Thunder rolled across a clear night sky. A flash of lightning struck the ground in one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries. When the smoke drifts away with the smell of scorched earth and concrete, a single figure stands silhouetted against a new moon.
"I can not believe I'm stuck with you again."
"You think I'm happy about it. Cause I just soo look forward to watching you and demon girl drool on each other."
"What was that?"
"Anya'a gone. She had some kinda freaky dream and left. Said something about not belonging here and knowing how to thank me for being nice to her, then she took off."
"What do you think she's gonna give you?"
"She said something about helping me find my destined mate. With my luck praying mantis woman will be showing up any minute now."
"You don't have much luck with females do you pet?"
Spike and Xander walked from Giles' apartment to Xander's basement. They argued the whole way. But it was the friendly and funny and they were both chuckling and cracking smiles by the time they got to Xander's. The mortal didn't really mind having Spike as a houseguest, just like he hadn't really minded when Anya left. She was one of the best friends he ever had and he would always have feelings for her, but they had never really loved each other. The ex-demon had needed someone to help her learn to be human, and Xander had needed...someone.
For his part, Spike was happy to be out of the watcher's house. Of all the places he'd had to stay since he got the implant Xander's was his favorite. The boy never tied him up anymore, he never threatened not to feed him as a punishment, and he was always fun to talk to. The blonde had already decided that when the chip came out he wouldn't kill the boy. The idea of a world without a Xander Harris in it to argue with just felt wrong.
"Well, look what just strolled on to the menu."
"What the fuck?"
Leaning against the porch of Xander's house was...Xander. Except this Xander had fangs. Bloody fangs.
"You must be this world's me. Still human I see. But what's this? Consorting with vampires? What would your parents say? Oh wait, they won't say anything...they're dead."
"You're the me from the place where Wil's a vamp. You killed my parents?"
"Yep. What no screaming grief? No sobbing and begging?"
"No. If your me, you know I have no reason to mourn them."
"Why didn't you kill them then?"
"Because he's one of the good guys. It's in the rule book. No parent killing."
"So who are you blondie?"
"Spike, whelp. Get off the porch, If you're seen the police's think Dander snuffed mums and diadems."
"And you care because?"
"It's a little hard to enjoy my property when it's in jail."
Spike put himself between the vampire and the boy. It was obvious he was claiming Dander as his. Vamp Dander was not happy, but Spike had the advantage of age and the other vampire didn't know about the implant. He felt Xander pull out a stake as Vamp Xander stalked closer to them. The boy pressed himself against Spike's back and put the stake in the blonde's hand. Vamp Xander tried to walk behind Spike and the blonde sank the stake into his chest. Just under his heart.
When Vamp Xander woke up he was chained to a chair in a crypt. He could hear voices somewhere close by, but the chunk of wood still sticking out of his chest made it kind of hard to focus on anything but the pain radiating throughout his body.
"Thanks for not killing him. It'd be really weird to watch me turn to dust."
"Might be fun. Still, I thought the moron and the bimbo might want to have a chat with him."
"Yeah. I'll go get Giles and Buffy, you stay with me..I mean him, I mean him that's me but not..."
Spike watched the boy head off with a fond smile. The truth was he wanted to have a talk with his guest. The other vampire smelled of Xander's demon girl, and he wanted to know why.
"You came here for him didn't you?"
"How'd ya guess?"
"Talk. Or the Slayer will need a hoover to send you back home."
"No home to go to. The girl said I could fix things here. I figured if I couldn't have what I wanted, at least some me somewhere should."
"The girl? Fix what? What are you on about?"
"In my universe the Master turned me, then I turned Willow. Things were cool. I was the Master's right hand and Willow did whatever I told her to. Then we caught Puppy, the guy you call Angel. We'd only had him about a month when his childe showed up to get him. You and a complete nutbag named Druscilla. Wil killed her right off, but you were smart. You played the Master like a fucking virtuoso. By the time you were done he was ready to stake Wil and give me to you. In fact he did give me to you. For four months you owned me. But it wasn't what I thought. There was no torture, no rape, you didn't even beat the shit out of me. You taught me. You made sure no one would ever fuck with me again. And then you made me yours."
"You're not from the world the vampire Willow was from."
"No, but my world is somewhere between that one and this one. I killed Wil when she tried to move against you. We killed the Master together. Angel was free, Sunnydale was safe, and you and I were mated. It's funny, but in some laces time works differently. In my world we were together for six centuries. I can count on one hand the number of times I didn't fall asleep in your arms. We... my mate and I were happy. We stayed away from the world, fed on the refuse of human society....murderers, rapists, thieves. Only the ones that wouldn't attract attention. We moved through the world like shadows, and we were happy. Three days ago you were staked by a slayer. It was dumb luck that we crossed paths with her, she wasn't even looking for us. I ripped her throat. Didn't feed from her though, it wasn't about that. Angel felt you die. He found me when I was about to walk into a sunrise. He wouldn't let me do it. He and Doyle have been watching me constantly, but then this girl showed up in a dream. She tells me about this world's Xander and how he's like I used to be. She tells me that in two days his father is gonna beat him to death if someone doesn't stop it. I stopped it. Now I just have one thing left to do. I have to make you understand that you and Xander belong together."
Spike was silent as he watched tears roll down the other vampire's face. He new from the other's scent that everything he'd been told was true. For a moment he tried to imagine six centuries with Xander as his mate. It was a new thought, and a good one. He was about to say something when footsteps interrupted him.
"I couldn't find Buffy or Giles, but I did find the spell to send him back. So, can you do a magic thing or do I need to hunt up Wil?"
"We're not doing any spell."
"His time's almost up pet. When the sun comes up he'll be taking a stroll."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Xander, it's my choice. It's what I want."
"Because...you know that dorky saying about loving and losing? Well, it's true...but the losing's kinda hard to get over. There's nothing in my world for me to go back to."
They sat together in silence after that. When the sun came up Spike unchained the other vampire. He hugged Xander and walked outside. The boy moved to follow hum but Spike pulled him back. When a breeze blew a whirl of dust through the cracks in the crypt door Xander started to cry Spike never hesitated. He pulled the boy into his arms and held him. By the time Xander stopped sobbing he was sitting on the blonde's lap with his head tucked under the other man's chin.
"Hush luv. Rest now, we have a lot to talk about tonight."
"He was wearing you coat. A leather coat just like yours."
"I know. Hush now, I'll explain everything later."
"I'm gonna owe Anya a thank you aren't I?"
"We both will luv. Now go to sleep. I want you well rested by tonight."
Xander did what he was told. That night Spike told him everything. And by the next morning, they needed to rest.