Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just having fun.
Warning: Bit more swearing than usual (Spike is cranky)
Previous parts here
He hated driving the DeSoto at night. The blacked out windows made visibility almost non-existent and the small clear spot in the windshield was fine for vampire vision but completely inadequate for humans. Xander was steering mostly by sticking his head out of the rolled down side window and that made for awkward turns and slow progress when he wanted nothing more than to grind the accelerator into the floorboards in his need to get Spike to the mansion as quickly as possible.
Even as he’d settled Spike’s unconscious body into the back seat, he’d already ruled out returning to the apartment, despite it being only a few blocks away. It was too risky. If even one minion saw him carrying Spike up the outside stairs, word would be all over the court in minutes that Spike was injured and helpless.
No, Angel’s mansion, their emergency bolt-hole, was the best option. There was blood in the freezer, kept there just for emergencies like this and vampires simply didn’t hang out in the neighborhood. Between the lack of tunnel access, the good street lighting, and the lack of any bars or cemeteries, there was nothing the area had to offer vampires.
He’d made himself take a few extra seconds to run back and check on the monk. As he’d thought, the man was dead and Xander had simply abandoned the body where it lay, not willing to take the time to deal with it and really not wanting to call the police. Buffy had said something about a security guard, they’d have to deal with it.
A crashing sound from the building made him whirl around, heart pounding in his chest, but there was no sign of the woman. Just more pieces of the of the building falling, he told himself, but he wasn’t going to stick around to check.
Starting the DeSoto’s engine and pulling out for the drive to the mansion, Xander had forced himself to focus only on getting Spike to shelter. He shoved the monk’s crazy talk about Dawn to the back of his mind to think about later. He simply didn’t have the ability to deal with it right now - he had enough problems worrying about how he was going to get an unconscious vampire to drink blood.
Pain woke Spike. It was pulsing throughout his entire body, exacerbated by the fact that someone was shaking him and yelling at him. He growled but it was a weak, half-hearted effort and just caused the yeller to redouble their efforts.
Reluctantly opening his eyes, Spike found himself staring into Xander’s familiar brown eyes, dark with worry as they looked back at him.
The minute Xander saw he was awake, he let off his insistent shaking and pressed a mug to his lips. Spike swallowed greedily, drinking steadily until the mug was empty, and waited impatiently as Xander immediately tore open another bag of blood and re-filled it.
The familiar ding of a microwave sounded in the distance and he knew that Xander had more blood heating. The blood had the flat sterility that came from being frozen and reheated, but the warmth was spreading through his body already, filling his veins and quieting the throbbing pain to bearable levels.
After he’d finished the third mug, Xander left him briefly, crossing the room and taking more bags out of the microwave. He carried them back to where Spike lay on the floor and knelt beside him again.
Already feeling a little stronger, Spike glanced around and saw they were in the mansion.
Trust Xander to use his head even in a crisis. He opened his mouth to speak and Xander just gave him a stern look, pushing the mug at him again.
“No, don’t try and hold it, your arm’s broken,” Xander told him sharply.
Spike nodded and drank the blood thirstily. Xander watched him carefully as he finished the mug and took his time pouring the next one.
“Spike, do we need to - I don’t know - set your arm or something before you get too much blood in you? It’s not going to heal wrong is it?”
Good question. He glanced down at his left arm and then closed his eyes, feeling what his body was telling him about the injury. He suspected that Xander had already straightened the bones after they’d broken, but they weren’t quite back in the right place. The break would still heal but the healing would go faster if the bones were properly aligned.
“Could use a little tweak, at that,” he said, opening his eyes and looking at Xander. “You up for it, luv?”
Xander nodded grimly. “What do I do?”
Following Spike’s instructions, Xander pulled and tugged the bones back into position, looking white-faced and ill, but not faltering for even a second as he did what was necessary. Spike gritted his teeth against the pain, grateful beyond words that Xander was someone he could rely on like this. Xander not only would do anything for Spike, he would get it right. He understood about both Spike’s resilience and the ways his position as Master of the Territory made him vulnerable. Which meant that Xander knew enough not to take him anywhere near the Court when Spike was wounded and was ruthless enough to shake and slap his wounded lover for the length of time it took to bring a vampire out of a healing coma to get blood inside him.
After drinking two more mugs, Spike lay back and assessed the damage. Broken arm and ribs - thankfully the ribs weren’t displaced. Fucking great hole in his calf from the bitch’s shoe, and cuts and bruises all over, particularly his face. The blood he’d drunk was already working to heal the injuries but they were more serious than the usual run of minor bruises that healed within a few hours. Be at least a day and maybe two before he would heal enough to let the Court see him, he thought in irritation.
Sleep was stealing over him and he fought it long enough to give Xander a run-down on the damage, seeing his boy’s relief at his estimate that he would be up and around within a day. Xander assured him he wasn’t injured and Spike’s check verified that. Except for minor cuts from broken glass, bits of which still sparkled in his hair and on his shirt, Xander appeared fine and he moved back and forth from floor to counter without difficulty.
Reassured, he let the healing sleep take him, knowing Xander would keep him safe while sleep and blood worked their magic on his battered body.
“Giles, is there any chance there’s more than one Slayer?” Xander asked as soon as Giles picked up the phone.
He knew Giles was waiting for a report from them and must already have been wondering why he hadn’t called earlier. Spike was in full healing-sleep and wouldn’t wake for anything less than physical violence, so Xander called Giles at home as soon as he’d gotten Spike settled in the basement bedroom. Well, right after he’d stripped and showered the last of the glass fragments off of himself anyway.
“What? Of course not. A new Slayer is never called until the old Slayer dies and I can assure you that Buffy is fine.”
“Nothing ever goes wrong with the ‘one girl in all the world’ thing?”
“Xander, what’s going on?”
“Someone who looks like a normal human girl just beat the crap out of Spike.”
“Is he alright?” Xander was grateful for the genuine concern in Giles’ voice.
“He’ll live but he’s badly hurt.” He looked down at Spike’s battered frame on the bed beside him. The blood he’d drunk was already doing its work but it would be days before he was completely healed.
“And it was someone who looked human?”
“Completely. Picture a psychotic combination of Buffy and… and Cordelia Chase.” Maybe it was just the clothes, but something about the woman had reminded him of Queen C.
He could almost see Giles’ eyebrows rise in the short pause that followed that description. “Could Spike sense anything demonic about this person?”
“I don’t know, we didn’t have much of a chance to talk about what happened. I can ask him when he wakes up.”
“Where are you? Do you need help?”
“Thanks, Giles. It’s covered. We’re at the mansion. I got a bunch of blood in him and he’s doing his vampire healing-sleep thing.”
“Xander, you didn’t…”
“Relax. We keep an emergency blood supply in the freezer here. I may need you to make a supply run tomorrow for me, but I hope not.”
“Anything you need, just call.” Giles cleared his throat. “Xander, I’m sorry to ask, but what happened to the woman?”
“Not really sure. The building collapsed just after Spike got out and I don’t know if she got out or not. She didn’t follow us, that much I know.”
“Maybe she was killed in the collapse.”
“I hope so,” Xander said grimly.
“I’m so sorry. I had no idea it would be so dangerous. Did… did you find anything about the Dagon Sphere?”
“Not really,” Xander said, mostly truthfully. “She didn’t exactly look like an ancient anything, Giles. Just a 25year old bimbo with Slayer-level strength.”
“I’ll see if I can find out anything,” Giles said dubiously, “but I can assure you that it cannot be another Slayer. That’s simply not possible.”
“I’m pretty sure she’s stronger than a Slayer, to be honest. Buffy’s gotten a lot stronger in the last year, but she and Spike are still pretty evenly matched. I don’t think she could do this kind of damage to him in a straight out fight. That woman threw him nearly 50 feet across a room without batting an eye, Giles. I don’t think Buffy could do that.”
Giles didn’t answer right away and his voice was grim when he did speak. “I’m inclined to agree. We’ll just have to hope she died when the building collapsed.”
Xander hung up not long after that, Giles promising to see if he could find any reference to a superstrong woman, but it was obvious he didn’t expect to find anything. Actually, Xander would be astonished if he did, there simply wasn’t enough to go on. But Giles’ answer to everything was to research and he had made some pretty extraordinary deductions from very little information in the past. He felt guilty for not telling Giles about the monk and what he’d said about Dawn and the key, but he wasn’t sure what he was going to do about that yet and he desperately needed to think about it first.
In the quiet hours that followed, he sat next to Spike, one hand idly stroking Spike’s hair as he stared blindly into the darkness, lost in his whirling thoughts about what the monk had told him.
He turned the snippets of information over and over in his head, trying to understand them, looking for anything to would shed light on their meaning. The monk had called Dawn a ‘key’. The Key. The Key had been energy and the monk and his friends had turned it into a person - Dawn.
How was that possible?
This was Dawn. He’d known her for - what? Three years now? His memories of the young girl who complained about her big sister, who talked to him while he was working on the Summers’ house, sharing her feeling about school and her friends, who’d forced him to read the Harry Potter books to her, who giggled in Spike’s face when he tried to scare her, and listened avidly to Spike’s bloodthirsty stories of his past, couldn’t be fake. Maybe the monk, or his friends, had created Dawn years ago, and his memories had actually happened.
He hated people messing with his mind like this. Bad enough when Willow had tampered with his memories, but these guys had apparently done it on a town-wide scale. With a sigh, he forced himself to set that part of it aside, recognizing he was touchy on the subject and the right or wrong of what the monks had done really wasn’t the issue right now.
The monk had said that the Key had to be protected, that a lot of people would die if it wasn’t. Protected from what?
That was a no brainer. Protected from the crazy woman with Slayer strength and a yen for torture. If the monk was charged with hiding and protecting the Key, it was obvious the woman must have been trying to torture the information out of him.
Which brought him right back to the fact that the guy had to have been telling the truth about Dawn. You didn’t hold up under that kind of abuse unless the consequences of talking were serious. Unless what you were hiding was wroth dying for.
Which meant that Dawn - wasn’t Dawn.
She wasn’t the bright, funny, annoying kid sister to the Slayer he’d thought he knew, but something Hellmouthy and unnatural.
The monk had said she was human now. And innocent. She didn’t know she was anything but Dawn Summers, 8th grader and younger daughter of Joyce, Buffy’s kid sister.
Oh, god. This would kill Buffy and Joyce. They’d never believe him. And how was he supposed to tell them anyway? ‘Oh, by the way, your sister isn’t real’ ‘Guess what, Joyce? Dawn isn’t really your daughter’.
How could he do that to any of them? But did they have a right to know?
That was a conversation he couldn’t even imagine. It would destroy Dawn, if she even believed him. And why would she believe him? The whole idea she wasn’t a real person was insane.
At some point during the long hours of the night, he thought about asking Mr. Olsen what to do. He’d never gone wrong listening to the old man’s advice. Mr. Olsen knew about hiding a demon side and how hard it was to ‘come out’ to people who didn’t know. But he’d reluctantly abandoned the idea. This was different from learning you had demon ancestors in your family. This was learning you weren’t a real person, that every memory you had was false, that you been made up by a group of strangers. It wasn’t the same, and he couldn’t expose her like that. Couldn’t risk Mr. Olsen’s life, if the woman intended to torture her way through town looking for her hidden Key.
The monk had said he was sent here. That he was supposed to warn someone. Warn Buffy? Tell her what had been done to her life and her memories? What had been put inside her house? Or just that someone was hunting her kid sister? And what excuse did he have for why someone would be hunting Dawn? Xander wished there’d been more time, that the monk had been able to tell him more.
He was no closer to knowing what to do than he’d been hours earlier. He couldn’t tell anyone and he couldn’t NOT tell anyone.
Giles and Tara were researching the Dagon Sphere. Giles was going to try and figure out who the woman was. How could he withhold information that might be critical? Would Buffy accept that Dawn was in danger if couldn’t point to a reason for that danger? What if Dawn got hurt because Buffy didn’t know she had to protect more than she always had?
Dawn wasn’t just in the same danger that everyone in Sunnydale was, she had a specific enemy. Someone looking for her and willing to torture people to find her.
He didn’t know what to do and he couldn’t help wishing that the monk had shared this information with someone, anyone else. Someone who would how to handle this.
Spike’s first thought was that Xander looked like he hadn’t slept at all. He smiled at Spike as he opened his eyes, but he looked exhausted and troubled, and his eyes didn’t quite meet Spike’s as he asked how he was feeling.
He vaguely remembered being woken up once already, sometime in the middle of the night, to feed. This time, it was well after sunrise - mid-morning by the feel of it - which meant he’d had over 12 hours of healing sleep and the pain was nearly gone.
Xander had woken him again and had heated several bags of blood. Spike drank automatically, his focus internal as he tested his injuries to see how they were progressing.
Mostly he was pleased. His ribs and arm were healing nicely, the bruises on his face were improving, although slower than he was used to. To his relief, the swelling around his eyes had gone down and he could see clearly. The least healed of his injuries was his leg, where the bitch had driven her 3-inch heel straight through the muscle of his calf. Holes always took longer because his body had to replace lost tissue with new. Broken bones were much easier.
He drank four bags of blood, then stopped Xander from getting any more. His body felt almost saturated with the warmth and healing power of human blood and his improved condition was due largely to how much he’d already drunk. The worst was over and he could focus on Xander.
Something was wrong. Xander smelled of anxious, way beyond what he should - it wasn’t like they hadn’t been through this before. Spike caught his hand, tugging it towards himself as Xander made a move to pick up the litter of empty bags and dirty ceramic mug.
“Xander, what’s wrong?”
Xander gave him a quick, bright smile that came nowhere near his eyes. “Just worried about you, Spike,” he said. “And kind of tired.”
“Sat up with me all night, did you.” It wasn’t really a question, he could tell that Xander hadn’t slept at all. “I’ll be fine by tomorrow, luv. Nothin’ to worry about.”
“I know. It’s just…”
“Just what?” he prompted when Xander didn’t finish.
Spike frowned. Xander was avoiding his eyes, looking down at their joined hands and fiddling with Spike’s fingers.
“Spike, do you have any idea of who that was?”
Reluctantly, he went along with the change in subject. For now. “Dunno, luv. Smelled human.”
Xander lifted his head. “But she can’t be - right? I mean, no human could do this to you.”
“Damn right they couldn’t,” Spike agreed. “‘Less they had something giving them ten times their usual strength.” He scowled, considering that. “Didn’t get a sense they were using mojo, but I supposed it’s possible. I just know if she was a demon, she’s hiding it well.”
“Could she be a Slayer?”
“Somethin’ happen to the one we already got?” Spike raised his eyebrow, wondering where that idea had come from.
Xander sighed. “That’s pretty much what Giles said - she can’t be a Slayer because Buffy is fine.”
“I’d know anyway. Can sense a Slayer. That woman didn’t have the tingle.” Damnit, he was tired already. Healing always took a lot of energy out of him. And getting Xander to talk when he wasn’t ready took a lot of effort. Finding out what was bothering him would have to wait for now.
Probably nothing serious, he told himself. Xander was always fretting about things that didn’t matter. Worrying about not saving the monk, or some such, probably, even though the man had been dead meat before they even got there. “You done good, luv,” he said, squeezing Xander’s hand reassuringly, then let himself drop back into sleep once more. He’d find out what was troubling his boy when he woke.