Breaking Free


Part Nineteen

“What kind of ‘bait and switch’ statement is that, Xander?” Spike exploded.

“There’s no ‘bait and switch,’” replied Xander. “I want you and I want an end to this monumentally fatal and wrong war.”

“Well you can’t have ‘em both!” growled Spike.

“Why not?” asserted Xander. “Why does this have to be an either or…Or?”

“Because the Council will not stop until all Biogens are dead!”

“How do you know that?!”

“How can you…,” Spike blanched and then answered emphatically, “I know.”

“Spike,” Angel gently interrupted, “We have to try.”

“Why?” snarled Spike.

“Because how long can we really last if this war goes on? There are only so many Biogens and each casualty reduces our numbers.”

“We’ll win in the end. Superior forces and all that rot,” answered Spike. And there’s always Fred’s project, Spike thought but didn’t voice. “’Sides, more colonies are siding with us every day. We’ll survive.”

“At what cost, Spike?” Angel continued. “Even assuming no more Biogens die, what about the human cost of this conflict? How many pure humans, Council and Biogen allies alike, have to die?”

“I don’t bloody care!” shouted Spike.

Angel sighed and Xander flinched.

“Yes, you do,” Angel said softly. “You’ve had enough of the killing as I have…”

“So wot? I lose both Dru and Xander to this war?” Spike asked.

“Hey,” Xander said reaching out to touch Spike’s hand, “Who says you have to lose me?”

“Pet, you think you can just pop back in for tea and be home in time for din-dins? You go back to your mates and they won’t let you go. You try and they’ll think you've gone round the bends or you’re a grass.”

“They’ll think I’m foliage?” Xander asked perplexed.

“Oi, a traitor!” Spike tried not to let the spark of humor at Xander’s befuddlement creep in and ruin his rant.

“Oh,” Xander said and briefly smiled and then continued. “Well maybe I have.”

“Have wot?” Spike asked.

“Gone a little crazy,” replied Xander.

It was Spike’s turn to flinch.

“I mean,” Xander continued as he pointed back and forth between himself and Spike, “All this between us has happened fast. It’s happened while I was your prisoner…”

“Pet,” Spike softly warned.

“Hear me out,” Xander pressed on. “I’m not saying I regret it or it’s not real but maybe it would be good to have some time and distance. Perspective. Make sure this isn’t just some sort of…”

Spike quickly put a hand on the back of Xander’s neck and gently but forcefully pulled Xander to him until they were face to face.

“I warned you, pet. You let me have you, I wouldn’t let you go. I’ve tasted you,” Spike breathed into Xander’s opened mouth, “I’ve tasted all of you and you’re mine. End of discussion.”

Xander stared up into Spike’s cerulean blue eyes flecked with gold while breathing in the scent and breath of his angry and possessive Biogen. Xander licked his lips.

“I’m not arguing with you about belonging with you. I am yours,” Xander began, “but I’m also Lt. Xander Harris and if there’s a chance to end this war then I’m obliged by my oath and my own humanity to try.”

“I could tie you up, lay stripes to you, play with you, and leave you hot and wanting until all you knew was me!” Spike threatened. “You’d be begging for me to take you and this ballsed-up war would be the last thing on yer mind!”

A few nights with a Biogen and Xan-man is Slut-man, Xander thought as he felt himself harden in response to Spike’s threat. Ok, not just any Biogen but Spike!

“Yes, you could,” Xander softly acknowledged as he leaned into Spike making it very easy for Spike to smell Xander’s arousal and need. “But when all the sweating, hoopla and naughty touching was over I’d still be back to arguing with you about this.”

Angel watched the play between the two men and felt his own reactions to the heat, desire and testosterone filling the room. The smell of Spike’s need was bringing back sweet memories to Angel and he felt his own response growing. Angel’s darker nature even wanted to claim Xander. Xander’s the key to reclaiming William, the Angelus side of Angel whispered. Take him and William will follow you just as before.

Spike slipped into his enhanced face and began to devour Xander in a passionate kiss.

“WILLIAM!” Angel barked desperate to stop where the scene before him was heading before he felt himself pulled too far along by the riptide of his and Spike’s lust and emotions.

Spike was nearly lost in the taste and feel of his pet and the need to assert his dominance. Yet his history with Angelus was too long and too emotional not to respond to the barked command. With more discipline and speed then he knew he had, Spike suddenly released a confused, and for the moment, completely submissive Xander.

“Come here,” Angel ordered.

Spike moved away from Xander and stood next to Angel. Xander licked his lips and blinked trying to refocus.

“Xander,” Angel said softly. “Why, don’t you see if Harmony is back? Ask her to show you to Spike’s room.”

“We’re not finis…” Xander tried to argue.

“Pet,” Spike said, “let’s take a fiver.”

Xander looked at the two Biogens. Something about the way Spike was suddenly being deferential to Angel had Xander uneasy. And something about the way Angel’s looking at Spike, Xander thought is putting Little Xander in a bad mood.

Xander stood and quickly crossed over to Spike. Before either Biogen could react, Xander placed a soft kiss on Spike’s lips.

“I’ll be waiting for you,” Xander said to Spike and then shot a look at Angel. Back off, Xander thought. Spike’s my big bad, Bio-Boy! Xander then turned and left.


“Ya think you can do it?” Caleb asked one of his new recruits.

“Certainly,” the dark haired Biogen smiled.

“Good,” Caleb said. “Once you have the Council boy, Xander, away from Angel’s HQ then be sure to get rid of the collar.”

The other Biogen arched an inquisitive eyebrow.

“They’ll be able to track the boy with the collar,” Caleb answered the unasked question.

The other Biogen smiled again, nodded, and then asked, “What does Xander look like?”

It was Caleb’s turn to smile, “Ya can’t miss him. He’s tall, lanky, dark haired and sportin’ a souvenir from our last meeting.”


“He’s missing an eye,” Caleb said and then noted the other man's puzzled look. “It offended me.”

Caleb then waved his hand gesturing for the other Biogen to get moving. The other Biogen nodded and then moved toward the door.

“I hate unfinished business,” Caleb began to speak again and the other Biogen stopped. “Don’t fail me, Gavin.”

“Yes, sir,” Gavin said and then quickly made his way out of the room.


Xander stepped back out into the lobby. There was no sign of Harmony but Faith was perched on Harmony’s desk.

“You survived,” she observed.

“It’s not over,” Xander answered.

“Then why are you out here?”

“Apparently things were getting too much for Bio-Boy,” Xander answered.

Faith laughed. “You know in his day he killed people for much less?”

“You think I care?” Xander asked ignoring the ball sized pit in his stomach. “Besides I thought he was the reformed Angel? All on the side of humanity and such.”

“Oh he is,” Faith said. “But jealousy can have an odd affect on even the meekest of men.”

“J-j-jealously?” asked Xander.

“Suppose you’re staying with Spike,” Faith said as she popped down off the desk. “C’mon, I’ll show you to his rooms.”

Faith began to saunter towards some lift doors. Xander stumbled after her.

“What do you mean, ‘jealousy?’” asked Xander.

“Mmm-hmm,” Faith said. “You need to ask Spike.”

Faith and Xander stepped into the lift.

“Third floor,” Faith said and after a few moments’ delay the lift began to ascend.

“I will tell you, though,” Faith offered, “you are who Spike wants.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Xander asked. “Why are you hinting about some past relationship between Spike and Angel and then trying to reassure me that I’m the one Spike wants? This a new head game?”

Faith smiled and shook her head. “I don’t want any more emotional land mines blowing up in your faces. It was bad enough on a small ship with just the crew of the DeSoto. Things get out of whack on a planet full of Biogens…”

The lift stopped and the doors opened. Faith stepped out letting her sentence trail off. Xander followed thinking about what the former Regent was saying.

Still, Xander thought, what am I supposed to do with this information? Sit in Spike’s room wondering if he’s playing ‘hide the sausage’ with Angel? Or am I supposed to play twenty questions when Spike gets back and hope that one plus one doesn’t equal three or worse; zero?

Faith stopped outside a door and waved her hand over a bioscan lock. The locked clicked and Faith opened the door. Xander looked questioningly at Faith.

“Angel doesn’t like Spike late for a meeting no matter how hung over. We learned a long time ago it was best if I and Wes had access to Spike’s room for those times when he just couldn’t get out of bed on his own.”

“Oh,” Xander said. “Did…does that happen often?”

“Not so much,” Faith smiled while looking at Xander. “Well not so much anymore.”

Faith then gestured Xander inside. Xander sighed. Guess I’m CM whether I’m on the ship or not, Xander thought and stepped into the room. The room was large and airy with light streaming through the windows. The room was tidy and looked to be a much larger sitting area then on the DeSoto. It also had a larger bar.

“See ya later,” Faith said and then shut the door behind her. Xander whirled around. Suddenly he felt alone and claustrophobic despite the room’s size. Xander rushed to the door and tugged on the handle expecting it to be locked. The door swung open easily. Xander poked his head out into the hall.

“Need something?” Faith asked halfway back to the lift.

“Is it ok if I leave?” Xander asked.

Faith nodded. “But, where would you go?”

“I…,” Xander drew a blank. “I just needed to know.”

Faith smiled. “It’ll be ok, Xander.”

Xander nodded, stepped back in the room and shut the door. Xander turned around and looked once again at the room. Well, he thought, guess there’s only one thing to do; snoop while I wait for Spike.


Angel stood up and moved to the mini-bar in his office. He poured himself a drink, downed it and then poured another. He walked back over to Spike and handed him the glass. Spike slipped back into his human face and looked at Angel. Spike took the glass.

“Here’s to the red of it,” Spike said and then slammed the drink back. Angel stood close and took the glass from Spike’s hand and put it on the desk.

The two men stood staring at each other breathing in their scent mixed with the sweet tang of the alcohol on their breaths. Angel stepped closer to Spike until their heat combined and enveloped them. Angel leaned down and brushed his lips softly against Spike’s.

Spike stood there for a moment reveling in the feel of Angel’s lips against his own. Then Spike brought his hands up and smoothed them through Angel’s hair and gently tugged him away.

Angel smiled and relinquished the kiss but touched his forehead to Spike’s. Once again the two men stared at each other.

“You always were a nancy boy, you know that?” Spike asked.

“I couldn’t let you go without a good-bye kiss,” Angel said softly.

“But you will let me go?”

“If this is what you want,” Angel answered.

“You know it wouldn’t have worked…” Spike tried to say.

“Just answer the question, William. Is this thing with Xander what you want?”

“Aye,” Spike said.

Angel tipped his head up, closed his eyes, placed a final soft kiss on Spike’s forehead and then stepped away from the blonde man. Spike released his hold on Angel. The two men parted and each calmed their bodies and emotions in their own way. Finally, Angel moved back to sit at his desk and Spike perched on the corner.

“You know there’s plenty of room on the couch,” Angel said pointedly.

“Yeah, but this annoys you more,” Spike smiled.

“I want an end to this war,” Angel said.

“I’m not sacrificing Xander to do it,” Spike said.

Angel sighed. “Spike, we have to do something and something soon.”

“Why the rush? Surely the blonde bint, Buffy isn’t doin that much damage?”

“The danger doesn’t just lie with the Council.”

“Then wot?”

“We might be facing an internal rebellion.”

“WOT!” Spike said as he hopped off the desk and began to pace the office. “Who? You just give me a name and I’ll rip their spleen and other soft parts out!”

Angel smiled. Spike may be a pain in the ass and now my ex-lover, Angel thought, but he’s still loyal.

“A Biogen named Caleb,” Angel answered.

Spike froze briefly and then there was an explosion of movement as Spike slipped into game face, grabbed Angel and threw him up against the wall.

“You tell me where he is!” Spike snarled.

Before Angel’s back had hit the wall he had slipped into his own game face and even as Spike was snarling his question Angel slammed his head forward and knocked Spike backward. There was a snarling tangle of bodies and then Angel had an enraged and bloodied Spike pinned to the wall.

“You’ve got the span of ten heartbeats to tell me what this is all about, William,” growled Angel, “and the count started five beats ago!”

“Bloody bastard is the nob that ripped out Xander’s eye!” yelled Spike as he brought his knee and slammed it into Angel’s stomach. Angel grunted and used both hands to clench Spike’s throat and shake the enraged Biogen.

“I’ll not warn ye again William!” shouted Angel as he continued to shake Spike. “Calm down or I’ll bind you and strip yer skin off startin’ with the soles of yer feet! Now wot’s this about Caleb and Xander?”

Something of Spike’s predicament seemed to seep past his rage and through to his rational mind. Angel had slipped into the unconscious brogue of Angelus. Memories, fears and programming from long ago unconsciously took hold and Spike went limp and obedient in Angel’s hands.

“Caleb killed Xander’s best mate and ripped out his eye a year ago while they were on a routine mission to check out a Council relay station. They were not a threat to Caleb. I mean to kill him, Angelus.”

Angel slowly relaxed his grip and struggled to get his breathing and darker impulses under control. I’m not the beast I once was, Angel internally recited. I can control my darker emotions. I can choose to be a better man then the Council made me.

Spike eased back into his human face and remained passive. Slowly, Angel released Spike and once again stepped away from the other man.

“Caleb’s been recruiting those Biogens who want a return to the wanton bloodshed,” Angel said softly. “They believe in the utter superiority of Biogens and that humans should be subjugated. And worse, he’s recruiting those who are just tired of the war. Those who just want it over by any means necessary.”

“Do you know where he is?” Spike asked softly.

“He moves around, but there are reports he has been on Hyperion.”

Spike hissed. “I meant what I said, Angel.”

“I know, Spike. Though you just can’t kill him without a trial.”

“Bloody hell, Angel! I just told you he violated one of your own laws and now you say he’s plotting treason and you want to give him a trial?”

“We're going to do this the right way, Spike. We find him, arrest him if we can, and try him. I’m not allowing either of us to go back to the assassination game.”

Spike sat down.

“Do you have any leads at all?”

“There are rumors he makes contacts at a local bar.”

“Which one?”

“Not sure yet. There are a couple of options: The Black Thorn and The Groosalugg.”

“Well then,” Spike said as he stood up.

“Spike,” Angel said, “We’re not just going to go barging in there.”

“Why the bloody hell not?”

“Because we’re too well known. You or I set foot in there then Caleb or any people he has working there will relocate. We wait.”

“For wot?” Spike asked.

“For my contacts to tell me he’s there.”

“And what do we do in the mean time?”

“We argue some more about letting Xander rendezvous with the Regent Prime and the Prefect…”

“Wot about Caleb?”

“…and you can tell me more about what happened between Caleb and Xander.”


The lobby was mostly empty by the time Harmony returned from her errand lugging several packages. Not only had she got the new shirts for Angel but she took the liberty of getting Xander some new clothes. A worse fashion disaster couldn’t walk through that door, Harmony internally groused, if Cordelia Chase herself walked in!

Harmony could vaguely hear Spike and Angel arguing in the office. She sighed as she lugged some more. Those two, she thought. They fight more than most married couples. Sleep with each other more too!

“Here, let me help you,” a voice offered from behind Harmony and strong hands reached out and took hold of a few packages.

“Thank you!” Harmony said cheerily as she reached her desk, put the rest of her load down and turned to see who her gallant savior was.

A tall man with black hair who was too perfect not to be a Biogen smiled at her.

“Hi,” he said as he laid his packages next to Harmony’s.

“Hi,” she said back. “Can I help you?”

“I hope so,” the man said. “I’m supposed to deliver a message.”

“A message?” Harmony asked.

“Yes, I have a message for a Xander.”

“Oh! Yes! He’s Spike’s new friend. Last I saw he was in the office with Angel.”

The man tilted his head as if he was listening.

“Sounds like there are only two men in there right now,” the strange man replied.

“Oh! Well he might be in Spike’s room,” offered Harmony.

“Spike’s room?”

“Yeah. It’s up on the third floor,” Harmony said.

“Thank you,” smiled the man as he headed towards the lift.

“Wait,” Harmony said. “You can’t go up there!”

“I can’t?” the man asked as he stopped.

“Not without clearance.”

“How does one get clearance?” the man asked as he approached Haromny again.

“Well, some one from the staff has to give it to you,” Harmony answered.

The man smiled and reached out to tap Harmony’s nose. “Someone like you?

Harmony giggled. “Oh not me. I’m just the receptionist.”

“But you are part of the staff,” said the man.

“Well, yeah.”

“Then you could give me the clearance.”

“Well," Harmony said as she titled her head tossing her head, "I don’t even know who you are.”

“I’m Gavin,” the man said as he offered his hand to Harmony. She took it and he kissed the back of her knuckles. “And it’s a pleasure to meet you…Miss?”

“Harmony. Just Harmony!”

Gavin laughed.

“Tell you what. You waive me on up so I can deliver my message and later I’ll meet you for a drink.”

“Really? I mean that sounds great! Where?” asked Harmony.

The man seemed to think for a minute and then smiled. “How about at a bar called ‘The Groosalaugg?”

“Sure!” Harmony smiled. “What time?”

“How about in two ship rotations?”

“That’ll just give me enough time to figure out what to wear! Here!” Harmony said as she shoved some packages at Gavin. “Since you are going upstairs anyway. Give these to Xander. The door’s the second one on the left!”

Gavin smiled and picked up the packages. “No problem. See you in a few!”

Harmony started grabbing her bag and locking up drawers. “Only if I get home right now! I have just enough time to get ready.”

Gavin turned and left Harmony to her dithering while he proceeded to the lift.

Part Twenty

Xander eased the night stand drawer closed. I’m not sure whether to blush, he thought, or to take a cold shower. Little Xander had his own ideas. Xander sat down on the bed. The drawer contained things Xan had only seen in skin vids and some things he hadn’t seen at all.

What have I gotten myself into? Xander wondered. “Good times,” Little Xander seemed to reply as it twitched at some of the images flashing through Xander’s mind. Xander groaned and adjusted himself.

Then Xander thought about what Faith had said. Were these Spike and Angel’s toys? Xander questioned bitterly. Little Xander wasn’t as happy with that idea or the new images flashing through Xander’s mind.

“Damn!” Xander muttered aloud and ran his hand over his face. “Where are you, Spike? I need you.”

A knock on the sitting room door answered Xander. Briefly the hope of it being Spike chased away Xander’s doubts but the hope was gone as he heard the light knock again. Spike might have knocked once but not twice, Xander thought.

“Yeah,” Xander said without opening the door. “Who is it?”

“It’s Gavin,” the voice replied. “Harmony sent me up with some clothes and a message for you.”

Who’s Gavin? Xander wondered as he opened the door to find a smiling Biogen holding out some packages. Must work for Angel, Xander thought as he took the packages.

“The message?” Xander prompted without inviting Gavin inside. Not sure who is allowed in Spike’s rooms, Xander thought.

“Well,” said Gavin not put off by the lack of invite. “Spike and Angel are going to be awhile yet. So, Spike thought you might like to see some of Hyperion. He asked me to take you out for awhile and show you around.”

“Really?” Xander asked unsure what to think about the offer. Does Spike want to get rid of me so he can have some time alone with Angel? Or is Spike just being nice?

“Look, Xander” Gavin said watching the unsure emotions play across the young man’s face, “Spike and Angel can go on for hours when they get together and debrief. They lock themselves away to figure out what they're going to do next. Spike just didn’t want you to sit up here all alone with nothing to do.”

Xander smiled. The logic sounded familiar.

“If it helps,” Gavin said sensing Xander was close to agreeing to leave with him, “I could make it an order.”

Xander laughed. Now that sounds like a message from Spike, Xander thought.

“Mind if I change?” Xander asked wanting to put on clean clothes and hoping Harmony’s taste was better than her sense.

“Not at all,” Gavin replied. “Though if you hurry, we might be able to catch the dinner crowd.”

“The dinner crowd?” Xander asked as he pawed through the packages finding a silky green shirt and a pair of cream colored pants that might do well.

“The thought was you might like a fresh meal; not one that was re-hydrated.”

“Mmmm,” Xander couldn’t hide his pleasure at the thought of a fresh meal and one he didn’t to cook. “I’m in.”

“Good,” Gavin said. “Look, I’ll wait in the hall while you change.”

“BRB,” Xander said as he left the door open and headed off to the bedroom to change. Gavin waited just outside the door and smiled. So far; so good, he thought.

A few minutes later Xander stepped out of the bedroom and said, “Lead on!”

Perfect, Gavin thought. No muss, no fuss, and no trace. Gavin returned Xander’s smile and lead him out of Spike’s rooms, through the empty lobby, and out of Angel’s HQ.


Fred paused a moment before opening the door. She took a deep breath, held it and then let it out. She was home. She’d done her job and kept the ship together. Spike had done his and brought her home. Fred smiled and then pushed the double doors open. Immediately the sterile air of a real lab teased her senses.

“Fred!” a young man shouted in delighted greeting from behind a table as she stepped into the room. “You’re back!”

“Knox,” Fred laughed. “I wonder if I should be insulted at how surprised you always sound when you see me.”

“Well,” Knox chuckled, “you do lead the most adventurous life of us ‘geeks.’”

Fred laughed again and walked to the table where Knox was still seated behind a microscope. “I prefer to think of it as ‘empirical analysis.””

“Well as long as it doesn’t deprive our side of the greatest, and prettiest, mind in the galaxy,” Knox replied clumsily.

Fred blushed. “So what are you working on?”

“Oh,” Knox said scooting over so Fred could make her way around the table and peer through the eyepiece lens on the microscope. “Just following up on some work. Well, work you started before you left.”

“The special project?” Fred asked looking at Knox in surprise.

Knox nodded.

“Angel gave you permission?”

“He might not want to admit, Fred, but if we can get it to work it might make the difference in the war.”

“How close are you?” Fred asked.

“Well it’s more like how close are you! I just followed up on the notes you left Angel in your proposal.”


Knox smiled and pointed at the ‘scope. “See for yourself.”

Fred leaned down and peered through the lens and gasped.

“We’re close,” Knox said breathlessly. “We’re real close and with you back I know we’ll do it.”

Fred continued to stare through the lens. This could work, she thought. This really could work!

“Close enough for a trial?” Fred asked.

“Maybe,” Knox said.

“Get me all your notes,” Fred said as she sat down. “I want to review everything. If this project is as far as it looks I want to start a trial as soon as possible.”

“That might be a problem,” Knox said awkwardly.

“What?” Fred said finally looking away from the ‘scope and back to Knox.

“Angel authorized the go ahead for the research but he was very clear there would be no trials.”

“What?” Fred asked again.

“Fred, we do this we change everything. There’s no going back and while this could very well tip the balance of the war it could also escalate it.”

“No,” Fred said vehemently. “We do this. We prove we can do this and the Council will have to rethink everything.”

Knox sighed.

“Look,” Fred said standing up and moving away from the table. “You get your notes ready. I want everything; what worked and what didn’t.”

“Where are you going?”

“To see Angel,” Fred said.


Walking the streets of Hyperion almost gave Xander the illusion of being home. The sights and smells of busy traffic and the rush of humanity all around Xander cocooned him in the familiar. However, it was the odd glimpse of a collar on some person's neck or the too perfect smile on the face of an obvious Biogen that kept Xander from falling completely for the illusion.

“Impressive isn’t it?” Gavin asked noting Xander’s intent fascination with his surroundings.

“It’s not what I expected,” Xander replied.

“More sophisticated?” Gavin asked.

“Well that but to see so many Biogens and pure humans living and interacting together..without all the dying and butchering together,” Xander answered honestly. “I just…well you won’t see any vids of this at the academy.”

“C’mon,” Gavin smiled and made a left down an alley. “We’re almost there.”

“We are?” Xander said a bit dubiously as he followed Gavin down the alley.

“”Hey, the best places are the hard to find ones,” quipped Gavin.

Xander smiled. That was true in the ‘Dale. Ms. Calendar ran the best dessert shop in town, The Magic Box, but you had to know where to find it.

Gavin continued to lead down the alley until he reached a small side door. Gavin opened the door, stepped aside and a made a sweeping gesture with his arm.

“After you,” Gavin said.

“Thank you,” Xander laughed and entered the building. Xander was immediately confused. Though the room he entered was well lit it was empty except for the sound of scurrying unidentified rodents of some sort and broken crates.

“Uh Gavin?” Xander said confusedly, “are you sure you have the right….”

Before Xander could finish his statement his neck was grabbed in a tight choke lock. NO! Xander thought. Not again! Fucking soulless Biogens!

Xander panicked as he felt himself losing his grip on consciousness as the blood to his brain was being cut off.  Xander began to kick and flail which sent a burst of pain into his head from the collar. The sharp and fierce pained combined with the lack of essentials to his brain quickly ushered Xander into oblivion.

Gavin felt Xander go limp but he held his hold for a few more seconds insuring his prey was truly out. Once Gavin felt sure Xander was unconscious and not acting Gavin released his hold and allowed the young man to collapse to the floor.

Quickly, Gavin moved over to one of the over turned crates and pulled out a bag from underneath it and then moved just as quickly back to Xander. Gavin grabbed a set of wrist bindings, a roll of industrial tape and a small tool out of the bag.

Gavin then rolled Xander’s limp body over onto its stomach. Gavin grabbed Xander’s arms, pulled them behind his back and secured his wrists together using the bindings. Then Gavin used the small tool to unlock the collar. Gavin removed the collar and threw it in the corner. Once again, Gavin rolled Xander over. Gavin tore of a strip of the tape and used it to cover Xander’s mouth.

“Just one more touch, Xander,” Gavin said as he pulled a still unconscious Xander into an upright position. Gavin grabbed the now empty bag and then pulled it over Xander’s face. Gavin smiled. Caleb will be pleased, Gavin thought, all trussed up and not a mark on him. Carefully Gavin lowered Xander back to the floor.

Gavin reached for the communicator in his pocket and pulled it out.

“Ready for pick up,” Gavin said into the small device.


“Spike, the rendezvous with the Regent could be just the diplomatic opening we need,” Angel continued the same argument he and Spike had been engaged in for the last hour.

“And how do you bloody well know it won’t be a trap? Your wonderful chance at diplomacy could turn out to be an ambush!”

“They wouldn’t put Xander at risk like that,” Angel insisted.

“They wouldn’t? They let him go off with that bleedin’ sod Riley didn’t they?” Spike countered.

A knock on Angel’s door interrupted the argument. Before Angel could ask “who is it?” Fred strode into the room.

“Why won’t you let us do a trial?” she asked Angel.

“Fred,” Angel sighed. He’d hoped he could deal with one headache at a time.

“Why let Knox go through all the effort doing the research and development from my notes if you weren’t going to let us do a trial?” Fred continued.

“Knox’s has been working on your project?” Spike asked.

Fred nodded.

“Ya think it’ll work?”

Fred smiled and nodded again.

“Fred,” Angel tried again. “I wanted to know your project was viable, but I don’t want any trials. Should we have even one success it will change the dynamic of this war irreparably.”

“Without a trial we won’t know the true viability of this project,” Fred countered.

“I thought you indicated it would work,” Angel observed.

“In a lab situation under controlled circumstances. A trial is the only way to know if it really will work.”

“Bloody hell, Angel,” Spike said enthusiastically. “Do it! You know Gunn would be a kushty candidate.”

Angel shot Spike a withering look. Gunn might be too good of a candidate, Angel thought. The Council would really short itself out if Gunn were a successful participant in this project.

“Angel, please,” Fred piped in again. “You have to at least consider letting us do a trial.”

Angel pinched the bridge of his nose. “I can only handle one of my two most stubborn, independent, loyal and argumentative followers at the same time.”

Spike and Fred grinned.

“Spike,” Angel said. “Why don’t you go check on Xander and let me go round three hundred and fifty-four with Fred?”

“You’re goin’ down mate,” Spike observed as he stood up. “No one can survive Fred.”

Fred smilled and rolled her eyes. “Oh get on. I’m not that bad.”

“No, luv,” Spike said bending down to kiss the top of Fred’s head, “you’re that good.”

Fred laughed and Spike left the room.

“Have a seat,” Angel said pointing to the couch.

Fred sat down. “Angel,…”

Angel held up his hand halting Fred’s speech. “I know the arguments Fred. I do. I even agree with most of them, but you prove we can in some way pick up on Maggie Walsh’s work…something the Council hasn’t been able to do in nearly 200 years then we will have finally backed them into a corner.”

“And they will have to listen to us,” Fred said.

“Or they'll fear us even more,” Angel said.

“We won’t even really know if it works without a trial,” Fred said.

“Are you sure?”

“Angel, if you mean this to be some sort of last ditch effort we have to know it works and we won’t know that without a trial,” Fred argued. “If you want to be absolutely sure, we have to test it on a real subject otherwise it’s just speculation and it may not work when you need it…if you need it.”

“Go back to the lab,” Angel sighed again. “Review Knox’s notes.”

“You’ll think about it?” Fred asked.

“I’ll think about it,” Angel promised.

Fred smiled and stood up. She moved to the door.

“We can do this and nobody has to know,” Fred said.

Angel shook his head and waved Fred out.


Xander came to with the feeling he was being suffocated. He opened his eye and saw only blackness. I’m blind! Xander panicked. Then Xander registered the feel of the bag against his check. I’m blindfolded, Xander silently amended.

The feeling of suffocation was still with him. It was a combination of the bag over his head and the tape across his mouth. Xander was getting air but it was stuffy and was all being inhaled through his nose.  Keep calm, Xan-man, Xander chided himself as he continued to take stock of his situation. He could feel his wrists were bound behind him. Xander tried to move his legs only to quickly discover he was cooped up in a small area. He could also feel movement.

Back of a hovercraft?  Xander wondered. He didn’t have to wonder long as there was a sudden halt. There were sounds of people moving and then the sound of the hovercraft hatch lid being lifted. Hands grabbed Xander’s arms and lifted him out of the back of the hovercraft.

Xander stilled the urge to resist. No more shocks, Xander thought. Have to be alert. Xander was half dragged and half led forward and through what he assumed was a doorway and a series of rooms. He could hear the muffled sounds of voices. Surprisingly, Xander could also detect the aroma of food and alcohol.

Maybe Gavin’s taking me to a really exclusive place? Xander half-heartedly hoped. Finally the tugging on Xander’s arms stoped and he was allowed to stand still. He heard the sound of a door shutting somewhere behind him.

Xander could tell by the faint sounds of rustling and murmuring around him that there were other people in the room besides him and Gavin. Just as Xander noted the presence of others, the hold on his arms was released completely and he could hear the sound of someone withdrawing away from him even as someone else moved closer.

Ok, Xan-man, play it cool, Xander admonished. Xander tilted his head up, thrust back his shoulders and stood tall. A vaguely familiar chuckle circled him as he felt the new presence slowly walk around him.

Something inside of Xander went cold. There was a deep sense of foreboding taking root. Spike,  Xander thought. Spike, find me! Help me!

The presence moved back a short distance and then suddenly Xander was gripped again. This time he could tell he was being held by two people. The presence moved forward and suddenly the bag was ripped from Xander’s head.

Xander briefly turned his head as he blinked from the light.

“How do, Mr. Harris,” a voice all too familiar drawled.

Xander’s heart began to erratically beat in fear as his body was instantly drenched in sweat. He shot his eye forward to look at the face from his nightmares: Caleb!

“I see you remember me,” Caleb smiled and reached forward toward Xander’s face.

Xander began to struggle and hyperventilate but he couldn’t get away from the two Biogens holding him. Caleb plucked Xander’s eyepatch off and studied Xander’s misshapen empty eye socket.

“Fun times,” Caleb muttered and moved closer to Xander. “You know, back then I didn’t realize just how valuable you were. I just knew such a trusting human could be so much fun.”

Xander tried to scream and jerk back away from Caleb. Caleb touched the collar of Xander’s shirt.

“New clothes?” Caleb asked. “Wouldn’t want anything to happen to them.”

Xander looked at Caleb.

“Strip him,” Caleb ordered with a smile. Xander fought as best he could not caring if he was zapped by the collar or not. Help me, Spike! Willow! Jesse! Xander thought even as he helplessly struggled as another Biogen moved in to help hold Xander as the others undid Xander’s wrist restraints and began to make him as vulnerable as humanly possible.

It wasn’t until Xander got a solid kick into one of the Biogen’s shins that Xander realized something was wrong with the collar. It didn’t fire. The knowledge that he could fight back fueled Xander’s desperate struggles. At one point he almost broke free but he was no match for three Biogens. In the end and exhausted Xander was stripped naked and held out in front of Caleb.

“Secure him over there!” Caleb ordered as he pointed to in front of a large vid screen.

The Biogens hauled Xander in front of the vid screen so he could see it. Then they secured his arms over his head. Then they secured his feet in place. There was the sound of snapping fingers and suddenly the vid screen flared to life.

Xander was a split image in front of himself. On the vid screen was a split view. On one half of the screen Xander could see himself from a front angle. On the other half of the screen Xander could see himself from a rear angle. At least I'm not wearing the collar,  Xander tried to find something positive, for his sanity's sake, about the horrifying situation into which he was being plunged.

Caleb stepped in front of Xander and reached for the tape covering his mouth. With a quick yank, Caleb tore the tape off. Xander screamed. Caleb smiled.

Xander took a couple of deep breaths trying to control his fear and the pain. He looked at Caleb.

“What is it with you Biogens? Why the strip down and tie-ups?” Xander asked feigning more bravado then he felt.

“Adds to the fear and humiliation,” Caleb answered simply and then brushed a hand over Xander’s right cheek. Xander flinched and jerked his head away.

“I never got to finish what I started,” Caleb observed.

“Boo hoo,” Xander replied. Caleb laughed.

“I will finish, “Caleb said, “but first I intend to ask you a few questions, now that I know who you really are, Xander Harris.”

“You’re only going to get one answer from me,” Xander said, “and it involves an anatomically impossible position even for a Biogen.”

Caleb grabbed Xander’s chin and held it firmly while he stared into Xander’s face.

“I’m going to rip out your other eye, Xander Harris. But before I do, I’m going to give you some lasting images to muse over for the rest of your life...however short that may be. And while I’m giving you those images you are going to give me all sorts of information on your Council friends and maybe even a few of Angel’s friends.”

Xander tried to shake his head. Caleb smiled a snapped his fingers again. Gavin approached and handed something to Caleb. Caleb brought his hand up so Xander could see clearly. In Caleb’s hand was a large knife.

“From this moment on the only thing I want to hear coming out of your mouth is information. If not, I’m going to cut out your tongue. Now, I know you may think if I cut out your tongue that will keep you from telling me anything. Not so. If I cut out your tongue then I’ll free one hand so you can type your answers. If you don’t type anything I’ll cut off one hand and then you can do it with the other hand. If you lose both hands well then we’ll switch to yes or no questions and you can tap with a foot. If you don’t tap….” Caleb smiled as Xander’s eye widened. “Well you get the picture. Bit by bit boy I will get what I want out of you.”

Caleb stepped back away from Xander. Xander watched as Caleb handed the knife back to Gavin. Then Gavin handed Caleb a cat-o'-nine-tails with bits of twisted wire attached to the ends. Caleb then stepped behind Xander. Xander wanted to look away from the images before him but he couldn’t.

“Remember, if you scream,” Caleb said as he raised his hand with the whip, “scream something useful.”

Caleb swung his arm down and the firey pain seemed to slam into Xander’s back before he could even register the sight of the whip and wires digging into his flesh. Xander bit his lip and Caleb raised his arm again.

Spike! Xander cried internally as once again he felt his back being lacerated. Spike! Help me!

Part Twenty-One

“Pet,” Spike called out as he entered his rooms. A silence devoid of the hyper energy and sound that was his wonderfully stubborn and irritating git greeted Spike.

“Pet?” Spike called again frowning as he moved from the sitting room to the bedroom. Xander’s clothes were strewn on the bed.

“Xan!” Spike barked frustrated and a little worried by his CM’s absence. Spike peeked into the lavish bathroom with the large shower and even larger tub. Spike growled. Spike prowled looking for signs of Xander.  It didn’t take long for Spike to notice his room had been searched, especially the night stand drawer. When I find you, pet, Spike thought, I’m going to tan that lovely bum of yours with the paddle in that drawer for worrying me.

Spike continued his search and in the front room found the packages of clothes.

“Harmony,” Spike muttered. The bint must have got him some clothes and pinched him for a gab.

Spike pulled out his communicator.

“Harm,” Spike barked. Once again silence was Spike’s only answer. “Feck it, Harm, answer me.”

Wot the bloody hell is going on? Spike wondered when he didn’t get an answer.

Spike signaled Angel.

“Yeah?” Angel replied immediately. ‘Bout time someone soddin’ did, Spike thought.

“Is Harm out in the lobby?” Spike asked.

“Gee, Spike, let me use my x-ray vision and see,” Angel replied.

“Quit being a wanker and tell me if she’s out there,” Spike snapped.

“Don’t twist yer knickers,” Angel muttered. Spike held his breath for the few moments he knew it was taking for Angel to check the lobby. The lobby had been empty when Spike had come up to his rooms but he was beginning to fervently hope Harm was down there banging on about her nails and boring Xander into a coma.

“Lobby’s empty, Spike,” Angel said. “What’s the matter? Xander making you sleep on the couch?”

“He’s bloody not here!” thundered Spike.

“Not there?”

“’S wot I said init?”

“Where is he?” clipped Angel.

“That’s wot I’m trying to find out you stupid wally!”

“Spike,” Angel growled in warning. “Have you tried contacting Harm?”

“Gee, never crossed me mind,” replied Spike. “Course I did and I got no answer.”

“Damn,” Angel said after a brief pause.


“She left her communicator in her desk again.”

Spike rolled his eyes. “Tell me why we don’t kill her again?”

“Spike,” Angel once again warned.

“Really, some folks are just too stupid to live. Drains the whole bloody gene pool.”

“Look, she’s got the collar on…”

“Probably only thing that keeps her pretty neck from getting broke,” Spike grumbled.

“Yes,” Angel sighed. “But it also means I can find her. You think she might be with Xander?”

“I don’t know. There are packages of new clothes up here. His old clothes are in the bedroom. I don’t know who else he’d be with, it’s not like there’s gonna be an academy reunion here.”

“Anybody else on the crew he might be with?”  Angel asked.

“Oi!” Spike said smacking himself in the forehead and for the first time felt a little more relaxed. “Maybe.”

“You contact the crew. Find out if he’s with any of them. Meanwhile, I’ll trace Harm and get a message to where she’s at and find out if Xander’s with her.”

“Right,” Spike said. Who would Xander be with? Spike wondered. Gunn?

Spike shook his head. If Xander were with Gunn he’d be able to hear the verbal sparring on the fire side of the planet. Spike signaled Fred.

“Fred here,” Fred’s perky voice answered.

“Luv,” Spike replied. “Is Xander with you?”

“Xander? No. Should he be?

Spike sighed. “Can’t find him. Was hoping he might be with one of the crew.”

“Not with me,” Fred said. “If he does show I’ll send him your way.”

“If he shows, keep him there and contact me.”

“Will do.”

Spike began to pace. Deep down a terrible sense of dread was forming and the urge to find Xander was growing exponentially.

“Right then,” Spike muttered. “Enough of the games.”

Spike marched over to the security panel by the door and accessed the logs to see who the security program had authorized to unlock the door. Harmony’s name wasn’t on the list for the day; Faith’s was.

Spike began to type in his code to access the security vids. He wanted to see who had been entering his room. Spike also signaled Faith.

“Hey,” Faith instantly replied.

“Xander’s missing,” Spike said.

“What’s the scoop?” Faith replied.

“New packages in the room. His old clothes are on the bed. You're the last person before me to access the security program to unlock the door.”

“There were no packages when I dropped him off. He did ask about going out.”

 “I don’t like this, Faith. Something’s wrong,” Spike said. ”Ping his collar. I wanna know where he is. Then meet me downstairs.”

“I’m on my way.”

The replay of the security vids came up on the small console. Spike fast forwarded into the time code registered for Faith’s entry. Spike clearly saw Xander and Faith. Pet looks unhappy about something, Spike observed.

Spike saw Faith leave, Xander’s head pop out for a moment and then the entrance was empty. Spike slowly fast-forwarded the vid. He stopped when he saw a strange man bearing packages outside his door. Spike watched as the man talked through the door, the door opened and then the man and Xander talked. There was a few minutes delay and then Xander left with the strange men.

Spike narrowed his eyes. Xan didn’t look threatened or scared, Spike thought. A brief surge of jealousy and doubt ran through Spike. Had Xander been playing him? Was Xander really a spy? Did he have a contact?

As quickly as the surge came it was gone; drowned out by the sense of dread still growing in Spike. NO! Spike thought. Xander had promised he was mine and Xan wouldn’t break his word. Something is wrong.

Spike headed out the door and down to the lobby. He’d wait for Faith and then he was going to find his Xander.


On the fifth stroke Xander broke.

“B-B-BUFFYLIKESCHOCOLATE!” Xander screamed in a long agonizing stream of words.

There was a pause in the whipping. Once again Xander’s chin was held in Caleb’s powerful grasp. Xander sucked in some air and looked at his torturer. Caleb met his gaze and smiled.

“Now a lesser man might of thought you were playing fast and loose with the rules, Mr. Harris. You screamed out something about your friends, but it was trivial,” explained Caleb. “But you see, Mr. Harris, I’m not a lesser man. Even the most trivial information I can use. It helps me build a profile. Helps me get a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses. Why even now I can think of at least one way to use that lovely bit of information you just gave me. Perhaps a gift of poisoned chocolate sent to the Regent? It’s trite and probably wouldn’t work, but then again with all the stress and worry she’s under with you being gone….”

Xander tried to gather enough saliva to form a Caleb-worthy spit ball, but his mouth was just too dry from the terror, breathing through the pain and his long scream. Xander shifted tactics and used up a lot of his waning strength to violently jerk his head.

Xander had a brief moment to savor his victory as he freed his chin from Caleb’s grasp. However, it was a very brief moment.

“Ready to go on are we?” chuckled Caleb as he once again moved behind Xander.

Xander tried to straighten as much as he could and barely managed to contain a gasp as even the slightest movement upped the levels of the caustic pain wracking his body.

“Now, let’s get a close-up on Mr. Harris’s back,” Caleb said as he once again raised his instrument of torture. “I want him to get a real good look at what his stalling is doing to him”

Xander couldn’t help but look at the vid in front of him. He couldn’t help but see the blood and the torn flesh. He couldn’t help but see the sixth stroke tearing through skin and muscle and flaying him open even more. Xander couldn’t help but bite his lips until blood flowed down his chin like the tears down his cheek.


As Spike stepped out of the lift he was met with the sight of Faith perched on Harmony’s desk and Gunn standing at the ready near by.

“Faith?” Spike said as he cocked an eyebrow.

“She called me,” Gunn answered. “If the ship’s CM has gotten himself in trouble again, I’ll find him.”

Despite the growing terror Spike was feeling for Xander he smiled. Right loyal crew I got, Spike thought.

“I’ve tracked his collar to a building a few blocks from here,” Faith said as she jumped down from the desk.

Angel stepped out of his office. “Harm’s on her way back.”

“Back from where?” Spike snarled.

“’The Groosalaug,’” Angel said. Spike hissed.

“If she’s working for ....”

“Spike, Harmony’s not that talented to be a double agent. She can barely even remember she works for me…no way could she work for two bosses.”

“When she gets here,” Spike said deciding to ignore the question of Harmony’s loyalties and capabilities for the moment, “find out who the strange man was who brought packages to my room and then left with Xander.”

“Xander left with someone?” Angel asked.

“Yeah, didn’t look like he was threatened either. It’s all on the security vids. See what you can find out,” Spike said.

“Where are you going?”

“Faith’s got a bead on Xan’s collar. Its a few blocks over.”

Angel nodded. “Call if you need back up.”

“Only one who’s going to need back up is whoever it was that led my Xander away from me,” Spike answered.

“Spike…,” Angel began to softly chastise.

“Lead on,” Spike said to Faith as he ignored Angel. He can bust my chops later, Spike thought.


Xander was in hell. Each stroke brought more agony than Xander ever thought existed. Xander tried to keep his concentration on what didn’t hurt, like his hands which had long gone numb. Yet the rhythmic slams of the braided wire and leather slapping against his broken and bleeding flesh always brought him back to where it was agonizing.

Jesse, dude, Xander thought. I hope you got a spot open for me.  I don’t think I’m gonna be around much longer.

“GILESSTILLREADSBOOKS!” Xander screamed as another painful stroke lacerated the fresh flesh of Xander’s lower back.

I’m so sorry, Xander inwardly sobbed. Please forgive me guys. Just be smarter than he or I. Don’t let him use whatever I give him.


Spike stood at the opening of the alley. Faith was on his “threes” and Gunn at his six.

“Wot the bloody hell made him go down here?” Spike growled.

“It’s just up ahead,” Faith said as she checked her readings.

“Right. We go in and we go in hard,” said Gunn.

“We get my boy,” Spike countered. The clawing fear inside him was leaving the taste of bile in his mouth.

With deadly familiarity the three members of the DeSoto crew moved quickly and quietly down the alley. As they approached a small door on the right Faith indicated “this is it.” Gunn looked back at Faith and pointed to the left of the door; then he moved to the right of the door. Spike nodded at his two crew mates then melded into his enhanced form.

Faith nodded at Spike and Gunn caressed his rifle. Spike’s mouth stretched into a grin that had nothing to do with mirth. In a blur of speed and strength he raised his foot and kicked the small door off its hinges and tumbled into the building. Quickly Faith and Gunn followed preparing to give Spike cover.

The emptiness of the room sent Spike into a frenzy.

“XAAAANDER!” Spike howled as he tore through the trash, debris and broken crates. Gunn swept through the room using back and forth motions with his weapon. Faith surged over to a far corner, bent down and picked up Xander’s collar.

“SPIKE!” Faith shouted to the raging Biogen. Spike whipped his head around to stare at Faith.

“He was here,“ Faith said simply. Spike took a deep breath and stilled for a moment. He scented the room. He could smell a trace of his boy and his boy’s fear. Thankfully he didn’t smell any of Xander’s blood.

“There’s nothing,” Gunn said.

Spike turned around and headed back out the door; his crew followed.

“Harmony better hope she has some answers,” Spike growled and swept back into the alley with his duster billowing behind him.


“Whew!” Caleb said as he paused in his whipping of Xander. “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired and thirsty.”

Xander used the break to try and even out his breathing. His entire back was on fire and he didn’t even want to think about what it looked like anymore. His hope that he’d pass out or die before Caleb was through with him was denied during Caleb’s last break when he’d ordered Xander be given a stimulant and just enough essential medical attention to keep him going.

Caleb stepped back in front of Xander and lifted his head by the chin. Xander didn’t fight. He didn’t have the strength or energy.

“You’re not looking so good, Mr. Xander,” Caleb said. Xander just rolled his eye. Caleb laughed and motioned to one of his minions.

“Fetch some water won’t you?” Caleb ordered while he continued to look at Xander. Xander tried not to note the mix of blood (his blood) and sweat streaking its way down Caleb’s face. Caleb smiled. The minion quickly brought a glass of water to Caleb. Caleb used his free hand to take the glass and in exaggerated motions bring it to his lips and take a long satisfying drink.

“Just what I needed,” Caleb sighed. “How about you, Mr. Harris? Would you like a drink?”

Xander tried to look away. Caleb laughed.

“Oh, I bet you would, Mr. Harris,” Caleb said. “Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal.”

Xander narrowed his eye.

“You give me something more than the name of the Regent’s stuffed pig or Giles’s favorite late composer and I’ll give you a drink.”

Xander shook his head.

“C’mon Mr. Harris,” Caleb tried again. “I’m just asking for one little secret. Something no one else knows about your friend. Just one and I’ll give you a long cool drink of water.”

Xander focused his eye back on Caleb.

“One small secret, Mr. Harris,” Caleb said again.

“Wills…Willow…” Xander whispered.

Caleb smiled. “A secret about the Prefect?”

Xander nodded.

“A secret nobody else knows?” Caleb asked.

“D-d-deepest,” Xander whispered.

Caleb smiled and held the glass up to his Xander’s lips. Carefully, Caleb tilted the glass so Xander could drink.

Xander tried not to gulp but the water was heavenly. It was cold, soothing, and most likely his last touch of comfort before he died. Xander savored the feeling while even trying to dismiss the voice that warned this bit of comfort would prolong his agony just a little longer.

When the glass was empty, Caleb took it away and handed it to a minion.

“Now, Mr. Harris, about that secret,” Caleb purred.

“Wills,” Xander began as he met Caleb’s hungry gaze. Willow,” Xander said in a much stronger voice, “she’s the one who broke the yellow crayon the first year at the academy.”

Under different circumstances Xander might have found it amusing the different shades of purple Caleb’s face turned as his rage built. However, under these circumstances it was terrifying. Xander didn’t have to worry about it one way or another as suddenly Caleb’s fist slammed into Xander’s face; into his right eye.

The world exploded in pain, light and then went dark. Xander felt Caleb’s fist slammed into him again. Well on the bright side, Xander thought as he realized he’s eye was damaged or at least swollen shut, I don’t have to watch his crappy program any more.

A third strike to the face rocked Xander’s whole body and he once again bit his bloody and torn lip as the movement and shock sent tendrils of blazing pain arching out from the bloody meat that was once his back.

Xander felt his chin being grabbed once more. He heard Caleb try and control his breathing. Ha! Xander thought. Puny Xan-man got ya didn’t he?!

“Well, Mr. Harris,” Caleb seethed into Xander’s ear. “Seems you provoked me into something I wasn’t ready to do yet. I was hoping to give you some more images but by the look of your eye I can tell that’s not going to happen any time soon…or at all.”

Xander swallowed.

“I suppose from now on, you’ll just have to guess what I’m going to do to you.”

Xander held back a whimper. Spike…Buffy…Wills…just make sure this asshole suffers when you find him, Xander prayed.


The crew of the DeSoto burst through the doors at HQ. Spike briefly noted Angel talking to Harmony and then surged forward. Before Angel could lay a hand on him, Spike had Harmony up against a wall with his hand wrapped around her throat.

“WHERE IS HE?” Spike snarled in full game face.

“W-w-who?” Harmony squeaked.

“XANDER!” yelled Spike.

“SPIKE!” Angel yelled as he put a hand on Spike’s shoulder. Spike shrugged it off.

“Back off Angel or I swear I break this bird’s neck!”

“A-a-a-ng-g-gel?” Harmony cried.

“Spike, you kill her and we won’t learn what she knows,” Angel said softly.

“Where is he?” Spike snarled again.

“I don’t know. I swear. I don’t know,” Harmony cried.

“Where did the packages in my room come from? Who was the man that gave them to him?”

“G-g-gav-v-vin,” Harmony answered. “I gave them to Gavin to take upstairs to Xander.”

“Who’s Gavin?” Angel asked.

“I don’t know!” Harmony squealed.

“You let a stranger upstairs?” Angel growled.

“He..he..he had..a..a m-m-message,” Harmony said.

“From who?” Spike asked.

“I don’t know,” Harmony sobbed.

“Listen ya little trollop! You better start knowing something quick or I’m going to scatter your entrails all over this lobby!!!” shouted Spike.

“He said he had a message. He seemed n-n-nice. He offered to buy me a drink,” wailed Harmony.

“A drink, Harm?” Angel asked. “Is that the price of your loyalty?”

“He..w-w-was a Biogen! Hyperion. I didn’t think…”

“That’s obvious you daft cow!” snarled Spike.

“He was going to buy you a drink at ‘The Groosalaug?’” Angel asked.

Harmony nodded.

“A date!” yelled Spike. “You sold out my pet for a DATE!!!!”

Spike tightened his grasp on Harmony’s neck and she began to turn blue.

“Spike!” Angel yelled. “Let her go!”

“My boy is missing!” yelled Spike as he watched Harmony struggle like a pinned fly.

“And killing her isn’t going to help!” Angel yelled and grabbed Spike. “Now let her go William!”

Spike forced himself to uncurl his fingers and release Harmony. Harmony fell to the floor and sucked in air in great gulping sobs. Spike turned to look at Angel.

“If anything's happened to Xander I’m going to take her apart slowly,” Spike snapped.

“We’re wasting time, William,” Angel said. “We’ll worry about Harmony later. Right now we’re heading out to ‘The Black Thorn.’”

“The Thorn? Why?” asked Spike. “Shouldn’t we check ‘The Groosalaug’ for that bloke Gavin?”

“He won’t be there. I doubt he sent Harmony to the place where Caleb is,” Angel said.

“Caleb? You really think that nob Gavin is with Caleb?”  Spike asked desperately hoping what his instincts had been screaming was wrong.

“Spike, I think given what you said and what we now know about Caleb we have to consider the possibilities.” Angel looked at the younger Biogen. “We don’t have time to argue. We may only get one chance. I’ll send a team over to ‘The Groosalaug’ while we hit ‘the Thorn.”Gunn and Faith looked perplexed. "I'll fill you in on the way," Angel said.

Pet, Spike inwardly wailed. Please be ok. Please don’t let that monster have you…and if he does. Hang on! Hang on Xander. I’m coming for you.


Xander lost count of the blows Caleb delivered. Over and over Caleb seemed to work out his rage and frustration by slamming his fists into Xander. Every time Xander escaped into the realm of oblivion he came back to the feel of a small needle sliding back out of his arm.

Couldn’t he at least have an incompetent medtech? Xander thought. One who just might slip and give me an over or under dose?

“I think it’s time we tried something new, Mr. Harris,” Xander heard Caleb say. “My arms are getting tired and my hands are getting sore.”

Let me take a moment to so not care, Xander thought.

“Remember, Mr. Harris,” Caleb’s voice droned, “same rules apply.”

Then Xander heard the faint hiss of a torch being activated.

Oh God! Xander thought before he felt and smelt the inside of his right thigh start to burn.



As Angel, Spike, Gunn and Faith approached “The Black Thorn” the cloying terror inside of Spike was nearly choking him.

“Gunn,” Spike said abrubtly.

“Yeah boss,” Gunn replied.

“You have one job and only one,” Spike said. “Get my boy. If Xander’s in there…if he’s hurt. Get  him out. Get Xander out of there and back to HQ.”

 “He’s the DeSoto’s CM. I’ll take care of him, Captain,” Gunn promised.

Spike studied his gunner for a moment and then gave a brief smile. Whatever feelings Gunn had about Xander and his relationship with Spike, Gunn had accepted that Xander was the Captain’s Mate of the DeSoto and that meant Xander was more than just crew: he was family.

“I’ve got a back-up team including Wes standing by,” Angel whispered. “Once we storm the place, they’ll take up positions making sure no one gets out. We’ll coordinate our attack with the second unit’s strike at ‘The Groosalaug.’”

Spike looked at his mentor, former lover, and leader. Angel laid a hand on Spike’s shoulder.

“If he’s in there, we’ll bring him home William,” Angel promised before turning and making the motion to move out.


“I’m growing bored, Mr. Harris,” Caleb said.

Xander tried to cough at the sick smell of his own burnt flesh but a cough required just too much energy. Xander wheezed instead.

“I want something useful, Mr. Harris,” Caleb threatened.

Yeah, well get used to disappointment budd… Xander began to think and then the most horrifying pain yet slammed through his senses. Xander convulsed and struggled vainly against his restraints as he felt the flame of the torch sliding back and forth over his cock and balls.

When the flame came to rest at the tip of Xander’s shriveled penis Xander screamed loud and long as if he could pour his very soul out of his tortured body through the sounds escaping his mouth. The flame was removed and Xander sagged in his bonds.

“Spike,” Xander whispered knowing these would be the last words he’d ever speak. “Spike, I love you.”

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