Perchance to Dream
Angel had no idea of what to say. All he did know was he couldn’t very well have them going at each other’s throats. He dropped them both and shut the door with his foot. He resigned himself to the glares he received from both sets of cold blue eyes. Angel knew he had messed up. He’d embarrassed them in front of everyone and neither looked ready to forgive him. He hadn’t lied to Cordelia. He knew Spike very well and he knew the fighting was an outlet for something else.
Angel opened his mouth to tell them both that they’d be the death of him. Then realized how that would sound later, to the other universe’s Spike. When he found out about his Angel’s disappearance. He closed his mouth and cursed himself for getting into this predicament. This conversation was filled with too many landmines. Instead he tried again to get to the bottom of the mess, with as little mess as necessary. “Well what was that all about?”
His Spike sneered at him. “I don’t know Peaches. You’re the private detective, why don’t you tell us?”
The other Spike turned towards his double. “He’s a private detective?”
“Yep and a bad one too. Can you see the big lug crawling through the bloody bushes to snap pictures of a cheating bit?” The blond started laughing.
The other universe’s Spike looked him over. “Na, he wouldn’t go into the bushes. Think of his hair. Not to mention his big ass feet.” Then re-joined his double’s laughter.
Angel sighed. The one thing they had to agree on was that their Sire was a loser. He waited them out. He tapped his foot against the floor and did not dignifying any comment they made about him with an answer.
Angel had to wait for about 10 minutes. They insulted his hair, long or short, his feet, his soul and whatever odd bit they could come up with. Angel released his anger into his fists, tightening and releasing. He was not going to blow up at them. No matter how hard they tried to deflect the conversation from themselves.
Nothing like sire bashing to bring people together, Angel mused. To bad it wasn’t going to work. He was not going to let himself get mad enough to leave them alone. Soon there was nothing left just two blonds sitting on the floor and the odd hiccup.
“Are you two quite done?” They looked up at him from the floor and Angel had that feeling in his gut. The bad feeling, the feeling that said, ‘nice view, great positioning’ he pushed it far, far away.
“Nope Peaches. I was just about to tell him about the time you told the demon you were fighting to ‘hold up’, so you could take off your coat and check your hair.” The leather- clad blond smirked, trying to pull his cigarettes out, while still chuckling.
“That’s nothing.” The other replied, holding his hand out for a cigarette, which amazingly enough the other gave him without argument. “My Sire once held up an attack, so he could pick out which black shirt would be right for the occasion.”
Angel felt as bad for the other Angel as he did for himself, well no, he felt worse for himself. He was the one standing here listening to this. “Look, I was fighting a shame demon. You know that doesn’t come out of leather and I didn’t ask it to wait. I needed that mirror to defeat it.”
Both gave him the same ‘uh huh’ look that Cordelia had given him at the time. He was not going to do this. He was not going to defend himself against his own brat and his double. He was the Sire here for Christ sakes.
“Enough.” Angel guessed he’d put out a little to much anger and perhaps channeled just a tad too much Angelus. Both froze, stood up, and cautiously moved just a little further away from him. He didn’t have to see either set of blue eyes to know there was fear there, damn landmines.
He released another sigh. Only his childe could get him to breath and in this case, he was breathing double time. He tried again, in a more ‘Angel’ like tone. “You both agree. I’m a terrible Sire. Alright?” The leather-clad Spike paid him no attention but other shook his head no.
Ever since Angel had carried them in here, he’d wanted to ask a question. Knowing he wouldn’t get an honest answer if he asked, he waited till they had put the cigarettes out on the floor. Boy that was going to piss Buffy off. Angel then put his question into an action, a theory in process.
Angel moved easily, grabbing the leather duster of his Spike and throwing him into the other. Both crashed to the floor. He didn’t wait for them to sort themselves out. He turned away and towards the door. There was only one reason he could have ever gotten away with that maneuver.
He was wary, after his stunt, to turn his back on either Spike, so he opened the door a crack, and with his back facing it, called out. “Cordelia.”
He realized when his Cordelia appeared that it could’ve easily been the other. He reminded himself to make the distinction when calling for anyone next time. “Cordelia, grab that cooler we brought for me, heat it up, and bring it back here. Please.”
Angel watched the two untangle from each other on the floor, with a lot of cursing, and graceful movements. Again he had to push that feeling down. Maybe he could push it as far as his toes and it would leave him alone, but he doubted it.
Cordelia nodded with an eye-roll. “Okay, the whole thing? They piss you off that bad?” Angel decided the unholy terrors weren’t going to come after him with anything wood. Like they were in any condition to do anything? Instead they sat on the floor, again with the glares. Oh well, he was the Sire. They could be pissed at him but they were going to listen.
“Yes the whole thing and no they haven’t pissed me off that bad. They’re starving to death.” He wasn’t explaining that to Cordelia. He was explaining that to the two blonds. He wasn’t dense enough not to notice. Oddly enough both quickly found something else to glare at other than him.
“Oh, I’ll be right back.”
He shut the door as he heard her heals click away. Both Spikes started to say something and both didn’t. Angel held up his hand. He didn’t want to hear it. He knew the excuses they’d give. He also knew the real reasons.
His Spike really didn’t have any way to get blood, except from Giles and Willy’s. Giles had told Angel earlier, just after they had arrived, he hadn’t had enough money recently to buy more than very little. Angel also knew something the watcher didn’t. Spike couldn’t go to Willy’s anymore. Not without getting beaten up for working with the slayer.
As for the double, Angel was pretty sure any incarnation of Wolfram & Hart wouldn’t feed a vampire. Someone they considered a whore more than they needed to. They wouldn’t want him at full strength.
Being as neither was rolling around the floor with hunger. Angel figured both situations had been going on for long enough that their bodies had gotten use to the abuse. And they said he sucked as a detective. Actually he might, but he knew his childe and neither one would have admitted it.
He’d known when he’d lifted them. They hadn’t weighed anything and he may have forgotten a lot of things. Like most of the 20th century, but he remembered that his boy had never been that light.
He pulled out a foldout chair and sat down. He wanted to cross his arms. However he recalled Cordelia telling him that crossing his arms made him look cut off and condemning. She meant it would scare off customers but Angel figured it would be the wrong message here as well. Yes, he was mad, but he really couldn’t blame them. For once something wasn’t Spike’s fault.
Angel realized he’d been yelling at his Spike for so long now that he really didn’t have anything to say and he knew he had to say something. Angel could read his boy, um boys, like a book and he really didn’t like where their thoughts had gone.
Angel was mentally begging Cordelia to just hurry up. Then he’d have an excuse to do something other than the staring he was currently doing but he couldn’t help it. They just had enough physical differences to tell them apart, but other than that, they were mirrors and the possibilities were endless.
No, there were no possibilities. He was not going to travel that road. What the hell was he doing in this room? One Spike had never been his responsibility and the other hadn’t been for a long time. That part was hushed down by the part that said this was Spike, which in any universe, was his childe and always his responsibility. Hell, who needed to talk, he had a whole conversation going on all by himself.
His Spike was playing with a lighter, a far off look in his eyes. Angel was going to ask him to quit. Spike with fire was making him a little nervous but the double yanked the lighter away.
“He”, the double nodded towards Angel, “gave you this, didn’t he?”
Angel took a closer look at the lighter in the double’s hand. God that had been forever ago but sure enough he remembered giving it to the boy. “My Angel gave me one too, but it’s long gone.”
The double tossed the lighter back. “The duster, was it from your 2nd slayer?” The double looked at his twin and Angel swore he saw a little jealousy when his Spike nodded that it was. “Bloody hell, I miss that coat.”
Angel knew what the other Spike had just gone through. After his conversation with Cordy, Queen C earlier, his Spike didn’t. Buffy had distracted the vampire from the finer points of the conversation.
Angel realized now, that might been a mistake. Without knowing, his Spike was going to ask a lot of questions, but since he was now being ignored, Angel couldn’t find a way to deflect the questions. Angel figured this was about the time he should really go get some back up. Where was Cordelia? It wasn’t that much blood.
“What happened to yours?” The bleached version questioned.
“Wolfram & Hart.”
Angel noticed the fight seemed have gone out of them and this was turning into a civil conversation. Then he heard footsteps, damn now she comes, but the steps approaching where far to heavy and he got up from the chair. Neither blonde even looked at him as he went towards the door.
He opened the door before whoever it was got close enough. Neither of the Spikes were in good enough condition to have heard the approaching mortal yet but Angel wasn’t about ready to let this conversation be interrupted.
Talking about Wolfram & Hart might do the other universe’s Spike good, and who could you trust to talk too, like yourself?
An unapologetic, bearded Xan was the culprit. He handed over the cooler and loudly said. “There you go, all heated up.” Lower, he questioned. “Um, you haven’t done anything rash? I heard some noise from back here earlier.”
Angel caught the other’s eyes. He wasn’t accusing just concerned, very concerned. Angel stopped himself from growling mine, not only would it be stupid, he didn’t have the right. He held up a finger for the man to wait a moment and slipped back into the room.
Angel was still being ignored and he wasn’t sure for which crime. He’d already embarrassed them and thrown them around. They were still going over the great importance of the leather duster. He set the cooler down on the floor between them.
“Here, don’t make yourselves sick,” neither one made a move towards the cooler. He opened it and took two warmed bags out and threw one to each blond. “I said eat, now.”
Satisfied that they were going to do as he said, demanded, whatever, and having dispensed all the fatherly advice he was going to give, Angel backed out of the room.
Xan had waited at the door. He gave Angel a curious glance when the vampire grabbed his arm. Loudly, Angel pronounced. “Yeah, I’d love to show you around. Why don’t we take a walk?”
Xan played along and let Angel drag him towards the door. Xan was able to call out and order to his people to remain here and behave, before he was outside with Angel.
Xan dropped the act and pulled his arm back. “What are you up to vamp?”
Angel signaled Xan to follow him around the building. “I left them talking about Wolfram & Hart. I thought maybe you’d like to hear how that goes down?”
“Are you suggesting we invade their privacy and listen to their conversation?” Xan stopped, making no move to follow the vampire.
Angel stopped, feeling a little guiltily, “I thought you might like to know,”
“Cause if you are, I’ll lead the way.” Xan past by the vampire and walked towards the back of the store. Angel shook his head and followed.
Spike used his teeth to rip into the bag, and when the smell of pig’s blood didn’t assault him, he brought the bag closer. “Damn, I didn’t even think Peaches remembered he could have human blood.”
“Hey I’ll take anything that isn’t drugged.” The other blonde ripped into his own bag and for a few moments they were silent.
Between bags, the bleached blonde asked. “They drugged your blood?”
“Yeah, to keep me from acting up. They said I was to hyper.” He laughed a little bitterly.
“Giles does that every once and while. When there’s nothing going on and Buffy bitches about me acting up. He thinks I can’t tell.” The leather-clad blonde shrugged.
“Better than starving right? And sometimes its better than being completely awake in room you can’t leave.” The double pushed his bangs from his face.
“Yeah, I know the feeling. Ever been chained up in a bathtub? I guess they happened to your hair too?” Spike raised a hand to his own shorter, bleached hair.
“Do you think I’d do this to myself? I am fully aware of how I look.” He yanked said hair in his hands.
“Want me to cut it off for ya? Got a knife round here some-where’s.” He started pulling things out of the duster’s pocket.
“No way. I wouldn’t trust me to cut anyone’s hair. ” The blonde grabbed another two bags, offering one to the other.
“Oh yeah, right mate.” He stopped digging through the duster.
“I really do miss that coat. Don’t suppose you’d let me.” The double reached his hands out.
“You can’t keep it.” Spike shrugged out of the coat and leaned over the cooler, to hand it to his counterpart. Who threw it on like an old skin and settled back down.
“I miss the docs too.”
“Forget it, mate.”
The now leather-clad blond shrugged. “Can’t blame me for trying.”
“Them lawyers take the shoes too?”
“If you didn’t notice mate. I don’t have any shoes.”
“Yeah kind a noticed that before, when Angel had us dangling. Slayers never going to let me live that down.”
“I’m pretty sure Wes is going to make sure I remember and when he tells Dru,”
“Your Wes talks to Dru.”
“My Wes is mated to Dru. Isn’t yours?”
“Nope. The Wesley here is pretty much scared of her and everything else, a real poof. My Dru is somewhere causing trouble with Darla.”
“Our Darla’s dead.”
“Angel stake her?”
“Nope. Wolfram & Hart no longer needed her and put her out for a sunbath.”
“Then they did something right. Bloody hell, at least you don’t have a chip.”
“What does that thing do?” The longer haired blonde had to push his hair back again and tried not to sound too curious.
“Gives me a bleeding headache every time I try to feed or hit a human.” Spike looked at the bag in his lap with disgust.
“I had a collar that kinda did the same thing. If I attacked anyone, they didn’t want me to, it put me on the floor. Sucks, huh?”
“That’s not the half of it, but yeah. What did they do to you? Cause you look like a poof.”
“Thanks mate, needed to hear that. Not being able to see in a mirror and all that. You want to know what they did? They locked me in a room as a whore. So yeah, I look like a poof. I’m sure cause that’s what they wanted me to look like.”
“That’s rough. Sorry.”
“Did you just apologize to me? Don’t you dare pity me.”
“You don’t have the chip so fuck pity, but hey, you wanna fight about it?” The shorthaired Spike jumped to his feet.
The double put his hand into the duster and pulled out the cigarettes. He lit one and jumped to his feet. The first good meal he’d had in years ran wild through his system. The energy begged to be used. “Yeah, what if I do?”
“Then I say let’s go.” They were smart enough to move the cooler out of the way.
The place shook from the force of them tossing each other into walls. After Buffy opened the door wide enough to yell at them to knock it off, they stopped. Neither one wanted her to come into the room. Somewhere a long the line the double had taken off the leather duster. He reached for it now, pulling out two cigarettes and handed one to his other image. They sat, leaning against the wall, and smoking.
“That was fun, haven’t been able to do that in years.”
“I get to fight demons that’s about it. So where’s Peaches in your world?”
“When I was taken he was in the resistance with me. Be kind a hard if we were in two different places.”
“What would be hard?”
“You know, being together.” The alternate Spike thought perhaps the chip had damaged his counterpart.
The shorthaired blonde swung his head to his double. “Being together, as what?”
The double took his shock to mean this Spike wasn’t involved with his Angel. But he’d woken up in his sire’s arms. The Angel of this universe and he wasn’t mistaken about what he saw in Angel’s eyes, well oops. “I guess you guys aren’t lovers then?”
“Peaches and me, hell no! He hates me.”
The double opened his mouth to correct him but something totally different came out. “My Angel. My sire’s dead.”
For the second time his twin looked at him in shock. “What do you mean dead? Peaches? Nothing can take him out.”
“First year Wolfram & Hart had me. I was sitting around one night, just bothering the cleaning lady, the next thing I knew I was on the floor. I could hear him in my head. He said goodbye and then he was gone. Felt like someone ripped me heart out, it did. I know he’s dead and no one wants to tell me.”
“You gotta be wrong mate. Angel just doesn’t die. He outlives everything.”
The longer haired blond wrapped himself in the duster, tears running down his face. “I’m not wrong. I felt it. My da’s gone.”
Spike didn’t know what the hell to do. He hated it when people cried. So he did the only thing he could think of, he gave him a hug. He could feel the tears hitting the side of his neck, felt the pain, but he still didn’t believe it. Peaches was unstoppable. He knew he had forever to make up with his sire, didn’t he?
He couldn’t imagine not having Angel around. The bloke always showed up, but he hadn’t shown up after the chip, had he? Nope. Maybe if he hadn’t had Angel tortured only a few days earlier he would’ve come. Didn’t matter. His Angel hated him. Besides he didn’t need the wanker anyway.
He made a mental note not to cry in front of anyone, ever. It made him look just pitiful. He could always use it as a last resort, perhaps to get someone to cave in. Then again, who did he have to make cave in? No one. As far as pity parties went this was ridiculous. Spike said the only thing he could think of to make it better. “You can have mine.”
By this time the double had pulled himself together, and pushed away from his twin, roughly rubbing the tearstains from his face. In the last few years that leather duster had wiped a lot of tears away. “Yeah right, mate.” He jumped up to get the cooler. The blood was still warm enough to get down. He grabbed himself a bag, and looking back at his shorthaired double, he grabbed another.
“Yeah. Go ahead take the wanker. He’s nothing but a pain to me.” This world’s Spike sounded completely sure this was the answer to both their problems.
The blond wandered back over with a devilish look. Anyone that knew Spike would’ve known this look meant trouble. Except for the one person who’d never had that look thrown at him, himself. He handed one of the bags to the shorthaired version. “You might have something there pet. I mean, we are at war and Angel would be far more useful to us. Red could send him back, if he ever wanted to come back. We might have to bring that up to him.”
“We could pet, but he’s got this thing with the wankers-that-be. He couldn’t just off and leave them.”
The long hair version smiled, ‘got ya’. Then preceded to reel him in. “I don’t know about that. They might be able to let him go, for a worthy cause.” His own Sire, lover, hell his everything might be gone now but if he could get these two together. Then somewhere they would be together and all wasn’t really lost.
Damn, he really was loves bitch and pathetic. Neither revelation stopped him from carrying on. “Queen C, I mean Cordelia, could live a lot easier without those visions, I heard her carrying on about earlier. The wankers-that-be could find another white knight. You’ve got quite a plan there, mate.” The double wondered if he’d ever been that exact color of white before. He looked about ready to be sick.
“Try it and I’ll take your bloody head off.” Spike seemed to realized what he’d just admitted and dropped his head.
“Yeah, I figured you might say that. I’m you- remember? I know how you feel about him.”
“Just don’t go yelling it about.”
“I won’t. Just let him know before it’s to late.”
Having settled that and both losing interest in the serious conversation. Spike looked over his double’s white clothes. “You know mate. I have some better clothes at the crypt. You know, darker. White really isn’t a good look.”
“Crypt, you live in a crypt? Hell, sounds good to me. Can’t say I’ll miss the innocent virgin look.”
“I wasn’t going to say anything.”
“You don’t have to. Besides white doesn’t hold fond memories for me.”
The shorthaired version summed it up. “Angelus.” Both cringed at the memory.
“Angel wouldn’t treat you that way. I mean he does get pissed, but it wouldn’t be like that.”
“I figured. He’d feel too guilty about it. So you want to go get those clothes?”
“Come on.” The vampire grabbed Xan’s arm. “They would’ve felt me during their whole conversation. So if I’m not inside and everyone tells them we went for a walk.”
“Then they’ll know we were out here.” The vampire nodded and Xan turned from the door.
The vampire and the warrior moved fast, wanting to get into the magic shop, before the gruesome twosome emerged from the back. Xan wasn’t running, but it was close and only his thoughts were moving faster.
His Spike knew what the rest of them had only guessed at. Angel, their Angel was dead. God, who was going to tell Wes? He hadn’t even taken time to break the news to himself yet.
Angel moved next to him, seemly unaffected by what they had so innocently overheard. Xan knew better. The vampire was shaken if not stirred and Xan knew it wasn’t hearing of his double demise that had done the damage.
They slowed at the door. Neither was out of breath but they smoothed over their hair. Giving each other a nod, they walked back into the magic shop. Xan didn’t see either Spike, so he assumed they’d beaten them into the room. He nodded to his people, letting them know everything was okay. He gave Wes a glare. He had no idea what had been going on since he’d left, but Wes was giving off guilty waves.
Ignoring the smirking Wes, he turned his attention to the rest of the room. The Willow’s, Giles, the more ‘mature’ version of Wesley, and Buffy were at the table. He didn’t see Cordelia, but Queen and the two Gunn’s were talking quietly by the couch.
He followed Angel to the table. Giles pulled himself away from the conversation to watch them. “Um, yes Xan. We’ve been disgusting your situation and there’s a slight problem.”
Xan frowned. He didn’t do problems. “And what would that be?”
Giles coughed and rubbed his glasses. Xan remembered that was not a good sign. “It seems when you came through the portal. It wasn’t exactly stable and you knocked it out of alignment. Which could be due too several factors,”
Xan turned from the watcher to his Will. “Will’s, what’s the sit?”
“I knocked the universes out of line. We’re stuck here for about four, or five days, while it sorts it self out. We’ve got two hours till sunlight and no where to put a vampire.” Xan smiled. Now that was the kind of answer he could work with. Will was always so straight forward and to the point. To fix a problem he didn’t have all day to hear about it. From the strange looks this universe’s counterparts were giving his Will, he figured maybe theirs wasn’t so forward.
“I don’t see Cordelia?”
Still staring at her counterpart, the shorthaired Willow spoke up. “She’s staying with her parents. Since they got back to being friendly and Cordelia isn’t mad at them anymore for being broke. She thought it would be best if she got back before daylight. So they wouldn’t be worried and call the police, or something. She said she’ll meet back here with everyone tonight.”
Xan nodded several times as the witch spoke, but the woman had continued. Nope, maybe forward wasn’t the word, this redhead was plenty forward. Lord if his Willow talked like that. They’d still be in the foxhole from 3 months back. “Thank you, Willow.” She had the same smile though and Xan couldn’t help but smile back. “Then we have to get us a place somewhere.”
Angel spoke up from Xan’s shoulder and he turned to look at the vampire. Yep there was some definite thinking going on beneath that calm. “Perhaps I could help. I have a suite at a hotel. Wesley was staying with Giles and Gunn has his own suite.” At everyone’s look the vampire sighed. “Yes, it was a company write off. There are two rooms in every suite. Queen C and ah, G could share one and Wes could share with Gunn. Xan, you could share with me.”
The shorthaired Willow giggled. “Yay!” She grabbed her double’s hand. “You could stay with Tara and me. We’d love to have you.” Tara nodded as well, adding her agreement, and Xan figured out why Tara was so quiet.
His Will looked up at him. She wanted to go. He could see it but not without his say so. She’d go where the team needed her to be. He smiled at her. “Permission granted, Wills.”
Both Willows smiled at him and he felt like he was caught in the sun. Blinking, he turned away. Whatever happiness they could grab in the next couple of days he wasn’t going to hinder. Returning to the real world was going to be painful enough.
Gunn, of this universe, jumped up. “Look, I’ve got nothin’ against letting, Queen and G have a room, but I ain’t gonna let psycho-Wes sleep in my room, armed with that green thingy.” The psycho Wes in question snarled and sent a green tentacle across the room. Xan snapped his fingers and the tentacle was gone, but the snarl remained.
Angel wide-eyed stared, now unsure about the arrangements and he turned to Xan for backup. “Perhaps Wes could stay with his counterpart and Giles.”
At this, the table, and the two English occupants of it in particular, jumped in. “I’ve had quite enough of my counterpart. Thank you.” Wesley was barely able to put down his distaste.
“Yes, I quite agree with Wesley. I don’t believe neither he, nor myself are equipped to handle him.” Giles was rubbing a hole through those glasses.
They didn’t have to worry. Xan understood. His Wes was a handful at the best of times. “Wes, get over here.”
The leather-clad, ex-watcher pulled himself up from the chair he’d been lounging in. “Yeah, Xan.” He stopped in front of Xan and the vampire.
“You will behave wherever we put you. No magic and no weapons period. Unless they are called for and that is only if anyone here is in danger and not towards any of them. This will remain in affect until I say otherwise. Is that clear?”
Wes stared, his eyes widening, the green ball fading away to complete nothing for the first time. He knew he’d pissed Xan off. Xan never told him no weapons and no magic. “I’m sorry. Xan please. I mean-you can’t- I never,”
Xan felt his point was made. “Don’t tell me. Tell these nice people to whom you have done nothing but piss off since they laid eyes on you.”
Wes turned from Xan to the room. “I’m sorry. I’ve been a pain and I won’t do it anymore.”
He turned back to Xan, his eyes pleading. Xan looked down to the very small green light growing between Wes’ fingers. “Turn it off, Wes.”
Xan could see the unshed tears begin to bloom. Wes didn’t do well with all his defenses taken away. Yet Xan needed to show these people he could control his troops and Wes had been pushing them since their arrival.
“But Xan,” The voice wasn’t cocky anymore. It was childish and pleading.
“Do you understand the order?” If Xan showed weakness now then Wes would never learn and he’d never be able to put him anywhere.
“Yes, Xan.” The green light faded from between Wes’ fingers and he waited, until Xan nodded, before sulking back to his chair. He twisted away from everyone, folding his arms on the arm of the chair and rested his head on them and was quiet.
He heard Giles speak to his Willow in a hushed tone. “I thought you all were the leaders of the resistance, why does everyone listen to Xan?”
“Oh we are, but Xan’s like the leader of the leaders. He and Angel used to co- lead, but well, its just Xan now.”
Xan, sure Wes was going to be much more subdued for the time being, turned back to the table. He ignored both Giles’ question and Will’s answer. He didn’t want to get in to the workings of the organization with anyone. No matter who they were or what universe they were in. “He’ll behave now Giles. Do you think you can handle it?”
Angel was rather jealous. He could never get his Wesley to do what he wanted.
“Yes, well he’s behaving now. What about after you leave? Then he’ll be terrorizing us again in no time.” As promised Angel’s own Wesley questioned Xan’s leadership.
Xan was about ready to put another Wesley in his place when Will quietly added her knowledge, cutting Xan off from saying anything rude. “Wes never disobeys an order from Xan. It used to be only Angel that could get him to listen, but now he’d do anything Xan asks. You don’t have to worry. Once Xan’s said the word that’s it.”
Giles looked up. “I’m quite impressed by the training you’ve put into your troops, Xan.”
Xan was tired. No that wasn’t the word he was weary. He took the cup of coffee Queen had gotten him and glanced down at the man looking up to him from the table. “G, Queen, Willow, Reboot, and god knows how many troops follow me because they believe in what we’re fighting for, and for some strange reason, they believe in me.”
He closed his eyes briefly before continuing. “Spike and Wes follow me because Angel said so and for no other reason. The only reason Wes listens to a word I say is because Angel’s last order to him was to follow what I said, to the letter. He’ll do that, until he’s either dead or our Angel tells him otherwise. Neither Angel nor I taught him to follow orders like that. Lindsey McDonald did, until Angel gave Lindsey a new job.”
Giles wasn’t sure he wanted to know anymore and Wesley looked down right ill at the prospect and mention of Lindsey’s name. “What job did Angel give Lindsey?”
“The only one fitting for his crimes, feeding the worms. Now can Wes stay here? I’m sure he won’t be causing you any problems.” Xan put his mug down, and not for the first time, looked towards the back. Where the hell were the blond menaces?
When Xan looked back to the table Giles had a thoughtful expression. “Yes, of course he may stay. Now that all the problems are settled.”
Wesley still looked unsure and liable to add more, but Angel cut him off by seizing the chance to step on his foot.
The vampire smiled at the pain the ex-watcher bit down on and shrugged when Wesley shot him a look. Instead Angel turned towards Xan. “Well that settles that. We better grab the,”
Xan turned away as the vampire’s words fell off. Angel picked up his sentence but Xan was no longer paying any attention. This universe’s Spike was still not wearing his duster and it looked odd on his Spike with the white clothing.
Both were way too into each other and their conversation to notice anyone staring. Xan knew he wasn’t the only one looking and he prayed, for their sakes, it wasn’t for the same reason he and Angel were looking.
Damn, Xan had missed Spike. It was a love-hate relationship. You wanted to kill him then you wanted to love the hell out of him. Until now Xan hadn’t remembered how much he wanted to do the loving the hell out of the blond.
No. It wasn’t right to think like that. Unfairly, in either universe, they belonged to Angel. One was just re-discovering it and the other was mourning Angel’s death. How could he betray his friend by thinking like this? He was the head of an army, on the losing side of a war. He didn’t have time for love. His life wasn’t his own, but then what the hell was he fighting for?
Xan twisted his eyes away from the blondes heading towards him and Angel. Then twisted his whole body around, when the blonds walked straight past them, still in conversation and heading towards the door.
Xan stopped himself from yelling out. The vampire next to him didn’t hold the same restraint. “Where the hell do you think you two are going?”
The Spike, without the duster, turned around. “We’re going to me crypt.”
Xan was about the only one to stay silent. Queen jumped up, as did both Willow’s and G. Xan put up a hand, his people fell silent and the rest followed. “I’m afraid not. I’ve spent four years of my life hunting, killing, and plotting to get you back. You’re not leaving my sight for a very long time.” Xan calmly explained.
“I just wanted to get some decent clothes.” Unlike the voice his Spike had used in the back this one was soft and relenting. Xan was almost surprised he didn’t add ‘master’ at the end.
The other blond was not so, un-Spike like. “So bloody what? He can go where he wants to and we want to go to the crypt.”
Xan was suddenly hit with the image of the Saint and the Demon. Then the Angel stepped in. “I have a suite fully loaded with alcohol, a radio, TV set, and the chance of shopping money for any blond vampires that does as they’re told for once.”
One Spike looked to the other. The one with duster spoke first, while peeking between long, blond bangs. “You want him come too.” He nodded towards his counterpart.
Angel nodded. “I want you both to stay at the suite, but I know better than to order either of you.”
“So instead you bribe them.” Wesley piped up from the table.
“Yes.” The dark vampire smiled broadly. He wasn’t ashamed. He knew how to work his childer.
The leather-clad blond leaned into the ear of his counterpart and whispered. The two blonds whispered between themselves. The shorthaired Spike of this world broke away first, smirking at his Sire. “So Peaches, what kind a money are we talking about?”
Xan paused at the door as he caught sight of Wes, still curled up in his chair. He looked behind him and outside, where the hotel party was waiting on him. “I’ll be right with you guys.” He waved them on and stepped back into the room.
With the hotel party waiting on him and everyone else already gone for the night, only Giles and Wesley remained. He walked towards the table, where they were still sitting, drinking tea. “Excuse me.” Both men paused and looked up at him.
“Yes Xan. I thought you were leaving?” Giles looked slightly confused.
Xan nodded. “I am. I just wanted to have a word first. About,” He nodded towards the chair and the silent lump it held.
“What about him? If what you said is true than we won’t have any problems with him.” Wesley said with distain.
Xan sighed, his Wes, much like Spike, often made a bad first impression. How did one tactfully explain this situation to a bitter counterpart and keep his temper. “No, you won’t have any problems with him blowing the place up. But that green ball is more than a weapon. It’s a security blanket and without it he feels defenseless. I have never forced him to turn it off. The only person to do that before now was that Lindsey bastard. So after I leave its going to be worse, but don’t worry. Just ignore him and go about your night.”
Xan turned to leave. Giles’ voice stopped him. “What do you mean, worse?”
Xan schooled his features from a ‘got ya’ smile into nonchalance as he turned. “Oh don’t worry. He’ll just grab a corner and cry. He’ll be quiet and don’t worry about the nightmares. He won’t sleep.”
Wesley glanced towards Giles, his face white. Giles coughed. “Um, well, I rather not have that. What can we do to avoid it?”
“I could let him turn his little green light on.” He held up a hand to stop any issues before they started. “I assure you. He won’t use it for any other reason than to calm himself. Just show him to wherever you want him to sleep. Believe me, he’ll stay anywhere you tell him as long as he’s left alone.”
“If you’re sure he won’t cause any damage with it. I don’t see any harm with allowing him to use it, Giles?” Wesley seemed to squirm with unease. Xan was sure his caused was helped by the fact Wesley knew his own version of Lindsey.
Giles nodded his head in agreement. “I’m sure it will be fine. Go right ahead and allow him that green thing.”
Xan nodded. “If you’re both sure?” They nodded and Xan turned from them and moved towards the chair.
He kneeled on the floor, putting himself level with Wes’ face, hidden within his arms. “Wes?”
Wes looked up with a tearstained face. “I’m so sorry Xan. I’ll be good. I really will.” The voice was plaintively begging.
Xan glanced towards the table and saw the plain sympathy for Wes there. Actually Giles looked sympatric. Wesley looked freaked out and a little ill. “I know you will. Now listen to Wesley and Giles okay. They’ll watch after you till I get back here tomorrow.” Wes nodded and Xan smiled. “Now you can use your magic. Just for ball and you cannot use ball as a weapon. Do you understand?”
Wes nodded rapidly, a grin breaking out as the green ball immediately spun to life. “I’ll behave Xan, you’ll see.” The ball barely missed Xan’s shoulder as Wes hugged him tightly. Wes quickly let him loose and turned all his attention to ball, talking to it softly.
Xan nodded and stood, ruffling Wes’ hair affectionately. “He’ll be okay now.”
“Yes, alright then. Goodnight Xan.” Giles nodded his way. Then busied himself cleaning around the table.
Xan glanced towards Wesley, who had mumbled something like goodnight, but was staring at his counterpart with horror.
Xan nodded and walked towards the door.
Angel always booked and paid for the hotel rooms, so Wesley didn’t feel he had any right to ask for one. Angel just assumed he’d stay with Giles, so did Giles, which made it twice as difficult to ask not to. He thought it pretty much followed the trend that his counterpart got stuck at Giles’ house with him. It wasn’t that he had anything against Giles.
Except he remembered that Giles had berated him and under-minded him. Now he knew all that was in the past. He understood they had ‘moved’ past all of that. Moved on or not, he never really felt comfortable at Giles’ house. He found himself trying to be the perfect guest; which meant, he made sure not to drop anything and stayed up talking about the mirrored universe. No matter how tired he was.
After an hour more of quietly discussing and wondering over the mirrored universe, Giles finally stood and sighed as his back cracked. Wesley let the yawn he’d suppressed out and stretched without standing.
Giles blinked, trying to clear his vision. The mirror universe was absolutely fascinating and there were other theories he wanted to discuss. Which would still be there tomorrow. It was late and Wesley looked nearly comatose. He glanced at Wes, who hadn’t moved from his newly claimed chair, quietly entranced by the green light dancing within his hands.
Giles took his time, gathering the teacups, as he compared the two Wesley’s. Physically Wes’ hair was longer, but both were lean, and had the same wide ingenuous blue eyes. Beautiful, he rolled his neck. “Wesley,” the young man at the table looked to him, “would you be alright sharing with Wes? I could fix up the couch for him if you’d rather not?”
Wesley glanced over to the chair and rubbed his eyes under his glasses. “No, I’m sure we’ll be fine.” The first rule of being a perfect guest, never make a fuss, even if your host asks you to sleep next to a psychopath.
Giles nodded. He was happily relieved not to make up the couch considering the late hour. He gave up on the teacups and decided to leave them for the morning “Good enough.” He gestured towards Wesley. “You know where everything is.” He looked between the two. It was just astounding. “If either of you need anything don’t hesitate to call upon me. Goodnight Wesley, Wes.”
Wesley nodded slightly. “Goodnight Rupert.” Wes half-heartedly waved.
Wesley sighed as Giles’ footsteps faded up the stairs. He slumped into his chair, only to straighten in alarm when he remembered what Xan had said. Wes was to be shown a place to sleep and left alone. Would sharing a sleeping space somehow set the other off? He had no wish to feel the power of that green ball again. Perhaps he should make the couch up for himself.
He dropped his head and rubbed his eyes. Seconds later, he jumped with a hiss and twisted his head to look up. Only to see the face he’d seen in the mirror this morning, Wesley blinked and Wes pulled his hand back. Well it was nearly the face he’d seen this morning, he would never wear his hair that long.
“I’m tired.” His counterpart told him in soft tones.
Wesley nodded. He was tired as well. He really didn’t feel like making up the couch. The bed upstairs in Giles’ guest room sounded so much better and less taxing. “Will you be able to sleep next to me? I suppose asking not to be shocked by that,” he nodded toward the green ball, “would be too much to ask.”
Wes shrugged. “You’re me, just a little annoying. I doubt I’ll have too much trouble sleeping next to you. Unless,” he paused and tilted his head, “you don’t snore or grope people while asleep, do you?”
Wesley straightened. “I most certainly do not.” His eyes narrowed. “And I’m not annoying.”
Wes smirked. “Yes, you are, and you know it.”
Wesley sniffed and stood from his chair. “At least I’m not psychotic.” He turned from
Wes and walked from the room. Mentally re-enforcing his shoulders as he heard Wes coming up behind him. Wesley led him in silence up the stairs and into the guestroom. His bag was where he’d left it. He flinched as he heard the door shut. He too had certain reservations about sharing a room with anyone. He spoke to his bag as he sorted through it. “I suppose you’ll have to borrow something of mine.”
“Unless you want me to sleep naked.” Wes said.
Wesley turned towards the figure leaning against the wall. “Must you?” He put his eyes back to his bag and quickly pulled out some cotton sleeping pants and tee shirt. “Here.” He tossed the articles. Wes easily caught them with one hand, skillfully avoiding the hand with the green light. “The restrooms behind that door.” He nodded towards the door.
Wesley took a breath of relief as soon as Wes was behind the bathroom door and quickly found his own nightclothes. He changed and then analyzed the bed. Perhaps if he was very careful he could avoid Wes all together. He lay down and studied what was left of the bed. The chance of avoidance was slim.
He took his glasses off, turned onto his side and tightly closed his eyes. He listened as Wes re-entered the room. Moments later the light snapped off and Wesley felt the weight join him in the bed. After several minutes in silence, Wesley began to relax.
“Aren’t you curious?” A soft whisper questioned and simultaneously retightened Wesley’s muscles.
Wesley rolled his eyes. “I don’t want to play mind games with you.”
“Not a mind game. I just thought you might be curious about what turned you into me.”
“You’re nothing like me.” Wesley hissed back.
“I was. I was once just like you.” Wes signed and Wesley felt him turn and move closer.
Wesley groaned, rolled over to lie onto his back and looked at Wes, whose face was eerily lit by the green light. “Fine, say what you have to say so I can sleep.”
Wes shrugged. “I know Xan said something about Lindsey. When Lindsey got a hold of me I was just like you. Repressed, ex-watcher, prissy, I could go on but we both know what I’m talking about.”
“I could argue a few points but I’d rather go to sleep some time tonight. What did Lindsey do to you? The Lindsey I know, while evil, would hardly be capable of making me into you.”
The green light brightened before dimming slightly and Wesley held his tongue. Wes moved closer and leaned into his ear. “Remember the things father did?”
Wesley cringed and backed away, hissing. “Never ever speak of that. No one knows and if you tell anyone.”
Wes raised a hand. “I won’t tell. Believe me our secrets safe.”
Wes nodded. “Ours. Remember mine too.”
Wesley stared at his counterpart. “I’ve never had anyone to share that with.”
Wes shook his head. “Me either. It’s strange to think how much we have in common. That we really are the same person in a lot of ways.” Wesley thought about it for a moment and when Wes moved back, closer than before, Wesley didn’t move away.
Wesley was nearly asleep when Wes started softly speaking. “Lindsey was worse than father. If I didn’t listen it wasn’t a closet but small pitch-dark coffin. I didn’t know how much oxygen I had. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t see. Just feel the walls around me. He kept telling me that one time, if I was really bad, he was going to have me buried alive in there. Every time I had to go in there I never knew if that was the time he was going to have me buried or if he’d open the top in a couple of hours.”
Wesley shivered and began to shake at the idea of such a thing being done to him. He was terrified of small, dark places. The very thought that someone would torture him with that knowledge was more horrifying than any threat of physical violence. He thought he might have mumbled, “oh my god,” but wasn’t sure if he actually said it or if his thoughts were so frazzled that the phase just stuck in his head. He opened his eyes to look around the room, to make sure it was still there and the walls far away.
Wes hadn’t closed his eyes at all. He looked blankly at the wall, which was further than a hand span away. “Think of yourself. I think we can both admit we’re not exactly strong. More along the lines of spineless, so image how easily you would’ve broken. I broke. He wanted obedience. Think about how well you can do obedience. I gave it to him. When I was, quote ‘trained’. I finally figured out why he put all that effort into making me the perfect little fucking pet.” Wes’ voice trailed off.
Wesley heard Wes’ breath hitch and could feel Wes shivering next to him. Wesley wanted to offer comfort. He knew he personally would never ask for affection but there were sometimes that he so very much wanted it, so he moved closer. There were several seconds when Wesley thought he might have made a mistake and Wes didn’t want to be touched at all. He was going to slide away when Wes’s legs intertwined with his, holding him close and Wes turned so they faced each other.
Wesley watched to make sure he was well away from the green ball of energy, which fluxed with Wes’ ragged breaths. He let Wes’ breathing settle closer to normal before he whispered. “What did he do?”
Wes’ breath hitched. “I was a gift. Lindsey presented me to the senior partner Ambrose as a present.”
Wesley closed his eyes and shivered. “A gift?”
“Yes. Ambrose said I was the best gift and that he’d treasure me always.” Wes grabbed his hand and Wesley jumped, expecting the shock of the green light, but Wes used the unoccupied hand. Wesley was thankful and warily of the other glowing hand even as he intensely listened.
Wes shook his head. “Oh god, you don’t want to know what that meant. He treasured me all right. The pain was unbelievable. If he’d been unhappy when he’d gotten me. If he hadn’t thought I was pretty he would’ve killed me that first day. Every day I was with him, I wish he had. I tried to make myself ugly. I cut up my face once but he just had me healed.” Wes stopped talking, shaking and mumbling, whimpering as silent tears trailed down his face.
Next to him, Wesley shook and tried to comfort his counterpart, but he didn’t know how. He wiped at the tears, uncomfortable with them, and trying to erase them as they came.
Wes’ green light worked and twisted itself up Wes’ arm and over his hand. It came dangerously close to touching and Wesley yanked his arm back to avoid the touch.
Wes chuckled sadly. “You don’t have to worry. It won’t shock you.”
Wesley’s eyebrow rose, unwilling to test the theory, though he was thankful and glad for the change of topic. He quickly jumped on it. After all, he was curious. “Does it only shock those you want it to?”
Wes shook his head. “Nope, it shocks anyone that touches it, but me.”
Wesley rolled his eyes, but with more affection than he felt earlier. “Then what do you mean? I’d rather not have it shock me again, it’s quite painful.”
Wes smirked. “I had to make it shock you the first time. It didn’t want to, it actually gave me a little shock when I did it.”
Wesley still wasn’t exactly sure. There was only so far he was willing to go for curiosity sake. Instead he asked another question. “You said it didn’t want to shock me, are you suggesting it has a conscious?”
Wes sighed. “You know, we aren’t the real rebellious type, so they never took my voice. However they did threaten to have my voice box paralyzed for a while, if I didn’t learn to stop asking questions.”
Wesley didn’t know which part of that sentence to object to. The whole idea was just wrong. Now he had more questions but shook his head and focused. “Well do you think,”
Wes waved him off. “No, not really. Its very hard to explain.” Wes shook his head and quickly reached out.
Wesley didn’t have time to jerk away before it was touching him. He braced himself for the shock and when it didn’t happen, he cracked open an eye then both and watched with wide-eyed rapture. The mystic green tentacles crawled up his hand and twisted around him with no pain. Wesley couldn’t explain it if he tried. No, it wasn’t separate but it was warm and loving, it had a soothing feel to it.
“See.” Wes whispered. “It’s comforting. To everyone else, in any universe, it’s a weapon of destruction. It will harm anyone who tries to touch it. To us though,” Wes sighed, “No one else will ever be able to understand.”
Wesley nodded. He couldn’t find the right words. It felt like what he thought love might feel like. The light started withdraw and Wesley whimpered, not wanting to let it go.
“If you let me tap your power I can pull yours up, as long as you’re in contact with mine. It might even help you develop yours. Since you’ll be able to identify where it’s coming from and how it feels to use it.”
Wesley couldn’t nod fast enough. He didn’t want to lose this feeling so soon. “What do I do? Help me.”
“Relax. Let me do the work. Close your eyes, after feeling mine, yours should be close to the surface.”
Wesley tried to relax. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths. Wes’ hand rested against his chest and Wesley opened his eyes. Wes smiled. “Shh, close your eyes and wait for it.”
Wesley followed the soft orders and could feel Wes’ magic move through him. It wasn’t long before he felt something in him respond to the call.
It wasn’t anything he had felt before but it didn’t feel alien just dormant. Like it was waking from a long sleep, it stretched and yawned. From deep inside him it began to reach out, it warmed every nerve ending and vein as it spread. Addictive feelings of love, affection, happiness, and completeness flooded him with a double the strength of Wes’. And he thought that was because he was feelings it from the inside out.
“Do you feel it?”
Wesley nodded and croaked out. “Yes.” It seemed like a large ball of green energy lived inside him. How could he have lived all this time and never known? “How?”
“Don’t know. It just is. It’s ours.” Wes whispered.
Wesley felt the ball expand and mentally pictured its neon green tentacles running through him and concentrated on his hand.
“Wesley look.” Wes’ hand drifted to Wesley’s empty one and squeezed lightly.
Wesley opened his eyes and stared in wonder. The tentacles rose from his palm and connected to his five fingers. He opened and closed his hand and it remained. He had a sudden impulse to shoot it at something. He squashed the urge. It was simply the most positive and glorious feelings he’s ever felt. “Does it ever go away?” He asked, worried that one day, once he had learned how to use this gift, it would be gone. He didn’t know if he could handle such a loss.
“You mean other than when I force it off?”
Wesley nodded and pulled his other hand from Wes, making sure to keep contact, and practiced passing the ball from one hand to the other.
“Only when I’m asleep or unconscious.”
“It won’t ever run out?” Mentally Wesley begged it would not.
Wes smiled. He knew Wesley would love ball as much as he did. He was really enjoying being able to share it with someone that could understand. At least he was now that Wesley wasn’t being a jerk. “Short answer, nope.”
Wesley raised an eyebrow and looked to Wes. “And the long answer?”
“It absorbs small amounts of energy from the world. Very much like pjhan demons pull energy from the world around them and use it to create their acid spew.” At that moment he sounded every inch the ex-watcher he had once been.
“Everything is made of energy, so it steals from everything to remain constant.” Wesley half-pondered and half-asked.
“That’s what they figured.” Wes replied.
Wesley marveled in the feelings even as a disturbing thought came and wouldn’t let go. Finally he voiced it. “Its not something a human should have, is it?”
Wes sighed and the emerald lightening moved up his arms, caressed his face and wrapped around him. “Most likely no, but it chose us. It would never hurt us.”
The thought bothered Wesley. He started compiling a list of how such a thing could come to be. The worry started to mount and he felt the love and reassurance become more focused towards him. He felt and watched the energy twist up, it moved up around his face like a fleeting touch, soft whispers of touch became more focused. It didn’t cloud his thoughts or try to change them, but he felt more reassured. He blinked and whispered. “Is it trying to reassure me?”
Wes nodded apprehensively. “But it doesn’t try to change our thoughts or anything. I don’t know if it has a ‘conscious’ per-say, but it does it’s best to sooth. I’ve never heard like a voice or anything, just feelings. It gets angry when we’re attacked.”
“And we were born with this?” Wesley was still concerned but he really couldn’t imagine it was wrong, not really.
“Yes, it’s always been there.” Wes wanted Wesley to understand. It had saved him, mind and body, hundreds of times over and he didn’t want Wesley to become scared and not give it a chance. “Don’t be afraid of it.”
Wesley shook his head. He felt wonder and a little confusion but no fear. “I don’t.”
Wes smiled. “Good.” Wes got comfortable and made sure his legs remained intertwined with Wesley’s, so they remained in contact, but Wesley had both his hands free to play with the energy.
Wesley was too busy experimenting to fall asleep, no matter how tired he was. Wes however drifted off and as he did his energy became less until it slipped into sleep with him. Once Wes’ energy glided away, his became more sporadic. Wesley was able to keep his going, though weaker, until Wes moved away in his sleep. Even then it remained for several minutes before slipping beneath his skin. Still it wasn’t gone and didn’t go back to sleep. It was awake now and Wesley could feel it. It was still there, just beneath the surface and he knew in time he would learn how to pull it up by himself. But even if that took a long time he would never be truly alone ever again. The thought warmed his soul and with a peaceful smile he slipped off to sleep.
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