Out of Tune


Part Seventeen

"Oh goddess," Willow breathed as Xander followed Spike through the door to the Magic Box. Xander ducked his head as his face nearly caught fire from his blush.

"Red, Peaches, Slayer," Spike greeted the assembled group.

"Oh goddess. Oh goddess."

"William, what do you think you're doing?" Angel demanded. Xander could feel Baby stir, but he shoved back viciously. He'd never be anything other than a minion to Angel, a reminder of all the vampire bits Angel didn't want to feel. He was childe to Spike, and he'd stick with Spike. Baby backed off with a grumble, but Xander nearly walked into Spike's back. Instinctively, he tried to apologize, but he just managed to make himself blush even deeper when his attempt to talk tightened the straps around his head. Oh yeah, his brain wasn't running on all cylinders.

"Oh goddess, Xander, are you okay? Of course you're not okay with that… that…" Willow stopped, and Xander looked up in time to see Willow's hands fluttering like butterflies.

"Chill, 'Lo, boy doesn't seem like he's hurting any, although he does seem to be walking a little funny," Faith said as she came out of a back room, a tall man walking just a bit behind her. Xander glared at her because he was not walking funny. Okay, if he'd been all human, he totally would have been, but he wasn't and he could walk just fine.

"Tone down the glare. What, did the Z-dog wake up on the wrong side of his vampire this morning?" Faith stepped aside to let the man step forward. "Larry, this is Xander and his vamp, Spike. Xander and Spike, Larry."

"Hey," Larry said with a nod of his head. "Wait. Xander? Xander Harris? Oh god, I remember you from grade school. Man, I am really sorry about the whole lunch money thing. I just really didn't have my head screwed on straight, you know?" Larry offered with a smile, and Xander's eyes widened as he finally placed the face. Larry held up his hands in surrender, but he held an ax in one hand, which made him look a little not-so-harmless.

"Hey, no need to look so worried because I process my anger now. I just thought I'd show up and help swing an ax against the menace of the day," he said as he lifted the heavy black ax.

"Um, guys, Xander…" Willow stepped forward toward them, but then Angel sidestepped putting himself between Willow and Spike.

"William, take that thing off, now."

"Or wot?" Spike asked as he leaned against a shelf. "Seems like the boy made his choice, and it wasn't you, Peaches." And that would be Spike's smug voice.

"William," Angel growled. "Take it off or I will."

"Bloody hell, we came here to help with the Annoyin' One, but if you're going to act all high and mighty, we have places ta go, dimensions ta check out," Spike said in a voice dripping with accent before he turned back toward the door.

Xander froze, looking from Spike to the group gathered in the Magic Box. Riley stood near the counter with a number of weapons laid in front of him. Larry looked slightly dazed, Willow still had fluttery hands, and Tara just stood with wide eyes and a book clutched to her chest. Xander reached out and grabbed at Spike's arm. Spike stopped, his back to the group.

"He's mine, Peaches. If we stay, you don't get ta tell me what to do with my boy." Spike didn't even turn around, and Xander could feel the tension in the room as he clung to Spike's duster.

"If you think—" Angel started, but a voice from the far side of the store interrupted him.

"For heaven's sake. It's not like putting those contraptions on him is any more cruel than when you simply intimidated him into silence," Giles said. Xander turned to see the watcher stand up from behind a shelf with a large book in hand, and Angel flinched back, his fury gone under the more familiar guilt.

"Besides, the boy is not exactly human, so I suggest we continue with our plan so that I can get all four of you out of my shop and my life as quickly as possible. While I understand the necessity for cooperating with certain demons, I certainly don't like it."

"I am not a hostile," Riley said in a fair imitation of a growl, and from the tone, Xander guessed this wasn't the first time he'd made that particular announcement.

"Of course you aren't," Giles agreed in a tone that made it clear that he thought Riley was both demonic and slightly stupid.

"But Xander," Willow inched to the side, gazing around Angel's body, and Xander felt himself blush even redder. Okay, he could do this. Xander could feel his own fear and humiliation rising, and Baby pressed in on the tide. This time, Xander forced Baby back as he clenched his teeth over the bit in his mouth, determined to keep control. Baby slid back into the shadows of his mind.

"The boy's mine, witch. I take care of him, and that means if you don't stop staring and making him feel uncomfortable, I'll walk right out of here with him, and you'll never bloody see him again." Spike turned around and caught Willow in one of his patented, narrow-eyed glares of doom.


"Hey, how about you do your blessing thing on my ax? My ax could use some serious blessing, and as the official adjunct member of the F-team, I am due some extra Willow time. I never get to see you any more," Larry interrupted as he walked between Angel and Spike to pull Willow away.


"You want me to come explain the kinky birds and leather-bees?" Faith called from the counter, and Willow gave a strangled chirp sound while Larry practically shouted a "NO!" Hurrying, Larry pulled Willow into the back room, and Tara slowly put down her book.

"I should—" she ducked her head and waved toward the back room. Then she made a hasty exit, walking fast enough to make her skirts swirl and tangle around her ankles.

"Back off, Big-A. Seems like Xander could flash some signal if he needed saving, and I'm not in the business of getting involved in anyone's sex life. Least, not without a proper invite," she added as she gave Spike a wink.

"You don't know—" Angel started.

"We don't bloody know? I know you just about turned him as loony as Dru ever was. You soddin' well know he wanted to be with me, and you still tried ripping him away. You tried back in L.A., and you tried here, but the boy picked me," Spike interrupted, now in game face.

"So that's what has you acting like this? You finally found a way to make yourself feel like you aren't second to me, boy?" Angel demanded as he stepped forward. Spike pressed forward himself so that now the two vampires stood chest to chest with matching yellow eyes glaring at each other. Xander could feel Baby's desire to press back into a dark corner, but to hell with that. Xander stepped forward and backhanded Spike across the arm, giving him a dirty look before pressing between the two vampires.

"Stay out of this, pet," Spike said, but Xander ignored him as he pressed his back into Spike's chest, struggling to push him away from the brewing fight. Luckily, Angel retreated several steps to avoid touching, so Xander could cross his arms and glare at the great broody one.

"Good lord, it's like watching demonic five year olds. Might I remind people that we need to figure out how the Vahrall plan to use the Word of Valios to open the Hellmouth?"

"It's usually a sacrifice. Kill a few virgins, toss something down a hole, chant a bit and then watch the world end. I vote for finding the Vahrall and guttin' them before the chanting and sacrificing start." Spike announced as he slipped an arm around Xander's stomach, and Xander relaxed back into the embrace.

"I'm voting for bleach-boy's plan," Faith added.

"Yes, hardly surprising," Giles answered as he retreated behind the counter and started flipping through the pages of a dusty, yellowed volume. "But the Vahrall are immune to magic, including the locating spell Jenny has been trying for the last 24 hours straight, and we have no idea where to find them or their ceremony."

"I'm guessing the Hellmouth," Spike offered. Giles looked up, sighed, and then returned to flipping pages.

"Yes, thank you, I hadn't thought to look for a spell to open the Hellmouth to occur on the Hellmouth. If you would like to be of assistance, perhaps you can go sit in the ruins of the old high school until the Vahrall show up or until the sun rises and turns you to a pile of dust. While you're at it, take Angel with you."

Xander held his breath, waiting for some sort of explosion from Spike after that bit of disrespect, but Spike simply stood with his arms around Xander's waist. Surprisingly, Riley jumped in.

"I don't think this hostility is helping to—" Riley started, but Giles interrupted him before he could finish.

"Advice from the vampire's pet, how charming."

"I am not—"

"How silly of me to forget, you are not a hostile, a demon, a thrall, a demon's pet, or anything other than a United States Marine. Yes, yes, quite so."

Xander flinched at Giles' tone of voice, and he actually found himself feeling a little sympathy for the soldier who now clutched a rifle in his tight fists. Angel backed up a few more steps, taking a position next to Riley.

"He has a point," Angel said carefully. "We need to work together. If it would be easier, I could leave."

"Easier. Yes, it would be." Giles ripped his glasses from his face and polished them furiously as he stared at a spot just left of Angel. "Go harass Willie or some low-level demon. Go back to L.A. Go sunbathing or go take a bath in holy water or go throw yourself on a bed of stakes. All of those options would make working considerably easier." Giles slapped the shop counter with his open hand and then stood there, glasses dangling from his other hand as he stared down at the open book.

Angel nodded mutely as he started toward the door.

"Wait. I'll go with you. A couple of my men can be trusted to help us, and maybe the Initiative has a line on any new demons in town," Riley said as he put the rifle down and grabbed a hand gun, shoving it deep into a jacket pocket. Angel paused as Riley trotted to catch up and then they left, the door bell tinkling merrily after them.

"Of course the boy is not a pet. A pet would go running after his master eager to help him, and that's certainly not what Riley appears to be doing," Giles said to himself dryly as he put his glasses back on.

"Cut him some slack," Faith said. "So, Word of Valios. Anyone I can beat an answer out of for you?"

Giles sighed. "Unfortunately not. Willow, Tara and I searched these books and Jenny has had no luck with the spells. I hate to admit it, but at this point our best bet would be to watch the old high school from midnight to three when the stars are properly aligned for a sacrifice. According to the Yarg texts, the Vahrall will want to make the sacrifice on the surface so that the spirits of Ha'ur and La can witness. Unfortunately, without a clearer timeline, I just don't know when they might show."

"Stakeout, check."

"Except the presence of a Moira does significantly change the odds." Giles added when Faith jumped down from the counter. "If the Anointed One has orchestrated this plan, he will certainly send his best warriors to either stop the Vahrall or defend them, depending on his ultimate plan, and that force will surely include the Moira demon."

"Moira, Schmora. It's a demon; I'll kill it," Faith answered with a shrug.

"Nice thought, luv, but those buggers are hard to kill. A hit to the jewel in their head will do it, but they know that too, so they tend to defend that spot. Hit 'em anywhere else and you just piss 'em off."

"And while I would normally take Spike's advice with more than a little suspicion, I can confirm that," Giles said, and even Xander could smell the distress in the air. He looked over his shoulder at Spike, but Spike could only shrug an answer. Xander looked back toward the man who smelled of fear and despair beyond anything Xander had smelled before, and that was surprising considering some of the dirty back alleys Spike picked for hunting.

"Look, I'm not some white hat, but I'll be damned if I let some Vahrall or Moira or the sniveling Annoying One end the world. I like the world right where it is, so I'll go along and watch the slayer's back," Spike finally added. Giles looked up with a sharp glare.

"The last time a vampire gave me that speech, he turned around and killed one of my slayers."

"Peaches does have a way of going back on his word," Spike agreed.

"Oh, and I suppose you always tell the truth?"

"Bloody hell no. I lie with the best of them," Spike insisted in an insulted tone. "I told his mum I was joking about tying him to the bed," Spike said with a nod toward Xander. "Lied to soldier boy 'bout so many things I can't even keep track of what I told him, but I don't want that Hellmouth open, and as long as your needs and mine are the same, I figure I'm as good of an ally as any."

"Hardly inspiring confidence. I'm sure Tara and Willow will be willing to go along. Their magic is impressive, certainly strong enough to slow you down while Larry beheads you if you start anything," Giles commented as he gestured toward the door to the back room. Faith headed that way, Xander assumed to get the rest of the F-team.

"Fair enough," Spike answered with a nod. "Your clan isn't mine, and I'd kill them all if it meant keeping me and mine safe, so I figure you have a right to doubt my motives."

"At least you admit it." Giles leaned over and grabbed something out from under the counter. As soon as he twisted the top, Xander's nose twitched from the bitter scent of alcohol. Giles took a deep swig, stashing the bottle back under the counter when the others came in from the back room.

"Spike," Willow said softly, clutching something to her stomach, but her eyes remained on Xander, making him blush. "Do you think… well… oh goddess." Whatever she had intended to say disappeared under a shaky breath as tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. Xander flinched, and Spike's arm tightened around his stomach.

"Spike, would you mind if we asked Xander to write us answers so that we can talk to him?" Larry stepped up and took a pad of paper from Willow's hands, holding it out to Spike.

Xander looked at the paper, but just waited as he considered Larry. Xander remembered Larry through the filter of childhood terror, but now, as Spike reached out to take the pad, he could see someone else as Larry shot him a quick wink before backing up to Willow's side. And shouldn't Larry be more freaked? Xander knew he'd be freaked if someone showed up wearing a muzzle, and Larry seemed strangely not-freaked. Now Willow… she was freaked. Xander glanced toward her, and she reached up and wiped her eye as she stared into space.

"Right, so let's get to the Hellmouth." Spike said as he handed the pad to Xander. Xander took the paper and followed as Spike headed for the door in a swirl of leather.

"You heard him, let's go kick some demon ass… if we can find any," Faith said behind them.

Part Eighteen

Xander sat on a chunk of fallen ceiling folding and unfolding the same corner of paper. The conversation seemed to have petered out after pages of "yes, I'm fine" and "where did you meet Tara?" and the whole "what happened here?" that had sent Willow on a crying jag. Tara still knelt beside her in the ruins with her arms wrapped around Willow who had gone from crying to just staring into space.

Xander reached up and itched a bit of cheek under a strap, silently blessing Spike for giving him an excuse to not talk because the awkward silence was babble-worthy. Heck, Willow totally would have been babbling if not for the whole crying, staring, lost in the depths of despair thing she had going on.

Larry reached over in the silence, plucking the pen and from Xander's hand.

'Willow blew up the school,' Larry wrote in a scrawled hand. Okay, that surprised Xander, both Larry writing, obviously not wanting to say it in front of Willow and the whole Willow blowing up the school. Hell, if someone was going to blow up a school, Xander would have put himself much higher on the list of potential arsonists. He hated school, but the Willow he'd known would have hyperventilated if she ripped a page in a library book much less burned a library and the rest of the school along with it.

'???' Xander reached over to write. Something must have let Spike know that he was upset because the vampire stalked back toward them, still chain smoking so that a gray plume followed his head. Larry immediately tilted the pad of paper toward Spike while writing. Spike leaned against a beam near the other side of the room, his eyes flicking to the paper for a second before turning and watching Faith balance on a tilting beam that straddled an old desk. Xander rolled his eyes at Mr. Overprotectiveness.

Larry tilted the pad of paper back toward Xander so he could read. 'Jenny had magical pow powder for blowing up box. Big fight. Spiders came out of box. Willow blew up spider. Spider fire blew up pow powder. Powder blew up school and mayor.'

Xander nodded absent-mindedly, and then spiders plus explosions rang the memory bell. He took the pen back.

'Wendell?' he wrote, the sound of the pen scritching over the paper the only noise other than the faint creaking of the wood beam that Faith balanced on. Larry blinked several times, ignoring the pen Xander held out. After a second, Larry got up and walked away from the group, abandoning both the paper and his ax as he headed out a hole in the crumbled wall.

And fuck. Just a few seconds too late, Xander remember the part of his conversation with Willow where she talked about Wendell and Larry going to prom together, and yeah, even with his mouth gagged, Xander had a real ability to say the wrong thing. Xander could only watch and silently kick himself as he added one more person to the 'horribly offended' list.

Xander jumped when Spike's hand rested on his shoulder before the vamp dropped onto the wall next to Xander.

"Ya alright, pet?" he asked. Xander nodded and waved a hand absent-mindedly toward the gap where Larry had disappeared.

"Boy needs some space," Spike commented.

Xander grabbed the abandoned pad and scribbled, 'no duh.'

"Brat," Spike complained without actually sounding very complainy.

"I blew up Wendell when I blew up the school," Willow whispered from her place in the ruins. "I tried to blow up a spider, but I blew up Wendell and then the supplies we brought caught fire."

"It wasn't your fault," a deep voice said, and Xander turned to find Angel stepping in through the gap where Larry had just fled. Riley followed, dressed in army green, and two other men followed. One looked a lot like Riley with the whole military clean look, and the second one, an African American, had a real Gunn thing going on.

"I'm thinking it was my fault what with me doing the magical blowing," Willow said softly.

"The spider had already bitten him, he would have died in agony even if we had gotten him out," Angel insisted.

"Still, blowing up my best friend…" Willow stopped, her breath coming in ragged sobs.

"Still know how ta cheer up a room, don't ya?" Spike asked Angel as he stood up. Xander would have stood up next to his sire, but Spike's hand resting on his shoulder held him in place.

"Shut up, Spike."

"Oh yeah, clever come back, Peaches."

"Isn't that…?" the soldier behind Riley stopped as he brought his gun up.

"Hostile Seven, one of the escaped hostiles," the other soldier added.

"Stand down. Hostile Seven is helping with trying to shut down this demon conspiracy," Riley ordered. "Graham, Forest… this is Spike. The girls are Willow and Tara. These are Graham Miller and Forest Gates." Riley made quick introduction, but Xander noticed that he had been left conspicuously out despite the fact that both soldiers looked at him strangely, which was not so surprising considering the whole muzzle.

"Yeah, stand down," Spike suggested with a tone that promised a whole lot of bloodshed if guns didn't go down. Forrest raised his gun a little higher, but Riley reached out and pushed the end of the weapon down toward the ground.

"Stand down," Riley snapped. "We have readings for multiple hostiles in the area." Riley offered.

"Buddy, there are always multiple hostiles in this area. Welcome to the Hellmouth," Larry said as he climbed back in the gap, coming over to Xander to retrieve his ax. "Sorry I bailed on you there. Some things, just, you know," Larry offered with a half shrug. "So, do we have any bad guys in need of dismembering?" he asked the new arrivals.

"God, I hope so. I'm going to die of boredom if something slimy or horny doesn't walk through that door soon," Faith offered while still balancing on her board and gesturing toward the charred outline of cafeteria doors.

"Careful what you ask for on the Hellmouth, luv."

"Let's focus," Angel interrupted, causing Spike to roll his eyes. "We have rumors of a ceremony this week, and the Vahrall have been spotted near here. Whatever is going to happen will happen soon."

"Not soon enough, A. I'm dying here," Faith objected.

"You won't say that when you face the hostiles," Graham commented. Faith froze mid-balance and then started to laugh hard enough that she had to jump down.

"Babe, I've been facing 'hostiles' for the better part of a year, which puts me on the list of one of the more successful slayers. But I'm not big on hanging around waiting for someone to show up, so I'm hoping your plan includes some action. Otherwise, I'm going to go hit a graveyard or two to find a quick fight."

"I say we flush 'em out. Call the soldier boys' friends in and point them at the court," Spike suggested. "We could see what rats come crawling off the sinking ship."

"And how many humans would die?" Angel demanded.

"Don't soddin' care," Spike answered. Angel stood with his jaw flexing as he fought some internal battle, but Spike just pulled out another cigarette. "If you have a better idea, I'd love to hear it."

"Can I just say that getting in the middle with the court and the Initiative and the Vahrall is sounding kinda not good?" Willow said as she sat up. "Middle tends to be bad."

"We can't just stand around and hope the hostiles show up," Graham pointed out.

"We don't need to wait." Tara pointed toward the large opening where doors once hung. Striding toward them, three green demons growled.

"Bloody hell," Spike said. The blast of three automatic weapons opening fire made Xander fall backwards off his seat, but when he came up, he had pulled his largest knife. The soldiers had already abandoned their automatic weapons in favor of tazers, but Larry with his ax was actually faring better. The Vahrall simply ignored the tazers, and Forrest went down under a vicious punch.

One of the demons, his horns curving backwards like really bad helmet-hair, shook his head and chanted as the ground started to shake, but his words ended in a bubbly growl as a knife sunk into his throat. Xander lost track of what everyone else was doing as he threw himself at the nearest demon, which happened to be the one who had just knocked Larry to the floor.

Xander darted in, slicing the demon's arm and then ducking back as the demon took a swipe at him with a nasty looking claw. The world tilted red and Xander tasted blood as a fang caught his lip. On the floor, Larry scrambled out of the way while Xander dodged in again, this time scoring a hit on the demon's thigh. His knife stuck in the thick skin, and Xander moved a little too slow.

The demon caught him with a punch to his back that sent him to his knees, but Xander retaliated with a knife strike to the back of the creature's knee. First target, a head or anything that looks like a head; second target, joints. Xander mutely thanked Spike for that lesson as the Vahrall staggered to the side, giving Xander time to get to his feet.

The creature opened its mouth in a furious roar that made Xander want to growl his answer, but Larry appeared behind the demon. Larry sunk the ax into the creature, burying the steel so far into the demon's skull that Xander knew it was dead before it hit the ground. Xander twisted around, ready to take on the next demon, but the other two were already on the ground, reddish-purple blood oozing from multiple wounds and a few dismembered limbs scattered on the floor.

"Okay, as apocalypse go, that was a major disappointment," Faith said as she lifted her sword and let the blade rest on her shoulder. "Is anyone else disappointed?"

"I know I am," a child's voice offered from the open gap that had once been a set of doors. Xander felt Baby withdraw in fear as the Anointed one walked through the opening.

"Anointed One," Angel said respectfully as he took a step forward. Xander took about four steps back so that he stood next to Spike as other vampires filed into the room behind the child-sized Master Vampire. Colin stood at the Anointed One's back, sword ready while the minions scattered across the room. One tried to slide around their group to the back, and Spike snarled a warning that sent the fledge cringing back.

"Angelus. I am disappointed in your interference. I thought we had an arrangement." The child vampire stood looking around at the group, his disdain obvious.

"I won't let the Hellmouth open. Defending it is not a breech of our agreement."

Xander watched as Willow's mouth fell open as she stared at Angel. Oh yeah, the great broody one had definitely failed to mention having a deal with the current Master of the Hellmouth.

"But acting against me is a breech of our agreement," the Anointed One said softly. He took a step forward, and Colin moved to his side, fangs showing.

"I acted against the Vahrall. Certainly you have no wish to see our dimension pulled into theirs." Angel remained respectful, but he didn't back down. Instead, he stared at the Anointed One with yellowed eyes.

"But I told your childe that the Vahrall were part of my plan. Or perhaps Spike is no longer under your protection." The Anointed One looked toward Spike, and Xander could feel his sire's body stiffen at the challenge.

"I don't bloody need—"

"He's mine," Angel snarled as he interrupted Spike.

"He doesn't act like he's yours."

Xander looked from one vampire to the other, feeling the currents pulling at them as Angel vamped out and glared at Spike only to have Spike glare back.

"Can fight my own fights," Spike growled. Angel didn't bother to answer; he closed the distance in two strides and grabbed Spike by the back of the neck.

"You're mine, boy," Angel said loudly before dropping his voice, "and I won't let you throw yourself against him because I don't know how to feel about the fact that you'll always be mine," Angel whispered into Spike's ear as he yanked Spike close to him. "Just keep your head down and back me up, and for once in your unlife, follow orders."

Spike shoved back at Angel, making Angel take a small step backwards. "Got recognized as a Master without you, ya overgelled poof."

"William," Angel warned.

"Wot? Ya don't have the knackers to make me submit."

Xander was on the edge of hyperventilating-type panic when he saw Spike tilt his head slightly. And that was not a challenging look Spike gave Angel as the larger vampire blocked the Anointed One's view of their little exchange.

"Spike, don't," Angel said as he stepped into Spike's space. Spike tilted his head a fraction more.

"Or what? Soddin' souled up excuse—"

Spike didn't get a chance to say any more before Angel drove fangs deep into Spike, drinking his blood while jerking Spike's body into his own. The sounds of sucking stopped, but neither moved.

"Ya need more," Spike whispered, his words little more than a breath, but Angel pulled back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Angel glanced over to Xander, bringing up a hand to rest on Xander's cheek for a second before giving the muzzle a sharp tug. As Angel turned to face the Anointed One again, Xander realized Angel had opened a buckle. Xander looked toward Spike for guidance, and Spike reached over and pulled another buckle free.

Getting the point, Xander unhooked the rest of the muzzle, and pulled Baby's strength up to the surface, feeling his mouth ache as fangs pushed out. He understood the silent message in Angel's act. If things went bad, Xander would need every advantage in fighting, and a vampire's fangs could be a deadly asset, one they couldn't afford to muzzle.

"Spike's mine, and he falls under my protection," Angel said as he stepped forward again. The girls and Larry had pushed closer to Spike and Xander, but all three soldiers stood their ground, spread out in a triangle shape and ready for a fight. Faith remained to the side, her sword held out in front while a couple of minions sneered at her.

"You have failed to open a portal," a deeper voice said as the Mohra stepped into the room, it's skull-like face turning to consider each creature in the ruins before turning to the Anointed One.

"I haven't failed. It will simply take a little longer," the small vampire answered, and much of the arrogance slipped away.

"You promised tonight."

"I will still succeed. I have the spells to control and direct the portal, and in time, I will find a way to open it. I will control the pathway between the worlds. I have the power; you have seen this," the Anointed One insisted. The Mohra considered him with snake eyes.

"Your power is insignificant." With that, the Mohra turned and left. Xander could feel the shockwave in the room as vampires shifted. As creatures sensitive to power and status, other vampires nervously glanced toward the Anointed One as some of his status melted under him, but the tiny Master continued to stand there, looking as unperturbed as ever.

"You have cost me considerably, Angelus. Our arrangement was that you would stay out of clan business."

"Our arrangement was that I wouldn't go after you," Angel corrected him as he took another step forward. Colin growled and stepped in front of his master.

"And now the head of the Aurelius line must be defended? Is that what the line has come to?" Angel asked with a sweet smile, but Xander could feel the shifting fears run through the minions. Their demons demanded that they follow the strongest, only they weren't as sure about who was strongest any more.

"And I would hate to think that you have violated that arrangement. Your slayer is so helpless lying in that bed. It would take the weakest minion only a moment to drain her."

"Yeah, well they'd have to go through me first," Faith threw out there as she squared off against the Anointed One.

"And our arrangement does not shield the current slayer, even if it does put your pets and childe under your protection."

"Faith." Angel barely breathed the word.

"No problem, Big-A. I don't need a shield because I can take this one out by myself. So, if you have some sort of deal with him for Buffy's life, I'm five-by-five with that. Just keep the minions off my back while I turn this one into dust."

Xander had no idea whether confidence or bravado inspired the words, but the minions shifted again, and Xander could feel Baby's growing contempt rattling around just below the surface. The little vampire failed. His plan failed. His allies called him weak and abandoned him. The slayer challenged him.

"Step back, Faith." Angel's voice carried no emotion.

"Not a chance."

Angel stepped forward and grabbed Faith by the back of her neck, pulling her off balance with that hand while he grabbed her sword arm with the other. "You will not challenge him because I will taste his blood, so step back or challenge me," Angel snarled, his game face now forward. Faith jerked in his grip, the scent of fear drifting through the room, and Xander growled in response. Spike's hand rested on his arm and anchored him.

"Slayer, ya don't want to go up against Angel, he's a right bastard when given a chance, and ya know that. So just come wait with the witches, alright?"

Faith's eyes flicked toward them, and then Angel gave her a shake and let her go. Xander held his breath as the slayer stood, sword in hand, and looked from Angel to Spike. And right about now, Xander really wished he had some cool power like telepathy because she was totally not getting it. She glanced toward Willow and then to him, and Xander mouthed the word 'please.'

Finally, she started backing away from Angel, her sword held up defensively as she put herself between Angel and the rest of her F-team. Angel didn't even glance at her as he stared down the Anointed One. Oh yeah, Angel with his back to a slayer, so confident of her submission, and that had an effect on the minions. And it didn't hurt that the girl who hadn't batted an eye at challenging the Anointed One now smelled of fear and uncertainty.

"You aren't worthy of challenge, souled one," Colin hissed as he moved forward. Before Xander could blink, Spike had darted past Angel, grabbing Colin while the vampire was still focused on Angel, and ripping his head from his neck in one vicious twist. Xander growled at the nearest minion, expecting the free for all to start as the Anointed One yelled for an attack.

Instead, only a few random minions darted toward them. Faith neatly decapitated one while Spike took out two in a furious attack and Riley staked another without moving out of position. Xander grabbed the one who flung himself in their general direction and tangled his fingers in the long, stringy hair, yanking the head to the side. The vampire hissed and clawed at Xander's legs, but Xander just drove his fangs deep into the soft flesh of the minion's neck and started drinking.

For a second, Xander found himself sliding under Baby's surge of triumph, the primal act of feeding on the enemy making Baby roar his power. Then Spike turned and looked at him, one eyebrow raised in question, and Xander forced Baby back, resorting to his own feelings of nausea as he considered that he was eating a sentient creature. Yeah, an evil, deserving to die vampire type creature, but eating of the walking, talking, thinking sort of enemy really didn't work well with his stomach. He let go.

"Ew," he said softly as the vampire slumped to the ground at Xander's feet.

"Seconding that," Larry said right before he drove a stake down into the vampire's heart. The minion exploded dust all over Xander and Larry, ash sliding down Xander's leather as he smiled sheepishly and shrugged at Larry's strange look.

Xander turned back to where the Anointed One now stepped forward toward Angel. Spike backed off some, growling at a couple of other minions who had edged forward until the Anointed One's followers pressed themselves to the sides of the room.

"Slayer, get yourself and the other humans out of here," Spike said softly as he took a position in front of Xander.


Spike snarled as he whipped around to face her. "Bloody hell, that gap only lets one through at a time, and there are seven of ya. If this comes down to a fight, we're not goin' to be able to all get out that gap, so get your bloody humans and get them the hell out of here."

"I won't leave," Riley said as he watched Angel and the Anointed One stare at each other in the cleared center of the room.

"Then you're a bloody fool because he wants ya out," Spike hissed. "He's made peace with the clan for three years, and he's challenging now just to save your sorry hides, so go on then, get yourself killed anyway so he has somethin' to brood about later."

Riley hesitated, his knife hand trembling slightly so that the metal twinkled in the dim light filtering down from the shattered roof.

"Come on, soldier boy. He who fights and runs away lives to kick serious demon ass another day," Faith said as she tugged at his arm. Riley finally yielded and let her pull him toward the gap in the wall where Willow was just now sliding out into the night.

Xander looked at Spike as the others fled. This was clan business, so it felt right for the others to leave, but Xander didn't know what he felt. Baby stirred uncomfortably, a cold wind circling the room even though most of the walls still stood.

"Sire?" he whispered, watching Spike's fists curl as Angel and the Anointed One started circling.

"We submit to whoever wins and hope like hell it's Peaches. We've done all we can," Spike answered the unspoken question just as Angel lunged forward into battle.

Part Nineteen

From their sizes, Xander expected the fight between Angel and the Anointed One to last a whole five seconds, but every punch, every throw, every move the Anointed One made was too powerful for his size. It was as if the Anointed One had one of those cheat codes that gave him unlimited hit points, and that might have been cool except that Angel bled from a long gash on his skull and favored his left side.

Spike clenched his fists and jerked slightly as Angel landed another punch. The weight of the hit sent the Anointed One crashing against the wall, but he just stood up and launched himself at Angel again. Angel met the attack with a toss that sent the Anointed One off to the other side, but the tiny vampire rebounded and hit Angel's knee before Angel could react.

"Fuck," Spike swore as Angel stumbled to one knee. "Fucking stubborn bastard. Just submit," Spike hissed, but Angel didn't seem to hear as he lunged forward, grabbing the Anointed One and slamming his small forehead into the floor. The image looked just so wrong what with big, scary looking Angel attacking little tiny Anointed One, but the Anointed One wrenched himself free and didn't even have a mark where his skull had hit concrete. The kid moved a little slower, but whatever superpower juiced him up was some seriously scary shit.

The Anointed One laughed as Angel fought his way back up to his feet.

"Your soul slows you down, Angelus," the little vampire laughed, and Xander could feel entirely inappropriate admiration as Baby considered the Anointed One's strength. He was quickly beginning to suspect that demons were slightly on the fickle side when it came to loyalty. Or at least most were, Xander could feel Spike's quivering need to leap into the fight, and he didn't doubt that Spike would choose to fight for Angel, even if the broody one was going down.

"If you would like to submit now, I will certainly consider your surrender. The broken body of a slayer would be the proper gift to offer me after displeasing me so much."

Angel didn't answer, but instead he just glared as he tracked the Anointed One's circle around the perimeter of the room. Minions pressed forward slightly as he walked by them, quick to return to his side now that he had shown his superior strength.

"I will even let you decide which slayer to bring me."

With a growl, Angel threw himself at the Anointed One again. At first, Xander thought Angel had lost control in a wild attack with no hope of hitting any vital areas. Angel's fists flew with the unfocused rage of a fledge's attack, and the Anointed One easily deflected them while landing strike after strike at Angel's battered body. Angel fell to his knees at one point, only to get up and launch himself again, forcing the child-vampire back even as he took so much damage that his chances of winning dwindled to nothing. Xander didn't realize the strategy until the Anointed One's back pushed toward them.

Xander glanced at Spike, feeling his sire's need to act even as Baby cringed away. The masters fought. The masters had to show strength. Only the masters could fight for control of the clan. A hit sent the Anointed One stumbling backwards and before Xander could blink, Spike had grabbed the child and given his head the same vicious twist that had decapitated Colin.

A sickening crack proved that Spike had broken the boy's neck, but the Anointed One simply growled and went into game face for the first time in the fight. His head tilted awkwardly, half resting on one shoulder as though he had a phone tucked up to his ear, and the small vampire struck out, sending Spike crashing backwards into the beam that Faith had been balancing on earlier. He turned toward Angel again, his head held at a sickening angle, but he didn't turn quickly enough. Angel threw himself forward, but instead of punching the Anointed One, he grabbed the small body and sunk fangs into the exposed neck.

Xander gasped as the Anointed One's fist punched through Angel's side, cracking ribs while his fingers dug into the flesh. The air filled with the thick scent of blood. But slowly, the Anointed One's struggles weakened as Angel fed. The small hand pulled out of Angel's gaping side and ineffectually pushed against Angel's larger frame; however, the larger vamp just jerked the small vampire's body against his and kept feeding. Slowly, Angel's eyes closed in an expression of bliss.

"Right then, I think that settles who's in charge," Spike offered as he picked himself up off the ground. Angel lifted his head, his mouth red with blood, and now the Anointed One's broken neck flopped so that he looked like a big rag doll. Angel carried the limp body over to a ragged chunk of fallen ceiling where he raised the Anointed One over his head and then flung him down onto a chunk of ceiling beam. The wood impaled the body for a half second, and then the Anointed One exploded into a cloud of ash.

"William, ye challenged me," Angel now said as he turned toward Spike.

Spike cocked his head to the side and stepped to Xander's side.

"You challenged me and have generally annoyed the unlife out of me, childe."

"Yeah, well, ya deserve some annoying," Spike answered, but Xander could hear the uncertainty in his voice. He glanced toward the gap and then toward Spike, but Spike kept his eyes focused on Angel, and whatever was going on, it wasn't going to include running.

Angel moved forward, ignoring the minions and his own still-oozing wounds as he stepped into Spike's personal space. Spike smirked up, and for a second, Xander thought he was about to see round two, but then Angel shook his head, his game face disappearing as he looked around at the groveling minions that lined the room.

"Get out," he roared. For a moment, the room balanced in silence, and then vampires scrambled to race for the door, eager to get away from the very cranky new head of the Aurelius line.

"Peaches," Spike offered.

"I mean it Spike, get out," Angel said wearily as he limped toward the door. Spike watched for one second, and then Xander found himself pushed toward the gap in the wall behind them. Knowing that he had missed something, he allowed Spike to herd him out into the night.


Spike didn't speak again until they got back to the warehouse, and by then, the first pink rays of dawn were backlighting the buildings, making them appear black against the lightening sky. Baby sent up a random worry which Xander pushed quickly aside as he watched Spike slide the door shut and lock it.

"Spike?" he asked when his sire walked right past him and headed for the main room.

"It's late, get some nibbles and get to bed," Spike said. Xander stared at Spike's back as the vampire disappeared into the bedroom. Okay, this so wasn't right. Baby squirmed uncomfortably, sending up fear about not being in sire's favor. Xander had to put a hand on the counter just to keep his balance as Baby stirred so strongly that Xander got a bit motion sick, like when he was ten and his father tried taking them on a car trip to the Grand Canyon.


Xander opened his eyes to find Spike's hands on his arm, steadying him. Baby twisted, knowing he had done wrong again by making Xander ill and worrying sire.

"Xander, you alright?" Spike pulled at Xander, guiding him to a chair.

"I'm fine," Xander said as he shook his head. "It's just that Baby…" Xander stopped, and Spike narrowed his eyes.

"It's nothing," Xander hurried to assure him. "I'll just go get something to eat, like you said." He tried to push up from the chair, but Spike pushed him back down.

"Pet, what is going on in that head of yours?"

Xander looked up as he chewed his lip. Spike hadn't had the best night, and Xander really just wanted to go to bed. And some sex wouldn't be turned away, but given the cranky expression on Spike's face, he'd settle for bed.

"I'm just tired," Xander made his excuse with a shrug even as Baby stilled into a perfect silence.

"Oi, don't bloody start with this shite," Spike snapped. "Now, what the hell has got you so bloody worked up?"

Xander froze.

"Pet," Spike sighed after several seconds, "what has ya wound so tight that you can't even keep yourself upright?" Spike's fingers reached up and stroked a long curl.

Xander shrugged helplessly. "I just feel like…" okay, he was out of words. Spike crouched down in front of him and strong fingers gave his hair a little tug. He really needed to cut his hair. And that would be mental babbling showing up right on cue.

"Oi, now I know something's wrong, ya aren't talking."

"Ha ha, Spike."

"What are ya feeling, pet?" Spike asked, and this time the distracted annoyance of earlier was gone.

"I just don't want to bug you when you're already feeling so bugged," Xander said as he stared across the room at the open door to the bedroom. Hopefully Spike would take it as an invitation.

"So, you're bothered that the great poof has managed to annoy me again?" Spike asked with a frown.

"Kinda. I'm not sure," Xander finally admitted as he looked at Spike. "You're unhappy, and you unhappy just reminded Baby that you're not happy with him, and then he got all worried because his worry got me dizzy, and you're even more unhappy that his unhappiness is making me dizzy and there's just a whole circle of unhappy going on."

"Bloody hell, was that supposed ta make sense?" Spike asked, but he smiled, so Xander guessed he wasn't actually annoyed. He did bite his tongue to keep any more babble from spilling out, though.

"So, Baby wants the punishment out of the way so that things are right between us again, right?"

Xander nodded.

"If I were a right bastard like Angel, I'll let Baby stew in his own worry for a while, let him wonder if he was going to get a second chance or if I was just going to let him twist in my displeasure forever."

Xander's gaze snapped up to Spike's face, worried even as he felt Baby shrink back in despair.


"Oi, not that cruel, am I?" Spike relented as he stood up. "But I want Baby to the front for this. I know you can step back far enough ta let the vampire bits take over, and that's what I need you to do now, pet."

"Just make him give everything back after," Xander joked, and Spike's hands, which had been stroking his shoulders, stopped.

"You're strong enough to make him do that, pet. I can't do that for ya, so if you can't face this right now…"

"No, no, I'm facing it boy," Xander interrupted. "I just don't want to deal with any more of the sire's-pissed-with-me vibes from Baby. It was bad enough when I went and did the big stupid by flying into that fight with the fledges back at Safari, which, by the way, I would totally do again, but when you're pissed at Baby, he's just not very rational about it. Me? I've had lots of experience with disappointing people."

Xander held up his hand to stop Spike from answering that even as he pulled at Baby's edges, reluctance and shame flowing back into him. Rather than fight those feelings, Xander closed his eyes and allowed himself to sink into them. The pain washed through him, and Xander just focused on breathing, all his attention concentrated on that to prevent himself from countering with his own memories and feelings.

In. Out. In. Xander could feel himself sinking under, his vision sliding toward red as the world faded into the distance. Something brushed against his arm, and Xander only realized Spike had grabbed his arm when his body started moving, pulled along by Spike's grip.

The distraction brought the world into sharper focus, and Xander cleared his mind, focusing on the breathing as he struggled to slip into that small space inside his own mind where once he'd hidden as Cassidy ordered his body around the enemy lair, and there came the sharp edges of the world as that memory pushed Xander toward the surface, Baby retreating from the memory of trying to stake sire, at betraying sire with Cassidy before betraying sire with Angel.

In. Out. In. Out. Xander counted his breaths up to ten and then backwards to one and then up to ten until he had turned off his own mind enough to sink under Baby. And it didn't used to be this hard. Hell, in high school, he had the whole fazing out thing down to a science, some easy science that he actually knew how to do. For a second, Xander wondered if Baby ever surfaced back then, but he turned his mind to counting breaths in order to stay behind Baby.

"Count 'em, then," Spike's voice droned from far away, but Xander couldn't figure out what he meant until the line of fire across his back penetrated his darkness.

"One," Xander's voice called out while Xander still struggled to get the breathing back under control. The pain seemed to brighten the edges of his dim world, but it didn't pull him toward the surface. A flash of lightening and Xander's voice called, "Two." Baby's shame brightened with each hit. He had disappointed sire. A stripe fell lower than the other hits, catching Xander just below the butt and throwing him forward. "Three." Baby hadn't quite got his balance back before another hit. "Four." Oh yeah, Spike was pissed because that was definitely a whip.

Shame. Fear. A searing pain that Xander was only dimly aware of took his breath away again, and now Xander felt the ache as his shoulders bore his weight. He was hanging from chains. "Fifteen." And Xander realized he'd lost some time there, which would explain the ache from shoulders down to knee.

"Whose are you, childe?" Spike's voice echoed distantly.

"Yours, sire," Baby answered immediately, and Xander could taste the desperation. Baby would rather be dust than be alone or shamed by sire.

"And why did you turn to Angel?" Spike asked. Baby didn't have a good answer for that one, or a bad answer even.

"Childe, answer or we'll do another set." Xander could feel the panicked fear, not about the pain, but about sire's tone of voice and his disappointment and Baby's disgrace. Xander poked, and an answer popped out.

"He's strong," Baby blurted. Oh yeah, Baby had a whole lot more cool because even mired in self-loathing he managed to not babble or cry, and from the emotions rolling from Baby like low-lying fog, Xander knew he would have long ago broken out into both.

"Not bloody strong enough to see what he was doing to ya. Who should you have turned to, childe?" Spike asked, and Baby shivered as a hand stroked his abused back. "Who would do what I wanted ya to do? Who would have understood if you'd given him a chance to work through his pain a bit?"

"Xander," Baby finally sighed, relief washing through him as he understood the right answer to give.

Spike didn't answer, but the whip didn't return. For a still moment, Xander let himself sink into the calm that followed Baby's storm of emotion. His shoulders complained as he shifted, but Xander didn't realize why until the first fingers reached into him, stretching him.

Baby growled his pleasure and pressed back into the feeling just as Spike pulled out. "You're mine, childe. You and Xander are my childer and you always will be." Xander felt the pressure at his hole as Spike pushed in, but he felt it at a distance, a tickle against his skin. "Mine."

Baby roared his agreement as Spike then thrust in violently, his hands bracing Xander's hips as he pulled out and slammed in again. Baby writhed savagely in the chains, making them rattle as something started slowly trickling down the inside of Xander's legs.

"Mine," Spike growled again, and Baby dropped his head to the side in submission, baring his neck happily. Sire wanted him.

Xander had just figured out that he was bleeding from the rough coupling before twin knives seared his neck, Spike's fangs digging into the flesh of his neck so deeply that his front teeth cut crescent shapes into his skin.

"Sire!" Baby snarled, his own cock hard and neglected as sire took his pleasure, took his blood until Baby sagged weakly, his fears gone with his strength, his erection flagging without enough blood to feed it, but it didn't matter. Sire found him worthy enough to take, to drain.

"Xander, Baby needs you," Spike whispered in his ear, and Xander definitely questioned that comment. Baby didn't need much of anything else now that he had found sire's approval. The pain of the whip, the frustration of his unsatisfied cock, the fears and shame and insecurities all vanished under the sated feeling of being worthy. As Baby sank back, Xander let himself slide forward, the world focusing a millisecond before he gasped in pain, his body screaming at him from so many places that he couldn't even process it all, leaving one blinding white agony.

"Drink, Xander," Spike ordered, and for a second, Xander couldn't even process the words, distracted by the overwhelming suffering in his body. Then a smell penetrated, and something touched his lips. Suddenly something balanced the agony, offering as much pleasure as his backside radiated pain. Xander sucked, the heavenly taste strong in his mouth and warming him with each swallow.

"Heal, pet." Spike whispered, and Xander could feel the heat from his stomach radiating out to his torn back and ripped hole. He sucked harder, his cock aching so badly that Xander no longer even cared about his backside.

"Sire," Xander complained as the ambrosia pulled back. He blinked up to see Spike shrugging his shirt off, his neck still dripping ruby drops down his strong stomach. Eying the fat red trails, Xander whined unhappily. Then he shifted uncomfortably as his hard cock jutted out in front of him.

"Let me get you down," Spike promised as he reached up to the heavy metal shackles around Xander's wrists. Blood trickled from cuts, but the pain of just seconds ago faded into a dull ache that didn't matter nearly as much as the lithe body pressed to him as Spike stretched out to unhook the chains. With his first hand free, Xander reached up and trailed a finger over Spike's arm, tracing where the muscle curved and dipped toward the bone.

Spike smirked, giving him a wink before going to free Xander's other hand. "See somethin' ya like?" he asked salaciously.

"Oh yeah. Much with the liking," Xander agreed. He ran his hand up to Spike's shoulder, touching the twin punctures where Xander had driven fangs into Spike's neck. Spike shivered and then reached up and grabbed Xander's hand, pulling on it like a leash to pull Xander into his arms.

"Thought ya might like a little treat, tonight, childe. Ya fought like a champion. Ya fed on your enemies and still controlled the demon without lettin' the demon control you," Spike whispered as he allowed his hands to slide around to Xander's ass. The agony of just seconds earlier had become a dull aching heat that begged to be scratched, and Spike ran a sharp nail over a healing whip mark. Xander hissed and shivered as the warm pain made his whole body come alive.

Xander smiled, ducking his head in embarrassment even as Baby growled his pleasure. "I know what I'd like as a treat," Xander answered, following as Spike backed up toward the bed. "Your cock deep inside me would be a start," Xander finished, blushing at his first attempt at dirty talk, but at least he'd managed to say it without babbling, giggling or stuttering.

"Thought we might try that the other way 'round," Spike whispered back, and Xander found himself falling onto the bed before his brain could fully work out the meaning of that, but his cock had gotten the message alright and it throbbed in anticipation. Of course, his cock usually did get things faster than his brain.

"Oh fuck," Xander breathed as Spike shimmied out of his jeans, dropping them to the ground before cat crawling up Xander's body. "Fuckity fuck."

"I'm a bad influence on you, I am," Spike offered with a smile as he reached down and kissed Xander breathless. "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Spike asked when he finally pulled back.

"Oh no, no bringing up of mothers," Xander complained.

"Scoot up," Spike ordered with a laugh as he straddled Xander's waist, and Xander squirmed farther up on the bed as Spike reached over for the lube.

"Oh god," Xander swore as Spike reached back and slipped a finger into his own hole, twisting his body so that he could leer at Xander even while showing off that pucker where a second finger quickly followed. "Oh god."

"Close enough, pet," Spike agreed. "'Course I'd love to suck that cock of yours while I do this, sucking all that creamy filling while I opened myself, but I'll have ta do that another time since you look about ready to go. Some other day I'll suck you 'til you can't help but come and then I'll flip you over and drive into you, fill you so full of my cock that you can't help but get hard again, and then I'll slip down onto you and ride you til you forget your name," Spike promised. Xander felt his own cock bob in agreement as his balls drew up close.

"Already there," Xander muttered as he watched a third finger disappear into the depths of Spike's body.

"Just remember, don't bloody come until I say, even if ya need Baby's help ta get there," Spike warned as he shifted back until his hole lined up with Xander's cock, which was sitting up, begging, and very willing to do tricks.

"Oh fuck," Xander answered as Spike slowly lowered himself, the pressure on Xander's cockhead nearly making him come before even getting into Spike.

"Pet," Spike warned darkly. Xander gasped a deep breath, and Baby uncurled from his corner, lending his own fear of disappointing sire, and yeah, that pushed orgasm back far enough that Xander could start breathing again as Spike pushed down. And oh god, it was so tight and felt nothing like the various hands Xander had experienced.

Spike was almost down when Xander couldn't control himself any more, and he dug his heels into the mattress and bucked up, driving himself the rest of the way into that tight grip. Throwing his head back and fisting the sheets, Xander gasped as Spike pulled off, and then he drove himself up even higher, arching his back as he thrust into Spike's body.

Blind need overwhelmed him, and Xander drove up before Spike could even move again, throwing Spike in the air and then dropping to the mattress heavily before thrusting up again. Tears gathered in Xander's eyes as raw lust overwhelmed him, but he still couldn't reach the final release as he bucked wildly again and again.

"Come," Spike growled, and Xander felt the explosion that tightened every muscle and made him arch and hiss and claw the sheets until he finally sagged back down, his cock still twitching as it remained buried in Spike's ass.

Xander lay, sweating and panting as he watched Spike from half-opened eyes. Spike flopped down on the bed next to him.

"I'm so going to end up in the wet spot," Xander muttered as Spike pulled him close, strong arms wrapping around his waist.

"For a ride like that, it's worth a wet spot," Spike answered in an equally exhausted voice. And Xander would have answered, only sleep pulled him down into darkness.

Part Twenty

"Just promise that you'll actually stay in touch this time," Willow begged, her voice tinny over the phone.  Xander sorted the CD's as he cradled the phone between his shoulder and ear.

"Promise, cross my heart, and I'm not saying the rest now that I know we're on a Hellmouth," Xander promised.  "I'm just glad that you aren't freaked out about… you know."

"The whole not quite human thing that I know or the whole sleeping with a vampire part I know or the gay thing?  Because I'm totally okay with the gay thing.  Heck, me and Larry and Wendell all did the gay thing, so I'm almost ready to call gayness a requirement for being on the F-team, only that would be discrimination, which is not really of the good."

"Not sure Spike really wants me claiming membership in the slayer's fan club," Xander laughed.  "He's still beating up on himself about helping a slayer, but he really wouldn't let the world end without trying to stop it because he's not evil." There was a long pause.

"Xander." Willow sounded distressed.

"He's not," Xander insisted.  "He's a predator and he's dangerous, but he isn't into the evil torture thing, not even back when I was just some random human he ran into on the street."

"I used to think that about Angel, but when his soul came out…"

"Yeah, but Spike is just Spike, he doesn't have a soul changing who he is."

"No, he has you."

That made Xander stop and think since he hadn't known Spike before he knew Spike.  "In that case, I have to make sure I stick with him." Xander stretched, feeling the newly healed skin of his back.  "I'll stick with him for a good long time."

"I'll miss you.  Do you know where you guys are going?"

"When Spike gets back from wherever he disappeared to, he mentioned China, but I don't know if that was mentioned as in seriously going to China or just freaking me out with the idea of going to the other side of the world."

"China? Goddess!  China has some beautiful temples and wilderness areas."

"I don't think either would be on Spike's list of must-visits, but if we end up there, I'll nag him into taking me to a temple or two," Xander promised as he finally found Spike's favorite CD, the one with the screaming singer as opposed to all the others with the screaming singers.  He popped open his C.W. McCall case and pulled out the CD, snapping Spike's CD in there before putting the McCall CD on top.  He clicked the case shut with a smile even as Baby made a soft grumble about annoying sire.  

'Yeah, but I'm annoying him, you aren't,' Xander thought to himself as Baby curled back up.

"Xander?" Willow's voice came through the phone sharply.


"What happened? You weren't answering."

"Spike's phone is at least twice as old as me.  I'm surprised it works at all," Xander lied, feeling a twinge of guilt, but sometimes lies were so much kinder than the truth, and Willow so did not want to hear that he had been debating with his inner demon.  "So, are Giles and Jenny and Larry and Tara and Faith still okay with the whole truce?"

"Giles is still cranky, but Jenny threatened to put Lipton in his good English tea if he didn't get a grip, and everyone else is fine.  Larry says that he's sorry he never met you back in high school after he got his act together. He says you're cool in a slightly freakish kind of way."

"Okay, we have definitely reached an alternate universe because Larry Blaisdell calling me cool is more than slightly freakish," Xander laughed.  "Gotta go, Spike's home," Xander cut off Willow's response as he pushed all the CD's back into one pile.  

"You call, mister," she said, the tone far more threat than request.

"I will.  Bye." Xander hung up without waiting for an answer.  

"Mornin', pet." Spike commented as he came through the door from the garage.

"Evening, Spike," Xander answered.  The sun had gone down a couple of hours ago, and from the green and fading bruise on Spike's cheek, he'd gotten into a fight not long after leaving.

"You packed?"

"Yep, just putting the CD's away now," Xander answered as he stacked piles of CD's into a small box.  Spike looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and Xander smiled sweetly.  Spike's eyebrows lowered into a suspicious frown.  "So, have you decided where we're going?"

"Thought I told ya, we're heading to China.  We just can't leave yet," Spike said, and the tone of voice made Xander abandon the CD box on the counter under the phone as he turned to face Spike.  Long fingers played with a cigarette without lighting it.

"What's up?" Xander asked, and he could feel Baby uncurl and crouch, ready to respond to whatever threat had Spike twitchy.

"Peaches is goin' ta be here later," Spike announced nonchalantly.

"Oh shit," Xander breathed.  "Um, why?"

"He's head of the line, innit he?"

"And he being head of the line means what exactly?"  Xander moved closer to Spike, uneasiness settling in his gut.

"Means for ya to be a childe of the line, he's got to approve ya.  I never did present you to the court."  

Xander felt a cold panic, equal parts him and Baby, wash through him.  Angel had already rejected them once, had refused to take them as childe, and then there were the threats and the choking unconscious and the pinning him to the ground.

"And suddenly I'm liking him even less than usual 'cause I'm thinking that he's never going to approve of me," Xander said quietly, the certainty of it like lead in his stomach.

"Not true.  He'll approve of ya, pet."

"Okay, I'm remembering a certain vampire who shoved me out of his way and basically didn't want me around at all, so if he has a chance to reject me, he's going to do it."  Xander turned around and headed for the bedroom, feeling a sudden need to be somewhere else… anywhere else.

"He never rejected ya," Spike objected as he followed.

"Oh, you didn't see how much he wanted to get rid of me."

"Bloody hell, Xan.  He can't deal with his own demon, and he didn't treat you right because he ignored your demon.  He thought that if he treated ya human you'd suddenly become human because that's what he wants for himself."

"He nearly destroyed me."  Xander sank onto the bed, his knees weak, and Baby surged up, desperate to show strength when Angel came.  Xander shoved him back again, and Baby relented, grumbling but retreating.

"Yeah, pet.  He did.  He always was a big soddin' clod, and gettin' a soul didn't really change that.  He wants to be human, but he knows less 'bout humans than I do," Spike agreed as he sat next to Xander on the bed.  Most of their belongings were in the three suitcases sitting near the door, and the sheets from the previous night were still on the bed, marked with blood and semen.

"So he's coming?"


"And I don't have a choice?"

"No, pet, you don't"

"And he has the right to say yes or no to me being in the family?"


"And if he says no?"

"I'll bloody well stake him, then I'll be the head of the line," Spike snarled.  Then he ran a hand over his hair.  "Either that or we'll just leave and forget the git."

"And if he says yes?"

Then you're a full childe, minions made in our line'll recognize ya because they'll smell the head of the line on ya."

"And ewww.  Do I really want strange vamps smelling me, and how exactly is Angel planning of making me smell, and do I even want to know?" Xander asked suspiciously as he looked over at Spike, and that sour expression on Spike's face didn't make him feel any better.

"If he accepts ya, he'll recognize my claim mark and drink from it, leaving his scent behind.  After that, other masters and minions will recognize ya as a childe, and eventually as a master yourself."

"So I don't have to do anything?"

"Nothin' except keep your mouth shut."

"Keep my mouth shut?  I can do that.  I can totally do that...this is me keeping my mouth shut."   Xander stayed quiet for about thirty seconds, a new record for him.  "Does he have to bite me?" he asked.

"Oi, you're really not goin' to be able to do this, are ya?"

Xander thought about that for a minute before sighing.  "Probably not.  It's not that I don't understand the whole approval of the line stuff...or actually I don't understand, but I can see it's important to you, so I'm okay with it all.  I just don't really want Angel anywhere near me after that whole mess."  Xander stopped and thought about what he was really feeling.  "Actually, I do want Angel near me because I really want to tell him what a thoughtless, heartless, thick-headed son of a bitch he can be."

"And he soddin' well deserves to hear it, but probably not tonight, pet," Spike said with a wry smile.

"Right, being quiet now."  Silence had no more settled before a new thought occurred to Xander. "You know, someone should tell him off for what he did to you too.  I mean, you helped him with the Anointed One and he didn't even say 'thank you,' which, if he's trying to be human, really is the polite thing."

Spike sighed, and Xander realized that he was being remarkably unquiet.  

"Right, quiet," he said as he sat back on the bed.

"Pet, go get the muzzle out of the suitcase."

"What?"  Xander felt a bubble of panic.  "No, no I can be quiet, really."  Spike reached over and ran a finger down his cheek.  He closed his eyes and just enjoyed the touch, happy to once more feel whole and complete in his devotion to sire.

"It'll be easier for ya and maybe for Peaches too," Spike said and Xander felt himself nudged off the bed.  He knew better than to argue when Spike had that expression, so he went and retrieved the tangle of leather and metal.  When he came back and handed it to Spike, he could feel his hand tremble, and Spike must have noticed too.

"Talk to me, pet.  Why does this bother ya?"

"Talk, don't talk, talk...make up your mind," Xander tried joking, but he could tell from Spike's expression that he wasn't going to get away with it.  Spike sat silently waiting for a real answer.  "I don't want Angel to see me like..."  Xander gestured toward the contraption Spike held.

"Why not?"

"Okay, I think that's a little obvious, isn't it?"

"Maybe for someone with a soul, but not for me.  As far as I'm concerned, you're my childe and I have the right to do what I like with ya.  If I have ya naked and chained, it's because I want you naked and chained, and it's not your soddin’ choice.”

"And I'm very grateful that you don't want that," Xander said, hoping that Spike wouldn't decide on doing exactly that now that the thought had crossed his mind.  Okay, actually, he hoped Spike did think that at one point, but just not with company coming.

"You bloody like knowing I'm sire and feeling the leather and steel, and I won't have ya hidin' yourself from Peaches.  He thinks of ya as human because that's how ya act in front of him.  You need to hit him over the head if ya expect him to notice somethin', and I plan on presenting ya as my childe, not as some human I'm playin' a game with."  

Xander didn't respond as Spike stood up and stepped in front of him, running fingers through his hair.  When Spike lifted the leather, he didn't move as the loose straps settled in over his head.  Spike brought the metal bit up to his lips, and he opened without voicing his complaints, shivering as the cold steel settled in over his tongue before Spike fastened it at one side and then tightened the straps, pulling his chin closed over the bit and ensuring that he couldn't even open his mouth, much less say something stupid once Angel came.  Once Spike had tightened the last buckle, the vampire pulled him into an embrace, and Xander allowed himself to relax into his sire's grip.

Now that Spike had taken the choice away, Xander sighed in relief.  No matter how much he tried, he couldn't ever seem to control his mouth, saying things that probably should have gotten him killed.  Lord knows he'd said things to Spike that a less controlled vamp would have killed him over. Xander snorted in laughter. Yep, most vampires took relatively little prompting to kill.  Instead, Spike had forgiven him every stupid comment and every stupid move he'd made.  Okay, so Spike had punished one or two.  Xander flexed his back as he looked at sire.

Feeling Spike's strong hands around him and Spike's muzzle over his face, and feeling Baby's quiet acceptance of Xander's decisions, Xander finally understood Angel's sin. Spike commanded Xander and Baby, but Angel didn't command Spike or answer to Spike.  Xander could relax knowing where he was in the clan, but Spike couldn't.  

Xander felt a flash of sympathy, suddenly realizing what it meant when Spike had described taking Dru and running from Darla.  Spike had been Dru's childe, but then he'd had to protect her, and he'd had no elders to impress with his kills and earn status.  His demon had no place in the clan, and the very fact that the Anointed One made Spike fight for his title showed that other demons recognized it.  Of course, he had fought for a place, and the Anointed One recognized him, but then again, the Anointed One was dead, so maybe he didn't. Okay, slightly confusing.  Sharing his thoughts with Baby, Xander only got back an overwhelming feeling of despair and loss.

Xander ran his tongue along the now warmed metal, feeling the flat bit press into his lips and trap his tongue in the bottom of his mouth.  Since he couldn't tell Spike what he felt, he slipped off the bed and onto his knees at Spike's feet.  When Spike looked down in surprise, Xander pressed his face into the flesh on the inside of Spike's thigh, looking up as Spike cocked an eyebrow in surprise.

"So, you alright with it now, pet?"  Denied of words, Xander nodded.  When Spike reached down to play with the hair not trapped under the leather, Xander closed his eyes and leaned into the touch, enjoying his sire's attentions and enjoying the feeling of his own demon happily circling within.

"You're mine, pet.  Angel or no Angel, you'll always be mine," Spike promised softly, and Xander could only moan at the words that made Xander Jr. stir to life.   He guessed that Spike had noticed when the vampire chuckled.

"William," a dark voice came, and Xander turned on his knees, a panic momentarily causing his vision to slide into red before settling back into the normal color spectrum.  He would have stood at the sight of Angel standing in the doorway, but Spike's firm grip on his shoulder warned him to stay down, so he settled in on his knees.

"Peaches," Spike replied, mimicking the warning tone.

"Take it off him," Angel ordered, and Xander started breathing faster through his nose as he realized that the anger was over him.

"He's my childe and I'll do as I please," Spike quickly shot back.

"He's a human being," Angel replied, and Spike only snorted.

"You nearly destroyed him thinkin' that the first time round.  Thought ya learned your lesson there, Peaches."  

"I made a bad judgment," Angel admitted cautiously, and Xander could feel Spike's leg muscle twitch.  He wondered whether the younger vampire was surprised or amused or angry, but he really didn't have a chance to ask or even throw himself in the middle of the fight since his sire had chosen to muzzle him.

"Bad judgment," Spike snorted.  "Bad judgment is that hair cut.  What ya did to Xander was cruelty."

"And that thing on his head isn't cruel?"

"No, it isn't, and even if he didn't want it, he's my childe and I'll teach him to control himself the way I see fit.  I won't bloody teach him control the way you taught me."  Xander watched as the fight flowed out of Angel like a popped balloon.

"William," Angel said again, and this time Xander could sense the guilt as if it were painted on the vampire's face.

"Oi, enough.  You're here to accept Xander as a childe of the line, and that's it.  Rather go to Darla or even the Anointed One for this, but you're it now, so soddin' well do your job as head of the line."  Angel was silent for several minutes, and then he started chuckling.  Xander looked up to Spike, but he could see the confusion there too.

"Finally lost your mind then?" Spike asked when the quiet laughter continued.

"I'm trying to picture Darla's reaction to a half-human childe of the line," Angel confessed, and Xander watched as Spike expression wandered between annoyed and amused.

"He's as good as any childe of this line," Spike finally announced.  Angel looked down, and Xander fought an urge to squirm under the gaze.  Here he was, one time vampire hunter who brought down the mighty Cassidy and he was muzzled and kneeling at the feet of one master vampire waiting for another one to bite him.  Life was funny.

"He's better than most," Angel said quietly, and Xander could feel his demon stir, creeping out of the corner into which it had retreated at the sight of Angel.  His cock started stirring as well.

"So, you're goin' to accept him?" Spike asked, and for the first time Xander heard the uncertainty and the desire.  How old had Spike been when his sire had abandoned him? Xander felt a flash of anger as he realized just how painful that must have been.  Had Darla taken him on as a childe or treated him as a minion? When they'd run, had Dru been sane enough to ever play sire?  When it came to being accepted into the line, Xander couldn't say he cared one way or the other because he knew that Spike would stay with him either way, but if Angel denied Spike this bit of respect, Xander was going to stake Angel himself.  He must have made a noise because both vampires looked at him.

"And that'd be the reason for the muzzle," Spike said, and Xander felt slim fingers give his hair a little tug.

"Is this what he wants?" Angel asked, but Xander didn't even try to answer with a nod.  He leaned back against his sire who had now started running hands down his chest.  Xander put his own hands on Spike's legs, holding himself steady under that touch.

"Think he's happy enough," Spike pointed out as he thumbed open several buttons and put those talented hands to work inside Xander's shirt.

"I mean it Spike, let him talk and tell me this is what he wants."

"Is that the way it's done now, Peaches?  These modern vampires givin' their childer a choice? 'Cause I have to say, I don't remember anyone askin' my opinion on the matter."  Spike's hands had found his nipples, and Xander leaned back, feeling Spike's hard cock between his shoulder blades.  He knew this game well enough to know not to touch back, so he closed his hands around Spike's thighs and tried not to squirm as Spike rolled a nipple between his finger and thumb.

"William," Angel said, but this time in such a strangled tone, Xander's eyes flew open in time to see Angel morph into his vampire face, the heavy brow and wider face making his demon features far more menacing than Spike's, although Xander was bright enough to never say that out loud, not that he had a choice at the moment he mused as he used his tongue to play with the bit in his mouth.

"You want to know whether he consents, use your bloody nose like a vampire," Spike said, his hands never stopping their travels across Xander's body.  "Stop tryin' ta be a soddin' human and do what ya need to do, Peaches."  

Spike pulled suddenly, and Xander felt the last couple of buttons pop as his sire pulled the shirt from his back.  Xander would have yelped or cursed or asked what the hell Spike was doing, but with his current situation, all he could do was take a larger than normal breath through his nose before snorting it out and glaring at his sire who didn't seem bothered at all.  

"Just because he wants you doesn't mean he want this," Angel waved his hand around in a wide sweep, and Xander had to assume Angel meant being part of the line.  He would have had something rude to say back, but the muzzle kept his mouth closed, and Spike's hand creeping into his jeans distracted him to the point of forgetting his own name.  Xander quickly found his button and zipper opened as Spike began playing in earnest.  With a heavy groan, Xander thrust his hips forward as Spike's hand closed around his shaft, but a sharp slap on his thigh reminded him of the rules.

"Stay still," Spike ordered, and Xander dug his fingers into the flesh above Spike's knees as he struggled to do just that even as Spike used feather light touches that left him panting through his nose.  Suddenly remembering their audience, Xander looked up to find Angel staring at them with open lust.  Xander flinched at the expression, but the demon lunged forward, eager to show obedience, and his cock now began to leak.  

For a moment, Xander panicked thinking that Baby was turning to Angel again, but he could feel Baby's unrelenting devotion to Spike even while it sought to tempt Spike's sire.  Xander realized that his demon wanted Angel as the head of the line, wanted to be found worthy of being Spike's childe.  

Assured that his demon was under control, Xander gave his lust free reign, throwing his head back onto Spike's stomach even as he tilted it to show his neck and his deep claim mark.  Rubbing his cheek into Spike's abdomen like a giant cat, Xander raised himself up on his knees so that Spike could reach more easily.  Of course this created even more need to thrust, but Xander fought to control the urge.

Slowly, his jeans slid down his legs leaving his cock sticking up and weeping even as he tried to ignore it, concentrating on his sire's naked stomach beneath his cheek and the feel of the leather muzzle straps between their flesh.  Occasionally he couldn't control the urge to drive his hips forward, and each time Spike's hand would slap the same spot on his thigh, hard enough to sting and undoubtedly leave a red mark, but not hard enough to actually hurt.  The slaps simply reminded him of his duty to remain still.  

Xander heard a low menacing growl, and he felt his own demon issue a much smaller version which was even more muffled by the muzzle, but Spike's answering growl drowned out his own, and suddenly he felt himself pulled from his master's embrace and nearly tripped as his jeans settled around his ankles effectively hobbling him.  He stood there with Angel's large hands immobilizing his arms for long seconds, waiting for the bite, for the rejection, for something.

"So ye think ye can come in here and tell me how to act?" Angel asked in lilting accent, and Xander lowered his brows in confusion until he realized that Angel was talking to Spike over his shoulder.  He turned his head to look at Spike, but Angel came to life, shaking him as if he were a puppy, and Xander turned his attention back to the older vampire before his brain could rattle free.

"I'd ask that you accept my childer into the line of Aurelius," Spike said in a quiet, cultured tone that sounded more college professor that punk vampire.

"And have ye taught him to sit at yer feet?" Angel asked, and Xander now recognized the ceremonial tone of the exchange.

"Yeah, both of them." Spike answered, and Xander realized what Spike was truly asking for. Baby stilled to silence, fear of doing the wrong thing leaving him motionless in Xander's mind.

"And do ye take responsibility for their actions?" Angel asked, changing to the plural.


"And will ye teach them of the line?"  

Spike ruined the somber mood with an amused snort.  "Bloody hell no.  Bein' that Xander's human, I don't think ya want him knowin' most of our line's sadistic history, and Baby probably doesn't really want to hear that we come from a soddin' insane lot.  More insane that most vamps even."  Xander felt the hands at his arms twitch and tighten until he winced, but he remained silent.  And thankful...thankful that Spike had muzzled him because he very much wanted to add his two cents, and he knew this wasn't the time to point out that Angel didn't have to act like a cave man even if he did look like one.  Angel remained silent, his hands spastically tightening and loosening on Xander's arms until he finally continued with the ceremony.

"And will ye teach them to hunt?"


"And will ye teach them to respect the elders of his line?"

Another snort of laughter from Spike.  "Bloody hell mate, all that's left is you, me, and a bunch of soddin' minions left over from the Anointed One.  And if ya think I'm goin' ta teach him to play respectful childe at your feet, you don't remember much about me, Peaches."

"If they stray from the line, do ye accept the duty to punish or kill?"  Whoa, that one made Xander study Angel's face, the whole kill thing being a little out there, but Angel's face remained impassive.

"I'll punish them as I see fit, but I'll be dust before I let anyone kill either of 'em," Spike snarled, and that answer seemed to cause something in Angel to snap because the vampire dropped back into human face for just a second before the ridges returned and Angel continued as if nothing had happened.

"I accept your childer into the line of Aurelius as the childer of William who was made by Drusilla and sired by Angelus." Xander barely had time to register his relief at the words before Angel struck, driving his fangs into Spike's claim mark even while wrapping arms around Xander's torso.  Xander stood there, unable to do anything else until Angel raised his head, his mouth still red.  

Suddenly Xander felt Spike at his back as he was pressed between as Spike's mouth descended on his still tender mark, biting deeper than ever before, and Xander squirmed in the grip of both vampires.  When Spike raised his mouth, the two vampires kissed over Xander's shoulder, and Xander breathed a sigh realizing that it had all ended without any dust and he and Baby had just been accepted into one very strange family consisting of a souled vampire, an outcast vampire, and a half-vampire.  Sadly enough, it wasn't any stranger than his first family.  Expecting Angel to leave now, he wasn't prepared for what came next.

"I've missed ye, boy," Angel whispered, and Xander could feel Spike shudder at the words.  Spike's hand closed over his neck, and Xander felt himself being pulled toward a corner of the room.  He struggled to step out of his jeans without tripping, and Spike snagged a pillow on their way past the bed.  When Spike tossed the pillow on the floor in the corner, Xander looked at it in confusion until he felt the hand at his neck pressing him down.  He quickly knelt, and Spike knelt in front of him, taking each of his wrists and pressing it to the small of his back before letting go.  When Spike stood, Xander remained kneeling, holding his hands behind his back.  

"Stay still," Spike whispered hoarsely and then turned his back before Xander could even nod in agreement.

"I never left, mate.  Like I said earlier, actin' like a human git doesn't change who you are."

"Spike," Angel said with a helplessness.

"Oi, not again.  The boy's a ruddy white knight, but he still feels his instincts, so don't even bloody tell me how you don't.  You came to us in China; you sought out your sire."

"And she rejected me," Angel cut him off.

"Because she was a bloody cow," Spike snapped. Spike walked over to Angel who had stood unmoving.


"Just don't bloody ruin the one decent thing you've done since you got here," Spike asked, his voice low and then Xander watched as Spike's slender hands reached up to unbutton Angel's shirt.  At first, Angel's hands twitched as though he would stop him, but then he remained standing as Spike undid another button and another. Xander had to grip his own wrists to keep from reaching out and touching the two vampires or himself.

Closing his eyes and groaning, Xander could smell the lust and need in the air.  However, his closed eyes flew open at the sound of thick ominous growls, and Xander watched as Angel reached out and grabbed Spike's neck, only to have the younger, smaller vampire roll out of the embrace and jump back.  Angel growled even louder and lunged forward, snatching at Spike's arm, but Spike laughed and dodged away.  Xander had one moment of panic that something had gone wrong, and he half stood before noticing Spike's expression.  At the sight of his sire's lust, he sank back down and clasped his hands at the small of his back again.  

Spike sprinted for the door, but he couldn't get past Angel fast enough, and the larger vampire used his bulk to slam Spike into the wall so hard that Xander could feel the wall tremble from eight feet away in his corner.  He could hear Spike hissing, but Angel closed an arm around Spike's neck and tossed him on the bed.  Spike hit the bed and used the bounce to make a hasty exit on the far side.

"Ye won't win," Angel said, his lilting Irish accent still coloring his words, making Xander tremble in anticipation.  He'd always thought the whole accents being sexy thing was pure crap, but obviously accents did it for him.  Spike's voice always got him hard, and now this new Angel with his calculating grin and soft Irish accent was so much sexier than the Broodmeister.

"Bloody wanker, can't just walk in and take back your title as sire," Spike said, and Xander heard the pain and the hope.  From the way Angel temporarily faltered in his stalking, he did as well.  "Besides, you never liked playin' these games with me, remember?" Spike demanded as he crouched, and now Xander could see the determination in Spike's eyes.  He wondered what had changed, but asking questions wasn't an option, so he would just have to wait and see.

"Won't deny I lost my mind for a while, but ye are my childe, and you'll remember yer place, even if ye have proved your worth as a master."  This time Spike lost his concentration, coming out of the crouch and stepping back at that comment, and Angel took the opportunity to dive forward, grabbing Spike by the waist and forcing him to the wall.  

Xander raised himself up on his knees, eager to see over the bed, and he saw his master pressed face first into the wall with Angel biting into his neck from behind.  Spike’s struggles grew weak, and Xander wondered if it was because the lust was overcoming the anger or whether the blood loss had debilitated Spike.  Either way, Angel took advantage by reaching around and ripping the jeans from Spike's body, tossing the younger vampire onto the bed as if he were no more than a doll.  

Spike lay there, unmoving, and Xander settled back onto his heels, assuming the main portion of the evening’s entertainment was over as Angel slipped out of his own pants and boxers before kneeling at the foot of the bed, his knees straddling Spike's feet.  However, Spike wasn't out of it yet, he sat up and got a fistful of Angel's hair, but instead of using it to push Angel away, he pulled him closer, and buried his own face in Angel's neck, biting it with blunt human teeth that Angel quickly pulled away by grabbing his own handful of hair.  

"Now, now, boy.  Ye haven't earned that yet," Angel chided, and Spike growled and abruptly the two became wrestlers, clutching at each other's limbs and throwing each other around with such force that Xander pressed himself into the wall.  They started on the bed, but Spike, in an attempt to roll Angel off him, pushed both of them to the concrete floor with such force Xander suspected he would have broken bones in the maneuver.  

Angel grabbed for Spike's cock, and Xander knew from experience that would have ended the wrestling match, but Spike turned his hips at the last minute, leaving Angel holding the less vulnerable leg. Angel then used his grip to force Spike's leg up into the air, pressing Spike's upper body to the ground, but Spike twisted his leg, taking a swipe at Angel's cock with his own heel, and Angel released him to avoid the hit.  

Spike sprung to his feet, and Angel moved in again, slamming his child to the wall not two feet from where Xander knelt, and Xander watched as Angel reached down and worked a finger between Spike's cheeks, Spike bucking and growling as Angel forced his finger up inside Spike, and then continued until Spike stood on his toes, forced to use Angel's shoulders for balance as Angel slowly lifted him from the ground until Spike's legs dangled and Spike threw his head back and to the side.  

Angel struck swiftly, biting Spike again, and now Spike's noises sounded less aggressive than needy, and Xander found himself moaning with his sire at the sight.  When Spike's feet found ground again, Xander watched in fascination as Angel forced a second finger in with effort, and Spike widened his stance, allowing his face to fall to Angel's shoulder.

"Lube," Angel hissed, and Xander didn't realize that the comment had been for him until Angel's foot nudged him out of his daze.  Realizing that Spike couldn't exactly move impaled as he was with Angel holding him tightly enough to force him onto his toes, Xander hurried to the nightstand and grabbed the tube before returning to the pair.  Angel kept one hand on the back of Spike's neck, forcing Spike into his own chest as he held out the second hand and growled "A lot of it."

Xander quickly opened the tube and put a large amount on Angel's two fingers before going back to his kneeling position which gave him a unique view as Angel opened his sire.  Angel used his now wet fingers to impale his childe again and then threw him to the bed.  

This time instead of fighting, Spike rolled to his side and watched Angel with pure, undisguised lust, and Angel must have known he had won because he slowly approached the bed with the confidence of a victor, and Xander could only groan at the sight of a naked Angel closing in on a naked Spike, and here he was stuck in the corner, gripping his own wrists so hard that he feared he might draw blood and dripping pre-cum on the floor at regular intervals.

Meanwhile, Angel had reached the bed, and Xander watched his large hand run down the length of Spike's side and thigh, bypassing Spike's hard cock, and without further preamble, he flipped Spike onto his stomach and Spike arched like a cat as Angel arranged himself straddling Spike from the back and thrust in without further fuss, and Xander could hear the same strangled cry that he had heard so often when Spike rode him, and he nearly came at the sound, only Baby's desire to impress Sire and his own lack of permission kept him from turning into a regular fountain.  

Angel thrust so powerfully that Spike traveled up the bed until he could brace himself on the headboard.  Both vampires now made low growling noises as Angel lunged forward.  Xander could see Spike struggle to his knees and once he had that leverage, he drove back into Angel so hard he could hear the larger vampire grunt with the impact as skin hit skin with a sharp slapping sound.  

Xander closed his eyes in frustration, struggling to not come as he heard the sounds of the wild coupling continued on long past what a human could have endured.  Finally, he heard an unfamiliar roar followed by Spike’s own cry of completion, and he opened his eyes to see Angel collapse on top of Spike.  

Xander tried to stifle his whimper of frustration, but he knew he’d failed when gold eyes turned to consider him where he squirmed on the pillow, desperate to just reach around and give his cock the one or two pulls it would take to reach orgasm.  

“Your childe seems to be having a problem,” Angel commented, the accent now almost gone under the tones of his everyday voice.  Xander heard a muffled reply, but he couldn’t make out any words until Angel’s body arced up into the air slightly as the smaller body under him squirmed to work free.

“Move your soddin’ arse, Peaches,” Spike voice finally demanded, and Angel laughed right before Xander heard the unmistakable sound of hand hitting flesh.  However, Angel did in fact shift over to the far side of Spike.  Xander watched as Spike rose up and considered him.  The blond flipped over onto his back and arranged the pillows under him so that he was reclining without being flat on his back.  

Xander knew that Spike might want time with his own sire and send him away, and he knew that he’d have a hard time coming outside Spike’s presence, but he tried not to let his desperation shine through his eyes.  Spike had waited a hundred years for Angel to pull his head out of his ass, and Xander wasn’t going to interfere with that.  However, Spike didn’t even hesitate.

“Come here, pet,” he ordered, and Xander rose and went to Spike, standing by the side of the bed still dripping from his cock which now looked rather scary-purple.  

"I should," Angel looked over at the door, but Spike reached up and pulled at one of Angel's nipples.

"You should bloody stay.  You've got new childer to welcome to the family."

"I…" Angel glanced toward Xander, and Xander could feel Baby curl up tighter, burying himself in Xander's thoughts.

"You're a vampire, and if you want to be some do-gooding vampire like my pet, that's fine, but you won't change what you are."

"You're still as mouthy as ever," Angel said as he looked down at Spike.

"Not nearly as mouthy as Xander," Spike countered.

“He minds a good deal better than you ever did,” Angel said and Xander blushed as he realized that Angel was openly examining Xander’s naked and very aroused body.

“Yeah, but you should hear him prattle on when he’s nervous.  It’s enough to drive ya as batty as Dru.”  Xander blushed even redder and looked down, realizing that Spike spoke the truth.

“He doesn’t seem very talkative to me,” Angel said, and Xander looked up as a large rough finger touched his cheek.  Angel reached over Spike to initiate the touch, and Xander felt the finger slip under the leather strap running down his cheek.  Angel’s finger forced the bit even deeper into his mouth as Angel pulled him onto the bed.

Xander followed that pull, climbing onto the bed with the two vampires, and thinking again how glad he was that he didn’t have to talk because nothing in his life had ever prepared him for this.  ‘Hey, how ya doing’ seemed a little casual, but ‘wow, nice cock’ wouldn’t have won him any style points considering the other occupants of the bed had about three hundred and fifty years of sexual experience between them.  Yep, pretty damn intimidating his brain concluded.  His cock had other ideas as it continued to twitch and drip.

He felt Spike’s familiar hands on him, guiding him to lie on his back between his sire’s legs, his back resting against Spike’s chest.  Angel now shifted so that he straddled four legs, and Xander could feel his urge to babble really hit high gear as he noticed how his own tanned and hairy legs contrasted with Spike’s pale and nearly hairless ones.  He shifted his feet uncomfortably as he tried to avoid eye contact with Angel, but a firm hand under his chin lifted his face so that he looked directly into Angel’s yellow eyes.

“A very pretty boy,” Angel decreed, and Xander started fidgeting even more, at least until Spike curled his legs so that his calves rested on Xander’s knees, pinning him down.  Angel gave a smile that was less than reassuring before shifting first one knee and then the other to the inside of Xander and Spike’s tangled legs, Spike helping by using his own legs to pull Xander’s knees open.  Angel’s hands reached up to rest on his chest, and Xander couldn’t take any more, he reached up and covered those large hands with his own, begging with his eyes for one of the vampires to take pity on him before he died of sexual frustration.

“Oi, control yourself, pet,” Spike said in a slightly aggravated tone before grabbing his wrists from behind and pulling his hands down to the bed on either side of his chest.

“Certain fledge I once knew would have come all over himself by now,” Angel said with a quiet laugh.  “Come to think of it, a certain fledge I know did come all over himself when he got caught in a bed between his sire and his sire’s sire.”  Xander snorted his amusement, the only sound he really could make, as he realized that the baby pictures his mother had pulled out over his nineteenth birthday dinner couldn’t compare with twenty years of embarrassing fledge stories that Angel probably had on Spike.

“Watch it pet.  You’re the only bloody person I know who could be muzzled and still get himself in trouble with his mouth,” Spike warned with a nip at Xander’s ear, and Xander rolled his head to the side to give Spike better access.

“Not even a hint of fear,” Angel said with something like awe in his voice, and Xander turned toward Angel as the vampire sat up slightly, the ridges fading into human features before he put large hands back on Xander’s chest.  This time Angel bent down and took a nipple in his mouth so suddenly that Xander bucked and tried to scream his lust, but Spike held him as Angel bit.  

When Angel transferred to the other nipple, his nipple simply shone bright pink and stood out at attention, and his cock throbbed in time with his heartbeat.  He bucked again as Angel repeated the procedure on the second nipple, but Spike had tightened his hold so he really couldn’t move much.  Angel’s hands moved down to his hips as Angel moved up to nip at his claim mark, and Xander felt the familiar warmth he always felt when Spike touched that sensitive spot.

“Don’t come,” Spike warned, and Xander felt that feeling of impending release retreat.  He groaned loudly, and Spike just laughed as Angel turned from nipping to licking the claim bite.  “Told ya he’s vocal,” Spike said, and Xander could feel Angel chuckle as the large body pressed down into his rippled.  

Angel drew back, and Xander found himself face to face with those deep brown eyes right before Angel kissed him, dull human teeth pulling out his lower lip and gnawing at it gently.  Xander could only writhe caught between the pleasure of the act and the pain of his own delayed orgasm.  Angel kissed him again before moving to his upper lip.  Angel placed one last kiss on his closed lips before sliding down and running tongue over Xander’s hip, and Xander really would have come if Spike hadn’t tightened his grip and whispered “no” in his ear.  Angel looked up and slid into game face before flaring his nostrils in an expression Xander recognized as the vampire’s attempt to smell his mood, his pheromones.  

“No fear,” Angel whispered again, this time in game face before lowering his head and biting the inside of Xander’s thigh.  Xander mewled pitifully behind the muzzle, now almost dying to come, but Spike had taken up a slow chant of “no” in his ear, and the desire to obey sire and the desire to just fucking come battled so fiercely that Xander shook his head in frustration, that being the only part of him not held motionless by Spike.  He felt Spike twitch below him, and he looked down to see Angel now licking a wound on Spike’s calf.

“Flip him,” Angel said quietly, and Xander felt himself released and immediately grabbed by two vampires who turned him so that his head rested on Spike’s shoulder.  Luckily the angle meant that his now painful cock was kept off the mattress by the position of Spike’s body below him.  Unluckily, Spike once again tangled their limbs.  

Xander could feel Spike’s feet braced at the back of his knees, his legs held wide open, which wasn’t actually a problem for him as long as someone did something soon to allow him to come.  He didn’t fight when Spike once again grabbed his wrists, holding his arms slightly away from his body; he just rested his head on Spike’s shoulder and tried to concentrate on breathing and not having his cock explode because he really would miss that piece of anatomy.

The bed dipped again, and Xander felt movement on the inside of his thighs as Angel moved into position, but he closed his eyes and allowed himself to ride the waves of sensation.  Large hands started at his shoulders, but the hands didn’t linger this time, they moved swiftly up his trembling back and then down to his butt where a cold wetness told him that they were near the final event now.  He wiggled a little as the first finger entered, but the finger ignored the prostate, and Xander didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing, but no one asked him and he definitely didn’t have any control over the situation, so he relaxed into his sire’s body and concentrated on allowing the fingers to do their exploring.  

He had lost track of fingers, time, and generally his own brain by the time he felt something larger than fingers pushing into him.  He took a deep breath and breathed out as Angel pushed in, willing himself to relax.  Where Angel had taken Spike hard, the vampire now moved so slow that Xander would have cursed him and begged him to do something if his mouth wasn’t occupied by steel and clamped shut with leather.  When Angel finally pushed all the way in and he could feel the vampire pressed up against his ass, he waited for the action, but Angel pulled back so slowly and slid in again so slowly that Xander thought he’d lose his mind.  He flexed his arm muscles, but Spike held him immobile as Angel continued his slow torture.  

Xander mewled into his muzzle again, tossing his head, and maybe Angel got the hint because the next thrust came so hard that Xander felt himself pressed into Spike’s body, stars and black spot appearing in his vision as Angel pressed into his prostate.  Another hard thrust and another and suddenly Xander was struggling just to breath as he felt his body warm and he struggled against the imprisonment.  Angel went faster, and suddenly he could hear Spike whispering.

“Come, come now, pet.  It’s all right, let go now.”  As soon as Xander’s overtaxed brain processed those words, he felt his cock explode and he spasmed and jerked, Angel’s cock ramming into him suddenly seeming much larger as his muscles involuntarily tightened, and then he could feel Angel’s release.  Angel draped himself over his back, the vampire pulling large unneeded gasps of air, and Xander could feel himself fading into the post release daze.

“Sleep, pet,” he heard a voice suggest from a very long distance away, and he allowed himself to sink into that darkness, so completely sated and relaxed that he couldn’t guarantee that his muscles hadn’t just been magically turned to jello.


Xander woke to the strangest morning he had yet experienced, and considering some of his mornings since hooking up with Spike, that was something.  He was spread eagle on the bed, Spike below him and Angel above him, which wasn’t as strange as Angel still buried deep inside him, and Xander could feel his own cock respond instantly to the presence.  He tried to yawn, only to discover that the muzzle was still in place, and when he went to raise his head, he found something hard and fuzzy pinning it to his sire’s chest.  Xander moved an arm restlessly, not really sure what he could do with one free arm since the other seemed trapped under a weight, but then he felt fingers at the back of his neck.

“Shh, pet.  Just relax, the big ox isn’t awake yet.”  Ox was right, Xander thought as his attempts to move led to a dull ache in his backside where Angel’s still engorged member held him open.  Damn vampire anatomy, he thought as he honestly tried to relax, wondering if Spike had any idea just how uncomfortable he was.

“Don’t bloody know how I ended up on the bottom since I’m the smallest one here.  If I’d been human you two woulda soddin’ crushed the life outta me,” Spike complained quietly, but Xander felt Spike’s cock beginning to press up into his own body, so he suspected that Spike wasn’t suffering too much.

“Course it’s nice to wake up ta the quiet,” Spike teased as the hand moved to the cheek strap and gave it a tug.  Xander just snorted his opinion of that and pressed up with his head which was pinned below Angel’s own head he realized.  “Shh,” Spike repeated, and Xander stopped his little movements, allowing Angel’s weight to press his head back down firmly into Spike’s chest.

“Been a long time since I woke up with my sire in my bed, and havin’ a sire and a childe is about more than I can believe when I stop to think,” Spike said, and Xander used his one free hand to reach up and touch Spike’s cheek.  Spike stopped stroking his neck and took the hand in his own grip, bringing it to his lips where he kissed it gently.  

“Never told ya, pet.  But I figured when I got the last of the wankers who took out Dru, I scheduled myself to watch a sunrise.”  Xander had told himself to just be still and wait, but that statement made him jerk, frantic to see Spike’s face, but pinned in such a way he could only see Angel’s shoulder and the wall.

“Hush.  Not goin’ to now, pet.” Spike murmured in his ear.  “Had just lost everythin’ and thought I couldn’t get any of it back.  My whole line had been destroyed by Peaches and his soul, but I couldn’t stop loving the bastard because he was still my sire, and I couldn’t stop bein’ angry that he left.  When I couldn’t protect Dru, I just figured that this world didn’t have anything in it for me.”  Xander could feel tears slide down his nose and drop onto Spike’s chest, the only way he had of telling his sire how he was feeling.

“No need for that,” Spike said more firmly.  “Since I found you, life’s been lookin’ a little more fun.  Got my sire back although I don’t really plan on having him around too much, and I got to mess with a slayer and have a bloody hell of a lot of fun kicking some demon arse.  

"And now, for the first time I have a childe of my own, one I bloody well won’t ever leave.”  Xander felt Spike’s hand move back to his neck, and he suddenly felt his demon rise up and start purring, the first time ever it had done so without Spike initiating it.  Spike’s hand stopped for a minute before resuming, and now Xander could feel the purr below him.  Xander wondered if Spike would have ever made such a confession if Xander had woken with his normal talkativeness, and he resolved to try to be a little quieter in the future. Didn’t expect to succeed, but he planned to try.

Above him, Angel remained motionless but started his own rumble, a rumble that traveled through the vampire’s entire body, including his cock, making Xander feel like he had a very large very gentle vibrating dildo pressed into him, which would normally be of the good, but after last night, his cock sent as many pain signals as pleasure signals.  Oh yeah, two vampires plus one mostly human in the same bed led to one worn out human, Xander mused.  Xander’s first indication that Angel was waking was the twitch buried deep in him.  Figures, vamps wake up cock first, which is pretty appropriate for their lifestyles, Xander thought. He tried to relax, but the twitching and the rumbling purr and the slow beginning to wake movements in the body above him, combined with the evidence of Spike’s interest below him, soon had Xander Jr. up and begging despite a steady soreness.

Angel began making small thrusts even as he made the small sounds that usually accompanied waking.  Xander groaned as the soreness competed with his prostate and his demon’s pleasure at being so completely taken.  By the time Angel’s hands started making purposeful movements, his hips rocked back and forth, pressing Xander into his sire as Angel pulled out no more than an inch before pushing back in.  As Angel started pushing himself up, lifting his head, and using his arms to hold his own weight, the thrusts grew longer.  

At first, Xander panicked at the lack of lube since he could feel skin pulling skin, but the more Angel undulated the more he could feel the skin slide smoothly.  Xander realized that Angel’s deposit from the previous evening was now the morning lube.  Handy.  Well, either that or gross, but he'd worry about that later.

Soon Angel’s thrusts had grown stronger than the previous evening, and Xander found himself grunting with every thrust, his cock hard as he started pushing back into it, Spike lying below without restraining him.  As Xander felt Angel start coming, he pressed his forehead into the crook of Spike’s neck, and he felt his sire holding the back of his head as he struggled to hold his own orgasm.  Spike hadn’t told him he couldn’t come, but he hadn’t said he could, and Xander decided to err on the side of caution.  Suddenly Angel pulled out, and Xander felt strangely empty without that presence in his body.  He wondered how long he had slept intimately attached to the other man.  He really didn’t have time to think about it as Spike slid out from under him and took up his own position behind Xander.

Xander lowered his head to his arms, not knowing how long Spike would draw out this exquisite torture, but Spike just slid in smoothly and began to powerfully drive in almost immediately.  Xander felt a hand reach around and grab the base of his cock even as Spike stopped.  He knew this game.  Xander drove himself back onto Spike before thrusting forward into that welcoming fist.  Throwing himself forward and backwards, Xander didn’t have long to wait before Spike lost control and began pounding him.  When Spike started coming, Xander released his own orgasm, his cock sending waves of both pleasure and pain.  

When Spike withdrew, Xander sighed and rolled onto his side.

“Are you all right?” Angel asked from the far side of the room, and Xander could see the guilt rising up to high tide.  He nodded, not really able to do more reassurance than that.

“He’s smellin’ a bit more than okay,” Spike pointed out as he held out a hand.  Xander took the hand and stood up, feeling liquid running down the back of his thighs as he wiggled his ass trying to reduce the feeling of strangeness.  Yes, he’d worn plugs at night before, but Angel was a good sight bigger than any plug.

“I shouldn’t have…” Angel started, and Spike snorted his disgust.

“Last night was the only time since you got to Sunnydale that ya haven’t cocked somethin’ up.  Say you’re happy and make your way back to your own little humans,” Spike suggested.

“William,” Angel began before switching tactics.  “Spike, I just need to know both the demon and the human are okay with what happened,” Angel asked so softly that Xander found himself wondering what it would be like to carry so much pain and guilt in one body.  Spike snorted again, but Xander felt himself pulled toward Spike as clever fingers quickly undid the clasps that held the muzzle in place.  

Once Spike loosened the straps, Xander opened his mouth and pushed the bit out of it, moving his tongue around to get the feel for it again.  Spike tossed the contraption on the bed, and Xander was left just as speechless as when he’d worn the thing.  What could he say to ease 250 years of guilt?  Xander took a lesson from the previous evening and bypassed words all together.

Xander walked up to Angel and went up on his toes to reach up and truly kiss him without the muzzle keeping him from participating.  He moved his lips against Angel’s slowly opening them in invitation, and Angel’s tongue took him up, as they kissed deeply.  Xander felt himself unexpectedly pulled from Angel’s mouth as Angel tilted his neck and pulled Xander into the curve where neck and shoulder meet.

“Drink,” Angel said, and Xander felt the demon rise in near rapture.  His vision went red and the familiar ache in his mouth told him that his own fangs had dropped as he sunk his teeth into the skin.  The first taste nearly knocked him off his feet, and he hadn’t pulled but a few mouthfuls from Angel when he started to feel light headed, so he withdrew, unable to even keep his balance for a few seconds.  Angel smiled at him and then tucked him him under an arm.

“Childe,” Angel held out his hand and kept his head tilted, and Xander watched as Spike approached cautiously, almost as if expecting a trap.  When he came close enough, Angel reached out and pulled the blonde head into his own neck, and Xander could feel a shudder go through the large frame as Spike bit in and drank significantly more that a few mouthfuls.

When Spike finally pulled back, he whispered the word “sire” and Angel touched his cheek once before snagging his clothes off the floor and walking out.

“Well I seriously hope he’s planning on putting those clothes on before he goes out on the street,” Xander said a few moments after Angel had disappeared.

“The muzzle’s still out, childe,” Spike said with a friendly cuff to the back of the head.  “Let’s get breakfast.”

Xander suspected that the touchy feely portion of the program had ended.  “Um, I’m thinking shower first because eww,” Xander said as he felt the trickle down the back of his legs.

“Not nice to call the remains of a passionate night ‘ew’,” Spike pointed out as he headed out into the main room.

“Yeah, say that when it’s running down your legs and getting on your carpet.  Well, actually it is your carpet I’m dripping on here,” Xander pointed out and Spike reappeared in the room quickly enough.

“Ew,” Spike complained.  “Get your arse in the shower.”  Xander would have been more convinced if Spike hadn’t laughed the whole time.

The End

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