Title: The One Who Sees 1/1
Concrit: darkhavens @ slashverse.com
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: A while ago I wrote Protected for txrabbit's birthday, and in it I created a 'verse where Xander collects glyphs and protective tattoos that will keep him alive and safe forever so that he can be with Spike without being turned. This is the story of what happens when the Scoobies notice the newest addition to the collection.
Betas: literati and reremouse. Thanks, ladies!
Note: Written for fall_for_spike, and posted here.
The One Who Sees
The trouble started when Xander fell asleep…
The research session was only supposed to last a couple of hours - identify the latest multi-racial demon influx and figure out why they'd spent the last three nights gathered under Xander's window.
The chapter they found implied that certain humans gave off certain scents - the demon magnet thing was working overtime again. They didn't want his brain or his blood or his sacrifice; they really were just turned on by his hormones.
Xander was ready to head for bed, his earplugs and his vampire - the demons had a tendency to argue, long and loud. Then Giles had an epiphany related to a prophecy about the Hellmouth meeting of two tribes and the search was on. He seemed to recall the text as being originally in Latin but that the book it had been written in was French. Giles printed out the words they had to look for in the massive tomes and Xander skimmed a good book and a half before he yawned. He struggled through another hundred pages, blinking wearily, and then succumbed to the urge to close his eyes, just for a minute.
Willow was sitting opposite and watched Xander lose his fight, smiling at the sight of him asleep atop the book. She didn't get to see this very often any more, not now Spike was always at his side with quips and jabs. But Spike was off with Buffy collecting information, and so she got to watch her best friend snoozing.
Surprised, she realised that she was actually thankful that Xander was seeing Spike. She knew the vampire would never let the other sex-crazed demons near. The image of him the previous night, staking out his claim by practically dry-humping Xander's thigh still made her giggle. She was fairly sure that Xander could sleep safe at home, if not that well.
She blinked as the shadows beneath Xander's brows seemed to flutter and morph, and she got the unnerving feeling that she was being watched. Curious, she leaned forward, peering closer.
Under the tangled fringe of Xander's hair two tiny dots of light gleamed in the pupils of a pair of inhuman eyes. Willow yelped.
"Giles! Giles, look at this! There's something wrong with Xander!"
Xander bolted upright as sleep was jerked away, and he glared at Willow for shocking him awake.
"Jeez, Willow, give a guy a break, okay? I've got to be up for work in seven hours and I'm tired. I promise I didn’t drool on the book" - he let his fingers check - "so there's really no need to… What's up?"
The expression on Willow's face was one of worry and badly hidden fear, and when Xander automatically reached out she pulled away. Xander's bottom jaw dropped away in dismay.
"Willow, what do you mean by 'there's something wrong with Xander'?"
Giles' voice at his ear and the hand simultaneously landing on his shoulder made him jump.
"His eyes, Giles! There's something not right about his eyes! He was asleep but when I looked, there was… small and yellow and… staring at me!"
Suddenly Xander got what the problem was, and cursed himself for forgetting and falling asleep in the shop.
"I, uh… I can explain."
The hand on his shoulder tightened painfully for a second and then withdrew, and Willow stared across the table in unhappy confusion as Giles moved round to settle in the chair to her right.
Xander ran his hands over his face, dry washing as he tried to wake himself up enough to explain, without going too far or into too much detail. That way lay badness.
"You know me and Spike are…"
"Yes, Xander, we're all well aware of the fact that you and Spike are involved. It would be rather difficult to miss." Giles frowned. "Are you saying that this is Spike's fault somehow?"
"They're Mwkra eyes, Giles. I was given them last week. Spike and I did a favour for a friend and he was grateful." With a shaky finger, Xander traced the thin black line on his left eyelid, and then did the same on the right.
"You know Spike's always worrying about me be being weak and human. This is just so nothing can sneak up while I'm asleep. They're sensitive to magic, so the whole place set them off, then Willow got too close and they popped open."
Now he was faced with two worried but terminally curious magic users, and he sighed, leaned forward and carefully closed one eye.
"No poking, no touching, in fact, no fingers doing anything. There's really nothing for you to see right now except the lid line." He waited patiently while they peered and squinted at his socket, looking disgruntled when nothing actually happened.
"Xander, does this mean… you're not human any more?"
"I'm pretty much as human as I ever was, Wills. This is just an extra bit of help to keep me safe."
Giles was silent and that, more than anything, worried Xander. He studied the focused expression of the man across the table.
"Giles? Hey, you're going to be okay about this, right? I don't think they'd come off with laser surgery, not that I'd ever try. You know about them, know they're not a danger to…"
"Uh, what?" Xander was suddenly quite uncomfortable sitting opposite Giles, close enough to see the hint of Ripper in his eyes.
"What was this favour that you and Spike did to earn such expensive payment? Mwkra eyes are never redeemed for cash but they're still costly. I want to know exactly what you did and why you did it and how you managed to pull the whole thing off without us noticing."
Xander was scrambling for something to say when the door to the shop flew open. Spike made his usual swaggering entry, followed by Buffy in a full-blown snit.
"I can't believe you offered me to him! What if he'd said yes? Do you honestly think I'd let him…?"
"Don't be so bloody daft. If he'd said yes, I would've insisted on hearing the names upfront, and then you could have killed the slimy git for all I cared. Might have done you good to take him up on it though, he's got to be better in bed than Captain Cardboard or the poof."
"Spike! You… Oh, just once… If Xander wasn't here, I'd…"
"Spike, so glad to see you, you're just in time to join the fun. Xander was about to tell me how he earned the Mwkra eyes."
"The what? Oh, ew! Xander, you're not collecting demon parts? I knew it was a bad idea for you and Spike to get involved!" Buffy screwed up her face in disgust and dropped into a seat, pushing a pile of books to one side to get a clear view.
Determinedly nonchalant, Spike dropped into a squat next to Xander, ignoring everyone's gaze to steal a deep wet kiss before turning back to face the firing squad.
"He's not telling you anything, Watcher; it's none of your soddin' business. We just did a favour for a friend, that's all. Nobody died, no one lost money, mojo wasn't involved, much. We provided a service and got paid the going rate. C'mon, Xan, we're leaving. You need to get some sleep." Spike stood and tugged at Xander's closest shoulder.
Giles slapped his hand down on the desk and everyone jumped.
"Sit down, Spike." Spike sat. "You're not going anywhere until one of you explains. Xander is sporting several thousand dollars worth of demon artwork and you're both acting guiltier than sin, which rather worries me. Xander," - Giles turned his head and looked him in the eye - "why don't you explain what you did for your friend or, I'm sorry, did the friend belong to Spike?"
Buffy looked puzzled, Giles exuded raw determination, but it was Willow's expression of badly concealed hurt and heart-felt worry that had Xander's resolve crumbling to dust.
"Okay! Okay, I give, but you're not going to like it." Xander took hold of one of Spike's hands and started to talk.
"One of the guys I work with had an accident on site. He fell off the scaffold, knocked himself unconscious on the way down, and then skewered himself on a piece of broken rebar when he landed. He was rushed off to hospital before I could reach his wife, and when I did, she went completely frantic." Xander shrugged awkwardly and started picking chips of polish off Spike's fingernails.
"Turns out Gary isn't quite as human as he looks. He can pass okay in public but only just. If the doctors got their hands on him, the Initiative would hear and… They've got a dozen larvae almost ready to pupate. She was desperate to keep him out of danger so she asked for help. She told me Gary told her I was human but 'connected' - he'd seen me out with Spike and playing cards the once with Clem."
Buffy snorted, and then winced as Willow kicked her under the table.
"Ignore her, Xander. Tell us, did you save him? Did you rescue him?"
It was like story time at kindergarten all over again, with Willow unable to wait for the tale's happy, perfect ending.
"No, Wills, I couldn't leave the site, but I called Spike. He was the dashing hero of the hour."
"Hey, you dashed! You managed to reach the hospital through the tunnels before the ambulance got there. You grabbed him off the gurney in the parking lot! At least the paramedics knew not to chase you into the sewers. That could have been very, um, messy, for all involved."
Xander grinned at Spike and mouthed 'my hero', making Willow sigh. Spike rolled his eyes and glared at Giles.
"Is that enough? We saved the tosser's life and got paid handsomely. Now my Xan has an extra pair of eyes for when he needs them."
"What? Wait. Xander has demon eyes now? Xander, what have you done and what do I kill to put it right?"
Spike, Xander and Willow all turned at Buffy's shriek, but Giles' voice was the first to break the momentary silence.
"Buffy, please be quiet. There's nothing for you to kill."
This was followed swiftly by:
"Don't go acting like he's screwed up!" - "Hey! Still human here!" - "No, Buffy, it's actually kinda neat. It's just magic."
Buffy blinked and frowned and blinked again.
"I'm still confused. But!" She held up a hand before anyone could speak. "I think I'll get Giles to explain it to me later." She relaxed back into her chair and folded her arms. "I'm sure it's all Spike's fault anyway."
"Sure, Buffy, you believe whatever you want. Giles, is it okay for me go home and get some sleep? I have work in the morning and we're still a man down without Gary." Xander half hid a jaw-cracking yawn behind his hand, hoping the sight would convince Giles they could go. It didn't.
"You still haven't told me how you got the Mwkra eyes. I know you saved the man's - demon's - life, but really, Xander. He's working in construction and it doesn't pay that well. How could he afford a gift like that?"
Sending a snarl across the table, Spike twisted round and pulled Xander into a comforting, tight embrace.
"You want me to…?"
Xander nodded and closed his eyes, leaning into Spike's shoulder. He didn't think he'd ever be ready to explain what had happened next.
"I carried Gary to the address his missus had given Xan, and she had the local healer ready and waiting. A room full of burning herbs and some chanting later and he was wide awake, but the hole in his belly's gonna take a while longer to heal up. Then he insisted Xander come straight there after work. They wanted to show their gratitude to us both, and they did."
Spike paused to bury his nose in Xander's hair, drawing in a lungful of sunshine, sawdust and shampoo. Then he pressed a kiss to Xander's scalp and continued.
"We talked, me and Gary and her, while Xander was finishing up at work. They asked me why I hadn't turned my boy so I could keep him. I told them we were working on something better for us both. I might have mentioned a few of the wards and glyphs we've put in place. Next thing I know they're nattering in some demon tongue or other, and then she races off into the cellar. She didn't come back until Xander was at the door and she practically dragged him in, sat him down and made him drink some tea. Then she went back down the stairs and brought a tiny bundle up, laid it on the table and unwrapped it."
Everyone tried not to react at the muffled whimper that came from Xander, as Spike stroked his hair and hugged him close.
"Nearly done, luv. Then we can leave them wishing they hadn't asked, while I take you home and shag your soddin' brains out."
The look in his eyes dared anyone to speak. They didn't.
"Right then, where was I? Oh yes, the bundle. Turns out Gary's missus is a full-blooded Mwkra, while Gary's half and half Mwkra and Grzl. While he can pass for human, she needs a glamour, and the larvae that pupate and reach full-grown will need them too."
Giles' head went up as realisation dawned, but Spike didn't give him a chance to interrupt the sorry tale.
"The bundle was the smallest of their brood - she'd made a sacrifice, taken a life as thanks for the life we saved. Gary explained it probably wouldn't have made it past the pupae stage - too weak and tiny to fight its way to freedom through the chrysalis. So they gave my Xan a gift that he didn't dare refuse, no matter that it made him sick inside. We watched her clean the needles, draw the fluid from the larva's eyes, and then she let her husband do the artwork while she chanted. I watched him ink the eyes in - they were open and they moved about, but once she finished chanting they snapped closed and haven't opened since. Well, they hadn't until tonight."
"I… That's… I'm sorry, Xander. I can understand your hesitance now. I can only say that Gary was most probably correct. The vast majority of Mwkra larvae don't pupate at all. They gave you a gift that was quite beyond price."
Giles' hand on Willow's arm kept her thoughts unspoken, and Buffy knew just enough to keep her mouth closed too. Spike heaved Xander to his feet but left his arm in place, ready to catch him up if he should stumble.
"We're going, Watcher, Red, Slayer. Don't expect us back tomorrow. We're gonna take a night or two to rest and shag like mink. Call us if you think there's an apocalypse on the way so we've got time to leave this stinking town, we need a break. 'Night all."
They were almost out of the door when Xander heard Willow's hushed whisper.
"At least we know that's Xander's not in real danger. Those eyes will wake him up if something dangerous gets close, right, Giles? He should sleep better now he knows that nothing can sneak up."
Xander rolled his eyes and let his hip bump into Spike's. It hadn't been the demons under the window keeping him awake, but the demon in his bed who felt he had to make a point. To that end, Xander hadn't been allowed to fall sleep until he'd reached at least one screaming orgasm.
Sex-crazed demons had nothing on his guy.