Ulterior Motives


Part Thirteen

Xander heaved the floating wall frame upright with a grunt. It wasn’t really heavy but it was awkward, the creation of two by four’s and nails was the skeleton of a wall. It was one of the walls for a room in the stable. It was eight feet tall and six feet long. Xander would have made it twelve feet long, the length of the room, but he couldn’t handle that size alone. He wasn’t about to have any of the inexperienced ‘donors’ helping him. Some of the men might be trainable, but they were Spike’s people, not his. They didn’t answer to him and he didn’t want a crew he couldn’t trust.

He sighed as he slammed the nail gun down on the base plate, supporting the frame with one hand. This really wasn’t safe. It was way too easy to lose control of the ungainly panel. He slammed another nail into the base plate and started to work his way down the length of the wall to the next spot he’d selected for a nail.

“Oi, wot the ‘ell do ya think yur doin’? Idiot boy, if you lose control of that, you’re gonna get hurt.”

Spike seized hold of one end of the panel and held it, waiting impatiently until Xander got it nailed in place and properly braced. Xander didn’t hurry but he didn’t fool around either. When he was finished, he turned to Spike and just waited. Spike wasn’t shy. He’d let Xander know what was under his skin. Loudly. “Ok, spit it out, you’re about to bust a gut.”

Spike just eyed Xander for a moment then he got right up in his face. “You don’t look stupid. But you sure act it. Why the hell are you doing this alone? You need help. We talked about this the other day.”

“Spike, who the hell do you suggest I get. One of the stable? I don’t think so. Most of them aren’t fit to do the job. The rest are more dangerous than doing it alone. So, suggestions are welcome, snarking is not.”

Spike just swelled up like a poisoned toad. Xander glanced his way and gulped. He knew he’d put his foot in his mouth, he just wasn’t sure how to get it out again.

“I’ll snark if I like. And I do like. You’re mine and I’ve told you no one abuses what’s mine . . . will this stand by itself?”

Xander nodded. “Yeah, if I brace it again at the other end. It won’t take but a second.”

“Get to it then.”

Spike waited until Xander had the wall properly braced then grabbed him by one arm. He dragged Xander all the way to his office and positioned him in front of his desk. Spike sat down very carefully, otherwise he’d probably break his chair.

“Ok. I don’t want you hurt, so I know I told you about workin’ alone. But you persist in disobeyin’ me. I asked you. I told you. Now you’re in for it.”

Xander kicked at the carpet sullenly. “I don’t know what you what me to do. I've got to get the work done before I go back on the job. And there’s no one to help me. I can do it by myself. So ... what now?”

Spike got up and walked to an armless chair with a deep seat. He eased into the leather embrace gracefully and motioned for Xander to come stand in front of him. Xander approached him like he was going to pounce any moment. Spike waited until Xander reached him then told him to strip. Xander started to object but then just did as he was told.

“That was easy. Up to somethin’?”

Xander shook his head, cheeks red. “No. I ... just don’t want to be compelled. It makes it worse. I ...” Xander just looked at Spike, feeling vulnerable and a little sick. How bad was it going to be?

Spike patted his thigh. “Over my lap, pet. I’ll help you get settled. Don’t want you landin’ on your head.”

Xander eased himself onto Spike’s lap. Spike held him carefully until he was settled.

“Now, understand that I mean business when I tell ya somethin’. I don’t fancy wastin’ my breath. I’m gonna repeat myself. Don’t work alone. Don’t lift alone. If you can’t find someone to help, tell me. I’m gonna give you twenty and you’re gonna count ‘em.”

Xander tensed waiting for Spike to start.

At first all Spike did was rub his butt, making Xander wonder exactly what was happening. He felt that special tingle in his groin and bit his lip, ashamed of his reaction.

Spike gave Xander the first smack and Xander yelped in surprise. “Hey! What?”

Spike gave Xander another smack on the other nether cheek. “Count! Idjit boy.”

Xander gathered himself together and started counting. “Um ... two?”

“No. One. If you don’t count it out, it doesn’t count.” Spike sighed at that, the boy was ruining what little proper English he had left.

Xander squirmed a bit. Then settled back. Spike hid a smirk at what he felt pressing into his thigh.

Xander counted ten more smacks, each one hard enough to make his flesh tingle and burn but not hard enough to mark him. Then he started to sob, softly at first then hard enough that Spike noticed.

Spike eased Xander around until he was curled in his lap. “Here, pet. Not that bad, is it? Hold hard now.”

Xander just sobbed harder. Spike shifted him, easing Xander’s head onto his shoulder then began alternately patting and rubbing is back. “Hush. Ease up. It’s all right. You’re not hurt, so what’s all the blubberin’ about? I know I didn’t smack you too hard.”

Xander hiccuped once then managed between sobs, “Nno ... you didn’t ... and that’s ... it ... you ... it doesn’t hurt ... and Pop.”

Spike couldn’t help his snarl. Xander was so used to being horribly abused for nothing that Spike’s correction had shaken him badly.

“I’m so gonna eat that wanker. Take a breath an’ get control of yourself. Here, let’s get to the couch. I’m not comfortable and I’m sure you’re not either.”

Spike looked up to see Timmins hovering and wringing his hands. “Here, stop that flutterin’ about and get a blanket. And some water. He’ll be wantin’ it later.”

Timmins didn’t take Spike’s remarks amiss, instead he just bowed and did as he was told, vowing to see that Xander’s father got his due.

Spike got Xander to the couch where he eased into the corner and got Xander back into his lap. Timmins covered Xander with a blanket, put his clothing close by and then positioned himself in a corner where he could watch his two charges.

Xander sobbed himself into hiccups while Spike offered what comfort he could. He realized that Xander was way overdue for some sort of break down. He’d never seen anyone as strong as Xander. The idiot boy would throw his heart over the tallest fence without a flinch. But it took a toll on him.

“Hush. Ssshh. Easy.” Spike patted and soothed, like he’d done for Dru for nearly a century. He began to purr.

Xander conquered his hiccups and settled against Spike pressing his cheek into Spike’s chest. He was nearly asleep when he realized, “Hey! You’re purring! I didn’t know you could purr.”

“‘M not. An’ I’ll deny it to ‘m dyin’ breath. Sleep. We’ll talk later.”

Xander drifted off to Spike purring and running his fingers through his hair.


Spike woke Xander by shaking his shoulder. “Wake up, pet. I wanna talk to ya.”

Xander mumbled softly then levered himself up from his curl under the blanket. “Wake. What?”

Spike ignored this impertinence. “I remember talking to some of the men in the stable. They were willing to work with you. One or two claimed to have experience. What happened? And don’t give me shit.”

Xander, unprepared for the questioning, just told the truth. “There were four? Or was it five? Anyway ... they aren’t around anymore. Some of them got real jobs and left. One just sort of freaked and Timmins says he got himself admitted to a hospital. So, it’s just me. I can do it. I’m used to having to manage for myself. It’ll be alright.”

Spike shook his head. “I hear of you workin’ alone and I’ll blister ya proper. “ Spike ran a hand over his hair. “Pet, I meant it. I’ll find ya someone, but until I do, no more work on the stables. They’ve got good walls in the dorms now. And that’ll be enough until ya get help.”

Xander sighed and capitulated. He really didn’t like doing work like that alone. If a flat fell on him, he could be pinned for quite some time. Not something he found attractive.

“Ok, I’ll make arrangements with Master Bruce for more lessons. And I’m still working on the translation of that hieroglyphic text. Interesting stuff. You see if you can’t find me some help. And I’ll be in my gardens. I have some ideas there.”

Spike just nodded and left.


Timmins searched out Spike a while later with questions.

“Master, I don’t understand. I know you’re not that patient a person so ... why did you repeat yourself so many times? And, most important, what happened to Master Xander?”

Spike smiled at Timmins, the vampire was almost as protective of Xander as he was.

“Well, for starters. Whelp’s so used to doing for himself, by himself, that I pounded it into his head that I don’t want him doing alone. The only thing that will keep the stubborn shit in line is beating a dead horse. As to the crying, he’s so used to being beaten half to death for nothing that a simple spanking not only turned him on, it confused him. He just couldn’t cope. It’s good for him though–washes away the bad. Fix him something he’s fond of, will you?”

Timmins thought over what Spike had said. It did make sense, so he relaxed and started planning what to fix Xander.

Spike picked up the journal and put on his glasses. “Where’s the whelp now?”

“Working out with Master Chen. He’s getting very good.”

Spike replied, absently, “He’s gettin’ more than good. I’m gonna start teaching him how to dust vamps proper soon. He takes too many chances.”

Timmins smiled gently and left for the kitchen.


Xander faced Master Bruce and waited. He wasn’t sure exactly where this session was headed but he was sure it was important. He set himself and watched as Master Bruce circled him. The attack wasn’t unexpected, what else were they going to do? But, since Master Bruce jumped over Xander’s head and attacked at the top of his jump, it was different. Xander just grabbed the vampire by one ankle and slammed him to the mat.

Xander turned to face Master Bruce, resuming his defensive stance. Bruce just held his hands in an ‘I surrender’ gesture.

Xander reached out and helped Master Bruce to his feet. “I do good?”

“Yes, very good. You’re amazing. I’ve never seen anyone learn as fast as you have. Now it’s time to move to the next level. Attack, rather than defense. So far, all I’ve taught you is defensive. Now, I’m going to teach you to attack. And more weapons work.” Xander gave an excited little hop, making Master Bruce smile. “We’ll find you ‘your’ weapon. I’ve taught you how to handle several weapons, but there’s one out there that’s yours. You understand me?”

Xander nodded. “Yeah, one type that I’m especially suited to. One that’s as natural to me as breathing. I ... always wanted ... I’m not sure.”

Bruce nodded encouragingly. “Go on. It doesn’t matter how silly it sounds. Just tell me.”

Xander sighed, this was no time for babbling, he had to get his thoughts straight. “Ok. Deep breath.” Xander followed words with actions and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Two swords. One, like a ... gladius, or something similar. The other, maybe a tachi. Long, but not a broad sword. Never could like one, you can’t get them really sharp. And sometimes you really need a sharp sword. Especially if you’re dealing with like a Ramankt, or a Sma’ak. All scales and teeth. And then there’s your zombie. Need to have a long sword to deal with them. One scratch and then there’s the badness that is infection. And then there’s the embarrassment factor. No matter how I train, I’m no good. I mean you trained me so I’m fair but good not so much with the good.”

Bruce took a deep breath and snarled. “Shut up.” Xander shut. “Never do that. You’re good. I don’t train men who can’t learn. There’s some things you need to work on, and you will. Now, I want ... one hundred speed snaps. An equal number of squat kicks and pushups. Then, we’ll see about a pair of swords. Your choices and the reasons behind them are sensible. That ... babble is not. Now move.”

Xander didn’t grumble or complain, he just started working out. Master Bruce said that his habit of babbling made him look stupid, and he supposed it did. Master Bruce also said that no student of his was going to act the idiot, therefore the punishment. And a punishment it was. By the time Xander was finished he was sweaty and exhausted.

“Fuck.” Xander flopped over on his back and swiped at his face with his sweat soaked t-shirt. “Sensei, you trying to kill me?”

Bruce just handed Xander a water bottle, remarking, “No, I’m trying to see that you don’t get killed. Do you want to do a few laps around the dojo?”

Xander swallowed quickly. “Um ... no. Really rather not.”

“I didn’t think so. Come with me, we’ll look at swords.”

Bruce led the way across the room to the weapons cupboard, Xander close behind him.

Spike stuck his head in the door and saw them walking across the room. He wondered what they were doing so he used his vampiric speed to catch up.

“Hey ...” Xander jabbed him in the nose with an elbow and whirled to aim a punch at his solar plexus. Spike took the elbow in the nose and rolled with it. Xander’s punch didn’t miss but it lost a lot of its power. “Easy there!”

Xander pulled the second punch he had aimed at whatever he could get to. “Sorry. Don’t do that! I swear I’m going to put a bell on you. Damnit!”

Spike however was grinning at Xander with real pride. “Why is it always my nose? Great moves, pet. Great.” Spike turned to Master Bruce. “Bringin’ ‘im along nicely. What’s up?”

Bruce bowed to Spike. “Thank you, master. He’s improving quickly. We’re picking out swords. Would you like to see?”

Spike nodded rubbing his injured nose. But he was smiling in a rather nasty way. Xander wondered what that was about but forgot almost immediately as Bruce opened the weapons cabinet and pulled out a sword.

“Try this one. I know it’s not the right one for you but it’ll give me an idea of what will fit. Just go through a kata while Master Spike and I watch.”

Xander took the Wakazashi and unsheathed it. It felt way too light, but he wasn’t familiar enough with it to make a real decision. Master Bruce had taught him enough sword work earlier that he could defend himself. But the master had told him he was going to teach him attacks now, which were an entirely different thing. He started his kata.

Spike shook his head. “Damn thing’s too light. And short. If he wants a short sword ...”

“I was thinking a gladius for a short sword. And that sword is too short. I thought it might be but I’m picking a sword for him the way one was picked for me. Tradition is tradition for a reason.”

Spike just nodded his head.

Xander brought the sword back. “Too light and too short. I thought ... maybe a tachi.”

Spike picked at his lower lip for a moment then turned to Master Bruce. “He’s tall enough but what about his skills?”

Master Bruce nodded, looking thoughtful. “Don’t worry about his skills. By the time I’m done with him, he’ll be able to handle any sword he gets his hands on. But for a personal sword, a tachi is what I was considering too. So ...”

Xander listened to the exchange carefully, then remarked softly, “Are you sure I’m strong enough to use such a sword?”

Bruce just returned. “You’re strong enough. It’s skills that make the real difference. And you’ll have the skills. I’ll see to it. Here.”

Xander took the tachi, weighing it in his hand. “Feels good. Should I do the same kata?”

Spike looked at Bruce, who shook his head. “Try the one you’ve been calling Oak Leaves.”

Xander stepped into the middle of the room again and started the kata. Spike watched in happy awe as his puppy-dog-eyed Scooby turned into a dervish. Xander worked his way through the kata and returned to his Masters.

“I like it. It feels like part of my arm. Can I have it? Please?” Xander turned to Spike with his best wheedling expression firmly in place. “Pleaseplease. I’ll be extra good. I swear. Ok? Ok?”

Spike nodded. “You can have it, if Master Bruce says it’s ok. After all, it’s his sword.”

Xander turned his pleading gaze on Master Bruce who just nodded sharply, saying gruffly. “I wouldn’t have let you try it if I didn’t intend for you to have it.” He turned to the cabinet again and rummaged. “Now for the gladius. All I’ve got in the line of such a thing is a cheap one but it’ll do for now.”

Xander meanwhile was admiring his new tachi. The slightly back curved hilt with its sharkskin and silk cord grip felt natural in his hand, like an old friend. When Bruce called to him, he turned around to see Spike holding a short Roman Gladiators sword. Xander reached out, handed the tachi to Master Bruce and took the gladius.

Master Bruce told Xander to try out the moves he’d shown him, using the wooden practice sword. Xander returned to the middle of the room to work his way through a series of stabs thrusts and counters that made Spike blink. “Bloody hell! He’s good. I figured he’d be fair to middlin’ but I’m beginnin’ to think somethin’s up with the boy.”

Master Bruce turned to Spike. “Master, he’s very good. I’d give you all the particulars but it’s ... well. He ‘appreciates’ well. He has a wide eye, and he ... he can’t be dissuaded. Stubborn doesn’t measure it when he’s made up his mind.” Spike made a rude noise. “Yes, but he’s been nearly ruined by that, I believe the word you use is wanker, he calls a father. His reflexes are still off. As you know, I worked with him and he’s much better, but I’d like to see him work out with humans that resemble his father. It would help a lot.”

Spike watched Xander with a discerning eye. Xander moved well now, most of his awkwardness gone. And he knew his stuff, the sword danced around him in a ring of flashing steel. Spike cleared his throat to call Xander in, Xander glanced his way and tripped over his own feet. Spike couldn’t believe it, although he was quick to make sure Xander didn’t fall on his own sword. “Damn, pet. Bloody watch what you’re doin’!”

“Sorry, I just ... well, I got spooked. It’s stupid of me but ... oh, hell.” Xander ran a hand through his bangs. “Ask Master Bruce about it. I don’t understand it. He says I got a PD, and it’s triggered by authority figures. Change the subject. Can I have the gladius?”

Spike glanced at Master Bruce, he already knew what a Psychological Dominance was, and Xander having one explained a lot of things. And he knew how Xander had gotten it. His father had beaten it into him with a belt.

“Yes, pet, you can have the gladius. I’ll get you a better one later, and a better sword too. For now just work on your skills. Meet me in my office after you’re through here. I want to talk to you about your debut at court. First impressions and all that.”

Xander couldn’t help a small whimpering sound. Spike kept his tongue firmly between his teeth.


Xander winced as he sat down. The butt plug wasn’t even remotely comfortable. Timmins had used the next size up and it was jabbing Xander where he didn’t want it to. And he wasn’t even faintly aroused by it.

“Got a problem there, pet? Somethin’ I can do?”

Xander shook his head. “No. I’m fine. Just a little ... er ... never mind. You wanted to talk to me? What about?”

“We need to finish up some stuff before you go to court. You said you were going to write up a contract. I want to read it. Where is it?”

Xander shuddered slightly. “I wrote it up right after we talked about it but ... I can’t seem to make myself bring it to you. I don’t understand it. It’s all in my computer and even printed out. But ...” Xander shrugged irritably.

Spike nodded more to himself that to Xander. “Ok. I think I know what’s wrong.” He used his Master voice to command Xander. “Bring me your contract. Now.” Xander gave Spike a startled look then hurried from the room.

He returned seconds later with six printed sheets and handed them to Spike. Spike settled to read them without comment. Xander thought to himself that Spike looked ‘smart’ in his glasses, in more ways than one.

Spike read carefully and realized that Xander was being reasonable in his demands. No drawing blood. No body mods, other than piercing of ears. No humiliation. (Spike had a feeling that was a real biggy and that it could cause some problems.) The list was fairly short and only covered two pages, double space. It didn’t contain anything that Spike couldn’t live with.

The next two pages were what Xander would do for Spike. Spike blinked slowly at the list. It included, body guard, body servant, sex toy, general translator, carpenter, and general contractor. He was, frankly, startled at the whole thing. There wasn’t a thing he could object to.

The last two pages were simply the signature page and the witness statement page.

Spike pulled out a pen, mumbled something about ‘bloody ball points’ and signed on the line bearing his name. Xander signed on his line and handed the whole thing back to Spike. Spike called Timmins in and had him sign as one witness and asked him to find two more. It only took him a moment to return with two men who had obviously been waiting in the hall.

Xander nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the first man. Spike had to admit that he looked astonishingly like Tony Harris, except for the lack of a beer gut and blood shot eyes.

Xander recovered quickly and settled to watch him sign the paper. The next man was a vampire and he resembled Tony as well. Xander glared at Spike who just raised an eyebrow and started folding the papers.

“Now that that’s done. On to the next bit of business, which is your appearance in court.”

Xander just gazed at him with the blandest expression on his face. Spike gazed back for a moment then just told Xander that he expected him to show up in a proper dress with an attitude befitting a thrall of a High Master Vampire. And no stunts. Xander just nodded said, “got it in one” and left. Leaving Spike to worry that the stupid boy would cause some kind of trouble. Then he’d have to punish him which would, naturally, include the humiliation of being bare ass in front of the court. Spike sighed, juggling the demands of his court and caring for Xander was beginning to get on his nerves. He decided, if he had to chose it would probably be Xander by a very wide margin, then he realized it would be Xander, no probably about it. “Fuck!”


Xander bent over the bathroom counter and gritted his teeth. Timmins waited until Xander nodded then he spit on his finger and carefully pushed it into Xander’s anus. Xander stiffened, his shoulders hunched.

“I’m sorry, young master. I don’t know what else to do. I’m sorry it hurts.”

Xander shrugged. “I doesn’t really hurt. But it’s really uncomfortable. Maybe more spit?” Timmins obediently spit on his fingers again and inserted two fingers, carefully levering them apart to stretch the uncooperative muscles as much as he could. He didn’t like this at all but the one time he’d refused he’d come into Xander’s study to find him sitting at his desk in tears. The stubborn boy had tried to put the plug in himself and hurt himself rather badly. So now Timmins did the best he could.

Xander groaned and snarked. “Hey, centuries old vampire valet, I thought you would know more about this kind of shit.”

Timmins didn’t even flick an eye lash as he finally inserted the plug. “I’m sorry. My Sire was a homophobe of raging proportions. After he got dusty, I never rose in the ranks enough to attract anyone’s attention. I’m afraid I’m woefully ignorant. I’m truly sorry.”

Xander apologized as he straightened up carefully. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t be snapping at you.” Timmins just offered to help Xander get dressed. Neither one of them thought to check the internet for information.


Xander settled gingerly at his desk and picked up the small pile of messages that his secretary had left. He was still a little puzzled as to how he’d managed to get a secretary. He eyed the hand written notes and sighed, he was tired and the writing was crawling around like angle worms. He buzzed for whatever-her-name-was and told her, for the third time, not to take messages but to let the answering machine pick up.

“But sir, part of having a secretary is, she answers the phone and takes a personal message, so that, if something isn’t clear she can ask questions.”

Xander contained the impulse to snap with an effort. “Yes, and another part of the having of a secretary is she does what she’s told to. Ok? I don’t want to get nasty but I can’t read this. I ... just let the machine pick up. Please! And what the hell is your name.” The woman looked a bit startled. “It’s Marie, sir.” Xander wriggled, absently trying to get comfortable. “Are you all right, sir? Should I get Master Spike?”

Xander shook his head. “No. I’m fine. Come here and read this to me. I can’t make heads or tails of it.”

Marie took the message and read it to Xander. It was a request for a consultation on an Egyptian text. A rubbing of a carved incantation taken from a temple wall. Xander grunted, thinking.

“Who’s it from?”

“Um ... a Mister Rupert Giles. Shall I make him an appointment?”

Xander jumped like he’d been smacked, groaned as the plug jabbed at him then shook his head. “No! No, I don’t think so. Tell him to send a clear copy and I’ll look at it. And don’t tell him my name. I don’t want the ... never mind. Never give out my name, just tell anyone who asks that I’m a recluse, or a hermit, or a nut. I don’t care. Ok. On to the next one.”

So Marie read all the messages to Xander then watched as his face fell. She felt so bad for the handsome young man.

“If there’s someone special that you’re looking for a message from you should tell me. That way if they call, and I’ll remember that you don’t what me to answer the phone, but if I hear their name I’ll be able to tell you that they called at once and you can call them right back.”

Xander gave her the names of all the Scoobies and Riley and Anya as well. Marie wrote them all in her notebook and vowed that the minute any of them called Xander would get a heads up. After she tore a strip off them, in a perfectly secretarial way, of course.

So Xander settled down to do a few simple translations, and not for free either. He charged by age of manuscript, clarity of copy (whether it was an actual copy or an original.) and language; by the word. The older the manuscript, the less clear the print and the more obscure the language; the more expensive it was. He was still trying to figure out how his name got around. He mumbled, ‘word of mouth is a bitch.’ and started sorting his jobs.

He glared at one in particular. This one was going to cost, big time. It was in an obscure Latin, very old, in terrible shape and it stank, literally. It was on a scraped skin of some kind, but he wasn’t sure exactly what kind. It was rotting, or molding, Xander wasn’t quite sure which. He hated doing Latin it was too much like English. The letters crawled around and some words looked so much alike that it was a pain to figure out which was what. He settled down to work it out quickly. This one was going to cost, big time.

After two hours of steady work Xander wasn’t more than half done with the parchment and his head was starting to ache. He put the stinking thing aside and decided to work on something else. As he shuffled through the pile, he sneezed.

“Here! What’s this? You gettin’ sick?”

Spike strode into the room, heels tapping sharply on the carpeted floor. Xander smiled up at him.

“No, just a sneeze or two. This parchment stinks. And it might be moldy too. See?”

Xander held the parchment out to Spike who took it by one corner and eyed it with some disgust. “Human skin parchment,” Spike made a face. “never holds up well. And this one is really deteriorating. Old Latin, Russian dialect. Coptic symbology? This thing is a mess. Send it back to whoever cursed you with it.”

Xander shrugged. “I’m almost done with it. I ... don’t want to spoil my reputation. You know?”

Spike did but he didn’t want Xander messing with anything written on human skin.

“I do know. But ... I’m tellin’ ya, send it back. Just tell whoever sent it that your master doesn’t want you messin’ in with that sort of filth. And tell them, him, or it, that you belong to me and you do what I tell ya to. Makes it easier all way around.” Xander opened his mouth, but Spike cut him off. “Obey me! I mean it.”

Xander said rather sullenly, “I was only going to thank you for getting me off the hook without ruining my reputation. Grouch.”

Spike slithered around Xander’s desk and pulled him out of his chair, putting an arm around him Spike chucked him under the chin, making him look up. “Sorry, pet. But you ‘ave to admit you’re a regular pit bull for argument. You’re welcome.” Spike didn’t allow Xander the chance to duck out of the way. He gripped Xander’s chin firmly and kissed him full on the mouth.

Xander felt his mind fluttering around like a chicken with its head cut off. Spike kissed like only a hundred and something vampire could. Xander knew most of his blood was not in his head, not the upper one at any rate.

“Oh, um, holy. Spike. Wow. Kissage from Spike. Not what I expected ... I mean ... wow! Just oh my fucking god wow!” Xander pulled back a little and gazed at Spike for a second then he just put his head on Spike’s shoulder and sighed. “Nice.”

Spike rubbed his back for a moment feeling how stiff his back muscles were. “I’m not askin’ what’s goin’ on, I’m just tellin’ ya. If you’re hurtin’ yourself for some reason, I’m gonna take a cane to ya. Got me?”

Xander, still dazed from the force of his emotions, all caused by kissing Spike, just nodded absently and wondered if he could persuade Spike to kiss him again anytime soon.

Spike settled Xander back at his desk and left. As he walked out the door, he touched his tongue to his lower lip, tasting Xander again. He tasted of coffee and cinnamon.


Spike settled on his ‘throne’ with a soft grunt. This was going to be difficult in the extreme. He’d ordered Xander to make his appearance today and Xander had just nodded, announcing that he was ready. But when Spike had gone to collect him, Timmins told him that Xander wasn’t quite ready yet and would he mind if Xander presented himself at court after the opening ceremony.

Since the opening ceremony was just the announcement of all his, worthless to him, titles, Spike said he didn’t see why not. So he was sitting on this hard, stupid looking chair listening to his lineage.

“Behold, your master. Childe of Drusilla, who is childe of Angelus, who is childe of Darla, who was childe of Heinrich, who was childe of ...” Spike stopped listening, the herald was going to go clear back to Aurelius, he yawned. “High Master of the line of Aurelius, First of the line, Master of the Order of Taraka, Master of the Hellmouth. All grovel before him.”

Spike waited as everyone in the room bowed. “All right. Enough of that shite, let’s get down to business. Who’s first?”

Spike dealt with several minor differences of opinion, one by yanking the tongue out of the mouth of the one in the wrong. He wouldn’t shut up so Spike shut him up.

When he called for the next petitioner, he got a demon who wanted to know when they got to see his ‘pet/thrall’. The demon implied that there was no such person. Spike wanted to gut him then go smack Xander. The boy was supposed to be there.

A shuffling of feet caught everyone’s attention. Suddenly there was a ripple through the crowd as they made way for a cloaked figure.

The figure walked down the open aisle, Spike heard the soft rattle of chain against concrete. The cloak covered the figure from the top of its hooded head to the floor. It walked slowly right to the foot of the dais where Spike was seated. Spike watched in silence.

Timmins stepped from somewhere nearby and went to the cloaked figure. He reached up and opened the clasp then pushed the cloak from the figure's shoulders letting it drop to the floor.

Spike nearly bit his tongue. The figure was Xander.

Xander was wearing nothing more that some straps and chain. He was wearing a collar around his neck with a leash looped over his back. His arms were restrained behind him in a traditional box, each wrist bound to the opposite elbow. A chain dropped from the collar to a big ring centered in Xander’s breastbone. Straps went over each shoulder from there and a single strap to the belt around his waist. The soft rattling sound had been the leg irons. His ankles were wrapped in studded leather cuffs, heavily padded and connected with a glittering diamond cut steel chain. But the thing that made Spike do a definite double take was the chastity pouch. He knew damn good and well the only way one of those fit properly was with a butt plug. Suddenly Xander’s wriggling and groaning made sense.

Xander bowed slightly from the waist but he didn’t take his eyes off Spike for a second. His challenging look put Spike on notice that he’d better take this seriously. He did, so he just sat waiting for Xander to make his next move.

Xander walked forward, chains rattling. He knelt at the base of the dais and bowed his head. “Master, I present myself.”

Spike looked at Xander’s bowed head for a second. Then a demon stepped out of the crowd, unfastening his pants. “Goody, I get first shot, always wanted a taste of human.” Xander shuddered slightly. He didn’t want his first experience to be some strange demon.

Spike moved so fast that Xander felt the breeze across his back. Spike stopped the demon with a quick gesture. “First ya have ta prove you’re worthy. Lemme see.”

The demon dropped his pants and Spike took things in his own hands. He pulled the demons genitals off and stuffed them in his mouth. “Any one else? See, I know how it’s supposed to go and my court will be run on the proper traditions. You keep your hands off what’s mine. If others want to share, that’s their malfunction. Xander! On that cushion.”

Xander stood up using only his thigh muscles and his new found sense of balance. He managed the step with a minimum of fuss and settled on his knees on a thick cushion, called a zabuton. Spike returned to the huge chair. He glared around until every demon and vampire in the room found somewhere to look that wasn’t at Xander.

“Next. I posted the rules for court days ago. Anyone who can’t read should have gotten someone to read them by now. Any questions?”

A demon hesitantly held up one hand, Spike just nodded to him. “Is that the human who built the dormitory?” at Spike’s nod the demon seemed satisfied, bowing and returning to his place. The rest of the room looked at Xander with interest, but carefully so as not to annoy Spike.


Xander sat on his cushion and watched and listened. Spike heard grievances from the mundane and even silly to arguments that could tear Sunnydale apart despite Buffy’s best efforts. He realized that what Buffy was for was to keep the resident population of idiot demons under control and to avert the occasional apocalypse. Not an easy job, but an impossible one without Spike’s behind the scene manipulations.


Spike realized that Xander was getting extremely tired. He’d maintained an up kneel position for an hour. When Spike realized that he was beginning to tremble, he’d had Xander kneel back on his heels. Now Xander was starting to sweat, so Spike pulled him into a sideways kneel, usually referred to as the mermaid, and patted him into place with his head on his thigh. Spike liked the feel of the boy’s head resting there. He ran his fingers through Xander’s hair and shifted so that Xander’s shoulder wasn’t pressed into the edge of the arm. “We’ll be done in a little bit, pet. Then I’ll help you out of that kit. Just relax. You done good.” Xander rubbed his cheek on Spike’s jean clad leg and relaxed.

Spike petted Xander’s hair for the rest of the session, feeling his relaxation and reveling in the knowledge that the ‘whelp’ trusted him enough to walk into a master vampire’s court bound hand and foot. He wasn’t about to let the man down.

Part Fourteen

Spike finally called a halt to the court session. He didn’t expect or get any argument.

Xander was grateful for the hand Spike tucked under his elbow. He didn’t think he was going to get to his feet without it.

"Hang in there, pet. We’ll be in the back hall in a mo’."

When they entered the hall, Spike just scooped Xander up and flipped him over one shoulder. He headed for their quarters at a fast walk, trying to keep his stride as smooth as possible. Xander just relaxed and let his head hang. He wanted in their quarters and out of the harness as soon as possible. The stiff black leather was digging into some seriously tender spots.

Spike kept up a constant flow of small talk as he walked. "You did so good, pet. I’m really proud of ya. Ya smelled of fear once, when that demon tried ta touch ya. Knew I wouldn’t let him, didn’t ya? No one touches what’s mine. Now, we’re almost home. Don’t wriggle like that."

Xander subsided as he realized that they were only in the living room and he wasn’t going to be put down until they were in the bathroom or he missed his guess. He was right. Spike didn’t put him down until they were in the middle of the bathroom.

Spike steadied Xander then started stripping the harness off him. Xander let out a sigh of relief when Spike removed the collar. It had an odd length between the holes, or Xander had a thick neck. Anyway, it was either too tight or too loose, and they’d decided on too tight for various reasons.

When Spike saw the marks the collar had made, he snarled softly. "Collar was too tight. And this ..." he plucked at the chest harness, "is way too stiff. Should have worked it."

Xander just groaned in relief as Spike stripped off the last of the harness except for the chastity belt. That was going to take a little more care.

Spike unbuckled the belt and gently pulled the leather away from Xander’s skin; he was chafed under the waist belt. Xander whimpered a bit. It hurt when the air hit it. Then Spike realized that Xander was wearing the chastity cup wrong. He started swearing and didn’t stop until he had eased the sheath off Xander’s penis, which was swollen, engorged and raw. Xander sighed in relief as the leather parted and fell away.

"Turn around, you stupid git, and let me get that plug out of you." Spike got a good look at Xander’s anus and just gritted his teeth for a moment. "You bloody great wanker! You never heard of lube? What have you done to yourself?"

Xander just hung his head wearily. "Um ... not gay here. I have no idea what you’re talking about."

Spike breathed in then out, took a deep breath and blasted Xander. "What the bloody fuckin’ hell are ... do you think you’re doin’? Why didn’t ya come to me? This is ... I don’t ... damn!"

Xander bit his lip. He wanted to turn around and face Spike, but he knew that if he did it would hurt. He’d made that mistake early on. So he just leaned on the counter and waited for Spike to run down.

When he did, Spike carefully eased the plug from Xander and examined the damage.

"Well, it’s not too bad, although I’m sure it feels worse. Idjit boy. You should have come to me."

"How am I supposed to come to you when it was supposed to be a surprise? And quit calling me an idjit." Xander started to work on a full on sulk.

Spike just patted Xander on the small of his back. "I’m sorry. Hold still an’ I’ll make you feel better."

Xander turned around, covering his backside with both hands. "No! Um ... thanks ... I mean, thanks but no thanks. I think I’ll just let it heal on its own. Making me feel better won’t ... I’d rather not ... at least I don’t think ..." Xander got a good look at Spike’s face; his eyes held a definite tinge of yellow. "Ok, shutting up now."

Spike took Xander by one arm and turned him around firmly, pushing him back to the counter. "Bend, dammit."

Xander bent, grumbling. Spike reached up to a shelf and took down the pot of salve that the healer had given him for Xander’s infected wound. He dipped his finger into it and dabbed some onto Xander’s irritated opening. He worked it in, letting the slick salve do its work. Xander sighed softly. Spike took the opportunity to add a little more salve and ease one finger slightly into Xander’s resisting body.

Xander whimpered again. "Easy. I’m really sore."

"You’re raw. What did you use, if you didn’t use lube?"


Spike’s explosive ‘Fuck!’ brought an unexpected result.

"No! Not yet! I’m ... I mean ..." Xander stuttered to a halt at Spike’s rather wide eyed look. "Please. I know we’ll do it sooner or later but later, please. I know I won’t enjoy it, but I’d really rather it didn’t hurt."

Spike physically shut Xander up by putting a hand over his mouth. "Yeah, bloody well right. I don’t want to hurt ya either. Sex shouldn’t hurt, unless you like that sort of thing. An’ your first time should be somethin’ special. Not a quickie, knock boots an’ go. When I take you for the first time, you’ll be beggin’ for it. And I’ll make sure you like it. Now calm down."

Xander calmed himself as best he could. He knew by now that Spike meant what he said. The man had been a wimp and the vampire was amoral, but his word was cast in adamantine. Absolutely unbreakable. And Spike said he would never harm Xander. Xander knew that didn’t mean that Spike wouldn’t hurt him, but that was an entirely different thing.

Spike turned Xander around for the third time and eased his finger back into him. Xander whimpered a little but held still; he was starting not to hurt quite so much. Spike gently ran the pad of his finger over a little something called a prostate gland. Xander’s knees buckled and he nearly hit his head on the edge of the counter. Spike laughed gently, "Come on, pet. Let’s get you into bed." Xander let Spike lead him into the bedroom and nudge him into the bed. He lay down and obediently settled on his stomach. Spike spread his cheeks and examined him again.

"What are you doing?" Xander started to tense and earned himself a smack on the butt.

"I’m lookin’ to see how much damage you’ve really done." Spike shook his head at the results of his examination. "Not that much, but you’ve really made yourself sore. Do you remember what I told you?"

Xander nodded against the pillow. "Yeah, you said if I did myself any damage you’d cane me. Um ... I’ve never been caned before. Does it hurt a lot? Not that I’m a big baby or anything. I’ll take my punishment like a man ... I hope. But I could do better if I knew what to expect."

Spike gritted his teeth. Trust the boy to remember the bad and expect worse. "I will cane you because I said I would, but I’m not gonna cut you, or leave you so bad off you can’t sit. I remember one of my professors. He was fond of hickory. He’d take the skin right off, then make me sit and write lines. Not pleasant at all. And I didn’t learn a damn thing except to hate him. I’ll do better by you. Now, be still, relax and let me fix this."

"Ok." Xander had the Scooby skill of managing several threads of thought at one time, so when he returned to a previous subject Spike wasn’t surprised. "Um ... what did you do to me? That was ... something else. I ... think I liked it, but not too sure because with the knee buckling and the stars dancing and ... could you do it again? Just so I’ll be sure because not with the sure but I think it’s good but not so straight with the finger in my ass and what ... the plug thing didn’t feel like that it felt damn uncomfortable and very not good in a really bad sort of way only Timmins tried he did I swear so don’t go getting on him. Ok?"

Spike took a minute to unravel this convoluted example of Scooby speak. "No, pet. I’m not going to punish him. But I’m definitely havin’ the lube is good talk." Spike took another moment to mentally kick himself for that particular bit of SS. "Dammit, now you’ve got me talking like a SoCal boy. I’m gonna get you for that."

Xander smiled into the pillow. "Looks to me like you’ve already got me. Where you want me, even. Can we get on with whatever this is going to turn out to be? And when do I get punished? Not that I’m eager or anything, but better over and done as quick as possible--the anticipation is worse than the beating--so ... what next?"

"Next, this." Spike slipped his finger back into Xander and ran it over his prostate again.

Xander bucked up once then settled back on the bed. Spike was very careful not to startle Xander; he didn’t want the boy bucking again as he might hurt himself. Xander began to whimper softly as Spike continued to massage his prostate, urging him toward what, he wasn’t sure. But he was sure he wanted it.

When Xander was humping the bed rhythmically, Spike slid his other hand, lubed with the healing cream, under him and began stroking Xander’s swollen member, careful to telegraph every move. Xander let out a low moan and stilled, trembling. Spike knew that it wasn’t going to be long before Xander came. When he did it was silent, just an increase of Xander’s trembling then a few jerks. Spike resolved that, if he ever got the chip out of his head, he was going to make Tony Harris one very unhappy man.

"Liked that, did ya? Felt good, didn’t it?"

Xander managed a few semi-coherent grunts, then he rolled over with a grimace. "Yuck! Now we have to change the bed. I think Timmins is going to be pissed. We ruined the coverlet. But, on the other hand, can we do that again? I really, really liked it. A lot. Does that make me gay? Or should I really care? And need I say ... wow! Very much with the wow. Thank you."

Spike just smirked at Xander, yanked the coverlet off the bed and tossed it on the floor. "Timmins won’t say a word, even if we did ruin that damn thing. It’s mine to do what I want with. If I want ya ta come all over it, you will. Now, rest. I’ve got some stuff to do."

Xander started to say something but Spike snapped a hand up in a stop gesture and Xander subsided. He didn’t want Spike to remember that he was due a punishment, not just now. He wanted to bask in the afterglow of his orgasm, so instead he just nodded and settled back in the bed. Spike covered him with a quilt and left.

Xander pulled the quilt up to his chin then smiled as he recognized one of his Grammy’s quilts. He settled down and fell asleep almost at once.


Spike found Timmins and had a few words with him, which included ‘lube’ and a smack on the back of the head that would have crushed the skull of a human. Timmins just grumbled ‘ow’ and asked for the evening off. Spike told him to drop by the store and get some K-Y Jelly on the way back from wherever it was he was going. Timmins just bowed and said he’d do that.

Spike sighed in frustration; his boy was backsliding something awful. He’d finally gotten Xander to drop the Scooby Speak but now he was back to babbling again. And he’d earned a punishment on top of that. He’d hurt himself after Spike had carefully cautioned him about that. Spike rubbed at his forehead and vamped. He was going to have to think hard to figure out how to punish Xander without doing him harm. He grumbled crossly, "bastard ol’ man. Like ta bite him, I would."

Spike wondered idly where Timmins was going then turned to other concerns. Like a pile of paperwork that made him growl.


First Timmins dropped by a sex shop and flat out asked the clerk what he should buy. The clerk was a Dilmona demon so he knew better than to laugh; he just handed Timmins a selection of samples of lubes packaged as a gift basket along with a vibrator. Timmins made arrangements to have it delivered.

Then he dug the list Xander had given him out of his inner breast pocket and consulted the directions printed on the top. He wondered vaguely why every note Xander gave him was printed from a computer, then dismissed the niggling worry in favor of finding the electronic parts Xander wanted.

He went to Radio Shack and handed the note to the clerk. The clerk was one of those geeky types that always wind up in places like that. Timmins waited patiently as the boy pulled the parts for him as he had admitted that he had no idea at all what any of them were or where to find them.

"Well, that’s the lot. I’d just like to know what you need with a variable frequency–intensity electro-magnet that size. People call me weird. You want this delivered? ... Of course you do. Can’t carry that pile of stuff in a shopping bag. Address?"

Timmins gave the address to the clerk and walked out the door, satisfied that he’d gotten what Young Master Xander wanted. He never thought of Xander as other than Young Master, even though Xander wasn’t a vampire.

Timmins shook his head, dropped into game face and opened a manhole. He dropped through the hole and carefully oriented himself.

It didn’t take him long to get to the Harris household. It took just a moment longer to get in.

All he had to do was ring the door bell.

Jessica Harris opened the door to the nice looking, British sounding man who had smiled hopefully and asked to use the phone, the very nice man who told her she was beautiful, though she was tired and needed to sleep.

Timmins lowered Jessica onto her bed and sniffed in disdain. The smell of cheap wine covered her like a cloak. She snuffled in her sleep and rubbed her nose with the back of one hand. Timmins sneered genteelly. How this frowzy bag could have produced a man as fine as Xander was totally beyond him. He turned to look for Tony. He was easy to find.

All Timmins had to do was walk back down the stairs. Tony Harris was standing right in the dining room doorway, blinking at Timmins like a drunken bullfrog.

Timmins bowed slightly and announced, "I’m here to extract retribution on behalf of Master Spike and Young Master Alexander. You’ll strip, please."

Tony swelled up like the aforementioned frog and refused. Timmins insisted calmly. Tony got nasty. Timmins got nastier. It didn’t take him long to get Tony stripped down and bent over the back of the couch.

"Now, stay there. I’ll break something if I have to, but it would be better to avoid that particular unpleasantness. I know you’re wondering what this is all about, so I’ll tell you. You nearly ruined your own son. My father was a valet, as was his father before him and his before him. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what that has to do with anything.

"I was taught to be loyal to my master and I was, until he was dust. Now I have a new master and he has a pet--one that it’s taking a long time to retrain. Your training ... was revolting. So I’m going to take it out of your miserable hide, until Master Spike can get around to you. Then ... well, I wouldn’t want to be you.

"I do believe he might even turn you. Just so he can spend several years torturing you, for the fun of it, you know." Timmins removed his belt. "Time to get on with it."

Tony blubbered and bawled, begged and screamed. Timmins delivered twenty hard lashes with the belt, put it back on and vamped right in Tony’s face.

"It will please you to know that your son is loved by The Master of The Hellmouth and treasured beyond all measure. Or not. Goodbye." Timmins turned to go. "Oh, you might want to put some ice on that. Or sit on some." Timmins snickered at his own little joke and left the house.


Buffy grumbled softly; Giles was going bat shit on her. He was still researching the incursion of the newest oogity-boogity, an insect this time. It was nearly six somethings long. But Giles couldn’t figure out what the somethings were. He’d sent the scroll to the new translator in town, who’d sent it back as it was written on human skin. Buffy wrinkled her nose, thinking ‘Eeeewww!’

"Giles, you want me to go to the translator and ... um ... convince him to do the job? I will." Giles gave Buffy a sharp look. "Oh, get a grip. I won’t actually hurt the ... whatever ... I’ll just scare it a bit."

Giles shook his head. "No, Buffy, that won’t be necessary. He is human, by the way. And a member of the Master of the Hellmouth’s court. We need to make contact with him--the Master, that is-- and try to do the pretty. We’re allies, of sorts. He won’t bother us if we don’t bother him. His role is to keep the better demon elements under control. We can’t alienate him. It’ll just make your job twice as hard."

Buffy nodded rather grumpily. They'd had a long talk and Giles had filled Buffy in on some things that slayers weren’t usually told. She’d been a bit shocked but gotten her head around the idea rather quickly. In fact she’d remarked, ‘Well, gee, now I feel so much better. I’m just a glorified cop, only for drunken demons instead of, well, shit." She’d gone on a long run then come back to say, "Ok, all better now. In fact, kinda relieved. I’m not up against the entire demon world, just the bad element. Not good, but better than it was. Now, who do I kill this week?" Giles had just shaken his head and started researching.

Willow and Tara had taken the news with ease. It seemed that Tara had filled Willow in on that particular bit of news months ago. Willow just grumped, "I was wondering when you were going to fess up. I suppose the Council of Wankers will have a spaz when they find out that you tattled on them."

Giles had winced a bit; Willow must have been listening to him on the phone. He had finally told the Council that they could take their old-fashioned attitude and Bugger Off. So, while they didn’t have the Council looming over them every moment, he’d lost some of his resources, although they couldn’t cut off the money anymore. Buffy had seen to that when she’d confronted Chambers the last time. Giles smiled in remembrance--retroactive pay for over a year! He’d set up a retirement plan, one that went to Buffy if she should survive him.

"Now, I need a book. Willow, I think it was scanned into the Council database. See if you can find it for me."

Willow nodded and started typing. Tara had replaced Xander as donut getter and was busily making coffee.

Giles was still trying to figure out how big the insects were. One resource said that they were six minimus long, but he couldn’t find out how long a minimus was. Another source showed a scarab like insect with a man drawn near it. The bug was as tall as the man and three times as long as the image was tall. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. If that was the size comparison, it was at least six feet tall and twelve to fifteen feet long. He was not happy.

"Buffy, we’re going to have to go to the court and beg the Master of the Hellmouth to allow his translator to do this job. Please ... let me do the talking. I’ll see if I can’t make arrangements. And have any of you girls heard from Xander? I left a message and got an answer back. He’s not taking calls from me until further notice. I didn’t like the tone of voice the secretary used."

Buffy winced while Tara gazed accusingly at a very red Willow.

"Well, I was going to call him yesterday but I found out I have a test tomorrow and I had to start studying for it." Buffy had the good grace to look embarrassed.

Tara just sighed, "Willow, w-w-w-a-a ..." Willow patted her on the shoulder and took up the explanation.

"I was going to call him last week but ... well ... I forgot. And then ... I’m not sure what his number is anymore. He’s with ... Spike now. And it’s just too freaky and it’s all my fault and I just ... he’ll give me the Xander eyes of doom and I hate that and I feel so bad and ... it’s Spike!"

Giles gave Buffy his Watcher look and said firmly, "I have the number. You’ll all three call him no later than tomorrow at three p.m.. Or else. Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?"

Three heads nodded vigorously and Giles went back to trying to finish his translation. The scroll did smell rather rank.


Xander woke up and stretched carefully, then relaxed. He wasn’t sore or stiff. He sighed and scrambled out of the bed. He wasn’t about to lay there wondering when Spike was going to come for him. He knew from personal experience that that would just make the punishment worse. So when Spike looked up at him he just gulped and charged his fence. "I’m here. You said ... I wish ... damn. I’m starting again." Xander took a deep breath and opened his mouth. Spike just shook his head.

"Never mind, pet. You smell of fear and I know what you want. I’m not going to beat you half to death or humiliate you ... much. You do realize that most punishments are humiliating just by their very nature?"

Xander was easily sidetracked. "I meant ... um ... no kissing your ... un ... or ... you know ... no making me eat worms or something. No, just no. You know?"

Spike found that he did. Xander didn’t want to be put on display or have to service someone other than Spike. There were other humiliating things, like licking Spike's boots, that were also out of bounds. Spike realized that Xander was relatively accepting, a thing that never ceased to amaze him. Once the stubborn git had made up his mind to do something, he was like an irresistible force of nature.

"Yeah, pet, I think I get it. Now ... your punishment. I said I’d cane ya good, an' I will. But you don’t have to worry about me cuttin’ ya. And I’m not gonna cane ya harder than I was caned by some of my professors ... when I was human." Spike got up and walked around the desk. He gathered Xander’s hands into his and patted them gently. "Now, I’m gonna tie ya. I don’t want ya puttin' a hand behind yourself. It’s almost instinctual but it’s no good, won’t help much and might break one of the little bones in your hand."

Xander watched as Spike tied his wrists together with a silk cord. "You mean a metacarpal? That’s not a good thing. I don’t like this. I’ll keep my hands out of the way, I swear. Ok? Please? Ok?"

Spike hardened his heart against Xander’s pleading chocolate eyes. It didn’t beat, so that puppy dog gaze didn’t hurt it, much.

"No, not takin’ a chance on breakin’ a finger. Now be a good boy and bend over the desk."

Xander blinked at Spike for a moment, then bent. Spike walked around the desk and pulled Xander’s bound hands to the edge of the desk and tied the silk cord to the drawer handle. Then he realized that he had made a small mistake. He’d forgotten to have Xander take down his trousers. Spike reached under Xander and started on his belt. Xander stiffened and tried to straighten up.

"What? No! Stop! I won’t ... it’s ..."

Spike pushed Xander back down, snapping, "Stay! I’m takin’ your pants down whether ya like it or not." Xander settled back on the desk.

"Sorry, I just freaked a little. I’ll be good. Spike?"

Spike just grunted as he was in the process of pulling Xander’s pants down to his knees and getting a good look at Xander’s tackle at the same time.

"Will it hurt a lot? I’ve never been caned before."

Spike straightened up. "Don’t think it’ll hurt as much as havin’ your dear daddy work ya over. At least I don’t intend it to. If it gets to be really too much, tell me. But no chickenin’ out, mind."

Xander froze for a split second. Spike was telling him that all he had to do was say it was too much? Ok?

Spike fetched the cane and bent it to make sure that it was in good shape. It wouldn’t do to have it split or splinter; that might cut Xander.

The first blow stung and made Xander jump, the second one was worse. After that Xander just counted in his head and went limp when his internal counter said ten. It really wasn’t that bad but Xander took a moment to make sure his breathing was even before he asked Spike to let him go. Spike untied Xander’s hands and gently rubbed the marks the cord had left. Xander just worked on controlling his breathing.

"Easy, pet. All over now, yeah? You’ll be ok in a mo’. Breathe easy." Xander nodded, cuddling up to Spike. Spike let him, with relief.

When Xander slid his arms around Spike’s waist, Spike relaxed. He rubbed up and down Xander’s back, then realized that Xander’s pants were still down around his thighs.

"Ya wanna take those off or pull ‘em up?" Xander reached down with one hand to pull his pants up. Spike released Xander and did it for him. "You all right with this? If it hurts too much, I’ll get Timmins to bring ya somethin’ more comfortable."

Xander eased the jeans up but decided he’d rather have sweats. Spike called Timmins to come and get Xander the sweats. Timmins didn’t answer.

"Well, bugger. I guess he’s not back from his outing yet. Come on. We’ll go to the bedroom and I’ll help ya with ‘em."

Xander followed Spike back to their quarters and readily allowed Spike to help him with the change of clothing. He knew that he wasn’t going to get any relief from his pain. What use was a punishment if it was eased away too soon?

After Xander was redressed and settled on his side on the couch in Spike’s office, Spike gave him another lecture on taking care of himself then asked, "Ya have any idea why I’m pissed at ya? From the look on your face, ya don’t."

Xander wriggled to get more comfortable. "Not really. I did what you asked of me. Without whining, I might add. So no, not a clue and I’d really appreciate one. Or several. I don’t like being caned. But I will admit it’s better than what my father would have done. And I’m not a coward ..."

Spike held up a hand. "You’re not. Physically or otherwise. Anyone who can stand up to Angelus is braver than they should be. Git. But you really messed up and I wanted to make sure I had your complete attention. You could have really hurt yourself and gotten Timmins dusted." Xander’s head jerked up. "Got you now? Good."

"When you shove a plug in unlubed, it’s real easy ta puncture your rectum. Not a good thing. Ya could bleed out before anyone, even a vampire, knew it. I’m proud of ya for wantin’ ta surprise me like that, but ya could at least have done some research on the ‘net. There’s a bunch of places that tell ya all sorts of information. Ya got that gear off the ‘net. Didn’t ya even think of lookin’ for info?"

Xander shook his head. "I guess I don’t think like that. All I’ve ever done is research on ancient languages, demons and shop. I’m sorry. Please don’t be mad at Timmins; he’s ... old enough that he doesn’t really understand the ‘net. Ok? Please?"

Spike shook his head. Xander wouldn’t even think of begging for mercy for himself but he instantly begged on behalf of someone else. He knew he had a treasure and he intended to keep him safe, even from himself.

"‘M not gonna punish Timmins. You're right, he wouldn’t have any way of knowing. But now that you’ve got the hint, no more surprises like that. Consult me about everything. I don’t want you wearing ill fitting harness or anything that will really hurt you. Understand?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah, I do. And ... thanks. I’m really kind of tired. Do you mind if I take a little nap?"

Spike shook his head and told Xander to go to sleep if he wanted to.


Xander woke about midnight, tried to roll over and realized that he was neatly pinned by Spike’s leg. He was surprised to realize that it didn’t bother him that much.

"You awake, pet?"

"Yeah, I just woke up. Um ... I need to roll over. And ... Spike?" Spike moved his leg so Xander could roll over on his side then mumbled, ‘What, pet?’"I was just thinking. You know, I wasn’t really thrilled about this thrall thing. But now not so bad, really."

"After unraveling that... Ok, why not so bad?"

Xander snuggled his nose into Spike’s neck and sighed. "You take good care of me. Even make me take care of myself. No one’s ever done that before. ‘S nice." Xander dozed back off, leaving Spike with the fervent desire to bite someone. Watcher, Slayer, Father or Best Friend, he didn’t much care. None of them had done justice by Xander.

Spike petted Xander’s hair and started to purr.


Next evening Spike dragged Xander out of bed, ignoring his grumbling. Xander was still having trouble getting used to waking at four in the afternoon instead of six in the morning.

Therefore, as Spike said, he was ‘Bloody pissy’ when he got up.

Xander dragged himself through a shower, washed his hair and rooted around in his closet to try to find something he wanted to wear. He wound up with a pair of jeans, t-shirt, flannel shirt and his old boots. He liked his boots; they were old and fit his feet comfortably.

Spike took one look at Xander and smiled. "Look good, pet. Those jeans fit ya a treat, and that t-shirt. Drool worthy, that is. But those boots have got to go. They’re all worn out."

Xander took the cup of cappuccino that Timmins handed him and took a gulp. Spike winced; he was never going to get used to Xander’s asbestos mouth. "Spike, I’m not in a good mood. I woke up again and couldn’t get back to sleep, no matter how hard I tried. And I got another translation request from Giles. Another one of his nasty, stinky parchments in some other bastard language. All about bugs." Xander finished his coffee and literally whined, "I wish he’d quit sending me that stuff. When I was around, he didn’t want me to have anything to do with it. Now that I’m on my own, he won’t go away. I duwanna do it. They stink and I hate bugs."

Spike just gathered an unresisting Xander into a hug and announced, "Tell your secretary not to put his calls through unless they’re personal. And stick to it. Tell her to refuse any request for translations that are on human parchment. Or anything moldy, or stinky. You’re in charge of what you translate and what you don’t. If you have trouble gettin’ any being ta leave ya alone, let me know. And chuck those damn boots."

Xander hugged back without protest. "Ok. Thanks. And leave my boots out of it. I like ‘em."

Spike snorted, "Go dry your hair; you’re drippin’ all over. Then we’ll go shoppin’. I’ll replace those boots with something better."

Xander decided that shopping sounded like fun. "Sure thing. Give me ten minutes."

Spike gave Xander five and was glad he did.

"Oi! Wot the bleedin’ ‘ell do ya thing you’re doin’? Bloody idjit git. Freeze!"

Xander froze, scissors in hand, one lock of hair pulled straight out from his scalp. He couldn’t have moved if his life depended on it. Spike took the scissors out of his hand and smacked them down on the counter.

"Toldja not to mess with it, didn’t I?"

Xander shook his head. "You told me not to butcher it. But it’s gettin’ in my eyes. Let me go."

Spike nodded. "Ok, unfreeze. And I’m sorry. Didn’t intend ta do that. But no cuttin’ your hair. If you need it trimmed, get Timmins to do it. I’ll do it this time. Here."

Spike wrapped a towel around Xander’s neck and proceeded to trim his bangs. He snipped off bits here and there, cutting off the offending locks. But he left the back long and only trimmed the bangs enough to get them out of Xander’s eyes.

Xander examined himself in the mirror. "It looks really good. I like it." Xander shuffled his feet and hung his head, peeking at Spike from under his newly trimmed bangs. "Will you cut it from now on? I like it. No one ever bothered before. I just hacked off what was hanging in my eyes and down my collar. Thanks."

Spike just dragged Xander out of the bathroom, calling Timmins to clean up his mess.

Timmins met them in the hall with a phone in his hand. "Call for Master Xander, sir. I’ll get right on it." He handed the phone to Xander and headed for the bathroom. Xander took the phone and said, "Hello?"

Xander listened for a few moments, then asked, "What are you telling me?" His face turned an alarming shade of red. "You mean to tell me that in order to get that four hundred thousand back..." Obviously interrupted, Xander listened some more. "What about my back pay and bonuses?" He listened again. "Ok, I see. Thank you. About that restraining order, I want a copy delivered to this address. I don’t consider myself served until I read it for myself. And I’ll have my lawyer look it over. Good-bye ... oh, and fuck you."

Xander punched the cut off button and threw the phone at the wall. It dissolved into shards.

Spike flinched as one pecked him on the cheek. He hurried to grab Xander and hold him as he flailed in fury. This was not good. Xander was a lot stronger than he’d been before he fell into Spike’s hands and he was a better than average martial artist, too.

"Easy, pet. Take it easy. I heard most of it. Wot the bleedin’ ‘ell are they thinkin’? I’m callin’ the legal johnies. Just sit down. TIMMINS!!" Spike’s bellow brought the valet at a run. "Get tea. Something herbal with cat mint and chamomile. Go!" Timmins scrambled out the door. "Now, tell me exactly what happened. I heard it all but I’m not sure exactly what some of that gobbledegook means."

Xander drew in a deep breath. "Ok. The lumber yard copped a plea ... made a deal with the PA ... prosecuting attorney. They pled guilty to a lesser charge and got off easy. They have to reimburse the company for the difference in prices, pay a fine and cancel the rest of their contract. In return, I’m out on my ass. I get let go without prejudice, I get my back pay and whatever bonuses I was promised ... and I intend to squeeze them like a lemon. Bastards. I’m not blackballed, but I’ll never work here again. Whistle blowers usually either get turned into heroes or out to pasture. I don’t like grass much. But here I am ... out to pasture. And they got a restraining order so I can’t even go to the site to visit my friends. I told them I wanted a copy of it here. They said I was served in absentia. That’s shit. They have to put a copy of it in my hand."

Spike sighed. "Well, that’s not exactly true. They only have to make sure you know that the order is in effect. It’s nice if you actually get a copy of it, but in this state not really necessary. But if there’s a copy comin’, I’ll have the solicitor look at it. Damn. Fuckin’ ... so you’re out of a job again. That so sucks."

Xander grinned a little at this example of his influence on his master, then winced. "Well, fuck. Spike? I’m gonna have a bunch of money coming in. You invested most of my other bonuses and money. Will you take care of this? And ... now that I’m through making a baby of myself, I want to go shopping."

Spike didn’t even blink at this rapid switch of emotions; Xander was very good at covering up. He decided to let it go this time. Xander didn’t need more upset just now. But he was also going to make sure that Xander faced this emotional upheaval soon.


Xander followed Spike into a tunnel that led from the forbidden fourth level. Spike cautioned Xander not to be down here for frivolous reasons, then led him into the tunnel. They walked for about twenty minutes then Xander gasped. There was a complete ‘open air’ market here. All kinds of demons, vampires and humans had booths of various sizes offering everything you could think of.

Spike led Xander from one booth to another, hoping to distract him from his lost job. It worked until they turned down one aisle and wound up in a second hand furniture booth.
The booth was really more of a store with quite a bit of very nice stuff. Xander was immediately attracted to some inlay. Spike decided to buy him whatever struck his fancy.

Xander picked through the pieces and set two aside. One was a very nice writing box/lap desk. The other was a large trunk. He ran his hand over the desk first, then turned to the trunk. When he tried to open it, it wouldn’t budge. The owner of the booth came over and told him that the key was long lost but the work was so fine that he didn’t have the heart to break it open.

Xander eyed it for a few moments, then turned to Spike with a doubtful expression. "I don’t know. The inlay is very nice. I could do something with it, maybe. What do you think?"
Spike settled down to double team the booth owner. "Not sure. What could you do with a box that won’t open?"

Xander motioned to the writing desk. "This is a nice piece. I think I’d like it for my own. But the trunk ... not sure ... I might be able to cut it up and make a couple of desks using that one for a pattern. But ... if I open it wrong, it’ll shatter into bits. Might not be worth the trouble."

The booth owner saw his sale slipping through his fingers and rushed to bargain. "That’s true. But, High Master, it’s such good work. It’s decorative just as it is."

Spike realized that most of the beings in the market recognized him. He preened a bit then got back to business.

"Not interested in useless objects of doubtful art. My boy might like it, I might buy it for him ... if the price is right. Make me an offer."

The booth owner winced visibly; having to make the first offer put him at a definite disadvantage. He couldn’t make too low an offer--they’d jump on it in an instant--but he couldn’t make too high an offer either. They might take umbrage and walk away. So he sweated for a while, hemmed and hawed and finally gave his true asking price.

Xander just shrugged. "I want the desk, but we can let that trunk go, easy as not. It’s not worth much as it is. I’ll either have to take the chance of breaking it to bits or saw the end off it. It’s just what you think it’s worth. I wouldn’t pay that much if it opened."

Spike ran his tongue over his teeth with a smirk. "You heard my boy. I’ll give you ... um ...’ Spike named a figure less than half what the merchant had asked. He grumbled and asked half again. Xander blinked slowly, "For both pieces."

Spike nodded. "Yeah. Both."

The merchant gave up. The twin beams of Spike’s blue gaze and Xander’s sharp brown glare was unnerving him. He agreed without a grumble. Xander silently cheered. He really wanted that trunk.

Spike arranged for the desk and trunk to be delivered and dragged Xander away to look at weapons and boots.

They didn’t find much in the way of weapons. Xander was more knowledgeable than Spike had expected but he was easily fooled by flash. Spike had to dissuade him from buying a tin glazed mild steel gladius because he liked the pommel. Xander pouted a bit but brightened when Spike dragged him to a leather booth.

Xander fingered the leather carefully. "Seems strong enough. I want a pair of elf boots."

Spike winced; pointy-toed footwear was not only cliche but inaccurate. No one really wore pointed toes outside of a harem. "You sure, pet?"

"Yeah, I saw some in the corner over there, and I really like them. Soft soles, good traction. If you make the soles out of the right sort of leather, there’s no problem with stepping on something and getting a stone bruise. And they’re really quiet. I’ve got to get an edge on Master Bruce. I’ve got another round of training coming up. Might as well, since I lost my job I’ve got plenty of time. I’m getting really good. You’ve seen. And I’m going to get better yet. I want my ten dan. Now, boots. Yes or no."

Spike caved with good grace. "As long as you’re not talking about those pointy-toed monstrosities ya see in movies, go for it."

So Xander picked out the leathers, got measured and led Spike out into the market again.

They wandered around for a while, watching the entertainments and poking into this and that.

Then it happened. Xander bumped into someone who turned out to be human and drunk. Spike stepped between them to try to reason the man out of a fight. He wasn’t about to expose Xander to the risks of an all out marketplace brawl. The human punched him in the face, knocking him down and splitting his lip. Xander straddled him and punched the man back. They were saved from any further embarrassment by the marketplace ‘peace enforcers’ arriving and removing the obviously belligerent human. Spike brushed the whole thing off as nothing then dragged Xander back to their home, snarling all the way.

Xander allowed himself to be dragged without protest. He realized that he was going to have to spring his second surprise sooner than he’d intended. He’d wanted to wait for Spike’s Re-Birthday.

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