You've Got Soul
"Oh, bloody buggering hell. Not again."
Three girls with weapons gathered in a semicircle around Spike, and past that, Xander watched him sit up and pat down his pockets to make sure he hadn't lost anything.
Xander said something Spike couldn't understand to the girls, and they stepped back to form a slightly larger semicircle around him.
"What are you doing here?" Xander asked him, and Spike realized the pounding he could just barely feel wasn't coming from Xander or the girls.
Spike put two fingers to the hollow of his throat and swore again. "I'm alive again. I got the Shanshu. I didn't think Peaches could actually sign it away."
Xander just looked at him for a long, long moment, and then he spoke to the girls again. They perched on chairs and beds around the room. None of them put down their weapons.
Xander spoke to them again and then shook his head and pulled a cell phone out of his pocket. "Andrew," he said after he dialed, "it's Xander." He smiled and then said, "Andrew. . . Andrew . . . Andrew, it's business. . . . I'll be there tomorrow. You can tell me about it then. . . . Andrew, I'm serious. . . . Yes, I promise. Tell Giles, Spike got the Shanshu. . . . I don't either. Maybe Giles will. I need papers and a plane ticket for Spike. . . . He just showed up. . . . Yes, I did. . . . I already promised. . . . Goodbye, Andrew. . . . Goodbye. . . . I mean it, Andrew. Goodbye." He finally folded his cell and dropped it back into his pocket.
"Spike, this is Meskhenet, Abeni, and Delu. Their English is getting better, but they probably won't understand everything you say yet. Girls, this is Spike."
The girls gave him nods ranging in friendliness from hostile to wary.
"What's with them?" Spike dug through his pockets for his cigarettes and lighter.
"They're Slayers. Usually I just take the girls to the airport and send them off to Giles, but these three wouldn't go." He smiled at the girls affectionately, and ruffled the hair of the one closest to him. Abeni, Spike thought.
"You really shouldn't smoke those," Xander advised when Spike flicked his lighter. "You can get lung cancer now. And, more to the point, so can the rest of us, so if you really want to poison yourself, take it outside."
You've Got Class
"Watchers couldn't spring for first class?" Spike griped. The Slayers had somehow shepherded him and Xander into center and window seats while they took the aisle seats around them.
"Despite the rumors to the contrary, the Watchers' Council doesn't actually have that much money, and we're keeping what we have by spending it wisely." Xander took his notebook and pen out of his carry-on and flipped down his tray table. He reread the last couple of pages before he uncapped the pen and started to write.
"How long is this flight anyway?"
"For the fifth time," Xander said without looking at him, "it's about six and a half hours."
"What am I going to do for six and a half hours?"
"Again," Xander said, still without looking at him, "for the fifth time, I would have bought you something to read in the gift shop, but you didn't want anything. Go to sleep or something."
The quiet lasted long enough for Xander to make it to the next page.
"What are you writing?"
Xander sighed heavily and finally looked at Spike. "It's a Watcher's Diary."
Spike squinted at the pages of the notebook. "Is that Captain Kirk?"
"My last one was Yoda. Andrew buys them for me. I think he knows I'll write more this way."
Xander continued writing while Spike fidgeted next to him.
"I'm hungry," Spike said not ten minutes later.
"They'll bring peanuts or something around soon."
"But I want something now."
"For the sixth time," Xander said, "I would have bought you something at the gift shop, but you didn't want anything."
"Your girls must be hungry too."
"Possibly, but they're well-behaved and they actually have impulse control. Unlike a certain ex-vampire I could name."
"Wish I weren't an ex-vampire," Spike grumbled. "Your blood might not be much, but I bet your girls' blood just sings with power." Meskhenet, in the seat between him and the aisle, growled at him, just a little, and Spike smirked at her. "Guess she understood that."
"Spike," Xander said warningly. He said something else to Meskhenet, but the only thing Spike understood was his own name. "Settle down," he finished, and that seemed to be directed at both of them.
You've Got Style
"Spike!" Andrew all but screeched. He launched himself at Spike almost hard enough to knock them both on the ground. "You really are alive."
Spike pushed him away and pretended to look disgusted at the reception. "Yeah, yeah. Old news by now."
The wattage on Andrew's smile didn't drop at all. He must be losing his touch.
Andrew went for Xander next, and Xander gladly accepted his hug.
"This is the best Christmas ever! You're home and alive and Spike's alive."
Xander chuckled and wrapped one arm around Andrew's shoulders. "I don't think he's a Christmas present from The Powers That Be." He introduced Andrew to the Slayers, and Andrew could speak their language, whatever it was.
Andrew stayed tucked under Xander's arm all the way down to baggage claim, where the girls collected their luggage, and out to the curb where there was a very large car waiting for them.
"Africa's perfectly safe," Xander said after they'd done the basic catching up. "Well, not perfectly safe, but I've been safe."
"No you haven't," Andrew insisted, and it was so fierce that everyone was silent for a long, uncomfortable moment. "I've been reading them before I file them in the library," Andrew confessed. "Your Watcher's Diaries. I know it's not safe."
"Andrew, I've been safe enough."
"We protect him," Delu said.
Xander reached out and patted her hand. "Yes, you do. See, Andrew? I have three Slayers watching my back."
Andrew's eyes gleamed with the fire of some kind of unholy glee. "You know," he said, "this means you're a regular Watcher now."
Xander shook his head. "I don't have the superpowers."
"You don't need superpowers to be a Watcher," Spike said. "Even Rupert's not that powerful."
Andrew nearly choked with outrage at that, but he recovered enough to say, "Spike's right. Not about Giles, of course, because he's super powerful, but about the Watchers. Historically, there haven't been that many Watchers with any kind of supernatural ability. We think the Powers sent Buffy magic users because we needed them, but mostly Watchers just watched."
"I'm not sure a one-eyed carpenter is quite what the Powers had in mind."
"Jesus was a carpenter," Andrew pointed out, "or the son of one, anyway, and for that time period that means he probably was too."
Spike laughed at that, while Xander just said, "I'm not Jesus."
They were interrupted by the driver opening their doors, and Spike got his first look at the new Watcher headquarters. It could have been any solid English country manor, if it weren't for the runes worked into the iron fence.
A girl met them in the lobby, and she respectfully hugged Xander first before she started chattering away with Meskhenet, Abeni, and Delu.
"Kainda is the last girl I sent back," Xander explained. "Put them all together in a safe place, and they're just like any other girls."
"Leave the bags," Andrew told Xander and Spike, "and come into the office. I'll have one of the girls take them up."
It was then that Spike realized the full extent of his predicament. "I don't have any clothes. Probably still some in L.A., but I don't fancy calling up Wolfram and Hart and asking for my kit."
"That's why we got you this." Andrew handed him a credit card. "Thousand pound limit. There's a car waiting for you out front. James will take you wherever you want to go, and bring you back."
And then Andrew ushered Spike out of his office and out the front door. It was only when Spike was halfway across London that he realized just how efficiently he'd been gotten rid of.
He could hardly believe that Andrew had actually given him a Watcher's Council credit card. Hell, Angel hadn't even given him a Wolfram and Hart credit card.
"Spike! You're back! Come in." Andrew closed the door behind him and eyed the bags he was carrying. "Is that all you got?"
Spike snorted. "Not hardly. James said he'd bring the rest up later."
Xander came out from a hallway. He'd showered and changed his clothes--his hair was still wet and uncombed--and he hadn't bothered to put on shoes. Or a shirt.
"Nice place," Spike said. "Yours?"
"Andrew's," Xander answered.
"Ours," Andrew corrected. He made shooing motions at them. "Sit down. I'll make tea."
Xander wrapped his arm around Andrew's shoulders and kissed his temple with the easy affection Spike remembered him showing to the people he loved. "I'll make tea. You catch up with Spike."
"No, no." Andrew pushed Xander toward the couch. "You sit. I'll make tea."
"Andrew," Xander said patiently, "I just spent six and a half hours sitting next to Spike on a plane. You catch up. I'll make tea."
"Okay," Andrew agreed, and he sat down in the living room with Spike.
After what seemed like an endless series of pestering questions Spike didn't really want to answer, he finally agreed to do a full report later to get out of answering questions now.
Xander came in with a tea tray at the end of his agreement, and just grinned at both of them. "Giles will be glad."
Spike glared at him while Andrew poured the tea. "You set me up," he accused.
"No, I didn't. I just didn't want to spend any more time listening to you."
Andrew passed around cups of tea and a plate of biscuits, and then he chattered on at them about some kind of science fiction world and the progress of the girls Xander had sent back and what he was doing for the Council, all without ever taking a sip of his tea or a bite of a biscuit.
Xander finished his tea, poured himself a second cup which he also finished, and ate three biscuits. Spike finished his tea and then wandered around looking at the posters on the wall and the pictures on the shelves.
"Are they still doing evening workouts?" Xander asked at a short break in Andrew's monologue.
"They should be. Faith and Kennedy are both here, so you should be careful."
"I will." Xander helped Andrew take things into the kitchen, and Spike wished for his vampiric hearing when their voices dropped too low for him to hear. He didn't need vampiric eyesight, though, to see the way Xander's hands cupped Andrew's face and the way Andrew melted under Xander's kiss.
Xander let go of Andrew and walked past Spike and down the hall. When he came back, he had shoes on and was buttoning up his shirt.
"Come on, fangless. Let's go see what the girls are up to."
Spike followed him out of the--what? Apartment? Suite? whatever--and waited until they were a few steps down the hall to ask, "So you and the Junior Watcher."
"Yeah." And then after a few steps, "Jealous?"
"No," Spike lied. "How's that work with you off in Africa?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't ask what he does when I'm not here, and he doesn't ask me what I do when I'm in Africa."
"But?" Spike prompted.
Xander looked at him thoughtfully, and then answered. "But I'm traveling in constant, close company with three very impressionable teenagers." Xander pushed open a door and they came into a large gym full of girls.
"Xander!" Willow flung herself into his arms. "I'm so glad you could come for Christmas."
"Me too, Will." Xander tucked his face down into her shoulder for a long time, and Spike fidgeted until they let go.
"Hi, Spike." Willow smiled at him, and then stepped forward and gave him a quick, hard hug.
Xander's smile for Faith seemed to be a stretch. "Hey, Faith. How're my girls doing?"
"Good. You've done a good job with them."
Xander's smile changed to something a little more genuine. "Thanks." He jerked his head at Spike. "Come on."
Spike followed him around the edges of the gym as he stopped to say hi to some of the girls and make technique suggestions to others. He eventually reached a space where Meskhenet, Delu, and Abeni sparred with a couple of other girls. They stopped when Xander got there and gathered into a loose circle around their practice area.
Xander nodded at someone and stepped away from Spike, and then Spike was twisting away from Meskhenet's attack, not that it did him a lot of good. He barely got in one punch that didn't connect before he was flat on his back with a stake pointed at his heart.
It still filled him with terror.
"You still have some good fighting instincts," Xander said. "You'll need some practice, though, and maybe some strength training."
Spike swore at him in several languages he was pretty sure Xander didn't know.
When Xander just grinned at him, Spike stepped away, and then whirled and attacked. This fight lasted longer, but Spike kept expecting to be stronger than he was, and that meant he still ended up flat on his back on the ground.
Ain't No Other Man It's True
"I don't see how you can watch this crap. It's like they didn't even try with the makeup."
"This is classic Trek!" Andrew protested.
"Classic crap more like," Spike grumbled.
"Nobody's making you watch it," Xander pointed out.
Spike watched in silence for a couple of minutes, his attention divided between the low-quality special effects on the screen and Xander and Andrew cuddled together on the couch. Xander had grown into a good enough looking man, but he couldn't figure out what Xander wanted with Andrew. Maybe he just liked the blind adoration.
"Oh, please," he said when another affront to all that was good and modern in special effects caught his eye. "How can you like this?"
"Spike," Xander said, and Spike braced himself for a rebuke, "come here." That startled him enough that he just stared.
"Come here," Xander said again, and this time he added a summoning gesture with the arm not wrapped around Andrew.
After another moment of hesitation--he didn't know what Xander wanted, did he?--he went.
Xander pulled him down onto the couch and settled him in so he was pressed against Xander with his head resting on Xander's shoulder and Xander's arm around his shoulders. Xander pressed a kiss to his temple, the same kind he'd given Andrew earlier, and said, "Now be quiet and watch."
Spike held out for about a minute before he relaxed and sank into Xander. He was silent for another five before he finally asked, "What am I supposed to do now?"
"Just watch," Andrew supplied. "Captain Kirk is about to do this really cool move."
Xander understood what he was really asking and grabbed the remote to pause in the middle of Shatner's sentence. Not that you could tell.
"Whatever you want," Xander said, "I suppose. You got the Shanshu. That's supposed to be some kind of reward, isn't it?"
It looked like somebody'd found the time to do the research.
"Oh," Andrew said, catching on, "you could stay and teach!"
Spike snorted. "I'm sure the Watchers would like that."
"We'd love it," Andrew gushed. "You have a lot of knowledge and history you could pass on. Plus your fighting skills. Everyone has to do some training, and the witches Willow and Giles keep bringing in need a human teacher."
Spike looked at Xander. "Is he serious?"
Xander kissed his temple again. "Absolutely."
Ain't No Other Man But You
Spike caught up with Xander and his girls in a small village somewhere in the middle of Tanzania. The traders who brought him knew the place, and knew Xander, and they took him straight to the space Xander was using as practice grounds.
"Spike!" Xander left his girls, and there were five of them now, to keep sparring while he came over and hugged Spike tightly. "What are you doing here?"
"Three months of nothing but rain." Spike tipped his head up to the sun and closed his eyes. "I got tired of it."
When he opened his eyes again, Xander was watching him thoughtfully.
"You might get sick of the sun in another three months."
Spike shrugged. "Then I'll go back." He smirked. "Andrew let me keep the Council credit card."
Xander laughed and shook his head. "I'll bet he did. I hope you brought some sunblock. I don't think I have any left, and you're going to burn without it." He pressed his lips to Spike's in a firm, swift kiss, and then turned Spike into the circle of the practice grounds. "As long as you're here, you can help me train the girls."