Disclaimers: Still not mine, and I apologize...
Spoilers: Lots of stuff up until "Enemies," goes AU after that.
Ratings Note: NC-17 for language, m/m smut, and events/imagery some may find disturbing.
Author's Note: Rae got greedy, and then this happened. Direct sequel to Post-Grad, starts about 24 hours after the end of that story, will probably make no sense without reading the first.
Acknowledgments: Many, *many* thanks to Rae for allowing me to steal her gorgeous idea for a rather special conversation, and to her, Spike, and Dawn Sharon for marvelously patient audiencing and way helpful feedback. Nancy is to be adored for generous beta, and, of course, so is Dawn Pares for asking the questions that made this story be.



Post-Grad Book 2

On Holiday


by
Te



Part One

Xander woke up to a sound somewhere between a growl and the scream of an otherwise happy killer singing old Sex Pistols songs. He opened his eyes to find that, sure enough, Spike was playing That Tape Again. It was getting to be soothing, especially since he did an extremely passable Johnny Bitchass or whatever, so there was no real discord beyond the music itself.

Which did have its good points. The guy was genuinely pissed about... whatever, and Spike had assured him that the entire band used to be as filthy a bunch of alcoholic junkies as anyone that pissed should be.

It was the growling that had woken him up, since it didn't quite fit with the rest of "Holiday in the Sun." He shook himself until his vision cleared a bit more, and discovered they were stuck in traffic.

Ah.

"Road rage is not a good idea for someone like you, Spike."

"Rage is always good, so long as it's properly directed."

"Well, are you properly directing it now?"

Spike gestured at the choked highway. "Cars! Everywhere! In our way!"

He had a point. Xander looked at the clock -- five thirty- eight in the morning. The prior day had been spent in a perfectly mundane motel just outside of Sunnydale. So banal as to be genius. Hell, they were even in a light blue sedan.

And now they weren't going to reach that abandoned Goth club Spike had been going on about.

This had to be killing him.

"Spike, maybe you should let me drive for a while."

"But you're tired."

"But dawn is imminent."

Long pause, lines in Spike's forehead. How old had he been? "You're being awfully good about... this, Xander."

He definitely didn't want to talk about... this. Yes, he was being good, but... But whatever change the topic. "You've got that tarp in the trunk for no particular reason, right?"

"None at all."

"Get in the back seat, get covered, stop breathing for a while, and I'll find us somewhere deserted to stop. Maybe eat some food."

"Isn't this where I'm supposed to not let you change the subject?"

"No, I'll let you know."

"Doesn't that sort of bollicks up the whole changing the subject thing?"

"Don't pester me with the facts."

Spike snorted, used their utter lack of motion to turn in his seat and reach out to Xander. Ran two fingers down his cheek. "You're very cute when you're being unhealthy."

"Well, I have some idea of what you like."

And Xander winced immediately. There was silence, and Spike had frozen. Xander peeked. The other man was looking down at his lap, fingering his chaps idly.

'I'm screwing somebody that owns chaps. Larry, where are you now?'

"Do you think I'm just using you as a replacement for Dru?"

"Um. Well, I... sometimes. OK, a lot."

"You weren't the first person I stalked, you know."

"That's reassuring, in its own special way."

"... as the marriage crumbles, at the end of the day... Sorry, every time I hear the phrase 'own special way' I think of the song 'The Small Hours.' Can't remember who it's by, though."

Another pause which Xander almost jumped into before belatedly recognizing the change in subject. Damn turnabout. "It's strange to think of you and music."

Spike leaned back to his side of the car, propped one booted foot between them. The boots were most probably older than he was.

"You have to realize that it took me a while to appreciate music. It was very, very weak for much of my life. I'd given up on it entirely long before the birth of the electric guitar.

"Dru liked it, though. Except when she hated it." Spike smiled ruefully, proceeded to look maybe four years older than Xander. Far too young for what he was talking about.

Xander nodded, punched Spike's leg, got kicked, pretended to double over in pain, nearly got trapped in the footwell, got yanked up again and pulled up over Spike. He had a moment to notice that an entire yard had opened up in front of them. Another three and a half inches and the horns would start up.

But for now, Xander had the opportunity to drape himself all over his... lover? Spike hadn't done anything more than kiss the back of his neck and lock his arms around Xander's waist the morning before. Wriggling out to get to the bathroom had been a long, arduous, and slightly-too- necrophiliac process.

And so had wriggling back in.

Xander propped his hands on the door and ground himself into Spike a little, appreciative -- not for the first time -- of all Cordy's lessons in automobile athletics. Spike just let him move, watching him from below so intensely that Xander had to close his eyes and grind harder. Turn away.

The image behind his eyes was of his own throat, his own face when he opened his mouth to choke out a groan.

And Spike pulled him down suddenly, and Xander accidentally smacked the horn, which started up the chorus, which didn't really matter because Spike had him by the collar and was strangling him while he kissed.

"How good are either of you at saying no?"

As it happened, not very. Xander slid his arms under Spike's body, awkwardly and painfully, and kissed back. He forced himself not to immediately try to seal the kiss, make it neat. Kept his mouth open and moved around as much as he could in the other man's grip.

Spike caught his lip, his chin, his cheek, his throat for a heart-stopping moment. Xander's heart was beating faster, the air was thicker and sweeter.

And then he loosened his hold and flipped them over, barking the hell out of his back on the steering wheel but showing no signs of caring. More hungry kisses until Xander was breathless for other reasons. Spike nipped at his ears, licked him, bit him, mouthed him.... Xander had never thought there'd be this much foreplay between men.

He wasn't sure how comfortable he was with it, really. Well, at times like these, there was no possible choice but to take it and take it, and moan and writhe and give what he was getting and then take it some more. But a small part of his mind was already gearing up to flash the softest caresses, the quietest whispers at him tomorrow and ask the rest of him just what the fuck he thought he was doing. It wouldn't happen until the next time he was awake while Spike slept...

... which wouldn't be more than twenty minutes from now.

Spike bit his eyebrow.

"Hey, piercing those is no longer in fashion."

"Where were you?"

"Um... elsewhere? You should probably punish me by forcing me to come really, really hard."

"Hmm. I think I'm going to force you to talk about this one at some point."

"That's not very enabling of you."

Spike grinned wolfishly. "I know. I'm really quite disgusted with myself."

Xander sighed, rocked his hips up a bit. "Well, if you're gonna make me talk someday you should at least get me off. Spike: World's Oldest Cocktease. And you thought the mass murder thing was painful --"

And then Spike was ripping off his rapidly aging sweats and opening his own jeans and squeezing their cocks together. This was a fantasy he couldn't help but lay claim to.... didn't every guy try to make it feel like it wasn't his own hand? Spend the years before ever getting to lay a hand on a woman's breast comparing mentally the feel of this velvet to that mystery?

Or just this velvet to that velvet and he was just rationalizing and that was really stupid because it just distracted from the feel oh God the feel... He had to bring his own hand down, had to help them get closer rub faster need harder and his cock felt like it was geysering pre- come and it made it so easy, so hot.

And Spike was watching him again, studying his every reaction and probably filing it away for later use. It was unbearable to be this exposed and still be wearing clothing. It was a joke. There was nothing wrong with fooling himself but not where it could be seen...

So he looked right back and kept his eyes open for as long as he could, watching Spike's gaze flare and darken and then the ridges were there, the perfectly understandable terror that this would be the time it signaled an utter loss of control and his life was forfeit.

Didn't it have to happen someday?

And that was enough to take him over the edge. He felt himself spill over his still-pumping fist, abruptly realized that Spike was thoroughly tangled with him. And that Spike's come felt strangely, spectacularly different in its own slow glide over their fingers, down their wrists.

Cut through it all and burned so sweet...

"Spike --"

And there was no excuse for that because his orgasm was ending but epithets needed to be spoken sometimes.

They remained in that position until Xander noticed that one good jolt of the car would probably end with his neck broken. Xander pushed at Spike, who rubbed his belly into the touch before shifting away.

Xander rubbed his own belly and winced.

"Spike, this pretty much means that you have to buy me clothes now."

"Don't worry, ducks. I'll find someplace where you can be naked a lot. I certainly have no intention of stopping my tendency of coming on, in, and/or near you anytime in the foreseeable future."

"You're such a constant, Spike."

"I do try."

Xander kicked him, had his ankle caught and kissed briefly. Right on the bite mark. "Ohhh, fuck. You cannot do that when you're about to act like a real dead guy for hours on end."

Spike did it again.

"Being called a cocktease really doesn't bother you at all, does it?"

"Not a bit."

"Bastard."

Spike did it again.

"One day you're going to wake up to find me molesting you, and it's going to be entirely your fault."

"You'd take advantage of me when I couldn't enjoy it?"

"I do what I have to, Spike."

"So do I." And then he slipped his fangs into the groove he'd left before and sucked. Xander could feel every millimeter of the things and realized he'd never be able to deal with shoes and socks again without getting turned on.

"Oh God oh God dawn Spike dawn."

"Not for another minute and a half." Muttered, literally, into his skin.

Nanoseconds, hours later, Spike pulled out slow and harsh and pushed Xander's foot down to his crotch. He was hard again. He wiped a bit of blood from his mouth, then painted the arch of Xander's foot with it. Rubbed a little. "Just so you know -- I'll feel this every second I can't move, can't touch you, can't feel you. Every second."

Xander stared, barely kept himself still. And then Spike shuddered once, released him, and jumped out of the car and into the back. Too fast for the public eye, really. Xander sincerely hoped the night drivers all just assumed they were hallucinating, and then yanked his sweats up and jumped out of the car himself to retrieve the tarp.

A lot heavier than he'd expected, and when he brushed against Spike's cheek while pulling it over the other man felt as warm as he was. It wasn't pleasant.

"Do vampires have wet dreams?"

No answer.

Xander stroked the tarp once, slid into the driver's seat, and moved them up an entire half car-length.





Part Two

Dawn had stopped being pretty a while back for Xander. Now it was also a bit lonely. The traffic was starting to ease, though, and Xander had high hopes for campgrounds with deep, dark wooded areas.

He needed to be able to crawl up under that tarp, as well. He knew it would have to get hot under there over the course of the day, but he also knew that Spike would keep him cool.

Xander wondered about winter, and what it might be like with someone who could only make you colder.

'If I'm still with him.'

The month would end right about the time school would start sucking again. Well, at least for the actual students. And then he could go back to Sunnydale safely, make his apologies and... And what?

He had told yet another big, awful lie. And the only way to justify it was to say something along the lines of "but I didn't want you to kill Spike, and I didn't want him to hurt you.... why, yes, I did think him hurting you was a possibility. Yes I still wanted him. Why do you ask?"

Nothing but bad in there, at all. Willow would probably force herself to try to understand, but why put her through that? Why not just keep driving East until they found someplace perfectly dark with pleasantly sealed places?

'Isn't this what you were thinking before it all started?'

Well, of course it was, but Xander knew there were only so many times you could be wrong about something until the world shaped itself to fit your nastiest imaginings. Or until you shaped it that way yourself.

He'd lied to everyone except Angel. And where had that come from? Helpful as ever, there he was saving Xander from Faith. He'd kept the rape aspects out of the story and supported Xander to everyone else about the strangulation.

So Xander had known Angel would keep his dirty little secrets. Maybe it was that karmic debt of his again, maybe Xander was still in the compartment of Angel's brain labeled "Buffy's friends," or maybe Xander had gone a little overboard in his Angel hatred...

Oh, he was learning to hate himself for so many good reasons. At least it took his mind away from hating himself for wanting the dead man in the back seat.

Though there was at least some vague reason to justify things. He'd promised a month, and a month he would give. He'd taken the option of being loyal and honest with his friends away from himself, but at least he could salvage some part of himself.

Perhaps it was the only way right now.

More likely, he was full of shit and should be taking the opportunity to stake Spike and then call up Giles, or Willow or someone and tell them he was on the way back. And then, on the way, he'd maybe find a way to make even the truth of all this sound acceptable.

Maybe agree to get some counseling or something. Ask Giles to help him. Ask Giles to sit closer, close enough so he could smell him.

Never have to stop getting something close to what he wanted, the oblivion, the peace of giving someone yourself to shape as they would.

Giles would struggle not to let him -- he'd have to, near- seduction or no -- but Xander knew he could get in. He needed someone like Giles, after all. Someone to steady him, love him purely and gently, and lie still while Xander sucked and bit and tore --

Xander shook himself, and started massaging his gums a little. They ached, itched, wanted as much as the rest of him. Even if he did could kill Spike, he'd have to stay away from everyone until he knew he could control himself.

He would have to isolate himself and wait for Angel's "eventually" to be over. Days? Weeks? Months? Angel could have at least been a little more specific. Xander could see it anyway. Some little apartment somewhere deep and windowless. The light would come out greyish yellow, and he'd sit there alone day after day, night after night until the time when he could finally say he didn't ache anymore, didn't think those thoughts.

And the minute he walked outside he'd realize that he'd just grown too accustomed to the thoughts and feelings to notice them, perhaps while trying to gnaw open some victim's throat with just his own dull, squared teeth.

And, of course, there would be no Spike to give him what he really needed. Whatever that might have been on any given day.

So, his options were killing Spike, occasional mauling of loved ones, shutting up his brain and letting his cock do the talking, abject misery, and killing himself.

Except that the last one wasn't an option for another twenty some odd days.

That was another laugh. Would Spike really say "right, time's up, have a nice life and/or death" when the month was over? It wasn't that Xander was so sure of his own irresistibility -- though Spike was making thoughts like that easier to get through -- it was that powerful sense of need Spike gave off.

Obsession not so much with Xander as with the idea of having someone around again. And Xander had been so well-behaved. To think, all he'd needed to turn him into a good boy was the threat of not getting killed in an interesting way. Or of being killed before he could come.

Or something.

Xander took a hand off the wheel to rub his face. He had serious stubble going on, his lips felt dry and cracked, his eyes were grainy and his mouth tasted like the Undead should -- in a world where they were clearly defined as evil -- taste.

And he smelled.

He needed a shower and a bed and some goddamned food. Motels passed him by cheerily as he drove and Xander scowled. Any one of those places would soothe most of those needs, but carrying a body-shaped tarp into the room with him in broad daylight just wasn't a good plan.

And he couldn't just walk into the truckstop to get some food. For one thing, his shoes had flown away at some point when he'd been dozing with his feet out the window. For another, both t-shirt and sweats were stained.

Obviously stained.

Xander got an image of himself walking in there just like that, ordering up some grits -- he'd been rather pleased to learn that grits were made out of corn sperm -- and coffee. Looking like a hustler after a long but probably lucrative night.

No probably about it once he pulled out the wad of cash Spike had stuffed in his pocket.

After that, the only question would be which trucker would take him out back for a good, old-fashioned queerstomping.

Or maybe just for a grope.

"Spike, if you're listening right now, I'm thinking about being groped by random truckers."

Spike was, of course, silent. Xander took it as encouragement.

"It's your fault, you know. At least you can sleep through your hardon. Me, I have to be awake and drive. With no food.

"If I sucked your dick now would I get any protein?"

Xander settled back in the driver's seat and relaxed a bit. The ultimate captive audience.

"There are some things you're going to have to tell me about like, yesterday. First and foremost -- what happened to Dru. She's this snarling ghost at my ear right now and will probably remain so until I can... Well, I guess it's possible that I won't understand, but I still want to know.

"Sort of.

"Anyway. I also want to know what your plans are for the rest of this month. Travel? Seduction? Pub-crawling? Or just a little starlight vacation intermingled with fucking and sucking and biting and sucking some more? I need some idea of how I should be behaving so I'll know exactly what I should be doing wrong.

"Did I tell you about the random truckers? They've got really big hands.

"And how come we haven't passed one drive-thru in the past hour?"

Xander turned to the radio, took out Spike's tape. It was overheating in the sun. Xander, on the other hand, was just heating. He hadn't realized he'd been so cold.

But it would probably get worse as the day progressed. Which raised other thoughts.

"Do you know how good it feels when you're biting me? It's like coming again, only I can understand more of it, see more. Something. It was more intense when you bit me on the thigh, I know, but I was also in an altered state.

"Wasn't I?

"In any case, I think you should do more research. Even though I'm not back there right now sucking you off, I will get myself fed soon. Keep the fridge stocked, right Spike?

"Could you maybe live off me entirely? How much blood do you need?"

He let himself mull over all the different ways Spike could say no, or yes. Wondered if that question would be considered cheating.

Xander was reasonably sure he hadn't meant it to be a cheat. On a purely sensual level he enjoyed being bitten. Nothing precisely wrong with wanting something that felt good. Certainly not when it did no one damage but yourself.

"Would you try if I asked you to?"

Xander listened to the silence for several moments, wondered if he was interrupting Spike's rest-cycle somehow. TiredAndGrumpy!Spike might not be pleasant. Though it would probably be good for a couple of wisecracks before Spike gagged him or something.

"I like hearing you speak."

"This is your fault, you know. You just don't tell someone you like the way they talk and then expect to not be yammered at all day and night.

"Which brings us back to the what-are-we-doing question. I've decided that we have to stop somewhere soon. If I sleep all night while you're dead all day it'll be a pretty dull month.

"Do you talk to me when I'm asleep? It might be interesting to see what kind of dreams you could give me.

"On second thought, maybe stick to groping me while I sleep."

Suddenly, on the horizon, there lurked the Golden Arches. How could he have doubted? He would eat again soon. All thoughts turned to getting there as quickly as possible without breaking the speed limit.

'What's that, officer? Billy isn't breathing? Ha! He does that sometimes. Tries to break the world record and all. You think I've been consorting with a corpse? Listen, buddy, you've got a really filthy mind and oooooh, cuffs. You know, ma'am, you're actually kinda cute. How about abusing me with that nightstick?'

It was an interesting sort of physics Xander was putting into play. If he scrunched down over the wheel like Igor on a bad back day and stared really hard at the arches, he would get there faster. Despite the fact that he'd been going exactly 56 miles per hour for quite a while.

The other theory was that if he drove at or below the speed limit at all times he would also draw suspicion.

"I hope you realize how paranoid I'm being up here, Spike. Though the cop fantasy was nice.

"Ever do it with a cop?

"Of course you have. You've been alive too long not to try everything out..."

But had he? There were those Dru thoughts again... But he'd obviously at least had sex with men before. Or just one man. Had it been Angel? Angelus back then, he supposed.

Angel probably remembered exactly what Spike tasted like, felt like... What made him scream. He barely managed to avoid asking about that, settled for semi-idle thoughts about whether Angel was ever thinking about them. Painting dirty little scenes in his head that were probably much rougher than reality.

Xander sucked his tongue. Or maybe not. Maybe he thought Spike would be basically gentle and adoring and vaguely, sweetly co-dependent. Maybe he'd always been that way.

"Spike..."

But he'd spoken before he had any clue what he was going to say, and, as sometimes occurred, the sentence was really just a fragment of a fragment.

And finally he was there. He placed a massive order and waited.

"You know what? I'm gonna eat all these fries and not save you any.

"And you can't stop me so there.

"This can't be good for me."

"Hey, if you wanted healthy you could've gotten yourself a pita."

Xander jumped before he realized the voice was distinctly not Spike's and coming from the left and above, besides. He looked up to find a man somewhere between twenty-nine and death by mayo, holding out his order and looking exceedingly unhappy about it.

'Thank God Wendy's fired me.'

He handed over the cash, got his bags tossed at his head. "Hey, you have a nice day, too..." He paused to get a look at the grease-smudged name tag. "Leslie."

The insults he'd lined up died on his tongue instantly. It was nice when life did your job for you.

And then he pulled back out onto the highway and ate and drove and thought of things to tell Spike while he couldn't answer back.





Part Three

By the time he found campgrounds it was nearly two in the afternoon. The hotel where they could stay for a while was only an hour away, and Spike would check them in for a couple of days.

Xander had decided long bouts of driving were a bad idea when he'd realized that his thighs and the larger part of his groin was numb.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

He'd pulled into a rest-stop and nearly fell out of the car. As it was, he'd had to brace himself against the roof and tremble painfully for several minutes. He used the time to curse Spike roundly when there were no other people around.

But now, now, he'd found them someplace darkish and cool, all stray sunbeams nicely avoiding the back seat of the car.

Xander sat on the ground and ate another two burgers, let Spike know that he was removing the lettuce and tomatoes first. Then just dozed for a bit until he felt warmth on his foot.

He looked down and noticed that one beam had found him to shine on. He wasn't sure why he hadn't found a sunny spot for himself before.

Then again, the warm, buttery light highlighted the dried, flaking evidence of the stripe Spike had painted. It wasn't a pleasant sight, really. Xander tugged up his sweats, took in the bites. Bruised, swollen areas of flesh, livid in the direct circle around the punctures themselves.

He'd seen them before, of course, but not in this light....

Was this what Giles had seen?

Why hadn't they dunked him in Holy Water? He was clearly infected. Diseased and aching and much too warm.

Only one sanctuary at this point, though...

Xander opened the door and did his best to slither up under the tarp. He didn't manage to keep from dislodging it completely, but since he'd started on Spike's wrong side he only exposed a little bootleather. He wound up mostly on top of the other man, who was still and cool against him.

Xander settled his stubbled cheek against Spike's smooth one and wriggled until he was vaguely comfortable, having to brace one knee between Spike's thigh and the back of the seat and sort of cradle the other man with his arm before he could do it.

He was going to wake up extremely stiff.

If he got to sleep. Xander rubbed his face against Spike's own for a while, mindlessly enjoying the shifts against the grain.

"I can't decide whether it would be disturbing or nice if you suddenly, say, wrapped your arms around me."

Nothing.

Xander sighed, rubbed his face harder for a moment, and closed his eyes.


~*~*~*~*~


And woke up alone in the back seat, feeling the thrum of the engine beneath him.

"Mmphahrrrg."

"Drink your soda. Lots of caffeine."

"Warg."

"Stuffed in the passenger side pocket."

"Arg."

"You're welcome."

The sugar and coldness smacked him with a wet towel and Xander blinked. "Where are we going?"

"To the hotel."

"The hotel? Oh yeah, I was thinking --"

"The Sheraton, yes." Spike smiled up into the rearview. "You told me."

"I don't remember that..."

"Doesn't surprise me. You talked a lot."

"It's --"

"My fault, yes."

Xander paused, glowered at the soda, then drank a little more. "It's not fair that you can remember everything I say when I can't."

"Well, think of it this way -- you had the road, the food, the search for places to rest all crowding your brain. Me, I had you."

"So... you heard everything I said?"

"I think so..." Pause, followed by Spike looking up into the rearview again. "I... I need a little while on the Dru thing, all right?"

"Sure, OK, I mean, I wasn't even really sure you were listening. Er. Yeah."

"I find a good 'right' usually works well in a situation like this."

"Well, you've got the accent and all."

"True, true. Why don't you come up here?"

Xander got over to the passenger side, reclined the seat, and did his best to crawl up and over.

"If you fall in the footwell again, I will laugh."

"Sure, go ahead. Crush my fragile ego."

Spike reached over and squeezed his arm. "Crush."

Xander snickered, Spike moved down to his thigh and squeezed a few times.

"Crushcrushcrush."

"That's not my ego."

"Should I keep looking?"

"Can you do that and keep us out of a big ugly accident?"

"Define 'big and ugly.'"

"Any."

"Well, then, probably not."

Spike took his hand off Xander's thigh and let it drift up to the back of the neck. He rubbed there and Xander pushed back into the touch.

"Keep doing that..."

Xander shivered at the suddenly-a-lot-less-playful lust. Spike had been hard before he slept, was still hard when Xander had crawled on top of him, and continued to be hard right that moment..... But he didn't stop wriggling Spike into massaging him until it started to hurt.

Well, until it started to hurt a lot.

He bent forward and Spike ran his fingers over Xander's nape one last time before settling it back between them. Xander leaned back and down into the seat until he was sprawled close enough to the idle hand to touch.

"You're fooling no one."

"Pretend."

Spike grinned at him. "All right."

And there was silence for a while. Xander nudged, Spike was still. Xander rubbed, Spike arched his knuckles just slightly then was still again. Or maybe vice versa. Xander wasn't really sure.

"I've been thinking about your other question. Well, one of them."

"Hmm...?"

"It's almost possible for me to live off you. Feed every few days, then let you rest and recover, then feed again..."

Xander did his best to ignore the surge that had gone to his cock at the word 'feed.' "Almost?"

"You would be anemic very quickly. Sluggish, exhausted, weak, and depressed. Tends to happen to your sort when you get low on blood. It takes a while to get back to normal again, and then I would be feeding on you again."

"And?"

"You wouldn't be able to get out of bed after a while. You would sleep a lot, feel feverish, helpless... You would be very beautiful, Xander."

Xander was trapped somewhere between need and terror. The sleep didn't sound bad, but to be so... weak. He didn't particularly want that sort of beauty. Still... "What about you?"

"I would start growing sickly, too. Much more slowly than you. It would never be quite enough... at least, it hasn't the other times I've tried it."

"You've tried it before?"

"Does that surprise you? Sometimes Angelus would disappear for long stretches of time. I was very, very young at the time. Barely thirty. Had never been more than a day or two's ride away from home... And there were times when I wanted more than just a new victim every few days.

"So I'd bring someone... home."

Xander swallowed. "How long did it last?"

"The first time, I ripped her throat out after two weeks or so. Things got rather messy..." Spike smiled distantly. "Angelus was very, very angry about that last."

Xander squeezed his eyes shut, tried not to imagine what she'd looked like. "The others?"

"I managed to keep one for an entire summer once. There wasn't a single rat, cat, dog, or slow-moving bird alive for miles around. I wasn't a happy eater, but I was relatively healthy."

"So... why only three months?"

"I came home one day and he was just... dead. His skin was all papery, close to the bone.... I realized that he hadn't been outside for weeks, had lost nearly fifteen pounds.... I hadn't noticed a thing.

"He was my last attempt. Mortals are healthier these days.... I'm betting I could keep you alive at least until the end of our bargain. I don't want to try, though. You were surprised because you don't really think of me as the type to get attached to people. Most of the time that's me, but there are so many different sorts of people in this world.... There's always someone to make an exception for, or to have an exception made for you. Your choice."

The good, moral thing to say was "do it." After all, he'd be saving the lives of up to ten people just by taking the equivalent of a month-long nap. Not so much to sacrifice. Not when it meant long, long drinks from his body.

But...

"I... I need some time to think about this."

'Killer. You just killed at least one other person.'

'I'm keeping my promise...'

Spike just nodded.

Another pause.

The night sky was clear. Xander rolled down the window but regretted the deep breath he took. Highway air wasn't very good air. But it still felt nice on his skin, as he'd had enough time alone under the tarp to start sweating.

"I've never done a cop."

"Really?"

"Surprisingly, most of them do take that law-abiding thing seriously. Why, most wouldn't even get involved with you."

"Hey, I'm almost entirely law-abiding."

"You're also under twenty-one. Frowned upon, or so I've been told. Now when I was your age --"

"Oh, Christ, just stop right there. No uphill-both-ways stories, 'k?"

Spike snickered. "Big truckers have hairy asses."

Xander barely managed to avoid a spit-take with his soda. "All of them?"

"Every last one of them. Sorry to disappoint you."

"You don't sound very sorry."

"Sorry."

"Nope, still not very good."

"What about if I sob?"

"We're just filled with disturbing thoughts tonight, aren't we?"

Spike grinned, sketched a small bow.

"Anything else you'd care to tell me?"

"Hmmm... I'm not sure whether or not you were in an altered state when I bit your thigh, yes I do know how it feels, and if I started to tell you how it feels to me.... Well."

"You'll tell me one day."

"Is that an order?"

"I'll look stern if it would help."

"Your mouth ruins it, I'm afraid. If Cupid used a longbow, that would be it. It's a weapon, to be sure, but it's a cute weapon."

Xander breathed a little harder. He didn't like "cute" a lot, but the thought of Spike thinking about his mouth.... He swallowed, scanned for the hotel. "Anything else?"///

"Only vampires who feed extremely well and sleep lightly have wet dreams. Angelus was good for that."

The only words that really sunk in were the last ones. "What else was he good for?"

"Well... he didn't make for a very good father-figure, I'll tell you that much..." Spike smirked at him. "I knew you'd have a filthy mind the moment I saw you on your hands and knees, working yourself back.... Your hips were nearly liquid."

"Fffffuck. You saw that."

"I've been seeing it for weeks."

"I'm not... I... fuck."

"When are you going to tell me who put these wonderful ideas in your head, Xander? Or were they always there, more or less?"

"I... I had a friend. He came out to me one day because... well, because circumstances had made him think that I, too, was gay."

"Think you were gay."

"Just don't start. I haven't had time to get past the 'sleeping with an Undead Hellspawn' thing to the 'I'm sleeping with a guy' thing."

Xander could feel Spike holding in laughter.

"Bastard. Anyway, I kinda dwelled on it, wondered what he did, what he thought I did, what he wanted to do, etc.

"I did some research."

"Research."

"Yes."

"Rather extensive research..."

"Well, I wanted to understand my friend better."

Spike didn't even try to hold in the snickers that time. Xander couldn't really blame him, but, dammit, that was his story and he was sticking to it.

"I made some decisions."

"Do tell." More snickers.

"There is nothing particularly gay about enjoying prostate stimulation."

"With a cock?"

"Shut up."

"Yes, sir, heterosexual man, sir."

Xander let himself laugh, too.

Eventually, they saw the exit for the hotel. It was in a mall.

"Spike, you're going to go in there and buy me clothing, you're going to bring said clothing back to the car, and then I will change into said clothing, and then we will check in. You will not forget the shoes."

"I could just leave you in the car..."

"I'll tear your tarp to shreds with my teeth if I have to."

"All right, all right. Demanding little straight man, aren't you?"

"You're not going to leave this alone, are you?"

Spike leaned over and licked a stripe from chin to forehead before kissing Xander's ear softly. "Probably not, no."

And then he was out of the car and Xander tried to decide whether or not he was more alone than he was all day.

No contest at all. He was more alone. Even the company of the dead, or something. And really... even when Spike wasn't precisely there, he was still there. He'd heard every word Xander had said...

He wondered what else he'd said those times when he hadn't been actively paying attention to things.





Part Four

Tight black t-shirt, tighter black jeans, black motorcycle boots. Plain white socks that would never, ever be seen.

Of course.

"And just what look where you going for, Spike? I can't quite tell..."

Spike continued to lounge on the roof of the car, tossed his cigarette aside. Crossed his arms under his head. "You didn't specify, now did you?"

"Yeah, but..."

"I went with what I knew would look good on you. And my taste is impeccable."

"I look like a beating waiting to happen."

"Not with that stubble, you don't. And that 'my temporary boyfriend won't let me keep normal hours' look in your eyes adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole ensemble."

"Ahhhh. So I look like a drifter."

Spike turned his head, smiled. "Precisely. But don't worry, I got you a shaving kit, too. You'll look like a rentboy in no time."

"You know what you are, Spike?"

"Incredibly considerate?"

"No, you're a fulfiller of life long dreams. I can't tell you how long I've been looking for a way to break into the whoring profession."

Spike snickered. "I suppose you're going to want to pick out your own clothes from now on?"

Xander was in the process of twisting around in the attempt to check out his ass. "Well, I have to admit you have better taste than my mother..."

Spike managed to both slide and jump off the car. "I should hope so. The last time I saw her she was wearing a housedress."

Before Xander noticed he was slipping away, Spike had pulled him close. No kiss, just holding him. Xander slipped his arms around the other man's waist loosely.

"I also bought you a white t-shirt."

"Now why would you do that?"

"So I could watch your pretty little nipples peak it out the next time I try a little perfectly non-homosexual sensual stimulation of other parts of your body."

"Stop laughing at me." And to make sure Spike complied, Xander kissed him, tasted something familiar... "You ate my fries!"

"You practically dared me to. It's entirely your own fault. Now make me shut up some more."

"I don't know if I should, what with all the potato larceny going on here. I'm still a growing boy, Spike."

Spike slipped a hand between them and down. "Well, that's always intriguing to see..." Spike squeezed gently and rocked his palm against Xander's jeans.

Xander leaned in, rested his parted lips just to the side of Spike's mouth. "If you make me come in my brand new jeans I'll never forgive you."

Spike turned enough to speak into Xander's mouth, brought both hands to Xander's ass and squeezed. Ground his hips until Xander joined the slow rhythm. "Never?"

Licking his lips required licking Spike's, too. "Room. Bed. Bedroom. Nudity..."

"All good things, true..."

A few more moments of mindless rubbing and then Xander pulled away a little. Spike let him go, but then brought him back for a slightly more innocent hold. Slightly.

"So tell me something, Xander."

"Yeah?"

"Is this nice or disturbing?"

'OK, that's it. No more monologues unless fully scripted beforehand..'

Xander catalogued the feeling of hardness that went far beyond muscle, the way Spike could, despite their rigidity, bend and fold his limbs to make Xander feel genuinely held, the lack of heartbeat or breath on his neck, the way Xander couldn't stop stroking the other man's back.... "I'd have to say a little of both."

Spike nodded against him. "Good. That was always the way I preferred. C'mon, let's go scandalize the help."


~*~*~*~*~


The help was less scandalized by Spike's hand on his ass than by their lack of luggage. Xander had to admit to a little disappointment, but Spike recovered the situation by mentioning:

"Oh, well, we had to leave in something of a hurry, if you know what I mean."

And then he'd winked and escorted Xander up to their room.

Which was nice, but... bland. And it had windows. It looked just like a nice-ish, modern hotel room. Peach and teal, spotless, scentless... No history here, no possible memories to tease out of the walls.

"We have to find someplace else."

"I thought you wanted to relax a few days?"

"I... I can't put my finger on it, but..."

Spike was busy ripping the blanket off the bed, taking something out of one of his pockets. Xander hopped up on the dresser and watched as Spike climbed up on one the cushy (teal) chairs. And then nailed the blanket to the wall.

"Spike, don't you think this sort of thing will attract notice?"

"Not until after we're long gone. The maid won't be in until eight p.m., at the earliest. The blanket will be back in the general vicinity of the bed by then. And I've gotten good at this over the years -- the holes are neat, and hidden by the curtain rod."

"And the holes in the blanket?"

"Might become noticeable when they wash it, true, but then they'll be washing it with a dozen other blankets, so..."

"Ahhh."

"Oooh, I feel all pedantic and fatherly."

"Um... ew?"

Spike turned to face him, eyed him possessively. "Maybe I shouldn't be wasting my time teaching you survival tips..."

"What should you be teaching me?"

"Well, a few more kinks to start with.... Where should we begin? My belt, maybe?"

Xander managed to avoid sliding to the floor by sheer force of will. "Er... that belt will hurt."

"That's part of the point, yes."

"I might just be too young for that."

Spike whipped the belt off, advanced on Xander. Xander could feel his knuckles whitening on the dresser. Distantly he realized that, in cheaper accommodations, he would've already snapped fist-sized chunks of "wood."

Then Spike slid the belt around the back of his neck and tugged him off the dresser. "Are you sure you don't want to give it a try anyway? You know I'd make it very good for you."

The last was whispered against Xander's mouth. A perfect blend of menacing tenderness. It was like being killed, or just given something whose beauty came directly from its capacity to kill. "Spike?"

And then the other man was kissing him lightly, all over his face, too quickly to catch and hold.

"Spike, please...."

The belt slid down to his waist and Spike was pulling him closer, welding him to his own body. Xander felt the straight edges of the leather dig a little into his back, wondered what it would feel like on bare skin.

"I know what you were talking about before, Xander." More kisses fell as he spoke.

"Wha...?"

"This room, what's wrong with it.... You'll never be able to leave a mark here, or even be able to read the marks of others." Spike let the belt fall for just long enough to reach between Xander's legs and pull the loose end up through them. He gathered both ends in one hand and tugged the belt up until it rubbed and caressed Xander's trapped erection.

Xander let out a shaky breath, pulled in another. Clutched at Spike and worked his own hips. The motion was conscious enough to shame, felt too good to stop.

"That's it... yeah..." Spike used his free hand to trace over Xander's ribs, down to squeeze one pumping hip gently, back up to thumb and pinch one nipple through the thin fabric until Xander moaned. "Places like this don't bother me as much, I don't think. I know there will be other rooms, better canvasses..."

"Am I... do you want me to be your canvas?"

Spike hissed, bit him softly just behind the ear, moved on to the other nipple. "You're much smarter than you think you are, Xander. Your mind is as tempting as your body."

"I'm going to take that as a yes." The words were right but his voice was in that register of wrong he'd come to recognize as 'I'm going to get laid and there isn't a damned thing I can do about it.'

"Good Xander..." Another bite, a long, slow lick. Xander shuddered, thrust harder against the belt. "I like marking you, I like playing with the marks. All of them."

"I don't want... that..."

Spike bit him harder this time, sank in and sucked for a long moment. Xander heard himself breathing, knew how he must have looked. "Don't you?"

"Please, I don't want you to hurt me --"

"What you want, what I want..." Spike trailed off, forced Xander's head back until he could get to the throat. "You want this, don't you?" Breathed against the skin.

"Y-yeah... yes..."

This was what a snakebite should feel like, he decided. Fast, inevitable, unbreakable... Filling you with poison so sweet it weakened your knees, sent you down to die in the sun.

Then Spike shifted away until he stood to the side. Held the ends of the belt with both hands and began a sawing motion. Xander couldn't look at him. He had no blood left in his body but the load in his cock that drove him to work himself raw... He reached out blindly, needing something to brace himself on.

Spike pushed them down to their knees and it was suddenly both easier and a lot more wrong. "Spike -- don't make me do this..." Xander swallowed, tried to sound a little more convinced. "Don't make me do this."

Spike stilled the belt but did not remove it. "I could take just enough blood to make you surrender to anything.... Are you sure you wouldn't prefer that?"

Xander blinked. Sweat dripped in his eye and he brought his hands up to rub it away. Spike had asked that question as though it was the most perfectly natural thing in the world.

Sheesh. Can't even wrap your legs around a vampire's neck without him starting to make assumptions about you...

"Spike, you..."

The belt was gone, at last. Spike ran one hand down his back, used the other to push his hair off his forehead. "Too much?"

"The 'don't do this' didn't clue you in?"

"I guess I was just paying more attention to your hips..."

His voice was almost entirely unrepentant, and Xander felt real fear curl in his belly for the first time since waking up in the nameless hotel. Xander met Spike's eyes anyway. "I'm guessing this is the downside to having a partner anxious to anticipate your needs."

Spike winced. "I'm scaring you too much, aren't I?"

"Too much? Spike... how much are you holding back? What am I... what is this month going to be?"

"Whatever you want."

"Whether I admit it or not? Tell me, who is the real you? Is it even remotely close to the person I agreed to... to belong to for a month?"

Spike sat back on his heels, seemed to be thinking. After a while his face rippled, then settled back into human mode. "Things like that are remarkably hard to quantify, in case that hasn't occurred to you."

"I don't.... you can't push me this far."

Spike was staring at him, expression so deeply interested as to impose about six miles of distance between them.

Xander sighed. "Well, obviously you could, but it just wouldn't be... the same."

Spike frowned. "But you did want it. You do."

"What did you see when I was saying no?"

"I saw you writhing, pushing into the belt, bending your knees to get closer to it whenever I relaxed the pressure a little --"

"You did that?"

"I heard you moaning, I smelled your sweat, and yes, there was fear in there but you were so hard... I didn't have to touch you to know it. I could feel your heat. Sometimes I think I'm going to burn myself..."

"I said no."

"I... and then I thought to myself that I barely had three weeks left and I want so much."

"Fuck... Fuck, Spike, I can't give you a year in a month. It's too fast, I don't know where I'm going and every fucking once in a while, that is an actual concern.

"You don't want to bleed me dry. Fine. But can't you see this is the same thing?"

Spike stood up, walked over to the bed. Sat down behind Xander, but did not touch. Xander could feel him leaning over, though. Maybe propping his head on his hands. "What do you think, Xander? What are you going to do when my month is over?"

"I..." Xander paused. "I have no fucking clue."

Spike ran a finger down the back of his neck, just enough pressure to keep it from tickling. "I want to just nod, tell you I understand..... For whatever it's worth, 'the real me' wants you to know that I don't have a fucking clue, either."

"Shouldn't that... make the agreement null and void?"

"Do you want it to?"

Xander put his head in his hands and giggled. "Are you asking me if I really want it or if it's just my body that wants it?"

"Er... I have no fucking clue?"

Xander kept laughing. "Good answer! Fifty points to the scary dead guy with the belt..."

The hand was in his hair now, tugging, massaging his scalp a little. Xander breathed, then leaned back into the touch until his cheek rested on Spike's thigh. They stayed that way for a while, quiet.

Until Xander couldn't stand it anymore. "I still need a shave."

"You might look interesting with a beard."

"Or I might look like a lumberjack."

"I don't think you quite have the shoulders for that. Maybe a recently-fed homeless man."

"Has anyone ever questioned your sense of aesthetics before?"

Spike sighed dramatically. "Fine. Hack at yourself with a razor and don't even let me watch. See if I care."

"It's not fair to make me laugh without even a decent edge of hysteria, Spike."

"The real me wants you to know that I never claimed to play fair."

"Yet another comment I'm going to pay for, I see."

"I rather think it makes them more valuable in the long run. Well, certainly more valuable for me."

Xander shook off Spike's hand lightly, stood and turned. Spike leaned back on the bed and put his hands behind his head. Definitely a favorite position...

Relaxation? An offer? Xander started to reach for the other man, who in turn held himself perfectly still.

tryingtobehavehe'stryingtobehaveagain...

Xander stopped himself before he could touch, stuffed his hand in his pocket. "So... where's that shaving kit?"

Spike looked at him evenly. "White bag in the bathroom."

"Yeah.... OK. OK. I'll... I'll just go shave."

Spike smiled a little. "No nice homeless man for me?"

"Next large city we pass, I promise."

Spike grinned, nudged him with his knee. "Well, go on then. They have a steakhouse down there.... I want to watch you eat."

"You're a voyeur."

"And I'm rather shameless about it, too."

Spike nudged him again, and Xander walked to the bathroom. Closed the door behind him and just looked in the mirror for a long, long moment.




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