Set in the Biteverse

Vengeance demons have changed Angel into a baby. Before they will change him back, they demand that Spike and Xander fetch them a magic stone from an alternate universe. This is a crossover with my original novel, Stasis, but this fic can be enjoyed on its own. 
Notes: This story was written for the lovely chaoskir . Many thanks to my hard-working beta, silk_labyrinth





No Place Like Home


by
Whichclothes





Part One

“I’m not burning.”

Spike’s voice was so full of wonder, his upturned face so full of awe as he gazed at the blue sky above them, that at first all Xander could do was gather Spike into his arms and nuzzle gently at his neck.

But then Xander pulled away in shock. “You have a pulse.”

Spike put a hand to his chest, feeling his heartbeat. He looked utterly stunned and his breathing was rapid. After a few moments, though, he shook his head to clear it. “Your witch said I’d be…be human here.”

“Yeah, I know. But saying’s one thing, the reality of it is...really weird. How does it feel?”

“Odd. My senses are dulled.”

“Yeah, mine too.”

Spike nodded. “Right. No wolf here either.”

“So remember what she said—we’re both fully mortal now, with the weakness and the being killed easily parts and all.”

Spike nodded again, and then moved a half-step away from Xander. “And we’d best get a feeling for local customs before we’re too cozy with one another.”

“But Willow said it was San Francisco. You know, rainbow flag central.”

“No, she said it was the geographic area where San Francisco is in our world. Here, who knows?”

Xander made a sour face. In his educated opinion, alternate universes sucked. In the last one he’d visited there was no magic and alternate!Xander was a huge loser. Well, he was until Xander and Wes and Spike got to him—now, Xander suspected, the other Xander was doing a little better for himself. Still, visiting this place had not been at the top of his bucket list.

Spike was looking around at their surroundings, and Xander decided that was probably a pretty good idea and did the same. Nope—this place definitely didn’t look like SF. No Transamerica Pyramid. No Golden Gate Bridge or clanging cable cars. No cars at all, actually.

“Reminds me of London,” Spike muttered.

“Really?” Xander replied, because he’d been to London and it didn’t look anything like this. That body of water off to one side was a huge bay, not the Thames; the hills were steep, the streets cobblestoned and lined with stone and wood buildings of one or two stories.

“When I was a boy, I mean,” Spike explained. “No engines, no electric lines.”

Spike was right. There were a lot of people but they were mostly on foot, aside from the few that rattled by in carriages and one or two on horseback. The clothing was old-fashioned too—long, wide skirts on the women, suits with tailcoats on the men. “It’s retro,” Xander said.

“And we stick out like sore thumbs.” Spike was right again—he was dressed in his usual post-punk ensemble, and Xander was willing to bet Spike had the only pair of Docs in town. Xander himself was wearing jeans with a khaki-colored button-down and a brown jacket and Reeboks, which were also probably pretty rare around here.

“Maybe we better get our mystical doodad and get the hell out of here,” said Xander.

“That’d be lovely, pet. But first we have to find the bloody thing.”

Xander frowned. If they were going to get sent on stupid errands in unknown territory, you’d think someone could at least give them a hint where their quarry might be found. But no, that was too easy. “Fucking vengeance demons,” he mumbled.

Spike put a hand on Xander’s shoulder and pushed him off to the side, up against a wall where they were probably a little less conspicuous. Passersby still gave them strange looks, but now Xander saw that quite a few of the people in the area were wearing exotic costumes. Made sense, he supposed. They were standing right at the port, and there must be visitors here from all over. The bay was full of ships of varied sizes and shapes. Some of them looked like something you’d use to chase Moby Dick or hang out with Long John Silver. They all had sails and oars—clearly, no motors in the mix around here.

“Spike, what—”

“Ssh!” Spike tilted his head, clearly eavesdropping on the passing conversations. After a moment, he shook his head. “Bloody hell.”

“What?”

“They’re not speaking English.”

“Oh. What then?”

“Dunno. Sounds like Latin’s bastard child.”

“Latin. Goody.” Although it really didn’t matter—Xander was equally inept at every language except English. And French, in which he could say merde, sacre bleu! and because Madame Poujade wouldn’t give him a hall pass if he asked in English, Peux j'aller à la salle de bains? Well, Spike was good with languages, so maybe he’d be able to play translator.

They both pressed more tightly against the wall as two men in navy coats with lots of fancy braiding and shiny buttons walked by. Their backs were very straight and their gaze sharp. They gave Spike and Xander a doubtful look before continuing on their way.

Xander breathed a sigh of relief once they were gone. “You know, I’ve been in port cities before. Back when I was on duty in Africa.”

“Yeah?”

“They’re usually pretty lively places. Lots of noise and commotion. This place, though…doesn’t it seem kinda….” He searched for the right words.

Spike found them. “Dour. Dreary. Depressed.”

“Yep, all the bad d-stuff. Down in the dumps.”

Spike nodded. “I see what you mean. And I noticed the way the locals were watching those soldier-types. It’s a bit like the way people eye an vampire who might be a bit peckish.”

“Lovely. Spike, we should—”

“I know. Follow me.”

Xander did, sticking close behind Spike as they walked away from the waterfront, alongside a wide and busy street. Most of the buildings seemed to house businesses. Xander couldn’t understand the signs, but he guessed from the window displays and the scents that most of them sold nautical supplies like ropes and sailcloth and fishing nets, and the others housed restaurants filled with surprisingly un-rowdy sailor-types chowing down. The food smelled very good and Xander’s stomach rumbled. They hadn’t eaten for several hours before they left because Willow said cross-dimensional travel might make them queasy.

After several blocks, the buildings became slightly more upscale and the shops sold a larger variety of things, like clothing and pots and pans. There was one store that Xander thought might be a pharmacy. The upstairs apartments had open windows with clotheslines strung between them.

Spike led them onward a little while longer, and then turned down a side street and then another, until they found themselves in a narrow, empty alley. “We need a scheme,” Spike announced.

“Agreed. You got one?”

“I can manage a bit of the lingo. I’ll find us a flat and you can wait there whilst I poke about.”

Xander frowned. “That sounds like I’m pretty useless, Fang.”

Spike rested a hand on Xander’s shoulder. “You are pretty useless at the moment, love. You can’t understand a word anyone says, you’ve no idea how to manage in a place with this level of technology, and with the eye you stand out even more than I do.”

Xander automatically touched his eye patch. He sighed unhappily, but couldn’t really argue with Spike’s logic.

Spike glanced down the alley to make sure nobody was watching and moved closer to grasp both of Xander’s shoulders. “You’ll be of use eventually, I’m sure of it. For now, stay safe and let’s get this finished as quickly as we can.”

Xander put his arms around Spike’s waist and nodded against him. “But you won’t do anything risky, right?”

“Just info gathering, pet.”

“Go ahead and gather. But I’m coming with,” Xander said stubbornly. Spike frowned but nodded.

So Xander tagged along again when they left the alley. They walked around for a little while longer as Spike formed an idea of the city's layout. Xander mostly looked at the people. The majority of them were going purposefully about their work, and as far as he could tell they were well fed and decently dressed. But as they turned down one street, he saw a thin man in clothing that was hardly more than rags. The man had a thick metal collar around his neck and was straining to pull a cart that was overladen with pieces of broken cobblestone. A second man walked alongside him looking bored and bad-tempered.

Xander poked at Spike and cut his eye toward the men with the cart. Spike looked very unhappy. “Slaves,” he hissed.

“This place gets better and better.”

In a slightly shabby neighborhood, on a block crammed with people selling food and who-knows-what-else from pushcarts and stalls, Spike came to a halt in front of a door with a hand-lettered sign attached to it.

“You just keep your mouth closed and look respectable, right?” Spike said.

“No problem,” Xander replied, taking a moment to reflect on the irony of William the Bloody telling him to act respectable.

Spike rang the bell and a moment later the door opened to reveal a short, round woman in her mid-fifties or so. She wore a red scarf on her hair and a matching shawl over her shoulders, and she had a face that was shrewd but not unkind. Xander immediately got the feeling that she was the type of person who wouldn’t miss much. Spike said something to her that Xander couldn’t understand, but it certainly sounded a lot more polite than his vampire’s usual.

The woman frowned as if she were having trouble understanding him, and she asked him something slowly and a little loudly.

Spike replied, waving vaguely in Xander’s direction, and after a slightly doubtful pause she nodded and motioned them inside.

The foyer she led them through was plain but spotlessly clean, and a vase of bright flowers was set on a tiny table. They followed her to a stairway, then up two flights and down another hall, finally stopping in front of a white-painted door. Xander couldn’t help but notice the workmanship of the furniture they passed—everything looked handmade. The house itself was well-used, but solid and in good condition, as if someone had taken good care of it.

The woman opened the door and Spike and Xander entered what turned out to be a small room containing two narrow beds with a braided rug between them, a dresser, a plain wooden chair, and a window that overlooked the street. The ceiling was low and sloping, but Xander thought that made the room feel cozy.

Spike poked around for a few minutes before turning back to the woman and saying something affirmative-sounding. Then a pretty animated discussion followed between the two of them, during which Spike showed her a few of the pieces of silver that Willow had told them to bring. The woman inspected the silver very carefully, gave the two of them another long, considering look, and then nodded. She left, taking some of the silver with her.

“See?” Xander said as soon as she left. “Kept my trap firmly shut.”

Spike closed the door and then gave Xander an affectionate buss on the cheek. “That you did, love.”

“I take it this is our new digs?”

“’S a boarding house. The name of the missus is Fiana and it’s her house. I told her we’d sailed here just today. She wanted to know if we came after gold—I expect the gold rush happened rather later here than in our world. I told her we weren’t sure, but wanted to seek our fortune somehow. Promised we’d be well-behaved and paid for two weeks.”

“Two weeks! Do you really think we’ll be here that long?”

Spike shrugged. “Dunno.”

“Man, Angel will drive everyone nuts by then, Spike.”

“Xan, he’s normally enough to make anyone mental. I rather fancy him like this. He’s cute.”

Xander snorted. “Yeah, he makes an adorable baby, Spike. But he’s not so much with the demon-fighting, which leaves Kyna on her own and Giles and Lindsey and Wes babysitting, and I’m guessing none of them are happy campers.”

“Right. So we’ll find the vengeance demons’ trinket quickly and they can change the poof back, and you and I can go on a proper vacation—in our own world.”

“And Angel can pay for it.”

Spike walked to the window and Xander followed. The street was bustling with activity, but what caught their eyes was something they could just barely see through the rooftops: a hulking stone tower set on a hill.

“Looks like a fortress,” Xander observed.

“Likely it is. And it might be a good place to hunt for our knickknack.”

“Yeah, but the thing about fortresses is they’re hard to break into, Spike. And probably even harder to break out of.”

“Yeah,” Spike agreed unhappily. “Tell you what. You stay here and I’ll go find us a kit that won’t make us stand out. I’ll see what I can suss out about this place as well.”

Xander thought of that miserable guy with the slave collar. “Spike, I don’t want—”

“Can’t just hide away here, love, not if we ever want to return. I’ll be back soon. Board comes with the room, so if I’m not back by six, go down and eat.”

Spike began to walk away, but Xander caught his hand and held it tight. “Be back by six or I’ll come looking for you.”

Spike reached up and traced Xander’s cheek with one hand. “Right. I told Fiana we’re cousins. Seemed wiser.”

“So I’m thinking that pushing the beds together is probably a no.”

“All the more reason to hurry, love.”





Part Two

Xander had never been more bored in his entire life.

Spike had spent the last four days nosing around the city, trying to learn as much as he could without appearing too suspicious. He grumbled about the language a lot, too, saying it was as if someone had run Latin through a shredder and then left it out in the sun to dry. He was overly cautious, allowing Xander out of the boardinghouse only for brief walks, even though Xander stood out a little less now in his uncomfortable new clothing.  Scratchy long underwear covered by a starched shirt and heavy wool trousers, vest, and coat, all in beiges and tans. While Spike played gumshoe, Xander stayed in their room, watching through the window like a princess locked in a tower. He couldn’t speak with any of the house’s other residents, and of course there was no TV or Wii or internet, and even the few books were incomprehensible. He was ready to take up knitting or something just to keep from going insane.

 Fiana and the other boarders were nice enough to him, smiling and greeting him when they passed in the halls or sat down to meals. But all he could do was smile back and feel like the village idiot. The food was very tasty here, at least. Fiana was a good cook and always made plenty.

On the fourth day, Xander ate a hearty lunch of some kind of fish stew, all the while sitting silently at the table while everyone else chatted amiably. Spike was out as usual, but he’d been keeping his promise and returning by sunset. Sort of the opposite of the usual vampire rules. He hadn’t learned anything yet about their quarry, but he’d been able to gather some info about the place, at least. It was called Praesidium and was one of several city-states in the region. That ominous-looking tower was called the Keep and was the seat of government. Spike had got the definite impression that the government was pretty oppressive, with strict laws about morality; the populace seemed to concentrate on keeping their heads down and being good, loyal citizens. There were quite a few slaves—Xander had seen them frequently through the window—because slavery was the usual punishment for breaking the law. Cuts down on prison costs, Xander thought sourly.

There was also magic in this place. If there were vampires or demons, Spike hadn’t seen any sign of them. He’d heard about other creatures, though, like unicorns and sea monsters and mermaids. And there was at least one wizard—a scary government guy, from what Spike had heard—and lots of small neighborhood witches of the wart-curing and love-potioning variety. Any one of them could have what they were looking for, which was a magic pink rock. Or the rock could be somewhere else entirely, like at the bottom of the bay. Assuming it existed at all and the vengeance demons hadn’t sent them on a wild goose chase just for kicks and giggles.

Xander sopped up the last of his stew with a hunk of really good bread, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and stood. The other boarders had finished their meals as he brooded. They had things to do and places to go, while he just had his boring window. Fiana smiled at him when he helped clear the table, carrying the dishes into the kitchen and then piling them alongside the deep sink. Fiana started rinsing them right away and Xander decided he might as well be marginally useful, so he dried.

But when he went to put the clean dishes away in a cupboard, he saw that the cupboard door was hanging crookedly. One of the hinges had pulled partway out of the frame. He’d have thought that after all the (repeated) renos he’d done at the Hyperion, he’d have gotten all the DIY out of his system, but little things awry bugged him. He pointed at the hinge and made gestures he hoped Fiana would understand meant he’d be willing to fix it if she let him borrow some tools.

After a moment’s puzzlement, Fiana nodded eagerly. She opened a closet and unearthed a heavy metal box full of hammers and saws and screwdrivers, all comfortable and well used. Xander hefted a few of the tools happily. At least this technology was more or less the same as what he was used to.

It took only a few minutes to fix the cabinet, so Xander started looking around for more projects. Fiana caught on right away and showed him a creaky stair tread, a stuck window, a wobbly doorknob, and several other things that weren’t working quite right. Nothing major, but enough to keep him occupied for a while. He whistled contentedly as he worked.

When Spike arrived home just after sunset, Xander was waiting for him in their room. Spike shut the door and they moved into each other’s arms, snuffling at one another because even with fully human noses they found one another’s scent comforting. Spike smelled like salt and ale and damp wool, and Xander would never tell him so but he thought Spike looked handsome and dashing in his Praesidium-appropriate outfit. His hair was still bleached, but he wasn’t using his usual goo so the blond curls framed his face adorably. Xander ran his fingers through them, undoing a tangle or two.

“God, Spike, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.”

Spike groaned sympathetically. They could overcome the narrow bed issue easily enough—they were creative guys, after all. That rug looked soft enough, and anyway Xander wasn’t feeling all that particular about location. But the walls in this place were thin and the two of them tended to be a little…vocal…during sex, so they’d abstained since they’d arrived and it was just about killing them both. Watching Spike at night, with his eyes closed in sleep and his chest moving smoothly up and down, the lights from outside sneaking in around the edges of the curtains and making his hair glow, Xander had to tuck his hands underneath his own body and think about algebra.

“Heard from the missus you were busy today,” Spike said quietly, his head resting on Xander’s shoulder.

“Yeah. I found a couple of things to do.”

“She says she’ll only discount our rent by twenty percent, though.”

“Wasn’t looking for a discount, Fang. Just trying to keep sane.”

Spike kissed his cheek. “I know.”

They sat side by side on Spike’s bed, their legs pressed together because some contact was better than none. “Any progress today?” Xander asked.

“Not exactly. Learned more about Praesidium.”

“Yeah? You mean you spent all day hanging out in bars while I worked my fingers to the bone.”

Spike conked his head lightly against Xander’s. “Git. Bars are the best place to suss things out. And down near the piers they’re used to foreigners and don’t mind a bad accent and loads of questions.”

“So what pearls of knowledge did you gather today?”

“They’ve been having a bit of trouble here lately. The Chief’s daughter-in-law and grandchildren were killed in an earthquake—”

“Wait. Who’s the Chief?”

“Bloke who runs the place. He’s a dictator, mostly, although he has a council of some sort. It’s a hereditary position. So his son’s family died and that caused quite a commotion. Things are finally getting back to normal now and they’re getting ready for New Year. ’T’s a big celebration here.”

Xander sighed. “Great. So we can put on our party hats and watch the ball drop from the Keep. But where’s our magic rock?”

“Dunno, love. But I reckon most of the mojo is in that wizard’s hands, so that’s the best place to look.”

“We’re off to see the wizard?” Xander snickered.

“Don’t trust wizards,” Spike said unhappily.

“Well, yeah. Not after Danny Vega hexed you that time. But he turned out okay, didn’t he? Saved my ass when the geese-demons made me old.”

“Mmm.” Spike didn’t look at all convinced that their current magic man would be a good guy too. “This bloke lives in the Keep. D’you expect we can knock on his door and he’ll hand the stone over just like that?”

Xander bent his head so that it was resting on Spike’s shoulder. Spike’s warm shoulder, which was a little weird. “If I could turn furry I could just rip the wizard’s throat out if he tried anything.”

“But you can’t. And my skills are limited here too.” Spike sighed deeply, making Xander’s head shift. “Do you miss the wolf, pet?”

“Yeah. And you—longing for undeadness?”

“The sunlight’s lovely, but yeah. I feel so weak like this. So…William.”

“Well, I like William.”

Spike pushed Xander’s head up so he could look in Xander’s eye. “Do you wish I could stay like this then? Fancy a human lover for a change?”

“No,” Xander replied earnestly. “I love you, bumps, fangs, cold feet and all. I’m just saying…even as a vampire you’re as much William as you are the Big Bad.” He held up a hand to stop Spike’s protest. “And I like that. You’re…two great tastes that taste great together.”

“Git,” Spike said again, but he smiled. “I miss the taste of you.”

“I could cut my finger if you want.”

Spike shook his head sadly. “Wouldn’t be the same. Tried some blood sausage the other day at lunch. It was all right but just food. Back home, when I feel myself sink into your neck, when your life trickles onto my tongue so that you’re in me, your life is a part of me…it’s brilliant.”

Xander moaned as his cock grew hard. He liked being the bitee as much as Spike liked being the biter. Hell, sometimes Xander bit Spike, not to drink his blood, but because it really got Spike off and the wolf was pretty happy about it too. “No fair teasing, Bleachboy.”

Spike leered. “Maybe we’ve time for something before dinner—something that would keep our mouths full, perhaps.”

Little Xander expressed urgent approval as visions of 69s danced enticingly before Xander’s eye. He was about to rip off his ten zillion layers of clothing when a noise caught his attention, and Spike’s as well. It was coming from outside and it sounded like shouting.

They crowded each other for a view out the window. It was too dark to see much of anything—the gaslights  along the streets were dim and flickery—but when Spike pried open the glass they could hear alarmed yelling and running footsteps.

Spike reached for his coat. “Stay here.”

“I am not a delicate flower, Spike. I’m coming with.” Xander grabbed his own coat and followed Spike down the stairs and out of the house.

Normally their street was busy, but in a well-behaved sort of way. The same could be said of the entire city, actually. Those serious guys in the blue uniforms—the Guard—didn’t approve of disorder, and nobody wanted to piss off the Guards. Tonight, though, some people were milling around in confusion, while others stood nervously in doorways, watching small groups of uniformed men go running by, heading towards the bay. “Can you tell what’s going on?” Xander asked Spike.

Spike had been eavesdropping on conversations around them, but he shook his head. “None of this lot seems to know. Nothing good, I’ll wager.”

“Do you think everyone’s distracted enough with whatever that we could maybe get into the Keep?”

“Dunno. We can try. Keep your head down on the way, yeah?”

“Oui, mon capitaine.”

Spike frowned at him. “Still your alpha, even if you’re temporarily non-canine.”

Xander slapped him on the back. “Lead on.”

Spike seemed to have gained a pretty good feel for the city in the last few days. He led Xander confidently through Praesidium, keeping mainly to smaller streets and heading mostly uphill. There was a lot of commotion going on around them, and even though the two of them tended to stand out with Xander’s missing eye and Spike’s nuclear hair, nobody paid much attention to them now.

When they turned a corner they finally had a clear view of the Keep, and Xander’s heart sank. There was no way they were going to sneak inside. In front of the tower was a broad paved area containing way more than a hundred Guards, each toting a sword and a rifle, which was kind of excessive in Xander’s opinion.

Spike pulled Xander off into a narrow space between a stable and a shuttered shop of some kind. “Now’s not a good time to be foreigners, I expect,” Spike said.

“At least none of this seems to have anything to do with us.”

Spike nodded. “Let’s go back. By morning we’ll have better reports of what’s happening.”

“Yeah. Man, where’s Twitter when you really need it?”

“Twit is right,” Spike said fondly. “But look—I’ve an idea.”

“A way to get to the stone?”

“No,” Spike said, and without further explanation, headed back down the hill. At first Xander thought they might be headed toward the water, and that didn’t seem too wise because the Guards were going there too. But several blocks before they reached the bay, Spike turned south. They walked through a market square that was mostly deserted, zigzagged through some twisting alleys, and finally walked down a street so steep that it had stairs instead of a sidewalk.

This neighborhood was very dark and quiet, the din of whatever disaster was going on only echoing faintly. Spike grabbed Xander’s hand, which was nice, and pulled him around a long, low building and through a side door. The inside was empty, dusty and mildew-smelling, with pieces of unidentifiable debris scattered here and there across the floor.

“What’s this?’ Xander asked, peering into the dark interior. There were a few small holes in the ceiling that let in a little moonlight, otherwise it would be pitch black.

“Old warehouse, I expect,” Spike answered, drawing Xander more deeply inside.

“And you think our rock is here?”

“Told you this wasn’t to do with that.”

“Then what?”

Spike grasped Xander’s shoulders and pushed him back against a support pillar. “Privacy.”

“Huh?” Xander was feeling about ten steps behind what was going on.

Spike stepped closer until there was no space between them, his body pressed firmly against Xander’s. “Found this place the other day. Old habit, yeah? Looking for abandoned buildings I could stay in. Nobody’s been in here in ages, and all the buildings round about are empty at night. Usually the Guard patrols here, but tonight I’ll wager they’re busy elsewhere.”

“Oh,” Xander said, finally catching on. It helped that Spike’s groin was tightly against his, and Xander could feel the hardness through the layers of their clothing. “Privacy.”

Spike growled, grabbed the sides of Xander’s head, and gave him a ferocious, ravenous kiss.

“Guh,” was all Xander could say when they broke apart to catch their breath.

“Well said as always, pet.” Spike unbuttoned Xander’s pants and then his own, and fished first his own cock and then Xander’s out of their cotton longjohns. It was odd to have a warm hand on his dick that wasn’t his own, Xander thought.

But then he stopped thinking because Spike held their cocks together, and Xander worked his fingers under Spike’s back waistband so he could grab a double handful of muscular, flexing ass, and they were kissing again, tongues dancing and lips blissfully squashed against teeth.

Before Xander had rescued Spike from the Chicago sewers, Xander had gone through a pretty long dry spell sex-wise. A dry spell that had begun when he dumped Anya back in Sunnydale and had continued with only occasional sprinkles through Africa and Europe. But then Spike had seduced him—well, it had been more of a prowl than a seduction, and it wasn’t as if Xander had played hard to get—and the dry spell ended. In fact, since then Xander had pretty much found himself living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean of Sex, and he’d been perfectly happy with that, thanks very much. He could never get enough of Spike, or Spike’s body. Top, bottom, or a little of both; rough fucking or snuggly cuddling; pure vanilla or twisty kink—it didn’t matter. He loved every bit of Spike from the scar on his eyebrow to his long, ticklish toes. Xander had been suddenly plopped into a desert for the past four days, and now, oh Christ, he’d found an oasis.

Spike seemed to feel the same way. He wasn’t slow and sensuous like he often was when they made love; instead he rutted against Xander like a parched man gulping mouthful after mouthful of sweet water.

Xander was squished between Spike and the pillar and it felt as if his lungs couldn’t quite inflate—now the man in the desert was drowning. But he didn’t care, because every cell in his body was singing and his dick was practically belting out an aria, and his brain was pretty much just set on “Oh fuck!” and his hands were clutching desperately at Spike’s wonderful ass.

Spike bit Xander’s shoulder. It didn’t hurt because of all the layers of wool and cotton, but it muffled Spike’s howl when he came. The shock of warm, sticky semen coating his dick sent Xander over the edge too, and he cried out loudly enough to shiver a few of the room’s timbers.

They kissed again, this time gently, and then drew apart. Xander felt a little shaky and was grateful for the support of the wood behind him. “Better?” Spike asked.

“Immensely. Best idea you ever had.”

Spike grinned at him, looked around in vain for something to wipe his hand on and then, with a wicked gleam in his eyes, licked his hand clean.

Xander groaned. “Fully mortal now, remember? You’re gonna kill me.”

“And it’ll be the most fun I ever had murdering someone.” Spike tucked himself back into his pants and buttoned up.

Xander did the same, making a little face as he did. “Gonna need a bath.”

“Fiana charges extra to use the bathtub.”

“We’ll splurge.”

Back out in the night, they trudged up the hill, which seemed to have grown twice as steep while they were in the warehouse. There were fewer Guards on the streets now; most of them had probably made it to the waterfront already. Most citizens were indoors, likely deciding that for now safety was better than trying to figure out what was up.

Fiana was there when they returned to the boarding house. Her face looked drawn and concerned, and she exchanged a few words with Spike before the men went up to their room. “Does she know anything?” Xander asked when they got inside.

“Nah. She was a bit worried about us. I told her we were looking for news but didn’t find any. Not so much of a lie, really. Anyway, she’ll have dinner ready in half an hour.”

“I’ll go wash up,” Xander said. “And maybe we can turn in early. Don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow.”

Spike nodded.

Before Xander left the room to go to the bathroom down the hall, though, he set a hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Whatever does happen tomorrow, if you get another of your bright ideas…I’m in. And another thing: William or Spike, you look really cute in a suit.” He gave Spike’s cheek a quick buss, and could have sworn his lover actually blushed a little.




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