Nominated in the Slashfest 2003 Awards.
Nominated in the Raison d'etre Awards 2005
"Go to hell, Spike!" Xander exclaimed, balling his fists.
"What makes you think I'm not already there," Spike snapped back. "You have no idea—"
"How hard it is? Yeah it looks real hard to me. Especially the part where you strut around impressionable girls going through that Anne Rice routine. And I don't think hell comes with regular meals, hot showers and cable."
"I'm teaching the potentials how to fight. You think you can do better? Why don't we call them and you show them how to fix windows?"
"Why don't we call them and you tell them why you got that soul and what you tried to do to Buffy?"
"Fuck you, Harris!"
"Fuck you, Spike!"
Suddenly fists were flying. Xander managed to duck one blow and land one of his own but then a punch sent him flying. He was lucky to land on the sofa.
A moment later, Spike was thrown against the opposite wall. The impact was hard enough to crack the plaster. "Enough!" Buffy said, her voice sharp and dangerous. "Are you two out of your minds?"
Spike picked himself up from the floor while Xander scrambled into an upright and more dignified position. Then they were both talking at the same time: "Harris here, always pickin' on me—" "I'm just saying we shouldn't let him—"
"Shut up! The First is out there, waiting to devour all of us and you're at each other's throats?" Buffy continued, her arms folded in front of he chest. "I don't care what you do, but get it out of your system. Both of you. And until you do, get out of my sight."
The two men stared at each other with loathing.
Then Spike nodded slowly. "I think I might have an idea."
"Spike, about that offer you made. Those sixty minutes of payback."
"Yeah? What of it?"
"I've been thinking about it, and I changed my mind. There IS something I'd like to do." Xander had said, looking strangely nervous but also quite determined.
Then they had discussed the arrangement calmly and rationally, trying to make sure that they both knew the score.
"Right," Spike had finally said. "When and where?"
"Tomorrow night at ten. My apartment. You'll need this. I suggest you come prepared." Xander had put something into Spike's shirt pocket, patted his back condescendingly and left.
Spike had checked the pocket and stared in disbelief at a small tube of lube.
Now he stood outside of Xander's apartment, a nervous flutter in his stomach. One hour. Sixty minutes. He could take it, he told himself. He'd withstood Angelus's and Darla's skilful attempts to break him; survived the random acts of torture Drusilla had inflicted on him, whenever some unfathomable whim made her want to punish her dollies; he'd even managed to hold on to his pride (and knowledge) while in Glory's clutches. Not to mention First Evil's mind games, the harbingers' daggers or some of the things he and Buffy had done to each other.
Harris was an amateur. Sure, he had a nasty streak in him, no doubt about it. Always ready to verbally lash out and cut others to pieces with that vicious tongue of his. But Harris lacked a vampire's innate cruelty. Whatever the human would come up with had to be a piece of cake for a vampire, right?
There was just one tiny little problem. Ever since he'd won his soul back, Spike had found it hard to tap into the monster. In fact, he'd done his utmost to push it into the farthest corner of his mind. He was a man now, or trying to be. And not a very brave man.
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to hand Harris the power to act out his fantasies and turn words into deeds. Spike swallowed, and knocked.
The door was opened almost immediately.
The two men looked at each other in mutual dislike. Neither had dressed for the occasion. Both were wearing their usual garb.
"I guess the fact that you're here means you've decided to go through with it, am I right?" Xander asked.
"Right. Gimme your best shot," Spike replied with more bravado than he actually felt.
"Oh I will. Come in." Xander lifted his arm and pressed a button on his wristwatch, starting the timer. "Sixty minutes," he said.
Spike nodded and stepped inside.
"Turn around and close the door."
Xander stepped behind him and something hard and smooth was placed around Spike's neck and shut with a click. A thin metal collar that felt strangely cold on his skin. Spike suppressed a shudder.
"It suits you," Xander said mockingly, then: "Strip."
Spike wordlessly began to unbutton his shirt. "Just shoes and pants," Xander told him. Spike let his hands drop to his fly to comply. He took off of his shoes and slipped out of his skin-tight jeans. Behind him he could hear a zipper being pulled down.
Spike discarded his pants, then stood motionless. Every instinct screamed at him to run or fight.
Spike spread his legs, then leaned forward, placing his palms above his head like a prisoner about to be frisked. One hour, he told himself. Sixty minutes. No, fifty-nine now.
He could smell the man's arousal, hear the frantic heartbeat pounding in the human's chest. Feel the heat from Xander's body on his skin even before there was contact.
A foot tapped against his ankle, nudging him to spread his legs further. A large callused hand clutched his hip, holding him steady, then the bulbous tip of an engorged cock pressed against his slicked entrance. He closed his eyes in apprehension. How bad could it be? He was a vampire, for God's sake. He'd been buggered before, although admittedly not in a very long time. Part of him was already crumbling, and that didn't bode well for the rest of the hour.
He should have smelled the trap for what it was last night, when Xander had asked: "How do I know you will hold up to your end of the bargain? You could change your mind halfway through. What then?"
Spike had shrugged.
"How about we up the ante a bit," Xander had suggested. "One hour, and you can always say 'stop' but if you do, you leave for good. Then you get out of Sunnydale and this time you stay away. "
Spike hadn't liked that at all, but he had agreed. And now there was no turning back.
He wasn't surprised when Xander asked: "Are you sure about this? This is what you want?" Spike gritted his teeth in humiliation but nodded.
Xander wasted no more time and forced himself inside. Spike willed himself to relax but his body instinctively tensed at the unwelcome intruder. He bit his lip, trying to keep the pain inside, as he was ruthlessly breached and quickly entered by a thick hard cock. It felt huge. Like it was splitting him in half. The feeling was indescribable. Spike took a shuddering breath.
For a moment neither of them moved. Spike could feel the human's pulse throbbing inside him as a strong heart pumped hot blood into the engorged flesh that was buried inside him. It could have been erotic, but the knowledge that he was being used made him sick rather than aroused.
A hand gripped a hank full of coarse bleached hair, and pulled his head backwards, forcing him to lift his chin and arch his neck to display the slender symbol of his temporary slavery.
"Man, you're tight." Xander said harshly into his ear. His breath smelled of alcohol and was almost unpleasantly hot on Spike's cheek. "How do you like my cock up your ass, Spike?"
Spike didn't answer. He was pretty certain that Harris didn't expect him to reply. Instead he wondered what the time was.
"Fifty-eight minutes," the human said, answering Spike's unspoken question. "I'm just getting started."
Then Xander began to fuck him with hard deep thrusts. It was brutal, fast and uncaring. Spike kept his eyes squeezed shut and counted to sixty. And again after that. That's how he knew that it didn't take long, even though it felt like forever. The pounding got more frantic, the sounds of breathing more irregular. Xander was talking to him, calling him an animal, a killer and a murderer, a traitor and a liar, a slut, a rapist, a monster.
Spike couldn't have agreed more. But he kept his mouth shut.
Fifty-three minutes. Maybe. He wasn't sure.
"Vamp out for me."
Bones shifted and morphed into feral features, blunt teeth elongated into fangs, eyes turned golden. There were other, more subtle changes: The light appeared brighter and the murmur of Xander's heartbeat turned into a deafening roar. The human's tangy scent of arousal, sweat, and bourbon became more pronounced and was seasoned by just a hint of fear. Only the pain stayed the same.
A dozen or more thrusts later Xander climaxed with a loud groan. Spike felt Xander's cock twitch inside him as his ass was flooded with burst after burst of come. A moment later the softening flesh was pulled out.
Spike didn't move. He felt cooling semen seeping out of his bruised hole and slowly running down his thigh. He felt filthy. He wondered how they'd ever be able to put this out of their minds, once the sixty minutes were over.
"What if you get a chance for payback?" Spike had asked, three nights ago, just after Buffy had thrown them out of the house.
"What? You want us to roll up our sleeves and fight it out? Is that the kind of chance where you beat me to a pulp with your superior vampire strength?"
"Not what I had in mind." Spike had answered, breaking two matches in an attempt to light his cigarette. "How about I give you one hour to get even, Harris."
"Huh? What do you mean, 'even?'"
"Payback time. One hour. With me. Alone. To do with as you please. You say it I do it. You dish it I take it. Anything you want."
"You mean I get to do what, beat you up for an hour and you don't fight back?"
"If that's what it takes to get you off my back."
"You fucked my fiancιe and tried to rape my best friend. You think beating you up for an hour is appropriate?"
"Then think of something appropriate," Spike had said. "But afterwards: truce. A clean slate."
Xander had dismissed the idea as ridiculous, but two days later he had approached Spike and made the deal. And now he was staring at a prone vampire who was lying spread-eagled on his bed, wrists and feet tied up with enchanted ropes.
When Spike's face shifted into his bestial features, Xander almost jumped in surprise. When the vampire gave no sign of coming to, he relaxed.
It was a peculiar sight. Xander had often seen Spike at his game, fangs gleefully flashing, eyes glowing in bestial amber. In a very disturbing way he'd always considered those feral features to be Spike's happy face. He'd never seen the vampire grit his fangs or squeeze his eyes shut like this. This wasn't just an expression of pain, this was abject misery.
Which was the purpose of the whole exercise.
Xander shifted uncomfortably and checked his watch. Fifty-one minutes. Time sure crawled when one was watching a dreaming vampire. There wasn't really much to see or do. Except maybe use this once in a lifetime opportunity to satisfy one's purely scientific curiosity. Slowly Xander put a hand on the vampire's face, tentatively exploring the bumpy ridges of his brow. They were softer than expected, cartilage rather than bone. Suddenly something shifted underneath his questing fingers. He could literally feel the change, as Spike's features became smooth and human again.
Xander hastily pulled back his hand and reached for his drink instead.
Spike listened quietly to the sounds of clothing being rearranged.
Spike obeyed. Xander looked slightly flushed. "Don't eyeball me!" the human snapped and Spike made sure that his gaze was directed downwards.
It took all of Spike's concentration to unbutton his shirt. He dropped it to the floor then pulled the T-shirt over his head and tossed that aside, too. He'd burn them later, along with his pants. He'd never be able to look at them again without remembering ....
Spike had always been comfortable with his body, impervious to shame or shyness. Funny how a soul had changed that. He had to resist the ridiculous urge to cover himself.
Spike nodded and walked into the bathroom. It had been modified for the occasion. The rugs and towels had been removed, and the usual clutter of toothbrushes, glasses, after-shave bottles and hair-care products had been cleared, making the room look bare and white, like a slaughterhouse waiting for the cattle to arrive. Above the bathtub a set of solid looking manacles had been expertly affixed to the wall. The bathroom smelled clean, freshly scrubbed.
As Spike took in the modifications, Harris walked up to him and stood behind him. "Makes everything much easier to clean, afterwards," he explained and Spike's stomach tightened.
Forty minutes to go. For the past five minutes or so, Spike had been violently twitching in his bonds, tossing his head and whimpering. Xander swallowed. If the vampire started to scream he'd have to gag him, unless he wanted his neighbors to call the police.
It had seemed like such a good idea. Something Anya would be proud of. Vengeance mixed with poetic justice and he wouldn't even get his hands - or mind - dirty.
It had been surprisingly easy to track down the sorcerer. The only difficulty had been to convince the man that Xander had no intention of interfering with him but meant to do business.
"I have just the thing for you," Ethan Rayne had said when Xander had explained his wishes over two drinks. "You don't want a simple illusion spell, my friend. Too inflexible. You need a proper vengeance charm."
"Oh no, no vengeance curses," Xander had exclaimed. "I've seen too many of those and besides, I don't want anything permanent to happen, like funny alternate universes in which we're all ruled by the Master or assimilated by Adam of Borg."
"Don't worry, it's not a proper curse, just a spell, but a nifty little bugger. Quite insidious. It worms itself into the sub-conscious, looking for hidden fears and all that pesky guilt and then crafts an elaborate fantasy around them."
"Like a nightmare."
"Better. Because you can give the fantasy a certain spin. You can't affect it directly, but if you plant certain fears in your subject's head just before the magic is triggered, the spell will take it from there. Also, the fantasy is so convincing, it's virtually indistinguishable from reality." The Englishman had smiled maliciously. "The spell literally creates a private hell."
It had sounded too good to be true.
"Are you sure you don't want me to stop? One word and you can go. No more pain. All you have to do is get the hell out of Sunnydale and never come back."
"No!" Spike shook his head. That was the one thing he couldn't do. Didn't Harris know that he had nowhere else to go? That Sunnyhell was his home now, for good or for worse?
He was kneeling in the bathtub, in a puddle of blood, presently unchained. He had lost track of time. Whenever possible he tried to catch a glimpse of the human's watch, trying to find out how much longer he'd have to endure the man's punishment.
"Buffy once said you're in love with pain, but that's not true, is it?" Xander mused, trailing the tip of his razor blade lightly along a wiry pale arm, leaving a thin red mark. "Tell me, Spike and I want the truth what are you really holding out for? What do you want?"
"I want you to stop hating me," Spike said quietly, wondering if an approximation of the truth was enough.
"Tsk tsk," Xander clucked in disapproval. The razor edge of the blade was withdrawn. "You really aren't the sharpest pencil in the box, Spike. Lie to me again and our deal is forfeit. 'Anything you want' those were your words. And what I want is the truth. Understood?"
Spike nodded his head.
"One more thing. Once the collar is snapped shut, make sure you don't touch it with your bare hands," Rayne had warned him, while pocketing the envelope with the money. "unless you're prepared to take a stroll in your subject's nightmare."
Xander stared at the writhing vampire. This had to be the longest hour of his whole life. The sixty minutes were almost up. Only twelve more minutes remained. How bad could it be? Angel had been in a real hell for ages and come out okay admittedly after a bout of insanity.
Twelve more minutes. He looked at the slim metal collar and the long white neck that was arched back in agony. Eleven minutes and forty seconds.
What had Rayne called it? 'Insidious' yes, it certainly was. Remote torture. The more he thought about it, the more callous and cowardly the whole concept seemed. It wasn't curiosity that made him reach for the collar. The least he could do was look Spike in the face when he dished out the pain...
Touching the cold metal was like touching a live wire: Pain! So much pain. Xander froze as his consciousness tumbled into the abyss.
"If it's punishment you want, then I have something for you, Spike."
Spike/Xander lifted his head, careful not to look at his torturer. He took the oblong parcel. It was much heavier than it looked. The wrapping consisted of thick cloth.
When Spike/Xander pulled back the flaps of fabric his fingers encountered cool metal. He uncovered a thick and heavy piece of steel, shiny and smoothly polished. It had a thick head at one end and an angular point at the other.
Spike/Xander stared at the object in horror and despair.
Dream-Xander had to repeat his command, before Spike/Xander picked the railroad spike up. The metal felt cool in his hand. Its weight felt sickeningly familiar.
"Now, where shall we put this?" The-other-Xander said.
With a shout Xander jerked back. "Oh god!"
He was still reeling from the flood of images and sensations. Everything had been so real! He could still feel the stillness of Spike's heart, the pain in his limbs and oh my god! his ass, the gut-churning nausea and the bitter taste of shame and despair. Damn Ethan Rayne! The sorcerer had failed to mention that getting sucked into the mind trip was a piggyback ride instead of a bird's eye view.
A choked scream from the bed spurred Xander into action.
He grabbed a corner of the sheet and tried to keep it between his prying fingers and the enchanted metal of the collar. He had to get it open. Several times the collar slipped out of his grasp as Spike jerked and tossed his head. Finally he got a good grip and nervously fumbled with the little latch, but somehow he couldn't get the mechanism to work. It took him at least a minute to realize that it was never meant to open. Ethan Rayne had suckered him.
Xander bolted out of the bedroom. Tools. Tools. Where were his tools? He found the toolbox, rummaged around in it, then turned it over and spilled everything onto the floor. There! He grabbed the heavy shears and rushed back into the bedroom.
Spike was thrashing around on the bed.
Xander tried to bring the shears near the collar but Spike was moving around too much. He had to climb on the bed and use his weight to pin the keening vampire down. After three tries he finally managed to snap the metal. Using the sheet like pot handles Xander pried the collar apart and tossed it as far away as he could.
Underneath him the thrashing vampire stilled.
"Spike? Wake up. Can you hear me?" Xander shook the limp body, even considered slapping the vampire in the face. "Wake up!"
Spike's eyes flicked open. At first he was just staring blindly at the ceiling, unthinking and obviously disoriented.
"Spike, are you alright?" Xander asked.
Flinching, Spike turned his head away.
"It's alright," Xander said urgently. "It wasn't real. It was a dream. Do you understand? Like a nightmare. Spike?"
The only answer was a weary head-shake.
Xander realized he was crouching on Spike's chest. He bent over and quickly undid the knots that held the vampire's wrists, then scrambled off the bed. Immediately, Spike rolled onto his side, presenting Xander with his back. He buried his face in his arms and curled up as far as the ropes on his ankles allowed. Xander hastened to remove those restraints as well.
There was no indication that Spike had heard him. Xander stared helplessly at the fragile looking man on his bed. The sudden beep-beep of his watch startled him. Sixty minutes.
"It's over, Spike," Xander said. "Do you hear? Dammit Spike, don't go catatonic on me!"
Spike slowly uncurled. He swung his legs off the bed and sat up, facing away from the Scooby. Xander watched him flex his shoulders, check at his hands and arms for non-existent injuries, then furtively wipe his face on his sleeve.
"Not real?" Spike asked dazedly. "None of it?"
Xander had honestly forgotten that due to First Evil's manipulations Spike's hold on reality was brittle at best. Now he remembered. "It was a spell," he blurted out. "When you suggested this deal I— I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. I don't have the—. I'm not a torturer. Not like— like you. But, then I thought of what you did to Buffy and— and you were right. So I thought of something appropriate. Something that happened at my almost-wedding gave me the idea. There's this sorcerer, he wasn't hard to find... he called it a vengeance charm." The words tumbled out of Xander's mouth in an almost obscene hurry, as if a speedy explanation could expunge that increasing feeling of guilt.
"The collar. It used your own fear and guilt against you." Xander shuddered at the memory of what he'd seen in Spike's mind. He picked up the collar, careful not to touch the metal with his bare hand. Who knew, the artifact might still work. Holding it up, Xander snatched it back before Spike could touch it. "Careful, the mojo might still be active."
Spike held out his hand and after a moment of hesitation Xander handed the artifact over. Spike tensed and his eyes fell shut. His body started trembling. After a few seconds, just as Xander was about to knock it from Spike's hand, the collar slipped out of limp fingers and landed on the bed. Spike blinked a few times, before focusing fully on Xander.
Xander squirmed inwardly, remembering the way he'd starred as the torturer in Spike's punishment scenario. Did Spike really believe him capable of ... those things? Well maybe he was. He'd tried to unnerve the other man by telling him to come 'prepared.' Xander swallowed.
"Nifty," Spike said after a moment. He looked disgusted.
"Funny, Rayne the sorcerer - said the same thing." Xander prattled, desperate to go off-topic. "He's British, like you. Apparently he and Giles used to be friends. He's the guy who turned Giles into a Fyarl demon. He got locked up by the Initiative but—"
"Did you watch?" Spike interrupted him. "Do you know what happened in here?" He tapped a finger against his temple.
"No," Xander lied hastily. "I mean, I could see you were having a bad trip, but that's all." There was a horrid intimacy in sharing another person's private hell, however briefly. All he wanted now was to forget the whole thing as soon as possible. Heck, Spike probably felt the same way.
Spike took a deep breath, shook his head and got to his feet.
"Well, as far as I'm concerned you've got your clean slate," Xander announced. He nervously wiped his palm on his pants, wondering if they should seal their truce with a handshake and why he felt so dirty.
"Clean, yeah." Spike laughed. Then he turned on his heel and briskly strode out of the bedroom.
"Where are you going?" Xander asked, hurrying after him.
Spike was already half way out of the apartment. "Going to get drunk," he said without looking back. "Alone."
The door closed with a soft click.
Author's Note: I'm curious. Is it clear why Spike is not 'satisfied' with the outcome of that session, or am I too obscure? Is it clear why Spike offered the whole thing in the first place? What he expected to happen? What is Xander's biggest sin? Um, I don't want to sound too highbrow about this, but I'm very interested to find out with what kind of level of encrypting I can get away with in stories. It's not a big deal, really. Just curiosity. Indulge me, please. :-)
Based on a challenge I posted at nummytreats.
The requirements of the challenge:
Has to be set in S7: In order to make peace with Xander, (or at least a kind of ceasefire) Spike offers Xander an opportunity to get even: One hour of payback for past insults and Spike's involvement with Anya: "Sixty minutes. You say it - I do it. You dish it - I take it."
What does Xander do with his one hour of power?
Several other authors have answered the challenge:
Anna S. - Closure"
Xanpet - Payback's a Bitch
Robin the Crossoverjunkie - Hour of Power
Gillards Girl / Charmin - Making Peace
Narcolepticat - Indefatigably
Rune - Never Say Never
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