Musical Wars


Fun and Games

As soon as they had reached the lair, Xander felt Spike’s arms wrap around him, nimble fingers undoing each button even as a mouth nibbled the claim mark.  Xander let himself lean back into the embrace and believe that he had found a place to belong. 

“Trust me?” Spike asked even as the vampire stripped the shirt and began work on the pants.

“Always,” Xander agreed as he felt himself moved toward the end of the bed.  Spike nipped his scar, and for one moment, he did actually forget Luther and Gunn, of course he also forgot to breathe and lost all of 10th grade there for a minute too, but it was a definite improvement over remembering.  He felt his jeans pulled down pulled down to his ankles, and then hands positioned him on his knees at the end of the bed before disposing of the jeans all together. 

“Stay,” Spike whispered and Xander knelt there, watching as Spike opened the cabinet and retrieved the leather restraints.  The vampire leapt up on the bed and hooked the leather lead to the ceiling before dropping the wrist cuffs so that they dangled slightly above his head.  Xander shivered as he realized what Spike planned.  Spike knelt in front of him, pulling up his hands and locking his wrists into the leather straps before standing again and shortening the lead so that his hands were held comfortably above his head.  Xander could feel himself breathing harder as he knelt with his feet off the bed and his knees supporting his weight as he pulled at the restraints.  Spike walked to the edge of the bed and stepped down, just watching.

“Ya done yet?” Spike asked when he had finally decided that the straps weren’t going to pull loose.  Of course he could stand up and undo the fastenings from the ceiling, but he doubted he’d have time before Spike stopped him.  So he simply waited, his arms flexing slightly against the leash.  “Stay,” Spike ordered again before leaving the room.  Xander had just enough time to worry about how stupid he looked when Spike reappeared carrying a box.

“Goin’ to make you forget,” Spike promised as he opened the box, but Xander couldn’t see the contents.  When Spike reappeared, he saw the black fabric and his eyes went wide.  He trusted Spike with his life; he trusted Spike with his friends’ lives, but there was something primal in his brain that railed against the thought of being blindfolded.  Spike must have heard his heart because a gentle hand ran down his side and around to his stomach.

“Goin’ to make you forget,” Spike repeated as he teased a nipple, and Xander felt himself buck, humping the air and yes, he found himself right back to the thought that he had to look like a fool.  “Oi, you’re thinkin’ too much.”  The black fabric closed in over his eyes before he had a chance to register a complaint.

“Hey, not so okay with the whole blindfold thing.”

“Do ya trust me?” asked that sexy, thick voice, and Xander had to answer with a slightly breathy “yes.”

“Who do ya belong to, pet?” came next, and Xander could hardly believe himself when he whispered, “you.”

“Time to let me make the pain go away,” Spike said, and Xander found himself willing to agree to anything when a talented hand reached down and fondled his balls, one at a time, even as a single slick finger slipped inside and firmly pressed his happy button.  Xander humped the air again, and this time he didn’t care how foolish he looked.  Spike’s fingers repeated the maneuver three or four times before disappearing, and he had to fight an urge to mewl in protest. 

The next thing he felt was cool soft lengths of material rubbing over his back.  When the sensation moved to his chest, Xander could smell the leather and feel the soft texture as strands slipped across his nipples.  He hadn’t yet figured it out when the material disappeared and suddenly his back tingled and heated, and then it became abundantly clear what Spike held.  The whip fell again, the soft strands momentarily stinging before the sensation reduced again to the same tingle and heat.  Xander couldn’t resist thrusting his hips into thin air as the third strike hit, this time warming his butt and falling hard enough to leave him gasping.  The fourth strike hit the back of his thighs, and Xander swallowed a scream, trying to gain some control.

“Go on, then, pet.  Let it out,” Spike said softly, but his tone belied the strength of the fifth strike, a sensation something like coolness immediately followed by warmth that engulfed his right side.  A small sob slipped out, but Xander found himself wishing he could beg for more even while feeling foolish for enjoying such pain.  He could hear Spike walk away, and he bit his tongue to avoid the pleading words that struggled to come out of his mouth.

“Pet, tell me what you need,” Spike voice appeared in his ear.

“I…” Words failed him as he found himself unable to say it.

“Ya want to let go?”  Spike asked, and he could only nod.  “It’s okay to like it, pet.”  Xander heard the words, but he couldn’t get over the thought of what Gunn would say. He knew Gunn couldn’t be part of his life any more, but the thought of the man’s disapproval wrung a small sob from his throat.  “Let go, pet,” Spike counseled, but he fought to slow his breathing and bring his words back under control before he let them fall out into the world.  He heard Spike sigh and a cool hand traced the pattern of heat on his back.

“Sometimes forget just how young ya are.  Don’t really know how to let go, do ya?”  Xander didn’t answer, not really sure what qualified as an answer and unable to judge Spike’s mood with the blindfold in place.  Suddenly lips met lips, and Xander opened to Spike’s exploration, but before he could begin to truly enjoy the contact, Spike’s lips disappeared and something cold and cylindrical slipped into his mouth, pulling his lips back and pinning his tongue to beneath it’s cool, smooth surface.  Xander tried to push it out, but he could feel the strap lock behind his head.  He tried to curse, but his protests came out as moans and grunts without the use of tongue or lips. 

The soft leather of Spike’s whip now returned, the material teasing his cock.  For a moment, the whip stopped and he thrust against it, the leather strands falling around his cock like gentle fingers, and he could feel his need mounting.  The whip moved, and before he had a chance to even stop thrusting toward it, a blow fell on his calves.  Xander screamed into the gag, free to beg for more now that the intruding plastic distorted his words beyond meaning.  The warmth spread upwards, joining the now fading warm from his thighs, and suddenly a flurry of strikes hit his back, the pain edging toward the unhappy side before settling down into a definite happy sort of tingly pain.  And since when did pain have a happy side? 

The answer was driven from his mind, along with everything else when the strikes moved to the front.  The first hit took him just under the rib cage, and Xander screamed again when the fire encompassed the softer skin of his stomach.  The next two hits were softer, each taking in his chest and a nipple.  Xander now squirmed as he tried to push forward into the contact.  He babbled fiercely, but the bit in his mouth destroyed the words, leaving him free to say whatever he wanted, no censure required. 

When the whip strikes stopped, Xander complained into the gag, causing a series of grunts which ended when strong arms circled him from behind and a naked body slipped between the legs that stuck out past the end of the bed, forcing his knees apart.  The hands slipped down and pressed against the inside of the thigh so that he spread even farther, until his inner thigh muscles complained and his arms stretched tight above him.

A strong, slick finger slipped up into him, and he let his arms carry his weight as he all but collapsed under the force of the desire building in him.  A second finger joined the first, and now the two fingers twisted in unison, stretching him quickly enough to cause tremors of pain up his back, but still definitely on the good end of that newly found scale.  Just as the third finger joined the other two, sharp fangs slipped into his hip, bringing two points of fire.  Helpless to do anything other than scream nonsense and writhe, he screamed nonsense and writhed with everything he had.  Once Spike pulled out, he could feel the warm trail of a drop of blood slither down his skin before a tongue pursued the refugee and then laved the wound. 

The fingers pulled out and in the next heartbeat, he felt Spike slide in, arms around his waist pulling him back as the vampire stood behind him.  He felt the familiar sensation of stretching and pulling before he adjusted to Spike’s size, and then each thrust came with the tingling of a fingernail running over skin.  His thigh, his chest his stomach, he never knew where, he only knew that the pleasure of feeling Spike filling him, pushing against his prostrate and possessing him would be countered with the tingling pain of these scratches as he hung, helpless to do anything other than make impotent fists as Spike pounded into him. 

He could feel his whole body alive, every skin cell announcing its presence and warmed by the stimulation, and he yelled, cursed, begged, whined, and demanded in words that the bit broke and turned into animalistic grunts.  Spike sped up now, the scratches replaced by a bruising hard grip on his hips, holding him in place as Spike thrust harder and harder.  Finally, a hand reached around and grasped Xander’s cock just below the head and all movement stopped. 

Willing to do anything to continue this moment where nothing existed except need and passion, Xander thrust forward and then pulled back.  Of course, in pulling back, he impaled himself on the hard, motionless cock behind him.  He again forced himself forward into the hand and then back onto the cock.  He sped up, slamming his body as hard as he could forward and then back until he felt his muscles start trembling, announcing the beginnings of release, and then he felt Spike take over again, hard strokes that pushed him into Spike’s fist over and over until he felt Spike’s release just at the vampire fiercely whispered “Mine” in his ear and plunged fangs into his claim mark, triggering his own release as he felt his cock twitch in Spike hand several times, the pleasure overwhelming everything as he hung limp.

He could feel Spike slip free of his body about the time he pulled out of his neck.  Xander had to admit that Spike had the power to rearrange the world because Xander didn’t think he could even care about apocalypses or Girl Scouts as thoroughly sated as he felt.  Spike lazily licked his claim mark, and he could feel the corresponding tremors go through his body.  Hands tangled with his hair before releasing the gag.

“So, pet, does the club have sewer access?”

“Huh?”  He stretched his lips, grateful that Spike had taken that out.

“The club, ya know, that place where ya use to work, they have sewer access?”

“Don’t really know, why?”

“Thought I’d stop by there and pick up my music,” Spike calmly announced.

“Uh, well…um,” Xander froze.

“Articulate as ever, pet.  Where’d ya leave them?”

“How could you…”

“Oi, ya pressed so tight against me on that motorcycle that I could feel the CD’s even through the jeans.  So, where they at?  Locker?  T’s office?  Better not be with Carlos ‘cause I already cut that wanker slack once.”  Xander thought about asking Spike to take off the blindfold so that he could watch for any homicidal activity, but then he decided he really didn’t want to see his imminent death.

“I gave them to Angel,” he admitted, and the hands that had been roaming over his body froze.

“Oi, you bloody well took that joke about 50,000 leagues to bloody far, ya pillock.”  Spike complained loudly, but the hands resumed their aimless groping, so Xander assumed he wasn’t going to die soon.  “So, ya like the practical jokes?”  Spike hands disappeared, and Xander found himself increasingly worried.

“Spike?” he called without receiving a response.  “It was before we had the …uh….talk about Angel and all,” he defended himself.

“Just remember, ya started this, and you’re makin’ me go to the pouf to get my music back,” Spike said in a slightly scary voice, but the hands that now put something around his waist moved gently. 

“What ya doing?” he asked as he felt the thick material around his waist tighten.

“Gettin’ even,” Spike amicably responded.  He felt cuffs close around his ankles and he could hear some ominous clinking.  He tried to close his legs, not that it would make him any less vulnerable, but it might make him feel less vulnerable.  Strong hands stopped him.  “You’re not goin’ anywhere.”

“Okay, I know I went too far.”  Xander went to stand and release the leash from the ceiling only to find that he couldn’t straighten his legs since some sort of chain connected the ankle cuff to the material at his waist.  Oh shit.  “Spike?” he called hesitantly.

“Wot?  Don’t trust me?” came an amused voice, and Xander just knew that he was going to pay for trying to give Spike a reason to talk to Angel and Angel a chance to talk to Spike without feeling a need to threaten him.  Served him right for getting into a family dispute he thought to himself as hands returned and pushed his knees apart again. 

Xander didn’t fight as Spike arranged him and something slick touched his hole.  He thought Spike was going for round two when the pressure increased until something rigid slipped in and settled with a pop.  He could feel himself stretched, and he could also feel the pressure on his prostate when he moved.  Hands now worked at the front of the waistband and he could feel lengths of something dangling over his genitals before being pulled through his legs and into his crotch.  The tightness irritated him, but didn’t really bother him too much, but it did push the object in his ass farther in, making Xander Jr. struggle to respond even though it was physically impossible for him to react this quickly. Spike worked at the back of the waistband, and Xander suddenly had a pretty good idea what the vampire had done.  He experimentally pushed, straining to get rid of the object lodged inside him and, sure enough, the pressure on his crotch increased, but the objected couldn’t move much at all.

“Isn’t this taking it a little far?” Xander asked as he realized how helpless he was, hobbled, hands secured, a butt plug up inside him and some sort of harness holding it in.  And of course the blindfold, which he found more annoying than all the rest combined. 

“Givin’ my music to my soddin’ sire was going a little far; this is justice,” Spike commented.  Xander opened his mouth to complain again, but the bit slid back into his mouth, and he struggled to push it out before Spike could secure it.  Of course he lost.

“Sewer’s a handy thing, pet.  I’ll go see the pouf, then drop by Ajani’s and see how things are going. Need to make sure he knows I won’t challenge him.”  Spike fell silent for a moment, and Xander couldn’t do anything except tilt his head in the direction he thought Spike stood.  “Havin’ to get that wanker out of there made things a little tense.  Having an older master make demands so quick, it’ll make him think I plan to ask for more.  Might take him a little ‘takin’ over the nest’ gift to show him I’m not looking for anythin’ from him.”  Xander groaned at the thought of being tied up for that long, so he could only hope that Spike was teasing.  Not that he could do anything other than hope of course. 

“Course, don’t want ya to get bored, pet.  Saved this back last time I found your hidin’ place.”  He could hear the familiar sound of the stereo opening and closing before the loud strains of Dead Kennedys assaulted his ears.  If he hadn’t been gagged, he might have told Spike that didn’t actually mind this particular CD, making it useless as torture. Either way, he didn’t have the choice now as he explored the surface of the gag with the limited movement of his tongue.

“One more surprise, pet,” Spike whispered in his ear and he couldn’t help but jump, which drove the plug farther into his prostate, which caused Xander Jr. to struggle to a sort of quarter mast.  He groaned; his only hope of surviving was to keep still so his prostate didn’t get stimulated.  He had almost forgotten Spike’s words when he felt a hand between his legs and suddenly the plug began to vibrate sending waves of pleasure through his body.  Xander slapped his legs closed as he tried to deepen the sensation, pulling against the restraints and moaning loudly around the gag.  Spike stood with a hand on his lower back for several minutes before the hand delivered one last sharp slap to his butt.

“Oh yeah, don’t tease the master, pet.  I’ve had 120 years to develop tortures.”  Xander could barely even register the words as he squirmed and squeezed his inner muscles in an effort to get more stimulation.  “Have fun,” the vampire laughed as the sound of the hallway door opening and closing told Xander that he was on his own.

By the time he heard the door open again, Xander was beyond all thought.  He had tried pulling his legs up and rubbing against himself, but he couldn’t get the right angle or enough pressure, so he had eventually given up.  It took longer for him to give up trying to control the urge to move, but by the time the door came open, he twisted and squirmed and thrust and didn’t care how it looked.  Almost instantly, he felt a hand at his cock, and he thrust forward wildly even as he felt a hand push the plug up into his body.  He slammed himself forward just twice before he came harder than he ever had in his life.

By the time he had gathered enough brain cells to really pay attention to his surroundings, he lay in a hot bath with Spike washing him.  He couldn’t concentrate enough to form words as the vampire picked him up and dried him before carrying him to bed.  He didn’t even really remember falling asleep.  He only knew he had fallen asleep when he started drifting back up into consciousness feeling incredibly relaxed.  He felt as if he had overslept and Spike was already awake, a hand wandering over his curled body.  Xander lay on his side, and he felt Spike press up behind him, a strong arm curling around his waist.

He sighed as he felt a hand run through his hair before smoothing it away from his face.  Then Spike reached down and pulled his top leg up so the vampire could slip between his legs even as they lay on their sides spooning.  He hadn’t realized that Spike had somehow managed to prepare him already until he felt Spike’s cock slip into him slowly.  Once in, Spike waited a moment before slowly pulling out until only the head remained within in him.  Despite the soreness, Xander felt Spike’s fullness rubbing along his prostate and a shiver of pleasure rolled through him.

He tried to thrust back, but a strong hand held him as Spike slowly moved in and out in a steady rhythm.

“You’re killing me,” Xander gasped as Spike rolled his hips and slid in again slowly.

“Ya don’t smell like your suffering.”  Spike didn’t vary his unhurried pace.  Xander grabbed Spike’s hand from his waist and tangled his own fingers with Spike’s.  He didn’t know what had happened the previous evening, but this slow, soft approach certainly surprised him.  He shuddered again as Spike pushed into him and started two sharp fangs over the claim mark.

“Suffered last night,” Xander half-heartedly complained.  Even though he said the words, he knew that last night had been many things and suffering had not even entered the equation.  In fact the equation seemed to be something along the lines of bondage plus sexy vampire multiplied by sexual frustration equals nearly earth-shattering and coma inducing orgasm.

“Oi, didn’t think ya minded.  Fact, thought I might stage a repeat performance some time.” Xander groaned when Xander Jr. betrayed him by dripping at the very thought.  Damn traitor.  Spike just laughed and continued his slow movements.  Spike’s hand slipped free of Xander’s embrace as Spike reached down to take pity by grabbing Xander’s cock as he speeded up.  The two of them came at nearly the same time, and Xander noticed that Spike didn’t even bite him.  Oh yeah, something’s wrong with his vamp, he thought.  Ajani didn’t have the power to disturb Spike so much, so he made his best guess.

“So, what exactly did Angel say that caused this whole reaction?” Xander asked once he could breathe again.

“The pouf has nothin’ to do with it.” 

“You’re lying, vampire mine.”  Xander rolled over onto his back, wincing slightly at the soreness he discovered.

“‘M evil, pet.  Supposed to lie.”

“You’re about as evil as…” Xander caught the expression on Spike’s face and quickly edited his statement.  “As a tiger.  A big man-eating tiger that rips people’s throats out.”

“Bloody right,” Spike agreed, his expression quickly becoming satisfied.

“Which is still not evil.  Dangerous, not evil,” Xander pointed out, but Spike only glared. “And let’s stick to the subject, namely, what Angel said.”  Spike lay quietly beside him for several minutes.

“He tried to take ya, pet.” Spike finally sighed.

“No he didn’t,” Xander began and then he remembered the dark vampire stepping into his personal space, staring him down.  “Um, okay, maybe he did.”

“Ya didn’t know?” Spike turned gold eyes to him, and he couldn’t avoid hearing the disbelief in Spike’s voice.

“I really didn’t; I thought he was being an ass, that’s all.”

“Bloody hell.”  He waited for Spike to continue, but the vampire simply reached out and pulled him close so that he now lay on his stomach, half on and half off Spike.  Spike’s arms held him tight, so he settled down and wiggled his way to a comfortable position.

“Ya keep that up, and we’ll start up again,” Spike promised with amusement.

“Hey, human here.  You start up again and death by fabulous sex is a very real possibility.  My cock is sore, my backside is sore, and I’m a teenage male complaining that he doesn’t want more sex right now, so an apocalypse must be coming.  And stop changing the subject. What’s up with you and Angel?”

“He told me he tried to take ya.  Told me he told ya to leave me.”

“Oh wow, that couldn’t have been a pleasant conversation.  He does still have all his body parts attached in correct order, right?”

“Oi, not goin’ to dust my sire, that’s Peaches’ style.  ‘Sides, he said that ya wouldn’t budge.  Said ya stayed loyal to me even when he called on the demon in ya.” Spike’s voice sounded strange.
“Okay, Spike, I know I can be a little slow, but why in the world would you ever think I might go to the broody Neanderthal when I want you?”

“He’s my sire, pet.”

“Yeah, covered that, but I’m obviously missing a couple of points because when I try to connect the dots into a picture, I’m coming up with abstract art.”  He could feel Spike’s chest rise and fall as the vampire sighed.

“He’s older and stronger, luv.  A vampire or even a vampire pet should always go to the stronger master.”

Xander couldn’t resist the urge to snort.  “Yeah, right.  Strong in that Cordelia can whip him into place or strong in the whole personality split thing or strong in terms of being jealous of you?  I’m not seeing the whole ‘he’s stronger’ part of this conversation.”

“Jealous!?”  Xander gasped when the arms tightened a little too much and the pressure instantly lessened.  “What’d the tosser say to ya, pet?”

“He said that he didn’t like the fact that after you were turned, you still managed to try and create something where he just went around destroying.”

“Wanker pointed out my faults often enough.  He’d wait ‘til I’d found something I might like, then he’d take it away, laughin’ and callin’ me weak.”  Xander could hear the emotion in the tense voice and heavy accent.

“Angelus may have thought that, but Angel…Angel’s jealous that you control the demon better than he could.  That makes you the stronger person… or demon in this case.”

“He said that?”  Xander lifted his head and looked into Spike’s shocked eyes.

“Yep.  It’s why I gave him the CD’s, so you two would have to talk.”

“Wanker,” Spike complained, but he wasn’t sure whether the insult was meant for him or Angel.   The arms tightened again and Spike possessively declared, “Mine.”  Xander didn’t even have to consider the answer.

“Yours,” he agreed as he lowered his head back to the muscled chest.  “However ‘yours’ has to go to the bathroom.”  He felt the chest rise and fall in another sigh.

“Bloody inconvenient human bodies,” Spike groused even as strong arms released him.  Xander laughed and then headed to the bathroom.  He was brushing his teeth when the unmistakable sound of a trumpet and drums filled the lair.  He finished quickly and went into the main room where Spike had already dressed. 

“New CD?” Xander asked with a nod toward the stereo shelf.  He had to admit he liked the complex notes and the way that first one instrument and then another took main stage. 

“Miles Davis,” Spike agreed.  “Must be one a Angel’s; found it in the pile of CD’s he returned, and I’m not givin’ it back.”

“Pretty good,” Xander commented.

“Heard him in New York in the fifties or sixties, always did like him.  Now get a move on, pet.  We need to get goin’.”  Spike finished lacing up his boots and turned to securing various weapons in his clothes and boots.

“Helping Ajani take down another master?”  Xander asked as he got into the armoire and pulled out clothes for the day.

“Not this time.  We’re going to see Peaches.”  That stopped him in the middle of pulling on his pants, one leg in and one leg raised in the air.  Spike’s snort of laughter got him moving again.  “Talked to Ajani last night; seems like one a Cassidy’s minions got away with most of the mojo Cassidy’d collected.”  Spike shrugged on his duster, and Xander hurried to button up his shirt.  He really did dress faster back when he could throw on a t-shirt and then pull on a button up shirt without buttoning it, but the few t-shirts he’d brought had already disappeared. 

“Oh god, please don’t tell me that means that someone is going to finish that whole enslaving all the vampires scheme,” he said as he sat to pull on his own boots.

“Think so, but Ajani and his minions can’t stop them, and we’re not goin’ in there alone, so, we go to Peaches.”

“What happened to the good old days when vampires just randomly killed?” Xander groaned as he finished and tucked his own weapons away.  “Now it’s all end of the world this, enslave everyone that.”  Despite his jokes, Xander could feel his stomach tense at the thought of someone using magic to enslave Spike or even Angel or Ajani.  Before he’d worried about the power and damage a person could do with an enslaved vampire army.  Now, he worried about the vampires.

Thickening Plots

“Ducks,” Spike nodded his head toward Cordelia when they walked through the door to the dim office. 

“Oh, don’t even come in here with that whole innocent act.  If you’re here to hit Angel again, you can just turn your over-bleached ass around and leave, mister.”

“You *hit* Angel,” Xander demanded, but Spike didn’t even have the grace to flinch.

“Wanker deserved it,” Spike smugly insisted.  “But I’ve got to talk to him, so the cheerleader needs to go get him.”

“And you,” Xander did flinch when Cordelia pointed a manicured finger at him.  “Exactly where were you last night?  I expect you to keep his unholy bleachiness in line.”  Xander swallowed and closed his eyes in an effort not to think about where he had been during Spike’s confrontation with his sire.  Spike’s snicker proved that the vampire had no trouble remembering the previous evening.

“Can’t really tell him what to do,” Xander pointed out with a glare to Spike who wouldn’t stop softly laughing. “Besides, I’ve learned my lesson about getting between Spike and Angel.”  Xander didn’t even think about what his words must sound like until he saw the instant worry on Cordelia’s face.

“Xander?  Are you okay?” she asked as she walked around the desk, a stake in hand.

“I’m fine, Cordie.  Just a piece of advice from experience—don’t try to pull a practical joke on a 120 year old vampire.  You won’t win.” He shrugged and Spike’s snicker, which had disappeared at the arrival of the stake, now returned.

“Whatever,” Cordelia waved a dismissive hand in their direction.  “I so don’t need to know what adolescent games you’ve been up to.”

“Who ya talkin’ to?” asked a voice from a back office and the green-eyed man, Doyle, walked out.  “Dinna know we were gettin’ regular visits or we’d a redecorated, maybe something in a nice cross motif,” Doyle commented as he leaned against the doorframe watching them.  Xander really wondered how ugly the confrontation had been the previous evening because everyone seemed on edge.  Well, everyone except Spike who had obviously caused the whole mess.

“We really do need to see Angel,” Xander hurried to say before Spike could offend them any more than he obviously already had.

“If he thinks he can walk in here whenever he wants, he’s gone in the head,” Doyle responded without moving.

“It’s all right,” came a voice from behind Doyle, and the man moved to allow Angel into the room.

“Well if it i'nt tall, dark, and broody,” Spike commented, and Xander felt himself pulled tighter into Spike’s side.  He resisted an urge to roll his eyes.

“Spike, I thought we agreed to keep our distance?” Angel asked as he moved into the room, taking a position in front of the desk where Cordelia sat and Doyle now leaned.

“Just thought you’d like a heads up, but if ya don’t want my help, I’ll just take my pet and get far enough away that we’ll be safe.”

“What are ya blatherin’ about now?” Doyle asked from his position behind Angel, and Spike released Xander in order to dig in the duster pockets for cigarettes.  Xander retreated to the arm of the sofa nearest the door.

Spike lit his cigarette and stood there, blowing smoke in Angel’s direction while Angel’s expression grew increasingly pained.

“William?” he finally demanded in a half snarl.

“Wot?  Just thought to tell ya that some bloody git got his hand on that mojo that Cassidy’d collected.  Thought you lot took care of that, but I guess good help’s hard to find,” Spike waved toward the desk, and Cordelia gave out an offended squeal.
“Jaysus,” Doyle swore.

 “Where did you hear this?” Angel demanded.

“Oi, you’d a heard too if ya stopped to talk to the fledges instead a pretendin’ ya can kill them all.  One of the older vamps set up shop on the north end, been gatherin’ minions and lettin’ the younger masters kill each other off as he sat back and chatted up those lawyers of Cassidy’s.”  The room fell into silence for several seconds.

“And why *exactly* did this minion trust you with this information?” Angel’s eyes narrowed, and Xander resisted an urge to beat both vampires until they stopped this inane game of who can piss higher.  It was like watching those stupid rams on National Geographic, the ones that rammed their heads together over and over until they proved who had the harder head.

“You really are playin’ on half a deck these days.  The minion trusted me ‘cause I’m a master or have ya forgottin’ how minions act the way you forgot your own childer?”  Xander sat up a little straighter, expecting the blows to start, but Angel wilted like a plucked flower.
“William,” he said in a far more conciliatory tone.

“Don’t bloody go there, Peaches.  Don’t want to have some wanker with mojo strong enough to bring me to heel runnin’ around.  I fought to get free a Darla, and I earned my status, so you can soddin’ help me take him down or not, but ya won’t treat me like some underling who hasn’t earned his place.”  This time the uncomfortable silence stretched far longer with the two vampires staring at each other.  Spike finally ended the stand off by walking to the door and flicking the remains of his cigarette onto the street.

“So, ya in or out?” Spike demanded from the door without turning around, his back to Angel in an expression of either submission or contempt, Xander really couldn’t tell which.  He could practically hear Angel grind his teeth, and that man was lucky he was a vampire; otherwise he might have a serious dental problem.  Angel finally spoke.

“Do you trust this minion?”

“He’s got no reason to lie.  Knows I’ll go back and torture him to death if he does.”  Spike stood motionless, no bouncing, no twitching a cigarette in his hand, no nothing.  The stillness made Xander nervous. 

“Do you know where this place is?”

“Yeah, Peaches, I do.”  Spike turned to face his sire, and now Angel was doing the silent and motionless bit.   This was just entirely too creepy.  He could see Cordelia and Doyle exchanging glances, so he wasn’t the only ones getting major wiggins.

“Cordelia, get the holy water,” Angel quietly ordered.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Cordelia’s hand shot up to her waist as her eyes narrowed in rebellion.

“Cordelia, please just get the holy water.  Doyle, call Gunn and see if his crew can give us some support later tonight after we’ve checked this place out.”

“Hello?!?!  You’re talking about trusting the vamp that blind-sided you yesterday.  Can anyone here spell trap because I did not survive a hell mouth just to end up a vampire chew toy.”

“Cordelia,” Angel said wearily.

“T-R-A-P.  Pretty simple.”


“Trap.  Ambush.  Snare.  Lure.  Con.”


“Can I get in a word here, Angel?  ‘Cause I’m trying to make a point and I don’t think you’re listening.”

“He’s not lying.” Angel finally just started talking over Cordelia’s complaints, and she fell silent as he continued.  “We have to stop this vampire, and we have to get whatever magical objects he’s using.”

“And we’re trusting Spike on this?”  The second hand now rested on her hip giving her the outline of some ancient warrior… or an angry mother.  Scary either way.

“Yes, we are.  Doyle—phone.”  Angel now turned to completely face his own crew, and Doyle reached for the phone.  Cordelia’s hand landed on the handset before Doyle could pick it up and the man looked up at Angel helplessly.  Oh yeah, this wasn’t of the good.

“Gunn’s probably not going to be up to anything other than soft foods after yesterday anyway,” Xander said about three seconds before his brain reminded him that he didn’t really want to get into a discussion with Angel, certainly not in front of Spike who had gone a little extremeish last time he’d talked to Angel, certainly not when the topic included Spike’s whole secret plan with Ajani.

Angel swung back to face him, taking two steps toward their end of the room, and he could hear Spike sigh and shift closer to the couch where he sat.

“And I think I’m going back to the whole not talking thing—I get in less trouble that way,” Xander nervously laughed.

“What did you do to Gunn, William?” Angel spoke to Spike, but his eyes remained focused on Xander until Xander squirmed under the glare.

“Nothing.  Would of happily killed the wanker, but ended up pullin’ him out of a lair instead.  Not going to talk about it.”

“You saved Gunn?” Angel now turned to Spike, confusion pulling his brows into deep furrows.

“Nancy-boy thing to do, but yeah.  I did.  Enough said.”  Xander watched Angel’s eyes travel from him to Spike and back to him.  The vampire reached some sort of conclusion because his forehead smoothed out and he nodded knowingly. 

“He okay?” Xander didn’t realize that Angel was talking to him until Spike nudged him and he looked up to see Angel watching him intently.

“I guess.  He was strong enough to take me on a whole guilt trip, so I’m assuming that means he’ll live.”  He squirmed a bit talking to Angel, and the vampire must have realized it because he backed up a step or two, and Spike returned to his place leaning against the door.

“We’ll check the place out and see if we can handle it with the five of us,” Angel announced.

“Never do like this part of the plan,” Doyle complained but he followed Angel into the back and helped him carry out a large collection of weapons.

When they reached the building in question, Xander found himself agreeing with Doyle.  The place had once been some sort of utility station with thick concrete walls and wire towers and a steel door.  Hell, it might still be a utility station, but God help the utility worker who tried to go in there because vamps slipped in and out of the half-open door with regularity.

“They must have sewer access in there,” Angel commented as he lay on a small hill watching the facility.

“Ya think?” Spike sarcastically snapped back from the convertible.  He hadn’t liked coming in one vehicle with Angel and company, but the older vampire had insisted that Spike’s motorcycle with its missing muffler and throbbing engine was just a little too obvious.  So that left Spike and Xander in back with a very uncomfortable Doyle.  A particularly uncomfortable Doyle once Spike made it clear that he would sit in the middle and Doyle would not be anywhere near *his* Xander.

“Spike,” Angel snarled, but Xander was relieved that the older vampire had returned to using the nickname.  When Angel said “William,” he was reminded of his mother’s angry “Alexander Leville Harris,” and that was so not a good memory. The very sound of his full name still sent his manly bits retreating.

“What’s the plan?” Doyle asked from his position next to Angel, binoculars in hand.

“It better not include me getting down in the dirt with you two,” Cordelia called quietly, but she was also pulling weapons out of the trunk and sorting them by function:  crossbows with the stake throwers, maces with the swords.  Strange girl.  Dirt, no; weapons, yes.

“Right now, we wait and try to get an idea of how many are in there.”

Xander turned to see Spike gesturing to him, and he followed Spike away from the others toward a distant fence.

“Ya stay back in this, pet.  Don’t care what Peaches says, you’re mine and you’ll bloody well listen to me.” Spike didn’t even make eye contract with him, instead the vampire stared toward Angel.

“But what if—”

“Oi, no arguin’.  Peaches and I can take care of ourselves, and if it comes down to you or those two wankers that hang around Peaches, you’re worth more than them.”  Gold eyes flicked toward him before returning to study Angel.  Xander turned to watch the scene that fascinated Spike.  Cordelia leaned on the car flipping through a magazine while Doyle and Angel lay on the grass.

“It’s not really a matter of w—”

“If ya say one more word arguin’, you’ll soddin’ well stay in the lair until this nest is cleared out.  Got it?”  Xander felt his demon moving within him, pushing and urging him to obey.  Of course, he couldn’t really do much to help compared with Spike and Angel, so he nodded his agreement.

“Promise,” Spike ordered.

“You’d take my promise?  What about the whole 'supposed to lie' thing?” Xander asked.

“I’m supposed to lie.  You’re a bloody white hat; you don’t lie.  Not to me, pet.”

“I promise, Spike.”  Xander felt a heaviness in his mind and he wasn’t sure he would be physically able to break that promise.  “So no Ajani tonight at all?”  Xander whispered.

“Nope.”  Spike turned his head as if listening for something but obviously concentrating on Angel more than his current conversation.

“Kinda like him,” Xander commented, and when Spike shot him a disgusted look, he quickly amended his statement. “In a human-friend sort of way which is actually a little disturbing considering he’s a killer and I really shouldn’t like killers, well, except for the obvious…and I am so gonna shut up now.”

“Yeah, well I told ya not to get attached.  Masters from different lines don’t share well, so we won’t be goin’ back.”

“Why?” Xander suddenly feared that Spike might have done something.

“’Cause he’s master enough to not want me around.  ‘Sides, after we take care of this wanker, that only leaves two or three real masters in the city.  Ajani can either make a truce and carve out his own territory or he can try and take the city, don’t really give a rat’s arse one way or the other.”

“But the vampire war…my mother…my friends.”  Xander could hear his voice approaching girly altitudes, but he nearly panicked at the thought of Spike abandoning them and making him abandon them.

“Oi, told ya I’d get the city quiet, and I did.  With only a couple a masters, they’ll settle things traditional-like, so no more marauding minions.”

“Marauding minions,” Xander laughed nervously, “that sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan musical.”

“Bloody hell, ya really are daft.”  Spike shook his head.  “Right, so let’s see what my wanker of a sire has planned.”  Spike started back toward the rest of the group, and Xander followed.  He appreciated that Spike didn’t want him to get hurt, but when Spike had left him to take care of himself with Ajani’s minions, it had felt so good.  Just knowing that someone didn’t see him as the pathetic one, the loser, the demon-bait oaf made him happy.  Now Spike had with one sentence relegated him back to sidekick land.  Even worse, by forcing the promise out of him, he knew his own demon would fight to enforce it.  Xander stopped obsessing when Spike turned and gave him a confused expression right before reaching the others.

“Pet?” he asked softly.

“I’m fine,” Xander answered quickly and then walked by Spike to lean next to Cordelia.

“Any plan then?” Spike pulled cigarettes out of his duster and started toward Angel.  When he got high enough on the hill, he crouched down so that the guards at the door below wouldn’t see him.

“A friend a mine has access to some city plans.  He’s bringin’ blueprints now,” Doyle offered.  Xander watched as Doyle slid closer to Angel, and he had to suppress a smile.  Everyone else reacted to Spike as if he were a killer, and yes, he actually was a killer, but Xander could see the nervous bounce that revealed his desire to *do* something.  He watched the cigarette and knew that Spike was uncomfortable and trying to put on his ‘Big Bad’ personality.  He listened to the accent thicken and suspected that Spike was upset about the coming fight.  The longer he knew the vampire, the more he understood his moods, but he just wished he could find the button to push to make the vampire trust him.

Xander hadn’t come to any conclusions an hour later when a new car arrived and Doyle met with some man, the two of them leaning over a laptop computer and a pile of blueprints weighted down with small rocks.  He’d had no idea that fighting evil could be so boring and had even resorted to Cordelia’s magazines.  Doyle, Angel, and the new guy talked and pointed while Spike offered a couple of comments that the others obviously dismissed if he was reading body language right.

“Don’t you ever get bored?” Xander asked Cordelia one article about pores and two boyfriend quizzes later.  They had moved to the backseat.

“He pays; I sit,” Cordelia waved a dismissive hand toward Angel as she continued to read. 

“But is it always like this?”

“On good nights, yes.  On bad nights, there’s more slime.”

“Wow, I just thought fighting for truth and justice would be more…interesting.”  Xander threw the magazine down and looked over at the conferencing trio and hovering Spike.

“Is that what you’re fighting for?” Cordelia asked in a suddenly serious tone.

Xander watched Spike animate an argument with a cigarette flick and a quick flash of game face.  Doyle retreated, but the new guy ignored the antics.  He wasn’t near enough to hear, but he placed good odds that Angel had either just called Spike ‘William’ or sighed heavily.  “What?” he finally asked when he realized Cordelia had asked a question.

“Truth and justice, is that what you’re fighting for?” she sighed in obvious frustration at his inattentiveness.  Xander looked over to find Cordelia’s magazine forgotten in her lap and a far too serious expression on her face.


“Interesting choice in partners then,” Cordelia’s gaze slipped over to Spike, but then it returned to pin him to the car seat.

“I’m not gonna sit here and fight with someone who also hangs out with a vampire.”

“Mine has a soul,” she shot back.

“And I’m really sick of hearing that.  Does that somehow change who he is?  He’s still a vampire, you know.”  Xander tried to keep his voice down, but when he glanced over at the group, Spike now stood staring directly at him, ignoring the other three.  Oh yeah, overprotective mode in five…four…three…

“He’s evil,” Cordelia nearly hissed in a good imitation of a vampire herself.  “You can tell yourself whatever you want, but he’s evil.”

“And how exactly would you know that?”

“Sunnydale born here.  I grew up around evil.  I saw what Angel did when his soul went MIA, and it wasn’t pretty.  There were dead fish involved.”  Xander narrowed his eyes in confusion, wondering if he had missed something because he thought she had just said dead fish.

“You’re worried about the fish of the world?”

“I’m worried about how long you can keep Spike on a leash.”

“No leash here.”  He held up his empty hands.

“You really are an idiot, aren’t you?  You know, when I first saw you, I thought about calling Willow.  You know, telling her I’d found you because she really worried when she tried to call you back after your little fight and found out your phone had been disconnected.  But I didn’t know how to explain all these changes in your life: the gay thing, the pet thing, the sleeping with the undead thing.  Now I realize that you haven’t changed at all.  You were a moron then and you’re a moron now.”  Xander sat open-mouthed and speechless as he tried to scrape up enough dignity to even reply.

“You were a bitch then and you’re a bitch now.”  Xander was proud of himself; he didn’t babble, stutter, or cry even though he had an urge to do all three.

“A bitch who tells the truth,” Cordelia instantly announced in a regal tone.  “That vampire would happily eat us, but he plays nice while you’re around.  So what happens when he gets tired of you or you try to find whatever life a person like you considers normal?  Hell-lo, he’s going to go binge on the local population because he’s not the cute and fuzzy you seem to think he is.”

“And he’s not what you think either,” Xander growled back.  He struggled to keep his voice low since technically they were still on stake out.  “He isn’t Angel.  He never ate his family.  He never tried to kill every person who knew him as a mortal.  Angelus was a sick bastard who got off on other people’s pain; Spike just is, so don’t compare them.”  Wow lame ending on that argument, but then he didn’t really expect to win against Cordelia.

“And how do you think he got that name?  His pathetically outdated hair?”

“I know all about the railway spikes he used,” Xander snapped back, but he had to admit he was disturbed by Spike’s story of torturing people, one he’d heard shared with a demon over a drink while Xander knelt on the floor by the vampire’s side.

“And you’re okay with that?”  Cordelia demanded.  Xander thought of Angel and Spike in the office, facing off with one vampire claiming the mantle of “goodness” and “honor” and the other vampire just wanting the respect of his sire.  Suddenly a piece slipped into place and Xander realized that he was okay with Spike’s past.

“I’m fine with his past because he did that to impress your boss. Angel is his sire, and he wanted to prove that he was just as strong, so if he did things that were evil, I’m blaming Angelus.  As for him being a vampire, deal with it.”

“My god, you really do love him.” Cordelia’s sharp tone mutated into wonder and a soft wistfulness so quickly that Xander felt like he had just jumped realities and landed in a new conversation.

“I…Um…Okay, lost now.  You’re supposed to do the bitchy thing and then I do the whole defensive thing, and don’t go changing the rules on me mid-fight.”

“I still think you’re stupid,” she shrugged, “but you just keep in mind that Spike’s only playing well with others because instead of trying to impress Angelus, he’s trying to impress you.  I suggest that if you ever want to break up you hire a whole lot of bodyguards and give the rest of us enough warning to update our security.”

“And again with the comparing him to Angel.  There’s no comparison.”  Xander stood up and stepped over the side of the car onto gravel path.  He’d expected to find Spike waiting in full game face ready to eat Cordelia.  Instead both vampires and the new guy—car and all—had disappeared.  Doyle leaned against the base of a cable pole, and Xander stomped toward the man.

“Where’s Spike?” he asked when he got close enough to ask without raising his voice.  Alerting the entire nest of vampire’s on the other side of the hill didn’t fit in with their plans…if they’d actually formed a plan yet.

“Spike had an anger management issue; he and Angel went back of the shed there,” Doyle nodded toward an old wood shack, and Xander altered direction without another word. 

What right did Cordelia have to question him?  Her comment about Spike getting tired of him hit a sore spot, but he didn’t think for one minute that she was right about Spike being a sadistic killer like Angelus.  Spike killed to eat, which technically people did too.  Every sick and twisted story Spike told had either Angelus or Darla in it.  Every person he raped had been next to Angelus, and now that Xander thought about it, Spike had described the violence with great detail and joy, but he had described Angelus’ reaction in even more detail.  Spike was a vampire with a demon’s sense of family and love and honor, but that didn’t mean he was a monster…okay, it did mean he was a monster, but that didn’t make him less of a person or maybe just not less of an individual.

Xander was shaking his head at his own mental confusion when he turned the corner of the shed and stopped dead.  Spike’s back was up against a pole, Angel’s body trapping the smaller vampire, which didn’t actually surprise Xander.  The surprise came from Angel’s mouth locked over Spike’s neck, and Spike in full game face buried in Angel’s neck.  The sounds of drinking and moaning were unmistakable and Xander felt himself react to the raw lust he could practically smell. 

Holy shit, what memo had he missed?  Yes, he expected to get replaced eventually, but this was a little more than he was prepared to deal with.  Part of him gasped to breathe through the agony, and another part of him panted at the basic animal desire swirling around him.  He must have made some noise because both vampires stopped, Angel stepping back and dropping into human features so fast that Xander thought for a moment that he hadn’t seen the ridges at all.

“I told you he could handle Cordelia,” Angel said calmly even though he had an even more guilty expression than usual.

“I wouldn’t say handled as much as got verbally ripped apart before retreating,” Xander said as he stepped forward carefully.  If he was about to be rejected and destroyed, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be much closer, but he couldn’t seem to stop his feet.

“With Cordelia, you count yourself successful any time you can walk away from the fight with both your wallet and your manhood in place.”  Okay, Angel told a joke.  He still looked guilty, but he told a joke.  Xander looked over toward Spike, looking for some reassurance, but the blonde vampire had turned away, leaning a shoulder against the pole with cigarette smoke rising above his head.

“Um, I’m not sure about the manhood thing,” Xander admitted as he stepped closer.

“I’ll go make a few last minute checks,” Angel answered and then the large vampire actually managed to run toward the car.  Actually, he was probably just running away, but Xander appreciated his ability to make the move look work related.

“Spike?” Xander called, unsure how to handle the moment.  He knew that technically he was the pet and Spike the master, so the vampire probably had a right to go sucking on and lusting after others, but that didn’t make him feel any less inadequate.  God, he had felt like the loser when compared to Luther, so he sure as hell couldn’t compare to Angel.  What if Spike wanted to get rid of him?  He couldn’t blame Spike for preferring Angel, and if he had to, he’s share just to not get left behind.  But what if Spike didn’t want Angel in addition to him, what if Spike wanted Angel instead of him?  And why wasn’t Spike interrupting his internal panic with some sort of comforting comment, even if it was a disturbing sort of comfort.

“Do you want me to leave?” he asked.

“Yeah, be there in a bit, pet.”  Xander’s chest physically hurt so much at that first word, that he almost didn’t hear the rest.

“Will you?” He had to know.  He couldn’t live with this fear.

“Wot?”  Spike turned and he saw the tilted head and funny wrinkle that always appeared when Spike got confused.

“Will you be…” Xander took a deep breath trying to control his breathing, his fear, his pain.  Suddenly strong arms locked around his waist, and he swore he never even saw Spike move.

“’S’all right luv.  It’s a sire thing, a way of makin’ things…” Spike’s words stopped as the vampire struggled to explain something that he obviously hadn’t tried to explain in words before.

“You need to be okay with your sire. I get that,” Xander answered as the pain tightened until he wondered if he could actually die of grief.  “It’s okay, I never expected you to…”

“Oi, we’re makin’ a right mess of this,” Spike complained and Xander could almost pretend to be okay listening to that almost normal voice as strong arms held him.  “Not giving ya up, pet.  You’re mine and ya stay mine.”  The words sunk into his heart, loosening the bands around his chest.

“But you want him,” Xander stated calmly.  Funny because inside he was running around and wailing.

“Want my sire, want one of my sires.  Want to hunt with them or share a warm lover with them.  Want to have a place in the clan, that’s all.”

“And Angel can give you that?” Xander asked.

“Yeah.  Sometimes feels like someone’s crushin’ my soddin’ chest, knowing I’ve been rejected by the whole bloody line.”  Xander knew the feeling.  He may not have a line with a whole hierarchy of vampires to reject him, but the rejection of the one vampire that meant everything to him?  He wasn’t sure he’d survive that.

“It’s okay if you’d rather have him,” Xander whispered because he had to fight to even get the words past his lips.

“If I have to chose, I’ll choose you every time,” Spike said fiercely, and the arms tightened until Xander could feel the circulation cut off.

“He can give you things I can’t; he can give you family.”

“And I’ll rot in Dru’s bloody hell dimension before I let myself in for that grief again,” Spike said, and Xander felt a face nuzzle at his neck.  He happily tilted his head and Spike’s tongue played with the scar.

“I chose you, Xander.  You’re the one I want, and I didn’t mean ya to see that.  That was just a sire’s way of letting childer know things are okay.”

“That’s a vampire *hug*?” Xander asked, unsure if the raw emotion he’s witnessed could really be compared to a hug.

“Sorta.  Doesn’t matter, though because it’s not anything that changes what we have.  Like you once told me, not going to start chasing the broody Neanderthal.  But we gotta take care of this master or both us vampires’ll end up serving some bleedin’ little runt.  Besides, you don’t want your precious Ajani comin’ up here, ‘cause the info Doyle’s buddy brought, it shows some bad mojo goin’ on.”  Xander could hear Spike practically begging him to let it go and let things return to normal.  He smiled.

“The little runt’s mojo isn’t nearly as bad as these two bad-ass vampires I know.”  Xander allowed Spike to guide him back to where the others waited, but he couldn’t pretend away one simple truth that now colored his whole world.  Spike needed something that he couldn’t give him, at least not without giving up his humanity.

Xander knew he was obsessing when Angel covered the attack plan, but then he didn’t really need to listen.  He could sit and watch the others while he thought about things like life and death and families and how screwed he was because he would never be enough for anyone in his life.  Cordelia and Doyle would dust any vampire’s fleeing out of the building. They expected a few fledges might decide to run for it, but most would stay to protect their master.  Spike and Angel would attack from the sewers shortly before sunrise when the vampires were full and tired.  Since most of the minions were young and still undisciplined, both vampires insisted that they could clear out most of the nest with no trouble. 

Of course Spike had been absolutely gleeful once he discovered that Cordelia had packed his new favorite toy:  a flamethrower.  Angel had rolled his eyes and begged Spike to please remember that they were just as flammable as the fledges, but Xander could see how much more friendly the two were now.  It hurt him because it just reminded him what he couldn’t give Spike.  He did have to admire Angel’s crew though.  The plan had no more come out of Angel’s mouth before they started moving into place.  Of course he got the all-important job of guarding the car.  He had to say that in an entire history of being left behind, this excuse was the flimsiest. 

At least that’s what he said that until he discovered himself surrounded by fledges all alone at the convertible.  The first two he easily tricked into overextending themselves, slipping a stake in at the right angle to turn the guys to dust.  The problem came when three of them jumped him at once.  He dealt with blue shirted one in front of him, but that left two others free to grab his arms and wrench the stake from his hand.  He tried going into hand-to-hand combat mode, but that only lasted the three seconds it took the vampire holding his left hand to twist it up behind his back.  Before he could really even think about what a screw up he truly was, he found himself marched down the hill toward Doyle and Cordelia, a knife at his neck and a vampire at each arm.


He could see Cordelia react first, her hand snapping up to her hip as though she could intimidate the vampires into letting him go. Of course, she did have some practice what with the whole intimidating Angel thing.  His foot caught on a piece of discarded pipe, and he stumbled, the vampire behind him pulling his arm damn near up to his shoulder at the same time the knife at his neck dug in slightly.  He gasped and tried not to stumble again.

He watched as Cordelia pulled on Doyle’s jacket.  The man turned, and Xander could hear his Irish cursing as Cordelia pointed toward his journey down the hill.  Of course they were very near the bottom now, so it wasn’t all that difficult to hear Doyle’s colorful response.  One minion went ahead, and Cordelia and Doyle backed away from the door they supposedly guarded.

“No need for anyone to get hurt here,” Doyle pointed out.  Yeah, right.  Like the minions thought they’d shown up with stakes in hopes of finding a whittling class.  At least Xander now knew that he wasn’t the only to say stupid things under pressure.  The minions didn’t even bother to answer.  The one opened the door and the whole mob, Xander in the middle, entered the giant bunker-like building. 

Xander tried not to choke on the dust and smoke in the air since one really good cough and he could decapitate himself.  He squinted in the dim light before it dawned on him that he had better options.  Ignoring the hands that pushed and pulled him, he closed his eyes in order to concentrate.  When he opened them again, the burning sensation had disappeared and the smoke seemed to vanish in the sharp-edged demon vision.  Of course now the smell of gasoline nearly made him vomit, but at least he wasn’t working blind. 

The minions stopped, and Xander could see Spike and Angel in a corner, fighting like archangels in this book his grandmother had once bought him, and could you go to hell for comparing demons to archangels? 

“Stop,” roared a voice, and the minions all stopped as though they were puppets on strings.  A short round vampire who looked more like an accountant than a master vampire stepped forward with a sword in hand.  Angel shifted to one side holding his own sword, and Spike gave his battle axe a twirl as he took up a position next to his sire.  Xander could tell from the bounce in Spike’s knees that the vampire was enjoying himself.

“Drop your weapons or you’re precious pet will soon be screaming in agony.”  Xander watched as Spike’s eyes scanned the room until meeting his own.

“Yeah, the whole leave me at the car thing didn’t really work out well,” Xander would have shrugged and played it off like nothing except the knife now dug into his throat so he had to strain to look at anything except the ceiling and he couldn’t really shrug with his arm twisted nearly out of the socket.

“Let him go,” Spike snarled, and Angel reached out and put his free hand on Spike’s arm.  Xander knew that he was dead.  No matter what happened, the asshole at his throat was going to kill him. 

“Surrender first,” accountant-vamp ordered.

“You won’t free him either way, so that’s not going to happen.  I’m sorry Xander.”  Xander could see the honest pain in Angel’s eyes, and Spike’s bounce had turned into a deadly crouch.  Yep, this wasn’t ending well.

“It’s okay, I know the score.  Just make sure you take these bastards down for me.”  Xander kept his eyes on Spike even though it required him to tilt his head down just enough for the knife’s point to prod the sensitive skin under his chin.  That pain just didn’t matter any more, but he knew Angel was doing the right thing.  If they dropped their weapons, this master would kill both of them, and Xander could face his own death, but he couldn’t bear to watch Spike dusted.

“I heard you’d gone soft, but maybe I heard wrong.  Kill the pet.”  Xander had trouble telling the exact order of events, but within a couple of seconds, Doyle and Cordelia appeared tossing what appeared to be water balloons.  As he tried to process the image of bright blue and red balloons in the middle of the battle, the balloons started hitting and smoke rolled off vampire arms and faces.  Screams echoes off the concrete walls and he ended up on the ground minus the guards. 

Doyle appeared near Spike and Angel, and Spike dusted two vampires lunging at the human with incredible speed even as the blonde vampire moved toward the middle of the room.  Xander realized that Spike was fighting to reach him at the same time he realized that Cordelia had gotten separated.  She fought far better than he ever expected, but she clearly wasn’t holding her own.  He reached for a shard of wood that had fallen to the floor and pulled himself up to go help Cordelia. 

His arm didn’t really work right yet after being twisted so sharply, and his knees felt weak either from fear or from breathing gas and smoke although he did notice that the air was quickly clearing.  Obviously someone had propped open some doors.  He blamed all these circumstances for what happened next. 

Xander grasped the wood and stepped toward Cordelia when a vamp stepped up in front of him.  Xander feigned to the right and then tried to stake from the left, but he had practiced against short weapons, and he couldn’t get around the broken pole the vamp waved as a weapon.  Realizing that the weapon’s long reach made it almost impossible for him to stake the vamp himself, he backed up with his opponent in pursuit hoping to reach Spike who he could hear shouting advice from the other side of the room.  When he felt a strange tingling behind him, he spun and staked a strange vamp trying to get him from behind before turning in time to see his first opponent drive forward with the length of the wooden pole.

Xander watched the impromptu spear slide into his body with the surrealistic feeling that it wasn’t his body.  The grinning vamp jerked the wood back with a wrench, and he could feel himself pulled forward into that grinning face. With arms that had already begun to feel cold, he pulled up his stake and drove it into the vamp’s heart at nearly the same time as the wood pulled free from him, sending him to his knees in a cloud of dust.

He put his hand up to his stomach and felt the warmth around his chilling fingers.  Funny enough, all he could seem to focus on was that the vamp had just ruined one of his favorite shirts.  He would have wanted to be buried in this shirt, but he suspected the blood would never come out, much less the hole torn when the vamp drove the broken pole through his middle.

Around him, the fighting continued, but he slid from his knees to his side, no longer capable of tracking which side was winning.  He could see vampires dissolve into dust, but he could only hope that wasn’t Spike-shaped dust.  Spike.  Shit.  He suddenly realized how hard Spike would take his death; the vampire spent five years getting over his last lover.  But then again, Xander sighed as he felt the pool of blood under him grow, he was no Dru.  Besides, Angel would be there to comfort him.

He had trouble breathing now, his chest hurting with each inhaled breath.  He almost wished he could just die now, just stop the pain. 

“Xander!” he heard shouted from a distance.  “Be alright, pet.”  He couldn’t decide if Spike was asking him a question or giving him an order, but all he cared about was having the vampire’s hand to hold as he died.

“Spike?” he called, his voice weak and thready to even his own ears.  The vampire appeared in his dimming vision, the ridged features and yellow eyes suddenly comforting.

“Bloody hell, no,” Spike whispered and Xander could see the pain and fear even in the vamped out features.  “You bring up the demon,” Spike ordered roughly.  Xander tried to laugh, but he couldn’t get enough air to finish the gesture.

“Don’t work that way, Fangface,” he coughed.

“Don’t you tell me how it works, ya bloody git.  I told ya to pull up yer demon, and you’ll bloody well obey me or I’ll beat ya senseless.”  Xander tried to laugh at the image since a wet noodle would probably do the job at this point, but he felt the stirrings of the demon answering Spike’s call anyway.

“Ya hear me?  You’ll bloody well do as you’re ordered or you’ll be soddin’ sorry.”

“William!”  He heard Angel shout from far away, as though a veil slowly descended over his senses. 

“Stay outta this, Pouf.”  Spike turned again to Xander, “you listen up and get yer sorry arse out ‘ere before I soddin’ beat ya black and blue.” 

Xander could feel the demon moving, and he intentionally stepped back, allowing the demon access to the world.  For the second time in his life, he felt the wind of the demon rushing by him to take control.  Suddenly he watched though someone else’s eyes as the world appeared bathed in reddish light.  He wondered if he would see his eyes if he looked in a mirror now or if vampire eyes would prove as invisible as vampires, leaving his face with two empty sockets according to the mirror.  Wow, he could still mentally babble at the point of death.  Of course, by pulling up the demon Spike had made the pain go away, and maybe that was the point, he mused.  He watched as the demon’s nose twitched in response to some delightful smell.

“Drink,” Spike ordered, and he felt an arm at his lips, the most delightful, richest, warmest taste ever hit his mouth, but it wasn’t his mouth; he simply sat in a dim corner and watched and felt from his self-exile.  Or exile in the self.  Whatever.

“Childe, you will stop,” ordered some deep voice far off in the void.  He couldn’t care as long as that taste remained.  He could feel his own lips close over the source and suck.

“Not turnin’ him, ya idiot.  I’m savin’ ‘im.”

“No human can drink that much.”

“Didn’t drain him first, did I?  Case you’ve forgottin’ how to make a childe, ya gotta drain ‘em first before feedin’ ‘em.”

“If you don’t turn him, you’ll kill him.  Let him go NOW.”  Xander felt the source of the wonderful taste ripped from him, and he could feel the growl in his own chest.  Strange feeling really, like being in the passenger side seat of your own car.  His eyes swung over to glare at Angel, and he didn’t fight the impulse when he felt his own lip lift in a growl.

“Oh my god.  What did you do?” Cordelia shrieked, and he felt his head swing over to her.  She stood in the far corner, which was now empty of vampires except one cringing minion that huddled on the floor.  Cordelia walked over and calmly staked the creature.

“Stay down ‘n let that stomach heal,” a voice ordered, and his eyes swung back toward the sound, unable to turn away.  He inched toward voice, pulling his own body along the floor, once he saw Spike being held back by Angel.

“Boy, what have you been up to?” Angel demanded, and he could see the shock on the older vampire’s face which had fallen back to human features even though Spike’s ridges remained.

“Not anythin’ I’ve done,” Spike argued as he obviously struggled to pull the arm away from his neck.  “He just needs to stay like that ‘til he heals.”  Xander felt his own head cock to one side as he watched the two vampires. 

The demon inside him panicked, confused at why the master of the line and his master would fight.  Xander sent comforting thoughts from his dark corner, now realizing what Spike had done.  Spike had called up the demon so that the demon would heal him.  But the demon complained of the wound.  The wood had struck deep; the wound caused pain, but the demon didn’t want to show weakness, so he remained silent.  Xander sent more comforting thoughts, promised the demon that both vampires would help if they only knew the pain.  He pushed and cajoled and encouraged until he felt the demon let out a whine of pain.

At once, both vampires turned yellowed eyes to him, and Xander could feel the demon struggling to retreat.  The weak were killed, the demon thought at him, but Xander pushed back from his corner.  Trust Spike.  Trust Spike, he sent back as loudly and strongly as possible.  The demon reached out toward Spike, and the blonde vampire pushed away from his sire to kneel down and gather him into his lap.  Xander settled, sure that Spike would take care of the upset demon.  He felt his head cradled in Spike’s neck, a wonderful smell tantalizing him, and he could feel the demon hoping.  Hoping for what?  Xander didn’t know what the demon wanted, but he suggested a means for the demon to get his way.  He heard his own voice beg, “Please.”

Spike had been rocking him gently, but the word made him stop.  Xander waited confused while the demon waited impatiently. 

“Go on, then,” Spike commented as he began the rocking again.  Xander could feel himself biting down on the neck, his teeth sliding into the flesh, enjoying the taste of old, rich vampire blood that made the pain go away, made the torn flesh mend.  After feeding, Xander felt his mouth detach and the demon begin to purr as the pain and damage faded under the influence of Spike’s blood.  Suddenly Xander understood.  He sent the thought to the demon, and the demon rumbled back a happy affirmation.  He pushed forward and felt the demon yield and step back so that Xander could whisper the one word that made everything right again.

“Sire,” Xander whispered in Spike’s ear, and he felt Spike tremble.

“Yeah, ‘m here,” Spike agreed, holding even tighter.  Xander retreated again and let the demon have its moment with its sire, knowing that when the time came he would be able to regain control, but for now he was quite happy to wait.  Besides, the demon babbled less than he did, so hopefully he would be smart enough to avoid commenting on the stupid expression on Angel’s face.



Xander finished packing his bag.  Dinner tonight with his mother and then the open road.  He had expected to leave most of his things behind as they hit the road on the motorcycle, but Spike had appeared with an old Desoto, the windows blacked out.  It didn’t look safe to him, but then riding behind Spike on the motorcycle wasn’t exactly safe either.  He reached inside, and could feel the demon happily curled within him, so he went back to packing his duffle.

He remembered the night when everything had fallen into place, and he still didn’t like the answers Spike and Angel came up with to explain the presence of the full grown demon hiding in him.  Spike suggested that Cassidy shared too much blood; Angel countered with the possibility that the lack of other vampires to keep the small piece of demon in his place had caused the demon to grow.  Spike argued that Xander might be one of those people who just naturally corrupted any magic cast on him, including the blood magic used to make a pet; Angel rebutted with the possibility that the magicks that Cassidy had used might have affected the vampire’s blood. 

He had stayed out of the debate until Doyle had suggested that he might have demon blood that interfered, and he had protested at that…well he had until he discovered Doyle’s own heritage, then he just tried to pry his foot out of his mouth.

Cordelia had just calmly walked around the dead master’s alter destroying the magic objects while complaining that she was getting calluses and would never be able to work as a hand model if they didn’t stop worrying about it and help her destroy things.  The only real conclusion Xander came to was that Angel and Spike would never agree.  That and that he did actually carry a full demon.  He still had lots of questions.  Would they eventually merge?  Would he age?  Would he be able to stay in control or would the day come that he found himself locked in his own mind? Unfortunately, no one had the answers, so the three of them would just have to work that out, just Spike, Xander, and baby demon. 

He felt the stirrings at the nickname.  Little demon?  Petite demon?  Mini demon?  Xander really felt the unhappy turnings now, and he laughed.  Diminutive? Tiny?  Miniature?  The demon now made little distraught sounds in his mind, and Xander had to laugh.  Okay, okay, he relented.  His powerful, covert demon.  Maybe even his clandestine, dangerous demon. Wow, he could tease himself he pondered as he laughed again.

“Oi, no goin’ loony on me,” Spike complained as he came down the stairs for another load. 

“Nope, no looniness here.  Just teasing myself.” 

“Not bloody fair, that’s my job, Spike commented with a lewd leer and a cocked eyebrow.

“Oh not even!  We’re supposed to be at my mother’s, and I am *so* not going to turn up with those thoughts on my mind.”

“Move your arse, then.  If I have to put up with human in-laws, I want this evenin’ started and over quick as possible.”  Xander followed Spike up the stairs with duffle in hand.  Everything else had already been thrown into the car.  Thrown with enough force that Xander slightly worried about the CD collection.

“Hey, I have to put up with Angel,” Xander pointed out.

“True enough,” Spike conceded.  “So, any thoughts on where we’re headed?”

Xander waited until Spike had locked the door to their abandoned lair before answering.

“Been thinking of visiting the hell mouth.”  Spike looked at him with his confused, head cocked to one side expression for a couple of seconds before shrugging.

“Wherever, pet.  One hell mouth coming up.  Right after we survive dinner with your mum.”

The End

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