Nothing the Same, Book 3
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.
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same & Nothing the Same, Book 2
Previous parts here
Xander logged off the computer and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms behind his head and stretching to ease the sore muscles in his back. He’d emailed Oz with the name Mr. Okolo had given him. He’d told Oz where he’d gotten the information and passed on Mr. Okolo’s cryptic remark that Oz might not like the answers he found. He’d done his best to describe the impression Mr. Okolo had left him with: someone who wouldn’t deliberately do harm but who probably didn’t see things the same way that humans did.
He’d hesitated before hitting the send button, wondering if he was doing the right thing, but ultimately decided that it was Oz’s decision whether to use the information or not. The information itself was just a woman’s name and address, it was the source and the circumstances under which he’d received it that made him cautious. In the end, Mr. Olsen’s recommendation carried a lot of weight and Mr. Okolo had been very impressive. From the sound of it, Oz was meeting with a lot of people who came with far fewer guarantees than the woman in Colorado whose address Xander had just sent.
Sighing, Xander stood up and left the library. He missed Oz and hoped he’d return to Sunnydale but he worried that there wasn’t anything here to call Oz back. Oz or anyone else with any sense. Sunnydale was a good place to be elsewhere from.
Walking home through the late-afternoon sunshine, Xander wondered if the sporadic emails between himself and Oz were enough of a connection to make Oz want to return someday. Oz was the only one of all the people who’d left town since graduation that Xander still had anything close to a solid connection with.
He knew that Willow was emailing Buffy daily, and sometimes several times a day, sharing their mutual excitement and nervousness over their impending college debuts. He and Willow exchanged emails much less frequently and far more cautiously, still gradually getting to know each other again.
Spike had mentioned in passing that Angel had in fact gone to Los Angeles as he’d tentatively planned after he’d left town but Xander didn’t really care where Angel had gone, so that didn’t count. Besides, it wasn’t like Angel was keeping in touch with Spike or anything. Apparently, vampires didn’t do that. Once they moved on, they might keep track of where another vampire was, but actually calling them up and chatting was “a human thing” according to Spike. Spike had heard that Angel had set up shop through the demon grapevine - not that Spike called it that - from a demon who’d been in LA recently. The demon had been complaining about the unnatural vampire who’d moved to the city and was slaying other vampires and demons. Mentioning it in passing to Xander, Spike had been quietly pleased that his Sire had ended up close enough that he would be able to hear news about him from time to time, and had casually said he might look up “the old bugger” the next time he and Xander went to LA but that was all he’d had to say on the subject.
The only other person he’d heard from since they’d left town was Wesley. Granted, it had only been a couple of weeks, or a couple of months for those who’d left at the beginning of the summer, but it felt like everyone else who’d left had gone without looking back.
Before he’d left town, Wesley had promised to keep in touch but Xander had been genuinely surprised when he got the first letter from him. He’d been expecting maybe a postcard at best telling them where Wesley had ended up. Unfortunately, Wesley didn’t have any kind of return address so Xander hadn’t been able to write back, especially since he suspected that Wesley was lonely. Why else would he write several fairly lengthy letters over the summer, describing his adventures?
In his letters, Wesley sounded terrified and exhilarated in equal measure by his new life. He jokingly referred to himself as a man on a quest but there was apparently some truth behind the self-mockery. Wesley was immersing himself in the fringes of the demon underworld, trying to weigh the merits of his book learning against the reality of the world outside the narrow constraints of the Watchers Council. He’d gone north from Sunnydale all the way to the Canadian border where he’d had a “fascinating” encounter with a Bryjuul demon who had let Wesley question it for hours about its species after Wesley had rescued its nest and the egg inside from the path of a developer’s bulldozer. Wesley had apparently recognized the tiny, frail demon arguing with the construction crew as not being the 10-year old girl it looked like but a member of the reclusive demon sub-group and had intervened to help out.
His last letter had said that he was now back in California, working his way south through the major towns, seeking out the demon communities that often sheltered within the anonymity of cities. Reading the letters, Xander suspected the journey was a good thing for the Englishman. For someone as smart as Wesley, he was painfully short of practical experience. In any case, it didn’t sound like he was planning on returning to Sunnydale any time soon, not to stay anyway.
Which meant that Buffy was still officially without a Watcher, although Xander suspected the Council was taking advantage of Giles’ loyalty, knowing he would never leave Buffy without backup, despite his having been fired. So they were free to take their own sweet time deciding what to do about the situation. Giles seemed content to let the things lie, despite the fact that it meant he was essentially doing the work of a Watcher without being paid for his efforts. He simply repeated, to Xander’s anxious question, that he had sufficient funds to carry him for now and not to worry about it.
Xander suspected the Council was holding out on making a decision about what to do in hope that Wesley would come to his senses and return to Sunnydale and get them out of the awkward position he’d put them in. Xander was sure they were wrong, based on what he’d read in Wesley’s letters. He hoped the Council would give in and reinstate Giles but common sense and the Council weren’t exactly things he usually thought of in the same sentence. Arrogant, know-it-all, and jerks were the words that came to mind when he thought about them. What they would do if they found out about the demons sharing Buffy’s patrol duties, he shuddered to imagine.
Of course, he thought more cheerfully, it would probably give any new Watcher foisted on them a heart attack and that would take care of the new Watcher.
It had only been a couple of weeks ago that the demon community actually began patrolling officially. Sgt. Morgan had required the demon volunteers to train with him for a month before any of them were allowed to actually do a patrol shift. Between Mr. Olsen, Giles, Sgt. Morgan and Buffy, they’d eventually worked out a rotating schedule of joint patrols. Giles had insisted that every one of the volunteers patrol with Buffy at least once before going out on their own. In the end, they’d agreed that the volunteers had to pass inspection by Sgt. Morgan, Giles, and Buffy before being allowed out on their own.
Xander had actually been surprised that the demon community was able to enforce that. It wasn’t like anyone who felt like it couldn’t wander the town cemeteries with a stake and a death wish. What he’d learned, in talking to Sgt. Morgan about it, was that the group was so used to having to watch out for each other that acting individually against the group’s wishes was somewhere between rare and non-existent. Too many families had obvious differences that couldn’t stand up to even the most casual scrutiny by the official human world.
“We’re used to thinking about the ramifications of our actions, Xander,” Sgt Morgan explained gently. “If a human teenager shoplifts beer and the police take him home, that’s one thing. For us, if the police show up on our doorsteps, it could mean panic, imprisonment, being driven out of town, or even being killed. We have to keep a low profile and that’s been ingrained in our children since birth.”
“But… patrolling, not exactly with the low profile,” Xander suggested after a moment.
Sgt. Morgan sighed, looking troubled. “I know, which is why we are being so cautious and making sure the volunteers are prepared. But caution and even necessary paranoia goes against the grain for some of us. Patrolling is a good, reasonably safe outlet for those who have chafed at the restrictions we must live under.” He smiled ruefully at Xander. “The Mayor’s Ascension was the catalyst but it’s something we’ve been talking about for years, Xander, especially since the Slayer arrived in town. It wasn’t a hasty decision to expose ourselves to the Slayer and her Watcher. A handful of humans, like Bob MacNair and yourself, have always known about us, but Slayers are trained from the time they are called that ‘demon’ automatically means dangerous. If we hadn’t been faced with the destruction of the town, we probably would still be arguing about patrolling ourselves.” He gestured, spreading both hands in illustration of things expanding out of control.
“Things worked out well at graduation. The Mayor was defeated, casualties were light, and there have been no negative consequences from coming out openly and taking action. That pushed the more conservative members of our group into agreeing to permit volunteers to help patrol the town. If Buffy… moves on,” he said tactfully, “we will still be here to keep a lid on things. Slayers are called all over the world. The next one may be called in China or Africa or New England. If we had gotten organized before she arrived, perhaps the Master might not have tilted the balance in town as much as he did.”
“You knew about him?” Xander asked, surprised.
“Hard to miss the tenfold increase in the vampire population,” Sgt. Morgan answered dryly. “Those of us who are sensitive to the currents of power in town were aware that something was trapped in the Hellmouth.” He smiled a little. “It’s been theorized that that is the reason the Hellmouth is so active right now - having the Master trapped inside it kept the Hellmouth from releasing energy gradually over the last century and it seems to be making up for lost time.” He shrugged. “I don’t know about that, I’m a pretty down-to-earth guy, for a demon. I don’t mess with magic and mystical forces when I can avoid it.”
“You and me both,” Xander agreed fervently and decided he didn’t want to know if Sgt. Morgan had meant to make it sound like the Hellmouth was a living thing or if it had just come out that way. It was a creepy thought: that the Hellmouth wasn’t just a natural phenomena - however rare and weird - but somehow alive. Hopefully, it was ‘making up for lost time’ like a temporarily-blocked creek that was sending more water downstream now that the rock was removed. The idea that the Hellmouth was somehow angry and frustrated and acting out over having been plugged up by a vampire for nearly a century was not something he was prepared to deal with.
As Labor Day approached, Buffy was only patrolling four nights a week and had three nights off, guilt free. There had been no casualties among the demon volunteers in the first couple of weeks they’d been patrolling and Xander was deeply grateful for that. While this turn of events might have come to pass without his friendship with Mr. Olsen, he still felt directly responsible for the lives being placed at risk and was hoping that their luck would continue to hold. Attending the funerals of those who’d died during the battle against the Mayor had been heartbreaking, he didn’t want to have to go to any more.
Giles was quietly pleased in that British way of his because, in addition to his still informal Watcher duties, he had found a group of colleagues he could share his responsibilities with and had been making friends among the demons he met over the summer, a shared interest in demon studies having been the opening wedge for friends closer to his own age and experience level. He and Joyce Summers, who Xander had originally thought would be close friends given Giles’ surrogate father status in Buffy’s life, had never seemed really comfortable with each other since their shenanigans on band candy night. Fortunately, since Buffy’s dad had gone AWOL from her life ever since he blew off her birthday with nothing more than a note, they finally seemed to be getting over their mutual embarrassment in their efforts to be there for Buffy.
And boy did she need it. College started next week and Buffy was seriously losing it. You’d think she was moving across country the way she was freaking out over what to pack and whether she would fit in. Xander was getting the brunt of it as Buffy tended to show her eager-to-be-an-adult moods to her mom and Giles and Xander was getting the what-was-I-thinking-and-why-didn’t-I-jus
Hanging up the phone with relief, Xander leaned back against the headboard and considered whether he should just get up or try to go back to sleep.
“Told ya not to answer it, pet.” Spike’s voice was muffled by the pillow he’d pulled over his head when Xander had picked up the phone over his vehement objections.
“Ridiculous that someone who kills people for a living can’t deal with moving across town.”
Xander yanked the pillow away, exposing the sleep rumpled hair and grumpy face of his lover. “Look who’s talking, Mr. I’m-a-vampire-I-don’t-help-people-move.”
“Damn right I don’t help Slayers move into dorms.”
“How come any time you don’t want to do something, it’s always ‘vampires don’t do that sort of thing’?” Xander asked suspiciously.
Spike smirked at him, which was answer enough.
“Hmmph. I’m going to start using that one next time you want to do something I don’t,” he threatened. “Humans don’t do that,” he sniffed, raising his nose in a way he hoped made him look supercilious and not constipated. “It’s beneath us.”
“I’ll show you beneath,” Spike growled and Xander yelped in surprise as Spike surged up without warning and he found himself abruptly flipped over and straddled by his suddenly very wide-awake vampire.
Spike pinned his arms to the mattress and leaned over him. “Seems like you need a reminder of the pecking order around here,” he growled, glaring in yellow-eyed threat down at his Claimed.
“Remind away,” Xander agreed happily as Spike ground his hips down against him and his cock eagerly rose to the occasion.
Spike shifted his grip from Xander’s wrists to his hair, grabbing two fistfuls and holding him immobile as he licked and nibbled distractingly along his neck, sending little shivers of pleasure through Xander. Arching his head back, Xander gasped as Spike slid needle-sharp fangs into his Claim scar. Spike usually only bit him in the middle of orgasm and the erotic pain of biting had become incredibly arousing for Xander. As the fangs slid deeply into his neck with agonizing slowness, Xander felt Spike close a hand around his erection and begin pumping hard. To his astonishment, he came almost immediately, his orgasm pulsing out across Spike’s hand as Spike drank from him and renewed his Claim.
Still breathing hard, he felt Spike release him and lift his head. He smiled triumphantly down at Xander and Xander grinned back at him before dragging him down for a kiss.
“You win. I’ll help Buffy move without you.”