Chapter Twenty Six: Dark Shadows
Summary: Some Plans are Revealed
Xander sat encircled in Doyle’s arms as their intruder babbled in fear while Spike, Dru and Angel stalked around him, all of them in their demonic guise. The stench of fear filled the air, making the young man blink. Questions fell from the three vampires, piling up around the bound man. Across the room, Cordelia cleaned her nails with a small dagger, the knife looking wicked in her hands.
“What scrying spell were you going to use?” Dru hissed, wrapping her fingers in Wesley’s hair and pulling his head back.
“Dark Sight,” he whimpered, staring up at her from wide eyes.
Dru stepped back from, pulling her hand back quickly. She made a soft keening sound, grabbing her head. “The stars, they scream.”
Xander shrugged Doyle’s arms off and stood, walking over to the vampiress. He pulled her into his arms, glaring at the Watcher. Spike spun away and wrapped his arms around both of them, absently crooning to the dark-haired woman.
“What’s wrong, Princess?” he asked, freeing one hand to tip her face up.
“They scream and burn and fade away,” she whispered. “It hurts, Spike, it hurts.”
Xander tapped her shoulder, making her look at him. Dru smiled wanly and buried her face in his neck. The young man cast a questioning look at his vampire, begging for some answers. Spike brushed a hand down Xander’s face, silently promising to get to the bottom of it. Xander leaned into him briefly, letting him hold the weight of the two of them. Spike could feel both Xander and Dru shaking, each for different reasons.
Snarling, Spike whipped around and lunged for the bound man, pulling the gibbering fool up. “What is the Dark Sight? And what do you want with Xander?” his voice was deadly quiet.
“Dark Sight is an arcane spell, meant to find out every little detail about a person, down to the thoughts they are thinking,” Angel said quietly, staring intently at the Watcher.
“What do you want with Xander?” Spike asked again.
“The Demonic Council took an interest in him,” Wesley finally managed to squeak. “The Watcher’s Council wanted to know what was so special about him.”
“And what would you have done with him when you found out?” Doyle moved off the couch and came closer, a look of anger on his face.
“I-I-I don’t know,” the man stuttered.
“We would have studied him to find out if he would be of any use to us,” a voice said from the doorway. “And if he wasn’t, we would have killed him.”
All eyes turned to look at the older man standing there, a younger couple standing right behind him, crossbows trained on Spike and Angel. Both vampires dropped into fighting stances while Dru pushed the vulnerable Xander behind her. Cordelia moved behind the desk, readying herself to drop out of range at any moment.
“Who the bloody hell are you?” Spike demanded.
“Travers,” Wesley gasped as he fell from Spike’s grip to land heavily on the floor. “Quentin Travers. Current head of the Watchers Council.”
Chapter Twenty Seven: Common Shadows
Summary: Trading Pawns
A deep growl rumbled up from Angel’s chest, startling those who knew him. He remained motionless though, the threat of an arrow enough to keep him still. His eyes flashed golden as he watched the British man walk confidently into the lobby, his minions a few steps behind.
“None of that now,” Travers chided. “You don’t want my companions to get the wrong idea and have an accident.”
Still growling, Angel let his eyes darken back to their normal brown. “What do you want?”
“The boy, of course,” shrugged Travers as he sat down on one of the couches. “We really need to know what he’s capable of doing.”
“Sorry to disappoint but you can’t have him,” snarled Spike.
“And how exactly do you plan on stopping me from taking him?” the Watcher asked, arching an eyebrow. He waited a moment before continuing. “You can’t. We’ll be taking him when we leave. And to be nice, we will even give you dear Wesley here. A trade if you will.”
The tied Watcher blanched at the rather offensive way his future had been handled. He knew Travers was ruthless, but he never thought the older man would turn on another Watcher. Looking around the room, he noticed the expression of fury that the others wore and briefly wondered if he would be able to get out of the line of fire when all hell broke loose.
“Doesn’t seem like a fair trade,” Doyle said, walking closer to the young Watcher. “After all, Xander has talents and abilities, but we know next to nothing about Wesley’s.”
The Council head waved a hand dismissively. ” He has some magic abilities and language skills. I’m sure he could be used as stress relief in the dungeon.”
“Still doesn’t seem quite fair,” the seer replied, his hands hidden as he loosened the ropes around the younger man. “What else are you willing to give us?”
“What else would you want?” Travers asked, leaning forward intently. “Money, books, perhaps some of the older girls who’ve aged out of the Slayer line?”
“You know, that sounds a lot like human trafficking,” a new voice said from the still open door. All eyes turned to look at the blonde woman standing just inside the threshold, a gun held loosely in one hand. “And last time I looked , slavery was still illegal. That means you are under arrest.”
As she finished talking, several uniformed police officers entered the building, heading over to arrest the people she pointed at. Travers started shouting threats as he was dragged away and the cops smirked as they recorded every word he uttered.
“Kate,” Doyle smiled, moving away from the now freed Wesley to hug the woman. “How the hell did you know we needed you?”
“Cordelia called,” she answered, pointing to the young woman behind the counter. Cordy smile and waved a hand, going back to cleaning her nails. “Where the hell did that piece of slime crawl out from anyway?”
“England,” Angel told her. “Hopefully he’ll be going back there soon.”
“Don’t know, depends on the DA and if they find anything over there to convict him of,” Kate shrugged. She looked around, stopping Wesley. “Who’s that?”
“Wesley Wyndham-Price,” the Watcher introduced himself. “I used to work for Travers.”
“Use to?” she asked. “Why did you stop?”
“Probably because the bloody bastard just tried to trade him for Xander,” Spike answered. He turned to look at the ex-Watcher. “What are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know,” admitted Wesley. “All my family have been Watchers. It’s what I was raised to be.”
“Travers said you know magic and languages,” Angel said, looking carefully at the young man.
“Yes, I do.”
“We could use the help on the magic front,” the vampire began. “We only have Dru. Plus the language skills could always be an asset. If you want to stay.”
The ex-Watcher looked around the room, meeting all of their eyes before finally nodding. “I think I might stay,” he said softly. “If only for a little while.”
Kate watched them, glad she only had to deal with them occasionally. She would have gone insane if she had to deal with them every day.
Chapter Twenty Eight: Broken Silence
Summary: Someone gets sick and nearly everything falls apart.
Doyle watched as Xander curled into Spike’s side, the normally lively boy listless and lethargic. The seer worried about his young friend. The abnormal behaviour had been going on for over a week and didn’t seem to be getting any better. Truthfully, it was getting worse. It was a chore to get Xander to even eat a few bites of food, a task only Spike and Dru managed, and most of the time the young man just lay curled up somewhere in the building, Hella laying beside him.
“What’s wrong with Xander?” Angel asked, coming to stand behind his husband.
“What do you mean?” Doyle looked up at his lover.
“He’s always tired, he never eats and the other day he was shivering even though it was almost ninety in here,” the vampire said, staring hard across the room at the young man.
Doyle scrubbed his hands over his face. “I think he’s getting sick. Or is sick. I just don’t know what it is.”
“Take him to a doctor,” commanded Angel.
“It’s the middle of the day, I doubt Spike’ll let him out of the hotel,” Doyle countered. He paused in thought for a moment. “Wait, I have an idea.”
Angel watched as his husband walked quickly off, muttering under his breath. Shaking his head, he went back to watching the youngest member of their eclectic family. Xander burrowed further into Spike’s side and the blonde glanced down, worry etched into his face. Angel hoped that they would be able to convince the younger vampire to let the boy out of his sight for a few hours to get him checked. The oddness of Xander’s condition was a concern for the elder vampire.
“Here,” Doyle said, reappearing at Angel’s side. He thrust a coiled length of rope at Angel. “For Spike.”
The taller man blinked. “This isn’t going to hold him.”
Doyle blushed and cleared his throat. “Um, it’s been spelled to be vampire proof,” he said softly.
“Do I want to know why?” Angel asked, giving his husband an assessing look.
“No, doesn’t matter now anyway,” Doyle told him. “Get Spike restrained, Dru too if you can and I’ll take Xander up to the emergency room.”
Nodding, the vampire darted across the room and snatched Spike up, quickly binding him with the rope. Another fast movement and Dru was bound with him, giggling softly.
“What the bloody hell are you doing?” Spike shouted, struggled to free himself.
Xander pushed himself slowly off the couch and went to untie his vampires but Doyle stopped him, pulling him easily away.
“Xander’s sick,” Angel said, pointing at the young man who was leaning on Doyle to remain upright. “Doyle said he would take him to the hospital.”
An expression of fear descended on Xander’s face and he struggled weakly in Doyle’s grip. The seer easily restrained him, trying to calm him down. “Xander, what’s wrong?”
“You’re taking him to a hospital, you bloody wankers, what do you think the problem is!” Spike growled.
Doyle groaned. “Not a hospital like that, Xan, I promise. We just need to find out why you’re so sick.”
The young man kept fighting and managed to break free of the half-demon’s grip, immediately heading over to Spike. He half hid behind the bound vampire, burying his face in the blonde’s neck.
“Can you wait until tonight?” asked Spike, trying to remain calm for his boy’s sake.
Doyle shook his head. “It’s best he goes now. If it’s something major time could be a fatal factor.”
Spike growled and looked around in thought. “Xander?” he said softly, coaxing the young man out from behind him. “Would it be alright if Cordy went with you? She could protect you and she won’t leave you there. Maybe Wes would go too.”
Xander lifted his head and stared into Spike’s eyes before nodding.
Sighing in relief, Angel went off to find the other two humans while Doyle untied Spike and Dru. The vampire wrapped his arms around his boy, hiding his extreme worry in the need to keep Xander calm.
Chapter Twenty Nine: Slipping Shadows
Summary: No news isn’t necessarily good news
Xander flinched away from the noise and smell of the hospital. He could feel his mind slipping back into the horror that had been his life before Spike rescued him. Memories threatened to overwhelm him and only Doyle’s tight grip on his arm kept him centered in the here and now. Shaking, he followed his friend to the registration desk, listening with half an ear to the information the nurse was being given. Behind him, Cordy and Wes stood, quietly arguing over who would stay and who would report back to the hotel. Neither wanted to leave the damaged young man, even if Doyle would still be there with him.
The seer led him over to the plastic seats and sat beside him. Cordy sat on his other side, a constant torrent of words falling from her lips as she tried to distract him from their environment.
“… after that we’ll go clothes shopping. I definitely need someone there with me,” she scrunched up her face. “If only to keep me from buying everything in sight. Then maybe we can convince the old fogies into taking us to the beach.”
He gave her an incredulous look at that suggestion.
“Not during the day,” Cordy shook her head. “But it would still be fun to go at night. We could have a bonfire party and all that fun stuff.”
Xander smiled at her suggestion and nodded. He liked the idea of seeing the ocean at night, with Spike and Dru with him, as well as the rest of their odd little family. It would be nice to do something family-like. Something you see the perfect families on t.v. doing.
**** **** **** **** ****
Spike paced the length of the lobby, worry for his boy evident in every motion he made. His face was in its demonic guise and his duster snapped around his legs as he moved. Every once in awhile a low growl would sound from his throat.
“He’ll be alright,” Angel tried to reassure him. “Doyle will take care of him.”
Spike snarled. “It’s not Doyle I’m worried about. I trust him, and the other two, to take care of Xander. It’s the doctors that worry me. All the ‘what ifs.'”
“I know,” the older vampire sighed, slumping. “But there’s nothing we can do until nightfall.”
With another growl, Spike threw himself down on one of the couches beside Dru, letting her cuddle into his side. The seeress had been quiet since the others had left and Spike could feel her worry weighing down on his own. Hella dove down from the ceiling and curled up on Dru’s lap with a soft cry, her dark grey body shivering.
Silence filled the room as they all wondered just what was happening with Xander, Doyle, Cordy and Wes. A moment later soft humming filled the air. Spike glanced down at Dru, noticing the vacant look in her dark eyes.
“Hush little baby, don’t you cry,” she sang quietly, her thoughts miles away on a dark haired young man.
**** **** **** **** ****
Squeezing Doyle’s hand, Xander followed the nurse into the examination room. He curled into the older man as they waited for the doctor to come. Doyle ran his hand through Xander’s hair, trying to keep the young man calm. They both jumped as the door opened as an older man in a white lab coat enter.
“Hello, I’m Dr. Evans,” he introduced himself. “Which one of you is Xander?”
Xander raised his hand slightly as he moved to stand a little behind Doyle.
“And what exactly is wrong today?” Dr. Evans asked.
“He’s been cold, even when it’s hot. It’s been impossible to get him to eat and he hasn’t been sleeping,” Doyle told him.
“Hmm, okay then,” the doctor looked down at the file and then back at them. “If you’ll just wait outside, I’ll check him over and see if we can figure out what’s wrong.”
At the doctor’s words, Xander felt a spike of fear. He began to hyperventilate and his eyes darted around the room. Tears sprang up in his eyes at the thought of being left alone with a stranger. Doyle wrapped his arms around the shaking young man, whispering words to calm him, but Xander struggled in his grasp. As he tried to run, a soft voice whispered through his mind, singing lowly. He recognized the voice as Dru’s and let the quiet song soothe him. The song aided Doyle in calming the young man and once Xander had finally calmed down the seer turned to glare at the doctor.
“I stay,” he said firmly.
Eyeing the two of them, Dr. Evans looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding. Keeping his motions simple, he checked the young man over, noticing the things that weren’t right. Finally he stepped back and sighed.
“Okay, I know what’s happening and it is fixable,” he told them.
“Well?” Doyle asked when he didn’t continue.
“Xander has tonsilitis,” Dr. Evans said. “Has his throat been hurting him, or his voice going in the past couple of days?”
“I don’t know about the throat,” Doyle said, turning to look at Xander who nodded. “Okay, it has.”
“And his voice?”
“He doesn’t talk,” the seer shrugged.
“Alright then,” the doctor said slowly. He was silent for a moment. “I’ll prescribe him some antibiotics, and if it doesn’t clear up in a couple of weeks, we’ll send him in to have his tonsils out.”
“That’s not going to go over well,” sighed Doyle.
“Why not?” the doctor asked, worried that the young man would be denied the surgery if he needed it.
“He’s the baby of our family,” Doyle smiled. “And the thought of him going under the knife is going to make everyone upset.”
Chapter Thirty: Sunny Shadows
Summary: Bad news and new hope
Spike stared a Doyle as if waiting for the seer to say he was joking, but Doyle just stared back, his green eyes serious and solemn. He didn’t want to believe the half-demon and kept shaking his head in denial.
“Yes, Spike,” Doyle said. “If it doesn’t start to clear up soon, they’ll have no choice. Tonsilitis is dangerous.”
“So’s going under a bloody knife,” the blonde vampire snarled. “Find some other way.”
“There is no other way,” the seer sighed. “Surgery might be the only option.”
“There’s no spells or anything?” Cordelia asked, looking up from the magazine she was reading.
Doyle shook his head. “Not for something like this. I really wish there was, I don’t like it either.”
“But you don’t like it for different reasons than Spike does,” she shrugged, looking back down.
Spike glared at her but Doyle looked at her intently. “What do you mean by that?”
She looked back up. “Oh, that’s easy. You don’t like it because any surgery can be dangerous and you’re worried what’ll happen when Xander’s under,” she nodded. “Spike’s worried because he won’t be able to be there. Just like when we took Xander to the hospital.”
Blinking, Doyle glanced over at the suddenly still vampire, noting that Spike was still glaring at Cordy. “Is she right?”
“Yes,” the vampire snapped. “I won’t be there to keep him safe.” He ran his hands roughly through his hair, musing the gelled locks. “I’m supposed to keep him safe.”
A strange look descended on Doyle’s face as he gazed thoughtfully at Spike for a few moments. Suddenly he smiled and patted the vampire’s arm. “It’ll be okay,” he promised. “You’ll see.”
**** **** **** **** ****
Rubbing absently at his throat, Xander wandered aimlessly around the hotel. It had been two weeks since they had made him go to the hospital, and there hadn’t been a change. He knew what that meant, and he dreaded it. Despite the hospital being nothing like the one he spent years in, it still frightened him and he knew that he would be going without his vampires. That was what scared him the most. Spike and Dru were his anchors, his guidelines that kept him safe and sane in the wake of the horror he had faced. Without them it seemed like the memories would rise up and overwhelm him. He didn’t want to face surgery without them, but he didn’t know how to bring them with him.
“Hey Xan,” Spike said, appearing as if Xander’s thoughts had conjured him. “Feeling better?”
With a silent sigh, Xander shook his head and moved gratefully into the open arms. He let Spike’s strength soak into him and melted into the embrace.
“Guess that means it’s surgery for you,” murmured Spike as he ran a hand over Xander’s back. “I’ll talk to Doyle about setting it up.”
Xander lifted his head from its place on Spike’s shoulder and met bright blue eyes, letting his own reflect his fears and worries. Spike nodded and pulled him closer, helping ease some of the fears with his presence.
“I don’t know, pet,” he said softly. “I can’t be there with you.”
“Yes you can,” Doyle interrupted from the side.
He walked forward and held out something the vampire. Spike reached out and took the object, holding it up to look closely at it. It was a bracelet made of some reflective material that looked somewhat like silver, but didn’t feel like it. There were three stones set in it, two a dark blue and the third, the middle one an emerald green. Curious, he looked over at Doyle, seeing the smug smirk on the half-demon’s face.
“I pulled in a few favours with my contacts to find that,” Doyle told him. “A Shaman found it while trying to climb Mt. Everest.”
“What exactly is it?” Spike asked.
“There were three pieces made. A ring, a bracelet and an earring. The ring is believed to be in Sunnydale, and we’re all hoping the Master doesn’t find it. The earring was destroyed by the Templar Knights. And the bracelet is currently in your hands.”
“That doesn’t really bloody help,” Spike snapped.
“All three were made by the same sorcerer name Amara,” grinned Doyle.
Spike nearly dropped the priceless piece of jewellery he held. Hugging Xander tight he begged Doyle silently to be telling the truth. The seer nodded.
“Each held different powers,” Doyle said. “The ring made the wearer impervious to harm. The earring gave slight telepathic abilities. No one’s quite sure just what the bracelet does, but they all have one thing in common.”
“They let vampires walk in the sun,” Spike breathed. He reached out and pulled Doyle into a hug, squashing his between them. “Thank you.”
“Wear it well, and keep him safe,” Doyle smiled, hugging them back.
**** **** **** **** ****
“Occupation?” Spike blinked at the forms he had to fill out. “Why the hell would they need to know what his bloody job is?”
“So they know what sort of restrictions to place on him,” Cordy said patiently. “Put down private eye.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Spike said, writing that down. “Didn’t know people lied on these.”
“It’s not a lie,” shrugged the wanna-be actress. “Wes got us all our licenses. He said it would be better the next time we had to call Kate in about something.”
“Wow,” Spike said, blinking again. “Didn’t know the Watcher had the balls.”
Cordelia sighed. “Just fill out the forms, Spike. The sooner you do, the sooner they can get him in and we can get him home.”
Glancing down at the dozing young man leaning against him, Spike nodded and quickly finished filling out the number of forms. Once done, they waited for Xander to be called, walking him to the prep room. Giving the young man a brief hug, Spike left him in the care of the nurses, threatening them with bloody deaths should his boy come to harm. Used to death threats, they assured him Xander would be fine and shooed him out of the room.
Filled with worry and fear, he followed Cordy back to the waiting room where they sat in silence, praying to gods light and dark that Xander made it through safely.