kimalis (kimalis) wrote in bloodclaim,
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kimalis
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FIC : Family Bonds chapter 34WIP

Title: Family Bonds

Pairing: Spander
Rating: ADULT
Summary: After his relationship with Anya fizzles out Xander and Spike become lovers. Xander’s insecurities lead him to seek help from Tara. She discovers a secret from Xander’s past.
Notes: AU begins S6 replacing Hells Bells. No Dawn, Buffy didn’t die, and Season 6 Spuffy? Eewww no.
Feedback and con crit appreciated and lusted for

Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here

Beta thanks to kitty_alex

 

CHAPTER 34

 In the kitchen , Tara had again laid the table out, but this time there were many more ingredients and several new books. She pointed to the chair Xander had used before and he sat, nervously looking over the variety of herbs and dried something or others.

“Are you okay Xander?” she asked.

“Yeah, did something stupid, nothing new though. Just idiot Xander strikes again.”

Willow, standing behind him, tugged his hair. “Hey, don’t talk about my best friend like that mister.”

“Okay Xander, first before we get started, I checked out something that just wasn’t sitting right with me.” Tara sat opposite him and indicated the book in front of her. “I read this then confirmed with Maria, so it’s fairly certain.”

“You don’t have ominous face though, so is this good news?” he asked hopefully.

“Well its news of a kind. Whether it’s good or bad would be completely up to you to decide. Remember I said I could see a connection beginning in your aura?” Xander nodded. “Well earlier I realised the colours for the connection were not exactly what they should be for a normal relationship.”

“Hey, what is normal about this relationship?” Xander snorted.

“The colours showed some magical intervention.”

“So what does that mean? That the other spell was wrong? This thing between me and Spike really is only the spell?” Xander’s voice showed his agitation.

Willow put her hands on his shoulders. “Xan, calm down, let Tara explain.”

Xander appreciated Willow’s closeness and support, and so he tried to ignore the niggling thought in the back of his mind that was telling him they were the wrong hands, too warm, too small, they shouldn’t be touching him. He twisted a little under her touch.

“Whatever is happening between you and Spike is really happening, its not being induced by magic in any way. But there are some magical aspects to it. What we think its doing is just accelerating what you and Spike had the potential for. Do you understand?”

 Xander nodded. “Kind of explains why when we both wanted to take it slow, it sped up all on its own and kind of got away from us.”

“That’s right. There might well be more, but we need information from the next spell and maybe from those books Willow brought.”

“Ooh, its like a jigsaw puzzle Xan,” Willow’s chirpy voice was right next to his ear. He winced; very grating. “We just gotta put all the little pieces together first.”

“Yeah, but Will I seem to remember jigsaw puzzles being much funner than this.” He pulled out a seat for her and waved her down into it, away from his ears. They were a bit sensitive today, maybe something left over from the concussion. “So are you doing this, or Tara?”

“Oh, no, this is Tara’s baby. She’s all with the cross-referency magic, I’m more your instant gratification girl. The big flashy quick fix things.”

Xander breathed a sigh of relief. Much as he loved Willow, he knew Tara would probably be more reliable and accurate.

 

“Alright, ready Xander? This works in much the same way, except that this time Willow is going to record the results so we can cross check everything when it’s finished.”

“Jigsaw puzzle!” Willow said.

 

Tara set a match to several small piles of what appeared to be dried leaves. They were placed around the table and alternated with small green crystals. She filled the larger basin with a similar liquid. It was again thick but this time was a deep green colour and emitted a pungent but not unpleasant odour. Xander wrinkled his nose as the scent of it tickled at his nostrils. “Boy that’s strong.”

Willow leaned in and sniffed. “I can’t smell much, maybe I’m getting a cold.”

Tara had a small frown on her face, but quickly wiped it away and smiled at Xander. “It could be the herbs, and there’re a few more exotic things in this one. You must be able to smell that. Okay, both hands in for this one.”

“I don’t have to hold anything?” he asked.

“No, you yourself are the catalyst this time. Now, a light will come from your hands and form a symbol, Willow will sketch it and then we’ll add some new ingredients. Each symbol the light gives us will help us narrow down what your spell is, where it came from and what it does.”

“And how to get rid of it?” he asked hopefully.

“We hope so.”

Xander stood up and eased his hands into the bowl. This time it was warm and the fluid reached past his wrists. Willow sat ready with her notepad and Tara again chanted from the book. In the bowl, the potion began rippling and peaking as it had before. Just when Xander thought it was going to overflow, a thin line of yellow light shot from his hands and wove itself into a pattern in the air in front of him. Before it dissipated, Willow copied it down and made a few notes next to it.

Tara chanted new words and added a handful of something small and sticky, which immediately settled to the bottom of the bowl and sent up another wave of ripples to the surface. A purple symbol wrote itself, before the fluid again stilled. Tara repeated this another four times before she handed Xander a towel and smiled. “All done.”

“So do you know anything?” he asked, wiping the potion off his hands.

“Not yet sweetie, but it won’t take long. We just need to look these up, find out what each one means then you’ll have your answers.”

“Okay, lets get to it then.” He sat down opposite her while she took the papers from Willow and began making notes.

Too anxious to sit still and wait, Xander busied himself helping Willow clean up the table. He went in to check on Anya and found her sleeping, the blanket having slipped to the floor. He shook the cookie crumbs off and tucked her back in, kissing her forehead. Insane woman, he thought fondly. Then headed back in to Tara.

 

“I’m pretty sure we have it Xander, sit down.”

“This is sitting down news?” Xander dropped into the chair, the awful and familiar heavy feeling of dread settling over him again. Willow sat next to him and took his hand. Wrong, that just felt all wrong. But he held on anyway.

Tara turned one of the books around so he could see the illustrations. She was showing him a table that spread over the double pages. Each section held an image of a symbol similar to that which he had seen in this last spell. They were varied in size, shape, colour and light intensity. Tara flipped forward a few pages, showing him the tables went on.  There must have been several hundred symbols.

“You’ve been through all of those?” Xander asked. “There’s so many.”

“We didn’t have to look at all of them, it’s a little like a dictionary,” Willow told him. “You don’t look over every page to find the one word you want, right?”

“So Xander we have something. It’s not everything you wanted to know, but it’s a start okay? Should give you some answers.”

Xander felt his heart pick up speed, it was sending little bursts of adrenaline through his body, making him feel light headed and a bit panicky. Oh God, Spike should be here by his side. Not Willow, he needed Spike here. Xander stood up so suddenly, his chair toppled backward. Willow jumped and shrieked in surprise.

“I’m sorry, I can’t, not now. I need Spike here.”

Willow saw the panic in his eyes, heard the quaver in his voice and stood up reaching out to him. When he jerked back from her she quickly hid the hurt expression. “Xander, it’s okay, just call him and we can wait.”

“Right, I’ll try him. He might not have left yet.” Xander took out his cell and hit the speed dial for home. He paced around the kitchen while it rang, going to the machine again. “Spike? Come on, be there please. Are you still there?” Xander waited, knowing that he’d been too late. Spike had already left. Xander’s own fault. If he hadn’t lied to Spike then he might have still been there, sleeping, waiting. He shut the phone and leaned his forehead against the wall. He didn’t know if he could hear this now. He had no idea what Tara was going to say, good or bad, but he wondered how he could cope with it either way.

Willow approached him carefully. “Xan? You’ve got us here. If you want we can all go sit with Anya, she’s awake now.”

Xander thought. He had no idea where Spike would be, it was still a couple of hours till sundown so most likely he would be in the tunnels somewhere; it could take forever to find him. As much as he craved some kind of contact with or support from Spike, he didn’t think he would be able to wait so long for the information Tara held. Anya would ground him. She would piss him off no end, but she wouldn’t let him break if it was bad news.

“Yes, we’ll do that.” He turned his back on them and went to sit on the floor in front of Anya. She laid a hand on his shoulder. It bothered him just like Willow’s had, but he pushed that aside and accepted it for the support it was intended to be. Willow sat next to him and held his hand. He bore it for the small comfort it brought.

Tara pushed the coffee table aside and sat on the floor facing him. She knew it would be best to just give it all to him, to not give him time to process the parts and worry. Just make sure he had the whole picture then help him deal with it.

“Xander I’ll tell you everything I can. But just let me finish and we can discuss it all then okay?”

Xander nodded. “Just tell me.”

“Your spell is demon in origin. I can’t tell you which demon or when it was put on you. It’s been securely cast and kind of has a blocking element to it, so I’m not going to be able to take it off or alter it in any way, not without severe permanent damage to you.” She paused while Xander processed this before continuing. “Now I can tell you what it is. It’s a bonding spell. It’s used to bond another demon or a person to a particular species. Different kinds of demons use it, there’s no way to determine where it came from.”

Anya’s grip tightened on his shoulder and he reached up and held her hand. Willow’s hand also gripped his harder and she leaned her head on his shoulder. He resisted the urge to push her away and closed his eyes, again focusing in only on Tara’s words.

“It was cast long ago and, for want of a better analogy, it’s like the demon equivalent of an engagement ring. So whichever demons have put this on you intended to reserve you for their species. The way a bond spell works is that it’s meant to be activated by a demon at a particular point in time. At that time you would begin to absorb the strengths of the demon so that you can function in their dimension.”

Xander’s eyes snapped open and he was about to speak. Tara held her hand up with a sympathetic smile. “Let me finish Xander, please.” When he again closed his mouth she went on. “Some demons collect partners this way, some take slaves or workers, and others are looking for possessions, collections. I don’t know what the purpose of yours is. The trace of this spell and the fact that it’s now active is what has been attracting demons to you. Some demons are sensitive to magic and, well, this is like waving a steak in front of a hungry dog.”

Tara stopped and sat back, nodding at Xander to tell him she’d finished. “You’ll have questions. I’ll do what I can to clear it up for you.”

“Okay, first. No way to take it off?” Tara shook her head. “No way to change it?” Again she shook her head. “If it’s this spell that’s making me attract demons then why have they only just started hunting me down? If the spell’s been there so long, why now?”

“I think it’s only just been triggered. Now demons are sensing an unfinished bond and it’s quite appealing.”

“Just triggered? Wouldn’t I have noticed a demon activating me?”

“No. The spell is activated in a few different ways. The most common ways would be when the casting demon completes the bond with the second part of the spell. Or if the person who is bonded forms an attachment to the demon, or any demon actually.”

“Spike.” Xander said.

Tara nodded. “Yes I think so. As soon as you recognised your feelings for him it would have been enough to activate the bonding. Do you remember when that would have been?”

“Yeah, last week while I was away.” Xander let go of the girls and ran his hands through his hair. “So Spike activated it.”

“No, Spike has not done anything to you. It activated itself, it was triggered by your acceptance of your attraction to him. It could just as easily have been Anya. If she were still a demon when you were together, it would have activated then. ”

“So what does this mean? You said when it’s triggered that I would absorb the strengths of the demon. If I start showing some demon aspects then can’t we trace those back to the demons that did this to me?”

Tara looked at him steadily and spoke clearly. “Xander, you won’t take on their strengths, you’ll take on Spike’s. You had a concussion last night. You should have had some cuts, bruises, at least a headache.”

Xander’s face reflected his understanding. “I had nothing. Spike’s head wound is gone today too.”

“This part is the connection that came from the lighter, and the part that showed in your aura. You are taking on all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of a vampire.”

Willow spoke up in a confused voice, trying to minimise the repulsion she felt. “Xander is going to become a vampire? Buffy already has problems with him, she’ll stake him if she knows that.”

Xander frowned at her. “Thanks Will, like it wasn’t bad enough.”

“No, he won’t become a vampire, he’ll just take on the benefits, the things that make a vampire strong. He’ll still be completely human. He won’t even be as strong as a vampire really, close but not quite. It wouldn’t work in a slave bonding if the slaves were as strong as the masters.”

All the strengths?” Xander asked. “I don’t even know that much, I mean they’re strong and fast, um what else?”

Anya took a breath behind him. “Better eyesight, better hearing, better sense of smell, better coordination, longevity, speed, sexual stamina. What could be wrong with that?”

“Plenty Ahn. I didn’t ask for any of it.” He looked to Tara again. “And what happens when these demons come looking for me? How do we fight them?”

“I don’t know Xander, I have no idea if or when they’ll come. The spell is so old they might have forgotten. But if they do you have all of us, Buffy and Spike on your side. And by then you’ll be, um, enhanced.”

Xander got to his feet and paced around the room, his hands fisted in his hair. Bonded. Some demon had reserved him. When? Where? How? All the questions Tara couldn’t answer. He’d lived on the Hellmouth his whole life; it could have been any of the thousands of days he’d existed. He continued his laps of the room while he asked his next questions.

Tara why don’t I remember this happening, the bonding spell?”

“You wouldn’t have even had to be present. It could have been done anywhere, anytime.”

That was no help. He had some answers, why the demons were after him for a start. And Spike was right, they had been. He was putting his friends in danger every time he went out with them.

“What’s wrong with it Anya? Well how about this? I can’t go anywhere with my friends. Demons want me, demons follow me, demons attack me. If I go patrolling with the gang it’ll just be like waving a flag or painting a big target on the Scoobies. How’s that for a benefit?”

“Um, Xander?”

He turned to Tara but continued pacing.

“As you take on more and more of Spike’s strengths, the unfinished bond will be less obvious to those demons, eventually very few of them will notice you, because it will be as though you’ve been fully bonded.”

He froze and shouted. “What? I’ll be bonded to Spike?”

“Not formally,” Anya said. “It will just look that way to other demons. At first glance they’ll think you’re a consort”

“A what? And what will second glance tell them?” Xander felt like his world was lurching along on unsteady tracks. He was being bombarded with so much new information, all of it completely rewriting what he’d thought to be his life up to this point and beyond it.

“A consort; its like the official partner of a vampire. And it’s unlikely there would be a second glance from any demon if they thought you were a consort. They wouldn’t risk bringing your master down on themselves. I have heard of the bonding spell but I don’t know anything more than Tara. I can’t really tell you anything about the consort and master relationship.”

Willow had followed all the explanation, seeing Xander get more and more agitated, more confused and overwhelmed. Her heart ached for him and she stretched to find any positive thing to say to him. “Xander so far there is nothing that can harm you, well apart from the demons that are attracted to you. But that will eventually fade right? And you’ll get all those great things from Spike, and hey! You have Spike. It might not be so bad.” She offered him a bright smile.

Xander sighed. “What about Buffy? What has this done to her?”

“Nothing, but Buffy feels the active spell when she gets within your aura radius. Her reaction is to protect you from demons. That’s why she’s so aggressive about Spike. But same as with the other demons, she’ll be less affected as time goes on.”

“How long Tara? How much longer will this happen to Buffy and how long before the demons stop noticing me.”

“I don’t know exactly Xander, I’m sorry. You’re relationship with Spike is a big factor. The closer you get the quicker it will be. And the spell is designed to make you closer faster but you need to understand isn’t changing your feelings, just fast tracking them. I can’t tell you how long.”

“I think the list of things we don’t know and can’t know is longer than the list of things we do.” Home. Xander just wanted to be home, waiting for Spike. Now. “Tara is there anything else you haven’t told me?”

“That’s it Xander. I’m sorry it’s not more.”

Xander grabbed his coat off the chair. “Thankyou. Really, thankyou, but to have to go. I just need to be home.”

He started for the door, feeling an urgent need to be out of there, back in his apartment where Spike would go if he decided to come back.

Willow called after him. “Xander wait. Are you going to be okay? This was a huge thing; I don’t want you to go and sit by yourself and worry over this.”

“I need to Willow. I need to sort through it all. I can’t do that here, I’m sorry, I know you want to help, but this is really something Spike and I have to work through.”

He opened the front door and started down the stairs. Willow came out after him, two thick books in her hands.

“Xander take these with you. There might be something in them that helps.” She handed him the two vampire volumes she’d brought home earlier.

“Thanks Will.” He stood still and let her hug him, giving her a rather forced smile before hurrying across to his car.

He dropped the books onto the passenger seat, strapped himself in and drove off at top speed, praying that Spike would be there when he got home.

TBC

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