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Ghost in the Machine # 26

OK it's been a while but... hopefully able to get back on track with the writing - kudos to all the wonderful authors who have buoyed up my early mornings in the meantime.

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


The morning saw Xander abandoning all notions of ‘happy fairy’ themes with his sculpture, instead resolving to depict some of the WW1 images that had so upset his dearest, and to settle the matter in a tribute to not just the WW1 but also the WW2 carnage.

Later that day, he found Spike on the back porch, after another session with the wiccans, listening to a rather sad but pointed song by Robbie Williams, and wondered.
William/Spike looked up slowly with a smile that was both resolved and on the edge of ‘knowing’.

“The Mistress has reminded me that we are protected and also… When were you going to tell me … You have a hyena and soldier spirit in you?”

“ I… I’m sorry Wil… It didn’t seem that big of a deal at the time… but yeah… not exactly whole human here… and really haven’t focused on that for a while. But yeah… not fully human me either.”

“Demon magnet makes all sorts of sense now. That why Africa called?”

“I guess it did in an odd sort of way. Never really considered, but I know it was why Willow contacted me and said I had to come here, something about ‘resolving things’. Strange when your oldest friend kind of knows stuff that you have no access to.”

“She’s always been the switched on witch, even when she went all black and scary. Still owe her for me present condition though, don’t I. Now… Let’s talk about the possessions, you telling me I’ve been with more than just the gorgeous Xander of old? Not that I’m complaining but just like to know."

And Spike still worried.

Nightmares plagued that night and Xander woke to whimpering and cries of distress. All he could do was hold on.

William/Spike was strung out and tired in the morning, but tried to put his ‘best foot forward’, quietly pushing the protective glove over Xander’s still aching injured hand and kissing him for good measure, assuring his dear protector, his lover, of his own good spirits.

Xander adjourned to the workshop, William/Spike went to his lessons at the coven and after lunch returned to their home to begin to sketch with charcoal for a time on a number of parchment pieces provided by his fellow students. It was something Mistress Yollanda had insisted he do to ‘resolve some things’.

Engrossed in his task, he was startled when Xander touched his shoulder around four in the afternoon.

“Bloody Hell – give me a right conniption! And now look – even managed to smudge the last bit!”

Xander smiled unrepentant and kissed Spike squarely on the lips before replying,
“Yeah, Mr Unrepentanty here.” Then did it again for good measure.

“You know if I had done that whilst you were carvin’ me I could well have lost a limb… or worse!”

Xander stood back and simply smiled, “Good to have you back. The Mistress has clued me in to some of what you are worrying about, and seems it’s the same as what’s worrying the coven.”

“Don’t tell me… vampire with a soul then ghost then real then in the machine and now a real boy?”

“No.”

“No?”

“It’s far more than that now. You’re here and protected and if I ever get less of the wiggins when I go through that warding spell that’s around here I’ll go ‘he for tiggy’!”

At the last comment Spike (until this point looking concerned) sniggered and raised an eyebrow, which gave Xander the right to smile too. “’He for tiggy’??? Please tell me you haven’t been reading Christopher Robin again or we will seriously have to do ‘Pooh Sticks’ in the autumn.”

Xander gave a sly grin that was met by a, “What?? Don’t you dare grin without an…”

“Pooh sticks? That’s just... Let’s just do it anyways and I’ll put down one warding spell and raise you….”

William/Spike finished the sentence. ”A very good snogging.”

“Well that and just… Can we talk?”

“Sounds ominous, Pet.”

“Not so much with the ominous, just that the Mistress said you’ve been a bit ‘off’ lately, and I’m sorry I haven’t picked that up as well as I should… So talk.” Xander couldn’t help but look at the sketch Spike had been working on.

The title ‘One hand in the fryer’, featured death and mayhem in an nameless ally. It also had the rear view of a blackened version of what could be interpreted as Angel falling to the talons of a huge, winged, not particularly descript, foe… or it may have been someone else, Xander was unsure.

William/Spike put down the board holding the parchment and turned properly to face his savior, or more lately, lover. As he did, a second sketch fell from behind the most recent one, a picture of the back of an angel whose wings were cut off, the back bleeding and the figure holding knife in one hand and severed wings in the other.
William/Spike stared at the second, fallen sketch then raised his eyes to meet Xander’s one.

“Just that innit? Ah geez Xan?! I’m a freak of the unnatural, or more recently the natural thanks to you, and I just don’t seem to know where I fit. Human then not; vampire then not; ghost then back to demon and then nothing; then you save me, and now not even either. And now the coven and you are being targeted *because* of me… And I know, oh yeah I do know this… The demon is there Xan, I can feel it, remember it, still live its memories. And all I can think about is how much I’ve cost you and still a bloody bad excuse for… anything really.”

Xander held up his maimed hand, looked his dearest friend and lover squarely in the eye and stated very slowly, “This was *my* decision, Spike, I would have done anything to get you back here. No regrets OK? You saved…”

“Your other eye. Yeah told me that, but should have saved the first and now not even able to do that. No demon fighting skills here. Condemned to sort sommit with the magicks aren’t I? Learning all sorts of hocus pocus, but it’s not gonna fix anythin’. And now they want Dru. Don’t even know if she’s still around do I?

“Girls at the coven (and boys for the measure) are all nice and such, but I still feel like I’m gonna bring this place down somehow. Giles on our heels ‘n all, and no tellin’ his agenda. And oh yeah, before you mention, I’ve already talked to the Mistress regardin’ the Wolfram ‘n bloody Hart connection. Seems that they’ve done a bit of a number on him - tracked down old records of ‘is Ripper years ‘n using it to push ‘im in that direction again.”

“So you’re telling me Giles is evil? I mean I know he’s been kind of weird about the whole carving Spike thing… then…” Xander paused mid-sentence for a moment as something of the previous rant occurred.

“What if *you* knew that Dru was still around. I mean *really* around. Then they couldn’t touch her right? I mean your demon must be able to feel that… and with a bit of extra mojo… You could tell right?”

“What good would it do?”

Xander grinned then leaned toward Spike for an unannounced quick peck on the cheek,
“It means I can carve her, the W&H mob and Giles (if he’s part of it) try to restore her to the carving and it fails then they’re all off our back!”

“Dunno, Pet. Last I heard she was in Brazil with that…” William/Spike turned his head and spat deliberately on the floor, “Chaos demon then took on Darla in LA… after that… nothing. Not surprising though, was never the one for her despite a hundred plus years of care and concern.”

Xander looked surprisingly pleased, pointed his remaining right finger (thumb tucked away for effect) and stated “So we find out if she’s still around. And if so we carve the thing. Wolfram and Hart don’t get their vampire, and then we sort out what’s happening with Giles. And we’ll sort the rest out. But in the meantime, can you sketch something a little more positive? Hardly a fallen angel to me.” Xander kissed William/Spike soundly then moved to make them both a bowl of soup and bread for dinner (with a ‘beer chaser’).

After Xander fell asleep on the couch with television still blaring, William/Spike took up the computer, did a few monetary transactions then contacted Willow.

“Need your help, Red. Matter of an old girlfriend and a mutual ‘acquaintance’.”


TBC


The song words for Better Man - Robbie Williams

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Go easy on my conscience
'Cause it's not my fault
I know I've been taught
To take the blame

Rest assured my angels
Will catch my tears
Walk me out of here
I'm in pain

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Once you've found that lover
You're homeward bound
Love is all around
Love is all around

I know some have fallen
On stony ground
But Love is all around

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doin' all I can
To be a better man

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