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The next morning Xander woke covered in cold sweat. He couldn’t remember much of what he’d been dreaming but he could still hear the cackle of laughter in his ears. Forcing himself from his bed, he checked the time before hurrying into the shower. A few minutes later he climbed the stairs, freshly showered and moderately more awake, which was a nice way to say he was few steps away from sleepwalking but that was pretty much normal. His body seemed to believe that the day didn’t officially start until 12pm, it was a fact that the rest of the world didn’t accept though so Xander was used to stumbling around like the undead until he’d managed to get enough sugar into his system to jump start the rest of his day.

 

His mom was sitting in front of the TV and Xander dropped a kiss onto her head, accepting the sandwich she held out for him as he grabbed his bag and hurried out the door, aware of her watching him the whole way.

 

He inhaled slowly as he stood in his driveway. He’d never expected to tell his mom about what he’d been doing with Buffy but the shock of losing himself had loosened his tongue and one thing had led to another. He wasn’t going to tell the others that his mom knew but he did feel better knowing that he had someone he could go to if it happened again though Xander was praying to every deity that the blackouts had been a simple result of being around Kyle for too long....who knew? Maybe stupidity was contagious after all.

 

He snorted at the thought, knowing his luck it was probably all those concussions that he’d gotten from Tony catching up on him. That was another thing, he knew that his mom hated his Dad but hearing her words last night had finally made him feel less like it was his fault as Tony had often claimed and just the idea of leaving Tony Harris behind was enough to bring a smile to his face.

 

The smile widened as he caught sight of Buffy and Willow hurrying up the road.

 

“Where were you last night?” Willow asked, her brow furrowed. “We waited for ages but Buffy had to patrol.”

 

Xander grinned. “Missed me, did ya?” he teased and Buffy snorted but Willow’s blush made his smile dim a bit. It was strange; Willow had been doing that a lot. “I had to stay in with the parental unit, have a heart to heart, you know? So no patrolling for the Xan-man.” he explained as they walked. “But how was patrol? Any new world ending threats that I should know about?”

 

Buffy shook her head, blonde tresses flying. “Nah, just some fledges and homework. It was no big, really.” she responded and Xander nodded, ignoring the strange heat in his chest that seemed to grow with every step they took towards the school.

 

Kyle and his group were lingering by the gate and as Xander passed them he couldn’t help the shiver that worked its way through him. He met one of the girls’ eyes and she giggled, an airy thing that made Xander’s throat itch with the need to echo it even as he hurried after Buffy and Willow, ignoring the eyes he could feel on his back.

 

The feeling grew throughout the day every time he ran into the group until the coach split them into teams and as they began moving, taking out their opponents Xander couldn’t help but chuckle under his breath, his eyes glowing green for a minute as he got into the rhythm of the game.

 

-------------------

 

Xander watched as Kyle targeted the students around Buffy, leaving her stranded in the middle as Xander took out Willow. He paused for a moment when Willow shot him a betrayed look as she dropped her ball back into the basket and took her seat, leaving only Buffy on the other side and as the rest of their group...his pack turned on Lance, Xander found himself laughing again.

 

There were a lot of things that Xander wasn’t proud of, like the fact that he wasn’t the best fighter? He wasn’t particularly proud of that especially when Buffy had to rescue his ass from the demon of the week. Another thing he wasn’t proud of was his eating habits but he’d seen his mom eying the vegetable aisle of the supermarket way too many times to think that was gonna last though.

 

But as much as Xander had bits of him he hated, one of his selling points was his loyalty. He was like a limpet, once he attached himself to someone, he stuck with them through hell and high water....so now as he stared at the betrayed look on his friends’ faces he didn’t understand why he couldn’t feel even the tiniest hint of guilt. Instead his body was already turning towards Kyle and the others, letting their familiar scent bleed away his uncertainties and this time he didn’t look back as he left the gym room.

 

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The alpha pulsed within the other’s mind. She could feel her siblings’ energy seeping into her through the boy’s skin and she rumbled in delight. The other didn’t understand what was happening but she blanketed his mind as he began to get agitated, not enough to take control from him but just enough to remove the thoughts that would make him abandon their siblings...their pack. When she was sure that the other wouldn’t break her tentative hold on his emotions she sank back into the nothingness, reaching for the spark of mother that was till hidden in the darkness.

 

This time the spark let her brush against it before retreating and as she shivered in delight she laughed, letting sleep pull her under.

 

The other wasn’t ready yet but he would be....soon.

 

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Spike woke in a relatively good mood, considering he hadn’t so much as wanked since he stepped foot into Sunnydale and had turned down shagging a rather luscious brunette the night before. The fact that the girl had offered after Spike had killed her pimp in front of her hadn’t mattered much to him but the sight of her dark hair and large brown eyes had made him turn away. He’d spent the rest of the night decimating a group of minions that figured that they were gonna be the new Big Bad around these parts...Spike really fucking hated copycats, before dropping into bed as the Sun rose, images of lovers with dark hair and dark eyes chasing him through his dreams.

 

Rolling out of bed Spike stumbled towards the bathroom, he needed to be at least semi-presentable if he was going to convince Xander’s ma that he was legit.

 

Stepping into the shower, he let the scalding hot water beat down on his skin as he braced himself against the blue tiles. Rivulets chased each other across his body and Spike watched, through half lidded eyes, as they swirled the drain around before vanishing into the darkness below.

 

His left hand curled into a fist absentmindedly as his mind flickered back to his first meeting with Fisi’s boy. There had been something so captivating about the teen, the mixture of wildness and innocence in those big brown eyes had made Spike long to run his tongue over the teen’s skin to see if he tasted like he smelled.

 

Spike’s right hand dropped from the tiles, sliding slowly across his stomach before curling around his half hard cock and he groaned low in his throat as he pictured the boy’s lush lips wrapped around him instead. His fingers tightened, eyes falling close as he stroked himself. Spike could bet the boy hadn’t ever been touched, it was clear in the way that he’d still carried that coltish way of moving before the primal side of him had rejoined the party, he could see it now the way those eyes would widen when Spike gripped his hair to show him how to suck his cock. He could almost feel the boy’s fingers digging into his hips as Spike shifted his leg so that it was brushing against the teen’s hard on.

 

His strokes quickened as image after image flashed by his eyes. Maybe he’d make the boy come first, feel the way the muscles of his throat contacted around Spike’s cock as he moaned. Or maybe he’d paint the boy’s face with his own release before slipping down to show him how it was really done.

 

Angelus had always said that Spike had a thing for virgins and he’d been right. There was nothing better than teaching someone else about their own body, watching the way every reaction seemed to surprise them before they were distracted by something else, something  better. It was Spike’s specialty, fuck then feed because men and women alike were drawn to the bad boy image that he’d cultivated over the years and they usually didn’t realize the danger they were in until Spike sunk his fangs into their neck as he drove his cock into their body.

 

But that wasn’t how he’d handle this one...No, Dru’s warnings about the kitten having claws had sunk in and if the boy turned out anything like Fisi, Spike wasn’t about to get off on the wrong foot with him.

 

His fingers tightened as he thought about it, he was going to savor Xander. Spread the boy out on his sheets and lick every inch of him until he was writhing, begging Spike to fuck him. He wanted the boy hooked on him, pulled in so deep that he didn’t know up from down and when he finally fucked him....he wanted Xander to scream.

 

Spike’s head dropped forward, his hips thrusting faster as he imagined it, the way the boy’s nails would dig into his skin, sharp teeth biting into his flesh when pleasure and pain blended. He wanted it all, he wanted Xander to need him, like he’d needed Dru, he wanted the boy to be lost in all Spike was, he wanted.....

 

The thought shattered as Spike came, splattering the tiles in front of him and he choked on an exhale as he watched the water wash away his release.

 

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Jessica drew her jacket closer to her as she hurried down the dark street, she was really trying to not jump at every shadow but after what Xander had told her she couldn’t help but see a leering, twisted face waiting for her in every patch of darkness between the lights that illuminated the road and she shivered as the night air plucked at her uniform.

 

The fact that Xander hadn’t been waiting for her was just another source of worry and God help her son if he wasn’t at home when she got there.

 

The sound of something clattering to the ground from an alley in front of her made Jessica freeze, her eyes locked on the patch of darkness as her heart thundered in her chest.

 

Glancing around Jessica swallowed past the dry lump in her throat...there wasn’t a house for miles and the shops along this strip of road had closed long before the night crept in.

 

She was just about to turn back, maybe she could catch the chef before he left for the night and ask him for a lift home, when the sound of whistling caught her air. Glancing back Jessica frowned at the young man strolling towards her. The light from the street lamps made his white hair glow and the long black cloak that he wore swayed with him as he walked towards her.

 

“Bit late for a lady to be out here on her own.” the man offered up as he drew level with her and for a second his eyes seemed to gleam yellow but his head snapped away before Jessica could be sure that she’d actually seen what she thought she had.

 

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Spike’s grin at having caught up with Xander’s ma slipped off his face as he smelled the rancid scent of a Boretz demon. His lips pulled back into an instinctive snarl when he made out the shape of a hunched over figure lingering at the mouth of the alley way. Gritting his teeth Spike pasted a smile back on his face, if the demon wasn’t hungry he might be able to get them by without letting the woman know something was up, if not....well he could improvise.

 

Turning back to the woman, Spike’s eyes flickered over her face and for a moment he paused because she could have been Fisi’s twin had it not been for her hair color and eyes. Pushing the thought away he cocked his head.

 

“If you’re going my way, I can walk with ya for a bit,” he offered and he could see that the woman wasn’t sure about accepting his proposal but as she glanced at the darkness ahead of her she nodded.

 

“If that’s alright with you? My son usually meets me but I think he’s running a bit late.” she told him.

 

Spike’s grin was more genuine as they started walking. “Yeah? Was a bit of a mother’s boy myself....” he paused. “The name’s Spike by the way.”

 

The woman smiled, “My name is Jessica,” she replied.

 

Spike nodded, keeping his eyes on the Boretz as it straightened. “Nice, sturdy name that, reminds me of my own ma.” he responded before reaching out and gripping Jessica’s hand. The woman froze, her eyes widening but Spike kept his grip on her. “Look, Jessica I don’t know if you’re gonna believe me or not but there’s something up ahead that’s dying to take a bite out of one of us and when it comes after to me I want you to run, get me?”

 

Jessica froze, her eyes darting to where Spike was looking but he knew she wouldn’t be able to see anything with her vision. “I....yes, I understand.” she whispered as the Boretz took a step closer and Spike grinned.

 

“Good.” he retorted, shoving her towards the light just as the demon leapt at him.

 

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Jessica stumbled backwards as the two bodies tousled, the sound of ripping reached her ear and then an ungodly howl shattered the silence of the night as they rolled into the light. It was only fear that held her in place as the creature on top of Spike glanced her way, its eyes glowing as it stared at her but the distraction seemed to be all Spike needed as he twisted beneath the thing, pulling his legs up then kicking out, sending the creature flying through the air.

 

The light from the street lamp illuminated the ridges on Spike’s face and the sharp teeth as he dove after the thing as the creature lumbered to its feet. Grabbing it in a headlock Spike twisted its neck to the right and the sharp snap of bones shattering echoed into the night as Spike let the thing’s body fall to the floor.

 

He turned to face Jessica, the ridges on his face melting away as he straightened his clothes.

 

Jessica took a step back. “What the fuck are you?”

 

Spike grinned, flashing human teeth. “I’m a vampire, luv but I ain’t the same as all these insects you’ve got running around here...” he shuddered theatrically as if just the thought of the comparison disgusted him. “Now, me? I’m like the fairy Godmother....just with more teeth.” he grinned, glancing at her curiously.

 

“A-are you going to...?” Jessica started but Spike waved her off.

 

“Way back when I met a lady, much like yourself. See she was dying and she made me promise to look after her kid.” He explained, “Crap like that? It changes ya. So here I am still looking after the little bastard even though he doesn’t know it.”

 

“What does that have to do with me?” Jessica asked and Spike smirked.

 

“Glad you asked, luv.” he replied. “Know how some people look at their kid and say ‘you’ve got an old soul’? Most of them are wrong; their kids are just boring but you? Lovey, your boy’s soul is older than you know.”

 

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Xander slowly approached his house, barely dragging one foot in front of the other. He was so tired; his joints ached in the way they used to when his mom claimed he was feeling his ‘growing pains’. He hadn’t talked to Buffy or Willow all day and he’d been constantly avoiding Kyle and the others since gym class. Something in him had railed at the idea of not being around the group but that had just made Xander dig his heels in more and in the end he’d spent most of the day hidden away in the library.

 

Glancing at the house he frowned, there were no lights on and while Tony wasn’t due to come back from visiting his friends, his mom should have been home by now. Hurrying towards the house he quickly unlocked the door and flicked on the lights as he stepped inside. A wall of silence greeted him and Xander dropped his bag as he caught sight of a piece of paper lying on the dining table.

 

Covering for Sophie, won’t get off until 7.

                                                                     

                                                                    Love Mom.

 

Xander’s heart skipped a beat as he dropped the note and spun for the door, barely taking the time to shut it as he raced along the street all thoughts of his weariness pushed to the back of his mind as he imagined his mom walking home alone, all because he hadn’t gotten home in time to find her note.

 

He turned the corner at a dead run and almost tripped over the two people walking towards him but strong hands caught him and Xander blinked as he looked at what had to be the prettiest guy he’d ever seen and his mom. The shock of almost running into them made Xander’s mind stutter until the coldness of the man’s hands registered and he stumbled backwards, placing himself between the vampire and his mother.

 

“Who the hell are you?!” he demanded but the stranger just quirked a brow like Xander was the most adorable thing he’d ever seen and dammit he didn’t want a vampire thinking he was adorable!

 

“Honey, this is Spike.” his mom cut in, oblivious to the tension. “He walked me home and rescued me from that nasty demon thingy.”

 

Xander gaped, monkey say what? “What demon thingy? He told you his name?!”

 

“Course I did, Master Vampire of Sunnydale and all, had to show some manners.” the vampire, Spike, smirked.

 

Jessica nodded. “He was just explaining what the Boretz venom does. I can’t believe that they eat homeless people.”

 

“I can’t believe you had a conversation with a vampire!” Xander shouted, clutching at his hair.

 

“Oi! Don’t go raising your voice at your ma.” Spike chided and Xander stared at him.

 

“Are you sure you’re a vampire?” he finally managed.

 

“What the hells that supposed to mean?” Spike snarled, taking a step forward and Xander mentally backpedaled. Do not antagonize the nice vampire when you don’t have a stake!

 

“I mean you’re not all....grrr, or anything.” Xander spluttered and Spike rolled his eyes.

 

“See what I mean about minions giving the rest of us a bad name?” he huffed, turning to Jessica who nodded in agreement. “See vampire societies are kind of like bees, bees with really big teeth that can make other bees. Now at the bottom of the caste you’ve got your workers, stupid as hell and will do anything they’re told but if they’re not given orders they’ll run around like headless chickens, they’re the minions that you’ve got sprouting up all over the place, understand?”

 

Xander bobbed his head and Spike grinned.

 

“At the top of your hive you’ve got your queen and she runs the hive, now your queen bee is the Master vampire....” Spike paused wrinkling his nose. “I doubt you’ve had many around here but I’ve heard that Darla decided to show her ugly face.”

 

Xander’s eyes narrowed as he remembered Jesse turning to ashes in front of him. “You know Darla?”

 

“Know her; wanna stake her, same difference.” Spike retorted. “Now, not that I don’t like standing in the night’s air and talking about my life story, but you might want to get a move on, duckies. Wouldn’t want some other nasty demon to run across you.”

 

Xander opened his mouth to retort that he didn’t need safety advice from a demon but his mom beat him to the punch.

 

“Thanks again for walking me home,” she grinned, “And be sure to take care of yourself, you promised to explain the rest of the story to me.” she reminded him and Xander watched in awe as the vampire ducked his head.

 

“I’ll do my best, luv.” he smiled, eye flickering over Xander. “I might even drop in for a visit.”

 

Xander gaped as the vampire swirled and vanished into the night.

 

“Such a nice young man,” Jessica murmured as she turned and started walking again.

 

“Mom!” Xander protested, hurrying after her.

 

-------------------

 

Spike liked Jessica Harris, the woman reminded him of his ma and she wasn’t scared to call him on his bullshit, though Spike could see the way she’d hesitated the first time he’d turned up when Xander wasn’t there. He hadn’t mentioned it though, nor had he mentioned the fact that Jessica tensed every time a car drove done their street. Spike just watched and waited because he already had a plan for the woman’s husband but humans were finicky so Spike figured that the less Jessica knew about the whole thing the better.

 

It had been two days since he’d walked her home and every time he entered the house Xander’s smell was just a hint wilder and the green glow just a little more present in his eyes.

 

Jessica slid into the seat across from him, jerking Spike from his thoughts. Her green eyes flickered over his face curiously. “So have you...fed tonight?” she asked and Spike shrugged because she asked the same question every time she saw him and yet despite his answer, her scent didn’t seem to change.

 

“No more than usual,” he admitted, which was the truth. He’d snacked on a recently released child molester but that had been all and in a way he was keeping the streets clean because that idiot wasn’t going to be preying on any kids, any time soon. “So where’s the little bit gotten to?” Spike queried as Jessica took a sip of her tea. He could hear Xander’s heartbeat but he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the boy since he’d arrived.

 

“He’s not feeling well...” Jessica began, a small smile flitting across her face. “And you promised to tell me the full story of what’s happening to him, so I might not have told him that you were here.” she added.

 

Spike chuckled at that. “So that’s why the door was open and you had my invite all prepped?” he queried and she nodded. “Ain’t that devious of ya. Almost thinking like a vampire.” he commended, leaning back in his seat. “So what do you want to know?”

 

Jessica cocked her head as she considered his question. “You said Xander was an old soul.” she started, her eyes flicking from his to her own hands.

 

“And I’ve got an inkling that you knew that already.” Spike prompted, brow hiking as Jessica bit her lip.

 

“I’ve never told anyone and the doctors don’t seem to remember it but when Xander was born....I think he died.” she whispered, her fingers tightening on the mug handle. “Nobody said it but a mother knows and when he was born he didn’t cry, didn't move....he was just so still and I knew that he was dead. I could feel it.”

 

As Jessica spoke Spike’s eyes flickered to the foot of the stairs where he could hear Xander’s heartbeat. Looked like the boy wasn’t as unaware of his presence as his mother had thought but Spike didn’t give him away, if they were going to work together Xander needed to hear the unvarnished truth.

 

“I’d been fighting with Tony a few hours before I went into labor and he.....” she glanced away and Spike held himself completely still as the scent of fear rafted through the air. “....it got out of hand and by the time he left I could feel the baby coming but when I called he said, if I was woman enough to stand up to him, I was woman enough to push the brat out myself. And when the nurse took the baby I knew that I’d let Tony kill him, that’s all I could think, that if I’d left he would have been fine.” she whispered. “The nurse who passed him to me, there was something wrong with her eyes and it was like time stopped but I didn’t pay attention to any of it because Xander started crying and all I could focus on was the fact that my baby was alive. Afterwards no one could remember her either, just that young nurse who said that she’d told them her name was Alex and that she was a relative.” Jessica paused and glanced at Spike. “That really happened didn’t it? He did die, didn’t he?”

 

“If I said yes, would you believe me?” Spike queried.

 

Jessica gaped, “What do you mean? Of c-course I would!” she stuttered and Spike tutted.

 

“The nose knows, luv and you ain’t being all that truthful.” he purred and Xander’s heartbeat sped up as he took a step closer.

 

“So tell me, did you tell the Slayer or did your boy?” Spike continued, his tone blasé. “because I can smell the garlic...which won’t do much but piss me off and I’ve seen at least two stakes since I’ve been ‘ere.” he paused then rising to his feet. “If you want the truth, luv, you’re gonna have to trust me first....as hard as that might be.” he added softly as he stood and headed for the door.

 

“Wait!” Jessica shouted, stumbling to her feet and Spike could hear the slosh of liquid as she spilled her tea in her haste. “You said you’d tell me how to help him!”

 

“Why am I gonna tell you something you ain’t gonna believe?” Spike asked not turning around though he did pause.

 

“Do you think this is easy for me?!” Jessica spat and Spike grinned because there it was, all that anger she kept pushed down so deep because she was used to having it beaten out of her. “I let you into my house...”

 

“And you could disinvite me just as quickly,” Spike added in. “You think I can’t smell the ingredients for the spell, wonder where your boy managed to rustle that one up from?”

 

“I trusted you to not hurt me or Xander!” Jessica shot back and this time Spike did turn, one hand braced against the door frame and his eyes gleaming yellow.

 

“You didn’t trust me luv. You trusted the fact that you knew I couldn’t hurt the boy and that means I couldn’t hurt you either. That ain’t trust, its manipulation and trust me...I know a lot about that trick.”

 

“What do you want me to do?!” Jessica demanded, her fingers clenching into fists.

 

“I want you to help your boy because he can’t handle what’s coming alone.” Spike replied as he straightened. “But to help him you’ve got to sort your own head out....not everyone’s out to hurt you, luv and sometimes you’ve got to step away from the ones who do try.”

 

Jessica’s eyes widened but Spike didn’t wait for a reply as he stepped out onto the porch.

 

-----------------

 

 Scrubbing her hands across her face, Jessica shut the door and bolted it. Her head hurt and her hands were shaking as she recalled Spike’s words. It sounded like the vampire knew what had happened between her and Tony but there was no way that he could know. No one knew other than Xander, Jessica had made sure of it!

 

Turning away she paused. Xander was standing at the foot of the stairs, his head tilted and Jessica was glad she couldn’t see his eyes, she knew she should have told him what had happened years ago but she always felt like telling him would make her less of a mother because what mother stayed with someone like Tony Harris after all he’d done to her...to Xander?

 

“I always thought that he hurt you because of me,” Xander whispered and Jessica took a step closer, freezing when Xander pulled back. “I thought it was my fault, it’s why I spent so much time outside of this house because every time I was here he seemed to get angrier, like I made it worse just by being here and I started to believe it because that’s how everybody acted around me, like I was some burden.”

 

“Xander, I told you...” Jessica started but Xander made a distressed sound as his eyes glittered green for a second.

 

“You said he killed me. You thought he’d actually killed me and the nurse with the weird eyes, why didn’t you tell me about that?” he demanded and Jessica inhaled sharply, hearing the words from Xander made it seem so much worse, made her decisions to stay seem so stupid.

 

Dropping back into her chair, Jessica rested her head in her hands. “I couldn’t....I couldn’t tell you or anyone because telling someone would make it real. I couldn’t even think about it too long because you were there and you were alive, I’d created this perfect little person and that meant that I couldn’t be the horrible person that Tony told me that I was!”

 

Something moved and Xander’s voice was closer the next time he spoke but Jessica didn’t look up.

 

“You’re not a bad person, mom.” Xander whispered, his voice thick with tears and Jessica clutched at the hand that brushed against hers.

 

“If I wasn’t horrible then why did I stay? I deserved it, Xander...I did but the moment he turned his anger on you, I should have left, I should’ve packed our bags and just gone....but I didn’t. What type of mother does that?”

 

Xander didn’t answer and as the silence settled over them, Jessica let the tears she’d held back for so long, run free.

 

------------------

 

Spike made his way through the cemetery as he thought about his options. There was no way that he was going to let Tony Harris keep living, the question now was whether he would be able to get Jessica and Xander to leave before he gutted the man like the coward he was.

 

Growling in frustration he lit a fag and let the smoke calm him as it swirled in the night air. Angel had contacted him earlier that night claiming that Darla was still in the area and how the big poof knew that was beyond Spike because he was sure that the soul would have broken the Sire-Childe bond between the two as he couldn’t see Darla letting Angel’s compassion infect her.

 

That was all he need really, another run in with the blonde bint, though this time Spike didn’t have Dru to protect and if Darla was still lurking around Sunnydale then Spike was well within his rights as a Master to dust her, since she hadn’t asked permission to go traipsing through his territory.

 

The thought amused him so much that he almost missed the smell of the Slayer behind him but as it was he let the bint have a free shot.

 

The pain from the wooden stake piercing his heart made him regret his decision and Spike snarled as fire writhed through the damaged nerves.

 

Yanking the stake out, Spike rounded on the two chits who were staring at him in awe.

 

“Why aren’t you dust?” the Slayer demanded even as the red head took another step back. “You feel like a vampire.”

 

“And I look like a vampire...” Spike added, letting his face shift. “And I feed like a vampire. Where the fuck are you going with all the questions?”

 

“Buffy are you sure this is the guy that Xander said was stalking him?” the other girl whispered and Spike glanced at her.

 

“Bleach blond, cool coat and an attitude...I’d say that’s him,” the slayer shot back, hauling another stake from her pack and lunging forward.

 

Spike spun into her charge and his move threw her off balance for a second but a second was all he needed to duck under her arm and use her own body’s forward motion against her. Yanking the arm with the stake up, Spike twisted it behind her body as he grabbed her other hand so that they were both pinned behind her back.

 

“You know the thing about pot and kettle? Cause those roots don’t look like a natural blond to me, luv.” Spike purred as the heady scent of Slayer swamped his senses. Gritting his teeth he tightened his grip on her hand until he could hear the bones creak and she dropped the stake. Shoving her forward he caught the thing in one hand as she stumbled. “Tell Xander that if he sends you two after me again, I’ll send you home to him in pieces. I’m reformed but I ain’t perfect.” Spike spat before whirling and leaving the two standing along in the silent cemetery.

 

 He had a date with a zoo warden and four idiots that he really didn’t want to miss. Rubbing his chest where the wound was already knitting together, Spike huffed. Fucking teenagers! No wonder Fisi had bound his soul to the little twat because fuckable or not Xander was proving to be a lot more work than Spike had expected.

 

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Spike wrinkled his nose as he stared down at the dead warden. What was it with humans and not fucking listening? All he’d needed the man to do was transfer the spirits from the other four teenagers back into the hyena because handling Xander was hard enough, he wasn’t about to babysit a whole pack of primals. But did the human listen? No. The fucker had decided to mouth off when Spike asked him nicely....while his fingers were wrapped around the man’s neck but he left space for him to breath, so now he was left with one drained corpse and four unconscious teenagers, who Spike was tempted to drain too just because they had been spectacular pains in his ass.

 

Snorting Spike spun away from the scene as the teens began to stir. All was well with the primal world and now Spike was going to go home and sleep....for about four years or until Xander decided to stop being an idiot.

 

With that thought in mind Spike strode off, only to pause when he caught a familiar scent heading towards him.

 

Closing his eyes, he shook his head as the scent drew closer. “Are all humans this stupid or do you people practice?” Spike purred as Xander paused a few feet away from him. Opening his eyes he took in the boy’s rumpled clothing.

 

“Mom said you know what’s in my head,” the boy gritted out, straightening in an effort to make himself seem bigger but Spike hadn’t been intimidated by Angelus at the peak of his bloodlust and he didn’t even bat an eye at the display from the runt before him.

 

“I might....or I might not.” Spike shot back as he started walking, grinning when the boy scrambled after him. “It’s like I told your ma while you were eavesdropping, dirty habit that, I ain’t about to give out information that isn’t gonna be used properly.”

 

“You said you have to protect me, that’s what you meant, right?” Xander demanded and Spike glanced across at him.

 

“Vampire, luv. I could be lying through my teeth.” he replied and Xander’s eyes glittered like the prettiest emeralds for a quick second before fading to their normal brown.

 

“Ok, maybe I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but the Xan-man is not stupid.” Xander shot back. “If you were messing with our heads, you wouldn’t be telling my mom to leave Tony....”

 

“Didn’t say that did I?” Spike retorted, watching a muscle in Xander’s jaw twitch as the teen glared at him.

 

“....and you wouldn’t have walked her home either. You could have killed her out there and nobody would have known.” Xander continued, ignoring Spike’s words.

 

“Could be fattening you two up, haven’t you ever read Hansel and Gretel? Not much meat on your bones, probably means there ain’t much blood in your veins either...a vampire could starve.”

 

Xander growled and gripped at his hair as he stared at Spike. “Would you just stop!” he snarled and between one breath and the next Spike was behind him, his breath making the hair on Xander’s neck stand up.

 

“Why should I, luv? This is what vampires do....sometimes we like games, like to see how far you little humans will push yourselves before you break into itty bitty pieces,” he whispered and Xander froze, his fingers curling into fists at his sides.

 

“You’re lying.” the teen finally choked out and Spike raised a brow as he leaned in closer, so close now that he could feel the heat rolling of the boy’s body in waves but still Xander didn’t step away and the scent of the primal grew stronger with each of the teen’s breaths.

 

“Am I?” Spike asked, inhaling the sweet scent that was threading its way through Xander normal scent.

 

“If you’re not...then kill me.”

 

The words made Spike freeze. “Come again?”

 

Xander stepped back and whirled to face him, his eyes narrowed as they flitted over Spike’s face. “You’re a vampire, right? That’s what you want me and mom to understand, no moral compass and all that but you aren’t acting like a vampire, so show me that you mean it....” he tilted his head to the side, exposing the ling line of his throat. “Go ahead, bite me....”

 

“Boy....” Spike growled, unable to pull his eyes away from the expanse of tender flesh. Shaking his head Spike glanced away. “Pet, your ma is probably worried sick about you running around in the night....”

 

“Don’t fucking....!” Xander started, his eyes falling shut as he bowed his head. “You said this was a game, then go on and end it because if you don’t....” he exhaled slowly and Spike’s nose wrinkled at the sour scent of misery. “There’s something living in my head. I can feel it in there; do you know how that feels? Not knowing if you’re gonna wake up one morning and suddenly it’s gonna be the Mr. Hyde to your Dr. Jekyll? I can’t do it, ok? So if you know something....” Xander’s voice broke. “I can’t stay in the house with my mom and not know....please?”

 

Spike rolled his eyes at the boy’s blubbering, God save him from emotional baby humans. “Right nummy, you want the truth?” Xander nodded and Spike scoffed before heading towards his house. Pausing when he realized the boy wasn’t following. “Well, come on then. You sure as hell ain’t gonna hear what I have to tell ya if you keep standing there like a bloody scarecrow.”

 

--------------------

 

Spike watched as Xander took in the house; his brown eyes wide as they darted from object to object and he could just guess the culture shock that the boy was getting. From what he’d heard most of the vampires this group ran into were usually just digging themselves out of their graves or in the Master’s case, hiding out underground like a great big bloody bat.

 

“Sit down before you wear out the carpet, mate.” Spike told him and he could just about see the conflicting urges warring in the boy’s head...to do what was polite, or to ignore the vampire. Finally the boy’s shoulder slumped and he shuffled towards the empty seat, perching on the edge of it, like he was going to bolt at any second and Spike chuckled softly. This particular fly had just waltzed into his parlor before realizing how much danger he would be in if Spike was lying.

 

Pouring out two shots of whiskey Spike made his way back to the seats, handing one to the teen who stared at like it was the first time he’d seen alcohol.

 

Settling into the seat, Spike took a quick sip of his and watched as Xander did the same, the boy inhaled sharply at the taste but thankfully he didn’t choke.

 

“So what exactly do you wanna know then?” Spike started and Xander straightened.

 

“Mom said you thought I had an old soul, what did you mean?”

 

Spike cocked his head as he considered the best way to answer the question. Placing his glass on the small table Spike glanced towards the window where he could just see the dawn breaking though Xander wouldn’t be able to...not yet. “I’m guessing from the fact that you’re pals with the Slayer that you know how vampires are made, yeah?” Xander nodded and Spike grinned. “Well back in the day my Sire’s Sire managed to piss off a whole clan of gypsies and the stuck the poof with a soul faster than you can say ‘howdy do’.....” Spike explained. “Now if we’d been any other little vampire family everybody would have gone their separate ways but my Dru wanted her daddy back....that’s what she called Angelus back then....”

 

“Dru?” Xander frowned and Spike glanced at him.

 

“Drusilla, my Sire.” he clarified but Xander’s frown just deepened.

 

“And her Sire was Angelus and his was Darla?” the teen spluttered, his eyes narrowing. “Your real name isn’t Spike, is it?”

 

Spike grinned when he realized what was going on. “William, the Bloody at your service, luv.” he shot back and the sound Xander made then sounded like a dying woodland creature.

 

“Y-you’re part of the....Jesus Christ, Xander you’ve done it now.” the boy muttered to himself and Spike laughed, the boy was the most entertaining thing he’d seen in years!

 

“Remember you asked to be here, mate.” Spike prodded, keeping his face blank when Xander glared at him.

 

“That’s before I knew how evil and old.....”

 

“Oi!” Spike protested but Xander just steamrolled over him.

 

“...you were!” the boy continued. “They wrote stories about the four of you! One of you turned my best friend!”

 

“Heard about that, Darla always was a bitch.” Spike chimed in helpfully. “And who the hell are you calling old? If your ma hadn’t split your soul in two and sent ya here you’d be the old one. Not that you’d have known, how long were you a baby, again?”

 

Xander gaped. “What?”

 

Spike froze as his brain caught up with his mouth. “Nothing, don’t listen to me, mate. I’m old.”

 

“Oh, no. No, nope, you don’t get to say shit like that and then try to take it back. What the fuck do you mean split my soul?!” Xander squawked and Spike resisted the urge to rub at his temple where the ghost of a headache was making itself known.

 

“Spike!” Xander shouted and Spike glared at him balefully.

 

“What?!”

 

“What did you mean by that?” Xander demanded, eyes narrowing as Spike pushed to his feet.

 

“Meant what I said, didn’t I?” Spike spat, moving towards the window as the sun peaked over the horizon. “Angelus got a soul shoved so far up his ass that it rattled something loose and Darla didn’t want to lose her little toy so she dragged me and Dru down to Romania and got the stupid fucking idea to force an Old One to de-soul the bastard. But it didn’t work like they thought it would because Dru wasn’t the only one who took a sip of that priest and she sure as hell wasn’t the one with the soul....”

 

“Vampires don’t have....”

 

“Would you keep your fucking gob shut!” Spike snarled, rounding on him as the prickle from the sun made his skin crawl. “We ain’t meant to have souls but Dru was batty as fuck when she made me, maybe she did something wrong or did something right, I don’t give a damn either way.....” he paused, exhaling slowly as he tried to force the tension from his body. “The Old One, her name was Fisi. She knew what they’d been trying to do but she had her own reason for letting me find her. She was dying and her children needed to pass on but the last one...the runt of the pack, wasn’t a proper primal. That one was all mixed up, girl and boy, primal and human and she needed someone who would watch over him. So who better to ask than someone who was immortal, who would live to see the kid be born? But vampires aren’t really immortal are we? Slayers can dust us; sun can burn us....so she changed it, pulled something apart and bound my soul to hers and the soul of her kid.” The sun was rising behind him now and Spike watched as Xander’s eyes widened when the light glinted on his skin but did nothing to him. Turning away Spike watched the golden globe rise in the skies. “You wanted to know what’s in your head because you wanna get rid of it and go back to being human, right?” he whispered and if it hadn’t been for his hearing he would have caught the soft ‘yes’ from the teen. “You can’t go back to being something you’ve never been, luv and that thing in your head has as much right to be in your body as you do.”

 

----------------------

 

Xander’s blood ran cold as Spike spoke. A part of him was screaming that the man was a vampire and not to be trusted but that vampire had protected his mom and hadn’t tried to kill Buffy and Willow when they went after him even though Xander had told them to stay away. But what Spike was talking about couldn’t be possible...which, ok considering the fact that he was talking to a vampire, he didn’t really have room to judge what was and wasn’t possible!

 

“Why should I believe you?” Xander finally choked out and Spike glanced over his shoulder, a sly smile stretching his lips.

 

“You shouldn’t believe me. After all I am a demon, mate.”

 

----------------------

 

Giles rubbed his glasses furiously as he listened to Xander outline what Spike had told him on the other side of the room Buffy was pacing like a lion at the zoo while Willow dug through every account of the Scourge of Europe that she could find but Xander could have told her to stop because he was certain that she wouldn’t find anything except what Spike had already shared.

 

“You are sure that he said primals?” Giles queried, breaking Xander’s line of thought and the teen turned to him.

 

“That’s what he said primals in the body of hyenas,” he responded and Giles sighed.

 

“It is possible that he may be lying...” he started. “Though from what I’ve read about William his word was as binding as those of the fae.”

 

“So we’re just going to believe the vampire?!” Buffy demanded, her brows furrowed as she stared at her watcher.

 

“Not like we can do much...” Willow interrupted, never once looking up from the book she was reading. “Remember, you can’t stake him....or you can he just won’t be very dusty afterwards and I’m pretty sure he meant that thing about sending us back in pieces.”

 

“Quite, right.” Giles agreed. “While William...or Spike as he is calling himself, is concerned with Xander’s well-being, neither of you would be protected from him if he decides you’re a nuisance. But there must be some other way to...”

 

“Sunlight doesn’t work either,” Xander cut in, shrugging when the others glanced his way. “Blondie was standing by the window when I left and it didn’t give him so much as a sunburn.”

 

“So what, he’s immortal?” Buffy frowned, turning to Giles for answers but the watcher was staring at Xander.

 

“The Old One that he mentioned did he give you a name?” Giles inquired and Xander glanced away as he racked his mind. Spike had mentioned a name but....

 

“Fidi or Fisi, I think. I wasn’t really concentrating anything other than the fact that I’m supposedly not human.” Xander huffed, sinking further into his seat. “That kind of distracts you, you know? Not to mention the dirty touching vibe I was getting off that guy.”

 

Willow’s head snapped up at that and it figured that she’d be more interested in his love life than she was in the fact that he’d just gained some very demony bits.

 

Giles was already moving though, pulling books from his shelves as he muttered to himself. Finally he seemed to find what he was looking for and he turned back to the small group. “Fisi is one of the first Old Ones to be reported and one of the most vicious ever known. She vanished from the mortal world several centuries ago but we kept track of her movement through her priests.” the watcher mumbled as he flicked through the book. “The only constant that each priest reported was that she lived with a pack of hyenas and at all times she could be seen with a baby.” he read, pausing as his eyes flitted to Xander’s face.

 

“And if we’re gonna believe what Spike says then that kid was me?” Xander spluttered. He’d come to Giles hoping for information that would disprove the vampire’s claim not strengthen it! “What about the soul thing? Spike said his soul was all tangled up with mine...is that possible, if I was this kid, could that...” he paused, taking a deep breath. “...could Fisi have done something like that?”

 

“The binding of the soul would be mere child’s play for someone who truly knew about the magic they were wielding, as I’m sure Fisi knew more than enough to pull such a feat off.” Giles conceded.

 

“Am I the only one who still remembers that this guy is a vampire?!” Buffy shouted, her fingers clenching at her sides. “We should be trying to kill him not make friends!”

 

“And say you did find a way to kill him. We have no idea what such a thing might do to Xander if they are truly bound as Spike claims they are.” Giles retorted.

 

“But what about that thing in Xander’s head?” Willow whispered, her face pale in the low light.

 

“For the time being we will have to hope for the best. Attempting to exorcise the spirit from the body it’s supposed to be in could have a detrimental effect on both the spirit and Xander.” the watcher sighed, swiping a hand across his face. “At the moment our hands are tied and our best source of information seems to Spike.” he admitted and Xander slumped even further in his seat.

 

Oh joy!

 

------------------

 

Spike shut his door and glanced at the hunched figure huddled beneath the large oak tree that dominated the front of the yard, if it hadn’t been for the demon he would have missed the boy completely.  He knew the boy would be coming back but he hadn’t expected him to be there so soon. Shaking his head, Spike inhaled the scent that had clung to his house hours after Xander had left.

 

“Something you want, pet?” he asked as he passed the teen and Xander hurried after him, long legs quickly eating up the distance between them as the boy caught and matched his stride.

 

Xander glanced at him and Spike rolled his eyes, for all the power that was locked away in his brain, the boy was like a skittish colt just waiting for the big, bad wolf to snap him up...thankfully while Spike did want to sink his teeth into Xander’s flesh it was for a completely different reason.

 

“Where are you going?” Xander asked, ignoring the question and Spike paused.

 

“Gonna catch myself a quick bite.” he purred, delighting in the flare of fear that he could smell in the boy’s scent. “Ain’t really a good idea for me to be walking around with an empty stomach.”

 

Xander tensed. “So you still kill people?”

 

“On occasion,” Spike admitted, as he started moving again.

 

“But you’ve got a soul!” Xander pointed out, his brows furrowed. “You saved my mom....”

 

“And that don’t make me any less of a demon, luv. We’re not all fuck and feed, sometimes we like the little things in between,” Spike retorted. “Plus I like your ma....she reminds me of my own.”

 

Xander planted himself in Spike’s way and the vampire barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes heavenward. This was exactly why he didn’t take human lovers...they were so picky. Glancing back at the stubborn look on the boy’s face, he braced himself for a rant on morals.

 

“Who do you feed on?” Xander asked and Spike’s brow rose because he hadn’t been expecting that.

 

“People, nummy...those humans just hustling around like happy meals on legs.” Spike explained slowly like Xander was stupid but the teen’s eyes just narrowed.

 

“But you don’t kill everyone do you?”

 

“What makes you think that, then?” Spike shot back and Xander tilted his head to the side. For a quick second his eyes glinted green, the glow eerie in the dark around them and Spike pursed his lips, it seemed the primal was closer to binding with the boy than he’d thought.

 

“You said you’re different from minions and minions always kill people,” Xander pointed out. “You didn’t attack my friends even though they came after you first and you saved my mom when you didn’t have to. You don’t sound like the sort of person that would just kill people all willy nilly.”

 

Spike lifted his head and took a step closer to the boy but Xander held his ground, watching him from beneath hooded lids.

 

“And you think just because I don’t drain everybody I come across dry that make me a good person do you?” he whispered, hiding the shiver when green began overwhelming the brown in the boy’s eyes but this time he could still feel the boy’s spirit beneath the primal’s presence.

 

“I think you want me to think that you’re evil. You want me to be scared of you.” Xander admitted but not even the admission was enough to make him turn away from Spike and the vampire was silent as the boy continued. “But I think that someone that was really evil wouldn’t try and keep his promises or take care of his Sire for over a hundred years even though she was insane....”

 

“Think you know all about me do you, luv?” Spike growled and he was so close now that the hair on Xander’s skin was standing in reaction to his presence.

 

Xander shook his head, a small sad smile flitting across his face. “The thing is I’m always scared so you don’t really change that much.” he responded, swaying to some unheard music and Spike would have been worried if he couldn’t hear the beat of the drums that had captured the boy’s attention. “I don’t know anything about you other than what I’ve read...or what I’ve seen and while I don’t trust you, I think that you’ll at least tell me before you try to kill me.”

 

Spike snorted at that, squinting as he considered the strange teen in front of him. “You’re right about that much. I ain’t one for the cloak and dagger thing, that was more Darla and Angelus’ game than mine.” he conceded, tapping his finger against his chin as he stared at Xander. His grin grew as the boy began to squirm at the same time that the glow lessened in his eyes. “Here’s what’s gonna happen. We’re cutting the Slayer out of this cause I get twitchy around ‘em and the last time I ran into two...they wound up dead. Now I don’t think you want that to happen to the bint so keep her out of my way.”

 

Xander nodded in understanding and Spike smirked.

 

“As for how good or bad I am. You could toddle along and watch me feed if you’re so concerned about all these other blood bags.” Spike suggested and Xander’s surprise almost made him purr in delight. There was no way that the boy was going to....

 

“Fine.” Xander spat and Spike froze, narrowing his eyes at the grin on the boy’s face. “Fine, the Xan-man is officially down with this plan. Let’s see you getting all sucky face with people without killing them.”

 

Spike shook his head in amazement. He needed to stop underestimating the kid.

 

--------------

 

The blonde woman watched the strange duo as they headed down the street. The fact that the vampire hadn’t smelled or sensed her meant that the spell she got the little witch to cast was working well....that was good, for the girl, as it meant that she wouldn’t have to kill her.

 

It had been hard to track Spike down but now that she’d found him she was sure that the little idiot would lead her straight to the Old One and she’d delight in his screams as she wrung every ounce of power out of the creature that most of the demons believe to be a God. Scoffing she turned away, her skirts flaring around her legs before fluttering to settle against her skin like a scarlet waterfall. A man hurrying in the opposite direction paused and glanced at her and the blonde shot him a seductive smile before hurrying on.

 

The demons she’d managed to persuade to give her the information she needed had told her that even the Old Ones died and it seemed that this one was due for the grave any minute. She just needed to time it correctly because the Old Ones had to pass on their immortality and the majority of their power when they died, either to an heir or to whatever being was present at their demise and she was going to be very much present, if she had anything to say about it.

 

----------------