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Disclaimer: I'm a Pretender, all hail Joss the master! He owns them all, damnit! Except Crowe. He's all mine. So there.

Notes: I have no idea where this fic is going. It's a bit of a mystery tour, so sit back and(hopefully) enjoy the ride. For anyone out there who speaks it, PLEASE forgive my dubious Romanian translations. And incidentally, CANON??? What fucking canon? *eg*

Dedicated to: Immi, for inspiration. Rabbit, for encouragement. And Lar, 'cause she had a traumatic Christmas. Oh, and my partner in pain, Vixen. 'Cause she's nuts *g*

Extra special dedications to: Hallucination, Tienco and all the others who have recently had to leave the lists for awhile - Good luck and come back soon!

Improv: glimmer, fury, ease, silent

Lumina Zilei Umblet _ Daylight Walking


Spike was seriously pissed off.

It had been one of those weeks.

Slayer had thumped him for spilling blood all over her new jacket.

'SPIKE! What have you done to my jacket? Is that...? Hey, that had BETTER not be blood! OHHHHH! That's it, Mr Fangless! You and me are gonna have a little talk!'

'Well, you shouldn't have left it just lying around then, should you bitch?'


Watcher had thrown him out - again.

'Where is it, Spike? My guitar. Where. Is. My. Guitar?'


'You sold it again, didn't you.'

'I DID NOT sell it again! I... Just... Rented it out for a bit. Needed the money for blood and hey! Would you rather see me starve?'


Now he was reduced to living in that bloody crypt and was once again at the mercy of Harmony constantly twittering-on about absolutely sod all. Sheesh! The things you'll put up with for a bloody shag!

Said yapping bitch had discovered (and confiscated) his impressive collection of pornographic magazines. And if that wasn't bad enough, her discovery that most of them contained erotic pictures of naked MEN had done nothing to enhance her mood, but rather increased the amount of petulant whining that he was forced to listen to.


((Groan)) 'Can't talk... Shaggin''

'Tell me you're thinking about me, Spikey. Tell me you're not imagining naked men. Tell me you love me, my little blonde bunnikins'

((Grunt)) 'Yeah, yeah... Ohhhhhh yeah...'

'Ummmmmm, harder baby! Harder, Spike!'

((Grunt)) 'Uhhhhhh.... Uhhhhhh.... Gonna come...'

'Ohhhhhhhh... Don't stop... Ohhhhhhhh Spikey!'

((Groan)) 'Uhhhhhhh yeahhhhhh... Xanderrrrrr!'


Ermmmmmm... Yeah.

He had also discovered that he quite fancied shaggin' Xander.

Can you say 'Whoops?'

He could just picture it....


'Xander. How are you, pet?'

'Spike. What the hell do YOU want?'

'Actually Xan, I'd quite like to shag you if that's alright?'


Yeah. That'll work.

What the fuck was it lately that made everyone wanna punch him?

Grimacing, Spike put down the shot glass he was holding. 'Bloody hell, Willie. You trying to poison me or something? What IS this stuff, monkey blood?'

'Hey, don't go busting my balls, Spike. Is it my fault my regular supplier got eaten? I warned him, you know. I said 'Louie? Don't go trying to stiff that Tarpoc guy' but does he listen? Sheese... Demons! Errrrrrr no offence, Spike.'

((Grunt)) 'Yeah, well that's not my problem. I've paid good money for this drink, and...'

'See...Actually Spike... You haven't. I've been meaning to talk to you about that. Your bar-tab is the size of Manhattan here, and I'm afraid I'm gonna have to see a little cash up-front before I can give you anymore blood. Or beer, for that matter.'

The door to the bar swung shut noisily, making the vampire jump. He grimaced and continued to harangue Willie, using his most petulant voice.

'Oh come on! You KNOW I'm good for it. You'll get your money!'

'Sorry, but I'm not a charity here ya know, and after the incident with the guitar and that friend of the Slayer's...'


'Hey! Enough with the growling, already!'

'Give the man a drink. It's on me.'


'It's ok, I have money.' The stranger slid a couple of bills across the bar. 'And gimme a beer, will ya?'

Willie pocketed the cash pronto and went off to prepare the drinks. Spike turned to greet his mystery benefactor.

'So. Do we know each oth..? Bloody hell Xan, are you nuts? What are you doing in this dump?'

Then, on closer inspection 'Ahhhh. NOT Xander.' The blonde vampire's eyebrows raised a notch 'You LOOK like Xander, and you SOUND like Xander, but your NOT Xander.'

The stranger smiled, a glimmer of amusement in his blue eyes. 'No. Not Xander.' Nodding slightly at Willie, the man lifted his beer and raised it to his lips 'Cheers!'

Spike's eyes narrowed, but he lifted his glass to his lips 'Cheers. Mmmmm that's better. No bleedin' monkey shit THIS time.'

The stranger's face was impassive as Spike scrutinised him closely.

'Bloody hell, it's uncanny! You look exactly like my Xa... Exactly like Xander, except for the eyes. Yours are blue, his are dark like melted chocolate and..' (Clears throat) 'Well, they're brown. Not blue. Just. Brown.'

The stranger smiled. 'Good friend of yours, this Xander?'

Spike sniffed 'Well, sort of. We hate each other. But we know each other. Maybe not hate. I don't HATE him exactly... Although I'm pretty sure he hates me.'

Dark eyebrows raised, the stranger said 'Oh. So you're lovers?'

Spike choked on his blood and glared coldly in Willie's direction as his keen hearing picked up the barkeep's snort of amusement. Willie wisely moved further along the bar, furiously polishing a glass.

The blonde wiped his mouth on his sleeve and put on his best 'injured' look. 'No. We are NOT lovers! We're... Acquaintances, alright?'

The stranger smiled 'OK.'

They sat in silence for a moment; Spike still stunned by the stranger's resemblance to Xander. Same height, same build, same silky dark hair except the strangers was cut short and spikey. They shared the same boyish features except where Xander's eyes were brown; the strangers were a startling blue, not unlike Spike's own.

But there were subtle differences. There was a cold glint in this mans eyes that wasn't in Xander's and his boyish good lucks although identical, were marred with a hardiness and cunning that made his true age difficult to guess. The stranger also had day-old stubble peppering his chin and upper lip.

There was a silent fury in the stranger's face that suggested to Spike that perhaps he wasn't wholly human. Sniffing nonchalantly, the vampire could detect no demon scent, but the scent that clung to this stranger was a little different than the normal human smell.


The blonde vampire smelt a rat.

'So. Who the bloody hell are you?' Spike was never one to mince his words. 'And why did you buy me a drink. No. Don't tell me, it was out of the kindness of your heart.'

The stranger smiled 'Hardly. I'm looking for someone. I thought that perhaps you could help me.'

'And your name?' The blonde vampire persisted.


Spike snorted. 'Crow? What, were they all out of 'Raven' and 'Falcon' and 'Storm' and all those other 'cool' names, eh? Had to plump for Crow'

The stranger's brow crinkled slightly in confusion. 'C.R.O.W.E. Damien Crowe. It is actually my name.'

Spike coughed. 'Oh. Right then. All right, CROWE. What do want with me?'

'I'm looking for someone.'

Spike rolled his eyes 'Yeah, yeah, we got past that part already.'

'His name is Spike.'

The blonde vampire's eyes glinted dangerously. 'Spike? Don't know 'im. What do you want with him anyhow?'

Crowe motioned to Willie. 'Hey. A couple more drinks here?' Turning back to the vampire he said 'I've got a matter of some... urgency to discuss with him. You wouldn't happen to know where I could find him? I need to talk to him soon.'

Spike drained the remainder of blood from his glass and stood up. 'Nope. Told ya, don't know 'im.'

Shrugging his shoulders to straighten his duster, the vampire gave a last glance at the stranger. 'Anyway. Thanks for the drink. Gotta go. Things to do, people to kill and all that.'

'I don't think so' the stranger murmured, watching with a wry grin as Spike walked towards the door.

Crowe waited until the vampires hand actually touched the handle, then said in a loud voice 'Oh, by the William. Your Sire sends his regards.'

Spike flinched and his hand slid from the door handle.

The blonde vampire turned slowly and Willie muttered an anguished 'Oh no. Not again' as he watched the vampire's face morph from human to his true demon face.

With vampiric speed Spike was suddenly by the strangers side with his hand firmly clutching the impassive man's throat.

'Don't. Fucking. EVER. Call me by that name. You have NO RIGHT! And either does HE. Are we clear?' Spike hissed.

'Crystal' Crowe managed to croak.

Spike released him and the dark-haired man eased himself back onto his barstool, his hand massaging his bruised throat. The vampire stood rigidly, his face slowly morphing back. It took some effort. Crowe's words had really rattled the demon's cage.

Spike laughed harshly 'Fuck, you must REALLY have a death wish, peaches. I nearly snapped your neck.'

The blonde sat down again and lifting the freshly filled glass that Crowe had paid for, he downed it in one. His face shimmered again as the demon fought to re-emerge. Lighting a cigarette, he glared at Crowe. 'Now. Are you going to tell me what the fuck this is all about? Or am I going to have to hurt you some more?'

Crowe raised his hands in a submissive gesture. 'Woah! Hold on, killer. Don't shoot the fuckin' messenger boy.' The dark-haired man searched the inside pockets of his jacket.

It suddenly occurred to Spike that his head was still intact. Thin eyebrows raised as he realised that his earlier suspicions were spot on; Crowe obviously wasn't human. Otherwise, Willie would be scooping fried vampire brains off the floor. But why couldn't Spike smell him?

There was an awful lot more to this than met the eye. And Spike wasn't altogether sure that he wanted to know what that 'something more' was.

'Your Si... Sorry. Angel sent you this. It'll explain everything. Well, not everything but enough.' Crowe handed Spike a manila envelope and shrugged apologetically.

Spike hesitated.

He could ignore the outstretched hand, get up and walk away. The vampire had a feeling that if he did, that would be an end to the matter. Angel wasn't one for begging. He requested, you either said 'yes' or 'no. End of story.

Spike wasn't sure if he wanted to be involved even in the most off-hand way in his Sire's life ever again.

Involvement meant remembrance.

Remembrance of the loss of his beloved Angelus, and the way they used to be.

Remembrance of the new and definitely NOT improved Angelus, who had made himself known after his post-coital Buffy rebirth, and the devastation he had wreaked in Spike's unlife.

Remembrance that he, himself, was no longer William the Bloody, rather Spike, the fangless grey hat.

The blonde vampire's gaze met that of Crowe. For a milli-second they were lost in each other's eyes, and somewhere inside Spike a switch was thrown and a connection was made. Exactly what that connection was, the blonde vampire was uncertain.

Spike reached out and took the envelope from Crowe's hand.

Sighing, he opened it and began to read.

Spike's face was impassive as he read the letter from his Sire, but inside his head a whirlwind was fucking up his concentration big time. The words, written in the familiar elegant style, swam in front of his eyes, and his brain point-blank refused to make any sense whatsoever of the whole freakin' deal.

It was the smell that was confusing him.

THAT smell.

Sire smell.

Unable to help himself Spike closed his eyes and breathed in deeply again, the familiar heart-twanging, groin-tickling scent of his beloved Sire filling his undead lungs and Angelus-starved senses. After a few seconds of this self-indulgence, the blonde vampire reluctantly dragged himself back to reality and Willie's grimy little bar.

Crowe watched, intrigued.

Angel had warned him to expect fireworks, this after having explained that his relationship with his Childe was far from amicable. Crowe could tell from the sadness in the brooding man's eyes that this was a situation Angel would have rectified in a heartbeat. It was also plain to see the pain and longing on Spike's face, but this was quickly shadowed when the blonde opened his eyes and once again, buried his feelings.

Spike sat silently for a moment and then sniffed.

'So. What exactly does His Majesty think I've got to do with all this, then?'

Crowe frowned. 'I should have thought the letter was pretty much self-explanatory. Which part, exactly, didn't you get? Was it the 'I need your help' part? Was it the 'Xander's in danger' part? Was it the 'You were in Cordelia's vision' part?'

Spike growled, and a hint of gold sparked in his eyes. With a curled upper-lip he snarled 'Don't you bloody well push me, boy. Or you'll be in a whole new fuckin' PLANET of pain!' The vampire slammed his fist on the bar counter, eliciting an exasperated and alarmed look from Willie.

'Is there a problem here Spike? There's not gonna be any trouble now, is there? 'Cause I told you last time, I've got a reputation to think...'

Spike stood up suddenly knocking the barstool to the floor, now in full game face again. He snarled 'Oh why the bloody hell don't you all just FUCK OFF and leave me alone. Get it?' And with that, he stormed from the bar.

'I'm staying at the Mansion!' Crowe shouted after him.

'What's his problem? Slayer trouble again, I'll bet.' Remarked Willie.

Crowe shot him a look. 'Ahhhh he'll be ok. Just got some thinking to do.' The dark-haired man glanced around the bar. There were three, maybe four demons in residence, all out of earshot. He stared hard at the bar keep. 'Say, Willie. Tell me about this Slayer. Is it true she doesn't have a Watcher?'

Willie laughed nervously 'Now what would I be doing standing here and talking about the Slayer? What, you think I wanna get pounded?'

Crowe chuckled. 'Fiery little minx, I hear. Can hold her own against the best of them.'

'Damn straight. She dusted the Master himself, you know. 'Course NOW she's out on her own. Booted those Council assholes right out of town. Good riddance, they were RUINING business.' confided Willie.

Crowe nodded. 'Yeah. So... No more Watchers around these parts then?'

Willie nodded back. 'Nah. Not if you don't count Rupert Giles.'

The dark-haired man stiffened almost imperceptibly. 'Rupert Giles?'

'Yeah!' whispered Willie in full gossip mode 'Used to be Buffy's Watcher before he got thrown off the Council. Pretty decent guy. Good singer, too. He's got a regular slot in the club on the next block. That damn Spike sold me a guitar last week turns out was Rup's! Spike had 'borrowed' it apparently. Rupert was none too pleased about it, I can tell you. Come to think of it, either was I! It cost me...'

Crowe got to his feet. 'Listen... Thanks, but I gotta go.' The man shoved a couple of bills across the bar. 'Here. For the excellent service.'

Willie pocketed the cash, looking around furtively to make sure he hadn't been seen taking money from this stranger. You never knew who was watching, and he didn't want that little blonde bitch coming into his bar and wrecking up the joint again.

'Sure. Don't be a stranger!' Willie chirped to an empty bar. The stranger had gone, as had the remainder of his customers.

'Sheeesh! Demons.' he muttered.

Spike moved quickly, not really knowing where it was that he was going until he got there.

Maybe a wander in the Cemetery.

What better place to think.

THINK? Oh fuck me, no, that's the Poof's way, that's His way, I'm not gonna think.

Gonna see if I can find me some poxy bloody demons to kill. Then. Beg, borrow or steal the biggest fuckin' bottle of Jack Daniels that I can carry and go back to the crypt and get pissed!

No good.

Crypt meant Harmony. Harmony meant annoyance. Annoyance meant distraction from drinking. Distraction from drinking meant sobriety and I sure as shit don't need to be sober.

Humph. Can't a fella just do his own thing without being staked, beaten up or nagged to bloody death?

Grumbling to himself softly, Spike didn't see the lone figure perched on the large tombstone until he was nearly on top of it. He pulled up short in surprise when he realised it was Xander.

Or was it? Bloody hell, he couldn't be arsed with another session with that fuckin' joy-bringer Crowe again tonight. After a few seconds of quiet observation, he noticed that the man on the tombstone was softly weeping.

Yup. It was the whelp, all right.

The vampire was dismayed to find that the sight of Xander so obviously unhappy upset him.

Spike stood, uncertain of what to do.

Oh Jesus soddin' Christ, what WAS this! I'm a fuckin' demon for crying out loud, what am I doing standing here all namby-pamby, pussy-footing around this boy when I should be off somewhere killing or fucking or drinking.

Mmmmm you know what it is. You wanna be killing or fucking or drinking WITH the whelp, don't ya Spike.

Telling his inner-voice to SHUT THE FUCK UP, Spike turned to leave. Best that the boy didn't see him. Best that he didn't...

'Spike? Is that you?' A red-eyed Xander stared at him blearily through his tears.


Oh bloody hell.

((Clears throat)) 'Xander. What brings you here, eh? Setting yourself up as an 'All You Can Eat' for demons now are we?' Spike prowled to the tombstone and leaned nonchalantly against it, lighting a cigarette. 'Care for a final smoke? Any last requests? Blindfold, perhaps?'

The boy chuckled weakly. 'Huh. I never thought I would see anything even slightly funny tonight. But here YOU are. And saying such amusing things!'

Spike smiled inwardly. Smart assed little runt. 'So. Demon girl fucked you over, then?' the vampire said quietly.

Xander studied him for a second, surprised that there was no follow-up jibe at his expense. 'How did you know? I haven't even told the Gang yet? Gods, is my delight SO obvious?' Fresh tears filled the boy's eyes, and he looked steadfastly at the ground.

Spike shuffled uncomfortably. He wasn't equipped to nursemaid weeping humans; especially weeping humans who, this time six months ago, would have staked him without so much as a by your leave.

But this was Xander. The only being who managed to temporarily wipe Dru and his damned Sire from his thoughts. The object of every sexual fantasy he'd had in weeks.

And he was vulnerable.

Spike was evil. Spike was self-centred, self-pitying, self-absorbed. Spike was horny as hell. But if there was one thing that tweaked whatever tiny shred of humanity that was left clinging to this human shell, it was vulnerability. Vulnerability to Spike was like an alcoholic's first drink of the day; it tasted like nectar, comforted, reassured and was badly needed in return.

Not to mention the fact that Xander WAS incredibly shaggable, and he was willing to bet that the boy wouldn't nag his arse off about porno mags and naked men while they were shagging.... Although, that might not be a BAD thing.

'Well if it's any consolation, you're not the only one who's suffering. Look at me for instance. Merrily fucking and feeding my way through my unlife, not a care in the world. Then I lose Angelus, I lose Dru, I get fucked over by those bleedin' soldier boys and now I'm neutered. Tell me Xan, what did I ever do to deserve all that, eh?' The vampire raged.

Xander raised his head slowly, his face incredulous. 'What did you ever do to deser... Spike, you murdered hundreds of innocent people...'

'Thousands pet.' Smirked the vampire.

Xander gasped in disgust. 'Huhhhh! OK I apologise, thousands of innocent people. You've killed two Slayers, you've TRIED to kill Buffy, I dunno.... How many times now?'

Spike pondered. 'Mmmmmm about six, I'd say. I've been off me game a bit lately...'

'Off your... Gods, Spike. There's a sorta pattern here; have you noticed? Killing, maiming, betrayal, treachery...'

Spike's eyebrows waggled. 'What, you think I'm treacherous? Awwww thanks Xan, that means a lot.'

Despite himself, Xander laughed out loud. OK. He was in a graveyard. Talking to a dead guy. A vampire. Who had systematically eaten his way through the general populace since..? I dunno, the fucking Dawn of Time or something. Talking to said dead guy about the ethics of said murdering and eating. A dead guy who expected Xander to feel sorry for him because now he could no longer eat and murder. Could my life GET any weirder?

Oh yes.

Xander had the feeling that it was gonna get a HELL of a lot weirder...

Especially now that there was a guy running towards them at full speed.

A guy who was being chased by three demons.

A guy who looked exactly like...'

'You know Xan, I didn't realise you saw me in that way. You know, all treacherous and sexy and ....'

Xander's head bobbed from the approaching mayhem to the blonde vampire. 'HEY! I never said sexy!'

Approaching mayhem arrived.

Spike turned to see what all the fuss was about and groaned inwardly. Bloody hell, it was that sod Crowe again. With a few friends. Damn, he was just making some headway with the boy, too...

The blonde vampire quickly pushed the boy into a hollow place behind the tombstone with instructions not to come out until Spike told him too.

Xander's disappeared behind the tombstone. 'I never said sexy!' he shouted after Spike, who had thrown himself into the midst of Crowe and his demon pals. The boy could hear the familiar noises of demon battle as he cowered behind his stone. Did he say sexy? Nope. Definitely DIDN'T say sexy. Although...

The boy closed his eyes and prayed for the madness to end.

Spike's snarls were less frequent now, which could only mean that the battle was nearly over. There was a soft whistle as it sailed through the air and then a wet-sounding PLOP as an unidentifiable piece of demon landed in Xander's lap and slowly squelched it's way down his leg and onto the cold ground where it lay all silver-grey and lumpy. Brain-like.

The boy whimpered, squeezed his eyes tight and struggled to think about something other than flying demon-brains. OK... I'm at home. Warm. In bed. This is only a dream, a nasty, vivid, horrible dream.

And I'm naked. Why am I naked? Who cares? Oh I know. I'm naked and in bed with my incredibly hot lover who loves me and thinks I'm sexy and doesn't DEMAND orgasms and never wants to leave me all alone and thinks I'm funny and smart and nummy; yeah a real nummy treat, that's me, all moist and delicious... he thinks I'm moist and delicious, well he must do 'cause his mouth is travelling down my chest, just stopping to tease the twin towers of Nipple City on the way and then down to Navel Grand Central and ohhhhhhhhh gods, he's at the subway... Spike's gonna board that train, baby!

Ohhhhh fuck! His mouth is so cool which is goooood 'cause my cock is so hot and hard and I've got my hands in his hair and he's on my train and sucking his way to Paradise and... Gods, his hair is so silky and soft, it's like a fluffy blonde cloud and now he's....

Eyes snap open.





I'm cowered behind a fucking tombstone in the middle of Sunnydale fucking Cemetery, covered in demon-brains in the middle of a fuckin' demon free-for-all, fantasising about a vampire sucking my...

AND I've got a hard-on the size of Washington.

In the words of Spike, Oh bloody soddin' hell.

'Xander. You all right back there?'

'Huh?' The boy was shaken from his daze by a cool hand shaking his shoulder. He opened his eyes and found himself tumbling into Spike's cerulean gaze.

Xander's cock twitched. 'Oh God...'

Spike stared at Xander, then at Xander's crotch, then at Xander again. He sniffed. He smirked. And then he reached out and gently stroked one cool thumb across the trembling boy's cheek.

Xander gasped and gulped hard. 'Spike...' he whispered hoarsely 'I...I...You...'

'C'mon nummy, let's get you out of here. Rescue first, talk later, ok?' The vampire stretched out his hand and helped the boy to his feet.

Xander straightened up and stretched then attempted to brush the remaining demon-brains from his trousers. He glanced around; trying not to stare TOO closely at the demon-bits platter currently displayed on the ground. Euuuch! Enough to put you off cold cuts for life! 'Where's your friend?' the boy murmured.

Spike frowned 'Friend?'

'Yeah. Friend. The one who looked a lot like me? What's that all about Spike? What's going on? Was it me from a parallel world again? Oh gods, not the vamp me? I don't wanna be eaten by myself... What am I sayin', I don't wanna be eaten at ALL!'

Spike leered. 'You sure about that Xan?'

The boy blushed.

The vampire touched his elbow gently. 'C'mon, let's get you inside. I gotta talk to the Watcher.'

The unlikely pair headed off toward the exit.

Spike mumbled something.

The boy stopped.

Xander's voice was loud and indignant in the still night air. 'No, I did NOT say you were sexy...!'

Spike chuckled, and walked on.

And Crowe watched them from the shadows.

'Don't put your feet on the table, Spike!' Giles snapped as he pushed his glasses nervously back up the bridge of his nose. 'Now. This is the letter from Angel is it not? Ahh yes... Good. He... He telephoned earlier to confirm that he'd sent it, although quite WHY he would send it to you, is totally beyond me!'

The ex-Watcher perused the expensive notepaper and it's elegant script before adding 'Urmmm... There would seem to be a page missing, Spike. Could I have it please?'

The vampire glared at him. 'No, you may not have it. It's personal, from my Sire to me. None of your damn business!' He glowered at Giles, and threw his feet up on the table defiantly.

Giles sighed and decided to ignore the gesture. Spike was quite clearly rattled by this whole business; whatever this 'business' actually was, and he had no wish to antagonise the vampire any further. Not that he was afraid of Spike, who was these days? But the blonde could be really bloody annoying, a fly in the ointment that Giles could quite well do without.

Angel's call had been cryptic, to say the least. He had informed Giles that Cordelia had one of her visions again, this time involving their friends in Sunnydale. However, there was no mention of Buffy, only Xander and, alarmingly, Spike.

Also, there was the matter of the letter's messenger. Why Spike? Why had Angel sent such an important letter with Spike? It was a well-known fact that Sire and Childe were not on amicable terms. But Angel was quite emphatic on the point of Spike delivering the letter. And how did Spike GET the letter? Obviously, Angel had sent the letter on with someone who had then delivered it into Spike's hands, but once again, why hadn't this messenger come straight to Giles?

Oh well. All things would no doubt become clearer with the passage of time. Time to concentrate on the letter itself; not become distracted by minor and piffling details.

Giles settled down and began to read. Then quickly got to his feet again.

'Oh dear.'

Spike raised an eyebrow. 'Something wrong Watcher?'

Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. 'Oh. Just the usual things, Spike. Death. Mayhem. Prophecy. Nothing to be overly concerned about.'

The vampire smiled. 'Oh, well. That's all right then, innit?'

The Watcher sighed heavily. Sometimes he really did believe that the rest of the world had gone insane, leaving him the only level headed sod in existence. Or perhaps it was the constant exposure to teenagers and vampires that had unnerved him so.

Xander frowned. 'Would now be a good time to tell you about the guy I saw in the Cemetery tonight who looked EXACTLY like...'

'CHARLTON HESTON!' Yelled Spike.

Two human heads swivelled simultaneously in the vampire's direction.

'Charlt...?' Squeaked the Watcher.

'Uhhhh... Yeah! Charlton Heston. There was this demon in the Cemetery tonight and I was just sayin' to Xan here how much he looked like Charlton Heston. That's all.'

Xander's eyes looked as though they might pop from their sockets at any moment. He fixed Spike with a questioning glare. 'Charlton. Heston?'

Spike glared back, then raised his eyebrows pointedly. 'Yes, Xan. Charlton. Heston.'

The boy was motionless for a moment, but Spike could nearly hear all the little wheels and cogs going around in the boy's brain. The penny's gonna drop; here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.... And KERRCHINGGG! Penny safely dispatched. The vampire attempted a smile. 'Charlton Heston? Remember Xan?'

Xander's face lit up. 'OH! OH! Yeah, I remember now. Wow! Quite an experience.' he gushed 'The resemblance was uncanny.' he added quickly.

Giles mouth opened and closed like a suffocating fish. He pointed at the pair, lips moving but making no sound. Finally, he spat out 'I... I'm NOT going to ask what you two were doing in the Cemetery at night, alone, together, because quite frankly, I don't think I want to know. God, are the two of you QUITE MAD? Charlt... What the bloody hell does Charton Heston have to do with ANY of this, ummmm?'

With that said, the Watcher threw his spectacles on the seat. 'I'm going now. To the kitchen. To make some tea. Do you think that maybe when I get back, we could start concentrating on the contents of this letter, and stop obsessing about Charlton bloody Heston?' Giles disappeared into the kitchen.

Xander turned to Spike. 'Charlton Heston! He didn't look ANYTHING like Charlton Heston, and you KNOW IT! Not unless... Oh God, Spike... You don't think that I actually LOOK like him do you? I see myself as a better looking Johnny Depp, or... I dunno, anybody other than...'

Spike chuckled. 'Relax Xan. You look just lovely, peaches. Now. The reason I said what I did was that I didn't want the Watcher to know anything about Cro... That guy. Look, I can't go into the details just yet, but I need you to trust me. Can you do that Xander?' The vampire reached out and gently touched the boy's hand.

Xander was still reeling from the 'You look just lovely, peaches' remark, and now the touch of the cool hand on his.

Somewhere, in the land of Xander's body, just below Navel Grand Central, things were a' stirring. 'OK Spike.' The boy managed to croak.

Their eyes met, and Spike felt a sudden sharp stab of desire in his groin. He moistened his lips and was rewarded with a small moan from Xander.



A fiery wave engulfed the vampire and he longed to draw the boy to him, to kiss him all over, longed to feel the hot, wet heat of Xander's tongue in his mouth.

Spike growled softly, and a tinge of gold sparked in his eyes. He stretched forward until his and Xander's noses were nearly touching. He could feel the heat radiating off the boy, heat and arousal.

Xander's breath was coming in short, hot little pants and tickling the vampire's face. 'Want me Spike?' the boy whispered.

Now it was Spike's turn to moan. 'Oh fuck, Xan...'

The vampire whimpered, and their lips met in a ghost of a kiss. Both men gasped, and Xander stroked the side of his nose against the vampire's smooth cheek, revelling in the silky coolness of Spike's skin. Their lips met in another fleeting, gentle kiss, and then vampire and boy stared at each other for what felt like forever.

Slowly their lips re-joined, softly at first, but then Xander parted his lips and Spike's tongue eagerly plunged into the liquid heat of the boy's mouth. Xander sucked the vampire's cool tongue, feeling it begin to warm against his. Their lips moved together sensuously and firmly, and now Xander 's tongue found it's way wetly past the vampire's thin lips and into the cool, damp cavern of his mouth, where it was eagerly captured, teased and sucked.

Both men moaned simultaneously, kissing frantically now.

Spike had moved and was straddling Xander now, where he sat on the couch. Their groins fitting perfectly together, and hard, aching cocks struggled to find delicious friction as the men undulated against each other.

The vampire broke the kiss gently, panting now himself. 'Xan. Is this what you really want? To be with me? You gotta be sure, pet. I won't be hurt again.'

Xander gazed into the blue depths of Spike's eyes. He could see himself mirrored there; flushed with desire; lust and longing screaming out from his own dark eyes. He could feel the vampire tremble a little on top of him, could feel his hard cock pressed against his. Had he inspired such lust? It thrilled him to think so.

As if reading the boy's mind, Spike took Xander's hand and pressed it firmly against his erection. 'Bloody hell Xan. You see what you do to me? I'm gonna die all over again if I can't have you pet.'

Xander's heart felt like it would burst wide open and spew out all the disappointment, all the rejection and pain he had suffered down through the years. Spew it all out, and make room for Spike. He cupped the vampire's face in his hands and looked him directly in the eyes. 'I'm sure Spike.' He whispered 'You're all I want.'

Their noses touched and rubbed together gently as the two men laughed softly and joyfully.

Then the door burst open.

Spike turned hurriedly and he found himself facing a surprised, but nevertheless angry Buffy, who was reaching inside her coat in search of a stake.

'Ahhhh...' The vampire drawled 'The Slayer has landed. Now maybe YOU can play bloody nursemaid. The whelp here has something in 'is eye. He's been boo hoo-ing about it forever. Will you just take a look, already?'

Buffy's eyes narrowed, and she eyed Spike suspiciously. 'Is that what you were doing just now? Looking in Xander's eye?'

Spike frowned. 'What the bloody hell do you THINK we were doing? Snogging?' The vampire snorted in amusement for effect, before facing Xander again and winking broadly. He slid off the boy's lap, and Xander noted with an inward smile that the vampire hurriedly put his duster back on and pulled it in front of his very obvious erection before heading towards the door.

'Spike!' Xander squeaked 'You're leaving?'

The vampire turned around. 'Yeah gotta get something to eat and pick up some fags. I'll call round to yours later. Leave in that video you wanted, OK?

Xander had his puzzled face on 'Video?'

Spike tutted 'Yeah, you know... That one with Charlton Heston in?'

The boy laughed, and blowing him a kiss from behind the Slayer's back, the vampire made off into the night.

'Now then!' Chirped the Watcher, freshly returned from the kitchen 'Let's hit the books.'

Four Hours Later


'Willow, what? Have you found something?'

The little redhead looked up from her laptop and nodded. 'OK...' She began 'Do you want the good news or the bad news?'

The Scooby's exchanged glances.

'The bad. That way? When we realise the dire direness of our situation we can then have the good news and feel allllll better!' Chirped Xander.

Willow frowned 'Xander.... You're awfully cheerful tonight. Anything we should know?'

The boy shook his head. 'Nope. Nothing special. OH! Except that I broke up with Anya. She's left town, never to darken my door again.'

'Xander!' Buffy squealed 'Why didn't you mention this before? Ohhhh you poor thing! Are you ok?'

'Humph!' Muttered Giles. 'He was perfectly fine when he and Spike were twittering on about Charlton Heston earlier on this evening! Couldn't get an OUNCE of sense out of either of them. The Gormless Twins, that's what they were like.'

Willow flapped her arms. 'Ahem! OK... Xander? I'm sorry to hear about Anya, and I'll be in Comforting Friend mode later on, and as for Charlton Heston... Well.... When you hear this you might wanna give him a call. Wasn't he God in one of those old movies? Anyhoo....' She passed a printout to Giles.

'Just as I feared. I had to be sure of my suspicions before alarming you all, of course. But now...'

Giles looked around at them all.

'Well, what we DO know is that Cordelia had a vision in which Xander and Spike seemed to play an important part. Also, she mentioned that Xander would be 'split in two'...'

Xander sat up 'WHAT? I mean, how? Why? What are my chances of survival, huh? Split in two... Oh this is SO not good.'

'Actually Xander, this most probably is in the metaphorical sense of the word, not the actual splitting of you into two pieces.'

'Oh. VERY comforting. NOT!' retorted the boy, and slumped back down into his seat.

'Anyway' continued the Watcher 'In the vision Cordelia saw Spike carrying a book with the inscription 'Soare Umblet'. Now Willow has been searching the Internet for any reference to this 'Soare Umblet' and it appears to be Romanian. It translates as Day Walking.'

The Slayer frowned. 'Day Walking? Day walking what?'

'Well that's the not-so-good news. A Day Walker is a demon, a very rare demon these days which... which is rather a good thing actually, because this demon is a vampire. A vampire that can walk in the daylight without fear of being harmed.'

'Well THAT would be about right!' grumbled Buffy 'Why is it that all of my problems seem to stem from vampires?' The Slayer paced nervously 'OK, so we've got Xander being split in two, Spike and a day walking vampire... Is anyone else getting deja vu at this point? And by the way, just where is His Blondness? I think Spike and I oughta have a little chat.'

Spike left the Watcher's house in a haze of happiness.

This was just unbelievable. After all this time and all the shit he'd been through, it seemed kinda fitting that things were finally starting to come together.

And talking of coming together....

The vampire had this little bit of business to attend to, after which he was going back to the boy's house and shaggin' him into the mattress. His cock began to harden at the thought of the boy lying in bed waiting for him. It had been a long time since Spike had bedded someone he actually liked. Harmony didn't count 'cause he despised her.

He made his way to Crawford Street. It was strange coming back here again knowing that Angelus and Dru weren't going to be there waiting for him. But that wasn't a bad thing. Spike had nothing but bad memories of the mansion; bad memories he now shoved firmly to the back of his mind. He had new fish to fry, and a new pet to love and take care of. Time to put the past, and his new pet, to bed.

But. Business first.

The vampire prowled silently up to the mansion and was vaguely surprised to find that the door was unlocked and his entry not blocked by some damn 'un-invite' spell. Not big on personal security, Crowe.

Letting himself in through the main door, Spike silently made his way through the mansion. Most of the furniture was hidden underneath dust covers, but a fire burned merrily on the hearth, and a few personal possessions lay scattered around on the floor and sofa. Silver rimmed dark glasses, large bottle of Sun block, packet of gum, cigarettes. The blonde helped himself to one and proceeded to wander through the remainder of the mansion.

Nothing much had changed since he had been here last. A multitude of feelings and memories swamped him, and deep inside his undead heart he sorely missed Angelus dark presence. Not to mention his princess. He wondered where Dru was and what (or who) she was doing. But now he had Xander to take away the pain and bring some sort of meaning back into his existence. He made his way to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door, hoping at best to find a few beers or a bottle of wine. The blonde's eyes narrowed when all he found was a tub of ice cream and a generous supply of blood.

Blood? What the fuck was this guy doing with a shit load of blood in his 'fridge?

Shrugging, Spike reached in and took the nearest blood bag. He was starving. All that excitement with his Xan pet had burned up his surplus energy. Looking around, he spied the microwave already plugged in and ready to go. He popped the blood-bag in and when it was heated to his satisfaction, he punctured the top with his teeth and drank deeply.

'Find what you were looking for Spike?'

The blonde flinched and turned, spilling blood down his chin. 'Bloody hell Crowe! You shouldn't sneak up on a person like that. Could be detrimental to your health and all that.' Then, his mouth opened and closed wordlessly when he realised that Crowe was glistening and wet. And naked.

Spike's eyes moved over the other man's body of their own accord, taking in the well-toned physique and smooth skin. Maybe it was because Crowe was Xander's double, but the vampire's groin tightened and he had to fight the urge to reach out and stroke Crowe's hardening nipples. In his mind Spike saw himself caress the tight bunch of muscles on the dark-haired man's abdomen, and licking the tiny droplets of water from the hollow of his navel.

Crowe smiled wolfishly. 'Like what you see Spike?' He trailed his hand lazily over his chest and down towards his navel, where his middle finger disappeared into the dip of his bellybutton and circled slowly.

Spike gulped as Crowe approached him. He stood perfectly still as the dark-haired man circled him slowly, inspecting every inch of him.

Crowe sighed. 'Beautiful. Just beautiful. I can see why Angel obsesses over you, boy. You really are a work of art. Such a pretty thing.' He reached out and his finger caught a large droplet of blood rolling down Spike's chin.

The blonde hissed and knocked away his hand. 'I'm taken. Keep your bloody hands to yourself.'

Crowe inhaled, then his eyes widened. 'The boy! I can smell him all over you. Have you bedded him then?'

Spike stepped back. 'What's it to you?' he growled 'And just who the fuck do you think you are anyway? I want some answers Crowe. And I want them now!' The blonde's face shimmered and his demon came to the fore.

Crowe astounded the vampire by laughing out loudly. Spike's yellow eyes glittered dangerously and he growled low in his throat.

Crowe stopped laughing abruptly and moved so that he was directly facing Spike. He stared hard into his face and then whispered. 'You really wanna know who I am?' His head dropped momentarily, and when he raised it again the blonde gasped.

'Holy fuck!'

Crowe grinned widely showing his fangs. 'How do you like me now?' Chuckling, Crowe wandered over towards the door and picked up a large towel resting on the arm of a chair. He wrapped it around his waist and turned towards Spike again. The blonde stared in amazement at the yellow eyes and vampiric ridges that now marred the man's features.

'Now hang on... How did you...? I mean, you can't be, I would've sensed you!' Spike stuttered in his confusion.

Crowe shrugged. 'A simple spell. A sort of cloaking spell actually. I didn't want anyone to know who or what I was. Not until it suited me.'

Spike ran his hands through his hair. 'Yeah, I knew there was something. That time in Willie's when I... And then there's the blood. DEAD giveaway. Never took you for a vamp, though. And what's with the dark glasses and...' The blonde lifted the plastic bottle from the floor '... Sun block. What's THAT all about? What the hell is a vampire doing with Sun block?'

Crowe stood silently for a moment, thoughtful. Then he answered 'Well; I'm a vampire. But not like you. I'm... A little different.'

Spike frowned, his face melting back to its human guise. 'Different? How so? You're a vamp. What have you got that I haven't got? Can you turn into a bat or some such?'

The dark-haired man laughed again. 'No. No bat tricks. But I CAN walk freely in the sunlight. Don't like it much and my skin tends to burn, but I can do it.'

The blonde shook his head in wonder. 'A Day walker? You're a Day walker?' Spike sat down heavily in the nearest chair. 'Bloody hell, I've heard of you lot. Always thought it was a stupid myth. I've been around for awhile you know, and I've never even MET anyone who has met one of you.'

Crowe snorted 'Yeah, well. There's a few good reasons for that. I'll tell you a story about...'

Both vampires' heads swivelled simultaneously towards the door, just in time to see the Slayer stride in, stake in hand.

'Mmmmmm. That's one story I wanna hear. Along with the one about 'What are you doing in Angel's place' and 'OH! Spike! Trying to have someone kill me again?' So. Lots of stories to tell. Who's gonna start? Or should I just stake you both now, spare myself the agony of having you both bore me to death?'

Crowe glanced at Spike. 'OK... I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and guess that THIS is the Slayer?'

Spike nodded. 'Yeah. Bane of my bloody unlife, mate. I'd kill the bitch if it weren't for... Well, circumstances beyond my control.'

The dark-haired vampire nodded back sympathetically. 'It's OK, Spike. I know the whole deal with the Initiative. Bastards, every last one of them.' Crowe turned to face Buffy.

'Well, well aren't YOU just the cutest thing. Old Angel has taste; I'll give him that! He sends his regards, by the way. He'd have come himself, except I THINK he's lost the taste for getting his balls broken.' Crowe smirked evilly. 'So. This is what brought down the Master. Humph. Funny, I thought you'd be bigger.'

Buffy fumed, knuckles white, fingers tightly gripping her stake. 'Spike? Just exactly WHO is this... ' She waved her arms at Crowe '... Whatever he is?'

Spike glared at her. 'Oh. So NOW it's all, 'Oh Spike, help me. Tell me what's going on?' Huh. Minute ago you were hurling accusations. I'm hurt now.' The blonde pouted for effect.

'I did NOT ask you to help me you... You bleached bimbo, now just tell me who he is! Mr Pointy here is getting impatient.'

Crowe walked towards the door. 'If you'll give me a minute to get dressed, I'll tell you myself.' He turned, loosening the towel. 'That is... Unless... You wanna get to know me a little better. I've never had a Slayer before.'

Buffy shuddered. 'Yeah. Well you're not gonna have one now, that's for sure. You be back in here in two minutes.' She glared at Spike 'Or Blondie here gets the sharp end of Mr Pointy.'

'HEY!' Spike squeaked indignantly.

The Slayer fixed Spike with her meanest glare. 'OK. Start talking. Who is he, what's he doing in Angel's house and why are YOU here with him?'

Spike tutted. 'He's the messenger brought the letter from Angel, is all.'

Buffy frowned. 'Why didn't he bring me the letter himself? What, didn't want to face the Slayer, is that it? Did he think I'd dust him?'

Crowe entered the room, fully dressed. 'Huh! Don't flatter yourself, Slayer. I wasn't avoiding you.'

'Who then? I'd like to hear this an' all!' grumbled Spike.

'Well, if you really must know, I was avoiding the Watcher.'

Buffy's eyebrows rose in surprise. 'Giles? You were avoiding Giles? Why, does he know you?'

Crowe lit a cigarette and threw the pack towards Spike who lit one for himself. 'Not exactly, no. I'm pretty sure we've never met. It's the Council. If they find out I'm here, you'll all be in danger.'

The Slayer stood in thought. 'Well... No one knows about you, other than Spike and myself...'

The dark-haired man cleared his throat. 'Actually, that's not strictly true. I was attacked by three demons last night, and I'm pretty certain they were working for the Council.'

Buffy snorted. 'No. No way. There is NO way demons are working for the Council, or with the Council. And I should know, what with all the stuff with Angel and...'

'Oh for fucks sake don't be so bloody naive!' Roared Spike. 'What, you think the Council doesn't use demons when it suits them? Bloody hell Slayer, what rock have YOU been hiding under?'

'Well, I know one thing for sure. I trust Giles.' The Slayer retorted 'And he's not a Watcher anymore, they fired him. OK, maybe the Council IS involved with demons, but what has that got to do with you? Yeah, you're a vampire but let's face it, vampires are ten-a-penny in Sunnydale. Why would the Council be interested in you?'

'Because he's a Day walker, you stupid bint!' Spike hissed.

Crowe growled. 'Shut up, Spike!'

'A what?' Asked Buffy. 'No. Wait. It's like what Angel wrote in the letter. Cordelia's vision? Come on Spike, you've read it. The 'Sunny Omelette' or whatever it w...'

'Soare Umblet.' Crowe tutted in annoyance.

'Whatever. Anyway, I think we should go see Giles. See what he makes of all this and...'

'NO! I'm not going anywhere NEAR a Watcher. I won't let them take me again!' Shouted an irate Crowe.

Buffy stared at him before answering 'Look. I don't know your story. All I know is that Angel sent you here with a letter. That letter spoke of a vision in which YOU play a starring role... Even if you WERE portrayed in it as a book carried by Spike, but the point is that as long as you help us I won't let anyone 'take' you anywhere. You have my word.'

Crowe sneered. 'Your word as what? A Slayer?'

Buffy smiled wryly 'A Slayer who no longer has any ties with the Council. Or? I can dust you here and now. Take my chances that I'm not gonna spark off an apocalypse or something. Whatever. You choose.'

Spike stood up. 'I'd take Door Number One if I were you, mate.' He said quietly.

Crowe sighed. 'Alright. But I won't forget you gave your word, Slayer. Let's go.'

The trio walked towards the door.

'And while you're at it...' Chirped Buffy 'You can start by explaining just why the hell you look exactly like Xander.'

'Good Lord!' Giles sat down heavily into a chair. 'A d'ampyr, here... In my house. Good Lord!'

'A damp what?' asked Buffy.

'D'ampyr. Thought by many to be just a myth they're demons; vampires who can walk in daylight without turning to dust. I'm quite overwhelmed, I must admit. This is a researchers dream.'

Crowe looked at the Watcher, incredulous. 'Oh, you're good. That was a first class performance, Watcher. Bravo.'

Giles removed his glasses and squinted at the dark-haired vampire. 'I beg your pardon?'

Crowe grunted. 'Yeah. And well you should. You and your Council cohorts murdered hundreds of my kind. Oh please. Don't pretend you don't know!'

All eyes were on the Watcher.

'I think you'd better explain exactly what you mean by that. I don't appreciate being called a liar in my own home.' Giles said in a low, slightly menacing voice.

'What's going on, Giles? What does he mean 'murdered'.' Asked Buffy.

'I'm afraid I have no idea, contrary to what Mr Crowe here believes. I can assure you I've never met ANY of your kind before, never mind murdered them.'

Crowe glanced at Spike. 'Well... Rupert here's normally a pretty straight bloke. If he says he doesn't know, then he probably doesn't.'

Giles eyes widened in surprise 'Thank you, Spike.'

The blonde smirked 'Oh, don't thank me. You'll pay me back in spades, don't worry.'

'Mmmmmm yes. I've no doubt I will.' Muttered the Watcher.

'OK. I think it's time you told us what gives with you and the Council, yes?' Buffy directed her question at Crowe.

The vampire cleared his throat and began.

'My mother wasn't married when she gave birth to me. She told everyone that my father was a foreign gentleman who courted her for awhile, until he had his way with her at any rate. Then he disappeared. She was carted off to the nuthouse when I was still barely able to walk, and my grandmother took me in.

Apparently mother was screaming when they took her away, claiming that my father was the Devil and would come to rescue her. It seems that she had taken to harming herself. I was told that when the doctors examined her she was covered in puncture wounds of some sort, no one really knew what or who had caused them.

They came for me when I was five years old. They told my Nan it was for my own good, that I was the spawn of the Devil and was really a monster in human form. Terrified the old dear. She died six months later.

They told me that I was special, that I had been touched by evil and if I wasn't properly trained that I would become a devil myself.

Huh! I was a child; I didn't know any better. Hell, I didn't know any other life. I was alone to begin with, but through time they allowed me to mix with the others. Some of them were older than me, others around the same age but we all had the same thing in common; we all came from mothers who had 'consorted with Satan'.'

Giles sat forward 'I'm sorry to interrupt, but who exactly are 'they'?'

'The Council.'

Giles gasped 'What? You're telling me that the Council of Watchers virtually kidnapped you when you were barely more than an infant, told you that you were the spawn of Satan and kept you with them for... How long?'

'Twenty eight years give or take.'

'Whoa.... Wait just. One. Minute. Twenty-eight years? But you don't even LOOK twenty eight!' Squeaked Buffy.

Spike sighed 'He's a vampire. Oh Christ, where the hell do they find you Slayers? The Planet of Bimbos?'

'AH! But if he's a vampire, how come he can walk in the daytime, huh? Answer that Professor!'

Crowe chuckled. 'You're both right. Sort of. The point is that I'm human, but with a demon residing alongside my soul. As long as I retain my soul I can keep the demon under control. If the soul is lost, I Turn completely and become like Spike... Without the chip.'

Xander groaned 'OK; I'm confused here. So you're a vampire. With a soul, like Angel. What does the Council want with you? Why take you away from your home when you're so young and keep you for all that time? If you're a vampire, why not just dust you?'

Spike grinned proudly 'That's a great question pet. Well done!'

Xander smiled back, blushing.

Giles noticed, with surprise and a certain amount of alarm, the warm glances the two exchanged. No, it wasn't possible. Surely not. Xander and Spike hated each other, didn't they? When he glanced at the pair again he noticed just how closely together they sat on the couch; the blonde vampires thigh resting with familiarity right alongside Xander's and the boy seemed to be actually leaning against the vampire. Ummmmm... Perhaps he'd better have a quiet word with Xander later, make sure that Spike wasn't... Taking advantage. The Watcher struggled to focus on Crowe.

'It's simple. Because I'm a vampire I can sense and hunt other demons. I'm as strong as they are but I'm not limited to night time hours. I can track them down during the day and then take them out.'

Spike's face hardened and a yellow tinge sparked in his eyes. 'Take them out?'

Crowe didn't look at him. 'Yes. You see the Council trains us to hunt and kill our own kind. Plus any other demons that doesn't tow the Council line. Only problem is that after awhile, after so much killing the soul becomes tainted. Eventually, if we spill enough blood with evil intentions, we Turn.'

'You bastard!' Spike hissed 'If I'd known that earlier, you'd have been dust!'

Crowe stood up. 'Oh, it's all SO easy to be judgemental, isn't it Spike? Don't forget we're trained to do this; brainwashed and trained from the time we are old enough to understand. We didn't have a fucking choice, we were prisoners! It was kill or be killed. When I finally understood what it was that we were doing, I escaped. Ever since that time I've been running from them, 'cause make no mistake if they find me I'm dust.'

'Oh dear God.' Giles sat slumped, head in hands 'I swear to you that I wasn't aware of ANY of this.' He raised his head 'I'm so sorry, I had no idea the Council was involved in anything so... So vile.'

Crowe was silent.

'What happens then. When you Turn, I mean?' Spike asked.

'They kill you.'

The blonde growled softly, and Giles lips tightened as he watched Xander gently stroke the agitated vampire's thigh. Spike muttered something and Xander whispered in his ear. Whatever it was that he said brought a slow smile to Spike's lips and Giles expression softened somewhat when he saw, with renewed surprise, the warmth in the vampire's eyes as he gazed adoringly at the boy.

'OK, so you're a vampire with a soul. Are you immortal?' asked Buffy.

'No. But our lifespan is a lot longer than if we were fully human; plus we age an awful lot slower. We only become immortal if we Turn.'

Xander cleared his throat. 'Well... As usual, you're all missing a vital part of the plot here people.' He fixed Crowe with a penetrating stare before continuing. 'Why. Does THIS guy. Look. Like. Me. Ummmm?'

Crowe blinked, then replied 'Because we are brothers.'

'Brothers. I hate to break this to ya bud, but I haven't GOT any brothers. Especially not any of the evil, undead, bloodsucking kind.'

Crowe smiled. 'Not in that sense. We are blood brothers; we share the same bloodline, only with a couple of generations between us. You are the only male to be borne to our line since myself. Fact is, that in ninety percent of cases a d'ampyr is almost always a male, and the Council believe that in certain cases the bloodline can be carried by the females for generations before it re-emerges in the next borne male. Which would be you.'

Xander's brow furrowed in concentration. 'OK. So what you're saying is that I'm related to you. You're my blood relative. Uh huh! Well answer me this my toothsome great, great grandfather's brother or what ever the hell you are. Which side of the roost am I from, huh? The crazy, deranged mother side, or the 'creature of the night' connection? What, am I suddenly gonna wake up one night with a chronic case of fang-face and an irresistible craving for bluuuuud?'

Spike giggled, and was quickly nudged in the ribs by his pet. 'Sorry Xan, but... Fang-face?'

Buffy's eyebrows nearly hit the roof. 'OK, somebody pinch me because I'm, like, turning into Surreal Girl here. I'm in Giles house, it's four in the morning and I'm chatting with a damp... Damp... Whatever the heck you are, who just HAPPENS to be an exact double of my best friend, who has ensured that we are all most likely gonna be hunted down by a very pissed off Watcher's Council. Oh! And did I mention? William the Bloody, Childe of Angelus the Scourge, is also here and he's giggling. I didn't even know Spike COULD giggle.'

Spike threw the Slayer an amused look. 'Oh, there's LOT'S of things you don't know about me Slayer. Isn't that right Xan?'

Giles cringed and Xander blushed like a schoolgirl.

'In answer to your question, you are directly descended from my mothers side. From a female child she bore whilst in the Asylum. It may interest you to know, that my mother was convinced that my father visited her there at night.' smirked Crowe.

'Eeeeek!' Squeaked Xander, and sank further into the chair.

Spike chuckled again. 'Hey Harris, no more vampire-bashing for you...COUSIN!'

Xander groaned.

'Don't knock it pet. It puts you another step up the evolutionary ladder. Makes you just that little bit better than those pure-bred humans.' Smirked Spike. The smirk faded from his face pretty quickly when he realised that Xander wasn't smiling along with him. The blonde nudged him, his face concerned. 'Xander? You all right?'

The boy looked up, brown eyes shinning. 'Spike. I'm scared.' He whispered.

'Don't be.' Murmured Spike 'I'll never let anyone or anything hurt you, Xan.'

Buffy's mouth fell open. 'Oh God. Now I KNOW I'm dreaming.' She turned to Crowe. 'OK, so what's the real deal here. Why is Xander in danger?'

Crowe snorted. 'Fuck, Slayer. I would have thought that would be pretty obvious. The boy looks exactly like me, plus he's a direct descendant of my bloodline. The fact that up until now he has shown no signs of housing a demon will be of no consequence to those the Council will send. I'm a hunted fugitive. It's taken them years to track me down, but track me down they did. They'll send everything they've got. Humans, demons, necromancers... They want me in the worst way, and the boy will probably get caught in the crossfire.'

Buffy was now on her feet and pacing nervously. 'I just don't understand. How do you know Angel? Where you just CONVENIENTLY sitting in his office when Cordy had her vision?'

'No. I've been searching for Xander for a long time. Ever since the Council became aware of the existence of male blood kin. They don't have his name yet, or his location. Although now that Council assassins have followed me here, I fear they might now have everything they need. I went to Angel for help in tracking the boy down. It was as much a surprise to him when we realised it was Xander, I can tell you.'

'Just one thing Crowe. You haven't told us why the Council is so keen to get their hands on you.' Said Spike quietly. The vampire's instincts were screaming. There was something more, something Crowe wasn't telling them; but he would be damned all over again before he let any harm come to his pet. And as for Crowe? Spike decided that he would rip the fucker's lungs out if he so much as sneezed in the boy's direction.

'I know all their dirty little secrets, isn't that enough? The Council are funded by some very powerful people who are gonna be mega-pissed if the slightest hint of scandal touches them. Things were ropey enough after the incident with the rogue Slayer. How's it gonna look if it gets out that they were kidnapping and brainwashing little children. Doing it and getting away with it for decades.'

Spike said nothing. Nope. Not the right answer, he just KNEW it. But he decided to bide his time; see where this was going. One thing he did know was that he was gonna swallow his pride and get in touch with his Sire. Maybe Angel could add something more to the mix. Beside him, Xander yawned loudly.

Giles rose from his seat and scratched his head. 'I don't think there's anything else we can achieve tonight. I... I suggest we all get a good nights sleep. Well, what's left of it anyway. Xander? Someone will have to be with you at all times, so I think it's best you stay...'

'With me. He'll stay with me. No bugger'll come within a hundred yards of you while I'm there. OK pet?' Spike pulled Xander to his feet, studiously ignoring the icy glare he received from the Watcher. The vampire had been aware of the older man's scrutiny and thought he could take a pretty good guess at what Giles was thinking right now. Well, TOUGH SHIT! His pet was coming home with him. Or at least he would be going to Xander's place with him. He didn't think Harm would be too thrilled at Spike bringing his new cuddle-toy into their bed. But Spike had decided that he wasn't letting the boy out of his sight for more than a minute at a time.

'That's a good idea Spike. I'll get in touch with Willow and Tara in the morning; get them up to speed. In the meantime? Guys? Please be careful.' The Slayer put on her jacket.

Crowe turned at the door. 'I'll be at the mansion if you need me. Xander... Just try to lay low. I'm sure Spike's gonna take REAL good care of you.' With a smirk, he was gone.

Buffy turned to face the others. 'Does anyone else really dislike that guy?'

Spike and Xander walked along together in silence.

This wasn't exactly the way that the vampire had planned the night to go. Sheesh! Less than a day into their relationship and already things had become complicated and weird.

Spike was getting more concerned by the minute about how things were starting to pan out. His gut told him that while Crowe wasn't lying he was certainly keeping something important from them. There were a few things that he had said that just didn't fit. Why had Crowe mentioned that Xander hadn't shown any signs YET of housing a demon? OK, the boy was a direct descendant of the D'ampyr and had been the only male borne since Crowe himself, but did that really mean there was a chance Xander was tainted?

'Penny for 'em.' Xander murmured softly, his voice sounding clear and loud in the stillness of night.

Spike grunted.

The boy stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and faced the blonde. 'OK. Spill. Something's bothering you, I know it. Is it me? I... I mean is it us? That kiss, it was... Well it was incredible and I don't regre...'

Wordlessly, Spike pulled Xander towards him and kissed him hard on the lips, his tongue gently probing and seeking entry to the warm wetness of the boy's mouth. Oh God... Xander's mouth was so hot! The heat of the boy's body and the wave of fiery lust that swept through the vampire made him feel as though he would burst into flames at any second. He pressed himself eagerly against the boy, revelling in his firm body and feeling with a delirious kind of joy, the boy's hardness press against his.

Xander relaxed in the vampire's grip and gave himself up to the kiss, his mouth and tongue working frantically against Spike's in a frenzy of need and scorching desire. He felt his trousers tighten uncomfortably at the groin as his now rigid cock strained to rub itself against the blonde's own hard member. The boy moaned, his hands lost in the silky pelt of the vampire.

Spike broke the kiss gently. 'Gotta have you pet. Gotta have you soon' he hissed, nuzzling Xander's neck and suckling on his earlobe.

Xander made an unintelligible squeak and took Spike's hand, pulling him swiftly in the direction of his new apartment. Gotta get this guy home or I 'm gonna fuck him right here on the sidewalk the boy thought. Gods, he only has to touch me and I wanna come right there on the spot.

Finally they made it. Xander fumbled with the key and suddenly the door flew open, spilling the kissing, groping duo into the apartment and nearly onto the floor. With a growl, Spike lifted a surprised Xander in his arms and kicked the door shut. 'Bedroom... Where?'

Xander pointed towards the back of the apartment, unable to do anything more than grunt.

Spike strode purposefully into the room, kicked the door shut behind him and threw the boy onto the bed. Xander lay, breathless, and watched as the blonde slowly peeled off his clothes. Ohhhhhh godssssss.... Xander had never seen Spike naked, and the blonde man's beauty took his breath away. His body was perfectly sculpted; pale, smooth and muscled. The boy's eyes followed the sleek lines of the vampire's body until they arrived at the hard column of flesh jutting proudly from the vampire's loins. Xander swallowed hard and felt his body tremble with anticipation and a small dash of fear.

Spike slid his lean body onto the bed and helped Xander undress. He could feel lust and trepidation coming from the boy in waves and so he was gentle, trying to convey without words that he wouldn't hurt the boy, only make him cry out with pleasure.

Naked now, and slick with sweat their bodies writhed on the bed in a jumble of limbs and tongues and hard, aching cocks. Xander's breathy sighs seem to hang in the stillness of the air, complimented by the soft snarls and growls of his lover.

Spike's mouth moved slowly over the boy's body, nibbling and sucking hard, pert nipples and then sliding down to his navel to the center of the boy's desire. Xander's eyes bulged as he felt the first, teasing licks of the vampire's cool tongue lathe along the length of his pulsing member, and the smooth hands cup the hot orbs below, kneading gently.

Suddenly it felt like Xander's cock was enveloped in a cool envelope of silk, and the boy moaned as the vampire began to suck him firmly, his tongue teasing the smooth, bulbous tip and dipping into the small, sensitive slit at it's peak. Xander's eyes fluttered shut and one hand gripped the bed sheets tightly while the other lost itself in Spike's hair and encouraged the blonde to take his cock even deeper into his mouth. Spike's pace was slow and steady, teasing the boy almost to the point of tears, and he smiled around the hard length as he heard his pet pant and moan his name loudly begging him for more.

Letting Xander's cock slide gently from his mouth; Spike made his way up the bed towards the boy, eager to move onto the next stage of their lovemaking. Truth was, the vampire was so aroused that he could hardly stand it anymore. The boy was so gorgeous, so warm, and so eager to please. Spike felt Xander 's hand tentively reach down and stroke his aching cock and he smiled inwardly, proud that the boy was taking the initiative even though he was a little frightened. The vampire knew that Xander had never been with a man before and that he was going to have to be the 'catcher'. Normally the only person he would allow to fuck him would be his Sire; but he ached to have Xander inside him and was content for the boy to take him.

Spike pulled Xander on top of him and slid the boy's fingers into his mouth. 'Gotta get them nice and wet, pet' he whispered, and then after a few moments he took the boy's hand and showed him what to do with the warm, slick digits.

Xander gasped as he felt his finger slide into the impossibly tight, cool channel and he wondered briefly if his cock would even fit in there. Following the blonde's excited and gasped instructions, he slid his finger, followed swiftly by a second in and out of the vampire, crooking it slightly inside him and feeling his own cock twitch each time the blonde cried out.

Spike writhed frantically beneath him. 'Xan...' He moaned breathlessly 'Xan, now. Please... Put your cock in me now.'

Trembling, Xande positioned himself and slowly started to push himself into the blonde. It was hard going; he was so excited he thought he would come before he even got inside Spike, and the vampire was so TIGHT it was hard to gain entry. Suddenly with a grunt he was there, and he cried out as he felt himself slide smoothly inside Spike.

For a moment neither of them moved, and the world seemed to stop as they gazed into each other's eyes. But then Spike started to move beneath him, thrusting upwards and impaling himself on Xander's cock, moaning the boy's name over and over; his face shimmering as the change took him and the demon growled his pleasure and lust.

Xander thrust into the vampire in return, red spots clouding his vision as his head spun with sensation and he could hear and feel his heart pounding like a drum. Everything seemed to speed up; their flesh slapping wetly, breath gasped and moaned, the atmosphere primal and charged with lust as he pounded into Spike again and again, vaguely aware that someone was screaming his name. And then he heard himself cry out, calling Spike's name over and over as Spike begged him not to stop.


With a roar from the vampire and the sharp sting of fangs as they pierced the soft flesh of his shoulder, Xander climaxed; his body rutting and thrusting; hot tears streaming down his cheeks. He could hear the liquid sounds of the vampire as he sucked and slurped the thick blood welling from his shoulder. Xander's head was filled with white light, white heat and he screamed his passion into the symphony of sounds and growls issuing from Spike as he fed.

Suddenly the vampire stiffened, and Xander felt the cool burst of the vampire's seed spurt out over his belly and chest. Spike lifted his head and howled, small droplets of blood splattering onto the boy's face, and despite himself Xander's tongue snaked out in search of them. The vampire blinked owlishly and then sunk his fangs into his own arm and offered it to the boy who sucked eagerly. After a few moments, Spike reluctantly drew his arm from the boy's mouth. 'No more pet' he whispered, and kissed Xander gently on the nose.

Xander sighed contentedly and drawing the boy into his arms Spike gently kissed his forehead and they fell asleep almost immediately.

It seemed like only a moment later that there was a pounding at the door. Spike struggled to waken, feeling Xander slide from the bed, grumbling at whomever it was that disturbed their slumber.

Suddenly Spike's senses screamed a warning and he threw himself from the bed and ran into the hall. 'Xander! Don't open the door!'

He watched as if in slow motion as Xander turned towards him, and the door swung slowly open. The vampire roared and reached out towards his pet as a dark figure stepped over the threshold and raised it's arms aloft, words of power dripping from it's tongue.

There was a high-pitched whine and a supernova exploded behind his eyes as Spike sank to the floor.

Then nothing.


Not a hindrance to a vampire because they can see perfectly in the dark.... If their fucking head isn't in the process of exploding, of course.

Spike groaned and grabbed his aching skull. What the FUCK had he been drinking last night? It was when he caught a whiff of the scent; the BOY'S scent off his hands that he realised things weren't just as cut and dried as a hangover. Scrambling into a sitting position, he was vaguely surprised to find that he was in bed. Somehow, he had expected a dungeon, manacles, an oubliette, something nasty.

The vampire sat up and looked around. Ahhh he WAS in a dungeon.

Here was the confusing part.

He was in the Mansion on Crawford Street. He could smell it's distinctive scent; essence of vampires both past and present filled his nostrils along with the scent of the Slayer and his pet. But this was definitely a dungeon and the last time that Spike had been here, there had been no dungeon. Which meant that SOMEONE had been making themselves busy for awhile setting this whole thing up. And he was willing to bet it wasn't his Sire.

Of course, Spike now knew that someone was Crowe. The blonde berated himself that all his suspicions had been correct and he hadn't done anything to protect himself and his pet. Speaking of which...

He was even more surprised to find the boy lying alongside him, still unconscious. After a quick inspection which satisfied him that Xander was just asleep and uninjured, Spike settled down for a good hard think.

He knew that some of what Crowe had told them had been true. Yeah, he was a Day walker. Yeah, Xander probably was a direct descendant. But all that stuff about the Council wanting to hurt Xander? Spike wasn't so sure about that. He had seen and fought the demons who had attacked Crowe in the Cemetery and had no reason to believe that they hadn't been sent by the Council, but in retrospect they had probably been sent to neutralise Crowe and then leave, not to hurt the boy. By the looks of things, the only person who wanted to harm the boy in any way was Crowe himself. But why?

Not a comforting notion, given the power of the necromancer Crowe had sent to disable and capture them both.

Sliding out of bed carefully so as not to disturb his sleeping pet, Spike inspected the room. He grunted to himself as he spotted the blood-markings above the dungeons only exit. Obviously a holding spell had been put in place; and the vampire wasn't overly keen to find out what would happen if he broke the seal.

It looked like there was nothing else to do but sit and wait. Crowe would show himself when he was good and ready. In the meantime, the blonde crawled back into bed and spooned his body around his pet, frantically trying to figure out how the fuck he was gonna get them both out of this bloody mess in one piece.

Rupert Giles was troubled.

OK, it had been quite an eventful evening and there had been a lot to peruse and analyse, not least the obvious bond between Xander and Spike. The only thing that reassured the Watcher was the fact that the boy seemed to be a more than willing participant in whatever it was that existed between himself and the vampire. Still Spike was a demon, and Giles could only see trouble and heartache coming out of any relationship between the unlikely pair.

What bothered him most was this business with the Council.

Oh of course Rupert knew how unscrupulous they were; after all, he had been on the receiving end of their dirty tricks more than once himself. But this business of them wanting to hurt Xander. He found it highly improbable.

He also found it highly improbable that the Council would be unaware of any hint of an occult or magical connection to the boy. They always had been well aware of the Slayer's associates and their respective powers and/or relationships. The only reason they had allowed Oz to remain in her circle was that he, Giles, had assured them time and time again of the boy's efforts to lock himself away whenever the Change took hold, and also of his competent and freely offered help in past dire circumstances. No. It was highly unlikely that there could be something as important in Xander's past that the Council didn't already know about.

And so, Giles decided to telephone an old friend; someone who was still a Council member, but would not be adverse to helping an ex-colleague in need. Having made the call, he was very glad that he did.

Glad, but horrified.

Quickly gathering the books that he needed, Giles settled down at his table to try and dismantle this puzzle once and for all. From what his friend had told him, time had very nearly ran out.

Crowe had been truthful on a number of respects.

The Council was indeed hunting him. Giles friend was loathe to go into any details of the Councils activities regarding Day walkers and their forced imprisonment and training, however he did confirm that Crowe had been in their employ for quite a number of years, but was now a loose canon.

It appeared that there was an ancient Romanian text called 'Carte de Interminabil Vars're de S'ngo', or the 'Book of Eternal Bloodshed' which was in effect a vampire 'bible' of sorts. It contained many prophecies; not least of which was the overthrow of the Master by a young Slayer, who was herself bound in some manner to a dark power.

The Council had this text in its possession for many years; only three copies were believed to be in existence, and they jealously guarded theirs. As far as the Council was concerned, the less that the vampire Clans knew of the ancient prophesies concerning their people the better. The Council had employees who had been trained from a young age to translate the prophecies and watch for portents and signs that something from it's ancient pages was about to occur.

Quite how Crowe had gotten his hands on these prophesies wasn't explained to the Watcher, but get them he had; and had spent the last five years translating and fitting together the pieces of prophecies, and hunting down those believed to be the catalysts.

The Council had no plans to harm Xander. They had been aware for quite some time of his connection to the prophecies and had been watching events carefully. They hadn't believed Crowe would ever be able to track the boy down. Angel's involvement in this affair was purely conincidental and he knew nothing of Crowe's true motives.

The Watcher sighed. He had seen too many prophecies come about by the innocent intervention of others; had seen just as many others fail because of the same reason. Perhaps the Powers That Be had intervened? But whether it was to fulfill the prophesy or prevent it, Giles had no way of knowing. He hoped for the latter.

Giles read quickly through his notes once more, checking that he had the details correct. Time to bring in the Slayer. With a trembling hand, the Watcher lifted the 'phone and dialled.

'So what exactly do these prophecies say?' Buffy asked as she paced nervously up and down the Watcher's lounge.

'Well, as I've told you they come from the Book of Eternal Bloodshed. They're very vague really; I'm not sure just how much of the prophecy actually applies to Xander at this moment in time. Basically, the book states that there will be a coming of the 'Moarte de Zilei' which roughly translates as the End of Days...'

Buffy snorted. 'Oh. Doesn't sound the LEAST bit familiar. We've never faced that before.'

Giles twiddled with his spectacles nervously. 'Yes, quite. Anyway it goes on to tell of the 'Frate de Lumina Zilei Umblet Imbratisa' or the 'Brother of the Daylight Walking Embraced.' In other words..'

'Yup, I get it. Our friend, Crowe.' Muttered Buffy.

'Very good, Buffy! Now. The 'profetie' or prophecies speak of this Brother being the 'Iubit de Fara Sange Persoana Care' or the 'Beloved Of The Bloodless Biter'.'

Buffy's face crinkled 'Nah! Got me there Giles. I can't say I know any bloodless biters.' The blonde Slayer paused, and then her face brightened. 'OH! Except for... OH. MY. GOD! ' The Slayer's face returned to it's previously puzzled expression. ' No, wait a minute, beloved? I wouldn't go as far to say that Xander is Spike's beloved.'

Giles blushed. 'Well... Actually, I've reason to believe that he might be just that.'

Buffy gasped 'You can't be serious! Xander? And Spike? No way. There is definitely no way. Is there? C'mon, if you know something I think you'd better...'

Giles ran his hands through his hair in agitation. 'Look Buffy, suffice to say that I have reason to believe that Xander and... And Spike are more than just... Friends. Much as it pains me to say it. But that being the case it 's just another part of the prophecy that's come into fruition.'

The Slayer slumped into the nearest chair with a weary sigh. 'Oh God can this day GET any weirder? I mean...'

She was interrupted by the noisy arrival of a breathless Willow, closely followed by her blonde lover. 'OK, I went to Xander's. The door was open and there was no sign of him or Spike. I checked the crypt? Harmony hasn't seen him since she threw him out. I don't think you wanna know what for. Let's just say that Spike and Xander may be more than just...'

Buffy waved her arms 'Oh; we're WAY ahead of you on that one, Wills.' She turned to face Giles again, her expression worried . 'God, Giles. Where the hell else would they be? The wouldn't have gone back to the Mansion, certainly not alone. Would they?'

Giles nodded. 'I really don't know, Buffy. This is quite a worrying development. The best thing we can do right now is look at the remainder of the prophecy and try to work out how best to combat whatever it is that's coming next. Agreed?'

Spike sensed him long before the door swung open and he made his grand entrance. Xander had awakened not long previously and although he had a monster headache and was terribly confused he was none the worse for wear.

Spike couldn't help himself and growled softly as Crowe entered the room and made himself comfortable in one of the chairs that decorated the corners of the dungeon. The blonde felt Xander tremble slightly beside him and laid a comforting arm on his thigh.

Crowe stared at them both, smirking. 'You make quite the couple I must say. One blonde and beautiful, the other dark, delicious and totally innocent as to the power he possesses. If things were different I would bed you both right now. But we have business to attend to first. Later? We'll discuss who does who.'

Xander had to restrain a furious Spike from leaping from the bed and attacking the dark-haired man. 'OK. You've had your big entrance; you've informed us of your sexual preferences of which we are TOTALLY not interested. Now what?'

Crowe chuckled. 'Oh you are a brave one, little brother. Will you be so brave when you know what the Fates have in store for you, ummmm?'

Spike snarled 'Why don't you just cut the bullshit and tell us what you have in mind. My pet and I have better things to do than listen to you twittering on about sod all.'

Crowe's smirk slipped just a fraction. 'Oh Spike, I would have thought that you of all people would have understood just what it is that I'm trying to bring about here.'

The blonde vampire sneered 'And what exactly is that?'

'The End of Days. For humankind as we know it.' Crowe got to his feet, pacing up and down as he spoke. 'Imagine it, Spike. Every vampire that exists in the future will be able to walk freely in the Daylight. No bursting into flames, no hiding in the darkness. The freedom to walk where we choose, when we choose. No more persecution from beings lower than ourselves. WE would be masters of our own destinies, not the humans. This was our world first, they came along later and took it from us. We could rule once more.'

The blonde vampire snorted. 'Oh fuck, not this old chestnut again! If I had a quid for every time some NUTCASE said he could do this, I'd be fuckin' rich. I don't know what the fuck YOU'RE worried about. You can already walk in the sun. It's poor sods like me that should be doing all the worrying.'

Crowe hissed in annoyance. 'But you see that's the point, you stupid bastard. I can walk in the sun only because I'm still human. If I follow my true nature and Turn, I'm condemned to endless night. Oh yeah, I can walk along the fucking beach if I want to, can tiptoe through the daisies with my sweetie if I want to, but if I hunt and feed like I want to, I become like you. A prisoner of the night. Do you understand?'

Spike was silent. He understood all too well. After all, he had been willing to commit the sin of all sins and kill his Sire, just so that he could have the Gem of Amarra, just so he could walk in the sun.

Sighing, the blonde glared at Crowe. 'OK. I understand what you're on about. But just where does my pet come into this? You know I won't let you hurt him.'

Xander moved ever closer to his lover. He had a bad feeling about this.

Crowe laughed. 'That's the beauty of it Spike. You don't have to hurt him. You just have to Turn him.'

Xander stiffened. 'Spike?' He whimpered, brown eyes frantically searching those of his lover.

Spike frowned. 'Turn him? Oh yeah, that's a laugh. In case you didn't know Einstein, I can't bite humans. Initiative saw to that. And anyway. Why would I wanna turn my pet? I like him just the way he is.'

Crowe smiled wryly. 'It's all in the prophecies, Spike. Really at the end of the day you're powerless to do anything else but comply. You've already set the ball rolling by fucking the boy. If you hadn't taken him as yours, none of this would make any difference. But you're a creature of instinct, my friend. You followed the urges within yourself, as did he, and now... Now you are both ready to face your destinies.'

'And what might those be?' Spike asked quietly.

'We will be joined. Xander and myself. His beloved will Turn him, as it is written in the prophecy, and I will join with him. Our beings will merge and because of this merger I will be both vampire and Day walker. I will raise an army of the undead and defeat humankind once and for all. The Clans will all support me, a pure vampire who can walk in the day. From then all my Childe will be Day walkers and a new age will dawn. My blood will be carried from generation to generation and one day, all will walk in the light.'

'Nice plan. But where exactly does that leave my pet? What will happen to him?' Barked Spike.

'He will Turn. Then when the soul is gone and the ritual is complete my body must die, but my essence will live again in him and he will carry my blood. He will still be Xander, but I will live on in him. He will be father to the next generation of vampire.

I, Spike, am the Chosen One. I am destined to be the greatest ruler that the Clans have ever known. And you? Obey me, and you can reign by my side as my consort. You'll still have your 'pet', just a new and improved version, that's all.'

Spike frowned. 'Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, but I can't bite him that way. I can only bite when he wants it, when we're....'

Crowe sighed. 'Yes, there is nothing I can do about that. Do what comes naturally then, fuck the boy and feed.'

Xander stiffened. 'Hey! Don't I get any say in this? What if I don't want to be turned, what if I don't want...'

Crowe snarled 'Oh its gone way beyond what YOU want boy. You have a simple choice, brother. Allow your mate to turn you, become my vessel. Otherwise? I'll stake Blondie here and have one of my minions turn you. I'm being incredibly generous here, people! I'm giving you the choice of being together for ever.'

'But what about the prophecy? You said I had to be Turned by my beloved.' Xander said in a small voice.

The dark-haired vampire tutted. 'No. The prophecy states that my brother will be the beloved of the bloodless biter. As long as you've mated, the prophecy will be fulfilled whoever Turns you. It cannot be me. I must perform the transference ritual while you Turn.'

Spike turned to the boy 'Doesn't seem like we have much choice, luv.'

A strangled sob escaped Xander and Spike grimaced. 'Xander, pet... I... I dunno what to do here. If I don't do it, then some other bastard will have his way with you and you'll be turned anyhow.' A solitary, crystal tear slid slowly down Spike's cheek and with a trembling hand he cupped the boy's chin tenderly. 'Tell me what to do pet? Tell me what to do?'

Xander gazed into his lover's eyes. Spike was right, there was no choice. The boy knew he should be brave, he should ask Spike to drain him until he died but he didn't want to die. He wasn't ready to die yet. Maybe being Turned wouldn't be so bad; at least he would still be around in one sense. And he would be with Spike.

When the boy answered, it was with resolve. 'Do it' he whispered 'Just. Do it.'

Spike's eyes closed momentarily. He bent forward until their foreheads met, and then he kissed the boy hard on the lips. 'Love you.' He whispered. 'Love you, Xan'. Then he gathered the trembling boy in his arms and rocked him gently, stroking his dark, silky hair while Xander's chest hitched with frightened sobs.

Crowe's lips widened in a feral smile. 'Excellent. The ritual will begin in an hour.' Then he turned and left the pair alone.

The Scooby Gang worked frantically. Willow and Giles were hunting through the Internet, Tara was hunched over an old manuscript and Buffy, in the absence of anything else to do, prepared weapons.

Things had gone from mildly interesting, to bad, to 'oh bloody hell' in a manner of a few hours. Giles and Willow worked out the translation of the prophecy piece by piece, some of it so vague as to be totally useless to them. Other parts were cryptically alarming, one piece in particular.

'I don't understand. As far as I was led to believe, Angel's part in this was purely coincidental.' Giles polished his spectacles furiously for the umpteenth time.

Willow sighed. 'I don't understand it myself, but it's right here. The Consiliu Pe Care Episcopie, the Council Who Watches, will be brought to it's knees by the Doese Bit Unu, the Special or Chosen One who is the Copil de Sangeros Inger, the...'

'Child of the Bloody Angel' finished Giles.

'How can this be?' Gasped Buffy. 'We know Angel had Penn, and Dru and Spike, but he's never talked about Crowe.'

Giles smiled wryly 'Ahh, perhaps because he doesn't know. Penn, Drusilla and William were Angelus Childe. Crowe isn't technically a Childe; he was born of a human female and is... For want of a better phrase, a half-breed. There's no reason why Angelus would even have known of the child's existence. I believe if he had, the child would have been taken by him. One thing is for certain; Crowe is a lot older than we were led to believe. Unfortunately, my 'friend' at the Council wasn't forthcoming with his information on Crowe; he told me barely anything of use.'

Buffy scratched her head, frowning. 'But are we sure this Crowe is... Are we sure that Angel is...Oh God.'

Giles was already reaching for the telephone. 'There's only one way to find out.'

'Uhhhh guys? I... I think you'd better hear this.' Tara got to her feet and looked around at them nervously. 'I've just translated this last piece and... And it's not looking good.'

Giles sat down the telephone receiver. 'Does it tell us anymore about Angel's role in all this?'

Tara nodded 'No. It's... It's all to do with the ritual, the 'Imbinare' or Joining. It says here 'Doese Bit Unu Conji de Frate Uman, Imbratisa de Fara Sange Persoana Care, Imbinare'. Then, they become 'Copropietar' of the vessel and.... 'Episcopie Moarte de Zilei' I think.

'Which means?' Giles barked.

'Ummm sorry... It roughly translates as 'the Chosen One and his human brother, the embraced of the bloodless biter, join and become joint owners of the vessel, or body. Then they will see in the End of Days. The final piece was very difficult but says uhhh... 'Nemuritor Imbratisa Figurant de Soare'... Immortal Embraced walk on in the Day... Moarte de Uman.... Let's see, ummm... OH!

'Oh what?'

'Ummm... Death of Humankind.'

Giles lifted the 'phone.

It seemed as though Crowe had been gone only moments, when the dungeon door swung ominously open and the dark-haired vampire returned with his minions, who carried a silver sacrificial blade and a small bowl of foul smelling herbs.

Xander cowered against his blonde lover, whose eyes were already tinged with gold and who growled menacingly at the approaching figures.

Crowe laughed harshly 'Getting into the spirit of things already, eh William? How fitting.'

Spike snarled 'I told you before, don't call me that! You don't have the right!'

'Oh don't I? We are of the same blood you and I. Does that not give me the right? Brother?'

Xander and Spike exchanged glances. 'OK. I'm getting confused now; who are you talking to? I thought I was your brother?' the boy asked.

The dark haired vampire chuckled. 'Oh you are. You are indeed, Xander. We three have a lot in common, more than you could ever imagine. We three share a common bond.'

'And what exactly would that be?' growled Spike.

'We three are technically brothers. You, Spike, have bedded your sibling. Oh well! Incest is, as they say, a game for all the family to play. And when I take you, my blonde beauty, I will be also be taking my brother.'

'Oh for fuck's sake, what is this Crowe? More mind games? Why don't you stop being Cryptic Guy and cut to the chase?' Snapped Xander.

Crowe was thoughtful for a moment. 'Alright. We have a few moments before the ritual begins. In short, my mother was visited by a vampire. He didn't kill her, she was his consort, although given his reputation it's a miracle she survived at all. Perhaps she was taken from him too quickly, although she always maintained that he visited her in the Asylum. It took me many years to discover the identity of my father. The Council kept records taken from the old Asylum where she spent the remainder of her life and apparently she called for him repeatedly to come for her on her deathbed.'

'Yeah. Wonderful story, and your point?' Hissed Spike.

'My point, brother, is that his name was documented in those records. His name, the name of my father was Angelus.'

Xander gasped and Spike closed his eyes, his face creased with pain.

'I've searched for years to piece this all together. Shortly after my mother was incarcerated, Angelus disappeared; no one knew where he was. But we know now. Living in filth, feeding from rats and bemoaning his fate.'

'Angelus. Oh fuck, Angelus.' Whispered the blonde covering his face with his hands.

'No time for that now. It is time. The ritual must begin. Now. Will you take the lad first? Give us all a show? Or is he willing enough for you to Turn him now.'

Spike couldn't look at the boy. Inside he didn't want to do this. He loved Xander; he never wanted to hurt him, never wanted him to change. But change he most certainly would if he were Turned. Anger swelled in his chest, and his face shimmered and changed on it's own.

As if reading his thoughts, Xander reached out and cupped the blonde's chin in his hand. 'Spike. Look at me. I know you don't want to do this, I know you would never hurt me, but we have no choice.' Spike remained silent. The boy turned to Crowe, his face full of fury. 'Tell you one thing, though. I'm not putting on any damn floorshow for this fucking freak. Let's just do it.'

The boy felt Spike tremble beside him, whether it was in anticipation or grief he wasn't sure. Maybe both. He put his arms around the vampire and spoke softly in his ear. 'I love you Spike. I'll always love you. Now. Just. Do it!'

Spike's mouth searched for his and they kissed, long, deep, bittersweet. The vampire could hear the soft chants of Crowe and his minions in the corner of the room and the scent of burning herbs assaulted his nostrils and made his eyes water. Or was that tears?

Despite himself, the boy felt himself harden under his lover's embrace and he pressed his body against Spike, breaking the kiss and softly murmuring endearments against the vampire's cool cheek. He felt the ridges on Spike's forehead scrape gently against his cheek and travel slowly towards his neck, and his embrace tightened. He knew he couldn't cry out and he inwardly braced himself for the pain. Oh gods... He was so scared.

Then it came. Spike being as loving, as gentle as he could, let his sharp fangs slip into the soft skin in the hollow of the boy's neck. He felt Xander stiffen and marvelled at the bravery of his pet; he didn't once flinch or cry out and Spike's tears fell faster as his dead heart ached for his Xander. The chip buzzed warningly in his brain, and for a moment his mouth was still.

But the blood lust washed over him in a fiery wave, and he heard himself moan as he sucked the life's blood from Xander, hearing the boy's heartbeat get slower and slower, feeling him grow limp in his arms as he drank on and on.

Finally, when he knew that Xander was on the very brink of death, he slid his fangs from the boy and bit deeply into his own forearm, forcing the bloody wound over the boy's partially opened mouth.

'Xander, drink. Drink luv, drink deep and come back to me.' The vampire sighed in relief when he felt the boy suck weakly.

The shadow in the room deepened rapidly and the chanting from Crowe and his minions became louder and more frantic. Spike could feel the magical power charge the air and he was aware that his hair was prickling fiercely at the roots. The boy' heartbeat was faint now, and the vampire knew that in a moment he would be gone. Spike closed his eyes, and felt his arm slip slowly from Xander's lips. 'Xander...' He whispered hoarsely.

Suddenly, a soft waft of icy air blew across Spike's face. Inside his head it seemed like he could hear the faint echo of a voice whispering his name over and over. The voice seemed to wander around and then swell inside his brain. With a start, the blonde realised who it belonged to. 'Red?' He whispered 'Help us... Help us!'

When the telephone call came, Angel wasn't overly surprised. He had been waiting on news from Sunnydale, although this certainly wasn't the news he had been expecting. He listened with growing horror to a nearly frantic Giles, and was currently searching his memory for anything, any hint of a memory from all those years ago.

There was a tiny wisp. A faded image of a dark-haired beauty, one of many who held his attention for a week or two, but very little else. Angelus had many lovers over the course of the years, most of whom he turned or killed shortly into the relationship. He supposed Crowe's mother escaped only because he had regained his soul soon after and had gone into hiding.

Had he visited this woman in the Asylum? He supposed he had. Angelus had a fascination with mental illness, although usually because he was it's cause. He had no reason to believe that Angelus hadn't driven the poor creature to distraction.

And now once again because of something Angelus had done, his friends were in danger. Not only his friends, but also his favoured Childe William. Angel could feel the demon struggle and rage within him at the thought of someone touching what was his.

The guilt was almost overwhelming, settling like a dark cloud over his senses. He tried to focus on what the Watcher was saying, tried to ignore the fear in Giles voice as he described exactly what it was that would happen to Xander.

Angel sighed heavily. God knows he'd inflicted enough damage on this man already, murdering his beloved Jenny and torturing him when Angelus was...


Giles voice floated disembodied down the telephone line. 'What? What did you say?'

((Jenny. Of course!))

Hope soared in Angel's undead heart and he answered the Watcher, urgency heavy in his voice. 'Rupert. Listen to me very carefully, there isn't much time...'

Spike threw his head back and roared as his lover died in his arms. Almost instantaneously he heard a choking, gurgling cry and turned in time to see one of the minions slit Crowe's throat.

There was a deafening roar and Spike cringed as he thought his eardrums would explode. The blonde watched the blood spurt from Crowe's throat as the dark-haired vampire sank to the floor, crimson splatters drenching the minions as the source of his life drained from his body.

Spike glanced down at his lover. Xander was deathly pale, cyanosis evident around the mouth and nose and his body was already beginning to go cold. Spike pulled the boy closer to him, cuddling and rocking him like a baby and crooning to him 'I'm sorry... Luv you, pet... Luv you.'

The minions lifted the corpse of what had been their master and left the pair alone once more.

How long Spike sat there, he was unsure. He held his pet, lost in a haze of memories. He remembered his own Turning and how he had awoken to a dark, New World, Angelus and the Hunger his only instincts. It thrilled him in a strange sort of way that his pet would now be like him, immortal and powerful. But down deep inside he mourned Xander, the boy he had come to love. Spike knew that when the boy awoke he would no longer be the person that he had fallen for. And, of course, Crowe would be in there.

Had to face facts.

Spike's Xander was gone.


They had to hurry.

After Giles call to Angel the Scooby's jumped into action, fired by fear for their friends and the hope that something could be done to halt the prophecy. When the Watcher explained exactly what it was that Angel had suggested, Willow gasped.

'Oh Goddess! Why didn't I think of that? But we have to be sure. Have to be sure that Xander's...' The red head couldn't bring herself to say the word. She glanced at her lover and reached for her hand. 'I think I know a way.'

The preparations were completed, and the two witches sat inside a small circle of power. Willow was deep in a trance, bathed in sweat, the strain of the powerful magic showing on her face. She and Tara had cast a spell to allow the redhead to locate Xander and Spike. It was a form of remote viewing and would hopefully allow them to see whether or not the pair was alive or dead.

Breathing heavily, Willow was in the throes of magic. Eyes tight shut, her head moved from side to side and she fought to make a connection. Fear lay in the pit of her belly; she couldn't sense Xander at all. Her mind seemed to stretch inside her brain and small bolts of pain ripped their way through her skull. Vaguely, she felt a small rivulet of blood drip from her nose and knew that she must stop soon.

Just as she was about to pull away in despair, she felt something.

Fear and... Grief. Gut wrenching grief.

Reaching out with her consciousness she felt an oppressive cold and a malevolence that frightened her but in the midst she could see them. Xander lay in Spike's arms, pale and still and she saw tears glitter on the vampire's cheeks. Her worst fears were realised. If Xander weren't dead already, he would be soon. Sadly, the little witch took in the sight of her friend with bloody fang marks on his neck. Suddenly Spike looked up. Goddess! He whispered her name, he FELT her!

'Red? Help us... Help us!'

Willow cried out and the connection was broken. Exhausted, she fell into her lover's arms, tears flooding from her eyes. 'It's... It's too late. I saw Spike... With Xander, he was holding Xander and his throat... He's gone Buffy. He's... Gone...'

'I'll stake that bleached bastard, I swear. If it's the last thing I do, I'll... ' Raged the Slayer.

Willow grabbed her arm. 'Buffy no! Spike, he was... He was weeping. Cradling Xander like a baby and weeping. I could FEEL him Buffy and he was.... Grieving.'

Giles reached over and took the Slayer's hand. Her shoulders shook as she sobbed quietly.

'Alright. The worst has happened and now we must move quickly. There will be plenty of time later for... For thinking about Xander. Right now? We must salvage what we can from this. It's imperative we follow the plan, it' s our only hope.' Giles said quietly. He looked around at the trio. 'Please. We must do it, and do it now. Tara? Are you ready?'

The blonde witch relinquished her hold on Willow and nodded. 'I'll get my supplies.'

'Willow? Are you all right?' The Watcher said gently.

Wiping the blood from her nose, the little witch smiled weakly 'I'll be ok, just tired and... ' Her eyes filled with tears again.

Giles gathered her in an embrace and patted her back. 'I know... I know.' He whispered. 'We've all got to be brave now, Willow. Whatever happens we must make this work. For all our sakes.'

Tara entered the circle once more, her supplies in hand. She looked around at the little group, then sat down, her pretty face resolved. 'I'm ready. Let's... Let's do this!'

The room was in darkness once more, the candles having burned away. Two shapes lay huddled on the bed, one asleep the other being reborn.

Eyes snapped open and with a gasp, Xander sat up in the bed. He looked around him confused, and then his gaze fell on the figure sleeping beside him and his lips spread in a feral, fang filled grin.

He slid from the bed and stretched, yawning theatrically. Smacking his lips he looked around the room in search of something to eat. Finding nothing, he turned his attention to the figure on the bed. Slowly, he slid alongside the sleeping Spike and gently caressed him, moving his hands in slow, lazy circles over the blonde's torso and down to his groin, where they kneaded and squeezed.

Spike moaned and stirred. Fuck, he was having the most wonderful dream. He was in bed with Xander and the boy was stroking him to hardness and sucking his earlobes. Smiling, the blonde reached out for his lover and gathered him into his arms.

His pleasure turned to shock as he realised the body in his arms was cold. This wasn't his Xan! His Xan was warm and cuddly and...


His Xan was dead.

Fully awake now, Spike pushed the man from his arms and sat up. 'Get your fucking hands off me!' He hissed, glaring into Xander's face. One look into those eyes told him Xander was no longer in residence.

Crowe stared out at him from beyond the boy's brown eyes. He smirked. 'What, so shy lover? Come to me Spike, I'll make you forget the whelp with one fuck.'

The blonde snarled, lips curling back from his teeth. 'Just stay the fuck away from me, Crowe. I don't want you near me.'

The smirk slipped off the dark-haired vampire's face. 'Is that so? Mmmmmm. You know, in normal circumstances I would have to do exactly as you say, you being my Sire and all. But these aren't normal circumstances and pretty soon? I'm gonna be King of the fuckin' World, so you shut. The. Fuck. Up. Get your skinny ass over here. And let me fuck you. Or. I could let the minions have their way with you. Shame though, it would be SUCH a waste...'

Crowe trailed his finger over Spike's cheek, down towards his thin lips. He sighed. 'Ohhhh so pretty. It's gonna be such fun to break you.'

The blonde lay rigid as Crowe undressed him and pulled him onto his belly and up on his knees. The dark-haired vampire laughed harshly. 'Gonna take you like a dog, Spike. 'Cause that's what you're gonna be. My little doggy. My little bitch.' With a grunt, he thrust himself into the blonde roughly, no preparation or lube, groaning when Spike yelped in pain. He pounded into the smaller man, revelling in his obvious agony; aware of the blood starting to drip down the blonde's thighs but impressed that after the initial yelp, Spike remained silent.

Biting back tears of rage and pain, Spike grimly tried to support himself as the larger man rode him hard. This was worse than anything Angelus had ever done to him, because this was his lover, his pet hurting him, tearing into him. Except it wasn't Xander, he told himself. Xander was gone and would never hold him and love him again. Instead, he was left with this... This fuckin' parody of his pet, this evil, cold bastard who didn't give a fuck if he was around or not.

The irony wasn't lost on him.

But he couldn't hold back the cry of pain when Crowe savaged his throat, bit deeply and sucked hard searching for cool blood below the skin. When he had drunk his fill, Crowe lifted himself off the smaller man and fell back onto the bed with a contented sigh. He chuckled, darkly. 'Mmm mmm mmm! What a tight little ass you've got, Spike. I just know you and I are gonna be an item for a long, long time. Now. Come here, boy. Drink.'

Silently, Spike struggled to his knees and took Crowe's outstretched, bleeding arm between his lips. He sucked hard, taking as much as he could. He was weak and needed sustenance. Crowe was powerful, his blood was powerful and Spike could taste that power with every gulp he took.

Finally, Crowe pushed him away. 'That's enough. Now. Sleep. Tomorrow we have things to do and plans to make. What was it you said to me once? Oh yeah. Things to do, people to kill. Well, I'm gonna begin by going for a little walk. Go visit the Slayer, see how she likes the new me! I've got this unexplainable hankering for blondes right now. Yup! Tomorrow, Spike, is the dawning of a new age. Tomorrow is our new beginning.' He turned away from Spike and was silent.

The blonde lay rigidly beside his new master. His body ached where the bastard had violated him, but he didn't feel it. All he could feel was emptiness and loss and all he wanted was Xander.... And this fucker's innards strewn in every fuckin' corner of this room.

Once again, the witches sat within the circle of power. This time, Tara was in control and the lead spell-caster. Willow sat quietly beside her, haggard and drawn but resolved to see this thing through to its conclusion. The redhead waited for Tara to begin, flinching slightly when the blonde nodded to her to begin burning the herbs and incense.

Tara began 'Quod perditum est, invenietur.' She spoke slowly and clearly, holding aloft a large crystal orb.

Giles repeated after her 'What is lost, return.'

The witch continued 'Not dead... nor not of the living. Spirits of the interregnum, I call. Gods, bind him. Cast his heart from the evil realm. Te implor, Doamne, nu ignora aceasta rugaminte.'

'I implore you, Lord, do not ignore this request.' The Watcher said quietly.

'Nici mort, nici al fiintei...'

'Neither dead, nor of the living...'

'Lasa orbita sa fie vasul care-i va transporta, sufletul la el.'

'Let this Orb be the vessel that will carry his soul to him.'

'Asa sa fie! Asa sa fie! Acum!'

'So it shall be! So it shall be! Now!'



The Orb glowed brightly in Tara's hands for a brief second and then dimmed into darkness. The blonde slumped forward, the crystal rolling from her hands.

Willow gathered the girl in her arms and embraced her, gently flicking the hair from her face and inspecting her with concern.

Tara laughed weakly. 'I'm... I'm all right. Wow, that was... That was really something! Do you think it worked?'

Spike cowered on the floor by the door. He didn't know what the fuck was going on, but he wanted to be as far away from Crowe as he could.

The dark-haired vampire writhed and screamed on the bed, his bellows of pain and rage echoing around the walls of the dungeon. A light spray of blood blasted from his lips when he screamed. He was in game face and his fangs had sliced through his own lips. On and on he screamed until Spike thought the walls would tumble in. The blonde put his hands over his head, grimacing.

Then Crowe stopped.


Spike sat rigidly, peeking from behind his fingers like a little child, trying to see what was going on with the other vampire.

Silence. Then what sounded like a choked sob?

'Spike?' A small voice wafted on the air, just loud enough for the blonde to hear. Dropping his hands, Spike slowly stood up. The dark-haired vampire sat huddled on the bed, brown eyes full of fear. The eyes found his and the boy held out his arms.

'Spike? What's going on, what's happening?'

'Xander?' The blonde walked slowly towards the bed. Could this be another trick?

As he got closer, Spike could see a silver trail of tears from the boy's eyes leading down his cheeks. Barely able to speak, he stood beside the bed staring, hardly able to believe his eyes. Yes. It was definitely his pet.

Xander was back.

With a strangled sob, the blonde threw himself into the boy's arms and hugged him tightly, drawing back to stare into his face with wonder, speaking his name softly over and over again as he stroked his cheek. 'Xander, it's really you. It's really you!'

Angel had arrived in Sunnydale as soon as possible after the phone call. Trepidation squirmed in the pit of his stomach as he'd slowly walked up the path to Giles home. He knocked on the door and was greeted by a subdued and pale Buffy. The vampire sat quietly as the blonde Slayer brought him up to speed with the recent events. Tara was still recovering from the effects of the spellcasting while the others gathered themselves for an assault on the Mansion.

In the end, it was simple. Most of the minions had fled after they heard Crowe scream; none of them knew or cared what was going on in the dungeon. All they knew was that there were two Master vampires within, one of which sounded horrendously pissed off.

The Scooby's more or less just strolled in to find Spike and Xander huddled together on the bed in the dungeon. Buffy approached the pair gingerly, surveying the scene. Xander looked like... Well, like Xander. But the Slayer's senses flared and her eyes filled with tears. He was a vampire all right, but he looked... Strange.

Spike was just Spike, no big change there. He looked up at the Slayer, eyes shinning. 'He's back! Xan's back!'

Xander looked at him quizzically. 'Back? Why do you keep saying that? I haven't BEEN anywhere. And what the hell are we doing in Dracula's castle? Is this a joke? OK. Spill, you guys! What's the deal?' The boy's brow creased and his hand drifted to his mouth. 'Damn, it's cold in here, and... Owww! What the HELL is wrong with my teeth?'

Suddenly, Spike stiffened beside him. The blonde turned slowly and found himself gazing into the face of his Sire. The two stared at each other for a moment, and then Angel broke the silence.

'Hello, Spike.'

The blonde got to his feet, his face hardening. 'Well, well, well, if it isn't dear old dad! Have you ANY idea? Any idea at ALL of the trouble you've caused? Huh?'

Angel stood silent and impassive.

Spike walked towards him, stopping directly in front of him. He sniffed nonchalantly. 'Got any fags then?' He asked.

Angel smiled and reached into his pockets, producing a packet of cigarettes and a silver lighter.

Spike chuckled with glee and snatched them from him, lighting one up and puffing deeply. 'Ahhhhh bloody hell, that's the stuff!' He looked at Angel for a moment and then added 'Well. You come all the way from LA just to bring me ciggies? Or was there something else?'

Angel grinned. 'Well, someone had to come and save your sorry ass, boy.'

Spike grunted. 'Huh! Was your bloody fault we got in this scrape in the first...'

The pair continued to argue as the Scooby's gathered around Xander, hesitant at first. When they realised he wasn't going to vamp out they surrounded him, hugging him tightly as the boy squirmed, complaining that he didn't know what the heck was going on, but wished someone would tell him.

Having hugged him, Buffy turned to Giles, her expression grave. 'It worked. He's a vampire but we've restored his soul.' She sighed deeply. 'Oh Giles, I don't whether to laugh or cry! What's gonna happen now? And where is Crowe, is he still in there somewhere?'

Giles rubbed her arm comfortingly. 'Only time will tell Buffy. Xander's going to have a lot of adjusting to do. But first, he'll have to be told.'

Xander bounced up to them happily. 'Told? Told what?'


Spike stood silently in the shadows, watching.

His pet sat on top of a large tombstone; the same tombstone he'd hidden behind once while Spike and Crowe fought off the Council's demon assassins.

'I know you're there, you may as well come on out.' The dark-haired boy said quietly.

Spike slid from the shadows and joined Xander, leaning against the tombstone, cigarette in mouth. He sniffed. 'You ok?'

Xander turned towards him. 'Well... If you mean am I OK about the whole 'being a bloodsucking fiend of the night' thing, then no. Not yet.' The boy laid a comforting arm on his lover's arm. 'But I will be. It's just... Strange. But at least I've got my soul, that's something.'

The pair stood silently for a moment.

'He's still in here, you know.' Xander whispered his voice trembling.

Spike put his arm around the boy and squeezed him wordlessly.

The boy took a deep breath that he didn't really need before continuing. 'That's why I've decided to go to LA.' Xander felt the blonde tense up and he leaned into his lover, trying to reassure him. 'Angel knows a LOT about this stuff. Well, he should, shouldn't he?'

'What and I don't?' Barked Spike.

'Well... You don't actually have a soul now do you?'

The blonde grunted.

'Look. This is all new to me Spike, I... I've never been dead before. That's difficult enough to get a handle on. And then there's... Him. I can feel him Spike, squirming inside me, whispering to me.'

The blonde's eyebrows shot up. 'You can actually hear the bastard? Well, tell him from me that he's a wanker. Hope he's happy all trapped and useless in there, the fucker!'

Xander pulled back and looked into Spike's face. 'He... I... He hurt you, didn't he?'

Silence. Then 'It wasn't you luv, I know that.'

Xander grimaced. 'I'm only starting to remember bits and pieces now. It's all hazy and stuff. I remember his rage, though.' Pause. 'And I remember how he wanted you.'

'It's OK Xan, it's all over now pet. We just gotta...'

'But don't you see? It's not all over, it's never gonna be all over! Not as long as he's in here with me!' Xander struck his chest, making the blonde vampire flinch. 'He's strong, Spike. I'm scared he'll get out again, I'm scared I won't be able to hold on to my soul. That's why I gotta go back with Angel.'

The boy searched his lover's face. 'You understand, don't you? Me and Angel, we're gonna try and figure out a way to get rid of Crowe, send him to Hell... I dunno. I just want him gone.'

There was a rustle beside them and Spike turned to see Angel making his way towards him. The blonde tutted, trying to quell the emotions that boiled inside him. 'Oh yeah. Here comes Soul Boy all ready to take someone ELSE away from me. You're making quite a habit of this Peaches, you know that?'

Xander glanced from Angel to Spike anxiously 'Spike... I...?' He started.

'Go on back Xander. We'll be with you shortly. It's alright, it'll be OK.' Angel said quietly.

With another anxious look at Spike, Xander made off, head bowed, in the direction of home.

The two vampires glared at each other.

'I hope you're fuckin' pleased with yourself mate!' Spike hissed. 'What is it with you Angel? You can't bear to see me happy? You don't want me, but you sure as fuck don't want anyone else to have me. Why don't you just stay out of my bloody unlife, I don't need you anyway, I've never needed you.' He lit another cigarette, pale hands trembling.

'It's not about us Spike. It's not about what we want or need; it's about Xander. He needs a lot of help right now, some you can give, and some you can't. Would you rather I left him to fend for himself? How long do you think he would last, ummm? How long do you think it would be until Crowe broke free?'

The blonde was silent, furiously puffing on his rapidly disappearing cigarette.

'Come with him.' The words spoken so quietly Spike nearly didn't hear them. He looked up at Angel quickly, surprise all over his features. 'To LA? You'd let me come with you to LA?'

'Spike...' Angel walked slowly towards him until they were face to face, only a breath between them. 'William... My beautiful William... ' He reached out and gently stroked Spike's cheek, his eyes closed as he relished the first loving touch he'd given his Childe in years.

The blonde gasped, and despite himself his hand crept up until it covered his Sire's. His eyes closed and the men leant forward until their foreheads touched, gently rubbing noses.

Angel sighed deeply. 'I want you to be happy. I love you my Childe, I'll always love you.' A moment's silence hung in the air between them. The dark-haired vampire placed a whisper of a kiss on Spike's lips, then he whispered 'Come to LA.' before drawing back and walking slowly away.

With a shuddering sigh Spike opened his eyes. He yelped as the cigarette burnt his fingers and threw the smouldering butt to one side. For a moment he watched Angel walk away; then he grinned widely and started to follow him.

'I'll not work for free, ya know!' He shouted after his Sire. 'I'll expect the same dosh as the Prom Queen!'

Spike hurried, trying to catch up with Angel 'Oi! Peaches wait up! I'll need to borrow some money! Gonna need some new threads if I'm going to the big city!'

Angel rolled his eyes 'Bloody Childe.' He muttered, and walked on.

The End

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The Spander Files