Hurt & Comfort

Book 7: From Hurt to Comfort

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Chapter 26: Unruffled

"So Remy, how is it that you had all the ingredients for this fantastic meal?" Ken asked curiously.

"Remy plan to make a meal for de family tomorrow. But all de family be here today..." Remy finished with a shrug.

"Everything has been excellent. You are a very good cook." Ken said with appreciation.

"Thank you." Remy said humbly as he continued to enjoy his dessert.

"Yes, it's very good. Now I know that Marguerite will be well fed." Vada said as she took another bite of cobbler.

"Remy can cook de big meal like dis. Xander be a good cook for de everyday meals." Remy said seriously.

"Thanks love." Xander said and gave Remy a kiss on the cheek.

"So Wesley, what brings you to the boathouse this afternoon?" Andrew asked curiously.

"I actually had some questions about your experience closing the hellmouth, if you wouldn't mind talking about it." Wesley said as he turned in his chair again.

"I wouldn't mind at all. In fact, we have several people here who can tell you about it. Xander was there, Faith... Angel had a part in it. And if we need to we can get Dawn to come over when she gets back from shopping." Andrew said seriously.

"I believe she told me the relevant information from her point of view last night. There are just a few details I'm curious to know. The arrival of a bringer prompted me to do some research." Wesley said, then turned quickly for another bite of his food.

"Okay, let's take our desserts to the living room and discuss it. Who would like some coffee?" Andrew asked as he rose from his place.

Andrew looked around the table and called, "Jimmy, could you take down coffee orders?"

"Yes father." Jimmy said and bounded into the dining room with his padd.

"And Wesley, we have sassafras, chamomile, oolong and Darjeeling tea if you're interested." Andrew said with a smile.

Wesley got a big smile and said, "Thank you, Darjeeling would be fine."

After taking everyone's drink orders, Jimmy looked at the list and said, "Father, I can prepare the drinks."

"If you need my help, just ask." Andrew said seriously.

Jimmy nodded and went to the kitchen.

As people began moving to the living room, Icheb said, "We will take care of the dishes."

* * * * *

One by one the children finished their desserts and began to clear dishes.

Bobby and Robert went immediately to the sink and began to prepare dishwater.

Icheb grabbed a towel and moved to Robert's side.

Trey waited by the empty cupboards where the dishes were kept.

William, Peter and Janine carried dishes from the dining room.

Ronny and John took the plates and scraped them off before handing them to Bobby.

Chris sat in a chair that Peter had dragged into the kitchen and watched helplessly.

Jimmy noticed Chris' expression and said, "If you will take this padd and tell me what each person wants, I will prepare their drinks."

Chris smiled and accepted the padd.

* * * * *

All the adults sat in the living room and waited for someone to start the conversation.

"Dawn told me how you closed the hellmouth permanently, but I need to know about the vampire who sacrificed himself. As I understand the underlying principle of the spell, his motives would have an influence on the overall effect." Wesley said with concern.

"Um, Spike was in love with Buffy." Andrew said in thought.

"No, he wasn't." Xander said immediately.

"What?" Andrew asked in surprise.

"He loved her, but he understood that she didn't really love him in return. He accepted that and his love was more like friendship at the end." Xander said with a note of sadness.

"How do you know that?" Angel asked curiously.

"Spike and I became... sort of friends. We weren't the buddy type friends like I am with the guys here. But if either of us really needed to talk about some serious stuff, we'd get together, have a few beers and talk it out." Xander said quietly.

"So what do you think his motive was for sacrificing himself?" Wesley asked with concern.

"To save the lives of the people he cared about." Xander said darkly, reliving the pain of losing someone he considered a friend.

"Altruism... That creates an imbalance." Wesley said in thought.

"What do you mean?" Aunt Vada asked, genuinely interested in the statement.

"If Spike had sacrificed himself for the love of a woman, it would have been sufficient to seal the hellmouth. That was the intention of the basic spell. But if his true motivation was to save the lives of friends, not a lover, at the cost of his own life... it creates an imbalance in... karma, for lack of a better word. But that alone wouldn't account for the bringer." Wesley said with difficulty.

"What would?" Andrew asked with concern.

"Possibly a shrine. Some sort of monument erected in his honor." Wesley said seriously.

"What would that do?" Andrew asked in confusion.

"His soul was destined to be transmogrified to a specific plane upon his final death. If he had died for the love of Buffy, then a quid pro quo arrangement is in place. But in this case, his altruistic intent made for an imbalance which forced him into limbo. Then someone created a monument in his name, which gave him a form... albeit an insubstantial one." Wesley rambled.

"So he's a ghost?" Andrew asked hesitantly.

"Yes. I suppose that would be an apt description." Wesley said consideringly.

"I still don't get where the bringer comes into this." Faith said cautiously.

"Spike is stuck between worlds... bound to the hellmouth. And that imbalance keeps the hellmouth open, just a little. Like a foot in the door." Wesley said carefully.

"So you mean he sacrificed himself for nothing?" Xander asked in horror.

"No. The imbalance keeps the door open, fix that and the door is closed permanently." Wesley said with certainty.

"Can we restore the balance?" Angel asked with concern.

"Yes. It is possible. That's why the bringer arrived. The forces that want to reopen the door know this as well and are sending minions to try and prevent us from permanently closing it." Wesley said in thought.

"What do we need to do?" Andrew asked cautiously.

"Resurrect Spike."

* * * * *

Ronny and John were still scraping off plates and handing them to Bobby to wash.

"The coffee is ready. Who would like to help carry it out?" Jimmy asked as he began to fill the cups.

"We're done, we can help." Ronny said as he sat the last of the dishes by the sink to be washed.

"Thank you Ronny, this one is for Mr. Howlett and this one is for Aunt Vada." Jimmy said as he handed the cups to Ronny.

"This is for Uncle Warren and the one with cream is for Uncle Kurt." Jimmy said and handed cups to John.

"William, this is the last of the blood you got for Uncle Angel." Jimmy said and handed the mug to William.

Jimmy took two cups and followed the boys out of the kitchen.

* * * * *

"Resurrect Spike? How? He was destroyed." Xander asked as he moved to the edge of his chair.

"His physical form was destroyed. His essence still exists. He is nearly reconstructed, a novice witch could do the spell to give him physical form." Wesley said simply.

"But?" Andrew said.

At Wesley's questioning look, Andrew made a rolling motion with his hands to indicate for him to continue.

"But we must enact the ritual at the monument and will need the blood of an immortal to complete it." Wesley said in a rush.

"Is that all?" Andrew threw up his hands in an exaggerated gesture.

"What kind of monument are we looking for?" Angel asked carefully.

"It must be something valuable, rare, or incredibly special that is dedicated to his name." Wesley said darkly.

"What is it?" Xander asked at the look in Angel's eyes.

The boys walked into the room and started handing out cups.

"I don't know. We're overlooking something... Something that's right in front of us." Angel said as he accepted the mug from William.

"Say it again Wesley." Andrew said in thought.

"It must be something valuable, rare, or incredibly special that is dedicated to his name." Wesley said with less enthusiasm this time.

"Hold on." Andrew said as he thought.

"His name! William." Alan said with wide eyes.

"That's it. William is named after Spike, William Alan Spike Summers." Andrew said with excitement.

"And he is valuable, rare and incredibly special." Alan said with a smile.

"Now we need to find an immortal." Wesley said with concern.

"Can I do it?" Angel asked.

"No, I'm afraid your blood is... borrowed. This must be a human immortal." Wesley said with a tone of apology.

"How immortal?" Alan asked carefully.

"What do you mean?" Wesley asked hesitantly.

"Do you need someone indestructible or just someone who doesn't age?" Alan answered with a question.

"Someone who doesn't age should be sufficient, do you know of such a person?" Wesley asked hopefully.

"Wesley, I am twenty-three, this is my father who is forty-two. Will we do?" Andrew asked as his mood turned dark. He couldn't help but think about the future.

"Yes, how extraordinary, I thought it would take weeks to find someone." Wesley said with excitement.

* * * * *

"We have two people who can perform the ritual, and we have the monument. If no one objects, we can perform the ritual and be done with this entire situation before the powers working against us can do anything to stop us." Wesley said.

"Now? You mean, perform a ritual here? Now?" Alex asked in disbelief.

"Yes. It is not complicated, but it will require the blood of one of you." Wesley said as he looked at Andrew and Lee.

"May I move this table so I can perform the ritual here?" Wesley asked, puzzled by Andrew's sudden dark change in mood.

"Sure." Andrew said quietly and snuggled into Alan's side.

Wesley moved the table and marked out a circle on the floor with chalk.

"If that doesn't come up, I'm sending you the cleaning bill." Scott said seriously.

Wesley nodded as he continued to mark out the circle.

"It works better if you have a piece of string and someone standing in the middle." Xander said to Wesley.

Wesley paused to flash an exasperated look at Xander before completing the circle.

"William, would you stand in the center?" Wesley asked commandingly.

"Father?" William asked hesitantly.

"It's your choice William. He's trying to bring Spike back." Andrew said quietly.

William walked into the circle and waited.

"Now I will need one of you to provide me some blood for the ritual." Wesley said hopefully.

Andrew was about to stand when Lee hopped up and walked to Wesley.

"Dad?" Andrew asked in confusion.

"I can't let you have all the fun. Let me do it this once." Lee said with a smile.

"Thanks Dad." Andrew said and snuggled again.

Wesley began a long complicated ritual as everyone watched.

After about five minutes Icheb walked out of the kitchen and asked, "What is he doing?"

"Magic." Andrew said simply, then turned to look at Icheb.

"Would you go to the bedroom and get the spare blanket?" Andrew asked absently.

"Yes Father." Icheb said and walked to the bedroom.

"You cold Andy?" Alan asked with worry.

"No. But I think Spike might be if he manifests buck naked in our living room in front of twenty people." Andrew said with a smile.

"Good thinking love." Alan said and kissed Andrew on the top of the head.

* * * * *

"God this is boring. I thought magic would be all sparkly and exciting." Alex whined.

"Oh yeah. And this is a fairly simple spell. There are some that go on for days like this." Andrew said as he watched from Alan's embrace.

"So all his gibbering is going to cause this Spike person to appear?" Vada asked curiously.

"Yeah. That's as good an explanation as anything I can come up with." Andrew said with a fond smile.

"And this Spike person... What is he going to do when he gets here?" Vada asked curiously.

"I don't know. We'll ask him what he wants to do." Andrew said without concern.

"Will he be my brother?" Chris asked from the kitchen doorway.

Angel saw Chris standing and motioned for him to come and sit.

Chris sat on Angel's lap and snuggled close.

Angel held him loosely and said, "We'll just have to see how things go when he gets here."

Wesley finally raised his voice and said some words in a demon language before drawing a blade across Lee's hand.

"Shit! Ow! I just thought you were going to stick me a little, not slice." Lee said as Wesley firmly held Lee's hand in the circle.

William watched as a mist formed around him and waited breathlessly as something began to form.

"Icheb, get the blanket ready." Andrew said as he continued to watch.

Icheb picked up the blanket and waited for it to be needed.

The mist resolved into the form of Spike laying at William's feet, curled into a fetal ball... naked as a babe.

Icheb walked casually to Spike and threw a blanket over him.

* * * * *

"Dad, come with me and I'll take care of your hand. Kids, go downstairs and give Spike a few minutes to wake up." Andrew said as Wesley examined Spike.

"Wow, it worked." Xander said in an impressed tone.

"How is he?" Angel asked with concern and noticed that Chris had fallen asleep.

"He seems fine but..." Wesley trailed off with a furrowed brow.

"But?" Angel asked cautiously.

"He seems to be fully human. He has a pulse and his skin is warm." Wesley said in confusion.

"So is he William?" Angel asked with a hint of concern.

"Let's find out... does anyone have a cross?" Wesley asked and looked around the room.

Everyone looked to Kurt who squirmed under the stares and finally shook his head shyly.

"Here, but I want it back." Vada said and took a silver cross from around her neck.

"Yes, this will just take a moment." Wesley said as he walked to Aunt Vada to take the necklace.

Carefully, Wesley pressed the cross against the back of Spike's hand.

The skin began to smoke and Spike suddenly awoke.

"What the bloody hell are you doing you stupid git?" Spike screamed and knocked the cross from Wesley's hand.

"I guess that means that he's not William." Scott said in a considering voice.

"But if he has a pulse... what is he?" Xander asked carefully.

"A daywalker." Angel said darkly.

Spike looked around the room in confusion and noticed that he had thrown his blanket off.

"Someone's not a natural blond." Faith said with a smile.

"Spike, come over here and I'll explain things to you." Xander said in a friendly tone.

Spike gathered the blanket around him and sat on the couch beside Xander.

"What's the last thing you remember?" Xander asked carefully.

"I was in Sunnyhell. The evil bloke was about to kill everyone and I put on the ugly necklace and gave it up to save all the people." Spike said slowly.

"Yeah, well that was a couple months ago. Sunnydale blew up, we thought you were dead until Wesley found a way to bring you back." Xander said, then asked the room. "Am I leaving something out? That seems too simple."

"Well, we're in a different dimension. You're married. Andrew is married and has six kids. Willow was a vengeance demon. And all the Scoobies were infected with malignant evil. Besides that, no, I think you got it all." Faith said with a smile.

Spike looked around the room and said, "Peaches, what's that you've got? A snack?"

Angel let his game face flash on for a second, then said, "This is my son, Chris." Then Angel got a mischievous smile and said, "Your brother."

Spike sat stunned by that statement as Andrew and Lee came back into the living room.

Andrew walked back into the living room with Lee and noticed Icheb in the basement stairway.

"Icheb, who's clothes do you think would fit Spike best?" Andrew asked as he took his seat beside Alan.

Icheb thought for a second, then said, "Uncle Alex."

"Do you have something Spike can borrow Alex?" Andrew asked hopefully.

"Yeah, sure. You wanna come with me Spike? I'll get you something to wear." Alex said as he got off the couch.

"One thing first, mate. Who the bloody hell are you? Where the bloody hell am I? And why the bloody hell am I naked in your bloody living room?" Spike asked from the couch.

"That's three things. But to answer your questions. Alex Summers, Westchester, New York, in an alternate universe, and because Wesley only resurrected your body, not your clothes." Alex said with an impish grin.

Spike thought about the answer and looked at the smile.

"Fair enough." Spike said and hoisted himself off the couch.

Alex led the way upstairs.

"Spike's going to be a little upset when he sees..."

"Bloody hell!"

...Alex's wardrobe." Xander finished with a chuckle.

"Spike's not into Hawaiian?" Scott asked.

"He never seemed to be when he borrowed my clothes." Xander said with a smile.

* * * * *

"The right side of the closet is my stuff, help yourself." Alex said as he took a seat on his bed.

"Bloody hell!" Spike screamed and staggered back from the Hawaiian shirts glowing out from the closet.

"They're not that bad... and if you look in the back, you'll find some darker ones." Alex said quietly.

"So who's got the other side of the wardrobe? Your lover?" Spike asked and waggled his eyebrows.

"My older brother." Alex said weakly.

"So what do you do for a good shag around this place?" Spike asked as he looked through clothes.

"If you find out, you tell me. I'm not getting any." Alex said honestly.

"Since when?" Spike asked curiously as he pulled a shirt out of the back of the closet, then returned it.

"Since ever." Alex said shyly.

"Virgin?" Spike asked in wonder as he looked at Alex.

"Yeah." Alex said, wilting under Spike's incredulous gaze.

Spike looked into the closet again and spotted a pair of black jeans. He grabbed onto them quickly and lost the grip on his blanket.

Alex looked with appreciation as Spike hurriedly put on the black jeans.

"Fit like a bloody glove." Spike said happily.

Alex looked at Spike's half dressed body and walked to the dresser.

"Here, try this on." Alex said and threw Spike a black pocket T-shirt.

"Ta mate." Spike said and pulled on the shirt.

"It looks good." Alex said with a smile.

"Well, I'm in a new place, with a bunch of new people. The only ones I know are the Puppy boy and Peaches, oh and that squirley little Andrew bloke." Spike said and took a seat beside Alex.

"They're all okay. A lot of people live here, but not everyone who's downstairs." Alex said honestly.

"I got me a sense 'bout people. You're a good one. Prolly too good for the likes of me. I'm not good at getting to know new folks... I used to not care, I'd just kill'em... but anyway, can you help a poor sod out and help me along?" Spike asked hopefully.

"What do you need help with?" Alex asked uncertainly.

"Something's different. It's like my demon's been... neutered or something. I don't feel the rage, I don't crave the blood... I'm not me anymore. I don't know how to be like this." Spike said helplessly.

"How do you want to be?" Alex asked quietly.

"Dunno. I guess I been dead and since I did a good thing, I got a second chance. So I guess I'd better take advantage of that and be one of the good guys, like what made me like this." Spike said unsurely.

"Before you start putting on an act for everyone to see, why don't you just try being yourself, without any act?" Alex asked carefully.

"I can't be like that. I can't get no bloody respect being a wuss poet from the west end of London." Spike said sadly.

"You're a poet? I'd love to hear some of your work." Alex said with a gentle smile.

Spike looked into Alex's face and smiled in return.

"Not yet. I need to get settled in somewhere... but then I will." Spike said with the slightest hint of affection.

"Good. And for now, just try being yourself. If you don't like it, you can go back to your world and be your badass self again." Alex said with a chuckle.

"What have you heard?" Spike asked cautiously.

"Not much, I promise Spike." Alex said with a gentle laugh.

Spike nodded and said, "I think I'd like it if you called me Wil. The name 'Spike' just sounds wrong coming from you."

"Thanks, I think... Wil"

* * * * *

"So what are we going to do with him?" Scott asked the room.

"Let's ask him." Andrew said simply.

"What if he wants to stay here?" Scott asked with concern.

"Well, he could sleep in the bathtub..." Alan said hesitantly.

"I wouldn't suggest that to him. Last time he slept in a bathtub, he was chained there." Xander said quietly.

"Kinky." Faith said with a smile.

"Giles didn't want to have an unrestrained vampire in his house." Xander said frankly.

"We have two couches, he can sleep on one of them if he wants. Now on to the next topic, the safety of our children." Alan said firmly.

"Icheb, come up here for a minute." Andrew called down the basement stairs.

In just a moment, Icheb was standing before his father expectantly.

"Icheb, can you think of anything that would prevent a vampire from draining you in your alcoves while you regenerate?" Andrew asked bluntly.

"Besides the preemptive destruction of the vampire?" Icheb asked in confirmation.

Andrew nodded.

"A proximity alarm can be easily installed on our alcoves. If anyone moves within two meters of one of our alcoves, regeneration will cease immediately." Icheb said in a considering tone.

"Good, do it. And see if you can install some kind of comm device or panic button so you can call for help if you need it from every alcove." Andrew said firmly.

"Isn't that a bit much love?" Alan asked with concern.

"No. It's not just Spike that I'm worried about. While we were on Voyager, we didn't have to be on guard every minute. Here there are mutant-hating fanatics, demons, vampires and just your run of the mill sickos who might like the chance to hurt the kids." Andrew said with worry.

Alan nodded in acceptance.

"We will begin immediately." Icheb said and went to the basement, after noticing Chris who was still asleep on Angel's lap.

"What's taking them so long?" Scott asked as he looked in the general direction of Alex's room.

"They're probably trying to find something non-Hawaiian for Spike to wear." Xander said with a smile.

* * * * *

"Wil, are you ready to meet everyone?" Alex asked carefully.

"Yeah, but don't be put off if I seem a little gruff, I've got me a reputation to maintain." Spike said softly.

"I promise that you don't have to keep the reputation here. If you wanted, you could be yourself in this house, and if you asked, no one would tell anyone outside that you aren't an evil fiend." Alex said with assurance.

"How bout this, I'll try to keep me a civil tongue and see what happens. That way I can give it a try if I want to, but won't be committed to anything either way if I don't." Spike said carefully.

"That sounds good. And no matter what you decide, I won't tell anyone that you were decent to me. If you decide to be an evil bastard, I'll let them think you were that way to me too." Alex said as a vow.

"Ta mate." Spike said with a smile, then let the expression fall from his face to be replaced by a bored snarl.

Alex giggled at the transformation.

"You're going to have to act more scared of me than that." Spike said and let his smile return.

"I'll look appalled by you when it counts." Alex said and followed Spike out the door.

To Be Continued...