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Poetic Justice was nominated in
the Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards

Nominated in Round 5 for:
Best New Author, Best Characterization (Harmony),
Best Pairing - Unconventional (Spike/Xander, obviously), and Best Series.

Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Spike/Xander (pre-slash)
Spoilers: Takes place post-Chosen, and is selectively canon to AtS season 5.
Notes: This is WAY pre-slash, but I've got an entire universe planned out in my head and it won't stop yapping until it comes out. There will be prequels, and there will be sequels. Don't whine.
Warning: Character death, kinda. If you pay attention to my occasional rantings, you probably know who and how.
Thanks: To 'ze betas, [info] altyronsmaker and [info]laazikaat, who both did a beta after this had been posted. Thanks so much for making this better!!

Poetic Justice


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Part One

"This is bloody stupid."

"And I don't think you've said that quite enough times. Let's get one more for posterity." Angel glanced away from his window as the jet descended.

"This is bloody stupid. Chasing halfway 'round the world because some seers from your evil law firm said so."

"You're the one that agreed to come, Spike."


Angel rolled his eyes as the private jet touched the ground. "You just keep telling yourself that you're here against your will. You're the one that followed me onto the plane, and annoyed me all the way here."

Spike looked smug as he stood. "An' did a fine job of it, too, didn't I?"

Angel repressed the urge to sigh as he and Spike hopped off the jet. "Great. Miles of sand to comb-" he cut himself off as the wind shifted, bringing the unmistakable scent of blood to their attention. Throwing quick glances at each other, they headed east.

"I thought we were tracking down yet another vampire with a soul," Spike said, shoving his hands in the pockets of his duster. "Why am I smelling death?"

"You know a soul doesn't necessarily make you a good vampire," Angel muttered. "Besides, the seers only said that whoever it is got their soul, and then never left. We don't know what happened before they got their soul - or who they are, how old they are -"



Spike pointed to what had appeared to be a small pile of rocks. "Lots of soul-popping caves in Africa, apparently."

Angel and Spike quickly made their way to the hidden cave, the scent of blood getting stronger as they drew closer. Almost immediately after they entered, they found a young woman's body, her throat clearly torn and ripped by a vampire.

"She was running," Spike said, throwing a cautious look around him. "From whatever's in here."

"Here's another one," Angel said, walking farther back into the cave. He bent over and flipped the second woman onto her back. "Also dead."

Spike walked up behind Angel and spotted the body, which was much more battered than the first. His eyes widened in recognition as her face came into his line of sight. "Also Kennedy."

"Also what?"

"A Slayer, one of the new ones. Red's girl, last I heard," Spike glanced around the cave. "What the hell was she doin' here?"

"What Slayers do. Protecting people." Angel walked over to the wall, where they found a third victim and a set of chains. "Looks like they were trying to restrain whoever this vampire is, and didn't get it done on time," Angel said.

"Yeah, but..." Spike turned around and looked at Kennedy's body. "She was annoying as hell, but Kennedy'd sooner stake a vamp than tie 'em down. Unless it was someone she knew... oh, bloody hell."

"What is it?"

Spike didn't answer, only ventured father into the dark cave. He ducked to avoid the low ceiling, trying to ignore the growing pit of apprehension in his gut.

"There." Angel walked past Spike as a figure came into view. The young man in front of them was sitting with his back flat against the cave wall, his legs stretched out in front of him. His hands laid limp on the ground, and his head fell to the side. An eye patch covered one eye, but his other was wide open, staring sightlessly. He would have resembled a marionette whose strings had been cut, if it hadn't been for the blood smeared on his face and arms, and the chest rising and falling out of habit.

"Oh, bloody hell," Spike repeated, standing frozen behind Angel.

"Xander?" Angel's voice was laced with disbelief.

Xander's eye finally flicked up to Angel. "Great. You're exactly who I want to see," he said flatly. He looked past Angel and directly at Spike, and blinked. "Wow. The fates must really be conspiring against me. They send me the two people I least want to see right now. Pretty impressive, considering you're supposed to be a pile of dust at the bottom of the Sunnydale crater."

"Harris," Spike said, pushing past Angel. "What the hell happened?"

"So would you call this irony?" Xander asked, ignoring Spike's question.. "Or poetic justice?"

"What are you talking about?"

Xander let out a short, sharp laugh. "Isn't it obvious? You two, the vampires with souls. I hated you, poked fun at you every chance that I had. Hell, I tried to kill you, Spike."

"That was before I had a soul."

"But I didn't have a very good reason."

"True," Spike agreed half-heartedly. He bent at the knees so he could look at Xander face to face. "But what are you yammerin' on about? How is this poetic justice?"

Xander sighed. "I hated you two just for being what you are, and now I'm the same thing as you." He glanced up at Angel, who was studying Xander through narrowed eyes. "Speaking of which, either of you have any clue as to why I seem to have a soul? Or am I just a really confused demon?"

"You're Xander," Angel said, finally speaking up. "No doubt about that."

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Thanks," he said dryly. "Anyone know why?"

"We don't know, but it would help if you told us what happened here," Spike said again, his tone insistent.

Xander giggled, high and bordering on hysterical. "I died."

"I can see that." Spike paused. "I'm sorry."

"Well, I didn't actually die here. I died somewhere else. They must have found me and brought me here."

"An' what happened then?"

Xander jerked, pulling his knees up to his chest, the first real movement they had seen him make since they entered the cave. "Please don't. Don't make me."

"Don't make you what?"

"Remember." Xander pressed his palm to his good eye. The movement made the smell of the copper hit his nose, and he jerked again, rubbing at the flaking blood on his arms furiously. "I did this. God, I did this. Please don't make me remember."

"It wasn't you, not exactly," Spike said, grabbing Xander's hand to stop him from tearing his own skin off. "It was the demon."

"You're wrong." Xander closed his eye, knocking his head back against the cave wall. "I woke up. I mocked Kennedy. I made fun of her, hit her a bunch of times, and then I killed her." Xander pried his hand away from Spike and buried his fingers in his hair, slightly longer than Spike remembered. "Oh, God. I killed Kennedy. I killed Willow's girlfriend. She's gonna go all black-haired and veiny and try to destroy the world again and who's gonna stop her this time I stopped her last time but this time the yellow crayon isn't gonna work because I'm the one that killed-"


Xander sniffed, taking an unnecessary breath. "I killed Kennedy, and then I was me again. That was when I got my soul, or when I realized I had it."

"There now, you see? You didn't-"

"And then I killed Nanyamka and Chinua." Xander's arms folded around himself, and he tucked his knees closer to his chin. "I did that. That was me, with the soul." He buried his head in his knees, muffling his voice. "Neither of you did that when you got your souls. Well, except for when the First was fucking with your mind, Spike..."

"What was that?" Angel looked sharply at Spike.

"Later," Spike hissed, glaring daggers at his sire. He quickly turned his head back to Xander.

"It just hurt so much..." Xander was muttering.

"What hurt?"

"Like... my veins were on fire. Like I was burning up from the inside. But I was so cold at the same time..."

"That's hunger. That's what hunger's gonna feel like from now on."

"I'm not gonna go crazy every time I'm hungry, am I?"

"No. Only when true bloodlust takes over, but you'll learn to control that."

Xander finally raised his head to meet Spike's eyes. "Good, because I think it's starting to hurt again."

"Again? You just had a bloody feast a few hours ago." Spike immediately regretted his words as Xander whimpered and pulled farther into himself.

"Oh, God... I ate them. I fucking ate three people, and I'm still hungry."

"Looks like your appetite hasn't changed from what it was when you were human, then." Spike's words weren't mocking, and they oddly uncrimped something in Xander's stomach. He relaxed slightly, sagging against the cave wall as he watched Spike roll up the sleeve of his duster. Why was he wearing a coat, anyway? They were in fricking Africa. He was shaken from his thoughts as Spike's wrist was suddenly thrust in front of his face. "Drink," Spike said, not quite understanding why he was offering.

"Spike..." Angel's voice had a warning tone to it. Spike ignored him.

Xander was shaking his head. "No. What if I can't stop, like last time?"

Spike smirked. "You really think I won't be able to stop you?" He reached out with his other hand, skirting over Xander's forehead with his fingertips. "C'mon. Let's see your new face, Xander."

Xander closed his eye. He either let go, or grabbed onto something tighter, and felt his fangs drop into place. It was a strange sensation - they made his mouth feel heavy, but he felt stronger. Powerful.

Spike took an unnecessary breath as Xander opened a single golden eye. He was sharp, angular, and positively striking. The eye patch didn't fit right anymore with the ridges, so Spike reached up and pulled it off. "We'll get you a better one," Spike said, his voice barely above a whisper. "Made 'specially for you." He held his wrist closer to the fledgling's mouth. "Now drink."

Xander stared at the wrist for only a moment before reaching out and pulling it closer. A shiver went down Spike's spine as Xander's lips ghosted over the skin, and then opened to allow sharp, new fangs to pierce through. He felt the familiar tugging sensation that was more pleasure than pain as Xander drank. Xander heard a faint growl, more animal than human, and finally realized it was coming from himself. He pulled the wrist closer, tightly wrapping both of his hands around it.


Spike ignored Angel, or didn't hear him. He weaved his fingers through Xander's hair as he fed. The normal one. Spike felt a wave of sorrow for the boy wash through him.

"Spike!" Angel's shout was enough to distract Xander, who jerked his head up, blood dripping from his fangs.

Xander quickly let his human face fall back into place. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, his expression melting into horror.

"It's okay, Xander," Spike whispered, his fingers still resting on the back of Xander's head. "It's okay."

Angel looked at the two vampires on the ground and sighed. "We have blood on the jet."

"Right," Spike said, still not turning to look at Angel. He turned his bloody wrist in Xander's hands and grasped Xander's own wrist, pulling them both to their feet. Xander stumbled, catching his balance on Spike.

"The sun will be rising soon. We need to get back on the jet." Angel turned on his heel and stalked out of the cave.

Spike twisted so that he was supporting Xander on his shoulder, and they slowly started making their way back through the cave . Xander shot Spike an amused look. "I think I can walk, Spike."

Spike smirked. "But you're just a baby, by our standards." He let Xander stand on his own as they followed Angel, but still kept his arm loosely wrapped around Xander's back. Xander carefully did not let his eyes stray to the bodies littering the ground as they walked through the cave. Spike's grip tightened.

Xander let out another unnecessary breath as they reached the outside. He blinked, turned his head towards Spike, confusion dancing in his eye.

"Uh... a jet? You guys have a jet?"

"Complete with little tiny bottles of liquor that won't get you drunk, no matter how hard you try."

Part Two
Tirer La Couture

"There's no way in hell that I'm calling Giles. And this tastes like shit." Xander slumped in the sofa in Angel's office, glaring down into the mug Harmony had just handed to him.

"That's because it's pig's blood. There's a 'no human blood' rule here. We even get tested."

Xander raised an eyebrow and shot a sideways glance at Spike. "Thats... great, Harmony. Why are you here, again?"

Harmony made a face. "Angel asked me to bring you blood."

"And you couldn't bring him the good stuff?" Spike asked, perching on the arm of the sofa.

Harmony crossed her arms. "Otter is for company employees only, Spike."

"An' you haven't heard that I'm on the payroll now?" Spike sneered. "Bring the boy the good stuff . You can't go straight to pig's filth after drinking Slayer's blood."

Xander winced.

"What?!" Harmony nearly screeched, staring at Xander in disbelief. "You killed a Slayer?"

Xander slumped down farther in the sofa.

"That is so... cool!" Harmony bounced, clapping her hands together. "That just shows how much people can change after high school. I mean, you obviously have changed - just look at you. What happened to your eye, anyway? I mean... a Slayer. You killed a Slayer. That like... puts you in the same league as Spike, doesn't it? Way different than the pathetic, girly way you used to try and protect Buffy-"

"Can we please not talk about this?" Xander leaned forward and put his head in his hands.

Confusion flashed through Harmony's eyes. "What? Why not? You should be proud! You took down something that tries to kill as many of us as possible-"

"Harm!" Spike stood, grabbing the mug out of Xander's hands and thrusting it into Harmony's. "Otter. Now."

Harmony looked from Xander to Spike and back again, and her eyes opened wide in realization. "Oh, my God. You have a soul, don't you?" She made a sound of disappointment. "Are you gonna go boink a Slayer now, too?"

"Good God, no!" Xander groaned.

"What, are souls like, the new fad for boy vampires?"

"Apparently," Xander replied dryly.

"Otter," Spike reminded Harmony in a reprimanding tone.

"Right." Harmony spun on her heel and walked out of the office.

Xander raised his head and looked up at Spike. "You're being very... nice."

Spike almost looked insulted. "I do that sometimes."

"It's not like we ever got along too well."

Spike moved from the arm of the sofa and sat down next to Xander. "S'true. So?"

"So why?"

Spike leaned back and rested his head on the back of the sofa, looking up at the ceiling so Xander wouldn't see the regret in his eyes. He sat in silent contemplation for a moment, wondering exactly how he had gotten where he was, and how much his feelings towards the boy next to him had changed. He realized Xander was still watching him, waiting patiently for an answer. "I may not have liked you, but I... respect you," he finally said hesitantly. "Or I started to, towards the end."

Xander blinked at Spike's honesty. "Really?"

"I mean.... there you were, surrounded by Slayers and potential Slayers, a Watcher, an' a damned powerful witch -"

"-and you," Xander added, smiling slightly.

"An' me," Spike said. "But you still fought. Lost an eye, even, and you kept fighting. You, of all of them. The normal one."

"The one who wasn't chosen," Xander said, nodding. "Yeah, I know. I gave Dawn an uplifting speech about that once."

"An' your fighting skills aren't all that great. Got knocked on your arse more than knocking down the baddies... no offense."

"None taken. S'true."

"But you still fought. An' you seemed to start actually... taking pride in being the 'normal one.'"

Xander shrugged and leaned back, mimicking Spike's position on the sofa. "I guess."

Spike turned his head towards Xander. "You didn't deserve this. I know how much you hate vampires. Been on the receiving end more than a few times."

Xander gave Spike a small smile. "Hated, actually. Very much past tense." He shifted in his seat, not meeting Spike's eyes. "Did I ever thank you for making sure I didn't lose both eyes?"

Spike shook his head. "'S my fault for your losing the one-"

"Shut up. Not your fault. It happened too fast."

"An' I shoulda been faster."

Xander grinned. "Spike, just accept my gratitude. Guilt trips really don't suit you."

Spike lifted his head off of the sofa and studied Xander for a moment before reaching out and tracing a single finger down the strap of Xander's eye patch. "At least it looks good." Xander's eye followed Spike's movement as he dropped his hand. "Gives people a good dangerous impression of ya."

They both sat up as Angel walked into his office. "I've got the phone number to reach Giles, Xander," he said, holding up a small slip of paper between two fingers.

"I already said I'm not calling," Xander said stubbornly. "What the hell am I going to say?"

Angel walked over to his desk and sat down. "Giles would just hang up on me, like he did last time. He doesn't trust me because I'm running Wolfram and Hart. "

"Well, I can't call. They don't even know I'm alive." Spike returned to the arm of the sofa. "I can't call them an' say their favorite boy is dead."

"But they need to know. Willow needs to know that Kennedy-" Xander cut himself off, clenching his teeth. "I can't tell Willow that I killed her girlfriend. There's no way."

"I know you won't believe this, but I bet you're a bit more important to Willow than Kennedy," Spike said. "Kennedy never fired Red up the way Glinda did."

"Who?" Angel shook his head. "Never mind. Wesley will be up in a few minutes. He's casting... something. I think he said it was a trance that lets you see spells, so-"

"Tirer la couture." Angel and Spike looked incredulously at Xander, who shrugged. "What, I can't know things? Buffy used that spell once."

Angel blinked, then continued. "... so we'll know for sure if you were cursed with the soul restoration spell or not."

"But I already told you it wasn't Willow," Xander said insistently. "We had zero communication in Africa, so no one would have known that I needed a soul."

"Can't count on that," Spike said. "Red can do that mind-speak mojo. She's done it to both of us."

"Maybe she could talk in our heads from across Sunnydale, but not from London to Africa," Xander said. "Besides, she promised she wouldn't."

"She... promised?" Angel asked. "Promised she wouldn't give you a soul if you needed one?"

"We talked about it a few years back, and we've all changed since then... but she knew I didn't want to live like that." Xander paused, and looked down at his hands. "Like this."

Xander tensed up when Spike put a hand on his shoulder. "Hate to say this, but Willow has a habit of breaking promises," he said gently. "'specially when it comes to magic."

"Not for a long, long time, though!" Xander exclaimed defensively. "Besides, she knew how important it was to me. I would have rather been dead."

Spike and Angel glanced at each other, and Spike's grip on Xander's shoulder tightened. Xander caught their silent communication. "Oh, don't worry about me," he said quickly. "We were just out of high school, and I really have changed since then. Yeah, I probably still would have made the same choice, if I'd had one, but I'm not going to go throw myself into the sunlight or something." Xander snuck a look at Spike, who didn't look convinced. "It's not as bad as I thought it was. So far." He flashed a quick smile.

Spike narrowed his eyes. "Right. You an' me'll talk about that later."

"Back to the phone call, then?"

"Right," Spike agreed. "I'm not calling."

"Me neither," Angel and Xander said simultaneously.

The three sat in silent contemplation for a moment before the door opened and Wesley entered the office. He shuffled his feet as he moved to close the door and turned to them, his eyes glossy. Spike raised an eyebrow. "You look blasted."

"I'm... in a trance." Wesley slowly moved to the center of the room.

"You don't look very trance-y," Xander said. "You just look stoned."

Wesley blinked a few times. "What?" He squeezed his eyes shut, raising a hand to his forehead. "I'm sorry. This is an odd spell. It's a bit worse than being stoned, I'm afraid." He took a deep breath and opened his eyes again. "Xander, if you would please stand."

Xander got to his feet and shoved his hands in his pockets. "This isn't like x-ray vision or anything, is it? 'Cuz that's an invasion of my privacy." Wesley ignored him and moved closer to Xander, circling around him.

"Maybe... we could send an e-mail?" Angel suggested as Wesley looked Xander up and down.

"To Giles? Oh, that's tactful," Spike said cynically.

"This is... interesting," Wesley said as he backed up a few steps. He looked to Spike, then to Angel, and back at Xander again.

"What is it, Wes?" Angel asked.

"All three of you have traces of magic around you, but they're all different," Wesley said. "Yours is the strongest, Angel, but it's unstable - like it could become undone."

"If I get happy. We know that," Angel said, sounding impatient. "So Xander doesn't have the curse?"

"No. It's more similar to the magic around Spike, but it's... purer, maybe?" Wesley tilted his head to the side as he studied Xander. "Spike's is deeper, like it came from a dark place."

"Well, I made a deal with a demon to get my soul," Spike said. "Probably would be a tad dark."

"Mmm, yes. Makes sense." Wesley closed his eyes, gasping as he snapped out of the trance. "Well, that was... not helpful."

"Found out what we needed, didn't we?" Spike said, standing up off the sofa. "Boy don't have the curse, so no worries about him not gettin' any." He slung his arm around Xander's shoulders.

Xander glanced at Spike, who was grinning widely at him. "Uh... good to know, but that is so not on the top of my list of priorities right now, Spike."

Spike released Xander, shrugging. "Shame. Demon girl always said you were a 'viking in the sack,' an' you were human then." And the girl was over a thousand years old, so I know her word was good. "I'll bet you you're ten times better now. Vampires are fantastic fighters and fuckers." His voice sounded proud, and his eyes flicked down Xander's body and back up.

Xander stared at Spike, silently grateful for the fact that vampires didn't blush. "Are you... leering at me?"

Spike smirked. "Maybe."

"Right," Angel said loudly, looking back to Wesley. "Any theories on how Xander got his soul, then?"

Wesley shook his head. "Not yet. I'll start looking into it, though." He turned back towards the door, jumping back when it nearly swung open into his face. Harmony poked her head around the door, brandishing Xander's mug.

"Otter!" she said cheerfully. "Warmed up to perfection."

"Oh, thank God," Xander said, grabbing the mug from her hands.

"Rude, much?" Harmony pouted as he threw his head back, chugging the blood down in four swift gulps. When he finished his demon was showing, and he studied the inside of the empty mug.

Angel was watching Xander, and he looked closely at Xander's vampire face for the first time. "Wait a minute." He stood from his desk, swiftly closing the gap between him and Xander. "Leave your demon out for a second."

"What? Why?"

Angel didn't answer, only leaned closer to Xander and studied his ridges and fangs. "Spike... are you seeing what I see?"

"What're you talking 'bout, Peaches?"

"Come look at this."

"Seen his face already," Spike said, agitated, but he moved next to Angel to look at Xander's face. "Won't see anything..." he trailed off, his irritation melting into surprise. " I'll be damned."

"What? What is it? Is something wrong with me?" Xander looked back and forth from Spike to Angel.

"Nothing's wrong, boy. It's just..." Spike shook his head. "I don't believe it."

"Believe what?"

"Xander, do you know who your sire is?" Angel asked, crossing his arms.

Xander shifted his face back to human, biting his lower lip. "I was wondering when we'd get to that."

"Who is it?"

Xander sighed and leaned back against the wall, threading his fingers through his hair. "Drusilla."

Silence fell, and the three souled vampires stared at each other before Harmony finally clucked her tongue.

"That Drusilla skank really gets around, doesn't she?"

Part Three
Take You Away


Xander's fists landed on the punching bag again and again, his features frozen in a twisted snarl. His movements were jerky, powered only by pure emotion. Crack. It had been three weeks since he'd left Africa. Crack. Crack. Three weeks since he had died. Crack. Three weeks since his bloodlust had completely taken him over, leading him to murder three people. Crack. Crack. Crack.

"You're finally startin' to look like a vampire."

Xander paused, stilling the swinging bag with both hands. His fingers nearly tore into the vinyl as he glared at the bag. "Because of my sudden urge to beat something up?" He shrugged sadly and turned towards Spike. "I can't tell if that's the demon in me, or if it's just all my pent-up frustration coming out."

Spike crossed his arms, taking a few steps into the circular training room and coming to a stop beside Xander. "Probably a bit of both, but I was talking about your skin." He reached out and grasped Xander's wrist, examining the white skin on the underside. "Tan's almost gone. You'll be just as pale as me n' Peaches soon."

Xander sighed, pulling his hand away from Spike. "Great. So then I'll not only feel dead, I'll look dead, too."

Spike tilted his head to the side, studying Xander through narrowed eyes. "What's wrong?" he asked finally.

Xander shrugged and looked at the ground, stuffing his hands in his pockets. "It's just... I never really noticed my heart beating, but now that it's not, I can feel it." He raised his head and stared at Spike, but his eye seemed to be looking right through the other vampire. "I can feel it not beating. How weird is that?" His tone was flat, emotionless.

Spike watched Xander thoughtfully. "Might be because your body never had a chance to adjust to the demon before the soul took over."


Spike studied Xander for another moment before moving to the other side of the punching bag. He grasped either side of it, holding it still, and gestured for Xander to continue his workout. "C'mon. Tell me what's got you in a snit, then."

Xander blinked. "Besides the obvious?"

"Even the obvious needs to be said. Let it all out, Xander."

Xander hesitated only for a moment before moving back towards the punching bag. He hit it once half-heartedly. "I've got too many questions."

"Harder. What kind of questions?"

Xander hit the punching bag again, putting a bit more power into it. "Millions of stupid, pointless questions that I really don't need to know the answers to." Xander sniffed, and smacked the bag a few more times, the strength growing harder with each strike. Crack. Crack. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Spike's boots slide back from the force of his hits, and he felt a kind of satisfaction rise up in him as he continued his assault. "Like what you were saying about my tan. If I got into a tanning bed, would I catch on fire since it's simulated sunlight, or would I actually get a tan?" Crack. "Or if I went up into space, would I catch on fire there, 'cuz - hello, sun? Kinda hard to avoid in space." Crack. Crack.

Spike raised an eyebrow and shifted, keeping the punching bag still so Xander could continue his attack. "Can't say I know the answer to that, but Fred might know." He paused. "Why would you want to go into space, anyway?"

Crack. "I don't!" Xander exclaimed. "That's why it's so pointless. I don't plan on tanning - I never did when I was alive, so why would I start now?" Crack. "Not to mention 'Vampires in Outer Space' just sounds like a horrible idea for a sci-fi flick." Crack.

"Been done already, anyway."

Xander paused and stared at Spike incredulously. "You're kidding."

"Nah. Bad movie of the late 60's."

"Did they catch on fire?"

Spike chuckled. "If they had, it woulda been a bloody short movie."

"It explains why it was never a classic."

Spike shook his head, smiling wryly as he stepped away from the punching bag. "What else?"

"What else what?"

"Can't be alien vampires that's got you all worked up." Spike cracked his neck and took a few steps towards Xander. "What other questions you got?" he asked, putting his hand out and beckoning Xander to come at him.

"You want me to fight you?" Xander laughed. "Spike... newfound vampire strength or not, you'll still kick my ass."

Spike threw a punch towards a surprised Xander, which he easily avoided. "Killed two Slayers and one of the watchers-in-training, didn't you? Let's see what you've got." He threw another punch and watched Xander's expression melt into fury as he grabbed Spike's arm using reflexes he didn't know he had.

"Now there's a good question." Xander pushed Spike away, snarling. "A newbie vamp kills two Slayers in less than thirty seconds? How the hell did I do that? How does any vampire do that?"

"Never been done before, that's for sure." Spike quickly regained his footing and began circling Xander. "But it's easy to see how."

Xander finally lashed out at Spike with a flurry of punches which were all easily blocked, but forced him back a few steps. "Tell me how, then," Xander hissed, shifting his feet and kicking high, aiming for Spike's chest. Spike caught Xander's foot between both of his hands and twisted, throwing Xander face-first into the ground. Xander quickly flipped over and twisted his legs in a circle, catching Spike behind the knees. Spike fell beside Xander, who rolled up on top and pinned him down. "Tell me why the Zeppo donut-boy makes such a fantastic killer," he said, his voice cracking with a combination of fury and sadness as he leaned over Spike's neck.

Spike bucked, throwing Xander off of him, and they both got to their feet. They started circling, stalking each other. "Is that still how you see yourself?" Spike asked quietly. Xander leapt towards Spike, only to find his momentum used against him as Spike caught him and threw him against the wall. Faster than Xander could turn to face his opponent, Spike had him pinned. "I see a boy who fought beside the Slayer for seven years. You watched her, learned from her. Figured out what makes a Slayer tick." He spun Xander around and quickly pinned him again, their faces so close that Spike's nose brushed up against Xander's cheek as he leaned in to whisper in his ear. "You knew how to make them weak." He released Xander and took a step back. "You were able to kill the Slayers so easily beacuse of who you were."

Xander's anger slipped away from him as he slid to the ground. "And that's not who I am anymore, is it?" The question was more like a statement, and Spike could not remember a time that Xander sounded so broken. "Even with the soul, I'll never be the person I was before."

Spike looked at Xander's blank face, and was forcibly reminded of the young, confused vampire he and Angel had found in the cave. "Got a demon inside you now." He reached down and dragged Xander to his feet, forcing him to stand on his own. "It wants to fight. It wants to kill. Don't deny it." Spike let his own demon out with a growl, his face shifting into the familiar visage. "Let it out and fight me."

Xander was shaking his head. "No. I can't."

Spike punched Xander in the jaw. "You mean you won't."

Xander took the hit, his head snapping to the side. He stared at Spike in shock. "Spike-"

Spike struck him again. "The demon wants to fight."

"I'm not the demon!" Xander shouted in frustration.

"Yes, you are!" Spike hit him once more, and Xander finally proved his words true as he turned his face back towards Spike, his demon out and snarling.

Xander leapt at Spike, colliding with him with a strength Spike hadn't expected. His fist struck the underside of Spike's jaw, and Spike flew across the training room, landing on his back. "The demon isn't Xander Harris," Xander said as he stalked towards Spike, careful calculation in his stride. "It's different from you, Spike. It's more like Angel than you." He reached Spike where he laid and stood over top of him, a leg on each side. "You asked for your soul. You accepted it willingly. My demon didn't." He reached down and grabbed Spike by his duster, pulling him up to face him. "The demon doesn't want the soul. It hates the soul. I can feel it." Spike shifted, trying to get free from Xander's hold, and he struck Spike across the face. "And it wants more than the fight." His voice was dripping with malice, and his single golden eye almost seemed to be glowing. "Do you know what else it wants, Spike?"

"No." Spike thrust his arms up and broke Xander's grip on his duster, getting back on his feet. "Why don't you tell me?"

Xander grinned maniacally, and Spike couldn't help but admire Xander's demon as the younger vampire came at him once more. "I don't exactly know why it is," Xander said as he threw punch after punch at Spike, all of which were matched and returned. "Maybe it's because Drusilla sired both of us. Maybe it's because you gave it to me willingly." Xander finally caught one of Spike's punches and spun around, twisting Spike's arm behind his back. "I don't know what it is about you, but..." Xander leaned in and inhaled deeply, savoring Spike's scent. "... your blood was more delicious than the blood of a Slayer." He pulled Spike closer to him, wrapping his other arm around Spike's waist, who nearly shivered as he felt Xander's lips ghost over his neck while he spoke. "The demon wants you."

Spike took a deep, unnecessary breath. "'Zat right?" he asked, his eyes sparking with curiousity and something else that Xander couldn't read.

Xander turned Spike in his arms so that they faced each other, and Spike could see lust in Xander's eye. Xander leaned closer, studying a cut just above Spike's mouth that had appeared during their fight. "It wants more than just your blood, Spike..." Xander placed his lips over the cut, sucking hard, and this time Spike did shiver as Xander pulled away, licking his upper lip slowly. "It wants all of you."

Spike raised his hand and placed his thumb on Xander's bottom lip. "An' you know what that means, pet?"

Xander's face shifted back to his human guise, the need still clearly evident in his expression, but resolve was mixed into it. "It means I want you," he whispered.

Spike nodded, morphing back to his own human face, as well. "Because you are the demon," he said. "Soul might hate the demon. Demon might hate the soul. But they're both a part of you now. Angel and Angelus. Spike and William. Xander and..." Spike moved his hand from Xander's lip and cupped his cheek. "Xander. All the same. We all have parts of ourselves that we hate."

Xander's arms tightened around Spike, and he tilted his neck so his forehead was resting against Spike's. "I'm sorry," he whispered, his eye squeezed shut.

Spike gently wrapped his hands around the back of Xander's neck, his thumb stroking his cheek. "Look at me."

Xander opened his eye. "I'm sorry," he repeated.

"Shut up," Spike said firmly, but not harsh. He threaded his fingers into Xander's hair. "You never wanted this," he continued, a hint of regret in his voice.

Xander let out a bitter, choking laugh. "You know I never wanted this. I didn't want to see my friends grow old and die. I didn't want to be constantly fighting a part of myself." He raised his head and smiled weakly at Spike. "You didn't want an undead and suddenly gay Xander Harris lusting after you, I'm sure."

Spike smirked. "Heard me complain?" Xander shook his head. "Then don't apologize."

Xander smiled back at Spike sadly, but genuine. "Thanks... for letting me take my frustration out on you."

"You needed it. An' I like a good tumble now and then." Spike's lips spread into a malicious grin. "If you keep it up, hone your skills... you'll be able to wipe Angel to the floor. Be staking vamps as fast as Buffy in no time."

"The first vampire I staked was my best friend," Xander suddenly blurted out. "And I've killed so many of them since then. What if some of them were actually like us, had souls? What if-"

Spike cut Xander off. "There are no other vampires like us, pet. You, me, Angel... we're it."

"I know." Xander winced and released Spike, raising his hands to cover Spike's wrists. "But why?" he whispered painfully. "Why are we so special?"

Spike shook his head. "You know there's no answer to that."

"I know. More stupid questions." Xander sighed, and leaned back into Spike's touch. "You really don't mind me?"

"Mind you?" Spike released Xander and took a step back, but his fingers still rested on Xander's arm. "Bloody hell, pet, I came here to take you away with me."

Xander stared at Spike in shock. "What?"

"Wolfram and Hart - there's no good here. It might be Angel's dig, but it's not mine." Spike's fingers trailed down to Xander's hand. "Not yours, either."

"Where are we going?"

Spike smiled genuinely at Xander's unspoken agreement to come with him. "Still L.A., but better than this. Some random bloke gave me a place to stay. He gets these visions, letting me know when people need help."

"Weird." The pair began walking out of the training room, their fingers still interlaced. Xander's gaze never left Spike's face. "Have you really changed that much? It's not like you to follow anyone's orders."

"Yeah, but he's the one who made me not a ghost, so I figure I owe him. Calls himself Doyle..."

Part Four

"Can I just say one thing?"


"L.A. Sucks. With a capital 'S.' Save somebody's life in Sunnydale, I'd get a thank you - not a couple of gunshots to the gut." Xander winced as he stepped into the apartment. "And I think she got one in my ass, too."

"You think?"

"All right, I know she got one in my ass. That only proves my point even more."

"Proves your point that people in L.A. are not the most grateful sort, but this shoulda taught ya something." Spike shut the door behind them, locked it, and turned to see Xander getting ready to collapse on the couch.

"That I can now survive bullets. Yeah, I know. They still fucking hurt."

"No getting blood on the couch. It's new." Spike grabbed Xander's arm before he could sit and steered him towards the bathroom. "And that's not the right lesson."

Xander smiled wryly at Spike. "Okay, then. Why don't you tell me what I should have learned from this experience, oh wise sensei?"

Spike glanced at Xander out of the corner of his eye, giving him a condenscending look. "Don't show your gameface when you're fighting. Not only does it let the baddies know how to kill you, but it scares the people we're supposed to be saving." He sat Xander down on the edge of the bathtub and searched through the medicine cabinet.

"But I couldn't help it!" Xander protested, shifting his weight to ease the pain of sitting. "It just... popped out."

"Well, we'll have to work on that, won't we? Take off your shirt." Spike turned toward him brandishing a pair of tweezers and a washcloth.

Xander sighed and removed his ruined shirt, wincing as the already drying blood kept it stuck to his back. "Are you mad?" he asked, giving Spike a guilty look as he dropped the bloody shirt to the floor.

"Turn around. 'Bout what?"

"Almost getting us killed."

Spike stared at Xander for a moment before bursting into laughter. "Takes more than bullets to kill vampires - you know that. She didn't hit me, and it was bloody well worth it just to see the look on your face when she started shootin' at you." Spike grinned and sat down beside Xander, straddling the side of the tub. "Looked like a scared kitten when the first shot hit ya. And then you started running, which is how she managed to get you in the arse."

"You sadist." Xander gave Spike a mock glare before throwing a leg over the side of the tub and turning towards him. "You just like seeing me bleed."

"Like to see more than that, pet," Spike murmured as he began inspecting the damage to Xander' stomach.

"What was that?"

Spike looked up at Xander with mischief in his eyes. "You heard me." He flashed Xander a quick smirk before returning his attention to the first wound. "Girl's a good shot. She got ya good."

"Uh-huh. Tell me something I don't knoOWWW!!" Xander shouted as Spike probed into the small hole in his stomach and scooted away until his back ran into the wall. He glared down at Spike with a golden eye and a mouth full of fangs. "That fucking hurts," he snarled, covering his stomach with one arm as if he expected Spike to chase after him with the tweezers.

"An' I didn't even dig deep enough to get the bullet out," Spike said, staring at Xander in annoyance. He beckoned with the tweezers. "Get back here. You're getting blood on the floor."

"You really are a sadist, you know that?"

"No, I'm a vampire. Same as you."

"That doesn't make me a masochist! This is not fun for me!"

"Wanna heal up with the bullets still inside? Trust me, that hurts a helluva lot more."

Xander gave Spike a swift kick in the shin and was rewarded with a snarl. "Have some sympathy, here. I've never been shot before. Can't you just be a little more gentle?"

Spike glared at Xander. "Do I look like a surgeon?" He leaned foward and snapped the tweezers shut dangerously close to Xander's face.

Xander arched away from Spike, putting one hand out to defend himself. "No, you look like a big, dumb freak - threatening me with a pair of tweezers." Xander squinted at the offending tweezers in Spike's hand. "Aren't those for plucking eyebrows?" he asked in disbelief.

"Yes, but it's all we have, isn't it?" Spike said in a dangerously slow voice.

"Why do you have an eyebrow plucker?"

Spike gritted his teeth and swiftly slid down the side of the tub, cornering Xander against the wall. "Really trying my patience here, pet," he hissed.

"You don't have any patience, pet," Xander growled back, baring his fangs.

Spike's glare slowly eased off, and he lightly slapped Xander on the cheek. "Put those away," he scolded.

Xander shifted back to his human face, but the anger in his eye was just as fierce. "You-"

"Should use this as a way to practice restraint," Spike interrupted, gently wiping the washcloth over the blood dripping out of Xander's reopened wound. "This is gonna hurt, but don't let yourself change."

As the tweezers came near the wounds again, Xander winced and sucked his stomach in so far that his ribs were visible. Spike sat back and placed a hand on each knee, staring Xander down like a father waiting for their child to stop throwing a temper tantrum. Xander suddenly got the mental image of Spike waiting with his arms crossed, tapping his foot and counting 'one... two... three...' If he reached ten and Xander still wasn't behaving, he'd be in big trouble...

"This would be easier if you relax." Xander snapped out of his imagination as Spike spoke up again. "I'll be as gentle as I can."

Xander studied Spike's face, seeing rare sincerity in his eyes. "Promise?"

Spike smirked. "Only if you don't trust me. Now relax."

Xander finally nodded, but squeezed his eye shut tight, not wanting to see the silver tweezers disappear into his stomach. His hissed when Spike probed into the first wound, scissoring the tweezers out to grab the bullet. His eye popped open when Spike pulled the tweezers out, feeling the bullet scrape along his insides. He stared at the small piece of metal before Spike chucked it towards the trash, unable to believe that was all that was causing him such pain.

"Keep loose. Still got four more here, plus the one in your bum."

Xander nodded and kept still while Spike worked on extracting the last of the bullets in his stomach. His eye was still screwed shut, and he listened for the occasional clinking sound of another bullet hitting the trash can. He only yelled once more when Spike jabbed him particularly hard, shoving the bullet in deeper. Spike waited for him to calm down, stroking his other hand over Xander's knee in a silent apology.

Finally, Spike patted him on the leg, and Xander opened his eye to see Spike smiling at him. "Is it done?" Xander asked hesitantly.

"Almost. Still got the one-"

"Located in my ass. I know." Xander sighed and stood up. "How do you want me to do this?"

"Turn around." Xander followed Spike's orders without complaint, wanting to get this over with as fast as possible. He waited for the painful probing to start, but felt nothing. He didn't look back at Spike until he heard a pointed cough.

"You don't need to breathe, blondie. What's the problem?" He turned his head slightly and looked down to see Spike grinning up at him, actually biting his lip to keep from laughing. "What?" Xander demanded.

Spike let go, his shoulders shaking and his laughter echoing off the walls of the bathroom. "Might be easier if you took your pants off, pet."

"Oh." Xander blinked. "Right." He slowly undid the top button, realizing he was about to be completely nude. Naked as the day he was born, in front of Spike. He hesitated at the zipper before pulling it down, listening for each individual click.

"Trying out for 'Striptease,' are we?" Spike didn't even try to hide the amusement in his voice. "Hurry it up. I've seen it already, anyway."

"What?!" Xander exclaimed, spinning to face Spike. "When have you seen me naked?" He tugged his pants back up, holding them closed.

"In your basement. You thought I was asleep."

"You... are a bad, naughty vampire." Xander sighed when Spike only raised an eyebrow at him. "But I already knew that." He turned back around, muttering. "How do I get myself into these situations?"

"By turning tail when a little girl starts shooting at you."

"She was taller than you." Xander shot back.

Spike didn't respond, but apparently got tired of waiting. Xander felt a tug at his pants, suddenly finding them pooled at his feet.

"You're a bit eager to get all of my clothes off, aren't you?" There was more amusement than annoyance in Xander's voice as he kicked his pants off his ankles.

"You couldn't tell? Now c'mere." Spike grabbed Xander's hips and walked him backwards a few steps so he could inspect the wound.

Xander yelped when Spike suddenly poked him with the tweezers, bouncing away from Spike. He turned, more concerned with glaring at Spike than being ashamed about his nudity. "Why does that hurt so much more than my stomach? I thought butts were all fat!"

Spike gave Xander another 'look,' the one that told him he had said something stupid. "It's muscle, and it looks like the bullet went in at an angle. Were you doing pirouettes trying to get away from this girl?" Xander opened his mouth, but Spike cut him off. "Never mind. Don't wanna know. Get back here."

Xander made a sound of frustration, but resumed his position without complaint. He jerked again when the cold metal of the tweezers poked into the wound again, but didn't try to get away.

"You're going to have to hold still."

"Well, it's kinda difficult!"

A strong arm suddenly snaked around Xander's waist, holding him in place. The tweezers probed into the wound once more, searching for the bullet. Spike was evidently having problems finding it, because the tweezers kept changing angles, scraping at the torn tissue inside. Xander jerked every time Spike poked something painful, which was creating some interesting friction on the other side of Xander's hips.

Xander froze when he realized Spike's arm was making him hard. It was rubbing in just the right places... and he knew Spike had noticed when he heard a low chuckle come from behind him. "Always thought I'd be in this position under different cirumstances."

"What?" Xander asked, his voice horrified. "What's that supposed to - OW!" Xander felt the tweezers open up inside the wound, and he jerked his hips forward, his cock slipping right into an open hand. Xander's pained noises turned into a very different kind of moan when the hand closed around him.

"Thought you weren't a masochist," Spike said, pulling his hand up Xander's cock deliberately.

"I'm... not!" Xander insisted, unintentionally moaning again when Spike's hand traveled back down to the tip of his cock. He didn't realize he had been holding his eye shut until it popped open at the sound of the last bullet hitting the trash can. He breathed a sigh of relief. "Pain is... painful. I don't like it."

"But you like this?" Spike drew his hand back up Xander's cock, squeezing when he reached the base.

"Well..." Xander glanced down, and seeing Spike's hand slowly moving back and forth over his cock made him shiver. "Apparently." Spike squeezed him again, harder this time, and Xander hissed. "Obviously," he amended. "Why are you doing this?"

Spike stood up behind Xander, his other arm wrapping around Xander and pulling him back against Spike's chest. "Want to."

"Really?" Xander gasped as one of Spike's hands trailed over one of his nipples. "You mean you were actually serious with all your... double-meaning words, and your looks, and holding my hand at just the right - ahh!" Xander's head fell back onto Spike's shoulder when Spike stroked his thumb over the tip of Xander's cock. "You weren't just fucking with me? I mean, you know my demon wants you, and it's kinda getting hard for me to tell me and the demon apart... I thought you were just leading me on."

Spike growled and spun Xander around, pulling them back together with one arm, and rotating his hips just right so Xander could feel Spike's own erection laying trapped in his jeans. "I don't joke."

"Yes, you do."

"Not about this."

"You have before."

"Not this time."


Spike quickly covered Xander's lips with his own, quite effectively shutting him up. Xander's eye opened wide for only an instant before he starting kissing Spike back with fervor. It felt like Spike was trying to eat him alive... which Xander didn't mind one little bit. Spike splayed one hand on Xander's chest, his thumb flicking back and forth over one of Xander's nipples.

Xander drew away from the kiss, breathing in air he didn't need. "Are we actually doing this?" he asked, his voice husky.

"Nah, pet..." Spike kissed him again, gentler this time. "It's all in yer head," he whispered against Xander's lips. His fingers trailed lower, tracing a circle just below Xander's belly-button.

Xander growled, his back arching up. He fought to keep his demon under control, his teeth grinding together and his eye tightly shut. "Spike..."

Spike realized what Xander was doing. "Now's the time to let it out, pet. It wants this." Spike's fingers slid lower still, stopping just as he reached the top of a tuft of coarse, dark hair.

"Spike," Xander groaned in frustration, still not letting go. "You don't understand..."

"Oh, I do, luv." Spike spread his fingers out, combing through the hair surrounding Xander's cock. "Probably better'n you. Been doin' this a lot longer..." He moved his lips to where Xander's pulse point would have been, if he'd still had one, and raked a blunt tooth across it, grinning triumphantly when he felt a shiver race down Xander's back. He licked the spot, moving his tongue in circles before gently biting down and giving it a soft suck. Xander gasped as he felt little shocks running through his body, moving down to his toes and making them curl, and back up, all focusing back to where Spike was rolling a bit of Xander's skin between his teeth. Xander' eye flew open, and he stared down at Spike, panting. "Stop trying to be human and let go," Spike whispered.

A growl rose in Xander's chest, and it grew into a roar as the demon broke through the surface. Xander threw Spike back against the wall and had him pinned so quickly that even Spike could barely follow the motion. Xander wrapped a possessive arm around Spike's waist and yanked their bodies together. He captured Spike's lips with a mouth full of fangs.

Spike kissed him back just as furiously, his tongue forcing its way into Xander's mouth and scraping along the underside of a fang. Xander savored the delicious taste of Spike's blood as it passed through his lips for the first time since the cave. He growled in appreciation.

"Why do you... taste so good... to me?" Xander asked, the sentence breaking into pieces as he continued to press his lips against Spike's.

Spike smiled into Xander's mouth, his hand sliding down Xander's back to cup his ass. "Because I'm a nummy treat," he said with a squeeze.

Xander groaned, his head falling back. "I thought that was me."

"Never found out, did I?" Spike's face shifted into his demon and he ran his tongue over his canines suggestively, rolling his hips into Xander's.

"I think it's time you did," Xander growled, and snapped Spike's mouth back onto his own. Their fangs clashed together, making tiny nicks in their lips and tongues. Blood mixed in their mouths as Xander spun them around, pushing both of their writhing, grasping bodies out of the bathroom.

"Where're we going, pet?" Spike said, drawing back as he found himself being walked backwards down the hall.

"Bed. Now."

Spike smirked triumphantly and spun around, grasped Xander's hand and sprinted the rest of the way down the hall. He burst through the door, slamming it against the wall. He pushed Xander down onto the bed and pulled his shirt off in one smooth motion. He tackled Xander and pushed his knee up between Xander's legs. He felt Xander's hands pulling insistently at his jeans, and he captured Xander's lips in another fierce kiss.

"Want you, pet..." Spike growled into Xander's mouth as he felt fumbling hands run over his trapped erection, searching for the zipper. He heard Xander snarl and felt fingers loop into the sides of his jeans. The denim was shredded as it was suddenly ripped from his body, and Spike pulled away, grinning at Xander in delighted surprise.

Xander looked sheepish. "Don't know my own strength yet, I guess." He held up the ruined jeans, biting his lip. "I'm sorry."

Spike grabbed the jeans from Xander's hands and threw the pieces to either side of the room. "S'all right, pet. Got the job done, didn't you?" He straddled Xander's hips and sat, hissing as their erections slid up against one another. His fingertips danced over Xander's chest.

Xander threw his head back, gasping. "I was... excited."

Spike rolled his hips, forcing a groan from both of them. "Still are, I hope."

"Fuck..." Xander bucked his own hips in answer.

Spike leaned forward, nipping at Xander's neck with his fangs. "Don't remember you swearing as much when you were human as you do now ."

"I'm... different now," Xander said, running his hands down Spike's back. "And you wouldn't have been doing this when I was human." His voice was still full of lust, but there was an underlying sadness in the statement.

"That's 'cuz I would have broken you in half," Spike said, sitting back and placing one hand on Xander's stomach, his fingers splayed out and his thumb stroking up and down. "Vampires don't fuck humans without the intention of seriously hurting them. You can handle me now."

Xander paused and sat up, staring at Spike in wonder. "Did you want me when I was human?"

"Wasn't in love with you or anything, but I woulda turned you myself just so I could fuck you into oblivion," Spike said, rubbing small circles over Xander's already healing wounds. "...Before I had a soul," he added after a moment's thought.

Xander's lips slowly spread into a grin. "Really? That's oddly... really kinda hot, even though it should be very scary. But... really?"

Spike's tongue flicked along his fangs again. "Really. And now..." His hand inched lower, lightly tracing one finger over Xander's cock and back down the underside. "No worries about breaking ya. You can take me."

Xander growled and grabbed Spike's hips, rolling them over so he was on top. He ground his hips against Spike's, looping his leg around Spike's knee. "I've... I've never done this before. I'm not really sure how. I've never been... with a guy before."

"Demon's not telling ya what's what?"

"No, it's just screaming that it wants you, and like I said, it's getting hard to tell our needs apart."

Spike looked up at Xander, his expression serious. "Are you one hundred percent positive you want to do this?"

"No." Spike's eyes flashed in disappointment, and Xander quickly continued. "I'm like... ninety percent sure I want to. Which is more sure than I've been with anyone else." Spike stared at Xander in disbelief, but Xander would not let him interrupt. "Even Anya was only about forty percent. I'm not going to be completely positive about this until it's over."

"It's not just the demon that wants this, right? Your soul want this, too?"

Xander grinned. "If it was just the demon, I'd probably be having a pretty loud arguement with myself right about now." He paused, licking his lips. "I'm serious, though. I really don't know how to do this."

"I'll walk you through it, then. Fucking ravage me, luv," Spike said. He arched his hips up against Xander's, rubbing their cocks together. "But you'd better do something soon..." He gritted his teeth as he repeated the action again and again, enjoying the little moans he was forcing out of Xander's lips. "...else I'm gonna throw you down and bugger you senseless."

"So... what do I do?" Xander's voice had dropped a little, shyness creeping in.

Spike pushed Xander back so he could sit up and rifle through the drawer of his nightstand. He tossed something at Xander, who caught it and held it up to see what it was. "Lube? Okay, check. I get that part." Xander looked at Spike through lowered lashes, watching as Spike's smirk grew into a triumphant grin. "When did you buy this?" he asked curiously.

"Night you moved in."

Xander growled and tackled Spike again, his hand wrapping around Spike's cock for the first time. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Xander acknowledged that it was the first time he had touched any cock besides his own. Xander licked at Spike's lips, covering them completely when Spike allowed him entrance. Xander decided that he liked touching other cocks. Or maybe it was just Spike's cock. It responded so beautifully to Xander's touch, pulsing and jerking as if it was alive...

"Stop, stop!" Spike pushed Xander's hand away, staring up at Xander. His lips were parted, and he started forcing himself to breath rhythmically.

Xander bit his lip. "Did I do something wrong?" he asked, worried.

"No. Just don't want to come yet." Spike continued his breathing, trying to calm himself down. He had been hard since Xander had pulled his shirt off in the bathroom, not to mention he felt like he had been walking around half-hard for weeks. Xander as a human had been a delight to look at - even better when he was flushed with anger. But Xander the vampire... he glowed with some otherworldly power that even Spike couldn't fully recognize. He was beautiful, beyond words.

"Why do we still breathe?"

Spike stopped said breathing for a moment, raising an eyebrow at Xander. "What?"

"We don't need to. I thought I still did it completely out of habit, but you're like... two hundred years old and you still breathe."

Spike lightly slapped Xander on the thigh, glaring up at him in mock annoyance. "Do I look two hundred to you? And I guess it's out of habit, like you said. Hard one to break. Humans don't need to bite their nails, but they still do." He shifted his hips again, wrenching another pleased groan from Xander. "You get distracted too easily, pet. Get the lube, now."

Xander grinned playfully. "Or else...?"

Spike glared at Xander again, this time nothing mocking behind it. "Or else I'm gonna come all over you like a giddy little boy. You've been walking around like sex on a stick for weeks. Enough playing. Inside, now."

Xander giggled. "'Sex on a stick?'"

"Now, pet!" Spike snarled. He reached out and popped open the lube cap with his thumb, turning Xander's hand over and squeezing around it. Xander could only watch as something clear dripped out of the bottle and onto his cock. He moaned as Spike's other hand wrapped around his cock and spread the lube up and down. Too soon, Spike released his cock and guided Xander's hand back to the bottle, squeezing even more lube onto his fingertips. Spike threw the tube into a corner of the room, shifting his hips so that his legs were on top of Xander's knees. Spike had done all that in less than ten seconds, and it sent a pleased shiver down Xander's spine to know that Spike wanted him that much.

It also started a nagging in Xander's gut. He didn't want to disappoint Spike with his inexperience. He stared at Spike. "Um..."

Spike grabbed Xander's lubed covered hand by the wrist. "You put this..." He moved Xander's hand down to his exposed opening. "... in here. Stretch me out, get me ready. Then you put this..." Spike stroked a finger down Xander's cock, base to tip. "... in the same spot, and have your wicked way with me." He spoke slowly and deliberately, his fangs clenched together in frustration. "Just do it now, before I pop."

Xander grinned and nodded, leaning forward to capture Spike's lips again. He circled his finger around Spike's puckered opening, and was amazed to feel it open, inviting entrance. He wriggled his finger until it breached the tight ring of muscle, and slowly began pushing in. Spike's hand snaked around his raised leg and grasped Xander's wrist, quickly pushing it further in until Xander's knuckles hit flush with Spike's ass. Xander watched in fascination as Spike's head fell back, his mouth falling open. Xander crooked his finger back, moving it in a beckoning motion, and grinned when Spike thrashed beneath him. "More," Spike demanded at the end of a long moan.

Xander didn't hesitate to add a second finger. It wasn't that different from what he knew - just tighter. He scissored his fingers, turning them in a circle, enjoying the moans and growls erupting from Spike's lips. He was about to add a third finger when Spike suddenly wrenched his wrist away, pulling Xander's fingers out of him with a pop. Spike wriggled beneath him, his fangs bared. "Sorry, luv, to be moving you along so fast. Just want you inside when I come."

Xander looped his arms underneath Spike's legs, staring down in wonder as he lifted up Spike's hips. "Do you really want me this much?"

Spike moved his hand so his stroke the side of Xander's face, smiling. "Wouldn't be doing this if I didn't. Wanted you, knew your demon wanted me, but you're still hung up on acting human."

"Is that what this is? Teaching me to be a demon?"

"More than that, pet... but you got no idea how glad I am that it's me that gets to teach you." Spike pulled Xander down into a gentle kiss. "There's more to being a vampire than blood an' violence," he whispered.

Xander smiled back at Spike. "And you'll show me?"

Spike nodded, and Xander moved a free hand down to his cock, guiding it into Spike's opening. It slipped away on the first try, wrenching frustrated moans from both vampires. Xander tried again, and watched in amazement as his cock slipped inside the ring of muscle. He slowly sank deeper and deeper until his balls were flush with Spike's ass. He dropped his head onto Spike's shoulder, marvelling at the tightness surrounding his cock. "Oh... God..."

"Has got nothing to do with us," Spike whispered, clenching his muscles around the stiffness inside him.

Xander had never thought someone who was clinically dead would feel so alive on the inside. Spike was pulsing, massaging his cock, sending ripples of pleasure up and down his spine.

"Pet?" Spike's voice was on the verge of whimpering, and Xander suddenly realized he had been frozen, relishing the sensation of being buried inside Spike. His hips suddenly snapped back, pulling out until only the tip of his cock remained hidden, then he pushed forward again, growls erupting from both of them. Xander fell into the age-old rhythm, instinct taking over as he pulled out and pushed back in, the bed creaking loudly beneath them. Xander found himself silently thanking Doyle for thinking to get Spike a corner apartment, because they were making an awful lot of noise.

Spike's hips were snapping up to meet Xander's thrusts, his fingers hooked into claws as he pulled Xander's head back down to his shoulder. "Drink, luv." Xander didn't need a second invitation, and he turned his head and bit deep into Spike's neck, taking gulp after gulp of Spike's blood. He felt a sting at his own neck, but only for an instant, and then blood was being drawn from his body. It had only happened to him once before, but this time it wasn't painful at all.

Something suddenly clicked within Xander, and he began driving into Spike, slower than before, but going deeper with each thrust. Every time he pushed in, he would swallow another mouthful of Spike's blood. When he pulled out, Spike would swallow Xander's blood. A circuit was completed, and Xander couldn't feel anything except where he and Spike were attached at each other's necks, and where they were connected at the hips. Somehow, between two cold, dead bodies, heat was forming inside Spike's ass and around Xander's cock. Xander lost himself in the feeling of giving and taking, and he pounded into Spike, his climax taking him by complete surprise. He emptied his seed into Spike, sucking hard at the blood flowing into his mouth. He felt something cold hit his stomach as Spike came only seconds behind him.

Xander mouthed Spike's neck, licking up any stray drops of blood that might have escaped, feeling Spike do the same to him. The tingles running down Xander's body weren't fading as he pulled out of Spike and rolled to the side. "Is vampire sex like that all the time?" he asked in a raspy voice. He closed his eye, basking in the afterglow with an enormous smile.

Spike rolled over onto his stomach and threw one arm over Xander's chest, grinning. "An' it gets better, pet."

Xander looked down at Spike's satisfied face. "Are you serious?" he asked, his mouth falling open.

"Perfectly. Why? Something the matter with that?"

"It's just..." Xander paused and let his head fall back. "I think I might want to do nothing but have sex for the rest of my undead life."

Spike chuckled, wrapping his arm tighter around Xander. "That could be arranged, pet..."

* * *

Willow stared down at the map with a flat expression. The image became blurry as tears welled up in her eyes, but she didn't look away. She couldn't look away.

It was true. She didn't want to believe it.

Willow had felt it the instant that Kennedy died. She didn't know how her lover was killed when it happened, but then, seconds later, something killed Nanyamka, the Slayer that Kennedy and Xander had been seeking. She had felt her death, as well, although the pain wasn't as great. Two Slayers were dead, killed within moments of each other.

Something bad had happened in Africa, and she had no way of knowing if Xander was all right. She cast worldwide locator spells to try and track down her oldest friend, but nothing had turned up. The only reason she would have gotten that response was if he was dead. Or in another dimension, but considering the cirumstances...

At Willow's first word, Giles sent the closest agent to search the area Kennedy and Xander had last been seen. It had taken him weeks, but he finally called in with a disturbing report. He had found three bodies in a remote cave. Although Kennedy's body had been identified, Xander was not among them. It was clear that the attackers were vampires, which gave Willow the idea to use a different kind of locator spell.

So she had cast her spell. The world map was now spread out in front of her, and a tiny orange light was shining on an American city just off the coast of the Pacific. She stared at the light, and it burned into her, mocking her.

A teardrop fell on the map just as the door opened. Buffy entered soundlessly, her face downcast. "Willow?" The unspoken question lay between them as Willow finally tore her eyes away from the light and looked up at Buffy with silent tears running down her face.

"Xander is a vampire."

Part Five

"I don't like this."

"I know, pet."

Xander closed his eye and leaned on the wall of the elevator, letting the faint hum of the motor wash over him. He tried to relax, but the thought of what they were about to do kept coming back to him.

Well, what Spike was about to do. Xander wanted no part of killing his ex-girlfriend, no matter what Doyle said.


Xander opened his eye to see Spike studying him, a hint of worry in his expression. "I'll make sure she really is evil before I kill her. Not killing a girl on someone's word alone, especially since you keep saying we shouldn't trust Doyle."

"He just... gives me the creeps." Xander shook his head, knowing he was repeating himself. "And Cordelia's not a girl."

"Last time I saw her she was." Spike shrugged and glanced up at the lighted display on the wall, watching the number rise as the elevator took them higher.

"You're gonna be completely sure she's evil before you hurt her, right? No half-guesses?"

Spike looked back at Xander and saw the fear and concern in his eye getting deeper. He stepped forward and grasped Xander's hand, raising it to his lips. "No worries, luv. I've been evil, remember? Know what to look for." He brushed his lips over Xander's knuckles.

Xander smiled for the first time since Doyle told them the bad news. "I trust you, Spike." Spike looked pleasantly surprised for a moment before grinning widely and yanking Xander towards him. He wrapped an arm around Xander's waist and kissed him deeply. He ran his tongue over Xander's lips once before pulling away just as the elevator dinged at them. He felt Xander stiffen in his arms as the door opened.

"Ready for this, Xan?"

Xander shook his head. "No, but... if Cordelia really is evil, I have to see it for myself."

Spike nodded and gave Xander one more quick kiss before releasing him and stepping off the elevator.

"Spike!" Xander froze as he heard Cordelia's familiar voice, followed by a short laugh. "Well, well. I heard you weren't evil anymore, which kind of makes the hair silly."

Xander's eye flicked up to Spike's platinum hair and mentally disagreed. Sounds like Cordelia. He bit his lip as Spike's face morphed into the demon and began striding towards Cordelia, quickly leaving Xander's line of sight.

"Or nice?" Cordelia's voice wasn't as confident now.

The elevator door began to close on Xander, and he shoved his arm out to stop it. He poked his head around the corner just in time to see Cordelia scream as Spike shoved her up against the wall and sank his fangs into her neck.

"Spike!" Xander hissed. He said he wouldn't hurt her, wouldn't kill her!

Spike withdrew his fangs and glanced over at Xander, only to have Angel tackle him from behind, tearing him away from Cordelia. Oops. Xander winced and watched as Spike and Angel tussled a moment before they rose again, Spike holding Angel in a firm headlock. "You took me on and lost. Remember, old man?" Spike said in a smug voice.

"Touch Cordelia again..." Angel snarled and broke free from Spike's hold, twisting so he could lift Spike into the air. "... get ready for our very last rematch." Angel's expression was one usually reserved for when he protected Buffy. Xander looked back and forth between the two of them. Angel and Cordy? No way. Angel threw Spike to the ground, and the demon inside Xander screamed at him to do something. Xander growled at the sound of Spike's head hitting the floor, fighting with his demon for control.

"She's evil, you gourmless tit." Spike growled, quickly getting back on his feet.

Cordelia stood with her back to Xander, who was quietly inching towards the fight. She held her hand over her neck where Spike had bit her. "Excuse me? Who bit whom?"

"Did you call me a tit?" Angel asked in disbelief, glowering at Spike.

"I thought he had a soul," Cordelia said.

"I thought she didn't!" Spike shot at Angel, pointing at Cordelia.

"I do!" Cordelia protested.

"So do I."

"Well, clearly, mine's better."

Spike's expression rippled with anger, and he took a menacing step towards Cordelia. "Look-"

Angel slammed Spike back into the wall, and he fell to the ground. "I see fangs, I'm gonna play dentist."

The threat in his voice unleashed the rage within Xander, and he took two swift steps forward and punched Angel in the jaw. He didn't put all of his strength into it, but it was enough to make Angel stagger back. Angel put a hand to his chin as he spun around to see his attacker. "Xander..." he growled.

"You are such an ass, Angel." Xander hissed. He pulled Spike to his feet, shooting him an apologetic look. "I'm sorry. I know you like fighting Angel and all, but-"

Spike grinned. "Defending my honor, pet?"

Spike and Xander's scents hit Angel almost instantly, and his nostrils flared as he looked back and forth between the two of them. "Oh, this is just perfect. This is exactly what I needed - you two, teaming up-"

"Xander?!" Cordelia nearly screeched. "What are you doing here?"

Xander winced at the pitch of Cordelia voice. "Um... hopefully not killing you." He glanced hopefully at Spike, who opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by a flurry of questions from Cordelia.

"What? Why are you killing me? Why aren't you in Sunnydale? Why are you wearing an eye patch? And what are you doing with him?" She gestured wildly at Spike.

Xander blinked, and then looked back towards Angel. "I see your communication skills are still top-notch, Deadboy." His words dripped with sarcasm.

Angel smirked. "I don't think you have the right to call me 'Deadboy' anymore, Xander."

"I'll call you whatever the hell I wanna call you, Mr. Avoidy."

"You're more of a boy than I am-"

"But you've been dead a lot longer than me."

"Hey!" Cordelia shouted to bring everyone's attention back towards her. Xander smiled faintly. Still the same ol' Queen C. "Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?" Cordelia stared at Xander, and he shifted on his feet, his gaze floating towards the ceiling. She narrowed her eyes in in suspicion. "Xander, have you been getting enough sun?"

Spike started chuckling, but stopped when Xander elbowed him in the gut. Xander put his hand on his neck and shrugged. "Well... about as much as I can handle..." he replied slowly.

Cordelia turned towards Angel with a frown. "Why didn't you tell me that my ex-boyfriend was a vampire?" she demanded.

Xander blinked. He couldn't remember Cordelia being so intuitive. L.A. had obviously been good to her. "Probably for the same reason he didn't tell me you were in a coma." He shot an angry glance at Angel, who had the grace to look sheepish. "He probably didn't tell you what happened to Sunnydale, either."

Cordelia turned back to Xander with a look of alarm on her face. "What are you talking about? What happened in Sunnydale?"

Her question was met with silence.


* * *

After several explantions, things quickly rolled into a snowball of trouble. They discovered that Angel's liason, Eve, was in cahoots with Doyle, who was actually called Lindsey. Lindsey was in the belly of Wolfram & Hart trying to activate something that had specific programming to kill Angel. Lindsey's plan had failed, but not without causing them quite a bit of trouble.

Xander walked back to the upper levels with the others, and he realized he'd just had his first official mission with the Angel Investigations/Wolfram & Hart merger. It had felt good to be back in the good fight, and he was impressed with their teamwork and communication, but he still agreed with Spike - he wanted no part of Wolfram & Hart.

Spike avoided Xander's complacent look, which seemed to be permanently stuck on his face. "You don't have to say it, Xan."

"I'm going to, anyway," Xander said in a smug tone. "I told you so."

"You knew Lindsay was lying about who he said he was?" Angel asked with a raised eyebrow.

Xander shooked his head. "I knew he was lying about something. He has... shifty eyes."

"I can't believe his nerve, using Doyle's name... no, wait. That's a lie," Cordelia said. "That's exactly the kind of thing Lindsey would do."

"I'm really sorry, Cordy," Xander said as they turned a corner. "I remember now that Willow mentioned someone named Doyle back in the day. We really should have had more communication between our respective crews."

"Yeah, well... too late for that now," Cordelia said with a shrug. "And you have no right to be all remorseful about the lack of communication, Mr. I'm-not-going-to-tell-Buffy-I'm-a-vampire."

"Hey!" Xander protested. "I'll tell her eventually! It's just kinda hard to tell someone something like that over the phone..."

"Xander, they are probably worried sick about you!" Cordelia's voice rang out strong as they entered the lobby of Wolfram & Hart, and Angel's crew glanced over at them.

Xander shrugged, suddenly conscious of eight sets of eyes on him, and he wrapped his arms around himself as he leaned up against the wall. "They'll be fine."

"No, they won't," Spike said, shaking his head. "They completely fall apart without you." Xander rolled his eyes, but Spike cut off any protests he had. "Seen it happen, pet. Made it happen."

"Yeah, and that was not fair at all, considering I didn't even know Willow and Tara were-"

"Xander, they care about you. You need to tell them." Cordelia stopped and stood with her arms crossed, and Xander quickly decided that Cordelia's 'resolve face' was much more intimidating than Willow's. He avoided her stare and looked to the floor, staying silent.

A welcome distraction came in the form of Eve being hustled onto the elevator. "It's a new game, Eve," Angel said. "If I were you, I'd start thinking strategy."

Eve stared indignantly at Angel. "And here I am thinking revenge."

"And what do you imagine the senior partners are thinking?" Angel said as the elevator doors closed on Eve, and a chill ran down Xander's spine at the hint of glee in Angel's voice.

"Well, I'm thinking seabreeze, compadres," Lorne said, clapping his green hands together. "I gave up a lot of blood."

"And I didn't get any," Harmony pouted. "I kept begging Eve to run, but..."

Xander tuned them out as he reflected on what Cordelia and Spike had told them. He was starting to feel guilty about not having called his friends, and it made him feel even more guilty that he hadn't truly started regretting that until Cordelia pointed it out to him. No matter how much he'd felt ignored over the course of the years, he knew they would be worried about him. That's what friends - what family were there for.

"A drink sounds good. I'll go get my coat," Angel was saying, and Xander snapped out of his silent reflection. He realized everyone was piling onto the elevator to go drinking, including Spike. Xander moved to follow, but Cordelia put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

"You guys go on ahead," she said. "We'll catch up." She smiled at Angel as he walked past her into his office.

The elevator door shut and Angel's door closed, and they were alone. Cordelia turned to Xander with a stern look on her face. "Xander-"

"I'm calling them," Xander interrupted. "Tonight. You're right."

Cordelia's eyes brightened in surprise. "Good. It's not like you to avoid something just because it's hard. You've always been a go-getter." She grinned playfully at him. "I think that was why we broke up, actually..."

Xander laughed, and drew Cordelia in for a hug. "Why couldn't you have been this cool in high school?"

"Hey, I was way cooler in high school than I am now!" Cordelia exclaimed, giving Xander a quick squeeze. "I think the real question is why weren't you this cool in high school? I actually really like the eye patch, and the whole vampire thing is just as sexy on you as it is on Angel."

Xander shook with laughter as he pulled away. "Really?"

"Definitely," Cordelia said, her eyes dancing. "We might've actually worked out back then if we were us as we are now."

Xander blinked in bewilderment. "Huh?"

"But you've got other obligations, don't you?" Cordelia ignored Xander's confusion, leaned forward and whispered conspirationally, "You and Spike, huh?"

Xander smiled wryly. "Is it that obvious?"

"Those dopey looks you keep sending his way? Same ones you used to send me." Cordelia smirked, and she continued in a smug tone. "Plus is was kinda obvious, what with him grabbing your ass in the stairwell."

"Oh." Xander nodded, and he once again thanked the stars that vampires couldn't blush. "Yeah... Spike's not much for hiding his feelings. He had enough of that with Buffy."

"Spike and... Buffy?" Cordelia's eyes widened in shock. "Never mind - don't wanna know." She shook her head, and her smile brightened again. "You guys are good for each other. I can tell."

Xander smiled wistfully, glancing towards the elevator that Spike had disappeared into. "I like him. I don't know where it's going, but I really think this could last."

"It will," Cordelia said, still smiling, but completely serious. "You're going to be around for a long time now, Xander, and you two are going to take care of each other."

Xander felt a chill at the thought of outliving his friends, but it was followed by a warmth he hadn't felt since he died. He and Spike were both basically immortal. If they worked out in the end, they had all the time in the world to be together...

"And you'll both have Angel to keep you steady."

Xander blinked. "What?"

"All three of you need to look out for each other. No matter what differences you guys have, you're wrapped up in something huge," Cordelia continued. "Even though you all got there in different ways, you've all ended up as the same thing - vampires with souls. There's only three of you in the entire world, and the world needs you."

"Yeah, we're an endangered species," Xander muttered. "Cordy, Spike and Angel are the champions. I'm just a mistake. The Shanshu prophecy thing is their game, not mine... as much as I'd like it to be. I'm just along for the ride."

"And you're incredibly wrong," Cordelia insisted. "Xander, I don't have time to argue with you about this. Just know that I'm right."

Xander gave Cordelia a faint smile. "Because Cordelia Chase is always right?"

"Damn straight," Cordelia agreed. "Can you do me a favor?"

"Depends on what it is."

"You're an anchor - always were with the Scoobies, and I can tell you already are to Spike." Cordelia paused and took a deep breath. "Keep an eye on Angel for me."

Xander tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eye at Cordelia. "You're leaving?"

Cordelia gestured to the building around her. "I can't stay here. It's... too much."

Xander nodded in agreement. "Wolfram & Hart definitely seems like bad news. I can't understand why Angel actually wants to work here."

"Me, neither." Cordelia bit her lip and put a hand on Xander's shoulder. "This place will change Angel if he's not careful. That's why I need you to watch out for him."

"I don't think he'd appreciate me, of all people-"

"I won't tell him if you won't. Just please, Xander... promise me?" Cordelia's eyes pleaded with Xander to agree, and he finally nodded.

"I promise."

Cordelia smiled sadly and pulled him in for another hug. "I need to go talk to Angel... but tell the others I said goodbye."

"I will." Xander buried his head in Cordelia's shoulder. "I'll miss you."

"Miss you, too. I wish we'd kept in touch." She drew away and placed an affectionate hand on Xander's cheek. "Take care of yourself." Xander nodded, and Cordelia turned around and walked into Angel's office.

Xander stood in the empty lobby, mulling over what Cordelia had said. It was strange that Cordelia had expressed regret about not keeping in touch, but didn't give him her number or address. Xander shrugged, thinking he could get Cordelia's number from Angel, and he began fishing around in his pockets. He pulled out the calling card Wesley had given him after refusing to call Giles for him. Xander stared at it for a moment before moving to the elevator and pushing the down button.

It was time to face the hard stuff.

* * *

"You've reached the voice mail of Rupert Giles. I'm unavailable at the moment, but please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can. Thank you."

"Oh, come on... Giles, are you there? It's Xander. Where are you guys? I've already tried calling Buffy and Willow, and I got their machines, too. If you're there, G-man, pick up. Hello?

"Look, I'm just calling to... to let you know I'm okay. You might've been worried - I know I haven't talked to anyone in a while, but I'm okay. I've... I've got some... things to tell you, and I don't want to tell them to a machine. Giles, seriously - pick up the phone. I need to talk to someone.

"Huh. I guess you really aren't there. Hope everything's okay over there. Well... I guess I'll just... try back later. I'm calling from a pay phone, so I don't have a number to give you or anything... I know this is gonna strike you as majorly weird, but Angel knows how to get a hold of me if you feel like calling back. I'll explain that juicy bit of info when I talk to you.

"I guess... that's it. I miss you guys.

"And Giles... I... oh, never mind. Bye."

Part Six

Willow stared at the back of Giles and Buffy's heads, biting her lip. "Can't we just split up? You can go find the Slayer, and I'll go find Xander."

Giles sighed as he attempted to wave down a taxi. "Willow, we need you to help us find the Slayer, since you're the only one here that can sense them. And I'm not about to let you go find Xander on your own. He knows you care about him, and vampires often seek to destroy those that loved them when they were human. " A taxi sped past them, ignoring Giles's hail. "Damn these confounded cities! We should have just rented a car at the airport."

"Giles, let me." Buffy stepped up to the curb and waved her hand, and a taxi rounded the corner and stopped immediately. She smirked at Giles. "All of us should be there, anyway, Will," she said. "It's Xander."

"Can't we find the Slayer after we find Xander?" Willow asked, knowing what the answer would be. When she had cast the spell in Sunnydale to activate all the Slayers, her magic had become interwoven with the Slayer line. She could sense them all around the world, but at times there were some that would wink in and out of her mind. The one she was sensing now was one of those. They had to find her before she went beyond Willow's reach.

"This shouldn't take long. Even if we just get a name and an address - we don't have to give her the whole pitch tonight," Buffy said as she climbed into the taxi, Giles and Willow piling in behind her. "It's just one Slayer. How hard can it be?"

* * *

"I don't get it, Xander. He was pretty insistent that you two could handle this." Angel didn't sound angry, but he was bordering on annoyed. "Why did he run off without you?"

Xander kicked at a loose stone on the pavement and shoved his hands into his pockets. "I got pissed at him. He kept making jokes about... you know."

"You killing the Slayers."

Xander avoided Angel's gaze, staring down at the ground as they walked. "Yeah. He knows I don't like it when he kids about it, but... he's Spike."

"So you got pissed, and he left to go find the psycho Slayer by himself."

"Pretty much, except in between me getting angry and him leaving, he yelled some stuff at me about being too sensitive. Or something. He was speaking British, so I'm really don't know what he said."

"Moron." Xander glanced up at Angel's comment, who quickly amended it. "Not you. Spike. Are you sure he has a soul?"

Xander rolled his eye. "You've known him for longer than me. Can't you tell?"

Angel shrugged. "Not really. I can see the soul in his eyes, but he's the same Spike I remember."

Xander glanced at Angel, frowning. "He doesn't kill anymore. He still swears he'll go about ripping out your intestines, but it's all talk."

"And you can deal with that?"

"What, intestinal threats?" Xander shrugged. "I dated Anya, who tortured men for a thousand years and loved to tell the tales. Kinda numb to that kind of talk." Xander sighed and kicked another stone. "He really has changed, Deadboy. I know you don't want to see it, but he's... different. He cares."

"He's always cared. He stayed with Drusilla for over a hundred years. Even without a soul, he could still love."

"Yeah. That's why he got the soul in the first place. For love," Xander said in a quiet voice.

"For Buffy."

Xander didn't answer and continued to stare at the ground as they walked, following Spike's scent. His relationship with Spike confused him more than any other relationship he'd had. Cordelia was simple - meet in a broom closet, make out, and keep up appearances by constantly bickering in public. Anya was a bit more complex, but he always knew what her feelings were towards him because she was so vocal about them. Spike had shown how much he cared, but hadn't actually said anything to reflect how he felt.

"You're worried that Spike's using you. That you're just convenient to him."

Xander flinched at Angel's words. "I guess."

Angel looked straight down the alley, noticing a taxi driving towards them. "He does care about you. Like you said, I've known him for a long time. I can tell." The taxi slowed to a crawl, and Angel raised an eyebrow, but waved it off as someone being lost.

Xander gave Angel a sideways glance. "Not that I don't appreciate the fact that you're actually being nice to me for once, but can we maybe not talk about this right now? Maybe some other time, when I'm not fearing for Spike's life?"

"You don't think he can handle a Slayer by himself?"

"Hard to say. He's never fought an insane Slayer before."

Halfway down the alley, they both stopped as the scent they were following suddenly changed. Spike's usual smell of leather with a hint of smoke was overwhelmed with blood. Xander let out a dangerous hiss.

"Spike's blood." Xander took off running towards the building the scent was coming from.

Angel cursed underneath his breath. "Xander, wait!" He moved to follow him, but stopped at the sound of a familiar voice.


He turned and spotted Buffy as she got out of the taxi and headed towards him. Giles and Willow followed close behind her. Bad timing.

* * *

His fingers found grooves in the side of the building invisible to the human eye, and he effortlessly sailed up to the roof. For the first time since the cave, Xander felt like a vampire. He was strong, powerful, and nothing on earth could stop him.

Pausing when he reached the roof, his eyes scanned the shadows for an entrance. He finally spotted a broken skylight, and jumped through without hesitation.

He landed silently on his feet, and the scent of Spike's blood was suddenly overwhelming. Xander turned in circles for a moment before pinpointing the direction where it was strongest. Sneaking through the shadows, he finally spotted a flash of the familiar platinum blonde hair.

"Spike!" Xander stalking fell into a sprint, and he ran to the post Spike was chained against. "Oh, god."

The damage to Spike was immense. He'd been beaten excessively, and Xander would have thrown up the blood in his system if he still could when he saw where all the blood was coming from.

The bitch had cut Spike's arms off.


"You're still awake?" Xander got to his knees and cupped Spike's cheek in his hand. "Why did she do this to you?"

"Wasn't me..." Spike's half-open eyes slid closed again, and Xander looked around for something to tie around Spike's arms. He froze when he saw Spike's hands lying on a table a few feet away, and rage began boiling up inside him. His thoughts became patchy as anger started taking over.

So much blood. Life. MINE. Slayer...

Xander turned on his heel, his demon falling to the front. Growling, he bared his fangs at the figure standing across the room. Slayer hurt what's mine.

The Slayer began approaching him, brandishing a sharp blade in her right hand. "Demon. Keep cutting 'till you see dust."

Xander's demon was whispering in his mind to let it out completely. At the sight of the Slayer's blade, still wet with Spike's blood, Xander let go of the last bit of control he had. He leapt at her, his fingers curved into claws. Kill her.

* * *

"What are you doing here, Angel?" Buffy asked softly.

"I live here," Angel replied shortly. "What are you doing here? Last I heard, you were overseas." His tone of voice had a hint of sarcasm, one that Buffy didn't seem to pick up on.

"It's..." Buffy glanced over her shoulder at Giles and Willow. Giles narrowed his eyes and gave a small shake of his head. "A Slayer. We're tracking a Slayer."

"So am I, actually."

"Is that why you let a vampire escape? I saw one go up the side of the building." Buffy crossed her arms.

Angel hesitated for a moment. "Well, you stopped me before I could stop him."

"So Wolfram and Hart has an interest in Slayers, now?" Giles said, his voice laced with mistrust.

Angel glared at Giles. "We do when they're insane. She's already killed at least three people since she escaped."

"Escaped from where?" Buffy asked.

The sound of glass breaking inside the building reached Angel's ears and he spun towards the building. "You need to stay out of this one, Buffy. I know it's a Slayer, but it's probably better if you stay here. I'll explain later." Angel didn't bother to wait for a reponse, and he hoped that Buffy would actually listen to him for once.

She didn't need to see Xander right now. Angel had no idea what state of mind he'd be in, especially with how attached to Spike he'd become. If the Slayer had hurt Spike as bad as it seemed, Xander could be completely out of control.

* * *

Xander was laughing as he bounced back and forth on his bare toes. "Where's your 'holier-than-thou' attitude, Kennedy?" he said as he backhanded her across the face. "This is what you were made for! Fight the vampires, kill the vampires. It's why you exist!"

Kennedy fell to the ground and felt blood well up inside her mouth. She spat it out and got back to her feet in a hurry, hoisting her stake back up to her shoulders. Her entire body felt heavy, and she was ready to drop to the ground. She didn't understand it - Xander was hardly a fighter when he was human, but as a vampire he was so fast. She could barely get a hit in, while he could dart forward and smack her to the ground like it was nothing. She'd already taken quite a beating, and Nanyamka was still unconscious. Xander had hit her first thing after he jerked awake, snarling. He must have hit her just right, because she crumpled in an instant.

Xander was winning. And he was enjoying it.

"You know what really gets me, though?" Xander swooped down low and slammed his leg into the back of her knees, and he caught her as she fell. Kennedy cried out in pain as Xander's fingers dug into her shoulders. "You'll never be good enough."

Kennedy bucked, throwing Xander off of her. He stumbled back, his fangs shining brightly with the constant grin on his face. Kennedy cursed when she saw Xander holding her stake in his hands, tossing it back and forth. He was still laughing.

"You're a Slayer, but you're nothing compared to Buffy. Or Faith, even." Xander kicked high, catching Kennedy under the chin, and she fell once more. "You wanted to fight Drusilla... well, you wouldn't stand a chance against her. The most you could do was scare her away. And that really pisses me off - my sire should have been there for me when I woke up for the first time." He snarled and placed a hand on the back of the head, pushing her face into the ground. Kennedy gasped when he released her, and she spat out out a mouthful of dirt.

"And as a girlfriend," Xander continued as Kennedy tried to get up again and failed. "You know that you're nothing to Willow. Not like Tara was. You're just convenient." He circled around her, licking his upper lip as he kicked her in the side, grinning at the satisfying cracking sound her ribs made. He crouched down beside her, and Kennedy shivered as she felt his fangs scrape the side of her neck. "She doesn't love you."

* * *

It was near pitch black in the area of the warehouse they were fighting in, and the Slayer was struggling to keep track of where Xander was. Xander used that to his advantage, and he could see her perfectly, watching her jerky movements become more and more erratic as she struck at things that weren't there. He let a feral grin escape, enjoying toying with the girl. Slayer. Slayer caged me. He moved in swiftly and silently, and he tripped her, knocking her weapon out of her hand. He held her down, and she let out a whimper that was more animal than human.

"NO!" She cried out and bucked her off of him. "Not weak anymore!" she said and stood. She reached out to hit him, but he wasn't there anymore.

Xander flew out of the darkness and slammed her into the ground, knocking her unconscious. He stood over her for a moment before stooping down to pick up her dropped weapon. He studied it for a moment before kneeling behind her and placing the blade at her neck.

Something slammed into him, knocking him off the prone Slayer. He flew into the wall, crashing through it and landing in the next room.

"So the vampire Angel let escape came to kill a Slayer. Wolfram and Hart really has changed him." Xander felt a kind of familiarity run through him. There was an attachment to that voice. He rolled backwards into the shadows as a blonde girl stepped through the hole in the wall. A charge ran up and down his spine. Another Slayer.

"C'mon, guy. I've got a lot of important things to take care of tonight, and you're not one of them," Buffy said and she cautiously circled the room and drew her stake out of her jacket. She knew the vampire was still in here, but it was so dark...

A figure dropped down from the ceiling and onto her shoulders. Buffy managed to only fall to one knee, spinning around and kicking out at the vampire. He caught her foot in both hands, pushing her back. He leapt on top of her, bearing down.


Buffy twisted in the vampire's grip. "Willow! I could use some light!" She elbowed the vampire in the face, pushing him off of her. "Don't use the sunlight spell - I don't know where Angel is!" She struck out at the vampire, only to have her fist caught. It's like he knows every move I have... Buffy thought idly, throwing her other fist at him and knocking his grasp loose.

"Do you even know who I am?" Buffy snarked, hoping to distract the vampire until Willow could complete the spell. "What I am, what that other girl you tried to kill is?"

The vampire paused, and she saw a flash of fang in the shadows. "Slayer."

Buffy froze at the voice. It was darker, more guttural, but it was still...

Light flooded into the room.

"Xander," Buffy whispered.

Even with the vampire face, she could still see Xander underneath. He was still recognizable as Xander, but at the same time, he wasn't. His stance was predatory, completely unlike the Xander she knew, and he was studying Buffy with a dangerous eye.

"Oh, God." Buffy wasn't prepared for this. Not yet. She had been expecting to just stake another random vampire, and go the rest of the night without ever wondering who he'd been. Giles and Willow were still in the other room, and she couldn't do this by herself.

Xander used her hesitation to run her down, pushing her backwards until her back slammed into the wall. Buffy felt her feet leave the ground as he pushed her up it, his fingers bearing down on her windpipe. Xander grinned as she stared down at him with pleading eyes.

Something pulled Xander away from Buffy, and she fell to the ground. Arms looped underneath his and wrapped around the back of his neck, effectively pinning him while standing up. Xander howled his frustration at being pulled away from a kill for the second time, but he suddenly fell quiet. His demon recognized who was holding him, responding to the blood running within both of them... Angelus - something whispered inside him. "Slayer hurt what's mine!" Xander protested, his attempts to escape proving futile. He couldn't understand why his sire was holding him back from protecting their bloodline. "Slayer caged me. Let me kill her!"

"Xander!" Angel shouted. "Stop!" The firm command made Xander cease his struggling. Angel roughly jerked Xander back towards his chest, turning them both towards Buffy, who cowered on the ground staring up at both of them. "Look who it is, Xander. You recognize her, don't you?"

Xander licked his lips. "Slayer."

"Who else is she? You know her. Think, Xander." Angel lowered his voice and whispered in Xander's ear. "Get back in control. Don't let the demon control you."

Xander stared at Buffy, and his body slowly became more relaxed. His human face fell back into place. "Buf-fy," he said, his speech broken, but recognition shining in his eyes.

"Yes. She's Buffy. Your friend."


Angel relaxed slightly, and Xander suddenly burst through his hold and began charging at Buffy, his demon face shining through again.

A shout came from the edge of the room. "Xander! No!"

Xander froze and turned towards Willow, whose tear-streaked face was shining in the artificial light. She stepped towards him, hesitating. "I know you're in there, Xander. I can see you. You know us, don't you?"

"Willow?" Xander's face once again morphed back to his human visage, his expression filled with confusion. He looked from Willow to Buffy, who still sat frozen on the ground. Confusion melted into horror, and he reeled back, running into Angel and falling to the ground. "What... did I do?" he whispered. "Why did I lose control like that?"

"Your soul was forced into your body so soon after you woke up, I don't think the demon had a chance to adjust," Angel said. "It's harder to control something that can't even control itself."

"Xander... has a soul?" Buffy said quietly. "Will, that's why the soul restoration spell didn't work. He's already in there."

"Xander!" Willow cried, and she started closing the gap between her oldest friend and herself.

"Willow, wait." Giles grabbed Willow's arm, stopping her. "How do we know this is true?"

"Because I can see him! I can see his soul!" Willow said, her eyes still stuck on Xander's shaking form.

"How can you be sure?"

"Giles, trust me." She hesitated for a moment before continuing. "Something tied his soul to his body, and I can see it. It's really Xander, Giles!" She pulled herself free from Giles's grasp and moved to put an arm around Xander.

Xander jerked back when she approached, flinching. "Don't... touch me."

"Xander, it's us." Giles came up behind Willow, staring down at Xander in concern. "We don't care what you are. We care that you're all right."

"And I'm not 'all right' right now," Xander said, burying his face in his hands. "Don't come near me."

"Xander?" Angel crouched down beside Xander. "What made you lose control? Where is he?"

Xander jerked his head up, his eye wild and desperate. "Oh, God... he needs help right now, Angel. She cut his fucking arms off. Fred can fix him, right?"

Angel would have grown even more pale if it had been possible. "She... cut his arms off?" Angel stood up and reached into his jacket, pulling out a cell phone.

"Angel, hold on! Why didn't you tell me the vampire in here was Xander?" Buffy demanded.

"I knew you wouldn't have stayed outside if you knew who it was," Angel said as he dialed the phone.

"You couldn't have expected me to stay out of this! Why did you try to hide it?"

"He was protecting you, Buffy," Xander said. "He was protecting you from me."

"That's part of it," Angel said as he raised the phone to his ear.

"What's the other part?" Xander asked, looking up at Angel in curiousity.

"Someone asked me to keep an eye on you two. And I am." Angel paused. "Wesley?" He said into the phone. "We need a med team down here." He crossed into the other room and spotted the battered Slayer. "Enough staff for two," he added.

"Xander..." Willow reached out to Xander again.

"Don't. Not now, Willow." Xander stood back up and moved to follow Angel, avoiding Willow's eyes. "He's still hurt. I don't want to lose control again when I'm around you."

"Who's hurt, Xander?"

Xander paused, but didn't turn around.



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