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Perchance to Dream


Part Thirteen

“You- What?” Spike was not having a good time in this universe. First, he fell asleep on Peaches, of all places, and there were witnesses to this fact. Something had changed between him and Angel and he wasn’t going to try to figure out what. Not right now, and maybe not for a while.

Then his counterpart rudely wakes him up to tell him he’d been volunteered for the most arcane stupidity. This universe sucked. Almost as much as the one he’d just left, well there was no blond chit of a slayer, plus side, but still. “Would you run that by me one more time?”

Wil bounced on the bed, bouncing his counterpart and stopped at the glare. Some people were not so pleasant after a nap, or maybe it was everyone knowing where he’d been napping. Wil tried again. “Xan told me he loves me and offered the elder’s eyeballs up to me and everything.”

“Yeah, I got that part mate. What was that other part?” Spike ran a hand down his face. His eyes searching for anything remotely looking like a liquor cabinet.

Wil glanced at his counterpart. Surely he wasn’t this dull-witted just waking up. “Told him, I wanted to get them myself and you’re going with me.”

“That’s the part, mate. Now let me ask you this, are you daft?” It wasn’t that Spike wasn’t good with the fact that Xander and Wil had hooked up. Saved him trying to get them together so his counterpart wouldn’t be alone when he left.

“What do you mean daft? If anyone’s daft, it’s you mate. I want to show Xander I’m not a complete loss. Besides you know you want to, think of it free rein to do anything.” Wil couldn’t see the problem here. It wasn’t like killing and mayhem wasn’t one of his favorite pastimes and if it was his, then it had to be his counterparts.

“Right pet. Let’s think about this. You said ‘we’ meaning, you and me, are going to torture a human and generally have us a bit of fun. When you can’t even touch a weapon and me, having this chip, can’t even think about it.” Spike was getting a headache just saying torture. It put happy thoughts in his head and brought twinges from the chip.

Wil rolled his eyes. “Give me some credit here do you think we’re that stupid?” Wil pushed off the bed and walked over to a small chest. Pulling out a bottle. He tossed it to his counterpart, who smiled with appreciation, before uncapping the whiskey and taking a pull. “Ta mate. Wot have you got planned then?”

Not answering him, Wil went to a small box on the wall, next to the bed. He hit a button and spoke into the box. “Red?”

“What’s that? A room to room phone?” Spike tipped the bottle towards the box.
Wil nodded and tried again. “Red?”

“Spike is that you? Do you need anything?” The witch’s voice floated around the room, soft and calm, so unlike the Willow Spike knew.

“Red can you come to Xan’s room, please?” The tone was softer than the one he’d used with his counterpart but it propelled Willow into action.

“I’ll be right there honey.”

“That was your answer? Call Red.” Spike swung the bottle back and wasn’t able to hang on to it when the counterpart grabbed it away.

Tipping the top of the bottle at Spike, Wil smirked. “She can do more than make good cookies, mate.”

Willow tried to get Xan’s attention but he was in full planning swing, a circle of people around him. Instead she grabbed Angel, standing a little back from the group. “Angel, tell Xan, if he asks, that I went to talk to Spike, and well, Spike. Okay?”

The dark vampire looked down at her. Distracted from listening to a strategist at work. A strategist, Alexander the Great would have been envious of. “Sure Willow. While you’re there, tell them they have the go ahead to take care of our little elder problem.”

Willow nodded. Not sure how the blondes got the job of eliminating the elder. Planning wasn’t her strong point anyway. She slipped from the room and into the tunnels. Thanking the blonde’s call for the reprise of sitting through the planning stages.

Xander was more than a little nervous when the gruesome twosome came out of the bedroom. While they were in the other room Xander had been content to sit in his chair and pretend they were asleep. Faced with the reality that they were indeed awake and out here in the main room. Xander now had to somehow make sure they didn’t leave.

“Hey fangless and twin.” Xander rubbed his hands on his jeans. Amazed at how fast they’d gotten so sweaty. He was a dead man. They were going to leave this room and his own counterpart was going to do not so nice things to him.

“Whelp, someone loan you some fashion sense?” Spike sat across Xander on the couch, slightly confuse at the level of stress coming from Xander.

Xander looked down at the borrowed shirt. So it was boring. Big deal. When he glanced up there was double of Spike sitting on the couch. Both looking at him with those calculating blue eyes, ‘one of them isn’t chipped’, a mean little voice reminded him and he swallowed hard.

The little voice continued it’s internal dialog, ‘be nice, or the not chipped one might decided you’re a nummy treat’. From what Xander had seen the other him had cracked under the pressures of war and was seriously lusting after the blond.

Xander wasn’t about ready to make that mistake. No siree, cause he was seriously straight. Well that and the blond scared the shit out of him, no matter how hot he was.

Wait, back up-scratch that last part. Xander coughed and rushed the words out before the little voice could respond. “Umm, so Xan, Angel, and Giles went out to take care of something and they asked you guys to stick around here.”

‘Please-Please, stay here.’ Xander’s little voice supplied and he stopped before the words were actually said. Xander calmly told the voice that they sensed fear, like rabid dogs. If he told the blondes how much it meant to him that they stay, they would go, as simple as that.

“Did they, pet?” Spike smirked. They must have laid out some heavy threats for Xander to putting out this much fear. Might be able to have some fun with this.

Wil leaned back into the couch to watch his counterpart bait Xander. His Xan would have never fallen for this but it was fun to watch. He’d have to remember the expression Xander was wearing and see if he could get Xan to make the same face. It was making him horny as hell, innocent Xan and the big bad vampire- yum. That was worth a little trip into fantasyland.

Spike opened his mouth to tease Xander some more, when a knock beat him to the punch. Xander was up out of his seat and to the door before Spike could shut his mouth. Vampiric speed nothing. Xander had warp.

It wasn’t Angel or Giles to save him from his woes but a Willow was just as good and he welcomed her with a beaming smile. Xander practically pulled her into the room and presented her to his woes. “Look guy’s, its Willow. So nice you could stop by. Have a seat and stay awhile.”

She gave him a small smile, but beamed at the blondes and Xander had to shake his head. This was not his Willow, like the eye didn’t remind him enough. She went over to the couch, leaving Xander behind.

On the slow return walk to his seat. Xander sent up a mumbled fevered prayer. “Please God let them hurry the hell up. I thought they were professionals. Please let Willow be able to keep the Spikes here till their return. Amen.”

Willow looked the vampires over. They looked okay and the smirk. She knew that smirk. She should have stayed upstairs. “You called?” She sat in the chair closet to the couch, unable to relax, waiting for the bomb to drop.

“Red.” Wil began shifting on the couch, which made Willow even more fearful. “We need a favor.” Xander sat happily oblivious to the tension rising, only aware that he wasn’t alone in his task of vamp sitting.


Wil smiled at her. His eyes as wide as possible, giving them a child-like innocent quality and with a soft voice full of pleading he said. “De-chip Spike.”

Willow almost fell out of her chair but Xander snapped out of his happy place and straight into hell. “No. No way.” He shook his head at the blondes and to Willow, as he turned on his own pleading voice. “You can’t. I mean our Willow can’t do that and besides it would be wrong, very, very wrong. On the serious side of wrong.”

Willow now knowing the dilemma could no longer sit and left her seat to pace the room. Xander’s words died off and the vampires stared at her and willed her with silent pleas. She turned and looked at the blondes, shook her head and resumed pacing. “I don’t know.”

Xander looked at her incredulously. She had to think about this? “He’s a killer! A monster. Not to mention a vampire. You can’t. Think about it Willow. You’d be responsible for everybody he kills from this day forward.”

Willow couldn’t ignore what Xander was saying. She couldn’t make this decision. He wasn’t even from her universe if it were her Spike the answer would be easy. A killer they could use. A vampire unable to fight humans would be dead far to quick anyone could see that.

She looked over to the couch again. They hadn’t said a word, hadn’t even tried to contradict a word Xander had said. Every body that hit the ground, lifeless from his hands would be on her hands and her hands would never be clean again.

Xander was also standing, watching Willow pace. “He’s has no conscious. No guilt. He’s nothing but a killing, feeding machine.”

Willow turned towards Xan. E-eye cracked with the surge of energy; however, it was the pure fury in the green eye that made him falter. “He is not nothing!” She hissed at him and watched him step back from her. She looked at the couch again. Both blondes awaited her decision, no stress, no words, just pleading eyes.

Cruelty, human cruelty had done this. Taken a proud creature and reduced him to this, begging and pleading. She let her green eye take in the vampires on the couch. E-eye couldn’t show her the doubt. They were sure she would say no and damn the other universe’s Spike to his fate.

Willow ignored Xander and walked with purpose to the couch. She used the hand with the cables, wires and modifications to take Spike’s chin. She could feel the cool, silky skin beneath her touch. She squeezed hard and he tried to twist his head away.

E-eye could detect the chip going off. She stared into the blue eyes as they dilated with the pain. She increased the pressure. The skin began to bruise and tears gathered within the blue eyes.

Even this inhuman hand, this melding of metal made the chip react. Spike could do nothing but bear the pain and hope she didn’t snap his neck. He had no defenses. He was at the mercy of anyone with human DNA. Yet he didn’t beg. No whimper, no sign he was experiencing pain, beyond the tenseness in his body and the slight filling in his eyes.

The other Spike pulled on her arm and she could hear him talking and telling her to let go. It meant nothing. The eyes beneath her hand spoke of such agony and such a need to be free. He was what he was, nothing more and nothing less. A beautiful creature they had tried to tame and failed, just as Wolfram & Hart had failed with her Spike.

She let go of his chin and her own Spike fell back, away from her and onto the couch, where he stared. Xander paused by the couch unsure what decision had been made.

Willow dropped to her knees in front of Spike and briefly held those eyes again before glancing at Xander. Returning her green eye to the vampire, she squeezed his hand. “I’ll try.”

She’d lost her right to bloodless hands years ago. This was just another drop in the bucket.

Part Fourteen

Xander was stunned, shocked, angry, and more than a little terrified. “Wills, you can’t…” There was a lot more he wanted to say but he couldn’t find the correct amount of terror to express it.

It was his job, as one of the good guys, to stop her. It said so on the club card. He had to reach her and make her listen. Then she stood up from the couch, turned towards him and Xander knew she had reached her decision. There was nothing he could do. It was too late.

Nothing he could do would change her mind but there was still hope. G-man would stop this. Heck, Angel would stop this. Well maybe not Angel. Not after the lovely dovey scene they’d witnessed earlier. “Where’s Giles?”

Willow was distracted looking at Spike’s head, one hand moving his hair back and the other stroking the side of the blonde’s face. It made Xander slightly ill as the vampire purred beneath her hands. She finally answered him, without removing her hands or looking his way. “They’re upstairs, planning.”

“So they were done with the elder and they didn’t even come by to tell me. They were just going to leave me sitting here. I think I’ll go upstairs.” Xander edged towards the door. If he could just get out of here before the un-chipped vampire caught on. His inner voice was still talking to Willow. It hadn’t caught up yet and he wasn’t going to give it the chance to. The way it had been acting. It might take the vampire’s side.

Xander barely suppressed a squeak as the un-chipped version got up from the couch and stalked his way. He backed right into the door, keeping his eyes on the vampire and reached behind him to open it. “I’ll be going now. To yell at them for leaving me here and planning without me, cause we all know how much I love planning.” Xander ducked out the door not even bothering to shut it. They could hear his footfalls speeding down the tunnel.

Wil shut the door and wandered towards the redhead, sitting with his counterpart on the couch. “He’s run off to tattle.”

“I know.” Willow answered. The cold mechanic eye beginning to glow with a translucent, blue light, “He won’t be fast enough. By the time he gets done playing Chicken Little, we’ll be done here.” Willow turned from the vampire walking towards her to the one by her side. “Be a dear Spike and lay your head on my lap.”

Willow ran the procedure through her mind, checking for flaws. She’d use e-eye to monitor Spike’s condition and the chip’s activity and small bit of magic to reach in and remove it. It was only a small spell. She could do this easy and with e-eye to guide her, nothing could go wrong. Willow tried for the first time since e-eye to have faith in her magic.
Spike did as the witch asked his hands shook this was it. He’d been waiting for this for so long. If he’d ever prayed this would have been the answer. “Aren’t going to fry me brains are ya, Luv?”

“No, I’m going to be very careful. By the way, Xan said the elder was ready for your attention.” Willow ran her hands through the blonde’s hair waiting for the vampire’s response. She was sure this would prompt the vampire into moving ahead. Spike tensed beneath her hands but the eyes that looked at her were determined and angry.

“Do it.”

Xander could practically hear his internal voice kicking back into gear. ‘Run, Forrest, Run! You sure know how to make an exit with your dignity intact.’ “Shut up.” He mumbled back.

He asked several people which way before he was able to finally locate the stairs. Finding Giles took even longer. The watcher was sitting at a table overlooking an old book. Xander couldn’t even fake the surprise. He didn’t see Xan anywhere but could hear his voice from within a large circle, which was of the good. Xander didn’t want to have any unpleasant talks with his counterpart. Nor did he see Angel, which was also of the good.

“Giles!” The watcher continued to read, immersed in the book. Xander bounced between his feet, fearing for life, liberty and pursuit of chocolate. Xander did the only thing he could think of. He took the book away.

“Xander! Watch it. That book is priceless.” Giles reached for the book and gave up trying to retain it. So not to endanger the precious volume he allowed Xander to hold it. “I thought you were in Xan’s room. What are you doing up here taking my reading material?”

“Trouble Willow, Spike-chip.” Xander had to breath. He stepped back out of the watcher’s reach with the book and huffed quick breaths.

“Xander, if you are trying to do a fine rendition of Lassie, you have done so. Now speak clearly, what are you going on about?”

Xander rolled his eyes. Next tragedy he was staying out of it. “Willow is going to take our Spike’s chip out. You have to stop her.”

Giles jumped up, book forgotten. “Oh dear god. I hope you remember the way back.” Giles charged ahead and paused, realizing he was alone. He turned back. Xander was still leaning back, catching his breath. “Come on, Xander. We have no time to for you to gather wool. Put that book down and lead the way.”

Xander huffed and mumbled as he pushed past the watcher. “Just follow lassie. No ones ever listens then its go Xander, come on Xander.”
“Really Xander, must you? And put some speed into it.” Giles broke ahead and grabbed Xander’s arm, pulling him along. Xander stuck his tongue out at the watcher’s back.

It was a frantic run down into and through the tunnels. After Xander leading them wrong a few times, Giles had taken the lead. By asking continuously ‘which way’, from passers by. They had managed to get Xan’s room in pretty good time.

Giles stormed through the door. Xander hot on his heels and he ran straight into the watcher’s back. Xander looked over Giles’ shoulder. The longhaired counterpart was grinning from the couch and holding Willow’s hand. Willow looked weak and tired, leaning heavily on the vampire.

Xander stepped around Giles and stared. Terror rose in his throat, he coughed, choking on it. Pretty good time hadn’t been enough.

Standing in the middle of the room was Spike, wearing a black tee shirt, black jeans, and his leather duster, sporting a smirk and spinning a long, vicious metal spike. “I’m back.” The blond cooed.

Xander caught Giles just before he hit the floor.

Part Fifteen

The Plan was in the final stages and Xan felt the pump of adenine begin to flood his veins. This was it. This battle could very well signal the end for Wolfram & Hart, all within this very small window. He was taking a chance, throwing everything they had into this and it was a terrible risk, but everything was a risk. Xan could not let this gauntlet lay.

Xan was humming with energy when Queen was able to pull him from the table. “Xan, your counterpart was up here. He and Giles took off in a hurry.”

It took Xan a moment to put together what she was saying through the buzz. “Spike!” He turned to leave, duty made him stop and turn around. “C, the planning stage is done. Get everyone ready. We leave within the hour.”

He didn’t wait to see her nod.

Xan pushed his way through the masses, trying to be polite. His face; however, showed his need to hurry and people stepped out his way and paused in their remarks.

Xan saw Angel and grabbed the vampire. “What Xan? Where are we going?”

“Spike!” That one word propelled the vampire to follow. Along the way Xan told Angel what Queen had said and Angel in returned mentioned Willow and her earlier disappearance. The implications put wings to their feet and no one dared interrupt what was obviously a running matter of life and death.

Xan knowing where he was going blind, much less a mad dash, made record time to his room’s door, but he hesitated with his hand on the knob. Squeezing his eyes shut, momentarily, he told himself whatever was behind this door was already done. Knowing himself Xan knew if it was bad then all hell would break loose.

He shook his head slightly. This was the sort thing that made leaders lose their marbles. So with Angel standing anxiously, practically on his ass. Xan opened the door.

It wasn’t exactly the blood massacre Xan had planned to find. In fact no blood was to be found and he was about ready to feel like a complete idiot. Till he noticed not all was right. In fact it was wrong by long shot. Giles was out on the couch and Willow was sitting by his head. She was lightly slapping the watcher with her human hand, a steady stream of worried mumbling dropping from her lips.

Xander, his not so competent counterpart, was holding a stake in front of both Spikes who seemed unconcerned and stood before the guy smoking and smirking.

Angel spoke first. “What the hell is going on?”
Not taking his eyes off the vampires in front of him, Xander replied. “She,” he nodded towards Willow, “un-chipped Spike and so I’m trying to do the right thing by staking him. Spike, come on, just stand still and take it like a man, well an evil, undead man.”

“Don’t think so, pet.” Spike waved the cigarette with an air of confidence he hadn’t shown in quite sometime. “Haven’t done anything. You can’t stake me for not being the leashed pet anymore. You come near me with that match stick and I’ll stick it up your arse, mate.”

Xander was sure the un-chipped version could do exactly what he threatened. He paused. Completely unsure if he was willing to push the vampire and see what a stake up the ass felt like. “As soon as you step one un-chipped foot back into our universe. Buffy’s going to stake your ass anyway. So be a pal and take this with some dignity.”

Angel was floored. Spike, his childe was whole. It was a blessing and the biggest curse he’d ever had the mis-luck of witnessing. His lad was free, free to go anywhere and not live in constant fear. Free to kill. Free not to need him for anything. Free to kill, Angel clearly saw the embers of what could have been fade out and turn into a fine ash.

Xan saw no problem, with the exception of his counterpart holding a stake. “Red, you alright?”

She gave him a weak smile. “I did it with magic and I didn’t mess up.”

Xan shared her smile. Amazed she’d been able to complete the task without a nervous breakdown. “I know and I knew you could do it. You did good, witchy woman.”

Her grin increased and she yawned, returning her attention to the awaking watcher. Xan turned his eyes back to the vampires, still standing before Xander. “Did you thank her?” Xan questioned the newly un-chipped vampire.

Willow spoke up from the couch. “They gave me kisses and said I was the best witch in the world.” She laughed. “They almost made me blush. It’s not often I get the attention of two beautiful men.”

Xan grinned as the blush reappeared. Then gave a withering gaze towards his vampire, who ducked his head. They’d have to have the ‘don’t kiss others’ chat later. “Then I have nothing to say but congratulations Spike and behave yourself.”

Xander actually removed his gaze from the vampires to Xan. “Are you crazy? We can’t let him go.”

Xan turned his full attention to his counterpart. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You forget where you’re at. There’s no Buffy here. However, there is a free cell that could be yours.”

Xander dropped the stake. He wasn’t the cell type of guy. “Just behave yourself bleached wonder, or I’ll find a way.”

Spike shrugged, unconcerned by anything Xander could ‘attempt’ to do to him. The only thing that bothered Spike was Angel, who hadn’t said one word. “Angel?”

Angel shook his head to clear away the ash of what might have been and looked at the vampire standing only feet away. Angel wanted so much to hold him, to tell him it was great. Instead he gave his best smile and said. “Congratulations, do your best not get staked.”

Something was off in the reply. It gave Spike cold chills but he couldn’t pin point why. So smirk in place, he nodded. “Thanks. Can’t promise to behave but I can promise not to get staked. Good enough Peaches?”

Angel receded back into his haze and keeping the pain from his face, he nodded at the vampire’s words. Already Angel could see this would be so very bad for himself. Now he had more problems than getting back to his own universe. He had to figure out a way to save Spike from everyone waiting there and his own good guy duty.

Xan saw the pain flash on Angel’s face. However he didn’t make the connection from what he could see all was of the good here. Besides Xan could only handle five crises at a time and with the battle coming up. Everything else had a back burner.

Xan did have to make one thing clear before he could rush into his plans. “Spike.” He paused making sure he had both Spikes attention and when he could see both sets of clear blue eyes locked on him, he continued. “Remember the rules. You can’t not feed or hunt within these tunnels. To do so is a death warrant and as much as I love you.” Xan nodded towards his own vampire. “And care about you.” He nodded towards the other. “I would have no choice but to have you staked. So please, do a guy a favor don’t put me through that.”

His vampire answered first. “No. We wouldn’t do that, would we?” He looked to his companion, who seemed to need longer to make up his mind and then decided to smile.

“Na, mate wouldn’t do that. Wouldn’t want to ruin a good thing. However, you did promise us a bit of fun.” Spike still held the spike, in the hand opposite of one holding the cigarette, and began to spin it again.

“That I did and I always keep my promises.” He winked at his Wil, who grinned back.

“I have some folks and one particular that needs some attention. We have to step out for a little while. Re-con work, boring stuff really and you’d really be doing a service.”

Xan prayed the others would keep their mouths shut. Giles now awake seemed to be coping and not in the mood to say anything. Angel just nodded agreeing right along and Xander, who knew nothing said nothing, but looked at him with interest.

Spike seemed to take this in. “So we can do whatever and no questions asked?”

“I have only one request, the elder. I don’t see him alive again.”

Spike liked the way this guy thought. “And the others?”

Xan smiled, a smile Spike, Giles and even Xander were sure his counterpart could not copy. A smile Angelus would understand and Spike liked. “There’s a list of information we need. Ask for the list and if you get the information. I need the room, understood?”

Spike grinned and licked his lips. “Understood.”

“Good. Now we have to get going. People tend to get antsy when I’m late. I’m going to leave Riley with you guys. He’ll take you to the prison.” Silently he added. ‘And watch over you two.’

Wil nodded. He’d be all right with Riley. He trusted the guy. The other made a face of complete hate and a smirk that clearly said leaving Riley might not be a good idea.

Xan didn’t have time for this. He needed to leave someone his vampire trusted and Riley was it. “Spike, this is not your Riley. This one cares about our Spike a lot, which means he cares for you a lot. So don’t push it.”

Spike turned to his counterpart, who nodded in agreement. Spike wisely decided to save his lesson for the one who deserved it. “I’ll try.”

Xan rolled his eyes. “No William. You’ll do.”

“Alright then mate. I’ll do.” Xan figured the blonde’s counterpart would stop him from doing any serious damage and let it go. Time was a wasting.

Xan reached out and snagged his vampire and held him lightly. Letting him be aware he wasn’t trapped and waited. Then Wil relaxed in his arms and he leaned down and kissed those sweet lips. Cigarette’s, whiskey, there went his hidden stash of booze but it was a loss well worth the taste in the cool mouth.

Xan could tell his love was uneasy being kissed in front of group of people but he waited till his need for breath made him pull back. He gazed into the blue eyes, praying the blond could see his love, feel it in his arms. “I love you.”

Somewhere behind them, Xander made a gagging noise but all Xan could see were the blue eyes gazing into his own. “I love you too, be careful.”
For a moment Xan thought the vampire knew something was up, could read the lie in his eyes. Then Wil stepped out of his arms and the moment was gone.

Not wanting to press his luck. Xan nodded and walked towards the door, not before hugging the other Spike, who actually let him briefly, before pulling away with a curse. Xander still dropped a kiss on his head. As he passed by Angel, he leaned in. “You might not come back.”

Xan looked back purposely not looking at the blonds and gestured for Willow, Xander, and Giles to follow him. Giles helped the still unsteady witch to the door. Xan wondered if the witches timing might be a little off, doing such a spell before an attack.

As if reading Xan’s mind which he wouldn’t put past her. She straightened and pulled away from any helping hands, her eyes clear and focused. Xan held the door for them and before he shut it he glanced back to see an uncertain Angel standing before the blondes.

He turned to lean against the wall and waited for Angel. Xan happened to look at the confused face of his counterpart and a thought sprang to mind. He hoped his counterpart could shoot or at the least could hit the broad side of a barn.

Angel wasn’t sure what Xan had expected him to say. Not without giving away that a lot more was going on than a simple recon. His emotions were so tied up right now. So he stood and realized, not for the first time, that he should never be left in a room alone with these two.

So he made small talk. “If you get hungry. Xan say’s there’s bagged blood. Riley will know where it is, but you might not need it with the, um prisoners.”

Spike looked at him uncertainly and Wil leaned in and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. “Be careful, Sire.” He turned away from Angel and towards the bedroom. “I think I saw some old clothes of mine in Xan’s chest. I’m going to change.” He shut the bedroom door behind him.

Spike glared at the door and yelled out loud enough for his counterpart to hear. “Could have told me that, before I raided Xan’s dresser.”

There was no answer from the other room and Spike resumed looking at Angel. “Well just like home, huh Peaches? Have fun, but not to much, don’t want Angelus popping up and all.”

Angel briefly closed his eyes. They were going to have to discuss the ‘Angelus thing’ when he returned. “Yeah, just like home. Be good all right. Please.” Angel quickly kissed the blonds forehead and rushed towards the door.

From behind him, Angel softly heard. “Be careful, Sire.”

He squeezed his eyes shut and without turning around, he answered. “I will.”

Stepping through the door without turning back and explaining everything pushed Angel’s restraints but he did and took an unneeded breath, as the door shut behind him.

Xan was waiting. Angel looked around but didn’t see the others. “I sent them ahead. So they could get filled in and so Queen could teach Xander the right end of a gun. You alright, need to sit this one out?”

Angel shook his head. “No. I need to go give back Wolfram & Hart some of their own hell back. Why didn’t you tell them where we’re going?”

“Could you see them saying, ‘oh okay have fun’ and letting us go, without them? My Spike isn’t battle ready yet. He might falter and yours needs to get used to being un-chipped. Either of them could’ve frozen and I’m not taking that chance.”

“With this mission?”

“With them.” Xan turned away. Not only was he not used to caring about one person so very much. This one persons daddy was testing him.

Angel looked past Xan and into the tunnels. He watched Riley making his way towards them. Angel trusted Xan with Wil to a point, but Riley? Xan pushed off the wall and walked towards Riley. Angel followed.

Riley smiled at Xan’s approach. “Willow told me. I’ll take care of them. Don’t worry about a thing. They’ll be so busy they won’t have time to cause trouble.”

Xan smiled back. “I’m not asking the impossible. Just make sure they don’t kill anyone outside the cells and that the place is still standing when I get back. That’s all I ask.”

Riley saluted with a grin. “Yes Sir. Place still standing and no bodies filling the tunnels got it.”

Xan nodded and continued past. Angel leaned into Riley. “With your life, my friend. One problem and you forfeit it.” Angel walked on catching. from corner of his eye, as the man turned back to watch them leave, a weird look of pension on his face.

Angel smirked and caught up to Xan, who tilted his head to glance at him as they walked. “Was that necessary?”

Angel thought Xan had been to far ahead to hear his warning. It didn’t matter. He felt better having given it. “I think so. Why do you trust him and why does Wil?”

“I did notice yours tended to be a little aggressive towards the idea of Riley. Why is that?”
Not giving, Angel replied. “I asked first.”

Xan shrugged. “It’s not a secret. Our Riley once worked for Wolfram & Hart. He had a nasty addiction of being fed on by vampires that W&H abused. Wil found him. I don’t know the whole story, but somehow Wil got him clean. Since then Wil’s recruited him and saved Riley’s life. Oh, about 14 times and counting. Riley would die for him, without a thought and when Wil was captured, he was with Riley.”

Xan paused and making sure Angel was with him, the vampire had fallen silent and Xan continued when Angel nodded. “Riley blamed the hell out of himself. For weeks all he did was explain to everyone that would listen how it was his fault and he should’ve been the one taken. It was sad. I thought he was going to lose it but instead he got more dedicated to stopping Wolfram & Hart than anyone.”

“So Spike and Wil are safe with him?”

Xan resisted the urge to hit the vampire. “Weren’t you just listening? Ri would die for Spike. Yes, they are safe with him.”

Angel nodded and moments stretched between them in silence. Xan led the way up the stairs towards his awaiting army. As his hand reached to open the door at the end of the stairs and he had to ask. “Your turn. Why does yours hate Riley?”

Angel dropped his head and when he returned his eyes to Xan’s they had a yellow twinge. “He’s one of the people responsible for the chip.”

Xan nodded, expecting as much. “Are you angry? Or are you still in angst over the whole un-chipped deal?”

Angel glanced at him in confusion surprised Xan had noticed. “You don’t understand my Spike being un-chipped opens a whole lot of problems for me.” Xan walked through the hidden door and before Angel could follow him. Xan turned and blocked the entry with his arm.

“Angel, I’ve got a simple solution. Leave him here.” At Angel’s shocked expression, Xan smirked. “I’m not saying I can handle two of them, but I’ll be damned if I let you hurt him and by God the experience alone would be worth dying for.”

Angel grabbed Xan’s shirt and shoved him into the wall. For the second time that day Xan’s head hit the wall. He briefly wondered if he should be worried that Angel might have a thing for him. From what Xan had seen of Angel and Spike’s relationship, on both sides of the mirror, Angel showed affection by throwing people into walls.

“He’s mine and you best remember it.” Angel growled, letting him go with a shove.

Xan smiled. He even got the growl. He’d better make sure Angel didn’t have marriage in mind. As much as he wanted to laugh, he kept his expression blank. “Then get your soul out of your ass and start acting like he matters more than what your friends think.”

Angel was silent and Xan assumed he was thinking. Not what Xan need right now. He shrugged. “Fine, you think about it. As for me I’ve got some naughty pictures in my head. Can’t go to battle thinking of twin blondes, can I? Nope wouldn’t be prudent. So you go ahead and do the ‘right’ thing and back off and make your slayer proud. While you’re doing that I’m going to scoot right back down to my room and work off some aggression. Tell the army to go ahead without me.”

Xan turned to go back down the stairs. Angel’s arm shot out and grabbed his in an iron grip. “I want to kill you right now.”

Xan nodded at the vampire. “Are you?”

“No. I’m going to think about what you’ve said.”

“Good idea.” Xan tilted his head towards his hand. Angel glanced down. The vampire saw the tip of a stake poking from Xan’s sleeve. A stake, Angel hadn’t even seen and very close to his heart.

Angel backed away. “Like I said. I’ll think about it but never lay a hand on my Spike.”

“If you do the right thing. I may sadly never have the chance.” Xan pulled himself completely out of Angel’s grasp.

As Xan walked away Angel called out. “Besides did you forget, you’re leading this army? They can’t ‘go ahead without you’.”

Xan ran a hand through the mop on his head before smirking back to the vampire behind him. “The suffocating weight of leadership. Forget it never. Willing to hand it off, sure, you offering?”

Walking backwards, Xan watched a record of expressions parade across Angel’s features. “No, Xan. Just wondering where your priorities are.”

Xan schooled his face into neutrality. “They’re where they should be. See yours get there or I’ll take up the challenge myself.”

Even the few feet away they were Xan could see the vampire’s eyes turn again at the mentioning of him and Spike. “That piss you off soul-boy, thinking about me and him?”

“Yes.” Angel hissed.

“Good, aim it at Wolfram & Hart.” Xan turned away from the vampire, cutting off whatever Angel might have said. Opening his arms wide and speaking out for the first time loud enough for the room in general to hear. “Alright, everybody saddle up.”



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The Spander Files