A Life Less Ordinary

C. Woodhaven

Part Four

Xander stood on the balcony, looking out at the lights of Sunnydale. He was out here avoiding the blonde menace who had taken up residence in his spare room.

He was pissed that he’d let Buffy and Willow talk him into this living arrangement. He was even more pissed because it made him feel like a guest in his own place. Actually, in general, he was just pissed most of the time, and not in the fun, drunk British way.

And if he examined exactly why he was pissed, it all came back to Anya. She hadn’t called. He’d seen her the night before last and she’d been…off…a little skittish and secretive. Xander didn’t think that anyone else noticed – Buffy, Dawn and Willow had been engrossed in their love of all things R.J. Who would have thought that an enchanted letterman’s jacket could cause so much trouble? Thank god Anya hadn’t seen the kid – she’d have probably robbed a bank, or something.

Staring blankly at the town below, Xander decided that Anya probably wasn’t going to call. He didn’t even have a name for how that made him feel. What did you call angrydisappointedanxiousdepressedrejectedunloved? Today he was calling that feeling Anya.

The door to the balcony opened and Spike sauntered out, unlit cigarette hanging from his lips. He stopped short when he saw Xander. “Sorry, didn’t know you were here.”

“Would that have stopped you?” Xander replied nastily, the anger of the last few days welling up and spilling over.

Looking surprised by the level of vehemence, Spike plucked the cigarette from his mouth. “What’s your problem, Harris?”

“You’re kidding, right?” Xander replied, incredulous. “You tried to rape my best friend.”

A guilty expression flitted across Spike’s face briefly and Xander knew he’d hit the mark. Then the vampire’s expression turned nasty. “Dropping that word makes you feel all manly, doesn’t it?”

“What? No!” Turning the revulsion he felt outward, Xander asked harshly, “You denying what you did?”

“Never bloody have, why start now?” Spike laughed mirthlessly. “Bit of pot and kettle you got going there. Not like I was the first one to try that with her. Seem to remember Buffy mentioning something about you thinking you were entitled to it once, too.”

Shame flooded Xander at the memory. And while the thought still made bile rise in his throat, it also sparked deeper feelings and memories that he desperately wanted to stay buried. “I was possessed!”

“And I wasn’t?” Spike seemed to sense a change in Xander and moved in for the kill, both physically and verbally. Flicking his cigarette out into the void of the night, he stalked toward Xander. He was so close, he pinned Xander to the edge of the balcony – their chests touching. The words compact and well muscled made a brief appearance in Xander’s mind. “Bet you still remember the thrill of the hunt; the taste of fresh prey in your mouth.”

“No. I don’t remember anything.” Xander protested. Sweat pricked down his spine, though, as Spike’s words struck home.

“Bollocks,” Spike replied. “That’s the fairy tale you spun Buffy and the rest. But I can see the truth in your eyes; smell it on your skin.”

Xander felt himself pale.

“Naturally, you wanted someone who understood,” Spike continued, his voice a low, husky whisper, “And when she refused, you did what any monster would do – you tried to take!”

“But I didn’t hurt her,” Xander protested, giving up all pretense of amnesia. Sadly, the excuse sounded lame and pathetic, even to himself.

Spike ignored the token protest, continuing his whispered litany. It was strangely hypnotic. “You would have, if she hadn’t stopped you.”

And apparently Buffy had forgotten to tell him the world was ending tonight. It had to be, because Spike was right. Xander felt sick.

He remembered pinning her down, holding her to the ground and scenting her. He’d felt every inch a predator and recognized the same within her. She was the alpha to his beta – a perfect mate, if he could tame her and prove he was worthy. But she’d rejected his advances and then bested him.

Spike pressed his lips to Xander’s ear, anyone looking up from the parking lot would think that they were lovers, or something. Xander crushed the sudden, unwelcome surge of heat that accompanied that thought.

The vampire inhaled deeply. He thought for a moment that Spike might kiss him and was terrified. Shit. “Can still smell it, under the surface. You remember the thrill don’t you?”

Spike’s eyes were piercing, but Xander couldn’t mistake the flash of longing and disgust beneath the anger. His mouth went dry as he realized how closely those feelings mirrored his own. “Yes,” he whispered.

Surprised by the admission, Spike stepped away. “Got enough guilty voices yammering in my head, ‘bout the shit I’ve done. I’d like to have some respite. ‘Least here.” He almost seemed to be pleading with Xander. “Not asking for forgiveness…just civility.”

Suddenly Xander realized he was tired of constantly battling with Spike. He’d left Anya at the altar because he was so afraid of ending up like his father, but hello, lashing out whenever things didn’t go his way was another classic Tony Harris trait and Xander was sick to death of living up to Harris family traditions. Enough was enough. “Okay,” he agreed.

And score one for the Xandman, because Spike actually looked stunned. “That’s it? Okay?”

Xander sighed, exasperatedly. “Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Well, yeah, but you’ve never rolled over so easy before.” Spike studied him, before admitting cautiously, “’Spected at least a punch, or a death threat.”

“Guess I’m fresh out.” Xander looked at Spike for a long beat. He felt like they’d made headway, or something, but wasn’t sure what it really meant. The last few days had been a completely unfun roller coaster ride and tight knots of stress were woven into the muscles of his shoulders. “I’m going in. You think you can you keep it down, when you come in tonight. I have to get up early for work.”

“I…sure.” Spike replied, and then shoved his hands in his pockets and lifted his chin defiantly. “Just for tonight, mind you.”

Xander grinned at his posturing. “Got it. Thanks.”


Tired as he was, Xander found he couldn’t sleep. The peculiar conversation on the balcony, with Spike, brought to the surface memories that he usually kept behind the door in his mind marked Keep Out – Danger Ahead.

He was almost ashamed to feel his cock swell as he remembered the feeling of power. To the hyena, things had been so simple. He was strong and the world was his oyster. Not that he really liked oysters – he was more of a Hershey man – but Hallmark was never gonna trademark The world is your chocolate bar.

Xander’s hand drifted down his torso; unconsciously he avoided brushing against the three jagged streaks of scar tissue that marred his chest; three lightening strikes and you’re out.

His hand slipped around his cock, stroking lightly as he relived the heady memories of the moment he’d had Buffy beneath him. The scent of her skin had driven him wild –clean, fresh sunshine mixed with the earthy scent of hunter and the smallest tang of fear.

Hand moving faster now, he remembered how Buffy pushed him away, slamming him into the Coke machine as she spurned his affections. Xander arched his back and then gasped as a sharp pain radiated from his right shoulder as it pressed into the mattress. It was the bruise he’d gotten when Anya’s door slammed into him.

Without analyzing what he was doing, as his thumb swept across the slicksensitive head of his cock on the next upstroke, he reached up with his other hand and pressed on the bruise. It was like an electric shock straight to his dick. He did it again.

This time, the sharphot prick of pain made him suck in his breath and his balls drew up. “God, yes.”

In his fantasy, Buffy forced him to his knees, squeezing his shoulder hard. His cock jumped in his hand.

Are you sure this is what you want? And suddenly, Buffy morphed to Anya.

His heart pounded against his chest, and he whispered, “Yesss...” to the empty room.

You’re mine, Xander, fantasy Anya whispered, and Xander was suddenly so close to the edge. He pressed the bruise rhythmically, keeping time with his strokes searching for that one thing that would send him over.

Words flickered through his mind in a breathless whisper, along with the impression of a cool, compact and well-muscled chest pressed against him. Bet you remember the thrill of the hunt…

Xander shuddered and came, fingers digging harshly into his shoulder and his hips lifting off the bed. Ribbons of thick, warm spend spilled over his belly and hand.

Lying there, panting in the dark, Xander deliberately avoided thinking about his fantasy. It wasn’t like it was real, anyway. Buffy had beaten him and didn’t want him, Anya apparently didn’t want him, either, and finding out he had something in common with a psychopathic vampire killer…Priceless. God, he was a loser.

Without looking, Xander opened the drawer to his nightstand and pulled out the small hand towel he kept there. Why trek to the bathroom when he could have all the comforts of home right there? He swiftly cleaned himself off and dropped the dirty towel onto the floor. He’d toss it in the laundry tomorrow morning.

Bone weary, spent and depressed, Xander curled around his pillow and tried to sleep.


Anya lifted the picture from the table. It was one that Willow had taken on Halloween, before the world crashed down. She studied Xander’s face, looking for some clue that he would betray her, but he just looked happy. They both did. Anya had been blindsided when he left her. She truly hadn’t expected it.

Hollow and bereft inside, she’d accepted D’Hoffryn’s offer to leave her nauseating mortality behind, without a second thought. But after a year of vengeance, Anya found that she didn’t have the stomach for that anymore, either. It left her floating aimlessly, not fitting in anywhere. Silly little Anya, always doing things incorrectly no matter how hard she tried to fit in.

Xander kneeling before her, though, had given her a thrill she hadn’t expected. She'd hesitated to call him because she was tired of learning new rules. But the promise of feeling powerful and in-control again, was almost too much to resist.

If she were being honest with herself, she wanted to be with him again, even if it wouldn't be the same. She didn't trust him to carry out his end of the bargain. He’d proven quite well that he would run if things got tough.

That meant she would have to be the strong one and not give a single inch if he disobeyed. And she would need to keep herself closed off from him. They couldn't be a couple. This was a…business arrangement…and she would have to end things, if he didn't follow through.

At first, Anya wasn't sure if she could do that. But the more she read on the subject, the more she realized she could. This time, because it would be on her terms, things would be better. This time she’d call the….

“Don’t tell me you’re considering taking up with that human again, Anyanka?”

Anya turned and dropped the picture frame, startled. “Hallie?”

“In the flesh,” Halfrek held out her hands, examining them. “or not, so to speak.”

“You’re dead.” Anya frowned. “I saw you die.”

“You killed me. I know.” Hallie waved a hand dismissively, but her eyes were cold. “What’s a slaying between friends?”

“I didn’t want you to die,” Anya said defensively. “It was me – D’Hoffryn was supposed to take me.”

“What and kill his favorite?” Halfrek’s expression hardened. “Oh please, what was hundreds of years worth of loyal service, compared to the great Anyanka?”

“That’s not me anymore.” Anya shook her head. “What do you want?”

“All work and no play makes Anya a dull girl. You could suck the fun right out of a Treflax slaughter.” Halefreck sighed. “Fine. Here’s the deal: something’s coming, something big and we want you to be a part of the winning team.”

Anya studied the ghost of her old friend. Something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on what. “Who’s we?”

Hallie breezed past her question, her eyes glittering malevolently. “It’ll be like old times – death, destruction and chaos, like you’ve never seen. Finally, the humans will be put in their place, once and for all.”

Anya narrowed her eyes. That was what was wrong. Hallie lived for dispensing justice and this wasn’t justice she was talking about; it was devastation. Revolutions were more her thing, wherever the poor, pitiful, smelly masses rose up and slaughtered their rich, evil (but much better smelling) oppressors, Hallie had a hand in it. Whatever this was, it wasn’t her old friend. Anya crossed her arms defiantly. “And if I don’t?”

Hallie’s eyes went black. “You really don’t want to know the answer to that, Anyanka.”

Anya rolled her eyes. “Let me guess: from beneath you, it devours?”

Hallie grinned nastily, sharp fangs sprouting in her mouth. “You got it, toots. Think it over.”

Anya watched, repulsed, as Hallie curled inside herself, until all that remained were those horrible snapping teeth. She disappeared with a pop.

Chills broke out all over the skin of Anya’s arms and she angrily rubbed them away. She hated feeling helpless - being caught between worlds – not human enough to be human and not demon enough to be a demon.

She looked over at the phone and realized that she didn’t have to feel that way. Not anymore.

It was time to call Xander.

Part Five

God, it had been such a long day. The new and improved Sunnydale High was still one gymnasium away from completion and Rico and Tiny hadn’t shown up this morning. Xander had to roll up his sleeves and help install the lockers in the gym. Funny how the thought of spending the day in the girl’s locker room was so much more enticing when he’d attended high school.

He was bone tired, looking forward to putting his feet up and drinking a couple beers. One quick call to Buffy confirmed that there was nothing more harsh on the horizon than a popcorn and movie fest at the Summer’s house. There would be chick flicks abound and Xander wasn’t required to attend.

Spike was already gone for the night, so he just needed a quick shower, a beer (not in that order) and both the couch and remote were his. Opening the fridge, Xander stared at the empty shelves, frowning. The six-pack he’d left in there, last night, was now a one-pack. Fuck.

Leaning on the refrigerator door, Xander stared morosely at the shelf, as if his lone Sam Adam’s five brothers were going to magically reappear. Instead of his beer appearing, however, the phone rang.

Xander let the fridge door fall shut as he picked up the phone, wondering who could be calling. He hoped the world wasn’t ending, after all – because after the day he’d had – that would really suck.


Anya started speaking without preamble. “I’ve thought about it and I will take you up on your offer.”

Xander gripped the phone tightly. This was unexpected; it was also exciting and terrifying. Last night, he’d been convinced that she was going to turn him down. His mouth was suddenly dry.

“Really? That’s great. When do we -?” He didn’t even begin to have a clue about the etiquette of what they were going to do.

“I expect you to be at my apartment, tonight, at precisely eight, to discuss the arrangement,” Anya said in a strange, crisp voice.

Xander looked at the clock. “Ahn, that’s only fifteen minutes.”

“You’d better hurry, then.” Anya hung up the phone.


Xander barely made it. He’d broken more traffic laws than he cared to count and had to sprint up eight flights of stairs. He was panting hard when he knocked on Anya’s door.

Anya opened it immediately, studying him critically. “Your attire leaves something to be desired, however, you were prompt. Take a seat on the couch.”

Nervously, Xander walked into the living room, making sure to avoid the scorched spot on the carpet. He was feeling very disconcerted. Already things were not going as he’d pictured them, which never boded well for him.

He perched on the edge of the couch as Anya sank into the floral chair opposite. Xander frowned when she picked up a clipboard.

“All right. We need to negotiate what acts you are comfortable with.” Anya looked up at him eagerly, pen poised.

Xander laughed anxiously at her clinical tone.  “Ahn, I’m sure I’ll be fine with whatever you want to do.”

Her expression turned cool and she sounded a little irritated. “Xander, we either do this, or the deal’s off.”

“Oh, okay,” Xander agreed apprehensively. He hadn’t expected anything so…formal. He thought she’d jump at the chance to order him around, and he trusted her not to go too far. This made him feel a little uneasy.

Anya looked down at her clipboard, back to business. “You simply have to indicate to me if you feel comfortable with the items I mention. You are permitted to ask questions.”

Xander was a little taken aback by this last statement, thrown out so casually, as if there would be a time when questions would not be permitted. His palms were suddenly sweaty and he wiped them nervously on his pants.

“All right, let’s begin. Spanking?”

Xander looked away. “Yes.” He heard her pen scratch across the page making an unmistakable checkmark sound.





Xander hesitated and she looked up from her list, concerned. “Is that a no?”

“No. I mean, well, what kinds of toys?” His face was hot.

“Well, there are quite a few. Do you want me to list them individually?”

Xander shook his head. “I guess what I’m asking is, what would they be for, exactly?”

Anya frowned.

Xander rushed on, before she could ask anything further. “I mean, would there be …um…penetration?” The last word was almost a whisper.

She still looked concerned, but less so now. “Generally, yes. Does that bother you? Would you like me to remove it from the list?”

Xander looked down at his hands and then back up at her. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve always been more of an exit-only, don’t-ask-don’t-tell guy.”

Anya nodded and then wrote something much lengthier than a checkmark, on her paper. Xander felt like he was at a parent-teacher conference.

“Alright,” Anya flipped to the next page. “Would you prefer spanking or flogging?”

A nervous titter escaped Xander’s lips. He couldn’t help it. The absolute absurdity of her clipboard, combined with the fact that answering was just plain embarrassing, made it impossible to keep silent.

She put down her clipboard. “Xander, this may not be the best way for us to talk about what we are going to do, but we do need to discuss things.”

“No, Ahn, I know. I’m just…embarrassed."

Her forehead wrinkled. “Perhaps, we shouldn’t do this. If you can’t talk about these things, you shouldn’t be doing them.”

Xander remembered giving Willow the same advice, and boy did he now realize it made him sound like a dick. The delivery needed serious work. He tried to put his feelings into words. “It’s not what you’re asking that’s embarrassing, well not totally. I just feel like I’m in a job interview. And generally speaking, I suck at those.”

Anya’s expression didn’t soften, precisely, but she looked at him thoughtfully. Then she said curtly, “Take your clothing off.”

Okay, that was out of left field. “What?”

“Xander, part of what you are asking me to do, is to control you,” Anya explained tersely. “That means you do not get to question my authority. Don’t make me ask again.”

Xander opened his mouth to protest and then shut it just as quickly. She was right. Nervously, he stood and began to unbutton his shirt. His fingers felt like they were stuffed with cotton.

“Slow down.”

“Okay.” He took a deep breath and tried to slow down. It was a lot like trying to drive at fifteen miles an hour when a cop was watching. Finally, he was naked, facing her with his hands hanging awkwardly by his sides. He was half-hard and embarrassed that he could no longer hide that fact.

“You may kneel there.” She pointed to a place on the floor, to the left of her chair.

Clumsily, he did as she asked, thankful that his position didn’t put him right in her line of sight.

“Is that better?” she asked kindly.

Surprisingly, Xander found that yes, this was better. All of his nervousness was now spent on hello, naked thoughts and he found it was much easier to answer the rest of her pointed and really, really explicit questions. The fact that Anya had known that about him, something that he didn't know himself, made him feel a little less scared about what they were going to do.

When Anya finally finished and set her clipboard down, Xander’s stomach fluttered with twin butterflies of excitement and terror. He wasn’t sure what to expect next.

“Last question, Xander.”

His shoulders sagged with relief.

“Are you ready to begin your first lesson tonight? Or do you need time to collect your thoughts?”

Oh god, he hadn’t thought that he’d have a choice. But then Xander hadn’t expected tonight to go the way it had, either: with the questions and the naked kneeling on the floor Honestly…he didn’t think he could take the stress of waiting one more day. “Tonight.”

Anya smiled, looking pleased that he had agreed to start their lessons at once. She leaned across her chair and stroked his cheek, just like she’d done the last time he’d been kneeling before her. His skin flushed hotly. “This won’t be like when we were dating, Xander. When you’re here, you’re my sub. You can’t hide behind your jokes, or be funny - you have to trust me to take care of you. Can you do that?”

Sincerity shone through her eyes as they held his, but Xander could also read a solemnity beneath that made his stomach flutter. “Yes.”

“Thank you.” Her thumb swept across his cheekbone one last time, before she withdrew her hand. Her expression hardened. “Stand.”

Suddenly, the air between them was charged. His skin was almost tingling. Awkwardly he rose to his feet, feeling the slight pricks of pins-and-needles. It wasn’t that painful, taking a back seat to his swiftly filling cock.

Anya rose as well and…inspected him, was the only phrase that came to mind. She made him straighten his shoulders and widen his stance several times, until he got the position she wanted.

“Close your eyes.”

Nervous apprehension filled him, and Xander was barely able to force his eyes shut.

Anya’s hands were everywhere, tracing his shoulders, cupping his ass, pinching his nipples. Her fingers gently brushed the bruise on his shoulder, and his cock twitched. The tips of his ears flamed hotly and he hoped she hadn't seen the reaction, or hadn't made the connection.

No such luck. Her fingers skimmed the bruise a second time, and his traitorous dick reacted again. What kind of a pervert got off on pain like that? A Xander-shaped one, apparently. And now Anya knew it. He couldn't contain the moan that escaped when she pressed on the bruise, hard.

Xander blushed but didn’t try to pull away when she wrapped her tiny hand around his hard shaft and began stroking him. Pre-come welled up and spilled over, easing her way and allowing her to speed up her strokes. The palm of her hand brushed against the sensitive crown of his cock just as she pushed on the bruise with the thumb of her other hand.

"Oh god, Anya," he hissed and his dick jumped in her hand.

Her hands stilled at once and his stomach plunged. “You will address me as Mistress, when you have permission to speak. Do you understand?”

Okay, that was a rule he could follow. It freaked him out, again, hearing that he might not always have permission to speak. “I, yes…Mistress.” The word felt strange coming from his mouth, but Anya made an approving sound. She didn't resume stroking him, but placed a kiss on the bruise on his shoulder.

"You're doing well, Xander."

A strange sort of pride filled him at these words and some of the nervous tension left him.

“Willow did these.”

Xander realized, too late, that she’d never seen the scars on his chest. Usually he was unbelievably conscious of them, ashamed of how they looked. He’d been so distracted by her questions, hell, by everything tonight, that he’d lost his self-consciousness. It returned full force, and he almost opened his eyes, before he remembered to keep them closed. “Yes…Mistress.”

He felt a finger trace the scar tissue at the top of his ribcage. His dick began to wilt and he tried to pull away slightly. It wasn’t more than a twitch, but Anya’s voice was sharp. "Stand still, Xander."

Shit. “I wasn’t trying….I’m sorry," he apologized and then added swiftly, "Mistress.” God, remembering that was going to be a lot harder than he’d realized.

"Tell me about these."

He flashed to the side of the mountain. Willow was there, trying to stop him any way she could. The first flash of magic struck him and it had hurt so badly. He’d had to keep the pain inside, for fear he'd blow it and the world would end because he wasn't good enough to save it from his best friend.

“Oh god, Anya...Mistress. I – can't.” Now he knew why she’d been so clear about not joking around. He pursed his lips together and concentrated on holding himself still because he could feel his shoulders want to curl in and a goofy laugh well up and spill out.

"Yes, you can," Anya said firmly, as she put a comforting hand on his hip, rubbing gently. "Take your time, Xander, but I want you to tell me how you felt when this happened.”

The realization sank in that she was serious, and she wasn't going to let him get out of telling her. It was almost as if she were slicing the wounds open again.

He began to speak, his voice a shaky whisper.

The smell of salt air and the sounds of the ocean kept him company as he ascended the bluff. Once he neared the top, however, chanting overtook the sound of the waves and the ground began to shake beneath his feet. The salt in the air didn't subside, almost as if the earth was crying at being rent apart.

Xander sprinted up the last small hill and saw the new and improved Willow. "I see that Evil is the new black," he called out cheerfully.

Her dark eyes fell upon him and he had the sudden revelation that he could actually be swallowed up by their inky darkness, if she wanted.

"Get out of here, Xander," Willow said coldly. "This doesn't concern you."

Xander shoved his hands in his pockets, looking first at the spire that was protruding from the ground and then back to Willow. "Sorry Will, I can't do that. I heard someone was going to end the world."

Her haughty expression was chilling, a nasty parody of the girl he’d grown up with. “Still making jokes.”

Xander shrugged and said, with a bravado he really didn’t feel, "You want to bring all this to an end - fine. But you start with me. I’ve earned that."

She raised a hand. "Don't think I won't."

Xander took a step closer. "Go ahead, because I'm not going to stop."

"Xander, I'm warning you." Her voice didn't waver and Xander felt the distinct crackle of magic ripple across his skin, like an evil breeze.

He took another step, before white hot pain seared across his chest. His knees buckled. Dear god, he hadn't thought it would hurt so much. Ignoring the hot flair of pain, he rose shakily to his feet, absently noticing bright blooms of blood soaking his shirt. They’d round out the palm trees nicely. "We lost Tara, too."

"Don't you dare talk about her," Willow shouted and a second hot flair of pain hit him, lower than the first. He was able to keep his feet under him this time, but it was a near thing.

"She may have loved you best, Willow, but I loved you first," Xander said truthfully. "First day of kindergarten, you remember? You looked up at me with those big, green eyes, terrified that you’d broken the yellow crayon, and I was lost.”

"Shut up!"

The sizzle of pain was less intense this time. He was getting through. Somehow he managed to keep going, even though the world was starting to take on a greyish cast. "You've come pretty far. Ending the world, not a terrific notion. But the thing is? Yeah. I love you. I loved crayon-breaky Willow and I love... scary, veiny Willow. So if I'm going out, it's here, with my best friend.”

Her eyes slipped to green and the black drained out of her hair and skin. She looked so lost. "She's gone, Xander. I can't believe she's gone."

Willow crumpled to the ground and Xander followed. His whole life, that was what he’d always done. "I know. I'm sorry."

Everything was such a blur after that, because of the blood loss. He had only the barest of impressions of leaving Willow with Giles, before stumbling toward the hospital. He'd blacked out at some point on the way there, and woken briefly in the emergency room, hoping his mumbled response of 'rogue pitchfork' to their frantic questions made sense.

The next time he came to, he was settled in a private room and it felt like he had an acre of gauze wrapped around his chest. A nurse was checking the fluid bottle before making a few quick notes on a piece of paper. Carole was her name, assuming the black tag pinned to her chest could be trusted.

He shifted in bed, and her eyes found his. Smiling gently, she said softly, "Hey, It’s good to see you up."

“How long have I been here?”

Glancing at the wall clock she estimated, "About eighteen hours. Can you tell me your name?"

"Uh...Xander." He wondered why no one had told her.

“Good.” Carole nodded, pleased, and made a notation on his chart. He realized that she had been testing him. "You weren’t making much sense in the emergency room,” she explained. “You spent about twelve hours on the critical list in ICU, so you weren’t allowed visitors. Someone named…" she raised her eyebrows as she read from the chart, “Buffy, was looking for you.

Xander was relieved that she was okay. “Is she here?”

The nurse shook her head gently. “I’m sorry. She said she had to go. Something about her sister…”

His face fell. “Oh, sure. Dawnie.”

"So, what happened, Xander?"

"I don't remember much. I was in a barn..." Xander replied vaguely.

"And suddenly you stepped into some black magic?" she asked, bemused.

Too tired to be stunned, he simply went with her observation. "Something like that."

"You're lucky to be alive. We had to suture your wounds three separate times to get them to close - it's possible that they'll reopen again. You really can't afford to lose much more blood, so you'll need to stay here for a few more days, until we're sure you're healing."

Buffy stopped by as much as she could, but that wasn’t often. Things were crazy. Giles whisked Willow off to England, and Dawn was barely coping with finding Tara, on top of nearly being buried alive. He told her it was no big deal. No visitors meant he got to eat the gourmet hospital cuisine all by himself.

He told himself that saving the world was what mattered. Everyone was living and breathing. No one ever thanked Buffy for her world savage, and she was the slayer. But as much as he tried, he couldn't get past the huge gaping hole of
alone that set up residence in his gut.

Xander felt a tear trickle down his face and he barely stopped himself from wiping it away. The soft brush of Anya's thumb on his cheek startled him.

"Thank you, Xander. For telling me." Her fingers traced the thickest scar, near his collarbone. “This one is deepest. It was the first, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, Mistress.” That one had opened twice more before he’d left the hospital and the ropy scar was twisted and angry.

“Open your eyes.”

Her hazel eyes locked with his and she placed a kiss on the scar. “You weren’t alone. I visited you every night. I told D’Hoffryn that I wanted to watch you suffer, but…I needed to make sure you were okay.”

Xander almost gasped as the some of the lonely ache inside vanished. He rocked a bit, unsteady on his feet. Anya placed her hand on his hip, stilling him. Grounding him. He was grateful for the support.

Then her hand slipped from his hip, between his legs. She gently stroked his softened cock as she licked and kissed the scars on his chest. Xander couldn’t look away, even if he wanted to.

Her intense gaze, coupled with the teasing touches to the sensitive scar tissue, made him shudder.

“Every part of you belongs to me now, Xander.” Heat surged inside him at those words, and his cock began to harden in her hand. “Do you understand?”

For the first time that night, the words fell easily from his lips. “Yes, Mistress.”

Using his cock as a leash, Anya led him to the small second room. There was a stack of collapsed boxes leaning against one wall and a pile of packing supplies next to it.

“This will be our playroom. Your task this evening is to pack everything except the furniture. You do not have permission to speak.”

And this was not what he’d expected, either. He’d thought whipping and possibly kinky sex, if she was open for that. But, in his head he’d agreed to do whatever she wanted, and cleaning the room fell safely under the ‘whatever.’

Xander began to sift through the contents of the room, feeling awkward doing it naked.

Occasionally, Anya would tell him to freeze. The first time, he made the mistake of putting down the lamp he was carrying. His stomach knotted up when she told him that if he disobeyed her again, she would send him home for the evening. After that, he stilled immediately, when he heard her command.

Sometimes Anya just watched him until he was shaking from the strain of remaining motionless. Other times she would touch him, stroking his skin until he was trembling. His nerves were haywire by the time he finished.

When the last box was stacked at the far end of the room, Anya slowly removed her clothes and sat on the edge of the bed. Slowly, deliberately, she lay back, parting her legs.

It took all the remaining strength Xander had to stay where he was and not join her until she pointed to the floor in front of her. Kneeling before her, Xander felt like he was coming home. It was the first time he’d tasted her since before the wedding. She kept him between her thighs until his jaw ached and she was nearly boneless – her muscles made of pudding.

Breathlessly, she’d told him to get dressed and that he was expected back every evening, until further notice, at exactly nine pm – unless the world was ending.

She’d also ordered him not to touch himself.


It was well past midnight when Xander got back to his apartment building. He had the worst case of blue-balls he could ever imagine, and Cordelia had caused some doozies. As far as punishment went, it was nothing like he’d expected, and exactly what he needed.

There wasn’t a chance that he was going to be able to navigate the stairs, so he took the elevator. Driving, he was okay, walking – not so much. He finally made it to the door of his apartment and spun the key in the lock, before stumbling through. His feet still weren’t getting with the program.

Spike looked up sharply. “Harris?”

Xander’s head whipped toward the living room, panicked. Crap. Spike. “Oh. You’re here,” he said, stupidly.

Spike raised his eyebrows. “Yeah, I still live here.”

“I – yeah. I know.” Xander ran his hand through his hair, and looked nervously around. “I just thought you'd be out…you know…being nocturnal and all.”

Spike shrugged. “Can take a night off, every once in awhile, can’t I?”

Instead of poking back at him, quick and vicious, Xander’s mind went blank. “I, yeah, sure.”

“You all right?” Spike actually sounded concerned.

Suddenly, Xander realized that he needed to get out of the living room before Spike figured out just where he’d been – or with whom. He wasn’t sure if Anya wanted anyone to know what they were doing – they hadn’t discussed it at all. “Sure. Fine. I just need a shower and some sleep. Turn the TV off when you’re done.”

Xander didn’t wait for a response; he made a beeline for the shower.

Once he was under the spray, he took several deep breaths, placing his hands on the tiles, forcing himself to keep them there. He closed his eyes, trying, wanting, praying, that the Hi-Def image of Anya moaning beneath him would just go away.

Even after Spike turned up the volume, so damn loud, on his movie that the walls were thumping and it sounded like there was an army tearing through the living room, his dick would not get the message. As a last resort, Xander turned the spray on full cold. The change in temperature took his breath away. Within ten seconds he was shivering, but his desire to jack-off had receded, finally.

He turned the water off, thankful to get out from under the stinging, icy needles. Quickly, he dried off, happy that Spike had turned the volume down without being screamed at. He really wasn’t in the mood. He was exhausted and wanted to go to sleep.

Slipping on his sleep pants, he threw the towel over his shoulder, intending to head for his bedroom. His plans, and exhaustion, were forgotten, the second he left the bathroom.

The apartment was trashed. One of the windows was broken, the front door was hanging askew in its frame, and there was a body lying on the floor, brown robes in disarray. Spike was nowhere to be found.

Xander, sick feeling in his gut, had to pick through the rubble to find the phone. He dialed swiftly, unable to believe that he’d been so distracted that he hadn’t realized what was going on in the next room.

“Buffy, Spike’s gone,” Xander began, as soon as she answered the phone. “I…you’re not going to believe this….the Bringers took him.”

He looked over at the corpse on the floor. “Yes, I’m sure…kind of hard to miss those worshiping at the church of the missing eyes…No, I’m fine… I’ll be here.” Xander glanced at the wreckage. “Yeah, the door’s open.”

Part Six

The words practically glowed, stark black against the pale flesh of his belly. He couldn’t take his eyes off them in the mirror. They were scary but beautiful at the same time.

“Xander!” Dawn's shout was followed by three swift knocks on the bathroom door that seemed to echo infinitely in Xander’s ears.

Xander dropped his shirt like it was on fire, his face flaming.

“Yeah?” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat, but Dawn didn’t seem to notice.

“Giles is gonna start in a minute.”

“Be out in a sec.”

Dawn bustled away and Xander sighed with relief. He had no idea how he was going to make it through the meeting. Somehow, being all distracted was much easier to pull off in high school. Now, people expected him to have input. Not that they took it, but he was required to make the effort.

He finally got himself under control and walked into the living room. Giles was standing stiffly to one side, as if he were shielding the three girls he’d brought with him. Everyone else had taken a seat. Well, everyone except Buffy, who was leaning against the wall, her arms crossed. Her thinly veiled look of distrust wasn’t veiled that thinly. Xander really didn’t blame her. It had been three days since Spike had been taken and everyone was on edge. It was like he’d vanished off the face of the Earth.

Xander scanned the available seats, doing his best not to look directly at Anya. If he did, he knew he’d give something away. He perched on the edge of the ottoman, next to Willow and turned his attention to Giles just as the watcher cleared his throat.

“The First Evil,” Giles began. “Born out of the darkness before time began. It is the spiritual embodiment of rage, hatred and pain. Some have speculated that it was the basis of the Christian devil…”

Xander marveled at how, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. You could take a watcher out of his library but still not lead him to drink…or whatever that saying was. He realized with a start that he’d missed some of the lecture.

“…Now, however, it seems to have taken on a life of its own; no longer requiring the Bringers to project an image, to interact with its victim. For the first time in recorded history, the First seems to be able to manifest itself. It does seem to be limited to taking the form of someone who is deceased, however…”

“Okay, seriously, Giles. We get it,” Buffy interrupted, impatiently. “Evil with a side of more evil. The last time I stopped this thing, I just had to find the Bringers and take them out.”

Rubbing his forehead in frustration, Giles replied, “I’m afraid it won’t be that simple this time. Somehow, it’s become more powerful. The Harbingers are no longer controlling it - the First controls them.

“And…” the watcher paused, uncomfortably. “it also gains access to the memories of the person it’s assuming.”

“So where do the Dixie Chicks fit in?” Xander asked, unable to keep all of the annoyance he felt out of his voice. Giles was being more cryptic than Angel during an apocalypse. It was starting to grate.

“More like the Indigo Girls,” one of the brunettes mumbled and Willow’s head jerked up sharply, looking surprised. The girl eyed her speculatively for a moment, before Willow looked away.

“You know how cranky I get when I don’t know what’s going on.” Buffy peered around Giles, looking meaningfully at Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail. “So spill…is the council going to help us?”

Giles said wearily, “The council has been…destroyed. These books,” he pointed to the meager stack of volumes on the coffee table, “are all that remain.”

Buffy’s eyes widened and Xander realized that she'd suddenly put two and two together. “They were slayers, weren’t they? The girls being hunted down in my dreams.”

“Potential slayers, yes,” Giles confirmed. “The attacks were coordinated in such a way that the council didn’t realize what was happening, until it was too late. Molly, Annabelle, Kennedy and a handful of others – who are on their way here – are all that remains of the slayer line.”

“Giles, I don’t understand,” Dawn broke in, sounding dismayed. “How could this happen?”

“Several ways...it leveraged the knowledge of Gwendolyn Post, Brenda Hawthorne,” Giles paled for a moment. “and…others, for its purpose.”

Brenda Hawthorne? Xander frowned and looked to Willow, who mouthed Faith’s watcher before turning her attention back to Giles.

“It also infiltrated the ranks, spreading doubt and dissent, whilst gathering information. By the time Travers and the rest finally put the pieces together, it was too late. They were exterminated.”

Realization dawned on Willows face. “The terrorist bombing in London last week - that was the council, wasn’t it?”

Looking dismayed, Giles nodded. “Yes.”

“Okay, forgive me for being the village idiot…” Xander interrupted. “but if the whole focus has been on killing the slayers…” He trailed off.

Giles looked at him expectantly. “Yes?”

“What does it want with Spike?”


The back door creaked noisily as Buffy opened it. “So much for stealth,” she muttered. “I’m gonna have to get Xander to look at that.”

Giles smiled affectionately as she leaned on the patch of railing to his left.

“I brought you some tea.” Buffy handed him the mug, grinning widely.

Giles accepted it, looking at her warily. “Thank you.”

“I’d claim credit for the making, but,” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Apparently some guy named Earl doesn’t like milk in his tea.”

“I see you met Molly.” Giles expression softened and he took a sip of the tea. “She does make a lovely cuppa. I’ll have to thank her.”

Buffy hugged her elbows tightly, trying to chase away the chill that had nothing to do with the air. “So… who visited you?”

Giles lowered his cup, wary expression back. “I beg your pardon.”

Buffy sighed, exasperatedly, “The new evil pain in my ass. Mr. All-touchy-no-feely.”

The watcher took another sip of tea before responding coolly, “What makes you think that I warranted a visit?”

“Come on, Giles. The stiff-upper-lip thing? So not gonna work with me. I know you too well. Don’t make me get out Mister Pointy.”

“It was Merrick,” Giles reluctantly admitted.

Buffy was unprepared for the wave of pain and guilt that crashed over her at the mention of her first watcher. “What did he say?” she asked quietly.

Giles looked like he was going to protest, but then he sighed, “The usual doom and gloom. The slayer line would end, evil would triumph, the world would be plunged into a thousand years of darkness.” He casually took a sip of his tea. “It was really rather droll.”

“Uh huh.” Buffy’s eyebrows rose skeptically. “And the thing you don’t wanna tell me.”

Giles looked out across the back yard, scanning the horizon, his expression haunted. “That you wouldn’t protect me. I’d die screaming, with you looking on…helpless and afraid…just as he did.”

He looked back at Buffy and shrugged, unconcernedly. “I told you: droll.”

Cold fury descended, and she whispered vehemently, “I would never let that happen to you.”

“I know that, Buffy. You didn’t let it happen to him either. Lothos was incredibly powerful.” Giles set his mug down and grasped her shoulders. Somehow, whenever he did that it always made her feel comforted and very small at the same time.

She slid her arms around him, drawing reassurance from the man who was more of a father to her than the one she actually had. “I’m glad you’re here.”

“As am I,” Giles agreed. “We’ll beat this, Buffy.”

Buffy withdrew, and Giles picked up his mug once again. They stood in companionable silence for a few moments, before Buffy finally voiced the thought that had been plaguing her. “It can become me, can’t it? Which means it knows all my moves, my methods of attack, everything.”

Nodding slowly, Giles agreed, “Yes, it would be safe to assume so. At least up until the point of your death.”

“So exactly how are we gonna beat this thing?”

“I have no ide –.” The back door opened with a tortured squeal and they turned sharply.

“I promise that was the door, I did not step on the cat,” Xander said swiftly. “You are in desperate need of some WD-40.”

Buffy grinned. “So, what’s going on?”

“Willow and I are heading to my place. She’s tried a couple of locator spells, looking for Spike, and come up with a big, fat, donut hole. She thinks if we have something of his, we can pinpoint him better,” Xander explained. “Hence the field trip.”

Buffy nodded in agreement. Thankful that there was something else that they could try. “Okay, sounds good. And Xander…”

He smiled at her fondly. “You want me to fix the door first, don’t you?”

She looked at him sheepishly. “Would you?”


Willow bit her lip. “I really hope this works, Xander. It’s like the First and his creepy minions swallowed Spike whole.”

“Look, you can set up in here.” Xander pointed to the barren living room. So much more wide open space, since the Bringers had so thoughtfully deconstructed the furniture.

Sitting down in the center of the floor, she opened a map of Sunnydale and began to spread it out. “This is great, thanks.”

“His stuff is in here.” Xander jerked his thumb toward Spike’s room. “I’ll go see if I can find something.”

Willow called after him, “Remember, it has to be really personal.”

“Great,” Xander muttered to himself. “What says personal to a vampire? Pickled eyeballs? Severed heads?”

Funny, now that he was looking for Spike’s things, Xander couldn’t seem to find any. The room was as sparsely furnished as it had been the night the vampire moved in. No additional pictures adorned the walls; there wasn’t anything on the nightstand or dresser, except a green plastic Bic and a pack of Marlboros.

Reluctantly, Xander began opening the drawers, starting at the bottom, feeling guilty about invading Spike’s private space, even for a good cause. The first three he opened were empty. Number four held a few pairs of jeans and some tee shirts.

Xander inhaled sharply as he opened the fifth drawer. Folded neatly inside was Spike’s black duster. He ran a finger over the abused leather, unsure if he could trust his eyes.

He wondered how and when Spike had found it. Xander had nearly burned it, the night he’d found it at Buffy’s, wanting to destroy all remnants of what the vampire had tried to do to his friend. Instead, he’d decided to pack it in a storage box, and tuck it in the labyrinth of the high school’s basement. Because of the Hellmouth, the maze of corridors down there was always changing - maps and building plans were totally useless. It seemed kind of fitting, that if the vampire returned he would be unable to claim it.

As far as Xander knew, Spike hadn’t worn it since he returned.

“Xander?” Willow called, sounding anxious. Unsurprisingly, she was always jittery when she made with the magick these days.

“Yeah…just a sec.” She could probably use the coat as her focus, but somehow it seemed like the old Spike. It didn’t seem to suit the vampire these days. Xander had no idea when he’d started thinking of this Spike as different than the one who left Sunnydale all those months ago, but he had.

He shut the drawer, and opened the sixth and final one. Inside there wasn’t much: bits of paper and some change. Xander was about to close the drawer and bring Willow the coat, when he saw a wooden box tucked back in the far corner. It was cloaked in shadows and the wood blended in with the interior of the drawer, camouflaging it further.

Objects rattled around in it as he easily took it out. Cautiously, he lifted the lid, still partially concerned that he’d find decomposing body parts.

Instead, there was a….collection. This was the mother lode.

He plucked out the first item, it looked like a playbill. Xander couldn’t read much on the program, it was in French, or Russian, or something. The word Giselle was featured prominently on the front, and there were a few wrinkled spots that looked like dried water stains.

Beneath that there was a folded lace handkerchief and some black velvet ribbons, pinned together with an ancient cameo. Xander blanched when he spotted the reddish-brown stains on one corner of the lace. He swiftly put the pile aside, before the visual of Spike or Drusilla using the delicate fabric to blot blood from their lips could fully form in his mind.

Next, there were several torn pieces of paper bundled together with a ribbon. The ink was badly faded; Xander could barely read the writing. Just a few lines on the top one were legible:

But soft... behold!

A sunlight beam.

My heart expands,
'tis grown a bulge in it,

Huh. Maybe it was Shakespeare. Xander added the bundle to the growing pile on the dresser. A small silver brush and a silver ring remained.

Xander picked the ring up, testing its weight. He flashed to Giles’ apartment: Buffy excitedly waving her hand in the air and the light catching on her new silver death bling. “Spike and I are getting married!

“Xander?!” Willow’s anxious voice was beginning to shift into full blown panic.

“I got it.” He put the other things back in the box and closed the lid, before sliding it back into the drawer.

Willow accepted the ring, rolling the silver skull in her hand. “Why would he keep this?”

“Maybe it reminded him of the one day that Buffy really loved him,” Xander said quietly.

“Oh, Xander,” her eyes grew huge and sad.

Xander shrugged, sorry he’d said anything. “Anyway, I figured it was the closest thing to positive Spike memories we could find, and hopefully zero chance of summoning other demons.”

“Good call.” The ring thudded dully as it dropped into the ornate pot she was using for the spell.

Absently, Xander scratched his belly. His fingers brushed against a spot just above his navel and he inhaled sharply, remembering the words transcribed there.

Willow looked up, concerned. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Fine.” He dropped his hand and forced a huge smile, even though his heart was pounding. Attempting to be casual, he plucked at his shirt, making sure it covered the growing bulge in his pants. “So we ready for the spell?”

She eyed him for a few moments longer before turning back to her bowl.

“Yep.” She picked up a handful of herbs and took a deep breath. “Here goes.”


The pain in his head was going to swallow him whole. Spike could feel it radiating in nauseating waves from the center of his brain.

Last thing he remembered, he’d been on the couch at Xander’s, watching an action flick. The boy had come in, smelling like a brothel, and he’d nearly jumped out of his skin when he realized Spike was there. Xander bolted to the shower in record time, but before Spike could suss out what the hell was wrong with him, all hell broke loose. The door burst in and a swarm of deranged monks poured in.

Spike had struck the first one that came at him, plunging his fist through the thing’s chest cavity with sickening ease. He'd fallen to his knees and pain enveloped him as the chip fired and didn’t stop.

It was so unfair. The fucking monk he’d killed wasn’t even human; Spike could bloody well tell, when they’d come through the door. But the bit of silicone in his head had been acting up more’n usual, lately. He would have wondered on the life expectancy of the chip, if it wasn’t tearing his brain apart.

He'd managed to crawl out of the way, chucking anything he could find toward his attackers. Figuring, if he could get to Xander, the boy might be able to help him fend the bastards off.

Stumbling blindly to his feet, he shoved one of them away. Impossibly, the pain in his head had escalated. Screaming, he'd struck the equipment console, the components were hot and unyielding against his back. His elbow struck a knob, and the volume on the film he’d been watching climbed up to deafening levels.

Iron hands had settled around his legs and Spike had struggled and kicked, while trying to keep anchored to some part of the entertainment center. For a few moments it had seemed to be working, before he felt the unit begin to shift. Something crashed and then…blissful silence.

It could have been two hours, or two days later when he awoke, sharp daggers of pain still pulsing in his head. Vaguely, he identified muffled chanting, rising and falling in rhythmic cadence behind him. He wondered if this was Hell.

A solid wave of magic surrounded him, making his skin crawl and his hair stand on end. When it passed, the pain went with it. Spike slumped against his bonds, panting in relief.

“That feel better, boy?”

Blearily Spike lifted his head, certain his ears were deceiving him. Looked like his eyes were in on the gag, too. “Angelus?” he whispered, incredulous.

Angelus grinned cheerfully, as he moved to pat Spike’s cheek. “Not quite, but close enough.”

Revolted, Spike tried to pull away, striking the back of his head against whatever he was tied to. Was a pointless exercise anyway – Angelus’ hand passed right through him. Whatever was wearing his sire’s face, wasn’t all there.

The cloying wet scent of earth assaulted him and now that his buggering brain wasn’t on fire, he figured out where he was. He’d been brought down to the Hellmouth, in the heart of the maze beneath the school. Spike hated being down here, tracking Buffy’s ethereal zombies had been enough.

From the way his shoulders ached, he’d been tied for quite a long time. The rack he was bound to wasn’t quite in the center of the room. He couldn’t see any of the unholy monks, but he could hear them. They never stopped chanting.

“You had such potential, boy,” Angelus chided with distain. “Now look at you. Trussed up like a Christmas turkey.”

“Not the first time, with you,” Spike retorted. “Always did like a spot of bondage.”

Angelus smirked. “I seem to recall, you didn’t mind it either, boy.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Haven’t been your boy in over a hundred years. And somehow I don’t think you brought me down here to reminisce. Who are you? And what do you want?”

“You know, Spikey, this is why everything you do fails.” Even though it wasn’t Angelus, the condescending look the thing gave him was dead on. “Patience is a virtue.”

Unable to help himself, Spike laughed. “Getting lectured ‘bout virtues from you is like taking sex advice from a nun. ‘Sides wasn’t me the slayer sent to hell. Though this is a close second.”

The thing wearing Angelus’ face stepped aside, and Spike saw a round metal disk set into the ground. “You're closer to the mark than you think, boy.”

“There a chance of you getting to the point anytime soon?” Spike asked dryly.

“Actually, I brought you down here to make you a deal. But I can see that you really aren’t motivated to talk. You will be, though, and one thing I have a lot of, is time.”

It took everything Spike had not to shudder at the cheerfully cold smile Angelus gave him. It was the one he reserved for especially brutal kills – like parents watching on in silence, tongue ripped out, as their little ones were slowly dismembered before their eyes. Or husbands forced to see their wives raped to death.

Angelus stepped further out of the way, glancing at someone out of Spike’s line of sight. “This is going to hurt,” he said, unapologetically.

The chanting stopped suddenly. There was a flash of silver and Spike screamed as a knife bit deeply into his flesh. The monk didn’t stop until there were several runes carved deeply into his chest.

The rack beneath him shuddered suddenly and began to move, pulling him up and over the metal disk in the ground. Spike's skin pulled taut against his frame as he was bled out. The world began to fade.

Through the haze, Angelus seemed to ripple and shift, growing shorter and thinner as his hair lightened to an impossible blond shade.

Spike stared down into a face he hadn’t seen in over a hundred years: his own.

“Don’t worry, mate.” The other him said coldly. “Won’t be as bad as the poor sods Dru kept about in Egypt.”

“Look, Spike. Isn’t it clever? My very own mummy. Can we wrap him in linen, just like in the museum?”

Spike studied Viktor. Emaciated was too kind a word. Pale skin was wed to bone like a brittle sheath. The tendons is his jaw had shrunk, leaving his jaw gaping and his fangs exposed. He’d stopped blinking two days ago. “Sure, Princess, whatever you like. Just cover his eyes, yeah? I’m getting tired of him staring at me all day.”

“I made sure the boys brought you something to eat.” He pointed to a corner where a slim girl was bound and gagged. Her blonde and purple hair was matted to her face and her huge eyes were focused on him.

Spike shook his head weakly. “Never gonna happen.”

“God, she’s made you soft.” The other him rolled his eyes. “But they’ll never find you down here and all I need is time. You’ll come around.”

Too weak to respond, Spike stared straight down, watching the rivulets of blood strike the disk beneath him. Understanding flooded him, and he tried, futilely, to break free of his bonds.

From beneath you, it devours.

The metal plate beneath him began to shudder and twist as his blood filled the crevices and symbols etched into the surface.

“It’s time you met a real vampire, mate.” His double said with a smirk. “This one’s a bit more than a fluffy puppy with bad teeth.”

The plate split open, and through the haze of his vision, he saw the stuff of nightmares crawl out of the gaping maw.

Spike recalled the horror stories Angelus spun round the fire, to the delight of Drusilla, about the very first vampires - roaming the earth before their blood mixed with humans. Powerful killing machines, they were unstoppable; they lived only to tear and rend flesh and feed on blood and bone.

It looked like they weren’t just fairytales any longer. The beast looked at him with distain, and roared through wickedly sharp fangs.



“Crap.” Willow blew a strand of her hair out of her face.

Xander glanced at the clock. Eight-thirty. He needed to get to Anya’s.

“Look, maybe we can try something different tomorrow,” Xander said, holding his hand out, offering to help her off the floor, and hopefully move along quicker.

“No…I think that the First is shielding him somehow. And that terrifies me. What could they want him for?” Willow ignored his hand, studying the items in front of her. She never dealt well with failure, and he recognized the signs of her going over every step in her mind, to see if she’d made a mistake. Finally, she looked up, shaking her head and sighing, “I better pick this stuff up. Getting up in the middle of the night and accidentally stepping in salamander eyes – not as much fun as it sounds.”

Relieved that she seemed ready to depart, Xander offered swiftly, “I’ll clean it.”

She looked at him sharply and he realized that his response was way too overenthusiastic.

“Are you okay?”

Grateful that she’d given him an opening, Xander sighed wearily, “Honestly, Will, I’m tired. It’s been a long day.”

Her eyes were immediately filled with concern, and Xander felt a stab of guilt. “Oh! I’ll get out of your hair.”

“You’re the best.”

Xander dropped Willow off at Buffy’s and then hightailed it to Anya’s apartment. Once again he found himself sprinting up the stairs and out of breath when he reached her door. Thankfully, though, he’d made it in time.

Anya shut the door behind him with a solid snick, and his heart began to race.

“Were you a good boy today, Xander?”

Xander nodded and whispered, “Yes, Mistress.”

“Show me.” Anya commanded.

Skin tingling in anticipation, Xander lifted his shirt.

Anya stroked a finger over the black text adorning his belly. Anya’s Boy Toy. He was never going to look at a Sharpie the same way again. “How did it make you feel? Did you think about me?”

Not like anyone could see it, but all day he'd felt … marked. And it had made him hard, like hammering a six-inch spike through a board with his dick, hard.

“Yes, Mistress. All day,” Xander replied in a hoarse whisper. “I…it made me hot.”

Her hand slipped between his legs, stroking his swollen shaft. Xander shuddered and forced himself to remain still.

“Do you think you deserve a reward, Xander?” She tilted her head, looking at him expectantly, as if she were testing him.

“I..” Xander panicked, unsure of the correct response. He pursed his lips together, hoping she understood that he wasn’t refusing to answer, that he just needed time to…

He suppressed a groan as her hand moved ceaselessly up and down his covered cock. Dear god, he wanted to come, if only she’d just let him. Suddenly, his panic receded as he saw with clarity what Anya was asking. “It’s up to you, Mistress.”

Her pleased smile melted the nervous tension from his shoulders. “Undress and join me in the playroom.”<

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