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Rating: NC-17 overall (cuz… this is me. LOL)
Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, Joss Whedon. He owns. I do not, sadly.

A/N: This is kinda different from my other stuff and I’m kinda nervous about it.
Future fic, sort of. Everything in canon happened just as on the show, pretty much, but this takes place a number of years later. MY take on what might have happened after Angel announced that he wanted to slay the dragon

Slip Slide Melting

Tisienne Blue


I am not entirely certain of why I am keeping this record, although perhaps it is simply so that I can remember clearly all the things which will not appear in the official histories.

It is possible that some day, someone other than myself might stumble upon these pages and think them merely a story, a fable… some sort of ‘what if’, and if so, then so be it.

I can merely state that these words—my words—are sincere and true to the best of my knowledge, and I am, in actuality, in a position to know.

That said, if anyone else does ever read this, they are to feel free to draw their own conclusions. That is exactly why I am leaving my pages within this volume in the Great Library.

As in the past, nobody truly cares to read dry, dusty tomes. Not when ‘everyone knows’ what really happened.

My brother has written his version of what happened, and I do not doubt his source, but neither do I doubt my own.

It is possibly a simple matter of different perspectives, however, I do not feel that the actuality lies with either version entirely.

History is written by those who survive its events. Truth, on the other hand, remains truth… regardless of whether it is believed or not.

So. The truth as I have come to understand it, based upon both family stories and many hours of research in the stacks beneath the Citadel.

The world—our world—was not always as it is now, and yes, I am aware that every child, every person human or otherwise knows this. I simply state it as an opening to the history I choose to impart.

So the world is different.

Our age is different in so many ways from the age before, but the largest dissimilarity is the magic.

It surrounds us, fills the air and our very beings. We are suffused with it. Even those without the ability to make use of their magic bear it within them.

Some say that this was always so, and perhaps they are right. How else to explain the existence of the most wondrous, magical thing of all—the soul?

Still, that being said and stipulated, perhaps it is not so much a question of whether we have always borne the magic within us, but a question of degree and ability to access those powers.

I believe it to be so, in any case, and all because of one vampire who had within him the magic of humanity… a soul.

“Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.”

These are the words which the High Coven claim started the Change although their tune has changed since the Magus Prime announced his findings. Initially they had laid the blame for the Chaos on far different shoulders, but I am getting ahead of myself.

* * * * * * * * *

Africa was hot. Sunny, most times. Deadly, all the time; especially if a guy wasn’t familiar with danger.

Fortunately, Xander Harris was familiar. Hell, he’d grown up on a Hellmouth of all things, fought beside the Slayer in the days when there’d been only one, and come out of it all relatively intact.

Maybe he wasn’t as smart as his friend Willow or as strong as the Slayer, Buffy. He obviously wasn’t as learned as his mentor Rupert Giles or as steeped in history as his former—and now late—fiancee Anyanka.

Yes, there were many things which Xander Harris was not. And one of those things was ‘stupid’, regardless of the façade he’d frequently presented in his home town.

Thus it was that when the sky darkened, lowering violet thunderheads nearly touching the ground while eye-searing jagged shatters of bright orange and green lightening lit up the indigo night, he didn’t panic.

He didn’t panic and he didn’t run.

He simply dropped his rucksack beside him, pulled the oilcloth tarp over himself and it, and dug his fingers hard into the sandy ground beneath him, holding on with a determination many would have thought unlike him.

It was a stubborn sort of determination, for he was a stubborn sort of man.

He had survived more demons, apocalypses, mystical ailments, murderous lovers and spiritual possessions than any one human should ever have heard of, much less experienced, and he’d be damned if he was going to run from a sudden storm, freaky and obviously unnatural as it was.

He sat there, motionless, beneath his cover, lips moving silently in the one spell he’d let his witch friend teach him. He hoped it would keep the creeping, stabbing lightning from him, for the charm was one of protection and it did seem to work. Initially, at least.

He didn’t look out from beneath his sparse shelter. Didn’t let himself see the people of the nearby village running and being struck.

Of course, that meant that he also didn’t see some of them rise again… changed.

He also didn’t see—because he wasn’t looking, of course—that the strikes grew closer. Slowly. Inexorably. As though drawn to him.

Hah! Xander Harris may very well have been a ‘demon-magnet’ at the time, but I fear my brother is somewhat biased if he truly wishes people to believe that this was a demonic storm. And yet, people being what they are, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that most choose to believe this… fantasy.

The lighting felt him, sought him out. It knew, somehow, that he was the one it was meant to find. And when it had built in force, built in strength, built in power… it struck. Viciously. Violently. Roughly. Enough so that it melted the very earth upon which he sat as it poured into him, suffusing his entire being with its own energy.

And again I say, my brother is a drama queen. ‘Built in, built in, built in…’ and does anyone but me realize that he said the same bloody thing three times with different words? Twice?

Add in the fact that he’s ascribing thought and reasoning to a bleeding storm, and…

I apologize, future reader. He tends to irritate me greatly. I will do my utmost to restrain myself within these pages.

It’s still an incredibly wordy way of saying that Xander got hit by lightning. A lot. And probably because he was doing sustained magic while the storm was in full force.

When the smoke cleared and the clouds faded-- as quickly as they’d appeared-- the remaining villagers discovered him there, sunk in the bottom of a crater and yet apparently untouched, although the sandy earth around him had become a nearly perfect bowl of silicate glass.

In the interests of accuracy, while Xander’s physical wellbeing was and is quite remarkable, it should be pointed out that sand does generally become glass when struck by lightning or heated to sufficient temperatures.

That Xander Harris was not immediately put to death as an agent of evil is a testament, of course, to the overwhelming goodness which even the savage people who discovered him could sense.

Thus it was that instead of a summarily executed death, he was delivered unto his own people. Those known at the time as Watchers.

Right. I’ve had about as much of this as I can take. Liam is a bloody ponce and I’ll be damned if I’m going to follow his lead by being as uptight and pedantic here as he is.

It’s no bloody wonder nobody wants to read the official histories. They’re sodding boring! And apparently my dear brother has taken it upon himself to make them even more so.

What the hell was our Father thinking when he put him in charge of this?

Then again, he probably just wanted to get the git out of his hair, not to mention out of the work room.

Screw the ‘official’ history.

Here’s how it really happened.

Part One

It was dark when he came to in the alley. Dark enough that it actually took him a good few moments to realize that things were different than they’d been when the… when the what?

Spike’s brow furrowed and he forced himself to roll onto his side, his body tensed for the overwhelming pain he was expecting.

“Huh. Don’t that just beat all?” he mumbled to himself before swallowing hard at the raspy tone of his own voice. Bloody hell, his throat was dry. Then again, it had been… fuck, hours since he’d last fed, and even then he hadn’t had much.

‘Need to stay in fighting trim, Spike. Don’t want you all bogged down with bloody-belly or anything’, Angel had said, handing him the one measly mug of blood. “Not even the big mug, either,” he grumbled. “Pissant wanker.”

So yeah, he remembered his last so-called meal… then they’d… he’d…

“Right. The alley. But if I’m still alive… or as much as I was before… then what the bloody fuck happened?”

It was a good question, he realized, as he struggled a bit to maneuver himself relatively upright, putting his back to the wall that had initially been beside him as he ticked the recollections off on his fingers.

“The baby.” One finger. “Kicked the Brethrens’ asses.” Second finger. “Met Broody the Wonder-Git in the alley…” Third finger—appropriately enough, Spike thought with a smirk.

He frowned then, remembering… Wesley hadn’t made it. He’d died facing Vail.

Gunn had made a good stand against the hordes and Illyria had been wrong. He hadn’t lasted ten minutes. He’d made it for fifteen before going down to a combination of blood loss and heavy attack, and Illyria hadn’t been far behind, though the burst of energy when her ‘shell’ had been terminated had done more damage to their foes than the loss of her had done them, he supposed.

“Bloody hell,” he sighed softly, looking up at the stars as something made his vision blur slightly, “Angel… Angel and that bleedin’ dragon!”

He’d seen the older vampire slay the beast, although it hadn’t been a pretty or neat proposition and he’d been engaged in his own battles at the time. Still, he’d found the time to spare a glance for the Aurelian Master every now and then, and…

“The sword… right up through that soft spot under the thing’s chin… and fire…”

Spike shivered.

He remembered it all now.

His acting Sire, because Dru had never been stable enough to be such, regardless of making him… Angel, in flames… Angel, dust.

He’d been frozen as he’d watched that. So frozen, in fact, that it had gotten him a scythe in the chest… and then the dragon had exploded, a large chunk of brick and mortar had been coming straight for him and he still couldn’t move, and then pain and a flash of… something in the sky, and then…

“Nothing. Bloody…”

He shifted again, slowly, carefully, waiting for the pain that never came.

“What th’…” Spike muttered, looking down at himself.

Same clothes-- torn, bloodied, singed in places… but no wounds, no scrapes, not even a bruise. And that was when he finally looked at the alley he’d woken in.

“What the bloody… fuckin’… hell…” he whispered to himself, getting to his feet as he stared, stunned, at the clean cement, the spotless walls that still bore the scars of the battle but none of the detritus he expected.

One hand pressed against the bricks, their solidity somehow comforting as he moved slowly towards the street and it was only as he reached it and looked behind him that he noticed the plaque.

On this spot, 19 May, 2004, with the death of the Dragon, the Magic was released into the World. Powers help us all.

“What the bloody fuckin’ hell…” Spike whispered again, “Did I wake up in another bleedin’ dimension or somethin’?”

“A better question would be how you managed to get into the Citadel grounds, vampire.”

* * * * *

Apparently there were some sort of wards set in a good three block radius around the Hyperion, Spike realized as he sat in the relatively comfortable chair the… soldiers?... cops?... security guards?... whatever they were, had pushed him into.

“Look, you bloody gits,” he said for approximately the thirtieth time in the last half hour, “I. Don’t. Sodding. Know, do I? Woke up, you prats nabbed me, and here I bloody am, right? Don’t see you telling me how you know I’m a vampire, either.”

The two guards in the room exchanged an amused glance, though one of them found himself frowning immediately after. “Humanoid. No heat signature. No breath or heartbeat. Besides, everyone knows Citadel guards are spelled to see the truth while on duty…”

“George!” the second guard hissed, “what are you doing? He knows that. He has to know. Everyone knows!”

George sighed and shook his head. “I know the seeing spell didn’t hit you very hard when it was cast, Jordan, but look at him. I mean, really look at him! He has no idea of what we’re talking about.” He glanced again at the clearly impatient vampire. “Do you?”

Spike snorted and shrugged. “Know the both of you are bloody daft, don’t I? Fine way to greet a bloke, too. Sticking a sodding taser in his back and making him goosestep to your bleeding brig, yeah?”

Jordan sighed and turned away, ignoring the urge to shift to his true seeming even though he’d be able to smell whether the vampire was lying or not if he were in his natural state. Still, the Magus Prime preferred it if his guards maintained one appearance while dealing with a suspect. He said it kept the perps—‘possible perps’, Jordan reminded himself—from getting confused.

George chuckled quietly, fully aware of what his partner was thinking. They’d been working together for close to six years, after all. It would be sad if he didn’t know Jordan’s moods by now. Hell, he spent more time with the half-Grathnic than he did with his own wife and kids.

“Okay, point,” he said with a nod to the vampire. “And maybe you’ve got some totally innocent reason for being inside the wards and looking like that. Maybe you’re not here with some ‘new’ idea to kill the Magus Prime, but you need to understand…” George pulled a matching chair across the floor and sat down a few feet away from the bleached blond. He leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees as he met pale, robin’s-egg-blue eyes frankly. “We get at least ten attempts every year. Vampires, other demons… hell, we even get a true human every once in a while. And they all want the same thing. To end him. End his rule.”

Jordan snorted and mastered the urge to shift before he turned back around. “Why is it that you people never understand that you can’t do it? He can’t be killed, can’t be stopped. And even if he could be, what’s the alternative? Chaos?” He snarled softly under his breath. “Thanks, but we had that. We had it for two and a half years before the Magus Prime consolidated his rule. Things were… beyond bad until he took over, and you people want to go back to those days? To nobody but the Darksiders being able to walk the streets at night?”

Spike knew he was blinking but he couldn’t help himself. “What the bleeding fuck are you talking about, mate? Who the sodding hell is this Magoo, and what the fuck does he, she or it have to do with me?”

The two guards shared another glance with each other then turned away from the vampire. This one was better than the others, they recognized. He actually seemed to be sincerely baffled.

It wasn’t until they entered the blond’s information into the magetrix and received a flashing blue screen with the words ‘contact the Lieutenant’ that they even entertained the notion that he might truly not know what was going on.

Then again, the Lesser Magi were always finding new spells, so maybe the vampire truly believed that he didn’t know.

* * * * *

As the more level-headed of them, George made the call.

“Lieutenant. Agent Argila. Septant Nine. I… the magetrix instructed… yes,” he said, relieved.

He tried not to stare at the vampire who was obviously fidgeting as his superior spoke.

“Yes, sir… yes, just above the left. Uh, one moment, sir. I’ll ask.”

Spike arched a brow as the ‘agent’ cleared his throat.

“Uh, your eyebrow. How did you get the…”

The vampire smirked. “Sword. Slayer. China. Boxer rebellion, if you really want to know.” He wasn’t sure of what exactly was going on but he had a feeling that… if he had any hope of escaping this bloody interrogation room, it lay in answering the so-called agent’s questions… and honestly, as much as it might rankle.

“Bint tried telling me something, but I didn’t speak Chinese. Still don’t, in point of fact.” He frowned. He’d been meaning to learn. He’d just gotten… sidetracked, what with his bizarre obsession with Buffy, getting his soul, saving the world, coming back as a ghost, saving the world again—apparently—and once again not dying permanently in the last… ‘final battle’.

George relayed that information, even though he had a feeling the Lieutenant had heard the vampire’s words. His brow furrowed a moment later, but he dutifully repeated his superior’s next question.

“Who was your Sire?”

Spike growled softly and looked away from the surprisingly non-offensive bloke who’d just asked a very touchy question.

“Define ‘Sire’,” he demanded a moment later, his fingers lacing together in his lap.

“De… define?”

Spike snarled. “If you mean the one what turned me, that was my Dru. My ripe, wicked plum.” He sighed softly, still missing her a bit although not nearly as much as he’d done in the past. “If you’re talking about the one who… raised me, for lack of a better term, that was Angelus. Of course, then he went and got cursed with a soul and abandoned us, and Angel was no bloody Angelus, but that’s a whole other bleeding story, isn’t it?”

“S-so your Sire…?” George asked again, worried by the Lieutenant’s indrawn breath.

The blond rolled his eyes. “Made a vampire by Drusilla, who was made by Angelus. Trained by her Sire, that same Angelus, because my Princess was too bloody barmy to do it herself.” He cocked his head. “Or not without teaching me to bark at the bloody moon in any case, and Darla never would have stood for that. Bitch had a bit of a control problem. Had to have it and made it everybody else’s bloody problem until she did.”

The agent swallowed hard at the next question he was to ask, but he voiced it anyway. It wasn’t as though the vampire could harm him, after all. Not with the spell over the Citadel. Then again, the vampire had passed the wards, and that wasn’t supposed to be possible either.

“Who… Gods. Who did you die for?”

Spike found his brows arching as he looked at the man. It wasn’t a simple question, after all… and an even less simple answer, considering.

“Which time?” he finally said. “When I was turned, when I was on the Hellmouth, or… here in L.A.? Because the answers are different for each.”

George repeated that information into the hexicon, then paled at the order he received. “Y-yes, sir… I… we’ll see to it personally. Yes. Myself and agent Dolash. Yes, sir. Ten minutes at most.”

Jordan’s brow was furrowed as his gaze shifted from his partner to the vampire they’d apprehended. “What’s going on, Georgie?” he demanded. Usually their job was simple; even when they came across people like the vampire who was obviously trying to eliminate the Magus Prime. Being told to call the Lieutenant wasn’t usual, though… and neither was their superior asking questions, be it through the hexicon or in writing.

“The Lieutenant wants to see him,” was all the taller man would say as he nodded at the vampire and gestured towards the door.

* * * * *

“Captain,” the Lieutenant said towards the small, shell-like unit on his desk, “The Septant Nine team have another infiltrator.”

He heard the deep sigh coming over the hexicon and tried not to grin. He wasn’t particularly fond of his superior, although he’d never say as much or show it in any way. He knew which side of the bread the butter was on, after all, and no one had ever called him stupid. Naïve, maybe, back in the day. Nerdy, too, and he couldn’t argue with that.

But these days, that was something to be proud of. The ‘nerds’ of fifteen years earlier were the movers and shakers of the post-Change world, after all.

“And why are you bothering me with this?” he heard the Captain say irritably.

The Lieutenant grinned more, still keeping it from his voice. Odds were, the Captain was busy with his wife… or possibly with his husbands, although he didn’t hear the Archivist or his Apprentice in the background.

“This one… well, he knows things that aren’t in any of the available documents. It… he was found at the mouth of The Alley. He apparently has the look, and…” the Lieutenant broke off to bite his lip in a way he’d not done in years.

“And?” the Captain demanded, his voice trembling through the hexicon, though the Lieutenant knew it had to be due to a fluctuation in the conhexion. The Captain was never anything but stolid and stoic, after all.

“He knows about Drusilla,” the Lieutenant said quickly. “And about Angelus teaching Spike to be a vampire.”

“Are you still there?” he asked after nearly two minutes of silence during which he could hear the chattering of children and small sounds of metal being moved. Most likely, the Captain’s family was preparing dinner while the children played.

“Yes. Yes, I’m here,” the Captain said finally. “You have to kill him.”

The Lieutenant blinked. “I thought we should find out who prepped him so well. I mean, the next one could be even better, right? And it would be good to know where and how whoever sent him got their information, right?”

“No!” the Captain growled. “Dust him. That’ll show whoever sent him that we can’t be fooled, even if they send someone who seems like… him again.”

The Lieutenant frowned, keeping his own disagreement from his voice. He’d learned how to do that a good few years earlier, after all, though the Captain hadn’t seemed to notice. “Fine, sir. I just wanted to keep you in the loop. If you feel it would be best to eliminate the vampire, then I’m happy to accommodate your needs.”

The Captain couldn’t keep the smirk from his voice. “I know you are. You always have been.”

The Lieutenant seethed once his Captain ended the hexicon call. ‘Always have been’? Well, yeah. He’d spread himself for the bigger man more than once, and while they’d both enjoyed it, it had been… empty. The Captain had a wife and two husbands, and between the four of them they had six children.

Granted, none of the six were the Captain’s, but biology didn’t much matter. Emotionally the children were the Captain’s, and…

And he was avoiding, the Lieutenant admitted. Avoiding thinking about what his boss had told him to do.

The Captain had never told him to eliminate any of the previous pretenders. Not even once. In fact, he’d never even suggested it in tone OR words. And yet… here he was, telling him to just… kill the faux-Spike? Out of nowhere?

It was… worrisome.

In fact, it was so worrisome that the Lieutenant found himself leaning closer to the unit on his desk and speaking words he almost never used during work hours.

“Magus Prime.”

Part Two

Spike couldn’t control the way his eyes widened as he was ushered into ‘the Lieutenant’s’ office.

In fact, he was so stunned at seeing the man that he barely registered the agents who’d brought him saying goodbye and leaving.

He found himself collapsing and was happy to find that he’d chosen to do so in front of a much more comfortable chair than he’d had after being ‘apprehended being somewhere wrong’.

The Lieutenant chuckled and sat back in his chair. “So. Convince me that you’re Spike.”

The vampire was still trying to find his voice. It had been… years, apparently, judging by the way the boy looked, and yet he didn’t recall the passage of time. As far as he was concerned, he’d been knocked out at the very least in that alley, and when he’d woken up it was… well, obviously years later.

“Make me,” he demanded. “Think you know I am, bloke. And why the bloody fuck wouldn’t I be, hey? Who the fuck else could be me? Oh, and by the way…? The goatee?” Spike cocked his head and gave it some thought, remembering the boy he’d known and comparing him to the man in front of him. “It suits you, mate. Looks good, oddly enough. Maybe because you’re older now… and what the bloody fuck is going on!”

The Lieutenant did his best to arch one brow then sighed, knowing it still wasn’t working. “Things changed,” he said. “And it doesn’t matter what I think I know. I need to know for sure.”

Spike nodded slowly and sighed, reconciling himself to a longer span of confusion than he’d expected. “Right, then. Ask me something that nobody but you and me knows. And I do mean NOBODY.” He frowned. “Nobody alive, I mean… or vamped. Something I’d be the only one to remember, other than you.”

The Lieutenant clasped his hands together on his desk and thought for a moment before nodding.

“When you came to me and the others,” he finally said, “about the chip…”

Spike nodded, calling up that particular memory. After all, it had been one of the few times he’d been able to threaten without the chip making him a big ball of pulsing agony. “Yeah?”

“What did you say would happen if we didn’t help you?”

The vampire chuckled and stood up before moving to the shelf on the far wall that he’d only just noticed.

He picked up a rather small action figure and held it in his hand as he looked at the man behind the desk.

“Bloody hell. You still have it, you prat. ‘The Fett gets it’ is what I said. “ He furrowed his brow deeply, then carefully placed the figurine back on the shelf. “Sorry about that. You know, about back then. Didn’t have a soul, but… it was so bloody fun to make you think I’d break your toy…” Spike stopped and shook his head. “Just sorry, mate.”

The Lieutenant smiled and stood, coming around the desk to hug the taller vampire.

“Spike. Gods. How the fuck is it you?”

The blond blinked and shrugged in Andrew’s hold.

“Guessing you know as much as I do,” he admitted, returning the hug a bit tentatively.

He might not remember where he’d been since dying yet again in the alley, but he had a sneaking suspicion that where he actually was now was… better.

* * * * *

He wasn’t surprised to find that Andrew’s ‘fiancee’ was a bloke. Hell, he’d always known the boy had a good bit of swish in him, the chits he’d been squiring around in Italy aside.

Didn’t bother him, of course, but didn’t surprise him either.

What did surprise him was that the bloke, Thomas, was a vampire. He’d never pegged the late-comer to the Scooby Gang as a blood whore. He just didn’t seem the type.

Then again, people could surprise you sometimes. Still, it was none of his business, was it?

“Right, then,” Spike said with a cocked brow, “What’s your Order then, Tommy?”

The other blond gave him a dark look. “It’s Thomas. Not Tommy. And I’m not actually part of an Order. I was…” He shrugged. “I don’t exactly know who made me, alright?”

Well, well… and wasn’t that interesting? The boy had obviously been given a good bit of blood at his Turning, seeing as there wasn’t even the faintest whiff of minion about him, but what sort of vampire would go to that much effort and just walk away? Then again, what did he care, after all? Tommy-boy seemed a good sort, considering.

“Count yourself lucky, then,” Spike finally answered. “Bloody family can be a huge pain in the ass.”

If Thomas’s smile was a tiny bit secretive, he counted himself lucky that this new vampire—this Spike that his lover had asked him to look after for a short time—didn’t know him well enough to notice. There was a slim chance, after all, that the bleached blond really was the Spike of legend, and if that was the case, well… better not to take any chances.

“I’ve heard that before,” Thomas said slowly then shrugged. “Wouldn’t know, of course. The only family I’ve got are my folks and my sister. You know, from when I was human, and… we don’t talk much these days. My nephew calls me every once in a while, but I think that’s just to piss off his Mom, y’know? Stephanie’s not exactly thrilled with me being all… undead. Not that she ever says so, but… I can tell. Even over the phone.”

The fact that this… kid… still knew his mortal family was beyond bizarre to Spike. That that same family was apparently still alive and not turned took the whole thing even further into the realms of bloody well impossible.

Andrew had said that things had changed in the world, but… how could they have changed so much?

Spike felt his brow furrowing, even as he leaned back, resting one hip against the kitchen counter and the cupboards beneath. “Right. You ever tell anyone I said this and I’ll kill you, mate, but… need to know what the sodding hell’s been going on since I… disappeared, yeah? And I think you’re just the bloke to tell me. But first… is there somewhere I can clean up? I can smell myself and I think you know… when you can smell yourself, it’s time for a wash up.”

Thomas laughed and wrinkled his nose. “Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but now that you mention it…” He led the older vampire through the living room area of the suite and to the bathroom, stopping to collect a fresh towel on the way.

“Take your time, Spike. Shampoo and stuff are under the sink and… we’re about the same size, I’m sure. I’ll find something else for you to wear until you can get out to do some shopping.”

* * * * *

He had to admit that he felt better after nearly two hours of luxurious scrubbing and wallowing in the enormous tub full of hot, scented water. And yeah, maybe that was a little bit on the poncy side, but he figured he was due after being covered in dust, dirt and ash for however long he’d been… away.

He also had to admit that the brown linen slacks and golden hued silk shirt were right comfortable, even if they weren’t anything he’d ever buy for himself.

None of that, however, was anywhere near as nice as the fact that he was lounging on Andrew and Thomas’s couch while sipping slowly at the best bloody Bloody Mary he’d ever tasted while the slightly-darker-blond filled him in a bit.

Hard to believe it had only been twenty-two years since the fight. On the other hand, it hardly seemed like it could have been that long, considering. Hell, Andrew looked to be maybe thirty, not in his mid-forties. Then again, if the human was playing the blood whore for his bloke, there’d probably been some exchanging of blood going on and that could slow a human’s aging a bit, so…

But it all still seemed so unlikely.

One minute, everything was as normal as it had ever been, and then—according to Thomas—the ‘magic’ came back. Great bloody storms of it, flashing over the globe, striking randomly and changing things. And because of that bloody dragon…?

‘Trust sodding Angel to kill the fucking beast and wreck the world, the huge git,’ he thought, unaware of the fact that his annoyance was right there on his face.

He still wasn’t sure of how the dragon had been the trigger, but then again, he didn’t much care. The magic was back, and…

“It’s amazing how many ‘pure human’ families had some demon blood in their ancestry,” Thomas mused, sipping his own drink thoughtfully. “I think it’s something like… ninety-four percent, or so the Magus Prime’s census showed after he made order from the Chaos-times. The magic… brought that hidden blood out. Pure humans are almost freakish these days, Spike. Hell, most of them are ashamed of their purity.”

Spike’s jaw dropped slightly for a moment before he snapped it shut. “Most, you said.”

Thomas sighed. “Yeah. Some of them… Gods, they’re so stupid! They think they can change things back. Like six percent of the population—and this is the six percent without any powers at all!—could somehow overthrow the Magus Prime, reorder the entire way the world is run, and… do what with the rest of us?” He growled softly, his demon’s features emerging. “The only reason the so-called ‘Liberation Force’ hasn’t been wiped out completely is because the Darksiders are backing them with promises and weapons, and Gods know why they’re bothering unless it’s just to be annoying.”

“Uh-huh. So what the bloody fuck is your story, then? You sit here, all engaged or whatever to Andrew, and he seems to be important around here, yeah? But you don’t have a soul. I can tell.”

“So why am I here instead of running around with the Darksiders, wreaking destruction and living in some disgusting hole in the ground. Is that what you want to know?”

The older vampire nodded quickly. “Something like that, bloke.”

Thomas smiled just a bit and leaned forward, meeting blue eyes with his own gold-flecked sapphire as he let his human seeming slide over the demon’s visage. “I support the Magus Prime, Spike, for the same reasons most of the vampires do. And I would even if he and I had never gotten together. Of course, that was before Andrew, and… I wasn’t really what the Magus needed, so it’s fine. But like I was saying… he’s been good to us, just like he’s been good to the other demon species. We’re welcome everywhere now; we have jobs, our own sector of the city, our own representatives in Assembly. We’re not hunted for feeding as long as we don’t kill or use unlicensed donors… or hunt outside of sanctioned sentences… and for those of us who aren’t wealthy, there are programs he’s set up to provide blood and shelter, if needed.”

One brow arched and Spike let a disbelieving expression take up residence on his face. “Sure, bloke. Out of the goodness of his bloody heart, right? Got himself a whole ‘Vamps are people too’ platform, yeah? Building up support for next Election Day?” He snorted. “And meanwhile, the Slayers just… what? Pretend it’s not their job to kill us?”

He’d actually doubted what Andrew had told him over the hexicon before his Mate-to-be had brought the English vampire to their rooms, but he couldn’t doubt it any more. Spike had to be exactly who and what Andrew said he was. Anyone else would have known better than to even think such things. The only question was… how to explain it to Spike without telling him too much. The Magus Prime wanted to meet with the bleached blond, after all, and… there were some things Thomas knew he wasn’t qualified to speak on.

Better to concentrate on the easy question first. “Actually, I think he does it so the few humans that are left won’t end up dying. I mean, they’re our natural food source, right? What’s going to happen if they’re suddenly gone?” Thomas frowned. “I know we can live on animal blood, but… who would want to? A mug of peacock or otter is nice every now and again as a change, but… all the time? Gods, even werewolf would get tired as a steady diet, right?”

And again, Spike found himself staring gape-jawed at the younger vamp.

* * * * *

The little he’d managed to pry from Thomas about the ‘Magus Prime’ of the new world wasn’t very bloody enlightening. Of course, neither were the odd, almost fearful looks the young vampire had kept sending his way when he’d thought Spike wasn’t looking.

No, Spike had no idea of what was going on, although he was on his way to the big man’s office even as he thought on it, and that was worrisome, at best.

The bloke was apparently large and in charge, on top of being cold, vicious, wicked, and cruel when crossed, and even with the smug glances Andrew kept darting his way, Spike couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the Magus-bloke decided he was there to challenge him for his position.

Not that he ever would, the vampire told himself. He was far too aware of his own impatience to think that he could ever deal with the day-to-day minutia of running an empire, and that’s what the bloke was doing, no matter what he called it.

Then there was the fact that for some bizarre reason, the human Liberation Force and the Darksiders—whatever they were—had been trying to assassinate the man using agents who looked like him when as far as Spike knew, he’d never even met this Magus Prime.

“You sure about this, mate?” he murmured as Andrew’s steps slowed. “Don’t think it’s really necessary for me to meet the man in charge. Could just… walk out of here, yeah? Never look back. Disappear?”

The Lieutenant frowned and bit his lip. He wanted more than just about anything to tell Spike what was going on, but he couldn’t. In fact, the closest he could come was to stop in front of the Magus Prime’s office door and look at the vampire he’d once had a vicious crush on, shaking his head. “It wouldn’t be safe for you out there,” he said after a moment. “Not after… what happened.”

And if he spent any more time doing fish-mouth with his lips, Spike figured he might sprout gills. Or fins. Or some other fishy sort of thing. ‘After what happened’? What the bloody fuck had happened? And more to the point, what did it have to do with him?

Maybe he’d find out from the man himself, he decided; mostly because Andrew had already banged on the door, pushed it open and shoved him inside before closing it and probably beating a hasty retreat, seeing as Spike couldn’t hear the bloke outside the door once he realized he was actually in the Magus Prime’s office.

Uh… hello?” he said, then frowned at how timid his own voice sounded. “Hey!” he tried again, smirking at the usual arrogant tone he’d reacquired, “Anyone home? Looking for the Great and Powerful Oz or some such shit!”

He actually knew the laugh that answered his words, and once again he found himself gaping. “Bloody hell… fins for sure.”

“Well, if you really want them,” Xander said, getting up from the couch against the wall, “It can probably be arranged. But speaking as a guy who was almost fish-ed once? Not sure it’d be a good fashion statement. You know, outside of the Black Lagoon.”

“Xander… bloody… Harris,” Spike breathed, only his demon’s determination to not swoon like a girl holding him upright, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

Part Three

He’d known Andrew was bringing Spike to him. Hell, he would have known even if he hadn’t been the one to order it. He could… feel the vampire in the building, after all, and feel him getting closer.

“Crap… crap, crap, crap,” he’d muttered as he’d stood and moved around his office, trying desperately to decide where to greet the blond.

He’d thought he was prepared for this. He really had.

He’d known Spike was back for a good four hours, after all, and he was the Magus Prime! He should have been able to… deal, right?

Unfortunately, being in charge of close to half of the ‘civilized’ world didn’t mean he was fully in control of his own emotions. Or at least not where this particular vampire was concerned.

The worst part, though, was that he didn’t know why he was so… jittery. He didn’t do jittery, and certainly not because the bleached menace was suddenly back in the world, and…

He’d found himself taking the old eye-patch from the bust of Shakespeare where it had lived ever since he’d taken over the Hyperion and sliding it over his left eye, and before he’d even had the chance to ask himself what he was doing, the knock came, and… there was Spike, and…

Gods, he couldn’t breathe.


And just like that, he was laughing and saying… something, he wasn’t sure what.

“Xander… bloody… Harris,” Spike breathed, somehow looking just as shaky as he felt, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Well, I…”

“Work for the Great Poof, do you?” the vampire said, chuckling quietly. “Sent you to deal with me, yeah?”

And Xander found himself blinking, though only the one eye was visible, so he figured he probably looked kind of brain damaged. “Angel? Why would I be working for him? I don’t even like him.”

And oh… that wasn’t a good look on Spike’s face.

It was even worse when Xander suddenly found himself dragged from his seat and slammed against the wall, Spike’s demon-face only two inches from his own face.

“Okay… and I’m guessing no one told you about Angel,” he managed to say, even while hiding the fact that the hand on his throat wasn’t disturbing him at all.

* * * * *

“He’s alive,” Spike said again, frowning at the boy who looked exactly the same as the last time he’d seen him, twenty-three years gone since Sunnyhell or not. “Sodding Angel’s alive. Like in human alive…”

Xander sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, cursing silently as they caught on the patch’s strap. He hadn’t worn the thing since he’d come out of that crater with two intact eyes, after all.

“He says he woke up in that alley a week after the fight. I guess that prophecy wasn’t as much bullshit as he thought, huh? So yeah. Angel’s alive. He’s kind of… a hero, actually.”

Spike snorted. “Of course he is, the great wanker. Wouldn’t be able to stand it if he came back human and was somehow unremarkable, would he? Not bloody Broody, right? So what is he, if not this bleeding Magus Prime of yours? High poobah of the sodding dance? Because I can tell you, mate. Seen the Wonder Ponce dance, and Lord of it he’s not.”

How had he forgotten how much the vampire’s snarky attitude and truly inspired choice of words had always amused him? Hell, even when he’d actively hated Spike, he’d had to admit—silently—that he’d had a certain insight.

Gods no,” Xander said with a chuckle. “Um… actually, he’s the Captain of the Citadel Guards. I…” He cleared his throat, catching himself. “I guess the… Magus Prime thought he owed him. You know, considering the way he took over Angel’s hotel when he got here…”

Another snort. “Yeah. Like the great prancing prat could Captain a bloody rowboat. Remember how he tried to run Wolfram and Hart, don’t I?” Spike rolled his eyes. “And then in that bloody alley. Just had to be all ‘I want to slay the dragon’.” He snorted yet again. “Bloody poof. Died in the doing of it, he did.”

Xander sighed, doing his best not to rake his visible eye up and down the vampire’s long form. He’d only just noticed it, but Spike reminded him of… “Fuck!” he groaned.

“And what’s your problem now, mate?” the vampire demanded.

“N-nothing, Spike. Sorry. Just… work stuff.” ‘Liar,’ his inner voice said, ‘he reminds you of Thomas. Because aside from the cheekbones and Thomas’s hair being a little darker, they could be twins. Same with Joseph and Mike and Jamie. And that means…’

‘Shut up,’ he answered viciously, ‘I do not want Spike!’

“Sorry,” he said again, looking everywhere but at the blond, “Did you say Angel killed the dragon? Or just that he wanted to?”

The scarred brow arched, even as Spike wondered about the scent of arousal that suddenly surrounded the boy. “Oh, Peaches did it, alright. Burned to ash in the fire, even. But he must have told you that more than once, yeah? Know how he likes to hear himself speak.” He frowned, then shook his head. “Wait. Let me guess. Told your bleeding Magus Prime but couldn’t be bothered to tell you, hey Xander? Always was a huge prat, my Sire… soul or not.”

A part of him felt badly for letting Spike believe there was a Magus Prime who wasn’t him, but the rest of him was… happy. It had been twenty-three years since he’d seen the vampire and while he’d have to tell him eventually, he was kind of looking forward to getting to know the blond again… as a friend, this time, he hoped.

Hell, they’d almost been friends before the amulet back in Sunnydale. Xander figured it was time they let the past go and just… lived. With that in mind, he pushed aside the fact that Angel had lied to him and said it was Spike who’d slain the dragon. After all, that was hardly the only thing Angel had lied about and he’d managed to overlook it, hadn’t he?

Instead he smiled. “Yeah… and trust me, Spike. Being human hasn’t changed him much. Not even marrying Faith, Giles and Robin has made him loosen up any.”

Spike blinked and then laughed. “So… I was right all these years, calling him a poof! Bloody marvelous! And… know Thomas said something about his wedding to Andrew, so… you lot have gay marriage now? That’s… different.”

Xander shrugged then shook his head. “Not ‘gay’ marriage, Spike. Just marriage. The magic came back and all of a sudden sexuality didn’t matter so much, y’know? Same-sex, different-sex… hell, there are more sexes now than anyone would have believed thirty years ago. Some species of demon have five sexes and nobody cares.” He smiled. “What matters now, buddy, is… which side you’re on. The Senior Partners are still out there. Most of us choose to oppose them. We don’t have the time or energy to waste on homophobia, especially since most of the species around now don’t much care who or what someone…”

“Shags?” Spike offered, for some reason feeling warm inside that Xander Harris had called him ‘buddy’.

The brunette grinned. “Yeah. Shags. We’re too busy trying to rebuild the world with the new laws. The laws of magic. Unfortunately, we’re still figuring out what those laws are; even after twenty-some years we’re not entirely sure. Things… change. Almost daily.” His brow furrowed. “Or we’re just not understanding things properly, which is always possible, right?”

Interesting. Not the constant discoveries, Spike admitted, but the fact that blokes-and-blokes and chits-and-chits and any combinations thereof weren’t likely to create drama. Then again, he hadn’t seen the world outside the wards. He could only go by what Xander said and what he’d seen inside the Hyperion, but for whatever reason, he was inclined to trust the one-eyed former Scooby, and… maybe he wouldn’t have to worry the next time he found himself attracted to a male.

Not that he’d worried much before, but when he’d been chipped and had considered the same bloke who was before him now, he’d balked, knowing how many humans were bloody well homophobic and militant about it, and since he’d have been helpless against humans... Still, that had been then and Xander Harris had never been interested in blokes, anyway. Best to ignore that whole train of thought.

“Right. And what are you wanting to do with me, then? Or, sorry, that Magus Prime of yours. Got any plans for good old Spike, mate?”

He forced himself to take a deep breath and hold it as he rode out the mental images that formed unbidden behind his suddenly closed eyelids. ‘Fuck… I do want him. But Spike doesn’t swing that way, and he’s a friend, or he will be, and… shit, we need to clear up the dragon question from his perspective, and…’

“Yeah,” Xander replied after a moment or two of arguing with his inner voice. “I’m going to assign you an apartment in the Vampire Sector. Uh, you’ll need to use a name other than ‘Spike’, though. We… can’t have anyone knowing you’re back, okay? Not yet, buddy.”

Spike frowned then shrugged. Boy couldn’t wait to get rid of him, apparently, and he wasn’t going to think about why that made him feel sad… bereft… lost. “Whatever, bloke,” was all he said, though he didn’t realize the coldness in his own tone.

Xander did notice it and he sighed. Parr for the course, he figured. “Uh, I’ll need you to come back in a few days… we’ll need to take your testimony on what happened in the alley that night, okay? Um, and what name do you want to be entered into the records under?”

The vampire shrugged, already wondering what he’d done to be treated so suddenly coldly by the human who had apparently not aged at all in the last two decades or so. They’d been talking, things had been fine, and then… out of nowhere the bloke wanted him gone. Gone from the Citadel, which was apparently the bloody Hyperion Hotel, and gone from him. ‘And that’s bloody fine,’ he told himself. ‘Don’t even like the bloke, do I? Especially not if he doesn’t even want to be friends, yeah? Yeah. Can find new bloody friends, I can. Ones who don’t know anything much about me.’

“William,” he finally said. “You can write me in as William Nemoy.”

Xander chuckled silently. He’d never figured Spike for a Star Trek fan. Of course, maybe his own interests had rubbed off on the vampire during their co-habitational experiences… and why had he just thought about rubbing off on Spike? ‘Bad brain,’ he told himself, groaning, ‘Bad, bad, bad brain…” He groaned again.

“Okay. I’ll get Andrew and Thomas to take you to your new home, then.” He frowned and sighed almost silently. “Come back in three days, okay? For the…testimony. I’ll… someone will call and schedule a time…”

“Fine. I’ll just wait for the pissant wankers outside, then.”

Xander sighed again, deeply this time, as Spike left the office. “Shit.”

* * * * * * * * *

Much as he hated to admit it, Xander bloody Harris had been telling the truth, Spike realized as he strolled through a very changed Los Angeles beside Thomas, as Andrew had been busy with something or other that Spike didn’t care enough about to remember. Truth, indeed, that things were… different.

He’d seen nothing of the seediness he’d expected, especially considering what the area around the Hyperion had been like in the old days.

Sure, there were still adult ‘bookstores’ and strip clubs, but there was a subtlety to their advertising that had been missing before, and as he and the other vampire moved east from the hotel, he saw that those sorts of venues died out, slowly replaced by blood banks, ‘live eats’ shops and a variety of other businesses that were clearly demon-centric but entirely in keeping with the increasing style.

“Uh, Tommy-boy… what’s with the neighborhood? Would have thought there’d be less…” Spike stopped, uncertain of how exactly to phrase it.

“What?” Thomas said with an amused grin, his earlier talk with his beloved cluing him to Spike’s penchant for nicknames. And if the much older vampire was calling him by one, he figured that meant the bleached blond approved of him at least slightly. “Oh… you figured the Magus Prime would keep all the… skin-stuff away from the Citadel?” He laughed. “Not likely, William. He likes knowing that his Guards won’t have to go out of their way for ‘entertainment’ between work and home. Besides, he…”

“He what?” Spike interrupted with a snort, “Likes to have himself a go with some young chits who won’t say no to his old, wrinkly ass?” He smirked. “Can’t say as I blame him.”

The younger blond blinked and stopped in his tracks, turning to the older.

“You didn’t… I thought you met him?”

Spike snorted again. “Met his assistant or something. Whatever Xander bleeding Harris is to your sodding ‘Magus Prime’. And I’m not so sure ‘prime’ means the same thing it used to if the bloke could do all that it seems he’s done but couldn’t give the boy his sodding eye back!”

Fortunately for Thomas, Spike was too busy avoiding the grin of a tall, round and purple demon to notice the look on his face, and he quickly schooled it.

“Oh,” Thomas said softly, wondering why nobody had warned him that the Magus was deceiving the newly returned vamp, “Well, Xander wanted things that way. Uh, something about deserving it…” Hell, he didn’t know what else to say, did he? ‘No,’ he told himself, ‘I don’t. And I SO don’t want Xander pissed at me… ever again.’ The one time had been enough, he figured, although Andrew had been an enormous help in making him feel worthwhile again and he honestly doubted that he and the Lieutenant would ever have connected otherwise, and… and suddenly Thomas realized exactly why the Magus Prime had said those things to him.

He smiled. Xander had hurt him in order to make him see just how amazing his Mate-to-be truly was, and it had worked. He’d have to remember to thank the Magus later.

“He was too slow, not brave enough or something. He deserved to lose his eye,” he repeated, remembering a few things he’d been told in quiet moments in the early days.

He was entirely unprepared for the other vampire’s reaction.

Spike didn’t even remember grabbing the younger blond and slamming him against the nearest building, but he must have done because here he was, pressing the boy into the bricks.

“Never,” he heard himself grating out between clenched and jagged teeth, “Say. That. Again.” He snarled. “The boy deserved to be saved! But I was too slow. My fault he’s minus an eye. Too. Fucking. SLOW!”

And just like that, Thomas found himself holding the older vampire tightly and pulling him into the alley beside the building. The last thing he’d ever do would be to allow Spike—William the Bloody—to break down on a public street in front of who knew how many other demons… even if none of them knew who the bleached blond was.

Thomas had a feeling—and he’d learned to trust his feelings—that people would know soon enough.

Besides, the Magus Prime wouldn’t thank him if he let Spike end the day feeling embarrassed.

Part Four

It was a relief to Spike that Thomas was ignoring his emotional outburst of earlier as though it had never happened. Still, he figured he owed the bloke for making sure it happened in as private a setting as possible, and halfway down an alley between a butcher shop and a dry cleaner’s was about as private as could be imagined, seeing as the demons used the front doors these days.

He would never thank the boy, of course, because that would be admitting he had something to be glad for, but… maybe Andrew’s bloke wasn’t as stupid as most vampires his age.

He barely noticed when Thomas paused and showed a few papers to the vampire standing inside the small booth in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable street although he did give the fellow a nod when Thomas introduced him.

He noticed that he wasn’t given the guy’s name, but then again, the vamp was obviously some sort of guard. No need to know him, except… he remembered how Xander had always made a point of calling people by name when he could, back in the day, and… for some reason, it just seemed right.

“Yah. I’m…” He thought for a moment. “William Nemoy. Call me Will if you want. And you?” He extended his hand through the little window of the booth and shook the slightly trembling and surprised hand of the guard.

The minion blinked then gave the Master’s hand a vigorous and slightly too long return shake. “I… I’m M-m-micheals, M-Mister… N-nemoy…”

Spike nodded and quickly retrieved his hand. “Nice to meet you, Michael. I’m sure to feel safe with a great, looming bloke like you watching out, yeah?” He grinned and nodded. “Have a good night, mate.”

Michaels blinked a few times as the two vampires went on their way, then made a very visible entry in the events book that Mister William Nemoy was not only a Master, but a Master who was well worth going out of the bounds of duty for.

He then added every detail of their brief but so very affecting meeting, knowing it would strike the others just as it had struck him.

This was a Master worth following into Hell, if need be.

* * * * *

It was less than a block later that Thomas stopped and almost whispered. “You know he’s just hired help, right? I mean, he’s not… in charge.”

Spike shrugged. “A friend… well, a bloke I once knew, anyway, told me that when you’re working that kind of job and making shit for pay, the one thing that makes it worthwhile is when the customers make you feel appreciated.” He shrugged again. “Only took a few words, mate, and he knows I appreciate his efforts, yeah?”

And somehow Thomas had no doubt that the ‘friend, well, a bloke’ was the Magus Prime himself. Even though the man had never told him anything like that when they’d been together, it just… sounded like something he would have said.

“Fine,” he said quickly, taking Spike’s arm and pulling him down the street further, “whatever. This is the Vampire Sector. The Magus… I mean Xander. The Magus’s assistant.” Thomas frowned. He just knew he was going to screw this up somehow. Then again, everyone knew Xander was the Magus Prime, even if very few people knew what he actually looked like. Everyone but Spike knew, he corrected himself.

“Xander’s arranged for you to have Davidoff Archovich’s old place. He was killed a few months ago, so there may be a bit of dust around…” He blinked at Spike’s arched brow. “Not that kind of dust! Just the normal kind! It hasn’t been used since it happened and I don’t think the maid service has been too dedicated lately, so…”

“Thomas. Shut up. It’ll be fine,” Spike said sharply. “Cot in a basement, whatever. Long as nobody’s chaining me up, I’ll manage.” He thought for a second. “As long as nobody’s chaining me up or tying me to a bloody barcalounger, I mean.”

Thomas laughed and pulled the older vampire into the entryway of a tall, glass-and-chrome building. He slid a card through a slot, then stepped forward as one large sheet of glass rolled away. “I don’t think you have to worry about that here, Spike,” was all he said, although he made a mental note to ask the Magus Prime just why the older vampire had been giving off aroused-scent when he’d spoken about being tied to a chair.

If nothing else, he might get to see the Magus blush for the first time… ever.

* * * * *

“Bloody hell,” Spike said slowly, doing his best not to sound stunned by the flat he’d been given. “Suppose it’ll do,” he added grudgingly.

He’d truly expected Harris to send him off to some… crap hotel or something until after he’d given his ‘testimony’ on what had happened the night he’d died. Or rather, the most recent night he’d died.

He’d never figured the bloke for setting him up in this sort of style.

The foyer alone was massive, marble floor and hand-carved antiques against the wall. Big closet, suited to his duster and any number of other coats, just in case he decided to have a huge bloody party and invite every sodding vamp he ran into, apparently. And that was just the foyer.

The living room was slightly smaller, which Spike admitted silently was a good thing. Any more space and he’d feel more like he was in a bleeding Architectural Digest feature rather than someplace he was supposed to live, for as short a time as it lasted.

A lush-looking leather couch and matching loveseat, a thickly padded chair covered in some sort of fabric that begged to be touched… a wrought iron and glass coffee table with matching end tables, and best of all—the nearly unbelievably sized flat-screen telly on the wall above the fireplace, although that seemed an odd place for it.

And all of this set on the thickest, softest, plushest carpet he’d ever imagined, much less seen.

“Bloody hell,” he said again, the words leaving his lips on a soft sigh.

“Makes you want to just kick off your shoes and curl your toes into it, huh?” Thomas said with a slightly envious chuckle. “Hell, I’m surprised it’s still vacant. I guess the Magus knew he’d need it for something soon.”

Spike heard him, of course, but the bloke’s first words sounded too good to pass up.

He kicked his boots off after untying the laces and moaned softly as he stepped onto the luxurious fibers. “You got to try this, mate,” he insisted, taking a few steps and closing his eyes as those same fibers seemed to caress the soles of his feet. “In-fucking-credible, it is!”

Not ever having been a stupid guy—either as a human or a vampire—it took Thomas a grand total of two seconds to toe off his shoes and shuck his socks. His moan matched the older vamps’ as he walked slowly across the living room. “Oh… my… gods,” he sighed happily, “I SO need to do something nice enough for Andrew that he’s willing to spring for this kind of carpet. For one room, anyway… in like ten years, assuming I get a raise of like… a hundred percent, so I can chip in…”

“Bloody hell, work twice the hours, bloke. Worth it, yeah? Go marry bleeding Andrew. I’ll just stay here and shag this bloody carpet!”

Thomas groaned and flexed his toes, eyes rolling back as the silky strands wove between his toes. “Fuck… trade you, Spike… you can marry Andrew if I can ‘shag’ the carpet…” he blinked. “Uh, I’m joking… mostly…”

The older vampire laughed and shook his head. “Sorry, Tommy-boy. Your bloke’s not my type.” He sighed and glanced at his boots. “Guess we should check out the rest of the place, yeah?”

A sigh. “Uh, you could always look by yourself, right?”

Spike snorted. “Can’t have you defiling my new carpet, can I? Now, off of it and we’ll see what else Xander’s set me up with.” ‘And what I’m going to have to do to keep it,’ Spike told himself. “Guess it’s a good thing that Magus of yours lets his assistant hand out flats, yeah? Worked in my favor, anyway…”

* * * * *

It was while they were prowling through the rest of the apartment—master bedroom with king sized bed and attached bath complete with big, sunken tub; dining room containing an art deco table and chairs to seat twelve; office with what Thomas claimed was a state-of-the-art magetrix station, and a large balcony that wrapped around the corner of the building—that they heard the buzzer sounding.

It took a moment to find the intercom system, and another to figure out how to answer it.

Finally, Spike found the right button. “What?” he demanded.

“D-delivery f-for Mister N-nemoy,” a timid voice answered, “F-from the M-magus Prime’s office…”

“Bloody hell, what now?” Spike growled, even as he pushed every button he saw in an effort to let the bloke in. “If Xander bloody Harris is trying to make me move from this place, I’ll bloody well kill him!” Unless of course that was the bloke’s plan. Show Spike what was available, then suddenly be all ‘oh, sorry, my bad… you have to move to…’ some tiny, ugly little dump.

Yeah, that was probably it, Spike realized. The human had sent him off all sudden-like, hadn’t he? Been all cold and such. Must be sitting in the bloody Magus Prime’s office chortling to himself, right about now.

Thomas arched a brow as he wandered out of the kitchen to find the older blond snarling almost inaudibly in the foyer and he almost tried to ask gently about what the problem was.

Then he remembered who it was in front of him. Spike wasn’t the sort to appreciate gentle from what he’d seen so far, so…

“Okay, what’s crawled up your ass,” he said loudly, “Because you were fine a minute ago…”

Spike growled and explained as he waited for the fucker who was coming up with the keys to whatever disgusting hovel he was being relocated to.

Thomas truly wanted to laugh; mostly because the Magus Prime didn’t make mistakes… and besides, he knew how much Xander Harris wanted the blond in front of him, even if Spike didn’t know and the Magus didn’t know, himself.

It hadn’t been that hard to figure out once he’d seen Spike, after all.

Yes, every single one of the Magus Prime’s lovers had borne some resemblance to Spike.

Joseph had had the slicked back white-blond hair… Mike had carried himself with the same sort of cockiness and had loved his leather trench coat enough that he’d never been seen without it… and Jamie…?

Thomas sighed.

Jamie’d had the cheekbones, but that was about it. Not that he hadn’t been an attractive vamp. He had. But…

Thomas sighed again.

“I seriously doubt that’s what’s happening here, Spike,” he finally said, just as the soft knock on the door was heard and the overwhelming fear-scent came through the door.

* * * * *

Xander found himself pacing his office unhappily.

“What the hell am I doing?” he asked the still air. “Why am I lying to Spike?”

It was a good question.

Sadly, even with knowing so many things and having almost unlimited magical power, he didn’t have a good answer.

‘Because I don’t want him to see me differently’ wasn’t a good answer.

‘Because I want him to like me for me and not for what I can do for him’ was barely better.

Of course ‘because I want him to be my friend and lover before I tell him that I’m the guy in charge of nearly half of the world’ was the worst of the lot.

“And where the fuck did ‘lover’ come from?”

Xander groaned and threw himself onto the couch.

“Okay. I want him. I know this. And apparently I always have.” His brow furrowed and he shook his head.

“Alright, maybe I didn’t always want him. But… maybe he was there in the back of my head all the time once the magic removed all the other spells from me and I realized that I’m… not exactly gay, but… more male-oriented than otherwise.”

And he wasn’t sure he’d entirely forgiven Willow for those spells yet—even more than two decades later.

Of course, she was still one of his closest friends, so…

“Okay, and none of this is even remotely the point of this little conversation.”

His eyes rested for a moment on the eye patch that had resumed its usual resting place.

“I want him,” he said aloud, as though trying the thought on for size. “I want Spike. Huh.” It got easier every time he said it out loud. “In fact, I want Spike so much that I just gave him the former Master Vampire in Assembly’s old apartment.”

His brow furrowed.

“Why? Because I want him to be comfortable? Hell, Spike lived in a crypt, for fuck’s sake. I could have put him up at the Equinox Inn and he’d probably have been happy.” And that was true enough.

“Because he… deserves it?” His eyes closed as one forearm rose to rest across his lids. “He does deserve it, I guess. Even if he’s somehow wrong about the dragon, he deserves it just for sacrificing himself in Sunnydale. Add on there that he came back from the dead and kept trying to make a difference, and… oh, yeah, Spike definitely deserves whatever comfort I can give him.”

He deliberately ignored the little voice in his head that whispered dirty and naughty ideas of other comforts he could offer the vampire.

“And just because I want him, that doesn’t mean he wants me. Or any other guy, for that matter. Except maybe his Sire, and…”

“Fuck it. I’m making myself crazier than usual. Get a grip, Xander, and stop thinking about it.”

And that was the best advice he’d ever given himself, he realized.

Yeah, he’d just push it from his mind… “because that always works so well for me.”

Then again, Spike had pretty much made it clear that he couldn’t get away from him fast enough, so what difference did it make?

That hadn’t stopped him from calling around and arranging for a few things to be delivered to Spike’s new place, of course, but… “just being a good host. It would be rude not to… oh, who the hell am I kidding?”

‘No one,’ the voice in his head told him smugly. ‘You’re fooling no one, Xander.’

* * * * *

Thomas was still chuckling smugly as he entered the Hyperion and headed up to the suite he shared with Andrew. He’d known the Magus Prime didn’t make mistakes, after all, and the look on Spike’s face once the delivery boy had dropped the bags just inside the door and run before even being tipped had been just… priceless.

Even that look had been surpassed a few minutes later, though, as the two vampires stood by the kitchen table and stared at the truly obscene number of packets they’d pulled from the bags.

“Hey… how’d it go, Thom?” Andrew asked with a grin, pulling his lover into a swift kiss before continuing to the small refrigerator by the sofa and pulling a bottle of Chardonnay and two chilled glasses from within it. “Get Spike all settled in?”

The chuckles became full-blown laughs as the young vampire flung himself down beside the human, his head resting lightly on one slender thigh. “I think he expected something less than what Xander gave him… and you should have seen him! The Magus sent him a truly bizarre bunch of stuff. English stuff, I guess, and Spike thought he was being evicted, and…”

Andrew found himself laughing too while Thomas told him about everything that had happened; then he had to explain about Spike and Weetabix, not to mention Cadbury bars, Jaffa Cakes, and why exactly the older vampire had nearly fallen over laughing at the cans of Chocolate Kittens.

For his part, Thomas didn’t really get why Spike would want to eat human food, but then again… Spike had a soul and maybe that explained it. It didn’t much matter, anyway, he decided.

Spike was Spike. William the Bloody, in fact. He was a legend, aside from the part where he’d brought on the Change.

If the bleached blond wanted to eat food, then he could get away with it. Who would dare comment, after all?

He made a mental note to buy some of those same items. He had a feeling they’d be in demand once the world knew Spike—THE Spike—was back.

He might even turn enough of a profit to invest in one of those… carpets.

Part Five

“Hey, babe, what’s wrong?” Faith demanded, rubbing a towel over her damp hair as she stepped from the training mat.

The tall, dark-haired former-vampire shrugged and dropped a kiss on her sweaty forehead. “Nothing, really. Magus wants to see me so I thought I’d let you know I might be late for dinner, okay?”

The Slayer laughed and shook her head, the vertical pupils of her eyes widening just a bit. “You mean you might not make it at all and you don’t want to be the one to tell Robin and Giles. I so see through you, stud.”

He had the grace to blush slightly, much as he hated doing it. “I’ll try not to be too long. Promise. Besides, I think it’s just… some new regs. We had another attempt the other night.”

“And nobody told me?” Faith demanded angrily, her tiny fangs growing just a bit, “I’m still a Slayer, right? Someone should have said something!”

“Faith. Baby. He wasn’t that bright, okay? He didn’t even make it to the front doors.” He grinned winningly, swallowing a sigh of relief when his wife calmed a bit. “Besides, he’s been eliminated. No muss, no fuss.”

The Slayer grumbled a bit but finally nodded. “Okay, babe. But next time, you make sure someone clues me. I like knowing what’s going on; especially when our kids are here too, y’know?”

The brunette nodded, looking at the floor. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to worry. Hey, let me walk you back to our floor, okay? I can be a few minutes late to meet Xander.”

* * * * *

“Are they gone?” came a whisper as the door closed behind Faith and Angel.

“Yeah… I think it’s safe,” a second voice answered.

The four Citadel guards stumbled from the locker room attached to the training area and helped each other to the door.

“Damn… that Slayer’s still a tough one,” one of them groaned, gasping as he put too much weight on his sore ankle.

“I guess she’d have to be,” another replied, rubbing the huge lump on his forehead, “You know… to be married to the Captain and the other two.”

“No shit,” the first one snorted, coughing when the action had him swallowing blood. “The Archivist and his Apprentice aren’t any softer, either. That whole family is tough… even the kids!”

They made their way slowly to the Infirmary, knowing there’d be staff there waiting for them.

“On the bright side, we’re out of the Training rotation with all of them for another month…”

“Yeah, at which point we get to do this all over again.”

“Well, maybe we’ll get injured in the line of duty before then. You know… permanently.”

Sadly, they were all only partly kidding when they agreed that it was a worthwhile hope.

* * * * *

One thing that had definitely changed about the boy seated behind the desk was that these days, his stare was decidedly more intense.

Then again, he supposed he couldn’t really call Xander Harris a boy anymore, no matter that he still looked to be twenty-three or so.

Fact was, the boy he’d once known as the Slayer’s—the other Slayer’s—White Knight was neither of those things. The magic that had changed him—made him the Magus Prime—had also hardened him in some ways while leaving him relatively human in others.

Of course, none of those reflections was enlightening him as to why he was here in Xander’s office, or why the guy was just… staring at him, unless it was to make him uncomfortable, because it was definitely doing that.

“Uh, Xander…?” he finally tried, wondering what the hell was going on. He knew the Magus didn’t much like him, but he’d never been quite so… obvious about it. “What’s going on?”

Xander cocked his head, still gazing at the one-time vampire. His cheeks hollowed a bit as he bit gently at the inside of his mouth and steepled his fingers in front of him. “That’s a really good question, isn’t it, Angel? What’s going on. Yeah, that’s maybe the best question ever, isn’t it, Angel?”

He had a feeling that he looked entirely confused, but then again, he was. “Yeah… and since I’m the one who asked it…”

A short nod answered the human’s befuddled response and Xander sighed. “Alright. If you really want to know, I’m curious about something.”

He got up and paced around the desk, leaning against it when he stood in front of the former vampire’s chair.

He crossed his arms over his chest and stared deep into Angel’s brown eyes, looking for… something… as he spoke.

“I’m wondering if you can tell me why you wanted Andrew to kill Spike, Angel. And don’t,” he nearly growled, holding up one hand in a halting gesture before crossing it with the other again, “Don’t try to tell me that you didn’t know it was him. I’ll know if you lie to me. Hell, I can smell your fear right now.”

Andrew… this was all Andrew’s fault! He should have just had the pathetic little weakling bring Spike to him. Then Spike would be dead, which he obviously wasn’t, and… and the Magus was still staring at him. “I… Xander, look, it’s…”

Xander sighed and muttered one very short syllable with very specific intent, smiling a touch darkly when the human found himself speaking but no sound emerging from his lips. One more sharp syllable had the man motionless in the chair.

“I told you I’d know if you were lying to me. I always know. I just don’t usually call you on it, but in this case…” he sighed, glad he’d waited this long to confront the man. He was still furious, but with the two days since Spike had appeared, he’d at least managed to calm himself enough that he wasn’t likely to do any serious harm to his Captain.

“See, I have a theory, Angel,” he said, his tone nearly conversational. “I think you were afraid of what Spike might say; that maybe—just maybe—Spike knows something you don’t want anyone else knowing.”

He nodded slowly to himself as the stench of fear poured from the human more thickly.

“The question is… what could it be, hmmm? I mean, there are so many options.”

Xander let his eyes glitter darkly, small sparks of light scattered through solid black in what Willow always called ‘the night-sky eyes of Magedom’ and moved, sprawling almost casually in the chair beside the former-vampire’s.

“See, I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard Spike was back. What could your Favored Childe know that would have you wanting him dusted? Is it the fact that you killed the dragon, not Spike—the way you said, by the way? Because that would mean all of this was your fault, wouldn’t it? I mean, everyone knows it was the dragon’s blood that opened the gateway to the magic… so if you killed it, the whole Change was your fault. And the Chaos-times too, right?”

He let his head roll against the back of the chair and gazed at the man from under his lashes, seeing the panic building in his Captain.

“I considered that first, actually, because Spike said something very interesting when we met here the night he came back. He said something about… you not being willing to be back in the world and not a hero, y’know? And… I can see that. I’ve known you for a while, haven’t I? And you do like to be important.”

The human found himself breathing just a little bit easier. The Magus thought he had him all figured out? Good. And okay, maybe he’d lied about the dragon, but so what? Spike had been dead at the time, so… it wasn’t like the vampire cared.

Of course, then Xander spoke on and the once-vamp found himself tensing even more. He’d run if he had to. Knock Xander out and just run away until nobody could find him, and… and that would leave his family without his protection… but he could do it. Would if he had to… he thought. Maybe. Even if Faith would hunt him down and kill him slowly… painfully… and probably messily, as well.

“So yeah, I thought maybe that was it, y’know? That you were the one who’d done this to the world and you were ashamed. Maybe even scared of people finding out. But would that be enough reason for you to have your Favored Childe dusted?” Xander chuckled, still furious but doing his best to sound reasonable.

“I don’t think so. I mean, it may be a part of it, but I don’t think it’s the whole. Is it, Angelus?” he demanded.

Angelus blinked at the black and silver eyes suddenly a mere inch from his own brown and swallowed hard. His throat worked hard but still no sound emerged.

He knew! Xander Harris knew, and… how could he know? It wasn’t… he’d hidden it so well! Nobody knew!

Xander’s smile was nasty and cruel as he nodded. “Yeah… I think that’s it, Angel. You wanted Spike dead for good because you were afraid he’d spill your little secret. Even knowing that I had-- have-- feelings for him—and you had to know because I just realized what all those smug glances of yours were about when I was with Thomas—you wanted him dead to… protect your identity or some such shit.”

He growled softly and leaned closer still. “Be glad, Angelus,” he whispered clearly, “that Andrew came to me. Be very glad. If he hadn’t… if he’d listened to you and dusted Spike? I would have killed you myself. And Andrew, too. Because your ‘secret’?” He chuckled coldly. “Not so much of a secret. I’ve always known, Angelus. Faith always knew. And as for Giles and Robin? Well, they’re not exactly stupid, are they?”

On that note, he straightened and moved behind his desk again.

He stared at Angelus for a few more minutes then released his small spells and poured two large glasses of whiskey from the decanter on his desk.

Angelus was gaping, even as he felt himself taking the offered glass and downing the fiery honey-hued liquor with a gasp. “Y… you knew?” he nearly whimpered, meeting brown-again eyes desperately, “But… how?”

Xander sighed and forced himself to release some of his anger. “I guess we should talk, Captain.”

And if the Magus Prime was still calling him Captain, maybe things weren’t quite as bad as he’d thought. Maybe he wouldn’t have to run for his life, after all.

* * * * *

Spike was fascinated by the ‘new world’ he’d woken up in.

Of course, it helped that he was living in the lap of bloody luxury and apparently had been set up with some sort of account.

He’d been so stunned by the assortment of imported foods Xander had sent him that it hadn’t been until the next day that he’d found the envelope in one of the discarded bags.

~Hope these help you feel at home, Spike. Use the card for clothes or whatever… Thomas’s things look good on you but they aren’t really your style.

I’ll be in touch about that testimony, okay?


The fact that the enclosed card had some sort of tingly feel to it didn’t bother him. The fact that it had his new name embossed on it did.

How had Xander managed to get something like that set up so quickly?

Of course, then he’d contacted the number on the back of the card and discovered just how generous his not-friend had been, and…

Yeah, it was good to be King… or at least, it was good to be on the King’s—or Magus Prime’s, as the case may be—dime.

He’d taken advantage of it while he could, of course. New jeans, new Docs, new t-shirts… and a few more opulent items that would be comforting to have around once his ass was kicked out of the fucking amazing apartment he’d been staying in.

He figured he had maybe another day or so before he told his story to whomever Xander sent to talk to him, and then the boy’s Magus Prime wouldn’t have any more use for him and it’d be back to having nothing again.

“And that’s bloody fine,” he told himself over the sounds coming from the magetrix unit. He’d been amazed by the assortment of old punk available online… and even more amazed to find that there were a truly incredible number of demon bands around these days who played chaotic thrash just as well as the old groups.

“Maybe I can get a job as a bouncer or something… make some connections, manage some blokes… something.” Because the bad side of the world being mostly demons and other magic-types was… even vampires needed to work for a living. Especially if they wanted luxuries like the apartment he was sitting in right then. And he did want those sorts of things. He’d spent enough time with nothing to call his own.

“I’ll bet Xander could put a word in, yeah?” He frowned. “But why would he, ‘ey? Sent me food, sure. And the card to shop with… but that’s just to keep me here until he gets what he wants from me.”

‘Could have tossed you in a cell and you’d have told him what he wanted to know,’ the soul whispered insistently, as it had been doing for three days now, ‘Could have told Thomas to send you some more clothes… or kept you here naked…’

Spike shivered and tried to ignore the images of being kept by Xander Harris… and even more to the point, being kept naked by same.

“Bloody hell,” he groaned, tugging the long velvet robe tighter around him, “Wonder if I can use that card to buy me a bloke… rent one, anyway…”

It was a good thought, he figured, although searching the info-base on the magetrix didn’t turn up anything under ‘escorts’ or any other euphemism Spike could think of. Even the massage parlours were very clearly and obviously just that.

“Fucking hell! Where does a bloke look to rent himself a bloke for the night!” he snarled at the ceiling, only to blink like a moron when the magetrix unit pinged at him and flashed up a display of available services under the heading ‘Sex for Hire’.

He blinked again then laughed delightedly. “Oh, I bloody love this world!”

* * * * *

He still wasn’t thrilled with Angelus, and he was entirely sure that he’d never like the man. Then again, he didn’t really need to like him. He needed to trust him, though, and… now that the lies were uncovered and the former-vampire had come clean, so to speak, he figured the tiny bit of distrust he’d always held for Angelus would dissipate on its own.

He’d taken the man on as the Captain of the Citadel Guard because of his history, after all. Or mostly. It had also been because of the reason he’d told Spike. He’d sort of walked in and took over the Hyperion, regardless of whether Angelus owned it or not.

Still, the human had lived for more than two hundred years. He’d seen all sorts of evil. Hell, he’d been all sorts of evil for much of it. Even when he’d been subservient to the soul, Angelus had been in there and aware.

It must have been a huge fucking shock to wake up after Angel’s final battle to find that he was human… and a demon without powers. A mortal demon tied to humanity.

His own personal theory was that it was the Change itself that had created the seemingly impossible juxtaposition of a demon in a human body. After all, in the early days the supposed full-humans had almost all been changing, taking on aspects of whatever demonic or other blood was back there in their family trees.

He figured it was likely that the demon had been in that body for so long it had superseded any other demonic ‘taint’. It seemed likely, in any case.

Hell, even Angelus had agreed after a while.

They were still going to call him Angel, of course. Angelus had gotten used to it in the last couple decades. And it wouldn’t be fair to him or the Guard to out him now.

In fact, much as Xander hated to admit it, the demon had more of a sense of humanity now than Angel had ever had.

They’d still have to do something about Spike being blamed for the Change, but he figured it would only be right to let Spike decide how he wanted to handle that.

And that was part of why he was currently striding through the streets of the city on his way to the Vampire Sector and the apartment he’d assigned to his…

“My nothing,” Xander muttered bluntly to himself. “He’s not my anything, and he never will be, so just… go there, get his statement, pretend you’re still the Zeppo and… get out. Assign someone to be his representative and moderate whatever compensation he wants for Angelus sullying his good name…” And even he couldn’t say that last part without laughing. ‘Good name’. That was a good one. He’d have to remember to tell Spike. The vampire would laugh his ass off and then, well… laughing could lead to other things, and…

He sighed again. Spike wouldn’t want to enjoy the joke with him, much less anything more. Hell, he’d be surprised if the other man even asked about the eye he’d decided not to hide. Why would Spike care, after all?

“Right… just get it done.”

And he would. He’d talk to Spike and walk away, and while he was sure the vampire would go on with his life and never think of him again, Xander was pretty damned sure that he wouldn’t be able to do the same. Not when he’d obviously never gotten over the bleached blond… even if he hadn’t known he’d had a thing for him until just a few days earlier.

This time, though… oh, this time, Spike would be gone and he wouldn’t even be able to pretend he didn’t choose his own lovers based upon their resemblance, and… similar would never be enough. It had never been before, after all, even when he hadn’t realized what he was doing, so…

“Fuck. I guess it’s celibacy again. Shit. Or… maybe a female?” Well, yeah. That might work. Assuming he found one who was both interested and interesting, and that would mean socializing, and… The thought alone made him shudder.

He sighed and slowed down as he reached the Guard’s Station at the entry to the Vampire Sector and threw back the hood of his jacket, letting the glamour he was wearing show. “Uh, here for Mister… Nemoy.”

Michaels raked his eyes down then up the young demon’s body then nodded slowly. “Another one, huh? Then again, he’s a Master. Two hire-lads should be about right. Papers?”

‘What the fuck? Hire-lads?’ Xander thought, even as he reached into his pocket and created appropriate papers from nothing, including his own seal of approval. But… Spike wasn’t gay! Why would have a… hire-lad? Unless… maybe Spike was more like other vampires than he’d thought.

“Go on in,” the guard said, “And tell him Michaels says hi.”

Xander nodded distractedly as he resumed walking, his mind still turning over the concept of Spike hiring a male… for sex.

He was so distracted, in fact, that he entirely forgot to put on the eye patch in his pocket.

Part Six

He was almost vibrating with need as he paced the foyer, the robe swishing around his legs.

He’d thought about changing but figured why bother. It wasn’t like the bloke he’d ordered didn’t know why he was coming over, after all, and the last thing Spike wanted to do was give some rent boy the impression that this was anything but business for both of them. He only hoped the service had been serious about sending him a shifter.

‘Picture your desire in your mind,’ the being on the other end of the hexicon had said, ‘and the boy will read it before he even knocks. When you open the door, he’ll look like whoever and whatever you like, sir. Biting is prohibited and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, however, so I would recommend refraining from that action.’

Spike jumped slightly when the intercom buzzed and immediately pressed the admit button. Nobody but his ‘date’ would be coming to visit him now, after all.

The knock, when it came, was slightly tentative and Spike growled as he flung open the door. “Took you long enough,” he snarled, then he took a deep breath and admired the shifter’s skill. “Bloody well perfect, mate…” And he was. He looked just like Xander would now if he had two good eyes.

The human-looking man smiled and cocked his head slightly. “Uh, thanks…?”

“Well. Come in, bloke… and let’s get started, yeah? Got you for the whole day, right? Not going to run off to some other client before I’m done with you, are you?”

“N-no… of course not, Mister, uh… Nemoy…”

He didn’t quite understand the lust-scent he was getting from the shifter, but then again maybe the boy just loved his job.

“You can call me Will, yeah? Living room’s that way.” He pointed. “Go in, get your kit off, mate, and sit in the chair by the couch. I’ll be along in a minute.” After he had a bit of blood and calmed himself down a bit. He somehow hadn’t expected the whore to have Xander down so bloody perfectly. Hell, he even smelled like him.

The shifter nodded at him, still looking a wee bit stunned as he turned away and headed through the doorway after toeing off his shoes, presumably to follow directions.

* * * * *

‘What the fuck am I doing?’ Xander asked himself as he dropped his jacket beside the couch. ‘I can’t let him believe I’m… fuck, can I?’

‘You want him,’ his inner voice answered quickly, ‘and you dropped the glamour when you sent the real hire-boy away with those fake memories. Spike knows who you are. He has to, right?’

‘But he was all… worried that I was gonna run off to another john, remember…?’

‘That’s even better. It means he hired a shifter and expected him to look like you. I don’t see the problem.’

‘You don’t?’ Xander thought confusedly, even as he pulled the shirt over his head and dropped it, starting on the fastenings of his pants. ‘I’m lying to him just by being here and not telling him! I… fuck, I don’t want to lie to him!’

‘Yeah, because the Magus Prime’s Assistant would never lie, right Xander?’

Xander sighed.

‘Look,’ the voice said swiftly, ‘You want him. He wants you, apparently. Why not let this happen? You can tell him later.’

‘After he thinks I’m a whore? That I’m not even me but some poor kid with no other skills to offer?’

‘Oh… that’s what’s bothering you. Afraid you won’t be as good as a rent-boy, huh? That Spike’ll be disappointed?’

No! I just… I want it to be me he’s with, and even though it is, he doesn’t know it and… fuck. I need to go. Now.’

He was tugging his pants back up his thighs when the vampire entered the room and he froze. “Uh…”

One dark brow rose, pale, full lips pursing a bit as he stalked towards the beautiful young man… shifter… in his living room. “And what’s all this, then?” Spike demanded.

“Uh… I… this is a mistake,” Xander finally said. “I shouldn’t… this… I should go.”

And bloody hell, the bloke had the reluctance he imagined the real Harris would feel down pat, too. He’d have to remember to give the boy a truly impressive tip. Later, of course, because first…

He arched his brow higher, licking his lips as he slowly moved closer, holding the wide brown eyes with his own blue ones. “You should, pet… if you’re not sure you want to be here, you should go.”

He hand slid out, fingers barely touching the soft, tanned skin of the boy’s chest and sliding slowly down, still watching those eyes as he felt the heated twitches of silken flesh.

“Never cared much for forcing anyone,” he whispered, fingertips finding the seeping tip of the bloke’s turgid shaft then moving down to cup his palm over that hot, hard length. “Was more my Sire’s way than mine, you know? So I’m not going to force you, mate… and if you want to leave, I won’t stop you, yeah?”

‘Thank… Gods… an out…’ Xander managed to think, his eyes closing with relief for just a moment, which turned out to be a mistake because when he opened them again, it was to the sight of the top of Spike’s head, deep blue velvet pooled on the carpet around them. “I… please, I can’t… this is just…”

“Wrong, pet?” Spike murmured, inhaling the scent of musk and need before swiping his tongue over the seeping purple tip. “It’s only wrong if you really don’t want this, and I have to tell you… your body seems to be disagreeing with your mouth. But tell me to stop and mean it, mate… and I will.”

“I-I… Gods, d-don’t… stop,” Xander heard himself groaning, even as he felt those soft, cool lips move down his shaft in tiny, closed-mouthed kisses. “Oh… fuck. I am… so screwed…”

Spike chuckled, pushing the boy’s pants down to the floor. “Not yet, pet… but you will be,” he admitted smugly before getting to his feet again, one hand wrapped firmly around the thick length of the shifter’s cock. “Pretty thing like you, all toned and tanned… that bleeding beautiful ass of yours? Oh, yeah, pet. You’re going to be screwed like you’d never believe…”

Xander swallowed hard as he was pushed down onto the couch. He opened his lips to speak, to tell Spike that he wasn’t who he thought he was, and…

Pale fingers pulled slowly at the silken tie of the velvet robe and Spike pushed the fabric from his shoulders to slither into a small pile around his feet. His eyes found and held wide brown again, even as the fingers of one hand wrapped around his own shaft, the other finding the bloke’s shoulder and rubbing small circles there.

He inhaled slowly and smirked just a bit. “Think you like what you see, pet… know I like what I see…”

And Gods help him because he for damned sure couldn’t help but help himself. “I… Gods. Yeah. I… shit, Sp… Will. I… more than like.” Xander swallowed hard and tried to pull his gaze away from the blond’s, moaning when he succeeded because his eyes were now glued to that rampantly bobbing cock held in those long, elegant fingers. “I… can I…?”

The vampire moaned softly and shifted a bit, cocking his hips towards the boy. “Thinking ‘yes’, mate… wish you would…”

“Your wish…” Xander heard himself whispering as he leaned closer and opened his lips to the deeply pink head of Spike’s cock, breathing one slow draft of warm air across the seeping slit before taking the tip in and just holding it there, tongue lapping delicately at the dribbling fluids.

“Bloody… fucking… hell,” Spike nearly snarled, rocking forward while his hands left the boys shoulder and his own skin to tangle slowly into soft, dark hair. “So bloody warm, pet… deeper, yeah?”

‘Oh, yeah… told you, didn’t I?’ the little voice said, sounding very self-satisfied. ‘Gonna get just what you want and you’ll have me to thank.”

Xander ignored the voice, pushing it completely aside as he stroked his hands up and down Spike’s hips, then around to the rounded, toned cheeks of the vampire’s ass, pulling him closer as he opened his throat fully for the cool but still pulsing shaft. His eyes closed and he concentrated on the sensation of having this particular vampire in his mouth; smelling the unique scent of him as he buried his nose in the short, dark hairs at his base.

Fuck… the boy really knew his job. And seemed to be enjoying it, at that. Of course, Spike was fairly certain that he was enjoying it just as much, if not more.

The hot, slick mouth around him, the small, subtle scrape of teeth… that amazing throat flexing around him… and it had been… twenty-two years since he’d gotten off, and even longer with someone else in the room, and… “Bloody… yeah, pet… harder. Going to come, mate… right down your throat. Fill your belly, then fill your ass, yeah? Want that, pet? Want to feel me exploding into you? Making you choke, making you yell when your tight little hole overflows from me?” He groaned, his hips stabbing harder, deeper into the blissful wet heat, fingers gripping hair tighter and tighter.

And it was a good thing he wasn’t actually human anymore, Xander figured. If he had been, he would have literally choked to death by now. As it was, though, a part of him—a large part—was reveling in the thick cock sliding repeatedly down his throat; in the harsh, rough grip on his hair, Spike’s fingers directing his movements. And the vampire’s words…

He shivered slightly, in anticipation. All of his lovers for the last two decades had known who and what he was. None of them had ever had the balls to treat him like this. None of them had ever promised to come down his throat or raped his mouth—however willingly—or swore they’d make him scream for them, and… this was Spike!

He swallowed harder around the thrusting shaft, moaning deep in his chest as he heard the first helpless gasp, felt the first swelling pulse, sensed the first violent spurt of thick, rich seed and he pulled back, wanting to taste the blond.

He held the tip in the cavern of his mouth, lips tight just behind the glans as Spike gasped and shuddered before him, his fingers so tight against his scalp that Xander thought he might find little half-moon scabs there later and he didn’t care; he just sucked harder, tongue flicking against the slit as it slowed its explosive splashes, keeping the motion strong and steady until Spike was nearly boneless with release and there was no more fluid forthcoming.

“B-b-bloody f-fucking…” the vampire groaned, only the desire not to squash the bloke until after he’d fucked the ass that was sure to be just as good as the mouth keeping him upright. “Bloody maestro of the cock, aren’t you, mate?”

Xander shook his head slowly, finally releasing the still half hard shaft from his lips. “Just… doing what I like myself, S… Will. I… how do you want me next?”

Spike chuckled and shook his head before falling onto the couch beside the boy and pulling him into his lap. “Next… think I’m going to kiss you, pet. Taste myself in that hot mouth of yours and…” he trailed off when the bloke started shaking his head wildly. “No?” he demanded roughly, “You don’t get to tell me ‘no’, mate. Bought and paid for, aren’t you?”

Xander blushed and shook his head again although he didn’t move from the vampire’s lap. “No kissing. I… it’s too… personal, Will.” ‘And when I kiss you, I want you to know it’s me; not some hire-boy, damn it!’

The vampire sighed and would have forced the issue, but the soul wouldn’t let him. Besides, he hadn’t been joking earlier. Angelus would have forced the bloke to kiss him and that was enough reason for Spike not to.

“Right, then,” he said after a moment. “Do you need anything, pet? Something to drink? Some food to keep your strength up? Because trust me, you’re going to need it. Twinkies? Ding-dongs? Devil dogs? Sure I could get some delivered in a flash.” Because he’d be damned if he was going to offer up any of his Jaffa Cakes or Chocolate Kittens.

He couldn’t help laughing at the smirk on Spike’s face, although he had no doubt that the blond was right. “Uh, sure… any of those?”

“Be right back, mate… don’t move. Much.”

And just like that, the vampire got up and strolled off, still naked and getting harder every second.

* * * * *

The interesting thing to Spike was that Twinkies and Ding-dongs hadn’t been available in most of the city since the Change. Even more interesting was that his so-called rent-boy hadn’t realized that, which meant… either the magetrix was wrong about the availability or his rent-boy was no rent-boy at all.

The latter option was the most likely since the magetrix was world-wide and unlikely to make that big of a mistake on every bloody page his search had brought up, but he had no idea of what the fuck Xander Harris would be doing in his apartment, sucking his cock and waiting patiently for him to come back and fuck him. The boy didn’t even like him, so what…?

Or maybe… maybe he’d misread the whole situation. Maybe… could it be that Xander didn’t hate him? Or… did the bloke hate himself so much that he’d willingly spread for someone he despised?

Was the boy—young man, he reminded himself, although in human years the bloke was nearing fifty—that screwed up?

Spike didn’t think so. He hadn’t gotten that desperate vibe from him, after all.

Or was he completely out of his mind? Was the bloke just what he seemed—a rental.

One sure way to find out, Spike figured.

He passed by the living room doorway on his way to the kitchen and a bag of the blood there, looking in for a moment. “Just another minute, mate,” he said. “Feeling a bit peckish and I’ve been told you’re not licensed for feeding. Put some music on, yeah? And… seeing as you’re a shifter and all, maybe you can look like someone else for me, right? Not that you’re not bloody beautiful as you are, of course, but… how about looking a bit… broodier.”

* * * * *

‘Broodier? He wants me to look broodier?’ Xander thought with a frown before his eyes hardened slightly with anger and a disappointment he wouldn’t admit even to himself. ‘See? He doesn’t want me. He wants fucking Angel!’


‘Yeah, that’s what I thought you’d say. Nothing.’

‘Okay. Fine. Look like the Captain,’ his inner voice said after a moment. ‘You’ll still be the one he’s with. You know you want to, Xander… to have Spike, feel him inside you. Hell, you’ve been aching for a good fucking for years now. So have one. He never needs to know.’

And that much was true enough, but still… ‘I’ll know. I’ll know that no matter how much I want him, he wants Angelus. And I’ll know that I’ll never really have Spike. Hell, he hates me, doesn’t he?’

‘Wanted you to suck him off, though. Hell, he almost choked you with that bludgeon he calls a cock. Imagine how it’s gonna feel when he slams it into you. It’s been a long time since you’ve bottomed, Xander; it’ll probably feel like the first time ever…’

Gods, his inner fucking voice was a bastard… but a persuasive one.

Besides, Spike already couldn’t stand him, so what difference did it make if the vampire ever did find out it was him? One more little bit of hate, granted, but… at least he’d have had him once, right? And that had to be better than never at all…

‘That’s my boy,’ the voice chuckled softly, ‘now make yourself look like the Captain before he comes back. I know you’re good enough with glamours to do it quickly.’

Part Seven

And he must have been imagining things, Spike told himself sadly when he strolled back into the living room and found a perfect replica of his Sire sitting there.

Yeah, the shifter was just that—a shifter and a rent-boy and not Xander bloody Harris at all.

Then again, why had he even thought it was possible in the first place? Because Twinkies were hard to get?

Considering what he’d paid for the boy, the hire must be used to the sort of clients who could afford that kind of thing. He’d hardly found him on a street corner, after all.

“Sorry. Couldn’t get any. Guess we’ll have to feed you later. So,” he said, keeping the disappointment from his voice, “where were we, mate?”

Xander swallowed hard and looked up from the couch. “Uh, I think… you were… you said you wanted to…”

“Fuck that tight ass of yours,” Spike said, as though just reminded of that. “Yeah. You got lube, pet?”

He shook his head before cursing silently. Any real hire-lad would have come prepared, and Xander… wasn’t. “The service said you’d have… everything here and I… I was running late and didn’t stop and… you don’t have… anything…?” And that actually made him feel good, seeing as it would imply that this was the first time the vampire had hired a fuck since he’d come back and… ‘and I’m a huge girl. He’s just horny. It doesn’t mean anything.’

Spike frowned then shrugged. “Guess I’ll have to find something, won’t I? Because I am going to sink deep into you, bloke. Fill you right up, yeah?”

“I… do you mind if I… use your bathroom while you… look?”

One brow arched and Spike let his gaze rake over the sitting form, smirking at the dribbling shaft the other man sported. “Go ahead, mate. Through the bedroom. But no touching yourself, yeah? Want you just as hard when you come back as you are now.”

Like there was any chance of some other state? Hell, he was in Spike’s apartment, naked and waiting for the blond to fuck him. And okay, so he looked like Angel, but… and that thought wasn’t helping his suddenly flagging erection.

“Spike’s cock in my mouth,” he whispered, gazing at himself in the mirror. “Spike calling me beautiful and wanting to fuck me…” And yeah, that had him perking up.

He turned on the sink and splashed some cold water on his heated face before taking a few deep breaths. “Okay. I can do this. I can.”

He opened a few drawers, looking for a hand towel to dry his hands and cheeks and found himself laughing when he saw the unopened tube in the last one. It was obviously left from when Davidoff had been there, but that was fine.

He ended up not bothering with a towel and snatched up the tube before heading back to the living room. “Hey, S… Will! Guess what I found?”

* * * * *

Bloody hell, the boy was tight. Tight enough that he couldn’t even fit a second finger in for a good five minutes. Then again, if the bloke did this for a living, he probably had some sort of spell on his ass to make it just that tight. And that possibly explained a good bit about the boy’s fee.

“Going to split you open, mate,” he murmured, finally working that second finger into the grasping hole. “Can’t wait to see your pretty hole spread wide around me, taking me in… bloody hell, you’re going to be the tightest thing I’ve ever felt. But you know that, don’t you? And you’re going to love it, yeah? Beg me to give you more, fuck you harder… beg me to fuck you again and again, until you can’t speak or even think…”

Xander groaned, his fingers tightening on the padded back of the couch as he spread his knees a bit more on the cushions. “Gods… please…” He arched his spine, pressing his ass back on the fingers sliding slowly inside him. “I… Gods, yes… so… good, I…”

Oh, he was definitely going to have to hire this boy again, Spike told himself. He chuckled and crooked his fingers, smirking when the boy suddenly yelped. “Like that, mate? Like it when I touch you there? Like knowing I’m going to find that spot when I’m inside you, ram against it until you’re nothing but a screaming, pleading, desperate thing?”

All he could do was hiss and push back again when he felt a third, then a fourth finger breach him, nodding the entire time. Fucking hell, he’d always known Spike had a way with words, but he’d never even thought about how the blond would sound when his words weren’t insulting and brash. And then those fingers were spreading, twisting, brushing his prostate repeatedly and it was all Xander could do not to come already.

Spike heard the whimper building in the boy’s throat and smirked to himself although he was just as hot for this as the bloke was, body temperature aside. He pulled his fingers from the incredible tightness and took hold of the boy’s hips, lining himself up carefully.

He felt the seeping tip of that amazing shaft resting against him and Xander took a deep breath, holding it as he waited for the first, perfect thrust he knew was coming. But then… “Wh-what…? Why are you…?” he moaned, looking over his shoulder at the frowning vampire.

“Change back for me, mate,” Spike murmured huskily. “Prettier as you were when you got here. That’s the bloke I want to fuck.”

The brunette nodded and swallowed hard, trying not to grin like an idiot. Spike wanted him; wanted to fuck him, not Angel!

It took less than a moment to release the glamour, and he looked back at the blond again, surprised at the way his heart leapt when Spike smiled.

“Oh, yeah, pet… that’s the one.”

His hands gripped tanned hips again, feet shuffling slightly as he shifted just a bit closer and found his position once more. “Going to do you so good, pet… fill you so full of me…” And with that promise barely past his lips, he pressed his slick tip to that tiny, stretched hole, grunting slightly at the resistance that greeted him. “Bloody hell, luv… let me in, let me… fuck, pet, let me in…”

‘Oh… oh, Gods… this is… this is really happening… and he w-wants me as me, and…’

‘Told you,’ his voice said smugly, ‘Now do what the nice vampire said and let him in!’

Xander took one more deep breath, fairly sure that he wouldn’t be able to do so again until after this was finished, and he pushed back, bearing down just a bit as he felt the deep, rough burn of Spike’s head forcing him open. “Oh… Gods…” he whimpered, fingers tighter on the couch-back now. He’d forgotten how it felt… or maybe he’d never felt this way before.

Demons being more common than humans these days, Spike didn’t bother to try holding on to his human face. Instead, he stared lustfully from golden eyes, watching as his thick tip slowly—so very slowly—opened the boy, stretching the tight but flexible sphincter as the bloke moaned and trembled and silently begged for more with the motions of his hips.

“That’s it, pet,” he groaned, licking his lips as he pressed a bit harder, “Doing so good, mate… almost in you, luv… almost there… Ahhh!” He gasped as his head was finally, finally fully encased and the boy’s anus closed tightly over the lip of the bulb, foreskin and all. “B-bloody fuck, pet…”

Gods… so full already and it was just Spike’s tip, and he knew there was so much more to come and somehow the vampire’s cock felt bigger now than it had in his mouth, and… “Now… G-gods, now… d-deeper, Spike… Fuck, yes! Deeper… need this so much, n-need this…”

Spike didn’t notice the soul’s stunned silence; he was too busy trying not to come as he pushed deeper, his fingers digging roughly into the boy’s hips as he tried not to stab forward so fast he’d damage him. “Don’t… worry, m-mate… going to… have it… all of it, pet…” His forward press reversed and he pulled back an inch or so, leaving just his tip in the slick, tight heat before surging forward again, slipping himself almost halfway to flush before repeating the motion and sliding in deeper. “Yeah, pet… so bloody good…”

And Gods… if this was how Spike took a rented whore, how would he be with someone he cared about? The thought alone was enough to have Xander imagining Angelus naked, just to stave off his own orgasm.

“F-faster,” he begged shakily, “P-please… faster, Spike… G-gods… so… fuck, you’re so…” His back arched hard, neck stretching until he was staring at the ceiling when the vampire answered his plea by snapping his hips roughly forward, driving his full length into Xander’s yearning ass.

Boy wanted faster? Boy was going to get it; especially when it was so in keeping with his own desires.

He shifted a bit closer still, his heavy sac slapping lightly against the bloke’s and God, how he wished it was actually Xander he was fucking… but it wasn’t. Still, that didn’t mean he couldn’t pretend. Hell, he could pretend with the best of them, and it only made it easier when the bloke was calling his name so wantonly.

One hand released a doubtlessly bruised hip to shift over soft, moist skin until fingers found and wrapped firmly around the boy’s thick cock. “Not going to last much longer, pet,” Spike whispered, his shaft sliding faster, harder, deeper in and out of the willing hole holding him so wonderfully, “been a while since I’ve been in anyone, yeah…? Need you to come with me. Feel you shoot hot and hard over my hand, feel your amazing ass jerking me off, milking me dry… going to take longer next time, luv… fill you so full, over and over, Xan… don’t mind me calling you Xan, right…? Feel me inside you for days, you will…”

“Oh… fucking… Gods…” Xander moaned, Spike’s cock sliding roughly against his prostate now, Spike’s hand stroking him in time, Spike’s lips moving against his ear as Spike’s voice said those wonderful, wicked, wanton words. “G-gonna… F-fuck, please, I…” He gasped, unable to even vocalize anymore as the first edge of a truly staggering orgasm robbed him of breath.

And the boy… the boy!

The boy was rocking back on him, then forward into his fist, and that incredibly tight ass was taking him in and flexing wildly around him, and he could feel the bloke’s heart tripping in triple-time around him, beneath him, in his hand, and…

And he smelled the boy exploding over his fingers, felt him tightening around him, heard him begging wordlessly, moaning roughly; saw that long, browned spine bowing, heaving… tasted the ecstasy in the small slick of sweat on his lips from the boy’s skin, and…

“Xander!” he snarled, hips slamming forward again, then back before driving to flush as he emptied himself in a grunting, shattering moment of purity that he’d never known before, only barely reminding himself somehow that he couldn’t bite, he couldn’t claim… and that this was a rent-boy, after all, even if he’d unexpectedly managed to convince himself otherwise.

* * * * *

‘Gods… Gods,’ Xander was still babbling on the inside a good five minutes later.

Spike had kept his word and filled him to overflowing. He could feel the slightly cool fluids leaking from him, working slowly around the thick cock still piercing him, and… how could he go back to not having this? How had he ever managed to live without this feeling?

‘Because you didn’t know,’ that voice said, sounding stunned. ‘Fuck, how could you have known? He… and you… fuck! I didn’t know either! And we just… shit, what do we do now?’

‘You’re asking me?’ Xander demanded silently, ‘You were the one who was all ‘have him, have him, at least you’ll have had him once! And once isn’t enough, damn it!’

‘Well, I didn’t know, did I?’ the voice demanded irritably. ‘Who could know he’d be so…’

‘So Spike? So… amazing? Shit! You should have known! Or… or something! And now I’m supposed to walk away and never… never have this again?’

He was almost sobbing inside but he couldn’t let himself. So what if this was the first time he’d felt like… himself… in a good fifteen years? Not like the Magus Prime; not like the guy who had to make the hard choices, but like… Xander Harris. The Xander Harris he’d discovered he was in the year or so before the magic’s lightning had changed him forever.

There was no hope and he knew it.

Sure, Spike wanted him. That much had become clear over the time they’d spent together since he’d shown up at the vampire’s door. But would Spike want the Magus Prime? Could he?

Of course not, Xander answered himself sadly. And why should he? Hell, the vampire had already been tied to lovers who he’d come second—or third—with. He couldn’t imagine Spike wanting that yet again, and… the world would always come first. It had to.

Besides which… wanting Xander didn’t mean that Spike was looking for anything more than a fuck, did it?

No. It didn’t.

* * * * *

He could almost hear the wheels turning in the boy’s mind, which was almost insulting, considering he still had his cock buried deep inside the bloke’s rectum.

And then the boy sighed and Spike found himself frowning. It hadn’t been a happy sigh, after all, which just meant he’d have to try harder this time.

He levered himself up from the bloke’s back, letting the shifter out of what had to be a truly uncomfortable position, then slapped one palm loudly against a toned ass cheek.

“Don’t think I’m done with you yet, do you, mate?” he said, voice sounding smug even as he pulled himself out completely, smirking at the copious dribbles of thick jism that flowed from the boy’s ass with the action. “Not even close, pet.”

Xander blinked as he found himself pulled from the couch and dragged quickly—and unresistingly—to the chair nearby.

He blinked again when the vampire sat down and slouched a good bit before motioning to his still-hard shaft.

“Want you to ride me, luv,” Spike murmured, meeting wide brown eyes with golden ones. “Want to watch you on me, moving slow and sweet… see you getting hotter, pet, more desperate. Want to feel you tight around me, feel that spot inside you that makes you quiver… come on, Xan… can see how much you want it, too. Want me inside you again, making you full instead of empty… could slip right in, luv. Still slick and wet, aren’t you? Won’t be hardly any pain, yeah…?”

“Oh… Gods,” was all Xander could say because Spike was right. He did want that. Wanted to see the vampire’s face while he took him in; wanted to watch his eyes while he rode the long, thick cock roughly, softly, fast, slow… wanted to see Spike when the blond finally came so deep in him that he’d think he could taste him…

“Yesssss…” he whispered, his cock already throbbing as he straddled the pale lap and positioned himself. “Yesssss…” he moaned loud and deep as he pressed down, a sharp cry flying from his lips as that cool bliss speared him wickedly.

* * * * *

“Captain,” Andrew spoke hesitantly into the hexicon sensor, “Have… have you seen him?”

“What?” came the immediate reply, Angel’s voice a little bit cold. He was still annoyed with his Lieutenant for not dusting Spike although a large part of him was actually glad of it. “Gods, don’t tell me he’s out again?”

“I… shit, Captain, it seems like it. He was supposed to be training with Bruja Roja and Mini-She over the magetrix but they say he never showed. His Guard says he went into the Library and didn’t come out, so…”

“Shit. We need to find out how he does that!” Angel growled. “It’s not safe for him to be just… running around. Have you checked the… usual places?”

Andrew rolled his eyes, glad the conhexion wasn’t visual as well as auditory. “Of course, Captain. He’s not at any of his clubs. Should we… I mean, maybe the Magus…”

The Captain sighed and ran the possibilities through his mind.

“Yeah,” he said after another moment, his tone clearly unhappy. “Contact him. I’ll get the usual PB teams ready. Pin-hex us if you hear anything before the Magus gets here. I have no doubt that the PB’s got one of the scanners. He’s too good at avoiding us lately.”

The Lieutenant nodded. “Yes, sir. Uh, and Captain? About what happened with Spi…”

“Leave it alone, Andrew,” Angelus snarled, cutting the other man off quickly. “You made a judgment call, and… you might not have been wrong, okay? Now drop it and find the PB… or rather, contact the Magus Prime and have him find him.”

Part Eight

The third time had been against the tiled wall in the shower, and Xander had found himself glad that he had some small skill with healing his own body. If he hadn’t, he was sure his ass would have been screaming by the time Spike had wrapped pale, soapy arms around him and lifted one alabaster leg to wrap around the equally pale waist.

Now, of course, they were both as clean as they were likely to get until after their ‘paid time’ was through.

Xander chuckled softly and licked his lips as he pulled back from the vampire’s finally softening shaft. “Wow… gotta love vamp constitution,” he said with an admiring grin.

Spike smirked and wiped one small white drop from the boy’s lips before lapping at the bit of fluid and smirking more at the moan it earned.

He’d been wrong before, when he’d thought the boy’s ass would be as good as his mouth. That ass was better. But still, he’d thought the reddened and abused sphincter could use a bit of a break, and that mouth… Oh, that mouth was definitely the next best thing.

“What can I say, pet?” he murmured, leaning in as the boy shimmied up his body. He pressed his lips lightly over the racing pulse in the bloke’s neck and left a small kiss behind. The boy didn’t want to let him kiss his mouth, but his neck… oh, the shifter seemed to like that a lot. “Vampires are a sexual bunch, yeah?” he added, finishing the thought.

“Oh, yeah,” Xander moaned, arching against the cool lips then cursing as he felt the vibration in his head. “Unnngh. Sorry, S… Will. I have a call.”

Spike’s head cocked as the boy wandered over to his pile of clothing and started pawing through it. ‘Looks good like that,’ he admitted smugly, ‘all bent over, that well-fucked ass in the air… bloody hell, need to keep this one on retainer.’ He ignored the sense of disappointment that the real Xander would never have responded so well to his interest, but then again, at least this bloke was a sure thing. ‘And a bleeding amazing thing, at that.’

He couldn’t hear the soul rattling around inside him, but it was definitely still there. Just busy, apparently. ‘Probably trying to find some way to feel guilty for fucking the boy’, his demon said snarkily and Spike chuckled. Probably so.

“What?” Xander demanded as he clicked his portable hexicon on. “Kinda busy here…”

Spike watched, getting a little worried when the bloke suddenly tensed.

“Shit! What about the wards?” Xander snarled, forgetting for the moment that he was in Spike’s living room and entirely naked. “No… no, okay. Yeah, I’ll see if I can find him. I don’t think he knows about the tracers. I’ll… yeah, I’ll be there in like twenty. I just need to…” he blinked, then blinked again.

“No. Nothing’s wrong. I… like I said, I was busy. I’ll… yeah… yeah, I… SHIT! Shut the fuck up! I know what to do, okay? Just tell Fai… uh. Tell her to calm him down! You know he has a habit of going off half-cocked… and stop with the stupid giggling! Gods, Andr… Uggggh! Act your age! And I’ll be there sooner if I can get off the fucking hexicon!”

He was almost afraid to look at the vampire once he’d ended the call, but he sort of had to. His smile was a little sheepish and a little scared. “Uh…”

“Problem, pet?” Spike managed to say, even as his mind raced to figure out what the fuck was going on. He’d thought at first that the boy’s handler was calling to tell him the allotted time was up, but that hadn’t sounded like a simple call. Something was wrong, obviously, and while Spike shouldn’t care, somehow… he did. “Anything I can help you with?”

And Xander was relieved and flattered at the same time.

Relieved that the vampire hadn’t figured it out… and flattered that Spike seemed to care. Still…

“No, I… family emergency. I… I’m sorry, Will. I’ll have your money refunded, okay?”

The blond growled and stalked closer to the bloke. “Don’t care about the money, do I? Just thought… got a couple friends—well, not friends as such, but… know some people with pull, yeah? Figured they could help if it’s something bad, is all.”

What was funny to Xander was that… as far as he knew, Spike didn’t know anyone in this world now other than himself, Andrew and Thomas, and… had Spike just offered to get him to help with his own problem?

Well, yeah. And again with the flattered.

“I appreciate it, Spike,” he said distractedly as he pulled his clothes on quickly, “but I think I’ve got it covered. It’s… not exactly something new, just… shit, he has the worst timing.”

“Who does, luv?” the vampire questioned, his brow furrowing as he tried to figure out what was bothering him about the boy’s words.

“My… son,” Xander said softly before shaking his head and moving to stand in front of Spike.

He reached out, pulling the naked vampire hard against him.

“I… it was… amazing. But I have to go.”

He waited until the vampire nodded, then gave a mental ‘to hell with it’ and leaned in, pressing his lips hard against Spike’s pale pink mouth, his tongue sweeping out and into the cool cavern, plundering it willfully for a good minute before he forced himself to pull away.

“Sorry, I… bye.”

And with that, he was gone… leaving behind a very confused—and very hard from just that one kiss—vampire who was still trying to understand what had seemed… off.

* * * * *

It wasn’t until he was halfway back to the Citadel—meaning the Hyperion Hotel and the surrounding three block radius—that Xander realized he’d never done what he’d actually gone into the Vampire Sector to do. Of course, he’d been kind of… distracted.

“That’s a laugh,” he mumbled, thoroughly disgusted with himself. “How could I do that to him? I mean, fuck! I had sex with him—repeatedly—and let him think I was someone else and… Gods, talk about betrayal, right? Because the whole bunch of us didn’t lie to him and use him enough back in Sunnydale, did we?”

‘Get over it,’ his inner voice ordered, sounding a good bit more like its usual snarky self now that they weren’t with Spike anymore. ‘So you lied. Big deal. He had a good time, judging from the come leaking out of your ass, Xander. And so did you. So instead of getting all boo-hoo, you need to figure out how we’re gonna get Spike into bed again. With you and not some alleged ‘rent-boy’ this time.’

Well, okay. Alex had a point. He did want Spike and Gods, he’d proven it just by being so fucking needy when the vampire had been in him earlier. There was still the problem of how to approach the idea with the blond, of course… and the question of whether Spike would even consider it, once he knew how committed Xander was to his job.

Hell, it was more than just a job. It was… his duty.

‘This is hopeless. You realize that, right?’ he demanded silently as he strode through the darkening streets.

‘Nothing is ever hopeless, Xander,’ Alex answered quickly. ‘Some things are easy and some things are hard. But hopeless? You know better. And okay, probably not an easy one here, but… hey, he’s alive again. That makes it… less hard than it would be if he were still dust, right?’

And Alex was still an asshole, Xander knew, but… at least sometimes he was optimistic. Maybe too much so, but… oh, well.

‘Fine. I’ll give it some thought. Now can we please just find the PB already?’

The voice snorted. ‘I told you that one was gonna be trouble, didn’t I?’

Brown eyes rolled, even while Xander darted around a group of slow-moving Fyarl demons. ‘At least he keeps things interesting.’

And as that was true enough, Alex stayed quiet for all of a second. ‘You know, maybe you should take the sensor with you when you go out from now on. So the next time he does this, you won’t have to go run back home before you find him…’

‘And you couldn’t have thought of that sooner? Thanks so much. But I’d still need to meet the teams…’

The internal bickering continued as usual, though this time to the point that both ‘voices’ were entirely unaware of a certain bleached blond vampire following closely behind and keeping to the shadows.

* * * * *

The boy had had a good five minute lead by the time Spike had managed to find clothes, dress and run out of his apartment. Of course, being a vampire had its advantages and he’d caught up just before the border to the rest of the city.

He spared a glance and a grin for Michaels in his booth and headed over there for a bare moment when the bloke waved back.

“Yeah, mate… what’s going on, then?” Spike said quickly, eyes still locked on the retreating brunette.

“Nothing, Mister… Will. I just… was there something wrong with the first hire-lad? I mean, he was in and out in like ten minutes, so… I was curious. I… my Sire’s Deathday is coming up and I was thinking…”

“First lad?” Spike’s brow furrowed. He’d only rented one boy, so what the hell was this bloke talking about?

‘He called us ‘Spike’,’ the soul whispered, suddenly back but sounding oddly… awed. ‘The boy… he called us Spike. More than once. We never told him to call us Spike, did we?’

And no. In fact, he’d clearly told the hire-boy to call him Will. He’d never mentioned the name Spike; not even once, which meant…

He blinked, realizing the guard was still waiting for a response.

“Uh, no. The first bloke was fine, Michaels. The second had more of the look I was going for, is all. Tell you what, I’ll call the agency. Tell them you’re considering their service for your Sire; how about that? Get you a good rate, if I can. Look, mate, got to go, yeah? Trying to catch up with a friend of mine. Later days.”

The younger vampire was blinking as the blond strode away. Mister Nemoy had to be the least class-conscious Master he’d ever heard of, much less met.

This time, an entry in the log book wasn’t gonna cut it.

He pulled out his porta-hex and started calling his work contacts. A little extra effort guarding the blond wouldn’t hurt at all; especially if Mister Nemoy did what he’d promised. His Sire had been a little cold to Michaels lately, but a hire-lad of the quality he’d seen today—even the first one—would go a long way towards pleasing her.

* * * * *

‘I should have known,’ Spike told himself as he stalked Harris, carefully staying out of sight although the bloke seemed to be paying no attention to the world around him whatsoever.

Okay, maybe he shouldn’t have known at first, but when the bloke had called him Spike, something should have clicked. Then again, he’d been thinking with the smaller head by then, so…

And when the bloody fuck had Xander gone and turned gay, anyway? He’d never shown any sign of it back in the ‘dale, had he?

Well, no… not really, although the boy had seemed to watch him a lot. He’d always figured it was because he didn’t trust vampires, though—souled or not—rather than because he was harboring any secret yearning for his tight body.

Obviously he’d been wrong about that. The way Harris had pressed back onto his cock, ridden him, opened for him in the shower proved that much, but then again…

“Son? Bleeding Xander Harris has a son. And that would imply that he’s been bedding a few birds here and there too. Bi, then?”

‘Ask him when we catch up to him,’ his soul suggested; ‘Speaking of which, why aren’t we moving faster?’

‘Don’t want to catch him, do I?’ Spike answered slowly. ‘Not when I can follow him and find out what the bloody fuck is going on, right?’

And apparently, what was going on was that Xander was meeting three groups of guards and the Mighty Poof.

Spike stared at the human from a good forty feet away. ‘Sire,’ the demon muttered, flashing to the fore for a moment, but… how was that possible? The man was clearly human, and… he’d think about it later. Right now, he was to busy frowning at the words he could just make out.

* * * * *

“Okay,” Xander snapped as he reached the men, “PB One, take the beach to the north. Check the arcades and the strip clubs up there. He’s been acting skittish lately, so he might be trying a new location. PB Two. Check wherever the unaffiliated blood whores are hanging these days. He likes to think he’s immortal… which he is, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an idiot sometimes. PB Three, you’re with me. We’ll be taking the Pier, so conceal your weapons a little better than you did last time. Anyone gets a piece lifted this time and the whole team is going on rotation with the Captain’s family… for a week. Got it?”

He gave each team a hard stare, nodding when team three paled and started strapping blades and tasers under their shirts. “Good. Andrew?”

The Lieutenant nodded and handed Xander a small silver box. “We’re not picking up any signals, but if he’s far enough away, we wouldn’t. Uh, also if he thought we might have him bugged and bought new clothes or something, which… you know. But there’s no activity on his cards, so who can say?”

Xander growled softly. “Yeah. He can be fucking sneaky when he wants to. If he thought of it, I can guarantee you he paid cash. Okay, everybody. You have your assignments. Locate and report only. Do not engage. I’ll handle that part once he’s found. Now, move out!”

“Well?” Andrew demanded when it took the men a few seconds to get up to speed, “You heard the Magus Prime! Move out!”

* * * * *

Bloody hell, Harris had sounded… commanding! And even more, the Guard teams had listened respectfully, not even one of the blokes questioning the orders.

And then he’d heard Andrew—the bloody Lieutenant!—call Xander Harris the Magus Prime, and…

“Bloody hell,” Spike growled even as he took off on foot after the squad the bloke was leading, “He’s been playing me the whole time! That’s how he could give me a place like that to stay without asking anyone… and manage the rest of it! He’s not the fucking Magus Prime’s Assistant, he’s the bloody bloke in charge!”

He would have been ashamed of himself for being fooled, except who would have expected that of the boy who’d been such a bumbling disaster back in the day? And…

“Bloody hell! He did it on purpose! Pretended he was still missing that eye, and… and he got bloody Thomas to lie for him, too!”

He had no idea of how the bloke had gotten the eye back, of course, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was… Xander had lied to him! In word and deed and by omission, as well, and that was before he’d shown up at his place pretending to be a rent-boy!

What he did know-- and what the soul seemed very interested in finding out-- was why. The demon, on the other hand, didn’t much give a fuck.

Harris had lied. Harris had lied and let them fuck him.

Harris had lied and let them fuck him and then he’d kissed them, no matter what he’d said about it being too personal, and…

Harris—Xander, the demon muttered—wanted them.

Suddenly lying didn’t seem that important.

Or not as important as what had the bloke all in military-mode, anyway.

Spike smirked and watched the SUV as he paced it on the sidewalk. The freeway would be a parking lot about now; he figured that was why the blokes were on the city streets.

Of course, those streets weren’t much better, which was how he was managing to keep up without even breaking into a run.

Yeah, he was for bloody damned sure going to find out what the hell was so important that Xander had needed to run off almost mid-shag.

He’d said it was a family thing, and mentioned a son, but… what would a wee bloke be doing with blood whores or at strip clubs?

He hugged the sides of the buildings he walked beside, eyes locked on the vehicle as he and it slowly grew closer to their destination.

Part Nine

Xander pulled into one of the prominently placed ‘Guard Only’ parking spaces near the Promenade and growled frustratedly at how long it had taken to get there. Fortunately, he’d been able to clear the slow lane on the freeway after a good fifteen minutes of calls and orders or they would have still been creeping along, hoping to someday reach Pico.

He climbed from the driver’s seat and rolled his eyes as the team arranged themselves around him. As if he was in any danger.

“Back off, soldiers. I’m not the objective here,” he reminded them before pulling the sensor unit from his jacket pocket and turning in a slow circle, eyes locked on the display. “Looks like we’re the lucky ones, guys,” he said with a grin while he pretended to ignore the team’s groans.

“Southwest,” he added. “Looks like… maybe four hundred yards.”

He started walking carefully, paying more attention to the silver box than his own steps but that’s what the team were for at the moment. They’d keep him from running into anything while he traced the PB. “Precious Burden. Hah! What was I thinking? Pain in the Butt is more like it…”

The five Guards exchanged amused glances. There was a reason they called themselves the PITA Patrol, after all.

“Call it in,” Xander added. “Encoded pin-hex.”

* * * * *

In the end, Spike had had to ‘borrow’ a vehicle. Fortunately, there’d been a smallish blue bloke with a spiky face getting off of a Ninja just after the SUV had darted for the on-ramp to the freeway.

He figured the courier was still sitting on the sidewalk and trying to process the fact that he’d just been mugged of his bike, but he’d worry about it later. Right now, he was too busy following the bloody Magus Prime, wasn’t he?

So he watched, and he followed, his brow furrowing when Xander said… something… to the blokes surrounding him and then stepped alone into what appeared to be a rather nice restaurant. “What the fuck are those so-called Guards thinking? Should be looking out for him!” he snarled softly, then blinked and looked up at the second floor balcony of the place.

“What…?” he muttered, watching as Harris crept across to the railing farthest from the Guards and slung a leg over the railing. “Sodding moron’s going to get himself killed… and when did he change his clothes? Or… yah, must be a spell, I’m guessing… Better not bloody fall!” he growled, watching closely as the brunette went from the railing to the ledge of the next building over, then dashed cat-like across a far too slender iron bar holding up an awning before dropping lightly onto the sidewalk at the end of the block, hidden from his Guards by the side of the building.

He strolled slowly closer, trying not to draw the bloke’s attention as he watched Xander shake himself and start down the walkway with an arrogant and jaunty bounce to his step.

“Now, that,” Spike said with a chuckle as he caught up to the man, “was truly impressive. Balancing on that rod alone… acrobatic, I’d say.”

The brunette turned, the well-known eyes raking down his body, then up. The full red lips quirked into that oddly appealing half-smile and Xander laughed. “Yeah, well… I’ve always been pretty coordinated. It’s like Dad always says. It’s easy as long as you don’t look down.” He winked and looked down, obviously checking out the blond’s groin. “Which I guess means… looking down makes it hard?”

And this… wasn’t Xander. Or not the Xander he’d been following, anyway, but… “Uh, Dad…?” he said brilliantly, soul and demon both confused by the bloke who looked exactly like Xander but obviously didn’t carry Spike’s scent at all… and was clearly hitting on him. It was only when he looked closer still that he realized… yeah, this was Xander. A younger Xander. Even moreso than the Xander he remembered from his chipped days… the early ones.

Not-Xander blushed slightly and sighed. “Yeah, I still live at home,” he muttered. “And believe me when I say, that makes it really hard to meet people. You know, unless they’re… approved.”

What Spike was just now figuring out was that it wasn’t the way Xander looked that appealed to him half as much as the bloke’s… spirit, he supposed, because here was this man who looked like the bloke in question and while he definitely found him attractive, he didn’t particularly want to toss him down and have a go at him. Then again, he wouldn’t have said no if he hadn’t met the Xander he’d originally been following.

‘This… this has to be Xander’s son,’ the soul whispered, staring at the young man who appeared much the same as the bloke they’d shagged repeatedly.

“So that’s why the impersonation of a circus performer, then. Chasing after you, is he?”

Not-Xander chuckled again and started moving down the street once more. “Something like that. He hates it when I slip the leash, y’know? Of course, that doesn’t stop me from doing it, but it gets harder all the time,” he said with another sly gaze at the blond’s crotch. “So you’re a vampire, huh? Cool.”

“Guess the not breathing gave it away, yeah? So what brought you out here tonight, then? Aside from wanting to escape your cage for a bit?”

The brunette sighed and gave a regretful look over his shoulder before turning the next corner, moving along the block behind the one he’d fled. “Actually, I had a date. Not that it matters now, I guess. Usually getting up and ditching a guy with the check but without even a goodnight fuck doesn’t bode well for a second date.”

Spike shrugged and carefully slowed his steps, smiling when the young man slowed as well. “Guess it depends on the bloke, doesn’t it? A nice one would understand if you explained it, I’m thinking. So question is… was your date? A nice bloke, I mean?”

Not-Xander chuckled and shook his head. “Not likely. Nice guys are kinda boring, y’know? I like a little… bad in my men.” He cocked his head and gave the blond an appraising stare. “Are you a little bad… fuck, I don’t know your name.”

“S… Will. And no, mate. Never been a little bad. Big bad, yeah. Little bad? Not a bloody chance.”

“Will. Nice to run into you. I’m Lex,” the young man said, shifting a bit closer as they continued walking. “So just how… big… are you?”

Bloody hell, the boy had no finesse. Even his innuendoes were heavy-handed. It was all Spike could do not to roll his eyes, but… Xander was nearby somewhere and he had that nifty gadget to lead him to the boy, so he’d do his best to contain the lad until his ‘Dad’ found him again.

“Big enough and bad enough, mate, to have you begging me to let you go…”

Lex grinned wickedly. “Oh, I don’t know… not really big on the begging, Will.”

“You will be, Lex… and right soon.”

* * * * *

“Shit,” Xander snarled as he reached the back of the restaurant with no sight of his erring child. “How does he do that?”

It wasn’t until he was walking back down the small aisle between the tables after checking the restrooms—male and female-- that he saw the vampire staring at him curiously. “Oh, great,” he muttered, “not again.”

“Okay, I’m not him,” Xander said quickly as he sat down across from the blond. “He’s my… brother and he wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place. I came to take him home and he ran. I’ll pay for whatever you guys had on my way out, okay? And if you want me to give him a message, I will.” It wasn’t this guy’s fault that Lex was a brat, after all.

The vampire laughed and shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. And just so you know, I never thought you were Lex. He just left a couple minutes ago and you’re wearing different clothes, plus…” He laughed again. “I seriously doubt a couple minutes is enough time for anyone to have as much sex with a Master as you reek of. Just… tell him it would have been fun.”

* * * * *

He was still blushing when he left the restaurant to find the guards standing just outside the door, using the overhang to keep a watchful gaze on the inside of the restaurant.

“He rabbited,” he announced, walking past them and back onto the sidewalk, “but he can’t have gotten too far, right?”

The Guards followed, wisely staying silent. The Magus Prime rarely blushed, after all, and they were well aware of how touchy he would be until the red faded, though most of them wondered what had happened to create that state.

The one Guard who knew chose to keep his mouth shut and keep his job. The benefits alone were well worth it.

“You three,” Xander ordered after staring at the sensor for a minute or two, “around the block. He’s on the next street over. Hang back and let me bring him in. You two,” he added with a nod to the others, “are with me. Give me ten feet or so. That should leave you with enough room when he tries to get away. And watch out for his feet!”

The men separated and moved in opposite directions. The PB was gonna get it and they’d be damned if they were going to miss the show.

* * * * *

“Oh… shit,” Lex breathed, catching sight of his ‘Dad’ approaching from ahead of him. He had no idea of how he’d managed to get so close, but then again, he’d been distracted by Will, and… “Sorry, Will. Gotta go…” And that was when he found long, pale fingers wrapped around his upper arm in an iron-like grip. “No, really… you don’t understand, okay? I need… let me go! You have to… Please, Will! Please, let me go and…”

The vampire chuckled and held the bloke’s arm tighter, his other arm stretching out to drag the brunette’s back hard against his chest. “Told you, didn’t I? That you’d be begging me to let you go… guess I was right, mate…”

His brows arched at the truly impressive spate of profanity that spewed from the young man’s lips and shook his head. “You kiss your Mum with that mouth, bloke?”

“No,” Lex snarled, still struggling as Xander came closer, “My Mother’s dead, you fucking asshole!” It was only the stunned surprise on Xander’s face that had him suddenly wondering just who it was that was restraining him.

Spike frowned and sighed softly. “Sorry to hear that, mate… but at least you’ve still got your Dad, yeah? And he seems to care about you, so… could be worse.”

Xander sighed, finally close enough to hear what the vampire was saying. “Uh, the word ‘Dad’ might not be… entirely correct. What are you doing here, Spike?”

The vampire snorted. “You’re welcome, pet. Nice to see you again, too. Happy to be of assistance with your wild boy, here.”

Two identical sets of brown eyes rolled. “Whatever,” the two matching voices said, sounding put-upon.

The Guards blinked but didn’t attack the vampire even though he looked an awful lot like the infiltrators who’d tried breaking into the Citadel over the years. The Magus seemed to know him, after all, and the two—three, including the PB—were snarking at each other like old and irritated friends. Instead, they simply kept an eye on the blond while keeping another on the PB as they all made their way back to the SUV… and none of them made a single comment about the vampire never letting go of the PB or even relaxing his hold.

After all, if Lex got away, they’d have to chase him again.

* * * * *

“Quite a boy you’ve got there,” Spike said, flopping back on the couch in the Magus Prime’s—Xander’s—office with a large glass of whiskey in his hand. “Care to explain how it is that he’s you? And don’t give me that ‘he’s your son’ line again, Xander. Looks exactly like you. Smells exactly like you. Aside from the fact that you’re covered in my scent right now,” he added with a sharp glare.

Xander frowned and shook his head as he put the stopper back in the decanter on his desk and went to sit on the opposite end of the couch from the vampire. “We’ll get to Lex,” he said after taking a long, slow swallow from his glass. “First, though… I think I need to tell you some… things.”

“You think. You think?” The vampire growled, letting his demon show. “You came to me, Xander… pretended to be a fucking whore! You… God, you had my cock in your mouth, my cock in your ass! You let me fuck you and never bothered to tell me it was really you! Not even when you knew I wanted you! And you THINK you need to ‘tell me some things’?” He slammed back the remaining booze in his glass then flung the crystal tumbler roughly at the far wall, smirking when it shattered. “You owe me, boy! An explanation, if nothing else!”

“I was coming to talk to you, damn it!” Xander snarled back, his own glass shattering, but in his hand as opposed to against the wall, “But you opened the door and got all ‘get to business and get naked’! What the fuck was I supposed to do? Tell you that I was really me? Because you would have so loved finding out that you’d just told me you wanted to fuck me, right?” He glared, eyes doing the night-sky thing again. He could tell.

“And why do you think I did it anyway, Spike? Stripped for you, sucked your cock, let you fuck me over and over again; let you make me beg and scream your name? Because it was what you wanted?” Xander snorted.

“Not likely! I did it because… because it was what I wanted! What I always wanted, even when I didn’t know it! So how’s that for fucking irony? I treated you like shit… treated Buffy like a huge disappointment because she wanted Angel, then you! But once the Change happened, what did I do, huh? I went out and found every vampire I could who would have me, as long as they reminded me of you! And I didn’t even realize it until after you just fucking appeared here last week! So who’s the pathetic one now? Who’s the waste of space?”

He was almost growling as the words flew from him, no matter how hard he tried to stop them.

“I have all this fucking power and it means nothing to me! I never wanted it; never asked for it! But it’s here and it’s mine and I have no choice about using it! It’s… fuck, I owe the magic! Owe it my best effort to keep things together, to keep order because the Chaos-times were… just be glad you missed that!” Xander shuddered.

“And through all of it, I never got to feel happy, never got to have anything just because I wanted it! Not even my lovers were chosen just because I wanted them! And yeah, I must have always known somewhere inside that it was you I wanted, but… fuck, every single one of them came with some sort of purpose!”

“Joseph, Mike, Jamie… even fucking Thomas! Each one was chosen to bring me support while rebuilding or to back me for long enough to show that I could get through whatever crisis was going on, and…”

Xander swallowed hard and lurched from the sofa. “And I shouldn’t have had that whiskey,” he grunted as he fell to his knees beside the waste bin and heaved roughly.

Part Ten

He was totally confused, even the soul still trying to work its way through the tangle of words that had just erupted from Xander’s mouth. That didn’t stop him from nearly flying to the bloke’s side and holding the longish dark hair back as far more liquid came out than had been consumed, the sour smell of bile not bothering him once he stopped breathing.

And how bizarre was it that he’d been breathing to begin with?

Still, maybe it made sense. He’d been shocked by the sheer volume of words coming from the man in a manner unlike the babbles he recalled so well, after all; not to mention the pure bitterness he’d heard when the subject of Xander’s former lovers inserted itself. More bitterness than the boy had shown even after losing his eye.

His free hand stroked the man’s sweat-sheened forehead lightly and when he was sure Xander was finished emptying himself, he sat back, dragging the larger body into his lap.

“I’m sorry, pet,” he murmured after a few moments. “Not for demanding an explanation, because you still owe me one of those. But I’m sorry about everything you’ve had to deal with, yeah? Sorry you’ve felt so alone and such. And you’re right. I don’t know what happened while I was… away. Those ‘Chaos-times’ you mentioned. Missed all of that and you’re likely right that I’m glad of it. Something you ought to know, though, luv…” Spike swallowed hard and smiled against Xander’s shoulder when the bloke’s cheek dropped to his hair.

“Wanted you… before. In the ‘dale. Before the soul and after.” He considered. “Mostly after, though. And then I burned and when I came back, you were in sodding Africa, yeah? Still there when…”

“The dragon…?” Xander whispered, his throat raw from yelling and heaving but unwilling to move from the incredible comfort of Spike’s hold although he knew it wouldn’t last. He couldn’t afford for it to last.

The vampire chuckled softly, fingers tangling lightly in silken brown strands. “Yeah, pet… the dragon. You were still in Africa when I burned the second time. Never had the chance to… well, and who am I kidding? The Xander Harris I remembered was so bloody straight that the idea of kissing a bloke would have had him running, much less knowing a vampire wanted to shag him… be shagged by him…”

The brunette sighed softly. “That… that’s the other reason I didn’t tell you it was me, Spike… I… fuck, I needed so badly to… I mean, I always have to be so in control and…”

“And you needed… wanted… someone else to be in charge for a little while, yeah?” Spike murmured, smiling at the almost imperceptible nod against his hair. “Think… maybe we can work with that, luv… long as you don’t mind taking control every once in a while.” He chuckled. “Not all the time, pet… loved fucking that tight ass of yours, didn’t I? But… you’ve got a brilliant shaft on you, mate. Wouldn’t mind finding out what you can do with it.”

Xander groaned unhappily, pulling away from the blond. “Y-yeah. Because you really still want me. Even knowing that… my work has to come first.”

Spike snorted. “Said I want you, mate. Didn’t swear undying love or devotion, did I?” He released the slightly larger man when he struggled; then he stood and returned to the couch. “Look, Xan. Think you know how much I loved being inside you, yeah? Not going to deny it now. Got history, we do. Not of the shagging kind, granted, but history anyway.”

The brunette slowly levered himself up from the floor and leaned against his desk, giving the vampire a considering gaze. “So?”

“So?” Spike repeated before leaning forward and grabbing another glass and holding it out for a fill-up that the other man finally provided. “So,” he continued, “I figure there’s things we can do for each other—to each other—that your ‘new world order’ types wouldn’t understand, yeah? Like you needing to be buggered all thorough-like every now and again… or me wanting you and that heat of yours, pet.”

“Just… sex, then?” Xander said after thinking for a minute or so, “Nothing serious?”

The vampire snorted again. “Serious enough, mate. Don’t share well, if you’ll recall. But not a grand, sweeping passion, right? Just… two blokes who’re familiar with each other from back in the day and trust each other not to tell tales. The bloody amazing sex is just a bonus.”

And Xander had never actually thought about that possibility. “Friends… who fuck. Huh.” He cocked his head, chewing the inside of his cheek as he thought about it. “That’s what you’re talking about, right? You and me. Friends.”

“Long as there’s shagging involved, pet, ‘friends’ will do.”

It was an easier decision to make than Xander had expected it to be, because he found himself replying after less than a moment.


Spike smirked. “Besides, figure you could use a hand with that bloody Lex of yours. You know, pet… the one that looks and smells just like you. Doesn’t have your spirit, though.” He took a swig of whiskey and pursed his lips. “Hate to say it, Xander—well, no I don’t—but… your ‘son’ seems to be a sodding brat. Not to mention, so out of the closet that the door must be hanging from one hinge, if that.”

“Yeah,” the brunette said sadly, “He is. My fault, obviously. He didn’t grow up with my Dad.”

* * * * *

“They’re called mirror-twins,” Xander said a good ten minutes later, finally relaxing on the couch again… or relaxing as much as he could, considering. “Well, that’s what the media calls them, anyway. I guess it’s easier—and possibly less confusing—than ‘Pan-dimensional Co-existing Selves’. Besides, it doesn’t really matter what they’re called. They are… what they are.”

One brow arched as Spike sipped his drink, then he nodded. “Right, then. Leaving the whole question of ‘they’ for the moment, we’re talking about Lex. Pan-dimensional whats-it, then. So he really is you.”

A soft sigh and Xander made the questionable decision to have another drink. “Sort of. I… how much do you know about what happened after the Change, Spike? I mean, did you have the time to check… history?”

He laughed a little, seeing the look on the blond’s face—a look he remembered well from the few times the vampire had helped with research, back in the old days. “Okay. Short version, then…”

Xander closed his eyes and leaned his head back, glass resting lightly on his stomach.

“You know something about the Change. Well, what came after… those Chaos-times I was talking about earlier…? That was ugly.

“Imagine it, Spike. The entire world was in upheaval. Humans were Changing, shifting… the Magic somehow called out everything non-human in them, no matter how far back it was buried in their families. Nobody knew what was happening or why… they just knew there was something wrong.”

The man swallowed hard, still staring at the insides of his eyelids.

“I’m not gonna go into too much detail. If you want to know about those times, you can check it out online. The magetrix at your place is cleared for Top Secret access, so you’ll be able to read things most of the world can’t.

“It took… close to three years to calm things down enough to get some order going, and honestly, that was largely because of Angel. He… had the ability, somehow, to organize. I guess all those long-ass hunt-and-kill plots of his finally came in handy, right?”

He heard the blond take a swift, hissing breath and chuckled. “We’ll talk about him later, okay? You wanted to know about Lex.”

The vampire snorted. “Taking the scenic route there, aren’t you?”

Xander laughed and shook his head, letting it loll on the back of the couch. “The scenic route would involve you naked, Spike. But no. It’s just… you need to understand the why of it; not just the what.”

“So,” he continued after a slow sip of whiskey which seemed to be settling well and not making him want to heave again, “Basically, things were fucked and then I came along. Hooked up with Angel and his crew, took over… and Willow and the others did the same where they were.

“The Slayers—remember how they were made by combining demonic traits with human? Well, the demonic came out in every single one of them. And some reacted better than others. Mostly, they helped to get things under control, and then…”

He sighed and shook his head.

“The Magic had a sense of humour, Spike. Hell, it probably still does.

“Of everyone in the world—every Slayer and witch, every Watcher and human and demon… it chose me. It chose me to funnel a good quarter of its power into, Gods know why.

“Maybe because… oh, hey! Funny thing. Remember how Wills called me a demon magnet that time? And how every single girl I ever dated turned out to be either evil or a demon herself?”

Xander thought for a moment. “Except Cordy, but Gods know what she really was, right? I mean, so many so-called humans turned out to be anything but, so…”

Spike snarled and got up, grabbing the decanter from the desk before flinging himself almost violently back onto the couch. “Doesn’t much matter now, yeah? Chit’s been dead for a long while. Get on with it, pet.”

“Right,” Xander said softly, finishing the liquor in his glass and smiling slightly when he felt it being refilled, “Demon magnet.”

“Turns out,” he went on, “the Harris family tree? Not so human after all. Looks like I was a big turn-on for demons because I’m at least part… just about every variety there is. And maybe that’s why the magic wanted me.”

“And Lex?” Spike demanded impatiently, “How does your bloody ‘son’ figure in, here? Because I’m for bloody sure not seeing it.”

Xander cracked one eye and chuckled at the annoyed look on Spike’s face.

“Okaaaaaaaaaay… skipping ahead.

“Order from Chaos, blah-blah-blah.

“I didn’t want to spend all my time dealing with little shit, got the demon Clans to elect representatives. Formed the Assembly. Formed the Magi Council.

“I only deal with the truly huge issues, and Gods know why they even trusted me in the beginning but I had good help.

“And then…” Xander smiled slightly, looking a little uncomfortable.

“A little over fifteen years ago, the Arch Magus came to me, Spike.

“Things had finally settled down enough that the Darksiders were losing support from the Clans and the Magi Council decided it was because of me.

“But what would happen to everything we’d worked so hard for if I died?”

He chuckled humourlessly. “We didn’t know yet that I couldn’t be killed, y’know? We didn’t find that out until a year or so later.”

And Spike found himself growling at the thought of how Xander might have discovered that… and wondering if he’d be allowed to kill whatever wanker it was that had made the effort. Then again, with Angelus around, there wasn’t much chance of the pissant still being alive, and much as it irritated him, it was still good.

“Right,” he rumbled, low and deep, “Council of bloody Mages. Got it. And get to the point before I shag you unconscious just to shut your gob, pet.”

Well, that had him sitting up straight and opening his eyes to look at the vampire with surprise and desire. “Okay… I’ll hurry. Unless the offer’s off the table if I do, because… so wouldn’t mind that, Spike.”

He smirked at the look on the blond’s face and shifted closer on the couch.

“Right. Magi. Council. ‘What if you died’. Blah-blah-blah.”

Xander grinned.

“Turns out, some of the Magi could see into other dimensions. Ones where time ran differently. They figured it couldn’t hurt any to have a back-up Magus Prime… or a back-up Red Witch and a number of others.

“So they deliberately searched for dimensions where Xander Harris, Willow Rosenberg, and so on, died… finally as babies or small children. And when they found them, they…”

“Stole the wee doomed ones? Bloody fucking hell!” Spike blinked, then blinked again. “And you’ve been raising… yourself!” His brow furrowed for a moment and he shook his head. “But, Xan… that Lex. He’s you, but not. I mean… hate to think of what would happen if he was left in charge of the world, yeah? Or as much of it as you are, anyway…”

The brunette sighed, nodding slowly. “I know. Like I said, it’s my fault. I…” He sighed again, looking disgusted with himself. “I hated my father, Spike.”

The vampire snorted and pulled the bloke closer, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “Can’t blame you for that, mate. Your bloody Dad was a right tosser. Never should have been allowed to have a kid, much less raise one.”

“But see, that’s just it,” Xander frowned, biting his lip slightly. “Dad was a fucktard. He had no idea of how to treat any kid; not just his own. Hell, he used to look at Wills in ways that made me nauseous even before I knew what the looks meant. And his ideas of what it meant to be a ‘man’ were… Hell, they’re still scary.”

Spike nodded slowly, shifting enough to pull the brunette’s back against his chest, arms moving to encircle the solid, toned waist. “Imagine they would be, luv… caught him eyeing you in a wrong way a good few times, too. Managed to put him off, of course. Amazing what a flash of vamp-face can do to a human’s… interest,” he admitted, “Especially when said human realizes it’s his son who has the monster tied up… and then wonders as to the purpose of the restraints.” He smirked.

Xander blinked and considered struggling out of the strong, comfortable hold for a moment, but… if he looked at Spike’s face and saw that the vampire was serious, he figured that would squick him for the rest of his life.

“So my Dad was a shit,” he said softly, leaning back into the cool form behind him. “He was a worthless, useless, incredibly perverted—in the bad way—bastard of a man.”

“That he was, pet… He still around, by the way? Might want to pay him a visit, now that I think about it.”

A laugh emerged from Xander’s lips as he shook his head.

“Nope,” he admitted, “Died in Sunnyhole. But here’s the thing. Dad was a fucking useless waste of oxygen, right?” Xander swallowed hard when he felt the vampire nod against his shoulder. “But somehow… I ended up better than Lex. So what does that say about me, Spike? How did I manage to raise… me… to be so…” he sighed. “How did I not know myself better? How could I let him get so… fuck. Bratty?”

Spike held the bloke, hands rubbing soothingly up and down the warm, hard chest as he considered the question, because ultimately, it was all one question; not however many his bloke had split it into.

He considered the human he remembered Xander’s father being… considered how he would have treated a Childe, had he ever felt the urge to make one—the minions he’d created under the First’s control not counting, of course.

He thought about his own experiences when first turned—Drusilla being by turns indifferent and demanding while Angelus and Darla did their best to break him and remake him in whatever image they’d chosen for that day.

And he thought again, remembering his early life, about Mother and how he—William—would have treated any human children he might have had… assuming he’d ever had the nerve to marry a woman and actually have sex with her.

“Overcompensated, pet,” he finally answered after a good five minutes. “Didn’t want to see yourself growing up treated like scum, yeah? Figured it couldn’t hurt to give the new you all the freedoms and privileges you never had. Backfired a good bit, granted, but it was a good thought, Xander. And… Lex is what? Eighteen? Thereabouts?”

Xander nodded, enjoying the cool fingers sliding over his chest under his shirt. “Mmmm… almost. A few more weeks and he will be…”

“Right, then,” Spike purred, one hand sliding lower to dance fingertips teasingly over the front of his bloke’s pants, “Leave him to me, pet. Might be able to cure him of some of that ‘I deserve whatever I want’ thing he’s got going.”

The brunette took a hitched breath, hips rising just a bit into the soft touches. “Unnnngh… fuck, Spike. Are you trying to drive me crazy?”

“Maybe… just a little, Xan. Because I deserve whatever I want, too… and right now, what I want is you, a bed, and about a gallon of lube. Got a problem with that, luv?”

And Spike supposed that being dragged up from the couch and through the hotel until they reached one set of double doors on the floor third from the top, then pulled inside and pressed hard against the wall while heated red lips met his own and devoured them was answer enough to that question.

Part Eleven

He would have complained about his brand new clothes being ripped from his body if he’d been paying that much attention. But he wasn’t.

Instead, he was focused on the hot, full lips that belonged to the tongue that was even then tangling with his own.

Of course, whatever had happened to his clothing, Xander’s had suffered a similar fate, and there were worse sacrifices, after all.

“Bloody hell,” he growled, straining against the wall as those lips pulled away from his mouth and slid teasingly over his skin, “Thought you wanted to be…” he groaned, losing the words when he felt teeth on one tight nipple.

“You did say you wanted to know what I could do with my… shaft, Spike,” Xander reminded the blond in a murmur, the words flowing softly around the tiny, tense nub of flesh between his teeth. “Changed your mind…?”

“Bloody…” Spike groaned, his spine arching to press his body closer to the brunette’s. “No… just need to adjust my thinking all sudden-like…” Not that that would be hard, he admitted silently.

“Good,” Xander rumbled, hand finding one tight thigh and pulling it up to his waist. “Adjust away… baby…”

‘He called us ‘baby’,’ the soul gasped to the demon, giving every impression of blinking madly although it had no actual eyes.

‘He wants to fuck us,’ the demon grumbled back. ‘Of course he called us ‘baby’. What the fuck else would Xander call us?’

‘He could have called us ‘whore’,’ the soul nearly whispered; ‘He knows what we’ve… done.’

‘You mean who, don’t you?’ the demon snarked back. ‘Now shut up and just… enjoy this, you fucking pussy.’

Spike groaned, ignoring the internal dialogue as he rocked roughly against the brunette man, his leg around the bloke’s waist leaving him open to the sensation of Xander’s long, thick cock brushing his own, then rubbing back and forth between his legs. “B-bloody fuck…” he stuttered.

“If that’s what you want, baby,” Xander murmured into the blond’s ear, “I can make this a really bloody fuck. Break you open all dry and tight… fuck you so hard your throat bleeds when I slam into your ass. Up to you, Spike. I’m demon enough to give you whatever you need.” He sighed then, pulling back just a bit to meet the wide gold-on-blue gaze the vampire was giving him.

“But I’d rather not,” Xander admitted slowly, “Not this first time. I spent my formative years as a human, after all, and ummmph….”

The blond growled low and rough against the soft, hot lips he’d just dragged against his own. His tongue stabbed deep and when he finally heard his boy whimper, he pulled back.

“Love how big you are, Xander… want that sodding monster splitting me open, yeah? But had enough of the hard and dry back when Sire was ‘training’ me, didn’t I?” His hands slid down, grasping tightly at the man’s buttocks and he arched against the hot flesh, groaning softly. “But I want you, pet… want you like you were still human, I do.”

And that alone was one more reason to be glad he’d agreed to Spike’s ‘friends who fuck’ scenario. It had been so long since anyone had wanted… kindness from him. The sort of kindness Spike had shown when he’d taken the rent-boy he’d thought Xander was.

“I…” Xander blushed and forced himself to step back from the so-tempting body he’d been holding between him and the wall, “Bed, Spike. You. Me. Bed… need you there if I’m gonna treat you right. It’s been… too long since I’ve touched anyone that really mattered to me…”

The vampire chuckled and let the bloke get a good three steps ahead of him, then growled and pounced, pushing the boy against the back of the couch.

“Stay,” he ordered, a wicked gleam in his eyes as he sank to his knees and gave Xander’s cock a very close look. “Bloody lovely, that looks… didn’t get enough of a taste before, and seeing as you sucked me so good, Xan, I figure you owe me the chance to do the same…”

Oh, fuck… and if Spike had phrased it any other way, Xander would have pulled the vamp to his feet and dragged him off to bed, but as it was…

‘You’re not an idiot,’ Alex chuckled, finally speaking again after quite a silent spell. ‘Let him suck you off. Come down his throat, Xander… you’re ‘friends who fuck’, after all. What’s a little come between friends? Besides. You already know what he tastes like…’

‘Stop distracting me, damn it! I want to feel this!’

Xander’s fingers tangled almost unwillingly in short, white hair, his body already moving forward and back, forward and back, his cock sliding just a bit deeper each time.

“Spike,” he groaned, knowing that looking down at the blond and seeing those pale pink lips stretched around him would be his undoing but unable to help it, “Spike… please.” He moaned, then used his ‘Magus Prime’ voice. “Stop!”

And when had Xander acquired ‘Master Voice’, Spike wondered, looking up into the brown eyes, unaware of the disappointment in his own at not getting to feel-taste-know the brunette’s flavour fully. “I… yeah, fine,” he said snarkily. “Whatever you say, Magus Prime. Want me to parade for the Judges now? Prove that I’m ‘best in show’? Or would you rather I just lay down at your feet and show you my belly?” He growled.

The brunette sighed, shaking his head. “I… that’s not what I meant, Spike. I just… shit!” He shook his head again, angry at himself suddenly. “I’m a fucking moron, okay? I wanted… Fuck. I’m not gonna last if you… do that. It’s fucking embarrassing.”

The vampire snorted and rolled his eyes. “Is that all, pet? Afraid you’ll give a poor showing?” His eyes narrowed, staring up into wide, hot eyes. “Seem to recall spilling down your throat in minutes. Took the edge off, yeah? Let me last a good long while when I opened that tight, hot ass of yours, mate. Besides,” he added a little sheepishly, “want to taste you, don’t I?”

“I’m gonna just stand here and pretend I’m not a huge idiot, okay?” Xander muttered, blushing brightly. “I guess I… fuck, I just want you so bad, Spike.”

“Can’t blame you for that, Xan,” the blond smirked, “but we’ve got all night, yeah? Unless there’s something you’re not telling me…”

Brown eyes rolled as Xander laughed. “Yes, Spike,” he deadpanned, “at midnight, I turn into a woman.”

“Right, then,” the vampire answered, equally straight-faced, “Best get on with the sucking and shagging, then.” He was fairly sure the bloke was kidding about becoming a chit at midnight, but even if he wasn’t, Spike could work with it.

“Gods,” Xander moaned as that cool, wet mouth closed over him again, “You really are best in show…”

Bloody hell, he could feel the bloke’s heartbeat in the thick vein on his tongue; feel it going faster each time he slid his lips to the base and swallowed around the spongy, seeping head, and if this was what Xander thought of as not lasting, then Spike was beginning to fear for his ass.

Then again, there were worse things… like not being where he was, he figured.

He growled softly, low and deep in his throat, and smirked around the heated flesh when the vibration earned him a loud gasp and fingers digging roughly into his hair.

‘Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck… so good…’

Alex snorted silently. ‘You’re lucky you didn’t put him off, ordering him around like that, Xander.’

‘Fuck… so fucking…’ Xander groaned wildly, hips thrusting shallowly into and out out the perfect suction. ‘Gonna… shit, he knows I’m gonna… ungggh… so fucking good…’

‘He wants you to, moron. So come. Let him drink you down, Xander. Then drag him to bed and fuck him just like you’ve been imagining for the last… what? Four hours?’

‘Shit… won’t last then, either…’

‘With your recovery time, you don’t need to. Besides, he’ll probably be flattered. Now shut up and get your mind in the game, pal!’ Alex grunted softly. ‘Fuck… he’s amazing with his mouth… can’t wait to feel you inside him…’

‘Unnngh… don’t… Gods, Alex, you were quiet for hours. Do that again.’

“S-spike!” Xander moaned, pushing the voice away, “F-fuck! Please, baby, please… h-harder… s-suck harder…”

And he could do that, Spike told himself with a purely mental grin. Hell, he could suck the boy’s brain out through his cock if he tried. He was just so used to thinking of Xander as human that he hadn’t used his full strength. Of course, since the bloke was begging and all…

His hands released the brunette’s hips, sliding behind him to grip roughly at his buttocks as he pulled the man closer, deeper, growling again before pulling back, his cheeks hollow with the degree of suction he called into play, and that was apparently just what the once-human had needed because those hips were jerking suddenly with no discernable rhythm and Xander’s fingers were coming close to snatching him bald, and the sounds… Oh, the sounds his pet was making were enough to have Spike’s cock throbbing roughly… more roughly.

One more quick, hard slide to the coarse curls; one more unneeded exhalation into them; one more reversal, tongue pressed hard against the pulsing vein, and…

“G-gods! Spike! Y-yessssssss…” Xander howled, shaking roughly as his sac drew higher still, becoming painfully hard before pulsing and releasing harsh, nearly violent spurts through his shaft and into the welcoming, wanton coolness of his vampire’s mouth and throat.

If he’d needed to breathe, he would have been shit out of luck. Fortunately, he didn’t need to because there was no way he would have been willing to pass up this experience, this… intimacy. His bloke exploding deep in his throat, those thick, hot fingers pressed hard to his skull; the solid, toned body arching against him… his own fingers buried deep in the muscular cheeks of Xander’s ass.

Yeah, this was just about perfect and would only get better, Spike figured.

He purred softly, tongue laving lightly over the spongy head, dipping into the tiny slit to gather the last few sporadic dribbles of rich spunk as Xander panted above him.

Finally he pulled away, letting the slightly softened shaft slip from his lips and he found himself chuckling as he gazed up and met heavy-lidded eyes. “So, pet. Was it good for you, too?”

“Oh… fuck,” Xander groaned, somehow forcing his fingers to release now-crimped blond locks and find slender but strong shoulders. “Get up here and kiss me, Spike. I… shit, I love your mouth…”

He followed the almost gentle tugging at his arms and rose from his knees, pressing himself close to the so-warm body before him. His own hands rubbed small circles on the undoubtedly bruised ass cheeks as he tilted his head up a bare inch or so, lips finding his bloke’s in a languid but still yearning kiss.

Brown eyes closed again as tongues met and tangled, full lips stretching as he and Spike tried to crawl inside each other from the mouth down, it seemed. He felt the blond’s seeping shaft against his skin, felt the slick smears painting him and moaned deeply. “Gods, baby. So good for me… so good to me, I…”

And again, Spike smirked, rocking his hips lightly against the tanned form in his arms. “Bed, luv? Or did you want to just bend me over the back of the couch instead?”

‘He is so taunting you, Xander,’ Alex murmured, his ‘voice’ sounding as breathless as Xander felt.

‘No shit, Sherlock. Now shut the fuck up and stop reminding me you’re there!’ Xander replied irritably, Spike’s words creating the most wonderful visions in his head.

“Urrrgh…” he mumbled, his hands sliding down the blond’s spine to cup his toned ass, pulling him closer while his own shaft responded to the heavy, hard one pressed against it, “I don’t think my legs would hold me up that long, baby… I think you sucked all the strength out of them.”

The vampire grinned wickedly and leaned in for another kiss, moaning softly as his bid was met, matched and exceeded. Bloody hell, the bloke could kiss! And somehow… Spike got the feeling that Xander didn’t get the chance to do it very often. Or not like this, anyway.

‘We will have to work on that, then,’ his soul murmured. ‘It wouldn’t be right or proper to deny him the chance to use such skill.’

The demon snorted. ‘Fine. As long as there’s sex involved, too.’

“Bed, pet… now, yeah?” Spike whispered against the hot, full lips. “Can’t have you falling over while you’re shagging me, right? Might put a stop to things at exactly the wrong moment.”

Xander found himself laughing then. “Any time we have to stop is the wrong moment, Spike… but you’re right. Bed. Us. Lube.” He smirked into surprised blue eyes then pushed the vampire away before grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the bedroom. “Gonna do you so good, Spike,” he muttered wickedly. “Fuck, baby, I’m gonna bury myself so deep in you… come so hard… so many, many times…”

And his cock was leaking even more, the earlier dribbles of nearly clear fluid becoming a steady stream that dripped down the hard flesh to the crease of his thigh and from there down lightly haired skin to his knee. “Bloody fucking hell, Xan. Prove it! Show me!”

“Oh, don’t worry, Spike… I’m gonna show you. I’m gonna show you so much and so many times that you’ll be walking bowlegged for days… even with vampire healing.”

Part Twelve

Silk sheets.

Xander… had silk sheets.

Spike almost growled as his mind—demon and soul both—searched for reasons their bloke would have silk sheets on his bed that didn’t involve some other bloke or chit being in that bed.

‘Perhaps he merely enjoys the feel of them against his skin,’ the soul-y portion of his psyche murmured, fascinated with the notion of how the tanned body would look against the rich blue.

‘Yeah, right,’ the demon snarled possessively, ‘because Sire had them for himself, right? No, they were for that bitch Darla!’

‘Yes, but Sire was nearly a peasant,’ the soul observed smugly. ‘He didn’t know any better, did he? In fact, he would likely have dressed in homespun if given his druthers…’

The demon snorted loudly enough to echo through Spike’s head. ‘Thought you weren’t supposed to lie, ponce. Sire was a land-owner’s son. Gentry. Landed Gentry.’

And the soul laughed, proud of itself for making the demon admit to its knowledge. ‘Got you, didn’t I? And if I’m a ponce, what does that make you? An evil ponce?’

‘And don’t you forget it, tosser.’

“Nice sheets,” the vampire said with a suppressed growl, the internal dialogue passing in less than a second. “Didn’t figure you for the type, mate.”

Just like that, Xander found himself stopping a mere three feet or so from the bed.

He turned and looked at Spike, one brow arching. “There’s a type, now? For sheets? Huh.” He cocked his head slightly, giving the naked vampire an appraising gaze. “See, I always figured it wasn’t the sheets themselves but what you put between them… and I was kinda hoping that would be you, baby…”

A snort. “Yeah, and you ran off and changed them during the what? Three seconds my back was turned earlier? Not likely, bloke.”

Xander blinked then laughed, giving a hard yank on the blond’s hand and catching him against his chest with a grin. “Not that it’s any of your business, buddy, but I started using them when I realized I wanted you, okay? I guess…” he blushed slightly, “I figured they were as close as I was gonna get to the way I thought your skin would feel. And by the way, Spike…? I was right. They’re close… but nowhere near as good.”

He watched while the vampire closed his eyes and took a deep unneeded breath. “I’m using them because of you, Spike,” he said again, clarifying the thought, “and I’m glad, okay? You deserve silk sheets. And I deserve to see you writhing against them when I fuck you, baby… when I spread you out, all that pale, perfect skin stretched tight…”

Spike groaned and opened his eyes, fairly sure they were more amber than blue right at that moment. “Sorry, luv,” he murmured, his free hand sliding slowly up tanned skin, fingers caressing each raised ridge of muscled rib, “tend to get a bit…”

“Possessive?” the brunette offered with a wry grin. “Kinda already knew that. Expected it, Spike. You know, what with the ‘serious enough and I don’t share well’ thing.” He nodded, his smile becoming a touch more intent as he spoke directly into the sheepish eyes. “And maybe I should tell you… I don’t share. At all. Well or badly. It… it was one thing when you thought I was a whore, okay? I could… walk away from that and tell myself that it was what it was. But now, Spike…”

The vampire growled again, louder this time. “Not looking to be shared, Xander. Had enough of that in my younger days, yeah? Not saying I love you. I don’t. Not in love with you, either. Just… I need…” his voice faltered, even as the taller man’s arm pulled him closer.

“You need to belong somewhere… and with someone. I know. And so what if it’s not a… what did you call it before?” Xander frowned then nodded. “Yeah. A ‘grand passion’. So what if it’s not one of those? It’s not like either of us has time for that anyway, right? You’ve got a whole world to learn again, and…”

“And you’ve got a good bit of that same world to run. So this… us…”

“Is serious enough that we don’t fuck around on each other—because we’re friends and we’re good together—but not so serious that we’re gonna pull an Andrew and Thomas anytime soon.”

Spike couldn’t help laughing at the idea of himself and Xander Harris of all people getting married. “Yeah… not that kind of serious, luv…”

“Good,” Xander said with a nod as he pulled his hand from the hold of the long, elegant fingers still entwined with his own. “So do you think we can get back to the fucking now? Too much talk, not enough my cock in your ass.”

“Bloody hell,” Spike groaned, arching his hips into the other man’s and gasping when his shaft rubbed against the reawakened erection Xander was sporting, “just do me one favour, pet…?”

His own moan was almost echoingly loud as his hands found the narrow but rounded and toned cheeks of Spike’s ass and Xander nodded. “Just tell me and it’s yours, baby. Swear.”

“Never… tonight or any other night… never ask me ‘who’s your Magus’ while you’re shagging me, yeah?” The vampire shuddered dramatically. “That’d be too bloody disturbing.”

Xander pretended to think about it as he pulled the willing blond to his bed. “What about when I’m not shagging you, baby?” he murmured before he pushed Spike down onto the silk sheets and cut off any reply by the simple expedient of swallowing it through open lips.

* * * * *

“Pet… pet-Xan-luv… p-pet…” Spike nearly whined, his hips arching from the mattress as a fourth finger joined the first three inside him, stretching him slowly even while the longest digit continued its teasing brushes against his prostate, “P-please… bloody f-fucking hell, Xan… n-need…” He keened loudly.

The brunette smirked. He’d already made Spike come twice, just by fingering him. He hadn’t even touched the vampire’s cock, either. No, he’d just slid his hand back and forth, in and out, fingertips nudging here and there as he spread his knuckles, stretching the blond wickedly.

Hell, the first time Spike came from it, he’d been both proud and amused. The second time, he’d purely been proud—especially since Spike was strong enough and fast enough that he could have simply pulled away and rolled them, and then…

But Spike hadn’t, and for some reason, Xander felt like… maybe his vampire needed this just as much as he needed to fuck him. And if that was true… Xander could wait. For a little while longer, anyway.

“Hush, baby,” he murmured against the so-soft skin of Spike’s inner thigh, “Gonna give you everything you need… everything you want. Gonna slide into you, wrap your legs around me… Fuck, baby, I’m gonna do just what I said and maybe more… gonna have you on bed-rest for days after. Promise, okay? Just… think you need this too, Spike. Let me, hmmmm…?”

“Y-y-yeah…” Spike heard himself whimpering while he forced himself to relax as much as he could while Xander was… somehow eliminating all the pain he’d been expecting—the pain his demon had been expecting.

The fact that the expected pain was pain that hadn’t materialized was irrelevant, he figured. Some part of him had still been waiting for it. Waiting for the gentle, probing touches to become harshly forceful and violent. Waiting for the tender words to become tearing insults. Waiting for the sudden, blood-drawing thrust into his almost unprepared hole as a dark, evil voice told him how useless he was, how he should never have been turned, how he would never be a proper vampire or even a decent fuck.

Yes, he’d been expecting pain—not to mention heartache—but he surely hadn’t found it and every time Xander stroked those hot, thick fingers into him, twisting them and somehow gently finding and caressing every tiny bit of his insides that had been hurt, torn, abused… he felt himself healing… felt himself letting go of much of the anger and betrayal and self-loathing that had been imposed by the one being who was supposed to have been his…

‘Doesn’t matter,’ the soul whispered. ‘Long ago. Far away. Over now. Time to move on… we may not love him but he treats us…’

‘The way we’ve always wanted to be treated,’ the demon agreed in a rare moment of unity with it’s purer half. ‘And Sire’s gone. Human! Xander… Xander can be Sire now. Take over that place in us…’

‘In our heart,’ the soul finished, ‘and without loving us. Without having us love him.’

Spike moaned, barely hearing either of his voices as he writhed on the silk, fingers digging into it and the mattress beneath as he came again, eyes rolled back and legs spreading wider. “P-please, Xan… n-no more without… you in m-me…”

It was the fact that his vampire’s straining anus gripped just as tightly around four fingers as it had done around two that had Xander nodding in time with his shakily muttered “Uh-huh... gonna do it now, baby, gonna be in you… fuck, Spike, gonna fuck you all night and into the morning.”

His free hand groped across the sheets, finally finding the discarded tube and his fingers twisted one more time in the blond’s hole as he bit the cap off and spat it away before squeezing a long, thick trail of slick gel along his own turgid length.

Spike moaned, sure he’d be embarrassed by the needy sound of his own voice later, but that was fine. Xander… Xander had done something to him. Something that made him feel almost… clean. And he’d be damned if he’d let a little thing like a bit of private embarrassment stop him now.

“Take a few days off,” he groaned, anticipation building as his bloke pulled those wonderful fingers from him and leaned over his body. He turned his head, mouth finding the inner surface of one wrist as strong, tanned hands settled to either side of his head and he pressed a slow, wet kiss there. “Want to feel you, Xan… not sure the next ten hours is going to be enough.”

‘Thank the Gods for cock rings’, Alex thought before Xander managed to push him to the back of his mind again.

“Oh, you’re gonna feel me, baby… gonna feel me for days. Promised, didn’t I?” Xander murmured, looking down into fully amber eyes beneath a ridged brow. He moved his hips slightly, moaning when he felt the seeping tip of his cock brush against the stretched hole it wanted to live in.

“Gonna feel you, too,” he whispered, his forehead meeting the blond’s. “Gonna feel you so tight around me, Spike… feel you opening to me—for me. Gods, you’re gonna feel so good, baby. Not gonna last. Gonna come in like three seconds, and I don’t care.” He moaned, pushing at that Heaven with his hips. “Let me… Gods, Spike, can I…”

“Yesssssss,” the vampire hissed, legs rising to clasp at his bloke’s ribs as he pressed down and back, forcing just the tip of the heated, slick shaft into his already breached ring. “Xander! P-please…!”

And Magus Prime or not… ruler of a good portion of the globe or not… in that moment, he was just a man, Xander knew. Just a man who was finally—finally—getting the one thing he’d always wanted, even if he hadn’t known it a week earlier.

“G-gods… S-spike…” he stuttered, pressing deeper as he stared into those wide eyes from a mere inch away, “Y-you f-feel…” he shook his head, words lost as the knees against his ribs shifted and there were suddenly heels pressing into his spine, swiftly followed by fingers gripping his ass, pulling him closer.

“B-bloody fuck!” Spike grunted, something inside him tightening as he watched Xander’s eyes go from deep brown to star-flecked black, “Amazing, Xan… you’re so s-sodding b-b-beautiful… need… b-bloody… fuck me, Xander! P-please!”

He didn’t even hear Alex telling him once again to ‘do what the nice vampire said’. In fact, Xander barely heard the vampire at all. His cock was a good third of its length into the tightest, most perfect sheath it had ever known, and wide golden-orange eyes were spearing his own, and there were strong, slender limbs wrapped around him, urging him on, and…

His body took over, slamming his cock deep into the well-prepared hole, cock finding and marking the location of the spongy nub that created such wonderful cries and screams… his chest dropped, pressing desperately against the cooler one beneath him, his nipples rubbing roughly and enticingly against matching male nipples as his vision filled with golden-blue, bluish-gold…

He could feel himself swelling, feel his cock growing thicker, thicker… thicker still…

And when he heard the odd pinging noise, then heard the sound of something somewhere shattering, he didn’t give it a thought because he was too busy spilling himself hard and deep and rough and wild into the perfection of the grasping, rocking, wanting channel wrapped around him. “S-spike!” he heard himself shout, and that cleared up all the whys he hadn’t asked.

Heaven… he was in Heaven and there was no way he was leaving it; not when they’d made a mistake and let him in. His arms clasped harder around the hot, shuddering body above him, even as his legs flexed again, pulling the swiftly softening shaft deeper and he moaned happily as one more spurt of what felt like thick, rich, hot spunk splashed against his prostate. “Xander,” he groaned again, his own cock twitching in an effort to match that last splash although it couldn’t.

As it was, though, Spike had never felt as thoroughly shagged in his entire existence. And so what if the actual shagging had lasted only minutes? His entire body was thrumming and vibrating with it, and… he’d known hours of a thick, hard dick in his ass before. Hours that had brought only pain and torment. This was better.

“Xander,” he murmured again, blinking at the muttered ‘hmmm…’ that responded.

“Nothing, luv,” he said quickly, lips pressing lightly to his bloke’s temple. “Just… saying your name, yeah…?”

“Why’s that?” the brunette muttered, rubbing his cheek against his vampire’s pronounced jaw as he pressed a soft kiss to the earlobe before him.

Spike shrugged a little—as much as he could with the welcome weight pressing him into the mattress—then he groaned, feeling the shaft within him hardening again at his motion. “Bloody hell, pet,” he chuckled softly, changing the subject, “You’re like the bleeding energizer bunny with that thing, aren’t you?”

Xander grinned and dropped his lips to Spike’s shoulder, giving it a hard nip. “Been called worse,” he finally murmured as his hips shifted slightly, pressing closer, moving back… slowly building to full-on thrusts within the overflowing sheath of Spike… his Spike.

He'd made the blond a promise, after all, and one thing Xander Harris always prided himself on was keeping his word.

Part Thirteen


“Hey, Winnie,” Xander greeted the young woman who’d answered the hexicon, “Your older self around?”

Rowan Rosenberg laughed quietly. “Of course she is, Uncle Xan. It’s Friday, after all. Where else would she be but waiting for your call?”

“Hey, I don’t know,” the Magus said with a grin. “She could be off doing… whatever it is you witchy types do in your free time. Uh, what would that be, again?”

An amused snort. “Oh, you know, Uncle… shifting the Earth’s axis to see what difference it makes in the harmonic tones of the mystical star-spheres and such. Child’s play, really.”

Xander laughed. “Well, as long as you shift it back, I guess I can’t be too upset, right?” Hell, Rowan’s myriad joking answers to that question never ceased to amuse him. He hoped she was joking, anyway. “How go the studies, by the way? You’re up for your fourth level exams soon, right?”

The young redhead sighed. “I’m so ready, Xander. Hell, I’ve been ready for almost a year, but you know Willow. Just because I’m another version of her, she’s all worried that I’ll go power-mad on her. I mean, honestly, Uncle. It’s not like I had a Tara, right? She just…”

Xander chuckled and shook his head, even though the girl couldn’t see him. “She doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes she did, Row… and maybe she’s a little obsessive.” He chuckled more at the barely heard mutter ‘you think?’. “Besides… if she’d let you test early, the rest of the covens would have gotten in line to scream nepotism, no matter how well you did, right?”

Rowan sighed again. “I know. I know you’re right, Uncle. It’s just so frustrating! I’m strong enough—good enough—that I could really help her, but until I pass those bloody level four exams, I’m stuck twiddling my thumbs, more or less, and meanwhile, Willow’s got so much bloody work to do that she barely has time to sleep, much less eat or enjoy herself… and I didn’t just say that, alright? She’d kill me if she knew I’d told you and I rather like being alive, thanks.”

His eyes closed for a moment as Xander frowned. Rowan was another ‘mirror-twin’, just like Lex. Although not just like Lex in the ways that counted. Rowan wasn’t… petulant. Hell, she was more of an adult than Xander was, sometimes.

Willow had also raised her younger self in a manner unlike the way she had been raised, but… Sheila and Ira Rosenberg had never been bad people. They’d simply been unconcerned about their daughter while Willow had been growing up. Except for the whole trying to burn her at the stake thing, but that had been an exception to their usual disinterest, and it had been Sheila rather than both of them, but still...

No, Willow had raised Rowan with strict rules, but also with an abundance of interest and loving concern. Hell, Xander doubted his oldest and dearest friend could have loved the young redhead more if she’d given birth to her herself.

“Yeah,” he said, pulling himself from his thoughts, “I know. And I won’t say anything, but… tell me, Rowan. Are the other covens not pulling their weight? Do I need to get the Magi Council to kick some ass down there? Because they’d love to, you know. Hell, the Arch Magus is always bitching about the Council not having enough of a presence there.”

Rowan snorted again. “Oh, absolutely. Because Willow would just love to have the bloody Council mucking about on our turf.” She chuckled softly. “No, Xander. And it’s not the covens, anyway. It’s Willow. You know how she is. Very… hands-on. Possibly too much so, but that’s definitely going to change once I’ve got my fourth level certification. She may be able to intimidate the other covens into letting her handle everything, but she can’t intimidate me!”

And that was Wills all over again.

And nothing like Lex.


“Well, I’m sure about that, sweetheart. And since she’s the one who raised you, she’ll have no one to blame but herself, right?” Xander grinned, knowing the girl could hear the expression in his voice. “So what are you up to tonight, Winnie?” he added, changing the subject.

The girl laughed. “I’m so going to remember that and use it against her later, Uncle. And as for tonight… I have a date.”

“Oh? Again?” the man pried, “Same as last week, or is this a different demon entirely?” The girl did tend to play the field. Not that he blamed her.

She was young, beautiful, and smart as a whip… not to mention more than powerful enough to protect herself. Besides, how would she find the right partner if she didn’t look? Rowan was enough like Willow that she’d be more stable if she was involved in a relationship that worked for her, after all.

He could almost hear the girl blushing when she answered.

“Both, actually,” Rowan muttered, as close to silently as possible. “The guy from last week, and his twin sister…”

And suddenly Xander was laughing louder than he’d done in days.

“Well, good,” he told the girl, “Go. Have fun. And Rowan… just because Willow’s happy with one lover, that doesn’t mean you have to be. You know that, right? She… we… are products of the pre-Change world, y’know? But you’re not. You should do whatever makes you happy.”

The redhead’s sigh was relieved this time.

“Thanks, Uncle Xan… oh, and Willow’s back. She’s got a whole pot of tea, so I’m guessing you’re in for quite a chat. Love you…”

“Love you too, Row,” Xander replied, even as he heard the girl moving away.

“Xander!” Willow said quickly, “What have you been telling the girl? She just ran out of here with a shit-eating grin on her face… and why is a ‘shit-eating grin’ supposed to be a good thing? I mean, I‘d think eating… that… would make someone frown, or at least be sick, but no. ‘Shit-eating grin’ somehow means self-satisfied and proud and that’s just wrong, right?”

Yet again, Xander was laughing. “Well, it depends, I guess. Sharvith’c demons would be smiling, right?”

* * * * *

Nearly an hour later, Xander was still chuckling. “No… no, Wills. Seriously. You can not do a seeking on her dates. Not until it’s serious enough for Rowan to bring them home to meet the parents.”

“But, but… they could hurt her, Xan… and she’s so young, and I remember how it feels to be…”

“Willow,” he said sternly, wishing he could see her so he could give her ‘the look’, “She’s older than you were when you took up with Oz. And… Gods, don’t curse me or anything, but… she’s got a much better self-image, okay? Besides… you raised her right. She’ll be fine. And even if she’s not… even if she ends up with a broken heart, how can you deny her the right to take that risk? You can’t keep her locked away and only let her do things—see people—that you know will never hurt her. She’s not the type to do well with ‘safe’.” ‘And neither were you,’ he whispered silently.

‘You got that right, Xander,’ Alex commented. ‘Hell, she dated Oz knowing he was a werewolf. And fell for Tara, who was a very powerful witch. Not to mention that bitch Kennedy. Willow doesn’t do safe.’

‘I know,’ Xander muttered, ‘but try getting her to see that.’

“Speaking of risks,” Willow interjected into Xander’s inner dialogue, “what’s this I hear about you and Spike? I thought Spike was dead, but here I am, hearing rumours about you and him, and okay, not exactly rumours because I heard it from Faith, but still! Spill, mister! Or do I have to come there so you can see the resolve face?”

The man blushed, then paled slightly before responding.

“Uh… don’t get your tail in a kink, Wills. It’s… I was gonna tell you, but… and then, well…”

“Just tell me, Xander. You know I’m not gonna let this go until you do, so…”

Xander sighed, groaned, then banged his head against the desk a few times. “Fine, Willow. It happened like this…”

* * * * *

Another hour later and Willow was obviously smiling. He could hear it in her voice.

“So… if you’re done pulling way too many intimate details out of me, I think I’ll be going to… uh, sleep. It’s, uh… getting late,” Xander grumped, shifting in his chair in an effort to relieve the pressure of the tight pants on his cock. Talking about Spike had led to thinking about Spike, and he’d be damned if he was going to let that thinking go to waste.

And now the witch was laughing. “Okay, Xander. Go find your boyfriend. Oh, and tell him to call me, okay? I want to tell him how happy I am that he’s back! I… well, with everything that’s changed, I guess I’m sorry for how I treated him, y’know?”

Xander groaned. “Is that just an excuse to give him the infamous ‘shovel speech’?” he demanded, “because I told you, Wills. We’re just…”

“Just friends. With benefits. Yeah, I heard you,” the redhead interrupted. “I really do just want to talk to him, Xan. But, um… if the word ‘shovel’ ends up being mentioned, well…”

And he was laughing again. “Fine. Just don’t scare him off, okay? I…” Xander sighed. “Oh, hell. I really like him, Willow.”

“I know, Xan… I know…” she said softly. “Hell, we all knew. Except you, apparently.”

“Oh, hey,” she added, quickly changing the subject, “Is Lex gonna make his lesson tomorrow night? Because if he’s not, then Rowan and I have something we can work on here, and…”

“He’ll be there,” Xander answered with a laugh. “Spike’s decided that he wants to ride herd on my son. Should be funny, if nothing else.”

“Or scary,” Willow agreed. “You know… for Lex.”

She wouldn’t ordinarily condone letting a vampire—even a souled one—take that sort of responsibility for a child, but in this case… she figured Lex had brought it on himself.

“As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” she laughed, imagining what the boy would make of his new… Spike.

* * * * *

Gods, his new watchdog was taking his job way too seriously for Lex’s liking. Hell, he’d barely managed to go to the bathroom by himself, and when he’d finally come back out, the man had still been standing there, head tilting slightly as he pushed himself away from the wall.

“Right, then,” Spike said with an amused chuckle at the boy’s annoyance, “Took you long enough. Might want to see a doctor if that’s normal for you, yeah?”

The young man groaned and tried to ignore his new blond shadow as he strode off down the hall towards the library.

The vampire smirked, easily keeping pace with the obviously irritated brunette. “Especially if it always results in that look on your face, mate. Might need some fiber supplements or something. Hear tell they’re supposed to keep you… breathing and such sorts all… regular,” he added, continuing his earlier line of conversation in a deliberate attempt to push the boy from annoyed to angry. Best way to find out what the brat was made of, wasn’t it?

“Seriously, bloke, he went on, “Can’t be good to be all… bound up like that, right? Been told it does not-so-nice things to a bloke’s insides, yeah? Might even affect the old tackle, I’d say, and then where would you be?”

And Lex had no idea of how Xander managed to spend more than five minutes with the vampire. Gods, the blond hadn’t shut up for more than the space of a breath since he’d attached himself to him like a barnacle earlier that afternoon, and even those brief pauses were too short and lead to still more words!

I’m not…” Lex heard himself snarling, then forced himself to stop. It wouldn’t do him any good to yell at his Dad’s lover, after all, and… thank Gods, the Library! “Look, I have a lesson to get to. So just… stay out here like a good little bodyguard and I’ll be out when I’m done, okay?”

The vampire snorted but took up a position similar to the one he’d kept while waiting for the bloke a few minutes earlier. “Right, then. Have a good class or whatever.”

“Okay, that was way too easy,” Lex muttered to himself, even as he locked the Library door between him and the blond. Then again, maybe he deserved to have something be easy for a change. Of course, he didn’t really care about that right at the moment.

In fact, what he cared about was… Spike was on the other side of the door. And Lex was going out.

* * * * *

Spike looked down at the sensor he pulled from his pocket and snorted. “Yeah, the boy’s on the move. Knew that just from listening to his heartbeat, didn’t I?”

He also knew that none of the boy’s guards had managed to figure out how the brat was leaving the Citadel without being seen, but Spike had one advantage that none of them did; not even Angel.

He thought like a criminal. And since the boy went out of his way to act like one, the vampire figured they had a bit in common.

A sly smirk crossed his lips and he pressed the green button on the portable hexicon Xander’d given him a few days earlier. “Hey, pet,” he purred when he heard his bloke’s voice answer softly, “That brat of yours is moving on out. Thought you might like to know.”

He chuckled softly and shook his head in amusement at the string of expletives the news got him.

“Now, now… no need to worry, luv. Told you I’d take care of your Lex problem, didn’t I? Just forgot what you told me about that bloody charm that’s supposed to glamour me up. How do I turn it on again?”

* * * * *

Free! He was free! For a little while, anyway… for as long as it took the Guards to figure out he was gone and find him again, and maybe that would be enough.

He strode quickly through the side streets, staying away from the main roads for the moment. It was close to the time for shift-change at the Citadel, after all, and if one of the Guards reporting in managed somehow to see through his glamour, it would all be over. Still, ten blocks later, he figured it was relatively safe and he set his feet to traveling quickly towards the vampire sector and the new club he’d heard about.

Okay, granted. Vampire club and that always meant blood whores, but this club…

Well, he’d heard it was more than that. In fact, some of the kids on one of his Magetrix groups said they’d been there and it was more like a regular demon club… that the blood whores were subtle and usually kept to the back room.

So, yeah. He was going to ‘Stains’ and he was going to dance and have a few drinks, and maybe even find himself someone to…

The idea alone had him hardening in his pants and he moved faster, feet slapping the pavement as he approached the guarded entry. He shifted his glamour slightly, flashing fangs and a ridged brow to the gate guard and grinning toothily when he was waved through without even being asked for his papers, which was fortunate because his Dad’s new boyfriend-- he sneered silently—had been so annoying that Lex had forgotten to collect them from his room.

Of course, angry wasn’t the emotion he wanted to be feeling when he found the club, so he pushed the thought away, along with all memory of the blond who’d been so instrumental in trapping him the last time he’d… escaped.

* * * * *

Spike snorted as he followed the boy. ‘Bloody prat’s going to get himself killed if he isn’t careful,’ the demon whispered, disgusted by the fact that the young man hadn’t looked behind him even once since they’d caught up with him.

‘Then it is indeed fortunate that we are here, is it not? Xander would be most distressed if anything were to happen to Lex,’ the soul announced, trying very hard not to agree with its darker half.

The demon grumbled unhappily. ‘Well, something needs to happen to the git. If only to make him see what he’s doing. He’s our responsibility now. We can’t let Sire… Xander down.’

Both of his parts had valid points, Spike figured. Lex was well on his way to winding up dead in an alley somewhere if he didn’t get his head out of his ass, and soon. And if that happened, Xander would never forgive himself. And he’d never forgive Spike, either.


Something was going to happen to the boy sooner or later. Maybe Spike should just make sure it happened that night, while he was nearby to stop it.

“Yeah… throw a scare into the pillock. Teach him a lesson and all that. Maybe bring him down a peg or two so he can be built back up the right way.”

Sure, it was mean. Manipulative, even. But even with a soul, Spike was still a demon.

He watched the brunette slow, then stop in front of what was obviously a club of some sort, then chuckled when he recognized the name over the door.

He’d read about this place on the Magetrix, and… bloody hell, the boy couldn’t have played into his hands better if he’d tried.

“This is going to be fun,” he chuckled, even as he pulled out his hexicon again and punched a few buttons for ‘information’.

Part Fourteen

‘Stains’ was everything he’d heard it was, and more.

In fact, Lex was kind of surprised by how many different demon types were there and mingling freely.

Hell, the bar had more varieties of drinks available than he’d ever truly expected to see, ranging from Tibetan Yak Bile for the DoleeLhhames to freshly squeezed leeches for the three or four kinds of demons who found that sort of thing a delicacy. Not to mention the usual liquors, and—of course—blood.

The blood-bar alone took up one whole corner, and as Lex was looking to find himself a vampire for the night, that was where he’d chosen to stand, sipping slowly at the soda he’d gotten across the main room.

“So, uh… you come here a lot? It’s my first time…” he tried, looking interestedly at a likely young-looking vamp.

Shorter than himself… slender but obviously vampire-strong… and oh, Lex had always been a sucker for blonds.

“Sorry, boy,” the vamp in question said regretfully after giving the human-looking young man a quick once-over, “I lost my taste for… warm and breathing a few centuries ago. Besides, you guys can be kind of… fragile. But if you’re ever turned, look me up, huh? I wouldn’t mind… breaking you in.”

The brunette sighed and turned away, hiding his blush by staring at the floor. That made four times he’d been shot down in the last half hour and he was starting to wonder whether there was something wrong with him. Or wrong with the way he was dressed or something, because he’d never had so much trouble getting a vampire interested before. Hell, they were usually just raring to go.

Spike watched for the other end of the blood bar, smirking as the latest of the boy’s attempts approached him. His initial plan had been to set the boy up for a little ‘adventure’, but this was turning out to be far more amusing.

“Thanks, mate,” he said with a smirk, “Appreciate it. The boy… well, don’t think he rightly knows what he’s getting himself into, yeah?”

The other blond shrugged and pocketed the money that was passed subtly into his hand. “I meant what I told him. I don’t really go for the warm ones anymore. Too high maintenance. Besides, they cry too much when you fuck them. All that whining over a little bit of blood.” He glanced over his shoulder, studying the dark-haired boy’s back for a moment, then smiled darkly. “Might have made an exception for that one, though. It’s been a long time since I broke in a virgin. I bet he’ll scream real nice for the bloodsucker who pops that round ass.” He shrugged again. “But cash comes in handy too, so thanks.”

“Nah, mate… thank you,” Spike muttered, still trying to wrap his mind around the possibility that Lex ‘no good-night fuck means no second date’ Harris could be untouched. “Hey, one thing,” he asked, curiosity getting the better of him, “Why do you say he’s a virgin?”

The older vampire sniggered and looked back at the boy one more time. “Crap opening lines. Plus, no bite marks. That young, they’re so overwhelmed by the fucking, they beg for the bite. Every. Single. Time.” He grinned. “I have Childer. I hear all about it. And since that’s the only kind of biting that’s allowed with unlicensed participants, you won’t find a single vamp who’ll say no. So, no bite—and he’s obviously got a vamp-fixation or he wouldn’t be here, much less lurking around the blood bar—well, that pretty much means that cherry of his hasn’t been plucked. Yet. Don’t imagine it’ll be long, though. You can’t buy off every vampire he runs into.”

“Right, then…” and that changed his game plan a little. For the moment, in any case.

Interesting to know the boy wasn’t as lacking in Xander’s youthful bravado as he’d thought, though.

He looked at the boy again, then nodded to himself and pushed away from the bar.

Time to let the boy know he wasn’t half as sneaky as he thought himself to be. His original plan could always be put into play another time, after all.

* * * * *

He’d finished a second soda and was seriously contemplating moving on to something less… innocent when he felt the cool body move up beside him and caught blond hair from the corner of his eye. His ready smile faded, though, when he turned to face the new vampire and saw… “Fuck. You! How did you find me?”

And oh, the boy’s disheartened sigh was music to his ears, but he didn’t let it show. Couldn’t, in fact.

No, Spike simply chuckled and took a sip of the whiskey he’d just gotten. “Didn’t have to find you, mate. Followed you, didn’t I? Amazing that none of the Guards ever figured out about the so-called secret passage in the Library, but then again, with Angel in charge, they’re probably not the brightest, yeah?”

“Huh?” Lex frowned, sure he should have been able to come up with a better response than that, but “huh?” he said again.

Blue eyes rolled as the vampire cocked his head. “What? Just because I’m looking after you, I’m supposed to keep you prisoner?” He snorted. “Don’t think so, bloke. Sounds right boring, that. Likely to drive me bug-shagging crazy in about a day.”

He watched the boy try to process that while he took another sip of his drink.

“Besides which,” he added, “Don’t see the harm in having a bit of fun, yeah? Not like you’re out robbing banks or mugging little old demon-ladies, now, is it? Seventeen year old bloke… figure the noose has to chafe a bit. Only fair to let you slip it every now and again. See what’s out there in the world. Xan… your Dad… never would have stood for being all cooped up and protected until he could barely breathe when he was your age. Why should you?”

Okay, and this Spike was entirely different from the one he’d met in Santa Monica… and the one who’d spent the entire day grating on his nerves. He didn’t know which one was the real Spike, but he kinda hoped it was this one.

Of course, he was still suspicious.

“So you’re not here to drag me back home?” he demanded, hand clenching tightly around his empty glass.

The vampire shrugged. “Don’t see why I should, mate. Know your Dad wants to protect you. He’s got good reason to worry, yeah? Somebody sees you wandering about all on your lonesome and figures out who you are? Wouldn’t be at all hard to snatch you and use you against him, right?” One strong hand rose, gripping tightly at a solid shoulder to hold the boy in place. “But.”

“But?” Lex echoed, every instinct screaming that he needed to run; that Spike really was about to make him go home. He had no illusions about whether the blond would catch him, but he could for damn sure make him fight for his victory. He was in no way staying where he was because Spike was right, he told himself. Not at all.

Full, pale lips twitched as Spike fought the urge to laugh at the young man. “But.” He nodded. “Sitting around like a great bloody lump because something might happen is sodding pointless. Might as well just off yourself, because that’s not living. So we compromise, yeah?”

And Lex was suddenly even more suspicious. “Uh-huh. Usually when someone says ‘compromise’, they mean do it their way.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not your usual someone, am I? Old enough to know what the word means. So here’s how it’s going to be, Lex.

“Not going to try to keep you home, alright? Hell, by your age, Xander was out patrolling with the Slayer, and granted, his Dad wasn’t anyone who mattered, but so what? So you can get out of that great rambling shack from time to time.”

He felt his suspicions ease a little, though not much. “Uh-huh… but there’s rules, I’ll bet. There’s always rules.”

Spike chuckled again. “Of course there’s rule, you daft git. Be bloody anarchy if there weren’t, yeah? But the rules are simple. Think you’ll be able to live with them.”

“First off, mate… it’s not every night. Got studying and such to do and you’re bloody well going to do it. That’s not negotiable. Second, when you do go out, you don’t sneak. You tell me. I’ll either go with you or pick a guard for that. Depends on what me and your Dad are up to. Third, and most important, if whoever’s with you says run, you run. They say hide, you bloody well hide. Got it?”

“And what do you get out of this, Spike?”

* * * * *

“So what did you tell him?” Xander asked later, fingers stroking slowly through mussed blond hair.

The vampire shrugged just a little, shifting his head on the broad, tanned chest. “Mostly that I’d be getting a not worried-crazy bloke to shag unconscious… and fewer interruptions in my sex life to track down one wayward boy.” He smirked at the soft groan he heard. “Oh, come on, luv… it’s not like the bloke thinks we’re knitting scarves in here. Young Lex has a pretty good idea of what we get up to; I’m sure of that much, just from the queasy look he got on his face.”

Xander wasn’t sure of whether to laugh or frown. “I’m still not sure that letting him run wild is a good idea, Spike. What if something…”

“What? Happens?” the vampire interrupted, fingers stroking over the warm ribs lightly, “Look, pet, it’s like what you said you told Red about her kid, yeah? And okay, could be asking for trouble with the brat; that’s why we won’t let him go out alone, right? Still, what else are you going to do, luv? Keep him locked up for the rest of his bloody long life… and yours?” He chuckled and bit lightly at one dark nipple. “Besides, mate, do better to hope something does happen. Could shock the git into a new sodding attitude. Betting I’d be willing to help you with that, in fact.”

And that was as close as he was going to get to telling Xander what he had planned for the boy.

The brunette sighed and shook his head, then laughed softly. “One thing’s for sure, Spike. Life is definitely gonna be more interesting with you around.”

One long, alabaster leg moved and Spike grinned down into wide brown eyes as he straddled his bloke. “Thought it already was, pet,” he murmured, his tongue creeping out to run slowly over his own lips. “In fact… think we could do with a bit more of the interest right now, yeah?”

Xander found himself groaning again as his vampire rocked on him, their reawakening shafts sliding slowly against each other. “Fuck, Spike… always interested when you do that… unnghh… harder, baby…”

As if he would say no, Spike thought with a smirk, laughing silently at the demon’s snort as well as the soul’s ‘I should say not’. “This what you want, luv? You want to come against me, feel our spunk mix on your stomach and pool in every bloody lovely dip of muscle?”

He moved a bit faster, his hands on his bloke’s chest for leverage as he leaned forward, eyes pulling away from Xander’s to look down between their bodies at their sliding, seeping cocks. “Look at us, Xan… you’re so dark, luv… darker than me, even there where the sun never reaches… love the way your cock looks, pet, all thick and shining, soft skin and hard flesh… love watching you, don’t I?”

Gods, Spike’s voice alone was almost enough. But those slender, white hips bruising from his fingers would be even better, he knew.

His hands moved quickly, grabbing on to their preferred hold and Xander arched against the mattress, the firm slip-and-slide growing slicker by the moment. “Gods, Spike… fuck… you feel so good, baby… nnnngh… want you, baby… want you so bad…”

“Can be bad for you, pet,” the blond grunted, shifting forward a bit then raising his hips, “Rather be good, though. Make you shout my name, yeah…?” His teeth closed lightly over his bottom lip as he pressed back and down, finding the thick tip of his Xan’s ready shaft with ease. “Still slick, pet… still ready for you… going to take you in, Xan, sink down on you and feel you so deep, luv, so deep…”

“Oh… yeah,” Xander growled, his grip tightening as he pulled that cool, hard body down with a sharp tug, his own exhaled cry of pleasure drowned out by the rough shout Spike released. “Fuck, Spike!”

He’d never ridden the bloke before, and while he’d expected the cock in his ass to feel bigger, he hadn’t had any idea of just how much so it would seem. His mouth hung open, loud gasps flying from his lips as he tried to regain breath he didn’t need, his fingers curling into hard pecs as he throbbed and twitched in the most pleasurable way imaginable. “Bloody… fucking… hell…” he finally managed to say. “Xanderrrr… sodding huge, luv… bloody… Gods!”

And he suddenly remembered how it had felt when he’d ridden Spike that first time, and he hadn’t taken Spike in half as fast as he’d just dragged the blond down onto him, and… “Shit. Shit, baby, I’m sorry, I… fuck, I hurt you, I…”

“N-no,” the vampire moaned, pressing down harder on the thick flesh piercing him, “No… not h-hurting, Xan… so… fucking… good! So f-full, luv. Bloody… brilliant!”

His hands flexed slightly on Spike’s hips and Xander’s eyes raked over his vampire’s face, relaxing just a little when he saw a good bit more pleasure than pain there. “Gods… if you could feel what I do right now, Spike…”

“L-later, luv,” the blond moaned, swallowing hard and starting a slow, rhythmic shift. “I’ll feel it n-next time. Busy f-feeling you inside me right n-now…”

“Feel so good, baby… Gods, so… fuck, Spike… love your ass…”

“Good… love your cock tucked up in me all n-nice and th-thick…” he answered with the last of his breath before getting down to it, his body moving faster, harder, sliding back and forth, back and forth between his hands on his bloke’s chest and his bloke’s long shaft moving in and out, in and out, rubbing repeatedly over that spot inside him that made him shiver.

‘Not gonna last, not gonna last… gonna have to stop, gonna come, don’t want to stop, not gonna stop…’ ran through Xander’s mind, and he had no idea of whether it was his own voice or the Alex voice, but he didn’t care because he agreed with it, thought it was possibly the smartest voice ever, and when he felt Spike’s tight little hole clench harder around him, saw Spike’s pale body arch and bow above him, he shouted loud and long, spilling deeply into the coolness that was rapidly warming from his own hot seed and he wasn’t stopping, couldn’t stop, wouldn’t stop…

“B-bloody…!” Spike howled, coming roughly in harsh spurts that splattered first Xander’s stomach, then his own as he found himself on his back, the softening shaft becoming hard again as his bloke pounded into him relentlessly, dark eyes gone silver-flecked black as grunting moans spilled from full red lips, hot breath gusting across his chin, his neck… and when he saw the small black horns split the tanned forehead above him, scattered drops of thick, red blood raining down gently, he found himself coming again, then again as sharp talons sprung from blunt fingertips and pricked his skin, and “Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t you fucking stop, luv! More, pet, more… more now, more…”

Oh, yeah, he was demon enough to give his vamp whatever he wanted. He was just glad the blond hadn’t freaked when he lost control because there was no going back now. Not yet. Not until the lustblaze burned itself out. “Not sssstoping, Sssspike,” he hissed, forked tongue making the words hard, but that wouldn’t keep him from saying what he had to. “Can’t sssstop… sssso good, baby… ssssstay here all day… make you sssscream…” His body moved faster, harder, a grunted howl springing from him with each long, deep thrust into the amazing sheath of his vampire, and when he heard the gasping, shuddering cries spilling from those pale lips, he moved faster still; harder still.

His fifth orgasm was actually painful, but it was the good kind of pain and Spike figured that was a good thing because his bloke, whatever he’d turned into, wasn’t showing any signs of stopping, though he had slowed just a bit. He could feel Xander’s come leaking from his ass every time the bloke moved, but that was fine; that was good, in fact, because he had a sneaking suspicion that the lube from earlier was long gone.

“Th-that’s it, p-pet,” he moaned low and deep when the bloke inside him moved just a touch higher, twisting his hips as he slammed in again, “Y-yeah, luv… j-just l-like th-that… b-bloody fucking… hell…!” He was hard again, amazing as that was even to him, but then again, maybe it had something to do with whatever kind of demon his bloke had become, and that would explain it, after all… and then his Xan was buried deep, hips not pistoning anymore but pressing his shaft hard into him and moving in small, tight circles, and… “L-l-luv!” he yelled as he came again, his eyes closing as darkness settled over him without even a warning.

And Spike’s ass was just as good when the vampire was passed out, Xander realized. Not that he had long to notice because it was mere seconds after that final, minimal spurt and shout that Xander found his own spine arching close to double, his claws digging deep into sheets as he shuddered, shook, howled roughly and finally, finally emptied himself into his vampire’s now-hot bowels. “Oh… my… Godsssss…” he moaned deeply, then collapsed atop the slightly smaller form, still locked with his body as he fell into peaceful black.

Part Fifteen

“And what. The bloody. Fuck. Was that?” Spike demanded, curiosity and a strange, almost breathless need to know right there in his voice, along with a good bit of betrayal. He’d only been awake for a matter of moments, but it was long enough that he’d managed to replay the entirety of what had happened more than once in his mind.

Xander groaned, his head throbbing where the horns had been, although he was just as glad they’d receded again. His head pounded even more as his vampire’s voice pulled him back to full wakefulness to find himself still pinning the blond, still piercing his stretched hole completely.

He pulled his fingers from the thick punctures they’d made in the mattress, thanking the Magic that he hadn’t still been gripping pale, toned flesh when he’d come. Bad enough that he’d probably put the vampire off of him completely. No need to add injury to insult, and… he’d never enjoyed hurting his partners, no matter what his various demon aspects wanted.

“Shit,” he muttered, afraid to move; afraid that pulling himself from Spike’s anus and rolling off of his long, lean frame would prove his fears right when the blond ran.

“Xander,” Spike added sternly, almost desperately, “Need to know what that was, mate. Now.”

And maybe Spike wouldn’t run. After all, the other man hadn’t asked him to…

“And get your great bloody lumbering self off of me, bloke! Feeling flat as a sodding pancake, aren’t I?”

“I… shit,” Xander said again, forcing himself to move, though it went against every instinct he had—every demonic instinct, because his human parts were railing against restraining the vampire against his will. “I… yeah. O-okay, Spike, just… let me explain.”

‘Stop it, Xander. He’s not yelling at you or cursing you, is he? Maybe he can handle it.’

‘Oh, right. Because it’s always gone so well before. Hell, I had to twist Thomas’s memories, Alex! And he’s still not comfortable alone with me!’

‘Thomas is young, Xander. Spike… Spike is your friend and he’s a Master, right? So he’s seen things that would probably make Thomas go to ground. But either way, give him a chance!’

Spike found himself laughing almost bitterly as the brunette finally moved, placing himself on the bed beside him. “You say that a bloody lot, don’t you? ‘Let me explain’, ‘I need to tell you some things’. Might be easier if you just told me everything, yeah? Save those phrases for things you didn’t know about ahead of time.” And that was what was really bothering him, Spike knew.

It wasn’t that the bloke had gone all… demon-y or whatever on him. Wasn’t even that he’d shagged him bloody well unconscious with a good bit of pain, because he hadn’t minded that at all.

No, what was ultimately bothering the vampire was that… Xander had apparently known what would happen but hadn’t thought enough of him to say anything. To warn him or even just give him a heads-up.

Would it have been so hard to say ‘oh, by the way, Spike, I might grow horns and claws when we fuck; might pound into you like a bloody mindless behemoth; hope you don’t mind’? Well, apparently so. Either that or the bloke really didn’t give a rat’s quivering ass about how he’d react, and that was probably closer to the truth than the vampire would like it to be.

“Please… don’t leave,” Xander said, trying not to beg, but well aware of the fact that he would if he had to. “I… shit, Spike. I didn’t think… I mean, that wasn’t… fuck,” he sighed, raking his fingers through his hair as he bit his lip and looked at the wall across the room. “What… what do you want me to say?”

‘Don’t leave’? Like he was some… what? Delicate bloody chit or something? Bloody hell. And his bloke wasn’t even looking at him, and that seemed to mean… something; he wasn’t sure what.

“ ‘What do I want you to say’,” Spike repeated, his voice soft and flat, suddenly.

“Want you to say you didn’t know something like that could happen, but that’s a lost hope, isn’t it?” he continued in that same emotionless tone as he pulled his eyes from the somewhat larger man and rolled away from him. “Want you to tell me that you forgot, or didn’t think it would matter. But we both know better than that, don’t we, Xander?”

The vampire frowned, not even able to work up a growl, which he knew he’d have been able to manage if he hadn’t felt so… lost.

He staggered from the bed, legs shaking slightly as his well-used anus complained violently against the motion.

“No,” he added, finding his pants and gingery stepping into them, “you didn’t do either of those things, pet. You chose not to tell me. Figured I didn’t need to know, most like.” He snarled softly as muscles complained about being twisted and shifted enough to get his t-shirt on.

He turned, facing the bed, though not truly looking at his lover.

“Had enough of being convenient, mate. Done with it. You want a bloke you can hide things from? Fine. But I’m not him.” His eyes pulled from the wall above the bed and he pushed his feet quickly into his boots.

“Serious obviously means something different to you than it does to me. Because not telling me about something like what just happened here…?” Spike snorted. “Seriously stupid, yeah. But ‘serious’ as far as you and me? No.”

* * * * *

Stop him!’ Alex shouted, his voice so loud in Xander’s head that it almost drowned out Spike’s words. ‘You can’t let him just…’

“Please!” Xander cried loudly, not sure of how his vamp had managed to get up, get dressed, and get so damned closed to leaving in the few seconds he’d been distracted. “Please, Spike! Wait!”

Spike paused in the doorway, ignoring both demon and soul. “Why?” he demanded. “Why should I, Xander?”

Full red lips opened and closed soundlessly for a moment or three, and it was only the sight of that compact yet muscular body stepping even farther away that pulled the words from him.

“I… I need you, Spike!” Xander heard himself saying, but it was entirely true so he didn’t try to rephrase it.

“I need you,” he repeated more softly. “I should have told you. I just… Hell, Spike, I didn’t expect anything like… that to happen. Not yet, and not with you! It’s only ever happened before with…” and the stiffening of his vampire’s barely relaxing spine told him he’d screwed up again.

And that explained a lot, Spike figured.

He wasn’t important enough— special enough—to be talked to; to be told. And he for damned sure wasn’t so important that whatever had happened was something Xander saw as a good thing. It was right there in his bloke’s own words. ‘Not with you’, he’d said.

“Spike… baby! Please! Don’t… don’t go…” the brunette whispered the last, knowing his vamp could hear him. “I… we’re supposed to be friends, right? And friends don’t just… leave… because of a misunderstanding!”

That was more than enough for Spike.

He turned back, spearing the brown, wounded and guilty eyes with his own stoic blue.

“No misunderstanding here, Xander. We’re friends. Have to be, don’t we?” he demanded, hiding his hurt behind coldness. “Promised I’d deal with your Lex, and I will. Means I’ll be around and means we’ll talk.” He nodded.

“As for the rest,” he finished, a part of him that was neither demon nor soul crying, “figure we’re done. Don’t care enough to tell me the truth? Fine. But I care more for myself than to be your bloody bitch. Your bloody ignorant bitch.”

Xander’s eyes dropped to the footboard of the bed. “I…” his eyes rose, finding an empty doorway.

“Shit!” he yelled, rolling over and beating the merry hell out of his mattress, not stopping until flocked cotton and goose feathers filled the air.

“What do I do now?” he whispered, laying back on the destroyed bed as the last few feathers floated down.

‘Court him,’ Alex advised. ‘You know where he is. He has nowhere else to go. So court him, Xander. If you don’t, I’ll spend every waking moment replaying the way he makes you feel... the things he does to you.’

‘Oh, that’s a really good threat,’ Xander answered with less than his usual vigor, ‘because I won’t already be doing that myself, right?’

‘So get your head out of your ass, Xander… and at least send him an ether-mail over the magetrix.’

‘Fine,’ Xander sighed, pulling Spike’s pillow to him, ‘I’ll send him an e-mail. It’s not like he’ll bother to respond, anyway… and why should he?’

Xander sighed again at the silence his question was answered with.

* * * * *

A small, dark cloud settled over the Hyperion Hotel, situated directly above the Magus Prime’s suite, although nobody who noticed the cloud was in a position to know which room it hovered above.

* * * * *

“What the hell did you do?” Lex demanded, slamming into his older-self’s office a few days later. “What did you do to Spike, damn it?”

Xander found himself blinking, even as he frowned and held up one hand before speaking into the hexicon on his desk. “I’m sorry, Arch Mage… something’s come up. I’ll have to get back to you later.”

Lex blushed, even as he heard the Arch Mage’s voice agree, the demon’s voice sounding very reproachful towards him.

The warding hand dropped as the call was ended, and Xander found himself looking hard at his ‘son’. “Okay. Care to tell me what’s up your ass today, Lex? You know better than to just…” the same hand gestured vaguely.

“You… asshole!” the younger brunette snarled. “You did… something! I know it! And now he’s all… Gah! He won’t leave me alone for even a minute, and I want to know why!”

Somehow it seemed wrong to be defending himself to… himself. Then again, it was like he’d told Spike in the beginning. Lex might be him, physically, but… he wasn’t really. Not in the ways that counted.

“He’s doing his job,” Xander finally said, dodging the real question. “Making sure you do what you’re supposed to. That’s what he’s here for, Lex. I don’t know why you’re surprised that he’s doing what he said he would.”

Hands clenched into fists at his sides and Lex glared hotly, his eyes brightening to a red-tinged silver. “Don’t lie to me, Xander! I may not be all… Magus Prime-y, but I know when you’re lying! I can taste it! You… you fucked up, didn’t you? That’s why he’s all over me and why he doesn’t stay here anymore! Hell, he changes the subject whenever your name even comes up and you’re gonna sit there and say he’s just doing his job? Hah!”

The older man frowned, then sighed after a few moments. “Fine. We’re having… problems, okay? He’s pissed off and it’s going to take a little while to fix things.” Xander nodded slowly, looking at the top of his desk. “Look, you’re too young to understand about me and Spike. We… our relationship… is complicated.”

Lex snarled softly and slammed both his fists onto the desk, reddish eyes fastening tightly on brown. “I’m old enough to know that he’s not mad, Xander. He’s hurt! So whatever the fuck you did…”

He sighed and pushed himself back from the large mahogany surface. “I don’t know why I even care, okay? But… he’s Spike! I don’t even like him, but… you do whatever you have to do to make things right. If you don’t… well, maybe I’ll just see whether a younger version of ‘his Xan’ can make him smile again.” The younger brunette smirked. “I might not like him, but I’m guessing he’s a—pardon the pun—demon in the sack.”

Xander had no memory of standing, or of rounding his desk.

He had no idea of when, exactly, he’d lifted the boy—his younger self—from the floor and pressed him into the wall, feet dangling a good six inches above the polished wood.

He also didn’t know at what point the horns had forced their way through his skin, though he was certain they had. He could feel them, after all, as well as the trickles of blood slipping down the sides of his face.

“You… do not… touch Spike!” he growled, eyes narrowed dangerously. “You want to fuck a demon, boy, you go for it. But you… leave… MY demon… alone!”

As much as Xander had never lifted a hand to him even once in his life, and as much as a part of him was gibbering in fear, Lex found himself laughing around the hand on his throat. “F-fine, Dad,” he managed to sputter, “B-because you’re just f-friends, right?”

The boy’s laughter cut through his rage much better than any other reaction would have done and Xander found himself blinking as he set Lex slowly down, suddenly disgusted with himself. ‘Like father, like son,’ he moaned silently. ‘I’m turning into Tony Harris, Gods help us all…’

‘No, Xander… but Lex is right. That’s not how you react to the idea of someone else making a play for your friend,’ Alex answered, voice pitched to soothe. ‘You didn’t hit the boy; didn’t try to… well, you know. You just… lost your temper.’

‘Duh!’ Xander answered, guilty and furious with himself regardless, ‘and that’s even more reason to let Spike go. If I’m that possessive—so much that I’d attack my own kid—then I… can’t be with him, can I? He’s my weakness. And if the Darksiders ever found out about him…’

Alex sighed. ‘They’d find a way to use him against you. I get it.’

Lex arched a brow, well aware of what that look on his older-self’s face meant. And maybe his Dad’s inner voice would talk some sense into him. He hoped so, anyway, because Spike wasn’t the only one who’d been a pain in the ass for the last few days. “Dad?” he tried, after another minute or so, “I… look, I know it’s not any of my business, okay? But you’re both just…”

Brown-again eyes blinked and Xander raised one hand, rubbing at the tacky trails of blood on his face. “No. No, Lex, I… Gods, I’m sorry. I don’t know what… fuck! I’ll… look, I’ll never do that again, okay? I attacked you, and I never wanted to be like him, and… Shit.”

“Huh?” Lex leaned back against the wall, completely baffled by Xander’s words. “You didn’t… crap, Dad! I’ve had worse sparring, y’know? I mean, hello! You didn’t even hurt me! And I…” he gave the older man a sheepish grin as he felt his eyes shift back to a matching brown, “I possibly shouldn’t have taunted you by… implying… that I had designs on your boyfriend, okay?”

Well, that was the closest thing to an apology he’d heard from the boy in years. The shock was almost enough to keep him from growling as Lex continued.

“I mean, okay. You can’t really blame me for noticing that he’s fucking hot, right? And we already know I’m just his type because… well, I’m you, sorta. And I really don’t like him, but a lot of that’s ‘cause he treats me like a kid, and…” And that was when he noticed Xander’s eyes sliding back to black. “Uh, and I’m shutting up now, okay?”

“That’s a really good idea,” Xander forced through gritted teeth. “Just give me a couple weeks, Lex. To get used to the idea. Then… do whatever you want, okay?” He made himself turn away through sheer force of will and carefully moved back to his chair behind the desk. A few deep breaths and he managed to unclench his jaw. “Shouldn’t you be studying? It’s six o’clock. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be in ‘Applied Theories of Relative Sciences’ right now.”

* * * * *

What the fuck?

That was all Lex could think, even as he walked slowly towards Master Ch’thlo’c’s rooms on the third floor, picking up his blond shadow along the way.

His Dad had said there were problems between him and the vampire, he’d gotten all… demon-y when Lex had said he was going to go for the blond, and then… and then he’d told him to wait a while?

That didn’t sound like Dad was going to fix anything with Spike. In fact, it sounded like… Xander was letting the vampire go?

Okay, that might not be such a bad thing, except for the part where Spike was still going to be his bodyguard, apparently.

So not only was he stuck with the blond, but he was stuck with Spike being all pissy and moody… and stuck with Xander being a huge fucking pain.

“Great,” he groaned, even as he knocked on Master Ch’thlo’c’s door and stepped inside for his least favourite lesson.

Part Sixteen

Six days, Spike told himself.

Six days and nights since he and his bloke had had their row, and… nothing.

Oh, sure, Xander said hello and such when they passed in the hallways or wherever, but… somehow the vampire had expected more; especially after the way the brunette had begged him not to leave that day. He hadn’t gotten more, though.

Hell, he wondered sometimes whether the Magus Prime even remembered ever touching him.

And that was the thing that was really bothering him, Spike knew.

He’d met with the bloke a time or two; had a few talks with him about the boy. But it wasn’t Xander that talked to him, it was the Magus Prime, and…

‘Perhaps he no longer cares for us,’ the soul whispered, its voice ‘sounding’ close to shattered.

‘Why should he?’ the demon answered, clearly almost as depressed as its counterpart. ‘First-Sire doesn’t… hated us almost from the start. Why should Xander feel any different? We’re… nothing to him.’

“Stop it,” Spike muttered, pulling the newly-repaired and cleaned duster tighter around him as he made his way back to his apartment in the pre-dawn light. “Bloke doesn’t want us? Fine. Not like there’s any shortage of blokes and chits around who do. Seen the way they’re always looking, right? Xander bloody Harris is not the be all and end all.”

He nodded sharply to himself, then slowed as he reached the guard station at the gateway to the vampire sector.

He cocked his head at the unfamiliar vampire in the shadowed depths then nodded. “Guess Michaels is off tonight, yeah?”

The woman blinked, then smiled at the Master. “It’s his Deathday, Master…?”

Spike chuckled at the curious tone and dug his papers from his pocket along with the newly acquired badge proclaiming him a special Citadel Guard. “Nemoy,” he answered her question, handing her the documents then slipping them back into his pocket when she’d finished with them. “And you are?”

“B-Bentley, Mister Nemoy,” she answered, eyes wide and blue, “S-stella Bentley.” This was the vampire Michaels had written about! She’d almost thought the older guard-vampire had been making things up, but apparently not, and…

“Nice to meet you, Officer Bentley. Mind you don’t get too much sun in your booth there, yeah?”

The redhead laughed and shook her head. “Spelled glass. Plus, this,” she tapped the amulet around her neck. “Individually keyed to each guard. It’ll let us bear the sun if necessary in pursuit of our duties.” Stella frowned slightly. “Doesn’t work when we’re off-shift, but it helps. Especially when the Darksiders try to slip by us. Um, not that that happens much, sir, so don’t worry. You’re entirely safe within the sector.”

Spike grinned, arching one brow. “Well. That’s a shame. A bloke likes a bit of a knock-down, drag-out every now and again.” He looked at the sky and nodded. “And seeing as I don’t have one of those handy little baubles, I’ll be heading on my way. Good job you’re doing there, Officer. And if you could tell Michaels I wish him happy for his Deathday, it’d be appreciated, pet.”

The guard found herself blinking as the Master moved on, then shook her head in wonder. Michaels had been right. Mister Nemoy was well worth taking note of.

* * * * *

The human stayed hidden deep inside the mouth of the alley as he watched the blond stop and talk to the guard before moving deeper into the protected sector.

It had been pure luck that he’d been lurking near the Citadel that morning. Well, pure luck and the fact that he’d been put out of the strip club he’d wandered into earlier.

It still burned that the demons had told him to leave. He was human! The staff should have been happy that he’d even bothered to enter their establishment! Hell, they should have made him a guest of the house instead of actually wanting him to pay for his drinks and the three or four lap dances he’d asked for!

They hadn’t, though. In fact, they’d not only made him pay, but full price! A human! Full price! And they’d kicked him out just for getting a little rough with one of the so-called girls.

Hah. Like female demons were real girls. Besides, they liked it rough! Everyone knew that!

No, the males had just been jealous.

Jealous of his looks, his humanity, his… everything. And that last female… she’d only been crying to get a bigger tip from him. He knew that much. It wasn’t like a few bruises and a little blood bothered demons, after all.

But they’d put him out, and in the end, he figured they’d kind of done him a favor.

If he’d still been in the club, he never would have seen the so-familiar bleached blond leaving the Citadel’s side gate, and… he didn’t know how it was possible, but he was almost sure it was the real vampire; not one of the carefully crafted doubles.

And so he’d followed. Carefully and at a distance, which had been more difficult than he’d expected, considering that so many demons were nocturnal, not just vampires.

Still, he hadn’t lost the blond… or not until he’d disappeared into the vampire sector.

It could have been worse, he told himself, stepping from the alley and moving off in the opposite direction. They had agents in the sector, after all. Not many, granted, but some.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find out where the vampire was hiding out, and once they did… well, if it really was who he thought it was, then maybe he’d done what none of the others had managed in all this time. Maybe he’d found a way into the Citadel.

* * * * *


The brunette ignored the voice, focusing more tightly on the heavy bag he was engaged in killing.

‘Xander,’ the voice said again, insistently.

Clawed fingers slashed roughly at puncture-resistant fabric, and still he ignored the voice.

‘Xander! Jesus fuck, stop it!’ Alex demanded. ‘You’re scaring the kids!’

He was breathing hard, fingers tense and slightly bloody where the talons had sprung through flesh. Now that he’d stopped, his legs trembled, muscles tired and cramping just a bit already from the four solid hours he’d been fighting himself, according to the clock on the wall.

“Shit,” he whispered, then forced a smile to stretch his lips as he turned to see Faith’s two eldest standing in the doorway. Alex was right, he realized. They did look kind of… frightened.

“Hey there,” he said brightly, grabbing his towel from a nearby bench and wrapping it around his hands, “you guys training today?”

The older of the two nodded slowly, her face solemn. “Uh-huh, Uncle Xan. Papa-G’s meeting us here. We get to play with bo-staffs today.”

“Oh. Well, good!” he replied quickly, giving them another grin. “But don’t forget, Chelsea. You’re older than Brian. So you be careful, okay?”

The young brunette nodded, still giving the older man a frighteningly mature look. “I’m older but he’s faster. Papa-G won’t let us get hurt, though. Daddy would be mad if he did. So would Mommy.”

“Not as mad as you just was, Unca,” Brian added, dark eyes wide in his little face, “I wants claws. When does I gets to have claws?”

And Gods, the boy had Faith’s pout down pat, even if the rest of him screamed Robin.

“I don’t know, little man,” Xander said with a chuckle, rubbing the boy’s head affectionately. “You might not, you know. You might get something even better,” he added quickly, cutting off another pout. “It depends on how the demon-genes work out, right? You could get claws… or wings, or maybe even a tail like Auntie Willow.”

“Or horns, Bri,” Chelsea said, “You like horns. You might get them. Daddy Robin has horns.”

“Yes,” came the voice from behind the children, “But this is sparring practice, not genetics theory. Let’s focus on the lesson at hand, shall we, children? Now go get changed. Five minutes!”

Xander laughed softly at the shouted ‘yes, Papa-G’-s that trailed the kids into the changing rooms.

“Hey, Giles,” he greeted the older man, laughing at the pink shirt the slightly green-ish and lightly scaled man wore. “Faith been doing the laundry again?”

Light eyes closed for a scant moment, obviously in an effort to keep them from rolling. “She does insist upon doing her part, Xander, and I haven’t the heart to stop her. Not even when she doesn’t do it terribly well.”

The brunette nodded, still smiling a bit. “Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s like when Sp…” he cut himself off and looked away from too-knowing eyes. “She never gets any better at it, does she?” he finally finished.

Giles sighed, wishing he still wore glasses. Polishing them would have given him something to do other than look at the obvious unhappiness on his young friend’s face.

“No. No, she doesn’t. But then, it’s a small price to pay, isn’t it? It makes her happy to feel like she’s contributing to the family, and if that means I must sometimes appear in things which are… oddly coloured, then so be it. I love her, you see, and anything that makes her smile is worthwhile.”

“What if…” Xander stopped and swallowed hard, then draped his towel over his shoulder, fingers twisting in its edge. “What if being with her put you in danger? Like… someone might try to use you against her? Would you… would you still be with her? I mean… wouldn’t you want her to let you go?”

“What? Push me away?” Giles blinked, then his eyes widened as some of the things Lex had recently said suddenly formed a whole picture when combined with Xander’s current words.

He thought for a few moments, well aware of the fact that the children would be returning soon for their lesson.

“I believe it is safe to say,” the older man finally spoke, “That I am always at risk. I am bound, as it were, to a Slayer, to your Captain, and to a Slayer’s son. As such, I most likely have more enemies than I’ll ever be aware of. As do the children, Xander.”

He waited while the young man processed that, going on when Xander finally nodded.

“It is… fortunate, I believe, that my spouses understand that I am just as capable of protecting myself and them as they are. In fact, I would likely be greatly offended—perhaps heartbroken, even—if any of them were to… push me aside, be it for my own good or not.”

He placed one hand companionably on Xander’s shoulder, giving it a small squeeze. “I knew precisely what I was getting into when I accepted my family into my heart, child. But I love them, as they love me. Would I be better off without them? Absolutely not. I would possibly be safer, although that is in no way certain, considering my connections to you and Willow, but I would not be better off. I would be… miserable.”

Xander sighed and looked away. “Because you love them. But what if you didn’t? What if they were just… friends? Uh, friends you were… were really close to?”

Giles snorted softly and gave the brunette’s shoulder one more squeeze. “Dear boy… it’s not my place to tell you what you should do, but… if we are in fact talking about who and what I think we are, then you are a fool. Nobody walks about moping as much as you two do if there are only friendly feelings at risk.” He sighed. “I can’t say that what you two have is love. Honestly, I can’t imagine anybody choosing to love Spike. He’s entirely too… frenetic. However, I am not you and it may well be that he suits you. Still, whether it’s love or not? I have no idea.”

“So what do I do, Giles? I’m… Gods, I can’t stand the idea of him being in danger because of me, but… I hate seeing him, wanting him… and not being able to…” Xander shook his head and blushed slightly. “I so can’t believe I’m even talking to you about this.”

The former Watcher chuckled and cocked his head a bit. “Who better, dear boy? You’ve come to me more times than I can count over the years. What’s one more? Still, as for what you should do… I believe that there are only two choices here, since you obviously can not continue on as you have been.”

Xander sighed again. “Okay… so what are they, because I’m so fucking confused right now, I can’t…”

“It’s very simple, Xander. You can either talk to him and try to resolve whatever issues you two have… or you can send him away—make him leave. Completely. Perhaps to Willow; I’m sure she’d be pleased to see him.” He smiled slightly at the barely-heard growl that suggestion earned him.

“You are the Magus Prime, child. You can’t afford to be this… divided. You have far too many responsibilities to allow yourself to remain so distracted and… emotionally distraught. And here are the children!” he finished, releasing the boy he’d considered one of his own for years.

“Yeah,” Xander nearly whispered, “I… I’ll think about it, Giles. And… thanks.” He plastered another smile on his face and looked at Chelsea and Brian. “Have a good lesson, kids. And remember, if you bleed on the mats, you clean it up!”

“Papa-G?” the young girl said quietly, once the Magus Prime had left them, “Is Uncle Xan gonna be okay?”

Giles stared a moment longer at the swinging door, then looked down into her wide, hopeful eyes. “I hope so, dearest… I certainly hope so.”

* * * * *

Xander leaned back in his chair and sipped slowly from the very full glass of whiskey in his hand.

Giles was right. He knew Giles was right. But his choice was no choice at all.

There was no chance that he would send Spike anywhere. He had no right to do it, in the first place, and that was entirely aside from the fact that knowing the vampire was gone would drive him even more around the bend than he already was.


Spike had to stay. There was no question about that.

But how to… fix things now, after he’d basically acted like an enormous fucking jerk? And would Spike even care that he was sorry? Was it too late?

‘If it is, it’s your own fault, genius,’ Alex piped up, voice angry in his head. ‘You had a good thing going and you just had to fuck it up, didn’t you? And then you treated him like he meant nothing to you! I told you to e-mail him; I told you to court him! But did you? Of course not! So I’m thinking it’d serve you right if he told you to fuck off and leave him alone.’

‘I know… I know, Alex. I don’t even have an excuse, okay? And I really don’t have a good one. So how about you try helping, here, instead of playing another round of ‘kick the moron’, okay?’

‘Fine,’ Alex grumbled, ‘as long as you admit I was right, I guess I can help you.’

‘And it has nothing to do with you wanting to feel him again, huh?’

‘Shut up and start thinking,’ the voice replied irritably, ignoring the question.

Part Seventeen

“Okay, so what are we doing here?” Lex yelled, trying to be heard over the music.

Spike snorted, tossing back the large tumbler of scotch before shrugging. “Thought you could use a night out, mate,” he called back, “And you seemed to like it here the last time.” Not to mention that smelling Xander all over the bloody Hyperion had been driving him crazier than he wanted to be.

“Cool,” Lex answered, grinning as the blond handed him a beer to replace his soda. “It’s kinda loud tonight!”

“Yeah… could find a quieter spot, bloke,” the vampire answered with a nod, grabbing the boy’s arm and pulling him through the crowd towards a side room. “Better?” he demanded, pushing the brunette down on a suddenly vacant couch.

Brown eyes looked around and Lex shrugged. “I guess. At least we don’t have to shout anymore…” And there was almost zero chance of meeting anyone while they were sitting here, and maybe that was Spike’s plan, he realized. Let him think he was out and relatively free, but meanwhile make sure he didn’t have any non-approved fun.

Spike watched the gloom-and-doom of a building brood start on the boy’s face and rolled his eyes. “Right, then. I’m going to get another drink. Stay here, yeah?” because the last thing he needed was to see Lex sitting there in a funk; especially while looking just like Xander.

It was hard enough to keep himself from taking the comfort the boy seemed to always be offering. Keeping himself from the pouty lips would be… hell. He could do it, of course, but first… first, he needed a bit more liquid cheer. Besides, the boy wasn’t going anywhere. He was right where he wanted to be, after all. Surrounded by vampires, even if none of them would take him up on whatever he offered, either.

He chuckled, even as he made his way to the blood-bar and ordered a tall type-O and vodka, taking a long swallow and sighing almost happily.

* * * * *

“Stay here,” Lex mimicked, once he was sure the blond wouldn’t hear him. “Why not just lock me in a room and let me watch the fun through a window?”

“Well, I could lock you up if you want,” a low, silky voice spoke nearly in his ear, “but I’m hoping you’ll be more interested in participating than watching…”

The brunette swallowed hard and shifted on the couch, that voice going straight from his ear to his cock, judging by the stirring of his groin. “Uh… hi?”

The vampire grinned and hopped over the young man, settling on the couch beside him, one arm over the sofa back surrounding broad, warm shoulders. “I’m Jake. You?”

“L-lex,” he said after a nervous sip of his beer. “So, you… come here often?”

“Often enough,” Jake admitted, flipping long, light brown hair back over his shoulder. “Never seen you here before, though, and trust me, I’d remember. You’re… beautiful, Lex.” He leaned in closer, eyes closing as he ran his nose slowly up the side of the young man’s neck. “And you smell even better,” he whispered. “I think I like you, Lex. Think you could like me, too?”

No-brainer, Lex figured, while he could still think. Then he felt one strong, cool hand on his thigh and thinking went out the proverbial window. “Uh… uh-huh… y-yeah… l-like you just f-fine…”

Oh, this boy was a sweet one, just like he’d been told. And all his—for the night, at least. “Good… good, Lex.” His hand crept a bit higher, fingertips stroking hot flesh through linen. “Gonna be so good for you, boy. So good. Gonna make you bleed, Lex, and I know you’ll love that.”

“Unngghhh… y-yeah,” the boy whimpered, entirely focused on the hand that was so close, so close to touching him there. “P-please…”

Jake chuckled low and deep into the pinkening ear. “I love that you’re begging already,” he murmured, finally letting his fingers dance over the still-growing bulge in the boy’s pants, “but we should go somewhere, Lex… so you can show me how well you beg in private.”

His own hand finally released the edge of the couch and Lex found himself turning towards the vampire, fingers lightly brushing the denim-covered leg pressed against his. “I… I’m here with…” and he should have been disturbed that he couldn’t remember the name he was looking for, but he just wasn’t, somehow.

“Shhh… shhh, I know. My Sire is handling things as we speak. Your… companion… won’t mind if we go now, boy.” He moved his hand from the brunette’s pants for a moment, placing the warm hand over his own straining bulge. “I don’t think I can wait much longer, Lex… you’re so hot and sweet. You want me, don’t you? Want to feel me…?”

“Wha…” this was going way too fast, and Lex knew it, but the vampire’s voice was so… and he couldn’t figure out why he wanted to slow down, anyway. Not when that cool hand was pressing against him again, and not when the soft words filled his head with thoughts of pleasure and need and… “Y-yeah… yeah, Jake… Gods, p-please…” and just like that he found himself being pulled from the couch and dragged to a small door at the back of the room.

* * * * *

“Well… I see you’re back,” the vampire said, chuckling as he leaned against the bar beside Spike. “And you brought the virgin. How… lovely.” He grinned.

One brow arched and Spike waved for another drink, setting his empty glass on the counter. “Yeah, well. Boy likes to get out every now and again. Can’t say as I blame him.”

“And you’re not paying to keep him virginal anymore. That’s good… I’ve been thinking about him, actually. Haven’t been able to get him out of my mind since the other night.”

“Thought you didn’t like the warm ones, mate,” Spike said, letting just a touch of danger colour his voice.

The other blond laughed and shook his head. “Oh, not for me! I was thinking more of my childer. The youngest has been performing very well for the clan lately. I thought your virgin might be a nice treat for him. What do you say? Your boy gets broken in, my Childe gets a fun bit of fuck-and-suck; everybody wins. How about two grand for the night?”

Spike blinked, then blinked again, finally laughing loudly. “You… you think… bloody hell, this is too bloody funny! You really think he’s a rent-boy! And I’m his what? Pimp?”

The older vampire frowned. “Well, you keep bringing him here and parading him around, so yeah. Paid people off to not touch him… seemed like you were trying to work up some interest… I finally figured it out after you two left the other night.” His sudden grin was amused.

“Right, then,” Spike grated, suddenly serious. “Not his bloody fucking pimp, got it? Bodyguard. Protector. His Dad’s a high-muckity at the Citadel. Wants the boy looked after, young as he is.”

If it was possible, the other blonde got even paler as his smile faded completely. “Oh… I really wish I’d known that before…”

“Before WHAT?” the blond demanded, hands suddenly fisted in the other vampire’s shirt. “If that boy is harmed…”

“Look, I didn’t know! He was so eager, and…”

“He’s hurt, I’ll find you. He’s even a little bit unhappy, your entire bloody clan will disappear off the face of the Earth. You. Don’t. Move!”

The older vampire gaped for a moment as the bleached blond darted through the room, dodging other patrons or simply knocking them over if they were too much in the way. “Shit. Jake!” he groaned, then ignored the final order and followed.

* * * * *

The couch was empty, Spike realized. The boy’s beer was still there, but the boy himself? Gone.

He grabbed the nearest demon and slammed it against the table, glaring down into slitted purple eyes. “The boy. Where?” he demanded, vamp-face firmly in place as the creature flapped one tentacle limply towards the back of the room. “Right,” he growled and stalked furiously toward the door he’d only now noticed, it was so sunk in shadows.

“You need a key,” one overly-ambitious employee said, moving to stand in front of the door. “It’s a hundred for a room.”

Spike snarled. “Boy. Looks human. Pretty. With a vampire. Where?”

“It’s against policy to report on our…” the smug voice was cut off as its owner’s face met the steel door intimately.

“Again— Boy. Pretty. Vamp. Room.” The blond growled again, deeper this time.

“Th-third room on the r-right,” the vampire whimpered, only to transform the sound to a yell as he found himself airborne.

The door presented very little problem, once Spike realized that while it was steel, the wall wasn’t.

He heard the scream the moment he broke through and bellowed furiously. “I’m coming, Lex!”

* * * * *

Everything had been… hazy, but fine.

Jake’s hands, his fingers… lips on his skin, the slight scratch of sharp teeth…

And that voice, that voice still murmuring as the shirt was torn from his body, and fingers, hands, lips found new skin to touch, stroke, nip, pinch, scratch…

“J-jake… Gods, I…”

“Shhhhhh…” that wonderful voice had said, fingers moving with practiced ease at the front of his pants, “Gonna do you, boy… slam in all hard and rough. Oh, you’re gonna love it, Lex. All set up to be a vampire’s whore, aren’t you?”

His tongue found one dark, pebbling nipple, laving it slowly before sharp teeth bit roughly at it. “Hush, boy,” he ordered, pressing the boy’s shoulders hard against the wall, “Just giving you what you want, Lex. Gonna pop that cherry of yours like only a vampire can. I can’t wait to smell your blood. To taste it...”

And that had cut through whatever insanity had brought him here in the first place. That and the pain of his chest where the vampire had almost broken skin.

“No, no I don’t… this isn’t what…”

“Stop struggling!” the vampire demanded, shaking the boy and smiling as he heard his head slam against the wall twice. “There… there, my beautiful little virgin… that’ll settle you right down…”

His head was spinning enough that he couldn’t manage to do more than ineffectually push at the vampire’s hands. It wasn’t enough to let him keep his pants up, though. “N-no, no, no…” he moaned hopelessly, even as he felt the fabric move down his legs. “S-stop! I d-don’t w-want…”

Jake chuckled softly, looking at his prize from top to bottom. “Gods, you’re good at this, boy. I almost believe you really don’t want me.” One hand pressed against the middle of the boy’s chest, pinning him harder to the wall while he crouched down, inhaling the acrid scent of musk and fear.

And of course the little rent-boy was frightened, he reminded himself. After all, this was his first time, even if he had been trained. Still, he’d know what to expect from bedding a vampire, and Jake owed it to Lex to make it as close to what he wanted as possible. It wasn’t every day he got a special treat like this one.

“You’ll have to tell me, Lex… later, you have to tell me how your handler trained you so well without ever breaking you open. I’m… impressed.” True, actually. Whoever owned this boy had obviously told him how much most vamps enjoyed a good rape fantasy these days… shown him, somehow. Maybe even thralled him and walked him through it because the boy was obviously susceptible to thrall.

“S-stop,” Lex whimpered again, yelping when sharp teeth dug into his skin again, this time high on his thigh. “D-don’t… Jake, please!”

“All right… all right, my pretty boy… I know you can’t wait anymore.” Jake purred soothingly then stood, looking at the tight face and squeezed-shut eyes. “I can’t either, Lex. You’re so fucking hot, boy. Gorgeous. Can’t wait to see you spread out for me, bucking up into me… Gods, Lex. You’re gonna be so tight, I… shit. Bed. Now.”

He shook his head repeatedly, and when Jake finally stepped back, freeing him from the unbalanced stance he’d been trapped in, Lex took the only shot he had.

One hand lashed out, fist slamming hard against the vampire’s chin, and he bent, quickly pulling his slacks up while the vampire shook his head.

“Oh, that wasn’t nice, Lex,” Jake growled dangerously. “Guess you like it a little rough, huh? Rougher than usual, I mean. Well, I can do that, boy, if it’ll make you happy.” His own fists swung, one plowing hard into the brunette’s stomach while the other clipped a cheek as the boy bent over in reaction. “Now get your ass on the bed!”

“NO!” Lex screamed, “Never! Never! You… fucking… bastard!” His leg shot out in a high sidekick, catching the vampire mid-chest hard enough to send him crashing to the floor.

“I’m… NOT… a whore!” he shouted, raining repeated kicks into the vampire’s stunned form. “Not a whore, not a whore, not a whore… not a WHORE!” He was yelling so loudly, in fact, that he never heard the door of the room being forced open and he had no idea that he had an audience until he felt the strong arms wrapping hard around him.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” he screamed. It wasn’t fair, wasn’t fair… Jake had a friend and now he was caught, and he’d be… Gods, “NO!”

Spike barely managed to hold on to the struggling boy, and that was saying a lot, considering the young one wasn’t very close to vampire strength, ordinarily. Of course, this was far from an ordinary situation, but if the boy didn’t stop, he was going to work himself into a coronary… assuming whatever demon bits he had were prone to that sort of thing.

“Lex,” he said, over and over, trying to make his voice comforting, “Lex… come on, boy. It’s just me, yeah? Came to save you but you beat me to it, didn’t you? Kicked the merry shit out of that fuckhead, you did. Good job, mate. Could have done better, granted, but not a bad effort, bloke. Come on, Lex, calm down, yeah? Can’t take you home all upset and such, can I? Your Dad would bloody well kill me if he knew what could have happened here…”

It was the ‘mate’ and ‘bloke’ that pierced his panic much more than his name or ‘boy’. Jake had called him the latter two, after all.

“S-spike…?” he whispered, finally letting himself stop fighting, “I… he was… and I couldn’t, and then… and I… Gods, I… c-can we go h-home, Spike? P-please, I…”

The vampire nodded, completely uncaring about the fact that Lex had just called him Spike in front of the other two vampires. He simply pushed the boy behind him and glared at them as the older helped the younger to his feet.

“You,” he said coldly to the Sire, “Take your childer and leave the city… the state, even. Don’t care where you go or what you do when you get there, yeah? You or yours are still here this time tomorrow and you’re all dust. Would do it now, except my boy stopped that… thing you call a Childe.”

“You can’t…” Jake started, only to be silenced by his Sire.

“The boy called you Spike.”

“Yeah. He did.”

“So you would be…”

“Would and am, mate. Now are you moving on or are we going to war?”

The older vampire looked thoughtful for a moment. “Aurelius is not as… large… as it once was,” he observed.

Spike nodded, looking at his fingernails for a moment before rubbing them lightly against the leather of his coat, wondering if the other Master had any idea of just how very factual that statement was. Still…

“True enough. Just as crazy, though. And we never were the most prolific order, yeah?” He shrugged. “Four of us still managed to terrorize most of Western Europe and never got caught out.”

A sigh, then “You would go to war with Octavius over the boy?”

“The boy is under my protection. The word of Aurelius given on it. I would go to war with the world over the boy.”

The other blond sighed and nodded. “And you’d likely win, Master Spike.” He frowned slightly and shook his head. “Twenty-four hours isn’t enough time to transfer my various concerns to a new city, however. Perhaps a week.”

Spike snorted. “You’ll be dead if you’re still here in a week, bloke. This time tomorrow, you’re gone. As for your… interests, it’s amazing what can be accomplished over the Magetrix. Suggest you look into it.”

“Master!” Jake nearly shouted, “You’re not gonna let him tell us what to do, are you? Come on! He’s just one guy, and…” his voice stopped, both hands gripping his throat to stop the sudden flow of blood.

The Sire sighed and wiped his bloody fingers on Jake’s pants. “Childer. No understanding of history. But what can you do? I… thank you for the gift of our lives, Master Spike. We’ll be gone by your deadline.”

Spike nodded slowly. “Octavius has always been known for keeping its word. Hope that hasn’t changed.” And with that, he turned, gathering Lex tightly against his side. “Come on, pet. Let’s get you home, yeah? Been a long night for you and all…”

Lex shivered under the eyes of the demons in the club as they left and Spike frowned, then pulled off his duster, holding it out for the boy. “And put this on. Likely to be feeling a bit shocky.”

Part Eighteen

Xander couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face when he felt the subtle vibration of an incoming call in his head and saw Spike’s identicode on the hexicon display. He still didn’t know how he was going to make things up with the vampire, but he was for damned sure going to try, and that effort would start right now.

“Spike,” he said softly, opening the call, “Hi, it’s good to…”

“Yeah, whatever. Look, your boy’s tired so I’m keeping him here tonight. Just wanted you to know. So you don’t worry, right?”

And shit. Of course it couldn’t be that easy. “I… thanks, I… that’s… good to know. I mean…”

‘Fuck, I’m babbling. And not saying anything interesting, either.’

‘Try asking him why ‘up all night’ Lex is tired at one o’clock in the morning, Xander,’ Alex ordered tightly, ‘because Spike sounds shaky, at best.’

“Welcome, yeah? So we’ll… see you tomorrow night, and…”

And Alex was right. Spike did sound kind of… off.

“Wait. I… what’s going on, Spike? Lex is never tired. Not this early, anyway…”

A soft sigh, then the sound of something—possibly a hand—covering the hexicon and quiet, indistinct mutters before clarity returned.

“Sorry,” Spike said, sounding anything but. “Boy got into a bit of a tussle. Didn’t want you to know. But he’s fine, yeah? Just needed to clean up a bit and once the adrenaline wore off, he… well, poor git’s right knackered.”

“Shit! You let him get in a fight? Fuck, Spike, what the hell!”

“Look, it’s my fault, alright? Didn’t follow the bloke to the bathroom and he ended up having words with some demon. Next thing I know, they’re rolling about in the hallway. Broke it up right quick, once I saw.” Spike growled softly. “You can tear me a new one tomorrow, yeah? Boy needs to rest right now and I don’t want him to be alone. Later.”

Xander stared at the now silent unit, frowning.

“Okay… that was just…”

‘Bizarre?’ Alex asked, in a very flat tone. ‘Ya think, Xander? No excuses, no ‘it wasn’t my fault’? From Spike. About LEX? Hell, he knows how protective you are of that kid… and what the hell was all that about not wanting to leave him alone? Lex has been in fights before and he’s never needed a babysitter afterward.’

Xander nodded, tossing the hexicon onto the new bed beside him. ‘That and… has Lex ever rolled around on the floor in a fight? In the last five years, anyway? He knows better than to get into a clench. Too limiting, remember?’

‘So… going to Spike’s place?’

‘Oh, yeah. So going to Spike’s. He’s lying to me about something.’ Of course, he didn’t mention that he was worried the ‘something’ might be that Spike had finally taken Lex up on what the kid wanted, and… no matter what Lex said about not liking Spike, Xander knew he wanted him.

After all, he’d wanted the vampire himself at Lex’s age, even if he hadn’t known it, and upbringing aside… he and his younger self weren’t that different. Hell, if he hadn’t been so completely closeted at seventeen, he probably would have had the blond. Once, anyway, because the Spike that had been around when he was Lex’s age was an entirely different creature than the Spike he knew at the end, and even more so now, and…

‘Gods, shut up already!’ Alex griped. ‘Put all that energy into getting to Spike’s! Whatever’s going on, if something’s happened to Lex, he’s going to need you, Xander! Even if it’s something good.’

It was a bare five minutes later that the sleek black and chrome motorcycle peeled out of the parking structure, the helmeted and leather-wrapped form astride it unremarkable in the night.

* * * * *

He pretended that he couldn’t hear the boy’s sobs as he arranged some of his precious Cadbury treats on a plate. Chocolate had always been the best comfort for Lex’s Dad, after all, and still was… well, aside from a good shag and a blow job, but there was no way he’d be going there with the boy.

So… Cadbury Flake, Dairy Milk, and Chocolate Buttons, it was. Add in some hot cocoa with those little marshmallows Joyce had turned him on to, and… that should do it.

Assuming the boy ever got out of the bath, anyway, which was starting to seem less and less likely as time went on. It had been close to an hour already.

Then again, the bloke was still sobbing, and he probably didn’t want to seem all weepy and such in front of him, so… “Five more minutes,” Spike muttered softly, “then I’m going in and dragging his soggy ass out.”

He smiled slightly as his bare feet stepped onto the carpet in the living room and the tendrils of whatever fiber it was made or wrapped around his toes and tickled the soles of his feet. “Yeah, I’m glad to be home too, mate,” he whispered, blushing slightly at the fact that he was talking to the floor.

Unfortunately, he didn’t realize quite where Lex had left his shoes, and an undignified and very non-vampy squeak left him as he stumbled, somehow managing not to drop the tray although the hot cocoa did slop out of the mug and onto his shirt… which was still better than getting it on the carpet, he figured.

“Bloody fucking hell,” he sighed, setting the tray on the nearest end table and frowning at the mess that now covered him. Still, easier to wash his shirt than the carpet, he figured, pulling the wet garment off and tossing it onto the table beside the tray.

“Lex, mate!” he called out, sure the boy would hear him, “You planning on staying in there til you sprout gills?”

Spike sighed when the boy didn’t answer, then perked up slightly when the intercom buzzed at him. “Bloody hell,” he almost growled as he pressed the ‘admit’ button, “about time my sodding blood got here!” He’d had a pint or two in the fridge, but after his worry earlier, it hadn’t been enough.

* * * * *

He’d cried like a little human.

That was all Lex could think as he dried himself off and let the tub drain.

He’d cried like a human, and at Spike’s, which was just… too embarrassing for words.

The vampire already treated him like a little kid; he could only imagine how much worse it would be now, and that wasn’t even including the fact that he’d been stupid enough to go off with some guy he’d just met, and why the fuck had he done that anyway?

Okay, he’d been trying to lose his so-over-rated virginity for a while now, but that was no excuse, and it was one thing to make a date with someone he met at the arcade or down on the Promenade, but… some random vamp in a club? When he’d known Spike was there and would most likely go ballistic? How had he even thought that was gonna turn out well?

The worst part, though, was that he really had no idea of why he’d done it. He could barely remember the vampire’s voice… didn’t even know what he’d looked like other than the fact that he’d been tall and… long hair?

“Gods… I’m suck a fuckwit,” he sighed, looking at his discarded pants where they lay on the floor and discovering no inclination within him to put them on again. They were… dirty. Soiled. And he’d never wear them again.

Fortunately, the second door in the bathroom led to Spike’s room, so he slipped inside. Hopefully, the blond wouldn’t mind if he borrowed a pair of sweats, even if they would be a good bit on the tight side. And if he did mind, well… the vampire could just add that to the list of things he was surely planning on lecturing him about. Then again, he figured a lecture of twelve was the least he deserved.

He thought that maybe he finally understood—finally—what Dad and Spike had been trying to tell him. He wasn’t always safe. Not even when he thought he was.

He looked for a good few minutes, frowning when he found nothing even resembling sweats or sleepwear, and finally settled for the long blue velvet robe. He could order pants and a shirt over Spike’s Magetrix, after all, and they’d be delivered within the hour if he wasn’t too picky. Or by the following sunset if he was.

Lex paused, catching his reflection in the long window and sighed. He looked like crap. He knew he looked like crap. Of course, it didn’t much matter, he told himself. Nobody was around who he wanted to impress, anyway.

He closed his eyes and took one deep breath, only to blink them open suddenly. He thought he smelled… but no, Spike wouldn’t know about… but then again, Spike knew Xander, and Dad had always loved… so maybe…

Only one way to find out, though, so Lex moved to the bedroom door and did his best to smile.

“Hey, Spike,” he called, stepping from the bedroom, “Do I smell hot choc…”

It was the sudden and very loud growl that convinced him to step back into the bedroom and slam and lock the door.


* * * * *

Spike had no idea of what the fuck had just happened.

One minute, he was opening the door to find that the buzzing of moments earlier hadn’t been his blood after all, but Xander, and then…

“Bloody fucking hell!” he snarled, doing his best to hold on to the hissing, spitting, growling thing that was trying to claw its way across the foyer and to the bedroom, “What the fuck is wrong with you!”

Xander growled again, louder, even his inner voice joining in the fury as he kicked at the bleached blond. “Bastard! Fucking bastard!” he shouted roughly, giving up on reaching the boy for the moment. Kill the vampire first; then kill the poacher!

Spike growled back this time, catching one talon across a cheekbone before he managed to grasp thick wrists. It was still a fight to press those wrists to the floor, though, especially with the way Xander was bucking beneath him, trying to toss him across the room with the force of his hips alone, apparently.

Hot golden eyes met silver-flecked black and the vampire howled loudly, thighs locking around heavier thighs, trying to hold the man immobile.

“Don’t know what kind of fucking drugs you’re on, mate,” he sneered, “but I’ll drain you myself before I let you hurt the boy! Had enough of a beating already tonight!”

“Fucker! Fucking bastard shitfucking asshole!” the brunette hollered, “Dust you, you fucker! Touch him? Touch him? No!”

“Right, then,” the vampire grated out, “This isn’t working. Time to try… something… new!” And with that, he pulled his head back quickly before reversing the motion and slamming his forehead hard against the struggling man’s; then he did it again for good measure. He fully prepared to have a third go, even if his own head was swimming, when he saw the black eyes glaze slightly. “Good,” he groaned.

Xander came back to himself to find his chest heaving, breath coming fast and hard, as though he’d just run a mile in three seconds flat… with a pissed off and game-faced vampire straddling him. “Wh-what…?”

“Bloody good fucking question, bloke. What the bleeding fuck is your problem?”

He stared up into that face, at the small, bloody gash, and paled as it came back to him.

Spike, opening the door in just his jeans. Himself smiling. Lex’s voice, and the sight of the boy coming out of the bedroom in Spike’s robe…

And himself attacking. Wanting to kill them both. Knowing it was his right to kill them both for daring to touch each other… for daring to do what he himself had told Lex to do..

“Oh… Gods,” Xander whispered, closing his eyes and turning his face away from the blond. “I… fuck. I… I shouldn’t be here, I…”

Not drugs, then, Spike realized, though the bloke’s rambling, nearly stuttered reply hadn’t been much of an answer. At least Xander seemed to be calmer now. “Are you finished with whatever the fuck that was, or do I need to tie you up, mate?” he demanded.

“I… no, I’ll just… go. I promise, Spike. I… it’s none of my business, right? I mean, I let you go and it’s too late now, and I was just… I was worried about Lex and… but I shouldn’t have come here, you just sounded so shook up on the hex, and…”

And now he really had no idea of what bloody Xander was on about, but the return to babble seemed to imply that it was safe to let the bloke go. “Right. I’m going to get up, Xander,” he said slowly, “and you’re going to come into the living room and tell me what the fuck just happened here.”

The brunette nodded miserably. “I… Gods, tell Lex I’m sorry. I… fuck, I’m worse than my old man. He… at least he never tried to k-kill me, and…”

The blond shook his head and rolled blue-again eyes as he climbed from the floor, releasing the young man carefully. “Bloody hell,” he muttered, “you lot from the ‘dale. Always so sodding dramatic.” He pointed Xander to the living room then moved swiftly to the small hallway and tapped at the bedroom door.

“Lex. You alright, mate?”

“Spike?” he heard, a good bit muffled, and the vampire chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s me. And you can come out from under the bed, bloke. Crisis over—even if I don’t know what it bloody was,” he muttered the last. “Your Dad’s here, in case you missed that part, so haul your ass out to the living room. Think we all need to talk.”

He heard the soft sigh and the sounds of his favourite bloody robe against the wood floor.

Lex finally unlocked the door and opened it a crack. “You’re sure he’s over it?” he asked softly, “Because I really don’t want to go out there if he’s not, okay?”

Spike frowned. “Guessing you’ve seen this before, then.”

“Never directed at me, but yeah. He, uh… his demon side gets… pissed. Um, you’re sure… are his eyes…?”

“Brown and weepy, boy.”

And apparently that was answer enough.

* * * * *

Xander and Lex both felt a good deal better after a few mugs of cocoa, Spike decided, judging by the sheepish glances the two kept trading. That still didn’t tell Spike what was going on, though, and his own large tumblers of whiskey weren’t doing anything to calm him.

“Out with it,” he finally snapped, glaring at the two brunettes on the couch. “Want to know why you took it into your head to come at me and the boy that way, Xan. Now.”

Lex blinked at the question, then found himself laughing and the vampire’s irritated stare only made him laugh harder, until he nearly fell off of the couch, while Xander simply sat there and looked into his nearly empty mug, his face flushing a brighter red than Spike had ever seen it.

“What?” he demanded, demon coming to the fore. “Don’t see what’s so bleeding funny!”

“I… I’m sorry…” the boy gasped after another minute or so, “but I… Oh, Gods. Dad, let me tell him! Pretty please? I’ll… I’ll take that class with Master Gord’l’ak if you let me tell him!” He’d only just figured it out himself, but… he was seventeen, not a-hundred-and-whatever like Spike was, and he really wanted to rub it in.

Xander groaned but nodded. He was going to be mortified either way. Maybe a little less if he didn’t have to say it himself. Besides, he’d been trying to get Lex to take that World Government seminar for months. Might as well get some return on completely screwing himself over, because… if Spike hadn’t been entirely through with him before, he would be when he found out the truth. Then again, Lex didn’t really know the truth, but still…

Spike growled softly, though he wasn’t quite as angry now that the boy was swallowing the last of his sniggers and it seemed like he’d be getting some answers. “Well?”

“O-okay,” Lex said with a grin, barely managing to keep himself from laughing again, “But it’s more of a… show and tell kind of thing, so. Close your eyes, Spike.” His own eyes rolled at the blond’s annoyed look. “Just do it, okay?”

The vampire huffed but finally gave in. He’d gone head to head with Lex before, after all, and the boy could outdo even Xan for sheer stubbornness.

“Okay. So Dad—I mean, Xander. Xander calls you and he sounds weird to you, and you did sound weird. I could hear you. You go to see what’s up. He opens the door wearing nothing but a pair of pants.”

And he couldn’t help licking his lips at the mental image the boy had created. “Think I’m liking this game, mate…”

Lex smirked and bit the inside of his cheek. “Oh, it gets better. So he opens the door, and you see him just standing there, half naked. You haven’t seen him like that for a while because you’ve been a huge shithead, so you’re liking the view. Then you hear a voice and his bedroom door opens and some kid comes out in nothing but Dad’s robe. And the kid looks just… like… you.”

Lex blinked quickly, eyes glazing for just a moment, though neither Xander nor Spike noticed.

Xander groaned again, hiding his face in his hands. “I am such a moron,” he whispered.

“Now, assume you’ve got one hell of a possessive demon, Spike…” the boy went on, not entirely sure of where his words were coming from, but willing to just go with it, “one that almost claimed Dad as its mate one night, and that’s what screwed things up to begin with because he didn’t listen when you tried to explain.”

“And there you are, looking at a half-naked Xander and a kid wearing his robe… your demon’s howling that Dad’s yours and whoever touched him has to die… and so does he because he’s yours and he should know better than to even think about being with anyone else. Now imagine that you’ve only had the demon for twenty or so years and it’s usually quiet, so you don’t really have the best control, and…”

Lex smirked again, this time into very wide golden eyes. “See, it doesn’t matter what was actually happening. It’s what you saw; what your demon saw that matters. And it’s been away from Dad for days now, so it’s going a little bit crazy, what with the lack of sex—and I SO don’t want to even think about that where you guys are concerned, so I’m not saying any more about it.”

Spike didn’t much care whether the boy went on talking forever or stopped completely, if he were going to be honest. He actually didn’t notice whether sounds were still coming from Lex’s lips or not.

He was entirely too busy staring at the other brunette on the couch. The one who currently had his face covered with his hands and was muttering what the vampire just knew were insulting little self-loathing comments.

“Right, then,” he heard himself muttering. “Got it. Thinks I’m his. But I’m not.”

Lex bit his lip and stood slowly, edging his way around the room to the foyer. Whatever was going to happen between Spike and Xander, he had a feeling it was none of his business. In fact… the robe wasn’t that bad. He could go home in it, even… except he was kind of scared to leave Spike’s apartment at the moment; especially by himself, and… and he still wasn’t really as over what had happened as he’d been pretending to be, but he couldn’t let his Dad find out, so he’d keep acting fine, and…

“Lex,” Xander said sharply, only a minute or so later, “Come on. We’re getting you a taxi home. You can’t ride the bike in that… robe.”

“What? We’re…”

“Leaving, Lex. We’re leaving.”

Part Nineteen

The Magus Prime sighed and pressed his seal to the final document in front of him before keying his desk hexicon and speaking. “Captain. Double the guard on the Pier starting in three hours.”

Angel’s voice was amused but intent. “He finally decided?”

“Yeah. The Arcade. Make sure we’ve got glamoured agents on hand inside, just in case. I’ll be on point.”

The former vampire groaned. “Are you sure we can’t just close it down for him? It would be about a thousand percent safer.”

Xander sighed again and shook his head. “It’s his birthday, Angel. He wants it to feel like a party and we haven’t exactly made it easy for him to have friends.”

“Not your fault,” Angel said slowly, unused to comforting anyone outside of his immediate family. “Things were dangerous for a long time after he came here, Magus. Hell, they still are. How could we know for sure whether someone was safe? I mean, okay, the kids? Fine. But what about the parents?”

“I know. I know, Angel. But he’s eighteen now and… I wonder if he would have been happier if he’d… had someone, you know?”

The Captain coughed a bit. “Xander… are you sure we’re still talking about Lex?”

The brunette groaned and banged his head against the desk lightly. “No. Not even a little bit. Just… take care of the Pier, okay?”

“Consider it done.”

* * * * *

Spike leaned against the wall, eyes scanning the crowded Arcade repeatedly, even while constantly returning to the boy. He never had gotten around to arranging for anything to happen to young Lex, but he figured the night close to a week earlier had opened the kid’s eyes a bit. He hadn’t been wanting to go to clubs since then, in any case.

Of course, that didn’t help Spike any.

Not that he didn’t like the bloody games and whatnot, though he’d never admit it, but… fuck, he had far too much time to think now; especially with the boy in that new lesson, whatever it was aside from sodding boring.

Only bright side was, all his thinking had let him figure out the perfect gift for Lex’s eighteenth birthday. Too bad that wasn’t all he’d figured out, and now that he’d come to a conclusion, he’d have to do something about it and… he wasn’t entirely sure that he wanted to, except he did, but after the way Xander had left that night…

Still, that was for later. For now…

He pushed off the wall, strolling over to the machine Lex was involved with talking to, then laughed as the boy’s character tore the head from a soldier and triumphant music blared. “Nice one, mate!”

Lex grinned, entering his name in the high score box. “Thanks. I love taking out those Initiative fucks.” He looked around, still smiling. “So what’s up, Spike? Some threat you want me to run or hide from?”

The blond smirked. “Hardly, mate. Thought you might like to stay at my place tonight, though. You’re eighteen now. Rite of passage and all that.”

The young man took a quick step back, holding one hand up in front of him. “Hold on, there, Mister Horny-Vamp! I know I hit on you that first day, but we can’t… I mean, Dad would… and yeah, you’re really fucking gorgeous, but that’s a really really bad idea, and…” And then he noticed how hard the vampire was trying not to laugh. “Oh, ha ha. Very funny, Spike! Is this some vamp tradition? Scare the shit out of the birthday boy?”

Spike finally did laugh, then pulled the boy to the wall next to the machine, leaning in to murmur quietly to him. “Look, pet. You’re a tasty treat, yourself, but I like my Harrises a bit older, yeah? Doesn’t mean there’s not a nice shifter bloke waiting for you at my place… and a few others, too.”

Lex blushed, shaking his head swiftly. “I… I don’t think I can… shit, Spike, I… it was just the other night that…”

A snort. “Didn’t say they were rented, did I? Just some likely blokes, share some of your interests. Figured you might like to meet other kids your age, aside from the ones sodding Angel thinks are good enough to take classes with you. Friends, you git, assuming you act like a bloody person, rather than a spoiled sodding brat, yeah?”

And that was a different thing entirely, Lex figured. “Um, but… I thought I couldn’t go anywhere without…”

“Got a sector guard moonlighting on my floor. Should be safe enough, but it’s up to you.” And there’d be a good two squads watching, too, but the boy didn’t need to know that. “Don’t have to go if you don’t want to, mate. Just a thought.”

Brown eyes traveled the length and breadth of the Arcade, picking out the few people who were actually there because of him, then they closed and he wondered what it would be like to meet someone new… more than one someone new-s. The idea alone was… wild.

“I… yeah. I’ll go, Spike,” Lex said with a smile. “Even if I don’t like the guys, it’ll be… cool… to meet them.”

And as the young shifter was just as bloody horny as the boy, Spike had a feeling they’d like each other plenty. It didn’t hurt that the other boy was as much of a bottom as he’d ever seen. No threat to his boy, there. Besides, the other kids would keep things from getting too intense, and that was a good thing, as well.

Let the boy see that it wasn’t necessary to endanger himself in order to have a good time, and that would be one less worry for Spike. And all the boys had been thoroughly screened, after all, so…

“Right, then. Let’s grab sodding Andrew. We’ll drop you off on the way back to the Citadel.”

Lex laughed. “You’re going to the Citadel? Tonight?”

The vampire nodded. “Yeah. Need to have a word or twelve with your Dad, don’t I?” he answered, timing the words for the moment he and Lex were walking past the glamoured Xander, congratulating himself for finding out which one he was. It hadn’t been easy, either, especially considering the fact that he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the Magus Prime since the bloke had left his place with Lex nights earlier. “Had enough of this bullshit, I have.”

“Thank Gods,” Lex muttered, “it’s about fucking time!”

Spike chuckled. “Still moping around like someone stole all his chocolate, then?”

“You have no idea. And more like someone stole his chocolate and his sheets. Gods, what’s the big deal about silk sheets anyway?” And he had no idea of why that question only made the vampire’s smile wider.

* * * * *

They took the long way around after dropping the boy off, ostensibly because Spike wanted to get a better idea of the layout around the Citadel as opposed to simply the streets between there and his place.

Finally, after a good forty-five minutes, the vampire ended the tour. That was enough time for Xander to hightail it back to the Hyperion, he figured.

Or not, because Xander wasn’t in his office and nobody admitted to having seen him since he’d left for the Pier.

Then again… Spike chuckled softly, taking the stairs to Xander’s floor and stepping into the corridor, inhaling deeply. “Oh, tricky pet,” he murmured, noting the distinct lack of Xander-scent. “A bit too tricky. Removed it completely, which tells me you’re here after all…”

He stalked slowly towards his bloke’s door, and yes, Xander was his. He’d known it from the moment he’d realized it was Harris and not some random rent-boy… he just hadn’t wanted to admit it. Still, here he was, and… yeah. His bloke. His bloke, who was apparently trying to hide from him for some undoubtedly foolish reason.

He tried the door first, then frowned and knocked when it proved to be locked.

“Xander,” he said after a moment, “Come on, Xan! Time we straightened all this shit out, pet.” He growled softly at the sound of breathing he could barely make out on the other side of the door. “Unless this means you don’t want to, yeah? Had enough; don’t want… don’t need? You said you needed me, luv… said you needed me!”

“And you…” Xander finally said, against his will, whispering against the wood-grained metal, “You said… Spike, you said you’re not mine. And you’re not. I know that. I can’t…”

“Xan… Xander… let me in, luv. Talk to me, yeah? I…” Spike groaned his frustration. “Need to figure this out, mate. Can’t just… pretend anymore. Smell you everywhere I go and it’s driving me bloody crazy. Can’t stay here and not see you; can’t leave and not see you, either. So tell me, pet. Tell me what to do, what you want…”

Gods… what he wanted? He wanted to open the door, drag the vampire inside and not let him leave again until he was so utterly, completely, unquestionably his that… “Please, Spike,” he whispered, “Just… just go. I’ll keep my scent hidden, you won’t have to smell me, see me. Just… go. I can’t…”

And that was beyond bloody enough! “You can either open this bloody door or step back, because I’m coming in! Don’t care if I have to break through the sodding wall to do it! Wouldn’t be the first wall, yeah?”

“Spike! Please, just… I can’t… I can’t control it! You heard Lex! It’s… Spike, th-the demon, it… wants you!”

Pale fists slammed hard against wood-veneered metal, shaking it in its frame. “Open this bloody fucking door, Xander! Not letting you go like this!”

His own hands were clenched as well, even as Xander stood back and took a few slow, deep breaths. “I… okay. Okay, Spike. I… just… calm down, okay? If I let… if you come in here all… I don’t know if I can…”

The blond forced his hands to drop from the door; uncurled tight fingers carefully. “Alright. Alright, Xander. Play it your way, I will. Calm and cool, yeah? Just… don’t tell me I can’t come in, pet. Just let me see you, talk to you… Figure this out together, we will, just you and me, luv. Won’t… won’t do anything you don’t want me to. Swear it, Xan. Truth.” Bloody hell, he almost thought his heart was beating, he felt so… dizzy. “Please, luv… I’m begging, here. Me! Begging, Xander! Begging you. Please… please, pet… please…”

Xander swallowed hard, reaching out one shaking hand to flip the toggle of the dead bolt. “I… okay, just… give me a minute…” He retreated quickly across the living room area, taking up a spot behind one wingback chair, fingers clutching the back tightly. “C-come in, Spike,” he almost whispered.

What the fuck was wrong with him? He’d been fine—cool, collected, ready to talk his bloke around—until he’d reached the door, and then all of that had flown right out of the proverbial sodding window, and now… now, there was Xander, right on the other side of that door, and he was… “Bloody hell, I’m… afraid.” Afraid of what, he didn’t know, and if either soul or demon did, they weren’t saying. In fact, they were being far more silent than they’d ever been since he’d woken in that alley.

“Stay calm, stay calm. Don’t lose it,” he muttered, even as he slowly turned the knob and pushed the door open. “Control, control… control, Spike…” And then the door was closing behind him and he couldn’t even begin to force his eyes away from the frozen form across the room. “Xander…” he whispered, something releasing inside him as true calm flowed from some hidden reservoir and suffused him. “Xander,” he said again, louder, and suddenly…

Suddenly he was out from behind the chair, Gods knew how, and the slightly smaller, much cooler body was in his arms, and he felt himself relax for the first time in weeks, and… “Gods, Spike… Gods…”

The lack of urgency was unexpected but welcome, Spike realized, his hands slowly sliding up and down the broad, cotton-covered spine as he pressed his face into the side of his bloke’s neck and just breathed him in, absorbing the sense of… bloody hell, he was turning into a chit. He felt whole.

Xander had no idea of how long they stood there. Not that he cared because it was definitely time well-spent. But finally he sighed softly and pulled away just a bit, meeting stubborn blue eyes. “I, uh… don’t suppose there’s any chance of…”

“Letting go of you so you can put me out? No, mate,” the vampire rumbled, fingers wrapping in the fabric of his bloke’s shirt. “Came here to talk, didn’t I? Think we… hell, luv. We need to do that. Figure out what the fuck is going on here.”

Part Twenty

As it turned out, it was simple enough. Or not so simple, really, but also nothing that could be changed.

“And you didn’t tell me about the demon…” the vampire murmured yet again, “because…”

“Because I had no idea that it was gonna react so strongly to you, Spike. I swear it! I… I mean, I didn’t know if it would react at all, but I for damned sure didn’t think it would happen that fast. Hell, it was… almost a year before it happened with Thomas; even longer with the others.” And Xander found himself smiling at the growl the blond released then.

“So it wasn’t because you didn’t think I should know. Just figured you had time, yeah?” His arms tightened around his bloke and he rubbed his chin on one solid shoulder.

Xander sighed. “Honestly, Spike?” He bit his lip when the vampire nodded. “I didn’t really think I’d ever have to tell you. We weren’t… we were doing the ‘friends’ thing, remember? I… Thomas; the others? They were prospective… consorts, I guess you could say. It made sense for my other half to want to claim them eventually. And if any of them had been able to handle it without freaking… but then there was you. My ‘friend’. With benefits, as Willow called it.” He sighed again. “So I was finally… happy, y’know? And then all of this happened, and…”

Spike frowned and pulled away from the so-warm body he’d been laying against. “You never wanted that, then. With us.”

The brunette groaned and dragged the vampire against his side again. “Don’t do that, Spike. Just… listen.”

He waited until the blond relaxed a little then ran one hand slowly over a lightly-haired forearm. “I won’t lie to you, Spike. It’s… inconvenient… that I want you for my mate. I’m still Xander Harris, yeah. But I’m also the Magus Prime, and it would be best—as the Arch Mage would put it—if my consort brought some sort of alliance with him… or her,” he admitted with a slight moue of distaste. He still liked females, of course, but… they weren’t really at the top of his list. Still, if it had been necessary…

He held tighter when Spike would have pulled away again. “Stop it!” he ordered. “You wanted to know, so you need to stop going off half-cocked every time I say something you don’t like! Gods, it that some sort of weird Aurelius thing? Because Angel does it too, and it’s really fucking annoying!”

Spike snorted. “Sodding Angelus is a bloody prat. I’m nothing like that wanker.” And to prove it he forced himself to relax again, ignoring the soft chuckle he could hear and feel beneath his ear. “Right, then. Alliance.”

Brown eyes smiled as red lips did. “I really thought we were just doing the friends thing, you know. But then you left and I… fuck, baby. I was so fucking… lonely. After what…? A week with you? A week to get used to being happy, and then you were gone—not staying with me, not touching me, and I could barely stand to see you walking around the place, and…”

Xander chuckled again and told his vampire the rest—wanting him, being afraid of endangering him… and talking to Giles.

It was the idea of old Rupes squirming where he stood while listening to Xander talk about his sex life that had Spike grinning. “Would pay money to see that, luv,” he murmured, shifting a bit.

“I’ll have to ask for his advice again, then. Sometime when you’re watching. But the point is… with everything he said, it all boiled down to one simple thing. Faith, Robin… even Angel… they’re not only his loves and his lovers, but they’re also his closest friends, and I knew I needed to make it up to you if you’d let me… and then the thing with Lex happened—which I still don’t know the truth about, by the way, but you’ll tell me later, and…” Xander shook his head ruefully. “And here we are.”

“And you want me.” It was more a statement than a question. “Even with nothing to bring into the mix. No… alliance.” Worried blue eyes met brown, belying the vampire’s confident tone.

“Spike,” Xander announced slowly and clearly as he very carefully turned them on the couch, “I would want you to be mine even if having you meant losing everything I’ve worked for. Even if it meant going back to the Chaos Times. I know that now. I knew that when I walked out of your apartment the last time; knew it even more when I heard you say you were coming to see me tonight. I was just…”

“Scared,” the blond said simply.

Brown eyes closed sheepishly for a moment, then Xander nodded. “Scared,” he agreed. “But as soon as you walked through the door, I just… wasn’t. Not anymore.”

“Right, then,” Spike answered with a sharp nod. “So, we going to shag now, pet? Was kind of hoping that’s where this was going.”

“Oh, hell yeah…”

Lips met slowly and gently at first, but as hands moved and stroked, pulled at fabric, the kiss grew harder, stronger, deeper and more desperate, and when Xander felt the small pains of the demon rising to greet its fate, he forced himself to pull back. “Spike,” he moaned, the cool, wet mouth pursuing his own, “Ssssspike. Wait.”

Golden eyes flashed annoyance that was clearly reflected in the vampire’s desire-roughened voice. “Bloody fucking hell, what now?”

“Two thingssssss,” Xander hissed, forked tongue flicking over brow ridges curiously. “Firssssst… bed, Ssssspike…”

“Oh. Right,” the vampire said, finally noticing that they were still on the couch, even as the barely-there touches to his forehead made him quiver. “Yeah. What else?”

He stood, pulling his blond up by one arm. “Ssssssecond, baby… be sssssure. Claimed Mate…? No going back, Sssspike.”

Spike snorted, taking the lead and dragging his bloke behind him towards the big, soft bed and the silk sheets he just knew covered it. “Stuck with me, pet… not the sort to let go, am I? Not for good, anyway. Not when I’m… committed. And I am, yeah?”

And that, Xander figured, as he and his vampire tumbled onto the mattress, hands frantically finding and discarding clothing with entirely necessary haste… that was good. Very, very good.

* * * * *

There was something about his vampire being on hands and knees before him that was both sheer perfection and disappointing.

Perfection because of the way the blond was growling and snarling while slamming himself back onto Xander’s pistoning shaft, and disappointing because he truly wanted to see his lov… vamp’s face.

He was definitely going to mark the slightly smaller man; there was no question about that. Spike would be marked and claimed and taken as mate, and… and Xander somehow thought he would pass out himself from the sheer joy of it.

Fortunately, that moment was still a good ways away.

“Godssss…” he moaned, sharp talons sliding slowly up the writhing back, “ssso… beautiful, baby…” His nostrils twitched, taking in the sweet, lust-laden blood-scent coming from the thin scratches.

His own fingers were digging roughly into the sheets, and somehow he couldn’t manage to speak. Instead, Spike moved faster, taking that bloody blissful shaft into him as deeply as possible. “Unnngh,” he managed, eyes slamming shut when Xander released one loud, ragged hiss-moan-grunt against his spine, the man’s forked tongue flicking delicately over the scratches he’d barely felt.

‘Careful, Xander,’ Alex whispered, so softly that it would only register as a subconscious thought, ‘Remember, he has to beg for it if it’s going to work…’

‘I… know…’ Xander gasped back, the demon so ascendant that the tiny voice was crystal clear. ‘And he will… Gods, Alex, when do I get to beg…? I want… fuck, I want him to…’

‘He will, Xander,’ Alex murmured, almost entirely sure he was right. ‘He will. Just… do this first. Make him yours.’

He’d known—his demon had known—that Alex approved. Still, hearing it for certain made it all the more imperative that he not screw this up. If he did… well, he could try again, sure. But he had a sneaking suspicion that if he did somehow mess up, Spike would decide that it meant he didn’t really want him, and that was a whole ugly can of worms he didn’t want to open… ever.

It had been hard enough getting things straightened out enough to have them where they were. The idea of losing this chance, much less…

Xander growled, his tongue sliding deeper into one of the less shallow slices, pointed tips pressing, prodding, forcing more slow, sweet blood to rise.

“Taste ssssso good,” he groaned, his hands curving over the tops of Spike’s white shoulders and pulling the blond back roughly into his next swift thrust. “Ssssspike… Godssss…”

Even Xander had never been this deep in him before. Not even that night when he’d ridden the once-human bloke. He swore he’d feel that long, thick cock coming up out of his throat if he opened his mouth, and wasn’t that a bizarre visual, even for him?

Still, he couldn’t help gasping and was surprised when it didn’t happen in truth.

“Z-z-z-z-z…” he heard himself whimpering, but he didn’t care. He was getting the coring of his lifetime, and if nothing else, he would have to make sure that they did this again, although not every day because that would likely kill him for real and certain true. “P-p-p-p-pl…”

Almost begging… Spike was almost begging, and he needed him to beg, and if his vampire couldn’t get the words out, then it wouldn’t count, and he wanted it to count, and…

And he somehow made himself let go of those cool, strong shoulders; made himself pull fully from the tight, slick sheath that had surrounded him so amazingly.

His hands found trembling upper arms and dragged the pale form up, then back against him, his chest brushing the long line of white-skinned spine. “Want to ssssee you,” he demanded, and if his tone bore a good bit of begging as well, Xander didn’t care. “Want to sssee you, Ssssspike… your eyessss…”

Once upon a time, that would have worried him. Hell, once upon a time, he would have been sure that seeing his demon’s face was going to send Xander screaming. But that was then, and this… wasn’t… and all Spike could do was groan and nod and be entirely unsurprised when he found himself on his back, his legs spread wide and bent over strong elbows as that incredible, amazing, long and thick shaft slammed into him again.

His hands rose, cupping his bloke’s tanned face as he stared deep into those night-sky eyes, his own flashing gold-and-blue wildly. “X-xanderrrrrr…” he moaned, finally finding his voice. “Xandddderrrr… luvvvv…”

Silver-flecked black eyes blinked and Xander found his hips slowing, his body holding back. Not due to any distress in his vampire’s expression, but due simply to the sheer, unadulterated pleasure he saw there… and his own desire to make that enjoyment last as long as possible. “Sssspike…” he answered, staring helplessly into the hot golden gaze. “My… Sssspike… Godssss…”

“Please, l-luv… p-p-please…” Spike gasped, not even noticing the steady dribble of fluid splashing onto his torso as he throbbed and leaked, “P-p-please… Xan… l-luv… n-n-need…” He wasn’t sure what he needed; had no idea of how whatever his bloke was would claim its mate. He hadn’t asked, and it wasn’t an oversight.

No, he hadn’t asked for one very simple reason.

He didn’t care.

Whatever it was, whatever it took… he wanted it. And he was for bloody damned sure going to have it. “D-do it!” he growled, eyes flying wide when Xander did just that.

He’d never actually reached this point with anyone since the Change. Not even one of his possible consorts had been able to handle his demon. But Spike… Gods, Spike was not only handling it but taking it in, holding it close, letting it become a part of him, and… asking for it!

“Yesssssss…” he whispered, his own eyes going just as wide as his lover’s when he felt the forks of his tongue spiraling around each other and forming a sharp point.

His hips slowed, then stopped altogether as he found his back bending almost double to lower the appendage to soft, pale skin… and when his vampire screamed roughly, arching against him, he somehow pulled his arms from under Spike’s legs and pressed those strong shoulders implacably to the mattress, the tip of his tongue etching a highly stylized but still jagged ‘X’ deep into the flesh above one tight nipple.

‘Bloody fucking hell!’ Spike heard-felt-knew coming from inside him, and the sentiment didn’t surprise him. His bloke’s tongue was marking him somehow, and it hurt! It hurt worse than holy water, worse than sunlight, worse than… anything he’d ever known.

He shuddered, the sounds coming from his mouth fading as the burn—and the slight smell of smoke—receded. He shivered, something inside him releasing with what he was sure should have been an audible sound but wasn’t.

“B-bloody…” he gasped, both from his reaction to the unexpected pain and the fact that the ‘bloody fucking hell’ hadn’t come from his demon but his soul. “Xander…?” he begged, “W-was th-that…”

He was frozen.

Frozen solid, though for just a moment, as he felt the spiraled spear of his tongue finish the marking, then… join, as though the two separate parts had melted together somehow. And when he flicked his tongue, there was no sense of separateness, and…

The melting—or melding—wasn’t a pleasant sensation, by any stretch, but judging by the whiff of burning flesh he caught, the marking hadn’t been very enjoyable for his…

Mate,” Alex observed with an internal smirk. ‘Your Mate, Xander. No more forked tongue for you, buddy. Now make him feel better.’

And as that was exactly what Xander wanted to do, he nodded, his body able to move again—not that it moved far.

Silver-black met wide, wounded blue and Xander moaned softly at the realization that his own actions had put that look there. “I didn’t know,” he whispered, sincerity clear in his voice. “I promise you, Spike, I didn’t know.”

The blond nodded slowly, and in a show of pure trust pulled those lips to his own. And when that tongue—the same one that had done… something to him, and something painful, at that—crept out and barely tapped his lips, he opened to it, taking it in and relaxing completely when that burn wasn’t repeated. “Xander,” he sighed.

It was a sign of just how distracted the marking had made him, Xander figured, that he’d forgotten about his cock being buried deep in his Mate’s ass. But as the kiss grew deeper, harder, rougher still, he couldn’t help but be reminded.

And when Spike’s legs rose from the bed and wrapped tightly around his waist, his heels drumming lightly against his tensing cheeks, there was nothing he could do but give his Mate exactly what he was asking for. He moved—fast, hard, but still gently, somehow… and when he felt that fantastically tight anus clamping hard around his needy shaft, he groaned roughly, trying to hold on.

“Come for me, luv,” Spike pleaded. “Want to feel you, Xan… need your heat…”

Well, and he couldn’t deny his Mate, after all, so Xander stopped trying and just gave in.

His body moved faster still, harder still, every part of him focused on eradicating even the memory of the pain he’d given Spike. “Baby…” he growled, surprised that he could make that sound now, “Gonna feel me… so gonna feel me, love…”

The vampire groaned, then gasped wildly as the thick, ready shaft inside him pulsed roughly against his pleasure point, and it was barely a moment later—when he felt his Xan’s entire body seize—that he let his shout of completion fly from him, arms and legs wrapped tightly around the much warmer body.

He’d claim his bloke in the vampire fashion soon enough, he knew… possibly even later that same night. But until then…?

Well, until then, he was more than happy to just… bask in the knowledge he could feel racing through his body.

Xander owned him. And even his demon was happy with that.

‘Sire,’ the demon murmured, purring softly as it relaxed within Spike’s mind.

Love and Sire,’ the soul added, even as it curled around the demon to no violence.

‘Love…’ the demon muttered acceptingly, wrapping itself just as tightly around the soul as warm, supple darkness flowed over them.

* * * * *

He didn’t feel all that different, really. Not like he’d changed or anything.

No, it was more like… he’d acquired an additional sense, and since that sense was of Spike, he truly didn’t mind.

“I can feel you,” he whispered against soft, cool skin, holding the vampire tightly to his chest. “Inside me, Spike. I can feel you…”

“Amazing, that is,” the blond mumbled, even as he shook the last of the lethargy from his mind, “What with me being in front of you and all, luv.”

Xander laughed and bit teasingly at the nape of Spike’s neck, humming his content. “Mmmm… guess we’ll have to fix that, baby. It’s been… too long. But I meant in a totally non-physical way. I… feel you. I know you’re…”

Spike shifted a bit, twisting and turning until he finally managed to face his… Xander. “Know I’m what, pet?” he purred, one hand sliding up silken ribs. “Yours?”

His laugh, when it came, was breathless and wondrous. “Y-yeah, Spike. Mine. And Gods know how or why, but I think… fuck. Somehow, I think I was waiting. All those years, Spike, even when I knew you were dust. I was waiting. For you.”

The vampire frowned and shook his head. “Don’t rightly know where I was, yeah? Somewhere. I… almost remember sometimes, but…” he shrugged. “Guess I was waiting too, wasn’t I?” He’d wondered many a time just why he’d come back, but for the most part he’d been too glad of it to question it very deeply. Still, maybe this was the reason. Maybe Xander was the reason. And if he were going to be honest, he couldn’t think of a better one. “Good to be here, Xan,” he added, losing himself in the man’s warm brown eyes.

Tanned fingers found the mark on Spike’s chest, tracing it lightly as Xander nodded. “Welcome home, Spike,” was all he could manage to say before the lure of full pink lips became too much.

* * * * *

He came out of the kiss on his back, legs spread wide to the slow thrust of slick fingers opening him almost delicately, and when he blinked, he was entirely unsurprised to find a deeply aroused blond staring back at him. “Spike,” he moaned softly, one leg rising just a little to press thigh to hard, seeping flesh. “Gods, baby… yes…”

That was enough, Spike figured, to show that his bloke still needed their original arrangement, even if things had become a good bit more serious than either of them had initially intended. “Have to agree, pet,” he muttered before pressing his lips to Xander’s again, tongue sliding past teeth to tangle with the equally slick and flexible muscle that resided behind them. His fingers moved deeper, keeping the slow, steady stretch going, and when the time came, a third digit was added; then a fourth as he rocked against the lightly-haired thigh beneath his groin.

Good Gods, Spike was trying to kill him… and if death were an option, this was how Xander wanted to go. He whimpered into that wonderfully talented mouth, arching against the sheets when first one finger, then another tapped at his prostate, and if Spike didn’t get the hell in him soon, he might just toss the vampire down and ride him hard and…

But no… this was what Spike needed, and after everything he’d put his Mate through, he’d be damned if he was going to tell him ‘no’; especially now. Still, “Please,” he gasped, dragging his lips from sheer perfection for a bare moment or two, “please, baby…”

The vampire swallowed hard and nodded. “Y-yeah… enough foreplay, isn’t it?” His brow furrowed for a second. “Or would that be mid-play, seeing as we’ve been… ohhh…”

Brown eyes sparkled as a hand slipped between them, fingers wrapping around the long, ready cock seeping against his skin. “Just… enough play, Spike. F-for n-now… please…”

And yeah, his bloke was right about that. Possibly more right than he’d ever been about anything except claiming him.

Slick, elegant fingers pulled slowly from the tight heat and Spike raised himself, settling back onto his knees. The open lubricant was quickly found and he couldn’t help hissing slightly as he applied a liberal dollop to his tip, his skin shivering slightly as the thick, viscous fluid dripped slowly down his length. “Over, luv,” he spoke silkily, finally stroking himself as his bloke simply turned and pressed up onto all fours. “So bloody lovely, pet,” he sighed.

Cool, slippery hands on his hips had him moaning. The sharp, indrawn breath he heard made him keen. And when he felt that twitching, slick, seeping head press against his hole for the first time in… Gods, it felt like forever… Xander cried out wordlessly, pushing back into the slow burn, into the needed pain, onto the desperately desired cool-slick-mine that pierced him fully.

His arms wrapped tightly around that solid, hot waist as he slid in those last few inches until his sac slapped lightly against his love’s, and when he moved back, he took his bloke with him, settling him firmly on his lap, so deep, “So deep, luv,” he murmured into one reddened ear. “So deep, Xan… so bloody deep in you, pet…” and after far too many days and nights of not being right where he was, the sensation was like a revelation.

“Belong right here, I do,” Spike groaned, arms loosening to let his hands move slowly, possessively, lovingly over bronzed skin, tensing muscle. “Belong here, Xander, buried balls-deep inside you… feeling you wrapped so tight and hot around me. Almost don’t want to move, luv… could stay here just like this for days, pet…”

Oh, Gods… oh, fucking Gods… His legs spread wider over his vampire’s thighs, finding purchase on the mattress and he settled back just a bit more, gasping as the small motion filled him nearly to bursting. One shuddering breath flew from Xander’s lips as his head dropped back onto Spike’s shoulder and he gasped softly. “Y-yes…” he somehow made himself say, losing any further words in the sharp pleasure of long, pale fingers pinching hard at his budded nipples.

Blond hair rubbed lightly against tanned skin and Spike chuckled softly. “Next time,” he moaned into the crook of his love’s neck. “Next time, luv… we’ll do that.” His hands slid lower, finding and fondling the achingly hard shaft his bloke sported, one moving lower still to cup Xander’s tightening sac, and when that heated, needy body arched slightly into the touch, Spike arched as well, hips rising a mere inch or so, filling his love again.

“Uhhhhnnnn…” Once again, he was reduced to grunts and sighs, but Xander didn’t mind that at all. Not when he felt this way, not when Spike—his Spike, all his—was making him feel this way, and… and he heard-felt-sensed that soft, erotic crinkle of shifting bone and cartilage; knew the first nearly gentle prick of sharp teeth at his neck, and as much as he wanted this to go on and on and on and never stop, never end, never… finish… it was a lost hope because the second he felt those teeth drive deep and jagged; the moment he knew for sure that the belonging went both ways, he…

‘Mine, mine now, mine always, always mine,’ Spike heard-felt inside him, and damn him if he knew whether it was his soul or his demon or whatever combination of the two made up him, but whatever it was, he knew it was right. Right and true and unquestionably the smartest part of him because he was drinking his bloke in, drinking Xander in, and he tasted of fire and earth and burnt cinnamon and love, and he’d never known anything like it—like him.

And when he felt that lovely, thick cock pulse in his hand, felt hot, rich fluids spill over his fingers, felt the almost unbearable tightening around him, he couldn’t help but cry out, the sound muffled by his Xander’s hot skin and even hotter blood as he arched and shuddered and drank some more, coming hard and deep within the flexing channel… and the brand on his chest throbbed in time with his love’s rabbit-fast heart.

‘Mine-mine. Mine-mine. Mine-mine.’

And if the beating Spike’s heart echoed was marking its own litany, then who was to know that it was comprised entirely of…

‘Mine. Always, always mine. Mate. My-Mate. My-Mate. Mine.’

* * * * * * * * *


And so, dear future reader, should you exist, the Magus Prime—also known as Xander Harris—claimed and marked his Mate, which did of course have some rather serious repercussions.

Spike brought nothing obvious to their Mating, after all, aside from himself and a rather curious reputation. That he was also believed to be the last of the Aurelian Order did not advance his suitability for the position he was to occupy.

It is possibly a shame that the Council of Mages had no ability to see into the future because things would have undoubtedly gone quite differently without their interference. Or if not differently, as such, then at least far less dramatically.

Still, Mages have never been known for thinking ahead. Perhaps they believed themselves to be infallible simply because of their Power.

I have abandoned my brother’s accounting completely for my own. Those interested may simply compare the two and draw their own conclusions.

I will say, however, that Liam’s retelling of events does not include certain questions, such as:

Where was the ‘original’ Slayer, Buffy Summers, during these events… and what of those pesky Darksiders?

Who was the human watching Spike before he became Xander’s Mate?

What of the Order of Octavius? Would they remain as honor-bound as Spike had heard?

And what of Fa… Lex’s shifter-friend? Had he actually managed to take what had once been so freely offered?

No, my brother considers these questions to be irrelevant and peripheral to History. Possibly because he’s an enormous prat who wouldn’t know ‘important’ if it leapt up and bit him on his sadly mis-shapen ass… and possibly because he delights in disagreeing with me.

The questions as they stand are entirely worth asking. However…

I don’t have the answers myself as yet, but I continue my search.

Not for your edification, future reader, but for my own.

The End ~ For Now

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The Spander Files