Apocalypse Laterish



Xander wandered about the small village, weaving his way through crowds of villagers so busy with post-battle recovery, that they barely noted him. There didn’t seem, to him, to be all that much surface damage. Some of the tall poles had been knocked sideways, and the occasional nylon net they used for fencing hung limply where its supports had been broken or pressed into the wet ground. But some deeper, more urgent damage must have been done, because the villagers swarmed about him in an apparent state of high emergency. There were none he felt comfortable stopping and attempting to communicate with. He found his way by himself, back the way he and Berynn had come. The largish building, in which he and Dahla had met the villagers, had both doors open and he saw several prone bodies inside. He imagined it must be some sort of Town Hall, now being used as an emergency hospital. He stepped inside and looked around the busy room for signs of Spike.

There seemed to be quite a few wounded. Xander hadn’t realized how deeply into the village the demons had penetrated until he saw all the injured. The desire to help, almost a physical ache, that always rose up in him at the sight of trouble, was ignited, and he bent to assist a woman as she struggled with a jug of liquid. She smiled at him with some gratitude and Xander felt a kind of barometric shift in his body as he immediately acclimated to the familiarity of usefulness. He put the jug on an indicated table. Looked around the room, trying to find a place where he could lend a hand.

As was his way, Xander merely did what he could, and found himself busy. He had no knowledge of medicine, in his own time let alone in this odd place, so he stayed out of the way of the ‘doctors’ and helped lift heavy patients, brought blankets and pillows down from high shelves. Sorted out traffic patterns through the crowded floor. At one point, he found himself sitting on the floor next to a distraught woman, patting her on the back as she babbled something into his uncomprehending but obviously sympathetic face.

He looked up from where he sat and saw Dahla bending over a prone villager. She straightened, turned and looked directly at him. She could sense him, Xander realized. He felt his Hellmouth perfected internal adapter find its balance as he accepted this. He waved. She nodded and pointed towards a smallish alcove like the one in which Xander had rested. Xander nodded back, and rose obediently.

Wondering what task Dahla had sent him to do, he wove his way around the activities on the main floor and gently pushed aside the curtain, poking his head into the small space.


In the gold arc of candlelight Xander saw two bodies twined together on the bed. He jumped back and would have withdrawn immediately, but dampish brown hair moved in such a way in the low light that he suddenly recognized Spike as half of the couple. And was unable to move.

Spike’s was naked except for those silky boxer shorts, his skin as pale as the small male body he curled over. His hands ran, in a soothing, sensuous, constant motion, up and down the small boned face tipped back in agony or ecstasy, dark lashes and brows bent, mouth open, panting. Spike’s long, sensitive fingers threading through the dark hair.

The man’s head was tipped back to arch his neck, an offering over which Spike bent. There was a wet, sloppy sound, a sucking noise, like a little kid messily drinking a slurpee. The young man moaned, and Spike’s head moved. The drinking sound stopped. He murmured in that lilting language, something soft, something gentle; his hands ran over the face lightly, slid down the neck and up and down one arm. Then he bent to the boy’s neck again.

Xander found his glance catching on things, like sharp tacks snagging at a silken cloth. He couldn’t seem to stop it. The boy’s arm; a sheen of moisture over the perfect, marble white skin. The hand splayed then grasped, as if trying to hold something. Spike’s back; purplish puncture wounds marching down it, to the silken shorts that moved in the low light in a subtle rhythmic motion. With the distinct sensation of something tearing, Xander forced his eyes away.

This was the reality in which he would now live, he told himself fiercely, and forced himself to look back. To watch Spike feed. The boy moaned again and Xander felt himself shiver as Spike also moaned and moved his head slightly over the white skin. The sight should sicken him, he thought. He should feel a compulsion to stop it. But he felt more like a voyeur watching an intimate coupling than a man coming upon a demon attack. He watched in a growing confusion of feelings as one of Spike’s hands slid downward and covered the young man’s crotch, softly kneading the obvious erection. The boy cried out, a high sound of pleasure and joy, his hips thrusting up, spasming against Spike’s hand.

The curtain flipped lightly behind Xander as he spun around, away from the alcove and out of the building.


Angel was leaning against a carved arch that led out of the village when Spike found him. The elder vampire’s clothes had been replaced, and the wound on his neck almost healed thanks to the blood gifts of several villagers. His skin in the dim light was still slightly flushed with warmth and as Spike approached him, the dark eyes that met his were noticeably lustful.

“Where’s the brat, Angel? I saw him,” Spike looked about the still busy streets. He wanted nothing more than to get far away from this place, but he wanted to see Xander safe and well before he did. “hours ago and then he took off.”

Angel sighed. “I’m sure he’s fine, Spike. Lets get back to the tent,” he said urgently.

“Where would he have got to…?” Spike frowned.

“Spike, I…” Angel cast a quick sideways glance at Spike, then frowned at the ground in a confused embarrassment that Spike had come to identify as Angel flirting. “I really would like to go home now.”

Spike had an ache so deep inside, it was like a glass shard embedded in his bones. “Not in the mood, Angel,” he said.

“I… I don’t know what you mean,” said Angel, the whites of his eyes flashing as he cast a surprised and slightly panicked look at Spike. “I’m just… tired and I want to … to go home now.”

“Right. Listen, Angel, I’ve gotta find the whelp.”

“Spike.” Angel’s voice was becoming peevish. “He’s either safely bundled away with some village girl or he’s back at our tents. Either way, I’m sure he’s fine.”

This silenced Spike, who suddenly had a vision of the tall, dark boy standing amidst the small men of this village, literally picking from a throng of willing young women.

He kicked at a puddle as he strode through the gate.


Xander was cold, wet, and exhausted, but he couldn’t stop moving. Reaction, and the remnants of the ‘flu, had weakened his robust, teenaged body. He noted his hands shaking as he bent to help a woman lift a pole back into place. His head was spinning with the weirdness, and despite his Sunnydale roots and familiarity with the macabre, he was still having trouble accepting half of what he saw around him. It felt as if he were walking a tightrope and at one end a mad clown periodically grabbed and shook the line.

That was why he was feeling this way, he told himself, shoving the pole, with a great deal more force than necessary, back into the muddy, sucking hole. He was confused and off-balance. Totally dependant on his two least favorite people, or rather, non-people. He stepped back, shrugging apologetically at the woman he was helping, who seemed a bit taken aback by his vehemence.

The thing was, Xander pondered, watching the villager expertly lashing the pole back in place, his Spike hatred was more a matter of principal. He had begun to feel a degree of empathy for the blond menace ages ago, while he was still a young man, and had only clung to the hatred because it was convenient and unchallenged.

He had last seen Spike at that horrifically depressing funeral for Buffy and Dawn, and had actually felt sorry for the guy. Not the first time he had pitied the heart-on-his sleeve monster, but definitely the oddest. Given that he, himself, was pretty much overcome with grief it was weird that he had noticed or felt a twinge of sympathy for the demon hovering, like a pale memory, in the dark vestibule at the back of the church. His agony was palpable. Sitting next to his expectant wife, towards whom he felt an almost painful protectiveness, Xander recognized Spike’s agony as that of a male unable to save those he cared for.

Angel had been more flamboyant in his distress, and so received the lion’s share of sympathy. Even Giles, overcome as well, had shared a hug with the brooding vampire.

It was as if Spike’s feelings, because they had not been returned, were insignificant. As if Spike himself were merely an afterward in the story of Angel. Xander got how that was, how it felt to be a footnote, a sideline. A mere sentence in a great story. Like that sister of Moses that no one remembered. And he got the truth of it. That love is not lessened by its not being wanted.

He thought of his wife. How it had felt to look into eyes that loved back in equal measure. And he thought of his son. He knew, somehow, that Spike had never had that.


Spike sucked harder on Angel’s cock and wished he would hurry up and come. Spike had lost all enthusiasm for this blow-job and was now only seeking to finish it. The inside of his mouth felt dry and rough, as if his own saliva had run out when his taste for Angel had dried up. His jaw ached and his lips and tongue felt almost bruised. He had been giving head to the other vampire for what seemed an interminable time and still Angel lay almost silent, arm flung over his eyes, fingers lightly tangled in Spike’s hair, his hips shifting vaguely now and then. Spike could feel Angel’s balls, tight against his chin, ready to explode, but Angel seemed stuck there. Eternally frustrated.

Spike began stroking the insides of Angel’s legs, and then running his hands up and down the muscled abdomen. Relax, you great lummox, he thought with irritation, relax and let it happen. He caught Angel’s left nipple between two sharp fingernails and pinched hard, more with impatience than a desire to please, and Angel arched suddenly, crying out in surprise, and flooded Spike’s mouth with cold cum.


The people around him were grappling with a great muddy knot of nylon netting and Xander stepped up to help again. They were becoming accustomed to him, he realized gratefully. The men, no longer hesitant, would tap his arm and gesture with familiarity when they wanted him to do something. Their shyness gone, Xander was thrilled a little by the clarity of those beautiful eyes, the lack of dissemblance there.

The women were all beautiful, with that clean, precious beauty of porcelain. Xander expected he was still out of balance and shocky, because he didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of the females who appraised him with openly speculative, yet somehow innocent, looks.

Actually, he just kept finding himself thinking of his vampires and wanting to get back to them. The village seemed to have settled down somewhat. The air of urgency tempered. Most of the solar lights were back up and the dim glow showed Xander streets orderly and almost empty. Yet he stayed on, chilled with the damp, coughing frequently; he longed to return to the vampires’ camp and so fought that longing. Wondering at it and poking at it in his mind.

He offered to carry the mass of torn netting back to a building, and as he settled it in an indicated corner, he tried once more to fathom his sense of connection to Angel and Spike.

He needed Spike and Angel in order to survive. Of course he was concerned for their safety. And Spike had tried, was trying, to make things easier for him. Had even offered a kind of awkward comfort. Xander’s chill abated somewhat, a warm flush spreading across his skin at the memory of that comfort. Spike’s strong arms clasped steadily around him. Spike’s lips gently pressed to his. And who would have expected the gentleness? And once again, for an unfathomable reason, Xander’s mind flashed before him the picture of Spike across the young man, feeding from him. A sudden rush in his groin and tingle down his legs, and the clenching in his belly was not the disgusted feeling he had expected. It felt like desire, he realized, putting one hand out to a nearby wall as if needing the support.

He was out of his depth, he told himself fiercely again. In an adolescent body and dependent on Spike and Angel, of course he felt drawn to them. Xander shifted uncomfortably as parts of his body refused to accept this explanation and worked in evil collusion with an imagination that now put himself in that pale young man’s place, that now put Spike’s lips, soft and surprisingly warm, traveling over his chin and down his neck. Spike’s fangs, not Angel’s, piercing the skin of his throat.


Spike gazed down at Angel’s massive, naked body, and felt that he saw him from a great distance. Angel still lay, legs spread, satisfied penis flaccid against one thigh, arm across his face, not breathing.

“Well,” Spike dropped the word into the absolute stillness, “all sorted then, mate?”

Angel lay unmoving. His lips barely opened. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure,” Spike growled the lie. He shook off the feeling of malaise that always followed these acts now and slapped his knees, ready to rise.

“Spike,” whispered Angel, his hand barely moving but the gesture effectively staying Spike’s movements.

“Yeah, Angel?”

“Does it still matter to you?”

Spike looked at his companion with a softness in his face that would have shocked and embarrassed them both, if either had seen it. “Course it does, Angel.”

“Why?” The question was breathed so softly only Spike would have been able to hear it.

He lay a hand on the cold, hard muscle of Angel’s thigh. “Yer tired, old man. Had yer head practically cut off and I’ll bet you haven’t slept for two nights. Rest. We’ll talk when you wake, okay?”

Angel made a noise that Spike decided to take as acquiescence.

“Right then,” He pulled a blanket gently over Angel’s unresisting nakedness and stood. His thoughts hovered there, over the still form and then, like a heat seeking missile, he found them eager and lively, wondering about Xander Harris.

“Think I’ll go see what the whelp’s been up to,” he told the apparently unconscious Angel.

But Angel was not asleep. And his arm slid from his face as he gazed up at Spike with something dark in his eyes. “We should never have brought him here,” he stated.

Spike thought he would have agreed with Angel, a day ago. But now he wasn’t so sure. “Might be okay,” he said.

“No,” said Angel. He actually raised himself up on his elbows, seeming to have become suddenly re-energized. “No, he doesn’t belong here and we… we should send him back.”


“I should speak to the Powers, we should ask them…”

“What? NO!” ‘Could they do that?’ Spike wondered to himself. Now that the kid was here, could they take him away? “No, Angel, that’s not fair, that’s not…”

“Fair?” Angel’s face seemed to go almost maroon with blood as if barely masking a deep rage. “What’s fair about any of this?” he said loudly. He pushed himself to a sitting position.

“You want to kill him?”

“He’s already dead.” Angel’s smile was more a baring of teeth.

This enraged Spike enormously. “So are you, you great hulking poof!” He couldn’t catch up with the thoughts and feelings he was having. Emotionally breathless, he chased them wildly. “You can’t just take him away. Now that he’s gonna make it, maybe. Now that I…” he stopped, confused. He found he was breathing. Breathing hard, standing over Angel with his fists clenched.

“God, Angel, just piss off, would you?” he yelled and stomped out of the tent.


“Damn it, Harris, get a grip,” Xander hissed to himself. Like a cold shower, the chill air had shocked his body out of its fantasy. With relief he felt his erection subside. But, shivering and shaking and once again enervated beyond bearing, he found his mind still stuck on it. He took off towards the hill that climbed back to the vampires’ tents; arms clasped around himself, stomping hard to keep the blood warm in his legs, teeth clenched uncontrollably with the cold. He ran the last few feet up the hill and heard their voices, arguing, just before Spike’s hand drew back the tent flap and he appeared in the door of Angel’s tent.

Their eyes met. God, thought Xander with an internal groan. ‘our eyes met’, what the Harlequin Hell are you thinking, Harris? But he still was frozen there for a tiny moment. Then both he and Spike seemed to simultaneously get hold of themselves. Xander looked down, shivering violently. Spike stepped forward and waved Xander to precede him into the empty tent. He followed, pointedly gesturing towards the stove.

“Want me to start that?”

“Yes, would you please?” said Xander to his shoes.

“You’re wet through.”

“Yeah, its cold.” Xander coughed.

Spike tisked. “Shouldna tried ta come out again without proper clothes.” He studied the fire grate and did not think about Xander getting dressed, Xander somewhere getting undressed…

“Wasn’t really in, Spike. Nowhere to come out from.”

Spike felt a little of the tension in his belly subside. He hadn’t even known it was there, but he found himself relieved to have it gone. Then he grasped what Xander had just said. “You’ve been outside all this time? It’s been hours since I last saw you, Harris.”

“Yeah, well.” Xander felt ridiculous. An old man’s brain shaking its head at an adolescent boy’s foolish emotions. “Well, I was trying to help out, and then walking around and, um, looking at stuff.”

“Walking around.”

Spike was looking at him with those piercing blue eyes. Xander twitched a shoulder uncomfortably. He marched over and gathered up a pile of blankets, then awkwardly tried to drape them around himself.

“Why didn’t you come find me?” asked Spike, watching Harris obviously avoiding his eyes. Xander shrugged again. Spike regarded him. The little boxes in the crossword puzzle began filling in.

“I did,” said Xander, his voice rising. He became interested in the blankets. “You were busy… so I …left.” He felt the heat on his cheeks now. From the fire, of course.

“I was busy?” Spike said, a sudden sharpness in his voice. He studied Xander intently. “What stuff were you lookin’ at, then, whelp?”

“I…I saw you feeding,” Xander began. He glanced up, saw the flare in Spike’s eyes, took it for anger, shame, something not good. “Dahla told me to,” he said childishly. He looked away. He stood for a moment, head turned away, imagining he could feel Spike glaring at him. “Look, I know. But I can’t like it. I just can’t.” He turned back and was surprised to see Spike staring blankly at the fire grate, his shoulders curved in, his head bent.

“Oh, I see. I have your official disapproval then, do I?” said Spike wearily. He sat down heavily. And to Xander’s growing amazement, he buried his head in his hands. “Well, can’t expect you to understand, but I don’t think of it that way. I … I can’t.”

Xander could not remember, in this life or any other, having ever seen Spike looking so vulnerable, so utterly lacking in arrogance and braggadocio.

“You shouldn’t have seen that, whelp,” Spike finally said from within his hands. “She shouldn’t have sent you to see that.”

“Yeah, that’s why I left, I guess,” said Xander, trying not to let the mental image rise up in his mind again. Fearing his own body's reaction, and Spike’s.

“Was a private thing. Just for the boy.” Spike sounded so emotional, Xander found himself wondering briefly if the vampire had a relationship with one of the humans? It seemed unlikely.

“Woulda had his parents there, but he lost them in the raid last year,” added Spike softly.

Xander stared. Parents attended sexual couplings of their children? No. Way. No permutation of the human species would ever be like that.

“Uh. What?” said Xander in his adolescent, squeaky voice.

Spike turned and glared at him, then jerked to his feet. Xander felt he had deeply angered him and had no idea how. He gathered the blankets around himself, losing one side of the heavy drapery.

Spike automatically caught the corner of the blanket as it fell away from Harris’ shoulder. He felt the boy’s body stiffen as his hand made contact with his back. A rush of fresh hurt bit into the pain he was already feeling. He bit his lip and turned back to the stove.

“Hungry?” he said after a few stiff minutes.

“Yeah,” breathed Xander, watching Spike in a wonder of perplexity.

Spike slammed the stove door shut a bit harder than necessary. Flipped open the fiberglass box in which the food was kept, a numbness in his hands as he blindly tossed a few of the objects out onto the preparation board and then he slammed his fist hard onto the surface.

“Fuck it, Harris, it’s just the way it is.”

“What?” Xander had jumped at the sound and now stared at Spike from the midst of his little mountain of blankets.

“It doesn’t bother anybody but you, so you’ll just hafta suck it up.” As he began kneading out the doughy filling, Spike noted his own hands shaking. He grit his teeth and slammed the breadboard again.

Xander stared at him. “What the hell did I do now?”

“You know.”

“No I don’t. I have no fucking idea. I haven’t done or said anything.”

“It’s not that, its yer attitude.”

“My attitude?” Xander’s voice almost squeaked with outrage. He pushed free of his blankets and stood, hands spread in disbelief. “What? You mean the attitude that I have been brought here against my will by the two guys I hate most in the world? Forced to watch you f…feed. And … and listen to…” he waved his arm expressively in the general direction of Angel’s tent. “And do I say anything? I’m trying…”

“Oh here we go with that old whine. Give it a bloody rest already…”

“Nobody to talk to, fucking freezing cold all the time, couple of pre-menstrual vampires and…”

“Oh!” Spike leapt to his feet and advanced across the floor, jabbing a floury finger in Xander’s direction. “Look who’s talkin’. Least I don’t go stampin’ off like a bloody drama queen every twitch.”

“Oh pulleeze…” Xander waved an expressive hand in Spike’s direction. “Who is calling who a drama queen?”

“Right, you didn’t run screechin’ off cuz I accidentally touched you, and … and I try to help and you act like I’ve got the bloody plague.”

“What? What the hell? I did no such thing!”

Spike advanced on Xander, right into his personal space and grabbed his shoulders. Xander stiffened but glared into Spike’s eyes and didn’t step back.

“Makes you wanna run, don’t it?” said Spike fiercely, watching the boy’s pupils dilate, feeling the muscles under his palms bunch with tension. “Makes you sick to think of it?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re paranoid.”

“You can’t stand to have me touch you!” Spike yelled into Xander’s face.

Xander tried to jerk away from Spike’s hands. Found he couldn’t. He felt the wild confusion of the entire day crashing around him like a gigantic wave.

“I don’t want to do it,” said Spike, shaking him in frustration.

Xander stared.

“He… he was in pain,” said Spike. Trying to read something in Xander’s eyes. Some kind of understanding, compassion. “They want it, Harris, d’ya understand? It’s …it’s easier and I try to make it dignified. I’m just a fucking demon… I …”

Xander’s body was seventeen, but his mind was eighty-three. He had had pets put down and watched men let their sons be arrested for possession of drugs. He had been the responsible adult upon whom others relied. And he had known how weak and frail he truly was, while still trying to be strong. “He was dying?” he asked.

Spike stared up at him, blinking. His lashes glistened with moisture. Xander wondered how long it had been since someone had eased Spike’s suffering. He wondered if anyone ever had.

“Let go of me, Spike,” he said gently, easing the painfully gripping fingers from his shoulders, but softening the request by keeping Spike’s hands between his larger, warmer ones.

Spike stared backed at him, groggily. He allowed his hands to be held, then finally extracted them. He turned back towards the stove. Xander thought he saw him surreptitiously dashing moisture off his cheeks with quick jabs of his hand. “It’s my job, Harris. Angel can’t do it. He’s too… he’s just…” Spike sighed. “He just can’t.”

Xander nodded, though he figured Spike couldn’t hear his head bobbing up and down.

Spike played with an oven mitt. “It’s hard sometimes. When they’re young or… or so full of that weird religion.”

“You’re trying to help,” said Xander. “I see that.”

“Yeah?” Spike sounded doubtful.

“Sure. I was surprised. And confused. I…I get confused.” Xander’s voice faded. He thought about the bite again. Felt that stirring, despite the knowledge that he was now remembering a young man’s death. “God,” he said. “God, Spike, I’m so confused.”

Spike sniffed hard. “Yeah, I know, can’t blame you. It’s hard here sometimes. And I’m used to it.” He glanced at Xander; saw the pathetic, frightened face. Without thinking he slid one arm over Xander’s shoulders, gripped him in a firm hug. “We okay, now?”

Xander felt that steady reassurance in Spike’s arm again. Let himself lean into it. “Sure,” he said finally. “Moving forward.” The languid, rippling electricity that streamed out from where Spike’s arm wrapped around him was strange, but it was comforting. “I’m all about the moving forward,” said Xander.

“So,” he continued after a moment, straightening and clapping his hands. It was a thin sound, but it was the intention that counted here. “What’s for dinner? Veggie burritos? Or, uh, veggie burritos?” He tried a grin. Spike, gratified, managed some kind of smile back.

“’S about what the menu includes, Harris,” he said. Striking a pose as if suddenly having an idea. “Course, there’s a lotta dead Vespat demon down on that lower plateau now. Bet, if you marinated it long enough…”

“Argh! Eww! Bleh! Stop, Spike,” said Xander, now truly laughing. “Veggie burritos sound great. Fan-fucking-tabulous!”


After Xander had eaten, they sat on the bed, blankets curled around them in two identical nests, and Spike finally taught Xander the card game that he knew.

Xander frowned at his hand. “How many points for an ace again?”

Spike slapped his hand down in frustration. “Lemmee guess, Harris. You got aces?”

Xander looked up, cocked an eyebrow. “Maybe?”

Spike shook his head, grinning. “Okay, whelp, play yer little head games. We’ll see who comes out on top.”

“Hey, I always end up on top,” said Xander, trying to look cocky.

“Would have taken you fer a bottom, myself,” growled Spike, re-arranging his cards.

Xander was quiet. Spike glanced up at the boy in mild surprise. Harris could usually out-spar Spike verbally five for five. But there was a touch of pink in the boy’s cheeks and at the end of his nose.

“Oh, fer Satan’s sake, Harris. I was only kiddin’,” said Spike in disgust.

“Course you were, Spike. I know. I was just …” Xander played with his cards. “Thinking about my hand.”

“First time fer that, I guess,” said Spike. He lay down a card, dealt himself a new one. Dealt the kid the two more he signaled for. They were both quiet for a minute.

“Can I ask you something, Spike?” said Xander finally.

“Sure.” Spike squinted at his cards. Three aces. Maybe the kid really was learning to bluff.

“How’d you and Angel end up … uh, how’d you guys end up, you know…” Spike looked up in amazement. Xander’s entire face had now gone pink. His head was ducked down so that his chin rested practically on his chest and his brows met each other as he glared hard at the cards in his hand.

“It’s okay to ask, Harris,” said Spike gently. “I’m an old demon. I don’t feel embarrassed about much.”

Xander nodded. Tried to shrug nonchalantly. Spike wasn’t fooled.

“I don’t mind tellin’ you,” he said roughly, trying to make a joke of it. “Just cuz I have a soul, don’t mean I’m a prig. Little late for that,” he laughed, and watched Xander for a clue as to what the whelp was about, here.

“It was just him and me for so long,” Spike began, thinking it through himself for the first time. “Not that that’s the reason you know. Just. There was a point where it all seemed so endless and I felt like…” In a rush the memory of that time came back to him. The sense of Angel drifting away, literally disappearing into his memories and despair. And Spike alone again, helplessly trying to make contact again, had finally just crawled into bed with Angel one night. And Angel had rolled over and curled around him. “And it was just comfort, I guess. Just a way to know we were still really here. Not alive, of course, but not gone. Not really dead.” Spike sighed and lay down a card. “Guess it must sound pretty damn sick to you, huh Harris.”

“No,” said Xander softly. His chin still pressed to his chest made his voice sound smothered. “I guess I kind of get it.”

“Coupla blokes together. Mebbee you kids didn’t think nothin’ of it, but back when I was turned it were somethin’ no one even spoke of.”

“Yeah, well, times change,” said Xander. He fiddled with his cards. “Guess all guys kind of wonder, huh?” He glanced cautiously up at Spike.

Spike raised a carefully neutral eyebrow. “Guess,” he said, noncommittally.

“You know,” Xander laughed, shortly. “We’re guys. We think about it with everything and everyone. We just think about it. Cuz, you know. We’re guys.”

Spike lay down a card. Dealt himself a new one. It wasn’t his turn, but he needed something to do with his hands. “You ever tried it with a bloke, Harris?” he said finally. Pleased at how simple and casual the question sounded. Casual. Just a conversation between men as they played cards.

Xander shook his head rapidly. “Nope,” he said brightly. He accidentally dropped a card, grabbed it up. Spike pretended not to notice. “I, uh, you know, one woman man and all. Happily married and…” He closed his fan of cards, re-fanned them. Closed it again.

“Sure, course, expected as much,” said Spike in a voice that feigned boredom.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with it,” babbled Xander fiercely, “I mean, I am totally okay with guys, you know… uh…”

“Shagging each other?” suggested Spike.

“Huh,” squeaked Xander. “Yeah, that. And well, live and let live, of course. But I just … I thought you guys hated each other,” he blurted.

“Well, yeah, of course we do. What’s that got to do with it?” said Spike, tossing down another card. His cards were shit and he felt uncomfortably aware of Xander. His smell, his body heat, the size and movement of his hands just inches from Spike’s knees. It made him want to move, want to do something. He looked up at the boy again, sitting in his uncomfortable slouch and chewing at a full, red, lower lip in an agony of embarrassment and in a rush Spike realized what he wanted to do.

He wanted to kiss Xander.

“Bloody buggering fuck,” he pronounced. And threw down his cards.


After his stupid question and subsequent babble, thought Xander miserably, the whole evening had gone to hell.

Spike had pretended to be unashamed and generally blasé about Xander’s curiosity, but had been obviously faking. He had thrown his cards at Xander suddenly and jumped up. Ranting about the mess in the tent, poking at the quite adequate fire, and generally fussing about everything and nothing.

Xander was so embarrassed and angry with himself he couldn’t respond. He couldn’t think why he had even asked that question, and hearing in his own ears the accusatory nature of it, he had tried overcompensating in his eagerness to prove his acceptance and liberality. These attempts had apparently only embarrassed Spike further, though, and they were soon reduced to sitting in their opposite corners, sighing and plucking at the threads and bits of dust on their clothes.

Xander wished for television and beer like he never had before.

“You guys ever play football?” he asked, seeking safe subject matter desperately.

“Football?” repeated Spike, daring to look up at Xander. “You mean footie? Or that bloody mess you Americans had on tellie all the time?”

“Either one,” said Xander, so relieved to have something to say that he ignored the insult to the noble game of football. “You ever play?”

Spike imagined Angel running down a field kicking a ball, loudly quoting dead poets as he went. He laughed. “Never did,” he said.

“Too bad,” said Xander. “I was a coach, you know? But got too old, things were gonna break, I had to stop. It might be kinda fun…” He stretched out his long, muscular legs and grinned at them appreciatively. “Bet I could kick your ass, now,” he said.


There was much ass-kicking to be sure, thought Xander, face down once more in the mud. He grinned, his teeth gritty with wet dirt, rolled, clutching the ball of rags he and Spike had fashioned into a lumpy elliptical approximation of something like a ball. He raised and shook the mass in the air above him, victoriously. “Touchdown,” he announced.

Spike wiped his forearm across his face, clearing enough dirt off his mouth to spit. “What the bloody hell do you mean, whelp? That weren’t no touchdown or goal or anythin’. You slid halfway on yer belly!”

“Still in possession of the ball, Spike.” Xander waggled the ball once more in the air above him.

Spike rose to his feet and stalked forward slowly. His smile menacing. “We’ll see about that,” he said.

Xander scooted back along the ground, slipping in the mud, trying to get up and moving before the preternaturally quick demon could pounce. “Re…re…remember, Spike, there’s a first down penalty for the improper use of demonic speed and strength,” he panted.

“Bugger that,” said Spike, across the field and pinning Harris before he could finish his sentence.

Only Harris wasn’t pinned. He had feinted a zig and then pulled a zag and landed a few feet away, rolling up on one knee, laughing and shaking that damnable ball again. “First down,” chortled Harris, his muddy teeth flashing in irritating mockery at Spike. “It’s a head game, after all, Spike. Mind over muscle, mind over…ooof!”

He hadn’t even seen him coming that time. Only heard a kind of ‘pop’ in the air, and the demon was sitting astride his chest grinning down in game face, holding the ragged ball. Xander’s arms were pinned to either side by Spike’s thighs, and he could feel a definite sore place across his chest where there would undoubtedly be bruising in the morning. He inhaled with a great effort. “First down again,” he squeezed out, from lungs barely able to draw breath. And managed another grin.

Spike tipped back his face and laughed. He dropped the ball onto Xander’s chest and laughed some more. Having a hundred eighty pound vampire sitting astride you, laughing in glee, had never been on Xander Harris’ wish list, but he found the sight to not be as disturbing as he would have expected. Actually, Xander shifted a bit as Spike loosened the grip of his thighs and suddenly became aware of the stiff presence pressing inside Spike’s thigh against his chest. And suddenly realized that he was hard as well.

It was fucking disturbing after all. “Get off me, Spike,” he hissed suddenly, wiggling furiously. Spike, back in human visage, looked down at him, his face all taunt and smirk.

“What’s the magic word, pet?” he sneered.

“Fucking don’t call me that,” said Xander, struggling with even more ferocity. His anger and fear permeated Spike’s amusement and he shifted off him rather quickly.

Not quickly enough, though. Xander slithered out and shoved him away hard. Spike fell, unresisting and surprised, with a wet thump, onto the muddy ground.

“What the hell’s gotten inta you, Harris?” he asked.

Xander shook his head, and turned to stand, praying that Spike with his nocturnal vision, wouldn’t see the raging hard on now pressing through his damp trousers. He stood so that he mostly had his back to Spike and tromped towards the tent. “Just sick of it, Spike,” he called back angrily. “You cheat too much.”

Spike blinked after him in amazement.


It wasn’t until they were back in the tent, cleaned up and warm again, that Spike finally got it. The pheromones were rolling off Harris in waves now. He remembered the kid’s comments the other day about the age of his present body, and the desires that presented, and figured the kid was just needing really badly to get laid.

Well, hell, Spike could use a little something himself, the gods knew. His body had been through the gamut that day. The battle, the sorrow, the sex without stimulation with Angel. And finally, some kind of insane attraction to the warm man now pumping his scent into Spike’s air. He was pitched right to the edge and hardly needed the temptation of a horny teenager just a few feet away from him.

He circled the room, keeping his distance from Xander, gathering their things.


Xander felt Spike circling him, predatory and sleek. It was chilling. It was also erotic. Xander furiously tried to tromp on the images now dashing across his mind’s eye. He fought with the material of the blankets as he straightened them out. Jerked angrily at his laces as he shed his shoes after disposing of the water and doing his human thing off the edge of the cliff.

He sat on the bed, gritting his teeth and thinking of frogs. Wet, shiny frogs with bulging eyes. They had always grossed him out. His whole body felt tight and tingling and awake.

He looked up and saw Spike watching him with eyes of a blue so intense they seemed to be lit from within. “Time fer bed, I guess,” announced Spike.


They lay on the bed side by side. Each rigidly on his back, hands bunched up on their chests, eyes on the ceiling. A respectable wall of well-packed blankets between them. Spike was uncomfortably aware of every twitch of Xander’s scantily clad body. He, could feel the boy’s heat coming right through the blankets and saturating his own skin. He had somehow managed, he thought with horror, to get into bed without the kid seeing his raging hard on. And hadn’t that been a treat? Undressing in the warm room with Xander? Bumping elbows and knees and trying not to stare as the kid stripped off all those layers and stretched that well-muscled torso in all its glory.

Spike lay on his back and added one more item to his already extensive list of reasons why he would personally kick the butts of certain Powers that Were whenever he had the opportunity. He was never going to sleep this night. He knew that already. What he feared with a quite reasonable fear, was that he would never sleep again as long as this heady mixture of testosterone, hemoglobin and adrenalin breathed beside him in the dark.

“Harris,” said Spike after a very long time. “You asleep?”

“No,” said Xander in a terribly alert voice.

“Listen,” Spike thought for a moment. “I gotta go outside for a bit, you know?”

“Outside?” Xander sounded very confused.

“Uh, yeah. I’ve got something that needs doing. May take half an hour or so.”

“Okay?” said Xander.

“So, uh, I don’t wanna scare you when I come back. I’ll just yelp a bit outside before I come in, okay?”

Xander was silent, thinking. “Yeah,” he said finally. “Okay. Thanks.”

Spike rolled and jumped up. Happy to be able to move. He practically ran for the door.

Xander sighed with relief. The tent flap had barely fallen back into place when his hand closed around his cock.

There had been a brief period in his life, Xander would have admitted without shame to anyone but Spike, when he had been curious about other men. Just … wondering. There was so much of that sort of thing on TV and in the movies, and Xander had seen men look at him. He had wondered. And for a few weeks, between girlfriends, he had driven himself to sleep with bizarrely informed but naïve fantasies of allowing one of those men into his bed.

He entertained one of those fantasies now. Just the feel of his own cock hardening in his hand, a sensation Xander hadn’t had for over a decade, was enough to push him over the edge, but he filled in the scenario rapidly.

He would look back at the other man. Hold his eyes just a moment longer than would have been normal, then the leisurely walk towards the hotel room (of course this always happened out of town, some city he had never visited, would never visit again). The man would follow. Xander would leave the door unlocked, the lights off.

As he stood by his bed disrobing, the man would let himself in. Quietly lock and bolt the door. His face in shadows, he would strip and join Xander under the stiff hotel bed sheets in silence.

His hands would be cool, dry and sure, taking command. With the big man’s fantasy of being overpowered, Xander gasped and his strokes quickened as he imagined the stranger’s strength, pushing Xander onto his belly, firmly stroking his backside. A large, cool, unknown cock pressing at his entrance.

Xander’s head rolled on the pillow and he moaned as he imagined it. Pain, there would be pain and he would resist, but the stranger would murmur, amused, reassuring, and press in and then … Xander didn’t know what would happen then. He threw back the blankets to give himself room, spreading his legs and thrusting upward into the cool air. His hand flying over his cock, his other hand pushing at his anus, wondering… He poked one finger curiously in and the slight pinch was all it took. He came violently, shuddering, the cum droplets splattering his chest. Laying there breathless he only realized belatedly that his semen was now all over the sheets.. The sheets that Spike would soon come back to sleep in.


Spike had trotted down to his favorite spot quickly. How many nights had he stood here, he thought, untying his fly with quick, practiced fingers, and wanked off to fantasies of women? His stiff member sprang into the air and he grasped it gratefully in his hand. He had no illusions about who would be in his mind this night.

All he had to do was imagine Harris’ mouth again, lower lip red as those white teeth bit down on it and Spike’s head banged against the tree as he came in great arcing spurts of white into the dark. He stood for a minute, panting, his damp hand cold in the night air. Gradually, his breathing stopped, he didn’t bother to wipe off his hand, though.

He closed it again around his cock. This time would take longer. Spike had a great imagination when it came to sex. And after several centuries of solitude, he had a veritable encyclopedia of wank fantasies. But his favorites were still simple. He saw the dark head, resting on the pillow, rouse and turn slightly as Spike slid under the covers. His hand slid over the sharp hipbone, down the steely stomach muscle and his balls tightened as he imagined the big hand closing around his, but not to push him away. No, instead the big hand pushed Spike’s fingers into the mass of curls around the base of a cock hard and heavy and waiting for him. Spike groaned and fondled his balls, before sliding his fist again up his cock. God, just to be wanted, Spike’s greatest fantasy, to be so desired.

In the past the fantasy had always been of Angel, very much mirroring their first night together, over a century ago, but so erotic it still had enormous power over Spike. But this time he saw the dark hair longer, the skin he ran his fingers over, much warmer. And the voice… Spike heard again Harris’ voice, gently saying his name. “Spike,” whispered the voice, “show me, Spike,” He imagined Xander allowing him, even eagerly thrusting up against him, as Spike taught the boy… Spike cried out into the night, almost in pain as the orgasm seemed to yank all the muscles in his body in towards his pelvis, then shot great bolts of semen out through his jerking cock.


Quite some time later, Spike coughed loudly and said something like, “Harris, you decent?” outside the tent door. Kicked at the ground a bit and slowly entered.

The whole tent reeked of sex. Spike tried not to inhale and tied the tent flap back a bit, hoping the scent would leave before it invaded his senses and stiffened him again.

Harris was curled under fresh sheets and blankets, Spike noted as he lifted them to crawl in. He smiled at the whelp’s thoughtfulness. Kid didn’t realize that the heap of redolent bedding in the corner was still sending his scent all over the tent. Spike buried his face in the pillow and under covers and moaned in his own head at the musky heat coming off the boy’s curled body, as well. He could feel everything in his demon yearning towards it, and a bit of his dead body yearning in that direction also.

Concentrating hard, and with the sleepiness of three hard orgasms to help, Spike turned his mind away from the morsel laying next to him and was able to enter a kind of sleep. Somewhere in the fugue of almost-dark, his mind opened a door and Xander entered again. Naked, glowing, with a glimmering white aura that seemed to arch like a light over his silky black hair. “Spike,” he said, smiling in that crooked way of his. His hand reached, open palmed, towards Spike. “Show me, Spike.”

And in his dream Spike felt no hesitation; he strode forward and gathered the heat and solid flesh of Xander into his arms. Felt around him the humming comfort of that white light. Buried his face in the neck like a molasses treat, soft and hard, muscled and silky smooth. Spike licked and tasted and touched his fangs to the irresistible flesh.

Xander twisted in his arms. “Yes,” he said.


“Wow, Spike, this is better than I thought it would be,” said Xander.

“Yeah, thought you might like it,” said Spike, pleased. He strode proudly, as if he himself had created it, around the large spotlight they had found in the abandoned demon encampment.

With the help of several villagers, and under Xander’s experienced direction, they had managed to pull the huge spotlight up the cliff with pulleys and nylon ropes. Then a complicated contraption of platforms and rolling disks had brought it, with a great deal of noise, laughter and swearing in various languages, back to the vampires’ camp.

Spike was amazed at Xander’s ease with the strange humans. He seemed to be so physical with everyone but Spike. Arms over shoulders as he gestured, smiling, to explain what they should do. Large, muscular hands slapping men on the back, wrapping around the slim biceps, poking in fun at other men’s chests. Those liquid eyes, listening and shy then brilliant and moving with amusement. The men would do anything for him, Spike thought.

He knew he would.

After the villagers had left he and Harris alone with their prize, he watched Xander run those big, tactile hands over the burnished metal casings. Xander’s fingers experimenting with some knobs and seeming latches in one support. A small door popped open. “Wow,” said Xander. “Cool.”

“Can you make it work?”

Xander laughed. It was a fantastic sound in the damp, dark air. Light and full of color, it seemed to dance around Spike like some enchantment. “What is it about me that makes people think I can take a screwdriver and fix anything?”

Spike shrugged. He watched Xander’s fingers, still absently caressing the metal. “Yer the tool guy, ain’t ya?”

Xander shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck in apparent amazement, but his eyes studied the shielded wiring revealed behind the little door with the expertise of a man who had spent a lifetime in the guts of buildings, sussing out electrical systems. He carefully closed the little door again, his eyes tracking down the metal housing and following some mysterious footprint. He reached over, and magically, or so it seemed to Spike, pressed a hidden switch.

The spot made a muted booming sound, like a metal door slamming open, and a beam of impossibly bright light shot straight up into the air.

Spike instinctively leapt back, looking for cover from the sunlight, before he realized.

Xander was standing, one hand still on the light’s leg, gazing up into the sky in awe. “Fuck, look at that.”

Spike looked up. In the brilliant spot they could clearly see the state of the atmosphere over their heads. The sky seemed to boil with blood and smoke. “What the hell is that?” breathed Xander a little fearfully.

“Dunno,” said Spike.

“Do you think it’s poisonous?”

“Huh,” said Spike intelligently.

Xander glanced at him. Looked back up into the sky. “Hasn’t anyone tried to fix it?”

“Fix it?” Spike folded his arms across his chest and gave Xander an incredulous look.

Xander returned the look. “Hasn’t anyone tried to do anything about it?”

Spike raised his arms to either side, presenting himself as if to a stranger. “’ello, there, mate, William the Bloody here, Victorian vampire and sometime punk rocker. At no time, and in no way, ecological expert or weatherman. Not a wizard, either,” he added, tilting his head up again to stare at the ugliness of the sky.

“I’m surprised you and Angel didn’t think to bring somebody here,” said Xander.

Spike shrugged.

“Guess a world in perpetual darkness, with people dependent on you for survival, just wasn’t horrible enough to motivate some kind of action.” Xander had shoved both of his hands deep into the pockets of his vest. He looked more upset than angry. Perhaps it was a measure of the rapport Spike and he had developed over the past few days that he felt less outrage and more disappointment in his companion.

Spike bit his lip and glanced at him quickly before muttering, “It occurred to us.”

“Why didn’t you do it?”

Spike didn’t answer. He seemed to be absorbed in the study of a pebble near his boot.

Xander felt a prickle at the back of his neck. “Or did you?” The comments and asides Xander had picked up in the last few days finally hit his frontal lobes and demanded attention. “I wasn’t your first choice, was I?” he asked.

Spike’s silence was an answer in the negative.

“What happened to the others?”

Spike cleared his throat and frowned. He was getting really tired of looking into those dark eyes and seeing himself as in a blackened mirror. So he looked away. “You aren’t ready to hear this, whelp,” he announced crisply into the night. He heard Xander’s palpable disbelieving silence behind him. It crawled up his back. Despite himself, he whirled and glared into those black eyes.

“They couldn’t hack it,” he said roughly.

“They died?”

Spike was silent again.

“Was it…was it anyone I know?” asked Xander in a horrified voice. Imagining Buffy, trapped here, with these two monsters who both desired her. Trapped, desperate, lonely. “You, you fucker,” he gasped out , “you have to tell me.”

“No,” said Spike, quickly. “Not who you think. I wouldn’t have… we wouldn’t…” He frowned again.

“Who then?”

“Xander,” said Spike hurriedly, almost pleading, “you’ve gotta think how it was for us. The Powers asked for a name. We thought it would be a good thing, you know? At first. Okay, okay,” he said, flinching from the steady beam of those dark eyes, “we’re stupid demons, I know, but we did think of a wizard. Somebody smart, a lot of understanding of the darkness… just, maybe too smart…” He petered to a stop, watching Xander slowly making his way to the name.

“Giles,” whispered Xander.

“He’s a Watcher,” said Spike. “He knows. He should have known.”

Xander looked like he might cry. Spike felt a mixture of shame and anger. It wasn’t fair. They had thought they were doing the best thing. It wasn’t fair that the whelp should look at him and see…

“Bastards,” said Xander. He turned away and looked out over the cold, wet plain. “He died of cancer, you know, Spike?” He spoke quietly. “You made him go through death again?”

“He didn’t die,” said Spike before he could think. He had a horrible feeling in his belly as he watched Xander slowly turn around, staring at him, the horror in his eyes fading, excitement replacing it.

“He’s alive?”



“Xan, I’ve gotta…”

“Giles is alive and here?” Xander was thrilled, realized Spike, in despair. “Where is he? I’ve got to see him, Spike.”

“No,” said Spike, taking a step back even before Xander advanced on him in disbelief.

“What do you mean, ‘no’?” Xander’s voice and smile were now just a little menacing.

“You can’t see him, he’s…”

“I can’t see him? I might actually have a friend in this godforsaken wasteland and you want to tell me that I can’t see him?”

Spike would have pointed out, stung, that Xander did have a friend. He had Spike. But even more upsetting was the joy in the boy’s face. Something Spike had tried, but as yet been unable, to put there. And the certain knowledge of what would follow when Xander knew the truth.

“Why can’t I see Giles, Spike?” asked Xander, remnants of the smile lingering on his lips.

“He’s been ill.”


“He’s… not himself.”

“What,” said Xander, stalking forward like a slowly angering bear, “did you do to him?”

Spike pursed his lips and felt the outrage again. “Nothin’, did everything I could, he just…”

“You. Fuckers,” said Xander.

Spike spun about with a dip of the shoulders and a kick of the heel that would have set his old leather duster to snapping. He strode off. Xander immediately followed.

“Hold on, goddamnit, Spike! Stop right there!”

Spike stopped. He did not turn around.

“Where is he?”

“Hospital,” spat Spike, face forward.

“Where is it?”

Spike appeared to be counting to something. Then he slowly turned and began walking again, this time down the hill towards the village. “Suit yerself,” he said.

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