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
Previous parts here
Whoo Hoo! The last chapter's done!
Xander was driving more cautiously now, not wanting to be pulled over for speeding. One thing you could say about Sunnydale’s finest - they might be unbelievably eager to overlook the number of exsanguinated bodies left lying around but they sure liked handing out the speeding tickets. There had been no sign of Glory following them, so they had all relaxed a little, except for Willow. Dawn was doing her best, but Willow was upset and uncooperative and very unhappy about not being able to open the door. Xander was just grateful for the child-proof locks on Giles’ car.
“Hang in there, Dawn,” he called over his shoulder, wincing as Willow tried to slap Dawn and Dawn just managed to block in time, struggling to pin Willow’s hands down. “We’ll be there soon.”
They were well across town from the mansion, heading for a small hotel on the outskirts of the business district. Nice enough to stash Dawn in but not a place that would question customers who paid in cash and registered as John Smith. Not that he was really planning on using that name, but something similarly bland and forgettable. Bob Johnson maybe.
A blue flash lit the car and Xander swore, stamping on the brakes instinctively as he was blinded temporarily, bringing the car to a shuddering halt and slamming the gearshift into neutral as he blinked frantically, trying to clear his vision. There was the blare of a horn and someone swooped past them, yelling an obscenity, but Xander had no time for even justifiably irritated fellow drivers.
“What’s happening?” Dawn’s voice was frightened and Xander twisted around in his seat, squinting at Willow who was lit up by a glow of power, her body convulsing as Dawn bravely tried to keep hold of her so she didn’t hurt herself.
“It’s the spell,” Xander exclaimed. “It’s working!”
Ignoring the fact that the car was still blocking the road, he scrambled out and yanked open the back door, catching Willow in his arms as she fell through the opening, just as the blue lightning died around her.
She didn’t respond. Her whole body was trembling uncontrollably and he eased her the rest of the way down, pulling her into his lap as he sat down on the pavement.
She heard him that time, turning her head slightly to look up at him with confused eyes.
He wrapped himself around her small body, rocking her, one hand carding through her tangled hair, only peripherally aware of Dawn and Joyce crouched beside them as he prayed silently that the spell had worked. “Willow?”
“Xander?” she said weakly.
His arms tightened around her as she shook with reaction. “You’re back,” he said, his voice choked with emotion. “We got you back.” He heard Dawn’s happy exclamation but he had no time for anything but his oldest friend.
Her arms closed around him convulsively and she buried her face in his chest. “Oh, Xander. I got so lost.”
“Shhhh,” he crooned softly, “everything’s going to be alright. You’re back.”
It was Joyce who finally separated them, gently coaxing them to stand, reminding him that they were in the middle of the street and beginning to draw a crowd.
That got through to Xander. Crowds were bad. They couldn’t draw attention to themselves. He stood up, bringing Willow with him, and steadying her as she clung to him, still looking disoriented but more just woken up confusion than brain-sucked mindlessness.
“We can go back,” Dawn was saying, hovering over them, patting Willow wherever she could reach and looking like she wanted to shove Xander out of the way so she could hug Willow herself. He didn’t blame her but he wasn’t ready to let go yet, something inside of him terrified that, if he didn’t hold onto Willow she would slip through his fingers again. He needed to pull himself together, because they couldn’t just stand here in the middle of the street forever.
“Go back?” he asked Dawn blankly.
“To the mansion,” she said impatiently. “The spell worked, so they’re ok.”
“The mansion,” he repeated, his brain still not really functioning, then reality caught up with him. “No!” At Dawn’s startled step back, he shot a look of appeal to Joyce, already beginning to ease Willow towards the back seat.
“Dawn, the spell was just the first step,” Joyce reminded her. “We can’t go back until we know Glory has been defeated.”
“No, Dawn,” Xander said firmly. “We can’t risk it. We still need to keep you hidden. Glory could have escaped, or…” For the first time, he realized he had no idea what had happened at the campground. There hadn’t been time for any of them to explain before Glory kicked in the door. “…or she could have followers still out there who don’t know Glory’s beaten, looking to capture you,” he said grimly. “In the car, people, I’m stashing you guys at that motel.” At her mutinous look, he said reassuringly. “Don’t worry, I’m going back to check it out as soon as the three of you are safe.”
Ten minutes later, they were checked in under a false name and had promised him they wouldn’t leave until he called them. Willow had fretted, saying she was better and could maybe help, but had subsided when he gave her his ‘this is not negotiable’ look, the one that sometimes even worked on Spike. He closed the door behind him, hoping they would be safe and headed back to the mansion to check on the others.
Between the Gem of Amara and Glory’s death, Spike was feeling nothing but sheer elation, although the others had all received injuries in the fight. Sgt. Morgan had gotten the worst of it when Glory buried her 3-inch high heel in his gut. He’d lost a lot of blood and was looking as pale as a dark-complexioned human could, leaning wearily against the wall while Tiirpak wrapped a makeshift bandage around his middle, fussing at him for allowing himself to be injured.
The Slayer was being tended to by her Watcher, who was washing the deep cut over her eye. Buffy was reassuring him that she was fine and it was obvious she was humoring Rupert as she fidgeted under his care. Rayne looked almost as hyper as Spike himself felt and Spike could feel the magical residue still crackling the air around him. He looked smugly pleased with himself for pulling off the spell, although Tara was still wringing her hands, obviously torn about accepting the chaos mage’s word that the spell had worked as intended, and wanting to see with her own eyes that the little red-head was better.
Spike crossed the room to crouch down next to Sgt. Morgan. “Good work, mate. You gonna be ok?”
“I’m good,” the sergeant told him. “Tiirpak here’s a worry-wort.” He started to heave himself to his feet and Spike and Tiirpak hastily steadied him as he winced and staggered.
“We need to get back to the campground, check on the others,” he said.
Tiirpak gave him a fondly exasperated look. “They had things well in hand when we left, and I’m sure they are fine. You, on the other hand, need stitches.”
Spike looked around the room as they argued about what was more important. Most of the few pieces of furniture were done for, smashed to pieces under the weight of their bodies. The walls would keep Xander busy for weeks, patching the body-shaped holes. Glory had had a fine old time tossing her enemies around the room with that astonishing strength of hers.
Of course, as an emergency bolt hole, the mansion was done. Too many people knew about it now. Probably best to just walk away, find another one, he thought. Not like he cared about the place really.
His elation at their victory was fading, as worry about Xander took priority. “Anyone got a phone?” he asked the room at large, remembering that his own cell phone was smashed.
Spike turned and saw Xander standing in the doorway, a relieved smile on his face as his eyes swept the room and found them all relatively intact.
Xander tossed the keys to Giles’ car to Buffy. “Franklin Street Inn. Room 237. And Buffy? I really think your family and Tara and Willow should all stay there for a couple of nights. Just to be sure.” He smiled crookedly. “Call it a vacation. You know, like normal people take. Nothing but room service and rest.”
“That’s a good idea,” Giles said. “There is a small risk that Glory could be re-born into another body or that some of her minions may survive and try and use the Key for their own purposes. It would be best if we all lay low for the next two nights. If nothing has happened by then, I think it will be safe to assume the time to use the Key will have passed and we can resume our normal lives. I suggest we all keep in touch by phone on a regular schedule.”
Tiirpak and Sgt. Morgan had already left, having called someone to give them a lift. They were going to pick up the three demons they’d left behind at the campground and had promised to call if anything unexpected happened. As Buffy and Tara headed out the door together, that left only Spike, Xander, Giles and Ethan at the mansion.
“Takin’ my boy home,” Spike announced. “Be as safe as anywhere there. Mansion’s yours for the duration, if you want. Best move the RV though. Police are going to find it sooner or later.”
“Of course, it would be a stolen vehicle,” Giles muttered. “Whatever was I thinking to presume it had been acquired legally.”
Spike just smirked. “Not paying cash for something I can nick just as easy.”
“And car rental places have this crazy thing where they demand you produce a driver’s license before they’ll let you take the car,” Xander pointed out cheerfully, sliding his arm around Spike’s waist. Spike turned his smirk in Xander’s direction.
“Killed a god today, luv.” he reminded Xander, just in case he’d forgotten in the last five minutes. “Fancy a shag?”
He laughed as Xander blushed furiously, shooting a mortified look at Giles, who coughed and pretended that he hadn‘t heard.
“William the Bloody, the god-killer,” Ethan murmured sarcastically. “You’d think no one else did anything at all.” He shot a salacious look at Rupert. “Still, I’ve heard worse ideas for ways to pass the time.”
They strolled out the door and Spike’s smirk remained intact as he heard the two men’s footsteps heading for the bedroom.
“No.” Xander said firmly as they started down the driveway. Spike glanced across at him in surprise.
“No what?” he asked, puzzled.
“You are not calling yourself Spike, the god-killer. Too porn star. Cheesy porn star,” he emphasized.
“Never even crossed my mind, luv,” Spike lied shamelessly.
Xander yawned widely, sliding back down under the sheets and snuggling in next to Spike. It was early enough that Mr. Olsen had been surprised to catch Xander half asleep already when the phone rang. He’d been very apologetic, but Xander had waived off the apologies. He didn’t usually go to sleep this early, even when he had to be on the job-site at dawn, but the relief from the unending tension of the days they’d spent at the mansion had hit him like the proverbial ton of bricks the second they’d gotten back to the familiar surroundings of their apartment. It was one of those times when he wished he had Spike’s stamina. Spike had obviously been hoping for marathon sex games and he’d felt bad when he’d admitted that he was too tired.
“Mr. Olsen says the police found the rest of the crazies - former-crazies -” he corrected himself, “in a vacant lot south of the business district.”
“Yeah?” Spike asked, not sounding very interested.
The mental patients had been gone when Mrs. Olsen had gone to the hospital. Sometime the night before, they had all escaped, breaking through their restraints and simply walking out of the hospital. It boggled Xander’s mind that nearly two dozen people in hospital gowns could just walk out the door of the hospital without someone noticing, but apparently no one saw them leave. Or at least no one was admitting they’d seen anything. Personally, he couldn’t help wondering if someone on the staff was just tired of dealing with the noisy restless patients and had turned a blind eye, hoping for a quiet shift.
“Yeah,” Xander said, with another yawn. “Apparently the police started getting calls not long after Ethan did the spell. The patients didn’t understand where they were or why they were wearing hospital clothes, but almost all of them got better when Willow did.” He sighed. “There are a couple that were traumatized enough that Mrs. Olsen isn’t sure if they’re better or still…brain-sucked, but she’s going to keep an eye on them and see what she can do to help. The rest are being picked up by their families.”
“Good for them. Thought you were tired, luv?” Spike gave him a hopeful look.
Xander kissed him apologetically. “Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate, ok? I’m going to the job site first thing in the morning and begging my boss to let me come back.” He sighed. “I can’t blame him if he tells me to get lost. I’ve missed a lot of shifts in the last few weeks.”
“He’ll take you back,” Spike said reassuringly. “Be daft not to. ‘Sides, not like you were playing hookie. Helping me save the world, weren’t you?”
Half-asleep already, Xander’s lips twitched. Spike wasn’t giving up on that theme any time soon. “Can’t tell him that, though, can I,” he murmured. “Love you.”
“Love you too, Xander,” was the last thing he heard before falling asleep.
Xander came home from work, almost bouncing with energy, despite a long day at the job site. “Spike!” He flung himself on the bed where Spike was blinking up at him sleepily.
“Guess what?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “I made foreman!”
“Thought you were going to be scrubbing latrines for the next week?” Spike reminded him of his own gloomy prediction that morning.
Xander grinned. “Remember Mr. Olsen told us that the crazy people had all ended up in some vacant lot? Well, the police have been scratching their heads all morning because the patients built some kind of wacky tower in the middle of the lot. You should see it, it’s like a giant erector set put together by, well, crazy people. You name it, they used it to build this 60 foot tower. It’s wild!”
“Missing something, luv. This connects to your being made foreman - how?”
“My company got the contract to pull it down. The things not exactly structurally sound. A good stiff wind would blow it over and the town wants it pulled down as soon as possible, if not sooner.” He grinned widely. “Apparently, my boss is punishing me for missing work by making me foreman of the crew that’s going to tear the damn thing down. I’m thinking someone may have told him about my part in blowing up the high school.” He shrugged. “On a more serious note, the tower’s got to have something to do with Glory -”
“The god I killed?” Spike interjected and Xander grinned at him.
“Ex-god,” he pointed out.
“No such thing,” Spike told him dismissively. “Once a god, always a god. Besides, sounds better: Slayer of Slayers, Bane of Dracula, and Destroyer of hellgods.”
“Been working on that, haven’t you?” he asked, amused. “And - gods, plural? I didn’t realize Glory had a sister.” Spike growled at him and he laughed. “Ok, but reverse the order, put the god first. Makes it more impressive.” He still sounded suspiciously amused but Spike obligingly rearranged the order.
“Destroyer of hellgods, Bane of Dracula, and Slayer of Slayers. Not bad,” he decided.
He gave Xander a smack on the ass. “Serious business this is, pet. Got a reputation to maintain.”
“That you’re the baddest vampire in the land,” Xander interrupted, rolling on top of Spike and making himself cozy. “Yeah, yeah. I got it. Of course, Buffy is claiming she killed Glory, and really, Sgt. Morgan and Tiirpak deserve at least a mention in the footnotes…”
“Bit players,” Spike assured him.
Xander laughed and kissed him to make him shut up. “As I was saying,” he said sternly, “with all the mental patients - former mental patients,” he corrected himself with a pleased grin, “wandering around the construction site, wondering why the hell they were building a funky tower in the middle of town for no apparent reason, it has to have had something to do with the ritual. Do you think I should have Giles look at the thing before we start pulling it to pieces tomorrow?”
Spike shrugged, reaching up to brush Xander’s hair out of his eyes. “Don’t matter anymore, luv. Glory’s dead,” Xander laughed again at the shameless self-satisfaction in his lover’s voice, though this time Spike had managed to not actually say that he was the one who killed her. “Glad the loonies have recovered and all, but none of ‘em remember a damn thing you said, so they won’t be giving away any secrets about Dawn.”
Xander couldn’t help the smile that grew at that thought. It felt like he’d been smiling like an idiot all day. Once he’d almost caught himself singing ’Ding dong, the witch is dead.’ Wouldn’t that have gone over well with the crew? “She can be just a normal kid from now on. Isn’t that great?”
“Great,” Spike echoed sarcastically although he couldn’t suppress the affection in his voice. “All we have to worry about is temper tantrums, teen romances, and pimples.”
Xander relaxed against him. “That’s the best thing about being an uncle,” he said complacently. “You don’t have to deal with the messy stuff. That’s what Joyce is for.”
Spike looked around at the tables set up on the back lawn and shook his head. Joyce had outdone herself. The tables were piled with food and the guests were a mixture of species.
Two weeks had passed since they’d killed Glory. The tower she’d built by the ritual had been torn down, numerous patrols had shown no sign of any of her scabby little minions in town. If any had survived, they’d moved on. Dawn seemed to have shrugged off any worries about her true nature, bitching about Buffy not letting her go on patrol and grumbling over having to take summer classes on account of missing two weeks of school like any normal kid.
Buffy’s laugh sent his gaze moving in her direction. She was talking with Glinda and the redhead, excitedly planning for resuming classes next term. There’d been some talk about Red returning to Sunnydale for the fall term. They’d never be friends, but she hadn’t upset Xander even once since she recovered her sanity, so Spike supposed he could learn to live with it if she decided to stay in town. He was even willing to admit it was nice to see Glinda so happy, her face glowing with quiet pleasure as Red absently toyed with her fingers as she talked.
Xander was talking to Rupert, explaining something about his new job, from the look of his gestures. His boy had been pleased and proud that his promotion to foreman had lasted beyond the three days necessary to tear down Glory’s crazy tower and clear the site of the debris. He was the youngest foreman on the site, which he’d explained meant he got all the easy jobs, but the rest of his time was still spent as a journeyman carpenter, and Spike almost regretted that Xander was so eager to roll out of bed at dawn to every morning to leave for work.
The Gem hadn’t changed their lives as much as he’d thought. He wasn’t flaunting it in front of the Court and still lived a mostly nocturnal life. Xander still lived mostly in the sun and their lives intersected morning and afternoon. It wasn’t what he wanted, but it was how it was, and Xander’s love and happiness made everything worth it.
“Sickening, isn’t it?” Rayne’s sardonic voice purred in his ear. To his surprise the chaos mage sat down in the chair next to him and proffered a bottle of beer. “American swill, of course,” he said, taking a large swallow, “but one simply must have something alcoholic to dull the pain.”
“Why’re you here then?” Spike asked, lifting his scarred brow. He took the beer and followed Rayne’s example.
“Same reason you are,” Rayne told him. “I believe the technical term is ‘whipped’.” At Spike’s darkening glare, he shrugged. “What can I say? I’m a realist.” His eyes lingered on Rupert and a small smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “Still, one has to keep up appearances. And sadly, you’re about the only person here I can talk to without risking terminal niceness.”
Spike took another swallow to hide his smile. “To chaos and bloody violence,” he said, lifting his bottle. Ethan clinked his own bottle against Spike’s and they both continued to gaze at their lovers down the table. Xander turned his head at that moment and he smiled as he saw Spike watching him.
‘Love you,’ he mouthed, then turned his head back to listen to Rupert.
“And that’s why were both still here,” Ethan said quietly.
Spike finished his beer and leaned back comfortably in his chair. Drusilla had been right, He had found his destiny on the Hellmouth. Although he wondered if even Dru had been mad enough to see where that destiny had taken him: Master of the Hellmouth, yeah, but in love with a human, who would become his Consort in a few short months, friends with the Slayer, and picnicking with suburban housewives and demons.
He’d never been happier in his life.
PS - Calling this the end is a big ole' lie. There will be an epilogue posted next weekend.