Breaking Free


by
StillRose




Part Twenty-Five

Angel lay down on his office couch and closed his eyes. The news from Spike was good. Xander had woken up briefly and complained of his leg itching. Fred had said the itching would be a problem. Xander’s nanites were doing more than just healing the damage; they were regenerating and restoring dead or missing tissue.

Both Spike had and Angel understood. They’d had enough of their own severe wounds over the course of the years to know what the “healing itch” felt like. How many times did Spike suffer through it because of me? Angel wondered. Good times, whispered Angelus.

Angel groaned as long buried memories tried to surface. He made such a good “boy,” Angelus whispered again and for a moment the sight of Spike’s striped and bloody back haunted Angel. He forgave me, snarled Angel. Did he? Or was he just too afraid not to forgive you? answered Angelus.

Angel flung his arm over his eyes. I did what I had to save him, Angel continued the fight with himself and his memories. You did what you did because you enjoyed it, argued Angelus.

Angel sat up and ran his hand through hair. He took a couple of deep breaths and reminded himself that this wasn’t the past. He wasn’t Angelus. This was the here and now. Each choice he made, each action he took was his and not the person the Council had made him.

Why kid yourse…Angel’s darker side started to whisper. Angel cut the thought off and stood up. He crossed over to the bar and poured a drink. He took a couple of deep breaths while he stared into the amber depths.

“Where are you when I need you, Doyle?” Angel whispered and then downed the drink. Dead, whispered Angelus.

“But not forgotten,” Angel sighed and then smiled. “And he’d tell you to get pissed because Angelus is done. Concentrate on Angel. Concentrate on the people around me and the good that can be accomplished.”

A knock interrupted Angel’s self-help pep talk.

“Yeah!” said Angel. Angel’s office door opened and Wes walked inside. The look on his face didn’t bode well for Angel’s mood. Wes shut the door.

“What is it?” asked Angel.

“We finished with the sweep of the ‘Thorn,’” Wes said.

“And?” Angel prompted.

“Most of Caleb’s known associates were apprehended or killed when we rescued Xander,” Wes explained.

“But?” Angel prompted again.

Wes stepped forward and handed Angel a round vid disc.

“We found this,” Wes said.

Angel looked at the disc and then back at Gunn and Wes. “This isn’t…?”

Wes nodded. “I believe Caleb recorded everything.”

Angel flashed fangs and gold eyes. “Did you watch it?”

“Only enough to identify what it was and what it contained,” Wes said.

Carefully Angel set the disc down his desk before he could snap it in two. “Were there any copies?”

“Not that I could tell, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any.”

Wonder what secrets the boy gave up? whispered Angelus. Shut up! snarled the inner Angel.

“This stays between the two of us,” Angel ordered.

“What about Spike?” asked Wes.

“No! Neither he nor Xander need to know about this right now,” said Angel. At least not until you know what’s on it, whispered Angel’s annoying dark side.

“What are you going to do with it?”

Angel looked at Wes.

“I don’t know,” Angel answered honestly. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t think he gave up any inf…,” Wes began.

“I don’t know, Wes,” Angel interrupted. “I know there’s only one way to find out, but I’m not sure watching Xander be brutally tortured is worth it.”

 “Angel, there have been other allies of Caleb there that didn’t get caught. Ones we don’t know about. If so they would be on the vid.”

Angel picked up the disc. He felt the pull of lurid curiosity. It would be so easy to justify watching the disc out of security concerns. NO! Angel thought. IF I ever I watch this it will NOT be because of some purient need to watch the details of Xander’s suffering. I am NOT Angelus.

“Angel?” Wes asked worriedly.

Angel handed the disc to Wesley. “Lock it up, Wes. I’ll let you know what I decide later. Just for now, lock it up safe somewhere.”

Wesley nodded and then asked, “Are you all right?”

“I’m tired, Wes,” Angel said and he was. “It’s been an intense few days. I need...I need a hot shower and a long sleep.”

Wes nodded. “Ok, but if there’s…,”

“I’ll call you, Wes,” Angel said. “If I need you, I’ll call you.”

I learned that much from Doyle, Angel thought. Don’t go it alone. Humanity comes from being with people; not being apart from them.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


The first few days of Xander’s recovery were a mix of frustration, joy and worry for Spike. He was frustrated with Xander’s “in and outs” of consciousness. He was overjoyed with how quickly the nanites were repairing the damage done to Xander’s body. He was worried about how to tell Xander the truth about Xander’s miraculous recovery.

Xander had been mostly tired and itchy the first few days. However, when consciousness began to assert its full reign, Xander’s mind was as sharp as his mouth. On the third day Xander had pulled off the bandage covering his right eye and marveled at his clarity of vision.

“There’s not even any bruising,” Xander whispered as he stared at his reflection while propped up in Spike’s bed. Xander slowly twisted his body and looked over his shoulder at his back. Xander could see patches of new pink skin peaking out from behind flaking dead skin in the places where there weren’t still bandages.

“Spike?” Xander had querulously asked his constant companion. “How is this possible?”

“Well…” Spike had begun and then faltered. How can I tell the whelp the truth? Spike silently wondered.  What if he reacted badly? What if it set back his recovery? What if he hates me?

“We have developed an advanced dermaspray,” Spike lied.

“But my eye,” Xander asked as he turned away from his reflection to look at Spike.

“Wasn’t as bad as it looked,” Spike smiled. “Just needed a rest…and some of Spike’s special TLC.” 

Spike reached out and gently traced a finger down the side of Xander’s face and then brushed it over Xander’s lips. Xander smiled and sucked the finger into his mouth. Spike hissed with pleasure. My boy! Spike thought. My beautiful brave Xander!

Xander suddenly groaned painfully and then rolled his eye back.

“Pet?” Spike asked anxiously as he withdrew his finger from Xander’s mouth.

“Itches!” Xander cried as he tossed his head back and clenched the sheets in his fists. “ITCHEEEEEES!!!

“Shhhh, pet,’ Spike crooned. “Where? Where does it itch?”

Xander tilted his head forward and then looked down at his crotch. Xander hissed and clenched the sheets again.

“Yer just healin’,” soothed Spike.

“Spike,” Xander moaned. “It itches so bad.”

Spike leaned forward and kissed Xander’s forehead. “It ok, pet. It’s ok. It’s a good thing.”

“Doesn’t feel good!” snapped Xander and he hissed again.

“Ok, ok, ok, pet,” Spike said as he gently took hold of the sheets and pulled them away from Xander. “Let’s see what Spike can do.”

Spike went to gently remove the bandages and Xander grabbed Spike’s hand.

“No!” Xander shouted and paled. I can’t let him see me! Xander frantically thought. Can’t let him see….

“Xander,” Spike said softly as he stared into Xander’s wide brown eye and interrupted Xander’s panicked thoughts. “First, there’s not any part of you that I don’t want. You will always be nothing short of bloody marvelous and beautiful to me. Second, I’ve already seen what’s under those bandages. Who do you think has been changing them?”

“But Spike…,” Xander started as he blushed and tears formed in his eye.

“Xander…pet,” Spike interrupted again. “Trust me.”

Xander stared at Spike who still stared earnestly at him. Xander only saw patience and gentleness in that perfect face. And maybe love? Xander wistfully thought before he slowly released Spike’s hand. Xander was rewarded with one of Spike’s heart stopping grins.

Carefully Spiked peeled away the bandages revealing the raw and seeping flesh of Xander’s groin and upper thighs. Xander hissed and turned away before he could see what Spike noticed; new pink flesh under the ravaged and burned flesh.

“Oi!” Spike said. “It’s looking better ‘n better.”

“That’s better?” Xander said bitterly.

“Pet,” Spike said as once again he reached out and stroked Xander’s face. “You are doing wonderfully well. You’re bleedin’ amazin’.”

“You got the bleeding part right,” Xander replied dryly.

Spike bit back his laughter and leaned forward and placed another gentle kiss on Xander’s forehead.

“Stay,” Spike ordered as he got up from the bed to rifle through a dresser drawer.

“Arf!” Xander replied from his spot on the bed.

Spike laughed and crawled back into bed next to Xander with a jar of ointment in his hand.

“Lie back down,” Spike ordered.

“Why?” Xander asked staring suspiciously at Spike. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to help with that itch you stubborn git.”

“How?”

“Lie down and find out.”

Xander stared at Spike and then looked to the jar of ointment in his hand.

“You aren’t…?”

“Oi!” Spike growled as he used his free hand to gently push on Xander’s chest. “Just lie down.”

“Spiiiike,” Xander whined in a combination of fear of the pain of having Spike touch him, longing for relief from the horrible itch and loathing for Spike to know the damaged part of Xander so intimately.

“Shhh, pet,” Spike said once again as opened the jar and scooped out a glob of ointment. Spike put the jar aside and then rubbed the ointment between his hands. Need ta warm it up a bit, Spike thought.

“Now relax,” Spike gently ordered as he began to slowly and very gently rub the ointment in small circles on Xander’s upper thighs.

“Ah..ha…ah,” Xander sighed as his skin tingled in a brief war of itch, pain and then relief.

“Good, yeah?” Spike smiled.

Xander nodded and closed his eye. The agony of the itch and the healing process abated where Spike and the ointment touched Xander,

Spike continued to gently and lovingly lather the soothing ointment on Xander’s body. He couldn’t help but marvel at the work the nanites were doing. The first day on The DeSoto Xander’s body was so damaged they’d had to rig a special catheter so Xander’s body could evacuate its liquid waste. The second day they had removed the catheter. Spike could literally see how much regeneration of not just tissue but of whole flesh the nanites had accomplished.

Fred had continued to test Xander’s nanite levels and found they were consistent with those of normal Biogens and so Fred had begun to treat Xander like a normal Biogen. She had insisted on a diet high in protein and the minerals and other nutrients nanites needed for self-replication and tissue regeneration.

Whatever fancy equipment the bird wants to steal next from the Council, Spike thought, it’s hers. She earned it.

Xander lay back and continued to let Spike minister to him. He tried not to let the dark memories crowd in on him and concentrated only on the feeling of Spike soothing and treating him. Somewhere in the haze of comfort and relief a new sensation began to creep into Xander’s awareness. There was a new itch in Xander’s groin. It was slight and not even vaguely uncomfortable but all too surprising.

“Spike!” Xander in an astonished whisper as his eye flew open. Spike stopped in mid-stroke, felt the twitch in his hand and looked at Xander. Spike grinned and Xander’s heart fluttered. Little Xander twitched again.

“I think there’s hope for a full recovery,” Spike said.

Xander laughed. There’s a chance! Xander thought. There’s a chance!


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


It was the early morning of the fifth day since Xander’s return to The Desoto. Xander was floating in that too familiar space between consciousness and unconsciousness. He knew that at some point he’d been itching again. He knew that as was now the ritual, Spike had gotten the wonderful ointment and begun to treat him. But something was different this time.

Xander wanted more. Xander needed more.

“Spike,” Xander muttered.

“Mmm?” Spike softly answered while he rubbed the soothing ointment into Xander’s pink and wonderful new flesh. Just missing yer short and curlies, pet, Spike thought. Once those grow back in you’ll be right as rain.

Xander moaned and his body took over not needing his consciousness. Xander’s new flesh began to lengthen and harden. Spike gently stroked it with more ointment.

“Spike,” Xander sighed again.

“Need something, pet?” Spike said as he slid his ointment slicked thumb over the spongy round tip of Xander hard cock. Xander groaned low in his throat and thrust his hips forward. Spike repeated the process.

Xander’s breathing became faster and heavier. His lips fell open and beckoned to Spike. Not stopping his stroking and rubbing, Spike leaned down and began to gently nibble Xander’s bottom lip.

Spike was rewarded with the insistent thrust of Xander’s hard staff in Spike’s palm and his pet’s mouth opening wide in submission. Spike smiled and then took what was his.

Xander followed the pleasant sensations assaulting his body like a trail of breadcrumbs to consciousness. He woke to being hard and thrusting into Spike’s hand while Spike was tasting and mapping his mouth. Xander widened his eye in pleasant surprise and moaned.

Spike firmly slid his hand down Xander’s cock to massage his boy’s full balls while he pulled away from the kiss and looked at Xander.

“Mornin, pet,” Spike smiled and then firmly stroked back up.

“Spiiike!” Xander arched and cried in pleasure. Spike chuckled and then began kissing and tasting his pet’s throat.

“Spike! Spike…I…,” Xander tried to say.

“You what?” Spike asked as his suckled his way down Xander’s adam apple and over to Xander’s pert left nipple. All the while Spike never ceased in his rhythmic stroking of Xander’s length.

“How…how…is this..how is this possible?” Xander finally choked out between gasp of pure pleasure and want.

Spike smiled against Xander’s nipple then bit it lightly. Xander ran his hands in the soft curls on Spike’s hair. Spike laved the abused nipple with his tongue.

“Spike?” Xander asked again.

Spike finally lifted his head and looked at Xander. “Aren’t you a little old for the birds and the bees speech?”

Before Xander could answer Spike dove down and attacked Xander’s right nipple. Xander’s hands fisted in Spike’s hair as he once again cried his lover’s name.

Spike’s own cock was weeping with need and was tired of thrusting against Xander’s leg. At Xander’s breathless cry something primal in Spike responded. He needed his boy. He needed his pet. Spike needed to feel him underneath him.

With a surprising mix of speed and tenderness Spike ceased tormenting Xander’s right nipple and stretched himself out over the top of Xander. Spike lined up his hard length with Xander’s and began to thrust against him.

Xander’s hands slipped down from Spike’s curls to mold themselves to Spike firm shoulders.

“This has to be a dream,” Xander moaned as he held on to Spike and thrust back up against him.

“No, pet. This is US!” Spike said as he stared into his boy’s eyes and punctuated the last word with a hard and slippery thrust against Xander.

“SPPPIKE!” Xander cried in response and dug his nails into his lover’s shoulders. Something wild and uncontrollable ignited in Xander and suddenly he was raw sensation. Xander rocked, bucked and screamed against Spike.

Spike cupped their two cocks with one hand while Xander fucked him. Spike threw back his head and growled in joyful dominance and welcomed each thrust.

Xander wrapped his legs around Spike’s hips and for a moment hung over the precipice between want and relief.  Just as Xander began the long tumble down he screamed and jerked Spike to him. Xander spilt his hot seed as he bit into Spike's shoulder.

Spike went rigid with Xander’s scream and then felt his own powerful release as blood from Xander’s bite trickled down his shoulder. The two men writhed and moaned as their bodies spilt, bucked and finally relaxed.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Xander once again stumbled to consciousness. He was satiated, warm and sticky. Shortly after Spike and he had shared the most powerful orgasm of his life; they had both passed out. Now Xander was draped over Spike and although Xander was relaxed he felt sticky from the mix of semen and the ointment Spike had rubbed on him. Plus there was a distinctly metallic taste in Xander’s mouth.

Blood! Xander thought as he remembered another detail from his lovemaking with Spike. I bit Spike! I made him bleed!

Xander sat up and looked at Spike. There on his left shoulder were still the imprints of Xander’s teeth. Xander put a hand to his mouth. What got into me? Xander thought and then he made a face. Yuck! I need to get the taste of this out my mouth.

Cautiously Xander eased himself away from Spike. He didn’t want to wake the man if he could prevent. Spike looked tired from his constant vigil over Xander. Spike had tried to hide it; but Xander had known.

Some CM, Xander thought as he managed to slip out of bed. I’m supposed to be taking care of him and instead he’s doing all the hand and waiting.

With more grace and stealth than Xander had thought himself capable of he made his way to the small bathroom. Xander was not only steady on his feet; he was surprisingly steady on his feet. This was the first time he’d been out of bed since being brutalized by Caleb. Spike had insisted on taking care of all Xander’s needs and Xander’s complete bed rest. Still, Xander’s movements were strong and steady.

Once Xander was in the bathroom, he was suddenly aware of another need. I can’t pass this opportunity up, Xander thought as he made his way to the toilet. Spike had been making Xander use a bedpan the last several days. The thought of standing up to pee into a toilet seemed like a luxury to Xander.

Xander stood over the toilet and then for the first time in days looked down at his groin. He was so startled he almost forgot he had a call from nature. His skin looked pink and new! There were no scars, no burnt skin and no signs of torture. Just signs of sex and the need to pee, Xander thought as he gently took hold of Little Xander and begun to relieve himself.

“How is this possible?” Xander muttered to himself forgetting about his quest not to wake Spike. “Was I less damaged than I thought? Is their dermaspray that good?”

Xander finished answering nature’s call, gently shook himself and moved over to the sink to wash. His thoughts were racing as he scrubbed his hands.

“Pet, you ok?” Spike asked quietly from behind him. Xander looked up into the mirror to see Spike standing behind him with a worried look on his face.

“Just had to p…” Xander froze mid-answer. Something in Xander’s reflection wasn’t right. Xander focused his gaze. He stared at himself. He looked deeply into his own eyes.

Xander’s blood froze. He shifted his eyes from his own reflection to that of Spike’s.

“What have you done to me?” Xander said with a deadly whisper as both his brown eyes began to fleck with gold.





Part Twenty-Six

“Xan?” Spike whispered softly as he took a step closer to Xander.

“What have you done to me!?” Xander repeated.

“Pe….”

“Don’t!” Xander interrupted as he spun around and closed the distance between he and Spike. “Just answer me!”

“You were hurt, Xander,” Spike sighed and began. “Badly hurt. I couldn’t…”

“Couldn’t what?”

“Let you suffer…maybe die…”

“So what? How did I recover, Spike? Don’t try and sell me that story of some new dermaspray because last time I checked dermasprays don’t grow new eyes!” Xander shouted and clinched his hands into fists.

“Fred’s been working on a new project for awhile. It was to be a kind of ‘last ditch effort’ if the war went badly for us,” Spike explained. “When I found you…when the doctor told me what you were facing…I…”

“What? Thought I’d make a great lab rat? Thought I was the perfect test subject?” Xander snapped as his mind raced.

“NO!” Spike snarled. “I was afraid you were dying!”

“Was it all a setup from the beginning, Spike? Huh? Gavin leading me to the slaughter? Letting Caleb work me over? You ride in on your horse to save the day and ….”

“STOP IT!” Spike shouted as he grabbed Xander by the shoulders and shook him. “Don’t you fuckin’ say something so vile!”

“Vile!” screamed Xander as he shoved Spike and surprisingly sent him sprawling out of the tiny bathroom. “Vile is being tortured! Vile is being maimed! VILE is waking up to find out your lover used you as a guinea pig!”

“I was trying to save your life!” Spike shouted as he picked himself up off the floor in the bedroom. Xander marched out of the bathroom and his eyes were solid gold.

“How Spike! How did you ‘save my life?’” Xander shouted once again as he closed the distance between he and Spike. “What was this experiment...this ‘last ditch effort?’”

“Fred and her mate Knox had found a way to stabilize Biogen nanites outside the body for a short while,” Spike hurriedly explained. “It allowed us to introduce your blood to the nanites. They learned to produce your blood cells and we…”

“’We what, Spike?” Xander said as Spike faltered.

“We injected you with the nanites,” Spike answered reaching out to touch Xander’s face.

The blood drained from Xander’s face and he stumbled backwards away from Spike’s hand. They injected me with nanites! Xander’s mind frantically screamed. They injected me with nanites; nanites that reproduced my blood. Nanites reproduced my eye! Nanites are in me…making me…shaping me…!

“Pet,” Spike whispered softly.

“NOOOO!” Xander screamed and his vision altered as he felt his face shift and slide. Xander spun and saw his reflection in the mirror on the dresser. Once again it was a reflection that didn’t match his reality. The face of a Biogen in full enhanced face stared back at Xander. The face of a Biogen in aggression mode snarled at Xander with features that resembled Xander and had Xander’s voice.

“YOU MADE ME A BIOGEN!” Xander screamed and drove his fist through the mirror. Memories of Council training vids with the focus on the horrors and the evils of Biogens assaulted Xander. I can never go home! Xander’s heart agonized.

“YOU MADE ME THE ENEMY!” Xander screamed again and this time overturned the dresser with a resounding crash as images of Caleb torturing him poured through Xander’s mind.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Since Xander had been brought back aboard The DeSoto the whole crew had been on alert. They all had their various motives; security, science, medicine or just because they had begun to think of Xander’s as one of their own. Yet, Faith had her own motive. Faith knew Xander and she knew Spike. Something kept whispering to her to watch them and take care of them because Xander’s change wouldn’t be easy.

When Faith heard the faint echo of Xander’s voice screaming an angry “NOOOO!” she didn’t waste time. Immediately she bounded off her bunk and headed for Spike’s cabin. Along the way she hailed Wes on the communicator.

“Wes here,” Wes’s voice answered efficiently.

“Get Angel,” Faith ordered. “Tell him to get over here ASAP!”

“Faith?” Wes questioned.

“Just do it! Have him meet me at Spike’s bunk!” Faith shouted as she continued to make her way to her Captain’s quarters.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


“Xander!” Spike cried in worry as he moved forward but stopped as Xander nimbly jumped up on the wreckage of the dresser.

“Am I right, Spike? Am I a Biogen?” Xander growled.

Spike nodded and Xander literally howled.

“Xander, please!” Spike cried reaching out to the enraged newly made Biogen once again.

“Please what, Spike?” Xander shouted as he slapped Spike’s hand away and jumped off the dresser wreckage and towards Spike. “Now you ask for my permission?”

“You were dying!” Spike cried.

“And that gave you the right to…to change me? To turn me into the same thing that tortured and maimed me! TO TAKE AWAY MY HUMANITY!”
 
It was Spike’s turn to pale as the blood drained from his face. He stumbled backwards into the sitting room.

“Is that what you think?” Spike whispered.

“What else am I supposed to think? You made me a fucking Biogen! You stole my humanity!” Xander accused as he stumbled after Spike.

“And that’s what you think I am, eh?” Spike snapped his own eyes beginning to fleck. “After everything between us you still just see me a Biogen? Something less then human?”

“This isn’t about you!” Xander yelled. “This is about what you did to me!”

“I SAVED YOUR LIFE!” rejoined Spike.

“You made me a…a..monster!”

“Like me, eh, Xander?” snarled Spike who was now in game face as well.

“Well if…” Xander began to yell when a series of loud bangs on the door interrupted him.

“XANDER! SPIKE!” Faith cried.

“GO AWAY!” the two enraged Biogens yelled in unison.

“Open the door!” Faith ordered.

“NO!” the two men shouted again and then looked at each other.

“You had no right,” Xander snarled at Spike.

“I wasn’t going to watch you die,” spat Spike.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


“Was that it, Spike? Really? Or was it that you couldn’t just have a human lover after Angel; not to mention a badly damaged human lover? Hmmm? Was that it?” hissed Xander.

“You stupid little prat!” yelled Spike. “Angel has nothing to do with this or us!”

“Doesn’t he? Now that I’m a Biogen isn’t he my godking or something?”

At that moment the door to Spike’s quarters flew open.

“Oh I am something,” yelled Angel as he stepped into the room. “And right now I’m a very edgy something so you’d both better just back down.”

“Get out, peaches,” Spike whirled to look Angel. “This doesn’t concern you.”

“Peaches?” Xander asked snidely. “Such a sweet name for such a sour puss.”

“Boy, you have no idea of the amount of slack I’m cutting you right now,” Angel snarled at Xander before looking at Spike. “Spike, I’m not sure how things got to this point but you need to get control of yourself right now before you and Xander do something you’ll both regret.”

Spike hissed but something of Angel’s words seemed to penetrate the haze of anger and hurt fogging Spike’s mind. Spike took a couple of deep breaths and let his face shift back to its straight human form.

“Xander,” Spike called softly. “As much as it pains me to admit, Angel’s right. We need to calm down.”

“Really!” Xander yelled. “And do you always follow Angel’s orders?”

“Xan…” Spike began again but faltered as he noticed how Xander stiffened and then shot a deadly look at Angel. It was almost as if Spike could see the wheels turning in his boy’s head.

“Is that what happened, Spike?” Xander yelled as he moved close Angel. “Was it his idea to use me as a guinea pig? Was it Angel that wanted me to become a fucking so…”

Angel’s backhand connected with the side of Xander’s mouth before he could finish. The force of the blow sent Xander stumbling backwards and down to the floor. Spike once again morphed into his game face and charged Angel. Angel reached out and grabbed Spike by the throat.

“Enough!” Angel yelled in a thick brogue; his own face in fully enhanced mode. Angel shook Spike before throwing him to the floor. Then Angel whirled around and clipped the now up and charging Xander with another backhand which once again sent the new Biogen sprawling. Angel moved quickly and settled his foot on Xander’s throat while watching Spike stop mid-charge.

“William,” Angel began again in the thick brogue, “I want ye to wait for me in the other room.”

“Angelus,” Spike growled and Angel increased pressure on Xander’s throat.

“Now William!”

Spike slowly nodded and then backed into the bedroom. Spike kept his eyes on Xander for as long as he could but eventually lost sight of him once he was completely in the bedroom.

Once Spike was out of the room Angel removed his foot from Xander’s throat. Xander immediately rolled out from under the older Biogen, sprang to his feet and charged Angel again. Angel quickly moved to the side and slammed his elbow into Xander’s back sending him sprawling once more. Angel bent down and picked Xander up by the shoulders, spun him around and then pressed him painfully up against the bulk-head. Xander struggled and Angel kneed him in the groin. Xander cried in pain and doubled over.

“Ye like pain, boy?” Angel growled into Xander’s ear. “Cause I know I do!”

“Let me go!” Xander wheezed.

“Calm down first!” Angel ordered then turned his head. “Wait right there Faith.”

Xander struggled for breath and turned his head where Angel was looking. A very angry and concerned former Regent hovered right at the door to Spike’s cabin.

“I won’t stand by and watch you beat him into submission,” Faith warned.

“You can always wait down the hall,” Angel smiled. Faith growled and then Angel seemed to shudder slightly. “Faith, it’s ok. I’m just trying to get Xander’s attention.”

“Trust me, Bio-boy, you have it,” snarled Xander.

Angel shook Xander but didn’t otherwise hurt him.

“Listen, whelp, you are in a full out aggression mode. Right now you’ll fight anyone and anything but I don’t think you actually have the stomach to deal with the guilt later if you hurt someone you care about,” Angel said.

“Well that leaves me free to hurt someone I pretty much detest, yeah?” Xander said as he tried a knee trick of his own. Angel anticipated it, countered it and then slammed Xander back into the wall again hard enough to send his head bouncing off it.

“So you're okay torturing Faith with watching me beat you down while Spike listens?” Angel growled.

Xander shook his head trying to clear it of the pain and dizziness. While the world spun and his head continued to throb something of Angel’s words sunk in and Xander managed to focus his gaze on the Biogen leader.

“Xander, you’re hurt and you’re angry. It’s expected. You have questions. I have answers, but you have to concentrate on calming down. Take several deep breaths.”

Xander was hurt and he was angrier then he ever knew he could be but something about Angel’s words and demeanor reached Xander. He found himself beginning to take several deep breaths and eventually he felt his face shift.

“That’s it,” Angel said softly as he saw Xander meld back into his human face. Cautiously Angel released Xander and stepped back away from him.

“Xander?” Faith quietly called.

“I’m ok,” Xander said softly.

“Put this on,” Angel said as he took off the long leather coat he was wearing and handed it to Xander.

Xander blushed as he reached for the coat. Oh boy! Nothing like getting caught fighting with your boyfriend and throwing a royal tempter tantrum while completely in the nude! Xander thought.

“Pet?” Spike anxiously called from the bedroom.

“Spike!” Xander cried in a mix of concern and a surge of lingering resentment. Xander went to move toward the bedroom but Angel grabbed his arm. “Let me go!”

“No,” Angel said firmly.

“Let me…,” Xander started again as he tried to jerk from Angel’s grasp.

“Do you really want to start all over again, Xander?” Angel asked sharply.

Xander’s eyes narrowed. “What do you want?”

“I want you to go with Faith back to my office.”

“What?”

“I know for a fact you have excellent hearing now, Xander,” Angel sighed. “I want you to go back to my office with Faith and wait for me.”

“What about Spike?”

“I’ll take care of Spike,” Angel said.

Xander’s eyes narrowed. “Oh I bet you will.”

Angel sighed again. “It’s a shame you think so little of Spike’s affection. You really don’t deserve him you brat.”

Xander nearly saw red again but there was a slight catch in Angel’s voice that caught Xander’s attention. Was that pain I heard? Xander wondered. And if so, does that mean Spike’s rejected him?

Xander groaned as the sudden instinctual knowledge of lovers and ex-lovers made it crystal clear that whatever bond there was between Angel and Spike; Spike had chosen Xander alone as lover.

“Spike and I need to talk,” Xander said.

“I know,” Angel said. “But not now.”

Xander stared at the bedroom. Xander’s head spun from pain and the mess of questions and emotions ranging from fear, betrayal and love. He wanted to go to Spike but even as he thought of it he could feel that anger building in him. Maybe Angel’s right, Xander inwardly conceded.

“All right,” Xander quietly acquiesced. He looked briefly at the bedroom, turned to Faith and then said quietly, “Lead on gorgeous.”

Faith smiled as she led Xander of the captain’s quarter’s and down the hall. She had the need to get Xander thinking about something other than Spike, “Gorgeous huh? That’s a change.”

Xander paused for a second pondering Faith’s observation. It is a change, Xander realized though puzzled where the change had come from. Xander couldn’t think of a reason other than realizing he just didn’t have any animosity towards Faith anymore.

“Well, I guess when all is said in done, you still are Jess’s girl,” Xander shrugged.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Angel took a deep breath before turning to face Spike. There wasn’t anything easy about this situation and Spike wasn’t going to like Angel’s solution. However, the still vivid memory of Spike and Xander in full aggression mode squared off and yelling hurtful things at each other haunted Angel.

I’ll do what needs to be done, Angel thought. Liar! Whispered Angelus. If you did what needed to be done you’d take both of them in hand and bend them to your will like only you can.

“Shut up,” Angel muttered before taking another deep breath and entering Spike’s room.

A fully dressed Spike looked up as soon as Angel entered Spike’s bedroom.

“Why’d you send him to your office?” Spike asked.

“I think you two need some distance,” Angel answered.

“Wot!?”

“Spike, look what happened today!”

“It was my fault,” Spike said. “I lied to him. I held off telling him the truth. Now that it’s out….”

“Spike, there’s too many emotions. It’s all too volatile. He needs to understand what he is and he needs time to learn to deal with it, not to mention to learn to deal with what happened with Caleb…”

“And that’s exactly why he needs me!”

“So you two can tear each other apart and destroy what you have?”

“That won’t happen!”

Angel looked around the room and cocked an eyebrow at Spike.

“This..this was…”

“Spike, let him take his anger and frustration out on me. If he needs to hurt someone let it be me. Let me help him…”

“The way you helped me?” Spike snarled.

Angel closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “How can I answer that, Spike?”

Spike stared at Angel and then took a deep breath of his own. As Spike let out the breath the fight went out of him and he sat down on the bed. He looked up at Angel. “I love him.”

Angel tried to hide his pain but he was sure Spike saw the small flinch.

“I know.”

“I can’t lose him,” Spike said.

“And you won’t,” Angel promised.

“What about the Council? What about the Regent?” Spike asked.

“Well actually that’s a good question. I want you to go on a mission for me,” Angel said.

“A mission?”

“A short one,” Angel assured Spike. “While I help Xander I want you to go check out the Wash colony.”

“The Wash colony?”

“There’s some intel the Council has some interest in it. I want you to recon it. Let me know what’s happening there,” Angel said.

“When?” asked Spike.

“As soon as Faith gets back to the ship,” Angel answered.

Spike blanched. “What about Xan…?”

“Spike, it’ll just be for a few days. I’ll take care of him.”

“I can’t even say goodbye?” Spike argued.

Angel shook his head.

“That’s bollocks!” Spike yelled.

“It’s the way it’s going to be,” Angel answered steely. “I’m not chancing another throw down between you two. And I wouldn’t think you’d want to chance it either.”

Spike snarled but Angel didn’t so much as blink. Spike recognized the resolve in Angel. He wouldn’t change his mind. If Spike fought him on it, Spike would have to do nothing short of kidnapping to see Xander. Angel had made up his mind and Spike could either go along with it or rebel. If he rebelled, he had no guarantee he’d end up with Xander.

“Will you tell him I said goodbye?” Spike finally asked.

“Of course,” Angel said.

Spike nodded and then stood up. He gestured to the door and said, “After you.”

Angel smiled and moved out. Spike walked Angel to the cargo bay. Once there he turned to Angel again, “You never did say what you were going to do about the Regent Buffy now?”

“I don’t know,” Angel answered honestly.

“You know Xander can’t go back now,” Spike said thinking about what the council would do to Xander if they found out he was Biogen. Not only would they reject him but they’d study him.

“I know,” Angel said. “He’s family.”

Spike couldn’t hide his surprise at Angel’s answer and stared wide-eyed at his mentor.

“Xander’s family, Spike,” Angel said again firmly as he laid a gentle hand on Spike’s shoulder and squeezed briefly before turning and disembarking The DeSoto.





Part Twenty-Seven

Xander and Faith made their way silently back to Angel’s headquarters.  They each were lost in their own oddly similar thoughts. Both were worried about the changes happening to Xander.

“Uhm,” Xander said when they finally reached Angel’s offices. “I need a moment.”

“Xan,” Faith said, “Angel said we were to wait for him in his office.”

“Look,” Xander replied, “Angel’s already caught me doing the birthday suit trauma-drama. I don’t want to do round two while sitting in his office looking like I’m ready for the flasher hall of fame award.”

Faith suppressed a grin as Xander unconsciously pulled Angel’s coat tighter around his naked body. “I see your point.”

“I have some clothes in Spike’s suite,” Xander said.

“You want to go back there?”

“I don’t want to go back there,” answered Xander. “I don’t want to have little mechanical bugs in my blood either. However, I can’t change that, but I can at least change my clothes.”

Faith sighed then nodded. “Ok, let’s go.”

Both refugees from The DeSoto were thankful Harmony wasn’t around. Quickly, Faith and Xander made their way across the lobby and to the elevator. Faith ordered the lift to the second floor and Xander pretended the lurch in his stomach had everything to do with the sudden movement up and not recent memories.

Once again the pair moved without talking. When they reached Spike’s rooms, Faith keyed the door open. The room looked the same as Xander last remembered.

How can it still be the same when everything about me is so different? Xander wondered.

“Xan?” Faith asked. “You ok?”

“Yeah.”

Xander crossed the threshold and Faith followed. Xander wandered over to the packages still scattered about the sitting area. He pulled out a pair of dark pants and a blue shirt.

Shirt’s blue like Spike’s eyes, Xander mused.

“I’m gonna be in the other room,..,” Xander began.

“Check,” Faith briskly answered.

“Wait here?” Xander asked trying to keep the fear from his voice.

Faith nodded. “Right here and no one in.”

Xander nodded and smiled slightly before stepping into the bedroom. He stripped off Angel’s coat and threw it on the bed. Xander went to put on the new clothes and then paused. His nose crinkled as he became aware of his own odor.  Xander still smelled of sex, sweat and the ointment Spike had used to soothe his itch.

Ok,not smelling like old sex and medicine while arguing with Moody McForehead, Xander thought. He dropped the clothes and headed toward the bathroom.

“Xander!” Faith shouted when she heard the shower start. “Angel is not gonna like this!”


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Angel paced in his office. Do I speak in a foreign tongue or a weird accent? He silently muttered. Do I have a poor grasp of vocabulary? I mean, why can I command loyalty but not anything else from my people; like the ability to follow orders?!

“Faith!” Angel growled into his communicator.

“Boss,” Faith answered sweetly.

“Unless Harm’s reassigned my office again without telling me, I’m here and you’re not.”

“Mmmm Hmmm.”

“I thought I told you…,” Angel paused and restarted. “No, make that I thought I ordered you and Xander to wait for me here in my office.”

“Well about that….”

“Faith….”

“What did you want me to do? Drag him out of the shower butt naked? I think I’ve seen enough of Xander’s package for today. It’s nice but…,”

“FAITH!” Angel shouted and then sighed. “Please just bring him down when he’s ready.”

“I’ll just bring him down when he’s done,” Faith answered. “I don’t think he’ll ever be ready. Shouldn't be long."

“Angel out,” Angel said before walking over to his office bar and pouring himself a drink.

Wouldn’t it just be easier to take him in hand like we did with Spike? Angelus whispered. It’s been a long time since we made someone in our own image.

Shut up! Angel inwardly growled and sipped his drink.

Break him, take him, make him, Angelus whispered in a sing-song chant in Angel’s head.

Angel growled aloud and tightened his grip on his glass.  That’s not the choice I’m making today, Angel vowed before downing his drink.

And tomorrow? Angelus whispered.

“One day at a time,” Angel said aloud. Right, Doyle? Angel thought, remembering the saying his old friend had taught him.

A knock interrupted Angel’s inner turmoil. Angel turned toward the door.

The door opened and Faith walked in followed by Xander.

“Have a seat,” Angel said to Xander.

Xander arched an eyebrow but sat. Faith went to perch on the arm rest of the office couch. Angel shook his head.

“You need to get back to The DeSoto, Faith,” Angel ordered.

Faith narrowed her eyes.

“They’re waiting,“ Angel said.

“It’ll be ok, Faith,” Xander said. “I’m sure Angel just wants to go over my manufacturer’s warranty.”

Faith laughed. “Make sure he doesn’t try and sell you the extension plan.”

Xander smiled.

Faith moved over to Xander. Quickly she hugged him. Faith then stood up and winked at Angel before she left. Silence filled the void of Faith’s absence and Angel and Xander avoided each other’s gaze.

“So…,” Angel began.

Xander looked away from the corner by the door and over to Angel.

“How are you feeling?” Angel asked.

Xander raised his eyebrows.

“Small talk,” Xander answered. “Ok, I can do small talk."

Xander paused for a moment. Angel looked expectantly.

“Right,” Xander began again. “Well aside from the nude round of ‘bitch slap my boyfriend,’ the just-add-nanites-and-regrow-an-eye freak, and post psycho torture trauma…I’m peachy.”

Angel shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. “So…well then?”

“Yeah.”

Once again the room was full of silence and random gazes.

“So…,” Xander prompted.

“Right,” Angel said and then sighed. “Look, I don’t even know where to begin.”

“How about telling me when Spike’s going to get here?” Xander offered.

“He’s not,” Angel replied.

“WHAT!” Xander shouted as he stood up.

“I sent him on a mission,” Angel answered calmly.

“You what?”

“You need some time apart…,”

“The hell we do!” Xander spat as he closed the distance between he and Angel.

“You that anxious for another round with him, Xander?” Angel asked, not moving an inch.

“I’m anxious to work out a problem with the man I lo…,” Xander paused then started again. “I’m anxious to work out a problem I have with Spike.”

“Yeah, it looked like it was going so well earlier,” Angel observed.

“Shut up!” snapped Xander.

“How well do you think that talking with Spike is going to go right now when you have all this anger and betrayal bouncing around inside of you with your brand new nanites?

“Butt out!” growled Xander.

“That’s a mature answer.”

“You are not part of this equation,” Xander hissed as he felt the blood surge in his veins and the sound of his pulse pound in his ears.

“I’m the leader of the Biogens. That makes me part of the ‘equation,’” Angel replied.

“I’m not a …,” Xander began to snarl as his fact began to shift.

Angel cocked an eyebrow.

“Spike wouldn’t leave me,” Xander finally said as he willed himself to calm down. I’m not going to let Angel bait me.

“He would if he knew it was the only way to see you again,” Angel said as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“You bastard!” Xander snarled as he felt his face shift and his eyes change.

“All Biogens are,” Angel calmly replied, “except you of course.”

Xander felt his fist connect with Angel’s face before he was even aware he threw a punch. He was gasping for breath on the floor before he was even aware Angel had countered with a punch of his own to Xander’s stomach.

Xander was aware of standing up, grabbing a small end table and then charging. He remembered the satisfying sound of the solid “thump” the table made as he slammed it into Angel’s back. After that, it was all a red haze of anger, fists and pain.

At some point Xander remembered hanging upside down. He was slung over Angel’s shoulder as Angel seemed to be carrying him somewhere.

“We’ll try this again,” Angel had said while he carried Xander. “We’ll keep trying it again, Xander, until we can have this conversation without you beserking. You’ll learn control all on your own or I’ll beat it into you. Either way, you will learn.”




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