rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,
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Ghost in the Machine #17

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




With thanks to the lovely petxnd for the wonderful banner



Part 17

The following two weeks saw Xander working not just during the day, but also late into every night in an effort to accurately represent Spike a second time.

For Spike it was an odd experience to watch as his ‘twin’ began to emerge in full glory.

The Winter Solstice had come and gone, as had the ‘Season Celebrations’. Willow’s contact was intermittent but encouraging and while he was still working on the ‘twin’ Xander continued the habit of placing Spike in his bed of an evening, though more often than not, fell into an exhausted sleep before making mental contact, merely flinging his arm over the bed warmed wood and saying good night.

Spike didn’t mind. The warmth of the human next to his form and the soft bed and covers were enough and he could wait.

Toward the end of May, Spike’s twin was completed and had been moved back into the coven big house. Only Matti, the Mistress and Xander knew the existence of the twin, but as he had pointed out to Willow, with Sarah still sniffing around it would be difficult if the statue just suddenly ‘disappeared’.

After Adonis Mk II was in situ, the daily pattern did not include Spike being moved at all as his own leaning post was needed to complete the sculpture. Instead the morning routine involved Spike’s form being kissed, the curtains opened and he left to contemplate the world from a prone position with warm soft covers in place.

He particularly liked it when it rained on the old tin roof, and when few birds turned into many as spring arrived, singing in the trees close to Xander’s bedroom window.

As expected, Sarah had been a regular visitor to the coven for the last few months, though had left Xander in peace with only one visit to the workshop to collect some tardy wiccans who were too busy watching Matti at work to note the time. The Mistress had listened to Xander’s concerns regards the Wolfram and Hart connection to the Watchers’ Council but counseled that it was best to ‘keep one’s enemies closer’. Xander (and Spike) were both grateful that the Mistress appreciated the gravity of any risk to their Summer Solstice plans. And apart from anything else, they still had to figure a way to transport a six foot plus wooden sculpture to the Arctic circle in the middle of one of the region’s great party periods.

Finances were on the up and up, and if Spike ever *did* become real, then his wealth was substantial thanks to Illyria’s tips and Xander’s vigilance, Xander also benefitting from the online ‘head’s up’ on occasion. And it was his personal transactions that seemed to trigger Wolfram and Hart’s direct interest.

Xander had ceased contact with Giles shortly after his initial visit, but for the occasional email reply to report he was ‘fine’, and in the end it was Adrianna who signaled the law company’s real intentions when she arrived (with entourage of photographers and reporters) at the coven.

It was only three days until they boxed up Spike and took ferry, train and four wheel drive up to Lappi and Finland’s Ivalo coven for celebrations.

The Mistress was the first into the workshop, closely followed by Adrianna, photographer Renaldo, art critic Stefan, a London art dealer Xander had met once before Brigitte, Sarah (of course)… and finally a tall, leggy, immaculately dressed, brunette woman.

Xander cut the power to all tools and pulled off his safety goggles ready to greet the visitors.

“Can I help you? Bit early for a delegation isn’t it?”

The Mistress spoke first, taking care to stare directly at Xander’s good eye and trying to convey that he (and Spike) had her full support.

“Xander, this is Lilah Morgan, a former colleague of Sarah’s. She’s come to our little coven particularly to look over your work.”

Xander stepped forward and offered the woman his hand, “Pleased to meet you, though I’m not sure that you’ll see much more here than in Adrianna’s gallery… She gets all the best of my best.” Xander received a cursory hand shake and felt just a little shiver. There was something about this Lilah’s demeanor that indicated that she would rather be anywhere else but standing in a workshop in her Valentino Garavini stiletto pumps.

Adrianna grinned broadly at Xander’s compliment then took over the conversation. “Wolfram and Hart are a very important client of my dear friend Brigette here and she was just dying to see your new works in progress, it is so wonderful to see the artist in his ‘natural habitat’ and of course your Adonis caused quite a stir up in London, I simply couldn’t say no when she said Lilah was heading our way and interested in seeing the piece in person.”

As the others took a little time to look around the workshop, guided by Matti as to what each piece was to be or the stage of completion, Adrianna took Xander aside. “I’ve already told Brigette the piece is not for sale but she insisted that it could be loaned to her for the opening of their new gallery – right next to Harrods no less! She is happy to do the transport and insurance, and I’m sure there will be a fee for the loan. It’s a wonderful opportunity – and she’s prepared to take as many of the other pieces as you like on consignment.”

Adrianna could see that Xander was not quite convinced “Please think about it Xander and do talk to the Mistress, I’m sure the injection of funds, not to mention the tremendous publicity will be worth it.”

The group adjourned to the big house shortly after and led to the library where the statue stood in the bay window, just as Spike had for the photos months before. Xander was hoping the ‘twin’ was adequate, and prayed to whichever deity it was that looked after ex-vampires that they would still be able to get Spike out of the country and safely restored in the next few weeks.

Tea and cakes were served to the guests while photographer Renaldo busied himself taking a few ‘art’ shots, detailed studies of parts of the figure and Xander very pleased to know that it was not to be Spike’s private parts front and centre in a gallery catalogue any time soon.

Lilah seemed a little off hand as she waved away the proffered home made fruit cake and continued to stare at the statue.

“It is an extraordinary likeness Mr Harris… Xander. I believe from Sarah, that you had quite a connection to William the Bloody, I wonder that you still do, given the accuracy of your depiction here.”

Xander moved uncomfortably in his seat. He knew for a fact that he had said nothing of any ‘William the Bloody’ to Sarah, but decided that truth with omission was the best strategy. “I was friends with him I guess you could say, you know in Sunnydale.”

“Ah yes Sunnydale, tragic losses, not our finest of projects.”

“Our?”

Lilah smiled knowingly then corrected herself, “Did I say our? I did mean your… the original Slayer and Council… had quite a struggle toward the end. Sad really. Still all’s well that ends well and here we are. You seem to have used your time and compensation monies rather well since then. Do you mind if I…?” Lilah stood and moved to what Xander considered too close to the statue, apparently looking for something in particular.

“Strange that there is no scar when all the rest is…”

Xander tried to look innocent, “Scar?” He had forgotten… the original, now lying in his bed, did indeed have the trademark scar through the left eyebrow, Xander wanting to keep the likeness as exact as possible. The twin had two complete eyebrows.

“Hmmm… it must just have been a trick of the light but I was sure I saw one in the magazine representation. No matter.” Lilah shot a quizzical look to Sarah who shrugged slightly, she couldn’t be sure it had been there.

“Brigette I think it’s perfect for our… your needs and am sure that Wolfram and Hart can underwrite the opening exhibition provided of course this is front and centre and the Mistress and Mr Harris agree. After all it will simply be on loan, and once in London, I’m sure our own experts can do the insurance assessment and take all the appropriate steps to ensure its safety for the few months needed – it would be dreadful if something were to happen to it due to improper care.”

Xander frowned. “It seems you are going to an awful lot of trouble for just this piece… um…” He looked desperately at the Mistress who simply shrugged. The Solstice trip would go ahead as planned and whether the twin was at the coven or in London really mattered little as long as Spike was safe.

“Give me a night to think on it… I um…”

Lilah smiled broadly, “I’ll send around all the relevant paper work in the morning – I’m sure you will see it our way… After all everyone needs a little recognition and I’m sure you will benefit from our patronage beyond this simple piece. You will of course be invited to the opening to rub shoulders with the cream of the art world – Wolfram and Hart have *many* powerful contacts as I’m sure you realize.”

With that Lilah picked up her small purse and moved to the door obviously ready to leave. Air kisses all around and five minutes later the group was gone.

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