Disclaimer: Recognizable characters do not belong to me. The belong to Mutant Enemy and Sony Pictures, respectively. I am only playing with them for my own amusement.
Adam was dead. Not that Xander had been afraid 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 is 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 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 and had left. She said she'd be back, but it didn't matter. If she came back, he wouldn't be there.
The only other person he would have told, was leaving too. Spike. The supremely annoying, irritatingly sarcastic vampire that had shared his basement with him on numerous occasions was leaving Sunnydale. He had been angry at the Initiatives 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 him. 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 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. When Angel turned back around Spike nodded.
"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 really 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 very often that one of his power and age was summoned by the council. Something had happened. Something beyond their control. Something, they believed he could help them with.
So, 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.
They 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 Lucius was in the middle of whatever it was. Nothing happened in Toronto without his 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 kind 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 entirely certain 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 with the exception of 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 none the less. 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 the 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 very special 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 very long time indeed since he had sired another of his kind. Centuries, and then only a very 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 very, very 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 that 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 the very least, and he had had no knowledge of where this train was headed, 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 breath forced the air out. However that didn't happen. He sat their 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 very familiar to him, but he couldn't quite 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 him mind assuming that 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 that he had seen this man, briefly, when he had awoken during the night.
But the sense of his 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 forties, early fifties. His hair was a dark brown, like his own. His eyes were a deep dark brown, rich in their warmth, contradicting what he knew this man was capable of. Some part of his 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 horse, 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 awhile. 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 loud speakers, telling them they were nearing the 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 starred at it for a moment, replaying his conversation inside his head. He had called Willow. He couldn't *not* call her. He had promised to call her every week, 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, 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 slay 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 very old, and very 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 brought across.
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 that 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 Spike, the one vampire that Xander had really 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 that 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.