Ulterior Motives


Part Fifteen

Xander tried to hide what he was doing and succeeded fairly well. Spike knew he was up to something but he also knew it was supposed to be a surprise for him. He had narrowed his eyes at Xander and announced, “Ok, pet. Remember wot I said.” Xander had told him he remembered.

Xander worked hard, he was used to working on the site for eight to ten hours a day, more with overtime. He started with the stairs down to the gardens. They were old and needed work. He wasn’t a welder but he could bolt the replacements together. After the stairs were replaced he started on the walkways.

Most of them were very well done, but some of them were a bit rickety. He pulled up all the access panels and examined everything under them. After he finished checking the construction and approving most of it, he sat down and started a ‘to-do’ list.

It was annoying that Spike absolutely refused to let him go down to the lower levels until he’d made sure that Xander had help. But Xander had to admit that what he was doing was dangerous, especially replacing the stairs.

This day was especially annoying as there was no one to help him until after noon. Xander told Spike the truth, he was going to go down to the garden level and enjoy it. He was also going to explore a bit.


Xander went out to his truck and opened one of the tool chests. He rummaged for a moment then found what he was looking for, his good nine-cell flashlight. He didn’t intend to go exploring in the nether regions of this place without it.

He went back through the main hall, past Spike’s office and into his own. He got a tablet and pencil, sticking them in a thigh pocket of his cargo pants, he told Timmins exactly where he was going to be, more or less. Timmins glanced up from his baking and nodded his understanding.

Xander clomped down the new stairs to the first landing and opened the door. He knew this level was unused as he’d poked around a little when they’d put in the staircase. Now he was going to take the time to explore thoroughly, alone.

He was going alone because every demon and vampire in the place seemed to think he was completely helpless and he was getting sick of it. He was going to have a talk with Master Bruce about working on his next level soon. Right now he was only interested in one thing. Snooping around.

He had to admit that he liked it, snooping. He opened doors, boxes, and trunks just to see what was in them. He’d found good things and some really freaky things. He should have been put off long ago but he wasn’t.

Xander opened the door and stepped into the musty dark, turned on the flashlight and started snooping.

The first thing he looked for was light switches. There should be some somewhere near the door. Or at least you would think so. Then he realized that the switches were probably at the other end of the hall. He sighed and headed in that direction.

The hall wasn’t very long so I didn’t take Xander long to reach the other end. He tried the light switches and was glad to find that they worked. He wondered at the stupidity of constructing a floor that had switches on the opposite end of a main hall from the entry point. After a little grumbling he realized that this end of the hall was probably meant to be the main entry. He decided to explore farther before he condemned the architect to the ranks of the terminally dumb.

He opened the door and carefully climbed the stairs to the upper level. He came out in the back of what turned out to be a 1920's full service gas station. He nearly drooled. One of the main features of the station was a floor to ceiling, curved glass block wall.

One end of the wall was anchored to the front windows, which were boarded up, the other was free, creating the alcove that sheltered the front door. The ceiling was a skylight.

Xander walked around envisioning the sunny room he was going to create out of the filling station. He could put in an orchardarium with a fountain and seating. He nearly squealed with delight but he was too manly. He had to laugh at himself. Damn it, he was High Master Spike’s thrall and he’d squeal if he wanted to. So he did, doing a Snoopy dance just because he could.

He spent an hour looking around then headed back for the stairs. As he walked, he heard a strange scratching noise from one of the side rooms. He decided to check it out, if there were rats, he’d send some of the minions to catch them. Spike hated rats and would have a fit if he saw one in their home.

Xander opened the door and sighed. “Fuck! Just what I need right now. Glowing, ball of light, bug hive thingy. Shit!”

Xander eyed the ball of light with an expression of mingled disgust and annoyance. He walked around it carefully. He didn’t touch it but he did step on every bug he could. After his walk around he knew enough to just step right on the orb and crush it. He wasn’t sure where it had come from but he knew that it was a simple portal that was controlled by a small glass orb ‘target’, crushing the glass was all that he needed to do to close the gate. He fished around in his tool belt until he found the can of roach spray he always carried. A quick spray proved that it worked so he sprayed it liberally, killing all the bugs in the room.

He checked the walls and splash guards around the edges of the room for escapees. There were none so he holstered his ‘weapon’ and went in search of Spike.


Spike was settled at his desk and frowning at a parchment when Xander walked in.

“Hey, what is that? Is it something for me?”

Spike handed the parchment to Xander who glanced at it and shook his head. “Not a chance. I don’t do ‘dark arts’. Whoever sent this is messing with some powerfully bad mojo. Send it back.”

Spike smirked his satisfaction at Xander. “Good boy. I’ll just nip that back to sender with a polite no.”

Xander snorted. “Don’t think I don’t recognize the G-man’s hand writing. I’ll send him a note. I’m not caving. If they can’t get in touch with me first, they’re not the friends I thought they were. Stick me with you, not that I mind, then don’t even think of all the nasty things you could be ordering me to do. I could be a sex slave in a demon whore house for all they really know.” Xander started pacing, waving his arms. Spike caught him before he got up a head of steam.

“Easy, pet. I’m on your side. You go write your letter to the Wanker and bring it back to me. I’ll make sure that he gets it. Scoot now.”

So, in all the excitement, Xander forgot about the glowing orb and the scarab beetles. Instead he turned his mind to writing Giles his refusal, in cuneiform and hieratic, just to stab home his point.


When he returned with the missive, Xander had to smile. Spike was sitting behind his desk wearing his glasses. He looked serious and handsome. Xander thought he looked more like an up and coming junior executive than a Master Vampire and the master of the Hellmouth.

“Here’s the note. You wanna read it go ahead.” Xander smirked.

Spike glanced at the note and snickered. “I’ll have you know that I can read hieratic ... with a lot of study. The cuneiform is beyond my skills. Here. You might like to read mine.”

Xander accepted the note, written in Latin and Greek. “Don’t do Latin. The letters crawl around too much. The Greek I can do. Give me a sec.”

Spike watched in amazement as Xander glanced over the Greek easily, frowned at the Latin but managed fairly well.

“You’ve really given him an ass reaming. Serves him right. I can’t help but think that he could have paid more attention to me. I don’t deserve it but ... I’m supposed to be a Scooby. He should have ... I’m not exactly sure what. But he could at least have looked at that spell before it was too late.”

Spike gathered Xander into his arms and shushed him. “Listen, pet. You do deserve it. You deserve to be treated with respect. You’re bloody brilliant. You read all three ancient Egyptian writings, cuneiform, several demon languages, Latin, Greek. What else?” Spike didn’t wait for an answer. “You’re smart, just not ... well educated. American educational system being what it is, I’m not surprised. So shut that.” Xander unashamedly cuddled with Spike for a moment then pulled away.

“Ok. So .... you know that Giles is going to have a thing if someone doesn’t translate that mess. Let me give it another quick look. I really want to see what it’s for. We might just want to keep it. Ya know?”

Spike thought for a moment as he pulled the text from its protective over sleeve. “Not thought of that. What if it’s some kind of spell to ... turn me into a shrimp or a bat or summat?”

Xander suddenly looked more like a vampire in a temper than anything else. “Not on my watch, they’re not. Now let me take a look.”

Xander held out his hand and Spike just handed the smelly thing over without comment. Xander settled at the edge of Spike’s desk and pulled a handy legal pad close. He wrote quickly, in shorthand, then handed the parchment and pad back to Spike.

“It’s a spell to find a locus. What’s a locus?”

“It’s a place that’s the focus of magic of some sort or other. In this case dark magics. Take dark to find dark. How easy is it going to be for the watcher and his little gang to translate that.”

Xander pulled at his lower lip for a moment. “Well ... Willow might manage with help from the net. Giles can for sure, but it’ll take him quite a while. He’ll have to use reference books.” Xander gave Spike a self-satisfied smirk. “Books that I’ve memorized. Give him three weeks and he’ll have a rough draft.” Xander got up. “Look, I’ve got a three day session with Master Bruce and ... “ Xander looked at Spike from under his bangs.

“Oi, out with it. What?” Spike gave Xander an exasperated and affectionate look that made Xander feel warm below the belt.

“Ok. I was exploring because I didn’t have any help. I don’t want my butt blistered for doing construction work without help. So, I found an old filling station. It’s got one of those great retro glass block walls, a sky light and the register counter is a great display case. I thought I could turn it into a small orchardarium and use the case to house African violets. The back room is nice too. Little office I could use as a garden office. And the bays are still functional. We do need a new hydraulic cylinder but that’s easy to come by. And I really want a place to work on my truck. I don’t trust Arnold to really do it right. And did I mention that my truck smells funny?”

Spike snorted. “If you want it, I’ll get it for you. You do up a plan and we’ll see what’s what. An’ if ya wanna work on your own truck, I’ll have one of the bays fixed up for you. You don’t work on that truck alone either. Don’t want the lift fallin’ on ya. Hear?”

Xander nodded. “I hear. You’re right. Now.” Xander glanced at his watch. “I’ll be in time for Master Bruce if I leave now. Bye.” Xander gave Spike an unexpected peck on the cheek as he walked by.

Spike smiled at that and returned to his desk to see to the mailing of the parchment, but not the translations. He chuckled as he tucked them into a file and put the file in his file drawer.


Giles read the cover letter with a sour expression. Spike was rubbing his nose in the fact that the translator belonged to him and he was enforcing the beings’ refusal to translate the parchment. In fact the being had sent a list of things that he wouldn’t touch. It included anything on human skin or sentient demon skin, anything moldy or rotten and especially anything pertaining to dark arts. Giles sighed. That included almost all of the things he couldn’t easily translate himself. Although, he didn’t blame the being for not wanting to mess around with that. His experience with Eygon had taught him a lesson long ago.

Buffy wandered in and flopped onto a chair. “Well that was a real water haul. There’s not a thing stirring. I swear, I really want to meet the new master. If he’s got the Hellmouth this much under his thumb, I really have a chance to graduate college in four years. So ... do we go see him to get that translator guy to do his job or what?”

Giles rubbed his forehead irritably. “Have you called Xander? Please tell me you have.”

Buffy looked guilty. “No, I ... got sidetracked. I’ll call him tomorrow.”

Giles slammed the book he was looking at down with a resounding thwack. “You’ll call him immediately. I’ve been after you for the last week to call. And Willow as well. I don’t understand what the matter is. I removed the protection part of the spell. I know I did. But none of you even try to call him.”

Buffy gave Giles an indignant look then snapped, “Oh, and I suppose, Mr. Grumpy pants, that you’ve just been burning up the wires, chattering away.”

Giles froze, an arrested expression on his face. “No, I haven’t. Very well. I’ll be the one to break the ice. Although, I have to say that I think it should be one of you but here goes.”

Giles picked up the phone and called the number Spike had given him.

He didn’t have long to wait. The phone only rang twice.

“Alexander Harris’s office. How may I help you?”

“Giles here. May I speak to Xander please?” Giles struggled to control his surprise, Xander had a secretary? He was successful but only barely.

“He’s in training right now. That’s the only reason I’m answering the phone. He prefers to get verbal messages from the answering machine. So if you call and get the machine it’s not that unusual. I’ll see if I can get him to the phone, unless you’d rather he called you back.”

Giles bit at his lip then decided. “I’ll wait.”

It didn’t take long for Giles to hear Xander’s voice. “I’ll take it at my desk. Thanks, Syl.”

There was a scuffling noise then Xander said, “Giles. Hello.” and waited.

“Mr. Giles. How are you?”

“Um ... I’m fine. Your secretary said you were training?”

Xander shuffled some papers. “Yes, I’m taking my final training with a bokken. Master Bruce says I’m ready for the real thing. He’s starting me on a tachi tomorrow.”

“Oh, well, Xander. Don’t you think that’s a bit dangerous? I mean. You might hurt yourself.”

Xander made a rude noise. “I won’t hurt myself, or if I do, I deserve it because I got careless. And Spike will beat my ass for it. Now ... what was it you wanted? Because if all you’re going to do is insult me and my Sensei, I’ve got a workout to complete.”

Giles realized that he was just making a bad situation worse. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you. You said you’re getting lessons from a master? Should I know him?”

Xander kept hold of his temper with an effort. “No, not unless you keep track of all the undead ten dan’s running around.”

Giles gulped audibly. “Please don’t tell me your martial arts master is Bruce Chen.”

“Ok, I won’t. Is there anything else you want?”

Giles decided now was not the time to go into the qualifications of Master Chen. “Yes, Spike, as master of the Hellmouth has a translator. I’d really like for him to look at a few parchments and some scrolls. But he seems reluctant. If you could just speak to Spike or even the translator. I'd really appreciate it.”

Xander bit at his lip then decided to just make a clean breast of it. “I don’t think it’ll do much good. You keep sending black arts and stinky stuff. Neither of which I want anything to do with. And stop it. Ok? Spike’s getting pissed.”

“Xander, are you telling me you’re the one who’s been doing all these translations?”

“Well, duh. I always have been. You assumed that Willow was doing them and I never bothered to tell you different.”

“Why not? I’d think you’d want the credit for your work.”

“I tried once. You nearly called me a liar right to my face. So I gave up before there was a fight.”

“I see. Well, it seems I owe you two apologies. One for ... er ... leaving you hanging and another for allowing Willow to take credit for your work. I am sorry.”

Xander sighed. “Ok, apology accepted. But don’t send me any stinky scrolls, nothing on human or sentient demon skin and I really hate Latin, the letters all seem to crawl around. Especially when I’m tired anyway. Ok?”

Giles sighed audibly. “Very well. But that means that all the scrolls I’m having the most trouble with are on your, I believe you called it, no-no list.”

“Sorry, but that’s the way it is. And ... no never mind. Look, call me day after tomorrow. I’ll be in seclusion for the next two days. Master Bruce doesn’t like being interrupted, in fact, he made a special exception for this call. And I’ve got a hundred sit ups, crunches, pull ups and pushups to do to pay for it. Then, if I know him, and I do, he’s going to have me do a hundred of each Ate. Then he’ll probably think of some reason to cane me, just on general principles. And I have to be in court on Friday. Damn, no rest for the wicked. Gotta go.”

Xander hung up with a snicker, thinking ‘that’ll fix him.’ and headed back for the dojo. Spike, who had been unashamedly eavesdropping, nearly hurt himself trying not to laugh until Xander hung up.


Giles hung the phone up very gently and glared at it for a moment. Buffy took one look at Giles’s face and snarled, ‘I’ll kill Spike, I swear.’

“No. I’ve just been told off by Xander. I ... did you know that Xander is the one who did most, if not all, of the translations we credited to Willow?” Buffy’s head jerked up and she gave Giles a wide-eyed look. “Yes. He said he just let her take the credit because he didn’t want to start a ‘thing.’ And he’s the one I’ve been sending my translations to. He’s been refusing them because he doesn’t do what he calls dark arts. And stinky things.”

Giles pinned Buffy with a very odd look. “And he’s taking martial arts lessons from Bruce Chen. His name was different several years ago, but he changed it for some reason. His former name translates as Dragon Teacher. He’s the best of the best in the world. Never go up against him. All your slayer strength and speed won’t do you any good at all.” Giles grumbled into his tea cup. ‘I just hope Spike knows what he’s doing.’

Buffy sighed and squirmed. She was embarrassed, she was supposed to be Xander’s friend, she was supposed to protect him from the things that went bump in the night. Instead she’d been a bad friend and lazy. She’d turned him over to the Big Bad. Willow was still researching how to fix this but she was more and more convinced that it was too late. Buffy was sure it was.

“So, again with the questions. We can’t reverse this?” Giles shook his head. “If I stake Spike it’s really bad?”

“It’s bad on a factor of one hundred. You can’t stake Spike. You’ll kill Xander. And if you stake the master of the Hellmouth you’ll break a cotenant that has lasted a thousand years. Then you’ll be fighting every demon clan and tribe on Earth.” Giles finished his tea and set his cup down with determination. “Now. You will call Xander right now and leave a message with his secretary or on his machine. Say whatever you please, but call.” Buffy bit at her lip. Giles glared at her and said sternly. “I’m waiting.”

Buffy grumbled a bit but obediently made the call. She got the secretary but was told that Xander couldn’t be called out of his training session again. Sylvia took a message, carefully recording it on a handheld recorder, her compromise between Xander’s request that she let the machine pick up and her sense of duty. It was working quite well. She recorded the messages and sent them to Xander’s computer where they were stored, sorted and queued for Xander to review.


Willow peeked into the Magic Box and the sidled in the door. Tara poked her firmly in the back making her skip into the room to get away from the tickle.

“Tara! Stop that. I’m in. I’m in already.”

“Good. Now tell.”

Willow sighed. “Ok. Don’t poke me, I’m telling.”

Giles rubbed wearily at his temple, pulled his glasses off and started polishing them. He really didn’t want to hear this. He was fairly sure that Willow was going to confess to some new magical faux pass.

“Well ... um ... I ... er.” Willow eeped as Tara swatted her.

“Willow ... is afraid to confess that she did a magic on me. To cure my stutter. It worked. But she also did a scrying spell. It didn’t work ... um ... the way she thought it would.”

Giles ground his teeth. “Willow, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times. Don’t mess with magic. You’re much too young and inexperienced to go about casting spells willy nilly. You’ll wind up in real trouble one day and I’m not powerful enough to pull you back from an abys.”

Willow stared at her feet like there were answers there. “I’m sorry. I just ... well ... Tara’s anti-stuttering spell worked fine. Sympathetic magic. Earth magic. And the scrying spell didn’t backfire or anything like that it was just that I was so worried about Xander and I want so bad to make up to him for all the trouble I’ve caused ... Spike for goddess sake ... so I thought if I could scry to see what was happening but all I did was get a really rotten prophecy that if we separate Spike and Xander something really really bad will happen. Something really, really, really bad. In an apocalyptic bad bad. And I don’t like it and I want my Xander back only he’s mad at me and I’m scared to call him because I’ll have to talk to Spike and all I want to do is hug Xander and get him to forgive me and what is Spike doing to him while I’m researching futility and ....”

Giles finally got Willow’s attention by clearing his throat so loudly that he made it hurt. “Willow. Please stop. I can’t keep up. I’m sure that Spike isn’t doing anything too bad to Xander. Spike is the new master of the Hellmouth so having a human thrall is reinforcing his status no end. And exactly what did the prophecy say?”

Willow sighed, inched into the nearest seat and started picking at her cuticles. Tara patted her fingers away from each other.

“Well, it was really kind of vague. All I really got out of it was that Xander does or doesn’t do something and that makes Spike not do something really bad. Like crack the world bad. He’s ... a keystone of some kind.”

Giles sighed and Buffy grumbled. “Well isn’t that just peachy. Neato keeno. I’m going patrolling. You see what you can come up with will you, Giles. I’m going crazy here.”

Giles just nodded, picked up a book of prophecy and started reading. He stopped long enough to pin Willow with his patented ‘pissed off librarian cum Ripper’ look. “No more magic without checking with me first. Or else.” then he stuck his nose back in the book.

Willow immediately began babbling again. “Or else? Or else what? What can he do? Tara? He wouldn’t do anything really bad? Would he? Giles? What or else?”

Giles looked up from his book again. “Or else I’ll call the witches council in England and have your powers bound until you learn discretion. Now, call Xander. You won’t get him as he’s training with one of the toughest and best martial artists in about six centuries. But call and leave a message. You better hope you get called back. He’s not best pleased with any of us right now.” He turned his gaze on Tara. “You too, young lady.”

So Willow and Tara both called and left messages. Tara just said she was sorry that she’d contributed in any way to his troubles. Willow left a Willow babble that confused Sylvia so much that she started recording directly after the first ten words. Giles shook his head and worried.


Xander returned to the dojo and settled back into seiza. He was going to have to do some serious thinking.

“You’re thinking hard, young master. What about?” Master Bruce settled across from Xander. He knew about the phone call of course. But he didn’t know how Xander was reacting to it.

“Well, that was Giles. I gave him a piece of my mind. But . . . I ... he was supposed to be my ... protector? Something. I’m confused, pissed, and I ... really, really wanna kill something. I’m angry. And I’m not sure why.”

Bruce helped Xander work his way through his confusion and encouraged him to express what he felt, not what he thought he ought to feel. Xander finally shrugged. “I’m tired. I don’t want to think about it anymore. Spike treats me better than my so-called friends ever did. He gives me stuff and treats me like, well, like an equal. He expects me not to fuck up. They just expect me to be the Zeppo. He expects me to ... be ... I’m not sure what. But I know that I want to be it. He says he’s got ulterior motives but I kinda think I might like them. And I’m so not gay. I think.”

Bruce had the wisdom not to respond to that particular bit of idiocy. Instead he got Xander back on track and working on his kata. The martial arts master watched Xander carefully, swords were nothing to fool around with. He noticed that Xander held the tachi like a master, this was good, he’d only had to show Xander twice, about half the number of times he’d’ been shown himself. Xander paid attention when he was spoken to and didn’t let his dick get in the way of learning. He never acted like he knew something he didn’t.

“Xander, choke back on the hilt a bit. Your grip is starting to drift too far forward.” Bruce got up from his zabuton to go to Xander and help him adjust his grip. “Now. I don’t want, what you call, punishment exercises. But I do want a good workout. You need to practice your cuts. I’ve set up some targets for you to work out with. First, do your kata, then put your sword up and get the bokken. I don’t want you cutting yourself if you miss a strike.”

Xander sighed but obediently started on his kata. It was long and difficult but he’d mastered it well. So he went through it once, listened to Master Bruce’s corrections and went through it again. This time the exercise satisfied the meticulous master and he told Xander to go through it four more times.

Xander groaned to himself, six run throughs was going to kill him. But he started on his first run through.

Master Bruce smiled to himself. He’d never seen a more stubborn man in his entire life and unlife. But Xander was getting very good, so good that Bruce decided that he’d have second thoughts about going up against him with a sword in his hands.

Xander completed the last kata and settled into a kneeling position. It was either that or fall down. His legs felt like jelly and his arms were so heavy they trembled. But he felt good. He was getting really good. He could tell by the way Master Bruce looked at him.

“Very well. Excellent. I’m impressed. Most humans would be out cold. Rest a bit and then I’ll start you on the next phase of your training.” Master Bruce settled into a kneel, facing Xander. “This step is to teach you the feel of a sword striking something. It’s entirely different from a kata. There’s a ... resistance. Cutting flesh is different from this as well.”

Xander accepted the towel that a minion brought him and wiped his face. “Yeah, I know. Creepy.”

Bruce blinked. “I don’t appreciate that.”

Xander gave him a blank look. “Sorry?”

“How would you know what cutting flesh feels like?”

“Um ... Scooby here? Been cutting demons and vampires and oogity boogity’s since I was sixteen. Not fun. Nearly been killed a few times. No thanks to anyone except Spike for a rescue.”

It took Bruce a moment to sort that out then he grunted, stood up and went to get a bokken, hiding his anger from Xander. He wondered what the hell the watcher was thinking. The boy deserved to be trained properly.

“Here. Bokken. Treat it like a ‘real’ sword. If you mess up I’ll stripe you. I won’t have you cutting your leg half off.” Bruce led Xander to the sword dummy, which looked like a heavy bag only on a pole instead of suspended from the ceiling. He demonstrated the different strikes as they were used against a target and watched as Xander copied him. He corrected a few flaws in Xander's form then told him, “Fifty of each cut. When you get good enough you’ll do tameshigiri. Hajime.”

Xander obeyed the command and began. He started with the first of the eight sword cuts, after the cuts there were eight guards or defenses. All other cuts were elaborations on the basics. He knew that Master Bruce was going to be really particular about his form so he worked carefully to be sure to do them correctly.

Master Bruce looked up from his reading when Xander stopped working. “Something?”

Xander shook his head, spraying sweat. “No, just stopped to get a drink. I don’t want to get dehydrated.” Xander picked up a bottle of water and opened it. It had been setting on the floor just long enough. He didn’t like to drink water that was ice cold. It upset his stomach. “Mmmmm, good. Sensei?” Master Bruce grunted. “Why are you teaching me Kendo instead of a Chinese form?”

“Good question. I was wondering when you’d ask. The answer is because it’s better suited to your mentality. I’ll teach you the Ryu Sui Sen. You’ll be good enough in a few months. Now, finish your water and get back to work.”

Xander obediently did as he was told.

By the time he was done with his practice he was completely exhausted and ready to drop. Master Bruce regretted what came next but he’d regret it even more if Xander wound up dead because his master slacked in his training.

“Get up. Now!”

Xander groaned but struggled to his feet. “I’m up. What do you want?”

Bruce hid a smile. The man had guts. Most students would have been silent, Xander snarked.

“What do I want? One, a little less insolence. Two, you will perform each Ate perfectly. I will watch. If you fail to perform correctly, you will receive one stroke of the cane. Take off your gi please.”

Xander just dumped his gi kimon on the floor and readied himself. He knew Master Bruce was going to be picky and he knew why. You couldn’t just tell the demon you were fighting that you were tired and a mistake because of exhaustion could be your last.

Master Bruce called, “Suburi Ipponme” Xander performed the cut. He went through the entire eight cuts of the basic form; calling each name in a sharp, crisp command. Suburi Nihonme, Suburi sanbanme, Suburi Yonhonme, Suburi gohonme, Suburi schichiponme, Suburi hachiponme. Xander did fine until Master Bruce came to the simple 45-degree angle cut. The only one named in English. He fumbled the cut disastrously, tripping himself.

He received the ultimate reprimand. “Dame! Heta! Where’s your head?!”

Xander bent over from the waist, panting for air. He straightened as soon as he caught his breath. Master Bruce waited impatiently.

“Up my ass, I guess. I don’t believe it. I’m not that clumsy. Sorry.”

“You will be. Bend back over.”

Xander didn’t argue. He just bent over to receive one hard lash of a bamboo cane. This continued until Xander literally collapsed in exhaustion. Master Bruce settled beside Xander, counted the lash marks and said, “Only ten. You did very well and I’m so proud of you. I’m going to call Master Spike.”

Xander rolled over, resting his burning back on the cool floor. “Just get me to my ... our quarters. I’ll clean up and get some rest. He’ll have a fit.”

Master Bruce didn’t pretend he didn’t know what Xander was talking about. He just shrugged. “I have Master Spike’s permission. He understands the need for thorough training. Especially in your position. You’re being groomed for something more than being a thrall. I won’t say ‘simple’ because you’re not.” Xander made a rude noise. “I’ll smack you. You’re one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen. And don’t be stupid. I’ll call Master Spike and let the chips fall where they may.”

Xander gave up, he was too tired to argue and he couldn’t deny that he really wanted Spike.


When Spike got Master Bruce’s message he just got up from his desk and headed for the dojo. He’d known that Master Bruce was planning this and had prepared for it. He just hadn’t known it was today or he’d have been there to watch. He loved watching Xander train. Especially when it was the extreme training that Xander had agreed to under go. Spike mumbled, “Wanking watcher. Should have trained the boy proper. But he’s glorious, moves like some kinda big cat. Loverly.”

Spike took the long corridor at a dead run, never mind the others in the way they either moved or went down. He skidded around the last corner just in time to hear Xander exclaim in a plaintive tone, “I don’t want to be carried. I can walk. I want to be in bed when Spike comes. I want the massage he promised. If he sees me, he’ll make me go to sleep. Shit!”

Spike managed his easy saunter with some effort but for Xander he’d manage. “Well, pet, hear you’re a bit knackered, came to take you off to bed. Massage, have a bit to eat. Take a nap. Sound good?”

Xander sighed. “Yeah, sounds real good. I’ll be up in a second.”

Spike snorted. “Sure about that?”

Xander grumbled. “I’m sure. Not gonna catch me havin’ to be carried off the battlefield like ... like a Zeppo. Ok?”

Spike quickly realized that it was a matter of pride to Xander to get to the rooms on his own. So he decided to help Xander.

“Ok, pet, up and at ‘em.” He reached out and gave Xander a hand up then tucked his shoulder under Xander’s. Xander took the hand up gratefully, leaning on Spike with a sigh.

“Thanks. Just go slow, ok? I feel like I’ve been ... well ... run though a wringer.”

They took their time getting back to their quarters. On the way, Spike stopped a minion and issued orders telling the woman to hurry ahead and tell Timmins to make preparations. She took off at a dead run, scared by Spike's fierce glare.

“Well, that was interesting. You know your eyes turn real yellow when you get pissed?”

“Yeah, pet, demon’s real near the surface. You’re hurtin’ an’ I don’t like it.”

Xander sighed. “Well, I’m not real happy myself, but we’d both be a lot less happy if I manage to get myself killed because I’m not trained. Right?”

Spike admitted that he agreed but grumbled, “Right, right. But I don’t have to like it.”


Timmins met them at the door. He bowed then announced. “All the preparations were made. You really didn’t have to send that silly chit to remind me.” He managed to look discretely miffed.

Spike just shrugged. “Probably not now that I think about it. But I was more interested in takin’ care of my boy. Stuff your hurt feelin’s and help me.”

Timmins just nodded and came to help Xander, who was stiffening up enough that he was not interested in bending over or doing much of anything. Two days of constant training with only a few scattered naps had taken their tole.

Spike held Xander’s swaying form as Timmins undressed him. The soft hiss that Timmins let out when he saw Xander’s back made Spike ease around to see for himself.

“Blast and damn, did he have to give you ten?”

Xander avoided shrugging. “Yes, one for each mistake I made. It’s not that bad. I’ve had a lot worse for much less. Can I get in the bath now? Before I freeze in place?” Xander gazed longingly at the hot tub. He knew it was going to hurt his back but the rest of him wanted in the tub, now.

“Half a tick. I’ve got that new cream from the healer. He said it’d cure any bruise on a human.”

Xander wanted that cream badly but he was honest with himself and Spike. “Are you sure? Maybe I shouldn’t.”

Spike snorted. “Know just what you’re thinkin’. And I’m vetoin’ any thought of not easin’ that punishment. You’re mine and I’ve got the final say. Shut it.”

Xander just shut up, eased down on the stool Timmins set for him and enjoyed the feel of the cool cream on his heated skin. When he eased into the tub, the lash marks had already eased. There was some residual bruising but nothing that either Xander or Spike found to be a problem.

Spike sat on the stool by the tub side and got Xander to explain what the lesson had been about. Xander talked and reveled in the attention. Spike was truly interested in what he had to say. He didn’t cut him off or scoff at his theories. In fact, he mostly just listened, making appropriate noises or asking questions.


Spike settled across Xander’s thighs and eyed his back. The faint marks were brownish, fading bruises. Not a problem. He poured oil into his hand, placed the bottle back in the wine cooler filled with warm water and began to massage Xander. He started at his shoulders and found every knot and sore spot. He used his thumbs and the heel of his hand to coax and coerce them into submission. Xander groaned and moaned.

As Spike worked his way down Xander’s back, he had to smile. Xander had hidden an amazing body under those banished baggy clothes. Who would have thought? “Great body you got, pet.”

“Thanks. Just glad pop never realized. He’s got some almighty perverted friends.”

Spike had to sit back before he hurt Xander. ‘Bloody hell!’

“Don’t worry. I’m still a virgin. Except for ... er ... things. You know?”

Spike stemmed a spate of babble by pouring more oil on Xander and returning to his massage. He eased down Xander’s body until he was sitting on the foot of the bed.

“Done with your back, roll over so I can do the front.”

Xander obediently rolled. Spike took one high arched foot in his hands and began to massage the arch with both thumbs. Xander melted into a puddle on the bed. He loved having his feet rubbed more than anything. Spike took his time working first one foot then the other until Xander was nearly asleep. Spike worked his way up Xander’s front, massaging his abdomen then his chest. When he ran his oil slick hand over Xander’s nipples, Xander sighed. Spike grinned to himself.

“Sensitive, are they? You like it?” Spike stroked very gentle circles around first one nipple then the other.

“Mmmm, yeah, I do. Don’t tell.”

“Why ever not? Not that this is any of anyone’s business but ours.”

Xander managed to look languid and embarrassed at the same time. “Only girls like it.”

Spike nearly hurt himself forcing down the laughter. “That’s just stupid. Who told you only bints like it? I like it. Do I look like a bint to you?”

Xander opened one eye. “No. You like ... um ... well, that?”

Spike pinched one slick nipple gently. “Yeah. I do. Like havin’ ‘em pinched, pulled, sucked. Nice. Maybe you’ll feel like doin’ it sometime.” Xander started to rise. “Not now. You’re all tuckered out. This is for you. Just relax and enjoy. If it hurts or I do something you don’t like, tell me.”

Xander just relaxed back in the bed and enjoyed Spike’s touch. If Spike said it was ok, it was. And Spike had promised not to make fun of his sexual needs. Ever, for any reason. Xander trusted Spike’s word in a way he’d never trusted anyone before.

Spike took hold of one of Xander’s ankles and eased his foot flat on the bed. “Move the other and let your knees fall apart.” Xander lazily complied. “There’s a pet.”

“What are you going to do? Not that I’m in any mood or shape to fight. Just curious.”

Spike laughed softly. “You would fight too, wouldn’t ya? But I’d really rather you didn’t. Don’t want ta compel you but I will if I have ta. I’m gonna finger fuck that sweet rose of yours.”

Xander blinked, translated this into regular English and smiled. “Ok. You know you sound like a real Victorian sometimes. Will I like it?”

Spike poured oil on his hand while remarking quite reasonably. “Am a Victorian. An’ I noticed that you don’t go up in flames when I use old euphemisms. If ya don’t like it, I’m doin’ it wrong.”

Xander obeyed when Spike told him to lift his hips then lowered himself onto the pillow. Spike explained exactly what he was doing as he did it. Xander stopped listening as Spike eased his finger into him. It felt strange, having something pushed into him like that. The plugs had been unyielding, stretching him by force. This was different in a very good way.

“Ya like that?” All Xander could do was groan. Spike smirked and worked his finger in and out until the muscles yielded to him. By then Xander was shivering all over. Not a fear filled tremble, just a slight tremor. “Good. Relax now. I’m gonna put in another.”

Xander whimpered as Spike slipped in the next finger, he definitely wasn’t in pain. Spike parted his fingers, stretching Xander more. Xander shifted, a slight frown between his eyebrows. Spike eased off and the frown disappeared.

“Too much, pet? Well, you’ll like this, I think.” Spike felt around carefully until he found Xander’s prostate. He rubbed the pad of one finger across it, watching as Xander nearly hurled himself off the bed.

“Holy crap. What was that? Oh, my god. Do that again.”

Spike obliged and continued to alternately massage Xander’s prostate and stretch his stiff muscles until Xander came with a yell that scared several minions into hiding.

Spike smiled and cleaned him up, then crawled into the bed.

“Spike? Don’t you want me to ... do something for you? You gotta be needy.”

“Not really. Had a good wank while you were dozed off. This was for you.”

Xander levered himself up onto one elbow so he could look down at Spike. “But ... why? You have needs too. I could do ... something. You tell me and I’ll try.”

Spike smiled. “Master Vampire here. Got lots of self-control and whatnot. And I really don’t want you doin’ stuff just because I want it. Now lay down and sleep. You’re so tired you’d probably bite it off, or fall asleep in the middle of things. Neither of which will please me any at all.”

Xander admitted that Spike was probably right. He lay back down but grumbled, “Well, ok, but I owe you one. Evil undead wanker. What are you up to?”

Spike pulled Xander to him and curled around him. “Up to no good. Got ulterior motives. Been tellin’ ya that all along.”

Xander snorted and fell asleep. Spike followed him.

1) Suburi Ipponme (first overhead cut)
2) Suburi Nihonme ( second overhead cut)
3) Suburi sanbanme (cut and move backwards)
4) Suburi Yonhonme (turn blade and thrust up)
5) Suburi gohonme (straight thrust)
6) 45 degree angle cut (down from kasumi)
7) Suburi schichiponme (side cut)8) Suburi hachiponme ( rising cut)
Dame - Wrong, not like that
Heta - poorly done, not skillful
These two words are the most dreaded in any dojo.
Why is Bruce teaching Xander Japanese arts in Japanese? Because I’m not familiar with Chinese style fighting technics and I am familiar with Japanese.

Part Sixteen

Giles snarled softly, he wasn't pleased at all. The Council was pushing him to make direct contact with the Master of the Hellmouth. He didn't want to go to a vampiric court, especially since he knew that Willow, Tara and Buffy would insist on going too. He fingered the letter for a moment then tossed it down on the round table in the corner of the Magic Box and forgot about it.

Ten minutes later he was wishing he hadn't. Buffy had found it and read it. Now she was demanding to be allowed to come with him when he went to court.

"Buffy, if I do let you come, and I'm really not sure I should. You can't disrespect Spike. If you do, he'll have to respond in order to keep control of the court. I don't want to deal with it. I'm supposed to, I believe the phrase is, mend fences with Spike. You causing a scene won't do that."

Buffy didn't pout, she just shrugged. "I won't start anything. If he can control himself, I can do the same. And you know that Willow will want to go. Try turning down the puppy dog eyes of doom. I dare you."

Giles polished his glasses and sighed. "Good lord, how does that girl do that? She manages to look like it's the end of everything. But she never looks like that when it really is."

Buffy shrugged. "Haven't a clue. I've practiced and practiced and I've never managed to master it. My lip doesn't tremble right."

Giles gave Buffy a stunned look. "Are you sitting there, telling me that you practice that look? Heaven help us all."


Giles just picked up a book and stuck his nose in it. He wasn't dealing with this, at all, ever. The ways of American girls were incomprehensible at times. And this was one of them.

Buffy cheerfully dumped her books on the table, and as she sorted through them, she remarked. "Well don't have a spaz. We'll figure it all out. Or, you will."


Xander had eaten a huge breakfast, had a short interview with Master Bruce, and was now seated at his desk. He took one look at the work load and grumbled, "How the hell did I go from a carpenter to a translator of demony gobbledy gook? And messages? Neat idea, have to compliment Syl on that. And what happened to the first lady?"

Sylvia was standing in the door and heard. "I think she went out and never came back. Slayer got her."

Xander sighed, rubbed his face with one hand and just settled in his chair. "That sucks. Tell you what. See if you can't get yourself used to bagged stuff. I really don't want to lose you. Ok?"

Sylvia smiled. "Um ... I never did human. I like dog." Xander blinked at her then made a face. "It works." Sylvia shrugged, handed Xander the tape recorder and left.

Xander listened to his messages and thought hard. Buffy's message was short and contained an apology and a bit of rambling about how she was in college and yada yada yada. Tara's made him smile. All she said was she was sorry and to call her if he was over being mad. He couldn't be mad at Tara, she'd always done her best but she was a follower and in love with Willow. Willow's message just irritated him. She babbled, wibbled and whined. She managed to somehow blame it all on either Spike, bad karma or his own incompetence. Xander shrugged his irritation off.

He picked up the phone and called Tara first.

"Hi, Tara. Just wanted to call you first."

Tara blinked for a second then just replied softly. "Oh, hello. I'm glad. Are you ok?"

"I'm fine. How are you?"

Tara sniffled a bit. "Sad. I'm sorry. I should have made Willow ... do something."

Xander snorted. "And how could you do that? Willow in stubborn head mode is immovable. She should have wanted to do something instead of trying to shove it under the rug. I'm still a bit pissed at her. But I forgive you. I'm sure if you'd realized you'd have been more insistent. Right?"

Tara allowed that she would have. They visited a bit more then Xander asked to speak to Buffy if she was there. She was and had been nearly dancing with impatience.

"Xander! I'm so sorry. I really am. But what I was supposed to do I don't know. Not a mojo person. Give me something to kill, I'm good. Stinky weeds and glowy things and I'm sunk. So anyway, you tell Spike I said be good to you or else. Ok? And Willow's nearly snatching the phone out of my hand so are we good or what?"

Xander allowed that they were as good as they were going to get for a while and said to put Willow on.

Willow took the phone and said, "Xander? I'm sorry. Really, really sorry. I messed up real bad. And I can't fix it I've researched and researched you're stuck with Spike. I ..."

Xander, who had been calling Willow's name, finally got her attention. "Willow, I'm not in the mood for a genuine Willow babble. You messed up. You promised that you wouldn't work any mojo on me and then you did. I'm still kinda pissed at you."

Willow sniveled and Tara put an arm around her, even if she did agree with Xander. Willow handed the phone to Giles.

"Xander, I'm sure you're still aggravated with Willow but there's no need to be unkind. Please think before you speak." Giles pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, he hated being a peace maker. Their childish arguments got on his nerves. He really wanted to let Ripper loose on them sometimes.

Xander, for his part, was trying not to go ballistic on Giles. Then he decided ‘why not'

"Excuse me? Aggravated? I'm aggravated? Doesn't quite cover it. How ‘bout pissed. Or furious? You ... and Willow both left me hanging out to dry. Do you have any idea what it's like to be a thrall in a vampire's court? No, of course not. I'm the only one who does but I'm expected to show sympathy. Get over yourself. And don't send me any translations. Do them yourself." His voice had gotten colder and colder with every word and now he seemed to be dripping icicles. He started to hang up but Giles called his name and he decided to give it a bit.

"I'm sorry if I seem unsympathetic but it's Spike after all. He's chipped, what can he do?"

Xander sputtered for a second then just snarled. "Coming to court, aren't you? You'll see." and hung up.

The sound of hands clapping startled him. Spike was standing in the door clapping his hands. He swaggered over to Xander, the effect not spoiled a bit by the absence of his duster.

"Well, that was a treat, pet. Only, now what?"

Xander smirked at Spike. "Now we put on a little show. Buffy won't dare do anything so I say. Let ‘er rip."

Spike gave Xander an evil grin. "Really, pet? You sure?"

Xander nodded. "As long as it doesn't really hurt."

Spike gathered Xander into his arms. "There, there, pet. You know better. Only time I'll ever really hurt you is if you do something stupid. Right?" He ducked his head to look Xander in the eyes. "Right?"

"Right. I know that. I ... damn!" Xander swiped at the tears in his eyes. "I'm going all girly."

Spike just petted and cooed as Xander wept into his shoulder.

He finally got himself under control. "Dammit, I can keep zombies from blowing up the school and fight demons and keep apocrypha from happening but I can't ... I just wish they'd realize ..."

Spike filed the zombie comment for later. "Pet, they'll never get it. They have a picture of Alexander LaVal Harris in their heads and it'll take blasting to get it out. So we blast. Ok?"

Xander sighed took the handkerchief Spike handed him and nodded. "You're better at this than I am so ... up to you. Make ‘em squirm."

Spike gave Xander a kiss, a hug and a really evil smirk. He sauntered out to make preparations. This was going to be fun.


Xander entered the room with a large tray and set it on the coffee table.

"Coffee? Or..."

The being didn't let Xander finish.

"Are you trying to poison me? My people are allergic, for lack of a better word, to caffeine." The being turned to Spike. "Master, control your slave."

Spike sneered at the being. "I'm not under your orders. The boy wouldn't have any way to know that Usura demons are allergic to caffeine. I didn't know." Spike turned to Xander and addressed him in kindly tones. "And what else is on that tray?"

Xander leaned over to open two pressure pots. "Apple juice, milk, and I can bring plain water if you'd rather. Coffee, master?"

Spike gave the Usura demon a pointed look and it had the good grace, or sense, to look embarrassed. It accepted a glass of juice and settled back. Xander handed Spike a cup of coffee and raised an eyebrow at him. Spike just nodded.

Xander left and came back a moment later with his own cup of espresso. The Usura demon blinked once and Xander realized that it had nictating membranes. It was a little freaky. He knelt on a cushion next to Spike and took a sip out of his cup.

Spike ignored the demon, turning to Xander instead. "I'm going to have a special harness made for you. I want you to be sure that the measurements are right. Understand?" Xander nodded and took another sip of his coffee. Spike sniffed. "What's up with that? Your coffee smells completely different from mine. Why?"

Xander settled back in seiza, getting comfortable. "I used a slow pull for my cup and a fast one for yours. It affects the flavor."

"Slow pull, fast pull? All right, pet, I give. Wot the bloody ‘ell are ya talkin' about?"

Xander grinned at Spike's slip. "The machine you got me, and I can never thank you enough for it, is manual. The slower you pull down on the handle the stronger the coffee. And I used a real slow pull on mine. You want another cup? And do you want me to make it special or will the pot do?"

Spike handed Xander his cup and shook his head. "No more. I don't need the extra caffeine and neither do you."

Xander grunted then put his cup down half finished. "As you wish, but I only get two cups a day anymore. Could I please finish?" Xander gave Spike a slightly pleading look. Spike told him to go ahead, so Xander picked the cup back up and sipped again.

Spike turned his attention to the Usura demon. "I want harness for my boy. Carefully padded. He gets one blister, even so much as a chafe mark and you're dog food. Understand?"

The demon nodded, paling as he realized that Xander was prized by this notorious member of the Scourge of Europe. "As you wish. I need to touch him if my measurements are to be accurate."

At Spike's nod Xander clambered to his feet, setting his empty cup aside. He turned and twisted, squatted and bent. The demon measured things that made Xander blush, but never lingered longer than was absolutely necessary. He almost did once and Spike's feral snarl let him know in no uncertain terms that he'd better move on quickly. When he was finished, he sat back in his place, spoke to his assistant who produced a sample book and settled back to allow Spike to examine the samples.

Spike blinked at the scarcity of the samples. There were only three colors black, white and red in an endless seeming number of weights. He made a face.

"Not what I was thinkin' of. Got anything else?"

Xander fingered one of the samples and grimaced. He didn't like any of them either. The demon snarled then stilled himself as Spike reared up like a cobra about to strike.

"I have a few more samples but no one ever asks for them." He flapped a hand at his assistant, who produced four more samples on a bead chain. Spike held one up against Xander's cheek. He snarled and tossed it aside. "Not what I want."

Xander scratched the back of his neck. "So ... do you know what you want?"

Spike jumped up and started pacing. "Black, black, and bloody more black. I wear black, you don't. Period. It's too ... stark. Too cold. You're all ... warm and ... I don't know. I just don't like it." Spike turned on the demon who trembled and cringed. "Figure it out. Not black. Red don't suit him and bloody hell not white."

The assistant rummaged in his huge bag and produced a ring of pieces of latigo leather strapping. He held it out to Spike with a trembling hand. "Perhaps Master might find one of these pleasing."

Spike took the scraps and flipped through them impatiently. He fingered several bits but didn't find what he wanted.

"This is nice but it's a bit stretchy. Got anything else?"

The assistant took the ring and flipped to one piece. "This is the best. It's alum tanned latigo. Very strong but we can work it until it's soft. And ... the padding could be this very nice dark yellow chamois. I think the brown is perfect for your man."

Spike fingered the piece then held it against Xander's cheek. Xander gazed at him with trusting brown eyes.

Spike nodded. "Yeah, that'll do. Remember ... so much as a chafe mark an' I'll have your guts for garters."

The two demons whimpered a bit then scrambled their things together and got out. Xander couldn't help a soft, ‘eeewww.'

Xander eyed Spike. "I'm not sure I like that. While I was out, you didn't pick some totally kinky something or other, did you?"

Spike shook his head. "No ..." He started then snarled, "Bloody hell. I forgot the chains. I'll call that prick back."

Xander gazed over Spike's shoulder. "Don't have to. There he is. Make nice."

Spike just snapped at the demon. "Here. Chains. Gold plated, got me?"

"Yes, master. I was just about to suggest something in a nice heat treated diamond cut steel."

Spike thought for a moment. "Diamond cut?" The demon nodded hesitantly. "Make ‘im glitter, yeah? Sounds a treat. Do it." The demon scuttled back out before Spike could change his mind, or eat or disembowel him. Spike snickered.

Xander just snickered too. Spike realized that his boy did have a very dark spot. Considering his parents it was a wonder he wasn't a psycho.

"Evil git."

Xander frankly laughed. "Look who's talking."

"Takes one to know one, yeah?" Spike grinned at Xander.


Xander dragged Spike to the old filling station and showed him around. Spike dodged the sunbeams pouring through the skylight with a hiss.

"Don't worry about that. I'm going to put in an awning sort of curtain thing. Open for sun, close when you're around. Ok? Can I have it? Please? Can I?"

Spike examined the place carefully while Xander nearly danced with impatience. When he was done Spike shrugged. "Don't see why not, pet. Hoists need some work. Don't use ‘em until they're checked out by an expert. Got me?" Spike pinned Xander with a stern glare.

"Right. Don't use a hoist until it's checked out. Seems good to me. Don't fancy squished Xander. Like all my bits where they are."

Spike snickered. "Careful there, pet. You're starting to sound like me."

"And that's bad because?" Xander gave Spike his best wide-eyed innocent look.

"Because I sound like me an' you sound like you. You only need one bay for your truck, wot ya gonna do with the other?"

Xander stretched carefully while Spike admired the play of muscle in Xander's t-shirt clad back.

"I'm going to put my wood working stuff there. The bench along the wall will hold all my small stuff and the main bay will hold my table saw, router, chop saw and workbench. It even has enough plug ins for everything. The room I'm using now is cramped, dark and has just one plug plate. The only reason I'm using it is it's insulated. I can use it anytime I want without waking anyone up."

Spike just shrugged. "Use it any time you want wherever you want. Anyone complains they can talk to me ... if they can talk at all."

Xander blinked, then snorted. "What are you going to do, rip out their tongue?"


Xander did a double take, realized that Spike meant it and grinned. "Evil undead vampire."

"That's me, pet."

Xander snickered and just led Spike to admire the rest of the station.

When they were finished Spike told Xander that he had some ideas for the station as well and that he'd have plans drawn up for his, Xander's, approval. Xander couldn't help giving a little skip as they headed back down the long hall. "Thanks, sounds great. Now. Question. Why were you so rude to that Urusa demon."

Spike tapped a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. Drawing in a deep breath he exhaled slowly. Xander possessed himself in patience, realizing that Spike was using that small ceremony to gain time to think.

"Usura ... Well, see, pet. It's like this. You know anything about Japan." Xander gave Spike a ‘well, duh.' look. "Sorry. Marital arts. Well, demon relations are all about ‘face'. Who has it. Who's lost it. Lessening theirs and increasing yours. See?" Xander nodded. "He's beneath me, but he had the nerve to accuse you of intentionally trying to harm him. So, I sort of rubbed his nose in the fact that you love coffee a lot. And that you thought you were doing something nice for him. Pillock. He could have just said, ‘can't drink coffee, makes my people ill' or summat. So. I put him in his place and lessened his face. Got it?"

Xander nodded. "Yeah, I do. And that's why you sometimes have to punish me in public, right?"

"Yeah. Don't like it. But, and this is a warning, if I lose my temper, there's no telling what I might do. I'd be sorry later, but my temper gets the best of me something awful at times. Especially when I'm scared. So ... you're warned."

Xander nodded. "Yeah, but I'm really trying to be good." He gave Spike a sideways look. "And ... are we going to ... um ... Buffy. You know?"

Spike knew exactly what Xander was trying to ask. "Her face is going to fall, big time. In more ways than one. And the Watcher is gonna have a cow. As to Red and the Little Wicca. Red's gonna wanna curse my nuts off. The Little Wicca, she's the one I'm worried about. She'll feel really bad an' I'm not sure I like that."

Xander shrugged. "She'll be the only one to really understand. Might be some way to give her a head's up?"

Spike nodded. "Good thinking. I'll see what I can come up with. When you wanna do it?"

Xander thought about that, about how to increase Spikes face. "Next court. Rub their faces in my pathetic situation." Spike snorted his amusement, looking rather dragonish as smoke shot out his nose. "Right in front of your court. Ya think?"

Spike swatted Xander on the back of the head, making him complain, "Hey!"

Spike smelled the bug spray and asked, "What's that ruddy awful smell?"

"Roach spray. You should have seen it ..." He got a deer in the headlights look. "Oh, fuck me."

Spike couldn't help replying. "Soon, pet, soon. But what's wrong."

"You are so gonna punish me, I swear I forgot all about it. You'll have ... well, you better ... only please don't be too mad. Ok? Please?"

Spike took a deep breath. "Pet! I'm gonna be mad in about three seconds if you don't tell me ... WOT THE BLOODY HELL IS GONIN' ON!"

Xander just opened the door. Spike strode in coat tails flapping around his ankles. One look told him all he needed to know. He nearly fell over laughing.

"Damn. The watcher's been wetting his bloomers for weeks and this is what it turns out to be? Oh, priceless."

Xander bit his lip. "You're not mad? Really?"

Spike turned on Xander. "I'm mad all right. An' I'm tellin' ya now. The next time I find out ya been out fightin' incursions without me knowin' I'll take a belt to ya. Hear?"

Xander turned sullen. "You do and that's it. I don't care what you beat me with, except a belt. Don't ever. You hear?"

Spike blinked at the fierce glare Xander was giving him. He decided not to press this issue as Xander felt so strongly about it. "Ok, pet, no belts. Don't get your knickers in a twist."

"I don't wear knickers ... um ... Do I?"

As Xander was obviously willing to let the disagreement slide Spike let it alone too.

"Yeah, ya do. I'm the one that don't. Got some kind of container?"

Xander shook his head. "I don't carry around bottles or anything like that. I'll run back to the station and see what I can find. Why do you want it?"

"Gonna show this to the Wanker. He'll go mental. Get something big enough for the glass bits and some of the bugs, ok?"

Xander left and came back with a two-quart mason jar and lid. "Is this ok?"

Spike took it with a nod. He squatted down and scooped the glass into the jar using the lid as a pusher, he scrapped some of the bugs into a pile and did the same thing with them. He screwed on the lid and examined it.

"This isn't over. That didn't just drop from the heavens, or heave up from hell. Someone put it there. So, someone wants to open a door. And they won't quit trying."

Xander nodded solemnly. "No shit. We're going to have to seal some of the lower level doors. One's that go to the outside."

Spike nodded. "I'll take care of it as soon as we get back."


Xander headed for his office and Spike for his. But before they parted Spike insisted on his first kiss.

"Come on, pet. You know it's gonna happen. Be nice, yeah?"

Xander's first reaction wasn't the revulsion that Spike had expected, he just turned bright red. "I don't have any experience kissing men. I ... um ... don't want you laughing at me. So I'm a great big girl, all right?"

Spike pulled Xander into his arms. "Not a girl. And I would never laugh. If you're not a good kisser I'll just have to teach you. Right? Besides, I might like a completely different style than Queen C."

Xander opened his mouth to ask how Spike knew about Queen C, or Cordelia. Then he thought about it and just puckered up. Spike kissed him and he kissed back.

They were both surprised at how much they enjoyed it.

Spike finally broke it up, pushing Xander away exclaiming, "Here now. If we keep that up I'll have to take a cold shower. An' I hate bein' cold. Gerroff!" The last because Xander was clinging to him, giggling.

"Don wanna. Like kissin' you."



Spike laughed at this. "Am not, an' do you even know what that means?"

Xander shook his head. "No, but you always say it."

"Well, don't copy me. Now, again. Office. Yours there, mine here. Go."

Xander pouted but went. He had things he needed to do and he knew that Spike had work as well. Putting it off wouldn't get it done.


Three hours later Spike stuck his head in the door and announced that he wanted his boy. Xander looked up from his paper and rubbed at one blood shot eye.

"Here pet. Wot's this?"

Xander dropped the paper onto the desk. "It's in Latin. I hate Latin. But it's for that ... Lord Blak something. Too many consonants and not enough vowels. You wanted me to do this one particularly. So I'm working on it."

Spike nodded. "I remember. But if ... wot's wrong? Why are your eyes blood shot?"

Xander sighed and rubbed at the other eye, irritating it even more. "The letters crawl around like bugs. I usually refuse Latin. And this is in another one of those damn translations from some other language. Give me some nice Druidic Gaelic or Greek any demon language. Please. Just not this fucked up bastard mishmash and whoever wrote this spells worse than I do."

Spike just walked around the desk, intercepting Xander's hands as they rose to rub again. "Stop that. You're only making it worse. Come with me."

Xander didn't resist when Spike took him back to their quarters. He was tired. The eye strain had worn him out. He obediently lay down on the bed when Spike ordered him to.

Spike went into the bedroom and got a bottle of eye drops. He coaxed Xander into allowing him to put them in his eyes. Then he put a cool wet rag over Xander's eyes and told him to rest.

Xander fell asleep almost immediately.


The next three days went quickly and Xander was finally ready for his surprise.

"Spike. Will you trust me?"

Spike looked up from the book he was reading, took off his glasses and shrugged. "Sure. Actually you're the only human in this bloody town I do trust."

Xander bounced a bit in excitement. "And who else do you trust?"

Spike shrugged. "Timmins. So ... you gonna squeak beef or not?"

Xander figured he'd better get on with things. If Spike reached a certain point, he'd get pig stubborn on him.

"Yeah, ok. Come on. Come with me. I've got an unbirthday present for you."

Spike followed Xander into one of the rooms on the next level down. He eyed the chair with a puzzled look. It was just a plain dining room chair, straight backed and rather uncomfortable.

"It's a chair. Delighted, I'm sure."

Xander shook his head. "That's not the present. This is." He pulled the cover off a contraption that made Spike snicker.

"Well, pet, creatin' Frankenstein's monster all over again?"

Xander shook his head. "Re-creating Bloody Billy. Sit in the chair."

Spike blinked at Xander's use of one of his noms de gueir. "I'll go along, pet. But I'll admit to being fair bum fuzzled."

Spike settled in the chair and Xander moved his apparatus into place. He really hoped this worked. He'd reassured himself that if it didn't, it wouldn't harm Spike.

"Ok, now, I don't know if this will hurt or not. I hope not. But ... um ... I'm going to try to deactivate that chip."

Spike sighed, just like Xander to try the impossible. "Pet. Much as I appreciate the effort you can't remove that chip. Got it stuck right down in the middle of me brain. All hooked up nice an' nasty."

Xander checked settings and fiddled a bit. "Yes, I know. I'm not trying to remove it. It's a computer chip. ROM chip. Not a real good one either." Xander pulled a rolling stool over and sat down on it. "See, the chip is just a computer chip and a few wires that send electric currents into parts of your brain when you do whatever it is programmed to keep you from doing. I'm not sure where it gets the current and it's not pertinent to the discussion on hand. So, anyway, it's sensitive to magnetic and electrical impulses. I don't think it's a good idea to run a few thousand volts or watts through you." Spike's ‘me neither' made him grin. "The other option is electromagnetic. And ... um ... the other reason I'm really mad at Willow is. She had schematics and specs on that chip, right down to it's frequency on that computer she gave me. I'm gonna match that frequency and fry it."

Spike felt his mouth fall open. This actually might work.

"Ok pet, let's get to it then."

"Not scared I'll fry your brains?"

Spike shrugged. "Terrified. You tell anyone an' I'll deny it ta my last."

Xander fussed with the equipment for a second. When he flipped the last switch, the machine began to hum. He grunted ‘ready', Spiked nodded and Xander pressed a button. The hum got louder, Spike sat for a moment then sighed.

"Well, it was a good try. But nothing."

Xander just motioned to a being standing in the shadows. "Come here." The being walked up to Spike and just stood looking at him.

"Pinch him."

Spike reached out and pinched the being who winced and said "ouch"


Xander grinned fit to split his face. "He's human. All human."

Spike glared at the man who just grinned and nodded. "Mom always said I was a pig, but ... human." He nodded once and left.

Spike just stood for a moment then he started to shake. Xander gathered him into strong arms and cuddled him. "So, ok? It's good?" He just petted and murmured as Spike struggled to control the tremors that shook him to his core. He was free. Finally, miraculously free.

"I'm free. I can do what ... I'm goin' out."

Xander opened his arms and nodded. "Figured you would. Don't eat any innocents. Ok?"

Spiked grinned. "Ok, pet, I won't. Just to make you happy. Mind if I eat a mugger or a pimp or two?"

"Eat a bad guy? I'm not sayin' a word. Just don't eat my dad, he'll make you sick. Go. Run. Hunt. Come back safe." Xander made shooing motions.

Spike caught him in a bear hug then ran out the door with a whoop. Xander shook his head and went to tell Timmins that the experiment had been a success.

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