A Matter of Trust

by
LadyMerlin


The heavy circles of metal rubbed abrasively against the already raw skin of his wrists. Chains even Hercules would be unable to break secured his arms to the rough stone floor. Spike had spent hours trying before giving up in frustration and pain. Now, each small movement flared an almost forgotten pain somewhere in his body into life and brought him back to himself. At some point during his incarceration, and eventual torture, his mind had thankfully slipped away, taking him to a fantasy land of happy memories.

It wasn't the first time he'd used such a strategy to get through an unpleasant situation. And what did that say about him? He couldn't even count the number of times he'd found himself beaten and tortured for information or just someone else’s amusement. Sure, okay, he could be irritating. In his own defence though, some people simply begged to have their buttons pushed. Angel being the perfect example. He'd always enjoyed playing games with Angelus but Angel? He was even more fun. Angel tried so much harder to keep his temper in check and was always worried about what others thought of him. Of course, Spike had always been a survivor and he supposed he always would be. He remembered Angel likening him to a cockroach once. Not particularly flattering as he was far better looking but even he had to admit there was some truth in the observation.

His body had flinched in remembered pain when the leather whip stroked gently, teasingly along his skin. The soft caress of a lover but he knew only too well what would follow. He had steeled himself and suffered through until they had tired of their games and had, finally, left him alone. He shifted slightly, igniting fresh pain in the welts and open wounds across his back but he grinned all the same. He hadn't given in. Not once. And he supposed he should actually thank Angelus and his sick sense of family and fun for that. If he managed to get out of here.

Surely Xander would come for him but a small part of his mind doubted. That was his weakness. He could withstand the physical pain. That was nothing compared to the pain of rejection. The pain of being alone and unwanted. Maybe they did understand after all. With each sharp crack of the whip he was told to stay away from Xander. Each demand that he leave the country was punctuated with a hard blow of fists or metal pipes. He still wasn't entirely sure why they kept insisting he stay away from his boy.

He looked up from his contemplation of his filthy toes when the scrape of stone indicated the door was opening. A packet of blood was thrown in his lap before the door slammed shut once more. He lifted the plastic pouch and studied the sloshing red liquid inside. He was so damn hungry but bitter memories of the Initiative and their tainted blood kept his fangs from dropping. He needed the blood. Badly. He allowed his demon face to the fore and tentatively piercing the plastic he took a small, careful sip. He didn't taste anything unusual and the desperate hunger deep in his belly had him sucking down the rest in record time. He tossed the empty packet away and leaned his back against the stone wall behind him. He closed his eyes, feeling the blood starting to work its magic. Broken bones itched as they began the slow process of healing, still bleeding slashes sluggishly slowed and stopped and some of the smaller wounds healed completely. His relieved sigh turned to a curse when he felt his eyes droop and watched as his arms moved sluggishly. Was drugged after all.


~*~


“I was told you were the best.”

The young man in uniform looked up at the stern, displeased voice. “I'm sorry Sir but the subject displayed an unusual resistance to our methods.”

“It would have been satisfying to watch him suffer because he knew what he had left behind. No matter, the process will still achieve the end result.”

“That's affirmative Sir. The results have been very successful.”

“Good. Good.”

A shapely brunette left her seat in the corner and came to stand before the older man. “Are you sure about this? Once done it can't be undone and I still don't see how this is going to get this Xander in your bed.”

The man laughed and shook his head. “You never look at the bigger picture. The boy will be heartbroken when his lover leaves him and I will be there to console him. From there it will be a simple matter of persuading him into my bed.”

She shrugged at his explanation. “Seems you're going to a lot of trouble for a human. One who is flawed at that.”

“He is so much more than you could ever imagine” the man growled before his good humour returned. “And soon he will be mine.”

She inclined her head respectfully. “That he will.”


~*~


Xander peeked around the corner of the compound sighing in relief when he saw the hallway was empty. He stepped out of the slight protection of the shadows and boldly walked along the row of cells trying to act as if he belonged there. He briefly peeked through each window high up in the doors, stopping abruptly when he spotted a familiar body slumped against the wall of a cell. He quickly opened the door with the borrowed keys attached to his borrowed belt.

He pushed the door almost closed behind him and rushed to his vampire's side. “Spike. Spike,” he hissed, gently shaking Spike's shoulder.

Blue eyes slowly blinked open. “Xander? Wha?”

Xander winced as he took in the visible injuries to the pale skin and the slurred words were concerning as well. Hearing a noise in the hallway, he decided both would need to wait until later. “Shh. We'll talk later,” Xander whispered. “First let's get the hell outta here.”

He unlocked the chains around Spike's wrists and rubbed lightly at the abraded skin underneath while looking around for Spike's clothes. He spotted the black leather duster in a crumpled heap in the corner. The rest of Spike's clothes were underneath but had obviously been cut off and were pretty much useless. Grabbing the duster, Xander wrapped it around Spike and helped him get his arms in the sleeves. “This will have to do for now.”

After helping Spike to his feet, he slung one of the vampire's arms over his shoulder and they staggered their way through the door. The hallway was still empty and they hurried to the exit as quickly as Spike's injuries would allow. He bundled his precious burden into the back of the waiting van. Climbing inside, Xander held the semi conscious Spike protectively in his arms as they made the journey back to council headquarters.

He looked down when Spike stirred and mumbled something. “What was that?”

Spike was looking at him strangely. “You came for me?”

“Well … yeah. Always come for you.”

Xander didn't expect the puzzled look he got in response but then Spike sighed and closed his eyes. “If you say so Harris.”

They spent the rest of the trip in silence and Xander's stomach churned with worry. Maybe Spike took a hard blow to the head which would explain a lot. There was plenty of blood and a warm comfy bed waiting back at HQ and Xander wish the stupid van would hurry up. Just when he thought he couldn't wait any more he saw the familiar trees which lined the long secluded drive leading up to the huge brick edifice. He was up and out the back doors with Spike in his arms as soon as the vehicle came to a halt.

The front door opened and he saw the concerned faces of his friends. They watched quietly as he slipped inside and settled Spike carefully on the plush cushions of the couch. He noticed there was a pitcher of blood with a mug waiting on the table nearby and gave then both a grateful look. “Thanks.”

Buffy knelt next to Xander and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Least we could do. How is he?”

Xander looked over at Spike to see the vampire stirring at the sound of Buffy's voice. “Buffy?”

Buffy gave Xander a questioning look and he nodded in response. “Hey Spike. How ya feeling?”

Xander watched his vampire's blue eyes fill with love and affection as they took in the sight of Buffy kneeling by his side. “Better now that you're here love.”

At the sound of those words, Xander felt his heart crack and another kind of worry began to seep inside.

Buffy spared a quick glance in his direction. The confusion on her face was clear to see. “Uhm. Yeah. What about Xan though?” she asked gently.

Spike lifted an eyebrow and reached out to grasp one of Buffy's hands. “'M grateful for the rescue but I'm happy to be back with my girl.”

Xander heard Willow take in a sharp, shocked breath behind him. He stood on numb legs and shuffled to the door. “Yeah,” he forced out over the lump in his throat, “no problem.”

When he turned to run, he stumbled into Giles, who grasped his arms to keep Xander from falling. “Are you all right?”

“He ...it's like he doesn't remember me … us,” Xander gasped out on painful breaths. His chest felt like bands were compressing his ribs tighter by the second.

Giles rubbed a soothing hand up and down his back. “I'm so sorry Xander. I was afraid something like this would eventually happen. Vampires are such flighty creatures.”

Xander leaned into the soothing embrace and rested his head against the strong shoulder. Hot scalding tears slowly leaked from the corners of his eyes. Eyes which were closed and unable to see the smile of triumph on the face of the man he had always thought he could trust.





2 A Matter of Time


Xander sniffled and lifted his head when he felt a small hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Willow's concerned eyes. “Hey sweetie. It's gonna be okay. You know that don't you? I mean something is obviously wrong but we'll figure it out. You're not alone Xan.”

Xander felt a bit silly for his outburst and felt a blush heat his skin. “I'm sorry,” he mumbled to both Giles and Willow. “You're right. I guess I kinda overreacted.”

“Perfectly understandable under the circumstances,” Giles said rubbing Xander's arm.

Willow smiled and took one of his hands in her own. “You've been under a lot of pressure these last few weeks. I know how worried you were when Spike went missing and all the planing to get him back and not knowing what was happening.”

Xander shook his head. “I know. I just feel a little...silly. And it was so hard to see him looking at her that way.”

“It's not silly,” Willow sympathised while giving his hand a gentle squeeze of support. “I'll be right there with you. Something isn't right here so let's go back in there and figure out what it is, okay? Spike may not realise it right now but he needs you Xan.”

“Yeah,” Xander said allowing Willow to tug him along after her by the hand she still held.

Xander noticed Buffy had given Spike some blood, set the broken bones and bandaged some of the larger wounds. Part of him was grateful for her help and another larger part, which he desperately wanted to pretend didn't exist, wanted to rip her heart out for touching what was his. Xander took a deep breath and let go of his jealousy. He needed to be clear-headed. As usual Willow was right and Spike needed him and his help.

Willow crouched next to Buffy on the floor in front of the couch while Giles and Xander stood awkwardly watching.

“Spike,” Willow said gently, getting his attention. “Do you know where you are?”

Spike's brow furrowed while he considered the question. “Now that you mention it. Don't exactly recognise the place.”

“Do you remember what happened? Where you were?”

Blue eyes clouded with confusion. “I-I...” Spike's fingers curled into tight fists on his knees.

Xander wanted nothing more than to rush over and grab the distressed vampire in his arms. Gritting his teeth he stayed put, his own fingers curling against his palms. He jumped slightly when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Giles watching him and waved away the concern. Giles nodded and tightened his hand briefly.

“Hey,” Willow said softly. “It's okay. We'll help.”

Spike sighed and looked around the room at the familiar faces. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Just … getting a bit sick of people messin' with me head.”

They all smiled a little at the small attempt at humour.

“I know you don't really like magic but I'd like to do a spell. I really think it will help. And it's not so much a spell on you but around you. It will show me if someone else has used any magic on you.”

Spike regarded Willow carefully. “You've done this before?”

Giles cleared his throat. “Are you sure this is best course of action? If this is the result of a spell it could possibly make things worse.”

Xander's heart thudded against his ribs. “What?! Could it? Willow?”

“No!” Willow squeaked. She looked between Xander, Spike and Giles. She set her sights on Spike. “I've done this lots of times. I really do think it will help.” Then she turned to Xander who had inched his way nearer the couch and was hovering protectively. “Magic is what it is Xan. There is always a potential for something going wrong but in this case I think it's safe. The spell I was planning on using won't actually effect Spike but the air around him.” She twisted to look at Giles. “You know the spell I'm going to use. It's perfectly harmless and will have no effect on any magic that may have already been cast.”

Giles shifted from side to side. “Of-of course. I was thinking of an entirely different spell. I didn't mean to cause alarm.”

“What will this spell do?” Spike asked.

“If someone has used magic on or near you it will have left a residue or signature,” Willow explained.

Xander thought it sounded safe and simple enough. “So kinda like dusting for fingerprints?”

“Sorta," Willow agreed. “So what do you say? Spike?”

Spike looked over at Buffy who smiled in support. Xander grinned when blue eyes looked at him questioningly. “We'll be right here.”

Spike squirmed a bit when he looked at the watcher and his eyes quickly looked away and settled back on the witch. “Right. Well. Lets get it over with then.”

“Great! I'll be right back. I've got all the ingredients I need in my room.”

Willow reappeared and set out a few bags and a bowl with a small bent stick resting inside on the low table next to the empty pitcher of blood. She opened each bag and sprinkled a small amount of coloured powders, herbs, and flower petals in the bowl before using the stick to stir it all.

“Xan? Buffy?” Willow pointed to the space on either side of the table. “If you guys stand here and here and Spike? You just stay there okay?”

Willow lifted the bowl and sat on the edge of the low table so she was facing the couch. She gave Spike what she hoped was a reassuring smile as she waited for Buffy and Xander to get into position. Xander noticed Giles wasn't in the room and vaguely wondered where he could have gone. But then Willow started chanting and he turned back to watch. Her eyes were closed and she held the bowl aloft between her hands. “Goddess within. Goddess without. Guide me to my goal. Soothe my spirit. Allow me to see. Strengthen my resolve. As I wish it, so mote it be.”

Willow lowered the bowl and opened her eyes. She sucked in a startled breath which immediately had Xander concerned. “What is it?”

“Sorry. I was just surprised. I didn't expect it to be so obvious.”

“So whoever took me and did,” Spike paused to gesture at his still healing body, “all this used magic too.”

Willow nodded and leaned forward at the look of annoyance on Spike's face. “But I can fix it. It looks like some fairly straightforward spell work here and I think a general cleansing and reversal spell will work.”

“How soon?”

“The stars are in the proper alignment tonight for this kind of thing so as soon as I can get back from collecting the supplies I need.”

“Willow,” Xander's voice stopped her as she was almost out the door. “Thanks.”

Her eyes noticeably softened in understanding of what wasn't being said. “You're welcome.”


~*~*~*~*~


Willow was able to successfully reverse the spell. It proved to be as simple as she claimed and was actually rather anti climactic. Unfortunately Spike still had no idea of what happened or who had captured him and why. Xander couldn't bring himself to care all that much. He was just happy to have his vampire safe and back where he belonged. It was also nice watching Spike trying to make up for all the longing looks he'd given to Buffy. Xander had forgiven him right away but decided to keep that bit of information to himself for now. Who knew Spike could be so attentive?

Xander frowned at the small whimpers coming from the direction of the bedroom. He set down the box of cereal in his hand when the sounds got louder. When the first shouted 'No' came to his ears, he was halfway across the room before the sound faded. Opening the door he stepped into the darkened room and quickly made his way to the bed and the thrashing figure tangled in the sheets and blanket.

He gently grasped a pale shoulder. “Spike. Hey Spike. Just a bad dream. C'mon now. It's okay.”

Spike jerked under his hand and sat up quickly. Eyes wide with alarm, he tried to take in the whole room at once. Spike's body was strung tight and he was panting. Xander slowly reached out and ran a soothing hand over the tense muscles of Spike's back.

“You awake now?”

Spike looked at Xander as if he only just noticed he was in the room. Spike closed his eyes and leaned his head on Xander's chest.

“God Xan,” Spike said, his voice quiet and shaky. His body trembled in Xander's arms.

“Sounded like one hell of a nightmare. You wanna talk about it?”

Xander tried to quell his disappointment when Spike shook his head. “Are you sure?”

“Can't rightly remember. 'T's all foggy. Just bits 'n pieces.”

“Do you think it was about the people who took you?”

“Yeah,” Spike said, pulling away to look up. “Wish I knew what they wanted or who the hell they were.”

“Do you suppose since you're sorta remembering in your dreams, there's a way to tap into them so we can find out what happened?”

Spike jerked back abruptly and Xander almost laughed at the look of surprise on Spike's face. “Bloody hell! Soddin' obvious isn't it? You. Are. A genius love.” Spike leaned up and kissed Xander soundly on the lips. “Now go away so I can get my sleep.”

Xander laughed as he left the room to go back to his breakfast. “Stupid, grumpy vampire,” he grumbled but there was no real anger in his voice.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander watched Spike as he paced nervously around the head watcher's office.

“I'm not entirely sure this is wise.”

“But Giles,” Xander objected his attention back on the watcher. “While whoever did this is still out there Spike could be in danger. What if they decide to come after him again. Or one of us instead. We have a way of finding out who they are and what they want. Shouldn't we take the opportunity to find out?”

“While I understand your concerns Xander, I have further concerns regarding Spike himself.”

“How so?”

Spike finally sat in the other chair but his leg kept jiggling to a rhythm only Spike could hear. “Yeah, how so?” Spike asked quietly.

Xander looked over in surprise at the soft voice. He was so used to hearing Spike boasting and full of confidence, the soft timid sound had him second guessing his hearing.

“Well,” Giles began placing his folded hands on the top of the desk. “This whole ordeal has been understandably difficult and I'm worried about moving forward too quickly. Spike is already suffering nightmares and I don't see how meddling in things we don't understand could possibly help. I fear we could make the situation worse. Now I'm not saying we should give up on the idea entirely but I feel it would be prudent to get some qualified advice before we go ahead.”

“I dunno Giles,” Xander said unconvinced. “I still think it might be better to find out who is behind all this as soon as possible.”

“And what do you think Spike?” Giles asked, fixing the vampire with an unwavering gaze.

Spike wiggled a bit in his chair and cast his eyes down to the floor. “'Spose yer right,” he mumbled finally.

“Spike are you su-”

“Xander,” Giles interrupted. “Spike has made his decision and I hardly think badgering him will help. Do you?”

Xander felt a flush of shame creep over his skin. “You're right.”

Giles nodded. “I'll make some enquiries and we'll get all this sorted soon. Try not to worry.”

Xander led a subdued Spike back to their rooms where they settled in front of the television. The movie did little to hold their attention.

“What's wrong?” Spike asked, breaking the silence.

“Do you really think we should wait?”

“Nope.”

“But you said-”

“Know what I said and 'spose I meant it at the time.”

“But now?”

“But now?” Spike repeated. “Now we research.”

“Really?!” Xander gasped in surprise.

Spike grinned. “No we get Willow to do it.”

“Had me worried there for a minute.”

They both smiled and snuggled together to watch the rest of the film.


~*~*~*~*~


Giles stood before the brunette with his foot busy tapping in annoyance. “You told me the process couldn't be undone.”

“It can't,” she smiled back in response. “The spell itself can't be reversed but it can be circumvented so it is almost like it had never been cast at all.”

“That is outrageous. That is not what I paid your employer an exorbitant amount of money for! Had I wanted second rate amateur magic, I would have asked ...asked Willow to do it.”

Giles spun when he heard laughter coming from behind him. “Now, now Ripper. Temper temper."

“Ethan! You!”

“Yes my dear boy,” Ethan replied with a smile. “It has been far too long. Thank you Eve. You may go.”

Giles waited for the woman to leave before he rounded on Ethan in all his fury. “You will pay for this.”

“Now is that any way to talk to an old friend... lover?”

“I will not stand for this,” Giles barely retrained himself from stamping his foot like a small child.

“Oh but you will. Unless of course you would like me to inform the children of your … shall we say indiscretions?”

“They would never believe you,” Giles stated with a confidence he didn't entirely feel.

“Perhaps not but the vampire would know. It will only be a matter of time before he remembers everything and I think he could persuade his special friend of the truth. What would they think of you? What would the vampire do to you? You tried to take what was his. A Master vampire. Angry? No. Furious beyond belief. They don't take kindly to people touching what's theirs you know.”

Giles knew he was right. The quaking of his body changing from a reaction of anger to one of fear. “What do you want? What will your silence cost me?”

“Why you of course,” Ethan said with a leer. “Did you really think I would stand idly by while you took that young man into your bed? Master vampires aren't the only ones who can be very possessive of their property. Now strip and kneel before me.”





A Matter Closed


Spike licked at the beads of sweat coating skin stretched taut, savouring the taste of his boy. He couldn't understand how he could possibly forget this taste or the feel of Xander clenched tight around his cock. The heat surrounding him when he slid inside was nearly his undoing and he panted heavily through his mouth while trying to regain his control. Spike slid fractionally deeper and relished the moan of pleasure and ripple of muscle under his hands. Running his hands over the strong arched back, Spike greedily admired the tanned expanse which led to the round, perfect globes. He watched enthralled as his pale cock slid in and out of the small, perfect hole. His eyes followed the tantalising curve up to the curls at the nape of Xander's neck which proved irresistible and Spike reached up a hand to grasp as he thrust. He leaned over and licked and nibbled. Xander moaned and bared his neck in invitation. Sinking his fangs in deep, Spike sipped greedily as their orgasms crashed through them. Waves of pleasure washed over them as their cries mingled together and hands clasped tightly.

Feeling sated and lazy Spike cuddled up to Xander and snuffled at the back of his neck.They lay together so entwined it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began. Despite Xander's larger bulk, Spike managed to wrap himself tightly around him and help him close. Leaning slightly forward, he sniffed gently at the claiming mark on Xander's neck. His own scent mixed with Xander's caressed his senses. But rather than soothing his demon and soul, it only served to remind him of things almost lost forever. Spike buried his face in Xander's neck trying to muffle the small sobs being painfully wrenched from deep inside. He felt Xander stiffen in his arms and held him tighter.

“Hey,” Xander said turning in the tight embrace. “What is it? What's wrong?”

Spike felt a wash of shame. “I almost lost this.”

“But you didn't. I'm here.”

Spike nodded. “I know but I-” He stopped and turned to face the wall.

Xander slid over behind the vampire and carefully placed a hand on one pale arm. “But what? C'mon Spike. Talk to me... please?”

“I know who it was. Had the bastard in my hands and I... I couldn't. Shouldn't care Xan. He tried to take what's mine.”

“You mean? You remember what happened?”

Spike closed his eyes and nodded. He remembered the feeling of his demon tearing at the fragile fabric of his soul trying to demand retribution. “Should've killed 'em for what he did. Sorry excuse for a vampire I am.”

“Why didn't you?”

Spike snorted. “'T's complicated. People dependin' on him an' all. Lookin' up to him. I dunno.”

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” Xander shrugged and gave him a crooked little grin when Spike looked over his shoulder at him with one eyebrow raised in disbelief. “Star Trek Wrath of Khan.”

“Don't deserve you.”

“Not about deserving or not deserving. Spike I want you to listen to me. If this guy is as important to people as you say then you did the right thing.” Xander pulled Spike's plaint form into his arms. “You threatened him though... right?”

Spike chuckled quietly, “Yeah. Yeah I did.”

Xander snuggled happily and placed a kiss to Spike's bare shoulder. “Then it doesn't matter. It's over and I love you.”

“You wanna get away from here for a while?”

“Sounds good. I was getting a bit bored here anyway. You can show me the world.”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander knocked on the head watcher's door and waited patiently for permission to enter. He grasped the knob and turned as soon as he heard the muffled 'enter'.

“Xander,” Giles smiled happily. “How good to see you. Have a seat. Can I have Deirdre get you anything.”

Xander prowled confidently across the room, placed both palms on the large desk and leaned forward. “This isn't a social call.”

Giles stiffened in his chair. “What's wrong?”

Xander loomed over the man in the chair and kept his voice low. “Oh, I think you know why I'm here. No! No talking,” Xander scolded when Giles opened his mouth. “I want you to listen to me. You stay away from Spike and me. You touch him, you even look at him and I will make you sorry.”

“Xander,” Giles said smoothly. “I've only had your best interests in mind. Spike isn't good for you and you shouldn't believe the things he says.”

“Spike didn't actually tell me anything but I noticed you never actually denied anything.”

“Nevertheless, I highly doubt you would carry through with such a ridiculous threat.”

Xander laughed and shook his head. “Underestimating me as usual G-man. Do yourself a favour... don't. I'm serious.” He leaned closer before pushing off the desk and striding to the door.

Giles stood and came around from behind his desk. “Xander please.”

Xander paused at the door and pinned Giles with a gaze filled with more than a hint of green. “You remember what I said or I might have to pay a visit to your old friend Ethan.” Giles paled and stepped back. “And by the way, Spike and I will be taking an extended vacation... with pay.”

Xander smiled as he slammed the office door behind him, headed down the stairs and out the front door. He started whistling happily with a spring in his step as he crossed the manicured lawn and headed home to finish packing.





The End