Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: It's a black day when humankind turns on the non humans.
Survival can be as simple as a commitment to each other.
Spoilers: Canon is Post S7 BtVS and S5 AtS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don't like boys together, don't play here!
Harsh circumstances and difficult start....
Author's Note: Don't own the characters nor make any money from
stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al.,
plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the
Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
After the Fall
The cramp in his stomach had not eased. It seemed he had been hungryforever….
It was the backlash, the reaction to the final stand against Wolframand Hart and the opening
of the portal, the reality of thedestruction of Sunnydale, the final realization that demons were real,
that the other was here. The Initiative was reinstated,enhanced, empowered and enforced. A global movement
like no other.
They were all rounded up, town after town, state after state,country after country.
It began with simple registration. The criteria for the roundup was broad, slayers, witches, half breeds,
harmless or man eaters, the more human you looked, the better your chances… First labeled then
hounded, herded into areas, then forcibly removed to camps, then arbitrarily killed, downgraded to
non human status. Those old enough remembered other times like this and it always started out the same…
the `them and us' taken to an extreme…. The Crusades, the Witch hunts of inquisition years, the
Huganauts, the native Indians of the US, the aboriginals of Australia, the third Reich, the killing
fields of Cambodia, the ethnic cleansing in the Slavic nations, the Rwandan Hutus wiping out
the Tutsis, who really cared… anyone different, it was a human tradition in times of stress… and now
it was their turn… anyone with a demon connection, but now it was driven by the ruling nations so
no one was safe on any continent.
Demons, human consorts, half breeds, relatives, sympathizers,
friends…. the differentiation was all encompassing. Not human in any way led to the `killing fields'.
The lucky ones were on the right, the ones they never saw again on the left.
bound and transported, he woke to torture.
The threadbare sheets provided little protection
against the northern winter. He felt lucky in an odd sort of a way. The same camps in Europe
were rumored to be so much harsher…at least this time they had water. The ache of hunger was one thing, but lack of water
was truly life threatening for the human. The lack of water had been their first lesson in torture.
Tranquilized, bound and transported, he found himself in a container on a ship to lord
knew where, the tag on his chest read:
Warning: Code Blue Status: Experiment subject
Category: Demon magnet. Possible Hostile.Threat: Latent. Observed demon elimination and
some hostility to authority Partnerships: Slayer, Seer, Witch, Vengance Demon, Mummy, Mantis,
Vampire (suspected). Possessions known: Hyena, Soldier Born: Hellmouth.
Family history: Violent (abused child) Human Skills: Carpentry, project management, demon fighting Orientation:
He had lost sight of Dawn and Buffy on the first day, of Willow after a week.
Her distress was audible in his head as she was dragged away from their compound toward yet another truck.
His tears of anguish wasted precious water as they moistened the ground below his knees. There
was nothing else to be done. After a day and a night of protesting swearing and begging his wrists
were shackled to the bar that now held his ankles as well. His blissful respite was a blow
He had been shaved, stripped, beaten,
starved of food and water,
and finally raped for almost a month. Now he was apparently the proud recipient
Tranquilized, bound and transported, it was not an expected consequence
that he found himself holding an armful of an old friend.
A new bunch of captives
had been thrown unceremoniously into the
enclosure. Xander looked up listlessly from
the back corner, and registered something wonderful. A shock of bleach blonde hair. With his
remaining strength he crawled over to the inert form and pulled him close. His own heat was all he had to offer …. He did so willingly.
Spike was in a critical
condition. Injured and unfed, and despite his master status, he was slipping. Xander knew from
his state of malnutrition that it must have been two or three months since he had fed… His
semi conscious status would indicate a week or two more, and he would fall to coma and dust from
starvation. The only privacy Xander could afford his partner was his own body. Stripped of
the last remnants of clothing, and with only a thin half sheet for cover, he managed to
maneuver himself to lie over his friend with but a protruding rusty nail to provide the
needed tear for a little blood to flow. Sadly so little, but Xander was already less
than half his original weight, ribs prominent and muscles wasted. He gave what little blood he could
Spike had been so badly injured by `the Cleansers' that his Sunnydale
friend spent the first ten days gently holding the semiconscious friend and occasionally trying
to feed him a little blood. Still not fully recovered Spike at least recognized his
carer but as the cage tilted violently and metal on metal indicated their transfer once
more, it was all Xander could do to cushion his friend's fall with his own emaciated
Tranquilized, bound and transported, they were now heavens knew where.
It was cold and forbidding but, Xander thought, somehow better as two pretty blue eyes
blinked and slowly recognized the owner of the arms surrounding them.
was almost no muscle left on the vampire. Old bruises remained and cuts had become gaping
holes. Xander opened his wrist again, he wished for his friend to drain him. It was only
a matter of time before he died. In the arms of a friend seemed preferable. An unwilling
tongue eventually complied lapping quietly before the softly spoken "Reckon I owe you one
Pet" emerged and Xander's charge fell back into oblivion. It was the first time in a week that he
Three weeks later they were moved again. Their cage shoved into a
large shipping container, the destination Experimental Labs.
White rooms Perspex
glass small open loo in one corner, mattress in the other. Food arrived from a ceiling flap.
Water was on tap unless withdrawn as punishment.
The pattern was always the same.
They were shot with tranquilizer darts then taken separately to the experiment rooms. Often
only partially drugged Xander had woken twice during `procedures', but was gagged and
fastened so tightly to the trolley that he doubted his `medical team' realized. He fortunately passed out
with the third knife incision during the first lucid encounter, but with the second had been
awake for the humiliation of someone collecting his sperm. Hardly the situation to be `stimulated',
he noted a drug induced erection painful and willing to `cooperate'. He simply closed his eyes
and cried silently as the rubber clad hand brought him to completion, milking him five or six
times in the space of thirty minutes. He heard them say that it was a pity to waste
the seed, but their cross species attempts and impregnation were still important.
In his semi drugged state he hoped any `children' would be something vicious, at least
it might come back to bite them.
On the third visit they milked him again and again.
He woke to find they had inserted a shunt so he might be `milked' daily with no
need to ejaculate. He suffered the humiliation of scientists collecting his seed
each morning after he was tied fast, facing a wall.
After the forth visit to
the operating room, the slice across his stomach left him wondering. He had indigestion
for weeks. After the fifth `time under', his head ached terribly and his missing eye
had been replaced by a tiny camera fitting. It was confusing at first but he learned to deal with the odd digital images
it sent to his visual cortex. He learned to ignore them.
After his sixth visit
he felt strange, very, very strange. His body hair slowly disappeared, his skin became softer,
his libido dropped to virtually non existent… and in the third week he noticed other physical changes,
he lost body mass, gained `curves'. He found himself overly emotional and crying at the slightest
thing. He cried as his body altered. Spike cried with him.
He was injected for three
months then treatment ceased and the small female breasts that had emerged with it, gradually
disappeared again. His libido slowly returned, though not his interest in women. His body hair
and muscle simply did not return.
The vampire fared worse. Parts were removed. It began
with sections of skin, but then he returned missing an ear, then two toes. He was unceremoniously
dumped into their cell with half a buttock muscle missing. Then dragged away only to return minus
his left kneecap and his right tibia. The last three injuries left him unable to stand, let alone
walk. As Xander ate the food provided, regaining a little weight on his now overly
slim male figure. He fed his friend when he could and watched as Spike began the
obviously painful and slow process of growing back his missing pieces. He realized
his ocular implant was linked directly to the researcher's computer when a message
suddenly appeared regarding `scheduled maintenance shutdown' He tore the implant out of
the socket, barely throwing it across the room before the `team' came running.
replaced it, bolting it to his skull and making a point of saying as much. He responded by
staring at inanimate objects whenever possible.
By Xander's calculations, they
had been in captivity for fifteen months. He watched as his friend shuffled slowly over to him using only his arms and existing `good' buttock.
Xander petted the now long
locks and began to gently massage the injured areas, pleased to feel the
slow return of the bones
after almost two and a half months of mush.
the newly regrown ear and whispered "When you're well we're out of here….
Dead or alive, we're gone…. OK?"
growled, Spike's answered.
The door hissed open. Spike and Xander were huddled together in the back corner of the cell the other five occupants were similarly wound around each other. It was their only comfort. The three who had most recently been ‘treated’ occupied the mattress. One of the males, a peaceful demon Nat with pretty blue skin, had obviously been sliced from neck to groin, the cut though sewn, was still oozing through the dressings. There was nothing any of the others could do as they watched him slowly succumb. The lights were always on, there was no privacy, their nudity no longer an embarrassment, the cold and hunger ever-present.
“C’mon ya lazy bastards up!” All inmates were instantly alert and moving away from the voice. Deliberately deformed hands scrabbled at the floor, injured legs were forced to stand, violated bodies groaned as they complied with the demand. Those more able supported those who could not stand on their own. Xander helped his still recovering friend to his feet literally holding him up. He was weak, but Spike was now as light as a small child. Their blue friend did not move at all. A nightstick came down hard on the blue body, as the merest hint of an ‘oof’ was heard the action was repeated. After the fifth hit, Spike smelt it, even Xander could tell. Nat was out of pain. The dead body was kicked for good measure then a brisk order had it dragged from the cell. It seemed that it was simply a matter of time before they all left that way.
A large uniformed woman marched in behind the baton wielding soldier. She carried a pile of white disposable hospital scrubs. Throwing them in the middle of the room and before simply commanding “Dress for inspection”.
Xander eased his friend to the ground before taking two of the coveralls, quickly dressing himself then gently pulling the second garment onto Spike, careful not to abrade his still raw behind.
Clearly made for healthy human males in a ‘one size fits all’ sense, the prisoners looked ridiculous. Far too thin to fill out the material, their emaciated forms seemed to be accentuated by the clothing rather than disguised. They were each then injected with a mild sedative rendering speech impossible and any indication of intelligence unlikely.
The inspectors came to the ‘medical facility’ every six months or so. They wandered around with clipboards, peering in at the inmates; occasionally asking a question of one of the scientists regarding their research; showing mild concern if there were particularly obvious injuries on the experimental subjects; admiring the innovative research; tut tutting at the overcrowding; and complimenting the guards on how very clean and wonderfully calm the prisoners looked.
The group stopped at Xander and Spike’s cell to discuss a particularly exciting group of ‘cases’. One of the two guards pushed Xander flat on his back and held him. Xander simply closed his eyes as one scientist pulled open his coveralls, exposing him to the group, then proceeded to prod the human. He lifted his genitals, pointed to various scars and generally discussed his hormone treatment and internal ‘preparation’.
Spike had initially been watching but now closed tear filled eyes and through his drug induced haze, listened while the visitors marveled at the research into gender determination of demons and reassignment experiments. Their justification was apparently to perfect reassignment for breeding purposes in endangered *animal* species. Cross species surrogacy was also discussed. The demons and half breeds were expendable. If the technique was a success then it would benefit the outside world.
They discussed their methodology to date and the intention to ‘fully treat’ one or two of their ‘current batch’ as a comparative study since they had now established the correct hormone dosage for a variety of demons. Xander’s flaccid penis was pushed around by what felt like a lecture pointer while comments were made regarding the harvesting of seed from Xander, and his surprisingly full reversal, post hormones. The discussion flowed into one of a permanent reassignment for this subject, and a possible experimental pregnancy. There were other comments regarding the disappointing results to date, a ‘high attrition rate’ and disappointing results with some of the demon species and the better success with humans and halfbreeds. Vampires were discounted due to their regenerative nature preventing permanent changes. A number of the group simply stepped over the still fully exposed Xander. They wandered off still musing about their breeding program and newly planned experimental facilities.
As the door hissed shut, Spike slowly pushed himself over to his friend and with clumsy hands, tucked Xander back in and managed to pull the zip up half way before collapsing again. Xander rolled toward him. They hugged and cried. The next round of experiments seemed to promise a devastating and permanent change, they had to get out.
Another month passed. Two of the occupants of their cell were taken for experiments and did not return. One halfbreed Bracken demon returned from the lab with a small vibrator apparently permanently inserted, sewn down in contact with his prostate. The research assistants sat and observed outside the cell, dialing the vibrations higher and higher until the poor male's spines turned fiery orange and he begged for relief. He was given none. In the end, Xander and Spike and the other two inmates all took turns trying to comfort the poor individual as he screamed and sobbed for four days straight, sleep rendered impossible for the dear wretch by the constant stimulation. By the end of the fifth day as the vibrations were increased again, he fell utterly silent. He simply sat in the corner of their cell rocking, crying, tugging at his erection and occasionally playing with his own rear end. He no longer ate or drank anything, eventually fell unconscious and was removed.
With only four left in the cell, sleeping on the mattress was a now a given. It was a small bonus.
One of their companions Jason had come in as a burly lad, standing just over seven feet tall, with the appearance of a professional wrestler. Spike identified him as non human immediately and Xander was a little wary, but the gentle giant had endeared himself to all of them. He was now rake thin and stooped a little. Xander and Spike watched with distress as he too was treated with hormones, but were even more upset when he was returned to their cell minus all his body hair and his scrotum. They had never really liked Neil, their other cellmate, pointy toothed with scaly lizard like skin. He had always been what Xander would call a ‘slippery’ character, but on the night of Jason’s return, he had held his huge fellow prisoner, rocking him as he came to, realized his ‘status’, and grieved.
Every day for the next fortnight, Neil disregarded their captors and observers, if there were any who still cared, and used his incredibly long and soft tongue to gently lave the ruined area. He never missed an opportunity to praise Jason’s appearance or to comfort. It was as though a switch had been flipped when the manhood of the other was lost. Neil finally confided in the other three that with his race, sliding between male and female was a given. He had started as a female and changed in his thirtieth year. He adored his large friend’s new found ambiguity, Jason cried all the more for the understanding and slowly but surely began to return the love he was given.
Xander was still ‘in tact’, though it would just be a matter of time he was certain. As the ‘treatments’ for Jason ‘ramped up’, their food supply improved. Jason filled out a little and with it came the female features. They were all shocked when he began to lactate, though Neil was more on the ecstatic side of the ‘shock spectrum’. Spike and Xander vacated the mattress. The other two made noisy love, Neil’s stumpy tail raised triumphantly as he licked over the milk producing chest and completed ecstatically inside his now willing lover.
The following day the two were taken together. Mumbled words of ‘new facilities’; ‘breeding schemes’; and ‘keeping the subjects happy’; were coupled with ‘final phase’ and ‘risk to the surrogate’.
So now they were alone, and truly terrified. Xander promised to dust Spike, Spike to drain Xander. They clung to each other until drugged and forcibly separated for their ‘treatments’. Regardless of the daily torment they cuddled when together, it was the only comfort.
At month twenty Xander was back on the hormones, Spike back to the torture. This time it was electric shock. After the last two 'treatments' he had been returned to the cell docile, unable to speak and apparently unable to access whole sections of his memories. Still in gameface, he had addressed Xander as ‘good sir’ and seemed utterly confused and horrified by his own nudity and circumstance… blaming the Kaiser, the French, anyone not English, for his predicament. As his memories returned, Xander held him and they both cried in silence.
As the numbers of ‘hostiles’ in the cells dwindled, the cries of those still left became a regular commentary on each day. It seemed the new facility had been opened and most of the existing ‘inmates’ were no longer of use. The end result seemed inevitable. Alone and frightened, or together and frightened, the latter was by far the most preferable. They were all destined to die.
It was an unknown day of the week, at an unknown time that their white world abruptly disappeared.
A rumble marked the start. An alarm sounded somewhere in the building then an almighty explosion blew the walls of their cell away and left them both utterly deafened. Spike somehow landed on top of the blast site. He could sense his friend’s heartbeat under the rubble and fell into gameface, using all his vampire assets to tear at the concrete and twisted metal, and located a relatively unscathed, though trapped, Xander, under a large piece of Perspex. He touched the hand, thankfully, it responded.
He worked for another hour, slowly ridding the upper layers of weight until he could pull Xander free. The human’s arm was broken. His ribs on one side obviously cracked but his back and legs, though bruised, were fine. Spike swiftly bit his wrist, shoving it into his friend's mouth. Xander reflexively drank a little, then they both slowly stood. Spike could see, but they were both nude, had no idea where they were or even if they were above or below ground, let alone how to get out.
The determined though still somewhat confused Spike, led Xander in the direction he could smell fresh air. They crawled across the rubble, scraping knees and bruising already damaged limbs as the uneven, unforgiving surfaces produced spikes, and juts, and sharp pieces. They pulled one other inmate from a trapped position. The little demon was the same species as their dead friend Nat, though his blue skin was covered in concrete dust and one of his huge blue eyes was badly injured. By the time they had made it to the end of what had been the corridor of cells, they were joined by a rake thin vampire with an obviously broken leg, but they found no other signs of life in their section.
Spike had begun to get his hearing back and distinctly heard a gunshot ring out followed by a thump. Through the dust and rubble they could see torches approaching. Soldiers and rescuers had finally made it to the back of the facility and were still calling for the doctors, jailors, scientists, hated names, feared individuals. Spike distinctly heard the order to shoot any of the hostiles found still alive and responded immediately by pushing his companions through a hole in the rubble, covering them partially with a with a large piece of white wall and by hauling the mangled remains of a less fortunate fellow prisoner to cover the remaining gap. It was dark and dusty. Spike hoped it would be enough. The two vampires could survive a bullet and ‘play dead’ if mistaken for demon but not so Xander or their other friend.
There was the crunch of an army boot on glass so close that even Xander’s concussed eardrums picked it up.
“Sir, cell blocks on level 4 and 5 are secure. Only one hostile found alive. It was eliminated as instructed.”
“Well done Saunders. Doesn’t look like the ones in here will cause any trouble either.” The boot kicked the dead body pushing it harder against Spike. “Just take your men and do a quick sweep now and come back for cleanup in the morning. Reckon once we’ve recovered the human remains from the lab that’ll be it.”
“No need. Orders are for demolition, complete cleanup by Friday… they’ll go with the rest of this mess.”
The commanding officer moved off while the other men gave a cursory check around. There were two more gunshots but no corresponding thud, it seemed the agenda was simply to shoot a dead body or two for good measure.
After three hours of huddling together the two vampires agreed, they could no longer hear any signs of the soldiers. Xander had been in a state of semi slumber but roused as Spike shifted to nudge away the dead body. They cautiously pushed their way free of the debris and crawled from the hiding place.
They could all feel the chilly draft and smell fresh air coming from somewhere to their right. With only two of them possessing night vision and all the parties carrying injuries, the progress was quite literally, painfully slow. But sometime toward midnight they pushed past a buckled metal door to find themselves…. Outside.
All four strained to sense any soldiers. It seemed they had come out at the rear of the building near an incineration facility. Evidence of the size of the blast was strewn across a deserted moonlit space, the incinerator on its side, and its yet to be burned contents spilling onto the ground. More bodies. A helicopter with searchlight flew overhead they all instantly dropped amongst the carcasses, the second vampire whimpering a little as his broken leg struck a post on the way down. The chopper did not stay, its light sweeping the area then moving off.
Xander had begun to shiver as had the little blue demon. They all needed clothes. The deceased around them were all nude as well but Spike spied what looked like a small work shed near the incinerator and wondered. He stood and helped first Xander then his fellow vampire to their feet.
Pointing to the shed, he led them as quickly as they could manage and found a gaping hole giving them easy access to inside. Hanging on the wall were three sets of white toxic waste coveralls and gumboots. Xander worried until a metal locker revealed a sports bag with a rather putrid old Tshirt and huge pair of sweat pants and joggers that reeked of foot odor. None of them cared. They dressed as quickly as they could Spike located a rather soiled hand towel, quickly tearing it to create splints from some loose skirting board for both Xander’s arm and his injured compatriots leg. All he could do for the little demon’s eye was lick it clean. They all decided to forgo the boots in preference for speed of foot, should they need to run.
As Xander pulled the sweatpants on he noticed something else at the bottom of the locker. A lunchbox. A full lunchbox. Opening it, he almost cried. Fresh sandwiches, a chocolate muffin and an apple. A beautiful red apple. None of them had eaten since the previous day, but there was no time to do so now. The half bottle of drinking water on the desk was requisitioned and Spike emptied one drawer of its contents while Xander looked in the other. They took the little over seven dollars in coins, a torch, some tape and the gum, then retrieved a newspaper and two half eaten waffles from the bin. Packing the precious cargo into the sports bag, Xander watched while Spike and the other vampire, as quietly as they could, tipped over the locker to lean on a now upturned table, leaving the small space looking as though the blast had done the damage.
They had to get away from the site but none had any idea where they were though the paper should give them some indication of the country at least. The other problem was going to be daylight. They needed to find secure shelter.
Spike mouthed, “Let’s just get away from here first!” They all nodded and followed.
They followed alongside a well used, dirt road that led away from behind the shed, hoping desperately that the helicopter did not return, or at least not until they were able to reach the cover of a trees that could be seen only a mile or two away. They were in luck.
The thicket was more than a few trees. Apparently the Initiative’s ‘medical’ facility had a ‘buffer zone’ of nature giving the impression of a ‘green conscious’ government organization and keeping the public blissfully ignorant of the horrors being conducted within.
Despite injuries throbbing and stomachs aching with hunger and thirst, they kept moving, supporting each other when anyone faltered. Finally Xander saw the outline of a farmhouse and some outbuildings through the trees. If they were lucky there might be a secure spot to hole up for the day.
They approached the home with extreme caution. If caught in their current attire, any explanation of who they were would simply lead them back to captivity. Rounding the corner of the shed, Spike saw a large dog chained to its kennel for the night, still a problem if it roused and raised the alarm. Xander touched Spike’s arm and indicated to one of the half eaten waffles he now held. Spike shook his head but the dog was already awake and sniffing the air. Xander stepped out from the building and walked across the moonlit space. The hound began to growl loudly but before a bark emerged Xander had thrown the waffle to it. He then walked up, held out his hand and was ‘accepted’ as ‘friendly’ as the dog snuffled around in case he had missed a crumb. Despite his own hunger Xander felt around in the bag again and produced the second piece and spied his fellow escapees quietly entering the barn as he did so.
He patted the dog one more time then joined them.
Spike was thrilled to see the hayloft laden with fresh bales. They climbed as swiftly as they could and ensconced themselves inside the straw by creating a small bale igloo at the rear of the stack.
It was warm and quiet, Xander opened the lunchbox and shared the contents with his blue friend before offering his wrist to Spike.
Spike shook his head a little and nodded toward the other injured vampire, “He needs it more.” But the other shook his head and with a forlorn look, fell into his gameface and opened his mouth. Every tooth and fang had been removed, the gums were red raw, it had been done recently and by the tearful look it was not the first time.
Spike bit down on his own wrist and trickled a little of his own blood into the violated mouth. The other suckled for a moment and then began to cry silently as he laved the wound.
Xander pushed his wrist to Spike again. This time his friend drank.
Spike had been strong to that moment but now was overwhelmed. “Oh [sob] ghhhhahhh… [sob]….. Pet [whispered]… We’re free…”
They all slept. Xander had no idea for how long, only that he awoke truly warm; he’d eaten fresh fruit; and was clothed for the first time in nearly two years. He was spooning Spike from the back and realized that the warmth at his back must be their little blue friend. The other vampire was the last in the set, but no less grateful for the comfort and heat.
The human lay awake simply enjoying the sounds. His ears were still ringing a little, but not so that he could not appreciate. A tractor started somewhere in the distance. The back fly screen of the house banged shut and sounds of country music on a radio drifted across the yard from inside.
His stomach rumbled a little, he remembered they still had a muffin and some water. He smiled. After what they had been fed for the last two years… he wasn’t really that hungry.
There were chickens somewhere nearby and the good folks obviously kept a turkey or two. Xander realized he had not heard the sound of a bird for the entire time of their captivity.
Two children skidded their bikes to a halt, obviously just arriving home from school. The door banged several more times and Xander began to cry silently as he heard the sounds of the two youngsters organizing to play catch.
He squeezed Spike a little closer, burying the sobs into his hair, trying to stay quiet, trying to stay hidden, trying to… survive. His arm throbbed, he shifted a little. The small blue figure behind him pulled in a little tighter. He fell asleep once more. They were still safe for now.
They all woke to the insistent sound of the ‘Blue suede shoes’ phone tone. The southern twang was unmistakable. They were somewhere in the south of the USA.
“Well Good Lord what did they all expect!”
“Well Cherise. I for one, am more than happy that those aberrations of life, are dead and gone! I cannot believe that our dear lord would countenance such filth! And that our government would do anythin’ but get rid of those insults to our lord!…
“Why In the name of our father! Of *course not* We were guaranteed… and there was never a mistake here at least!
“Well y’all know my feelin’s. Good riddance say I …
“Well of course(!!) I grieve for the families of the wonderful folks on that establishment!!!…..
“Were there many?.... Well that’s a relief…
“Pie? Why of course… What’re you makin?”
“How many on Sunday?…
“Were they believers?...
“Shame… Many children?
“Well thank God for that…
“Of Course not! Doesn’t make any of us a bad person! That murderous bastard… pleased he died with his truck.... demon filth!
“Yes of course see you tomorrow.”
They all heard the click as the phone went off. They all knew their current abode was in jeopardy... except that… at least two of them could not walk into the day and the third was blue.
“Gaahh” [thump… scrambling noises below them] “S@$%”
The dog barked.
“Mom will have you fer cussin’!”
The older voice now much closer, “You *baby*! Not if she don’t hear me she won’t!”
It was daytime, Xander knew as he woke. Perhaps a little bit human and in an old set of exercise gear, he might not ‘scare the locals’.
The noise was getting closer. He pushed his way out of their ‘igloo’, praying to every deity he knew that the precious friends inside would remain safe. Before the two entered the building, he kissed Spike then dropped to the ground floor, moving with less agility than he would have liked, and shifting to where the two young lads could see him.
He called on all his television watching of old, and tried for his best soft southern drawl in the desperate hope that he might not startle the youngsters.
“Hey y’awl…. Not meanin’ t’ startle you…”
“Hey Mister! Yer not s’posed ‘t be here.”
Xander attempted to step into the sight of the two boys, but they paled as his legs gave out with residual exhaustion, and he cried in pain when broken arm hit barn floor. He passed out with the simple audible word, “Don’t.”
A small soft hand was patting him. “You OK mister? ‘Cause my mom is not that great with folks from out of town… ‘specially thems what pass out.” And a cool wet towel pushed across Xander’s forehead. He knew the word, “Thanks” came from somewhere inside him. He assumed he had been recaptured, vaguely hoped Spike and their other friends had made it and passed out again.
Sometime shortly after, consciousness returned. He slowly registered the barn, which surprised him, but managed to whisper, “Food….. please???!!!”
The older of the two boys objected, “Pa said… no strangers”
“But *Jake* likes him, so he *can’t* be a ‘stranger’!!”
“Jake’s a dog”
“But he barks at Brother Bernard”
“Brother Bernard’s weird”
“You can’t say that!”
“I will and to father!”
“You can’t say *anything* to father… not about Brother Bernard or this!”
Xander looked on desperately as the two argued. The dog jumped suddenly, bumping his injured arm. He blanched and curled up further. A tear dropped. The boys ceased their quibbling.
“Hey mister, are you hurt?”
Xander’s had folded into a full fetal position on the floor his injured and splinted arm cradled safely against his waist. The question was direct, he looked up and gave the only answer possible. He nodded a little.
“Arm broken… maybe ribs too.”
A chirpy voice replied, “I had a broken arm once! Chad pushed me over..”
“I just tagged you and you fell!”
“B.S. You pushed!” [heavy sigh] “Anyways … it hurt and I had plaster… how come you don’t have plaster?”
Xander looked into the innocent face of the boy. He was placing his life in the hands of a child who could not be older than eight, and his brother who, by the looks of him, was a burly eleven or so. “I was hurt last night….” He closed his eyes again, “‘S OK.”
The youngest piped up again, “We should tell Mom! He smells somethin’ fierce, that's not right!”
“No tellin’ Mom! She’ll think we did it.”
“Will too… and she’ll take yer bike again!”
“Will too and you know it!”
The younger of the boys prodded the curled figure on the floor, “If we bring ya food ‘n all ya won’t go telling Ma will ya?”
Xander managed to shake his head. His arm throbbed; he desperately needed to pee; he stank; his throat was begging for a drink; and he was at the mercy of two small boys, knowing that three other friends were in even more dire circumstances if he failed.
“Well… can ya get up? ‘Cause if Pa finds you we’ll all get whupped”
Xander gradually and painfully uncurled… “Is it OK if I sleep in the hay?”
The younger of the two held his nose and answered, “Sure! But ya gotta promise t’ wash, ‘cause the straw is fer the animals!” His brother kicked him then added, “There’s water out back. And Pa always has a bottle of soap. Mom won’t let him in the house afore he washes his hands.”
Xander smiled a little, tried to give a thankful nod to the boys but was too slow. They had moved off.
He stood and did as instructed. He relieved himself in the bushes, drank deeply, then used the tank of icy cold water at the rear of the barn to wash. The sun was still up. He filled the wooden bucket, took off the putrid shirt and dunked it in the water. He washed the dust of the blast and filth of many months from his thin frame using the shirt, sadly noting that though incredibly thin, he was still the proud owner of female ‘parts’ and had no need to shave.
Without contaminating the water, he discarded the soiled water then carefully filled the bucket again. He soaped the smelly garments he had been wearing, wrung them out and hung them out of sight underneath the water tower.
As the cleaned and ‘watered’ Xander climbed the ladder to join his friends again, tears fell. He was grateful for the respite, but they really were so far from safe. Yet he was thankful, there had been a day before their obviously inevitable recapture, when he had walked freely and seen the sun. He took the time to be thankful to the gods. He knew that they had abandoned him, them, but was still grateful for the one day they had granted. The human cuddled into the embrace of his friend, the tightening of a reciprocal hug was so welcome…. He cried a little more, then oblivion took him.
They all woke to the quiet calls.
“Hey stinky man.”
“Shhh ya can’t say that!”
A scuffle was audibly apparent. Xander pulled himself from his sleeping position pulled the muffin from the bag and shoved it into a startled blue hand then shushed his fellow fugitives. He was risking himself to the two preteens once again, but now there was no other choice.
The tussle ceased instantly as he leaned over the loft’s edge and said, “I washed my clothes but they were still drying under the tank… do you think..?”
With the deer in headlights response of the boys, Xander’s heart fell, but then the youngsters moved, and he was briskly tossed two perfectly dry, sweet smelling garments. What staggered him the more was the size of the meal the boys had procured.
Along with the clothes came a sack of old school lunch, a full loaf of bread, a large serve of (albeit frozen) chowder, and a small bag of caramel popcorn, topped off with a carton of strawberry milk. There were no words. And strangely, two small boys felt they had done the right thing as the thin man said nothing but shed silent tears.
They had never seen a man cry before. They left him, confused but sure they had done something good and resolved to repeat the exercise.
Xander had eaten and drank and now lay quietly sharing his blood with his friend, just as Eddie (the blue demon’s name) shared his manually sliced wrist with Jonothan, the other blood dependant of their group. Xander mused… they had run for two days together before names were exchanged… he’d learned it was easier if they died without a name. He didn’t like losing the named ones… He hoped that would not happen again…
He pulled on the newly clean clothes and snuggled further into Spike’s reassuring grasp.
Xander woke crying on their third day of freedom… he couldn’t seem to control it… the black hole of life, death, whatever, was consuming him. So he cried. Last time the hormones had been withdrawn it was controlled, gradual, monitored. This time they had simply stopped. So he cried and Spike held. He knew some of the changes in him would not reverse, but the mood swings and depression had to go eventually…. He hoped, Spike hugged.
He was thankful that the small boys forgot to come the following day. The four friends had food and now Xander knew where to go, water as well. The other three managed a trip to the water tank around midnight on their second day in the barn, washing carefully and taking time to admire the myriad of stars, and smell the fresh air. It was Eddie’s turn to cry.
The boys arrived with food and a bottle of root beer in the afternoon of the third day in the barn. Xander had been quietly crying again, he couldn’t say why this time, but wiped his face and eased down the ladder to spend some time chatting to the curious boys. Still red eyed, he was asked to spit on his palm and shake hands (the spit, a sign of solidarity apparently) then promise not to ‘dob them in to Pa’.
The younger lad was now sitting on an old saddle slung over a low horizontal bar swinging his legs in a parody of riding a horse. He turned with a thoughtful look, “You ever played baseball mister?”
“Sure” Xander snorted a little at the notion, “but it’s been quite some time.”
The older one was leaning chewing a piece of hay for effect, accidentally chewed off the end and spat dramatically before asking, “You any good?”
A quiet reply came, “Not at pitching, OK batter.”
The younger one added, “In summer we’re allowed out after supper and the Hyland boys c’n play then too. That’s only a month off.”
The older one, Chad, narrowed his eyes and looked hard at Xander “Can you throw far… ‘cause you don’t look very strong.”
“Don’t be mean.”
“Well he don’t and anyways… d’ya need that arm what’s broken?”
Xander knew they could not stay hidden here for a month so throwing arms didn’t matter. He replied simply, “s’ OK throw with the other…”
“Great! We need an outfielder ‘cause Bobby here never catches anythin’!”
The door of the house banged shut and a female voice yelled, “Boys? Dinner!” There was a pause, “Now don’t y’all go makin’ me yell again! Come in right now or I’m sending your Pa to git ya!”
Xander had been remembering his own ‘house rules’ baseball with Jesse at that age, but snapped to as the insistent call came…
“Ya better go hide, mister… If Pa has ta come, we’ll git a hidin’.”
The two lads scrambled to the door, taking Jake with them and ran across the yard. Xander took their evening meal up the ladder and settled back into the igloo. They all heard the woman…
“Watcha all doin’ in the barn now? You better not be messin’ with your Pa’s tools or there’ll be hell ta pay…. Now git inside ‘n eat.”
Xander smiled sadly. He remembered similar comments, not about a barn particularly but about being late for dinner. But he was no longer a child, no longer even judged a ‘human’, no longer… anyone…really. None of them were and that alone was a death sentence if they were found.
It was day five of their time free, and Xander’s broken arm still throbbed but that was the least of his physical symptoms now. He had the mother of all headaches; his tiny breasts ached and the nipples were overly sensitive to every touch; the muscles around his balls pulsed with a strange nervous twitch; and he itched all over. In a bizarre twist of fate, he felt as horny as a teenager. He told Spike, who tried to help, but they had both shed a tear as the deft hand was unable to stimulate anything resembling an erection and the previously irritated scrotum apparently shriveled in sympathy with the lax phallus.
The torment continued the next day and the one after that. A week of nipples as hard as rocks, and a penis that neither recognized its owner, nor the inner (very urgent) ‘need’ of the rest of the body it was attached to. Spike felt helpless, so just held on as his friend quietly.
On the seventh day, as Xander suffered, Eddie offered that there might be some merit in ‘sexual congress’ between Xander and his ‘friend’. Xander snorted, yet closed his eyes and seriously considered. Jonothan made no comment, he rarely ever spoke more than a word, the toothless mouth causing him to lisp embarrassingly and spray spittle every time. Instead he stunned his three friends (and thrilled one of them) by baring his own behind to the blue speaker. The vampire had struggled a little with his still splinted leg in their small abode, then stared suggestively at his, hopefully interested friend, now lover. Eddie grinned, blinked slowly with his still intact eye, slicked himself with a handful butter from the stick that Xander’s little friends had provided with ‘dinner’ (somehow they had mistaken it for cheese), and with no further adieu, proceeded to bury himself balls deep into the vampire.
Spike and Xander gave them some space… moving ‘out’ for the ensuing hour or so of the evening. It was by Spike’s estimation, after midnight as they lay on the straw of the open hay loft, having politely abandoned their igloo hideaway to the amorous new couple. It seemed that the talents and sustainability of the blue demon suited the vampire.
Sadly, Xander was weeping again. Spike reached for the hand and held it…then pulled him in close and cuddled, just for comfort, in friendship. Xander had listened to Eddie, wished he felt normal, wished he was gay. But it was more than that… it had been so long… He just desperately wanted to feel... He figured it was still the hormone changes, but he knew he loved Spike… as more than a friend. He wondered if he would still feel like this after his body hair thickened again, wondered if it ever would. For the first time he wondered if he and Spike could ever be lovers, they had been through so much together…. But somehow he figured he was too freakish now for anyone to truly love him. He was desperately trying to stay quiet but a huge sob escaped…. Spike tightened his hold.
Minutes passed. Xander finally relaxed and turned to face his friend. They both felt it. Spike leaned down, Xander closed the distance and they kissed truly, in freedom, and for the first time. Noiseless was a given, tentative was the beginning, passionate followed the second minute, and after that came desperately and amorously and for…. They lost track of time, but were eventually invited back into their hiding space by a ‘psssst’ from a very satisfied looking Eddie and the gummy grin of Jonothon.
They had been utterly awake and painfully, tensely silent for nearly four hours, as ‘Pa’ tinkered with the tractor and continued to come in and out of his barn. It was a Sunday apparently and he was not in a good mood, grumbling to himself constantly.
“Preacher man needs a pitchfork up his arse! Since when has anyone prayed for a bunch of demon lovin’ idiots. Worse’n all them black lovers in the sixties.” Sounds of boots stomping out, then metal against metal as the engine rocker is removed.
“If’n I ever found one of them freaks on this property… pigs ‘d have a good meal that’s for sure.” Boots stomping inside again.
“The nerve! Lecturin’ us honest folk.” The footsteps went outside again.
A loud clanging followed, “Sweet Jesus! May!! May!! Send one of the boys out. Quick smart like!” The back door banged against the house, they all knew that sound too well.
“Whatcha hollerin’ about now?”
“Dropped the wrench… and ahh Hell woman!… Just send out one of the kids!”
“Don’t you go cussin’ at me mister… I saw ya sleepin through the sermon! It’s a wonder our lord don’t just strike you down right here!”
A more pleading voice replied… “Please May!!… You can beat my white behind ‘til the cows come home …. later! Please!! Just git Chad or Bobby??!! I got three fingers holdin’ half a tractor engine here and I’ve dropped the darned wrench.”
They stayed silent, they stayed hidden, but they could not risk staying for much longer.
The following day Xander chatted to the boys after school. The genial tone of an ‘older uncle’ was easy. He asked them about school; about baseball; thanked them again for the food; let them poke at his still very sore and broken arm; let Jake lick him and petted him in return.
Then finally struck up the courage….
“You guys have saved my life….. you do know that right?”
Bobby was instantly wide eyed with amazement. “So we’re like heroes or somethin’?”
“You are to me.”
Chad smelt a rat, “You’re not stayin’ are ya!”
“I can’t keep askin you two to help… but I tell you what, as soon as I can I’ll come back and I promise, I’ll be a little better than I am now… I promise…” Xander trailed off, wondering if this would be the moment the children gave him up.
“It’s OK mister. We figured you would have to leave sometime. But Jake still thinks you’re cool, so we do too.” Xander was sitting on the floor of the barn and as if to illustrate the point the large dog licked Xander’s face, then plonked himself down on the human’s skeletally thin feet.
Bobby looked more thoughtful than usual then offered, “Whenever I leave home I take a sack and some extra stuff. Do you need extra stuff? I’ll git it for ya, but ya can’t have Nilbert.”
Chad rolled his eyes, “You dumbass….” He looked knowingly at Xander. “Don’t worry about it Nilbert is a dumb stuffed bear.”
Xander saw the argument getting louder, it was their last day here, he did not want to attract attention, “Hey, hey…. No Dilbert …got it.”
“Sorry, of course… Nilbert…”
Chad spoke again after a pointed look to his little brother and a ‘put upon’ sigh, “Anyways… I reckon you’ll want some clothes and bit of food… and hey there’s an old guy…. Um lives off of Battle Lands Creek a county over. They reckon he’s mad but I figure you’re gonna need ta git a job sometime… and Pa reckons he’s only mad ‘cause he keeps takin’ in strays.”
Xander simply nodded and mumbled “Thanks.”
The two returned with a frozen loaf of bread and a few apples, plus a handful of old clothes.
Chad spoke first, “We couldn’t getcha more mister. Mom’s kinda mad with us right now cause we had to tell her we gave the butter to Jake, ‘n now she won’t let us in the kitchen.”
“Or the pantry!”
“That is the kitchen you idiot!”
“Gahhh you are just so dumb”
The two forgot about Xander as he examined the booty. Two full sets of clothes. Added to the admittedly oily flannel shirt and set of soiled women’s riding breaches, they would all be in somewhat ‘normal’ clothes… Still no shoes but beggars can’s be … and all that.
“I hate you!”
“I hate you more!”
“Care factor minus five!”
“You don’t know what that means!”
He could hear them still fighting as they entered the house. He sent a blessing for their innocent generosity to whichever deity looked after little boys, then climbed the ladder for the last time to distribute their newly acquired ‘wealth’.
Somewhere around midnight four silent figures climbed down from their hiding place, exited the building and made their way toward the trees again. Xander stopped to pat Jake and gave him the rest of the butter. The dog licked him with gusto then turned to consume the unexpected treat.
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