Old Blood


7 Rabble-Rouser

Xander knew he was glaring at people again, but he found it hard to care. He had no interest in being there, but he was aware of the amount of suspicion it would arouse if he missed two meetings in one week, and he’d already canceled once, claiming a work conflict, uncertain if he’d be able to keep his control if he went. He felt stronger tonight, more in command of his child-like alter ego than just a few days ago, but when he was here at the Giles’ apartment, in the presence of his friends, the child was more likely to emerge at unlikely moments, and that made him jumpy.

Spike was watching him closely, and that helped. He felt more secure knowing that he had backup. The vampire was sharp, and quick-witted. If he slipped up too badly, he was confident that Spike would catch him before he got too far out of control. He’d already snapped at Giles, and made an off-color remark that had scandalized Willow; he couldn’t afford to raise their suspicions again. He was still trying to find a way to rid himself of this crew without them hounding him down and attempting to ‘cure’ him. He hated the feeling of being trapped like this, and of course that fed into his discomfort.

Spike’s wide-eyed stare made him concentrate once again and realize that he was practically growling at Willow again. Tara was frowning at him, and Anya looked puzzled, her head tilted to one side, as she often did when she had come across yet another human trait that confused her. She opened her mouth, but before she could speak, Spike jumped in, his bored, nonchalant air at odds with his sharp, alert eyes.

“This is bloody ridiculous. How many of the intermediate phalanx bones do they need to gather to make this all important paste?”

“The number is unclear. It seems to vary with regards to the sex and age of the person who is to become the seer their spell will create.”

“Why just the right hand, do you think?” Tara held out both her hands, eying them critically. “And just that one little bone?”

Willow took Tara’s right hand in hers, playing with the fingers as she spoke. “Well, the right hand thing probably has to do with the reluctance of many cultures to use the left hand for important tasks. Historically, they often considered it evil, or dirty, because they used the left hand for…ummm. That is, sometimes they – I mean…well...” Willow’s words died off awkwardly. If her blush got any deeper, she’d be as red as the cover of the book she was currently doing her best to hide behind.

Spike clearly knew what she was trying to say, but he led her on. “Do tell, Red.”

“Spike! You know!” Tara patted her shoulder understandingly, smiling faintly.

“You’re talking about the fact that many people use only the left hand to clean themselves after they evacuate, aren’t you?”

Xander chuckled briefly. Anya always had managed to get to the heart of things. For her, evacuate was remarkably circumspect.

“Ewww.” Buffy took the purple lollipop out of her mouth, and stared at it, although Xander wasn’t sure how she was making the connection between ‘evacuation’ and a lollipop. He didn’t want to know, either. Of all Xander’s friends, the slayer was the one he liked least. He was angered by the way she treated Spike, and he’d come close to jumping up to stop her from challenging him earlier in the evening, when Spike made some offhand remark that angered her. She had best learn that Xander was a very possessive man, and didn’t take lightly to having one he claimed as his own abused.

Spike glanced in his direction, one eyebrow raised, and Xander schooled his features, wiping away the snarl he’d unconsciously raised as he thought of the slayer. He’d have to take care of her soon; she was wearing on his nerves.

“Yes, thank you for that image, Anya.” She smiled at Giles brightly, and he gave his glasses an extra wipe as he blinked at her myopically. “I’m sure that we can find a more suitable topic. Or perhaps we could go back to searching for spells that can turn a demon into a seer that include as an ingredient the intermediate phalanx bone.” As usual, Giles managed to bring the conversation to a dead halt.

Buffy wasn’t finished, yet. “I don’t get what this spell has to do with a mythical bird.”

Giles stared at her blankly, as did everyone else in the room until Willow spoke up, breaking their concentration. “You know mythical but not... Buffy, see, you are smart!"

Spike rolled his eyes while Buffy grinned at them smugly, sticking her lollipop back in her mouth, her cheeks hollowing out as she sucked.

Xander watched, idly wondering how slayer powers would affect someone’s ability to give a blowjob. He smiled slyly when Spike’s spiteful response revealed his jealously of Xander’s obviously transparent attentions.

“Oh, yes, Mensa smart, I’d say. After all, it takes quite an IQ to mistake phoenix for phalanx.”


Xander turned back to Spike, hoping his smile conveyed that he had no interest in Buffy that extended beyond the occasional fantasy. He was pleased to see Spike relax, draping his body over his chair, slouching as he spread his legs wide. Xander’s eyes traced his lean body appreciatively.


He blinked, bringing his mind back to the situation. Willow was watching him worriedly, biting her lip again. It was uncanny the way the complex interplay of emotions between the Child Xander and his closest friend Willow allowed him to recognize the subtle differences between similar facial movements. The way she was biting her lip his time meant that she was concerned about something that she was afraid to mention.

“Huh?” He thought it best to go with thick and stupid.

“Are you okay?” She shrugged, playing with Tara’s hand where it lay clasped in her own, on the book in her lap. “I mean, you’ve been awfully quiet tonight.”

“Oh, yeah. Just tired. Busy day at work, you know? And sitting here not doing anything just makes me want to take a nap.”

As expected, Giles interrupted with a reminder. “Well, you could avoid that by reading the book you’re holding.”

“Yeah, right. Like that would keep me awake. Sorry G-Man, I can feel my brain cells grinding to a complete halt just thinking about it.” Xander tried drawing on the memories of his alter ego, struggling for what to say next. Fortunately Spike came to his rescue before he could make a mess of it.

“Did you know that there are twenty-seven bones in the human hand?” Spike held up his right hand, turning it back and forth as his thin, pale fingers flexed quickly up and down, like a magician threading a coin through them, performing some sleight of hand.

“What? What are you talking about Spike.” Buffy waved her lollipop at him, wielding it like a sword.

“Only two hundred and nine bones in the whole of the human body.” He stretched out, clasping his hands behind his head, his long, lean legs stretched out in front of him, crossed at the ankle.


“So one quarter of all the bones in your body are in your hands. With twenty-six bones in each foot,” he waved a boot in her direction, “half of all your bones are in your hands and feet.”

“H-how do you know that, Spike?” Tara stared at him contemplatively.

“You sure you want to know, Glinda?” An image of Spike studying at Angelus’ right hand as they discussed the nature of human bones under severe strain flashed into Xander’s head in graphic detail.

She paled as she thought it out. “Oh. Maybe not.”

“The hands and feet are popular targets for torture.” Anya obviously knew where Spike was headed. “Hands have an enormous amount of nerve endings, and they’re so mobile.”

Giles left the room about then, and Xander thought of the time he’d spent in Angelus’ gentle care when they were trying to raise Acathla. That must have hurt like hell.

“Hands make the perfect place to start an interrogation,” Anya continued blithely, totally missing the distressed noises coming from the direction of the kitchen. “Or a perfect target for a vengeance demon.” She smiled fondly. “I once removed all the bones from the hands of a man who was more interested in masturbating over internet porn than he was in his wife.”

Spike was suitably impressed. “Now I like that. I pulled all the bones out of a spinal cord once.” Willow’s little squeak of protest got as much attention from Spike as Giles’ had from Anya. “Of course, the victim didn’t survive the experience, but I’ve always wondered how he would have got on, if he had.”

“That must have been difficult. Did you…”

“I do believe that is quite enough.” Giles came back into the room, slamming a tumbler half full of amber liquid onto the table next to his chair, sending what Xander was pretty sure was scotch sloshing over the rim. It looked as if they’d passed his threshold a while back, and he was now resorting to liquid courage. “Spike, do not encourage Anya. The last thing we need at the moment is someone inciting misbehavior.”

Spike widened his eyes innocently, one hand on his breast. “Are you calling me a rabble-rouser?”

“Well you have gone out of your way to make your presence known today, haven’t you? You’re mischievous and distracting, and causing far more trouble than you usually do.” Giles’ eyes narrowed, suspiciously. “For that matter, why are you even here this early? I think you should go elsewhere for now, and come back in two hours for the evening patrol.”

Spike gasped in mock distress. “Rupert, I’m wounded!”

Giles was obviously having none of it. “Go, now.”

“Bloody hell. I’m not a school boy to be sent home early from class.” Spike glanced at Xander, but of course, couldn’t say anything to him without revealing their arrangement. Xander stared at him, reminding Spike that he'd made it clear that he wasn’t ready for that. Spike kept his mouth shut, his angry eyes and clenched jaw revealing his distress.

Buffy stood, advancing on Spike. “Stop it, Spike. Giles wants you out, so you need to leave. Now.”

“All right, all right.” Jumping out of his chair, he strode angrily to the door. “I’m leaving.” He turned back, one hand on the knob. “Are you happy now?”

“I’ll be happy when I’ve seen the last of you.” Giles waved one hand imperiously. “But this will do for now.”

“Bleeding prig.”

Buffy took another step in his direction. “Out.”

With one last glance at Xander, Spike left, slamming the door behind him for good measure.

Well, Spike had certainly taken their minds off Xander, but now he was without backup, and he seethed inside, angry at Spike for getting himself banned, and angry with himself for needing Spike here with him. He should be able to handle this on his own. Unfortunately, he’d proven that he couldn’t, and now he was stuck for the next several hours alone.

8 Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here

Giles took advantage of Spike’s exit to force everyone’s attention back to their research. It didn’t take long before he realized that Anya was eying him at every opportunity, and that worried him. The Scoobies tended to discount her based on her misunderstandings of human nature, ignoring her observations. But she noticed a lot, and it made him nervous that she was focusing her attention on him.

Finally he gave in to his unease, and closed his book with a snap, startling everyone in the room. Realizing everyone was now watching him, he shrugged self-consciously, hoping he wasn’t acting too far out of character. “I need a break. Donuts, anyone?”

He cringed inside, knowing he’d just perpetuated the idea of himself as the gofer, the goofy side-kick with no skills to speak of, aside from falling over and getting into trouble. Xander had been fighting that image for years, and he hated to remind anyone of it, but he had to get out of there soon or he was going to explode all over everyone, and that would definitely not help the situation.

He got out the door as quickly as possible, despite three sets of questions from Willow, Buffy and Anya, promising that he’d be back soon, he just needed to stretch his legs, and yes, he was carrying his stake and cross, and no, he didn’t need any company, thanks. He stopped in the courtyard of Giles' apartment, tilted his head back to stare at the night sky, and took a deep breath, relaxing for the first time in hours.

“About time you got here, you stupid blighter.”

He swung around, snapping angrily. “What the hell did you say to me, Spike?”

Spike dropped his eyes, staring at the ground in front of the wall he was leaning against. “Sorry. I’ve just been waiting for a long time. Wasn’t sure you’d get away. Didn’t know what I should do.”

He got up in Spike’s face, crowding him back against the bricks. “Don’t ever speak to me with that tone again.” He paused to make his point clear. “Do you understand me?”

“Said I’m sorry, didn’t I? Just been standing out here a long time, is all, trying to figure out what to do. Almost went back to the crypt, but it seemed a bit silly, having to come right back again later.”

Xander remembered Spike admitting that he wasn’t really welcome in the demon bars anymore, and even a single human could take him out - he’d be totally defenseless against them, so human bars were out as well. He nodded his understanding.

“Too bad you couldn’t stay in the apartment, but Giles was pretty adamant about you getting out. Next time, don’t push it so far. Giles is fairly sensitive about torture.”

“Right. Didn’t think about that until he kicked me out. I’d forgotten the number Angelus did on Giles' hands or I’d have never mentioned it.” He grinned wickedly. “Well, not when I needed to stick around, anyroad. Might make use of it in the future, however.”

“Just not when I need you with me.”

“Right.” Xander liked the way Spike shrugged self-consciously when Xander reminded him how much he counted on Spike, as if he wasn’t sure how to deal with a compliment. “It’s difficult. They don’t like me hanging about.”

“I know.” Xander backed away, turning to pace fretfully. “Hopefully, I’ll figure a way out of this soon.”

“We could simply leave. We don’t have to stick around here.” Spike looked nervous, as if he wasn’t sure exactly how long Xander would want him around. “They’re not going to help me get the chip out, and the Initiative is gone. I have no reason to stay.”

Xander shook his head. “No. If we took off, they’d hunt us down. They’d never believe I left of my own free will.”

“They’d blame me for it, I know that much.” He laughed shortly. “It would be Mr. Pointy for me, if they knew what we got up to of a night.”

Xander crossed back in his direction, not liking the idea of Spike in danger, but uncertain of what he could do to fix it. “I don’t want to leave yet, anyway. I like it here. The energy the Hellmouth gives off is exhilarating. I can feel it in my bones. It makes me hard.”

“Yeah?” Spike leered at him. “And here I thought that was me.”

Xander stepped closer, until they could almost touch. “Well, I have to admit, the way you sprawled over that chair earlier, spreading your thighs for me, showing off like that – I wanted to grab you by your hair and shove my cock down your throat.”

“I know.” He licked his dry lips. “I could smell you from across the room.”

“You could, could you?” Xander grinned. Too bad he didn’t have enhanced senses like that. He’d love to know what Spike smelled like right now. He looked like a wet dream, eyes wide with lust, licking his lips like he could almost taste Xander already. He leaned closer, rubbing their bodies together as he molded himself against Spike, their lips an inch apart. “Can you smell me now?”

“Oh, yeah.” He took a deep sniff, his eyes closing in pleasure. “You smell even better close up.”

Xander crushed their mouths together, tired of flirting, anxious to get to the point. Spike responded eagerly, moaning into Xander’s mouth, sucking on his tongue, his arms wrapped around Xander, hands squeezing his ass. Xander slid his leg between Spike’s, giving them both something to rub against, and they set up a quick pace, thrusting and arching and twisting together, desperately clutching each other in their eagerness for more.

It wasn’t enough. Xander pulled back long enough to put both legs between Spike’s, hitching one of Spike’s legs over his hip to get a better angle, bringing their cocks into alignment, the denim of their jeans adding to the friction between them.

“Bloody hell!”

Spike got the idea, and wrapped both his legs around Xander’s waist, letting Xander carry his weight, arching into his thrusts, throwing his head back against the wall so Xander could use his teeth, a ring of bites in the pale flesh that Xander regretted would fade too soon.

“Oh, my god!” Spike and Xander froze. That was Buffy’s voice.


“Anya!” That would be Willow.

“What do you mean, shhh?” Buffy replied indignantly. “Xander and Spike are having sex in Giles' courtyard and you’re telling me to shhh?”

“See what you did? Now they’re stopping!”

“Thank the goddess! I told you there was something wrong, Buffy. Spike must have thralled Xander!” Willow’s voice was getting higher and higher.

“Fuck.” Xander set Spike down, reluctantly.

“Not quite, regrettably.” Spike shifted, readjusting his cock as he looked around Xander’s shoulder nervously, obviously looking for a stake aimed his direction.

Xander sighed and turned around, keeping his body between Buffy and Spike – this was not going to be pretty. He mustered up his best Child Xander goofy smile.


Stake in one hand, Buffy stormed in his direction. “Move out of the way, Xander.”

Xander pushed Spike back against the wall, panic making the anger inside him surge forward, “Don’t you touch him, Buffy.”

She grabbed Xander’s arm, but he jerked away from her, shaking his head. “I mean it, Buffy, if you touch him, I’ll hurt you.”

She stepped back, shocked. “Xander?”

“What the hell is going on here?” Giles’ voice drifted up from the stairs.

“Hail, hail,” Spike’s smart ass voice drawled from behind him, “the gang’s all here.”

Tara practically pushed Giles up the stairs, and he came to a halt several feet away from Buffy. Willow ran over to him, babbling and clinging to his arm.

“There was…I mean, they were kissing, and there was touchage and thrusting and boots in the air and Xander wouldn’t do that if something wasn’t wrong. I mean, there has to be something wrong, right? If Xander would do that with Spike. Not Spike!”

“Oi, what’s wrong with me?”

Xander elbowed Spike in the ribs. He wasn’t helping his own case.

Willow kept going, right over Spike’s protest. “And there was cursing and grunting and then there were threats and Tara says his aura is all weird. Something has to be wrong, Giles! It has to be!”

Tara wrapped her arm around Willow, one hand touching her cheek, turning her to face Tara. “Willow, honey. You have to breathe.”

Willow whooped in a huge lungful of air, then burst out coughing. Tara patted her on the back, cautiously watching the rest of the group.

“Would someone mind translating that into English?” Xander knew that look. As Spike would say, Giles was definitely not in the mood for silly chits.

“Oh, me!” Anya waved her hand in the air. “When we got here, Xander and Spike were making out up against the wall. Spike had his legs wrapped around Xander’s waist and Xander’s hips were moving…”

Giles interrupted, holding up one hand to stop her. “Thank you, Anya, I believe I have the idea, now.”

“I didn’t even get to the good part. Spike was all…” she dropped her voice low, “‘Bloody hell!’ and ‘Xander’…”

“Please, Anya.” Buffy interrupted impatiently. “I saw it once already, I don’t need the slomo with sound effects. Okay?” She stepped forward again. “I just need Xander to move so I can beat a few answers out of Spike.”

“Buffy.” Giles placed a restraining hand on her arm. “I don’t think that is the best course of action right now.”

“It’s not?” Willow sounded honestly confused.

“Perhaps we should all step inside, and discuss this quietly, away from prying neighbors?”

They all looked around; it was a particularly quiet night. Giles rolled his eyes. “Inside, people. Now.”

Tara pulled Willow toward the stairs, and Anya reluctantly trailed along, glancing back to see if she was missing anything when the others didn’t automatically follow.

Xander hated to leave the relatively open space of the courtyard, where he knew that Spike had a better chance of escaping if necessary. He shook his head. “I’d rather not, Giles. I don’t trust Buffy.”

Giles glanced between the two, confusedly. “I offer you my word, Xander. No one will harm you.”

Xander crossed his arms. “It’s not me I’m worried about.”

Giles looked surprised, but nodded. “Buffy will give you her word that she will not harm Spike.”

“I will?”

“Yes, you will. And you will hand the stake over to me.” She frowned at him. He held out his hand. “Now.”

She dropped her stake into his open palm reluctantly, glaring at Spike over Xander’s shoulder. “All right. No slayage. For now.”

Xander shook his head, angrily. “Not good enough. No slayage, ever.”

“I’m not going to promise never to slay Spike, Xander. If he gets that chip out, the first one he’ll come after is you.”

Spike growled, pushing at Xander in an attempt to move him out of the way. When that didn’t work, he just pointed his finger at her over Xander’s shoulder. “The first one I’ll come after is you, Slayer.”

Both Xander and Giles spoke at the same time. “Shut up, Spike.”


Xander rolled his eyes. He could practically hear Spike’s pout.

“Just tell her to stay away from me.”

Giles glared at Spike before turning to his slayer. “Buffy. You will do nothing to harm Spike until we know exactly what is going on here, is that clear?”

“Oh, that makes me feel better.” Xander huffed a brief laugh at Spike’s petulant response.

“It’s the best you’re going to get,” Giles snapped, “so shut up and get inside, all of you.” He stood there watching as they filed down the steps, then followed them down.

Xander grabbed Spike and sat him on one of the stools by the bar, as far away from Buffy as possible. He found himself calculating distances, knowing that Spike could move fast if he needed to. If he had to, Xander could slow Buffy down. She’d do her best to avoid hurting Xander, and he’d do what he had to, to stop her from dusting Spike. Spike was his, and he wasn’t going to let anything happen to him.

Giles closed the door behind him and stood there, staring at them all, one at a time. When he looked at Spike, his eyes narrowed in speculation, and Xander stepped between them automatically, sensing the threat implicit in Giles’ look. Willow had watched the interplay quietly, but when she saw that, she spoke up again.

“You see what I mean, Giles? Xander is being all protective of Spike. Spike! There has to be something wrong. He hates Spike.”

Anya sighed dramatically, plopping down in the closest chair. “How you can call yourself Xander’s best friend simply amazes me sometimes. Xander and Spike have been friends for a long time, now.”

“They have?” This, from Buffy, who was still watching Spike cautiously, as if he was going to go on a killing spree at any moment, chip or no chip.

“Of course they have.” She waved her hand at Buffy and Willow dismissively. “While you’ve been off doing college things, Xander’s been meeting Spike at the Bronze to play pool and eat spicy wings.” Buffy and Willow looked at each other, surprised.

“How do you think Xander knew Spike had been trying to separate you three under orders from Adam? Spike admitted it to him when Xander got all upset about being told he should join the army. You don’t confess a secret like that if you don’t like the person you’re trying to trick.”

Buffy was the first to recover. “Yeah, but pool playing buddies is not the same thing as tonsil-hockey buddies, and there was some serious hockey going on out there.”

“How can you tell?” Anya took in Xander’s protective stance in front of Spike. “It’s different for guys, I think. Maybe pool and spicy wings are forms of foreplay for men, and we just don’t know because we’re women.”

Her eyes narrowed, and Xander spoke up quickly, not wanting to alienate the one somewhat friendly ally in the room. “We just started this summer, Ahn. I would never have cheated on you. You know that.”

She smiled, clearly relieved. “I know you wouldn’t, Xander. I still have many friends in the vengeance business; you’re too smart to do something that stupid.”

Willow looked hurt, and Xander braced himself. Child Xander was much more capable of dealing with Willow in any form, but he didn’t feel comfortable allowing him that much rein. He wasn’t sure exactly what to do. He hated this in-between state of flux he’d been dealing with the last several days, he needed to take full control and although he felt stronger every day, he only felt truly comfortable when he was alone with Spike.

“Xander?” Now that was a truly pitiful sound. Xander found himself crowding backwards, until Spike’s knee was planted in the small of his back and there was nowhere left to go. “Are you really dating Spike?”

Spike snorted. “I doubt you’d call it dating, Red. Mostly we just fuck ea...”

“And the less we hear about that, the better, thank you,” Giles interrupted. “I’m more concerned about what you mentioned earlier, Willow. Something about their auras?”

Willow brightened. “Or Xander’s at least. Tara says it’s hard to read demon auras, since she doesn’t know much about them, but Xander’s aura is all wrong.”

Xander swallowed nervously. He’d hoped they’d concentrate on the fact that he and Spike were having sex, and let the rest drop, but it looked like things might get even more difficult.

He laughed, wincing when he heard how nervous he sounded. “What are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with me.” He shook his finger at Tara playfully. “Now look here, missy, no one gave you permission to snoop around my aura, now did they?”

Tara cringed back against the couch, and Willow took her hand protectively. “That’s not nice, Xander. I asked her. She was trying to help.”

Spike put his hand on Xander’s back, and Xander bit back his words. Apparently, his attempt at silly Xander joking wasn’t as convincing as he’d hoped.

Giles glared at Xander before turning to Tara. “What exactly did you see, Tara?”

She blushed heavily, but encouraged by Willow’s smile, spoke up quietly. “W-w-well, Xander’s aura has a strange…I-I-I-I’m not sure how to say this, bu-but it’s almost like a n-n-n-negative glow.”

Her stutter was strong, but she persisted, and as she warmed to her subject, her voice got firmer and more comfortable. “A normal aura expands ou-outward, glowing more faintly as it gets fa-farther away from the body. Bu-bu-but the edges of his aura are so-so-soaking up light instead. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Okay, that’s just weird.” Xander turned to look at Spike, uncertainly. Spike stared back at him, his face blank; he wasn’t getting any help from that direction. He stepped to the side so he could see Spike more easily, being careful to stay between Buffy and Spike. “Don’t you guys think…”

“Do be quiet, Xander. I’m trying to think.” Giles’ attitude really pissed Xander off. He hated to be dismissed like that, and Giles was really getting on his nerves. He could feel the rage he’d held inside himself for days growing, and tried desperately to tamp it down.

“See? There’s something wrong, Giles. Maybe Spike thralled Xander, like Drusilla did with Kendra, remember?” Her eyes got big and round and her voice got higher and higher the longer she talked. “He did something to Xander to make him like Spike, and now he’s using Xander, and it’s just not right! We have to do something.”

Xander clenched his fists, fighting the impulse to just slap the silly bitch. She had no idea what she was talking about, and he hated that she simply assumed that he was incapable of making such a choice for himself.

“Is that possible, Giles? Did Spike do something to Xander?”

“It’s possible, Buffy, although I haven’t come across any mention of Spike being capable of such a thing. However, he spent many years with Drusilla, who is quite familiar with the technique.”

“Oi! As if I’m not capable of attracting his attention without mojo!”

Giles frowned at Spike, and Xander froze, uncertain if he should stay between Buffy and Spike, step over to protect him from Giles, or slap a hand over Spike’s mouth so he couldn’t say anything else.

“I didn’t do a thing to him he didn’t ask for, and let me tell you, he’s a very demanding lover, so I’ve done plenty. But it was consensual – every bit of it.”

Xander’s head was spinning, and he fought to keep his control, but he felt torn in so many different directions that he literally couldn’t move until Buffy stormed over, and he finally shook loose of the paralysis that had gripped him.

“Shut up, Spike.”

“Stay away from him, Slayer!” He didn’t remember moving, but he was toe to toe with Buffy, staring down at her angrily. Spike was right behind him, Xander could feel his strong hand at the small of his back. He kept his focus on Buffy, and hoped Spike had enough presence of mind to keep an eye on the watcher.

His entire body vibrated with tension, and if she made one more move toward Spike he’d see exactly how far he could drive his fist into her face. Spike was his, and no one touched what belonged to him.

Buffy stared up at him in confusion. “Slayer?”

“See, Giles, something is definitely wrong.” Willow chimed in, making Xander snarl in anger. Someone needed to teach that little bitch to mind her own business. “He’s not acting at all Xander-like. Spike must have thralled him, he must have!”

Xander laughed at her, taking a step back from Buffy as she looked over at Willow. “Spike didn’t thrall me, you stupid bitch. He belongs to me, not the other way around.”

They all gasped at his comment, although he wasn’t sure if it was the bitch comment, or the truth of who was owned by whom that had surprised them, and to be honest, he didn’t care. He was tired of all the games. It was time for them to meet the new Xander.

“Xan…” Spike stepped up to his side, but Xander shook his head.

“Not now, Spike. They need to know that I’m tired of all their childish behavior. I won’t be treated that way anymore.”

“Xander?” Buffy took a step in his direction, but Xander cut her off.

“You stay right where you are, Slayer, until we’ve come to an agreement.” She looked around the room, quickly, and at Giles’ gesture, she nodded.

“Okay. What kind of an agreement are we talking about?”

“I won’t have you touching Spike. Spike is mine, and if you touch him, I’ll have to kill you. Is that understood?”

“What do you mean, Spike is yours?” Giles’ curiosity had apparently overcome his good sense, and Buffy frowned at him as Xander’s attention turned to her watcher.

“What? Like you own him? Did he sell himself to you or something?” Buffy could be so transparent sometimes. She was clearly trying to keep his attention off Giles. That was fine with him, though. Despite the fact that Giles was dangerous in his own right, he was nothing compared to his slayer.

“Oh, are you interested in renting him out? I’d be willing to pay…”

Buffy slapped one hand over Anya’s mouth, but Xander just laughed. Anya never failed to amuse him. He cocked one eyebrow as if in thought. “How much?”

“Oi!” Spike hit him soundly on the arm. “There will be no renting me out.”

“No, of course not, Spike. I wouldn’t dream of it.” But he couldn’t get rid of his grin.

Buffy shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest. “I don’t believe it. If Spike belongs to you, prove it.”

“Spike!” Spike jumped, turning to Xander, his eyes wide in shock at the command in his voice.

“On your knees.”

Spike fell to the floor, landing with a loud thump on the polished wood, his eyes downcast, as they properly belonged. There was a collective gasp around the room before, as expected, Spike glanced up angrily.

“Don’t do that!”

Xander arched his brow, and Spike dropped his eyes again, still angry, it was easy to tell, but it didn’t matter. Xander would repay him for his obedience later. He curled one hand around the back of Spike’s neck possessively, and glanced around the room.

“Anything else you want to know?”