Getting to Know You

Xander didn't remember drifting off to sleep; his next memory included laying on his back with a cool body draped over his half-naked frame and his hands still chained with about twelve inches of chain between the manacles and a couple of feet of chain giving him just enough movement to prevent his arms from becoming sore. 

He shifted, and a cool hand reached out and gently smoothed his hair back, and a sleepy British voice mumbled, "'S'all right luv."

In those moments of partial consciousness before thought fully engages and only half-understood messages reach the sleep-addled brain, Xander found happiness.  He felt content, the little voice in his head felt protected, and Xander Jr. was rapidly moving toward ecstatic.  However, as the sleep slowly fell from his mind, he rediscovered his anger, even if the little voice and Xander Jr. insisted on remaining happy.

"Wake up, bleach boy." He looked down and found Spike's head on his bare chest with one leg thrown over both his legs.  Since he couldn't reach down and push Spike off, he bucked his body.  "Wake up," he shouted louder.

"What the…" Spike woke up, in full game face with a growl already rumbling from his chest and gold eyes staring into Xander's frightened brown ones.  As Spike crouched above, he froze in fear at the image of the powerful beast that lived within Spike, but then the face faded back into human features and he could see the look of confusion.  He wondered if he had woken Spike in the middle of a dream because Spike didn't seem to recognize him for that moment.  "Why?" Spike started again, his voice still blurry with fatigue.

"I need to get up," he said quietly once Spike seemed fully in control again.

"Bloody hell, I'm warm; no you don't.  You're comfortable," Spike lowered his head to Xander's chest again.  For a moment he wondered whether Spike was ordering him to be comfortable—you know that whole dominate the inner demon thing—or whether Spike was trying to compliment him on making a nice pillow.  Either way, it didn't really matter.

"You aren't going to be comfortable in about five seconds when your bed is wet and smelly."

"Why would…" Spike began, but then the voice stopped as Spike started rolling himself toward the opposite side of the bed.  Xander told himself not to notice that the vampire was naked and damn sexy with his leg muscles clearly defined all the way up to his firm ass.  Nope, not noticing at all. 

"Bloody inconvenient humans with your bleedin' bodily functions," Spike complained as he retrieved a key from the floor on the far side of the bed.  He crawled back and reached up for the padlock that fastened the chain to the wall.  With a quick click, Xander found himself free, or at least relatively free.  His hands were still shacked and he was half-naked since both his shirt and now his shoes had disappeared and he was still locked in a vampire's lair, but at least he could walk around that lair. 

Yeah, he thought to himself, really making progress here.  Not only was he going to die in this place, he really did deserve it after all the stupid mistakes he had made in the last 24 hours.  He gathered up the chain so that it wouldn't make a lot of noise as he walked, and when he stood, Spike slid forward into his old spot in the bed.  Had he taken Spike's side of the bed or was the vampire finding the warmth left behind by his body?  Did vampires care about being warm?

Xander thought about his strange situation as he walked to the bathroom.  If asked a week ago, he would have told people that he knew all about vampires, but the longer he spent with Spike, the less he seemed to understand.  Yes, Spike was clearly a predator.  A couple of times Xander had thought himself dead, but Spike was also a person.  He stopped and thought about that one for a moment; okay, Spike was at least a person-shaped being.  He didn't like getting laughed at, he was impatient, he joked around, he hurt over the loss of his 'dark princess,' he wanted revenge:  these were not the actions of a mindless monster.  He sat on the toilet taking care of his morning business and he wondered just how many other things he didn't know. 

The whole pet business for example.  Yes, on the one hand that had a real ewwww factor, but it also implied that the vamps fed and cared for their humans, at least cared for them enough to keep them alive.  And what about the whole child thing?  Spike said vampires keep humans around until they could turn the humans into their children.  Did vampires have family feelings?  Did they have and care for their children?  The only vamps he had ever seen were barely able to take care of themselves; they certainly didn't engage in any sort of activity that suggested intelligence.  Xander suddenly came up with a counter-example.  The thought of Fredrick's body being laid out in a pattern, and his blood being used to write…that did indicate a sick sort of intelligence.  Xander shivered, finding himself suddenly cold.  He hurried to finish and then walked back to the main room, once again clutching the chain so he didn't wake Spike.  He didn't especially like the way Spike reacted when woken unexpectedly. 

Xander quickly glanced toward the stairs, but he remembered a clicking sound when Spike had first led him in, and so he assumed that the door was locked.  Besides, Spike knew where he worked and could probably find where he lived.  Xander decided to finish it one way or the other himself.  If Spike planned to use him as bait, that meant that Spike intended to keep him alive, hopefully long enough for Xander to find a nice sharp piece of wood. 

Ignoring the howling in his mind at the very thought of staking Spike, he wandered over to the shelf.  The CD player was old and one speaker was cracked, but the very lack of dust on the buttons in contrast with the thick coat of dust on the top suggested that Spike liked his music.  Eyes swept the CD's.  He didn't know any of the names on the CD spines:  The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Screeching Weasel.  The title on the last one made him pull out the green CD, and sure enough a white weasel sneered at him on the cover.  He looked closer at the title, Boogada Boogadaboogada!  Some sort of demon language, maybe?  Ah, here's a name he knew, Kennedy.  Even his inadequate, inner-city education covered the Kennedys.  Xander pulled out the CD labeled Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables.  Flipping it over, he started reading the tracks and couldn't quite stifle a hysterical giggle. The tracks included  "Kill the Poor," "Stealing People's Mail," and "I Kill Children."

"Go on then," a voice said behind him, and Xander nearly jumped out of his own skin. The CD flew out of his shackled hands and clattered to the cement floor.

"Oi," Spike complained as he got up from the bed and retrieved the CD.  "That's no way to treat great music."  He had put on a pair of black jeans, but his chest showed his wiry muscles and well defined shoulders, and Xander couldn't help but think that Spike was lithe and compact and just plain sexy.

"If it's so great, why I haven't I ever heard of any of it?"

"'Cause you're an uneducated git?" Spike asked with a laugh-snort as he pushed him to one side and inserted the CD.  Xander had two seconds of being surprised by the thought of a musically-inclined vampire before his ears were assaulted by the punk music blasting at full volume.

"Gah," he yelped as he backed away from the speakers.  Spike must have translated that correctly because the volume dropped dramatically with a quick adjustment the knobs. 

"Bloody great music." Spike returned to the bed and began searching the pockets of the leather duster.  When he came up with a package of cigarettes, he smiled in triumph.

"That's great?  Are you insane?"  The same four chords played loudly over and over as someone crashed some drums.  He couldn't understand the words of the singer until the chorus came on and he heard, "kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor," over and over.

"Not hardly.  Dru cornered the market on insanity in our little family, and *that* is bloody wonderful," The vampire insisted as he lit his cigarette and leaned back against the wall with his body spread out on the bed.

"Do they know more than four notes?"

"Oi! Don't go insulting the music, pet."

"That's not music, Spike," Xander insisted and he went over to the brown chair and sat down—he couldn't quite figure out what else he was supposed to do with himself.  "That's someone screaming to kill the poor, which is mildly disturbing,"

"Git," Spike repeated, and Xander resolved to look that word up as soon as he could find a dictionary.  "That's social commentary." A blonde head nodded to the heavy beat. 

"Yeah, right." 

"It's protestin' the bomb and the upper classes throwin' the poor away like yesterday's trash, you ponce."  Spike pulled on his cigarette, making the end glow red and his cheekbones become even more prominent.  "You just have no taste—take your shirt, for example.  What happened to the kit you were wearing at the club?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna wear silk to hunt vampires," Xander sarcastically snapped and rolled his eyes before it occurred to him that he was running the risk of appearing to insult Spike's intelligence.  He froze, hoping that he hadn't just set Spike off.  Nice job, he thought to himself.  As if things weren't bad enough you had to go and piss off the nice…okay, less homicidal than normal…vampire.  In the long silence, he waited for the explosion.

"What you smellin' all fearful for?" Spike asked after a long pause.

"Um, I'm being held by a hyperactive vampire who plans to use me as human bait?"

"That's not what I smelled when you woke up.  When you woke up, you were smellin' of something far more interesting.  So what set you off?"  Spike walked over to the cabinet, opened it, and let the cigarette ash fall into a bowl.  Xander remained quiet as he tried to figure out a story that wouldn't get him in trouble, but the silence must have gone on too long. 

"Pet, answer me," Spike commanded, and Xander found himself blurting before he realized it.

"I thought you might take that as an insult and get mad."  For a moment, Spike stood there and stared at him with emotionless eyes until Xander finally listened to the little voice in his head and dropped his own eyes to the floor.  Xander heard soft cursing and the sound of Spike walking over, but he didn't look up—Spike's face had gone so blank at that little confession that he feared he had said the wrong thing, so he continued to focus on the floor.

"Let me tell you a story, pet." Spike started as he sat on the arm of the chair so that his leg pushed into Xander's arm.  "Dru, my princess," Xander looked up as he heard Spike's voice break.  The vampire had gotten rid of the cigarette and now he took a deep breath as he clearly struggled for control.  Ridges on his forehead appeared and disappeared so quickly that he wouldn't have believed his eyes if he hadn't already known Spike was a vampire. 

"She was a pet for a good long time.  Vampire named Angelus took her, made her watch all sorts of things a young lady of the day wasn't prepared to see.  She'd been a right good little girl until Angelus made her bleed and scream and beg for him to take her at the same time she begged for death.  Angelus left her a pet, with a soul, even as he used the demon he put in her to make her beg for the touch of the man who killed her family in front of her face."  Xander shuddered violently.  If this was supposed to be Spike's version of comfort, he was failing miserably, but then this is a man whose idea of complimenting Xander's hair had been to point out that this Dru would have kept his body around to play with after killing him.

Spike reached down and put his hand under Xander's chin and pulled it up.  "I am what I am luv, and I meant what I said last night," he said as Xander looked into bright blue eyes and a face that seemed incongruously compassionate.  His voice became even softer, "but I'm not Angelus.  For nearly a hundred years, I held Dru through her nightmares and listened to her confused ramblings because the demon and the soul managed to right wreck her mind before Angelus ever turned her.  Won't do that to you.  You do something wrong, you'll be punished.  You try to escape—I'll break your neck.  Might even turn you.  But I won't do to ya what was done to Dru, and I control my demon well enough that I won't go bashing ya around."

"But last night," Xander protested before the higher order thinking part of his brain pointed out that he probably shouldn't argue with a demon who had just promised to…what?  What had Spike just promised?  Xander hadn't yet come to a clear decision before Spike started speaking.

"Last night I was a mite upset.  Thought you might be lying, might be one of Cassidy's lot.  Had a hard time not tearin' you to bits a time or two,” Spike admitted even as he stood up and started pacing.  Were all vampires so fidgety?  "Went out last night and saw someone.  Asked him about making pets, about how much a pet could fake, about whether a pet could desire one vamp while bound to another."

"And?  Who'd you go to?  What'd they tell you?"

"Told me that if you smelled of lust for me, if you could bloody *come* for me, you weren't bound to Cassidy."

"Does that mean I'm bound to you after all?" Xander asked even though he suspected that he already knew answer.

"Nope, Peaches said the demon can't bond without either blood or semen."  Xander froze for a moment at the unexpected answer.  He knew that a voice in his head howled for Spike; he had assumed that the lust came from the demon.  Since the moment Xander had first seen Spike, Xander had wanted nothing else.  If it wasn't the demon, what was going on?  He couldn't face this little dilemma just yet.  Please, could the universe just sent him one fucking disaster at a time, please. 

"Wait…Peaches?" Xander asked.  "What kind of person goes by Peaches?"

"Angelus," Spike admitted, and Xander gasped audibly.  As much as Spike clearly loved and missed Dru, how could he even talk to the vampire who had hurt her?

"But don't you want to… I mean, after what he did…"

"Not quite so easy luv.  Angelus was Dru's sire, her maker and master.  He had the right, even if I didn't like it one bit.  And Dru was my sire.  She made me.  For decades Angelus and his sire, Darla, ruled our family.  For vampires it's about status and position in the clan.  I can hate Angelus all I want, even hurt him a bit if I can get away with it without him hurting me back, but I can't do something like kill him." 

"So you just call him Peaches to annoy him to death?" Xander smiled.  He had the image of a sharp-fanged vampire about to tear into someone's throat when Spike waltzes in calling him 'Peaches' in a falsetto voice.  He couldn't contain a giggle.

"Somethin' like that.  I'm a master in my own right now.  Have more status than him in some ways since he went and got himself a soul."  Xander was quickly developing the kind of headache he got in history class when he tried to keep too many ideas in his mind at all.

"So, Darla made Angelus who made Dru who made you?"  A blonde head nodded in confirmation.  "And now that you're older, you don't have to listen to everything they say, but you can't do anything really big against them because they're higher than you in the clan."  Again, the confirming nod.  "So vampires live in clans with clan rulers.  And while most vampires don't have a soul—including you, Angelus does which means he's lost some respect in the community, and so you call him 'Peaches' to kinda rub that in cause you hate what he did to Dru?" 

"That's my boy," Spike returned to the arm of the chair and patted him on the back.  "'Cept being a master isn't about just age—it's about control.  When I was first turned, the demon's hunger and lust controlled everything I did.  Now I have enough control that I can enjoy good music," at this Spike waved toward the still playing CD, "or I can walk through a crowd of humans when I'm hungry and not vamp out and start feasting."

"So the vampires I fought were still 'children'?" Xander tried to think of the bloodthirsty monsters who tore into the necks of the homeless as little vampire babies.  It didn't work.

"Childer.  Well, childer or minions.  Minions are never loved or protected or generally even disciplined by their masters.  A minion who displeases the head of the clan will find himself on the end of a stake, and without someone to help them learn to control the demon's hunger, they can never become more than mindless beasts.  Minions are just thrown out there as cannon fodder in a fight because their demon has to obey the head of the clan.  Childer are different.  Childer are kept at their master's side and forced to control themselves or suffer terrible punishments.  The older a childe gets, the more control he has over himself and the less often his master has to beat or threaten him into controlling himself.  Eventually, a childe has enough control to go out on his own, and then he's called a master."

"So you became a master when Dru died?"

"Not hardly," Spike snorted.  "Dru never became a master because she had no control.  Anything she thought about, she did.  Dru turned me, so she was my sire in a technical sense, and my demon certainly always felt loyalty to her.  But Angelus and Darla are the ones who kept me by their sides as we hunted.  First Angelus because he enjoyed the whole punishment aspect of siring.  After Angelus got his soul and turned into Angel—the fangless wonder who couldn't kill his own meal unless it ran on four legs and scuttled through the trash—Darla became my sire because she wanted someone to essentially baby-sit Dru.  Dru may have been mad, but she had visions that saved us more than once."

"So you became a master when you left Darla." Xander corrected himself.

"Yep.  Took my dark princess and disappeared so that the bitch would never find us.  Now she's dead and souled-up Peaches is embarrassed to even think about what he did to me, so I don't have anyone in the line to answer to."  Spike's hand still rested on Xander's back from the early pat.  Now Spike started moving it in circles.  "And you're not smelling of fear any more, pet." Spike announced as his hand moved in ever larger circles.  When fingers brushed the edges of the scar on his neck, Xander jumped so suddenly that the chain hanging from his wrists rattled.

"Shit," he softly cursed as he felt a shiver run the whole length of his body and his heart beat faster.  He let his eyes fall closed as the fingers traced the edges of the scar.

"Responsive, like that," Spike whispered into Xander's ear.  Xander felt the pull on his wrists and opened his eyes to find Spike standing in front of him, pulling him toward the bed. 

"Why?"  he managed to mumble as he followed Spike's lead, which led, inevitably to the bed.  "I mean, if you can't …" The words broke off when Spike pushed him back onto the bed and pulled the chain up to fasten it to the ring once again.  This time, there was far less slack leaving Xander's arms pulled above his head, his body, his half-dressed body stretched across the bed.  Oh, the universe had just let him down because this was definitely a fucking disaster.  And he didn't even mean the chains part, he meant the growing erection he could feel struggling to rise in his jeans.  Bad enough to get captured by the enemy, but now he couldn't even deny the raging lust.  Please god, just don't ever let Gunn find out.  Xander had an image of his dead body with two fang marks in his shoulder and a raging erection.  Yeah, that would be the final humiliation.

"I can play," Spike said with that same head tilt that he was learning to associate with sexual Spike.  "Been years since I've played," Spike undid the button at Xander's waste and quickly unzipped and pulled down the baggy jeans.  The underwear disappeared even faster leaving that traitorous and engorged body part fully exposed.  "Been years since I wanted to."  Xander felt an entirely new set of emotions at that.  Three girlfriends and a number of rude comments had convinced him of his total lack of desirability, and now this creature couldn't resist him.  This creature who had survived years of celibacy couldn't resist him. 

"What do…" Xander half-heartedly tried to protest, but then Spike lowered his weight onto him and the contact with his cock against the denim of Spike's jeans nearly caused him to come. 

"Not yet, luv"  whispered a voice as Spike braced his knees on either side and bodily shifted him toward the wall so that his arms had a little more slack.  Spike then nuzzled his head between Xander's cheek and arm in order to reach the scar.  When the pleasantly tepid and wet tongue touched the sensitive skin, Xander's whole body arched up off the bed as he made an incoherent noise.  Spike lowered his weight again, and he rolled his head to one side to give Spike more room to work.  Spike obliged by sucking the scar and running his delicate fingers down the muscles right side.  For several minutes, they lay locked in this position while Xander felt every skin cell come alive and Spike shifted slightly so that fingertips could explore more skin. 

"Oh god," Xander gasped as fingers finally darted in to touch the crease on the inside of his hip.  He tried to turn into the touch; he tried to get those fingers to touch his cock, but they simply slipped away to stroke the outside of a thigh. 

"Bad boy," Spike chided as he stopped sucking for a moment to run blunt teeth over the mark.  This time Xander did scream and he bucked and he pulled his hands as hard as he could, desperate to touch in return. "Lay still and don't come, or I just may have to find some leg irons in that closet," Spike threatened softly, and Xander felt the tightening in his balls that always preceded release.

"Don't come."  Xander wanted to ask him if he was kidding; he wanted to say that he couldn't physically prevent it if he tried.  He wanted to point out that he had a right to do whatever the hell he wanted and Spike could fuck off, except Xander could already feel the impending orgasm retreat, and he groaned in frustration.  He wanted to come!

Spike began his attack again, this time using his mouth to suck to and nip at one nipple, while his fingers pinched and pulled at the second.  As the busy tongue slid down his chest one agonizingly slow millimeter at a time, Xander spread his legs, and Spike's smooth chest pressed against his cock.  Xander was in a place equal parts heaven and hell. He knew he was babbling, but even he couldn't make out his words as Spike's tongue now worked around his belly button, first a tongue circled and then the mouth closed over the skin and a warm pressure began to build. 

Spike's hands, meanwhile, were exploring Xander's thighs, and Xander could feel the cool satiny fingers run back and forth along his inner thighs .  An eternity later, he whined as Spike unexpectedly closed his blunt teeth over a piece of skin near the belly button.  Xander would have expected such an act to cause pain, but instead it simply sharpened everything: the feel of Spike's hands on his legs, the movement of air across those patches of his skin still damp from Spike's tongue, the tingling in his scar, the weight of the chains, and the increasing ache in his genitals.  If he didn't come soon, he thought he might actually damage something. 

"Flip over…and don't come."


"Flip. Over," Spike repeated deliberately as if speaking to a slow child.  He felt hands at his hips, guiding him, and he started to roll.  The minute his leaking cock touched the satin, He groaned and tried to rub, it would just take a bit of friction, but he just couldn't move fast enough.  Spike must have realized his intentions because strong hands soon pulled him up so that his forearms supported his upper body while his butt stuck up in the air.  Hands easily arranged him, pushing his knees apart and forcing his head down to rest on his forearms. 

"Stay."  Spike now ordered.  Xander considered protesting, arguing, refusing, something; however, Spike had disappeared so quickly that he didn't have time, besides he realized that one wrong move and he was going to ejaculate all over Spike's bed.  Xander wondered if that would annoy the vampire more or less than peeing the bed.  So, instead of protesting, he stayed and tried to calm his breathing.

Long before he had calmed his breathing, a familiar hand ran down his back.  This time the fingers explored more firmly, first running up to the shoulders and then following the line of the arm all the way out to the fingers, and then running down the length of the backbone, over the hips, and down the legs one at a time.  Both hands encircled and ran down his right thigh and calf and then his left.  Finally he felt arms slip around to the front and one held his waist while the other firmly grabbed his cock.  Xander screamed once again and desperately tried to hump, to get just enough movement to come since he was so damn close and the erection was really starting to ache now.

"Don't come," Spike simply warned as he continued to hold the throbbing cock.   Spike slowly tightened his grip until pain overrode the pleasure evoking a sharp gasp, and then the pressure disappeared almost immediately.  The hand then encircled the overly sensitive balls, and he winced before Spike started pressing at all, but Spike only gave each one a small squeeze before releasing them.  Xander was beginning to get angry, even through all the sexual haze and the happy noises he could now clearly hear in his own mind.  What had begun as a lover's caress had become something that felt vaguely like an inspection.

"What exactly are you looking for?"  He could feel Spike freeze in place.

"Oh, after 120 years, I know where to look," Spike assured him as both hands disappeared.  He started to lower himself, but a sharp voice stopped him.  "Stay."

"I’m not some stupid dog," Xander complained, but he stayed.

"You were happy enough a few minutes ago, what happened?" Spike as ran a hand up and down Xander's back before moving up to the left shoulder and the traitorous scar.  Almost immediately Xander felt all his doubts disappear in a cloud of longing and hunger.  He moaned as one cool hand massaged the shoulder as the second hand pressed something cold and slimy between his cheeks.  That cleared the head in record time, and he tried to sit up on the bed.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?  You said you weren't going to rape me, or have you changed your plans again?" Xander knelt up on the bed even though he had to lean forward slightly because of the shortness of the chain connected to the thick manacles around his wrists.

"Shhh, you're fine luv," came a deep, quiet, rumbling voice from behind and a mouth descended on the scar, sucking and teasing with both tongue and teeth.  Xander shuddered and felt his resolve dissolving under the rush of lust.  A hand eased him back down, and he couldn't find the will to fight.  After all, he told himself, hadn't he already decided that he wasn't really in a position to fight?  When he got back in position with his head resting on his forearms, Spike continued to rub his scar and murmur vague soothing noises.  The wet finger returned, and this time he didn't argue.  He could feel the trail as silent tears left wet tracks for the air to cool, but even as he cried, he wanted more.  Shit, he really did need to find a therapist, maybe even two or three.  If Spike did this, he knew that he was lost; he could barely fight the desire to throw himself at Spike without the "bond," so he could never fight an even stronger connection fed by the vampire's blood or semen.  Xander trembled with the realization that chains far stronger than steel would soon trap him.

"Relax, pet.  Relax and don't come." The quiet voice ordered, and for the first time Xander realized that Xander Jr. had never once complained or stopped wanting to come.  The finger slipped in without more than a little discomfort, and Xander could feel the unfamiliar movement inside his own body.  "Ready pet?" Spike asked.  He was trying to form the words to ask 'Ready for what?' but the answer came as Xander discovered the spot called the prostate.  Xander, in his sexual confusion, had checked out a couple of websites from the public library, so he had theoretically known what the prostate did.  This theoretical knowledge meant nothing when compared to the pleasure that washed through his body.  Xander Jr. begged to come, and Xander soon found himself begging on Jr.'s behalf.

"Oh god," he gasped as Spike rubbed the spot again.  "Please touch me Spike.  Please.  Oh god I have to come," he moaned as Spike continued on his unhurried way.  "Please Spike," Xander begged.  The pressure had long since become painful, and now that pain transformed into an all-consuming fire that left nothing in his world except a need to come that couldn't be denied.  The hand disappeared from the scar, and Xander felt a single finger moved up the underside of his cock.  It was enough. 

Xander's limbs stiffened, and with a wail, he came in waves that started as painful and then transformed into pleasure and a release from pain and a release from pressure all synthesized into one earth-shattering moment.  Xander's shaking legs mutinied, and Xander found himself stomach down in the impressive wet spot.  However, he noticed in a distant haze, Spike hadn't entered him with more than a finger.  He couldn't decide how he felt about that as relief battled with agony in a psyche so fragmented that Xander decided that he might need a whole damn team of therapists. 

"Planning on sleepin' in the wet spot, pet?" Spike asked from above, and Xander had to coax words to from in his newly-rearranged mind.

"Never moving again," he announced foggily.  "Fuck off."  That earned a laugh and a slap on the butt.

"I'll take that as a compliment," Spike chuckled.  "I assume that means we can sleep the rest of the day 'til sunset?" 

"This was about getting me to go back to bed?" He turned his head so that he could look at Spike out of at least one half-open eye. 

"Not quite luv, but we'll talk this evening,"  Xander would have been mortified at the thought of this meaning nothing, at Spike feeling nothing, except Spike had gotten off the bed which put his crotch at eye level, and he could see an impressive bulge in Spike jeans. 

"I've got to go clean up," Spike said before throwing a tube of something to the floor and leaving.  Xander decided that he didn't have the energy or spare brain cells to figure it all out, so he did exactly what Spike wanted.  He fell asleep.

The Big Plan

The second time Xander awoke, he found himself alone in bed.  The chains had disappeared, but when Xander rolled over, he found that the wet spot hadn't entirely.

"Ew" he quickly rolled back and started slipping out of bed.  He froze when he realized something was missing.

"You made the mess," Came the comment from the brown chair where Spike sat wearing headphones and reading a thick book with a faded green cover.

"Doesn't mean I want to lie in it.  Uh, Spike, where are my clothes?"  he held the black sheet in front of him since his jeans and underwear had now totally disappeared.

"Burned 'em." 

"What?!  I am so not walking around naked!"

"Well that is a thought," Spike leered over his book with an expression suggesting that Spike was having a naughty idea.  For just a moment it frightened him that he knew Spike so well after just one full night and two sexual encounters.

"What?"  Xander asked suspiciously.

"We're actually going out later, and I'm just picturing leading you through all those people with you lookin' so well-shagged and starkers."

"You know, you should probably learn English if you're going to stay here."

"We invented the bloody language, so you can just sod off," Spike returned quickly.  "And I mean that literally."

"And if I knew what that meant, I could come up with an appropriate place for you to put your sod."

"Means 'go away.'  And if you want clothes, go to the bathroom, and you'll find some new ones.  I am not going to dangle you like bait wearin' kit that makes you look homeless."

"Um, yeah.  Spike, can we talk about this whole bait thing?" When Spike sighed, he hurried before the vampire could interrupt him.  "I totally get that I'm kind of choiceless here, but you are driving me to seek serious, expensive professional help of the mental health variety, and I don't have that kind of money."  Pausing for a moment, he whispered the last part, "Just tell me where I fit here so I can figure out how to deal,” he pleaded.  He just couldn't reconcile the same man giving him so much pleasure and then sending him to his death.

"Go get in the bath, and we'll talk," Spike promised as he stood and put the book on a dry part of the bed.  He waited for Spike to leave or turn his back or do anything other than leer.  "Go on," Spike finally demanded, and Xander realized that he was not going to escape without giving Spike a show.  With a sigh of his own, he dropped the sheet, glared at the smirking vampire and went to the bathroom. 

While he made a detour to the toilet, Xander heard the water start pouring into the bathtub, so he wasn't surprised to see Spike sitting on a stool next to the tub.  The surprise came from the range of bath products on the floor next to the bath. 

"Bathe much?" Xander asked as he gestured toward the half-used bottles of shampoo and body wash and, god help him, bubble bath.

"Wot?  Not allowed to bathe now?" Spike's accent deepened, and Xander saw the beginnings of a smile.

"Better than stinking, I suppose," he agreed as he walked up and had to practically climb into the tub.

"Not a minion, pet.  Don't live for feedin' and shaggin'."  Xander just nodded and settled back in the tub all the while thanking god that Spike had added bubble bath because it afforded him some privacy as the water slowly rose in the huge tub.  He used to hide in a corner when he had to change in front of other people during gym class; hell, he even skipped showers whenever the teacher left too early to notice.  Now he found himself walking around naked.  Why did his life always have to be so damn strange?  He just knew that if he had just stayed back in Sunnydale his life would have been more normal.  His sex life definitely would have been more normal because having sex with a demon—that just about topped the list of strange kinks. 

"Now, what's your problem.  One minute you're enjoyin' yourself and squirmin' like a virgin, next you're going all wonky on me."

"ME?!" Xander sat up at that.  "One minute you're treating me like…well, like a human being, and that's actually better than how a lot of people treat me.  Then the next minute you're treating me like a piece of furniture.  I'm not the one with some sort of multiple personality thing going on."

"I'm a vampire, pet."

"Well, yeah.  Kinda got that with you going all bumpy on me," He made a waving gesture toward Spike's face, and Spike smiled.

"Love that about you, absolutely fearless.  Stupidly fearless, but bloody absolutely fearless."

"And playing the trembling, sobbing victim would have gotten me farther?"

"Playing victim would have gotten you eaten, luv."  Spike handed him a washcloth and bottle of soap.

"My point exactly," he announced as he started washing.  "However, that still leaves you doing the whole bipolar vamp thing.  I can't figure out if you're seducing me or throwing me to the wolves here."

"Not throwin' ya to any wolves," Spike offered.  "Bloody hell, it's not the same for vamps.  You're trying to figure me out using human terms."

"Until last night, all the people I knew were human.  But I'm willing to listen if you want to explain another way of thinking."  At that Spike stood up and turned his back, and Xander used the temporary privacy to wash a few of his more shy body parts.  That done, he reached for a new bottle.

"It's like trying to explain why you have a soul, you just do "  Spike finally answered as he turned back around and plucked the shampoo from Xander's hand and squeezed some out into his own hand.  He pulled the stool around to the end of the tub and sat down to wash Xander's hair.

"When I saw you in the club, I could smell vamp on you, and I wanted you. I've been alone and living for revenge for a long time.  Figured you were some master's pet, and I was goin' to take ya and turn ya—make ya mine.  Then I smelled Cassidy and changed the plan."  Xander leaned back into the sensual feeling of having someone wash his hair for him.  He could hear Spike's accent thicken with each additional sentence, a trait he realized revealed Spike's emotional state.  "Now I still want ya, but I need to draw Cassidy out, so I gotta keep my distance, and that's killin' me.  I want to shag ya' so hard that ya' feel me for days.  I want to feel my fangs sink into your neck."  Whoa now.  Oh shit, he just had to know, didn't he?  Xander struggled to sit forward even as iron hands held him still.

"Not going to bite you, pet.  Relax."  Spike ordered as he finally withdrew his hands and splashed them around in the tub before drying them on a towel he retrieved from the floor.  "Besides, bitin' and killin' aren't the same thing when you have a master involved.  Plenty of masters prefer to slip in and take a little from several humans, leaving them alive.  Makes for less mess to clean up.  But I can't do anything fun without havin' my smell mask Cassidy's."

"Can't do it, so I'm not goin' to think about it," Spike reiterated.  "But it's a vampire thing, luv.  You're looking for me to be human and treat you like a lover or a hostage taker or a psychopath.  I'm not any of those things."  Xander nodded slowly even though he could argue that Spike had shown definite signs of being all three.  For a long time, they sat in silence and Xander finished the shampoo job Spike had begun before the reference to biting had had caused the panic.  Just how much could Spike smell?  Was he just getting the general odor of fear or could he smell more?  Could he tell why a person was afraid?  He stirred the water and watched the dying bubbles trail along in the wake of his hand.  He wanted to say so much, to ask so much, but he didn't really know what to ask.  His silence must have convinced Spike that he still didn't understand because the vampire sighed deeply and tried again.

"I'm a *vampire*," Spike stated, and Xander suppressed an urge to smack the blonde repeated while yelling 'no duh.'  He resisted.  However, he did roll his eyes.  "You're a human, and that means that we'll never be equal—we'll never be lovers.  I'll always think of you as a pet, which in vampire terms means that you're cared for and protected but also property, property whose job it is to please and obey your master." Spike explained, and Xander felt his stomach knot up at the realization that he would always rank somewhere around 'family dog.'  Fuck.  He had to fall for someone who saw him as a freaking lower life form.  He had thought that when he stopped chasing girls that he would find someone who didn't treat him like a doormat, but it seems that he had only graduated from doormat to dog.  He really needed to learn to fall for a better class of psychopath.

"Doesn't mean I don't care." Spike hurried to say, and Xander wondered how much of his disappointment had showed on his face.  "Be a lot bleedin' simpler if I was your master." Spike said in a nearly wistful tone of voice.

"And the bait thing?  Are you gonna give me to Cassidy?"

"No." Spike denied, and Xander found himself anxiously trying to believe that.  Why he didn't know since the answer still left him a vampire's prisoner.  Well, actually he did know why he preferred to be chained in Spike's lair rather than Cassidy's, but he had already promised himself to ignore and sublimate that thought.  "Goin' to tempt him out is all."  Spike explained.

"If he didn't mean to make me, why would he care?  I'm not worth walking into a trap for."

"Bollocks!  He'll come out because he'll remember the taste of a hellmouth boy, he'll come out because you're going to look delicious in the kit I picked up for you, and he'll come out because I'll humiliate him by showing everyone that I have one of his pets."

"Okay, could you have chosen a more disturbing word than 'delicious'?" Xander asked with a shiver.

"You have no idea," Spike retorted with a quick quirk of his eyebrow.

"And again with the disturbing moment.  Every compliment I get from you is giving my future therapist more material.  But where exactly are we going to do this 'showing off' and what exactly do I have to do."  After he finished, he took a moment to duck his head under the water and shake his head so most of the shampoo rinsed out.  When he surfaced again, Spike had a bottle of conditioner in his hand.

"You've got to be kidding.  Vampires condition?"

"You have no bloody idea how much damage bleaching does," Spike defended himself as he tossed the bottle to Xander rather than repeat the hair washing.  Xander found himself vaguely disappointed.

"So, where and what?"

"Where—a couple of demon bars and a couple of human bars where demons tend to go looking for a quick snack or a quick shag.  What—that depends.  At the human bars, you'll stay by my side and keep quiet unless I tell you otherwise.  Just remember that I'm in charge and you'll be fine.  Demon bars are a little different.  Humans don't normally go into demon bars unless they are pets, so the demons are going to expect you to act like a pet."

"I'm not going to like this, am I?"

"Kneel at my feet, keep your trap shut, do what I tell ya." Spike ticked off the rules on his fingers.

"Oh yeah, so not with the liking," Xander confirmed as he pulled the plug on the tub.  "I honestly have to kneel at your feet?"

"Yeah.  And if you get hungry, I'll feed you."

"Feed me what?" Xander asked suspiciously

"Human food, you git.  Pets are supposed to rely on their owners, so they don't touch food with their hands.  They either eat food that's been thrown on the floor to remind them of their place or they eat from their master's fingers if their master's pleased with them."

"Okay, ew.  We damn well better stop somewhere for food before we go to any demon bars.  I am so not eating out of your hand."  By now the water had disappeared.  Xander turned on the water and stuck his head directly under the tap to rinse out the last of the shampoo and conditioner.  When he reappeared out from under the water, Spike handed him a towel. 

"Get changed, and we'll stop somewhere for food before we hit Pavidosi," Spike said as he left the bathroom.  Xander looked around.  He gave a small smile when he saw the clothes, where else, on the floor.  Spike really needed to invest in a few tables, he thought to himself as he got out an padded over to the clothing.

When Xander appeared in the main room, he didn't see Spike right away.  When the heavy metal door crashed above him, he jumped and looked up in time to see Spike jump from half way up the stairs to the floor.

"Ready?" Spike asked as he wondered whether he could find a way to slip Ritalin into Spike's blood.  "You do clean up nice, pet," Spike drawled as he lowered his head and looked.  Xander self consciously pulled at the front of the front of his black shirt.  The fabric was smooth as silk, but almost fuzzy.  It was as thin like a t-shirt, but it clung to him like a sweater, and the v-neck was low enough to show the edge of his scar, which looked far more fresh now that Spike had spent the afternoon sucking and biting at it.  The gray jeans fit slightly looser than Mike's had two evenings earlier, but not significantly so.  They still constricted and rubbed with every move—not Xander's ideal choice in clothing.  The lack of underwear especially annoyed him, but considering the embarrassing things Spike could have forced him to wear, he didn't feel like complaining. 

"Not exactly my taste."

"Considering what I've seen you wear, you aren't getting' a choice, pet," Spike pointed out as he picked up a small leather bag.  "Hold on to this, and don't you lose it," Spike pushed the bag into Xander's hands, and the weight surprised him.

"What do you have in here?" Xander complained as he followed Spike who had now started up the narrow, steep stairs.  Spike didn't answer, he simply waited for Xander in the truck yard.  When Xander finally made it to the top, he realized that he had never expected to see the outside again. The florescent lot lights on the dirty trucks and the stench of the city seemed suddenly beautiful, and Xander took a deep breath.  But the return to the real world also reminded him of real world issues.  Fredrick.  Xander sighed as he waited patiently for Spike to lock the door behind them before slipping the key into one of his many pockets.

"This is what I have," Spike replied as he unzipped the leather bag and Xander could see the chains inside.  He stared at them blankly.

"Why am I carrying these?"

"If you even think of doing a runner, I'll chain you up in some back room and leave ya there 'til Cassidy hears 'bout you.  Got it?" Spike asked as he reached over and took Xander's chin in his hand and forced him to make eye contact.

"Got it," Xander answered wearily.

"Well, that got less argument than I expected.  Not that I'm complainin' mind you." Spike let go of Xander and started walked toward the gate.  Xander took a couple of seconds to zip up the bag before he followed.

"So what's eating you?" Spike asked as they walked.  Spike preceded Xander through the gate, and then used his strength to pull the gate back the extra quarter inch Xander needed to slip through without scratching himself or ripping his clothes.

"Just life, Spike.  I did have one, you know."  Xander resented the vampire's intrusions into his thoughts; it seemed so wrong to even think about Spike and Fredrick at the same time.

"Yeah, I know.  Vampire hunter, professional crawler, soon to be stripper." 

"You," Xander lost the words to even reply for a moment he felt so much aggravation, but then he felt his emotions just collapsed under the weight of so much pain and confusion.  "Whatever."  He finally said as he walked beside Spike down the sidewalk.  He wondered if he shouldn't be walking behind or something, but he decided that he wouldn't give Spike one concession that Spike didn't have to specifically demand.

"No, go on.  I'm interested in what could make such a well-rounded person so unhappy," Spike returned.  Xander looked over in shock.  Spike had threatened him and hit him, made him come and played with his body, talked to him and teased him, but he had never before used this hard-edged sarcasm.

"Spike?" Xander asked quietly.

"No, go on.  Tell what makes the big bad vampire hunter so damn unhappy.  Someone dull the points on your stakes?" Spike continued in a cold voice.  

Okay, Xander thought to himself, Spike told you to not use human standards, so find another standard.  Spike thought of Xander as property, and whether he admitted it or not, Xander suspected that Spike though of him as Spike's property—not Cassidy's.  Spike's property is unhappy, so maybe Spike doesn't like the thought of his pet being distracted from the job.  Maybe Spike just didn't like the smell of unhappiness, Xander realized as he remembered Spike complaining about him smelling fearful. 

"It's nothing.  I'll get the job done and help you take out Cassidy.  After all, like you said, big bad vampire hunter here," Xander tried for a lighter tone, hoping that either the assurance that he would focus or the tone would assuage Spike. "Able to trip in a single bound; faster than a limping turtle."  Spike simply snorted.  From the frozen expression on his face, Xander's comments had made the problem worse.  Damn, Xander thought to himself, I've had girlfriends who required less effort.

Okay, Spike's property is unhappy.  Spike isn't worried about getting the job done, so what is he worried about?  Xander thought back to a collie named Sergeant he had owned when he was seven or eight.  Think pet, he ordered himself even though the concept made his empty stomach threaten to revolt.  They had kept Sergeant for two years before Xander's father had given him way to punish Xander for not cleaning up the back yard.  He still thought his father should have just looked down and walked around the dog shit.  Okay, if Sergeant had been unhappy and I found away to talk to him…Xander's thoughts suddenly skipped onto a new track.  He remembered mashing his thumbs trying to build a doghouse the summer he grew obsessed with the fear that Sergeant would get sunburned in the back yard, and he almost heard his own thoughts click.

"I got someone killed last night," Xander admitted.  If he was right, Spike would respond to that.

"What?  Don't seem the killin' sort to me, luv." Spike turned a concerned face to Xander, and Xander had to stop himself from cheering.  Of course the thought of Fredrick stopped that thought rather quickly. 

"I was back-up; I was supposed to call for help if someone got separated.  One of the guys got pulled off, and by the time I noticed, it was too late," Xander confessed his guilt.  He couldn't have said as much to Luther or Trey, but Spike had killed hundreds if not thousands of people, so he didn't have any room to condemn Xander for one.

"That's not you getting' someone killed.  That a bunch of wankers all trying to get themselves killed by goin' up against something they don't understand."  Spike assured him. 

"Hey, we were armed.  We had stakes and holy water and enough crosses to start a Catholic church."

"Yeah, and they had superhuman senses, speed, and strength."

"You're forgetting my secret weapon," Xander pointed out with a shrug.  "I have an superhuman ability to distract vampires through running away screaming and profusely bleeding," he joked.  Spike didn't laugh; he simply stopped and looked with a strange expression.

"Pet, if you survived this long, you're either the luckiest bloke this side of the globe or you have knackers you keep hidden.  How many of you went in?"


"And the other four, you played back up for them too?"


"And you do this how often, playing back-up as you gits take on supernatural creatures with superhuman strength?"

"Four or five times a week," Xander said as he mentally averaged the good weeks against those weeks when work had him too tired to help at all.  "Ever since I got bit and started following Gunn around, trying to force him into letting me help."

"And that bite was four years ago?" 

"Pretty much."

"So last night you saved four bleedin' idiots and over the last three years you've saved…" Spike paused for a moment, "Three or four thousand wankers, depending on how many people go on each raid.  I'd say it balances it out with you comin' out slightly to the side of the angels."  Spike shook his head after a minute.  "That's a hell of a lot of vampires, pet.  Where do you hunt?"

"In the neighborhood south of Safari.  Gunn said that the vamps have only been bad like this for four or five years.  Before that, the older people in the neighborhood talked about the Obayifo or La Llorona—spirits who killed in the night—but no one believed them.  Lots still don't believe, but the more active the vamps get, the more believers we have in the neighborhood." Most of Xander's information came second-hand from Gunn since the vamps had been active longer than he had lived in L.A. 

"That’s not right," Spike said after a minute.  He turned a corner, and Xander followed him in the new direction.  "How many vamps you dust in a night?"

"When I first started, we'd find two or three in a lair. Sometimes we'd go a day or two between kills, but lately we've found a couple big nests and found individual vamps hunting nearly ever night," Xander admitted.  The change in hunting had happened slowly, but when Xander thought back, he could see a clear difference between the early years of hunting and the last few months.

"A master might get dusted, but most of his minions will go to the winner," Spike said absent-mindedly.  "A master could turn one or two minions out for displeasin' him, but not a whole legion of 'em.  Too many vamps around attracts vampire hunters, slayers, and official attention, not to mention making huntin' even harder."  Xander followed Spike in silence.  He clearly didn't know enough about vampire habits to have an opinion on the matter, but if Spike was right, something was really wrong in the neighborhood.  Now Xander worried about Gunn and the others.  He had to find a way to warn them.

"Stop feelin' guilty," Spike ordered with a sigh.

"I'm not," Xander protested.  "Okay, I'm not much," Xander amended that when Spike looked at him with both eyebrows fully raised.  "You're right about me helping more than not even though I still feel guilty about Fredrick."  Spike put out an arm and herded Xander into a restaurant.  While Xander had been expecting fast food, the trendy steakhouse made his stomach rumble so loud that Spike laughed out loud.  Spike held the door, and Xander preceded him into the lobby.  Once the hostess had seated them and flirted with both of them enough to embarrass Xander, the two were left with glasses of water and a promise the waitress would appear soon.

"So, what's botherin' you now?" Spike asked over the table.  Xander bit his lip, wondering how much leeway he could expect from Spike.  If he didn't say anything he would have a better chance of sneaking off to find a payphone and just paying the price for it later.  If he said something, Spike could help him or prevent him from ever being able to contact Gunn.  Xander glanced toward the black bag which now sat on a spare chair.

"Pet?" Spike asked with just a touch of growl in his voice.  Xander made up his mind.

"I'm not liking this whole bait thing," Xander said in a low voice so that neighboring tables couldn't hear him.  "If it works, I'm caught between two vampires, and if it doesn't, you don't have a lot of reason to keep me alive."  Xander half-expected Spike to catch him in the lie, to have some sort of supernatural lie detector.  Instead Spike just suddenly looked tired.

"Been huntin' Cassidy for bloody months.  I'm not patient, and I'm about ready to just burn the whole city.  This is the first time I've even felt close."  Spike looked directly into Xander's eyes.  "I need this to work.  But if it don't, well, I don't believe in eatin' someone I know, that was Angelus' game.  I prefer to keep playin' and eatin' separate, so I won't drain you, even if Cassidy never shows.  But if he doesn't show…" Spike let his words trail off, and Xander could hear the pain.  He felt the guilt of Fredrick's death in his gut like a knife.  What must Spike feel for failing Dru?  She was his lover and his sire and Cassidy killed her.  Xander understood the anguish that motivated Spike. 

"And if he does show?" Xander asked.

"If he shows, he'll be dust before he gets within 100 feet of you," Spike promised, and Xander could feel the hatred for Cassidy in that promise. Suddenly a young red-head with a huge smile and even bigger braces appeared looking for orders.  They spent the rest of dinner talking about absolutely meaningless topics that had nothing to do with homicidal vampires, vendettas, or kidnapped humans.

Dinner Time

"So, 'bout time for my dinner," Spike announced as they left the restaurant.  Xander found himself suddenly fighting to keep his dinner down as he watched the faces of people walking by them.  What the hell was he doing?  He was calmly walking by the side of a monster who would pick one of these innocent people and eat them.  Would it be that mother, Xander wondered as he watched a yuppie mother pulling a five or six year old child down the street.  What about the shopper?  A woman with a suit, track shoes, and an ungodly number of department store packages in the back seat of her car locked her car door and joined the stream of people on the sidewalk.  The whole while, they walked closer to the shops and bars.

"You're going to kill someone."

"It's how I feed, pet.  If I leave them alive, they might go natterin' to someone about the big bad monster."

"Other vamps…" Xander started, but Spike stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and trapped him with a golden stare that made his stomach drop a good two inches even as his heart sped out of control.  The look of a hungry predator about to devour prey.  The look of one seriously pissed off vamp.

"Don't ever compare me, pet.  Not if you intend to live."  Spike stepped forward, leaving Xander to press his back into the brick of the building behind him, his legs shaking when he faced Spike's demon for the umpteenth time.  Just how many sore spots could one vampire have?  Xander wondered idly if Dr. Phil would take Spike on as a client and work on some of these issues. 

"I just…  I didn't…"  He struggled just to breathe and to keep his heart beating under the glare of those gold eyes.

"Just say it, pet.  Course, it might help if you breathed a bit first." Spike resumed his casual saunter down the sidewalk, and Xander had to trot to catch up.  For one moment, he had glanced down the street in the opposite direction, but he knew that the feeling of freedom was an illusion.  The vampire could easily catch him, and, he thought glancing down at the bag he still held, find much more unpleasant things to do than just haul him from one bar to another.

"I don't know if I can…" Xander began when he caught up.

"Can what?  Not asking you to kill 'em for me."

"I can't just stand by while you kill someone," Xander finally hissed as he walked beside Spike.

"Don't have much choice on that.  You either stand by, or I'll chain you up and you'll still stand by."  Spike now detoured into an alley and leaned on a huge metal dumpster.  "I'll feed tonight one way or the other."  Xander turned and watched the people go past the mouth of the alley.  So many innocent lives, which one would end tonight?

"Spike?  Does everyone taste the same?" Xander finally asked, the seeds of an idea forming in his mind.  "I mean, anyone not raised on the mouth of hell?"

"Pretty much.  Emotion changes the blood quite a bit, but one scared victim tastes pretty much like another."

"So it doesn't matter to you what type of person you take?"

"Generally avoid drunks.  You'd be amazed at how much drugs and alcohol survives in the blood.  Once spend an entire week stoned when I fed off this group of hippies.  Not doin' that again."  Spike gave a small shudder of his own, and Xander had to smile at how human-like Spike truly seemed.  Well, most of the time anyway.  Sometimes he was totally human with reactions that Xander could identify with entirely too much:  the guilt, the desire to not have others laugh at him, the hatred of being compared and always found lacking.  Oh yeah, too many similarities.  But then the predator would appear with his gold eyes and cold stare.

"But you don't care if your victims are good people or bad, do you?"

"Not especially, luv.  I'm not in the judgment business."  At this, Spike stood up straight and walked forward with a curious expression.  "What are you thinkin’?"

"Would you mind if we went over to the west side?  We'd have to get some sort of transportation, but we could do that, right?  Maybe the bus?"

"And why would I want to go to the west side?" 

"I can't stand by and let you kill some bystander," he whispered, afraid that Spike would reject his idea or not care enough about his feelings to go so far for a simple meal, or even that the vampire might enjoy torturing him by having him watch another human die while he did nothing. 

"Pet, you have got to learn to put sentences together so they make sense." Spike reached out and put his hand on Xander's left shoulder, squeezing the scar gently before pulling Xander closer.  "Now, what are you thinkin'?"

"If we go west, you could find a member of Sotel 13 over there—find someone who tries to hurt you, and then it wouldn't really be murder."  Xander whispered into Spike's shoulder.  The fear of having his idea rejected, the smell in the alley, and the thought of helplessly watching someone die allied in an assault on his stomach so that Xander could feel the muscle spasms as he tried not to vomit.

"Oi, not on the leather," Spike protested as he pushed Xander out of the alley and back into the direction they had come from.  "Don't mind goin' for a bit of take-out, so west it is," Spike agreed.  "We'll go back for the bike."

"You have a bike?  Okay, never mind, you obviously have a bike or we couldn't go back for it."  Xander blurted out in one breath even though all he wanted to do was thank Spike for listening to him, for not making him watch some college student die.  Okay, that also meant that he had to watch a gang member die, and how disturbing was it that watching that made his happy-list for the day?  Xander considered that last thought the entire walk back to the truck yard and to a side lot where a Honda motorcycle in black waited.  Before he had a chance to even compliment Spike on the bike, Spike had taken the leather bag, secured it to the back of the bike, and swung into his place at the front. 

"Comin' mate?" Spike asked as he held out a hand.

"Thanks," Xander replied quietly as he took Spike hand and quickly settled in behind the vampire.  He only hoped that Spike knew that his gratitude covered the whole side trip to the west side.  A little voice in the back of Xander's mind told him that *master* must value him if *master* listened to him, but Xander forcefully stuffed that back into his rapidly growing denial pit in the back of his mind as he reviewed his current goals.  He leaned into Spike's strong body as he reflected. 

Okay, Goal One:  Warn Gunn that something was up.  Maybe he could tell Gunn that he had hooked up with a more experienced vampire hunter—which was technically true since they were hunting a vampire.  He didn't have to mention that he was the bait in this little hunt.  Goal Two: Not get killed.  Possible as long as he didn't make fun of, laugh at, compare, or insult the vampire and as long as vampire number one didn't accidentally lose him to vampire number two.  Goal Three: Get Free.  Xander knew that he should probably amend that to "kill vampire," but for all the vampires he had seen turn to dust, he didn't want to see that happen to Spike.  He was too human for that.  Maybe he could sneak away—okay, not likely, at least not without leaving the state.  Maybe Spike would let him go if he helped get Cassidy—a chance there, a small chance but a very real chance if Xander could judge character.  If not, he knew that killing Spike would be the only option. 

By the time Xander had finished mentally reviewing just how much trouble he was in and just how likely Spike was to allow him to go free, the motor of the bike had stopped, and Spike held the bike steady, waiting.  It took Xander a minute to realize he was waiting for Xander to get off.

"So, this is your hunt, luv.  Where do we go from here?"

"We walk?" Xander answered uncertainly.  He had always avoided this part of town, and now he knew why.  Graffiti covered the buildings, and Xander guessed that if he spoke Spanish he'd be really embarrassed by what it said, at least if some of the more graphic pieces of graffiti were anything to judge by.  He turned his back on a spray-painted outline of a woman with attributes that would have left a real woman unable to walk without help.  He stepped closer to Spike, and he felt a cool arm slip around his waist.

"Don't have to stay," whispered a voice.

"Not letting you eat a housewife," Xander replied as he tried to stand up on his own, but Spike hand remained so that Xander simply managed to pull both of them one step away from the bike.  A couple of passing pedestrians glared at them, and he even heard an overweight woman with a canvas bag snort in disgust.  Normally, that would have sent Xander running for a hiding place, but he had trouble feeling ashamed of his homosexuality and his arm, which had found its way around Spike's waist, when he had brought Spike here to kill.  So, he simple rolled his eyes at the woman and snorted back.

"Subtle luv," Spike laughed as he started pulling him down one street. 

Xander looked and spotted a graffiti covered payphone not twenty feet away.  He stood there staring so long that Spike finally turned a quizzical look his way.

"I need to call my mom."

"And say what?  Sorry, mum, but I got kidnapped and don't think I'll be home tonight?"

"Are you going to kill me, Spike?" He needed to hear the answer.

"No.  Told you that already."

"Then I need to call her.  If I'm never going back, then she can start grieving now, but if I'm going back, I can't worry her like this.  I can't just leave her to wonder where I am."

"And what exactly do you plan on tellin' her?"

"I'll think of something, but please, don't make her worry," Xander turned his best begging eyes towards Spike, the eyes that had gotten his mother to buy him a bike, the eyes that had made his first girlfriend let him touch her boobies.

"Bloody hell, don't look at me like that," the vampire complained before starting toward the phone. 

After a brief conversation where he made up lies as fast as he could think them up, he convinced his mother that his new job included riding to San Francisco in one of the trucks in order to check on a problem with the inventory.  He even impressed himself with his calm lies, and Spike's half-smile made it clear that Spike approved as well.  However, it didn't escape him that he'd had to argue to get the phone call to his mother; Spike would never let him call Gunn.

"Thank you," he whispered after he hung up the phone.

"Had a mother too, once," Spike pointed out.  "Now let's hunt."  Spike started walking down the street.

"Spike, if we leave that bike, it won't be here when we get back."

"It’s okay.  I stole it, so not my loss.  'Course I also don't plan on having to go far."  Spike pulled him into another alley.

"Are all you guys this predictable?" Xander tried to count the number of vamps the crew had dusted by setting up a trap in an alley.

"Tried and true, innit?.  If you lot didn't build cities with perfect little killin' spots, it wouldn't be an issue."  Spike agreed amiably as he pulled Xander closer.  Xander wondered if he could go to hell for feeling so good during such a disturbing moment, but he had saved some innocent shopper from being dinner.

"Cabron" hissed a voice from the other end of the alley.  Xander physically jumped and tried to turn, but Spike simply chuckled in his ear and continued to hold on.  Obviously, the vampire had heard the speaker before he had spoken.

"Listen chilito, you're on our ground," came a second voice, and now Xander tensed as he heard multiple footsteps coming up from the back of the alley.

"Yeah, joto."

"Do I want to know what they're saying?"

"Probably not," Spike offered with a grin right before releasing Xander and turning around so that Xander found himself behind Spike's back.  Even from that relatively sheltered position, he could see the three boys walking toward them.  Boys in age anyway.  These three clearly had some experience in fighting from the way they walked and the way they swung heavy chains from fists.  At least two swung chains; the third, Xander realized as the group approached, carried a long and wicked-looking knife.  He wondered if they had guns that they simply hadn't bothered to pull out faced with two lonely victims in an alley.  They were going to need bigger weapons soon because Spike had started that strange half-bounce on the balls of his feet.  Spike wanted action.

"I realize it's hard to make good decisions when you're thick as pigshit, but you soddin' gits are in way over your heads.  Might want to go home to mummy, boys."  Xander watched as Spike's words inspired one of the chain-wielders to swing his weapon.  Quicker than Xander could watch, Spike had somehow pushed that boy face first into a building and taken the chain.  Spike now swung the chain in a lazy arc as he paced the alley between Xander and the remaining two attackers. 

"Last chance to run, gimboids,” Spike offered as the speed of his chain increased until Xander couldn't make out the chain but instead only saw the blur as it moved.

"You and your friend are gonna die, mayate," the taller of the remaining assailants promised darkly.  Xander couldn’t restrain a small laugh at that—although he didn't know whether it came from the ridiculousness of these two trying to take out Spike or the bizarre fact that one more person now threatened him.  Considering he was only a sidekick, he seemed to attract a lot of attention lately.

"Think not," was Spike's only answer as the chain came down on one boy's head even as the second boy had a near fatal meeting with Spike's elbow. All three now lay unconscious and bleeding.  "I take it you're alright with me feeding on them?" Spike asked as he pulled a knife from his own boot and reached down for the tallest boy.  Xander looked away when he saw the knife slide into the boy's neck. Perhaps the shock of seeing the boy die slowed him down. Maybe the emotional drain of the last 24 hours had finally taken its toll.  Maybe he just didn't know how to keep himself out of trouble because Xander suddenly found himself face to face with an unfamiliar set of ridges and fangs.  Xander felt the new vamp's hands on his shoulders at the same time he felt the air rush by his ear as Spike's fist passed on its way to break the vamp's nose.  With a scream, the new vamp fell back toward the street, and Xander felt himself pulled back even as Spike reached forward and yanked the vampire back into the shadows.  Xander now watched a second vampire slink into the alley.

"Master?" the second vamp's voice sounded unsure, maybe even hopeful.

"Not soddin' yours," Spike growled in reply as he glared down at the vampire who lay bleeding at his feet.  "You touch what's mine and I'll kill you," he calmly announced as he pulled out a stake.  With an almost snake-like strike, Spike had plunged the stake into the fallen vampire and then pulled it back before the body could even turn to dust.  Now Spike moved and stood between Xander and the new vamp.  Xander curled his fingers around Spike's arm in fear, seeking protection.

"Master?" it repeated as it inched closer to one of the fallen fighters.  Xander watched in fascination as the vampire tilted its head even as it crept toward the still-breathing body.  He felt like he had front row seats at a National Geographic special on lions, with the problem being that he had nothing between him and two fierce predators acting out some sort of ritual.

"Whose are you?" Spike finally growled, and the new one froze in place.

"My master's gone," he whined quietly as he tilted his head even more.  Xander looked at the torn clothes, the dirt caked onto the vampire's skin, the greasy brown hair, and he recognized the type of vampire he knew and fought.  However, when he encountered these types of vamps, they usually made a dive straight for his neck, and this one didn't even look at him after Spike's little declaration of ownership. 

"If you displeased him, you won't find a place at my side."

"I didn't, master.  My master died.  The other master killed him."  Oh yeah, the whining was really getting annoying now.

"You should’ve followed him, then."  Spike declared coldly even as the brown-haired vamp sunk even lower to the ground.

"I couldn't.  I can't find him.  He killed my master with magic."  Now the brown haired vamp had obsequiously lowered himself all the way to the ground with his forehead touching the cement.

"Then follow your old master," Spike ordered as the stake struck out again and a second pile of dust drifted to the cement.

"Well, that's disturbing," Spike commented as he hurried Xander out of the alley.

"Yeah," Xander agreed quietly.  "He was kinda pathetic."


"The second vamp.  He really seemed a little pathetic—I could see what you meant about them being like kids."

"That was not a childe."  Xander looked up at the voice which carried both amusement and steel.  "And I am not disturbed by one less mindless minion in the world. What does disturb me is the thought of some master using the mojo."  Spike must have seen the confusion because with a sigh he amended his sentence.  "The magic.  Some master is using magic."

"Vamps don't normally do that, right?" Xander asked as Spike got on the bike and then waited for Xander to join him.  Even the leather bag had survived the thieves, but Xander barely even glanced at it; he had other thoughts circling his consciousness. 

"No, vamps usually avoid the mojo—it can backfire when the undead try throwin' it around."

"Writing strange letters in blood; that would be magic, right?"

"Big mojo in blood, pet.  What do you know?" 

"The vamps who killed Fredrick, they used his blood to write letters," Xander said as he raised his leg over the bike and finally settled in behind the vampire.

"Really?" Spike sat silently on the bike for several second.  "We'll check that out after we run you by a few demon noses." 

"Um, Spike?"


"What was up with that knife?"  Xander remembered the knife Spike had used to slice open the gang member's neck.

"Makes it easier to clean up.  Knife wound looks like human business and don't attract extra attention.  When I'm traveling, I feed and let the locals make up some logical explanation, but when I'm in a place for too long, I like to cover my tracks."  Spike reached out a hand to start the engine, and he could see the shaking.  He wondered if the desire to not attract attention with messy kills had come before or after Dru's death.

He pushed in behind Spike and wondered just what the hell was going on.  Was there some sort of magic revolution going on in the vampire community, or did Fredrick's death connect to a homeless vamp halfway across the city.  And the timing of Dru's death to the increased vampire activity didn't escape Xander.  He remembered a line out of some book he had read for a book report.  Something like, "Once is luck. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."  He wondered how much enemy action was taking place behind the scenes.

Back Index Next

Feed the Author

Visit the Author's
 Live Journal Visit
 the Author's Website

Home Categories New Stories Non Spander