orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,
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orchidluv
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NTS Book 2, Chapter 31

Nothing the Same, Book 2
Chapter: 31/?
Pairing: S/X
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on. 
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same. 
WARNING:  THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT VIOLENCE.  Plus, Spike swears a lot.
Previous parts here

Chapter 31

Spike leaned tiredly against the cave wall, letting the ax he was carrying drop to his side. “Bloody, fucking hell,” he complained. “These bitches don’t know when to quit.”

Across the dimly lit cave, Angelus was holding up his own section of wall. “They weren’t so tough,” he disagreed, despite the blood dripping down his thigh.

He and Angelus had gone to the cave indicated in the Mayor’s information and found three demons, all females with grey skin, red eyes, pointed ears and multiple horns on their foreheads. They hadn’t seemed like anything special but they were amazing fighters: tough and strong and vicious. Spike swore, looking down at the tattered sleeve of his duster where one of the demons had shredded the leather with her claws, the long nails slicing through the leather like paper, digging into his upper arm and leaving four long tears that were still oozing blood.

He straightened up, kicking at the demon’s corpse for the disrespect to his beloved coat and looked at his Sire. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” He badly needed blood to help heal the injuries which were throbbing painfully. Angelus clearly needed some as well - he was limping heavily, one of the demons had torn his thigh open even as Angelus had buried a knife in her chest.

“You said there were more of these?” Angelus asked.

“Yeah. Supposed to be about a dozen running around.” After a pause, Spike said grudgingly. “This were the only place I knew they were holed up. I’ll see if the Watcher knows anything. Be embarrassing if these bitches got the Hellmouth open while we’re still running around lookin’ for them.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Xander stretched and considered his options, finally deciding on shade over sun. He crossed the courtyard to the large shade tree that he frequently ate lunch under and stretched out in the dappled shade under its branches, taking a break from the increasingly scary research they’d been for most of the day.

Spike had given him a packet of information to pass on to Giles and asked him to see if Giles knew anything about a group of demons called the Sisterhood of Jhe. Giles had flipped through the information the Mayor had given Spike, then gone through it all again more slowly, looking very disturbed. He’d immediately begun pulling out his own books and had quickly found several alarming references to the Sisterhood that corroborated the Mayor’s information.

Sitting down heavily, Giles had looked at Xander bleakly. “Would you mind finding Buffy and bringing her here immediately?” he’d asked.

Xander knew Spike was worried about these demons as well, so he simply nodded, not asking any questions, and had hurried out. Buffy was at her locker and willingly followed Xander back to the library, where the librarian filled her in on the Sisterhood and their plan to open the Hellmouth.

They spent most of the day in the library, with Oz joining them, reading through the books Giles’ pulled, finding numerous references to the Sisterhood, although there wasn’t a lot of detail to most of them. Giles had spent over an hour on the phone in his office, emerging frustrated and angry to tell them that the Council was refusing to take his calls, and most of his other sources wouldn’t talk to him. “Idiots,” he snarled. “As if I would call them for anything less than an apocalypse.”

Buffy looked up from a delightful account of how the Sisterhood liked to celebrate their victories by eating the bodies of their opponents. “It’s apocalypse bad?” she asked.

“I’m afraid so. Opening the Hellmouth will unleash untold numbers of demons on earth. Eventually, they will overwhelm humanity and rule the earth.”

“I’m voting no, personally,” Buffy said grimly, opening another book with uncharacteristic dedication. “Really not wanting to see what would happen if the Hellmouth opens.”

By mid-afternoon, Xander was tired and the print was swimming until he could barely read it. He arbitrarily proclaimed it was time for a break, Buffy agreeing eagerly. She and Giles had gone off to spar, and Oz had gone to the music rooms, but Xander just wanted to go outside for awhile. So here he was, stretched out under a tree, enjoying the light breeze tossing the leaves and shifting the sunshine-and-shade patterns on the grass.

Days like this, when the weather was perfect: warm and sunny, with a slight breeze moving the air, he sometimes ached for the fact that Spike would never be able to sit outside with him, lazy and content in the warm sunlight, enjoying the pleasure to be had in daylight.

“I’m sorry, all right? It was an accident.”

Hearing the nervous, stammering voice near by, Xander rolled lazily onto his side to see what was happening. Jonathan Levinson was backing away from Jack O’Toole, who was looking dangerous and seriously pissed off. Of course, Jack almost always looked like that. Sitting up, Xander saw that Jonathan had apparently tripped over Jack, spilling his soda on Jack’s leather jacket. He sighed.

Jack was the school psychotic. All high schools seemed to have one, just like they had a Princess, a Slut and a Junky; kids that seemed born to fill those roles. Jonathan was one of the few people who had actually been lower on the totem pole than Xander for much of their mutual school years, before last year when Xander had managed to slip out of the Hopeless Loser group by virtue of being viewed as borderline psychotic for much of last year. He was just grateful that this year he’d managed to achieve the status of acceptably cool outsider.

He hadn’t realized that he’d rolled to his feet and was approaching the confrontation until he heard himself speak. “Jack, how’s that whole psycho serial killer image working out for you? You don’t find it’s a little 80’s and tired?”

Ok, he knew that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull but jeez, Jonathon was like three feet tall. He was no match for Jack and someone had to do something before Jack hurt him.

Apparently, he’d elected himself as that someone. He really was an idiot.

Jonathan, who wasn’t dumb, threw Xander a grateful look and took to his heels, which Xander really didn’t blame him for.

“Harris, you wanna be starting something?” Jack sounded eager and Xander gave him his best “nothing to see here” smile, stepping back, hoping to avoid the consequences of stepping deliberately on the wasps’ nest.

“Not me, Jack. Just trying to stop you from making a serious mistake.”

“And what exactly would that be?” Jack really had the scary, threatening voice down pat. Fortunately, Xander had heard much scarier ones.

“Well, picking on Jonathan, really not going to help your reputation. You don’t want people to think that you waste your time on kids his size, do you?”

Suddenly there was an enormous hunting knife in Jack’s hands and Xander jumped back. Weapons had not been in the script. “Whoa! Let’s not get carried away here.”

“You calling me a coward, Harris? I ought to cut your throat with Katie here.”

“Katie?” he couldn’t help asking, his eyes riveted on the knife.

“You like her?” Jack had a seriously crazy smile on his lips and Xander was liking the situation less and less.

“She seems… very nice.” Xander put his hands up in a surrendering motion, bringing them up into a position where he could use them to defend himself while still seeming as unthreatening as possible. “Why don’t I leave the two of you alone?”

“Afraid, Harris?”

“Of the psycho with the enormous knife? A little,” he admitted frankly.

“It’s not about the knife, Harris. It’s about who’s got the least fear.” And suddenly, to his complete disbelief, Jack was slapping the knife into Xander’s hand. “Think you can take me, Harris? Or are you afraid?”

With a quick flick of his wrist, Xander sent the knife spinning away from them. In the same movement, he swept Jack’s legs out from underneath him and dropped down on top of him as he fell, landing with one knee in the center of Jack’s chest. He pressed all his weight into the knee and grabbed Jack’s throat with one hand, leaning down to glare into his eyes.

“You know,” he said conversationally. “My boyfriend is really into weapons. Almost embarrassingly fond of them. And even he doesn’t name them. You should really talk to someone, Jack.”

He didn’t wait for an answer. Rolling free, he jumped to his feet, backing up rapidly until he was well clear of the other boy. “I don’t want to see you picking on Jonathan again, Jack,” he said calmly and turned and walked away, listening carefully to make sure Jack wasn’t going to try anything. In some ways Jack wasn’t wrong. There was a lot of bluff involved in intimidating people. There was no sound of movement behind him and Xander kept his pace normal as he headed back towards the main cluster of students.

He was so going to thank Spike for teaching him to defend himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Giles!”

They all looked up as Buffy burst back through the library doors and wolf-Oz flung himself at the bars of the cage, snarling and snapping at the disturbance. She’d obviously been running full out and Xander felt his stomach knot at the open fear on her face. “It’s happening tonight,” she panted.

“Tonight?”

“Willie overheard them. They’re going to open the Hellmouth tonight.”


Angel looked skeptical. “Do you really think he can be trusted? Willie will tell anyone anything if he gets paid.”

Spike had shown up shortly after sunset, bringing Angel with him. Buffy had already left to talk to Willie the bartender and they had been waiting for her return before going out to hunt the Sisterhood again.

Buffy shook her head, her eyes meeting Angel’s warmly, even as she answered with grim seriousness. “Not this time. He was hurt. Bad. The Sisterhood tore up his place and almost killed him.”

“Then where the hell are the bloody demons?” Spike asked. “They should be crawling all over here, workin’ their mojo to open the Hellmouth. Accordin’ to the Mayor, the Hellmouth opens right below the library here.” As he said it, he again had that faint recollection of Drusilla on her deathbed, rambling on about the dark energy beneath the books, back when she was telling him to go find his destiny on the Hellmouth. It was the reason he’d taken the Mayor’s information about the location of the Hellmouth so seriously.

Angel, Buffy and Giles exchanged glances. “When we went hunting the Master,” Angel said slowly, “his lair was really close, probably somewhere under the school.”

“And he was trapped in the Hellmouth,” Giles finished grimly.

“So, the Hellmouth is right below us?” Xander asked, appalled, instinctively looking down at the tiles beneath his feet.

“It would appear so,” Giles answered. “We’ve always known its approximate location, but I had not quite realized that it was directly below us.”

“So, where are the Sisterhood?” Xander asked. “If they’re opening the Hellmouth tonight, shouldn’t they be here? Or can they open it from a distance?”

“Spells of that magnitude are generally performed as close to the object as possible,” Giles answered.

Spike shot Giles a glance. “Loan me an ax, Watcher. Angelus and I will check the basement.”

“I’m going too.” Buffy headed for the office, emerging a second later with the tranquilizer gun Giles kept for werewolf emergencies. She approached the cage and lifted the rifle, waiting until Oz leapt at the bars again, firing as his body was fully exposed above the blankets Giles hung over the lower portions of the cage to give him some privacy in the mornings.

The wolf yelped and crashed back to the floor. “Sorry, Oz,” Buffy muttered, checking he was really out before opening the cage and then the weapons locker inside. “Axes all around?” she asked, reaching in and pulling two out, turning to toss them to Angel and Spike, who fielded them easily.

“Make mine a sword,” Giles said absently, scanning the books and pulling out several volumes. “Xander, I’ll need your help setting up a binding spell. It would be best to be prepared to take counter measures against the Sisterhood’s efforts to open the Hellmouth.”

Buffy locked the cage door again and the three disappeared out the doors, heading for the cellar.

“Xander, if you would begin by moving the table out of the way. We must clear this whole area,” Giles told him, flipping through the books without looking up. “When that’s done, I’ll have a list of supplies we’ll need from the magic shop.”

Xander set to work moving furniture out of the way as Giles began jotting down a list of ingredients.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stupid, fucking basement had more rooms than some whorehouses Spike had been in. The three of them had split up to cover ground more quickly, each taking a separate section of the maze of rooms under the school. Who the hell designed this place anyway? M.C. Escher?

Spike yanked open the door to another of the seemingly endless rooms in the basement and gave it one sweeping glance. Empty. He was two steps away, heading for the next door, when he froze, as his brain suddenly processed what he’d seen.

Turning back, he opened the door again and crossed to the center of the room. A fucking bomb, he thought incredulously. Just what they needed to complicate things. Obviously home-made, amateurishly simple, but large enough to carry a fairly substantial punch. The timer was counting down, 49 minutes to detonation.

The room was empty. The jokers behind the bomb had come and gone, leaving their lethal little toy behind. Setting his ax down, Spike studied the wiring for a moment. The set up was childishly simple, no professional had had a hand in creating this. Two minutes study and Spike was confident he could easily disarm the thing.

He hesitated, then reached out and delicately unhooked the timer. The red digital display obediently died and he grinned. Re-attaching the wires, Spike re-set the timer for 6 hours and left the display counting down again.

Picking up his ax, he took a satisfied look around, estimating the damage. The reset bomb would detonate hours after they had either taken out the Sisterhood or lost the game. If they lost, it was a strong backup plan and a bit of bloody revenge on their foes. If they won, well, the school would be long empty and Xander would be needing that home schooling after all.

Feeling very pleased with himself, Spike left the room to continue his sweep of the basement.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The battle was going badly. Two Master Vampires, a Slayer, and two not half-bad humans, and the Sisterhood had stolen a march on them. They’d gotten the bloody Hellmouth open and the thing that had come out of it had too damn many heads and they simply didn’t have enough axes.

Angel had found the demons, hidden in one of the endless rooms in the basement, in the middle of their fucking spell. Bloody tosser had charged in, not waiting for backup and never thought that the demons might have a bit of backup of their own. The noise of the battle had alerted Spike and he and the Slayer had run towards the sound of fighting, arriving just in time to see Angelus getting the shit kicked out of him by two of the Sisterhood while three others ignored the fight and worked their mojo.

The Slayer had dived into the battle, going for the demon that was wrestling with Angelus, trying to get his ax away from him. Spike swore profanely. Stupid bint hadn’t learned anything. He went for the magic-workers, leaping across the room, his ax swinging out and down and cleanly lopping off the head of one of the squatting demons.

It had been too late. There was a sudden deafening roar and the ground began to shake. Spike lost his footing as the pavement began to buckle underneath them, falling hard to the shaking floor as storage shelves toppled over and concrete exploded upwards as the ground opened up.

Staggering to his feet, Spike clung to his ax with a death grip. The two remaining magic workers were swallowed up by the hole that was rapidly expanding and Spike flung himself clear, running for the door, stumbling and nearly falling again as the ground continued to crumble beneath his feet.

Angelus and the Slayer were a step ahead of him, the remaining demon running with them, all interest in fighting gone as they all struggled to reach safe ground. The shaking lessened as Spike cleared the doorway and they all looked back, hearing an ear-splitting scream as a monstrous thing burst up through the hole, roaring in triumph at breaking free.

“The library!”

Spike wasn’t sure which of them said it and the three of them turned and ran as one. Spike thought his unbeating heart would burst as he poured every ounce of energy into speed, racing back to the library where Xander would be facing that monstrosity with nothing but an ax and his stubborn courage. Over the pounding of their feet on the stairs, he could hear the thing crashing through the basement ceiling, and somehow he found an extra burst of speed, pushing him ahead of Angelus and the Slayer as they rounded the final corner to the library.

Bursting through the doors, Spike screamed in fury and threw himself at the creature. Xander and the Watcher were both on their feet, swinging their weapons at the creature that filled the center of the library, broken tile and other bits and pieces littered the floor, making footing treacherous

The thing was huge, filling the large open space as it forced its enormous body through the hole in the floor, widening it as it pushed relentlessly upward. Multiple heads on long, supple necks snapped viciously at the two humans who were doing their best but were clearly outmatched and overwhelmed.

Spike brought his ax whistling down on a head that sought to grab Xander from the side while his boy was occupied with another one attacking him square on. The force of the blow buried the ax blade completely inside the head and briefly pinned the head down as the blade bit into the floor. The creature screamed and the head jerked up, still alive somehow. Spike made the mistake of holding on to the ax and felt himself lifted off his feet, still clinging to the ax handle as the thing whipped its head sideways. The blade came free and Spike was thrown clear, smashing through the railing of the upper balcony and slamming to a painful stop against the bookshelves.

He rolled free, still clinging to the ax and threw himself back into the battle. Five fighters against something with a dozen heads. This should be interesting.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Two heads had been severed and the one Spike had first injured was just flopping uselessly, nearly dead but still moving. All of them were covered in gore, their own blood and the creature’s. Footing was tricky as they slipped and slid on the blood-slick floor, grappling for purchase on the slippery tiles. Angelus was down, the demon had tossed him like a human, one ill-timed move and a head had swung around on its long snake-like neck and suddenly his Sire was hurtling through the air, crashing into the far wall so hard he’d been half buried in the plaster. The Slayer had screamed his name and almost abandoned her post until Xander snarled at her, yelling at her to stay put. Xander had moved, taking up position in front of the fallen vampire, using his ax to good purpose to keep the creature away from Angelus.

The Watcher was bleeding heavily from a head wound and favoring one leg, limping heavily as he wielded his sword like a woodsman, chopping down again and again on one of the necks, staggering as he dodged the dying head’s teeth which were still snapping lethally at him.

Spike was fighting with everything he had, holding his own point in their battle line, but he could see they were losing ground, slowly but steadily falling back. The creature was too big, too strong and it was slowly winning its way further out of the hole it had made in the floor, scrabbling and pushing at the edges, widening the gap bit by bit. Soon, the entire creature would make it through and then they were dead.

“Slayer!” Spike yelled and saw her head jerk towards him. “Hold the line, I’m moving back.”

“What?!” She swore but shifted her position to fill the gap he was leaving.

In three jumps, Spike was bending over Angelus. “Angelus!” he bellowed, grabbing his Sire by his leather jacket and shaking him. “On your feet!” Angelus groaned and Spike shook him again. “Snap out of it, you useless lump,” he yelled. “You’re needed.”

Hauling Angelus to his feet by main force, Spike was relieved to see Angelus’ dazed eyes clearing. He shoved his own gore-smeared ax into his Sire’s hands. “Take my position,” he ordered, shoving Angelus bodily towards the fight, not taking the time to see if his Sire was ready to hold his own or not. Xander gave him a tired grin, then swung his ax sideways with exhausted arms, knocking aside a head that was lunging towards Spike.

“Hold on, luv,” Spike called and sprinted out the door. He hated leaving Xander but it was the only way.

Racing through the halls, Spike heard the roar of the battle fading behind him, as he put every ounce of his remaining energy into his sprint. He rounded a corner and slid to a stop, yanking open the door to the basement and pounding down the stairs.

The bomb. Forcing himself to move slowly enough to get it right, Spike detached the bomb from the barrel. The shoebox size detonator and explosive materials on top of the barrel should be enough to blow a serious hole in the creature, with luck, enough to kill it. It was the barrel of supplemental explosives below the detonator that was the real danger of the bomb, the extra power designed to tear down walls and destroy the school. Too big to move or safely use, Spike had to rely on the smaller charge with the detonator.

He didn’t dare run flat out with the explosives in his hand. Walking smoothly and carefully, Spike mounted the stairs and moved as quickly as he dared through the halls back towards the library, praying he would make it back in time.

Outside the library doors, he forced himself to stop again, resetting the timer for 30 seconds and praying the morons who set the thing up knew what they were doing. Pushing the doors open, he was relieved to see Xander still on his feet, still swinging his weapon. Xander was weaving with exhaustion, and one arm hung limply, but he was managing to swing his axe one-handedly, batting the nearest head away from him. Not doing any damage, but keeping the head occupied and away from himself.

“Xander! Out. Now!” Spike yelled the second he was through the door. Xander looked at him in astonishment, but began moving immediately, backing up towards the door as Spike moved past him and into the room, unbearably grateful for the trust that had Xander obeying his order without question or pause.

“Angelus! Watcher! Slayer! Fall back!” he roared. For one second, it looked like the Slayer was going to object, then Angelus added his own command and the three began retreating rapidly. “Get out and get away” Spike snapped, one eye on the creature, the other watching the red numbers ticking down. The three exhausted fighters disengaged and headed for the door, keeping their weapons up and ready as they retreated.

20 seconds to go.

The creature reared up, seven remaining heads reaching towards the ceiling as it squealed in triumph. Three necks with severed heads, and two more with badly damaged heads flopped blindly, spattering gore as they writhed in what Spike viciously hoped was a great deal of pain. The uninjured heads came down, lunging for Spike in a massed group and he threw the bomb at the creature, aiming for the center section where it was wedged in the hole in the floor. The second the bomb left his hands, he flung himself to one side and rolled frantically, trying to get out of the thing’s reach.

Pain slashed through him as a mouth closed on his side and he screamed, feeling the teeth driving deeply into his body. With no choice, he gritted his teeth and tore himself free, another scream forced out of him as the creature tore an enormous hunk of flesh from his side. Clamping one hand to the wound in a futile attempt to stem the blood pouring from his side, Spike staggered to his feet and headed for the door in a stumbling, wavering line. His vision was fading and pain lanced through him with every step but he forced himself on.

He was at the door, pushing it open when the bomb detonated.

An enormous flash of fire lit the room and the roar of the explosion was almost drowned out by the screaming of the creature. The blast force hit him and he was thrown through the door and halfway down the hall. Blackness closed over him and he never felt the impact as he hit the floor hard.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Spike!”

Xander was helping Giles, who’s right leg was showing a distinct inclination to collapse under him, glancing back anxiously over his shoulder, waiting for Spike to exit the library when the explosion happened. He saw Spike’s body fly out of the doors and he forgot Giles.

Shrugging free, he ran back towards the library, dodging Angel’s attempt to stop him. Racing around the corner, he saw with horror that Spike’s body had left a wide swath of blood as it slid along the floor before coming to a rest, nearly a hundred feet from the library doors.

Running to Spike, ignoring the pain in his wounded arm, Xander dropped to his knees beside his lover’s body. “Spike!”

Anxiously turning him over, he sucked in his breath, seeing the terrible wound in Spike’s side. Blood was pouring out of the huge, jagged wound and Spike was still as death. Ignoring everything else, Xander tore his shirt off, gasping as the movement jerked his arm, clumsily balling up the fabric and pressing it against the wound with both hands, trying desperately to stop the blood with pressure.

Looking up, he saw Buffy and Angel at the doors of the library, looking in on Spike’s handiwork. “I need some help here,” he yelled.

Angel turned and ran towards him. Giles appeared around the corner and grabbed Buffy’s arm as she started to follow Angel, pulling her around and back towards the library with him. They disappeared inside the doors as Angel reached his side.

Xander’s shirt was already soaked with blood and Angel swore sharply. Dropping his ax, he yanked his coat off and tore his own shirt off, wadding it up and, batting Xander’s hands away, used his own greater strength to put pressure on the wound. He let go with one hand and brought his wrist to his mouth, slicing open his wrist with his fangs.

“Hold his head up,” he snapped at Xander, who shifted quickly and lifted Spike’s head.

Angel pressed his bleeding wrist to Spike’s mouth. “Drink, Childe” he roared, and Xander could hear the power in his voice. Sire’s voice, he realized dimly. Spike didn’t move and Xander forced Spike’s mouth open with his thumb. Angel worked his fist, keeping the blood flowing, dripping into Spike’s mouth. “Drink!” Angel ordered again in that same dark voice.

Xander forced back his terror as Spike remained unresponsive. He lifted Spike’s head up a little further, bracing it against his chest and began kneading and stroking Spike’s throat, forcing him to swallow the blood.

After a long, tense minute, he felt Spike move almost infinitesimally, his throat working slightly as he swallowed on his own. Xander sobbed in relief, looking up at Angel. “Will he be ok?” he asked desperately.

Angel shook his head grimly. “I don’t know.” He continued to force his blood down Spike’s throat, growing alarmingly pale himself, before he was forced to stop, pulling his wrist away and licking it, stopping the last of the bleeding. He eased the sodden fabric away from Spike’s side and grunted in satisfaction when he saw that the gush of blood had slowed to a trickle. “Hold it for me,” he told Xander.

Xander took up the pressure on Spike’s side, watching as Angel reached up, struggling a little until he was able to tear his undershirt off. Folding it into a neat rectangle, he motioned to Xander and they switched, swapping the blood-soaked shirt for the fresh one.

Angel swayed and Xander reached out to steady him. Not looking at Xander, Angel took the old bandage and swiped it through the pool of blood next to Spike and brought it to his mouth. It took a second for Xander to understand - Angel was drinking the blood from the shirt.

Xander looked away, giving Angel as much privacy as he could - doing this in front of Xander was obviously humiliating for the vampire. He looked down at Spike, stroking his hair with his free hand, leaning down to kiss his forehead, murmuring soft reassurances that Spike was going to be fine.

The three of them stayed that way for a long moment, Xander bent over Spike, hoping for signs of consciousness and not finding any, until Angel set the cloth down. Xander didn’t look up. “Thank you, Angel.”

“He’s my Childe.” Angel’s voice was quiet but filled with emotion.

They both looked up sharply as the library doors opened and Buffy and Giles appeared. Exhausted and blood stained, limping and looking ready to drop, they were both smiling with tired relief.

“The binding spell worked and Spike’s bomb killed the creature,” Giles reported. Seeing their motionless tableau, he asked worriedly: “How is he?”

“He needs blood. A lot of it.” Angel said, pulling himself to his feet, wavering unsteadily for a moment before he straightened and steadied. “I’ll go.”

Giles fished in his pocket, pulling out a set of keys and tossing them to Angel. “Take my car if it will help.”

“Thanks.” Angel looked down at Xander. “I’ll be quick.”

Xander nodded, not looking up from Spike’s face. As Angel left, he reached for the ax that Angel had dropped. Picking it up, he braced the blade, sharp edge up and drew his wrist along the blade, hissing as the flesh parted and blood began to well.

“Xander!”

Ignoring Giles, he pressed his bleeding wrist to Spike’s mouth, desperately grateful when the unconscious vampire automatically began to swallow. Giles was there beside him suddenly, dropping to his knees, his hand closing around Xander’s arm.

“NO!” Xander said fiercely, stopping Giles. “My choice.”

Giles looked mutinous, but his hand gentled on Xander’s arm and he no longer had to fight to keep it pressed to Spike’s lips. “Not too much.”

“I’m not suicidal, Giles,” he answered with a crooked smile. “Just a top up to hold him until Angel’s back.”

He was light-headed and beginning to feel very dizzy when Giles pulled his arm away, wrapping it with a strip of fabric he’d prepared. “Enough, Xander,” he said gently.

Horrified, Xander realized he’d stopped holding the bandage against Spike’s side. He gasped and shook his head trying to clear it, reaching out only to have his hand pushed away gently.

“I’ve got it,” Buffy said matter-of-factly, as if helping to save vampires was something she did every day.

Buffy was kneeling beside Spike, holding the bandage against his side. Spike was still unconscious but the bandage wasn’t soaked through, so the bleeding had obviously been checked. Letting his fingers rest tiredly in Spike’s hair, Xander realized he was leaning heavily against Giles, who was sitting close enough to keep him propped upright. “Thanks, guys.”

“Spike saved us all.”

Giles’ grateful voice was the last thing Xander heard as exhaustion and blood loss took its toll and he slid into unconsciousness, slumping bonelessly against Giles.

*A/N - Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episode 'The Zeppo'

TBC

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