Family ties chapter 13

Disclaimer: Don't own any fledges let alone master vamps.

A/N Because it's christmas I got all girly (and at my age that's quite a feat!) and there's a lot of party preperations but it will all lead into a lot more action next chapter and momentum carries on building after that with probably only three chapters to go. Anyway hope you enjoy.

.

"Hey now pet, it's gonna be okay."

Spike stroked Tara's hair gently as he tried to reassure the upset Wiccan sitting on the cold tiled floor by his side.

"The Slayer's out there, turning London upside down to find us and Drac'll have his minions out and about doing what minions do in these situations I'll wager."

Tara hiccoughed as she felt the tension lessen a little. Spike's confidence was comforting and his less than impressed tone at waiting to be rescued by Dracula was amusing.

"What about Xander? He'll be searching for us too and he's gotten quite good at that secret agent 007 stuff" Willow added, knowing that mention of the 'dough boy' would spark more snarkiness from Spike, an attitude which seemed to be doing Tara good. Not that she wasn't a wee bit scared herself but she wasn't as sensitive these days as Tara was - living out your teenage years on the hellmouth did that to a girl. And there was her girlfriend's slight claustrophobia to be taken into account. She wouldn't be surprised if the basis of that originated with her less than loving famikly and their idea of discipline. For some reason Spike seemed to make them both feel a lot better so she was happy to feed him lines at her childhood best friends expense. Xan wouldn't mind... much.

"Nah luv; more like 004 and a bit that one - better than he used to be though - and if you tell him that I'll tell everyone what you two get up to when everyone thinks you have your noses stuck in those textbooks of yours.

"Ooh!"

"Eavesdropper."

The two exclamations were tinged with laughter. Being linked as they were made for a certain lack of mental privacy they were coming to discover so neither girl was surprised at Spike's knowledge and their enforced solitude in the small white room had been helping them to get a handle on the ability. Since Tara had been cured it had been a non-stop rollercoaster ride. The general awareness they had of each other had, with practice, developed into actual telepathy, albeit a little hit and miss as yet. It had proved quite useful since they knew that their jailors were listening in on everything they said. It was tiring though so they kept it for things that mattered using the spoken word for smalltalk only. Smalltalk had the added bonus of preventing Spike from dwelling on the individual responsible for their predicament.

Angel was dust! Buffy would see to that, Willow was sure... if Spike didn't get to him first. 'Poor Buffy' she thought. It was going to tear her apart when she discovered that her first love was a traitor... but maybe not as much as it would have a few months ago she added to herself thanking the Goddess that despite their connection they had managed to re-establish their mental independence - accidentaly being party to one of Spikes stray memories from his glory days... or should that be gory day with Drusilla had 'encouraged' them to prioritize that aspect! She wondered if the lovesick vamp had realised yet that his long standing love for Buffy was no longer as one sided as it used to be; actually she wondered if even Buffy realised it... she couldn't wait for that one to hit them!

"Andrew seems like a nice boy" Tara continued their out loud conversation and hoped that their listeners were getting frustrated at the lack of information they were receiving - the revelation that the female contingent thought that Giles looked 'hot in a tux' was hardly going to help them achieve world domination.

Following his 'sisters' lead Spike assumed an air of studied dismissal. "Nice is for fools luv, so I'd say he fits the bill. Never seen such a wuss; he's more geeky than a box of whelps; can't shake your hand without threatening to wet himself and would give Mills & Boon a run for their money in the overblown romantic drama stakes."

The Wiccans kept their silence on that particular comment but they had a pretty good idea who the 'geeky' over romantic and socially inept young man reminded Spike of... and his name would be William.

"Xander and Andrew seem to be getting on pretty well" Willow added for good measure, smiling at the mock shudder from the vamp and his acerbic reply.

"Yeah well! Nerd speaks unto nerd - probably in Klingon."

There being no answer to that they lapsed back into companionable silence, Willow and Spike exchanging satisfied looks over the now calmer Tara's head. Spike pondered on exactly why they had been targeted for abduction. He could understand that Angel might have jumped at the chance to get him out of the picture, his soul would have had no compunction in betraying a fellow demon, but to put two humans in danger, that was something new. He could only conclude that it had something to do with this Trinity business, and the new hellmouth - Spike silently cursed himself for not researching deeper into the whole issue as soon as it had happened but the lure of family and the events surrounding his reunion had all happened so fast that even with vamp speed he couldn't do everything at once.

And to think that less than 24 hours ago it had all been so different, so normal.

THE PREVIOUS EVENING

"Oh my dear, you look positively stunning!" Katherine exclaimed, clapping her hands in delight.

Dawn pirouetted in front of the full length mirror and beamed at the compliment. She would never have picked this dress out for herself but both Katherine and Andrew, of all people, had insisted. And Katherine had attended enough Balls to know what to wear. The dress was ankle length midnight blue silk with a low-cut neckline which showed off the assets that the push-up strapless bra had given her without looking in any way tacky and an even lower back which showed off her flawless California tan. It was very grown up, as was the french plait hairdo, and Spike would have a cow! For a supposed libertine he could be pretty close to his Victorian roots when he got it into his head that her virtue was at stake. The gown, however, wasn't what he would call tarty, it was sophisticated and elegant and Katherine had assured her that he would approve. She had also seemed pleased that his approval mattered to her which was nice. It made a change for others to care about her big brother though she had noticed lately that things were changing on that front. She fingered the ornate silver crucifix that had been a gift from Giles, a part of his own family's heritage which had made her treasure it even more, and checked the earrings that Buffy had loaned her for the night (to be returned intact... or else!)

Spike paced nervously at the foot of the stairs for a few moments, looking on with ill disguised amusement as Andrew and Doyle rushed madly about catering to the whims of the females in the party who had suddenly turned into opening night Divas. 'Pussy whipped' he thought as Andrew made his way upstairs with a set of curling tongs in one hand and a cup of herbal tea in the other.

Deciding that this turn of events meant that they wouldn't be ready any time soon he moved into the elegant yet cosy lounge and sprawled gracefully in the overstuffed armchair. He shook his head at the enquiring glances from Giles and Xander who sighed and returned to contemplating their shiny patent leather shoes.

Spikes sudden chuckle, and it wasn't often that one heard a chuckling vampire after all, well not unless he or she was about to rip out your throat, had heads turning back in his direction.

"What?" Xander's tone was snappish as was usual when dealing with Spike but without the hatred and loathing in his eyes that usually accompanied it; it was as though part of him knew, deep down, that he was losing the battle to eternally hate the bane of his life... but he didn't have to publicly acknowledge the fact. Giles merely looked curious.

"Just thinking that nothing really changes."

"Huh?" It wasn't the reply that Xander was expecting. He was waiting for something rude, crude or insulting and possibly all three. Random observations were not fair play... 'fair play!' he mused. He must have been hanging around the brits for too long - he'd be supporting Man U if he wasn't careful... that he already thought of them by their shortened form was enough to tell him that he was doomed... next step earl grey tea and digestive biscuits.

Spike cocked his head to the side at this less than belligerent Xander. Curious. But he answered the question without his usual side order of snark in return.

"Just that a hundred and thirty odd years ago the men would have been sitting exactly like this waiting for the women to finish tarting themselves up and the women would have had the servants running around like headless chickens obeying their every whim" he paused before adding, "It was even worse if royalty were attending, and if they were actually coming to the house then the resulting kerfuffle would have done justice to a horde of Krillichok demons at winter solstice."

Xander had no idea what Krillichock demons did at winter solstice and he didn't want to know but 'kerfuffle'? what sort of vampire says words like kerfuffle?

Giles leaned forward a little on the sofa and eyed the peroxide vampire in his Victorian style elegance which, while not quite as shocking as it had been on that night in the mansion was still pretty impressive and certainly an eye opener for the others who hadn't seen him 'done up like a christmas prezzie' to quote Spike's own words.

"You've dined with royalty Spike?" As much as Giles' specialty was demonology he was, at heart, a historian and for possibly the hundredth time since he had put aside his natural hatred toward Spike because of his undead status and Watcher Council indoctrination he mentally kicked himself for not exploiting this fascinating source of historical knowledge.

"Well yeah" Spike replied as though it were a given and Xanders eyebrows rose slightly. While he didn't have Giles academic love of history, especially British history, it was strange to see someone he'd known for quite a while in a new light... and he hadn't even gotten used to seeing the daywalking vamp in any sort of light other than moonlight yet. And also... royalty huh! The nearest he had come to meeting royalty was watching Prince in concert.

"So did Angel mix with Kings and Queens?" he asked before Giles could start quizzing Spike on Prince Albert's eating habits. He noticed that Spike's smile had an evil edge to it as was only right when speaking of the great broody one - that hatred was the one thing that he would always gladly share in common with the younger vampire.

"Only after he was dead" came the slightly smug reply. "When old Liam was alive the closest thing to royalty in his village was the one who owned the most cows. He spent the first fifty years after his turning, after he had killed his family and all of his neighbours, reading everything he thought he needed to know to mix with the gentry on an equal basis but they always saw through him. He never got it, that it's all in the breeding... bloody toffs were no more or less intelligent than him but in their own world they'd always have the edge. And Angelus hated them for it... hated me for it. And I hated the toffs for him taking that hatred out on me, because of my accent, because of my education. Bastard couldn't stand to be reminded of what he could never be."

Both Xander and Giles were unprepared for the rare insight into Spike's past and Xander was shocked as the cockney vamp had allowed his true accent to surface - talk about son of Giles! But that little tale explained to both the reason, or at least one of the reasons, for Angel's hatred of his grandchilde and the reason why Spike had adopted the rougher London accent.

Spike jumped to his feet with a muttered and gruff "gonna go see what's keeping the bints" and Giles and Xander exchanged a look of mutual astonishment. To empathize and sympathize with Spike of all people! The apocalypse must indeed be just around the corner.

B*T*V*S

Spike had to admit that the sight was worth the long wait, although he wasn't too sure about the amount of skin the nibblet had on show, in his day... he cut that thought off sharpish. He was getting far too poncy the longer he was here. Not that he regretted coming. His family had been everything he had hoped for, not that they had had an opportunity to really chat as yet but their acceptance of him was just amazing. It was one thing to correspond with a vampire, easy to pretend he was a man with a slight blood affliction. But serving type 'o' from a china mug was above and beyond the call. And no less amazing was the growing respect he seemed to be getting from the scoobies - even Xander's loathing was sounding a little half-hearted and he suspected that had a lot to do with Andrew's rather embarrassing but oddly endearing hero worship of both of them - and their joint burning hatred for Angel and his treatment of Buffy didn't hurt either.

Not for the first time lately his thoughts scrambled and fled but this time it was because all the borrowed blood needed to power his brain had taken a sudden trip southward.

Buffy! And she looked like... she was... dammit! She WAS effulgent!

Buffy felt like a princess. She felt like a woman. She felt a million miles away from the sexlessness, even genderless, life as the Slayer... she also felt as nervous as hell and certainly more nervous than she had on her ill-fated prom night. But what she felt most of all was...

Proud! And it shocked her because until this moment she hadn't realised that she had anything to be proud about. But seeing Dawn looking so grown up and beautiful made her proud to be a sister and it made her proud to have gathered people around her over the years that she had been sure would take care of her when the inevitable happened and she had died - she hadn't, after all expected to make yet another return! And despite those long years of denial she felt proudest of all of Spike who had overcome his very nature to care for the Summers women.

And there was another sort of pride that Buffy was feeling right now. A far more visceral one. The pride of a woman who had the power to make a man, especially a hundred and thirty years worth of experience man, look at her like THAT. She blushed delicately as the intense blue eyes devoured her but inside she was crowing. He looked like he wanted to rip her pretty dress off and have his wicked way with her right there on the hall stairs - and that was something to be proud of... and look forward to!

Whoah! She stopped that image right there... for now. Lifting the skirt of her dress a little to prevent herself from tripping - she may be super coordinated when slaying but Buffy the girl was essentially a klutz - the dark red silk making that sound that only the most expensive fabrics made and the ruby and pearl necklace inherited from her mother felt a welcome warm presence round her neck, as though she was there in spirit Buffy made her way down the final few stairs to have her arm taken gently by Giles who beamed his own pride at his surrogate daughter.

Spike couldn't help but think, stuck as he was in Victorian gentleman mode that the sight of those shapely ankles would have made William swoon - the blush he felt from his inner poet confirmed his theory and just to confirm his big bad image - to himself and his alter ego if no-one else, he replaced his look of wonderment with his usual cocky leer.

Buffy grinned at the self conscious vampire's attempt to macho up. Cute or cocky she had to admit that the peroxide vampire was looking good tonight. Very, very good! She totally got what Tara and Willow had been raving about since the mansion and their giggles told her that they still thought that her vampire was a hottie - thank God they were gay, she'd hate to have to let 'jealous Buffy' loose on them.

As if it were a mental cue the gigglers and the rest of the party congregated around her. Willow was dressed in black and silver taffeta with Tara in contrasting cream and gold. Andrew and Doyle had joined the tux brigade along with Xander and Giles while Anya looked resplendent in a deep shimmering bronze ball gown which only served to push home to Xander what he had thrown away with his own stupidity. Giles on the other hand felt something stir inside his heart that had been absent since Jenny's death. It scared and thrilled him... but Anya? Dear Lord!

"You look beautiful my dear" Anya beamed at Giles heartfelt and unprompted compliment but before she could take the moment further the doorbell chimed and both Buffy and Spike rolled their eyes and sighed - a sign that everybody took, quite rightly, to mean that Angel had arrived.

Buffy couldn't help but think that Angel didn't look quite as good in his tux as Giles or even Xander and certainly not as hot as Spike. If anything he looked constipated and a little nervous; although why she couldn't imagine - they had faced tougher foes than a room full of bores and limp canapes. She was on the verge of pulling him aside to find out what had his hair gel in a knot but then decided she just didn't care! He was old enough to look after himself. This may be business but it was still a party and parties existed to be partied to! And if you were to throw in a spot of violence and a hot date... not that Spike was her date! 'And who mentioned Spike'? her inner voice crowed. 'Shut up!' she bit back half heartedly but a wicked little smile lit her face anyway.

Angel saw nothing but Buffy. She looked radiant... although perhaps her dress was a little too revealing - he'd told her about that, how it wasn't good to entice other men like she did. He glanced at the other males in the room to check that no-one was considering encroaching on his territory however everyone else was busy gathering their coats and evening purses... everyone except Spike that was who was gazing at Buffy with that pathetic and sickening adoration that he had always been prone to. That part of William that Angelus had never been able to beat, rape or torture out of him.

'No matter' he thought generously. It was easy to be generous to your rival when he was destined to be dust quite soon.

TBC A sort of stepping stone chapter. Next chapter sees Angels plan put into action and the slayers response. We also learn a lot more about the Trinity and Travers' plans. Until then Merry Christmas.