Little Runaway 2


Part Seven

"Slow, pet. Got all day, we'll go real...slow..." Spike's hands on his back, rubbing and pressing and stroking, making him feel as limp and boneless as a rag. If he could purr he would, but since he can't he makes no effort to stifle the soft, moaning sounds of pleasure that Spike's hands draw out of him. He can feel Spike's cock, cool and slippery-damp and so, so hard brushing and dipping over his back, his buttocks, the backs of his thighs. Making him squirm, making him shudder. He eases his legs open, wider and wider, wanting that touch there, oh right THERE, and Spike is husking pleased little murmurs of praise and encouragement in his ear - is pushing the tip of his cock gently into the crease there, rubbing and pressing but not actually breaching the muscle and it's all Xander can do not to scream...

"Like this, Xan? Like this, right here?" Spike's fingers, god, INSIDE him, slow, slick glide and teasing twist and pressure and oh GOD, oh god -

"Sss...pike...ohhh..." Xander is head-down on the bed, hair in his face, fingers clutched tight in the sheets. His thighs are over Spike's, his knees slipping on the mattress and Spike is rubbing his back and slowly fucking into him and touching, inside, some little place that makes Xander's whole body fizz and coil and buck. He's already come once like this and he feels as heavy as a sated lion. But this time he wants to feel Spike's weight - wants to feel Spike's chest against his back and Spike's belly tight to his buttocks. Wants to feel Spike's cock, wider than fingers, pushing him to orgasm.

"Please, can you -" Xander whispers, and Spike's fingers twist out and then his cock is pushing in instead, slow and insistent, bigger and softerharder and so DIFFERENT and Spike is pushing Xander's legs up further, is lifting his hips so Xander is on his knees and it feels...feels...

", that's lovely, you're lovely," Spike breathes, arms around Xander's ribs, holding him tight, his mouth at the nape of Xander's neck, his hips moving slow and sweet and easy; cushion of slippery lube and blood-heated, blood-swollen flesh. Xander can feel his body opening to Spike - can feel the muscles pulling him in and GOD, that spot, pressed and rubbed by the broader head of Spike's cock. So different from his fingers, somehow more intense and Xander is aware that he's gasping - whimpering - is aware that somehow he's gotten one of Spike's hands in his, fingers laced and held tight, tight. It feels good, so good; not just the delirious, body-shivering fact of Spike IN him but the weight of him, the crush of him, holding him still, holding him SAFE, holding him close and gentle and...loved. He feels loved. Even if he's not.


Xander turned in the bed, stretching, smiling to himself, and snuggled back into Spike. The feeling was good enough - he wasn't going to question it, he was just going to revel in it for as long as he could. The next time he woke up, Spike was awake as well; smoking a cigarette, one arm casually around him. Xander blinked sleepily at the slow ribbon of blue smoke that rose up and up in the amber air, his cheek warm against Spike's chest.

"Want you to come with me tonight," Spike said, as if continuing a conversation they've been having and Xander looked up at him, frowning.

"Huh? Go where with you?"

"To the house," Spike said, tamping out his smoke. Then he turned and looked down at Xander and his eyes were hooded and unreadable - his face tense.

"You mean - to the - you mean to where you work?" Spike nodded shortly and Xander reached up and scratched at his cheek, feeling stubble rasping a little under his fingers. "Well, okay, but... Why do you want me to come?"

"I just..." Spike sighed, tucking his arm under his head and blinking up at the ceiling, looking less then happy. "I want you to it is. How I work. So you know." Xander thought about that for a minute - thought about his little 'episode' a few days earlier, and the assumption he had made.

"Oh. Oh. You want me to... Okay. Yeah. Spike?"

"Yeah, pet?"

Xander hoisted himself up so he could kiss collarbones and biceps and the smooth line of Spike's pale throat, and Spike closed his eyes and smiled a little, humming under his breath. "I'm sorry I said that. I just - didn't know."

"S'okay. You really didn't -"

"I thought I did. I thought... Well, I shouldn't have thought that. I should have...trusted you."

Spike laughed softly and his arms came up to hug Xander close, fingers ruffling through his hair. "Should you have? Trust me? M'a vampire, pet. Evil, soulless -"

"Yadda, yadda, yadda. I know. So they say - so you say. But you did all this to save Dawn, and you were nice to me, even - at the start. You didn't have to be." Xander leaned his chin on Spike's sternum, going a little cross-eyed as he studied Spike's mouth. "I think - you can be as evil or as good as you want to be and before you just...didn't have any reason to be good." Xander glanced up then, because there was something...but no. Vampires don't cry. SPIKE doesn't. Just...a reflection. "Spike?"

"Best get showered, pet. Don't want to be late my last night." Spike voice was a little wavery but he twisted and got a kiss on Xander's nose - slid out from under him and climbed off the bed. While Spike did that so-familiar full-body stretch, Xander sat up and winced a little, and got slowly to his feet. "Sore, Xan?"

"A little. Not too much, though. Ummm...can I take a shower with you?" Spike laughed - held his hand out and pulled Xander to his feet.

"Counting on it, pet." He started to pull Xander to the bathroom and Xander admired the bunch and flex of his buttocks - the lean line of thigh and back, now unmarred by any marks, courtesy of the blood in the fridge. Xander reached out and ran his hand down Spike's ribs - curled his fingers around the hip-bone that rose there, jut of bone and muscle.

"Do you think we can...uh...?" Spike turned around, walking backwards into the door and shoving it open with a kick of his foot. He was grinning, his tongue caught for a moment between his teeth.

"Counting on that too, pet," he purred, and Xander grinned.


The name of the club was 'El SÚptimo Sello' - The Seventh Seal - and the biblical connotations gave Xander the creeps. It was a huge old building, done in a very 'colonial Spanish' style, and lit up like a Las Vegas strip-joint. Spike strode in through the front door like a rock star, and Xander felt conspicuous and grubby and much, much too young. Spike had loaned him a dark red silk shirt and put a little liner under his eyes - told him he looked good enough to eat and then, half a block from the club had kissed him for five heart-pounding minutes up against a wall. Full-body grind and those fucking hands and Xander could feel every inch of his skin tingling. He was painfully hard and as they walked through rooms that were decorated in plush fabrics and leather and throbbing with music, a number of the vampires turned and stared - shifted to their demon aspects and sniffed after him. Spike just took his hand, snarling, and led him upstairs to what was obviously a 'behind the scenes' area. A small room with racks of clothes and a table full of makeup and other things.

"You were 'bout to get pounced, love, the way you look. The way you...mmmm....smell..." Spike nuzzled into the crook of Xander's neck and Xander felt his knees wobble. Fear, from their walk through the club but mostly desire. Spike had turned something on in him. Or that's what it felt like. Because just the look in those heavy-lidded eyes - just a touch - a purring word in that fucking voice that was like honey and opium... And Xander was lost - gone - so lust-drunk it was like being thirteen all over again and jacking off three times a day - going through school a walking hard-on and here he was right back there. Spike's fingers on the small of his back, Spike's tongue just touching his skin, butterfly-kiss, so, so good.

"Oh...god..." Xander slid his hands around Spike's waist, pulling him close and Spike's hands came up to sink into his hair and hold him - tilt his head and kiss him and Xander just leaned there, hardly able to breathe and so turned on he couldn't think.

"You taste so good," Spike murmured, and then he was pulling away - backing away and shrugging out of his coat. "You can sit down, if you like," he said, nodding, and Xander turned and saw the couch along the opposite wall. He walked stiff-legged to it and sat down gingerly on the edge, watching Spike. The vampire hung his coat up and then stripped, making Xander's heart pound. With a sly look over his shoulder, Spike bent over and began to slowly work on a pair of thin leather pants. By the time they were halfway up his thighs Xander thought he might faint.

"Jesus, Spike - what the fuck?"

"Just keeping you entertained, pet," Spike grinned, and Xander collapsed backwards with a groan.

"I'm so 'entertained' I'm about to...embarrass myself."

"That so?" Spike shimmied the pants the rest of the way up and then slipped on a blood-red shirt that was as thin as cobwebs. He rolled the sleeves up to his elbows and left the front of it open and turned around, sauntering to the table. The pants were open, and he was hard, and Xander watched the sway of his cock, framed by black leather, and felt his fingers sink into the couch cushion.

Oh my...god. Fuck, he looks...

Five minutes later Spike turned to face him and Xander couldn't help it, he moaned. But Jesus. Spike had put black eyeliner on - heavy and dark, like a Goth kid. And maybe lipstick, because his lips looked so blood-red - darker than usual. Ladders of silver bracelets up his wrists, rings on every finger. Even a necklace - heavy silver choker of chains and dangling stones that looked like diamonds but were probably just glass. And he looked...unearthly. Not human - better than human. The liner and the shirt made the pallor of his skin even more pronounced and as Xander watched Spike casually ran a little sponge over his chest and throat, leaving behind a faint shimmer of silver.

"Fuck..." Xander whispered, and Spike rose out of the chair with a twist of his body - prowled across the room and Xander couldn't help but stare at him - stare at his bone-white chest between the wings of the shirt, and at this cock, flushed and damp at the tip, jutting up hard and thick from the open pants.

"This is what they want, pet. Whore. Toy. This is what they get. You want some, too?" Spike's voice was a purr; his eyes were huge and so very blue; brimming with some emotion that Xander couldn't interpret. Spike dropped gracefully to his knees, his hands on Xander's thighs, kneading lightly. Stroking towards his groin and Xander wanted to grab Spike's head and drag it down into his lap. But...can't...oh, god...

"Spike...I just..." Xander gasped, hips twitching upward, as Spike ran his fingertips over the bulge of flesh under Xander's zipper. "D-don't, okay? This....I'm...not p-paying, I'm..." Spike froze, his face going utterly blank and Xander felt like his heart had stopped. Pain in his chest, and he wanted to scream. "I just want you in bed this afternoon, okay? Okay? Please? Don't be mad..." Almost a whisper and Spike just looked at him. And then he smiled - god, smiled like he'd only done once or twice before and leaned forward and kissed Xander. Sweet, slow kiss - a kiss that said he wasn't mad, and that said he wasn't going to be. Xander gave in to it eagerly - easily - because with his eyes closed it was their house, and not this fucked up club full of fucked up people who liked to hurt other people. Who liked to see blood and pain and - Spike's blood, Spike's pain...oh FUCK. Xander pulled back, finding his hands all unexpectedly in the hair that Spike had left soft and tousled and free of product.

"Can't we just go home? I mean...can't you done?" Spike's hands tightened on Xander's thighs for one moment and then he smiled again, and leaned back in and kissed Xander lightly on his cheek.

"No, pet. Last night. Got some kind Something. Big chunk of money and it'll pay off everything." Spike rubbed his hands up and down Xander's thighs, slowly, and Xander let his fingers slip through the silken hair again and again. "Just one more time, and then I'm done, and then we're out of this place, yeah?"

"Yeah..." Xander sighed and pulled Spike close again for one more kiss, then watched as he rose and smoothly did up the fly of the pants. They rode low on his hips - low enough to show the merest swell of the tip of his still-erect cock at the waist and Xander had to catch his breath and look away, because Spike was so... Fucking sexy. God. No wonder. But this is it, no more after this and then...back to Sunnydale and... What the hell am I gonna DO there?

"Listen, Xan - after tonight, before we leave... They're gonna do it. Turn this fucking chip off." Spike was staring at him, nervously fiddling with one of the rings and Xander pushed himself to his feet and walked over to him. Used one finger to tidy Spike's liner, flashing back to Willow and Buffy and 'Bronzing' - feeling that hurt in his chest again.

"You were smudged," he explained. He wound his arms around Spike's waist and leaned into him. "I'm... I've gotten used to the idea, you know? It's okay. Do I - I mean, is there anything I'm gonna have to do?"

"Nah. I'll be....a little out of it, I guess. Oliverios - he's the owner - he's gonna have a car for us to get home in." Small grimace at that, because there was no love lost between Spike and the owner of the club. "Just don't invite him in, yeah? Don't invite anybody in."

"Sure." Xander raised a small smile and Spike smiled back - ran a hand back through his hair.

"I'm going up now. There's a place for you to wait - got a TV and stuff... I'll be a while. Okay?"

"Sure. Okay." Xander didn't feel okay, but he wanted this night over, and he followed a barefoot Spike out and down a corridor - up in a small elevator to a quieter, even more opulent floor. Spike ushered him into a small living room type of room with curtains all along one wall and a huge, flat-screen TV in one corner, a full bar in another. Squashy couches and chairs were scattered around, and the room looked comfortable and cozy. It creeped Xander out.

"Okay?" Spike asked, hovering in the doorway and Xander nodded reluctantly.

"Yeah, okay." Spike grinned and then he was gone, and Xander sighed. He went over to the bar and got a soda and then sprawled down on a couch. There was a remote on the small coffee table and he clicked the TV on. Die Hard was playing, dubbed in Spanish and Xander amused himself for a while by seeing how much of the mostly-forgotten - and forgettable - dialogue he could glean from the rapidly spoken words. He was actually surprised at his own fluency, and when the movie was over he waited with something like anticipation for the next thing to come on.

"Enjoying yourself, cachorro?" Xander jumped, twisting around on the couch to see a tall, elegantly dressed man coming into the room.

Cachorro? Cachorro...puppy? Fuck him. "I'm - fine, thanks." Xander stood up slowly, uneasy. The man was pale, with very black hair and a sleek mustache. His dove-grey suit looked expensive and fitted him perfectly, and he had a heavy gold and diamond ring on his right thumb. His eyes were eerie - a sort of pale green - and Xander found himself taking a step back before he stopped himself, clenching hit teeth. I'm here with Spike. They KNOW. Nobody's gonna mess with me. The thought didn't make his heart stop pounding, though.

"Spike has been...very closed-mouth about you. I can see why." The man spoke with a pronounced Spanish accent, and his weird eyes slid over Xander like oil, assessing and greedy. "I'm Oliverios, the owner of El SÚptimo Sello. And you are...?"

"Just a friend. You know," Xander said, and then stopped himself. No damn babble. Not now! If he knew anything about Spike, he knew he didn't like his private stuff talked about with strangers - or people he didn't like. And Spike really didn't like Oliverios. And Xander really didn't like being in the same room as a vampire older than Angelus.

"Oh, friend? I know what you are, cachorro. It's all over you. You're here the show?"

Xander glanced, puzzled, at the TV and Oliverios laughed. "No, cachorro, not the TV. The show. The Spike show."

"What?" Xander said, but he felt a horrible twist of fear go through him, making his stomach drop - making him blanch. Oliverios laughed again, low and soft and fucking creepy and Xander flinched away when he came around the couch and brushed past. Too damn close! God - wanna get out of here. Spike show - what the FUCK?

Oliverios went over to one of the heavily draped windows and twitched the curtains back, revealing a window. Xander stared for a moment, because what he was seeing really wasn't making any sense. There were eight or ten people in the room beyond, dressed in bits of black, for the most part - leather and silk, he guessed, and what looked like vinyl - very shiny. Expensive, kinky-looking clothes that showed off as much as they covered. A white room,, spattered over it. And a body hanging by its wrists, tattered red silk around the shoulders, tattered black at the ankles. Male body, striped with red - with purple-blue bruises... Spike.

"Oh god -" Xander's hands went up, unconscious motion, and met cold glass and he stared, swallowing and swallowing, trying not to be sick. Not to be sick in front of Oliverios, that fucking bastard, who just stood there, small and nasty smile on his face.

"Oh, perhaps you did not want to see this show," the vampire purred, and Xander closed his eyes, breathing, breathing. Opened them again. One of the black-clad figures - a woman - reached out with a metal and leather gloved hand and did - something - and Spike's head came up sharply, his mouth open in shock and pain. Demon-faced, agonized and screaming, but there was no sound. Oliverios seemed to read his mind. "Shall I turn on the speakers, cachorro?" he asked. Xander saw his finger going toward a sleek, silver panel set flush into the wall and he knew - knew - he'd lose it if he could hear Spike. Knew he'd do something...really stupid.

"No!" he gasped out, and Oliverios chuckled silkily. And Xander felt rage rise up in him - hot and pounding and sharp as a razor. He turned slowly and took two steps - stopped about a foot from the vampire and stared at him. "You know Angelus? He came to our town. Tried to fuck us over. Know what happened to him?" Oliverios was staring at him, eyes narrowed, very, very still. Frozen, even. "We sent him to hell. Now get the fuck away from me." Xander wanted to hit him - make him bleed - but knew he'd gone as far as he could. The vampire hissed at him, morphing to game face and then back. And then without a word he twitched away and stalked out of the room, back ramrod straight, quivering with fury.

Fuck, Spike, I'm sorry but... Oh god, god... Xander turned and caught sight of Spike again and his hands reached for the curtain - hesitated, and fell back. Can't pretend this isn't happening. Can't pretend it's not HIM. This is what he did...for us. For months. For fucking MONEY. Because of us, because of the Initiative, this is what he did... Shaking, feeling so sick he wanted to lay down, Xander stood there and watched. Watch this. REMEMBER this. Don't ever, ever forget. Ever.

Part Eight

Spike eased his duster onto his shoulders slowly, slowly. Everything hurt, god, fuckin' hurt, and he just wanted to get on with it. Meet the Yn'n, and get the mojo, and the chip would be off. And he would be free. And those motherfuckers are gonna pay. And pay big. He ran his hands back through his hair, wincing, and then jerked around as someone knocked on the door. "Yeah?"

"Oh, Spike -" It was Fancy, one of Oliverios human servants. The intricate gold-wire necklace and bracelets didn't come off, and she was dressed in almost nothing. And looking spooked. Spike felt a little shiver of unease go over him.

"You were supposed to be showin' the boy around - getting him a drink and stuff, Fancy." Maybe I should have told him first - could be he just sent her away... Spike took in the clinging, translucent sheathe-dress and impossibly tall heels the woman wore. Maybe he got embarrassed.

"I know! I'm sorry. Oliverios - told me not to. He - wanted to talk to - to him." Spike growled and the blonde woman flinched, her gaze darting to the floor, her whole body hunching. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry."

"Oh - not your fault, pet. Know you have your orders." Spike fished out his flask and had a long drink. "Where is he?"

"He's - where you left him. Oliverios... I'm sorry," Fancy whispered, and then turned and fled and Spike closed his eyes and took a deep breath - tilted his chin up and set his shoulders. Doesn't matter. I told him what I do, nothing Oliverios could shock him with, that bastard. Just need to get this done and go...home. Spike strode out of the dressing room and went up, tapping his fingers nervously on the elevator buttons. Upstairs again, going to the lounge - and he could smell Xander. Could smell sweat and fear and....misery and he growled again. Bastard - if he hurt him - He slammed the door open, searching, and Xander was there, just there, standing motionless. And beyond him - Fucking BASTARD, bloody HELL, oh fuck, fuck, fuck - Beyond him the room, and a handful of servants cleaning up - swabbing blood off the slick tile walls. Spike walked fast, grabbing Xander's shoulder and turning him, jerking the curtain shut violently.

"Xan -" He was totally unprepared for the boy my boy, damnit, MINE, shouldn't have seen - should never have seen - to lunge at him and grab him - arms going around him in a hug that made him wince.

"Spike - god, Spike, I'm sorry....I didn't know, I'm sorry -"

"Xander? Stop that, now. Sorry for what? Pet?" Spike couldn't get him to let go without hurting himself and the boy so he just hugged back, stroking the thick hair, rubbing a slow hand up and down Xander's back.

"What it m-meant, what you - what you were doing -" Xander shivered, crowding closer and Spike shut his eyes. God, I'm so tired...

"Pet - stop that. That was... You shouldn't have seen that, that was - something different, that -"

"Don't lie, Spike!" Flash of dark, wet eyes - flash of anger and betrayal. "I've seen the cuts and the bruises and - and everything. Don't try to tell me - god! " Xander abruptly wrenched himself away, scrubbing his hands back through his hair and yanking the curtain back hard enough to tear it off the first two rings.

"Xan -" Spike followed him, reaching out helplessly to touch and Xander flinched away.

"Don't. I should never - should never have listened. Shouldn't have let you -"

"Wrong! Wrong, boy." Spike shoved Xander back hard, wincing with him as his back and the back of his head connected with the window. "You don't let me do anything, you understand? You don't have any say in what I do or how I do it and if I choose to keep you in bloody food and clothes by fucking then I will. You're a bloody child -" Xander's sharp, hurt inhalation made him stop, finally, and he stood for moment, just staring at him. At the shocked, white face and clenched fists and dark, wounded eyes that sparkled with fiercely held-back tears.

"Damnit, Xander, I - I'm sorry. Didn't mean to say that."

"No, it's okay." Xander jerked his head aside, staring at nothing, blinking. "I mean, you're like - a hundred and fifty years old, I guess I am just a - a kid -"

"No, love, no, no, no." Spike reached out slowly and touched Xander's shoulder. When he didn't pull away Spike slowly moved his fingers up, rubbing gently at Xander's neck - sliding his fingers around to the back of his head and finding the spot that made him twitch a little from soreness. "Listen to me Xander. Xander?" Spike put his fingers on Xander's chin, carefully turning his head so that Xander was looking right at him. Biting his lip, and meeting Spike's gaze in shaky defiance. "I'm just...angry. Not at you, love. Angry that - that Oliverios showed you - that. I didn't... I never meant for you to see that."

"Because I'm just a child. Because I'm too stupid and too - too immature -"

"Shhhh...." Spike pulled Xander close, relieved when the boy relaxed into his arms instead of fighting. "No, that's not why. That's not why at all. It's because..." Because I never, ever wanted you to see me like that... See me - defeated. Because I was. Have been, for the longest time. But not after tonight. Not after the magic. Then - then I'll show you, love. Show you who I am when I'm not...afraid.

"I know why," Xander said softly, and he pulled away a little, looking at Spike with a sober, almost stern look. "You didn't want me to see for the same reasons I wore long-sleeved shirts to school even on the hot days. I didn't want anybody to know...I had bruises."

Spike looked at Xander - thought about the yelling, and the little flinches, and the hunched stillness whenever he had to go upstairs.

"Yeah, pet. That's exactly why. I'm the Big Bad, yeah?" Xander smiled faintly at him and Spike leaned forward until they were forehead to forehead, his arms around Xander and Xander's arms under the duster, hands locked in the small of Spike's back. "I'm still... I'm so sorry, love, that you had to see. Can you just..." Forget it? Erase it and never think about it. Never again.

"I won't - tell. It's a secret, Spike. Won't tell anybody. But I'm not going to forget." Xander tipped his head enough to brush his lips over Spike's mouth, little nothing kiss that made Spike shudder. "I'm never going to forget because nobody... Nobody ever did anything, anything at all..." Xander stopped and then just kissed him, his chin trembling and Spike kissed him back, sliding his hands up to gently hold his face - stroke his thumbs over Xander's jaw. Xander tasted of sweet and salt - tasted of something that was very much like love, but Spike pushed that away.

Don't push. Don't - expect. Just take what's given satisfied, he told himself. Told the demon and told his poet's heart. But he was pretty sure neither one listened.


The Yn'n were waiting in a room in the lower level of the club and Oliverios' household kept warily away. It was another lounge, only this one a bit shabbier - meant for employees and not clients. The demons looked like bundles of animate sticks with burning, sulpher-yellow eyes and Spike felt a shiver of unease, seeing them. He'd made his deal - paid them what and how they wanted. But the mojo freaked him out, and Yn'n were so very strange - so alien, even among demons. Oliverios was nowhere to be seen; having made his grand gesture, he'd backed out of any further interaction. Spike was grateful - ripping the head off of the owner's shoulders wouldn't go over well, and that was pretty much what he wanted to do to Oliverios right that minute. Fancy was there, though.

"Is there a car, Fancy?" he asked, watching with amusement as Xander looked everywhere but the mostly-naked woman standing not three feet from him.

"Yes, there's a car - right outside. The Yn'n say - it will hurt."

"Good things always do," Spike said, giving her a small smile, and Fancy smiled back, then nodded over at the Yn'n, who shifted and then approached slowly, creaking softly. Spike half-turned to Xander. "Xan - Fancy'll show you the car when we're done here. I guess I'll be a bit - confused."

"Okay," Xander said quietly, but he bit his lip, looking nervous. "Will it - take long?"

"Dunno," Spike shrugged, then turned to face the Yn'n while Fancy drew Xander a few steps away. Five of them, and they surrounded him - reached out hard, twig-grey fingers to touch him - touch his head. Spike felt something like a static-shock at each place where their finger-tips touched. Shock that buzzed and built and tingled all over him. Heat was building up under their fingers as well and Spike shut his eyes and gritted his teeth, riding it out as best he could. But it strengthened - more and more - until he could feel his whole body shuddering. And then the chip fired, and it didn't stop.


When Spike began screaming Xander tried to rush to him but Fancy - surprisingly strong - held him back.

"What they're doing would kill you! Wait - just wait!" she whispered urgently, pushing him back and back until he hit the stucco-covered wall. Spike's body was a rigid arch and abruptly the scream choked off - ran out on a ragged thread. Spike collapsed and the stick-demons clicked to each other for a moment and then stalked away, jerky stop-animation movements that creeped Xander out. He and Fancy both scrambled to get to Spike. Xander knelt down and pulled Spike over onto his back - pulled him up onto his lap, straining with the dead weight.

"Spike? You - in there? Hey - Spike!" Xander stroked Spike's face, hugging him close. The vampire didn't move and Xander glared up at Fancy. And I'm crying again. Why am I always fucking CRYING? Jesus. "What do we do? Did they say this would happen?"

Fancy was white, her green eyes huge and scared-looking. She nodded hastily. "They said it would - burn out. They said it would hurt. He's going to be all right! You need to take him home." Fancy crossed the room quickly, avoiding the clutch of stick-demons that clicked and swayed to one side. She opened the door and called out, low and rapid Spanish and then hurried back to Xander. She knelt down opposite him, her eyes darting all around the room.

"Listen!" she hissed. "Spike wanted me to set up something. I did. You tell him one week - like he asked. Hear me?"

"What did -?"

"No! He'll tell you. One week. Understand?" She looked like she might be sick at any moment and Xander pulled Spike a little closer, wondering what in hell was making her...

Scared. She's scared out of her mind. What the FUCK is going on? "Yeah - okay, I'll tell him." Xander's hands nervously clutched at the slick leather over Spike's chest - smoothed back his hair, again and again. God - Spike - you didn't tell me it was gonna be like THIS... He looked up, startled and wary, when two men - both big, dark, and silent - moved into the room. Fancy said something to them in Spanish and Xander was too upset to bother translating.

"They're going to get Spike to the car and drive you home. In about - an hour someone will come with blood." Fancy looked ready to snap and Xander watched helplessly as the two men bent down and hauled Spike up - carried him effortlessly out the door. He scrambled to his feet and followed, shooting Fancy one last, mistrustful glance.

"Right. Blood. Thanks," he added, and then he was around the corner and hurrying after the men, biting his lip to keep himself from yelling at them to be careful. A bulky sort of sedan waited in the alley and the men got Spike into the back seat and then silently climbed into the front as Xander scrambled in, pulling Spike close to him. The car growled to life and nosed out of the alley into traffic - there was always traffic - and began a slow drive home. A trickle of blood was coming down from Spike's nose and Xander wiped at it with the sleeve of his shirt. Spike hadn't bothered taking off the liner and Xander wiped at that as well, where tears had tracked it and smudged it.

"Spike? I'm here. It's Xander, and I'm here, I've got you." He kissed Spike's forehead and rested his cheek there, murmuring softly. Hoping Spike could hear him - hoping he was comforted. "Going home, we're going bastard, you should have told me... Almost there, almost there... God, I don't - don't know what I'd do if... " Xander hugged Spike tighter, rocking him. Not saying that out loud, even if Spike was unconscious. You have to be better. Have to wake UP. Hate this... God, this shouldn't hurt so much but it DOES, it really does... I don't know...what you feel for me, Spike but... I think - I think you. Think I love you...

When they got home, Xander stripped off the clothes that reeked of the club - got a bowl of hot water and a washcloth and Spike's favorite clove soap and gently, carefully, washed him. Did it in his own bed, because Xander knew he'd get the sheets wet. Then he carefully got Spike over his shoulder and into the vampire's own bed, and did a quick wash-up and change into soft cotton pants. Then he slipped into the bed next to Spike and wrapped himself as close as possible around the still, cool form. Warming him, and holding him, and just being there, because he hated the thought of Spike waking up alone even for a minute. He could hear anyone at the door, and the phone was right there, and he wasn't going anywhere at all.

Yeah, I do. Love you, Spike, even though you don't love me. Won't make you say so - won't push you to that. But I do, and I'm not scared of it anymore. He kissed Spike's mouth, and his cheek and the tip of his nose - wished Spike would wake up, like Sleeping Beauty. And settled in to wait.

Part Nine

Spike walked down the sidewalk, smoking - strutting. He felt good. Felt better than good - felt very much his old self. For the last week he'd fed - at will. No club, no...give. Just take. Like it's supposed to be. Like it WAS. Vampire again. He practically bounced as he walked, smirking to himself - reined himself back to a casual saunter as the neon and flashing lights of El SÚptimo Sello came into view. Fancy met him at the door, looking odd in a pair of plain black slacks and a dark blue silk shirt. More clothes than he'd ever seen her in.

"Hallo, love," he said, tossing his cigarette away, and she smiled at him - quick, nervous grimace.

"Spike - hurry, please," she whispered, and Spike stepped inside.

"Oliverios is gone, yeah?" he asked, following her upstairs, and she nodded - nearly tripped on the seam of the elevator door. Nerves and fear around her like a cloud, rank and intoxicating.

"He's gone. D-dinner with the Mayor." Spike snorted, shaking his head. Oliverios liked to play up to the humans of the city - liked to pretend to be a fine and upstanding citizen. It was a game Spike had never had the patience or the desire to join.

"Well then, plenty of time. Everything's set and... You still want me to -?" Fancy looked at him - looked down at her wrists, her fingers plucking unconsciously at the bracelets around them.

"I do. I - still do," she said softly, and Spike nodded. The elevator stopped and they stepped out - went to the room that was oh, so familiar. Spike slung his duster off and handed it to Fancy and she hugged it to her.

"Ready?" she whispered, and Spike grinned.

"Love, I'm more than ready." Fancy nodded and opened the door, and Spike stalked in. The group of humans - nine of them - who had been lounging in various postures of boredom around the room slowly stood up. One man - the oldest man, a tall, silver-haired European - stepped to the fore.

"Spike! So pleased to see you. When Fancy told us you'd be here again, we were...very excited. But - you're not dressed properly." The man looked Spike up and down, taking in his worn black jeans, boots, tight t-shirt. No jewelry, no makeup. "You'll have to be punished for that," he said, his voice like silk and syrup. Spike grinned at him - took out a cigarette and lit it with a snap.

"You think so, Christian?" Fancy shut the door, near-silent snick of the lock and Spike changed - let the demon survey the prey that stood and stared at him so stupidly. "Let me tell you a story, Christian." He didn't come back out of the room for three hours. Fancy was waiting when he did.


Xander was waiting as well - at home, curled into a blanket on the couch, staring blindly at the TV and some Bollywood film. When Spike slipped inside, he started up and then sat there, staring - hands clenched into fists.

"You okay?" he asked softly, and Spike leaned back against the door, his head spinning just a little despite the long, meandering route that he'd taken to get home.

"Oh, pet. I'm - fine, I' very fine..." Xander unwound himself from the blanket and came closer; cut off old jeans and a worn t-shirt, his body palely golden in the dim, blue light of the television. He stopped a couple feet away, his eyes darting over Spike's body. Spike knew he couldn't really see anything - not with the duster, and the black clothes.

"Spike?" Xander came a little closer and reached out to him, and just as his fingers touched Spike's cheek, there was a pounding on the door. Xander jumped, giving a little yelp, and Spike growled. He knew exactly who was on the other side of that door.

"Don't say a word, love, all right?" he whispered, and Xander nodded, stepping back. Spike grinned then - turned and stared at the door, lifting his chin. Then he reached and opened it. Oliverios was there, glowering, as well as three other vamps - his personal guard.

"Spike, you bastard," he hissed, and took a step forward - hit the barrier with a look of fury.

"Place is in somebody else's name, Oliverios." He patted himself down for his cigarettes - made a show of slowly choosing and lighting while Oliverios stared coldly at him. "What is it you want exactly, mate?" he asked finally, and Oliverios snarled silently, the demon finally coming to the fore. One for me, you bastard, he thought. He could sense Xander behind him, still and silent. It'll be all right, pet. He'll be gone soon.

"You - used my club tonight to - to extract some sort of petty revenge -"

"You deliberately chose some of the sickest fucks in the city, Oliverios. And you told them things." Spike cocked his head a little, studying the older vampire. "You overstepped yourself and you know it. They - dishonored my line." That was a laugh - his 'line' consisted of a madwoman, himself, and Angel, and whatever get any of them had made that had managed to survive. Very, very few, if the truth be told. Aurelius was tight-knit, and those turned for convenience or pleasure rarely lasted more than a year. "I did what honor dictated I do," Spike added, almost choking on the laughter that wanted to bubble up. He shrugged - took a long draw on his smoke and watched Oliverios try to control his anger.

"You cost me nine of my wealthiest clients. You brought the sanctity and the integrity of El SÚptimo into question with all my clients - with the entire demon community! The safety - the confidentiality of my club has been breached!"

"I made close to 12 million pesos for you, Oliverios. You're more than compensated. You're bloody lucky all I did was take nine humans apart in one of your special rooms! I'd thought to take out everybody that'd ever seen me in there." And he had, too, but a blood-bath of that proportion would have made it impossible for Oliverios to back down, and Spike didn't feel like starting a war, just now. Not with Xander so easily in the cross-hairs. Spike smoked down another half-inch of his cigarette and flicked the butt into the chest of one of Oliverios' guards, making the guard jump back, swatting at his shirt-front. "Besides - I'm leaving. You can smooth your client list down and throw a party and everything will be back to normal by the end of the week. You know these little....dust-ups never last."

"Dust. Ups." Oliverios growled and Spike changed, as well - growled back, oblivious to the sharp intake of breath behind him from Xander.

Not the time to draw attention, pet, Spike thought, but then let it go in favor of staring Oliverios down. "You knew it was going to happen, Oliverios. You knew I wouldn't let them walk away. What is it you're really here for?" Spike knew this bluster about the clients - about Christian and his little covey of sycophants - was merely cover. They were humans, and in the grand scale of things - particularly to a vamp like Oliverios - weighed out to almost nothing. Oliverios glared at him, his eyes molten-gold in the dimness of the landing.

"You killed Fancy," he hissed, and Xander did make a noise this time - soft sound of dismay. Spike shrugged, took off his duster and tossed it down onto a nearby chair.

"I did. She asked me to. That was part of our deal. She got me the room - got me Christian. I got her free." Oliverios snarled and smashed one fist into the barrier - straightened away, suddenly, and smoothed his suit-coat. Shook the demon away, and reached into a breast pocket for a slim silver case. He pulled out a narrow, black cigar and lit it, slowly.

"You owe me, Spike."

Spike shrugged again. "Yeah, so - it was worth it. I'm leaving, Oliverios. Whatever I do for you fits my plans. We're quits, after this." Oliverios smoked slowly - nodded his head.

"Yes. We are. And you don't come back here, Spike. Ever."

Oh - couldn't see THAT comin' a mile away. "Sure, mate. Whatever you say. Send one of your boys over with the details. We're out of here end of the week, so don't take too long." Oliverios drew on his cigar again - examined it briefly.

"Tomorrow at sunset. And Spike - better get a collar and leash for your little cachorro, there. He might stray." Oliverios grinned and Spike shook his own demon away - raised two fingers in salute and shut the door between them.


Now that he'd taken the duster off, Spike knew Xander could see the state of his clothes, and he just stood for a long moment looking at the door - listening to Oliverios and his body-guards make their way downstairs - into a car that purred away into the twilight of the coming dawn. Spike looked down at himself, studying the blood that ringed each cuticle and was ground into the skin of his knuckles. Take a long soak to get that out, he thought, and then Xander's fingers were on his shoulder - a ghostly touch, there and gone.

"Spike? You're not - hurt, are you? You didn't -"

Didn't let them touch me, pet. No worries there. Just one of me, nine of them...but humans are so fragile, and those chains - those straps - kept a vampire helpless. "Didn't do anything but what I swore I would, pet. Took them out. Drank them down." It was more a relief than anything. It had felt good, doing it - felt good to see them writhe and scream and twist in helpless agony. Their blood had gone down like honey - like opium and applejack and he still felt drunk - felt clean, finally. Felt whole. Washed in the blood. But he was tired now, too. Just - tired. He turned finally, and looked at the boy - took in his wide, dark eyes and the tight set of his lips - the tension that made his whole body shiver. Do you care, Xander? Or is this all for those humans that died? Are you on the edge of anger for them? Or tears? Or is it for me?

"There's blood on your clothes," Xander said finally. Softly. Keeping his voice low, but Spike could hear the cracks in it.

Spike nodded, brushing one hand lightly down the stiff front of his t-shirt, where blood had dried in shiny, crackling patches. "Sorry, love. I'll burn these. They won't come clean." Xander nodded absently at that, the knowledge of blood and how tenacious it was in his eyes. Child of Hell, this one - don't have to tell him things he already knows.

"Why did you kill Fancy?" Xander asked, and Spike blinked in surprise at him.

"She asked me to, pet. She wanted free."

Xander tipped his head a little to one side, eyes going narrow. "Free of what? She wasn't a vampire."

"No, love, she wasn't. She was his - possession. She'd been there since she was a child. He snatched her up in the States, years ago. Brought her up to be his own little bed-warmer, didn't he? Since she was nine." Xander winced at that, but Spike wasn't going to make things pretty for him - he didn't need that sort of protection. Not anymore. "She was near thirty - getting old, for him. He was going to turn her. She didn't want that. That jewelry of hers - kept her from going." Magic - the unspoken word that Xander heard loud and clear. He nodded slowly, and finally - finally - one hand unlocked from its clench by his thighs and reached out. Touched his cheek, and his lip.

"I'm glad you're back," was all he said. Then he turned and went back to the couch and settled again, blanket over his naked legs, eyes blindly on the kaleidoscope of color and sound on the TV. Spike watched him for a moment and then he walked stiffly out of the room, feeling every one of his one hundred and fifty years in his flesh and bones. He stripped and pushed the ruined clothing into the trash - went into the bathroom and got in the shower and stayed there, for as long as he could. Until the water was going cold, and his fingers were salt-white again. When he came out, finally, the sun was well above the horizon and the whole house was shuttered, gold-green or garnet haze in every room. He went slowly into his bedroom, exhaustion like lead in his marrow - like chains, weighing him down. And stopped, staring. There was a long, low hump in his bed, and as he watched it moved - turned. Xander raised a bed-tousled head, looking blearily at him. Amber-rose light through the blinds, anise-sweet scent in the air. Sweet smile on Xander's face.

"Come to bed, Spike," Xander said softly, holding out his hand, and Spike did.


On Friday, they left Veracruz in the late morning, Xander carefully guiding the DeSoto through the crowded streets, Spike curled asleep in the back. Two bags in the trunk, a sheaf of cash in a lock-box under the front seat. Miles and roads ahead of them. Xander couldn't help but smile, as he steered them north. Leaving, and with Spike. Something - beginning. He knew it was going to be amazing.

The End

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