Title: Ghost in the Machine
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes later on - ie M/M
Summary: Post Black Thorn and final AtS - The PtBs screw with Spike yet again.
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Author’s Note: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators
Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life. Previous parts here
With thanks to the lovely petxnd for the wonderful banner
The next day could not have been more different.
Xander woke early as usual, barely after six, but found himself alone in their shared bed. He swiftly tipped onto the floor, donned a robe and swore as his knee hit the corner of the wodden base of the king sized bed, determined to seek out his lover and worried that Spike may have done... well he wasn't all that sure.
Instead of the distress of the past few weeks he found a disheaveled Spike typing madly at the computer in the corner of their darkened loungeroom come kitchen.
"Tell me this isn't bad... Is it bad?"
Spike spun around with a sly grin on his face, "Nah Pet, it's bloody brilliant, but you've gotta promise me sommit."
Xander was still only half awake and somewhat perplexed but still managed a put upon, "OK... What now?"
"Gotta act as if it's business as usual... 'cept for one thing."
Xander was curious, "And that would be?"
"Have ta call me William or Wil... always... from now on."
"But Spike wh..."
"'S all part of the plan."
"Plan? What plan? And I thought..." He stared at Spike hard, trying to discern the reasoning without adding more.
"You do introduce me as that now - a given - but have ta do it in private too. See if anyone clues in and there's a slip sometime... Just do this one thing OK? I'm goin' after the bastards at W&H and Ripper, if he's part of it, so need to change a few things. Hair is not an issue..."
"I love your longer hair, and the colour, though do miss the..."
"Me, don't miss the burn of peroxide. Never picked you for likin' it though. Anyway... Mistress is sortin' some contacts. Make me peepers look dark green, saves cluein' in the not so friendlies. 'N thinkin' of growin' a bit of a beard, somthin' roagishly stylish, a goatie."
Xander was even more confused. "Spike... sorry Wil, why?"
"Cause you twonk, need 'em to *continue* to think I'm done and dusted. Gives us a chance to catch 'em out as it were."
"Catch them out how?"
"Red's tracked down Dru."
Xander suddenly realized the implications and stared wide eyed at his lover. "Oh... How?"
Spike swung from his chair and stood in front of Xander with the most widest grin Xander had seen since their return from Finland. "Red did a spell... on the quiet mind. She's in Bolivia! Bloody brilliant! So she's still around. Don't you get
it... your idea after all!"
Xander still looked a little non-plussed.
"'Twas your idea pet! She's not dusted! Seems as she still has a thing for Chaos demons, and those buggers mess with the whole dusted or not scenario, no doubt the ooze from their antlers would do the trick! Willow has done some on the ground work through her contacts and it's confirmed that she's still around." Spike smiled a little at that, though still felt a pang of old hurt but smiled slyly in Xander's direction.
"So... if we can get her somewhere safe, ward her (or bloody well tie her down - which wouldn't be a first) and then you do *your* bit with the wood and such. So... do the carving and they'll try to pull her back which they can't if she's still on
this plane, then bloody Wolfram and Hart, can't restore their vamp from dust, and instead get a very nice art piece, and leave us *all* alone! I get to stay. You get to keep being the handsome one eyed artiste. An' Dru's off the hook for good."
Xander's face fell a little at the last statement. "You still care for her, don't you? I mean isn't she's still killing?"
Spike stepped into Xander's personal space at the last statement, pulled him close and kissed him soundly. "'Course she is Pet. And I do care for her, did for a hundred plus years, but I don't... not like *that* anymore before you ask. Just don't want the lawyers screwing her over like they did me ol' Sire, or Grand Sire (bitch Darla) for that matter. She may be dotty and deadly, but noone should be dragged back to human the way Darla, or me for that matter, was."
"Is that what you feel like... like you were pulled back here against... well everything?"
Spike tempered his excitement for a minute then replied slowly, "I'm still gettin' me feet on the whole human with a demon thing OK? But I know a couple o' facts you need to get your noggin around. I *want* to be with you. I *love* you. I *need* to feel useful. And I don't like others messin' with family!" He finished the statement with a firm kiss then waited.
Xander, still recovering from the moment, managed to process the whole scenario and made a point of using the name he would have to become used to, "So... Wil... What if I carve her and *we* (well OK the coven and co.) do the spell, then she..."
"She's mad as a bloody Hatter, Xan, and to my way of thinkin', the bloody Senior Partners only want her for her 'seeing' abilities and aught else. An' besides, she'd end up eatin' the help like last time (mind you, must have been a feast)"
If Xander hadn't been around *Wil* for long enough, or known the history of both the Wolfram and Hart debarcle or the prior hundred plus years of keeping Dru safe, that might have been disturbing.
Spike continued, "Unless they leashed 'er... and there's no justice in that. She'll likely be stuck forever in one of their vaults, only to be pulled out on demand. Like keepin' a tiger in a cage then feedin' it only when you need sommit done to match some warped agenda."
"And Willow can find her?"
Spike raised an eyebrow and simply stated, "Which part did you miss? She's already found her."
"So what now? I mean, do we have to get her here or something?"
"Here's not a good idea pet. Wolfram and Hart get a whiff of the plot they'll be all over it. No, we head off on a bit of a holiday, your recouperation or some such. Make contact and..."
"What? Get eaten?!!"
Spike had the courtesy to look a little miffed, "Well... that is a possibility. But Xan I still have the demon in me, you know that and so will Dru. It might be a little awkward at f..."
Xander was utterly inscenced, "A *little* awkward??!! What? She chomps on me then you two have it off... or the other way around?? I thought..."
Spike pushed his lover away for a moment but kept physical contact via a hand on hip, then said very slowly, "There is .nothing. .between. .us. .now. My demon will simply call to hers, making the message easier for her to understand. She simply needs to get *warded* so the psychics or Senior Partners can't find her essence. They rely on accurate locator spells, the Chaos demon she hangs with has done a pretty good job so far." Spike stopped to spit on the ground and quote a bastardized line from the head of Wolfram and Hart in Rome, "We shall speak of him no more."
Then continued, "We need to be sure they can't get to her in any way. Xan... do you understand? Please sweetheart? We need to do this... not just for her, for the coven... and perhaps even for Giles."
Xander relented, pulled Spike into a warm hug then commented, "Maybe dark red hair would look good on you since it's so long? With the green eyes you could even pass for Irish?!"
Xander earned a solid slap on the backside for the comment, "Bloody hell! English here! I'll dye it black afore I go down that track."
Spike extracted himself from the embrace and stomped toward the bathroom tugging at his unruly locks and muttering expletives. For Xander it was a somewhat wonderful light relief. They had much to do, and the Mistress Yollanda (and Willow) was already informed of their plans. The somewhat disgruntled Xander having to admit that the two women were probably far more informed than he had been!
Xander forwent a shower, instead pushing his head under the faucet in the kitchen and half drying with a tea-towel before pulling a comb harshly through his tangled locks and stomping off to get changed. He pecked Spike on the cheek and mumbled an "I'll be in the workshop if you need me." The throw away comment resulting in his *William*
grabbing his arm (with what he would still describe, supernatural type strength given their relative sizes) spinning him and pressing him against the alcove next to the door.
"Don't get away with leavin' all angry 'n such. Who do I belong to?"
Xander was so busy being 'nonplussed' he almost missed the growl that was *definitely* demonic. He managed to squeak out a "You!" before his lips were claimed and a strong male hand found his nether regions.
"Too bloody right you do. Now you go do your thing with the fancy fairy sculptures 'n let me get on with the rest of this mess."
As Xander extracted himself and made to leave, his partner threw another comment that would have him thinking all day, "By the way, did I mention, looking to head back over the drink to sort a few money matters, trip for two, you 'n me, weekend after next. Gather some Euros, a few good shags and call in a couple of favors"
Xander tried a scowl but simply managed a simple puzzled look then ground out (as he headed out and pulled the door shut) "You're incorrigible *William*!"
Spike raced to open the door only to be in time to see the back of his lover almost entering the workshop, "Didn't think they taught that word in US schools anymore."
For that he was happy to see a glove covered single finger, may not have been the right digit, the sentiment was all there.
Later that afternoon Matti and the two wiccans who had made it their business to 'skill up' in the woodworking department were as stunned as Xander as a grinning, *green* eyed, dark brown haired (with stylish highlights), William graced their presence. His clothes were styled in up-market London fashion, understated in their 'I'm a rich kid' fashion, temporary tatoo showing on his lower arm, short stubble of a goatie beard showing, and 'skater' shoes to complete the look.
"Pushed some things forward is all. Flights are booked for tomorrow. So what ya think of the do? Girls at the coven were quite into the whole... change thing."
Xander was rather taken aback. "I... You... How do you do that?! How do you always..."
"Look so devilishly handsome, no matter the era? Point here is luv, only you get to recognize me for the 'blondie bear' that once was... Hope you like it?" Spike shot a look toward Xander that could be interpreted as a little vulnerable.
Xander shook himself then replied, "No! Fabulous! But how... Oh don't worry... Any news from Willow or you know?"
"Got a good heads up, but needs be, take a day or two to sort things, then it's all hands on, if you get my drift. Hence the 'short break'. You don't have to start the carving 'til next week, and we have a bit of 'business' to deal with in the meantime. And before you go fretting... Mistress has given me a spell that'll sort the customs folks re the new look, *and* I fully intend to treat ya nice this weekend."
The two wiccan's giggled audibly and Matti grinned. It had been a while since he saw Xander smile, and the waning light of the afternoon seemed to light up his face.
Xander turned to his fellow workers, "I guess we can pack up for the day. And it seems like I'm out of the shop for a few, so you guys work on your own stuff... OK?"
The three simply smiled and nodded, and Matti added, "No problem Xan, we'll deal."