rngrdead (rngrdead) wrote in bloodclaim,
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Ghost in the Machine # 29

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


Part 29

Dinner was a triumph, and Spike could hardly take his eyes off Xander for long enough to remember to eat as Xander recounted their day of adventure with such enthusiasm that he positively glowed. Spike was also happy that his partner addressed him as William and omitted any details of their financial transactions, only alluding to the fact with an effusive description of the foyer of the bank, which even Spike had to admit was impressive.

Of the three outfits purchased for his ‘significant other’ on their little shopping adventure, Xander had chosen to wear the dark grey fitted pants, white silk button down shirt and the ‘chinese collar’ style, mid length black jacket with fine red detailing that literally spelt *expensive*. The 1kt diamond earring in his right lobe and gold bracelet on his left wrist were utterly appropriate, and the new haircut (still ‘fashionably long’ but now styled perfectly) completed the look. The eye patch was still in place, but for the first time in public, Xander had chosen not to wear the modified glove on his damaged right hand.

Spike worried at the semi-embarrassed smile from his partner as Xander discretely put down his utensils and placed the hand in his lap whenever approached by the waiter, who seemed to continually interrupt the meal with very polite, but what Spike considered, ‘over attention’.

In the end, however, Spike had to admit enjoying every moment of the meal, particularly the look of pure joy on Xander’s face as the ‘dessert’ cart was presented and liquor coffees provided.

His own human experience of eating human food was still new. He was pleased that the portions were moderate to small, but the repast wonderful. He finally asked for a pen and sent a beautifully scribed note to the head chef with their thanks as they sipped their coffees.

Xander was amazed as the Chef d’ Jour, in full formal uniform, approached the table just as they were about to leave and thanked ‘Monsieur Aurelius’ for his compliment, and invited them to dine again ‘very soon’ in rather broken English.

Spike answered in fluent French, “Comment avons-nous osé pas ? Votre restaurant est venu fortement - recommandé par un ami, Jean-Paul, et nous n'ont pas été déçus. Veuillez féliciter également votre personnel, comme je sais que nous avons seulement deux ans de vos wagon-restaurants ce soir. Chaque cours a été spectaculaire.”

The head chef seemed most pleased, ordered a round of Cognac for the table, and departed. But a rather puzzled Xander had to ask, in a whisper, “What did you write, OK and say?! Missed the French classes at school, but he seemed pretty pleased.”
Spike leant over and just as conspiratorially, “Let him know on the note who I was, and simply told the bloke when he was here, that Jean-Paul had recommended here; that the meal was terrific; and he and his staff should be congratulated. ‘S only polite. Even Angelus would have done that… well and eaten that bloody waiter, but still…”

Xander sat perfectly still for a moment, then leant over to take Spike’s hand with his good one, “I keep forgetting to tell you how amazing you are! And I keep forgetting how much history you carry with you. Also I keep forgetting to remind myself how extraordinarily well you are dealing with the whole ‘human/demon’ thing… but most of all, I keep forgetting to tell you how much I love you… And I *really* do.” He rubbed the back of Spike’s hand gently with his thumb, “I really, honestly do… William Aurelius… I love you.”

Spike stared for a moment into the almost teary chocolate colored eye, then sniffed hard, cocked his head a little and let his now brunette locks that had fallen loose from their tie, cover one of his *green* eyes, and smiled back at the sincere gent who had restored him, “Yeah well that kind of makes two of us mate.”

He kissed the back of Xander’s hand then released them and grabbed his glass of Cognac, “So come on… Drink up, cause I reckon there’s a spa back at the hotel’s got our name on it. And tomorrow gotta book us some tickets to Paris.”
Xander looked a little perplexed at the last statement, “Paris?”

“Gonna find Dru and sort this mess once and for all.”

“How will we find her… I mean, Paris is huge and even if we do…”

“Trust me Pet, still got the demon remember? Hers will call to mine and can’t be too hard from there.”

Xander frowned and stared into his half finished coffee, then added with a further measure of concern, ”But you’re human now S..William, what if she decides to eat you… or me?”

“Dru’s may be a little addled in the noggin but not to the point of that. She always sees things, and I reckon she wouldn’t have come away from her Chaos squeeze…” at that point in the quiet conversation, Xander could have sworn that Spike almost spat on the floor, then looked up with begging eyes and in a near whisper said, “Just want to keep her *and you* safe.”

Xander simply nodded. Drinks were finished, the bill paid by Spike and the adjourned to the hotel where Spike immediately went online, booked the tickets to Paris and hand wrote a thank you to Jean-Paul in anticipation of their departure around lunchtime the next day. He had intended they would stay for a few more days, but getting to Dru *before* she ate too many of the Paris inhabitants and drew attention to herself was of utmost importance. Anyway, if all went well, he knew they would be back to Geneva… often.
………………

Sarah was desperate, particularly as she discovered via the coven, that Xander had gone ‘abroad with a friend’ for a two week holiday. The details were vague at best, nevertheless she rang the Wolfram and Hart offices in London, Paris, Rome and Berlin, in the hope their ‘tendrils’ might track down something – even if it was only to do with ‘the friend’ who had obviously distracted Mr Harris from the task of carving the statue for the company.

A day later she was presented with a CTV image of Xander and an unknown dark headed male entering Heathrow’s British Airway’s Courtesy Lounge. The picture was entirely unhelpful regards identifying the dark haired ‘friend’ but from other information, they were travelling business class to Switzerland.

She was in the process of typing furiously to report her findings to Lilah when her phone ‘pinged’ twice in quick succession indicating text messages.

“Schweiz - Subject of interest- location of stay not found. Reason for visit – unknown.”

And the second, “Schweiz - Subject of interest, on the move to Paris. Will track. ‘Friend’ still unknown.”

For Sarah it was something, and somewhat of a relief.

Lilah had been gripping the beautifully constructed red Oregon pine table hard enough to make splinters as the phone went off in her meeting with the ‘stupid girl’ but was happy enough with the results to smile (something that did not reach her eyes) as her underling Sarah promised tracking Mr Harris via their Paris office. Lilah could not put a finger on it, but there was something about the recently maimed sculptor that did not ‘add up’.

She knew his Hellmouth background and had done the research regarding various possessions, liaisons, and long time assistance to the Sunnydale slayer, then his time in Africa and move to the coven. And yet this man was somewhat of a mystery. What was his agenda? Why had he carved the image of Spike given that all her ‘intel’ had found that he hated vampires generally, and particularly William the Bloody? In the end she had little option but to decide that he was a ‘closet gay’(given that he had numerous failed female relationships) and that the representation was little more than a crush on a long dead vampire whom he had hosted in his apartment on two different occasions for an extended period of time.

But there was hope for him yet… and it seemed as though he had committed to carving the image of the illusive paramour of the same vampire – the ex partner (and useful tool of W&H) Drusilla. It was only a matter of time now. His injuries were real, and with a new squeeze there was leverage.

She could wait, and wondered how they could push , just a little, using his new ‘friend’ (whoever he was) as the prompt.
………………
Their trip to Paris was a swift and delightful one. He and Spike had hardly been in the air twenty minutes before the seatbelt sign illuminated again to indicate their landing.

Upon arrival, they were ushered through customs swiftly. Spike had a (coven produced) European passport and Xander a permanent work visa for the European Union so the processing was very straight forward.

They ensconced themselves in yet another extraordinary ‘William Aurelius’ owned boutique hotel, not too far from the Louvre. Once again the manager was part demon and the hotel well warded. It was a relief as both men were aware that Wolfram and Hart had an office in the city and would be tracking them if they could.

Exquisitely appointed, their room was, again, the picture of pure luxury with a small balcony opening onto the pretty Paris scene. Xander noted the heavy curtains and wondered for a moment before realizing that his ‘William’ had probably stayed there in his vampire years. Spike saw the object of his gaze and guessed the reason. He reached for then squeezed Xander’s good hand as they put down their luggage.

“Bought it in the sixties, Dru used to love Paris at night.”

Xander simply nodded and said a very quiet, “Oh.”

Spike frowned for a moment, “Look… If you don’t like the décor I can change it pronto, own the bloody place after all.”

Xander turned, kissed his partner and quickly added, “Don’t change a thing. I was just… well thinking I guess… Thinking not always of the good.”

“’S fine Pet. But you do know we are staying here, in this city, to find Dru, and she loved this hotel. Figured this was just the spot to wait then we start lookin’.”

Xander frowned, “And what if she doesn’t come here? How are we going to do that? I mean… And you’re human now and so am I! If she’s still killing then… what if she decides to…”

Just at that moment, the phone in the suite rang. Spike swiftly retrieved the handset and several “Hmmm, yes, alright”s occurred.

Xander looked curious, and worried all at once. Spike placed the phone back in its cradle and simply said, “Number one problem solved Pet. She’s downstairs.”

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