Life is Change

BY : trudyw
Category: BtVS Crossovers > Misc - Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 8079
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sentinel, I make no money from the writing of this story.

Life Is Change

As Spike strolled home through the graveyard in the small hours of the morning he mused on the preceding nights activities. He was worried about Xander, and more worried that no-one else seemed to have noticed anything wrong. The boy appeared to be wasting away before their very eyes, and none of his friends could see anything amiss! Boy, no, not a boy any more, a man, and Jesus Christ, when had that happened? Spike was suddenly pulled from his thoughts by the sight of a group of gorkhan demons ahead, three of them, circling a form huddled at the base of a gravestone.

The gorkhan demons stood about four feet tall, lizard like with blue scales on the head, hands, feet and tail, darkening to black at elbows and knees and over the rest of the body. A crest ran over the head of the group leader, from between the eyes and down to the base of the thick tail, fingers and toes were tipped with long, sharp claws, yet despite the ferocious appearance these demons were carrion eaters and dared not attack the huddled form at the base of the gravestone while it still showed some signs of life.

At first Spike felt very little interest in the small demons, as carrion eaters they posed no threat to the human residents of Sunnydale, and wouldn't even provide a decent workout for a master vampire of Spikes age and ability. Then a stray breeze brought a scent from the shape on the ground, blood, human blood, Xander's blood!

Even as the scent registered on his senses Spike was already moving, vaulting a gravestone he twisted through the air to land in a battle stance between Xander and the demons. The shocked gorkhan demons reared back at the sudden appearance of a very angry master vampire in their midst, then cowering back they slunk off through the cemetery, disappearing swiftly into the darkness.

When he was sure the demons were leaving Spike turned quickly to check on Xander. He was confused by the boys condition, although he could smell blood there was not sufficient to indicate a serious wound, and his heart rate was strong but fast. Xander was certainly conscious, but he had not moved at all since Spike had first noticed him, he was still huddled against the base of a gravestone. As Spike examined him closer he realized he was shaking and moaning as he lay there trying to cover both his eyes and his ears at the same time.

Unsure of the wisdom of touching the boy before he knew more about the situation, Spike knelt beside Xander and spoke his name in the gentle reassuring tone he had used with Dru in her madder moments. Xander flinched at the sound of the soft voice, but then seemed to relax slightly so Spike spoke again, "Xander, can you hear me pet?" Slowly Xanders shaking eased and he relaxed slightly from his huddled position, warily he uncovered his eyes and ears and peered at Spike crouching in front of him.

"Spike" the name was spoken in a voice little more than a whisper.

"Yes, it's me, do you think you can stand?" as Spike reached out to help the still slightly shaky figure to his feet.

Once on his feet Xander stood there trembling as if unsure what he should do now. Gently Spike took his elbow and started guiding him towards the crypt that Spike called home, "C'mon, there's no way you can make it to your apartment in this state," slowly the pair made their way between the gravestones back to the crypt, once inside Spike helped Xander down the steps to the lower floor. Using his lighter Spike quickly lit the candles spaced around the chamber before turning back to his guest. Xander still stood at the base of the ladder, although it looked as though it wouldn't take more than a strong breeze to knock him off his feet.

"Here" Spike carefully maneuvered the unusually docile Xander towards the bed. Sitting him on the edge of it Spike quickly removed Xander's shoes, socks and his dew dampened outer clothes before helping him into the bed in just his boxers and a T-shirt. As soon as he was settled into the large bed Xander was asleep, the heavy sleep of complete mental and physical exhaustion.

Shedding his duster Spike sprawled in his armchair facing the bed and watched Xander sleep. He thought back over the previous night. It had started off the same as always with everyone meeting at the Magic Box, things had been quiet for a while but no one was getting complaisant, that could change at the drop of a hat. Giles had kept the witches with him to research something he'd found in one of his books. Buffy, Spike and Xander went out patrolling.

They encountered a few fledges as they patrolled the streets and graveyards of downtown Sunnydale, even Xander acquitted himself well enough, staking the two fledges that managed to get past Buffy and Spike. All in all a normal night in Sunnydale, but the atmosphere between the three was somewhat strained, although none of them would outwardly acknowledge the fact. It was as they walked back into the Magic Box that everything began to go pear-shaped.

"So Xander, how's work going?" asked Buffy, trying to get past the tension she'd felt in the air all evening.

Xander stopped just inside the door and stared at her in disbelief, "Work, you want to know how work is going? Do you know what they call people who don't show up for work for three weeks? Do you? They call them UNEMPLOYED!"

"They fired you! That is so not fair, I mean you have a really good reason for that."

"Oh yes, I have an excellent reason, and I can just see myself explaining to the foreman that I was kidnapped by Xeljax demons."

"Oh!" stammered Buffy, flushing to the roots of her hair.

"Xander please, I don't think you are being quite fair about this," interjected Giles, "after all Buffy did ring your employer to explain your absence. What excuse was it you used, Buffy?"

"Well, I was torn, you see? between an out of state funeral, but I couldn't remember how many grandmothers you had buried this year," Buffy began to babble, "or a broken leg skiing, so you were stuck in a hospital at Lake Tahoe, but then..." she slowly tailed off.

"You forgot, didn't you?" the watcher sounded resigned as he took off his glasses and started to polish the lenses.

"Not so much forgot exactly as.." Buffy desperately searched her mind for some more positive spin to put on it, "yes, I forgot. I'm so sorry Xander." Unfortunately she came up with nothing.

"Xander, I'm so sorry, I should have checked to ensure this had been dealt with, is there anything I can do to help, ring your employer perhaps?" offered Giles.

"Thanks Giles, but there's no point. I spoke to them, over a week ago, it's way too late for excuses," replied a weary Xander. "I'm just gonna get off home now, OK."

"Xander, wait!" Buffy moved to stop him but a hand on her arm held her back.

"Let 'im go, give 'im some time, eh slayer" Buffy shook off Spike's hand, but before she could chase Xander out the door Giles stepped in front of her.

"Much as I hate to admit it, Spike is right, Xander needs some time to get past this. He enjoyed that job, and he was good at it, and now.." the watchers words trailed off.

"I ruined it for him, I know that, you think I don't know that, I need to know he forgives me, I just need..."

"That's the problem slayer, it's all about what you need, what about what he needs." Spike interrupted Buffy’s rant harshly.

Willow chimed in quickly, before Buffy and Spike could come to blows, "Buffy, just give him time, he'll forgive you, you know he will. He just needs some time to be mad at you first. Just a little time, you know Xander, he can't stay mad for long."

"I know, it's just... you're right of course... but... will he get home alright, he's pretty steamed."

"He'll be fine, he's survived a lot of years on the hellmouth, besides, he has his car and he won't be outside more than a few seconds at either end of the trip." Giles reassured his slayer, and with that everyone drifted off, Buffy to work out in the back room, Willow and Tara to help research the latest doom laden prophesy, and Spike to assist Giles with some translation work.

Spike had become so engrossed in the intricacies of the translation that Giles had to remind him of the approaching dawn. "Spike, not that I wouldn't be happy to house you during daylight hours, but you do tend to have an unfortunate effect on the customer base." Giles voice broke in gently upon the vampires concentration. "What?" and then looking at the time, "bleedin' 'ell, I'm out of 'ere." and with a dark and menacing, and in no way pouffy, whirl of his duster the vampire was gone.

So what had happened between then and now, why wasn't Xander at home, tucked up in his own bed, instead of hogging Spikes!

Guess I'll find out soon enough when he wakes up, mused Spike as he settled himself to sleep away the day sprawled in the old armchair. The chamber was quiet then, the only sound, gentle breathing coming from the bed, as Xander slept under the guttering light of the candles, until even that light died and complete darkness descended.

"NO! Please no, not again!" Spike was pulled out of a deep sleep by the terrified screams of the boy on the bed. He vaulted to his feet, landing in a defensive stance as he scanned the room to see what had scared Xander so badly. Only when he was sure that no enemy had invaded his lair did he look to the bed. Xander was huddled against the headboard, sheets pulled up tight against himself, starring wildly around the room with unseeing eyes.

It was then that Spike realized he had been woken by Xander's reaction to a nightmare, and it looked as though the boy was still deep in the grip of whatever it was that terrorized his sleeping mind.

Swiftly Spike moved to re-light the candles that were the sole source of illumination in the underground crypt. As the darkness retreated, so did Xanders fear, his heartbeat slowing to a more normal speed as his surroundings became visible once more.

Having completed his task Spike moved towards the shivering figure on the bed, ensuring he was in full view, and making no sudden moves, in just the same way he might approach a wounded animal. As that thought occurred to him, he realized just how apt it was. The terror of the nightmare and the happenings of the previous evening seemed to have suspended all Xander's higher brain functions.

"Xander?" Spike spoke softly to the terrified young man.

Slowly Xander's eyes stopped darting around the room, the fear in them began to recede as they rested on Spike's motionless form. "Spike" his voice shook, but he seemed to draw strength from the sound nonetheless.

"Yes luv, you alright?" Spike kept his tone soft and his body language unthreatening as he asked the question.

"It was dark" stated Xander quietly.

"Yes luv, it was. Sorry about that, I dozed off and the candles burnt out"

"Oh, why am I here?" Xander asked, his tone now much calmer, sounding weary as the adrenaline rush of fear ebbed away.

"Do you remember last night at all?" Spike asked in reply. Xander's gaze turned inwards at that as he began to hunt through the memories of the previous evening.

"I fought with Buffy?"

"You certainly did"

"Then I walked out on them" Xander looked up then, some element of fear beginning to show again in his eyes, but Spike quashed that sharply.

"No one blames you for that, you'll be welcomed back with open arms" Spike's words reassuring to Xander in spite of the snark and venom that had characterized their relationship up until Xander's kidnapping over a month before. Thinking back over the days since Xander had been rescued, Spike realized just how much the boy had changed from when they first met six years before.

"OK" Xander accepted the reassurance without question. "I was driving home, but everything got too bright, too loud. I couldn't see, I couldn't think, I had to get out of the car. I think I tripped, but I don't know, it's all a blur, what's happening to me." The last was a wailing cry, a plea for understanding, that shook Spike to his very core.

"Ssshhhhh pet" Spike crooned, reaching out instinctively to reassure the frightened boy in his bed unsure how his gesture would be received. His fears where quickly allayed as Xander allowed the vampire to settle him back under the covers and as Spike whispered, "Sssshhh, sleep now, we'll sort it all out in the morning" Xander drifted back off to sleep, calmed by the gentle hand rubbing circles over his back.

As Spike watched Xander sleep he thought back over the events that had set off this whole mess, to a time a little over a month ago when the scoobies were stumped, trying to investigate several disappearances, people going missing a week after the full moon, showing up three weeks later, dead, emaciated and dehydrated with hands, knees and elbows scratched and grazed, as though they had tried to claw their way to freedom, but with no other injuries, nothing to indicate how they had died. And then Xander went missing, seven days after the full moon and the countdown began. In the seven months since the pattern had begun they had found no leads, learned nothing, and now they had 3 weeks, just 21 days to find Xander, it had to be enough, but how could it. The team went in a heart beat from determined but disheartened, to frantic, now it was one of their own in jeopardy, now it was Xander, the race was on.

Giles and the witches studied everything they could get their hands on, trying to find some clue, anything that would lead them to Xander in time, often working late into the night before falling asleep over the books for a couple of hours, only to wake and study some more. Meanwhile Buffy and Spike scoured the town, every source of information was interrogated again and again, Spike had to pull Buffy off of Willy the Snitch before she killed him after he made some very unwise comment about how she had lost her donut boy.

During the day, when Spike couldn't help out above ground he searched below the streets of Sunnydale. The wounds on the victims hands, arms and legs had led them early on to the belief that they were being held underground, but they had still been able to turn up nothing to show where, or who has holding them. So now Spike upped the search, vampires normally keep a fairly normal, if nocturnal schedule, sleeping for six or eight hours during the daylight hours, but they don't have to, if necessary a vampire can go on for a surprising length of time without sleep, and Spike was determined to push that ability to its limit to find Xander. Strange, Xander might be an annoying pest and a demon-magnet, but when it came down to it, it never occurred to Spike to do anything but go all out to find him, in time and in one piece. And so he searched, every minute not spent with Buffy shaking down the lowest of the lowlifes of Sunnydale looking for clues, was spent underground searching the sewers, caves and tunnel systems that riddled the rock beneath the town.

As they entered the eighteenth day desperation gripped the hearts and minds of all the scoobies, in three days it would be the full moon, in three days Xander would die! When finally they caught a break, at 7am Giles was pulled out of a fitful sleep by the ringing of the telephone, it was Angel, with a distraught seer yelling and sobbing in the background "What have you done with him, where's Xander!" the seers voice faded as Angel moved away leaving Fred and Wesley to quiet Cordelia. "Angel, was that Cordelia, has she had a vision, Does she know where Xander is?" Giles almost yelled the last into the telephone, his voice pulling Willow and Tara to full wakefulness. The voice on the phone was now drowned out by the clamor of all the scoobies demanding information.

"QUIET!" Giles roared out cutting through the noise like a knife, "Buffy, get cleaned up, you've been out all night" to the slayer who had come in partway through the phone conversation, catching only the end of Giles' frantic questions. "You two, get some breakfast ready, we all need to eat before we can act on any information Cordelia may have for us" to the two witches, and to Dawn "Get ready for school, the last thing we need is Social Services investigating your attendance, or lack thereof." When the women surrounding him looked mutinous Giles' voice roared out once more "NOW!" and they scurried to obey the Ripper-like tone of that single word.

Giles turned back to the telephone and in a more moderate tone asked "Angel, I'm terribly sorry, things are in rather a mess here at the moment, we're all very concerned about Xander, do I understand that Cordelia has had a vision involving him?"

"Giles, what is going on down there, yes Cordy has had a vision about Xander, she saw him held somewhere dark, cold, silent then she saw him being dragged out onto a mountain top and tied to an altar beneath the full moon, he was surrounded by demons kneeling in a circle, praying it seemed, while he screamed and writhed, fighting to get free, then he gave a final scream and his body arched up above the rock held down only by his tied hands and feet and beams of light shot from him to the waiting demons, and that was it. His body dropped back to the rock dead!, what is going on?" Angel recounted the details, his voice getting harsher as he reached the culmination of the seers vision.

"A mountain-top altar above Sunnydale, we'll find it, we'll find him, thank you Angel, thank Cordelia for me, and you'll let me know if she remembers anymore details of course.." Giles rambled on about to hang up the phone when Angels sharp tones stopped him.

"Giles wait, Wesley is here, he needs to speak to you"

"Giles" Wesley’s voice came down the line as he took the received from Angel "are you still there?"

"Yes, yes I'm still here, sorry babbling as bad as the children, haven't been getting much sleep you know" Giles tailed off as he listened to what Wesley had to say.

“I've been trying to calm Cordy down, get some more details from her, from what I can tell it sounds like Xeljax demons, they appear to have returned to the ancient ways of feeding. They must be young and rogue, the elders would never allow it, they know it will only draw down the wrath of the slayer, or the watchers council, or even the local vampires who feel that they are poaching on vampiric feeding grounds." Wesley relayed all the information he had got from Cordelia, and what he could find immediately in the weighty tome he had ripped from the bookshelves in his haste to pass on as much information as possible. "They live underground and are extremely skilled at hiding their homes with glamours, you are unlikely to find Xander while they remain hidden, however above ground they are vulnerable, find that altar and get there first. Below ground they are almost invulnerable, drawing strength from the earth around them, and especially if they have been feeding on human life force, but above ground, just prior to feeding, they will be at their weakest." Wesley closed the book before speaking again "find him, rescue him and then call us and let us know exactly what has been happening, I have one extremely irate vampire and a furious seer here and they need answers, call us!"

Giles listened closely to every word, eager now that they finally had something to go on, and then spoke up as Wesley finished, "Yes, thank you Wesley, thank all of you, we'll keep you advised, thank you" and then he slowly hung up the receiver, looking up into the circle of eagerly waiting faces he told them all that he had been told.

"Garvens Point, it has to be" the group spun round in surprise, none of them had been aware of Spike as he slipped quietly into the room and heard the end of Giles' discourse.

"Garvens Point, never heard of it" but Buffy’s voice lacked her usual snark when speaking to the chipped vampire, everyone had been shocked by the intensity with which Spike had approached the search for Xander, an intensity which had left him looking pale, even for a vampire, and faded as if he was wasting away before their very eyes.

"It's a place of ancient magic up in the mountains above Sunnydale, I doubt many even remember the old names now, Dru and I did a lot of research before we first came here, needed to be sure we could use the ancient powers to restore Dru didn't we. I'll take you up there tonight, we can check it out, see if we can see signs that the altar is back in use."

"Thank you Spike" Giles replied quickly determined to keep things civilized, he could see Buffy was ready to demand that Spike take her there now, despite the impossibility of Spike taking a trip up into the mountains in broad daylight.

And so it was that three days later found the scoobies camped out on Mount Sunnydale, waiting in ambush as the demons brought Xander to the surface, restraining themselves with great difficulty until Xander was well clear of the entrance to the caves before they attacked in force. The witches stood high on a rocky ledge casting a protective sphere around Xander who had fallen to his knees as the shocked Xeljax demons released him and reacted to the attack, meanwhile Buffy, Spike and Giles all attacked the demons with a ferocity renewed by 2 days solid sleep for the vampire and actual sleep in an actual bed for the humans. In no time at all the demons where history, their bodies littering the mountainside, and the triumphant scoobies scooped Xander up, and carried him off the mountain and back to the Magic Box.

As Spike sat on the bed, hand stilled now against Xanders back he heard the sound of running feet in the graveyard above his head, listening harder he recognized the footsteps, Buffy! With vampiric speed he was off the bed and up the ladder to his crypt, stepping off the ladder as the slayer burst through the doors, "Xanders gone, he's missing, he never got home last night" the slayer panted, breathless from the run and the anxiety.

"Sssshhh" Spike hushed sharply, his finger to his lips, "he's down stairs sleeping."

"Oh, thank God!" Buffy felt immediate relief, quickly followed by confusion.

"In your bed? What's going on?"

"Get your mind out of the gutter girl!" Spike exclaimed indignant, "I found him in the graveyard last night, he'd had to get out of the car, he said everything was too loud, too bright, I found him huddled against a gravestone, he must have tripped and hit his head. He's fine" he interjected quickly grapping Buffy’s arm as she moved towards the trapdoor, "he's sleeping, leave him be. I'll bring him to the Magic Box tonight for a research party, I get the feeling this wasn't the first time he's had problems since we got him back."

"You're sure he's alright" Buffy asked, concern for her friend evident in her clear blue eyes.

"He's fine, just needs some rest, I'll look out for him. Look, do us a favour, I've no human food in the place, get 'im something, he's bound to be hungry when he wakes up"

"Sure, no problem, you want me to bring it down to you?"

"No, best leave it up here, I'll come get it, I don't want him disturbed, I don't think he's been sleeping well"

"OK" and with that Buffy was gone, only realizing after she had left that she had not objected once to Spike using her as an errand girl. Still, having seen the concern for Xander shown by Spike now, and in the search for him when he was missing, she decided to let him get away with it. Just this once though, mustn't let him make a habit of it. So she set off to find Xander food, Twinkies, donuts, soda, and to let their friends know, research party tonight, the Magic Box, don't be late!


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