Quantum Xander 2
In Wake of the Curse


Part Twenty-One

Spike was disoriented when he awoke. He couldn't remember where he was; at first he hadn't remembered Buffy and Xander coming for him. He thought he was still being held captive by the First. Of course the nightmares could have had a lot to do with that.

He sat up in bed and grimaced. He was alone and the room smelled like tears and semen. He wondered where Xander was, if he was okay. It was obvious the boy had been crying.

"Probably dreaming of his Spike - good dream too, I'm betting, by the smell of things."

Spike got up and pulled his jeans on. He left the bedroom and stopped in the hallway. Xander had left the bathroom door open and was now just standing in front of the mirror wearing only a towel.

Spike took in the appearance of the man in front of him. Xander had filled out nicely, had muscles in all the right places. His hair was damp and fell in tousled waves around his face, the ends curling where they rested on his shoulders. He was touching his neck with the first two fingers of his right hand, right over the scar Spike had seen the night Xander fell asleep on the couch with him.

Not knowing what was going on, Spike scented the air and his eyes blazed as he picked up the fresh blood smell. Xander's blood. He raked his gaze over the man but didn't see any injuries; needing to know that he was okay, Spike walked into the bathroom and stood behind Xander.

Xander was still staring off into space, his eyes fixed on the mirror, so he didn't see the vampire come in and take up position behind him. He was trying to work out what had happened. How he had been bitten. It could be a coincidence; maybe Spike had bitten him in his sleep - he might have been having dreams about claiming Buffy. It might be one of those manifestations - like stigmata, or an hysterical pregnancy. He almost laughed at that - remembering pregnant-woman Xander. He didn't dare hope that it was his mate's bite - that what they shared in his dreams was real - that Spike wasn't really gone for good.

Absently, Xander pulled his fingers away from his wound and looked at them. Without even thinking, he sucked the bloody digits into his mouth. He heard a strangled groan from behind him and turned to see Spike looking at him. The vampire's eyes were flecked with gold and he had a hard on that could pound nails. For a minute he stupidly wondered what had happened to cause such a reaction. Then of course he realised. He was bleeding, and had just licked blood from his own fingers in front of him.

"Er, morning, Spike."

Spike blinked and tried to find his voice. He couldn't. His demon was screaming at him that his mate was bleeding, that he should be allowed to taste - to clean up the enticing trail of blood that was slowly making a path down over Xander's shoulder and heading for his nipple. He tried to fight it - he really did - but instincts overruled his better judgement and with a growl he grabbed Xander by the waist and hauled him close.

Xander gasped as Spike's mouth latched onto his chest, sucking and licking a trail up to his shoulder. He couldn't suppress the moan that escaped as those cool lips ran over his wound. He tilted his head back and grabbed the vampire - tugging him closer as Spike sucked on the mark, bringing more blood to the surface.

Somewhere deep down - buried under the force and need of his demon - William was crying out that this wasn't right. That they were jeopardising the only true friendship they had ever known. Unfortunately for William, the demon wasn't listening.

Xander was lost in a haze of sensation. He wrapped his arms around Spike and pulled him impossibly closer. He could feel Spike's erection pushed hard into his hip; his own cock was throbbing in need as well. He knew it was wrong, so very wrong, but he did it anyway.

"Spike, please."

Xander cradled the blonde's head and pushed it further into his neck, hoping Spike would understand what he was asking for. He groaned as he felt the tiny pinpricks of pleasure-pain as Spike morphed and sank his fangs into his neck. He felt the vampire thrusting against him and wrapped one leg around him to get a better angle on his own aching need.

Spike was mindlessly humping against Xander as he drank from him. It had been so long since he had tasted blood this good. He was in no danger of draining him; his demon recognised that the man in his arms was not food, but rather his mate - his claimed. He savoured the last mouthful of blood, tasting Xander's orgasm, then removed his fangs, threw his head back and roared as he came in his jeans.

Panting, he rested his head on Xander's shoulder. He could still smell his blood and looked at the wound. It was still seeping slowly so he dragged his tongue over the holes, closing them with his saliva. He came back to himself with a start as he realised what he had just done.

Spike leapt out of Xander's arms.

"Xander. Oh hell, luv. I'm sorry - so sorry."

Xander shakily took a breath and looked up at Spike through his tousled bangs. He looked the very picture of satisfied debauchery and Spike felt himself begin to harden again.

"I don't know what came over me. The blood and the smell and then you sucked your fingers..."

Xander chuckled weakly and shook his head.

"It's okay, Spike. It was my fault just as much as yours. Maybe more."

"I bit you, Xander. How is that your fault?"

"You're chipped, Spike. You couldn't have forced me, I wanted it; hell I asked for it."

Spike thought that over and then looked at Xander closely.

"Why did you do that? And why were you bleeding in the first place? And more importantly, did you know what would happen? That this would happen?"

Spike looked pointedly at the stain on his jeans and then the matching one on the front of Xander's towel. The towel that must have magical properties to have remained on during all that humping and thrusting.

"Yeah, sorta. I... God. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking - it just... when you grabbed me and starting licking my chest..."

Xander dropped his eyes and blushed as he thought about the way that had felt.

"It felt good. Really good, and I sorta just stopped thinking at that point. I'm sorry."

Spike leered playfully at Xander.

"I do tend to have that effect on people, Xan. You can't be blamed for finding me irresistible. After all, you're just a man."

Xander laughed and then let out a relieved breath.

"So, we're okay then? This isn't going to be a problem?"

"Yeah, we're good. But we have to be more careful, pet. This can't happen again - I love Buffy, and I'm not the Spike you want, anyway."

"I understand. So, still friends?"

"Yeah, luv. Still friends."

"Okay. Well, I need a few minutes in here to clean up and then you can have the shower."

"Right. Try to be quick, eh? Not looking forward to peeling these jeans off if this mess dries."

Xander laughed and watched as Spike grimaced in distaste as he left the bathroom. He cleaned up quickly and decided to forgo shaving today; he didn't want to take any chances that he might slip and cut himself.

Spike stood outside the bathroom door and frowned as he realised that Xander had skirted the question of how he had come to be bleeding in the first place. Oh, he knew he'd been bitten - it was obvious, as was the fact that it was his bite. But how did it get there? He certainly didn't remember biting Xander, well not that time anyway.

Spike licked his lips; he could still taste Xander in his mouth. It was causing all sorts of reactions in him. He wanted to taste him again - he wouldn't because it would only confuse both of them. He wanted to fall at his feet and beg forgiveness - he assumed this was the soul's influence as the demon didn't think it had done anything wrong. Mostly, he just wanted to ask if Xander loved him. If he could still love him after what had just happened.

Part Twenty-Two

Xander was never so thankful for a Monday morning in his life. After he left the bathroom, he quickly dressed, scribbled a note for Spike letting him know he'd be working late and he'd meet him at Buffy's later that night, and left.

So now here he was, after spending the entire day worrying over what had happened between them that morning - where that left him when it came to his Spike, what would happen if - no when - he got his mate back, and where the hell Buffy fit into all of this. It wasn't as if he were averse to having both Spikes in his bed - he'd done that once before and a good time had been had by all. Hell, throw Buffy in the mix and it was "High school fantasy meets Grown-up Xander fantasy" and it was doing nothing to make his erection go away.

But he still wanted to know if it was just a dream. Of course, he could always just go home, open his night table drawer and take out Spike's journal. If it had been more than a dream - if Spike was really there in his sleeping hours - then he would find poetry in the back pages of that book. But if it wasn't real, if the book was empty, how would he ever be able to face dream-Spike again, knowing that it was all just in his head?

Xander still hadn't made a decision on that by the time work had ended. He drove to a little out-of-the-way diner and parked the car. The truth was, he wasn't actually going to be working late, he just wasn't sure he could face being alone with Spike just yet. So he went inside, sat in the farthest corner booth and perused the menu. He really wasn't even hungry - eating alone had always depressed him.

Xander didn't even jump when Anya materialised in the seat across from him. He just looked up at her and smiled. She seemed to have a knack for showing up when he needed her; he really felt bad about their doomed romance - she deserved so much better.

"God, am I glad to see you."

"Really? Thank you; you know, most men still scream and cower in fear. It's a good thing I don't have an inferiority complex or this would be devastating."

Xander smiled one of his biggest, happiest smiles and then leaned across the table to whisper conspiratorially to her.

"Yeah, but most men don't know you're deathly afraid of bunnies; see, I have a secret weapon."

Anya mock-glared at him and he solemnly swore to take her secret to his grave. She smiled then frowned at him.

"What happened? Something's wrong, isn't it?"

"A lot of things are wrong, An. We're being stalked by the uberevil, I have mysteriously appearing wounds, and I've developed... feelings for my vampire roommate. Which one would you like to discuss?"

Anya took a minute to think about that. The waitress came over and took their orders and then disappeared again. Finally, Anya looked at Xander and nodded her head affirmatively.

"Spike. I think we should talk about him first."


"Because I have news, but I'm not going to tell you yet because it will make it even harder for you to figure out your feelings."

"What news?"

"Not yet, Xander. First, tell me about Spike."

So Xander did. He told her about everything, actually - the dreams, the bite, the bathroom incident. By the time he was finished he felt a lot better. Like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. It was nice having a friend you could confide in.

"Okay, so you had sex with Spike in the bathroom after he attacked you."

"No! It wasn't sex, and he didn't attack me."

"Whatever. And what is it with him and bathrooms?"


"Sorry. Anyway, it was sex. You came, he came, there was rubbing and thrusting. It was sex."

"Fine, it was sex. Happy?"

"The question is, are you?"

"I... "

Xander trailed off and thought about that. Was he happy? No, not particularly. He wasn't not happy, but he wouldn't call the way he felt happy. More like confused.

"No. I'm more confused than anything. I mean, I shouldn't want them both."

"Why? You love Spike, and they're both Spike. It makes sense. When you were split in two, I loved both Xanders. I'm still angry that you wouldn't sleep with me, though. It's not fair; you got to have sex with two Spikes at once. Hypocrite."

Xander chuckled.

"Yeah well, I was also under a pretty heavy compulsion to ignore my homosexual urges at the time. Besides, that would have been like sleeping with my twin."

"Well, I wasn't asking you guys to have sex with each other. Just me."

"I'm sorry."

"You should be. You deprived me of a very erotic experience."

Of course, that was the moment the waitress chose to come back with their dinners. Xander was out of practise for dealing with Anya's bluntness and couldn't help but blush and stammer apologies at the waitress until she shook her head and walked away. He looked back over at a grinning Anya and sighed.


"I missed that. You were so cute when we first started dating, all the blushing and stammering."

Anya sighed and Xander glared at her.

"I wasn't cute. I was embarrassed."

"Yeah, but you're cute when you're embarrassed."

Xander picked up his fork and started picking at his food. He still wanted to know what news Anya had, but he knew she wouldn't tell him until she was ready.

"Xander? Do you love Spike?"

"Which one?"


"Yes. I love my Spike - I'm in love with my Spike, but I love this Spike too. He's... well my friend, I guess."

"Could you fall in love with him?"

"No. I... maybe. Yes. Yes, I could. But that's not going to happen. Besides, he loves Buffy."

"So, you're sure that whatever happens, you and this Spike will never end up together?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. Without my Spike, I'm not sure I could be with this one - not without using him as a replacement. I won't do that."

"Okay. Then I'll tell you my news."

Xander waited while Anya took a drink of her iced tea. He wasn't sure he wanted to know, not after all that. He just knew it was going to be bad news.

"Hallie lied."

Part Twenty-Three

Hallie lied. The words were still ringing in his ears hours later. He was distracted - that was the only explanation for why he had let everyone go on thinking that Dawnie was a potential. If he had been paying attention, he would have noticed right away that it wasn't her. Dawn didn't give off the same vibe as the other girls, she was definitely something more than normal, but it wasn't slayer power that made her hum - it was something else entirely.

Buffy had commandeered Spike to help train the potentials, and he was left with Willow and Tara while Tara performed a tracking spell to find the newest potential - one of Sunnydale's own, even.

If he had been paying attention, he would have noticed when Dawn slipped out; he wouldn't have just sat there while the poor girl went through her own personal hell. It was bad enough knowing that you were the creation of monks and mystical energies. It was bad enough to have had a hell god try to kill you and open the barriers between worlds; but to finally think it's over - that you're just another teenage girl now, only to find out you're a slayer-in-waiting? He couldn't imagine what she was going through. He waited while Tara did another spell to find Dawn; Willow had gone off to call Buffy on her cell phone. Dawn was at the high school - big shock there.

It was good that Buffy and Spike had arrived when they had, otherwise Xander would have blown his cover for sure - there was no way he would have let that vamp or the Bringers touch Dawnie. No way.

So, now here he was, after all the excitement had died down, still reeling from the words Dawn had spoken - that maybe his power was knowing, seeing things. She didn't know how right she was. He did see things - like that spell to banish the ubervamp. He knew things, too. When it counted, he knew exactly what to do without even thinking about it. He had a barroom full of kitten demons to attest to that.

All in all, it had been a hell of a night. He was glad to be home - even though Buffy had decided to keep Spike at her place tonight. Maybe it was for the best; they were both acting like skittish virgins around the other right now. Some space just might be the thing. Xander took out his journal; he looked at Spike's and debated on checking it for poems. Shaking his head, he opened his own journal; he wasn't ready to know yet. Maybe after he came to terms with what Anya had told him.

Halfrek lied.

Anya told me tonight, during an impromptu dinner date. Hallie didn't change things back. She lied to me, just to hurt me. And I should be surprised, why? Hello? Demon. She didn't actually have the authority to change anything, at least not anything major. Spike and Dawn are still in the reality I left them in, the Spike that Angel drained is still dust, and the Spike and Xander that I helped to get together are still together - living in sin with the Buffy-bot! Hee hee.

But she did manage to screw with a few things; the spell I gave Willow - the permanent soul restoration - was destroyed. So, God only knows what happened there. I just hope Spike and Angel didn't give each other a moment of pure happiness. Bitch! It seems that anything tangible that I left behind was destroyed - as if I hadn't been there, but the people who died, or the people who shifted with me are still the same. Which is good, 'cause the thought of Riley Finn being resurrected makes my blood boil!

Now I understand why Anya wanted to know about Spike and me. This Spike, that is. See, I no longer have to worry about her sending him back to his dimension. If I find a spell, I can use it right away. I don't have to find a way to take care of Halfrek first. I guess Anya was worried that I would have to choose between my lover and my friend. She wanted to spare me that. I really love her, I'm glad we're friends.

So, now I need to find a spell. I looked in my book - stared at the pages until I thought I'd burn a hole through them - no luck. I guess it's just not time yet, or it isn't in there. Damn it! I need to find the damn thing. I can't keep on like this; I need Spike.

I dreamed that he bit me last night. Then I woke with a fresh bite on my neck. I don't know what happened, whether it really happened, or whether Spike - this Spike - bit me. He slept with me last night. In the sleeping sense of the word, not the groiny sense. Of course, that doesn't explain why we made out in the bathroom like a couple of horny teenagers.

Yep. That's right. I had sort-of-sex with Spike. We were fully dressed, or at least he was. I was in a towel, but there was a lot of rubbing against each other and we both came, so therefore, sex. In the sort-of sense. But no kissing. At least there wasn't kissing. That would have made it far too personal - too intimate.

He bit me. I asked for it. Hell I practically begged for it. He started it. No, actually I did, but I didn't know he was there. I was still bleeding from the bite I woke up with, and I stuck my fingers to the wound - then I sucked them into my mouth. I guess from a vampire's point of view, that could be considered erotic. It must have been to Spike, 'cause he grabbed me, and the next thing I knew he was licking the trail of blood off my chest - up to my shoulder- and then suckling at the wound.

I lost it. I grabbed him, pulled him close, and begged for more. He bit. I wrapped my leg around him like a slut and humped for all I was worth. He did too. So, sort-of-sex was had in the bathroom. Now we're all weird with each other. Spike was almost blushing when I saw him tonight. I swear, if vamps could blush, he would have been as red as Willow's hair. I wasn't much better. I was torn between embarrassment and arousal. I wanted to touch him, and I was embarrassed that I wanted to.

I can't keep this up. I miss my lover, my Spike, but I want this Spike. I want to touch him, kiss him. I want to find out if he tastes the same, if he'd moan the same way if I were to bite his collarbone. I want to know if he'd scream my name as I drove inside him hard and fast.

I'm scum. I'm worse than scum. I'm falling for Spike. For a souled version of the demon I love. How is it even possible? Okay, William has always been a big part of who Spike is, even before the soul. Even I could see that. So, I guess maybe it's not so hard to believe that I could fall for this Spike. But what about my Spike? How do I explain this to him? Better yet, how do I explain it to this Spike? Should I explain it to him? I mean, yeah, he's obviously attracted to me on a physical level and he likes me as a friend but he told me himself that it can't happen again, that he loves Buffy.

And, I think Buffy loves him too. Or she could, at least. If she'd let herself. I can't hurt her like that. I have a Spike of my own; having them both - while a nice idea - would be greedy.

I need sleep. Tomorrow I'll call L.A. and talk to Angel, see if he has any ideas about how to get Spike back. If I have to, I'll go with the "bring Spike back human and have him turned" option. Maybe this Spike would do it? God, how Freudian - siring oneself. I'm sure somewhere, some psychiatrist would have a field day with this one!

Xander closed his book, put it back in the drawer and turned off the light. He snuggled into his pillow, breathing in the lingering traces of Spike's scent and drifted into a peaceful slumber.

Part Twenty-Four

Xander sat slumped dejectedly on Buffy's couch. His call to L.A. had been a bust - not only was Angel not there, he was once again Angelus. So, now he had the added pressure of having to find a way to quietly get to L.A. without Buffy knowing about it. She was needed here, and he could handle Angelus on his own.

Spike sat next to him and opened his mouth to speak, only to grab his head and scream in pain. Xander panicked and pulled Spike into his arms and tried to soothe him. After a minute Spike fell still and silent and Xander let out a breath.

"What the hell was that?"

"Chip went off."

"For no reason?"

"Yeah, does that now and again."

"How often?"

"Lately? More than I like."

Xander realised he was still holding the vampire and rubbing his hand up and down his back - at the same time as Spike noticed. They both drew away from each other somewhat reluctantly and smiled softly.

"How often, Spike? Once a day? Once a week?"

"Used to be just every now an' then. It's happened three times already today. Slayer made a phone call earlier, there was a whole "Ghost Busters" moment and everything."

"Who did she call?"

"Put in a call to Captain Cardboard."

Xander growled at the mention of Riley, and Spike pulled away in alarm.

"Sorry. I have issues."

"Yeah, I get that. You do know that this Finn never touched me, right? I mean other than the fake stake through the heart. I wasn't... violated, or nothing."

"I know. But he was capable of it. If circumstances had been different..."

"About that, I've given it some thought and I think I know what was different in those realities. The Initiative was still active, yeah?"

"Yeah. So?"

"Well, they were pumping him full of drugs here, weren't they? So what's to say that they didn't continue there. Give the soldiers something to make them ruthless, uncaring. Easier to control. No sense of right or wrong, no conscience to make them question what they were doing?"

Xander had to admit that Spike could very well be right. He didn't care what had driven Riley to do those things to his mate; he did them all the same. He would not regret what he had done in retribution.

"Alright. I'll give you that. But I still don't like him."

"Makes two of us; but if he can get this soddin' chip to stop firing off, I might just bend over and offer it."

Spike abruptly found himself on his back with Xander looming over him.

"No. You will not bend over for Riley fucking Finn."

"Joke, pet. You really think I'd let farmboy stick it to me? Please. Never been buggered by a human before and he's the last one I'd give that privilege to."

Xander sat up and ran his hands through his hair.

"Sorry, Spike. I don't know what came over me. Just the thought of you and him."

"I know, pet. No worries, eh?"

Just then Buffy came into the room and looked sadly at Spike and then Xander.

"Did he tell you, Xan?"

"About the chip? Yeah. So what's the scoop? They gonna tell us how to fix him?"

"No. They said that the chip was never meant to be in use this long, that Spike should have starved to death by now or fried his brain. There's no way to take it out, no way to turn it off, and no way to fix it."

Xander swore a blue streak that impressed even Spike. He looked back at the sofa where the vampire and the slayer sat side-by-side, both depressed by the news, and felt his anger rise. He couldn't believe they weren't even going to try to help him. Spike had a soul now; he wasn't "just another demon" not that he ever was, but that's how they thought about him.

Spike gasped and sat up in alarm. Buffy looked at him then followed his line of sight. She too gasped as she saw what had startled Spike. Xander was surrounded by an aura of magic; it crackled like lightning.

Without even thinking about it, Xander grabbed Spike and hauled him to his feet. His hands came up on either side of the vampire's head and then they were both floating about a foot off the ground. The lightning enveloped Spike's body and he screamed. Buffy watched, helpless, as Xander and Spike both fell to the floor, the strange light still flickering around them. Finally the light faded and the two men slumped into unconsciousness.

It was over an hour later that Xander stirred and sat up. He glanced around, surprised to find himself on the couch. He immediately looked for Spike and saw Buffy watching him.

"Hey, Buff."

Xander fell back on the couch. He felt like shit - like he hadn't slept in days.

"What did you do to him, Xander?"

"I fried his chip. I think."

"You think?"

"Well, I'm not exactly a doctor here, Buff. Or a scientist. I just... I had to, you know? I couldn't let it kill him."

"I know."

"How is he? Where is he?"

"He's still out. I put him downstairs."

Xander struggled to get up and finally gave up on doing it unassisted.

"Hey, Buff? Help a guy out here? I want to check on Spike."

Buffy helped Xander to his feet and together they went down to the basement. She was just glad that Giles and the S.I.T.'s were off in the desert, and Willow and Tara were out picking up food and spell supplies. She wasn't sure how much longer she could keep Xander's secret.

Part Twenty-Five

When Spike came to, he was in agony. He felt as though he'd gone ten rounds with a whole pack of ubervamps. He groaned and tried to sit up only to be pushed back by warm hands and told to stay still. His senses were all working just fine though, so he knew it was Xander who was holding him down and that Buffy was nearby.

"Xan? What the hell'd you do t'me?"

"Not entirely sure, Spike. But I think I might have fried your chip once and for all."

Spike lay still and let the repercussions of this wash over him. Okay, firstly, he was ecstatic; he hated that damn thing and not having it go off for accidentally stepping on someone’s toes would be a relief. But it was the chip that had made him slow down and take a good long look at the people around him. It had made him realise that there was more to them that just blood, that they weren't cattle. He had fallen in love with the woman Buffy was; the slayer part just made it poetic in his mind. He had come to care a great deal for the witches, and Dawn had become the sister he'd never had. Would he lose them now that he was... unfettered? He had a soul, but then hey, so did Hitler. A soul could be corrupted; he had killed recently despite having both a chip and a soul. With the loss of one - would his little adopted family still want him around?

He wasn't worried about Xander. He knew he'd still have the boy's friendship if no one else's. He loved - was mated to - an unsoulled version of himself. Although, he wondered what Xander would do if his Spike suddenly found himself unchipped? Would he still trust him not to hurt innocents? Not to kill his friends? The other version of himself had no ties - no loyalty to these people. The only thing that would keep him from feeding on them was his love for Xander. Spike knew it was enough, that the vampire wouldn't do anything to upset his mate, but he wondered if Xander did?

"What exactly do you mean by 'not entirely sure'?"

"Damn it, Spike! I'm a warlock not a doctor!"

Xander feigned his best McCoy accent and grinned when Spike laughed weakly.

"Been waitin' long to use that one, luv?"

"You have no idea."

Buffy watched with sad eyes as the two men carried on joking and laughing in front of her. It wasn't all that long ago that she would have had to talk Xander out of staking Spike. Now here they were, the best of friends. Possibly more from the looks they were giving each other. She decided to interrupt before anything she didn't want to think about could happen.

"Well, as much fun as this has been, we need to find out if it worked."

"How d'you suppose we do that, love?"

Xander interrupted by sticking his arm out.

"Bite me, Spike."

Spike drew back in alarm.

"Er, Xan? Haven't we already walked this road one time too many? It's not a good idea. 'Sides I had me chip last time and it didn't go off."

"Wait. You bit Xander? When? Why? How?"

Both men groaned as they realised they would have to explain. Spike turned panicked eyes to Xander and felt a flood of relief when Xander nodded his understanding. Buffy wouldn't find out about the sex.

"I was bleeding, there was some just-awakened confusion going on and I asked Spike to do it. Practically forced him to. Mistaken identity; right vampire, wrong version."

Buffy frowned thoughtfully.

"Oh. So, you and the other Spike... There was biting? Like he ate you?"

Spike snickered and Buffy blushed at the double entendre.

"So not what I meant."

"Wasn't like that. I'm not Spike's food. Biting isn't always about feeding, Buffy; sometimes it's about love, about expressing things that you can't say with words. I have a bond with my mate - the blood sharing just reaffirms it, makes it stronger."

"So, what? Now you're, like, bonded to Spike? This Spike?"

"No. I'd have to take his blood as well for that to happen..."

Xander trailed off with a horrifying moment of clarity. He had taken Spike's blood. He had bound himself to this Spike as well in a moment of passion-induced stupidity. At least Spike didn't know what he'd done. Spike could barely stop himself from growling in frustration. He should have realised this earlier; he had known about the blood sharing, about what would happen, but he hadn't allowed himself to make the connection. No wonder William was screaming at him not to bite. Damn foolish demon - always thinking with heart and cock instead of brains.

"Let's just do this then, yeah? Try not to want it this time." In his anger at himself, Spike morphed and bit savagely into Xander's forearm. The blood streamed forth and he swallowed it with a sense of awe and dread. He could taste it, that little part that said Xander was his. Abruptly he closed the wound and pulled away.

"Ow! Fuck, that hurt."

"Well, that tears it then. So, now what?"

"Now nothing. Nothing's changed, Spike. So your chip's gone; big deal."

Spike looked at Buffy to see what she thought about the matter. He was surprised to see her smiling at him.


"Spike, what I said to you before still stands. I believe in you. You can do good things, this doesn't change that."

"Thank you."

Spike swallowed hard and really wished it were night time. He needed some time alone, time to figure out what was going on inside of him. He was mated to Xander as surely as his double was, and yet he still loved Buffy. He needed to figure out what he was going to do about it.

Xander could sense that something was troubling Spike; it didn't take a genius to see that. The painful bite on his arm was testament enough. If he didn't know better, he'd think the vamp knew what he had done.

"I'm sure Spike's worn out. Why don't we let him rest for awhile."

Buffy nodded and followed Xander to the stairs. She had a feeling there was more going on than they were telling her, but she had too many things to deal with right now to try to find out. If they survived the First Evil, then she'd get to the bottom of whatever was going on between Spike and Xander.

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