“Can’t believe you’ve never been bit, Rupert.”
“I was never foolish enough to be caught,” said Giles. In his own ears, his voice sounded extraordinarily pompous and stuffy, but Giles couldn’t help but take refuge in pomposity. He doubted he’d ever be able to look at Spike quite the same way again, having felt his fangs in his arm, his tongue against his skin. That sense of fulfilling another creature’s deep physical need.... Giles paused for a deep breath and to clear his mind. He took that moment to adjust the strap of his backpack carefully with one hand, the other still firmly gripping the nylon rope that ran down the steep stairs hewn into the rocks of the cliff face.
Below him, Spike seemed to be navigating the steep path with ease. Every now and then he would pause at a natural platform and wait for Giles to catch up to him. He stood on one such plateau now. Hands on hips, head tilted to one side, those cool eyes appraising in a slightly unnerving fashion.
“Weren’t you ever curious?”
“Really, Spike,” said Giles in a tone he hoped was disparaging and long-suffering, rather than embarrassed and self-conscious. He straightened the backpack strap again, unnecessarily. “Vampires are not drugs one experiments with during one’s school days.”
“Nah, but guess maybe magic is,” said Spike wisely. “I could taste it, you know.”
Giles was startled enough to look around and directly into Spike’s eyes. His laughing, merrily sparkling eyes.
“You’re playing with me,” said Giles gruffly, looking away. He managed the last bit of stairs and stood a few feet from Spike, carefully dusting off his hands.
“A nicely aged, rich bouquet,” said Spike in a beautifully cultured voice. “With just a touch of wickedness…”
“Oh, really,” said Giles peevishly. He was still a bit fagged from their last steep descent, but he headed for the next series of stairs quickly, eager to escape this game. “And how would you describe Xander Harris’s blood?”
There was a pointed silence. “Shut up about that, Watcher,” said Spike, finally.
Giles paused at the top of the flight of steps and looked up. Spike was glaring at the ground, an unhappy frown creasing his forehead.
“It’s not about blood with Xander,” said Spike in a low voice.
Giles hadn’t intended having this conversation on a three by six foot precipice at the edge of the world, but now the conversation had presented itself, it seemed as a good a time as any. Giles climbed back up onto the platform, slipped the backpack from his shoulder and tossed it against the wall pointedly. He walked over, and slid himself down next to it, his back to the cool stone wall.
“What is it about, then, Spike?” he asked.
Spike’s frown deepened. He wrapped his arms around himself and looked off into the sheer black space beyond the edge of the cliff. He mumbled something.
“What, Spike?” asked Giles again. Trying to sound patient and not worried, sickened, distressed. “I’ve seen the marks, I’ve… I’ve spoken to Xander about some of the effects. What are you hoping to…”
Spike mumble again. “…don’t know…” Giles heard.
“You don’t know what, Spike?”
“I don’t know, Watcher!” yelled Spike suddenly, whirling about, fists clenched. “I don’t know what is going on! I don’t know why I… did what we did… we.” He flailed at the air ineffectively and finally spun and hit at a bit of rock wall.
“Ow,” he said absently. He rubbed the top of his head with a now bloody hand. “It was all of a sudden, Rupert,” said Spike softly. “I just wanted him…”
Giles was unable to stop himself from making a noise of disgust.
The look of desperation on Spike’s face completely disappeared. His face went stiff, eyes slits. He closed his mouth with a little snap and turned away. “Best get on, then,” he pronounced coolly, heading for the stairs.
“Wait, Spike,” said Giles. And when Spike appeared not to acknowledge this request, “I’m sorry.” Spike hesitated and turned, his expression still guarded. “I’m just worried about Xander,” said Giles slowly. “Surely you can understand that.”
“Worried about him, too,” said Spike, the truth of this in his voice.
“Have you…” Giles looked out into the space at the edge of the small shelf they occupied. Thought about the possibility of being hurled over it. Weighed that possibility carefully before speaking. “I wonder if either of you have thought of trying to stop.”
“Have stopped,” said Spike testily from between clenched teeth. “’S the problem.”
“Oh,” said Giles. A dozen veiled looks, mysterious comments. The tension around the two men over the past few days as he had visited the healing vampire and attempted to speak to a sullen Xander. “Oh,” he said again.
Spike ran both hands through his hair; it stood up wildly around his face. He made a frustrated sound. “The demon knows, I told him. It’s … it’s not a lack of feelin’, it’s somethin’ ta do with the claim…”
“Let me get this straight,” said Giles. “Your demon, which you choose to identify as an entity separate and individual from yourself…”
“Yeah, yeah, so lock me up, Watcher…”
Giles sighed. “Your demon, as I said, will not allow you to drink from Xander?”
Spike muttered something richly surrounded with expletives.
“I beg your pardon,” said Giles patiently.
“I said, the bloody demon will allow me to drink. Just… Christ on his bleedin’ cross, Watcher. What I’m tellin’ you stays between us, do you understand that?”
Giles considered carefully. “Yes,” he said finally. “I understand. I won’t repeat what you are telling me, Spike.”
“Wants to go further,” said Spike at a mumble so smothered Giles had to strain to hear it.
“Further?” he asked, dread rising in him.
“Wants to keep him safe, you understand?” said Spike, his voice a whine. “Wants to keep him…”
“You can’t turn him, Spike,” said Giles in a voice like ice.
“You think I don’t know that?”
“You’ll have to stop.”
Spike made a noise of frustration and pain. “Don’t know how. Don’t you see, Rupert? It’s all… it’s all tied up with being with him and tasting…”
“I understand,” said Giles hurriedly, hopefully forestalling any clear descriptions of Xander and Spike having sex.
“Haven’t you ever heard of anything? In all yer books? Anythin’ about vampires and humans?”
“Spike it is very rare for a human to survive their first meeting with a vampire. Surely you know that? And on the rare occasion when vampires and humans interacted on more than a violent level, romantic relationships were highly unlikely…”
“Happen to know yer wrong there, Watcher,” Spike pointed a thumb at Giles. “On a coupla occasions.”
“One would hardly call Buffy’s unfortunate lack of judgment romance, Spike.”
“Oi, watch what yer sayin’ there!”
Giles gave him a look laden with meaning. Spike held his eye for a minute, then dipped his head and looked away. The hot wind curled up over the lip of the plateau and lifted stray wisps of hair from Spike’s neck in light dancing patterns, as he stood there obviously wrestling some internal dilemma. “Xander’s different,” Spike said finally, still looking off into space.
Giles mind’s eye immediately flashed before him a recent memory of Xander and Spike as they had stood in the kitchen preparing for this journey. Spike’s rambling on in his bragging way about his knowledge of some demonic such and so. Xander sarcastically cutting him down a peg. Spike laughing and turning his back so he didn’t see Xander’s unguarded expression. Spike hadn’t seen the look. But Giles had.
“Yes,” said Giles. “I believe you. But Spike,” he pressed on, “I have never heard of a human indulging in this repeated biting who wasn’t eventually killed or turned.”
“That Riley bloke of Buffy’s did it.”
Giles chose not to tell Spike of Riley’s fate at the moment. “He quit, Spike.”
“Oh.” Spike ran his hands through his hair again. “Well, that’s clear then.”
“Just gonna hafta stop it, that’s all. Just gonna have to control it. Don’t want any harm to come ta him.” He sounded very unsure.
“I am pleased to know you feel that way.”
“Course I do,” said Spike snappishly. “Not a bloody monster. Despite what you think. Just…” Spike frowned and glanced quickly at Giles, then away. “Just can you explain it to him? He thinks I don’t want him, you see? He’s all strung out about it…”
“That’s simply withdrawal, Spike. He’ll adjust.”
“No, Watcher, yer wrong there. It’s not about the rush, altogether. It makes us… it makes us together, you know. Like we’re part of each other somehow.”
At one time the idea of a vampire and a human finding romance in the sharing of a bit of blood would have moved Giles to a kind of disgusted pity. Now he found the admission poignant.
“Yes,” he said honestly. “I understand.” He pushed himself slowly up from his crouching position. “I’ll speak to him, Spike.”
Perhaps letting a vampire feed from him had weakened Giles. Or perhaps there was more in this new world than could be found in a Watcher’s philosophy. But Giles watched the unhappy creature working his way down the cliff below him and felt truly sorry for him.
“So they sent suicide bombers?” Xander set the plate of food in front of Giles and sat down at his own place, just managing not to meet Giles’ eyes. He had been managing this all week and was becoming quite good at it. Quick looks at eyebrows, or cheeks, chins, never sharing what lay in the depths of his mind with his old friend.
“Yes, it appears that the epicenter was actually a couple of demons. It really ties in with the ritualistic materials we had found at the camp.”
“Spike said that guy they’ve captured is crazy with some religion.”
“A demonic Jihad,” said Giles. “Really quite terrifying if one thinks about it.”
Xander was looking again at the door.
“He should be back soon,” said Giles. “He just went out to…”
“Get a quick bite to eat,” said Xander tightly. “Yeah. Funny how hungry he’s been lately.”
Giles tried to think of something to say. Found nothing. He looked around the tiny room, wishing for a change of subject to pop out at him. They were sitting in one of the small temporary houses erected near the old factory. Spike and Xander had moved a few belongings down from the tents and were staying here through the current situation. There was no ornamentation and very little in the way of furniture. Table, chairs, a cupboard on legs leaning against the wall.
Xander loomed larger than usual in the confined space. Unable to sit still, his shoulders and elbows seemed constantly about to bump into a wall, knock over an empty chair or bowl. He dragged his hands across the surface of the table, his eyes slid up to meet Giles chin again, slid back to the door. He shoved a hand through his hair.
The door rattled and opened with a whoosh and a loud thunk as it hit the wall. Spike strode in, with all the enthusiasm and storm-blowing-through-town energy that was typically Spike. Xander stood, picked up his plate and pointedly turned his back.
Spike observed this. “Hey, Watcher,” he said. Xander shoved the remains of his essentially untouched meal into a receptacle for garbage. He carefully put the plate into the cleaning unit that was installed in the counter for that purpose.
Xander moved stiffly. He looked at Spike, or rather, looked at his chin. Giles thought how well Xander was mastering the art of hiding his feelings. “Feel better?” Xander asked Spike, his voice weirdly light.
“Sure,” said Spike.
“Full?” said Xander very snidely.
Spike was silent. Xander glanced up quickly, a sharp dark slice of a look. Spike nodded barely.
“Anybody I know?” said Xander, his face growing dark. Giles discovered a sudden urgent need to be elsewhere. He rose quickly.
“Erm well, thank you, Xander. I think now I’ll just…”
“No, stay, Giles,” said Xander quickly Giles hesitated. “We want him to stay, don’t we, Spike?”
Giles was surprised at the pity he felt for the vampire standing helplessly in the still open doorway. “Sure, Xan?” said Spike weakly.
“Sit down,” commanded Xander. “Both of you. I’ve got something to say.”
Spike and Giles exchanged a look. They both quietly sat down at the table. Xander turned, arms folded, and regarded them both. Giles was surprised at how tired Xander looked.
“You both have decided things about me without talking to me about it,” Xander said.
Spike swallowed. “Xander, ol’ Rupes was just tryin’ ta help out. It weren’t his idea…”
“Shut up, Spike,” said Xander. “You sent Giles to tell me to back off. You couldn’t tell me yourself.”
“Don’t want you to back off, Xander,” Spike’s voice sounded almost childish.
“Shut UP, Spike,” said Xander. Giles saw Spike’s jaw clench, though his gaze dropped. Xander continued glaring at the top of Spike’s head, but he addressed Giles. “Do you know what’s been happening since our little chat, Giles?”
Xander didn’t wait for an answer. “We have sex,” he said angrily. “Lot’s of it,” he added, much to Giles’ dismay. “Its like we can’t stop. And then,” he jabbed a finger at Spike, “he runs off to drink from somebody else. Sometimes the cum isn’t even cooled …”
“Xander!” Spike looked shocked, Giles grimaced. “Xander, Giles doesn’t wanna hear…”
“I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!” screamed Xander and Spike was on his feet and halfway across the table separating them before Giles had time to react or realize what was going on. He jumped up from his seat, just as the table reacted to the force of Spike’s feet and fell loudly onto its side. Glasses and plates crashed around them. Barely masking the feral roar emanating from Spike.
“You will not speak to me like that!” he roared, backhanding Xander hard enough to make the boy’s entire torso spin around.
He rippled into gameface even as Xander fell back against the kitchen counter. Utensils and pots and pans rattled and fell to the floor. Giles found his legs and was just moving forward to protect Xander from Spike, when Xander turned around with a huge butcher’s knife in his hand and leapt at Spike.
After that everything seemed to move in slow motion. Later, when, after several drinks, Giles tried to sort the events in his mind, he would be surprised that Spike hadn’t protected himself with more alacrity. Of course, he had grabbed the furious human with both hands and lifted him over his head as if to hurl him against something hard. But he hadn’t moved quickly, for a demon, and he hadn’t really thrown Xander.
Like something from a bad horror movie, the butcher’s knife descended.
Spike shoved Xander away from him, the knife still vibrating from the force of its thrust into his shoulder. He reached up and yanked it quickly from his body, threw it clattering across the floor. Blood leapt from the open wound. A high arching fountain of crimson. Xander’s eyes followed it, and he smiled. A hungry, knowing smile. Giles felt the hair lifting on the back of his neck.
“Come here,” said Xander silkily, as if sure of Spike’s obedience.
Spike hissed. He shook his head and moved his feet, but instead of backing away, he walked unsteadily sideways. His feet seemed to fumble and slip in the blood spraying across the floor. Xander, eyes predatory, mouth still fixed in that grin, danced sideways, countering Spike’s moves, so that they circled each other. Spike looked more confused and frightened than Giles had ever seen a demon look. And then Xander jumped him.
Spike made a helpless noise that was completely at odds with his gameface. His clawed hands seemed to simultaneously push away and grasp closer the larger torso as Xander wrapped himself around him, his mouth wide open and clamping down over the open wound. Giles saw the flash of Xander’s teeth as they gripped Spike’s skin; blood smeared his lips and cheeks as they hollowed.
Spike moaned and seemed to almost swoon. But Xander held him up with both arms and sucked and gnawed and devoured Spike’s shoulder as if he were feeding.
Giles turned away, covering his mouth as he gagged. He saw the open door and staggered towards it, hearing the two creatures falling amidst the debris, growling and moaning.
“Xander,” he heard Spike’s voice whining behind him. And something in the tone. Some helplessness turned Giles around at the last moment.
They were writhing on the floor; Xander tearing at Spike’s clothes, manhandling the nonresistant vampire, and Giles was unhappily treated to the vision of the young man he had come to think of as a son, apparently performing the rape of a demon.
There was blood everywhere. They rolled in it, squirmed in it. A multitude of images threw themselves into Giles eyes as he stood there, frozen. Xander’s dark, muscular hand gripping the underside of Spike’s pale thigh, forcing it into the air. Xander’s dark head bent to Spike’s wounded shoulder, still moving in little circles. A blood splattered demonic visage, yellow eyes unblinking as if dazed. Giles could hear grunts of effort, the rhythmic crunch of broken pottery as bodies jerked across the bloody floor, punctuated by Spike’s cries and helpless whines as he was ravaged.
If Spike could have purred, he would have. They were warm and sated and curled around each other in the cozy bedroom. Xander’s blood whirled in happy eddies and pools in all the nooks and crannies of his body. Xander’s softening cock was still half embedded in his hole and Xander’s hand still possessively clasped his own relaxing penis. They were sticky everywhere.
“Pet?” Spike whispered. “You awake?”
“Geezus,” mumbled Xander into Spike’s uninjured shoulder. He raised his head groggily and stared at Spike. “What the Hell, Spike?”
Spike laughed. “You were amazin’ Xan,” he said happily.
Xander’s mouth made a small ‘o’. He stared at the wound in Spike, looked down their spunk and blood covered torsos. Looked around the room. Panic started to show like twin small beacons in his eyes.
“Think we scared the Watcher off.”
“You did that, Xan. But if you want another go…” Spike leered suggestively.
Xander shoved himself up to a sitting posture. “I stabbed you!”
Spike shrugged. “Guess you wanted the blood, luv…”
Xander raised a hand to his blood encrusted mouth. “Fucking stabbed you, Spike! And Giles! Oh Christ!”
Spike ran an appreciative eye over the body sitting next to his. Lean and bloody, with a vivid red and pink claim mark and some new and assorted bruises and puncture wounds scattered over his torso and arms. The mouth red and swollen, black eyes alive with fear?
“I went nuts, Spike!”
“Weren’t so bad, Xan” Spike soothed him. “Nothin’ to a vampire, really. Just a little rough with yer tumble, you know?”
“Spike! I stabbed you!”
“Oh. That,” Spike pooh poohed the wound, a feeling of unease washing through him. “Hardly felt it Xan. You were upset with me, only fitting really. I belong to you…”
“Crazy.” Xander said.
“Course,” said Spike, still smiling, though his heart was feeling the dread.
Xander pushed himself further away. His hand traveled slowly to the mark on his neck. “It’s this,” he said.
The face Xander turned to him was not the face of the man who had told Spike, within the past hour, that he loved him. Kissing him everywhere, pledging his devotion. It was not the face of the man who had begged him, forced him, to drink from him. The face Xander showed to Spike right now was hard and chill and deadly grim.
“You’ve changed me,” he said.
Spike drew the stake from its holder on the young woman’s belt and carefully inserted it into the slot. “Like that,” he said. He handed it to her. “Now you try it.”
He looked up from his student and across the room. On the other side, Xander was helping Berynn and Tybor load weapons onto a small wagon. Xander looked thinner these days, thought Spike. Wan. Likely the vegetarian diet, he reflected, not knowing that he, himself, seemed thinner and less robust than usual.
A great surge of yearning, so present Spike felt sure the humans in the room would surely see it, swelled out from him and reached toward the quiet dark boy. He took a deep breath, startling his student. She fumbled with the bolt and almost accidentally released it into Spike.
He chuckled. “Now wouldn’t that solve all our problems,” he said, gently wresting the weapon once more from her hands. “No, luv, pay attention this time…”
Xander looked at Spike again, for about the thousandth time, from beneath his bangs. They hadn’t been near each other in over a week. Spike had moved out of the small hut and back into his tent after a couple of days of torment. Both had agreed that the closeness was just too difficult. But Xander had found that not being close was harder still. He thought about Spike constantly, worried about him incessantly. Imagining him up on the hill alone. Next to Angel’s empty tent, surrounded by all the stupid stuff he and Xander had, like squirrels, collected around them. He had fought the urge, night after night, to just go up there and see if the lone vampire was all right.
It was the bite, he told himself. He was still addicted. It would go away.
But he missed the sex, too. And, oddly, the constant bickering. He missed getting up in the morning to the bitching and the harping, all masking the concern and the affection. He missed being nagged at to eat. He missed flipping coins with the cheating vampire to determine who would do the pile of stinky laundry every week. He missed losing at cards. And winning at football/soccer. He missed Spike.
Berynn tried to lift a launcher that was too heavy for him and Xander dipped to grab it, bumping his elbow against the wagon’s fiberglass side in the process. He yelped, and saw, as he rubbed his elbow, a brief flash of concerned blue before Spike’s head turned once more to the small girl he was helping.
He missed Spike.
Berynn came up and patted him tentatively. Xander sighed and managed a small pained smile. He had friends, at least. Spike… he glanced at him again. Spike’s seclusion had closed around him once more. All the pals they had accumulated had really been Xander’s. Spike was still the ‘Master’. The immortal on the hill who fought the gods and demons on their behalf. He wasn’t one anybody here would really call ‘friend’.
Spike was looking thinner and paler than usual, if that was possible. Xander wondered, with a mixture of jealous anger and genuine worry, if the vampire was feeding at all.
He wondered how Spike got through the long dark days. Xander had found that masturbating and crying could take up at least a couple of hours. And then there was the dwelling and regretting. And of course, the wishing.
Sometimes he gave in to despair and stumbled about in the tiny dark kitchen until he found some of the vicious ‘grog’ and put himself to sleep that way.
And meanwhile they had this apocalypse. Xander looked over towards Giles and almost smiled. Boy, Giles was really having the time of his life. Or second life. Life after life.
“He’s lookin’ a bit pale. Think he don’t know ta feed himself, foolish boy.” Spike set down the load of clean linens one of the patrollers had insisted he carry back with him and looked across the empty dark tent. He nodded at the nothingness across the way. “Yeah, well, you try tellin’ the brat what ta do.” He sighed, shuffled over to the stove.
“Can’t boss him, he’s not mine is he? Not… not anymore. Shut yer trap!” he said angrily, making a threatening gesture in the general direction of his vivid imagination.
He sat down heavily and seemed to be gazing at the empty fire grate. But sometime later he still sat there and no fire had been made. What was the point anyway? He was cold, of course. What of it? He was a cold creature. Should be used to it by now. And it wasn’t as if anyone would complain. It wasn’t as if anyone would care if he sat here all night doing nothing, thinking nothing.
“I wonder what he’s doing?” said Xander wistfully. He toyed with the small knife Giles had asked him to sharpen and looked up at Berynn. “He looked…” Xander smiled painfully, “of course he looked good, but he looked kind of thin, you know?” Berynn blinked at him, his eyes sympathetic and non-judgmental. He nodded and then shrugged.
Xander’s crooked self-deprecating smile flashed in the low firelight. “I talk about him a lot, huh?” Berynn nodded again, returning the smile.
“Sorry,” said Xander. He carefully wrapped the knife in a cloth then drew out the tough swine hide case Berynn had fashioned for it. “This looks really good,” he said, veering steadfastly away from his personal problems. “Giles is going to love it, Berynn. Though you know…” he fingered the symbols painstakingly stitched into the leather. “He’s never gonna stop asking you about these.” He observed Berynn’s normally open gaze, drop a bit, a secretive smile on his lips. Berynn blushed. “Huh,” said Xander. “Oh, I get it.” Although he did not.
Xander lay the gift down. “So, swine skin and pigs feet. How many have we trapped so far?”
Berynn thought for a moment, held up eight fingers.
“Wow,” said Xander. “Mighty hunters!”
Berynn laughed. He shook his head and they both rolled their eyes remembering the disastrous hunting parties.
“We need practice, I guess,” said Xander dryly. Berynn nodded enthusiastically.
There was a rap at the door. Giles came in without waiting for an answer. “Xander, I came to tell you… oh.” He looked at Berynn, his eyes widened. He blinked. Xander thought, for a minute Giles looked all of twelve years old.
“Hello,” said Giles stiltedly.
“*Good evening*” said Berynn, his voice very formal and melodic, the end of his nose bright pink. Both men stared as if stunned, then quickly looked away from each other.
Xander felt that surprise followed by the big ‘Ah Ha’ that happens when a million little clues and subtle hints suddenly fly up in your face. He wondered if Berynn knew that Giles only liked women. Then he wondered if Giles did only like women. “What’s up, Giles?”
“We…erm, we seem to have found an advantageous moment.” Giles eyes flicked briefly over Berynn before he brought them back to Xander. “We are planning an attack for the morning.”
“This morning?” Xander asked, the dread any soldier feels on receiving orders, and the excitement, coloring his voice.
“I’m spreading the word, I hoped you… erm you two would help me?”
Berynn and Xander rose. “Okay,” said Xander. “I’ll go tell Spike.”
Giles pressed his lips together for a minute before he spoke. “If you think that’s wise.”
“Don’t Giles,” said Xander. “Just. Don’t.” Giles bowed his head as if formally stepping back. Then he looked up, cautiously, at Berynn.
“Perhaps you would care to?” It was a polite request, as if he were asking the young man out for a meal. Xander almost expected him to extend an arm. He quelled his smile.
Berynn nodded eagerly and maneuvered around the table until he was standing in front of Giles. He saluted in a vague facsimile of a gesture he had learned from Xander. Giles started and laughed. He proceeded for the door, but turned before he exited. “Be careful, Xander.”
After the end of the world, after his madness and grief, Angel had gone through the phase that humans would have recognized as a kind of remembrance and nostalgia. During that time, he had talked to Spike at length about his son. The mystery and tragedy surrounding the young man’s life. At one point he mentioned the time Connor had locked Angel in a steel casket and thrown him to the bottom of the sea.
Spike appreciated the creativity of the boy. Just the thought of an eternity alone in total darkness made the hairs stand up all along his spine right into his hairline. “Evil,” he commented to Angel. “But brilliant. Guess we know where he got that from.”
“Connor thought he was doing the right thing,” said Angel, his eyes glittering dangerously.
“How long were you down there?” asked Spike, still mulling over the wonderful horror of it.
“Bleedin’ eternity! How’d you stay sane?” he cast an amused glance at his sire. “Assumin’ that is, you ever were…”
“I controlled my thoughts. I meditated.”
Spike laughed outright. “Bloody Hell, you did! This is me, Angel. How long until you stopped wankin’ and dreamin’ of revenge?”
Angel managed to maintain a show of indignation for a full minute before he broke. “Two weeks, maybe three…”
“Should share some secrets with you,” said Spike, with an evil grin. “I coulda lasted a full month, maybe.”
“Its amazing,” said Angel, slowly. “How little one really has to think about. Five hundred years of torture mayhem and war and I ran out of things to think about.”
“Then what did you do?”
“Made things up. Imagined it all right again. What I’d do differently.”
Spike pondered that. “Think that’d make anyone half mad.”
“It did,” said Angel.
Spike sat alone in the dark in front of an empty fireplace and picked at his nail and frowned and tried to remember without imagining it all right again.
It had only been a week since he had last climbed up this hill, but Xander felt somehow that the journey was twice as long as he remembered. Maybe it was that his legs had unlearned the discipline of it, climbing over the steep embankments and jogging up the series of flat carved steps. Or maybe it was his eagerness to be there, to see once again.
“Spike,” he breathed softly. Or mouthed really, as he came over the crest of the hill and saw the small tent silhouetted there against the gray clouds and turbulent sunset. The tent itself was dark, and Xander felt a moment of crushing exhausting discouragement at the thought that perhaps Spike was not even there. Maybe off scouting, or … feeding.
With a last burst of energy, he ran the few feet to the tents.
Spike was having a philosophical discourse with himself about time again. The length of it, measure of it. He could not imagine, for instance, how long he had been sitting here, staring at his hands and remembering every moment he had spent with Xander since the boy's arrival. Of them all, he tried to do the math and figured that eighty-five percent had been spent arguing, ten percent joking, a good three percent fucking. He was remembering the point oh-two percent now of Xander looking into his eyes, warm strong hands holding his face so Spike could not look away while Xander told him, with his earnest intensity, just how much he needed him. Point oh-two percent of a tiny mote of time in Spike’s long existence and he had been sitting here for hours playing the memory on repeat, feeling it throughout his body as a swell and as a current, warming himself with it.
But now the tent was growing cold. The memory already seemed thin and worn with use and Spike thought perhaps he had an entire unlife still to get through.
That one word, said by that particular voice had the effect of a flare going off overhead. He felt the warmth of its fire on his face. His existence lit up. Spike raised his head and smiled at the shaggy haired boy who stood in the entrance to his tent. “Hey yerself, whelp. Didn’t hear you come up.”
Xander hovered in the entrance. He seemed to be having some trouble there. His hands shook and his knee couldn’t lock into a stable position. Spike could hear the pounding of his blood.
“Shouldn’t be so sloppy, Spike,” Xander said, his voice shaky and weak. He cleared his throat. “I could have been a demon…”
“Like ta see the demon stupid enough to come at me here,” said Spike, with that thoughtless braggadocio. Why had Xander come here? Was he…what did he want?
“Say that a little louder, Spike, I don’t think the gods that punish pride heard you clearly.”
“Feckin’ gods seem ta punish everything,” said Spike roundly. “And I ain’t proud.”
Xander managed a credibly derisive snort. “Right.” He took a deep shaky breath.
Spike didn’t know if he should stand. Should he offer the boy a seat, a drink? It seemed overly formal, since this had been Xander’s home until just a few weeks ago. Xander was still trying to breathe, shaking where he stood and Spike would have normally jumped to help him but he was unsure of that, too. Afraid of scaring Xander off.
“Yeah, well.” Xander’s heart was hammering so hard in his ears, he felt his head must be shaking with it. “Giles had a message.”
“Oh.” Spike turned back towards his dark corner. He wondered if his face showed his disappointment. Of course, the Watcher would send the whelp with his messages. No one else would dare the vampire’s den alone.
“There’s… there’s an attack planned for tomorrow. We…” Xander felt his voice disappear. He took a deep breath. Gripped the edge of the tent with one tight fist.
“Ah,” said Spike. And because that had a feeling of finality about it, “Come up fer some last minute instruction?”
“Something like that,” Xander managed to both draw breath and take a few wobbly steps inside. “Do you have everything? Are you, uh, ready?”
“Always ready for a fight,” said Spike, automatically rising as Xander stumbled towards him.
Both men gaped at each other speechlessly as the dizzying proximity occupied their whole consciousness.
“Spike, I…I…” Now without the tent walls to cling to, Xander’s hands fumbled at his pockets.
Spike watched those large warm hands with their thick fingers. “Xander…” he began, not knowing what he wanted to say, except that name.
Xander opened his mouth to speak, but the only sound that came out was like a sob, like his voice was broken, and Spike was across the few inches left between them and in his arms.
They stood there, shuddering, wrapped up in each other.
“Just tonight, please,” Xander whispered against his lover’s shoulders, his neck, into his curling soft hair.
Spike’s mouth found its way to Xander’s as if it were a newborns finding the teat. Instinctive. Needy. He just clamped on.
Somehow they stumbled across the tent and onto the bed.
Xander hadn’t thought this far but if he had he might have imagined that this would be a little like the first time. Needing and thrilling and more than a little with the ‘oh god’, arms wrapped around him in a rib crushing hug, demanding mouth traveling hungrily over his face, voice growling in his ear. Then back to the kissing that reached right into his center and pulled the plug. His mouth unlatched from Spike’s and he realized this time seemed less thrilling and more of a relief. As if he had been a tight knot for weeks and was finally coming loose.
Spike’s fingers untangled him, working busily through the stiff wound threads of him. Xander shuddered and moaned and managed to whisper against a cool earlobe.
“We don’t have to do this. I…I didn’t mean to…”
Spike hushed him with a kiss.
They rolled each other on the bed. Somewhere shirts were shed. Xander felt a weight on his foot and realized his shoe and slacks were wrapped around his ankle.
“Wait…” he drew back from the Siamese twin that was their shared bodies and smiled into the lust ridden face inches from his own. Spike looked up at him, his eyelids half-closed, pupil huge, lips red.
“What? Don’t you…don’t you want it,” Spike panted confusedly.
“Oh yeah, buddy, I want it, but…” Xander flopped his weighted foot. “Little uncomfortable here.”
Spike smiled. One of those big happy unguarded smiles that Xander got to see maybe once or twice in a lifetime. “Okay…” He sat back and dragged the shoe and slacks off of Xander’s leg, flung them carelessly behind him.
“Messy,” said Xander happily.
“Yeah, I’m a pig,” Spike flopped back down on him, wiggled a bit to get himself worked down into the warm niches of Xander’s body properly. “You okay, now?”
“I love you, Spike,” said Xander spontaneously.
Spike flinched back, as if slapped. His eyes squinted and Xander saw them shining with moisture before he had turned his face half away.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” said Xander quickly. “I don’t know why I said that…” He hadn’t meant to spit it out like that. It seemed inappropriate really, given the circumstances.
Spike was breathing, long shaky inhalations, and quick puffs of air out. The hands that had been molding themselves to Xander’s shoulders, clenched and tightened there.
Xander felt suddenly it all falling away. A chasm of coldness gaping between them. He wrapped his arms up and around Spike and pulled him closer. “Don’t… please,” and now Xander felt tears in his own eyes. “Please,” he begged. “Don’t make me leave.”
Spike shook his head. He still breathed.
“Spike, please. I’m sorry… I just… God,” Xander squeezed tighter. “I missed you so much I’ve missed you I can’t …”
Spike’s mouth closed down over his. A wet teary kiss, full of saline and snot and need.
Now suddenly desperate, Xander clutched Spike to him, grinding his hips upwards, feeling the cold hard rod sliding firm and insistent into the soft place just beside his hip, he twisted and pushed back, needing more friction, thrusting against the hard body as if he could drive through Spike, his mouth wide open taking all of the vampire's tongue and the sharp fangs as they wildly now mashed against his lips, slipping and catching, pulling apart briefly so that Xander could breathe.
Moans escaped before mouths came back together and the silence was broken only by the tussle of heels and toes gaining purchase against the bed linens, and hips shoving and rocking and.
“Eh, ah,” Xander arched his head back, and his whole body was foam spraying out from a center. Above him, Spike ground and made helpless high-pitched noises. He felt something cool splat his chin. The friction between them became sticky. His fingers dug into a hard round ass with muscles that jerked and shuddered under them.
Spike dove down and glued their mouths together again. It wasn’t until the tempo of their movements had subsided that he brought his mouth away, still so close that the air was wet and warm between them. He looked up from beneath damp eyelashes and the blue swam there. “Love you too, Xan, missed you too,” Spike’s voice squeaked and he grimaced with embarrassment.
“We can’t do this,” said Xander, suddenly knowing it to be true, he gazed up at the ceiling, feeling the tears trickling into his ears, and hugged Spike hard against him. “We can’t be apart, Spike. It’s just not… not right, you know?”
Spike nodded, mute.
They lay, chest-to-chest, groin-to-groin, forehead-to-forehead. Eyes closed, mouths open, tongues attempting to wet dry lips. Manly pride trying to get a grip.
“Man,” whispered Xander finally, “what a coupla girls.”
Spike’s shoulders shook silently as he laughed. “Speak fer yerself, whelp.”
Xander’s eyes snapped open. He glared. Spike smirked back.
“So… night before the battle sex, sounds delicious,” said Spike, neatly changing the subject.
Xander sighed regretfully and wriggled slightly to draw attention to the sticky goo between them. “’Fraid we already did that, pal.”
“Nah,” said Spike, responding to the wriggle of Xander’s hips with a little rocking and grinding motion of his own. “That were just ‘pleased ta meetchya’ sex. Before the battle sex takes time.” His tongue poked between his teeth as he smiled. “Takes some thought.”
“Thought, huh?” said Xander. Spike nodded. “Well, I guess its up to me, then,” said Xander, rearing up and kissing Spike quickly before he could retort. He lay back, smiling. “You wanna know a secret?” And at Spike’s look. “Never told you this one blondie, prepare to be shocked.”
Spike raised one eyebrow just the right distance to indicate skepticism. Xander pulled the muscled shoulders closer and whispered to the air above Spike’s ear. “That night, the night you attacked the high school? Okay okay, I bet you don’t even remember that… but Angel. Angel pretended he was going to eat me and he offered to share…”
A rumbling growl vibrated against his chest.
“I always wondered…” Xander shifted under Spike for obvious reasons. “I always wondered what might have happened.”
“Mmrrrr, wondered, pet?”
Spike barely felt the light punch in his ribs.
“More like fantasized.”
Spike dipped down to mouth the skin of Xander’s chest and made an appreciative noise. “Fantasized about me eatin’ you, Xan? Hafta say, we’ve already kinda done that,” and he laved a long wet stroke across one erect nipple to demonstrate.
Xander arched slightly and shivered. “Y..yeah, but what if…” he ran his hand over Spike’s head, down his neck, rubbed a thumb across the small bump at the top of his spine. “What if you’d turned me?”
He noted Spike’s reaction, the slight stiffening, the stillness, but thought he’d hit the kink right, and so went on. “I’d be your childe, right? You’d be my…” Xander paused for effect, “Master…”
“No!” Spike spat the word as he shoved himself violently away from Xander’s body. Xander’s hands moved over the empty air where his lover had been for a second.
“Spike?” he said, bewildered. He reached out, felt the angry hard back that was turned towards him. “Spike, what’s wrong?”
Spike growled into the mattress.
“Spike?” Xander rolled and tentatively patted at the hard cold angry man that had suddenly materialized beside him. “Um, bad idea? I’m sorry? Come back?”
Spike stayed stiffly turned away, his voice muffled. “Not yer fault, Xan. Just not a good fantasy.”
“Oh.” Xander’s mind twirled around in his limited library of vampire Siring lore and tried to think of an explanation for his usually randy companion’s complete chill factor. “Bad memories?” he suggested. “Did you sire someone once who…”
“Never did,” said Spike.
“You never turned anyone?”
“Didn’t say that.” Spike rolled back over and faced Xander, his arms folded defensively across his chest, fingers tucked into his armpits. Xander felt the line drawn on the mattress between them. “Made plenty a’ minions, just never made a Childe.”
“Is there a difference?”
Spike rolled his eyes and Xander felt a certain relief as they fell into a familiar role of disgusted Spike explains things to the stupid human. “Course there’s a difference, Harris.”
“Okay,” said Xander dubiously. “So, why didn’t you?”
“Make a Childe?”
“I don’t know,” snapped Spike. “Mebbee I just didn’t want some mewling brat followin’ me around crampin’ my style and generally fucking up…”
“Like you did with Angel?”
“Nothin’ like me ‘n Angel,” said Spike vehemently.
“Right,” said Xander, genuinely confused. “But you said he was your Sire.”
“Dru was me Sire,” corrected Spike, pouting to himself. “Technically.”
“You were sired by a girl?”
“Shut up, whelp. You are askin’ for a smackin’, you know that? Course Dru sired me. Ya think I’m gonna let some lumberin’ Irish drunk near me in a dark alleyway? I was wet behind the ears, but not completely daft.” Spike twitched around in obvious discomfort.
“But you said…” Xander persisted, trying to untangle the web.
“Dru weren’t really capable, were she? Angelus, er Angel, took over the duties. He sired me, really. She’s just the one what turned me.”
“Duties?” said Xander, perking up a bit. And Spike so did not like the look in the boy’s eyes. “What duties?”
Spike eyed Xander uneasily. He had fallen into enough pits of Hell to recognize a dangerous chasm when he came upon one.
“Just general education,” he said slowly.
Xander wriggled his shoulders and hips until he had worked himself right up to Spike’s invisible line. His hand sliding down to fondle a growing erection. Blood heat pouring from him. An unholy light floating in the dark pools of those eyes. “Education in what?” asked Xander, huskily.
Spike had a soul but he wasn’t a saint. He grabbed two handfuls of hot dark skin, pushed the pliant body over onto the mattress with a thud, shook himself into full game face and leant into the delighted face of his lover.
“Educatin’ young Childer on how ta behave with their elders, brat.”
Xander wiggled delightedly. “How to behave?”
“To speak when spoken to. Do as yer told.” Spike’s hands slid down Xander’s arms, loosely clasped his wrists and then so fast the boy didn’t register the act until it was completed, had him flipped over on the bed with his hands captured at the small of his back.
“To not come until they're allowed,” hissed Spike at Xander’s ear, holding Xander firmly with one hand.
Xander groaned and ground himself against the mattress.
“None of that, Childe,” said Spike, smacking the hard round globes of Xander’s ass smartly. “Behave,” he said. “Or you’ll be punished.”
“Oh. God.” Said Xander fervently.
Spike smacked his ass again hard enough to leave a red mark. “No swearin’ brat.”
“Christ,” breathed Xander. And received another smack. He giggled, a tad hysterically. “S…Sire?”
Vampires aren’t usually prone to chills, but goosebumps swept up Spike’s spine and the skin of his scrotum tightened and thrilled. “You may speak, Childe,” he said, forcing his voice to steadiness.
“What do I get if I’m good?” whispered Xander.
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