Perchance to Dream
“Name?” The bored soldier barked with his machine gun aimed at the nose before him.
He remained calm, despite the flash of fear streaking up his spine and the gun aimed in his face, if this failed. “Harris, Alexander- Human.” He handed over his clearance card.
The soldier took the little plastic card, adjusted his smog mask with the same hand, and finally scanned the card through a machine attached to his hip. “You’re cleared for three hours Mr. Harris. Please enjoy your stay.”
Xan took the card back and quickly walked towards the gate. As it opened, he called over his shoulder, starting towards the large building. “Yeah, thanks. I will.”
From the outside the building looked like any other. After the fall, all building looked tore up from the floor up, but this. This had a menace, a presence that filled him with dread. Maybe it was the building itself. Maybe it was what he knew. Xander paused mid-step. Shit, he’d forgotten to ask the soldier if there’d been any arrests today. At least that way he would’ve known if they had made it. There was no going back now. He’d just have to hope.
There were two more checkpoints before he actually made it to the door. He now only had two hours before he had to meet the team in the fourth floor utility closet. He’d studied the building plans for weeks and Will had quizzed him endlessly. Now there was no doubt in his mind that he could find the closet, but finding what they had risked their lives for. That was a whole other matter.
The lobby was crawling with soldiers. He kept his head down. The carpet looked new, dark red and fluffy. He hoped he was leaving acid rain induced rubber marks on it as he walked towards the walls. Each onyx covered wall held a computer and as he made his way to the closest, he sent a prayer to whoever would take pity on him.
He touched the computer screen. “Please insert identification card and be ready for retinal scan.”
He did as the computer asked and stood very still for the scan, though his hands shook. A wall came up around him, protecting him from the casual glances of the guards and others in the lobby. For the first time he let out the breath he’d been holding since the gate.
“Thank you Mr. Harris for your loyalty to Wolfram & Hart.” Xander bit off the immediate nasty remark. “You have been given three hours to enjoy the accommodations of this building. Please begin by making your first section.”
He scanned the lists of options and found the one he’d been schooled to press.
“You have chosen, pleasure.” He pegged the button that said this was correct.
“Please pick, breed.” He skimmed the list. Damn, he’d no idea this building was big enough to hold all the different types of demons, vampires, humans and even a section called ‘others’.
“You have chosen vampire, is this correct?” Damn machine, he wished Will had been the one to do this part. Then again Willow had enough to do. This was the least he could do for her. He shoved the correct button.
“Please choose, gender?” And there were, of course, more offerings than just male and female. He didn’t bother trying to sort it all out and hit ‘male’. He barely refrained from punching the correct button. He glanced at his timer, by now the rest of the team had entered the building. He hoped they’d made it at least. Damn, worrying about them wasn’t going to get this done faster.
“There are 45 male vampires in this building. Would you like the computer to choose, or would you prefer a picture listing?” Xander moaned at the number, but it could have been much worse. He reminded himself they had at least four times that many humans. “You have chosen, picture listing. You may see all pictures, or narrow your search by physical feature.”
“What feature would you like to narrow the search to?” He speed-read the options. There was only one he knew for sure, hair could be changed but eyes.
“You have chosen blue eyes. There are 25 with blue eyes. Would you like a picture listing?” Xander sighed and hit the ‘yes’ button and felt like a pervert in a grocery store.
He peered at each picture as it floated in front of him. He started to panic, as the list grew smaller. He was nearly panting when he reached 25, without seeing who he was looking for. He bit off the scream of desperation. They knew he was in this building. He hit the ‘more’ button and prayed with fevered curses.
“You have chosen, more. There are 2 more vampires with your qualifications. They are high-level clearance. If either is chosen, you will be added a large penalty.”
“Yeah, yeah, damn machine.” He hit continue.
A picture pulled up. Same eyes, but they were missing something. No time for that now. He’d know that eyebrow scar anywhere. He mumbled. “Jackpot.” A name pulled up under the picture. William Taylor Banning. Not the name he thought they’d use. Before pounding the ‘yes’ key, he paused and decided it wouldn’t hurt to see who the other poor sucker was.
A face popped up. He didn’t recognize him but that meant nothing. He read the name out loud, to help it stay in his memory. In case he ever needed it later. He could always sell the information. “Nicholas De’Brabant, aka Nick Knight.”
He hit the back button. He really didn’t want to know why these two had been singled out, and ignoring the possibilities his mind provided, he hit ‘yes’.
“You have chosen a high-level. There will be a penalty of 50 WH credits. Please insert your card to have the credits charged.” Xan groaned. 50 WH credits would’ve been more than a couple of thousand in the old world order. Xan silently begged that Willow had put that much on the card. She’d said she added enough ‘in case’ credit, but how the hell much was ‘in case’ credits these days? Here’s hoping. He inserted the card.
“This charge will leave your card with a worth of 10 credits. Are you sure you would like to complete the transaction?” *Go Willow! *
For the last time, yes, he tapped the key. The card was spit back out. He pocketed it and waited.
“The room is number 666- level 10. Please take the key offered below. You now have 2 and half hours remaining. Thank you, hail the New Order of Wolfram & Hart.”
The screen dropped from around Xander. He backed away with a mumbled. “Hail the New Order.” With a sod off whispered beneath his breath. He headed towards the elevators.
He had to insert the room key to get the elevator to start its rise and he paced as he waited. Damn it all. If he, or they, were caught, that was it for them. They’d be dead. Gone like so many of their number. His team was the best. He reminded himself and they’d make this.
The elevator stopped just as he’d started taking calming, but not hyperventilating, breaths. He stepped into the hall as the elevator called out to him, “Hail the New Order.” Xan kept the nasty comment beneath his breath and stopped cold, biting his lip to keep from whistling. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been in somewhere so clean and upscale. Before the new order that was for sure, wow. He checked the blinking arrows on the wall in front of him. He went left for the number he wanted.
Even numbers were on the right side of the hall. He kept his eyes that way as he hurried past. He was running out of time here. Damn computers. Then number 666 was staring him in the face. That had to be that number, didn’t it? Jeez, if he believed in signs this would be a bad one.
Taking a deep breath, he inserted the damn key. The door slid open. The room was rather dark and he tried not to jump as the door slide shut behind him. Xan really hated going into dark rooms. He raised his hand and felt the wall for the light source. There wasn’t one. He waited for his eyes to get used to the minimal light.
The only thing he could hear was soft music, classical and romantic. His eyes made out a shape, white and low to the floor and he felt, rather than saw it move. Not knowing what else to do he asked out. “I need more light.”
The room must have been on computer, cause the light rose enough to make him gasp. The white thing was the vampire he’d been looking for. He was in complete white, kneeing on the floor, and with his head down. All Xan could see was the top of long, dark blond hair.
“I live to fulfill your fantasy, Master. How may I serve you?” The head did not rise. The words were soft and yet still very British. Xan felt like he’d been punched in the gut. What had they done to him?
Xan, at a loss, kneeled in front of the figure. He watched his own hand shake as he tilted the figure’s chin up. “Oh God, Spike?”
The figure’s eyes were wide and all so blue, so childlike, and so very fearful. This wasn’t the vampire he’d known, where was the brash, the rudeness, the smirk?
“Xan, is that you?” Such hope. God, he felt like a total shit for taking so long to get here.
“Yeah, it’s me. We’re going to get you out of here.”
“We’re?” He looked around Xan, and seeing no one, he tilted his head up at him.
“They’re waiting for us. Come on, get up, my knees are killing me.” Xan pulled himself up and dropped his hand to help the vampire. God knew how long he’d been in that position.
It was unneeded. The vampire jumped up. Xander had forgotten how small Spike was. Not to mention he’d never seen Spike in white. A long white sweater and silk white, well sort of like, see threw, old world Dockers pants. In all, the Spike he remembered and this one were so different, and yet, exactly the same. He’d just forgotten.
“We don’t have much time. Do you want to change and maybe put some shoes on?” He glanced at his timer. They had an hour to get to the closet and they were going to need as much of that time as possible to get to the darn place. And the vampire wasn’t moving, just staring.
“You’ve really come to get me out of here? It’s been so long.” Xan paused. Poor guy, he looked rather delicate. Xan was tempted to explain what had taken so long. However that would waste time. Time, they so did not have.
“I’ll explain later. When we’re out of here and back at base.”
Spike looked like he wanted to ask something but then decided against it. Xander knew it what it was. Where was Angel? Then second, who was left? Xan was glad the blond had put it off. He really didn’t have time to walk that road. Maybe that one was best left for Will.
“I can’t leave.” The vampire looked so miserable even as he mumbled.
“What do you mean, you can’t leave? You’re leaving.” Xander was aspirated. Maybe he should just knock the vampire out and hope for the best. Then again that would be a compromise to the mission.
“I have this collar.” Spike fingered a gold band around his neck. “So they can control me. I can’t leave this room.” Xander wordlessly lifted the leg of his worn leather pants and pulled out a flat gray card.
“Turn around.” The vampire gave him a hopeless look but followed the instruction without comment, which twisted Xan’s stomach with a slight pain. Spike, listening without question, it was an abomination.
The gray card took a moment before glowing red, signaling the collar had been turned off and he released it. Willow was his god. She’d thought of everything. He handed it to the vampire, who threw it across the room with a disgusted growl. “Any more problems? You’ll need to hurry if you want to change.”
“This is the most covering outfit I have. So I’m not changing and,” the vampire dropped his gaze to the floor, “I don’t have any shoes.”
“Then we should get going.” The floors in the building were nice and carpeted. So they wouldn’t have a problem with the shoe thing until they were outside and then he could just carry the vampire.
“Is there anything you want to take?” Xander looked around the room, wow. He didn’t have a chance to look around before. Glass covered cabinets covered every available wall, showcasing various torture devices, whips, chains and bondage materials. Jeez, this place was better stocked than the adult shop on 5th Ave. Complete with the biggest bed Xan had ever seen, before or after the new order. The room was made for sex in any shape or size.
He was almost afraid to ask. “Is this your actual room or is there another where you keep your stuff?”
Spike looked around him and saw the room from Xan’s point of the view. He sighed, shame coloring his features. “This is it.”
Xan didn’t bother looking at the sex toys. The rest was more amazing, clean carpet, a real bed, a refrigerator, and a working microwave. He hadn’t seen perfect working stuff like this in a long time. He’d gotten so used to Will’s fix-ups, he’d forgot what they had originally looked like. “Where are your clothes?”
Spike nodded towards a door in the room. Xan figured, at the very least, he could get some clothes for the vampire, and if Spike didn’t want them, they could always sell them.
The room was small but packed with clothes. The vampire hadn’t been lying when he’d said the white outfit was the most covering he had. Every outfit in the small room was cut to profile the blond vampire’s looks. He didn’t even bother wondering why there were young girls dresses in the mess. Spike wouldn’t want any of these but the materials were the best. They were so well made. Xander was sure they’d fetch a good price. He grabbed a pile, found a sack, and shoved the clothing in, now to get the hell out of here.
As he left the room, he groaned at having to leave the microwave and frig behind. It was a damn shame, but that would surely drawn attention. He could just see himself, trotting along with the appliances, not to mention Spike, and the clothes. Then having to explain to every guard and Willow why he was taking the whole room.
Xan looked up and froze. Spike had systematically opened every glass-covered cabinet and broken everything. Chains, whips, everything lay in torn tatters around the room. Xan hadn’t heard a thing, * how the hell? *
Xan didn’t ask out loud. He didn’t want to mention it at all. If he did, Spike might tell him what they’d done to him and Xander couldn’t stand hearing that. Not now, maybe never.
Spike looked at the bag of clothes in Xander’s hands, and with a snort of disgusted, he moved to take them away. “No, they’re not for you. We’ll sell them, okay. We’ll use the money to get you some decent ones and some shoes. Come on, be reasonable, you’re going to need some credits to get something black, right?”
The vampire dropped his hand and Xander headed towards the door. From the corner of his eye, Xan caught a glimpse of a dark figure. He pushed the vampire away and headed towards it. He hadn’t seen this doorway before and as he called for the lights, he realized it was a bathroom. The person he had chased in here was his own refection.
It had been awhile since he’d looked at his own face. A short beard made him look older than his twenty-two years and a scar could be just slightly seen through the beard. His eyes looked old and tired. For the first time he could understand why Will was always telling him to take a break. He looked like a mercenary. He looked mean and he’d thought Queen C had been kidding him when she’d said he scared the new troops. He tried to smile, that improved the picture. At least he was clean and groomed.
He had to remember to smile more often. It felt strange so he probably didn’t do it enough. Long leather coat, blue shirt and black leather pants, did he look like one of the head leaders of the resistance? Yep, which meant they had to move fast. God, no matter how much more he was wearing than Spike, he still felt naked without his guns. He needed to get to the team.
He didn’t jump when the hand touched his own but he did turn and grab it. It was only Spike, who was looking up at him with curiosity. Xan turned from the mirror and his inspection to the door.
It was easy, too easy, as they used to say in the movies. By the time they reached the closet, Xan was sure they were being tricked. Spike clung to him and followed every instruction without back talk, which helped out. Xander had to admit having the vampire clinging to him didn’t feel all that bad.
He listened at the closet door before entering. He heard Willow’s voice and deemed it safe. Without a gun he really had no choice, he mumbled. “Trust in Willow.” Before turning the knob.
He pulled himself and the vampire through the door and was met face to face with a gun, which now a days didn’t upset him all too much. Guns were too often in his face. Calmly, he reached out and took it from the redhead holding it. “Hey Will, when I said watch my guns, I didn’t mean shove them in my face.”
She smiled and hugged him. She leaned back to look at his face her green eye taking him in. The other eye, with a metal iris, read his vitals to make sure it was him. Once both eyes were satisfied, she looked towards blonde. “Spike.”
Xander sighed. They all had to make sacrifices for the cause and some were more seen than others. Will’s implants were of the more obvious kind. Her eye had been removed and replaced with a robotic. With it, she could download information faster than with any normal eye. Not to mention scan for life signs and vitals and God knew what else. She also had a jack up cord inserted into her wrist, which allowed her to access any pc system. Even with the robotic parts she was still Willow and all friend.
The redhead began giving the blonde the same treatment. Xander stepped around them to Queen C. He could hear Spike ask about Willow’s implants.
Cordelia Chase, known only by that name to her oldest friends. To everyone else, including the troops, she was Queen C. A bitch and a topknot shot. Where Willow’s hair was long and braided down her back and her clothes gypsy-like. She looked more like a mystic than a rebel and he was perhaps more the mercenary type. Queen C was all resistance rebel. She wore her hair black and short, with army fatigues and all three of her guns were always fully visible. Queen C always looked ready for a fight and was known to give better than she got.
The Queen was currently looking over a pc screen, her eyes glazed. She glanced up at him before returning to the screen, and without looking back up, she said. “I think Will and I set off an silent alarm sneaking in. I think they know we’re here and they just want to know what we want. I sent Wes and G to check out the floor. If they’re not back in 5, then they’ve been taken down. According to this, the air vent we came in on is down now and we don’t really have away out. Unless you can talk Will into doing something.”
“Alright. I’m on it. How long?”
Queen C was not known to be shy, which was why she was their main recruiter. If you made it past the Queen, you were all right.
“Depends, if Wes and G walk through that door. At tops, 20 minutes.”
Willow was, at one point, the best magic they had. The implants changed that. Another sacrifice they hadn’t known about before hand. The implants altered magic users. She was still powerful, but very unpredictable. Now Wes was the best they had and he learned everything from Willow that he could.
And while Wes was good, damn good, his power was still not as great as the redhead’s had once been. However because Willow never really knew the outcome of her spells, getting her to do one was nearly impossible. Only a select few could get her to even try.
With help she might have been able to improve but in the new order, who could afford a therapist?
Willow was still talking with Spike, who looked grimmer with every word he heard from the witch. Xander picked up the rest of his own personal armory from the table Queen was working at and wandered over to the pair. “I hate to interrupt kids but this is about to be a rather public party. Willow, we need some of that magic stuff.”
Willow’s green eye turned to anguish and she buried her head in her hands. Xander knew how to make this work. Working with vampires for years now, he knew how good their hearing was, he whispered Spike’s name under his breath. When blonde looked up at him, Xander quickly whispered for him to go along and to keep quite with what he was about to say. The vampire nodded and dropped his eyes. Xander again mourned the loss of the old Spike.
“Willow, sweetheart, listen. If they catch us they’ll kill us, right?” He kneeled in front of the box she was sitting on and pulled her hands from her face. One eye had a tear slowly making its way down the lovely face. The other coldly regarded him. Xander concentrated on the green eye. She nodded her head at his words, unable to speak.
“Yeah, we’ll be dead and it will all over for us. The leaders of the resistance will be no more, but they’ll carry on. So no big loss, but what about him?” He pointed with his head towards the vampire. Willow followed it, looking at the blonde, who looked stark white with terror.
Xan pushed on, letting his urgency show. “What do you think they’ll do to him? Will, the room I found him in was just a sexual torture chamber and now that he’s tried to escape. What do you think they’ll do? They won’t kill him. It will be far worse.”
He had his ‘in’ and he pressed it, without mercy. “What about Wes? Sweetie, remember how scared he was to come here? He was terrified. Do you think they’ll just kill him? Remember how much he would be worth to them, what they did to him?”
Willow nodded, sniffing. Her green eye flowed freely and she reached out, raising a hand to the vampire’s face. The blond violently flinched from her. Her green-eye flashed with pain. Then it was as cold as its robotic counterpart, still looking at Spike, she hissed. “Those bastards. I’ll try, as soon as G and Wes return. I’ll use Wes to stabilize a portal to the old magic shop headquarters.”
Xander patted her knee and heard noise outside the door. He stood and moved beside it as it opened. G reacted as calmly as Xan had at the guns presence. Wes pushed it away from his face as they came in but both waited at the door until Willow nodded, indicating it was them. Xander lowered the gun. “What’s the sit?”
G only had eyes for his girlfriend, moving Queen C’s way to give her a kiss. It was a ritual, whenever one had been away from the other. Wes jumped in. “They know we’re here. They have troops on the way. About 10 minutes and we’ll be surrounded.”
“Wes, help Will with a spell. G, Queen get us loaded up.” Queen jumped up, shutting down the pc, and grabbing the various items they had brought.
Gunn reloaded his gun, cocked it at ready, and grinned towards Xander. “Locked and loaded man.” G had noticed Spike when he came in. No doubt Wes had as well, both were too cautious not to. Xan watched as G put his full attention towards the vampire. “Long time no see vamp. Ready to rejoin the fight?”
Instead of saying anything the vampire just nodded with a slight smile. When Gunn looked to question, Xander motioned not now. G dropped it but he looked concerned. When Spike was quiet, all was not of the good.
Wes was the only one on the team that didn’t use a standard weapon. Instead, he used a green ball that formed from his hand. The green ball was actually natural only to Wes. Even Willow couldn’t copy the act or the power. A lovely green light that made Wes’ hands glow and was as deadly as any standard weapon. Honestly, much more so. Wes used it with pinpoint accuracy, and over the years, it was as natural as breathing for Wes to always have it. Instead of the playful little ball it was normally, Wes had expanded it to full size. It glowed dangerously in his hand as the threat to them came closer.
Even after all this time. That energy ball grabbed Xander’s attention. He didn’t notice for a moment what Wes was doing. Until he looked up from the ball and noticed how Wes stared at the vampire. Xander was standing close enough to hear him whisper to Willow. “Are you sure that’s Spike? I don’t remember him being so young and quiet.”
Willow nodded sadly. The green eye again threatened tears. “It’s him, Wes. They just really hurt him.”
Wes took her at her word. Not only because all knew the electronic eye could not be fooled, but if anyone knew pain and what Wolfram & Hart could do with it, it was Wes.
Willow, not wanting Wes to start thinking, quickly started instructing him on his part in the spell and Xander drifted away. He helped Queen C and ignored what he’d heard. He didn’t want to know about anyone’s pain.
Sweat poured from the redhead as she twilled her hands and spoke her tongue. Wes shook on his feet but did not let the ball fade from his hand. All to soon voices could be heard outside the door.
Xander pulled the vampire behind him, readying his gun towards the door. All he could hope for was that most of the guards would be human, but he knew it wouldn’t be so. Yet again, he called to a God he was sure no longer heard him. A portal burst to life behind him. He heard Willow scream and start yelling at everyone to go through. They headed that way.
One jump, they had to all go at once and when he felt everyone behind him at the brink of the hole, he pushed. He grabbed Spike with his gun free hand, just as he saw the door burst open and then it was gone.
Having long gotten used to pre-implanted Willow jumps, Xander landed on his feet, both guns out.
As a soldier, he took stock of his team and his whereabouts. The magic shop but it didn’t look at all like he remembered. Instead of a ruin it was a fully loaded shop.
Everyone else looked as confused as he did. Wes still had the glowing ball. Everyone but the vampire had all weapons ready. Xander’s eyes covered the room and came face to face with, himself.
Xan stared in shock while very familiar people pulled themselves from the floor. He watched as his other self crawled out from under the table. Without moving his eyes from-well-himself, he called back to his witch. “Will’s what’s the sit?”
“Umm, E-eye says its us. I mean them. So I guess, I kinda, over jumped our universe.” He could hear the hitch in her voice.
Xan was going to reassure her but G beat him to it. “Good job, witchy woman. We’re not in the new orders hands, are we? You did good.”
Xander was about to full heartedly agree when he saw her and the older man. “Buffy? Giles?” He watched them walk towards them and he could not believe what he was seeing. It was like the ghosts of the past. He was afraid if he reached out they would be gone.
Then she spoke. “You’re not vampire Xander, are you?”
Unable to speak, he shook his head no, and Queen C spoke up. “Don’t mind Xan. Its just, on our side of the universe, you’re way dead.”
*Two hours and 11 pizzas later. It had been a long time since anyone in the resistance had pizza, not to mention, soda. Both parties sat back from the table, staring at each in amazement and shock, so many differences.
Where the resistance came from Queen C, Wes, and G were with them always. Here, they lived in L.A. and were only visiting Sunnydale. Here, they had never heard of the new world order but the L.A. folks sure knew about Wolfram & Hart. Buffy and Giles were alive and people they’d never heard of Tara, Dawn, and Anya worked with their counterparts.
Their counterparts had been suitably shocked by the new world order. They were stunned to learn Buffy and Giles had been killed in the first wave and that Dawn had never existed. Most awing to them, was that the Scooby’s and their troops were the only thing between death and life for all. Not just with the supernatural stuff but in a full out war.
Xan glanced down at the vampire sleeping at his feet and the blonde head resting on his knee. Spike’s counterpart wasn’t here but would be later. Xan wondered how the two would get along and how his Spike would like seeing how he used to be.
The quiet blond had caused quite a stir and Xan had left all questions about him unanswered. While the blond had been awake he was never further than a foot from Xan. He had only spoken once since their arrival and that was to say no when offered some pizza.
They asked about his hair, which was different than the last time Xan had seen it as well. Dark blond and no long dyed. The bangs were long, the back short, a pageboy cut, as he thought they were called. It made the vampire look like a kid. The fact that their counterparts Spike wore black and this one had shown up in all white, theirs was rude and his never spoke a word.
Xan deflected every question, while letting the vampire know it was okay to stay near him. He just hovered as Xan’s silent shadow. He was tempted to wake the vampire to see if he needed some blood but thought perhaps he needed sleep more.
The Willow’s were discussing the implants. Queen C was telling Cordelia she didn’t know what she was missing not giving Gunn a chance. As for himself, Xan couldn’t help but think about how soft the vampire’s hair was running through his fingers. He also wondered how the counterpart of himself could be such a child. Then again this Xander had a right to be. He wasn’t the head of a resistance.
Unfortunately it was time to bring up his vampire and explain, to both sides of the universe, a little of what was going on so issues could be avoided. “Your attention everyone.” His quiet voice overrode the conversations and he had the floor. His people looked ready to listen. The counterparts looked shocked at the command coming from him. It seemed his counterpart had to do some work in the forceful department.
“He’s asleep and I want to get this out of the way. Before his counterpart shows up.”
Buffy looked under the table and saw the vampire asleep against Xan’s leg. “Why wouldn’t you tell us about him earlier?”
Earlier he’d said they were escaping a new order building while rescuing one of their own. Now he explained in slightly more detail on how Spike was caught by the new order four years ago. How they had looked for him and when they’d finally found him, it had taken months to get in there after him.
He explained very little about the room, the collar, the clothing, and just hinted at what Spike had said to him when he came into the room. Reliving that moment gave him chills. Xan was a seasoned warrior, very little gave him chills, but seeing the vampire on his knees, ready to take anything had.
Now his people knew and that would put them on protect and defend mode about the vampire. The counterparts would perhaps treat him a little more kindly than they treated their own Spike. He finished up with. “I don’t think he likes to be touched. I think he’s touching me cause I’m the one that got him out. So just watch it. I don’t know how he’ll react if provoked. Remember my Spike isn’t chipped like yours.” He looked to Cordelia. “Ms. Chase, did I hear you mention that Angel was out with your Spike?”
“Um yes. I was telling me, I mean, Queen C.” Cordelia gave her counterpart a weird look, not sure about the moniker Queen C. “That he was out patrolling. We’re just here researching. Spike got antsy, so they went out.”
“So he’ll be coming back here with your Spike. I don’t suppose you could tell me about their relationship.”
Xan and the resistance were distressed to find out that on the counterparts side Spike and Angel barely got along, more often fighting than not.
Giles noted this and waited everyone out, before questioning. “I take it on your side it’s rather different.”
Xander just nodded and glanced under the table at his own version of Spike. Queen C took up the mantle. “You could say that. They’ve been lovers for like years and years.”
Once their counterparts had come down from the shock and their own distress. G took his ladies hand, kissed it, and continued for her. “They were good for each other. So leave it alone. It’s not your Spike and Angel. Don’t worry about it. In any case, our Angel went out one night to meet someone about finding his Wil and he never came back. We don’t know where he is and we haven’t had a chance to mention to Spike about him yet.”
Xander spoke up. “And we’re not going to. Until we get home. We’ll let him think our Angel is back there. We just won’t mention it. We will; however, have to tell him when we return. So I don’t want his last memory of any Angel to be one where the guy is, in any universe, treating him like a jerk. So do you think you could talk yours into being nice to our Spike?”
Buffy jumped up. “I can do that. Once he hears about it all, he’ll agree.”
Queen C stood up as well. “Permission Sir, to request.” Knowing Queen as he did, Xan gave his permission. By his counterpart’s faces, this proved how different they really were. “May I come with you Slayer? I want to take a look around.”
Buffy, not trusting her voice for the shock, just nodded.
Xan looked at his Queen C, a warrior with various guns and her army wears. Then, as the slayer and Queen C left, he turned his attention to this universe’s Cordelia. He couldn’t imagine her wearing fatigues, much less shooting a gun.
What a few changes in the world could do to a person? However as big a difference as there was between the Cordelia’s. There were more between the Wesley’s. His own looked like a young rebel. Short leather coat, leather pants, green tee shirt, and the ever-present green ball. Which was presently a small and harmless looking while Wes played with it, rolling it between his fingers or between hands.
Wes’ counterpart looked like a young professor. A professor, who not only couldn’t do the green ball was attempting to question Wes and doing badly at it. Xan could tell his Wes was trying very hard not to singe the guy just to shut him up. His Wes was not known for patience and tolerance of questions.
Then there was Xan’s own counterpart, a child with goofy taste in clothes and a girlfriend named Anya. In all, someone that was enjoying his youth, his counterpart’s eyes had very little of the pain he was sure his own had. He was too tried to even be jealous. There was just a small ache for what could have been and perhaps a little glee too. He looked better with the beard than without. Will had been right about that one, his counterpart’s girlfriend kept giving him the eye. He winked at her and loved the jealously on the other Xander’s face.
The Willow’s were night and day, so different in looks and choice in partner. True, both were lesbians, but unlike Tara, Reboot packed a punch. Reboot did have the same body type as Tara but four times the presence and mouth. He’d often teased Willow over the past four years, that she must have really been missing Spike’s mouth to date Reboot.
Even with their Spike back, he could sadly continue the joke. Poor Reboot was probably going mad with worry. However Xan knew she and everyone else would follow his orders to stay put and not follow them out. He figured he had two days before his troops would ignore his word and go out looking for them.
A good leader knew his troops.
Even looking so different, the Willow’s, both being more heart than anything else, immediately liked each other. Unlike his thoughts towards his own counterpart the Will’s looked to be really hitting it off.
Deeming it safe enough, Xan nodded towards his G, who was talking to his own counterpart, which oddly enough there was, besides clothing choice and a few missed matched scars, very little difference. His G nodded back, signaling he’d keep watch, and Xan shut his eyes.
The door pulled Xan out of his light doze. He’d become far to use to having his guard up to let it go while asleep, or even in a ‘peaceful’ universe. He’d heard his own counterpart leave with his girlfriend about an hour ago and the numerous conversations that went around him before and since then.
The door only pulled him completely up because he didn’t know who was entering. Retaining his relaxed position, he glanced from under his lids, and watched Queen C bounce in. Knowing this meant she had seen the vampires, Xander sat up and fully opened his eyes. He thanked Giles for the coffee cup he was handed while Queen C made her way to him.
Queen C paused to kiss her G and pulled him along with her towards him and the table. Like himself and G, Queen thankfully grabbed a cup of coffee, before sitting on G’s lap next to Xan at the table.
Coffee was the blood of the resistance and living on it for so long, a ‘thank you’, didn’t cover the comfort that came from drinking the black stuff. Besides it was a better tasting stuff than Reboot had ever made.
Giles sat next to them and Xan guessed it was because Giles had enough of trying to make the Wesley’s get along. He’d heard his Wes singe his counterpart, about 20 minutes ago. Xan threw a glance that way. He saw his Wes, completely unrepentant, and his sweater-wearing counterpart busy staying far away.
He didn’t give Queen the chance to enjoy her coffee. “What’s the sit, C?”
“We found them.” Her face was alight with glee. It had been awhile since Xan had seen Queen this happy about anything, other than some sweet thing G had done. “God Xan. They’re exactly like I remember them being, but without all the kissy luvy stuff. I mean Spike, before you know, and he was all Spike, all mouth and Angel was as stoic as ever and they,” G held her close as her voice broke and she buried herself into his arms.
No one, besides Spike, once his Spike found of course, could be upset as Wes had been about Angel’s disappearance, but Queen was a close third.
When Spike had been caught it had been a heavy blow and Angel had been an unholy rack of pain and anguish. Everyone was so busy trying to easy Angel’s pain no one had time to really feel pain about the blond vampire. Then, when Angel disappeared, the grief was unbearable.
Several times he had to stop Wes from a suicide mission just looking for answers and his death. Queen C was too strong for that but she suffered. Pain from Spike’s capture and Angel’s disappearance had nearly taken the heads of the resistance to their knees.
Queen C, G, Will, Wes, and even he were guilty of being reckless in their pursuit of the vampires. Once Spike had been found, they would take no one but themselves on the suicide run. He knew they did it as much for themselves as for Angel, wherever he was.
Having Spike back in their number, sitting at the leader’s table again was going to do a lot for the morale of the troops. He was just going to have to make sure none of them got close enough to see the terrible changes in the vampire. Then again, no matter what his Spike did now it would be blamed on the grief for his Angel.
Queen C was putting herself back together and Giles handed her a tissue. Xan had forgotten how useful the man had been. Or maybe, he hadn’t wanted to remember. It had been a long time since he had thought of Giles or his slayer. Some things just weren’t dwelled on.
Buffy came through the door and on her tail was a sight he thought never to see again, Angel.
Xan fully understood Queen’s breakdown. He had the long leather coat and the walk. His hair was short, where their Angel had worn his long. But it was Angel, and man was he a sight for sore eyes.
This universe’s Cordelia met him at the door and whispered to him. Buffy walked over to the table and stopped next to Xan, glancing again at the sleeping vampire next to him. The vampire hadn’t moved once since falling asleep. Xan didn’t know whether to be jealous that anyone of their number could sleep so well, or upset that the vampire just didn’t care anymore.
Though no one else had, Buffy kept her voice low, like she was afraid to wake the blond. “I spoke to him and told him everything, it’s a go. Angel said he would be nice but I told him not to over do it, so your Spike wouldn’t be upset. Oh yeah, I want to state for the record. I like your Spike better than ours. You can take both back with you when you go.”
“Thanks Buffy for talking to him and that won’t be necessary. One Spike is enough for any universe. Where is yours anyway?”
“Please don’t refer to him as my Spike. It makes me a little sick, but he’s outside finishing his cigarette.” Buffy rolled her eyes.
Buffy refused any coffee but sat at the table across from Xan, giving Queen C and G the eye. Xan pushed past Buffy thoughts from his mind as Angel disengaged himself from Cordelia.
On his way to the table, Angel said hello to Wes. Then did a double take and looked between both Wesley’s. Angel’s Wesley nodded a greeting. The one in leather saluted him. Angel somewhat saluted back. Wes laughed at the attempt and reactivated his green ball to toss. Angel stared at Wes and the green ball before looking at to his Wesley, who just shrugged and went towards the coffeemaker, making sure to step clear of Wes and his glowing ball.
Xan wanted to stand to meet the man, but with the blonds’ head still on his leg, he didn’t dare. Instead he took the vampire’s hand when it was offered.
“You must be the other Xander. I have to admit, as far as doubles go, you two look nothing alike.”
“I have better taste in clothes. Please call me Xan. I have to say Angel you’re a sight for sore eyes. One I’d never thought to see again.”
“I heard about it from Buffy and Queen C.” He nodded towards the red-eyed woman, who was looking up at him from G’s lap. “I just want to say how noble I think your battle is.”
“I don’t know about noble, but it has to be done.” This man was so close to his own Angel. He didn’t blame G for staring or Wes for avoiding. Hell, Queen could barely look at him. Will just hummed softly, half-looking, and half-pretending the vampire wasn’t there. Having none of options the others had to avoid this, he tried to keep his emotions from his face.
Angel looked around, before looking back down to Xan. “I can feel my childe outside, but I can feel yours too. Where is he?”
Xan raised his hand and pointed down to the other side of his chair. Angel wasted no time going around.
“Oh, Wil.” The dark vampire whispered, kneeing down. It was the whisper of a man who had just realized he’d found something he hadn’t known he’d lost.
Xan figured maybe their counterparts didn’t know the whole story about their vampires. With a past like theirs one just didn’t stop loving, sometimes it just changed names and hid.
Buffy seemed shocked. Was the girl foolish enough to think the vampires had no past? Angel was his Sire that had to mean something. Giles at least looked like he understood the situation, as did this universe’s Wesley. Cordelia had the same amount of disgust and shock as Buffy did, and his Queen C just started again to cry.
Both Gunn’s were not very emotional and ignored the emotional flow, and Wes. Wes just upped the power of his green light. Xan watched Wes look into its green deeps as if it might share the answers to all the madness with him. And with that thought, Xan wondered if maybe he shouldn’t order Wes to stay away from his girlfriend for a little while. It was bad enough they were hardly ever apart but when Wes started acting like his girl, Drusilla. Xan had a right to worry.
Angel lifted the blond from the floor and Buffy was kind enough, or in shock enough, to move and let him have her seat.
Angel was in awe. This Spike looked like his used to, maybe a hundred years ago. He had no eyes for anyone or anything else.
Buffy mumbled something about keeping their Spike occupied outside for a few minutes and slid out the door. Xan had a feeling the emotions and love Angel was looking at the blond with had something to do with her decision.
Cordelia approached the table, and with an odd look towards G and Queen C, she walked around to Angel’s side. She looked down with him for a few moments. “Angel what’s wrong, its just Spike? Well another one. You don’t even like your own.”
Angel didn’t even look up at her but answered all the same. “Cordy, you just have no idea. He’s my childe. I can be mad at him. I can be pissed as hell at him. On occasion, I may even threaten to kill him, but through all that, he’s still my boy. I’ll always love him and when he hurts. I hurt.”
Xan was happy to know their universes weren’t so different that Angel would honestly hate his own childe. Cordelia tried again. “Angel, he’s impossible to love, no matter how cute he is.” Catching herself, she paused looking for the words.
“Yeah, I know. He tries to be, but I made him. I know what lays under all that brass and rudeness and it’s a very sweet, very lovable person.” Angel had yet to look her way.
Cordelia sensed nothing she could say would make a different here. And so she returned her attention to Queen C, asking her if Macy’s had survived the new order.
Xan was the only one paying attention to the two vampires when Spike woke up. Xan almost reached for his own gun to put himself out of the pain he felt at seeing the hope in those sapphire eyes. He watched the blond lift his hand and touch older vampire’s hair.
Then those un-souled eyes pierced the older vampires. Xan waited for the outcome. He could hear the pauses in the other’s conversation as their attention had also turned the vampires way.
“You’re not my Sire. You belong to this universe.” Angel nodded solemnly, his throat too tight to answer. Spike lightly kissed Angel’s cheek, before pulling himself off the vampire, and walking over to Xan.
Xan held his hand out and was, for some reason, so relieved when the blond took it. He signaled G and Queen C out of their seat, which they gladly did. G pushed the seat next to Xan and the blond sat, staring at the other vampire. He looked up to Xan and whispered. “I want to go home, now.”
“Soon.” Xan turned towards Angel, watching as the vampire’s fingers lightly brushed his check, where the kiss had landed.
To Angel it felt so like a kiss of long ago. A reminder of times unforgettable, but best forgotten. Unshed tears filled his eyes, Angel got up from his seat and stumbled towards the back of the shop.
Cordelia looked around for a moment before following Angel into the back. Xan turned his attention towards the door as a blur of leather came tearing through. It stopped roughly a couple of feet from the door, Spike. The Spike he remembered from four long years ago. Long black duster, red shirt, black tee shirt, black jeans, hair messed and standing in angles, Doc Martins, and the ever present smirk.
“Oi Peaches, tell your slayer to stop hitting me.” Spike paused, realizing Angel wasn’t in the room to save him, and called for back up. “Red, save me from the Slayer.”
Buffy chose that moment to slam into the room after him and throw him into a wall, twice. With his hands full, coffee in one, and the other holding his own Spike, Xan just didn’t have the time to signal the stand down.
Before anyone of this universe could fully comprehend the situation, Buffy was against the wall, held in place by a longhaired Willow. Buffy was looking straight into the one green and one gray eye of a killer. No one looked more surprised than leather wearing Spike. Buffy struggled but there was no release from the implanted arm of Xan’s Willow.
Xan released both his coffee and his Spike in a hurry, trying to reach the situation. He buzzed by Queen C and G as they joined him. Wes didn’t bother getting up. He just shrugged with a cruel smile.
Xan rushed to her side and grabbed the leather clad Spike, who was in too much shock to resist. “Release her Wills. They were playing. See he’s fine.” Xander turned towards the vampire. “Tell her you’re fine, now.”
“Hey Red, I’m fine. Let her go, okay.”
Willow ignored them all. “You.” She hissed into Buffy’s face, slamming her head once solidly against the wall. “Will not touch him. If you do while I’m here. I will kill you myself. Do” slam “you” slam “understand?”
“Yes.” Buffy’s voice sounded ragged and when Willow let her go she slid to the floor. Willow turned away from her and patted the leather clad Spike on the cheek as she past. She went back to her conversation with other Willow, without so much as a pause.
Xan helped Buffy off the floor. “I’m sorry. Wills has always been a little over protective of Spike and when she saw you hurting him. He asked for Red to help and instinct took over. I’ll make sure she doesn’t kill you.”
Buffy looked a little dazed but accepted his apology. “Yeah, I understand. It’s alright.” Once Xan was sure Buffy could stand on her own he walked back to the table.
He heard his Wes behind him. “You’re lucky Red got there first, slayer.”
Without looking behind him, Xan called out. “Wes, no ones hurting anyone here.” He turned, as he was tapped on his shoulder, to see Spike following him. “So you’re the blokes from the other side of the mirror?”
“That would be us.” Xander was amazed. He could tell no difference between this Spike and the one from four years ago his world.
Then again, his Spike would have never called for Red to save him in a play fight. His Spike knew how so called ‘Red’ would react. Their Spike would also never look so surprised that they would protect him. Well four years ago he wouldn’t have, who knew now.
Spike looked like he was going to comment, when he stopped cold. Xan looked ahead, the other Spike, his, was standing. Xan stepped back as they circled each other.
The leather clad one spoke up first. “What the hell have you done with my look? ‘Hate to tell you this, but white is not a good color on me.”
His Spike almost smirked and Xan silently cheered. “Least I’m not chipped, mate.”
Xan dropped his smile, shit! They looked fit to kill each other. The leather-clad vampire slid into game face, as did his. Everyone, including Buffy, backed up. He knew his people didn’t know what to do and the counterparts looked unwilling to interfere.
Xan was about ready to try to separate them himself, when a breeze pushed past him. Angel stood between the two Spikes. One hand wrapped into a white shirt and the other a leather duster. He shook them both once and lifted till their feet dangled off the floor. “I give you both to the count of one to get rid of those teeth.” Both dropped the game face fast. “Now lads, either one of you want to explain this to me?”
“He started it, Sire.”
“Did not. Peaches put me down.”
Both blond vampires squirmed in Angel’s grasp. He didn’t let either go. Instead he turned towards the back, where Cordelia still stood. Angel walked past her and into the room, as he called out. “I think me and my lads here are going to have us a little chat. Please avoid the back.” The door slammed shut a second later.
Buffy turned towards Xan with a slight pout on her face. “Why didn’t your Willow and Wes try to stop Angel from abusing them.”
Xan looked at her like she was crazy.
Will answered, from where she had stayed seated next to her counterpart, during the whole event. “Slayer, no one gets between a pissed off Sire and his brats. He would’ve torn apart any of us that tried to intervene. And both Spikes would’ve been pissed as hell at us for going after Daddy.”
Buffy had her doubts about this logic. However she wasn’t prepared to argue the point, having no weapons handy, and so she let it go. It was enough for Buffy to know both Spikes were currently getting their asses kicked.
Xan was hoping the opposite. He hoped Angel was being very careful.
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