rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,

Ghost in the Machine #5

Title: Ghost in the Machine

Author: josie_h

Pairing: Xander/Spike
Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes later on - ie M/M
Summary: Post Black Thorn and final AtS - The PtBs screw with Spike yet again.
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Author’s Note: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators
Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Previous parts here

Part 5

Spike had been monitoring the Berkshire coven email 'as instructed' for over a month, but had made no contact. What was there to say? "Hi Willow, It's me Spike, I'm back *again*... Yup, now a Big Bad sprite of the digital world. Just wonderin' if you and the ladies could organize a body for me." It just wouldn't be right. So, despite the fast growing wealth in the Aurelian account courtesy of his own business acumen and Illyria's occasional insights, he had found himself becoming more and more depressed with the current situation, and increasingly chose the oblivious state of occupying a down time server.

He found he was able to set his mind to registering important 'shifts' in the fabric that was his reality, much as a mother is tuned to odd noises or her baby (or any baby) crying, acting depending on tone of cry circumstance. In the digital realm this meant bing 'pinged' if there was a significant rise or fall in markets that required attention, or an opportunity to invest previously unexamined. It also meant that when correspondence from Willow was sent to any coven member the activity was noted and observed.
And it was just such a correspondence, two weeks before the solstice, that had Spike intrigued enough to become fully aware once more.

It was an Email, direct from Willow to *Xander*, the boy, now man that had fought alongside them in Sunnydale. It was the same boy who had been given to the unsouled Spike by his grandsire as a ruse; who had hated and yet worked with the chipped Spike after Buffy died; who had left his vengeance demon girlfriend at the alter; the brave man who had defended others at the expense of his own eye against Caleb; and who had obviously gone on to 'other things' before joining Willow at the coven, and now was a fast becoming recognized artist. Spike was intrigued.

It wasn't just the fact of Xander being there, indeed in a strange sort of a way he would have expected it, the 'boy' had always gravitated toward what he knew - as any rational Sunnydale 'Scoobie' and friend of Willow would - rather it was the candid admissions that had Spike transfixed. In Xander's reply referred to his gay status, his successes at the coven and obvious talent for creativity, and... his fond memories of his work years in Sunnydale... and of friends lost, including Spike, the vampire.

It was the latter that had him thrown a little. He read end of the passage over again "...Wonder what he would make of me dreaming about him so often. You did say something last time about a final fight in LA. Not sure why, but can't help thinking he might have survived that too - well except for the no contact. Do you have any pictures of him? You'll know why when you see my latest pieces, just need to get the face kind of right, . I know you probably think I'm obsessing or just too lonely. Anyway looking forward to a proper Willow hug Saturday. Go the yellow crayon - Your Xander shaped friend."

Spike couldn't shake thoughts of the boy or the idea that he was being thought of, so did an old trick. He used the webcam and the fact that Xander was logged on to look into the room where the computer was.

It was obviously night time and the room fairly dark but he could make out Xander moving around then sitting back down at the computer. He must have been alone, judging by the lack of shirt and absence of eye patch, but the boy, no man, looked good. A bit paler than Spike remembered - a good few months in England would do that to pretty much anyone - but fit and mature compared to the 'pup' of Sunnydale. It had Spike wondering if he could make contact of some sort but the computer logged off before he was able to form any sort of plan, so he too shifted to downtime. It was probably for the best, after all it was Willow he was really seeking help from, still there was no harm keeping an eye on the boy...


The return of Willow was rather overshadowed by the general influx of wiccans from all over England and Europe for celebrations marking the Summer Solstice. But one coven auxiliary member of the coven was particularly pleased.

Willow was met and greeted by Mistress Yollanda, and brought up to speed as to the proceedings for the following day then politely took her leave, and her bags, and made her way to Xander's workshop (her own room allocated to a visiting Mistress, and friend).

She was met by the sound of whirring machinery and music coming from a rather overtaxed small radio in the corner.
Xander was engrossed in sanding the top of his latest table but Matti was facing the door. He smiled broadly at her and tapped Xander who flicked off the power and stood with a slight groan."What's up?"

Matti gestured toward the door, then removed his safety goggles and said, "Visitor," before nodding, saying "Good afternoon Mistress" and leaving the old friends to catch up. Everyone in the coven knew that the two were childhood friends and had a long history. The younger members spinning wild tales of unrequited love that Matti knew to be 'so not of the truth' via his discussions with Xander over time, but knew to keep his silence.

Xander felt his heart skip a beat, he really had missed her. "Hey you?!"

Willow smiled back easily, "Hey yourself... Got a place at the inn for a tired uber-witch?"

"So long as you're happy with... geez.. and I did have the whole whitty alliteration thing ready."

"Yeah but you did say alliteration, that's a plus right."

Willow grinned and was soon caught up in a warm hug, despite Xander's safety glasses and thick, sawdust covered leather gloves.

After some moments Willow broke the hold, "OK Mister... I'm all 'intrigued gal'. Show me your latest stuff. Yollanda said you are quite the flavour of the local art scene."

What followed was a tour of Xander's latest works, culminating in an online expose of his works past and most recently sold. A cup of lemongrass and ginger tea later and the two were comfortably relaxed in what passed for Xander's living room when the topic of discussion inevitably turned to all things 'Sunnydale-strange'.

"So the message was from 'a friend'?"

"That's all it said?"

"Well, yeah? That and they were interested in the new series."

"New series of what?"

"My 'creatures of the night' pieces, but that's the weirdness. I haven't even finished most of them. It's like this guy has access to... well it's just of the weird."

"Are you sure it's a guy?"

"Not really but the tone is, I don't know... sort of guyish."

"Well, Have you talked to anyone about what you're doing?"

"I guess... Just like to know if anyone's... you know... tapping into my Email or something... And..." Xander blushed profusely then looked Willow square in the eye, "Just rather know if the Mistress Yollanda monitors my Net account... you know... um... Do you think...?"

Willow smiled knowingly then patted Xander on the knee, "I'll check it in the morning, but I'm sure it's all above board. You probably just told a student at college about your new stuff and they are all enthusiastic... And I'll search out the images of Spike you wanted, but for now? This one tired wiccan needs her sleep... Night..."

The wind picked up just as Willow went to bed and Xander stood at the door of his small abode. Black clouds rolled in from the west, though the weather predictions may have been for fine conditions the next day, the storm seemed to be somewhat appropriate.


Spike was jolted from his place of rest by the presence of Illyria once more. He had been composing a rather melancholy piece of prose 'in his head' noting his own missing of various physical sensations, but shifted focus swiftly. "Bloody Hell Blue! No need to blast a bloke just to get 'is attention."

"You have made contact with the coven."

"Yes 'n no. Just wrote a note to one of Willow's friends - former Scoobie livin' on the coven turf. Did it incognito mind, 'n before you ask, nothin' to do with current predicament, just curious."

"It is well then. We cannot afford to alert those who may seek us. You may contact the one called Willow during the festivities known as the Solstice as there will be much magicks and correspondence to mask our presence."

"Ho *may* I now... And what exactly do you propose I say? Two non-beings needin' a couple of bodies on permanent loan?"

"You may wish corporeal existence on this plane but I will transfer to a realm in which my influence is absolute, away from this ooze that eats itself. And though I surmise it may not be necessary, due to the foibles of humans, you can offer payment. It is my estimation that we have access to over ten million Euro immediately."

"Sounds like a plan, though I'm not that convinced money is what Red will want, 'n still not so sure how Red can help. Don't fancy bein' stuck in some borrowed corpse, if ya don't mind, 'n spendin' the rest of me days as sentient dust in some urn not exactly my idea of a step up either."

"If this Willow Rosenberg is as good as Winifred Burkle remembers then your concerns are unfounded, but I do understand your concern and it is a simple matter of choosing a suitable vessel and altering the object at a molecular level - quite within the realms of even human science though they have only begun to comprehend and explain the atomic states in fractal terms. As with all human endeavour it has taken them some time to accept chaos for what it is - a perfection that they do not understand. As with all fractal forms invariant sets hold the key, and if altered in their most elemental form, will allow a new state to exist. This holds for that the humans have named atoms just as it does with the stars. With the right conditions I can assist this Willow in matters of altering..."

"Messin' with atoms smacks of a certain Third Reich 'n Hiroshima. Frankly rather stay as I am if bein' a real boy means blowin' up the earth as we know it!"

"Imbecile. It is not in my interests to destroy this pitiful planet. I shall not attempt to explain my part in this further, all you need know is it will require exceptional majicks to provide your essence with a means to inhabit and animate the form of your choosing. You must simply make contact with this Willow and convince this witch and her contacts to assist our cause. That is all." Illyria's presence withdrew, leaving Spike to ponder the how and exactly what to say to 'the witch'.


The following day saw all hands on deck as far as Xander and the coven was concerned. Tables to be carried, drinks to be served and people to be directed, and all the while Xander’s computer was idle.

The quiet moments after the festivities saw Willow checking Xander’s computer for viruses and spyware (all negative) before downloading a half dozen images of Spike onto Xander’s machine, after which two old friends enjoyed a proper ‘catch up’ with associated red wine and home made soup and bread.

Despite Xander’s fatigue at the end of the very full day, he ventured into his workshop following Willow excusing herself and heading to bed. He pulled the three quarters finished sculpture of a leather coat clad vampire and took it back to his lounge room. Firing up one image of Spike on his computer, he stared hard at first it then the unfinished face and pulled out a simple small chisel to begin work.

An hour later his computer pinged to indicate a message, something which broke his concentration, had him reading the MSN screen twice and racing to rouse Willow.

“Harris, you nit. Nose ain’t that big. Now get the witch up – we need to talk. S.”


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