Title: Nothing the Same
Pairing: Spike/Xander, eventually
Rating: PG for now
Feedback: yes, please
Concrit: any and all
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Summary: AU from The Harvest. Xander doesn't deal well with Jesse's death and everything changes from there.
He’d just reached the ground with one foot still on the ladder, when a hand closed on the back of his collar, yanking him off the ladder. He yelped in shock and found himself slammed face first into the brick wall of the factory. The breath whooshed out of him and before he could move he was spun around and slammed into the wall a second time, this time his back taking the impact. Still struggling to get his breath back, he caught his first glimpse of his attacker: yellow eyes and hair that shone white under the streetlamps.
“You’ve got a real death wish, mate.” The vampire cocked his head to one side. “It’s almost interesting.”
Xander froze. For an endless second, the only thought in his head was: careful what you wish for. Snapping out of his paralysis, he began slowly edging one hand behind himself, trying to be inconspicuous. He managed to pull the cross out of his back pocket and was bringing it up to ward the vampire off when a grip like steel closed around his wrist. The vampire smashed his hand into the brick wall and Xander gasped in pain as the cross fell from his suddenly nerveless fingers. The vampire kicked it further away.
“Now, now,” he drawled. The vampire’s English accent somehow just added to the unreality of the situation. “It’s not polite to pull a weapon in the middle of a conversation.”
“Is that what this is?” Xander asked hopefully. Conversation sounded so much better than any other option he could think of. He could do talking.
The vampire took half a step back, releasing Xander, who stayed leaning against the wall, willing his legs to stop shaking. “Dunno yet, could be,” the vampire answered, fishing around in his pockets for a moment. Xander briefly considering running like hell but the moment his muscles tensed the vampire’s eyes flashed back to him and he growled. Xander subsided, knowing he couldn’t outrun the vampire anyway, not with his still trembling muscles. Except for that, he was pretty sure Olympic sprinters wouldn’t be able to catch him if he got the chance to run. He was surprised when the vampire found what he was looking for and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.
“You smoke?” he blurted out before thinking. He knew vampires didn’t breathe, could they get anything out of smoking if their lungs didn’t process oxygen?
The vampire just looked at him over the flame of his lighter. “Not like it’s going to kill me.”
The tone didn’t encourage sharing and that was the end of that conversational gambit. The vampire seemed content for the moment to just stand there, smoking and studying Xander. The intensity of his gaze made Xander twitchy but he wasn’t about to complain. He was pretty sure that complaints would lead to seriously bad things he didn’t even want to think about.
“What’s your name?” he finally asked, unable to stay quiet any longer.
If anything, the stare intensified. “Spike.”
“Was that your name when… before you became a vampire?”
Before Xander could get another question out, the vampire - what kind of a name was Spike? - had slammed him back against the wall, holding Xander with one hand around his throat. Xander clawed at the fingers restricting his breathing but the vampire just tightened his grip, shaking him a little.
“You seem a little unclear on the pecking order, boy.” It was disconcerting to see the cigarette still dangling from the vampire’s lips. Keeping him pinned obviously took no more effort than it would take for Xander to pin a kitten. Less, he thought resentfully, because a kitten had enough teeth and claws to do at least a little damage. The inhumanly strong grip didn’t ease up until Xander’s struggles had stopped, more from a complete lack of oxygen than acquiescence. Just before he passed out, the vampire released him and he sagged against the wall, barely able to stay standing as he gasped for air.
“What were you doing up there?”
Xander took several more deep breaths while he thought frantically. “I was lost?” he finally said hesitantly. Xander wasn’t sure which would be worse, lying or admitting that he’d been spying on the vampires inside the factory. The rising growl told him that lying wasn’t going down well as did the fact that the vampire grabbed him by the throat again. Ok, it had been a lame-ass try but the lack of oxygen had seriously hampered his ability to think of a better story. “I was watching the vampires inside,” he rasped out around the restricting grip. Spots were beginning to swim before his eyes and oxygen was becoming a serious issue again when the vampire eased off. Xander took several whooping breaths, almost missing the vampire’s next question.
When he’d gotten enough breath back to speak again, Xander tried a shrug. “Curiosity?” he offered, really not feeling like sharing the whole story.
The vampire cocked his head. “How long have you been watching them?”
“How. Long.” A not particularly gentle thump of his head against the wall accompanied each word.
“About an hour,” Xander admitted.
The vampire gave a short laugh and let go of Xander’s throat. “Not only a death wish, but incredibly bad timing. You need a keeper, boy.”
With anyone else, Xander would have snapped something back at that crack. With this guy, he didn’t want to push his luck. He stayed quiet, watching the vampire warily as he gingerly rubbed his throat.
The vampire began pacing up and down in front of him, just a couple of short steps up and back. Xander debated whether he should go for the stake he carried, but given the flickering glances the vampire kept shooting in his direction, he decided against it. He was beginning to have a lot of sympathy for those stupid animals that froze in front of predators, hoping not to be seen. Right now, he felt remarkably like them.
The vampire suddenly stopped in front of him and gave him another long stare. Scared to take his eyes off of him, Xander just stared back. The vampire leaned closer and Xander would have flinched back except his backside was already trying to become one with the wall. The vampire grabbed a fistful of Xander’s jacket and pulled him forward. He resisted, trying to brace himself against the pull, but without any success. He pushed hard against the vampire’s chest but the vampire simply grabbed Xander’s wrists and forced them behind him. Xander was struggling wildly now but it wasn’t having any effect. The struggle took place in an eerie silence as Xander was terrified of alerting the vampires inside the factory by screaming. One vampire was more than he could handle, he really didn’t need others coming out to see what was going on. The vampire transferred both wrists into one of his hands and grabbed a fistful of Xander’s hair, yanking Xander’s head back, exposing his neck. He dipped his head and Xander felt a tongue rasp along the length of his neck.
Sheer terror broke his silence. “No!”
With a snarl, the vampire suddenly pushed Xander away from him and he smacked into the wall once again. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Me!” Xander yelped incredulously. The pain of being smashed into the wall yet again momentarily had anger overriding fear. “I didn’t do anything. I’m the attackee here, nimrod.” His heart was still hammering in his chest and he could hardly believe he wasn’t dead. It suddenly occurred to him that he had been less than diplomatic with the serial killer. “Umm, sorry, cancel the nimrod.”
“Stay away from me, boy, if you know what’s good for you.” The vampire stalked off, coat billowing dramatically behind him. Xander watched him go, stunned and confused by the sudden release and dazed to find himself still alive.
“Yeah, I could make a dramatic exit too, if I had a really cool leather coat,” he muttered resentfully, wishing his legs would stop shaking so he could get the hell out of there.
He didn’t realize the vampire had heard him. Spike found his lips twitching at the snarky comment until he realized that he was allowing himself to be amused by a human child. He snarled and stalked past the door to the factory, completely forgetting his original intention of thrashing the idiots inside. Never having been big on introspection, Spike refused to even consider the question of why he wasn’t going back and simply killing the boy.
He really needed a drink.
An hour later, staring moodily into his fourth drink, Spike found himself wondering why the hell he had come back to Sunnydale. Oh, he knew why he was here. Dru had told him to come and so here he was, love’s bitch, faithful to the end, still loyally doing whatever Dru said. He just didn’t know what the bloody hell he was supposed to do now that he was here.
Dru’s visions weren’t exactly a reliable guide, after all. Sometimes she was spot on but other times she could be so far off the mark it was downright bizarre. He snorted, downing the drink in one go and signaling the bartender for another round. A bit of fang got the service moving faster, the barkeep hastily splashing an extra measure into his glass.
After all, it had been one of Dru’s visions that had sent them to Prague. She’d insisted that the stars told her they would only sing to her there, in Prague. And they’d had fun, for several weeks. But there were too many people who believed in the old ways there and Dru had nearly gotten herself torn apart by a mob. Spike had barely been able to save her and they’d had to leave town in a highly undignified fashion that he still didn’t care to think about.
Then Drusilla had gotten sick. Spike hadn’t felt so helpless since he’d been human. Nothing he did helped and she’d gotten steadily weaker; unable to hunt, barely able to feed, fading a little more each day until she was too weak to even leave their bed. She lain there for days, skin mottled with bruising, while Spike had raged helplessly. He’d beaten and bribed minions, ordering them to find a cure, promising them the world on a platter if they succeeded and painful, lingering death by torture if they failed.
And they had failed. They’d researched and sought out witches and seers and they’d gotten nowhere. Drusilla herself had slipped further and further away from him, talking in a frail voice about the things her dolls told her. It had been all Spike could do not to rip Miss Edith to bits, just to stop her talking to Dru, so that maybe Dru would see him as he sat by her side night after night begging her to eat something.
During those desperate days, Drusilla had told Spike he needed to go to the California Hellmouth. She’d insisted his “destiny” awaited him there, whatever the hell that meant. She’d rambled on about the dark energy beneath the books and a wounded kitten and how the flowers all withered and died until he found himself promising her they would go to Sunnydale just so she wouldn’t talk about it anymore. She’d smiled and slept then, and he had gathered her carefully in his arms and held her.
She’d gone silent in her last few days, too weak to speak. Spike had stayed with her, holding her, trying to coax her into drinking a little, talking to her softly about the fun they would have when she was strong again. Sometimes, he thought a faint smile would cross her lips as he talked to her about the glorious years when they had cut a bloody swath through Europe. And then one morning, he had woken to an armful of dust and his Black Goddess was gone.
He didn’t really remember how he’d gotten to California - he hadn’t been anything approaching sober the entire trip. Somewhere along the way he’d acquired an old car and he had a dim recollection of racing the sunrise across the desert while drinking himself into yet another stupor. He was vaguely surprised to find himself still intact when he’d sobered up enough to discover that he was in southern California and not far from the Hellmouth.
Having come so far, he kept his promise to Dru. He’d arrived in town earlier this evening not long after sunset and within an hour he’d learned that Angelus was in Sunnydale. Still acting the complete git and apparently panting after the Slayer du jour. Angelus had staked his own Sire over the bint - some 16-year old school girl, still only playing at being the Slayer part time. Spike shook his head. Unbelievable, even for Angelus.
Unlike most vampires, Spike had very little patience for ritual and traditions, but family had once meant something to him. Staking your own Sire was a bit over the top. His whole clan had become a serious embarrassment. The Master had let himself get killed by a Watcher and his successor was a child so recently turned he still smelled of the dirt from his grave. That child was the current Master of the Hellmouth.
It was obvious that his destiny was to take over as Master of the Hellmouth. There wasn’t any one else fit for the title and Drusilla had foreseen it. Other than a scattering of minions, he and Angelus were about all that was left of the Aurelius clan and Angelus was barely even a vampire any more.
Signaling for a refill, Spike wondered where the night had gone wrong. He’d learned what he needed to know from the barkeep and some of the other patrons and had headed over to the factory where the child who called himself The Anointed One held what could laughably be called his Court. Spike shook his head in disgust. His Court. A bunch of vampires so weak they would follow a child with a fancy name. Spike couldn’t see that anointing had done anything for the boy or The Master who’d apparently set such store by the child.
Circling the building, he’d been disgusted to find the boy king had set no sentries. There’d been no security at all, as evidenced by the fact that a human was spying on them and they hadn’t even noticed. It wasn’t even a professional demon hunter, just a boy with no special skills. That he was just an ordinary boy was obvious from the way he was dressed and his almost complete lack of weapons. When the boy started down the ladder, his movements gave away the fact that he had no training or experience in stealth. He was quiet enough, but a professional would have gotten down from the catwalk in half the time, not to mention would have heard Spike coming as he met the boy at the bottom of the ladder.
The boy had been frightened but surprisingly able to control it and Spike had been curious enough to not kill him immediately. The boy had reeked of grief and loneliness. Fear and anger were also there, adding to the scents wafting off the boy. It was an intoxicating mixture and Spike had found himself inhaling deeply, relishing the mingled scents. He’d looked into dark eyes half covered by thick dark hair and seen the sadness and loneliness living there and for a moment, it had been like looking into Dru’s eyes again.
He’d found himself leaning forward, drinking in the rich, dark scents, had even tasted the boy. Reveling in the taste and scents, he realized that he’d completely forgotten about Drusilla and was considering turning the boy. Considering molding all that loneliness and anger into a perfect, dark Childe.
Revolted, he’d shoved the boy away from him. The last thing he needed was a Childe. He’d loved Drusilla with ever fiber of his being, but she had taken a lot of looking after. He was not about to saddle himself with another burden. Still, the boy continued to intrigue him. He found himself wondering what was tormenting the boy and what had driven him to watch vampires in their lair. Regardless of what the boy had said, it was more than mere curiosity that brought him to the factory. The smell of grief had nearly overwhelmed Spike when he’d asked why the boy was there.
Abruptly slamming back his last drink and tossing some bills onto the bar, Spike left. He needed to get back to his promised destiny. It was too late now to follow through with his original plan, so he needed to find a decent crypt for the night. Tomorrow night, he would tackle the Anointed Infant and take over his Court. That was why he was in town, after all.
And if he dreamed of Drusilla’s voice talking about a wounded kitten, well that was just too bloody bad. Dru and her kitten could sod off.