Dragon's Phoenix

Part One

When he woke, it was from an unimaginably deep sleep, but Spike was in his arms and that was all that mattered. Any memories that might have marred the moment, memories of life, of their love, of his death, fell away as lips came together in a kiss. As he lost himself in Spike, his arm – programmed to act automatically for that very purpose – swept up, stabbing a stake through Spike's heart. Xander barely noticed the clatter of the stake as he fell to his knees and grabbed at the scattering ash, which escaped his clutches and drifted to the floor. He was still too stunned to think when metallic things, about the size of mice, started scrambling across the floor, rushing this way and that for a few minutes before retreating back into the walls. They took Spike's ashes with them.

The sound of his voice echoed back at him until there was nothing but that eternity, full of screams.

Part Two

He didn't know how long he'd been screaming before he heard Spike's voice. Brushing tears away, clearing his eyes, he glanced around, looking for Spike. The voice seemed to come from everywhere. “Time for your blood. Come on, you bloody idiot, you'll never bring Xander back if you starve yourself to death. Drink already.”

Xander took three stumbling steps. “Spike?”

There was a mug of blood on the counter, across the far side of the room. For the first time, Xander looked around. The walls seemed to be some sort of metallic mesh; they looked like fabric but were solid to his touch. In the middle of the room was a workbench, full of wires, tiny crystals, and tools; he would have been disconcerted that he didn't recognize most of the tools – although apparently a screwdriver still came in handy – if he weren't already freaking. The floor seemed to be one large sheet of metal although it was warm to his naked feet. He was wearing normal clothes, a baggy shirt and sweats, but the room seemed like something out of a science fiction movie.

Walking over to the counter, he sniffed at the drink. Yech, it was blood all right, and in Giles' old Kiss the Librarian mug. “Spike?” he called out again. There was still no answer. As he turned to scan the room once more, his arm brushed against the mug, knocking it to the floor where it smashed into a dozen pieces, splashing the blood into a puddle. The mice-like things came out again, but before Xander could even think to grab the shards, the mug and cup were gone. He tried to track the mice, but their holes vanished back into mesh walls.

Letting out a sob, Xander fell against the counter. Spike had come back before, even after his ashes had been scattered to the winds, but losing the ashes felt like he'd lost Spike forever. No, he couldn't think that way, not if he was going to get Spike back. He had to try something. “Computer?” he called out quietly, unsure he'd get a response.

“Waiting.” The voice was female: maternal and comforting.

“Where's Spike?” OK, maybe not the smartest question, but he had to start somewhere.


“What do you mean, unknown?” Xander started pacing the room.

“Sensors indicate no vampires in residence.”

“Where'd he go?”

“This unit has no means of tracking outside the laboratory.” The voice, which was starting to get on Xander's nerves, drew out the word: lab-or-a-tory.

“When did he leave?”

“Four-point-seven-five hours ago.”

Xander looked around the room. There was no way out. “How? There aren't any doors.”

“Spike did not use any exit. Would you care to see subject's departure?”

Xander glanced up at that, even though the voice didn't come from the ceiling or anywhere in particular. “Yeah.”

In the middle of the room, to the right of the workbench, in what had been empty space only a moment before, Xander saw himself and Spike, standing with arms wrapped around each other. As they kissed, Xander struck a stake through Spike's heart. Dust settled to the floor; Xander dropped down to catch it.

“Shut it off. Shut it off. Shut it off.” The figure vanished. “What the hell?” Xander walked to the spot where he'd seen the images. Why would I kill Spike? He let his thoughts drift backward, trying to work out what had led up to the attack.

He fell against the table as it hit him. “I died?”