Breaking Free


Part Ten

Xander stormed around the cabin. He wanted to throw things around, but he knew he’d only to pick them back up when he was done.

Captain’s Mate…Captain’s Freak…toy…idiot, Xander silently ranted.  Xander threw himself on the couch, crossed his arms and thrust his feet onto the small table.

First thing I’m doing when I get back to the ‘Dale, Xander planned, I’m spending all my credits with the sexiest Bliss worker I can buy. Hell, two workers! One male and one female. Maybe I’ll get three! All guys and we’ll do one of those daisy chain things I saw in a vid. Little Xander wasn’t interested.

“This is all your fault!” Xander said as he looked at his groin. “A year! A year full of nothing and now when I’m a prisoner, with the need to escape to be foremost on my mind, you suddenly start with the ‘happy pants dance?’”

I’m so screwed, Xander thought. Little Xander twitched at the idea, as long as the screwing involved a certain blonde captain with a killer reputation.  Xander leaned back his head and groaned. He thought about raiding Spike’s bar and visiting his old haunt, oblivion. However, the DeSoto was due to arrive on Oxnard some time that day and Xander wanted to be clear-headed in case he saw a chance for escape or a way to signal the Council.

Why now? he asked himself again. Is this some sort of dependency thing? Am I grateful I’m not dead and that’s somehow translating itself into some sorta very misplaced lust?

Xander stood up and paced. Ok, Spikes the first one who’s touched me in…well in a long time. And yeah, the mutant-from-a-can knows what he’s doing, but why him?

I haven’t wanted anyone since…, Xander paused his thoughts. I don’t deserve anyone. Is that why? Is Spike what I deserve?

Xander wandered into the bedroom and studied himself in the small dressing mirror. He still looked flushed and he could see what he couldn’t hide; the edge of the love bite.

Xander pulled his collar away so he could see the whole bruise. Is this what I deserve, Jesse? Xander pondered. Is this what I deserve for letting you down…for ignoring protocol…for believing a Biogen?

Of their own accord, Xanders’ fingers traced the bruise. Vaguely, Xander registered the morning mess chime was ringing. Xander ignored it.

Gently Xander traced the mark with his fingertips. So many times I’d think about marks like these, Jesse, Xander mused. So many times I’d think of them and want them from you. I let a Biogen rip you away. Maybe it’s only right I let a Biogen rip those fantasies away too. I lost you and maybe I deserve to lose the dream too.

Xander moved his fingers away and straightened his collar. 

“C’mon Xan-man,” Xander said aloud. “Shake it off. Wonder about your crazy hormones later. Think. You have a chance to get away or signal the Council while on Oxnard.”

Not everyone on the colony can be a rebel, Xander thought. Xander turned around and looked at the cabin. He couldn’t just sit here all day and CM and KP duties be damned; he wasn’t going back to the mess.

Maybe I missed something, Xander thought. Maybe there’s something here I can use for trade; something to buy me a tool or a message.

Xander once again started to snoop. This time he was a little more thorough and searched the long black coat hanging in the small wardrobe. He didn’t think there’d be much use for the small flask or the pack of gasper, but in a small inside breast pocket he found a few round coins of real currency.

Xander smiled. After all, Spike had said he could go anywhere or talk to anyone. Xander had a plan.


Faith hopped up on the navigation console in front of Spike.

“Bloody hell!” Spike snapped, “Get your arse off there ya trollop.”

“That’s what I love about you, Spike,” Faith said as she smiled and wiggled her behind. “You’re such a sweet talker.”

Spike looked at the former Regent. She arched an eyebrow at him.

“Wes isn’t going to like hiney prints all over his board,” Spike said.

“Wes doesn’t like a lot of things,” Faith grinned. “Never stopped me before.”

“So, luv, what brings you to the bridge?”

“I’m first mate, Spike,” Faith answered. “Where should I be?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe down in the cargo bay helping Gunn do a final check over before we land?”

Faith nodded. “I’ll get to that…”

“But first ya want a word with me, is it?” Spike continued.

Faith nodded again.

“Bridge is bit small for a throw down, init?” Spike asked.

“Spike, if I were going to throw down with you over last night,” Faith purred, “room would be the least of your worries.”

Spike narrowed his eyes. “Feel like playing Regent again, luv?”

“Nope. We’re good.”

“But you want to talk…”

“Where’s this going?” Faith interrupted.


“Look, I saw the mack mark and I saw the sprig Xander was haulin,” Faith said.

Boy was still sportin wood when Faith saw him? Spike wondered and couldn’t help but smile.

“Yeah, right there, that’s the problem, Spike.”


“He’s Council. You’re a Biogen. He’s best friends with B, Regent Prime and Willow, Cybermage Prefect and you wanna play hide the sausage?”


“Spike, what you gonna do, keep him prisoner on the DeSoto forever?”

“I’m taking him to Angel,” Spike said.

“And along the way what...keep laying the pipe and bumping uglies until Xander’s sees the light?”

“That’s not what happened last night,” Spike growled.

“No, but what about tonight or tomorrow night…or the next night? Or hell! Any time's a good time for a bump and grind.”

“What business…”

“Spike! Look at the mess! Remember Gunn pullin’ his gun…on you?”

“I remember,” Spike snapped.

“Then think. This ain’t good.”

Spike stood and paced.

“You think I wanted this? You think I want to want that prat? I know he hates me. I know he’d betray us the first chance he got but….” Spike paused.

“What?” Faith asked.

“Sometimes want doesn’t make any sense, Faith. It just is. It screams and bleeds and it isn’t something ya can think through! It’s about living, Faith. It’s part of what makes us…human. And if I could just think it away then I’d really be no more than the organic machine the Council says I am.”

Spike crossed over to Faith and cupped her face in his hands.

“Listen, luv, us Biogens, we didn’t get to grow up like other people. We came of age in rage and revenge. Humanity came to us with blood on our hands. Ya think the tender emotions come any easier?”

Faith raised her hands to meet Spike’s. “I know,” she whispered. “Just…be careful..and…”

“Don’t hurt him,” Spike finished for her. “I know, luv.”

Spike leaned in and kissed Faith’s forehead and then released her.

“Now, get your bloomin’ bum off my console and get down to the cargo bay,” Spike growled.

Faith smiled and hopped off the console. “Aye! Aye Captain!” she said and then sauntered towards the bridge hatch.

“Oh and Faith,” Spike said. “Along the way take my b…take Xander some breakfast and then take him with you to the bay. I want him with Gunn while we're on Oxnard.”

“No sweat,” Faith replied before heading out.


Faith had found Xander grumpy and bored. He had answered quickly to her knock.

“Faith,” Xander had sighed as if she were the latest of unpleasant discoveries of the morning.

“Xander,” Faith had said as she handed him some fruit packets and carafe of proto-fizz. “Ya missed breakfast.”

“Maybe I’m on a hunger strike?” Xander had said.

Faith had arched her eyebrow. Xander’s appetite had been legendary back in the ‘Dale.

“OK, short lived hunger strike,” Xander had said as he moved to the couch and table and began to dig into the fruit packets. Faith let herself in the cabin.

“Make yourself at home,” Xander had quipped with his mouth full.

“I’m good,” Faith had said while she strolled around taking stock. Everything looked neat and in order. Maybe there’s a slight benefit to this situation, Faith had mused.

“Sooo, you here to make sure I’m a good boy and eat?” Xander had asked.

“Actually, I’m to take you with me to the cargo bay when you’re done. You’re to help Gunn and I do a final check over before we land on Oxnard.”

Xander’s eye had narrowed. “You really are going to make me do this aren’t you?”

Faith had nodded. If only you’d understand, she’d thought.

Xander then had quickly gobbled up what was left of his breakfast. “Well then, let’s get this over with.”

The sooner we get to Oxnard, he’d thought, the sooner I can put my plan into action.


Xander had been surprised how quickly the work had gone down in the cargo bay and with the cargo itself. Most of it was meds stolen from The Snyder but there was also a large shipment of food and some raw materials; agricultural and industrial.

“Where did this come from?” Xander asked about the raw materials. Surely they had to have come from Council central and if they had the raids would have been on the Net.

Gunn and Faith looked at each other. They walked a fine line between what information to share with Xander. He already knew too much; especially as far as Gunn was concerned. Faith had no idea what Angel would decide to do; keep him prisoner or try and use his release as a form of leverage or negotiation.  However, Faith still hoped that maybe Xander could begin to see the galaxy outside Council doctrine.

Maybe if I can ‘bring Xan’ along, she thought, maybe it’ll make up for how things went down with Jesse.

“From other colonies,” Faith answered.

Xander stared at her. “That’s not possible.”

“What?” Charles said. “You think only Council worlds can and know how to produce? That’s what they want so everything stays under their control. But there are some robust colonies out there and they're willing to trade with other colonies.”

“But the Raiders…,” Xander argued. “…rebel colonies are not under Council protection”

“No,” Gunn said, “They are under ours.”

Biogens! Biogens and their collaborators protecting human colonies?

“And what’s it cost them?” Xander cracked.

“A lot less than what the Council demands,” Gunn said flatly.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Xander asked.

“Xander,” Faith quietly warned.

“You know maybe if you ever stopped flappin’ your lips and stopped spoutin’ Council smack you might learn something. Look around, Council boy, the galaxy ain’t what they said it was,” Gunn retorted.

“No answer, just an attack of my question. Way to prove a point brain man,” Xander snapped.

Gunn crossed the bay and grabbed Xander by the arms.

“Gunn!” shouted Faith.

“It’s ok, Faith,” Xander said looking into the angry gunner’s face, “let the big man with the gun pick on the collared, unarmed, one-eyed guy to prove how superior his boss’s are to mine.”

“If it was my choice, Council boy,” sneered Gunn, “I’d leave your skinny ass stripped naked at Oxnard’s Fabulous “Ladies” Night Club and let you work your way back to the Council. They’d just love a cherry Council boy like you.”

Then Gunn released Xander and stormed out of the bay.

“Yeah, well…my ass ain’t that skinny!” Xander had shouted after the retreating Gunn.

Faith had sighed. “You really should try and ride him less, Xander.”

“Why?” Xander had quipped.

“Cuz, for one, he’s got your six while we’re on Oxnard


It was well after the lunch mess chime, which Xander had also ignored, before Xander felt the ship enter atmosphere. After finishing up in the bay with Faith, Xander had returned to the cabin. He refused to go back to the mess, even for lunch.

Xander had spent his time thinking of creative insults to hurl at Gunn and for carrying out his plan. He most certainly did not wonder when he’d see Spike next; and skipping lunch had nothing to do with avoiding the seductive blonde man.

I need to figure out how to slip away from Gunn. Xander snorted, shouting “Look! Raw Meat!” should do the trick.

Xander paced the cabin as he felt the ship decelerate. I’ll need to find out how much a lead I have on my leash, then slip the dog, and then surely I can find someone who’ll send a message?

The stabilizers did their trick and apparently so did Wes because the ship came to a smooth stop. Xander quickly searched himself, double-checking the hidden coins in his shoes. Then he waited.

He didn’t have to wait too long before there was a thumping on the door.

“Let’s go, Council boy!” Xander heard Gunn shout.  

“Gunn! My favorite primitive life form.” Xander responded in greeting as he opened the cabin door. “Figured out the whole wheel concept yet?”

“Been busy perfecting my ‘clubbing annoying twats’ technique,” Gunn answered as Xander exited the cabin and joined Gunn in the corridor. Gunn turned and headed towards the bay. Xander followed.

“You know, not that you care or anything, but I am wondering,” Xander started. “Assuming you aren’t going to be removing my little necklace here, exactly how am I supposed to keep my brain from frying once we leave the ship? How am I supposed to know where I can go?”

“Spike had Fred set the collar on a hundred kilometer radius from the ship,” Gunn replied. “Same range as your communicator.”

“So what…I somehow get a hundred ‘K’ a way and you’ll be…”

“Be able to hear you cry for mommy, yeah,” Gunn said half smiling. “Oh..and please do get some funny ideas about the colonists. You’re collar’s been programmed to zing ya if you try and harm them too.”

“Don’t look, Gunn,” Xander said. “But I think your humanity is slipping.”

Gunn grunted and they continued on in silence to the bay. Once there they began working with Faith to load up a small hov-cart to transport the shipment.

“Open her up,” Faith shouted and someone on the bridge followed the command and the bay doors opened and the bay ramp lowered. Sunlight flowed into the bay and Xander blinked in the first natural light he’d seen in days. Must be mid-morning planet side, Xander observed.

“Well looks like I get a second chance at lunch,” Xander said.

“Right,” Gunn replied and then pushed Xander towards the hov-cart controls. “Move it, Council Boy.”

Xander gritted his teeth, engaged the hov-cart to forward and began to steer it out of the bay.

“I got point,” Faith said as she took the lead and moved in front of Xander and the hov-cart as they headed down the small ramp.

Xander and Gunn followed. People were gathered close to the bottom of the ramp already waiting to receive the supplies. Xander was more than a little shocked at the people’s appearance. They looked hardened as if everything in life had come at a cost much more expensive then they could really afford.

There was an air of “battle-ready” even as they greeted Faith and Gunn with smiles and open arms. Many of the men and women bore scars and signs of injury. Already, Xander could tell that this was not one of the smooth, clean and efficient worlds run by the Council.

Once they’d moved to the center of the throng, Faith called a halt. Xander and Gunn began to unlock and unload supplies. Faith seemed to know who got what and the men followed her lead.

“Gunn,” Faith said when they were done, “Take Xander for a stroll. See if you can scrounge up some replacement chairs for the mess. We’ll meet back at the ship by the dinner chime.”

“Come on, Council boy,” Gunn grunted. “Faith says I gotta walk ya.”

Gun and Xander walked around the colony port headed for what Xander assumed was the market district. While Xander was alert for an opportunity to slip away from Gunn he also noted the make-up of the colony. While it seemed there were a good deal of ships onsite the construction of the local buildings was poor and well worn. The streets were of the same caliber and everything felt like it needed an upgrade. It seemed to Xander the port was the heart and soul of the colony and the only real “business” it had.

“Why do they live like this?” Xander muttered.

“Like what? Free?” growled Gunn behind him.

“Live so…rough? The Council could help them. Build better roads ..buildings..industry,” Xander began to list Council services.

“Only as long as they are willing to trade exclusively with Council central and provide a quota of folks to serve in the Council Initiative,” Gunn replied.

“And for that they get protection from Raiders and Biogens,” Xander replied.

“One,” Gun said with a simmered fury, “Biogens aren’t the big bad boogeyman the Council’s got you trained to believe little boy. They’re no threat to these people and they know it. Two, the Raiders go when and where they please and the Council only sends out their guns to where it’s of a strategic benefit for the Council, not the colonists. So when the Raiders come by, colonists are left defenseless.”

“They can call up their own militia,” Xander argued.

“A militia of what?” Gunn replied, “old folks and kids! If a colony meets the Council’s quota that’s all there’s left.”

“I think you’re exaggerating,” Xander said.

“Am I, Council Boy?” Gunn growled as he threw Xander into a wall and held him there. “I was sixteen when I joined my grandfather and friends in the defense of our colony against Raiders. My folks had already joined the Initiative, as most of the other able bodied men and women, to meet our colony’s quota. We sent a distress signal and received no reply. The Raiders came and what was left, kids and old folks, fought and we lost. And while some of us survived, some, like my kid sister, a sweet thirteen year old girl, got caught up in the raid. She was lucky she didn’t make it off the planet. She didn’t last that long. I wouldn’t have either if it hadn’t been for Angel and the DeSoto. They heard the distress call, they responded and they saved what was left of us. All they wanted in return? A safe haven now and then from the Council and a little trade. Easy. Granted. A year later when my folks were KIA? I signed up with Angel and I haven’t looked back.”

Xander stared at the angry and hurt man before him. Xander couldn’t help feeling tears in his own eye for all the ones he could see Gunn would never let himself have.

“Gunn, I’m…,” Xander began to say.

“Don’t!” Gunn interrupted. “Don’t say you’re sorry. Just cut the Council crap with me. I ain’t interested and I ain’t ever in the mood.”

Xander nodded. Gunn released Xander and quickly strode away.

Now’s my chance, Xander thought even as part of him hated what he was about to do: kick Gunn when he was down. But my chance to prove what a “Council prick” I am is also my chance to escape.

Despite Gunn’s painful story, Xander had an obligation to escape or get a message back to the Council. I’ll look into what happened with Gunn when I get back, Xander reasoned with himself. I can have Willow help me. It had to be a mistake…a big mistake and maybe there’s something I can do for the survivors or get Gunn some sort of deal based on extenuating circumstances.

While, Gunn’s back was turned and he was a bit of a distance from Xander, Xander darted down an alley, jerked off his communicator and began to run. He wasn’t sure where he was going at first and he didn’t much care. He just zigged and zagged and cut through various streets and alleys trying to put some distance and confusion between him and Gunn.


“Xander,” Gunn began already regretting his outburst. He knew the boy had been nothing but a Council tool since birth but it still rankled Gunn to hear anyone sport the Council line.

 “Xander,” Gunn said again and turned around and noted the other man’s absence. “You little mot….!”

Gunn tapped his communicator. “I lost him,” he growled into it.

“Wot!” came Spike’s immediate reply.

“Soldier boy gave me the slip!” Gunn said.

“Faith…” roared Spike’s voice.

“I’m on it,” she said.

“I’m scanning,” chimed in Fred.

“I’ve got the ship,” said Wes.

“Give me the coordinates of where you last saw him,” Spike ordered. “I’ll join you and begin my hunt from there.”


Once Xander thought he’d put enough distance between he and Gunn he began to try and take note of where he was. He was still fairly close to the port. Now, to find a seedy little…well ok everything here looks seedy, Xander thought. Just need to find a pleasure center or bar and pay to get a message out.

Xander kept walking and stuck as close to the shadows and alleys as he could. He kept a careful eye on passerbys being sure none of them were members of the DeSoto or worse; the DeSoto’s captain.

Eventually, Xander found a small building near the port which looked like just the sort of dive he needed. “Willie’s” flashed in neon above the door. Xander went in and scanned the room. There were vids playing on several wall screens and Gambit tables set up in the back. Along the far wall was the bar lined with the serious drinkers. There were a sundry mix of men and women scattered through out the place. Xander moved to the side and removed his coins from his shoes. Then he went to the bar.

“What ya need?” the bartender asked.

“Shot of whi…bourbon,” Xander said, “and someone passing near a Council relay station soon.”

Xander passed one of his precious coins over to the bartender. The barkeep smiled and poured the shot.

“Merl, there,” the barkeep pointed to a man at the end of the bar. “He’s been known to do flybys by Council stats and he’s always in a need of a little real coin.”

“Thanks,” Xander nodded and then slammed back his drink. Xander tried really hard not to choke or cough. Bourbon’s as refined as the people, Xander silently mused. Then he made his way down the somewhat crowded bar next to “Merl.”

Merl turned and looked at Xander. Xander smiled.

“What?” Merl growled.

“I was just wondering if you're in the market for doing a favor?” Xander asked.

“Depends,” Merl said as he took a sip of his drink, “What’s the favor and how much you willing to pay?”

Xander opened his hand to show a couple of coins.

“I left home for a free life without a word. Want to let my sis know I’m ok and where she can find me if she wants one too,” Xander began his cover story. “All I want is a message passed through a Council relay station.”

“What’s the message,” Merl asked suspiciously.

“Wills, I’m fine. Settled on Oxnard. Jesse,” Xander answered.

“Sure, I’ll do it. But I want the coins up front. What’s the addy?” asked Merl.

“Gotta unit?” Xander replied as he handed his coins over to Merl.

Merl dug in his pocket and pulled out a personal display unit.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a strange voice growled from behind Merl and Xander. Both men turned to look. A large man Xander didn’t recognize was standing there with a foreboding look on his face.

“And why not?” asked Merl. “Sounds like easy money to me.”

“Easy money that’ll you’ll never be able to spend from inside a Council initiative cell,” answered the man and the crowd at Willie’s began to go quiet as they listened to the exchange.

“Look mister,” Xander gave his most winning smile. “I don’t kno…”

“See that thing on his neck,” the large man pointed at Xander’s throat.

Ok, I’m starting to have a bad feeling about this; Xander thought and began edging himself away from Merl and the large scary man only to be grabbed by another customer.

‘I’ve seen some folks with the same kind of collar on Hyperion,” the man said and buzz seemed to go through the bar and anyone who hadn’t been paying attention now was. “The folks who wear those collars on Hyperion are prisoners. They’re Council and the collar’s how Angel and the Biogens keep ‘em in line.”

Merl stood up and grabbed Xander jerking him from the other customer’s grasp.

“Council?” he roared. “You’re trying to get me to pass a message to the Council?!”

“Look…,” Xander tried to say before Merl’s big meaty fist slammed into Xander’s face sending him stumbling backward. Xander could feel the blood trickling down his nose before he crashed to the floor.

“I just wanna…,” Xander tried to say again as he found himself picked up by the mystery muscle man before having a different meaty fist rammed into his stomach. Air and a painful “UGHH!” rushed out of Xander and he was briefly glad he hadn’t had lunch.

“Council whore!” yelled the large man who again took a swing at the doubled over Xander.

Xander caught movement in the peripheral vision of his right eye and acted on instinct. Xander launched a punch of his own. He had the brief sense of satisfaction as he felt his fist connect with a hard jaw and then Xander fell screaming to the floor as once again the collar fired sending blazing pain up his neck and then down all his nerve endings.

For a moment there was stunned silence around the bar and then laughter as the patrons realized what had happened.

“So that’s how the collar works,” the big man said as he rubbed his jaw and sneered down at the still writhing Xander. “We can hit you all we want and you can’t hit back!”

The big man once again hauled Xander up off the floor and then propped him up against the bar.

“Step right up; Ladies and Gentleman,” the man hollered, “Take your free strike at the Council!”
The pain-filled Xander barely understood what the man had said but he quickly realized what he’d meant when once again he found himself the recipient of another punch to the stomach.

“C’mon,” the mystery man egged to someone, “you can do better than that!”

Xander felt a powerful strike under his chin that rocked his head back and knocked him painfully into the bar. He registered more laughter. Once again he blearily saw movement out of his right eye heading toward him. This time he raised his arm to block the blow.

“No fair!” someone shouted! “He blocked!”

“Hold him!” Merl shouted and Xander felt hands grab his arms. Xander panicked and began to struggle and unfortunately fight.

Two things happened. Xander’s collar fired leaving him almost insensate with pain and a rifle pulsed and fired. The hands that held Xander released him and he fell to the floor.

“Next one touches him,” Gunn loudly yelled, “is a dead man!”

“Gunn?” the strange big man said, “You’d kill us over a Council?”

“He wouldn’t, ducks,” growled Spike as he stepped out from behind Gunn in full game face and moved toward Xander, “But I would!”

Once again the room fell silent and patrons began to back away as the enraged Biogen approached the obviously hurting, slightly bloody, and fallen man. Spike leaned down and scooped Xander into his arms letting his head rest gently on Spike’s shoulder. Then Spike turned to leave the bar.

“Bu..he’s Council!” yelled the man.

“And he’s my CM!” snarled Spike as he left with Gunn following close behind, rifle still at the ready.

As the DeSoto crew made their way back to the ship, Xander stirred briefly in Spike’s arms and looked up him.

“Spike?” Xander asked.

“Yeah, pet?”

“In another minute, I would’ve had ‘em,” Xander groaned and then closed his eyes.

“Right, pet,” Spike chuckled and pressed his lips to the unconscious man’s forehead.

Part Eleven

As Xander returned to consciousness he noticed a couple of things; Spike was gently wiping Xander’s face with a cool wet rag and that Xander was stretched out on Spike’s bed completely sans clothes. Xander tried to sit up to get away from Spike and to reach for a blanket only to find his collar had been clipped to the restraint and so were his cuffed hands!

“Goin’ somewhere?” Spike purred as he continued to wipe Xander’s outraged face.

“Spike!” Xander growled and began to kick his legs in frustration. “Let me go!”

“Easy pet,” Spike ordered as he stilled his ministrations for a moment. “Or I’ll shackle your legs too.”

Xander stared at Spike in shock. He wouldn’t! Xander desperately hoped.

Spike arched an eye brow. He would! Xander realized and slowly lowered his legs flat to the bed and pressed them tight together.

“Where are my clothes,” Xander asked in a clipped voice.

“In the cleaner,” Spike replied as he began once again to wipe Xander’s face and then moved down to Xander’s neck.

“And the other set?” Xander growled.

“In the drawer,” Spike answered.

“Well can I have them?”


Xander blinked. “No?”

“Pet…” Spike began.

“Stop calling me that!” Xander shouted and then remembered his head had been fried. He winced. Spike immediately draped the cool rag over Xander’s forehead.

“Pet!” Spike began again with hard emphasis. “You’ll remain without clothes until I think you can be trusted with them again.”

“What?” Xander seethed.

“You betrayed us…”

“Have you crossed a circuit?” Xander interrupted again. “You took me prisoner…”

“You offered yourself up, pet,” Spike corrected.

“I was taken prisoner, threatened with being spaced, stranded or sold, stripped of my uniform and made the ship’s cook and captain’s personal slave. When I try and escape as my rank and honor demand you think I betrayed you?” Xander ranted.

Spike grabbed Xander’s chin with his hands. Xander flinched.

“You think you were made a slave eh, Xander? What do you know about slavery?” Spike cracked and then ripped the comforting rag off Xander’s forehead. “A slave doesn’t get to mouth off, Xander. A slave doesn’t get to shirk his duties for a day without punishment and a slave certainly doesn’t try and run away without serious repercussions.”

Spike began to trace his fingers around Xander face. Xander then realized his patch was gone and Spike’s fingers were dangerously close to tracing the misshapen flesh.

“Don’t!” Xander panicked and tried to jerk away.

“Slaves don’t get to talk without permission,” Spike sharply reminded the bound man, “and they certainly don’t get to tell their masters what they can do!”

Spike deliberately danced his fingers across and over Xander’s left eyelid. Xander began to yell, jerk and thrash his legs. Spike snarled and moved away from his boy for a moment only to grab the leg shackles from under the bed and then grab one thrashing leg after the other. Spike made quick work of securing Xander’s ankles into the strong, firm and soft cuffs leaving Xander helplessly bound and naked on Spike’s bed.

“You wanna go for broke, Xander?” Spike asked. “Say one more word without permission and I will gag you!”

Xander clamped his mouth shut with an audible “pop.”  Spike sat back down on the bed and began to once again dance his fingers around Xander’s damaged eyed. Xander shut his good eye to try and block Spike out.

Xander’s eye flew open in surprise and pain as he felt his right nipple being painfully squeezed.

“Keep you’re eye open. Pay attention and look at me!” Spike ordered.

Xander glared and took several deep and angry breaths; but he kept his eye opened and fixed on the hated blond man.

“Good,” crooned Spike as he returned to stroking Xander’s left eye. Xander seethed but remained still and silent. Spike caressed the area with gentle touches for a little while until he seemed satisfied with Xander’s passivity. Then Spike moved his touches away from the sunken flesh to include an exploration of Xander’s entire face. Spike spent extra attention familiarizing himself with the bruised areas.

Xander felt flushed and his nerves were on a different kind of fire than what the collar produced. He was humiliated, angry and embarrassed but something about Spike’s soft touches were causing his breath to catch and Little Xander to stir. Xander bit back the need to moan when Spike brushed the pad of his thumb back and forth across Xander’s bottom lip.

Spike was still angry at Xander and more than in a little need to reassure himself his boy was safe. He’d begun touching Xander just because he needed to feel his alive and warm presence. Fred had checked Xander out and confirmed there was no internal damage. Spike hated the thoughts that darkened his mind at what he might have gone and done if his boy had really been hurt instead of just bruised and a bit bloodied.

Now as Spike moved to sweep his hands down Xander’s chest and stomach breathing in the wonderful pheromones Xander’s was putting out he fought with the need to punish, educate and claim his boy. Xander had been reckless and put himself in a lot of danger. If he’d been successful in his plan he’d put a lot more than just himself and the DeSoto crew in danger. As it was Xander had probably already started the chain of events that would leak back one of the Biogens best kept secrets to the Council; the collar. A whole bar of people had seen what it could do and no doubt word would work it’s way eventually to some Council spy.

Spike trailed his hands back up Xander’s chest and began to circle those wonderfully sensitive nubs. They responded beautifully peaking and hardening until Spike wanted to nibble and taste them. So Spike did. He bent down and began a seductive torture of licking each one with broad sweeps of his tongue before going back and ruthlessly biting them with his front teeth. Over and over he repeated the process until he was sure they were sensitized to the point where the line between pleasure and pain was lost.

Xander’s breathing was fast and erratic. Spike could now smell the hint of precum. He lifted his head and saw Xander’s hard and weeping cock pressed close to his belly. Spike wanted to swallow that treat down and suck it dry but he needed Xander to understand a few things and right now he knew he had Xander’s full attention.

Spike sat up and looked at Xander. He began a casual stroking up and down Xander’s body as if he were petting some favored and treasured pet. Xander’s eye blazed in anger and want.

“See, pet,” Spike said and noting Xander’s flinch at the label, “a slave is property and property doesn’t get a say in how it’s used or when it’s used. It’s just supposed to serve. It’s also supposed to serve with a smile I might add.”

Xander narrowed his eye. He can go to hell if he thinks I’m going to…, Xander’s thoughts were interrupted. Spike had wrapped his hand around Xander’s ballsac and was arching an eyebrow at Xander. The message was clear. Xander gave Spike a stiff smile.

Spike accepted the tight smile and resumed his torturous petting. Fuckin’ soulless Biogen! Xander thought. Why do I want this sick sadistic freak?

“You think you’ve been a slave on the DeSoto, Xander?” Spike asked.

Xander remained quiet.

“You have permission to speak, pet,” Spike said as once again he cupped Xander’s sac.

“Yes,” clipped Xander. “CM and KP ring any bells?”

“Kept you busy and distracted while you were a prisoner didn’t they?” asked Spike as he again resumed mapping Xander’s body.

“What?” Xander almost groaned as Spike hand pet too close to Xander’s hard-on.

“If we’d have treated you solely like a prisoner and locked you in the hatch, how batty do you think you’d be by now?” Spike asked as he traced patterns on the inside of Xander’s thigh.

“I don’t know,” Xander hissed in frustration…and well frustration.

Spike smiled. “Imagine being locked in a small dark area without room to lie down for days, Xander. No one talks to you and your only human interaction is when someone takes you to the loo or feeds you; if you‘re lucky. How long do you think you’d last before you start to go a little crazy?”

Spike slid his hand up Xander’s belly and began to finger-fuck Xander’s belly button.

“I don’t know!” Xander screamed and clenched as his balls tightened.

“Days, Xander,” Spike said. “It only takes a few days and then you see things, you hear things and you’ll promise to be good and do whatever you are told.”

“Oh,” Xander panted and then he wondered, “are you speaking from experience?”

Spike circled Xander’s fascinating little belly button with his finger and answered, “And you care why? I’m just a soulless Biogen.”

“Well it might explain why…” Xander’s words were lost in an inarticulate gasp as Spike swooped down to delve his tongue in and out of Xander’s tummy hole. Xander arched as best he could. Why can’t I fight this? he thought. Why can’t I hate this?

Spike withdrew his tongue and sat back up. Once gain he studied his pet all stretched out hard, naked, flushed and so tempting on his bed. Spike was hard and weeping himself now. It was taking all of his control not to just open his boy up and thrust into Xander’s fiery center.

“Have you been beaten or tortured since you been aboard the DeSoto,“ Spike asked as he resumed petting Xander.

Xander groaned trying to process the verbal and physical change of tactics. “No not really, not up until the moment,” Xander finally replied.

Spike arched a surprised eye brow and then chuckled as he understood. There was no doubt Spike was sensually assaulting Xander.

“Were there any consequences to you for not helping today with KP at lunch?” Spike asked as he took one finger and blazed a slow trail from the base of Xander’s cock to its silky and dripping tip.

“SPIKE!” Xander cried and once again arched his body. “Please stop!”

“Slaves don’t get to make that call,” Spike said as he trailed the finger up and down Xander’s hard-on. Xander panted and wiggled his hips as if he could escape that finger that was marking a trail on his cock.

“Slaves just do what they are told. They fuck who they are told. They serve who they are told. They kill who they are told.”

Despite the desire consuming Xander something in Spike’s words held his attention more fiercely then the hand that was now beginning to wrap around Xander’s erection.

“Kill…?” Xander began to question as Spike began to tug and pull on Xander’s cock.

“Shush,” Spike said he rubbed his thumb over Xander’s crown. Xander bucked and thrust up into Spike’s hand.

“Spike…st,” Xander panted.

“I won’t warn you again before gagging you,” Spike said as his free hand put a silencing finger to Xander’s lips.

“Now your little stunt today,” Spike said as he continued to make Little Xander estatic, “could have gotten you killed. As a slave…as my slave that would mean you’d deprive me of valuable property. That’s a punishable offence.”

Once again Spike rubbed his thumb across Xander’s crown.

Oh God, Xander internally screamed, he really is going to make me do this! And I’m going to enjoy it!

“If you’d also been successful, you’d have put the Oxnard colony in danger,” Spike said.

Xander’s eye widened and not with desire. A small fear raced through his system chilling his ardor a bit. What did Spike mean by that? Xander wondered.

“Did you ever think what would happen to the colony if you’d somehow contacted the Council or escaped? Do you know that they would have sent forces to Oxnard? Do you know that they would have interrogated the people there? Who there really knew anything about you, Xander? What could anybody have told them? Not to mention, what would happen to the colony when the Council discovered they’d received stolen Council goods and had contact with Biogens?”

Xander could feel Little Xander begin to wilt as Spike bombarded Xander with questions. The colony would probably have been destroyed, Xander thought. There would have been arrests and fines over the goods and the colonist probably couldn’t afford them. Families would have been broken up and…Xander paused for a moment. He wanted to argue that the colony shouldn’t have been doing business with the Biogens in the first place but the colony hadn’t been dealing in anything that could directly harm the Council. They had only received raw goods, food and medicine.

Xander caught Spike’s gaze. Xander opened his mouth to argue he hadn’t meant to cause problems for the colonists. Spike swooped down and once again possessed Xander’s mouth.

Spike’s tongue dove in and retraced the sweet warmth while Spike’s hand twined around Xander’s cock and balls again coaxing the shaft back to full hardness. Xander thought he should fight Spike by biting him but Xander’s tongue disagreed. It wanted to do battle and it engaged the enemy; Spike’s tongue. The two men fought with slick, wet kisses that left them breathless and full of each other’s taste.

Xander was once again hard and wanting. Spike could feel his boy’s need for release.

Spike pulled back from the kiss and stared at Xander.

“You’re not my slave, pet,” Spike said as he continued to stroke Xander. “You’re a prisoner and my CM. Don’t you ever again do some thing so foolish and reckless or next time I’ll take you over my knee!”

You wouldn’t! Xander thought. Spike smiled at the unsaid challenge. Xander’s eye widened realizing Spike would!

“Later you will apologize to Gunn for giving him the slip,” Spike ordered. Xander narrowed his eye.

“Pet, that’s one of the conditions to getting your kit back.”

Bastard! Xander thought and then nodded.

“Now, do you want to finish this or do you want me to let you go?” Spike asked as he stilled his hand and withdrew his touch from Xander.

Xander lay there bound naked in front of Spike. He was hard and weeping and he still had the lingering taste of Spike in his mouth.

“Let me go,” Xander hissed through gritted teeth. No matter what, Xander thought. I’m still Lt. Xander LaVelle Harris and I’m not just gonna spread for a Biogen; even if I bust a nut!

Spike sighed and stood up. Though fully dressed, Spike’s own erection was obvious. Spike quickly undid the shackles restraining Xander’s legs before moving to the head of the bed and freeing Xander’s hands and neck.

Xander sprang from the bed as quickly as he could and stood on the opposite side of the room from Spike. Both men stood staring at each other harder than either had ever been; hard for each other.

Spike began to strip.

“What are you doing?” Xander panicked.

“I think we could use a shower,” Spike replied.

“What?” Xander shouted.

“A shower before bed would do us both some good,” Spike said as he removed the last of his clothes. Xander was now treated to seeing Spike gloriously nude. The man was perfect. He was rippled flesh, hard muscle and sinuous line. Spike’s cock was as arrogant as the Biogen who owned it. It pointed straight up and like Xander’s it was leaking. Xander swallowed.

“I don’t think…” Xander began.

“That’s obvious, pet,” Spike smiled and interrupted before holding out a hand, “but it’s also irrelevant. Now come with or I'll pick you up and carry you into the shower, yeah?”

Xander skirted around the bed and moved toward Spike. However, Xander did not take Spike’s hand. Instead, he quickly moved past Spike and dashed into the small bathroom. Spike chuckled, shook his head and followed his stubborn boy.

Spike motioned Xander into the shower first and then followed. The stall was small to begin with and with both men inside it was pretty much cramped. Spike flipped the cyle on and shoved Xander under the water wetting him thoroughly.

“You know I've been doing this on my own since I was five,” Xander said as he looked angrily at Spike.

“Well when you learn to act at least that old, I’ll let you shower by yourself again,” Spike said as he got a handful of soap. “Now turn around.”

Some part of Xander thought turning his back on Spike was a really bad idea but the other part knew fighting with Spike would probably only get him bound helpless back on the bed. Xander quickly turned around before Little Xander could show how happy he was with that idea.

Spike soaped Xander’s hair and then began to scrub. Spike’s long and strong fingers moved over Xander’s scalp and through his thick hair. Spke made little circles on Xander’s scalp and Xander found himself leaning his head forward giving Spike more access to the back of his head and neck. Spike continued with the scalp massage for a little while before beginning to soap and rub down the rest of Xander’s body.

Slowly Xander could feel his tension unwind under Spike’s firm but relaxing touch. Some of the tension briefly returned when Spike’s hands circled around Xander’s waist and moved low towards the half asleep Little Xander. However, Spike’s touch was clinical and Little Xander barely twitched. Xander nearly jumped out of his skin though, when he felt Spike part and cleanse the cleft between Xander’s ass cheeks, but once again Spike’s touch was clinical.

Finally when Xander was thoroughly scrubbed Spiked stepped back away from Xander and said, “Rinse.” Xander did. He took nearly all the time left in cycle thoroughly rinsing everywhere Spike had soaped him even parting his own cheeks to let the water sluice through.

Spike thought it had been torture earlier to soap his boy while trying to defuse the tension in him. However, Spike nearly moaned as he watched Xander rinse himself. When Xander parted his cheeks to rinse the hidden places there, Spike wanted to drop to his knees, grab those firm globes, part them and then dive his tongue into Xander’s puckered hole until the boy screamed and bucked and came hard all over the shower.

Instead Spike had spun around so his back was to Xander and thought of his early days of service to Quentin Travers. The memories of the man’s pale flabby body pounding into Spike quickly cooled Spike’s arousal and kept him from tumbling over the edge or doing anything he’d regret.

The shower cycle turned off the dryers began. Both men stood and let the dryers work the water off their bodies. The process also aided in bringing them down from their sensual high.

“Right,” Spike said as the dryers finally ended. “Time for bed, pet.”

Spike stepped out of the shower and Xander followed. The men moved into the bedroom and Xander meant to move on to the sitting area.

“Oi!” Spike said. “Where do you think you are goin’?”

“Well I thought the couch,” Xander said. “But I guess I lost that privilege too?”

Xander went to grab the small blanket so he could curl up on the floor only to have Spike catch his wrist.

“On the bed, pet,” Spike said.

“What?” asked Xander.

“You heard me,” answered Spike. “You lost the privilege of sleeping alone. Now up on the bed.”

Oh this is SOOO not good, Xander thought. Little Xander thought it had potential.

“Xander,” Spike said softly, “You can either get up there on your own or I can throw you.”

“I hate you,” Xander said as he climbed up on the bed. Spike smiled and climbed up after Xander.

“Now,” Spike ordered, “roll on to your stomach.”

Xander stared at Spike. You have got to be kidding! he thought.

Spike made a little swirling motion with his finger indicating once again the clear order for Xander to roll on to his stomach. Xander groaned and lay on his stomach.

“Close your eye, pet,” Spike said as he put his hands on Xander’s shoulders and rubbed.

I give up, Xander thought and closed his eye. Xander was once again too tired to fight any more.

Spike smiled and then really began to add pressure to his rubbing. Slowly Spike circled his thumbs into Xander’s flesh until he could feel the muscles in his boy’s back unknot and Xander groaned with pleasure.

Over and over Spike smoothed and stroked Xander’s knotted flesh until his boy was relaxed and breathing deeply. Spike marveled at the feel of his boy and the sight of his boys flesh rolling under Spike’s hands like dough. Spike was careful of all the bruised spots; though he couldn’t stop the rush of rage when he saw them. NO ONE hurts my boy, Spike thought.

Eventually Xander’s breathing grew even more deep and even until Spike knew Xander was on the cusp of sleep. Spike ceased his massaging, reached for the blanket, lay down and covered him and his boy.

“Lights,” Spike said softly and then curled up next to his boy throwing an arm and a leg over him.

Part Twelve

Xander stared at the familiar surroundings. I don’t want to be here, his mind screamed. Xander looked around. Everything was still the same. The two corridors stretched out before him. Down the right led to the control room of the relay station and the left led to the storage and living area.

“Doesn’t this get old?” a voice asked from behind Xander.

“Jesse!” Xander shouted in surprise and turned to stare at the man behind him. Jesse’s tall and lanky form with his short dark hair and thick dark eye brows sent Xander’s heart racing. Though for the first time Xander could remember his heart raced only in joy at seeing his friend; not with desire.

Jesse smiled at Xander and moved forward. Then Xander remembered where they were.

“Jess,” Xander said, “this isn’t good. We need to leave here.”

“Xan,” Jess replied, “this is the only place you ever let me be.”

Jess then began to move off toward the right corridor.

“NO!” Xander screamed. “Don’t! Let’s stay together. Hey, even better, let’s get out of here.”

Jess smiled at Xander. “Bud, we would if we could.”

Jess continued to move off. Xander rushed after him and grabbed his arm.

“Please, Jess,” he said. “Don’t go.”

Jesse stopped and looked at Xander.

“It won’t change anything,” he sighed.

“I know, I just…”

Jesse reached out and put a hand on Xander’s shoulder and then slid it up to touch Xander’s face and calmly traced Xander’s eye patch. Xander turned his face into the touch.

“Even in your dreams…,” Jess whispered.

Xander nodded.

“…Lt. Xander LaVelle Harris…” echoed slightly down from the left corridor.
“You have to stop this, Xander,” Jesse said.

“I try, Jess! I try! Over and over I try and it never changes! It alwa…,” Xander began to cry.

Jess reached forward and hugged Xander to him kissing the soft hair above Xander’s ear.

“…Caleb…unarmed….back home…,” another warm voice drawled and filtered down from the right corridor.

“Xander,” Jess whispered into Xander’s ear as he held the shaking man. “I mean this. This self torture.”

“I deserve it,” Xander mumbled into Jesse’s neck.

Jesse pulled back slightly and took Xander’s head in his hands. He tilted Xander’s head up to meet his gaze.

“No you don’t,” Jess said. “I forgive you.”

Xander laughed bitterly.

“You’re my dream Jesse; of course you’d say that.”

“Maybe,” argued Jesse, “But don’t you think the real Jesse would forgive you too?”

“The real Jesse’s dead!” Xander snarled as he tried to pull away. Jesse held strong.

“Yes he is,” Jesse said. “But he loved you…”

Xander snorted.

“He did Xander. Maybe not the way you wanted and needed but he did love you the best way he could. You were his best friend. Did you ever wonder if maybe Jesse wished he could give you what you wanted? Did you ever think he might carry his own hurt that he couldn’t?”

“Don’t,” whispered Xander.

“If thine eye offends me…,” Caleb’s voice once again echoed out of the right corridor, “…pluck it out!”

A blood curdling scream ripped through the station. Jesse grabbed Xander and held him close. His hands carded through Xander’s hair as he Xander began to whimper and cry.

“Shhh! Xander,” Jesse soothed the trembling man. “I got ya. I got ya, pet.”

Xander looked up suddenly at the word “pet”. Jesse’s face and body changed and it was Spike holding him and soothing him.

“No,” Xander said as he tried to struggle.

“XAAAAANDEERR!” Jesse’s voice came roaring down the left corridor quickly followed by Jesse himself.

Xander turned in Spike’s arms. “Jesse! Don’t!” he screamed.

Spike wrapped his arms around Xander and held him firmly. He placed small kisses down Xander’s neck.

“It’s ok, pet. You’re ok. I got ya. I got ya, pet,” Spike soothed and he held Xander firm.

Jesse went tearing down the right corridor. He was shouting into his communicator, “This is Captain Jesse McNally; requesting IMMEDIATE back-up and a med-crash unit. Stat!”

“Oh God! Jesse,” Xander cried and whimpered. “Please don’t! Don’t! Spike! Please! Let me go! I gotta stop him!”

Spike continued his soothing litany while keeping Xander pressed firmly close to him. There was a sound of a scuffle and then another horrible scream of agony. This time it was Jesse’s.”

“…he really doesn’t have a heart…,” Caleb’s voice echoed.

Then the room began to fill with arriving Initiative back-up and Xander’s horrible screams. Xander collapsed in Spike’s arms sobbing Jesse’s name. Xander woke up in the same position.


Xander’s tear-filled eye flew open and he felt Spike wrapped around Xander’s sweat slicked body. Spike’s arms were holding Xander tight and Spike was pressing tiny kisses all along Xander’s neck.

Over and over Spike kept saying, “Shhh! Pet. I got ya. It’s ok, Xan. It’s ok, pet. I got ya.”

Xander stiffened. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want a fuckin’ soulless Biogen offering up something it could never understand; compassion.

“Let me go,” Xander said icily.

Spike froze but kept his hold on Xander.

“You awake?” Spike asked softly.

“I’m awake and I want you to fucking let me go!” Xander shouted at the end.

Slowly Spike retracted his arms and rolled slightly away from Xander. The moment Xander was free he was off the bed and on the other side of the room from Spike. Spike sat up and watched Xander.

“You wanna talk about it, pet?” Spike asked and then said, “Lights.”

“No I don’t want to talk about it!” yelled Xander. “I want you to fuckin’ leave me alone! I want you to stop touching me! I want to sleep in the other room or anywhere that takes me away from you and I especially want you to stop calling me your fuckin’ ‘pet’!”

Spike got off the bed and moved in front of the bedroom hatch; blocking off the entrance.

“You’re not going anywhere, Xander,” Spike said softly.

“I hate you!” Xander shouted. “Don’t you get it? I just don’t fuckin’ like you! I HATE you! Do you get off trying to seduce someone that wants you dead?”

Spike actually winced. His boy’s words hurt more than Spike realized they would. Still, he pressed on. This wound’s been festerin’ long enough and it’s goin’ ta get drained one way or another, Spike thought.

“Is it really me you hate, Xander or another Biogen?” Spike asked.

Xander gasped and his eye narrowed. “Is there a fuckin’ difference? Didn’t you all pretty much come from the same soup? Weren’t your nanonites pretty much mass produced from the same factory?”

Different tack then, Spike thought.

“What happened to Jesse?” Spike asked.

Xander hissed, “Don’t you dare say his name!”

“Why not, pet?” Spike deliberately pressed. “What’s so sacred about the name Jesse?”

“Stop it!” snarled Xander.

“Why are you constantly martyring yourself to his name, pet?” again Spike poked.

“I’m warning you, Spike! Shut up!”

“C’mon, pet, who is Jesse? Tell me. So I too can share in the worship of the great Jesse, Jesse, Jesse…”

Xander snarled and charged at Spike; ignoring the possibility the chip may fire if he actually tried to hurt Spike. Quickly Spike side-stepped the rushing man, swung his arm out to clothes line Xander in the stomach and then knocked his enraged boy back on to the bed.

The force of colliding with Spike’s out stretched arm knocked the air out of Xander and when he landed on his back on the bed it took more than a moment for his body to figure out how to get air back into his lungs. Spike took advantage of those moments to pounce on his boy and pin him down with his hands above his head and his Spike’s weight firmly holding his boy’s legs still.

“What. Happened. To. Jesse?” Spike asked very slowly and very softly.

Xander stared up at Spike with hate and frustration burning in his one eye.

“Go to hell!” snarled Xander.

Spike sighed. “Ok, so much for the nice way, pet.”

Spike quickly moved off of Xander and before Xander could move or roll off the bed Spike had grabbed him by the upper arms and was hauling him up toward the head of the bed. Xander realized what Spike was about to do and began to struggle. It did him very little good as once again he felt the collar being attached to the restraint.

Spike then grabbed Xander’s at hands and cuffed them one by one back to the restraints.

“NO! Stop Spike! Please! Stop!” Xander began to scream as Spike was now moving down to shackle Xander’s legs.

Once again Xander was bound and stretched out naked on Spike's bed. Xander jerked and screamed.

“You sick asshole! You blond butchering freak! Is this how you get your jollies, huh?!”

Spike moved away from the bed and into the washroom. He wet down a rag and came back into the bedroom and sat down near Xander.

“Are you done, pet?” Spike asked softly.

“Fuck you, Spike! You murdering soulless piece of filth! You’re nothing but a thing! A heartless thing that tortures and maims and…”

“Right,” Spike said as he draped the wet washcloth over Xander’s forehead. Then he got up and moved to the bedroom hatch.

“Lights,” Spike ordered, and stepped through the hatchway, closed the hatchway door and then poured himself a tall whiskey.

Spike sat on the couch nursing his whiskey for a long time while Xander ranted and raved. When the insults came less and the sobs more Spike finished his drink, poured a glass of water from the bar and moved back toward the bedroom hatch. He opened the door.

“Lights,” Spike softly called. A puffy and red-rimmed brown eye swiveled Spike’s way.

“I really hate you, “ Xander softly whispered.

“Be that as it may, pet,” Spike answered. “Are you ready to talk to me now?”

Xander nodded as much as the collar restraint would allow. Spike moved forward and set the glass of water on the table. He then went and picked up the now warm and moist cloth from Xander’s forehead. Spike went into the bathroom, rewet it, and came back out. Gently he wiped down Xander’s flushed and tear stained cheek. Every now and then a new tear would leak out and Spike would wipe it away too.

Then Spike undid the collar restraint but left Xander’s hands bound. Spike set aside the cloth and retrieved the glass of water from the dresser. Spike moved back to the bed and used one hand to support the back of Xander’s head while the other guided the glass to Xander’s lips.

“Just water, pet,” Spike said. “You need some after a fit like that.”

Xander was thirsty and so he did begin to sip at the cool water. It felt wonderful going down his raw and hoarse throat.

Once Xander drank about half the water, Spike pulled the glass away and lay Xander’s head back down. Spike put the glass back down on the dresser and then stretched out on the bed alongside Xander. Spike stretched out on his side propping his head on his elbow. He had one hand free to pet his boy if he needed to and could look his boy in the eye.

“Now, pet” Spike said. Xander turned his unrestrained head to look at Spike. “You will tell me about your mate Jesse. If you start another fit, I’ll bundle you all back up good and proper again and leave ya till ya calm down just like before. I can do this as long as it takes. Do you understand?”

Xander nodded. He didn’t want to talk to Spike but Xander knew he just couldn’t do this anymore. Xander was so wrung out. Xander really had no choice and he knew Spike meant what he said.

Xander stared at Spike. Spike stared back and then reached out a hand to Xander. Tenderly Spike began to card his fingers through Xander’s hair as he waited for his boy to speak. Spike played with one lock that he kept tucking and re-tucking behind Xander’s ear. Xander just watched Spike.

“Longer hair would suit ya, pet,” Spike whispered.

For some reason Xander didn’t understand the comment made him smile. Spike took advantage of the smile and abandoned Xander’s hair to trace that smile with Spike’s fingers. He loved the soft feel of his pet’s lips. Then Spike resumed petting Xander; running his fingers through the rich dark hair.

“Tell me about Jesse, pet,” Spike softly asked.

“Jess,” Xander sighed. “Jess was my best friend. I loved him. I really loved him. We grew up together. He was everything I wasn’t. He was quick, graceful, and comfortable with himself. Willow, he and I, we were just this unstoppable trio. Why they needed me around sometimes I’ll never know, but I’m glad they did.”

Xander paused. Spike remained silent just watching and petting his boy.

“Mostly Wills and Jess had Initiative aptitude but somehow they made sure my scores were passable and we got assigned together to work with Buffy.”

Spike nodded.

“Things just evolved quickly after that. Wills got jacks and became a Cybermage and Jesse,” Xander smiled. “Well Jesse probably got in more trouble then I. But his screwups were on purpose and usually resulted in a successful outcome. Didn’t take long for him to get promoted to Captain and become Buff’s right hand man. Her primary back-up.”

Xander paused. Spike brushed a thumb over Xander’s left eye brow.

“I mostly helped with research, weapons inventory and fetch and carry. But hey I was allowed in all the meetings and got to be with my friends. It was a good life.”

“So wot happened?” Spike whispered as he continued to smooth the flesh around Xander’s sunken eye socket.

“I missed Jess.” Xander replied. “I mean we just never had any ‘us’ time. Any guy time. Especially after the Faith incident. Jess was more withdrawn and more hardcore. Whatever discipline he’d received from the Council changed him and he was more work than play. It was wrong of me I know, but I was hurt. I wanted my friend back. I know that he never cared for me the way I did for him or wanted from me what I wanted from him but…”

Xander trailed off. A small tear trickled from his right eye. Spike softly scooped it away.

“Anyway,” Xander continued, “there was this report of a Council stat, relay station, malfunctioning. They’re routine reports. Stats are usually unmanned most of the time. They’re on auto run. They do life-support and have supplies for when techs need to stay or the odd Council ship comes by but for the most part they just run and every now and then a glitch happen and there’s a malfunction and someone needs to go out and look at the stat. Happens all the time. Protocol is to send a small squad out led by a two man recon unit.”

Xander turned his head and began to jerk against the bounds. “Spike, please let me loose.”

“No, pet,” Spike said softly but firmly as he removed his hand from his boy, “I tried it the other way first and you didn’t want to play. We’re doing it this way now.”

Xander began to struggle a little harder. “Spike please! I just…I can’t…I need…”

“Wot do you need, Xander?” Spike asked.

‘I need to be outta these damn things!” Xander shouted and jerked.

Spike started to stroke Xander’s stomach with long tender caresses. He leaned over his boy and began planting little kisses around his nipple and down his rib cage.

Xander’s breathing grew erratic and his struggles interspersed.

“Tell me,” Spike said between kisses, “wot happened at the relay station, pet.”

Xander lay still for a moment gasping and feeling Spike caress and kiss him.

Xander stared up at the ceiling and swallowed. It felt like he was splitting in two. Part of him was bound and nude on Spike’s bed; lying there being kissed and stroked by Spike. The other part of Xander was back on the relay station watching events from a year ago.

‘I convinced Jesse,” Xander began in flat tone, “that we should take on that mission. It would be routine and he and I could just have some hang time without the girls. He agreed and off we went. We would do the two man recon sweep of the station and if everything checked out, like it usually did, we’d leave the techs behind to repair the thing and off we’d go back to the ‘Dale; back to catching up with the girls at the Bronze.”

Xander paused a moment as if he were dusting off long buried files. Spike continued to pet, kiss and suckle his pet as necessary.

“We arrived and as planned Jess and I took the recon pass. Jess went to check out the control room and I went to check out the storage and living area. I never knew what Jess found in the control room but me? I found a man…a hurt looking man in the living area. He looked afraid. He showed me his bleeding arm. Said, ‘Please don’t hurt me, son.’ “

Xander swallowed.

“At first I couldn’t figure out why he thought I’d hurt him…and then…then I knew. He was a Biogen! He was a fuckin soulless Biogen!”

Tears began to fall from Xander’s eye. Spike abandoned kissing Xander’s side so he could nuzzle and lick away the salty liquid.

“I pulled my weapon and went to call for back-up. Protocol says…you encounter a Biogen…you call for back-up. But he just looked at me with these hurt brown eyes and he said, ‘Please son. I know you’re just doing your job but I’m hurt and I’m unarmed. I’m not a threat to ya. I just was looking for a bit of food. I had some problems with my ship. It’s on the underside of the station. Used the sensors to camouflage it. It’s fixed now and I’ll I want is just some scraps here and I’m gone.’”

Xander tried to kick his legs. Spike whispered,”Shhhh,” and carded his fingers through Xander’s hair.

“I don’t know why I listened to him…but he looked helpless and he was bleeding blood. Red blood! I don’t know why but I always thought Biogens would bleed differently. I just stood there looking at him. And he just kept talking and smiling. Kept telling me he and most Biogens were harmless. They just wanted to be free to live their lives. That wasn’t wrong was it? Didn’t I just want to live my life? I identified myself. He told me his name. I knew I should have called for back-up. I knew I should have yelled for Jesse but he just seemed so harmless. Kept repeating he was unarmed and just wanted to go home. Then he smiled and that’s when I realized how close he’d gotten to me. I said, ‘Please step back.’ Before I knew it he’d grabbed my gun and jerked it away from me!”

Xander’s eye was wide now and his tears were a steady stream. Spike continued to nuzzle and pet Xander. Spike threw his leg across Xander’s and pulled himself tighter to his boy.

“Then he grabbed me and suddenly he wasn’t so harmless any more. He laughed and he looked me up and down. He called me a ‘Council meat sack’. Said he’d been done with them a long time ago. Said he didn’t serve the Council any more and then…and then …Oh God Spike!”

Spike gripped his boy hard. Xander closed his eye.

“He said he didn’t like the way I looked at him! He said my eye offended him and he was going to pluck it out!”

Xander was sobbing now. Spike continued to hold on to and touch Xander.

“He stuck his thumb in my left eye and he just…just scooped it out Spike! He just scooped out my fuckin’ eye like it was nothing! I screamed! I screamed…and then the next thing I knew …Caleb…,”

Caleb? Spike recognized the name. Screw Angel’s rules, Spike vowed, Caleb’s dead when I find him.

“…Jesse was there ordering Caleb to let me go but he threatened to snap my neck. Told Jesse to put down his gun. I don’t remember if I begged Jesse not to do it. I hope I did. But it doesn’t matter cuz Jesse did! He put down his fuckin’ gun, kicked it away and the next thing I know Caleb’s throwing me against the wall. He and Jesse are fighting. I’m trying to sit up. My head is screaming in pain. I’m trying to focus…to see…and it’s so hard, Spike! But I do make it only to see Jesse’s hurt and bleeding and Caleb’s got him and then Caleb’s lookin’ at me and smiles…he fuckin’ smiles and he says, ‘you, you’re all heart son’ and then…”

Xander’s was jerking and arching off the bed as hard as he could. Spike was holding him tight nuzzling him as best he could.

“…Then…he jammed his fist right into Jesse’s chest…grabbed….OH GOD! SPIKE HE RIPPED OUT JESSE’S HEART!” Xander sobbed.

Spike kissed, petted and licked his boy. Spike swore, Caleb’s dead. There won’t be a trial or evidence or the need to prove he broke Angel’s sodding rules. He’s just dead.

“And…and you know what he said Spike? Huh? You know what he said? He said ‘this one he really doesn’t have a heart,’ and he threw Jesse’s body at me. Then there was the sound of back-up arriving. Caleb looked at me and laughed. Said it was my lucky day and that we’d finish later and he left….he still had Jesse’s heart, Spike…he still had Jesse’s heart…”

Xander was now lying flat on the bed with his head turned toward Spike. He was sobbing.

“I couldn’t tell them where Caleb went…I didn’t…couldn’t see…all I could do was hold Jesse’s cooling body..I couldn’t tell them why I broke protocol..if I’d followed protocol…maybe I’d be dead..but Jesse..Jesse…Spike it’s all my fault…he’s dead…I loved him…he was my best friend and he’s dead cuz I trusted a fuckin’ soulless Biogen.”

Spike rained kisses down on his boys face. He licked tears away and thanked whatever omniscient beings were listening that Xander hadn’t followed protocol; that Xander was alive.

“There was an inquiry and…they reassigned me to be ‘diplomatic liason’…under Captain Riley…it’s a joke job..and it takes me away from Buffy and Wills and…then…then you….the DeSoto…you…”

“Yeah, me, pet,” Spike said softly.

Xander opened his eye to stare at Spike through a wash of tears.

“Make me forget,” Xander whispered and pleaded, “Please, Spike. Beat me, kiss me, kill me…just make me forget.”

Spike swept his gaze over Xander's face as if it were a treasure he’d been searching for all his life and had finally found. Then Spike fixed his gaze back on Xander’s pleading chocolate eye. Spike smiled, leaned forward and murmured against Xander’s trembling lips, “I’ll take option number two, pet.”

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