeah – rushing would be a bad idea. You need to be sure Whelp. Once my demon makes a claim, that's it. Red wasn't far off with what she was saying – you need to be prepared for that...” Spike was unaware that his cockney accent was fading under the weight of his desire to be earnest – he needed Xander to go into this with both eyes open. He had no desire to trick or coerce the man – he wanted a partner, a willing partner. He wasn't above taking advantage of what was being offered, but in the long run this needed to be consensual.

“So – you wanna come up?” Xander was watching Spike through his bangs, a faint blush mounting his cheeks as he made the offer. Motionless, Spike stared at the man again. He really and truly had brass balls – no matter how scared or shy he was, there he went again making an offer. If he'd had enough blood to spare, Spike would have been blushing himself at the wave of what? - want? Desire? appreciation? - that swept over him.

“Yes, I want to come up. But I think it's probably a bad move to make. You need to think this through really carefully Xander, and all of this has happened really quickly. These dreams of yours – of ours – maybe we need to pay attention to them now that we know they're not just dreams. And if I come upstairs now, there won't be much dreaming cos there won't be much sleeping!”

If Xander could have blushed any harder, at this point he would have done. But he was still inwardly reciting that fact that Spike wanted to come up. But was holding back for Xander's sake. After the spell when Spike and Buffy were engaged, Buffy had admitted that being loved by Spike was pretty overwhelming but also incredibly special. That during that afternoon and evening, she had felt like she was the centre of his universe and she could imagine the recipient of that for real would be a lucky individual. And now Xander found himself wondering whether she had said all that to him for a reason. Maybe his subterranean feelings for Spike hadn't been quite as hidden as he had thought.

“Ok, Spike, I'll use tonight to think. But I gotta tell you – this isn't the first dream about you that I've had. And I don't think the rest of them were related to prophecies if you know what I mean. And I'm just going to shut up now and go in before I reveal even more and turn into a proper girl!...” Spike smirked, then before Xander could suit actions to words, he leaned up and pressed his mouth firmly to Xander's. Mid-speech, Xander's lips were parted so he was suddenly tasting a combination of tobacco, blood and Spike that curled through his senses and settled low in his belly. Not pressing too hard, or moving too fast, he kissed Spike back, darting out with his tongue to get a fuller taste.

He was greeted by a cool wet tongue obviously planning an exploration of its own, and they battled for a while – darting, stroking, licking and nibbling. Until Xander remembered that breathing wasn't optional and not having being a swimmer for a few years now he hadn't had much practice breathing through his nose! Stepping back, he felt the need to adjust himself but didn't want to be quite so obvious. Spike didn't seem to have such reservations, adjusting his hard cock in his tight trousers without even trying to be discreet. The warmth in his belly heating him up even further, Xander contemplated asking Spike again if he wanted to come up.

But he took a deep breath, and accepted that today had been traumatic – in so many ways – and some sleep and quiet thought would be of the good. Smiling at Spike, he couldn't stop himself reaching out and tracing a sharp cheekbones, marvelling at the smooth skin, fingertip almost tingling as he moved it towards Spike's mouth before letting his hand drop to his side.

“Night night Spike...”

“Night Whe – goodnight Xander. Magic Box tomorrow?”

“Yeah – that would be good. Erm – meet you there, or maybe I could pick you up from your crypt?”

“Yeah – erm, yeah, that would be good...” Nodding and smiling, Spike swivelled on his heel and stalked off towards his crypt, leather duster billowing behind him as he went.

“Sexy undead bastard..” Xander muttered under his breath as he turned and walked into the lobby. Deciding to take the stairs, he did so and taking them two at a time, he quickly arrived at his apartment door. His mind still on his undead 'intended'?, he used the key to open the door and stepped inside.

“Ah Mr Harris, you've come home at last. We were thinking we would have to come and find you...” A cold voice greeted him from his living room, and Xander's first instinct was to step backwards towards his door, only to find his way was barred by the bulk of a humanoid that made Angel look weedy, grabbing him securely by the arms! He gulped, took a deep breath and prepared to feel pain as he tensed up to fight. But before he could move, the voice came closer and suddenly he was up close and personal with a very tall,very gangly looking vamp. Long dark hair tied back in a low pony tail, his pallor was echoed by his pale grey eyes, thin cruel lips pulling back to reveal his fangs. A long fingered hand stretched out and grabbed Xander by the hair, a gasp escaping his lips as his head was wrenched back. Eyes watering, he watched as the thin face moved closer.

A thick arm appeared from behind him, pushing the vamp back.

“I wasn't going to bite him – back off. We need the ceremony, I know that...” He nodded as he looked over Xander's shoulder at the giant. “Yeah, that works. Let's move out!..” Realising there was some sort of weird telepathy thing going on, Xander tried to wrest himself free only to be thumped on the back of the head, the thin face of the skinny vampire the last thing he saw before he lost consciousness.





Part Eight

It began very much like the last time. He was in a white white room with a mirror in front of him. He could see his demon in a cage, whimpering, growling and snarling. And he could see William, the ponce of a poet, honey-curls flopping over his forehead, wiping his glasses on his handkerchief. He looked towards the mirror and watched it turn transparent and there was Harris with his two manifestations – the hyena-man and the soldier man. This time, the hyena wasn't caged. They stood very close to him, again looking as though they were trying to merge themselves into him. Spike watched as Xander reached towards him and found himself again walking forwards to meet the man halfway. Their hands clasped together, they stood facing each other.

“I'm scared Spike.”

“What are you scared of?”

“They want to take over and I'm scared..” br />
He shook his head. “Don't be scared – I don't think they want to take over. I think they want you to accept them. Accept them as part of yourself and you'll be whole again.”

“Will you accept them as part of you?”

“If that's what it takes – if that's what needs to be done..”

“But do you want to?”

“Yeah, Whelp, I want to. I – I don't do so well on my own. I need to belong – to family, to someone. And I think you could be that someone.” Xander nodded and a small smile crossed his face.

“We're very alike in that respect. I need to belong too – the hyena calls it pack, I call it family. And I want that.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Xander's hand slid up towards Spike's face, fingertip once more tracing his cheekbone then moving to his lips. Spike turned his face into the caressing hand, eyes closing as he soaked up the warmth and affection in that gesture. His lips parted as the finger moved towards his mouth, and he sucked the tip between his lips, grabbing it lightly with his blunt human teeth.

He opened his eyes and they were blazing golden yellow, passion obvious within their depths. The manifestations moved closer

“Spike?”

“Yeah?”

“Come get me Spike – before it's too late.” A cold prickling sensation travelled up his spine and he found himself growling.

“Xander – what's happening?”

“Before it's too late Spike. Please – come get me.”

“What do you mean – Xander – Xander, don't go!!”But as he watched, Xander faded until he was standing facing an empty white space. And somehow Spike knew if he didn't do something quickly, he could lose Xander completely.



~*~*~*~*~


Everything hurt. His head hurt where the giant had thumped him; his wrists hurt from the handcuffs they had put him in; and his body was aching from laying on a cold, concrete floor. Looking around, Xander tried to figure out where he was. The room looked familiar, and for a moment he couldn't figure out why until he realised – they were at the abandoned factory, scene of his bizarre kidnapping experience with Spike and Willow. Shoving himself to a sitting position, Xander managed to shuffle to the wall so that his back was supported. He closed his eyes wearily, head thumping back against the wall. He hated being the damsel in distress, awaiting rescue but for the moment he couldn't think of anything else he could do. So much for being the great defender of mankind. Sighing, Xander wished there was some way he could alert the Scoobies or Spike, let them know what was going on.

“Ah, you're awake.” The tall gangly vampire appeared in the doorway. He moved towards Xander, lowering himself into a squat in front of him. “We've been waiting for you to wake up – there's a lot to be done Alexander.”br />
“Who are you and what the hell do you want with me?”

“My name is Karl Wilhem, and I am of the House of Lucius. And it's very simple, Alexander. I want – I intend to claim you. The Defender of Mankind will be my claimed and you will help me make the Hellmouth a safe haven for vampires and demons from all over. And I will rule them all. So it is written, and so will it be.” Xander couldn't stop the sarcastic laughter that escaped him.

“You have got to be kidding me?? You think I'm some great Defender?”

“Oh, we know who you are. And we want you on our side – the Codex states quite clearly that the Defender will be claimed by a Master Vampire and then come into his power. And we want your power with us. By the end of today, you will be mine and you will come into your power – the ceremony takes place tonight. I would suggest you rest – apparently becoming a claimed can be, er, tiring for a human.” The smirk on the thin face was threatening, and Xander felt his heart kick up a notch. Somehow he didn't think he wanted to know why the ceremony was tiring for a human, or why this vampire was so eager to be the one to claim him. Just his luck to have a evil dead guy who insisted on sharing the details of his dastardly plan. “I consider myself lucky – you are most attractive and it won't be a hardship claiming you. No hardship at all.” So saying, the vamp moved quickly to his feet and strode away leaving Xander alone in the dark and scared, very very scared.


~*~*~*~*~


“Xander's missing!”There were gasps of surprise from Willow and Giles as Spike barrelled into the Magic Box, blanket steaming from the sunlight he had rushed through. “I've been to his apartment – the door was open, and I could scent another Master Vamp and a ruddy great big demon, not sure what it was. He's missing and we need to find him!.”

Spike thanked God for the infamous Scooby togetherness – there was no questioning, no faffing around. Instant belief and instant action. Thank fuck for that. As he paced backwards and forwards, Willow was putting together the ingredients she needed for a locator spell and Giles was on the phone to Buffy. The events of the previous night were forgotten as they all worked together to prepare for whatever they needed to do to get their friend back.

“Got him. They're at the old factory.”

“Excellent.” Returning to his phone call, Giles said “Buffy, Willow has traced Xander to the old factory. Spike is going to load up some weapons and I'll drive him in the boot of my car. The trunk, yes...” He listened for a few moments. “Yes, ok, I'll let him know. See you there in fifteen minutes.” Spike turned back towards Giles, his hands full of various weapons including his favourite axe and a large dagger.

“Slayer bringing Angel?”br />
“Yes – she says you might know about sewers or tunnels that will enable us to sneak in? We can drive as close as possible to the nearest sewer entrance and take it from there. I do wonder what exactly we'll be facing, but I think the sooner we do this the better.” Spike nodded in agreement. “Spike? Er, the reason Willow and I were here this evening is because we were examining the prophecy in more detail. We need to be prepared – if another vampire manages to claim Xander, this won't go well – for any of us.”

“It won't happen.”

“Spike......”

“I'm telling ya, Watcher, it ain't gonna happen. Now let's go yeah? That's my Claimed out there we need to be getting back.” Spike grabbed up his still steaming blanket, ready to head out of the back of the store to where Giles had parked his car.

“Spike?”He sighed in exasperation – trust her not to be able to let it lie.

“Wot?”

“I – I just wanted to say.......”

“Spit it out – we ain't got time for your histrionics.” Willow glared at him for a moment, then lowered her eyes.

“I'm sorry – for the things I said to you last night. They were mean and unkind and I shouldn't have said them. I – I can see that you feel something for Xander, and I shouldn't have tried to get in the middle of that.” Spike nodded curtly, loathe to get into it with her while Xander was missing – this could all be sorted out if - no, WHEN – they got Xander back. And the cold prickling sensation down his spine was telling him they needed to get a move on before it was too late - there was no way he was going to let someone claim what was his - no way in Hell.





Part Nine

He knew he should have listened to the voice in his head that tried to explain the logistics of escape. The bathroom break they had taken him on had seemed like an excellent escape opportunity, but Soldier!Xan kept telling him to hold fire, stand at ease and await rescue from command. He made the mistake of not listening, and now he was back on the floor, bruising to his face and back from the kicks and punches they'd used to subdue him. Who knew they were using humans to guard him? At least he'd waited until after using the grimy bathroom. Groaning, Xander leaned against the wall. With all of his experience of being thrown around, he knew concussion was more than likely – it felt like his brain was rattling around in his head. He felt nauseous and the room was swirling. Yeah, he should have listened to Soldier!Xan.

“You need to change into the ceremonial robes. Are you going to give us any trouble?” The hulking figure of one of the men who had 'assisted' with his bathroom break appeared in his blurred vision, and Xander shook his head, trying to clear his mind.

“Ceremonial robes? Are you guys for real? Gotta ask you – what are you getting out of this? You think if they open the Hellmouth you're going to live long and prosper?”

“We know our role and we are happy with it. Now are you going to give us any trouble?” Obviously not prepared to wait for Xander's response, he leaned down and yanked him to his feet. Before Xander could focus, another man came in and together they proceeded to strip his clothes from him. He struggled weakly, kicking out with his socked feet when they dragged off his jeans, although when they used scissors to cut off his shirt he kept relatively still – with who knew how many vamps hanging around he didn't think bleeding cuts was the look to go for. Maybe they would release the handcuffs when they put on the robes?

They dragged him back to the bathroom and shoved him into the shower, the blast of cold water actually doing a pretty good job of clearing his mind. The 'shower' couldn't have been more than five minutes long but he was shivering by the time they took him back to his room. Roughly towelling him down, they dropped the ceremonial robes over his head, tugging them through the loop of his cuffed hands so that he was covered by the material. A long twisted rope was wrapped around his waist and knotted, the ends dangling down his legs. Closing his eyes, Xander breathed deeply and tried to stay calm, but in his mind he was screaming – screaming for Spike!


~*~*~*~*~


“SPIKE!!!” Angel had been screaming his name for the last five minutes but there was no response. Spike had gone mental, growling, snarling and throwing himself around in the sewers, bashing into the walls. Buffy, Willow and Giles were trying to stand well clear as Angel tried to subdue him. “CHILDE!” Sire's voice finally got through to him and Spike stood panting in game-face, still growling but at least he was still.

“Sire – he's calling me, I can hear him in my head. We've got to get to him.” Wrapping Spike in his arms, Angel stroked his back, doing his best to calm his shaking Childe.

“We will, Childe, we will. Can you sense where he is?”br />
“I – I don't know. I don't even know what this is – why can I hear him in my head? What the fuck is going on?” Shoving his head into Angel's shoulder, Spike was shaking hard, panting for unneeded breath.

“I think – I think the dreams have formed a bond. I'm not sure- the prophecy wasn't clear – but it would seem that whether you realise it or not, you and Xander have already commenced the claim.” Spike looked up at Angel, golden eyes shocked.

“That's not possible – is it?” Angel couldn't hold back a chuckle.

“Spike – with you, anything is possible. Now, we need you to use that link – lead us to Xander. Can you do that?” Taking in a shuddering breath, Spike nodded his head and pushed himself back so he was standing on his own.

“Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.” He looked round at the Scoobies – Giles and Buffy looked encouraging, whilst Willow looked shocked and a little horrified. There was something off about the redhead but he couldn't put his finger on it. Pushing it to the back of his mind, he tried to concentrate on the sense of Xander he had in his head. He could feel him – ahead, like a thread leading him forward. Pointing with his axe, he started forward. “He's this way.”


~*~*~*~*~


He felt like he was suffocating, panting for breath as they led him forwards. The hood over his head meant he couldn't actually see where he was going, and he stumbled twice as they dragged him along. The men holding each arm came to a standstill and he stumbled again, righting himself slowly and standing still. The hood was ripped off of his head, and he winced as the light struck his eyes then looked around.

He was in a bedroom, dominated by a huge four-poster bed. Lying indolently on the bed was Karl, wearing a robe similar to the one he had been placed in. Next to each side of the bed were small tables, both with bowls resting on them, the substance within them smoking and emanating a woody smell. Xander could only see the three of them – the two humans and Karl, but somehow he knew there were more people around, somewhere. He could sense them, and how he could do that he really didn't want to know.

“Welcome Alexander. The time has come. I thought you would be more comfortable if we did the ceremony in relative privacy.”

“Gee, thanks for being so thoughtful. Of course, the handcuffs tends to make this feel less like a date....”

Karl laughed. “Ah, Alexander – you are so spirited. I wonder if that spirit will survive the claim? It will be most interesting to watch your progress as time goes by.” He nodded to the two humans, who dragged Xander towards the bed. He balked, trying to lean backwards but they pulled harder until he was close enough for them to shove him forwards so he landed in a heap next to Karl. Struggling against the material, he tried to right himself but Karl grabbed him and pulled him into his arms. Tugging him close, Karl rubbed his face in Xander's hair, trying to shush him, running his hands up and down Xander's back. “This doesn't have to be too awful Alexander – you will find that I can be a kind master once you have accepted your place.”

“Master?!” Xander laughed almost hysterically. “Buddy, there is no way in hell you will ever be my master. Now stow the fake seduction and just get on with this already. I don't have time for your shit. But I hope you can sleep with one eye open for the rest of your life because I will dust you the first chance I get, and you better believe that!”

Karl growled, shoving Xander back onto the bed and looming over him in full game-face. “Very well, you have made your choice Alexander.” He turned towards the two humans who were still in the room. “Leave us. Let them know that the ceremony has commenced and I am not to be disturbed.” He turned back to Xander, and yanking at his cuffed hands pulled his arms over his head and hooked them onto the headboard. He ran his hand down Xander's chest, caressing the material with his fingertips. He lifted his hand and moved back to Xander's throat, once again trailing downwards but this time he used a talon to slice through the material, a thin line of blood welling up on Xander's chest as he moved downwards. “So it begins.”





Part Ten

The fight would go down in the annals of Watcher History, and Giles found himself wishing he had a video camera. The sight of Spike and Angelus fighting together on the side of good was something that he almost felt privileged to witness. And it was definitely Angelus – Angel had obviously let his demon out to assist his Childe in reaching what was his. He had seen the two fight each other, but watching them fight on the same side was astounding, and he could fully understand how they had formed half of the Scourge of Europe. In full game-face, they twirled, kicked, stabbed, hacked and flew around the room, body parts flying in their wake as they decimated every demon in their path. Giles and Willow were able to follow quietly as their way was cleared, and Buffy could be heard to complain that they weren't leaving any demons for her. Judging by the semi circle of guards around the door at the far end, that was where the ceremony was being held and that was where they were heading.

Then Giles realised he could hear chanting, and looking up he could see a trio of beings on the balcony. Dressed in emerald green robes, their heads lowered so faces could not be seen, their hands weaving in the air in a complex pattern, Giles realised they were intoning the Claiming Ritual. These must be the Chroniclers!

“Spike – Angel – the Claiming Ritual has begun – you have to get in there!”

The fight became truly epic, Spike fighting with increased ferocity until he suddenly fell to the ground, screaming in pain. Realising that two of the guards were human, Buffy stepped up, dragging them away from the door and finally clearing the way for Spike to get through to Xander. Backhanding the tallest one, she spun-kicked the other out of the way, then turned so she and Angel were fighting back to back and holding the rest of the demons off from following Spike.


~*~*~*~*~


Hissing at the pain of the line being sliced into his chest, Xander closed his eyes and tilted back his head. The mist emanating from the bowls on the bed enclosed him, seeping into his body and mind, releasing, relaxing and he felt as though he was leaving his body. Behind his eyelids, there were sparks and he heard an almost audible click as something in his head sank into place.

He opened his eyes once more, and Karl looked up from where he was lapping at the blood welling from the thin line on Xander's chest.

“Whuh - ” A flash of green caught him by surprise, and rearing upwards he looked directly into Xander's eyes. He leaned forward, crying out as Xander's head reared up and growling, he sank his teeth into Karl's neck. Pushing against the bed, Karl tried to free himself, a frisson of fear racing down his spine as he realised he couldn't get out of the grip of Xander's jaws, sharp teeth digging and slicing into his neck as Xander's head jerked back and forth.

As Spike burst into the room, he was greeted by the sight of Xander half naked on a four-poster bed straddling a figure, hands on either side of the person's head, gnawing at their throat. The person was struggling, shoving and pushing against Xander until they managed to push him over until they were on top of him. Spike raced over the room, grabbing the figure and tearing him away from Xander. A spray of blood splashed him as the figure stumbled to the floor, hand going to its torn neck as it lay in an inelegant sprawl. Xander's lips were covered in blood, his face twisted in a snarl, looking more like the hyena figure Spike had seen in his dream than his normal self.

Hissing, Spike turned to the figure on the floor and raising his axe he swung it viciously, severing the head in one stroke. Behind him, he could hear growling and the hackles on the back of his neck rose. He turned to see Xander kneeling on the bed, still snarling and whining. The door crashed open again and Buffy, Angel, Giles and Willow fell through it.

“GET BACK!” he shouted.

“Xander!” “Good Lord!” Giles and Willow's cries called Xander's attention to them, and he stiffened before moving to hands and knees and crawling along the bed towards them. Spike moved between him and the others, still growling.

“Angel – you need to get them out of here!”

“What?! No – we're not leaving him - ” Buffy protested.

“ANGEL!” Angel turned to the other three and grimaced, realising what he had to say wasn't going to go down well.

“We need to go – once a claiming has begun, it has to be completed one way or another. You – WE – don't want to be in here for this, believe me.” He tried to shift them towards the door, but Willow resisted.

“I'm not leaving him here with Spike – he needs to come with us!”

“Willow - ” Giles began to explain.

Xander had made it to the end of the bed, and was slinking his way over to Spike, still snarling and sniffing the air. “Mate?” The voice was slurred, but still Xander's voice, and he moved right over to Spike until their bodies were almost touching. Spike scented the air around Xander, realising that the Ritual Mist had already had an effect. His face had shifted back from the hyena's but that wasn't just Xander in there anymore. He shifted, ensuring he remained between Xander and the others.

“MATE?!” Willow's high pitched shriek again caught Xander's attention, and this time he scowled and looked over to her, baring his teeth which were noticeably sharper and longer. Spike moved again so that he was in front of the man, growling and deliberately shifting into his space to get his attention.

“Angel, you need to get them out of there. I don't know how much longer I can keep him from attacking them. And – and, shit, you just need to get them to go!”

“Come on!!” Buffy and Giles moved back through the door, but Willow was still resisting. Xander began to rub his face against Spike's, intent on getting more skin-to-skin contact. The cuffs jangling from his wrists, he reached out and yanked at Spike's teeshirt, ripping it straight down the middle til it split. He stroked his hand down Spike's chest, sharp nails grazing over the skin and causing four welts to form. Spike hissed in reaction, hands reaching out to grab both of Xander's and pulling them off of his body. The boy whined, then deliberately collapsed his body against Spike's, rubbing himself up and down. His excitement was obvious through the material of the ceremonial robes and he pushed his erection against Spike roughly, quiet yipping sounds emanating from his mouth.

Pushing Xander's arms behind his back and clasping his wrists together with one hand, Spike wrapped his hand around Xander's throat and squeezed gently. The yips became a guttural groan, and Spike jerked Xander's face to his, taking the boy's mouth harshly. Their teeth clashed and Xander deliberately sliced his tongue against one of Spike's fangs, thrusting his tongue into Spike's mouth so that the tang of his blood filled it. Growling loudly, Spike sucked the appendage strongly, the hot blood flooding his senses and dulling his mind until he could barely think. The kiss went on and on, the two battling for supremacy, Xander pushing his body forcefully into Spike's as he tried to bully the smaller man backwards. Bracing his feet, Spike pushed back, his grip going from Xander's throat to his hair, pulling his face tighter so he could drink deeply of his taste. The boy tasted rich and strong, and Spike realised it was the Primal Hyena, obviously fully merged now and making its presence felt. Releasing Xander's wrists, he took the torn neckline of the robes in his hands and ripped downwards, the material sliding down Xander's body to puddle at his feet. Xander's hands were struggling with Spike's jeans, whining as he couldn't get the buttons undone. Spike pushed his hands out of the way, jerking at the buttons himself, crying out as Xander dragged his nails down his back leaving bloody trails behind.

“Oh my Goddess!!!” For a moment, Spike jerked his attention to the door where Angel was trying to manhandle Willow out of the room. The girl was flushed – with anger and unwilling arousal – her hand to her mouth as she stared at the two men in the middle of the room. Xander nipped at his ears, dragging Spike's attention back to him and he shoved him towards the bed, jerking his trousers open as he did so.

Finally, Angel managed to push Willow out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him and leaning against it, sucking in a much-needed breath.

“Angel – what the hell?” He looked over at Buffy, his demon gleaming in his eyes as he battled for control against his own arousal.

“We need to stay the hell out of there until this is over. Sex and blood magic is pretty powerful stuff and unless you want to be making that decision we've talked about Buffy, I think you need to leave!”

“Oh. OH!” She blushed strongly, looking nervously at her vampire, then darting glances at Giles who had obviously realised what was going on. “Willow – I think it would be best if we, erm, went through to the other room.”

“No – NO!!! You didn't see – Buffy, he was hurting him!!!”

“Willow, if what I think is going on in there is going on, you really don't want to be in there. Believe me!” She dragged Willow across the room, stepping over the bodies of the various demons and pulling her friend away as fast as she could.

Giles looked up at the Chroniclers who were still chanting, then to Angel, then over his shoulder at the door.

“Well, I suppose that makes us the official Witnesses then.” Angel sighed, then gave Giles a weary sigh.

“I guess so!”




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