Disclaimer: The boys don't belong to me... and they never will. Saddly.
Summary: Xander is changing and no one knows why. Separating himself from the Scoobies and trying to find out who he really is he finds something that he never would have expected...
Note: I want to say a big, a really big thank you to whichclothes who helped me as my muse and my beta! And thanks to warpedminded for creating the banner!
Note 2: I had to split this chapter up, so you had to read two parts.^^
Previous chapters here!
They watched each other closely.
Xander and Spike on one side, the crew of Angel Investigations on the other side.
Angel’s usual mask of indifference was shattered but the ever-present frown on his face hadn’t disappeared. Wesley sat next to the tall vampire a look of shock and surprise on his face. Behind them, a crossbow in his hand, stood Gunn. He was slowly inching forward never lowering the weapon. The only one who had regained her normal behaviour was Cordelia who sat behind her desk and now looked like she couldn’t decide whether to yell at them for just charging in or to go over and yell at them for making her drop her nail polish.
“Wesley, it’s nice to see you again. I hope you are well?” The smile on Xander’s face was honest and open. He liked the former Watcher and therefore Wesley was safe from the biting sarcasm Xander used to get to Angel.
“Harris!” growled the older vampire.
“And Cordy, you look as lovely as ever,” the patented Xander-grin spread over his face when he looked at his ex-girlfriend. Next to him Spike tried not to laugh at the flabbergasted faces.
“Tell me, does Angel still not pay you properly?” The boyish grin disappeared when Xander turned to the last member of the group.
“Harris!!” Angel repeated but still was ignored.
“Gunn, please, put that crossbow away. We’re not here to cause trouble,” the serious tone of his voice seemed to relax the darker man and he placed the weapon on the table next to him.
‘Out of the immediate range but still within easy reach,’ Xander thought and nodded slightly.
“Hello to you, too, Deadboy. Oh please, the pleasure is truly on my side. Yeah, I’m fine and I guess that you are, too, considering you hair is still on your head. No, we don’t need your help with a demon. Spike and I decided to pay you a visit out of pure fun.” Xander said with a fake smile while he placed his hand in the small of Spike’s back to keep the blond vampire form turning around and hurrying back out. His voice dripped with sarcasm; still he had to fight the urge to laugh at the annoyed expression on his face.
“What do you want then if not our help?” growled Angel even though his whole posture relaxed somewhat.
“What is it, Peaches? Am I not allowed to visit my Sire anymore?” Spike asked and smirked at the dark haired vampire. Those were the first words he had spoken since they passed the border of the town.
“You never just visit!” Angel spat and Xander could feel Spike flinching away from his Sire. A soft growl rose in his chest and he felt the already familiar tingling at the edge of his mind. The tension in his body grew gradually and he prepared himself for fighting off his temper.
“What the HELL is going on here!” Cordy’s voice boomed through the lobby of the hotel and startled the three men who were staring at each other. Angel backed away but he still kept his eyes on Spike.
Xander’s eyes remained on the older vampire but he lost his rigid stance.
“Sorry, Cordy,” he said with a light voice.
“You see, Spike and I needed to get away from Buffy and the Hellmouth. So we decided to pay you all a visit and maybe enjoy the town while we’re here.” Xander moved his hand on Spike’s back a little so that it rested against the hip of the blond vampire keeping him closer to his body. That way he could feel the slight tremble racing through his friend and how he leaned against him in an inconspicuous manner.
“And since Deadboy here owns a hotel we decided to save the money and sleep here.” Xander grinned at his ex-girlfriend.
“No, Harris, you wo-...” Angel started to speak but Cordy interrupted him harshly.
“Sure, you can sleep here! God knows we have the space and more rooms than we use anyway. We’ll just have to see which ones are actually in any shape to be given away for a longer use, right, Angel?” Xander had to force his laughter down since the expression of the older vampire got sourer by the second.
“Cordy, they can...” the head of Angel Investigations started only to be interrupted again.
“They can? Fine! I will show them to their rooms and then I’ll go home. I need my beauty sleep!” She turned around and smiled at Xander and Spike.
“Cordy, no...!” Angel tried again.
“Listen, Angel!” Cordelia hissed angrily.
“If we have the space and empty rooms why can’t we let them stay here? Xander is still my friend even though we aren’t together anymore and yes, I know that you don’t like Spike that much but he is your Childe and therefore you are responsible for him, isn’t that right?”
Xander had to smirk at the scene in front of him. Cordelia, who was a few inches shorter than Angel, stood in front of the tall vampire and backed him into a corner of the room with her fingernail.
“Hey Cordy, be careful with those nails, would you? No need to stake the git!” Spike laughed.
Angel growled but finally caved.
“Fine,” he said.
“But don’t think that I will pay for his blood!”
Xander snorted and started to turn around to go back out and grab the luggage.
“Don’t worry, Deadboy, it’s all taken care of. The only thing I might need is an address where I can buy some human blood and I guess those aren’t that hard to find.” Without a backwards glance he left the building again and moved to the car. Spike followed him chuckling quietly.
“That was a bloody great show your little girlfriend did in there!” he laughed while Xander opened the car.
“She’s not my girlfriend anymore, Spike. We’re just friends,” Xander said before he reached into the trunk and grabbed the first suitcase. When he looked up again there was a wide grin on his face.
“But you are right! It was a really great show! Cordelia knows how to keep your Sire in line. At least it looks like it and from the lack of interference from both Wesley and Gunn, I think she has them under her thumb as well!”
“Sure looks like it!” replied the blond vampire and took his bag. It was a small one. Xander gazed at the bag with a thoughtful expression on his face.
‘Spike should really own more clothes,’ he thought and wondered how long the shops in LA stayed open.
“Spike, what do you think of shopping?” he asked after closing the trunk and locking the car again. His friend looked at him as if he had grown a second head.
“Don’t know. As long as I don’t have to play some kind of mannequin and try on every little piece you folks call ‘clothing’ these days,” answered the blond after a moment of thought. Xander nodded deep in thought. Then he grabbed his own bag and headed back inside. Spike hurried to keep up with him.
“Hey,” he hollered, causing the mortal to stop.
“Why did you ask?” inquired the vampire but Xander didn’t answer.
When they were inside the hotel again Cordy was waiting for them but there was no sign of Angel.
“Guess he didn’t want to face the mighty Cordelia again,” Spike smirked when they were near her. Cordy looked at both man and an equally amused smile appeared on her lips.
“Well, Angel knows with whom he can start a fight and who he better leave alone,” she said smugly. Xander laughed and placed his arm around her shoulders.
‘She still is a bitch. Granted, a more mature one but still one hell of a bitch,’ he thought when they climbed up the stairs to one of the higher floors.
‘And I’m still glad that she likes me enough to help me with Angel!’
All three of them joked and talked while walking through the halls and passing many doors until they came to a halt in front of two larger ones.
“Well,” Cordy started and turned to look at them.
“While you were outside Angel escaped into his office. He asked me to tell you, Spike, to meet him in his office, though. He said something about talking to you alone and trying to figure out why you are here and stuff like that.”
Spike groaned quietly while Xander rolled his eyes. He shook his head and looked at the vampire.
“But first we’ll get settled. The git wasn’t the one who drove from Sunnyhell to LA,” the blond grumbled without looking at his friend. Xander grinned slightly. Even though he was the one who did the driving he knew that Spike still hadn’t recovered from his nightmare and was now stalling the meeting with his Sire who would surely tell him he didn’t care about him. Something that made Xander’s skin itch and the tingle in his head return. He dropped his arm from around Cordelia’s shoulders and placed his hand in the small of Spike’s back rubbing slightly. The tenseness in the vampire’s muscles relaxed a little but still he was wound tighter than a bedspring. His friend looked at him and gave him a tired little smile. The blue eyes were dull; loaded with worry and a bit of fear. He really had to rein in his temper this time but he knew if he ever heard Angel say something hurting to Spike he would pretty much rip the brooding head off the broad shoulders.
“Xander? Spike?” Cordelia’s worried voice brought Xander back to reality and apparently Spike, too. The blond vampire smiled sheepishly at her and ducked his head. His cheeks were a slight pink. Xander chuckled softly at the vampire’s antics. It looked like Spike didn’t want his Big Bad image shattered in front of the Queen Bitch.
“It’s okay, Cordy,” Xander said and smiled.
“We’re both wiped out and ready to fall asleep.” Luckily she didn’t say anything, just nodded and opened the first door. When they entered all three of them took a deep breath.
The room was huge and the interior showed an experienced hand. On the left side of the room was a living-room area with a large sofa and two big armchairs around a small coffee table. The table was a dark red-brown and the seating was a deep burgundy red. Next to it sat a few large shelves filled with books. Xander smiled when he saw them. Spike would have fun reading through those books.
‘But first we have to get him a new pair of glasses,’ he thought, remembering the day Buffy had smashed the vampire’s only pair. That day he had to get a very drunken vampire back into his basement where said vampire had bitched about how those glasses were the last thing he had from his mother. Still he could hear the sadness underlying his voice. When Spike had been out one night he had taken the broken glasses and brought them to a man who was able to restore them. He hadn’t been able to give the glasses back until now but he promised himself to do it soon while they were still in LA.
Bringing his mind back to the present Xander took in the rest of the room. Next to the chimney, which looked like it could be used again, were two doors.
“Well, one door leads towards the bathroom and I guess, the second one is the connection between this room and the next one,” Cordy said but she didn’t sound too sure.
“I hope you don’t mind.” She seemed to be a little at the odds with Xander and Spike not ripping each others’ heads off. Both shook their head and turned a little to look at the right side of the room. Spike whistled softly when he took in the large four-poster bed which was flanked by two old looking dressers. The bed itself was canopied with a curtain of what looked like burgundy coloured velvet. The same colour as the covers of the bed. From what Xander could see the wood used for the dresser and the frame of the bed was the same as for the table. The floor lacked a carpet except for the living area where it looked like it was a very expensive one, Persian maybe. The rest was parquet floor, not as dark as the rest of the wood used, though.
‘Maybe it’s cherry wood,’ Xander contemplated.
“Cordy, do you know who furnished this room?” Xander asked while he walked over to the windows which were flanked by black curtains. When he touched them he could feel he thick material and knew that this room was made to be for a vampire. The curtains were blackout curtains made to keep vampires save from the sun.
“I don’t know, but from the looks like this will be your room, Spike,” Cordy replied and walked over to the first of the two doors next to the chimney. She opened it and gasped.
“Holy Hell,” she whispered and both men rushed to her side. The door led to the bathroom which was expected. But the way the bathroom was furnished showed not just great taste but a large bank account, too. Black and white marble was used for the large tub, the shower stall and the sinks. Somewhere in the back of the room was the toilet positioned so that no-one could see it from the door. The faucets and the showerhead were blinking silvery. In front of the shower and the tub lay a fluffy, dark red rug to keep them from slipping. The towels on the racks followed the main colours as did the robe which hung next to the shower.
“Whoever did this sure has a good taste,” Cordy said and walked over to the bathtub. When she reached it she squealed. The sound echoed through the room.
“This isn’t just a tub, boys!! It’s a Jacuzzi!” Turning around she grinned at both men.
“I think I have to talk to Angel about moving in here, too. I mean, only if the other rooms are as comfortable as this one” Grabbing both men’s hands she tugged them out of the bathroom.
“Come on, guys! Let’s see if the other room is as comfortable as this one!” Both men followed Cordelia out of the bath and waited while she opened the other door.
“Wow,” was Cordy’s first reaction. The other room looked like the mirror image of the one they just visited. Except for the colour scheme. Where the first one was all dark mahogany and deep burgundy this room was furnished with pieces of light wood and colours. It was a beautiful mix of beige and brown. The parquet in this room was darker than the rest of the wood and nearly matched the deep brown of the window curtains.
‘Still dark enough to keep the sun out,’ Xander thought and smiled. He could guess who had furnished those two rooms and why. The living area was a dull beige, as were the cover and curtain of the bed.
‘It would fit Spike, if he wouldn’t refuse to wear anything other than black or red.’ Xander tried to imagine his friend in a few other colours and found that some weren’t that bad.
He stopped those thoughts when Cordy dragged them into the bathroom. Red marble and gold were the main colours else it nearly looked like the bath of the other room. The rug, towels and robe were a rich beige.
“These rooms are beautiful,” Spike murmured and Xander nodded slightly. Cordelia remained silent but it was clear that she prepared a speech for Angel about not paying her enough but furnishing the rooms until they would fit a king.
Minutes passed while the three of them stood like statues and looked around the room. Finally Xander moved to get his things unpacked. Spike followed his example. Somehow they ended up with the vampire taking the brighter room. After he had packed his few belongings into the dresser on the right side of the room Spike went to meet his Sire in the office. Still he didn’t go without waiting in the doorframe throwing a long look back at Xander. Blue eyes filled with dread and insecurity met brown ones which looked at him with warmth and a promise to be there if things got ugly.
After Spike had left them alone Cordelia stepped in front of Xander and looked at him with curious eyes.
“What was that?” she demanded to know. He had to smile. Cordy still stood like she did back in high school when she went to interrogate someone. Hands on her hips and those slim hips canted to one side.
“What was what, Cordy?” he asked smiling softly at her.
“Why didn’t Spike throw insults at you or at Angel? Why was it that he didn’t venture to far away from you? Why were you the one who told Angel to more or less fuck off? And why did he hesitate and look at you like you could protect him from Angel? And what the hell made you two drive here without so much as a warning?” Xander laughed and sat on the bed.
“Which question do you want to have answered first?” he asked while he scooted back until he could lean against the headboard. Cordelia mirrored his movements until she sat next to him.
“All of them. You can pick which you want to answer first,” she replied and folded her arms in front of her chest.
“Well,” Xander started but stopped for a moment. He wasn’t sure how much he could share with Cordelia.
“I have to start a pretty long while ago to all of your questions truthfully.”
‘Or as truthful as I can,’ he added in his mind. Cordy nodded and made herself comfortable.
Xander started to explain how Spike had come to live with him. How they got to know each other and how their friendship started to form. He told her a few things he knew Spike wouldn’t mind her knowing. Others were kept out because Xander wouldn’t violate the trust the vampire had in him.
“So, after Spike moved in with you, the two of you became friends. Okay I get that. I won’t say that I understand it because I don’t, but I get it,” Cordy said after he finished with his update.
“What I don’t get is why you stepped up and kind of protected him from Angel.” Xander shook his head and laughed quietly.
“Cordy, you know me! I’m the ‘White Knight’ from the Scoobies and I protect my friends. Be it from teachers, demons or in this case their own Sire. That is me! I protect the ones I care about with everything I have and I will do it without a second thought. And Deadboy deserved it!” He looked at his ex-girlfriend and knew that she tried to understand him.
“Okay, that makes sense,” Cordy said.
“But why didn’t he leave your side?”
“Well, that is not easy to explain,” Xander stalled for a moment.
“You see, Spike and I became close, pretty close. And he hasn’t been sleeping that well the last few days. Therefore he needed a little more support from me and with Deadboy going against him from the second we stepped into the hotel, well I guess you can do the math, can’t you?”
Cordelia seemed to ponder that thought.
“So, does that mean you two are an item?” she asked and a naughty gleam sparked in her eyes. Xander looked at her and then started to laugh loudly. Tears were running down his cheeks and he held his stomach.
“What?” Cordy demanded to know even though she couldn’t hide her own giggles.
When he finally could breathe again he turned to look at his friend.
“No, we are not together. We are just very close friends,” he said seriously and honestly.
“But you wouldn’t be opposed to the thought of Spike being your boyfriend?” she inquired teasingly.
“No, I wouldn’t,” Xander answered dryly and laughed a little more at Cordy’s surprised face.
“So, you’re gay now?” Her eyes went wide.
“More bisexual,” he grinned.
“I was with you after all, wasn’t I?”
“True,” she laughed and leaned against his shoulder.
“Okay, but now back to the topic at hand. Buffy has never been my most favourite person, as you certainly know. Still I always thought you would hold her higher than anything and anyone else. Yet here you are taking her favourite victim away and playing the protector for him,” Cordelia still sounded confused and Xander nodded slowly.
“I know that it is a little confusing for you. Well, let’s just say that I had to revise my opinion on Buffy a little bit. She isn’t flawless and I think I just had to really open my eyes when it came to her.” The last part was said in a low growl that sounded both angry and sad at the same time.
“She did something, didn’t she?” Cordy leaned against him and spoke quietly.
“Well, it wasn’t something she did, it more was something she didn’t do,” he replied and took a few deep breaths to control the anger that boiled in his veins at the memory of Spike laying on the cold ground without a chance to defend himself and Buffy standing by watching.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked and Xander could hear the concern in her voice. That had been one reason why he had loved her so much in high school. Even though she wore a tough mask if someone she loved or cared about was hurt she could show compassion and be a fiery protector.
“Not right now, okay?” he asked her and was relieved when she just nodded.
“Okay then, I’m beat. I’ll take a shower and then go look where Spike is.” Xander was glad that Cordy didn’t insist on him answering the rest of the questions.
“Okay, I’ll head home and get some sleep,” she said while climbing off the bed and walking towards the door.
“Oh and Angel’s office is in the floor underneath at the end of the hall,” she added with a wink before the door closed behind her.