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All I Need

Tisienne Blue

Part Thirty-Six

If Xander was going to be honest—which he wasn’t planning on doing anywhere but inside his and Spike’s room—he would admit that the idea of Giles being… attracted to Fran was entirely squick-worthy. The Watcher had at least thirty years on the young Slayer, after all. But then again, Fran really was unusually mature, so…

“Nope,” he muttered, “Still having a wiggins, here.”

The vampire laughed, shaking his head against his bloke’s chest before raising himself on one elbow to look down into slightly green-tinged brown eyes. “Don’t know why, luv… or are ya forgettin’ that I’m more than a hundred years older than ya?” He smirked. “If there’s any cradle robbin’ goin’ on amongst our old gang, I’m bettin’ I win, yah?”

The brunette’s eyes rolled, much as his body did in pinning the pale, toned form beneath him. “That’s different, baby,” he said silkily. “You’re different. This is Giles we’re talking about. And Fran! And… isn’t it some kind of conflict of interest or something for Giles to be trying to… get the hook up with one of his Slayers? I mean, it’s kinda… creepy.”

Spike snorted, bucking against the bed and rolling them to its center again as he straddled his primal’s solid waist and shook his head. “Pet. Rupert’s not a bleedin’ pedophile. Ya know it an’ I know it. Tried ta send the girl away until she’d be legal, didn’t he? An’ that tells me he’s just as bloody well disturbed about his feelin’s as ya are. Point is, th’ chit’s here, not in Essex; not at bleedin’ Watcher’s Central; an’ definitely not gracin’ Ripper’s bed. Besides,” he continued, nails scraping lightly over tanned nipples, “Girl’s older than her date of birth makes her, yah? Think she can make her own choices. An’ if she chooses your pseudo-Dad, you’re goin’ ta smile, give her a hug an’ wish her happy.”


“No ‘buts’, Xan. Not when you’re gettin’ shagged all regular-like by a bloke what’s old enough ta be young Rupert’s Grand-dad, yah?”

And there was something equally squick-worthy about his lover repeatedly reminding him that but for that pesky demon inside him, he’d have been long dead and gone to earth—ashes to ashes and dust to dust…

‘Don’t care,’ the hyena muttered insistently to him, ‘Let Father have the cub. Our WillSpike won’t care about it then.’

‘He will so,’ Xander muttered silently. ‘Ours likes her. Like… like ours likes our Dawny. Just not as much.’

And finally, the brunette realized, he’d found a referent that his beast understood. That it was a bizarre combination of emotions including child, sister and friend was irrelevant. The hyena would accept Fran as pack now, rather than rival.

Of course, that still left Spike’s latest question to answer, and “Shit,” Xander groaned, “Can you please stop reminding me that you were around when dinosaurs walked the earth?”

It was the sudden laughter in his Xan’s eyes that had the vampire laughing, too. “Means I’m older an’ wiser, don’t it?” he purred, fingers twisting at the tiny male nubs now. “Guess ya need ta listen ta me, pet. Pay attention an’ learn at th’ feet of th’ Master, so ta speak.”

Xander groaned, his back arching into the pinching, teasing touches. “Fuck, baby… if you’re gonna do that, can we please not talk about Giles and Fran anymore…?”

Actually, his bloke had a point. There was something a bit… off… about discussing them while naked and in bed. Spike shivered slightly then nodded, his hands stilling as he leaned down, pressing his lips hard to the full, warm ones of his primal.

“Who…?” he whispered, just before pressing his tongue demandingly to the crease covering even white teeth.

God, he could kiss Spike for hours. Had done, actually, on many an occasion. Those pale, soft lips were always so incredibly mobile, so responsive, and sometimes that was enough.

Hell, he couldn’t even begin to count the number of times he and his vampire had sat on the couch, all tangled together and just… kissed. Softly, roughly, slowly, desperately… each time was different and still perfect and was clearly to be enjoyed at length.

This wasn’t one of those times, he reminded himself quickly, because… well, no couch. No clothes. No inane whatever playing on the TV… and no patience, either, Xander admitted, hands sliding wantonly over cool skin.

One hand finally settled in Spike’s hair, holding those perfect lips to his own as he ate at his love’s mouth, devouring it as though it was a very ripe, juicy and interactive peach… and he groaned into the wet cavern as his own imagery made him shiver.

Oh, this was more like it, Spike thought, his body writhing sinuously on his bloke’s heated form. All that soft, tanned skin spread out beneath him, those tasty lips against his… that hard, seeping shaft sliding up between his legs, the length stroking his perineum while the ridge of the head brushed back and forth, back and forth against the underside of his sac…

“Xanderrr…” he moaned softly, dragging his mouth away for a moment and meeting slitted, needy eyes, “Bloody hell, pet… need ya, don’t I? Need ya, luv; need ta feel ya, yah…?”

The formerly human man snarled softly and nodded. “Gonna feel me, baby… but first…” his fingers tightened in short bleached hair, yanking his vampire’s head back, and he was admiring the arched cords and stretched tendons there even as his other hand left Spike’s ribs and slipped between their bodies, fingers ghosting over hard shaft, seeping slit, receding foreskin. “First,” he growled low and deep, “I want to see you cum, love…”

His own hands on his Xander’s shoulders, his head still held back… his spine arching as his hips pulsed forward into the hot touches around his cock…? Oh, yeah, Spike was in Heaven. Add in the eyes he could feel watching him, and… “W-won’t take l-long, p-pet…” he groaned, the sensation of his bloke’s shaft still sliding, sliding, teasing him and combining with the barely-there fingers on his own shaft to make him pant wildly.

“Cum for me,” Xander ordered roughly, fingers tightening and moving faster, harder, while his eyes traveled possessively over every inch of visible skin, finally locking on that seeping head. “Now!”

And just like that, his sac was tight, tighter… so high and ready that it almost hurt. And then he felt that wonderful shaft slide again, the wet tip nudging him roughly, and… “X-xan-dddderrrr….” Spike howled, his back arching more while thick, rich spurts of cool seed exploded from him, the hand on his cock pointing them to hot skin.

* * * * *

The thick spunk would have to be enough, Xander and his hyena agreed, because watching, smelling, feeling ‘theirs’ erupt that way had pretty much removed the possibility of moving from their spot—even as far as the side of the bed and the drawer there.

He released the still-twitching shaft in his hand, his fingers quickly gathering slick fluids and moving behind the collapsing vampire.

One digit slid in quickly and easily, Spike’s tiny hole accepting it readily, and a second joined it a moment or three later as Xander spoke.

“God, baby… Jesus… so fucking beautiful when you cum…” He growled softly, blunt teeth nipping almost roughly at the neck that had been displayed so wonderfully for him mere moments earlier. “Love watching you, Spike…”

A third finger pressed against the stretching opening, then made its way in accompanied by a soft grunt from the basking blond. The digits began to move faster-- spreading, twisting, crooking within that tight haven.

“Love seeing you like that; love knowing I can make you beg,” the brunette went on, biting just a bit harder at the vampire’s throat. “And you want to beg, don’t you, baby?” he murmured confidently. “You want to beg me to push into you, fill you, fuck you… make you yell my name. Don’t you, love; don’t you, Spike? Want me to be so deep and hard in you; want me to cum so many times that when we leave this room even the non-demons will be able to smell me on you… Tell me, baby. Tell me what you want.”

And bloody fucking hell, his bloke knew him so well.

“Y-yah…” Spike finally managed to gasp, feeling his primal’s heartbeat in the thick, ready shaft still trapped between his legs. His neck arched slightly, pressing white skin harder against even whiter teeth. “W-want y-ya ta b-bite me, t-too, pet…”

Thick tanned fingers moved faster still, carefully avoiding the pleasure point that was so easily found. “Y-yeah,” Xander groaned. “The b-biting wasn’t optional, Spike. Need to… fuck, baby, I need to taste you tonight. I… hell, I… mine,” he snarled, although he wasn’t sure of why it was so important all of a sudden when it hadn’t been such a pressing matter a few minutes earlier. “Mine,” he snarled again.

As that was entirely true, Spike didn’t even bother to try arguing. He simply levered himself up an inch or so and pressed back on the questing fingers. “Show me, luv,” he managed to moan before the hand in his hair dragged his mouth back to his bloke’s lips.

‘Show ours,’ the hyena crowed silently. ‘Want to show ours!’

And in that moment, Xander did something he hadn’t done—deliberately-- since that night in the trees.

He set his beast free.

He set his beast free with the being they both loved more than any other in the world and hoped—hoped—that he knew what he was doing… and that the hyena did, too.

* * * * *

Empty eyes became less so, some unidentifiable emotion gathering for a bare moment before Illyria dropped the pages on what had once been Wesley’s desk.

“I do not understand,” the one-time God stated slowly, watching the young brunette almost curiously. “If you are to do this thing, your shell will not…”

“Yes, I rather know that already, don’t I?” Fran interrupted, silently cursing the circumstances that had her talking to Illyria, of all ‘people’, about her plan. Of course, there hadn’t been any other choice.

Angel obviously had no idea of what to do for Xander and Spike, or he would have done something already, and Wesley… well, the former Watcher would possibly have been quite useful if he weren’t dead, but he was.

Besides, Fran told herself, even if the large, moody vampire had seen and understood the ritual she was going to perform, he probably would have tried to stop her. There was no such problem with the ‘shell’ of Fred.

“It’s somewhat irrelevant, isn’t it?” the Slayer continued, spreading the papers out as she would a deck of cards. “I’ve made my decision. Your only involvement in this is to tell me whether this is feasible… and if so, where I’m likely to be undisturbed for the duration.”

One thing Illyria was certain of was that she would never understand humans. Or mortals, rather. Most of them seemed determined to retain their existence for as long as possible, fighting a losing battle, as she knew.

And yet this one. This Fran.

“The Old One will not be pleased with this action. You are to defend it. It is not logical that you will be able to do so if your shell expires.”

Fran sighed. “Daw… the Old One is aware of this plan, Illyria,” she said honestly. Dawn did know about the ritual. She simply didn’t know how it would end for Fran. “And she has other defenders, as I’m sure you know. Yourself, for one.”

And that was factual, although the small bits of Fred still within her were railing against the whole idea.

“Yes,” the former Hell God agreed, nodding after a moment, “It is as you say. My pet has been infected by this… ‘love’ you speak of and will not become himself again until things are settled between him and his own pet. That you will cease to exist is a reasonable price for his return to his usual self, as I am more suited to protecting the Old One anyway. Yes. I will assist you.”

“Lovely,” Fran muttered. “No self-interest there.” She chuckled softly. “Right, then,” she said louder, meeting the once more empty eyes, “I’ll need a secure location, and… any idea of where I can get a amphora of descent? The rest is easy enough.”

Her head cocked mechanically as Illyria considered. “I will acquire this item. As for the location, I believe I am well aware of one which will suit. Leave me now. Inquire tomorrow.”

The brunette snorted. “A bit on the abrupt side, aren’t you?”

Eyes narrowed slightly, becoming slits of nearly vacant blue. “I see no need to pretend to interest. You are inconsequential and soon to be absent.”

“Lovely,” Fran muttered again as she left the office, feeling oddly comforted by the fact that her new… partner in crime, she supposed… seemed almost eager for her to succeed.

* * * * *

It was getting harder and harder to ignore Angelus’ prodding. It was made worse by the fact that somehow, somewhere, his demon had discovered subtlety.

At least, Angel hoped it was the demon who was filling his few sleeping hours with images of Xander Harris naked and beneath him, tanned skin stretched tight by the restraints the boy begged him to fasten ‘tighter… Gods, Angel, tighter, please…’.

It had to be the demon, he told himself with a groan, even as his fingers stroked slowly over his own aching flesh, pinching budded nipples before moving lower, one hand wrapping around his throbbing shaft while the other slipped a bit farther, cupping heavy balls.

His eyes closed again, remembering the latest dream’s particulars.

The restrains, pleaded for so nicely… the boy’s hips rising, making room for the pillow being slid beneath them… the round, paler cheeks of Harris’s ass in the low lighting… that tiny, pinkish-red hole flexing visibly as the first line of thick, viscous gel was applied to the spread crack…

“Shit,” Angel whispered, licking dry lips as his hands moved a little faster on his cock, “that ass…”

That ass, indeed… and that hole glistening with lube, then opening so easily to his fingers—first one, sliding deep then pulling back when the boy moaned yearningly…

Two fingers, next, pushing in almost as smoothly, though earning a louder groan as they thrust gently, spreading slightly and working the slick liquid into the grasping, hungry channel…

One more digit, and more begging then. ‘Please… please, Angel, fuck me! Fuck me, Angel… come on, I know you want to. Gods, please, Angel!’

He could hear himself panting into the still air of his empty room, but somehow he just didn’t care. Angelus was going to pay for the dreams later, though… he’d find a way somehow.

“God, yes, Harris. Fuck you so hard…” he growled softly, still focusing on the visions in his mind.

The boy’s spine even looked dejected when he pulled his thick fingers from his ass. Then it bowed slightly as Angel shifted and pressed his seeping tip to that stretched opening.

“Shhhh… quiet, boy,” the vampire whispered, his fingers wrapping harder around his cock, fist moving faster as he rolled and squeezed his sac in his other palm, “Such a pretty little sub for me, Harris. Can’t wait to fuck you. Such a pretty ass, boy…”

He watched himself push harder, felt his own hips moving back and forth, slipping just a bit further in each time.

‘Angel…’ the boy begged, ‘Now… do it now… Gods, I want you to fuck me. Never felt anything like your big, hard penis… cock. Cock.’

And the boy cried when he finally thrust fully in, in one long, hard slide.

“God, he’d be so fucking tight,” Angel groaned, rocking between his mattress and his own firm grip. “And Spike…”

Yeah… he looked over and Spike was there.

Just standing there naked, watching him fuck the boy.

‘Take him, Angel. Show him how good it is when you use that big hard cock of yours. Do it, Sire. Fuck the boy. Then fuck me, too… missed feeling you in me, luv. Want your big hard prick. Split me open, Sire, after you’ve finished with the boy.’

His eyes flew wide, staring blindly at the ceiling as his hands proved to be too much when combined with his dreams—Angelus’ dreams, he barely managed to remind himself—and had him jetting forceful shots of cool seed over his own fingers and stomach and chest.

‘I’ll find a way to make you pay for that,’ he growled at his demon a moment or ten later. ‘Harris is Spike’s and I don’t want him!’

The demon snorted, his mental voice sounding amused. ‘Yeah, soulboy. Because a dream about fucking the boy all soft and slow—with lube!—just screams me, right?’ Angelus snorted. ‘I’d fuck the boy hard and dry. And believe me, I’d never imagine Spike telling me to fuck him next. He’d be tied down next to Xander. And gagged, just to stop his fucking threats.’

“Oh… shit,” Angel groaned, suddenly more full of self-loathing than usual.

* * * * *

The last thing he’d been expecting was for his beast to take their lover so gently; especially with as desperate as the hyena had been to possess ‘theirs’. And yet, that was exactly what his other-self had done.

He’d taken Spike slowly, pressing the always-tempting hole down on his cock, carefully controlling both speed and force until the vampire was spread wide around his shaft, the flexible ring of muscle barely twitching, the action had been so tender.

That Xander hadn’t come back to himself to find Spike pinned beneath him, those long, pale legs over his shoulders or around Spike’s ears had been equally shocking to him, but no… when his beast had receded, satisfied that ‘theirs’ had been marked with scent and teeth and small bruises, the blond had still been perched atop him, although Xander had been sitting up and those strong legs had been around his waist while Spike’s teeth had been buried deep in his throat and it was…

“Bliss,” he groaned, still lapping softly at the deep bite his own teeth had made. “Gods, baby… he… fuck, he loves you so much…”

Spike growled softly, taking one more deep pull of his love’s thick, rich blood before pulling back reluctantly.

“Mmmm… ya back then, pet?” he murmured, hands leaving his bloke’s broad shoulders to stroke longish dark hair possessively.

Xander felt himself flushing slightly and nodded. “Y-yeah… um, sorry about that, baby. I… he wanted… and I… shit.”

The vampire laughed then, fingers wrapping in the brown silk and tugging lightly until barely-green brown eyes finally met his own.

“Luv,” he said bluntly, blue sparkling just a bit with golden sparks, “don’t mind, do I? Could have stopped ya. Him. Whatever. Figure…” Spike chuckled and shrugged a bit sheepishly, “Figure he—it—‘s a part of ya, yah? Felt… bloody hell. Ya always make me howl, don’t ya? Doesn’t seem ta matter if’n it’s ya or your hyena.”

Dark hair swayed slightly as Xander dropped his head slightly, once again laving the new bite slowly. “He wanted to mark you again, love… and I couldn’t tell him no.”

His own eyes watched, becoming slightly sad as the bite he’d given his bloke healed completely within minutes. “Wanted ta do th’ same, pet,” was all he said, though.

As much as Xander wanted to tell Spike what he’d managed to drag out of Fran the night before, he just couldn’t. Not yet. He wouldn’t be able to stand it if Spike got hopeful before he was positive… and he’d never bear it if he had to watch the hope die in his vampire’s eyes.

No, he wasn’t going to tell him.

Not until they were sure it would work.

“You did, Spike,” he answered, trying to sound as fulfilled as he truly was. “Felt it, baby… felt you. Your teeth, love, so sharp, so deep in my neck…” He shivered slightly with pure pleasure at just the remembering. “Your lips sealed against my skin, tongue sliding over the bite… God, Spike, it was… fucking awesome. Uh, you know. In the ‘made me full of awe’ way…”

And even though the vampire swallowed a sigh while he purred and wrapped himself tighter around his Primal, he was still happy to know that his Xander enjoyed the repeated attempts to mark him permanently.

“Ya know, luv,” he muttered against the pounding pulse beneath his lips, “Not goin’ ta stop bitin’ ya even when we do find a way ta make ya scar…”

The brunette grinned and slowly rolled them onto their sides, one hand sliding up silken-skinned ribs, then over one shoulder, up the side of a long, alabaster neck and finally settling to stroke platinum hair back slowly. “Shit, Spike… best news I’ve had in…” His brow furrowed for a moment, then he grinned again. “In however many minutes it’s been since the last time you said you love me.”

Part Thirty-Seven

It was largely due to his sense of disgust with himself that Angel hadn’t bothered to check his e-mail in days. In fact, he hadn’t checked much of anything, aside from trying to gauge his degree of sanity because… how could he be dreaming about—fantasizing about—Harris of all people?

Okay, he’d told Spike the truth a while ago when he’d said the one-time human wasn’t as much of an eyesore as he’d once been, but that didn’t excuse it.

He’d tried to find some way of blaming Angelus for the entirely inappropriate thoughts, of course, but somehow that wasn’t quite working, and it was working even less since the night before when Nina had given him that odd look while they’d been kissing and then pulled away.

She’d left shortly afterwards, and something about the look in her eyes then told him that come the next full moon, he’d best be very sure that her ‘respite’—meaning the cell she usually stayed in for those three nights—was locked very securely. Not that she’d mentioned whatever it was she was thinking, but… he really thought caution would be a good idea.

So, close to four days without checking his messages, and when he did…

Angel groaned, reading the letter from Giles yet again.

“Was he drunk?” he wondered aloud, entirely unsure of why the Watcher would have said any of those things; especially to him. But still, the many questions and comments had him thinking.

Why had he been willing to take a chance on ruining Buffy’s life by loving her?

Oh, sure, he’d made all the right noises at the time. Too old for her, a vampire, it could never work… and he’d been right about all of those things. And still… he’d always gone back, hadn’t he? Always put himself right there in front of her, even knowing that their fascination for each other would lead them not only into temptation but through it and out the other side.

That the other side had ended up being his other side—other half, really—seemed like poetic justice in a way, though it had also led him directly into Hell, both literally and figuratively.

He almost thought Giles was deliberately trying to stir him up. Or down. Whichever direction an Olympic-sized brood was, anyway, but… the man had said he wasn’t asking in order to hurt him, and he liked to think he knew Giles well enough that if that had been the Watcher’s intention, he would have just said so. Or at least not bothered to say it wasn’t the point, and…

“He must have been drunk,” he muttered. “Or maybe he got hit on the head again. He could have, if he’s still helping to train the Slayers…”

None of which was helping him figure out what to say when he replied—and he would reply. He had to. He still owed the man, after all… if only for not dusting him when he’d had the chance, although Angel was well aware that that was the least of the balance due.

Finally, he simply sighed and leaned back, staring at the ceiling as he tried to summon the proper words.

* * * * *

“So when do you want to try it?” Dawn slipped into the conversation, timing it well enough that Fran had a mouth full of pizza and would have to think about the question instead of just brushing it off. “I told you I’m helping you, okay? So stop putting me off.”

Fran sighed silently, even as she chewed and tried to swallow as quickly as possible. “I’m not avoiding you, Dawn,” she lied easily. “It’s simply that… it’s a one person ritual, alright?”

Wide blue eyes rolled. “Uh-huh. Sure. That’s why the Powers want me to help you.”

The Slayer sighed, silently cursing the Powers That Be. “Maybe they simply wanted you to help me get here. Did you ever think of that? And now I am here, so your work is done. Just… let me do what I came here for, alright?”

There was something about the other girl’s voice that worried her, although Dawn had no idea of what or why. What she did know, however, was that… no matter what Fran said, Dawn was for damned sure going to be there when she did that ritual, even if that meant she’d have to spy on her friend.

“Fine. Whatever,” she finally said, tossing the paper napkin from her lap onto the plastic tray beside her empty plate. “I just wanted to do something to help Xander and Spike, you know. Because I’ve known them for, like… forever. But cool. Do it all yourself.” She pouted playfully on the outside. “We still going to that movie?”

Fran breathed a purely internal sigh of relief and glanced at her watch. “Yes, and we’ll need to hurry. It starts in twenty minutes.”

The two girls dashed through the mall, laughing merrily, but if Fran thought her intentions to perform the ritual alone were forgotten, she was very wrong.

* * * * *

In the end, Dawn ended up doing what was close to the very last thing she’d ever wanted to do.

Her feet dragged along the corridor, reflecting her emotional reluctance to expose herself to what was disturbing and discomfiting.

Still, she’d actually managed to get a good look at the papers the young Slayer had had on the plane, and… well, somebody had to be getting the Amphora because Fran for damned sure wouldn’t know where to find something like that. A few very simple phone calls had shown Dawn just how rare they were.

So someone was helping, at least with that item, and that meant Angel… or Illyria… and Angel had simply looked at her like she was speaking Porlit-ese when she’d asked him.

Unfortunately, the sporadically blue former God kind of freaked her out, but still… Fran wasn’t telling her something. That much had become clear in the two days since their shopping trip. The girl had been keeping mostly to herself but also seemed to be… not sad, exactly. Odd. Different. Not herself. And that was definitely disturbing.

Thus it was that Dawn was deliberately forcing herself to approach the woman who insisted on referring to her as

“Old One,” Illyria announced herself from the room. “I feel your presence. Proceed within.”

* * * * *

Angel wasn’t entirely sure of how long he’d been zoning, as Harmony would have called it had she seen him. He was simply glad that Dawn had burst in when she had, though he had no idea of what she was talking about.

Well, okay, he was fairly certain that it had something to do with some sort of ritual the young Slayer wanted to perform, but that wasn’t particularly enlightening, considering.

So. Thinking hadn’t helped him to figure out how to respond to Giles’s e-mail. The alternative was going on instinct and not thinking.

‘Well, that shouldn’t give you any trouble, soulboy. Not thinking is what you do best,” Angelus observed with what felt like a smirk.

Brown eyes rolled, even as Angel hit the reply tab. ‘At the risk of sounding school-yard… takes one to know one,’ he answered, smirking himself at the sudden anger he sensed from the demon… because that anger was actually mixed with a good bit of pride.

He took one deep breath, purely to compose himself, and started to write.

* * * * *

And apparently Fran wasn’t the only one who was hiding something because while the blue being had readily admitted to procuring the Amphora of Descent for Fran, the one-time Hell God hadn’t chosen to share any other information, and if Dawn had been a vampire—or even a Primal—she knew she would have been growling or snarling.

It was times like this, she realized, that she missed being able to threaten people with her sister, but Buffy was in Italy, and somehow Dawn doubted that Illyria would have felt at all endangered by her, anyway.

“Fine,” she muttered angrily, striding towards the elevators, “if Fran won’t tell me what’s going on and the crazy blue chick won’t either, then…” And with that she pressed the call button on the lone elevator that went to the residential floors, swiping her pass card through the magnetic detector and pressing the proper key.

* * * * *

~From: Dark Avenger
~To: Watcher Man
~Subject: Re: Research


Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you, but your last letter was… surprising wouldn’t be a strong enough word.

I honestly have NO idea of why you decided to ask me all that completely out of the blue, but since you did, I guess I owe it to you to try to answer.

I’d be lying if I said this isn’t hard for me, but if anyone has the right to dredge up old heartaches and miseries, it’s you. I know that. And you’re right. It is my fault that Angelus killed Jenny Calendar.

It’s my fault because I should have known better than to think that I deserved any happiness at all, much less the degree of it that I found that night with Buffy.

And I owe you for hurting her, too. She was— still is—YOUR Slayer. And I… he… whichever. We tried to break her.

I did love Buffy, Giles. Hell, a part of me always will. But no matter how much we cared for each other or how much we wanted things to work out, we were doomed from the beginning.

And not because of the curse; not because of what happened when it was broken.

We were doomed, Giles, because neither one of us could be what we truly wanted to be.

I couldn’t be a man for her. A human man. I couldn’t be the man she thought she saw when she looked at me.

And she couldn’t be the woman she wanted to be.

I think… if Buffy and I had met and we’d both been human—not Slayer and vampire; not Warriors for the Powers—we might have had a chance. Or maybe not. Like you said, there’s no way of knowing, right? It’s all… either a mystery or pure luck.

But that’s not what you want to know, is it?

You want to know how I let myself love her when I knew—knew—she probably wouldn’t make it to seventeen. Or eighteen. Or nineteen. Or twenty. And the answer is… I didn’t.

I didn’t let myself love her. Gods know I didn’t choose to. I just… did. I couldn’t help it, Giles. I looked at her that first day here in L.A. and she was so golden and beautiful and pure. And I wanted her.

There I was, pulled from a garbage-strewn alley and the rats I fed on. And Gods, I was so lost. And then Whistler showed her to me and I wanted. But I didn’t love her then, Giles. I couldn’t.

It wasn’t until later, after I’d moved to Sunnydale and started to help her—and by extension the rest of you—that I loved her.

I’m going to be entirely honest, here, and tell you… I don’t really know how it happened, myself. One minute, she was the Slayer and I wanted to help her because I—the soul—knew it was the right thing to do. And the next thing I knew, she was Buffy… and I would have done anything, and I do mean anything, to keep her safe. To make sure she got to live another day… and another, and another.

Believe me when I say that the last thing I wanted was to love her. But I wasn’t given a choice.


I know you didn’t actually write to hear all of this. It’s history and it ended badly. It seems more like you’re questioning yourself. Like maybe that ‘distraction’ you mentioned is something more than that.

I can’t tell you whether it’s right or wrong to pursue whatever young Watcher you’ve got your eye on, Giles. It isn’t my place. All I can say is…

In just over two hundred and fifty years of existence, I’ve known love—true, deep, gut-wrenching, misery-inducing, heart-rending love—only once, and regardless of how it turned out, it was a gift. A gift I didn’t deserve.

If you’ve found someone who makes you feel as complete as I felt back then—before everything went to shit—then I’m happy for you.

Even if you ignore that person for the rest of your life, Giles… at least you’ll know there really was someone for you.

So, yes. I asked myself if loving Buffy was wrong. I fought it as much as I could, and believe me, Angelus helped with that part. But finally, I had to accept that… love can never be wrong. Age doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter. Hell, look at Spike and Harris and you’ll see that even species doesn’t matter as long as the feeling is mutual, and that’s really all I can say on that subject.

As for the research, I’m guessing you’ve been really busy or you’d know that one of your Slayers—Dawn’s friend Fran?—apparently found some sort of ritual that might help. Hopefully, it won’t take too long to set it up.

Oh, you wouldn’t have an Amphora of… Docent on hand, would you? I think that’s what Dawn said, anyway…

Well, if you do have one, can we borrow it? I’ll send it back when we’re through.

If you come up with any more information, I’d appreciate a heads up. Thanks.


* * * * *

He didn’t quite have the nerve to read over what he’d just written; mostly because if he did, he’d probably never send the damned e-mail.

That didn’t stop him from hoping that it helped, at least a little.

His finger hovered over the ‘send’ tab and finally he closed his eyes and clicked the mouse.

“There,” he muttered, feeling very relieved all of a sudden, “No going back now.”

* * * * *

“She what?” Spike demanded loudly, looking at Dawn as though she’d lost her mind. “You’re kiddin’, right? Fran… Fran has some bleedin’ ritual an’ she didn’t bloody well tell me?”

“I… I thought you knew.”

Xander groaned as he stepped into the living room area and found himself speared by two pairs of blue eyes, though one set was lighter and gold-flecked. “What?”

“Tell us what ya know ‘bout Fran’s bloody plan, luv,” the vampire ordered, his Xan’s suddenly guilty look making it clear that his bloke had been keeping secrets, which just… pissed him off no end. “Dawn,” he added, low and intent, “Leave us, yah? Need ta have a bit of a… chat… with my boy, here.”

She almost wanted to object but then she noticed the way Spike was staring at Xander, and… “Um, find me later?”

Spike nodded, eyes still locked on his bloke’s. “Count on it, Niblet.”

He waited until he heard the door close behind her and sensed her heartbeat fading towards the elevator, even through the wards on his rooms; then he shifted, blue turning glowing gold as he approached his love. “Well?” he growled, ready for the confrontation the intensifying green-sheen promised.

“Ah… shit.”

* * * * *

“Could have handled it!” Spike snarled, slamming his bloke hard against the bedroom door yet again. “Not a fuckin’ child, am I?”

And Xander was barely holding on, barely keeping his beast from streaking to the fore and responding in kind, but that would get them nowhere and he knew it, even if the hyena didn’t. So instead of hitting or pushing or even bucking violently against the somewhat slender form holding him there, Xander let his hands find and clench in soft cotton, holding his vampire close.

“No,” he said simply, eyes tight on gold, “you’re not.”

It was the strength and obvious restraint his Xander was showing that had Spike’s fury calming just a bit. That and the very matter-of-fact tone of the brunette’s voice and the leashed reaction that showed plainly in his bloke’s gaze.

“Right, then,” he said, trying for a calmer tone himself, “why didn’t ya tell me? Ya knew. Could tell when ya came in, mate.”

A moment or six of silence to soothe the beast within and Xander found himself babbling, though not in the manner of the donut-boy-that-was. Instead, his words were clear and concise; contrite, even, as he spilled them out on one long gust of air. His fear that the ritual wasn’t meant for a non-pack Primal; that it might hurt one or both of them… that it would require too much power or that Fran might miss something, and finally… finally, his worry over what it might do to his love if—for whatever reason—it didn’t work.

“I couldn’t stand it, baby,” he finished, heart beating rough and hard in his chest. “I couldn’t stand watching the hope die in you; couldn’t bear to feel you hurting inside. I… fuck, Spike, I’m sorry, I just love you so much, and I… wanted to be sure!”

That he might have done—probably would have done—the same thing was irrelevant, Spike told himself. His bloke had lied to him, and after all their promises of no more secrets, and… and the fingers clenched in his shirt were suddenly uncurled, and hot, damp palms were pressing against his chest, the heat both soothing and not, and…

“Bloody hell, luv,” he growled, tongue sliding over sharp, jagged teeth as his anger quickly faded into desire, “not playin’ fair, are ya?”

One hand slid slowly from his love’s chest, moving to the top of a shoulder and pausing for a moment as fingers felt the trembling of tense muscle. “When did I ever say I played fair, baby?” Xander whispered, that same hand sliding to cup the nape of his vampire’s neck. “Besides,” he added, leaning in close enough that his lips brushed the rim oh Spike’s ear, “we don’t need an angry fuck right now, do we?”

The blond groaned, cursing and blessing the day he’d hopped on that plane for Paris. “What do we need then, pet?” he heard himself ask, his body pressing closer, harder, against the irresistible solidity of his bloke’s.

And that was a damned good question, Xander admitted silently, even while the fingers slowly stroking his vamp’s chest began tweaking lightly at one small nipple, teasing it to a point. “We need,” he murmured, tracing the perfect curve of that alabaster ear with his tongue, “to forgive each other, baby… and we need to make love, Spike. Make love. Angry can come later, okay?”

Spike nodded quickly, his head jerking almost spasmodically as his bloke’s tongue continued its welcome assault. He had no idea of what they were supposed to forgive each other for, but standing there, his Primal’s body so hot and hard between him and the door… he didn’t really care. Still, he understood the sense of the question and tilted his head, his voice grating out wantonly when he replied. “Angry… can come… much later, pet… Xan… bloody fuckin’ hell…”

* * * * *

As usual, there was some sort of unspoken understanding as to who would be taking whom first and Xander wondered for a moment whether that meant his hyena and Spike’s demon somehow communicated. That moment ended quickly, though, because he’d never been able to think well when he had his lips on Spike’s hole. In fact, he wasn’t entirely sure of how he managed to have enough sense to talk, but somehow he did.

“Gods, Spike,” he murmured, eyes traveling from the slightly haired sac and over the thick, turgid length laying against the pale stomach. “So fucking perfect, baby…”

The blond groaned as hot brown-green eyes met his own. His hands tightened, pulling his knees farther apart. “Bloody hell, luv… enough soddin’ teasin’!”

Xander chuckled and returned his attention to the glorious sight before him and blew one slow, wanton breath across the deep pink pucker before lowering his mouth again, the tip of his tongue lapping at it delicately. “Gonna make you howl,” he whispered, elbows braced against the mattress, his hands curling over the tops of Spike’s thighs.

His spine arched roughly, legs opening wider still as his bloke’s fingers dug into tense muscles. “B-bloody…!”

“Shhh… shhh… gonna feel so good, baby…” and with that, Xander finally stopped teasing and focused entirely on his vampire’s anus, his tightly pointed tongue pressing, lapping, deliberately rolling against that tightness, pushing against it until it slipped through and slipped deep.

Blond hair ground roughly into the pillow as Spike’s cry came out as a squeak. His hands tightened, bruising the backs of his own knees, and he didn’t care. “X-xan! F-fuck, luv…!” His entire body was even tighter than it had been when he’d had his bloke against the door, but now… now it was a different kind of tension and that was more than welcome. “Please, luv… pet… precious… Xander! Please, I…”

Brown hair swayed, even as Xander drove his tongue deeper, harder, curling it wickedly and letting it flick strongly against the spongy nub within the tight, cool channel. His cock throbbed roughly and if he’d had a third hand, it would have been wrapped around it to stave off the orgasm he felt approaching. Then again, his recovery time was more or less instantaneous with his vamp, so… he put the concern from his mind and flexed his fingers hard.

His bloke was going to kill him. That was all Spike could think. His bloke was going to kill him—or at least make him pass out—with just his tongue, and that would destroy any chance of the bout of love-making he’d been imagining, and as that was an unthinkable outcome, Spike did the only thing he could think of. He released his own legs and drove his fingers hard into the longish, slightly shaggy hair. “P-please, luv… want ya, yah?”

Xander chuckled silently and flicked his tongue against Spike’s prostate one more time before finally giving in to the increasingly desperate tugging and pulling back to gaze gently into wide, golden-blue eyes. “Want you too,” he whispered, his voice catching slightly as the fingers in his hair flexed. “Want to fill you, baby… be so deep in you… Gods, Spike… wish you knew how much I need you…”

And suddenly—so suddenly that Spike couldn’t begin to understand or hold it in—he understood.

“Doesn’t matter,” he found himself whispering back. “If’n ya scar, pet. Doesn’t… bloody fuckin’ hell, do that again…” He pressed back and down onto the two fingers slowly stretching his saliva-slick hole. “D-doesn’t m-matter, luv… kn-know y-you’re mine… w-we… we’ll leave… find somewhere th’ demons won’t keep tryin’ ta steal ya away…”

And maybe they would, Xander admitted. Maybe. But “not right now, love,” he answered, cutting off any reply by the simple expedient of closing his mouth over his vampire’s, kissing him slowly, sweetly, thoroughly, as one more finger entered that stretching, grasping hole. “Gods, Spike… gonna take you, baby… can’t help it. Need you, love; need you, baby. Need to feel you wrapped so tight and cool around me… getting warmer and warmer while I slide in and out…”

And there was no way that he could possibly ask for anything else. Not when his bloke was telling him exactly what he wanted to hear, and especially not when he knew his Xan meant it. And when he felt those amazing fingers pulling out of him with a soft, wet ‘pop’, he moaned encouragingly. “Please…”

* * * * *

There was obviously a God of Primals, Xander thought gratefully, because he hadn’t cum yet and he’d fully expected to as soon as he’d pressed into his vamp so slowly and lovingly. And it was lovingly, he knew.

He loved Spike. Loved him more than he’d ever even imagined loving anyone, and that was saying a lot. And sure, he’d already known that, but right in the moment, as he rocked so slowly, so gently into his blond’s tight body and Spike responded with soft gasps, his long, elegant fingers ghosting over Xander’s skin…? It was like a revelation.

“I love you, Spike,” he said, as though it was something new, “and if that means…” Xander sighed, slowing the movements of his hips, though not stopping them, “If that means leaving, then fine. And if it means finding some sort of sorcerer to… to make the Morah blood inert so you can mark me and turn me, then…” he bit his lip. “Then that’s f-fine…”

The vampire groaned, still rocking on his Primal’s cock. “No gettin’ human again,” he managed to grunt. “Just… keep makin’ love ta me, Xan…”

And what could he do, other than move again—faster, harder—his cock finding that perfect point within his vampire while he held himself back; forced himself to hold on until his love—beloved, a small voice said, which he readily agreed with—found his own fulfillment.

Fortunately for the both of them, it didn’t take long.

Hips shifted, pressing deeper.

Legs rose, wrapping higher.

Arms clenched, holding tighter.

And when they came—and it was ‘they’…

Two throats released wild, wicked, wonderful shouts that weren’t contained by the wards… even slightly.

And when the two lovers reversed their positions a mere ten or so minutes later, the wards were equally ineffectual.

Part Thirty-Eight

Giles groaned loudly when he saw the incoming mail from ‘the Dark Avenger’.

He had only the vaguest recollection of starting to write to the vampire a few nights—mornings, really—earlier, and while he supposed he could have checked his sent messages, he was truly frightened to find out what he might have said.

If he were very lucky, he may have cursed at Angel, he figured, but if so… the much older man likely wouldn’t have replied, and from the looks of things, he had.

The Watcher groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose before placing his glasses back on his face and opening the e-mail with a sigh.

The sigh quickly became a very loud “bloody buggering hell! I’m going to kill that girl!” as he flew from his desk and from the office-cum-library, snatching his jacket on the way.

A series of very curt phone calls later and Giles was in a car on the way to Heathrow where the Council’s jet was currently fueling and filing an emergency flight plan for Los Angeles.

His eyes were hard, face tight as he strode across the tarmac, only then realizing that he hadn’t thought to take his passport. “Bloody… hold the plane,” he snapped, “I’ve forgotten…”

“Nothing!” a breathless voice called and Giles turned to see the last thing he’d expected—Mrs. Cook, who was oddly enough the cook at the Watcher House—hustling her rather large self after him, her face red and beaded with sweat.

“Mister Giles!” she gasped, flustered and exhausted after both driving in the London traffic and then dashing as quickly as her blocky, sensible shoes would let her. “Here… sir…!”

He blinked, taking the small overnight bag and packet of documents she was shakily extending, then broke all the rules of class and position, employer and employee, and hugged her hard. “Mrs. Cook. You are…” Giles shook his head, releasing the flustered woman. “I have no idea of how you knew, or how you followed me so quickly, but I thank you.”

The older woman nodded slowly, still catching her breath. “Go, sir! Hurry! I saw the e-mail on your computer, so go save young Fran from herself!”

Giles nodded sharply and turned away, making a mental note to triple the woman’s salary as soon as he returned… as well as find out how exactly she knew what Fran was up to with an Amphora of Descent.

* * * * *

“You’re where?” Angel demanded, looking at the phone like it had suddenly sprouted feathers, “And… what?”

The heavy brow furrowed as the impatient voice on the other end of the line repeated its words of moments earlier, although more slowly this time.

“Okay. Okay, Giles, just… no, I wasn’t! Come on, why would I tell you to calm down?” Of course, he had been about to say that, but he’d be damned if he’d admit it now. “Look, just… okay. I’ll find her and make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid.”

Angel groaned silently and rolled his eyes. “I did not say Fran was stupid! I said I’d keep her from… you know what? Never mind. I’ll just get Dawn to keep an eye on her so she can’t do anything…” he growled, then snatched at the word the other man offered like it was a life saver, ‘Helpful. Dawn will keep her from being helpful, okay? I’ll have a car meet you at LAX.”

Shit. Why was it that every single Slayer he ran into always made his life more difficult? It was like… their calling. Their other calling, he amended.

He disconnected the call as the steady buzz of an empty line reached him, then hit the intercom button. “Find Dawn for me. I need to see her ASAP.”

He groaned silently. “No, Harmony. Not her ass. Just… find her.”

* * * * *

It was the sensation of being watched yet again that distracted Xander for just long enough to catch one pale fist on his jaw. “Ungh…”

“Bloody… sorry, luv,” the blond frowned, moving closer to rub the reddening spot. He pressed a slow kiss to the skin and pulled back, frowning again. “What happened, pet? You’re usually faster than that.”

Xander frowned, eyes scanning the room. “I… nothing, baby. Should have zagged, I guess.”

If Spike hadn’t been a vampire, Xander would have told him about the being watched feeling, but as it was… his love’s senses were sharper than his own and if Spike didn’t notice, then there wasn’t anyone there, and that meant…

What? That he was going crazy from being cooped up in the office building? Maybe. Hell, he hoped that was all it was, because otherwise… maybe he was finally having some sort of bizarre reaction to the animal spirit he’d bonded with. And if that was the case, then there was nothing he could do other than keep going nuts until he lost himself in whatever paranoid delusion was taking him over, and…

“Have ta be more careful, Xan,” Spike murmured, hands finding his bloke’s waist and tugging at the top of his jeans. “Don’t want ta hurt ya, do I? Ya know,” he chuckled wickedly, “not unless ya ask all nice an’ such…”

Green-tinged brown eyes closed and Xander nodded, taking a deep breath and swirling the scent-taste of his vampire through his mouth. “Yeah. I know, Spike. I… can we go back to your room now? I’m kinda… tired.”

Spike frowned, leaning into his love’s warmth. “If that’s what ya want, luv, that’s what we’ll do, yah? But ya know I can tell when you’re lyin’ ta me, right?” He nipped softly at soft, tanned skin. “You’re not tired, pet… I can tell. So what say we do what ya said an’ once we’re all settled in an’ comfy-like, ya tell me what’s botherin’ ya, hmmm?”

He almost refused; almost tried to play dumb, but… his head jerked up, nostrils flaring as he somehow heard-felt-tasted movement nearby. “Something’s here,” he barely breathed, so softly he hoped only his vampire would be able to hear him. Then he lowered his eyes and nodded slowly. “Y-yeah… okay, baby, but there’s nothing wrong. Really. I just want to get you in bed again,” he said louder, suddenly convinced that he not only wasn’t going insane, but that someone was trying to make him think he was.

One brow arched and Spike pulled his bloke harder against him. “So by ‘tired’, ya mean ‘horny’, then. Got it,” he purred for the benefit of whatever was there. He couldn’t feel anything himself, but if Xander said there was, then he was bloody sure his love was right. “Guess we’d best be off ta… nap, pet. An’ ‘nap’ is a metaphor for ‘fuck’ in this case, yah?”

And that actually wasn’t a bad idea. He and his vampire could talk… later, Xander figured. “Got a whole heap of tired going on, baby,” he said with a small grin. “Might have to… nap… more than once.”

* * * * *

Dawn rolled her eyes yet again as she walked into Angel’s office.

“Okay, I know she was never the sharpest pencil in the Sunnydale box, but what the hell is wrong with Harmony?” she demanded, “And why did she keep asking me if I wanted to borrow a coat? Is that some sort of weird vampire thing or is it just a weird Harmony thing, because I’m thinking it could go either way.”

Angel sighed and shook his head. “Let’s just say her grasp of acronyms is shaky at best, Dawn. Look, I need you to do something for me.”

One sculpted brow rose and slender arms crossed resistantly. “Uh-huh. And asking is out of the question… why, exactly? Because that tone? So not making me want to do anything for you, Angel.”

Gods, those Summers women were the bane of his existence, even if he had loved Buffy to distraction.

“Fine,” he gritted out, trying to sound pleasant, “Would you please do something for me, Dawn?”

The girl cocked her head and gave him a considering gaze before finally speaking. “Maybe. It depends on what it is.” She carefully hid her grin under the peevish expression she wore. “Well?”

Dawn blinked, then groaned as Angel repeated what Giles had told him. She nodded sharply, a determined yet concerned expression on her face. “Got it. Find Fran. Stop her from being a huge idiot. No problem… I hope.”

“What do you mean ‘hope’? Dawn…?” Unfortunately, by then Angel was talking to an empty office.

* * * * *

“What is this place?” Fran asked softly, staring at the seemingly endless expanse of bright white.

“It was once the housing area for the conduit. It is no longer such, as that entity has departed. However, it remains as a place difficult to find, in which you are unlikely to be disturbed.”

Dark hair swayed slightly as Fran cocked her head. “I think you may be right. This will do.” She nodded sharply. “The ritual must begin at precisely midnight. I’ll need the Amphora of Descent here before that.” She carefully avoided thinking about what would happen once she had it. She was willing, not stupid, after all.

Illyria’s head jerked quickly, down then up. “It will be as you say. And when you have expired, I will watch over the Old One.”

“And that’s a bloody load off,” Fran muttered, although she had a feeling Dawn would be less than pleased. The older girl was still somewhat bothered by the blue-tinged creature, after all. “Well. Bring the Amphora here by eleven, then. I… have a few letters to write.”

The one-time God followed the young Slayer to the elevator, frowning at the small bits of Fred within that insisted upon respecting the girl’s decision and bravery. Humans were not brave. It was… inconceivable. Even her pet’s companion had been easily made fearful, and simply by watching him without being seen.

Yes, human bravery was not possible. That much was clear, regardless of the shell’s actions when it had known itself to be dying.

* * * * *

“Cold,” Xander moaned, rocking even more slowly into his vampire’s perfect ass. “Not good… or bad… fuck, baby, so tight… just c-c-coldness…”

One pale hand stroked up his love’s tanned chest and over the top of his shoulder, finding the nape of Xan’s neck and dragging his lips down to his own. “Mmmm… what else… d-did th’ l-look feel like, l-luv…?” he groaned against heated fullness, his crossed ankles pulling his bloke that little bit deeper.

“Gods… can we t-talk ab-bout this later, S-spike…? You feel ssssso…” Xander gasped when the soft laughter suddenly coming from his vamp had that amazing channel rippling around his slow thrusts.

“You’re th’ one what started talkin’ bef-fore we were through, pet… y-yeah, right there, luv… just like that…”

He rolled his hips again, pulling another whimper from the blond. “L-later, th-then…” His lips returned to the cooler ones, tongue pressing deep and writhing slowly with its counterpart as one hand left the top of the desk, finding and pinching roughly at one small, pink nipple. He swallowed the sharp cry the action earned, his hips moving faster, harder, as Spike’s anus flexed again. “G-godsssss…”

Bloody hell, finally! He liked a slow, sweet fuck as much as the next bloke, but they’d done that once already since they’d gotten back to their rooms, and he was still a demon, after all. “Harder,” he growled into his primal’s mouth, his legs pulling that thick, stabbing shaft even deeper.

Oh, ‘theirs’ was going to get exactly what he’d asked for, the hyena cackled in the back of Xander’s mind, quickly rolling the human sensibilities and rising above them. “Yesssssss… Ssssssspike…” he hissed, even as the hand braced on the desk slid quickly under the bowing, heaving spine and raised the blond’s body. He pulled back fully, heated cock suddenly cold in the still air of the living room and a twisted smirk crossed his lips as he slammed back inside, penetrating their lover anew.

“B-bloody… fuck!” the vampire gasped out on a snarl, eyes flashing gold as the rough piercing filled him almost to breaking. “Do that a-g-gain!” His legs released Xander’s solid waist, rising to press against the bloke’s ribs as his love obeyed, taking the motion a step further and into repetitive as long, keening cries flew from Spike’s lips.

The way Spike’s stretched but still tight little hole opened for him with each intruding stab was amazing, and the small tinge of blood in the air made it that much better. Fingers dug deeply, roughly, into the blond’s flexing back and Xander felt the beast howling pure pleasure within him and Gods help him but he couldn’t—wouldn’t—keep that sound inside. He forced himself deep again, reveling in the desperate clench around his sensitive flesh and opened his lips wide, the thick, rich, wanton sound flying from him happily.

One more… just one more fast, harsh thrust scraping along his prostate and he’d be gone. His pet didn’t even have to touch him; his cock was going to explode anyway. “X-xander!” Spike growled, hands rough on his bloke’s arms, “Now, pet! Need ta…” His head fell back, his own echoing shout of completion leaving him as his ready shaft pulsed and spilled copious spurts of cool spunk onto his stomach and chest, even as he felt that amazing liquid heat filling him and he cried out again when hard, blunt teeth jabbed deep into his neck, breaking skin.

It was no surprise to Xander that he found sharp, jagged fangs deep in his own flesh a bare moment later. Nor was he shocked to feel himself swell and pulse again, filling Spike to overflowing as the vampire’s cock spewed once more, as well. “Beloved,” he whispered against blood-smeared skin, the word muffled by his tongue as it delved gently into the wound.

If Spike had been willing to pull away from the wonderful fount of purely wild, wicked blood, the word he’d have whispered would have been ‘yours’. But as he wasn’t willing, he’d hold the thought for later.

* * * * *

The fact that Dawn had been attached to her like a barnacle for hours was definitely getting on Fran’s nerves, not to mention the fact that if she didn’t manage to ditch the young woman, she would miss her window of opportunity.

Of course, if she missed her chance that night, there was always the next, but… she just wanted it done already! There was no possibility that she’d change her mind, of course, but at some point a girl had to say ‘enough’, Fran figured, and this was that time for her. She was tired of waiting, tired of knowing what was going to happen to her. It was time to get it done.

With that thought in mind, she gave Dawn a grin and stood. “Drink? I’m fairly certain that I saw some diet something-or-other in the fridge…”

One brow arched and Dawn gave the Slayer a suspicious gaze then nodded. Fran would have to come back out of the kitchen, after all, so it wasn’t like she’d lose her. “Cool. Oh, hey! See if there’s any more of those chips, okay?”

The younger girl laughed. “You know, with the way you eat? You should be as big as a house!”

Dawn shrugged. “Good metabolism, I guess.” She grinned. “Hurry up. I’m hungry, here.”

And she was likely to be even more hungry soon, Fran knew, because Dawn apparently hadn’t noticed that there was a second door in the kitchen. One which hopefully led to somwehere the girl couldn’t see. Otherwise… well, she didn’t want to do it, but worst case, she could always knock her friend out.

“Right, then. Drinks and crisps. I’m on it.”

* * * * *

“Bloody foolish girl!” Giles was still muttering, even as he landed at LAX. “Bloody stupid plan! The Ritual of Cardosa? She has to know it will kill her!”

He stalked quickly through the security station, and thankfully customs wasn’t an issue. He’d dodged that quite handily, simply by the fact that the plane had landed to refuel in Washington, DC. As far as the Los Angeles officials knew, he’d been through customs already, and frankly, he didn’t think too highly of the so-called tightened security measures, but he wasn’t going to call attention to it.

“I’ll bloody well kill her myself…” Of course, the last thing he’d ever admit was that killing the girl was truly the last thing on his mind. Then again, he’d also never admit to what he did want to do to her, either.

“Let’s go,” he snapped to the dark-suited man holding the sign bearing his name. “I’m in a hurry.”

“Isn’t everyone,” the driver grumbled, even as he got the VIP into the car and took off into the night.

Part Thirty-Nine

“Where the bloody hell is she?” Giles demanded harshly as he strode into Angel’s office.

The vampire sighed and shook his head, even though his demon was just begging for a chance to answer the man in less than gentle terms. “Dawn’s with her. I think they’re in one of the function rooms. Hold on.” He picked up the phone. “Angel.”

If Giles hadn’t been there, Angel would have dropped his head to the desk and groaned. As it was, though, he didn’t quite dare. The Watcher had asked one thing of him, and one thing only—keep Fran safe. And he—or rather Dawn, but since he’d been so sure she could manage it, it was really his fault—had failed. Apparently miserably.

“Well, where does the other door go?... What? Well, how should I know? Do you have any idea of how big this building is? I can’t know every little... Yes, I… No, I’m not yelling!” he growled, one hand finding his forehead and gripping its sides, fingers digging in to his temples. “Fine. Okay, fine! Just… find her!”

He placed the receiver back in its cradle with a grimace and turned sheepish and worried eyes to the human. “Uh… good news is, she’s still in the building…”

Giles glared, light eyes cold and hard. “I suggest you find her. If my Slayer dies here, the full weight of the Council will be brought to bear upon you… and this abomination of a law firm.”

Even Angelus was frowning as they followed the Watcher from the office. ‘I thought Buffy was ‘his Slayer’,’ the demon sneered.

‘Yeah, so did I,” Angel answered, although it really wasn’t an answer at all.

* * * * *

“Shit!” Xander snarled, glaring at Dawn, “why didn’t you tell me?”

The young woman snarled back easily. “I didn’t know! She was all ‘it’s easy, I just need to do this ritual and it’s something I can do alone’! How the hell was I supposed to take that as ‘I’m gonna kill myself’, huh?”

Spike growled, then added his own snarl to the mix. “Fuck th’ arguin’! Need ta find th’ bloody fuckin’ twat an’ stop her, yah?”

“Oh, good idea!” Dawn sneered. “And how do you suggest we do that, Mister Smarty-Vamp?”

The blond glared at the young woman, silently acknowledging that if he didn’t love her so much, he’d probably have hit her. “Don’t bloody know, do I? Her scent’s all over th’ bloody place!”

‘Pack,’ the hyena whispered in the back of Xander’s head. ‘Cub issss pack… alwayssss find pack…’

And he remembered how the others had tracked him to the school library when his friends had locked him up, and suddenly… Xander found himself hoping. He wasn’t sure of how or when Fran had become part of his—their—pack, but if his beast said so, then it had to be true. The animal in him didn’t lie.

‘Father’ssssss Mate. Pack.’ It offered almost sheepishly, remembering how it had been so upset that the cub was liked by ‘theirs’.

“Follow me,” Xander demanded, even as he turned and strode down the hall in the direction they’d just come from. “We can find her.”

And somehow Spike had no question in his mind that by ‘we’, his love meant the hyena, rather than the three of them.

Dawn sighed but followed as well. She didn’t quite know what was going on in Xander’s head, but doing something was far better than just wandering aimlessly and hoping they stumbled across her friend.

* * * * *

Fran checked the circle one more time, making sure that the sigils were laid as clearly as possible considering the fact that they were written in sand.

The Amphora of Descent was ready and waiting just inside the central, clear area, and the bowls for her blood and the pure water were waiting as well.

She double checked her knife, hesitant to call it an athame since she wasn’t a pagan and had never dedicated herself to Gods or Goddesses.

Still, she could do this. She was the only one who could, and… regardless of what Dawn said about the Powers, Fran seriously doubted that they would have stepped in to help her get to Los Angeles if they didn’t have plans for Xander and Spike… plans that required their Mating to be readily known to anyone around them, be those people human, demonic or otherwise.

She wasn’t surprised by the small frisson of fear that thrilled through her as she slowly removed her clothes and took the hilt of her knife in hand. Death was always frightening. Even for a Slayer. Still…

“It’s not the death, it’s the dying,” she announced, finding amusement in the fact that Illyria probably wouldn’t understand the distinction. “Time to do this.”

The human’s declaration made no sense at all, Illyria noticed. She remembered… when the shell had been dying, it had feared. And when the… when Fred had died, there had still been fear and pain.

Perhaps the Slayer was insane.

It was possible, the Hell God realized.

In fact, considering the resistance the shell had demonstrated when confronted with its destiny, the Fran-female must be mentally compromised in order to seek expiration.

Of course, the human knew that her task would be completed since Illyria herself would be guarding the old one, so perhaps that had some small bit to do with the acceptance.

Blue-tinged hair shifted slightly as the woman-creature cocked her head, observing the unclothed Slayer entering the sacred circle.

Yes… the Old One would be guarded… and Illyria would never have to admit that she was impressed by the human girl’s stoicism.

It was fit.

* * * * *

He was more beast than Xander by the time he found the proper elevator, and that was a good thing. Had he been hunting with his human senses, he never would have noticed the doors hidden behind what appeared to be a blank wall.

The hyena’s eyes darted quickly to the two males approaching, although it simply snarled in response to whatever words they were spewing.

Instead of even bothering to take the time to puzzle out the meaning behind the sounds they made, the animal scratched at the doors that none of the others could see.

‘Pack,’ it snarled, the word escaping only as a high-pitched whine.

“Shit, Harris. We don’t have time to be fucking around,” Angel growled, glaring angrily at Spike and Dawn. “Fran’s about to do something…”

“Stupid,” Spike barked. “Know that, git. Xan thinks he can find th’ bint, so we’re followin’ him.”

“Into a wall?” the older vampire sneered, ignoring the fact that he was once again hating the boy since he’d managed to convince Angelus that they’d never have him. “Because Harris has always been the smart one, right?”

Angel suddenly found himself on the receiving end of angry replies from two humans and one vampire, and when Xander let loose a loud hiccup-cough-purr that sounded pleased, he was happy to have that attention pulled away from him.

“What? Xander, please… we must locate Fran…” Giles nearly begged, although he truly wanted to find someone to beat.

“Masssssster…” the hyena announced, speaking to beings other than its Mate for the first time. “Masssster mussssst open.” It nodded at the wall.

Eyes blinked as jaws dropped.

“Xander?” Dawn tried, though the timbre and cadence were all wrong for her big brother figure.

“Hyuuulettttt… not Xxxxxan…” the beast grinned at the girl through an open mouth, its tongue lolling out just a bit.

Spike blinked then chuckled and pulled his bloke to him. “Didn’t know ya had a name of your own, luv… an’ we’ll get inta that later, yah?” He smirked when Xander’s body rubbed roughly against his and those white, blunt teeth snapped at air.


“For now, luv… need ta know what ya mean by ‘Master’, yah?”

Hyulet growled softly, his eyes finding and locking on the form of his Mate’s Maker. “Ittttt… rulessss here… ittttt can break the charrrrrrrrmmmm…”

And something about that voice, so like his bloke’s but so different as well, had Spike… shuddering. “How, luv,” he forced himself to ask.

“Touccccchhhhhhh…” and with that Hyulet reached out, grabbing Angel’s hand and slamming it roughly against the elevator doors that looked like a wall to the rest.

Angel blinked as the doors appeared, then growled. “I used to know this was here. Gunn used to…”

“Get over it!” Dawn demanded as she bushed the tall, broody vampire out of the way and stabbed at the single button. “You can get all ‘boo-hoo-poor-me’ later. Right now, we have to save Fran!”

If he could have blushed, Angel would have, but as he couldn’t, he simply piled into the elevator with the others. He clenched his fists as the small box nearly flew upwards, then seemed to change direction somehow, and by the time it slowed, then stopped, he was wondering how Gunn had stood it.

Whether it was Dawn or Xander who left the elevator first would have only been decided had there been a freeze-frame camera trained on the door.

As there wasn’t, Illyria knew nothing other than… she’d been alone, watching the Slayer begin the ritual, and a moment later she was confronted by the Old One and her pet’s toy.

That they were both extremely unhappy with her was readily apparent.

And then the others poured from the small, mobile box and she found herself facing Angel and a somewhat aged human who nonetheless had her shell’s remaining human bits both appreciative and fearful.

“We willll… hurt youuuuu if anytthhhhhhing happpppenssssss to Father’sssss Maaaate…” her pet’s pet announced seriously, ignoring the gasps from the others.

Illyria stared fixedly at the pet and allowed one brow to arch. “I do not believe that you would be able to cause me pain. I am a God while you are a…” She gasped as one wrist was grasped and twisted until the sound of bones snapping was heard sharply in the room.

“We willl make you wisssshhhhh for lessss pain.”

Dawn shuddered and inched her way around the confrontation the others were so caught up in.

Her eyes widened a good bit as she saw the place they’d found and she took a deep breath before moving to the edge of the circle Fran sat within, the other girl already chanting.

She looked back and saw the stand-off still going on, and somehow she thought that was a good thing.

It took only a moment for Dawn to push the others from her mind and as she focused entirely on herself and who she was, she reached out, one hand finding and unlocking the sealed circle just enough to let her in.

She laughed quietly, meeting Fran’s wide-eyed stare as she quickly removed her own clothing. “What?” she demanded, impressed despite herself that Fran never stopped chanting, “I’m the key, remember? I can get into any locked place! I just have to want to enough.” And with that, she dropped down beside the younger girl, legs crossed and touching Fran’s as she leaned closer and read the chant-words from the scrap of paper the girl had brought as a cheat-sheet, should it prove necessary.

* * * * *

It was the fact that Illyria suddenly tensed and looked towards the circle that had the rest of them doing so.

“Bloody… Dawn!” Spike shouted, running towards the girls and growling as he shored up against the circle.

Hyulet grinned, hanging back. It would be finished soon and they would be marked and claimed just as both he and Xander wanted… and with both the cubs working together to make it happen, neither cub would perish… he hoped.

* * * * *

Xander was equal parts fascinated and disturbed by the way his beast had taken over. It was only the fact that Spike seemed to be accepting it so easily that had him allowing it to continue even now that they’d found Fran.

Then again, he had a feeling that Hyulet was less likely to overreact to what the two girls were doing. Hell, he knew the animal spirit was less reactionary in this case, though he wasn’t sure why. The hyena had named Fran ‘pack’ just as Dawn was and that implied that any danger to them should have the beast going crazy.

Unless, of course, the danger to the girls had been reduced by the very fact that they were both performing the ritual Fran had found, and if that was so, then…

“Have to… be ready,” he grunted, forcing his way out as he let Hyulet slip back to his usual corner. “We have to be ready, Spike… when the girls are. They’re okay… right now, they’re okay…”

The vampire blinked, then pulled his bloke hard against him. “Guessin’ you’re back, yah? Beastie all done for th’ mo’, then?”

Xander nodded, fingers flexing roughly on Spike’s sides. “He, uh… really likes you, baby. A lot.”

Spike smirked. “Loves me, ya mean, pet. ‘s alright. Rather fond of th’ hissin’ thing m’self.”

* * * * *

The only drawback, as far as Spike was concerned, was that it didn’t look like they had enough time to get back to their room and naked, which of course meant that when he slipped his fangs deep this time, spearing roughly through that sun-kissed flesh, he wouldn’t have his cock buried so far inside his bloke’s tight ass, Xander wouldn’t know where he ended.

Still, it was a sacrifice he could make, considering.

His tongue danced slowly over the chosen spot, waiting for whatever sort of sign might come and he murmured against that soft skin. “Do this thing, luv, then I’m takin’ ya ta bed for a week… maybe longer, yah?”

Xander couldn’t help the chuckle that left his mouth any more than he could control the small shiver that raced through him. “Oh, hell yeah, Spike… but we’ll be talking about who’s gonna be doing the taking…”

Spike would have answered the comment but that was when he felt… something… flowing into him, through him, into his bloke and back, and… he glanced quickly at the girls in the circle, saw the oddly violet glow growing around them, heard the strange crackling sound, and…

Gods, something was… Xander gasped, head falling back as some sort of circuit opened between him and his lover, connecting them on a visceral level he’d never imagined… and when his vampire growled and drove those sharp, jagged teeth into his flesh, he shouted loud and long.

* * * * *

They’d done it!

Dawn finished the chant, swallowing hard as the last or her reserved strength drained away, her fingers tightly linked with Fran’s as the younger girl fell forward, pulses of violet and sickly green flashing across her body.

“Fran… Fran…? Fran, we did it, I felt it, it worked, Fran! Fran? Fran!”

She was almost afraid that the girl had died after all, but the circle was still up, still powered, and… “Fuck! Giles, how do I shut this thing down?” She’d been able to open a doorway for herself to enter the circle easily enough, and she knew she could get out just as simply, but that would have meant leaving Fran and since she wasn’t going to do that, she needed help.

He’d been so proud, so stunned by what the two girls had done together, although in all honesty, he was also royally infuriated with them both. Still he’d felt the ritual work, sensed the completion of whatever bond had been created to allow Xander and Spike to Mate despite the Morah blood, and then… he’d thought—hoped—it was over. Hell, he’d been planning Fran’s and Dawn’s punishments for their actions, but now…

Now, Fran had collapsed, and if he knew anything about the sort of magic she’d used—and he did—she would die unless they somehow stopped her circle from draining her completely, and that was… impossible. There was no way to force a circle out of existence, not if it had been cast by someone else, and…

“Blood,” Xander moaned, pulling his lips away from Spike’s long, cool neck for just a bare moment before returning to it helplessly.

As shocked as Giles was that his ‘son’ had managed to fight the Mating urge for long enough to not only grasp what was happening but speak, he was even more amazed that the one word suggestion actually made sense.

He wasn’t sure that what he was thinking would work, but he didn’t see any reason why it shouldn’t, and that was going to have to be good enough. It was a chance, after all.

“Use the knife, Dawn,” he ordered. “A small cut, a few drops into the amphora. It should link you closer to the ritual even though it’s passed and perhaps allow you to remove the circle!”

The young woman blinked then mentally slapped herself. Of course! Her blood would make her a part of Fran, by virtue of mixing with the other girl’s in the amphora, and if she and Fran were joined—however tenuously—then the circle was partly hers, and if it was hers… she could not only unlock a portion of it, but the whole thing.

She picked up the knife, holding it lightly against her arm and bit her lip as she sliced deep, letting thick, bright red drip quickly into the open top of the amphora.

* * * * *

None of them were prepared for the loud popping sound, or the pale yellow smoke that rose from the vessel, and none of them had any idea of whether it was a good thing or not.

Giles gasped, even as Angel tried to rush forward, only to be stopped by Illyria.

“You will endanger both their shells,” she announced, unwilling to allow anything to happen to the Old One. “Death has enough foothold already. Your presence any nearer would simply amplify its dominion.”

“I can’t let them…” the tall vampire growled, only to find his ears ringing from the slap that had knocked him to the floor.

“The Old One is more capable of this than you will ever be. If it is to be rescued, it will be by its Guardian. Cease your inept attempts to assist.”

* * * * *

Spike growled, the constant drone of worried voices disturbing what should have been the perfect moment of his existence. He was marking his bloke, for good and ever, and yet he couldn’t manage to concentrate entirely on the sensation.

Of course, the fact that he was thinking again had him remembering exactly why the others were there, much less talking—of shouting, as the case might be.

‘Right,’ he told himself, ‘Fran and th’ Bit… bloody’ “Hell!” he groaned, forcing himself away from Xander’s skin, “Get them th’ fuck out of there!”

“Yes, I hadn’t thought of that myself,” Giles snarled back, eyes still locked on the soft yellow glow inside the circle. “Whatever would we do without you?”

For his part, Xander was still reeling. Hell, even the hyena was dizzy. “Wha…?” he mumbled, finally opening his eyes to see the shifting pastel haze. “Oh…” he nodded slowly, trying to get his brain to actually work on something other than getting Spike alone. “Are… are they okay?”

“Bloody well better be,” two English voices growled in tandem.

* * * * *

It felt like she had all the time in the world, suddenly, though she wasn’t sure why.

Maybe, Dawn thought, it had something to do with the smoke surrounding her and Fran… or maybe it was an effect of the strangely familiar scent that same smoke bore. It reminded her of… something, but she had no idea what.

Still, it didn’t really matter at the moment, she figured, because she needed to focus on the braided strands of light and dark energy she could see now that she was connected to the circle.

Fran was in trouble. She could tell that much just from the slowly fading nimbus of dark light surrounding the girl’s form, though it wasn’t dimming as quickly as it had been doing mere moments earlier. Probably because whatever was draining the girl now had Dawn’s energy to draw on as well.

“Okay… so how do I…” she whispered to herself before frowning and shaking her head. “Just unlock it. Open it, break it wide, and… hope the energy doesn’t kill us both, I guess.”

She took one deep breath, then another, letting the scented spoke curl into her lungs and calm her. “Alright. Here… goes… nothing…”

And with that, she concentrated, pictured the circle shrinking, falling in on itself, being reabsorbed into the earth, or wherever the frilly hell Fran had drawn it from, considering where they were.

Part Forty

“I had hoped to unnerve him enough that he would leave,” Illyria answered mechanically, not entirely certain of why she was even responding to her pet’s demands. “He is unnecessary to my existence and therefore to yours.”

Spike snarled, his Mate’s hands on his arms—and the affection he still bore for Fred—the only things keeping him from destroying the bloody bint where she stood.

Xander sighed, silently agreeing with Hyulet that they’d have to teach the so-called God a lesson, and soon. Possibly by sparring with her/him/it… whatever. “Fine. You made me nervous. Good job, there. But notice me not leaving?” He smirked. “Hellmouth born and bred, lady. It’d take a lot more than some random ‘I’m being watched’ feeling to get me to leave Spike. Hell, you’d have to kill me.”

The Hell God frowned. “As you are now Mated to my pet, the extermination of your shell would ruin any possible amusement he might provide.” And as far as Illyria was concerned, that was the end of it.

Xander chuckled softly, pulling the tense blond in front of him back hard against his chest as he scanned Angel’s office and the rest of his pack.

“Fran’s alive,” he murmured, stating the obvious, “even if she did age close to ten years from that… ritual. Dawn’s fine, or she will be once she’s finished being grounded for life…”

Spike moaned softly, his fury with Illyria swiftly becoming a different sort of heat. “Soddin’ Sire’s broodin’ away like always…”

“Think they’d notice if we headed off for that… week in bed, baby?”

The vampire purred, rocking himself back against the hard body behind him. “Takin’ off,” he stated loudly, smirking at the sudden glances his tone earned. “Franny? Thanks, luv! Th’ years look good on ya… an’ maybe old Rupes won’t feel like he’s robbin’ th’ cradle now, yah?” He smirked as both Slayer and Head Watcher blushed.

Xander groaned and dragged Spike towards the door.

“Expect an invite ta th’ weddin’, we do!” the blond shouted, even as his Mate pulled him from the room.

* * * * *

Giles blinked as the door swung shut behind his son and his… “Oh, bloody hell, does this make Spike my son-in-law?” he groaned.

Dawn laughed although she didn’t have enough energy at the moment to do much more than that. “Hey, you’re the one who was all supportive of them in the first place. I didn’t even know about it ‘til way after the fact. Deal.”

Deep brown eyes crinkled slightly at their newly older edges and Fran wisely chose to sip her tea and say nothing. Of course, that might have had something to do with the fact that she didn’t particularly want to draw Giles’ attention to his hand on her shoulder… or the fact that she definitely deserved whatever punishment he had in mind.

The Watcher sighed and nodded slightly. “Yes, well… I was rather more concerned for their continued existence than any possible discomfort I might be caused, wasn’t I?”

The younger Summers sister rolled her eyes and laughed again. “Whatever, Giles. Like none of us can tell that you like Spike and think he’s good for Xan? Tell me another one.”

Fran found herself grinning as Giles sputtered and made careful note of Dawn’s methods. Her future boyfriend—if she could call a grown man her ‘boyfriend’—was adorable when he was flustered, after all. And she would date the man now that her apparent age matched more closely to the age she’d always felt.

Angel groaned silently, his head throbbing from the flurry of words being exchanged. They’d all been through an incredibly traumatic evening, and yet he seemed to be the only one feeling the effects of it because…

Dawn was laughing and taunting Giles, Giles was stammering replies but was also smiling, and Fran… well, for whatever odd reason, Fran seemed to be the least disturbed of them all, which was just bizarre considering the fact that most human women fought aging with a passion and yet here was a Slayer, suddenly older and… embracing it!

It was only then that Angel finally managed to put everything together, and… “It was Fran!” he announced disbelievingly, staring at Giles. “The too young girl you were so worried about loving! It was Fran! And she’s happy to be older, so she must feel it too!”

And somehow Dawn found the energy to force herself quickly from the couch. “Uh, I’ll just be heading off to bed, guys… see you!”

The fact that none of them noticed the Key practically running from the room was something of a statement regarding how stunned they all were—even Angel, and he’d said the fateful words.

“I never,” Giles began, just as Fran announced “Of course I…”

They both stopped speaking upon hearing each others’ words.

“But you… Fran, it’s not right… I was entrusted with…”

“I’m a grown woman, Giles… and more so now, and…”

“You are still far too young to…”

“I’m the most mature person you know… with the possible exception of Mrs. Cook!”

“I… well, yes, but only because everyone I know is…”

“Shut up, Rupert. I’m old enough to know what I want.”

“Only because you… you foolish, foolish girl! You could have died!”

“I could have died every single time I left the House, Rupert. Would have, one day. This way, it would have made a difference.”

“Bloody stubborn, careless, infuriating… beautiful… girl…”

Angel wrenched his eyes away from the spectacle of Giles removing his glasses and leaning closer to the brunette. “I, uh… I’ll be expecting an invitation to the wedding, too,” he muttered, wincing as he left his own office, although he was fairly sure Giles and Fran wouldn’t… do anything too intimate… on his couch. Or his floor. Or his desk, for that matter, and damn Spike and Xander for making him even think about such things being done in his work space.

* * * * *

They barely made it to their rooms, but Xander didn’t care… and they were their rooms now; not just Spike’s.

It amazed him how much of a difference one scar made to his perception of things, but there it was.

He was officially Spike’s, finally. He could feel the scar every time he turned his head, even if he hadn’t had the chance to look at it in a mirror yet.

His lips were hot and hard on the full, cool mouth of his Mated, and Xander didn’t care that he couldn’t see the scar. He’d see it later… much later. Maybe in a week, although he had a feeling his beloved had completely underestimated the amount of time they’d be spending in their bed.

“Love you,” he mumbled, hands fumbling roughly at cotton and denim, even as slightly smaller and much cooler hands returned the favor on his own clothing. “Fuck, Spike, love you so much… Mate, my Mate…” And Hyulet roused, hissing softly at their blond, adding his agreement with the sentiment.

Spike groaned, the desperation for his Xan’s skin against his own building even higher than it had been in the White Room. “Mine,” he snarled, golden eyes closed, ridges pressing against his love’s hot, slightly sweaty neck as he literally tore the fabric from Xander’s body. “Mine!” he announced again, growling when his own clothes finally met a similar fate.

He couldn’t wait. Couldn’t stand the few seconds it would take to get to the bedroom and throw his Primal down. Couldn’t bear to spend whole minutes preparing his bloke and taking him slowly, the way he deserved to be taken… couldn’t do anything but push him hard against the wall beside their bedroom door and thrust roughly against him, sharp, jagged teeth finding their way unerringly to the already prominent scar.

Xander howled roughly, his head falling back to slap against the wall and one hand rose, grasping the back of Spike’s head as the blond rubbed against him, fangs buried deep. “Yessssss…” he and his beast moaned, free hand sliding down that strong, silken spine to dip into the cleft of the most perfect ass in the world.

“Yesssss,” he moaned again when Spike broadened his stance, letting thick fingers find and dance over—then into—the tight little hole he craved. “Sssspike…” he added, arching his neck harder into the sharp fangs and gasping as the erotic sensation of his blood being drawn to feed his Mate grew stronger.

The vampire snarled, hips rocking hard against his Xander’s, cock sliding against the hotter one, the motion slicked by their fluids, then rocking back onto the two fingers pressed so deeply inside him. He nearly crawled up his bloke’s sturdy body, a yelp muffled by tanned skin when the hand in his hair suddenly shifted, and…

And the wall was against Spike’s back suddenly, the fingers that had been inside him now holding him open, and Xander was, Xander was, Xander was

Inside him! Oh, gods, he was inside Spike, so deep, so fucking deep, and the wall behind Spike was holding him up just as much as his strong, hot hands were, and he was going to lose it any second, going to explode and just… cum and cum and never stop cumming, and… “Love you,” he gasped, neck still arched hard against those hungry lips. “Love you,” Xander groaned again, his body pistoning roughly, plumbing the depths of his Mate’s insides.

Long, pale legs wrapped tighter around Xander’s solid waist and Spike finally pulled away from the perfect fount of his lover to shout his pleasure into the air, his own neck offered wantonly to his Mate. “Please…” he begged, “Please, Xan… please, luv, pet, precious… bloody fuckin’ hell, please!”

“Never tell you ‘no’,” Xander managed to admit before he couldn’t resist anymore and drove his own teeth roughly, deeply, lovingly into the pale expanse of skin, the fullness of his beloved’s essence flowing into and through him in a flash of perfection that he never would have recognized before Spike’s bite had scarred.

It was the knowledge that he’d feel the same degree of wholeness every time he tasted Spike from that moment on that had him tensing, sac drawing up tight as he shuddered and shook, spilling long and deep into the tight, cool sheath around him… and when he felt the answering gush of fluid against his stomach, heard the soft, fulfilled howl filling the air, Xander knew.

“All I needed,” he mumbled, tongue lapping almost gently at the seeping wound on his vampire’s throat, “was a miracle… and I found it Spike.”

The blond purred softly, even as his Mate carried him through the doorway and collapsed on top of him on the bed, the action driving the slightly softened shaft within him deeper still. “All I need… is ya,” he murmured, arms and legs tightening around his Xan, holding him right where he was as they both drifted swiftly off to sleep.

* * * * *

Six months later, Xander and Spike found themselves in England and dressed in matching tuxedoes. They didn’t live there, of course. They were working with Wolfram and Hart, and even lived in a small but very posh house high in the Hollywood Hills which had once belonged to the firm but was now theirs by law.

No, they weren’t in England for any reason other than to see Xander’s ‘Father’ and Fran wed.

There had been a bit of a fuss when Fran’s brother had shown up; mostly because Xander had never imagined that it would be the same man he’d met so briefly in Uganda when he’d still thought Spike was some sort of impostor… but also because Spike had gotten extremely possessive of his Mate as soon as the tall and definitely attractive bloke had shown up.

Still, once Clint had known the two males were attached, he’d simply treated them as family, which had gone a long way towards calming them both.

The ceremony itself was very traditional, and even Spike had to admit that Fran looked a treat in her white gown.

“Of course she does,” Dawn said smugly when he mentioned it later, “She came to see me in Rome, and when I say we checked every designer, I do mean every. It was fun!”

“Thank the bloody fuckin’ Powers I Mated ta a bloke, then,” the vampire said back, much to her amusement. “Couldn’t have waited for th’ weddin’ day, anyway. Old Rupert must have th’ willpower of a bloody saint.”

Xander stood up as best man, and when the time came for his toast, he simply raised his glass and spoke softly into the microphone for the literally hundreds of Watchers who’d managed to attend.

“Most of you know me,” he said, blushing just a bit because public speaking still wasn’t his thing. Hell, he felt just like he’d felt on Talent Night, way back in the Dale. “In fact, most of you probably wish you didn’t!”

He smiled, encouraged by the expected laugh that got him.

“I’ve known Giles for… well, forever, it seems like, and he’s a good man. Smart, as we all know…” Another laugh. “Strong… because how else could it be that his Slayer…” he looked at Giles and Fran and grinned, “His first Slayer, I mean… is still alive? He’s the one who taught her, right? But what most of you might not know is that he’s funny, too. And has a heart the size of… well, Hell. If we were back home I’d say Texas, but you guys—and girls—all know what I mean.”

Spike drained his glass and refilled the flute with the pale whiskey he’d been hiding under the table. “He’s a wanker,” he muttered, blinking when the microphone caught his words; then laughing when Fran’s reply of ‘not after tonight’ was also amplified.

Xander blushed again, darting a warning look at his Mate. “Anyway… my point—and I did have one—is that Giles is a smart, strong, funny, capable and loving man. He took not only Buffy but the rest of us, too, into his heart and he loved us with a quiet determination and joy that made each and every one of us want to be worthy. And now…”

He smiled sincerely, looking at Fran.

“And now he’s found someone who makes him feel that same way. And he is worthy, and even better, Fran knows it. And whatever magics were involved in making their union possible, I’m sure the Powers had a hand in it because knowing them both the way I do, I can’t imagine there being anyone better for either of them than each other.”

Fran’s smile was brilliant, even with the small glimmer of tears at the corners of her eyes. “You know you’re right, Xander,” she called to him, deliberately making her voice ring. “Besides which, he’s well and truly stuck with me now!”

Giles merely smiled, his cheeks still pink from pure disbelieving satisfaction. “And that is precisely how I wish it be, dearest,” he murmured solely for Fran’s ears.

“So here’s to Giles and Fran,” Xander finished, raising his glass higher. “May they always know each others’ hearts and souls, and may they never feel less blessed than they truly are. Real, true love is hard to come by. They are blessed.”

* * * * *

Spike’s toast as Fran’s ‘Demon of Honor’ was much shorter.

“Chit’s made her choice, yah? Coulda done better but I don’t see how. Rupert’s a good bloke an’ he’ll treat her right or he knows he’ll be answerin’ ta me. Hope they live as long as they love an’ love as long as they live. Cheers. Can we get on ta th’ partyin’ an’ food now? Want ta dance with my bloke, I do.”

* * * * *

Considering everything that had happened over the last year or so, the funny thing to Xander was that Fran hadn’t blushed much when he, Spike, and pretty much the rest of the inner circle had seen her naked, nor when Giles and she had left for England six months earlier and Fran had been walking with a care that implied her ass was sore.

No, the funny thing was that he’d never seen Fran blush as deeply or as wildly as she did when Spike kissed her cheek at the airport a few days after the wedding and called her ‘little Mum’.

Then again, he figured Fran sort of was Spike’s Mother. Step-mother, anyway, if Giles was standing in stead of Tony Harris, which he definitely was.

It wasn’t until they were on the Council jet and halfway across the ocean that Spike came clean, and by the time they’d changed planes at Dulles, getting onto the Wolfram and Hart luxury sky-yacht—as Spike called it—Xander was already making notes about cherry wood and lacquer for the cradle he would build.

Spike smiled tenderly, running long, pale fingers through dark silken locks as he listened to his bloke's muttered words. Xander was going to love having a sibling, he realized… and maybe they’d be moving to England after all.

The End

A/N: It's been ages since I posted part 39 and I'm sorry-- to those who've been following this one. It's been... hard, knowing it was time for it to end but not really wanting it to. As I said in the headers for part 1, I didn't know where this was going but I hoped it would be a hell of a ride. Maybe I was right about that. At least it was fun from this end. LOL Thank you all SO much for reading and commenting on the many, many parts of this one. I love you all and I am truly thankful for the day someone over at AFF told me in reviews that I should join this comm.

*sighs* Yes, I'm getting weepy about the end of this fic. *sniffles* Sorry.

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