Leather and Lace
Spike woke to the kind caress of his human protector, and smiled into the warm hug of his lovely friend pressing him into the bed and kissing him soundly on the forehead. But courtesy of his very good feeding and rising awareness, Spike’s faculties were beginning to return… And he heard the unmistakable whine of monitoring equipment. It was the same annoying sound that was in the training room of Wolfram and Hart with his sessions with Illyria.
He held Xander tight as his vampire senses located the source, whispering, “Stay still, Pet… seems someone has decided to watch us… lift your foot love and wiggle it a bit so I can figure where the sound is coming from.”
Xander replied also in a whisper “Sh$#!!” but did as asked.
In a feigned kiss Spike was able to convey the needed information, “It’s somewhere in the kitchen… Xan just… go make coffee and see if there’s any new additions.”
Xander found the barely half inch diameter camera and microphone neatly attached to the underside corner of the kitchenette cupboard giving a full view of the bed. Xander disappeared from view as far as those monitoring, quietly took a screwdriver from his bag, levered off the device and stamped on it hard with the heel of his new shoes.
He returned to Spike, “That’s it, we take Jas’s offer and move tomorrow.”
Xander rang Jason, then the landlord. Two days later he carried his lovely vampire downstairs and into the cool of the night for the first time since their arrival. Spike was wrapped in a new throw rug and his old duster almost as he had been when Xander first entered the building, but was now aware and grasped Jason’s hand fondly and conveyed his feelings with a thankful smile as he was settled into the car for the short trip to their… Xander and his… new abode.
Stacy panicked – the images and the sound had apparently stopped on the Wednesday, and now there was no sign of the pair… they were no longer in the hotel! But Lilah had refused to be interrupted let alone sign any more authorizations that week, she was still entirely preoccupied with a certain Bunny Hainsley’s case against the law firm. Stacy was genuinely worried about the tail and feathers scenario, having just learned to deal with a not really adequate set of lower limbs.
The young PA filed the report from the Wolfram and Hart security group, pushed the request for more equipment rather apologetically back across her desk to the now rather desperate looking surveillance team leader, then retired for the weekend.
A month later, Lilah was furious to learn of the loss of transmission and for all Stacy’s trouble, the girl had again been subdued and now sported a very obvious feathered tail, rendering sitting on a normal chair impossible. She also had a forward lean to her walk as her spine permanently realigned to accommodate the new appendage.
Her boyfriend (from within the company) had been understanding about her feet, but would not even answer her calls after the new change. Eventually there was a short note on her Email from the articles clerk, and her boyfriend was friend no more.
Lilah smirked as she arranged for a brass perch for behind the girl’s desk as a final reminder. It forced Stacy to lean against a purpose built padded bar when working at her desk and had the effect of causing the young PA’s tail to be seen by every passer by on that floor.
When difficult clients happened into the office, Lilah took great delight in asking her assistant to attend “With your perch”. Stacy was then compelled to take two trips into the meeting room, one with her laptop and material, and the second to struggle in with the brass bar. Lilah always insisted that it be placed in full view of all concerned, a forced display of both tail and talons to any ‘reluctant’ negotiators. Stacy was always relieved when refreshments were demanded as it gave her time to exit the room and cry… again.
Lilah was eventually bored with the girl and intolerant of her whimpering. Stacy was hospitalized in the work lab for two days, the doctors completely ignoring the physical difficulty she was in, and studying her, rather than bringing relief. Their report finally read that she was suffering, “Work related stress”, and was simply incapable of providing adequate service to the high powered Ms Morgan. She was transferred to the data entry section in the bowels of the building and forgotten.
By sheer fluke however, she literally ran into Rodney, a rather hirsute, nervous new file clerk with cloven hooves at the water cooler on her way to the lift on the second day (as it turned out, a former Surveillance team member on the Harris case).
Despite his damp front, courtesy of the collision, and their initial embarrassed stares at the physical forms, they began to see each other outside work. He was attentive, and sent her text messages three or four times a day for the next month.
They were lovers soon after, and for the first time since her changes, she felt accepted in the kind care of her new partner. Her claws gripped his tough hooves painlessly as they partnered and he had swiftly discovered that stroking her tail was a guaranteed ‘turn on’ for both of them.
Stacy was humbled by his attentions, and his anger at her plight... their plight. He adored her as she was now, but abhorred what had been done. So it was, Stacy recovered her senses a little after yet another amorous hour or so in their third month together, finally released her vice like hold on the thick fur covering his buttocks, and his decision was made. He quietly pledged his intent that some form of retaliation needed to occur… though was unsure of the form it might take without repercussions.
The apartment was lovely, airy and light, open plan and admittedly small but bigger than the hotel room and just… perfect.
Jason apologized for the north facing windows, but was encouraged when Spike reached up from the couch he had been eased onto by his lovely carer and gave Jason a chaste kiss, whispering “Perfect Pet, thanks… boy here deserves the best… and you’ve given it to us… thank you.”
Jason’s teary smile and promise to return with Mark that evening – with a meal was confirmation for Xander that they had made the right decision.
While Spike slept again as Xander fussed about the position of the very basic rented furniture and made a list what they would require. He then took to the cupboards and reviewed the very basic implements that Jason and Mark had provided. He was pleased that he had a few extra funds in addition to his wage for now. Post Sunnydale he had not bothered to accumulate, but if they were here to stay, some things would be needed.
It was Friday night, their third in the new space. He and Spike were propped up in bed between borrowed sheets and covered by two thick bath towels, Spike’s old duster, Xander’s great coat and the throw rug.
“Get what you like Pet. ‘S your money after all.”
“But we both live here Spike! C’mon just look at the catalogue for a minute… Come on! You have to want… something more than that … thing!” Xander knew it was a low blow, but Xander was feeling a tired. The feeding glove was sitting on their rudimentary sideboard, its bulging single teat stared at him like some obscene sculpture in the window of an adults only porn shop.
He was about to say something but turned to see Spike’s pleading look and listened to the master vampire beg. The Big Bad, who had been burned more times than anyone could count and of late, had been drugged into submission, trained, then finally rescued, let tears fall in desperation, “But I need that… please!! Don’t… please Xan… please.”
Xander too let his emotions spill over his cheeks as he lifted the teat, watched the vampire pierce the latex and held it sadly as the smaller male figure emptied the bizarre feeding implement, released it, then buried his human face in the safety of his protector’s neck and promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.
It was Saturday before Xander had time to truly shop, but was the ideal client. His list comprehensive, his tastes specific and his hand drawn schematics of the apartment complete with measurements, ideal. He had kissed Spike at nine in the morning and by three in the afternoon had spent a significant amount of money but was able to report that they were now the proud owners of various accoutrements of modern life. He was rewarded by a sleepy kiss and a hug that pushed their two interested erections against each other and hands that insisted he become nude… quickly!
Jason chose that moment to arrive at their new ‘neighbor’s’ door. Xander groaned and willed his errant member down, but the effort was wasted. He arrived with an invitation to enjoy Mark’s home made pasta later that evening… and could not help but grin at Xander’s hastily wrapped throw rug and the cheerful ‘Hey Pet’ from the bedroom.
It would be their first real ‘outing’ in more than one sense of the word. Spike smelt the trepidation and took his friend in hand, bringing his friend to completion and kissing him soundly before apologizing and asking for his feeding teat before they went out.
Xander complied, then smiled broadly as Spike and he worked toward Spike’s full recovery, walking the full length of the apartment and starting some weights exercises using (temporarily) a five pound bag of sugar. Jason promised to lend his friends some of his and Mark’s unused equipment as soon as Xander and Spike were settled.
Dinner was wonderful. Xander carried Spike to the door to be greeted to the tall, elegant brunette Mark, the partner as quiet as Jason was effusive.
Unexpectedly there were other guests, but it made for a pleasant evening… and the quite wonderful meal in good company was the first time Xander and Spike had truly been together and welcomed as ‘a couple’… ever.
Mark, Jason’s partner, was attentive and concerned, even though obviously the host for the evening. His welcome extended to providing Spike with extra cushions for their initial seated ‘drinks and dips’ but also making sure he had a chair padded with warm wraps discretely tucked below the table for dinner. The gentle man dwarfed Spike’s form, but was polite and engaging, and Spike did not disappoint.
‘William’ the academic was some hundred and thirty years older than most in the room and wonderfully able to hold his own despite his recent illness, to the point that Xander was caught several times simply staring in awe of the amazing person he had been blessed to find. Forgetting all about the pre chipping/ensouling/Anya moments in preference to simply wondering at the age and experience of his lovely charge.
Mark was a wonderful host and even better chef, despite or perhaps because of, his job as resident psychiatrist at the newly opened Westwood Hospital. The meal was beautifully paced and presented, the music in the background discrete and the company excellent.
The other guests were David, a copyright lawyer for the Disney organization, and his partner Michael, classical cellist and sessional player for movie scores; Miranda and Jeff – she a well liked Aussi actress apparently, and he ‘a lovely friend’ who had agreed to accompany her for the evening; and an elderly Jewish couple from the top story of the building.
Elijah and Rachel were well still known in the ‘rag trade’ and had originally underwritten their two daughters, who had gone from their owning small shop to a Nordstroms regular, then switched to mens wear and now owned a controlling interest two of the top men’s wear companies across the world, boasting large establishments in the Golden Triangle and forty other locations across the US alone. But Rachel and Elijah were uninterested in possessing the large homes and flashy cars of their children – preferring to stay in their own humble home according to Rachel (though Xander knew that they owned almost the entire city block – and were, in fact, his landlords!).
Jason made a fuss of the elderly woman, but it was William who stole her attentions for the evening. He charmed Rachel and endeared himself to the rather ‘crusty’ Elijah with questions of their childhood in Lithuania, commenting knowingly on the Italians’ ability to make fine prints, and quizzing them both on the first play he should take Xander to once he was fully recovered.
Xander nodded to Mark, signaling to him, that his partner was allowed a little wine. Mark leant over Xander to fill Spike’s glass with a fine Chilean red but as he pulled away, paused to whisper, “It’s the first time I’ve seen her really take to someone. Even ol’ Jas has his work cut out. Seems your lovely partner has the wisdom of the ages and the charm of Casanova… what does he do again?”
Xander answered with a well practiced line, “He was a student of the classics, traveled a lot and um… soldier for good, you know action, injury and illness… knew him before but it’s different now…just have to focus on getting him well.”
“He’s a special guy Xander, Jas told me but… anyways… glad you both came.”
Xander smiled at his gracious host, and touched the hand that held the bottle for a little longer than was a casual brush. “Thanks Mark… for Jason… and you and all this…”
Mark smiled easily then put his free hand over Xander’s and winked, “Heck, I’m expecting you to keep Jas out of my hair for the next two weeks redecorating your place while I’ve got my resident’s review. Then we can have a payback party. Sound fair.”
“Weeks? Speed shopper here… days or hours! Working man!”
“OK maybe not you… but you have to promise to let William keep Jason busy in the shops at least two afternoons a week as soon as your lover is well – or even before – hello wheelchair!… Hey… [winks] they were obviously made for each other! Intelligent, emotional, impetuous, fragile, young?? Hmm?? ”
Xander didn’t correct the last descriptor, but instead returned the squeeze, muttered, “Yup, and more than you know,” then turned his attentions to the other guests and his partner. And grinned as he noticed what Mark was already looking at.
Spike had switched from the dialogue with the elderly couple, to engage in an intense conversation with the pretty actress over the merits of watching a screenplay of a classic over reading the book, she delighting in his knowledge of the various original texts and witty dialogue; and he reveling in her intelligent repartee, easy laughter, wonderful skill with accents and apparently unaffected, natural charm.
Xander would have been jealous but for the wickedly seductive look Spike occasionally shot his way.
Spike had been irreverent and genuinely friendly to all at the table, but by coffee was obviously grey and waning. Jason quietly squeezed Xander’s hand, acknowledging that they could all see it and it was fine to leave.
Xander did the same under the table to Spike and saw the vampire’s relief. They both thanked Mark and Jason, and they bade farewell to their fellow diners, before Xander lifted his slim partner into his arms and departed.
Elijah was the first to speak after the door closed. “Oi Gewalt… I had no idea! The dear boy… he was so…”
Miranda finished for him, “Full of life… filled with life… And yet he seems so…”
Rachel finished for her, “Sad. He has lost… many close to him, I am happy to guess… He has the eyes of a survivor… He has seen too much… Lovely boy though… Sweet boy… ”
Mark ventured his first public comment for the evening, “Well cancer is about grief, but I guess Jas and I are hopeful. Alexander well… you all met him… But you’ve got to admit they make a lovely couple… and well I hope you...”
There was resounding agreement around the table. The two new neighbors were definitely on the ‘please come again’ list.
Jason brightened with the consensus then switched gears, “Now Michael, you were telling us about your newest project…” And so the evening progressed.
Xander quietly returned to their new abode, tucked his lovely, already unconscious charge into bed then stripped himself quickly and simply spooned the smaller figure from behind. He blessed whatever deity had been with him earlier that day as he snuggled down into the heat of an electric blanket on low and pulled Spike closer.
“Ms Morgan?” The very new, very nervous, personal assistant waited for her superior to indicate she might enter.
“So?” Lilah tapped her foot, deliberately setting the young woman even more into panic mode.
“I… No… Um … they… they…”
“Do you want your tongue to stay in one piece? Because… anytime soon …”
The terrified blonde blurted out the rest in a babble fest that outdid anything Willow could have conjured in her days of junior high, “They’ve-found-where-he-works-and-found-s
Jeri-May struggled not to sob and waited patiently while the alpha female of Wolfram and Hart took in the information, then almost fainted at the reply.
“Fine, just bring me the details.”
The next four weeks proved far less stressful than the hotel experience, partly because the man and the vampire began to settle into their new abode and a regular routine, and partly due to Spike’s improving health… though he still had his moments.
Particular behaviors seemed to coincide with bizarre dreams, leaving the vampire half way between asleep and awake. Xander now knew to simply push the duster close and feed Spike almost continuously with the glove until full consciousness returned. With the massive amounts of blood taken in such bouts, Spike had filled out and was walking on his own again. They now worked out together of an evening with the borrowed weights, and showered and ate together. What still wasn’t quite right, however, was Spike’s general mental state.
Xander had seen his friend homicidal pre chipping, pouting and petulant post; he had been obsessed/devoted to Buffy pre soul and crazed in a basement after; he had been brave and a friend to the end in Sunnydale… but this Spike… this vampire was as needy and as clingy as a small child. He waited quietly for instructions and only seemed willing to move from the curled position on their bed, or wherever Xander had left him in the morning, when his protector returned from work at the end of the day.
From time to time, over the ensuing month, Xander would suggest that they try something other than the feeding glove, but his somewhat recovering friend would begin to beg for it to remain. Genuine tears would fall as pleading blue eyes melted Xander’s heart along with any resolve.
If he suggested that the duster might be hung in the cupboard rather than held in the vampire’s arms during the daytime when Xander was at work, Spike would retreat into a corner, curl around the old coat in a fetal ball, and cling to the duster with a vice like grip. If Xander pursued the issue and tried to tug the leather away, the former ‘Big Bad’ would hold on for dear unlife and begin to shake as though in severe shock.
And if Xander suggested Spike go out at night – all the way out of the building - the previously fearless Master vampire would panic, pull himself tightly into his protector’s side, and began to breathe so heavily that Xander wondered if he needed to worry about his vampire passing out from hyperventilation.
All incidents were peppered with the same plees for clemancy… “No!!! No! Please… Xan! Please… Sire… I’ll be good! I need… I need this! I can’t…Oh Xan… I can’t… I [sob] … I just can’t! Please Xan… I’ll be good, I will! I’ll be good for you…” The begging was always followed by an almost catatonic state of sobbing and rocking that would only abate after many minutes of petting and quiet reassurances from his exasperated carer.
When Xander was home, Spike was generally calm and charming, so long as he had the human’s constant touch. Apparently the vampire was utterly at peace as long as he was in contact with any part of Xander, even if only a foot under a table or fingertips touching a thigh.
Jason and Mark visited several times, and a reciprocal dinner party saw a night of good take out food, classic movies from the thirties (playing as background atmosphere admittedly), and a very average game of mahjong, after they all drank a little too much.
The discussion was easy, Rachel and Elijah again charmed by Xander’s slim partner. Spike was obviously well read and well traveled and had a keen sense of history.
By the end of the night there was no way Rachel and Elijah, Mark and Jason, or Miranda (and a new ‘friend’ - name still to be remembered) could have missed the constant soft touches, the tender stroking or, in the end, the inert figure of Spike curled up in Xander’s lap snoozing happily.
As the others made moves to leave, Xander eased his sleeping friend onto the couch. He carefully covered the small male with a throw rug and bade farewell to their guests in the wee hours of the morning. Mark stopped behind for a moment, nodding knowingly to Jason who continued the short journey back to their apartment, before addressing their mutual friend.
“You know Jas and I think the world of you both right?”
“Well… yeah feeling’s mutual… although I think you might just have ‘But-face’ there….”
Mark looked shocked and utterly confused for a moment “Butt … what??”
Xander gave their friend a break, “But – as in I have just given you a compliment but so need to give you another message… ‘But – Face’ ie expression… ah geez not explaining, and so the babble guy… stopping now… Figure this is about my pretty partner right?”
Mark looked a little worried, “Xander, please stop me if I am out of turn. It just seems that Will is still very needy even though he’s had a pretty good physical recovery. I would venture that there’s more going on… He’s learned to be helpless and really needs to work through that.”
Xander looked worriedly at Mark, but the man’s face was a picture of friendship, concern and professional knowledge, along with a willingness to advise. He replied in a near whisper, “Will’s the bravest individual I’ve ever known, and if you’d seen… when I… he was so thin and so near to… And we’ve come so far but now it’s sort of a plateau, I don’t know what to do. Geez... Mark, he won’t even go outside the building! I’m probably doing him more harm by giving in to his… it’s just… oh… I don’t know!”
Mark walked forward and placed a strong hand on the brunette’s shoulder, “Don’t think that – it’s obvious you’ve been there for him but now how about letting me help if I can.” Mark waited while Xander’s shoulders tensed then relaxed a little.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“What? Nothing… Nothing!! No wrong implied! Just that… severe illness often ends up leaving as many mental scars as physical ones. Can leave folks feeling powerless, needy… um… fearful it will all happen again – strategies for dealing with those issues is where I think I can help.”
Xander looked back at the small figure sleeping on the couch, duster firmly in his grip. He loved the new Spike, but desperately wanted his friend strong and confident again. “What do I need to do?”
“There’s some really big things that need to happen, but I don’t know him enough to judge that, so for now maybe just start with some little changes. You know maybe you can gradually replace the behaviors that you feel are getting in the way of his recovery with more desirable, more ‘confident’, more independent ones. Praise him and reward him whenever he shows improvement – think of it like sports coaching. … And get him to tell you what he’s thinking if he can, no matter how bad it is, and work it through logically if he’s up to it… Seems like he needs to belong, and he adores you that’s for sure Xan… not sure what to suggest without treating him formally… But just ask any time you need help – we’re here for you Xander You do know that don’t you.”
Xander raised grateful chocolate eyes to the face of their lovely new friend. “Yeah… thanks.”
Spike stirred a little, rolling over and releasing the duster from his grasp. This was followed by a rapid return to consciousness and swift action by Xander, placing the garment back in the arms of his beloved vampire, as he looked apologetically at Mark. He was embarrassed for Spike whose reaction was semiconscious, the relaxed nuzzling into Xander utterly instinctive, as the item was gently replaced. But Jason’s lovely partner, their friend, took it all in his stride.
As soon as Spike was sleeping again Mark quietly suggested a few options then departed.
Xander wished he could have divulged his greatest worry – the feeding teat – but he suspected that such discussions would have led to his own incarceration in a nice padded cell, rather than any advice re Spike.
Mark hugged Xander as he left and whispered, “There’s a nice coffee shop two doors up… they open late – take Will after work… and get him to wear the jacket… just a suggestion.”
Two evenings later – a Monday – found Xander trying to convince Spike once again, to venture out. He had eaten well, three gloves full of just outdated human AB pos and a little top up of ‘Xander special’ straight from the wrist – though sadly the former still taken via the teat. Xander pleasured his pretty friend with simple strokes and gentle nips and licks as his lovely charge fed, the two forms of pleasure so obviously interlinked that the act came naturally now and brought as much pleasure to the deliverer as the receiver. Yet still the answer to the question of giving up the glove, was an emphatic “No”.
Spike slept a little following his climax and denial of the request, but seemed to rally a little around a half hour later, and Xander took his chance.
He tugged the old duster from Spike’s arms and dropped it on the floor before wrapping himself in his lover’s tight embrace in its stead. He lay awake thinking as his lovely blonde friend continued to automatically stroke his protector – even in sleep. Xander thought about Mark’s words, his own knowledge of vampiric law and Spike’s own experiences.
Spike woke, feeling for his duster but registered only the skin and strong body of his protector. He looked about alarmed and confused. But Xander was ready and before the vampire had a chance to panic, he started to lave and suck on Spike’s original claim mark, Angel’s mark. He’d never dared before, but now it made sense, there were sucker marks from Illyria overlaying those of vampire fangs, indicating a consequent claim that had endured unaddressed. Now another would overtake it.
Spike submitted to the feel over his mark and groaned as Xander bit down hard, obliterating the circular scoring of flesh and drawing blood with human teeth, continuing to take the obviously willingly given gift until his lovely friend spent without being touched and sobbed with relief.
Sire had finally taken him fully. Spike relaxed and allowed a tear to fall. His rescuer, an old friend, the one who felt like Sire, had claimed him at last. He took Xander’s proffered wrist and bit down reverently, taking but two drafts then licking the wound closed.
“Thank you Sire.” It was said with such adoration and awe that it was Xander’s turn to feel teary, but the sparkle in the azure blue eyes gave him hope.
They both snoozed in their embrace for a short while before Xander struggled to consciousness and as Spike’s awareness returned, it was obvious that the strategy had at least ‘moved the bar’ a little.
Spike rolled over and kissed his brunette lover, but unlike before, did not panic at the absence of his duster. He seemed content to simply touch his friend.
Xander praised and kissed his lovely vampire, stroking him to conclusion as a reward for his bravery. His resolve almost faltered as Spike arched silently, spent his seed, and sighed, ‘Sire’, before snuggling into Xander once more.
Taking a further risk, Xander waited several moments then kissed his vampire back before extracting himself and heating two bags of blood, offering Spike a mug of blood for the first time since he had been around him in Sunnydale. The look of distress was expected, as was the “Please Sire… Please?!”
What was different was the response to Xander’s voice. It seemed that the taking of Spike’s blood and consequent actions had indeed made a difference.
Xander addressed his friend in a commanding tone, “You will take of blood from the cup Childe, only then may you suckle for comfort.”
Spike acquiesced immediately and did as instructed.
By the end of the following week, the duster was permanently draped over the chair near the bed, and the feeding glove was only used for morning comfort as Spike tried to fall asleep again after Xander went to work.
A week later, Xander had been asked to attend an evening work function and could not come home in between. Spike made it to Elijah and Rachel’s penthouse suite under his own steam for drinks ‘by special invitation’.
It was a significant achievement. He managed to decide when to eat, when to leave, dressing, finding keys, leaving a note and, more importantly, leaving the duster behind. But he had promised Xander and would be gifted with Sire’s blood or the feeding teat that evening if he was successful.
The evening was delightful. Rachel and Elijah had invited another elderly neighbor Pauline, an aging wealthy ex New Yorker, whose ample form, bleached hair and easy laugh made for fine company.
The evening consisted of cocktails and fine music and discussions of literature and travel. The ‘older’ neighbors were again pleased at William’s genteel nature and extensive knowledge. The evening ended in an impromptu game of poker, played with the rice crackers from the cheese board as ‘collateral’. No one minded who won or lost.
Pauline was as taken with William as her two hosts, and upon exit promised her dear friend Rachel to ‘look out for that one’.
Spike returned to the haven of their home alone, but immediately felt Xander’s presence.
A sleepy voice and warm arms greeted him as he entered the bedroom, “Hey… Good time?”
Spike stripped quickly and joined his lover under the covers, snuggling down onto a broad chest before he answered, “They’re nice, but I missed you.” He was offered the wrist and the teat and took the wrist for the first time as a preference since his return. Xander grinned as the vampire bit down. Spike laved the wound shut and they both sighed with relief for very different reasons then drifted off to sleep.
Less than a week later, Spike and Xander ventured out of the building for the first time. Spike wore his duster and would be allowed to drink from the glove, if he needed, upon their return (that was the deal).
Vampire and human walked close together in the chill of the evening. If anyone had cared to notice, they were hand in hand.
They headed for the small bar/restaurant recommended by Jason.
They ordered drinks and tiramisu to share, adding to the rather handsome male waiter, ‘Juan’ according to his badge, that Jason and Mark said ‘Hi’. Juan grinned and he replied in a heavy Spanish accent, “I have been waiting for jyou to come! Jaison and Marko are the best – jyou have good friends!”
Juan was attentive and unobtrusive, delivering their hot chocolate ‘on the house’ at the end of the evening.
Two nights later they attended the restaurant again with Mark and Jason, staying so late that the night was completed with Juan and the rather portly but no less attractive French chef, Fabian, sitting at their table sharing a bottle of port and platter of leftover hazelnut and chocolate barquettes.
Spike engaged with Fabian easily, the chef and guest arguing good-naturedly (in fluent French) regarding the merits or otherwise of various quirks of French cooking, including truffles, brioche and a number of wines that Xander had never heard of. Xander was initially worried as he simply could not tell what the heated gesticulating was all about, but when Fabian roared laughing and grabbed Spike across the table to kiss him on both cheeks, then continue the rapid conversation, the human relaxed. There were definite flashes of the Spike of old shining through.
Mark leaned over to Xander and whispered, “Shoot Xander?! He is beautiful, I never would have thought!? One minute he’s talking to me about the intricacies of anatomy and the next he’s there with Fabian and in French! No wonder Rachel’s reading to adopt! My Jas’s the one for me… but just look! Gahhh Xan… he’s wonderful… and you’ve done such a great job… incredible.”
Xander grinned at the lovely psychiatrist, “Yeah he is special. We’re not there yet, but hey, what you said made the difference. Anyone asks, I’ll be tellin’ them that I took some good advice from a friend, an expert!… So there you go… thanks… for everything.” Xander reached over and squeezed Mark’s hand.
Jason noticed and Xander smiled at him also. They all watched the recovering blonde as he engaged Fabian in an intense conversation regards the merits of double or triple cream when accompanying fine poached stone fruit.
Mark grinned and knew without a doubt. Their lovely neighbor William had much more to his story than he or Xander had divulged to date – not the least of which was the history of his fluency in French, knowledge of anatomy and obvious flair for literature and the finer points of gastronomy!
They all departed the restaurant around midnight, Fabian and Juan making their own way home, while Mark and Jason, Xander and ‘William’ took a leisurely stroll back to their apartments arm in arm with their partners.
Spike looked around twice. He kept hearing the whine of electrical equipment, but eventually put it down to his own paranoia at their first trip out. He grabbed Xander’s arm a little tighter and despite their relatively exposed position, pulled in for a passionate kiss while waiting for the crossing lights to change.
Jason and Mark smiled, happy to see their lovely friends finally beginning to enjoy each other in public again. Jason took the moment to give the usually reserved Mark a quick fondle and was rewarded by a nip to the ear and a “You’ll pay for that”, with the reciprocal naughty grin and a “Counting on it.” in reply.
Spike could smell their friends’ arousals. Xander didn’t need to. They all increased their pace and were home within minutes. But not before the Wolfram and Hart surveillance team had all they needed.
Spike fed from the glove, then he and Xander explored each other until mutual climax saw them both fall into sated sleep in the early hours of the morning.
The following morning should have been perfect – at least in Xander’s mind, but there was the old argument again.
“I still bloody need it … please just a little?”
“I thought you were getting better… I mean we went out and we had … fun and…”
“No the same … Not the same!!! Please Pet… Luv… Oh Gahhh… Sire… Please!!!”
Xander finally gave in and filled a glove again before leaving for work. He tied it off and handed it to the vampire.
“Just… let’s get this straight… I need you strong Spike… I want you strong… but you’ve got to… help yourself too… Geez I can’t do everything!” He gave the vampire a cursory kiss on the forehead and very brief hug before storming out, feeling frustration and shame in equal measures regards the last half hour of conversation.
Xander was called up within minutes of attending the site.
“I’m a little confused, Mr Johns? Can you define for me what is wrong with my team in your opinion? We are on time, in fact our team is ahead of your defined schedule, which quite frankly, given the variable weather conditions, is a tribute to the group – and your choice of team, Sir.”
Xander stood, hard hat in hand in front of the rather cheap desk, matching the office that sported neither fan nor air conditioning.
The rather sweaty, rotund gent with watery eyes stood uncomfortably in the presence of two unnamed men as Xander fielded his questions. Nicotine stained fingers pulled at a loose edge of the veneer of his desk, and an overly rosy nose reflected both his after hours imbibing and current extreme discomfort.
Hamish Johns was a man in his late fifties, and had always enjoyed the patronage of Wolfram and Hart. He had benefited from tax breaks, several ‘favorable legal outcomes’ and advantageous negotiations, all in exchange for overlooking a number of dubious employees and several anomalies in the buildings’ designs – simply building to plan.
But occasionally Johns had the hard yards to do for his ‘advantages’ with the company so he reviewed the report from the company directors. He liked Xander and could not give a toss regards his employee’s personal lifestyle choice – despite his investors’ concerns and having been provided with photographs from a ‘private source’. If they were prejudiced than it was not his concern – and if push came to shove, he would be sure to tell the unions how Alexander Harris had proven himself time and time again as a professional.
As far as Regional Manager Johns was concerned, Alexander Harris was one of his best project managers – with a history of large construction contracts and an impeccable record. Yet now he was being asked by the investors to move his best manager ‘sideways’.
What fascinated him was the trouble they had gone to find ‘dirt’ on his mild mannered and utterly competent employee. But Hamish valued his own job, so called Xander in to ‘discuss options’.
“There’s nothing wrong with your work, Xander… It’s just a… restructure of the company, that sort of thing.”
“So I’m losing my job?” Xander suddenly felt like the Xander of Sunnydale, pre construction industry. Yet another job lost – and how would they pay for the apartment if he wasn’t working?
“No… no… Alexander, you must know that I value your work immensely, but I suggest you have a chat to these gents. They are quite persuasive so I’ll understand if you want to move on instead of opting for another position here. You’ve done great work… terrific! And I’m also conscious that you’ve got some family responsibilities.” Hamish had been shown the anonymous photos by the W&H team but believed in a person having their own ‘quirks’ so long as it did not impose on their work.
Lilah had been furious that the site boss had been rather blasé regarding his newest employee’s sexual orientation, but unwilling to show their hand, swiftly decided on a different tack. They approached the directors of the construction company and proposed a consulting position for one of their ‘newest and brightest’ employees.
Xander was sitting, rather stunned in his boss’s office only half listening… A promotion? After only a few months? “…So that’s it. I’ll understand if you do decide to go… Anyway, you’ve been called to head office. Congrats son, if you take the promotion you’ll be missed but I’ll be the first to say it’s well deserved. They have a car waiting for you now.”
Xander collected his briefcase and jacket before joining the ‘investors’ in the waiting limousine. Instinctively he knew there was something amiss as he entered the car, but the conversation with the pretty PA was cheerful enough. He was a bit puzzled by her choice of traditional sari and flowing soft pants and … rather unusual footware, but as the pretty woman smiled at him he relaxed and dismissed any queries.
They drove to an enormous glass clad black building downtown. His pleasant hostess seemed to be a little uncertain on her feet as she alighted and he helped her to stand, only to realize that the woman had some sort of physical disability and was struggling to navigate the polished surface of the entrance. He assisted her graciously but wondered at the severity of deformity that might have caused the need for such odd custom made shoes and all covering, flowing long black pants. It was obvious that Wolfram and Hart were an ‘inclusive’ employer but surmised it was the quick smile and intelligent wit of the woman as the reason for her work at the firm.
The young PA ushered him to the enormous board room on the twelfth floor.
Xander was aware that he did not have his resume or any other material one would normally take to a job interview/review with him. But it was seeing Lilah at the top of the boardroom and photos of and obscured Spike and he kissing… and their fuzzy forms making love in a Powerpoint loop that he realized his error in even entering the car.
“Welcome Alexander Harris. I always thought we would meet again. Now it seems you have a new little ‘friend’ and I guess we were curious… Oh we’re not particularly worried about your orientation – though that is fun (seems your employer really isn’t interested which is a shame!) No, what is more interesting is the idea that he is a vampire… oh yes Mr Harris we do know that. His ‘signature’ is also that of an old vampire – a master – what a delicious coincidence, given that we would love to have a Master around to ‘review’.” There was no mistaking the malice in her voice.
“And of course we would love you to join our ‘inner circle’, the directors of the entire building group with a wage plus bonuses. All you need to do is hand over your little friend. A Master vampire needs to be controlled after all!”
But Xander was a child of the Hellmouth, “Well not wanting to be ungracious, but gotta say guys? Not interested… Happy here and if that means I lose this job too well… hey… got the Tshirt for that.”
“I think you should consider carefully Mr Harris, it does seem your partner is at risk at the current time – indeed you may both be of interest.”
Xander was on his feet and ready to leave when Lilah spoke up. “It’s a pity… Ahhh to be twice denied… Seems you are of no use to us Mr Harris. Although, we do have one client who might have use for you, and is rather starved of attention at the moment. I have assigned you to her and look forward to you working in that capacity.
“Oh… and you will be pleased that your little ‘love interest’ will be looked after following your ‘change of workplace’ – part of Wolfram and Hart’s commitment to their clients. We will find him and I imagine he will be of interest given his ‘non-human’ status”. Xander panicked and began to stumble backwards and headed for the door before feeling the prick of a needle and registered with alarm Lilah’s last few words as he fell into blackness.
As he came to consciousness again he registered his own nudity, and that he seemed a little… stuck! He tried to pull away. The more he tugged and twisted, the more he became entangled. Panic ensued.
It felt like he was in a bizarre dream as the hairy appendages captured him, the barb punctured his thigh and his body only just coming into his control, immediately fell still, refusing to cooperate. He was paralyzed… He lay entwined and immobilized, staring up in horror as a myriad of eyes, eight hairy legs and a huge hairy abdomen loomed over him.
He wished he and Spike had not quarreled as he lay helpless while his body was touched by the furred prickles of giant spider legs. He somehow knew that if knew he was to be dinner and wished Spike would forgive him for being so stupid, for being late, for abandoning him, for failing to come home with his O pos as promised, for not making love to him, for not... just for everything he had ever failed at.
He wished Spike might know, wished the vampire would run, wished someone might have noticed… wished someone would come… but his ‘reality chip’ kicked in and he knew, there would be no rescue… a second piercing of the barb led to the inevitable… he passed out.
Xander had no idea how long he had been unconscious. He was still oddly numb all over and utterly unable to move any of his limbs. He was aware enough to know that he had been folded into a fetal position and that he was being lifted swiftly by four of the spider’s eight legs. The giant arachnid then began to drag a thick sheet of silk and spin him in her arms as he was bound tightly like an infant in traditional swaddling. With no control of his own gaze, he saw the floor, the black hairy abdomen, the ceiling, the wall, then the floor repeatedly. Bound tight, he felt another sting as he was injected yet again, this time it was somewhere in his lower back. He would have cried with pain if he could but then felt an incredible lassitude overtaking his body as functions slowed to a near halt.
Bound as he was, he was still conscious, though now obviously without any control of voluntary muscles. Even his eyes were out of action, apparently fixed forward, though thankfully he was still able to blink, and his heart, lungs and other internal organs continued, though he knew at an impossibly slow rate. His digestion seemed to have slowed to a halt and bodily functions along with it (Though a day or two later Xander reflected that it might also be due to the final terrifying moments before his complete paralysis when his body had rid itself of the last of its waste).
He had no idea of time nor of how long he slept and did not sleep, but was merely aware that he was warm and ‘contained’. He was unbelievably thirsty and had no control over his tongue but did manage to groan as the Spider returned for the second time and dinner – two bodies up from his own hanging grave.
He could just see through the fine silk, though sounds were muffled. Xander’s concern was that he could see that he was suspended by in the ‘larder’ section of the web, along with three other wrapped forms. What worried him more was the hand sized spiders – obviously the infants beginning to emerge from the now empty shell of a fourth hanging figure. Obviously they had been gestating in the figure and were now making their own way in the world.
Being sucked dry in an afternoon suddenly seemed a preferable option to being eaten alive from the inside out by several hundred hungry young spiders. But in his current inert and tightly bound state, it was hardly his choice. His heart and breathing rates were out of his control too, but his tears were still his own. Xander let them fall and they kept falling until the silk holding his form was soaked through with the salty outpouring.
He slept again and woke with an utterly dry throat, cracked lips and a thumping headache. He contemplated that he would die of dehydration through lack of a drink far earlier than evisceration by his eight legged captor. One more day with no water and he would be unconscious with thirst and no longer need to worry about his situation.
He knew Jason would look after Spike… or would he? Xander sent a prayer to whatever higher power was listening, and asked that they look after his lovely friend, and that his friend understand that he had loved the vampire to the end, that he had not, would not abandon him.
It was late afternoon. Xander was not home. Spike waited, and tried to be brave.
There was something wrong. He felt it and drained his feeding glove… then went to the fridge and found the small jar of ‘emergency Xander blood’ that his rescuer, his lover, his friend who seemed so angry at him for being weak, always left. He stared at it and worried, eventually closing the door and returning to his vigil beside the phone.
It was a very long night.
He rang Xander’s mobile hourly. It was always off and switched to a voice mail immediately.
He rang Xander’s work early the next morning.
A chirpy voice reported that the office was closed so he rang Xander’s mobile one more time. It was still off.
Finally took a deep breath and rang Xander’s boss on his ‘emergency only’ number. It was seven am, Hamish would be leaving for work soon.
A male voice answered, “Johns’ residence.”
“Hello, I’m…William? Um… a friend of Alexander Harris? Sorry to trouble you but he… he didn’t return from work yesterday and I’m … um… just wondering if you knew… since he works with you and… there’s no-one in the office now and…”
“OK, let me stop you there son. Xander was off site yesterday – called to the head honcho’s office. I reckon he might have gone out to ... you know … ahhh … celebrate after… I wouldn’t worry, he hasn’t called me, but he’s probably on his way to work right now.”
Even as he said it, Hamish felt rather worried. Other employees had been ‘shifted’ by the investors in the past, requested to attend meetings with W&H, and never seen again.
For the most part he had turned a blind eye as they were the employees were folks he had taken on under duress anyway, and many had been rather a burden. But Xander had been a terrific addition to his team.
The tall male from Sunnydale was obviously a skilled manager - efficient and fair in his dealings with subcontractors; effective in resolving the many problems that inevitably arose on a building site; and an intelligent and much liked ‘boss’ for all the workers under his supervision.
Hamish was also sympathetic of Xander’s status – the building industry had traditionally never taken kindly to folks ‘batting for the other team’. At parties, even he had to be careful, since his own daughter had a permanent girlfriend – though that always seemed easier to explain, as for some reason, two girls sleeping in the same room raised little suspicion.
Hamish worried. Xander was not only a good worker but a caring and loyal man. That he had not contacted his friend, or come home, seemed utterly out of character.
“I’m sure it’s all fine, son. He’s probably just decided he shouldn’t drive home. I’ll give you a call when he comes on site, but you make sure, if you haven’t heard from me, or he doesn’t turn up by the afternoon, you give me a call and I’ll contact Wolfram and Hart. And hey if he rings? Tell him he owes me some overtime!” The attempt at a jovial tone in the voice fell flat, and did nothing to placate Spike’s worry, and the ‘Wolfram and Hart’ reference made the vampire’s blood run cold.
They had Xander – he just knew.
He stood with the fridge door open, staring at the jar of Xander’s blood for a time, then gave in.
With an unnecessary inhalation, then sigh, he pushed the container into the microwave and heated it just enough before pouring it into the glove.
He would not panic, he had to be there for Xan, and he would not panic! As he watched the container circle, a small part of him hoped it was all a terrible mistake. That Xander had just stayed out for the evening to punish Spike. But he knew in his gut, that it was not true, Xander would not abandon him like that – not even for a night.
He filled the glove with a shaking hand, then grabbed his duster and curled up on the couch by the phone to feed. Xander’s blood. He should have felt just a little twinge of connection, but there was nothing. He pulled the duster up over his head, tugged the arm in close to his body and began to rhythmically caress the soft leather and suck the teat dry until sleep took him for the day.
Early evening, Spike woke with such a jolt that he rolled off the couch and fell to his knees as registering unexplained pain. The blood connection with his wonderful savior was wide open – and working! It crippled him with an urgent plea for help.
Spike had not felt such a desperate call since his connection with Angel and before that… Dru. The distress was coming from a muted source but still strong enough to be felt.
Spike was frantic. It was undoubtedly Xander.
The old Spike would have tackled the problem alone and without thought, but the vampire was now too timid to even venture out of the building alone. Instead, he checked for messages on the phone, rang Hamish to alert him that Xander had not returned.
Hamish sounded worried. It was not a good sign. But there was no offer of help.
He did the only thing he could think of. Tears began to fall as he called Jason. Mark picked up.
The two men were at his door in seconds. They willingly embraced the distressed friend as Spike gave a halted account of his fears and the hours prior, and enough of the Wolfram and Hart ‘backstory’ that they might understand the potential danger.
“C’mon Will… we can do something… I mean… are you sure?!” Mark had taken on his ‘clinical’ persona, suspecting that their dear friend might be manifesting paranoia – given other difficulties discussed with his carer, it would make sense. To try to make sense of the situation Jason gave a quick call to the Johns’ home and sadly confirmed Spike’s story.
He turned in shock to the distressed pale friend, “Geez Will, what can we do? I mean if these guys are gangsters?... What about the police?”
Spike was now curled up on one lounge, while the lovely partners were seated on the opposite piece of furniture. He simply stated miserably, “Worse than Gangsters – Evil law firm, and it’s all my fault!”
Spike was not ready to divulge everything, but instead took what comfort he could from the two lovely neighbors.
The men listened as he confessed various details, first of Xander and his long time friendship; then of ‘taking on’ the firm after working for them and finding out regards top level corruption; of losing some fight with them, but escaping courtesy of a colleague Illyria who [they surmised] must have departed around the same time as Will, and taken him under her wing. He spoke of becoming increasingly ill over the following year; and an odd statement about ‘losing himself’ and being near final death, before Xander took him at Illyria’s request, and nursed him back to health… the blonde’s anguish directly related to his guilt that now Xander was paying for his initial mistakes…
Jason squeezed Spike’s hand and reassured him that they would sort everything out, then offered to make tea, dragging Mark with him, as Spike curled in on his duster, his anguish almost beyond bearing.
Jason flicked the tap on and began to fill the jug as he whispered urgently, “So what do you think?? Come on dear heart… you’re the psychiatrist! What the hell was that all about? What is this all about?? F@#$!! Is he serious?” Jason flicked the jug on, then rounded on his partner hands on hips and a worried expression.
Mark’s returning gaze was unreadable, “I think he’s serious – at least from his point of view – and it all seems to line up – even Xander’s disappearance. I mean… he doesn’t strike me as the sort who would just ‘take off’, and the connection with this law firm and his disappearance is just too timely to be a coincidence. But I still don’t know what we can do?! We can’t just march into one of the biggest law firms on the globe and accuse them of kidnapping or something!”
“So what do we…?”
“We look after Will, number one. And maybe we can find someone who is happy to talk to that firm – you know, just ask around… I guess that’s all we can do for now… I agree with Will, the police will be pretty reluctant to march into those offices.”
“Geez, what a mess! So now what?”
“S$#@ Jas… I have no idea! For now we just need to be there for him. Missing persons stuff is horrid at the best of times, but this… this seems that much more sinister. There are thousands of people going missing every year – even if we do get the police involved, the chances are they’ll do a week or two of investigating and then file it along with the others. I guess we could get a PI onto it but, to what end I have no idea.
“And if what Will says is true – though it does seem a little far fetched, I still think that successfully charging a top law firm with abduction – no matter how good the evidence – is going to be a pretty tough call.”
Spike’s vampire hearing could clearly discern the entire conversation, but he remained still until the two returned and placed a cup of steaming hot tea on the table in front of him.
Jason and Mark began to draw their own conclusions. They knew from previous discussions that Will and Xander were long time friends. Jason had seen Will so sick that he could not even hold a cup or walk. They had the bizarre disappearance of Xander confirmed already by the employer, and the ‘last seen’ by Hamish defined as being Wolfram and Hart’s private car.
Jason and Mark sat either side of their distraught friend. The sometime concierge and aspiring actor took one of Spike’s hands in a reassuring grip, but it was Mark who spoke, “I’m not sure what we can do… but we’re here for you, OK?”
Xander drifted in and out of consciousness. Still unable to move, his tight cocoon and inert form gave him no option but to think when he was awake. He had gradually resigned himself to his own death. It was confirmed by his inert form; his overwhelming thirst and cracked, now bleeding, lips; the gradual but definite slowing thump of his heart; his hallucinations, lightheadedness and blackouts. It seemed inevitable. He simply waited for the strong jaws and cruel mouth to break through his covering and drain his carcass, or the sting of an appendage depositing eggs inside his form to consume him from within.
Now, in the few lucid periods, he alternated between sending prayers of love and devotion in the direction of his beautiful vampire, and despairing that Spike would somehow be caught in Wolfram and Hart’s net also.
Some time on the fourth day he could vaguely make out her form feeding from the body next to him, then felt her form move over him at lightening speed as he felt shudders through the strands of the web, indicating a struggle, then heard the panicked cries of another human. The muffled sounds soon ceased and Xander knew. She had more food for her larder.
Spike rallied a little, at least enough to allow Jason and Mark to depart with various reassurances, then had a thought.
What followed was Spike doing something he thought he would never do, he all but trashed the apartment looking for the collar he knew he had worn when with Illyria. He knew Xander had kept it, and even in his confused state, he had been aware that it had not gone to the trash, he could feel it!
Emptying every drawer and cupboard in a frenzy, he finally found the item in the back of the laundry cupboard hanging on a hook.
He took it down and with shaking hands buckled it around his neck once more, taking special care to stroke his claim mark. He then grabbed his duster and fell to his knees praying with all his might to the Powers, to Illyria, to any deity who would listen.
The Powers heard the cry for help from one of their former champions, and Illyria recognized the agony of her favored pet. Both responded.
Xander felt the return of his captor and his cocoon being lifted to her – it could mean only one thing. He sent a desperate prayer to his beautiful vampire and bade him goodbye, thankful for the time they had, and mentally apologizing for all the things he had done wrong… or not done. But he was quietly thankful that now he would not have to endure the wait any more.
Had he been more ‘alive’, he might have embarrassed himself as he was embraced by the prickly arms, but was so dehydrated that only a tiny drip of urine marked his final terror as he waited for the fangs to descend. Instead of fangs however, his worst nightmare manifested. She lifted him higher, pushing him against her abdomen and angled her body in an odd way. It was followed by an agonizing sting to his abdomen.
He knew what was happening. He was to be baby spider food. Two tears and a soundless cry of pain were the only indication of his terror before he passed out and her eggs were pumped into his inert and already over stressed form.
Spike was still on his knees as he received the terrifying and inexplicable sensation that Xander was bidding him a final goodbye… but then it was followed by more agony. He folded down, keened and rocked with grief. He knew without a doubt, he had been too slow, too late, too weak! Xander was dying.
And that was the scene the two very different beings found, as they stepped from their prospective realms…. one from a planar rift created by the call, and the old one from a dimensional portal answering the call triggered by her pet’s collar and the favored one’s extreme distress .
Spike scrambled behind the couch as the blinding light emerged but then answered the call of his Goddess Illyria, again in the form of Fred. He crawled across the floor as he had been trained to do and prostrated himself at her feet. She rewarded him by gently turning him onto his back and with a hand that swiftly morphed into one of her more natural fronds, she pushed into his mouth, and he began to suckle. She straddled him as he took comfort, and gently ground her pelvis against his ever burgeoning erection while he fed.
The familiar actions were now, as they had been then, a relief from the grief, and he calmed a little. But her body kept moving and she stroked his collar with her still human hand as he suckled, so despite his distress, he came hard. She rejoiced as her dear pet released, and continued to feed on a fluid that embodied her joy at seeing him physically recovered and her protectiveness. He would not want for assistance.
She had noted his healthy state and felt his angst as she entered his dimension – and was also aware of who had caused it. She was even more determined to assist the mortal who had nursed her cherished possession back to fitness. She had not been wrong with entrusting her pet to that one. She caressed the collar again.
Spike slowly rolled over onto his belly, and attempted to push up, but instead found himself lifted in an iron embrace and held like a small child in the diminutive lap of the Fred/Illyria persona.
The glowing white figure finally spoke. “Old One, we understand that you have taken this… vampire as a pet.”
Illyria cocked her head to the side, enormous blue eyes staring at the being, “He amused me, and was fierce in battle. He was pleasing to my eyes and responded well. He is a half breed, but is responsive to training as you see. I would keep him but my dimension is not for him. He was a fine pet and I wish to help him as I do intend (from time to time) to visit his realm. But for now his carer is in peril. The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart are at the nub of the problem, that is obvious. Are you here too assist?”
The white figure paused for a moment then nodded, “I am aware of William the Bloody’s history, and that of his friend Alexander Lavelle Harris. The former William, Spike is the only vampire to first fight for the greater good because of connections with humans; to seek out the soul and fight for it; to survive the transition then give up his own existence for the greater good; return and do it again! Why, on any plane, would you not think us interested in these beings!?” The glowing figure moved to where Spike could also see her, then delivered its final message.
“I can deliver him, but you must be strong. He will need to be turned, as he has been violated by his captor and carries her eggs. Ridding him of those will result in his death, thus your soul should be placated, his life is forfeit regardless of your actions. Should you choose to turn him, we will grant you his soul… as an acknowledgement of your services to us.” The glowing figure then turned to Illyria.
“Old one, we ask that you rain vengeance upon the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart – at least those that are deserving of it. We give you our protection in this process, and, if needed, we shall arrange the release of another of your choice from The Deeper Well. There is a particular threat that must be dealt with, one Lilah Morgan – she and her section of the LA branch must be eliminated for the sake of balance.
“We are aware that she has violated many, even within her own organization, so your input might be… merely one of ‘admiral’.
“We will deal with the Senior Partners of the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. We are the counterbalance. And we acknowledge your assistance Old One. This is a joining of primal forces and we appreciate your willingness to cooperate. We recognize and endorse your reign in return.”
Illyria had been caressing her pet throughout the speech, but finally pulled her frond from the now semiconscious, Spike’s mouth, stripped him of his lower clothing and began to caress his nether regions with intent.
She was still essentially in her “Blue Fred” form, so addressed the representative of the Higher Power. “I acknowledge your power, and grieve for your lost champions, and for my pet.
“It is an imperative that we restore them to their partnership, as I wish to enjoy him again in the future. The human’s status is of little relevance, but I acknowledge his efforts. I also know that my pet enjoys his carer’s original nature. He may have only been a lower being so should thank the vampire for raising him to a half breed, his soul will make his nature more… affectionate… as is consistent with the human species.” Illyria stroked over her beloved’s nether regions and smiled knowingly as his member responded. Spike was riding high on her fluids and arched into her touch.
Illyria continued to speak and stroke as she snapped a classic cockring onto her pet in full view of the higher being. “I gather you will deliver him? It seems his state is most precarious. And I wish to deal with the violators of my property’s keeper.”
The glowing being simply nodded and asked, “Whom would you wish released?”
Illyria cocked her head sideways, stilled in her ministrations of her pet, then dropped her tone to a frighteningly cold base, beyond any the former Fred might have managed, “Jaquin”.
The blue figure continued to pleasure the pale figure in her arms, probing Spike with her frond repeatedly then flicking off the ring and bringing him to completion almost as an after thought, while the Higher Being spoke.
“It will be done as you request, restore your charge and we will return his protector from Arach’s lair. Jaquin will have three days to complete his task, then we will release him to his own dimension. We will not forget your willingness to assist Mighty Illyria.”
Illyria looked directly at the being and felt… moved… “And for that I am… grateful.”
She gently released her now sated Pet, placing him gently on the lounge. Spike was aware of his vulnerable state but could not care. The mistress had entered him and brought him to completion just as the glowing being smiled, nodded and promptly disappeared.
Spike lay quietly, his nether regions, stomach and thighs still being stroked lovingly by her frond, as she spoke of his new role. “You are to sire a new half breed my pet. Your protector will not survive otherwise. Do you understand? Your human protector is dying, you must turn him. Then we will smite those who dared to violate the savior of my property. Jaquin is a fine choice for such a task.”
Spike was still only semiconscious but nodded mutely.
“I will return to you from time to time, my dear pet, but time moves differently in our dimensions so you must be brave. You and your childe may not see me for many decades. It will require you to be strong. I wish you to do this for me. Be well and strong until I return.”
Spike simply nodded again, then spoke, but was still disorientated from the frond and his recent pleasuring, “Missed you so much Mistress… When?... And Xan?... I um… how??”
Illyria’s frond moved into the human hand form again and stroked the side of Spike’s face adoringly. “Oh my dear Pet. All will be answered shortly – but now I must take my leave.” She kissed him firmly on the lips before standing and slipping into the portal that opened mere inches from the lounge suite.
She turned just in time to see the enormous prey mantis like figure of Jaquin manifest on the other side of the room, holding a human figure in his grasp and lowering his jaws to bite down into an oddly bulging abdomen. Her last words to a horrified Spike were, “Fear not Pet. All will be well.”
Xander had felt himself plucked from his place on the web then, through the haze of web covering his eyes, caught a glimpse of his ‘rescuer’. Had he been capable he might have screamed, but as it was he simply accepted. His death might prove swift after all.
It was only as an odd spinning feeling marking a shift of place – or portal travel - and then his bindings were removed by careful incisors, that Xander wondered if he might be in the hands of a savior. He could feel the burgeoning bulge inside his abdomen, and registered pain as the small creatures began to break free to feed, but he was too dry to cry or speak, hoping his rescuer knew the problem. Instead he was aware enough to register the enormous being holding him tight as it plunged its huge jaws into his side and began cleaning out the ‘brood’. Xander passed out instantly with the pain.
Spike was barely consciousness and in shock, as he felt Xander’s inert, bleeding form being laid carefully in his lap by hooked blue green legs.
He looked up and assumed the rescuer to be the Jaquin Illyria had spoken of. He smiled weakly and thanked the original demon. The enormous insect like creature simply nodded, then took his leave.
Spike could hear it, Xander was within seconds of death as the gaping wound in the human savior’s side bled out.
Spike scrambled to place his friend down on the floor, squashing the form of a half formed fist sized spider as he did so (apparently a survivor that had not been consumed by Jaquin as he rid the body of infestation).
Spike’s demon came to the fore as Xander’s blood assaulted his senses.
He could hear the heart faltering. He swiftly opened his wrist and pushed it to the chapped lips as he began to lap up the precious blood flowing from his friend’s side. When no sucking was evident he began to massage the neck so the fluid might still flow and felt the response. Xander was still deeply unconscious and on the way to death but his body responded enough.
The breathing ceased and a minute or so later, the fluttering heartbeat finally failed. Within seconds, and true to their word, a flash occurred and Spike’s newly made, yet to rise childe had a soul.
Some time later that evening, the shell of an unfortunate security guard now containing a different essence, moved from his van in the underground carpark to the lobby of Wolfram and Hart. He took over the shift, then began to plan the assault.
Jaqiun was ‘in’.
Spike was in a daze. His Mistress had been here and had fed and pleasured him, and then his carer had landed in his lap, and now… and now… He went by his instinct, pulling his new childe into his lap. He embraced the violated form of his savior before lying him flat once more and letting tears mix with his saliva as he continued to lick his partner’s wound closed long after the action was needed. Then in gameface he rhythmically and obsessively, went on to lick every inch of the now former human. His demon finally assuaged, he arranged the violated body carefully, rigor mortis thankfully absent courtesy of the human’s changing status.
The lack of stiffness was merely helpful in his final act, it made little difference to Spike. He had been too weak. His Xander was dead, and it must be because of him. Now he would have to be strong, because Sire was always the protector and now their roles had been permanently reversed.
A day later, to the rest of the world, Xander appeared to be sleeping comfortably on his back, head cushioned by ample numbers of pillows and body covered by a soft acrylic blanket. Closer scrutiny however, revealed the deathbed pallor of the skin and blue tinge to the color of the lips.
They had never spoken of turning Xander, indeed the idea of Spike becoming a Sire in the last months seemed ludicrous, so weakened by the experience with Illyria that he still relied entirely on Xander. Now everything had changed. In reuniting with his Mistress Illyria he should, theoretically, have regressed, but instead he had felt first sated, then reassured. He concluded that perhaps, somehow during the carnal act with Illyria, or in the restoring of Xander’s soul, the Powers and/or Illyria had changed him, because Spike had awoken from a light snooze beside his new childe feeling ‘whole’. For the first time in years he felt… strong, centered and at peace with himself.
The former ‘Big Bad’ pulled away from his charge and moved to do something he had not been game to do since before his departure with Illyria. He threw open the curtains, and opened the door to their tiny balcony, and stood alone without fear in full game face then roared into the night.
The roar was his grief and anger embodied. Xander’s body was in the next room and he had lost his friend, his savior, his human sire. Yet in his haze of blood tinged tears, he pondered the most terrifying part this whole process - his failure to save Xander leading to having to turn a friend when neither had even discussed the option seriously, and hurting as he contemplated his forced new role as Sire.
He knew with every essence of his being, that he was grateful for being granted his unlife back, even if he had been too late to find his wonderful human alive, at least now he could care for the new childe Xander had become. For the first time since before Sunnydale even happened in his life, he knew his purpose and felt whole.
He returned from the night to join his childe once more. He embraced his dead friend, entangling legs and arms and pulling him close, and continued the vigil while his childe’s body restored itself and the new status took hold.
Jason had left five messages and Mark three on the answering machine by the following day. Spike could not bear to pick up… How was he to explain the situation? He had told them enough to be able to ask for their help, but now… now was something quite different.
He returned their call when he knew they would both be at work. Clutching the phone so tightly there was risk of him crushing it, he dialed their apartment.
It was Jason’s voice on the message, “Hi, You’ve called Jason and Mark. We can’t take your call at the moment so if you would like to leave your name and number and the time that you rang after the tone, we will get back to you as soon as we can.”
“Hey Jas? Mark? I’m so sorry not to have called you back… but um… something has happened… and I’ve found Xan! He’s been really… [Spike’s voice hitched a little] well um… I can’t tell you how much you fellows have done for us but please give me one more day before a visit OK. I’m fine… it’s just… Oh Bloody Hell… You’ll understand when you see him again OK!
He hung up then let out a frustrated growl as he fell into game face again. He dropped the handset and took solace in lying beside his now dead lover, continuing his vigil. Xander would perhaps awaken the following evening … surely?!
Jaquin waited until morning to wander into the bowels of the building, his temporary form moving rather awkwardly, though few of his colleagues noticed and those who did, were uninterested. He wandered to the data processing area, as people arrived for work, nodded at a few of the people sitting in various cubicles and listened. He needed to find this ‘Lilah Morgan’ and the others on her team that might be part of the attack on the vampire’s human companion.
One pretty woman struggled in using a walking frame, accompanied by a handsome male with legs that appeared to articulate an odd way. He stood at the water cooler and watched as the quiet man assisted the woman by swiftly removing her shoes and relieved a feathered tail of the skirt that had been concealing it.
Jaquin smelled both of them – still human, and wondered at the cruelty that must have driven such violations of their form.
The couple kissed and the woman held her partner for a minute longer, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Are you hurting already, baby?”
“It’s not so bad today… More about just this morning… you know seeing Wendy struggling – I didn’t know… I mean I knew about Ms Morgan taking Wendy as her PA of course but Rod…what could she possibly have done to deserve that?”
“Seem to recall yours was just about shoes, Stace. Don’t think she’d need much of an excuse, do you?”
“I guess not… Could be worse I suppose – There have been so many ‘disappearances’ lately, I guess at least we’re still here.”
“That we are lover, that we are. Now come on let’s worry about the problems with the lady on the twenty-fifth floor at the end of the day.”
Jaquin watched as the young man gently lifted his friend onto a custom built perch, easing her forward until she rested her torso comfortably against a padded stand. He then arranged all her desk items so they were within easy reaching distance.
She sighed as she settled and kissed him lightly as he brushed past her, “Thanks honey.”
“You’re welcome… See you at lunch.” With that, the man moved off, his gait confident but still rather awkward.
Jaquin had heard what he needed and took the elevator to the twenty fourth floor nodding politely to a young articles clerk as he exited the lift and wandered down the corridor to the fire escape. He climbed the last story and emerged on the floor of his target. But he was here for some reconnoitering not for killing. There was plenty of time for feeding later.
The plush carpet and rich dark colors on the walls easily identified this floor as one of the executive ‘elite’. He swiftly found a young woman identified on her desk name marker as ‘Wendy Malkowitz’. She smiled and nodded as he wandered down the corridor in what appeared to be a ‘routine pass’. The old demon noted the pretty female’s rather odd backless stool at her work station, then noted that she had her shoes off. There furry paws instead of feet pushing out from the base of her suit pants.
She smiled sweetly and greeted him. He nodded back and tipped his cap in a polite gesture of acknowledgement.
There were four cameras in the corridor and no doubt more in Lilah’s office. Cameras were easy to disarm, what worried Jaquin was that he would make his escape swiftly and without detection.
He knew that like Illyria, he could manipulate time, but her instructions were to make the pariah, one Lilah Morgan, suffer before she died… apparently again and this time for good with the help of the Higher Powers.
Jaquin was worried that his voice was not adequately human but fortunately she was on the phone at the time, so he scribbled a kindly note to the young PA and pushed it across the counter..
“All seems in order. You’re a trooper, keep up the good work. J”
She put her hand over the mouthpiece, rolled her eyes apologetically and whispered ‘boss lady on a bender again… sorry’. After reading the note she, grinned and mouthed ‘thanks for this’ at him then went back to her conversation.
Jaquin continued his observations on the floor for an hour or so, mapping every aspect, he was satisfied and would act the next day.
Xander woke in his own bed. He was embraced by the arms of his vampiric friend, but it felt like more than that. He felt love and family and content, and all in a way that did not quite make sense.
His last memory was of the spider and of pain, yet now there was none. Overwhelmed by the assault of thoughts, feelings, memories, and newly heightened senses, he … began to cry. Spike felt the distress immediately and pulled his Childe close, pressed the changing visage to his neck and encouraged his offspring to feed.
Xander’s bite was deep and as he sucked the red ambrosia he felt it at a most primal level Sire, Love, Sire, Devotion, Care, Protection, Sire!!
As he pulled for a final time on his maker’s neck, the ex human came without being touched, then instinctively bared his own neck.
Spike drank of his Childe as was custom, but only enough to mark his beloved again. He reserved the replenishing of his own blood for later – via an appointment with a microwave and a number of bags of O pos.
Xander was still only half aware, groaned as he was marked again then simply rolled into the wonderful scent, snuggling down feeling sated and safe. Sire was here. In the rather addled state of his current consciousness, he groaned “Sire”, then took an unnecessary breath and returned to slumber. This time Spike slept fitfully also.
The new Sire came back to awareness with a jolt as Xander came to full consciousness and called across their natural bloodlink in confusion.
His Sire rolled toward his first Childe and fed him again. Still without speaking, the young one suckled for a time as Spike stroked his sex. Within seconds of spending his seed at the hand of his Sire, Xander fell away from his feeding and gave in to sleep once more.
Spike eased away from his new childe, letting him rest while the master vampire rose to take a large amount of blood. The Powers and her benevolent highness Illyria had both contributed to his ‘stash’ and the fridge was stuffed full and ready. His childe’s current pattern of feeding and sleeping could go on for another day or so, but Spike was hopeful. The more the fledgling was able to eat and rest in the first few days, the stronger he should be in the end.
Spike smiled as he satisfied his own hunger. He still took comfort by drinking from the glove – but now it was accompanied by a joyful feeling of connection and trust, not one of dependence and need. The newly restored Master Vampire grinned, brushed the collar he still wore and sent a heartfelt prayer of thanks to his Mistress Illyria for not abandoning him.
She felt his lovely tribute and sent a cross dimensional message of love for her pet, and a pledge… He and his fledgling ‘half-breed’ Childe would always be under her protection should they need it. He felt her message in his gut – and returned his further gratitude and devotion.
Jaquin eventually had all the information he needed, devised a workable plan and made appropriate arrangements. He ‘clocked off’ and returned to Xander and Spike’s apartment. He knocked quietly then moved to the underground carpark again. He found an alcove with a large number of bags of shredded paper were piled high awaiting disposal. He stretched out on a few of them at the rear intent on rather unhappily snoozing for the rest of the day. He needed to feed properly but would wait until the evening or even the following day. He was a carnivore, he was used to being patient.
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