Title: Family Bonds
Summary: After his relationship with Anya fizzles out, Xander and Spike become lovers. Xander’s insecurities lead him to seek help from
Notes: AU begins S6 replacing Hells Bells. No Dawn, Buffy didn’t die, no Season 6 Spuffy.
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here
Xander watched Buffy simultaneously pound on the metal door with her fist and foot, then sprint for cover while the sound rang out over the cemetery. He hoped it wasn’t loud enough to wake the dead, the last thing they needed right now was zombies as well as demons. As they expected, the door was thrown open and two demons emerged, cautiously looking around for the source of the banging.
Not especially large but quite solid with some obvious muscle, the demons almost resembled a human but for the large tusk-like teeth curling from their bottom jaw, the long thick orange hair and their hide, a blend of colours like a palette of exotic ochres. The demons scented the air, glanced around with jerky movements of their heads, then retreated back into the crypt, slamming the door.
Xander felt the tension from Spike immediately and heard an uncharacteristic curse from Giles. “What? Spike, what is it?” he asked quietly.
“Okay no clearer. Giles, Naidah, clue me in here?”
“Vampire killers. Not immune to magic, but near enough that Willow and Tara will be of little help casting against them.”
“Vampire killers? Why are they vampire killers?”
“The Naidah carry a racial memory,” Giles whispered. “A millennia old imprint from a time when they were involved in a vicious territorial war with vampires. Even though the battle is long over and they lost, these demons are, for want of a better term, holding a grudge.”
“That would be why they’ve been here disrupting the funerals,” Spike said. “They’re getting rid of the vamps before they’ve even woken up. Probably why those fledges were running for cover.”
“So how do we kill these things?” Xander asked.
“Nothing special Xander. You’ll find most creatures are rather fond of their heads, very few can survive without one; these included.”
“It’s their soddin’ leather battle dress that gives you the most trouble, not the easiest thing to cut through. But if you can manage it, a blow to the mid-section, they’re pretty fond of keeping their guts on the inside, like most of us.”
“Okay, just let me at ‘em,” Xander said eagerly.
Spike put a calming hand on Xander’s shoulder. “Harris you’ve been a consort for three days. Think about what the watcher said. These things fight vampires. You’re a consort, so not as strong as me, nowhere near as strong as your slayer over there and not a patch on a lot of demons. Fledges are different.”
“Well, will you take a look at my wind-free sails,” Xander said flatly.
“Love, you get in there and fight, but you keep your head. You’re still on a bit of a blood high and I want you to be safe. Just focus for me yeah?”
“Ah, Spike I do believe it is just as important for you to be safe during this,” Giles said pointedly. When Xander looked curiously at him he added, “Oh, as it is for all of us, not just Xander, that was, ah, my point.”
“You sound a bit nervous G-man,” Xander said. “Are these demons really all that bad?”
“They are relatively strong and vicious fighters. Not as strong as vampires or they may well have won the original battle. They will however, single mindedly target Spike.”
“So if they’re after vampires and Spike is right in front of them, why haven’t they come back out to make with the vampicide and why were there only two when we heard more?”
Giles glanced over at the crypt and the closed door and frowned. “Both good questions.” He looked across at Buffy who was coming out of her cover and heading back for the door raising her hands in question at Giles. He shrugged and motioned her forwards, but as she shifted her weapon, preparing to bang again, the heavy door flew open, catching her shoulder and knocking her away.
Through the open doorway two demons charged out, now wearing heavy leather clothing decorated with symbols and patterns and wielding large clubs. Buffy jumped to her feet as Spike, Xander and Giles broke cover and ran to meet the demons in the open pathway.
“Where are the rest?” Xander shouted.
“We’ll deal with these two and I’ll watch for them,” Giles called. Keeping his eye on the demons, he shouted over his shoulder to the girls who were standing well back. “Willow, Tara, your magic won’t work against them, Anya stay there and keep your eyes open for more.”
Xander and Spike fought together against one demon, Buffy and Giles paired against the other. It was less of a fight for them and more of a distraction attempt as the second demon seemed intent only on reaching Spike. It deflected their blows, dodging and running for the vampire every chance it could. Its strikes were not as strong as Buffy’s, but its ability to duck and weave was quite impressive.
Xander was having the same difficulty; the demon was only interested in Spike and Xander found it was easily able to avoid his swings and position itself in direct line to do battle with the vampire.
Giles’ voice was rough and panting already. “Buffy, you need to protect Spike.”
“What? No. We need to kill the demons Giles, Spike can take care of himself,” Buffy shouted while again trying to block and hit the demon.
“Buffy you will do as I’ve said and protect Spike. If you won’t do it because your watcher ordered it, then do it for Xander’s sake.”
“We will so talk about this later Giles,” she said angrily between swings, but moved to a better position between the demon and Spike.
Spike was swinging and connecting with his weapon, but finding it difficult to get through the leather covering the demons had put on. With the Naidah focused entirely on Spike, Xander had gotten into a position where he was able to hit the demon as it dodged away from Spike’s blows and was gradually managing to cut through the bindings on its leather. Small pieces began to fall, as the cords that held the patchwork garment together gave way.
Buffy and Giles’ demon was determined to get by their blockade and join its partner in attacking Spike; it weaved and swerved but found itself hemmed in. It tilted its head back and gave a loud frustrated cry, the sound coming from its throat in a dissonant combination of pitches.
They all winced in pain at the sound, Xander and Spike yelping as their sensitive hearing took the brunt. “There’s the other bloody demons love,” Spike said between blows. “All those voices we heard were coming from the one mouth.”
“That can only be good,” Xander said as he ducked under a swing from the club and brought his axe swinging up to connect with the last bindings on the demons back. “These are the only ones then.”
As the vest-like leather fell away, this demon gave an angry shout, even louder than the other. The high pitched screeches rang out over the simultaneously emitted deeper pitch and for a split second, Spike flinched and made to cover his ears. In that moment, as the demon took advantage and swung its club at Spike’s head, Xander finally noticed that the handle end of the club had been sharpened into a deadly stake.
At Xander’s cry, Giles spun and left Buffy to deal with the second demon. While Spike fell to the ground, knocked down by the club’s impact with his head, Giles stood between him and the demon blocking its attempt to flip the club and stake the prone vampire. Xander took the opportunity to step behind it, then swung at its now exposed back. His axe cut cleanly through the demon, now that the leather coverings were gone, and it fell to the ground in two distinct pieces. He registered the splash of body fluids and ruined flesh against his clothes but ignored it.
Spike shot to his feet, still shaking his dazed head and joined the other three as they, and now Anya, hacked at the leather bindings. The demon, even though surrounded, still tried desperately to reach Spike, but was beaten back with each step. As the last piece of its leather collar fell, Giles swung and embedded his short sword in the demon’s neck, stepping back as it crumpled to the ground.
“Okay,” Buffy said with a harsh tone. “This patrol is officially over. Giles. Answers now.”
“Buffy, I don’t think that is particularly approp-.”
“Look carefully and see how much I don’t care Giles. You had me defending a vampire. You ordered me to protect Spike.”
“I’m on team Buffy this time Giles,” Xander said. “What the hell is going on? Not only did I hear you order her to guard Spike, but you left her to fight alone and went to Spike’s rescue.” Xander turned to Spike. “And you, you didn’t even say a thing about it. One of you tell me now, cause this is falling on the insane side of normal.”
“Rupert is right love. Now is not the time or the place. Let’s just go-.”
“No! Something is going on and I want answers. Giles you tell me what’s going on.” Xander turned an unwavering stare in Giles direction, waiting for an explanation.
Giles slammed his sword point-first into the soft soil, effectively cleaning off any demon residue. “That will do!” he shouted. “I will not be spoken to in such a way by either of you. Buffy you are my slayer and if I give you an instruction you will follow it. I do not expect to receive an argument in the midst of a battle.” Giles then rounded on Spike punctuating each of his shouted words with a step closer to Spike, a finger pointed in his face. “And you. You. Tell. Him. Tonight. If you don’t then I will.”
“Tell me what? Spike what in the hell is going on?” Xander wore a mix of anger, confusion and hurt and his gaze shifted between Spike and Giles. “Goddamn it, someone explain.”
Willow and Tara had come running as soon as the demons were slain. Now they stood in shocked silence as Spike pushed Giles away from him and Buffy threw herself between them.
Anya took Xander’s hand and squeezed his fingers. “Xander you need to calm down. There’s something Spike needs to talk to you about. I can guess why he hasn’t, but you will understand. Go home and get it sorted out okay?”
Xander pulled his hand from Anya’s. “Why is it that everyone knows something about me and I don’t? How did you let that happen Spike?”
“Hey, I’m in the dark here too Xan,” Buffy said. “My watcher demands I protect an unchipped vampire? I’m looking for some straight up answers.”
“Right, how about this then,” Spike interrupted. “None of it is any of your bloody business. Any of you. I’m taking my consort home and you, Watcher, can clean up this soddin’ mess you made. It was not for you to say anything.”
Spike took Xander by the arm and turning his back on the others and ignoring their protests, marched him back down the path towards the gates. When they were out of sight and earshot, Xander pulled and twisted to get free of Spike but was no match for a determined vampire.
“Spike let me go, you can’t just drag me around like this.”
Spike stopped and sized him up. “If I let you go will you come home with me?”
“Stupid question. Of course I will,” Xander shook his head. “But you should know that I am completely pissed at you, because it looks like you’ve held something back from me that Giles and Anya seem to know about. If I go home with you will you tell me?”
“That’s my plan love,” Spike nodded.
“Fine. Let go of me then.” As soon as Spike dropped his arm, Xander pulled away and headed for the parking lot, not speaking to Spike.
As they climbed into the car, Xander searched and tried to feel something, but Spike had managed to shut down any interaction between them.
“Now you’re hiding yourself from me too? This isn’t looking good Spike.”
“I want to explain it properly. I don’t want you getting half-baked ideas and jumping to conclusions.” Xander gave him a wary look. “I love you mate, don’t doubt that.”
“I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be angry with you.”
“Yeah and I don’t doubt you’re going to be even angrier shortly.”
“Save the hints Spike, just drive. Get us home and clear this up okay?”
When they reached the apartment, Xander excused himself to take a shower and rid his body of the Naidah’s sticky brown blood, while Spike went into the kitchen and heated a bag of blood.
He knew Xander would be a while; pissed off Harris usually equalled long hot showers that calmed his nerves and delayed confrontations. As soon as he heard the water start in the bathroom, Spike picked up the phone. It was answered after only two rings.
“It’s Angel, Spike. What have you done?”
“Oh right. You immediately assume I’ve done something wrong. Can’t a fella just phone and pass the time of day with his sire?”
“No. Spike, what have you done.”
A heavy sigh came down the line. “If that’s all you wanted-.”
“I took a consort,” Spike said in a rush before Angel could hang up on him.
“So that’s what I could feel.”
“You felt something?” Spike asked, not sure whether he should be pleased that a connection so obviously remained between them.
“Yeah, just a twinge, didn’t know what it was.” Angel paused for a moment and Spike could almost hear the light bulb ping. “A consort? Spike what the hell?”
“Yeah, well, it just happened you know, thought you might want to know about the addition to the family.”
“Minions not enough for you now Spike, you have to make one of them a consort?”
“Ah, well, here’s the thing Angelus-.”
“I took a human consort.”
“A human?” Spike was a little glad Angel was so far away, judging by the tone, he was not impressed. “Why on earth would you claim a human?”
“Cause I love him you great poof. Why do you think?”
“Him? You’ve mated with a human male?” Spike fancied he could hear the gel crackling as Angel ran his fingers through his hair. “I leave you alone for a few years-.”
“You left me for a lot longer than that mate,” Spike reminded him less than kindly. “And you know as well as I do, him or her is irrelevant. Love is love isn’t it?”
Angel sighed. “I didn’t even know you were with anyone. You were still alone the last time I saw you. How long have you been with him.”
Spike debated whether to be completely honest. If he was going to ask Angel’s help then perhaps the truth would be best. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound. “Funny you ask that, its three weeks tonight since we first had a bit of a snog. Wonder if he remembered?”
Spike held the phone away from his ear. “THREE WEEKS?”
“Yeah three weeks, but there were circumstances see?”
“I don't care about the circumstances. You’ve taken a consort after three weeks? Are you insane?”
He laughed. “That’s been the general consensus for the last hundred-odd years.” Angel was silent except for the unnecessarily hard breathing. “Angelus?”
“You claimed each other? You both have the mark?”
“You didn’t force him in any way?”
Another heavy sigh.
“Fuck yes.” Spike grinned to himself. Oh yes, he was more than happy.
“I can hear you smile.”
“Yeah, it’s fun. You should give it a go once in a while. Make sure you’ve got someone there to catch you when you pass out though. I hear it can be hard the first time.”
“Shut up Spike.”
“So you’re a grandsire-in-law.”
Angel gave a light chuckle. “And you’re a consort’s master.”
“Yeah. Funny that. It’s not half as hot when you say it.” Spike registered the sound of the shower turning off.
“Big responsibility Spike. Are you up to it?”
“More than capable mate. Got myself a bloody brilliant consort. He’s quick, smart, funny, honest as the day is long and you want to talk about stamina? He’ll give any vamp a run for his money.”
Angel used his sire tone, the one that meant he was trying to pull rank on Spike; the one that rarely if ever worked. “Spike believe it or not I do not want to talk about your consort’s stamina.” Then Angel’s voice softened. “I know what you’re going to ask me.”
“Yeah, it’s why I phoned.” Spike’s voice became quieter, more respectful, if not exactly friendly. He needed his sire’s promise for this and wanted it freely given.
“Does he know you’re asking me to do that?”
“Spike sighed. “I’ve told him everything but this. I just didn’t know how.”
“Spike I know you, you are always going to be putting yourself at risk. He deserves to know he could die without you doesn’t he?”
“So how do I tell him? Oh by the way love, if I die, you die. Slowly and painfully unless you let Angelus take over the claim. Something like that? Gonna go down real well.”
“Angel. And Spike don’t be ridiculous. You’ll find the right words.”
“Yeah I know. Just wish I hadn’t put it off. He’s picked up a few hints tonight and he’s well pissed off with me at the moment.”
“Knowing you it wouldn’t be the first time.”
“Poof. So you’ll do it then?”
“I’ll do it. You have my word. Make sure he knows, make sure someone else knows too.”
“I’m going to tell him everything as soon as I hang up.” Spike heard the door open and Xander came out, wearing only a pair of black track pants and scrubbing his hair with a towel; he gave Spike a cautious look. “Hello love, feel better now?” Xander only rolled his eyes at Spike and shook his head. “Want to say hi to your new grandpa?”
Xander snatched the phone out of Spike hand and spoke into the mouthpiece. “Hello Deadboy.” He thrust the phone back at Spike then went into the living room and threw himself down on the couch, flipping on the television.
Spike held the phone at arm’s length, yet clearly heard Angel’s voice as though he were standing in the same room. “XANDER HARRIS? Was that Xander Harris?”
“Tell him he can go fuck himself if he has a problem,” Xander yelled, clearly having heard Angel just as well. Apparently Xander’s shower had not been the calming solution Spike thought it would be.
Spike put the phone back to his ear, ready for the tirade. “Spike? Spike? Tell me that wasn’t Harris.”
“That wasn’t Harris.”
“Liar. That was Xander Harris. You claimed Xander Harris as a consort? You have mated for life to Xander Harris? You are clearly insane.”
“Maybe, but that’s how it is. I love him, he loves me, we’ve claimed each other. End of story.”
“No. Not end of story. End of story is what you just had me promise.”
“Ah yeah but you promised see? Can’t take that back. Wouldn’t be setting a good example for the newest member of the family would it?” Spike said smugly. The self-satisfied smirk vanished from his face as soon as he saw the look Xander was giving him. Damn consort hearing; it was nearly as good as his own, so obviously Xander was able to pick up Angel’s end as well and was now aware something was going on.
“Angelus, I’ll leave it there, I have something important I need to do.” Spike switched to his most deferential voice. “Thankyou sire.”
“He’s family Spike. We look out for family, even if it is Xander Harris.” Spike heard Angel’s mood change. No doubt he would be spending some quality time in his favourite brooding chair very soon.
Spike snorted and hung up the phone. He quickly downed his mug of lukewarm blood and headed for the couch to sit with Xander and explain what he should have done long ago.
A/N: Family Bonds got a couple of awards this week. Thanks go tokitty_alex for all her work on this fic and to the judges at both sites.