- Dark Themes
- Death - Minor Character
- Discussion - Murder
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Episode Related
Chapter 1: The Change
Adam was dead. Not that Xander had been worried he wouldn’t die. But now he was dead and they could all go about their normal little lives, couldn’t they? So it appeared. Buffy had stepped back into her Slaying duties, with Riley helping her. Willow continued to assist her with research and the occasional spell. And Giles, he did whatever it was retired English librarians did. Xander wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed, but whatever it was, Giles did it.
So what of him? What did he do? Nothing, that’s what. He sat around and moved from job to job and performed for Anya like a circus animal. Maybe that wasn’t enough anymore. Maybe, he wanted to do something, be someone. Maybe he wanted more.
It was with this thought in mind that he had packed a bag, just one, and left Sunnydale. He promised Willow he would call once a week to let her know he was all right. She was the only person who knew that he was leaving. She was the only person to tell.
No one else cared. Buffy and Giles had their own lives to lead. Anya had been frustrated with his attitude of late and had left Sunnydale herself. She said she’d be back, but it didn’t matter. If she did come back, he wouldn’t be there.
The only other person he would have told, was leaving as well. Spike. The supremely annoying, irritatingly sarcastic vampire that had shared his basement with him on many occasions was leaving Sunnydale. Spike had been angry at the Initiative’s destruction. Not because they were destroyed, but because they were destroyed before he could have his chipectomy.
Spike had said something about going to torture the one demon he knew would enjoy it. The comment had been lost on Buffy, but Xander knew where the blonde would be headed. That was fine with Xander. His life was confusing enough without having to worry about leaving the vampire behind to deal with Buffy’s constant ridicule.
Slinging his bag over his shoulder, Xander took one last look at his basement. He didn’t know why, but he felt this would be the last time he’d be seeing it. And that was more than okay.
“Why are you here?” Angel asked as he eyed his childe warily.
“Do I need a bloody reason?” Spike countered, when Angel didn’t even bother to raise an eyebrow, Spike sighed needlessly and exhaled a ring of smoke. “I want you to take this damn chip out.”
Angel looked at Spike carefully before responding. “And I would do this why?”
“You owe me.” Spike hissed the words, his anger apparent, and not all of it aimed at his present circumstances.
Angel nodded. “Fair enough.” He turned around and entered his apartment. “Come in.” He invited before turning his dark eyes towards the younger vampire. “But while you’re here, you do as I say, when I say it. Understood?”
Spike entered the apartment and winced imperceptibly at the commanding tone in his Sire’s voice. Spike nodded when Angel turned back around.
“Spike? Say it.”
“Yes, it’s understood…Sire.”
Angel smiled slightly. “Good.” He walked into the kitchen and pulled out a couple of packets of blood. After heating them up briefly, he poured the thick red substance into two mugs and handed one to Spike. “Now, tell me why you’re here.”
Petreius LaCroix walked through the crisp night air. He wasn’t sure why he had come. It was such a dirty city. He hated to leave his home. He hated to leave Europe itself, but he had been summoned. It wasn’t often that a vampire of his power and age was summoned by the council. Something had happened. Something beyond their control. Something troubling, they believed he could help them with.
That was how it was he was journeying across the world to the Americas. Although he wasn’t technically in the United States, he was close enough as far as he was concerned. He hoped all was well with his brother, and it wasn’t he who had caused the problem Petreius had been summoned to fix.
The Council had only told him he was required, and that they had no time to waste. People were dying and not those that they survived on. No, his own people were dying, and no one knew how, or why. But the odds were good that Lucien was in the middle of whatever it was. Nothing happened in Toronto without Lucien’s knowledge.
Petreius took another long unnecessary breath as he stepped back into the railway car. He had put off this trip for far too long. It was time to see what type of trouble his baby brother was in the middle of now.
Xander sank into the seat, exhausted. He wasn’t entirely certain where the train was headed. He wasn’t sure he cared. He hadn’t slept soundly in days and he didn’t think a train ride to who knew where would be the place to catch up on his Z’s.
It had been three weeks since he left Sunnydale, California, and except for weekly phone calls to Willow, he hadn’t had any contact with Sunnydale. It was nice. Despite his exhaustion, or lack of direction, he felt pretty good.
Of course he had no clue what the hell he was doing, or where he was going, or what he would do once he got there. But for once, it didn’t seem important to know all those things. It didn’t seem necessary to keep an eye on who he was supposed to be, so others wouldn’t see who he really was.
It just didn’t matter anymore.
Closing his eyes, Xander let sleep claim him, wondering where he’d be when he awoke.
Petreius LaCroix walked down the long hallway of the train car, all his senses on alert. There was power here. He could feel it. It was subdued, muted, but here nonetheless. He followed the trail around a corner and to a small cabin. The door was closed but he could feel the power emanating from the other side. It seemed weakened somehow, almost as if the energy had been sucked out by something, otherworldly. Which considering number of things that mortals would consider other-worldly that he himself had witnessed in his many centuries, it was entirely likely that what he sensed was accurate.
Petreius opened the door quietly and was almost surprised to see the young man sound asleep inside the cabin. Almost because he had never expected it to be a young mortal that he had been sensing, but he had learned in his long life that nothing was impossible. Nothing surprised him anymore. Still, this young man, no more than twenty if he were to guess, was not what he had been expecting, not at all.
He stood in the doorway to the cabin and watched the mortal sleep. The sleep appeared to be a sound sleep, a deep sleep, but there was something off about it. He could feel the power still emanating from this frail form. But despite its subdued quality, and the manner in which it was so apparently weakened, it was still stronger than what he expected to find in a human child.
There was something remarkable about this one. Something even he, with all his centuries, and vast stores of both knowledge and power, couldn’t identify. Something he had the sudden desire to harness.
That realization halted him. It had been a long time indeed since he had sired another of his kind. Centuries, and then only a select few could claim to be the childer of Petreius LaCroix. But this mortal, this boy called to him in a way he hadn’t felt in a long time.
As he watched the mortal sleep, he made his decision, and before the boy could awaken and make things more difficult than were necessary, he acted upon it. The boy’s blood was…different. It had the taste of power, great power. Power, which had existed a long time. Power, which had traveled through this young body, using it as a sort of conduit for something else. What, Petreius couldn’t be certain. Perhaps when the change was complete, the boy, no man as he saw now, could tell him.
As the mortal’s blood traveled through his ancient veins, laced with their odd source of power, Petreius saw the young mortal’s life in flashes. Flashes of pain, and death. Of betrayal, and anger. Deep sorrow and an odd wisdom, hidden deep inside, showed the vampire that he had chosen well.
The young man didn’t fight the change. On the contrary, he seemed to welcome it, and whatever would come after. This was rare, even among those who sought to become what Petreius was. Even those, had some lingering doubt, some latent fear that manifested itself during the change. But not this time, not with this boy. When his eyelids had opened near the end, they had widened in confusion for a moment, but there was no panic, no resistance, just calm acceptance. And then it was over, and the sleep of the dead descended upon him.
Petreius sat in the seat across from the young one, and watched over his sleep, feeling that whatever crisis was bringing him to Toronto; it had now proven worth whatever price he must pay.
Xander felt an odd awareness descend on him, before he had fully awakened. He could feel the movement of the train beneath him, bringing back his memory of the previous night. At least he thought it was the previous night. He felt as though he’d been asleep for a decade, but it couldn’t have been more than a few hours, could it?
He opened his eyes experimentally, and noticed it was dark, both inside the cabin, and through the slightly opened window. The odd thing was, he had no trouble seeing. He sat up more fully and moved the curtain slightly, to look outside the large window, hoping to find something familiar, not that he was expecting to.
He had been asleep for a few hours at least, and he had no knowledge of where this train was headed to start with, he bought his ticket at random; he could be half way across the country by now, for all he knew. He saw the world stream by the quickly moving train, and found none of it the least bit familiar. Not surprising.
He leaned back and sighed. The sound bringing and odd feeling to his chest. He took a deep breath and let it out quickly. The odd feeling continued. He took another, this time holding it in, until he couldn’t any more, until the need to breathe forced the air out. However, that didn’t happen. He sat there holding stale tasting breath inside his body, waiting for the need to expel it. A need that never came.
He was still; frozen in place in the speeding train cabin, trying to figure out why that was, when the door to his cabin was pushed open and a man came in. When he saw that Xander was awake, a smile lit the features.
“You’re awake.” The man handed Xander a thermos. “Here, drink this. It’ll make you feel better.”
Xander looked up at the man. He seemed familiar to him, but he couldn’t place where they had met. Before he realized what he was doing, he had reached out and taken the silver thermos. It was warm to the touch indicating that whatever was in there, had been heated.
He could smell something almost familiar in the thermos, something that reawakened a hunger he hadn’t known he was feeling. He took the lid off, and began drinking, a part of his mind assumed the liquid was something familiar like coffee, while another, more basic part knew it for what it was.
As soon as the warm liquid hit his tongue, he knew exactly what it was.
How many times had he seen Spike drinking this exact thing, and less frequently, how often had he seen Angel drinking it as well.
Even the knowledge of what it was he was ingesting, and what that must mean did nothing to slow his consumption. He needed this. This, warm, piece of life. Someone else’s life, but now his.
He swallowed it all, not spilling a drop in his hunger. When he was finished, Xander recapped the lid and handed the thermos back to the man. He looked at him closely, now recognizing him as his sire. He also realized he had seen this man, briefly, when he had awoken during the night.
But the sense of familiarity he felt around him went beyond that. Beyond recognizing him from some foggy dream, or even the knowledge that some of this man’s blood coursed through his veins. There was something else, something more basic, more primal, that told him that he should know this man.
“Who are you?” he asked with a raspy voice.
“Petreius LaCroix,” the man answered with a slight smile. His eyes were dark, and seemed to hold no small amount of pleasure, though Xander wasn’t sure why.
Petreius LaCroix appeared to be in his late fifties, early sixties. His hair was a graying, but distinguished. His eyes were a deep dark brown, rich in their warmth, contradicting what he knew this man was capable of. He had an accent Xander couldn’t place. Some part of Xander’s brain, still remembered everything he knew about vampires, everything those months of Angelus’ reign had taught him, knew he should be afraid. Afraid of this man, and what he had turned Xander into, but he wasn’t. He had no fear. Not of himself, and not of the man standing before him.
“How long?” Xander spoke again, his voice extremely hoarse, more so than it should have been after only a few hours of sleep.
“Three days,” Petreius answered, surprised. He had expected many things. Fear, denial, maybe even a little pleading, but not this…this knowledge, and acceptance.
Xander’s eyes widened. “Three days?” he croaked. He turned to stare out the window again. “What time is it?”
Petreius moved to the windows and stared out of them himself, recognizing the terrain, although it had changed somewhat since his last time in this part of the world.
“It’s nearing four.”
Xander nodded. “Where are we headed?” He had so many questions; he wasn’t sure where to begin, so the simple seemed to be a good place to start.
“Toronto. We’ll be there within the hour.” Petreius sat in the seat across from his young childe and waited. The young man stared at him for a second, a question in his eyes. Petreius smiled at the curiosity in those dark eyes so much like his own. “My brother is having some… difficulty.”
“So, we’re here to help him?” Xander asked nodding his head. “Help… help I can do. Mostly.” He grinned slightly at the oddness of this conversation.
Petreius was fast becoming aware that whatever he had been expecting with this mortal, he had sorely underestimated him. “You’re not surprised? Do you know what you are? What we are?”
Xander stared at the older man for a second then smiled wryly. “Vampires? Yeah, the blood sort of gave it away.”
Petreius laughed. He couldn’t help it. This…person was nothing like he had anticipated. “You are not surprised?”
Xander shrugged. “I’ve known about vampires for a while. Can’t say as I ever thought of becoming one though.” He looked away for a second before locking eyes with his sire once more. “Actually, that’s not true. I have thought about it, but, well…I usually kill them. I don’t suppose I’ll be doing much of that anymore, will I?”
Petreius thought this over for a second before replying. “You never know.”
Before Xander could comment on the cryptic remark, a voice sounded over the loudspeakers, telling them they were nearing a train station.
“Rest now, young one, you are still weak.” Petreius stood up and moved towards the door when the voice of his new creation stopped him.
Petreius turned around, an eyebrow arching in question.
“Xander. That’s my name. Alexander, actually.”
Petreius nodded and smiled slightly. “Alexander.” He turned and left through the door, leaving Xander alone again.
Xander stepped away from the pay phone and stared at it for a moment, replaying his conversation inside his head. He had kept his word and called Willow. He had promised to call her weekly, and despite what had just happened, the change he could feel coursing through his veins, the lack of a beating heart inside his chest, he still didn’t want her to worry.
It was a contradiction to all that he had known. Everything Giles had told him, and had been confirmed over the years by the different vampires he had met, and then again, in frighteningly graphic detail when Angel had lost his soul.
But everything he had been told, everything he had learned over the past few years, was wrong. All of it. He didn’t feel the need to hunt down and kill his old friends. He had no great desire to eliminate the Slayer.
He knew he had changed, was still changing, in ways he couldn’t even imagine. He could feel power coursing through his veins, the scent of life surrounding him. He felt the hunger, the blood lust, but unlike what he had believed, it wasn’t the all-consuming need he had been expecting.
He wasn’t certain if this difference was because he was different, or because his Sire was old, and powerful. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he had still been feeling the effects of Willow’s spell to summon the power of the first slayer when he had been turned.
Maybe it was a combination of all three, or maybe his information had been wrong. Maybe it had been easier for Giles, and the other watchers to believe vampires were uncontrollable beasts. That killing and maiming was the only thing that mattered, that feeding was all there was to unlife.
But the problem with that theory was that most of the vampires he had met seemed to fit that description. From the Master’s minions, to the general vampire population of Sunnydale. But even among those there were exceptions. The master himself, the anointed, Darla, Drusilla…Angelus. As often, and violently as he had killed, there was always more, always something different about him. And then there was Spike, the one vampire that Xander had gotten to know.
He had spent countless hours with him. They were mostly hours where Spike was bitching and moaning about how his unlife sucked, but even then, there was something about Spike. Something that had called to him, interested him in a way he could never understand.
Angel had that effect on him as well. Maybe it was a vampire thing, or maybe it was just them. They were unlike any vampires he had ever met. That could be because he had spent more time with them than with any others, or it could just be that they were unusual.
Maybe he was unusual too.
He remembered the short time he had spent around Jesse after he had been turned, and he didn’t think his old friend had felt anything like what he was feeling now. It was odd, this power he felt coursing through his veins. This knowledge of what he could do, what he was capable of.
Xander watched the people passing by around him. Mortals, living their lives. He could see them scurrying around, late for something, or just plain in a hurry. He wondered why they bothered? Before they knew it, it would be over. Their lives were so short, so fragile.
And yet, he had no desire to show any of them just how short their lives could be. He had no desire to kill them, drain them of that which gave him life. He wasn’t hungry and they weren’t any threat to him.
Why was he different from other vampires he had seen, other vampires he had killed?
This question had been at the back of his mind ever since he had awoken and realized what it was he had become. He had expected violence and carnage, but it wasn’t there. He was just…himself, only more powerful, stronger.
Xander turned around to face his Sire, the man who had given him this new life. He wanted to ask him if this was the way he was supposed to feel or if there was something different about him. But he couldn’t. What if he was different? What if he was wrong? He couldn’t risk that, so he kept quiet.
“My brother lives near here. Let us go,” Petreius spoke as Xander reached him. They began walking down the street towards the club where Petreius’ brother was currently residing. He knew Xander had questions. There were things the young man would want to know, but he had to let the boy ask them in his own time, his own way. Knowledge and wisdom couldn’t be rushed.
Chapter 2: Family
Flying was a new experience. He never knew vampires could fly. He always thought that was a myth brought about by cheesy Dracula rip-offs. As far as he had known, Spike and Angel couldn’t fly; neither could any of the other vampires he’d ever seen. It brought about more questions.
Questions about the nature of Vampirism. Nothing he had ever learned in the past four years Slaying vampires had prepared him for waking up as one.
He was becoming aware that not all vampires were the same. Which made sense, if you thought about it. Nothing else on the planet was universal. Not all animals or plants were identical. Not all people were the same. There were different species, different moralities. Why should vampires be any different?
He was learning that not all creatures of the night were indiscriminate killers. Not all vampires preyed on the weak, or terrorized others simply because they could. He had seen firsthand the mentality of those that did. It had frightened him. Not that such things could exist so much as the idea it could one day happen to him.
The way it had with Jesse.
He could easily have been the victim of Darla or the Master, or something else like Miss French or Ampata. What would have been worse? To die, permanently, or to be born into an eternity of Hell on Earth, hunting his friends and family, the way he had imagined it?
He could never envision any other way for himself. He had known almost from the time he could think about such things as death, that he would die at a young age, probably horribly.
He had dreams, all his life, dreams of death, and pain and things he couldn’t understand.
Before he met Buffy, he had always thought those dreams were telling him that one day his parents would go too far, and he wouldn’t wake up from that fall down the stairs. Or that hit on the head would be one too many, and that would be it for him.
Then he met Buffy, and realized that maybe, the dreams were telling him something else.
It was only a matter of time before he died. That much he knew. He always thought he’d be afraid when it happened. Afraid of what would happen to him, how he would wake up; If he would wake up.
When he opened his eyes in that train car, with Petreius’ dark eyes staring into his own, all that fear had evaporated. He knew that whatever happened, however he woke up, it was something that he couldn’t stop, shouldn’t stop.
He welcomed it.
If he had known about this vast new world, with all its intricacies opening up to him, he might have been more afraid. As it was, he found himself trying to decipher each and every mind he came into contact with.
It was unlike anything he could have believed…before. In other vampires, he could sense, just from a simple glance, how powerful they were, how old they were. Sometimes, if he concentrated, he’d get a glimpse of what they were hiding. What secrets they kept behind their wise eyes, and dark looks. With other demons sometimes the knowledge was less, sometimes more.
Humans were all too easy to decipher.
Xander wondered if this was a common thing, this insight into the minds of others, but was afraid to know the answer.
What if he was unique? What if he was the freak, even here? Even now?
He’d always felt out of place, in Sunnydale. When he was a child, sometimes he’d see things. Things he knew weren’t normal. Things he’d never talk about, not even with Willow, especially not with Jesse.
Eventually, he stopped seeing them, but he didn’t feel any more ordinary. Even after meeting Buffy, and finding out about vampires, Xander felt out of place. He was the normal guy. The guy without any super strength, or powerful mojo. He was the guy with the secret he sometimes dreamt about.
Usually before something apocalyptic was about to happen.
After several minutes, the two vampires arrived in the front of a building. It looked dark from the outside, but both could feel the vibration coming from inside. The feel of the music, and the pulse of life.
Petreius opened the door and waited for his childe to enter. Once they were both inside, the door closed behind them. Xander looked around in curiosity. This place was a club. From all appearances, an underground nightclub. There were people dancing throughout the room, a few people milling about around the bar. A small stage for a band that appeared to either be on a break, or they hadn’t started yet.
What held Xander’s attention was that he could feel the pulse of life in this place. The scent of life, and excitement and adrenaline. But he could also smell death. Others, like him, frequented this place, and if he concentrated, he could pick them out, tell the difference between mortal and vampire.
“This way.” Petreius moved past him towards a room in the back.
Curious, Xander followed him. Inside the room there was a man sitting behind a desk, with a microphone in front of him. The man was speaking into the microphone, his voice a calm, entrancing tone. He appeared to be of similar age to Petreius, but considering he was a vampire, that didn’t mean much of anything. His hair was cut short, and gray.
As the vampire spoke into the microphone, his eyes traveled over his new visitors. He showed no outward appearance that their arrival was surprising, nor did he seem upset by them. His eyes cast a cursory glance over Petreius before moving to Xander, where he spent a considerable longer amount of time.
After a few minutes, the man finished speaking and then flipped a switch on a panel to his right before turning to face Petreius and Xander.
“Brother.” The man nodded to Petreius.
“Lucien. This is Alexander.” Petreius motioned to Xander. “Alexander, my brother, Lucien LaCroix.”
Xander stepped forward and held out a hand. Lucien shook it and eyed the boy closely before turning to face Petreius.
“He is young brother, but well chosen.” Lucien turned back to Xander. “Welcome, Alexander.”
“Thank you…” Xander hesitated unsure what to call him. Mr. LaCroix sounded extremely pretentious, and Lucien seemed too personal.
“Uncle.” Lucien supplied with a small smile. “You may call me Uncle.” He turned to Petreius, who nodded his approval.
“Okay…Uncle.” Xander said hesitatingly. He wasn’t entirely certain how literal the term ‘brother’ was.
“We have a bit of a…situation.” Lucien began but then focused on Xander once more. “Why don’t you have a look around?”
Xander nodded and left the room. Lucien turned to his brother. “He’s young.”
“Yes, but he has strength, and power, and a wisdom I haven’t seen in a long time.” Petreius smiled slightly as he watched Xander moving around the club, taking in everything that he saw.
“So, why have I been summoned here, brother? What mess have you gotten yourself into now?”
Xander walked around the club, curiosity warring with his desire to find a quiet corner and think. His curiosity won out. After all he had an eternity to think, didn’t he?
The band had started to play and he stood near the bar watching them. The singer was a woman, blond. She seemed lonely, which was weird because the song wasn’t overly depressing and people surrounded her. Still, he could sense it about her, and he wasn’t sure why that was, or how comfortable he felt with that knowledge.
She was a vampire. That didn’t surprise him, as this club apparently catered to vampires and mortals who lived on the edge. Still, it was an odd thing to look at someone a few yards away and know they weren’t technically alive.
“She’s something, isn’t she?”
Xander turned at the voice. It belonged to a man, a vampire, who looked like he was only about ten years older than Xander. However, he could sense that this man’s true age was much higher. He had long hair, and kept his eyes on the stage.
“Yeah.” Xander agreed, turning back to the woman on the stage and not sure he was all that thrilled with talking to any more of his kind than was necessary. He was still trying to figure this vampire thing out.
“She’s yours.” Xander said suddenly, with the knowledge that whatever else he didn’t know, he did know that the sad woman on the stage was made by the vampire standing next to him.
The man blinked, surprised. “If you mean I made her, yes.”
Xander nodded, pleased with himself for reasons he couldn’t explain.
Xander froze for a second. Did he mean in the general sense, or as a vampire? Was it that easy to tell?
“To the Raven.” The man elaborated.
The Raven. That was the name of the club. “Yeah. I’m new in town.” Xander offered. “Xander.” He turned to face the man more fully, extending his hand, although he wasn’t all that sure what the protocol was with other vampires, if there even was any.
“Javier Vachon.” The man offered and shook his hand.
It was all surreal, this shaking hands and introducing each other, like normal people. But they weren’t, not normal, not even people.
Before anything else could be said another man came up and started speaking to Vachon. He was standing on his other side, and although he wasn’t talking loudly, if Xander had wanted he could have eavesdropped, but there didn’t seem much point.
If he were to guess, they were flirting. It wasn’t the blatant way that Anya had spoken to him in their time together in high school, or the weird insulting way Cordelia had treated him, or even the way Spike sometimes spoke to him. It was subtler. Though they didn’t appear to be attempting to hide anything, either from each other, or anyone else.
It seemed kind of strange. The man was obviously a vampire as well, and there was something almost recognizable about him, on a subconscious level, but Xander knew he had never met him before. And again Xander had to wonder how inaccurate his information about vampires was. It seemed to him that if this Vachon wanted this man, and vice versa, here and now, the vampire thing to do would take it. In his experience, vampires didn’t care about where they were, or who might be watching, they just…did.
But watching these two interact was about more than lust, and wants and desires. It appeared they were…talking, about real life things. Jobs and life and love.
Could vampires love?
Giles had always told him no. Buffy had said Angel loved her. Wasn’t that why he had lost his soul? Spike had loved Drusilla, if his reaction after their breakup was any indication.
Yes, there was love. It was possible. Xander refused to think about those he loved and what his new life, his new existence would do to that love. It was useless anyway. He doubted he would see any of his friends or family again.
He didn’t mind never seeing his literal family again. There wasn’t much there to miss. But his friends and … other people, he would miss them. His phone call to Willow had been brief. He had only told her he was fine and in Toronto. He had mentioned he had met someone of interest, but nothing more.
Xander wasn’t sure what made him mention meeting Petreius at all. It wasn’t as if she could ever guess what had happened, and even if she had guessed, what could she do about it? Besides, it wasn’t as if he needed saving, not yet anyway.
And unless whatever it was that had brought his Sire to Toronto was less of a threat than Petreius was led to believe, his old life was the least of his worries. His sire didn’t seem the sort of…person, to leave his home and come to Canada unless he was truly concerned.
What was scary enough to worry a millennia old vampire, and bring the vampiric community to its knees?
A community now his own.
Xander was startled away from his inner thoughts by the feel of a pair of eyes watching him. He looked up and into the curious gaze of the man who had been talking to Vachon.
Xander turned around and saw Vachon over by the stage, talking to the blonde singer, his childe.
The vampire who had spoken to Vachon was older than the girl on the stage, but nowhere near as old as either Petreius or Lucien, if the vibe he was getting from his newly enhanced senses was even remotely accurate.
The man was blond, with a scruffy beard and there was something familiar about his eyes. It wasn’t the color or shape, or any sense of having met him before, but a loneliness tempered by pain. He recognized the look, though not necessarily the man wearing it.
“Do I know you?” The man asked stepping forward, his eyes studying Xander intensely.
If it weren’t for the serious expression in those eyes, Xander would have laughed. If he were in a different place, under different circumstances, he would have thought that was a pick-up line.
“Uh…no.” Xander shook his head, smiling wryly at the course of his own thoughts.
The stranger held out his hand. “Nick. Nick Knight.”
“Xander.” Xander shook the man’s hand.
“What brings you to Toronto?” Nick asked, still eyeing Xander intensely. He had a strange edge to him. If this were anywhere but here, and they weren’t vampires, Xander might have thought he was a cop, or perhaps military, or some other service oriented job. He was a little too hyper-vigilant to just be a guy relaxing at a club, regardless of his earlier flirting with Vachon.
“Business.” Xander answered just as a blond, mortal, woman came up to Nick.
Nick introduced them, and the woman, whose name was Tracy, started talking to Nick about some case, thereby proving Xander’s theory that Nick was indeed a cop. Xander guessed even Vampires needed jobs in this strange new world. The two moved a few feet away to talk in private and Xander tuned them out.
Xander looked around the darkened club. There was the pulse of life in this club. Life and death. The feel of things unknown to him, creatures beyond even his knowledge. Xander wondered if Giles knew places like this existed.
As he turned back to Nick and Tracy, Xander noticed Vachon had joined them. He watched the three of them, taking note of their body language and the way they spoke to one another.
It was obvious that Tracy knew both vampire’s well, though she didn’t seem to know that Nick was a vampire. She seemed to think highly of Vachon. Xander thought he could detect pheromones coming off of her, but he wasn’t accustomed to his new senses, so he wasn’t sure. He wondered if she was aware that Nick and Vachon carried each other’s scent, and what that was likely to mean.
Continuing to watch, Xander noticed after Tracy left, Nick and Vachon stepped closer to one another and their voices lowered. Vachon looked up briefly and looked over at Xander but he seemed intent on his conversation.
Xander knew they were talking about him. He also knew that he could probably stretch his vampiric hearing enough to listen in, but oddly enough, he wasn’t all that interested in doing so.
“I see you’ve met your cousin.”
The voice behind him didn’t startle him and Xander realized at least on a subconscious level he’d been aware of his sire’s presence.
“Who are they?” Xander asked, his eyes still on the two vampires.
“Nicholas, I think he’s calling himself now, is your cousin. Lucien is his sire. He fights against what we are.”
Xander nodded. He now recognized the look in Nick’s eyes as one he had seen in Angel’s. “And Vachon?”
“Lucien tells me he has only recently come to Toronto. He has a unique history. Perhaps he will share it with you, but for now, we must go.”
“Xander turned around for the first time. “Trouble?”
Xander stood up and followed Petreius out of the club, all too aware of the two pairs of eyes, which followed him.
“Well?” Spike demanded impatiently as Angel entered the apartment and took off his coat.
The older vampire ignored his Childe and went into the kitchen to heat up some dinner. It had been an extremely long night, and he wasn’t in the mood for Spike’s petulance. His blood was halfway through the heating cycle when Spike joined him in the kitchen, scowl firmly in place.
“Damn you, Angelus, are you gonna get this chip removed or not?”
Angel didn’t even turn around. He waited for the microwave to finish and walked across the small space, neatly avoiding the younger vampire. Once his dinner was finished, and his glass cleaned, he turned to face Spike.
“I found a guy. He said he’d do it.”
“You found a guy?” Spike repeated. He was almost too surprised to notice the way in which Angel had answered him. Almost. “What exactly do you mean by you found a guy?”
Angel didn’t answer, and Spike didn’t expect him to.
“Do you mean, you just spent the past five hours looking for your guy… or do you mean, you knew exactly where to find him?”
Angel still remained silent, though he knew it would anger Spike. But he wasn’t about to answer him, and he didn’t want to lie to him either. He held perfectly still, anticipating the blow that would be coming.
Therefore, he was surprised when Spike quietly left the kitchen. A few seconds later he heard the front door slam shut. Angel was tempted to go after him. It was nearing sunrise. But Spike was a big boy and could take care of himself, as Spike had repeatedly reminded him in the five days they’d been together.
Angel had known this would happen. The moment he’d heard about Spike’s problem he’d known that sooner or later Spike would come to him, would want his help in removing it. He knew that Spike expected him to do no less. If not for the fact that Angel was his Sire and therefore responsible for him, then for the fact that he loved him.
That fact had never been in dispute. Not even when the Gypsies had cursed him and he had eventually left him with Dru. Not when he had shown up in Sunnydale and Angel had helped the Slayer. Even after everything they’d been through; there had always been love.
Spike loved more deeply than any vampire Angel had ever known, with or without a soul. And contrary to the popular opinion, he wasn’t the only vampire walking around with a soul in his or her dead body. There were also vampires who lived by different codes. Vampires who had values, and something else that used to mean something, even among their kind.
Usually such vampires were headed by Master’s who’d lived for a long time. Masters who remembered the old ways, and never lost who they were, even once they became a creature of the night.
Angel had met such a vampire once. Not the Master, but a childe much older than Angel had been. He had been young at the time, less than fifty years a vampire. She was several centuries his senior and showed him things he could barely ever conceive of. She had tried to teach him that he need not be what his Sire wanted; that, Childe or not, he could do what he chose to do. A true Master would want that for their children. She spoke of her Sire with an affection Angel couldn’t understand.
But then, at the time, he hadn’t understood much of anything she had tried to teach him.
They had parted ways after a too-short time, and Angel often wondered what happened to her. Was she still around? Was she still so happy with her unlife?
After he had returned from Hell, Angel thought about her often. He had spent so much time there, doubting what was real, what he knew about himself, and the others of his kind, he often wondered if he’d only imagined her.
Since his return from that place, Angel had realized many things about himself, not the least of which was that you couldn’t change the past. He’d stopped brooding over all the things he’d done, all the lives he’d taken, and started trying to make a difference in the here and now. Who knew what would happen when he was finally staked?
He had a purpose now, and a family, as unusual as it was. Spike was part of that, no matter how he acted. Just as he’d known the moment he heard about the chip that Spike would eventually come to him, Angel had also known he would help him. He could do no less. He wouldn’t even want to.
He’d known the day would come when Spike would come to him, and he’d do anything to help. He’d been prepared for what would happen. Where he would have to go, and what sacrifice he would have to make. The price wasn’t too high, could never be too high, but he was probably the only one who would see it that way.
Judging from Spike’s reaction, the younger vampire knew the price, and couldn’t believe he’d paid it.
But what else could he do?
Javier watched the two vampires as they left the club. There was definitely something off about them. The younger one was obviously extremely young, but there was something about him.
“Who are they?” He asked as he turned to Nick.
Nick followed Vachon’s gaze, though the vampires were no longer there.
“The older one is Petreius LaCroix.”
Vachon raised an eyebrow. He recognized the name. “And the younger?”
“I don’t know.” Nick admitted.
“You think they’re here due to the dead?” Vachon whispered.
They were silent for a few minutes, each in their own thoughts.
“I saw Bichon earlier.” Nick said finally. “I came to see if you’d heard anything.”
“Bichon? Here in Toronto?” Vachon shook his head.
“Enforcers in Toronto are never a good sign.” Nick agreed.
“Hiro Yamato is here as well.” Vachon shared as he looked around the club, trying to see if he could recognize any other out-of-place visitors.
“It’s true. The council has called a meeting.” A soft feminine voice stated.
Nick and Vachon turned to face the new voice, Vachon’s eyes widening slightly while Nick smiled broadly.
“Janette.” Nick stood up and embraced her. “What are you doing here?”
Janette smiled. “He called. We were summoned.” She answered simply, turning her dark eyes to Vachon. “Is this him?”
Nick smiled. “Yes.”
“Javier Vachon.” Vachon offered, kissing Janette’s hand.
“A pleasure.” Janette winked as she turned to Nick.
“I’ll…” Vachon stood up, looking between Nick and Janette. “I’ll see you later.” He said, squeezing Nick shoulder before disappearing into the crowd.
Janette watched Vachon weave his way through the dancers. “He suits you.” She said turning her gaze back to Nick. “He’s…attractive.”
“What’s going on?” Nick asked, not rising to the bait.
“I was in Europe. Michel was summoned. Here I am.” Janette spread her hands. “Is Petreius truly here?” She asked curiously.
“Yes. He brought a young one with him.”
“Interesting.” Janette looked around the darkened club she used to call home.
Chapter 3: The Council
“Where are we going?” Xander asked Petreius when they stepped into the cool night air.
“There is a council meeting.”
“Now?” Xander asked, tilting his head slightly, scenting the air. “The sun will be up soon.”
Petreius smiled at the ease with which his young Childe was acclimating to his new senses. “Come. The sun will not be an issue.”
Xander nodded and followed his Sire, anxious to meet the people who had summoned his father away from his home after more than a millennium.
Petreius observed his new Childe with interest. The members of the council eyed the young vampire with a mixture of curiosity, fear and fascination. He knew the curiosity was due to the fact that he had not taken a child in well over a thousand years, and even then, never one so young. The fascination was no doubt caused by the strange power Xander seemed to exude. It was one of the things, which had first attracted Petreius.
The fear was harder to define. Something about Xander frightened them. Something inexplicable and unnameable. Something they themselves couldn’t place. Petreius himself had felt no such emotions towards his Childe, only the knowledge that he had chosen well.
Xander eyed the council members impassively. He knew he was under intense scrutiny and for the first time in his life he didn’t have to fight the urge to squirm.
He held no fear or worry over what these vampires would do if they found him lacking, knowing only that he was more than he had been, perhaps more than he had ever hoped to become. Even knowing that the council consisted of some of the most powerful vampires in the world didn’t daunt him.
The only familiar face among them belonged to his Uncle, and Xander wasn’t sure if that was a plus or not.
//What do you sense?//
It wasn’t the first time Petreius had spoken to him telepathically, but before it had always been brief incursions, just letting him know it was an ability he could master.
This was different. Xander could sense the intensity in Petreius question. This wasn’t just a test. He honestly wanted to know what Xander could sense. A part of his mind wondered why. Surely Petreius was more powerful than he and could gain any knowledge himself. Another part, didn’t question why, and just sought the answer.
He surveyed the room before him. The council was seated around an oval table. The table easily sat twenty, but the council only numbered thirteen, so that left a small section open.
Their faces were completely expressionless, as if they had no emotions. There was a strange vibe emanating from the table. A heat permeated the room, something usually vacant in a room full of the undead.
//They’re worried.// Xander answered when he deciphered what was causing the unusual feeling in the air.
Petreius made no further move to communicate, and Xander assumed there was a reason no one had spoken yet, and remained silent.
“Join us.” Lucien began after a few more moments of silence.
Petreius sat in one of the vacant chairs and nodded at Xander to do the same.
After they were seated, a woman across from Xander began to speak.
“We have lost over a hundred in the past six weeks.”
“Cause?” Petreius asked.
Xander listened as his father and the other vampire’s discussed the emergency, which had brought them to Toronto. Apparently there had been several deaths around the world. Vampire deaths not caused by sunlight, stake or decapitation. They just simply…died.
They believed that someone, or something was doing this, on purpose, and had requested Petreius’ assistance in determining who or what that was.
“It’s a vampire.” Xander blurted out the words before he thought better of it.
Thirteen pairs of eyes turned to stare at him. There was complete silence for a minute.
“Do you know what you are suggesting?” An asian man who appeared to be in his fifties asked his tone sharp.
Xander frowned. “Um, no.” He didn’t understand what the big deal was. Surely the thought had occurred to them. In his experience vampires killed other vampires all the time.
The asian vampire stared hard at Xander, his dark eyes glowing gold for a moment. “Leave us.”
When Xander hesitated, another spoke.
“Now!” The new vampire roared, his sharp fangs glittering in the darkness.
//It’s fine.// Petreius assured him.
Xander nodded once to his father and stood up and quickly disappeared out of the small door in the back of the room. He wandered around for a minute before finding a staircase. He followed the stairs down a floor and moved quietly through the darkened hallway until he found an unlocked door.
Stepping inside the room, Xander looked around. It appeared to be a library of some sort. Bookshelves lined the walls, from floor to ceiling, each shelf was full. It was the type of place Giles would love. For a moment he felt a little sad he would probably never see Giles or any of the others again.
But soon, his curiosity got the better of him. What type of books would interest vampires? Whatever they were, they were old. Old. He could smell the age and dust.
Picking a shelf at random, Xander lifted a heavy tomb and opened it. It wasn’t in English, but neither was it in any language Xander had come across in Giles own collection of ancient tombs. Though the language was both unfamiliar and oddly recognizable, he didn’t have any trouble deciphering the text. He went from book to book, reading some passages, and skimming others. Several of them talked about the first vampires and how they came to be, about how over time they had learned to hide themselves, to remain a secret in the mortal world, nothing but a myth.
Several of the books also referenced another book, and thanks to his years working with Giles, and the organized way in which the library seemed to be maintained, it wasn’t difficult to locate.
This book was all about Vampire law and custom, and the forming of the council.
According to this book, the council consisted of thirteen vampires, all Masters in their own right. Each held a position of control over a certain area. The Master’s on the council were known as Dux Ducis.
Lucien LaCroix was the Dux Ducis of the northern part of North America. The other twelve council members represented different parts of South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the southern part of North America. Although constantly aware of what was going on around the world, the council only met once every century, unless there was an emergency.
Not all vampires knew of the council’s existence, or why they existed, although most knew of the Enforcers.
The Enforcers were a subgroup of the council. They consisted of a rare breed of vampires, whose sole purpose it was to protect the interests of the vampire community. They acted of their own volition and dealt with things as they saw fit.
Like all things in existence, vampires had a code, rules they had to live by in order to survive.
The first, and most important of these rules was Tell No One, equaled only by No killing of your own kind.
The exception to the first rule was, of course, those you planned to bring across. The exception to the second were those called Effera which meant the untamed.
“Look who we have here?”
Xander looked up from the book he was reading.
There was a man standing in the doorway to the library. He looked to be in his thirties but Xander could sense he was considerably older.
They stared at one another for a prolonged minute before Xander returned to his perusal of the book.
“Do you know who I am?” The man asked as he stepped further into the room, not liking the apparent dismissal he had just been given.
“Who?” Xander answered, not looking up. “No, but I know what you are…aside from a vampire, of course.”
“Of course.” The vampire stepped closer. “What am I?”
“An Enforcer.” Xander looked up again, gauging the vampire’s reaction. He wasn’t sure how he could tell this particular vampire was an Enforcer, especially since he’d only just read about them.
“You’re not afraid?”
“Should I be?” Xander asked seriously, knowing that according to what he’d recently read most vampires did indeed fear the enforcers.
“Bichon.” The vampire held out a hand and stepped closer.
“Xander.” Xander took the hand, and felt a jolt of energy at the contact. He stared into Bichon’s eyes, feeling an odd sense of power connecting them at the source of their contact.
Xander stepped back, removing his hand from Bichon’s.
Bichon smiled. “We’ll meet again.” He backed out of the room and disappeared.
“I’m sure.” Xander frowned. That was one vampire to watch out for.
Angel stopped and turned towards his childe. “This is the only way, William.”
“I know, but…”
“But you’re wondering why I would do this?” Angel asked quietly.
“No, you bloody ponce! I’m wondering why they would do this.”
“I know.” Angel agreed. “That’s been bothering me too.”
“Having me…me again is curious enough, but the price they are asking.” Spike looked up at the sky, the stars pricking the curtain of black. “Are we going to do this?” He asked finally.
“Yes. Let’s go.”
The rest of the walk through the woods was made in silence. Spike wasn’t sure this was a good idea. He wanted the chip out of his head, but nothing good could come from the price they sought. And that Angel was willing to pay it was even more disturbing.
They reached the cave a few minutes early but there was a tall, scaly demon waiting for them. Both vampires recognized him as a Kovar demon. A species dedicated to the force known to Angel as The Powers That Be.
“This way.” The demon’s voice was deep and melodic.
Spike and Angel followed the demon through the cavern to a tunnel. They finally stopped when the tunnel opened up into a large room.
Three more of the tall, scaly Kovar demons were waiting in the large cavernous room.
“Angelus. William the Bloody.” The tallest of the demons acknowledged. “I am Litau. Are you prepared to pay the price?”
“Yes.” Angel answered simply.
“Do you understand what it is we are asking? What we are taking?” Litau asked somberly.
“Yes.” Angel answered again, no hesitation in his voice.
The demon nodded once and turned towards Spike. “William, Childe of Angelus, line of Aurelius, come forth.”
Spike turned to look at Angel once before stepping forward quickly.
Litau placed his hands on either side of Spike’s head and began chanting.
Chapter 4: The Threat
Xander remained in the library for another several hours before his solitude was interrupted. It had been nearly twenty-four hours since they had arrived at this building where the secret Council of Vampires held its meeting. Xander felt another as they descended the stairs. When the door opened, Xander turned around and faced his Sire, one eyebrow raised in question.
“I see you found the library.” Petreius smiled slightly. “Find anything of interest?”
Instead of asking what was found, like Xander thought he would, his sire said something else altogether.
“Do you genuinely believe another vampire is doing the killing?”
Xander thought about what had led him to come to that conclusion and nodded slowly. “I’m not entirely sure how I know…exactly.” He admitted quietly.
“But you do believe it is one of us?” Petreius asked again. “Are you sure, Alexander?”
Xander thought again of the sense of…evil he had gotten from the council room, like an omen of a sort. The pervading feeling of death. But not the death that cloaks vampires. This was a different feeling, a different evil.
He didn’t know how he could sense it, or why no one else seemed to, but he did recognize his answer was important, just as he knew that vampires killing their own kind wasn’t as common as he had previously believed.
“Yes, Father. I am sure.”
“That is unfortunate.” Petreius said with a sigh. “However it changes nothing. We must stop these deaths before too much attention is brought upon our society by the mortal world.”
Xander turned and left the library, retracing his steps to return to the surface. Petreius followed him silently, no longer wanting to be near the council, unsure of what exactly they were up against.
When Xander reached the surface, he stopped and looked up into the night sky They had been in the building for almost an entire day. It was still dark but there was a scent in the air. A vague burning that Xander instinctively recognized as the coming sunrise. It had been entirely too long since he had slept and he was tired.
“Come. You must rest. You are still young. We have much work ahead of us.” Petreius stepped past his childe and began walking towards The Raven. Perhaps a night there would yield more information.
The dawn was coming and most creatures of the night were tucked away safely in their beds.
The day was time for the living. For the mortals of the Earth who need not fear the sun. For demons who could blend in with humanity.
Not far from the safety of the nightclub known as The Raven a young girl walked the streets.
She prowled the city, looking for fresh meat, a new kill.
Something that would be noticed. Something that would scare others of her kind.
Unlike the others’ sunlight was no danger to her. And unlike many of her kind she would escape notice.
She was a small slip of a girl, seemingly innocent. Only her eyes told the truth.
The truth of her age, and her evil.
While many vampires slept the day, this one crept closer to a new victim, hoping this one might bring her closer to her goal, her vengeance.
Janette moved around the bar at her old club as if she had never left. While the sun shone outside, The Raven remained, dark, and safe.
Nothing much had changed. Not even the look in Nicholas’ eyes. She poured him a glass of blood and sat down next to him.
“So, what do you think of our new cousin?” She asked with a small smile. Nicholas’ quest for humanity had brought him much pain, and he still had trouble dealing with himself, and others of his kind.
“He’s…intriguing.” Nick admitted. “Not exactly what I expected.”
“No.” Janette agreed. “Michel says he has great power…for one so young.”
“So it would seem.”
“Still,” Janette continued. “He is too young. He has not learned enough about us, about what he is. And yet he speaks as though he knows us. Knows things we cannot.”
“What have you heard?” Nick asked Janette curiously. He had been unable to learn anything of what might have happened with the council.
“He told the Elders a vampire is behind the deaths.” She spoke in a hush, not wanting any of the other guests of the Raven to overhear.
“Do you believe him?”
“Maybe.” Janette admitted.
Angel watched the Kovar demons work their magic on Spike. He watched as Spike tried not to squirm as the magical energy was fed through his body. The other two demons had moved to either side of Angel, as if prepared to stop him should he try to interfere.
He would not interfere. He had made a choice. Maybe not the smartest, or safest choice but it was the only one he could make. He acknowledged the price that he would be asked to pay. He would pay it willingly, despite the threat to the world, and those close to him.
Angel was uncertain what would happen once it was all over but he had to believe the Powers knew what they were doing. He had to trust in their wisdom.
He had no other choice if he was to help his favorite childe. There wasn’t another option. Spike wasn’t like him. He would never adjust to being anything less than a Master Vampire.
He couldn’t be less than he was.
Xander opened his eyes into the darkness. He had no trouble seeing, his vision adjusting effortlessly.
The sun was still out. He could sense it. The room he was in was silent and cold, but neither fact bothered him, nor the knowledge that nothing living dwelled here.
What troubled him more than sleeping during daylight hours, more than feeding on blood, was that something was coming. Something deep and powerful, and more dangerous than any apocalypse he had faced at the side of the Slayer.
He couldn’t recognize what that something was; only that once it came, there was no going back, no fixing what was to come.
He only wished he knew what that was.
Angel watched as his Childe lost consciousness, but didn’t move. He watched warily as Litau turned to him and asked a simple question.
“Are you ready for the price?”
A simple question but one that would have far reaching consequences. For just a moment he hesitated.
Did he have this right? Was it his decision to make?
But then the moment was over and he nodded and closed his eyes.
The Kovar stepped closer to him and he felt the demon’s hands at the sides of his head. The demon’s fingers were warm, almost too warm and the pressure was becoming painful.
Angel opened his eyes and looked into the cobalt eyes of Litau. “Why?” He asked quietly, unable to help himself. Despite his determination to go through with this he had to know why they were doing this.
“That is not for you to know, Champion.” Litau said somberly before he gripped Angel’s head more fiercely, heat rising from the point of contact, causing some lesions to form before quickly healing.
The vampire felt magic surround him. He felt a buzzing sensation reach into his very being, searching, and finding.
There was pain, unbearable pain before everything went black.
One of the Kovar demons watched passively as Angel’s body fell to the ground with a thud. His eyes moved to the other unconscious vampire.
“Is it done?” He asked Litau.
“It is done.” The taller of the demons replied. “You should go before they wake. I’ll stay to be certain the spell holds true.”
Chapter 5: Death Comes Calling
Tracy Vetter was sitting in her apartment going over files from the latest in a long string of bad cases.
She couldn’t sleep. Working the night shift had warped her sense of when she should be sleeping and when she should be awake. She couldn’t sleep when it was dark anymore.
It was weird, knowing about vampires, knowing about Vachon. It should have scared her. It should have made her leery. It didn’t. Instead, it was sort of exciting, and when she really thought about it, it made a sort of sense.
Weird, vampire sense, but sense nonetheless.
What didn’t make sense was her partner.
He was an enigma.
Not for the first time she wondered if he too was a vampire. If he was like Vachon, older than he appeared, having knowledge most people shouldn’t.
But as before, she didn’t question too much, didn’t look too hard because she wasn’t sure she wanted the answer.
A noise outside startled Tracy out of her inner musings.
She stood up from the table cautiously, grabbing her weapon and inching towards the door.
Before she could reach it however, the door was literally removed, and in its place stood a petite girl, a weird smile twisting her lips.
Tracy knew better than most not to take the girl’s appearance at face value.
“Who are you?” She asked warily.
“I have many names.” The girl said with a tilt of her head. Her voice was odd. Girlish, but ageless at the same time.
“Okay. What do you want?” Tracy asked instead.
“Revenge.” She answered simply. She stepped loser. “You’ll do nicely.”
There was a blur of movement and Tracy felt something scrape across the skin at her throat, tearing her flesh. She felt a burning pain as blood started dripping from the wound.
The young woman watched as Tracy fell to the floor, an odd light in her eyes as she licked blood from her fingertips. “It’s a start.”
Bichon entered the room warily. He had been summoned tersely. This was never a good sign.
“You called for me?” He asked when it appeared Michel wasn’t going to say anything.
“Yes. It was brought to my attention that you met someone tonight.” Michel paused. “That wasn’t in your report. I assume this was merely an oversight on your part.”
Bichon felt the urge to cringe. He was an Enforcer, and though young compared to the others, he wasn’t a child, and didn’t like being reprimanded, though Michel’s wording left much to interpretation.
However, the Enforcers were a breed all their own, and one learned early on to detect Michel’s moods. The tone of his voice suggested he was not pleased.
Without acknowledging whether his failure to mention his meeting was an oversight or not, Bichon spoke. “I met with Petreius LaCroix’s Childe. The young one.” His words were carefully chosen.
“He is one of us, is he not?” Michel asked. Bichon didn’t question how the older vampire knew this.
He swallowed tightly before answering. “Yes, he is an Enforcer.”
Michel arched one perfectly sculpted eyebrow. “You are troubled.” He observed.
Though it was asked as a question, Bichon knew it was not. Michel had the ability to read people, demons especially, like no one Bichon had ever encountered.
“He has enormous power.” Bichon admitted finally.
“So I have heard.” Michel nodded.
Bichon need not ask whom he heard this from. Michel’s relationship with Lucien LaCroix’s childe Janette was not a secret. However, she didn’t necessarily have to be the one to inform Michel. The eldest Enforcer had contacts in places some people didn’t even know existed. There was little that happened in the demon community that he did not know about.
When Bichon offered nothing further, Michel stood up and circled the room. “You are worried the young one brings about our end.”
Bichon exhaled slowly. “He was not afraid.” He paused before continuing. “I found him in the Council Library. He knew what I was, and he was not afraid.” Bichon reiterated what he felt was the most important part.
“He was in the library?” Michel asked thoughtfully. “What was he doing?”
“Reading.” Bichon said with what he thought was obvious patience.
“What was he reading?” Michel enunciated carefully.
Bichon thought about that for a second. “The histories.”
Michel raised a brow in interest. “These would be the histories written in the old language?”
Bichon nodded slowly, realization hitting him. “Yes.”
“How do you suppose, a vampire as young as this one, even one of our brethren could read the language?” Michel’s voice suggested he had his own theories.
Bichon didn’t answer the question, instead saying something Michel knew probably better than any other. “We were told no more Enforcers would be made. That our time was at an end. We would no longer be needed.”
“This is true.” Michel acknowledged, allowing the avoidance. “But we were not told why, or how this would come to be.”
“The prophecy.” Bichon began.
“The prophecy says nothing we didn’t already know.” He shrugged. “You worry too much. “This child may or may not be a threat. Regardless, he is one of us now, and there is nothing to be done.”
“No.” Michel shook his head. “No harm must come to him. It is far too dangerous.” Michel looked directly at his youngest childe. “Is that understood?”
“Yes.” Bichon answered automatically, recognizing the tone of his Sire’s voice.
That did not stop the calculating look from entering into his eyes.
Spike awoke to stillness. The sort of quiet that precedes something horrible. He didn’t feel any different but there was only one way to know for sure. He needed to kill something. Something decidedly human. Or if not kill, at least maim.
Looking around the darkened cave, Spike was not surprised to find only one other occupant, aside from the unconscious form of his Sire. The lone Kovar demon stood against the wall of the cave, watching him quietly. Spike turned towards his Sire. He was wary to approach him. At the best of times Angel was dangerous. Even souled and brooding, the older vampire could and would kill, if provoked.
This was likely not the best of times. If the demons were successful, things were about to become even more complicated. He had no idea what he would be facing, or whether he could have made the same decision, if it had been his to make.
Almost as if summoned from the depths of Hell by Spikes musings, the older vampire’s eyes opened, flashing gold.
Spike nodded once, almost to himself. He stood and prepared himself. “Sire.”
“Spike, my boy, how do you feel?”
The voice was familiar, filled with amusement, and arrogance, and a comfortable-in-his-own-skin quality his Sire had not had in a long time. It brought forth memories that Spike had tried to relegate to a dusty corner of his mind. Tried and failed.
Almost against his will, Spike smirked at the taller vampire. “Angelus.”
Chapter 6: Feeling Death
Nick took a seat at the bar, staring at nothing in particular. The club was silent, its variant occupants sleeping, as he had been.
When Natalie had called and told him about the body that had just been brought in, recently killed and mutilated, Nick had thought she was mistaken. He thought…he wasn’t sure what exactly he had thought, but the death of his partner had woken something inside of him.
Natalie had said Tracy’s throat had been torn out, and she had some unusual wounds on her body. Her death was troubling. It wasn’t like when Schanke died. Then he had felt numb, and the guilt was almost overwhelming. This was different. Tracy hadn’t been a friend, just a partner. Plus there had been the matter of Tracy’s obvious attraction for Vachon; not that Nick could blame her.
Regardless of that, Nick was finding that her death meant something beyond the death of another partner. He knew it was connected to the recent deaths in the vampire community. His community.
This complicated things.
No matter how much he wanted to free himself from his bloodthirsty past, to separate himself and regain his humanity. He couldn’t do that. He wasn’t human. Hadn’t been in a long time, and wouldn’t ever be again.
Nick tensed suddenly when he felt a presence behind him.
“Can’t sleep?” The voice asked quietly, moving to sit at a bar stool beside Nick.
“I just got some bad news.” Nick answered just as quietly, hoping not to wake anyone else up and hoping this newcomer would take the hint and leave him alone.
He didn’t. Xander shifted in his seat. “I felt the death, but this wasn’t one of us.” He said, looking across the darkened club.
Nick turned to look at his cousin. “You felt the death?” He asked, unsure what exactly Xander meant. Most vampires could feel death, sense it in a way that humans couldn’t, smell it on the mortals who were close to death, but Nick sensed this wasn’t exactly what the young vampire meant. It sounded as if Xander had actually felt the death, as it was happening. That type of awareness was rare and usually only happened in close bloodlines. This child should not have been able to sense any such thing, especially since the victim was mortal.
Xander didn’t answer. He was still trying to feel his way around these new abilities and realized for some reason he was different. Different from the vampires he had known in Sunnydale, and different from the vampires he had met here in Canada.
Nick turned away from the younger vampire and spoke quietly. “It was my partner, the victim. She was killed…her throat torn out.”
“The blond from earlier? The one sniffing around your lover?” Xander asked, remembering the girl.
“I’m sorry.” Xander offered softly, knowing what it was like to lose people.
Nick ignored the remorse, though he felt it was sincere. “I think it has something to do with…” He trailed off.
“The killings.” Xander finished. “Why Father and I came here.” He nodded to himself and climbed off of the stool. “I agree. You should get some sleep. You can’t do anything until the sun sets anyway.”
Nick felt Xander leave the room, though he wasn’t sure if he had gone back to his own room or not.
The vampire detective sighed needlessly, and listened to the quiet.
“Angelus?” Spike repeated, this time more question than statement.
“Spike, my boy.” Angelus smiled. “It’s good to see you again. It’s been…a long time.”
The demon stepped away from the wall and nodded, pleased. “You must go now. Back to Los Angeles, trouble is coming, you must continue your work there.”
Spike blinked. He had almost forgotten where he was and why they had come. Suddenly, he felt dizzy. Could it be that simple? Could he have his bite back, and his Sire? But if so, why would they be returning to Los Angeles. Surely they could travel the world, raise Hell in other places, far away from Slayers and evil government types.
The younger vampire stopped a second, going over that thought more closely. Was that what he wanted? These past few years had changed him, and though he wasn’t into saving the world, he wasn’t into destroying it either.
“Angelus?” He asked, this time a question of a different sort. A small part of his mind wondered if he could say another word, or if he was stuck with those three syllables.
“Let’s go.” Angelus answered. “We have a lot to talk about.” Angelus turned around and left the cave, knowing his childe would follow.
Michel stared at the door for a few moments after Bichon had left before summoning someone.
A few seconds later a tall red-haired woman with piercing eyes appeared. “You bellowed, sir?” Lisette asked with a familiar smile.
She was one of the oldest Enforcers in what some would term Michel’s entourage. What made her special was that unlike many of the others who frequently traveled with him, she was not of his line. Another had sired her long ago. Yet she had proven her loyalty to him time and time again.
“I want Bichon followed.” Michel said with no preamble.
Lisette nodded, not questioning the order, though it was extremely rare to have another Enforcer followed.
“Also, have someone you trust keep an eye on the young one…Alexander LaCroix.”
Lisette nodded once and quickly left.
Unlike his own sire, long since turned to dust, Michel did not possess the gift of prescience; therefore he could not see what was coming. That did not however prevent him from realizing that something was indeed coming. Whether that something had to do with the recent deaths, their long awaited and feared prophecy, or something else altogether had yet to be seen.
Regardless, Michel recognized that Bichon was dangerous. Dangerous not only because he was an Enforcer, but because he was afraid. Fear was something everyone possessed, whether mortal or demon, even the Enforcers. However, fear was something that could be controlled, that must be controlled. The moment that fear controlled you instead of the other way around, you became a liability.
Here, it was Michel’s job to put a stop to it. Permanently, if necessary.
Xander returned to his bed in his Uncle’s club, but sleep eluded him. He had been right and he wasn’t sure which he found more distressing. That fact that he had somehow sensed this death, though he wasn’t sure how, or because it appeared their killer had now doubled the stakes.
“You are troubled.” Petreius’ voice sounded in the silence of the darkness.
Xander turned his head slightly, and saw the older vampire standing in the doorway to his room. He realized that while he had been lost in his own musings, a part of his mind had recognized his sire’s approach, and therefore was not surprised to find him here.
“Nick’s partner was killed tonight. I…felt her die.”
“Interesting.” Petreius stepped further into the room and shut to door quietly behind him. “You believe it is the same…vampire that has killed the others.”
Xander noticed his sire’s acceptance of his earlier claim but didn’t comment. “Yes.” He sat up in his bed and stared at his sire for a moment. “My…abilities, they’re unusual, even for vampires, aren’t they?” He asked quietly, almost afraid to hear the answer.
“Yes.” Petreius answered honestly.
“Do you know why?” Xander pressed.
Petreius was quiet for a long time before he spoke. “I have a theory, but it doesn’t explain everything.”
“But it does explain some things?”
Petreius sighed needlessly and sat in the chair near the bed. “When I sensed you aboard the train, I could feel your power.”
Xander opened his mouth to protest but then shut it again realizing that if he interrupted, his sire may not explain.
“For a mortal, you were powerful.” Petreius continued, seeing Xander’s question subside. “When I drank from you, I tasted powerful magic, strong primal energy,” He paused, “But there was more…something else.”
“The spell to summon the power of the first slayer.” Xander whispered, more to himself than Petreius.
“You’re powerful.” Xander acknowledged quietly. “Maybe…” He trailed off, hoping that maybe his differences could be attributed to a strong sire, but knowing down to his bones this was not the case.
Petreius shook his head. “That might account for some of your power…this spell you performed might explain some of it as well…”
“But there is more?” Xander guessed.
“Yes.” The answer was as simple and as complicated as that.
“You think I’m an Enforcer, don’t you?”
“I believe,” Petreius said intently, “that you are that, and more.”
“More?” Xander echoed. This conversation was running in circles.
“Perhaps you should speak with Janette.”
Realizing this topic of conversation was closed, Xander nodded and shut his eyes, finally slipping into sleep far easier than he had ever found as a mortal.
Petreius watched him for a second, a small smile quirking his lips. The fond look was hampered by the concern in his eyes. The older vampire stood and moved silently towards the door, stopping once to look back at his childe, realizing Alexander had a dangerous path ahead of him.
Chapter 7: The Enforcers
It was barely dusk when Janette entered Xander’s room, glass of blood in hand. He had been sitting in bed thinking and wasn’t surprised by the entrance.
“Mon Petite, you should eat. There is much to be done.”
Xander took the glass and swallowed without thinking about it. “Janette?” He spoke when he was finished, absently licking his lips and recognizing the taste of AB Negative. He pondered a second that blood types could taste that different. He used to think Spike was being Spike when he made such a production out of it, but no, there was a subtle difference. Who knew?
“Oui?” She sat down on the edge of the bed.
“Tell me about the Enforcers.”
Janette leaned forward a bit, a small smile quirking her red lips. She had suspected this question would come, sooner or later. “What do you want to know?”
Xander turned his head slightly, his eyes piercing hers in the darkness. “Everything.”
“I don’t know everything, Alexi.”
“Tell me what you do know.” He asked, needing to know what he could about something he may or may not be a part of.
Janette sighed. “Very well, mon petite. They have only existed for about a thousand years, maybe a little longer. Their numbers are few. Perhaps one Enforcer to every five-hundred vampires. However, they are faster, stronger, and in most cases far more dangerous. They are universally feared, both by the demon community in general and by other vampires.
“Their nature is to protect our community, from ourselves if need be. This is the reason for their existence. It is said when they awaken, their first hunger is not for blood but for knowledge, for the power that will guide them in their quest to fulfill their duty.” She smiled at him, “But I suppose you would know more about that than I.”
Xander ignored the implication she was making and asked another more important question. “How are they made?” He wanted to understand what about them made them so powerful, so…special.
“The same as the rest of us. No one knows who will be an Enforcer until they are brought across. Some say for a vampire to be made an Enforcer, the mortal he was had to have something demonic in him.
Xander absorbed this. As far as he knew, he had not been a demon before being turned, but he had been possessed more than once and there was that spell to summon the power of the first slayer just before he left Sunnydale.
“If they’ve only been around for a thousand years, where did they come from?” He finally asked.
“No one knows for sure. There is talk that the council created them…to protect us from ourselves, and the mortals. Some say they began as some sort of hybrid between vampire and another type of demon.” She shrugged.
Xander nodded as she stood up to leave. “Janette?” He waited until she faced him again. “Nick told me it was his partner that was killed, that mortal woman who was here sniffing around after Vachon. Whoever is doing this, it’s getting personal. Be careful.”
Janette smiled. “You too, Alexi.” And then she was gone.
Bichon stared after the young one as he got into the car with his sire and Lucien’s offspring. He had heard about the death of the mortal woman and could guess where they were headed. Still, he followed despite Michel’s admonishment; Bichon was not going to sit back and do nothing while this…child brought about their end.
Nick parked his car and escorted his father’s guests into the morgue. He hadn’t been surprised at Alexander’s request to see the body, nor at Petreius’ insistence that he be allowed to do so. However, the vampire detective was unsure how to explain their presence to Natalie.
Though his friend knew about the existence of vampires, there was still much she had no clue about. Furthermore, her assistance in his quest to regain his humanity complicated things. He was uncomfortable about revealing this desire to his new cousin, though he was uncertain why exactly.
Petreius was one of the oldest vampires who still maintained the old ways. He was unlike many old vampires and unlike his own sire, but there were still things they had in common. Their history was one such thing.
Both Petreius and Lucien shared a last name and considered one another brothers but Nick himself was unsure whether they had been brothers before they were turned or if perhaps like Janette and himself, they were simply brought across by the same person.
Alexander was another anomaly. Nick had learned the young vampire had a history with the demonic community long before he was turned, but it was unclear exactly how. Just knowing of that history meant Alexander knew what a vampire was and what it meant to be one and that as a mortal did not fight the change.
What exactly did that mean? Did it mean anything?
The cop was brought out of his thoughts when Natalie met them halfway between the door to the garage and her lab. She stared at the two strangers for a moment before looking at Nick, one eyebrow raised.
“Nat, this is my uncle, Petreius and my cousin, Alexander.” Nick introduced with an inward sigh. He had given up trying to fool her where certain vampire matters were concerned.
“Your…cousin?” She asked slowly, focusing on Xander. Lucien LaCroix had always given her the creeps, and Petreius was no different. However, she didn’t get the same vibe off of this cousin.
“Call me Xander.” Xander offered his hand with his trademark goofy smile. Even as a vampire he could pull off the who me? expression quite nicely. This coroner wasn’t exactly a teenage girl, but in a pinch she would do.
Natalie noticed the coolness of the offered appendage and couldn’t refrain from asking, “How old are you, really?” He looked barely out of high school but as vampires didn’t age he could be more than a thousand.
Xander grinned. “Twenty.”
“Seriously?” She asked surprised, looking into his dark eyes.
“Can you show me the body?” Xander asked, changing the pitch of his voice. There was an odd resonance to his voice and she found herself helpless to deny his request.
Nick watched in annoyance as his friend escorted Xander to the lab where she had autopsied Tracy’s body. He turned to Petreius. “That wasn’t necessary. She would have…”
Petreius raised a hand silencing the younger vampire. “Perhaps, but time is of the essence.”
“She’s not easily hypnotized.” Nick admitted quietly as they followed the other two into the lab.
“He has many…skills.” Petreius quirked his lips. “Watch.”
Nick turned his attention to the lab table. Tracy’s body was still; eyes closed as if in sleep. Xander had put on a pair of latex gloves, though it was hardly necessary, and was examining the wound at her throat.
“No weapon made these.” He looked up and caught Petreius’ eye before turning back to the corpse of a woman he had only seen once before. “Claws maybe, but talons would be my guess.” He turned to Natalie; “Did you do a tox screen?”
“No.” She admitted, trying to take in what the boy was saying and equate it with everything she knew already. It seemed she was missing a few pieces.
“Do one.” Xander said simply. “There’s probably a toxin in her blood.”
“You sure about this, Peaches?” Spike asked uncertainly as they approached the building. His only answer was a snarl, more at the nickname than at the question. “Angelus.” He tried again.
“I’m sure.” Angelus stopped and turned to Spike. “Something is different.”
Clearly. Spike had noticed the difference almost immediately. However, he remembered Angelus’ last return not too fondly and wasn’t eager to ask too many questions he didn’t want answers for. “Your soul is gone?” He finally asked.
There was such a long pause that Spike turned his sharp eyes to his sire. Angelus seemed to be searching inside himself for something. Finally, he turned to Spike, his demon face coming to the fore. “I’m not exactly sure.” With no further explanation, the older vampire stepped into the building.
Spike shrugged and followed him.
Nick walked silently down Toronto’s streets alongside his cousin. Xander didn’t know the area, but he didn’t seem worried, at least not about being in an unfamiliar city. However, he was nibbling slightly on his lower lip, as if in deep thought. Nick thought the habit might have been a holdover from his days as a mortal, but couldn’t be sure.
The two had left the morgue alone. Xander had wanted to wander the city, to think, he said, and Nick had offered to accompany him. Frankly he was curious. There was such mystery surrounding this young one, he couldn’t seem to help himself.
“You’ve done that before?” He asked quietly, referring to Xander’s familiarity with dead bodies and autopsy reports. “What type of life have you lived?” He whispered.
Xander shrugged, his enhanced hearing catching the whispered question. “It’s not for everybody, but it’s the only one I know.” He paused a second, his head tilting, “The only one I knew.”
“And when this is over?”
“I’ll worry about that later.” Xander answered. They were silent for a moment before he spoke again. “You don’t have to keep punishing yourself.”
“Excuse me?” Nick stopped walking and turned confused eyes on the younger vampire.
“For killing. For feeding. It’s what vampires do. It’s what we do. What’s done is done, you can’t change the past.”
“What would you know about it?” Nick asked in irritation as he started walking again.
“More than you think. I know someone. A vampire, not like us.” Xander paused, not sure why he brought this up, brought him up.
“And?” Nick prodded, curious despite himself.
“He was cursed by gypsies.”
Nick’s brow furrowed. “Why?” He asked puzzled.
Xander shrugged. “He fed on the favorite daughter of their clan. They returned his soul. Or at least that’s the way the story goes.”
“Returned his soul?” Nick asked, still confused.
“That’s what he said, what I thought. What we all thought. But now, now I’m not so sure…about the soul thing.” Xander paused before he spoke again. “ I think he’s what we call Effera.”
The dangerous young woman watched as the progeny of her childe and another young vampire walked the darkened streets, speaking quietly to one another. She was too far away to hear what they were talking about, but she was curious about what had them so enthralled.
She watched for a second more before she flew off in another direction. She had other matters to attend to.
More vampires would die tonight.
Nick raised an eyebrow at this pronouncement. Perhaps Xander was too young to know exactly what he was saying. If it weren’t for who his sire was and the current danger, Nick would be surprised Xander had ever heard the word, let alone what it meant.
Nick, himself several centuries old, had met many species of vampire, as well as other demons, and had never met one classified as Effera. He had, of course, heard of them. They were supposedly an anathema to their kind, a danger not only to the mortal world, but the vampire community as well.
Little was known about Effera, except maybe by the council and the Enforcers. They weren’t talked about, and certainly didn’t mix with the rest of the vampire community. As far as he was aware, they didn’t even mix with their own kind. Their sire’s made them, and left them to fend for themselves. It wasn’t even completely clear what made them so different. He wasn’t sure, but he assumed the council had theories. But if so, it wasn’t discussed.
Still, even with his minimal knowledge about the specifics, Nick knew enough to know it wasn’t so much a loss of soul as it was a division of self. The demon took complete control, leaving no room for anything else, save savagery and violence. Nick looked at his cousin and chose his words carefully.
“But he is…whole now?”
Xander shrugged yet again. He sure was getting asked a lot of questions he didn’t have answers to. Normally no one bothered to ask him anything. Giles and Willow were the brains of the outfit. Buffy was the brawn. He wasn’t exactly sure where he fit in, but he supposed it no longer mattered. He could never go back now.
“I’m not sure.” He answered honestly after a moment’s thought. “What I do know is he doesn’t feed on mortals anymore, and he works for”, his voice lowered dramatically, “The Powers That Be.” He smiled wryly, “Helping people, yada, yada, yada.”
Nick stared at Xander, his mouth fighting a smile. “This vampire a friend of yours?”
“A friend? Not so much.” Xander smiled, “but…” He trailed off, unsure what exactly he was trying to say. Finally, he shook his head, “my point is, and I do have one, you can’t change the things you’ve already done. All you can do is move on, accept who and what you are, and what you are is a vampire, who you are is up to you.”
Nick understood what Xander was trying to say, but was puzzled. “You do realize you’re a vampire now, right?”
Xander laughed. “Yes, and don’t misinterpret me. Despite my history and all the times I swore to myself if this ever happened I would stake my self, I won’t, and I’m not planning on dining on cow or pig anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean indiscriminate killing either. Hell, it doesn’t have to mean killing at all.”
“And what about the vampire killing our people?” Nick asked seriously, surprising himself by referring to the vampire community as his own.
Xander raised an eyebrow, partly surprised at Nick’s reference to their community, and partly surprised by the older vampire’s knowledge of his theory.
“You heard about that?” He asked. “My theory?”
“Word travels.” Nick frowned. “You honestly think it’s one of us?”
Chapter 8: Sensing Death
Nick watched as Xander flew off in the darkness. He was reluctant to leave his cousin alone; unsure what things Xander said he had to attend to. Nick had told him not to run off investigating this threat on his own, but the cop had a feeling that his cousin didn’t always do what he was told.
However, Nick had to admit Xander was a vampire and could likely take care of himself. Though he was young, he had power. Power which, if Janette was to be believed, had yet to be tested, and Nick had been around long enough to understand Janette had a better sense of their kind than he did. She always had.
He also supposed Petreius’ appearance here, and by extension Xander’s, was caused by the recent deaths. So, in point of fact, investigating was what he was here to do. Still, Nick didn’t feel comfortable allowing the younger vampire do what essentially was his job.
Tracy’s death made this an official investigation. It couldn’t be kept in the vampire community any longer. Though his captain didn’t think it was wise for him to investigate his own partner’s murder, Reese was wise enough to know he couldn’t keep Nick away. Furthermore, it was now Nick’s responsibility to keep the mortals from finding out the truth. With so many Enforcers in Toronto, anything could happen, and he couldn’t have any more deaths on his conscience.
Sighing heavily, Nick looked up as he felt the approach of another vampire.
“Hey.” Vachon spoke softly after he landed, placing a heavy hand on Nick’s shoulder.
“What’s up?” Nick asked, smiling slightly, remembering he had things of his own that needed attending to. “I thought you were going to the club.”
“I was…Urs didn’t show up tonight though.” He stepped closer, “So I decided to come looking for you instead.” Vachon answered as he leaned closer and kissed Nick.
Their lips brushed and Nick let Vachon help him forget things for a while.
Xander closed his eyes as he flew over the city and let his senses seek out what he was looking for, though he wasn’t exactly sure what that was. He hoped he’d know it when he found it.
His enhanced hearing reached out to the city below, sifting through the various sounds, his sense of smell joining it. An odd scent drifted up. He paused in flight, just drifting in the air. Slowly, he lowered himself to the ground, trying to pinpoint the scent.
His eyes opened suddenly and his gaze narrowed, his eyes turning gold without his realizing it. He located the elusive scent and tracked it to the warehouse district.
Somehow he was not surprised. Why did these things always end up in some abandoned warehouse?
He stopped outside the building, trying to determine if there was anyone inside. He could detect no heartbeat, but that only meant no living mortal was inside.
Xander sniffed the air cautiously. The scent of death lingered, but it was difficult to determine how old it was. Shrugging, he decided he might as well go inside and find out.
Treading carefully he moved towards the side of the building looking for a way to enter that wouldn’t draw too much attention in case there was someone inside.
It didn’t take long. He found a broken window on the second floor in the rear of the building. Flying up, he fit his body carefully through the opening, careful not to cut himself on the jagged glass.
He wasn’t concerned about being injured, but that the scent of blood could give him away if someone was inside.
After he had made his way inside, Xander took a look around, not moving. His enhanced senses effortlessly adjusted to the darkness. He listened carefully, trying to determine if he was alone. Cautiously, he moved towards the ground floor, his eyes moving swiftly in the dark, sniffing the air.
Xander found the body on the bottom floor. This close to the body, it was easier to detect how long it had been dead. If he had to guess, he’d say she’d only been dead a couple hours.
Xander knelt down by the body and sniffed carefully. The woman, blond, and young in appearance, was a vampire, or at least she had been. The only sign anything had happened to her were the deep scratch marks on her left cheek.
He placed a hand on her throat, where her pulse point would have been, had she been alive and not a vampire. He barely registered the iciness of her skin when an image flashed behind his eyes.
It was the same woman, mortal, singing in a saloon of some sort to avid admirers. Xander watched, perplexed as the woman’s life played out before him in a series of images, showing her being brought over, and the sorrow she had felt at waking not to find herself dead, but immortally undead. The images continued like snapshots, until they reached the end, and for the first time Xander saw the face of their killer.
Xander was careful when he moved the body from the dirty floor of the warehouse to his uncle’s nightclub. He wasn’t sure why he didn’t just take it to Nick’s coroner friend. Except for the fact that this victim, like all the others before Tracy, had been dead long before they were murdered. Something supernatural was definitely going on.
What could kill a vampire, and yet not turn the body to dust? What left deep scratch marks that had no time to heal? Most importantly, who was the owner of the face in his vision?
He stared at the still body of the most recent victim as if her body could shed some light on this mystery. Her eyes were closed now, but he remembered the sorrow he had seen in them before. Her death was apparently long overdue.
Xander turned around at the sound of his uncle’s voice. Lucien looked from Xander to the body lying across the couch in his private office and back to Alexander. “I assume this isn’t dinner.” He said with a sardonic smile.
“Not exactly, no.” Xander motioned towards the body. “I found her at a warehouse not far from the medical examiner’s office.”
Lucien stepped closer to the body and lifted her head towards him so he could get a better look. “I’ve seen her before. She sometimes sings with the band. Her name is Ursula, I believe.”
“Vachon brought her across.” Xander nodded.
Lucien raised an eyebrow only mildly surprised his brother’s latest progeny could sense that much. “Does anyone else know?”
“No, not yet.”
“Michel will need to be told.” Petreius stated quietly from the doorway, where he had been observing.
“I know. I’m going to see him now.” Xander moved towards the doorway. “Don’t let anyone in here until I return. Especially Nick.”
Lucien watched the child leave the room and turned to his brother. “He has a lot to learn about our ways.”
“If you are referring to his casual disregard for your authority, you forget, Brother, that I was summoned here to get to the bottom of this madness. Alexander is doing that, far better than Nicholas or you have done thus far.”
“Alexander is special, I will grant you. However, he has much to learn, Petreius.”
“Perhaps, but it is not for you to say when or how he learns those lessons.”
Lucien turned towards the door. “I must be attending to my guests. Lock the door when you leave.”
Petreius locked the door behind his brother to keep any unwanted visitors out and turned towards the body lying still on the couch. This latest victim had the same deep scratches as the mortal woman. This was the second victim who was connected to Lucien, through Nicholas.
That couldn’t be a coincidence.
Michel listened intently as Lisette finished her report.
“Bichon has not heeded my warning I see.” Michel said quietly.
“As you anticipated, no doubt.” Lisette commented dryly. Clearly Michel would not have ordered the young Enforcer followed if he did not expect a problem.
“True.” Michel turned towards Lisette and frowned slightly. “The woman that was found, where is she now?”
“Alexander LaCroix took him to the Raven. Our sources have been unable to identify her due to the fact we cannot get close enough to the body for identification purposes.”
“He left the club. I believe he is headed here.”
“Interesting.” Michelle stood up and moved towards the large window. “Prepare the room. It looks as though young Alexander might be ready for a history lesson.”
“Yes sir.” Lisette backed out of the room, leaving Michel alone.
Cordelia looked across the table at the two vampires. The two vampires without souls. She kept trying to wrap her head around the whole idea of Angel willingly sacrificing his soul, for Spike. It seemed sort of surreal.
She had always understood their relationship was far more complicated than it appeared. Well, maybe always was too strong a word. But since coming to Los Angeles she’d had a better understanding of the demon community in general and Angel in particular.
She could just about accept Angel had to help Spike, according to some weird vampire code. She could even accept that the demons responsible would want Angelus out as payment. They were demons, after all. However, the point she was having trouble with was that the PTB wanted it this way. What reason could they possibly want for having Tall, Dark and Creepy running around unchecked?
These demons that performed the spell, Kovar demons, Angelus called them. According to her own sources they did in fact represent The Powers That Be. Therefore, the Powers obviously wanted this to happen, but why?
“Cordelia!” Angelus snapped, after trying unsuccessfully to get the seer’s attention.
“What?” Cordelia’s eyes narrowed on the vampire. “I’m thinking.”
Spike snorted and pulled out a cigarette. Cordelia grabbed it out of his hands before he could light it. “I don‘t care if you are the Big Bad, again, there is no smoking inside. Period.” She turned her narrowed gaze back to Angelus. “So, obviously the PTB have some sort of master plan, which of course we have no idea about. So long as you and Junior keep away from snacking on the locals and stay far away from my neck, we don’t have any problems.”
“Just your neck?” Angelus couldn’t help but ask, with a slight leer.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Okay, you two, out. Go find something to do, preferable away from me so I can figure out how exactly I’m supposed to explain this to Mr. and Mrs. Bickerson.”
Angelus grabbed Spike and headed up the stairs, knowing from Angel’s experience of the past few years pissing Cordelia Chase off was not a good idea.
Cordelia heard Spike’s confused “Who?” And couldn’t help the smile that lit her lips, just for a second as Angelus mumbled something about Wesley and Gunn.
Xander made his way through the darkened city streets towards the hotel. Janette had told him that Michel had a suite at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. He had never been to such a high-end hotel before, but he seemed to be doing many things he’d never done before.
He could sense the presence following him, and was unsurprised when he realized it was the Enforcer he had run into in the library at the Council meeting. That guy was going to be trouble, he could feel it.
Right now however, he had more pressing concerns. Janette had been unable to answer all his questions regarding the Enforcers. His conversation with Petreius had only brought more questions. Xander’s Hellmouth-sense told him that whatever was going on in Toronto was tied into not only Lucien LaCroix’s past, but Petreius’ as well. It also seemed the Enforcers were stuck in the middle of the whole ugly mess.
Michel was the one person he’d heard about since coming to Toronto that he felt might clear up some of his questions. Besides, it was well past time he met the man who seemed to be both hated and feared by the general vampire community, and yet loved by Janette.
Chapter 9: The Meeting
“You must be the new vampire I have heard so much about.” Michel stated as he stepped into the room, eying Xander with curiosity, noticing the way Xander was taking in his surroundings.
“Where I come from new vampires are not uncommon.” Xander said as he moved towards the older vampire, sizing him up.
“Nor are they unusual where I am from.” Michel nodded towards the couches in the living area.
“I’m sensing a but.” Xander grinned slightly. “Is there something unusual about me in particular?”
Michel poured them each a glass of a thick red substance as he watched the young vampire. Though Xander had phrased it as a question, Michel could tell from the look in his eyes it was really a statement.
“There is, as you have no doubt realized.”
Xander took the offered glass but didn’t sit on either of the two couches. “I didn’t come here to talk about me.”
“Didn’t you?” Michel smiled as he took a seat on the other couch. “But there is so much you don’t know about yourself. So much you don’t yet understand.”
Xander raised an eyebrow. “And you are prepared to tell me? Everything I always wanted to know about Alexander LaVelle Harris but were afraid to ask?” The younger vampire smiled sardonically. “I don’t think so. You may know more about what I have become than I do, maybe more than my father even knows, but I sense I have become even more than you have words for.” Xander leveled an intense stare on Michel.
Michel nodded once, imperceptibly. “You sense much.” He shrugged as if the statement was inconsequential, and moved on to more urgent matters. “You want to know about the Enforcers, and how they are connected to the recent deaths.”
“What can you tell me about them?” Xander asked taking a drink from his glass.
“What have you been told?” Michel countered.
“Only that they are a special breed of vampire, whose function it is to keep our secrets from the mortal world, using any and all means necessary, as well as to protect us from ourselves, when required.”
“That much is true.” Michel acknowledged.
“Janette said that the Enforcers are out-numbered among our kind, yet instill fear. She also mentioned not much was known about their origins.”
“That is not entirely accurate. Our origins are known, but only to us.” Michel’s lips twitched slightly. “Our ways are not the ways of others.”
Xander stared at the older vampire for a moment, sensing there was something Michel was leading up to, but could not detect what that something was. He realized with mild surprise that Michel was the first vampire he’d come into contact with since his turning whom he couldn’t read easily.
He turned away from the man and looked once more around the room, eyeing the hotel’s idea of art dubiously. “As fascinating as all this is, that’s not what I’m here for. I came to discuss the recent deaths.” Xander didn’t turn to face Michel although he was using his new senses to detect any shift in the other man’s behavior.
“Another vampire was killed tonight.” He stated after a long moment with no reaction.
“I know. I have been informed her body was brought to the club your uncle runs.”
Lucien LaCroix stood silently over the body and mused that time did have a way of coming full circle. Perhaps not in a human’s lifetime, but then their lives were transitory. Vampire lives however could span centuries, longer if the vampire was both intelligent and devious.
This girl may not have been either, however her killer was both. He could still feel a faint trace of evil surrounding the dead vampire. An evil both sinister and familiar.
“It is her, isn’t it?”
Lucien looked up, across the body to find his brother standing in the doorway. He nodded once. “I believe so, yes.”
Petreius stepped further into the room, closing the door shut behind him. “How? I thought she died long ago.”
“It seems I was…negligent. I had assumed that was the case.”
“Assumed? Did you not watch her turn to ash?” Petreius asked sharply. “When I asked of her fate, did you not tell me that she would trouble the world no further?” He turned his sharp eyes to Lucien. “You trusted in what…the fate of mortals that she would not escape whatever imprisonment you left her to? We are not mortal; our lives are not so easily dismissed!”
Lucien snarled at the tone as well as the implied blame. He did not strike out at the older vampire, as he would have done had anyone else dare to take that tone with him. However, Petreius was not only not someone else, he was also correct.
“I was naive.” Lucien stated quietly.
“Perhaps, but to kill the one who made you is not such an easy thing.” Petreius allowed.
Lucien shrugged. “What now? Will you tell Alexander who she is?”
Petreius did not answer. Instead, he ran a hand over the lifeless body before him. “This has become personal. If we do not put an end to it soon, both our childer shall suffer.”
“You seem to know a lot.” Xander raised an eyebrow.
“Perhaps, but you know much as well.” Michel paused, gauging Xander’s reaction, “You have a theory, do you not? Something about a toxin fatal to our kind? You also believe it is a vampire who is responsible.”
“I do.” Xander admitted. “Though I have no proof.”
“Perhaps not, but your theory stems not from a fanciful notion but from some information you have gathered.”
“True.” Xander acknowledged. “According to the Egyptian authorities, the man in Alexandria died from blood poisoning caused by an unknown toxin. According to the report the council sent my father, the demon in Izmir, Turkey also died from an unknown toxin. There was an incident with a Vorloth demon in Naples as well. All three of these victims died instantly of unknown toxins.” Xander stared levelly at Michel and raised an eyebrow. “I haven’t had access to any of the other bodies except detective Vetter’s and the woman killed tonight, but I will make a wild guess and say every victim was scratched, by claws or talons of some sort. I believe that is how the toxin enters the bloodstream.” Xander paused and weighed his words carefully, something he wasn’t used to doing. “All three of those cities are located near the Mediterranean, and all three show evidence of a western movement. I can only conclude the killer came here with forethought.” He eyed the older vampire carefully, gauging his reaction. “Our killer is old, and she is angry with my uncle. Perhaps he sired her and left her behind.”
“She?” Michel asked curiously. Nothing they had found had pointed to the sex of the killer.
“You know who the killer is?” Slightly surprised by the certainty in the other vampire’s voice.
“I have seen her face.”
Michel watched Xander carefully for a moment before the full impact of his words hit him. “You have the gift of sight.”
Xander smiled wryly. “I don’t know that I would call it a gift, but I did have a vision.”
Michel stood up abruptly. “Come with me, Alexander. I have something to show you.”
Xander followed the enforcer out of the room.
Angelus watched as Spike smoked a cigarette and paced back and forth across the balcony doors to the room he had claimed as his own. The younger vampire hadn’t said anything specific but Angelus guessed the agitation had more to do with some unfinished business in Sunnydale than it did with anything that had happened since they had left.
Both Wesley and Gunn had taken the news rather well once Cordelia explained the situation. Although Gunn refused to be alone in the room with either vampire, it was a better reaction than Angelus had expected.
This whole thing hadn’t been anything like what Angel had expected when he realized what the price for helping Spike would be. He had assumed it would be like those months in Sunnydale all over again. The blinding rage against what the gypsies had done to him, as well as an irrational hunger to destroy Buffy and everything she held dear. Instead, he felt more like something that was lost to him all those years ago had finally been returned, and he was now a complete person, whole, instead of the division he’d fought with for over a century.
What was even more odd was that Buffy hadn’t even entered his thoughts at all until he started cataloguing the differences between what he expected, and what he actually got.
“Stop it!” Angelus finally growled after Spike’s strides became too much.
Spike glared at his sire but did stop the erratic movement, choosing instead to lean against the balcony and stare out over the city lights. Finally, he spoke.
“Something is wrong.” Spike said quietly. “Something is brewing, something dark.”
Angelus sprawled a little more comfortably in his chair. “There was a time, William, when that would have been cause for a celebration.”
Spike turned to his sire with a sardonic look. “You remember that night after we slaughtered that clan of Necru demons? Demon blood never tasted so sweet, so good.”
“It was something to be savored.” Angelus agreed a little wistfully.
“Those days are long over, Sire.” Spike admitted quietly. “These past few years have changed me. Those demons have changed us both.” He threw his cigarette butt over the railing and returned inside. “Do you not feel it? The difference?”
Angelus nodded. “I do feel different.” He looked thoughtful for a second. “Perhaps those demons did more than we were led to believe.”
“We should find out.” Spike said as he fell back against the bed.
“Tomorrow.” Angelus agreed as stood up. “I can think of a few other things that we might entertain ourselves with right now.”
Spike smirked at the look in his Sire’s eyes. “Entertain away, old man.”
Michel led Xander into another room on the same floor. He unlocked the door with his key card and took a heavy case out of the closet. The case appeared to be made out of steel, titanium or a similar strong metal. It reminded Xander off those cases you sometimes saw handcuffed to people in the movies.
Setting the case on a low table in the middle of the room, Michel used a key he wore around his neck to unlock a small lock on the right side of the case. The left side held a combination lock. He turned the dial, first to the right, then the left, and then back to the right. There was a barely audible click before Michel opened the case and stood back so that Xander could see inside.
The case was nearly empty, containing padding and something that seemed to be delicately wrapped. Xander turned to look at Michel and raised an eyebrow before turning back to the case. “May I?” Xander asked, moving to pick the item up.
“Certainly. It is your destiny.” Michel answered wryly,
Xander blinked once at that answer but lifted the item out gently and began to take off the wrapping carefully. He stared blankly at the item in his hands. It was a piece of vellum if his years hanging around Giles had taught him anything. There were swirls of a demon language hand-printed across the surface.
“What is this?” Xander asked, scanning the pattern of letters. It was strange and yet familiar at the same time.
“The history of our people.” Michel answered simply, watching Xander carefully.
“Vampires? The history of vampires?” Xander asked. He had thought he had heard that story more than once from Giles. Not to mention the books he had read in the Council library.
“Not vampires. Enforcers.” Michel corrected.
Willow paced back and forth in her dorm room. Every time she passed her desk, she stared at the bowl of water sitting there, daring her to come closer and do what she wanted. She was worried about Xander.
He had called her every week, like he promised, but there was something off about his last phone call. He was hiding something from her, and that was never good. She had argued with herself about whether she should violate the promise she had made to Xander about never using magic on him without his permission. But if Xander was in some sort of trouble, and she didn’t do anything, she would never forgive herself.
Making her decision, Willow approached her desk and gathered up the supplies she would need for the spell.
Sitting on the ground, Willow made her circle and began to weave her magic.
Chapter 10: History Lessons
Xander looked up at Michel, arching a brow. “The history of the Enforcers is different from the history of Vampires?”
Michel smiled slightly. “Let me tell you a story. Long ago the world was in chaos, demons were not the only creatures to roam the earth. All manner of beasts existed. In time, many of these became extinct. Some because they were not strong enough to survive, some because they were changed by those around them.
One such creature was a vampire who lived millennia ago. He was a Kovar demon. Have you heard of them?”
Xander shook his head. In the past few years Giles had him research many, many demons, but he couldn’t be expected to remember them all. Or to be honest, any of them. Sunnydale was still a world away. A world he knew he would have to address sometime soon, but for now he was still just trying to adjust to his new status. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever return home, and he just wasn’t ready to face that yet.
“I’m surprised.” Michel said in response to Xander’s headshake. “I had heard you know the current Slayer.
Xander blinked, wondering what Buffy had to do with this. “Both of them.” Xander admitted cautiously, not sure where this was going.
“Kovar demons are single-minded in their purpose, which differs to any other demon species in that their lives are forever intertwined with beings from another plane, which some refer to as the Powers That Be.
“These beings are charged with the task of maintaining the balance between what mortals think of as good and evil. They are instrumental in guiding certain champions to ensure that certain catastrophes are averted, while other events are allowed to play themselves out.”
Xander raised an eyebrow. “Okay. What does this have to do with the Enforcers and this particular Kovar demon?” He paused remembering something. “Wait, you said this guy was a Kovar demon, but you also said he was a vampire. Which is it? I know vampires are demons, of a sort, but I have never seen a demon that became a vampire.”
“Long ago, it was not uncommon for more than humans to be turned. It is now forbidden.” Michel answered honestly.
“Why?” Xander asked, curiously. From what he had learned in the past few years Vampires didn’t seem to respect any sort of rules or authority. Of course he had realized rather quickly that the vampires he had known were not the only ones in existence, and other types were much more concerned about their secrecy.
“This demon, his name was Meloché, and he changed the rules for hybrids, forever. Sometimes when demons are turned, they keep most of their demon traits, sometimes they lose them. For Meloché he had an equal blending of his Kovar and Vampiric natures.”
Michel motioned towards the vellum, still in Xander’s hand. “That is his skin.”
Willow let the breath leave her as the last words of her spell reverberated around the room; she looked into the bowl of water and watched. Small ripples began to swirl in the small pool until an image began to form.
She could see Xander. He was facing away from her, and he appeared to be in a small room, with another man in a well-tailored suit. They seemed to be discussing something, and Xander was holding something in his hands. From the angle it was hard to see what it was. Suddenly, Xander stilled and turned his head around, his eyes searching the room. It was almost as if he could sense her, which was impossible.
She watched the expression on his face, trying to see if she could see if anything was wrong, just by watching him, the way he moved, the look in his eyes. He looked different. It wasn’t just the way he was dressed, but the the way he held himself. He appeared distant, almost. She didn’t recognize the look in those dark eyes, she almost didn’t recognize him.
“Oh, Xan.” She whispered to the bowl of water worried about what may have happened to change him.
The reflection staring back at her twitched, almost as if the man had heard her. Then his eyes narrowed, pupils dilating, and shifting color.
“Willow?” The voice asked. It was Xander’s voice, but she no longer recognized him as her friend, not with glowing demon eyes and vampire fangs.
The witch gasped, realization dawning. Her Xander was gone, replaced by this…demon.
If Michel was expected Xander to be wigged out by touching the skin of a dead demon, he would have been disappointed. Xander had spent too many hours in Sunnydale going over dusty old tombs, and rifling through demon chronicles to be freaked out by something as simple as skin. Demons tended towards the macabre and personal when creating their chronicles. Still, this was interesting.
He looked more closely at the ancient text, swirls of writing he couldn’t quite read, but yet again, seemed oddly familiar.
“What does it say?” Xander finally asked, quietly as if the answer was some secret.
“You tell me.” Michel countered.
Xander was about to protest he couldn’t read whatever language it was in, but when he took a closer look at the patterns of letters, and focused, they started to coalesce into a pattern he could understand.
Xander’s eyes went back to the words written in what he now realized might have been blood, and tried to follow the flow, but without having any sort of context it was hard to understand. If he lost his concentration, even for a moment, the patterns ceased to make words he could interpret.
Xander remembered being able to read the histories in the library the day of the council meeting and though at the time it had seemed a little unusual, he had figured it was another one of his new abilities.
This however was different. Here he had to concentrate on the words, and even then, it wasn’t so much that they translated into something that he understood, but that the symbols and patterns were inherently familiar. As if they were something he had known but had somehow forgotten.
“What exactly is this?” Xander finally asked, looking up at the older vampire.
“Can you read it?” Michel asked, intrigued.
“Yes. No…sort of.” Xander admitted in confusion.
“It is our history.” Michel answered. “The history of Enforcers, how we came to be, and the fate that awaits us.” He looked into the younger vampire’s eyes, silently urging him to accept this truth.
Suddenly, Xander tensed and turned away from Michel and the velum in his fingers. His eyes searched the room, as if he could sense some disturbance. Michel looked around, sending his own ancient senses out, trying to detect something that might have drawn the younger man’s attention. He could find nothing unusual.
Still, the young vampire looked around the room, his gaze finally settling on a section on the wall. Michel could see nothing, but Xander was still staring intently, as if he could, in fact, see something.
“What is it?” Michel asked, not doubting that this young vampire might be aware of something that he could not sense.
Xander ignored the older vampire, though he was aware of the man’s curious gaze. He could have sworn there was another presence in the room. A presence that was at once alien and familiar.
Before he could question the sensation, he heard his name whispered, and then he knew why the presence was both familiar and decidedly unusual. “Willow?” He asked quietly, not knowing how he could feel her or why he could now see her, as if she were staring at him through a hazy two-way mirror; He only knew it was his Willow.
His eyes narrowed at the vague image and he could feel his face shift as his vampire features came to the forefront. He saw Willow gasp before the image dissolved and he could no longer sense his old friend.
“Alexander?” Michel asked when the boy failed to respond.
Xander stood still for a moment trying to relocate the sense of Willow, but it was gone. He turned back to Michel, his eyes returning to normal as he focused on the parchment again, pushing the odd event to the back of his mind. There was nothing he could do about Willow now, and he didn’t want to share this experience until he had a better idea of what it meant.
“Where did this come from?” Xander asked returning his focus onto what was happening now and not on what may have happened a few minutes ago.
Michel watched Xander for a moment before answering.
“Meloché went to see an oracle many years ago. This part here,” Michel pointed to a section of the velum, where the swirls and patterns looked slightly different from the rest, “is what she told him. He had her words carved into his skin, along with his own story, after I swore to spend my immortality making sure they would come to pass.”
“So it is a prophecy, then?” Xander asked, sighing. Why was there always a prophecy?
“Yes.” Michel answered. “You should also know that while the prophecy isn’t a secret among the Enforcers, you are the first that has been able to decipher the language without any outside assistance.”
Xander looked at the patterns again, concentrating on the small section that he could now tell were separated into several lines of squiggly lines, which he could somehow read more easily the longer he focused on it.
Time moves on and we stand still, though we do more than maim and kill
Our brethren live in darkness and shadow, our only defense
Comes a time when those who Enforce will be no more, but all is not lost as before
From ancient last to ancient first, the heart will lift our curse
Through loss and power gained, he is all that will remain
After several long moments, Michel pointed at what amounted to the fourth stanza of the prophecy. “I believe you are the heart it speaks of.”
Willow sat stunned staring at the innocuous bowl of water. Xander was a vampire. Her Xander was a vampire. She didn’t know what to do.
Was there anything she could do?
Sure, she could tell Buffy and they could cry and eat ice cream and maybe go and kill some things, but what good would that do? At the end of it all, Xander would still be a vampire.
Besides, she couldn’t tell Buffy. Buffy would want to stake him. Or, maybe want wasn’t the right word. She would feel duty-bound to stake the thing that had set up house in Xander’s body. But, demon or not, Willow couldn’t let that happen. She knew that there was some part of Xander still in there. He had recognized her, sensed her. What the hell was up with that anyway?
No, she needed to figure out exactly what had happened to Xander before she told Buffy. Which meant Giles was out too.
Who could she go to?
After a moment’s thought she picked up the phone and with shaking fingers, dialed.
Lucien began his radio show with more hesitance than he had ever felt before. There was something dark coming; something he could feel like a heavy weight. His brother’s arrival in Toronto was like an omen. The Council hoped that calling an emergency session and summoning Petreius would somehow stop what was coming.
The recent events had made him think about his life, where he came from and the childer he had made. His thoughts shied away from that long ago time in the tomb of Imhotep and the life he had taken on that day.
“A child’s Innocence and purity knows no bounds. Neither does its cruelty when evil comes upon its soul.” He said in the mesmerizing voice he used to bewitch his listeners.
The light alerting him to a caller blinked and he pressed the button hoping for more of a distraction than his own thoughts could provide.
“Hello, Lucien. It’s been a very long time.” The voice on the line was familiar and sent a frisson of dread through him.
“Shouldn’t all good little girls be in bed by this time?” He asked, maintaining his calm.
“But I’m not that kind of girl, you know that. But do you know what it’s like be betrayed by your own child? To be left alone in the darkness? Hmm…I didn’t think so, but you will know soon enough, as your friends die and the fear of death drives those still alive away from you. Then you will understand how it feels to be betrayed and alone.” She disconnected the call, leaving Lucien feeling like everything he held dear was about to disappear. He had known Petreius was correct. This killer was her, but to have it confirmed, was unsettling.
Xander stared at Michel. The heart? That was the part he had played in the spell to summon the first Slayer. That couldn’t be a coincidence, could it?
“What exactly does that mean?” Xander asked.
“No one is really sure. Only that Enforcers would only be needed for a relatively short period of time, and that time is apparently over.”
Xander blinked not sure exactly how one could come away with that theory from what the prophecy said.
“The legend goes the last Enforcer would be brought over in the year 998. After that time we would Enforce until the prophecy came to pass and we would no longer be needed.” Michel said.
“Legend?” Xander didn’t put much stock in legend. Once upon a time legend said that only one slayer could exist at one time and then there were two. Not to mention a lot could happen in a thousand years.
“Meloché had the gift of sight. It was one of the Kovar abilities that held over after the turning. He foresaw that Bichon would be the last Enforcer made, and that once the oracle’s prophecy came to pass we would no longer be needed in that capacity.”
“Bichon?” Xander asked. “That guy from the library?” If Xander was the Heart from the prophecy that might explain why that guy didn’t like him. He was destined to bring about the end of the Enforcers. Not that he put much stock in destiny.
“Okay, say I buy this prophecy is true, and that I am a part of it, I’m still not clear on how this Kovar demon being turned changed the rules for vampires or how it ties into the recent deaths.”
“The Kovar protect the balance of this world. It’s the purpose of their existence. By turning one, it brought vampires into that purpose. Meloché saw there would come a time when demons didn’t walk among the world so freely, when we would have to hide, and to do so effectively we would have to have rules. He created the Enforcers. The first ones were vampires he made. It was the duty of his first childe to ensure these rules were followed; that the secrecy of our world was maintained.” Michel answered, watching Xander closely.
Xander looked at the vampire curiously. “That’s your job.” He said needlessly. “Meloché was your Sire.”
Michel nodded. “Several years after the Enforcers started to make their presence known a vampire took exception to the rules and turned a Valkosian demon.”
Xander winced. He’d run up against one of those once in Sunnydale. They were not friendly. They were vicious and bloodthirsty and all the more dangerous because they could pass for human.
Michel smiled slightly. “I see you know the species. The turning did not go well. The hybrid is…less controlled than the vampires you’ve met here. We call the result the Untamed.”
Xander blinked. He’d read about them in the library. “They still exist? I mean, enough that you have a name for them? That Valkosian wasn’t the only one?”
“No, sadly it became like an epidemic. Now we separate ourselves from their like. They don’t understand our laws, or our ways.”
“So, what you just let them roam around killing people willy-nilly and don’t do anything?” Xander asked bitterly, thinking of Jesse and all the deaths back in Sunnydale.
“No, we did the only thing we could. We created our own hybrid. Someone built and bred to hunt them. I believe you are familiar with the Slayer?”
“Who is she?” Nicholas asked sharply, confronting LaCroix after the show was over. “Did you make her?”
“You still listen to the show. I’m honored.” Lucien said, avoiding the question.
“LaCroix.” Nicholas snapped.
“She’s my daughter.” Lucien answered quietly. “She saved me when Mount Vesuvius blew.” He explained about how Divia had been cured by a foreign visitor and offered him immortality when death approached in the form of a volcano.
“And what then?” Nick prompted, knowing there had to be more
“The one who made her was ancient. She killed him. I trapped her in a tomb.” Lucien didn’t want to give more information than was strictly necessary.
“And now she wants revenge.” Nick sighed.
Petreius stared at Ursula’s body for a long, long moment before turning away. This girl was young, barely a few centuries, but her death was so senseless. They were all so senseless. Just as his would be, as Lucien’s would be, if they didn’t find a way to stop the madness before their Sire was done. He’d known it was her the moment Alexander had told him of his vision.
“What do you think of my handy work?” Divia asked quietly.
Petreius started at the sound of the voice. He hadn’t felt her approach, hadn’t sensed another in the room, which under the circumstances should have been impossible. He should have felt her, even after all this time, there was still a connection between them.
“Divia.” He said as he turned.
“You remembered me, how touching.” She said with mockery as she stepped closer. “I would be touched as any mother should, if I could feel such things. Lucien robbed me of that. Did he tell you what he did to me? How he left me to die in that tomb while you were off traveling the new world?”
“He did.” Petreius acknowledged, ignoring her dig at what she thought of as his abandonment. “This madness must stop. You are killing our kind.”
“Not my kind.” Divia tilted her head. “Can’t you feel it? I’m not like these children who play in the dark. You used to understand that.”
“What do you want? Why are you doing this?” Petreius asked taking a step closer to her. “To punish me for leaving you and Lucien alone? To punish Lucien for leaving you to rot? To punish us both?”
She placed a deceptively gently hand against his cheek. “Because I can.” Then her talons extended, tearing into his flesh. The blood ran down his cheek in thick rivulets and she swiped her tongue against it. “You were always like a fine wine, Petreius.” She closed her eyes against the flavor. “I am sorry you have to die.”
“Then why?” He asked softly as the toxin started to course through his borrowed blood.
“Because, dear son, you’d never let me near Lucien otherwise, and he must pay.” She said sadly.
“Someone will stop you.” Petreius said with certainty, thinking of Alexander and all the things he would never had the opportunity to teach him.
“Perhaps, but you will not be around to see it.”
Chapter 11: The First Confrontation
“Slayers were created by vampires?” Xander said, incredulous. The idea was bizarre, and yet it made sense, if everything he had read about the Enforcers was true, and the way they seemed to revile the ones they called Effera was even partially accurate.
Michel shrugged as if the reasoning behind such a thing was obvious.
“So, did Meloché tell you why Enforcers would no longer be needed?” Xander asked. “The prophecy doesn’t specifically say the Enforcers have to…die.”
Michel smiled. “Very good. The prophecy is ambiguous which has led to some wild speculation.” He smiled more sadly at the remembrance of his long dead sire.
“Meloché said someday we would no longer live in secrecy, but before that time came there would be a time of great danger in the human world, where demons and champions would have to work together. The only way for this to ever be is a joining between the two worlds, our world, and the world of the mortals, a combining of forces between the darkness we protect and the champions the Kovar control.”
“Buffy considers herself a champion.” Xander said idly. “Though I don’t suppose you would consider her one.” He thought about other champions in the world, people who fought the darkness, people like Cordelia. Were her visions from these Powers That Be? Before he could ask, a blinding pain brought him to his knees.
“Alexander?” Michel asked in concern, watching the younger vampire clutching at his head, his features rapidly shifting between his vampire and human visages.
Xander took a deep breath and stood on shaky legs. “I have to go.”
Michel watched warily as the boy moved far quicker than the human eye would have been able to track. He secured the vellum and reentered the main part of his suite before summoning Lisette.
“Yes?” She asked.
“Something has just happened. Send someone over to the Raven. I want to know what is going on, and find Bichon, if he is somehow responsible…” He left the threat unvoiced.
The vampiress hurriedly left to do as Michel asked.
“We’ve got trouble.” Cordelia said as she entered the office.
“Have you ever heard of knocking?” Spike snarled from where he was lounging half-dressed against the couch.
Cordelia rolled her eyes, not in the least intimidated despite the damage Spike could do, if he so chose. “Willow called. Xander’s in trouble.”
Spike stood up abruptly and fastened his pants. Angelus tossed him his shirt as he came out of the bedroom. “What sort of trouble?”
“He’s a vampire.” She said, looking from one man to the other. “Okay, just for the record, I want to watch, just once.”
Angelus blinked. He wasn’t even going to ask.
“He’s a what?” Spike asked, not sure he had heard correctly.
Cordelia rolled her eyes again. “A. Vampire.” She said slowly.
“How?” Angelus asked shortly.
“I don’t know. She saw it.” The seer shrugged.
“She saw it happen?” Spike asked. He had only been gone a little over a week. How could the boy be in trouble already?
“No. She did some sort of spell and saw him. He was all…grrr.” She made a face which Spike assumed was supposed to represent vampirism but just looked like constipation.
“Why was she doing a spell on Xander?” Spike asked tensely. He thought there was an agreement about that.
Cordelia shrugged as if it didn’t matter though her shoulders were tense. “Xander left Sunnydale a few weeks ago. Willow was a little…hysterical, but from what I could tell he was supposed to check in, and Willow just felt like something was wrong so she…”
“Thought she’d do a little mojo as backup?” Spike asked. He didn’t begrudge the little witch her magic, but he was always a little leery of it at the same time. Too many years with Dru and her mad schemes could make a man careful of such things.
“You don’t seem…upset.” Angelus noted. He knew there had been a bad breakup between Xander and Cordelia but she seemed entirely too calm.
“To be honest I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” She said.
“You don’t believe the witch?” Spike asked. He couldn’t say he was the closest of friends with the Slayer’s groupies, but he didn’t see the witch lying about Xander.
“Let’s be honest, her spells, don’t always go as advertised, and if it was a real threat, don’t you think I would have gotten a vision?”
Angelus looked at the girl. She had a point, and yet. “Unless there is nothing we’re meant to do about it.”
Cordelia frowned. “That would mean the Powers want Xander to be a vampire. Why would they want that?”
“I don’t know.” Angelus said. “We better get to Sunnydale and find out what Willow knows.”
Cordelia nodded. “She doesn’t want Buffy or Giles to know anything until we find out what’s going on.”
“Fine with me.” Spike agreed. “We should probably not tell her about the whole no soul, no chip thing either.”
Angelus didn’t answer but he agreed. A confrontation with Buffy was probably not a good idea, especially if Xander was in some sort of trouble.
“Leave.” Xander said, his voice barely above a whisper as he gently traced the lines on Petreius’ face, the skin motionless beneath his fingertips.
“Xander.” Vachon said quietly, uncertainly standing in the doorway to the room. He wasn’t sure what to say, but he promised Nick he’d stay with Xander until someone else showed up.
Xander snarled without turning. “I said leave!.”
Vachon froze. The boy was young, but right that second he seemed more powerful than most vampires Vachon had met in his many years.
Janette placed a gentle hand on Vachon’s shoulder, and nodded at him to leave.
“Alexi.” She spoke quietly, not wanting to disturb her young cousin.
“She did this.” Xander whispered.
“Who, mon petit?”
“I don’t know.” He answered, ashamed and embarrassed. He had felt her presence, sensed her evil, seen her in a vision, and still he didn’t know.
“Her name is Divia.” Lucien informed them as he entered the room. “She made us, long ago.”
Xander looked up, his dark eyes more haunted than one could imagine for only having known Petreius for such a short time. “Then why?”
“Revenge.” Lucien answered. He approached the body cautiously. “May I?”
Xander nodded, moving slightly to allow the older vampire access.
“She’ll be coming for Nicholas next.”
Xander stood up. “Then I’ll be waiting.”
“Divia.” Nick said not surprised in the least to see the vampire in his apartment. After LaCroix had explained who she was and Vachon had called and told him what happened to Petreius he knew he would be next on her list. She would save LaCroix for last, perhaps even keep him alive and alone.
“If he told you about me, you know why I’ve come.” She said stepping into the light of the room.
“You’ve come to kill me.” Nick acknowledged.
“You are LaCroix’s son. Your death will be the final blow.” She smiled. “I admit you are not quite what I expected.” She shrugged. “But no matter, you can fight me, but you’ll lose.”
“You think so?” Nick asked, his own fangs elongating as she approached.
Before she could do more than raise her arm to scratch she was forcibly pulled away and flung across the room. Nick looked up at the newcomer in surprise. “Xander.”
“I’ve got this covered, cousin.” The younger vampire said, never taking his eyes off the deceptive appearance of the young girl.
“Who are you?” Divia asked as she stood, wiping a small bit of her own blood from her mouth where she’d bitten herself when she fell.
“Alexander LaCroix.” Xander said, using his sire’s name for the first time.
Divia stepped closer and inhaled. “Petreius’ childe? You smell…different from the other mongrels here, in this time and place.”
Xander smiled, though it was not a nice smile and nothing resembling the grins his human-self had worn. “From where I stand, you’re the mongrel.”
Nick watched in dismay as the two faced off. He wanted to interfere, step in and fight Divia himself. Xander wasn’t old enough, or strong enough to handle her, but he knew that he had to give his cousin the opportunity.
Chapter 12: Planning
“He sensed me somehow.” Willow said as she finished telling her guests from Los Angeles about what happened when she cast her spell.
“When did you talk to him last?” Spike asked as he exhaled a cloud of smoke.
“A couple of days ago. He sounded…off.” She admitted, sitting on her couch. She looked from one vampire to the next, before turning confused eyes to Cordelia. There was something different about Angel but she couldn’t place it. Maybe it was just seeing him and Spike in the same room together without bickering, but she was definitely getting a vibe.
“Off how?” Cordelia asked, trying to draw Willow’s attention. She did not want the redhead to figure out about Angelus and Spike, at least not until well after they had returned to Los Angeles.
“I don’t know, exactly. He said he had met someone of interest. He told me not to worry. But it seemed like he was trying too hard.” She tried to put a name to the weird feeling she’d gotten on the phone with Xander.
“Met someone? Like a guy? A boyfriend type guy?”
Both vampires turned to look at Cordelia incredulously. She snorted. “What, you thought I didn’t know? Please, I’ve known Xander a long time. I know his taste in women, and men, and I also know which he prefers.” She shook her head and turned back to Willow. “What happened when he actually left Sunnydale? Did you guys have a fight? What about Anya?”
Willow blinked at the barrage. She had almost forgotten how Cordelia just sort of attacked. She was a lot like Anya that way. Maybe she had a point about Xander’s type.
“Nothing happened. He just wanted to get away for a while. Things were rough after the fight with Adam and the Initiative. We cast that spell and he decided to take trip. We didn’t have a fight. Him and Anya kind of split, but it wasn’t bad, she wasn’t trying to curse him or anything.” She trailed off, not sure what else to say about that. Xander’s relationships were always complicated. “Regardless, I think he just needed some time.” Willow said, trying to express the distant feeling she had gotten from Xander just before he had left Sunnydale.
“He wanted to belong.” Spike said quietly, remembering how easy it had been to separate Xander from his friends during the whole mess with Adam and how isolated the boy had seemed. “He didn’t feel like he belonged with your lot anymore.”
Willow opened her mouth to argue but just sighed instead. “He’s right. We, uh…drifted apart. Even after Adam and the Initiative were destroyed he seemed…far away.”
“And now he’s a vampire.” Angelus growled. “How exactly did that happen? He knows better than to let a vampire get that close to him.” He remembered the way Xander had kept him at arm’s length when he lived in Sunnydale and didn’t think whatever had happened to the boy in the past year, his mistrust of vampires was probably still prevalent. He eyed Willow speculatively. “You said he met someone?” He did not want to think about Cordelia’s implication, not now when Xander’s fate was still unknown.
Willow looked from Cordelia to Angel. “It wasn’t a boyfriend.” She said sternly. Her gaze turned back to Cordelia. “I know Xander too, and I know how he is with people he…has feelings for. This was different.”
“Who cares who this bloke is?” Spike said at last, blowing out an unneeded breath. “The question is where he is now, and does he actually need our help?”
Willow took a deep breath and focused on the problem at hand. Spike was right. “I can try the viewing spell again, but last time he knew I was watching.”
“Can you do a different type of spell?” Spike asked.
“What kind of spell?” She asked, focusing on Spike.
“Locator spell.” Angelus answered, knowing that watching Xander wouldn’t do them any good if he needed help. “If he is in some sort of trouble, we’ll need to know where he is.”
Willow nodded and began to gather the supplies.
Divia scratched Xander across the throat, drawing blood, hoping to slow him down. He snarled but otherwise showed no sign that the injury affected him. He launched himself at her, his fangs elongated.
Divia bit Xander in the arm, tearing through flesh and muscle down to the bone. The pain was intense and he tried to push her away, his other hand around her throat, fingers digging into her flesh. Her grip was tight though and didn’t let up.
Nick saw that Xander was losing his hold on her, his fingers slick with blood, and she was going to take advantage of the opening. He grabbed Divia and pulled her away from his cousin and tossed her towards his fireplace. She hissed as her arm was slightly singed by an escaping ember.
She stood up and snarled as Nick went to Xander’s side to see if he was okay. There was blood dripping on the floor from the wound on his arm. Nick could see exposed tissue and bone and knew that he would need fresh blood to heal.
But first they needed to deal with Divia.
He turned around to face her, but discovered she was gone.
Willow opened her eyes from within the circle. “He’s in Toronto.”
“Canada?” Cordelia asked nonplussed. “What’s he doing there?”
Willow shrugged as she stood up. “I don’t know but he seems to be staying in one place so, if we hurry we should find him.”
“Toronto is a big place.” Spike pointed out. “Can you narrow it down?”
“Probably; when I’m closer to him.” Willow looked away from the group. “What will we do when we find him?”
“Help him.” Cordelia said as if it was obvious.
“And if he’s really a vampire?” She asked, fearing the worst.
“What difference does that make?” She motioned towards Angelus and Spike. “I’m sort of getting used to the blood drinking, and weird hours, not to mention the random nakedness.”
Willow blinked at the girl and then turned her eyes to the two vampires, both of which were currently glaring at the former cheerleader.
“We’ll leave at sunset.” Angelus stated before Willow could even comment on Cordelia’s observations. “The sun is almost up. We’ll have to stay and sleep here until it sets. Do you have some blankets?”
Willow went to the closet and began pulling out bedding.
“She’s gone.” Nick whispered as he handed Xander another bottle of the special blend of human blood he kept on hand for when he was seriously injured.
Xander drank the blood and tried to sit up. He could feel his bones knitting back together and knew the skin regrowth would be next. “She’ll be back. She wants you dead.”
“I know.” Nick said quietly. “Come on, you need to rest.” He tried to lift the younger vampire.
“No, I have to go.” Xander let Nick help him up but he had no intention of resting. There just wasn’t time.
“You need to rest.” Nick insisted. “You’re not at full strength yet.”
“And with any luck, neither is she.” Xander pointed out. “She strong. I’ll have a better chance if I can catch her before she heals.”
Nick looked at his cousin carefully. The younger man was less enraged than he had been earlier, though the anger was still present. It was clear he was thinking though and not just reacting; whatever Nick thought about his chances, he knew Xander was right.
“How will you find her?” He asked with a sigh.
“Take me back to the Raven.” Xander told him.
“How is returning to the Raven going to help? You don’t think she’ll go there, wounded as she is?”
Xander shook his head. “No. But when your friend died, I had a vision when I was examining the body.”
Nick nodded, understanding what Xander was thinking. “You think if you do the same with Petreius you’ll have another vision.”
“Maybe.” Xander shrugged slightly. “At this point it’s the only idea I’ve got.”
“Fair enough.” Nick decided in Xander’s condition driving was their best option and helped Xander downstairs.
“What has happened?” Bichon asked from his position on the hotel couch. Michel had recalled him and demanded he stay put. Since then, Lisette had entered with some news that had surprised Michel, though Bichon couldn’t tell from his position whether it was good news or not.
Lisette looked at Michel and at his subtle nod she stepped closer to Bichon. “Petreius LaCroix is dead.”
“What? How?” Bichon asked in surprise.
“It was the same killer as the others, but that is all we know.”
Bichon looked to where Michel stood staring at the moon outside. “We need to do something, Sire. This has gone on long enough.”
“We are doing something.” Michel said quietly.
“What are we doing?” Bichon asked angrily.
Michel turned his gaze to his often troublesome childe, his dark eyes fathomless. “We are waiting.”
“For what, exactly?” Bichon asked through gritted teeth.
“You may not like it, Bichon, but the time of the prophecy is at hand. Now we can do nothing but wait.”
Bichon scoffed. “Wait? For that…boy to do what exactly? Whoever this killer is, they are strong, Sire. Petreius was no weakling, and whatever powers this Alexander has, he is not old enough to combat such power!”
“We shall see.”
Chapter 13: Seeking Visions
“So, what’s new?” Willow asked suddenly, turning towards Cordelia. The two of them had been relegated to the backseat while Angel drove from the small airport the vampires prefered to use, Spike in the passenger seat. The flight had been spent warily watching the two vampires, waiting for a fight to break out, worried it would cause an incident. When it was apparent the two were not going to cause a scene, Willow tried to relax. That had only last long enough for them to land in Canada. Now she was nervous again and decided that maybe she should try and distract herself, at least until they got close enough for her to cast another locator spell.
Cordelia snorted and turned to the other girl. “Demons, visions accompanied by blinding headaches, and an appalling lack of a social life. How about you? “
“Um, demons, school, and…well there’s Tara.” Willow answered.
“Hmm. I guess that covers everything then.” Cordelia said.
Willow motioned towards the front of the car. “What about them?”
“What about them?” Cordelia asked.
Willow leaned closer to the other girl and whispered, “Is it just me or is there something…different about them?”
“You mean because they’re not trying to kill each other?” Cordelia whispered back, though she knew perfectly well the vampires could still hear them.
“Yeah, and Angel seems…” She hesitated not sure what to say.
“It’s probably the sex.” Cordelia said succinctly. The last thing she needed was Willow figuring out that Angel was really Angelus, well sort of, and that Spike’s chip was no longer operating, especially while they were stuck in a car in another country.
Willow’s eyes widened and she looked at the vampires more closely. “They’re…” She made a hand movement which was supposed to indicate sex. “But what about…”
“It’s not an issue.” Cordelia stated before Willow could finish her sentence, knowing that Angel’s soul was going to be an issue that come up repeatedly, especially when dealing with people who had seen the craziness that was Angelus…before.
“You mean because he doesn’t love Spike?” Willow asked sympathetically.
Spike let out a low growl, indicating that whispering or not, the conversation wasn’t going unheard by its subjects.
Willow watched with fascination as Angel placed a hand on Spike’s shoulder, his grip firm. For a moment she thought he was going to hit the younger vampire, but after a moment, Spike seemed to relax and Willow turned wide eyes to Cordelia, who was smiling slightly.
“I don’t think that’s why.” She answered Willow’s earlier question. Seeing the confusion in the redhead’s eyes, she made a decision. “A while back, we had a run-in with some demons, as payment for our services; they…cemented Angel’s soul.” She said quietly. It wasn’t a complete lie.
After all, Angel and Spike had a run in, of sorts, with the Kovar, and from what Angelus had said it seemed less like they had removed his soul and more like the soul and the demon had come to some sort of…agreement. Cordelia wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, except that Angel, or Angelus, or whatever he chose to call himself, was still a champion, and that was the only thing she cared about.
Willow stared at the back of Angel’s head, as if she could see this change in the line of his body. “Well, that’s good then.”
Xander sat alone in Petreius’ room. This is where Lucien had moved the body, primarily to keep it away from prying eyes. Xander appreciated that. He wasn’t sure how he would have reacted to return to the Raven only to find strangers gawking at his father’s corpse. A corpse that by all the laws of vampires shouldn’t exist. What was it about Divia’s attacks that caused the bodies to remain frozen in some sort of stasis as opposed to turning to dust as they rightfully should?
Xander looked as Petreius, so still and cold. Though technically the man had been dead for more years than Xander wanted to even contemplate, this was somehow different. He remembered the wisdom Petreius had in life, or unlife as Spike was fond of referring to the nature of vampirism, and how he had taken Xander’s knowledge at face value, never doubting what he said, or thinking Xander didn’t know what he was talking about.
Xander didn’t know what he was going to do now. Once this was over, where would he go? He had known from the moment he’d woken up as something other than human that he could never return to Sunnydale. He could never again be a slayerette. He was beyond that now. What then? He could be like Angel, and help people, but that seemed like a vague idea at best. He remembered what Michel had said, about the prophecy and how one day vampires would no longer live in the shadows of the mortal world.
Before then though, Michel had said, there would be a time of great darkness, where champions of the light joined with those in the dark. Is that what he was meant to do? Join the two sides? How? He could barely manage to hold onto his old life’s ideals while he embraced his new one. Maybe that was the key.
Regardless, if Divia wasn’t dealt with it was all pointless.
Xander placed his hands, now completely healed just over his father’s corpse, trying to remember the power Petreius had exuded. He closed his eyes and focused all his energy on Divia. He remembered her small frame, and the coldness in her eyes. He remembered the feeling of fury and betrayal that had surrounded her.
Suddenly, a new picture formed in his mind. Divia, crouched low, keeping herself still, as she tried to stay hidden. Slowly the image expanded to include her surroundings. She was in the attic of a rundown old building. He recognized it from his search through the city when he was looking for Ursula’s body. The lower floors of the building were being used as some sort of commercial storage and had frequent traffic. The attic though was abandoned.
She must be hiding there while she regained her strength. That meant he didn’t have much time.
Xander opened his eyes and stared at his hands, glowing red with power. He could feel the heat leeching from them as if he was some sort of comic book reject. Cautiously he lowered his hands onto Petreius still body, his fingers making contact with cool flesh. Not entirely certain what he was doing, Xander focused his attention, and the energy from his hands into his father’s body. He watched in surprise, as the heat flowed easily from him. After a moment Petreius’ body was glowing softly as well, then slowly it began to burn, eventually turning to ash.
Xander stepped back, looking at his hands in shock. The skin was no longer glowing, and if he hadn’t witnessed it himself, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Huh.” He murmured to himself. “That wasn’t in the brochure.”
Nick paced back and forth across the still and silent dance floor. The club was officially closed and anyone who had a safe place, was advised to go there. This was about to get extremely complicated. In the vampire world, complications always led to death and destruction, no matter how secretive they tried to be.
Soon news of Petreius’ death would reach others in the vampire community and rituals would need to be performed. None of which could take place if Divia was still a threat.
His pacing was circumvented when Xander appeared at the top of the stairs. “Bring me the rest of the victims.”
“Why?” Vachon asked curiously. He had just entered the club and wasn’t entirely certain what was going on.
“It’s time to burn the bodies.”
Chapter 14: Burning
Vachon watched the body turn to ash and looked appraisingly at the vampire responsible. “I’ve been around a while, and that’s a trick I haven’t seen.”
Xander shrugged. “Yeah, well…” He looked across the room at Nick. “Who’s next?”
“That’s everyone.” Nick answered. “Unless the council is holding on to some of the bodies.”
“We don’t hoard our fallen.”
Xander looked up at the new voice, simultaneously surprised and unsurprised to see Bichon standing at the top of the stairs that led into the room Xander was using to dispose of the dead. “I’m sure that’s not what Nick meant.” He said easily, looking sideways at his cousin.
When he turned back, Bichon was much closer.
“Can I help you with something?” Xander asked, eyes narrowing. He didn’t have time to deal with this guy.
“Michel said you had decided to destroy the evidence. I thought I’d come and take a look for myself.” That wasn’t completely what Michel had said. And the fact that Michel had allowed him to leave meant either that he trusted Bichon not to disobey his orders, or that he had taken steps to ensure Bichon followed orders. Bichon was uncomfortably aware it was probably the latter.
“There’s no point in doing otherwise. We know who is responsible now.” Xander continued to stare at the older vampire. “You think we should hold onto their corpses until they are more decayed than even vampires ought to be?”
Bichon turned to the other vampires in the room. “You’re dismissed.”
Vachon smirked slightly as Nick scowled. Enforcer or not, Bichon was out of touch if thought an order like that would get rid of them.
“Now.” Bichon hissed, turning away from Xander to look at the other vampires.
That was his first mistake. Xander placed one hand around Bichon’s left wrist, feeling the heat flare out, enough to alert Bichon to the danger if not actually cause any harm. “I’m not sure if you got the memo, Bichon,” Xander hissed, fangs elongated, “But you are not in charge here.” His grip tightened slightly. “Now, I ask again, what do you want?”
Vachon watched the battle of wills. He had met few vampires that would openly challenge an Enforcer. Even Nick only did it when the life of a Mortal was at stake. This young one was turning out to be more interesting than he had anticipated.
“I don’t trust you.” Bichon said finally.
Xander let go abruptly and took a step back. “That’s probably wise.” He said honestly. “Once, I would have said that any vampire who trusted me deserved to be dusted.”
“And now?” Bichon grit out. He was well aware of Xander’s former life as a helper to the Slayer. Since the Slayer was nothing but a tool it didn’t concern him. However, Xander had abilities that were uncommon if not unheard of. He could be the destruction of them all.
Xander looked away. “We’ll see.”
Willow placed her hands over the map of Canada and said the incantation. They were still an hour or so away from where she had guessed Xander to be but she wanted to make sure he was still in Toronto.
“Well?” Spike snapped. He had no patience for waiting around.
“He’s…close.” Willow said at last. “And agitated.”
“You can tell that?” Angelus asked, surprised. Willow hadn’t wanted to do the view spell again; afraid that if Xander knew they were coming he would leave. She hadn’t said anything about being about to sense anything about the boy’s emotions.
“I couldn’t before, but at this distance? Yeah.” She said quietly. Her sense of Xander was different from what she was used to. It was distant somehow, different from the boy she had known all her life.
“What’s wrong with him?” Cordelia asked from where she leaned against the trunk of the car.
“I don’t know.” She looked across the vehicle at the other girl, sharing their concern. “Something happened. He’s angry, but also sad.”
“You can tell all that from this?” Spike motioned towards the map. He didn’t put much stock in Mojo but he’d seen his share of it.
“I can’t explain it.” Willow shrugged.
“Come on, we need to get moving.” Angelus said at last moving back towards the driver’s side of the car. There was no use speculating. His demon was getting anxious. The closer they got to their destination, the more uneasy he became. Whatever was waiting for them, it wasn’t good.
Cordelia watched the two vampires. They were getting edgier the closer they got to Toronto, and she wasn’t sure what would happen once they arrived. She almost wished she’d get a vision. At least then she’d know what to expect.
“I want to know what you plan to do.” Bichon said into the silence.
Vachon and Nick had finally left after it was clear Xander could take care of himself and he refused to allow this child to do anything that would ultimately harm their people.
Xander looked at Bichon in irritation. “I plan to kill her.” He said.
“And then what?” Bichon pressed.
Xander sighed unnecessarily. “I’m not after your job. I don’t want to be an Enforcer.”
“You don’t get a choice in that.” Bichon hissed. How dare this young one deny what he was.
Xander flew across the room faster than even Bichon could track, his hands going across the other vampire’s throat. “You do not get to tell me what choices I have.” He hissed, his anger flaring brightly, for a moment.
He stepped back abruptly, realizing too late that his anger had fueled his new-found power and the heat had radiated out of him without restraint. Bichon’s body flared red for a second before turning to dust. Xander stared in shock at the pile at his feet. He honestly hadn’t meant for that to happen.
Michel looked up from his examination of the velum. He was hoping that another examination would give him a clue as to what was coming.
The idea was futile at best. He’d had many, many years to examine this piece of ancient history. If it had not yet given up its secrets, it never would.
He felt the shudder that meant the loss of one of his line and sighed. “Bichon.” He whispered. He had hoped Bichon would get over his fear and animosity for the newest to their kind. Clearly that hadn’t happened.
Perhaps his death was for the best. If Bichon couldn’t accept the change that was coming, it would only end badly for them all. Still, Bichon was the last of his childer and as such held a special place in his long dead heart.
He stood up quickly. There were rituals that needed to be followed.
Xander stared at the ash that was all that remained of Bichon and sighed. He took the time to place Bichon’s ashes in a crystal container that was under the bar and placed it in the center of a high table, where it was sure to be noticed.
Then Xander flew out the window before either Nick or Vachon could come to check on him. He hadn’t meant to kill Bichon, but he could only find the tiniest bit of remorse for his final death. He wasn’t sure if that was because he was still filled with such anger and sorrow for what Divia had done to Petreius or because Bichon was an ass.
Either way, he would have time to analyze these new feelings, or lack of them later. Now, he had to find Divia. She wouldn’t be holed up in that warehouse for long and he couldn’t afford to be distracted further.
Chapter 15: The Second Confrontation
Xander entered the attic quietly. He could still sense her so he knew she hadn’t fled to safer ground. Whether that was because she was too weak, or because she wanted to fight him again, Xander didn’t know.
“Have you come to finish me off?” the words were quiet.
Divia stood in the middle of the room, eyes glowing in the darkness.
“Did you expect anything else?” Xander asked approaching her carefully. He could still smell the slight taint of blood on her, but didn’t fool himself that any wound she may still be suffering would hinder her any.
Divia smiled, though it wasn’t in any way pleasant. “No.” she took a step closer. “You know, I didn’t want to kill him. He never betrayed me.”
“And yet,” Xander tilted his head to the side slightly, “his loyalty didn’t keep you from attacking him.”
Divia smiled wryly. “Petreius and Lucien were always close,” she took another step closer. “Did you know they’re actually brothers? I turned Lucien, but he refused to leave Pompeii without his beloved brother. There we were, the city in ruins, people dying, and the great general won’t leave without Petreius. I should have known then he would be trouble.” She shrugged, “I too was young once.”
Xander backhanded her before she had even finished speaking, “let’s finish this.”
Divia smirked and kicked out at him. Xander sidestepped the move. And jumped over her and grabbed her from behind, his arm going around her throat in a chokehold. He tightened his grip, “if I was more like you I’d make you suffer, but I just want you gone.”
Divia dug her fingers into his arm as she kicked his shins trying to get him to release his hold. She didn’t need the air he was blocking, but having him at an advantage just wouldn’t do.
Xander’s leg started to buckle and he released his grip on her throat. She turned around quickly and hissed at him. Her hand reached out and scratched his face. He could feel the skin tearing, the blood starting to drip. He could even sense the poison in her touch.
“He’s close,” Willow said as she opened her eyes. Doing the location spell repeatedly was beginning to tire her.
The car windows were rolled down and both vampires were sniffing the air. “Here,” Spike snapped, his fingers tightening on Angelus’ arm, “That building.” He moved his head towards a rundown building on the right.
Angelus stopped the car and the four of them got out, Angelus moving stealthily. Cordelia ran to catch up with him. “Are you sure he’s here?” Cordelia asked, making no attempt to keep her voice down.
“Shut up,” Spike hissed coming from behind her. He could hear a scuffle and words, but the voices were low.
“Don’t you tell me to shut up, William.” Cordelia snapped, her use of his given name meant to irritate him.
Willow followed the trio and sighed. She knew the bickering would start sooner or later.
“If you don’t be quiet, he’ll know we’re here,” Willow pointed out.
“He’s a vampire. He probably will know anyways,” Cordelia countered in irritation.
“Be quiet. All of you,” Angelus snarled, vampire visage coming to the fore as he entered the building. The noise he could hear was coming from the attic. He could hear what sounded like a fight, and Xander’s voice, low and angry.
He picked up the pace and the others followed him, still arguing, though more quietly.
Xander blinked as his eyes began to water then he snarled, “perhaps you’re not aware, but your toxin doesn’t work on me.” He grabbed her right wrist and twisted until he heard the bones crack.
Divia hissed in pain, “I’ll just have to do it the old fashioned way then.” She kicked out at Xander, her foot making contact with Xander’s leg.
He stumbled and she took advantage, pushing him to the ground. The fingers of her left hand dug into the skin at his collarbone and she leaned closer, her tongue licking a stripe across his cheek. “You taste like him,” She whispered, “just a little bit.”
Xander’s hand reached out and gripped her throat, his claws digging into her flesh until he could feel her blood coating his fingers. He moved her away from him and stood, lifting her off the ground. “You are one twisted bitch,” he said with a shudder, “you killed him, and yet you seem to…care.”
“We are vampires,” she snarled as if the very idea of caring was anathema.
Once, Xander would have thought the idea of vampires caring, even about their own kind, was impossible. He’d learned a lot about vampires since then. “We’re vampires, not monsters,” he said quietly, tightening his grip on Divia’s throat causing her eyed to widen.
“Do it.” She hissed.
Xander was about to do as she asked when there was a commotion from somewhere behind him, to his left. Xander recognized the voices arguing amongst themselves but didn’t dare lose his focus on Divia.
“Xander?” Willow asked in shock as she pushed her way into the room, watching her old friend as he held some poor girl by the throat, “what’s going on?”
“You shouldn’t have come here, Wills.” Xander said, his eyes still boring holes into the other vampire’s. He could feel Willow’s confusion radiating from her body like a living thing.
“Stay back,” Angelus hissed as he grabbed Willow before she ventured too close, “she’s a vampire.” He nodded towards the girl in Xander’s grip.
Willow gasped as she got a closer look at the girl and noticed her gold eyes and elongated fangs. She took an involuntary step back and bumped into Cordelia, who was watching quietly but for once had nothing to say.
“Who’s this then?” Spike asked as he stepped further into the room, “she’s a pretty little thing isn’t she?”
“Spike.” Xander smiled slightly, the smell of whiskey and cigarette smoke more welcome than he’d thought it would be. “Angel,” Xander said, not raising his voice. “This is Divia, my grandmother.”
Angelus took a step forward, intrigued by the incongruity of the girls’ youthful appearance and the ancient power which radiated from her. “She’s very old,” he observed.
“Vermin!” Divia spat out, smelling the taint of humanity on them, her eyes going from the two new vampires to the boy which held her, “kill me if you’re going to.”
“If you insist,” Xander gritted out. He closed his eyes for a second, feeling the ancient power filling his body just like it had all the times before. Heat swept through him, pouring through his hands and into Divia. Her body stiffened before flaring red briefly, and then she was gone. Xander looked down at his now empty hand and at the thin coating of ash drifting to the floor.
“That never gets old,” he whispered, more to himself than the others in the room.
“Xander!” Willow called out, shocked. Cordelia gripped her arm tightly preventing the witch from moving too close.
Xander sighed and looked at his oldest friend. He wasn’t sure what he could tell her to explain what had just happened. He wasn’t even sure if anything could. Finally, he shook his head. “What are you doing here? He directed his question to Angel, because seeing the look in Willow’s eyes was more than he could take just then. His eyes narrowed on the older vampire for a moment, sensing…something.
Realizing what was different, he turned his eyes to Spike, “is this a new development?”
Spike shrugged, “it was the price, “ he answered and his tapped the side of his head, indicating where the chip had been.
Xander nodded once and walked past Angelus and towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Cordelia demanded, following.
“The Raven,” Xander paused on the stairs. “I assume you want answers and you’re not the only ones.”
“The what?” Spike asked, following Xander.
“It’s a club not far from here.” Xander answered as he reached the front door. “They’ll have fresh blood.”
“Is it safe?” Cordelia asked shrewdly.
Xander paused as he looked his ex-girlfriend over. She had changed since the last time he’d seen her, and if he wasn’t mistaken there was a slight hint of the supernatural cloaking her now, just like he could feel Willow’s power in a way he couldn’t before. “You’ll be fine if you don’t wander around.”
“I meant for you,” Cordelia said curtly correcting her old friend. He may be a vampire but that didn’t mean he didn’t need looking after. “The sun will be up soon.”
Xander grinned at her, “It’s a safe house of sorts. I’ll be fine. You and Willow should be careful though.”
Chapter 16: Explanations
Nick watched as Xander entered the club followed by two mortal women and two vampires. He stared hard at the two vampires. There was something…off about them. They were keeping an eye on the two humans as well as Xander, while still looking around the room cautiously.
Xander seemed outwardly as if he didn’t have any concerns, but Nick had gotten to know him well enough to recognize the tightness around his eyes and to notice the intensity on his face.
Xander looked briefly at Nick before turning to Lucien who was standing at the top of the stairs. The younger man tilted his head slightly. “It’s done.”
“I know.” Lucien nodded once before turning and leaving the room.
“What’s done?” Willow asked, her eyes looking from the older man who was leaving and then back to Xander, who had a strange expression on his face she couldn’t read. “Who was that man?”
Xander sighed and turned to face his oldest friend. He knew he could not deal with Willow’s questions on top of whatever was going on with Spike and Angel. It would be infinitely better to get Willow and Cordelia out of the room, preferably to somewhere safe before he did or said anything else of importance.
“ Lucien LaCroix. I guess you could call him my uncle. I told him that Divia was dead.”
“Your uncle? But you only have one uncle, Rory.” Willow asked, confused.
“He means in terms of his vampire family.” Cordelia answered placing a hand on Willow’s arm. “Or the creepy vampire guy just adopted Xander here.” She smirked at Xander, feeling slightly better now that she knew most of the people in the room. Plus she didn’t think Xander would let anyone near them who would bring them harm. Vampire or not, he couldn’t have changed that much. She looked from Xander back to Willow. “I’d guess either that man, LaCroix was it, was either turned by the same person who turned Xander’s sire, making them family in the vampire way, or that LaCroix and Xander’s sire were siblings when they were still human, which would make them related but in a different sort of way.” She looked at Xander with a raised eyebrow, hoping he would back her up, or at the least let them know if either of those were true, and if they were which ones.
“It’s both actually.” Xander said with a wry grin. He was more than a little surprised by how much vampire knowledge Cordelia had picked up on. He supposed it was necessary when dealing with Angel.
However, Xander didn’t recall Buffy doing any research on Vampire family relations before, not even when Drusilla first came into the picture. He supposed things were different now.
Willow was staring at Xander, her brow furrowed as she added things up in her head. “That girl, Divia, you said she was your grandmother. If your…Sire and LaCroix were vampire brothers,” She hesitated not sure she was saying things correctly, “Does that mean she is the one who sired them?”
Xander stared at his old friend for a moment and then nodded once. There was no way to keep his two worlds separated, and clouding the issue now by lying about things they had already witnessed seemed pointless, especially if he wasn’t going to return with them to California.
Nick’s first reaction was to follow Lucien. They had their own family issues they should discuss.
However, as much as he’d like to escape Xander’s mortal family drama, he still wasn’t sure about these vampires that traveled with the mortal girls and whether they proved to be dangerous. He stepped closer to his cousin. “Friends of yours?” He asked lightly, nodding his head slightly in their direction. He heard the growls emanating from the two new vampires the closer he got to Xander but ignored them.
Xander smiled slightly. “In a manner of speaking.” He turned around and faced Spike and Angel. “Nick, this is Spike,” he nodded towards the blond, “and this is the vampire I told you about, Angel, well sort of.” He finished as he focused on Angel.
Angelus narrowed his eyes at Xander, not sure exactly what Xander was referring to, but nearly positive he didn’t like the idea that Xander had been discussing him.
Nick looked at Angel closely, remembering what Xander had told him what now seemed like a lifetime ago. He didn’t look especially guilt-ridden. His eyes moved to the other vampire, eying him closely as well. When he realized why these two vampires were different he took a step back, slightly alarmed.
Spike smirked, not understanding Nick’s reaction but enjoying it nonetheless. He wasn’t sure what to make of this vampire. This Nick wasn’t anything like most vampires he had dealt with. He didn’t smell of aggression, but neither did he smell of weakness. He did however share a scent similar to the one Xander now carried. Similar but not exactly the same. If he had to guess, he’d say the vampire that sired Xander was related to the one who sired this vampire. Considering the assumption Cordelia had just made, it was likely that this Nick was sired by LaCroix, the one that had just left.
“Who are you exactly?” Angelus asked stepping closer to this unknown vampire, sensing the tension.
“Nick Knight. I guess you could say Xander and I are related.” Nick answered stiffly; he looked at Xander carefully, wondering if Xander truly recognized what they were. Assuming Xander would even understand. Sometimes it was easy to forget Xander hadn’t been a vampire long and Petreius probably hadn’t had time to teach him much their history. He remembered Xander telling him that his friend, cursed by gypsies, was probably Effera, but did Xander genuinely understand what that meant?
Xander sighed heavily, recognizing both the reason for Nick’s concern and how quickly this could get out of hand. “Can you find something to eat for the girls? And maybe something for Angel and Spike?”
Nick hesitated, not sure whether having them here at all was a good idea. At the moment the club was empty, thanks to the recent deaths and the building tension within the community, but eventually others would show up. The Enforcers would arrive before long, once it was discovered Bichon was dead. Nick still wasn’t sure exactly what had happened with the Enforcer. Only that shortly after Bichon and Xander were left alone together Xander disappeared. Bichon’s ashes had been found on the table, in a sign of respect. It was possible someone other than Xander had killed him, but Nick doubted it. He’d seen Xander’s power at work, as well as the animosity between the two vampires.
Cordelia watched Spike and Angelus watching Nick and privately thought how amusing the whole thing was. “We’ll come with you.” She said suddenly, knowing that whatever the three vampires had to say to one another now, was probably better if she and Willow were elsewhere. Besides, she couldn’t get a read on this new guy. Maybe she could bludgeon him with her personality.
“What?” Willow asked and turned to Cordelia. “We can’t just leave with him.”
“Sure we can. Nick here will make sure we’re fine, won’t you?” She looped her arm through Nick’s, using her other hand to grab Willow and move her out of the room.
Willow moved reluctantly, her eyes still on Xander. She wanted to talk to him, alone, but that didn’t look like it was going to happen, yet.
She turned back to Cordelia, pulling her arm out of the other girls grip and stared at Nick. “We can take care of ourselves.” She said with a steely determination, not wanting to appear weak, her fingers sparking with electricity.
Nick sighed as he escorted the humans out of the room. Why was he always surrounded by mortals who thought that vampire rules didn’t apply to them?
Spike stepped closer to Xander once they were alone and sniffed. “You smell different.”
“I’m a vampire.” Xander pointed out. He inhaled and smiled at all the things he could detect with his enhanced senses that he hadn’t known about before. “You do too.” He looked at Angel, his lips quirking slightly. “You especially smell different.” He walked around the older man cautiously. “I didn’t know the soul had a scent, but you still smell of it.”
“I don’t have a soul.” Angelus said sardonically, knowing that pretending was pointless.
“That’s not exactly true.” Xander said.
“What?” Spike asked, surprised.
“They didn’t remove his soul so much as merge it with his demon.” Xander said, staring intently at Angelus, his weird senses telling him things he couldn’t begin to understand, even now.
“They?” Angelus asked curiously. There was definitely something different about the boy, and not just because he was a vampire now. He felt oddly relieved about that, knowing that this person who had been such a thorn in his side wasn’t going to die young, or possibly at all.
Xander quirked an eyebrow. “I assume it was the Kovar. They told you that they would remove your soul? In exchange for removing Spike’s chip?” He nodded towards the blond. “That is what Blondie said, isn’t it?”
“He didn’t say anything about the Kovar.” Angelus stated.
“No, he didn’t.” Xander agreed. “However, I know your ensouled version so well, I can’t imagine that you would let just any old demon remove Spike’s chip, if this was the price. Therefore, whoever did it was not out to hasten the end of the world. The only demons I know like that are the Kovar. They are the only species whose sole goal is to protect the world from itself; they answer only to the Powers That Be, which if you ask me isn’t necessarily a point in their favor.” Xander shrugged. “Anyway, The Kovar didn’t remove your soul, no matter what they told you. They merged it with your demon, so there’s less internal conflict.”
“How do you know so much about the Kovar?” Spike asked in bewilderment. He’d always known Xander wasn’t the idiot he pretended to be, but this was something else.
Xander grinned wryly, an echo of his former self peeking through. “Let’s just say I recently had a crash course in their motives and methods and leave it at that.”
Angelus thought seriously about what Xander had said, discounting for the moment how he may have gained that information. A merging of his soul and demon would explain why he felt different from the way he felt with a soul, but nowhere near as insane as he did when he’d lost his soul before. He’d have to look into it once they returned to Los Angeles.
Xander stepped away from the two vampires. “I really do have a lot of explaining to do.” He motioned in the direction the girls had gone. “Let me find you somewhere to sleep, and see if Nick found some dinner for you. We can talk tomorrow.” He paused. “Do Willow and Cordelia know, about the two of you?”
“Cordelia does, but Willow hasn’t figured it out.” Angelus answered, deciding that his own questions could wait until tomorrow, so long as Xander didn’t disappear again.
“What?” Spike snarled. He looked from his Sire to Xander, who was both nothing like his human self, and similar to his human self in a dozen different ways. “I want to know what’s going on.” He looked to Angelus again. “We want to know what happened to you.”
Xander sighed. He was exhausted and his night was nowhere near over. “I know.” He stated calmly looking directly at Spike, realizing that Angelus had agreed to be put off until the next evening. “And I want to tell you, but right now, I have other people that are waiting to hear from me, and they cannot wait. You can.”
Spike snarled again but before he could argue more he felt Angelus grip the back of his neck in warning.
“Fine.” He hissed out reluctantly.
Xander nodded. “Come.” He started walking towards the back rooms of the club, knowing the two older vampires would follow.
Nearly an hour later found Xander sitting across from Michel in Lucien’s office, trying to figure out how much of what had happened in the past several hours he wished to share.
“Tell me of Bichon.” Michel said after the silence had stretch too long. Lisette had taken Bichon’s ashes to prepare for their rituals.
“He’s dead.” Xander stated clearly, not even a little sorry to be imparting this news. He felt no guilt for the death of the Enforcer, although how much of that was due to him being a vampire now and how much was due to his intense dislike of Bichon, he could only guess at.
“This I already know.” Michel said calmly. “I want to know exactly what happened and I want you to tell me why.”
Xander stared at the older vampire for a long moment before speaking. “It was unintentional, although I have no remorse. He pushed me. I pushed back. Some of my power got away from me.” Xander looked uncomfortable for a second. “It won’t happen again.”
Michel nodded. He had known Bichon would mostly likely end up dead, if not by Xander’s hand then by Michel’s own. Bichon was not ready for their way of life to change, and change was coming. He could sense it.
“I have also been informed the one who hunted our people is also dead.” Michel stated quietly, changing the subject.
“Yes.” Xander answered simply. He still hadn’t had enough time to think about Divia and how she was connected to him. He locked eyes with the older man. “I will discuss no more about that, not with you.”
Michel stood up. “Very well. I will convene the council. We will likely be returning to our own territories before the week is out. I will not expect you to attend the Baéré. You will be expected at the conclave in several weeks.“
Xander was more than a little relieved to hear that he was required to attend Bichon’s leaving ritual, and that the Enforcers and other Council members would be departing soon.. With Willow and Cordelia and the two vampires in town, he didn’t think he could deal with both situations at once.
“There is one more thing.” Michel said as Xander stood up.
Xander arched a brow in inquiry. “The vampires you have given harbor to, are you aware of what they are?”
Xander smiled wryly. “If you mean to ask whether I am aware they are Effera, then yes, I’m quite aware.”
Michele smiled back in wry amusement. “You do like to take our ancient laws and twist them to your own purposes.” Michel admitted. “However, that is a discussion for another day. I will be in touch regarding Council matters. Will you be staying here?” He moved towards the door as he spoke, his mind already on the tasks that lay ahead.
Xander thought about that. He didn’t really have a home anymore. What happened next primarily depended on how things went with his old friends and what responsibilities he now had to his new family. “For now.” He answered finally.
Chapter 17: Responsibilities
Xander approached his room slowly. He could feel that something was off. He pushed the door open slowly and scanned the darkness for whatever was causing the feeling. When he saw the figure on his bed, Xander entered the room and shut the door behind him.
“Wills.” He said softly, beyond exhausted and in no fit state to deal with this, but as usual he wasn’t given much of a choice.
Willow smiled faintly. “I was hoping we could talk, alone, you know without the others, like we used to.”
Xander sighed and sat down in the chair near the desk. “We can talk, but we can’t go back to how it used to be. Those days are over now.”
“But they don’t have to be.” Willow said earnestly.
“I can’t go home again, Willow.” Xander told her quietly, a slight ache in his chest at the realization that he really couldn’t.
“Why not?” Willow asked, her hands clenching tightly on her lap.
“This is why not!” Xander snapped and shifted his features so she could see what he was now. He may look like her same old friend on the outside, and some of that boy was still there, but he was so different now, so much more and he had to make her see that.
Willow watched as Xander’s face shifted. She could see his fangs and the difference in his eyes was startling. It wasn’t just the color change, but the intensity and the feeling of danger her old friend was now radiating. She looked away from his face and caught sight of one of his hands and noticed they too were different. She closed her eyes for a second and when she reopened them, he was back to looking like her Xander, mostly. There was still a look in his eyes that she didn’t recognize, but otherwise, she felt like she was staring at her oldest friend.
“It doesn’t matter.” Willow said in determination. “Angel and Spike are vampires and they help; so could you.”
Xander shook his head. “It’s not that easy, Wills. I have responsibilities now.” There were so many reasons why he wasn’t the same as Angelus and Spike, and he couldn’t even begin to explain them, not that he wanted to. So much had happened in such a short time. He’d learned so much about Vampires and how their world affected that of the mortals. There were so many things that he wasn’t comfortable divulging to Willow, regardless of how long he’d known her. He had a feeling she couldn’t even begin to understand. Not to mention anything he told Willow would eventually make its way back to Giles and Buffy, and he was absolutely positive that this information could not fall into their hands. It would disrupt their purpose and goals, and that could not be allowed to happen.
He reached over and took Willow’s hands. “I’m sorry that things have to be different now, Will, but I cannot go home again.”
“Why?” Willow asked again, gripping his hands tightly.
“My family here, they need me.” He told her somewhat honestly. “A lot has happened recently that still needs to be dealt with. My father is dead; the mortal authorities are going to need some sort of explanation they can believe.” Willow looked confused, so Xander decided a little elaboration was okay. “Divia killed a lot of people, not all of them were vampires. Nick’s a cop and his superiors are going to want some sort of plausible explanation.” He sighed. “This isn’t like Sunnydale where weird things happen and everyone just pretends it didn’t. There are no vampires running around killing people in the street who were too ignorant to be indoors after dark. The humans here need closure. We must provide it.”
Willow released Xander’s hands, still a little confused. “I don’t understand. If there are a lot of vampires here, why aren’t there any unexplained deaths?”
“Things are different here.” Xander said standing up. “I can’t explain any more than that, I’m sorry.”
Willow took a deep breath and let it out. “But, you’ll come back…eventually?”
“I wish I could tell you I would, but I just don’t think it’s smart. Sunnydale belongs to the Slayer, to Buffy. I have no place there anymore.”
Willow wanted to protest but the truth was she didn’t even know how Buffy would react to this yet, and couldn’t give Xander any sort of reassurance, if he was even looking for any. She needed more information, and it was clear Xander wouldn’t provide it. She would have to look elsewhere.
She stood up and hugged Xander tightly. “This doesn’t change anything between us. I don’t care if you are a vampire. I don’t care about whatever these responsibilities are. We are still friends. You got that, Mister?”
Xander laughed into her hair. “Yes, Ma’am.” He said softly.
Willow pulled away and moved towards the door. “I’m going to get some sleep. You should too. I’ll see you in the evening?” She asked the last hesitantly.
“Sure, Wills. I’ll be here.” Xander said, trying to look more like the friend she’d known.
Willow nodded and left the room. Xander flopped onto his bed and closed his eyes. He was exhausted.
“You know he can’t go back.” Cordelia stated quietly after Willow had been shifting uneasily on her side of the massive bed. They’d been given a room to share, and though Cordelia might have thought the witch was uncomfortable sleeping in the same bed as her, she knew it had more to do with Xander.
“What if…” Willow began.
“No, Willow.” Cordelia sighed and sat up a little in the bed. The bedding was comfortable, but she couldn’t have a serious conversation with the other girl lying down. It’s not like they were all that close.
“He’s a vampire now. He’s different. He can’t go back to Sunnydale. You’ll put him in a bad situation if you ask him to.”
“It’s his home.” Willow said sadly.
“It was his home.” Cordelia corrected. “The Hellmouth is not a good place for vampires. Look what happened to Spike.”
“What about Angel. He was alright.” Willow countered.
Cordelia snorted. “Hello, he lost his soul and tried to suck the world into Hell. That is not alright, by any definition.”
“That was the curse.” Willow stated adamantly.
“I don’t think it was.” Cordelia said softly. “I’ve worked with him for a while, and he’s…different. Not evil, but not…cowed, like he was with Buffy.” She sighed. “What will Buffy say about this? What are you going to tell her?”
“I don’t know.” Willow whispered.
“Well you better think of something.” Cordelia said irritably. “You can only put it off for so long, unless you want to pretend he just disappeared and you never saw him. If that’s the case, you better hope they never cross paths…anywhere.” She hesitated. She had a feeling Angelus and Spike would convince Xander to come to Los Angeles, at least for a little while, but wasn’t sure if she should mention that possibility. “Her slayerness will take one look at Xander and know what he is, what he’s become. What will you do then? What will she? Will she give him a pass on account of her friendship with the human he used to be, or will she just stake him, thinking she’s doing what he would have wanted?”
“I don’t know.” Willow answered, troubled.
“Maybe you should think about that.”
Xander awoke just as the sun was setting, his skin tingling with the sense of darkness falling. He looked around his darkened room and slowly rose from his bed. He knew it was going to be another long night. Between the promised conversation with Spike and Angel, and whatever decision the Council made, and how they were going to close this case to the satisfaction of the mortals, he had no time to lie about in bed.
By the time he’d showered and dressed and made his way downstairs he was ready to meet the day or the night as the case may be.
Janette was at the bar drinking what would appear to a casual observer as a glass of wine. Xander knew better.
“What are we drinking?” He asked as he sat next to her.
Janette smiled. “Something young.”
“Virginal?” Xander asked, eyebrow rose in question.
“No.” Janette looked put out for a minute before she smiled again. “I wanted to tell you, Alexi, before we left that I am pleased you joined our little family.”
“You’re leaving?” Xander asked, not completely surprised. She had come with Michel and now that the crisis was over they would be going back to whatever it was they did.
“Yes, we have been away from home too long. My gallery does not run itself, and Michel has left others in charge in France. We must return.”
Xander nodded and then hugged the older woman quickly. Although Janette was technically family as she was sired by Lucien just as Nick was he hadn’t spent nearly as much time with her. They had talked a few times, but he didn’t know her as well truthfully.
“You will come to France and visit.” It was not a question. “If what Michel tells me is true you have much to learn.”
Xander looked away, slightly uncomfortable. He had not discussed the prophecy with anyone but Michel and while it was clear Janette knew of it, at least peripherally, he wasn’t ready to deal with that and all it entailed.
“You are ill at ease.” She observed. “Do not worry. In time you will come to understand all it means, for you and our people.”
“I hope so.” Xander said quietly. Just as he was about to change the subject, Michel entered the room. Xander turned to look at the Enforcer and stood.
“Alexander.” Michel smiled fondly at the younger vampire. “I expect you to contact me regarding your further education once things have…settled.”
“I will.” Xander agreed, knowing that regardless of his feelings on prophecies and Enforcers, this was part of his life now. “And the…the Conclave. I will attend.”
“Excellent.” Michel looked at the young vampire before speaking again quietly. “You understand about your…friends? The longer they remain the more danger they will be in.”
“They can control themselves.” Xander said stiffly. He knew the reputation the Effera had, and why they were viewed with both fear and disgust. He also knew that Spike and Angel were different. They were not a danger to Vampire secrecy.
“Perhaps.” Michel allowed. “They are your responsibility.”
Xander nodded. “Because they came for me.” He recognized that Spike and Angel’s appearance in Toronto was because of Xander and anything that happened because of their presence here could be laid at Xander’s feet, for good or ill.
“That is part of it.” Michel acknowledged. “You have been granted more freedom where they are concerned because of your place in the hierarchy.”
“Again with the prophecy.” Xander hissed. “What if I don’t want any part of the Enforcers? What if I don’t want to be the one to put an end to all you have accomplished?”
Michel smiled. “Prophecies are tricky things, as is fate. What are the odds, young Alexander, that you happened to encounter Petreius on his first trip west in centuries? How likely is it that you, a mere boy, not yet two decades old, called to him in such a way that he was moved to bring you across? And the most interesting thing is you alone possess the ability which led to Divia’s destruction. An ability I might add that has not manifested in our kind since Meloché himself still walked among us.”
“You’re saying that I never had a choice.” Xander said sadly.
“No. I’m telling you that you were destined to come here, to do what only you could do. What you do next is completely up to you. However, I hope you carefully consider the possibilities.”
“I will.” Xander repeated his earlier promise, meaning it this time.
Chapter 18: Saying Farewell
Xander took a moment to collect himself before entering one of the rooms Lucien had set aside for Xander’s guests. Cordelia and Willow were sharing one room while Angelus and Spike shared another. Nick had told Xander that when Janette ran the club she used it as a sort of safe haven for those that needed it, so the upper floors were set up more like an Inn than a nightclub. Lucien had continued the practice when he’d taken over after she’d left Canada.
His uncle was something of an enigma. He was the Dux Ducis and took the role very seriously, but he also put off this vibe that he didn’t concern himself with trivial matters, or the matters of others. The two concepts could not both be true.
To that end, Lucien had made it clear that while the people from California had a measure of protection due to Xander it was safer for everyone involved if they returned home as soon as possible.
Lucien had given him twenty-four hours in which do what needed to be done, and get the humans and other vampires not only out of his club, but out of his territory.
This meant as far as explanations went, Xander would have to use the extremely abridged version, which to be honest he was relieved about. As it was, he was going to have to get creative with how much to tell Willow and Cordelia. Spike and Angel could be told more, but they didn’t have the kind of time he would need to get into it, Xander hoped they’d accept what he could tell them now, and wait until Xander could make his way to LA to provide more information.
He had decided it would be best to tackle the two groups separately. Otherwise, he’d be too busy censoring himself to accomplish anything. He wasn’t too concerned with Cordelia. She was part of Angelus’ little entourage and judging from what he’d seen so far that meant she had a better understanding of vampires than Willow.
While Willow had been part of Buffy’s team for as long as Xander had, their training and education had centered more on the killing of demons than on understanding their social structure. That meant Willow wouldn’t understand much of what Xander had learned in a short time frame. Much of Xander’s knowledge had come from his turning. A sort of genetic memory passed down from his sire. Some of his knowledge had come from the inexplicable way he seemed to know things now. Either way, Willow didn’t have access to that knowledge and Xander didn’t have time to explain it. He wasn’t even sure if he could, or even if he should.
Willow and he were different now. They weren’t the same people they had once been. They weren’t even the same species anymore. There were things Xander knew now that Willow didn’t have the right to know.
Explaining that to his oldest friend would be difficult but Xander realized it needed to be done. He also needed to find out what Willow was going to tell Buffy and Giles, and what the witch had already told them. The answers to those questions would affect how Xander dealt with that part of his old life.
From what he had learned in his short time as a vampire, either the Watchers were more clueless than previously thought, or they were keeping a tight lid on things so as not to confuse what they considered their mission. Either way, Buffy and Giles were going to be a problem. Not to mention the knowledge he carried about the Slayer line and what had started it all. That was information that the Watchers might not have, and if they did, they probably weren’t sharing it with just anybody.
Knowing Willow as he did, she would invariably want him to return to Sunnydale, despite the fact he was now undead. Regardless of what he’d already told her, she would think everything would be fine if he returned to Sunnydale, because it was home.
Therein lay one of the problems. Sunnydale wasn’t home. It hadn’t been home since long before he got on that train. Now, home was…well he wasn’t sure exactly where home was. He only knew that he was different now. His abilities and new understanding were only part of it.
Sunnydale aside, he needed to learn more about both his new abilities and the Enforcers, and how tied to them he was. He also wanted to know if his visions were directly connected to the situation with Divia, or if they were something else he would need to learn to deal with.
Shaking his head at the way his thoughts circled around but didn’t seem to go anywhere, Xander pushed his concerns away and knocked on the door to Willow’s room.
“It happened on the train after I left Sunnydale. I met father. He turned me. I was out for three days and when I awoke we were on our way here, to Toronto.” He told Willow quietly, knowing she wanted to hear about what had happened to him, without the grisly details.
“Why here?” Willow asked curiously.
“Lucien, the vampire who owns this club, is family. There was some trouble so we came to sort it out.” Xander answered Willow’s question, wanting to emphasize that though Lucien appeared perfectly charming when Willow had met him earlier he was a vampire, and not to be trusted.
“What sort of trouble?” Willow asked, not wanting to dwell on the fact that she’d spent the night in a den of demons.
“Doesn’t matter.” Xander answered quietly. “It’s taken care of.”
Willow sighed sadly. Her Xander might still be inside there somewhere but so was a demon. “You’re not going to tell me?” She asked plaintively. “Does this have anything to do with that girl you killed?”
“That girl was a monster.” Xander growled, tired of feeling like he had to explain himself. He realized it was hard for Willow to comprehend, and that she cared for him, as she always had, but he couldn’t compartmentalize his life anymore. He’d always been able to have separate responses depending on who he was talking to. Goofy Xander was for Buffy and Giles, and sometimes Willow; obedient Xander was for his parents; snark and antagonism was for Spike and Angel. The quiet times with Willow were few and far between, especially in the past few years. They had been slowly making their way back to the old friendship, but now that time was over. He could no longer be all those things for different people. Now he was just what he was, and the predominate thing he was now was a demon.
“Yes, Divia was part of it.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. It’s over now.”
“But you’re still not coming home.” Willow said softly.
“No, Willow.” Xander said quietly. “Sunnydale has no place for me anymore.”
“But…you could help. Like…Angel and Spike.” She looked away, knowing even as she said it that Xander was different from either Angel or Spike, though she wasn’t sure exactly how.
Xander laughed. “No, I can’t.” He placed a hand over Willows and looked into her eyes, his own eyes shifting to gold. “I’m not like Angel. I don’t have a human soul, not the way you mean. I’m not…” He turned away, thinking of Spike and his implant, and how the Scoobies tended to think it meant Spike was harmless. “There is nothing keeping me in check.”
Willow gasped as the full meaning of that statement became clear. “Are you killing people?” She whispered removing her hand from under his.
“I’m not killing people.” Xander allowed, “But I am drinking human blood.” He turned back to her. “I am a vampire now. That means I can never go back, not the way you want. Maybe someday I can…visit, I don’t know. I guess it depends on Buffy.” He eyed her cautiously. “What exactly did you tell her?”
“Nothing. I just told her I would be unreachable for a few days.” She shrugged. “I sort of implied it was family related.” She paused. “I just didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure. I mean, when I did that spell, and saw you…” Willow shuddered slightly. “I was afraid.” She paused, considering that spell for a moment. “When I cast that spell…it felt…different. Like you could sense me.”
“I could.” Xander answered honestly, remembering the sense of Willow he felt.
“Is that normal?” Willow asked.
“No. I’m not sure why I am different, but…I am.”
“We could research!” Willow said eagerly, grasping onto a familiar idea. “Giles and I could…”
Xander shook his head, cutting her off. “No. This is something I have to do myself.”
“What do you want me to tell Buffy?” She asked finally, accepting that Xander wouldn’t be coming back with her.
“That’s up to you. Tell her what you think is best.” He paused before deciding that a small warning might be a good idea. “I won’t be here long, and whatever you tell Buffy, make sure she knows not to come here looking for me.” He eyed her seriously. “The vampires here, they are not like the ones in Sunnydale. She wouldn’t survive a confrontation.”
“But she’s the Slayer.” Willow said, as if that alone was enough.
“Yes, she is. But she’s never fought vampires like these here. Vachon is generally a laid back guy, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to kill him. Nick is over eight-hundred, and though he doesn’t feed on humans anymore, that doesn’t make him weak. And Lucien…he’s been around nearly two thousand years. Does that sound like the type of guy Buffy should be trading barbs with?”
Willow nodded her understanding. “I guess we should go then. I need to think about what to tell Buffy and Giles.” She hesitated briefly and then hugged Xander once. “I want you to call me, let me know…well how you are, what’s going on.”
“I promise.” Xander answered, smiling because it seemed to Willow, some things never changed.
Willow nodded and turned and began looking through her bag making sure she had everything. She didn’t want to linger now that she’d decided to go or she might change her mind about leaving.
Cordelia, who had been sitting at the desk in the corner of the room during the entire exchange, stood up. “I’ll keep an eye on her.” She said quietly and stepped closer to Xander, wrapping her arms around him tightly. “I’ll get Angel’s keys and drive her back. I’m sure he and Junior can find another way home.” She smiled slightly before narrowing her eyes at her ex-boyfriend. “As for you, you better come and visit when all your vampire stuff is cleared up, okay?” She let him go and stepped back before turning to Willow. “I’m going to tell Angel we’re leaving.”
Willow nodded and went back to searching through her bag.
Xander watched Cordelia leave and stared at Willow’s tense shoulders before he sighed unnecessarily and left the room. That was two down. Now if only he could figure what to say to Spike and Angel.
“What do you know about the Kovar who fixed you?” Xander asked after he had entered the room Spike and Angelus were sharing and the three had stared at each other for several tense minutes. He was hoping to bypass more explanations, at least until he arrived in Los Angeles, and he had decided that would be his first stop once things were taken care of here. However, he needed to know more about these demons and what exactly they wanted.
“Not much.” Angelus admitted. “I dealt with a guy named Litau.”
“Can you locate him?”
“Maybe.” Angelus asked. “Why?”
Xander didn’t answer right away, his mind adding up what little Angelus and Spike knew to what Michel had told him about the Kovar and their beliefs. “You should leave.” He stated finally in lieu of answering the question.
“Not without you.” Spike hissed, eyes glowing gold. “We came all this way for you. We’re not leaving you here with these strangers.”
“These strangers are my family, or the closest thing I have these days.” Xander answered levelly before turning to glare at Spike, his own face shifting. “I am a vampire now.”
“I had noticed that, Pet.”
“My point is I can take care of myself. I’m no longer a weak, helpless tagalong to the Slayer.”
“You were never that.” Angelus spoke, his voice fierce. “Never weak, nor helpless. You had more bravery than was probably smart.”
“The heart.” Xander whispered, his face shifting back into human features. He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. It’s not safe for you here.”
“Will you tell us why?” Angelus asked, sensing that there was an underlying reason for Xander’s insistence that they leave.
“Yes, but not now.” Xander wasn’t sure how to explain what he’d learned about the different types of vampires and what exactly that meant in relation to Spike and Angel. He knew that they weren’t safe in Toronto, even with Xander vouching for them. Lucien had been clear. “Look, I have some stuff to clear up here, but once that’s done, I’ll return to the States.”
“When will you be leaving?” Spike asked at last, recognizing that while he had many questions, he wasn’t likely to get answers to them until Xander was ready to give them. Xander had changed and there were certain differences between this vampire and the boy he once was. One of them was that trying to intimidate him would no longer work. Plus, he’d learned long ago that Xander was not nearly as inept as he pretended to be. Xander said it wasn’t safe, so it probably wasn’t.
“Soon. I’ll come to Los Angeles. I’ll explain what I can then.”
“You’re not going back to Sunnydale?” Angelus asked, relieved.
“Not yet. We’ll see what happens once the Slayer…Buffy finds out.”
Spike and Angel exchanged a look at the way Xander instinctively referred to Buffy as the Slayer, even though they had been friends for years.
“We’ll go.” Spike agreed, standing up. He grabbed Xander with both hands, pulling his face almost close enough to touch. “If you don’t come soon, I’ll be back; I don’t care how safe it is.” His words were little more than a low growl.
Spike released Xander when Angelus stood up and eyed the youngest vampire sharply for a long moment. “Come soon.” He whispered as he reached out and brushed a finger over the brow ridges that had formed instinctively when Spike had grabbed him. “You could have a place with us, if you want it.”
Xander swallowed thickly. He had too much to deal with here in Toronto without having to think about any possible future. “We’ll see.” He whispered, backing away and leaving the room quickly before either vampire could say or do anything further.
Spike looked at his Sire. “What now?”
“We go home.” Angelus grinned at Spike’s put out expression, his tongue tracing one of his fangs.
“Don’t worry my boy, we have time.”
Nick found Xander on the roof. He knew the young vampire would need some quiet, some time to think. The Enforcers had left Toronto to do whatever it was they normally did. The council representatives had returned to their home domains. Xander’s friends from California had returned home as well. His cousin likely needed the quiet. He could also probably use a friend.
“Hey.” Nick said quietly as he sat down next to Xander.
“Hey.” Xander whispered. They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Xander turned to look at his cousin, his dark eyes intent. “I heard that you’ve had a couple of run-ins with Enforcers.”
Nick looked at Xander sideways. “Once or twice.”
Xander nodded. “They seem to be universally feared.”
“They live by their own rules.” Nick offered. “And it’s their job to ensure the rest of us follow the rules set before us.”
“Rules made by the council.” Xander pointed out, hesitant to put faith in a council of any type.
“To protect us.” Nick countered.
Nick turned to Xander. “I used to think we didn’t need the rules, that we could manage on our own, we could control ourselves.”
“It’s not just about vampires controlling themselves. Mortals are dangerous to us. They fear what they don’t understand and they destroy what they fear. Something needs to control what information is allowed out into the mortal world, as well as how it gets there. The world isn’t yet ready for us. Maybe some people are, but as a whole, human society cannot face that the things that they fear in the dark do exist.”
“You believe the Enforcers are the answer?” Xander asked dubiously. He didn’t necessarily disagree with anything Nick was saying but he wasn’t sure that the way the Enforcers operated was the way it should be done either. “You don’t think there is a better way? That there could be?”
Nick sighed. “What exactly is bothering you? Is this about Bichon?”
Xander shook his head. “No.” He paused. “I’m just not sure how I fit into their ideology or what being an Enforcer means exactly.” He sighed. “There’s so much about being a vampire I still don’t understand. So many things Petreius didn’t have time to teach me.”
“You have time to learn.” Nick said.
Xander nodded. “I know.” He breathed out deeply. “I need to return to California as well. I left things unfinished.”
“Your friends don’t understand what happened to you.” Nick observed. “The mortal girl, the one with the power, she seemed sad when she left.”
Xander looked out over the Toronto skyline. “We’ve known each other most of our lives, and spent the past several years hunting demons. The only vampires we’d ever met were like the Effera, little more than animals. I don’t know how to explain to her what I’ve become and…” He trailed off.
“And?” Nick prompted knowing there was more.
“I’m not sure I should even try to explain. That life. My mortal life, is over. I’ll always love Willow, but she’s a part of that life, and I don’t think I could explain what I am now, and to be honest, I’m afraid of what she would do with that information.”
“Because of her magic?” Nick asked quietly. He had sensed a lot of power in the young woman but there wasn’t anything necessarily dark about her.
“She doesn’t always think ahead sometimes, but mostly I’m worried about what she would tell the others. Anything I tell her would make its way to Buffy and Giles, and this is not something that they need to know about.” He paused, trying to figure out how to say what he was thinking. “I understand why Slayers are needed, and for them to do their jobs things need to be more black and white than they are. If they were to find out how complicated things are it would make it more difficult for them. It would make her hesitate. I can’t do that to her, and I can’t ask Willow to keep this type of secret.”
Nick nodded and placed a hand on his cousin’s arm. “And what of the vampire’s? The Effera you protect?”
Xander tensed under Nick’s hand. “That is another matter entirely. I have…unfinished business with both of them. Our history is mostly bad.”
“Yet they came here, for you.”
“They did.” Xander acknowledged, but not wanting to get into what that history was until he had made some decisions. He turned to look at the older vampire. “What of your future?”
“What do you mean?” Nick asked in confusion.
“Petreius told me that you had some moral dilemma about the nature of what we are. He said you had turned away from your family, from Lucien and Janette. He mentioned that you were part of the reason Janette had left Toronto last year.”
Nick closed his eyes and remembered how he felt when he’d learned Janette had gone and the events leading up to that decision. “I thought I could become human again.” Nick admitted quietly. “My quest for humanity was hurting Janette, hurting our relationship, so she thought it best that she leave.”
“Is this because of that friend of yours? The coroner? She convinced you that you could become human again? That there’s something wrong with you?” Xander hissed, angry suddenly for no reason he could explain.
“We’re demons.” Nick snapped.
“Yes, Nicholai.” Xander glared at the older man, his eyes glowing gold to make a point. “We are demons, however that doesn’t make us less than mortals. It doesn’t make us better, as those like Bichon seem to think, but neither does it make us less than the humans we used to be.” He shook his head and returned to his human visage. “We are what we are. Trying to pretend you are something different will only bring you and everyone around you misery and pain.”
“Is that what you told Angelus?” Nick asked with a wry smile.
“It’s what I will tell him, if he still needs to hear it.” Xander smiled despite the seriousness of the conversation. He stood up and took one last look at the skyline. “I will be leaving in a few days, the longer I put it off the less I’ll want to go.”
“We’re going to miss you.” Nick said, standing up as well.
Xander smiled. “I’ll be back. Once I’ve dealt with my former life, It’ll be time for me to make some decisions about my new one. I think I’ll need some help with that.” He grinned slightly. “I’m sure Lucien will be overjoyed to see me return.”
Xander headed towards the doors which lead inside the building, Nick’s laughter trailing behind him.