Pairing: S/X, established relationship
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Primarily season 5, but anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same , Books 1 - 3
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX
Previous parts here
Spike prowled the mansion restlessly, unable to settle down beside Xander, who’d long since fallen asleep. There were too many humans present, scattered around the mansion, and he wasn’t used to the sound of so many humans sleeping nearby: the deep, regular breathing that filled the quiet rooms, the creak of mattress springs as someone shifted position, the steady thrum of resting heartbeats all around him.
Well, not so much unused to the sounds of sleeping humans as unused to not stealing from room to room, bed to bed, behind Drusilla, as his Dark Princess trailed feather-light fingers over each innocently sleeping figure while she debated which ones to kill and which to pass over, survivors who would wake to horror in the morning. The game had been a particular favorite of hers, one he had joined in readily to please her, ignoring his own preference for violence and terror.
The sound of soft weeping and a low murmur of comforting words were the only disruption in the stillness of the mansion. Even the witch had been drugged into quiet. The chaos mage had arrived, called by Rupert, with a bottle of sleeping pills nicked from somewhere, which had brought blessed silence to the girl’s random, disjointed comments and occasional struggles which had left everyone else distraught, regardless of how easily subdued she was.
Padding silently towards the sound, Spike found himself outside the door to Tara and Willow’s room. He wasn’t surprised to overhear Joyce’s quiet tones but that Glinda’s was the muffled, heartbroken sobbing came as a shock. Tara had been a rock since they’d arrived at the mansion. While everyone else had fallen apart, grieving over the witch’s lost mind, Tara had simply set about doing what needed to be done; getting the witch settled and fed, talking to her softly in soothing tones, explaining everything she was doing as if to a child. Certainly the witch had responded to her better than to anyone else, and Tara had rewarded her with a hug and a genuine smile when Willow had spoken her name.
Of course, she had immediately followed it with a burst of gibberish, and Spike shook his head, still thinking the witch would be better off dead. Not because of his own long-standing hatred of her. He couldn’t really muster his usual rancor right now - it was a waste of time when she no more understood why he still despised her than a lump of dirt would. No, demons didn’t waste their time on useless, helpless creatures the way humans did. The helpless either died or were killed. Made things simple.
Not that he intended telling any of them that. All of them were clinging to the hope that they could somehow fix what was irretrievably broken, ignoring the inconvenient fact that no one had been able to “fix” any of the other loonies Glory was leaving strewn in her wake.
Still…, watching Tara with Willow earlier tonight, Spike had been uncomfortably reminded of Drusilla’s last days and weeks, when he had tried so hard to coax her to eat, to talk to him, to acknowledge his presence as he held her in his arms, determined in the face of all evidence to the contrary that he would find a way to save her. None of it had done any good and Dru had wasted away to dust. It made a part of him ache for Tara. She was a rarity, a truly good person, and she didn’t deserve the heartache awaiting her.
He slipped away, as silently as he had come, leaving Joyce to comfort Tara. Joyce had taken charge of them as they’d stumbled through the door of the mansion after yet another useless fight with Glory; assigning rooms and tasks as calmly as if they were merely settling in to a vacation home and not fleeing from a hellgod intent on killing them all. Xander had prepared the mansion weeks ago in case they needed it, filling the freezer with frozen dinners and blood bags, buying sleeping bags and air mattresses enough for all of them and laying in a supply of weapons borrowed from the magic shop.
The mundane activity of getting settled into the mansion had calmed the humans - all except Dawn. Dawn had fled to the furthest reaches of the garden upon seeing the witch, sobs shaking her entire body, and nothing her mother and sister had said had helped. In the end, it was Tara who had successfully coaxed Dawn back into the house, quietly asking for her help in caring for the witch. Somehow that had gotten through to Dawn, where all her mother and sister’s reassurances hadn’t. As the evening progressed, Dawn had seemed to find comfort in helping to feed and tend to what was left of the witch.
When Willow had finally been drugged into blessed unconsciousness, the rest of them had held a council of war, gathering around the folding table Xander had set up in the dining room. The smell of despair and fear in the room had nearly overwhelmed Spike, although they had all done their best to put on a brave face. Dawn had joined them, pulling up a chair defiantly as if it was her right, and even Buffy had recognized that it was too late to try and shelter her sister from the gathering storm, accepting Dawn’s arrival with a resigned sigh and continued arguing with the others about the best course of action.
Buffy had insisted they all leave town. Now. Tonight. No looking back. Just make a run for it and hope for the best. Try and stay ahead of Glory and hope they managed to outwait her deadline to use the Key.
“We can’t fight her,” she repeated. “Now that she knows the Key is human, she’s going to be coming after all of us until she finds out who the Key is.”
“Buffy, we’ve talked about this,” Giles told her. “We would be more vulnerable on the road and without the resources we have here. If we’re careful, it should be a good long while before anyone learns where we are staying. I’ll close the Magic Box and Joyce will take a leave of absence from the gallery and we wait it out. We know Glory has only a certain amount of time to act, it won’t be forever. And far better here than on the road, where we may have to make a stand where fate and Glory finds us. At least here, we can choose our ground.”
“And there’s still the risk that it’s the Hellmouth that is powering the spells that are hiding Dawn from Glory,” Joyce reminded her. “We can’t leave town unless we know for sure that leaving won’t expose Dawn as the Key.”
“Any chance Tara can do that spell again?” Buffy asked, glancing somewhat guiltily in the direction of Tara and Willow’s room. Tara was the only one of them not at the table, having chosen to stay with Willow. “The one to see other spells? Maybe that would let her see what’s powering the spells on Dawn.”
“Unlikely,” Ethan answered crisply. “That spell is just to reveal the presence of magic, not trace it back to its source. If you are expecting to find a little trail of sparks between your sister and the hellmouth, well, you’re as ignorant of magic as you have always appeared to be.” He just smirked at Buffy’s scowl.
“At the very least, we need to wait until tomorrow,” Xander reminded them. “Mr. Olsen called that meeting, remember?” He looked around the circle of blank faces and realized that he hadn’t had a chance to tell anyone about Mr. Olsen’s call. Everything else had been forgotten in the rush that followed learning of Willow’s disappearance. Now, belatedly, he relayed the message that the demon community wanted to get together with them for a strategy meeting.
“Bloody good,” Giles muttered, obviously relieved to see Buffy derailed from her brilliant strategy of run away with her tail between her legs. “Let’s hope that they’ve been able to come up with some ideas for fighting Glory,” Giles said hopefully.
“That would be nice,” Buffy said gloomily. “Because we’ve got nothing.”
Spike led his party into the deserted building well ahead of the scheduled meeting time. Mr. Olsen had called with a last minute change in plans for the location, mentioning that there would be a few more people there from the demon community. Xander had been relieved by the call, saying that Mr. Olsen had been much less cryptic, more like his usual self, but Spike was concerned by the change in location and numbers and wanted to get there first.
The office building was deserted, save for a security guard who had obviously been expecting them and whom Xander and Giles both recognized. The man had a Lyrr’chrrn’tkk grandfather and had been one of the volunteers who had participated in the vessel spell they’d used against Adam, sitting home with his family and meditating, contributing their tiny bit of power to the greater whole the witches had been weaving.
“Mr. Myers, how are you doing?”
The tall, solidly built man came out from behind the security desk to shake hands. “Can’t complain. Mr. Giles, Xander, it’s good to see you.” He nodded affably enough to Spike and Buffy but didn’t offer to shake their hands. Spike ignored him, moving to check out the security monitors behind the desk, while Buffy folded her arms, giving off suspicious Slayer vibes as her eyes swept the lobby.
The guard saw Spike checking out the monitors and told them: “You’re the first to arrive. The rest should be here shortly.”
“Are you joining us?” Rupert asked in surprise.
“Nope, I just volunteered my building. No one’s here and I’ll make sure you guys aren’t disturbed.” He winked. “Already chased everyone else out of the building tonight. Seems we got a late notice that the building manager was spraying for cockroaches.” He grinned conspiratorially at them. “Go on up. Conference room on the fourth floor’s open. Go left as you get off the elevator.”
The conference room was large enough to hold over a dozen people and Spike began to wonder just how many demons were showing up for this little meeting. He slid into the chair at the head of the table, beating the Slayer to it, and signaled for Xander to take the chair to his right. Buffy took the seat on his left with Rupert sitting down on her other side and all of them waited with varying degrees of patience for the others to show.
They didn’t have to wait for long. The elevator bell chimed in the hallway, followed by the muffled sound of footsteps on carpet and seven demons and demon hybrids filed into the room.
Unlike the others, Spike recognized all of them. Four of them were among the demons who’d served as delegates to his Court. The first two were Jhaan demons, a hive species with no individual identities. They hadn’t returned to the Court since the first time the peaceful demons had approached him officially and Spike had always suspected they’d been chosen for that first meeting because their species had the ability to communicate telepathically with others of their kind. His eyes narrowed now, as he considered the implications of them being here. What was it about this meeting that made the local demons feel that they needed the ability to be instantly warned of trouble?
The other two had been the only two demons that had come to his Court with every delegation. Tiirpok, the incredibly powerful Inajii demon and Frergyrd, the half Nik’tashen. They made an odd couple, the tall, powerfully built woman with her fall of waist-length red hair, and the small, slender man whose half-bald pate barely reached her shoulder. Spike wasn’t fooled though. Despite his frail appearance, the Inajii would give the Slayer a run for her money in a fight and Spike himself wouldn’t want to mix it up with him without a good reason. As for the woman, despite a more than passing resemblance to old lithographs of Celtic warrior princesses, she wasn’t much of a fighter, instead, she had an intellect that rivaled Rupert’s. Both could pass for human and had human names, which Spike hadn’t bothered to learn.
The four were accompanied by Mr. Olsen, Sgt. Morgan and Mr. Okolo, all of whom looked relaxed and unworried, greeting them cheerfully enough. Xander stood to greet them, leaning across the table to shake hands and Mr. Olsen murmured something to him that Spike couldn’t quite make out but which sounded reassuring.
Spike simply gave them all a shallow nod, his face impassive. Buffy was watching the demons warily, while the Watcher was surreptitiously studying the two Jhaan demons - either trying to identify their species, or just curious about the reclusive hive demons. It was unlikely he’d ever seen one before, since they rarely interacted with anything but their own kind.
The demons spread out around the conference table, and took their seats, except for Tiirpok, who remained standing, taking charge of the meeting. His voice was a smooth, rich tenor, not the elderly quaver the Slayer at least had clearly been expecting. From his place at the other end of the table, he looked at the three humans at the table. “I am Tiirpok, also known as Terrance Johnson. My companion is Frergyrd, sometimes called Gwen Masters. These two are Jhaan demons, who do not have individual names. All of us have served as delegates to Master Spike’s Court from the community of peaceful demons here in town.” He indicated the other three members of the community. “I believe you are all acquainted with our colleagues.”
The Watcher’s eyes brightened with interest as he studied the demons “Yes, indeed,” he murmured. “I am Rupert Giles, Watcher for Buffy Summers, the Slayer.” Buffy lifted a hand in greeting, smiling tentatively, although Spike could see the tension in her body. By profession, the Slayer was not automatically comfortable with meeting unknown demons for the first time, and she was still shaken by what Glory had done to the redhead. “Spike you all know, of course, and Xander Harris, his Claimed human.”
Spike slid Rupert a sideways glance at that, taking his eyes off the demons for the first time, pleased that Rupert has so easily acknowledged his Claim. Mostly, Xander’s status made the humans uncomfortable and they rarely referred to it. He pulled his attention back to the meeting as Tiirpok spoke again.
“We are aware of the situation with Glorificus,” the Inajii was saying, “and we believe we have something that we can contribute to the coming battle.”
Buffy straightened, shedding her wariness at the prospect of useful help. “What is it? Because frankly, we’re pretty much spinning our wheels trying to figure out how to fight her.”
“It is not a weapon, per se,” Frergyrd told her. “And it is useable by only one of us here.” Her gaze went to Spike as she continued. “We are in possession of the Gem of Amara.”
Spike felt a surge of irritation go through him: as if they didn’t have enough problems already without this poppycock. He saw Rupert’s eyebrows shoot upwards in astonishment while Xander and Buffy just looked puzzled, although Xander looked like he was mentally snapping his fingers, trying to recall where he’d heard the name before.
Before any of the humans could speak, Spike scowled at the two demons. “Are you out of your fucking minds?” he asked rudely. “The Gem of Amara’s a myth. It’s no more real than the bloody tooth fairy.”
The demons just looked amused. Mr. Okolo answered, speaking for the first time. “Not only is the Gem real, it is here in Sunnydale,”
“Forgive me, but are you sure?” Rupert interjected. “Like Spike, I was under the impression the Gem of Amara was a myth.”
“What’s the Gem of Amara?” Buffy asked impatiently, “and why is Spike the only one who can use it?” Spike smirked, hearing the thread of envy in her voice at the thought of Spike having a weapon she didn’t get. He firmly squelched the flicker of excitement inside him at the confirmation by Mr. Okolo. He’d believe in the Gem when he was holding it in his hand and standing out in the midday sun. Still… if anyone was in a position to know if the Gem was real or not, it would be the nearly immortal Teer’ah demon.
“The Gem of Amara is the vampire equivalent of the Holy Grail,” Rupert told her. “It’s supposedly the source of some tremendous power, but I don’t believe I’ve ever found any description of exactly what that power is supposed to be.”
“The Gem of Amara makes the vampire who wears it invulnerable,” Tiirpok told them.
Xander’s hand closed convulsively on Spike’s arm and Spike could hear his heartbeat accelerate.
“Invulnerable as in…?” Buffy asked.
“As in unable to be killed,” the Inajii answered. “A vampire wearing the Gem can stand outside in the full light of the sun and not be burned. They cannot be killed, not even by beheading. They are invulnerable.”
Xander was staring at Spike, looking like a kid on Christmas morning. “Invulnerable, Spike,” he whispered. “You’d be invulnerable,” he repeated, as if he liked the sound of the word on his lips. His smile was slowly widening until his entire face was glowing and Spike returned the smile, despite his own skepticism. Xander’s joy at the thought of him being immune from harm was touching.
“Like to walk with you in the sun, luv,” he breathed in his Claimed’s ear, for Xander’s hearing alone.
“Where is it?” Xander asked eagerly, looking across the table at the demons.
“Hold on, this is a lot to swallow. We need to talk about this.” Buffy looked apologetic but determined.
“Yes, I’m afraid I agree,” Giles said, removing his glasses and polishing them in his familiar stall as he spoke. “Spike has proven himself reliable but absolute power is a great deal of temptation to trust anyone with.”
Xander bristled defensively. “Excuse me, I didn’t hear anything about absolute power. I just heard invulnerable. Nobody’s said that Spike will get stronger than he already is, or won’t feel pain, or anything like that.”
“Xander, knowing he’s invulnerable…”
Xander cut Giles off before he could finish. “He’s already immortal. This would just mean that his immortality couldn’t be cut short.”
“You’re being deliberately naïve, Xander.” Giles told him. “There is in fact a great deal of difference between the possibility of immortality and the certainty of it. Fear of death keeps us all in check, not just vampires.”
“Already dead,” Spike couldn’t help pointing out.
“You know what he meant,” Buffy said, exasperated. “Spike, I trust you, but with something like that… you’d be unstoppable.”
“Isn’t that the point? I don’t think they’re offering him the Gem because it’s a get out of jail free card for final death,” Xander answered her, nodding in the direction of the silently watching demons. “We need someone who can go toe-to-toe with a god without being killed. Who can keep a fight going for long enough to do some good. And while the Gem means that Spike will survive the fight, my guess is he’s going to suffer plenty during the course of it.”
Frergyrd cleared her throat. “If I might interrupt - Mr. Harris is correct. The Gem carries a heavy price: in exchange for it, we require that Master Spike fight this battle for us.” Her gaze swept around the table at all of them, human and demon alike, before coming to rest on Spike. “This was not a decision we reached lightly. We have debated it amongst ourselves for some time and have only now been able to reach a consensus. Of those who know of the Gem’s existence, there have always been some who favored its destruction and others who preferred preserving it in case of dire need. It is our decision that the present circumstances are such that the time has come to reveal the Gem’s location.”
“How come you’re just telling us about it now?” Xander asked, his tone curious not hostile. “It would have come in really handy against Adam.”
“The threat posed by Glory is greater than that posed by the Initiative,” Sergeant Morgan told him. “Glory has the potential to destroy the entire world, which Adam did not. Last year, there were among us individuals who remained unwilling to reveal the location of the Gem. And it has always been our agreement that the Gem’s existence would only be revealed by unanimous consent.”
“So, you’re saying that you’d rather the whole town be wiped out in a demon war than trust a vampire with the Gem?” Spike asked, one eyebrow raised sardonically.
“Yes,” Tiirpok answered flatly. “A vampire with the Gem could lay waste to a great deal more than this town alone.”
Tiirpok stood, sweeping them all with a stern glance. “The decision has been made. We have debated all of these issues and many more, for generations. This is the first time that we have reached a consensus that the peril is grave enough to warrant utilizing the Gem.”
“You know, Spike isn’t the only candidate,” Buffy hesitated, then continued almost apologetically. “We could give the Gem to Angel.” She didn’t actually add the words “he has a soul” but she might as well have, so loudly did they sound in the room.
Xander rolled his eyes. “Right. Because Angel’s been such a model of stability lately. According to Wesley, he’s so obsessed with killing Darla that he’s gone completely off the deep end. He fired Wes, Cordy and Doyle and they’re on their own now, trying to do Angel’s job for him.”
Buffy frowned and Xander realized she hadn’t been keeping up with the news from Los Angeles. She had a tendency to avoid discussions of Angel and his crew because of the lingering emotions from their one-time relationship.
Giles cleared his throat. “I’m afraid I agree with Xander, Buffy. Angel is simply not an option at this point in time. From what Wesley has reported, Angel’s been acting suspiciously like Angelus recently.”
“Master Spike is our choice,” Tiirpok repeated flatly. “We will not give the Gem to Angel. We are in contact with the demon community in Los Angeles. There is an anagogic demon who has read Angel several times recently. Angel is refusing to listen to guidance or counsel from anyone and has ignored a number of attempts by others to set him back on his true path. We will not trust him with the power of the Gem.”
Even Buffy recognized that that was the end of the discussion for the demons. She nodded, accepting their judgment.
“What are you asking for?” Spike said casually, like none of this mattered, ignoring his own rising excitement at the prospect that the Gem of Amara was actually real.
Mr. Olsen stopped him briefly on their way out the door. “Xander, I apologize for not giving you advance notice about what we were proposing.” His faded blue eyes held a world of apology, obviously remembering the way the coven had sprung the idea of the vessel spell on him last year. “I promised that I wouldn’t mention the Gem in any way before this meeting.” He smiled ruefully. “I think Spike should have been entrusted with the Gem last year. But others felt that, with the coven arriving to help that it wasn’t necessary.” He spread his hands apologetically. “Too many demons simply do not trust vampires, and the idea of a vampire that can’t be killed frightens them silly, I’m afraid.”
“It’s alright,” Xander assured him. Even the worry over how this was going to play out over the next days and weeks wasn’t enough to stop the giddy happiness bubbling up inside him. Spike was going to be invulnerable, that was all that really mattered.
Mr. Olsen smiled, perhaps recognizing that Xander needed to be alone with Spike right now. “We’ll talk soon,” he promised.
Xander smiled at him and hurried out after the others. “Guys, we’re going to go home tonight,” Xander told them, putting an arm around Spike’s waist. “Pick up a few changes of clothes, that kind of thing.”
“Are you sure that’s wise?” Giles asked.
“Glory doesn’t know about the Court,” Spike told him. “She’s not interested in the power structure here in town. Doesn’t play well with others, that one.”
“Don’t worry, Giles, we’ll be fine. I’m going to call my boss and take a leave of absence and we’ll rejoin you at the mansion tomorrow. I’ll bring some more supplies in.”
“Xander, you heard what Glory said. She wanted to brain-suck you first,” Buffy reminded him.
“We’ll be careful,” he assured her, repressing his impatience to be gone with an effort. He loved them, but he really needed to be alone with his vampire right now.
They barely made it through the door of the apartment before Xander launched himself at Spike, shoving him up against the kitchen cabinets and kissing him hungrily. Spike let Xander have free rein, his lips parting under Xander’s, as Xander’s tongue plundered his mouth. Xander’s body pressed hard against his, his big hands cupping the back of Spike’s skull, holding him in place as their mouths and teeth clashed. Spike slid his arms around his boy’s strong body, cupping Xander’s arse and pulling them even closer together, loving the warmth and strength of his boy and the hardness he could feel between them, glorying in the fierceness of Xander’s kisses.
Xander dropped his hands to Spike’s chest, frantically tearing at his black t-shirt, before stepping back just long enough to yank the shirt off over Spike’s head. His warm, calloused hands caressed Spike’s chest and back, sliding over the cool, ivory skin before he ducked his head, mouthing and nipping at the flat brown nipples, quickly bringing them to aching peaks, while his fingers dug into the muscles of Spike’s back.
Spike arced his head back as arousal shivered through him. He tightened his grip on Xander, their hips moving in rhythm against each other, erections straining the denim of their jeans. Both of them were rapidly approaching climax and Spike reached up with one hand, burying it in Xander’s hair and pulling him up so their lips met again, kissing him hard as his hips moved more rapidly.
He released his grip on the dark waves and yanked down the collar of Xander’s shirt, dropping his head to nuzzle and lick along the tanned skin, inhaling deeply, loving the mingled odors of sweat, arousal and his boy. Feeling his own orgasm approaching rapidly, he shifted to his true face and buried his fangs in his Claim mark, renewing the mark and tasting Xander’s pheromone-spiked blood even as they both exploded into orgasm.
Hours later, sprawled amid tangled, sweaty sheets, Xander was spent and sated, lying curled next to Spike, his body aching and thoroughly debauched from hours of lovemaking. He let out a contented sigh, one hand tracing over the clean lines of his lover’s chest.
“Invulnerable,” he repeated.
Spike chuckled, his chest moving slightly under Xander’s cheek as he did. “Believe you’ve said that before, luv.”
Xander mustered the strength to lift his head, looking into Spike’s blue eyes. He didn’t even care that he’d been repeating the word all night, even chanting it out loud as he’d arced in orgasm, crowing the word to the ceiling as he straddled his vampire, riding Spike’s cock and driving them both over the edge.
“Stop being such a skeptic,” he ordered. “You know Mr. Okolo would never have said anything unless he was sure it was the real deal. Same for Mr. Olsen and Sergeant Morgan.” He didn’t know the others well enough to say if they were the kind of people who would speak carelessly about something like the Gem without being sure, but those three he was sure of.
Spike made a non-committal sound and Xander shook his head in fond exasperation. “Just sayin’, I’ll want proof before I stroll outside in daylight wearing nothing but the Gem and a smile.”
Xander grinned lasciviously at the picture that brought to mind, but he was so tired his cock didn’t even give an interested twitch. “Might have to try that one day,” he said, settling down against Spike with a yawn. “We are so going to Hawaii once you have the Gem.”