Book 3 in the Second Verse series

Disclaimer: The following pages are not for minors!! The fanfic on these pages contains m/m slash (male on male sex), bondage, BDSM, rimming, oral sex, anal sex, bloodplay, and violence. For adults, this is a nice little fantasy. For children, this is a good way to really warp your sense of sexuality!! If you're not of legal age, go read something else. I don't own any of these guys and I don't make money off this. I'm just having some fun. Oh, and if you're looking for abuse, rape, torture, chan, or sexual violence, go somewhere else! My guys like what they're doing, and they don't do anything unless both partners are getting off on it!

Out of Tune


Part One

Welcome back to Sunnyhell, pet,” Spike said as he drove past the roadside sign.

“Already?” Xander looked up from his book. “Thank god.”

“So, three ways to kill a Gy’phan,” Spike demanded, and Xander felt his demon circle in his mind, anxious to prove himself.

“Have I mentioned lately how tests and me are like peanut butter and vinegar? I tried that once as a kid, not a good combination,” Xander joked even as he closed the heavy book.

“About every five bloody miles, but considering the types of nasties that settle on the Hellmouth, I need to make sure you can take care of yourself. Won’t risk losing my childe to some random demon.” Spike still smiled every time he said the word 'childe' and Xander felt his own demon practically purr. And really, even his soul loved knowing that their connection went deeper than pet and master, but the whole childe reference still gave him a bit of the wiggins.

“Okay, considering the things we have done together, calling me your childe is really doing bad things to my psyche.” Xander snorted when his own demon sent up its own unhappy grumblings making it clear that it wanted to be called childe. Xander ignored this inner voice in favor of watching the familiar buildings through the hole he'd scratched in the paint covering the windows of the De Soto.

“So, you havin’ some sort of private conversation over there?” Spike asked as he sent the car around another corner fast enough to make Xander grab for the dash just to keep his balance.

“Just disagreeing over the whole childe issue,” Xander hissed as he shut his eyes for just a second to avoid seeing Spike dart around a semi with the recklessness of an immortal creature. Spike exchanged obscene gestures with the other driver.

"Your demon likes bein’ called a childe,” Spike smugly answered once he had hit a relatively empty stretch of road or at least empty enough there was no one for him to curse at.

“Yeah, well he didn't grow up with teachers explaining about naughty touches and news reports about pedophilia or would that be incest? Well, sex and children… really not of the good.”

"Bloody hell, you're not exactly some little ankle biter. I may not want you off challenging random demons on the Hellmouth, but you're the fighter who eviscerated Angelus himself."

"I accidentally stuck a stake in his stomach," Xander pointed out dryly.

"Gotta learn how to tell the story better than that, pet," Spike sighed and rolled his eyes. "You're Xander Harris, first and favored childe of William the Bloody, accepted into the line of Aurelius by Angelus the grandchilde of the Master himself. You staked Cassidy, Master of all of LA, you can claim the hospitality of Master Ajani, and you once eviscerated Master Angelus during a fight.” Xander felt the demon that shared his body rise up to the naming, not struggling for control as much as just twisting in near orgasmic pleasure at the sounds of his sire’s approval.

“You keep doing that and we aren’t going to make it to the warehouse,” Xander warned as he could feel his cock respond to his demon’s desire to prove his worth to the sire who so accepted him.

“Havin’ a problem, luv?” Spike snickered, and Xander had no doubt that the evil vampire knew exactly what he was doing. God he hated vampire noses, especially since Spike always managed to sniff him at the most embarrassing times. He hadn’t had so much trouble controlling Xander Jr. since seventh grade when he sat between Cordelia Chase and Suzie Smythe for reading class. He had been caught somewhere between heaven and hell all year, and no wonder he wasn’t any good at reading.

“Depends on how you define a problem. Would you have a problem if I slid down and tasted your cock as you drove?” Xander made himself blush with his words, but he knew better than to back down to Spike. Give Spike and inch, and he would take the whole damn continent, so if he didn’t stand up for himself now, Spike was going to talk dirty to him in the middle of Wal-mart next. Nope, no more public displays of horniness for the Xan-man, especially since lately his horniness had been accompanied by definite signs of demoniness.

Xander smirked as Spike shifted in his seat. Oh yeah, time to teach his sire a lesson. Xander unbuttoned the first couple of buttons on his silk shirt and pulled the collar down to expose his claim bite which now constantly showed red against his tanned skin.

“No problem, pet, come on over,” Spike invited him even as Spike reached over and turned off the punk music currently blasting through the car speakers.

“I wouldn’t want to distract you from your driving by running my tongue over your balls, feeling your cock brush against my cheek.” This time Xander was rewarded with a groan as Spike reached down and pulled at the denim over his crotch. Of course, Xander had to shift in his own seat to accommodate his increasing tight jeans, but at least he was no worse off than Spike.

“Bloody hell, no distraction at all. I can drive even as I pierce your neck with my fangs, pulling the blood from you so slow that you’ll feel it down to your toes. I can drive as I work my hands into the back of your jeans, exploring your tight…”

“Mercy….uncle…enough,” Xander squealed as his cock made a Herculean effort to break through the denim and stand at attention. He whimpered as he pushed himself up on the seat and tried to adjust himself. Spike snickered his victory, but Xander also noticed that the vampire had slipped a hand down the front of his own jeans to try and find a more comfortable position. “Truce,” Xander offered.

“Truce my arse, I won that round, so don’t give me any ‘truce’ crap.”

“A draw with you slightly in the lead.”

“A bloody outright victory.”

“A negotiated surrender.”

“Unconditional capitulation.”

“Tyrant,” Xander huffed, and Spike only laughed.

“Seems like someone never answered my question, though. No more distractions.” Xander sighed. He wanted to please Spike, but there were so many damn demons.

“Okay, Gy’phon: horned demon with blue skin. Kill it by taking off the horn and stabbing it into the demon, fire, or the ever-popular beheading, and why is it that beheading seems to kill everything?”

“It doesn’t, pet. Pyleans just stick the head right back, Goran’s can regenerate, and beheading a Gy’phan’ll just piss it off. The whole lot of cousins from the G’an family die the same way…the Gy’phans, Gulans, and Gurelians all die by their own horns, fire or drownin’, but beheadin’ is a good guess if ya don’t know what else to do.”

"And we're back to, how about I hide behind you while you rip apart anything that looks at me wrong?" Xander tried his best helpless wide-eyed stare, but the demon part of him circled in distress, angry at the thought of sire seeing him as weak, and Xander really had to agree. He didn't want to be the sidekick any more. "Or, how about we stick to just killing vampires?"

"Oi, where we're going, ya won't be stakin' any of the vampires, not unless we absolutely have to. Soddin' Anointed One has most of the demon community bowin' and cringin' just because of some cock up of a prophesy."

"But if it's prophesy…" Xander pointed out. Angel had explained how the Master of the Aurelius line had chosen his heir, turned a young human who the prophesies said would hold great power and free the Master from his prison under the city. Xander was still trying to get his brain around the idea that demons and vampires had lurked right below his feet while he played with toy cars in the back yard. Even worse, when his parents had fought, he would take a sleeping bag outside and sleep under the stars, and just how stupid had that been?

"Lived with Dru long enough ta know there's prophesy, and then there's prophesy. Like the bit about the Anointed One freein' the Master. Old Bat Face got free and ate his slayer like the prophesy said, but the git couldn't keep her dead. 'Course Angel put the bird in a coma, but she's still breathin'. Then the next soddin' slayer just dusted him. So, ya can't count on prophesy."

"But all these other demons, they're submitting to the Anointed One because of the prophesy."

"Yeah, which only said the boy could free the Master and lead the Aurelius line to destroy their enemies."

"Right, so best to not be an Aurelius enemy. Oh." Xander froze as he realized what that meant. "We're Aurelius."

Spike smirked.

"Well, figure I don't want to take on the pipsqueak until we get the lay of the land. Don't figure on settling down in the same town as the slayer, and I don't bloody well want another vampire war."

"So, we play nice," Xander nodded. His demon still sulked, wanting to take power and lay it at the feet of his sire. Of course, his demon also had little fantasies about dragging screaming virgins to the lair and laying them at sire's feet like a cat offering up little mouse bodies, so Xander really didn't trust his demon instinct all that much.

"Best thing," Spike agreed.

Xander watched the familiar ice cream shop appear and then disappear in his little spot of window. “My bluffing skills are at an all time low here, that being the case, why don’t we just skip the whole dropping in on the in-laws thing? Visits to the in-laws always go wrong, as evidenced by the oh-so-lovely snarkage at my mother’s.”

“What? I bloody liked your mother,” Spike protested.

“You two insulted each other through three courses and a birthday cake.”

“Yeah, and she got in some good ones too. Ballsy lady, your mum.”

“Well I’m sure she’d love hearing how my undead gay lover thinks she has balls, but wait, you already told her that, and as I recall her reaction was less than positive,” Xander pointed out with a disgusted expression.

“Meant it as a compliment,” Spike said with a twist of his mouth that Xander suspected might mean guilt, but Spike felt guilt so rarely, Xander had trouble pinning down what that expression looked like on Spike.

“So, since our in-law record is less than sterling, any chance of skipping it this round?” Xander hoped that he could turn that possible guilt into a bit of manipulation, but Spike turned a suspicious eye to him for so long that Xander started panicking and gesturing toward the front window where the car continued barreling down the street. “Road… driving… watching the road while driving,” Xander sputtered. With only streaks of clear glass in front, driving wasn't ideal in any conditions, but he definitely didn't want Spike's eyes off the road.

“Not bloody likely. This town has more cemeteries than schools, and more bloody vampires and demons than humans, so since we can't avoid 'em, we visit the court and play good little vamps."

“Stupid vampire rules,” Xander muttered.

“Bloody right, now you know why I avoid the soddin’ courts. Nancy-boy bowin’ and scrapin’ and sucking up to some bat-faced master. Not my bloody idea of a good time, but someone wanted to come and visit his friend.”

"Well, someone was all ready to go run off to China just to get away from Angel," Xander pointed out.

“Can’t believe Angel actually worked with a slayer, bloody unnatural that. Should be eatin’ slayers, not havin’ tea and crumpets with the bints,” Spike complained for the millionth time, and Xander just rolled his eyes.

“Wait…. Why did Angel get away with helping the slayers if the court is so powerful?” Xander asked as he watched the streets darken as more and more of the streetlights stood broken and useless.

“Angelus was one of the Master’s favorites, at least once the Master got over hatin’ him. Even with the Master dead, the Anointed One wouldn’t go after such an old vamp especially since Angel and the Master seemed to have a bit of a truce of their own.”

“He told you that?” Xander turned to look at Spike surprised, but the vampire had an amused expression on his face.

“Didn’t have to, pet. Angel talks about Buffy goin’ into the lairs alone even though he’d already helped her out plenty of times. He didn't go down in there until after he saw Batface go wandering off. Only one reason for that.”

“Coward,” Xander huffed, and the vampire next to him growled at the same time as the vampire in his head.

“Angel’s a wanker, but cowardice isn’t in the line, luv. Two things ya never call a vamp of your own line: coward and weak.”

“So you can call him a pouf and hairboy and captain gel but not a coward?” Xander demanded skeptically even as he tried to send comforting thoughts to his own distraught demon.

“Bloody hell, yes. Those other things are left from when he was human, that’s Angel I’m insultin’, but whether or not a vamp is a coward or a weakling, that has to do with the strength of the demon.”

“And….” Xander let his voice trail out. His own demon had been just as unhappy with his comment, but he and baby demon didn’t actually have the whole communication thing down yet.

“We aren’t related through our human side, pet. But we’re all part of the Aurelius demon, the old Master’s even more bat-faced sire. So you don’t bloody insult the demon’s strength since we all carry a part of the same demon.”

"But my demon came from Cassidy," Xander protested. His inner demon roared a protest as a flash of Cassidy-hatred rolled through him. "Hypocrite," Xander snapped at his demon considering the thing had crawled at Cassidy's feet.

"Wot?" Spike demanded.

"Sorry, internal fight. But I'm still saying Cassidy demon here, whether he wants to deny it or not," Xander snarled as the demon sent a rage through every cell in his body, making him clench his fists.

"Not even, pet. Your demon is Aurelius. I bloody well chased Cassidy's demon out and shared mine, so you're just as much a part of the line as I am. We're Aurelius demons, and so we don't insult the demon that connects us." Spike insisted with a growl that showed his displeasure. Xander flinched as Baby Aurelius scraped distress down his backbone.

“I know he’s not physically a coward considering he let you play with a flame thrower in the same room with him, which, no offense here, kinda scary. I actually meant that he was an emotional coward for not wanting to face his vampire needs.” Xander defended himself.

“Some days I think the pouf isn’t a vampire anymore,” Spike commented as he pulled the car up to a dark warehouse and parked in a spot where only the light of the half-moon and the distant streetlights faintly illuminated the abandoned building. "Wanker."

Xander took that as forgiveness. Or at least Spike had moved on to being grumpy about Angel. Xander watched Spike's profile, and part of him wanted to say something supportive, especially since he knew how much it hurt when the person, or vamp, you saw as a father turned out to be a big turd. His own father had written him off, and looking at Spike's tight jaw, Xander wanted to eviscerate Angel again.

As the car rolled to a stop, Xander rolled down his window and checked out his new home… well, at least for as long as the visit lasted. A few windows remained intact with blackened glass set high on the warehouse's metal walls, but most of the glass had been replaced with wood boards and squares of corrugated metal, and he really hoped the inside was nicer. The car eased up to a giant door obviously designed for semi trucks to deliver their loads.

“He just doesn’t want to face the vampirey bits he’s got inside.” Xander finally replied absentmindedly as he looked around at the squat buildings and the trash gathering in the corners and the graffiti and then at his sire who stared at him curiously. “What?” he asked, wondering if he had a booger on his face or something. He ran a hand over his face just in case.

“Vampirey bits?” Spike asked with a raise of an eyebrow.

“Yeah, like these bits I feel in me. Some I let out like when I needed to ask your forgiveness childe to sire after the whole thing with the me being stupid in the club. Some bits I just ignore, but I don’t see Angel doing anything vampirey-like, so I just think he ignores it all.”

“So you feel things from your vampire inside, things you don’t act on?” Spike reached into the back seat and dug around in one of the bags.

“Uh, yeah. Thought that was kinda obvious.” Xander watched as Spike finally fished out the key and got out. Xander eyed the hood of the car….

Xander sat for a full minute as Spike unchained the huge door and pushed it open, and then he decided to do something that he had always wanted to do. He rolled the window down and then pushed himself up and out the car window.

“What the hell?” Spike turned with a confused expression.

“Look out ‘cause here I come,” Taking a deep breath, Xander started running at the car, jumping at the last minute so that he butt-slid across the hood. His goal had been to slide to the other side, but he somehow got turned around so that his back was to Spike and his feet still trapped on the hood even as he started falling head first toward the ground. Just when Xander braced to hit, he felt hands at his shoulders scrambling to pull him away from the car so that he could get his legs under him so that he squatted with Spike still holding him under his arms.

“You bloody idiot,” Spike snarled, and Xander looked over with is best wide-eyed expression.

“It worked for Bo Duke…looked really cool when he went sliding over the hood, and I don’t remember ever seeing him fall on his ass, not that I actually fell, and thank you for that.”

“Bo Duke?” Xander felt Spike let him go, but he couldn’t catch his balance before he fell the foot or so to the ground and let his breath out in a gasp. Okay, that hurt. It hurt less than falling on his head would have, but still.

“Hey, not nice. And Bo Duke as in the Duke boys as in Bo and Luke Duke…Dukes of Hazzard. Don’t you have any culture?” Xander asked as he reached under and rubbed his sore butt.

“Never mind me, pet. The only things I know about culture I got from soddin’ Shakespeare and Victorian literature. Musta missed the Duke boys, but if I see them, remind me to eat them for puttin’ those thoughts in your head. Spike held out a hand and pulled Xander to his feet right before popping Xander on the back of the head.

“Hey!” Xander complained. “Just having fun,” he pointed out playfully as he walked into the warehouse leaving Spike to pull the car in. The inside was dark, and without any effort, Xander switched over to his red-tinted demon vision complete with yellow glowy eyes

The sharp detail of his vision showed him a large room with one wall lined in doorways. He went over and tried the first doorknob…storage. Empty storage, well except for the legions of mice that obviously called this place home. Xander wrinkled his nose in disgust since pulling up demon vision called up demon super-smell too. Behind him, the car pulled into the big open space and then shut off again as Spike parked. Xander ignored him in favor of continuing his exploration.

“Want the door closed?”

“Yeah, and use the padlock,” Spike said with his butt up in the air and his head down near the carpet in his search for CDs. Xander had a naughty thought that almost sent his demon into apoplexy. In fact, his demon was so scandalized at the idea of taking such liberties with sire’s body that his vision dropped back into the blurry grays of normal human vision.

“Traitor,” Xander whispered to himself as he went to lock the large double doors with the bags still slung over one shoulder. “Don’t tell me you haven’t at least considered it.” He pulled the door closed and padlocked it before slowly working his way blindly back towards the car. Luckily he knew the room was empty except for the car which should be right about….he kept moving forward into the darkness expecting to feel the car at any time….any time at all….

“Ya goin’ somewhere?” Spike voice came from behind him and to the right. Xander turned as he moved slowly in the direction of the voice. “What’s the matter with your eyes, pet?” Xander now spotted the two yellow beacons that gave away Spike’s location. He adjusted and moved more confidently toward his goal.

“Baby demon got all pissy and took his toys and went home,” Xander said, and he had to smile as he watched Spike’s eyes tilt slightly. God, no wonder they’d freaked out Cordelia in that dark theater…watching vampire eyes floating in the dark was a little creepy.

“Right, well I don’t want you breakin’ your neck so you can just get your demon vision back on line right now, childe of mine,” Spike ordered, and at the word childe, Xander felt his vision shift again. Suddenly Xander could see Spike clearly even if the colors had been washed out in favor of a crystal sharpness that made even a spider web in the farthest corner visible. Spike stood with the remainder of their stuff thrown over his shoulder in a ratty old bag and a handful of CD’s stuff under his arm.

“So, this is home.”

“This is the garage, ya ninny,” Spike said as he headed for one of the doors.

“So, telephone? Television? Playstation?” Xander asked as he followed Spike into a living area and dropped his own bags next to Spike’s. The room had a stale, sour smell that Xander hoped to god would clear out with some open windows. The windows were high enough to be on the second story of a house, but he would be able to reach them from the scaffolding that ran along the inside walls and across the width of the warehouse at several points

“Telephone right there, pet.” Spike said, and Xander turned in the direction of the nod.

“God, haven’t you ever heard of cordless?” Xander asked as he walked over to the 1960’s rotary phone that hung on the wall.

“Bloody things die too fast. When you live as long as we do, ya might leave a place empty for thirty years, and ya want to come back to machines that still bloody work.” Xander picked up the handset and listened to the dial tone for a minute before putting it back down.

“Do you really think I’ll live that long?” Xander asked curiously.

“If ya don’t, I’ll turn ya,” Spike said amicably. Xander froze. Sure, his demon loved the possessiveness, the neediness in those words. The demon wanted to be with his sire forever, but Xander wasn’t so sure he felt the same. Turn him, and he suspected that the demon would be left alone. He felt a twinge as the demon growled his unhappiness at that thought.

“Oi, ya got that look on your face, so spit it out,” Spike insisted as he began opening bags and randomly tossing items on either the floor or on a long table that dominated the space.


“Don’t ‘what’ me. Ya have that look like you and the demon aren’t agreein’ on something, so just bloody spit it out.” Spike paused with a handful of CD’s and Xander opened his mouth to protest seconds before his pile of country music got dropped to the floor. Xander stepped forward in shock and horror only to see the cases had safely landed on top of a mountain of his own clothes.

“Just considering the future…the fact that I really don’t want to go soulless and evil and my demon really doesn’t want me leaving the building even though I seem to really annoy him sometimes like most of the time when I don’t do the things his little vampire brain says I should do." Xander shrugged. "And does he have his own brain or share mine? I wonder if my brain works any better for him than it does for me.”

“Do I take it from that flood of words you’re askin’ me not to turn ya.”

“That’d be it,” Xander agreed as he stared at his own boots.

“Luv,” Xander almost jumped when a hand came down on his arm. “I told ya I won’t turn ya, and I won’t unless we don’t have any other choice, but if ya start aging, I’m not goin’ to just walk away and let ya die.”

“Yeah, I get that.” And Xander did. Dead was bad, and from Spike’s point of view, totally unnecessary. But Xander didn’t really want the whole soulless gig either because he knew full well that the only reason Spike didn’t snack on random civilians was because he didn’t want to drive Xander off the old sanity cliff. If Xander was all demony, no guilt, and no guilt meant no sanity cliff, and two vampires snacking on random civilians. Yeah, so not of the good. Xander realized he had a worried expression when Spike’s hand started making small soothing circles on his forearm. He looked up.

“Then get this, I want you… the Xander Harris with the taste in clothes so bad I won’t let him pick his own and a taste in music that makes me wish I was soddin’ deaf. If it comes to turnin’ ya, we’ll go to Peaches and try to find a way to stick your soul on a little tighter than his.” Xander looked into the yellowed eyes of his lover, his sire, his teacher, and the current center of his universe and knew he was telling the truth.

“Right, if you’re insane enough to want the one who….” Xander stopped when Spike growled and his own demon squirmed in an effort not to displease master. “Um, I guess this falls under not insulting the pet, huh?”

“Falls under not insulting the favored childe of William the Bloody. So, I’ve exceeded my nancy-boy supportive shite for the evening so are we goin’ to shag or unpack?

“I vote shag,” Xander said as Spike stepped nearer and a cool hand reached under his shirt to stroke along his stomach. Xander Jr. immediately joined the party, but then Xander reached down and put his own hand on Spike’s wrist. “After I call Willow,” he amended.

“Not the answer I’m lookin’ for, pet.”

“Yeah, well unless you want me to lie in bed thinking of Willow while you… and I’m just stopping there because I am so not doing, describing, or considering sexual acts while having Willow thoughtage. That’s just wrong. I mean, she can’t even play doctor right; Jesse and I had to finish the game without her.”

“That was a few years back. My guess is that she’s learned to play doctor, especially considering what the cheerleader told us about her wolf.”

“Yeah, well I still think of her as the little freshman who cried because she came in second in the science fair and who brought a stethoscope to play doctor when we were ten. So, Willow and sex should not be thought in the same sentence, and I really need to call her before I move on to the sex part of the evening,” Xander said as he slowly backed away.

Most of the time Spike respected his space, but every once in a while Spike took his independence as a challenge to pin him to the nearest flat surface, not that he minded, but he really did want to call Willow. Maybe Spike could see that he wanted the time with his friend because his sire just threw him a salacious look before turning back to the table.

“Right, I’ll just be puttin’ my kit up. Bedroom’s through there,” Spike laughed, and Xander realized that he was lucky that Spike was used to insane lovers because giving up shagging time to call someone he hadn’t talked to in years actually did make him a little nuts.

And why was he suddenly afraid of calling? Okay, reason one was that Willow was friends with a vampire slayer, and that wasn’t really of the good considering he was sleeping with a vampire, sleeping with two vampires if you counted the one shoved in his head, but then again Willow had been friends with Angel and had even been supportive through the whole soulless sending the world to hell incident. Besides, this was Willow. How much could have changed in three years? What could go wrong considering they’d been friends for ten years?

Considering that he was standing on a literal Hellmouth, Xander bit his lip and reminded himself to not even think hypothetic questions like that.

Part Two

Xander reached into his pocket and pulled out the number Cordelia had given him. He watched the rotary dialer click counter-clockwise after every number, which gave him just about enough time to start panicking. He'd known Gunn for years, and he couldn't accept Xander. And Willow might date a werewolf, but Xander had his demon groove on more than three nights a month. He almost hung up when the other end started ringing.

“Hello?” a timid voice answered.

“Willow?” Xander asked hesitantly.

“No, just a minute,” offered the voice, and Xander waited.

“Hello?” Willow finally answered, or at least the voice sounded Willowish only deeper, and louder, and distinctly unWillowish.

“Willow?” Xander asked uncertainly.


“It’s Xander.”

“Xander? Xander Harris? Oh my goddess, Xander Harris. It’s Xander from Jr. High,” Willow practically squealed, and he assumed she was talking to the other person in her room because he really didn’t need reminding. Well, he didn’t need reminding most of the time, and really there wasn’t any way for her to know that he occasionally needed reminding about who he was unless she’d talked to Cordelia. And Cordy had pinky promised not to tell about the whole inner demon thing. And when had Jewish Willow Rosenberg started talking about goddesses? He didn’t think her rabbi would be amused.

“Yeah, it’s me,” he offered when the squeals had died down. He reined in his urge to nervous babble since he had lots of stuff he didn't want to babble about to her, and suddenly he wished they hadn't come to Sunnydale. He wasn't sure he even knew this person.

“Oh goddess, where have you been? I tried to call you back after that fight and your phone was disconnected and the letter I sent got returned and why can’t you just be on the Internet like normal people, and I so did not mean that to come out as bitchy as that just sounded because I am so happy to hear your voice, and I totally don’t want to make you disappear again.” Xander could hear soft voices in the background. He guessed that the other woman was talking to Willow, probably about the need to breathe.

“Wow, did Willow Rosenberg just say ‘bitch’? Isn’t that against your geek code or something?” Xander asked. “I thought I was the bad boy rebel in the group.”

“You can be any part of the group you want if you want, and I’m not talking well tonight…too many midterms and lattes I think. And how did you get my dorm number? Did you call my parents?” Willow’s voice suddenly took on a brittle edge and Xander wondered what the story was behind that, but considering his own parental history, he understood the desire to keep friends and parents separate. Separate rooms, preferably separate cities, if possible, separate continents. After Spike had responded to his own mother’s none too subtle hints about safe sex with a detailed description of a sexual act, yep, he got the whole separation of friends and parents idea.

“I ran into a certain cheerleader on stakage duty,” Xander said. He knew that she knew about vampires, but he didn’t know if she knew that he knew, and he really didn’t know if the other woman knew at all.

“You mean stagage as in her big acting career with the audience and the stage?” Willow asked suspiciously.

“Nope, stakage as in wooden pointy things. She’s taken up with Angel, or she’s taken over Angel, I’m not sure which.” Xander’s demon grumbled again in clear dislike for the woman, but Xander had to admire anyone who could so completely terrify full grown men and Master vampires.

“Angel? You know Angel? Wait, Cordelia’s working for Angel?” That was the same old confuzzled Willow voice; Xander could almost see her expression with wide eyes and a confused wrinkle between her eyes. Xander smiled as he found things hadn't changed all that much.

“Hey, two vampire hunters wandering around L.A.: we’re bound to run into each other sooner or later, and how could I forget Cordelia Chase although I might have let it slip that we had the whole ‘I hate Cordelia Chase’ club thing, so you might want to avoid talking to her for a while,” Xander confessed with a short laugh.

“Vampire hunter? Xander? Oh goddess, I’m confused.”

“Um, Willow, do you mean to be using the “v” word with someone else in the room?”

“What? Oh, Tara. It’s fine; she knows all about vampires. Tara and I live together…I mean roommates, like collegy type roommates what with the dorm.” Willow stopped suddenly and Xander swore he could hear her blush. It couldn’t be. Xander waited, unsure what to say in the face of a possible revelation, or not a revelation. Maybe everyone else knew and she was hiding it from him. Or maybe he was just trying to make the whole world gay after his own gay revelation. “Tara helps with the whole slayage thing; she has some magic. Actually, she has a lot of magic.”

“Like with the witchiness?" Xander tried to get his mind around Willow being down with the magic. Yeah, Cordelia had explained about Willow and the whole spell-gone-wrong that turned Angelus loose, but Xander had this image of 14-year-old Willow accidentally reading a spell out loud. Hanging with a witch made her seem, well, even un-Willowish.

"Um, yeah. You know she and I kinda met in the whole wiccan group, and most of the wiccans are more like Catholics only with the 'blessed be' instead of the… well, whatever Catholics say, but you know, into the ceremony. She and I are more into the magic."

"So you do the witchiness, too. Very cool. Now you have someone to practice spells with.” Xander had only meant to be supportive, but the sudden choking on the other end made him worry that he had just said exactly the wrong thing.

“Um, yeah, right. So, where are you calling from?” Xander heard her dismissal and knew that he wasn’t understanding something. He knew the science-nerd Willow, the Willow who had a crush on Rob Lowe and Albert Einstein, the Willow who played doctor with lab tests and stethoscopes. This Willow with her magic and her Tara….he didn’t know this Willow.

“I’m passing through town with a friend, and I thought we might touch base,” Xander offered, suddenly unsure about meeting.

“You’re in Sunnydale? At the hotel?” Willow’s voice back to bouncing.

“Um, actually staying with a friend of a friend kinda thing. We just pulled in and I’m totally exhausted.”

“Oh, so can you meet tomorrow?” Willow asked, and Xander couldn’t take the uncertainty in her voice. Right, no running without making at least one token visit. Then maybe he should consider Spike's suggestion they wander China.

“Of course, that’s why I’m calling you. I thought we might be able to get together after I catch some sleep. Maybe sevenish at the Bronze?” The silence reminded Xander that he didn’t know Willow the way he had because he couldn’t figure out why she was hesitating.

“Can we make it four?” Willow finally asked. Xander glanced toward the bedroom where Spike slept. He hadn’t been out of the lair alone since Spike had totally blown a gasket over his taking on a roomful of vampires. Honestly he hadn’t asked to go because he really didn’t want to hear Spike’s answer. If Spike said ‘no’ then he would have to deal with knowing that he wasn’t allowed out of the lair, and he wasn’t sure what his reaction would be. Realizing that he had let the silence go on too long, Xander tried his best to sound cheerful.

“I’m really tired and I have some work to do around the place…sorta my way of paying rent. Can we make it 5?” Xander knew that he might have to cancel what with 5 still being well before sunset, but maybe he could convince Spike to let him go.

“I’ll meet you out front; it can be so hard to find people inside,” Willow bubbled, but Xander could hear the strain.

“You think I’m a vampire,” Xander said even as the realization hit him.

“I didn’t say that. Xander I would never accuse you, and I really want us to catch up, just two old friends telling each other everything that’s happened in the past few years.” Xander didn’t miss the fact that she wasn’t denying it, just claiming that she would never be so rude as to say it.

Of course he was also kinda leaving out the part where he was part vampire, but really, it’s not like he was going to kill her fish or something. Xander nearly giggled at that story, and no it wasn’t funny. He just couldn’t get over a sadistic Master vampire like Angelus going after fish. Of course baby Aurelius was a little less amused with his comments on the master of the line, and Xander’s vision wavered between vampire and human.

“Fine, broad daylight it is. Feel free to bring your crucifixes and holy water because I know I keep mine handy. So, I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. And Xander?” Willow paused. “I’m really happy to hear from you. I’ve missed you.”

“Me too,” Xander agreed before they both said goodbye. Xander hung up the phone and stood with his hand resting on it. Why had he come here? He couldn’t make things go back to the way they were. He couldn’t get back the three Musketeers: one was dead, one had a baby vampire in him, and the third had grown very suspicious over the years.

Xander slowly turned and started walking back towards the bedroom. His sharp-eyed vision had stabilized was now drawn to a corner where a mouse trusted the darkness in the room to run the length of one wall and then stop and look around. Xander reached the table and picked up a heavy book as he considered the creature. The mouse, utterly secure in the knowledge that no human could see in the dark turned small eyes towards him, and Xander stood with the book in his hand before he finally put the book back down on the table with a sigh.

He wandered into the bedroom, and Spike lay sprawled face down in the middle of a four-poster bed, and Xander started shedding clothes as he crossed the large room. By the time he pulled the covers down revealing Spike’s body and started climbing in bed, he was naked and fully expected Spike to jump him.

Instead, Spike rolled to one side and reached around his waist, pulling him into an embrace. Xander found himself struggling to hold off tears that didn’t seem to make much sense, and Spike only pulled him closer, wrapping a leg around him.

“It’s stupid; I don’t know why I’m so upset,” Xander finally said as he pushed the tears back to a point that he didn’t have to worry about actually crying.

“It’s alright, pet. You lost the Willow that was yours; she disappeared under this stranger who sounds a mite bit more suspicious.”

“You heard.”

“Yeah, still evil pet. I don’t exactly feel bad about eavesdropping.” Xander would have gotten angry over the lack of privacy, but the fact is that he was just relieved to not have to explain it all.

“So, can I go?” Xander suddenly flashed on being five years old and asking permission to go visit Jesse.

“Yeah, as long as ya stay put until I come and get ya. Don’t want ya wander around the Hellmouth after dark. We’ll go visit the court after you see your friend.”

“Thanks.” Xander tried to keep the frustration out of his voice, but he knew he’d failed miserably when Spike’s arms gave a quick squeeze.

“Oi, what’s got your knickers in a twist, not that you’re wearin’ any knickers, mind you. You look good all knickerless.”


“Don’t lie, pet. Shouldn’t ever lie to your sire.” The arms gave another warning squeeze.

“Right,” Xander answered sarcastically, “like you never lie to Angel?”

“Angel’s not my soddin’ sire; he never did anything a sire does, except maybe make my unlife miserable on those occasions when we met. But enough about Angel, I asked ya a question, pet.” Xander lay in silence and tried to figure out his words before he started babbling and got himself in hot water. When he pissed off Spike, both Spike and his inner demon got all cranky, and having a cranky brainmate was not of the good.

“Okay, don’t take this the way my mother did when I was twelve and said this, but I really am too old to have to ask permission just to go out with friends.”

“We’re on a Hellmouth, luv. Don’t really want you wandering around after dark considering the kind of nasties you could run into.”

“Willow seems to be doing just fine,” Xander replied about two seconds before his brain pointed out that this exact argument hadn’t worked on his mother, either.

“She’s a witch, pet: a witch who works with a slayer.”

“And I’m half vampire.”

“With only half control of your bloody senses. Don’t want you out there when that demon of yours gets angry and stops workin’ for ya. If this were New York, and ya wanted to walk the park at night, I'd give ya a new knife and tell ya not to get the muggers' blood on your shirt, but this is Sunnyhell, pet. Now I’m a good deal older and a hell of a lot cannier than you, so ya won’t go out without tellin’ me where you’re going and ya won’t go outside after dark alone.”

“I’m not that young,” Xander complained.

“Compared to me, ya are. What’s more, you’re my childe.”

“And we're back to the squicky incest thing, so can we please not bring up anything else that leaves me with a lingering need for therapy?”

“Soddin’ human,” Spike guffawed in his ear, and Xander expected the naughty touching to commence. Instead Spike just shifted and pulled him closer before starting to purr. Xander heard the low rumbling sound and let himself sink into the demon’s contentment as his own purr began in response. Willow could wait, his frustration could wait because as long as he was curled in his sire’s arms, all was well with the world.


Xander woke to the sound of punk music being blasted out of a tiny radio obviously not up to the task. He winced when a particularly loud, high note made the speaker screech and whine.

“Oh my god, what are you trying to do, kill me?” Xander clutched his ears as he curled up and tried to block out the noise. The volume dropped and Xander opened his eyes to consider his smirking sire.

“Bloody bored waitin’ for you to wake up, haven’t you slept enough yet?” Spike asked.

“This is incontrovertible proof that you are evil,” Xander moaned as he started to roll out of bed.

“Never said I wasn’t pet. So, you ready to train?” Still naked, Xander started pulling doors open in search of a bathroom. After two closets and another room infested with mice he finally found it. It was a much smaller room than before, but most of the room was taken up by a claw foot bath that was a near replica of the one they’d left in L.A.

“Pee first, train later, and do you have some sort of bath fetish I don’t know about?” Xander asked as he stuck his head around the corner. Spike was dressed in just black jeans, the top button open and straddling a bench as he polished a sword. He looked up with those beautiful blue eyes and snorted. Xander pulled his head back and took his cock in hand in front of the toilet.

“You try growin’ up in a city full of factories during an age when bathin’ wasn't on the agenda for the working classes," Spike shouted over the sound of the Xander peeing. "No wonder Darla wanted ta hunt in the fancy homes. One time, Dru dragged me down to a poor section of town, trailing this sewin' girl, and I don't know how Dru managed to feed with the stink. Whole sections of London stunk of factory grit and body odor, so I appreciate hot running water thank you very much ya git. So, you ready yet?”

“Still peeing, as you obviously know unless your horrible music has caused permanent hearing damage.” Xander yelled back. When his bladder finally emptied, he started the water running into the bath as he slipped on the robe that had appeared on the back of the door. Xander had no more than reached the open bathroom door when a movement out of the corner of his eye made him throw himself backwards moments before a heavy object swung through the air inches from his body.

Xander’s bare feet slipped on the floor, and he wind-milled his hands trying to regain his balance before catching the edge of the counter. Spike appeared in the doorway with a long wooden staff in his hand and a wicked smile on his face that made his cheekbones stand out in even more sharp lines.

“That the best ya got, pet?” Spike challenged him in a fierce voice.

“Spike?” Xander demanded in a girly squeak. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Um, Spike… huh?” Xander stood in the bathroom with his heart pounding in his ears. His demon vision had fled the minute he saw Spike, but now it flickered in and out making a whole disco ball effect against the white tile. Spike stood leaning against the side of the open door with a hip thrown out casually and his bare chest thrown out and the staff held casually in one hand.

“Here’s the deal, pet. You get past me and you can visit your little friend. You lose and you’ll just have to wait until sundown so I can escort ya like a good little fledge.”

Part Three

Xander narrowed his eyes in challenge. “You already said I could go.”

“Yeah, and I’m evil. Don’t have to keep my word, do I?” Spike unexpectedly brought the bottom of the staff up so that Xander made a manly squeak as he danced backwards to avoid a hit on a part of his body he’d grown particularly fond of. Well, if Spike wanted to play, Xander’d play. He’d get his ass kicked, but he’d play.

Xander threw himself forward once the staff hit the olive green linoleum floor. He aimed a quick punch at Spike’s face: In and out just like Spike had taught him. When Spike pulled back, Xander brought his foot down on the staff hoping to either break the staff or force it out of Spike’s hand. Instead he ended up losing his balance as Spike brought the staff up and threw him to the side. In fact, he barely caught himself on the counter and now his vision had gone all red.

Right. Time to get out of the wet slippery bathroom. Xander threw himself forward so that he and Spike tumbled to the floor of the bedroom in one heap. Xander used his momentum to spring back up onto his feet, just like Spike had taught him, only Spike moved a little faster. By the time he got up, Spike was reaching for him.

Xander scurried to the side, his bare feet slapping across the cold concrete as he dashed out of the bedroom and into the more open dining room. Shit he was cold. Of course running around naked could do that, but he didn’t have too much time to worry about it as heavy boots followed him into the room. He scanned the room for weapons even as he continued fleeing and threw a tall chair behind him without looking.

From the snarled curses, he guessed that he had at least slowed Spike, but it wouldn’t stop him for long. Xander rounded the table and gave another chair a glance, but it was really too large and heavy for him to use as a weapon.

Pipe. That was more like it. Xander dashed over to the far side of the room and grabbed a three foot length of pipe before turning to face a game faced Spike. Xander’s weapon dipped for a moment in surprise, and before he knew it, Xander found himself hitting the floor with enough force to drive what little air he had in his lungs right out again.

Laying on the floor with his damp skin clammy against the cold concrete, Xander realized two things: he was not so good at taking care of himself and they really needed to buy some area rugs. He panted heavily, but Spike stood over him, pressing the end of his staff into Xander's flesh and looking completely composed. The pipe lay on the ground a couple of feet away, and Xander flinched when he realized he’d dropped his weapon.

“So, guess that means you’ll call your little friend and tell her you’ll be late,” Spike said. Xander glared up.

He expected a smug expression, maybe even a sneer. Instead he saw open relief, the kind his mother got when she’d showed up at the hospital to find him in one piece after getting jumped by three older kids at school. The kind Alonna got after he tried to save her and nearly ended up vamp food himself. The kind Gunn got when he’d found out Xander was still alive after being missing for a few days. For a moment he considered just laying there, but he hadn’t been willing to give up his life before, and he wasn’t going to do it now.

“Fine you welsher. Big old Indian giver,” Xander pouted as Spike looked down with a raised eyebrow.

“Got any more ethnic groups you’d like to insult then?” Spike asked as he moved the staff to rest on the floor and held out a hand.

“Just the stupid old English,” Xander said as he grabbed the hand and pulled down just as he swept Spike’s legs out from under him with a swift kick. Spike collapsed into a heap on Xander, and Xander pushed the vampire off his own body as he sprang for his own pipe. Spike snarled but hadn’t made it to his feet when Xander landed square on Spike’s back, metal pipe on the back of Spike’s neck.

“Oi, that's cheatin’,” Spike hissed.

“Oh yeah, and I can’t figure out where I learned that,” Xander answered as he pushed the pipe against the back of his master’s neck. His baby demon was now totally withdrawn and whimpering in some corner of his mind, and the warehouse was dim with dust particles floating through pathetic rays of light coming from the few bulbs still working in the overhead lighting. “So, am I going to meet Willow?” Xander asked.

“Yeah, ya are. You earned it,” Spike said, and Xander looked down suspiciously. That seemed just too easy. He hadn’t figured out the angle Spike was playing before he felt a hand at his knee and suddenly he lost his balance as his one leg was pulled toward Spike’s head and Xander had to put his hands palm down on the concrete to keep from putting his face down on it.

The minute he let go of his weapon, he knew he’d lost. Spike slipped out from under him and flipped him as easily as a dead fish and now Xander found himself under Spike, the vampire straddling him and his hands held in a supernaturally strong grip.

“Shit,” Xander swore. “Yeah, yeah. I’ll call Willow.” Xander felt a need to push Spike off and storm out of the warehouse even though he knew his chance of making it to the door was somewhere between zero and nada. Even worse, his demon now sent up distress signals at the thought of defying sire, and Xander closed his eyes as he tried to remind himself that he didn’t have to feel what his demon felt. He had a perfect right to be pissed as hell at Spike even if he wasn’t strong enough to do anything about it.


“I said I’ll call Willow, don’t push it right now Spike.”

“Pet, open your eyes.” Xander had opened his eyes before he even realized what he was doing.

“What?” Xander asked, his voice sounding brittle and sharp even to his own ears. Spike stared down at him and he stared right back for several minutes.

“You can go, but you take a full set of weapons and you watch your back.” Spike finally said quietly as he sat up. He now straddled Xander, but at least Xander’s hands were free so he could push himself up on his elbows.

“What?” he asked in a completely different tone of voice. Now he was just confused. He could go, he couldn’t go, he could go. God, it was like living with both his parents again.

“But I catch you outside the Bronze after dark and I’ll bloody strip the skin from your back,” Spike said in a far stronger tone, one that promised to carry through on that promise, and oh yes, this was the Spike he knew.

“Right. No wandering the Hellmouth after dark,” Xander agreed. Spike stood and held out his hand again, and this time Xander allowed Spike to help him up.

“Next time you go attacking me, do you think you could let me get dressed first?” Xander complained as he headed for the bedroom and thank god Spike wasn’t into having minions around.

“Need to learn to keep your guard up.”

“Hard to let it down with an insane roommate.” And there goes baby demon. Xander groaned when the demon squirmed even more at being called baby. This was a Hellmouth; certainly they had a psychiatrist who could handle demonic insanity. If not his two favorite demons were about to drive him crazy.

"Right, because you have the corner on sanity," Spike snorted.

"Oh please. I'm about as sane as that guy who made the singing cop show. That was really dumb—who wants to see cops break down and start singing in the middle of arresting the gang members?"

"You… what?" Spike asked, turning to stare.

"Once again, you need to watch more television, Spike."

"Oi, after hearing you talk, I'm thinking I need ta cut you off."

"Oh my god, you really are turning into my mother," Xander complained as he started grabbing clothes out of the closet. "And really, that statement is the biggest ew yet. No thinking mother thoughts when naked," Xander shivered.

"Thought ya wanted to avoid Willow thoughts when naked, pet."

"Stop, stop, stop. Willow, Mother, and Barney are all off the list of approved naked talk."

"Barney?" Spike asked, settling in on the bed as Xander pulled on black jeans.

"Only half dressed here, no non-approved naked talk." Xander jumped a little to get the jeans settled in place. Really he needed to either convince Spike to buy a larger size or lose weight. Spike might look good in jeans this tight, but he really didn't think the look did much on him, well much in the looking-good way. It definitely did a lot in the endangering his future chances of having children. Xander zipped the pants up and then tugged at the crotch to try and give Xander Jr. enough room to avoid permanent damage.

Xander glanced up, and lost his breath as Xander Jr. grew to a size not possible in the tight jeans. Spike lay naked on the bed with one leg bent and a hand idly playing with his balls. His nose flared and then he smirked, and Xander cursed vampire noses that made his lust even more embarrassing than it had been in eleventh grade when he got a stiffy every time Mrs. Reynolds had walked by him in her miniskirt. He'd spent most of math class with his book over his lap, but with Spike, books didn't exactly help.

"Sure you want to leave? Could just wait until dark and have a few hours to ourselves, pet," Spike offered. Spike’s face morphed into something approximating innocent and cheery, but Xander just laughed.

“Doesn’t work on me, I know full well you use that expression when you’re killing demons, so it’s a little less than comforting.”

"Let you take the driver's seat for a bit then. Let you play with sire."

Xander could feel his demon surge forward at the suggestion, and he closed his eyes as he had a little private war over who got custody of Xander Jr. and the rest of the limbs. Earlier, Xander's impromptu admiration for Spike's ass had sent baby Aurelius into shock, but with sire offering, the demon just wanted to make sire feel good… please sire. Xander struggled as he fought back with his need to see Willow. He needed to be allowed out of the lair, and that meant being able to walk down the street without Spike or some bouncer Spike had intimidated two feet away.

"Spike, you're killing me here. I made plans with Willow, and I'm going to go meet her, but if you don't stop doing that, Xander Jr. is going to break, and then you won't have your favorite toy to play with."

"Havin' a problem, pet?" Xander cracked open one eye and Spike's hand had moved up to the shaft of his cock. Xander groaned.

"Nothing some ice and a stake wouldn't cure," Xander quipped. The surge of panic and fear that rolled through him made him put out a hand to brace himself on the door jam as he tried to not fall to his knees. Before he could catch his breath, strong hands braced him, Spike's arm sliding around his waist and taking his weight.

"Maybe you'd best stay in, luv, not lookin' so good."

"I'd look better if my silly sire wouldn't tease me into having every blood cell in my body abandon my brain," Xander pointed out as he felt his heart slowly regain its steady beat. "My brain struggles enough without the sudden blood loss when Xander Jr. hijacks the stuff at the pass."

"Let's just get you on the bed," Spike half carried, half guided, and Xander let himself be settled on the bed as he struggled to blink the world into focus.

"I'm still going," he complained.

"If ya can walk," Spike said sarcastically, but Xander felt cool hands brush the curls back out of his face as his body slowly settled into something that felt pretty close to normal, or at least as normal as he got these days.

"Oh, I'll walk. This is Willow we're talking about… the girl who I shared crayons with, the girl whose Barbies I stole, the one who used to give me the cookie out of her lunch. When things got weird over the phone, I thought she…" Xander stopped, trying to figure out a way to not sound too pathetic. "I just need to know she's still a friend," Xander finally whispered. Spike's hands stopped. Without answering, Spike went over to the closet and pulled out a shirt before handing it to him.

"Pet, ya have to understand something," Spike said seriously. Xander looked up from the deep green silk to the blue eyes of his lover. "If she hurts ya, I won't treat her any different from anyone else. Her bein' friends with the slayer makes things a little awkward, but if somethin' gets out of hand, you make sure that the witches and the slayer know what would happen if it came down to a fight."

Xander froze, his arm half in the shirt as the words sunk in. "Spike," he said softly.

"No," Spike held up his hand. "Promise me if somethin' happens, if the slayer shows up with a wild hair up her arse, you remember that your life means something, and you make sure they know the price of lettin' you get hurt."

"You think it’s a trap," Xander said softly.

"I think I've taken down my share of slayers. If Angel called—"

"He wouldn't do that," Xander hurried to say as he pulled the shirt on and started buttoning.

"Not ta get me staked, but I can see the wanker calling them just to let them know I'm in town and that he and I have a truce. But if he's talked to the slayer or the watcher, I'm not so sure they're going to want a truce."

"And you think they'd use me as bait." Xander hated the thought of Willow doing that to him, but even over the phone he could feel the changes. In all honesty, he didn't know her any more.

"If they grab you, just sit tight," Spike said seriously, and Xander could feel a knot in his stomach. "Not going to kill your little friend or do somethin' to make the Pouf's hair fall out," Spike promised as he reached out and played with a curl. "And I don't want you doin' anything to make things turn rough. If things go pear-shaped, you just nod and go along, and I'll get Peaches to sort it out."

"You'd call Angel?" Xander said as he looked up in surprise.

"To keep my childe safe, I'd even call Darla."

"You're only saying that because she's dust," Xander tried joking, but Spike didn't laugh, and Xander fell quiet in the deep silence. "Right, if I get taken as a hostage, be a good little hostage and wait for Angel," Xander nodded. "And suddenly I'm wondering why you're letting me go." Xander glanced up at Spike in confusion. "I mean, you'd walk me to work at Safari and deliver me to Carlos for babysitting."

"Different then, wasn't it?"

"Um, no."

Spike sighed as sat on the bed, his hand going to Xander's knee. "Back then, thought you were a pet, thought ya had a bit of demon in ya."

"And now you know I have a full demon for a brainmate."

"Well, yeah. You're a childe, got ta let you fight some of your own battles. But," Spike flashed into gameface and slipped a hand behind Xander's neck. "Ya keep your fightin' to just talking or I will be showing ya how cranky your sire can get."

Xander started laughing softly. "God, Spike, you're starting to sound like me. But I'll keep the fighting to talking, scout's honor."

"Right, get your arse in gear then, need ta unpack and accidentally drop your soddin' CD's into the sewers."

"Uh-huh," Xander nodded disbelievingly. "I'll see you after dark." He ignored Spike's threats against his country music greats as he stood up and grabbed his boots. Once he'd slipped those on, he added the various weapons that went everywhere with him now. Taking one last look at Spike who sat on the bed watching with yellow eyes, Xander turned and headed for the door. For the first time, he was going to be out there without a keeper two feet away. He just really, really hoped Spike was wrong about Willow, because otherwise Spike might not ever let him out of the lair alone again. Well, that and he would really be hurt that the girl who'd shared his crayons vamp-napped him.

Part Four

Spike slipped out of the sewers into the deep shade of the shadow behind the Bronze. A younger vampire growled briefly, and he flashed a bit of fang to shut the wanker up as he used a rag from one of his pockets to wipe some muck off his sleeve. A huge part of him wanted to charge into the club and grab his childe, but Spike clenched his teeth and forced himself to calmly leap to the first landing of the fire escape before climbing up the rattling metal ladder.

A vampire childe stayed at his sire's side for a decade or more, but Xander had human bits that Spike was a little too fond of, and those human bits meant he had to give his boy some room. Pushing in an upper window, Spike ignored the strange looks a few people gave him as he straightened his coat and wandered into the dark club.

Music throbbed through his bones, and a spidery feeling crawling up his back made him snarl at a couple of hunting vamps, warning them that the Big Bad wouldn't take any shite. For a second, a male held his gaze before lowering his eyes to the floor and a small blonde girl ducked her head and growled back before heading for the window Spike had just crawled in. Great. They really had to make nice with the Anointed One now that he'd been seen.

Another day, Spike might have followed the disrespectful female either to drain her for annoying him with her feeble challenge or to fuck her senselessly happy. Now he focused on the main floor below him, searching the dark corners he knew his childe would instinctively seek. When the tightening in his gut warned him of a slayer, Spike gripped the metal rail just to keep himself from vamping out and charging through the crowd toward his Xander who sat at a table in the middle of the room.

Three women sat with him, and Spike took only a second to identify the dark haired woman who kept looking around with sharp eyes. The slayer. Spike could feel the metal bend under his hands. Right. Pouf had warned him that the witch was tight with the slayer, so Spike had known she might turn up. Of course, that didn't make him any less homicidal at the sight of the slayer near his childe, but he did manage to keep himself from ripping the bint's neck out as he concentrated on the conversation.

"… looked about ninety and I raised my stake, but just then I started coughing and the stake slipped so that when the point hit the vamp's coat, the stake actually flew out of my hand and back behind me," Xander shrugged and made little self-deprecating noises. Spike rolled his eyes at Xander telling that particular story when the boy had dozens of others where he'd saved the day. 'Course, he did want to give the human side more chance to come forward, and Spike was definitely hearing the human side of Xander right now.

"First rule of slayin', hold on to the stake," the slayer, Faith, laughed. Spike growled and a goth girl who'd been sizing him up started sliding back away.

"Oh goddess, you could have been killed," the red-haired one gasped, and Spike identified the voice as Willow.

"Nah, Gunn and the guys were there," Xander shrugged, and Spike watched as the boy picked up a peanut and pulled the shell open with a thumbnail. Even from here, Spike could see the distress.

"Thought the big-A said you hung with a hunter named William," Faith said, her eyes now focused on Xander.

He shrugged. "Gunn and me… we kinda had a falling out. Like off a cliff without a parachute falling out. Or if we had a parachute, one of us forgot to pull the ripcord, and I'm thinking I've run out of steam with this particular metaphor."

"Steamage gone," Willow agreed.

"Hey, it's five-by-five. Those things happen," Faith reassured him, and Spike consciously loosened his grip on the guard rail. Faith shrugged and put out a hand that barely touched Xander's arm. Spike watched as Xander flinched away, but Faith didn't seem to notice. "If you want to hunt with us, you're more than welcome, but you better not try hunting the Hellmouth on your own."

"Trust me, solo hunting is not in the future. William is a little…" Xander struggled to find a word, "overprotective," he finally settled on.

"Well, duh," Willow said as she laid her hand on his arm. "Vampire hunting is dangerous, big with the biting and bleeding and dying, and overprotective is good."

"Even for big, bad witchy girls? So, do you twitch your noses? Or, hey, I would really love to see the whole broomstick trick," Xander teased.

"Xander," Willow complained with a mock punch that sent Spike to the top of the staircase. But then she turned away, silent. Faith stared at the table, and the blonde just kept fiddling with her fingers. Despite the loud music and various conversations, Spike could hear the silence over that table.

"Willow doesn't do much m-magic," the blonde whispered. Spike tilted his head. Angel had explained how Willow re-souled him, a feat that sent tendrils of fear down Spike's backbone and suggested the little witch had access to some big mojo, which added to little fear feet running up and down his backbone.

Spike turned his back to the table and cracked his back as he tried to force down the fear for both his own soulless and undusty state and for his childe. Normally, his reaction to fear was to kill, but he'd spent enough time with insane lovers. Besides, the human soul had chosen him, fought for him, even when the demon in him lusted after Cassidy. Spike smiled at the thought of someone fighting so hard for him, and the goth girl from earlier eyed him curiously from across the dark room. He ignored her as he concentrated on the conversation from below.

"I'm thinking I just opened mouth and inserted both my feet and possibly the foot of some random passer-byer who must be wondering where his foot is," Xander babbled.

"Nah, 'Lo just keeps it close to the vest. She don't want the world knowing just how fine her witchy self is."

Another silence fell, and Spike lowered his head and gave a wicked smile that made the goth girl slide closer. Her white hair had black tips, and dark eye makeup circled her eyes. Spike let the tip of his tongue appear from between his lips as he played with his prey. He wouldn't make a kill this close to a slayer, but at least the hunt satisfied his need to do something. Something other than charge down the steps and rip Xander away from the humans who…

Spike paused even in his own thoughts. Truth was, they were pulling out the human, babbling Xander who Spike feared he was losing. The goth girl shimmied her body, making her long black skirt slit up to her privates swirl, and the silver beads at her waist tinkle. Absent-mindedly luring the prey, Spike rippled his own body even as he listened to the conversation.

"I just mainly stick to the wicca with the non-magical type blessings. Sometimes I might do a simple spell with Tara or Giles, but—" Willow stopped. The noise of the club pressed in against their silence.

"And hey, how about those Oakland Chargers?" Xander asked with obviously false enthusiasm.

"Raiders," Faith said.

"What? Where?" Xander's voice had a hint of panic that made Spike spin around and search the floor for danger.

"Oakland Raiders. Hey, look, we don't need to get so strung out here. 'Lo just gets all weird and guilt-ridden about the magics. We all have our issues. I know I do this weird chicken dance when I get drunk, so let's just avoid the subjects of magic and chickens," the Slayer suggested sharply.

"Willow, I didn't mean,"

"No, Xander, it's okay. Let's not get all weird, and even though Faith is right about the disturbing drunk chicken dancing, I'm okay with the magic. I just know that I can't really do the big spells."

"Two words. De. Nile," Faith insisted, and silence fell again. Spike felt a warm hand run up the back of his coat, and he stood still as the prey stalked him.

"Has Willow told you the zoo story?" the third girl broke in.

"Zoos. I like zoos. I like the monkeys at the zoos, even if they do have a bad habit of throwing their own poo. Poo-throwage can provide some quality entertainment as long as I'm out of firing range," Xander quickly agreed.

"This is really embarrassing," Willow insisted, and even from his spot on the balcony, Spike could still see her blush. "There was this whole field trip, and Wendell and I saw some of the bullies chase this kid into the hyena house, so we went in there to play savior, and yeah, me and saving people is just not a good combination, because Wendell and I got zapped with these hyena spirits that made us dress really bad and so some serious therapy-worthy things."

"Wendell? Spider geek Wendell?" Xander demanded. "God, you had a crush on him in second grade when he did the book report on that huge book with no pictures."

"You remember that? Of course, I had an even bigger crush on you after you let Larry beat you up instead of letting me give him my lunch money."

Now Spike could see Xander blush. A heat gathered in Spike's stomach that had nothing to do with the warm hands caressing his back. The room tilted into the sharp edged vision of the demon, and he concentrated on Xander. If the girl made one move on his childe, Spike was dragging Xander to Latvia.

"That was a long time ago," he whispered. Spike watched as Willow nodded and reached out her hand for the third girl, the blonde, curling their fingers together.

Another awkward silence left everyone but Faith staring at the table. Spike forced his demon back under when her wary gaze traveled the crowds and the balconies. Spike turned and looked at his admirer, the way her long neck curved into a tiny face that would crack if Spike grabbed it. His demon sent up images of pulling her body to his and sinking his fangs so deeply into the flesh that skin popped and blood gushed. Despite the thrill of pleasure he took from just the fantasy, Spike slipped a hand around the prey's waist and avoided ripping and breaking her.

"So, when are we going to meet this William of yours?" Spike started moving to the music, swaying his body as he pulled the goth girl closer. The girl's arms wrapped around his arms, and Spike let his body continue on the familiar seductive hunt without actually paying the bint in his arms much actual attention.

"Um, well, I don't really, he's really busy—really, really busy with, um, stuff," Xander babbled. Spike let his eyes fall shut in frustration. Well, he wanted the human, and he'd just gotten the human side of Xander. If the girls weren't suspicious before, they'd have to be idiots to not see through that choice bit of blather.

"Xander?" Willow asked.

"It's just, hey, how about those Oakland Raiders?" he babbled.

"Not that I mind some sports talk, since any excuse for guys to slap each other on the ass is five-by-five with me, but why do I get the feeling you're hiding something?" Spike let his head rest on the goth-girl's shoulder as he tensed for a possible fight. Takin' out the slayer before making nice with the court would put certain people in a paddy, but he'd deal with that later… when he had Xander chained in the lair and the door cemented shut.

"Well, it's just…. Okay, honestly?" Xander paused, and Spike edged toward the top of the stairs, the girl's body still plastered to his own as they writhed in tandem. "My mom was sorta not okay with the gay thing, either that, or she was not okay with the S-William thing. Of course, he did tell Mom that she'd raised one hell of a pushy little bastard, so that might not have gotten them off on the right foot. And then her with the whole suggestion that he looked like one of those sad little boys who dressed up to look like their favorite rock star. Yeah, not of the good. So, any chance we can skip a repeat because William's a little hard to get to know, and he'd insult you, and you'd insult him back, and then there would be hard feelings and possibly hard concrete and concussions, and I'd rather skip that part."

Xander stopped to catch his breath, and Spike nearly laughed as he pulled the goth girl's body close with a hand at the small of her back. She gasped and smelled of pheromones so strongly that Spike was tempted to sneak in for a quick mouthful of blood.

"Hey, if you like man-meat, I got no problems, well, not unless you go humping on some guy I'm eyeing up."

"And I'm thinking 'no' on so many levels, the first being 'ew,' and the second being that William is the jealous sort," Xander hurried to promise the slayer, and Spike jerked the girl to him harder as he felt pride at his boy's ability to talk his way out of a meeting.

"Right, so I've got to go hunt down some vamps. Feelin' lucky tonight," Faith said, and Spike twirled his dance partner so he could watch over the girl's shoulder as Faith stood up.

She had all the right curves for a slayer, larger and more powerful looking than the first slayer he took, but her body had that same cat-like quality. Spike felt a desire to throw himself against her, to prove himself by drinking her blood and feeling her heart stutter to a stop under his hands. He thought of having his childe see his strength, and Spike shook himself free of the fantasy. Xander wouldn't appreciate that sort of display of strength, so Spike pushed the goth girl away even as his demon roared for her blood.

"Go play somewhere else, luv, and be more careful about who ya play with," he suggested with a shove.

"Hey, what's your problem?" she demanded, her hands on her hips and her shrill voice carrying far enough to catch the attention of several people around them.

"Got AIDS, now don't I? Shouldn't be so quick with the invite, luv," Spike said as he walked past her. The girl stood frozen in place, her heart pounding heavily as Spike started down the stairs. Faith had reached the door, disappearing out into the night despite the fact she had plenty of prey in the club. She was young enough that she didn't know her own body, couldn't feel the tingle of enemy crawlin' under her skin. Either that, or there were so many damn demons around, she got used to the feeling.

"Pet," Spike said as he walked up behind Xander.

"Hey," Xander said, his whole face shifting into a wide smile, and Spike smiled back, wondering if in his entire unlife anyone ever felt such happiness at seeing him. 'Course other masters usually made childer long before a century, so Spike supposed his own loneliness came in part from his reluctance to take them for himself.

"Lonely?" Spike asked playfully as he came up to the side of Xander's chair.

"Yeah," Xander agreed. "William, this is Willow and Tara. Guys, this is William." Spike nodded at the girls even as he cursed the name. William had been weak, and Spike hated even the reminder of that part of his life.

"Hey," Willow said with a shy smile, and Spike gave her his best grin. She blushed and tightened her fingers around her girlfriend's hand.

"Tara, pleasure ta meet you," Spike offered in his most charming voice, the one that lured prey to his fangs. She looked at him for several seconds, ducking her head and looking up through her bangs before offering a shy smile back.

"Pet, got people to see and places ta go tonight."

"Um, if you're planning on h-u-n-t-i-n-g," Willow spelled out the word in hushed tones, "it's not really safe around here." Spike stared at her blankly for a moment, not even sure how to respond.

"Been k-i-l-l-i-n-g for a long time now, luv. Won't get into any trouble big enough to threaten Xander," Spike promised in the same hushed voice. Willow blushed, and Xander gave him a punch on the leg.

"No making fun of the friend," Xander hissed. Spike looked down, blinking for a second. Demons were much simpler to understand than humans, and he found himself having to sort through his human memories of being made fun of in order to translate Xander's comment.

"Not makin' fun of ya," Spike promised Willow. "Just trying to, you know, not brass you off the way I did his mum."

"His mom got frustrated kinda easy," Willow nodded, and Spike understood that as forgiveness.

"So, ya ready, pet?" he asked.

"Willow, I'm really glad we got to talk."

"Don't you have a phone number or an email address, email is really everywhere these days, and if you had an address you could check it from anywhere." Willow reached over and grabbed Xander's hand, holding on as Xander stood. When Xander turned large dark eyes to him, Spike felt his own determination to pull his childe away start to fade.

"We aren't leaving town right away, so maybe you could show Xander how ta set one up later?" Spike suggested. Willow immediately bounced in her seat, and through his hand on Xander's arm, Spike could feel a similar reaction.

"So then we'll see each other and I'll get the email and no more disappearing acts," Xander promised.

"Right and good. We still have things to do, so say goodbye before we're so late someone comes looking for us," Spike insisted as he pulled on Xander's arm. Xander babbled his farewells, and Spike headed for the door with his childe in tow. Instead of watching the boy talk to himself or fall into the silences where he could practically see the soul and demon fight for control, Spike watched a very human Xander babble about all the things that had happened in Sunnydale since he'd left.

As they walked the dark street, Spike watched humans stroll by clumps of vampires standing at the mouths of alleys and other human-looking demons walking in groups that stalked the street with more purpose than Spike really liked seeing. Demons normally did their own thing, each fighting for a piece of territory or food or resources. Minions might cluster up to sleep, but they hunted alone or in pairs.

"Hey, I'm trying to tell you about a mummy who came to life and tried to eat Wendell," Xander said, and Spike shook his head and pulled Xander closer to his side. A vampire leaning on a streetlamp tilted his head and growled.

"Pet, you notice anythin'?" Spike asked.

"Um, either Baby Aurelius has indigestion, or there are way too many vamps around. And I'm betting it's not the indigestion."

"With a slayer in town, this isn't bloody right," Spike swore softly as they passed another clump of four vampires who wore respectable enough clothes to pass for humans. "Slayer or no slayer, they shouldn't be actin' like this," Spike snarled softly as a pair of lovesick humans wandered down the street without being bothered.

"Um, not to complain or anything, but shouldn't someone be eating them, not that eating is good, because it's not. Well, eating is good, but eating people is… stopping now," Xander finished. Spike just shook his head.

"Pet, vamps don't put off feeding unless something bigger and badder makes 'em."

"No offense Spike, but I've seen Gunn take down enough fledges that I'm not impressed by bigger and badder than a fledge."

"How about somethin' bigger and badder than all of 'em together?" Spike asked with a quirk of his eyebrow. That made his childe shut up and look just a little worried. "So, we're goin' to go to the Aurelius court and see if big and bad is sitting on the throne or if we have something new creeping around the tunnels of Sunnyhell." Spike tightened his hold on Xander, and while normally Xander would roll his eyes or have a moment of resistance, this time he moved closer without complaint.

An Ethros demon wandered by with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled down low over his grey skin, and Spike shifted so that he would be between Xander and the threat. The Ethros looked up briefly, nodded and then ducked his head back down. Oh something definitely smelled rotten in the state of Sunnyhell.

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