Tainted Returns


10 And the Battle is on

Manic glee filled Xander as he and Spike watched each other warily. He was on the cold cement floor, out of breath, and loving every second of it. Neither one of them had managed the upper hand in the first go round, nor any of the succeeding ones -- though Xander was pretty sure he was more worn out by the exchanges than Spike. The simple fact that Spike was obviously considering him a serious threat was beyond incredible, but it was more than that, really. In fact, it was fantastic. It was a rush beyond all other rushes. Now, he just had to find out if he could beat Spike. He knew normal humans -- trained of course -- could beat fledges, but even Buffy had trouble with Spike. This was a chance of a lifetime, one that would probably never happen again, and he was going to make the most of it.

Of course, he wasn't going to be 'fair', and release Spike. The advantage of surprise may be what got that manacle on, but by God, he put it there and it was staying. It wasn't really hampering the vampire much, anyway. Spike seemed fully able to work around the limitations it placed on him. Xander had noticed something during their bouts, however; and he was pretty sure he could take advantage of it. Spike had been good, very good, at keeping the chain out of the way -- of both of them. Sometimes it almost seemed as if it were an extension of the vampire's body.

Occasionally, though; just twice in fact, that chain had come within reach of Xander. Both times, if he'd realized it soon enough, he could have used it to his advantage. The trick was going to be getting Spike in the same position a third time -- without seeming to be trying -- and be ready.

Xander rose slowly, keeping an eye on Spike the whole time. He grinned when Spike stood also, the vampire on his feet and ready before Xander was even halfway up. It made Xander feel . . . dangerous. Trying not to telegraph his moves, Xander faked a lunge left, charging right. He wasn't surprised when -- again -- Spike seemed to anticipate his moves, and the two of them tumbled to the floor, both strong-arming to retain -- or regain -- the top position. He didn't like it, but it was something that had happened time and time again already.

Of course, this round he hadn't really expected to surprise Spike, he'd made the exact same move he had the last two times. He'd already discovered that he couldn't fake the vampire out, so he was going to try something different. Fortunately, it seemed Spike was having the same difficulty, and therein lay the difference from encounters they'd had before the last two days. They were on a level playing field -- well, more level.

Spike's elbow rammed into his gut, and gasping for blocked breath, Xander rolled away. He grinned, though; his parting shot -- a knee ground into Spike's thigh -- hadn't left the vampire feeling much more chipper than he was. Of course, the shot from the chip couldn't have helped the vampire's condition either.

"Bloody hell, Harris, what's this going to prove? You're not going to get the better of me. I've got a century of fighting experience. You don't."

Xander chuckled through the easing pain in his gut. "I don't exactly see you 'getting the better of me' with all that experience," he retorted. And does that feel good? Can we say yes!

Spike frowned, glaring at him.

Xander almost giggled at the indignation clear in the vampire's expression. The blond obviously wanted to retort, but couldn't find a comeback good enough. Ah, well. Time to end this. He'd had his fun, and found he still couldn't take Spike in a strength for strength match -- of course, Spike's experience was a huge factor there, so he wasn't exactly mortified by the discovery. As he rolled to his feet once again, Xander wondered, just how badly he'd be getting trounced if Spike was actually up to full strength -- which he was fairly certain the vampire wasn't.

Xander started this round with the exact same move he had the last three. He almost grinned at Spike's disgusted expression. This time, though; he planned a twist. He faked left and dodged right, only to spin back left again -- risking his back to Spike as he circled behind the vampire -- Xander was euphoric when it actually worked. For once, the underestimating of the Xandman was coming in handy. He was sure, though, that the only reason it had worked was because Spike thought he was 'predictable', wouldn't try something different.

He backed up rapidly as Spike almost immediately reversed himself, and was once again facing Xander. Come on, Xander thought. Just a little closer. NO! Don't look at the chain! Gaze firmly locked on the now enraged vampire in front of him, Xander prayed no telltale flicker of his eyes or body gave away his true objective. Spike just had to step close enough. Xander needed a little more slack in the chain to carry this off.

He laughed at himself -- assuming Spike didn't catch on too quickly. That was really the key. If he didn't do it quickly enough, he was toast, and would be trapped by his own trap.

"Give it up, Harris," Spike said as he stalked forward. "You'll only exhaust yourself . . . and leave me laughing."

Gritting his teeth, Xander dove; not for Spike, but for the length of chain curled on the floor. Mentally crowing as he actually came back up to his feet after the dive-roll -- chain both in hand and wrapped around one ankle -- Xander didn't give himself -- and hopefully Spike -- any time to think. He leapt forward, using the chain much as he would a lasso. Flipping the upper length around one of Spike's wrists, he yanked, and at the same moment, kicked back with his trapped foot.

He almost giggled as Spike went down -- hard -- his head hitting the cement floor. He winced at that, though; that had to hurt, but didn't let his sympathy slow him down. He did hope that Spike would be slowed for bit from the blow. It would certainly help. Freeing his foot, Xander quickly strode forward, but only managed one additional wind of the chain around Spike's wrist before the vampire was actively fighting him off.

Damn! Just a second longer!

"I don't think so, Wanker!" Spike exclaimed.

The blow from Spike's free hand caught Xander completely by surprise, and sent him flying off the semi-prone blond. He didn't know how, because he was literally seeing stars, but he'd managed to retain his hold on the portion of chain caught around Spike's wrist. Of course, if Spike's yelp was any indicator, the blow had hurt the vampire far more than it had Xander, and right now, Xander was so not above taking advantage of that.

Ignoring the pain pulsing on top of his cheekbone -- he'd have a bruise come morning for sure -- Xander scrambled toward Spike, finally -- YES! -- managing to get the chain around both of the vampire's wrists. Now he just had to keep his position. Easier said than done, he knew. Spike wasn't going to just lay still simply because of this.

"Think you've got the better of me, do you?" Spike asked, his expression an odd mixture between smirking superiority and confusion. It was almost as if the vampire couldn't figure out how he'd managed to get in the fix he was in.

Of course, Xander thought, almost laughing, that's probably pretty close to the truth.

"Nope," Xander replied honestly, shaking his head. "If getting you tied up was enough to best you, you wouldn't be as dangerous as you are."

Spike reared back in outright surprise.

Now, how'd he do THAT laying on the floor?

"Well, yeah, of course. Glad you realize that."

Xander waited. He may have surprised Spike with his admission, but he wasn't deluded into thinking Spike was done yet -- and he was right.

Spike bucked violently just as Xander made his muscles relax. Having expected it, Xander was ready for him. He immediately clutched the chain tighter, and spread his legs to lower his center of balance. He was determined to make this the final showdown. If he didn't manage it this time, he would have to find another way. Spike had been half-right early. This was exhausting, and he didn't have the energy to keep it up much longer. Spike, weakened and chained, was still a formidable opponent.

Xander winced as his knee impacted with the hard cement. He now had an acute sympathy with Spike's head. Simply holding on, and twisting to make sure he didn't end up with his back to the floor -- again -- Xander wondered if telling Spike he was a better ride than the deer would help, or just be suicidal. In the end he decided silence, in this case, was the better part of valor.

"Bloody hell, Harris! You're bloody hard to get off!"

Spike frowned and Xander smirked, chuckling as the vampire's expression turned sour, and he rolled his eyes.

"Perhaps that wasn't the best phrasing I could have chosen," Spike admitted.

"You do that a lot, don't you?" Xander asked, still smiling. I'm still on top! Yay me!

"So," Spike said, lifting his bound hands, ignoring Xander's comment completely, "what are you going to do now? I'm here, you're there. The minute you get up, I'm free."

"You ready to do as you're told?" As if! Xander thought to himself.

"Have you gone daft?" Spike asked incredulously, looking as if he thought Xander had done just that.

"Thought you might say something like that." Xander's eyes narrowed as he considered his options -- limited though they were. Spike was right. If he didn't handle this carefully, Spike was free as soon as Xander stood up. Maybe even if he did handle it carefully. Spike was Spike, after all.

"Find yourself at something of an impasse, hey, Harris?" Spike asked, his smirk firmly twisting the corners of his mouth upward, and lilting his words.

"Yes, actually," Xander admitted. What the hell, it couldn't hurt. "Got any ideas on getting out of it, since you don't seem inclined to be an obedient vampire?"

"Harris, getting me . . . 'obedient' as you so quaintly put it, is a lost cause. I've never been obedient. Even back when there was someone with the right to try and tell me what to do." Spike's smirk turned to a glare as he continued, his tone darkening. "Which you don't."


Spike shook his head, rolling his eyes. "You don't have the knackers to even begin, Harris, just let me go, and we'll call it even. You did help me out of a fix after all."

"Don't have the 'knackers'?" Xander questioned evenly, the tone difficult to maintain with his jaw clenched so tightly his teeth hurt.

"Oh, don't go getting your knickers in a twist," Spike answered, placating. "Even Angelus couldn't do it."

Narrowing his eyes, Xander cocked his head, staring at the vampire temporarily trapped beneath him. "You know something I learned from both you and Buffy?"

"No," Spike replied warily, his entire body stiffening. "What's that?"

Xander grinned, leaning forward slightly. "To use any, and every, weapon at my disposal."

Spike blinked. "Well, like you all say, 'Duh'."

"Glad you agree," Xander said, grabbing the extra dart tube he'd stuffed into his back pocket.

"What's that?"

"Oh, nothing much," Xander replied, upending the tube and letting the dart fall out. He just hoped it really would work without the gun. Giles had said they would, he'd made sure of that when they'd first had to keep Oz under control during the full moon.

Spike's eyes widened as the dart was revealed. "You bloody wanker!" he shouted, renewing his struggle for freedom. "You are not using that . . . on . . . m-e."

Xander grinned. "I'm not, huh?" he asked the comatose vampire, pulling the dart out of Spike's neck. "Sure looks like I already did." He snickered, standing and carefully untangling the chains as he scanned the underground room. It didn't take him long to realize the best place was still the bed -- despite the fact that Spike had half-destroyed the headboard in his escape attempt.

He frowned, swiftly crossing the room and closely inspecting the damage.

"Well, that's just not good enough," Xander said softly. He supposed they'd just have to go somewhere else; the problem was, where? He frowned, the idea growing on him. Taking Spike out of his 'territory' would work to Xander's advantage quite nicely.

He very briefly considered his apartment, wondering whether Spike's pride would keep the vampire quiet enough not to alert Xander's nosy neighbors. They were used to him and his friends coming and going at odd hours, looking and smelling like they'd decided to swim in the sewers -- and, of course, Anya had never exactly been a church mouse when it came to sex. They were used to sudden screaming too. He shook his head. No, it was too risky. If even one neighbor decided to check 'things' out, it would be all over. They might be used to it, but that didn't mean they wouldn't investigate.

Damn! There had to be some place, maybe a place he hadn't been to in years. He grinned. That would do just nicely.

11 The Claiming

Spike groaned as the blackness that had claimed him slowly slipped away, the outside world filtering into his awareness one tiny bit at a time. His first, nearly immediate, realization was that he wasn't in his crypt any longer; the smells and sounds were all wrong.

That wanker drugged me!was Spike's first rational thought, which was swiftly followed by a reluctant acknowledgment that it had been a smart backup for Harris to have. He felt weak and tired, his muscles not wanting to move. The heavy manacles around his wrists and ankles felt like lead weights pinning him down, wearing him out. It was . . . upsetting being repeatedly bested by Harris -- additional strength or not. And yes, he fully realized that errors in judgement on his part had played a huge factor, but somehow that didn't really help.

Despite his best intentions, Spike trembled as full awareness descended and he realized exactly where he was. He was restrained and naked at the mansion -- Angelus' mansion. Memories of the place rolled over him, memories he never wanted to relive, and he briefly contemplated simply going back to sleep and closing out the world. Surely the blood wouldn't affect Xander much longer, and it might be possible to feign drugged unconsciousness long enough to out wait the human.

Surely, if the blood wore off and he was still 'out', Xander would release him and leave, not wanting to face what had happened. He sighed. No way would he be that lucky. Xander would probably--

The sound of slow clapping brought his thoughts to an abrupt and startled halt. He growled at allowing himself to become so preoccupied that he forgot to listen for Xander. That was a trap fledges fell into -- not master vampire's who'd survived for over a hundred years.

"You know," Xander began conversationally, "I could really get to like the enhanced senses. I could tell the instant you woke up."

Not fair! Spike thought petulantly, realizing even as he did so that he was being a touch ridiculous. I'm supposed to be the one with enhanced senses, not the whelp!

"So, what now, Harris?" Spike asked, hating the fact that, face down as he was, he couldn't see what the whelp was doing behind him. It was driving him crazy.

"We move on to the reason I came to your crypt in the first place."

A shiver of uncertainty traveled down the length of Spike's spine at the . . . satisfaction in Xander's voice. That couldn't be a good thing, could it? Spike knew damn well what had brought Harris, the white knight, to his crypt. The boy had already made that quite clear. What Spike didn't know was what the boy was planning on actually doing about it -- especially now, what with the demon blood and all.

"What did you come for, Harris?" he asked, putting every ounce of bravado he could lay claim to into the words. "Came to beat the shit out of the vampire?"

"Something like that," Xander answered.

Stiffening, Spike refused to think about just how badly this was going to hurt. He held no doubts that Xander, even in his right mind, could inflict enough pain to make even a vampire feel it. But now?

"Well, get on with it, then," Spike muttered.

"What?" Xander asked with a chuckle. "Not even going to try and talk me out of it?"

Spike laughed back, wishing it didn't sound slightly hysterical. "No," was all he said. Like it would do me any good, he thought sourly.

"Good," Xander replied.

Spike tensed again as he felt more than heard Xander step closer.

"I found some rather . . . interesting toys here while I was waiting for you to come to."

Bloody hell! Spike thought, memories of what the boy could have laid his hands on here rushing through his mind with a frightening clarity. He jumped at the sudden touch of-- He frowned, trying to figure out what the whelp was lightly brushing against his back.

Soft, and unexpectedly gentle, strips of -- he sniffed -- leather. Spike squeezed his eyes shut. Xander had found the cat o' nine. That was very not good. Unfortunately, Spike's body had other ideas; it reacted to the sensual caresses in ways Spike really didn't want. In that instant self-awareness flared, and he suddenly hated Angelus, Dru, and Buffy with an intensity he hadn't been able to summon in a very long time.

All three had the same kink, and all three had trained him well. He may not be obedient -- about as far from it as a vampire could get, actually -- but his body was.

The whisk of air, the whistle of the cat as it was whipped through the air, the slap of flesh on flesh as Xander's hand came down on his arse, tore a startled shout out of Spike. He'd prepared for the cat, that searing pain the lashes would release as each leather strip cut into his skin. That, he could have stayed silent against.

The sharp contrast of the flat of Xander's warm palm as it was brought down, with what Spike suspected was only about half of the human's new-found strength, confused his senses, twisting his reactions into both recognizable and unrecognizable patterns.

He steeled himself for the next blow, determined that this time, his mouth would stay shut -- but the blow never came. Instead, he heard a whispered question.

"You know why I'm doing this, right?"

Spike blinked. "Rather obvious, that," he replied sullenly. Just get it over with! he thought angrily; though, he wasn't sure who he was more angry with -- Xander, or himself and his body's betrayal. If Xander had just started waling on him from the beginning, this wouldn't be happening. But no, the boy had to go and 'seduce' him first, had to engage every sense Spike had. Spike's mind still reeled from all of it, disbelieving that he'd got himself into this situation.

"Not really," Xander replied, moving until he stood above Spike's head.

Spike tried to glare up at his captor, but the height difference made it both difficult and awkward. After a moment, Spike gave up trying and sighed as he allowed his head to drop back down to the floor. "Getting even," he muttered softly, not wanting to answer, but knowing damn well the whelp expected a reply, "getting vengeance in Buffy's stead."

"Wrong, Fangless," Xander retorted, and Spike jerked his head up just as Xander squatted in front of him.

"How's that?" Spike asked. "What would you call this then?"

"Oh yeah, when I first came, I was gonna beat you black and blue, get even, teach you a lesson."

Spike snorted. Just as I thought.

"But, see, things changed. That's not what it's about anymore."

"No?" Spike asked. Sure seems like it to me.


Spike waited impatiently, certain there was more Harris wanted to say. When the boy said nothing, just stayed there, squatted above his head, Spike sighed. He wondered how long Harris would wait for some kind of reply, some sign that Spike was curious. He wondered if he could just stay silent and ward off the seemingly inevitable.

"So what is it, then?" he asked, cursing himself six kinds of idiot for opening his bloody gob -- especially when Xander chuckled and rose.

"Let me ask you something first," Xander replied, moving out of his line of sight.

Spike almost growled, lifting his arm to peer behind him. He really didn't like not being able to see Xander. Unfortunately, Xander continued to his other side, and Spike refused to look like a scared ponce by twisting around to look from under his other arm. But his skin crawled as he forced himself not to try and follow the boy's movements. Something had changed between the fight and now. He'd been having fun earlier. Okay, it had been worried fun, but fun just the same. He wasn't now.

"Did you know this would happen to me?"

What? "How could I know you'd get covered in Margaso blood, and then refuse to wash it off?" he exclaimed indignantly.

"Not that!" Xander replied drily. "I mean, when you told Normal Xander about the effects of the blood, why didn't you tell him about all of it?"

"Didn't know he'd -- you'd -- been possessed. Thought I was safe on that score."

"Right! Try again. You knew about the soldier on Halloween."

"That wasn't a possession." Spike frowned. "Was it?"

"None of us thought so, but the soldier memories were pulled out the same as the hyena instincts."

"They were?" Well that explains the whelp's sudden moves.

"Yep. Then when I caught that deer, all three kind of, I don't know, merged, I guess you could say."

Spike didn't even try to stop the whimper. "Merged?" he asked.

"Yeah. You know, I don't think Normal Xander is gonna come back."

Swallowing convulsively around the sudden constriction in his throat, Spike shook his head violently. "I've never heard of permanent effects from Margaso blood." Spike's thoughts flew in useless circles, trying to dredge up every last rumor and myth he'd heard about it all, the very thought that this Xander might be around for good sending shivers of both excitement and fear skittering up and down his spine. On the heels of that, however; was the fear that if 'Normal' Xander didn't make a reappearance, he was staked once and for all. Buffy would never forgive him for this, for not spilling everything he knew when Xander had first been tainted with it. She would never believe he hadn't planned it -- somehow.

"You figured it out yet?" Xander asked, suddenly breaking into Spike's thoughts.

"I've figured out that I'm done for, either way," Spike admitted mournfully. It seemed he couldn't get a break no matter how things went. "Buff--"

The overly familiar whistle came out of nowhere and Spike had no time to prepare himself for the blow. He tried to arch away from the pain blooming across the back of his legs as he grit his teeth.

"Not about that, Spike. Have you figured out why I'm doing this?"

Spike briefly considered toughing it out. Xander, even this Xander, couldn't inflict any more damage than he'd suffered in the past -- and survived. Unfortunately, his own curiosity was getting in the way of his stubbornness. "No," he freely admitted. "I can't say that I have -- not if it's not about getting even."

"You poached, Spike."

Shock shot through him even as his mouth opened before he could stop it. "I did not!" He tensed, rapidly preparing himself as the whistle once again warned him.

"Fuck!" he shouted, as the cat slapped the floor beside him, and it was once again Xander's hand that struck him. Bastard! he thought viciously. How the hell am I supposed to get through this, if I can't bloody figure out what he's going to do next?! He let out a humorless chuckle as the huge Duh! reverberated through his mind. That was the bloody point, now wasn't it? He was forced to admit, Xander was better at the psychological shit than Spike would have ever given him credit for.

"You attacked, you hurt, what belongs to me."

Spike froze. What? "Xander," he began tentatively, certain he really didn't know why he was saying this, since it was sure to get him hurt, "Buffy doesn't belong to you. She never has, and she never will."

Xander chuckled, and this time Spike was absolutely sure he was beginning to hate that sound.

"She's not my mate, Spike, she's pack." Xander's hand touched him, and Spike flinched away, but nothing else happened. Xander simply let his hand sit at the swell between Spike's leg and arse. "I protect pack. Nothing hurts my pack and gets away with it."

Spike shuddered at the gravel in Xander's voice, but a new idea was beginning to form inside Spike, and it was playing merry havoc with his world view.

"You've always done that," Spike said tentatively.

"Yeah, it just got more . . . intense after the possessions."

His thoughts whirled. Xander had admitted he attacked Buffy while possessed the first time, cuz he wanted her as his mate. Xander had admitted he had learned a lesson in that somewhere. He'd said Spike would figure it out. And then he-- Spike gulped, and asked. He couldn't not ask.

"Am I . . . 'pack'?"

"Do you want to be?" Xander shot back, his voice almost a silken purr.

Spike groaned. He hated the answering a question with a question shit!

The hand moved, caressing up over his arse, smoothing out the lingering sting, and that was almost worse than the blows. Against his will he pushed into the touch.

"Guess that answers that question," Xander said smugly, bringing his hand up swiftly then back down, the sound of his hand hitting Spike's backside echoing through the room.

Spike gasped. That one had been full strength. Spike was sure of it!

"Now, tell me."

He hated this. He hated the fact that he wanted to belong. At this point in his unlife, he almost didn't care where, as long as he belonged. He'd spent almost four years caught between worlds, not fully belonging to either one. But someone help him, he still wanted it. The "Yes, damn it!" was dragged out of him, and he felt more naked after the words fell into the room than merely being without clothes had ever made him feel.

He waited for the taunting laughter to follow his admission. He waited for the cruel words of 'tough shit' to come spewing out of Harris' mouth. He knew they were coming and he steeled himself for the put down. Therefore, the sudden weight of Xander's body covering his came as a complete surprise, the roughness of the boy's clothes brushing against his skin.

"Good," Xander hissed into his ear, his warm hands ghosting down Spike's sides. "Because you're mine."

Heat flashed through Spike's entire body as a number of emotions whirled through him. The automatic denial and the ecstatic sense of belonging were just as vehement as the lust they rode through him on. He could not ever remember being this torn. He wanted to throw Xander off his back and just lash out until either Harris was dead for daring to make such a claim -- or until the chip rendered him unconscious. He wanted to reverse their positions and slam into Xander, reasserting his own control and claiming the boy in return. And just as overwhelmingly, he wanted to surrender.

For long moments confusion reigned inside him, seemingly tearing him apart bit by bit.

"You're mine, Spike. Mine to protect. Mine to . . . punish."

Spike shook his head no, shuddering as Xander's clothed erection slid along the crease in his backside. The word 'yours' hovering on his lips, Spike was rapidly tipping toward surrender even as the feeling of utter vulnerability swamped him and he desperately wanted to clench his legs together. He was so . . . open the way he was.

Suddenly, all of Xander's weight was gone, and the cool air left in his place raised goosebumps along Spike's exposed skin. A growl rent the air, and it was only after the fact that Spike realized it was him. He couldn't take much more of this on again off again. He was achingly hard, and more scared than he could ever remember feeling since his turning. Oh, it wasn't of Harris, or what Harris could do. He was afraid of himself. He felt so bloody out of control, but that wasn't the worst of it. The worst of it was, part of him didn't bloody care.

Lost in his own world of hurt and confusion, Spike didn't register the fact that Xander had released one side of the manacles until he found himself flipped over. He didn't bother trying to get free as Xander pinned him down, using the entire length of his body to do so. It just seemed a waste of energy to try. Even as Xander stared down out him, a small part of Spike was screaming at him that he'd missed his chance to get free. He ignored it, locking gazes with the human above him. He couldn't have got very far anyway, he reasoned, the restraints would have prevented success.

Xander leaned forward, sniffing him, nuzzling into his neck, his armpits, down his chest.

Spike shivered as he realized this was the hyena. This was the beast part of Xander.

In a sudden move that Spike wasn't exactly sure how Xander accomplished, Spike found his legs bent slightly with Xander's knees wedged beneath his thighs.

Shit! Shit! Shit! He was not ready for this. Spike's thoughts flew into panic mode. He should have realized that this was where this was headed, but he hadn't thought that far ahead. He still thought of Xander as Xander, the guy who would give and give, never take. He'd just managed to open his mouth to protest, to remind Xander of what he'd promised, when Xander lunged forward, and even as their cocks brushed together, sending unwanted lust spiraling through Spike, Xander's teeth clamped around his Adam's apple.

Spike froze, a tremor racing through him. A dominance display! It was all a dominance display. Giddy relief flooded him even as he refused to submit. This he could deal with. Xander was in control, but that didn't mean--

Xander's teeth tightened fractionally.

Oh, God! He fought his instinctive reaction, not wanting to arch his head back in pleasure. That was exactly what Xander was waiting for. Xander -- no, the hyena -- wanted him to bare his throat in submission.

No one but Angelus had ever gotten him to do that. He'd been beaten, abused, tossed around, and generally gotten his ass kicked -- sometimes rather spectacularly. He'd made a fool of himself. He'd degraded himself, but he had never bared his throat.

Xander's teeth tightened again, and this time Spike could feel them sink into his skin -- even before the smell of his own blood hit his nostrils. He whimpered, beginning to struggle, ignoring the voice that told him he had waited too long, and that it was far too late. Somehow, somewhere, he hadn't quite believed Xander would take things this far. Beyond that, he couldn't believe the kid knew what he was getting himself into.

Even as he struggled he thought furiously. If getting out of it was as simple as pretending to go along, Spike would have done it in a heartbeat -- a human heartbeat. The chip had ruthlessly taught him the value of compromise. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. Demons, even vampiric ones, were ruled by instinct. Intelligence notwithstanding, instincts were powerful motivators in a species that generally acted on every impulse they had.

Spike bucked -- carefully -- forcing his chin downward into Xander's head.

Xander stiffened and held on, pressing himself firmly to Spike, curled around him like a bloody vice.

Spike winced as he felt his throat tear, blood dripping down the sides of his neck. It didn't take him long to come to the only conclusion he could; struggling was useless. Xander wasn't letting go, and to struggle harder would only get his throat ripped out -- if not set his chip off as well. Closing his eyes, not truly believing it was happening, Spike went absolutely still. Allowing his body to go limp, he lifted his head just a fraction. It was enough, he knew.

Xander growled around the hold on his throat, sinking teeth in just the slightest bit more before easing back.

Spike shivered, unaccustomed feelings running through him as Xander licked his neck clean. It was the most erotic thing he'd had done to him in decades, and considering what Xander had accomplished so far. . . . Spike's thoughts trailed off as Xander leaned back, shifting enough to allow Spike's legs to fall back to the floor and pushing their cocks that much more firmly together.

Xander's eyes met his, and Spike fought to maintain the contact. He couldn't -- even after having spent years fighting to get out from under Angelus' domination. He lowered his eyes, unable to meet Xander's stare. Groaning internally, he realized he had forgotten how powerful a feeling this was. Until that moment, he'd maintained hope he could fight his instincts. He'd done it before, but it was beginning to dawn on him that the ease with which he'd done it had probably been due, largely, to Angelus' absence. He'd just made a mistake, a very big mistake, and he was certain it was one he would come to regret.

12 Returning

Gazing down at the still form below him, Xander licked his upper lip. His anticipation growing, he froze as a sudden thought occurred to him.

What am I doing?

He grinned then. He knew what he was doing. Spike was his; he just had to show Spike that. The very thought sent tendrils of lust, and something he didn't want to define, something pleasant, creeping through him.

"Spike?" he asked, dipping his head and tracing his lips along the vampire's jaw line. The body beneath him stiffened, and Xander grinned, waiting as Spike fought through several responses.


Xander leaned back to meet Spike's flashing blue eyes, and he wondered how much control the semi-civil response had taken. He had no doubt that Spike was going to fight him every step of the way -- and he would have it no other way. He just wouldn't let Spike know that quite yet.

"Mine!" Xander hissed, reaching up to card his fingers through Spike's hair. Xander grinned again as Spike shivered beneath him, the vampire tensing further, his eyes flashing with flecks of gold.

Lips narrowing to a thin line, Spike clenched his jaw tightly, not responding to Xander's possessive declaration.

"Come on, Spike, I know you have something to say," Xander teased. "You always do."

That time, Xander couldn't mistake the flash in Spike's very angry eyes. "Sod off, Harris! You got what you wanted!"

"Not by a long shot," Xander denied calmly, even as his hand tightened in the short strands of Spike's hair. "Say it."

Spike shook his head.

Xander's grip tightened again, and Spike winced. "Say it."

"You won't be like this forever, Xander," Spike replied through clenched teeth. "What then?"

Xander just grinned down at him.

"Damn it, Harris! Think! Would 'Normal Xander' want this?"

"He's not coming back," Xander denied vehemently. He had to believe that. He couldn't go back to that other existence. He couldn't. He didn't want to be like that anymore. Everyone walked all over that him, even his friends.

"Yes, he is!"

Trembling, rage and fear making him alternately hot and cold, Xander wrenched Spike's head back painfully. "Don't say that!"

"You wanted me to talk, Harris, so, I'm talking! When the blood wears off, you're going to hate yourself -- and you're going to hate me. Don't--"

Spike's words choked off, and something inside Xander wilted at the deep pain he could see cut into the lines of Spike's face.

"Shhh," he replied, easing his grip. "You don't understand."

"Damn right, I don't!" Spike spat back, fury displacing the pain instantly and radiating off him in palpable waves.

"Say it, Spike," Xander said again. He could feel the fine tremors shake Spike's body, and Xander inhaled deeply, tasting the scents that assailed him. Rage, fear, lust, all poured off the vampire. It was a heady mix, and he was beginning to understand some of the things that drove vampires to do what they did. That was a scary thought, and it almost made Xander pull back.

Scary? He blinked, wondering why it would be scary. A moment later he realized it didn't matter, he simply had to taste the beautiful creature trapped below him. Without another thought, he did so, dipping down to lick at the wonderfully exposed throat. The muscles beneath his tongue clenched and relaxed as Spike swallowed.

"Say it," Xander murmured, never removing his mouth. He shifted down, grazing his teeth lightly across Spike's prominent collarbone, relishing the shiver it provoked. "Say it," he repeated softly.

"You don't know what--" Spike began, his voice a hoarse whisper.

"Shh, I do know," Xander replied, releasing Spike's free hand as he moved further down to tease a taut nipple. "You're mine, Spike," he said again, never raising his voice, being quietly encouraging. "Say it."

Silence greeted him, and he frowned. Shifting sideways, he lathed Spike's other nipple gently, pinching the first one hard between two fingers.

Spike arched up off the floor, his resultant moan wrenched from his throat.

With great satisfaction, Xander felt the hard cock beneath him twitch; though he hadn't needed that verification to know Spike was aroused. Along with everything else, the scent of the vampire's lust filled the air. Xander just needed to work past the vampire's anger at being bested -- and his fear, which Xander couldn't understand.

For about half a second, Xander wondered if he should really be pushing this hard. With a frown, he immediately shook off the uncomfortable, unwanted thought. He froze; pulling back, panic trilling through him. It was in that awful moment he knew what was happening.

No! he screamed silently. I won't go back to being caged!

Lurching backward, Xander stumbled across the room, desperate to outrace the waning effects of the blood. He'd been so sure the merging had been permanent. Panting, fighting to hold on to what he now had, Xander fled the room, wincing as he heard Spike's outraged shout.

"Oi! Let me loose first!"

He had to fight to hold on; he'd promised Spike. He had no illusion as to what would happen if Normal Xander resumed control. Slamming the mansion door behind him, Xander rushed across the courtyard and collapsed against the fountain. Inside, Spike was shouting at him to 'bloody well let him go already!'.

He winced again, focusing inward; the returning rush of consequences, the future, and guilt, forcefully telling him his time as he was now was coming to an end.

"No!" he hollered, refusing to surrender. He could find the Margaso, surely he could make some kind of deal.

His returning conscience sat like a tiny angel, laughing at the idea.

Right, and I'm sure Buffy would just love that. She'll go along with it. She'll say, 'Sure, Xander, whatever you want'. Besides, you don't have the time.

Free Xander glared, though there was nothing to glare at. He was alone. And he was talking to himself. At this point he didn't care, though. He wasn't going to surrender to the Zeppo in himself without a fight. He wasn't really split. There weren't two of him -- even inside one body. But that didn't change the fact that he didn't want to go back to the way things had been.

Laughing as he remembered the one time he really had been split into two beings, he pictured Zeppo and Suave Xander having this argument, only he -- Free Xander -- stood in place of Suave Xander. It was marginally more sane than arguing with himself, and he went with it.

He was grasping at straws, and he well knew it, but there had to be something that would prevent Normal Xander from burying all this freedom beneath the jokes and the clumsiness again. He just had to figure out what it was.

He sighed, slumping. His imaginary argument not going well. He hadn't realized, not really, just how stubborn he could be. He frowned. He'd have to work on that. At least he hoped he'd have the chance. If not him, then maybe Normal Xander would take it to heart and do it.

He growled low in his chest. He'd been careful. He'd made sure he hadn't done anything really bad. At least nothing that Buffy would slip into Slayer mode over. And still, as the effects of the blood wore off, heavy guilt, horror, and fear descended to tear him apart.

As darkness closed in on him and he gave up the fight, he swore that if he ever got completely free again, he'd find a way to stay free. He'd even go to the Margaso. If that meant having to flee Sunnydale and his friends, so be it. He just hoped Spike wouldn't get hurt in the process. He'd given his word, and he didn't break his word. His last faint thought was another promise. If Xander didn't bury him, he would . . . control himself if he ever got completely free again.


Xander leapt off the fountain as he came to. Shivering, his mind reeling with the events of the last two days, he still didn't believe he'd fai-- passed out. His knees gave out almost as soon as he was fully upright, and he sank back down onto the fountain. He tried, but couldn't stop shaking. It was all so . . . unreal.

All he'd wanted was to teach Spike a lesson.

Oh, yeah, you did that alright, a nasty voice inside him snarked, in spades.

His stomach clenched, and he hurriedly bent over, losing the contents of his stomach. "Oh, God!" he breathed. He and Spike. He'd . . . with Spike.

But then he remembered the thrill of hunting the deer, and later the wolf. That had been great, he had to admit. His stomach rolled a bit as he recalled what came later. The deer's blood. And, oh my, sharing it with Spike. How he'd-- Xander gulped, shooting a guilty glance toward the mansion. He pushed aside a lot of what that made him feel, really not wanting to examine it. It was enough that he'd actually done those things -- and liked them. He really didn't want to know whether he'd like it now.

Unfortunately, he couldn't run and hide, forgetting it all. Spike was trapped inside, and unless he wanted to go to Buffy and explain the whole sordid mess -- NOT! -- he had to go back inside at least long enough to throw Spike the key to the manacles.

His thoughts buzzing with conflict, feeling torn in two completely opposing directions, Xander slowly made his way back inside. He really didn't want to go in, but he owed the blond vampire. He owed him big time. And much as he would have just left the bastard where he was two days ago. He couldn't do that now. He wasn't stupid. He knew something fundamental had changed between them; he just didn't know how it was all going to turn out.

He froze as he stepped into the open living room, embarrassment flooding him as lust shot through him at the sight of a naked Spike, chained and virtually helpless. He swallowed and tried to breathe normally past the tight band constricting his chest. Spike was curled into a tight ball, the very picture of abject misery.

"Spike," he called out hoarsely, his voice hardly more than a whisper. It was loud enough though; Spike launched himself up off the floor, immediately trying to tear himself loose from the remaining manacles. The stark fear that flashed through the vampire's eyes before he hid it, kept Xander frozen in place.

"Now, now, Harris. Don't do anything rash," Spike urged, his voice urgent yet placating. "We can just forget it all happened. No need for sharp pointy objects at all."

Xander couldn't believe the hurt that stabbed through him at the vampire's plea. "Oh, god! You really believe I'm that much of an asshole, don't you?" he breathed disbelievingly. He'd taunted, tormented -- oh god! -- marked Spike, all but raped him, and Spike believed he'd go even further and stake the victim. Shaking as rage, pain, and shame all vied for top position, Xander strode across the room and tossed the key within Spike's reach.

Making the mistake of meeting Spike's gaze, Xander froze for just a second before turning and fleeing. He wasn't running from Spike, or what he'd done; he was running from what he wanted to do. Though, given the chance, he wasn't entirely certain whether he'd have chosen to beat the crap out of Spike, or fuck him. The shock in those startlingly blue eyes had been the last straw, and he'd simply run. Spike had really believed Xander would stake him for what had happened.

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