Shadow and Consequence

Warning: This bit has brief (almost off-stage) non-con, but not between Spike and Xander. Spike still loves his boy, and Xander is loyal to his master.

Xander walked into the old building, his fingers twisting on his shirt nervously. Great, he could face down hordes of demon tops wearing nothing but a g-string, but one little vampire and he got all weird. Behind him, Dalton shifted uncomfortably, probably smelling his fear.

"We should go back and wait. I'll protect you," Dalton whispered, clearly desperate to get out of another Master vampire's territory. Xander couldn't blame her; he was feeling a little creeped out himself.

"Waiting was good…for the first few days, but something's wrong," Xander repeated the familiar argument to her. She ducked her head so that dirty blonde hair flopped in front of her face, but when she looked up again, she had her game face on, all bumps and yellow eyes.

"He's strong," she said fearfully as she sniffed the air and looked into the empty hotel.

"He's a strong, broody idiot," Xander agreed. "But he's not going to go all Mastery on us."

Dalton hissed, and Xander looked up in time to see Angel striding across the room, his game face slipping into place as he crossed the wide lobby floor.

"Hey, hey, whoa," Xander said as he stepped in front of Dalton, pulling a cross out of his pocket. Angel stopped a couple of feet from him and snarled.

"Xander, move."

"Not a chance and nice to see you, too, Deadboy. I'm fine, thanks for asking. How have you been doing?" Funny, the babble came flowing back just as if he hadn't spent the last year learning how to talk without it.

"Xander, she's a vampire."

"Well, duh. Hello--bumps, fangs, sudden aversion to daylight. I think I figured that part out already. Not dumb here."

Angel gave Xander a look that made it perfectly clear exactly how untrue he thought that comment. Oh, yeah, Angel totally thought he was the mayor of dumbsville.

"If you want to stake some minion, go find your own. No staking Dalton," Xander insisted mulishly as he held the cross up higher.

"Dalton?" Angel's eyebrows rose.

"Uh, that's what Spike calls her, and yeah, I'm guessing that's not her real name, and what's your actual name?" Xander asked as he glanced over his shoulder without lowering his cross. Dalton still wore her game face, but her eyes focused down. She so totally knew Angel could kick her ass.

"Dalton," she said quietly.

"Um, okay. So I guess we're sticking with Dalton," Xander said with a shrug. "Anyway, I—"

"Where's Spike?" Angel asked as he shifted his attention to the door of the lobby behind them.

"Funny you should ask. You see—"

"And what are you doing here?"

"If someone would shut up long enough for me to talk, I'd tell you," Xander snapped. "And trust me, I so would not be here except for Spike's piece of shit car died ten miles out of the garage, so if you want to loan us a car, we'll just keep right on going north to Giles' place."

"Giles? Why would you go to Giles?" Angel looked back at him now, and Xander thought the broody one might actually be ready to listen now.

"Because Giles isn't a complete git," Xander sighed. "But I'm hungry, and Dalton's hungry, and Dalton being hungry leads her to think about all my blood, which is not of the comforting, so is there any chance you could actually get us some food so that we could talk instead of just randomly snapping at each other?" Xander lowered the cross slowly, waiting to see whether Angel would go along with the plan or shove him out of the way and stake Dalton. Dalton pressed closer so that Xander could feel her hands brush the back of his shirt.

"Fine." Angel barked the word and then turned on his heel and marched back through the lobby and disappeared through a door.

"I guess we're following him." Xander rolled his eyes and headed after the Foreheaded One. God he wished they still had the big lair with the huge garage with all the different cars… that would have been nice. Nope, Spike had to go and disappear when they had just that damn old clunker of his.


"So, Spike never showed up again?"

"That would be the whole point of us coming here," Xander agreed before shoving another bite of peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his mouth.

"And why are you here?" Angel turned away from the table for this question, and Xander glanced over to see Dalton back up, her hands wrapped around a half-full mug of pig's blood. Xander knew full well that she hunted, so he didn't imagine the bagged stuff was going over that well with her. Luckily for her, she drank it without question… slowly and with great and obvious disgust, but without question.

"Master said to protect Xander when he's gone."

"Yeah, and she won't go out without Spike giving her permission to leave me, so she hasn't eaten in a week, which I'm thinking is a long time for a vampire to go without food," Xander added. He needed for Angel to see that she wasn't just some mindless minion because maybe then he wouldn't stake her. Strangely, Xander felt a lot more comfortable with her than with Angel right now.

"You won't hunt here or I will send you back to hell myself," Angel growled.

"I won't hunt because I won't leave Xander alone with you," Dalton said the words quietly, but she looked up at Angel for the first time, her yellow eyes narrowed as she faced a Master vampire she had no hope of defeating. Xander wondered what exactly Spike had threatened her with to keep her so loyal. Angel sighed.

"What exactly do you expect me to do?" Angel asked as he finally sat down across from Xander.

"Oh, I don't know… find Spike would be a good start," Xander said sarcastically. "We know he went to the Darkside Club, so maybe go there and ask around. I would have gone myself only I didn't think a human should go wandering around that place without a master."

Angel sighed and ran his fingers through his hair before smoothing it carefully. Then he sighed as he looked around the room, glaring when he looked toward Dalton. Yep, Xander still had the power to make Angel miserable. "I'll ask around tomorrow night," Angel finally gave in. "I'll get you a couple of rooms here for you to wait. And you…" Angel pointed at Dalton… "will be chained."

"No way. If you're going there looking for Spike, I am going with you."

"If Xander goes, I go," Dalton said quietly from her side of the room.

"No," Angel said, his voice final, but Xander wasn't really big with final answers. He was more of a change the other guy's mind through wheedling, whining, or manipulation kind of guy.

"I'm going," Xander countered.

"This is not open for debate."

"Yeah, exactly. I'm going, so no debating." Xander crossed his arms and tried to make his body language as uncompromising as Spike's when the vampire made Xander eat vegetables.

"You will not go, and I don't care if I have to chain you to the wall to keep you here." Angel leaned forward in his seat, yellow sparking through his eyes as he stared at Xander. A little part of Xander curled up and flinched from that gaze, but a bigger part just wanted to find Spike. A little Angel crankiness was not going to keep him away from his master.

"Oooo. Big, bad, poofy vampire is going to use his strength to push everyone else around. Is that how it works?" Xander demanded, changing tactics. He'd had enough fights with Spike to know the direct digging-in-his-heels approach didn't exactly work with vampires. With Spike he poked at the 'don't you love me' button, but Angel had an even better target. "You like pushing me around? You been thinking about how you wanted to put me in chains? I bet you have. I bet that even that night when I called, you wished you had me tied up, and now you see your big chance to fix that."

Angel stood, physically backing away, and Xander rose and stalked him through the silent kitchen. "So, you're going to tell me what to do, play big, bad Master vampire? I should have known I couldn't trust you; you have too much Angelus in there for my taste, and don't think I don't know about you telling the minions not to eat me back when you went all soulless. How did Spike put it? You had 'special plans' for me after I made you leave Buffy alone at the hospital. Special plans." Xander snorted in disgust and watched as Angel's brooding reserve turned to outright horror and self-loathing. "Special involving hot pokers and chainsaws is my guess. So, you're going to go find Spike, dust him, and then.. what? Are you going to come back and take me for yourself?"

Xander stepped as close as he dared to Angel, crossing his arms and glaring up at the man. "Ever since you grabbed me at school, you've wanted to control me, own me." Behind him, Dalton made a desperate little whining noise, and Xander could guess that she would attack Angel if Xander weren't between, just to give Xander time to escape. But Xander had no intention of escaping, and Angel wasn't going to get that lucky.

"Xander," Angel finally said, the word stiff and clipped.

"No. No, you don't get to tell me what to do, and No, I will not stay behind."

"The Darkside Club is no place for you." Angel tried for reason as he backed up another half step.

"Oh yeah, because I've never been to a demon club before," Xander laughed at that. "I've never been chained up and put on a pedestal to dance so that Spike could rip to pieces the first demon who touched me. I've never walked through a room full of vampires wearing nothing but a g-string and butt plug. I've never knelt at Spike's feet and tilted my head, letting him feed from me as hungry demon eyes watched." Xander tilted his head slightly so that his shirt-collar slipped down a little and showed the white pinprick scars on his shoulder. "Who the hell do you think you're talking to?"

"Xander." Angel strangled the word so badly that it only had one syllable.

"I know what goes on in the Darkside Club, and I'm thinking that soulful Angel with his do-gooder act is going to have the door slammed in his face."

"So, what are—" Angel stopped as his eyes went large as he started shaking his head slowly.

"Just fake it. I mean, I totally don't want the Psychotic One around, but at least he has enough respect to get into a demon bar, and—no offense—but no way would they let you in there."

"Xander, it's not that easy."

"Sure it is. Put a leash on me, have Dalton at your back, and go bursting in there demanding your rights as a Master vampire. I'm thinking it's simple. I'm thinking it's about as simple as going into the Master's lair and saving Buffy." Xander stopped and let the words soak in like acid eating into glass.

"That was a long time ago, and you've changed since then," Angel said, but Xander could hear the muted regret that told Xander he was on the right track.

"I'm still me. Xander. The guy who shows up to a battle with a rock. The one who goes charging in after the prophesy says give up. I haven't changed that much." Xander looked up at Angel. "And neither have you."

When Angel flinched, Xander knew he'd made his point. Angel held back when he needed to charge in. He'd sat in his apartment while Buffy had died at the Master's hands, and now he was going to sit in his hotel while Spike disappeared, never to be seen again. Xander stuffed the growing mass of pain and fear down, just like he had when he'd gotten in the car over Dalton's objections, just like he had when he'd offered to give himself back to Buffy in order to save Dru, just like he had when he'd walked down to the Master's lair and found Buffy floating face down in the water.

"I need you to do this," Xander said quietly. "Dalton can't do this for me or I would have already gone charging in there."

"You wouldn't have come out alive," Angel agreed.

"Yeah, I'd take that risk if I thought it would help Spike, but she's too young to protect me, and I don't think death would be as much of a problem as things I find far squickier than death… like getting taken by some scabby demon as a sex toy."

"As opposed to Spike taking you as a sex toy?" Angel countered, all of the anger and resolve returning in that one second, and Xander cursed his own word choice.

"Spike is my family. I won't leave him behind any more than I'd leave Buffy behind to die alone in the dark while I sat on my ass in my apartment feeling sorry for myself."

Angel's anger drained once again, and Xander stepped forward, laying his hand on Angel's arm. The arm twitched for a second as though Angel would shrug him off, but then it stilled as Angel watched him suspiciously.

"I love him. And no matter what the girls have told you, he loves me. He did a long time before the chip came out and a long time before we left Sunnydale. I didn't see it back then. Maybe I just thought I wasn't worth loving, but Spike has done a lot of things to prove that he loves me. And some of those things are things that you really don't want to hear about, so don't make me make you run screaming away as I describe how well he—"

"No," Angel held up his hands in defeat. "I do not need to hear this. And I know he loves you, Xander; he never could control who he fell in love with."

Xander wasn't sure whether to be offended or not, but since it seemed like Angel just might be coming around, he just stayed silent.

"If I play this, I can't treat you like—" Angel stopped.

"Spike isn't the same in those places. I know how to act when other demons are around," Xander promised.

Angel looked down at him, and Xander felt a need to do the Scooby dance of victory at the resignation and distress in those brown eyes. Oh yeah, the broody one was, once again, trapped into helping. Score one for the home team.


Xander followed Angel's leather pants, again wondering why the broody one actually kept leather pants since that was more Angelus' style, but those thoughts led to other thoughts with weren't big with the comforting.

Instead of following that train into the pit of panic, Xander focused on the leather around his wrists and ankles and the leather harness he wore, both presents from Spike. A leather pouch constricted his genitals, but at least this time he didn't have to worry about Spike's constant teasing touches making his stupid cock struggle against the constraints as if it would ever be able to win.

Xander's concentration broke at the thought of Spike, and he paused a half second, leaving him to hurry after Angel before the leash in Angel's hand could tighten and yank Xander forward like some novice. Sometimes, even at human clubs, Xander would see that… someone so awed by the room that they would stop until a master yanked a leash.

Angel was so not his master, and so Xander focused on not giving Angel any reason to yank his leash or discipline him. The vampire had made it very clear that he had no problem whipping Xander to keep their cover, just before Angel had added chains, locking Xander's wrists behind his back.

Apparently, Angelus never would have trusted Xander to walk at his back, and Angel was taking the undercover bit a little too seriously for Xander's comfort. Even back at the hotel, he'd gotten a little too handsy. And the thought occurred to Xander that Angel did it just to make Xander uncomfortable so that he would back off. Instead, Xander had stood silent in Angel's room, naked except for the leather restraints and his collar, as Angel had picked up his tail, stroking the curls as he considered it from every angle. He lifted it, and Xander reddened as Angel pushed against the wide base of the plug he wore.

"Angelus would want to see you in chains," Angel had whispered as he pulled Xander's hands behind his back, locking them in place with a short chain and two locks.

Dalton had growled then, and Angel left Xander in favor of slamming Dalton into the wall of his hotel, his huge fist around her throat as she clawed uselessly at his arm. Chained, Xander had only been able to hold his breath and watch. Eventually Angel had dropped her and warned them both that he would react like Angelus for this night, and they needed to remember that. Oh, Xander had no trouble remembering that as he strained against the wrist cuffs. The drive to the club had made sure of that. Dalton drove; Xander knelt on the floor of the front seat between Angel's legs. Yep, he hoped to never again get that up close and personal with Angel's crotch.

Angel stopped in the middle of the club, and Xander slipped to his knees at Angel's feet, focusing on the demon's feet and struggling to push away the niggling fears that chewed on the edges of his mind.

"I had heard you were back, vampire. How can you show your face here?" The demon rumbled his displeasure, and Xander really hoped Angel was up to this because with his hands chained, Xander couldn't really do much about it if he wasn't. And suddenly chains seemed a lot less sexy and a lot more scary. Majorly scary.

"You aren't worth my time," Angel snorted as he took a step to the side. Xander hadn't even stood all the way up before the demon attacked. When Angel dropped the chain, Xander dropped to his knees like a well-trained pet and started praying harder than he ever had before in his life. Oh yeah, hanging out with a vampire could make a person religious, especially when you didn't trust the vampire in question.

Angel leapt forward toward the demon, and Xander heard a crack of bones that could have come from anyone. The yellowish blood that then sprayed across the floor in a star pattern did seem to suggest the other guy was getting it worse though. Someone roared, and a thump behind Xander suggested Dalton had gotten into the battle as well.

Glass crashed and shattered, and a body stumbled into Xander. Unable to really do much else, Xander kicked out at the spindly demon's ankle, feeling a little surge of joy when the thing cursed and hopped away only to meet Angel's heavy fist right in its pug nose. It collapsed to the ground with a squeal, and Xander smirked, but when he glanced up into Angel's furious eyes, Xander immediately dropped his gaze again. Okay, that had definitely been an Angelus look.

"Hey, hey, hey! Enough," bellowed a deep voice whose consonants hissed out roughly. Xander guessed it was Kungai demon. No matter how those things tried, they never sounded quite human.

"Tell your boys to play nice, or I'll snap a few more necks," Angel suggested with a laugh.


Angel yanked the leash hard enough to sting, and Xander quickly stood up. Geez, if Angel had just said 'up' he would have gotten up just as fast.

"I'm looking for my erstwhile childe."

"You mean Spike?"

"I found something of his, and it's always a good time to torture the boy by taking away his toys."

Xander kept his eyes down as fear started to genuinely creep up his backbone. Okay, maybe this wasn't his best plan ever, but when the hell had Angel gotten a happy because no one could act this well. And Angel, yeah, he totally couldn't act this well. Xander held his breath as Angel pulled on a nipple until the skin stretched into a tent and ached.

"I didn't know you were back in town, Angelus."

"Well then, you can make that up to me by buying me a drink," Angel suggested as he walked forward. Xander followed, suddenly feeling very naked in a way he never did with Spike.

"Blonde or brunette?" the other guy asked, and now Xander had a good look at another pair of leather pants, this time brown, with thick boots.

"I've always preferred blondes," Angel said as he sat on a bench. Xander knelt next to him, listening to the sounds of cleaning and grunting as someone swept up the disaster Angel had left behind him. The bar had gone silent when the owner or manager or whatever the hell he was had appeared, but now a few voices started muttering again.

"Get that new girl; Angelus will appreciate her spirit," the guy called, and Xander trembled. Okay, this was fucked. If this was Angel, no way could he drink a girl, and then they were all dead. If this was Angelus, well, they'd live longer, but Xander wasn't sure that was a good thing.

Dalton's feet appeared, standing beside Xander and Xander had to fight the urge to lean into the protection she represented. She was Spike's; he was Spike's, they had a whole Spike thing going between them, but she stood silent as Angel yanked at the chain again, forcing Xander to kneel up to avoid having his head pulled off.

"I've been tasting lots of brunette lately. I had this one marked for my own, so Spike's impudence at stealing him out from under me… well, I never was a forgiving sire."

Bare feet shuffled across the wood floor, sliding as the flesh squeaked against the wood in a silent battle. Xander flinched as a girl's feet appeared. Okay, this is where he found out if he was screwed or screwed.

"Shhhh, pretty," Angel crooned as he dropped Xander's leash. Xander knelt down, his butt on his heels as he just tried to breathe. "Oh, they have treated you so badly. Shhhh. Let me get that gag out." Bare feet passed Xander and stood between the bench and the table, which forced her close to Angel. She tried to back up a half step, but then she moved forward again. Xander focused on those bare legs and the panic that slowly clawed its way up into his guts.

Angel softly soothed the girl in a voice that was all Angelus, and soon the gasping sobs replaced the muffled silence from her. "See my boy here?" Angel asked, and a big hand found Xander's hair. "Boy, look up here," Angel commanded, and Xander looked up, finding the girl's eyes focused on him. Her eyes were almost black, the centers wide with either terror or drugs, possibly both, and as she looked down at him, he could see the corners of her mouth rubbed raw and red. "Boy, what advice would you offer the girl?" Angel asked.

Advice. Okay, if Xander had any idea who he was dealing with, he might know what to say. However, she had her hands tied behind her back, and a horned demon held a leash and Angel had his hands on her hips so that she couldn't scoot out of the narrow space, so he didn't suppose it made too much difference what he told her.

"Don't fight," he finally whispered. Angel would protect her, and if it was Angelus... well, there was nothing Angelus liked more than torturing food that fought back. The girl stared down at him, and Xander watched as Angel reached up and stroked her cheek.

"Shhhh, my pretty. I know you want to please me. After all, if you please me enough, I just might think about taking you out of here." Angel pulled her down into his lap as she panted in fear.

"That one has an attitude. You would be better off picking one of the others," the first demon suggested.

"Don't presume to tell me what I want, Aturr," Angel purred as he pulled the girl to him slowly. "Shhhh. Look at the boy's shoulder. So many feedings and he's still safe. You want that, don't you?" he asked. "You want to be safe? I can give you that if you please me."

"Boy," Angel warned, and Xander dropped his eyes to the ground. Angel did something that made the girl gasp, and then Xander heard the familiar sounds of sucking. Fuck fuck and fuckity fuck. Eventually the sound stopped, and Angel let the body slide from his lap. It hit the wood floor and rolled a bit under the table. Angelus gave it a bit of a kick, and now Xander had a good view of her legs as she lay sprawled indecently on the floor at Angelus' feet.

"So, what trouble has my childe gotten into this time?" Angelus asked. He yanked the chain again. "Come up here, boy. I think you deserve a spanking for kicking that demon. One of these days, I will teach you your place."

Xander rose on trembling knees, his hands fisted uselessly as he leaned over Angelus' lap awkwardly. At the last minute, strong hands reached out and pulled him down so that he lay on the bench, his ass up in the air over Angelus' lap.

"Garmon took him. Seems like they had some trouble back in Ankara when Spike went storming through Turkey about sixty or seventy years ago. He promised to ship him back there and chain him out in the desert to wait for the rising sun."

Xander tensed at the idea of Spike helpless, but then Angelus' hand landed so hard on Xander ass that he couldn't contain a yelp.

"And here I'd heard he was so well trained," Aturr said contemptuously.

"My William never did know how to finish a job, but I'll get him whipped into shape." Angelus hit again, and Xander kept his silence this time, closing his eyes against the fire that traveled up his backside. Oh this was such a monumentally bad idea. Bad bad bad idea. He was no longer allowed to have ideas any more, although that might not be an issue for much longer. Xander just hoped that Angelus would still save Spike. Angelus' hand fell again, and Xander could feel the tears threaten as he struggled to separate his body from his mind. Spike had hit him harder, and yet Xander never really felt that pain like he felt this. "He has a soft spot for the human, and William never did like it when I poked his soft spots."

"Garmon has him in back. Do you want me to see if he'd be willing to share?" Aturr asked, his enthusiasm clear.

"If he doesn't mind. I do hope to get in a little payback of my own before he sends the boy off for a final death."

Aturr clucked and disappeared.

"Oh my boy, I have not enjoyed myself so much for quite some time. You know," Angelus paused and Xander felt his tail lifted, fingers gently combing through the strands in a parody of affection, "I really did have plans for you." Angelus struck again, and Xander focused on breathing.

"What? No witty come-back? No insult?" Angelus poked at Xander's side. "Answer, boy!"

"No, Angelus," Xander said quickly before the words could let out the tears of humiliation and fear and regret.

"No, what?"

"No insults, Angelus," Xander whispered.

"Maybe you're trainable after all. You remind me so much of Drusilla. You have that same determination to follow some ridiculous moral code, the same insecurities, the same soulful brown eyes. I've always wondered if you would break as well as she did. I thought of it as an experiment." Angelus now stroked the back of Xander's leg, his hand trailing up and then under to press the base of the butt plug Xander wore.

"I bet you'd learn to beg for the whip and call me Daddy, just like she did," Angelus whispered with a chuckle. "Humans are so ridiculously easy to break."

Xander could feel his heart pounding dangerously fast, but it only beat faster when a familiar pair of Doc Martins stopped in front of the table. Xander had his head turned that direction, so when Spike fell to his knees, Xander could see the blood stained arm, the badly bent fingers on one hand, and the rust-colored streaks down his jeans. A pair of demon legs stood on either side of him.

"Boyo, how many times have I told you to keep your toys on a short leash?" Angelus asked with a chuckle. The table blocked Xander's view of Spike's face, but he could hear the angry growl. "Of course, you have improved some. You did at least have this one leashed." Angelus pulled on the chain so hard that Xander's back arched as he was lifted by his neck. He could feel muscles strain, but at least the new position let him see over the table. And really… he wished he hadn't.

Spike's face was bloodied and swollen, the flesh purple and fat. One eye was completely closed and the other was bloodshot. A clot of red in one corner of the yellowed eye made it look diseased.

Spike struggled up, using his good hand on the table top as he held his other arm close to his body.

"Angelus?" he asked, his words slurred by swollen lips.

"Your pet is not as well trained as I would expect from one of my childer," Angelus said in an amused voice. "I hope he's good at sucking cock because right now I'm not sure he's worth the trouble to feed."

"You fuckin—" Spike's words ended in a grunt as a huge Fyarl demon planted a clawed fist deep into Spike's stomach. Spike collapsed to the ground, and Xander could hear the pained coughing. When Angelus dropped his leash, Xander could see under the table where Spike lay on the ground, coughing blood. A yellow eye found him, and Spike slipped back into human features. Xander looked into that blue eye, still stained with red, and the tears nearly overcame his resolve.

Spike struggled up again, and now Xander could only see jeans and boots.

"So, mate. Fancy seein' you here."

"I must admit that I do approve of your first childe. She has more self-control than you ever did at your age."

"Yeah, well maybe I just enjoyed annoyin' you," Spike snapped, and when Xander expected more punching, Angelus just laughed. Someone did something because the two Fyarl demons stepped away.

"Yes, you always did have more mouth than brains. And now, you've gone and crossed Garmon. Or rather, you did that a while back, but like I always told you William, actions have consequences, especially when you're too weak to protect yourself from them."

"Spike." Spike snapped his name at Angelus.

"When you're strong enough to stand up to me without getting your ass kicked, I'll consider your request for a name change. But right now, William, we're discussing your toys. I think I'll keep your childe. Maybe she'll prove more useful than the pathetic thing Drusilla dragged home with her. And Xander might prove interesting. True, I had planned to save him for last, making him break a little each time he saw a friend die, but plans change." Angelus stroked Xander's leg, and Xander felt an almost overwhelming need to either cry or to kick out in anger. The problem was, neither would actually help him.

"He killed my humans," a new voice complained bitterly.

"Yes, well he never did have any sense. I dare say that's why Drusilla left him right before the war. She knew better than to get involved with others' humans, but William has always felt a need to try and prove something. It's really quite foolish," Angelus said amiably. As much as Xander hated Angel's broodiness, the good humor was annoying Xander even more. A new set of feet appeared on the far side of the table.

"Not like you had 'em marked," Spike complained. A Fyarl stepped forward again, and flesh thudded against flesh. From the sound, this time Spike collapsed onto the table.

"Cost me money."

"He ruined a half dozen of my horses, so don't complain to me about how much damage the boy can do. And let's not even talk about the fact that he ate the family that my own sire meant to use as leverage to make the gypsies free me of that cursed soul. He has been nothing but trouble since Drusilla sired him."

"You don't come to ransom him?" The voice sounded both confused and disappointed. Even among demons, dollars spoke louder than blood. Xander felt his failure rise up like a pain in his chest that made the pain in his ass disappear. Angelus wouldn't save Spike, and now Xander had just gone and made it harder on everyone. Well, everyone except Angelus who seemed to be having a pretty good time.

"I came to torture the boy before you sent him back to Ankara. He needs to see that he can't hold onto what's his. His childe is mine, and so is his pretty little human. I'll hang Xander by chains and whip him until he's standing in a pool of his own blood.

"You bloody wanker. Touch hi—." Another punch. This time the table shook with the force of Spike falling on it.

"I'll touch what I want, boy. Everything you own is mine, and so are you. I have to tell you, all this blood and violence is making me horny. So, you or your pet… who will service the master?" Angelus asked.

Xander swallowed, his chest tightening so that he could feel the creeping tingles all the way down into his stomach. He wouldn't let Angelus hurt his master; he could do this… maybe.

"I will," Xander whispered, his fear strangling the words.

"Bloody hell, no," Spike snarled.

"Have you missed having your sire's hands on you, boy?" Angelus asked. "Going to beg for it?"

The club had grown quiet, the backdrop of voices muffled and someone had turned off the music altogether. In the silence, Xander waited. A part of him hoped that Spike would just stay quiet because Xander would rather do the deed himself than see Spike abused, but the fear that now nested in his throat wouldn't let him say anything.

"Please, sire. Let me serve you," Spike muttered angrily.

"Oh boyo, that didn't sound convincing. I think your pet could do better. Can't you, Xander?" Angelus asked, bringing his hand down on Xander's ass again.

"Please, sire. Been so long. Please let me serve you." This time, Spike's voice came out needy.

"That almost sounded convincing," Angelus said, his fingers now gently rubbing Xander's ass, and Xander hated that mocking touch even more than the hitting. "I suppose I have more than enough time to play with Xander, but soon you'll be gone," Angelus purred. Xander felt himself pushed and lifted so that he ended up on his feet at the end of the bench.

Xander looked over, and Spike was leaning against the table, his good hand bearing much of his weight, and his blood streaked across the wood top. "Don't watch, pet," Spike said softly as he came around the table, nearly dragging one leg. Xander sank to his knees and stared at the floor two inches in front of his knees.

God, he was a screw up. Huge screw up. Fucking monumental screw up. Xander felt warm tears trickle down over his cheeks, and he couldn't stop the flow. Familiar sounds: zipper, wet sucking noises, grunts of pleasure. Familiar sounds were suddenly dark and twisted, and Xander just kept his eyes on the floor as he wept. Fuck. Had it been Angelus the whole time? Was that why everyone was gone? Okay, not really mattering now, but Xander let his mind drift away from the grotesque sounds coming from just inches away.

"You look good sucking cock, William. You always did." Xander flinched, but the sucking continued in the same pattern. Soon Xander could hear the slaps and grunts and the rape got more violent. Spike made a choking sound, and Angelus cried out. Then the noise stopped. A zipper. Xander struggled to just turn off his brain. Wouldn't that be nice, to just turn off the brain and drop dead? That would be a superpower he could get behind.

"This might be worth coming back for. When are you shipping him out to Ankara?" Angelus asked, his voice just as happy as Willow after getting back a math exam.

"Expensive to send so far. I may just stake him," the other guy offered. Xander glanced over, and Spike's feet stood between Angelus' open thighs. God, I'm sorry, Spike, Xander thought. Telepathy, another nice superpower. Unfortunately, Xander didn't have any powers.

"After killing all your humans? Doesn't sound like punishment enough. Now this one time, after the boy killed a beautiful horse, I whipped him and then poured holy water into the open wounds. He screamed a good bit that time. Thought he might even dust the way the smoke poured off him. Or try hanging him upside down for a few weeks. It kills a human, but with a vampire, all the blood going to the head will make the feet start to rot off."

Xander tasted bile as Angelus' words washed over him, but Spike didn't even shift.

"You do this?"

"It's been a long time since I had a vampire to torture. Drusilla enjoyed it too much for me to really get into it. Sometimes I would run my hands over her so softly as she begged for pain and blood. It was a special sort of torture between my girl and me. But William… oh, I would certainly enjoy some time with this body."

"One hundred a day."

Angelus laughed. It was a full belly laugh, full of joy as if someone had just told the best joke in the world.

"You want him tortured. I should charge you," Angelus countered.

"You like it."

"Yes, and I'll like taking the pet home and trying out a few new toys they've come up with in the last hundred years. I really do want to try some of the electrical torture I've read about. I can just imagine his body taut and his mouth open in a silent scream as the current passes through him."

Xander heard a brief noise from Spike, something low and desperate, but then it was gone again.

"Not like vampire body." Angelus didn't answer that one right away, and Xander focused on the seams in the wood floor. He wished he could just slide into one and disappear.

"No, for that I have Spike's own childe," Angelus said. "I didn't think the boy would ever make a true childe, but now that he has, I don't mind enjoying the benefits. She's ugly, but then I'm not interested in seducing her."

The demon made a whuffing noise. "You take him. You torture."

"And what are you going to do for me in return?" Angelus asked calmly. Xander twitched. Was this part of the plan? Okay, had he just missed some memo that said that Angel could totally pull off the bluff of the century? Xander glanced at the girl's legs. She'd rolled up and under the table, so Xander focused on her for the first time. Her eyes were closed. Didn't people's eyes open when they were dead? Okay, Xander was officially confused. Girl dead, girl alive? Angel, Angelus?

"He's trouble. I just stake."

Angelus pushed Spike so that he stumbled sideways, falling to the ground in front of Xander who knelt beside the bench seat. If Xander's hands hadn't been chained, he would have reached out and touched the battered face just once more. Spike looked at him, his one blue eye showing, and a new wave of tears cooled Xander's face as he struggled to breathe.

"You want him? You have him. Oh, and if Drusilla shows up, be sure to have someone call me after she guts you. I miss my girl, and now that I'm back to my right mind, I need some quality time with her."

Xander ignored Angelus' words and the thick feet that moved toward Spike. He ignored the pain that wrapped around his chest and the tears running down his face. God. What had he done? If the guy had kept Spike, sent him to Ankara, there would have been time for Spike to try and escape. Xander felt the pressure in his chest worsen with each breath.

"Don't look, pet," Spike whispered, his lips cracked and white drying on his face. For the first time in months, Xander didn't obey. He watched while the feet stood behind Spike. Spike pushed himself up on his good arm and went into game face. Unfortunately, he couldn't even get to his feet with his bad leg stretched out behind him.

"Take him," the voice said disgustedly.

"Get Aturr to throw in the girl, and I might. Then again, I might just leave him here and enjoy the bloodbath when Drusilla comes back to reality long enough to find out you've staked her only childe."

"Take, take," the man said, and feet stomped away. Xander breathed again, his chest still aching and his brain doing complete circles as it tried to figure out what was going on.

"Boy," Angelus snarled. Xander thought he meant Spike until a hand grabbed his chin and forced his face up. He stared into yellow eyes and shivered at the coldness there. "You try to run, and I will pull your intestines out through your belly and tie your feet with them, understand?"

"Yes," Xander agreed. He couldn't run if he wanted to; his legs shook too badly. Angelus let go of him and reached down to unlock the chains at his wrists.

"Get that lump," Angelus ordered with a wave toward Spike. Xander reached out, gingerly touching his mangled vampire, and Spike gave him a grin that only reached half his face, the other half too swollen to smile.

"No worries, mate," he whispered. Yeah, right. No worries, Xander would have snorted if they were home alone. Instead he could only slip his arms around Spike's waist and pull the vampire upright. Angelus said something that Xander missed since he was totally focused on Spike, and Dalton walked over and pulled the girl's legs so that her body slid out from under the table before she slung the limp body over a shoulder.

Angelus started walking, and the leash yanked viciously at Xander's neck as he hurried to catch up with Angelus and support Spike's weight. Spike flinched every time he stepped down on his right side, but he didn't make a noise as the four of them, two vampires, one pet, and one passed out girl, followed Angelus out into the night air.

Dalton drove again, and this time Angelus claimed the back seat, jerking the leash to force Xander into the back with him while Spike and the passed out girl crowded into the front seat next to Dalton. Xander knelt on the floor at Angelus' feet utterly confused and aching to go to Spike, to offer his neck and feel Spike claiming him and telling him that he hadn't fucked up by bringing psycho boy into this.

"Sloppy, boy," Angelus said, the wind whipping the words away as fast as he said them.

"Didn't know the wanker had such a long memory."

"I taught you to watch your back better than that, William."

"It's Spike."

Xander could almost feel the silence in the car, and Angelus shifted as he sat up straight in the seat.

"Spike." He sounded tired, something Xander always associated with Angel, and yet the confusion wasn't getting any less.

"Thanks for coming." Spike didn't sound grateful; he sounded as tired as Angel.

"Someone didn't give me much of a choice," Angel pointed out as he reached down and touched Xander's shoulder. Xander looked up in confusion.

"He can be a mouthy git," Spike agreed as Dalton pulled into a dark lot between two buildings. An old car with one window replaced with a duct-taped garbage bag waited.

"I don't want you in my city," Angel said as Dalton turned off the ignition and got out.

"No bloody kidding. Think I knew that since I went out of my way to avoid ya, wanker," Spike offered. Okay, this would definitely be Angel since Angelus probably would have broken a few of Spike's bones for that one. Xander scooted back slowly, and Angel stood up and got out of the car right before Xander scrambled out the other side. Xander hurried around the car and slipped an arm around Spike. Without a word, Spike grabbed Xander's shoulders and let himself sag so that Xander could feel the strain in his back.


"See ya around, Peaches," Spike said as he tried to turn. With one leg dragging, he couldn't really turn that well, so Xander strong-armed him around and then the two of them started for the car.

Xander didn't hear anything behind them until after he opened the back door of the old sedan and helped Spike sit on the seat. As Spike struggled to get both feet in the car, Xander turned to see Angel start the car and back out into the street. Leaving Dalton to handle the driving, Xander hurried around the other side to crawl in with his master.

"Bloody ballsy of you, pet. Remind me to punish you for taking a risk like that once I’m strong enough to raise the paddle," Spike said as Xander climbed in.

"Yes, master," Xander agreed. He'd pretty much agree to anything right now. He'd agree happily as long as it meant Spike here, leaning over until he could drop into Xander's lap. Xander smoothed Spike's hair back. The gel was gone leaving soft curls that wisped around his bloodied face. "I thought Angel could get you out."

"He couldn't," Spike said, and Xander looked down in confusion as Dalton started the car. "That was Angelus, pet. The soul turned over control seein' as how Angel couldn't have fooled that lot for three seconds."

"Wait, so that really was…" Xander looked out the front window at the traffic as though he could catch some glimpse of the dark convertible.

"Surprised the broody one would turn over control like that, but listen up, pet." Spike reached up and pulled at the chain that dangled from Xander's collar. "You go anywhere near my sire again and I'll whip you within an inch of your life."

"Angelus?" Xander asked again. Spike sighed.

"Wanker always did want you, and I'd rather be dust than watch him break ya like he did Dru. So, next time you either ask the slayer or just bloody… let me deal with my own shite."

"It's our shit," Xander said as he slowly looked back down. Okay, he'd been kneeling at Angelus' feet, that was not good for the digestion. "You took on my shit when you put the collar on me, and I took on your shit when I let you," Xander said quietly as he focused on his master.

"You're a bloody romantic, pet, you know that, don't you?"

"Yep," Xander agreed. Spike slowly closed his one good eye, and his body slowly sagged. Sitting back in the seat, Xander held his master as he slept.

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