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Ghost in the Machine #18

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


And a huge thank you to all those who so kindly commented and read this story
Part 18


That night Xander spent time online attempting to contact Willow and was just about to give up when his computer pinged a strange message. “Sunspot cycle peaking. Get to destination ASAP. Tell witches. Three days max. I’ll deal with security. I”

Within seconds another message came, this time from Willow, “On Skype + encrypt with Mistress – in 5.”

Xander made his way directly up to the big house where the Mistress was already waiting for him in the study. “Xander…The messages came to me too.” Within seconds Willow was online to them.

“If Illyria’s right we have to move before the Solstice. I’ll move my flight to Helsinki but it’s still going to be tight. If I meet you in Rovaniemi Airport we can make it to Iolu in a day after that. Can you guys fly with you know who?”

Xander answered, “It’ll take some careful packing and a receipt of purchase from the coven there I guess – you know for customs but yes. We’ll do what it takes. But there’s another bit of a hitch at this end, still let us worry about that. Text time and date and we’ll be there. And Wills… cryptic is fine.”

“OK… and Xan… Mistress… You guys take care yeah?”

“Ditto Bye.”

The Mistress was looking decidedly worried as the line was broken. “We have a lot to organize Xander… Not least of which is the Wolfram and Hart desire to have the twin statue. Xander I think you should rest tonight. I will book tickets for you, Matti and myself for late tomorrow night.

“I will call Adrianna at home now and suggest to her that you and I will sign all the documentation for the loan of the statue in the morning, and that she be personally in charge of its transfer to London, whenever that is to occur, and regardless of our presence or absence for the shift. I’m sure she will be pleased to have the pivotal role despite having to leave her own shop. I will perhaps suggest she might use one of your students to ‘fill in’. I will inform her that we are going on retreat in anticipation of Summer solstice – the where should be irrelevant. I am a little worried that you will be required at the opening, but it was my impression that it was still a month or two off.

“I will then call Mistress Mikkaela head of our coven friends in Finland. They may be able to expedite our travel plans on the ground, and we will certainly need their boost if this is to work.

“I think you should make a list of the other pieces you wish to show – even if they are not quite ready, we will need to give that to Adrianna also. And of course speak to Spike. This change of plans is sudden. I cannot anticipate there will be any arguments against, but he will need to be boxed up for some time and must be prepared. Do we have the materials appropriate for that exercise?”

Xander was still in some sort of state of shock, everything was going so fast after so many months of waiting. “I… I um…Yeah sure… And… I’ll just need to know for sure that we can keep the sculpture in tact. It might take some extra things like a transport box, padding, that sort of thing. I guess we just have to do it. I… Is this all going to work out?”

Mistress laid a kind hand on the worried man’s shoulders, “Trust in our lady Gaia Xander. Things don’t always happen when we want them, but they do happen on time.”

Xander gave a tight smile and took his leave.

Returning to his home, Xander sat heavily on the couch and stared in silence at the empty space that had so recently and for so many months been the spot that Spike then his twin had stood during the day.

He had to find his passport, make a list of works, try to work out what he needed for the boxing of Spike for the trip, write an email to the community college to the effect that urgent family matters were taking him away from his weekly classes for at least a fortnight (and follow it with a phonecall in the morning), check his and Spike’s investments in anticipation for being away for however long this all took… oh and pack! And now all he felt was ridiculously tired as other questions flooded in. What if flights couldn’t be booked? What if they didn’t hook up with Willow? What if they were too late for the energy surge? What if Spike was lost or damaged in transit? What was Wolfram and Hart’s agenda? What happened after, if they *were* successful? And what did that even mean?

Finally after what seemed an eternity he pushed from the couch, grabbed his coat and walked the short distance to the workshop, pen and paper in hand.

The three inlaid tables were ready, the ornate tallboy was within a lick of lacquer complete, three intricate and rather beautiful statues of ‘sea maidens’ (based on Dawn’s pretty features) were complete and definitely should be included, and one ‘coral with mystery swimmer’ piece would also make his list. But the rest were just too far from ready if the exhibition was to open before he got back.

He looked around for what he thought might serve as lightweight but strong planks of wood then fixed on the idea of purchasing the wood for a simple but effective coffin like structure, the wood for which would need to be purchased the following day. He drew up a rough plan and estimated he and Matti could ‘knock it up’ in an hour or so. Added to his list was a large roll of wide bubble wrap for around Spike’s form, three packing straps to fix him in place with straps and packing foam to be used to fill any gaps.

Notes taken, he picked up a soft cloth, wiped carefully over the tallboy removing all the dust, repeated the exercise with each (for now) of its separate drawers, levered open the lacquer tin, picked up a soft brush and began to meticulously apply the final coat. The act was one of quiet for his too full head.

Finally satisfied with his work, Xander packed up all items, leaving the paint to dry, switching off the fluorescent work lamps and returned home, lists in hand.

He had to talk to Spike, but before he adjourned to bed, conducted a quick review of their finances, reassuring him that money was available for emergencies should they need it.

Finally he stripped off and lay beside the inert figure of Spike, the bed and wood cool from more than fifteen hours since he had warmed the space. He tried to relax, using every technique he could think of to push his mind and body into a state where he could make contact. On the third ‘body scan’ and bout of slow breathing he felt the slip and stepped out onto what he had come to accept as ‘their beach’.

He walked across the warm sand and gentled himself down to lie beside the imagined version of Spike who rolled toward him and smiled sadly. “Trouble at mill?”

“You have no idea…” He reached over and spread his hand over Spike’s torso, feeling the connection and calming himself before answering properly.

“Then start from the beginnin’ pet…”

Xander went on to explain all the events of the day, nearly losing the connection as his jaw tightened remembering the visitors and the message from Illyria, but managed to take a few breaths before divulging the plans for the next two to three days. Several times during his diatribe, he could swear he heard Spike growl, something that the soon to be (hopefully) vampire had not done before in their current state.

There was a long pause after Xander finished, so much so that the intrepid ex-Scoobie rolled over with a very worried look on his face, “I… I’m so sorry Spike… It all just happened so…”

“Don’t fret Luv, ‘m used to rollin’ with the punches. Just tryin’ to figure the bit ‘bout bloody Wolfram and Hart is all. So far as I know Blue ‘n I just disappeared off their dial. All I c’n think is that they’re gonna try for the ‘reincarnate the evil Spike’ somehow. Here’s a hopin’ me twin bites ‘em well an’ proper if they’re successful.”

“But that makes no sense Spike! And what if they do it first… or better and you get stuck… or… I don’t know?”

Spike could sense his dear friend in meltdown mode so decided to give a reassuring pet before adding, “’S OK Luv. We’ll just have to trust in Santa land an’ a decent energy burst from the sun… An’ though I’m still not sure what her ladyship Illyria has in mind, but reckon I’d rather take the chance yeah?! Any way you c’n delay the shifting of Spike II?”

“I guess we could… I…”

“Look Pet, just make the moving instructions for all your works so bloody specific it will take ‘em more ‘n a week to deliver to London. By that time we should be all done, yeah?”

“I suppose that would work… but…”

“If all goes to pot ‘n I’m here forever it’s a future I’ll live with so long as you keep visitin’ nightly. Now how’s about you get some proper shut eye, sounds like tomorrow is gonna be a big day.” Spike rolled into a grateful kiss in their private realm before it all evaporated and he was back in position with a warm arm hugging his torso under a pile of familiar comfortable covers.
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