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Tisienne Blue

Part One

The voices weren't actually voices as such. They were merely a portion of his psyche telling him what he already knew although the dream-sense was new.

‘Cheating… running around… he's playing you…’

The dark haired man rolled over, moaning softly. He didn't want to believe it when he was awake and he definitely didn't want to know it in his dreams.

‘Older… more experienced… how could you think he'd be satisfied with YOU…’

“No,” he groaned helplessly, his arms reaching for the body that should have been beside him. “No…” he groaned again, fingers finding nothing but cool, empty sheets.

‘Face it… you're old news… he's found someone else, some other man… someone who will give him everything HE needs…’

“I do that,” he snarled silently, his sleeping hands finding the pillow that held his lover's scent and pulling it close. “I… do that…”

He sobbed softly, knowing it wasn't true. There were things he TRIED to give his lover that he just couldn't. He did his best and the older man appreciated it, he knew, but…

‘Being replaced,’ the voices whispered wickedly into his sleeping mind. ‘He wont care at all about you soon… especially with what he knows about you… what you told him yourself…’

His sobs became whimpers. Was it possible, he wondered even as his dreams showed him pictures of his lover with another… another he'd worried over for months. “No!” He groaned, holding the pillow closer, “NO!”

‘Yesss…’ the voices whispered, ‘He's been away… always with an excuse, but he's been away. He doesn't love you anymore… wants you to leave, to let him enjoy his new lover… and you're so selfish, so desperate… why would he love you now, if he ever did at all…’

“Be-because he does!” he wailed, his own voice waking him by the sheer volume of it. “I LOVE him! HE loves ME!”

He swallowed hard, throat aching as he heard the echoes of his last scream careening from the walls.

He sobbed softly, the voices finally gone, and sat there against the headboard of the bed that had become THEIRS as he waited for the dawn and his lover's return.

* * * * *
“So… where you been?” Harris asked slowly as his claimed finally strolled into the kitchen smelling of smoke and booze.

Spike shrugged and leaned against the doorway, watching his Xan open and heat the usual post-work bag of blood for him. Vamp could not live by Claimed alone, more was the pity.

“Th’ usual. Keepin’ sadly stupid humans from becomin’ kibble for th’ demon types.” He grinned, then crossed the room, kissing his beloved hard as the microwave dinged. “How's th’ new book comin’?”

The brunette sighed, rubbing his empty socket lightly. “It's not even breathing hard. I'm having… problems with a couple of the characters. Their motivations and stuff.”

He chuckled and opened the small silver box, taking his breakfast-or dinner, actually-out. One more kiss before he sipped, then Spike pulled his love closer, purring softly. “Not ta worry, luv… you'll figure it out soon enough. You always do, yah?”

“Yeah,” Harris agreed, his smile not really reaching his eye, “I always do… even when I don't like it.”

Spike frowned as the younger man slipped from under his arm and wandered back into the living room. Pet seemed to be in a mood, but maybe… maybe it was one he could shag him out of. Hell, he knew he could.

He finished his blood in mere moments, already thinking about the various types of jollying he and his Claimed were going to indulge in.

* * * * *

“How's that, luv…? Like it, Xan…?” he groaned, arching up into the slick, clenching channel as his hands stroked the strong, tanned chest, fingers twisting lightly at the thick silver rings.

“G-gods… Spike… babe…” Harris pressed down and back into the slow, deep thrust, his eye locked on their reflection in the spelled mirror on their bedroom wall. “J-jesus… fuck… you know I do… so much…”

Spike smirked, his eyes locked on the reflected gaze of his love for another moment before admiring the image they made in the mirror Red had sent them for his Claimed’s birthday. It had arrived a bit early but he wasn't complaining; especially when it let him see…

His Xan, on his knees, legs spread and leaning back against him, one arm up and over his own shoulder, holding on desperately to his-Spike's-matching shoulder. Strong, pale legs visible between the tanned ones beneath the long, thick red bobbing cock and swollen sac as he shifted slowly, sliding deep within that perfect anus, that tight, hot sheath.

“Beautiful, pet… seein’ you strainin’… feelin’ you writhin’, your body beggin’ for more…” He groaned, one hand sliding down to slowly stroke the restrained cock, even as the other hand continued to twist and tease at the overly sensitive nipples. “Luv how you feel, Xan… bloody hell… so amazin’ly perfect… ‘s like… you were made… just… for…” A gasp slipped from his lips as his beloved flexed tight thighs and lifted a good six inches before dropping back down fully and quickly. “L-luv…”

“You,” the brunette grunted, repeating the action while his cock burned with the slow, cool fire of his vampire's touch. “Made… for you… babe…” He arched into the twisting of the silver rings, moaning his satisfaction as the motion forced that thick, perfect cock just that little bit deeper into his welcoming body. “A-always y-yours, S-s-spike…”

“That's right,” the blond agreed with a soft grunt, squeezing the heavy sac gently. “Bloody hell, Xan… need ta… need you ta…” he growled, eyes flashing to gold as his Claimed flexed wickedly and rhythmically around him.

His hand released the cooler shoulder behind him and Harris let himself fall forward on their bed, his ass raising a bit as he landed in a more traditional hands and knees pose, just the tip of that glorious cock still within him. “I know… G-gods, babe… I… n-need… fuck, yes!” his words were a wild and needy moan as he felt Spike shift, hands moving to grasp hard at his hips as the vampire rose on his knees and slammed deep, feeling that tightening sac slapping against his own purpled and pulsing one. “Sp-spike! P-please…”

“That's right, luv,” the blond growled again, hips moving like pistons as he battered his beloved's insides wickedly, shifting angles to brush that small node repeatedly. “Beg me, pet… beloved… Claimed… MY Xan… you beg… so pretty…”

Harris would have chuckled if he hadn't been so busy whimpering with pure pleasure and that small bit of pain his lover always managed to so perfectly inflict. As it was, all he could do was stare at the reflected demon plundering his ass so willfully and wonderfully and do just as he'd been asked. “C-come on… babe, please… please, Sp-spike… c-cum f-for me… want t-to f-feel y-you… f-fill me up… GODS! Y-yes, babe… m-more… please, babe… please… n-need to… c-c-c-c-c…”

“Like that, ‘ey luv…?” Spike managed to groan through the need to cum deep and hard. “L-luv it too, pet… MY pet…” He released one slightly bruised hip and let his hand move under his human, wrapping tightly around the seeping tip of the restrained shaft as he pressed his chest against that long spine. “Goin’ ta fill you, luv… just like you want… burst inta you, cum so hard you can taste me… already ruined you for any other bloke… just l-like you r-ruined… m-me…”

Golden eyes closed, even as lips found soft, salty-sweet skin, nuzzling desperately for his mark, and as he found it he bit deep, fingers releasing the snap on the leather ring around his beloved's shaft. “Cum for me, Xan,” he mumbled against that skin, the words almost unrecognizable as he drank deep of the heaving, shuddering flesh.

“Y-YES… SP-SPIKE…! TH-THERE…” And as always when his claimed was buried balls-and-fangs deep in him, telling him to cum, Harris's entire body sang. He forced himself back even harder, trying impossibly to pull even his vampire's pulsing sac within him to join the swelling, spewing cock he felt. His eye rolled back as the cock ring was released, his own orgasm exploding violently in long, shuddering spasms of milky white, his balls drawing up so tightly it hurt. “SP-SPIIIIIIKE….!” He howled, barely managing to keep himself from collapsing right then and there.

‘Beloved, always mine, always here, always loved, never without you, never alone, never without love, never want another, never need anything but you…’ their bond sang, even as Spike's groin pressed deeper, harder into the hot, tighter-than-sin anus that fit him like a glove and he let himself go, great, spurting volleys of cool, thick spunk bathing his Claimed’s insides as he growled and groaned and swallowed the perfect essence of his beloved.

‘Never leave you-never another-always yours-always mine-loved and loving-needed-needing-want-love-forever-forever-forever yours-forever mine-always yours-always mine-nothing but you…’ the bond returned, dragging every nuance of emotion from Harris and sharing it with Spike just as the reverse was true. Harris shuddered again, satisfaction and nearly pure love filling him just as fully as the perfect cock still buried deep and hard inside him. He groaned his disappointment as that same shaft slowly pulled from his thoroughly plundered asshole. “F-fuck, Spike…” he moaned, finally letting his body fall to the mattress and smiling a bit as he felt the soft, full lips on his back. “Amazing…”

The vampire chuckled, nipping his way slowly down the beloved spine, tasting salt and sunlight and something uniquely Xander. “That you are, luv… amaze me every moment of every day, you do…” Teeth dug playfully into one rounded and toned globe of flesh and he chuckled as his Claimed moaned deeply. “Don't want ta ever be without you, Xan… can't do it…”

Harris moaned again as strong, elegant fingers spread his legs a bit then gasped as he felt the tip of that soft, wet tongue probing delicately at his pleasantly sore hole. “Spike…!” Fingers clutched wildly at cotton sheets and his eye closed again, the cool mouth soothing a bit of the soft burn.

He loved the way his Claimed moaned. Loved it just as much as the assorted whimpers, groans, mumbles and grunts. His tongue swept slowly around the reddened hole, rolling against the pucker for a moment before forming a hard, blunt point and slipping in. His hands pressed down, holding his love's hips hard against their bed as he slipped deep, slow circular motions gathering what he could of the fluids he'd left behind and he purred low and deep.

“J-jesus… fuck…” Harris sighed, both soothed and excited by the sensation. “Fuck, Spike… I love it when you do that…” His hips rocked slightly within the firm hold, out of habit more than need now. “Love it… when you do… anything, babe…”

“ ‘s a good thing, luv,” the vampire whispered, pulling away from his Claimed’s rear for just a moment, “Because you taste like heaven, pet… heaven an’ me… always want you ta carry my scent, my flavor… an’ I'm goin’ ta see to it that you do, yah?”

Any reply Harris might have made was made mute as that cool, laving, talented tongue returned to him, sliding deeply and comfortingly into that still-stretched ring of muscle.

Part Two

He'd been surprised at just how well he'd gotten on with his ‘new’ Grandmother. Hell, it almost felt like he'd known her forever. She was kind, generous, loving… sometimes a bit TOO much so, although he understood that he was her only link to his mother… her daughter who'd died.
Still, sometimes it was a daunting task.

Fortunately, it wasn't often that she became clingy. He'd come to love the woman, but sometimes… well, sometimes a bloke needed a bit of time to himself… or something like that.
Lily seemed to understand that mostly and had offered him an apartment in her building for his own. It was a lucky thing, Robert figured, that it was on a different floor. Otherwise the screams and begging might have informed her of things she didn't need to know about him… like his orientation.

On the other hand, she'd mentioned Will and Harris more than once, her tone making it obvious that she knew of their relationship, and… maybe if he just TOLD her he wouldn't still feel like there was something keeping them from really getting close.

It was an odd and unusual position for him, Robert admitted. He'd known of his own proclivities since he was twelve or thirteen. He'd simply never had the chance to inform his parents… ‘adoptive parents’ he reminded himself… or his equally adoptive grandfather. And even if he had, he admitted silently, he'd seem how Grandfather Quentin had treated Wesley Windham-Price when that young man had even been SUSPECTED of same-sex leanings. It wasn't likely that he'd have felt comfortable outing himself to Quentin, regardless of the blood he'd thought they'd shared.

And then there was Elliot… and Trevor.

He hadn't been able to do much of anything but think about the two men since they'd left England. He was entirely sure neither of them had given him a second thought since then, except…

‘I can't do this, Robert,” he remembered hearing, his hands tight and hard against the straining back. ‘I really can't. I… I'm sorry…’

It was a moment. Just that. A moment in time.

Robert sighed softly, one hand stroking over his hardening shaft beneath the boxers he wore. “Bloody hell…”

The knock on the door was sharp and somewhat annoying but Robert got up anyway. He looked through the peep hole and blinked before he opened the door.

“This is unexpected,” he said quickly, eyes moving up and down the taller man in front of him. “Not unwelcome, mind you, just unex…”

“Shut up,” the man demanded, stepping inside and slamming the door behind him. “Suck me. Then bend over and give me that pretty little ass of yours.”

And as Elliot and Trevor were both hours away in reality, although not in his mind, Robert did just that, his lips and tongue stroking over the thick shaft Paul presented to him, then dropping his boxers and positioning himself over the arm of the couch as the man slipped on a condom and drove in, barely spending any time preparing him.

And if Robert imagined the brunette as a different man entirely, and pictured an older blond than himself watching and waiting to get in on the action, well… he figured he was entitled to the fantasy.

* * * * *

He felt like a slut. Truly. He felt like the worst sort of slut there'd ever been.

Sure, there was nothing wrong with taking what was offered, but the way he'd just… gone for it with Paul the night before was… heinous.

Even worse, the man was still there and Robert had no idea of how to get him to leave.

Fortunately Paul solved that problem for him.

“So you really live here, huh? I mean I thought maybe it was a friend of yours who was lending you his place for the night the first times, but you really do… I don't know how you afford it.” Paul chattered as he made eggs and bacon, his naked body arched away from the stove. “I hear the woman who owns this place LIVES here! She used to be a hooker, then she got some dirt on some senators and governors and they bought her the building!”

The man grinned and chuckled, looking at his partner from the night before. So hot, so young… so willing to do whatever he asked.

“Amazing what a whore can achieve, huh?”

It was in that moment as he felt the righteous fury filling him that Robert knew for certain that he loved Lily just as much as he'd loved his parents and much more than his grandfather Quentin.

“Actually,” he said coldly-icily, in fact-“Lily Jamison was never ANY man's whore. She was, and IS, a sweet tempered, wonderful woman who simply had poor taste in the man she chose as husband.”

Robert's eyes hardened and he stood, abandoning the stool he'd been perched on and stalking towards Paul. “And as she is my GRANDMOTHER, I believe it would be best if you left. NOW!”

“Wha’… Robert, I…”

“No. Leave. Don't return. And if you should find a way in without calling up again, I WILL call the police and have you arrested for felony trespassing. GO!”

“You little bitch,” the man snarled, stalking from the kitchen to snatch his clothes up from where he'd left them the night before. “You're not even that good of a fuck!” he lied baldly as one hand darted out, slapping Robert's cheek. “Just as much of a little whore as they say that grandmother of yours was. I'm just glad you don't expect me to pay you for last night.”

* * * * *

Robert fell shuddering on the couch after the man left. His entire body shook and he just felt dirty. “Bloody fuck… what have I done?” he asked himself out loud.

“Filled your yearning for two good men with one bad one,” he answered himself a moment later.

Still, it seemed that Trevor and Elliot were an established couple and he was the last one to want to interfere. He'd had his first great love when he'd still been at Eton and it had ended when his known family had died, but he still hated the man Harry had taken up with. He still thought the underclassman had just been waiting to drive a wedge between them, never mind the fact that Robert would have been willing to accept the younger boy as their third.

That hadn't been what the boy had wanted, apparently. No, Mitchell had wanted Harry--Lord Jersey-to-be--as his own, and to hell with the other boy who loved him… meaning Robert.

It had almost destroyed him. He'd lost his parents and his grandfather in one day… and he'd lost his lover less than a month later.

He'd promised himself back then that HE'D never be a Mitchell. And he wouldn't. Not for anything.

* * * * *

Lily watched the boy-her grandson, she reminded herself with a thrill-as he jittered and twitched on the loveseat in her sitting room. Something was bothering him. It was obvious.

She wondered for a moment whether it had anything to do with the angry-looking young man who had almost knocked her over when she'd come back from taking Trixie walkies earlier, though she hoped not. She'd seen him a time or two in the last month, once getting on the elevator on Robert's floor. He'd seemed… petulant. Not at all the sort of man she'd approve of for her grandchild… not even for the ones she didn't particularly care for.

She truly didn't know just when she'd become fully aware of Robert's leanings but one thing she'd always prided herself on was accepting the things she couldn't change, and… perhaps Robert's love of other men had been part of what had shaped him into such a kind and worthwhile young man.

No, Lily told herself, while she might be slightly disappointed that the boy wouldn't continue her line, she was proud of him and the way he'd turned out. He was a good man. Now if he'd just tell her what was wrong, maybe she could help.

Or maybe he simply needed something to occupy his time now that he was on an indefinite leave of absence from his researching position in England.

Yes, she smiled… that was likely it. The child was used to working. He probably felt at loose ends with nothing particular to do all day other than visit with his old Gran.

Her mind turned over various possibilities and nodded slightly. She knew just how to deal with that, and… if Robert thought he was doing her a favor, he'd be less resistant. Besides, she felt a certain need to see how he would handle the responsibility of the Jamison ‘empire’ as her late husband had liked to call it.

“My dear,” Lilly said after refilling their cups with the strong, dark tea she liked so much, “I wonder if I might impose upon you for a short while. I know you've only been here for a few months, but… would you mind terribly if I asked you to look in on some of our properties? I… have a man who does that, but lately I've been wondering just how trustworthy he is. His invoices for repairs alone have gotten quite out of hand.”

Robert arched one pale, slender brow and cocked his head, seeing nothing but sincerity and a slight hint of concern in Lily's eyes. He was still uncomfortable at the notion that the elderly woman wanted to settle her fortune on him, but she refused to listen to any of his arguments on the subject and… he figured he might as well become familiar with what he was obviously going to be stuck with one day.

Besides, Lily was a sweet old girl. If one of her employees was stealing from her, which was what she seemed to be hinting at, then he would find out and put a stop to it. The process might even keep him from obsessing over what he'd never have.

“I'm honored, Lily,” he replied with a smile as he selected a small biscuit and nibbled at it. “It would please me greatly to be of assistance.”

Lily smiled in return and nodded. “Lovely, dear. I'll have an itinerary available for you in two days, along with travel arrangements. Or is that too soon?”

“No, no,” the young blond insisted, still smiling. “That will be perfect.” Maybe with some new sights and sounds he could… forget.

“Good,” the old woman said with another smile, this one for her small dog as the puff of fur trotted in from the next room and jumped up into Robert's lap. If she'd doubted her own instincts at all, Trixie’s adoration of her grandson would have alleviated any question. Her pet was a VERY good judge of character.

Part Three

"Hey, what are you doing, baby?"

Elliot jumped a bit guiltily and shoved the small piece of paper into his pocket before turning around to smile at his lover. "Nothing, Trev. I was just… looking for something but it’s okay. Not something I really need or anything… so are you ready? You look like you’re ready…"

Trevor’s brow furrowed. Elliot had been acting oddly for months but the other man wouldn’t talk about it. Hell, Elliot hadn’t been talking about much of anything since he’d finished the transfer to the New York office of Hamsterville Publishing. Maybe it was just because of the new city or that their apartment was still clearly Trevor’s. He didn’t know but it was starting to worry him.

He sighed and looked down at his black slacks and soft red shirt. "Yeah… I’m ready when you are, El. Did you… that is, what about the present?"

Elliot smiled, kissing Trevor’s cheek lightly as he stepped past him and grabbed the small box from the coffee table. "Right here… so we’re going, right?"

The brunette sighed silently. Of course they were going. It wasn’t like their friends would forgive them for not showing up. Unless it was because they’d been making love and lost track of time, and who was he kidding? Elliot hadn’t let himself be distracted like that for weeks. "Lead on, baby," he finally said, trying to ignore the fact that there was a problem. He’d been doing it for ages now, so he figured he was pretty good with the denial.

* * * * *

Elliot sighed softly as the cab driver cursed fluently at the other cars around them, the soft exhalation covered by the creative phrases. He knew Trevor was unhappy. He could see it in those soft brown eyes every time he looked at him. He just didn’t know what to do about it.

It was his fault. He knew it was. He’d pulled away from his lover, afraid to tell him, to admit what he’d done.

It wasn’t even that it was such a bad thing. No, the bad part was in not being honest with Trev but… Elliot hadn’t expected it to bother him so much and now it did and it was too late. How could he suddenly tell Trevor after all this time and expect him to believe that it hadn’t meant anything; especially when he was pretty sure that would be a lie.

So he was stuck, he admitted to himself. He loved Trevor more than he’d ever thought possible, but… he couldn’t tell him so. Not when he didn’t know how to tell him what had happened.

Elliot forced himself to smile as they pulled up in front of Spike and Harris’s building. At least his best friend was in a relationship that was working. He was happy for him, and a bit envious, even while he wondered what the hell was wrong with HIM. Why couldn’t he just let it go and be happy with what he had?

It was a good question, but sadly Elliot didn’t have a good answer to it.

* * * * *

Harris was laughing as he heard the knock at the door. "Spike… the frosting is supposed to go on the CAKE!"

The vampire grinned, still spreading the thick chocolate. "An’ most of it is, luv… wouldn’t mind if you wanted ta help me clean up, though…" One brow waggled suggestively and he nodded down at the liberal dollops of brown on his bare chest.

"I’d love to, babe, but…" the knock came again, louder this time. "Save some for later," he suggested hopefully, finally leaving the appealing sight of his love’s skin adorned with creamy chocolate and silver nipple rings.

Spike smirked. "Like you needed ta tell me that," he muttered, "Got a whole other tin, don’t I?"

* * * * *

As parties went, Harris frowned to himself, this one was an abysmal failure. The tension between his best friend and Trevor was almost visible in the air, just as it had been the last time he’d been to their place, although it was worse now. He looked pleadingly at Spike, hoping the vampire could think of something to lighten the mood.

"Well… how about some music, mates? ‘s not much of a party without it, yah?" Lame, yes, but at least then there’d be something filling the silence other than his beloved’s limping attempts at dragging conversation from the two men.

He turned on the radio and frowned. His Xan had been fiddling with the settings again.
"Wait! I love this song!" Harris smiled playfully. "And since I’m the birthday boy, you have to leave it on."

He stuck his tongue out teasingly at his Claimed, then rolled his eyes. "Joan bloody Armatradin’. Kill me now."

It wasn’t until the words began that Elliot gasped, staring wide-eyed at Trevor as he recognized the song. "Damn it…" he whispered, blushing red before going pale, pale white. "Fuck…"

// I’m not the sort of person who falls in and quickly out of love
But to you I gave my affection, right from the start.
I have a lover who loves me, how could I break such a heart
But still you get my attention.
Why do you come here when you know I’ve got troubles enough
Why do you call me when you I can’t answer the phone
Make me love when I don’t want to
And make someone else some kind of an unknowing fool
You make me stay when I should not
Are you so strong or is all the weakness in me…
Why do you come here… and pretend to be just passing by
When I need to see you… I need to hold you…
Tightly .//

It wasn’t until he saw the look on Elliot’s face that Trevor finally got it. If crashed over him, through him, leaving him speechless with fury and… disappointment. He tried to speak, to move, but neither voice nor body were cooperating, leaving him staring pained venom at the man he truly did love.

// Feeling guilty, worried, waking from tormented sleep…
This old love has me bound but the new love cuts deep.
If I choose now, I’ll lose out… one of you has to fall
And I need you… and you…
Why do you come here when you know I’ve got troubles enough
Why do you call me when you I can’t answer the phone
Make me love when I don’t want to
And make someone else some kind of an unknowing fool
You make me stay when I should not
Are you so strong or is all the weakness in me…
Why do you come here… and pretend to be just passing by
When I need to see you… I need to hold you…

Harris’s mouth was hanging open. That… they… ELLIOT…? No. He couldn’t believe it. Not Elliot. Elliot would NEVER… except his friend looked incredibly guilty and he wouldn’t if he hadn’t… but he couldn’t have… could he?

And that explained a lot, Spike thought. Especially the stench of uncertainty that had been hanging around the young couple of late. He’d taken to airing the place out every time the blokes stopped by, the smell tended to linger so much.

"Right, then," he said, turning the stereo off, "Music’s vastly overrated. We could play cards. Poker, mates?"

"You… bastard…" Trevor finally managed, his voice barely a whisper though it somehow echoed in the otherwise silent room. "You Gods. Damned. Bastard. I… I knew there was… there was something… wrong but I never… you… FUCK!" he ended on a scream. His clenched fists itched to pummel his lover but… he screamed again, wordless sounds filling the air as he nearly exploded from his seat, one hand grabbing his jacket as he stormed out of the apartment and headed down the stairs at dead run.

He didn’t know where he was going but he couldn’t bear to even LOOK at Elliot right then. Not without bashing his cheating, lying face in anyway, and… as much as the other man had hurt him, Trevor suspected that hurting him back would just be more painful still.

* * * * *

"I… I didn’t…"

"Didn’t what, you git? Just get caught out? Because I can guarantee you did. Think Trevor gets what’s goin’ on just fine," Spike growled, disgusted with the man. "Could smell you blokes all off balance but I didn’t think you were stupid enough ta be spreadin’ yourself for whomever without at least tellin’ your Trev you were movin’ on!"

"I didn’t!" Elliot’s voice was stronger now, though he was still that deathly shade of white. "I… I swear, guys. I didn’t… haven’t been with… anyone. Not since I met Trev, and…"

The vampire snorted. "Yah? Then you missed your callin’ in life. Should have been a soddin’ actor. That performance would have gotten you a bleedin’ Oscar!"

Harris frowned even though he agreed with his love. "You, uh… you did look WAY guilty, buddy," he said softly as he moved to the plush chair Elliot was sitting in and perched on the wide, padded arm, letting his friend lean hard against him. "Okay," he said after a moment, "If you’ve been… not doing that… then what…?"

Elliot frowned, the first of many tears starting in his eyes. "I… shit, Harris. It’s complicated."

" ‘s not. You either shagged some other bloke or ten or you didn’t. Nothin’ complicated about that."

"Spike," Harris said softly, looking at the door.

The vampire frowned. "Soon enough, luv. He’s not goin’ far. Besides, it’s goin’ ta take him a good five minutes ta get ta th’ lobby usin’ th’ stairs like that. Need ta know what ta tell th’ wanker when I catch up ta him. So you’d better start talkin’, git," he added, giving Elliot’s arm a hard poke.

"Hey!" he rubbed his arm, his eyes leaking more slow tears. "Shit. I… kissed someone, okay? When I was in DC to sign those papers. And I… I didn’t think it would matter so much but it does because I can’t… shit, I didn’t tell Trev and now it’s like…"

"Bloody fuckin’ hell," Spike growled, frustrated and annoyed, "Alla this SHIT is because you snogged some bloke months ago? I was right. You ARE a git." Then he sniffed the air and frowned. "An’ you’re not tellin’ us somethin’." He glared.

"Come on, El. Cuz so far? Not so bad." Harris tried for cheeky but ended up sounding worried.

"I… shit. It… it was Robert, okay? And the… kiss… kind of lasted a really long time and I… well, we both… and then I left to change because… hello, not flying back here with a wet spot on my pants, so…"

The vampire and his Claimed exchanged one long look then Spike turned away and grabbed his coat. "Look after Elliot, luv. I’m off ta find th’ OTHER git. See you soon, ‘ey?"

Harris nodded, even as he rubbed his hand comfortingly up and down his friend’s back. "Yeah… love you, babe."

"Same here, pet…" And with that, Spike was gone, taking the stairs as well.

Part Four

It really hadn’t taken long to find Trevor, although the vampire had been surprised that the man had made it down the stairs and out of the building so quickly. Still, he’d learned the smell of the bloke’s anguish in the stairwell so he simply followed it a block or so until it disappeared inside a small bar.

He stepped inside himself, scanning the room until he saw the young man in a booth at the back. Spike stopped at the bar, paying a ridiculous amount for a full bottle of Jack and a shot glass before going to join him.

"Guess you’re feelin’ pretty bad, mate," he said, filling the young man’s glass and pouring himself a shot.

Trevor growled. "Ya think, Spike? What was the first clue?"

Spike shrugged, watching the brunette slam back the liquor. "Runnin’ away from your lover, ta start. That an’ th’ fact that you’re sittin’ alone in a bar, or were ‘til I got here. ‘s not really th’ kind of thing you usually do these days, is it?"

"Lover. Hah." Trevor laughed bitterly. "If he loved me he wouldn’t have…" he filled his glass again, drinking deep. "So let’s not call him that, if you don’t mind. My lying cheating deceitful fucking bastard of a boyfriend is more like it."

One dark brow rose and Spike appropriated the bottle for a moment. " ‘s a bit of a long moniker for conversation, mate. Think I’ll go with callin’ him Elliot. An’ by th’ way, he hasn’t been shaggin’ anyone else."

The brunette snarled. "Sure he hasn’t. Because he’s a monk now, right? Because there for damned sure hasn’t been any… shagging… going on at our place lately."

"Bloody hell. Not somethin’ I really wanted ta know, you git. Can’t tell you th’ why of it, in any case. Point is…" Spike poured himself another shot, tossing it back smoothly. "You know I can smell a lie an’ th’ bloke wasn’t lyin’ when he said he hasn’t been runnin’ around on you, Trev."

"Yeah? Then what the hell was all THAT about?" he demanded, gesturing vaguely in what was supposed to be the direction of Spike and Harris’s place. "I know what guilt looks like, Spike, and he was fucking GUILTY as SHIT!"

And here came the tough part, Spike told himself. He wasn’t sure whether Trevor would be relieved or upset that his lover had kissed Robert, but he somehow doubted the kiss itself would be the problem. No, it was more likely to be the who rather than the what.

And when the bloody fuck had he ended up being sodding Cyrano? Or dear bloody Abby, for that matter?

"Right," the vampire said after a moment. "Th’ short version. Your bloke got inta a clench with another bloke when he was in DC. Snogged him good an’ proper. So good he an’ th’ bloke came in their pants. An’ he didn’t tell you when he got back. I’m guessin’ it’s been eatin’ at him ever since, yah?"

Trevor blinked and lifted his glass then put it down without drinking. "Wait. Elliot’s been acting like… that… because he kissed some guy?" His brow furrowed deeply and he shook his head. "Not that I’m really okay with him just… kissing someone, but… why the fuck wouldn’t he just tell me that? It… we could have handled that. A lot better than we’ve been doing lately." He sighed and stared at the amber liquid in the bottle. "Shit, Spike… I… fuck, I love him and…"

Spike frowned and tried to find a delicate way of putting it. "It was young Bobby," he finally said bluntly. "That’s th’ bloke he was snoggin’."

And just like that, Trevor was slamming back the liquor in his glass. "Robert. Fucking Robert! I should have known!"

"Yes," came a firm, forceful voice, the strong Australian accent flowing melodically, "You should have."

Brown and blue eyes turned, meeting the violet gaze of the woman neither of them had noticed approaching.

"You." Trevor said slowly, taking in the tall, lean form wrapped in black leather and emerald green silk.

The woman nodded, the long, high ponytail of shiny black hair bobbing slightly with the motion. "Yes. Me. And you, Trevor, are an idiot."

Spike stared at the woman, then cocked his head at Trevor. "Friend of yours, mate?"

The young man sighed softly. "Something like that." He sighed again and looked back to the woman. "This is Spike. Harris’s claimed. Spike, meet Hypatia Lee. My… sister."

The woman chuckled and shook her head. "I suppose that’s one way of putting it. And you’re still an idiot." She nodded sharply and sat down, cavalierly pushing Spike further along the bench of the booth. "Do you have any idea of what you’ve done, Trevor? The Powers are NOT pleased."

* * * * *

"So, wait," Harris interrupted yet again, "You’re telling me that you and Trev haven’t… anything in like a month and a half? Christ, El, no WONDER he left!"

Elliot frowned as he wadded another tissue up beside the rest. "I know, I know… but it’s… fuck. Look, I just felt so bad, so guilty, and… and I still can’t stop THINKING about him. About Robert and… what if I… that is, while Trev and I were… what if I called him Robert instead? I…" He gave Harris a sheepish grin. "I fucked up, didn’t I?"

The brunette shook his head, returning the smile. "Buddy… you passed ‘fucked up’ a few exits back. You’re in completely uncharted areas of ‘screwed the pooch to the wall then spackled him in’."

Elliot sighed. "Yeah… I know. I… God, Harris, what if he can’t forgive me?"

And he honestly didn’t know what to say to that, so Harris just hugged his friend quickly and got him another drink. At least the tears were done for now, and that was a good thing.

* * * * *

Well, well, and this was getting interesting. He was still trying to figure out how Trevor could have a sister, especially with what he knew of the man’s origins. The fact that the two looked and smelled nothing alike only added to the question although it was obvious the Powers the two talked about were somehow involved.

"Whatever else you two are, you definitely ACT like siblings," Spike said with a smirk. He pitched his voice high, then low, imitating their exchange. "Idiot." High. "Bitch." Low. "Moron." High. "Interfering busybody." Low. "Imbecile." High. "Know it all." Low. He arched an amused brow and shook his head sadly. "It’s like you’re in grade school."

Trevor flushed slightly. "Well, we kind of are, Spike. I mean we’ve been human for… what, Hy? Six years?"

The young woman shrugged. "About that, yes. But that’s no excuse for you to ignore every sign, every single indication of what you were supposed to be doing. Being human doesn’t mean you can forget what we were, Trevor. What we still ARE, to some extent! And as you SEE what the Powers allow you to, I’d thought you would have known that."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Your sister’s a bloody harpy, mate," he said with another smirk. "You goin’ ta let her talk ta you that way?"

The young man shrugged. "Sisters," he said as though that explained anything.

"Yah, whatever, mate. I’m getting’ another bottle. You two seem ta be able ta drink almost as much as a vampire." He winked and climbed over Hypatia’s lap then sauntered to the bar.

"How much have you told him?" the woman demanded, giving Trevor a hard stare. "He could be dangerous if he…"

"Don’t worry, Hypatia," Trevor snapped, "He only knows as much as he needs to. None of them know everything, okay? So calm down and stop being such a bitch!"

She snorted softly, flicking a finger at him and grinning when he jumped. "I haven’t even started being a bitch, and you know it. Believe me, I’d like to be. It wasn’t MY idea to travel halfway around the Earth to slap some sense into you, you know. And as for William and the others... I'm more concerned that you may not have told them enough. But either way, here I am and what the FUCK were you thinking?"

"About that. I thought we weren’t supposed to be…"

"Not exactly. We can’t have too MANY of us in the same place. Two or three or so isn’t against the rules."

"Well that’s a relief," Trevor admitted with a smile. "Wait. You said three. Who?"

Violet eyes closed as Hypatia focused. When they opened again they were troubled and a good bit darker than they’d been. "Iggy, I think. Or Ricardo. I… can’t be sure."

"How can you not be sure?" the man demanded. "It’s… what you DO. You KNOW things!"

"Things, yes! But not EVERYTHING! Damn it, Trevor, I only KNOW what I’m permitted to, just as what you SEE is what you’re shown!"

"Bloody hell," Spike frowned, returning to the table, "I leave you two alone for a minute an’ you’re at each others’ throats. Do I need ta separate you?" He arched an amused brow.

"Too late," Hypatia said almost silently as she stood to let the blond sit again. She nodded at him quickly. "I’m sure I’ll be running into you again… William. Trevor," she added, giving him an annoyed stare, "Don’t screw this up. You know what’ll happen if… either of them comes here. It’s in their natures. I’ll find you soon."

The vampire blinked as the woman strolled away from the table and out into the night.
"Interestin’ family you’ve got there, Trev."

Trevor laughed softly and rolled his eyes. "You have NO idea."

"Wonderin’ somethin’, though. How’d she know my other name… an’ why th’ bloody fuck is she so worried about whoever’s comin’ here?"

"Is THAT all. She’s my sister, Spike. She knows who I watch for the council."

Spike nodded and poured another drink. "An’ th’ other?"

"Just a couple guys we know. Bad news, the both of them. Nothing to worry about, though. They probably won’t even come." Trevor added, even while hoping he was telling the truth about that.

* * * * *

The vampire sighed as he flopped on the couch once the two humans headed off, hopefully to shag each other smart again because they'd surely gotten bloody stupid during their 'drought'. "So much for a happy bloody birthday, 'ey pet?"

Harris chuckled at the small pout on his love's face. "I don't know, babe," he murmured, throwing himself down beside his favorite blond and resting his head on one denim-covered thigh. "At least they're talking now, and you know Elliot. Talking will lead to sorry's, will lead to tears, will lead to banging away until they just about bring their building down."

He grinned, his eye twinkling as he pushed the strap of his eye patch up over the crown of his head, letting the item fall beside the couch. "So in that sense, it's been a happy birthday. My best friend and his lover are working things out. It's good." He nodded, rubbing his cheek against Spike's leg. "I like Trev. I think they're good for each other. So yeah..."

Spike snorted, brushing the ever-lengthening brown hair back off the high, smooth forehead slowly. "Not really th' kind of prezzie I had in mind givin' ta you, though..."

That brown eye sparkled more as Harris's brows waggled playfully. "Mmmm... it's not midnight yet. Still time for prezzies."

The blond laughed, his bright blue eyes raking over the familiar and beloved form spread out on the couch. His fingers tightened in the soft dark hair, fisting against the warm, tight scalp of his Claimed as his free hand slid down the toned, cotton-sheathed torso then up under the fabric to twist teasingly at first one silver ring, then the other. " 's that so, beloved... got somethin' in mind, yah?"

His back arched against the couch beneath him, even as he turned his head a bit more and dug his teeth into the covered thigh lightly, muffling his own groan. "Jesus fuck..."

Spike smirked and repeated the slow twist again. "Still got that spare tub of frostin'... might have ta have me a bit of a treat..."

"Hey!" Harris lifted his head quickly, "It's MY birthday! I'M the one who gets the treats!"

It took less than a moment to slip out from under his beloved's head and toss the human over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. "Trust me, pet... you'll be gettin' a treat, alright," the vampire purred, swatting his love's ass as he hauled him to the kitchen for the aforementioned icing, then to their bedroom where he tossed the younger man onto the bed and proceeded to strip them both.

Part Five

"Gods, babe..." Harris couldn't move, and though part of that was due to the intensity of the sensations racing through him, most of his immobility could be traced directly to the silk ropes holding him spread-eagled across their bed.

His eye tracked Spike's movements desperately, watching as the vampire's tongue traced each finger-painted smear of chocolate then lapped in slow, smooth sweeps, clearing the bits of sugar-laden substance from his skin. "Spike... please..." He couldn't move more than a few inches; not even enough to shift his seeping cock closer to the teasing mouth.

Spike smirked. "You know," he said, pulling his lips away from soft, salty-sweet skin, "Didn't think anythin' could taste better than you, luv... but choccy-covered you 's a very close second." He purred at the loud yelp he pulled from his Claimed when he wrapped the tip of his tongue around one of the rings and tugged, small globules of chocolate clinging to his lips.

"You taste so good, precious... can't even begin ta tell you..." His lips slowly traveled the expanse to the other silver-adorned bud, repeating the action slowly as his cock rubbed slightly against his human's lightly-haired thigh. "Want ta dip you in chocolate, pet... and lick you clean... take hours, it would, but... well worth th' time spent..."

Harris groaned low and deep, his eye squeezing shut at the idea of hours like this. "Gods... babe... fuck, babe... it'd kill me, but... fuck, that's how I... want to... go..." His hips rocked the small bit he could manage, hating the ropes just as much as he loved them. "SHIT!" he grunted loudly, gasping as one icing-coated finger probed at his crack, "SPIKE!"

The vampire chuckled, letting his lips finally slide down to trace the line of frosting in the coarse brown hairs just below his human's navel. His finger pressed slowly around the tight pucker, not piercing it yet, just... playing. "That'd be me, luv," he murmured wickedly. "Spike. An' don't worry, Xan... goin' ta be spikin' you soon enough... can't wait much longer..."

He was in hell, Harris finally realized. He couldn't move, could barely even speak, and he was being tormented by a demon. And okay, his demon had a soul. Big deal. "Spike, please," he almost whined, "Please...?" His cock dribbled a bit more, adding to the small pool of pre-cum that had formed just below the spot his lover's lips had paused at. "Please...!"

And who was he to deny his beloved? Spike thought with a grin. His finger finally stopped teasing, slipping slowly, deeply into the tight, hot ring of muscle. His mouth moved slightly, the tip of his tongue dipping into that little puddle of perfection. He moaned softly as the flavor burst over him as though for the first time. "B-bloody hell, pet... goin' ta eat you all up, luv... take every single drop... swallow you down... drink you in... then drink you in again..."

His cheek rubbed slowly against the thick, seeping shaft as he lapped up the dribbles from skin then went in search of more, his lips wrapping fully around the plum-like head, his tongue pressing rhythmically against the tiny slit as a second finger joined the first in his Claimed's hole, earning him another lusty groan.

Harris could feel his heart beating in his cock, he was sure... steady, hard, pounding faster with every slow inch his vamp took into that perfectly cool, wet mouth. The fingers pumping tesingly within him were just another sensation adding to the whole. Until those fingers twisted, flicking that little gland and he found himself gasping as he tried to thrust himself fully into his claimed's throat. "S-s-sp..."

'Want, need, taste, feel, love, mine, yours, always mine, always yours, need you luv, luv you pet...' Full, cool lips stretched wide around the beloved shaft, moving faster, slamming to the base then sucking up hard. His fingers rubbed that nub again, even as he let blunt teeth scrape over tender flesh on the next pass, purring as his actions were rewarded by more of that perfect taste as his human cried out and spilled himself wildly across his needy tongue.

"Mnnnghhhhhhh-thhhhnnnnnntttttt...." he had no idea of what that meant, but he didn't really care. It was all he could manage with the fingers in his ass and the incredible sensation of Spike's mouth, throat, tongue. His back arched as much as it could and Harris screamed loudly, his cock fully encased as it exploded long and hard into the welcoming suck and swallow.

The blond sucked on, slower now as the rapid spurts of thick, rich cum decreased. He could feel his Xan's body shuddering beneath him, feel him gasping for breath, and... that was just what he wanted, after all. His smile was wicked when he finally released the softening shaft from his mouth and slid down the bed, untying his love's ankles. It wouldn't be the same without those strong legs wrapped around him, after all.

A mere moment or two to slick himself up one-handed, then... he pulled his fingers from that amazing opening and placed his ready tip against the stretched bud. "Goin' ta have me my other treat now, luv... an' give you yours..."

Harris moaned, not even noticing that his legs obeyed when he tried to raise his knees wide for his claimed. "Spike... please, babe... please, I... need..."

"Hush... hush, luv... goin' ta give you just what you need, aren't I, pet...?" He leaned forward, one hand resting hard against the mattress beneath one of his Xander's bound arms while the other hand slipped under the crook of one tanned, solid knee. He pressed slowly, deeply against his beloved, groaning as the deep pink tip of him finally pushed through and into the perfect heat of his Claimed's ass. "B-bloody... fuckin'... hell..."

"Unnngh... yesssss..." Harris grunted loudly, finally realizing that he had some freedom of movement. He rocked himself against the bed, deliberately driving himself further onto the long, thick cock that wasn't deep enough fast enough. "Babe... fuck, babe... I need... please!"

And suddenly Spike found himself buried almost balls-deep in his Claimed's perfect ass. Not that he minded, but... "Luv... Xan..." he whispered, holding himself still regardless of the increasingly frantic movements beneath him. "Xan... pet... need ta... bloody hell, luv... let me just... want ta make this last, yah?"

He leaned down, pressing a soft, slow kiss to his beloved's pec, his tongue leaving a small damp mark on the tanned flesh. " 's your birthday, precious... want ta take my time celebratin' th' anniversary of th' day you came inta creation an'..." he groaned quietly as the perfect sheath around him flexed. "Let me, pet... let me worship you, yah...?"

"J-j-jesus... fuck..." he finally let himself relax and stop trying to urge Spike on. "Babe," he whispered, looking down to see the incredible sight of the sleek, toned blond covering his body with love in his eyes. It was something he'd never get tired of seeing, he knew; not even if he lived for a hundred years.

"Please, Xan... need ta just... make luv ta you this time, 'ey?" he bit his lip, eyes narrowing against the urge to move before his love agreed.

Harris swallowed hard and nodded. "O-okay... c-can I..." he blushed, "I w-want to... t-touch you, babe..."

It took less than a second for Spike to pull himself from his lover and release his hands, then maybe another second to position himself again and begin the long, slow slide to home.

" 's that better, luv...?' Spike groaned, feeling those strong, warm arms wrapping around him and stroking his skin wantonly. "B-bloody..."

"Fuck, babe..." Harris sighed happily, thrilled to have his claimed any way possible as long as he could hold him tight and close, feel his skin, the warming coolness. "Make love to me, Spike... until I can't walk, okay?"

It was an exercise in control for the demon who wanted nothing more than to slam hard and rough and just... remind the human of whose he was. This time, however, the soul and the remnants of Spike's human-self over-ruled it.

The vampire's lips rested gently on his Xan's collarbone, even as he slid slowly, fully, gently in and out of his beloved's grasping hole, building a slow, fierce fire within them both, and when they came, it was with the knowledge that it wasn't enough, it would never be enough...

Theirs was a hunger that would never be sated. It would grow and strengthen over the years they had left and never be satisfied... and that was as it should be.

Part Six

Author's Note: Warning: Light non-con this chapter... angst and such. But trust me when I say it's necessary for the overall fic.

"It’s not necessary, Lily," Robert said softly, even as his hand stroked slowly over the smooth curves of painted metal. "It’s… too much."

"Nonsense, dear boy. If you’re going to represent my interests, those whom you call upon must recognize that I VALUE you and your opinions. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to believe that if you arrive in some…" she shrugged, not sure of what the current slang was.

The young man smiled and shook his head before giving her a hug. "It’s beautiful. It just might be a bit… much."

Lily smiled again, shaking her head. "I’d say it’s exactly enough. Besides, it’s my prerogative to spoil you. It’s a grandmother’s right."

All he could do was laugh and kiss her cheek. "All right, Lily. I’ll stop arguing." His eyes trailed back to the car, visually caressing the sleek vehicle. "Care to go for a spin?"

The excitement in Robert’s eyes was the real reason for the BMW convertible, but she wouldn’t tell him that. Instead she simply handed him the keys and shook her head. "When you get back, dear. It’s a long drive to Tulsa and I don’t want you hurrying. You’ve only had your American driving permit for a few weeks."

Robert smiled and bent down, picking up his bag. "Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. It’s the left side I drive on, right?"

"Scamp! Enough teasing. Drive safely and I’ll expect you to call when you reach your hotel."

* * * * *

There was something distinctly American about cruising down the road through long stretches of countryside with the top down, wind in his hair, music blaring from the radio. It wasn’t the sort of thing people did in England, as a rule. Then again, there wasn’t as much road to cruise so perhaps that explained it.

He checked the GPS system, hoping he was operating it correctly and decided to stop at the next rest area for a bit. His legs could use a bit of a stretch after nearly four hours of driving. And coffee wouldn’t be a bad idea either, he realized as he saw the sign beside the road announcing a Starbuck’s among other things at the next exit. He’d better stop, he figured. He still had a good fourteen hours of driving to go.

* * * * *

Of all the things Robert had been surprised by since coming to the United States, being propositioned in a public restroom had to top the list. It was flattering, of course, because the other young man had been quite attractive, but… somehow the idea hadn’t been appealing. Possibly because of the location, but equally likely was the fact that… he hadn’t actually engaged in that sort of thing since the unpleasant encounter with Paul.
It had taken him a while to figure out what he wanted, and whatever it was that he and the Washingtonian had been doing just… wasn’t it. There had to be something more, and he knew it.

A small part of him still cherished the notion of Elliot and Trevor although he’d accepted the reality that they weren’t for him. Hell, Elliot hadn’t even bothered to call him after they’d… run into each other over three months earlier. Then again, he hadn’t called the older man and his number had been programmed into his phone for ages.

His lips curled into a small grin as he remembered the long, happy minutes he’d spent pressed against the other blond. Elliot had been forward, masterful… exciting and excited. Very excited, he recalled. Just as much so as he’d been, himself. He’d almost thought… hoped… that maybe… but no.

Still, Elliot and Trevor weren’t the only fish in the proverbial sea, he comforted himself as he returned to the motorway… highway, as they called it. They were just a difficult standard to match, both of them so deliciously handsome and intriguing. Not many men around who were single and swung his way who could possibly measure up to his ideals.

That didn’t mean it was impossible, of course. He just needed to… be patient. And continue his regular relationship with his left hand. "Bloody hell."

* * * * *

He’d called Lily almost as soon as he’d entered his room, then again after his afternoon meeting. It had gone well. The manager of the building he’d been checking had obviously been keeping up with repairs and such… for once. Unlike the last few places he’d examined.

He and Lily had chatted about that and how much he loved the car for a few minutes before ending the call and Robert suddenly found himself at loose ends.
There he was in a city he didn’t know, where he knew nobody at all, and… it was a first for him.
"So," he asked his image in the large mirror, "What’s a single, reasonably good-looking chap to do with himself?"

"What’s that? Find somewhere to go? Yes, Robert, I think you’re right."

He laughed at himself before opening his bag and selecting clothes that didn’t exactly scream businessman, although they were in rather short supply. He hadn’t expected to have much leisure time, after all, and now here he was with a profusion of said time on his hands. His ‘visits’ usually took more than one day, after all.

* * * * *

It was a man at the front desk who looked to be in his mid-thirties that was able to direct Robert to an appropriate club. Apparently he’d set off the clerk’s gaydar.

He didn’t mind, of course, because the club was a nice one. A bit heavy on the strobe lights for his tastes, but enjoyable in all other respects. And the drinks were strong, though not cheap.

He danced for a while, laughing every time someone complimented him on his accent as though he’d selected in deliberately. He laughed a lot.

He also drank a bit, oblivious to the two sets of eyes watching him from the corner of the large room.

* * * * *

"I like that one, Farrell," the taller of the two murmured below the music, one hand stroking the bulge in his pants, "And he’s drinking a real drink. It won’t change color and he won’t taste a thing."

The shorter, darker one rolled his eyes. "Gods, Ricky. You’re such a fag."

"Hey, did I make fun of you when you wanted that girl last night? No. Did I try to keep you from dragging me to a straight club? No. So shut the fuck up and be a little supportive here."

The shorter man’s eyes rolled again and he sighed. "Fine. Go for it. I’ll keep watch when you’re ready."

"You do that," Ricky said softly, slipping skillfully through the crowd to the young blond man’s side.

* * * * *

Robert arched a brow as the tall man stopped beside him. His eyes roamed down the long form, then back up, examining the front of his pants without seeming to. Nice build, not too bulky… good thighs, solid waist… toned abs and pecs, judging from the tight t-shirt… nice wide mouth, soft looking lips, sharp nose and… oh, my.

"You have lovely eyes," Robert shouted in order to be heard. It was true, too. The man’s eyes were a deep, stormy grey, a darker ring around the outer edges, framed by thick, dark lashes under light brown eyebrows and hair. "I’m Robert…"

"Ricky," the man called back. "You’re English, huh? Cool. I like England. The London theater scene is killer!" He let his own gaze wander Robert’s body slowly. "So… can I buy you a drink… Robert?"

He cocked his head, giving Ricky a slow grin. “Wouldn‘t mind a bit," he said, finishing the last of what was in his glass. "Jack and coke?"

"Gods I’m glad you didn’t ask for something fruity. One more mai-tai and I’d have screamed! Be right back."

Robert blinked, only then noticing the profusion of red, umbrella-bearing cocktails being consumed. He shook his head, chuckling softly. He had no idea of why any man, regardless of how submissive he might be, would want to drink something so… girlish. Then again, to each his own.

His eyes moved to the bar and he smiled as he watched his new friend Ricky. He suspected the bloke had some intention of seducing him but Robert wasn’t going to let that happen. He was looking for Mr. Right, after all, not Mr. Right Now.

That was why he was so surprised to find himself in a dark corner of the parking lot what seemed like a few minutes later. His eyes were bleary but he thought he was… bent over a car?

Robert groaned slightly, trying to lever himself up. It took him a few tries but he finally managed it, swaying woozily on his feet. "What the bloody… hell…"

That was when he realized his pants were around his ankles and there was… "No," he gasped, reaching down to touch the aching pucker between his legs. He breathed a small sigh of relief when his fingers found only the small amount of lubricant one might expect from a condom.

It wasn’t much, but at least whoever had left him here-his ‘friend’ Ricky, presumably-hadn’t exposed him to whatever diseases he might be carrying.

That didn’t change the fact that the other man had apparently drugged him and…
His mind rebelled at the word as he struggled to pull himself together, buttoning and zipping frantically. He stumbled to his car on the other side of the lot, stopping only once to vomit before he arrived. He flung himself into the driver’s seat, hissing loudly as his rear hit the leather. "Bloody FUCK…!"

* * * * *

It was a difficult drive back to his hotel, and even more difficult to walk across the lobby with something approaching his usual gait. Robert forced himself not to cry as he entered his room and stripped, throwing his clothes in the trash can. He’d never wear them again, he knew.

He was still huddled on the floor of the tub four hours later, painfully hot water pounding his body. He was fairly sure he’d never feel clean again. Not for the rest of his life…

Part Seven

"You’re going to be too late," Hypatia said sharply as she stepped past Trevor and spun, glaring at him. "You wouldn’t listen and now HE’S paying the price! Gods, Trevor, I didn’t think you were so fucking selfish!"

Trevor blinked, frowning, his hand still on the doorknob of his and Elliot’s apartment. "And hello to you, too. Come in. Oh, wait… you ARE in. Now you can LEAVE."

"Have you entirely lost your mind?" she demanded, her hand on her hips as she glared dangerously at him. "You knew what would happen if you kept up this stupid jealousy! You SAW it! Fuck, Trevor, you’re… such a BASTARD!"

"What are you TALKING about?" the dark-haired man yelled back. "I haven’t SEEN anything in over a week, you crazy bitch!"

That was impossible, and Hypatia knew it. Or did she? Everything she KNEW said her brother had to have SEEN but she couldn’t deny that he looked completely baffled to see her, much less seeming to have a clue. "Fuck. Okay. I… believe you. Shit. Look, you need to get to Tulsa. Tonight. Something’s going to happen… IS happening."

Trevor didn’t know what was going on, but if Hy said he had to go to Oklahoma of all places, he was sure she was right. That didn’t mean he had to like it. "Okay. I’ll go get Elliot and we’ll…"

"NO! I don’t… look, Trev, if you don’t go RIGHT NOW you’re going to be too late and there won’t be any salvaging the situation. I… I’ll tell Elliot. He’s with William and Xander, right? YOU get to the airport. There’s no TIME!"

And for some reason, he was suddenly just as panicky as she was. "Okay, fine. But Tulsa’s a big…"

"The Doubletree. Downtown. Room 1736. And HURRY."

The young man grabbed his jacket and wallet and was out the door and in a taxi before he realized he hadn’t even asked who he was looking for or why.

* * * * *

Harris was still laughing as he answered the rapid tapping on the door. One brow arched when he saw the entirely unfamiliar woman. "Hello…"

"Hello, Xander," the woman said quickly. "It’s nice to meet you."

Harris blinked then groaned and called towards the kitchen. "Spike… did you rent me a woman again? It was funny when you did it to Willow, and the first few times here, but…"

Hypatia shook her head quickly and called out in the same direction. "William! Tell your Claimed to move! I need to see Elliot!"

She pushed her way past the tall brunette man who looked like he was trying to catch flies in his open mouth then grinned slightly. "And believe me, Xander, if I were available for rent, the last thing you’d find it is funny. Exciting, definitely. Memorable, certainly. But funny…? No." Her eyes darted around the room, finding the blond man laying on the couch. "Elliot. Hypatia Lee. Nice to meet you. You’re going to Tulsa. Now."

Elliot looked at the strange woman as though she’d lost her mind. "Okay… and why would I do that?"

The woman sighed and spoke as though to a small child. "Because, Elliot, if you don’t more things will be ruined than you know, starting with your Robert." She nodded when the man suddenly sat bolt upright. "Trevor is already on the way. It would be best if you arrived shortly thereafter. I’m afraid you’re both going to be too late to keep the boy from being damaged but having you there will help the healing process, assuming my brother can manage to keep himself from being a raging asshole... which is doubtful," she admitted with a frown.

"Wha’…" Elliot’s mind was reeling even as his heart began pounding madly. "What happened to Robert? Damn it, tell me!"

She did, quickly adding "It hasn’t happened yet, exactly… not completely. But… it will have by the time you leave. Just… go! Fuck, you men are more chatty than most of the girls I know!"

"Here, mate," Spike said, handing Elliot a credit card. "Do what you need ta."

"Th-thanks, Will," Elliot said, looking lost. "I… clothes… plane! I don’t…"

"Worry about it later, El," Harris insisted. "Buy whatever you need. Just… get where you need to be."

"I… yeah." The blond man paused at the door, looking back quickly. "Just one… Hippopsha? Why did you send Trevor? He doesn’t much like Robert…"

The woman snorted softly. "It’s Hypatia. Say it with me. Hi-PAY-she-uh. Not so difficult. And you’ll see. Now hurry!" she ordered, telling him the hotel information as well.

* * * * *

"Right, then," Spike growled a minute or ten later as he hung up the phone. He’d called ahead and paid for a ticket for Elliot’s flight, then called the bloke’s cell and told him the particulars. All they could do now was wait. "Right, then," he said again, "Got a question for you."

The woman sighed, having done all she could for the moment. "More than one, I’m guessing. Do you mind if I sit down? I’ve been a bit on edge."

Harris shook his head and swallowed his own questions, choosing instead to go into the kitchen for three beers. He returned swiftly, handing one to the black-haired woman and one to his claimed, kissing the latter softly before collapsing at one end of the couch with his own bottle.

Hypatia smiled a real smile for the first time. "Thank you, Xander. I can use this." She took a long swallow, waiting for the inevitable questions to emerge.

* * * * *

"Because I KNOW things," Hypatia said again a good hour later. "Not things like… where you left your keys or anything, but…"

"But things like knowin’ young Bobby’s goin’ ta be raped, ‘ey? Soddin’ useless ta know about it if you can’t stop it!"

"That’s the problem! I shouldn’t have HAD to stop it, or even interfere! Trevor was supposed to SEE it and make sure it didn’t happen! But he didn’t and I don’t KNOW why! The POWERS don’t know why!" She almost wanted to cry, even though she didn’t do that sort of thing. "But time went on and I kept waiting to KNOW Trev was on his way and he didn’t leave, and… shit, I thought he was jealous and ignoring the situation but he honestly didn’t SEE!"

Harris nodded. "I can see how you might believe Trev wouldn’t want to help Robert. Hell, he and Elliot almost split up because of him. But he would never let something like that happen to anyone. Not even the guy he hates right now."

Spike snorted and shook his head. "Luv… th’ last thing Trevor feels about th’ boy is HATE. Yah, he’s jealous over his El, but… think it’s also bein’ jealous that Bobby wants El instead of HIM."

"Oh, come on, babe! Trevor wants Robert? Please. Can you believe this guy?" he asked Hypatia, hitching his thumb towards his vampire with a grin.

"No," she said slowly. "It’s not common for a vampire, even one with a soul, to be so perceptive."

"There, see, babe…? Oh." Harris blinked. "Oh… but why…?"

The woman shook her head. "Because as I’ve said repeatedly, my brother is an idiot."

"An’ that leads me ta my next question, pet," the vampire said, cocking his head at the woman.

"Know what Trev is. Not sure how you can be his sister. You don’t even smell related, much less that closely. Care ta fill us in?"

Another sigh. "Well, it’s… complicated."

"Yah, pet… everythin’ is with you lot."

"Okay… okay. I suppose you have a right to know, and I KNOW Trevor hasn’t told you all of it." And somehow, even knowing that it might come back and bite her in the ass, she… wanted to tell the two men everything. Or as close to everything as she could.

She sat back against the couch and sipped her beer again as she ordered her thoughts and began to speak.

"I don’t know exactly where Trevor began with the story," Hypatia said slowly, "So I’ll start at the beginning. But first I need to ask you a question, William. Or Spike if you prefer."

The vampire rolled his eyes. "Enough stallin’. Ask an’ get on with it. An’ Spike’s fine." He nodded.

"All right. Spike. And I’m not stalling. I said I’d tell you and I will. In MY way." The woman arched one slender brow, smiling when the blond sighed. "I’d like you to ask your demon something. Ask it if it… recognizes me. Not this human shell, but that which resides within."

His eyes rolled again, but he did as she‘d said, although it wasn’t really ‘asking’ as such because his demon and soul weren’t precisely separate. It was more like… examining.

The look on Spike’s face when he found the answer was priceless, Hypatia thought with a small grin. "It does, doesn’t it?"

"Bloody. Hell."

"What’s going on, guys?" Harris slipped in, somehow feeling like his former donut-getting and somewhat useless self. "I… fuck." He sighed and tried to relax when his claimed squeezed his fingers.

"I’m sorry… Harris. I was making a point to Wi… Spike. The demon within him… well, it knows what I was. It can… taste it, I suppose, regardless of what I’ve become. And the demon will tell you if I lie, William. More than any scent ever could."

The blond frowned but nodded slowly. Didn’t mean he wasn’t still going to check the air, but… she was right. His evil half would probably know. Still, he had another question.

"If my demon knows you, pet… why doesn’t my soul? Seems it should recognize anythin’ th’ rest of me does…?"

Hypatia sighed and finished her beer, setting the bottle gently on the floor. "Because, Spike… your soul is human. Human souls didn’t exist when my kind were… brought into creation. They have no referent."

She almost smiled at the shocked silence that one statement bought her. She did smile when Harris, as he preferred to be called, got up and came back with a third beer for each of them, his eye wide and confused.

"Humans hadn’t even begun to swing in trees when we were… born," she added.

Part Eight

Trevor honestly didn’t care who it was banging on the door of the hotel room. Anyone at all would be better than him, seeing as he hadn’t been able to do ANYTHING right so far.

Thank the Powers the door wasn’t fully latched when he’d gotten there, though, or he never would have gotten in himself.

He almost wished he hadn’t.

He’d gotten there and lucked out, although he figured it was more likely the Powers at work, when a young couple had slipped out the back door, giving him access to the secured building without having to pass the front desk. All the clerks would have done was slow him down while they tried to call room 1736… if they’d even tried, what with Trevor not knowing whose room it was or anything else, for that matter.

As it had gone, though, he’d slipped in through the back and managed to get onto the elevator without being seen. He’d found the room easily enough, suffering a bad moment when he knocked and got no answer repeatedly. Finally, he’d noticed the small gap between door and jamb. It hadn’t been enough to let the door swing open under his knuckles, but his shoulder was another matter.

He’d slammed himself against the wood-faced steel door and almost fallen into the room when it opened. And that was when he heard the hopeless whimpering, so soft he would have missed it if there had been any sort of noise in the room.

"Hello…?" he’d called softly, not wanting to scare whoever was making the sound, his eyes opening wide as his greeting was answered with louder whimpers and moans of ‘no, no, no…’.

The bathroom was the obvious place since there was nobody apparent in the rest of the room and Trevor had slowly approached the open door, frowning at the humidity he’d just noticed. "Hello," he’d said again, almost whispering the word as he looked through the door, only to freeze in shock. It was…

"Robert!" his voice had broken, seeing the young man all curled in on himself under steaming, pounding water.

The younger man had looked at him, horrified, then screamed although it wasn’t a particularly loud scream. "No!" Trevor had heard, "Get out, get out, get OUT…"

That had been almost an hour ago and every time since that he’d tried to even enter the bathroom, the blond had freaked out, one time badly enough to crack his head on the edge of the tub, leaving an angry-looking welt.

He had no idea of what to do. SOMETHING had obviously happened to the younger man but it was equally obvious that Robert didn’t want HIM there.

Trevor had been sighing deeply when the hard banging at the door started, and…
He rushed to it, flinging it open. "Thank Gods, I need… ELLIOT?"

Elliot stared at the confused look on his lover’s face and nodded, then kissed him hard. "Where is he?" he demanded, his eyes darting around the room quickly.

"Uh, bathroom and he… fuck, El, he screams every time I try to… and I don’t know what happened and… FUCK! El, I… I think he hates me…"

And as much as Elliot wanted to go to Robert right then, he didn’t. Instead, he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him, then wrapped his lover tight in his arms, holding him close.

"No… no, Trev… how could anyone hate you?" He kissed the brunette’s hair softly, trying to make him hear how much he meant it. "But, baby… I… you don’t know how…"

Elliot sighed and pulled away, anxiety racing through him at the thought that he was neglecting the young man in the bathroom. "He was raped," he said softly, meeting suddenly horrified brown eyes. "Your sister says he was drugged first so chances are he doesn’t remember it, but… he knows what happened."

"Oh… Oh, Gods El… I should... I mean I don't… what can I do?"

He reached into his pants pocket and handed Trevor the credit card Spike had given him earlier. "Get him some clothes. Sweats… some of those boxer-briefs. They’ll make him feel more secure. Things that will fit him closely. Then a set of looser things he can wear over them. He’ll… need to feel safe. New toothbrush, hairbrush, comb… new razor. Everything." Elliot gave a sickly smile. "The last thing he’s gonna want is to be reminded of who he was before it happened. For a while, anyway."

Trevor swallowed hard and nodded. "I… yeah. But… fuck, baby… how do we get him out of… there." His eyes were haunted and damp as he nodded towards the bathroom and the shower he could still hear running.

The blond sighed softly, kissing Trevor’s cheek apologetically. "WE don’t, love. I do."


Elliot shook his head. "Trevor, I love you. I do. But… you don’t know what he’s going through."

"I can imagine…" the brunette said softly, staring as his lover with concern.

Elliot sighed again. "No. You can’t. Nobody could EVER imagine what it’s like to be… violated. To have all control taken away. Not unless it happens, and then…" He shook his head. "Please, Trev. Just go. Get what he’ll need and… call up when you get back. This is gonna be… hard."

Trevor blinked quickly. "You…? El…"

The blond smiled shakily. "It’s a long story, baby… now do what I asked and let me get him out of there, okay? I’ve… also been on the friend of the raped end before. With my unit. I’ll handle it." He kissed Trevor again, this time on the lips and even more softly than the cheek kiss was. "Love you, Trev."

The man swallowed hard and nodded. "O… okay… I… Gods, El, I love you, too." And with a swift returned kiss, he was gone.

* * * * *

He removed everything but his underwear before moving towards the open bathroom door, his eyes sad and hopeful at the same time. The last thing Robert needed was to be shamed by his own nakedness when confronted with someone fully clothed, but he also didn’t need to be threatened with a penis.

"Robert," he murmured softly, not looking past the door jamb, "It’s Elliot."

He heard the soft mumbling of ‘no, no, no’ and shook his head, the east Texas drawl coming out as it hadn’t done in years. "Yeah, darlin’… it’s me… I’m coming in."

His eyes closed for a moment as the mumbles became whimpers but he didn’t let that stop him. He stepped over the threshold, then opened his eyes and looked at the tub.

"Darlin’," he sighed sadly, moving closer and dropping down outside the porcelain enclosure, "Please… look at me…"

The younger man’s head shook wildly and all Elliot could do was reach out to touch one shuddering shoulder, gasping at the temperature of the water. "Robert… God, darlin’… you’re gonna cook yourself!"

* * * * *

He was having a nightmare. He had to be. There was no way that any of this was happening.

Maybe he’d never gone to Tulsa, or gone to that club. And if that were true, then he wasn’t slowly par-boiling himself, and that was good.

Then again, if it was a lie, then… Elliot wasn’t there and he so BADLY wanted Elliot to be there… but if Elliot was there… then he was dirty and soiled and worthless and…

"No…" Robert whispered, shaking all over. "I’m not… don’t… don’t touch me… not your darling… never anyone’s darling again…" He shivered in the heat pouring down over him.

And that was enough, Elliot decided. ENOUGH. God knew how long the young man had been under that water. HE didn’t. Obviously for as long as Trevor had been there, though, and that was more than long enough.

He shifted, turning the knobs until the water stopped, leaving a shuddering, shivering Robert cringing against white porcelain.

"I’m going to get a robe," the older man murmured, "and wrap you in it. Then I’m going to carry you to the bed and wrap you up safe and warm in the blankets, darlin’. There’s nothing to worry about. Nothing’s gonna hurt you, okay?"

And the soft words, almost a promise, made him nod slowly, even as his body tensed.

The robe he found hanging on the hook behind the bathroom door was one of the very thick white terry cloth variety, Elliot noticed with satisfaction. It would give Robert one more layer of protection between him and the world. He was glad the boy had been drugged, though. Things would have been much worse if Robert remembered the particulars of the rape.

He moved back to the side of the tub and sat on its edge, waiting until the younger man looked in his direction-not AT him, but in his direction. "Come here, darlin’… I’m not gonna hurt you. You know that, right?"

He didn’t deserve to be treated so nicely, Robert knew, but… he wanted to be. He wanted the comfort of those arms that held out the robe and he didn’t have the right to want comfort because it was his own fault, but… he slowly stood, his knees knocking, skin bright red from the water, his head hanging as he stared at his feet. "I… I…"

"Hush, darlin’," Elliot insisted, wrapping the thick cloth around the shivering young man as he deliberately didn’t look at the exposed form. "You didn’t do anything wrong," he continued in a softer voice. "I know you didn’t." He lifted the blond, glad he’d been training again for the last few months because he didn’t want to seem all soft and out of shape; not to this man, and not even in this situation.

He carried him slowly from the bathroom then set him down on the end of the bed while he pulled the covers back before moving Robert to the center of the huge bed and pulling the top sheet, blanket and bedspread up to the young man’s chin.

"There, darlin’," he said softly, fingers stroking the hot, sweating brow, "Nothing’s gonna touch you now. Not while I’m here to watch over you, okay?"

Robert swallowed hard, still unable to look Elliot in the face. "I… I was…" and to his own horror, he burst into tears, the great, wracking sobs convulsing through his entire body. He felt the arms pulling him close over the blankets and he sobbed harder. "D-don’t deserve… never clean enough… never again…"

All Elliot could do was hold him. He had no choice. His arms had wound around Robert, keeping the covers between their skin, as soon as the younger man had started crying.

He held on, tight enough to comfort but loose enough that the other blond didn’t feel trapped. And all the while, all he could think of was… finding the person who had done this to the boy… and killing him. Slowly. Painfully. Messily.

* * * * *

It had been half an hour since he’d finished embarrassing himself, Robert thought. Thirty minutes since he’d been able to stop sobbing and wailing.

He figured he should have been asleep due to his ‘ordeal’, but… he didn’t want to sleep. He had a sneaking suspicion that his mind would provide all the details he didn’t want to know about… and sleeping might mean the man beside him would leave.

He wouldn’t blame him, Robert knew. Hell, he was surprised Elliot was still there, seeing as the man seemed to know what had happened.

Useless. Worthless. Dirty. No good.

Those were the things Robert now knew he was. If he wasn’t, then… he wouldn’t have trusted Ricky. Believed the man was a nice person. There were NO nice people, Robert realized…

And then Elliot rubbed his cheek against his hair and he re-evaluated.

There were no nice people aside from Elliot… and Lily… Spike and Harris… and Trevor.
That last name had him tensing and pulling away from the man holding him.

"What?" Elliot said softly, afraid Robert was having some sort of drug-induced flashback. "Darlin’…"

"W-what about… I…" Robert bit his lip as Elliot dragged him back into his chaste embrace. "T-trevor…"

The older blond sighed. "I sent him shopping for you, darlin’… so we could talk."

They hadn’t done much talking, Robert knew, but… he was managing to NOT freak out for the moment, so… "Talk, then."

And Elliot did, beginning at the point that would matter to Robert and his current emotional situation.

"It was a good eight years ago now," he began then stopped. "But if this is gonna make sense, darlin’, I have to tell you some things you might not know about me, so… when I was seventeen I signed up. The military. And after a few months…"

He told Robert about his past, his training, his missions… he even told him about John.

And then he told him about what had happened to him in Cleveland. He was sure it wouldn’t make Robert feel any better, but… it would hopefully help him feel less alone to know he wasn’t the only one who’d ever been… violated.

Part Nine

Maybe ten minutes into her story, Hypatia had stretched out a bit until now, almost twenty minutes later, her bare feet were propped up on the coffee table, her head tipped back into the corner formed by the back and arm of the couch. Another beer was held loosely in one hand while she turned her head to arch a brow at the handsome couple sitting just a few feet away enjoying the opposite end of the sofa.

"All right," she said, taking a sip from the bottle that had been resting against her thigh, "where was I?"

Harris arched a brow and closed his eye, reciting. "Universe born in fire and ice, blah, blah, blah… the Powers saw it was good, yada, yada, yada…"

She couldn’t help laughing. "A bit simplistic, perhaps, but essentially correct. However, you’ve missed one very important part, Xa… Harris. The Powers saw that it was both good AND bad, which is of course the natural order of things. Without darkness there can be no light; without evil, no good. So there was a balance."

"Yah, right," the vampire grumbled, pulling his Claimed tighter into his arms and resting his chin on one strong, warm shoulder. "Balance. Sounds like your Powers are a great bunch of poofs ta me."

One sculpted black brow rose over an amused violet gaze. "These would be the same Powers who made you their bitch, Spike, so you might want to reconsider your position regarding them. But no matter."

"There was balance," Hypatia continued, her eyes becoming just a bit unfocused as she spoke. "And just as those we call ‘the Powers’ were forces of good and light, so there were other Powers, those commonly known as devils since the advent of man’s ascension to thinking beings. And THOSE Powers… oh, they were jealous."

"Why shouldn’t THEY have access to everything? Why weren’t THEY in complete control?"

She shook her head. "Man has wondered for millennia what the true definition of evil is, thinking it to be some convoluted and involved thing. But it isn’t. Evil… true evil, gents… is the desire to possess anything fine and bright and beautiful… and the glory in destroying it if it can't be yours. So yes, these ‘devils’ were and are evil."

Another slow sip of her beer and she closed her eyes for a moment. "There was… ‘war’ isn’t a strong enough word to describe it. I don’t believe there IS such a word in any language you’d understand. The… battle, as inadequate as that word is too, spread across the entirety of the universe, leaving shattered suns in its wake as the dark Powers sought to reign and the lighter Powers strained to maintain the balance."

"And from this… conflict… an accord arose."

She frowned slightly, opening her eyes.

"Yeah? And?" Harris demanded, pressing himself even closer to his claimed’s tense form as he tried not to shiver at some sense of… absolute verity in the woman’s voice.

Spike purred softly, trying to soothe his beloved. "Th’ constant pausin’ isn’t makin’ us feel any better about alla this, pet," he said after a moment, "An’ I think you might feel better if you just spit it out, yah?"

A small smile appeared on Hypatia’s lips. "I believe I could use another drink, actually. Something stronger, if you have it. I’ve… never actually tried to explain any of this before so I’m a bit… flustered."

Harris sighed and reluctantly pulled away from Spike before getting to his feet and going into the kitchen. He frowned, then quickly tossed a bag of blood in the microwave for his lover, then gathered glasses, a bucket of ice and a bottle of Jack while the cycle ran and finished. A mug came from a cupboard and was filled with the contents of the pouch before all the items were set on a tray and he returned to the living room, setting it on the table close to his and Spike’s spot.

He returned to his position against his vampire then passed the man the mug and poured straight Jack Daniel’s into the tumblers, adding a few cubes to each. "There. Something stronger."

Spike chuckled and pulled his human against him again, then drank a bit of the blood before spiking it quickly. "Ta, luv," he whispered, pressing a soft, slow kiss to his beloved’s neck. "As you were sayin’, pet?"

She took a large swallow of the amber liquor, breathing deeply as it burned coldly down her throat. "Yes… an accord."

"Both sides had lost too many, although being truly immortal, no Powers were actually dead. Simply… diminished. Thus, after many thousands of cycles, many of the original Powers on BOTH sides-and there are a truly enormous number-had lost much of their strength. It was when this was realized that the most powerful remaining of the dark and lighter Powers met in secret."

She drank again, sipping this time as her voice became more contemplative than before.
"I BELIEVE that what happened was meant for the best. It certainly slowed the clashing between the factions." Her head dipped slightly in a mostly internal nod. "They met in secret, as I said, and they reached… an agreement."

"They would combine their strengths, working together for the first time since they’d been brought forth from that fire and ice, and they would create something new. Something outside of their conflict. They would distill their natures, combine them, and make a being… an entity… which existed solely as the perfect balance of light and dark. And that entity would, by holding so much of the strength of both sides, be inert. Neither good nor bad, but… the ultimate shade of grey. It would have no thoughts, no emotions; it would be a being of PURE balance. And as such, it would restrict the degree of… damage which could be inflicted by either side."

Her eyes sharpened a bit as her face became slightly pinched and she slammed down the rest of her drink then filled the glass to the top with liquor, ignoring the ice and the two staring men.

"Unfortunately, they failed to consider all the possible outcomes of their act and when they had finished… they were confronted with not one but THREE distinctly separate beings."

Another long swallow of booze and Hypatia frowned. "They had achieved their ultimate goal. They had created their ‘balance’, their ‘null’. But they had also created a force of pure evil… and one of pure good. Light and dark… and the space in between." She sighed, drinking again.

"The saddest part of all of it, though, was that while their ultimate shade of grey was exactly as they’d hoped-- unthinking, emotionless, virtually inert-- the other two…" she frowned, looking at the blond and brunette wearily. "They were not. They felt. They thought. And although they had no physical form, they yearned."

"And thus it was for millions of years, until fire and ice erupted across the universe again, this time giving birth to demons as the dark Powers sought to upset the balance once more. Because evil makes its own rules and the fighting had lessened. They saw their chance and they took it."

Hypatia shrugged slowly, staring into her nearly empty glass. "Perhaps they’d forgotten what had happened before. It might be possible. But demons came forth and existed in mayhem and destruction for tens of thousands of years, and then…" She looked at Xander. "And then your remote ancestors began to evolve. I believe the lighter Powers had a hand in that. You evolved and crawled from the slime of beginning and… you made this corner of this dimension your own."

"THIS dimension?" One deep brown eye stared, looking both curious and… fearful.

"Of course THIS dimension," Hypatia said with a bitter laugh. "This is the one where you succeeded. There are myriad others in which humans… well, let’s just say that your kind… OUR kind… aren’t the dominant species."

Spike frowned and held his slightly shivering Claimed closer still, nearly pulling the warm human into his lap. "An’ much as I appreciate the history lesson, luv, what th’ bloody hell does this have ta do with you an’ Trev, ‘ey?"

The woman tried to smile although it ended up looking more like a sickly sneer. "The entities of dark and light, Spike…"

"Yah? What about them?" the vampire demanded, feeling an odd sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach.

"They ended up in this dimension… working together at the place which became Wolfram & Hart after a few thousand years." She let out one shuddering breath. "Because even though they were entirely different beings, they knew they were once together and as time passed they’d been drawn closer, needing each other, needing to be one again. And the senior partners, as they came to be called, gave them that. It bound them into one being, both dark and light but aware, able to act, unlike their poor ‘sibling’."

"I… WE remember you. You came closer to us than you know so many times… before you regained your ability to function in phase with this world. You almost walked in on us more often than you can imagine. It was only through vigorous warding that we managed to keep you out of our home… our White Room."

Her nauseated smile shook a bit and she looked away from the men. "As for that third entity I mentioned… you know it, as well. A mystical key that could open the portals to Hell… until it was stolen away and given form and function and life... and a family, friends, a world in which to live, a world it could touch and feel and… be human in. And you can’t know how much we envied her."

"Shit," Harris whispered.

"Niblet." Spike murmured, knowing it was true.

Part Ten

He heard the soft hiss as Robert shifted on the sheets and frowned. The young man needed to be checked out. He could be more damaged than he thought, and if so it would be best to find out quickly. Unfortunately, Elliot had a feeling the younger blond wasn’t going to be terribly eager to be poked and prodded. Still… "Robert… we need to get you to a hospital. There’s no way of knowing if…"

"He… he used a condom," Robert whispered, his voice breaking at even thinking about it. "I… it was obvious." He winced slightly and tried to move away a bit.

"That’s good, darlin’," Elliot murmured, letting him move, but not too far. "But that’s not what I meant. It’s…" he sighed. "You could be hurt, Robert. Uh, inside, you know? And you need to be…"

"No!" Robert’s brown eyes were suddenly wide and wild as he held the blankets closer around him. "No… no hospital! I… Lily! She’d find out and… and she sent me here and she’d blame herself and…"

And that wasn’t what was actually bothering the younger man, Elliot thought, although he was sure it was a part of it. "Robert," the older man said softly, shifting himself to wrap the frightened man in another comforting embrace, "Listen, darlin’. I know you’re scared and I know you don’t want anyone to know what happened. That’s fine. I told you. I understand."

He nodded gently. "But… you could be hurt, bleeding, cut or something inside. And we need to find out. I… I care about you, baby. I don’t want to see you getting some infection just because you’re afraid, okay?"

Brown eyes filled with tears, although Robert wasn’t sure if it was because Elliot had said he cared or because he really was as scared as the man said. "I can’t… I c-can’t… d-d-do it, Elliot. Let s-some… strange… m-man…" he shuddered roughly. "Not when…" His voice broke again and he couldn’t finish.

Elliot sighed softly. "Okay, darlin’... no strange doctors," and that ruled out calling the front desk to see if they had a physician on staff, which left him with only one other option.

He hated to ask, mostly because he didn’t want Robert to think he was trying to take advantage of the situation, but there was no help for it. The man had to be examined, and if he wouldn’t accept a stranger, then he was for damned sure going to accept Elliot. "I had enough medic training in the service to make sure you’re all right. And if you’re not, you WILL be going to the hospital, like it or not. We’ll think of something to tell Mrs. J."

"Those are your choices, Robert. A doctor now, or maybe a doctor later, depending. Got it?"

It was the steely, entirely serious tone that had Robert nodding slowly, tears still sliding down his cheeks. He’d never imagined Elliot touching him… there… for this sort of reason. But dirty and worthless or not, he’d rather it was him than some guy he didn’t know in some cold, white room. It wasn’t as though Elliot could still want him, anyway… not after what had happened, even if he ever had. "I… all right…" he sniffled.

"Good. Now stay right there. I need to make a call." He pulled himself slowly from the smallish, blanket wrapped lump and went to his jacket, pulling out his cell before walking into the bathroom and closing the door.

"Trevor… hey… look, I need you to do something for me. Find a drugstore. We need a tube of antibiotic ointment. The kind with a numbing agent, okay? And… see if they have any sterile lubricant." He sighed softly. "I’ll explain later, just… do your best. Thanks, baby… love you."

He hung up quickly and returned to the shaking young man, stroking his hair softly.
"So I heard you’ve got a new car, darlin’. How does it handle?"

Robert smiled a little at the obvious change of subject but accepted it and started telling Elliot about the vehicle. It might help to get his mind off of… things, but he doubted it somehow. Still, it was worth a try.

* * * * *

He truly hadn’t understood the last request until he reached the hotel room again. That was when Elliot had explained, slowly and quietly.

A part of him understood, kind of. If he’d been through what had happened to Robert, HE wouldn’t want to be touched by anyone anonymous, either. The rest of him was livid, of course, that HIS Elliot was going to be… touching… the young man he obviously wanted, and that was setting aside his own feelings about the younger blond.

And so Trevor sat in the bathroom, alternating between fuming over what was happening in the bedroom area and cringing at the soft distressed whimpering he could hear through the door.

Finally though, before he could drive himself completely insane, the door opened and Elliot stepped inside, closing it gently behind him.

"He’s okay," the blond said quietly, moving to the sink and washing his hands quickly and efficiently. "Some internal bruising, I’d say, but that’s to be expected along with the small tears to his anus. Whoever did this was… gentle, as such things go. It could have been much worse." He nodded, looking a bit sick to be discussing Robert’s condition so clinically. Still, it was what he’d been trained to do, after all, and even though it had been a while, he’d fallen back into the learned behavior so as not to upset the young blond in the bed any more than was necessary.

Elliot sighed and swayed slightly, only the large, warm hands on his shoulders steadying him for a moment. "Fuck, Trevor," he whispered, "I… hate him. Whoever it was. I HATE him."

Trevor nodded, forgetting he’d been jealous, forgetting his worries about the two blonds stealing each other away. His arms wrapped tightly around his lover, pulling him against him and offering what comfort he could. "So do I, baby," he whispered, speaking the complete truth.

"People like that… and Robert’s never done a thing to hurt anyone! How could… WHY would anyone…?" He shook his head, letting his chin rest on Elliot’s shoulder. "I just… I don’t understand."

"Control," Elliot said softly, somehow sure he was right. "Whoever… did this. They wanted to take away his control. To… rule him." He nodded slowly, his head on Trevor’s solid shoulder. "It's… usually rape is about violence, but… like I said, this was… gentle." He shivered.

"El… I know there’s… something between you and Robert, so I’m sorry if you didn’t know this, but… Robert’s as submissive as they come. What kind of control could he have that would make someone… do that?" He swallowed hard. "I’m not saying you’ve cheated on me. I know you haven’t. I trust you. But… I still know something’s there…"

The blond pulled back slightly, meeting the cautious brown eyes and shook his head. "It’s not anything new, Trev. Really. Or not something we can’t talk about later. As for the other…" he sighed. "Come here." He loosened his hold on the brunette and pulled him to sit on the raised edge of the tub.

Trevor frowned but took the hand Elliot offered him, their fingers tangling together.

"I’m pretty sure I’m not the first… submissive sort you’ve taken up with, right?" he almost laughed when the other man blushed. "Okay… I WAS when we met. Better?"

The brunette nodded, still blushing at how much he’d turned out enjoying the more dominating nature Elliot displayed on occasion. "Yeah," he agreed with a small, wry laugh.

"Right. So… let me ask you a question, Trev. When you had-- have-- me on my knees, doing anything you’d like to me… when do you stop? When you want to? Or when I let you know it’s going too far?" He arched a brow. "Now apply that same question to the others you’ve topped."

Trevor’s brow furrowed deeply for a moment, then cleared as his eyes widened and his hand clutched the blond’s tighter. "But… that’s…"

And Elliot found himself chuckling softly. His other hand reached across his chest to cup one lightly shadowed cheek. "Shhh," he murmured teasingly, "It’s a secret. It’s almost always the bottom, the sub, who decides how far things can go. And in that sense, the Servant is actually the Master." He nodded. "There are exceptions, but not often and generally only when both parties to the relationship are somehow twisted inside. But in this case…"

Brown eyes closed helplessly. "Robert’s control was that he could decide, and that… bastard…" Trevor whispered, finally getting it.

"He took that away. He drugged him and took every choice he had." Elliot agreed sadly. "Fortunately, he wore a condom. Robert could tell when he came to, and… there were still traces of spermicide… inside him. I could smell it."

"So all we have to worry about is the…emotional damage, then? That’s hopeful, right?"

Elliot nodded, squeezing his lover’s fingers. "It is… and it’s not. We’re gonna have to wait and see. I…" he swallowed hard, not sure how Trevor was going to take his next suggestion, but he had to try. "I don’t think he should be alone and he really doesn’t want Mrs. J. knowing about what happened…"

Trevor nodded sharply. "Right. We let him rest up for a day or two, then you tell her he’s going to visit with us in New York for a while. He’ll need… friends." He ignored the fact that such a plan would mean Robert staying in their home with him and… with Elliot, too. "And meanwhile… we find out where he was last night. I find out who… did this. And then I kill the fucker."

The blond sighed, pretending he hadn't already thought of the same thing. "Have you ever killed a man before, Trev? It’s not as easy as they make it look on TV."

"So… what? We just let the shit get AWAY with it?" the brunette snarled loudly. "No. I won’t let that happen, El! He deserves to die for making Robert feel the way he does now, and I’m going to make sure he does!"

"No, baby," Elliot murmured, pulling the man closer. "You’re not. But the guy will pay. Don’t worry about that." Killing someone would probably break his lover in ways the other man hadn’t even considered and Elliot would never let that happen. "Besides, death is too easy. I think Robert would get more satisfaction from knowing the man was in prison being sodomized every day, don’t you?"

And if Trevor thought that was the plan, then maybe he wouldn't ask too many questions when he went out looking for the bastard himself, Elliot figured. Prison was all well and good but whoever had raped Robert wouldn't live long enough to find out. He might be close to ten years out of the game, he knew, but he could still take the fucker down and get away clean. And he would.

"Prison?" Elliot said again, "Raped daily? I think that'll do it..."

And that thought made Trevor smile his first REAL smile since Hypatia had walked into his apartment the night before.

Part Eleven

It wasn’t a small club, nor was it big due to its location squirreled away at the end of an alley not far from St. Mark’s Place and 8th. In fact, it was largely unknown except to those who were either brought there by friends or who somehow stumbled onto it by accident or need. There was no sign, no neon, no velvet or other sort of rope.

It was just a simple steel door set with rivets, guarded by a very large and apparently homeless man, although if one were well versed in demons he would have been recognizable as anything but homeless… or a man.

Still, most humans weren’t so versed and that was why the guardian-or bouncer, as the case may be-seemed a bit surprised when what appeared to be three humans approached as though they knew where they were going.

The woman of the group, tall enough to match the height of the blond man with her, surprised him further when she grinned, showing very white teeth along with an almost desperate gleam in her eyes.

"Defenestrate," she said in the language of his people, and as that was the current password, he nodded and used one of the smaller skills given his kind to unlock the door and open it.

"Be welcome," he replied in the same language. "No killing, no biting if you’re the sort to do that. No spitting unless it’s ratified as common and medically necessary for your species, which it is not, human. No stripping unless cleared with the management and they receive a portion of all tips, percentage to be decided privately. No fighting, with the same provisions and additionally with enough advance warning that a betting pool may be started before the first blow. Have a pleasant evening."

He stepped aside, closing the door and performing that same mental twitch that had unlocked it. He was a demon, yes, but he took his position very seriously. It had taken him decades to prove himself fit for the job, and… he was respected within his clan and the community because of it.

It wasn’t every Pohbar demon that could get work at ‘Shambala’, after all, especially in such an important position.

He leaned against the wall again, slumping until he once again appeared as no more than just another poor, disadvantaged and displaced human, although of unusual size.

* * * * *

"Come on!" Hypatia yelled as they passed the first door and the music suddenly crashed over them, "I hear they make the BEST margaritas on the whole CONTINENT here!"

Harris laughed suddenly, his eye darting here and there through the large room. He smiled, seeing a Gorblath having a conversation with a Chestik, then more as the bizarre-looking clump of flesh writhing on the dance floor resolved itself into a Parmakian, complete with ear horns and a female demon who looked an awful lot like Clem.

"Who told you that?" he shouted back, his hand tightening around Spike’s as they followed the woman through milling humans and demons to the bar. "This place remind you of anywhere?" he added in an aside to his claimed.

Hypatia laughed and shrugged apologetically. "All right, you caught me, Harris. I didn’t hear, I just KNOW, okay?" She gave him a wink then turned a saucy grin to the green-skinned four-breasted woman behind the bar. "Margarita," she ordered, "Grande! A Jack and Coke, and a tall glass of your finest O-positive, please!" She smirked at the vampire for a second, then winked and added to the green woman, "And Spike it!"

Spike couldn’t help chuckling a bit himself. He’d wondered whether going out was a good idea when they had no idea of where Hypatia would take them, and he was ashamed to admit that in over five years he’d never even heard a whisper about this place. Then again… he gazed quickly about. As many demons as were in evidence, there were barely one in ten who could be dangerous when provoked, and of that ten percent, none were vampires.

Or they weren’t tonight, because obviously they kept fresh blood in the place. The barmaid hadn’t even batted a single eye at the order.

"Yah, luv," he finally responded, leaning in close to his Xander’s ear, " ‘s like a bigger, better, less seedy an’ safer Willy’s." And since he knew his beloved wouldn’t understand the reference, he made no mention of Caritas, which it reminded him a good bit more of… if Caritas had been six times the size, he amended mentally, and please Gods, no karaoke.

"So what are we doing here again?" Harris demanded once he and Spike had their drinks in their hands and Hypatia had hers, as well. "I mean, there were places closer to home…"

One slim shoulder rose in a partial shrug as she led them towards a couch against the far back wall just as the five mixed bag of demons rose to leave or dance or whatever. Deep red lips curled slightly as Hypatia took a long draught from her glass, sighing happily although she was barely even buzzed from the drinks earlier. "They were right," she said, finally able to stop shouting as the acoustics of their spot somehow made it unnecessary. "The margaritas are incredible."

Spike arched one brow, his expression skeptical and slightly threatening. "An’ I somehow don’t think that’s why you really brought us here, luv."

The portion of the former entity grinned again, doing her best to just… be human and have fun for the first time since she’d been ordered to find her brother and make him realize what he’d been doing. "Actually," she admitted with a bit of a blush, "it is."

"I thought we could all use a bit of fun to decompress. Everything’s been so SERIOUS lately, yes?" She frowned, unaware of the way her lips made a perfect little moue. "Trevor finds his match, Trevor finds his love. Trevor ignores everything he’s SEEN for the last six years because he’s jealous of match and love being drawn to each other. Why does everything have to be about Trevor? As though he’s that special! It’s his love and match who matter… but I suppose he does too. The bastard."

She snorted. "Still, with just a little bit of luck they’ll all be fine and the everything will go on as it’s meant to, and I think that’s reason enough to blow off some steam and celebrate, don’t you?" She swiftly drained the last half of her glass and strode sinuously through the crowd. The margaritas were too good to pass on getting another.

Spike looked at Xander, his brow furrowed over confused blue eyes.

Harris looked at Spike, the strap of his eye patch itching slightly. "Okay… what the HELL was that all about?"

The vampire snorted and shrugged as he sipped the amazingly fresh spiked blood in his glass. "No idea, mate… But I’m thinkin’ maybe we shouldn’t have let her talk us inta this before she finished her story. We know good an’ well it didn’t end at Wolfram and bloody Hart."

Harris thought about that for a moment then gave his love a slightly wicked grin. "True. But she seems to be letting stuff slip so maybe…"

Spike perked up and grinned hugely before kissing his human hard. "You’re a bloody genius, pet! Let her get all drunk an’ tired an’ who knows what we’ll find out, ‘ey?" He kissed him again, just for the hell of it. "Might mean we’re goin’ ta stay up all night, luv… think you can handle that?" His brow waggled teasingly.

"I can handle anything YOU can, bleached menace," Harris said with a grin after returning the kisses with a good interest rate. "Even an all-nighter."

One dark, scarred eyebrow rose tauntingly. "Goin’ ta remind you of that next time you try ta tell me you’re too tired, Xan… just so you know."

Harris’s eye rolled. "Like I’ve ever actually let you go to sleep… randy, Randy." He grinned and nipped lightly at the top of Spike’s ear. "So… what do you think of Hypatia, anyway?"

The vampire cocked his head, looking at the woman who was having a rather animated conversation with a large human-looking man whose skin appeared to be bright orange. The bloke was either a demon or had had really bad luck with self-tanning solutions, Spike figured.

He watched her for another moment, then shrugged, pulling his eyes away with a bit of effort.

"Not bad for a human, I suppose. Even a human who was… what she was. She’s…" he considered for a good ten seconds before he found the proper word. "She’s peculiar."

Harris held his chuckle in deliberately. He remembered the days when Riley had been around; remembered some of the conversations they’d had while waiting for Buffy to show up for patrols and Scooby meetings. His eye moved slowly from his claimed’s face, tracing the same path the bright blue gaze had wandered just a few moments earlier.
He looked her up and down, considering what he knew of her and finally nodded as he went back to looking at his love. "Yeah, she’s definitely… peculiar, babe." He smiled.

Part Twelve

Robert was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming. And still it seemed so real.

** ‘Hurry up, Ricky… damn it, you should have taken him around back!’

‘Right…’ a grunt, ‘because there aren’t about twenty queens back there getting each other off.’

The sensation of hands at his belt, then cool night air on naked skin.

‘Gods, just fuck him already! You really are a fag.’

"Fuck off, Farrell. It’s not like these condoms glow in the dark.’

A foot, kicking his legs apart as far as the pants around his ankles would allow.

"Screw the condom, you fucking queer! Just do the kid and let’s go!’

‘Right… and catch whatever he might have? Fuck, he was cruising! Probably has a whole deck of diseases.’ A relieved and happy chuckle. ‘There. Okay.’

Hands on his ass, peeling his cheeks apart and a finger stabbing inside and all he could do was lay there while his mind screamed.

‘G-gods, Farrell…’ groaning, ‘This kid is gonna be TIGHT… as tight as any girl you’ve ever had!'

He heard another grunt, low and rough, then… he wanted to kick, to fight, to push himself away… a burning, centered at his hole, growing hotter, fiercer as the inescapable pressure continued until the blunt, offending shaft pierced through.

‘Fuuuuuuckkk… tight as a virgin, bro’… sure’ grunt ‘you don’t want a turn…?’

‘I like mine with tits and a pussy. HURRY!’

Ricky’s voice, smug and self-satisfied. ‘I was wrong, wasn't I? You're tighter than any girl, aren’t you, Robert? So tight… knew you wanted it as soon as you looked at me.’

A deep thrust that would have had him whimpering if he could have.

‘I saw you checking out my cock… I could tell how much you wanted me to fuck you.’
Another slamming thrust, this time splitting skin slightly.

‘Oh… yeah, that’s it, Robert… all nice and slick now…’

A louder grunt, a harder slam, another split.

‘I would have taken you somewhere else but I just don’t have that kind of patience, so… here we are, both of us getting what we want…’

A hand reaching around to fondle him, then laughter at finding him soft. ‘Okay. I guess it’s just ME getting what I want. I’m fine with that, too.’

‘Fuck, Ricky, stop playing around! Finish up already so we can get OUT of here! Someone might have seen us leaving with him!’

A heavy sigh. ‘Fine, Farrell… I’m gonna remind you of that next time you’ve got some girl up against a wall.’

Faster, deeper, harder thrusts accompanied by silent screams, then one last deep push, the intruding member swelling more before pulsing hard inside him…

And Robert didn’t feel anything other than dirty-- not even relieved that it was over when the man pulled his blood-slicked, latex-covered cock from him and dropped the condom just within the edge of his vision.

‘You’re an amazing fuck, Robert… I might have to find you again.’

Then a disturbingly gentle kiss against the back of his neck and Ricky and his friend were gone, leaving Robert ass-up over a car and promising himself seriously that he would never let another man touch him again. Not that any would want to since he was so… sullied. **

He woke screaming, the dream still with him enough that the blond hair next to his in the dark was mistaken for light brown. He screamed again, trying to roll away and found himself pressed hard against another body, this one dark haired… Farrell, he thought, the name echoing in his head although he had no idea of what the man had looked like. "NO! NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!"

He lashed out, fists and knees trying to push the men away enough that he could escape.

Elliot woke at the first scream, reaching gently to comfort the younger man. The next thing he knew there was a fist in his face and a knee trying to smash his groin. "Robert… Robert, it’s me! It’s Elliot… darlin’, it’s ME…"

For Trevor’s part, he had no idea of what was going on. He’d taken the opposite side of the bed from his lover for a few reasons, one of which was that Elliot thought the kid would feel more secure if someone was watching his back, but also because… he was likely to end up in a clench with his boyfriend if he’d slept beside HIM and that would probably bother young Robert more than anything else.

And so he’d woken to a struggling and incredibly fit blond pressed tightly against him, the firm yet soft bedclothes-covered buttocks hard against his groin and Gods help him, he’d started to react. Then he heard Robert screaming and heard Elliot’s voice.

"Robert… baby…" he tried to be comforting, "El’s right. It’s Elliot and ME, baby… Trevor, okay? It’s okay… it’s okay… calm down. Please calm down… nobody’s going to hurt you…"

The obvious concern in the voices barely made an impression as the dream welled up again and Robert fell into despairing whimpers. "D-don’t… don’t… please, d-don’t… I can’t… don’t want… n-no… no-no-no-no-no…" He was helpless, even though he knew on some level that it was over. Had BEEN over. Knew he was safe. Still, he whimpered hopelessly until two pairs of strong arms wrapped tightly around him and soft murmurs pulled him back to the present.

Trevor blinked away the hot tears threatening to spill from his eyes, his burgeoning erection from moments earlier completely gone. He’d been an idiot, just as Hypatia had said. And this was all his fault.

He held on to the young blond tightly, wishing he could change the past, wishing he’d known when to listen, when to give in… when to accept that love didn’t have to be limited or held like a miser’s hoard. But he couldn’t change things, hadn’t listened… and now everything was fucked up and wrong… and as his sister had said, Robert was the one paying the price.

He sighed softly when the young man finally relaxed during Elliot’s continued murmurs, the anguished sounds fading as sleep stole over the emotional exhaustion Robert had to be feeling. Brown eyes met Elliot’s sad and angry blue ones and Trevor sighed.

They were both going to hate him when they found out what he’d done. He just… knew it.

Part Thirteen

Hypatia snorted and spun away, dancing with a short, purple-skinned demon for a moment before doing a swift and stylish turn that returned her to Harris. "You do realize," she shouted over the music as they gyrated playfully against each other, "That I’m not THAT drunk! You don’t get to KNOW the whole truth! Or not yet!" She grinned, then turned her attentions to Spike. "It’s enough to say that Trevor will be well and truly FUCKED if he doesn’t do as he ought, and not in the good way!"

Spike couldn’t help laughing at the sly wink the woman gave him. He shrugged, pretending he didn’t care either way. "Like you said, pet… th’ bloke’s a moron, yah?" he shouted back, dragging her flush against his body as his free hand found his Claimed’s and pulled him around behind her.

Harris arched a brow at his vamp, almost sure the blond wasn’t drunk. Then again, he’d had a few of those spiked bloods, so maybe… He laughed when Spike winked at him. Nope, not drunk. Or not yet, anyway.

His arms extended around either side of the woman’s trim form, hands fastening on Spike’s hips as they all danced together, separated only by the layers of leather, denim, silk and cotton they wore.

She couldn’t help laughing at the antics of the two men. They’d been trying to get her drunk for the almost two hours they’d been at the club. Unfortunately for them, one of her remaining abilities was deliberately altering her metabolism. She’d been burning off the booze almost as quickly as they’d been supplying it and though that meant she was going to be incredibly hungry later, it was well worth it to see the flummoxed looks on their faces.

And now, apparently William-- Spike, she reminded herself-- had decided to try distracting her by trying to excite her. The fact that he’d somehow managed to get his claimed to assist him was simply a bonus.

"Yes," she finally agreed, enjoying the rapid rock-and-sway of their motions, "Trev can be a bit… stubborn at times. Even with the Powers." She rolled her eyes and laughed. "I think he got more than his share of that trait when we… well, you know." She still hadn’t told them the full story but it could wait. They all needed to just unwind for a bit and she was for damned sure going to see to it that they did, herself included.

Harris grinned and used his hands on Spike’s hips to pull the vampire closer, sandwiching the black-haired woman even more tightly between them. "Oh, I don’t know," he said loudly against her ear as the music pounded and thumped around them, "I think you got a good amount of it, too…"

Spike smirked, one of his hands shifting from Hypatia’s ribs to slip slowly over his beloved’s side then down to the flexing ass of his jeans. He grabbed a handful, squeezing slowly. "Yah, luv… an’ you wouldn’t have any of that stubborness, ‘ey?" he winked.

The brunette shrugged, his eye becoming heated as the hand on his butt pulled him harder against the lush bottom of the woman between them. "Never said that, did I babe?" he managed to say without groaning audibly.

Hypatia laughed and shook her head. "Good thing, Harris. It’s never wise to lie. Generally comes back and bites you on the… posterior," she called with a smirk of her own as her arm reached behind him, pinching the mentioned area just above the cool hand of the vampire.

"Gods," Harris mumbled, "You two are dangerous."

"You have NO idea," they said simultaneously before meeting each other’s eyes and laughing.

* * * * *

Harris groaned as he tried to open his eye, only to find that it was pressed hard against a cool, bare chest.

He shifted slightly before trying again, sighing his relief when there was no bright, stabbing electric light to make his headache even worse.

"Gods, Spike," he groaned again, trying not to move any more as his brain throbbed and pulsed within his skull, "Why did you let me drink so much…?"

Spike snorted then moaned as he suddenly noticed the internal jackhammer ratcheting within his own head. "Unngh… could ask… you th’ same… question, luv…" He opened his eyes for a moment before squeezing them shut again. What… th’ bloody… fuck… happened…?" He didn’t think he’d ever been this hung over. Not even when he’d been mourning the loss of his Dark Princess.

"The two of you tried to get me drunk," Hypatia said very softly from the bedroom door, well aware of how much the two males were hurting. "Unfortunately, you never asked whether it was even possible."

She couldn’t help smirking when two gold-tinged red and blue eyes and one pained brown one looked at her. Her hip cocked, leaning against the open doorway carefully, not wanting the t-shirt she’d borrowed to slide up.

"Sadly, gents… it’s not. Unless I want it to be."

Spike tried to growl but ended up whimpering as his head throbbed again. "B-bloody… hell…"

Harris wasn’t even that vocal. He simply groaned once more, his forehead pressing hard against his claimed’s cooler flesh.

Hypatia did her best not to laugh but it was hopeless. "Talk about irony, right? I feel fine, but you two…" She grinned at the muttered ‘I hate you’ she heard coming from the bed. "Don’t worry, boys. I’ll look after you," she grinned as she turned and went through the living room to the kitchen.

She puttered about, mixing various commonly found items into the perfect hangover cure then added a bit of it to the glass of orange juice for Xander and the mug of blood for William.

Finally she returned to the bedroom, passing the couch she’d slept on the previous night. "Here," she said softly, handing the appropriate containers to Vampire and human. "Drink up, gents… it’ll make you feel better."

And nothing could possibly make him feel worse, Harris decided with a mental shrug, taking a long swallow of the oddly spicy juice. His eye widened and he took another large gulp then finished it off as he felt every single symptom receding. "Oh my Gods… that’s…"

"Bloody incredible," Spike finished, his mug of blood equally empty and his head entirely clear.

Hypatia chuckled. "Yes and no, gents. As with everything else, there’s a price. You’ll both be needing the loo in about fifteen seconds. Sorry, but… could be worse, right?"

Spike arched a brow, happy to find it was without pain. "Vampire, luv, remember? Don’t rightly need th’ loo. But thanks for th’ heads up." He grinned, then felt his stomach roiling. "B-bloody… hell…"

Harris on the other hand hadn’t even questioned Hypatia’s words. He was already halfway to the master bath before Spike’s odd and uncomfortable sound emerged.
He moved faster, slamming and locking the door behind him as he felt his vampire panicking and running for the half-bath off of the living room.

Hypatia chuckled and headed back towards the kitchen. Human and vampire would be a good ten minutes, she knew, but when they were finished they’d be almost as famished as she’d been when they’d all gotten back to the apartment the night before… which had been well into the morning, really.

Luckily she was a reasonably good cook and the remaining items from the earlier grocery delivery would be enough for all three of them.

She wondered wickedly whether the two men remembered that they’d basically screwed each other raw with the bedroom door open when they’d gotten back from the club but she decided not to mention it. They were beautiful together, she thought with a wistful smile as she broke eggs into a bowl and chopped up the other fixings for a western omelet for three.

She would have to tell them the rest of her history… Trevor’s history. But not yet. At least they could have a good meal first.

She had a feeling… not that she KNEW… William and Xander wouldn’t be quite so accepting once they heard it all.

Part Fourteen

"Trev," Elliot said softly, his eyes meeting his lover’s over Robert’s sleeping head, "What’s up with you?" His brow was furrowed deeply as he silently begged the brunette to answer him truthfully. "One minute you’re pissed because of… well, because of HIM. And the next…" he sighed. "I… you called him ‘baby’, Trev."

Dark brows drew almost together as Trevor tried to find a way to lie. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. Not with Elliot looking at him like that.

He sighed softly, his voice gentle and low in an effort to let the young and damaged man between them sleep on. "You know I already knew him, El," he said, reconciled to being fully honest about Robert for once. "I… right after I became human… I went to London to see Rupert about that… prophecy thing. And I met Ro… him." He sighed again, his eyes on the young man in question, afraid of waking him by voicing his name.

"I wish you could have seen him then, El… he was so sweet, so stunning… and all of seventeen." Trevor chuckled softly. "Of course, I wasn’t much older but I was new to this body and he seemed so young. I knew I was attracted to men, but how could I even try anything when he was still at that age when he was questioning everything and discovering his own… desires? I mean, what if he was straight?"

"But I wanted him," he admitted finally. "I wanted him so much, El, but I was still so OLD then-- on the inside-- and it just seemed wrong, you know?"

Elliot frowned and shook his head. "Trev, I… how much do you know about Robert’s life? Before his parents died, I mean?"

Trevor shrugged as best he was able while still holding the object of his six-year-long fascination close. "School. Private school I’m guessing. Not much else, really."

The blond sighed, his fingers leaving Robert’s back to rub lightly through his lover’s hair. "Love… Robert has known he was gay since he was like twelve. He… well, there was a guy at school who he lost to another when he had to leave after the original Watcher’s Council exploded. But even when he was seventeen he knew what he was… and…"
Elliot frowned deeply, suddenly understanding why Trevor had gotten so freaked and jealous over him and Robert even talking, much less the kissing and such.

He forced himself to finish the sentence, even though it might mean losing his Trevor… losing the first man he’d loved more than his own life since... John.

"Even when he was seventeen," Elliot said again, "he wanted you." He swallowed hard. "When he… heard you were in London, he… fuck. He asked me if it was ‘tall dark and sexy Trevor’ just to be sure."

And that was a load off, Trevor admitted silently although he hated the look on his lover’s face. Still… Robert… WANTED him? Wanted… HIM? It was almost too much to grasp. "I… I never knew…" he admitted quietly, pressing just a bit closer to the sleeping body between him and his lover. "I… why would he… I was such a WRECK back then…"

His lips twisted into what he hoped was a comforting smile, even while his gut was clenching roughly. Trevor was going to choose Robert. He could tell. He tried to reconcile himself to losing both of the men he cared for, although Trevor would be the harsher blow.

Elliot swallowed hard again then pulled his eyes away from the beloved soft chocolate brown of his man’s confused gaze. "He loves you, Trev. I don’t know how or why if that’s all the contact you had, but… he loves you. He… he didn’t want me at all until he knew that we were… together."

And that was something Trevor would never believe. Elliot was so… amazing! He honestly didn’t understand how every single man in the world didn’t want him. "No," he whispered, the fingers of one hand releasing Robert’s sleeping form to find Elliot’s arm and grip it gently. "No, baby… he wanted you. Because you’re exactly that. YOU. And I…" Trevor almost sobbed.

"Gods, El… I love you so much. I can’t lose you. I can’t lose HIM. I… I don’t care about anything else, okay? Let’s just… take him and run, okay? Disappear for a while? I… we need to HEAL him! He’s… a part… of us…"

He didn’t know if he was making any sense; in fact he was almost fully sure that he wasn’t. But it was what he felt… what he thought they needed… and so he’d said it, his eyes suddenly staring at Robert’s hair. "He’s a part of us." He said again, willing his lover to understand.

Elliot flushed, ashamed that he’d truly expected Trevor to abandon him for the younger, sleeker blond. "I, uh… I have a place in Montana. It might be better than taking him home. Harris knows about it but that’s about all. It’s not fancy, but... is that far enough away? Will it… do?"

Fingers dug deep into short blond hair and Trevor pressed his lips to his lover’s as hard as he could without disturbing the sleeping and damaged man between them. 'Home'. Elliot had called their place 'home' and he couldn't help the way it thrilled him. "Just make sure his grandmother knows how to reach us, baby…"

He smiled a bit wistfully. "And once we get there…" he added even more softly, "maybe you’ll tell me why you’ve been calling him ‘darling’ when you’ve always only called me Trevor… or Trev."

Elliot laughed softly. "I guess you missed all the ‘baby’-s and ‘love’-s, then. But I’ll be happy to remind you once we’re there." He leaned up and over carefully, his tongue lapping gently against his love’s lips. "You’re everything I never knew I needed, baby… and I’m never letting go unless you ask me to, okay?"

Trevor smiled, his own tongue creeping out to writhe softly with his lover’s. Fingers tightened in blond hair for a moment then he pulled back.

"I told you… way back when, El. I’m not going to ask. And even if I did…"

Elliot smiled as much as he could, considering the situation with Robert. "I’d be lying when I agreed. I don’t want to leave you, Trev. Ever. I… shit. I love you, Trev."

The brunette smiled just a little, holding the shivering form of young Robert against his chest. "Love you too, El… always." He nodded slowly. "And we’ll just have to make this kid understand that we…" he broke off, not sure of where the certainty of their feelings had come from and ready to question it until Elliot continued the sentence.

"That we love HIM, too," Elliot finished with a nod. "No matter HOW unlikely it might be. There’s something… about him. I… WE… NEED him." He smiled slightly, remembering his initial impulse on first kissing Robert. He’d wanted to take him back to Trev and have a three-way party, and now… he had a feeling that if he had, they’d all be better off. Still, better late than never and… "We love him," he said again, his eyes begging Trevor to accept it.

"Exactly," Trevor nodded back, suddenly SEEING it. "He… Robert… is OURS."

"Yessss… OURS..." Elliot mumbled as his eyes drifted shut, the drama apparently overwhelming him unexpectedly.

"Wuss," Trevor said affectionately, even as his own eyes flicked shut and he fell asleep just as suddenly, SEEING still more in his dreams.

Part Fifteen

"Alright, gents," Hypatia finally said as she placed her napkin over the remains of food on the plate in front of her and sipped the strong black coffee she'd brewed earlier, "I'm sorry. I should have mentioned the whole thing with the alcohol." She chuckled quietly. "Of course, you shouldn't have tried getting me drunk, either, so I suppose in a sense we're even, yes?"

Spike growled even as he finished off the last of his omelet. "Hardly. Your bloody stunt with whatever you gave me ta drink before leaves you still on th' owin' side."

Harris laughed and reached out the few inches to pat his vamp's hand. "Stop pouting, babe. At least we feel better than we would have until like tomorrow."

The blond glared at his beloved, his bottom lip pooching out a bit more. "Not poutin'."

One warm brown eye rolled, then Harris shrugged at the black-haired woman slightly. "Sure you're not, love. Of course, it looks good on you."

Hypatia grinned. "What doesn't?" She took another sip of her coffee then leaned back in her chair. Ignoring the vampire's expression completely she sighed softly. "Alright, then. Where were we?"

Spike lost his pout and arched a brow at the woman. He'd figured it would take a good bit of effort to get her talking again, but apparently not. "Your white room, pet... an' Dawn bein' th' third one of... whatever you are."

"Were," Harris corrected gently, squeezing his lover's hand gently. "What you WERE. Because you're human now... right? You and Trev?"

She sighed again, violet eyes staring at the table top. "Yes... for the most part. Let's just say that we're as human as your friend Willow, Xander. A good bit more power than most ordinary humans, but... we still age, we still get sick... still want things that could be bad for us." She nodded, raising her eyes to flick back and forth between the two men. "But I'm getting ahead of myself. So. The white room."

"Yah, luv... because I don't think me an' Xan are gettin' how you got from there ta here."
Harris shook his head. "I'm not sure I even know what 'there' is... was. But that's okay. You guys can tell me later. I kinda want to know what happened more right now."

"It's simple, really," Hypatia said after a moment. "We were there. We were one being finally and had been for centuries. We existed within that place and we... watched. We saw things. The world, the ever changing balance between light and dark... and people." She swallowed and looked down at the table again.

"People everywhere, holding souls and disregarding them. FEELING things and acting on those emotions... free will was fascinating to me. To US, as we are now. And as time passed, we wanted so much..."

Hypatia frowned. "It's so very difficult to explain this in human terms. When we were... THERE, we were one being. an 'I', not a 'we'. And yet now... it feels as though 'we' is the appropriate term, even though it wasn't then."

Her eyes rolled slightly at the vampire's annoyed growl.

"Fine. I was trying to be clear but..."

"Just get on with it, pet. Enough with th' stallin'." Spike demanded with another irritated growl, forcing himself to stop when his beloved's hand stroked his arm soothingly.

"You have no idea of the sort of power we held then," she said softly. "We could have shifted the balance in and of ourselves with less than a thought if we hadn't been so close to balanced as one being made of two. We were good and bad, light and dark, all swirled irretractably together and directed mostly by the intentions of those who used us. Much as the same fire that can warm can be used to destroy, you understand?" She nodded slowly. "And we all felt the battle coming. The battle you intended to be a part of, William."

"There was little chance of surviving, not intact. Not even for me. Us. We would be too great of a prize, you see. Whoever won, I... we... would have been taken, turned to one end or another and... that last year spoiled us. Made us want things we shouldn't have and... we were afraid."

Hypatis nodded once more, finally looking at the men again. "Thanks to Angel, Wolfram and Hart was no longer closed to the lighter Powers and so we... made a deal. We would become human and seek our redemption. Or not, as the case might be. But we would be allowed to experience free will. To CHOOSE who and what we would be... and reap the rewards or punishments we earned with our mortal lives."

"As it turns out, you see, the Powers had plans for us. They knew what we wanted, knew it was in everyone's best interests for us to be... lessened. And we are. We're nowhere near as powerful as we were when joined and... I'm convinced that it's a good thing. So there. Now you know."

Spike frowned, trying to wrap his mind around the new information. It was Harris, however, who cut to the chase.

"So they... what? Made bodies from nothing and... shoved you and Trev into them? Because I'm not sure how that would work. I mean, the paper trail most people have, alone, would be kind of..."

"There's ways around that, luv," the vampire murmured, having used just such ways himself after what had happened in LA. "Even if th' Powers left them ta fend for themselves, there's ways ta build a past..."

"If only it were that simple," Hypatia whispered, her fingers trembling until she clenched her hands against the smooth table top. "If only it were..."

* * * * *

"Well, she wasn't lying," Harris admitted a few hours later, after Hypatia had left to do some 'business' although she'd promised to call them when she was finished, if only to update them on anything she might find herself KNOWING about the guys.

"When you know what to look for, it's easy to find." Harris blushed a little as his claimed plopped down on his lap to stare at the computer screen. "It's right there. I put in her name and Trev's and... it's just like she said."

One arm wrapped around his beloved's shoulders and he gazed at the screen for a while. "Trevor Arcady an' Hypatia Lee. Yah, see it, luv." His lips pursed a bit as he read the bits about both their friends, although the word might be stretching it a bit with regards to the woman. "Not clear on what th' terms mean, though..." he shrugged slightly, ashamed to admit it.

Harris smiled and hugged Spike close, pressing one soft kiss to his shoulder. "I wasn't either. That's why I looked them up, babe." He almost glowed at the look his vampire gave him.

"Basically...? Trevor Arcady got hit in the head with a hockey stick when he was fifteen. He was in a coma for like almost five years. The hospital said he went brain dead and really dead... for a second. Then... he wasn't." Harris frowned. "When he woke up, he was... different, according to his usual doctor... but since his parents died in a car accident after he was hurt there's no other info to go by."

Spike arched a brow, knowing his lover wasn't telling him everything. "And?" he demanded insistently, meeting that lovely brown eye.

Harris sighed. "And... Trevor wasn't gay. Or not the ORIGINAL Trevor, anyway. That seems to be something the... entity... brought into the mix."

The vampire frowned although he supposed that made sense. It was also in keeping with what Hypatia had told them. "An' Hy? What's it say 'bout her?"

The brunette smiled a bit, catching the more interested tone to his claimed's voice. "Something similar although the thing that put the first Hypatia Lee in the hospital-- and in a coma too, incidentally-- was a gas line explosion at her home. Her parents and two younger siblings died in the blast but she was apparently leaving the house at the time and was blown head-first through the windshield of the family car." Harris sighed and moved the mouse, clicking on the relevant link.

"She was sixteen at the time but managed to hold on for seven years or so. And again, she was all kinds of dead for a moment just about six years ago... but she got better all of a sudden." Harris sighed. "It almost seems like... the Powers maybe killed off their families...?" He swallowed hard, wondering if the 'lighter Powers' were maybe just as bad as the darker ones.

Spike frowned again, shaking his head. "Luv... Trev an' Hy's first fams died before th' 'entity' made its deal with th' Powers, yah? So I'm bettin' they just took advantage of what they could find, right? I mean... how many people are in comas world-wide on any given day? Must be a bleedin' lot!"

Harris smiled, feeling a little relieved. "Yeah... you're right, babe. I don't know what I was thinking. They're the POWERS, right? They would never do anything like that."

The blond didn't bother to respond to that even though he questioned his beloved's belief in inherent goodness. He merely ran his fingers through the wavy brown hair and pressed a yearning kiss to his lover's lips. "Right... so can we go ta bed, pet? Kinda want you ta shag me unconscious, if you don't mind..."

And as always, Harris didn't have a problem with that. He returned the kiss slowly, wickedly, needily. "No..." he murmured with a soft and pleased chuckle, "Don't mind at all, love..."

Part Sixteen

Long, slow strokes, shoring up gently against the cooler skin of his claimed before receding, leaving just the thick, seeping tip of him within that perfect tightness, that incredibly welcoming channel.

His eye stared deep into gold-flecked blue, small shuddering breaths leaving his lips as he watched his vampire's face, each shift of expression dear and memorable to him no matter how many times he'd seen them before.

"Gods, babe... you feel so good... so..." Harris shook his head, still finding it funny that he-- the author-- couldn't find the words to express just how much he felt.

Spike groaned softly, hands moving slowly, smoothly over his beloved's tanned chest, twisting rings lightly every now and again before moving on to treasure the warmth his human was so willing to share. "Bloody... hell. Luv th' way you do me, Xan... feelin' every inch of you slidin' inta me... movin' inside me. Fuck, luv... want ta keep you in me always... fillin' me so right an' good... makin' me feel so warm an' luved an'..."

He groaned again, arching against the bed even as his legs tightened around the man's waist. "Never felt whole 'til you, pet... didn't know I could..."

And that about summed it up, Harris admitted silently. He more than loved Spike. He felt like they were... one being. Designed specifically for each other, no matter how they'd hated each other at one time.

"Y-yeah, babe..." another slow, deep slide, feeling that tiny nodule within his love graze along his thick cock the entire way. "I... y-yeah..."

"Xan... bloody hell, Xan... yah... do that again..." His head pressed back hard into the pillow, fingers digging slightly into broad shoulders as he begged in tone if not in words. "Please, luv..." In words, too.

"Always, love... never gonna stop..." He repeated the motion, moving just a bit faster this time and grinning shakily as it pulled a low, keening moan from his vamp. He lowered himself fully, his chest flush against the slightly smaller, less broad chest beneath him as his arms slid between skin and sheets, his hips still moving in their slow pistoning. "Like that, babe...? Want more...?"

Arms slid fully over his human's shoulders, holding him close as the slow slide became closer, somehow deeper. Features shifted, sharp teeth scraping lightly, almost gently over the claiming scar. "Yah, pet... just like that... give me it, luv... always want you, always want more..."

"Never gonna tell you no, Spike..." Harris whispered before suddenly pulling himself fully from that perfect, slick hole. He changed his angle just a bit, ignoring the warning growl he could feel against his chest and neck, then slid forward again, his cock rubbing smoothly against his vampire's. "Want to feel you, babe... feel how hard you are for me... how much you want me in you again..."

"More than anythin'," Spike growled again, his hips rocking his dribbling shaft against his human's slick one. "Never been so hard before, luv... only for you, yah...?" He groaned as his Xan slid against him once more. "Need... need you in me again, pet... feel empty without you..."

"I'm always in you, babe," Harris murmured, opening their bond wide as he shifted back onto his knees, taking the blond with him. "Even when I'm miles away, I'm inside you..."

He sat back, legs stretched out in front of him and shifted his vampire slowly, arranging one bent knee to either side of his lap. "But that's not what you mean, is it?" His hands slid from Spike's back, drifting down to spread the rounded and toned cheeks as he wriggled his hips to get into alignment. "There, babe," he whispered, his voice catching as the tip of him found that still-slick hole again, "Never gonna let you feel empty..."

"So full, luv," Spike whispered, letting gravity do its job and feeling that wonderful cock stretch him again. He rocked slowly, still holding tight to his Xan's shoulders and back, lips brushing the man's soft neck gently. "So full of you... 's like we're one bein' all wrapped together this way..." He gasped quietly as the thick shaft inside him twitched, rubbing that special spot. "B-bloody hell..."

"Gods..." Harris moaned, his neck arching against the teeth he could just barely feel, "Love you... so much, babe..." One hand left Spike's rear, slowly maneuvering around his hip then slipping between their bodies to begin long, slow strokes at the blond's seeping, pulsing cock. "Love feeling you like this, Spike... stretched around me, holding me so tight and deep in you..." He moaned again. "Your cock is so hard, babe... so ready..."

The vampire gasped again as his beloved's hand moved up and down his turgid length then moaned loudly, feeling fingers release him to cup his sac gently. "L-luv... d-don't... I'll..." He groaned, rocking harder, faster as he felt his balls drawing up tight.

"Shhh..." Harris murmured, his own sac just as hard and tight as the one in his palm. "I want you to, love... want to feel you cum all over us... feel you milking every drop from me... want to fill you, Spike... to cum hard and deep inside you and feel your teeth in my skin... Gods, babe, I..." he almost shouted as those teeth touched his neck. "Want to taste you," he finished, thrilled by the longing groan he felt as much as heard.

And he'd never heard anything that sounded so good, Spike knew... aside from pretty much everything else his Claimed had ever said. Still, there was only one response he could make and fortunately it wasn't a long one.

"G-granted... luv..." he managed to say, even as his sharp teeth slid deep into warm, fragrant skin, driving deep to find the perfect fount of his beloved's sacred essence. His hips moved faster, harder, shifting the thick shaft almost roughly and he bellowed silently as one last nudge to his prostate combined with the sensation of drinking his Xan sent him spinning, the desire and lustful need that had pooled in his sac exploding between their bodies as his love shouted and shuddered and...

"Spike!" Harris cried, his hands on Spike's hips as he lifted him slightly then slammed him down. Blunt human teeth found cool, salt and vanilla flavored skin and he bit hard, deep... and erupted in violent, rough spurts, bathing his claimed's insides wildly.

Their position was such that they couldn't collapse; not without one of them releasing the flesh between their teeth, and as neither of them were willing they remained there for long minutes that felt like hours they were so... perfect.

Finally, though, their bodies could take no more.

Harris sighed happily, slowly pulling teeth from skin, his tongue laving the bite gently until he felt the healing start. "Gods, Spike," he whispered, hands moving lightly up and down the still-impaled vampire's spine, "That was..." He chuckled softly and shook his head.

The blond smirked, finally pulling his lips from his human. He watched the small trickles of blood until they stopped growing then ducked his head, giving slow, sensual licks to skin as he captured what had drizzled so enticingly. "Mmmm..." he purred, leaving the tanned skin clean but for the bright red of the now-healed scar, "That was US, Xan... you an' me."

His mouth found the warmer one, tongue sweeping through it wantonly and he purred more, tasting himself there. "Never goin' ta let you go, beloved... not ever." The reassurance had become habit, but that didn't mean he meant it any less.

If anything, Spike told himself, saying it so often only made it MORE true. He could no more let go of the human-- his Xander-- than he could stop drinking blood. And even at that... he'd lived without human blood before. It hadn't killed him. But being without his Claimed...? That definitely would. "Love you, pet," he whispered, kissing the man's brow. "Always," he added, pressing another soft, gentle kiss to the lid covering the empty socket.

"Always, babe," Harris echoed, pulling the man down on top of him and holding him close.

Part Seventeen

"Only six more hours, guys," Elliot said with a smile as he steered around a slow-moving Buick. "Anyone want to stop? I think I saw a sign saying there was food up ahead..."

Robert swallowed hard, his stomach rumbling even while he felt nauseated at the idea of eating. "I... no, thanks. I'm fine."

Trevor's eyes met Elliot's in the rear view mirror and he shook his head. It had been difficult to get Robert to eat since the rape but he knew the boy had to be hungry. Hell, with all the emotional distress the young blond was obviously feeling, his body had to be demanding sustenance. "I could go for a burger or something, baby," Trevor announced.

Elliot smiled at his lover in the mirror. "Cool. I think it's maybe another ten miles or so."
He pretended to think about it then grinned more. "Maybe they'll have some pasta. I could go for some carbs. Maybe some spaghetti bolognaise or something." And seeing as Robert liked pasta a good bit, there was some hope that talking about it would get the young man to admit he was actually hungry.

"Oh... yeah. I think... didn't the sign say there was a Sbarro somwhere?" Trevor arched a brow teasingly, sure Elliot was still looking at him even though he'd sat back in the tiny back seat of Robert's car.

And that deserved a snort, Elliot admitted. "Love... there is no WAY we're doing fast food Italian. If we're going to do it, we'll do it right." He nodded sharply, swerving just a bit as another car cut him off.

Robert sighed. He appreciated everything the two men were going through for him, but... he didn't see how it was going to help. They couldn't change what had happened, and... the dreams were haunting him. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Ricky again. Felt him... touching him. Fucking him. Heard his voice, telling him what a tight little bitch he was, how glad he was that Robert liked it.

He was almost starting to believe it.

Maybe he HAD liked it. After all, he'd bent over for Paul more than once and that had been just about as romantic as... what had happened. Maybe he'd even asked for it, like the latest dream said. And if that was true, then... he really was as dirty as he felt and there was no chance that anyone-- even Trevor and Elliot-- could make him clean again. Far better if he just... faded, and fading would be easier if he didn't eat. He'd simply... lose himself and then be gone and... he wouldn't see Ricky in his dreams anymore.

"What?" he asked, giving Elliot a sickly grin, "Sorry. I was... thinking."

"I said... how does some baked ziti sound? Or some chicken parmesan?"

Robert shrugged, determined to ignore the hunger clenching his stomach like a fist. "If you like. I'm not really hungry."

Trevor frowned and shook his head. He knew that wasn't true. The young blond had hardly eaten at all since they'd left Tulsa. "Garlic bread would be good," he tried, one hand finding Robert's shoulder as it reached over the back of the passenger seat. He frowned when the slight touch made the younger man cringe.

* * * * *

"What the hell do we do now, El?" Trevor demanded despairingly as he watched Robert walk towards the restroom. "He's not eating, he's barely sleeping... and he's for damned sure not talking to either of us! I... FUCK, baby, we can't.. lose him!"

His eyes closed sadly and Elliot nodded. "I know, Trev... but we can't FORCE him to do any of those things. I... maybe if he could actually get some rest for once, but he keeps waking up screaming and..." He sighed. "I don't know. I'd say we should drug him just so he could relax but... he's been violated enough."

The brunette frowned then sighed as well. "Yeah... I just feel so..." he shrugged.

"Helpless," Elliot finished for him. "And I do too, baby... but maybe once we get there and it's just the three of us...? Maybe he'll be able to... find his balance. Find who he is again." His brow furrowed some. "Or figure out who he is NOW, anyway."

"Gods, I hope so. It's... shit, El, it hurts to see him like this. I just... want to make him better and I know I can't and..." he released another sigh, this one frustrated and sad.

Elliot reached across the table, his hand pressing down onto his lover's. "I know, Trev... I know. I feel the same way. And it doesn't help anything that I really REALLY want to make love to you... to lose some of this... pain in you, love... and feel joy again." He blushed.

Trevor blushed just as much and nodded. "Yeah... I... that would be..." He frowned. "Kind of insensitive to HIM, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah. It would. So we... won't." Elliot swallowed hard and pulled his hand back, then turned a bright smile to Robert as he returned looking slightly shaken. "Darlin'... what's wrong?"

Robert shrugged and sat back down... then burst into silent tears.

* * * * *

"Shhh... it's okay, darlin'," Elliot murmured nearly forty-five minutes later as he rubbed the younger blond's back gently in the motel room they'd gotten just a few hundred feet down the road from the restaurant.

"N-no..." Robert shivered, his voice barely a whisper. "I... I could feel him, Elliot... when I tried to... go. I... I FELT him and it..." He shivered again. "Why can't it just stop? I... I want it to STOP!"

"I know... I know, darlin'. And it will." Elliot nodded, kissing the rumpled hair softly. "It's just... gonna take a while. But I'm here, Robert. Trevor's here. We're not going anywhere, okay?"

"W-why?" Robert asked, whispering again. "You're b-both so... good a-and pure and... and I'm so..." he shuddered and shook his head.

"Beautiful," Elliot finished for him. "You're beautiful, Robert. And strong and smart... we... God, darlin', I don't want to scare you. You've been through enough already, but..." He abruptly changed his mind about what he was saying. The young man wouldn't be able to handle knowing how much they wanted him. Not yet.

"But you'll get through it, darlin'," he said instead, "And we're gonna help, okay? Because we... we like you, Robert. We want to see you happy again. See you smile."

And it was just as he'd thought, Robert admitted silently. Even if Elliot had wanted him once, which that one long, deep kiss had seemed to imply all those months ago... he didn't anymore. Why should he, after all?

Finally the young man nodded, a long shaking passing through him just before he relaxed a little. "I... I'm sorry. I'm being such a baby."

Elliot had to laugh a bit. "No, darlin'. You're handling this much better than I did. And you WILL be okay one day. But you need to stop starving yourself. Neither your mind nor your body can heal without fuel, right?"

A deep sigh then Robert nodded. "Alright, I'll... eat when I'm hungry. I... I promise."

The older blond stroked short hair lightly and smiled. "Thank you, darlin'. I'm gonna hold you to that." His smile got larger as he heard the key in the door lock. "It's just Trev, baby," he whispered, not wanting the boy to be frightened. "I'm sure he's got that ice you wanted."

If his answering smile was a bit forced and looked more like a grimace, at least Elliot hadn't pointed it out.

Neither did Trevor when he stepped into the room and locked the door behind him.
"Guess what?" he said, trying to sound cheerful. "That Italian place delivers here, so... since we didn't really eat before..." He shrugged and put the ice bucket on the small table in the corner.

And since he'd promised, Robert let himself look a little bit interested. "Did... didn't you say something about garlic bread while we were in the car?"

Trevor blinked then grinned hugely. "Yeah. We got some of that, baby. It should be here in a few minutes."

The young man nodded and sat up straighter on the bed, finally releasing the older blond. "I should... wash my face or something. I must look... horrible."

They watched him move to the bathroom, shutting them out.

Trevor sighed. "Do you think he'll actually eat, El?"

Elliot smiled and got up, kissing his lover slowly. "Mmmm... I made him promise," he admitted in a whisper. "I can't swear to how MUCH he'll eat, but... he's a man of his word, love."

"So are we... and we WILL bring him back. Right?"

"Definitely, Trev... or at least bring him to a place where what happened to him isn't all he is."

"Good." Trevor smiled slightly, his brown gaze locked on Elliot's blue. "Because that's NOT what he is. He's ours, baby. We just..."

"Need him to be well enough to understand it and accept it. It'll come, Trev. Some day."
And with that they'd have to be satisfied... for the moment.

Part Eighteen

"Hey, El. How's it going?"

"Hold on, Harris. I'm driving. Let me get my headset."

Mutters and the sounds of fumbling, then

"Okay, sorry. I'm back."

"Good. But why are you driving? I thought you were supposed to get in last night."

"Yeah, we were. We had some... car trouble."

A snort. "Yeah, right. He... how is he, buddy? We've been worried about you guys."

Small, unhappy sigh. "The weather's still the same, Harris. But I'm sure it'll improve sooner or later. It's been kind of... humid."

A pause while Harris puzzled that out. "Oh... got it, El. Shit, why don't you call me back later, when you can talk?"

"I... yeah, I think that's a good idea. I don't like talking while I drive here anyway. The roads are kind of... winding. But you remember that."

A sigh. "Yeah... it's not gonna be easy, El. But... he's a good kid and... I know you'll take care of him. You and Trev, I mean. Speaking of which, tell him Spike has a little crush on his sister." Laughter.

"Bloody hell! I do not!" heard in the background.

"You SO do! You've been jumping every time the phone rang all day just in case it was her, babe!"

"I'm a bloody VAMPIRE, luv! We don't GET crushes. That's a purely human thing."

A snort. "Whatever."

"He really does, El. It's funny."

A laugh. "Well, I'll tell Trev. It'll give him something to tease Will about, anyway."

"Yeah. So call me later, buddy. I... fuck, El. Keep us in the loop, okay? And tell the guys I said hi."

"Definitely. Later, Harris."

"Later... and good luck."

"Thanks. Bye."

* * * * *

"So how is young Bobby?" Spike demanded as he sipped his blood slowly, savoring it as usual for the time of day.

Harris sighed. "From what I could tell, he's the same. But Elliot thinks he's gonna get better... or at least feel better eventually... assuming I'm getting his talk about the weather right." He shrugged a little. "They're still driving so I guess he didn't want Robert to know we were talking about him."

"Right, then," the vampire frowned. "Hardly know th' bloke but seein' as he's important ta El an' Trev... want me ta find th' git what done him an' torture an' kill him?"

He laughed quietly and crossed the room, kissing his love's blood-tinted lips roughly. "No, but I appreciate the offer. That's something for Robert to decide. When he's ready." Harris nodded. "I think... he'll do better with El and Trev than he would without them, though. I think they... well, they care for him, in any case. That'll help, right?"

Spike shrugged. "Dunno, luv. Never spent much time with humans who'd had that happen ta them. 's different with vamps. A bit of force an' blood... 's just foreplay. Th' demon just likes ta get off, you know? Can find pleasure even in th' pain. Guess it's one of th' things ta make up for not havin' a soul, yah?"

Harris cocked his head, his eye gazing deep into his lover's. "You know... maybe I should ask Trevor about that. I mean, he's been your Watcher for what? Almost seven years now?"

" 'ey! Had me a soul alla that time, didn't I? Soddin' Trev wouldn't know. An' speakin' of th' git... what the bloody fuck were you doin', sayin' I've got a crush on 'Patia?"

He gave the blond a sly grin. "You do, Spike. Come on, it's not like I don't know the signs." He chuckled, putting a few feet between himself and his claimed. "Besides, the way you kept staring at her the other morning made it pretty clear. Hell, you even did the dishes, babe! You NEVER do dishes unless you're trying to impress someone... or make up for something."

The vampire snorted and finished off his blood then pointedly walked into the kitchen and washed his mug. "You were sayin'?"

"That SO doesn't count. Just admit it, babe. You've got the hots for Hypatia." Harris grinned again. "I don't blame you. She's... well, you know how she is, so... OH! I get it!"

"Get what?" Spike demanded, glaring at his Claimed. "That you're a bloody nut job? Yah, I get that too, luv."

"No, no..." he was laughing so hard he almost couldn't speak but he managed. "She... the long dark hair... an accent... strong woman... she's like... a human and not crazy as horse-pants DRU!" Harris almost fell over laughing at the look on his love's face.

The blond blinked a few times then snorted again. "My princess might have been a few bricks short of a... alright, a LOT of bricks short of... oh, bloody hell, she only had th' one brick and she kept puttin' it down and wanderin' off without it, but..." He frowned. "What was I sayin'? Right! Nothin' at all like my Dru."

Harris snorted right back at him. "Keep telling yourself that, babe. Meanwhile, I'll be over here laughing at you." He winked teasingly and ducked out into the bright sunshine of their rooftop garden. "Vampires don't have crushes," he mimicked annoyingly, knowing his claimed could hear. "I don't know what else you'd call it when you moan someone's name in the shower..."

"Oh... bloody hell..." Spike growled to himself, "Didn't think he heard that... an' why th' hell isn't he jealous? I'D be soddin' jealous if HE'D done it..." He ignored the fact that he'd just more or less admitted to himself that his beloved was right. Not that it mattered. Hypatia Lee had shown no signs of any interest in him.

The brunette grinned and stripped naked before laying down with a smug smile on the towel-covered chaise lounge he'd gotten specifically for this purpose. He truly didn't mind Spike wanting the young woman. Hell, he wanted her himself, not that he'd ever say so. Hypatia was clearly NOT looking and... that was fine too. Besides, it was kind of... cute to see Spike so entirely baffled by what to do next.

Yeah... Harris figured this was gonna be fun. It'd be a change to be able to tease Spike for once instead of the other way around. And he still owed him for a good bit of the teasing he'd been subjected to back in Sunnydale.

Part Nineteen

"He WHAT?" His eyes were wide and disbelieving as he stared at his lover. "He said Spike WHAT?"

Elliot laughed. "Well, according to Harris, Will likes your sister. LIKES her, likes her... at the risk of sounding grade school." He grinned, a bit relieved when Robert laughed as well, the first REAL laugh he'd heard from the young man since they'd found him in Tulsa.

"Wait. WILL. Will... who called her a harpy... and juvenile because we were arguing. THAT Will. He LIKES her? How is that even possible?" Trevor frowned, sure that he looked just as confused as he actually was.

"Well, maybe he's learned better. I understand they spent some time together after we... left the other night." Elliot nodded, turning onto the tree-lined road that lead around the lake.

"Learned what? That she's even more of a bitch than she seemed like?" the brunette rolled his eyes. "Because she is, you know. Stubborn, never listens... always has to have her own way. How... WHY would WILL of all people ever even THINK about her like that?"

Elliot shrugged then waved at the Reservation Police car as he passed, entering the reservation. "A better question might be... why would Harris, except I know all about his bizarre attraction to women like that." He laughed again at the strange sound Trevor made. "Sorry, love, but I've known Harris through a large number of infatuations. I know JUST what it sounds like."

"Gods... gods help them both."

Robert's brow furrowed and he forgot to obsess over what had happened to him. "I... I have a question...?"

Trevor leaned forward suddenly, trying not to startle the young man but thrilled that he'd actually spoken without one of them having to drag words from him. "Just one? Ask away, baby..."

The young blond blushed slightly and gazed at Trevor for a moment from the corner of his eye before blushing more. "I... Harris. He wasn't... upset? That Spike might... want... someone else?" He bit his lip a little, not sure of why he was suddenly feeling so much less... disgraced but glad for it. Maybe it was the food he'd eaten the night before... and that morning.

"No," Elliot laughed, "Harris isn't bothered by it. He and Will... well, they're not exactly gay, you know? I mean, they're claimed and all but they like women too. They just haven't spent much time pursuing any lately." He smiled at Robert, happy to see that young brow unfurrowed for a change. "They're... secure with how they feel about each other, so..."

And Trevor suddenly saw where his El was going with this. "So adding a third to their relationship wouldn't cause any problems. Hell, it would probably make them that much more stable. A tripod IS the most stable three-dimensional shape. You know... assuming they wanted to add a third permanently... like if they loved the third person and knew that person belonged with them." He nodded.

"But... wouldn't they be jealous?" Robert still looked curious... and confused. "They... they're CLAIMED and... I thought..." he sighed. "Never mind."

Elliot frowned and pulled over on the side of the dirt road. "Robert, don't do that, darlin'. Please. You... we've been shut out for days now." One hand released the steering wheel and stroked wind-blown blond hair softly. "Anything you want to know, baby, we'll tell you the best we can, okay?"

Trevor nodded, his hand slipping between the bucket seats to grip long, pale fingers gently. "Really, Robert. We... well, we'll do our best to satisfy your... curiosity." He smiled, catching that quick glance at him again. "So would they be jealous because they're claimed?"

He chuckled when the younger man nodded slowly. "No, baby... they KNOW where they stand with each other. Any third they brought in permanently-- male or female, and Gods let it NOT be Hypatia-- would mean just as much to each of them as they do to each other. Their third would complete their relationship in ways they'd never known they wanted. And... they'd be happy. And equal in each others' hearts."

"They're a good match, darlin'... they fit together. And anyone who was special enough... needed enough for them to want him... or her... to be a part of them? That person would be just as good a match for them both. Eventually." Elliot nodded, giving Trevor a grateful look for helping to plant the seeds at least in their boy's mind. "Does that make sense to you, baby?"

Robert frowned slightly, trying to puzzle it through then shrugged. "I suppose... I... as long as they're happy, anyway." He nodded then nearly jumped from the car as a figure stepped up to the driver's side. He hadn't even seen anyone approaching. Of course, he hadn't been looking, either.

His heart pounded and he pressed himself back against the passenger side door before he realized that the figure-- the woman-- was ancient. She had to be at least eighty if she was a day. "B-bloody hell... I..."

Elliot turned quickly, ready to protect the young man with his life, if need be. He noted vaguely that Trevor had assumed a similarly tense position. NOTHING was going to hurt Robert again. Not on HIS time.

Of course, less than a second later he felt like a complete idiot. "Hoi. Grandmother," he greeted in the language of the tribe, "I apologize for my rudeness. My young friends were startled."

The old woman chuckled, her cataract-inflicted eyes becoming amused slits beneath the silver-streaked flat black of her hair. "As were you, Warrior," she smiled, "But I also apologize. It was not my intention to frighten your young men. The manitou didn't warn that the young one was so shaky. It is well that I found you when I did."

One slender blond brow arched as Elliot gazed at the woman, ignoring the questions coming from the back seat. "I wasn't aware that the manitou had taken an interest, Grandmother."

A slight cackle. "The Mysteries, great and small, take interest in anyone touched by the Trickster as the young one is. The kachina-hey say he is tainted. Ridden by what your people call devils. He dreams, does he not?"

"Yesss... yes, he dreams. Dark and disturbing dreams, but still... dreams."

The woman nodded, pulling a small package from the satchel hanging from one bony shoulder and dropping it in Elliot's lap with a muttered blessing he couldn't quite make out. "You will know what to do with those, Grandson," she said, finally answering his greeting of respect with one of acceptance. "They are... a gift from the manitou."

And that had Elliot's eyes wide as he glanced quickly at Trevor in the rear view mirror. "I need something, Trev," he said quickly in English, his eyes on the woman again. "Shit, I should have planned better.. give me that Walkman you bought this morning. It'll have to do."

"El... what the fuck? I just GOT it and..."

"I'll get you another one! Give it here. NOW!"

The blond smiled at the old woman and nodded his thanks as he returned to her language. "I accept this gift of the manitou, Grandmother... and I ask that you accept this small token on their behalf. From myself and my... young men. I... further thank you for your welcome as we are not of your tribe."

The woman grinned, revealing her five remaining teeth. "It was YOU, Grandson, who saw that our tribe received the remains of our beloved Joseph to be buried in ground sacred to us and with the proper rituals. You are as much of my tribe as he was and is." She nodded, taking the walkman and the package of batteries from him. "The Manitou will be pleased with your gift. Go with our blessing and let it remain over you whenever you are within our lands."

"And that is a greater gift than can ever be returned in kind, Grandmother," he said nervously, remembering the things Joseph had told him in the years before that last mission.

"Your gift is in returning the boy to himself, Ghostwalker. And in your gifts being turned to life these last years. It is... pleasing to the Mysteries. Now go, Grandson, and be grateful for what you have found within you."

Elliot breathed a sigh of relief and nodded. "I am, Grandmother. I... my thanks." And with that he shifted the car into gear and started down the road again, not bothering to look for the old woman in his mirror. If she wasn't there, he didn't want to know.

Part Twenty

The two hours of sunlight had stretched his patience farther than Spike thought was possible. He could have found something to do, of course, but... somehow the idea of watching telly or even cruising the net couldn't compare with sitting just inside the door to the garden and watching his claimed browning ever-so-slowly in the sun, his skin gleaming with the shimmer of baby oil applied repeatedly.

He'd groaned silently every time the brown-haired length of stunning flesh had turned over, first showing him that lovely bum, then that beautiful cock.

His own cock had been weeping and hard since he'd started watching his beloved, but Spike wasn't complaining. It just meant his pet would have to make it up to him, after all.

A wicked smirk spread across his lips as the sun began to sink. It would be below the skyline any minute now, and that would be just... perfect, he told himself as he moved quickly to the bedroom and found their latest tube of lube right where he'd left it-- under his Xan's pillow.

It took less than another minute to strip himself to bare, pale skin then he was back at the door, carefully judging the angle of the light still bathing the garden in a deadly glow.
Harris chuckled as he moved slowly on the chaise. He'd lowered the top end, making a flat plane of fabric to lay on. Much better for even tanning, and better still for taunting his vampire. And he'd definitely been taunting him, he admitted silently.

He'd been able to feel the wanton gaze on him ever since he'd come outside and knowing Spike was there just made his movements slower, more languid. His legs spread just a bit more and he wriggled his ass, as though trying to find a more comfortable position for his cock and smirked happily as he caught the needy groan coming from the doorway though the sound only made him less comfortable.

Harris had been hard for over an hour and was kind of proud of the fact that he'd waited that long. It would have been so easy to just get up and go inside, but... no. He wanted his love to be so anxious for him that he'd come to HIM, not the other way around. And that was why he was anything but surprised when he felt the long, cool form pressing down on his sun-hot back as the light finally dimmed.

"Can I help you?" he asked smugly, the fabric beneath him providing a good bit of give when he rocked his hips playfully.

"Oh, you're goin' ta help me alright, pet... help me get over this ragin' bloody hard-on I've been puttin' up with for bleedin' ever..." Spike growled softly, his thick, ready cock laid against the perfect crack of his beloved's ass. "Bloody hell, Xan... watchin' you out here, smellin' you on th' air... knowin' you knew I was watchin'... wished I could come out here so bad... take you in th' sunlight..." His arms braced to either side of the broad, tanned back, wrapping around the steel tubes of the chaise frame. "Wanted ta peel you open an' drive inta you, pet... tongue first, tastin' you while you shivered... yah, like you're doin' now..."

His hips rocked faster, against the fabric then back against Spike, feeling that length press harder against him. "Fuck, babe... keep talking..." Harris moaned, his eye closing as he shuddered slightly from the words and touch.

"Top ta bottom, luv... lick you so right... an' when you couldn't do anythin' but moan, would have flipped you, sucked that luvly sac of yours... lay on you, lettin' your cock rub against mine while I tasted th' sweat an' oil on your chest... your neck..." His head dipped, blunt teeth nipping hard at the edge of the scar he could just reach. "An' then, luv... would have wrapped your legs around my waist an' dove right in, splittin' you wide an' hard for me, just th' way you like it..."

Another, louder moan flew from Harris's lips and he spread his legs wide, feeling his vampire settle between them. "Jesus fuck, Spike... plug... shit!"

He found himself sitting up, one hand on the small of his human's back while the other slid between the spread cheeks and found the base of the newest butt plug he'd gotten his beloved. "Wondered where that had gotten ta," he chuckled, slowly pulling the tool out. "Guess I should have guessed, yah?"

The brunette groaned, his eye squeezing shut for a moment as the thick rubber was removed. "Unngh... ya think...? Knew... you'd be out here... soon..."

Two fingers slipped into the relaxed hole, sliding slow and easy. "Planned alla this, did you, pet?" Spike stared at the deeply pink opening as he flexed his fingers wickedly. "Planned ta torment me with seein' you an' not bein' able ta touch...?"

"No... planned... oh, Gods, babe, yeah... to do that little... jesus fuck, right there... that dance you... like so... Christ, Spike!... like so... much..." Harris groaned. "Wanted t-to be r-r-ready..."

"Mmmm-hmmmm..." he added one more finger, nearly moaning at the delicious heat and the inherent tightness of his Claimed, even after hours of being stretched. "An'...?"

"And th-then... I c-came out h-here... Spike... p-please..." And somehow he always ended up begging, he realized with a smile, even as a breathy groan left him.

Spike smirked happily, moving his fingers harder, deeper, tweaking that little nub within his love. "Don't worry, Xan... goin' ta do you, pet... so good..."

"Gods... you always... do, babe... never been..." he groaned again, his cock throbbing against the canvas beneath him, "bad... never... not... even... once..."

And that was true enough, Spike admitted. Even on the rare ocassion when he'd been quicker than he would have liked, he'd still made his Xan scream his name. "Means I've got an average ta maintain, luv..." he observed, pulling his hand away from the tight grip.

He smirked deeply and settled himself back on his knees between his beloved's legs, his cock jutting proudly from his lap. "Lift up, pet," he demanded, swatting lightly at his human's ass and waiting until the stunning brunette moved. "Yah, luv... just like that..."
Spike murmured, his hands fastening on tanned hips and pulling the beautiful ass closer.

The tip of his seeping shaft barely touched his Xander's hole and he brushed it back and forth a few times, teasing the man while absorbing a bit of the slick around his anus.
"Spike..." Harris nearly whined, wanting the cool, blunt head rubbing against him to be IN him already. "Fuck, babe... now! Please!"

"Yah, pet," Spike breathed, raising himself a bit as he pulled those hips a few inches closer. "Enough waitin' an' teasin'..." He brushed that tiny hole one more time, then thrust himself deep, gasping as always at the heat of his Claimed. "Bloody hell!" he growled, his sac slapping hard against the warm one in front of him.

"Unnngh... yeah! Fuck, yes! Spike! Gods, babe! YES!" His cheek rubbed against the fabric as he pressed himself back, holding that long, thick rod as tightly as possible."S-stay... babe, please... j-just... s-stay f-for a m-minute..."

" 's long as you want, Xan," he whispered, his hips barely moving at all. It was just a subtle press and relax but it was enough for the moment, Spike knew. Anything to stay in the perfect sheath of his Claimed for as long as possible. His hands stroked the long spine, the tight cords of muscle framing it. His Xan was so lovely like this... shoulders and head down on the chaise, his bum raised almost waist-high, his legs splayed over Spike's, that now-red hole stretched wide around him... oh, yeah... he could wait forever like this if he had to.

Harris sighed happily, the soft flexing of his vampire's scant movements building the fire within him that much higher. "Gods... Spike... you feel so... right. Fuck, I..." His eye closed again, one blissful tear leaking from the corner. "I need you, Spike. Not just when we're... like this. But... all the time..."

And suddenly Spike found himself tearing up too in a most un-vampirelike fashion. His arms wrapped tightly around his beloved's waist and he pressed his chest against his back as much as he could without pulling himself from the man's channel. "Always need you, luv," he whispered seriously, a few cool tears hitting the warm skin, "From th' minute I knew you were still alive I've needed you, Xan... Xander. Scares me how much sometimes..." He shook slightly with the force of his own emotions.

He nodded against the canvas, swallowing hard. "Never leave me, Spike... okay? I..."

"Always yours, beloved... never goin' anywhere without you, yah?"

Another hard swallow, another nod. "Gonna hold you to that, babe..." Harris murmured, finally relaxing his sphincter around the adored shaft. "Love me, Spike... have me now, okay?"

And that was something Spike was more than happy to do. He lifted his chest, his arms releasing the toned waist as his hands found those tender, sun-kissed hips again. "Always goin' ta have you, pet... except when you're havin' me... an' I'll always luv you, Claimed... couldn't stop if I wanted ta."

He pulled himself slowly from his beloved's opening, watching as that sweet pucker closed. "Luv seein' you take me in, Xan... hearin' you moan when I slip inside..." He matched actions to words, pressing himself slowly inside as that tight little ring expanded, fitting itself to his girth. "Feels amazin', luv... 's like a soddin' benediction every time you let me touch you deep like this, beloved... can't get enough... can't imagine needin' you any less... or any more..." Spike groaned, pausing to just rock against his human once he was fully encased again.

"Gods... Spike..." Harris gasped, each word tugging at something deep in his heart and in his groin. "I... fuck, babe, I'm so... blessed... having you... having you love me... need me... knowing you f-feel j-just like I d-do..." He pushed back slowly, trying to pull still more of his claimed into him, although it was impossible.

The vampire moaned softly, pulling himself back until just the thick, seeping head of him remained inside. "Would live... in you... if I could, luv..." his voice broke, the slow, sweet slide back into his heart almost undoing him. "Bloody... hell, Xan... could... do this... all night..."

"Unnngh... b-but I... c-can't... babe... Spike... p-please. I n-need..." He moaned low and deep, pressing back into his love again.

"I know, luv," the blond murmured, pulling back again then reversing the motion, "Need ta cum, yah...?"

Harris moaned again, shaking his head on the chaise. "N-no... S-spike, I... I need... to feel... YOU cum... f-filling m-me... l-love you... so m-m-much... p-please, babe... c-cum f-for me..."

"B-bloody hell... anythin' for you, X-xan..." His hips moved a little bit faster, a little bit harder, and when he felt that wonderful anus tightening around him, he shifted slightly, deliberately sliding back and forth over that small nub. His beloved wanted him to cum and he would, but he would be very sure to bring the man with him. "Join me, pet... Claimed, beloved... with me... c'mon, Xan... with me... luv... now... now!"

The huge, shuddering orgasm began slow and soft in the pit of his stomach, but before he even knew it, it burst through him. His heart pounded wildly, breath coming in deep shuddering gasps as he felt himself tighten all over. Harris keened desperately, his rear high and full as he felt Spike's shaft expanding just a bit more. "C-claimed...!"

And that word alone, in that tone and that voice, pulled him the rest of the way, his sac hard and tight, cock throbbing wickedly for just a moment before spilling long and deep into the well-loved body of his beloved. "Xander!" Spike growled, his features shifting fully and instantly as he filled his human to overflowing and reached beneath him, fingers wrapping gently around his spurting shaft, becoming coated in that hot, thick spunk.

"G-gods," Harris whispered a few minutes later, glad his shoulders at least were on the fabric supporting him. "Gods, Spike..."

"Y-yeah," the vampire agreed, unwilling to pull himself from that blissful channel any time soon. His arms wrapped around his beloved's waist again and he raised the man, dragging him up to rest against his chest, legs still splayed over his lap. His hands moved, finding the crooks of his Xan's knees and lifting him slightly, his own legs unbending to straddle the chaise as he lay back, taking the brunette with him, his cock still deep within his heat. "There, luv... that's better..."

Harris tried not to moan as the change of position pressed Spike's shaft deeper. "Oh... yeah... th-that's MUCH better, babe..."

He chuckled, moving his arms behind him and bending his elbows, resting on them with his love atop him, still impaled. "Just lay back, luv... can't let you go yet, alright?" Or ever, he told himself silently. His Claimed hadn't said anything about the Mating... not in over three months and Spike was being as patient as he could, but... he wasn't actually a patient man, or vamp or whatever. Sooner or later, the demon was going to demand an answer, regardless of the soul wanting to wait it out. "Need ta feel you, luv... lay back against me, yah?"

And what could he do other than relax back against his vampire's chest, Harris asked himself, even as he complied. He hadn't really gotten to tease Spike about his little crush yet, but... that was fine, he decided. Teasing could come later. Right then he just wanted to revel in the love and desire he could feel through the wide-open bond... and smile because he knew Spike was doing the same.

Part Twenty-One

New York had been interesting, Hypatia admitted freely, although she was less willing to admit to the way both Xander and William lurked in her mind. She couldn't help remembering how they'd looked that night when they'd been drunk... and apparently horny.

Yes, that had been... interesting, as well. Still, that didn't have anything to do with her, she reminded herself as she drove through Kansas. And what a flat state.

She supposed it was pretty enough, although she wasn't really there to sightsee. Not at all, actually. She was there because of something she'd come to KNOW while still visiting with the Claimed couple and telling them... part of the truth.

A part of her hoped that what she KNEW was... wrong... even while the rest of her realized that wasn't possible. The Powers wouldn't have told her anything they weren't sure of. Still, she wished...

But it didn't matter, she told herself. "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride," she muttered, pulling off the state route to take the back way to the outskirts of Kansas City.
Less than an hour later, she pulled into the parking lot of a large club.

Hypatia looked at herself for a moment in the car mirror then sighed. "Please let me be wrong..." she whispered before getting out of the car and pulling her leather coat out of the back seat of the rental.

The coat was new and purchased simply because she'd liked William's so much when she'd seen it, but it was also a stunning piece of workmanship. And it fit her as though it had been made for her, which it might have been, she figured. After all, she'd gone into the store she'd gotten it at because she'd just KNOWN there was something there she wanted.

And she was stalling, she realized, gazing at the club as she heaved a large sigh. Until she went inside, she wouldn't know for certain that what she KNEW was real and... she was happier not knowing. Then again, the Powers would NOT be pleased if she walked away.

They wouldn't punish her, of course, but... they had ways of expressing their disappointment. Besides, she'd made her choice, just as Trevor had. They both worked for the Powers, although in different ways. Luckily for Trev, HIS way involved having a lover... and another one soon, assuming all went well.

Yes, lucky for him. Not so lucky for her. So far she'd been pointed at three different countries and the closest thing she'd had to fun was teasing Trev and getting a vampire and his human drunk. Still, it beat the alternative, she figured.

Far better to travel the world than to be prisoner to either side in the true battle.
With that in mind she started for the club, passing rows of cars and a few slightly drunk people who appeared to be just... hanging about outside.

* * * * *

Well, it wasn't a dump, Hypatia admitted. In fact, as clubs on the edge of a city went, it was fairly nice. Not too many odd smells or stains on the floor and the people milling about seemed to be educated, she noticed after overhearing a snippet of conversation comparing the ancient Norse and Greek pantheons.

"Oh, if they only knew," she murmured to herself with a chuckle as she approached the bar. "Margarita, please," she yelled to the man behind the bar, "Rocks! Tall!"

She leaned back, elbows on the edge of the wood as the latest U2 song started to play. Who knew they'd still be just as popular as they'd been in the eighties? Still, Bono HAD done a few favors for the Powers in his time so she supposed it made sense.

The drink was on the bottom end of ordinary, but it would do its job, which was to be a prop as she wandered, looking for someone specific. She didn't know offhand what he looked like but she knew she'd recognize him when she saw him. Just as he'd recognize her on sight.

That was just the way it worked, after all. They always recognized each other. Knew each others' names instantly. Of course, because of what she retained from before, she already knew their names... and their gifts. She just didn't know what they looked like. Not until she saw them. It still gave her a decided edge, in the end.

She strolled through the club slowly, eyes darting this way and that as she sipped the disappointing margarita and plenty of people caught her eye. Unfortunately, none of them were the one she was looking for.

* * * * *

She'd ended up leaning against a wall near the dance floor after half an hour or so, figuring it was as good a spot as any for her surveillance. The margarita was long gone although she continued to sip at the slightly lime-tinged water from the melting ice. "Where the fuck is he?" she mumbled, irritated at all the people-- male and female-- who kept trying to get her to dance. She didn't dance.

Or not, she qualified, with people she didn't know and like... or at least find attractive. Hell, she'd danced exactly twice since she'd woken human and one of those times had been just to see if she could.

Finally she sighed and moved towards the bar again. Maybe she'd get herself a beer. At least then she'd look like she was in the place for a reason, what with her empty glass pretty much declaring that she wasn't there to party.

It was while she was waiting for her Heineken that she saw him.

He stood at the other end of the bar, apparently trying to order a drink. She knew him immediately, of course. "Ignatius," she muttered to herself, eyes narrowing dangerously. She hadn't thought he'd be the kind to... but obviously she'd been wrong.

She turned away quickly, not wanting the dark-haired young man to see her face if he looked in her direction. A ten dollar bill was tossed on the bar as her beer was delivered and she stalked off, not stopping until she was a safe distance away, her eyes finding and following the man as he got two drinks and strolled through the crowd towards...
"Bloody fuck. Ricardo. SHIT!"

TWO of them? Together? That was NOT supposed to happen!

"And what the fuck am I supposed to do now?" she demanded, not really expecting an answer.

Of course, she got one anyway because she suddenly KNEW exactly what she was supposed to do. Unfortunately, she didn't like it. No, more than didn't like it. She couldn't accept it.

"Not a chance in HELL!" she snarled at the Powers, although the tall redheaded man who'd been approaching her took it personally and veered off to find a less unwelcoming woman to talk to.

Hypatia snarled again then groaned as she suddenly KNEW what would happen if she didn't follow what she'd been told.


* * * * *

So she watched, moving slowly through the crowd, her eyes flicking to and away from the two men she was stalking. They'd feel her gaze if she stared too long, as she knew from experience.

She glanced repeatedly, watching Iggy choose his prey. Her eyes danced to and from him and Ricardo as Iggy chatted the girl up then bought her a drink... and she saw the small twitch as the shorter of the two men swirled some sort of powder into the girl's glass.

Her eyes hardened as she saw the girl take a sip then nod dazedly at Ignatius before following him from the club with Ricardo just a few feet behind.

Of course, SHE was trailing them herself and when she stepped outside she had no trouble figuring out where they'd taken the poor young woman. There was only one place nearby that was dark enough for what she KNEW they had planned.

She forced herself to walk softly, trying to keep the heels of her boots from clacking against the pavement as she moved to the corner of the building where the streetlight was burned out. It wasn't a place someone would take a lover; not even a one-time lover. It was too close to public. Of course, nobody would wander near there for that reason, too, and that made it perfect for what she knew was going on.

She stepped around the corner, one brow arching dangerously as she saw the recessed doorway and the man standing in front of it. "I thought you knew better, Ricardo," was all she said, flicking a finger at him and nodding her satisfaction when he jumped.

"Step aside. I won't let you two do this. Not again. You've already caused more harm than you know."

Ignatius sighed and pulled away from the girl he'd been about to sink into. He stepped from the doorway, tucking himself into his jeans slowly. "Hypatia Lee," he said slowly, sounding annoyed as he looked her up and down.

"Ignatius Farrell. Iggy," she replied, greeting him sourly, "And Ricardo Emanuel. Or should I call you Ricky?"

Ricky shrugged and gave her a smug smile. "Why be formal? We're family, after all."

"Yes," Hypatia sighed sadly. "And that fact brings me no joy whatsoever," she added quietly, "brothers."

Part Twenty-Two

"So wait. You really think dreamcatchers are going to work?" Trevor was irritated for a number of reasons as he watched his lover put the assorted circles of woven and befeathered charms up in all the corners, doors and windows of the small house. "Come on, El... it was just some old woman, right?"

Eliiot shrugged. "Maybe. Or maybe not. All I know, Trev..." He stopped what he was doing and turned to meet the dark brown eyes seriously. "All I know is... I've never seen that woman before in my life but she knew me. I wasn't in a car I've ever driven here before and she KNEW me. Knew about Joseph. Hell, she knew I arranged for his body to be sent back to the Rez." He shrugged again. "So... I'm taking it on faith that maybe the dreamcatchers she gave me could help Robert. And if they don't, then we haven't lost anything, right?"

"Except my walkman," Trevor grumped, although he had to admit that Elliot had a point. Of all the humans in the world, HE probably knew best that the Powers worked in their own ways and in their own time. "How did you know... whatever you were speaking, anyway?"

The blond smiled as he finished hanging the last of the mystical items. "Joseph Stalkinghorse was one of my team," he said softly, moving to Trevor's side. One arm wrapped lightly around the slender waist, pulling the brunette closer against him. "He was older than me but he didn't mind when I was promoted over him. Said he didn't have the temperament for command. He was right, actually." Elliot chuckled. "We became friends and... eventually, he taught me his language. Taught all of us, really. Not that we ever had to use it but it came in handy when we wanted to talk with superior officers present."

Trevor nodded slowly, pressing against his lover's side. It was the most contact they'd had since before Tulsa and he'd be damned if he wasn't going to enjoy it while Robert was checking out the barn. "Okay," he said with a smile after a moment, "Um, how did he... I mean..." As much as he'd known about Elliot, it was the truly momentous things he'd paid attention to. Like John. He had no idea of how he'd missed Elliot being... violated after his time in the service, but then again, that had been during the whole war against Angel thing at Wolfram & Hart, so maybe that explained it. That or the fact that the older man truly didn't dwell on it, unlike the way he'd dwelled on the John situation.

Elliot sighed. "It was a standard mission. Joseph just... managed to be in the wrong place when a volley of bullets flew by the rest of us. I... had his body smuggled back to the US and to his tribe. I never told anyone. Not even the rest of my unit. So you see, the fact that the woman knew…”

And Elliot's odd faith in the old woman made more sense, suddenly. "So she's..."

"Some sort of a power in her own right, I think... and maybe not even real the way we understand the word. Yeah." Elliot nodded quickly. "Uh, she also said... Robert is being... bedeviled. Or hag-ridden. In his dreams."

Trevor swallowed hard. "I... the screaming...?"

"Yeah... our poor darlin' is being tormented, Trev. And if these things..." he gestured at the dreamcatchers scattered around the place, "can stop that? I'll be damned if I'm not gonna use them, okay?"

"Yeah," Trevor agreed, turning just a bit to wrap his arms hard around his El. "Me too, baby. I just... didn't know."

It was the apologetic look on his boyfriend's face that had Elliot pressing closer, soft, full lips finding equally soft though slightly thinner ones. "I know, love," he murmured gently, "I know..."

Robert sighed silently as he stood just outside the open door and watched the two men. They looked so... right together; so happy, aside from their worry about him. He just... wished he didn't still feel so used.

Still, it was for the best, he figured. He'd wanted both of them so much... from the moment he'd seen them, though those occasions had been years apart. And they were together. Happily so. And that meant that... even if he didn't feel dirty he didn't have a single hope of ever being with either of them.

Not that he wanted to, he reminded himself. He would never touch another man again... probably.

* * * * *

It was a slow, deep, hard kiss that they shared, and even though Elliot realized Robert was there about ten seconds into it, he didn't stop. His tongue tangled roughly with his lover's, hands roaming the strong, tense back and pulling him closer.

As much as he didn't want to distress their boy, he also didn't want to deprive himself or his boyfriend of general affectionate touches. He wouldn't have sex with Trevor until Robert was feeling a bit better, but... kissing him? Holding him? Touching him? Those things he could and would do without guilt.

Besides, if Robert saw them being loving and happy to touch, it might remind him that those things existed... that it was still possible to find joy in being intimately close to someone, especially someone who loved and WAS loved.

Finally, he forced himself to pull away then looked at the door as if surprised. He left his hand on Trevor's ass, though, fingers running gently up and down the pocket of the dark jeans. "Robert," he said with a smile, slowly releasing his lover, "How did you like the barn?"

Robert shrugged, trying to control his blush at seeing the two men so close. "Uh, it's nice... the, the loft especially. Bloody marvelous. The... the plasma telly alone..."

Trevor blushed a bit himself, somehow slightly ashamed of being caught, even by Robert, although he found the pink tone of the younger man's cheek somewhat encouraging.
"Wait... there's a plasma TV in the BARN?" He stared at Elliot and blinked. "Why the FUCK would you put it out THERE?"

Elliot laughed and finally stepped away from his Trev. "Because the barn is bigger than the house, baby. And the loft isn't really... barn-like. Besides, if you were looking for a place to rob, would you go for the house or the barn? Unless you were trying to rip off hay or something, I'm guessing the house."

He winked playfully then moved towards the kitchen. "We don't have much food here... mostly freezer stuff and cans but I'm sure we can scrape something together for lunch. Who's setting the table?"

Robert and Trevor exchanged one eye-rolling look then laughed and followed the older man. Elliot could be so domestic sometimes... and oddly enough, they both found it... sweet.

* * * * *

He found the other blond on the porch as the sun set across the lake. He almost didn't want to bother him, seeing how peaceful the older man looked. Still, he had some questions and... he had a feeling Trevor wouldn't have been able to answer them, although he was equally sure the brunette would have tried if asked.

"I... Elliot?" he started, then blushed deeply at the intense look the man gave him. "I'm sorry. I'll just... go..."

One arm snaked out, pulling the younger blond close to him but not TOO close. "No... stay, darlin'." His arm settled very gently over Robert's shoulders and Elliot nodded at the sunset. "You see it, baby? The colors... they're from all the pollution in the air now, mostly. But it's still beautiful, isn't it?"

His eyes followed the nod and Robert smiled a bit, seeing the amazing array of shades spread over that corner of the sky. "It is," he admitted, his own arm slowly-- skittishly-- slipping around Elliot's solid waist. "I... that orange shade... it's... brilliant."

Elliot tried not to let himself hope too hard. He tried to tell himself that the arm around his waist was just Robert trying not to be as... stand-offish as he'd been since Tulsa, but he couldn't help tightening his arm around the younger man's shoulders. "Did you have a question, darlin'," he almost whispered, not wanting to scare the boy off. "I told you I'd answer anything I could, right?"

Robert sighed and leaned against the taller man, well aware of the fact that the touch was purely friendly. He paid no attention to the fact that until they'd gotten to this place he'd rejected even those kind touches. Instead he blushed again and stared even harder at the fading strands of color in the sky.

"I... how long, Elliot? How... I... you keep saying I'll get through this but it already feels like forever and I just... HATE myself right now, and I feel... I feel so... dirty!" he sobbed quietly, tears forming in his eyes yet again, he noted with disgust. "I can't even think about... pleasure… without remembering what... and I... God, Elliot! H-how long is it going to take before I can... stand to be... touched?"

The older man sighed, pulling the smaller blond close to his chest and holding him tightly. His head dipped a bit, lips resting against one smooth temple. "I don't know, darlin'," he admitted. "It's different for everyone who... goes through it. For me it was months... close to a year. And I wasn't the same after, just like you won't be the same."

He pulled back just enough to meet weepy brown eyes. "Don't wait to get back to 'normal', darlin'. Because it's not gonna happen." One hand rose to stroke a tight, tear-streaked cheek lightly. "You're never gonna be the same again. You'll never TRUST the same again. But you'll make it through." Elliot nodded, giving the young man a confident smile. "I know you will."

He almost thought he should give up right then. He'd never be the same. Elliot had said it himself and he would know. And... the person he felt himself becoming since the... event... wasn't someone he wanted to be. "H... how do you know?" he finally said, almost begging for some sort of comfort.

Elliot smiled and stroked Robert's cheek again. It was time. He could sense it. FEEL it. And if he didn't say it now, he had a feeling it would never be said and that would be the worst thing that could happen to the younger blond, not to mention himself and his lover.

"I know, darlin', because... remember what we talked about in the car? About... thirds?" He bit his lip a little then smiled slightly, hoping to be comforting. "You're our third, Robert. Mine and Trev's. You're meant for us... or that's how we feel, anyway." He watched as the brown eyes looked confused then widened, and when the young man tried to pull away he didn't let him. "Calm down, baby... darlin', calm down."

He was panicked as soon as those words left the older man. Their third? There was no way. He couldn't... not ever! He could barely even stand to consider the idea of ever finding intimacy appealing again, and here was this man he trusted telling him that he AND Trevor wanted to...

But Elliot wasn't trying to hurt him. Wasn't forcing him to do... anything, except stay in his arms. Hell, the older man wasn't even hard as far as Robert could tell, so... he forced himself to calm, just as Elliot was asking, and that was when he realized how irrational he'd become.

Robert shivered slightly then relaxed into the tight hold on him, his eyes ashamed when he glanced for a moment into the pale and concerned blue ones just inches away. "I... I'm sorry. I just..." he sighed.

"Freaked?" Elliot suggested sofly, still holding the young man against him as he willed his cock to stay quiet. "I can understand that, darlin'. But YOU need to understand that we-- Trev and I-- aren't going anywhere, okay?" He looked down into wide and frightened brown eyes. "We came to you because we care for you, darlin'. And we both want you to be a part of us. You already are to US, but... with what's happened, we know it's gonna take some time."

He nodded slowly, still staring into those wide, disbelieving chocolate eyes. His hand stroked that cheek again, cupping it lightly as he let every emotion he felt for the man before him bleed into his own eyes. "We'll never push you, darlin'. Not ever. But... when you're ready... for anything... we're hoping it's us you'll turn to."

Robert shivered again, equally enticed and disgusted by the sensations flowing through him at the words. "What if it's not you," he finally said after a minute or so of tense silence. "What if I want... someone else?"

Eliot sighed softly, his hands roaming up and down the tense spine comfortingly again. "That's up to you, baby," he admitted quietly. "Trev and I... we have no control over who or what you want. But we'll still care for you and still want to be sure you're okay... and we'll still want you if you change your mind and decide to come back to us after."

And somehow that obviously honest statement had Robert's mind reeling. Hell, his mind was reeling so much that he didn't even notice the creaking of the screen door consciously. He only knew he'd noticed it on any level when the other large, comforting body pressed against his back and he didn't cringe.

"We'll always want you, baby," Trevor murmured, his arms wrapping around Robert's sides to touch his lover. "Even if you decide you just want to be friends. I mean, I figure that's pretty much all we've ever been, right?" His hands moved slowly up and down Elliot's sides and he knew Robert could feel what he was doing as well as his lover's subtle responses to it.

"That's MY fault," Trevor murmured against Robert's ear. "I should have made you mine when we first met. I wanted to, but I didn't know you were... interested. And I know you're feeling kind of lost right now, but... when you want to feel someone touching you again... and know that whoever it is loves you... needs you..." he placed a soft, swift kiss to Robert's shoulder, "I want it to be us too." He nodded, echoing his El's earlier comment.

And that just made him cry more, Robert noticed with a weepy frown. Of course, this time he was pressed tightly between two strong, lean bodies, both of which wanted him regardless of how unworthy and dirty he felt.

And if there ever came a day when he could think about... sex... without cringing... well, he knew who he'd turn to. He loved them, after all. Even if he didn't know how or when being attracted had turned into... that. It was enough that it had and that they would wait.

Part Twenty-Three

Another night of trying to write, when all Harris really wanted to be doing was wandering the city with his Claimed. It wasn't as though he hadn't done his time patrolling, after all. Still, if he was ever going to finish his new book he had to work on it and what were his choices, really? Spend the afternoons on it when he could be with Spike instead? Not likely.

So there he was, sitting at the desk in the corner trying to put words down while his mind wandered, imagining what his vampire was up to. Unfortunately for him-- and for his fans-- that wasn't getting it done. His deadline was getting closer and closer and he just couldn't seem to concentrate.

"Fuck!" he sighed, rubbing at the ache of his missing eye. "Okay. Lavelle is in Rome where he, Bunny, Rowan and her girlfriend Carter meet up with the lovely Mary. For whatever reason the beautiful dark-haired girl takes a liking to poor one-eyed Lavelle."
He frowned and read the last few paragraphs he'd written then shook his head before deleting them. "This should NOT be so hard. Hell, it's my LIFE! I lived it! So why can't I put it down on paper... computer. Whatever?"

Spike chuckled from the doorway, smirking when the young man jumped a bit. "Maybe, luv, because you don't want ta finish it... get ta th' end of that one an' th' next one's goin' ta have ta deal with Lavelle an' Mary not workin' out... an' th' YOU bloke starting ta write... might be a bit too close ta home for you, yah?"

Harris grinned. "You're home early, babe... it's barely even three." Then he sighed. "You're probably right, though. I mean, okay... I always admitted that Lavelle was based on me when I was a kid, but... I don't think I really want everyone figuring out that the things in the books really happened, you know?"

"So change it," he said with a shrug as he strolled over to kiss his Claimed. "Give th' Lavelle in your book a different life, yah? Th' one you always wished you'd have."

"Mmmm..." the brunette came as close to purring as he could then laughed softly. "So I should have him end up shacking up with Spark and having incredibly hot man-sex? Because I gotta tell you, babe... that's exactly the life I wished for after Sunnydale imploded, no matter HOW unlikely it seemed, what with you being dead and all."

Spike grinned and pulled his beloved from his chair then dragged him into the living room and collapsed on the couch, the brunette beside him. "Right, then. An' seein' as I did come home early an' you're stalled... how about we just give up on work for tonight, 'ey? We could go out or somethin'. Figure you must be hungry by now, luv. 's almost time for your four AM pizza call," he winked.

Harris laughed and shook his head, looking down at his bare feet and sweat pants. "And the reason I always order IN at night, babe? The complete and utter lack of desire to get dressed enough to go out."

"Think I might have bought us some more of that frosting, pet... could get even less dressed an' have a bit of a snack..." One dark brow waggled playfully under white blond hair, pulling a laugh from the human.

"Actually, I was thinking about ordering something from that all night sushi place, love... unless you'd rather go with the pizza after all?" It was a valid question, simply because Harris had never seen Spike pass on any of the human food in the apartment. No, if HE was eating, his vampire had to join in, even if it was just stealing bites from his plate and eating them VERY suggestively. "But I'll be sure to save some room for dessert," he offered, his own brows bobbing wickedly.

Spike sighed and pouted playfully. "Fine. Make me wait. Get your soddin' raw fish, see if I care."

And Harris had to laugh again, even while he moved closer and caught the soft, cool lips with his own warmer ones. His tongue dipped slowly and demandingly into Spike's mouth and he nearly crawled into his lap as he pressed himself closer still, one hand sliding up a cotton-clad arm and shoulder until his fingers tangled in short blond hair, his other hand finding the outline of one hidden silver ring and twisting lightly.

"I'm gonna make you scream tonight, babe... make you shiver until the only thing that'll help is feeling me cum so deep in you you'll be able to taste me..." he murmured against the cool mouth, his tongue diving deep again.

The vampire groaned, lips and tongue devouring the mouth on his willfully, teeth nipping gently at the twisting, teasing flexible muscle of his beloved, then sighed as the other man pulled away. "Bloody hell, pet..."

"So... tuna roll, right? And a spicy shrimp roll, babe?"

Spike pouted slightly, his eyes promising a reckoning later, but he nodded as he rubbed at the pronounced bulge in his jeans. "Yah... an' some of that seaweed salad, luv... an' don't forget th'..."

"Extra wasabi. I know, Spike!" Harris grinned and stood quickly before sauntering off to save his book and make the call. It was a good thing the place delivered quickly at this time of night. He really wanted his dessert.

* * * * *

He'd barely hung up the phone when it rang again, the caller ID showing Elliot's cell number.

"Hey," Harris said worriedly, "How's it going, buddy?"

Elliot's voice sounded less tense than it had in days when he replied.

"I think... pretty good, all things considered. He... let us hold him earlier. Without screaming, I mean."

"Okay... and that's good? Or am I missing something?"

"Well, compared to how he was before we got here, yeah, it's good. I... sorry about earlier. He doesn't know you guys know what happened, so..." a sigh.

"Oh... got it. Okay. So as far as Spike and I go, we just think you guys are on a little vacation." His voice sounded skeptical, of course. Robert MUST know Elliot's best friend knew. After all, the blond had been at his place when he'd suddenly run off for Oklahoma.

"Fine," another sigh, "Maybe he does know and he's just... in denial or something. Hell, I'm surprised he's not in denial about the whole thing. He's... stronger than I think even HE knows, Harris."

"But that's a good thing, right? I mean..." Harris nodded as Spike came into the small office. "Hold on, El. Spike's here. I'm putting you on speaker."

"Okay... so like I was saying, that's a good thing, right?" he smiled at his vampire, relaxing into the strong embrace he was offered.

"I hope so," Elliot said after a moment, "I'm just worried that... I don't know."

"What, mate? That he might try ta be too strong an' handle it all himself?" Spike frowned, his chin resting on his Xan's shoulder. "Doubt you an' Trev will let that happen, yah?"

Elliot sighed one more time. "Not planning on it, Will. At least he isn't having the nightmares again... Oh! That reminds me! Something strange happened... well, maybe not strange for you guys, but still..."

Harris felt his eye growing wide as his friend told him about the unusual Native American woman and her bizarrely appropriate gift. "Okay... and you're sure there isn't a Hellmouth there, right? Because that sounds like it has weird written all over it, El."

Spike snorted. "Not bloody likely. 's a Reservation, right? Holy ground an' all. Th' bad native boogedies aren't rightly known for traipsin' about in broad daylight, either." He shrugged, repeating what he‘d read in the book Anya‘d left behind that Thanksgiving with the bear.

. "Not sayin' it isn't odd, mate, but if young Bobby seems ta be even a little better, you might want ta stop questionin' it an' just go with it, yah?"

The blond on the phone was silent for a second or two. "I guess I'm afraid it'll go away. Whatever it is that's making him feel...I don't know. Not GOOD about what happened but... not so completely destroyed, either."

The vampire shrugged again, even though the other man couldn't see him. "An' maybe it WILL go away, bloke. Suggest you treasure it while you can, though. An' didn't you say th' old bird put a blessin' on you? Might be this is part of it."

Elliot's voice was a bit lighter when he replied. "I guess it could be. Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know we're here and... things are looking a little bit better. I... well, thanks for worrying."

"No problem, El... we know he's special to you, and... well, we just want him to be okay, too. You'll keep us in the loop?"

"Yeah... uh, Harris? He... Robert. He's special to both of us. We, uh... hell, we love him, okay? How's that for loopy?"

" 's a bloody good thing, mate," Spike said smugly. "Doubt th' Powers would have sent 'Patia ta Trev an' you if you weren't meant ta luv th' bloke, yah? Just needed someone ta kick your asses a bit 'til you saw reason."

"Okay... and that's an interesting perspective..."

Another snort. " 's what it looks like from out here, mate. Figure you might be seein' it some other way, but that's how it is, right, luv?" He arched a brow at his Claimed, his arms loosening around the dark-haired young man.

"Uh, maybe. But it doesn't matter, El. You guys will help him and things will work out. Just... let us know how it's going every once in a while, okay?"

"Yeah... I will. And thanks, guys. It really means a lot to me that you care."

"Later, mate. Sushi's here."

"I'll call in a couple days. Probably late again. I... wanted to wait until Robert was sleeping." A slightly guilty sound. "Bye, guys... and thanks again."

Part Twenty-Four

The remains of their dinner were in the fridge, extra wasabi and all. Robert was possibly going to be alright... eventually. And Harris was finished writing for the night, just as Spike was done with his rounds. That left only one thing to do for the two and a half hours or so until sunrise, the vampire decided.

"C'mon, luv," Spike grinned, pulling his Claimed towards their small garden. " 's a luvly night... clear an' warm... want ta see you in th' moonlight, pet. Luv th' way you look all coated in silver an' shinin'... 's hot."

Harris laughed. "I thought it was the sun that made me so 'hot', babe..." his fingers tangled with the blond's as they strolled outside.

A shrug and a deep, rich chuckle. "Nah... 's you that makes you so hot, luv... makes ME so hot, too. Like you are now... half-naked an' shimmerin'..." Blue eyes raked over warm, moon-limned skin, stopping at the waist of the sweats. "Pants, beloved... off now."

"Hmmm... see, that would make me all-naked, Spike. Not that I mind, but... you seem to be wearing WAY too many clothes." His warm brown eye slid over the cloth-covered form as he crossed his arms. "So. Shirts. Off. And the boots." His brow arched and he leaned back against a planter. "Now, babe. Or I'll just stay dressed until dawn."

And the bastard would do just that, Spike knew. Of course, since he hadn't planned on staying fully clothed, or clothed at all, really, that wasn't a problem. He'd learned that when his love crossed his arms like that, there could be a battle of wills. Fortunately, Xan usually only got demanding over things HE didn't mind a bit.

"Right, then, luv," he purred, pulling the t-shirt and long-sleeved shirt over his head then tossing them through the open door to the apartment. The boots were just as easy to get off since they were already untied. Spike simply toed them off, kicking them away as he arched a brow. "So, pet...? Pants now?"

"You first, babe," Harris grinned, his arms relaxing as one hand dropped to the tented front of his sweat pants. His fingers stroked slowly over his hardening shaft as he watched his claimed from just a few feet away. "Slowly, okay?"

"Well, well... someone's feelin' feisty, 'ey? Right then... this slow enough for you, pet?" His scarred brow arched slightly as his long, elegant fingers stroked slowly up the thighs of his pants to the first button of his fly.

He licked his lips, watching closely as first that one button was released, then the next, almost groaning as the dark fabric spread, revealing dark hairs and just a hint of that beautiful cock he craved so much. "Y-yeah, babe... just like that..." Harris's hand moved a little faster on his own concealed and already weeping shaft. "Fuck... Spike, I... wish you could see yourself. You're so... fucking... beautiful."

Spike smirked and undid the last three buttons then pushed the dark, soft denim down his thighs an inch at a time. "Know that, luv... I'm almost as bloody luvly as you are. Not quite, but... close enough, yah?" He shimmied his hips teasingly as he worked the cloth down to his ankles, fingers pushing his socks down and off at the same time. "Oh, bloody hell... seem ta be tangled up a bit. Hold on, luv."

Harris watched, swallowing hard as Spike twitched and twisted, somehow ending up bent over and facing away from him, that perfect pale ass waggling enticingly at him and... that was enough. His sweats came off faster than he would have believed possible even a year earlier and while he wasn't entirely sure of how he'd managed to move without trying, he found himself pressed hard against his vampire, his body bent over as well, seeking as much skin-on-skin contact as possible.

"Gods, babe... the things you do... to me, I..."

And that was exactly the reaction he'd been looking for. His Xan was feeling all manly and Spike would be damned if he wasn't going to take advantage of that little fact. Thus the turning and shifting. "Always goin' ta, Xan... but not tonight, yah...?" He pressed back against the wonderfully hard cock laying along his crack. "Think you're wantin' ta do some things ta me, though. What did you say? Make me scream an' shiver?" One hand struggled into the pocket of his discarded jeans and he removed the small tube he kept there for emergencies. "Been lookin' forward ta that."

"J-jesus fuck..." Harris groaned, "As many times as possible before sunrise, love..."
His hand found his beloved's around his waist, pressing the tube into it. "Best be gettin' started then, luv... we're burnin' moonlight here."

And just like that, Harris was laughing. "Gods, babe... you're such a romantic." He pulled away a little, opening the lube quickly and squeezing a bit onto his fingers before pressing one slick digit deep into the little pink hole his love was showing him.

Spike moaned quietly, straightening a bit as the finger slipped deep. "Don't need ta be romantic right now, pet... just need ta be fucked... so good an' deep, Xan..." He moaned again, louder, as a second finger joined the first, both of them writhing slow and sweet inside him. "Bloody hell, luv... hurry!"

The smile that spread across the brunette's lips was smug, even as he pulled his fingers from the amazingly tight sheath of his claimed's ass. "Hmmm..." he murmured, pulling the vampire fully upright, "No. I think I'd rather take my time, babe... do this right, you know?" His arms wrapped around the strong and slender waist, one hand dipping down to wrap lightly around the long, thick shaft he found there.

"Soddin'... you goin' ta fuck me or not, pet?" Spike almost growled, rocking his hips back and forth against his love's groin. "C'mon, luv... been all patient-like an' everthin'... let you order sushi an' all that, didn't I?"

"Shut up, Spike. I'VE been waiting ever since you left last night. We're gonna do this MY way," Harris snapped, entirely aware of how much his vamp liked it when he used that tone. Of course, that was why he usually saved it for ocassions when his claimed had been particularly well-behaved, so it didn't happen often. He walked slowly backwards, pulling his love with him until he felt the faux-stone wall against his shoulders, then turned them.

Strong pale hands were placed deliberately at shoulder height, palms on the rough surface as long, toned legs were spread and placed a few feet back, leaving that glorious spine stretched and arched, the wonderful ass presented for his delight. "That's better," Harris murmured with one slow lick to his vampire's anus before he straightened. "Mmmm... chocolate. Good choice, babe. Now don't move."

His human was trying to drive him insane. Again. Touching him, positioning him, licking his hole, for fuck's sake and then... telling him not to move? Spike groaned. "Know you l-like th'... choccy, mate..." He gasped, losing his voice as his Xan suddenly slammed those two fingers deep again, this time rubbing them hard against that small nub inside him. His hips rocked and he gasped again as a hard smack greeted the action.

"I thought I told you to hold still?" Harris said, chuckling softly as he felt that perfect hole tighten jerkily on his fingers. "Or do I need to get the special paddle, babe?" It was a rhetorical question, mostly because he had no intention of stopping what he was doing. Besides, his claimed wasn't moving anymore. "Maybe later, then..."

Another finger stretched him more and Spike moaned loudly as it pressed at his prostate as well. "L-luv... d-don't, I..." His eyes clenched shut and he tried to hold on.

It was a matter of a moment to squeeze what was left in the tube directly onto the length of his cock and drop the plastic to the slates. He spread it quickly, making sure to coat himself just enough but not too much. He knew what his love liked, after all. "Don't you dare cum yet, babe," Harris murmured, his fingers flexing against that spot again, "If you do, I'll have to... punish you later..."

"B-bloody hell...!" Spike growled, his features shifting as the threat combined with the blissful fingering had him spurting roughly at the wall. "X-xan...!"

Yeah, it never failed, Harris told himself with a grin. Offer Spike a nice little bit of painful sex and he'd blow like a schoolboy. He thrust his fingers harder, keeping the clenching of Spike's muscled ring from forcing him out, although he angled away from the blond's prostate. "And now we know what we'll be doing AFTER dawn, babe..."

He pulled his fingers roughly from the relaxing hole and spun the older man around, lifting him quickly and pressing him against the wall. "Legs around my waist," he commanded, staring into the blue-flecked golden eyes. "Now," Harris added, his cock seeping against his vampire's sac.

He could feel his own cum against his back as Xander pressed him against the wall but he didn't much care. His beloved was finally going to fuck him, and... judging from the tone of voice, it would be a true fucking. He truly adored each and every time they made love, but... sometimes the demon in him just needed a good rough buggering.

His legs rose almost on their own and locked around the solid warmth of his Xan's body and he growled again as he felt himself lifted just a bit more, the stone scraping against his spine. "Granted," he groaned.

"Damn skippy, it's 'granted'," Harris snarled quietly, his hands under the blond's cheeks, holding them spread further as he slammed himself deep into his love's amazing ass. "Fuck!" he cried, the sudden and complete sensation of the well-loved coolness surrounding him. "Jesus... fuck!"

His shoulders pressed hard against the stone, pushing himself harder on that blissful cock as the burn of the sudden entry and the fullness he felt made his cock swell thick and ready again. "Xan... bloody... do it ta me, Xan... give it ta me good..." He growled again, sharp teeth digging into his own lip as he waited for his love to move. "P-please, luv..."

The brunette took a deep shuddering breath then nodded slightly, his hands flexing on the toned, rounded ass as he lifted his love, almost pulling him off of his cock before reversing the motion and arching up into Spike's descent. "L-like that, babe...?"

His own hands dug hard into the tops of his human's shoulders, fingers clenching on heated skin as he was skewered roughly. "Yah... that's it... fuck Xan... don't stop..."

Harris groaned and repeated the motion, frowing when it didn't give him enough freedom of movement. "Hold on, babe..." he murmured, one hand sliding to Spike's back as he took the vampire's weight from the wall, holding the paler chest against his own. "Need to move."

Spike would have growled again but Xander was carrying him and staggering slightly and the last thing either of them needed was to fall over in a tangle, possibly hurting one or both of them. Fortunately, they didn't go far, he told himself as his human set him down on the edge of the wrought iron table. He laid back, his eyes locked on the wicked gleam in the deep brown eye. "More," he growled, his legs pulling the throbbing shaft harder into his aching ass.

"Remember you said that, babe," Harris groaned, his hands on tense hips as he pulled back completely, watching that tight little pucker close. "Let's try this again," he added, slamming himself fully, deeply, roughly into his love's body.

And that was more like it, Spike told himself silently, his eyes rolling back at the sheer force of both entry and thrust. "Uhhh... y-yah..." he growled, legs still flexing as his beloved rode hard in and out of him, sawing and shifting, battering the walls of his ass. "Xan..."

"Legs up," the human demanded, hands sliding under the crooks of Spike's knees when the vampire immediately complied. He pushed the bent legs higher, almost to the pale chest as he moved harder, faster still, angling for that one spot as he felt himself thickening more, his sac tight and rising higher towards his groin. "Spike... fuck yeah... Unnngggggh... take it! Take it a-all, b-babe... fuck, love you... love f-fucking y-you..."

Spike whimpered, his cock throbbing and trapped between his legs and chest as the shaft inside him moved so deep and hard he'd be limping happily for hours. "G-give me... it... Xan... l-luv... l-luv it... luv y-you..." He felt himself shuddering, his body shaking at the repeated slams to the sweet spot within him. His hands found his bent knees and pushed them apart, his cock bouncing from the release just as it pulsed hard. "B-b-blood-d-dy..."

His eye locked on the ecstatic expression on his love's face and Harris gasped his excitement at being the one to put it there. He slammed himself into that welcoming, grasping hole again, overwhelmed completely by the fact that he knew his own ecstasy matched his vampire's.

His cock throbbed harder, swelling still more as his balls hardened to a rock-like state. "Sh-shit... Spike... g-gonna... c-c-cum..." he managed to stammer, his fingers gripping the pale knees tighter as he nearly broke his own back he was thrusting so hard.

"XAN! B-bloody...! CUM! CUM, XAN!" Spike shouted, holding his legs even wider apart while his shaft jerked, then jumped, then spewed wild, white strings of slightly cool seed across his own chest, his own chin, his anus clamping tight around the battering ram inside him and trying to milk it dry as he felt the hot, thick wash of fluids fill him.

And as always, hearing Spike tell him to cum had him doing just that. His eye slammed shut and he pressed himself deep as his heart pounded so fast he couldn't breathe, and then he was flying, floating, losing himself in bliss and pure pleasure. He exploded in wicked, rough spurts, a loud wordless cry spilling from his lips as he reached the apex of his flight and came crashing wildly to earth only to find himself collapsed over his love, those long, strong legs around him again, holding him just as closely and tenderly as the equally strong arms around his shoulders.

"J-jesus... fuck, Spike..." he whispered after a few minutes spent trying to catch his breath. "G-gods, babe..."

"Bloody... hell, pet... never f-felt you so... deep, luv..." the vampire moaned, his entire body still shaking slightly. " 't was... amazin'..."

Harris nodded slowly, his lips at the crook of Spike's neck. "Did I... I didn't hurt you, right?"

His neck arched, pressing against those warm lips and he purred low and deep. "No more than I wanted you ta, beloved..."

The brunette smiled and bit the offered skin softly. "Good... but as soon as I recover, I'm gonna make love to you, slow and sweet. I think... I just need that, okay?"

Spike chuckled softly. " 's fine, luv... don't think I could handle another go like that just now anyway." His hands stroked the warm back slowly, frowning at the small cold-bumps he felt growing as human sweat reacted to the early morning air. "Might think about headin' in soon, though. Like th' bed best for makin' love, yah?"

Harris smiled again, reluctantly pulling himself from Spike's abused ass. "Yeah, babe... bed it is."

He'd been right, the vampire thought with a chuckle as his Claimed helped him from the table. He was definitely going to be limping a bit. Still, it was worth it.

They made their way inside, holding on to each other for support and finally collapsed on their bed. They didn't deliberately go to sleep, but neither of them fought it, either. They simply wrapped around each other in a pleasantly tangled mass and drifted, knowing they'd pick up where they'd left off as soon as they woke.

Part Twenty-Five

Iggy-- or Farrell as he prefered to be called-- let his irritated gaze sweep over the woman. "You chose well. Your body, anyway. What do you want?"

"Gods, Farrell, shut up! She could..."

"Do exactly nothing to us? Yeah, I know, Ricky. We can't harm each other, remember?" He stared at Hypatia, crossing his arms. "Well? I'm waiting."

She looked around, one brow arched. "If this is really where you want to have this conversation, fine. It'll save me some time."

She brushed past the two men and stepped into the recessed doorway, straightening the drugged blonde's skirt and turning her to sit in the doorway, propped against the door. With any luck, she'd think she'd just gotten drunk and wandered off before passing out.

"As for what I want," she continued coldly, "I want to know what the HELL you two think you're doing! This is NOT what we became human for, in case you've forgotten."

Farrell laughed, truly amused. "We became mortal, sister-dear, to FEEL. To exercise free will. Unfortunately for you and your precious 'Powers', MY free will tells me that this is JUST what we should be doing."

Hypatia blinked, her stomach rolling sickly all of a sudden. "And you, Ricky? This is what you think is right? You're not worried about what you're doing to innocent people, to yourself, even to your sou..."

"Oh, I know you're not about to say 'soul'." Farrell was laughing again. "Or haven't you figured it out yet, sis? We don't HAVE souls. How could we? We may be mortal and have human bodies now, but we're NOT human. Not on the inside. How can you not see that?"

He obviously believed what he was saying; it was clear in his eyes, his face. The only question was how he'd gotten such a bizarre idea.

"Don't tell me you're buying his line of bullshit Ricky. Is that why you're letting him tell you what to do? Letting him make you hurt people?"

"Nobody's getting hurt!" Ricky finally said, glancing at Farrell quickly. "They don't remember it and... come on, Hy. It's just for fun! Besides, Farrell's right. We DON'T have souls. None of us. If we did, do you really think I'd be..."

Her violet eyes narrowed and she wanted to scream. "So you DO buy his crap. That's perfect. I suppose I chose my body better than you did yours. At least mine has a functioning brain."

The shorter, darker man laughed again, bitterly this time. "You really HAVEN'T figured it out yet, have you? We. Have. No. Souls. Because WE aren't HUMAN. Or to put it another way... the souls that were born to our bodies, sister...? They DIED with the brains and bodies for that moment before WE took over. We moved into empty shells. A few memories but no personalities, no SOULS!"

His smile was just as bitter as his laugh had been. "WE provide the... spark. Not anything born of light. We may be mortal, but we are NOT human, Hypatia. Not in any way that counts. There is no Heaven or Hell dimension waiting for us. What we do... doesn't matter."

* * * * *

She'd waited for long, stunned seconds, waiting for the Powers to tell her Iggy was lying... that he misunderstood or was just plain wrong. Then she'd waited for even longer disillusioned minutes, still hoping as the two men stared at her.

"That... I... it isn't..." she frowned and swallowed hard, shaking her head. "I refuse to accept that. It can't be true. If it is, then... our whole existence, the deal we made, our whole purpose is..."

"Death and nothingness," Ricky said sadly. "We're just here to feel. And when these bodies... die, we'll just disappear. And maybe that was the plan all along. The Powers couldn't kill us while we were one and eternal, could they? We were too strong. But if they could trick us, get us to choose mortality, then..."

"They remove a whole lot of power that could be used against them someday," Iggy finished for him. "And it worked, didn't it?" He frowned. "Do you get it NOW, Hypatia? Your Powers SCREWED us. Me and Ricky... we're just screwing them back a little is all."

"No," she almost whispered, backing away towards the girl who was still collapsed in the doorway. "I don't... I WON'T believe it! They're just... testing us! Yes, that's it! The Powers are testing us and you two are going to FAIL!"

Farrell shook his head and looked at Ricky. "Let's get out of here, bro." He glanced back at the tall black-haired woman. "When you realize we're right, Hy, find us. We'll teach you how to have some REAL fun."

She barely even noticed them walking away. She was too busy listening to the echoing silence in the corner of her brain where the Powers should have been telling her that Farrell and Ricky were wrong.

Part Twenty-Six

He woke with a sudden jerk, his eyes widening to stare at the empty bed around him.
"El? Robert?" he called, worried somehow that... but no, he knew they'd never leave. Not without him, anyway, no matter what the tiny voice in his head insisted. It reminded him of the dreams he'd had when he and Elliot had been... strained.

That little voice grew louder by the moment until Trevor was almost ready to scream. His hands roamed the sheets, hoping to find some lingering warmth that would tell him the others had just gotten up and were maybe making coffee or in the bathroom or... something. Something simple, something innocent, something that didn't end with him being alone.

And again, he wanted to scream at finding only cool, soft cotton.

He should have known, he thought sadly and angrily. Should have known they'd... and why wouldn't they? Both of them so... born human, so amazing. How could he compare, much less compete?

One hand rose to his mouth and he gnawed at a cuticle as he tried to stay calm.
They knew what he was, knew where he'd come from. He should have expected them to just...

"Trev?" Elliot frowned at his lover's furrowed brow. "You okay, love? What's going on?" He paused in the doorway for a moment then moved as quickly as he could to the bed without running.

He sat on the edge, one hand finding the dark-haired man's shoulder and rubbing it lightly. "Baby...?" he tried again, becoming even more confused when the younger man suddenly flung his arms around him and held him hard. "Trev... what's wrong?" He was actually scared.

Trevor shook his head and held on to the older man harder, a broad smile crossing his face as he pressed himself closer. "Nothing... nothing, El. I'm just... not used to waking up alone anymore, I guess. I'm fine."

One slender blond brow arched even as Elliot's arms wrapped around his lover's sleep-warmed body. "Ah... guess we should have woken you, then." He had no idea of why Trevor was lying to him but... it didn't seem important at the moment. Not as long as Trev was holding him so tightly, and definitely not when...

"Robert wanted to watch a movie on the plasma screen. I was just getting him settled in the loft with a few DVDs and snacks for after he finishes his breakfast." He didn't mention the part about Robert saying he'd be out there for at least a few hours and not to worry about him; that he'd be fine there if Elliot and Trevor wanted to spend the time getting 'reacquainted'.

And suddenly Trevor felt incredibly stupid. No, more than stupid. He felt like the idiot his sister had called him. That didn't keep him from rubbing his cheek against Elliot's shoulder and purring, though. And why the HELL was he feeling so uncertain? He was SURE about him and Elliot, and equally sure about the both of them and Robert.

"Mmmm... what's he watching...? And don't I get any breakfast, baby?" He lifted his head, his eyes bright and warm brown as he met the pale, shining blue ones mere inches away.

Elliot laughed softly. "He's got the Die Hard trilogy, love..." he murmured, leaning in for a slow, thorough kiss, pressing Trevor back against the sheets slowly. "And you'll get breakfast... as soon as I have mine..."

It was the smug and suggestive look on El's face that told him what the other man was talking about just as much as the nimble fingers dipping into the waist of the 'Montana' sweat pants he'd bought when they'd stopped the day before. "El... wh-what are you...?"

The blond smiled softly and pressed his lips to the younger man's again, the tip of his tongue tracing the seam of his lips for a moment as his hand moved lower under the soft cloth. His free hand stroked silky dark hair back from the unlined forehead as he pressed into the hot, wet cavern of teeth, tongue and gums.

Those strong, slightly calloused finger wrapped around him and Trevor gasped, finally participating in the wickedly, sinfully desired dance of tongue on tongue. "Gods! El!" he gasped, dragging himself away from that tempting touch, "We... can't! Robert!"

"Robert's happy in the barn, baby," Elliot murmured, the loss of his lover's mouth simply sending his lips across one slightly rough cheek to the soft dangle of an earlobe. "He'll be... busy... for at least a couple hours." He nibbled that lobe, then sucked at it gently as his hand began a slow, stroking motion on the flesh it was wrapped around. "I'm hoping," he breathed wickedly, "That we will be too..."

Trevor groaned, his cock springing quickly to life as his head pressed back against the bed. "Gods... El... I've missed..." He sat up slightly, dragging the t-shirt over his head and tossing it aside. Less than a moment later, he found himself supine again, one hand resting on Elliot's head, fingers tangled in short blond hair. "Gods, baby... I'm so yours..."

He smiled against the sleek neck as he moved lower, lips and tongue caressing strong pecs, nuzzling through the small diamond-shaped patch of soft dark hair between. "Missed this too... Master..." he whispered teasingly, slowly laving one small nipple, teasing it to a tight point.

"Fuck," Trevor moaned, his hand on the blond's head pushing him lower at the reminder of the original state of their relationship, although it had definitely become more fluid in the last few months. "That's a good boy," he murmured shakily as he felt his lover pressing soft, wet kisses down his torso. "Strip me," he said although his tone made it more a request than a demand.

Elliot smiled to himself, even as he pulled away from the soft olive skin and pulled his occupied hand from beneath the sweats. "I love obeying, Master," he murmured, slowly hooking his thumbs in the waist of the material and gently, carefully stretching the elastic to work it down over Trevor's throbbing shaft, tense thighs, flexing calves. Finally, he stood and moved to the end of the bed, one hand caressing each foot, stroking the arch as he removed the sweat pants completely. He dropped them to the floor and waited, his own sweats tented mightily.

Trevor shivered a bit at the knowledge that he would finally be with his lover again. It had been... days now, and maybe it was just because his body was so young, but... that was far TOO long, especially after their long drought not so long ago. Add in the fact that his El was just standing there waiting, and... He swallowed hard and sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed, his knees spreading wide as he wrapped his fingers around his shaft, stroking softly and slowly. "Look at me," he said, not commanding or demanding but simply... asking. "Tell me what you want."

His eyes found Trevor's first, then traveled slowly down his body, finally stopping at the beauty his love held in his hand. "Let me taste you, Trev... feel you in my mouth. I want... I want to make you cum. Will you let me?"

The brunette frowned and shook his head suddenly. "Shit. I... El, would..." he sighed and stood, moving towards the other man quickly and pulling him tight against him. "I don't want this," he finally said.

Elliot blinked in the close embrace, almost thinking his heart was going to stop beating. "I... you don't want...? What, Trev?" He frowned and squeezed his eyes closed. "Y-you don't want ME?" He wished he'd been expecting it, but he really hadn't. He'd honestly thought that... being just an ordinary human was good enough, but... obviously he'd been wrong. He steeled himself for the words he feared were coming, although he knew that even with years to get ready it would still hurt to know for sure.

And apparently he wasn't the only one who was still kind of insecure, Trevor realized even as he shook his head and kissed Elliot hard. "No... never that, baby..." he murmured, holding the older man closer still as his hands roamed his clothed body needily. "I just..." he pulled back a bit to meet the confused blue eyes. "Can we just be us? Elliot and Trevor? I... fuck, I just... I don't want to play Master, okay?" He blushed slightly and gave his lover a sheepish smile. "I'm not saying we won't be pulling out the collar and leash again, but... I think... haven't we moved past that, baby? Can't we just be... us?"

It wasn't what he'd be expecting; in fact it was something he'd only ever hoped to hear. Then again, they'd been mostly just 'them' for a while, but... he'd thought Trev missed the way they'd been in the beginning. Of course, he hadn't enjoyed it as much as he'd expected to on the occasions when Trevor had played servant to his Master either, so... "Yeah, baby..." he murmured, his arms finally returning the tight hold as his lips found one soft, prickly cheek. "Us. I'd love that..."

Part Twenty-Seven

"Gods, El," Trevor mumbled nearly incoherently, his entire body arching against the bed as the blond swallowed him. "You're so... good with your... mouth... fuck, baby... want to taste you, too..." His fingers flexed roughly in the blond hair, stretching the tight scalp as his legs wrapped wildly around the top of Elliot's shoulders.

Elliot chuckled silently, swirling his tongue around the tip of Trevor's long, slender cock. He lifted his head for just a moment, giving his lover a heated look. "Later, love. I told you. I get my breakfast first." He grinned then dropped his lips to that tasty shaft again, taking it in quickly and scraping his teeth ever so slightly over the tip on his way down.

"Elliot!" hands making fists in the satin hair, "Gods! Uh... too long!" He couldn't bear to watch that wonderful mouth stretching around him, swallowing him wildly, wickedly, needily. But he couldn't bear not to watch, either. His eyes locked on that bobbing head, even as he felt himself tightening. "El... gods, El... shit, I'm..." His back arched harder, eyes slamming closed as he unloaded himself in fast, rough spasms down the blond's throat.

His grinned around the spurting length of his lover's shaft as his tongue continued stroking the thick vein on the underside, the muscles in his throat clenching and pulling a few more small splashes of slightly salty and purely Trevor-flavored fluid from it before finally pulling reluctantly away, his own cock dripping steady streams of nearly clear liquid on the sheets. He smiled smugly, looking up into the wide, sated brown eyes and licked his lips.

"Mmmm… breakfast of champions," he murmured, crawling up the relaxed and slightly trembling form to press a slow kiss to the parted, panting lips.

Trevor laughed softly, the sound somewhat shaky. "Gods... love the... way you... taste me, baby..." He finally managed to let go of Elliot's hair, his hands sliding down to rest on the pale skin of the other man's back.

He shifted slightly, feeling Elliot's hard cock against his thigh. "You didn't... shit, I need you to..." He swallowed hard, still trying to breathe regularly. "El..."

He grinned and kissed Trevor again. "There's no rush, love," he whispered, lips finding the younger man's ear once more. "We've got at least another hour and a half, and... I can wait until you catch your breath. I've been trained, after all."

And that would never do. Not for him, Trev thought. Sure his El had been trained, but... he'd rarely denied Elliot anything and he'd be damned if he was going to leave the man just... waiting while he-- Trevor-- recovered.

His hands moved slowly over the silky pale skin and he rocked up against the seeping shaft he felt on his leg. "I don't care," he whispered, turning his head to nibble the neck he could just reach the side of. "Want you, El... I... baby... like you said, we have time. I'd rather... spend it with... us taking turns. I need to feel you, El. Need that so bad...."

Elliot groaned softly and shook his head against Trevor's shoulder. "I was... totally single the last time I was here, Trev. I don't have anything to..." He sighed. "No lube, love. Didn't even think about it." And while that wasn't strictly true, he wasn't about to use the sterile lubricant Trevor had bought for him to examine Robert with. He'd rather be hard for weeks on end.

Trevor frowned deeply. The first chance they'd had to be together for days and they couldn't...? No. He wasn't going to accept that. He pushed Elliot from him, settling the older man on his back. "Wait here. I'm going to find SOMETHING. And whatever it is, baby, we're going to use it. I just... fuck, El, I need you, okay?"

He didn't even wait for a response. He just rolled from the bed and stalked naked out into the living room then the kitchen. There had to be something. There just HAD to!

Elliot sighed and chuckled at the same time. He didn't really think Trevor was going to find anything, but he was rooting for him. Worst case, when Trev came back empty-handed, he'd at least feel that incredibly talented mouth on him. And then... well, nothing wrong with repeated blow jobs, was there? He frowned slightly and made a mental note to pick up some lube the next time he went into town.

He'd have to go anyway, if only to see what his contacts had found out about whoever raped Robert.

His eyes glittered darkly as he imagined wrapping his fingers around the neck of the man, whoever he was, and squeezing... squeezing hard and tight until eyes literally popped out, until purple became set in the swollen, distended features.

Not that he would do it that way. That would be too obvious. Still, it was a nice fantasy, even if it did make his erection flag.

Elliot shook his head slightly and focused his mind on Trevor... Trevor's mouth, Trevor's lips, Trevor's tongue... and he smiled as his cock rose again to the proportions it had displayed before his lover left the room.

* * * * *

There was a time when a sweaty, bloody and pissed-off Bruce Willis would have had Robert sighing longingly. When the first film alone would have had him throbbing and indulging in a nice solitary wank. Unfortunately, this wasn’t that time.

Then again, he’d been paying less attention than he ordinarily would have, mostly because his mind kept wandering to the two men back at the house.

He had a pretty good idea of what they would be doing in the big, soft bed they’d all slept in and while the idea still made him cringe slightly, it also… didn’t.

And maybe that was a good thing, he told himself. Maybe it meant… something.

He frowned slightly and shook his head, trying to focus on the movie. He wouldn’t let himself examine what it MIGHT mean yet. It would be far too easy to get too hopeful and… he wasn’t entirely sure that was a good idea. Not so soon.

At least the dreams seemed to have stopped, Robert thought with a certain sense of satisfaction. And if they stayed gone, then maybe… maybe he really could find a way to… recover.

He hoped so… as much as he was allowing himself to hope, anyway. He didn’t want to let Trevor or Elliot down…

He tried to ignore the tiny voice at the back of his head that promised him he WOULD recover… and that the two men he cared so much for were likely to be a large part of that recovery.

Pretending he didn’t hear that voice didn’t stop him from smiling slightly and taking a handful of the popcorn Elliot had made for him earlier as the first film ended and he started the second, hoping the couple in the house were enjoying their time together as much as he was-- surprisingly-- enjoying his time alone.

* * * * *

And God bless Trev’s ingenuity, Elliot thought with a moan as he slid slowly into his lover’s tight, round ass on the not-quite-slick-enough trail of extra virgin olive oil. He held the younger man’s back against his chest, one arm wrapped under him and across his body, fingers slowly twisting a small, peaked nipple as his other hand stroked that long, slender shaft in time with the slow, careful thrusts. “You okay, Trev…?“ he murmured on a groan.

The sensation of Elliot spooned up behind him, that long, thick cock gently splitting him wide… it was even better than he’d expected; better than he remembered. His hips moved slowly, rocking back into the soft thrusts then forward into the strong, agile fingers wrapped around his own cock. “Gods, baby… never… better,” he sighed, his voice low and needy. “Need… to buy… lube, El…” He gasped quietly. “S-sometime… not today. Gods… so… good, baby… love it when you…”

Slow and gentle, Elliot reminded himself, slow and gentle. It was why he’d chosen this position, after all. He couldn’t go too deep or too hard this way and… it was just right. A reaffirmation of love and need after the heartache of finding Robert the way they had and everything that had come after. Yeah, he thought with a soft smile, stroking his cock gently against the hard little nub inside his lover repeatedly, slow and gentle would get them there just fine.

“Love doing it, baby… Christ, you feel so good, Trev… so mine… so…” he whispered into one ear, tongue tracing the almost delicate curve, “so RIGHT, love… God, I want you in me…” He groaned his way through a chuckle at the sudden tightening of Trevor’s muscles around his rocking shaft then slid himself against that small spot again.

“Uhnnn… n-next time, El… fuck, baby… oh, Gods…” Trevor moaned, the near-constant stimulation of his prostate making him shudder and press back harder onto the impaling, wonderful cock. “Elliot… I… fuck, I…” He groaned loudly, his own cock throbbing harder within the tender, loving hand stroking him so gently.

Elliot smiled, his hand dropping slightly to cup the tensing sac just below that pulsing flesh and he pressed a slow, wet kiss to the nape of his lover’s neck. “It’s okay, baby,” he murmured, his voice reflecting the intense need-want that filled him as he pressed himself closer, his own sac becoming just as tight. “Go on, Trev… cum for me, okay? Let me… feel you… Christ, baby, so good… so hot… want to feel you…”

He squeezed lightly at the full, hard balls in his hand and muffled a deep, low cry against Trevor’s shoulder as the tightness surrounding him became tighter still, clenching wickedly and pulling him in harder. “T-trevor…!”

Heated brown eyes closed quickly, the lack of visual stimuli letting him focus on the sensations coursing through him. He pressed back harder, the heavy, rich swell of Elliot’s shaft against the little point inside him pushing him that final minuscule distance until he shuddered slowly, his spine arching as he released one sharp, happy cry and spilled thick white fluid over his lover’s hand and the sheets. “G-gods… El…!” he moaned shakily.

“Trev…” he moaned back, forcing himself as deep as he could as he felt himself start to shake, shudder and break within the adored form of his man. HIS man… his and another’s, but that didn’t matter. His fingers pinched the straining nipple between them even as his other hand slid up, gathering the slick seed his Trev had spilled and as he spread it over the younger man’s belly he finally let go completely, keeping his word and filling the younger man to overflowing, but… gently. Perfectly. Adoring and awed.

Part Twenty-Eight

Spike smiled as he leaned against the door jamb, watching his beloved typing away like a… well, like a demon actually, those long, tanned fingers stabbing willfully at keys.

“Figured it out, ‘ey luv?” he murmured, moving across the small room to press a slow kiss to his Claimed’s cheek.

Harris chuckled softly and saved the document before turning to return the kiss although his was on the sexy and stunning blond’s lips. “Mmmm…” he said softly, “I did, babe. Made Lavelle a sculptor. Something he takes up in Italy. He carves images of Spark from marble, molds them from clay… all sorts of things.” He grinned. “And I’m thinking Rowan maybe makes his best sculpture come to life, infusing it with Spark’s spirit and demon both… eventually. After Mary and everything.”

Spike laughed, pulling his beloved from his chair. “Knew you’d find a way, pet. Never had a single bloody doubt.”

“Hey! Working here!” Harris complained playfully, hands stroking firmly over cloth-covered muscles. His lips found their way to the edge of Spike’s jaw, nipping lightly before sliding down to dance over the barely there scar on his vampire’s neck.

“Yah, an’ that’s why you saved th’ bloody thing, ‘ey?” he answered with a smirk, leaning in to the warm caress as his own hands greedily roamed soft, humanly heated skin. “Noticed that, didn’t I?” he purred.

The brunette chuckled, taking one long, slow lick at the pale neck before pulling back. “Guess so, babe. So… why are you here, Spike? You’re usually out… somewhere by now... doing whatever it is you do.”

Spike pouted a bit as his beloved returned to his chair then shrugged. “Was bored, pet. Missed you. Thought I’d see if you wanted ta come out for a bit,” he answered, his eyes raking slowly over the tanned skin of his Xan’s chest. “Or stay in for a bit. That’d work for me too.”

It was the suggestive brow-waggle that had Harris laughing again. “And once more I say ‘energizer vamp’, babe. But I really need to work on this…” His voice trailed off as his vampire’s pout became deeper and he shook his head at what a wuss he’d become. “Fine, fine. We’ll go out.”

And the killer pout worked every time, Spike thought with a grin. Besides, he had a plan and that plan involved getting his beloved the hell out of their place and somewhere else. Getting the human drunk and maybe finding out whether he was still thinking about Mating or… maybe the bloke had decided against it, as he expected, and just didn’t want to say so.

His Xan was sweet that way. Wouldn’t ever say anything to hurt Spike’s feelings if he could help it. Still, the vampire wanted to know… it would be kinder-- better-- for him to KNOW rather than be running around with the question burning inside him and no answer in sight. The uncertainty was driving him crazy, in his head where nobody could see.

“Best be puttin’ some clothes on, then. Don’t much care ta keep interruptin' our time just ta kill th' blokes who'd be lookin' at you all lusty an' wantin'."

Harris shook his head, used to Spike's opinion of him by now but still not getting it. His vampire was the beautiful one, after all, and... Gods, who could blame anyone for noticing that? "Y'know, babe," he said with a grin, groping the blond playfully as he passed by on his way to get dressed, "It's a good thing I'm not the one with the killer instinct. There'd be one HUGE-ass pile of bodies by now if I killed everyone who looked at you."

Spike snorted and followed his Claimed to the bedroom, watching with satisfaction as the leather pants and silk shirt were pulled from the wardrobe. "Nah, pet... th' only reason anyone looks at me ta begin with is ta see who th' lucky bloke that got you is." He grinned, one hand sliding slowly over his own stomach when the human glanced at him. "Th' ONLY bloke that's got you, yah?"

He was smiling like an idiot, Harris knew, but that was okay. "Definitely, babe," he murmured, stepping closer as he settled the patch over his bad eye. "The one and only. Never gonna want or need any other guy," he added, pressing a soft, slow kiss to his love's lips.

"Good. An' seein' as we're in agreement on that, pet, we'd best be goin' or I'll throw you down an' ravish you right now," he purred, returning the kiss with a smile. "You need ta wear th' leather more often, Xan. Looks a right treat, it does."

Harris laughed and tangled his fingers with his blond's, tugging him out into the living room and towards the door. "I'll keep that in mind, babe," he answered, even as he made a mental note to go back to the store he'd gotten the pants at. He loved making Spike happy, after all, even if he was afraid to make him TRULY happy by Mating to him. Still, there were reasons for his reluctance, and not just the ones his claimed had mentioned before.

* * * * *

"Bloody hell, slow down, luv!"

Harris glared at the vampire over his shoulder and walked faster. "Leave me alone, Spike," he snarled, his hands clenched into fists at his sides as he strode angrily through the night.

"Fuck, Xan! I said I was sorry! I just... stop bloody runnin' away from me, you git!" He put on a small burst of vampiric speed, catching one strong, broad shoulder with a snarl of his own. "Told you I was sorry! What else do you want?"

He spun quickly, fists opening only to grab roughly at the lapels of the leather duster and push his vampire into an alley and against the brick wall hard. "What do I want? What do I WANT?" He eye narrowed dangerously, glaring deep into gold-flecked blue. "I want," he said, forcing himself to speak slowly and deliberately, "to know what the HELL you thought you were doing! Jesus fuck, Spike, I thought we were closer than that! BETTER than that! But obviously not!"

"Fuck! Don't you GET it?" Harris almost wanted to cry but he couldn't. Not yet. He was still too... furious. "I LOVE you, you stupid vampire! And you're SUPPOSED to love ME!"

"I DO luv you, pet..."

"Do you? Is that why you tried to get me all fucked up instead of just ASKING me whatever you want to know? Because that's not screaming LOVE to me, Spike!" He felt it building inside him, a memory of a feeling, a reminder of the good and bad old days. And when it rose in his chest looking for release, he let it go, teeth bared in a loud, harsh growl.

Dark brows rose, almost meeting white-blond hair at the sound, the vibration he could feel against his chest. "B-bloody hell... what th' screamin' blue fuck was that?" he demanded breathlessly, something about it going directly to his groin. "X-xan..."

He could feel the slightly smaller, slightly more slender body arching against him and he snarled again, shoving Spike harder against the wall. "No. I'm not letting this go that easy, Spike. I want to know WHY!" Harris stared harder into the wide eyes, trying to ignore the way his own body was responding to his lover's. Time for that later, he told himself... after he knew what was going on.

His own growl sprung forth without any direction from him and he rocked himself hard into the big, warm shape of his Claimed. "Didn't... want... ta push you, luv..." he grated out, bone and skin shifting quickly. "Wanted ta know! Been stayin' bloody silent for months now an'... FUCK!"

Harris glared even more, seeing challenge, desire and a small trace of fear in the golden eyes. "I told you," he said without a moment's pause, "that I was thinking about it. I PROMISED, Spike! You should have just asked instead of... tricking me!"

And that was part of the problem, Harris realized. He'd thought Spike wanted to spend time with him-- somewhere out of their apartment for a change. And that had made him feel so... good. So special. Like... his love had wanted everyone to know that Harris was HIS, and instead... it had all been a plot to pick his brain. It felt... well, it hurt. And pissed him off. "You should have asked," he said again, suddenly feeling cold.

"Pet," Spike began, only to frown when his human's head shook sharply. He found himself alone against the wall suddenly, watching the tall, strong form stalking away again. "Bloody fuckin' hell," he growled to himself before shaking off his true face and following, trying to sense what was going through his Claimed's head through their bond.

* * * * *

By the time he reached their building, the anger had transmuted fully to sadness and hurt feelings and disappointment-- in himself and in his vampire. He looked up at the towering edifice and sighed softly. If Spike had just... been honest with him, then maybe he wouldn't be debating whether he really wanted to go inside or not.

Not. That was what he decided a moment later. He didn't want to go up there, didn't want to go back to his new book, didn't want to have to stare around him at their home, their things and wonder when and how he hadn't seen that there was something wrong.

And there was something wrong. He knew that now. And whatever it was, it could be masked by frequent and brilliant sex but... just because it was hidden didn't mean it wasn't still there.

Harris turned away from 'home, the place' as well as 'home, the vampire'-- who he knew was still following him-- and walked sadly into the night. "I need to think," he tossed over his shoulder as he heard the small sounds of boot-clad feet starting again behind him. "Alone."

Spike frowned, feeling nothing but ghost-emotions over the link with his human. He could tell there was something bothering the bloke but... he had a feeling it was more than what his Xan had told him. The human couldn't possibly be that out of sorts just because he'd tried to pry the truth from him... could he?

He didn't want to let him go, not even for a minute but... "I DO luv you, pet... don't want ta lose you. Not by pushin' you for an answer an' not by waitin' too long ta get one." He sighed, finally stopping on the sidewalk. His shoulders slumped just a bit as the human paused for a second then kept walking.

He'd fucked up, Spike knew, although he wasn't sure of why he was surprised. He'd never been lucky in love, after all, and... apparently this time was no different than the others.

His feet dragged over rough and somewhat uneven cement as he turned and made his way into his building, sparing Andy a bare nod before disappearing into the elevator and beginning the long, slow ride up to the very empty apartment that didn't feel like home without his beloved inside.

Part Twenty-Nine

"Xan!" he almost shouted as he answered the phone, "Where the bloody hell ARE you? 's been HOURS, luv!"

"Uh... Will? It's Elliot. Uh, what's wrong? Where's Harris?" he sounded worried and bewildered, he was sure.

Spike groaned and thought about just hanging up. With his luck, he'd be talking to sodding Elliot when his Xan finally DID call. Then again, the bloke hadn't bothered yet so why would he now?

"Dunno," he finally allowed, trying not to sound as upset as he was. "Had a bit of a dust up, me an' my Claimed. He wandered off for some alone-time or some such rot."

"Okay... that's not good."

He growled. He didn't even try not to. "Think I already knew that, you daft git! Fucked up, didn't I? And now he's off wherever th' fuck he's gone an' I'm here an' I don't know what ta do, do I?"

A small chuckle came through the line, pulling another growl from the unsettled vampire.

"Look, Wi... Spike. I'm not laughing at you... or not really, okay? But come on. It's what? Six o'clock in the morning there? There are only two places I can think of that he'd go this early. The gym or my place. I gave him keys a while ago, remember?"

The vampire forced himself to calm down a little. Elliot was right. His Xan wasn't the type to wallow in some bar all night; especially not if he'd actually wanted to think, like he'd said. "Bloody hell," he sighed, relieved. "Yah. Right. Thanks, mate."

Another small chuckle from Elliot, then a slight throat-clearing sound. "So what did you do, anyway?"

Spike sighed again, furious with himself. "Somethin' stupid, bloke."

"Obviously," the other man agreed, "But HOW stupid?"

He shook his head even though Elliot couldn't see him. Then he told him what had happened, fully aware that he'd been an enormous git about the whole thing.

There was complete silence for almost a minute, then the slow release of a held breath. "You know, Spike, I'm not even going to remind you about his alcoholic father or the way Harris's mother used to give him booze to manipulate him. You already know those things."

Spike groaned. He did know but... his beloved was so different from the boy he'd once been that he'd... forgotten for just long enough to hurt him. "Bloody fuckin' hell..."

"Yeah, buddy," Elliot agreed. "But on the bright side, you didn't cheat on him or anything, so... unless something happened with Trev's sister that Harris hasn't mentioned...? No, Harris would have called and besides, I doubt he'd mind... you know, unless you guys left him out of it and I don't see that happening..."

It was a low, hard growl that had Elliot continuing on the original topic.

"Look, I know Harris. He's just off... licking his wounds. Of course, that's not to say he's going to come crawling back just because you're sorry, so... here's what you do..."

The vampire listened closely, his frown becoming less and less pronounced as the bloke spoke on. By the time Elliot finished, Spike was convinced he was another Einstein... although with better hair.

"Ta, mate," he finally said, sure his voice sounded lighter than it had since his Claimed had stormed from the bar earlier. "Think that's goin' ta work." He looked at the clock quickly and nodded. "An' I'm guessin' from th' time that you're callin' with an update on young Bobby."

Elliot laughed quietly. "Well, I was but I think maybe you don't want to..."

"Are you off your nut, bloke? My luv's goin' ta want ta know once I get him ta talk ta me, yah?" Of course, he didn't try to hide the curiosity and concern in his own voice. El and Trev were family, after all, and if they cared for young Bobby then that meant Spike cared too, although in a different way.

"Hold on, Will..."

Soft sounds of bare feet moving on wood, then on grass, vampiric hearing picking up the quiet shussshhhhing.

"Okay," Elliot said a little bit louder than before, "I'm away from the house now."

"Right, then. Bobby?"

Another laugh. "You know, he's going to hate it that you call him that. Or maybe not. Trev didn't get TOO upset when you started calling him Flouncy the Wonder-Ponce."

A throat clearing followed by a smirking chuckle. "Yah, well... bloke fancies me, I guess. Hardly surprisin’, seein' as he's been 'watchin' ' me for years an' all."

"Whatever, Will," Elliot said, even his voice smiling. "So anyway... Robert."


"He's... I don't know. I... I think I caught him checking out Trev's ass tonight and he didn't look... sick about it, y'know? Maybe... maybe that's good, right?"

A snort. "Think you know it's not bad, El. Guess that blessin's workin' then."

"Or the dreamcatchers. He's been sleeping through the night and believe me when I say that's a huge relief. He... he was getting so little sleep before that he even LOOKED grey and I really doubt that he was thinking clearly. I just... hope it doesn't go away, you know? Whatever it is that's making him feel less... fragile, I guess."

Spike smiled slightly at the relief in the man's voice even though he could also hear the continuing concern. "Might not be either," he offered, giving what comfort he could. The bloke had helped him, or tried to, earlier. He figured he owed him a bit of hope. "Might just be knowin' he's safe out there in th' middle of nowhere with just you an' Flouncy. An' if I was you, mate...? Wouldn't leave there 'til he can stand ta be touched an' luved, yah?"

Elliot sighed softly. "I wish I could do just that, Will, but... I have a feeling my work would suffer, y'know? I... I don't want to lose my job. Especially if we're going to have Robert to support too."

Another, louder snort. "Mate... for a smart bloke you're a soddin' moron. Young Bobby's goin' ta be comin' inta a soddin' fortune one day. Doubt Lily'd cut him off... not even for gettin' involved with TWO blokes instead of just one. Loves th' boy, she does. An' seein' as she already knows YOU from your time with my Claimed...? Don't see there bein' an issue."

"I know... I know you're right. But he doesn't want her to know what happened. I think... he wants to feel better and just... go back to DC. Doesn't seem like he wants... us."

It was the sorrow in the other man's voice that had Spike growling silently. Once again he was roped into being the bloody advice columnist to his Claimed's friends.

"Don't think 'Patia would have sent you an' Trev after him if he was indifferent ta you, mate. I'm not sayin' it's goin' ta be easy but... even without what happened ta th' bloke, he'd hardly be able ta pick up an' move ta New York, right? Not without leavin' our Lil an' he's just found her."

Elliot sighed again, the sound shivering through the phone line.

"Yeah... I guess. But I still have a job to do, and... but never mind. I'll have to choose, won't I? And..."

"No bloody contest, yah mate?" Spike chuckled. " 's not like Xan's goin' ta fire you even if th' publishin' house does. You're his best mate. Think that gives you a bit of room for negotiatin'." He frowned slightly and sighed one more time. "An' speakin' of negotiatin'... think I need ta go, bloke. Have ta try makin' things up with my Claimed."

"Good luck," Elliot said after a moment. "And Will... thanks. I... well, just thanks."

"Not a problem, pet. Go curl up with your luv an' young Bobby. An' give us a call tomorrow, yah? Xan's goin' ta want ta hear it all from you."

He set the cordless back in its cradle and thought for a few minutes. First things first. Figure out where his beloved was, then get to work on the plan El had outlined. Unfortunately it was light out but... it was amazing how much could be accomplished when you had money and internet access.

A quick call to Trev and El's place had him smiling as the sleepy voice of his Claimed answered. "Sorry, wrong number," he muttered in his best American accent.

Right, then. Next step.

Spike smirked just a bit as he surfed the ether, finding exactly what he was looking for in less than ten minutes. It would be a first step, but well worth it.

Part Thirty

Nothing. She was nothing. Not human, not eternal, not... real.

Yet she existed, occupied space, engaged in actions which had definite REACTIONS.

But... no soul. No SOUL. NO SOUL!

And not in a way that made sense, she thought with a frown. If she'd been a demon of some kind-- a vampire, perhaps-- then being soulless would have made sense. But she wasn't. She was... mortal. Human-based.

Her frown deepened at the echoing silence that continued in the corner of her mind where the Powers had once spoken to her. And that continuing silence told her yet again that her dark brothers were right.

There would be no Heaven or Hell for her and her sibs. No earning their way to eternal happiness or damnation. No... future.

It was within her power to end her own suffering but that wasn't a route she would take.

Even betrayed as she'd been, USED as she'd been... Hypatia still treasured her existence, the ability to FEEL. To move at will and choose her own course of action.

And as she had nothing to lose and nothing to gain, she would do as Ricky and Iggy had done and simply... enjoy herself. With no consequences to the soul she'd thought she had, there was no point in refraining from indulging herself.

It was a purely wicked smile that spread across her lips as she pulled off the highway and turned around, heading back to her brothers and their idea of fun.

Yes... she would have the kind of fun SHE wished for... and fulfill her destiny in her own unique way.

It was fit.

* * * * *

She'd only stopped twice on the way. Once to pick up a carton of cigarettes although she hadn't smoked before, and once to do a bit of actual shopping.

She lit her first cigarette with the pig-shaped lighter that had caught her fancy, coughing hard a few times before trying another drag.

Yes... nothing to live for, might as well get busy dying, she thought... but slowly. No sudden death for her. Not when there was so much FUN to be had.

It wouldn't be hard to find her brothers. Not now that she'd met them. Hell, she could feel them in her head... sense where they were in their constant travels.

She wondered for a moment whether they'd all consciously chosen attractive bodies with money attached but then she thought of Trevor.

Good looking guy, but no real inheritance there, she knew. Enough to cover the hospital bills for his body and leave him with enough to make a start, but nothing more.

And the thought of him made her frown more.

He didn't know. Didn't have any idea that they were soulless... that they weren't truly human.

Good, she decided after a moment. Trevor... he was GOOD... focused happily on his mission. Just as she'd been before learning the truth. Let him go on, all unknowing. Let him live and love and be happy. Let him never know what SHE knew. He was her brother. She loved him in her way. He could remain ignorant.

It was the least she could do for him, after all.

* * * * *

She caught up to them a few hours later, her car overtaking theirs on the highway.

She honked repeatedly, giving them a sly smile before shifting slowly into the right-hand lane and taking the exit for the rest stop.

She parked a good distance away from the small building that housed rest rooms and vending machines then got out of the car, hopping up to sit on the hood as her brothers parked a couple spaces away.

She smirked, the expression stolen directly from a certain blond vampire she remembered quite well although she was well aware of the fact that he was far too good for the likes of her, considering what she now knew.

"Hello, gents," she greeted as they got out of their car and approached her, "Where are we headed, then?"

The two men exchanged looks, then Iggy grinned. "Been thinking, huh?"

"Something like that," she answered, the wicked grin clear once again. "Figured I could use a bit of fun for a change. I'm tired of being the Powers' bitch. So... what's the plan?"

Farrell shrugged, his eyes leaving his sister's to roam the rest stop quickly. "The usual, sis. Get somewhere with a decent club. Find the most shining person there. Take them and tarnish them." He smirked back at her. "Because we can and doesn't that make a statement to the Powers?"

"Sounds good," Hypatia said after a moment of looking deep in thought. "Just going to have a bit of a squat first. It's been a long drive."

She scooted off of the hood of the car and stood, arching a brow at the boys. "Don't leave without me, alright?"

Ricky shrugged, finally speaking up. "It's not like you couldn't find us again if we did, is it?"

"No," she answered smugly, "It's not." And with that she strolled off towards the rather ramshackle building a good two hundred feet away, entirely sure that they'd be waiting when she got back.

"Gods," she whispered, meeting her own eyes in the bathroom mirror once she'd finished her business, "I hope I know what I'm doing..." then she shook it off and stood straight, drying her hands before returning to her car and her brothers' pleased looks.

"So... lead on, gents. We're burning daylight."

Ignatius Farrell gave her a long up and down gaze, his eyes heated when they finally met hers again. "You know, sis... we used to be one. Might not be a bad idea to try that again now that we're... apart. You're fucking hot now."

The idea alone almost made her want to vomit but she'd made her choice, after all, and she wasn't the sort to change her mind. So instead of cringing or turning him down, Hypatia simply smiled her wicked and bad smile again and pursed her lips. "You're not bad yourself, Iggy," she replied after a moment then turned her eyes to Ricky. "Neither of you are, to be honest. It could be... fun."

Farrell snorted. "Yeah, good luck with getting Ricky to pant and moan for you, sis. He's the biggest fag you'll ever meet."

"Hey! I'm not a..." Ricky frowned and stopped for a moment. "Okay. I am. That's why I handle the gay bars while Farrell does the others." He grinned sheepishly. "Maybe I should have picked a female body. I could pick up a TON of guys if I looked like YOU."

Her eyes rolled as she dug her keys out of the pocket of her tight leather pants. "Whatever. I doubt you have any trouble with men regardless." She looked him up and down, much as Iggy had done to her a moment or five earlier. "You're a prime catch, Ricky. You know... if you were looking to be caught."

She got into her car with that comment and closed the door, strapping in and waiting for her brothers to lead her to their next destination and the new people who would be betrayed... just as Ricky had betrayed Robert, she knew.

Part Thirty-One

He'd have to see about getting the blokes to move into his building, Spike decided as he dashed from his car, leather duster over his head to protect him from the sun. It was the only choice. And so what if they couldn't afford it? HE could, and... he had a feeling his Xan would like having their friends closer. Hell, so would he. If they'd lived in the building, then he wouldn't have had to drive downtown in broad bloody daylight, try to park, and then court immolation just by getting to the front door.

Fortunately, his beloved should be used to the repeated deliveries by now, so he wasn't anticipating any trouble with getting buzzed into the first floor hallway. He hunched in the shadowed doorway, doing his damnedest to avoid the slant of sunlight and pressed the button beside the blokes' names-- Arcady and Washburn.

"Gods, another one?" came the adored and disbelieving voice from the small speaker, "What did he do, buy everything in town?"

Spike grinned, hearing the undertone of excitement in his human's voice but said nothing as the buzzing started. He simply pulled open the door and started inside.

"Just bring it up, whatever it is." A muttered "I am SO gonna kill him..." in a soft, almost forgiving tone.

And that was hopeful, he figured, darting up the stairs rather than waiting for the rickety old elevator. It was only six stories, after all. Not even enough to make him break a sweat if he could have.

* * * * *

"It's open," Harris called out, his eye roaming the large pile of opened boxes on the floor. "Just put it on the couch, okay? I'm guessing you've already been tipped, judging from the other deliveries."

One hand reached out, slowly stroking over the heavy silk lapel of the robe that had come as the second delivery that day. "Damn," he whispered to himself, "I may be pissed at him, but... he's got some amazing taste."

He smiled slightly as he heard the door close as the delivery person presumably left, then picked up the assortment of cards that had come with the items, each bearing only one word, and how the hell had Spike arranged for them to be delivered in the right order? It was a mystery. Still, if anyone could have pulled it off, Spike was the one.

"Beloved," Harris read from the card that had come with the fountain pen, "Please" the robe, "Forgive" a leather-covered diary, "Me..." the pendant he'd admired in a movie they'd watched one night months earlier, and he couldn't believe Spike had remembered that.

"I" he read on the next card that had accompanied a stained glass bowl, "Was," and this present had made him laugh. Where the HELL had his vampire found a case of Yoo-hoo? "Wrong..." the wine glasses were perfect, all sleek and black.

"Need" a matching decanter, "You," another one that cracked him up-- a box of ho-hos, "Pet..." with the jar of wheat germ and Harris wondered if Spike was trying to say something by that but he couldn't quite wrap his mind around it.

The last card in his hand said simply "Love,". It had been in the box with the incredibly soft leather jacket that would come in handy now that the seasons were starting to turn.

He couldn't help smiling softly as he turned, fully expecting to find another box on his couch along with a card that read "Spike". He was NOT expecting to see Spike himself sitting there holding a box... or the sad and lonely look on the blond's face.

* * * * *

His beloved looked stunned, Spike saw. Then again, he'd been deliberately keeping their bond closed since before he'd left their home to come here so he supposed it made sense. "Xan..." he began, his voice soft and buried under the human's own.

"Spike... what are you... all of this... I mean..." Harris groaned at himself then shook his head. "I... you can't expect me to just forget, okay? No matter HOW many things you buy me!"

And just like that, Spike was off the couch and standing in front of his lover, mere inches separating them. "I know, luv... don't want you ta forget, yah?" He sighed and looked down at the threadbare rug. "Told you, Xan. I'm a vampire. An' maybe you thought you knew what that meant but I'm thinkin' maybe you need ta be reminded."

His eye closed tightly against the desire to just throw himself at the other man and let go of the small bit of anger still simmering inside him. "Fine," Harris agreed after a moment or two. He opened his eye and met the bright blue gaze. "Remind me."

"Possessive, I am. Me an' th' demon both. An' luv you, pet. Think you know that." His brow furrowed slightly as he tried to put it into words. He should have practiced, he realized, but he'd wanted to be spontaneous and not present his love with a rehearsed speech. "Bloody hell. Come an' sit with me, luv... please."

As it was one of only a handful of times his vampire had said 'please' outside of bed-- or wherever they happened to be making each other moan-- Harris sighed and nodded, stepping around the blond and taking a seat on the couch. "Okay... we're sitting," he said as Spike joined him, close but not TOO close.

A soft deep sigh and Spike nodded. "Right, then. 's like this, pet. You know I want ta Mate ta you, yah? An' you say you're thinkin' about it. 's all well an' good if you are. But..." his fingers rose, nervously tugging at stiff blond locks, "you haven't said a bloody THING about it since I asked you an'... bloody hell, luv! Not rightly a patient man, am I? Or demon for that matter. An' you had that cold last month, all... mucus-y an' fever-havin’, an'..." Spike swallowed hard, his hands in his lap now, fingers entwined.


"No! Let me finish, Xan!" he demanded, the demon writhing within him to just MATE the human and be done with it. It had worked with the claiming, his evil half insisted, and it would work with the Mating.

"Look, luv," he finally said once his beloved stopped looking shocked and nodded, "I was wrong. We both know that, yah? Should have just asked; you were right about that. But I needed ta KNOW. Needed ta stop wonderin' just how little time I'm goin' ta have ta enjoy with you. An'... when you got all pissed off last night, I..." He sighed. "I did some thinkin' too, luv."

It was the pained and distressed look on his love's face that had Harris shifting closer on the couch. One hand covered the clenched and tangled fingers of his vampire's hands and he sighed. "Talk to me, babe," he whispered, suddenly worried.

Spike stared fixedly at the warm brown fingers wrapped over his hands and clenched his jaw before nodding. "I'm takin' th' Matin' off th' table, Xan." His demon almost crowed at the hitched breath that got him.

"I'm not sayin' I don't still want that, luv. Just that... I can't bloody well DO this anymore!" His voice got louder and he couldn't manage to stop it. "Can't sit around WAITIN', hopin' you'll decide that you want me for that long! An' I know what I said 'bout your little Scooby friends an' th' gay blokes, an' that was true! But it's drivin' me 'round th' soddin' BEND ta wonder what you're thinkin' 'bout th' whole thing alla th' time!"

The vampire took a deep breath, trying to calm himself a little. "So I'm takin' it back, luv." His eyes left their hands and met the wide, hurt-looking brown eye that was staring at him with shock and sadness. "Still want it, Xan. More than you know. An' if you decide you want it too, then... ask me an' it's yours, yah? But until an' unless you do... I'm just goin' ta pretend you said 'no'... or that I never asked. Might make things easier for th' both of us, I'm thinkin'."

Harris couldn't even begin to understand the emotions running through him they were so contradictory. Fear. Relief. Shame. Want. Desire. Sorrow. Hope. Disappointment. Need. Betrayal. But over and above all of those, he felt... lost. His fingers tightened on the slender hands beneath them and he sighed, ignoring the first tear that leaked from his good eye. It was hardly the first time Spike had seen him cry, after all.

"I... shit, Spike," he finally said, squeezing the pale fingers hard, "I never said no, did I? I just... fuck, it's... a lot to think about, okay?"

Spike shook his head and tried to smile. "Think all you like, Xan. Least you know about Matin' now. An' like I said... I'm not holdin' my breath. Or I wouldn't be if I had ta breathe for anythin' other than talkin'." He inhaled the softly salty tinge of tears in the air and resolutely didn't lick the small trail of moisture from his beloved's face. "An' I'm sorry for tryin' ta get around you th' way I did. Shouldn't have done it. Was disrespectful, that."

Harris frowned, suddenly wondering if maybe the truth wasn't that Spike had reconsidered being with HIM for hundreds of years or even longer. If so, then whatever he decided... he'd never tell the vampire. He wouldn't force the man to be tied to him forever if that wasn't what he wanted.

He frowned, determined to hold fast and steady to that course when he felt the link between him and his lover fly wide, and... any concerns he'd had about Spike's feelings vanished under the onslaught of 'mine, yours, always love you, always need you, can't live without you, can't go on, nothing without you, won't ever leave, love you, need you, always, always, beloved, beloved Claimed, mine' he felt.

And he couldn't help it, didn't want to help it if the truth be known. His eye slammed shut hard as he pushed his end of their bond wide, returning everything he felt for his love, his man, his demon.

Spike found himself gasping, his back arching against the couch as he was filled almost beyond bearing with the 'yours-always-never anything else-scared-want-need-afraid-secrets-yours-mine-in you-in me-love-belonging-always here-always yours-always mine-never leave you-never leave me' from his Claimed. His hands somehow wrapped around the tanned one, pulling it to his chest where his long-dead heart... BEAT just once before returning to its usual motionless state.

"B-bloody... h-h-hell..."

Part Thirty-Two

They’d only been driving together for five hours when Hypatia signaled and pulled off the highway. She drove a few more miles, finally stopping at a rather questionable motel.

“Why are we here?” Ricky demanded, getting out of the car he shared with Farrell. “It’s only three more hours to Boulder!”

The woman shrugged and unfolded, boots clacking slightly against pavement as she stood and stretched her spine, jaw cracking with an enormous yawn.

“Yes, but that would make it nearly three o’clock in the morning by the time we got there, Ricardo. Not really the prime hour for what you’ve got in mind, is it?” She arched a brow sleekly and went around to the boot of her car, pulling out a large-ish duffel bag and slinging it over her shoulder.

“Besides... one of these days someone WILL remember you two. Or me, now that we’re traveling together. I thought it might be best if we didn’t take rooms in the town we plan to victimize. Not right at first, in any case.” She yawned again.

Iggy laughed and grabbed his bag from the back seat then tossed Ricky’s to him. “You worry too much, sister dear,” he said with a grin. “The only way anyone could ever remember us would be if they had some sort of immunity and that only happens if someone is connected to one of us. We’re safe.”

He laughed again, the sound somehow suggestive this time. “But if you wanted to get started on that... joining we talked about, I don’t mind stopping here.”

Ricky rolled his eyes. “Do you EVER think with the BIG head, Farrell? Gods, even I can see she’s exhausted.”

The shorter, darker man tilted his head, finally noticing the dark circles and small, shallow lines around his sister’s eyes. “Yeah, okay,” he said, sounding grumpy, “We’ll save it for tomorrow. To celebrate.”

Ricardo just shook his head and started towards the small office at the corner of the motel. “I’ll get us a room, Farrell. And one for Hy. I’m used to his snoring,” he explained with a wink for the tall woman, “But he’d probably keep you up all night with it.”

One black brow rose slightly and Hypatia glanced at Iggy. “You share a room often?”

Farrell shrugged. “Yeah. All the time. Why?”

She shrugged back at him. “Just curious. You know, since you’ve complained about how gay he is... and seem to be so interested in... joining.”

The dark-haired young man blinked, trying not to think about the interested stirring in his groin. Then he chuckled and gave her that LOOK again. “Well, if there’s a woman involved, then... that wouldn’t make me gay, would it? I mean...”

Another, higher brow arch. “I’m fairly certain that shoving your cock into Ricky’s ass... or the reverse, for that matter... WOULD mean you were gay. Or at least bi-sexual, brother. And if the idea isn’t making you squirm in the BAD way, then maybe you should consider... broadening your horizons,” she teased with yet another yawn, this one threatening to knock her over. “You never know. You might like it.”

Ignatius slapped an offended and annoyed expression onto his face and shook his head quickly-- too quickly, although he didn’t realize that. “Exit only. Hell, I wouldn’t let YOU in there with as much as a finger! I’m no pillow-biter.”

Hypatia heard the words, but she also heard the slight uncertainty and smiled to herself. Iggy and Ricky had been right, she realized. She really WAS having fun with them.

* * * * *

They were lounging about in her motel room, all of them having slept long and well although she was amused by the speculative glances she caught Iggy sending Ricky’s way when the taller man wasn’t looking.

Apparently her words the night before had made an impression, and enough of one that the horny bastard hadn’t tried to feel her up more than a few times, which honestly made her happier than she could recall being since New York.

“All right, gents,” she said after whatever piece of crap the blokes were watching went to commercial break, “I have a good idea of how this works but let’s clear it up just to be sure.”

Ricky shifted a little, not entirely sure of why his brother was looking at him the way he’d been doing since the previous night. Hell, Iggy was almost... checking him out? It was... weird. He grabbed the new subject with relief, giving Hypatia a smile.

“It’s really simple,” he said quickly, one leg bending to disguise his crotch which had been where Farrell’s eyes had been resting for a very long few minutes. “We find a club. A GOOD club. The shiny happy people don’t go to the dives.”

Ignatius sighed, not clear on why Ricky’s new position annoyed him. “Yeah. If we find a straight club first, I take point and Ricky’s just the look-out. If it’s a gay club, that’s reversed.”

“Of course it is,” Hypatia murmured, trying not to laugh at the disgruntled expression on Iggy’s face. “And?”

Ricky smiled, his storm-grey eyes sparkling. “And I find the one who shines.” He laughed softly when his sister looked confused. “It’s part of my gift. I can see what they dream, you know... manipulate it sometimes. And even when awake, humans carry a... shimmer. The brighter the shimmer, the more shiny-bright the soul.”

“Ah. I understand,” she said softly. And she did. Ricardo could sense the inherent goodness within a human by the colour of their dreams, and... if humans carried an echo of that when awake, he was probably the best judge of people that there had ever been.

Farrell nodded. “He points it out, then we do it. Simple, huh?”

Hypatia nodded slowly. “Yesss... and that’s how you decide which person to drug and rape, then?” She cocked her head, giving them a curious gaze.

“Look, it’s not RAPE,” Ricky insisted. “We just... take the shine off, okay? And they don’t ever remember it so who does it hurt? No-one! And... the drug doesn’t even have any side effects, so...”

“None?” she said softly, “None at all...?”

Ignatius smirked wickedly. “A headache. Not as bad as a hangover. And... depending on how we leave them, they might assume they got drunk and acted the whore. Memory loss from when they first drink it. That’s all, sister dear.”

She looked thoughtful for a few moments then let her wicked grin spread across her lips. “All right. That seems fair. You get your pleasure, they never know any better and... the worst they suffer is a guilty conscience... and less ‘shimmer’.”

Yet there was Robert, she knew, and... ‘Help him,’ she asked the Powers, hoping that they could hear her even if she couldn’t hear them. ‘Help him. Heal him. Make him SEE.’

“They don’t... suffer,” she added.

“Exactly!” Ricky nearly shouted, grinning broadly. “It doesn’t do them any harm. It just... lets us thumb our noses at the Powers, sis.”

“So is there a version of this drug that’ll make a man hard and ready?” she asked slyly, “because I don’t fancy being left out on the fun, boys. If I’m going to travel with you, I want ALL the benefits.”

Farrell and Ricky traded one long, gleeful stare.

“I’m sure we can come up with SOMETHING, sister dear,” Iggy said smugly. “Probably not for Boulder, but... definitely soon.”

“Add some distilled Viagra, maybe,” Ricky added. “That way when they wake up they’ll be even MORE confused.”

“And it’ll bypass the problems with the best choice being a straight guy in a straight club,” Farrell added. “Ricky would do them but somehow they never take him up on it when he offers them a drink.”

Hypatia laughed and shook her head, giving Ricky an amused glance. “Fancy that.”

Part Thirty-Three

Robert smiled a bit, remembering the night before in the kitchen and still not cringing. He could have simply closed his eyes and tried to sleep more, but he was too awake for that and…

* * * * *

It had been the obvious lack of tension and looks of pure happiness on Trevor and Elliot’s faces that had had Robert all... shaky.

On the one hand, he was glad that his time in the barn had allowed the couple to spend time together that they’d obviously needed and he couldn’t pretend to be upset by the fact that they seemed more... relaxed than they’d been in the last few days.

On the other hand, though, a part of him had cringed at the knowledge that they’d been... intimate with each other in the way Ricky had been with him.

But then he’d looked closer, watching them move around the kitchen. A hand snuck out here, stroking a hip... a gaze there, caressing a beloved face. A soft smile, a gentle blush, unspoken words being heard and replied to, and...

It wasn’t anything like the so-called intimacy he’d had forced on him, Robert had realized.

Intellectually he’d already known that. Emotionally... well, emotionally he was still figuring it out.

It might have helped, he told himself, if he’d been involved in a relationship based on true caring since he and Harry, but he simply hadn’t, and maybe that was why he’d been so willing to bend over for Paul back in DC. But that didn’t matter, he’d realized.

It was like a sudden flash of lightning in his mind.

It didn’t matter. NOTHING mattered outside of the fact that... the small touches, soft glances, gentle pecks he’d witnessed had made him YEARN.

Not that he was ready to do those things yet. He still felt soiled and... distrustful. But he could watch Elliot brush the back of his hand over Trevor’s cheek... watch Trevor react by pressing slightly into that strong hand, and... not feel nauseated or ashamed that he wanted something similar someday.

It was a step, Robert figured. A good step, even though small.

He’d smiled to himself, slipping into the kitchen from the doorway he’d been standing just the other side of.

“I’ll just set the table,” he’d said quietly, pulling flatware and napkins from a drawer, “since you two seem to have everything in hand here.”

Trevor’d blinked, trying to pull his fingers away from Elliot’s stomach as he heard the voice, only to be stopped by the strong hand that suddenly held his against skin.

“That’d be great, Robert,” Elliot had said, smiling at the younger man then smiling even more when he got a wink from the smaller blond. “I think he’s turned a corner, baby,” he whispered, leaning close to Trevor’s ear.

The brunette shivered, his fingers flexing slightly against his lover’s toned belly. “Gods, I hope so,” he’d whispered back, “But isn’t that kind of... fast...?”

Elliot listened to Robert setting silverware out on the small table behind them and shrugged. “I’m not saying he’ll be crawling into bed with us to do anything but sleep in the next little while, Trev, but... he knows what we were doing earlier and he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, so... one step at a time, okay?”

Trevor nodded, moving just a bit closer to wrap his arms around the tall blond’s waist. “Okay. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be hoping and praying for him to jump a few steps.” He sighed. “And we SO need to go into town. We need food for one thing... and lube.”

Elliot chuckled softly, one hand lightly stroking Trevor’s ass through the sweat pants. “I’ll go in the morning, love. Promise. I really... hell, Trev, I just need you to fuck me. Loved making love earlier, but... Christ. I want you so deep, baby...”

There had come a low, deep groan. “Shit, El... don’t get me started. Not now.”

“Okay... later then,” the older man said with a deliberately suggestive smile before leaning in to press a slow, thorough kiss to his lover’s lips, well aware of the soft and slightly disturbed brown eyes watching them.

* * * * *

He watched their bodies shift closer together, closing the gap he left when he crept from the bed slowly and carefully.

Strong, toned forms clad simply in sweatpants found each other, arms moving to grasp and close over loved flesh. Soft wordless mumbles broke the silence and Robert smiled.

He was probably up because he’d dreamed again. Seen that night when it had… happened. Experienced it from a position outside himself for a change.

** ‘Knew you wanted it,’ he heard Ricky say, ‘saw you checking out my cock...’**

Well, he had. But subtly. Out of curiosity; nothing more.

** ‘So tight... tighter than any girl, aren’t you, Robert..’ **

Of course he was. His ass wasn’t specifically designed to have eight or so inches of thick, hard cock jammed into it without warning. And even if it had been, he’d have been tight considering the lack of stimulation or excitement.

** ‘Fuuuuuuckkk… tight as a virgin, bro’… sure * grunt* you don’t want a turn…?’ **

And thank God for small favours. He’d been DRUGGED. Wouldn’t have been able to say ‘no’ to whoever ‘Farrell‘ was any more than he had been able to refuse Ricky..

** ‘Oh… yeah, that’s it, Robert… all nice and slick now…’ **

Of course he was. He’d been BLEEDING!

And finally...

** ‘You’re an amazing fuck, Robert… I might have to find you again.’ **

If he did, Robert had vowed in the dream, he’d KILL the bastard! He’d rip off his balls and bronze them... maybe nail them to the wall as a warning to other rapists.

And that was when he’d woken up, for some reason not gasping or shaking from the dream... at all.

The only thing he’d found himself thinking then was... he hadn’t wanted it. Hadn’t asked for it. He hadn’t done anything more than let a superficially attractive man buy him a drink.

Elliot had been right. He-- Robert-- hadn’t done anything wrong other than accepting a drink from a stranger, and... he’d never do that again.

Robert smiled at the two men on the bed and found the clothes he’d changed out of before they’d all gone to sleep.

He dressed quickly, then grabbed the keys to his car from the small table by the door. He’d heard the guys whispering, after all, and... it was almost eight AM. There was sure to be a store open. No reason for Trevor or Elliot to make the trip, especially when HE was already awake and feeling... pretty good.

Not entirely better, of course, but... less broken.

* * * * *

It was nice to wake up in Elliot’s arms, their morning erections brushing against each other.

Trevor wondered for a moment why that seemed wrong, but as he wasn’t fully awake yet, he didn’t bother thinking too much about it. Or not until he rocked lightly and felt the fabric between their shafts.

His eyes opened and a slow, sweet smile crossed his lips as he saw the contented expression on his still sleeping lover’s face.

“Mmmm...” he mumbled, moving closer for that first morning kiss he loved so much. Closed-lipped so as not to share the morning breath, but still soft and warm and definitely desired. “El...”

Elliot shifted closer, pulling his dark-haired man against him as he rose slowly from the murky depths of sleep and returned the slow press of lips-on-lips. “Trev,” he answered sleepily, arms tight around the well known body, “where’s our boy...?”

The question had Trevor sitting bolt upright as he found himself suddenly fully awake, his eyes darting around the room. “I... fuck, El, I don’t know!”

And just that quick, Elliot was awake as well.

His eyes stabbed at the clock and he frowned deeply. “It’s almost ten! I... didn’t I set the alarm?”

Trevor shook his head. “No... we were all supposed to sleep ourselves out, remember?”

A soft, relieved sigh. “Okay. So he probably woke up early and decided to let us sleep. I’m guessing he’s out in the barn,” Elliot said with a hopeful grin as he pulled his lover closer.

Y-you’re probably right,” Trev whispered as he pressed closer to the toned form before him, “But maybe we should make sure.”

* * * * *

The car was gone.

That was the first thing Elliot noticed when he and Trevor stepped out onto the porch.

The car-- Robert’s car-- was gone.

He didn’t know what to think, and neither did Trev, judging by the look on his face.

He had a feeling they were both about to panic... break down and scream to the Heavens for their boy, but...

That was when Trevor’s eyes suddenly locked on the dirt road that lead to the house, his head cocked to the side as he SAW. “He’s coming back,” he whispered, giving Elliot a speaking glance.

It was less than a second later that the two men were in the bathroom, shifting around each other in a practiced fashion as they brushed teeth quickly and combed hair, smiling at each other like idiots every few seconds. Their boy had left, for whatever reason, but... he was coming back.

Then they looked at each other and grinned again as they finished up, exchanging one long, real kiss before dashing back to the bed and arranging themselves the way they’d woken up.

Part Thirty-Four

"What the hell was THAT?" Harris demanded, his eye wide and locking on his vampire's blue. "Spike, it felt like..."

"Dunno, do I?" the blond nearly growled. "Felt... strange. Maybe just a reaction ta someone I ate, yah?"

His brow furrowed and the brunette shook his head. "Spike... babe... that wasn't... normal, okay?" He shifted closer on the couch, arms wrapping tightly around the slightly smaller man. "I... fuck, babe, it scares me."

He was caught between purring at having his beloved pressed against him again and... growling at the fear-scent pouring from that same young man. Long leather-clad arms wrapped around the much warmer form, fingers rubbing small, soothing circles on his spine. " 's alright, luv... nothin' wrong with your Spike. Whatever it was stopped, 'ey? Plain old non-beatin' heart here."

Harris still couldn't help shivering a little. "I don't... has that ever happened before? Because I'm thinking no and... okay, heart beat. Not usually something bizarre, right? But Spike..."

"Hush, pet," the vampire murmured, pulling the tanned man almost into his lap, "I'm fine, yah? An'... tell you what, Xan. We can ask 'Patia... or Trev next time he or El calls." It had been close to a week since the woman had said she'd call, after all, and... he'd pretty much given up on the notion that she ever would. The blokes, on the other hand, called at least once a day.

The brunette frowned, his face burrowing into the crook of Spike's neck. "Promise me, Spike," he demanded quietly, "Promise me there's nothing weird or wrong about what just happened. Swear it to me and I'll... try to stop worrying, okay?"

Spike nodded quickly, arching his neck against the shifting head. His hands moved slowly, one sliding to the small of his human's back as the other rose to tangle in ever-lengthening thick brown hair. "Give you my word, love... nothin's wrong, yah? Feelin’ fine. Grand, in fact. Probably WAS someone I ate." Cool lips brushed gently at the edge of one warm ear and finally he purred, hoping to comfort his Claimed.

Harris sighed, pressing closer to the loved body holding him. "You'd better be right, babe," he whispered, his lips ghosting over the scar on his love's neck, "I... I can't lose you, okay?"

"Know just what you mean, precious," Spike murmured back softly. "An' I'm never gettin' lost. Not ta you, Xan. Promise you that, too. Always goin' ta be with you." Even when you're dead and gone, he added silently.

He was still worried, but... he couldn't bring himself to voice his doubts. Not when he'd just realized that it was actually possible for him TO lose Spike, and okay, he'd known about the possibility that the vampire might be dusted some night, but... Spike was good enough that it wasn't likely.

He shook his head, wanting nothing than to be "Home... can we go home, babe? I... shit, I just..." Harris swallowed hard.

Spike nodded slowly, fingers stroking gently through the tangled hair. "Whatever you want, pet. Missed you last night, yah? Didn't sleep or anythin'. Just kept thinkin' 'bout th' look on your face when you walked off, luv... hated myself for puttin' it there." He frowned. "Never goin' ta do that again, Xan. Not for anythin'."

"Good," Harris murmured, "because if you do... well, let's just say I won't be bought off with a bunch of... really nice gifts." He lifted his head to meet sorry blue eyes. "I love them, by the way. Especially the yoo-hoo."

He chuckled, leaning close to nips his beloved's warm, full lips. "Yah... figured you'd like that, pet. Don't know how you can drink that swill."

"Watch it, babe. Yoo-hoo and ho-hos are the food of the Gods!"

Another chuckle, softer this time as Spike cupped a rough cheek. "Th' food of MY God, anyway, pet. An' you were right, Xan. We should go home. Got me some worshipin' ta do, don't I?"

* * * * *

They'd left all of the 'prezzies' as Spike had called them at Trevor and Elliot's apartment-- aside from the box Spike had slipped into his coat for later-- mostly because it would have been too difficult to get them all out to the car while the sun was still out. Hell, they were lucky the car was still there, considering Spike had left it double-parked. And as Harris observed, they could always come back for his presents after dark.

Not that Spike was planning on letting his Claimed out of bed that soon, but... the bloke would figure it out for himself eventually.

Until then, he was just going to enjoy the comforting rasp of stubbled skin on skin, heat against coolness, tongues and flesh, lips and blood.

He pressed himself down harder on the long, strong body beneath him, his mouth grazing a hot, flushed cheek before sliding down to the claiming scar and nibbling at it lightly. "Luv how you taste, pet... salty-sweet an' wantin'... you're like a drug, beloved... can't get enough of you..."

Harris groaned, his cock throbbing against the equally hard one rubbing lightly over him. His hands grasped nearly roughly at smooth, cool flesh, although that flesh wasn't as cool as it had been when they'd gotten home. "Jesus... fuck, Spike... d-does that m-make me your d-dealer...?" he managed to gasp, doing his best to arch into that wonderfully toned body pinning him down.

"Dealer an' drug, luv... think I could live on nothin' but you... think I'd like ta find out..." the vampire whispered, his features shifting slowly to true. One sharp tooth scratched gently at the mark and he purred as a thin line of blood rose reluctantly to the surface.

His tongue laved slowly, the teasing bit of flavor pulling a soft, pleased growl from him. He lifted his head, his eyes gold and gleaming in the soft evening light coming through the curtains. "My Claimed," he whispered, the recent fight reminding him of how very lucky he was. "MY Claimed. My Xan... my heart an' soul. Luv you, pet... so much..."

The brunette groaned again, his hands sliding down the tensed back to take hold of rounded, toned cheeks. "Gods, Spike... you too, babe... hated being away even for a f-few hours..." His fingers flexed in those pale globes of flesh and he moaned deeply. "P-please, babe... l-love me, okay? J-just... have me!"

Blond hair flowed with Spike's nod as he lifted his torso, the action pressing their cocks together harder. He growled low and deep, one hand shifting across the soft cotton sheets to find the tube that tended to live under their pillows. "Need that, luv... ta have you. Ta show you... feel you..."

Harris nodded, swallowing hard as Spike finally rolled to the side, one slicked hand finding his cock. His eye closed at the viscous, gel-like substance was spread over his pulsing shaft with care. "G-gods, babe... I... fuck..."

The tender smile might have looked odd with the demon's features, but Spike didn't care. He simply continued to stroke his Claimed slowly, purring at each small hitched breath and whimper he heard. "Goin' ta ride you, pet... take you so deep, luv... goin' ta scream for you, Xan... beloved..."

"Jesus... f-fuck... you need to... shit, babe... g-get yourself s-slick too..." His eye was clenched shut tightly. If he had to watch his vamp with those long. elegant fingers buried deep inside his own ass, he'd blow right then and there and while he was sure Spike would find that both funny and flattering, it wasn't how Harris wanted this adventure to end. "P-please... hurry, babe... n-need you so... b-bad..."

"Not ta worry, luv," Spike murmured, only dabbing a bit of the lubricant over his hole, "Goin' ta take you in, Xan... alla you. Right now, beloved." One leg slung quickly over the tense, gorgeous and deeply tanned body beside him and his slick hand wrapped again around the turgid shaft, holding it steady as he positioned himself for the long, slow ride down.

His eye flew wide, hands flying to tight, slim hips as he felt just the tip of his cock pressing against the TOO tight hole. "S-spike! I... no! D-don't... I won't h-hurt y-y-you..."

The vampire groaned and pressed down harder, ignoring the attempt to hold him back. "Not... hurtin' me... beloved..." he gasped, a strong shiver of pleasure shimmying through his body as that thick head entered him fully with an almost audible pop. "B-brilliant," he grunted, slowly forcing himself down further, his hips rocking and shifting until he felt his beloved's heavy sac against his ass. "Bloody... perfect, luv..."

It was only the sense of pure enjoyment he felt radiating from his claimed that kept Harris from trying to stop. Not that he'd be able to, what with Spike being stronger, he admitted silently, but he still would have tried, no matter HOW good the incredible tightness felt around his cock.

As it was, though, he DID feel his vampire's pleasure through their bond, so his hands simply tightened on the pale hips, fingers digging deep enough to leave small, vaguely oval bruises on tight skin. "J-jesus FUCK, babe..." he whispered, most of his breath devoted to just staying conscious. "G-gods, Spike... s-so... good... so... t-tight..."

Long, pale fingers closed tightly on the strained biceps before him as he lifted himself slowly, pulling almost entirely from the piercing shaft before sliding just as slowly back down. "Was a virgin, luv, in every s-sense... when I w-was t-t-turned... all t-tight like th-this…" Spike groaned. "C-comes back if I... d-don't... use s-somethin'... or get b-buggered regular-l-like... an’ ‘s been… over twenty-f-four… bloody… hours…"

Harris gasped, his eye traveling down their bodies to watch his thick, ready cock disappearing into that tight, VIRGINAL hole as his vampire impaled himself fully once again. "R-remind... me... to... f-fuck you... every f-few hours, then... babe..." His fingers shifted slightly, digging deep again and a smug smile crossed his lips for a moment, seeing the bruises left behind. "M-make you m-mine... over and o-ver-r... always m-m-mine... babe..."

"Yours," Spike admitted with a growl, leaning forward slightly as he rose and fell, rose and fell, the small change pressing the small nub within him flush against his beloved's straining shaft. "N-never anything... but... yours... beloved..."

He could feel himself tightening-- and not just his sac-- as Spike rode him slow and sweet and he forced his eye away from the incredible sight of that amazing ass swallowing him whole, only to focus instead on the wide golden eyes that were growing more heated by the moment. "L-love you, Spike," he managed to moan in a rare moment of lucidity, "A-always... yours too, love..."

His spine arched, fingers harder on his Xan's arms as he gasped loudly and roughly, the thick, seeping head within him pressing wildly against that special spot as he slid down one last time, his body shaking and shivering with the unexpectedly sudden orgasm. His mouth opened and closed, unable to voice anything but a wordless and nearly mute sound as he stared into the wide brown eye and exploded wickedly over his Claimed's stomach and chest.

"S-spike!" Harris cried, his own back arching against their mattress as he arched up as much as possible, his balls throbbing and tightening further before shooting great, gushing spurts deep into the tight benediction of his vampire's bowels. "L-love... y-y-you...!" he howled, repeating the words yet again.

And as the perfect cock deep inside him bathed his innards with forceful shots of hot, rich spunk, Spike came again, thick ropes of milky fluids splashing lightly over warm, tanned skin once more before he collapsed over his human, those same fluids coating their bellies and chests as sharp teeth sank deep into the wonderful scar on his Xander's neck.

Hands released hips, moving up the pale spine to tangle in short blond hair, holding the piercing fangs closer as his own blunt, human teeth dug deep into the matching scar on his lover's neck and he drank... slowly, deeply, and with all the love, desire and wonderment he felt pouring freely through their link.

Part Thirty-Five

"Do you think... could she be right?" Ricky asked carefully as Farrell flipped off the driver of another car they passed. "I mean about the... is it really rape?"

The darker-haired man snorted and rolled his eyes, watching Hypatia's car in the rear view mirror. "Of course not, you big GIRL. Rape is like..." he frowned. "It's like that thing in 'the Accused', okay? We're not violent, right? And they don't even know what happened, so it doesn't count. We're just doing what we said. Kicking the lighter Powers in the balls."

Ricky sighed silently and nodded. "Okay. I just... I don't want to HURT anyone, Farrell."

"And you're not, Rick. WE'RE not. Hell, Hy's even on board now and who can blame her? We're right about not having souls." Iggy looked smug and shifted slightly in his seat as he shifted and cut into the next lane, smirking at the squeal of brakes he heard when their sister followed. "And we might have a surprise for you tonight, bro'."

Storm-grey eyes narrowed curiously in a gaze at the other man. "A surprise? Do tell, Farrell..."

Ignatius smirked and shook his head. "Let's say it might have something to do with an idea I had... that Hy sort of... elaborated on." He did his best not to look at Ricardo's crotch and when he failed he forced himself to pull his eyes away and look at the road again, not embarrassed exactly but... uncomfortable. Then again, with no soul, who was to say that the idea of having sex repeatedly with his brother and sister was wrong? They'd been one being before, after all, and... that would be as close as they could get to being that again. "I think you'll like it," he added after a moment.

Ricky frowned, shifting in the passenger seat to face the window, the knee closest to Ignatius bending higher. "If you say so," he mumbled, watching the scenery go by.

* * * * *

She could do this, Hypatia thought. She COULD. And she didn't have a soul, so there was no betrayal involved. No harm, no foul.

Nobody would be hurt and GODS, why did she even care about that?

Her mind whirled in circles, questioning the decision she'd made, but... the Powers weren't talking to her, so she was on her own. With no true concept of good and bad, all she had to go by was her own impulses, and...

The wicked and willful smile spread across her lips again as she gunned the engine, pulling her car out and around her brothers' before sliding in front of them and signaling as they reached the outskirts of Boulder.

She pulled into the crowded parking lot of a diner and parked, then headed towards the front door and waited for the blokes.

"Need to do a bit of shopping, gents," she said when they approached. "I only have the one outfit that's suitable for clubs and it's dirty from the other night. How about we get a bite and then hit a mall?" She chuckled and gave Iggy a suggestive smile. "Besides, I'd like to get a little something... special... for later." She winked.

Farrell laughed and grabbed Ricky's hand, dragging him into the diner while Hypatis followed. "Sounds like a plan, sis... after we eat. We'll need our strength if we're gonna go shopping with a girl." He winked back then looked at the woman behind the register. "Three," he said, indicating himself and his siblings.

* * * * *

The shopping had taken just long enough, Hypatia thought with a sly smirk. She'd managed to get a few things that even her brothers had agreed would help in their quest... things that would announce her status as the 'girlfriend' of whichever bloke WASN'T on point. She'd also managed to get a pair of cell phones, one of which she had, the other of which resided in Iggy's pocket, presumably.

She trailed along behind her brothers' car, then pulled the new phone out and hit the only number that was programmed into it.

"Iggy," she said, her grin in her voice, "I need to shower and change, alright? How about I find us a motel and meet you later?"

"Yes, I'm sure an hour will be fine," she answered his question. "I don't want to come across as less than you guys deserve, now do I? Besides, gent... wouldn't you rather I be all sweet and clean when we... get down to it?"

She smirked wickedly. "That's what I thought. So where am I meeting you?"

One hand scrabbled over the seat of the rental car, finally finding the pen she knew was there. She wrote directly on her other hand-- the one on the steering wheel. "I'll see you there, brother... just after full dark. And... I can't wait until later," she purred, ignoring the twisting in her gut. "Give Ricky a kiss for me," she added teasingly before hanging up.

* * * * *

She parked on the small rise a good hundred yards from the club, watching the parking lot closely through the binoculars she'd snuck off to buy at the mall while she'd said she was going to the bathroom. It hadn't even been noticed amongst her other purchases.

She smiled darkly, seeing her brothers' car pull in and wait just inside the entrance then dialed the new number she'd entered into the new cell. "They're there. Just past where the drive widens. Left side. Two of them in a maroon Corvette."

"Are you sure about this?" the voice on the other end asked slowly.

"You heard the tapes, detective. They're obviously insane. Do I sound like I could be their sister?" She frowned, suddenly wondering whether the mini tape recorder and the audio evidence would be enough.

A sigh. "No. But I don't understand why you won't testify."

"I don't want to get that involved," Hypatia said softly. "Now, if you want to apprehend a couple of serial rapists, I suggest you watch them and... they need to be in jail, Nick. Forever. But twenty or thirty years should do."

"I... thanks for the heads-up, Kelly," the detective said with a sigh.

"No problem," she said softly before ending the call and dialing her brothers.

"Iggy... sorry, mate. I'm a bit lost. Where are you?" she lied deliberately, not mentioning how she'd gone directly to the police station once she'd been free of him and Ricky.

She released one very fake sigh. "Well, go ahead. I'll be there in the next half hour or so. I seem to have gotten... turned around." Or not, she admitted silently. She'd never had any real intention of participating in their sick games to begin with. 'Turned around' was just a somewhat charming euphemism.

"No... no, it's fine! Don't wait on MY account! Maybe I'll just meet you gents back at the motel... get all tarted up and ready for you..." NOT. Not ever, although she forced her voice to stay lusty and intrigued.

She smirked again then forced a breathless laugh. "I'll be waiting," she murmured as she hung up, her eyes still watching the club through the binoculars.

And that much was true, in any case.

* * * * *

She waited a good forty-five minutes, staring at the front door until she saw Iggy and Ricky nearly carrying a young black man outside. "Gay bar," she murmured to herself as she watched them maneuver the out-of-it bloke into the shadows beside the club.

She gave them five minutes before she picked up the phone again and hit Farrell's number.

"Hello, brother..."

"Uh, Hy, this really isn't a good time..."

"Sorry, Farrell, but... I need to tell you something."

"Yeah? What?" he sounded impatient.

"See, here's the thing... brother. I was thinking about what you said. About us not having souls."

"Yeah, what about it?" A definitely impatient sound.

"Well, I figured something out."

"Did you."

"I did. And what I figured out is..." She pulled a cigarette from her latest pack and lit it, inhaling deeply. "We still know right from wrong. We still know whether we're doing something that's... evil. And even if we'll never be rewarded or punished after our bodies die... maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe the rewards and punishments we receive in our mortal lives are enough. Of course, I already knew that."

"What the... fuck... are you talking about, Hy?" Iggy growled over the line.

"You know enough about right and wrong to think you're hurting the Powers, Iggy," she said softly, one hand on the switch for her headlights, "And that means you've CHOSEN the darkness. Chosen to dim the light."

She flicked the knob once, twice, three times, still watching through the binoculars as red and blue lights began flickering from the ten unmarked police cars around the parking lot.

"And just so you know, brother... the young man Ricky 'did' in Tulsa...? He DOES belong to one of us. He's connected and prophesied and... but you don’t care, do you?“ She sighed, taking another deep lungful of smoke and exhaling. “Goodbye, Ignatius. Enjoy your 'free will'… until you choke on it."

She ended the call and climbed from her car, watching her brothers being swarmed over and cuffed while the young man who'd been their victim was wrapped in a blanket, his pants still loose around his ankles.

She wished she could have signaled sooner but... it had been necessary for the young man to be violated if she was going to avenge Robert, and... at least now Iggy and Ricky would be in prison, having been caught in the act, as it were.

She’d have to remember to send their latest victim an anonymous donation for the therapy he’d probably need once he found out what had happened, but that was fine. It was the least she could do for allowing her so-called brothers to violate him.

Hypatia's smile was bittersweet as she got back into her car and drove off. She'd stop at some point to drop the purchases she'd made with her brothers into a donation box somewhere and... maybe someone would find a use for the pre-paid new cell phone. She'd never use it again... and she'd never had any intention of wearing those clothes.

The very fact of the men who'd helped her choose them made them... dirty.

Part Thirty-Six

Robert found his eyes closing after less than a moment of staring at the tableau that greeted him once he walked into the house and to the bedroom door.

Trevor... and Elliot. Elliot... and Trevor. Wrapped around each other, arms loose but close over each others' bodies.

It was... enticing, he knew, although a large part of him was still freaked that he could be attracted... interested... so soon after what had happened.

Then again, he thought, remembering the old woman he'd run into in what had obviously been a reservation town now that he thought about it, although it had had a 7-11 and a Shell station... maybe he was ready to let it go.

'Do not dwell,' she'd said, latching on to his arm as he'd gotten out of the car-- and hadn't THAT freaked him out-- 'The one who hurt you has been removed. He shall never harm another. Your best revenge' she'd gone on, 'Is in not letting him best you.'

Then she'd grinned an almost toothless smile and kissed his cheek and he'd felt...better. Felt blessed, almost.

So he'd shopped, frowning slightly at the lack of flavoured or scented lubricants. He had a feeling Elliot and Trevor liked that sort of thing, after all. Still, the standard KY would undoubtedly be better than the bottle of olive oil he'd seen Trev sneaking out of the bedroom.

Robert shook his head quickly, his eyes opening again to gaze lengthily over the two bodies. His hands shook and he swallowed hard, even as he slowly divested himself of jacket, shirt, shoes, socks, pants... everything but the boxer-briefs he'd gotten so comfortable wearing.

He looked at them again, trying to make a choice since they were too close together to slide between, then moved to the left, lifting the covers and slipping into the bed behind Trevor, pressing himself gently against the long, lean form, spooning him tightly.

One arm slid over the warm, toned bodies, his hand finally stopping as it found Elliot's ribs and made a home there, cupped over the curve of rib cage and back and his eyes closed, just basking in the comfort and pleasure he felt at being able to... touch... without the gut-wrenching distress he'd almost become used to.

* * * * *

Wide brown eyes met equally wide blue ones, although neither Trevor nor Elliot wanted to speak and possibly make Robert pull away.

Instead, their eyes spoke volumes for a few moments before closing again in agreement.

Trevor murmured softly, rocking back slightly against Robert's groin. He smiled, feeling the interested stirring even as he held Elliot closer. Their boy was apparently able to get an erection again, and that was a good thing. "Mmmmffff..." he let himself mumble, rocking just a bit harder and faster, "Baby..."

What the hell was he doing, Robert wondered. Trevor was obviously sleeping and here HE was pressing against him and... it was too much like what had happened. Not that he would ever... He shuddered at the thought and tried to pull himself away. He remembered VERY well how it had felt when he'd finally shaken off the drugs, and...

Elliot frowned, his hand stretching beyond Trevor to find one tense and shaking hip. "Mmmm... Robert," he murmured, pulling the young man closer and giving him a falsely sleepy gaze as he raised his head to peer over Trev's form, "Darlin'... where you been...?"

Trevor took that as a signal and stretched slightly, looking over his shoulder and smiling at the young blond. "Dreamt I felt you behind me... dreamt that you were hard and... wanting me, baby..." He made himself pout just a bit with obvious disappointment. "But it's okay, Robert," he mumbled, turning his head to rest against Elliot's arm and hide his hopeful smile. "Told you... we can wait..." He stretched again, his back rubbing gently against Robert's chest.

And that was just about enough, Robert figured. He was… damaged, not DEAD.

He pressed himself hard against Trevor's back, the soft cotton of his boxer-briefs catching slightly against the fabric of Trevor's sweats as he rubbed against him, one arm worming its way under two toned bodies while the other took the easy route and wrapped over them.

"I... bloody hell," he moaned softly. "Bloody... Trevor... I... I'm sorry," he whispered as he rocked against the soft yet firm ass pressing back into him. "I'm... sorry... I can't..." he gasped again as his breath hitched and his arms tightened and he felt himself shoot off in his underwear less than a moment later, much to his own embarrassment.

* * * * *

He wasn't sure of how he'd wound up between the two older men again, but Robert was entirely certain that he didn't care, although his underwear was kind of... sticky. Still, he was amazed that he wasn't freaking out. In fact, his only real reaction other than shaking a bit was the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes as warm, strong hands stroked his chest softly.

"I... I'm sor..." he mumbled, swallowing hard at the soft, gentle touches.

"Hush, darlin'," Elliot said with a smile, his fingers gingerly roaming over one small, pale pink nipple. "You don't have anything to be sorry for."

"El's right, baby," Trevor purred, staring at the young man's face raptly. "Unless what you're sorry about is not letting us see your face when you came... you must have been so beautiful, Robert... just as beautiful as you are right now."

The younger blond's sigh was shaky and embarrassed but not unhappy. "I... this isn't normal, is it?" he finally asked quietly, forcing himself to meet brown eyes then blue ones. "It's only been... not long," he said, nearly whispering the last.

Elliot gave Trevor one sharp look, nodding as his lover somehow understood and joined him in laying down beside their boy, wrapping gently but firmly around him.

"Robert," he said softly, "There's no predetermined length of time with this sort of thing, okay?" His hand slid up the shivering chest, finally cupping one soft, tense cheek. "And maybe you wouldn't be ready for even this much if we weren't HERE, darlin'. In this place. And I... I think Trev's Powers might have something to do with how you're feeling, too."

Trevor chuckled, shifting just a bit to lay his head on Robert's shoulder, his fingers trailing slowly across the smaller man's upper abdomen. "I thought it was those manitous of yours, baby..."

The older blond laughed and rolled his eyes. "It's Manitou. No ‘s’. And they're not mine, they're... I guess they belong to this place. But either way, they're powers too and I think maybe... they wanted you better, darlin'," he finished, his hand on Robert's cheek pulling him to look his way.

It would be so easy to think of that as another violation if it were true, but... he didn't want to feel violated anymore, Robert decided.

No... he wanted to feel blessed, just as he'd felt earlier... and as he hoped to feel again soon if he could manage to... push himself. He wasn't fully sure that he was ready to engage in complete intimacy, but... "I want... bloody hell," he managed before stopping himself with a hot blush.

"What, baby?" Trevor whispered, his fingers slowly and subtly slipping just a bit farther down the surprisingly toned and chiseled body. "What do you want? We... we'll give you anything, okay?"

"Yeah, darlin'... whatever you want, whatever you need. We... Christ, don't get scared, Robert, but we... love you, okay? I know we kinda implied it the other day, but… it needs to be said plainly. We LOVE you. ANYTHING you want or need, we’ll see to it, okay?" He nodded at the suddenly wide-eyed gaze the words got him then Elliot leaned a minuscule distance closer, pressing his mouth simply to soft pink lips he hadn't tasted since DC.

Robert's eyes were still wide, although somewhat misty when Elliot pulled back. He glanced down quickly, swallowing hard again as he watched Trevor's hand move over his skin. "I want... bloody hell, I... can we... try? I just..." he blushed again. "I'd like to try... bloody... I love you, too. B-both of you." And didn't that make him feel just a little bit like a slut? Two men? And he... yes, he loved them both. He just didn't know if he could bear to...

Trevor smiled and raised his head, looking carefully at his lover and their young man. "I'm voting that we take it slow, baby," he murmured, taking his turn to kiss the young, skittish blond gently. "But you're in charge, Robert," he added softly, meeting the still-damp brown eyes with a serious but loving gaze. "If we-- either of us-- cross the line even a little, you have to promise you'll say so, okay?"

"And we'll stop, darlin'," Elliot whispered sincerely. "We'll stop pushing and just... do everything we can to make you smile. We're trusting you to know your own limits and... we'll never hurt you, love. I promise you that."

And somehow, that had been just what he'd needed to hear, Robert realized. "I know," he said softly, his eyes traveling from one loving stare to the other. "I do know... and I trust you." It was important for him to say it. Important that he say it to THEM. "I... couldn't love you if I didn't... trust you."

Trevor and Elliot exchanged one deep, promising look before focusing their attentions on their boy. They would do everything they could to ensure that Robert felt nothing but joy and pleasure in whatever happened that day... and no matter what point they DID stop at, they had time.

Time to let their new love get used to them, to their touches, their hands, their lips, tongues and moans... and one day soon, they knew, their boy would want, need, desire the entirety of them. And that day would be soon enough.

Part Thirty-Seven

Harris almost didn't open the e-mail, simply because he didn't recognize the sender's name. "Who the hell is HyLeeStressed?" he murmured, then shrugged.

Maybe it was Willow or Buffy. Every once in a while they changed addys and dropped him a note to let him know. He figured it was because their other accounts got swamped by Watchers, Slayers, and in Willow's case, witches from all over the world.

He clicked the mail open, scrolling to the bottom to see which of them it was, then shook his head in disgust at himself. "Duh. Hy Lee. ‘Patia."

It took less than a moment to scroll up again and read what the woman had sent.


By the time you get this, I'll be approximately twenty thousand feet in the air. I know I promised to call but things got a bit... out of hand with my business.

It's more or less taken care of now, though, and I've decided that I deserve a bit of time back home. Even a player for the Powers deserves a bit of a holiday once in a while, right? Or once in six years, as the case may be. LOL

I have it on good authority that Trevor and Elliot will truly heal Robert, so I think you can stop worrying about them and start worrying about yourself and William.

You need to tell him, Xander. He deserves to know the true reason you're so reluctant to agree to Mating. As much as you love him, he loves you equally. How would you feel if your positions were reversed and HE was hesitating about spending his life with YOU? What if he came to you one day and told you that he wasn't sure he wanted to be with you for more than a few years? Because that's what he's getting from it, I'm sure.

Tell him, Harris. He'll understand.

As for the rest of it... considering the lives they lead, you're already likely to outlive the Slayer and the Maiden-Crone, not to mention your other friends amongst the Watchers and such. I know it may seem cold to be pointing this out to you, but it's the truth.

Do you really believe that your real friends would want you to pass on a chance to be happy for what amounts to forever? That they'd prefer it if you died sooner than necessary?

Yes, they might be jealous that you have the opportunity and they don't, but that's no reason to refuse. You all took your lives into your hands more times than I can count and one or more of you could have died at any time. The Slayer DID die. TWICE, if you'll recall.

I know you remember how you felt about that. Do you honestly believe your friends wouldn't be thrilled to know that there was ONE state of mourning they could avoid if they somehow DID manage not to die?

I'm not saying that Spike is wrong about the drawbacks, but it's a very human thing to mourn those you've lost, and as I said, you're likely to mourn them anyway.

Someone once said-- and no, I don't recall who it was, so don't ask-- someone once said that as long as a single person in the world remembers someone, they aren't truly dead. That they exist in memory for as long as someone who's known them lived. In that sense, you'd never lose them, Xander. They'd always be a part of you… and they’d always be a part of your world, yes?

The same applies to Trevor, Elliot and Robert... and Robert's grandmother. In fact, I'd be surprised if the gents haven't already assumed that Spike would find some way to keep you by his side forever. Trevor and Elliot, anyway.

But none of that is why you've been avoiding the issue, is it?


He has a right to know.

And now that I've managed to insert my nose so fully into your business, I have a plane to catch.

Give my best to William. And I WILL call you gents in a few days. I’m afraid I may not have been entirely candid with you regarding my past and Trevor’s and... things have happened which you have a right to know about in MY opinion. I’ll explain later.

Until then, feel free to e-mail me at this account. Take care, Xander.

#sending virtual hugs#

~Hypatia Lee

(P.S.~ Ask him what's in the box he's been hiding. Because YOU deserve to know. ~H) ~

* * * * *

"Okay, and how NOT fair is it that she knows stuff like that?" Harris grumbled to himself as he created a new folder in his e-mail and hid Hypatia's letter in it.

"That who knows stuff like what, luv?" Spike purred from the doorway, his eyes slowly caressing the tanned skin and tousseled dark hair.

He jumped slightly then laughed uncomfortably, swiftly shutting the laptop down and spinning his chair towards his claimed. "Huh? Oh, Willow! She, uh... said I need a hair cut. And how could she know that?"

Spike snorted softly, well aware that his Claimed was lying to him. Still, the bloke would tell him the truth eventually, even if he had to spank it out of him. Besides...

"Red must be out of her mind, pet... th' longer hair suits you." The vampire smirked, staring at one dark, wavy lock where it brushed the claiming scar lightly. "Suppose you could tie it back if you wanted ta, but I'd be bloody disappointed if you cut it. Like wrappin' my fist around it an' usin' it like a set of reins, luv... pullin' you back inta my thrusts, makin' you arch your back..." He purred, one hand stroking slowly over the swelling bulge in his jeans.

The brunette shivered, watching that hand as he leaned back in his desk chair. "Did you just call me a... a pony?" he whispered, licking his lips.

"Pure stallion, luv... wild, untamed... a buckin' bronco, you are..." The pointed tip of a pink tongue peeked between full, pale pink lips. "Luv masterin' you anew each an' every time, pet..."

And Harris couldn't help laughing at that even while his own cock hardened beneath the baggy, cut-off sweats he'd been wearing to work in while Spike dealt with some of his investments over the phone.

He slid out of his chair, crossing the room on hands and knees, his eye locked on heated blue until he reached the long, lean shape in the doorway. His hands slid slowly up denim-clad legs to strong thighs and he laid his cheek against the hardness of Spike's groin. "Bet I can make YOU buck, Spike... buck and heave and beg..." and ask you about that box I almost forgot existed, he added silently, turning his head a bit to lip at the fly of his vampire's jeans.

“Know you can, precious,” Spike purred, one hand gathering the longish dark hair into a thick hank and wrapping fingers around it. “Doesn’t mean I don’t still want you ta prove it...” He gave his Claimed’s hair a gentle tug, watching avidly as pearly white teeth found the waist of his jeans and tugged, popping the first button from its hole. “Bloody hell... luv it when you do that, pet...”

Harris cast one slow, teasing gaze up into his vampire’s eyes and smirked wickedly. “Yeah... kinda already knew that, Spike,” he said smugly before returning to his task and tugging another button free, then a third. His tongue slid playfully into the spreading triangle of fabric, sliding slowly over pale, cool flesh before tugging the remaining buttons free.

Spike bit his lip to keep from gasping and tightened his hand on the restrained locks of dark silk as he watched his beloved work. “Pet... bloody hell, pet. Can’t wait ta feel your lips around me... ta bury myself in that hot, wet mouth of yours... feel your throat tight an’ graspin’ around me...”

Harris laughed, slowly running his hands down Spike’s legs, then back up before hooking his thumbs into the now-loose waist of the jeans and tugging them carefully down to his love’s knees. The sound that sprung from his lips as he stared at the long, thick cock suddenly bobbing in front of him was almost a purr and almost a growl. “Your claimed,” he murmured roughly, “No waiting.”

Blond hair thunked back against the door jamb as he felt himself engulfed in wet heat, warm fingers sliding over his thighs and around him to grip his ass, pulling him closer and Spike was as good as his word, using his grasp on his Xan’s hair to direct the slow movements in counterpoint. “Bloody fuckin’ hell,” he growled, letting his features shift with sheer pleasure.

He’d swallowed him down immediately, unable to resist the impulse to make his vampire moan. That goal achieved, however, Harris chuckled silently and pulled back, teeth scraping lightly over sensitive flesh. His tongue slid slowly around the already seeping tip, prying lightly at the tiny slit exposed by the wrinkly foreskin and he grinned as much as he could around the perfect shaft as that skin pulled back for him.

His fingers flexed lightly in the amazing, toned globes of flesh as he nipped gently before sliding himself to Spike’s base again, his nose buried in the short dark hairs as he inhaled the musky, salty scent he loved so much.

“Fuck... fuck, Xan... yah, pet...” It was the obvious enjoyment on his human’s face that got him every time. Hell, it excited him knowing his Xan wanted to give him this even more than the act itself. Not that he’d ever say so, of course. He wasn’t THAT big of a ponce. “Bloody...” his eyes closed and he gasped, hips rocking between the door jamb and the amazing mouth around him. “D-don’t...”

‘Don’t’? Harris laughed inside, even as he slid his mouth to the very tip of his vampire’s shaft and reversed the motion, taking it deep into his throat again as one hand released a clenching cheek and slipped over soft, pale skin to cup and roll his love’s tightening sac. He swallowed hard, feeling every ridge and vein in his mouth and throat throbbing in time with his motions. Oh, yeah... he loved doing this. Almost as much as he loved filling Spike... or being filled by him.

And his Claimed was definitely working himself up to another spanking, a small and somehow rational part of Spike’s brain noticed. Still, the rest of him was too absorbed in the sheer sensation to pay any attention as he thrust shallowly into the adored throat, his cock thickening even more as the fingers toying with his balls slid back, pressing at that space between tackle and hole, then pushing between tense cheeks to rub over his anus and...

“P-pet... please...” he growled, forcing his Claimed’s mouth to his base again and rocking there. “XAN!” he yelped as one finger slammed deep into his ass even while the human’s contented groan vibrated him beyond enough.

Harris’s finger pressed deeper, finding the small, hard nub within his adored vampire and he rumbled around the thick head in his throat as he twitched at it wickedly. His eye flicked up, and he came himself as he saw the look of intense need on Spike’s face, just as he felt the pulsing shaft between his lips start to spill fast and hard down his throat, then into his mouth as he pulled back just a few inches to enjoy the taste of lust, need, passion and love as it burst over his tongue.

He sucked softly and carefully for the next little while, drawing every possible trace of flavor into himself, his own cum growing cool against him in the cut-offs, but he didn’t care. He could have spent eternity with Spike’s cock in his mouth and not minded. Not until he starved to death, anyway, he thought with a small laugh. Man couldn’t live by protein alone, after all. Or not forever, anyway.

“Bloody hell,” Spike finally whispered, his fingers releasing the human’s hair and stroking through it slowly as his Xan continued to suck and lap gently at his softening member, “Guess you won that bet, Claimed...”

Harris grinned, finally releasing the wonderful and adored cock to look up at his love. “Mmmm... yeah. Think I got the bucking... the heaving...” He cocked his head and grinned, remembering the ‘please’. “And the begging, too. Cool.”

The vampire chuckled, sinking to his knees before the brunette and pressing a slow, deep kiss to his lips, tasting himself and the uniquely ‘Xander’ flavor he loved so much. “Guess I owe you one, ‘ey luv?” Spike grinned, pulling the much younger man fully against him.

“Think you might be pullin’ your finger outta my bum anytime soon?” he added teasingly, “ ‘s goin’ ta be a bit hard ta carry you off ta bed with it there...”

One more slow crooking of his finger to make his love groan and Harris gently removed the digit in question with a sly grin. “I have a feeling you would have found a way, babe, but...” He shrugged playfully. “Guess I can put it back later.”

Another groan. “Among other things, beloved...”

Tangled brown hair swung slightly as the human’s lips found a pinkish scar and teeth nibbled softly at the edges.

“So... if you owe me one, babe,” Harris finally said, “How about telling me what’s in that box you’ve been hiding?”

Spike tensed a bit then pulled back to meet his lover’s eye. “Not sure I should,” he said with a sigh. “Don’t want ta... ’s not a good time, beloved.”

Harris arched his brow skeptically. “And this from Mr. ’it’s always a good time for prezzies’? Mr. ’I know it’s seven AM and we just went to sleep an hour ago but I got you something and I forgot, so wake up and open it already’?”

He sighed again and shook his head. “Don’t want ta push, luv. ‘s just... somethin’ I got for you a while ago an’... it can wait, yah?”

The brown eye closed and Harris shook his head. “I... no. I don’t think it can. Because... I need to tell you something and when I’m done... I don’t know if you’ll still want to give me anything, much less a gift.”

Yet another sigh at the serious and worried expression on his Claimed’s face. He leaned closer, kissing the bloke again slowly. “Right, then. Showers, then prezzie, then talk?”

“I... yeah,” the brunette said quietly, hoping ’Patia was right about telling Spike... and hoping Spike wouldn’t react badly, too.

Part Thirty-Eight

“There was a time,” Harris said slowly as he sat cross-legged on their bed while Spike lounged apparently without a care in the world against the headboard, “when I was possessive enough to put a vampire to shame. ANY vampire. Not just a souled one.”

He frowned and closed his eye, taking a sip from the glass of whiskey Spike had insisted he have, and it was a good thought, he realized.

“I... you weren’t in Sunnydale yet, Spike. It was this whole thing.” He sighed and shook his head. “But maybe I should start at the beginning.”

The vampire arched a brow and sipped at his own glass, wishing his beloved would let him hold him... or at least that he’d given the bloke his gift first, but by the time they’d reached their bed, the human had changed his mind, saying ‘if you still want to after, then okay’. “Know most of the beginnin‘, don’t I, pet?” he murmured after a minute or so of echoing silence. “Just... tell me what’s wrong, luv. Don’t... don’t care ta see you all... anxious like this. Not unless it’s because you’re worryin’ ‘bout someone seein’ us shaggin’ in th’ corner of a bar, yah?”

Harris laughed at that, then frowned again. “Okay. Well, after preying-mantis-lady, there was this... thing. A field trip.”

Spike nodded, entirely clueless about what a school trip could have to do with anything this many years later. “An’...?”

“Well, there was this whole... hyena thing. Possessed by the spirit, blah-blah-blah.” His eye teared slightly. “And no, I’m not still possessed, okay? But... when I WAS, I... fuck, Spike! I had a PACK! A group of people who belonged to me just as much as I belonged to THEM! Do you...” Harris sighed and shook his head. “Of course you don’t understand, babe. How could you?”

The vampire snorted. “Course I DO understand, luv. Didn’t know you were ever a bloody hyena, but know what it’s like ta belong, don’t I? What do you think bein’ a part of th’ order of Aurelius meant? It was havin’ a bloody family. One that couldn’t turn me away… or not for good, in any case. So I get that, beloved. Not sure what it has ta do with anythin’, though.”

Harris swallowed hard and nodded, looking at the glass in his hand rather than at his love. “I kind of... never got over it. The... wanting to belong part, I mean. It felt... okay, I’m not thrilled about the eating the pig and trying to... mate with Buffy, but...”

He bit his lip and sneaked a glance at the blond. “I think... that’s a part of why I was so mad at you when you came back to Sunnyhell with the soul, Spike. Because you’d sort of tried to... force her, and I did that too, only years earlier, and... I still felt so guilty deep down inside...” Harris shrugged. “It should have made me more sympathetic but it didn’t, huh?”

Spike frowned, fighting the impulse to move and take his Xan into his arms. He could tell that wasn’t what the younger man needed. “Nah. Didn’t, luv. But we wouldn’t be here an’ now if you had, yah?” He tried to smile, sure the expression looked shaky. “I’m guessin’ you’re goin’ somewhere with this, right?”

The brunette smiled a little, mostly because Spike hadn’t lied to make him feel better. “Yeah.”

“So there I was,” he continued, “all un-possessed by the hyena thing and... I still wanted that, Spike. Wanted to feel like I belonged. Like I had a place, even if I wasn’t the alpha anymore. And who could I choose to make ‘pack’ other than my friends? My friends who thought I didn’t remember anything that happened while I WAS possessed?”

The vampire blinked. “You lied ta your mates, pet? Told them you didn’t know what happened?” He chuckled. “Bloody hell. Didn’t know you had it in you, luv.”

One semi-amused brown eye rolled. “It’s not like they could SMELL the lie, is it babe? Besides... Giles knew. He just didn’t tell.”

“Watcher always was a reasonably decent bloke, except when he was playin’ MASTER Giles, what with th’ chains an’ th’ bathtub an’ whatnot,” Spike admitted after a moment. “That aside, Xan... what’s th’ point of this little stroll down memory lane?”

Harris frowned and drained his glass. “I named them ‘pack’ in my head, Spike... and in my heart. And a part of me... a large part of me... feels like I’d be betraying them if I... Mate to you.” His head drooped, as did his shoulders. “I don’t know how to say yes to you without saying ‘no’ to my pack,” he finished softly.

And was that all? Spike frowned, wondering how his beloved didn’t see it. “An’ me, Xan...? What am I ta you?” He cocked his head curiously. “Was a part of th’ Scooby gang, more or less. But maybe that doesn’t count, yah?”

It was the nearly hidden sense of ‘not enough, never good enough, not loved enough’ that had Harris’s eye flying to his claimed’s face. “You... you’re pack too, babe... always, since you joined us and started helping us and tried to protect Dawn, and you're my claimed which means even more and...” he stopped talking suddenly, his own words hitting him.

“You’re pack... mine... always... and I almost never see them and you’re here and mine and I’m yours and...” he blushed hotly. “And I’m an idiot.”

The smile that spread across his lips was probably fatuous and sappy, but Spike didn’t care. He just tossed his glass aside and leaned forward, pulling his human close and wrapping his arms tight around him.

“Won’t say you don’t have your moments, luv,” he admitted with yet another un-vampire-like grin, “but I’m not goin’ ta rub it in. This time.”

* * * * *

He’d been laying against his love for hours that seemed like minutes before he remembered. “So...” Harris whispered against the toned, pale chest. “Do I get my ‘prezzie’ now?”

Spike chuckled a little nervously as he pulled away, then reached into the drawer of the bedside table and pulled out the small box.

“Look, Xan,” he said anxiously as his beloved reached for the box, “It doesn’t have ta be anything you don’t want it ta, right? Could just be... a promise, yah? That we’ll be together, no matter how long…”

It was a very small box. A very small velvet box. A very small velvet box that hinged at the back... the kind of box a ring might come in.

Harris swallowed hard and wrapped careful fingers around it, pulling slightly away from his lover as he bit his lip and slowly pried the box open.

He stared at the platinum band, his eye noticing the Aurelius crest etched into the thick ring of metal as well as the small diamonds and rubies scattered near it, then he gazed at his vampire. “Spike... this is...”

“A consort’s ring. Yah. That’d be th’ next step after Matin’, luv...” The vampire sighed almost hopelessly. “Know you haven’t really thought about it, pet, but... I’m th’ last of my line, yah? Makes me th’ Master of Aurelius. An’ you’re my Claimed. Even if you don’t want ta be my Mated, Xan... or my Consort... th’ ring will protect you, alright? More than th’ Claim does, at any rate.”

Brown hair bobbed slowly as Harris tried to wrap his mind around what Spike had just said. Mate. Consort. And Spike was right, he’d never thought about what it meant that Darla was dust, and Angel was dust... and even if Dru had been alive-- as much as she’d ever been since he’d known her-- she wouldn’t have been able to master anything other than the attack of the killer dollies, and even then she’d only have been one of the Generals...

His mind whirled, examining every possible outcome of accepting or declining the offer that wasn’t even on the table anymore, although the ring seemed to imply that it was.

His eye finally found Spike’s and he shook his head. “No, I... I can’t accept this, Spike,” he whispered, pressing the box and ring back into the vampire’s hand. “You should keep it.”

He waited until he saw the despair start to settle over his love’s face, then leaned in and kissed him.

“You know... until after we Mate. Can’t wear a Consort’s ring until after we’re at least Mated, right?” Harris said with a grin, only to find himself suddenly pinned beneath the long, strong, stunned and ecstatic form of his Claimed.

“You’ve DEFINITELY earned a spankin’ this time, beloved,” Spike whispered warningly, “But later. Right now...”

“Right now?” Harris echoed, meeting wide and glowing golden eyes, “Right now... what, babe?” His tongue crept out to lay one slow swipe over the tense jaw he could just reach.

“Right now I’m goin’ ta make luv ta you, precious… over an’ over again, ‘til you pass out from bloody exhaustion,” Spike growled, “an’ somewhere in there you’re goin’ ta become eligible ta wear my ring. You got a problem with that?”

And what could any one-eyed human in love with a vampire who wanted to own him say, other than “No... no problem, here... do it, Spike... babe...”

"Yours," the vampire whispered, staring into the warm, loving brown eye. "Always yours, Xan..."

He swallowed hard and couldn't quite manage to speak, other than three simple words. "Mine," he agreed shakily, "And yours."

"Bloody right, pet... forever, yah...?" He didn't wait for another word, instead choosing to press his lips hard to his beloved's, bodies rocking slowly against each others’ as the deep night gave way slowly to the softly growing glow of the rising sun.

The End

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