orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,

Nothing the Same, Book 4, Ch. 10

Nothing the Same, Book 4
Chapter:  10/?
Pairing: S/X, established relationship
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 5, but anything from Season 1 on.  
Summary:  sequel to Nothing the Same , Books 1 - 3
Previous parts here

The writing is going quickly, so the next part should be up Monday at the latest, then another next weekend.

Chapter Ten

The Magic Box had two actual customers in it when Xander stopped by after work the next day.  Giles was behind the counter, just handing a small brown shopping bag to a customer.  “Thank you for shopping at the Magic Box,” he said, like he’d been born to shopkeeping.  “Do come again.”

Tara was talking quietly to a customer, apparently describing the difference between two bottles of equally disgusting looking eyeballs.  Xander smiled at her, noticing again that, when it came to anything magical, Tara was comfortable and sure of herself.

Giles watched the customer he’d just helped leave, the bell over the door chiming as the door swung open, then came around the counter toward Xander.  

“Looking good, Giles.”

Giles had a very satisfied smile, almost smug.  “Yes, there’s been a number of customers throughout the day.  Nothing overwhelming, but a good, steady trickle.  I’m very pleased.”

He glanced around the store, watching Tara with her customer approvingly.  “I may just have to see if Tara would like a part-time job.  She’s been an enormous help and I feel terrible taking advantage of her like this.”

“I don’t think she sees it that way,” Xander told him.

“No, but that doesn’t mean I can continue to abuse her good nature.”  They watched as the customer chose one of the bottles Tara had been describing, and follow her to the cash register.

“So, Giles.  Any news on the glow-ball front?”

“Oh, yes, thank you.  I meant to talk to you about that.”  Giles lead the way to the table in the back of the room and Xander followed curiously.  After checking to be sure Tara’s customer wasn’t watching, he fished the sphere out of a drawer.  It had been wrapped in a length of dark cloth and Giles waited until the customer before unwrapping it and setting it down on the table in a nest of dark fabric.  It was still glowing softly and was seriously cool looking, Xander thought, running a finger over its surface.  If it turned out to be nothing, he wondered if Giles would let him keep it.

“We’ve learned rather more than I expected, I’m afraid.  We may have underestimated what we’re dealing with.”

“How so?”  Xander asked.  So much for keeping it, he thought, suppressing a smile.

Tara drifted over to join them, sitting down at the table and listening as Giles explained.

“It’s called the Dagon Sphere and, as Ethan guessed, it has a history going back many centuries.  It’s a protective device, used to ward off ancient primordial evil.”

“Ok,” Xander said slowly.  “That sounds like something a bit more than just the monster of the week.”

“Yes, exactly.  Unfortunately, that’s where accounts get vague. All we’ve managed to uncover so far is that the Dagon Sphere was created to repel That Which Cannot Be Named.”

Xander raised his eyebrows.  “Great, Voldemort’s in town?”

Giles looked blank and Xander shook his head disapprovingly.  “I know Superman references pretty much go right past you, Giles, but jeez, Voldemort’s British.  You should know that one.”  

Tara giggled softly, ducking her head so her dark blonde hair fell forward, hiding her face.

“Meaningless pop culture references aside,” Giles said sternly, but with a hint of a smile in his eyes, “Anything that goes unnamed is usually an object of deep worship or great fear- possibly both.”

“So, more research?” Xander guessed.

“Yes, Tara and I will continue to see if we can find out anything more about it.  I was wondering if you could ask Spike to check out the warehouse where Buffy found this.”

Xander leaned back a little, folding his arms over his chest and regarding Giles curiously.  “Shouldn’t be a problem, but is there some reason you want it to be Spike?”

“Yes,” Giles told him immediately.  “Buffy called this morning and I’ve told her to take the week off from patrol.”

“Is something wrong?”  Xander glanced at Tara, who clearly had heard this before and was looking sympathetic but not overly concerned.

Giles shook his head.  “Not really, it’s more a matter of…timing.”  He took his glasses off and began polishing them absently.  “Buffy’s mother isn’t feeling well.” He held up a hand to stop Xander’s anxious question.  “Just a headache, as I understand it.  But she’s apparently had several bad headaches in the past week and Buffy is understandably worried.”

Xander frowned.  He hadn’t heard that Joyce wasn’t feeling well.  

“Buffy says her mother isn’t worried and didn’t want her daughters to fuss, so she hadn’t told them she wasn’t feeling well.  Last night was apparently the first time she felt badly enough for Buffy or Dawn to notice anything was wrong.”  Giles frowned and slid his glasses back on.  “Actually, the bigger concern is Riley.  Buffy doesn’t want him patrolling yet and it’s become rather a source of friction between them.  Frankly, if she isn’t patrolling herself, it will be easier for her to keep him from doing anything foolish.  I’ve asked the demon community to step in for her this week and they were more than happy to oblige.”  His lips quirked and Xander was reminded that the demon volunteers had felt underused this year, with Buffy patrolling more often and more aggressively.  No doubt they’d jumped at the chance to patrol for a full week.

Giles sighed.  “In another week, Riley should be fully fit again at the rate he is pushing himself, and less of a danger to Buffy if he still insists on patrolling with her.”  

“Ok, that explains why Buffy’s not going,” Xander said.  “Why Spike?” he asked again.

“I hope I’m just being paranoid.  But if the Dagon Sphere was in that area for a reason, it might prove more than the volunteers can handle.”  He looked at Xander steadily.  “It may very well be nothing - Buffy certainly saw nothing unusual in the area, but I would rather be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.”

That made sense.  Spike could handle anything Buffy could and someone had probably just been using the sphere as a paperweight or something.  After all, Giles said they hadn’t found any recent references to it.  

“I’ll ask him to check out the building tonight,” he promised.  Buffy had mentioned the old warehouse she’d found the sphere outside of and it wasn’t far from their apartment.  “I’ll head home and catch him before he goes down to the Court.  We’ll have a report for you in the morning.”

“Thank you, Xander.”


Spike’s tousled head was half-buried in the pillows, his lean, muscular form sprawled in naked glory across the bed.  Xander leaned against the doorjamb for a moment, admiring his sleeping lover in the dim light.  Spike always drifted over to Xander’s side of the bed after Xander left in the morning.  He claimed it was just for the lingering warmth that Xander was selfish enough to deprive him of by insisting on working but it always made Xander smile, knowing that Spike preferred the sheets and pillows that carried his scent.

“Bloody rotten hour to be disturbin’ a fellow’s sleep,” Spike complained without lifting his head.

“I’m just standing here,” Xander pointed out.  “I’m not disturbing anything.”

“Could come join me and make up for having woken me in the middle of the day,” Spike suggesting, sounding a trifle more awake and a little hopeful.  He shifted slightly, just enough to peer at Xander through one eye.  “Something up?”

Xander crossed to the bed and sat down on the edge, running a hand down Spike’s back and enjoying the feeling of the impossibly cool, silky skin beneath his palm.  Spike had the most amazingly soft skin.  “Giles needs a favor.  Wants us to check something out,” he said.

Spike made a happy, rumbling sound as Xander continued to trace his hand over his back.
“Why isn’t Buffy handlin’ it?”

“Riley,” Xander said shortly.

Spike unprintable opinion of Riley and his fucking issues made Xander grin.

“Yeah, that about sums it up,” he agreed.  “Still, could be interesting.  Giles wants us to check out the warehouse where Buffy found the Dagon Sphere, just in case there’s more of them, or something.”

“Glow-ball you told me about?” Spike asked after a second.

“Got it.  It’s apparently some big protective magic thingie and Giles wants to make sure there’s nothing else there.”

“Like someone who’s missing their magic glow-ball?” Spike suggested dryly.  He rolled over and sat up, drawing his feet up under him so he was sitting cross-legged on the bed, coming totally awake in an instant in that way he had that Xander had always envied.  Spike could remain bleary eyed and half-asleep for astounding periods of time during the day, but if there was the slightest hint of something dangerous, Spike was awake and ready for battle instantly.

“Right, or anything the Sphere is supposed to be protecting against that might be feeling frisky without it.”  He shrugged.  “I don’t think Giles really knows what we’re looking for, he just wants to make sure there isn’t anything there that we should know about.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

“I figure, we spend a few minutes after sunset checking it out, then head over to see Joyce.  Buffy said she’s not feeling well.”

Spike frowned and Xander said quickly:  “It’s probably nothing, but even if she’s not up to seeing anyone, we can check if there’s anything we can do.”

Spike captured his hand, which had continued its wandering journey over the new terrain exposed by Spike’s shift in position.  He brought it to his lips and kissed it.  “I’ll swing by the place then come back here for you.”

Xander rolled his eyes.  “Spike, the place is only a few blocks from here.  If something big and bad had moved in, you’d know about it, right?”

“Most like,” Spike admitted reluctantly.

“Plus, Buffy was there like two nights ago and all she saw was one fairly lame vampire.  
Anyway, you need me because you haven’t even seen the Dagon Sphere,” he finished triumphantly.

Spike just gave him a withering look.  “Please.  About so big,” he cupped his hands around an imaginary ball of approximately the right size.  “Kind of roundish?  Glows?  I think I’ll recognize one if I stumble over it.”

“Ok, point,” Xander conceded, “but c’mon, it’s probably nothing and you know it.  What are the chances that something big and scary has moved in less than 10 blocks away without you knowing about it and that Buffy didn’t stumble over while she was there.”

He knew he’d won when Spike sighed.  “All right, luv.”  Spike hated him going on patrol with him but this would be a routine look-see and they could get to the Summers’ house that much sooner.

He grinned at Spike.  “Afterwards, I figure we just casually stop by and see Joyce.  It’ll look more natural if we both go at the same time, like we were just coming back from having a beer or something.  If she’s sleeping or whatever, we’ll just ask how she’s doing and leave.”

Spike smiled at him.  “Getting sneaky, pet.”

“I’m subtle, not sneaky,” Xander told him loftily.


Walking up the concrete stairs, Spike smelled blood - lots of it.  The scent filled the upper stories of the abandoned warehouse:  the slight copper-tinged smell of fresh blood, like a still seeping wound not yet crusted over, and the thicker tang of old, dried blood.  Underlying the rich blood scent was the reek of human waste.  Someone had soiled themselves and no one had cleaned it up in the intervening hours.  

He signaled Xander to stay behind him, slowing his own pace as he climbed the last few steps, listening intently.  He could hear someone breathing, the sound labored and painful in the empty building, the sound of someone clinging stubbornly to life despite serious injuries.  Extending his hearing as far as it would go, Spike could hear nothing else in the top floor, except for Xander’s quiet breaths next to him as Spike held them motionless at the top of the stairs.

From the sounds of it, the fight was over and the victor had left.  Or maybe, the one clinging to life was the winner and their opponent lay dead beside them.  Either way, it didn’t seem like anything remained that could threaten Xander.

He walked forward, less concerned now about making noise that would give away their presence, Xander following at his heels.  The stairs ended in a large open space that had once been divided in half by a thick metal door.  Spike scanned the room quickly and saw no threats, then turned his attention to the door that had been torn completely out of place - recently from the looks of it.  His lips pursed in a silent whistle and he bent down to examine it more closely.  

The door was inches-thick steel and it lay twisted and crumpled on the floor, like so much discarded tissue paper.  Nothing Spike knew of was capable of doing that.  Even the Mayor, post-transformation, might have been stopped by a door that thick.  Yet something had not only destroyed six inches of solid metal, but kicked the whole thing in like it was nothing but a minor annoyance.

Beside him, Xander let out a shocked gasp, his eyes riveted on the brown-robed figure tied to a chair in the center of the room.  It was obvious he’d just seen the man in the dim lighting.  Spike’s better vision had spotted the man instantly, but he’d ignored the slumped figure - it was obviously no threat to either of them.  Xander, of course, hurried towards it, dropping down beside the man to check his injuries.

The man groaned and stirred as Xander began working on the ropes tying him to the chair.

“Waste of time, luv,” Spike commented, running a hand over the bent metal on the floor.  “Not goin’ to live long.”

Xander just gave him one of his this-is-not-negotiable looks and continued working.  Spike sighed, knowing who was going to be the one who ended up carrying the nearly dead human out of the factory.

Granted, he was idly curious about what brought a monk to Sunnyhell.  And who had tortured him so badly.  Spike recognized talent when he saw it.  From the looks of it, the monk had been beaten repeatedly over a long period of time, hours at least, possibly days.  His eyes were swollen almost shut, bruises and cuts covered practically every inch of his face, and his brown, homespun robes were marked with splotches of old blood.

Xander pulled out his pocket knife to deal with the ropes and Spike moved forward resignedly to help.  Xander wouldn’t be able to carry the man in his arms, and throwing him over his shoulder would finish the job someone had started.  Xander wouldn’t forgive himself if the monk died because of careless handling.

Some sixth sense warned him and he swung around sharply, alerted by something he couldn’t name, and saw a blonde woman ostentatiously sneaking up on them, like she was playing a kid’s game.  She had a manic smile on her face and her eyes were fixed on Xander and the monk, disregarding Spike entirely.

Her mistake.

Spike grabbed her arm and spun her around to face him.  “Your handiwork?” he asked, nodding towards the monk.

To his astonishment, the woman yanked her arm free of his grip with effortless ease and backhanded him across the face with stunning force, sending him flying across the room as if he weighed nothing.  There was time only to curl in to protect his head before his back slammed into the concrete wall with such force the cement cracked.  He heard Xander cry out, but he was too dazed and shaken by the impact to respond.  It took a moment for him to recover, pulling his feet under him and pushing himself back up, using the wall as support.  

“Like it?”

The woman stood facing him, hands on her hips, smiling at him with the delight of an evil child.  Even her voice was chipper, smugly pleased with herself.  Ridiculously, she was wearing a red silk dress and matching high heels.  Dressed for a cocktail party, not combat, she didn’t resemble a fighter in any way, but no Slayer he’d ever fought had the strength this woman had put behind that casual blow and Spike knew he was lucky his jawbone was still intact.  He couldn’t sense anything not human about the woman and he was suddenly cautious and very much on guard.  He wondered if she’d used some kind of mojo to boost her strength, or was just something he’d never encountered before.

“Who the fuck are you?” he snarled.

“More to the point, who are you?” she answered.  “I was here first and that’s my monk your human is trying to steal.”

Xander’s head shot up.  He’d been easing the monk to his feet, taking nearly all the injured man’s weight, obviously hoping to sneak him out of there, trusting Spike to deal with the woman.  Like Spike, he’d caught the fact that the woman could tell Spike wasn’t human despite the fact that Spike had been so caught off guard he hadn’t even shed his human features yet - a fact he remedied with a shake of his head.

“I’m Xander, he’s Spike,” Xander offered, sliding a step or two closer to the stairs.  “Ummm, not to be obvious or anything, but your monk needs medical attention.”  He eased another step towards the exit and the woman’s head snapped around to face him.  

“Hands off my holy man.  That’s stealing.”

Spike was moving the second her head turned, crossing the distance between them and launching himself at her.  She swung back to face him an instant too late and Spike crashed into her, driving them both back across the floor in a tumbling heap.

“Hey!  Mind the dress,” she snapped, as Spike released her and rolled away as fast as he could, jumping back to his feet instantly.

“Xander!  Drop him and get the hell out of here!” he yelled.  

He launched a spin-kick at the woman as she was still getting up, acting more concerned with brushing dirt off her dress than with Spike’s attack.  The kick landed, staggering her back a step and he spun and kicked her again, determined to keep her off balance and unable to close with him.  Xander, he was infuriated but not surprised to see, was heading as quickly as he could for the stairs, stubbornly clinging to the mostly-dead monk he’d refused to leave behind.

“You kicked me!”  The woman seemed outraged by the very idea.  “You can’t go around kicking people.”

“Watch me,” he growled and snap-kicked her in the chin to make his point.  Or at least that’s what should have happened.  Instead, moving almost faster than he could see, she grabbed his foot with both hands and stopped his body in mid-motion.

“Fine!  Be that way.”  She thrust him away from her, using his boot and that inhuman strength to toss him head over heels, sending him crashing to the floor.

Prepared for it this time, Spike flipped back to his feet instantly, ignoring the pain the movement cost him.  He snagged a long metal pole off the floor and charged her, swinging the pole viciously in front of him, slamming it into her side with every ounce of his strength.

The blow knocked her off her feet and Spike reversed the swing immediately, bringing the pole around and down in a hum of displaced air to hammer against her body before she could get back to her feet.

Her shrill protests rang in his ears but he ignored them, bringing the metal pole down again.  He just had to keep her off-balance for another minute, giving Xander the time he needed to get out of the building.  

His fourth blow with the pole proved his undoing as she reached up and grabbed it, stopping the blow in mid-air and, as Spike reflexively jerked back, trying to tug it out of her hand, she used the motion to pull herself upright.  

“Ok, this is getting boring and now I have to chase down my monk.  You’ll have to teach your human that it’s rude to take things that don’t belong to him.”  She yanked the pole out of Spike’s hands and as he stumbled for a second, off-balance, she caught him with a punch to his face that sent pain exploding through his jaw as he went sailing backwards across the room in what was becoming an annoyingly familiar feeling.

She was there as he landed, hauling him up and driving a fist into his stomach that doubled him over and felt like it had literally gone right though him.  

“Better yet.  Maybe I’ll teach him to show some respect since you’ve obviously fallen down on the job.”

Fear shot through him and he snarled in fury, surging up in her grip and grappling with her, spinning them both around to crash with stunning force into one of the concrete pillars supporting the roof.  Despite her gasp of pain, she clung to his arms and spun them back around, slamming him into the pillar instead.  

Taking a half step back, she aimed a punch at his head that he ducked at the last second.  She cursed in annoyance as her fist dug into the concrete, pulling it out and throwing another punch immediately.  This time, her fist chipped the corner off the pillar as he ducked again and Spike braced himself, using the pillar to support his weight as he brought both legs up and into her stomach, half kicking-half shoving her away with enough force to stagger her backwards away from him, tearing her grip free of his shirt.

He followed up instantly with another kick to her gut, putting everything he had into it, and she staggered back again as the kick landed.  She recovered almost immediately, blocking his next kick and throwing a punch that caught him in the center of the chest.

“I just want you to know, this is valuable time out of life that I’m never gonna get back,” she told him as, once again, the force of her blow threw him across the room.  She wasn’t even breathing hard and none of his efforts had injured her in the slightest.

Only the thought of what she would do to Xander got him back to his feet before she reached him.  He aimed a vicious kick at her ankle, hoping desperately the joint would be a weak point but she stomped on his leg, pinning it to the floor before the kick landed and a scream burst out of him as her stiletto heel drove straight though his calf.  Pain lanced through him, nova-bright and almost as devastating.  

“Now look what you’ve done.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to get blood out of designer shoes?” she asked petulantly.  She yanked her shoe free of his leg and bent her leg to examine the bloody heel distastefully.

Time to go.  Spike scrambled unsteadily to his feet and ran, pain shooting up his leg with every step.  He knew he’d never make the stairs but the window only a few feet away and, without the slightest hesitation, he dove through the third story window, hearing her angry shout behind him as he abandoned the fight.

Twisting in mid-air, Spike tried to flip himself around so he landed on his feet.  The ground rushed up too fast and he only made it partway around.  Pain sliced through him as he hit, bones snapping under the impact, his head thudding down on the concrete, completely unprotected.  

Everything went black.


Xander didn’t know how he managed to half-drag/half-carry the monk down the stairs without finishing the job the crazy lady upstairs had obviously started.  To make matters worse, the guy insisted on talking to him as they puffed and groaned their way down to the ground floor.

“My journey’s done, I think,” the monk said faintly, gasping as Xander misjudged a step and landed hard, jarring him badly.  They were the first words Xander had heard him speak and it was obvious it cost the man to say even that much.  His breathing was quick and painfully shallow and he turned his head slightly to squint painfully at Xander through bruised and swollen eyelids.

“You’ll be ok, we’ll get you out of here and to a hospital,” Xander told him, trying to adjust his grip, but unable to find anyplace that didn‘t cause the injured man to flinch.

The monk ignored his hollow reassurance.  “I have seen you.  You are close to the key.”

He had a faint accent, not Spanish, maybe Russian or something, and it was obvious English wasn’t his first language.  Xander assumed he’d gotten the word wrong but this wasn’t a good time to talk.  “Sure, whatever.  C’mon guy, focus on getting out of here.”

They descended painfully slowly, step-by-step.  Xander was trying to move as quickly as he could, hearing the sounds of fighting behind him and acutely aware that Spike was buying him the time he needed to get away.  Spike wouldn’t leave until Xander was safe and that made Xander struggle to move as rapidly as possibly, even if it cost the man he was carrying more pain.

“Sorry, but we need to get out of here.”  He threw a quick glance behind them as they reached the landing, hoping to see Spike running down the stairs after them.  

“Must protect.”

He had no idea what the guy was talking about and no time to figure it out.  “Absolutely, protecting is good,” he said distractedly.

“The Slayer must protect.”

Surprised, Xander spared a quick glance at the battered monk, wondering how he knew Buffy.  “You know her?” he couldn’t help asking as they struggled down the last few steps.

“Sent here…” He broke off with a cry of pain as Xander was forced to stop and hoist him higher, then continued as they reached the bottom step and headed in a rapid shuffle towards the door leading outside.  “Was supposed to warn…”

Xander felt a surge of relief as they reached the exterior door and stepped through it into the cool darkness outside.  He turned back for one second, wondering if he should call back up to Spike, but decided against it, hearing the distant sounds of the fight still raging above him.  Spike would be able to tell he was clear and disengage.  Yelling might distract him at a crucial moment.

“She must protect…  The key.”

Pulling the monk with him, Xander set off across the empty lot, wanting to get as far away from the crazy lady as possible.  “I don’t understand,” he told the monk.  

“The key.  Many more die if she doesn’t keep it safe.”

Xander stopped walking, the monk sagging in his grip, and looked around.  They were only about 10 feet from the door but the monk wasn’t even trying to help anymore.  He was too fixated on explaining something that Xander just wasn’t getting.  “The Dagon Sphere?” he asked hesitantly.  “Is that what you mean?  Did you leave it here for Buffy?”  

The monk shook his head fractionally.  “The Key is energy.  A portal.  It opens the door…”  He coughed, and drops of bright red blood spattered the front of his robe.  Alarmed, Xander interrupted his rambling explanation.

“Ok, we’re getting you to a hospital,” he said firmly.  He tried to push forward but the monk’s legs folded under him and he slid to the ground despite Xander’s efforts.  Xander bent over him and the monk clutched his arm in a surprisingly strong grip, his half-closed eyes burning into Xander’s as he struggled to speak.

“We had to hide the key.  Gave it form.  Molded it flesh...  Made it human and sent it to the Slayer.”

Xander shook his head, baffled, not understanding what the man was trying to tell him.

“We knew the Slayer would protect… if the key was family.”

“What?!  Are you saying that Dawn?  Or Joyce?  No, they’re not some energy-thing.”  Xander jerked back in shock but the monk clung to Xander’s arm with a death grip, looking at him with desperate eyes.

“Human now.  And helpless.  Please…”  The monk’s voice was barely audible now.  He coughed again and more blood came up.  He rallied for one last moment, staring blindly at Xander through eyes that were glazing over.  “She is an innocent in this.  Her sister must protect...”

“Dawn?” Xander whispered, horrified and disbelieving, not knowing what to think.  It was impossible to accept, yet equally impossible to doubt this man who had struggled through such agony to impart information he obviously considered worth dying for.

The monk nodded, his grip finally slackening as his eyes closed and his body fell back bonelessly.  The quiet sound of his last, long exhalation was broken by the crash of breaking glass.  Xander ducked, instinctively shielding the monk’s body beneath his own as glass rained down on them from above.  There was a scream of fury from the upstairs window and the thud of a body landing on the ground nearby and Xander started to turn but then flung himself flat again, squeezing his eyes shut and burying his head in his arms as glass shards rained down around them, smashing into fragments on the pavement and landing with stinging force on his back and arms.  

The clamor died away after a moment and everything was deathly quiet in contrast.  Xander moved gingerly, trying to shake the splinters of glass off himself without getting cut any worse than he already had.  He’d barely begun to move when there was an all-too- familiar rumbling.


Swearing, he jerked upright, ignoring the glass around him as he pushed himself to his feet.  He looked around wildly and his heart sank as he saw Spike lying motionless on the ground not far away.  The building rumbled again and he realized it wasn’t an earthquake, the building was collapsing.  

Forgetting everything else, he ran to Spike, who’d landed far enough out from the building that he was clear of most of the glass, and dropped beside him, turning him over with careful hands.  

He wasn’t dust, so he was still alive, Xander told himself feverishly.  But he was bleeding heavily and looked like he’d been used as a punching bag.  His left arm was bent at an impossible angle and blood was already beginning to pool under one of his legs.  

Worriedly, he looked up at the collapsing building and saw to his relief that the exterior walls were holding.  From the sounds and the dust pouring out of the shattered window, parts of the interior were collapsing but it wouldn’t endanger them out here.

He bit his lip and glanced between Spike and the monk.  He was pretty sure the monk was dead, and Spike wasn’t.  In any case, he knew where his priorities were.  Xander reached up to pull his shirt off and winced in surprise at the sharp bite of pain as his fingers closed on the cloth.  Looking down at himself, he cursed violently.  There were tiny fragments of glass all over him.  There was no way he could use anything he was wearing as bandages.

Xander got to his feet and pulled Spike up with him, heaving the vampire over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, regardless of how he jostled his injuries.  He had to get Spike away from here, somewhere safe and get blood in him.  

He staggered a moment, then caught himself and began walking, heading for the car.  Despite the fact they were only a few blocks from the apartment, they’d driven here, intending to drive to the Summers’ house to check on Joyce after investigating the factory where Buffy had found the Dagon Sphere.  

Thanking whatever gods looked after wayward vampires that Spike was smaller than him, Xander let out a breath of half-hysterical laughter.  “Probably nothing.”  That’s what he’d told Spike they’d find when they came here to check this place out.


*A/N - Bits of dialog borrowed from the episode ‘No Place Like Home’


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