I am writing to you in the desperate hope that you will aid me in my hour of need. My sweet boy is suffering and I fear that soon the agony of his circumstances will drive him to the deepest pit of despair and darkness.
My sweet William came to me a broken demon; I hardly recognized him as dirty and disheveled as he appeared. He frightened Miss Edith terribly.
He has spent the last few nights in a miasma of drunkenness and mad ramblings and I find myself wholly incapable of caring for him. Therefore, on the advice of Miss Edith and my many stellar friends I have procured your address and send you this missive in hopes that you will take pity on my poor boy and heal him, where I cannot.
He will be arriving Par Avion on TransContinental Flight #621 on November the 10th. I packaged him quite carefully and the spell I used will keep him well until you claim him. My deepest thanks for your kindness and may our paths never cross.
Yours in blood,
Xander blinked, rubbed his eyes and blinked again then he checked the calendar. Yup, today would in fact be the 10th and that meant that very likely a box of mad Spike was down at air cargo awaiting pick up.
Oh my God.
Xander rubbed his neck and shoulders. He felt a headache coming on, a big one. "Stupid vampire," he grumbled.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When Spike had returned with a soul, no one, with the possible exception of Buffy had been particularly happy about it, but they'd dealt and eventually a grudging working relationship had been established. When Willow returned she was especially kind to the deranged demon, having just 'been there, done that' as she said.
With much coaxing from the red head and Buffy's quiet pleas all had pretty much returned to normal. Well, except for Dawn but she hadn't completely forgiven Willow yet either so.
Anyhow, back to the normal part, things had pretty much returned to normal with the glaring exception that Spike became Xander's roommate. Xander would have liked to say that he'd responded to the situation with gracious maturity; he would have liked to say that but actually he'd kicked and screamed and whined like a two year old. It was only when Willow turned her resolve face on him (made more frightening by the fact that he now knew just how 'resolved' she could be) that he caved like a bad soufflé and allowed the Fangless Wonder into his home.
Once again Xander found himself in charge of a somewhat ex-demon, helpless in this brave new world. Well, helpless was stretching it but Spike did remind him of Anya at times and he found that likeness endearing; deeply disturbing as well but nonetheless his protective instincts were aroused. Thus, he took the wounded vampire by the scruff of the neck and dragged him complaining mightily into sanity (or a close approximation thereof) and eventually a friendship was formed and life was good, even Dawn came around in time.
Things seemed to be chugging along pretty well
too until the day that Spike kissed Xander. It was just a little kiss, a peck on
the cheek really, a kiss of gratitude for yanking him out of the way of a
Therxos demon on a bender. The girls had kissed him exactly the same way any
number of times. The girls, however, were not five foot ten inches of sculpted
tousled blond locks and an ass to die for (not that he'd noticed); Xander freaked. He yelped, spun around, tripped and landed on his pride. Spike's lower lip started to tremble; his eyes took on a distressing shine that boded well to no man
as he drew his coat around him and left, very much on his dignity.
Xander felt like crap; worse Buffy and Willow had seen the entire exchange and he got the cold shoulder on the walk home. He expected that he would have to do much groveling to get back in everyone's good graces.
He had no idea how much.
When he got home, no Spike: the next day, again, no Spike, three days later, still no Spike and so it went for over a month. Xander was frantic, Buffy was bummed, Willow was worried, Dawn, depressed, even Anya was alarmed. And everybody was annoyed with Xander.
"Why did you have to freak?"
"Couldn't you have just said, 'Hey, thanks' and left it at that?"
"You like him don't you?" This last remark was from Dawn who was the only one showing any sympathy to the harassed young man aside from the not so gentle punch in the arm he'd received when Spike first disappeared.
Where the heck had Spike gone? They searched high and low, Buffy even called Angel but all to no avail. It wasn't until Xander had spent a good two weeks in the dog house that they received their first clue; a vampire Buffy was in the process of staking tried to talk his way out of a one way ticket to limbo by singing like a canary with every bit of info he had.
Most of it was of little interest except for the tidbit that a blond, once Big Bad, had been seen heading south on a Greyhound bus with nothing but a Walkman (tm) and a Spiderman backpack to his name. Xander fumed, not only because Spike had left town but also that he'd stolen said backpack after removing it from its original packaging, so much for resale value. Oh well, at least it was a clue. Xander refused to dwell on the happy little zing that went through his heart on hearing that the annoying one was still among the living.
After staking the whimpering undead, Buffy and
gang trudged back home and the Slayer once again made a call to her ex in LA.
The rest of the gang suffered through the obligatory fifteen minutes of angst
before Buffy got around to asking Angel to use his detective skills to trace his
wayward grandchilde, which Angel did, or more correctly, Cordelia and Fred did.
managed to trace Spike to Mexico where the trail again grew cold.
Xander had feigned indifference but his heart was heavy. He missed Spike. He missed the snarky comments, the wild plans for getting free cable, and even the occasional forays into delusion that marked the now souled one's existence. He'd also had time to consider how he should have responded to the Kiss and what he'd do if he ever got his vampire back (after punching him in the nose for running away of course). He hadn't given up hope but he was pretty down and then the Letter arrived.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Xander read it through one more time and grumbling every step of the way stomped to his car and headed to the airport.
"Stupid vampire," he said it again for emphasis and to prove to himself that he was indeed annoyed with the demon.
He arrived at air cargo a scant three minutes after they'd unloaded the coffin of one Elwood P. Dunsworth, late of Llama, Peru. According to the shipping manifest, the deceased Mr. Dunsworth had the bad luck of falling into the path of a herd of frightened alpaca and been trampled to death. Xander tried to maintain a suitably somber façade but was only mildly successful to judge by the odd looks the cargo handlers were giving him.
Xander did appear grief stricken enough that said handlers helped him tie the coffin to the roof of the Suburban for the ride home and if anyone thought it odd that he was apparently carrying on a rather animated conversation with the coffin on the roof, no one was forward enough to say so.
Xander debated whether to call the girls and let them know the bleached one had been found or rather returned. It was a close thing but in the end he decided to go for it because a) Spike deserved the Willow tongue-lashing he was due and b) he needed their help getting the coffin off the roof. The girls arrived at the apartment just as he was pulling into his space. The atmosphere was somber in an Edward Gorey kind of way, after all Dawn had come loaded with movies and popcorn for post yelling.
They carried the coffin upstairs. Willow
scanned the magical de-sealant spell, candles were lit and blood pre-heated. It
was therefore rather anticlimactic when the lid popped open to reveal deeply
sleeping vampire in oversized footie pajamas.
There was the sound of a collective 'awww' from the mouths of all assembled before Xander stepped forward and lifted the sleepy vampire from his bed.
Spike opened one eye long enough to see whose arms he was in before pouting in a deadly (at least to Xander's heartstrings) fashion. "You were mean," Spike mumbled.
"Yes I was but that's no excuse for taking a runner Mister." Xander adjusted the blonde in his arms. Spike blinked up at the human, a grave expression in his eyes. He seemed to be searching for something, which he must have found because he suddenly broke into a sunny smile.
"Won't do it again. I promise."
Xander nodded in agreement before Spike gave a
great yawn and promptly fell back asleep. Xander carefully laid him on the bed
and stood back smiling at the picture of innocence the demon presented. Once
again, all was right with Xander's world.
He whipped out a small digital camera and starting snapping pictures at a feverish pace. It never hurt to have a little back up just in case.
"Can I look yet?" Spike was doing his best impersonation of a burrowing creature, a mole maybe, or a badger, nuzzling his way into Xander's side as they cuddled together on the couch.
"No, not yet," Xander hugged the smaller man and placed a kiss on the top of his head, all without moving his eyes from the monster movie playing on the TV.
"Ewww," Xander grimaced as one of the young heroes was devoured by a giant spider. Spike risked a glance which resulted in a "squeak" and more burrowing.
"I told you this was too scary for you. I'm turning it off." Xander made a move towards the remote.
"No, no it's not!" Spike insisted; of course said insistence would have carried more weight if he'd been looking at the screen instead of trying to meld with his boyfriend.
Xander snorted politely and was about to point out the illogic of Spike's position when the doorbell rang. Both men jumped with Xander manfully trying to cover; Spike raised an eyebrow which plainly stated meant, "don't bother".
"Who is it?" Xander called out in a sing song voice. Hellmouth born and raised, Xander wasn't even getting near the front door unless any unexpected callers had a good reason for bothering him at home.
"Messenger Service, got a telegram," came a gruff voice.
Xander edged towards the peephole and peered into the hallway of his apartment building. A pierced and scruffy looking twenty something (something being meant literally here as the messenger was not human) stood outside the door tapping his foot impatiently while rocking out to the sounds of the latest Pearl Jam CD.
Xander shrugged, looked authentic
to him and opened the door. "Hey" Xander nodded in the universal greeting of the
"Back at ya, man; got a telegram here for one Xander Harris, sign here" the messenger presented a clipboard.
Xander scrawled his signature, accepted the telegram and returned the half wave of farewell from the messenger who left in a disorienting puff of smoke.
Coughing slightly, Xander blinked and focused on the paper in hand.
My Dearest Alexander,
Miss Edith has informed me that
my beloved William has been delivered safely into your arms. My gratitude knows
no bounds as I am currently involved in a brief tour of the Continent and would
have been hard pressed to give my boy the care he so desperately needs. Your
kindness is deeply appreciated although I had not foreseen the pangs of
loneliness which would assail me after the departure of my lad. You will be
happy to learn that after much consultation with Miss Edith, I have decided to
briefly stay my travels and visit with you and my dear boy. Please don't trouble
yourself in the slightest. I
shall make all the necessary arrangements. Miss Edith and I shall be arriving by rail on the evening of the fifteenth of the month with only a minimum of luggage. I look forward to seeing you both.
Yours in blood,
Xander stared at the telegram, his mind having shut down somewhere after "You will be happy to learn". Spike watched his boyfriend worriedly. The lad hadn't said a word and now was calmly walking over to the desk and pulling out the Yellow Pages.
"Xander, what's wrong, Who's the
telegram from?" Xander didn't reply; he simply held out the paper and continued
flipping through the phone book until he hit the 'M's' before picking up the
phone and dialing. Spike, meanwhile had scanned the telegram, and if possible
had gone paler than was usual for the blonde vampire. His deer in the headlights
gaze locked onto
the strangely calm human like a drowning man to a life preserver.
"You Got It Maid Service? Yeah, I need your Mother-In-Law special." Xander said in brisk tone. "Yeah, that would be a rush. She's arriving tomorrow night; fumigation?" This last question was directed at Spike.
The men surveyed the room: the pile of laundry in the corner that they kept meaning to get to, the pizza boxes from last week still sitting on the counter, the Johnny Does Dallas video tapes 1-4 in a pile by the television. Spike nodded his head.
"Yup, fumigation it is. Yeah, keys under the mat, we'll be back by six, thanks." Xander hung up and opened his arms wide to receive worried boyfriend.
"I'm sorry pet. She just worries you know and then she gets these ideas into her head. I blame Miss Edith. She's always been a bad influence." Spike whispered against his human's chest.
"Riiiight " Xander patted his distraught lover. "I'm thinking Miss Edith has a lot to answer for ?"
"You gonna tell the Slayer?" Spike gave him a timid look from under long lashes.
"Got to sweetheart but not to worry; we'll do our best to keep 'Mum' out of trouble while she's here." Xander stated with more confidence than he felt.
Spike, knowing his Dark Princess, tried to look supportive.
"Hey, how hard can it be?" Xander asked rashly.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The train arrived and Drusilla descended the stairway sporting a flowered extravaganza of a hat that would have made the Queen Mother proud. She stopped on the bottom step waving regally to the bemused railway patrons and Scoobies assembled on the platform before hopping nimbly to the ground. Behind her stood two minions straining under the weight of three trunks, four hat boxes, Miss Edith and a cockatoo named Bernice.
The Scoobies (aside from Spike)
stood in gape mouthed awe. To be sure, they'd never seen Drusilla arrive in a
town before but still. Willow quickly scanned the train with magic and was
relieved to find no dead bodies on board, thank goodness.
Xander and Spike moved forward to be kissed and petted. Dru exclaimed over her 'baby's' improved looks and pinched Xander's cheek in gratitude. That it happened to not be the cheek on his face caused a little stir but he gamely smiled through it.
Buffy and Willow were greeted politely (Dawn having been left at home just in case), and Drusilla tut tutted over the Slayer's remonstrations that there be no trouble in her town.
"You won't even know I'm here" she stated gaily.
The Scoobies looked unconvinced. Xander, always quick to regain his equilibrium, stepped forward.
"So Drusilla, where you staying " Xander inquired politely pulling out the keys to his truck, more than willing to give her a ride. Dru blinked and looked cutely confused. Spike mentally groaned, recognizing that look.
"Why with you of course pet " She patted his bum. "Is that your car?" She chirped, tripping gaily to the SUV, politely ignoring Xander's fish out of water impersonation.
Spike hurried forward to open the car door, settling both her and Miss Edith into their seats before helping the minions to store the luggage and Bernice before turning back and leading his still flummoxed lover to the car.
"There, there pet, don't you fret; everything will be fine, you'll see " Spike soothed the human. Xander whimpered softly in reply while Spike gently removed the keys from his hand and strapped him into the front passenger seat.
Buffy and Willow shared a look of commiseration and a forlorn wave with their still traumatized friend before he was driven away.
One Week Later
The Scoobies were once again assembled to see Drusilla off, although this time it was at the Sunnydale docks. Xander didn't think he'd ever be able to sit down again; his rear-end having been pinched, patted, and petted into submission. His apartment now sported chintz curtains and enough dollies to make the Bronte sisters green with envy if they weren't all ready dead.
He was still reeling in a potpourri daze and sporting a bandaged nose from a vicious round of hand to feather combat with Bernice. Darn it, he knew he could have taken her if Spike hadn't stepped in; his pride still smarting from the loss. But it was all worth it; Spike was clasping his hand and looking up at him in absolute adoration. Buffy had given him the thumbs up sign several times that week crediting Xander with Drusilla's good behavior and Willow promised she'd find a way to get the scent of rosewater out of his Fruit of the Looms from one of Drusilla's adventures in cleaning.
"I had a wonderful time pets, absolutely wonderful," Dru kissed them both one last time, pouted only a little when Buffy found and released the 'snack' Dru had hidden in one of her trunks, sending the young man scurrying home, and ascended the gangplank with a jaunty wave.
"Adieu mes enfants " she called while casting streamers from the deck. Bernice cackled evilly.
"Bye Dru," Spike waved a little sadly. Xander wept in relief.
"Until next year "she called as the ship pulled out of port. Luckily only Spike was able to hear it, his smile never faltered.
"What?" Xander asked coming out of his daze. "What was that?"
"Nothing pet, nothing at all " Spike said reassuringly before kissing him softly. "Let's go home."