Life is Change

BY : trudyw
Category: BtVS Crossovers > Misc - Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 8057
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sentinel, I make no money from the writing of this story.

Authors Note : I'd just like to say thank you to those who've read this far, and especially to Kizuna for your review.  Here's chapter six, enjoy

Life is Change - Chapter 6

Spike and Xander grinned at each other across the table while the girls stared at them in stunned shock. Giles simply removed his glasses and started to polish the lenses.

"Who's going on a road trip?" the frozen tableau sprang to life as everyone turned to see Dawn standing in the doorway.

"WHAT! No, no road-trip."  Buffy was adamant and turned to her watcher.  "Giles, tell them, no road-trip."

Giles carefully replaced his glasses and looked at the grinning boys at the table.  Spike might be over 130 years old, but at the moment both he and Xander looked like teenagers again.  Spike suddenly realised the ridiculous grin on his face did not go well with his tough guy image and assumed a smirk much more in keeping with his reputation.

"I'm sorry, I don't quite follow, why road-trip?"  the confused Englishman asked.  "Surely if Detective Ellison is that territorial then a full-fledged Sentinel turning up unannounced on his doorstep is a bad move?"

A quick glance passed between the two, unnoticed by all but Giles, before Spike gave a sharp nod thinking it better for Xander to do the explanations.  "Exactly" blurted out Xander.

Spike looked at all the confused faces and thought that maybe he should have risked the wrath of Buffy and Willow and explained the reasoning himself.  He was about to step in when Xander seemed to realise that the logic was not as apparent to his audience as it clearly was to himself and Spike and tried again.

"What I mean is, Jim isn't going to let us talk to Blair on the phone if he can help it, and even if we do manage to get hold of Blair he's not going to want to risk upsetting his Sentinel, especially after what happened to them before."  He looked around the anxious faces at the table to see if they were following him.  "If we go to Cascade and approach them cautiously, show respect for Jim's territory, get permission to speak to Blair then maybe he'll be a little bit more reasonable."

"You're speaking about Blair like he's property!" objected Willow.

"I'm sorry Willow, you know that's not how I feel, but I get the impression that that's how an alpha Sentinel might well think of his guide."  Xander paused for a moment, watching Willow to see if he was forgiven.  When he saw the infinitesimal relaxation of the frown currently marring the red-heads brow he carried on.  "We stop maybe ten miles outside of Cascade, I stay at the motel and Spike goes in alone.  If this Sentinel is as attuned to his senses as I hope then he'll recognise a guide and Spike will be in no danger.  Not that he can't take care of himself if necessary."  He added swiftly at Spike’s sudden affronted look.

"That sounds like a reasonable plan." Giles ignored the disgruntled vampire, allowing him to calm down on his own.  As much as Xander needed Spike to keep him grounded, the Watcher had noticed that the reverse was also true, it seemed Spike’s need to be there for Xander helped the vampire remain centred.

"Of course it's a good plan.  Hey Strategy guy here, remember!"  Some of Xander's old exuberance showed through with the expansive gesture that accompanied the words.

"Hang on a minute."  Dawn had grown tired of being ignored.  "You mean Spike and Xander are going to see this Blair guy?  I thought he'd refused to help them."  Dawn looked around the table at the faces before her. 

"We're pretty sure that Willow didn't speak to Blair, we think it was Jim, his Sentinel.  Xander seems to think it's a good idea to go confront him on his own turf."  Catching the eyes of Xander, Giles and Spike Buffy carried on "I say no, bad plan, very bad plan."

This time it was Willow who spoke up in defence of the proposed trip.  "Actually it makes sense, we'll never convince them we're genuine while we are here and they are all the way up in Cascade.  But if they can meet Spike first, if the Sentinel can see that Xander has his own guide and is no danger to Blair, then he might let them in."

"OK, so when are you leaving?" Dawn asked Xander.

"What! No, bad plan! Remember."

Dawn just looked at her sister like she'd grown another head.  "They're going Buffy, get over it already."

With that the team settled down to plan the trip.  Buffy glared at her sister and then stalked over to the counter, leaping nimbly up to sit beside the cash register and glare across the room at the rest of the gang.

"So the first thing is to find my car!"  Xander declared.

"Well that should be easy.  I imagine it's where you left it, outside Shady Acres, or was it Shady Palms.  Come to think of it it might have been Shady Glen.  There's a lot of Shady places around here."

Giles shot Spike a look of annoyance.  "You said you found Xander in a cemetery on the way home from here the other night.  In that case wouldn't Restful Pines be more likely?"

"Not necessarily."  Willow chipped in.  "It could have been Peaceful Rest or..."

Pretty soon a lively debate was flowing with the team tossing around the names of the many cemeteries in Sunnydale until Spike abruptly brought the conversation back on track.  "I don't know why we need to track down your car anyway, find something you like and I'll hotwire it, problem solved."

"Spike!"  Xander’s shocked exclamation turned Spike’s smug look to confusion before registering his own confusion as Willows next comment registered.

"So cute! But I don't think turning up on the doorstep of a decorated cop in a stolen car is going to help your cause any."

Everybody's head snapped towards Willow echoing her words, "cute?" before they all shook it off as part of Willow’s normal weirdness.

Spike’s expression turned thoughtful.  "OK, point taken.  I'll go get the car, what else do we need?"

At that Giles began to list their likely needs for a long journey.  "Money, clothes, maps, food, water."  He looked around to see if anyone had anything else to add to the list.  Receiving no further suggestions he started assigning tasks.  "Spike you go find the car, Xander go with him, once you have the car both of you head back to the apartment and back your bags for a few days away.  Willow, when you get home get on the computer and plan a route for them, find them a cheap motel they can stay in around 10 miles this side of Cascade and a couple of inexpensive places to stay along the way.  There's not a lot else we can do tonight.  Buffy can you do a quick patrol, call in if you need backup.  I'll go to the bank tomorrow, get you some money for the trip."

Everyone was nodding along with his instructions until the last one.  "Giles No! That's not necessary.  I have money."  Xander spoke up quickly, he'd been running some quick calculations in his head, seeing how much he could afford to take with him and still be able to make next months rent and eat in the meantime.  Even so there was no way he could take charity from Giles.

"Xander, let me help you."  Giles raised his hand to clasp Xander’s shoulder.  "You can pay me back when you're back on your feet if you must but really, I owe you far more than however much this might take, what with all the work you've done around the store."

Xander held Giles' look for a moment before dropping his gaze and nodding briefly.  "Thanks G-man."

"And don't call me that."  But there was no heat in his voice as Giles dropped his hand and turned away.  "Alright, we meet back here after closing tomorrow.  We'll go over our final plans and then you can get off once it's full dark."  Pulling $150 from his wallet he handed it to an embarrassed Xander.  "Stock up on food and drink for the journey, I doubt you'll have chance to shop for Spike's special dietary needs on the way."  At Xander's blank look he added "blood!"

Xander's expression cleared and thanking Giles he shoved the notes into his jeans pocket and turned to Spike.  "Lead on Mcduff" he declared and followed the vampire out onto the street.

They walked in silence for some time.  Xander simply enjoying the quiet of the early spring evening as they walked, reaching his car some twenty minutes later.  Xander looked around him and realised they were standing outside the Shady Days cemetery where Spike’s former residence lay.  "Hey Spike, given you've lived here for the last few years, what was all that about back there with the Shady Palms crap."

"Hey, if they can't tell when I'm pulling their legs that's not my problem."  Spike tossed over his shoulder as he moved to the driver's door and pulled it open.  "A guy's got to get his kicks somehow, it ain't easy living with a chip in your head you know."

Xander climbed into the car and they set off back to his apartment.  It was only as they pulled onto his street that he thought to ask "and why are you driving my car?"  But there was no heat in his voice, only curiosity.

"Well, it's not a good idea to drive when you're susceptible to unpredictable zone-outs or sensory spikes now is it?"

"Hey, that's not fair, I haven't had a zone since..."

"This afternoon?"

"Hmm, an unpredictable zone since..." Xander tried again.

"Yesterday?"  Spike interjected.  "This isn't getting any better."

"That could be considered predictable you know."  Even though he knew it was hopeless Xander gave it one last try.

"Really?  How do you work that out?"  Spike asked, truly fascinated to hear how Xander would justify that last statement.

"Well, you weren't there!"  Spike was stunned into silence and relishing the small victory  Xander climbed out of the car and walked up to his apartment followed by a shocked vampire still trying to process that response.

As they entered Xander's home Spike seemed to shake off his daze and held out his hand.  "Hand it over, I'm off on a supply run, twenty minutes tops, you'll be OK for that long, yeah?" 

"Sure," Xander handed over the cash but was surprised when Spike returned $50.  "What's that for?"

"If you think I'm stocking up on twinkies for you then you've got another think coming."  He stated.  "Tomorrow you can pop out and get your own supplies."  Thinking quickly he added "not too much sugar.  There's no way I'm spending 3 days in a car with you on a sugar high, do you want to end up driving to Cascade in the trunk?"  With that mild threat still hanging in the air Spike turned and left to stock up on supplies for their trip the following evening.

Finding himself alone Xander gazed longingly at the couch.  He still felt a little shaken by the long zone out earlier but however much he longed to collapse in front of the TV and lose himself in some mindless action movie he had work to do.  Heading into the bathroom he looked with dismay at the overflowing linen hamper, looking across the hall to the bedroom he could see the laundry that had not yet made its way to the hamper.  Sighing he started to gather everything together, if they were going to be away for a trip of at least a week then he'd need clean clothes.  Leaving a note for Spike he headed down to the basement laundry room.

It was actually a little over an hour later that Spike returned from his errand.  It was surprisingly difficult to obtain a large supply of blood on short notice, even in Sunnydale, especially when you weren't prepared to take it straight from the vein.  He extended his vampire senses as he entered the building, memories of the last time he had left Xander alone rearing up in the back of his mind.  This time however he felt none of the uneasiness he had felt before.  This time all seemed calm and peaceful.  As he entered the apartment he could tell he was alone and began to wonder is something was amiss after all, however as soon as he went into the kitchen to store the blood he'd stocked up on for the coming trip, he saw the note on the counter.

Picking it up he read in Xander's hasty scrawl

            Attacking the laundry monster down in the basement

            The more the merrier


Chuckling quietly at the vision that swam in front of his eyes of Xander fending off a mountain of dirty laundry with a bottle of detergent in one hand and a clothes peg in the other Spike headed on down to defend his Sentinel.

Walking down the corridor to the half open door of the laundry room Spike could hear the slightly off-key whistling that reassured him that his Sentinel had come to no harm during his absence.  Standing in the doorway he viewed the scene of cheerful domesticity as Xander bent over the open door of one of the machines, finished pulling the clothes out into a basket and crossed over to one of the large dryers.  Moving quickly forward as he saw the basket start to slip as Xander tried to hold it on his hip with one hand while opening the dryer door with the other, Spike grabbed the basket just before it overbalanced saving the just cleaned wash from the dusty floor.

"Geeze Spike, warn a guy next time!"  Xander yelped in shock, hand clutched to his frantically beating heart as he stood feeling like he must have jumped a foot in shock at the sudden appearance of the vampire.

Spike huffed in amusement, "well if you want me to let the basket fall next time..." he trailed off.

"No, just stamp your feet or something, how long had you even been there?"

"Not long, supplies are all stashed in the fridge.  What happened to Sentinel hearing anyway, didn't think I'd be able to creep up on you anymore?"

"Hmm, good point, I was trying something I'd read in Blair's dissertation.  He mentioned having his Sentinel visualise dials to turn individual senses up and down.  I was trying it on hearing, it gets pretty loud in here with 3 machines going."  Xander looked across at one of the other machines as it clicked to a halt, ending it's cycle.  "I guess I might have turned it down a little too far."

"Ya think?" Spike sounded pissed but when he realised just how clueless Xander was of the danger he had just put himself in he clarified. "Don't do things like that with your senses, not unless I'm around to keep you safe." Xander now looked confused. "Alone in the basement, after dark, loud machines and your hearing turned practically off?" Spike watched Xander and suddenly saw the realisation blossom in his eyes.

"Geeze, that was really stupid huh?" He asked, not really expecting an answer but getting a wry nod from the vampire anyway.

Xander had now finished emptying one basket into the dryer but before he could start on the next finished washer Spike stepped in and grabbed his biceps forcing Xander to meet his gaze. "I know you want to get a handle on the Sentinel stuff and get your life back." He waited for the small nod from Xander before continuing. "And you will, but you have to take it slowly. Please don't experiment with your senses unless I'm around to help out if anything goes wrong." Xander nodded again.

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking, just looking forward to tomorrow, you, me and the open road. What more could a guy wish for?"

"Ponce." muttered Spike as he moved off to sit on the folding table. Vampires did not do laundry.

OK, maybe they do a bit of laundry he thought a couple of hours later as he helped Xander fold the last of the wash.

"We done?" He asked, and at Xander's affirmative nod he picked up the two baskets of completed laundry, stacking them one on top of the other and headed for the door, stopping for Xander to open it he realised the boy was lost in thought. "Hey! Pet!" He called.

Xander dragged his thoughts away from the ripple of muscles as Spike hefted the heavy baskets of clean clothes and quickly opened the door, preceding the vampire up the hall to call the elevator.

Getting back to the apartment they left the baskets out to pack in the morning and headed gratefully off to bed, it had been a long day and looked likely to be another one tomorrow.

It was late in the morning by the time Xander awoke the next day. He lay enjoying the lazy feeling as he snuggled in his vampire's strong embrace. His senses had calmed down a lot over the last few days, what with knowing the cause of the sensory spikes and having his guide close by most of the time. He was pretty sure he could sleep without nightmares as long as Spike was in the apartment. Still no need to mess with a system that's working so well, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." He thought to himself as he reluctantly pulled out of Spike's hold and got ready for the day.

Some time later Xander was just finishing up forcing the last of Spike's newly washed clothing into a holdall, his own clothing was already packed up in a large duffel ready for their trip, when Spike finally awoke and ambled out of the bedroom. "Wow, you've been busy Pet" as he surveyed the packed bags and the clean and tidy apartment.

"Well, if I can't find a job pretty quick after we get back from this trip then I'm probably going to have to give this place up and look for somewhere smaller." Xander cast a melancholy look around the apartment as he spoke, this place meant so much to him, it had been his first taste of true independence and everything had been going so well until the Xeljax had struck. Shaking off the despondency he looked up at Spike, still he'd gained so much since then, he was no longer the lone 'normal' human, he had powers of his own, and his very own guide to help him learn to understand and control them.

The boy's face truly was an open book Spike realised as he tracked every thought across those expressive features. He'd have to do something about contributing to the household finances he decided. Still he'd need to be careful about how he approached the subject, he didn't want to hurt Xander's pride or his own bad boy image. He decided to leave that for now, there would be time enough when they got back from Cascade, now they needed to concentrate on preparations for the trip.

Now that Spike was up Xander grabbed his jacket and with a quick explanation headed out to shop for snacks to keep him going in the car on the long drive ahead. He felt a little nervous as he got behind the wheel of his car but a few deep breaths calmed his nerves and he started the engine and headed for Walmart. The car park was crowded as he drove in and he had to park quite a way away from the building. Still it was a bright sunny day and he would be done and home well before dark so he wasn't worried.

Nodding to the greeter at the door he headed straight for the twinkies and similar sweet snacks, but remembering Spike's threat of the night before he limited himself to just a handful of the sweet stuff. Instead he bought himself a selection of pre-packed sandwiches and a variety of fresh fruit juices. Wandering around the store he spotted a cooler on sale and decided to add that to his purchases before heading to the checkout.

A few minutes later Xander had paid and was heading across the car park laden down with shopping bags when a man stepped out from behind a van. Xander could smell the rank stink rolling off the figure before him and tensed even before the man spoke.

"Your wallet. Now!" And suddenly Xander found himself with two arms full of shopping facing a very large and dirty looking knife blade. Instinctively he took a step back and the man thrust forward threateningly with the knife. Xander was about to drop the cooler in order to reach for his wallet when he'd swear he heard a deep animalistic growl coming from slightly behind and below his right hip. Suddenly the mugger's attention was no longer focussed on Xander and he was instead staring in horror at something just behind and to the right of Xander's right leg. Dropping the knife the man turned and fled, but when Xander turned to see what had scared him so there was nothing there.

Shrugging and putting it down to another case of general Sunnydale weirdness Xander pondered what to do with the knife left behind by the fleeing mugger. Deciding the only safe thing to do was to hand it in to the authorities, such as they were, he carefully picked it up by pinching the very tip of the blade between forefinger and thumb. He figured that was the best way to avoid obliterating any prints left by the former owner. Slipping it into his new cooler he headed on towards his car and was soon pulling up outside the Sunnydale police station.

Walking up to the front desk with the new cooler in his hand he waited for the officer on duty to finish dealing with the lady in front of him before stepping forward and explaining what had happened in the car park.

"So the guy just ran off?" The officer sounded frankly disbelieving and Xander began to worry that he'd made the wrong decision. Still, he was here now so there was no choice but to go on with it.

"Yeah, just got this terrified look on his face all of a sudden, he was staring right behind me and then he ran off. I guess he was on drugs, hallucinations, you know?" Gangs on drugs was the explanation for a lot of things around Sunnydale, let's see if it will help me now Xander thought.

The officer considered this for a minute and then nodded, "OK, let's see this knife then."

Xander lifted the cooler onto the counter and removed the lid revealing the wicked looking knife within.

"Hmm, nasty looking thing." The officer looked up at Xander with a new respect in his eyes, if the lad had faced up to a mugger wielding this then maybe there was more to him than met the eye. "OK, can you tip it out onto the desk here, carefully." He requested and picked up the desk phone to call someone called Smitty to come on down with a collecting kit. As they waited for Smitty to arrive Xander watched fascinated as the officer used his pen to spin the knife around on the desk. The sudden slam of the door as Smitty arrived jarred Xander out of the almost hypnotic state he'd fallen into watching the knife spin. Shaking his head quickly he pulled himself together and repeated the story of the happenings in the car park earlier that afternoon.

Smitty asked a few questions, clarifying events and getting a description of Xander's attacker and exactly how much Xander had handled the weapon and then with Smitty's thanks for his civic minded actions ringing in his ears Xander was on his way home.

Xander had barely turned his key in the lock before the door was ripped out of his hands and unbalanced he stumbled into his apartment.

"What happened, are you alright?" The shopping bags were plucked out of his arms and he found himself subject to a careful inspection by an over anxious vampire in full game face.

Considering discretion to be the better part of valour Xander stood still and allowed Spike to reassure himself that Xander had come to no harm. "I'm fine, some guy tried to mug me in the car park, it was the weirdest thing." Before Xander could continue his was interrupted by a very angry vampire.

"You were mugged! Who was it, just wait til I get this chip out, he's a dead man walking."

Holding his arms out slightly to his sides Xander tried to calm his raging guide / vampire. He wasn't entirely sure which side of Spike was more enraged by the events of the afternoon. How had Spike even known anything was up, he hadn't been wounded so there was no blood to smell. He'd have to ask once he'd got Spike calmed down.

"I'm fine." He repeated "the guy was waving around this big ass knife and then he turned white as a sheet, looked terrified and ran off dropping his knife as he went."

"Terrified? Terrified of what? And where's the knife now?"

"I've no idea what scared him, it was odd." Xander paused wondering if he really had heard anything before the guy ran off, then he decided he had to tell Spike everything, what if it was some Sentinel thing, Spike deserved to know it all. "I thought I heard an animal growl behind me, it was the strangest thing, I wasn't going to look around when there was a guy in front of me waving a huge knife, and when I looked back after he run off there was nothing there. Weird."

Spike seemed to have finally convinced himself that Xander was uninjured but the demon was still very much to the fore and still in game face he pulled Xander over to the couch. Xander was unresisting, allowing the vampire to do whatever it needed to reassure himself that Xander was safe. Carefully Spike manoeuvred them so that Xander was lying with his back to the back of the couch, Spike then lay down facing him and wrapped his arms and legs around his Sentinel.

They lay entwined like that for some time until finally Xander watched as Spike's fangs withdrew and his brow ridges smoothed out into his normal chiseled features. Finally daring to move Xander reached up to run one hand gently down the side of Spike's face. "Alright?" he asked quietly.

"I was so scared" Spike murmured so softly that even Sentinel hearing could barely pick up the words. Xander didn't speak, just cupped his hand along his guide's jaw, trying with all his being to convey support and comfort. He'd never expected to hear Spike admit such a thing.

"I don't know why, I just felt this sense of overwhelming panic. The guide in me was screaming that you were in trouble and wanted to get to you as quickly as possible and the demon desperately wanted to get to you too but knew that there was no way to do it because of the sun." Spike's grip tightened, almost as though he was afraid Xander would disappear if he let go. "It was like the guide and the demon were battling it out inside of me, the guide wanted to get to you regardless, and the demon knowing we couldn't help if we were ash."

They lay quietly for a while before Spike began to talk again. "It only lasted a couple of minutes, although it seemed like forever. Then everything calmed down again but you took so long to come home. Why did it take you so long?"

"I'm sorry" Xander apologised "I had no idea you'd know anything was wrong. I took the knife to the police station and had to answer a few questions." He explained. "I'm so sorry, if I'd known I'd have come straight back."

Eventually Spike appeared to realise that he was basically cuddling Xander on the couch and began to disentangle himself and get to his feet.

"Right, it's getting late, is everything packed." He asked desperately trying to resurrect his normal persona.

Xander respected Spike's need to pull back his control and simply climbed to his feet moving towards the abandoned shopping bags. Looking around he realised just how late it had gotten, his Sentinel vision had adjusted so smoothly with the dimming light that he only now realised that it was almost full dark. "Just the food to pack away" he answered and began quickly packing everything he could away into the cooler. He'd hoped to have time to put the cooler packs into the freezer for a few hours before they left, it was too late for that now. Oh well, if warm sandwiches were the biggest problem they faced on the trip he'd be more than satisfied.

There you are, chapter Six, please hit the link and review, go on, you know you want to!

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