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A Sire's Family

Chapter Text

Title: A Sire's Family
Author: The Lady Merlin
Rating: NC17
Warnings: Explicit sexual content
Pairing: Angel/Spike, Drusilla/Sam
Prompt: Community: Taming the Muse #391 Damage Assessment
Chapter: Book 3 ~ Part 1
Status: In progress
Fandom: BtVS & AtS
Genre: AU
Beta (s): none, proofread
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss
Graphic: Banner by The Lady Merlin
Summary: The relationship between Angel and Spike is strained while Xander is learning to cope with his new status as a vampire and with his new Sire, Penn
A/N: This is Book 3 of My Sire, My Childe - Book 2 is A Sire's Love and Book 1 is A Sire's Call

 photo ASiresFamily_zpse1021644.png

The night was dark, one of those truly pitch black ones you seem to only get out in the country without all those street lights around to give that hazy orange glow of a city. Sunnydale was just small enough to offer one of those dark backdrops of velvet for the shining, twinkling brightness above.

Spike sat on the edge of the large, circular fountain contemplating the stars as if, like his sister, they could give him some kind of answer or even a clue as to what he was supposed to do next. Everything was such a complete and total mess and he wasn't sure how it all managed to get that way. Things had been actually going well for a change. It had been nice to be with family again, even Penn in an odd way. He considered the possibility of simply leaving, knowing from experience that he could make it on his own just fine.

But there was Xander to consider. He sighed and let his fingers make ripples on the surface of the still water. They had relocated to the mansion on Crawford street while waited for the newest Aurelian to rise and as a fledge of Penn, Spike didn't know what to expect. He needed to stick around to protect his friend – family now he supposed. He couldn't say he was truly unhappy with that, but Penn was an unknown and he had yet to puzzle out why Penn had kissed him that day in the gym. No, he needed to stay. Of course, staying also meant he would have to honour his agreement with his Sire. After what happened, Spike wasn't sure he could do that.

Spike felt the presence of his Sire at his back, as if by merely thinking of him, he had made him appear. Shame he wasn't sure he wanted to see the git, let alone speak to him. He took his hand from the water and gave it a shake, watching as the small droplets flung from his had made small splashes in the water, marring the otherwise perfect reflection of the night sky. Knowing he couldn't delay any longer, he turned and faced his Sire.

“Angel,” Spike said, carefully keeping his voice neutral, not giving away anything of his inner turmoil. Angel took a step closer but stopped his movement when Spike stepped back. The elder vampire closed his eyes but not before Spike had gotten a glimpse of the pain lingering in the brown depths. His heart wrenched for his Sire and he clenched his jaw and his hands to keep himself from going to him. “What are ya here for? Damage assessment?”

Angel's hurt look intensified, but instead of it making Spike feel better, it only made him feel worse himself.

Angel scrubbed a hand tiredly over his face. “William, please. I only came to talk... to explain,” Angel said quietly.

“Okay. Fine. Talk,” Spike said, seating himself back on the curved edge of the fountain and crossing his arms.

“I didn't stop Penn from siring the boy.”

“Penn,” Spike scoffed, “some Sire.”

“I'm sorry, Will, but it was the best that I could do.”

“Well, maybe that isn't good enough,” Spike challenged, trying very hard to keep hold of his anger, which he could feel faltering and trickling away like grains of sand in the face of his Sire's obvious suffering.

“I'm sorry, William. It's all I have,” Angel pleaded.

A sadness swept over Spike. His Sire was his everything and was supposed to be perfect. In his head, he knew that was stupid as Angel had made plenty of mistakes in the past. Why did he think it would be any different now? He knew the answer and it was the same thing that always happened. Spike knew in his head that his Sire was flawed and imperfect, but try telling that to his fragile, foolish heart. He loved his Sire as much as he always had and he was finding it hard to regret that fact. “I'm sorry, too, Angel.”

Angel sat carefully next to him, as if he didn't want to push, and was giving Spike his space if he needed it. “I know you probably won't believe me, but I never wanted Xander to die.”

Spike looked up, head tilted in curiosity, instinctively knowing his Sire was telling the truth.“Then why didn't you help him?”

“I have a soul,” Angel replied simply.

Spike shook his head.“That didn't stop you from siring Sam. Why was Xan any different? Or was it because it was something I wanted?”

Angel sighed heavily and gazed up at the stars for several long moments before speaking. “You have no idea how I've punished myself over the years for what I did to Sam, but I didn't have any choice.” Angel turned back to Spike, pinning him with the intensity of his gaze, the pain lingering still, after all these years. “It was either turn Sam or sacrifice every single person on that sub.”

An ember of his old anger crackled and flared back into life. “Right, “Spike snapped,“so let me get this straight – if other lives were at risk, you would have turned Xander? Is that what you're sayin'?”

Angel looked puzzled as if he didn't understand where Spike was heading with this. “I...yes, I suppose if there wasn't any other choice. But there was a choice this time.”

Spike sneered, “You call Penn a choice! You couldn't do this for me?”

Angel's head snapped back as if Spike had physically slapped him across the face. “Is that what this is all about?” Angel shook his head, sadly. “Oh, Will. I couldn't turn Xander because of you.”

“What!?” Spike shouted, confusion dissipating his anger. “You know how much he means to me!”

“Yes,” Angel agreed, nodding. “And that is exactly the problem. Besides, being an added and unnecessary burden on my soul, it also would have been added competition.”

Spike barked out a short laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. “Are you trying to tell me you're jealous of Xander?”

Angel looked embarrassed. “I didn't say that. Exactly.”

“Then what are you trying to say...exactly?” Spike asked, peering at his Sire, who kept ducking his head.

Angel wrung his hands and stared at his feet. Spike could only watch in amazed wonder at the sight of his normally totally cool and in control Sire squirm with embarrassment. Angel finally opened his mouth. “I may have felt that as you are already my Childe, it may have been uncomfortable for both Xander and myself if I were to sire Xander. You know what a relationship between Sire and Childe is like. How would you have felt having to compete with Xander for your Sire's attention?”

Huh. This was new, Spike thought. Out loud he said, “So you did this just to protect me and has nothing to do with the fact that you've been jealous of Xander from the beginning?” He didn't bother to hide his amusement at his Sire's expense and was getting ready to hit out with another well placed insult when he felt it. It made him pause and standing, he sucked in a breath as the pulse of family went through him once more. Spike felt Angel stand beside him as well. Of course, as the head of the family, he would feel it, too. The call of like to like. The ancient shiver which told every Aurelian in the area that their number had just increased by one.

Spike turned and headed for the door at a brisk pace. Urgency pushed him faster and he nearly ran up the stairs, his Sire right behind him. He needed to get to that room to greet his new brother. A new Childe had been born this night, Xander was awake.

Chapter Text

Title: A Sire's Family
Author: The Lady Merlin
Rating: NC17
Warnings: Explicit sexual content
Pairing: Angel/Spike, Drusilla/Sam
Prompt: Community: Taming the Muse #395 Broken Soul
Chapter: Book 3 ~ Part 2
Status: In progress
Fandom: BtVS & AtS
Genre: AU
Beta (s): none, proofread
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss
Graphic: Banner by the Lady Merlin
Summary: The relationship between Angel and Spike is strained while Xander is learning to cope with his new status as a vampire and with his new Sire, Penn

 photo ASiresFamily_zpse1021644.png

Spike rushed up the stairs, taking them two at a time in his rush to see his friend. He could feel Angel right behind him but really wasn't paying much attention to his Sire. His entire focus was getting to that room and his desperate need to see his friend to reassure himself that Xander was well and unharmed.

Intellectually he knew the vague, irritating, and more than likely irrational, feelings of unease were partly because of the magicks involved. The siring of a Childe created a powerful magical resonance which clashed with Spike's own inherent magic. It was one of the reasons he had chosen to wait for this moment outside rather than inside where he would have been closer to Xander. He'd also wanted some time alone to sort through his feelings about what had happened and how he felt about his Sire.

Spike shoved all those thoughts aside as he pushed through the door without bothering to knock. He stopped short at the sight before him and grunted when Angel bumped into him from behind and grasped Spike around the middle to keep him from falling.

Spike was grateful for his Sire's supporting arm, because otherwise the shocking sight of Penn gently cradling Xander, who was feeding from his own Sire's neck, would have had him dropping to the floor.

“Beautiful aren't they?” Angel whispered, obviously not wanting to disturb the pair on the bed.

Spike nodded, unable to tear his eyes away from the entrancing scene before him. “I...but...” Spike trailed off, confused.

He'd never imagined Penn being gentle or caring. Whenever Spike had been anywhere near Penn, the elder vampire had been cruel and was as likely to strike out with hurting, painful words as he was with a hard, painful punch.

“What is it William?” Angel questioned, giving Spike a hug with the arm still wrapped around his Childe.

Spike tried to from his thoughts into words as he continued to watch Xander feed while Penn ran hands, which Spike knew from experience were rough and unforgiving, carefully and tenderly over Xander's cheeks and shoulders. Spike could see Xander's body arching into the gentle touches. “I've never seen Penn...act so...I didn't think he could care for anyone like that.”

Angel surprised Spike by chuckling and placing a light kiss to Spike's neck. “You've never really gotten a chance to know Penn. He may have seemed uncaring and cruel to you back then, but do you think you could give him a chance? At the very least for Xander's sake?”

If his Sire had asked him that question while they were still down by the fountain, Spike would have immediately said no. The sting of his punishment still fresh in his mind would have been enough of a deterrent, but he also recalled all the other times Penn had managed to cause him pain. Now though, he wasn't so sure and there was Xander to consider. But could he trust his Sire? Spike sighed. The magicks were still heavy in the air and making him tired. He really didn't want to deal with all this right now. “Maybe.” He felt his Sire stiffen behind him. “Best I can do right now,” he said, echoing Angel's earlier explanation for allowing Penn to sire Xander.

“That will do for now,” Angel replied, releasing Spike and giving him a slight push. “Go. Greet our newest Childe.”

Xander had finished his first feeding and was watching them curiously, a grin softening his demonic features. Spike thought he was going to make a fine addition to the Aurelius family, who had always been envied for their strong, gifted and attractive Childer. Penn stood and gestured to the empty space on the bed, which Spike quickly and happily filled.

“Xander,” he breathed, a hand ghosting over the younger vampire's face.

Xander sniffed at Spike and smiled. “Family now.”

“Yes,” Spike responded, tilting his head and exposing his neck.

He closed his eyes when he felt the fangs pierce his skin, marvelling at Xander's inherent skill. He'd expected a more savage bite and greedy gulps not this careful piercing and delicate sips. It only reaffirmed his earlier assumption that Xander would be a fine addition to the family. He pulled back when Xander finished lapping away the last stray droplet from his neck.

Spike looked up when a hand caressed his shoulder to see his Sire standing by the bed. As head of the Order, it should have been Angel who welcomed the new Childe to the family after his first feeding from his Sire. Pushing aside any last residual feelings of animosity, Spike rose and kissed his Sire before joining Penn to watch as Angel now took up his rightful duty.

Xander went willingly into Angel's arms, and using the same care he'd used with Spike, he sank his fangs into Angel's neck. Spike knew first hand how potent Angel's blood was and wasn't surprised by Xander's moan. He was surprised by the fierce stab of jealousy that made him want to grab Xander by the neck and fling him across the room. He balled his hands and kept his feet firmly planted despite the screaming of his demon. Maybe Angel had been telling the truth earlier? If Spike was feeling like this when Xander was a Childe of Penn, how would he have felt if Xander had been turned by his own Sire?

~*~

Angel could feel William fighting his demon and was glad he'd allowed his Childe to greet Xander first. He eased Xander from his neck and looked upon him with a fondness he'd never felt for the human version. He supposed it was only fair that he should give Xander the same chance he had asked Spike to give to Penn.

Thinking of Penn, he turned to his eldest Childe and rising from the bed he held out his hand. “Come,” he said, leading a reluctant Penn into the hall and closing the door behind them. It would give William and Xander some privacy to talk and help settle his Childe's confused, possessive demon. It would be good for Xander as well. William and Xander had been friends before the turning and would be better friends now they were family.

“Sire?” Penn questioned.

Angel could see the upset in his eyes and hurried to reassure him. “It will help settle them. William needs to make sure his friend is okay.”

“I wasn't hurting him. I won't,” Penn scowled. “He's my Childe.”

“I know that Penn but William doesn't. I've never really explained your behaviour when you were still with us.”

Penn snorted and shook his head. “ And knowing Spike, he never would've listened.”

“Or believed.” Angel remembered the strong feelings of jealousy emanating from his Childe. “I think he will now though.”

“I doubt it,” Penn said, dejectedly, staring at the floor. “He's always hated me.”

Angel placed a finger under Penn's chin and tilted his face back up. “He didn't always hate you. But I admit, you didn't help matters with the way you acted. He'll believe. You'll see Penn. When I greeted your Childe, Spike was warring with himself. Simmering with a jealousy he didn't understand. He'll get over it. Have you Penn?”

“Yes...no. I'm sorry, Sire. I- I still love him.”

Angel hugged the saddened vampire, knowing his affections would soon turn from William and focus on his own Childe. “It's okay Penn. He's strangely easy to love. But remember, William's mine.”

~*~

“So how does it feel?”

Xander looked from the movie on the screen and over at his friend, settling back on the pillow behind his head. “It's kinda strange, ya know? I wasn't really sure what to expect. Giles said that demons don't have a soul but I don't feel like I lost my soul, it only feels.... a little broken.”

Spike laughed and rolled over on the bed so he was on his side. “You have such a simple way of putting things. But you're right. We don't really lose our soul.”

Xander slid down the bed, movie forgotten and gave Spike a look of complete bafflement. “But what about Angel? I thought he was cursed with his soul?”

“When you get turned and the demon takes over it's like your soul gets shoved aside. It's more a matter of control than being soulless. Minions and the like don't have much control over their demons at all and some were right bastards even before they were turned.”

“That makes sense but it still doesn't explain what happened to Angel. If he didn't get cursed with his soul then what happened?”

“The curse didn't return his soul, it only changed what was the dominant. Before the curse, Angel's demon was more powerful and merely tempered by his soul. Now, his soul is firmly in charge. It was like putting his demon in a cage.”

“So Angel's walking around with a trapped demon inside him?” Spike nodded and Xander's eyes went wide in understanding. “Woah. That is some curse. I never really got it before. When Willow explained it to me I thought it was kinda lame. Guess not, huh?”

“No,” Spike agreed. “Especially at first. All the guilt from years of running with Darla.”

“She was pretty brutal, wasn't she?” Xander asked, remembering his friend, Jesse.

“She was a bitch,” Spike corrected. “Vampires aren't all bloodthirsty murderous creatures. We have control. You don't feel like running out and killing everyone, do you?”

“Nope,” Xander agreed. “Could go for a Twinkie. Or some chocolate.”

Spike grinned. “Later. Point is Darla encouraged violence and enjoyed the kill, and she wanted Angel to be just like her. And he was for a while.”

“And that's what he feels guilty for?”

“Mostly,” Spike hedged, not wanting to talk about his own abandonment issues. He did want to talk about Sires though. “Look, Xan. I want you to make me a promise. If Penn hurts you in any way, you tell me.”

“Sure but he's not gonna hurt me, is he? I mean, he's not like that Darla?”

Spike cringed at the look of fear on Xander's face and quickly tried to reassure him. “No, no it's not that. It's just...well, we've not always got on and he can be mean when he wants. We're family now, forever, and I won't ever let him hurt you. If he tries anything, anything at all, you tell me. I'll sort him out right away. Promise me?”

Xander snuggled against his friend, instinct causing him to want to soothe Spike's distress. “I promise, Spike.”

Spike returned the embrace, content with Xander's word and knowing he would do his best to protect him from any harm.

Chapter Text

Title: A Sire's Family
Author: The Lady Merlin
Rating: NC17
Warnings: Explicit sexual content
Pairing: Angel/Spike, Drusilla/Sam
Prompt: Community: Taming the Muse #397 Hyperventilate
Chapter: Book 3 ~ Part 3
Status: In progress
Fandom: BtVS & AtS
Genre: AU
Beta (s): none, proofread
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss
Graphic: Banner by The Lady Merlin
Summary: The relationship between Angel and Spike is strained while Xander is learning to cope with his new status as a vampire and with his new Sire, Penn

 photo ASiresFamily_zpse1021644.png

Willow shuffled nervously outside the front door of the house on Crawford Street. She wanted to enter, she really did. But what if... What if he was different now? What if he wasn't the same sweet boy who had held out a yellow crayon in one chubby, little fist and a bright smile on his face. That little boy became her very best friend that day and he still held that same place. But what if he didn't? Oh, she liked Spike well enough and the other vampires and demons were all nice, but what if Xander wasn't her Xander anymore. She raised a hand, but her fingers only brushed ineffectually up against the wood instead of knocking like she wanted. She fidgeted and wrung her hands, trying to calm herself and nearly jumped out of her skin with a 'meep' when the door swung open.

“Relax or you're gonna hyperventilate,” Spike chuckled. “And come in. Xander has been wondering where you are.” Spike moved aside to let her pass, dropping a supportive hand on her shoulder as she walked by.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling back. “I guess I'm a little nervous.”

“Why,” Spike asked, studying her curiously.

She leaned closer and whispered, “what if he's not my Xander any more?”

Spike laughed and shook his head. “Sorry, Red. I'm just constantly amazed by the things the watcher never bothered to teach any of ya. Although, I suppose if he had told you the truth, you may have been more reluctant to indiscriminately go around killing all the demons in town.”

Willow winced. “I'm really sorry. I would never – oh Goddess! Please tell me I never...I mean not someone you knew!”

“No worries. Only killed mindless fledges for the most part. No real harm done. And Xander is the same as he ever was, with the exception of a change of dietary requirements. O'course, by the way he's been inhaling all the chocolate in the house, you really couldn't tell.”

The relief was palpable and she let out a sigh that at least one crisis of conscience had been averted. “So, he's okay? Just a little....bumpy?”

“Why don't you come up and see for yourself?”

Willow nodded, her confidence returning. “I'd like that.”

She followed the vampire up the stairs and to the room Xander had used when he'd stayed her before.

Spike paused before opening the door. “He's still the same goofy, curious Xander you've always known. But he is a fledge so his control isn't as good as mine or the others.” Willow's eyes widened in alarm. “Now don't go getting' all jittery-like. He's not gonna try munching on yer neck or anything. And besides, I'll be right there the whole time. He was a smart, bright boy with a good soul before the demon and he's still that same boy underneath. Just a bit more... confident, maybe? And I'd say that was a good thing.” Willow felt herself smiling in agreement. “Ready?”

“Ready,” she replied.

Willow wasn't sure what she expected, not really, and all the assurances in the world still didn't put to rest all her doubts and fears. But the way Xander's eyes lit up and the way he rushed across the room, sweeping her easily up in his arms to twirl her around the room until she was dizzy, made all those needless fears and worries fade to nothingness. She locked her arms around his neck, threw her head backand laughed with abandon. “I love you,” she said, when he finally out her down.

“I love you, too, Funny-face.”

She giggled and stepped back to look him over. “You look wonderful.”

“Thanks,” he said, smiling shyly. “I missed you.”

“Oh, I missed you.” Willow nibbled on her lip wondering if she should spoil everyone's good mood by bringing up Buffy. “Buffy missed you, too.” Xander sighed and she saw Spike stiffen. Maybe she should have kept quiet after all. But they couldn't avoid the topic of the slayer forever. She was their friend too. “Xander,” she began, laying a hand on his arm, “she never meant for you to get hurt.”

“I know,” Xander agreed. “She never means for anything to happen and always says she's sorry, but it isn't always enough, ya know?”

“She may not have meant it,” Spike said, his annoyance obvious, “but, according to Wes, her research was sloppy and she never should have put you in that kind of danger in the first place.” Spike started pacing, working himself up for a good rant. “Why that sorry excuse for a watcher let you help but never bothered to train you is a total mystery. It was an accident waiting to happen and I'm surprised it took this long. I'm just glad we were here to keep it from being any worse. No thanks to that bottle-blonde, air-headed, shallow, selfish, little girl you call the slayer.”

Willow started laughing. She couldn't help it. She figured it must have been all the tension of the last few days and then watching Spike in full on snark mode; it was all too much. She would never dare tell him, but Spike was so cute when he was all indignant on their behalf. She shrugged when Spike turned her way. “Sorry,” she offered.

Spike waved away her apology. “Doesn't matter. We'll be leaving here soon anyway and then I won't need to worry about her.”

“Hey, how about a movie night complete with snacks?” Xander suggested, changing the topic.

“Sounds good to me. Spike?”

Spike nodded and headed for the dvd shelf. “Fine, but I'm choosing the film this time. We are not watching Titanic again!”

Spike finally settled on Serenity, which suited Willow just fine as she thought Inara was gorgeous, and the plot was pretty good, too. They settled on Xander's bed with Willow in the middle, between her favourite guys and enough snacks to feed a small army.

~*~

Angel looked up as Penn and Wesley entered his study. “Ah, Penn, how is Xander?”

Penn smiled and took one of the seat in front of the large desk while Wesley settled in the other. “He's doing well and showing remarkable control of his demon for one so young. I've been wondering if the training he did with Spike has anything to do with it?”

“Possibly,” Angel replied. “William did say he was a good learner.”

“I hope you don't mind me asking, but I've noticed that while everyone else uses Spike while you almost always use William?”

Penn laughed. “I remember the awkward little fledge, who came home all proud and insisting we call him by his new name. We all indulged him, but Angelus refused, saying it was vulgar and unsuitable for his most favoured.”

Angel noted the lack of any pain, regret or anger while Penn recounted the tale with relief. The jealousy and rage his elder childe had felt after William's turning had kept the family apart for far too long.

“Fascinating,” Wesley commented.

“It was a long time ago and we have some things to discuss. We can't leave LA unattended and without a Master for too long. It will only cause trouble, especially with our rivals looking for any opportunity to take over. Penn can't leave his new Childe but I don't want to send Sam and Dru on their own. So, Wes, I would like you to go along with them.”

“Certainly. Although I don't know how much help I'll be. I may be good at research, but as Penn pointed out, I'm not very good at combat skills.”

“Sam and Dru are both skilled enough and there are wards protecting the hotel. Sam is young and Dru can be rather impulsive so I would feel better if someone more level headed went with them. We won't be long behind and you can call if were need to be there sooner.”

“Sound reasonable,” Wesley agreed. “When did you want us to leave?”

“Tonight.”

“I best get ready then,” he said, standing. He paused at the door. “Oh, out of curiosity, who set the wards?”

“William.”

Angel and Penn shared a smile as Wesley left the room, both clearly hearing the muttered 'fascinating' as he left.

~*~

Buffy paced back and forth across the library, flipping a stake up in the air and watching it spin before catching it and sending it back up again.

“Buffy,” Giles said, tiredly. “Must you?”

Buffy huffed in irritation, but pocketed the stake and crossed her arms. “I'm sorry but I don't like not knowing what's going on. First Xander disappears and now Willow is a no show.”

“I know it has been a difficult few days for you, but it was a lack of research which caused the problem in the first place. If you had come to me before running off-”

“I know,” Buffy interrupted. “You've given me the lecture already. Although, I still don't think it's fair. I don't have time to spend researching all day. I have school and patrol and it's so not my fault. If Spike hadn't taken up all their time then Xander and Willow would've gotten the research done and this never would've happened.”

Giles stood agog at her self serving reasoning. “I-I simply don't know what to say all that.”

“You don't have to say anything. You know I'm right. Look, I'm gonna go partol. I heard there's been some activity over by the big house on Crawford Street. See ya.”

“Crawford Street? Crawford Street!?” Giles turned to stop his slayer from being so foolish, but the swinging doors indicated she was already gone.

~*~

Angel sat staring at the amber liquid on his glass, contemplating his recent decisions. Keeping the house on Crawford Street had obviously been one of his better ones. Of course he'd never expected to need it to wait for a new Childe to rise. He was glad Penn had been there to turn Xander. He knew how fond Spike was of the boy and he could imagine the pain his passing would have caused his Childe. He hated the thought of William in any kind of pain and would prevent it if he could.

Which brought him right back round to their newest family member. Angel sipped at his drink, grateful for the warmth as he wondered for the millionth time if he would've turned Xander if Penn hadn't offered. Could he have done it simply for his Childe? Would he have done it just because they didn't want to lose their friend? No. It would have ended in disaster for all of them. Including Xander.

Angel had lived with all of this before. The jealousy, the rivalry and he refused to make the same mistake twice. No, he stood by his decision.

He looked over in surprise when his door opened and William slipped through.

“Sire.”

“William.” Angel hated this awkwardness, but didn't want to chance saying the wrong thing. His boy had always been so very volatile.

“I wanted to ask you about what you said before. About not turning Xan and trying to protect me.”

“What did you want to know?”

“When we were with Xander and you greeted him, I felt a flash of something. Is that what you were talking about?”

“Yes, it is.”

William crossed the room, lifted the decanter of whisky and poured himself a glass at Angel's nod of assent. William paced for a few moments before sitting on the floor near his Sire's feet. Angel smiled at the familiar action, but refrained from commenting.

“I don't understand and I keep getting the feeling that something important happened and I either don't know about it or somehow don't remember it.”
Angel decided it was time for honesty. “Ask me anything you want.”

“Fine. I want to know what the hell is going on. I know Penn has something to do with it. What happened?”

“Okay. And you're right about Penn. It happened right after I turned you. You were such a beautiful Childe and Penn loved you on sight, just like I did.”

“You've got to be kiddin' me. He always hated me!”

“Partly,” Angel agreed. “But he also loved you. Jealousy does funny things to a person, William. I didn't want that to happen to you even if it meant you hated me for it.”

“You risked your relationship with me to what? Save me?”

“More or less. Think about it, William, just think. How would you have felt if you discovered you hated Xander? How torn up you would have been inside. So torn up and mixed up that you would have been driven from the family to live alone in solitude, drifting. No, I would rather have you angry with me than lose you like that, the way I lost Penn.”

“Lost Penn?” Spike echoed. “Is that why he left?”

“Yes, he had to go and if he hadn't left on his own, I would have forced him to go. I refused to put you in any danger.”

“Why didn't you tell me all this before?”

“Would you have believed me? How would you have felt knowing your brother left because of you? Oh, I know you didn't get along, but you were still family. And then I was cursed and it was too late. I'd lost you anyway.”

William leaned back, resting his head against his Sire' leg. “I'm here now though.”

Angel smiled, sliding his finger's through his Childe's hair and setting the curls free. “Are you?”

“Yes, I am.”

Chapter Text

Buffy crept through the brush at the base of the trees which separated the house from the street and paused behind one of the larger trees. There was a small grassy area between where she was currently hiding and the front door. It was only a few short steps, but it might as well have been miles as those steps would be all in the open. She would be horribly exposed to anyone who happened to be looking out a window. And she really, really didn't want to get caught snooping.

When she'd realised the big house on Crawford Street, actually meant Angel's house on Crawford Street, she probably should have simply left. But she hadn't. She wasn't sure what had caused her to stay and want to see inside. Perhaps it was simply a curiosity about her ex or maybe she thought she'd get lucky and get a chance to stake the bleached bastard who had stolen her boyfriend. Either way she was still here and she was determined to find out what was going on. At the very least, since her alter ego was the slayer, it was her slayer duty to know what was happening in her town.

Satisfied with her reasoning, she peered around the tree once more, observing the trees nearer the corner of the house. She unconsciously gnawed at her lower lip while she considered her options. If she could get to the side of the house then she could duck under the windows and get to the front door without anyone seeing her. She nodded to herself, mind made up, and moved in a crouch to the next tree. Careful to avoid the branches under foot she made her way stealthily to the corner. A few steps later saw her successfully on the front porch, and she patted herself on the back for ingenuity and cleverness.

Buffy 'eeped' and jumped in surprise when the front door swung open.

“Hi, Buffy,” Willow greeted the surprised slayer.

“Hi,” Buffy responded as casually as possible while scrambling for a plausible reason for being here. “I, ah, I wanted to come by and see how you were.”

Willow's smile grew bigger but she didn't step aside or open the door wider so Buffy could enter. “I'm good.”

“Hey, Wills!”

Buffy started at the shout. She knew that voice. Pushing on the door, she barged her way inside, coming face to face with an equally startled Xander. “What? How? What?”

Xander shrugged and gave her a little wave. “Oh, hey Buff.”

“But you-you were dy-hurt and in the hospital. There is no way you could be healed by now. What the hell is going on?!” Buffy narrowed her eyes as her slayer senses started tingling. She grabbed Willow and shoved the other girl towards the still open door. “Willow! Get back. He's a vampire!”

Everyone turned when the door slammed shut with a loud bang.

“Don't you ever knock?” Spike asked, scowling.

“What is going on here?” Buffy asked instead of answering.

“Firstly, I suggest you put the stake away and step away from Xander.” Spike's tone was low and dangerous, and his eyes were icy and cold.

“Fine for now,” Buffy relented, stepping back. “But I want to know which one of you bloodsuckers did this to my friend.”

“Friend? Friend?!” Spike roared. “You dare to call him your friend after you were the one to put his life in danger in the first place.”

“How dare you!” Buffy countered lifting her stake once more. “I bet it was you, you undead creep. You are so gonna be dust.”

“Buffy,” Willow pleaded.

“Stay out of this,” Spike instructed. “Both of you,” he added when Xander stepped forward. Xander nodded obediently and moved to a safe distance by the stairway, taking Willow with him. Spike nodded his approval. “I can handle this bitch on my own.”

Buffy stiffened at the insults, both implied and stated. “It's gonna be a pleasure killing you. Shame it will make poor Xanny an orphan.”

“An orphan?” Penn asked, entering the room.

Buffy whirled to face the owner of the voice. “Stay right there.”

“Sire,” Xander called, obviously upset, his voice unsteady.

“Sire?!” Buffy sneered before launching herself at Penn, her stake raised and taking the vampire completely by surprise.

Xander watched in horror, his eyes wide with fear while Willow clung to his side.

“Projicio!”

Buffy felt the magic slam her in the side and she flew across the room, her breath leaving her in a rush when she hit the door. She looked up through her hair while she caught her breath, glaring daggers at the bane of her existence. Spike's hands were held in front of him, ready to deliver another magical blow. “I hate you,” she snarled.

“I'm devastated. Now get the hell out of our house.”

Buffy knew she was outnumbered and wisely decided backing down was probably the best choice right now, although she was loathe to admit it. She reached a hand behind her and opened the door by feel. “This isn't over. Not by a long shot.”

“Colour me surprised, Slutty.”

Angel chose that moment to enter the room after hearing the commotion. Buffy knew he would see her side of things. “Are you going to let him speak to me like that.”

Angel sighed. “Buffy...I think you should go.”

“But-”

“Just go,” Angel said. “Please.”

“Fine,” Buffy relented. “But only because you asked and not for any other reason.” She glared daggers at Spike before turning and flouncing out the door.

Spike waved a hand and smiled when the door gave a very satisfying bang when it closed.

“That was rather childish, don't you think?” Angel asked

Spike rounded on his Sire. “What? Are you gonna punish me for using magic again?”

“No,” Angel replied calmly. “I would never punish you for defending yourself or your family.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. He'd thought he'd been defending himself the last time. “Really?”

“There is a difference between life threatening and bickering.”

“if you say so,” Spike said walking through the archway to the living area and flopping on the couch where Xander, Willow and Penn had already retreated.

Penn was comforting his Childe while Willow watched with a small smile on her face. She had apparently decided her friend was being well cared for despite her earlier misgivings.

“Under the circumstances, I think it will be best to speed things along and head back to LA sooner than we had planned,” Angel announced, heading for the small table in the corner and pouring himself a drink. He looked over at Spike and raised the bottle of amber liquid in question. Spike nodded and took the glass gratefully when Angel brought it over. “Do you think Xander is settled enough to travel?” Angel asked Penn as he seated himself comfortably on the couch with a possessive hand resting on Spike's leg.

Penn said something quietly to Xander, who nodded. “Although the slayer shook him up a bit, he's doing remarkably well,” Penn boasted proudly. “We can have everything packed and be ready to go in a matter of hours.”

Angel nodded, pleased. “Good. I think the sooner we get out of Sunnydale the better.”

“Uhm, would it be..I mean, could I..” Willow trailed off, blushing and biting her lip, her hands twisting in her pastel pink sweater.

Spike set down his empty glass, quickly crossed the room and kneeling next to Willow, took one of her hands in his. “Hey now. None of this. What is it? You can tell me, can't you?”

“I'm sorry,” Willow whispered. “It's just...I was going to ask if I could come to LA with you.”

Spike's heart softened but he knew he needed to be firm. “There's nothing I'd like more. But there's school to finish first.”

“But that's just it. I finished early and I've already been accepted to UCLA. Please let me come.”

Xander bounced excitedly, his earlier upset seemingly forgotten. “Really?”

Willow nodded, a beaming smile on her face. “It's what I came to tell you but then...well things got kinda hectic.”

“Are you sure, Willow,” Spike asked. “Your family is here and your friends.”

“Xander is my best friend and all of you are more like a family to me than my own. I was planning to go away to University anyway.” She shrugged. “This way I get to stay with family and friends and go to school.”

Spike, still kneeling, turned to look at his Sire. “You think you've got room for one more in that mausoleum of yours?”

Angel smiled indulgently. “I'm sure we can manage to find the room.”

Chapter Text

Giles watched from his chair in the corner of his flat as Buffy paced back and forth across the floor. “Are you absolutely positive that Xander has been turned?” he asked.

Buffy stopped, scowling with her hands firmly planted on her hips. “My slayer senses were tingling all over the place.”

He leaned forward with his arms resting on his thighs, studying his slayer carefully. “I understand,” he agreed, nodding. “But given the proximity of several vampires within the house, I would expect as much. Being able to isolate a single vampire can be quite a challenge.”

“Giles, I know I'm right. He even called one of them Sire.”

“I see.” Giles stood and retrieved a book from his desk. “Do you know which vampire is the Sire?” he asked, opening the book and scanning the contents.

“It was that new one...Pin? No.” She wrinkled her brow in concentration. “Penn!”

“Ah, Aurelius,” Giles said, tapping his finger on the page. “Penn you said?”

“Yeah,” Buffy replied, flopping on the couch with a sigh.

Giles soon returned to his chair, the book carefully perched on his knees. “It says here that Penn was the first childe Angelus ever sired. Apparently he had been a young Puritan as a human. According to the texts, after being sired in 1876, he proceeded to kill his entire family much like his sire before him.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “And now he's Xander's Sire? Do I need to go warn his mom and dad?”

Giles looked up with a frown. “Did he seem particularly violent?”

“Not really,” Buffy shrugged. “But ya never know. I mean, look at that Spike. He keeps coming after me like an insano vamp. He's all jealous and stuff because of Angel.”

“Hmm,” Giles murmured, pondering the situation. “I think the situation merely requires monitoring for the moment. If it escalates we can always... well, I'm afraid we may have to take drastic measures.”

“You mean stake Xander.”

“I certainly hope it doesn't come to that.”

“Me, too.”

~*~

Xander flipped his hair out of his eyes and pushed himself up from the cushioned mat. He grunted and rubbed at his bruised tail bone. “Hey,” he called to his sparring partner. “Time out, okay?”

“What's the matter, Xan?” Spike taunted with a grin. “Can't handle a little exercise?”

“A little exercise?” Xander scoffed. “You've been wiping the floor with my ass for the past twenty minutes. Give a vamp a break, huh?”

Penn laughed from his place on one of the long benches around the perimeter of the room. He was leaning comfortably back against the wall, his hands grasping the ends of the towel looped around the back of his neck. “Give the poor Childe a break, Spike. Besides, once he learns how to use all that muscle he's got, he'll soon be wiping the floor with your ass.”

“Really?!” Xander squeaked, bouncing on his toes.

Spike rolled his eyes. “In your dreams, Harris.”

“No, Spike. I think my Sire may have a point here. In fact,” Xander teased. “I think given a bit of time, I'll be kicking your scrawny little ass.”

“Oh, you think so, do you?” Xander nodded a big grin on his face. Spike grinned back and beckoned the fledge closer with a hand. “Bring it on then,” he challenged. “Let me see what you've got.”

~*~

“Daddy?”

Angel smiled seeing Drusilla leaning in the doorway to his office. “Come in, Dru.” He frowned as he watched his Childe enter the room and perch herself on one of the chairs without a sign of her usual grace. “What's wrong?”

“It's the cards,” she explained, holding up her deck of tarot cards. “They have been calling to me for days so as soon as we came home, I read them.”

“And what did they say?”

“They foretold of rivals and plans and cunning and betrayal.”

Angel leaned back in his chair, considering her words. He knew he had rivals, had been warned about it from the beginning. Now would be a good time for them to plan an attack. They would probably appear vulnerable with a new Childe to distract them. But betrayal? That was puzzling. “Did they give you any idea of who would betray us?”

Drusilla shook her head. “Shall I try again?”

“Would it help? Would you be able to get more information about this clan or who might betray us?”

“I...” Drusilla shuffled through the deck until she finally settled on a card and slid it out of the pile. “The magus.”

Angel leaned forward to see the card in her hand. The magician. “William. Can he help?”

“Yes, he can move the clouds and help me see what's hidden.”

“Well,” Angel said rising. “Let's get him up here then.”

Exiting his office, he crossed the lobby to the stairs leading to the basement. “William!” he bellowed down the stairs. Hearing the sounds of running feet, he leaned on the counter to wait.

“Sire?” William asked, curiously as he came up the stairs. Xander and Penn followed closely behind. They all took a seat on the couch with Xander in an exhausted sprawl in the middle.

“Dru has been reading the cards and I think she might be on to something.”

“There are some naughty boys making plans,” Dru tutted.

“Who?” Penn asked, sitting up straighter.

Spike pursed his lips in annoyance. “I'm guessing it's our old friend Renauld and his clan.”

“Agreed,” Angel said. “There's more though.”

“Of course, there's more. There's always more,” Xander complained.

“Behave,” Penn scolded. “But very true,” he added his voice soft and affectionate.

Angel nodded. “Yes, unfortunately it is true. Dru isn't sure how but someone is going to betray us.”

“Dru?” William called, moving to stand with his sister.

She looked up from her cards and smiled. “Can you help me? There are clouds in the way.”

“I think I can-” William stopped and stilled.

Angel became instantly alert. “What is it?” he whispered.

“The wards. Someone's tampering with the wards.”

“Where?”

William closed his eyes for a moment before answering,“the tunnels.”

“They must be trying to attack us from underneath,” Angel said, heading for the weapons chest and selecting his favourite sword.

Penn reached in to grab a heavy axe. “We'll show them how foolish they are to try.”

“William,” Angel said handing his Childe another sword. “Xander you stay here with Willow. Dru fetch Sam and meet us in the tunnels.”

Xander grabbed Penn's arm. “Be careful, Sire.”

Penn kissed him gently. “Watch out for Willow and we'll be back before you know it.”

~*~

The fight was vicious but over quickly. The three Aurelian vampires working in tandem were no match for the minions sent against them.

Penn laughed and slapped Spike on the back. “Is that the best they can do? Hardly broke a sweat.”

“It all seems a bit too easy,” Spike commented with a frown.

Angel nodded. Something wasn't right. “It's almost like...like..”

“This was all a distraction,” Penn finished for him.

“Xander and Willow!” Spike shouted. He broke into a run with the others right behind him. They passed a confused Drusilla and Sam, who turned to follow as Penn filled them in on what had happened. Spike threw open the door and ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time in his rush to get to the second floor. He was finally brought up short by a strong hand around his arm. “Let me go,” he hissed, wriggling and yanking to break his Sire's grip.

“William, stop. Listen to me.” Spike stilled but he continued to glare daggers at Angel. “If someone managed to get in, they could still be up there. If we go rushing in there we could make things worse.”

Spike closed his eyes, swallowed heavily and nodded. “You're right. I wasn't thinking.”

Angel's expression softened. “They're your friends, family. I understand. C'mon,” he said indicating the hallway. “But carefully.”

They made their way slowly down the corridor, checking each room as they went until they reached the room Spike used for casting. Spike held up a hand indicating for them to wait. “Someone's in there,” he whispered.

Angel directed Penn to one side of the door while he waited on the other. “Ready?” He waited for the others then said, “open it.”

Penn reached out to turn the knob then flung open the door with a decisive push revealing an unconscious Xander on the floor amongst the remains of Willow's besom.

“Xander!” Penn cried, rushing forwarding and kneeling next to his Childe. Xander groaned and rubbed at his head. “Shhh. It's okay. You're fine.”

“No,” Xander moaned, distressed. “Willow! They took Willow.”

Chapter Text

Faith knocked against the door even as she pushed it open. She looked around taking in the nicely decorated lobby of the large hotel. The sumptuousness of the fabrics showed an appreciation of comfort and the simple, attractive vases and other pieces of art scattered around the interior hinted at wealth without being garish or too in your face. Overall Faith was left with a sense of power. This was definitely the home of a Master and his family and it showed.

“Faith!”

Faith spun around at the sound of her name, her eyes widening in surprise. “Wes! I'd wondered where the hell you'd gotten to!”

“I suppose you've found me. Were you looking?” Wes blushed and looked away.

Faith smirked and was tempted to tease her former watcher. But she'd come here for help and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to alienate the people whose help you wanted. Her features softened. “Sorta. I mean, I did miss you. Giles is okay, I guess. But Buffy is...” She trailed off and shrugged.

Wesley nodded in understanding. “Yes, Miss Summers can be a tad overbearing.”

“If by that you mean an incredible bitch? Then, yeah. Couldn't agree more.”

“So,” Wes began hesitantly, “ah... not that I'm not pleased to see you again, but... uhm..”

Faith grinned at the by now familiar awkwardness. “Why am I here?”

“Well, quite frankly, yes.”

“I was wondering that myself,” Angel commented as he came down the stairs.

“Angel, I'd like you to meet Faith,” Wes said, scrambling to make the proper introductions.

“Slayer?” Angel asked calmly.

Faith nodded and countered with, “Master of LA?”

“That I am,” Angel laughed and gestured to the small seating arrangement nearby. “Can I get you anything?”

“No. I'm good,” Faith said, taking a seat.

“So, you were telling us how you came to be here?” Wes asked when they were all comfortable.

Faith fidgeted a bit and looked around again before answering. “Not much to tell really. Her highness made it clear I wasn't needed and Giles agreed. Apparently they didn't need two slayers on the hellmouth so, well, here I am.”

“But why come here?” Angel wondered aloud.

“Yes,” Wesley chimed in, “surely they the Council could have stationed you at one of the other hellmouths.”

“It never came up,” Faith responded with a shrug. “I guessed Wes had come here and he seemed welcome so I thought – maybe this was a bad idea.” She rose to her feet with a mumbled curse.

“No,” Angel said, “You are welcome here. I was just wondered why.”

“Okay,” Faith nodded. “I can understand that. Will you answer something for me now?”

“If I can.”

“You seem awfully comfortable considering this is a house for vampires and I'm a slayer.”

Angel grinned. “If you meant any harm to anyone here, you never would've gotten through the door.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Magic?”

“Magic,” Wesley agreed. “It has its uses.”

“Now,” Angel began heading for the stairs, “it's still a little early for me so, Wes, if you'll give Faith the tour and a room?” He paused while Wesley nodded. “Great. I'm heading back to my room.”

~*~

It was only with his Sire that could feel this freedom, this total release from control. When he could allow himself to be cared for and cherished instead of the one who did all the caring. He didn't begrudge the years he'd spent looking out for Dru or the ones he'd spent raising Penn, but this felt so fucking good. It had been far too long since someone had put his own needs and wants above their own. When someone he loved, loved him back, and so much so, that it was almost overwhelming in its intensity.

The concentration his Sire was using to wring every ounce of pleasure from Spike's body was nothing short of amazing. And exactly what he needed at this moment.

A much needed distraction from trying to find Willow. Spike was exhausting himself with locator spells. But the enemy knew who they were fighting against and were prepared.

Angel had taken it upon himself to distract him.

Spike wasn't complaining.

Angel played Spike like a fine instrument. His slippery fingers sliding unerringly to their target and making Spike see stars as his body arched and begged for more. Harsh panting interspersed with moans and begging and he didn't feel even the slightest twinge of shame or embarrassment. How could he when he felt so bloody loved. So bloody wanted. It was hard to believe that not so very long ago he had been regretting the decision which had made him his Sire's Favoured once more. Right now it felt like the best fucking decision of his life. If only his Sire would … “Oh, fuck yeah...right there. Sire. Please.”

~*~

“Oh, shit yeah... harder. Sire. Please.” Xander pushed back, his head hanging loosely between his arms and pushing into the hard grip on his hips. His orgasm was so close. He could feel it tingling in his balls and he only needed that tiny little push to send him over the edge. Penn grunted, adjusted his hands and sped up his thrusts. Xander mewled and bared his neck. “Please...please.”

Penn struck and Xander screamed out his pleasure just as an echoing scream came from the room down the hall.

~*~

Wesley was escorting Faith down the hall when the shouts and moans came from behind the closed doors. He blushed red when she turned to him with a grin. “You...ah...y-you get used to it,” he stammered.

Faith laughed in a deep and throaty way which could only be considered dirty. “Oh, I don't mind at all. It's five-by-five.” She tossed the green stone with its diaglyph of the house of Aurelius, which Wes had given her, up in the air before catching it again. “Yep. Five-by-five.”

Chapter Text

Spike entered the room, surprised to find Xander already there. The younger vampire stood in front of the bookshelf absently rolling an andusalite stone over and over in his hand. 

“Hey, Xan,” Spike said, joining the other vampire in his perusal of Spike's magic books.

“Spike,” Xander replied, glancing over with a half-hearted smile. 

Spike frowned, not used to such silence when it came to Xander. Normally you couldn't shut the boy up. Something was obviously very wrong and Spike had an idea of what it might be. “It wasn't your fault.”

Xander looked guiltily over to the spot where he'd been found unconsciousness and Spike knew he'd guessed correctly. “I'm stronger now. I shoulda protected her., Spike.” Xander shook his head. “But I'm just as useless as I've always been. Was a nothing as a human and now I'm a great big nothing as a vamp.”

A surge of anger rushed through Spike at Xander's words but he clamped down on it, hard. Xander didn't need his anger right now. In his current state of mind the boy would probably interpret it as confirmation of his failure. “You're not the only one who failed her, pet.”

Xander spun his eyes wide and mouth open slightly. “What?!”

“What happened to the spells I put around the place, huh? They were meant to protect all of us and they failed. I failed.”

Xander rushed forward, grasping Spike by the arms. “No, Spike,” Xander declared, shaking Spike slightly with the words. “No. You couldn't have known this was going to happen. They must have done something to get around the magic ...a – a talisman or something like that.”

“Maybe,” Spike said with a shrug. “Still doesn't change the fact that Willow is gone and now I can't even manage to find her.” Fuck. He was supposed to be making Xander feel better and all he was accomplishing was making himself feel worse. 

“But we will,” Xander stated with determination. 

Spike nodded firmly. “Yes, we will. You wanna help with some locator spells?”

“Sure.” Xander nabbed the thick black cloth from the nearby shelf and began spreading it out on the floor. “Spike?”

“Yeah, pet?”

“What do you think of Faith?”

Spike paused in his movements, the jar of sand forgotten in his hand. “The slayer?” Xander nodded. Spike opened the jar and set it next to the cloth on the floor, taking the time his preparations gave him to gather his thoughts. “Well, she's certainly different from Buffy.”

“But do you like her?”

Spike had a suspicion that he knew where this was headed. “She's got fire that one. A bit cocksure though. Could be dangerous if she gets caught off guard.”

“She's got the nicest eyes,” Xander sighed dreamily. “And her hair is all dark and shiny.” Spike poked him in the side. “Hey!”

“Spell time. You can moon over the new slayer later.”

“I am not mooning,” Xander whined. “Besides, she's a girl and in case you hadn't noticed, I'm kinda into the guys.”

“Oh, I noticed, pet. Kinda hard not to when you had your tongue down my throat.”

“Hey! That was a long time ago and I was young and – and -”

“I'm hot?”

“Well, yeah. But so is Faith and I don't get it. I mean not only is she a slayer but she's totally the wrong sex.” Xander sighed heavily. “What the hell am I thinking?”

“Sounds to me like you're feeling more than you're thinking, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. Vampires and demons in general usually don't bother much about gender so much. If you're attracted to someone and it feels good then we tend to go for it.”

“So I'm bi now?”

“More like open to trying new things.”

“I can live with that.”

“Good now hand me those candles.”

~*~

Several fruitless hours later found the frustrated pair brainstorming with the others in the lobby.

“I just don't understand why the spells won't work,” Spike complained, reaching what used to be the registration desk and turning to pace back across the floor. “I used every location spell I could think of and then I looked up a few more and nothing. Not a single fuckin' thing.”

“William, it's not your fault,” Angel said, reaching out and stilling his childe's restless movements. “You're trying.”

“Yeah? Well, it's not good enough, is it?” Spike shouted angrily.

“Spike,” Xander said, getting the other vampire's attention. “Pot, kettle, black.”

Spike sighed tiredly and sat down on the couch. “You're right. I just hate this … this feeling so soddin' helpless.”

“I don't get it.”

Everyone turned to look at the newest addition to the family.

“Don't get what Faith?” Wesley asked, encouraging the slayer to elaborate.

“It seems to me that if you're gonna kidnap someone then you want something for their return, right?”

“That would be an accurate assessment,” Wesley agreed.

“Right,” Xander chimed in, “so where are the demands?”

Faith grinned and pointed at Xander. “Exactly!”

“So they need a witch,” Spike said thinking aloud. “But what for?”

“Research?” Wesley asked, posing the question to the room in general.

Angel nodded. “Agreed. Wes and William, I want you to get started on researching the possibilities: prophecies, rituals, anything that someone might need a witch for.” Spike and Wesley immediately headed for the library. “Faith, will you take patrol tonight? Just because we're having a crisis, I don't want to leave my city unprotected. A show of strength would also make anyone wanting to take advantage of the situation think twice.”

“I'm on it.”

“Take Xander with you,” Penn suggested. “I think he could use the exercise.”

“C'mon bitty vamp.”

Xander growled and followed the grinning Faith out the door.

“What are we going to be doing?” Penn asked.

“We are going to pay a visit to our old friend Claus.”

“Claus? What does he have to do with this?”

“I'm not sure, but I've go this feeling,” Angel explained, grabbing his coat and heading for the door. “There was something Dru said the other day that keeps bothering me. Something about rival clans and betrayal.”

“And you think she was talking about Claus?”

“I don't know, but I'm going to find out.”

Chapter Text

“It is an honour to have you in our home. May I offer you and your Second some refreshment?”

“Thank you,” Angel replied, politely. “But this isn't exactly a social call, Claus.”

Claus looked a bit surprised but he kept his calm. “Of course. How can we help?”

“Someone broke into the hotel the other night and took something of value to us.”

“We want it back,” Penn added.

Angel glanced at his childe in warning, hoping he would take the hint and back off a bit. He preferred to do this the easy way without resorting to violence. “Have you heard anything, anything at all?”

Claus stroked his chin and regarded the other vampire thoughtfully. “Well, now that you mention it, there have been some rumours flying about. But I thought they were just that...rumours.”

“Even a rumour could be helpful,” Angel encouraged.

“Of course, of course.” Claus looked around at the members of his clan milling about the room. “But, perhaps, we should take this somewhere more private.”

“Lead the way.”

“I'm not sure I like this, Sire,” Penn whispered to Angel as they followed Claus to the second floor. “Something isn't right.”

“I agree, but I don't think we have much of a choice. Just stay alert.”

Penn nodded in agreement and they followed Claus into a small, comfortable study.

“I'm sorry for being so secretive,” Claus began gesturing to some vacant seats nearby, “but at this point I'm not sure who among us I can trust.”

“What's happened?” Angel asked, settling onto one of the leather chairs near the desk.

Claus leaned back against the desk and sighed sadly. “It seems that one of my own has betrayed me and is now working with Renauld.”

Penn leaned forward in his seat. “And you didn't think to warn us?”

“I thought we could handle it on our own, and we did. For the most part anyway. When Roland discovered we were on to him, he fled.”

“Roland!” Penn shouted.

Claus nodded, his expression forlorn. “I had thought we were close, he and I. It seems I was wrong. Roland believes we should hunt and kill all the humans with no care for discovery or the consequences. Had I known he was fraternising with Renauld and listening to his nonsense, I would have stopped it immediately. Unfortunately, I was too late.”

“Where is Roland now?” Angel prodded gently.

“With Renauld and his clan of troublemakers.”

“If we could just figure out what they're up to,” Penn growled.

“Roland left in such a hurry, he left his things behind. Perhaps there is something that could be of use?”

“Could we take a look?”

“Certainly, Master Angel. Follow me.”

~*~

“Dammit,” Spike complained tossing aside the book he'd been struggling to read as the words blurred, again. He leaned back in a stretch before rubbing tiredly at his eyes.

“Are you all right?”

Spike grunted and let the chair legs fall back to the floor with a muffled thump. “'M fine.” He yawned widely. “Bit tired, I guess.”

“Yes, well, we have been at this for a while. How about a break.”

“We don't have time,” Spike objected. “We need to figure this out.”

“Spike, you'll be of no help to anyone if you push yourself to the point of exhaustion. What if we do find something and we need you, but you're so tired you can't help?”

“I know, I know. It's just so damn frustratin'.” Spike knew Wesley was right which did nothing to improve his mood. Maybe Dru and her cards could discover something. He was considering going to find her when Wesley spoke again.

“Have you always been adept in the arts?”

“What?” Spike asked, annoyed.

“Sorry. I was merely curious to know if you had always been magically inclined or was it something that manifested itself after your turning?”

“You're a nosy bugger, ain't ya?” Wesley squirmed in his seat. “During the time I was a human, you didn't exactly want people knowing you could do things, if you know what I mean. Oh, it was an acceptable form of entertainment, mind you, but not something you could actually study and learn. Well, not for me anyway. It never would have been accepted and would have made me an outcast even in my own family.”

“Ah, yes, of course. You look and act so young that I sometimes forget your actual age.”

“And you act so normal, I forget you're a pansy arsed watcher boy.” Spike blinked when Wesley laughed. “And people think I'm odd.”

“I think you're fascinating,” Wes replied, still smiling. “So, you had some abilities before you were turned?”

“Yeah. Nothing like what I can do now, though. Back then it was more like I would get a sense of things or a feeling that something was going to happen.”

“Like Drusilla?”

“Not really,” Spike said, shaking his head. “She is far better at it than I ever was or could hope to be. I would get … I suppose you could call it a very strong hunch about something or someone. More often than not, I was right. Saved me a beating or two when I was younger.”

“I'm sure you were quite an adventurous child when you were younger.”

Spike grinned and tapped the book still open on the table. “A tale for another time. Back to work. We need to find Willow before it's too late.”

“Spike?”

The vampire looked up from his book to find warm, caring blue eyes watching him. “We'll find her. We will.”

Spike nodded. He honestly hoped Wesley was right.

~*~

Roland's room looked as if a tornado had blown through and Angel wondered if they could possibly find anything helpful in the mess it had left behind. He gestured to Penn to take the left side of the room while he dove into the discarded pile of clothing by the dresser on the right. Claus hovered near the doorway looking unsure of whether he should stay or flee while he had the chance. Angel ignored him and concentrated on the task before him.

“Sire!” Penn called from his place near the closet. “I've found something.”

Angel crossed the room with Claus close behind him. “What-” Angel stopped and stared as Penn slid back a panel revealing several items inside. He turned to regard Claus. “Did you know this was here?”

“I had no idea,” Claus denied.

Penn removed a weathered scroll which he handed to his sire gingerly lest it crumble to dust. “Do you have something we can put this in?” Angel asked.

“I have just the thing.” Claus headed out of the room and down the hall.

Angel set the scroll carefully on the unmade bed, hoping the softness of the quilts would protect it. Penn handed him two books, both of various spells and incantations, and several pages of handwritten notes. “Looks like Roland was trying to figure out how to do a spell,” Angel observed

“Yeah,” Penn agreed. “And I'm starting to think he couldn't manage it on his own so he decided to recruit some help. Some unwilling help.”

“I think you might be right.”

Claus returned and handed Angel a cardboard tube with a plastic cap on the end. Angel removed the cap and carefully slid the scroll inside. “Have you found what you were looking for?”

“I think so. Thank you for your help.”

“Is there anything else we can do?”

“We'll let you know.”

~*~

Xander cringed as Faith kicked her opponent in the balls.

“Stupid, fuckin' vampire. I liked this shirt,” she shouted, driving the stake home and waving away the resulting cloud of dust. She looked down and poked a finger in the small hole along the sleeve.

Xander had to admit it was a nice shirt and she filled it out pretty damn nicely, too. “Maybe you could fix it?” Faith looked at him like he'd grown another head. In fact, he took a quick glance behind him self to check. “Or not?”

“I'm thinking not,” Faith replied dryly before turning and heading out of the alley.

Xander watched her pert bottom swaying back and forth under the tight blue denim and felt a stirring in his own jeans. Checking his chin for drool, he jogged to catch up. “So, uh...”

Faith quirked an eyebrow. “Thought you were the one who never shut up?”

Great. The awkward silence thing. Not that this was a date. Xander was thankful vampires didn't blush easily and Faith couldn't read minds. “I'm just worried about Willow, ya know?”

“I can understand that, but we'll get her back.”

“Speaking of back ...can we go back to the Hyperion and see if they found anything?”

Faith shot him a friendly smile. “Sure, Xan.”

Xander's still heart almost beat. She smiled at him. Faith actually smiled at him. It was such a pretty smile.

When they reached the hotel, Xander and Faith found the others in the library all talking excitedly. “What's up?” Faith asked as they entered the room.

“We found a scroll that may prove extremely useful, some books and some notes as well,” Wes explained.

“And we think we know who took Willow,” Penn added.

“So we can go get her back then, right?” Xander asked, bouncing on his toes.

“Not so fast,” Angel said. “We need to find out what we're walking into first.”

“Okay, so we read the scroll then kick some ass.”

“We need to use caution, Faith, and we may not like what we find,” Wesley cautioned.

“Caveat lector,” Spike said quietly.

“Let the reader beware,” Wesley translated, handing out books. “How very apt, Spike, very apt.”

Chapter Text

They had worked tirelessly through the night attempting to decipher the ancient scroll Penn and Angel had discovered. They all knew it would be key in discovering what Renauld and his clan were planning. Wesley had quickly and accurately identified the language on the scroll as the ancient and obscure dialect of the Samsurian.

Thankfully, the language wasn't that dissimilar to ancient Greek, which Angel, Spike and Wesley were all familiar with. The spell books discovered alongside the scroll also proved useful while Roland's notes were, fortunately, not quite so helpful. The upside to Roland's ignorance being that they probably had some time.

“Wouldn't tapping into something so powerful be kinda dangerous?” Xander asked from his sprawl on the couch.

Wesley stood, grasping his coffee cup and taking a sip. He made a face as the cold, bitter liquid flowed over his tongue. “An excellent point, which I'm sure Renauld has either overlooked completely or dismissed as irrelevant.”

“Renauld doesn't sound like he's exactly playing with a full deck,” Faith observed.

“Perhaps not,” Angel agreed, “but he is still a threat we need to take seriously.”

“I concur. The allure of so much power available at his fingertips may have made him sloppy, but he is still a threat.”

“You're forgetting the most important thing, Wes,” Spike added, knocking Xander's feet out of the way and joining the younger vampire on the couch. “He still has Willow and we need to get her out of there before he gets impatient and decides to try this spell anyway.”

Wesley nodded. “The scroll is a dangerous spell allowing the caster access to incredible power and therefore is an incredible lure. One which I'm sure will be hard for Renauld to resist.”

“But we have the scroll,” Faith pointed out.

“I doubt that is the only copy,” Angel said. “Renauld may be stupid but I doubt he's stupid enough to give the only copy of a spell that powerful to Roland.”

“Why do these stupid idiots always want world domination?” Xander asked. “They could at least be original.”

Spike snorted in amusement. “It's always about power, Xan. It may be stupid, but if they succeed, it will make Renauld and his clan virtually unstoppable.”

“And what about Willow?”

“We haven't forgotten about Willow, pet.”

“Some of the ingredients are obscure and extremely difficult to find, such as the ground auroch bone. Therefore, we do have some time and I highly doubt they will hurt the one person they desperately need to cast this spell for them.”

“Can she cast it?” Angel wondered aloud.

“It'll take a lot of energy,” Spike commented with a glance at Xander.

“What does that mean?” Xander asked, suspiciously. “You taught us that we only had a limited amount of energy so what does that mean?”

“Xan-” Spike began.

“NO! What does it mean?!”

“It means that the spell will probably kill her,” Wesley said quietly.

“We won't let that happen,” Spike said with determination. “You hear me, Xan? It won't happen. I won't let it.”

Xander nodded and snuggled up to his sire when Penn joined them on the couch.

“Should we ask Mr Giles for his assistance and that of his slayer?”

“You gotta be joking, watcher man” Faith laughed. “There is no way Buffy or her watcher is gonna help.”

“No, we'll get no help from Sunnydale, but I think we can count on someone else.”

“What did you have in mind, Sire? Sam asked.

“Claus and his clan would be a better option but there is also an increased risk of friendly staking so you all need to be careful.”

“It will be worth it, Sire,” Penn said. “We need to get Willow out and we'll be getting rid of that troublemaking clan once and for all.”

“I hate to be the one to mention this...”

Angel turned to the slayer in surprise. Faith wasn't normally shy about speaking her mind. “What is it Faith?”

“Well, how do we know she's...okay?”

“It is here,” Drusilla said from her place at the other end of the table. Her cards were spread out before her on the wooden surface. “The willow tree is tired and wilting, but is still standing.”

~*~

Angel looked up in surprise at the knock on his bedroom door. He was even more surprised by who was on the other side of that door. “Xander?”

“Uhm, can I come in?”

“Of course,” Angel said moving aside so the young fledge could enter. “Have a seat.” He watched as Xander perched nervously on the edge of a chair near the fireplace. After waiting for nearly a full minute for Xander to speak, Angel decided he better ask what was going on. “Is everything okay?” The other vampire shot him a look that spoke volumes about just how stupid Xander thought that question was. “Right, scratch that. Is there something you needed?”

“There are lots of things I need. I want my friend back. Hell, I want my life back.”

“I'm sorry, Xander, but there wasn't any other way.”

Xander waved away Angel's apology. “I know. It doesn't matter and I … I don't really mean it anyway. I just miss my friend.”

“We all miss Willow, but we will get her back.”

Xander nodded and studied his hands, which were folded in his lap. “Do you love Spike?” he asked suddenly.

“Yes,” Angel answered honestly, simply.

“And he loves you?”

“Most of the time. When he isn't hating me, that is.”

“He loves you.” Xander stated with a certainty Angel wished he felt himself.

“What's this about, Xander?”

“Well, I wanted to ask my sire but I didn't want to upset him because I do care about him. But then I've been feeling all these warm and fuzzy feelings for Faith and I'm not sure that's right. I mean, she's a slayer and then there's my sire, who I'm supposed to be with, right?”

Angel took a minute to let his brain decipher the babble. “So let me see if I've got this straight. You like Faith?” Xander nodded. “But you think you're supposed to be with Penn?”
Xander nodded again and Angel smiled. At least this was one problem he could solve. “Xander, just because William and I are together doesn't mean you have to be that way with Penn. Not all sires and childer have that kind of relationship.”

“Oh. But I thought...”

“Am I that way with Penn? Or Dru? Or Sam?”

“No. I guess not. Does that mean you don't love them?”

“Of course I love them. They are my childer.”

“But you're in love with Spike?”

“Yes.”

“I think I get it.” Xander stood to leave. “Thanks, Angel.”

“Xander,” Angel called as the younger vampire reached the door. “I love all my family and that includes you and Willow.”

Chapter Text

“Okay. It's all set. We're going in later tonight,” Angel announced as he entered the kitchen. His family looked back from their places around the table with varying degrees of hope and excitement.

“This is it then?” Xander asked, nearly vibrating out of his chair. “We're gonna get Willow back, right?”

“Not only are we going to get Willow back, Childe,” Penn replied, soothing his young fledge with a gentle hand along his back. “But we're also gonna teach these idiots a lesson. You do not mess with the House of Aurelius.”

Xander smiled and leaned back into the comfort his sire provided, reminding Angel how young he still was. If he could leave Xander behind, he would, but he didn't think Xander, or even William, would agree to that very easily. It would probably be best to bring the fledgling along and have Sam keep a close eye on him to ensure he stayed out of trouble. Angel smiled recalling how the boy seemed to have a knack for getting himself into all sorts of difficulties. It was actually a wonder he hadn't been turned, or worse, long before now.

“That is an added benefit,” Angel agreed before reminding them all of their primary mission. “But our main goal is to get Willow back and retrieve any further information on this spell.”

Wesley nodded. “I concur. It is far too dangerous to have this type of spell out there where anyone can access it,” he said, emphasising his point with a spoon in the air. “I, for one, will feel much better when all copies have been either safely locked away or destroyed. The time for attack cannot come too soon.”

“My, my, Wes,” Faith snickered. “You surprise me. I never figured you for an action kinda guy.”

“Just because I studied with the Council, it does not mean I am incapable of action,” Wesley replied, placing his spoon back on the table with a loud and decisive click and folding his arms across his chest.

“I hate to break up the party,” Angel intervened, “but it's almost dawn. I suggest we all head to bed and get some sleep.”

“I don't think there's any way I'm gonna be able to sleep,” Xander moaned, his knee bouncing and his fingers drumming absently on the table top.

“C'mon, Xan. If it's okay with the Bossman, I'll spar with you for an hour. That's sure to wear you out.”

“Fine. Just be sure it's only an hour,” Angel instructed as they al headed their separate ways. “We'll all need to be wide awake and alert.”

~*~

“William” Angel said grasping the younger vampire by the arm and halting his progress. Angel leaned against the wall next to his bedroom door, gathering his childe close to his chest. He smiled when Will didn't object and only burrowed deeper into the comfort offered by the strong arms around him. “Stay with me,” Angel whispered. “Mo Will, mo ghrá, teacht, bí liom anocht”*

William raised his head for a kiss, his blue eyes full of warmth. “I'll stay.”

Angel smiled and led them into the room. “I have something for you,” he said, lifting the small box from the bedside table. Angel could see the hesitation in his childe's eyes and it made his own heart hurt in sympathy. He knew he'd let all his childer down when he deserted them, especially William. His most favoured had always felt things so very deeply. But now it was time to start the healing. “Come, Childe. Please,” Angel said, holding out a hand and settling on the edge of the bed to wait.

He would wait hours if necessary to get what he wanted.

His talk with Xander had caused him to re-examine his relationship with William and what he wanted out of it. And he had decided he wanted nothing more than to have his childe with him forever. He didn't want to hide anymore. If he was going to get his heart broken then so be it. Enough of these games and trying to figure out what William was wanting or thinking. It was time for honesty and commitment. Now if only his childe was strong enough to trust again.

Angel could see the moment when William made his decision and his undead heart filled with pride at his childe's strength and his ability to forgive. Each step William took brought them closer together, emotionally as well as physically, until he was finally settled on the bed next to his sire.

Angel looked down at the box in his hand and took a deep, steadying breath. He opened the lid and held out the box. “Bí mianach gcónaí”**

William sat, speechless for long moments. Angel didn't worry that he hadn't been understood. William knew many languages and even if he hadn't the claddagh ring, with the trinity engraved around the silver band and nestled against the dark blue velvet, made his intention clear.

William's hand lifted hesitantly only to drop when it had barely made it halfway to its destination. “I- I...” Angel waited patiently as William swallowed and tried again. “Does this mean? What does this mean, exactly?”

“It's a symbol of my commitment to you, my most Favoured Childe. I'm so proud of you William. You're strong and smart, and I realised I needed to stop treating you like a childe and start treating you like an equal. I love you, William.” Angel lifted the ring. “This represents the three promises of a relationship: to love, honour and protect,” Angel said, running his finger along the engraving. “And the claddagh is my love, friendship and loyalty.”

William accepted the ring and slipped it on his finger. “Equals?”

Angel leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to his childe's lips. “Mo ghrá, mo consort, mo maité.”***

William's eyes widened in surprise. “Consort?” he breathed.

“If you'll have me?”

~*~

*My Will, my love, come, join me tonight

**Be mine always

***My love, my consort, my mate

Chapter Text

Dark shadows broke away from the inkiness of the moonless night to slither soundlessly to positions on either side of the large wooden door.

“And what classic mistake has Renauld made?”

Spike gaped at his sire and new mate in shock. “You're really gonna choose now for a lesson in battle tactics?”

“What better time than the present? And you haven't answered my question.”

“No, I suppose I haven't. Fine.2 Spiek said with a roll of his eyes. “Always guard your perimeter.”

“Something so obvious and basic that it often goes overlooked,” Penn said, lecturing Xander. “Mind and learn the lesson well. I won't have a childe of mine be caught unaware.”

“Yes, Sire.”

“If you're all done with school?” Faith asked impatiently.

Wesley scowled in her direction. “Perhaps if you had minded your own lessons better-”

“Don't even think about finishing that sentence -”

“Shhh! With all the noise you people are making it will be a miracle if they don't already know we're here,” Spike scolded.

Dru stilled with that eerie blank look on her face which indicated she was reading the area around the warehouse. “It is safe. For now, but we should hurry. I sense a great impatience. I don't think Renauld is going to wait much longer.”

“Then we better get moving,” Angel said. “Xander and Wes you get Willow and get out. Spike and Penn will be watching out for you. The rest of us will be creating a distraction.”

“And teaching these upstarts a lesson,” Penn added.

Angel clasped a firm, affectionate hand to Penn's shoulder. “Yes,” he agreed. “We will remind everyone what it means to betray our house.” He turned a confident, reassuring look on the others. “Everyone ready then?” He waited while his family and the representatives from Claus' House all nodded their assent. “Let's go.”

Angel kicked out with his foot, putting all his anger behind the blow which landed squarely in the middle of the door causing it to splinter and cave inwards. The group charged through the opening taking the vampires inside completely by surprise. Swarming over their totally unprepared opponents left a ready opening for Wesley and Xander to slip through unnoticed and head for the stairs which a scouting party had confirmed led to several cells in the basement. Spike and Penn ran interference for the pair while Dru cast a spell to further obscure the pair.

Xander clunked noisily down the stairs and thumped the lone vampire solidly in the face with one of his heavy boots. He looked down at the unconscious vampire with a huge grin on his face. He'd have to remember to thank Spike for the gift of his new footwear later.

Wesley clattered down the stairs behind him breathing heavily and trying to peer over Xander's shoulder into the darkness beyond. Suddenly remembering Wesley's lack of enhanced eyesight, Xander looked around for a light switch. Finding what he was looking for, Xander slapped his hand against the wall with a triumphant, “Ah ha!”

“Yes, quite,” Wes said even as he began searching the cells for their missing witch. “Over here!”

Xander joined the watcher, relieved to see his friend dishevelled and dirty but unharmed. “Hey, Wills! We're here to rescue you.”

“Oh thank Goddess,” she babbled tiredly. “I'm so happy to see you. That Renauld guy was getting really impatient and I thought he was gonna try something way stupid. But I just knew you'd come to my rescue.”

Xander grinned and took the ring of keys Wesley had gotten from the body of the unconscious vampire. “Your knight in shining armour to the rescue,” he said, slipping the key in the lock and finding himself with and armful of grateful Willow.

“So what does that make me?” Wesley enquired with a small smile playing about his lips.

“Prince Charming, who else?” Xander retorted with a laugh before turning his attention back to his friend and away from the now blushing watcher. “You ready to get out of here?”

Willow nodded vigorously as they headed for the stairs, Xander's arm still carefully around her shoulders. “Yes, please. I want a hot bath and something to eat and, oh, a big bowl of cold, creamy ice cream with fudge sauce.”

Xander was rather disappointed to find the fighting upstairs was virtually over. He'd let Wesley take Willow to the safety of the cars outside where Dru and Sam were waiting for them so he could help with the clean up. Only there wasn't much cleaning up to actually do. He paused as he caught sight of Angel squaring off with Renauld on the other side of the room. Joining Spike and Penn, he watched as Renauld finally made his move. Angel moved with an unexpected grace as he pushed the other vampire back across the floor. It was quickly apparent to the observers that Renauld was totally outmatched and the younger vampire soon tired, his moves becoming sloppy.

Xander looked over when Faith slung a companionable arm around his shoulders. “Not bad for an old guy, huh?”

“Ya think he's gonna let him off easy?” he asked her with a grin just as Angel rammed a stake home and waved away the resulting dust. “Oops, guess not.”

~*~

Angel lounged on the large sofa in the lounge, happy and content with his mate resting comfortably against his chest. The others were ranged around the room and Angel smiled to see Faith curled up between Penn and Xander. If anyone could handle the volatile slayer it would be those two. His brow furrowed as he wondered if he should ask Sam to look into some soundproofing for the bedrooms.

His gaze fell upon Willow and Wesley, who were poring over a rare book Wesley had found. Every once in a while one of them would squeak in excitement over one passage or another. It was an unexpected pairing but there did appear to be budding romance between the two.

Sam and Dru were comfortably entwined while Sam read quietly from the book in his hands.

Angel couldn't recall a time when he'd felt so content, so happy. He had his family around him once more and he realised how important each and every member of that family had become to him. They had each made a place for themselves in his heart and in his home. He sighed and hugged his favoured childe close, nuzzling in the curls William had left loose after his shower.

William turned and gave him a soft, happy smile. “Love you, Sire.”

“Love you, Childe. Mo ghrá, mo consort, mo maité.*”

 

*My love, my consort, my mate

~ Mòran taing ~