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
It was a cold wet day as they delivered Drusilla to Heathrow. Once again Spike did his best impression of a bereaved relative paying to send his sister back to her ‘husband’ in Brazil for burial. The sensitive kiss to the temporary coffin and words of endearment was not lost on the attendant, who looked to Xander for assistance as Spike, very genuinely hugged the box a last time before being assured that the remains would be honored and dutifully delivered to their destination.
Spike seemed in such a state of grief that the young woman at the airline counter offered that they be able to watch his dead ‘sister’ loaded safely on the plane. A customs official was swiftly summoned, and Xander led a genuinely upset Spike to a point beyond the usual admittance doors so they could watch the box loaded.
It was done. And Spike knew it would be the very last time he saw his black beauty in the flesh.
The aging customs officer noted the state of near collapse as the young blond was supported and led away by his friend, and hoped he *never* had to experience the angst of saying such a goodbye to any of his own family.
Somewhere mid afternoon and back at the coven, Spike was maudlin and nothing Xander did seemed to lift his mood. He refused food or blood and was eventually coaxed to their shared bed, where Xander lay spooned behind him, petted and rubbed Spike’s stomach with his good hand until his lover fell into a light sleep. He had, in truth, expected the angst, but the chaste kiss and quiet ‘thank you’ prior to Spike’s losing consciousness was enough to reassure. Now he had a statue to carve.
He slipped out of the bedroom and made his way to the workshop. Matti was there working on his own latest creation – an eagle mid takeoff. Xander whistled and smiled his approval and the young man blushed profusely.
“I assume all went well then?”
“Like clockwork, although I’m a bit worried about William. He… he just needs some rest after the Oscar award winning performance at the airport.” Though Xander knew it was not so much a performance as a final goodbye to a Sire that he could never explain to the young wiccan. “Hey, I don’t want to interrupt your stuff, but I wonder if you can give me a hand with the chainsaw part of the carve in the next week or so? Just that it’s a bit hard wielding the thing with the lack of digits.”
“Hey of course, you good to pencil the lines, and me good to cut. So long as you think I can do it justice.”
“Judging by your latest works… Hell I should be your apprentice.” To which Matti stared for a moment, rubbed over a wing of his latest creation, then gave a blinding smile and simple “Thanks.”
There was a moment of silence between the two men before Matti ventured to a worried looking Xander, “I kind of knew William’s history, you know, Mistress let us all know, but kind of didn’t realize how much he really cares about, well you know… everyone really... and family.”
“He’s one out of the box that’s for sure. Loves us, and loved her for a hundred plus years.”
“So is he OK? … I mean you said he is tired… but will he be OK?”
“Sp… William is a survivor and I have nothing to do now that’s more important. We do the sculpture and I’ll worry about him until I can make him OK.”
Matti looked hard at his mentor. “You love him so much, and he you. It will work out. So… where are the photos. Shouldn’t we get going on this thing?”
In the next few weeks the rough lines were cut, the chisels pounded and pushed, and the image of Drusilla emerged.
Sarah visited and was thrilled to report progress to Lilah, though the undead lawyer insisted on seeing the results for herself. A tense visit to the coven workshop ensued. Made worse by the fact that Spike (aka William) needed to hide in Xander's and his permanent abode for fear of discovery, condemned to watch from the window as the limousine delivered the ‘bitch’ to the front door of the coven.
The Mistress invited her for tea then led the woman to the workshop. Lilah grinned manically, congratulated the sculptor, and was consequently utterly convinced that a spell at Wolfram and Hart would see the resurrection of the paramour of William the Bloody and ingratiate her to the Senior Partners once more, though less than impressed by Sarah’s performance as ‘insider’.
She enquired politely regards Xander’s recent sojourn to Switzerland and France with a ‘friend’, hoping a name might be forthcoming, but was dissatisfied with the simple, “Just needed a break so took the opportunity when it arose. Hand was still painful.”
“Hmm, and your ‘friend’ is he a fellow sculptor?”
Xander was immediately on the defensive, but schooled his visage and stated plainly, and truthfully, “No. He’s an investor, had business in Europe and offered to take me as his guest, on a study tour as it were.”
The last comment was plausible enough, yet still Lilah wondered – particularly as the CTV coverage had been intermittently ‘down’. She blamed the various governing bodies of the cities involved; Sarah’s inability to keep tabs on the man; and W&H’s foreign offices’ incompetence for the lack of clear footage.
Though apparently the sculpture was on the way, she was still keen for long term leverage with this ex Hellmouth man who had run with the Slayer. She quickly resolved to use the elderly ex-watcher one more time before finding him a ‘new career’ somewhere in the bowels of the W&H London office, even if it meant not entirely human, or truly alive anymore.
She was also happy to make a brief phone call to the Moscow office regards an ‘item’ to be delivered on Tuesday of the following week. Sarah had to go. She would find another ‘minion’ to do her bidding at the coven.
One of their more unsavory demon clients, Maximillian was a black market consortium leader, a demon and warlock, who had a particular penchant for female humans. The ‘stupid girl friday’, Sarah, would be seen as a fine ‘gift’ from W&H. It would be an easy matter of enticing her onto the private company jet on the premise of a new assignment, alter her magic en route to bind her to the dictates of Maximillian’s will, after which she would be taken to Maximillian’s private compound. There was no doubt in Lilah’s mind that the girl would end up as one of the many ‘willing’ whores in the cartel run demon brothel, and pose no more embarrassment or frustration to Lilah. She was also confident that the coven would accept Sarah’s emailed explanation for her sudden move to the continent (a new job opportunity with the Watchers’), and would not miss her. Even Lilah could sense it was apparent the stupid girl had caused some sort of tension and mistrust.
A quick call to Wolfram and Hart and her PA ensured all was in place and ten minutes later, after confirmation, she followed it with a phone call to Sarah to ‘invite’ her to take on a special assignment in Russia starting immediately via their Moscow office. Sarah jumped at the offer as it meant *not* working directly for Lilah any more which was a relief.
As she was driven back to London in the limousine, the Wolfram and Hart pariah had it planned. She would keep the ‘Drusilla project’ within her direct control and let the Senior Partners know of the progress at various stages in the next month or two. She would have the old watcher keep tabs on the sculptor. Hopefully Giles would eventually extract information regards his ‘friend’, and be there when they were finally ready to draw the vampire’s essence to the statue post delivery.
She made contact with the ex-watcher as she drove back to the London office, the genuine promise of the usual reprisals if he refused, and the hollow one of rewards for the Watchers were he successful. She also mentioned that Sarah had ‘moved on to bigger things’ and demanded that Giles agree to visit the coven sculptor weekly to check the progress of her sculpture (and try to garner information on the mystery ‘friend’ for future leverage).
Giles took the call, however, he had made his own decisions as terms of his visit were dictated. After being a ‘double agent’ as it were, for a time, he had been threatened in no uncertain terms and of late seriously. In fact it was clear that his days were definitely numbered, and his resolve firmed. He had to make a stand. Regardless of past few months where his travel expenses had been covered plus some, there was a matter of Lilah’s never fulfilled promises of rich rewards for the Watchers’ Council were he and Sarah to do her bidding.
As he made a quick call to the coven to let them know of his arrival in around two hours he made a pivotal decision. This was to do with old allegiances – i.e. Xander and the coven wiccans – and self respect, so if a sacrifice was to be made, he would rather it be for the side of good and Gaia.
He had seen too much death and at the time of his agreement with the Senior Partners it had seemed a fair exchange - a little intelligence work in exchange for ‘anonymous’ donations to the Watchers’ Council to assist the Slayers in need – a deal with the devil – literally. Now he was too tired of the ‘games’, dismayed by the implied threats to old friends and the coven, and simply *could* not continue to betray all he cared about, people and his own principles. Nor could he live in constant abject fear, beholden to the biddings of an organization that, at the beginning, had promised rewards for the Watchers’ Council and protection for those he cared for. None of which had been forthcoming.
Not bothering with much in the way of clothes, he packed an overnight bag, threw it in the car and began to drive. He resolved to speak directly to the Mistress of the coven, if possible with Willow, and most certainly with Xander tonight and reveal all, unsure of their reaction of course and began to compose the speech in his mind as he navigated the freeway, then the back roads. And around twenty minutes from the coven, he had a moment of utter clarity.
He would beg their forgiveness and request that they might alter his form for all time, thus taking him from the Council’s, and Wolfram and Hart’s employ permanently, but remain at the coven. He rang forward to let the Mistress know of his imminent arrival, left a rather vague message on the coven answering machine. He then began to try to recall the necessary spell. He rather fancied the option of a barn owl as his new form and confidently added the appropriate Latin terms to the chant for later use.
Giles was not confident that the coven would help, but hoped. It was change and hide, or die slowly in fashion only Wolfram and Hart might implement. He was no fool and of the latter he was certain.
Contemplating the implications of a possible change in form, and in the last few minutes of his drive to the coven, Giles became strangely calm regarding his decision and mused that perhaps the ladies (and gents) of the coven would not mind having an extra ‘hand’ on deck to keep down the local mouse/rat population. The mere thought of consuming the same made him somewhat nauseous, but surmised that natural instinct would no doubt take care of that.