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An Unexpected Turn

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Warmth seeped between tightly clenched fingers, gushing in small spurts with each forced movement. Xander might not have had the heightened senses of slayers or vampires, but he knew the blood oozing out of his wound was more than enough to kill him. He hadn't thought about it when he took on the demon alone, he hadn't even been aware demons stalked the midnight streets of Los Angeles. All he'd come for was a weekend to unwind.

Buffy had snapped at him just before the weekend had hit. Angel leaving Sunnydale had enraged the petite blonde and the only emotions she ever expressed anymore were anger and spite. The hesitant friendship Xander had formed with both Angel and Spike before Angel's retreat had annoyed the Slayer and she took out her frustrations on him more than anyone else. Giles had quietly suggested Xander make himself scarce for the four day weekend. Xander remembered how the older gentleman had shoved a handful of cash into his hands as he had pushed him out of the library. When Xander said he had no idea where he would go, Giles suggested L.A. It was far enough away and big enough to have enough malls, arcades and diners to please the teenager. Xander had to agree. It was better than lying low at his parents' place for four days straight, anyway.

Now Xander wondered why he thought coming all the way out to Los Angeles to die was such a good idea. He'd assumed the lack of a Hellmouth in L.A. would mean a lack of baddies. Shooting a hesitant glance downward to his bloodstained bright orange t-shirt made his stomach lurch. So much for that blissfully ignorant opinion.

The demon had taken Xander completely by surprise. One moment he was playing Area 51 in some blacklit and neon arcade, the next some poor chick was running by him, pursued by what looked like an average teenage delinquent. It wasn't until he'd chased the pair down into the alleyway just outside that the demon showed himself. He still mostly looked like the teenage dirtbag, except for the angry purple skin and thick ivory shoulder spikes.

Xander knew he wasn't the best trained of the Scoobies, but he'd be damned if he let one lousy demon have his way. He'd grabbed a metal pipe leaning up against a dumpster and thwacked the demon across the back, chipping one spike. The demon turned sharply and growled at Xander. Xander's stomach dropped when he saw the demon drop the lifeless body of the girl he'd chased out of the arcade.

The demon had thrown himself at Xander, ripping at his arms, legs, stomach, anywhere he could reach. Xander's long, thin body gave him enough of an edge to leap out of the way for most of the hits, but his defense was poor. He gripped the metal rod tightly, surprised he could keep a hold of it through the shower of punches and claws. Risking a foolish move, he stepped quickly into the demon's attack, ramming the pole through one purple shoulder, causing the demon to roar in agony. It lashed out with one swooping strike at Xander's gut, tearing a gouge through fabric and flesh. The pain was blindingly excruciating. As Xander fell to the cement, the demon glared fire at the dark haired teen before ripping the pole out of his shoulder and dashing away.

Though he felt he was dying, Xander couldn't help but feel a bit grossed out by the idea of his corpse lying on a filthy back alley street. He used what precious little strength he had left to grope along the cement, his blood gushing from the tear in his stomach. His clothes were smeared with grime, the bright orange shirt a camouflage pattern of orange, black and sickly, copper red drying into brown. He pulled himself up onto the bottom step of the arcade's back staircase. There he sat, waiting for his last breath. He wondered if it would be warm, cool, long...he already knew no one else was going to hear it.

Before oblivion took him, as darkness began to swallow his vision, he thought he heard the sound of hard soled shoes smacking the cement at a run. He could feel his cooling body being roughly moved into a cold embrace. Was this Death coming to take him? Xander blinked upwards, clearing his vision a little, and would have laughed had he had the energy. Death looked like an angel. Or, Angel, actually.

"You stupid boy," Death chided him. "Taking on a Lubidos Demon alone like that. Stupid, stupid boy." It was strange hearing Death worry over him like that. Wasn't it the big guy's job to take souls? Wasn't his death good for business? Xander weakly raised one hand, the one previously holding his stomach wound closed, and lightly gripped Death's upper arm, his blood running down the slick black leather sleeve. If dying was this comforting, Xander didn't feel like there was too much to be scared about. His lips curled up into a smile as he let the darkness take him.

~~~~~

The last smell Angel had expected to be hit fully in the nose with was that of Xander Harris. He was on the prowl for a dangerous Lubidos Demon that was reported having been seen in the city, terrorizing young women. He and Spike had argued for a good twenty minutes about which one of them got to take care of this one before they decided they could split up and see just who could find it first.

Angel had caught the scent of the demon outside of an arcade and had scared it into flight. The stubborn thing had decided to try to take some girl hostage and he'd lost them in the crowd inside the packed building. It didn't make him happy, but he realized he'd have to leave the arcade, get away from the overpowering stench of hundreds of humans, to find the demon's scent trail again. Just minutes after going outside and halfway around the building, he was smacked in the nose with the odor of blood. The demon had been wounded but there was another more powerful blood coming through. Angel had had plenty of whiffs of this human before and he'd never forget him. Xander Harris. And there was too much of his smell coming from that alleyway.

Taking off in a sprint, Angel saw the crumpled form of Xander leaning up against the filthy back stairs. The teenager's stomach was ripped open and blood gushed from him. The delicious odor of fresh human blood caught Angel off guard, causing a dizzy spell in the Master Vampire. Angelus growled appreciatively in the back of his mind, crashing against his skull, urging his feet forward. Angel stumbled a few feet before shaking off the bloodlust and rushing ahead.

Being closer to Xander just made things worse. The boy was covered in too much of his own blood and Angelus loved the sight. The pale skin splashed with the coppery ambrosia was making him hard. His chocolate eyes were glossing over. Angel could feel the life leaving the boy's body. He shook his head and grabbed Xander, positioning him in his lap.

"You stupid boy," He chided. "Taking on a Lubidos Demon alone like that. Stupid, stupid boy." Xander slowly raised one hand, the one that had been at his stomach, and rested it on Angel's leather jacket. Tiny rivulets of blood trickled down the slick fabric. Angel glared down at Xander's peaceful face, his eyes closing and a small smile lifting the corners of his paling lips.

"You are not going to die on me, Xander," Angel vowed and held the teenager close to him. Faster than he had moved in a long time, he secured Xander in an over the threshold embrace and ran out of the alley. His demon eyes scanned signs posted all over, on streetlights, billboards and posters. He found the blessed blue square he was searching for and took off towards the Los Angeles hospital.

~~~~~

Hospitals reeked worse than most any other place Angel could remember. The stench of the sick and dying, the pained and afraid, the new births and all the chemicals ensuring sterility were more than enough to sicken the vampire. Angel forced himself to accept the scents as he burst through the double doors of the late night emergency room, a bleeding Xander clutched tightly in his arms. He rushed the help desk.

"This man needs help, he's been in an accident, he's bleeding to death," Angel barked at the woman behind the desk. One look at Xander, covered in blood, and the woman jumped to her feet. She grabbed the phone and punched one of the urgent red buttons, calling a team in to the waiting room. Within minutes, a team of nurses came running through a set of doors down the hall with a gurney. They took Xander from Angel, laid him out, shoved an IV needle into his arm and they were off again, leaving Angel to stand in the waiting room, his shirt drenched in the wonderful smell of Xander's young blood. He must have appeared a little out of it, he barely noticed the woman behind the desk touch his arm sympathetically.

"Can I have you fill out a few forms for me, please? We'll need to know his information," She said. Angel nodded mutely. She turned to her desk and put a few sheets of forms onto a blue clipboard before handing it over to Angel. He took the clipboard and sat in one of the low chairs, filling out what he knew about Xander. He knew name, age, sex, height, weight, basic things, but he had no idea of medical history, insurance information or family information. He frowned as he returned the forms to the woman at the desk.

"I'm sorry, that's all I can give you," Angel said. The woman nodded.

"That's all right. Are you of any relation to Mr. Harris?" She asked. Angel hesitated. He could try to lie, but he wasn't too sure he'd get away with it, knowing it would look suspicious for him to say he was when he couldn't answer questions a family member naturally would.

"Ah...no, but I have his...brother's cell number," Angel lied. Spike had lived with Xander for a time, he might know a little bit more than he did and might be able to lie more convincingly. "May I give him a call? He's going to be worried sick about Xander." The woman smiled and gave him the go ahead. Angel excused himself.

Striding back out into the crisp night air, Angel grabbed his cell phone from his coat pocket and speed dialed Spike. After two rings, he heard the other vampire pick up.

"What, trying to gloat, you bloody ponce? I couldn't find the damn Lubidos anywhere, I went home," Spike said, his voice tinged with pout. Angel rolled his eyes.

"Spike, I, uh...I need you to come to the Los Angeles hospital. The one with the big fountain out front." Angel started. He was met with silence on the other end for a good full minute. He scowled. "Spike?"

"What are you doing at a hospital?" Spike asked. Angel could hear the younger vampire trying to sound casual, but he heard the underlying worry.

"I found the demon, Spike, it was wounded but I'm guessing not dead. There were two bodies in the alley I followed him to. He killed a girl and almost killed...someone else. His body was gone, though, so he's still skulking around somewhere," Angel swallowed. "I hate to admit this, but you know more about him than I do and I can't answer all their questions, Spike. I need you to help me out here."

"Sorry, I'm a little confused. I think you left something out. Answer who's questions? Know more about whom?" Spike asked. Angel grumbled.

"Xander. I don't know how he got here or why he's here, but Xander's been hurt. He's...he was bleeding out everywhere. His life is close to ending, Spike, I can feel it," Angel turned his head up to look at the stars strong enough to shine through the city smog. Spike was quiet for a moment.

"What are you going to do? What do you want me to do?" Spike asked softly. Angel shrugged.

"I have no idea. I don't want him to die, Spike. He's a good kid," Angel sighed. "You stayed with him a while, right? You might be able to tell the hospital things I can't."

Silence over the line told Angel that Spike was thinking. He knew the blonde vampire wouldn't want Xander to die, either. Spike had admitted a few times in the past that the boy was more fun than anyone else back in Sunnydale and he missed him on more than one ocassion. Angel admitted missing him, too. He'd gone a long time before meeting someone who could so fully fill a room. Xander had a knack of making any boring topic funny by trying to re-explain it in his own personal fashion. What had first annoyed Angel had proven to be one of the few things that could make the burdened vampire smile. That was worth saving, worth protecting, and he felt that what little humor there was in the world was slowly fading to nothing in a sterile hospital room. It might have been selfish of him to want to keep that glimmer of joy alive, but he was already damned and just couldn't bring himself to care.

"I'll be there in a tick," Spike said quickly before Angel heard the disconnecting click on the line. He closed his phone and slipped it back into his coat pocket. He slowly lowered his eyes to look at his shirt. His eyecolor wavered to gold a moment and his gameface shimmered just below the human illusion. All of that blood, all of Xander's blood, it just smelled so damn sweet. Angel squeezed his eyes shut and raised a hand to his chest, touching the drying blood caked onto his black lycra shirt. His eyes snapped open when he heard the low growl but relaxed when he realized it was all in his head. Angelus was appreciating the gore Angel had witnessed. He wanted more. Angel shook his head.

Another growl of a different kind roared in the distance. Angel lifted his head, squinting into the headlights of the slick black sports car rushing to meet the curb. Without turning off the engine, the driver's side door was kicked open and Spike lurched out, ripping the keys out of the ignition. Angel smirked at the blonde.

"Spike, we live twenty minutes from here."

"Four on a good day." Spike grinned.

~~~~~

"Mr. William Harris?" The woman at the desk called into the waiting room. Spike harrumphed but stood, shooting a glare at Angel.

"Yes, ma'am?" Spike answered, leaning up against the desk top. The woman passed a clipboard over to Spike, handing him a pen.

"I've been instructed to give you these," She said, her voice tinged in sorrow. That was never a good sign. Spike scowled down at the papers. He glared back over at Angel.

"Life support. They need to put him on life support and they need my consent," Spike said, slowly shaking his head. Angel frowned and stood, hovering behind Spike's shoulder, his eyes scanning over the pages in the blonde vampire's hands. Was Xander really that bad off? Angel knew deep down, deeper than the demon, that he already knew he was. The boy was going to die. These humans were just delaying the inevitable.

To save on explaining a few hard to explain things to a disinterested family Xander had back in Sunnydale, Spike had told the nurse he was Alexander's only living relative; an older brother looking after the younger. It worked in a pinch but both he and Angel knew they had others they would have to inform about Xander's condition. Spike was not wanting to call Sunnydale but Angel was still in moderately good standing with Giles. If no one else was told, at the least the older gentleman would be.

Spike turned to look at Angel full in the face and Angel knew the expression in those eyes. He immediately recognized what Spike wanted to do. It would be a lie if he tried to deny wanting the same thing. Angelus rumbled inside his brain, clattering against his aching skull, showing his agreement in the only way he knew how. Though the demon would more than likely never willingly admit it, Angelus didn't like the idea of losing Xander. The boy had always been so much fun to play with, gave the demon a thrill where the slayer never could. Buffy's threats were idle; she would always be just a small girl in Angelus' eyes, loathe to mar the beauty of the demonic Angel. Xander, on the other hand, would never think twice about giving as much pain as he could and taking just as much to prove he was strong enough. That kind of bravery was something the demon practically fed off of as much as blood and he'd been craving it for so long. Angel squeezed his eyes shut.

"Sign the papers, William. Put him on life support." Angel ordered gently. Spike scowled. Angel knew he wanted to argue. He glared at the younger vampire, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Spike huffed and turned back to the woman's desk, signed the papers giving his consent and handed them back. The woman accepted them and strode quickly from the room, heading down the hall to a room marked Head Nurse.

As soon as the woman was out of earshot, Spike turned on Angel, gameface flickering into view. Angel growled in response.

"Spike, don't," Angel warned. Spike bared his fangs.

"He's going to die, you bastard! Why are you dragging this out for him? You know he's going to die!" Spike seethed. "Are you doing this on purpose? I thought Angelus was roped in somewhere in that bloody skull of yours."

"Spike, I'm not trying to hurt Xander, but if these humans can save his life, we won't have to-" Angel started. Spike snorted.

"Bollocks. You know these twits can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. They can sew him up, but the whelp's lost more blood than a human can and survive. You know that, I know it. We've both drained plenty in our time. You know how much of him you're wearing? Maybe about half." Spike pointed to Angel's blood-caked shirt. Angel swallowed. He knew Spike was right.

"I don't know about you, Peaches, but I've come to believe that an eternity without laughter is a bloody boring one. And you know what? This pup is loyal. He becomes one of us and he will stay with us. And maybe after a few years of us we can teach the boy something about..." Spike mumbled the last word. He didn't even look at Angel when he'd said it. His gameface had flickered back out and his human face was now staring down at the white tile floor. Angel heard the word regardless.

Love. Spike was under the impression he and Angel could teach Xander about love. The idea confused Angel, but he remembered Spike had witnessed more of Xander than he ever allowed himself to. The thought tugged at what Angel considered his heart. Xander had always seemed so eager to please, so willing to do anything for any kind of positive feedback...so much like a very much younger William. Maybe it was the similarities between the two that made Angelus want to claim Xander so desperately. Angelus yearned for the times before, back when he had his family together. The idea of turning Xander, claiming him for the House of Aurelius, made the demon gleeful. Angel found it hard to find remorse for causing the happiness in his demon.

Angel gathered Spike in his arms and turned him to face him. He let his eyes waver into gold when he looked down at the blonde vampire. Spike's eyes mirrored the golden hue.

"Does Sweet William want a brother?" Angel purred. It shocked him to hear himself speak in such an Angelus tone, but he noticed the comfort it lent to his grandchilde. That helped him relax. He reminded himself he wasn't doing anything evil. Giving comfort to a member of his pathetically small clan was a good thing.

"Angel," Spike whispered. "I don't ask for much. I make a bloody nuisance of myself, I know, but I haven't asked you for much. Please, I want this. I don't want to lose Xander. He's too good to waste." Spike rested his forehead against Angel's shoulder.

The nurse came back at that moment, seemingly not surprised to see the two grown men holding each other in the waiting room. She sighed before coughing politely, grabbing both vampires' attentions.

"The operating surgeon wants to speak with you, Mr. Harris," She frowned. Spike could immediately smell the fear on the woman. More bad news and she didn't want to be the bearer of it. Angel gave Spike a reassuring squeeze and a terse nod. Spike stepped out of Angel's arms and turned to face the woman.

"Where do I meet with him?" He asked quietly. She pointed down the hall to the Head Nurse's room. Spike strode away, his footsteps sounding hollow reverberating off the sterile hospital walls.

~~~~~

Nothing in this bleeding hospital was warm. The black plastic chairs lining the walls of every waiting room were a stark contrast to the blank white covering every other inch of the building. Spike couldn't understand why humans did that to their houses of healing. Being stuck in a place that would make a funeral seem like a raucous party while being near death would make anyone loony. No wonder the fear of hospitals was so common.

The Nurses Station was little more than a smaller waiting room. More white tile, more black chairs, but this room had an added Formica counter lined with glass jars. Most were filled with cotton balls, gauze and popsicle sticks. Playthings of the average medical practitioner and kindergartner alike.

Bare minutes after entering the empty room, Spike was joined by a shorter black haired man in glasses. He was dressed in the distinguishable blah green scrubs all surgeons were reputed to wear. He carried a clipboard in one hand and the weight of the world on his shoulders.

"Mr. Harris?" The man asked. Spike nodded. "I'm Dr. Hawkins. I'm the head surgeon here and I operated on your younger brother, Alexander. I need to be perfectly clear with you, Mr. Harris. There were some complications with the surgery. The stomach wound was deeper than I had initially believed. His lower intestine was almost completely severed. His stomach and kidneys were punctured. I'm afraid there's no way to stop the internal bleeding at this point."

Spike knew doctors had to be blunt with people, but the sheer reality of Xander dying somewhere inside this hospital was almost enough to knock the vampire to his knees. It made him angry and scared. He hadn't even seen the damn boy before he was rushed into surgery. If Xander died before he and Angel could get to him, there would be no raising him. That wasn't acceptable.

"What are you telling me?" Spike gritted out. Dr. Hawkins cleared his throat.

"I'm afraid life support won't do your brother much good, Mr. Harris. I can't give him more than a few hours, to be honest." The surgeon shook his head. "I can allow you to go in and see him, but we're going to need to work out the funerary arrangements. Does your family have a particular mortician you prefer?"

The very idea that this doctor had already thrown in the towel pissed Spike off. Thinking he was already raring to dig the boy's grave was enough to elicit a barely suppressed growl from the blonde vampire. The doctor interpreted the sound as one of grief. He patted Spike on the shoulder.

"I am sorry, son. I know this is hard." Dr. Hawkins stated simply. Spike scowled.

"Angel and I will both need to see him before you pull the plug," Spike said. The doctor nodded. "We'll need some privacy. Angel is a certified minister and very close friend. Xander would want him to do his last rites."

"Of course, of course," The doctor patted Spike's back. He turned and walked out of the Nurses Station. Spike glared golden daggers at the retreating doctor's back. He took no time rushing out of the room and back to Angel in the main waiting room. Angel was staring at Spike wide-eyed. Spike grabbed Angel's arm and began to drag him down the hall towards the patients rooms.

"What is going on, Spike?" Angel muttered close to Spike's ear. Spike pushed Angel in the direction of Xander's smell, his death bed.

"Xander's out of time. They're going to let us have a little time with him before they shut him down. I told the head surgeon you're a minister, so try to bullshit convincingly, Father Angel. We're going to perform one hell of a last rites for dear Xander."

~~~~~

Two dark figures stood in the shadows of the small hospital room. It stunk of blood, death and the loss of hope. Xander's pale body lay stretched out on a metal gurney, cushioned by only a thin nylon mattress. Spike slowly approached the unmoving form, one hand ghosting the whisper of a caress over the unearthly chilly flesh of Xander's cheek. Angel peeked out through the blinds covering the one window; sunrise was still an hour or so away. This had to be fast if they were going to escape the hospital with a newborn fledge.

Turning his sights on Xander, Angel stepped away from the window and towards the unconscious young man. Thoughts flooded the Master Vampire's mind but few were enough to make him second guess this decision. He was afraid that Xander would be different, that he would succumb to his demon and lose himself completely. Angel hoped Xander was enough like William that he would initially keep enough of his humanity to keep him the way he was in life. Dear sweet William had kept enough of himself, but only for so long. Angelus saw to it to strip that from the young vampire quickly and Spike never looked back. Angel often did.

Though Angelus was still hidden away inside Angel's mind, the Master Vampire looked the part tonight. He wasn't one to toy with the idea of childer lightly. He raised himself to his full height and stared down at Xander's prone body. No, he didn't toy with the idea of making a childe. Creating a fledge was a responsibility to him, not a game, as it was with too many of his kind. Xander was worth this and it was so very important to Spike. Perhaps it was Angelus' influence, but Angel suddenly felt he wanted to give whatever he could to Spike, to William, to please him. He wanted his grandchilde to be happy.

Leaning down over Xander, Angel nuzzled the cool, pale skin of the teenager's throat. Time was of the essence and there was precious little left. Angelus would have enjoyed prolonging the turning, but Angel couldn't risk idleness. He was only given so much time with Xander before the hospital staff would come and take the lifeless body away.

Bone white fangs pierced ghostly ivory flesh. Angel's gameface pulsed into appearance and he let loose a guttural, primal growl that might have been more Angelus than himself. The usual gush of warm blood was significantly lessened, giving only a few small spurts. Angel worried about taking what little blood Xander had left, but this was integral for the turning. He had to taste his childe's blood for the bond to be set. He took only enough for him to be satisfied that he would know the taste of his new childe before pulling away. It took more strength than he knew he had to pull away from the delicious taste of human, but the idea of losing the boy was enough to move him. He wasted no time ripping into his own wrist and pushed it up against Xander's slack lips.

Spike came to his grandsire's side and tilted Xander's head back on his pillow, allowing the blood of Aurelius to fall easier down the dying human's throat. He used one hand to massage Xander's neck, urging his swallowing reflexes to work. It wouldn't take much for the turning to work, but the boy needed to have enough of his sire's blood in him for it to have any effect. He could feel Xander swallow and he shot a look at Angel.

After lifelong minutes passed with Xander unknowingly swallowing his fate, Angel pulled his wrist away. The young man should have enough blood in him now to turn within the hour, if that. Angel glanced up at the window again. It was still dark.

"We have to get him out of here," Spike gushed. Angel nodded and gathered Xander in his arms. Spike unhooked Xander from the machines, tossing the useless cords onto the gurney.

"Get the car," Angel ordered. Spike nodded once and disappeared out of the room and down the hallway. Angel watched Spike leave and frowned. He couldn't take Xander out of the hospital through the front door. Everyone knew Xander was dying, and from the paling flutter of a barely there heartbeat, he was practically gone already.

Turning to the window, Angel slung Xander over one shoulder and pulled the blinds upwards. There was an awkward side latch halfway up the wall length window, but Angel figured out how to unlatch it and pushed the glass outwards. Looking down, he gauged there was about a thirty feet drop, at least, to the ground. Gripping Xander tightly in his arms, he barely hesitated as he threw himself out of the window. The landing wasn't one of his best, only nearly missing a row of rosebushes.

Squealing tires signaled the getaway car had arrived. Angel threw open the passenger side door and slid inside. He positioned Xander in his lap so his head laid against Angel's shoulder before he slammed the door shut and he and Spike roared off towards home.

Spike threw a sideways glance at Angel and Xander as he manuevered the car through the abandoned streets of Los Angeles. Angel was petting Xander's neck, shoulders, paying particular attention to the boy's curly hair. Spike could sense a change in Angel's demeanor. The Master Vampire seemed to be a little lost in his own world.

"Is he...?" Spike asked. Angel nodded slowly.

"He's dead."

~~~~~

Rosy glimmers of light began to rise on the horizon just as Spike and Angel entered through the front door of the mansion. Angel had not let go of Xander the entire car ride home, which was thankfully not the incredible four minute dash Spike had made earlier that evening. The cool, dark interior of the large manor was welcoming to the vampires and they felt instantly at home inside.

Angel did not stop to check his voice messages. He did not stop at the kitchen to heat any packets of blood. He carried Xander upstairs to his own room. He gently undressed him and laid him on the chilly black satin sheets of his bed. Spike had followed hesitantly behind, watching.

Xander's deathly white body was so stark and blinding against Angel's sheets. Angel motioned for Spike to join him. He and the blonde vampire sat on opposite edges of the large four poster bed, looking at Xander, not speaking a word to the other.

The silence was maddening. There was so much Angel had going through his mind but all Angelus could focus on was the beautiful new childe lying in his bed. He knew there were still unanswered questions that would come to bite him in the ass. Why was Xander in Los Angeles, to begin with. Where was Giles? Buffy? Willow? Why was he here alone? Angel shook his head and grunted, crossing his arms over his chest. He scowled and looked down, realizing he was still wearing Xander's blood.

Standing, Angel shrugged out of his leather coat and tossed it over the back of a large, plush armchair. He quickly stripped out of his skintight black lycra shirt and threw it into a laundry hamper. Spike blinked up at Angel, questioning.

"What's wrong?" Spike asked. Angel pursed his lips.

"How am I supposed to explain all of this to Buffy? To Xander's friends, his family? I have no idea why he was here in the first place. Aside from that, we don't know where that damn Lubidos Demon ran off to." Angel grumbled. Spike shrugged.

"We can call the old wrinkled Watcher and tell him what happened. As for his family, what family? The bastards that raised him as a human? They didn't give a shite about him. We are his family now." Spike's eyes flickered gold. "The Lubidos we can look for later. We've got more important matters at hand." He turned his head to look back down at Xander.

Some small hint of color had shown up in Xander's cheeks. His pale lips were parted and just the slightest hint of fang glinted with saliva. Spike turned his eyes to Angel and smiled.

"He's going to be hungry," Spike said and stood. Angel watched him leave, fully aware of what he was after. He was about to remind Spike that Xander would need the human blood packets from the emergency drawer in the refrigerator but stopped himself. Spike would know what to do.

Drawn to the slowly waking form of his new childe, Angel slunk closer to his bed, his eyes alert for any movement from Xander. The new fledge barely turned his head, peeking open one sleepy chocolate eye at him. Xander visibly swallowed and gave a slight whimper.

"My...head..." He rasped. Angel was at his side faster than he could blink. One moment seeing him across the room, the next up close and personal. It was enough to make Xander dizzy. He groaned and tried to sit up. His brows furrowed in consternation when he realized he couldn't accomplish that. "Ugh...m'I dead?"

"In a manner of speaking," Angel started. Xander blinked his eyes a few times, frowning. Angel crawled up into his bed and wrapped his arms around Xander, turning the young vampire into his embrace. Whether Xander realized what he was doing or not, he relaxed into his sire's arms.

When the bedroom door creaked open, Angel was quick to tighten his grip on Xander, relaxing only when he realized it was just Spike coming in with an aluminum carafe and a few mugs. Spike smirked at the pair on the bed, setting the mugs on the nightstand closest to Angel.

"You two look cozy," Spike sat, looking down at Xander. "Something to drink?" He picked up one of the mugs and tipped the carafe, pouring a thick, hot, red liquid into it. With more energy than he thought he had, Xander grabbed the mug from Spike and downed the contents in mere seconds. Without needing to ask, Spike was already handing him a second mug and taking the first. Xander gulped the second, third and fourth mugs with barely a moment's hesitation between any of them.

"Easy, Xander," Angel murmured, petting the lanky fledge's back. Xander nodded wordlessly as he finished his fifth mug.

"I don't know what that is, but it's delicious," Xander gushed. Angel nodded, playing his fingers through Xander's curls. Before accepting a sixth cup, Xander stopped and sat up straight, pushing himself away from Angel's arms. "Uh...do I want to know what it is? I mean, I'm pretty sure that isn't Swiss Miss."

"Oh, you never know, it could have been," Spike barked a laugh. Xander jumped and looked at the blonde vampire incredulously. He glanced down into the mug he had just gulped and swallowed hard. The red staining the bottom of the cup made his stomach flip. A hand flew up to cover his mouth as he scrambled out of Angel's bed, landing with a hard thump on the floor.

On very wobbly legs, Xander forced himself up off the floor and made a mad dash for the door. Spike was there before his fingers could brush the knob, wrapping him in his arms and holding him fast. Xander was shaking uncontrollably.

"Calm down, boy," Spike soothed, nuzzling Xander's cheek. "You're okay now, Xander. Calm down." Xander shook his head and struggled in Spike's embrace. Spike just held on tighter.

Slowly, Angel got up out of his bed and walked over to his childer. He gripped Xander's chin in his hand and forced him to look into his golden eyes. Xander's fear filled eyes flickered gold of their own accord.

"What did you do to me?" Xander asked in a choked whisper. Angel frowned. Angelus growled in the back of his mind. The Master Vampire had expected Xander to accept the gift of immortality graciously but Angel knew Xander a bit better than that. The boy had learned to hate vampires, to hunt them, to kill them on sight and now he found himself one of the evil demons he had worked so hard in life to destroy. It was going to take a little time to adjust.

Angelus didn't want to wait. He wanted Xander to accept his place in the eminent line of Aurelius now and he was willing to break the boy to ensure that. Angel wanted to avoid that path at all costs. So far it looked like Xander's demon was either cohabiting with the remains of Xander's soul, as it had appeared with William upon his own turning, or he's so similar to the original Xander that there seemed to be little difference between his old human self and this new immortal devil.

Angel's grip on Xander's chin tightened and he knew it was Angelus' rage coming through. Centuries ago Angelus would have made Xander submit to him and he would have enjoyed it immensely. Even now he could feel arousal stirring within him, looking down into those frightened golden orbs. If Angelus were in control, Xander would already be back on the bed, screaming as the Master Vampire tore into him. Angel shook his head, trying to clear the images from his mind.

Cool fingers gently touched Angel's bare shoulder, jarring him from his inner battle. Spike could sense Angelus so close to the surface and frowned. Angel saw Spike's other hand clutch Xander closer to him. He was letting the older vampire know he wouldn't let Angelus harm Xander if he could help it. Angelus roared with laughter inside Angel's mind. Angel closed his eyes and turned his face away from Xander's. Looking into that innocent face was just tempting his demon.

"Xander, you..." Angel licked his lips. "It couldn't be helped. I found you dying in a back alley. Neither Spike nor I liked the idea of losing you, so..." Xander's golden eyes widened.

"I'm...dead, aren't I. I'm dead," Xander keened, turning his large golden eyes to Spike. "Oh, god, I am so, so dead." Spike could feel Xander's knees buckling. He lifted the younger vampire easily into his arms and held him. Xander gripped onto Spike tightly, his eyes ever widening. "I'm not supposed to be dead. I was supposed to be rejected for a college application and fail in a dozen relationships and open a cheap mechanics shop somewhere in Sunnydale to eke out a pathetic existence! I haven't had the chance to barely pass high school! God, I'm too young to be dead!" Xander babbled. Angel grit his teeth and reached out a shaky hand. He gently touched Xander's curls, petting the panicked childe, resisting the urge to smack him.

"Xander, shh," Spike commanded. The dark haired teenage vampire surprisingly complied. "You can be such a pillock at times." The blonde shook his head and walked past Angel, dropping Xander back onto the large satin covered bed. Xander's chest was heaving with unnecessary breaths. His fingers crawled up his bare chest, splaying over his pale skin.

"I don't have a heartbeat," Xander whispered. "No heartbeat. My blood isn't pumping, how am I talking? I can't be talking, I'm dead." The boy started shaking again. Spike grimaced. Neither he nor Angel, let alone Angelus, had done anything to the whelp and he was already going crackers. He hoped he was not looking down at another Dru in the making.

Spike knelt down next to the bed, reaching out a hand to stroke Xander's shuddering shoulder. That seemed to calm the newly turned vampire, at least enough to still the shaking. Angel watched and frowned. He hadn't planned for Xander's mental meltdown. Perhaps expected it, but had not planned for it. All he'd wanted to do was keep the boy from slipping into oblivion.

"Xander," Angel spoke clearly. Xander's eyes seemed to be staring off into nothing. Angel scowled. "Xander, Childe, listen to me." Something in Xander clicked and his golden eyes snapped up to meet Angel's. "Why did you come to L.A., Xander?"

Mink brown brows knit in thought. Xander lowered his eyes. Angel could see his childe searching through hazy memories of a life that had ended only a short time ago. Xander bit his bottom lip.

"Buffy..." Xander started, his breath hitching. "She was getting moody and she was losing her patience with me. Giles figured I was a bad distraction and gave me enough cash to spend the weekend out here. He figured it would be enough time for Buffy to calm down a bit, so I could come back and we'd be friends again." Xander's hands clenched into fists, bunching the sheet beneath him. A sudden sob issued from him, his expression terror struck.

"I can't...I can't go home, can I? Buffy will stake me," Xander was hyperventilating. "Giles is going to hate me, Wills is going to hate me, Buffy's going to want to dust me. I am so dead."

Angel shot a look at Spike. Spike didn't need the silent order. He was already kicking off his boots and jumping into bed with Xander, covering the boy with his leather and black denim clad body. When the close proximity of male to him wasn't enough to jar Xander out of his daymare, Spike knew the boy was too far gone in his fear. He pushed Xander down into the bed and nipped his shoulder. All Xander did was turn his head away to allow Spike better access.

The sight of submission was almost too much for Angel. He wanted to be right there with his childer but he knew there was something he was going to have to take care of right now, before too much time could lapse. Xander was only supposed to be out of Sunnydale for the weekend and this was the morning of Sunday. Giles would be expecting Xander back by tomorrow. Angel had some bad news for the older Watcher.

Though he was loathe to leave the room, wanting nothing more than to watch what Spike had in mind for Xander and then take over completely, Angel forced himself to turn and walk out into the dark hallway. Creeping into the windowless office just down the hall, Angel was quick to grab his Rolodex and pick up the receiver of his old fashioned rotary phone. He took one deep, pointless breath before punching in Sunnydale's area code.

~~~~~

"Who the bloody hell..." Giles thought to himself, stumbling out of his bedroom into the hallway to pick up his ringing telephone. It was very early Sunday morning, who would be calling at this time of day? Whoever it was better have a damn good excuse or they were in for the tongue lashing of their existence.

"Hello? Who is this?" Giles answered the call, hiding a yawn behind his hand.

"Rupert?" Angel asked. Giles blinked, surprised. Why on Earth would Angel be calling him so early in the morning? Shouldn't the vampire be sleeping by now? Frowning, Giles cleared his throat.

"Angel, really, do you have any idea what time it is?" The old Watcher sighed, slumping into his favorite armchair in his living room. There was a disbelieving scoff on the other end of the phone. Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. He was tired and not really wanting to waste time with the petulant undead.

"Is there something you needed this early, Angel? I do apologize but I was up late last night, Buffy went on a rampage after a few vampires tried to attack her on her date," Giles muttered.

Angel pursed his lips and shook his head. A small part of him would always be annoyed with the fact that Slayers had to be female, and usually always came into their abilities in their teen years. Female teenagers weren't the most reliable of people and most definitely not the most mature. Buffy would always be the little girl who cared more about her personal life than the well being of the general populace. He pushed away his annoyance, there was something far more important he needed to talk to Giles about.

"Rupert, it's about Xander," Angel started. "He met with a bit of trouble out here." Angel turned his head, seeking the sound of his grandchilde and new childe just down the hall. His heart sank at the sounds of Xander mewling weakly. Xander was deeply upset and Angel hated not having the boy in his arms.

"What? What happened?" Giles asked with a hint of concern in his voice. Angel grimaced.

"He was attacked by a demon Spike and I had been chasing. He...he didn't make it, Rupert. I had no choice, I had to..." Angel's voice seemed to run from him. He heard Giles gasp on the other end of the line.

"Had to...what? God, Angel, don't tell me you turned the poor boy," Giles stated flatly. There was no hope in the old Watcher's voice. Angel could tell Giles already knew the truth.

"There weren't any other options. He was dying in a back alley, Giles. He had been torn open, blood everywhere. I took him to a hospital but they couldn't do much but sew him back up. He lost way too much blood. He was going to die, Rupert, I didn't want him to die."

Silence stretched the minutes to feel like hours before Giles spoke again. Angel heard the man sigh and mused the old Watcher had probably removed his glasses for an unnecessary cleaning.

"You know this won't go over well with Buffy or Willow. Angel, regardless to your feelings otherwise, Xander is now dead." Giles ran a hand over his brow. Angel frowned.

"In a manner of speaking he is. He still seems to be Xander, Rupert. I don't know if he's just too weak right now for his demon to make much of an appearance or if his demon ended up being just like he was in life. As soon as he was strong enough to speak he voiced concern about you, Buffy and Willow hating him," Angel heard Giles click his tongue in the background. "I don't know what to do, Rupert, but I do know that Xander is now a part of my family. I have Spike and I have Xander and I don't want him to return to Sunnydale. He needs to be properly educated and he needs his family now."

Giles wasn't sure what to say to Angel. He wanted to tell him that Xander had to come back but upon thinking over that statement he wasn't sure he wanted to make it. Xander wasn't and would never be happy in Sunnydale. Giles wasn't sure if Xander would be happy with Angel and Spike, considering his less than favorable attitude towards vampires, he assumed he wouldn't be but now...now that the boy was a vampire it was very likely his mind would change.

Pinching the bridge of his nose again, Giles glanced at the clock and groaned. It was far too early for such a melancholy topic of discussion, though he doubted even a good strong cup of tea would help with this.

"Angel, I thank you for letting me know the current situation but I think making a decision right now would be rash. Buffy's been distracted enough with her duties and this new paramour, she won't notice if Xander doesn't return for a little while longer," Giles stifled a yawn with the back of his hand. "Help Xander regain some strength and then discuss this with him. Even if he is nothing but a fledge at this point, if he still retains even a shred of whom he was, I believe he should have a say in his future. Do let him know that if he does decide to return, I will try to keep Buffy from harming him." Angel's lip twitched in a small smile.

"I'll let him know that, Rupert. Thank you." Angel said, eager to return to his room. Giles nodded on the other end of the line.

"Call me back when Xander's made his decision. Don't do it at five in the ruddy morning, though." With that, Giles hung up his receiver and wandered into his kitchen to put the kettle on to boil.

Laying his own receiver back onto the cradle gently, Angel stood and left his office, heading back towards his room. Upon opening his door he saw a vision that warmed his heart. Spike lay there, no longer on top of Xander but to one side, cradling the new childe close to his chest, humming a soft old song. Xander appeared to be far more relaxed now, no longer panicking. Angel toed off his shoes and socks, now clad in nothing more than his slacks from the night before, and joined his family in bed. Xander barely twitched when Angel wrapped his arms around his waist. Spike turned golden eyes up into Angel's amber gaze.

"He'll be all right," Angel purred quietly. Spike looked down at Xander. Xander's eyes were closed, apparently in sleep. Spike smiled.

"Yeah. 'Think so, too."