Staying in the corner may have seemed like a totally cowardly thing to some, but it seemed like a smart idea to Xander, at least until he figured out what was going on here.
He was in another universe. He really wasn't expecting to come across Angelus, Darla, Drusilla, and certainly not another Spike. And that whole "Order of Aurelius" thing was really freaking him out, 'cause it kind of hinted at the fact that the Master was still running around terrorizing the populace.
Buffy had died for the privilege of grinding the guy's bones into powder. Xander really didn't want another look at his butt-ugly face.
Angelus had Darla and William herding the conscious vampires and lycanthropes into the middle of the room while Drusilla lounged like a queen on a couch William had dredged up from somewhere, probably from Willie's office.
"Ah, ah, ah, what's this I smell?" Darla cooed, her high heeled boots clicking across the floor. There was a sudden blur of motion, then she was RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM.
He couldn't help his unmanly yelp as she grabbed him by the front of his vest and by his arm and FLUNG him over the bar to land on the floor next to Nathaniel. There was a shatter of glass as a bottle the toe of his shoe had clipped hit the ground.
Xander had tried to curl at the last minute, but he was already in the air by the time he realized what was happening. He hit the ground with a bone jarring thud and moaned a little to try and relieve some of the pain.
He sat up, cradling his right arm to his chest. He'd felt something POP, but it didn't seem as though anything was broken. The vibrating pain kind of hinted at a possible sprain.
"You all right?" Nathaniel whispered, pulling him up to a sitting position.
Xander jerked his head in a nod. "Yeah. I'll... I'll be all right." They were all probably going to die, but he was going to be all right. Sure.
Darla clicked her way across the floor to sneer down at him. "You thought you were going to hide? Reeking of alcohol, and you really thought you were going to get away?" She leaned down, her hand clamping around his throat as she lifted him in the air.
"Urk!" he said intelligently, his shoes squeaking against the floor as he tried to find some kind of traction so he could get away. "S'ike! 'Elp!"
"Oy, what the hell do you think you're doing to my boy?"
Darla whirled around toward where Spike had stepped around the curtain and appeared on stage. "What the hell?" She jerked a look at William, who was staring at his doppleganger with even more surprise.
Xander was so relieved to see Spike he could have wet himself, but Darla was still holding him up by his neck so he knew they weren't completely out of the woods yet.
Spike was still in his street clothes, which consisted of black jeans, a black tee shirt, his favored Doc Martens, and his black leather duster. His hair was slicked back and he had the sneering "gonna kick your ass for fun and profit" expression he'd patented in his Big Bad days. Xander really didn't know how seriously they would have taken him in a silver thong and body glitter, so he was kind of glad Spike hadn't had a chance to change into his work clothes yet.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" Angelus purred. "He looks like a twin of William, doesn't he? But he doesn't smell like a vampire, yet..." his nostrils flared as he drew in a deep breath, "he doesn't smell completely human either."
"I'm nothing your like has ever come across before," Spike sneered, "so you better let go of my boy before it gets messy in here."
Taking advantage of the momentary surprise going on, Xander brought his legs up and kicked off against Darla's stomach, jerking himself out of her grasp. It hurt like a sonuvabitch, and he probably lost a bit of skin, but it was worth it to get out of her psycho-hands.
He hit the floor hard on his butt and scrambled to his feet to scuttle his way behind Spike's back.
"You all right, pet?" Spike asked, not turning his head.
Xander jerked a nod. "Yeah, I'm good." It was kind of maybe a lie, but he was alive and that had to mean something. Besides, he had to keep it cool so Spike didn't totally nut out, which was never of the fun.
"Who are you?" William demanded, stepping forward. He seemed to really not like the idea of having a twin.
Spike sneered at him. "You look like a bloody tosser. Did you get caught in the 19th century or something? The cravat went the way of pantaloons and Hammer pants, yet there you are still wearing one. I am ashamed just looking at you. Oh what a world we live in that has such badly dressed people in it..."
Xander nudged Spike's side. "Come on now, cut him a bit of slack. You've seen how the other vamps are dressing... he got off pretty lightly. At least he's not covered in lace and skintight velvet."
William scowled at them. "Don't make fun of me! Who are you? Where did you come from?"
Spike smirked and just seeing it made Xander wince. It was Spike's most annoying expression, the one he used right before he went out of his way to make someone's life as miserable as possible. It was his favorite expression when dealing with Angel.
"They say that every person has a twin somewhere in the world. I guess you must be my good twin," Spike said.
"I thought he was supposed to be your EVIL twin?" Xander asked, his voice surprisingly mellow considering how fast his heart was pounding.
Spike turned his head to give Xander a LOOK. "I'm still the Big Bad, luv. Just because you're a good guy and I try not to make you unhappy, that doesn't mean I'm not still me where it counts."
"Yeah, yeah, you're the Big Bad." Xander rolled his eyes a little. Sometimes Spike could be such a child, especially when anyone called into question his status as an evil doer, never mind that he'd been working on the side of light for years. He absolutely refused to let go of the fact that he used to be part of the Scourge of Europe.
"Oh, pet, you cut me to the quick," Spike clutched his chest melodramatically.
Xander couldn't help laughing a little.
No matter how bad things got, as long as he had Spike with him, everything would be all right.
* * *
His boy had been looking a little pale and shaky, but he was pulling himself back together, which made Spike feel a bit better.
There was nothing like coming across your doppelganger to dispel the myth of being a unique and singularly original snowflake. Especially when that doppelganger was like a step backwards in time to a place in memory he hadn't wanted to see in a long time and could have well done without.
Angelus--as though there was any question who the tosser could be--cruised around him in a curious circle, his eyes trying to eat Spike alive. "And who exactly do you think you are?" he asked.
Spike shrugged his shoulders, pulling Xander closer against his side. "I don't think I'm anyone. I know who I am. And who might you be, mate? Fancy yourself some kind of hardass, yeah? Think you're gonna bring the world down to your feet and walk all over it, yeah?”
Angelus sneered. "You look like our William, but you definitely need a few lessons in manners."
"I have manners... they just don't happen to be good ones for you."
It was kind of strange looking at someone that looked like Angel, sounded like Angel, and even smelled like the man... but was definitely on a whole 'nother level. And not necessarily a better one.
Say what you will about his relationship with Angel, Spike had finally come to appreciate his grandsire for the broody, tormented soul, sobby wanker that he was. And this new Angelus? Definitely a second stringer by the looks of him.
"You're pretty mouthy, aren't you? Maybe I should teach you a little lesson," Angelus growled, though it kind of lost a bit of impact since his kind of vampire didn't have another face to change to.
"I'd like to see you try," Spike snorted. "There's like a dozen ways to kill your kind, so I really don't think you wanna try taking me on. I used to be a Champion for Good, you know. A little on vacation now, but I've still got all my skills intact."
"And what about your boy, there? You really think you can keep him safe?"
Spike couldn't help the growl that thundered up his throat or the way his eyes flashed yellow. "Don't you dare threaten Xander."
"Well, well, well. You're playing at being human, but you're not, are you?" Angelus was amused, never a good sign. "So what exactly are you?"
Spike put on his most shit-eatingest grin possible. "I'm one handsome bugger, which is more than I can say about you."
Angelus snarled, the brown of his eyes filling up the white until that was all there was. He radiated power and rage. "You've got a nasty tongue on you, boy. I think I'm going to enjoy ripping it out."
It was just his luck to have ended up on a world where Angelus had even more of an anger management problem than he had ever had before. Spike just hoped that his boy wasn't going to end up maimed in the brawl he could already see brewing.
He felt the fingers Xander had curled in the fabric of his jacket release and the younger man step back a little. Not enough to be out of his protection, but enough that Spike would have room to move fast if he needed.
"You really don't want to be messing with us, here," Spike said, running a hand through his hair. "We've been living a fairly quiet life recently, but that don't mean we'd back away from a spot of trouble when it presents itself."
Angelus ran his eyes up and down Spike's body, sneering all the while. "You look like a whore, boy. I don't think you have much you can really do."
Spike snarled a little. "Please. I'm much more the Big Bad here than that ponce you got over there," he nodded toward William, who growled before Dru pulled him back to sit next to her on the couch, absently stroking his head like a dog. Her eyes had that faraway glint they got when she wasn't quite seeing the here-and-now, but the later-and-not-yet. Though just looking at her and the way she was acting, Spike could tell she wasn't nearly as broken as his Dark Princess had been.
"And why do you look like our dear William?" Angelus demanded.
Spike scoffed. "It's not me that looks like that tosser," he said. "He obviously looks like me."
He heard Xander laugh a little behind him, and it sent a spark through his heart. Even though things were looking a little grim, it was good to know that his boy could still see the upside in any situation. Xander's spirit was as yet unbroken. And he planned on seeing that it remained that way.
* * *
Xander stuck close to Spike, waiting to find out how bad things were going to get. And to be honest, things were never that good when Angelus and the gang made an appearance.
He turned his head a little and saw that Nathaniel was wearing that weird almost-constipated face he got whenever he was talking to someone through his Marks. The other man was still nearly naked, his body streaked with glitter and sweat and there was a dark smear across one cheekbone. Otherwise he was pretty much all right, his lycanthropy having protected him from any broken bones even though he'd been tossed off the stage. Plus Jason was keeping by his side, offering whatever protection that was worth.
Xander kind of considered the two men his friends, but he had to admit that they were pretty low on the totem power wise for this world. They could take out normal humans without breaking a sweat, but any other weres or vampires would have them for breakfast.
He'd talked to Nathaniel a bunch of times about his past, and he could only be glad that Nathaniel had found a protector before he ended up dead, even if that protector happened to be the Executioner. Or as Xander had nicknamed her in his head, "Coffin bait." And never mind that was totally pot calling kettle black, since Spike was on a whole other level to Jean-Claude.
Xander shook his head, focusing back on the situation at hand. He hadn't been in a good life-or-death situation in awhile, and it was obvious that his brain was trying to cope with mind numbing terror by sending him off in the clouds. But he needed to focus on the here and now if he wanted to get out of the situation alive.
"What are we going to do?" he whispered close to Spike's ear, his lips barely moving.
"Kick arse and take names," Spike quipped back.
Xander couldn't help laughing a little. Spike was still Spike no matter what world they were on.
So it was kind of a relief when the door was kicked down by an angry Executioner, because he really didn't want to find out how Spike's brand of vampire faired up against this world's vampire in a four-on-one free for all when neither of them had any weapons.
"We'll talk later," Angelus growled at Spike, turning to face the "real" threat.
Xander was curious himself and turned to look. Sure he'd been working at Guilty Pleasures, but as a "human/non-combatant" he had never really seen Anita Blake in full on bad ass mode. She was more like a figure in passing, occasionally walking through the club, but never staying very long. She always acted as though she was too good for strip clubs.
Looking at her, posing with her tough girl expression on, he was reminded a bit of Buffy in Slayer-mode. Though when she started with the bitch-voice and brought out her powers and whatever else she had going for her, he couldn't help thinking that Buffy would have wiped the floor with her. Sure, she was tough and all, but she let the little things get in the way of the mission. And when the situation got too serious, she would try to fuck her way out of trouble, which had never been his first impulse.
He'd heard rumors of the ardeur and what it did, the power it gave her and the control it took away, but he really didn't care to understand what was going on. 'Cause seriously, whenever he was in a life-or-death situation, sex was the last thing on his mind. The first thing he always thought of was keeping Spike close and trying to get a hold of a weapon.
Which is why the moment Anita Blake and Jean-Claude appeared with Richard, Asher, Damian, and about half a dozen other powerful vamps and lycanthropes as backup, Xander grabbed the back of Spike's duster and dragged him off to the side toward where their bags were stored.
'Cause if there was one thing life in Sunnydale had taught him growing up, it was always to be prepared. Which is why he had a couple of silver daggers sewed into the lining of his duffel bag, a water bottle filled with Holy water tucked in next to his towel, and some sharp stakes sewed into the stiff lining of his bag's shoulder strap.
Weapons were always of the good. It was practically the second rule of slaying, right after "Don't die."