Pairings: Spike/Xander
Warnings: Probably a little of everything. Fighting, Spanking, Bondage, Blood, Gore, Bad Language.
Disclaimer: Except for the few original characters, all characters in this story are the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, who have kindly allowed me to play with them. These fan fictions were written for fun, not profit. However, this story does belong to me. Please don’t snitch it.
Betaed by Skippyscatt and kitty_poker1 and Aayesha Rajkumari

For this story, the hierarchy is:

Newbie or newborn
minion: with a few levels, depending on function and intelligence
High Master

Ulterior Motives



“Dammit. Red, are you sure you know what you’re doing?  Wouldn’t do to turn him into a shrimp or summat.”

Willow turned to Spike and nodded eagerly. “It’s just a simple spell. It’s called ‘enthralled’, and all it’ll do is make him like you. I’m in the process of translating it now. As soon as I find the right text. I mean, I know which spell I want . . . but . . .  Please?”

She turned her puppy dog eyes on him and Spike sighed. Of all the Slayerettes, he liked her the best. He hated Anya and didn’t care for Riley much, never mind that he was shaggin’ the Slayer  Rupert was acceptable as: one, English and two, a fair fighter in his own right.  But the Xander-pup was annoying.  He never shut up, stood still, or did anything other than trip over his own big feet. Spike couldn’t say he disliked the boy, even though the wanker seemed to be on the stake Spike team; he preferred not to notice him at all. But Red liked him, so there had to be something in him.

Spike decided to watch the boy more closely tonight to try to see what Red saw. Then he’d make a decision about that ‘friendship’ spell.

The evening proved to be eye opening and somewhat dismaying.  It went something like:

Xander: "Hi. Hi. Hi. Um, what ya doin’?”

Giles: (tired look) “Not now, Xander, I’m busy.”

Xander: (sad face) “Okay, sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to be a pest.”


Xander: “Hey, Riley what cha’ doin’? Can I help?”

Riley: “If you’d looked, you’d see I’m cleaning a sword, and no, you can’t help.  You’ll only cut yourself.”

Xander: (crest fallen again) “Well I wouldn’t have cut myself in the first place if you hadn’t yelled at me.”


Xander: “Tara, can I help you?”

Tara: “N-n-n-n-oo. I-i-I’m O-o-o-k.”

Xander: “Well, if you need me I’m right over here.”

Tara: *nods head*


Buffy: “No jelly? Where’s Xander?”

Xander: “Right here. Here I am. Just hangin’ out. Yup, that’s me, just hanging around boy.”

Buffy (disgusted look): “Xander, you’re babbling again. Go get some donuts.”

Xander (crushed look): “Okay, yeah, that’s me, donut gettin’  man. On my way.”


Willow: “Xander, do you need any money?”

Xander: “Yeah, I could use a few bucks. Had to pay rent.”

Willow: “Ooh, Xander. They raised it again, didn’t they?”

Xander: “Yeah. They want four hundred dollars a month now.”

Willow: “Oh, Xander.”


Spike snarled. Xander’s parents made him pay rent for that shithole basement apartment. Rent he could see, but four hundred bucks a month? It wasn’t worth a third that. Especially with them yelling overhead at all hours of the day and night. He hadn’t spent nearly a month there without hearing some interesting things.

Spike followed Xander on his donut run and got an eyeful. The trip to Dunkin’ Donuts was fairly short, even shorter if you drove. Xander didn’t drive, he walked, counting money as he went.

He picked up every bottle and can he found, stopped at the recycling place and headed for Dunkin’ Donuts. He took a short cut down an alley.  Spike winced.

Xander stayed in the shadows as much as he could; this was way more dangerous than anyone knew. There was a demon hangout between the donut shop and Giles’s place but if he got going early enough there were only some Darash demons there. They weren’t really fighters and if Xander didn’t look at them they ignored him.

"Crap." Xander muttered several more expletives under his breath. There was a demon he’d never seen before standing right in the middle of the alley.  Xander feinted right then left. When the demon moved to intercept him, he danced away from the grasping hands and scurried for the mouth of the alley.

The demon tried to follow, but it’s hard to run with a broken leg. Spike snarled in the demon’s face and hurried after Xander. How the boy could have such good footwork and still stumble all over himself was beyond Spike, but he’d seen the same thing over and over.  When he was alone he was completely different from when he was with the Scoobies. "Bloody stupid nickname."

So Spike followed Xander until he was sure that the boy was safe. Then he slipped into the sewers and went hunting.

Even though he couldn’t feed off humans, he’d found that certain demon types were just as nourishing and tasty. And most of those were on the ‘slay on sight’ list. That made it twice as good.  One, he got to feed. Two, he got his violence. 

So why was he so out of sorts? He had everything he needed to be as happy as he could be, under the circumstances. But he still felt incomplete.

Being Spike, he stopped worrying about it and found dinner, with pocket money included. 


Xander managed to get donuts and return to the Magic Box without further incident, if you didn’t count staking a newborn, which he didn’t.

He put the box of donuts on the table and started into the back to make coffee.

Giles stopped him with a soft, "Here. I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner." He pressed some money into Xander’s hand. Xander wished he could refuse it but he didn’t have that option. 

"Thanks, G-man. Appreciate it. You find your demon yet?"

Giles sighed and took off his glasses. "No. Seems that Buffy missed something in her description. I sent her out on patrol. Alone, as Spike seems to have made himself scarce. For once."

Xander shrugged and headed into the back again. Giles followed him.

"Yeah. And where’s a vampire when you really need one?"

Giles gave him a funny look, then he remembered the reference and sighed. "On the other side of town."

Xander grinned at Giles. It made him smile whenever Giles remembered one of his movie references. Not that it happened that often.

Giles smiled back at him and reminded him that they still had to find the demon and they needed coffee.

Xander sighed, "Ok, be there in a few. Can’t make the coffee brew any faster than it is. Save me a cruller."


When Xander got to the big round table in the back of the shop, Buffy was devouring the last cruller. In fact, there wasn’t a donut left. Xander just shrugged.  "That’s okay. I’ll go get some more."

Riley sneered at Xander, muttered something about ‘pigging down’ some on the way back and tossed him a trail bar.

Xander accepted the bar with a soft grumble, wolfed it down and stuck his nose in a book.

He stayed with the research for most of the evening, then he stretched, groaned and announced, "That’s all for me. I got a new job and I have to be there at 7 a.m.That’s . . . fuck . . . six hours away."

Riley looked up then returned to his book.  "That’s okay. I can go by myself. I’m a big boy now." But Xander’s anxious look belied his words.  Spike hopped off the counter he’d been sitting on. No research for Spike, no sir. Not going there.

"I’ll walk that way a bit. Maybe you’ll bait something fun out of the brush. Come on."

Xander started to say something then just followed Spike out the door.

They walked in silence until they reached the turnoff into Xander’s subdivision.  Then Spike turned to Xander and asked if he wanted company the rest of the way. Xander stumbled over his own feet, squawked loudly and started babbling.

"Ack! Um, no. Don’t think so. That is . . . I’ll be fine . . . not that far. And . . . um . . . my dad. Well, never mind, I’ll be okay. Thanks. I’m fine. Thanks. Um . . .  I’ll just be going now. Bye."

Spike bit his lip to keep from laughing. He was feeling funny about the boy. He tried so hard, and no one seemed to notice him. Sort of like the way they were ignoring Spike. It was benign neglect of the cruelest sort, because it wasn’t meant to be anything bad. They were just careless.

Spike’s laugh turned into a snarl and he slouched away to kill something, just because.


Xander slipped into his basement room apartment, my ass and flopped down on the bed. He was a hundred dollars short of his rent and, son or not, his dad had made it plain that he better keep up on the rent or he was out. On the street. Homeless. Xander wondered if that was such a bad thing.

He woke up the next morning to a blow to his ribs that made him roll over swearing.

"Fuck, what the hell is it now?"

"Get up, you little shit. You’ll be late. You got rent to pay. If you lose this . . . aawww, why the fuck do I bother? You’re useless. Piece of shit. If you don’t pay, you don’t stay."

Xander rolled off the bed, keeping it between himself and his father. Contrary to popular belief, he never just lay down and took it. The drunken fights weren’t all between his mother and father. He rarely even drank but both parties didn’t have to be tanked for it to be a drunken brawl.

He grumbled his way into the shower and listened with one ear to his father’s tirade against lazy, stupid, hot water wasting kids. He dressed and left, snatching up his Uncle Roy’s car keys. He’d been driving it off and on since his junior year so no one said anything when he just appropriated it permanently. After all, he was paying for it.

His job turned out to be even more onerous than usual. Cleaning deep fat fryers and collecting the oil was just nasty, and what the hell did they do with it, anyway?

He realized that he’d said that aloud when the driver of the tank truck started telling him what it was used for.

"Remind me not to wear lipstick ever again. Or use hand lotion, for that matter. Eeeewww! In a great big way."

The driver laughed. "Well, kid. At least you aren’t doing it the way I used to have to. Fifty-five gallon barrels and I had to roll them up the ramp into a flat bed, instead of pumping it out of the fryer tank. Had one bust open on me more than once. They docked my pay and everything. Demons, what can you do?"

Xander nearly fell out of the truck.

"Demons? What? Where? Demons?" Xander freaked out. "I don’t. . . I mean . . . oh, shit."

"Look, kid. I don’t know about you, but I know there’s demons and no one will tell me different. If you want to stick your head in the sand and play ostrich, fine by me. I’ll sign the register at your funeral."

Xander wisely kept his mouth shut and kept working.


Friday he got paid, gave his father most of it and went to the Scooby meeting.  Which was a whole new level of upsetting.

When he’d realized that he was working for a demon, he’d nearly freaked out completely, then he’d realized that the guy paid well and didn’t pull some of the stunts other employers did. So he shut up, did his job and did his best to ignore the situation.

Giles gave Xander a hard time that night so he spent most of the night in the stacks, putting books away. He finally realized that Giles was trying to keep him from finding out what they were up to. So he eavesdropped shamelessly, and he didn’t like what he was hearing.

Giles was sending Buffy to clean out a ‘nest’ of demons. Unfortunately, he recognized the address as that of his new boss. A harmless demon, more interested in money than blood, or guts, or whatever Giles was afraid he was interested in. Not that it would do him any good to tell them that. They never listened to him at the best of times.

So Xander cradled his cracked ribs and thought, then he just walked up to the table and told them he was tired, had to work early the next morning and was going home.

Spike watched all this with considerable interest and started scheming.  He was sick of Sunnyhell, the way Giles and the Scoobies treated him, and Buffy was definitely getting on his nerves. She was slay oriented to the point of self centeredness.  He liked Willow and even found the Whelp to be ‘interesting’. Something was going on with that boy, and he intended to find out what. Spike admitted to being a right mixer at times and this was one of them

He was going to get revenge on the Slayer and her little group of sycophants. But this revenge had to be special. He had to think carefully; the Hellmouth tended to botch even the best of his plans.

So he followed Xander around while plans fermented in his mind.

Xander noticed Spike following him and waited around a corner.

"Ha! Gotcha!"

Spike jumped a foot. "Dammit, Droopy. You’re gonna get yourself killed doin’ that."

Xander just glowered at Spike. "Why are you following me? You never follow me. You’re so busy trying to get . . . never mind. Forget I said that. Anyway, again, why are you following me?"

Spike glowered back at Xander. "I wanna know where you’re going. That’s why . . .  so, where ya goin’, pet."

Xander just turned around and headed for home again. He wasn’t going to let Spike get to him.

"In case you suffered a spell of selective deafness, I’m going home. I’m tired and I’m going to bed."

Spike noticed, not for the first time, that away from Giles and the girls Xander didn’t babble. Spike added that to the list of things he wondered about.

"I heard. But you never go home this early. So, what gives? ‘Cause, I gotta say, if you’re gonna mix it up with Daddy, I wanna watch. See?"

Xander just opened the door and went in. Spike started to follow him but slammed into the invisible barrier in the door way. He gave Xander a hurt look, then swore as Xander slammed the door in his face, announcing, "I looked up the de-invite spells. It’s easy. Fuck off."

Xander sat on the bed for a few moments, then stood up and climbed the stairs. His father wanted the rent put in his hand every month. So here he went, money in hand, to pay up, again.

"You’re short. Stupid. I told ya there was an increase."

"You told me fifty dollars. There’s fifty more dollars there."

Xander snatched the money out of his father’s hand and counted it.

"Fifty more a week. Piss brain."

Xander stared at his father for a second. He didn’t make that much money in a month, he said so.

"Well, ya got forty-eight hours to get out, then. Can’t pay, can’t stay . . .  of course, if you’d cooperate with Benjy  . . ."

Xander just stuffed his money in his pocket, gave his father the one finger salute and went back downstairs, followed by a string of curses.

He picked up the phone and made the call to his boss. He had thought the name was one of those unpronounceable Slovakian things, now he knew it was just a bastardization of the demon’s real name.


Willow tucked the book into her pack and worried at her lip. Giles was going to be pissed when he found out that she was in the locked case. Spike had picked the lock looking for something and never locked it again, so she was taking advantage of the oversight  to find something to help Xander.

She had heard of Thrailan friendship spells. She was going to cast one for Xander. All she had to do was get the ingredients and set things up.

"Buffy! I need you to do something for me. I mean, for Xander, well, not for Xander in that he knows what I’m doing exactly but you know that I love Xander. I don’t want him to be lonely so he needs a friend not that we’re not his friends but he needs a friend with . . . with different equipment. I mean, well you know what I mean. You do, don’t you?"

Buffy stared at Willow for a second while she translated Willow babble into regular English, or near enough.

"Okay, you want to cast a spell to get Xander a friend of the male persuasion. To . . . sort of . . .  balance the equation. Not that Giles isn’t his friend, but he’s old. So  . . .  yeah, I’ll help you. But we have to work it in between patrols. There’s some kind of demon gathering. Giles is really worried about it. But I’m with the patrolling and he’s all researchy so we’re good. Just give me a heads up when you need me."

Buffy gathered weapons and backpack and headed home for the evening. Willow gathered up her stuff too. As they walked home, Buffy worried about Xander.  She knew that something was wrong but she couldn’t figure out quite what. And Spike was acting weirder than usual too.

Willow said goodbye at her door and watched Buffy as she trotted up the street, heading home by several short cuts guaranteed to scare up a fledge or demon.


Xander knew he had to get out. His father was going to use this as an excuse to beat the hell out of him and he was tired to the bone. He didn’t know where he was going to go but he was going. In the last six months he’d had broken ribs, a broken wrist, a sprained wrist and a sprained ankle. And that was just from his dad. He couldn’t take much more.

He sat down on the bed and thought. There was one place he knew he could go. And it wasn’t Willow’s, or Buffy’s or especially Giles’. There was a tunnel that ran the length of old Sunnydale that had a lot of decent places to hide out. He had a place there that he’d gone to for years. Just for a night or two, to heal up enough to fight off his father again. This time he was going there and staying, at least until he could save up enough to get a real place.

"Ya little fuck. Ya got two days to come up with rent. All in one chunk, in my hand, with an apology for being late. Hear me, pisswad?"

Xander gave the ceiling a burning look and yelled. "Yes, Daddy. I hear you, Daddy." ‘Fuck you, Daddy’, this last sotto voce and furious. Xander didn’t lose his temper, ever, for any reason.  But he was perilously close. 

Spike lurked around for long enough to hear the exchange between Xander and his father, then went to his crypt and thought. Hard. When he finally made his decision, it was like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. His superiors weren’t going to like this, but they weren’t really superior and he didn’t care much if they liked it or not. He’d suffered enough to pay for twenty members of the order, never mind three.

Heading to Willie’s, he grumbled to himself all the way about being taken advantage of and putting an end to it. He knew exactly why he had done some of the things he had. But some other things had been a mystery to him until just lately. Revenge was sweet, very sweet.

"Willie, gimme the phone."

Willie gave Spike a look and started whining. "Spike, every time I let you make a call, it costs me a fortune. I mean, call New York on your own dollar, or hundred, whatever. Know what I mean?"

Spike just vamped and snarled at Willie, the sound like canvas tearing. "Gimme the damned phone, ya wanker. I’ll make it good." Spike held out his hand and snapped his fingers. Willie gave him the phone.

Spike dialed from memory and waited for someone to pick up. "Yeah . . . Spike."

The entity on the other end told him to wait, but he snarled "I want to talk to the Master of the Order, now. I’m done here."

The Master of the Order of Taraka came on the line and Spike didn’t give him time to open his mouth, instead he gave him a quick run down of everything that had happened to him in the last year and demanded to be relieved of his duties.

"I’m starvin’.  That wanker, Giles, keeps me on a short ration and pig’s blood to boot. Ya ever taste that shite? An’ I’m tired. Drusilla just about did me in, what with her constant maundering about talkin’ stars and baby dolls and whatnot. Not that I didn’t love her. But it was a damn thankless job, nevertheless. An’ that’s that. You got two weeks to send someone else to keep the fledges down to a manageable level. And Buffy, that’s another story entirely and none of your fuckin’ business. Just send someone. Now."

The master mumbled, Spike snarled. The master snarked and Spike blew up. "Look, I’m not askin’, I’m tellin’. I fucked up with the Trio, yeah. But I paid, an’ paid, an’ paid. I’m all paid up . . . . because I said so. That’s who. You send anyone after me, I’ll send them back in a dustbuster. So . . . "

The master decided not to press the matter; he was astonished that Spike had stayed around as long as he had. Spike was a Master Vampire and a very powerful one. Very few entities could make him do something he was determined not to do. So he capitulated quickly, telling Spike that the debt incurred by getting his Order mates killed was paid in full. Spike snarled, "Nice to know. Thanks ever so. Now, I need access to my funds, a cell, and an apartment."

The master gave Spike an address and told him to be there any time after they hung up because things were in the works as they spoke.

Spike grunted, tossed the phone to Willie and headed for the demon bank of Sunnydale.


Xander pulled a duffel from the back of his closet and carefully packed his comic books into it. He also packed several small boxes of collectable items.

He hefted the duffel onto one shoulder and headed for Sammy’s Storage. Sammy hated his father and would let him store his stuff for a minimum fee. Not that he needed much space, but what he did have he didn’t want his old man to get his hands on.

Sammy was more than cooperative, he was ecstatic. "I’ll wait a week before I start rubbing it in, okay?" Xander just shrugged.

He got back home just before midnight and the first thing he smelled was bleach.

"Oh, hell, he so did not. . . ." Xander sniffed again, then headed for the pile of clothing waiting on the floor until he had the change to pay for washing it. "Damn him, he did. Now what? Xan-man, you’re in it now. Think, think. Okay."

Xander shook out the empty duffel and rummaged in the back of the closet. He piled things on the couch. Then he went through his dresser drawers, adding to the pile.

When he was done, he had two pairs of jeans that really fit, a black ‘rock till you puke’ t-shirt, courtesy of Oz, a dark red t-shirt, a denim button down shirt and enough socks and shorts to last a week. Everything else was ruined.  He hadn’t even bothered to go through the soaked, stinking pile of clothing.

Xander eyed the clothing piled on the dryer, then shrugged and scavenged it.

He added a pair of stone colored dockers, a pair of black jeans, and two more denim shirts, one black, one blue, to the pile on the couch.

Then he eyed his broken sneakers; he needed new shoes badly. His father had bought two new pairs of shoes just yesterday. He knew they wore the same size as the old goat had taken his boots last month. So Xander helped himself. The new loafers and cross trainers were added to the pile. He also discovered the boots he’d bought, still in their box on a shelf. They went onto the growing pile.

Xander scanned the musty basement room carefully. He wanted to make sure that he had everything. He didn’t want to have to come back for so much as a stick of gum. That was when he realized that if his boots were on a shelf down here, some of the other things that had been taken from him over the years could be here too. He’d never risked looking before.

After a short search, Xander found the roll of jewelry that his grandmother had left to him and his grandfather’s coin collection. All in a snazzy steel briefcase. He added that to the pile as well.

He packed the duffel and made sure that everything was gathered up.

He settled into the niche in the wall of the steam tunnel. It was about eight by eight, solid concrete and cold. So he decided on one more trip back ‘home’.

Spike saw him half way there and decided the bank could wait.

Xander ignored him.

Spike followed Xander. He was going to have the boy, somehow, someway.

Xander tried the key, the lock opened but the door refused to do the same.

Spike walked up behind Xander. "Need help with that? Be glad to oblige, yeah?"

Xander stepped back a pace and slammed the flat of his foot into the door next to the lock. The door smacked into the wall and slammed back shut. Xander stood waiting for the door to make up its mind whether to be open or shut. When it settled, Xander pushed it open again and walked in.

Spike snarled; he couldn’t follow, he was excluded again.

Xander turned, looked at Spike for a second. "Come in, Spike."

Spike blinked then entered. He looked around. It was as dank and depressing as he remembered.

"Ya move out? ‘Bout time."

Xander just mumbled something and gathered up sheets, blankets and sleeping bag.

"I’m leaving again. Make yourself at home. . . don’t follow me."

Xander shoved by Spike and disappeared into the darkness of the back yard. Spike was so shocked that he stood gaping too long. By the time he got his wits about him and started to follow, Xander had disappeared.

"Well, fuck. Fucking hate Sunnyhell. Everything I plan in this place gets bolloxed up. Fuckin’ Initiative. Fuckin’ Slayer. Fuckin’ . . . just fuckin’ everything. I’ll be glad to shake the dust of this unlivin’ hell from my boots."

Spike lit a fag and sauntered off to meet the banker.

At the bank he was greeted with groveling and scraping. The demon who led him to the President’s office bowed so low Spike thought he just might get rug burn on his nose.

"Master William, so glad to meet you. Right this way. The President is waiting for you."

Spike just grunted. He was tired and hungry. So hungry, in fact, that his stomach grumbled loudly.

"I’m sorry. I’ll fetch you something nice, shall I?"

Spike settled into the chair he was offered and nodded regally. "Be nice. Got a bit side tracked and didn’t eat."

The blood he was brought was fresh, warm and sweet. He swallowed it in three gulps and handed the delicate cup back with a sigh.


“Thank you, sir. The President will be here shortly. He’s checking on arrangements for your new accommodations."

The President showed up just then and settled behind his desk. He placed several items on the polished surface and started to lecture Spike on his responsibilities, but Spike cut him off with a few well-turned phrases. He shut up and handed the items to Spike.

"Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to offend. You’re . . . you were turned very young."

Spike smirked. "Eighteen and a virgin. So, what ‘ave I got?"

The man ticked the items off on his fingers. "You have a credit card, a check book. The red key is to the Mercedes, the blue key is to your apartment. Here are the address and entry code. The security system is top of the line. No windows. In fact, it’s entirely underground. Very nice, though. Curtains on the walls give the illusion of windows. I think you’ll like it."

"Thanks, mate. I’ll be ‘round again if I need anythin’. Oh, see about gettin’ me a consistent blood supply, yeah?"

The man just nodded. "I’ve already seen to it. I didn’t think a Master like you would lower himself to hunting like a common fledge. If you need anything, my number, my private one, is in the front of the check book."

Spike sauntered out the door, never noticing the man dabbing sweat off his upper lip with his pristine linen handkerchief.


The next four days went by in a blur for all the Scoobies.

Giles spent most of his time with his nose firmly in one book or another.

Buffy doubled up on her patrols, the fledges were thick and stupid. Demons seemed determined to throw themselves onto her stake.

Willow alternately helped Giles and worked on her translation of the friendship spell.

Xander lost his job because he missed the truck three days in a row. He couldn’t seem to wake up without the sun shining into the room. He didn’t have an alarm clock, and couldn’t afford one. He went to pick up his last check and found that the office was nearly empty. The only person there was the secretary.

"Here’s your last check. There’s a bonus and two weeks severance pay. The boss is decamping, and decided to let you have the money because he would have let you go. He just did it a day early. Don’t know what’s going on, don’t want to know. See you around." She couldn’t help but see Xander’s upset.

"Look, kid. You’re a good guy. Whatever you got going on, get over it. You’re okay. You just need to get to work on time and all that. Once you were here, you did good. So . . . go out, get another job, and do it right. I know you can."

Xander shrugged. "I got a bad rep. My dad got me fired from two jobs. And I don’t have an alarm, so I’m always late. I got blackballed from the construction jobs because my dad kept calling and making trouble with the bosses. Which, along with the being late, not such a good rep."

The lady nodded thoughtfully, then took a piece of paper and scribbled an address.  "It’s a cattle call. But if you go there, you’re sure to get something. Cash on the barrel head. And if you don’t screw up you’ll kill that bad rep. Go give it a shot. What could you lose?"

Xander hoped that was what Giles called a rhetorical question. Because he sure wasn’t going to answer it. She was a nice lady.

Xander didn’t go to either of the Scooby meetings that Giles called. He didn’t have the energy, or the inclination. The only two people who really noticed were Spike and, surprisingly, Riley.


Riley stopped in at the donut shop to see if he could catch Xander before he showed up at the Magic Box, but he just missed him. Instead he saw something that made him angry.

"Excuse me, ma’am. Where the dickens did you get such a mess of change? Looks like some kid busted his piggy bank."

The teller looked up with a sigh. "It’s that Harris boy again. He comes in here for donuts a lot and half the time he’s got a shit load of change. Those freeloading friends of his never pay him back and he’s no Cruxies (1) or whatever that king guy was."

Riley missed the reference completely so he ignored it.

"So, he comes in here and pays for two dozen donuts with small change. That’s . . . weird."

The clerk looked disgusted. "No, honey, that’s poverty. He has to pick up bottles and cans, then cash them in. Only way a guy his age would have that kind of chump change. You wanna coffee or somethin’?"

Riley shook his head, then poured on the Iowa farm boy charm. "Oh, no thank you, ma’am."

Riley bit at his thumbnail and wondered if it was worth looking for Xander in any of his old haunts. He decided it wasn’t and went back to the Magic Box to consult with Giles.


Spike, meanwhile, was searching for Xander in his own way. In other words, he put his new minions to work, looking for Xander, with simple instructions. "Don’t eat him, don’t even taste him. In fact, don’t even think of tasting him. I find out you did, I’ll pull your guts out and stuff ‘em back in sideways. Just find the little wanker, yeah?"

They looked everywhere they could think of but, being low level minions, they didn’t find him either.

Spike sat in his nice new digs and fumed. He wanted his revenge and he was going to get it. It all hinged on getting his hands on Xander.  "Bloody hell, carn’t trust those wankers not t’ muck up the job. Best get on with it an’ do it meself."

Spike crushed his cigarette out under his boot and headed out to search the under-level himself.

He traveled the distance from one end of the main tunnel to the other, sniffing occasionally. He smelled Xander but he couldn’t pin him down. He decided that the friendship spell might not be such a bad idea; it might help him keep track of his new ‘prey.’


Xander finally went to a meeting the next night. It was Friday and he didn’t have to work. So he wandered in with donuts he’d bought with change he’d scrounged in the usual way. Riley gave him a strange look and insisted on handing him $10 to ‘help out’, for the first time ever.

Xander also noticed that Riley and Buffy seemed to be on the outs a bit. Buffy was in the training room beating the stuffing out of the heavy bag, literally.

He sighed and settled into a chair. "Okay, what’s the what? And what kind of oogley-boogley are we researching this time?" Xander reached out and picked up a book written in an ancient symbolic demon language. He settled down to read, grumbling about the mustiness of the pages.

When Willow called him, he was glad to get away from the smell, shuffling of pages and general grumpiness.


"Okay, Xander. You stand here and Spike will stand there. It’ll only take a sec." Willow scampered behind the large table which was covered with crucibles, mortars and attendant pestles, strange colored powders and other magical paraphernalia.

"Um, Willow. You’re sure? I mean, what. . . huh? . . . What? Wills, you promised no more mojo. You know it just doesn’t seem to . . . well . . . aaawwww . . . . Wills, not the lip."

Xander gave up. When Willow pouted like that with the pouched out lip and the puppy eyes, he couldn’t resist.

Spike shrugged. "So . . . we doin’ this or what?"

So Willow worked her spell, the colored powders stank as they burned, and the whole thing was a failure. Or so they thought.

"Ohohoh . . .  I forgot. Xander, you have to step inside the pentacle now. And Spike, you have to touch him. Go on. . .do it. . .please?"

So Xander stepped inside the pentacle and Spike took his hand. Spike didn’t feel much, just a tingle, but Xander jumped out of the pentacle like he’d been goosed.

"Hey! . . .So not liking the zap! Wills, this spell. . . what kind of spell is it? Like it’ll help me to ask now. Stupid, stupid!"

Willow gave Xander a coy look. "It’s a friendship spell. It’ll just make Spike like you. You need a friend . . . of the male persuasion. Not that we’re not friends . . .  um . . . but we’re girl friends. Not girlfriends, exactly, but friends who happen to be girls . . . and you need boy . . . I mean, friends who are guys  . . . well, you know . . . and . . ." 

Xander nodded and interrupted Willow in mid babble. "Okay . . . Wills, take a breath, I get it. Spike is now the Xan-man’s new best friend. Thanks so much. Really likin’ the thought of havin’ the evil undead as a bosom buddy. NOT!" Xander took a deep breath so he wouldn’t yell at Willow. She always meant well.

While they were [not] arguing, Spike slipped around to the back of the table. He idly glanced at the notes Willow had made for her spell and blinked. This was the original spell, in Fornian. Damn! In fact, it was a Fornian thrall spell.

Spike picked up the diagram of the pentacle and sighed. Fuck. He folded up the diagram and stuffed it into a pocket, then he took Willow’s notes, turned to a new page in the small spiral notebook and made a list of every powder, herb and fluid she’d used in the spell. Then he pocketed the book and pen.

He couldn’t help but grin.  Willow had just handed him the boy on a silver platter, with an apple in his mouth. All he had to do was set the hook and reel him in like a fish. He’d take his time. Do it right and he’d have everything he wanted.

"With the smiling, and like a shark, I might add. What’s up?"

Spike started right in. "I just don’t get it. You’re . . . different here. Ya’ get all . . . stupid. An’ when you’re at work, you’re all construction joe. You’re . . . a chameleon. Changin’ to suit the background. Or summat. What’s your game?" Spike gave Xander a narrow eyed look.

Xander resisted the first impulse he had, which was to punch Spike. Not really a good idea; punching a Full Master Vampire was so not of the good. Instead he gritted his teeth, put on the goofy ‘hail fellow well met’ mask he usually wore and said he had no idea what Spike was talking about, insulted the Queen’s English and slammed out the back door.

Spike resisted the urge to follow him. There was other business at hand.

He hunted up Giles and asked for use of the copier. He knew better than to just use it. That was another insult to mark against their record. When Giles gave him permission, after an assault of questions, Spike made copies of all Willow’s notes and diagrams, gave them to Giles and asked him to figure out exactly what she had done.

Giles glanced at the notes. "You haven’t been casting spells out of Mim’s." It was a statement, not a question.

Spike gave Giles an indignant look. "Wot, me? Got better sense than that, yeah? No, just wondered what was up with this spell. Take your time, but not too long. Don’t expect the whelp would appreciate that." Spike sauntered casually away.  Now that Giles had copies of the notes, he was off the hook.

(1) Croesus - Rich Greek king

Part Two

Xander headed for his hidey-hole the minute he left the Magic Box. He was tired and that zap had been painful. He had to be at the cattle call early in the morning, so he settled down to sleep, hoping against hope that he'd wake up in time.

He almost didn't but he heard a noise in the tunnel and was awake enough that it woke him completely. He groaned and got up.

He packed everything away in his backpack and carried it to Sammy's, where he knew it would be safe. If he left it in the nook, it was liable not to be there when he got back.

He walked the mile to the parking lot and stood in line until a man came up to him.

"What can you do?" Manny looked at Xander. "Oh, and what's your name?"

"Alexander Harris, and I can dry wall, I’ve got common carpentry skills and some finishing work. I'm fair with paint and varnish. I was learning to do floors and cabinetry."

"Quite a resume there. You any relation to Tony Harris?"

Xander flushed. "Yeah, he's my dad. But I don't live at home and I don't drink. Um?"

Manny smiled at Xander. "That's good. I'll put you down on the list. Wait here."

Xander leaned against the brick wall and hoped while Manny walked on down the line, asking the same questions of the rest of the waiting men.

Manny went to the basement door. The pale figure there just waited.

"It's Tony, that's the problem. That asshole has ruined the boy's reputation. All gossip, I think, but there you are. He's good?"

Spike shrugged. "I don't know. Probably. Just give him a chance and I'll owe you. Give him the job on my say so, yeah? But make him keep it on his own. And don't tell him I spoke up for him. Want him to think he got it on his own, see?"

Manny just nodded. It wasn't often that he was asked for a favor by a Master of the Line of Aurelius. In fact, never as far back as he could remember had any of his people been asked for anything by a vampire.

"Sure thing, Master Spike. I'll go put him on a bus. I'll see that he doesn't have trouble with hazing, either. I don't like it to begin with."

Manny pointed out several men, Xander included. Then he consulted his clipboard.

Xander wound up on a bus headed for the outskirts of Sunnydale, where there was a complex of quadriplexes going up. Xander sighed happily. If he could keep this job, it was going to last quite a while. The complex was only about a quarter done, so there was going to be work for a long time.

When the bus reached the site, the super just set everyone to unloading a flat bed truck. The pallets had been removed with a fork lift, but there were still bags of materials to be unloaded by hand. 

Xander unloaded bag after bag of everything from concrete to he wasn't sure what. He was beginning to get thirsty so he headed for the water cooler. Manny caught him just as he was getting in line.

"You said you could dry wall? Well, the journeyman didn't show up. I'll take you to the site. It's half way across the complex. Come on."

Xander followed Manny to his truck and wondered how long it would be before he lost this job too. But Manny wasn't showing any signs of dissatisfaction. At least not with Xander.

"Stupid fucker got himself arrested for domestic abuse. Don't see what else I could do but give him notice. My woman wouldn't put up with that for a minute. She'd cut off things. Lots of things. But there you are. And here we are. Go inside and find Burk. He's job boss. He'll get you set up."

Xander hopped out of the truck and headed inside to find Burk. He was going to have trouble working this job. He didn't have the tools necessary, which was one thing that kept getting him 'let go'. He'd get tools, then his dad would hock them, then he'd get laid off. He sighed and let his shoulders slump.

"Hey, you Harris? Come on."

Xander followed the man. Mr. Burk handed him a taper, a mud pan, and some corner tools; in fact, all the tools Xander needed to do the job.

"I know you probably have your own tools but since you didn't know you were going to get this chance you don't have them with you. So I'll lend you my second best set until you can bring yours."

Xander took a deep breath and decided honesty was best. "I had tools, but my dad hocked them. I don't have so much as a trowel. I'll get tools as soon as I can, if you keep me on the job. I'll pay for the loan of these as soon as I get a payday. If that's all right."

Burk just shrugged. "Tough. You still live at home?"

Xander shook his head. "No, I moved out. I don't have a regular place yet. Again with the waiting on a payday. But . . ."

Mr. Burk held up his hand. "Not my business, especially since you don't live at home. Start at that end and do both side walls and the end. Don't do this end. I want to watch you while you work on it. Get a feel for what you can do. Okay  . . .  I'll be around if you need anything."

Xander started hanging the dry wall. It didn't take him long to get it all hung. Then he went in search of mud. He wondered why they called it mud instead of something more  . . . elegant, or at least nice.

After getting a tray of mud, Xander started mudding in the dry wall, covering the cracks between the sheets of plaster board with the mud, then taping them. He fell into a rhythm that lasted until he was done.

"Mr. Burk, I'm done with my job. I'm going to get a drink before I start on the last wall. Okay?"

"Yeah. Stay hydrated. It's hotter than hell in here and we're shutting off the breeze as we get the walls up. Get a drink then come back."

Xander managed to get to the cooler this time and dumped one cup of water over his head then drank several more. He stood in the window opening for a moment, enjoying the breeze that managed to find its way through.

Xander liked construction work. It was logical. Things made sense. Blueprints were static; they didn't suddenly change shapes or be something they were not. Dry wall was dry wall and a 2 x 4 was only that. They didn't go all squiggly on him. He hoped that he could keep this job.

If he could find a ride to work, he'd really be in good. Even if he didn't, he was feeling good about this job. Without his father in the way he might actually keep it. If he could get his tools back. He'd been really pissed about that. When he'd found out that Tony had hocked them he'd nearly done something he'd regret. For his own sake.

Xander went back to find Mr. Burk running a finger down one of his seams. Xander hoped he wasn't going to find fault with it. It was the best he could do, although he figured it probably wasn't good enough.

"This is real good work. You need your own tools, though. See about getting some, okay? I'll let you use those until payday. I don't think I need to watch you work around the door. I'm heading up to the front of the building. See you later."

Xander finished the wall, then got another drink. He was so thirsty because he'd been sweating like a horse. Drywall was heavier than you'd think and the size made it awkward, but he had managed the job with a minimum of trouble.

He decided that he should go look for Mr. Burk; maybe there was something else he could do before quitting time.


He heard them before he got to the front of the building. Mr. Burk was swearing and someone else was talking softly. He hurried into the lobby of the still unfinished building to hear the last of the man's conversation

"I don't care. If we don't get the crane, we're fucked. That retaining plate is cracked and it's not going to hold much longer. . . . . . two hours. We don't have that long. . . . . . okay, just try." The man snapped his phone shut with a muttered curse.

Xander had only heard this side of the conversation, so he wasn't sure what retaining plate they were talking about, but he found out easily enough. All he had to do was look up. The lobby ceiling was a modified geodesic dome with a large retaining plate at its apex. The plate was cracked along one side.

Six beams met right at the top of the dome, but two of them were breaking away from the rest as the plate they were attached to was cracked between them and the other four. Xander could see that the fix was easy enough. All someone had to do was climb up the outside of the dome and fasten the beams together somehow until a new plate could be gotten and put in place.

He obviously had a case of 'babble mouth' and said all that out loud, as the phone man turned to him and barked, "If you're so smart, you do it."

So Xander just shrugged, walked to the wall and started climbing. It wasn't really all that hard; all he had to do was remember not to look farther down than his feet. Which he only did once, more than enough, thank you very much. But he managed to make it to the top of the dome and get a look at the plate.

He yelled down and asked for a comealong and two bolts. Someone tossed up a cord by weighting the end with a shot. The first try was a mess. His frantic grab for the shot nearly overbalanced him and he felt a nasty jab from something in his inner thigh. Xander caught it on the second try.

Using the cord, Xander pulled up the comealong, bolts and a wrench. He used the bolts to attach the ends of the comealong to the main part of the plate and the two errant beams. Then he slowly pulled the plate back together, careful not to pull too hard or too quickly.

As he slowly worked the rachet of the comealong, Xander looked down at the pavement two storeys below. From here he could see the mosaic design in its entirety. He checked that the bolts weren't making the retaining plate split more, then climbed down.

When he got to the floor, Mr. Burk was waiting for him.

"Dammit. I didn't think you could do it. Great work."

Xander shrugged; this hadn't been as scary as facing off with a Fyarl demon. "That's okay. I'm just glad I could do it. Having that dome collapse would put the job off for. . . at least three days."

Mr. Burk looked at the other supervisor. "Jake Lonergan, Xander Harris."

Xander stuck out his hand. "Hi. Pleased to meet you."

"Same here. You don't know what you've done so I'll tell you. If that dome had collapsed, we'd have had to shut down the whole job until the OSHA guys went over everything. Thirty or more guys would have been laid off until we could get the site back up and running. At least two weeks."

Xander eyed the man for a moment then looked back up at the dome. "Why? That dome is freestanding. It doesn't affect the rest of the building, never mind the rest of the site."

"Well, hell. How'd you figure out that one? Even OSHA wouldn't believe it without going over every damn thing twice."

Xander blinked slowly. He knew he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer but even he could see what was on the blueprints.

"It's right there on the blueprints." Xander held up a hand. "I know I shouldn't have been looking at them, but they were just right out there on the table so I snuck a peek on my break."

Mr. Lonergan just shook his head. "You shouldn't be so . . . self-effacing. If you could see that from a quick look at the blueprints, what else did you see?"

Xander rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, you didn't order enough 2 x 4's for the second floor of that wing."  Xander waved his hand in the general direction of the area he was talking about.

He sighed. He was starting to feel the results of adrenalin crash and the cut or whatever on his thigh was starting to really ache.

"Hey! You okay? What. . . you better sit down."

Xander sat gingerly. All he needed was for them to know he'd gotten hurt on the job. Lots of companies would fire a guy for that.

"I'll be okay in a minute, just kinda washed out here. Adrenalin crash. I just need to sit for a minute."

Mr. Burk brought Xander a soda and handed it to him, telling him the caffeine would make him feel better.

Mr. Lonergan just nodded. "I'm sorry. You must be exhausted. You go home now and get some rest. We'll pay you for the rest of the day and maybe we can manage a bonus. Come back tomorrow, and don't forget your tools."

Xander sighed. He'd have to find some way to get his tools back. Maybe he could borrow the money from Giles. He knew his tools were still at the pawn shop; he'd seen them when he'd gone in to check a couple of days ago.

Xander left the site, but he didn't get much rest. First he had to walk all the way back to Sammy's to get his stuff, then he had to make up his 'room'. But he didn't get to rest even then. After he was done setting up he remembered that tonight was a Scoobie meeting, one Spike had made sure he knew about.

So he took all his things and put them back in his backpack, shouldered it and headed for The Magic Box, grumbling all the way.

On the way there he ran into Spike, which made him wince.


"Well, let's not expire of joy." Spike smirked at Xander, who just wearily continued on his way.

"Cat got your tongue?" Spike wrinkled his nose.  Xander had obviously not had time to shower before he got there.

Xander stopped to eye Spike with irritation. "Look. I'm tired, I had to walk to the cattle call and we had a thing there. And I walked back again. I didn't have time for a shower so I stink. Get over it."

Spike, being Spike, asked the question that jumped into his mind. "But you have your uncle's car. What’s up with that?"

"It's my uncle's car. As long as I was taking care of it, gassing it and paying insurance on it, I could drive it when the old man didn't want it. But . . . I'd rather not get arrested for grand theft auto, thankyouverymuch."

Spike grimaced. He hadn't thought of that. He was going to have to step up his schedule a little.

"Well, can't say as I blame you. American jails are not my favorite place, either."

"So . . . I walk. Get over it."

"Don't have to, pet. But enough of that. We better get in there before the librarian frowns at us.  Wanna put that in my trunk?"


Spike snorted rudely. "You wanna explain why you got all your worldly goods in there?"

"No, guess not." Xander followed Spike to the DeSoto and chucked his pack in the trunk.

Xander bit his lip -- one of the things he was going to have to do tonight was swallow his pride. He followed Spike to the door, trying to decide how to go about getting the money he needed without letting anyone know how bad it really was.


"Um . . . . Giles? Can I talk to you for a second?"

Giles managed to pull his nose out of the book long enough to blink at Xander. "Of course. Just a moment." Giles stuck his finger into the book and gazed at Xander rather vaguely.

"I need to borrow some money. Not a whole lot. But my dad hocked some of my tools and I need to buy them back. It's only $300 and I can pay you back $150 this payday and the rest next month. Please?"

Giles gave Xander a stern look. "Xander, if you allowed your father to pawn your tools, you should go to him for the money to get them back. You really must learn a little more responsibility. Why don't you go to the shopkeeper and make a deal with him?"

Xander gave Giles a funny look then just shrugged. Giles didn't hear him mutter, 'because the bastard wants to fuck me for them.'

Xander approached Buffy, but she was sincere when she told him she didn't have that kind of money. She frowned and told him to ask Riley, then admitted that they weren't really talking to each other anymore.

"I think he's going to leave for South America or something. I don't know what to do."

Xander gave her some advice that he didn't think she was going to take and went to find Riley.

Riley shrugged and admitted that he didn't have that kind of money and didn't think he'd be around to collect, even if he had it.

Xander plopped down in a chair, exhausted, dirty and disgusted.

"Here, pet. Make you feel better, yeah?"

Spike handed Xander a soda and a donut. Xander gaped at him for a second, then accepted the things with a soft 'thanks.'

Spike also noticed that no one else had even asked Xander if he'd eaten. "Bloody hell. Harris, did you even have lunch today?"

Xander swallowed the last of the donut before answering. "No. I . . . missed the lunch wagon. It's okay. I'll go by Lonnie's and get something after the meeting."

Buffy was in the back room punching the hell out of the heavy bag, Willow and Tara were reading a book together and the Watcher, as usual, had his nose stuck in a book. Spike sneered at them all.

The whelp was everything that Spike wasn't. He was loyal, brave, loving. In fact, Spike acknowledged, he was a regular Boy Scout. Spike wanted all those virtues for himself, in the person of Xander Harris. And now was the time to make his first move.

"Well, Xander, we better be going. You want some supper before we go to the pawn shop to get your tools?"

"Um. . . Spike. I didn't get the money. No one has . . . well, except for Giles and he . . . never mind. Just. . . shit!" Xander ran a hand through his hair. The chocolate strands stuck out in every direction, stiff from sweat and dry wall dust.

Spike set the first nail. "That's okay. I got the dosh. And I don't mind loanin' ya some."

Xander eyed Spike. "Um . . . where did you get money? I mean . . .not that I think you did something you shouldn't have but. . ."

Spike held up his hand. "I got money. Just couldn't get to it for a while. I'll explain some other time. That pawn shop closes at seven and doesn't open again till midnight, so we better get going."

Xander heaved himself out of the chair and slouched his way to the door.

"Bye, guys. See you . . . whenever."

Giles flapped his hand absently, and Willow just gave Xander a quick smile. Tara, however, gave Spike a long, measured look that made him give a cocky smirk in return. Glinda was a good kid, and a lot more knowledgeable about magic than she let on. Spike filed that away for future reference.


Just before they reached the DeSoto, Xander stopped Spike.

"Okay, evil undead, what are you up to?"

Spike smirked at Xander and lit a cigarette. "Don't know wot yer talkin' about, pet. You need the tools, I got the money. What's the problem?"

Xander gave Spike a sharp look. "I don't know. Just, evil undead here. I don't trust you. Where did you get the money?

Spike turned his head so Xander wouldn't see the triumph in his eyes. "Angel. Don't want t' talk about it. Just, I got it, you need it, yeah? And it is a loan. You pay me back all at once when you get it." Xander started to say something but Spike forestalled him. "I got plenty. Ya won't be puttin' me short. So, we're goin' now, yeah?"

Xander nibbled at his lower lip and Spike had to look away or he'd jump the boy right there and then.

"Yeah, we're going now. I’ve got to have the tools." Xander headed for Spike’s car with a grudging thanks.

Spike drove to the Double Meat Palace, but refused to stop the minute he smelled the place. He wasn't having his boy eat anything that smelled like that.

"Hey! I'm hungry. If you don't want to stop there then take me to Lonnie's. Come on."

Spike knew where Lonnie's was so he turned around and drove there without complaint. He got a carry out mug of blood for himself and told Xander to order whatever he wanted. Xander immediately called him on this generosity, demanding to know what he wanted in return.

"You'll find out. Got an ulterior motive, I do. Don't doubt it for a mo'."

After placing his order, Xander settled back in his seat, content for the moment.


Xander ate his burger and fries on the way to the pawn shop. Spike noticed the way he nearly inhaled the food and realized that Xander was always hungry because he skipped meals. Spike nearly snarled; the thought of his boy hungry made his stomach turn. He was now intimately acquainted with that particular sensation and he didn't like it. For either of them.

They arrived at the shop just as Xander swallowed the last fry and sip of soda. Spike parked right in front of the shop and kicked the door of the DeSoto open with a creak of protesting hinges.

Xander scrambled out of the passenger door and paused on the sidewalk.

"Maybe you should let me go in by myself."

Spike sneered at him. "Got vampire hearing, ya git. Heard that last. You think I'm gonna leave ya alone with someone who wants ta touch my property?"

Xander started to say something but Spike forestalled him. "Not a word." Somehow Xander couldn't bring himself to say anything. Spike smirked at him for a second. "Well, we goin' in or what?"

Xander opened the door and slouched in.

The fat proprietor greeted Xander with a greasy smile. "Hey there, love bug. Come to give me some sugar?"

Xander returned the smile with a look of contempt and disgust. "No. I came to get my tools."

"Tools'll cost ya."

"How much?"

"What ya got?"

Xander considered. He knew how much his father had gotten for the tools. He offered that with a 'don't mess with me’ look.

Benjy smirked at Xander. "Not enough. I know how much they're worth."

Xander just started searching the shop for his stuff. He finally found it all, except for his Sawzall. He turned to Benjy and asked about it. When Benjy told him he'd given it to his son, Xander knew he was lying. Benjy's son wouldn't know one end of the tool from the other. He had no use for a reciprocal saw and would probably cut off something if he tried to use it.

Xander eyed the pile of tools on the counter and then continued his search. He found a Super Sawzall in the back. It wasn't in the best of shape, but it was a good tool, nonetheless. He added it to the pile.


Spike watched as Xander found his tools and piled them on the counter. He’d never realized that construction required so much stuff. Not that he'd ever really thought about it before. He didn't recognize most of the tools, but Xander named them all and caressed them with work roughened fingers.

When Xander added the last tool Spike thought he was done, but Xander wandered around a little more. When he finally made his way to the instruments, Spike was surprised. He hadn't known that Xander played anything.

Xander stopped at the wall rack and ran his fingers over the finger board of a round-backed Ovation. His wistful look hurt Spike. He knew Xander placed some value on that particular instrument. He decided the boy would have that guitar.

"You want that, you know the price. I got an offer for that particular guitar and the guy is willin' to pay my price. Decide now or I'm sellin' it tomorrow." Benjy leered at Xander in a way that made Spike snarl.

Xander grimaced. "Not a chance in hell. I wouldn't let you fuck me with someone else''s dick. Just tell me how much you want for the tools. And don't jerk me around."

Spike looked at Benjy over Xander's shoulder. He vamped and then stroked his cheek with the backs of his fingers. Benjy's eyes widened. He understood what that meant and he wasn't messing with a Master Vampire.

"Um . . . okay . . . well, I gave your dad . . . six hundred for the tools. So . . ."

"No. You gave him one fifty. I know because he bragged about it. Don't mess with me. I'll give you . . . a hundred."

"Hey! I want to screw you, not the other way around. One twenty five."

"Receiving stolen goods. A hundred."

Spike showed Benjy a bit of fang, Benjy bit his lip then decided he was giving up.

"Um  . . .  Okay . . . you got me. Take them. Where's my money?"

Xander turned to Spike, slightly shame-faced. "Um . . . Spike? It's the best I can do. I'll pay you back as soon as I get paid. Okay?"

Spike pulled a small roll of bills out of his duster, and Xander wondered vaguely how many pockets it had.

He peeled off a hundred and ten dollars and handed them to Benjy.

"There. I'm takin' the git box, too."

"The . . . what?"

Xander blinked. "Spike . . . I . . ." Xander trailed off.

Spike got in Xander's face. "Tell me what you want  . . . and why." He used Master's Voice on

"I want Jesse’s guitar. It's all I have left of him. He took lessons and then taught me. The old man sold it before I ever got to play it." Xander gave Spike a startled and dismayed look. "What the hell did you just do?"

Spike lit a cigarette and shrugged. "Used Master’s Voice. Never mind, just go get the damn thing before I change me mind."

Xander went to get the guitar and find the case. When he got them, he returned to Spike.

He stood in front of Spike with a hanging head and slumped shoulders.

Spike watched him while he struggled with his pride and his need.

"Thanks. I . . . thanks."

Spike just shrugged. "Come on. I want out of here. Place stinks."

Benjy wiped sweat off his face and shivered. He hadn't realized that Xander was a Claimed One. He was going to get Tony for this one.


Xander put the box of tools in the trunk next to his backpack, but he put the guitar case in the back seat. As he settled back in the passenger seat Spike got a good whiff of him. Even sweaty Xander smelled good. Like cinnamon and salt.

Xander caught Spike sniffing and snarled. "Don't even. I know you don't have to breathe. Hey, vampire. So no smart remarks. I know I stink."

Spike refrained from comment as the only things he could think of wouldn't aid his cause any.

Xander looked out the passenger window, wondering just exactly how Spike had managed to make him tell one of his most treasured secrets so easily. It felt like he'd had no control at all. Spike spoke in that tone of voice and he responded . . .  like some sort of pet. oh shit

Xander started to say something, then he realized where they were.

"Stop the car. Stop!"

Spike slammed on the brakes, sure that something was wrong.

Xander jumped out, demanded that Spike open the trunk, then jittered from foot to foot until he

When Spike stepped back, Xander rummaged in his duffel and pulled out some clothes, a towel
and a bar of soap.

He headed for a sewer housing at a fast walk, holding something in his hand. Spike realized that it was a simple screwdriver. He snickered. Who knew that the boy had it in him?

Spike watched as Xander used the screwdriver to jigger the door knob. He followed him into the utility tunnel that led under the swimming pool. He wondered what the hell the boy was up to now.

Xander stripped off his sweaty work clothes and stepped under a cascade of water coming from a pipe high on the wall of the chamber

"Ohfuckohshit. Coldcoldcold."

Xander shivered violently, scrambled out of the falling water and started soaping himself.

Spike realized that he was using the swimming pool overflow to shower. The freezing cold overflow.

Xander stepped back into the water with a yelp. Rinsing quickly, he grabbed the towel and rubbed vigorously. It didn't help much; he was still shivering as he dressed in his clean clothing.

Spike waited for him to finish, then he just smacked him on the back of the head.

"Hey. What was that for?"

"You're the stupidest git I ever saw. You're gonna catch your death. Shoulda waited until we got to my place."

Xander rubbed the back of his head. "Your place? I'm not going to your place."

Spike glared at Xander for a moment. "Yeah, ya are." Xander opened his mouth. "Do. Not. Argue. With. Me." Xander shut his mouth, gave Spike a frustrated look and headed for the car.


When they got to Spike's new apartment, Spike opened the door.

"Come in, pet."

Xander hesitantly entered the large industrial design living space. The apartment was huge, windowless and Xander was immediately suspicious.  "How'd you get this? Where'd you get the money? The . . ."

"Shut it." Xander stopped babbling in mid sentence. "I got the money from the Order. Or rather they got it from me and then gave it back. Come here."

Xander blinked at Spike for a second. "No. Not a chance, no way, no how. Not happening."

Spike shrugged. "Okay. But if one of my minions eats you, don't blame me."

Xander gulped, wondered why he was doing this, and went to Spike.

"Now, this is the way it is. I'm not havin' you live in that tunnel. Not safe, is it? You're not gettin' enough sleep. I'll have one of the minions wake you in time for work. Eat a good breckie, yeah? All that shit."

Xander shuddered as Spike licked his neck from collar bone to jaw. He just stood for a second, then started to wipe his neck. Spike grabbed his hand and stopped him.

"Leave it. I put my scent on you. The minions will know better than to mess with you now. I'll show you your room."

Spike showed Xander to a large bedroom done in shades of brown and cream with brick and charcoal accents. He also showed him where the laundry was, telling him to just dump his things there and someone would do them.

Next Spike pointed to a door at the end of the hall.

"Don't go in there. It's the minions’ quarters. Don't want any accidents, do we?"

Xander followed Spike back to his room.

"Okay. What the hell is going on? Why are you being so nice to me?"

Spike smirked at Xander, oddly reassuring him. "Got ulterior motives, I do. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. I'm not going to do anything you won't learn to like."

Xander shuddered. "That's what I'm afraid of."


Spike listened at the closed door until Xander settled in bed, then he went in search of someone.

"Timmins. Come here."

The slight figure came to Spike and knelt at his feet, cringing slightly. Spike eyed him for a moment. He was ragged but clean, and he had that pseudo elegant accent that Spike recognized.

"Who were you?"

Timmins looked at his Master. Few Master Vampires cared who their minions used to be.

"I was a gentleman's gentleman when my employer was turned. He turned me, gave me his blood until I . . . returned to myself. So to speak. Why do you ask? If that's not impertinent."

Spike bit into his wrist and offered it to the startled vampire. Timmins latched onto the bleeding gash quickly, sucking until Spike ordered him to stop.

"That's enough. Asked because I got a job for you. My boy needs someone to take care of his things. And you're going to do it. Touch him wrong, and I'll pull out your guts and play with them. Understand?"

Timmins didn't even cringe. "No, Master, I don't understand. Is he your pet? If he is a pet, why does he need me? Please . . .  I don't want to make you angry. But I need to know what I'm supposed to do."

Spike snarled in exasperation, his patience severely strained. He hated being around the Scoobies, but it was especially hard now that he realized how badly they treated Xander. He understood why they hated him, but they were supposed to love Xander. At least they claimed to. But they treated him like dirt. They couldn't treat his boy like that and get away with it.

He smiled at Timmins. "He's my revenge on all the Watcher’s little darlings. Pearls before swine and all that. Treat him like a Consort. Like a lord. You got me?"

Timmins nodded. "Yes, Master William. I understand. I'll sneak in and unpack his things, shall I?"

Spike just walked away, smoking a cigarette and planning.

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