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Rating NC17
Disclaimer boys belong to Joss….damn him to everlasting hell

Hard to Breathe


Part One

Turning off the shower, Angel wraps his tight body in a thick terry towel, stepping out of his custom made shower. Running a hand through his sopping locks, he wanders out into the bedroom. Not bothering with the lights, he pulls his silk sleepwear out of its drawer, by touch, by habit. So used to the lingering echo of humanity held captive within the building, he doesn’t notice the bird-like fluttering of a heartbeat within his own rooms. Doesn’t see the frail, shivering form tucked in the corner, or hear the desperate mewls clawing their way out of a skeletal chest. What does catch his attention is the bittersweet terror scent flooding the rooms. Body hunched in a defensive stance, he slowly scans the shadows, zoning in on the plethora of sensations hammering at the demon. Angel shifts into gameface, bracing himself for whatever threat this new player might bring. Eyes glowing topaz in the wan moonlight, he focuses on the quivering pale mass. Keen eyes picking out the pattern of bruises and bloody marks that mar the ivory flesh. Something about the shape, the trembling, eats at his memory. Slow trickles of another time, another place worm their way into his thought process, making his gut clench. Makes the otter blood he had for dinner curdle, become acidic in his stomach. He knows this creature. Hears Angelus howl in agony when the creature raises its head, and pins the vampire with its mad blue eyes. Muddy blond hair plastered to its head with pale pink viscera, face covered in blood and soot. Gouges sliced deep into hot, hot flesh, oozing more blood.

“Oh God, Spike.” Angel moans, guilt causing the soul to wrench. The creature opens its mouth, a silent scream ripped from his body, face twisted in agony. Dropping his head back into the protective curl of arms, the tortured form begs for death.

Angel approaches on cat feet, subsonic whispers of ‘Spike’ and ‘William’. Subtle purring designed to soothe a terrified Childe. Shocked when he realizes these tricks won’t work anymore. Spike is no longer a vampire. No longer his Childe. Grief and jealousy and pride take their places next to the guilt. The cloying scent of dirt ground into flesh shatters introspection’s, jolting him into action. With exquisite care, and a century of suppressed love, the vampire scoops the new human off the floor, returning to the bathroom with his precious burden. Gently depositing Spike in the corner, Angel fills the tub with lukewarm water, knowing that any hotter will be agony on the shredded flesh. Dropping his own towel, he picks Spike up off the floor, and sinks the both of them into the gigantic antique tub. Using his hands, he drenches the terrified body in his lap. Washing away layers upon layers of blood, viscera and dirt. Draining and refilling the bath until the water runs clear. Lathering the filthy hair until it squeaks, crying when Spike bites through his own lip, restrained from howling his agony by whatever demons are in his imagination. The shattered form in his arms finally passes out from terror and pain, limply draped in Angel’s protective embrace.

Draining the tub for a final time, the vampire takes them both, dripping and shivering, to his massive bed. Wrapping their bodies in cool cotton sheets, he croons an ancient Irish lullaby, soothing himself into sleep.

Three days pass before Spike opens his eyes with anything more than terror dancing in their azure depths. Three nights of howling and writhing in remembered torture. Hours filled with being restrained, to prevent him from gouging out his own eyes, tearing out his own hair. Angel leaves his side long enough to refill a bowl of water, tenderly wiping away tears and sweat. To open the door of his apartment to call out for blood and broth and coffee.

“Sire?” A single word forced out of a throat hoarse from screaming. A long, pale hand reaching out for dimly remembered comfort.

“Wil?” dazed, having long since given up hope for his lost Childe. Clasping fingers with the questing hand, bringing the shaking limb up to cradle against his cool face.

“I…wha?” unable to form words, hoping his intent is clear in his eyes. Begging for answers. Terrified this was just another torture.

“You were in hell, Wil.” Angel murmurs against the captive hand. Laughing softly at the irritation flashing deep in blue eyes.

“You knew that, right? I can hear you calling me a ‘git’ in my head.” Spike nods, encouraging his sire to continue.

“I don’t know, Wil, I came out of my shower a few nights ago, and there you were.” Agony flashes across his face at the memory.

“Wil?” he manages to croak out, reaching for the water glass on the bedside table.

“You’re human now, Wil. Feel.” Pressing their hands to the pale, fragile chest, watching the flickering emotions dancing across Wil’s face.

“Human?” focuses on the sound of blood rushing through his ears, tries to hold his breath. Waiting until spots flash in front of his eyes before sucking in sweet air.

“Fuck.” Closing his eyes, fighting tears. Failing, as they slide down his thin face.

“My sentiments exactly. Fuck.” Climbing into the bed, curling his protective form around Wil, Angel shelters him soothes away his tears. Uncertain of tomorrow, he gives what he can for today.

Soul shattering howls echo in the darkness, Angel is up and running for Wil before his eyes open. Flipping on the overhead light, flooding the room with sterile white light. Sinking to his knees at the tortured form on the narrow bed.

Thin cream bed sheet, twisted into a thick rope binds his hands, looped around the iron headboard. Slim body arched off the bed, anchored by his head and ankles. Sweat and blood slicked flesh glittering under the harsh light. Blue eyes open, staring sightlessly at imagined horrors. Mouth wide in a silent scream.

Huge, disembodied claws reach for him from the darkness, snipping off choice bits of flesh, painting the sky with his blood. Leaches and snakes writhe around his bound body, sucking out the precious dripping fluid. Wide jaws locking over gaping wounds, drawing deeper and deeper. Voices drift in the darkness, mocking. Taunting. Razor sharp tongues slice his flesh, lapping at his organs. Clenching around his heart. Dragging his intestines out through jagged gashes, twining around his wrists, binding him within his own viscera. Cruel hooks dig out kidneys, a liver. He feels the tearing, feels his body die over and over. Gagging on his own tongue. Eyes gouged out. Cock and balls cut off and shoved down his throat. Eons pass, forever in a blinking moment.

Angel crawls across the floor, legs unwilling to support his weight. Dragging himself up onto the bed, pinning down the flailing body. Tearing the sheet with his bare hands, untangling Wil from their deadly embrace. The blond curls into the protective embrace, finding familiar comfort within the cold arms.

Angel wonders why he even bothers to go to his own bed each night, waking with Wil wrapped around him like a cocoon each morning. Stinking of terror filled sweat, and blood gouged from never-healing wounds. Tries to find the courage to give his lost Childe one final gift.

Days pass, full of Wil ghosting around the offices. Picking up food, only to drop it after a few bites. Trying to get involved with the team, using his mortality and memories to their advantage, only to wander off, trapped within his own prison.

Nights full of terror, agony. Screaming for forgiveness and death. Losing himself deep in madness. Finally refusing to sleep altogether. Eyes sunken in dark hollows, cheekbones and ribs gaunt. Until he collapses in exhaustion and starvation. Until Angel makes another deal with the Senior Partners. Giving another chunk of himself to save a Childe.

Xander carefully cleans and breaks down his rifle. The 12 gauge Winchester black shadow had become his best friend in the last six months or so, since he had accepted his new position for the Watchers. He hated his job with an intensity that bordered on psychotic, which is why he knew he was the only one to do it. And he knew that if he ever got to the point that he looked forward to that days’ assignment, that was the day to turn the rifle on himself.

He slayed the Slayer. Not the ones that had a firm grasp on reality, of course. He got to put rabid, insane Slayer’s out of their misery, and keep the world safe at the same time. From a reasonable distance, no sense in risking his own hide any more than necessary. This makes number 47. He pulls a tiny leather notebook out of his pack, and writes down her name, the city, and the date. Forty-seven more girls he couldn’t save. Etching a small line in the barrel of the rifle, he packs his kit away.

He already had three more names to track down, and the daylight was quickly fading. The tension gripping his spine increased with each dropping increment of the setting sun. His hotel was less than a block away, chosen just for that reason. And he was starting to get the whole ‘NOW’ feeling in the middle of his gut. The same one he usually gets just before the world blows up.

The phone is ringing as he walks through the door. He knows who is on the other end, but the irrational portion of his mind is convinced that if he just ignores it, the crisis will go away.

Stows his kit in the closet.

Strips down. Climbs in the shower. Washes his hair three times. Fixes a stiff drink. Gets dressed.

With the strident rings as background noise.

“Hello Giles.” He sets the drink on the small bedside table, making sure to leave a wet ring on the polished wood. Any chance for rebellion is indulged in, no matter how slight.

“Xander? Thank God!” his normally clipped syllables are thready with panic.

“Where?” pulls the pillow case off the thin pillow, shredding it to bits in a matter of seconds. Starts on the second waiting for Giles to shatter his world again.

“New York City. A new Hellmouth.” Xander can hear the older man cleaning his glasses thousands of miles away.

“And…” so far, nothing to get worked up about.

“We believe it is going to open on New Years Eve.” Familiar exasperation begins to worm its way through the panic.

“Ok, Giles. I fail to see the point where I should be scared. Take one of the girls and go close it.” He finishes his drink, debates mixing another.

“Damn it Xander! Would you just listen to me? There’s a prophecy-“

“Isn’t there always? I don’t have time for this tonight, Giles. Sleeping is more important than apocalypse any day.” Fixes another Jack and coke, under the impression that just one more cant hurt. Until tomorrow.

“The prophecy involves you and Spike.” The bluntness of Giles’ words shocks Xander out of his internal snarkyness.

“Spike is dead, Giles. This conversation is over.” Slamming the handset down on the cradle, he picks up the amber bottle, and straight shots the liquid fire. If he closes his eye, the acrid reek of cigarette smoke assaults him. Expensive leather polish. Peroxide. Countless hours of exchanging barbed insults. Secret conversations held in the shadows. The heart wrenching ache when Xander accepted that Spike was in love with his best friend. That there would never be room for him. . Images of the bleached menace flood his fertile mind. So he is careful about when he closes his eye.

Wil pushes the door to Ardor, flinching at the noise. The heavy bass throb makes his eardrums ache long before he reaches the bar. Best tips in town though, and he would rather pay for his apartment and classes at NYU without touching his trust fund. He has plans for that pretty chunk of money. Long lean fingers casually flicking open the top two buttons, revealing a pale column of throat, the envy of many a girl. Rolling up his sleeves to reveal tightly corded forearms coiled black serpents tangling around each wrist. Sliding behind the heavily polished bar, he plasters his work face on. Light, smiling, never showing his utter distaste for this atmosphere, the constant passes and innuendoes from the patrons and other barkeepers. He knew he was attractive, in a scrawny-lose him down the shower-drain kind of way. But some nights it was all he could do to make it out the door with his clothes and dignity intact.

What he failed to see was his cat-like walk, the sinuous way he moved through the crowds. The way his long fingers caressed the necks of the bottles, or slid the bar towel through a loosely clasped fist. The way his eyes would flash with genuine warmth, instead of the cool grace, when he laughed. But every one else saw. And desired.

Wiping down the bar, pouring drinks, Wil paid as little attention to the dance floor as possible. The writhing and gyrating made him vaguely uncomfortable, like voyeurism. The dancers came as close to sex as they could, without getting arrested. And then he felt the air move around him, soft and invisible, caressing his back. A slight tingle started at the base of his spine, crawling up his flesh like a tarantula, making his flesh turn inside out. A man was strong-arming his way through the crowd; one eye covered in a black eyepatch, the other one like hot melted chocolate. Intent on him. Locked on him. He stops suddenly, cocking his head to the side like he could hear something that wasn’t really there. Single eye widening in apparent shock. He takes another step forward, then spins abruptly, stalking out of the club. Pulling a tiny silver phone out to jam against his ear.

“Goddammnit! Fucking hell, Giles. That is not Spike.” Xander growls into the phone, too pissed to unclench his jaw to speak.

“Im sorry, Xander. Come again?”

“Which part didn’t you get? That I'm really fucking pissed off right now, or that that isn’t Spike? Cuz I thought I was pretty clear on that point.” Searching his pockets franticly for his silver flask.

“I…the information I have says that Spike is in New York, and tending bar at Ardor. Are you positive you are at the correct establishment?” once again, Xander can hear the lens cloth coming out to play.

“Oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Prim and proper. Let me explain myself.” The phone connection crackles with the sarcasm. “That…MAN in there is WILLIAM! Not Spike the vampire. William the Human. Does that clarify things for you?” pulling the tiny bottle out of a pocket, Xander tips it, draining its contents.

“I do believe a call to Angel is in order.” The phone goes dead, leaving the brunette to gape at it stupidly.

“What the fuck…” slides the flask back into his jacket, he turns and makes his way back into the club. Prepared as always to make a fool of himself.
“Hey Wil.” Terrified blue eyes franticly search the crowd, desperately looking for an escape. Wil keeps his back turned, refusing to look at the one-eyed brunette. Nods silently.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb here, guessing you don’t have a fucking clue as to who I am.” Xander traces idle paths on the bar, waiting for Wil to turn, run, anything.

“Got it in two, mate.” The quiet words are almost lost in the crashing waves of techno music. Wil slowly turns, facing a lost piece of the past.

“But I’m thinkin' you know me. Care to elaborate?” carefully placing the shot glass on the bar, he vaults over the polished separator.

“Charlie,” speaking in low tones to the small bar back. “Tell Lorne I’m out of here for the night…something major came up.” Piercing azure eyes never leaving Xander’s figure.

Xander’s eye settles on a small green demon, a frissure of shock travels his body. Suddenly aware of the mixed species of the crowd.

“Well fuck me. That makes it easier, I guess.” Wil locks his eyes with Xander’s, terror warring with determination, clashing with resignation.

“C’mon then. Someplace with coffee.” Xander pushes away from the bar, waiting for Wil to step up to him. Smiles encouragingly, desperate suddenly to not scare this man too much. Knowing he is going to fail miserably.

“I know a coffee shop. Quiet. Pretty deserted this time of night. I can smoke there.” Wil takes off without him, confident the brunette will follow.

Wil studies his companion from the corner of his eye watches as the brunette slinks through the late night crowds. Never touching the laughing, running, talking, normal people. Reaching a hand across his chest, searching for something that is not there. Patting his pockets, in a seemingly random pattern. Flashes a sloe-eyed whore a cross when she takes a lurching step towards them. She breaks the heel off one wicked stiletto heel in her haste to retreat. Stares in amazement when the man pins a concrete cold eye on a young street tough, shaking his head slightly. The tough melts back into his shadowed lair.

Wil wonders how he knew this predator. If he was hunted by him at some point. Wonders if he has been caught. His mind flashes on a program he watched one night, late. Tigers prowling through the jungle. Dark and strident. Ruthless, merciless. Suddenly convinced that the creature moving beside him is such an animal, taken human form by some primordial magic. Stops dead on the sidewalk.

“Are you human?” blurts out, fists clenched at his sides. The creature/man turns, pins him with an iron hard eye.

“Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, Wil. I am human.” Turnings, resuming his stalking walk. Wil chews on his bottom lip, unsure if he wants knowledge enough to continue this journey. And of course, he does.

“This is it. C’mon.” Wil opens a frosted glass door, leading his companion into a dark paneled room. They order fragrant coffees, and seclude themselves in a corner.

“Who are you?” Wil wraps his hands around the ceramic coffee mug, greedy for the warmth. Staring deep into the coffee, seeking all the answers there.

“Fair enough. I'm Xander. How long have you been in New York?” hands busy under the table, pulling knives and stakes out of their hiding spots, putting them within easy reach on his lap.

“Almost two years. I was in L.A before that.” Taking tiny sips from his cup, eyes wandering around the café.

“What about before then?” Xander tips his mug slightly, spilling hot coffee in a puddle. Trails a finger through the steaming fluid.

“Nothing. Nada. Blank. I was in some sort of…accident. Woke up with some bloke nattering apologies, and drowning in self-perceived guilt. Said it was his entire fault, but that he had fixed it. Never did find out what ‘it’ is. But I think you know.”

“Yeah, the bloke would be Angel.” Fiddles with the blades in his lap for a moment. “And the accident? Oh boy. That’s more of a whisky conversation than a coffee one.” Dropping his head, long chestnut locks obscuring his face. Wondering how much to tell the blond.

“All of it, mate. Every fucking scrap.” Startled, Xander lifts his head, is met by a pair of determined blue eyes.

“Just remember you said that when you try to tear off my head. Angel is not your friend. He turned you in 1880. Into a vampire…”

By sunrise, Wil has had his world shattered, and rebuilt. Terror and pride war within his soul. He had been an evil creature, but had saved the world. Loved a woman enough to get a soul for her. Had earned the nickname of Spike honestly.

“C’mon mate. Let’s get back to my flat. I need to call my professor, and let him know I wont be there today.” Waiting for Xander to secrete his menagerie of weapons, he tosses a few bills on the littered tabletop.

“Not much, but its mine. Don’t touch the money from the poof. Couch is there, loo is there.” Wil waits until Xander is settled on the sofa before retreating to his room. Barely remembering to call his professor, then collapsing on his bed, tumbling straight into sleep.

Wakes to howls of terror. His own. Drenched in acrid sweat, fighting the massive form pinning him to soaking wet sheets. Tangled memories of being turned to ash, having his organs ripped out. Being bled, being desecrated. The steel bands around his arms relax, as his thrashing calms.

“Shh, Wil. I’ve got you. Keep you safe.” Soothing whispers gentled hands. Wil turns into the embrace, burying himself in the astounding arrays of scents. Earth and sleep and coffee and smoke, Chocolate, safety. Whimpers himself back to sleep.

Xander relaxes his body, willing the other to do the same. Wraps his arms around Wil. Can’t count the number of times he has dreamed of doing just this. Just lying with this man. Even in his most desperate fantasies, he couldn’t imagine this gorgeous creature returning his affection. There wasn’t an alternate universe created where Spike would love him back. So he contented himself with just offering comfort. Of course in Real Life, he managed to fuck that up on a regular basis too, reaching out a hand, only to have the vamp try to bite off his fingers. Spike wanted nothing to do with him, until the very end. A few brief moments of contact, treasured memories. Kept hidden within his deepest defenses. And now, years of fantasy come to fruition, as he cradles the sleeping blond close.

Slowly coming back to consciousness, Wil tries to stretch. Unable to with the iron bands wrapped around his chest. Pinning his arms to his sides. Wrinkles his nose at the sensation of tiny crisp hairs. The heavy rhythmic breathing. Lulling heartbeat so close to his own. He opens his eyes a slit, confused at the broad expanse of tanned chest pressed against him.

“You awake?” whisky voice heavy with sleep reaches his ears. Wil struggles out of the embrace. Panic etched on his bones. Xander relaxes his arms; glad for once that those piercing blue eyes are focused anywhere but at him. Glad Wil misses the agony he knows is written all over his face.

“You had a nightmare. You were better after…” closing his eye, unwilling to watch the blond back away in horror.

“Right. Better now. Gonna take a shower.” Darting out of his room, Wil locks himself in the bathroom, shaking. This…hunter…predator…had revealed image after horrifying image of his long tenure as a vampire. Calling him the Big Bad. Part of a Scourge, for fucks sake. And to wake up held so tenderly. With so much compassion from a man who, quite frankly scared him spitless, took some getting used to.

Random snatches of last night’s conversation filter through his confusion. Methodically attending to his shower ritual, he focuses on replaying the startling revelations.

“So let me get this right, mate. I was a vampire. Part of the Scourge of Europe? For a hundred and fifty years? Got meself chipped by a government agency. Fell in love with a Slayer, and saved the world. I died, and got sent to hell, then brought back. And then me Sire decided to wipe all that away. Now you are here because of some prophecy, and need me to help close a Hellmouth?” Tapping the filter of his millionth smoke against the tabletop.

“Wow, Wil. Took me two hours to tell that little story, and you got it all in one breath. I'm impressed.” Xander fiddles with his empty coffee cup.

“And what about you, mate? Where do you fit into that little Grimm tale?” pins the brunette with a questioning glare. Almost misses the flash of misery on the handsome face. Almost.

“I saved the world once. My crowning achievement. I saved us. Other than that? Demon bait, comic relief, general gopher. That’s it.” Tips his mug, silently asking the waitress for a refill.

“Somehow I doubt that, pet. I truly do.” Trailing a slim finger around the rim of his cup.

“So, now what? We have to close the Hellmouth? How?” accepting the refill the waitress offers.

“Yeah. Need to call Giles today. See what he has found out.” Xander appears to fold into himself, shattering the illusion of self-confidence.

“Suns comin up. Got a place to crash?” sliding his smokes into his pocket, watching the brunette secrete his weapons stash.

“Nah, get a hotel room around here somewhere.” And makes his damning offer.

Turning off the punishing spray, he can hear the angry voice of his houseguest. Not wanting to intrude, but desperate for any details of his life before, Wil cracks the bathroom door open.

“Yeah, Giles. He took the news a lot better than I would have.” Pacing the floor, tiny silver phone clenched tight in his fist. “I’m pacing in his very human apartment…. He has nightmares…bad ones, yeah…don’t know really, was pretty much concentrating on keeping him from gouging out his own eyeballs…how? How the fuck are we supposed to do that…yeah, I will figure something out…my job, I get that…fine.” Snapping the phone shut, he spins to face the blond standing in the doorway. Growls when Wil flinches away from the ferocity on his face.

“Be back in an hour. We’ll figure this out then.” Slams the door on his way out of the tiny apartment. Night time in New York again, and he prowls. Hunting for the first blond whore he can find. Slips the petite blond boy a fifty, and pushes him up against an alley wall.

“Sorry, its gonna be rough.” Gives the kid enough time to brace himself on the abrasive bricks, rolls a condom over his weeping cock, and slams into the slim blond. Quick jagged thrusts, wrapping his hand around the whore’s cock, pulling.

“Fuck!” fills the latex with his cum; the whore sprays the wall. Panting, ashamed, he pulls out, ripping the condom from his limp member.

“Sorry.” Thrusts another fifty in the kids’ hand. “Sorry.” Walks away still buttoning his pants. Ready to face Wil.

Part Two

Wil paced the tiny living room, torn between wishing the brunette would disappear across the ocean, or walk back through the door. Wearing a path in his ratty brown carpet. Jumping at the harsh staccato knock.

“Xander?” hating the tremor that runs through his voice.

“Yeah…can I come in?” Wil unlocks the door, pulling it open. Shocked at the harsh creases that have appeared on the other man’s face.

“Well?” waiting for the blond to move, Xander twitches anxiously in the doorway.

“Sorry, still a bit of a shock, ya know?” moving to the side, running a hand through sandy blond curls. Xander pushes past, stalking into the room. Tension thrums through his tense body.

“Yeah. Whatever. We need to work on the prophecy.” Flexes his fists, rolls his shoulders, trying to drain the tension out of his neck. Turns to face Wil.

Two quick strides and Wil has shoved his face into Xander’s, thrusting a hard finger into his chest.

“Listen, mate-“ Xander has him jacked up against the wall before he can finish his scathing remark.

“Don’t ever fucking touch me. Ever.” Wil is once again reminded of a lethal predator, with himself in the roll of prey. And very caught. He nods silently, not daring to breathe; knowing that if he moves Xander will snap him into pieces.

Xander places him gently back on the floor; absently smoothing out the wrinkles his fist had caused. Struggles to wipe the familiar death mask off his face.

“I’m sorry I came in here and fucked up your world. If I could go back, fix it, whatever I would. But I cant. This is just something we are both going to have to deal with. Ok? Just nod…I can’t hear your voice right now.” Wil nods, again silently. Waits patiently for Xander to deal with whatever demons were tormenting him. Breathes a quiet sigh of relief when the brunette moves away. Collapses in a boneless heap when he closes the bathroom door, intent on washing away the smell of the alley whore.

Seriously considers calling Angel, for the first time since leaving L.A, and finding out more about his houseguest. Deciding that would probably piss Xander off even more. Orders pizza instead.

“So the gist of this prophecy is that you are tied to it. Since you closed the last one. And I am tied to it because of…my current job.” Devours a slice of deep-dish pizza in three bites.

“Do you even taste that?” takes small, precise bites, chewing thoroughly.

“Later.” Takes a deep pull of his long neck beer, swallowing down his food.

“What is your job? You danced around that little topic earlier.” sharp blue eyes watch the brunette carefully, anticipating a violent reaction. Astounded at the tears that well up in a shattered brown eye.

“I am…an executioner. No, I am The Executioner. Capitals. I…hunt down…I dunno, rogue Slayers, I guess. The ones the Watchers Council don’t get to in time.” his gaze becomes distant, timeless. “The ones who take out entire villages, with their bare hands. Because the memories of the First Slayer tells them too. The ones that cannibalize their families. That desecrates their homes. The ones who are rabid, insane. They are dead, already. But refuse to give up their breath, their heartbeats. I take that from them. Put them to rest.” His dark face carefully blank, expecting censure, pity, condemnation.

“I can’t begin to understand what that must be like for you. But I am honored to know you.” Wil stands, gazing at the broken man at his table, then leaves him to his private misery.

Xander stalks through the apartment, growling, sniffing. Wil considers climbing the walls, attaching himself to the ceiling, just to get out of the way. Settles for retreating to the kitchen and watching. The brunette wears a path from the closet to the window, lifting the blinds each pass. Clenching his fists, shaking them out. Running a nervous hand through too-long hair. Adjusting the band to his eye patch. Wil stops himself from asking what happened.

When the last drop of sunlight disappears from the sky, Xander is on his knees in front of the coat closet. Digging through an enormous black case. Crosses, wooden stakes, bottles with the words ‘Holy Water’ etched on their faces. Finally a long, wickedly powerful rifle. Sweeping a considering eye down the dull black barrel, Xander shakes his head minutely. Mutters to himself. Tucks the Winchester back into its foam and banded steel prison. Pulls out a short barreled ‘0-8 instead. Slings the nylon strap over his shoulder, and pulls his battered leather bomber over that. Tucks an amazing array of weaponry around his body.

“C’mon. Time to hunt.” Drags a tired duster out of the closet. Flings it at Wil.

“When was the last time you wore this?” begins secreting stakes and bottles in the various pockets.

“Um…never? I just couldn’t toss it though. Dunno, when I think about getting rid of it, everything goes tight, and its hard to breath. Where did I get it?” unconsciously patting himself down, instinctive. Fumbles when his questing fingers discover a dented silver Zippo lighter.

“Off your second slayer. Nikki Wood. I can take you to the subway train you killed her on if you want.” Xander snorts at the horror that crosses the blondes’ face. “When this is all over, we’ll get really pissed, your word, not mine, and I will tell you stories that will bleach your hair.” Laughing at his private joke, laughing at the confusion on Wil’s face.

“Nevermind. Got your kit? Lets go.” Spinning, Xander fairly runs out of the apartment, adrenaline crashing through his body already.

“Stay back, holler if you get caught. Stake anything that comes within arms reach. Simple.” Xander leads him past the drunks weaving in the gutters, the tiny whore cribs. Dancing through the teens skateboarding on the sidewalks, the punks smoking their clove cigarettes. Past the warehouses that are still loading trucks, deep into abandoned neighborhoods. Where nobody sane would be caught alive. Which is the point. Stops suddenly, turning to press into the blond.

“Listen close. Pretty sure I only have time to go through this once. You have the instincts for this. I can smell it. Don’t think, just react. I don’t know what’s down here. But every nerve I possess is going haywire. I’m thinkin at least one nest, possibly two. And a were pack. If you get bit, I will shoot you. I don’t think they will come close, but I was never paid for my thinking skills. You can talk, but do it quiet, and if I don’t answer, well, don’t get your knickers in a bunch, k?” single eye, fiercely intent. Gauging his hunt partner.

Wil takes a deep breath, consciously relaxing his shoulders. Doesn’t realize when he begins to slink. Hands clasped loosely around rough wood, cold eyes flickering through the shadows. The pair dart around discarded crates, drifting through the flotsam of the abandoned buildings. Wil dusts his first vamp before he even sees it creeping up behind him just flings his arm out and connects. Spinning, long leg flying out, driving the heel of his boot into the jaw of a second. Hears Xander howl, caught in a dance of his own. Thrust, turn, duck, and kick. Between them, the nest is gone in moments.

“One more. They’re running.” Primal, feral. Xander lopes away, trusting Wil to follow. Together they track the second nest, catching strays here and there. Pinning the smaller nest, fledges really, as they try to escape into the tunnel system. The dance is over in seconds, leaving both men vaguely unsatisfied.

Xander scans the empty warehouse, senses on full alert, searching for…anything. Spins, fixes his eye on Wil. Grins. The tiger impression is gone from the blondes’ mind; instead images of a wolf, rangy and lean, superimpose themselves. Then Xander has him crushed against a wall, is pressed against him from knee to nipple. Low, needy growls rumble in his chest. Their mouths are pressed together, and this wasn’t a kiss, it was a capture. Xander takes his tongue, his breath, the deep primal hunger caused by the hunt. Sucking the air from his lungs, the moisture from his soft inner lips. Hot, callused hands worm their way up his thin T-shirt, twisting his nipples savagely. Soothing them with tiny caresses, then pinching. Wil submits, knowing that to fight is to die. Thrusts his hips to meet the jerking motions of the brunette. Wraps his arms around his shoulders, twining in long dark locks. Pulling with driving need. Doesn’t remember when a hand rips his jeans open; only grunting softly at the brutal rhythm. Keening into the mouth holding his prisoner, the unfamiliar pleasure of another cock against his. Held together and stripped bare. Tears away from the punishing kiss when his orgasm crashes over him, never noticing that Xander cums with him, howling. Thanks whatever God is watching that he is pinned between the wall and the man/cat/wolf creature. Drops his head to rest against the others shoulder. Panting harshly. Trembles when a suddenly gentle hand tucks him back into his jeans. Sags when Xander pulls away.

“Fuck.” The brunette whispers hoarsely. “I will regret that in the morning, I just can't right now. C’mon.” turning away from the stunned man. Lopes out of the building, without looking back.

Rending flesh, dripping blood, the sweet agony of torture. Sinking his teeth into tender flesh. Slowly tearing muscle from bone. Maniacal laughter in the background. Sharp fingernails digging into his back. A dark haired goddess dancing naked, glowing in the moonlight. The mewling, pitiful cries of men, stung up between bare branches. A coven of witches, skyclad, chanting esoteric poetry. Lightning bolts from a cloudless heaven. A blond dervish skittering among the bloody bodies. Lapping at their offerings. Dark demon fucking him in the ass. Witches and vampires binding their powers with the viscous fluid, painting their flesh red.

Bolting upright, drenched in sweat, gasping for much needed air. Wil realizes the panting cries are coming from him. Shattering the darkness with his terror. Stumbling out of his bed, in search of the only one willing to give him the answers.

“Who is she?” voice gasping. Sees Xander lurch up from his cocoon.

“Who?” like a man who is used to being woken in the middle of the night with earth shattering crisis.

“Dark haired goddess, chatting with the moon.” Wil sits on Xander’s feet, curling around their solid warmth.

“Ah, that would be Drusilla. Kinda on the batty side.” Cocks his head at the blond. “Bad dream?” Accepts the silent nod. Opens his arms, inviting. Blue eyes gleam in the darkness, focused on the comfort being offered.

“I’m not Spike.” Whispers brokenly.

“I know. C’mere.” Wil melts into the embrace, resurrecting memories of the last bad dream, and the tender hold he found himself in. Xander settles back on his pillows, tucking the blankets around them. Cards his fingers through half-familiar sandy curls.

Waking brings back the awkwardness, jerky twitching, rapid retreats. Half mumbled apologies color the air.

“You told me about Drusilla the first night?” stumbled attempts at conversation.

“Yeah, kinda like your sister. If you’re from Arkansas. Theoretically, it goes Darla, Angelus, Drusilla, and Spike. The records are spotty as to whether Dru sired Spike, or if Angelus did. Common belief is that Dru started it, but was too insane to finish, and Angelus wound up doing it.” Xander waits, watching, wondering if Wil picks up on the separation of identities. Feels a thrill run through him when the blond graces him with a small smile.

“Tomorrow is New Years.” Fiddling with his empty coffee cup.

“Giles and some of the girls will be here in the morning. Willow and Kennedy too.” Confusion flashes across the pale face at the unfamiliar names.

“Willow. My best friend since childhood, and one of the most powerful Wicca in the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy, her uber-slayer girlfriend.” Xander refills his own cup, shifting in the tense silence.

“Xander?” a pink flush stains Wil’s face, he tilts his head, hiding his expression.

“Hmm?” Xander can taste the apprehension boiling from the blond.

“Did you and Spike ever…I mean, were you two…did you ever do with him like we did last night?” breath rushing out of his body like a hiss. Xander once again gets that distant look on his face.

“I would have given my other eye, once upon a time, to have Spike touch me with anything other than the intent to kill me. And he never really tried to do that. I was less than an annoyance to him. Like one of those little fish that latches on to the sharks? The ones that feed off the shark’s leavings? Buffy was the shark. And then he fell in love with her. And I was like a little book to him. Useful enough to give him any information he wanted. And I gave it to him, just to hear him talk. That whisky rough voice could get me off with just a few words.” Xander snaps back to the present, grimacing slightly. Pained smile twitching across his mouth.

“Sorry about that, by the way. I could probably give you a dozen excuses, and they would all sound like crap. So, just sorry.” Takes his coffee cup, and locks himself in the bathroom.

“Yeah, mate.” Doesn’t know why the apology hurts.

“FUCK!” Xander’s harsh voice echoes in the tiny apartment. With a massive thrust of his arm, he pitches his little silver phone at the wall, shattering it like glass. Pacing the room, muttering to himself.

“Dare I ask?” Wil stays safely in the kitchen, well within reach of sharp objects, should he find himself in need of one.

“Giles seems to think I can even the playing field in the next twenty four hours.” He storms into the bedroom, returning moments later, a thin pillowcase clutched in his fist. Begins methodically ripping it to shreds.

“Sorry, nervous habit.” Tears the shreds down into individual threads.

“How?” Wil skirts around the brunette, opening the closet door.

“He gave me the names of a dozen psycho slayers, all here in the big apple. Wants me to go on a nice little shooting spree, and take them out. Oh, and Angel will be there tomorrow night. Guess the prophecy was a null and void until he had Satan’s barracuda's wipe you clean.” He gives up on tying the pillowcase back together, and moves to help Wil. Taking the 12 gauge for himself, strapping the .0-8 in a leather holster across the blonde’s slim back, he casts an appraising eye on his new hunt partner.

“You sure you are up for this. There is blood involved.” Stuffing shells into pockets, tying down various knives.

“No, im not. But I don’t really think I have a choice.” Pulling out an odd array of leather and steel straps, he looks questioningly at the smirking brunette.

“Those are arm braces, hold throwing knives. They were Spikes. Go ahead.” Helping the blond strap the buckles, and slide the small blades into leather loops. Quicker than he can blink, Wil snatches one of the small knives, and flicks it across the room, thunking into the eye of the model on the calendar.

“That’ll do.” Helps Wil to his feet, and motions him to spread his legs. Ties down a set of wicked bowie knives to each thigh. Wil staggers under the weight of the various weapons, and their deadly intent.

“Time?” Xander nods, opening the door for Wil to proceed him.

The blond vomits after taking down the first rogue slayer. Shooting her down like a rabid dog. Cries when Xander places her name in his little book. Scribbles his name next to hers.

The third rogue finds them first, warned by the voice of the First Slayer that she has become the hunted. Xander slices her throat. Wil writes her name down.

The seventh one plunges off the L track, rather than being shot.

By the time they reach the final rogue, both men are covered in blood and viscera. Exhausted. Wil misses his first shot, lunging out of the way when she dives for him. Xander snaps her neck while she is still dazed from landing headfirst into a brick wall.

All thoughts are centered on a hot shower, and sleep by the time they get back to the apartment. Unfortunately, what they got was Angel.

Part Three

“It’s called a Lazarus spell. When Spike first-“

“Not Spike! Wil” Xander's growl shocks Angel. The demon trapped within his soul recognizes a fellow, lethal predator.

“Ok. When Wil first came back, Wes researched prophecies. The one that most closely involved him said…

When the dead man walks anew
Purged from the fires of creation
What is right shall become askew
Pride shall falter as mans salvation.”

Angel pauses, hands tightly clasped around a mysterious object.

“None of the usual apocolyptical portents happened, and it was determined that Wil wasn’t the one the prophecy indicated. We waited, just in case, until the nightmares became too bad, and he was in danger of really hurting himself-“ Xander interrupts with another snort.

“And the nightmares weren’t bad enough to hurt him? I've seen two, and they hurt me!” he scoots closer to the blond, offering his bulk as silent protection.

“Please, let me finish? There is more to the prophecy, but quite frankly, I wasn’t that interested then, and its too late now. After we had to tie him down for two straight days, I went to the Senior Partners, they gave me this.” He holds up the object in his hand. A small glass cube covered in finely etched runes. It pulsated a pale yellow light.

“It’s called an Orlon Window. It contains all of his memories as Spike, and whatever he retained of William.” Angel casually rotates the box with his dexterous fingers.

Terrified blue eyes are drawn helplessly to the mystical object. Fascinated, repulsed. One trembling hand reaches out to stroke the top of the box.

“Wil.” Xanders voice, low with concern, stops him before he actually touches the cube.

“I don’t know why they didn’t replace these with a lifetime of normal memories. For what its worth, Wil, I am sorry.” The melancholy vampire relinquishes ownership of the Orlon Window to Xander; instinct telling him it is safe in the brunettes’ possession.

“Your choice. Have all of these stuffed back into your head, or make new ones. Independent of the past.” Xander tucks the box close to his chest, wrapping his free hand around the clammy one of the blond.

“Let’s get through tonight. Then we will talk about it.” Clinging to the larger man like a lifeline, he visibly calms himself, focusing on the upcoming battle.

A sharp rapping on the door breaks the tension. Xander rises from his perch, and swings the door open.

“Really Xander. Haven’t you learned better by now?” Giles stands in the arch, instinctively placing his body between his charges, and whatever might be going on in the apartment.

“Better than to open the door? One would think.” Stepping aside to allow the group in.

“Is that an invitation?” the older man smirks at him, enjoying their little game.

“As close as you will ever get, G-man.” Waits until the odd assortment of newcomers file into the tiny room.

“There is just enough time for quick intros, then Wil and I are going to take a nap. Been up for way too many hours to count, and we need some sleep.” Catching the eye of the blond on the couch, he silently offers comfort, and feels unknown tension leave his body when it is accepted.

“Giles, Willow, Kennedy, Andrew, this is Wil. Wil, this is everybody. They are going to go wander around Times Square, setting up spells, basic patrolling, pretty much getting the hell out of here so we can catch some sleep. Give hugs. Go away.” Hovering protectively over his self-appointed charge, Xander rushes the greetings. Growling softly, unknowingly, when both Giles and Andrew embrace Wil. Angel catches the sound.

Willow clutches the blond tight in her arms, shedding fat tears, dampening his thick curls. Kennedy gently disentangles her lover from the young man, wrapping her arms around the redhead, promising more time later. The rest of the girls mill about, murmuring appreciatively over the males. All the visitors grumble when Xander begins shooing them out.

“Later, I promise. Go do your thing now. We need rest to do this tonight.” Giles slips Xander a scrap of paper, giving him directions on where to meet up with the team, shortly before midnight.

Leaning against the door, relief flooding his body. Reveling in the sudden silence. Xander holds his hand out to Wil, inviting. Smiling softly when a slim hand is placed trustingly in his. Side by side, they move to the bedroom. Wil blushes slightly when he strips down to his cotton boxers. Grins at the quiet mewl, the begging desperation. Feels a surge of power as he realizes he is in complete control. If he turns his back now, Xander will hold him tight, keep the nightmares away. Nothing more. Comfort only. He spreads his arms slightly, offering himself up, instead. Lets his eyes drink in the sight of the brunette stripping. Aches to be held tight in his safe embrace. Shudders when Xander steps close. Closes his eyes, tilts his head at the first hesitant touch to his face. Leans into the first gentle caress on his lips.

Xander tugs him towards the bed, pushing the boxers off his hips before laying him down flat. Visually imprints his slender body. Wil reaches for him, begging for contact. Xander lays next to him, begins ghosting his hand over the pale flesh. Trailing a finger over sharp cheekbones, down the slender curve of his throat. Rubs across the prominent collarbone. Follows a muscled line down to tiny pink nipples. Flicks his thumb over the hard nubs. Wil arches up into the touch. Panting lightly at the electric bolts flowing from the touch. Xander captures his earlobe with blunt teeth, scraping the tender flesh, suckling. Follows the path his hand made, planting wet kisses down the sweet skin. Pressing his erection into Wil’s thigh, laving first one dusky nipple then the other with his hot tongue.

Trembling faintly embarrassed at the pleading whimpers escaping his throat, begging to be worshiped.

Callused hand continuing its downward exploration; Xander traces the hard lines of muscles on Wil’s abdomen. Tugging on the crisp hairs under his navel. Wil cries out when a thumb brushes across the weeping head of his cock, rubs tiny circles around the slit.

His breath catches, hitches, as a wet tongue trails a fire path down his stomach. Arcs his back as the talented muscle dips in and out of his navel. Thrashes his head at the hot whisper of breath. Wil looks down, feels his heart thump at the expression of love and passion on his lovers’ face. Gives in to the chant in his head.

“Please?” Whispered entreaty.

Watches entranced as wine warm lips open, close, capture, enslave. Falls into silent ecstasy when Xander draws his entire length down his throat, swallowing, stealing his heart, his breath, and his soul.

Drowns as his orgasm crashes over him. Feels his bones melt out of his flesh. Trembles when a blunt finger caresses his anus. Slides in gently, and presses.

Xander laps up the remaining traces of Wil’s orgasm. He flicks open a small bottle, squeezing cool gel into his hand. Pressing his hand between the smooth globes, he probes gently for Wil’s puckered opening. Slides his finger into the greedy hole. Silently thanking his lover for orgasming so quickly, relishing the relaxed state it left him in. rotates his finger in a small circle, seeking out and finding the tiny pleasure center. Slides a second finger in, gently scissoring them while keeping a constant pressure on the bundle of nerves. Feels his heart shatter at the helpless babble pouring from his lover.

“Please…love me…need you…please…love you…need you….” Sends hopeless prayers for a tomorrow.

Slithers up the quivering form, to capture the sweet words with his mouth. Settles between the outstretched thighs, guiding the blunt head of his cock, slipping seamlessly into his tight channel. Sheathing himself completely.

Wil wraps one long leg around Xander’s hips, drawing him in close. Twines his arms around his shoulders, arching up into the tender kiss.

Setting a gentle rhythm, allowing Wil to get used to his presence, teasing thrusts. Breaking the kiss, smiles at the glazed expression in stunning blue eyes. Thrusts harder, faster. Quickly drawing both of their bodies to the edge. Twisting his hips, making contact with his prostate with each drive. Falling headfirst into his release. Curling his hand around Wil’s throbbing shaft, pulling him into the thundering crash. Howls when tight muscles clench around him, milking him.

Tangled bonelessly together, sweat and semen gluing their chests together. Drifting in an exhausted haze. Xander starts when an almost silent sob escapes his lover’s mouth. Confusedly kisses away salty tears.

“Did I hurt you?” whispers gently in Wil’s ear.

“Not yet.” An equally quiet whisper muffled when Wil tucks his head into Xander’s chest.

“I...huh?” he presses tiny kisses to sandy locks.

“I’m not Spike.” The tears flow hotter.

Xander pulls away, sitting up out of reach. Fighting with the molten rage these few words cause.

“First, let me tell you all the ways you are not Spike.” His voice trembles, suppressing the urge to scream. “Let’s start with just plain looks, ok. Spike, bleached and slick. Unrelieved black and white. Sharp contrasts. Wil, natural, soft. Comfortable. Accent? Spike was guttural, cockney. Never got tired of listening to his own voice. Loved him, but God, the guy could bitch like a whole coven of PMS’ing witches. Wil? Again, soft. Cultured. You don’t really talk a lot, but when you do, your words drive straight into my heart, my cock. Attitude? Like crossing the fucking ocean. Spike would not have cried, or puked or just plain felt anything taking down the rogues. Even after the soul, he would have viewed it like taking down a sick animal. Before the soul, he would have danced on their bloody bodies. You cared.” He draws a hand over his face, disgusted with himself. Wil has burrowed deep into the pillows, pulled the blanket tight around his body.

“I didn’t make love to Spike, I made love to Wil. And it was…perfect. It was like finding home, after being lost. And now…now its like a back alley fuck.” Unfolding his legs, gazing down at the stunned blond. “I’m taking a shower. I’ll keep the nightmares away when I’m done.” He disappears into the darkness, leaving Wil alone.

Angel can smell the pair long before they come into sight. Agony, lust, despair, rolling off them like ocean waves. Is slightly grateful they are at the center of the prophecy, and that the hell spawn will be drawn to the right targets. Shame cancels out the gratitude.

“Let’s do this, folks. I have a job to get back to.” Xander prowls around the milling girls, shoulders tight with tension. “Any chance we can fabricate a natural disaster, evacuate the sheep?”

“Got it covered, Xan. Earthquake in 3…2…1…” The small army watches as panicked partiers scatter before the rolling tremors. The large glittering ball dips in the night horizon. Crashing to the ground to splinter into thousands of silver shards. An eerie howl silences the warriors. Stunned, they watch hundreds of demons invade the Square. Wil is the first to launch himself into battle, crying out like a wounded banshee. Long silver blades flashing under the electric lights. Xander moves in to fight at his flank, quickly covered in slime and demon entrails. Willow begins chanting spells, unleashing awesome destruction with muttered words. The slayers fly into battle, calling upon generations of memories to wreak havoc upon the invading demons.

The air is filled with the screams of the dying, the victorious. Snapping bones and tearing flesh. Loud and wet, sharp and brittle. With primal fury, the mortal army, plus one vampire, slowly work their way to the epicenter of the Hellmouth, surrounding the vital keys. Tearing a bloody path.

Chests heaving flesh covered in viscera and sweat, Xander and Wil stand on the Hellmouth. Eyes locked, hands twined. Willow binds their wrists with strips of thin leather straps. Calling upon the benevolent goddess of the realm, she begs for their offering to be accepted. Slices deep gouges in their forearms, allowing fresh, bitter blood to pool at their feet. They shudder as the ground swallows the viscous fluid. The remaining demons shriek as their life forces are sucked back into their own dimensions. The promised bounty sucked from their grasp.

Tumbling in exhausted triumph. Waiting for limbs to solidify again. The victors congratulate each other silently. Another apocalypse beaten down.

Angel melts into the shadows, feeling his part is done.

Giles helps Willow to her feet, brushing stray particles of dirt from her tangled red locks.

Willow pulls Kennedy into a grateful embrace, thanking her goddess for keeping her lover safe.

Andrew wanders tearfully, marking down the names of the fallen slayers, adding them to the list to take home, and place on a wall of honor.

Xander slices the binding ties, pressing a brief kiss against Wil’s lips. Stuffing the leather laces in his pocket, he darts into the darkness, leaving the blond bereft.


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The Spander Files