Authored by: Tisienne (aka tistoo)
Rating: NC-17 overall
Disclaimer: I am not Joss. If I were, I'd have WAY more cash. Speaking of which, I make none from this. FB, please? *doe eyes*
Summary: Spike left the 'dale early in S7... Xander actually succeeded in getting Dawn away. He never lost his eye. Sunnydale went crater-y sooner than in the series. Xander and Dawn are in Philly with Spike. The boys are together in many, many ways.
A/N: Sorry for the wait. Upheavals at work. But here's part 29. No promises on the next part, but hopefully within a couple weeks. Many thanks to everyone who's been so patient with me. *hugs*
Previous parts can be found HERE
And now, on with it... in which there are a few surprises and still more questions appear.
* * * * * * * * *
The only good thing, as far as the heavyset man at the bar was concerned, was that while two of his lackeys were gone forever, the third had confirmed that the young brunette man had been as good as dead before the blond had shown up from out of nowhere. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he’d only have to pay the one guy now instead of the original three.
So yeah, things were working out just fine. He was going to get his money, and without spending anything like what he’d originally expected to.
He made one call from the pay phone back by the bathrooms—‘sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but Alexander Harris died in a mugging late last night. Yes, it’s really a shame. Me? Oh, I’m family…’—and he told his story, sure that it would help when he filed to collect the insurance on the useless kid… then returned to his spot at the bar.
“A round for the house,” he declared generously with a broad gesture as he slammed back his fifth shot of whiskey, “and a double for me. I’ve earned it.”
He didn’t notice the disgusted look on the bartender’s face… or the arched eyebrow of the one and only other customer in the place at that time of day. And he certainly didn’t feel anything strange through the alcoholic haze… nothing that might possibly be interpreted as someone rifling through his mind, which he possibly would have noticed had he been sober.
Or maybe not. After all, no one had ever called any of the Harris clan—with the possible exception of the undoubtedly dead young man—observant.
* * * * *
“Hey, Bailey… just calling to let you know I’m at Kent’s. The ‘Uncles’ needed some ‘alone time’. I guess you’re out with your Mom or something, so… have fun and if you want to call me when you get back, you have the number. Bye…”
It was only because of the very early morning phone call from Xander hours earlier that Dawn was so calm, and while she truly wanted nothing more than to run up to her apartment and see for herself that her big-brother-figure was truly alive and well, he’d sounded completely exhausted and wrung out. All he’d said, though, was that he was fine but hadn’t been and that Spike had somehow saved him.
Dawn wasn’t quite so of what to make of that, but buried beneath the weariness in Xander’s voice, she’d heard an emotion she remembered very well from all their time in Sunnydale, though she hadn’t heard it so much since they’d gotten to Philadelphia.
Embarrassment was what she’d recognized. Whatever had happened, Xander was embarrassed about it, so maybe… well, she figured he’d probably gotten mugged on the way to the ATM and she was already making plans to tease him about losing his Hellmouth wariness.
In the meantime, however, she was just glad that he was home and sounded fine, aside from the obvious need for more sleep.
A small frown crossed her lips and she leaned back on Kent’s couch, tossing the magazine she’d been flipping halfheartedly through onto the floor.
“Hey, Kent…?” she called out, her head dropping back as she stared at the ceiling, “I’m bored. Amuse me!”
The redhead couldn’t keep himself from laughing as he strolled into his living room from the kitchen, bottle of water in hand. “You know, Dawny, I think you’ve been spending too much time with Will. You’re starting to sound like him.”
Dawn snorted softly. “Oh, har-dee-har-har. I so don’t have an English accent. Or say ‘bloody’ every fifth word. Come on, Kent, I’m really bored. There’s not even anything good on Showtime now!”
One hand pressed to his chest as Kent gave the girl a horrified look. “Oh, Heaven help us all! Nothing good on Showtime?” He grinned. “Tell you what, honey. You just call those protectors of yours and make sure everything’s okay at home. Then if you feel like it, you can come to a late lunch with me and meet some of my friends, hmmm?”
The girl blushed slightly. “I wasn’t fooling you at all, huh?”
A small laugh. “Sweetie… being worried about your family isn’t something to be ashamed of. Call. Then lunch.” Kent grinned again, bigger this time. “I really think you’ll like the Diner.”
Well, of course she would, Dawn told herself. Aside from the dump, she’d liked everywhere Kent had taken her so far.
“Cool. Five minutes, okay?”
Grey eyes smiled as Kent nodded. “Take your time, Dawny. There’s no rush.” And there really wasn’t, although he had a feeling the girl was going to be a rather big shock to his friends… all of them. She was far more intelligent at her age than most of them were even now.
* * * * *
Xander hung up the phone with a small smile before finishing his journey to the kitchen and retrieving juice for himself and a carefully heated mug of cow-and-Xan for Spike.
His steps lagged slightly as he retraced his earlier path from the bedroom, teeth nipping lightly at his own bottom lip.
He’d almost died.
He got that part. He did.
But Spike had somehow known he was in trouble and had found him. And then the vampire had done… something… that had saved him. Healed him. Fixed it all.
Xander couldn’t be a hundred percent sure, but… he figured that Spike expected him to be upset about it; either because of the forced sex aspect, which had turned out pretty well, actually, or for some other reason that the vampire hadn’t chosen to share yet.
Either way, he needed to know what was going on.
It was his right, Xander figured. After all, if Spike had done something—which he clearly had—to change him enough that he didn’t even have anything but minor scars from being stabbed and nearly dying, well…
Thus it was that Xander was looking entirely grim when he walked into the bedroom again… stark naked or not.
“Tell me,” he said firmly as he sipped his juice and perched on the edge of the bed gingerly, his ass still tender from earlier. “Spike… you know I trust you. Love you. But I need you to tell me what happened last night. Before all the… s-sex involving my ass.” He blushed.
The blond sighed softly and accepted the mug his beloved was offering.
“You don’t recall?” He smirked softly, trying to play it off. “Right, then. You came back from th’ bank and begged me ta take you, luv, and what was a desperately-horny-for-your-hot-ass vamp ta do, other than say yes and get on with it?”
Spike sighed silently. ‘Can’t tell you the truth, luv… not yet. Goin’ ta take you a while to be ready ta know that I own you now. Can’t tell you I killed th’ bloody fuckers what tried ta kill you… can’t tell you that th’ soul was just as happy as th’ demon ta make them end…’
“Why?” Xander asked softly, finishing the juice and dropping the glass without care on the rug. “Why, Spike?”
The blond shrugged. “How th’ bloody fuck should I know? Just what you said, pet…”
Brown eyes closed for a moment as Xander prayed for guidance.
“No,” he answered as he crawled up the pale, toned body of his lover and pulled the nearly empty mug from unresisting fingers, “I mean… why can’t you tell me the truth, Spike?” The mug found a spot on the table beside the bed. “What makes you think I’ll hate you if you tell me that you killed the guys who attacked me?”
He gazed into fearful but unrepentant eyes for a shuttered moment before going on.
“Spike,” Xander said softly, “Do you really believe that I’d do any less if it was you who’d been attacked? Because… human, here. I have a soul, too.” His eyes hardened, his face taking on a sharp, vicious cast. “I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second if anyone hurt you or Dawn. I would kill them so dead their graves would be vibrating from the memory of the beating, alone.”
Spike found himself swallowing hard. “I… how did you… you couldn’t know what I was… I only thought that an’ th’ Claimin’s fresh! Only way you could know what I was thinkin’ is if we’d been sharin’ blood before, an’ we haven’t!”
It took less than a second of staring into those wide, gold-flecked blue eyes to make Xander come clean.
“Um… there might be something you should know about the blood you’ve been drinking, baby…” He blushed, tensing for the reaction.
* * * * *
Bailey was acting weird.
She really was.
In fact, Bailey was acting more than weird and Dawn didn’t know why.
Okay, so she hadn’t known the girl for years and years or anything, but they’d told each other things that Dawn had thought were so personal and private that they could literally tell each other everything now, and yet…
“Come on, Bails… I know there’s something bugging you,” she said while Kent entertained DeeDee in the kitchen. “Just say it, okay?” And try as she might, Dawn couldn’t remember her friend ever looking so freaked out. “Trust me, Bails,” she added, “I’ve heard just about everything!”
Bailey shivered slightly, even as she tried to hold herself together. Finally she spoke, her voice more a whimper than anything else.
“I… I think I’m going insane,” she whispered.
Her eyes closed as she reached out one hand, wrapping her fingers around Dawn’s slightly larger ones.
“I… yesterday,” Bailey muttered, “I was fine, you know? Just shopping. I mean, what else would I be doing on a weekend? And okay, sure it was just window shopping, but still…”
She swallowed hard, debating how much to tell her best friend before finally deciding to just say it.
“I was standing in front of that window. You know, the one that’s so… skanky. And then all of a sudden, I felt… something.”
She forced herself to meet curious eyes. “I don’t know what it was, okay? But later… I mean, it was early but it was still dark out, y’know? And I had cramps. But not like… period ones. It was… different,” Bailey blushed.
“Then I sort of… I couldn’t help it, Dawn! I swear! I felt this pull that dragged me to an alley I’d never go down alone and there was this girl sucking on some guy’s neck and I thought I’d just… interrupted them but…” Bailey paled even more than was normal for her.
“When he looked at me, his eyes were so… desperate. And then I realized that she had her hand over his mouth, and…”
Bailey sobbed softly, turning away from her friend. “I know this sounds crazy, but… I fought with her! She was like… twice my size, and what the hell was a hot guy like that doing with her in the first place, but… I fought her, Dawn! And I never even studied how to fight but I won and there was a piece of crate nearby and I stuck it into her chest and I… and I won, and…”
Dawn found herself blinking as Bailey’s voice trailed off. “And she turned to dust,” she supplied sadly. “The woman you were fighting turned to dust and just… blew away, right?”
Wide eyes became even wider as Bailey realized what her best friend had just said. “How… how did you know?” she demanded, unsure of whether she really had gone insane, all of a sudden.
The taller, darker girl swallowed hard and bit her lip. “I… I guess I should maybe tell you the rest of the truth about Sunnydale now… and Buffy. Because you’re not going nuts, Bailey. Or… not in the bad way.”
And if there was a tiny tear forming in the corner of Dawn’s eye at the sudden proof of her sister’s death, well… at least she really knew now, right?
“It’s like this, Bails…”
* * * * *
tbc... soon, I hope.