“Clark?” Xander jerked in shock when he opened the basement door to see his cousin in the dim light of the dying outside light. “Oh gods, get in here.”
“Good to see you too, cuz,” Clark said, sounding more than a little confused.
“You can’t be here,” Xander hissed once Clark was safely inside. It too a lot not to look outside and check if anyone was watching the house.
“Why not?” Clark said. “Okay, it was a bit of an experiment…” He trailed off, and when Xander looked he saw Clark had caught sight of Spike tied to the chair.
“Xander… why is there someone tied to a chair in your basement?”
“A very long story,” Xander said, ignoring Spike’s snort. “And I will tell you later, when you are not here.”
“Hey, if you’re embarrassed about being into some kinky—”
Xander slapped his hand to his forehead and growled to cut Clark off. “No. Damn it. It’s not safe for you in Sunnydale right now.” He stomped over to Spike and swung the chair part way around. “Clark, this is Spike. You remember my stories about Spike.”
“You tell stories about me?” Spike perked up with a touch of pride. “Oh, they grow them big where Clark’s from…” He paused and took a deep sniff.
“Don’t,” Xander hissed, gripping Spike’s shoulder with bruising force. “Not today.”
“Yeah, I remember Spike,” Clark said, ignoring Spike’s comment and frowning. “What’s he doing here?”
“Clark, there’s a military group running around town, capturing demons and vampires and such. Experimenting on them.” Good, that got a solid flinch from Clark. “They got Spike and shoved a chip in his head. He can’t hurt anyone now.”
“Get a bloody migraine if I try,” Spike spat. “Which is why these ropes are stupid—”
“Not now, Spike. You see why it’s not safe for you right now. Don’t you? If they caught you….”
Clark was pure white now, even his golden tan seeming to fade out. “Yeah. That’s… not good. I slowed down outside of town, jogged in to see the place.”
Xander let out a relieved breath. “Good. Now I’m going to drive you out of town and you run home. And promise me you won’t leave Smallville until I tell you these guys are gone.”
The drive went smoothly if a bit paranoid. Neither Xander nor Clark had spotted what looked like unusual activity anywhere on the drive out of town. Xander had explained more about the Intiative. The hardest part was explaining why he had a defanged vampire in his basement.
“The kindest thing to do to a vampire is kill it quickly. For the sake of the person who once wore the body.”
Clark had quoted that back at him and Xander had no argument except orders from Buffy and Giles. The drive back alone had been a seething mess of mental torture. Arriving wasn’t much better.
“So that was Clark,” Spike purred as soon as the door closed behind Xander. “And Clark is?”
“My cousin,” Xander snapped. “Just don’t.”
“Didn’t know you had such interesting branches in your family tree.” The vampire slouched in the chair, looking completely relaxed despite the ropes.
“It’s complicated.” Xander collapsed onto the couch, wondering if he had the strength to pull it out and go to sleep.
“Can see why you don’t want him in Sunnydale. He’s not exactly human.”
“How do you know?” Xander spat.
“Smells like…” Spike took a deep, lingering breath. “Sunshine. And corn. But the corn’s not inherent.”
Xander frowned. “And that mean’s he’s not human?” He snorted.
“You smell of sunshine when you’ve been out all day, but not like that. Nothing human smells like sunshine bottled.”
“What does?” While he didn’t really want Spike digging into Clark, if the vampire could give them an answer to what Clark was…
“That cousin of yours. Whatever he is, I haven’t run across it before. Could ask your watcher, or the poof.”
Xander lay himself sideways across the couch and closed his eyes. Dead end reached. Time for sleep.
Thank the gods Clark was away safe. If the Initiative had noticed him.
Xander shivered and pulled his knees closer to his chest.