moscow_watcher: (Faith)
[personal profile] moscow_watcher
Title: Black Magic White Lies
Chapter 12 - In Which Xander Looks Into Abyss
Timeline: BtVS, alternate season 5
Genre: drama, mystery, action
Characters, pairing: general, Xander/Faith
Rating: R (for intense situations).
Summary: Xander thinks he has a little secret. He doesn't know that his little secret is a part of a big fat conspiracy.
Disclaimer: They all belong to Joss. He said I could play with'em, so there.
Author's notes: Much thanks to my wonderful betas [personal profile] lusciousxander and [personal profile] deird1 who encourage me, help me with character voices, fix my bad grammar and style. All mistakes are mine. This is my first plotty multi-character fic, so concrit is very welcome.


The story starts here

Xander can't believe his torment is over. They know. They don't mind. At least vocally. Even Buffy doesn't say anything, just pours all her frustration onto Spike. Xander watches them snark and tries not to grin. Even Spike can be useful. In small doses.

Buffy is tense around Faith but tries not to show it. Faith also tries to act relaxed, but she instinctively covers her belly with both hands every time Buffy approaches her. Xander hugs her shoulders and feels how she stiffens. He doesn't even try to imagine how it feels, to be in the same room with the person who stabbed you. How it feels to be heavily pregnant and helpless in the presence of somebody who stuck a knife in your gut.

"You okay?' he whispers to Faith. She nods and snuggles into him. He wants this moment to last forever, but Giles and Willow finish the preparations for the spell in his tiny spare room and call him in.

As he tears himself off Faith and stands up reluctantly, a wave of loss rushes through him. He doesn't understand why he feels so sad and desperate.

"I'll be back soon," he says to Faith before realizing that he has just said The Requisite Phrase Of The Next Movie Victim.

Spike smirks. "Don't worry, mate. I'll hold the fort and make sure that our Slayers won't get into a catfight."

Buffy glares. "My fist so misses your nose, Spike!"

Xander smiles automatically and closes the door behind him.

...At first, there is nothing but darkness. Bittersweet incense makes his head spin; his limbs are weightless and he can only feel his heart pounding loudly and menacingly. Then a flicker of a lighter reveals Spike's face. "Hey, I'm not the one out of place here," Spike says.

"For your information, smarty, we've got a rogue slayer on our hands. Real psycho-killer, too."

Xander hears and sees himself, in a dirty alley, Giles at his side.

No, it's not Giles, it's Faith, who pins him to a wall and kisses hungrily. At the same place. In the same time. He knows it. It's impossible, yet it has happened.

Giles' face appears again. "What do you know, Spike?" he asks. "Have you seen her?" His face blurs and suddenly it's not him - it's Faith, who laughs nervously. "Are you afraid of me, Xander?" - "Terrified," he says honestly. "Should I be?" She looks at him intensely, calculating. "Can we go to your place?" - "I live in my parents' basement, so..." - "Do you have money for a motel room?" - "Faith, listen. You can't run forever. Sooner or later Buffy will find..." - "She will never find me." - "She has Spike with his vampire sense of smell..."

Except it's not Faith, it's Spike, puffing his cigarette. "Tell you what I'll do, then. Head out, find this girl, tell her exactly where all of you are, and then watch as she kills you. Can't anyone in your damned little Scoobie Club at least try to remember that I hate you all?"

Realities shift and turn inside out. Xander desperately clings to the Faith bits, but they fade out and melt into darkness. Now he can clearly see that he spent that fateful evening with Giles, looking for Faith in the dark alleys; that the only person they met was Spike who mocked them; that he came home long past midnight, exhausted and pissed because of the futility of their search.

Then, suddenly, everything blurs and glitters and crumbles and he lies on a cold, hard floor of his spare room, among old boxes and broken things, fighting the nausea. He wants to curl in a ball and never open his eyes again. And never face the truth. He hadn't met Faith that night and they hadn't been making love. Whatever is inside her - it isn't their baby.

He finally understands the expression "to look into an abyss".

No, he doesn't have time for this. He has to think quickly. Could it be a mind trick? Willow's spell gone awry? Somebody's manipulation? At least, he hasn't cheated on Anya. Has he? If he remembers something that hasn't happened, does it count?

In any case, Faith shouldn't know. She shouldn't get upset in her condition. Buffy? No, he can't tell her. Who knows what she would do if she found out. Spike works with Buffy so he shouldn't know as well.

He has to tell Willow as soon as possible - but he has to find a moment when Faith isn't around. Same goes for Buffy and Spike. Damn his vampire ears.

And he thought he was through with secrets. He groans softly as he tries to sit up. Apparently, damn vampire ears catch the sound, because a second later the door opens and Willow appears, escorted by Spike and Buffy.

"Xander? You're okay?"

"Dizzy," he croaks.

They help him on his feet and lead him to the couch in the living-room. He avoids looking Faith in the eye as he sits down awkwardly next to her.

"What? What have you seen?"

"Nothing," he murmurs with leaden lips. He feels numb.

"Nothing unusual?" Willow asks, her eyes shining with worry.

He doesn't want to shake his head, doesn't intend to. But, apparently, he does, because Willow looks guilty and disappointed. "Oh... I'm sorry for putting you through this."

"Pity you don't have a magic penis," Faith says.

"So, what's on the agenda?" Buffy asks impatiently.

Giles pinches the bridge of his nose. "Either you stay here tonight to guard them, Buffy, or..."

"Or?" she repeats impatiently.

"Or Willow does a Sanctorium spell that makes violence impossible."

"Sanctorium spell," Buffy and Xander say in unison.

Giles sighs. "I hoped to avoid it, frankly. Magic hurts Faith..."

"I can put up with it," she says curtly.

"I appreciate your courage, Faith, but Willow has already done a lot of magic today, when we had no other choice. And magic is very addictive."

"I'm okay!" Willow insists. "This spell will be the last one for a while. As soon as it's done we can all relax. It stops any violence within the closed space. As long as Faith stays here nobody and nothing can harm her."

Giles nods reluctantly. "All right then. I'll call Anya and she will bring the ingredients from the Magic Box."

Oh, God. Anya. Xander shudders involuntarily.

"I can bring them myself," Willow says hastily. Apparently, she's noticed the sheer panic on his face.

Giles shakes his head. "We need to do the spell as quickly as possible. I'll call Anya."

Faith stretches her limbs. "Just great, trading one prison for another." Off Xander's hurt look she grins. "Kidding, stupid. Listen, how about getting some shut eye? I'm a bit tired."

In the bedroom she snuggles in his bed and tentatively smiles at him. A wave of heat rises in his chest. He wants to tell her that everything will be okay, but he's already exceeded his daily quota of jinx phrases. Besides, there is big lump in his throat. So he just sits down on the edge of the bed and strokes her hair.

Silently, she takes his hand and puts on her belly. He stiffens as he feels the baby moving.

"She kicks like a future slayer," Faith says proudly.

He can't miss such an opening. "What did your doctor say? Could she really be a slayer? Or is she a regular human?"

Something changes in her face. "They did an ultrasound. Several times. She's a regular human. At least that's what they told me." She turns her face away and closes her eyes. Like she knows why he's asking. Uneasy, he covers her with a comforter and, after a brief hesitation, returns to the living room. Now, if only he could get rid of Buffy and Spike and talk to Willow...

Buffy meets him with a cup of tea. "You must be dead tired," she says. "I can make you something to eat."

He forces a smile. "I thought it was my duty to go for donuts. Thanks, Buff. You're the best. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Let's not find out." She hugs him awkwardly. "I can't believe it hurt me so much, that you didn't trust me enough to tell about... about you and her."

She is so contrite that he almost tells her. He even opens his mouth to spill everything, but...

"No, don't say anything - I know it's entirely my fault. I did a lot of things I'm not proud of. I understand why you didn't want to tell me. It's just..." She chuckles. "You know that wrenching outsider feeling? I felt like a fool when she told me in front of everybody. Why I was the last one to find out?"

"Not the last one," Spike puts in. "I found out at the same time."

Buffy glares. "I mean friends, Spike, not fists-for-hire".

Spike does that thing with his tongue, the one that always embarrasses Xander, and fishes a cigarette out of the pocket.

"No smoking here, Evil Dead." Xander nods to the balcony door.

Buffy looks flushed as she follows Spike with her eyes. "Sorry I brought him here."

"Maybe you should go home," he suggests. "You look tired. Willow told me you spent several days at the hospital. You need rest."

Buffy shakes head.

"No way. We don't know when these demons might attack again. You have to put up with me and Spike until the spell is done. As soon as it's done we go home... I mean I'll go visit Mom and then I'll go home and Spike - I don't know - will go doing his regular evil stuff. I mean - not really evil, because he's chipped - but something annoying and stupid, like he usually does..."

Xander sighs. Lately she's been going into the babble mode whenever she mentions Spike.

But he instantly forgets about it as he accidentally notices Giles' calculating gaze. Xander doesn't like the expression on his face. Giles seems to be thinking about something that has nothing to do with Willow's spell. Does he really look guilty?

Xander makes a cup of tea for Faith, grabs a packet of cookies and retreats to the bedroom. He enters quietly in case she is sleeping, and has a moment of panic when he sees an empty bed. Then he hears voices from the outside and realizes that she went out on the balcony through the bedroom door.

"Absolutely sure." Spike's voice. "Your baby has a regular human pulse. Why?"

"Just in case. They might have foreseen medical tests but they could hardly foresee vampire's ear."

As Xander's eyes adjust to the darkness, he makes out two silhouettes outside. Spike is crouching, his ear pressed to Faith's abdomen. "Who - they? Who are these buggers that are trying to kill you, luv?"

"Ask your friends. They know more than me."

It's wrong to eavesdrop. Xander desperately wants to go away, or to reveal his presence. But his voice is gone and his feet are rooted into the floor.

"They're not my friends," Spike says as he stands up. "I help the Slayer only because she pays me."

Faith's laugh is dripping with honey. Who knew she could laugh so catchingly?

"Hey, blondy - you think I'm blind? I see how you and B look at each other."

"We don't!" Spike exclaims. "Or, well, I guess we do look at each other, but not like you mean! I hate Slayers! Really! I kill them, and everything!"

Faith chuckles. "You know how to make an impression, tiger."

"I don't mean you - I kill the other ones. Especially Summers. The most annoying, condescending, self-righteous bint who doesn't know what she wants."

"She wants you," Faith says cheerfully. "She's itching to touch you. Come on, blondy, you might have tricked the Scoobies, but you can't trick me."

"Thank God your boyfriend isn't that sharp," Spike grumbles. "He'd stake me if he found out."

Faith laughs again. "Use me as leverage. Xander's evil girlfriend versus Buffy's evil boyfriend."

Xander is shocked. Buffy and Spike? And he thought he was through with surprises. The idea of Buffy wanting Spike fills him with disgust - but then the doorbell ringing announces Anya's arrival, and the only disgust left in him is the utter disgust at himself.

Next: chapter 13 - In Which Xander Finds Out About Giles' Secret

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