Rating: R - to be on the safe side
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!
Previous chapters here!
The gate, even though it was old and rusty, opened noiselessly. Xander stepped through first and immediately opened his enhanced senses to his surroundings. There was nothing unusual in their nearer range. A few mice scurried through the unnatural dry grass peeping every now and then. A little more to his right an owl had caught its prey and the wet ripping of flesh send a shiver down Xander's spine. He turned his head a bit and listened to his left tensing a bit.
Motioning for the vampires to follow him he slowly made his way over to the large crypts that stood lined up on both sides of an old path.
“Xander!” Angel hissed but fell quiet again when the mortal threw him a dark look.
“Better staying behind him, when he is like that,” Spike murmured and placed a hand on his Sire's arm to keep him from running past the human. A soft smile graced Xander's lips when he caught the slight hitch in the blond vampire's unneeded breath before he returned his attention to the path in front of them. He had heard something from one of the crypts. It sounded like voices chanting and whenever there was someone chanting the result was never good.
It was pitch black but again Xander had no problem seeing the roots of old dead trees sticking out of the ground or the low hanging branches which looked like skeletal hands reaching out for them. Other than the soft voices from deep within one of the last mausoleums silence reigned in the part of the cemetery. Unnatural silence because there was literally no sound. Not even the tiny footfalls of a mouse disrupted the complete lack of sound.
'Something is very, very wrong,' Xander thought and stopped walking. Angel and Spike moved to stand on each side of him both looking expectantly – though the look on the darker vampire's face held more than just a small amount of doubt while the blue eyes of his Childe shone with trust.
“Listen carefully,” Xander whispered not louder than a soft sigh. The blond vampire on his right side closed his eyes without hesitation and concentrated on his hearing. Angel on the other hand took a moment to stare into the mortal's dark eyes before he closed his own, focusing.
Seconds turned into a minute then two before both vampires opened their eyes and stared straight ahead. Obviously they had heard the chanting, too.
“How?” Angel started to ask but Xander held his hand up to quiet him again. Surprisingly the older vampire obeyed again this time without hesitance. Slowly inching his way down the overgrown path Spike passed his Sire and friend before a warm hand enclosed his and tugged him back. Looking up he found himself staring into dark brown eyes which were flecked with gold.
“Angel,” Xander hissed and the taller vampire moved closer to him, almost touching, and even though it was dark and they had something to do the young man could see the sudden longing in Angel's eyes when their gaze fell upon the entwined hands. Something in Xander's chest clenched painfully but he couldn't dwell on it.
“Could you understand what they were saying?” he asked instead. Closing his eyes again the vampire listened once more and nodded slowly as if following a rhythm who only he could hear.
“It's Latin,” he mumbled under his breath.
“Very old Latin and they are making one mistake after another. They want to resurrect someone and apparently they are... practising?” The surprise and utter shock mixed with disgust filled the last word completely and Angel ripped his eyes open the gold glittering even without the light.
'That is a little odd,' Xander thought when he saw the unusual glow in those golden eyes. Nodding, as if he hadn't expected the answer to be different he motioned down the path.
“But still it doesn't explain this,” he said pointing at a group of ghouls who scuffled across the path more or less peacefully next to each other. One was chewing on something that looked like an arm while another was ripping out pieces of flesh from his own back. Nausea rolled over Xander and he closed his eyes for a second to get the image out of his brain. Without much success, since he still could see the scene on the inside of his lids. This would be haunting him in his nightmares, Xander was sure about it. But that was something he had to deal with later. Taking a deep breath and focussing again, he listened for other heartbeats.
There were four of them. Three were racing as if their owner was scared but one was beating calmly and strongly. A soft growling rose in his chest when he tried to locate them and found that he couldn't.
“There is a spell surrounding them, one to make localisation impossible,” he whispered, opening his eyes again to watch the ghouls in front of them.
“Them?” Spike asked equally quiet. The only indication of his nervousness was the death-grip he had on Xander's hand. Angel looked worried and that was never a good sign.
“Yes, there are four of them but I think only one of them is the real danger,” the mortal answered and slowly inched forward.
The ghouls didn't seem to notice them, not even when Xander and the vampires stopped about ten foot away from them. Spike's hand didn't leave Xander's for the whole time even though the vampire should have been bouncing from the possibility to inflict pain and violence. But something was frightening him and when Xander looked over at Angel he could see the same fear inside the dark eyes. The tingling at the edge of his mind grew rapidly until it was a shrill ringing that nearly deafened him before it calmed again to a dull buzzing in the background.
“And one of those four is the one powerful enough to bind those ghouls together with fear,” Spike mumbled numbly. Xander nodded and motioned Angel to his side. Looking into the fear stricken eyes turned the tingling back to become a roaring noise and Xander moved, grabbing Angel's hand to squeeze it tightly. Oddly the fear in the dark brown eyes receded and the golden flecks returned glittering like the first time.
“You two take down the ghouls, you're faster than me anyway,” the mortal mumbled looking back to the scuffling and chewing demons. He had an uneasy feeling in his stomach that he would have to face at least one of the demons before the fight would end.
“I'll take care of those wannabe-magicians,” his voice was calm and where there once would have been fear was now a deadly determination to make sure that his vampires were safe.
'Since when do I include Angel?' Xander asked himself but decided that it was a question he could ponder when they were safe and sound back at the Hyperion. Releasing the hold of the hands of both vampires he moved sideways towards the first crypt, his eyes never wavering from the odd behaving demons.
When his shoulder met the wall Xander took his axe from the belt where he had hung it moments ago to grab Angel's hand. Moving it around until it lay perfectly in his strong hand he watched the demons move ,his hearing focused on the chanting.
But it was useless. The spell prevented him from localising them.
'How does Spike always find me when Willow has cast that spell?' He asked himself frustrated. The answer came to him in the form of a nasty smell when one of the ghouls passed him only three feet away.
Xander took a deep breath and tried to ignore the stench coming from the ghouls. He could smell the wintery scent that was Spike, the deadness of the surrounding area and a somewhat warm scent that reminded him of the autumn and leaves falling from the trees.
'This has to be Angel,' he concluded. When he had been in the office of the older vampire he hadn't focused on his smell but he would do that when they got out in one piece. Taking another deep breath he finally found what he was searching for. The sour smell of human sweat and the sweet scent of fear. It made him hesitate for a second.
The smell of fear was intoxicating. The sweetness covered him and threatened to lure him away from the safety he was in. An urge arose from his chest and settled in his throat. He longed for the velvety feel and coppery taste of blood pouring down his throat while he listened to the weakening heartbeat.
'What the hell?' Xander was shocked.
'Where did that come from?' His eyes were wide but unseeing when he staggered along the crypt unconsciously smelling the air for any trace of human scent. The farther away he got the stronger the scent became. Distantly he heard Angel and Spike growl and the ghouls howling in their fight. His attention was completely focused on the sweet scent and the rhythmically beating hearts. He reached for the old wooden door and pushed it open. A strong wave of that sweet scent hit him like a brick-wall and nearly brought him to his knees. Bowing his head and taking only very shallow breaths Xander tried to get the sudden urge for blood back under his control. The chanting had stopped the second he had opened the door. Now a high-pitched scream threatened his eardrums and made him feel a little nauseated. The urge for blood died before it could overwhelm him. The fear, at first being intoxicating was now the only thing that kept him from attacking.
Looking up he found himself staring into three shocked faces of young girls and one calm face of an elderly woman.
“Vampire!” the woman hissed and threw a stake at him. Xander saw it coming with a terrifying clearness and fell forward reflexively, dodging the stake gracefully. Coming back to a stand he stared into the face of the woman and the tingling in his head rose to a deafening buzz again. She looked familiar even though Xander couldn't say where he could have seen the woman. She was relatively small maybe not even reaching his shoulders. Her black hair was streaked with grey strands which now hung loosely into her face. Even though the hair indicated that she was old her face looked like that of a young woman and nearly ageless. Her eyes had the most stunning green Xander had ever seen and he would have found her slender body attractive if it hadn't been for Spike.
'Spike!' The thought spurred the young man into action. He rushed forward ignoring the girls who were screaming and hastily running out of the open door. His vision was clear, sharp and focused on the woman in front of him. A cruel smile crept over her lips sending shivers down Xander's spine.
“Who are you?” he asked growling. Taking a step forward he stopped abruptly when the pained scream of his vampire reached his ears. The tingling in his mind turned into a worried buzzing and Xander fought the urge to turn around and run back to Spike.
“The question is not who I am but who you are, Alexander from the house of Arrius,” her voice was soft and smooth. A complete contrast to her hate filled eyes.
“I know who I am!” Xander hissed and took a step forward only to be stopped again by a pain filled yell. This time it was clearly Angel's voice that echoed through the night.
“Don't come any nearer or your friends will die a slow and painful death – a final death,” she threatened and moved backwards.
Xander stood motionless, frozen in his place. The tingling in his mind urged him to turn around and run back out. To kill and destroy everything and everyone who caused his vampires to scream in agony.
“You know who you are? Well, then, Alexander Arrius, my work here is done, isn't it?” A shrill laughter filled the crypt and resonated through Xander's whole body. The woman stepped into the shadow and then blessed silence filled the room.
'Who the hell was that? And who is Alexander Arrius?' his mind was rushing through his memory but he couldn't come up with anything that might have connected tot he name. Taking a look around the ground he couldn't see anything unusual. There was the pentagram drawn with white chalk but smudged from scrambling feet. Black candles lit the room and their flames flickered in the air. Suddenly his mind came to a halt and only one thought filled it completely.
Turning around Xander flew out of the crypt and back into the cemetery. The painful yells he had heard earlier were now turned into soft pleading whimpers that made his heart clench violently. Rushing down the old path he soon found himself back where he had left Spike and Angel with the group of ghouls.
The scene in front of him stopped him dead in his tracks.
Spike was kneeling on the ground holding his head while his body was curled up protectively. Angel stood, swaying, in front of his Childe. He was in full game-face. Golden eyes glittering dangerously but the way he was holding himself told the story of pain and fear. There were six figures standing around them and when Xander sniffed the air he growled.
'Humans!' he thought and his vision zoned in on the area in front of him. He tuned every sound out except for the beating hearts and ragged breathing. His muscles tensed and he was ready to charge when the voice of one of the men stopped him.
“Hostile 17,” the man said and the smirk was clear in his voice.
“Did you really think you could escape? And you,” he pointed at Angel who was holding a hand to his bleeding side.
“Did you really think that you could stop us?” He knew that voice. He knew and hated it.
'Finn!' He thought and a wave of hate flooded his body. He never liked he guy,his attitude towards Xander and how he behaved towards Spike.
'Should have known that he would never turn his back on his old company.'
Angel's growl brought him back and the dangerous sway of the big vampire decided his way of action. Stepping out of the shadows Xander noiselessly made his way over to the little group. He felt Angel's and Spike's inconspicuous glances and caught their eyes showing nothing but protectiveness even though the surprise in Angel's face made him uncomfortable.
“He asked you something, filthy vampire!” a second man yelled and surged forward. He rammed his fist into Angel's chest. The sickly crunching noise eerily loud in the thick silence.
Angel fell to his knees clutching his chest the pained scream echoing through Xander's mind even after it had died on bloodied lips.
Time seemed to slow down when Xander rushed forward. His vision clear and his aim perfect he surged onto the man nearest to him. Bringing them both down, he pulled his fist back and slammed it into the surprised face of the soldier. The bone gave in under his onslaught with a wet crunch and blood dripped from his hand when he pulled it back. The heartbeat stopped moments later.
Even though it lasted only seconds Xander felt like he moved in slow motion when he stood up again and lunged at the man next to him. The soldier brought his hands up to defend himself but Xander batted them aside and grabbed the man around his thick neck. Giving him a small grin he twisted it until the bones gave in.
“Xander!” the shocked voice of Riley Finn caught his attention and he let the dead man fall to the ground. His mind was blank except for the wish to kill the man who threatened his Childer. Growling, Xander turned around and focused on the last four men. Two of them had guns pointed at him but he could see them trembling and the scent of fear was overwhelming. The third stood behind Riley and kept giving his leader doubtful glances. Riley didn't notice any of that. His eyes were glued to Xander's face and the shock in them sent a shiver of glee down Xander’s spine.
“What do you want, Finn?” he growled and leisurely walked over to the other man. The man behind Riley stumbled backwards and fell down. Xander grinned at him and a small squeak escaped the fallen soldier. Riley stared at him.
“What did they do to you, Xander? When did they turn you?” his voice even though it was calm held the soft note of accusation in it.
Xander pondered that thought for a moment.
“They didn't turn me, Finn,” he finally said and it did sound like his usual self.
“In fact, they never even bit me but they are my friends and you should know how I'll react when they are hurt or threatened.” With every word he got closer to Riley and when he finally stood in front of the soldier he grinned at the wave of sweetness that enveloped him.
“Xander this isn't you!” Riley insisted and tried to push him away but Xander was having none of that. He grabbed Finn's arm and twisted it until the soldier reacted and tried to pry him off. The other soldiers surged forward their guns forgotten for a moment.
“NO, stop!” Riley yelled but it was too late. Xander took one of his knives and threw it without really aiming. It sank deep into the throat of the first attacker. The second one was not that lucky. Angel who was hurt but still not broken lunged and threw them both to the ground. The scream of the man turned into a gurgling wet noise when the tall vampire sunk his fangs into the neck of his victim. Xander felt a rush of happiness at the slicing sound of teeth tearing into skin.
“Now, Riley,” he smiled evilly.
“What to do with you?” Tightening his grip Xander dodged the panicked attacks that came from the other man. He had known all along that he was stronger than Finn, if only in his body. Now he used that strength to his advantage. Backing Riley up until his back hit the wall of a crypt Xander's eyes never left the ones of his captive while his ears listened to Angel drinking and Spike whimpering.
“I'll tell you what, Riley,” Xander whispered knowing well enough that both vampires were not concentrating enough to keep track of what he was saying.
“I could let Angel have you, you know. He doesn't need to kill you. He could hurt you and make you regret the day your mother was born just like he did in his days as Angelus. And all that just because you hurt his Childe. But you know what?” Xander paused giving Finn the chance to speak. When he remained silent the raged man continued.
“I count them both as mine. They are mine and no-one touches them. Not even you and I will find every little bastard of your Initiative-team and I will kill them all. Well, maybe not all, since one of you assholes has to get rid of the chip in Spike's head but after that I think he will need a snack, don't you think so, too?”
“You can't do that, Xander! What will Buffy think of it?! Or Willow?” Riley knew that he had cared about both of them but he didn't know that both had hurt him and his vampire deeply.
“I. Don't. Care!” Xander hissed and once again the tingling in his mind silenced everything around him. This time even his vision went dark.
Moments later he opened his eyes and felt something warm pouring into his mouth. The coppery taste should have disgusted him but it didn't. Not for the seconds he was still swimming between awareness and the grey haze of unconsciousness.
The moment his mind became completely aware of his surroundings and the rapidly cooling body in his arms he pulled away and stared down at Riley Finn, lying at his feet staring at him from dead eyes while the warm blood still painted his lips a ruby red.