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Rating: NC-17

Warnings: This is S1 Btvs so Xander is only sixteen. There is a small amount of sexual activity, which will contain a very small amount of semi-non con and also a teeny tiny reference to past full non-con. This is NOT a darkfic.

Summary: One week after Xander is possessed by the spirit of the Hyena, he starts to suffer a setback.

A/N: Remember this is early S1 so the Scooby gang are NOT aware that Angel is a vampire.

A huge thanks to [info]kitty_poker1 for the great beta and for coming through for me as I ran out of time!!! And thanks to her and her other half for late-night help with the title when my brain died.



Leaders of the Pack


by
Suki Blue







Part One



Mortified, Xander stood in the middle of the room and stared at Angel. He slowly closed his eyes and brought his hands up to cover his face and hide…his embarrassment? His shame? Fear? Idiocy? Lunacy? The utter inability to act like a normal person and not like a total loser? Take your pick.

“Xander…”

“Don’t,” Xander snapped. “Just…leave it.”

Angel wasn’t good with words. Well, maybe he was, but words were important, sacred, and there weren’t too many people that Angel was comfortable sharing them with. Xander fell into that category.

“Just…I’m sorry, okay? I’m gonna go now. Back home. And…you won’t say anything, right? Please don’t tell.” Xander’s hands had dropped again and instead of mortification his face shone with sadness.

“I won’t tell.”

“Good. I’ll go, then.”

Angel watched as a not-quite-awake Xander turned in a three hundred and sixty degree circle until he worked out where the door was.

“Sorry. Again.” With sleep filled eyes and hair sticking up in all directions, Xander exited into the morning sun.

“Goodbye,” Angel whispered.





The weekend was a blur, a great big fat blur that Xander just wanted to end. And boy, things must be bad to wish for the end of a weekend. But the two whole days of freedom just seemed to drag on without annoying teachers and his chatterbox friends to keep his mind occupied.

Xander had been grounded. The first time that he’d gone AWOL overnight, a week ago, his parents had let it go with a firm warning not to do it again. Xander had been tempted to argue that if it wasn’t for the fact that he had been possessed by the spirit of a hyena he would never had done it. But that sort of talk only led to a stay in the crazy crib.

So, when Xander had stayed out all night again, his mother had blown a fuse and shouted loudly enough to deafen the neighbours. His father had given him a clip around the ear and grounded him for the rest of the weekend. Again, he’d wanted to argue that it hadn’t been his fault, but he wasn’t sure that even Giles would believe him, never mind his ignorant parents.

The hyena was back. At least it had been Friday night. Xander had felt something stirring within him at around lunchtime, but he’d put it down to bad eggs. But as the day went on he’d started to feel a little wonky. By the time school was out Xander had been nearly out of his mind. He’d struggled to stay normal and Xandery and only the excuse of the bad eggs had gotten rid of Buffy and Willow so that he could walk home in turmoil in peace. And wasn’t that a contradiction?

But he hadn’t walked home.

He’d gone somewhere else.

The hyena inside him had stretched and filled him up with a desperate need, a want so strong that he would have walked over hot coals to get it.

The hyena had wanted Angel.

The need was still there, the hyena lurking just beneath his consciousness, but Xander couldn’t quite fathom it, couldn’t quite work out why the hyena had led him to Angel.

“Earth to Xander. You there?”

A hand waved in front of his face and Xander jerked in surprise as he snapped out of his memories.

“What?”

“Did you hear anything I just said?” Buffy asked.

“Uh – maybe?”

“Slayer and Slayerette meeting after school,” Willow supplied. “Are you okay, Xander?”

No, he wasn’t. He was tired, had half a head full of memories and was really disturbed by the fact that, three days ago, he’d woken curled up in Angel’s lap. “I’m good. Really good. In fact, I’m great with all the goodness. Are…you good?”

“You’re being weird,” Buffy observed with a slight smile and narrowed eyes.

“I am?” Xander shrugged. “Must be a full moon,” he joked, looking out the window at the blazing sunshine of mid afternoon. “A full sun?”

Buffy shook her head with fond exasperation and picked up her school bag. “I gotta book. See you guys in Chem.”

Xander breathed a sigh of relief and grabbed his own bag before following Willow out of the building. Buffy had gotten into a pattern of mentioning a certain person’s name and it had gotten old several weeks ago.

Angel.

Xander hated that name.

“And where is the Buffster going without her trusty sidekicks?” he asked Willow.

“Lunchtime detention,” Willow answered before realising that Xander had asked a really stupid question. “You know that!” she suddenly cried. “Buffy got caught fighting.”

“Oh, yeah.” Xander remembered now. A senior had picked a fight with a much younger and smaller boy and Buffy had stepped in to save the day.

“Where’s your head at today?”

“On my pillow? Sorry, Wills.”

“Are you really okay, Xander? You know I worry. And after everything that happened last week…”

“I’m fine, really. See? No cackling or large furry brown spots. Just me.”

Willow nodded, but her expression still carried her worry.

“I’m just feeling under the weather, that’s all. Nothing to wig about.”

“Would you tell me if there was something to wig about?”

Xander paused for far too long before he spoke. “Totally.”

He hated lying to his best friend.





By the time after school came, Xander was feeling decidedly iffy.

Chem class had made him sneeze non-stop – a consequence of deliberately snuffling at every single substance he could – and Math class had nearly made him growl. But that wasn’t really anything new.

Buffy’s appearance at Chem class had given Xander a feeling of near euphoria. As much as it had relieved him when she’d left to do her detention stint, something within him burned to keep her close.

And now that they were all in the library about to start a meeting, Xander was nearly purring with contentment. He stood by the counter while the others took seats. The urge to prowl around them and guard his pack was almost overwhelming.

“Hi. I hope I’m not late.”

The voice made Xander fall back from his position as protector. He left his sentry point near the door and made his way guiltily back to the table. Back to the pack, not his pack. He wasn’t Alpha.

Angel was.

A hysterical laugh bubbled up and Xander fought to push it back down before it confirmed to the whole room that he was a complete loon. He thought Angel was his pack leader? Surely, if anyone, it should be Buffy. But…Angel?

Yeah, right. Whatever. So very, very big with the wrong.

“Not at all, Angel. Please take a seat.”

Xander hadn’t known Giles for all that long, but he knew him well enough to hear the guarded tone. Angel was an enigma. None of them knew where he was from or how he knew so much about the Hellmouth. There were a few enlightened souls around Sunnydale, but they were few and far between. So until they knew more about this Angel guy, he would be kept at arm’s length.

“How can I help?” Angel asked.

Well, that was more words than Xander usually heard from the mysterious stranger. Angel was a man of few words. But he did have great dress sense.

Xander vaguely listened as Giles explained that a particularly nasty vampire was in town, probably intent on killing the Slayer at all costs. Giles was hoping that Angel could shed some light on the new Big Bad – seeing as Mystery Man had the low-down on just about everything else on the Hellmouth.

The rest of the conversation was tuned out as Xander studied the man opposite him. Angel wasn’t what he seemed, that was for damn sure. There was something very still about him, something kinda wise and almost superior. On the surface Angel was relatively unassuming, but beneath that quiet exterior there was something else – something deep.

The hyena was definitely interested. The hyena definitely wanted. It had sought Angel out, wandered the streets of Sunnydale until it had picked up his scent and followed.

That sent a shiver down Xander’s spine so big that everybody paused for a millisecond to regard him before they carried on. What was it about this guy? What did this guy have that made his inner dog so intent on rolling over for a tummy rub? Okay, so he was willing to admit that Angel was buff. In fact, he had already admitted it. Publicly. He may have denied it afterwards, but he still knew that he’d said it.

Angel was hot. There. He’d said it again. Internally. Internal Xander was the only thing that made external Xander suitable for exposure to the surrounding community.

Angel had a nice face. Good body, from what Xander could tell. Slightly gay hair. Nice long legs.

Xander Junior woke up at the thought of the legs.

“So, blood, gore, spilled guts; anything else we can expect from our latest Big Bad?” Xander quickly asked as he sent up a silent prayer that he wouldn’t need to stand for the next minute.

“Lots of dust,” Buffy replied.

“He’s strong,” Angel warned.

“Duh.” Buffy popped her gum and leant her elbows on the desk. “Just tell me where I can find him.”

“Quite.” Giles adjusted his glasses and closed his notebook. “I don’t think now is the time to get cocky, Buffy. This vampire is much stronger than any you have encountered before.”

“I’m not cocky. Hey, Vampire Slayer here, remember? He does the vampiring and I do the slaying. I think it’ll work out pretty well.”

Xander tuned out the rest of the chatter. Buffy’s little quips were getting better by the day, and normally Xander would have been glad to hear them. But right now, Xander had other things on his mind. He wasn’t sure exactly what those things were, but he was damn well going to sit here and space until he could work it out.

“Are you coming?”

Xander shook his head and wondered what he’d missed. He looked up to see Angel standing over him. “Huh?”

Angel’s lips twitched in an almost smile. “Buffy’s going on patrol. Giles and Willow want to stay and research.”

“Oh, right. Sure. Okay. So…meeting adjourned?”

Angel nodded. “Are you coming, then?”

“Huh? Still not clear on the coming thing.” Xander could have smacked himself. Now all he could think about was Angel coming all over him. He tried to blame the hyena for that thought, but unfortunately it/he/she was nowhere to be seen or heard.

“I’m walking you home.”

“Me?” So much for the arm’s length thing.

This time Angel did smile. An expression of genuine amusement crossed his face before it disappeared as quickly as it had come. “You tuned out too, huh?”

Xander had the good grace to look guilty. “Uh – yeah. I take it you did, too?” That was surprising.

“Somewhere around the tactical abilities of Childer.”

“Oh, I didn’t even make it to that.” Xander picked up his bag and stood to leave. Angel was to be his escort home and, while Xander was brimming with embarrassment, he was still glad to have some back-up in case he was attacked by a passing vamp. He may be an idiot, but he wasn’t a total idiot. “What’s a Childer?”





Xander lay on his back with his arms folded behind his head. No matter how hard he tried, sleep was just not co-operating in a sleep-inducing sort of way. The events of the last week played over and over in Xander’s mind and it was impossible to switch them off.

Part of him was having a hard time wondering why he hadn’t yet gone to Giles for help. Perhaps it was because he felt that he could handle the sitch himself. Or perhaps it was because he felt that no help was needed and the hyena in his head would be on its way any moment now.

Perhaps it had gone completely already, the events of the last few days a mere side effect, shadows, of the possession of just a week ago. Certainly, he couldn’t feel it right now. It? Him. It was definitely a him.

Last night had felt very strange. There was something about Angel that he just couldn’t quite place.

The first half of the walk home had been uneventful and mostly silent, but that was okay. Xander was already aware that Angel wasn’t a talker.

But, after ten minutes of awkward, yet blessed, silence, Angel cleared his throat, looked steadily at him and spoke.

Xander knew it was going to be bad.

“The other night…”

“The other night? Oh, you should just clear your mind of all that. I was…drunk. Drinking. Drunken. You know, I’m in my prime for teenage experimentation.”

“I didn’t smell any alcohol.”

“Ah, well, that would be because I was drinking cocktails. They…don’t smell. ‘Cause of all the different smells. That is, one smell outsmells the other smells.”

“I see. And which cocktails did you drink?”

“Uh – Molotov cocktails? Mostly.” Xander realised his mistake and visibly winced. “When was it obvious I was lying?”

“Straight away.”

“Yeah? Damn my good upbringing.”

Back in the present and Xander stared up at his dark ceiling and remembered Angel’s chuckle. Hey, that guy was cute when he wasn’t scowling. Actually, he was cute when he was scowling. And hot. Had he mentioned that he thought Angel was hot? He definitely had a Dark Knight thing going for him.

Yeah, Angel was definitely the type of guy he’d go for. If he was gay. Which he wasn’t. Well, not openly. Not in the daytime.

But this was night time. This was fantasy time. Here in his bed he was surrounded by a black cloak that shielded him from all prying eyes. Here, he could think whatever he liked and do whatever he liked. Here, his fantasies knew no end.

Here, he could think of Angel as a hot guy that he wanted kiss and feel, and not the guy that was so clearly chasing after Buffy.

Xander released one arm from behind his head. He licked his lips and conjured an image of naked Angel while he dropped his hand to his hardening cock. In his head Angel was touching himself and calling Xander’s name. Angel’s body was large, muscular and strong, his skin shining with some sort of oil. Angel’s hands stroked his own cock with a strong rhythm and Xander mirrored his actions. Xander could see him so clearly.

Angel.

Xander repressed a moan before it slipped out, his hand stroking faster now that his pre-come had soaked his fingers and lightly coated his shaft.

In the dark.

Xander felt the stirring in his balls as his orgasm built. His hand stripped him faster.

Angel.

Xander bit down on his lip as his hips began to buck

Angel. Touching himself. Stroking. Fucking his hand and watching Xander do the same.

Xander’s hand became lips that surrounded his cock and swallowed him whole.

Angel. Calling his name. Pleading for release.

Xander balanced on the brink and fucked himself into near hysteria

Angel. Standing. Naked. In the dark. Vampire eyes and sharp, white teeth.

Warmth suddenly spread through Xander’s lower body as his cock spilled and spilled and spilled…

Xander pulled the last of his release from his body. He trembled from one of the most powerful orgasms in teenage history.

Wow. Vampire fetish? That was new and so very disturbing. What the hell had made him picture Angel as a vampire?

Great. Something else to keep him awake for the rest of the night.





The next day school was a total snooze-fest. Literally. It was all Xander could do to keep his eyes open. His lack of sleep the night before was really taking its toll, so much so that Xander didn’t even register until lunchtime that Willow was missing.

“Willow!”

“B-u-f-f-y,” the Slayer slowly said.

“No, I mean, where’s Willow?!”

“At home sick. And it’s taken you this long to notice? Are you sick too?”

Xander relaxed and realised that it must be lunchtime. Well, if the burger in front of him was anything to go by. “I didn’t sleep too well,” he admitted. There was no point in denying that anything was wrong. Buffy may be blond but she was still fairly sharp in the wits department.

“I did notice the bags. Thought maybe you were vacationing.”

“Just not sleeping.”

Buffy frowned and looked at her friend seriously. “You can tell me if something’s wrong.”

“I’m fine. Really. Just had a bad couple of nights. You know what I’m like. The brain that never shuts off. It just keeps on whirling. If only it would come up with something intelligent.” Xander laughed but it trailed off when it became clear that Buffy wasn’t laughing with him.

“Xand?”

Xander sighed and gave in. A little. “I’m just trying to sort out some stuff in my head.”

“The sort of stuff that keeps you awake?”

“Yeah. Buff…I think I might be gay.”

Buffy gulped and had no idea what to say.





Xander threw his school stuff onto his bed and tried not to have a panic attack. “Oh, god, what was I thinking?”

That was a good question. Who’d have thought that he would blurt out his sexuality over burger and fries? At school? Where there were actual people? And to Buffy?!

Damn, Willow was going to be so pissed at him for not telling her first. He just prayed that Buffy would keep her word and keep quiet.

God, he was so monumentally stupid. Go figure this: Buffy has a crush on Angel. Angel walks Xander home. Bam! Suddenly Xander is gay!

Well, that would be his conclusion if he was Buffy and not the guy that masturbates over his friend’s future husband.

Xander swore to himself and crashed about his room like only a teenager in a tantrum could. He pulled off his t-shirt and rummaged around his drawer for another one. He’d spilled milk down the old one at lunch and it was starting to turn into cheddar.

Before he could pull on the new shirt he caught sight of himself in the mirror. He was tall for his age and already he was gaining a nice muscular shape. Not big, just defined. He wondered if Angel would like his body.

He wondered if Angel would lead the pack. They needed a leader.

He needed Angel.

Xander. Wasn’t. Alpha.

Buffy shouldn’t be alpha. The strong female to lead the clan. Not this time. The hyena wanted a male and it cackled with approval.

Angel.

Need Angel.

Need Angel to protect.

Need Angel to fuck him and accept him.

Xander clamped his hands over his ears and wished to god that he’d gone to Giles for help.

The voices were so loud, so intense and so aggressive. He threw himself onto his bed and grabbed his pillow, pulling it over his head to smother the immense noise.

Chatterchatterchatterchatterchatterchatterchatterchatter

Angel. Is. Leader.

The hyena knew that this was the truth. As the hyena, Xander had challenged Buffy and Buffy had fought and dominated him and his hyena spirit. With the help of a flying desk. But Buffy wasn’t enough. Angel was stronger. So much stronger.

Xander finally knew what he had to do. He pulled on a new shirt and walked out of his room and out of his house.

He had an Angel to find.





Halfway to Angel’s place and Xander started to think that his big, bright idea was not so big and decidedly dim. It was dark now, and Xander was only halfway sure of where Angel’s mansion was.

Something rustled behind him and Xander fought his human instincts to glance back and then run like hell.

Hyena doesn’t run.

Hyena hunts.

The human instinct broke through and he risked a glance over his shoulder. In the darkness walked a man. At least it looked like a man. For all he knew it was a vampire.

It needed to be killed. It needed to be eliminated.

Xander stopped, unaware that his eyes were flashing green. A growl entered his throat and as he turned to face his victim his urge to rip and shred became overwhelming.

“What the sodding hell are you supposed to be?” The man’s face changed to reveal bumps, ridges and painfully sharp fangs.

Xander growled again in answer, and leapt.





The hand around his throat had been a surprise.

The vampire was quick, too quick. Even before Xander could hit out or claw, he’d been thrown a clear ten feet. He hit the ground on his back with a massive thud, and as everything went fuzzy and grey he wondered where he’d gone wrong in life. I mean, did other people get attacked by a giant, killer, man-eating Praying Mantis bug teacher? Did other people get strangled by a witch’s invisible force? Did other people get possessed by hyenas? He suspected the answer was no.

The vampire put its foot on Xander’s chest and leant. “You human, or what?”

“Or what,” Xander wheezed.

“Green eyes, growling…what a bloody sight. Nice one, though.”

“Uh…” Xander wasn’t sure how to answer that. Or even if he could. The vampire’s boot grew heavy and Xander expected a rib to snap at any moment.

“Sorry about the fall, pet. Thought you were going to be stronger when you leapt at me, all fangs and flashing eyes.”

The boot released him and Xander tried in vain to scrabble away. A strong hand snagged his throat and held him back down on the concrete sidewalk as the vampire straddled him. “Not going anywhere so soon, are you, luv? Thought we might have some fun first. Wanna see those eyes flash when I tie you down and fuck you.”

A part of Xander responded to that. The wrong part. Xander silently cursed Xander junior for being so alert.

“Like the thought of that, do you, luv?” The vampire leant forward and rubbed his own erection onto Xander’s. “Reckon you do.”

The vampire rubbed again and Xander couldn’t help but moan and lift his hips in response.

“You smell like him.” Xander opened his eyes – oh, shit, when had he closed them? – and looked at the vampire pinning him down. He frowned with obvious confusion. “Who are you?”

“Me? I’m the bloke that you’re never gonna forget, pet. The name’s Spike.”





Part Two



The cold hand creeping down Xander’s jeans finally brought him to his senses. He raised his hand to Spike’s neck and pulled him down for what seemed like a kiss.

“Ah, someone’s a horny teenager, eh?” Spike’s chuckle ended abruptly when Xander head butted him and tossed his body to the side. “Bugger me,” he cursed, holding on to his nose and then checking his hand for blood. “You bloody little shit!”

Xander rolled onto his front and scrambled to his feet. He wasn’t going to be fast enough to outrun a vampire, but maybe he could shout loudly enough to attract some help. Maybe Buffy was nearby. And Angel’s place was just around the corner. Wasn’t it?

Xander opened his mouth and bellowed. “HELP!!!”

“Oi! Shh!”

“HELP!!!”

“SHHH!!”

“HELP!!!”

“Bleedin’ hell.” Spike made a lunge at Xander, moving to quickly cover his mouth and muffle the cries for assistance.

“MMELPH!!!”

Spike glanced over his shoulder, checking to make sure no-one was there. He turned back to Xander and tightened his grip over the boy’s mouth, his other hand squeezing his throat in warning. “Shut. The. Fuck. Up. If you don’t, I’ll snap your neck right now. Got it?”

Xander nodded as much as he could in Spike’s grasp. And then kicked him.

“Bollocks! Right, that’s it. You’re coming with me.” Spike grabbed for the human, who was backpedalling fast. Grasping his shirt, Spike pulled him close and whispered into his neck. “Was gonna just drain you and leave you…after a bit of a play. But I got a better idea. Gonna take you back to my Dru. I promised her a present. She does love the ones that struggle.”

Xander had one of those funny, sinking feelings that weren’t really that funny. “I don’t suppose I could demand my one phone call?”

“Not a chance, luv.”

Xander debated struggling and fighting again. Was it really going to do him any good? Or was it only going to irritate the vampire further? Hey, maybe he could talk his way out of his deadly situation? “How about letting me go?”

“Nope.”

Well, there was that hope shot down in flames.

After Spike dragged Xander a surprisingly short distance, they arrived at a battered black car that Xander could only describe as battered and black and a car. With wheels. He considered a token protest when he was thrown front first against it, but upon seeing the look of warning on his captor’s face as he turned he wisely decided against it.

Spike opened the trunk and pulled out a length or rope. “Hands behind your back, luv.”

“Uh – do I have to?”

Where Spike’s arms would have reached out with the rope, they instead dropped to his sides as his face took on an incredulous expression. “What do you think?”

“Yes?” Xander guessed.

“Well done. Top of your class, are you? Now, turn back around and put your hands behind your back. You planning on kicking me again, or do I have to tie your legs up too?” Spike’s hand rested on Xander’s hip as he spoke.

“I might kick. I’ll try not to. It’s just a victim’s instinct, you know?” Xander’s voice wavered as his chest began to warm, the hyena squirming inside him with indecision.

“Right.” Spike stood motionless and perplexed by this for a moment. “Try very hard.” He yanked Xander away from the car by the top of his arm and swung open the door. “Get in.”

“Um…Spike, can I ask you something?”

Spike huffed with impatience. “What?”

“Do I know you?”

“Unlikely. Get in the car.”

“But you seem familiar. Did you die recently?”

“A century ago recent enough for you?”

“Oh. Okay. Just…”

Okay, now Spike had to know. “Just what? And make it snappy, boy, or Dru’ll have both our guts for garters.”

“There’s just something about you.”

An evil smile spread over an evil face. He gripped Xander’s hips and pulled him close. “Like what you see, eh?”

“No! Gods, a whole world of no!”

“Then what’s this all about?” Spike asked as he reached between them and rubbed Xander erection through his pants.

Xander gasped and tried to back away, but he was held solid in Spike’s arm, the hand on his cock also going nowhere soon. “That’s…that’s…that’s nothing.”

“Doesn’t feel like nothing, pet. Definitely feels like something.”

“That’s…that…” Xander tried to think quicker, “isn’t for you.” Okay, maybe slower would have been better.

An amused black eyebrow raised itself. “That right? Don’t see no-one else around here. You thinking about someone?” Spike teased, with a generous squeeze to Xander’s cock.

Xander tried to stop his brain, he really did. But it was hard when your inner hyena was purring and your cock was swelling to epic proportions. The hyena still wanted one person, but for some reason he was trying to tell Xander that this one would do for now.

This one could be pack.

“Come on, luv, tell me,” Spike encouraged with a quick suck to Xander’s neck. “Tell me about the one that’s got you so hard for me,” he whispered.

Xander breathed one name before Spike roared with fury and put out all his lights.






Angel lowered the book with a heavy sigh of defeat. It didn’t matter how many times he read the same sentence, it just wasn’t going to stick. Not unless the same sentence had the name ‘Xander’ in it.

He had to admit that he hadn’t gotten to know Xander at all. Not so far, at least. The boy had seemed strangely hostile towards him and any attempt on Angel’s part to try to at least be civil had been immediately rebuffed. Although, at the same time, Angel also had to admit that he hadn’t tried very hard.

Sunnydale was about his chance at redemption. He had a greater part to play in the force of good than he’d ever had for the darkness as a soulless shell. Now he was good; now he had a soul.

It was time to finally use it.

Whistler had shown him the way, shown him the plight of the Slayer and enlightened him to his own path.

The pain of Angel’s past swam thickly around him at all times, forever darkening his already black nights and clouding the way to any kind of happiness. But at last, by helping the newest Slayer, Angel could have a chance to change that. He knew he had a lot to make up for, a thousand babes dashed and drained, but he had to try.

Never would he seek true forgiveness. Forever would he want it.

The equation was quite simple, really. Come to Sunnydale. Help the Slayer. Gain a few warm fuzzies to help him make it through the next night.

No muss, no fuss.

But he hadn’t banked on two things.

One, he hadn’t expected his utter fear of the Aurelius hierarchy. The Master was his GrandSire and Angel was so afraid of him. As Angelus he’d been brazen with his insults, disrespect and disregard of the older vampire. The only words spoken between them back then were choice and colourful.

Angelus had never feared.

Angel did.

Two, he hadn’t expected to fall. Buffy was petite and blond and very pretty and Angel badly wanted to help her be the longest living Slayer ever. But every time he watched her, followed and guarded her, he watched, followed and guarded her friends too. And that was where the problem had begun.

He’d fallen for Xander. The most childish, emotionally backward and annoying of the Slayer’s brigade and Angel had gone and got the raging hots for him. And, god, had that not helped the situation a few nights past.

Xander had turned up in the late evening. Angel had been surprised; he hadn’t even realised that he’d let slip his address. But there he was, Xander, looking slightly bedraggled and in desperate need of something.

Angel had controlled himself. He’d gotten good at that over the years, what with the no-killing-only-drinking-pigs-blood-and-Gatorade thing. Xander was young, so young.

Too young.

It wouldn’t have been right to take advantage. Even though Xander had gotten so close. Even though Xander had touched and nuzzled and sniffed and pressed himself so close, it wouldn’t have been right to take advantage.

Angel had sensed a predator, a subordinate one, admittedly, but a predator nonetheless. He’d put it away at the back of his mind as his body had insisted on showing a little interest, be-damned what the brain said. As Xander had smelled him and rubbed his face over his shoulder, Angel had hardened. He’d bitten his lip to further control his urges. Not that his cock was paying any attention to that whatsoever.

Angel had stood stoically while Xander checked him out, the only thing deterring the boy from his examination being the blood that dripped down Angel’s chin. Xander had raised himself on his toes and licked the fluid away. The warm tongue had surprised Angel and he’d stumbled back and fallen onto the couch. Xander had wasted no time in following him down.

And there they’d stayed. On the couch. Angel had been lost for what to do at first, but as Xander had settled over his lap and curled up to sleep, Angel satisfied himself by simply watching.

What he should have done, circumstances given, was to have scooped up the sleeping boy and deposited him with Buffy’s Watcher. Certainly something weird was going on, but Angel had been powerless to move, and it wasn’t anything to do with Xander’s death-grip around his legs. It was the expression of perfect contentment on Xander’s face. It was a portrait that Angel could never hope to paint of himself.

So Angel let him sleep. He let him have his perfect contentment, whatever that was.

And now, several nights later, Angel couldn’t stop the thoughts from playing around in his mind. He couldn’t stop thinking about that night.

He couldn’t stop thinking about Xander.

Angel tried to distract himself from the more sordid thoughts, because he so wasn’t going there, and tried instead to figure out what had happened to Xander. The chances were that Xander had been sleep walking. But that didn’t help with the predator thing. Maybe he’d been wrong about that. Or maybe not.

Angel walked to the door and looked outside and up at the sky as it brightened with the cursed orange that came every morning.

Despite the rumours that vampires couldn’t ever see a sunrise, Angel had seen one every morning since the return of his soul. And every morning, including this one, he’d wished that it would be the last time that he’d have to see something so beautiful that he couldn’t quite touch. Like unwrapping a gift that he couldn’t have, it poked at his still heart and prickled his eyes with tears.

He would forget about Xander.

A human, teenage boy and a friend of the Slayer. You didn’t get much more untouchable than that.





“What’s the matter, Dru, luv? I thought you’d be hungry.”

Drusilla hissed from her place on the bed. “Stupid Spike!!” she hissed again and turned her attention to her gift. “He’s all sleepy. Naughty Spike!”

“He’s alright. He ain’t dead, or nothing. I got him for you, pet. Don’t you like him?”

Drusilla nodded sadly, her bottom lip jutting out like a child’s. “Perfect, my love.”

“What you looking so glum about, then? Let’s eat him. Or would you rather play?”

“Play.”

Spike grinned and crawled onto the bed. They were in a house somewhere in Sunnydale. The house had become suddenly available when its bachelor resident popped out and never popped back. “Want me to untie him, luv? Or not?”

“Not!” Drusilla slapped Spike’s hand hard as he ran it up the unconscious boy’s leg.

“Ow! Bloody hell! I’m not faring well tonight, am I?”

Xander groaned and shifted slightly on the bed. Drusilla looked down at him and then gently petted. “Shhh, little lion. No, not quite. I know what you are. Safe now.”

“Eh?! I don’t think I’ve met anyone, at least recently, that’s less safe than he is right now. And how come you get to touch?”

Drusilla stared at Spike until he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. There was something in that gaze that could paralyse an army or turn Medusa herself into stone. It was accusing and knowing, sexual and playful, scornful and so full of evil. “This boy knows Daddy.”

“Yeah.” Spike kept his voice neutral. He was within striking distance of Drusilla and he’d learned the painful, hard way that her bite was quicker and much worse than her bark. “I know.”

The deadly expression darkened further before it suddenly turned into a delighted smile. “You were jealous!” Her hand reached out and where Spike had expected her nails to scrape his face like claws through dough, he instead got a playful slap to his chest. “Spike, Spike, Spike, silly Spike. It was only twice, you know. Me and Daddy.”

Spike glowered and got off the bed. Any reminder of that night angered him to the point of hurting even her. And he had done. Many times. Drusilla had loved it.

“Whatever, luv. Play with the boy, don’t play with the boy. I ain’t bothered.”

“I wish I could. I wish we both could. You’d look so dashing dressed in his blood, all gore and shiny, shiny. And his intestines would make me a lovely scarf. It gets so cold.”

“Sounds lovely, Dru baby,” Spike said, suddenly interested again. “Show me, luv. Spill his blood for me.”

Drusilla sighed wistfully and pushed back a lock of hair from Xander’s face. “I could smear it on you and lick it all off. Wax on, wax off.”

“Go on, luv,” Spike egged. “Do it for me.”

She sighed again. “Yummy, yummy, I got love in my tummy.”

Spike took a chance and leaned over Xander’s body to kiss his Sire. “You gonna fuck him or shall I? Want me to get the tool box?”

Drusilla gasped like an old lady that had just been told that her knickers were quite nice. She quickly slapped Spike around the head. A handbag would have totally completed the picture. “Naughty, naughty, naughty!! Not that sort of love! Oh, Spike, what have you done? Daddy will be so mad.”

Spike opened his mouth to ask what the fuck Drusilla had taken this evening, but he was interrupted before he could earn another slap.

“I know! We’ll take care of him until Daddy comes! We’ll show Angel how good we’ve been.” Drusilla suddenly trembled and moaned in distress. “We must, Spike! Must keep the boy alive for Daddy. Oh, Spike, The Powers, they’re all in my head.”

Spike narrowed his eyes and looked down at the boy. “This something you’ve seen in the stars?”

Drusilla nodded miserably. “The end, dear Spike. One day. I must make you all ready for the outing. Pack you a lunchbox, I will. Jam sandwiches. But he must be Daddy’s first. Must make Daddy happy.”

“I have no idea what you’re going on about.”

With a finger to her lips, Drusilla shushed him and smiled down at their prisoner. “Perfect happiness. Black moon, bad sleep. Our Angel will return to us whole. And he’ll bring us another. If he’s not stopped. We’ll need a magic calendar to make the night complete.”

Xander screwed his eyes shut tighter and deliberately tried not to make sense of anything.





The hyena came and went all day. Xander was glad when he was there. He was cold and uncomfortable and very lonely. The hyena gave him something else to think about. He could think about animal possession and man-eating teachers rather than his own impending doom.

When the hyena was inside Xander felt no fear, just an overwhelming feeling of need. The need to be close, the need to be accepted and the need to be more than just one.

Drusilla and Spike were nearly always close and occasionally Drusilla would visit his room to pet him and tell him stories. They were very interesting stories that didn’t, at first, make a whole lot of sense. But as things were repeated and Xander started to learn how Drusilla expressed herself, Xander began to catch on and Drusilla’s stories became very enlightening. He learned a great deal about Spike, Darla and the Master. But most interesting of all, Xander learned about Angel.

Angel, apparently, was a vampire. A souled version. Cursed by gypsies and forced to live a life of guilt, Angel was a good guy now. Xander wondered whether it had been him or the hyena that had conjured Angel as a vampire in his fantasy not so long ago. At the time Xander would have assumed it was just the hyena’s way of picturing its chosen pack leader in a more predatory role for the sake of pleasure.

Yeah, Drusilla was a blood-fountain of information. Spike, on the other hand, was good for visiting even less occasionally to untie him and let him use the bathroom and then feed him whatever was in the house. Xander had chewed his way through half a block of cheddar the last time.

The time dragged as the hyena retreated further and further into his psyche. It was almost as if it was trying to embed and hide itself within him.

Drusilla had said - no, predicted, ‘cause this crazy lady could see the future – that Angel would come for him. She’d also said a whole lot more, and there was some terrifying stuff to think about. The future was looking bleak, a major wig-fest, and Xander wondered what he would do if Angel did come for him.

Drusilla was a family of ants short of an ant farm, but something about her made Xander want to believe. And if Drusilla was being completely honest there definitely needed to be some decisions made in the near future.

And there were definitely a few things that he would keep to himself, terrible things that could make a grown man cry. Cordelia joining the Slayerettes was just too horrifying. He’d certainly keep that one to himself.

LA sounded nice. Wolfram and Hart sounded like a big bug that needed to be squashed. And who the hell was Wesley?

“Hello, little lion. Want another story?”





“I called them, Buffy. He’s not there.” Willow’s voice was strained and on the edge of tears. As Xander’s best friend it was only right that she should be the one to freak out first.

“Three nights?” Giles asked incredulously. “How has he been missing for three nights and we not know about it?”

Buffy raised her hand. “My bad. I – I just thought he needed some space. I just told you he was elsewhere because I thought he was elsewhere and needing to be…else.”

“Why?” Willow asked. “What’s wrong with him? I knew there was something wrong. Is he sick? Oh god, Buffy, what’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing, Willow. Breathe. It’s just…guy stuff.”

“Like what?”

Buffy hesitated. She’d promised Xander that she wouldn’t tell, that she’d let him tell his best friend that he was gay. No, she wouldn’t tell. Not yet. It wasn’t needed. “Like nothing. Wills, it’s not important. What’s important is that Xander’s been missing for three days and we need to find him.”

“Well, with this Spike in town I’d say it’s imperative that we find him as quickly as possible.” If it’s not already too late, Giles added silently.

“I’ll patrol,” Buffy announced as she grabbed her jacket. “I’ll ask around and maybe hope that Angel decides tonight is a good night for an appearance. He seemed to know something about Spike. Maybe he can help.”

“Good idea, Buffy. Willow, we should go and see Xander’s parents, find out if they know anything. Find out when they saw him last.”

Willow nodded. How had she let her friend down so badly?





Part Three



Angel marched across the park in a fit of barely repressed temper. All night for two nights he’d searched for Xander and he’d found nothing.

At first he’d told himself that he was doing this for Buffy, for the cause and because he was starting out a career in helping the helpless. And besides, he knew Xander. Didn’t that mean that Angel should look harder and faster? Didn’t that mean that he should care more? That was why he kept searching. His feelings for Xander didn’t come into it.

The last time anyone had seen Xander, it had been at school. He’d left and hadn’t been seen since. Even his parents claimed not to have set eyes on him since that morning. On a normal Hellmouth night this would be worrying and Angel could have expected Xander’s body to turn up in the morgue at any moment. He’d checked four times.

But this wasn’t an ordinary Hellmouth night. This Hellmouth night had William the Bloody running around in it. Spike. Angel’s Grandchilde.

Multiple decades ago, and then some, Angel had tortured and turned Drusilla. She in turn had taken an irritating blip of a human by the name of William Gregory. This weed of a man had gone on to become the famous Spike, the bloodiest vampire in all Europe and eventually the most feared in the world. Aside from Angelus. Obviously.

And now Spike had been sighted here in Sunnydale. Most likely.

Blond as a bleached, albino carrot top and mouthier than a Jerry Springer guest, it had to be Spike. And Angel could feel him. He could feel Drusilla, too. It was almost like they were calling to him. Angel resisted. He had too.

“This the one?”

Angel shook himself away from his thoughts and back to the present. A large, muscular and slightly portly vampire stood before him in full gameface. The vampire clutched at a makeshift weapon, a large piece of wood with a nail protruding from the end.

“Reckon so.” A second and a third vampire stepped from the shadows.

“Have you seen a boy? About sixteen, dark hair?” Angel asked.

The vampire ignored him and looked over at his comrades. “Remember, we’re to take him alive.”

Angel got ready to fight. The odds were against him but, at three to one, he’d had worse. The first vampire flew at him with unexpected speed, his bulky size fooling Angel into expecting a slow fighting style.

As Angel reeled from the blow to his face he felt a sharp pain at the top of his arm. He gritted his teeth and made no sound as the vampire pulled back the wood and raised it again for another hit.

This time Angel was expecting it. But the other vampire was expecting that and countered as Angel swung his fist. The other vampires expected this also. In fact, all of them expected everything that everyone dished out.

But bulky-vamp number one didn’t expect the stake in his back. As the dust floated back to the earth, Buffy said, “Weren’t expecting that, were you?”

“Expect this, girlie.” Slightly less bulky-vamp number two roared and lunged for Buffy’s throat.

Buffy raised her hand and struck the heel of her palm to the vampire’s chin. “I was expecting that.”

Angel stopped and waggled his finger in thought. “I’m sensing some repetition here.”

“Finish this?” Buffy suggested. “One each? I’ve got your back.”

A hint of a smile ghosted over Angel’s face. “I’m in.”

Angel’s dancing partner dusted first, his last words being, “But you’re supposed to…”

Buffy’s vampire followed close behind, his last words being, “He has to collect the…”

Buffy brushed the dust from her clothes and slid her stake back into her jacket pocket. “You’ve got the moves. Where?”

“I’m sorry?” Angel asked, not quite understanding.

“Where did you get the moves?”

“I learned.”

Buffy nodded. “Any word on Xander?” She’d been all over town again, but still there was no sign.

“Nothing.”

“Oh, god. Starting to really worry here.”

Angel nodded in agreement. “And you know what else is strange?”

“Jackie Stallone’s face?”

“Apart from that. Spike’s here. So where is he?”

“Angel, how can you even be sure he is here? Maybe he moved on,” Buffy paused for thought, “taking Xander with him! Oh, my god…”

“No, don’t panic yet. Spike is still here.”

“How can you be sure? What if Spike took him and…” Buffy stopped right there, unable to finish that sentence.

“Buffy, he’ll be…”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence! How do you know he’ll be okay?”

“I – I don’t.”

“Then we need to keep looking. And the first thing we look for is Spike.”

“Wait!” Angel snagged the Slayer’s arm as she turned to walk away. “There’s something I need to tell you.”





Xander watched through the open doorway as Spike turned from the muttering minion and swore. “For fuck’s sake. Right.”

As Spike stalked into the bedroom Xander tried to scoot back further on the bed. His hands and feet were bound and thanks to his sense of humour he was also gagged. He had no chance of running from Spike, but it still didn’t deter him from trying to get just that little bit further away from him. Spike looked mighty pissed.

“Right, looks like you’ll be here a little longer.” Spike leaned right into Xander’s personal space and placed both hands flat against the wall, either side of Xander’s head. “Won’t that be nice, luv?” he sneered.

Xander shook his head and closed his eyes to wait for the beating. None came. Instead, Spike tipped back his head and laughed. “Peaches is gonna have great fun with you. Good luck to the bastard. So, Dru’s been telling tales, has she?”

Xander opened his eyes again and considered which answer would get him into less trouble. Spike definitely had a temper, but as yet he’d only hit him that once at the car and then once more when Xander had resisted Spike’s advances. That had earned him a swollen cheek. And had earned Spike a torn ear from Drusilla when she’d pulled him off like a naughty schoolboy.

Eventually, Xander nodded.

“Some of it makes sense. Some of it doesn’t. It always seems to make sense in the end, though.”

Xander wondered if Spike was more speaking to himself.

“She tell you your future?”

Xander shrugged and Spike leant forward and pulled his gag down.

“Some of it,” Xander said after trying to spit out some of the fluff from the incredibly fluffy scarf Spike had used as a gagging tool. Damn mohair.

“Make sense to you?”

“Some of it. Some of it not so much. Is she always like this?”

Spike lit up a cigarette while he thought about that question. “She never used to be quite so intuitive, you know? She keeps going on about the end and how the family’s got to come together to save all the little kitties. Something about fighting as one and not fading. I dunno what she’s going on about. She’s definitely on a psychic bender.”

Xander had a much better idea of what she was talking about. He was pretty good with all the cryptic. He wasn’t going to tell Spike that, though. “She’ll be okay, though? It won’t hurt her?”

“What do you care?!” Spike snapped.

“Okay,” Xander said carefully, “I can’t exactly say that she gives me the warm fuzzies, but…I hope she gets out of town before the Slayer finds her.”

Spike’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “You know about the Slayer?”

“She’s one of my best friends.”

The cigarette dropped from Spike’s mouth. “Well, that’s all I bleedin’ need!”






As Angelus, he’d been fond of Spike at first. They’d fought together and played together. The annoying, pompous, twit of a human gradually disappeared and what took over was nothing less than a monster. He was Angelus’ type of guy.

As a family, they were a dysfunctional lot. Darla had looked down on the ‘children’ with scorn and disgust in her eyes while Angelus stayed mostly by her side, watching with hidden jealousy the passionate interaction between Drusilla and Spike. Not that Angelus could have complained. His sex life was fine and dandy, thank you very much. But a part of him, the big part that cried out for family and unity, craved the touch of his Childer.

And Angelus was never one to be denied.

He’d taken Drusilla first, made her scream and bleed and have so much fun. Darla hadn’t minded that.

Spike had.

It had dissolved their friendship immediately. So Angelus took what was left: Spike’s body.

At the time, Angelus had what he thought was the time of his life. With Darla watching and glaring and Drusilla torn between clapping and weeping, Angelus had shown his ungrateful Grandchilde just how to respect a Master. Sort of. Well, he’d tried. At the end Spike had gotten up, spat on him and smashed a wooden chair against the wall. Angelus hadn’t entirely expected the chair leg to hurt quite so much as it pierced the skin just over from his heart. “I always knew you were the screamer, luv.”

Things between them all had been strained after that. Then cue the gypsies.

In the present, Angel told Buffy about what happened with Xander a few nights back. He explained how Xander had almost seemed like he was possessed, or perhaps in a trance. Part of Angel hoped that it was this that had simply caused Xander to wander off. Another part of him hoped it would distract Buffy enough for Angel to find Spike and get him out of town. He owed him that much, at least.

But if Spike had hurt Xander… If he’d… Would Angel allow him to walk away from that? Could he?





“Well, by all accounts it looks like the hyena is back.” Giles opened another book and set it on top of the others he was perusing.

“But…Xander wasn’t mean, not like last time. Buffy, did he…? Was he…? Was he mean about me again?”

Buffy shook her head firmly. “No! No, no and more no. He wasn’t like that at all.” She turned back to Giles. “I think this is somehow different.”

“Oh, I have no doubt that it is. Different,” he added, seeing their puzzled looks. “I’m sure I’ve read somewhere about what’s described as a Shadow Possession. That is, after a full possession from which a demon or an animal is exorcised, it can sometimes leave a shadow of the possession behind.”

“I see. So, Xander’s got the same, pesky hyena back?” Buffy asked.

“It’s quite possible.”

Buffy wasn’t satisfied with that answer. “And how does this affect Xander’s behaviour? Why is it different this time?”

“Because it isn’t a full possession. Xander is still in there and by the sounds of it he’s been fighting the hyena.” Giles removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “He must be very confused, poor lad.”

“So, we think he ran away?” Willow asked. “Somewhere Spike-free and safe?”

Giles nodded. “Chances are he’s holed up somewhere, trying to work out what’s in his head.”

“This isn’t terminal, is it? We can get the hyena out again?”

“Buffy!” Willow chided. “Of course we can!” She turned to Giles and asked, meekly, “Can we?”

“I don’t believe there’s any need. From what I’ve read so far, the possession will simply fade away. We just need to find him and keep an eye on him until it does.”

“Right.” Buffy stood and pulled her jacket on over her shoulders. “Then let’s look. Times a’wasting. Willow, go with Giles and take him anywhere you think human-Xander would go. And if you can get into the mindset of hyena-Xander, then that’s all good too.”

“Where are you going?” Willow asked.

“To find Spike.”

Giles sighed as he pushed back his chair and stood up. “I really hate to use the word ‘obsessed’…”

“Then don’t,” Buffy finished with false cheer. “Giles, Spike comes to town…”

“We think,” Giles interrupted.

Buffy ignored him and continued where she’d left off, “on the same night that one of my best friends disappears. That’s what I call Coincidence City. I’m going to find him.”

It took a few moments for anyone to speak again. Finally, it was Giles that broke the silence. “Then just be safe, Buffy. This vampire has killed two Slayers in his time. He’s deadly. He’s vicious. And if he’s got Xander then getting him back will be immensely difficult.”





“There you go. Bloody keep him.”

Angel turned suddenly at the voice and opened his arms to catch Xander as the boy was flung across the cemetery. “Xander?” He pulled down the gag and held him until Xander had his feet under him. “Are you okay?”

“Peachy.”

“What have you done to him?!” Angel accused as he turned his head to meet Spike’s gaze.

“A bloody sight less than I should have done! You should be thanking me, mate! Oh, and it’s good to see you again.” Spike’s voice was bitter.

Angel did his best to ignore it. “Xander, what happened?”

“Uh – not sure, really. I was…out. Next thing I know I’m being jumped by this lunatic.”

“Are you hurt?”

Xander looked up at Angel’s expression. There was genuine concern and worry there. It gave Xander a tingly feeling that made him want to smile in spite of his ordeal. It also made the hyena curl up inside and sleep with sated contentment. “I’m okay,” he said, finally. Although it was tempting to claim that Spike had beaten him with a stick and then see what Angel did.

Angel brushed his thumb lightly over the dark bruise on Xander’s cheek. “You’re safe now.”

Xander tried not to lean in the touch, he really did. He barely even knew this guy. And he was a vampire! There should be no touching! Then why was it that all he wanted was for Angel to never stop touching him.

“Right, I’ll just be going, then,” Spike called over, “without a thank you or a…”

“Wait!” Angel began to untie the rope that bound Xander’s wrists together. “Why? Why did you take him if you weren’t going to…?”

“I was going to. Was gonna have some fun first. Didn’t fancy it in the end, though. He talks too much. And I heard he was a pal of the Slayer. Couldn’t really be bothered with the trouble.”

Angel looked back down at Xander to confirm this.

“It’s all true. Oh, and Drusilla wouldn’t let him.” Xander grinned and Angel wondered if he was about to poke his tongue out at his ex-captor.

“You are such a little brat. I should have force fed you that mouldy jello.”

“Spike, just beat it before Angel royally kicks your ass out of this town.”

“He can just bloody try it!” Spike cried as he puffed himself up. If he’d been a peacock he’d have spread his feathers far and wide.

“Thank you, Spike,” Angel said calmly. “Thank you for bringing him back.”

Spike de-puffed. “Oh. Right. Welcome. ‘Course, you could have had him back ages ago if you weren’t such a clot brain. I sent some perfectly good minions out to bring you to him and you went and slaughtered ‘em. Then I have to drag his sorry arse all around this pitiful town looking for you! Should have guessed I’d find you in the bloody graveyard. Anyway, toodle pip and all that rot. Nice seeing you, I don’t think. Hopefully, we won’t run into each other again.”

Xander smiled secretively as he watched Spike disappear into the night. Oh, they’d be seeing him again very soon. And if Drusilla was right, it would prove to be very interesting. Damn, he needed to get home quick. He was never going to remember everything Dru had said.

Xander had never been in more desperate need of a pen and paper.





Xander yawned as widely as humanly possible. He glanced over at the clock and then pointed at it. “Two. In. The. Morning,” he announced. “Not that I’m not grateful, but could you guys not be here anymore?”

Giles stood immediately. “Yes, of course. It’s very late. We just wanted to be sure you were all right.”

“Yeah, we worry, you know,” Willow said, reaching out to hug her friend.

“You have my home number now, Xander. Please call me immediately if something else happens. And I mean anything at all.”

“I will. Thanks, guys.”

Willow and Giles left Xander’s room. But Buffy stayed where she was on the end of his bed.

Xander raised his eyebrow – just like Spike – and waited for her to speak.

“I’m really glad you’re okay. I was worried I’d find you in little Xander-shaped pieces.”

“Just one big Xander-shaped piece, thank god.”

Buffy smiled. “Good. I still don’t get why Spike didn’t kill you. Not that I wanted him to. A big no on that,” she added quickly. “But…I don’t get it.”

Xander simply shrugged. There was no way he was going to tell Buffy anything right now. Drusilla had given him a remarkable insight into the next seven or eight years. It was sketchy, admittedly, but, if it was all true, the information was invaluable. And he needed to be careful with it. “I don’t get it either.”

Buffy smiled again. “A mystery, huh? I think I can live with that. And, you know, call me Miss Paranoia, but something tells me Spike will be back one day. Maybe I’ll ask him then. Right before I dust him for touching you.”

Xander tried to hide the shudder that went though him. Not because of the thought of Spike touching him, but because of the thought of Spike being turned to dust. There was no way that Xander could honestly say he liked Spike right at this moment. But…one day.

“You okay, Xand?”

“Yeah. Just gave myself the wiggins.”

“Sorry,” Buffy said guiltily.

“Don’t sweat it, Buff. I’m just tired. You know, sleep-deprivation-induced-craziness.”

“I got it.” Buffy stood and walked to the door. She paused just before she touched the door handle. “One more thing?”

“Is it a long thing?”

“Teeny tiny.”

“Then shoot.”

“I think Angel likes you.”

Xander gulped. “That’s just crazy talk,” Xander dismissed. “Are you getting enough sleep.”

“Actually, no. But I’m not crazy. Well, not about this. I just…he was really worried about you. Really worried.”

“Yeah? Maybe he just worries a lot. About everything.”

“I got a vibe from him.”

“A vibe?”

“Yeah, and not just any old vibe. A luuuurve vibe.”

“And there goes the Slayer with all her crazy…”

“Xand,” Buffy interrupted. “He likes you. I know he does. A girl can tell. And this girl has excellent, patented gaydar. Okay, so you didn’t show up on it, but Angel did.”

“He did?”

“Of course! No straight man dresses as good as him. And that cologne? Yummy.”

“Sounds like you’re the one with the crush,” Xander pointed out quietly.

Buffy nodded. “I always fall for the gay ones,” she said with a gaze that pierced Xander to his core. “You like him too?”

Xander sighed. “Yeah. I do.”

“Go for it.”

Xander sat up in surprise. “Really? You don’t mind?”

“Well, if he likes you and you like him, who am I to stand in the way of that? And besides, there’s this guy at school, Karl, who’s a real honey.”

“Ah, the Buffster has a target set,” Xander grinned.

“Maybe.”

“Well, good luck.”

“You too.” Buffy went to turn back towards the door. She stopped and quickly faced Xander again. “He’s not gay, is he? Karl isn’t gay?! You’d tell me, right?!”

“How should I know?! And what happened to your excellent, patented gaydar?”

“It’s malfunctioning?”

Xander rolled his eyes and flopped back on his bed. “Get out. We’ll score the man of your dreams tomorrow.”





The tap on his window jolted Xander from his furious scribbling. He had woken an hour ago from a nightmare. An unbeatable God, a large floating key and Buffy throwing herself to her own doom. It had reminded him of a few things that Drusilla had said and as Xander had begun to write the forgotten things down, more and more information had come to mind.

Xander looked over at the window, almost expecting to see Jesse. Only Jesse had ever climbed up to his window.

But it was Angel. Xander smiled and got off the bed to let him in.

“Xander. I know it’s late…”

“I wasn’t sleeping.”

“So I saw. Sorry, I didn’t mean to spy.”

“I’ll let you off just this one time. Come in.”

Angel looked taken aback. Xander had no idea what he’d just…

“I know what you are.”

“Oh.”

“Spike and Dru told me. The hyena knew, too. Although I didn’t know that he knew until I knew. And now I know. So, come in.” Xander knew exactly what he’d done. He’d just invited a vampire into his home, a vampire that could one day lose his soul and slaughter everyone in this house.

But Xander knew.

“I just wanted to make sure you were really okay.” Angel looked at the bruises on Xander’s face and around his wrists.

“It’s nothing. I get worse falling off my skateboard every day. And boy, did I just make myself sound real young.”

“That’s because you are,” Angel said in the saddest tone he could muster.

“Okay, I’m just gonna lay this all out. Here’s the thing: I like you, as in I really like you. And I know you like me too. Now we can dance around each other for almost exactly three years, by which time you’ll have gone off to LA, or we can just accept that we like each other and do something about it. I know what you are and what I’m getting into.”

“You can’t possibly know…”

“I do know. I know how you make me feel. I know that I want to try this. And I also know a few future facts about you, me, Buffy and some key that I don’t get and some kind of devouring thing from beneath. Oh, and an Irish guy. And lots more stuff. I’m clued up, bud.”

“Drusilla.”

“You bet. Spike said she was on a psychic bender.”

“It sounds like it.”

“I know you want redemption and that you’re going to spend the rest of your life trying to get it. And…I wanna help. I wanna help you find that redemption. Everyone deserves a second chance, right?”

“Xander…”

“You can’t stop me.”

“I wasn’t going to.” Angel stepped closer. “Are you sure about this?”

Xander was very sure. There was a life of fighting evil waiting for him and Xander wanted to be a part of that, a big part. And as for the getting a happy part, well, he knew he couldn’t give Angel a complete happy right now and he wasn’t even sure that he was ready for that. But he could do other stuff with him and have a relationship. And when the time was right, he’d have a – what had Dru called it? – an Orb of Thessula ready and waiting. Easy as pie and no-one had to die.

Of course, he’d have to learn some magic. Hey, if Willow was going to be able to do it, then he shouldn’t have any problems. You don’t need math for magic, right?

“I’m overflowing with all the sure. Angel, please?” Xander closed his eyes as Angel’s lips brushed against his. This was where he wanted to be. This was where he thought the hyena was leading him. And he was. It was just that Xander was leading at the same time.

Angel’s strong body pressed against his and Xander felt like melting. Cool arms slipped around his waist and Xander lost himself in the moment. He felt the hardness of Angel’s erection against his and pulled away just slightly. “Wow, manly parts.”

Angel chuckled. “Yeah.”

“Lots of new.”

“I know.” The words were whispered.

“You wanna stay for a while?”

“You need to sleep. You have school tomorrow.”

“And? I never sleep before school.” Xander thought about that. “Huh. I wonder if that’s why my attention span is so short.”

The corners of Angel’s lips twitched in a smile. He sat at the head of Xander’s bed and extended his arm in a slightly hesitant invitation. When Xander had settled against him, Angel spoke. “How’s the hyena now?”

“Snoring.” Xander looked up at Angel and grinned. “He’s fine.”

“He? How do you know?”

Xander shrugged. “Just a feeling. A weird one. Giles says he should be gone soon.”

“You don’t sound so sure.”

“The way it feels now, it’s like he’ll never be gone. I dunno. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.” Xander felt Angel tip his chin up and place a gentle kiss to his lips.

“I’ll be here, no matter what happens.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“You promise to be here on the thirtieth?”

“What’s happening on the thirtieth?” Angel asked.

“Willow’s gonna get jiggy with some guy she meets on the internet.”

“He’s bad?”

“According to Dru, he’s bigger than bad. And seeing as getting Willow to cut off her internet would be like asking her to cut off both her hands, we’re gonna have to let it run its course and then do the whole seek and destroy thing. Two kids get drained by vampires right near the park on the same night. If we take care of this Buffy can go save them. Everyone’s a winner.”

“Not that I don’t believe you or anything, but I’m having trouble with the whole…Drusilla being helpful thing. Any idea what that’s about?”

He did. It was about a culmination of events that would one day lead to the biggest fight of their lives.

No one wanted an apocalypse. And as much fun as millions of screaming people was, it wasn’t good when all those people then dropped dead and all the vampires of the world suddenly found themselves without happy meals.

It was about one moment. It was about changing the future, starting way in the past. It was about keeping the key players alive.

It was about saving the world. And slaying a Dragon.

“She was just on a bender.”





The End






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