orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,
orchidluv
orchidluv
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Nothing the Same, Book 3, Ch. 33

Nothing the Same, Book 3
Chapter: 33/38-ish
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: Primarily season 4, but anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same & Nothing the Same, Book 2
WARNING:  THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX (about bloody time) and some naughty language
Previous parts here

Chapter 33

Spike listened closely to Jose’s report, weighing the information carefully, even as he pretended indifference, toying idly with the taser rifle lying on the table in front of him. For the past two nights, his senior Lieutenants had visited the town’s gathering spots, watching, listening and asking discrete questions. What they‘d learned was disturbing.

Adam was up to something, that much was obvious. He was recruiting heavily among the aggressive demons: Crynt’ks, Klantosh, Nyntakkii, even vampires. From what his Lieutenants had learned, Adam had half the demons in town thinking he was some sort of fucking messiah and the idiots were apparently lining up to throw themselves on the pyre for him. Adam was somehow convincing demons who normally wouldn’t give a member of another species the time of day to work together. Spike wasn’t particularly interested in controlling those kinds of demons himself - it was a lot more fun to kill them - but he couldn’t help wondering how Adam was doing it.

Putting the snippets of information together, Spike suspected Adam was working on his own plan for attacking the Initiative. If that was really what Adam was planning, and if Spike hadn’t been dead set against Adam poaching in his Territory on general principles, he’d be half tempted to sign up with Adam himself - second in command of course, not the cannon fodder Adam was recruiting. The species being most heavily recruited all tended to be vicious and dumber than dog shit. Which explained how Adam was convincing them to be sacrificial lambs for him. From a conversation Anthony had overheard, Adam may have actually talked some of the demons he was recruiting into allowing themselves to be captured by the Initiative.

Which begged the question - why did Adam want all those demons filling the cells of the Initiative? Attacking from within? Which meant that Adam was confident he could open the cell doors when the time came. Either that, or he didn’t care if his recruits died in the cells.

Something wasn’t adding up and it bothered Spike more than he was willing to let on. From what he’d seen of Adam, he should be capable of taking down the Initiative himself, without needing a bunch of trench fighters to back him up. Was there something in the Initiative they didn’t know about? Or was Adam up to something else entirely?

He realized that Jose had finished his report and his Lieutenants were looking at him for a response.

“Right,” he said, getting to his feet. “Good work, all of you. Check around the Court, make sure anyone gullible enough to fall for that tripe doesn’t survive the experience. Stake anyone who even sounds like they admire Adam. We can’t afford that kind of stupidity in the Court.” He tossed the taser rifle to Anthony, who caught it smoothly. “Take the minions out in groups of 10 or so, give ’em a taste of what that can do. Might as well give ’em some practice in ducking taser fire. Soldiers seem to have a bit of a one track mind when it comes to weapons,” he ordered, thinking about the stupidity of attacking something like Adam with a taser and conveniently ignoring the fact that he’d attacked Adam with his bare hands. “Questions?”

Not surprisingly, there weren’t any and Spike strode out of the room heading for the apartment. The Court would be ready soon. The question was, could he use what Adam was doing to help him take down the Initiative? As tempting as it was to make a temporary truce, he was not giving Adam the chance to establish a powerbase in his Territory. Especially if there was something inside the Initiative that Adam wanted.

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

Xander was sprawled across most of the bed, face half buried between two pillows, leaving only his shock of dark hair visible, the tangled waves curling down to brush against his shoulders leaving Spike, as always, with the nearly irresistible urge to bury his fingers in the thick, dark mass, stroking and playing with the brown waves.

One arm was flung out across Spike’s side of the bed, the other curled underneath the pillows and Spike sat down on the mattress, unable to resist running his hand up the toned muscles of his boy’s back, feeling the warmth of the suntanned skin under his palm and the steady beat of his Claimed’s heart.

Not for the first time, Spike marveled in the changes that construction had wrought in his once gangly, awkward boy. Xander had filled out in the past year, especially through the shoulders and arms, having gained considerable muscle mass from hours of heavy lifting on construction sites. His torso tapered down to a narrow waist and flat abdomen, and his long, muscular legs were beautiful. His boy had become a confident man, not only physically but emotionally as well. Xander was everything Spike had wanted when he’d first set out to make the lonely, uncertain boy his own: loyal, generous and loving, with sunlit laughter and dark undercurrents that drew Spike like a magnet. Of course, he hadn’t forseen that Xander would also be as stubborn as the proverbial mule and would drive Spike nearly mad by his insistence on putting his own life in danger to protect others - usually others who were stronger and faster and better able to survive danger than Xander. Xander made Spike laugh, made him so frustrated he wanted to scream but, above all, he made Spike feel loved and wanted as no one else ever had, either as a human or a vampire. For the first time in his restless existence, Spike had learned what contentment was. Having Xander by his side made everything else bearable. Without Xander, Spike wouldn’t be alive now. He would have staked himself in frustration and despair over the chip a long time ago but Xander’s refusal to accept the chip as anything more than a temporary problem had given Spike hope and the will to carry on until he could find a way to get the damn thing out.

His hand traced idly over Xander’s back as his thoughts wandered. Even without being able to see it, Spike knew his Claim Mark was fading and overdue for renewal. He needed to renew it soon before the building tension in town exploded into violence. A Claim scar wasn’t of much use in a pitched battle but even the slightest hesitation as an opponent realized the human they were facing had been Claimed by the Master of the Territory could make the difference between a blow that landed and one that was successfully blocked.

“You know, you could use the other hand and make it a real massage,” Xander mumbled sounding still half-asleep and Spike realized his hand had continued running over Xander’s skin on its own, the slow, soothing motions more for his own peace of mind than anything else. Coming back to himself, Spike glanced towards the darkened windows. The sun hadn’t risen yet, but dawn wasn’t far off and Xander would be leaving for work not long after.

Plenty of time, Spike thought with a smirk.

“And what possible reason could I have for doing that?” he purred, his voice dark and sensual. As he spoke, he lifted his free hand off the mattress, beginning to run both hands over Xander’s tanned back in a way that had nothing to do with massage.

“I’m willing to offer cash incentives,” Xander suggested, sounding more awake now, awake and shifting under Spike’s hands in a way that told Spike he was not adverse to a little pre-dawn dalliance before work.

“Hmmm,” Spike said judiciously. “I like money.”

He let his hands slide away from the warm skin beneath him, bracing himself against the mattress as he bent down and began kissing his way across Xander’s back from one shoulder blade to the other. His tongue darted out, tasting that sun-touched flesh and he inhaled deeply, drinking in the rich scents of his Claimed. Xander tasted like the almost-forgotten sunshine of his human years, he thought, not for the first time. Xander’s natural scent began to take on the musky smell of arousal as his kisses moved further south.

He took his time, laving his tongue over every inch of his boy’s skin, swirling the tip over and around the bumps and hollows of Xander’s spine, giving each vertebra individual attention before moving on to the next, loving the way Xander arched his back into his touch, wordlessly asking for more, his breath coming more rapidly as his arousal deepened.

Spike sat up abruptly as he reached Xander’s waist, ignoring Xander’s protesting “hey!” as he straddled Xander, resting his weight on Xander’s thighs and turning his attention to his boy’s firm, strong buttocks.

“Said you wanted a massage, luv,” he reminded Xander innocently, deliberately kneading and working the muscles in a way guaranteed to not be relaxing, bending down to kiss and nip playfully at both cheeks as Xander squirmed under his attentions, beginning to rock his hips down into the mattress, seeking friction. Spike could tell from the heady scent that Xander was fully aroused and he breathed in sharply, inhaling Xander’s spicy scent made deeper and richer with his arousal. His own cock was reacting to his efforts, but he ignored his need to plunge deeply inside his boy, knowing the chip prevented that for now.

The flash of furious resentment, the helpless rage that simmered constantly beneath the surface of his mind helped keep his arousal in check even as he worked to insure that Xander lost control.

Spreading Xander’s cheeks with his thumbs, disguising the movement in his massage, Spike dragged his tongue up the exposed crack, swirling it teasingly around the entrance and chuckled as Xander yelped and squirmed beneath him at the sudden shift. Spike laved his tongue back and forth over the tight entrance, loving the way it twitched and fluttered under his attentions.

Xander was gasping now, his hips riding up off the mattress as he thrust back against Spike, wanting more, moaning as Spike obliged him working the tip of his tongue inside the opening, losing himself in the taste and scent and sound of his Claimed’s arousal. His own erection was screaming for attention and he pulled back with a sudden movement that had Xander practically keening a protest, folding himself over his boy’s back and pulling their bodies tightly together. He slammed his hips forward, fitting his erection into the crack of Xander’s ass, feeling the heat and moisture surrounding him as he rutted furiously against his boy, reaching one hand around and encasing Xander’s weeping erection in his strong palm. He thrust hard, his hand pumping Xander’s pulsing cock in rhythm with his own movements as they both approached the precipice together.

The sudden shrill of the alarm and Xander’s bark of surprised laughter sent them over the edge together, Spike’s seed erupting over Xander’s ass and Xander coating Spike’s hand as he exploded into his own orgasm and they collapsed on the bed together, Xander’s sweat-soaked limbs tangling with Spike’s cool flesh, the alarm blaring obnoxiously on the bedside table as Xander panted heavily and Spike inhaled their mingled scents rapturously.

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

Sitting in his usual spot, perched on the arm of Spike’s chair, Xander watched curiously as Giles went to answer the knock on the door. Everyone had already arrived for the meeting, as far as he knew. Oz was there, his usual quiet composed self, back from a long weekend with Devon and the band, having dealt with the issues that had made him seek space and music and time away. Buffy had obviously been at Giles’ for awhile, munching on a cookie, a discarded text book on the table at her elbow.

As usual, he and Spike had been the last to arrive. Spike hated being summoned to appear anywhere and scored some kind of point by making his entrance last. It had something to do with sweeping in and starting the meeting as if he’d been the one to call it, but Xander had decided a long time ago that he wasn’t going to get involved in Slayer-Master Vampire one-gunmanship, except to prevent it from turning violent.

He was surprised to see Mr. Olsen and Sgt. Morgan follow Giles into the living room and he straightened up alertly, wondering what was up. Mr. Olsen and Sgt. Morgan didn’t usually come to their periodic gatherings at Giles’ apartment, attending only the big meetings and he hadn’t had the impression that this was anything more than their usual state-of-the-Hellmouth update.

Mr. Olsen smiled at him and Sgt. Morgan gave the room a half-wave, half-salute greeting and Xander relaxed back against the wing of the chair. Neither of them seemed worried, so they probably just had some news. They were all being paranoid about talking on their phones these days, so it made sense they would have come in person to deliver any news.

As Giles courteously found them chairs, Xander thought idly that, if the meetings got any bigger they were going to have to find another place to meet. Just their usual four - now five with Oz back, pretty much filled Giles’ small living room. Which was always Xander’s excuse for sitting on the arm of Spike’s chair rather than claiming one of his own.

Of course, if Spike had his way, Xander would be sitting in his lap but that was so not happening. Lap sitting was a naked activity, thank you very much. He was bigger than Spike and, unless nakedness was involved, he felt ridiculous perched on top of Spike’s smaller body, no matter how much Spike loved it. He leaned over and dropped a kiss on top of Spike’s platinum hair, grateful as always that Spike understood which points were non-negotiable. Spike had the strength and the instincts to enforce a lot of things that Xander wouldn’t like and it always amazed and humbled him that Spike fought his own instincts for Xander’s sake.

Spike glanced up at him, eyes smiling although his face was impassive and slid his arm around Xander’s waist. Xander put his right arm across Spike’s shoulders, one finger slipping beneath the neck of Spike’s black t-shirt to trace patterns on the cool skin underneath. Despite his casual sprawl in the chair, Spike was watching the others take their seats with a wary intensity unusual for one of their periodic meetings and, as Buffy started to speak, Xander wondered what Spike was sensing that made the meeting unusual.

Certainly, her report didn’t seem that serious on the face of it. Twice in the past week, different species of demons had been seen traveling in pairs. A vampire and “something with horns and a bad case of the hairy backs”, and two similar looking demons with “weird tattoos on their faces”. Fortunately, Giles was able to clarify Buffy’s typically less than helpful descriptions with the information that the mixed pairs had consisted of a vampire and a Klantosh demon, and two Dakram sub-species that were usually mortal enemies. Xander looked at Spike for confirmation of that assessment as Buffy summed up - Spike was a much more reliable source than even the best of Giles’ books. Spike didn’t say anything and didn’t seem surprised, which made Xander narrow his eyes, staring down at Spike and wondering what he knew about this.

“Extraordinarily odd,” Giles commented when Buffy finished. “As a rule, demons have no empathy for any species other than their own.” He gave Sgt. Morgan and Mr. Olsen an apologetic look which Sgt. Morgan waved off, looking amused. “Particularly the vampire-Klantosh pairing. Most demons think of vampires as abominations. Mixing with human blood and all.” His gaze went briefly to Spike and Xander frowned when Spike didn’t take the opportunity to make a snarky response.

“What do you think brought them together?“ Xander asked.


“Not what,” Oz answered. “Who.”

Giles’ eyes widened behind his glasses. “Adam,” he said grimly.

There was a moment’s silence as they all digested that, then Buffy said flippantly, but with an underlying seriousness: “Well, who better to bring together a bunch of different demon types than someone who's made out of a bunch of demon types?” Buffy looked around at them all. “But why? What’s Adam up to?”

“That’s the question we all have been trying to answer,” Mr. Olsen pointed out. “Uniting different species would seem to indicate that he’s building a power base.”

“How much good is it going to do if his foot soldiers are all in a cell?” Buffy asked. “These guys were being way obvious and they have to know…”

Her voice trailed off and Sgt. Morgan finished for her tactfully: “That since their losses against Adam, the Initiative soldiers have been out in force and not in a friendly mood.”

Which was an understatement. The surviving members of the Initiative were grieving their losses in the only way they knew how: by seeking revenge. Since Adam wasn’t available, they were taking out their frustration and anger on any demon they could get their hands on. They had all seen Initiative patrols around town and it worried Xander - worried all of them - that they were becoming so obvious, like they had decided the time for hiding was over. Mr. Olsen had reported that half the demons in town were scared to leave their houses and Xander had gotten a list from him and his three employees had spent the last two days running groceries to the frightened demons.

Buffy was freaked because Riley wasn’t returning her calls and she hadn’t heard from him since he’d called after the disastrous raid on Adam’s cave. Only the remnants of common sense had kept her from accosting the soldiers on patrol when all attempts to talk to people at Lowell House had failed and Xander was worried that her patience was going to end and she was going to do something stupid and reveal her Slayer strength to people less understanding than Riley. Even Buffy couldn’t handle taser blasts and Xander was afraid that, in their current mood, the soldiers might just decide to find out why Buffy was so strong.


“We’re in the difficult position of having two opponents: the Initiative and Adam,” Giles said crisply, drawing Xander’s attention away from his depressing thoughts. “Among other things, we need to decide which is the greater threat, and therefore the one we must move against first.”

“Adam,” Buffy answered decisively. Spike’s watchful expression didn’t change in the slightest but Xander could sense his disagreement.

“No question,” she continued, looking around at them all. “We need to deal with Adam first. The Initiative may even help us take Adam down but Adam’s sure not going to be helping us stop the Initiative.”

“Don’t be too sure, Slayer,” Spike spoke for the first time since they’d arrived. “Wouldn’t be surprised if Adam didn’t want the people who created him out of the picture.” He gave her a deliberately offensive smirk. “Most vampires make their first kills in the family. Don’t like the reminder of where they came from. Adam’s bound to have some vampire bits in him. Could be he’ll help us take down the Initiative.”

Xander gave him a sharp look. Spike was the one who’d told Xander that vampires often killed their families because they were the easiest prey for confused fledglings just risen and not sure what to do with their new existence. He let it go without comment for now because Spike had a good point. The Initiative had Maggie Walsh’s files and Adam certainly knew it. It was a logical assumption that the ones with the most information on what made him tick had the best chance of defeating him, which meant they probably were first on Adam’s to-do list.

“We don’t need that kind of help,” Buffy told Spike sharply who just gave her a mocking smile.

“I’m inclined to agree with Buffy,” Giles said. “Adam is an unknown and that makes him terribly dangerous, simply because we cannot predict where or when he will strike.”

“Isn’t that kind of a reason to tackle the Initiative first?” Xander asked. “We know what they’re doing and we need to stop it.”

“And what if Adam attacks while we’re in the middle of a fight with the Initiative?” Buffy asked. “Besides, if we can work with the Initiative to take down Adam, maybe we won’t have to fight them at all.”

“Still hoping boy toy is going to come through for you?” Spike sneered and Xander put a warning hand on his thigh. Buffy was more than a little volatile on the subject of Riley, especially now.

Sgt. Morgan spoke up before Buffy could draw breath to answer - just as well, Xander thought, given the anger on her face. The last thing they needed was for Buffy and Spike to seriously get into it. While frequently entertaining, it wasn’t always productive.

“We know where they are, Xander but we don’t have a plan for getting inside,” Sgt. Morgan reminded him. “They appear to be well fortified and we don’t have a way in that they wouldn’t see coming and be ready for us. An all-out assault would be extremely costly on both sides.”

“Adam has a way in,” Giles reminded them all. “According to Riley, he’s already gotten inside their base once, without them seeing him coming.” He shifted his gaze to Buffy. “Did they ever find out how he did it?”

She shook her head. “No. He overrode their security somehow but they’ve never figured out how.”

“Sounds like someone should ask him,” Spike said and it worried Xander that he didn’t sound like he was being sarcastic.

Buffy said up abruptly, looking way more interested than Xander thought the remark deserved. She stared at Spike thoughtfully. “Spike, do you think you could pretend to team up with Adam? If he’s recruiting demons, wouldn’t he want you more than anyone?”

“What?!” Xander began, outraged, but Spike was way ahead of him, shooting Buffy a withering look.

“Just how thick are you, Slayer? Not like he didn’t see me invading his home in the company of the Slayer and my Claimed.”

He doesn’t know Xander’s your Claimed,” Buffy argued, obviously annoyed at having her idea so summarily shot down and Xander shook his head, surprised as always by how little Buffy understood about demons. Anything except how to kill them simply didn’t interest her.

“‘Course he does,” Spike shot back. “Got his nose from the demon side of the spare parts bin, didn’t he? That’s the whole point of a Claim mark - so other demons are warned off. Enough bits of him are demon to know that.”

Spike didn’t mention the Claim scar was fading again but Xander knew Spike was aware of it. Spike spent an inordinate amount of time recently licking at the Claim scar, as if willing it to stay fresh. It wouldn’t be long before Spike felt compelled to renew it and Xander hated how much that cost Spike to do it. It didn’t matter for now, even if the mark had faded to the point where other demons couldn’t sense it anymore, Spike’s scent was all over Xander, as Xander’s was all over him - among other things they slept together every night. If Adam had any sense of smell at all, he knew that Xander and Spike were lovers.

“So, how do you stop an unstoppable demon?” Xander asked, wanting to break the tension between them.

“If both guns and our weapons are useless, I’m beginning to wonder if the military isn’t right. Maybe a nuke is the only way to stop Adam,” Buffy said, slumping down a bit.

Xander’s eyebrow shot up, although he knew Buffy couldn’t be serious. He hoped. “Well, since that pretty much leaves Sunnydale as just a big smoking hole in the ground, I vote we think of something else.”

“In addition to everything else, a blast that size would create seismic activity which could open the Hellmouth,” Mr. Olsen told them. Which was a new, and charming thought.

“So, nuclear radiation and demons overrunning the earth? Suddenly, Adam isn’t sounding so bad anymore.” Xander was beginning to sympathize with Buffy’s gloomy attitude. Spike trailed his fingers over Xander’s hip and Xander straightened his shoulders, taking comfort from the small touch. “Ok, if we can’t attack Adam physically, that pretty much leaves us with magic, right? Is there some kind of spell for killing an unkillable demon?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” Giles said patiently. “However, I am not much more than a dabbler when it comes to magic.”

“How about your friend Ethan?” He seemed like the kind of guy who knew about the down and dirty side of magic.

“What? Halloween guy? Band Candy man? Are you crazy?” Buffy exclaimed.

“Desperate actually. If we don’t come up with a viable alternative and fast, the military is going to be explaining the general public how a nuke ‘accidentally’ detonated in the hills just outside of town and we’ll all have to choose between glowing in the dark or demons overrunning the town.” Xander rubbed his hands over his face and tried to think outside the box. Trouble was, in Sunnydale everything was outside the box. The box was outside the box. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts.

“Basically, we need to do what we did to the Mayor,” he said slowly, thinking out loud. “Get him somewhere by himself and destroy him, right?” He looked around the circle of faces, seeing both amusement and exasperation at his simplification of the issue. “So, how do we do that?”

“The problem with that is we knew where and when the Mayor was going to be at the school and we knew how to kill him,” Buffy pointed out. “We don’t have any of that here.”

“Ok, right, but we didn’t have any of that when we started. We pooled our resources and came up with a plan. So what do we have now?”

“We have a psychotic, unkillable demon and no way to kill him,” Buffy said. Xander shot her an exasperated look and she held up an apologetic hand. “Sorry. Ok. We have a lot of fighters and we know where Adam is.”

“Was.”

Everyone looked around at Oz, who had been listening quietly to the debate.

“Oz?”

“Adam’s not in the caves anymore. Given enough time, I can probably track him but there’s a lot of traffic in and through those caves. It’s not going to be easy.”

“And we’re back to square one,” Giles murmured, looking discouraged.

“From my perspective,” Sgt. Morgan volunteered, his deep rumbling voice making them all sit up just a bit straighter, like recruits who had disappointed him. Xander still didn’t know how he managed to do that when, as far as he could tell, the man’s expression hadn’t changed in the slightest. “The problem is relatively straightforward. The intelligence we have says that Adam has an atomic power source. Remove the power source and it seems likely that Adam will cease to function. Something artificially created like that is going to be dependent on their power source to keep running.” He looked around at the others. “My suggestion would be for us to focus our attention on how to do that, rather than how to defeat him.”

Xander considered that. The shift in perspective was small but somehow it made the job seem more doable. “Ok, so how do we take out his power source? Can we shut him down or black him out somehow? Or are we back to exploratory surgery?” He saw Sgt. Morgan’s amused look at the last suggestion and just shook his head. “Don’t ask,” he advised.

“I wasn’t going to,” Sgt. Morgan assured him, lips quirking a little. “As for your first two suggestions, my understanding is the Initiative didn’t put in any kind of emergency override that would allow us to shut him down. Once activated, he was apparently intended to remain that way. And, although we don’t know for sure, I believe it would be safe to assume that they shielded his power source. The Initiative apparently intended him to be the ultimate weapon and he would be useless if an enemy could short him out.”

“Which leaves us with removing his power core?” Buffy sighed. “Xander’s exploratory surgery is beginning to sound like our only option.”

“Got about 75 vampires we could pile on top of him. That might hold him down long enough for me to rip his heart out.”

“Power core,” Xander reminded him and Spike just shrugged.

“Same difference.”

“Can we trust the vamps not to side with him?” Buffy asked, lifting a challenging eyebrow.

“They’ll do what they’re told,” Spike shot back immediately, a flicker of gold showing in his eyes at the suggestion that he couldn’t control his Court.

“I would rather have one or two fighters who can physically overpower him,” Giles said practically. “If it takes 100 to hold him down, we won’t be able to get near him to remove the power core.”

“So how do we get a couple of fighters that are stronger than Buffy and Spike?” Xander asked, then looked at Giles. “Can we use magic to enhance their strength?”

Giles leaned back in his chair and slowly removed his glasses letting them dangle by one earpiece as he considered. “It is possible to magically enhance a person’s strength for a short period,” he said slowly. “But such spells are inherently dangerous. They are not something I would wish to perform on another without a competent magic user to back me up.”

“How about contacting the Devonshire coven?” Mr. Olsen suggested and Giles looked at him, eyebrows raised. Mr. Olsen smiled. “I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be willing to help. Even if the Initiative didn’t use magic in constructing him, Adam is a fundamentally unnatural being. I think the coven would be willing to make an exception and intervene, don’t you?”

Giles’ expression cleared and he looked interested. “Put that way, you may very well be right. They might see this as a matter they are willing to intervene in.” He checked the time and frowned, obviously calculating time differences. “I’ll contact them later tonight and see if they are willing to help. At the very least, they might have some useful suggestions.”

He got to his feet, signaling the end of the meeting and Xander frowned, wondering whether they had actually decided anything. Mr. Olsen, Sgt. Morgan and Giles moved toward the door, talking together quietly and Xander wondered if he should say something before they all went their separate ways. Oz beat him to it.

“Stopping Adam isn’t enough.”

The quiet voice sounded unusually loud in the room and Xander felt Spike’s tension in his sudden motionlessness.

“We have to stop the Initiative as well.”

“Oz, we can tackle the Initiative, if necessary, after we take out Adam,” Buffy said, having obviously decided that her ‘Adam first’ argument had won the day.

“Strategically, taking the Initiative down while Adam is around to distract them is our best chance to succeed.” Oz met her eyes steadily. “There’s a werewolf down in those cells, if she’s still alive. I’m not leaving her down there indefinitely to be experimented on.” He glanced around the group. “And neither will the pack.”

“The pack?” Buffy repeated blankly.

“I contacted them while I was out of town last weekend,” Oz told her calmly. “They’re on their way.”

“What?! No. Call them off. I’m sorry, Oz, but the last thing we need right now is a bunch of angry werewolves in town.”

“Not your call,” Oz told her flatly. His eyes had turned black as she spoke and Xander watched the confrontation uneasily, knowing that Oz sometimes lost control in the heat of intense emotion.

He got to his feet, holding both arms out in a placating gesture. “Guys? I’m calling a truce. Buffy…,” Xander hesitated trying to come up with the right words, which was a mistake as that allowed Mr. Tactful to get there first.

“Wolf’s got a right to look after his own. Not your business, Slayer.”

“Of course it’s my business,” Buffy flared, jumping to her feet. “I’m the Slayer.”

Oz cocked his head slightly, slowly standing and staring at her with those black, impenetrable eyes. “Are you slaying werewolves now?” he asked quietly and Buffy looked at him, shocked.

“Of course not! But, Oz…”

“Slayer’s always been an us against them kind of gal,” Spike began provokingly and Xander glared at him, cutting him off with a sharp gesture.

“This stops - Right Now. This is not about demons versus humans - that’s what Adam’s trying to do. He’s trying to pit humans against demons. If we act like that, we’re playing into his hands.” He glared at all three of them impartially and saw that he had their attention. More calmly, he continued: “This is about defending ourselves. It’s really that simple. The Initiative is threatening everyone in this town, human and demon alike. They started this. And yes, humans are probably going to die in this fight. But so are demons. And I am not going to say that Mr. Olsen’s or Pyotr’s lives are worth less than my own just because some of their ancestors weren’t human. That’s the Initiative’s line. We’ve tried to talk to them, to get them to see what they’re doing, and it hasn’t worked.”

“Bravo, Xander,” Giles said. He and Sgt. Morgan and Mr. Olsen had stopped at the open door, listening to the argument with concerned faces. “You’re absolutely right. We can’t afford to be divided amongst ourselves. If we can’t work together, we won’t succeed.”

Buffy and Oz nodded and Xander was relieved to see they had both taken a metaphorical step back and weren’t bristling at each other any more. Spike’s eyes were shuttered and Xander could tell he was thinking rapidly, weighing and discarding options. Well, that was the best they could expect. Getting this group to work together had always been an exercise in herding cats. They all had their own agendas, the trick had always been to convince them that their agendas overlapped.

“Might not need to choose who to attack,” Spike said abruptly. “Adam’s recruiting demons to attack the Initiative.”

“What?!” “Perfect.” “What are you talking about?”

Spike shrugged, indifferent to the hostile attention he was now receiving from nearly everyone, though his eyes flickered briefly, apologetically, in Xander’s direction. Much as he would have liked to have known that little tidbit of information before the meeting, Xander had to admit that they’d gotten a bit distracted this morning and hadn’t had a chance to talk.

“Been having some of the boys check around town,” Spike explained. “Mr. Bits is playing messiah and a lot of demons are lining up to do his bidding.”

“What exactly is he asking them to do?” Giles asked.

“Work together. May even be deliberately planning to let themselves be captured. Far as I can tell, he wants the demons showing themselves around town.” Spike’s smile had nothing to do with amusement. “Got them hanging ‘easy prey’ signs around their necks, just waiting for the soldiers to scoop them up.”

“Why didn’t you say something before?” Buffy demanded.

“Not sure I disapproved. Having a lot of demons on hand to kill those buggers sounds like my kind of party.”

“Damnit, Spike!”

“Let it go, Buffy,” Xander told her sharply. “Spike has a responsibility to his Court, same as Oz does to another werewolf, and you do to humans.”

Giles had moved back to the living room, flanked by Mr. Olsen and Sgt. Morgan. “If Adam is planning on attacking the Initiative, having demons he can count on inside would be extremely useful - assuming he can get them out of their cells.”

Sgt. Morgan nodded thoughtfully, crossing his arms over his massive chest, his eyes calculating. “A Trojan horse scenario,” he said. “Fill up the enemy camp with your soldiers, then strike from within.” He looked around the circle, meeting each of their eyes in turn. “From what I understand, Adam is too intelligent to try this unless he is confident he can release his demons at the proper time. I think we must assume he believes he can override the Initiative’s security.” He frowned. “I dislike the idea for many reasons, but our best bet may be to use Adam’s attack as a cover for our own. Attack both Adam and the Initiative simultaneously.”

~~~~

*A/N - Bits of dialog borrowed from the episode ‘Where the Wild Things Are’

TBC


 
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