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by Gypsy Gray

A raspy little tongue tickled the end of Spike's chin. Opening his eyes, the Master Vampire sat up and scooped the bundle of fur into his arms. A tiny black kitten snuggled into his chest and purred against his cool skin. The blonde smiled down at the tiny creature and scratched between it's ears. After a few contented moments it stretched, nipped his chin gently, and jumped down. Spike watched as the cat stared at the locked door and it slowly swung open. The kitten calmly walked through the door and it swung closed behind him. Not a sound was made during the entire process. 

The vampire stood and pulled on his jeans. He paused long enough to light a smoke and then got back into bed. With his legs stretched out in front of him and his back braced against the headboard, the blonde closed his eyes and waited for his lover to show him what was happening. This was a very useful trick, but one they didn't do often. 

Xander's knack for turning into different kinds of felines was truly amazing. You name the cat and he could be it. Few people or demons pay attention to stray cats, and if said cat can allow his vampire lover to see and hear what he does...well so much the better. Xandercat was a terrific spy. The problem stemmed from the fact that their connection ran both ways; Xander could hear and see what Spike did. In order to prevent confusion, Spike had to be somewhere dark and quiet. 

It was just after dawn, and Xander had obviously decided that they needed to know what the Scooby Gang was up to. Spike agreed. Taking a deep drag off his cigarette, the vampire placed it in the ashtray by the bed and let Xander run the show.

~~~~~~~~Through Xandercat's Eyes~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy sat up and groaned at the pain in her head. Willow hurried over with a cup of tea and began cooing to the Slayer. She paused every now and then to shoot angry glares at Giles. The ex-watcher ignored her. He sat in the same chair he had the night before and stared at nothing. 

Strolling into the room, Xandercat calmly leapt into Giles' lap and settled down to watch the two women. He felt his lover's surprise at his choice of seating, but the fact was that in this form he was a cat. And no cat worth his whiskers ever ignored an empty lap. 

Giles reached down and began to stroke the tiny kitten's back. He had no idea where the animal came from, but it was soft and warm and he really needed a little comfort now. Though the Gods and Goddesses knew he didn't deserve it. He hadn't meant to hurt Xander. He hadn't even realized what he was doing until a week after the boy left. That was when he allowed himself to acknowledge what he knew all along. Xander was gone. And he had loved him. But Ethan...always Ethan. And thank the Powers that Xander had found his way in the world, found a home and a family...and someone to love him. He deserved it. The Englishman felt the small black bundle of fur begin to purr and he scratched between it's ears. The ex-watcher decided at that moment that he was leaving Sunnydale.

Xandercat did his best not to smirk at his mate's laughter. It's a little known fact that cat's are strong empaths; being able to both receive and send emotions. As a human, Xander knew Giles' pain and regret were real. As a cat, he felt them as his own. For the sake of the love he once felt for this man he was using his own cat abilities of projected empathy to heal some of the injury to the older man's heart and soul. It was by no means enough to repair the damage so many years of grief and loss had done, but it was enough to make him see that he needed to seek help. It was Spike's idea to let him know that Sunnydale wasn't the place to find it. 

Slipping their combined influence from Giles' mind, Xandercat guided himself and Spike into the minds of the Slayer and the Witch. Willow was easy. She was angry at being denied the magic that Xander welded, jealous that he was sharing that magic with Wesley, furious that the ex-watcher beat her with such a simple spell, and trying to judge just how close to the edge she could push Giles. The man had books she wanted to see that he had kept locked away from her, she intended to try for them now...when she saw him as weakened.

The combined being pulled away from the witch with disgust. Shaking his furry head and sneezing in distaste, the tiny cat mewed his unhappiness and kneaded Giles' legs with sharp little claws. 

"Ow. Careful little fellow, those are sharp." The older man ran a soothing hand down the little cat's back and found his attention drawn to Willow. He would have to watch her carefully. Now would be the time she would try for the books. The spells in them were powerful and rare, and she was far gone enough now to be willing to do just about anything for them. The magic had her completely. For a moment he felt guilt overwhelming him. He should have protected her. But then it seemed to be pushed away by something he hadn't felt in a long time...Ripper. 

Xandercat let Spike feel his uncertainty. Warning Giles about Willow was one thing, but letting Ripper slip his leash to beat back the guilt was another. Still, it'd be nice to see Giles put the little witch in her place. And the ex-watcher needed to deal with the baggage Ripper was holding for him anyway. Purring softly, he pressed himself closer to Giles and waited until he felt arms wrap around him. For this next part he wanted all the security and protection he could get. Ripper would never allow the Witch or the Slayer to harm him. Giles had even protected him from them when necessary.

Buffy's mind was a dark writhing mass of emotion. Jealousy, anger, hatred, cruelty, and bitterness all danced together in her soul. Her thoughts were all for herself. How dare Xander try and hurt her?! Who the hell did Wesley think he was?! Oz had no right to choose the others over what she wanted! His place was with Willow, helping her do what the Slayer wanted. Angel was hers!!! Doyle would need to be gotten rid of, he was a demon. Spike would die!! Why wasn't Riley there!?! He should be hovering over her and feeling stupid for letting her get hurt. They would pay!! Xander would stop being a fool and comeback to where he her beck and call. Angel would come back too. The others could be dealt with. Easily.

Spike pulled them from the Slayer's mind. He felt Xander's rage, and while he wanted to make the bitch suffer too, his mate wasn't ready for the consequences of killing her. Especially not while he was inside tat cesspool she called a mind. . The vampire pushed to the front of their joined minds and pulled Xander back to him. They knew what was going to happen now. The Slayer and the Witch would soon come to a head. Then one would kill the other, it was of no importance which of them lived or died to Spike. Angel had told him yesterday that Faith would be getting out of jail soon. She was a new woman. She was the Slayer she was meant to be. Buffy's death would mean another would be called to help Faith. Willow could be easily dealt with. And if she were killed, well the Slayer wouldn't last long without the Scoobies to back her up. And they were gone now. 

Xandercat leaped into his lover's lap and stretched and shifted until he was just Xander again. When the form of the cat slipped away, so too did the connection between their minds. Each back to being themselves they sought comfort in soft kisses and then in sleep. As difficult as the past few days had been, what was to come would be worse. It would begin when the Slayer saw that Riley was no longer hers, and that would happen as soon as the ex-commando showed himself. The change in him would be obvious, even to her.