just_ink_me (just_ink_me) wrote in bloodclaim,

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The Skin You're In ~ Complete. Chapters 7-10 of 12

Title: The Skin You’re In
Pairing: Spike/Xander (Xander/Anya - Spike/Buffy implied)
Rating: R-for language and adult themes
Warnings/Squicks: Body Switcheroo’s, M/M Slash, Angst, Dark Willow
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the smut. No infringement intended, none of the characters used herein belong to me. But I wish they did!
Feedback: Yes. Please!
Beta’d by the wonderful, Spike_1790
Summery: During another of Willows’ wonky spells, Spike, Xander and the rest of the Scooby gang face some hard truths and spilt secrets. Set in season six BTVS. Takes place immediately after Smashed.

This was the first story I'd written, finished about two weeks ago, before I figured out how to post to Bloodclaim. So apologies if you've already read some where else. (although this is the first time it's been posted since being beta'd)

                                                 ‘The Skin You’re In’

                                                       Chapter Seven

“So, Wills, not loving the new you,” Xander said much more calmly than he felt. He let Anya move away from him to stand with Buffy and Dawn where they had moved closer to Tara. Spike gave Xander’s hand one more squeeze before letting go to take up a defensive position a few feet closer to Willow.

“So this big plan of yours,” Xander continued “and I’m just guessing here, so let me know if I get it wrong. But the plan, as far as I can tell, was to turn my fiancé back into a demon? But D’hoffrin didn’t want her, did he? No, he wanted you. So the big plan was to trick the most powerful lower being into thinking that Anya was you? Not sounding too bright to me there Wills. But hey, what do I know, right? I didn’t make with the college lifestyle like you and the Buffster here, so I’ll just have to use my construction workers brain here. So, and again I say not so much with the smarty plans now, were you? Ok, so you make Anya look like you? She gets here vengeance on again…..and thanks you? Possible, but not likely. See, Anya’s worked hard to become a real girl and she wants things now that she couldn’t have as a demon.

So, and again, I’m pretty much just guessing here, but the way I figure it, D’hoffrin’s not the kinda guy that likes people trying to get one over on him. And Anya, a newly restored Vengeance Demon who didn’t ask for that privilege, might just have something to say about it after you get your perfect little world back. But I don’t know…..not really, so why don’t we ask the expert? Ahn? You wanna tell Wills what happens if her plans come out the way she’s hoping?”

Anya took a moment to really think about all the implications of her being returned to a demon. Did she want that? What would D’hoffrin do when he realized he had been tricked? Would he welcome her back? Would he shun her, strip her of her powers? Kill her? Getting angrier the more she thought about it, Anya stepped forward to remind them of what over a millennia of killing and wreaking vengeance could for a person’s ingenuity and imagination.

Moving closer to Willow, almost but not quite invading her personal space, Anya concentrated all her emotions on how good it used to feel wreaking vengeance on someone who truly deserved it. Mindful of Spike’s body and using and it to help her intimidate Willow, Anya slowly circled her, examining her before pronouncing her judgment.

“Willow, I think you should know, that I would not be happy to be a demon again,” Anya said slowly and calmly “I like being human. Xander’s right, there are things that I want that I could never have as a demon. Like a family….like children. I want to be able to make life with this body some day. Well, not this body exactly, but we’ll get to that to later. I want to make life, Willow, but if your plan had worked I wouldn’t be able to. You would have taken that away from me,” Anya said angrily as she stared into Willows eyes.

Willow was starting to visibly shake as her fear finally decided to make an appearance.

“So should I tell you what I would do to…..thank you? Or should I tell you what D’hoffrin would do to you? Maybe I should I just start with a few simple facts about vengeance demons first? Hmm? Let’s start therr, ok? Vengeance demons, like I used to be…..we can’t be spelled to forget alternate dimensions. I still remember a world where Buffy never moved to Sunnydale. I remember Xander as vampire, and Cordelia getting killed by a vamp Willow and Xander. Angel getting staked and Buffy having her neck snapped by the Master.” Every one was staring at Anya now. Most had never heard about the alternate dimension, and those who did know, never knew the details before.

Spike was gob-smacked by the thought of a vampire Xander and had newfound respect for Anya as a demon.

“So even if you changed this reality Willow, I would still remember it in the next.” Anya said coolly “I’ll know that you took everything away from me, just to protect your own sorry ass. I’d remember and I’d have the power to do something about it. Sure a vengeance demon can’t make a wish for herself, but I have lots of friends in the biz, ones who wouldn’t mind doing me a little favor. Of course I still like the old fashioned methods the best, I mean it’s all ‘work, work, work’ if you’re not willing to put in the time to do a good job. So I could always start hanging around with Tara, or maybe Dawn. I mean, if she’s always whining like you say, getting her to make a wish that I could use as revenge against you? Probably not that difficult.

But then again let’s not forget about D’hoffrin. He wields the power of the wish, and as being the ruler of Arashmahar it wouldn’t be to difficult for him undo what he had done. And by the way, Xander was right…..D’hoffrin, does not liked being tricked. He’s the reason the demon year does not include April first, and one of the reasons demons tend stay in on All Hallows Eve. Let’s just say the last one to play a trick on him….stayed the last one for a reason.”

Willow was starring wide eyed at Anya, in her mind she could see all the ways that Anyanka and D’hoffrin could make her pay for her scheme. She slowly sank to the floor sobbing loudly, and shaking her head trying to make the images go away.

“I don’t, I…that’s not what I wanted. I.. I was just trying to help!” She gasped “I just wanted to…..to make it right…like it was! Not, not this….I just wanted it to be better….”

Tara gently handed the phone to Buffy, who took it distractedly and hung up with out realizing that Giles had still been on the line listening to everything that had been going on. Tara moved to stand in front of Willow, looking down at her sadly and hoping that maybe this would finally be enough to make Willow see what she had been doing.

“Willow,” Tara said as gently as she could manage “Willow, look at me, I need you to see me when tell you what I have to say.” Willow shook her not wanting to see Tara. Not wanting Tara to see her…..to see how pathetic she really was. Tara gathered all her strength and called on the powerful magic passed down to her from her mother and grandmother and by all the great women of her family. “By the Goddess, I command you to look at me, Willow!” When Willow finally looked up, she knew that she had lost Tara for good. She struggled to keep her head up, although she didn’t bother to get up off the floor, preferring to wallow in misery instead.

“Willow, I told that I would leave you if you didn’t stop misusing magic, and I did. I left you because you betrayed me,” Tara said on a sob. She cleared her throat and continued “I asked you to stop, for me, for yourself, for your friends….but you kept trying to control us. You can’t, Willow. You can’t make things the way you want them, can’t make us be what we’re not. Buffy is sad and scared, she’s afraid of being in the world now. We did that Willow. You, me, Xander and Anya we did that to her. We pulled her out of heaven for us. Not for her. It was wrong Willow, I know that now, I even knew it then but it hurt so much to have everyone I love in pain. So I played my part in that. If Buffy chooses to hate me, or forgive me, or chooses to find her own way through her anguish, then that’s her choice. Not mine…..and certainly not yours.

I might have been able to forgive you one day Willow…..I might have been able to see past all this but….but now I can’t. I can’t Willow. I love you so much but I won’t be used by you! My family used fear to control me, Glory used my mind and….and you’re using me to make your own perfect world. But I can’t……I won’t let you use me like that. I had to leave home because of my family, I had to leave Buffy’s house because of you. I don’t want to have leave Sunnydale and my friends because of you too. So I’m not. You’re going to leave, Willow.”

Willow looked like she had taken a blow to the stomach at Tara’s words. She looked around expecting one her friends to stand up for her, but no one would look her in the eye. Dawn was crying softly on Buffy’s shoulder. Xander and Spike were standing close together, and she could see that Spike was gently rubbing Xander’s back, while he struggled to stay calm. Anya was watching them with sad eyes and a faint smile.

“Giles is coming back, Willow.” Tara’s voice called her back to attention. “Giles is coming. He’ll be here by Monday and he’s going to take you back to England with him. There’s a coven there that he thinks can help you learn to control your powers and….and if not, then they will bind you so that you can’t hurt anyone with your magics any more,” Tara said sadly “This isn’t a punishment, Willow. But you need to leave so that we can live in peace knowing that you’re not trying to control us. It’s not forever, Willow, but if you come back I don’t think that I will stay…..

Spike, Anya, the spell that was used is powerful but it wasn’t meant to be used on a vampire, that makes it weak and less stable. If you give me another hour or two to gather the right ingredients I can break it.

Buffy, I’ve been asked to put a charm on Willow that will make her unable perform even the simplest spell for the next 72 hours, it will also take her voice so that she can’t make a wish. I need you and Spike to hold her still while I perform the spell, then take her home and keep a close watch on her until Mr. Giles comes. Can you do that?” Tara asked, hating to have burden Buffy and Dawn with taking care of Willow but not having any other options.

“Yeah, we’ll keep an eye her. But umm, what about Spike’s chip? I hate to say this but she’s going to fight us holding her down, and that will probably make Spike’s chip go off.” Spike gave Buffy a small nod of thanks for her concern. She smiled gently and turned back to Tara, who was making squiggly lines in the air above Spike head, while every one watched. Tara smiled as she repeated the movements above Anya’s head before moving back to Spike. She gently placed a hand his shoulder and pulled him into a hug.

Spike was a little shocked by the hug Tara graced him with but was even more surprised by what she whispered in his ear. “The chip is gone, Spike. I checked and it’s not in you or Anya. I know I can trust you to do the right thing. I know that you’re a man in love, and that you wouldn’t risk your first real chance at happiness. Do you want me to tell the others?” she asked as she pulled back to look into wide eyes damp with fresh tears. Spike only nodded and pulled her into another hug. Tara kissed Spike on the cheek as he let her go, then he grabbed Xander’s hand to pull him in close for a loud kiss on the lips. Xander was stunned speechless and wobbled on his feet for a moment when he realized the loud gasp he heard from across the room was Buffy. Xander wanted to explain, but was cut off before he say anything by Tara proudly announcing that the chip was gone. Xander took one look at Spike’s face and couldn’t help but pull him back for another quick kiss.

Tara raised her hands to quite the escalating noise of both upset and joy that were filling the room. When everyone was quiet Tara moved to stand in front of Willow again.
“As I said before, the spell that Willow cast wasn’t meant for vampires. It switched various parts of Spike and Anya’s essences. When Willow and Anya explained the spell to me earlier they both said that there had been a huge burst of blinding white light when the spell took place. The white light was most likely a burst of supercharged electricity, which Mr. Giles and I both believed may have damaged the chip. Most likely the spell tried to move the chip from one essence to the other but because of the electricity and the confusion of having a vampire in a spell like this it fried the chip instead of moving it,” Tara said calmly.

Tara gently bent down in front of Willow, who was looking at Spike like she wondered if she would be the main course or the desert for his first meal. Tara gently turned Willow’s head until their eyes met. “There are always consequences Willow, but he wont hurt you,” Tara turned to look at Spike who silently nodded his agreement, then she turned back to Willow, “I promise.”

Tara looked at Buffy then at Spike and motioned them both over. Tara pushed Willow to lie on her back and asked her to close her eyes, then pulled a small crystal pendant from her pocket. “Buffy please hold her shoulders, Spike, hold her legs.” As Tara pressed the crystal to Willows forehead she started to thrash and scream.

“I’m sorry! Please Tara, baby, please, I won’t, I promise I wont do it again! Giles is coming, I promise I won’t do a single spell until he gets here. I won’t! You can’t do this please, please baby, I’ll be good, no more magic I promise I……” Willow went silent as Tara pulled the crystal away, unable to speak now until Giles, the coven or the end of the 72 hour spell released her.

                                                        Chapter Eight

At Tara’s nod Spike and Buffy slowly released a now silently sobbing Willow.

Spike walked back over Xander and wrapped his arms around Xander’s shaking body, while Buffy watched curiously from across the room.

“Tara, I need you tell me about the chip.” Buffy said as she strode to the counter where Tara was preparing the ingredients to reverse the spell that Willow had cast. “How can we know that Spike won’t kill everyone here? I need to know if we can fix the chip before he hurts anyone!”

“Oi!” Spike shouted from across the room as he made his way quickly to where Buffy and Tara were standing by the cash register. Xander hurried to follow him, not wanting to see Spike staked before they could figure out this new thing between them. “Slayer!” Spike growled as he approached them. Buffy was already pulling a stake from her back pocket when Xander reached them, stepping between Spike and Buffy to keep them from killing each other.

“Buffy, wait!” Xander yelled just as she was about to take a swing at Spike. “Just wait, ok! Spike calm down, no one is getting staked tonight!”

Buffy lowered her arm and took a step back with a strange look on her face. “Xander move! Spike is a killer and without the chip there’s no way that he’s not going to try something.”

“Chip didn’t work on you anyway Slayer, did it? Could have killed you when you were shagged out last night, couldn’t I?” Spike said smugly.

Buffy cringed at the gasps that came from around the room. “Spike! That’s it! You’re dust and you don’t even know it yet. I’m gonna have fun sweeping off you the floor later. Xander get out of my way! Now!” She yelled as she lunged for Spike.

Xander shoved Spike out Buffy’s reach and stumbled when she with collided with him. Taking a hard dive towards the floor that stopped abruptly when Spike stepped forward and caught him before he hit the ground. Spike, in game face, turned to glare at Buffy who was searching for her dropped stake when Anya’s screaming stopped them all in their tracks.

“THAT IS MY BODY!” Anya yelled into Buffy’s face. “That is my body you were about to stake! What were you thinking! I don’t want to look Spike for the rest of my life and you were going to dust my body, Not his! Now everyone sit down!” She gave Buffy a scathing glare “SIT!” Buffy moved to the research table and sat, while Xander, Spike and Dawn moved to the couch. Xander held Spike’s hand trying to sooth and calm him before the fight could get started again.

“Spike,” Anya addressed him calmly “are you going to kill everyone?” Spike snorted a laugh and shook his head wrapping an arm around Xander, and giving her a knowing look.

“Wasn’t planning on it, pet.” He said as much to Xander as to Buffy and Anya.

Buffy gave Spike a wide eyed glare, and then took in the way he was holding Xander. She narrowed her eyes as she let loose a string of curses that even Spike looked impressed by. “What the fuck is going on here?! Why are you and Xander holding hands and snuggling on the couch? Xander that’s not Anya! Spike what did you do to him? Get away from Xander!” Buffy yelled as she started to get up from her seat at the table.

“SHUT UP,” Anya yelled at Buffy again. “And Sit down! I wasn’t finished yet. Buffy, Xander knows that isn’t me. That’s why we’ve been here for the last three hours! Now if you’ll calm down I can explain,” Anya paused to make sure she had every ones attention before she continued.

“Xander is in love with Spike,” She said reasonably. Every one but Spike and Tara looked shocked. Even Willow, who had been so wrapped up in her own self pity, looked up sharply at this turn of events.

Xander ducked his head and tried to hide the blush that was blossoming across his face. Spike lifted Xander’s chin and pulled him in for a soft kiss, before turning back to give Buffy one of his trademark leers, which looked out of place on Anya’s features.

“And I’m fairly certain that Spike is also falling in love with Xander,” Anya said pointedly as she watched Spike lift Xander’s hand to his lips and casually kiss the palm of his hand, before lacing their finger together. “Also, Xander and I have decided to call off the engagement…..and the wedding. But we are going to remain friends. Oh, and I will be keeping any gifts that we received already,” Anya said with a smile. “Willow, you don’t’ have to get me a wedding gift now, but I will be seeking monetary compensation for my pain and suffering, considering that this is all your fault. When you get your voice back we’ll work out the details. I know a demon lawyer with good rates that I can recommend you to.

Now, Tara can explain about the chip. But please no more fighting. I still have to make hotel arrangements for the night and I want to be back in my own body before I leave,” Anya finished tiredly

“B…Buffy?” Tara asked shyly to get Buffy’s attention. “The chip didn’t work on you? Do you want me to look into that?” Buffy nodded miserably “Ok we can do that tomorrow then, alright?

I did look at Spike and Anya’s essences and the chip really is gone. I….I think it might have disintegrated during the spell. But I….I don’t think Spike wants to kill us,” Tara looked at Spike as she said this, and Spike nodded in return.

“I don’t. Already bloody said that,” Spike told Buffy as he stood to address the group. “I could have killed you last night, or this morning when….well you know when. I’m not gonna lie, I am a killer,” he said evenly as looked around the room and met each person’s eyes squarely before moving on to the next. His eyes settled on Buffy again before continuing. “I’m a vampire. I kill to feed, to survive and sometimes just cause I bloody feel like it. But, I’m not going to risk this,” he said looking at Xander again. “I’ve been around for near bloody forever and in almost 150 years I’ve found exactly one person who loves me. Not for what I can do for them, not for what they can make me into….but for who I am,” Spike said quietly, his voice choked with emotion.

“I’m not quite the git you lot take me for. I want this….I want Xander. And I’m not gonna bollocks that up, by killing all his mates. I’m not saying I won’t kill to survive, to protect myself and the people….the people I love. But I won’t kill to feed. I give my word to you Xan….I won’t do anything to risk this. To risk us.” Xander grabbed Spike’s hand and pulled him back down to the couch and into a hug.

“Buffy, I know you don’t believe Spike, but I do. It’s been a long damn night and I want to get out of here. Tara can you do the reversal spell? I’m still kinda waiting on my first kiss here,” Xander said with a goofy smile for Spike.

Tara smiled sweetly and went to finish the preparing the reversal spell.

“Wait! Buffy, you slept with Spike?” Dawn squeaked, finally working out where Buffy had been the night before.” You said you were monster fighting all night! Eewww. Is that why Spike looks all beat up? And, and Spike! I thought you were in love with Buffy, but now you’re in love with Xander? What the hell is going here?” she demanded.

“Nibblet, watch your tongue,” Spike warned.
“Dawn!” Buffy said at the same time.

While the group was focused on Dawn and trying to come up with explanations fit for a teenager, Willow had made her way across the floor to them and silently picked up Buffy’s fallen stake.

‘I have to fix this!’ Willow thought to herself ‘They’re all crazy! Xander can’t be in love with Spike…that’s….that’s insane! Poor Xander. This must have something to do with the spell going wonky, but I can fix it. I just need to get to Spike…..’ she thought as she moved closer to the distracted group. Hiding the stake by keeping her hand in the loose folds of her skirt, as she inched closer to them.

“Ok, I think I’m ready now,” Tara said as she came around the counter. She gently guided Spike and Anya away from the rest of the group, as Dawn kept pushing at Buffy and Xander for more info on who was sleeping with Spike.

Willow had moved close enough that she was able to lean casually against the large glass display counter as Tara directed Spike and Anya to stand in the original circle for the spell.

“I need you face each other and when I sprinkle the herbs over you, you each need to say your own name. There will probably be another bright flash of light, so just be prepared for that ok?” She asked, smiling gently at them.

“Thanks Glinda, you’re a luv. Now then, let’s get this over with, yeah! I’ve got plans to get to,” Spike said as he leered at Xander across the room.

Spike stood facing Anya, with his back to the counter, watching Xander from the corner of his eye as he waited to be switched back to his own body. ‘Can’t wait to be able hold him with my own arms finally. Oh, Xan luv, gonna make you mine. Now that I’m free of that blasted chip, I’m gonna taste you pet…..gonna mark you. Let the whole bloody world know who you belong to,’ Spike thought possessively.

Tara stepped into the circle ready to begin. “I’m going sprinkle this mixture over each of you. Once it is done I’ll step out of the circle and you will each call your own name to finish the spell,” she looked to each of them to make sure they understood her instructions before she began.

“With these words, let this spell be broken,” Tara intoned as sprinkled herbs over Anya. “Set right the wrong that has been done,” she said as she repeated the process over Spike. “Let the spell be ended. By our will so mote it be!” Tara stepped back from the circle and nodded to Spike and Anya.

Looking at each other, or rather at themselves Spike and Anya completed the spell reversal by calling aloud their own names.

A bright light flashed between Anya and Spike knocking them both out at the same moment.

Xander rushed forward, while the rest of the group gathered around Tara as she started to sway unsteadily on here feet. Unsure if the reversal had worked he knelt down next to Anya’s body, not noticing Willow quickly edging towards Spike.

Xander gently ran his fingertips over Anya’s cheek “Spike? Anya? Come on wake up…..tell me you’re ok. Spike, please be alright,” Xander said softly as he knelt over Anya’s prone body. Xander noticed movement from the corner of his eye and turned to see if Spike? Anya? was coming around. Instead what he saw had him struggling to get to his feet as he watched Willow raise her arm high above Spike’s body.

“Willow NO!” Xander screamed, as he watched her arm bring the stake down towards Spike’s chest as if in slow motion. He could see Spike eye’s opening blearily, could see the flash of recognition and cold hatred in his suddenly golden eyes, as he lunged to the left, taking the blow in his shoulder as her stake pierced him.

In a riot of movement every thing seemed to happen at once. Buffy was racing towards Willow, Xander had fallen to his knees as the stake had come down at Spike. Dawn was crying, clinging to an increasingly angry Tara. Anya was struggling to move away from the sudden commotion. And Willow was fighting to pull the stake out for a second attempt at dusting Spike.

A loud subsonic boom suddenly shook the walls around them and Willow was thrown back across the room and away from Spike by an invisible force.

“THAT IS ENOUGH!” a deep angry voice shouted into the frenzy, stilling all of them at once.

“Giles?” Buffy asked into the stunned silence around her.

                                                        Chapter Nine

Twenty minutes later…….

“I’m going to stop by the apartment on my way to the hotel to pick up some of my things,” Anya said, as she gave Xander a hug good bye. “I’ll be by on Sunday to start packing. You do understand that I expect you to do most of the heavy lifting? Right? Maybe we should get Buffy and Spike to help too. All that super strength has to good for something, don’t you think? Oh! Since you’re gay now….does that mean I can be your “Fag Hag,” and we can go shopping together?” she asked excitedly.

Xander groaned and buried his face in hands as he watched Dawn a few feet behind Anya start turning purple as she tried to choke back her laughter. Even sweet, innocent Tara was having trouble trying to keep a straight face, as she herded Dawn towards the front door of the shop.

‘Ok, suddenly feeling less guilty for the breakup here,’ Xander thought to himself, as he tried to find the right words to answer Anya’s questions. “Ahn, and let me just say first….HUH? Ok, moving on. You’re my friend. No matter what happens you will always be my friend. That being said, I’m not gay. I’m bi.…or I might be bi. But since I haven’t gotten to that part yet, I’ll you know. Either way, I hate shopping. That’s not going to change no matter who I’m involved with. Also we are not using my best friend and my….my vampire as pack horses to haul your stuff!” Xander said loudly.

Xander took a few calming breaths before trying to speak again. “Ahn, it’s been a really long night already. Why don’t you go ahead and get Tara and Dawn back to Buffy’s house and I’ll call you tomorrow, ok? I still need to talk with Giles before I can leave, so I won’t be back to the apartment for a while yet. Just take whatever you need, and I’ll help you pack up the rest later.”

“Ok sweetie…..Xander. I mean, ok Xander. Guess it might take me a little while to get used to being single again,” Anya said as she looked from Xander to Spike, who had moved closer to them, saying good night to Dawn and Tara.

Xander was about to say something reassuring to her when she cut him off by loudly announcing, “Although, now that Giles is back maybe I’ll ask him out on a date. He’s a very good kisser,” she said on a sigh. Xander, Spike, Dawn and Tara all stared at Anya with gaping mouths and stunned expressions.

“I don’t want to know. I do not want to know!” Xander said.

“I do” Spike and Dawn said at the same time. Xander cut Anya off by quickly guiding her to the front door of the shop. “Ok! Time to go! Don’t want you to over sleep and not open the store I on time tomorrow, right?” Xander said as he ‘gently’ shoved Anya, Dawn and Tara out of the store, giving each a kiss on the cheek as he pushed them out the door.

Once the door was safely closed Xander felt strong arms wrap around his waist from behind. He leaned back into the cool embrace, suddenly letting himself deflate now that the girls had left. He let out a shuddering breath thinking of all they had to do regarding Willow and all the mayhem caused tonight.

“Hey Spike. Mmm….this is nice,” he said, as he wrapped his arms around Spike’s. “How’s your shoulder?”

“It’s fine, pet. Had some blood while you were saying your goodbye’s. I’m more worried about how you’re hold’n up. Know how much you care bout Red. Been a hell of a night, luv. What say we get the rest of it over with and head out, yeah?” Spike said gently, as he nuzzled behind Xander’s ear.

“Yeah. Giles and Buffy are in the training room with Willow. Let’s go see what they need us to do and then we can go home,” he said as he started pulling away from Spike.

Spike suddenly gripped a little tighter onto Xander before turning him around so he could look into his eyes. “Home?” Spike asked curiously. “I live in a crypt mate. Believe you’ve been there a time or three, yeah? You askin’ me back your place then?” he asked with his head tilted slightly to the side and a wondering gleam in his eyes.

“Um….yeah?” Xander said uncertainly. “I know it’s not perfect. I mean Anya hasn’t even packed yet, and it has that huge window in the living room. But I figure we can cover the windows until we find a place that’s that right for both of us, you know? I mean with all the money I had saved for the wedding plus the raise that I got last month, I think we’ll be able to find a place pretty quickly,” Xander babbled until Spike coved his mouth with one of his hands.

“Breathe, pet. That’s it. Better now?” Spike asked as Xander tried to suck in huge gulps of air through his nose.

“Mmm mmhummm mm hnmmn!”

“Oh. Right,” Spike said with a sheepish grin as he pulled his hand back from Xander’s mouth. “Did you just ask me to move in with you?” Spike asked trying to hide to his surprise behind a smirk.

“Maybe?” Xander squeaked. “I mean….um…kinda, yeah. Too soon? It’s just that, I want you to, you know? I mean we’ve known each other for years, right? And you did live with me once before…..although you gotta wash your own blood mugs this time. ‘Cause I may be in love with a vampire, but still, not so much for scrapping dried blood out of my mugs, ya know? I can I just say that there will be no wet towels on the floor….mmhf!”

Spike decided there was only one way that he was gonna be able to break through all that babble. He wrapped one arm tightly around Xander’s shoulders and cupped his face with his free hand, as he proceeded to finally share a true first kiss with his boy.

Xander, quickly became entranced by the cool lips and tongue playing across his mouth. His lips parted on a sigh, and he felt Spike’s tongue gently lapping at his bottom lip before snaking in farther to entice his own into a wicked duel. He felt himself growing more daring in their embrace, and swiftly started running his hands up and down Spike’s sides. Then lower to feel the strong solid muscles of Spike’s back and thigh’s, finally settling on his ass and giving a firm squeeze.

Spike groaned as he felt Xander mapping his body with his hands. Xander swiftly took control of the kiss and started to trace Spike’s teeth and gums with his tongue. He pressed into the space behind Spike’s canines where his fangs would be when in game face, and was happily surprised by the soft growl that action produced.

Xander pulled back slightly to gasp in much needed air and looked into the eyes of his soon to be lover. The blue was sparking heavily with flakes of gold, and he knew Spike was trying to hide is demon face. Xander wanted all of him and moved back in suddenly acting more aggressive than Spike had ever seen from him before. Xander moved one hand up into Spike’s gelled hair and tightly clenched it in his fist. He nuzzled into Spike’s neck and then carefully bit at his earlobe before whispering to the demon inside the man he craved. “Change,” he said softly but with a commanding tone that had Spike struggling to obey.

Xander looked into the now golden eyes of his vampire before gently, tenderly running his tongue over a fang. Xander wrapped his tongue around it tightly and then forcefully pulled it over the sharp edge, neatly slicing his tongue before pushing in to let his blood drip into Spike mouth.

Spike’s eye’s widened in shock at the first sweet taste of his boy’s blood. He growled into the kiss and silently vowed that he was keeping this boy. His Xander, forever. This was the kind of passion and desire he had always craved. And no one, not Sire or Slayer, had ever been able to give him. But this boy….this MAN did!

“Mmm hmm,” Giles cleared his throat loudly trying to get the attention of the two males sucking face in the middle of his shop.

“Oh, um, hi Giles!” Xander said with a goofy smile as he gently and inconspicuously tried to remove the hand that had somehow snaked its way into to the back of Spike’s jeans.

Spike wrapped his own right arm around Xander’s waist as he offered an unrepentant grin to Giles and Buffy as they came back out of the training room.

“Guess we should talk, huh? How is Willow?” Xander asked as his Spike-induced euphoria started to wear off and remembered why they were all still here.

“She’s sedated at the moment,” Giles said, raising hand to forestall any questions about his methods. “A sleep spell, as it were. Nothing dangerous Xander, I promise. I fear that it may be best to keep her under however, at least until I can transfer her powers to the coven in Devon.

Willow is far too great a risk at this moment to allow her to continue using magic. If they can help her to learn to control her powers then she will recover them….over time.”

“How did you get here so fast? I thought it was going to take a couple of days for you to get here?” Buffy asked softly, not looking at Spike and Xander as she spoke.

“One of the seers in the coven had a vision. Just after someone here hung up on me, they were able to ring through. They told me of a most powerful witch here in Sunnydale, turned dark with rage, that was going to attempt to…uh kill…our, ah….Vampire Champion.”

Xander smiled widely at Spike. Buffy wore a look of shock with her mouth gaping, and Spike stood on suddenly shaky legs with a gob smacked look on his face.

Giles continued with a slight smirk “Yes. Well, they then were able to imbue with me some of their own powers and helped me to teleport here, before anymore damage could be done. Now then, I would to like know what has been happening here. I gathered some bits from Tara while I was on the phone before, but mostly about the spell and it’s effects.

I would like to know, in detail, what exactly I may have missed while I was away,” he said tenderly, looking between his three bewildered children. ‘Although Spike is hardly a child,’ he reminded himself. Still he had earned his place here and Giles intended to make that clear to him.

“What do you want to know Giles?” Buffy said harshly. “You want to know how Willow’s been abusing her powers? How I didn’t notice since I’ve been too wrapped up in my own stupid stuff? How about how I’m broke and looking into getting hired into the exciting field of fast food? I know, how about how you left us! How you left me, after you knew where I’d been, what I‘d been through. Or maybe you want to know about how I’ve been using Spike,” she said disgustedly. “How I used him just so I could feel, something….anything other than this emptiness.”

The men stood in confused silence for a moment as they watched their slayer collapse into a seat at the table sobbing quietly to herself.

Spike was the first to recover from his shock at Buffy’s outburst. He carefully disentangled himself from his boy and gracefully dropped to his knees in front of her. He reached out and gently laid a hand on a shaking shoulder. “Slayer? Buffy….c’mon look at me luv,” Spike reached out and lifted her face so their eye’s could meet. “You never used me, pet. I know how hurt you’ve been. I would’ve done anything for you, anything you asked I would have done. It’s not about me pet, it’s you. Always been you. I figured it out…..recently,” he said with a small smile. “I love you Buffy, but it’s not romantic love. I know that now.

I love your fire, your strength, your undying spirit. You could never use me luv, we’re family. And this,” he said wiping away her tears, “this here, this proves how much you feel. Never doubt that, pet,” Spike stood and gently kissed the top of her head as he made his way back towards a teary eyed and smiling Xander.

                                                       Chapter Ten

Xander reached out to Spike, grabbing his hand and pulling him in for a quick deep kiss, that he hoped might say all the words that were currently choked up in the back of his throat. He pushed Spike back a little and gave him a sweet smile and a kiss to the tip of his nose before letting go and sweeping Buffy up into a tender hug.

Giles gave into his emotions then and gently laid a hand on each of their shoulders before Buffy and Xander looked at each other and then pulled him into a group hug. “I’m so sorry Buffy. Can you ever forgive me? All of you” he said, looking at both Xander and Spike to make sure that they were included in his apology. “I should never have left. I….I had thought that I made it harder for you, being here and not allowing you all to stand on your own. I was wrong, I can see that now.”

Buffy pulled herself together and gave Giles a small smile. “I should have asked for help, Giles. It’s not like this is all your fault. We’ve all done things and kept secrets. If I had told everyone what I was going through then maybe I would have been around more to see what was happening with Willow,” Buffy pulled away from Xander and Giles, moving to sit at the table, where Spike had already settled himself.

Xander sat on the bench next to Spike and felt a small thrill when Spike pulled him closer and wrapped an arm around his waist. Giles watched with a warm smile, before sitting next to Buffy.

“Hey, it wasn’t only you either Buff. I mean, I’ve known Wills practically since birth, and I knew she was getting out of control when Tara left. I just got so wrapped in the wedding, and Anya, and all my own fears that I never got around to having out with her, ya know? We’ve all made mistakes,” Xander said quietly, reaching over to hold her hand and giving reassuring squeeze.

Spike could see how exhausted everyone was and brought the conversation round full circle. “So what’s to be done about Red, then, Rupes?“ he asked not unkindly.

Giles sighed and removed his glasses for a much needed polishing. “I’m not quite sure actually. Like I said before, she’ll sleep now until I can teleport her back to the coven. I’ll most likely stay there with her for a few weeks, until she grasps the severity of this problem, and can accept that she needs real help and training for her powers. I can only hope that she’ll recover. The truth of it is, the magic is a part of her now. The coven can transfer it to a vessel for a short time, but the magic will by its very nature flow back into her over time. The coven is a powerful group, and will in fact determine her fate. I can only help to guide, in the end the decision is theirs alone.

It is possible that she will be able to recover, if not however there are few options for controlling such a powerful Wicca.”

“But she’ll be ok right?” Xander asked, starting grow more concerned about his oldest friend. “I mean they can just take her powers? Or.…or bind them or something right? Just make her plain old Willow again. What kind of options are we looking at here, G’man?” Xander said, trying his hardest to lighten the mood.

“Xander, you must understand, the power is a part of her. They could not remove it with out risking her life. If she refuses the help the coven offers her, at best she will remain there, as prisoner of sorts. She would be well looked after, but for all intents and purposes she would be lost to us. The coven would be forced to put her into a type of stasis, if you will, she would be only partially aware and unable to move or speak.

Other options are even more dire I’m afraid. I am sorry Xander, but there is the chance that the coven will choose to send her to an alternate dimension or……be forced to….to kill her, I’m afraid,” Giles said miserably.”

“NO! You can’t do that!” Xander screamed. Spike pulled him close and wrapped his arms around his boy, when Xander started to sob.

“Not Rupert’s fault, pet. Hush luv, t’will be all right. Shh now, c’mon. Red’s a smart bird, luv. She’ll get her head on straight and she’ll be fine. It’ll be all right luv, you’ll see,” Spike crooned gently to him, as he rubbed his back and tried to comfort his love.

Buffy watched in silence as her most recent lover comforted her best friend. ‘He really loves him,’ she thought with a small pang of regret for what might have been.

“When…..will you take her?” Xander asked as he finally got his emotions under control.

“Now. It’ll be easier to do it now while I can teleport the both of us back with the power the coven loaned me,” Giles said.

“I want to talk to her. Before you take her, I want to talk to her. I….I might not get another chance, please Giles…..let me talk to her,” Xander quietly begged.

“Of course, Xander. I can lift the sleeping spell but it might be best to keep the silencing spell on her for now,” Giles said, trying to make it clear that it might be dangerous to them if Willow’s voice was returned now.

Xander silently nodded his understanding, and turned to look at Spike. “Go on, luv. I’ll be here for you when you get back Xan. Promise,” Spike gave him a soft kiss before pushing him to follow Giles towards the training room.

Spike waited until Xander and Giles had disappeared behind the closed door to the training room, before standing and starting to pace. He pulled out and lit a smoke as he tried to figure out how to help his boy through this. ‘Picked a hell of time to tilt the boat, Red. Then again, wouldn’t have my boy now if weren’t for you bollocks’ing up another sodding spell.’

Buffy cut off his inner diatribe by stepping in front him, and taking hold of the hand not currently half way to his mouth with a fag. He stopped trying to pace, and waited for the inevitable stake to the heart, and was momentarily shocked when it didn’t immediately come.

“You really love him, don’t you?” she asked wonderingly. “I mean Anya said you did, but….I guess I thought she was crazy. But you do, don’t you? How…I mean when, when did you fall for him? And….and I thought you liked girls!” Buffy said with a kind smile.

“Guess Angelus never shared our torrid past with ya, eh?” he said with a smug smirk.

Buffy’s eye’s got wide, and her face was a lovely shade raspberry before she said indignantly, “Never. Tell. Me!” When it looked like Spike might speak she raised her hand. “Nuh uh. Never, never, ever tell me!”

Spike let loose a bark of laughter and looked at her noticing that she too was trying to hold back a laugh. “Sure, slayer, spoil all my fun, why don’t you.” Spike said with a fake pout. “But did you ever notice how if you kissed that one spot behind his left ear, he would kinda shiver all over. Or how you could feel that tattoo of his with your tongue?” he asked innocently.

Buffy backed away from him, shaking her head. “Eewww, Spike! I said, Never tell me! Evil dead guy, now I need to bleach my ears,” she huffed, while desperately Not wondering if Spike knew about that ticklish spot behind Angel’s right knee.

After a few minutes when they had clamed down some Spike turned to her with a serious expression. “Yeah, I do,” he said, quietly referring to her earlier questions. “As for when? Tonight, last year, when Angel offered him to me maybe….don’t know really. But as for the how, that one I can tell you. I love him for all the same reasons I thought I was in love with you. Except more…..bloody hard to describe. With you, I….I wanted to pull you into the darkness with me. To keep you there so I wouldn’t be alone anymore. But Xander makes me feel like I’m bathed in light. Poncey as it sounds. I don’t want to keep him in the dark with me, I want to follow him into the sun,” Spike quirked an eyebrow at her. “Does this make any bloody sense to you?” he asked.

“Yeah, it does,” Buffy said with slight smile. “And since Willow is kind of out it, I guess that means I get to be the one to give you the ‘Shovel Talk’,” she said with a gleam in her eye as she walked towards him and pointed a finger in face. “I have a shovel and I know how use it mister! If you hurt our Xander, I will hit you over the head with it, or in your case break the handle and stake you with it,” she looked at him and shrugged. “It’s much more intimidating the way Wills does it, but I think you get the general idea.”

Spike stared at with wide unbelieving eyes. “Did you just….give me permission to date Xander?” he asked.

“Maybe,” she answered coyly. “I mean if I was gonna let someone date my best friend and almost brother……I guess he could do worse than a Champion.” she said with a smug smile.


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