Disclaimers:  I do not own Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel, or any of their characters.  I am making no profit
from this.  It is purely for entertainment purposes.

Notes:  As with all of my BtVS fics, I ignore everything after the 5th season except for the fact that Buffy has
been revived.  And as for the characters of Angel . . . Connor simply never happened.  Now, on with the fic.

More notes:  It’s been six months since Spike disappeared.  While getting ready for bed, Xander gets a surprise

Acting on Instinct

Part One

Xander glanced out his window at the full moon and sighed deeply.  It had been six months since Spike had left, and they
were still trying to find out just what kind of demon had taken him, and where that portal led to.  Six months of searching
and they had nothing to show for it . . . Giles had gone so far as to contact the Watchers’ Council . . . even calling LA to
talk to Wesley just to find this demon.  Nothing . . . and there didn’t seem to be anything that they could do to find
Spike, not that Buffy seemed to truly care.  He was a vampire . . . maybe it was better that he was gone now.

Although he’d never said so, Xander had kind of liked the smart-mouthed vampire.  Spike had been good to hang out
with . . . when he wasn’t dipping crackers into his mug of blood and completely grossing Xander out anyway.  He had
never beaten around the bush when telling Xander his thoughts, unlike some people that Xander knew.

Truth be said . . . he missed the vampire and hoped that he was faring all right.  He wasn’t the only one either . . . Willow
and Tara, Dawn . . . even Giles and on rare occasions, Buffy . . . they all missed him.  He had been a part of their group
for years, had helped to slay demons even if he hadn’t really had much choice in the matter.  Despite his harshness, he
had become a part of the group . . . there was an empty place now that he was gone, as if a part of them was missing.

With a deep sigh, Xander finished getting into his pajamas and slid into bed.  He turned off the light, curled up, and was
just about to fall asleep when a sudden flash of bright green light caused him to open his eyes.  He scrambled to get out
of bed and grab a stake . . . he always kept one handy just in case.  However, he only managed to tumble out of bed,
due to the coverings that had tangled around his ankles.

With a muttered curse, he detangled himself and looked to where the strange portal was now closing.  Without a doubt,
Xander knew that it was the same one that Spike had disappeared through all those months ago.  Had that creature
come back for him now?  Or had something else?  He caught a glimpse of something emerging, but it dashed into the
shadows before Xander could get a good look at it.  Then the portal was gone . . . as if it had never even been there in
the first place.

Not taking any chances, Xander reached over and turned on the light.  A soft sound reached his ears and he turned
toward it.  What he saw made him drop his weapon.  The creature that had come through the portal was curled up in
one of the corners, sharp claws digging their way into the bedroom wall as if it was trying to sink closer into it.  It was
whimpering softly, a low growl making Xander wonder if it was dangerous or not.  Perhaps he should pick up his stake.  
No, he couldn’t . . . that thing might attack if Xander tried to.  Xander couldn’t see much except for the filth, but he
COULD see that the poor wretch was badly beaten and half-starved.  He held up his hand as a glint told him that the
creature had taken notice of him.

“Sshh . . . it’s okay.”  Xander hushed in a calm tone, trying to remain as unthreatening as possible.  “If you don’t harm
me, I won’t harm you, okay?”

Xander frowned as his unexpected guest looked up at him.  The creature . . . no, not a creature . . . a person, most
definitely a male person . . . the individual wore no clothing whatsoever, so Xander could quite clearly see all of his
anatomy.  The person seemed to start trembling as Xander approached, pushing back against the wall in a futile attempt
to get further away from him.

Xander got down on his knees, slowly approaching the stranger in the hopes of helping him somehow.  “Hey . . . calm
down.  I won’t hurt you.  I . . .”  Xander frowned and cautiously took a closer look.

Although gaunt and filled with fear, there was no mistaking that face.  Still, to be sure, Xander carefully reached forward
and ran his finger over the person’s left eyebrow.  Even under the filth, he could feel it, the telltale scar that he would
have recognized anywhere, even with the ridges on his face.

“Spike?”  He asked, hearing the waver in his own voice.  “Spike, is that you?”  he felt a small surge of excitement within
him that was quickly quelled.  Spike, finally after all these months, he was back . . . but he was hurt, he was full of fear.  
What the hell had happened to him?  What had that demon done?  Xander swallowed nervously and tried to smile.  
“Hey . . . if it is you, Spike, you’re safe.  It’s me . . . Xander.  You know . . . donut boy?”

His hunch was confirmed when the pair of yellow eyes widened in recognition and he found himself the recipient of a
very enthusiastic hug.  “Okay . . . it’s okay.”  Xander hushed, frowning as he returned the hug that Spike was giving him.  
He knew, without a doubt, that there was something wrong here.  Spike had yet to say a word, and he was hugging
Xander . . . it wasn’t right.

As he pulled himself away, Xander allowed his eyes to rake over Spike’s battered form.  There was something . . .
different.  He couldn’t quite put his finger on it though.  It wasn’t the hair, although that had gone from bleached blonde
to a dark shade of brown . . . there wasn’t a trace of blonde anywhere.  It wasn’t the dirt, even though Spike was
literally covered in grime.  Nor was it the injuries that seemed to cover Spike’s entire body.  There was something else
different about him.  Xander just wished that he could think of what it was.

“Spike . . . where have you been?  We’ve all been worried about you.”  Xander asked, brushing his hand through the
filthy mass of dark hair.

Spike recoiled from the contact, his back colliding with the wall to stop him from getting too far away.  Spike merely
grunted, eyeing Xander’s hand as if it were a snake getting ready to bite him.  A soft growl made Xander blink, watching
as Spike reacted in a purely animalistic manner to his fear.  Spike had changed more than Xander had first thought . . .
was he so far gone that he couldn’t even act like a human being anymore?

“Spike?”  He questioned, worried.

Slowly, he reached his hand out, simply holding it out to Spike to see what he would do.  His eyes widened as he
watched Spike lean forward, sniffing at Xander’s outstretched hand.  Xander’s shock only multiplied tenfold as Spike’s
face shifted back to his human appearance moments before the vampire leaned forward and nuzzled his face against
Xander’s hand, a deep, rumbling purr coming from his form.

Xander was aghast.  Still, he didn’t want to upset Spike, so he slid his hand through Spike’s greasy hair.  He couldn’t
believe that this was actually happening . . . Spike was behaving more like a frightened kitten than the brutal, murdering
vampire that Xander had come to know as a comrade . . . this version of Spike was surreal.

Taking his hand away, he grimaced at the dirt now covering his palm.  “Spike, you really need a bath.”  He said, then
sighed as he realized that he would probably have to do something about it himself.

He made sure to keep an eye on the terrified vampire as he went into the bathroom and started filling the tub with warm
water.  ‘Now . . . how do I get him in here . . .’  His eyes fell upon a razor lying on the sink, then let his gaze move over
to the paper cup dispenser attached to his wall.  He nearly hit himself as the answer came to him in such an obvious
manner.  ‘Well DUH, Harris, you idiot!  What would a starving vampire be unable to resist?’

With a sigh, Xander grabbed a paper cup and picked up the razor.  Being careful, Xander made a cut on his fingertip
and let the blood drip into the paper cup.  He set the razor aside and squeezed around the shallow wound on his finger to
make the blood flow faster.  After about a minute, there wasn’t much in the cup, but Xander figured it would be enough
to coax Spike into the bathtub.

He turned off the flow of water and made sure that he had everything within easy reach.  Then, once he had put a band-
aid on his finger, he went back into his bedroom.  He almost smiled at the way that Spike was sniffing the air.

“Hey . . . I got a tasty treat for you.”  He said.  He offered the cup and waited as Spike cautiously approached him.  
“That’s it . . . come on.”  He whispered, slowly backing into the bathroom with each step that Spike took toward him.  
Spike walked hunched over slightly, as if his body were ready to either attack or cringe if he had to.

It seemed to take hours, but finally Spike was standing next to the bathtub.  Spike sniffed the air, his eyes completely
focused on the paper cup that Xander held just out of reach.  He stopped though, looking down at the water in the tub
and back up at the cup a number of times.  Then he looked at Xander, eyeing him curiously.

“Come on.  Get in the water and I’ll let you have the cup.”  Xander said, shaking the cup a little in the hope that he was
enticing the vampire.

It was several more seconds before Spike moved again.  He grasped the side of the tub and eased himself into the warm
water, wincing in obvious pain.  It had to hurt when the water touched those open sores . . . Xander felt sorry for having
made Spike get in the bathtub, but it was unavoidable . . . Spike had needed a bath desperately.  Smiling, Xander held
the cup out to Spike, who snatched it from him quickly and all but devoured the few drops of blood that were collected
within it.  Then Spike went ahead and tore the side of the cup open, using his tongue to slurp up any trace of blood left

“I guess you are hungry.”  Xander whispered, watching Spike sadly.  To see the master vampire reduced to this . . .
Xander couldn’t think of a proper word to describe his current feelings over what Spike had become.  Nothing seemed
to adequately describe his emotions.

Picking up a washcloth, Xander soaked it in the water, then lathered it up with some soap he had nearby.  Being sure to
move slowly and cautiously, Xander then began the arduous task of cleaning the filth from Spike’s wounded body.  
Spike merely watched him, his body breaking out into shivers as Xander continued.  ‘He’s scared.’  Xander sighed,
placing a small smile on his face to placate the frightened man.

However, his smile slipped as he was scrubbing the dirt from Spike’s chest.  Now Xander knew what was so different
about Spike, why he had gotten that vague feeling when he had been hugged by the vampire earlier.  But no . . . he had
to be mistaken about this.  That was not right, it wasn’t possible.  But then why . . .

Xander dropped the washcloth into the filthy bath water and set his hand to Spike’s chest, holding his breath as he
waited for something that could not be possible.  There it was, and it was unmistakable.  Xander’s eyes widened despite
his attempts to hide his shock.  He simply could not believe that this was really happening.

Spike had a heartbeat.

To Be Continued . . .