“You really think it went alright?”
Spike gave Angel a scornful look. “Are you out of your fucking mind? He's in there having a world-class freak out – of course it's not alright! Jesus, Peaches, I wonder how the Slayer hasn't dusted you before now if you have that little clue how humans' minds work.” Throwing the towel onto the bed, Spike paced up and down.
“Right, I need some time – need to calm him down, make him a bit happier about things. I need you to talk to the court, tell 'em that's it for the night – want them all to fuck off out of it. No claiming ceremony tonight – me and the Consort are 'getting to know each other' – whatever you have to tell 'em to get 'em to leave off for the night. Then I suggest you get back to the Watcher's place and let 'em know things have worked out so far, and I'll be in touch tomorrow sometime.” He stopped pacing, turning to look at Angel. “Wot?”
“Nothing. Just don't get to see this side of you very often – normally you act as though you have no brains!”
“Ha ha! Does it sound alright then?” For a moment, the insecure Spike showed through and Angel regretted his words. His new relationship with Spike had undergone a change since the loss of Fred, and his invaluable support throughout the entire Black Thorn situation and he was loathe to risk that. But there was something else that needed to be discussed, and far better it be with Xander out of the room.
“Yeah, Spike, it sounds more than alright. Look, I didn't want to raise this now but you know the court are going to expect - ”
“I know what they're gonna expect. I – I just don't know. Not sure he'd go for it. Not sure I could cope with it. Demon feels pretty possessive over him considering we haven't actually done anything. Not sure whether I could do it even once, yeah?” Angel nodded, glad the subject had been broached even if there was no resolution as yet. There was a lot to be considered – whether Spike wanted to run a vampire court, if he did how he did it. Any further discussion of accepting Xander officially into the House of Aurelius could wait. Because apart from anything else, he hadn't had an opportunity to explain things to Buffy. And that was one conversation he really wasn't looking forward to.
“I'll go and speak to the announcer, get him to let the court know to disperse. What is that guy's name anyway?” Spike looked over at him and grinned.
“I have no idea. But he seems like a right handy bloke to have around. Might be worth sounding him out a bit, see if he wants proper protection and the like.” Angel nodded, then headed towards the door. He turned to Spike as he reached for the handle.
“He already cares about you Spike, so don't start second-guessing things, thinking that he's doing anything because he has no choice. The Xander Harris I know never did anything he didn't really want to do.”
“But that's the problem, isn't it Peaches? The boy would do anything for the Scoobies, even sacrifice 'imself. I don't want to be a sacrifice he makes, yeah?” Sighing, Angel slipped through the door, well aware that a large part of the reason for Spike's insecurity was the way he, Darla and Drusilla had treated him from the time he was turned. He only hoped that between them they could get past the circumstances and accept that a better match for either of them was pretty much inconceivable.
“Xander?” Tapping on the bathroom door, Spike tilted his head to try and hear what was going on inside. “Pet, you alright in there?” No answer. “Xander – if I don't hear from you in the next ten seconds, I'm coming in there whether you want me to or not.”
“Ok, ok – I'm ok. Just – gimme a minute alright? I'm gonna take a quick shower – just feeling a bit grubby. Ok? Spike?”
“Yeah, alright luv.” Sighing, he let his head thump onto the door. Not quite how he'd wanted to start his relationship with the whelp, and now Angel had to throw a friggin great fly into the ointment with the whole 'welcome to the family' bit. Throwing himself onto the bed, he crossed his arms behind his head, looking down at his shoulder at the rapidly healing wound. Sire's blood made all the difference, and what a shock that had been – he'd definitely not expected Peaches to offer like that.
He knew Angel had already rung and arranged for a delivery of human blood, so now it was time to concentrate on sorting things out with Xander. Monumental fuck up that was. No wonder the boy had locked himself in the bathroom – kidnapped, held prisoner by a psycho vampire, witness to death match whilst tied to the bed like a fuckin' sacrifice, and to hear that he was supposed to go through a vampire ritual surrounded by unknown vampires as his first introduction to sex with the vamp he'd been dating? Yeah, wouldn't surprise him if the boy never came back out. The sound of the bathroom door opening took him by surprise, but he held himself still, wanting to give Xander space. Steam filtered through the open door as Xander came out, his wet hair slicked back and dripping down his neck, a towel wrapped around his waist. Over his arm he carried the ceremonial robes and he self-consciously walked across to the chair that Angel had been sat on and dropped them there. He turned back to the bed, and looked at Spike nervously. A strained silence developed, neither of them knowing how to break it.
“Yeah. Look, 'm sorry for what I said earlier. Could have put things a bit better than that, yeah? Just – Pouf was makin a real meal o'things and I wanted to lay it out for ya.”
“I know, and I appreciate it Spike, I do. It just – just kinda feels like we've been shoved into something that I'm not sure I'm ready for yet, you know? I mean, it's not as if I wasn't already halfway there in my head when we were seeing each other before, because d'uh, but this just feels a bit fast and maybe a bit forced.” He rubbed his hand over his head, then knuckled his eye.
“Yeah, Pet, I know what ya mean. Kinda feel like we've been hijacked.” Moving closer to the bed, he sat down so that he could see Spike out of his 'good' eye. His other eye almost felt like it was burning behind the patch, like something had got beneath the lid and aggravated the socket. Rubbing it once more, he looked down at the bed, avoiding Spike's gaze.
“But was this where we were headed? I mean, you know, before?” Deliberately keeping himself very still so that he didn't scare the man, Spike nodded.
“Yeah, Pet, this was definitely where I was headed, and I got the feelin' that you were too. So, maybe we can remember where we were and just see this as a bit of an escalated programme, yeah?” Slowly, carefully, he reached out until their fingers were touching on the bedspread, a smile crossing his face as Xander turned his hand so that he could take hold of Spike's. Xander looked up and finally met Spike's gaze, a small smile crossing his face as Spike tugged at his hand gently. Spike lifted himself to a sitting position, and leaning forward Xander allowed his lips to graze the cool pink ones of the vampire. Once, twice. He pulled back, gaze flitting between Spike's mouth and his eyes, then locking on those pouting lips as they parted and moved closer to him once more. As he closed his eyes, he felt his mouth taken in a long sweet kiss, a small moan escaping him as Spike deepened the kiss and pulled him into his arms.
His skin felt too tight, over-heated, sensitive. The raspy tongue over his nipples made his hips jerk in reaction, breath sawing through his lungs as he struggled to breathe. Long, sensitive fingers tracing his ribs, moving round to his back, down to where the curve of his ass began. He could do nothing but hold on, hands gripping strong shoulders, fingers digging in deep as one finger dipped into the cleft of his ass and followed the path to his tight pucker. Over, around, over, around – a slight press, then over, around, over, around. Moaning, hand moving up to grip the head-rail as he buried his face in the pillow. Too much – he couldn't process it all, everything he had been through over the past few days and now this incredible passion - it was too much.
“Spike – please....” Hovering sensation, heightened awareness of a presence, then a cry as his cock was enveloped in smooth, cool wetness to the root. Hips jerking, thrusting forwards, other hand reaching down to caress the fuzzy head, hold it close. Spike hummed, pressing his tongue against the heavy vein pulsing the length of Xander's cock. “Too close – Spike, gonna come...” More humming, suckling at the tip, strong, fast rhythm back and forth until he was wailing, grinding his face into the pillow, desperate hips stuttering back and forth until it broke – HE broke. “ARGH!” Too much, too fast, almost painful, eyes rolling back in his head as consciousness left him.
Rolling over on his back, licking his lips as he savoured Xander's taste, he groaned as he realised they had no lube. Spitting into his hand, he took his cock in a tight grip, stripping it efficiently, looking at the beauty of the tanned body breathing peacefully next to him. So beautiful, so strong and all his. The man was incredibly responsive and sensitive, kissed like a fuckin' demon – sloppy lips, strong tongue, possessive hands holding Spike in place. He had felt wanted – needed as he was pulled close before being toppled over so that Xander was on top of him.
He had looked down at Spike, hazel eye dilated, damp hair hanging over his forehead and framing his gorgeous face, wide mouth deeply red and puffy from kissing.
“We'll take it slow, alright Pet?” His voice had gone rumbly, coming from deep in his chest as Xander let his weight drop onto the smaller man, groaning into the kiss as he felt the hard length pressing into his hip. Tight grip, legs wrapping around his waist so that they were grinding together until he rolled them over onto their sides and took back control.
Xander sighed, moving closer to Spike as he slept, and it was enough. Tugging at his flesh, hand squeezing his balls, Spike released, his cum shooting over onto Xander's hip and stomach. Panting for breath, he rolled towards the man, and mindful of where they were, and wanting to mark his territory, he massaged the evidence of his passion into the younger man's skin. Smooth, tanned skin over strong muscles, the curve of his hip bone fitting naturally into Spike's hand. Fuck, he needed to get Angel to bring some stuff because there was no way he wasn't going to want to take the man – claiming ceremony or no.
Xander woke up curled around Spike. He was spooned against the smaller man's back, his face buried in his nape and he became conscious of his erection nudging against Spike's ass. Yawning, he tried to figure out how he was feeling. His freak-out in the bathroom had gone some way to actually making him feel better. Spike hadn't lied or tried to cover anything up – he'd been straight up with Xander about the entire situation. And he had been been so sweet when they made love, not pushing Xander further than he was ready to go. He knew it was a stay of execution – the ceremony had to go ahead to stabilise the situation. But he was feeling a lot better about it than he had been before. Spike cared about him, and that made all the difference. Shifting infinitesimally closer, wrapping his arm around Spike's waist so he could stroke his chest. Strange that even asleep Spike didn't seem dead, there was just something so incredibly alive about him even now. He pressed a kiss against the nape of his neck, nuzzling his face into the short hair there, wrinkling his nose as it tickled.
“Hmmmm” Spike murmured, stirring and pressing back against Xander. His arm came backwards to caress Xander's neck, and he twisted his head around so that they could kiss. Shuffling around, he pulled Xander into his arms, pressing his body against his from chest to groin, legs entangling. Pulling back so he could grab a quick breath, he looked into Spike's eyes.
Spike smiled sleepily, humming under his breath happily. God, he could wake up like this for the rest of his unlife – he was warm, tucked up against the living heater that was Xander, snug in his arms. And Xander was a big cuddler – wherever Spike was in the bed, he seemed to follow, glomming onto the vampire and treating him like a man-sized teddy bear.
“Hey Pet. How did you sleep?” Xander blushed, ducking his head a little. He was a bit embarrassed that he had basically come and passed out, not even stayed awake to make sure Spike was satisfied too.
“Good, really good. Hate to spoil the mood but I gotta go pee.” Nodding, Spike released him from his embrace, smiling as he watched the man walk to the bathroom, firm buttocks bunching and releasing as he walked away. Once Xander had shut the door, Spike jumped out of the bed, striding over to the door of the bedroom and flinging it open.
“OI!” A scurrying sound, then the announcer appeared just down the corridor.
“Master Spike, what can I do for you?”
“Well, first off you can tell me your name – can't keep calling you oi can I?” Scratching his chest, he did the buttons up on his jeans.
“Right, then Carson. You got any daywalkers around? I need some food for the Consort and a couple of other bits and pieces.”
“Certainly sir. If you would like to make a list, I will ensure you have everything you need. Master Angelus called and said to let you know he would be here within the hour, as soon as it's safe to travel.”
“Ok, get me a piece of paper and a pen and I'll do this list. Carson?”
“Yes Master William?”
“I want a run-down of the main members of the court – the minions, fledges and potential masters. I want to know who should be at the claiming ceremony, and I want to know by the time you bring the stuff I've asked for. Got it?!”
“Yes Master William.” Diving off down the corridor, Carson rushed to get his new master the paper and pen he had asked for. He was anxious to make himself useful in the new court as William and Angelus had the reputation needed to make it one of the great Vampire Courts, and he was determined to be there every step of the way.
Slamming the lid closed on the cooler Angel wiped his hands over his face. Buffy, Giles and Willow were all staring at him angrily, obviously not happy with how things were going. How could he explain to them any better what had to happen? He had been as blunt as he could be, although obviously he had left out a few pertinent facts – there was no way he was having a conversation regarding Xander being officially welcomed into the Aurelius Clan with Buffy when she was already breathing fire about not being involved in the Challenge.
“Look, there really isn't anything left to discuss. You can't wipe this court out – whether you like it or not, if Spike manages to set up an effective court you will almost instantly cease to have any problems with the vampire population in this area. That leaves you free to handle the really dangerous demons – surely that can only be a good thing?”
“NOT if it means we have to sacrifice Xander to do so. I have done some more research on the claiming ceremony and I am most concerned. I insist that we are given the opportunity to talk to Xander before he goes through with this.” Giles was absolutely furious, a Ripper-esque glint in his eye.
“Spike has spoken to Xander, explained to him what the claiming ceremony consists of. Do you really think it will help him to have you there? And there is no choice – if Spike doesn't do this, you might as well draw a bullseye on Xander's because every half-wit Master will want to lay claim to him.” Angel sighed in frustration – this conversation was going nowhere, exactly where it had gone over the very long hours since he had returned to the Watcher's house after the challenge.
“If you're saying that we can't see Xander now, when can we see him?!” Willow was at least trying to be reasonable, and Angel was relieved, concentrating on her in order to avoid Buffy's obvious disapproval.
“I would expect that Spike will want to initiate the Claiming Ceremony this evening. I will be speaking to Carson – he seems to be the organiser in the court – for details about how the court is currently running. And there is – well, Xander will need to be officially recognised by the Aurelius Clan. So probably in five days or so?”
“What is this Aurelius Clan recognition you keep going on about? Angel, you wouldn't talk about it last night and now you're only mentioning it as you're rushing out the door. What aren't you telling us?” Nervously spinning a stake in her fingers, Buffy unconsciously barred his exit.
“Err, I believe I can answer that.” They all turned to Giles, who was vigorously cleaning his glasses, avoiding their gazes.
“Giles - ” Angel began warningly.
“I think it would be best if we can allow Angel to get those supplies to Spike and Xander – Spike needs to be on top form if he's all that stands between Xander and a houseful of vampires. And I know there are – well, things in there that will make the ceremony go much smoother.” Angel gave an inner smirk at the blush that lined the Watcher's cheeks. His request for lubricant to take with him on his return to the Vampire Court had had an interesting effect on the Watcher, and not for the first time he wondered whether Giles had ever considered letting Xander know of his feelings.
“What about this ceremony?” Buffy insisted, knowing Giles well enough to tell that he was avoiding something.
“I'll be in touch,” Angel said, sweeping around Buffy and heading out the door. If Giles wanted to save him the grief of explaining things he wasn't going to complain. And knowing that he was going to have to stay at the Vampire Court for at least the next two nights meant that maybe Buffy would have calmed down before he saw her again. He hoped.
“Spike, I have no clothes.” Standing in the bathroom doorway, Xander scrubbed at his wet hair, very conscious of his semi nude state.
“What? Yeah, I know – Angel is bringing some of your stuff over when he gets here soon. But Pet, you know what has to happen tonight right?”
Avoiding Spike's gaze, Xander nodded. “Yeah, I know. I – I get it, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.”
“Want me to thrall ya?”
“I can't do it, but it can be done – would make it easier on ya.”
“Hell no – I mean, whu – God, that's just - ” Confused, Xander sat on the bed. He'd be lying if he said the option didn't appeal – not having to be totally conscious of an audience of vampires while having sex was definitely of the good. And he trusted Spike, there was pretty much no question of that – he'd had that mouth round his dick and he hadn't once thought about the fact that Spike was unchipped and only his 'soul' stopped him from taking a chunk out of Xander. “Would you be angry with me? I mean, you know I want to be with you so it's not that. I just – man, Spike, in front of a crowd? I just - ” He was shaking, he was so wound up – how the hell did his life get this fucked up?
Suddenly Spike was right next to him, wrapping Xander in his arms and tugging him close.
“Xander – I wouldn't have offered if I was gonna get pissed about it. You'n'me is separate to all that shit, yeah? What we do with each other is for us. But this claiming thing – neither of us has a choice, but I don't want you to suffer because of it.”
“How would it work? And who?”
“Angel, and it's kinda like hypnosis but not. The only thing is, Angel's thrall isn't the same as Dru's was – it works kinda differently.”
“How do you mean?!” He drew back from Spike, instinctively knowing he wasn't going to like where this was going.
“Look, Pet, I don't want to use any of the new vamps – don't know 'em properly so don't trust 'em. Angel is the best option and it will help with other stuff as well.”
“What other stuff?” There was a loud knock at the door, and sighing with frustration Spike strode over and yanked it open. Angel stepped through, his arms full with a cooler and a large bag. “Hey Deadboy.” Angel sighed and nodded in Xander's direction, raising an enquiring eyebrow at Spike.
“Peaches. Me an' the whelp have been discussing the ceremony and the idea of using thrall to help him get through it. I need you to explain to him how yours works – he's only ever seen the results of Dru's.” Grabbing the cooler, he dropped it on the floor near the chair, sprawling into it as he swiftly grabbed a bag of blood and pierced it with his fangs. Grimacing at the taste of the cold blood, he watched as Angel took a cautious seat on the bed, staring at Xander.
“Ok, Xander, the way my thrall works is really simple. It's – well, it sort of a lust spell if you like, lowers your inhibitions, makes you more susceptible to suggestion.”
Xander frowned. “Can you make me do something I don't want to do?” Angel shook his head.
“No. I can't make anyone do what they don't want to do – that was Dru's speciality, but even then she had to make them believe they wanted to do it. Mine just loosens you up, lets out a few of the things in your head you might not normally consider due to embarrassment and the like.” He looked over at Spike, who was drinking back another bag of blood. “Have you told him?” Drinking his third bag of blood, Spike shook his head. “Xander, there's a secondary part to the ceremony, one that doesn't have to take place in front of witnesses but does need to happen.” Frowning even more, Xander looked over at Spike. Although his face was expressionless, Xander knew the blond vamp well enough to know that he was worried what Xander's reaction would be to what Angel was about to reveal and that concerned him. Drawing back, he was suddenly ultra conscious of his lack of clothing.
“What's this secondary part?”
“It's – ok, well it's where you need to be officially welcomed and accepted into the House of Aurelius. My demon needs to accept you officially as Spike's Consort. It's a way of offering protection to you if anything should ever happen to Spike, and it also lets the vamps in court know that you are a true and worthy Consort, not to be messed with.”
“Uh huh. And how exactly do you welcome me into the family? Cos somehow I'm getting the impression it's not a wine and cheese party.”
“No,” Angel sighed, “it's not as simple as that. Basically, Spike er, seals his claim to you, then presents you to my demon to be accepted.”
“Why must you insist on speaking in euphemisms Peaches? Just tell the man what he needs to know.” Spike was rapidly getting irritated, and he knew a large part of it was his demon's unwillingness to share Xander in any way. Angel scowled, then nodded.
“Spike and you have sex, he takes some of your blood. Then his demon offers you to my demon, who signals it's acceptance through sex and blood.” Xander scowled, running his hand through his hair.
“Fuck – does anything you vampires do NOT revolve around sex and blood?” Tugging at his hair, he jumped up from the bed and strode up and down, completely and utterly unaware of the attractive image he presented. The white towel contrasted with his deep tan, golden skin covering lean muscles. He had grown into himself, was no longer the gangly boy-child from Sunnydale. And he was all the more attractive for his various scars – his was a hard-earned beauty, not pretty, but strong.
“Oi, Peaches, eyes off!” Spike growled, throwing the blood bags to the floor and striding over to his sire.
“What? Sorry, Spike.” Caught unaware, Angel dragged his eyes away from Xander. He knew part of the issue was Angelus – he wanted to claim Xander: as the Slayer's minion, as a new Seer, but also purely for his own reasons. He had had plans for the boy from the time he faced Angelus down in the hospital, and knowing that his Childe was going to be the one making the claim was not sitting well. Add to that, his inability to have the conversation with Buffy about the clan ritual without revealing previous evil plans by Angelus and he was straddling an uncomfortable fence.
“Fuck it, we need to get this done. Xander – you ready?” Standing in front of Xander, he forced the man's pacing to come to a halt. He reached for his face, holding his gaze as the nervous man tried to pull back. “Won't do anything you don't want me to do, but putting this off ain't helping. We can sort out the Clan shit afterwards – I know you're building this up in your head, but I swear to ya I won't hurt ya. Ok?” Taking a deep breath, Xander nodded. “Right, Peaches – where do you want him?”
“Ok, Xander, you need to put the ceremonial robes back on then sit on the bed here. Spike, let Carson know to get the attendants ready – I don't know how long it will take to put Xander 'under' but we're going to want to be ready.” Xander shrugged back into the robes, then took his seat next to Angel on the bed. Wiping his sweating palms down the robes he waited to see what would happen, relaxing slightly when Spike came back into the room after speaking to Carson. “Spike, can you come sit behind Xander please, just so he can lie back and relax on you. Xander, I need you to look at me. In my eyes – that's it. Perfect. Need you to relax for me, I know it's hard but you can do it can't you?” The voice was low, almost soothing and Xander found himself tuning into it unconsciously, slumping backwards onto Spike. Angel kept speaking but the words were so low, he could barely hear them. Spike's arms wrapped around him from behind, pulling him closer. He felt muzzy, woolly headed and he blinked slowly, trying to concentrate. His lids lowered and reopened, so difficult to open them again. Blinking once, twice....
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