The Long Spiral Downwards


by
T J Goldstein



But I love you? Part 1

     19 December 2000

     They were officially snowed in and had been for 4 days so far. Xander and Spike were both bored beyond belief. The tv was on almost constantly as was the wood heater. Even though the main room was warm, the temperature in the two bedrooms and bathroom was noticeably colder. It had been a mutual decision to swap the couch for the two mattresses, the couch now being in the first bedroom. They were out of milk, bread and vegetables and starting to run low on the instant noodles. The only one who had a good selection of food was Twatcat.

     The two males had just sunk to a new low. They were playing Snap while sitting on the bed. Xander couldn't even bring himself to pretend to enjoy the game anymore. He was feeling tired and grumpy almost constantly now, in direct contrast to the boundless energy displayed by the bleached vampire. Cards dealt for another round, the brunette sighed and gathered up his stack as the blond leered at him. Xander knew with just one more minute in the vampires company, he could finally be labled crazier than Drusilla. It was taking all his effort right now not to punch the other male.

     A month ago, he had broken some of the blond's bones in an attack that had left the vampire cowering from him for days. The brunette had gone so far as to break a promise to the blond as well. In a fit of pure rage, Xander had virtually raped the other male in the very position that he had promised never to try. The rage had been a combination of things. Anger that the blond had tried to run from him again, disgust at learning what Baxter stood for, embarrassment that he was considered naive by his work mates and determination never to be made the butt of other peoples jokes again.

     He had blindly thrust into the pale body with absolute no regard to preparing the male and had rammed as hard as he could with each thrust. The brunette had set a punishing pace and hadn't taken any notice of the whimpering beneath him. It was only when he had pulled out and noticed the blood on his penis, that it had hit him that this time an apology wasn't going to make it all better. He had stared open mouthed at the abused ribs, they had taken only moments to bloom into huge black and purple swirls, matching the numerous other bruises dotted around the pale body.

     Xander had sat back on his heels, jeans still around his thighs. The vampire's hand taken up, he winced as he tried to pull the horribly bent finger straight. He had kicked at the hand while Spike was trying to protect his already damaged ribs. The blond had just looked up at him with big blue eyes, full of tears. With a washcloth, he had cleaned the cum and blood from the torn anus all the while trying to ignore the vampires cringing. He just hadn't known what to say, sorry being so inappropriate for what he had done.

     The brunette knew that he had a vile temper but it had gone beyond a simple slapping and into Riley territory.

     Once he had bandaged the vampire up, he had helped the other man into bed, slowly walking across the cabin floor due to the heavily bruised thighs. It had taken almost three days for the blond to stop cringing from him whenever he approached. Xander had been surprised that Spike hadn't suffered from any nightmares during that time, the blond had refrained from touching him in bed and the brunette had felt too guilty to push it.

     Xander had been ready to almost cry in relief when he had woken up on the third morning with the blond's head nestled firmly on his chest, the rest of the cool body, clinging like normal to his own larger frame. They had taken it slow that morning and again in the night, Spike iniating for it to go harder the following days. It had been a fight between himself and Stan over a mouldy patch of wall that had made him lash out at the blond again, a week ago. He had come home cranky and annoyed that the dark haired man was blaming him for the wall not being dried properly before being smoothed over. Spike had playfully slapped at his hand when he had grabbed a carrot stick from his plate before the dinner was fully ready.

     In less than a second, the brunette had found himself standing over a vampire that was cowering on the floor. Fist raised, he had given the blond a few more solid punches to the back and had stomped off to bed, telling the vampire never to slap at him again and demanding a blow job. It had been expertly delivered as usual, the tension had just flowed out of his body. With arms wrapped around the other male, he had apologised for the beating.

     Snapping back to reality as the blond won the game again, he pulled smaller male towards him. He was soft but it wouldn't be long before he was cuming down the cool throat. A blow job was just what he needed to relieve the boredom, he might even give the vampire a hand job later on that afternoon.


~*~*~*~*~


     25 December 2000

     RING

     RING

     RING

     RING

     "Aaahhh!" yelled Xander. Half stumbling, half rolling out of bed, he made his way towards the phone. Receiver snatched up, he bellowed an annoyed hello at the person on the other end of the line. The brunette winced as squeals of 'Merry Christmas' came from Willow. With a hand run through his thick hair, he waited until the red head gathered a breath before attempting to answer her questions.

     Watching the brunette talk on the phone, Spike wished that Xander had been able to finish the hand job before answering the phone. He was lying on his back in the middle of the bed, legs spread, arms crossed above his head. The blond didn't dare move from the instructed position, it would only make the youth more cranky than usual. Ever since the snow had started and the days had gotten shorter, Xander had been in an almost constant state of annoyance. The vampire was the complete opposite, energetic and when he wasn't getting a slapping, happy.

     The vampire wasn't happy at being on his back but he had decided that it just wasn't worth the effort anymore. After Xander had laid into him in the kitchen and then 'raped' him, he knew that he could no longer trust the younger man not to do it again. He loved the brunette but he was saddened by the fact that he didn't trust him. It had taken a few day's thinking about why he loved the youth, only to find out that he really didn't know. He was grateful for being taken in, was full of pride when he saw Xander defend him and whenever the brunette smiled at him, he was full of soft glowy feelings that came straight from the bottom of his stomach.

     He was also embarrassed to be classed as disabled, horrified that he deffered to a human and humiliated to be used as a punching bag by someone other than his Sire or Claimant. It seemed that the more he was beaten, the further he was falling into love with the youth. He was a Master Vampire in his own right and by any laws and traditions, the only one who had any right to lay into him was his Sire or Claimant. Until the former soldiers claim wore off and Xander did the claim properly, he was really just getting laid into by a human. A human that he was in love with.

     ~ I love him. My own fault that he smacks me around anyway, if I thought instead of doing first, then he wouldn't need to do it. ~

     With a big grin at the youth coming back towards him, Spike thrust his hips up in anticipation. He desperate for his hard on to be dealt with. Still lying in the required position, he closed his eyes as a large warm hand wrapped around his cock.

     ~ God, this is just great. Keep going Pet. ~

     Small grunting sounds filled the main room of the cabin as Xander thumbed the tip of the white penis, sliding his fist up and down the solid length. He still was hesitant about giving hand jobs but the youth was definitely turned on by the way the vampire reacted every time he received one. Smiling down at the squirming male beneath him, he took in the lush dark lashes that fluttered onto the smooth white skin. With his one hand pumping the panting vampire, he reached a hand up to one of the finely chiselled cheekbones, gently running a finger along the length.

     Spike snapped his eyes open as he felt the hot digit run along his face. He smiled up at the youth, who was getting flushed and breathing heavily himself. The vampire wished that he could tell the boy to go harder, he wanted more pressure on his cock and a faster wank.

     ~ Beggars can't be choosers. Damn lucky that I get this from him...Aaahhhh! Good, better, great ~

     A harder grip on his cock had any thoughts leave his mind, letting him concentrate on the pure pleasure of cuming over himself and Xander. He eagerly licked the thick residue off the boys fingers, careful not to slice a digit with one of his fangs. Almost finished, he was surprised to see Xander suck the rest of his cum from his index finger. With a quiet snicker, he smirked at the expression of slight distaste on the brunettes face.

     ~ Bit different from just kissing with it to actually taking a gob full, vamp cum is tasty compared to your crap. Be glad you don't have to swallow that ~

     Fingers shoved quickly back into his mouth, he proceeded to give the large digits a few swirls of his tongue to clean them. Sniffing, he could smell how aroused the boy was and wondered how it would go this time.

     "I want you to sit on me, facing me."

     Spike nodded as he moved over so the brunette could lie down on the bed. With a swift movement, he threw a pale leg over the youths hips and settled himself on the toned abdomen. He could feel the erect cock nudging his backside and reaching behind him, he gave the thick organ a few strokes with a cool hand. The vampire bent down towards the other mans face, showering the flushed skin with small chaste kisses.

     Thrusting his hips upwards, Xander grabbed the back of the blonds head and drew him close into a hot wet kiss that had both males groaning. Their tongues danced and wove their way into each others mouth, the brunette claiming dominance over the vampire. Slowly, Xander allowed the cool tongue to slip from his hot mouth. Delicately he traced a trail of heated touchings along each perfect cheekbone with his tongue, laughing as it made the bleached blond squirm on top of him. With a fumbled motion, he grabbed the lube from beside the bed and placed the tube into the cool hand reaching out for it and waited impatiently for the vampire to prepare himself.

     ~ Almost empty again, gonna have to start buying this stuff in bulk. Randy little sod ~

     "Spike, if you don't hurry, I'm going to cum anyway!"

     A nod and the blond sped up his preparation, swirling two fingers inside of himself in an effort to spread the cool gel throughly. Shifting backwards, he got a firm grip on the massive thickness, running a wet finger around the hot head. Smirk firmly in place, he leant forward for a moment before rising slightly. Once he felt the heat just outside his puckered entrance, he slowly started to push down onto the thick rod.

     "Jesus! Go slow, go slow. Sooooo good."

     Xander moaned as he felt the coolness envelope his cock. He never lasted long with the blond in this position. Another swear bounced off the walls as the vampire sat fully on the brunette, the full length firmly inside. The youth raised his knees to give the blond some support for his back. A firm grasp on the slender hips and he indicated for the other man to start moving.

     ~ Hate this fucking position, not as bad as the other one though ~

     Gently, Spike slid himself up and down the hard shaft.

     The blond knew that it would only take a few minutes until the younger man came hard up into him, it was about the only good thing he could find about this particular position. With a gasp, he opened his eyes and looked down to see a large hand playing with his hardened nipples. The brunette was getting more adventurous with exploring the pale body, something that the vampire was really enjoying. He let out his own grunt/swear as the circling fingers were taken away only to be replaced with wet ones. Spike could feel himself getting hard again as his slow bouncing motions ensured that his prostrate was hit each time.

     One hand gripping tightly to the slender hip, Xander traced his wet fingers around the pale nipples. He was delighted to find that they became hardened nubs with only a few touches. The brunette was finding that he wanted to touch more and more of the cool body that belonged to him. At first, it had been only about sex but he was genuinely attracted to the male vampire now. He found himself kissing and licking more of the cool skin as the weeks passed by. Xander wondered if getting rimmed was as good as he had read about. The whole idea was still a bit icky but after gathering up enough courage to get another gay porno, he had read a subscribers letter that extolled the virtues of getting a tongue around the back entrance.

     This time, he hadn't hidden the magazine and both males had lay in bed one morning and had jerked off together in between breakfast and coffees while going through the articles. He had told the vampire of his interest in rimming and had been relieved when he had gotten a huge smirk and a few sentences that told the brunette that it was as good as it sounded. Xander was still not sure that he wanted to receive it but one day he was going to get the vampire to do it.

     "Almost....keeeep going! Yes Ahhhhh, god yes!"

     Screamed the brunette as his cum gushed up into the blond. Leaving the hardened nipples, he grabbed the hard cock that was leaking onto his tight stomach. With firm swift strokes, he jerked the vampires pale length. Thumbing at the weeping head every few strokes, he told the blond to place his hands on his head, well away from his cock.

     ~ Damn! Good grip, harder.....harder, faster. Please?~

     Spike was panting for all he was worth. His own hands were tightly wound through his ungelled hair as the tugging was getting faster. Tongue run over his fangs, he sliced the pale skin. He swallowed the tiny trickle of blood as he squirmed on top of the brunette, still with the flaccid cock buried deep inside of him. Giving his tongue another deeper slice, he gave a booming grunt as he cam hard over Xanders muscled chest.

     Told that he could remove his hands, Spike dove down and kissed the brunette deeply. The two men leisurely ran their hands through each others hair. With a few thrusts of his hips, Xander told the blond to get off him. The vampire reached behind him, rising slightly as they both moaned when the spent cock slipped from the tight confines. Xander lay his legs back down on the bed, spreading them slightly.

     The happy vampire spread himself along the exhausted boy, letting his legs slip in between the longer ones. Chest to chest, they continued to kiss and nibble at each other until in one swift movement, Xander rolled them over. Spike was now underneath the brunette, his knees nudged apart until he was in the very position he hated the most. Tensing, he lay rigid as the youth continued to lick and nibble his way along the vampires collarbone.

     Xander felt the blond stiffen as he lay the other man in the traditional missionary position. The brunette still harboured guilty feelings over the attack but he couldn't deny that he had liked the feel of the position. He wanted to try it again but without scaring the blond, he just wasn't too sure how to go about it. Hopefully with enough incentive, the vampire would eventually give up resisting it.

     "I want to do it this way again. I know I promised you never to do it but I will go gently next time, ok?"

     Looking up into the serious chocolate eyes, Spike felt himself nod as his heart broke a little more. He didn't really have a choice anyway. Even though the thought was repulsive, there wasn't much he could do about it. He couldn't fight the other man off and he was too afraid of ruining the brunettes good mood by indicating his unhappiness with the idea. Ever since the phone call from Willow over an hour ago, the youth had been noticeably happier and that was definitely a good thing. If he closed his eyes when the time came, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

     ~ Yeah, sure whatever. I don't fucking trust you not to hurt me. Sodding well addicted to you though. ~

     " I'm sorry but I can't keep my promise, not when it feels so good like that"

     Another nod and the blond was kissed deeply for being so good. A discarded t-shirt was plucked from the floor, allowing the brunette to wipe at both of their sticky chests. Standing up, Xander told the vampire to shower first as he made a few calls to Giles, Buffy and Cordelia before showering himself. They had been invited to Mac's house for the day and were due to leave in just over an hour. A slap to his buttocks while passing the brunette and the blond made his way to the mildly warm bathroom.

     Hearing Xander connect with the ex-watcher and making sure that he wasn't looking towards the bathroom, Spike allowed the first tears to pour down his face. He just couldn't believe that the brunette would be so heartless as to deliberately ignore a promise he had made to the vampire. Ordinarily the blond would be able to cry properly in peace while in the shower but after running from the younger man over a month ago, the brunette had out done himself by removing not the lock on the door but the whole door itself. The door in question was now residing in the spare bedroom along with the vampire's correspondence course on woodwork.

     With the cold weather, they hadn't been able to get any timber until the wood mill opened again in early February. The leaflets and instructions were neatly stacked to one side, the bathroom door leaning beside them.

     The only privacy he got these days, was to turn his back to the open doorway and hope that the brunette didn't catch him crying into the stream of warm water that flowed over his body. He was thankful that Xander seemed to be in a better frame of mind than he had woken up in but if the past was anything to go with, that would probably change without warning. The vampire was just going to have to play it carefully and try to ensure that the good mood lasted as long as possible. Once again, his hopes for being able to resume trusting the younger man had been dashed.

     Letting the tears flow, he quietly sobbed into the warmth as he rinsed off the chamomile shower gel that they both favoured. He jumped in fright, almost slipping as a warm body moulded itself to his back.

     "You're upset with me aren't you?"

     He hesitated before nodding, his head rubbing against the toned shoulder of his protector. Spike waited for the slapping to begin. Instead, gentle hands ran themselves over his tense back, kneading at the knotted muscles. He let himself relax into the comforting motions, listening to Xander say that he was sorry for all his beatings, apologise for the attack in the kitchen. The blond stood underneath the water and just took it all, not believing a word of any of it. If it made Xander happy to apologise and kept him in a good mood, then the vampire was happy to accept it.

     "You do believe me don't you? I like you, I like you a lot. It's not love but it's more than just.... I don't know. I can't explain it"

     Spike felt his dead heart lurch. Was there a possibility for the brunette to ever love him? Beatings be damned, if it was possible for Xander to fall in love with him in the future then he would put up with it all. Once Xander did fall in love with him, the brunette would probably stop the slapping anyway. He wouldn't hurt what he loved, would he?

     Turning around in the embrace that had enveloped him during the brunettes words, the vampire hugged the youth tightly, head buried in the crook of the neck. He was crying but now it was in happiness, so far it was the closest declaration of love he had ever received and he was going to grab at it with all he had. Xander ran his hands down the pale back, trying to soothe the sobbing male in his arms. It was true, it wasn't love but it was way past plain like. His feelings were lust, possessiveness, pride that he owned such a beautiful male intermingled with his need to show dominance and discipline. He was fearful that the Scooby gang would find out about their relationship but after coming out to his work mates and basically the whole of Pennington, it wasn't such a big deal as it once had been. Giles had been understanding and that had been a big help in letting him deal with his feelings towards another male.

     Xander let go of the grinning blond so that he could lather himself up only to start laughing when the gel was snatched out of his hands. He stood with arms spread wide, letting the vampire rub his small hands all over his well muscled body. The brunette groaned as a soapy hand gently teased his twitching penis. After a minute of soft stroking, he had to tell the blond to stop as they were going to be late to Macs as it was. He swooped down into a hard brutal kiss at the pout displayed on the other mans face. Xander pulled the vampire hard against him, grinding his cock into the cooler one a few times before gently shoving the man out of the shower.

     The brunette rinsed the last of the foam off him, turning the water off. Towel grabbed, he ran from the bathroom while trying not to slip, towards the wood heater. Jostling for room with the vampire, the two men made sure that they dried themselves off thoroughly. The brunette hoped that he had done the right thing by telling the blond about his feelings and judging by the smile that was yet to disappear, he had. With one hand, he grabbed at the slender male, pulling him towards him for a deep kiss. Towels flung over the two bar stools so that they could dry, the men started to dress from the pile of clothing that surrounded the bed.

     "It's cold out there, a flanny will probably be the best way to go"

     ~ Great, hillbilly Christmas here we come! Bet we get roast Spam and tinned cranberry jam. ~

     The youth knew how much the vampire hated the flanlette shirts they had both resorted to wearing in an effort to keep warm. He loved to tease the blond about if he just grew a goatee, the slender man would truly belong to the white trash society. Telling the pouting blond to wait on the bed, he strode across towards the spare bedroom and opened one of the duffel bags stored in one corner. Brightly wrapped packages were taken from the dark green bag and carried back into the warm main room.

     Spike stared at the gaudily wrapped that the youth dumped onto the bed. He knew that Xander had gotten him one present but he wasn't expecting the rest. The vampire had only gotten the brunette a few small things while shopping in the Mall two days before. They had battled their way through the crowds. The place had been full of desperate people trying to shop for last minute presents before getting snowed in again.

     "These are from Joyce and Giles. A couple from Willow and Tara as well. Buffy sent the card with the money order a couple of weeks ago, you know we bought the cd player with it."

     A few wrapped presents were shoved at a startled vampire. He hesitated before ripping the paper off a bright green one. Giles had sent him a cd that featured the best of British punk rock.

     ~ All right! Crusty's not too bad with the present giving, wonder what I got from Joyce? ~

     The vampire picked up a solid heavy package that was undoubtedly a few books, ripping off the paper, he let a huge grin cross his face. One book on woodwork that featured how to carve words and pictures into wood as well as how to make chairs and tables. The other had detailed boxes and gift items. The Slayers mother had included a note hoping that he would find these to his liking. Spike made a mental note to write back as soon as possible thanking her. He was surprised to find that he actually cared that Joyce liked him and thought it was a pity about her daughter.

     Concentrating on his own unwrapping, Xander discovered a cd from Giles and Anya. The best of the 90's rock, Willow and Tara had sent him a selection of photos that featured the Scooby gang and instructions to get some good photo frames with the money included. He was touched that they had gone to the effort to include a photo of Xanders old work mates. Barney had sent him a few tins of Nescafe for Christmas as well as a box of Freddo Frogs in various flavours a few weeks ago.

     As much as he was starting to settle in Pennington, he still missed everybody from Sunnydale. Cordelia had paid for a whole year's subscription to an internet cafe that had just been set up in Pennington's Mall. He would probably have to call Willow for her address before attempting anything.

     A glance at the quiet man beside him and he saw that the vampire was pretty well off as well, something that he was pleased with. He unwrapped his own present from Joyce, a book on touring Alaska. How he was going to be able to that with a vampire in tow was beyond him but it was the thought that counted. He was shaken out of his ponderings by a gasp from the vampire.

     With a gasp, Spike looked down at the voucher in his hand. It was from Willow and Tara, a voucher that entitled him to attend a sign language course at Fairbanks major college once winter was over. Looking over at Xander, he waved it in front of the grinning brunette who explained that he had already organised the time off from work so that they could both attend. It was a four day intensive course that went from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday each semester. Xander happily told the vampire that they were booked into the first one in Spring. He had already called the college and informed them of Spike's phobia and they were willing to organise a windowless room for the class.

     The vampire flew across the bed, enveloping the laughing brunette in a cool hug. They spend a few minutes kissing before getting back to the rest of the presents. Xander opened his from Spike, the ripping of gaudy paper revealed an assortment of white chocolate. He moaned in delight as he saw the brands unwrapped. Lindor, Nestle, Guilyan and Red Tulip. None of these were cheap and he hoped that the other man hadn't spent too much of his pay on him. His other present was a bottle of chocolate flavoured massage lotion and strawberry lube.

     "Very nice, maybe we should try this out now?"

     Xander leaned over, licking a hot trail from the pale collar bone to the delicate ear lobe. Sucking on the cool flesh for a moment, he pressed a soft package into the vampires hands before leaning back to allow the other male to unwrap his present. Spike tore at the gold and silver paper. Wrinkling his nose, he held up a flanlette shirt in solid red. With a look to Xander, he gestured at it in puzzlement.

     Laughing, the brunette told him that he had to get it dyed especially as they didn't come in solid colours. Two more packages were thrust at him, both revealing more solid coloured flanlette shirts, one in a deep blue and the other a plain black. Spike was happy with that. He liked the warm feel of them but he hated the look of the hideous shirts and only wore them out of sheer necessatie. They were about the only shirt that kept the cold out. He was feeling all glowy and warm that Xander had gone out of his way to get them dyed for him. Ripping off his red and white chequered shirt, he pulled on the red one, doing up the buttons with a huge grin on his face.

     As he finished, he found one more small present pressed into his hands by a serious brunette. Slowly he unwrapped the small item. Underneath all the layers of paper was a jewellery box. Once opened, it revealed a silver chain. It was shorter than normal. Spike sat down beside the quiet male and gently kissed him on the cheek, holding it out so that Xander could put it on for him. The vampire was stunned, he knew that the chain wasn't cheap. He had been eyeing it off for a while now but hadn't been able to afford to even put it on layby. Every cent he had was to go towards his blood for the Summer. It was one of the new types of jewellery for men that was just starting to come into Alaska. The chain was the silver type that was seen mostly on heavy metal bands and surfers, it was not as chunky as most but still thick enough to be considered tough and grungy. It was pretty plain with no pendant but Spike was overjoyed that the brunette had taken notice of his wanting it.

     The clasp firmly done up, the vampire turned so that Xander could see him. Smirking at the brunettes approval, he wished he could have a mirror just for once.

     "Still the trendiest vamp in Alaska. Quick, blood for you and then we go. We're late as it is"

     Xander dressed as the vampire heated up his breakfast. They were late already for Mac's lunch but he figured they wouldn't be the last to show up. Both Spit and Fitzy were going to be the last arrive, they were almost always an hour or so late to everything. The only exception was the yearly woman auction. Lucas and Josesse were going to be there as well as Stephanie and the two Chinese demons and partners.

     He put on his thick check jacket, thankful for the fleece lining. Fridge opened, he quickly fed Twatcat as the vampire finished his drink. Jacket grabbed, Spike shrugged on the coat noting that the red on both the jacket and shirt matched. He was almost beside himself with happiness. It had almost been a shit day but everything was just perfect now.


~*~*~*~*~


     26 December 2000.

     4.32 am

     The vampire gently stroked the exhausted boy's hair as the brunette snored. Xander had finally succumbed to the lure of deep sleep. It had been a really good day for them both, Spike had actually enjoyed the lunch at Macs, as had the youth. They hadn't been the last to arrive, Spit and Fitzy staying true to their nature and arriving almost 40 minutes late for the lunch. Mac hadn't worried about delaying the meal and waiting for them to turn up, he had just set aside two heaped plates covered with foil and kept them in the oven until they had arrived. From the lack of apologies, the vampire had figured that they did it each year.

     It had been a quick round of greetings and discussion about what everyone had received that morning first up. Xander had blushed furiously when the blond had wrote Stephanie about the lube and massage oil, quietly grunting along to the laughing and whoops of 'You go boy!' that had erupted around the table. A quick look at the brunette before joining in the laughter and he had been reassured by the non appearance of anger, encouraging him to start grunting. The only uncomfortable moment had been when the vampire had noticed Lukas watching him intently during the little exchange.

     Lukas had been distracted by Mac thumping a huge roast turkey onto the table in front of him, closely followed by large pots holding buttered potatoes, roast pumpkin, mixed peas and beans as well as cauliflower in cheese sauce. Everyone on the table began to dribble at the same time, the smell had been almost divine. Nothing else was said about the two mens bed habits as each person shovelled down what they could from the generous spread. Spit and Fitzy had turned up just as the last dishes were being cleared away to make room for dessert. The two men had plonked themselves down next to the chinese demons wives and in between eating and swigging on their beer, had regaled the table about the results from the latest dog sled race they had participated in.

     Spit was a slender brunette, about five inches taller than Spike himself while his brother, Fitzy, was more like the usual Alaskan male. Tall, dark headed, built like a wall and with a grizzly Adams beard. Both men were professional racers, handling one of the largest dog pens outside of Fairbanks. While waiting for dessert, Helen and Ling Mai had the best way's to guide a dog over thin ice explained to them. Xander had rolled his eyes at the vampire who had almost been in hysterics himself. Truly a Deliverance dinner he had thought. A few loud swears from the kitchen admist breaking glass, had everyone retire to the living room as Mac told them dessert just wasn't an option for the moment.

     The two brothers, restraunt owners, Josessi, Spike and Xander had sat and watched some sledding videos of various dog races while playing cards. The women had claimed the couch and along with Lukas, they had discussed how Stephanie's pregnancy had been progressing. The vampire had been tempted to join in on the conversation, the videos had been that boring. It was when the tapes had been replaced with a few more ice hockey videos that he had pepped up and had sat with his eyes glued on the tv screen, almost whining at the thought of being able to inflict violence again. He had ignored everything until a large hand had tapped his shoulder, Xander indicating for him to return to the table.

     Spike had taken a seat next to the youth, grinning madly as his upper thigh had been squeezed, crotch delicately brushed against. A glance at the male sitting next to him and he had seen that the beer had loosened some of the brunettes concerns about touching in public. Not really the whole "lets fuck to an audience" thing but a huge step for a tipsy youth. Xander usually only drank extra light beer, having a few of the full strength ones was catching up to him really quickly. A swig of his own beer and he had almost leapt out of his chair in an effort to get at the plum pudding. After pouring a huge amount of brandy custard on the dessert, he had been in 7th heaven as he had slowly eaten the pudding. The one human food he loved the most and it was plum pudding. Freshly made, half baked, tinned or old fashioned recipe, he didn't care.

     He had had two massive servings of the favoured dessert, waggling his eyebrows at a slightly swaying brunette. After dessert had been done, the women had started the dishes, shooing Mac out of the way in the process. Told to sit, the red head had brushed aside everyones thanks for a great dinner and had started to teach the vampire a new card game, Canasta. It hadn't been really easy until the blond had just read the rules and instructions rather than listen to Mac's ramblings. Once he had gotten the hang of it, he had really enjoyed the game. The vampire had made sure to thrust the box cover at the laughing brunette on the couch, Spike wanted a set of the cards.

     Later in the afternoon, Spit and Fitzy had drunkenly acted out Mary and Joseph's trip to the stable. Tears had run down the blond's face as the bearded Fitzy had gone into labour all the while keeping a tight clutch of his beer. Helen and the rotund Ling Mai had gotten in the spirit, pretending to be the two Always Right Wives, and had gifted the newly born pillow with the ability to grow a decent beard, a life time supply of flannel and the wisdom of how to open a Spam can. He had glanced over at the brunette youth, only to see that Xander was also weak with laughter. More beer all round and the festivities had continued. Mac had invited the brothers, Xander and Spike to come with him when he next went to Chena Hot Springs resort.

     Intrigued by the opportunity to see some sights outside of Pennington and Fairbanks, Xander had agreed for them both, Spike just nodding along. He wouldn't mind the opportunity to get around as well. Stephanie had been the first to leave after a quick flurry of gift giving, everyone had exchanged small token gifts. Chutney, jams, jars of peanuts and other various items had been handed around. Josessi had also taken the opportunity to leave stating it was now time to call his family back in Nadi, Fiji. After seeing them off, Mac had broken out the heavier alcohol, pouring scotch for everyone. That had been the cue for the Chinese demons to be dragged out by their wives. More waving and that had left Mac, Fitzy, Spit, Lukas, Xander and Spike. The conversation had drifted onto ice fishing and where the best site was at the moment.

     Spike had grown bored again quite quickly, he hated fish in all forms, the only ones he had any respect for were the great white shark and pihrana. He really hadn't cared how to cut a decent hole into the thick ice along the banks of the Tanana River. The whelp had looked just as disinterested and had asked Mac more about the hot springs during a lapse in conversation. The talk had turned to how hot they were, the whole conversation had been clean until Spit had piped up with just how many girls he had done in the hot tubs. From there, the conversation had turned into a dirty comparison of who had done what and where.

     The vampire had just sat back and watched as the brunettes face had gotten redder and redder as more crude language and descriptions had flowed on around him. Time had flown by as the topics had ranged from sex to hunting deer and to the upcoming wedding of Cyril to Amanda. A glance at the clock during that topic and Spike had been shocked to see that Christmas day was technically over. Lunch had been around 2pm, dessert had been later, almost 5.30.

     With a gaze at the brunette almost asleep on the couch, he made the decision to go. He had gathered Xander up, shaking him to wake him up. It had been a case of too much beer and a hot house. Lukas had promised to call around the next day, Mac had also told them that he would make a booking for the hot springs. A quick goodbye to everyone and with Xander placed comfortably in the passenger seat, Spike had roared off down the road. He had been forced to go slow after almost skidding off the road due to the clumps of ice scattered across it. Once home, he had prodded the boy awake again and guided the half drunk, tired youth into the cold cabin.

     After dumping him on the bed, he had raced around to the woodpile and started the wood heater going again. The vampire had been asked if anyone had called for him. A glance at the answering machine and he had shaken his head at the brunette. It had been then that Xander had started to sob, startling the blond. With his arms around the weeping boy, Spike had listened as his claimant spouted off at how he should have know his parents would never call. Apparantly the boy had eventually sent off a few letters with his address and phone number, a Christmas card as well.

     Sighing, Spike looked down at the slumbering male. He was disappointed for the youth, he knew that even though Xander tried not to be upset about his parents, he still held out hope that maybe one day they would give him a phone call or even a letter. Unfortunately tonight he had just gotten his dreams crushed again. Xander had confessed his dislike of his parents and uncle numerous times but deep down inside, he was still a little boy seeking a kind word or even a hug from them. From what he had gathered from snippetts of conversation and from actually hearing the fights overhead when living in the basement, he knew that such things had been rarely given. Not all of his bruises had been caused by patrolling, something that the brunette had taken great lengths to hide from the others.

     The vampire had held onto the drunk boy until he had cried himself to sleep. The display had frightened the blond, he was meant to be the weepy one, not the brunette. He only hoped that things would be better for the youths birthday but he doubted it. It was going to be up to the demon to make it special for Xander. How? He had no idea at the moment but he would think of something.


~*~*~*~*~


     ~ Oh my God! How humiliating. ~

     Spike sat and stared at the brochures Lukas had left for him. The other demon had stayed true to his word and had come over for coffee that morning while Xander was out getting another load of firewood with Spit. Lukas hadn't minded dragging out the couch from the front bedroom so they could sit down. The vampire and Kava demon had talked about the various going ons in the local demon world, the black man telling Spike that the Veronkif's were due back any day now. Aparantly their yearly ritual of challenging each other to snog a polar bear was almost finished. The vampire had been in hysterics when the taller man had described that usually only half of the pack came back each trip, the bears maiming and eating the clumsier ones. With the weaker males culled out, it inevitably lead to major fucking and pregnancies all round for them.

     Lukas had laughed when he told Spike that the Veronkif's were hermaphrodites and that without fail, each one produced an offspring each year even though they referred to themselves as males. The blond had been flabbergasted at the thought, thanking god that he couldn't get pregnant, although there was probably a spell or two out there that would be able to knock him up. He had told Lukas that he would give his testicles to see his Sire pregnant, prompting a fresh round of laughter. The other man had heard stories of Angelus from Rhonda and said that he wouldn't mind seeing that as well, although losing a testicle would be a bit too much for him.

     More coffee and tinned plum pudding later, Lukas had turned serious and had pulled a few bits of paper from out of his trouser pockets, thrusting them at a curious vampire. Spike had sat there, horrified by what was being suggested. For a few minutes, he had done nothing until he had finally fanged out and had written for the other demon to leave. Lukas had complied, telling him that he was there to help if Spike needed any. With a shake of his head, the blond had slammed the front door, leaving Lukas to walk to the car himself.

     ~ No fucking way am I a 'battered woman'! ~

     ~ Just who the fuck does he think he is? What gives him the right to stuff around and make assumptions about my life and the whelp´s? ~

     Pacing up and down the main living room, he swooped down to pick up Twatcat, pressing her against his cool chest. The purring kitten soothed his emotions, allowing the tears that threatened to fall, to stop pricking at his eyes. He just couldn't believe that someone he considered almost a friend would try to interfere in something he had no idea about. None of those brochures applied to him. He wasn't a woman. He wasn't even human. Only humans got into stupid relationships like that, not vampires, not him.

     With the cat snuggled firmly against him, Spike strode into the kitchen and pulled a beer from the fridge. Cap firmly placed between his teeth, he gave the bottle a twist before spitting the cap into the sink. He smiled as he rembered the first time that the brunette had seen him do that. Xander had been worried that he was going to chip a tooth and had started harping on about how they're weren't any vampire dentists in Sunnydale. Actually there had been but she had been drained after a vampire had been unhappy with his new braces. Willy's had been almost shaking with the amount of laughter that had gone on after the demon population had found out about a vampire trying to get his teeth straightened.

     He leaned against the cold sink, Twatcat now draped across his shoulders, her warmth soothing the tension that had built up in his neck. Shaking his head Spike wondered if he could convince the whelp to start buying blood from somewhere else.

     ~ My own fault the brat hits me anyway, don't think enough before I do something stupid. Bloody claimed me, he had every right to or least he will when it gets done proper. ~

     Taking a swig of the cold beer the vampire smiled to himself as he thought of the day he would be free from the soldiers´ claim. That would be soon, only a few years away now. Nothing to an almost immortal being. The cat chirped at him as he gently tugged at the flapping tail that was tickling his neck. A glance around the small kitchen, Spike frowned as his gaze fell upon the brightly coloured brochures again. Better get rid of them before Harris got home.

     Twat placed on the floor, the vampire immediatly missed the furry warmth of the small creature. He walked over to the couch, picking up the embarassing forms. In one swift movement, he opened the grate on the heater and threw the offending articles inside. Spike stood and watched as the paper smoked along its curling edges before bursting into flames, closing the grate when all evidence was gone.

     ~ Not going to hit me for much longer anyway. He's going to love me soon, just have to make sure he will. ~

     ~ No one hits what he loves. ~

     Sitting on the couch, Spike bent to haul up the climbing kitten only to gasp when a familiar flash went off behind his eyes. Not even a millisecond later, he was lying sprawled on the floor between the bed and the couch, out cold.


~*~*~*~*~


     FLASH

     The blond collapsed onto the floor again, not quite out of it this time. His head was groggy, stars were floating in front of his vision. Whining, Spike desperatly begged for Xander to come home. Twatcat was rubbing up against him, meowing at him to move or something. The vampire wasn't sure what the hell was going on this time, he had only been unconcious for about ten minutes that last time, judging by the time on the clock. A good deal less than the hours he had been out of circulation last time. He had woken up on the floor beside the couch, feeling nauseous. Spike had waited for a few minutes before getting up but he was on the floor once again.

     ~ Pet, please. Please come home. I need you, want you. ~

     Laying completly still on the hard floorboards, Spike had no idea just where he had been trying to stagger to. Was it the bathroom, kitchen or even one of the empty bedrooms? On his back, he stared at the ceiling, taking in the cracked paintwork and flaking chips that were yet to start falling. Idly he wondered if they were frozen like the icicles hanging of the guttering. A few minutes of panting, and he felt a little better, not as nauseous as before.

     ~ Ok, just slowly Billyboy, easy does it. ~

     Spike slowly turned onto his side, resting for a moment, afraid of setting off the flashing again. When that didn't do anything, he carefully got onto his hands and knees, again waiting for a minute before moving.

     ~Fuck Whelp, where are you when I need you? ~

     Guilt rose quickly much to his distaste. Xander might beat him but he had saved his arse twice already. With a sigh, the vampire shook off the revolting feeling and prepared himself to stand. On his knees, he swayed a few times, the stars getting brighter. One swift movement and he was standing in the middle of the common room. If only he could just talk to Giles about what was currently happening. The ex-watcher may be a sodding git but he was the closest to a vamp doctor he had.

     Taking a step, he headed towards the bathroom. A shower would get rid of the grogginess. Two steps into the open room and he felt a pressure around his head, hard as if it was being squeezed in a vice.

     FLASH

     The vampire rubbed at the sides of his head frantically in an effort to somehow relieve the agonising hold on his skull. Sliding down onto his knees, he started sobbing in fright over what was happening and the fact that his claimant was no where close. Squeals of agony reverberated through the small cabin, bouncing off the walls.

     ~ Aaaahhh! Gotta do something...ooohhhh, this hurts. Hurts so bad... ~

     Hands clenched almost into fists, rubbed firmly into the blond hair as the squealing continued.

     ~ Neighbours, a million quid for nosy neighbours. For fucks sake, someone find me. ~

     Spike let himself fall completly to the floor, not even noticing the thud of his chest onto the hard wood. Rolling onto his back, he circled his hands in opposite direction to each other as the stars danced before his eyes. A few minutes of trying to ignore the piercing pain, and the blond found that its edge was lifting, allowing him to quieten his squealing.

     ~ Xanny, I need you, please just hurry. ~

     He knew that it was going to be hours before the other man was going to be home, but that didn't stop him from begging. The vampire was ashamed to be so helpless and dependant on another, even if it was someone that he loved. Minute by minute, the pain was drifting away. Spike didn't know if it was from his rubbing or from something else and he really didn't care as long as it went. Fuck, the only person he could actually call for help was Lukas but he sure as hell didn't want the other demon in the house again. Laying on his back, the bleached blond acknowledged that he was both exhausted and plain terrified.

     ~ Gotta call Crusty, he'll know what to do. Gotta be somthing in those sodding books of his. ~

     A bitter laugh/grunt went through the cabin as he thought of just how the hell he was going to do that. Have to do it bloody fast, was the thought. Heaving himself up on shaky legs, he looked around the room to see if there was anything around the room that would help him. The sobbing started again as he realised that there was nothing that was going to help him. Dizzy, he made his way back to the couch and sat heavily, ignoring the kitten patting at his thigh.

     ~ What the fuck do I do until the boy gets back? Watch tv or listen to the wanky cd and hope that next time I sodding well wake up? ~

     Tears pouring down his face, Spike wondered if a few loud chorus' of 'God save the Queen' by The sex Pistols would cheer him up. One of his favourite songs on the cd the old ex-librarian had gotten him for Christmas, a british punk classic. He was still suprised that he had even been thought of by the other man.

     ~ More like God save the useless vampire. ~

     ~ Maybe I should just play that and grunt down the phone at him and hope to hell he hasn't had all his brains shagged out by the demon bint just yet? ~

     Actually, that wasn't such a bad idea he thought. Watery smile breaking through the streaming tears, the bleached blond hesitantly made his way to the cd rack, fearing another flash at any second. With each step, he panted a little harder, it wasn't easy navigating his way around the multitude of stars that were swimming infront of his eyes. Cd's grabbed, held at odd angles and then tossed onto the bed, he hoped he had the right one in his hands. Looked like the right colours, black and red with newspaper print all over the cover. Once it was shoved into the cd player, he fumbled his way over to the kitchen bench. Portable phone in his hand, he tried to remember which speed dial the older human was listed on.

     ~ Shit! Just press anyone I suppose. If Cunty gets it, hanging up pretty much says it all. ~

     Button pressed, he hoped it was the right one. Spike listened to the ringing at the other end of the line, praying that the big mouthed slag wasn't going to answer the phone, for Anya to start in with her attitude was all he needed at the moment. As it rung, he realised that the song wasn't even playing. Grunting in frustration, he made his way to the cd player, slipping over the slick cd covers strewn over the bed. He jabbed at the 'play' button on the second hand stereo, thankfull for all the midnight fumblings that both he and the whelp had put into practice over the few weeks since they had gotten it.

     ~Why the hell can't I see straight? This had better not keep up, bad enough being sodding well mute. ~

     He groaned as the dial tone rung out on the other end, pushing the hang up button, he punched the next button for auto-dial numbers. Spike jumped as the Pistols launched into a deafening rendition of their best known song, hurridly turning it down so that he could concentrate on the ringing of the phone.

     "Ah, hello. Rupert here"

     ~ Thank fuck for that! ~

     "Ack, grrngt, cough"

     Spike held the phone to the stereo for a moment before putting it back to his ear only to hear the ex-watcher demanding to know who was on the phone. The vampire grunted into the phone again before holding it to the stereo. He held it there for a few seconds. Once again he held it to his ear only to hear a dial tone instead of a pissy store keeper.

     ~ Sodding well damn it! ~

     He stopped the song and pressed what he hoped was the redial. After two rings it picked up, the annoyed voice on the other end declaring that he wasn't interested in crank calls. Spike felt his tears forming again as he grunted down the line, his sobs breaking free as the music started up. He couldn't help himself, he really wanted his claimant to come home so that he could just cuddle into the strong warm arms. The vampire barely listened to what the other man was quietly hissing down the phone.

" Is that you Ethan, because if it is, you know I've told you not to bloody well call here or the frigging shop"

     "Wheeze, sob, sob, acrk...snuffle"

     "Ethan, I'm going to beat the living daylights out of you, you almost had me believing your crying. Look, I've got Anny around at the moment, it's just sheer luck that she hasn't picked up the phone yet. I'll call you, ok?"

     Spike could feel himself start to panick, between the dancing spots and the worry over what was causing the bright flashes, the nausea rising once more. He tried his yes and no grunts in a final attempt to get the man to recognise him. As the cd changed songs, he could hear the other man prattle on about meeting up later on that week.

     ~ I don't care who your shagging Rupie, just use your sodding noodle for once and LISTEN! ~

     There was silence on the other end as Spike repeated his trade mark grunts for all he was worth, throwing in a 'Xander' grunt for good measure.

     "Ah. Um. Oh dear, is that you Spike?"

     "'Yes grunt' sniffle, accrgk, sob, 'Xander grunt'"

     "Good lord! Is Xander alright, whats wrong? Sod it, hang on, I'll ring you back in about 15 minutes alright?"

     "'Yes grunt' snork, sniffle"

     Almost swaying with relief, Spike pushed the hang up button and waited by the stereo for the other man to ring him back. He listened to the thumping music in the hopes of distracting himself from worrying too much. The vampire sat counting the minutes until he would get a phone call from the ex-watcher.


~*~*~*~*~


     ~ Fucking hurry up! Ring you cunt, come on, RING! ~

     Trying to stop himself from starting to pace, Spike instead took out his worry on the completly innocent phone. He had no idea of just how he was going to explain to the watcher about the flashes. The vampire tried to tap his feet in time to the loud music but gave up after he started kicking at the wall, Xander would not be impressed by a hole in the wall.

     ~ Ring, ring, why don't you give me a call? ~

     ~ Oh fuck, the day I start singing ABBA is the day I deserve to be shot. ~

     He winced at the memory of a whole nights driving with Xander yelping along to ABBA Gold. The vampire had been ready to jump out of the moving car. Things had gone better when he had 'accidently' crushed the tape under his Doc Martens while on a pitstop for more cheezels and Reeses Peanutbutter cups. He was jerked out of the memories by the phone actually ringing by his side. Snatched up, he had to relax his hold as the plastic creaked and groaned around his hand. With a viscious jab, he connected with the person on the other end of the line.

     "Spike, it me. Oh, um. Silly really, it's Giles."

     "Yes grunt, eertgk, cough."

     "I'm going to ask you questions and what I want you to do is either cough for no or grunt for yes. Do you understant that?"

     ~ Yes. Mr. Giles. I'm in third grade and understand how to wipe my own sodding arse as well. Fuckwit! ~

     "Yes grunt"

     "Right, right. Er..ok, here goes then. Is Xander hurt, incapacitated at the moment or in danger?"

     "Cough"

     "Oh thats so good. Relief actually. Did you call me by accident?"

     ~ I bloody well wish Mate! ~

     "Cough"

     "Is something wrong with you? Are you hurt, isn't Xander around to help you?"

     ~ Nope, off getting more wood so we don't sodding well freeze to death in the middle of the night. Should have taken the Vegas job. Would have made a killing at Blackjack ~

     "Yes grunt. Cough"

     "Yes and no. Well, which is it? You're either hurt or you're not."

     Spike banged the phone into his forehead a few times, only stopping when Giles started yelling down the phone line at him. He grunted 'yes' down the phone until he was told to stop and hang up. The watcher was going to do the spell that would allow him to see the vampire. Until the older human rang again, Spike was to sit as still as possible. Relief flooded over the blond as he disconnected from the shop keeper once again.

     ~ Jesus Xander, just get home qui......Ahhhhh! ~

     FLASH

     Rolling around the bed in agony, the blond took no notice of the sharp cd cover edges digging in his back as the pain in his head struck again. Both hands were clenched into fists, rubbing at the sides of his aching scalp again. The stars dancing across his eyes bloomed into a fireworks show, there were colours of all hues bombarding his vision. Pink, purple, grey, electric blue, black, gold, the list was endless. Spike could feel himself fanging out, his sensitive canines making contact with a cd, sending him rolling back the other way. Great heaving sobs wracked the pale body as the waves of pain bombarded the vampire.

     ~ Oh god. Please, bloody fuck. Just strike me down now. ~

     As quickly as it had started, the pain dissipated, leaving a sobbing blond curled up on the bed. Not quite daring to stop rubbing above his ears, Spike wondered what was going on. He realised that the stars and colours that had been plaguing him for the past forty minutes were starting to dull. The snuffling tapered off and finally stopped as the vampire took in what had happened. Spike slowly panned his vision around the room before settling on the meowing kitten. He smiled widely as he stared at the image of heat being thrown off the small creature. No humans and only a handful of demons knew that when vampires went into gameface, their whole perception of seeing, hearing and smelling prey changed as well. Before they changed, vampires could smell a single drop of blood from almost a 1 mile radius, hear a heart beating clear across a crowded room and had better taste and sight than the average human.

     Once they changed however, then everything got a lot better. They could smell blood from further away, actually seperate and acknowledge different types of heartbeats and even keeps tabs on when someone was moving around. The elongated canines acted as a warning if something was wrong. A little nick before draining told a vampire what sort of blood type their prey was, if the prey had any diseases that would taint the blood if it wasn't detectable by sight or smell. The eyes though, that was the best. The dilated pupils somehow allowed a vampire to see the heat being thrown off other creatures, including humans. Just made it so much easier to see where their latest meals were running off to.

     His eyes were back. He could see the subtle flares of heat being thrown off the black kitten as she moved her head up and down, grooming herself. There was no blood to tempt his gameface out, but he could see again in his true vision. Bloody marvellous, thats what it was, bloody marvellous. The elation dropped like the preverbial lead balloon as he realised that he was still useless. His fangs slid back into human guise as his chin shook. With a shake of his head, he tried to put his pupils back into their human disguise only to grunt furiously as it proved that they were stuck in demon state.

     ~ Fuck! First my eyes come back and now I'm bloody well stuck with them. ~

     With that, the phone rang again beside him. Picking it up, he grunted down the phone as Giles informed him that he could now see the vampire. He slowly turned his vision to look up at the front door, all the while listening to the shop keepers breathing. Spike smiled weakly at the door as Giles swore at being able to see the golden eyes looking through the scrying bowl. Having an idea, Spike held his hand up to the door in the universal sign for 'hold on/wait'. Phone put down for the moment, he carefully wrote what had happened in large letters in his notebook. Once finished, he picked up the phone again and with it held to his ear, he held the note pad up towards where he thought the ex-watcher would be able to see it.

     At the other males indication, the vampire flipped the page over so that the older human could continue to read. He continued to turn the numerous pages as Giles read about the flashes and how Spikes eyes had returned, leaving out the nightvision talent of course. Just wouldn't do for Buffy to find out about that little gem, might give her an unfair advantage. Spike couldn't help but snort at the image of a Slayer wearing icepacks danced into his thoughts. Cow would be stupid enough to try it as well.

     He shook his head when asked if he had had any sort of sexual contact to bring the flash on, leering slightly as Giles stuttered into the phone. Another head shake at the question of any emotional upset or injury. There was not a chance in hell, that Spike was going to tell the other male about Lukas and his fucking brochures. He suspected the embarrassment of what Lukas had suggested had brought on the first flash, his panic probably bringing on the others. Spike nodded as Giles told him that he really didn't know what to think. As he was listening to the ex-watcher babble on about not saying anything regarding Ethan, he felt his pupils return to normal. A few grunts stopped talk, letting Giles see the now blue eyes of the vampire.

     Spike tried to get his eyes to go demon again but much to his annoyance, they stayed human blue. A minute later and he was dropping his fangs just to check that he could still do that. A gasp from the phone and he realised that the whelp must not have updated the other man about his condition. He answered the following questions as best as he could, writing an answer when needed. After a few minutes of silence, the arkward goodbyes were said and grunted, both hanging up at the same time.

     The vampire was happy, cautious, but happy at the latest turn of events. All that was needed now was his hearing, smell and face ridges to come back. The face ridges would probably come back at the same time as his accelerated sense of smell, Angelus had always had the theory of the ridges pushing down across the bridge of the nose being the cause of the ability. His Sire had waffled on about pressure to the glands and tissues resulting in the ability for vampires to smell better when in gameface. Spike had been in too much pain at the time to really take any notice, his little game of continually asking 'why?' had taken a nasty turn with his Sire, resulting in Spike being whipped for being a pain in the arse.

     Jerking himself out of the memories, the vampire cautiously got to his feet to make himself a cup of coffee while he waited for his claimant to come home.

     ~ Whelp, do I have some news for you! ~

     With a large grin, Spike switched the automatic jug on only to find that the electricity had gone off again. During his time speaking to the ex-watcher, he hadn't taken any notice of the music stopping, putting it down to the end of the cd. A shrug and he pulled out the candles, hurricane lamp and stovetop kettle from under the sink. With the cold weather, the two men had quickly discovered that although their cabin was hooked up to the power grid, it wasn't a sure bet that they would always be guaranteed electricity. Henceforth, the candles and hurricane lamp. The third time it had gone off, they had bought the stove top kettle, both unwilling to go through the withdrawl of coffee while waiting for the power to turn on again. The generator out the back was the biggest piece of shit that either of them had seen, Xander had once tried to get it started but after almost catching alight from the sparks coming from it, he had given it up as a bad job.

     The company constantly assured them that someone would be out soon to fix it for them. As Xander's workmates had said, don't hold your breath. One of them wasn't and the other couldn't. While waiting for the kettle to boil, Spike tried to make his eyes yellow again.


~*~*~*~*~


     New Years Eve,

     The Vestal Gardens

     11.15 pm

     The decent sized restaurant was packed to the gills with loud music, singing, alcohol and a multitude of drunken Alaskans. The owners of the Gardens, Helen and Mi Wai as well as Ling Mai and Quong De, were hosting the noisy gathering as an apology for the resteraunt being closed for two weeks over the Chinese New Year. So far, it was the first time it had been hosted in Pennington and all was going well. The half demons had opted for a totally unique Alaskan theme for the night. The Gardens was decked out with various stuffed animals, curtesy of Cecil, and two huge Native Alaskan handwoven rugs.

     Both Spike and Xander were huddled close to the trestle table that was so loaded with food, it was almost groaning. There was spam sandwiches, Pilot bread, smoked salmon, chum pate, whale blubber in three forms (raw,pickled and boiled) and lastly, Eskimo icecream, something that Xander had taken to with a relish until Spike had told him what he could smell in the mixture. As tasty as it had been, the brunette hadn't been able to work out why the vampire was horrified each time he had tried to to get the blond to eat some. Finally, Spike had written him that the mixture contained at least four different animal fats and that finely shredded stuff wasn't coconut, it was some sort of meat. Spike was certain that it was caribou, his blood had the same smell. Xander had shoved his half empty bowl onto the nearest table on his way to the bathrooms, displaying his green face for all to see. Spike just grinning and nodding at the queries of if his boyfriend had tried the icecream, the next question was if he had just found out what it contained.

     Laughter all around and numerous mutterings of 'cheechako', an Alaskan term for tenderfoot, and the attention was diverted again by Helen setting up a display of towering champagne glasses. Each tier was watched closely, applause thundering around the silk screen panneled main eating room as she placed the last glass, completing the 12 tier stack. Spike glanced around the room, not too worried about where Xander was at the moment. He was still a little nervous about being with such a lot of people even with Xander by his side, his last party experience leading to being shaken by Stan. Thankfully the arsehole wasn't anywhere around tonight.

     A few of the gathered were the same people he had been introduced to at Mac´s house on the night of the Auction. Both he and the whelp had gone around the room together, shaking hands and nodding at the familiar faces from the previous party. The vampire was amused that Xander and himself were considered part of Mac's group of friends. The whole group contained the restaraunt owners and wives, the Fitzmaurice brothers (Spit and Fitzy), the two Fijians, Stephanie and now the vampire and his claimant. He was sure that the other humans would die of shock if they knew just what they partied on with on a regular basis. Then again, this was Alaska, home of the weird. They just might take it all in their stride along with an offer of a Spam sandwich.

     ~ Fucking Spam! Better than that whale shit though. ~

     Xander and the vampire had been flabbergasted when much to their horror, everyone bar them, had rushed the table in an effort to get at the traditional food. Thankfully, Helen and Quong De had put out some Spam sandwhiches as a joke. Everyone had just smiled at the two men when they had gone straight for the Spam and bypassed everything else, Xander only going for the icecream in the mistaken idea that it was made only with dairy products. The brunette had dared the vampire to eat some of the boiled whale blubber and Spike had taken him up on his dare, taking two huge bites before placing the still full plate on the floor underneath a chair. Mac had seen the smaller man try the whale blubber and in sympathy for a first winter newcomer, had tried to feed him some Pilot bread to soak up the oil. The red haired man had wandered off laughing when his offer was refused, something that was starting to worry the vampire.

     Not quite ill this time, Xander continued to hang his head over the porcelian bowl, just to make sure that he didn't embarass himself by throwing up in the party. After a few minutes, he straightened up and flushed the toilet, proceeding to wash his hands in the unisex bathroom. He was feeling both a little queasy and annoyed. The brunette had really liked the taste of the icecream but had been instantly horrified at what Spike had said he could smell in the combination. He had thought that it really was coconut, still appalled that it was shredded moose meat. At that thought, his stomach roiled again in rebellion of what he had just eaten.

     "As if Spam wasn't bad enough. Oh well, at least I didn't eat the whale."

     Xander snickered at the memory of what the vampires face had looked like when biting into the gelatinous mess. The youth had been sure that the blond was going to run straight to the bathroom. Spikes face had been a cross between him trying to sneeze and cough at the same time. Two bites and the plate had been discreetly hidden out of the way. Mac had come across with tears in his eyes at the scene and had told Spike to eat some Pilot bread so that the excess oil would be soaked up but after the whale blubber, the vampire was having none of that and had steadfastly refused. It had been then that Xander had started to try and get the blond to eat some of the delicious icecream.

     Hands dried, the brunette made his way back into the main room, the noise hitting him full force. Almost wincing at how loud the party had become, he admired the large tiered display sitting in one corner. Making his way back to the opposite side of the room, he glanced at the clock, nearly 20 to 12. He sighed as he reached Spikes side, taking his beer from the other man. The party was loud but somehow it was lacking the 'fun' from last year. He had Bronzed it with Buffy and the rest of the Scooby gang, leaving Spike at the apartment. The blond had been teary all day, in the end Xander had welcomed the opportunity to just get away and forget about him for an evening.

     Mi Wai caught everyones attention again as she hollered over the music that it was five to twelve. The petite half demon popped the cork on a bottle of champagne, the room bursting into loud cheers and clapping as the first of the golden liquid was poured into the top glass. Xander rested his right hand just above Spikes buttocks as he watched the flowing fountain. He hoped that it wouldn't taste too bad, the brunette really didn't see what the great fuss was with champagne. It had only ever tasted bitter and smelt little better than urine on the few occasions he had had the chance to consume some.

     The vampire pushed back into Xanders warm hand, he liked that his claimant was touching him in public even if it was ever so discreetly. He was also watching the pouring, thankful that at least something moderately interesting was happening. Ever since Xander had beaten up Stan at Mac´s house, the few other people he did know were a bit hesitant to come over and make a conversation with him if Xander wasn't anywhere near. The memory of an unconcious Stan was still fresh in everyones mind, those who hadn't seen it, had heard about it the next day. While the brunette had been in the bathroom, he had almost run from an approaching Lukas and had headed straight for Stephanie and her gaggle of work mates, joining in the conversation about the latest Fisher Paykel toys for toddlers. The vampire had just nodded and smiled along with the various comments, frowning when it was indicated that all should do so.

     Almost purring from the feel of the large hand, he hoped that all the 'excitement' wasn't going to set off another flash. It had been hard enough to convince the brunette to go the party, almost two days of pleading and finally, a few lines of how it wouldn't look too good to refuse an employer's invitation. He was flattered that the youth was worried that he would collapse or worse yet, collapse and then get another bit of his game face back in the middle of the party and be unable to hide it again. After getting off the phone to the Watcher, he had been alone in a dark cabin for four more hours until the weary whelp had come home. The dark hadn't bothered him as he had turned off the lights when Lukas had informed him his type of demon was more accustomed to the dark, it had been the sheer time wasting of waiting and wondering if he would have another more serious flash before the youth got home.

     Xander had been happy for him and after a phone call to Giles, he had been constantly worrying about another series of flashes. After a thorough discussion with the shop keeper, it had been decided that Spike shouldn't drive and for him to stay out of any stressful situations until all of his gameface was back. Spike had been upset at that until he realised that if he had a flash when driving, he would most likely kill both himself and the whelp. The brunette had decided to get a beeper once the shops were open again so that the vampire could call him if he had an 'episode' while Xander was at work. The vampire had been repeatedly told that if anything happened, he should call, no matter what. The excuse would be complications from the car accident that the blond had been involved in.

     The golden waterfall finished after three giant bottles of champagne and Spike wondered if it would taste like crap. During the 'roaring 20's', Dru had developed a passion for the stuff, the blond vampire had never seen the charm himself. The filled glasses were handed around, both men taking a small sip before hurridly joining in the countdown.

     8
     7
     6
     5

     Xander slid his arm around the slim waist, clutching his adored tightly, pleased and flushing when the vampire nestled against him firmly.

     4
     3
     2
     1

     HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

     All glasses were held aloft for a moment before everyone, bar Stephanie, took giant swallows. Xander greedily drank down the fairly pleasant liquid before gently pecking at the pale cheek of the blond. With a grin, Spike clutched the back of the brunettes head, dragging his head down for a deeper kiss. Much to the vampire´s amusement and Xander's embarrassment, the kiss had been watched by about everyone in the room. Lots of catcalls later, the youth felt the heat from the alcohol start to seep away as he once more made the rounds of the room, giving the women a quick peck and shaking hands with the men. A good ten minutes later, he felt like his hand was going to fall off. He glanced at the blond who was trailing behind him, Spike just finishing off his round of well wishing. With a shake of his head, Xander found the sight hilarious. Only two years ago, the blond would have chewed off his own arm rather than go to an 'inter-bred hoedown' as he so cutely termed it.

     Xander took in the sight of the vampire smiling and softly grunting in what was his laughter. The brunette was slightly amazed at how much the other man had changed. Away from Sunnydale, he was no longer so weepy and was actually making an effort to get to know people rather than lift the finger automatically. The vampire still had his days of crying but moving away from the Hellmouth had been good for them both so far. With that, he decided that once the snow eased up a little, they should have Mac and a few of the other guys over for a game of cards. Lukas, Josessi and the Fitzmaurice brothers included.

     A cool hand on his forearm shook him out of his thoughts. With a smile Xander told the vampire that they would be leaving pretty soon. They wouldn't be the only ones. Mac, Spit and Fitzy were headed off to Chena Hot Springs at 6 that morning. Although both Xander and Spike had been invited to go along for the full four days, the youth had made an excuse of Spike´s work in the restaraunt being the reason for not spending the full time at the camping grounds. The brunette had placated a disappointed vampire with the compromise of an overnight stay. Xander was pretty sure that with him there, the vampire wouldn't get into too much trouble. It would be pretty much a drive through Fairbanks, then almost another hour to the camping ground, a bit of pottering around then a BBQ for dinner, liquid supper with lots of drunken talk. Hopefully they wouldn't be too intoxicated to experience the famous hot water springs.

     Spike nodded his agreement to leaving soon, as unexciting as the evening had been so far, he just wanted to get home for a shag and some sleep before leaving in a few hours. It had been nice to just get out of the cabin for a little while. He knew that he was lucky the whelp had even given in about the party and the trip to Chena. The vampire was disappointed that they wouldn't be seeing any bears due to the hibernation of the large land dwellers. A spreading warmth squarley on his buttocks and Spike decided that it was definately time to go. With luck he would get a decent handjob before a nice hard screw. He pushed back into Xanders hand and with a jerk of his head, he indicated towards the front door of The Gardens.

     Both men made their goodbyes, telling Mac to stop by their cabin around 6am so that they could follow in the commadore. Promises of people catching up, nights out for beer and a sunday dinner at Stephanie´s, the two relatively sober men made their way into the oppressive coldness of the night air. Xander unplugged the sidewalk engine warmer from his white car and walked around to the drivers side, hoping that his tyres hadn't frozen. Both he and the vampire had almost had a heart attack when they had learned that on some days it got so cold, tires froze onto the road´s surface and actually ripped off the wheel rim if not thawed out properly. With a nod, Spike gave each tire a kick and seeing that they were all pretty much supple, he threw himself into the still cold car interior.

     All through the slow drive home, the landscape was painted with a myriad of colours from the Northern Lights above them. Spike was fascinated with them and occassionaly, with a twinge of regret, he thought that Dru would have been in her element in Alaska. He wondered what his dark princess would have heard from the colourfull display dancing above the earth´s surface. He listened to Xanders quiet breathing as the youth shivered in the barely warm car. The vampire could feel the car swerving slightly in reaction to the shaking hands on the steering wheel and hoped that there wasn't too much ice on the road.

     Car parked in its usual spot, Xander wrapped his arms around the slender figure, both men sharing a cold kiss before making their way into a chilly cabin. Twatcat flung herself at her parents, trilling and mewling for some attention. Despite how hard Spike was, the first thing to do was to start the wood heater so that they didn't freeze in the early hours of the morning. While he was doing that, Xander fed Twatcat and refilled her hot water bottle, replacing it in her wicker basket. The brunette really didn't know just why he bothered, the kitten was usually found somewhere in the middle of the bed in the mornings. With a grin, he thought back to that morning when the vampire had been asleep with the kitten nestled firmly on his white chest. Xander had felt his heart jump at the cute sight, it had been perfect poster material. If he had only had a camera, he was sure millions of teenagers around the world would have paid to have such a picture upon their bedroom walls.

     The next task wasn't so pleasant, emptying the kitty litter tray. Something that the blond flat out refused to do, not that Xander could blame him. Lots of nose holding later, the kitten had a fresh tray full of litter placed in one corner of the bathroom. Almost running to the heat being thrown off the small heater, Xander took in the sight of the vampire laying naked on the bed. Spike gently stroked his hard on, thumbing at the weeping slit. He was waiting for his claimant to tell him what to do, not wanting to make any presumptions that might destroy the youth´s good mood for the night.

     Quickly shucking off his own clothes, the brunette crawled up the bed until his face was in direct line of the white penis. After a second of hesitation, he ignored the solid member, preferring to give each erect nipple a kiss. With a smile, Xander thrust his tongue into the cool mouth of the blond, his hand wrapping around the smaller one. He picked up the speed of the strokes on the cool cock, taking over the handjob. The youth continued to lick his way down the smooth neck, sucking on the Adams apple until the vampire started groaning in delight.

     Eyes rolled, Spike couldn't decide which was the best, the warm hand around his achingly hard cock or the wet tongue tracing the contour of his throat. He briefly wished that the brunette would bite him, the sensation would make him cum harder than he had for the past months. Spike gasped in shock as his right nipple was rolled between blunt teeth, small sparks of pleasure shooting across his chest. Another harder bite and his stomach was coated with cool semen, fingers shoved into his fanged mouth. The vampire slowly sucked his essence off the warm digits.

     Xander was suprised at how quickly the vampire had cum, normally he would have lasted at least a few minutes more. He looked into the gold eyes, his own cock begging for release. The vampire let the last finger slip from his lips and placed his hand at the back of the thick brunette hair, pulling down his claimant for a long hot tongue duel. He felt himself being rolled over onto his left side, looked like it was going to be the 'spoon' tonight. The lazy man´s shag as he liked to call it. Spike actually really enjoyed this position, it was only good for a long slow screw, something he didn't mind at times.

     With his eyes closed, the vampire moaned in delight as warm fingers spread cool gel over his puckered entrance. One, then two large digits swirled the gel into his relaxing hole. He sighed as a large blunt head replaced the skilled fingers. His right leg bent forward, he opened himself up for Xander. The brunette pulled away his sticky fingers, guiding his cock to the prepared blond. A fierce thrust and he was buried up to his balls in the cool body. Slowly he drew back, eliciting gasps from both of them.

     Spike rocked back to meet each slow thrust, his eyes golden as his prostrate was hit time and time again. Grunting filled the small cabin, Xander pumping into the tight channel, one hand wrapped in the soft hair. His other hand was clencing tightly to the slender hip, a smaller hand holding onto his larger fingers. The vampire had his own two fingers shoved into his mouth, running them along his elongated fangs, a few drops of blood falling onto his tongue.

     "Fuck Spike, I'm gonna cum! Gonna cum sooo hard!"

     Speeding up his thrusts as much as the position would allow him, Xander pounded hard into the slender body, the small whines of the vampire encouraging him. In one hard thrust, Spike was almost on his front, hissing from the uncomfortable angle. His prostrate no longer being hit, he was finding the thrusting starting to bruise his insides. The hand in his hair tightened roughly as with three more immense pumps, Xander bellowed his release to the room, the vampire's whimpering quietening down into unneeded pants.

     "Damn, good as always!"

     A kiss was dropped onto the pale cheek as his spent cock slid out of the loosened channel. With his arms wrapped around the slim body, Xander nuzzled into the soft hair, content to just drop off to sleep, relying on the alarm to wake them at 5.30am. Spike waited for the brunette´s breathing to even out before checking his heart rate to make sure he was asleep. This was his own time. For about half an hour after the brunette had fallen asleep each night, the vampire completly relaxed and was free from the constant worry as to when the youth would have another hissy fit and start the slapping. The blond turned his thoughts as to the little adventure beginning in only a few hours.


~*~*~*~*~


     Febuary 5, 2001

     With just a week to go until the sign language course started, Spike was getting fidgety about staying for a few days in Fairbanks. It wasn't that he hadn't been to the city before, it wasn't who was going to look after Twatcat. It was that the class was the final acknowledgement that he was disabled. The blond vampire was horrifically ashamed that he had to be taught how to speak again using his fingers.

     ~ Already know how to use me sodding fingers! Really don't need to know much more. ~

     Last of the breakfast dishes put away, the slender male snorted to himself when he thought of just how many obscene gestures he knew and most weren't the normal human ones either. Blood packet ripped open and the contents poured into a mug, Spike programmed the microwave for one minute and thirty seconds. Any longer and he risked burning the top of his mouth on the over heated blood, nevermind the vile taste. While his breakfast heated, the blond couldn't help but wonder how Steph was going with her labour. He had been a little suprised at how much he genuinly liked the group of people he had come to know since moving to Alaska. Out of them all, he liked Steph the best. He had liked Lukas to begin with but after those damn pamphlets, he didn't want to be anywhere near the other demon.

     Both himself and the whelp had been woken early that morning by a phonecall from a pretty upset and drugged out Steph informing them that she had gone into an early labour. By all rights, she should have had another month and a half of pregnancy. The phonecall itself had apparantly been pretty incoherant, Xander hanging up in the end after telling her that they both wished her good luck, the vampire nodding along to the words. Spike had cooked a full breakfast that included the usual bacon, tomatoes and eggs since they were up early enough anyway. A blowjob in the kitchen and then the whelp had dashed off to work complete with a few sandwiches.

     ~ Wow, never thought making fucking sandwiches would be the highlight of my day. Can't wait until I get some wood so I can start this course. ~

     Shaking his head at the cat that was demanding to go out, Spike hoped that Steph wouldn't want the kitten back now that the baby was almost out. Xander and the vampire had both grown attached to the small creature, Spike liking the time he spent alone with Twatcat just purring together to a fuzzy Jerry Springer. Kitchen bench given another wipe with the cloth, he knew that he couldn't put it off any longer. He was going to have walk to the post office and see Lukas for some more blood. Now that the snow had eased up some, Xander had told the blond that he could resume going himself to get his blood. Not even bothering to argue, he had just nodded along, shuddering at the thought of seeing the prying demon again.

     ~ Hope he keeps his fucking mouth shut, don't want to have to rip his head off. ~

     The vampire hadn't had to fight anyone since the crypt incident and was actually uncertain of how a fight would go if he attacked the other demon. He knew that if he had been full up on human blood, only his Sire and a few other demons would get the better of him. Spike really didn't want to test it out, since having the accident that damaged his chip, he hadn't felt the desire to even try and fight something. It seemed that with the emergence of his overly tender emotions, his demon traits had diminished to the point where he really didn't think about them anymore. The only things he wanted were his full demon face back and for Xander to tell him that he was loved.

     ~ Sodding poofy fucking ponce! ~

     A frown adorned the pale face as the vampire counted his available cash, deciding that he would pay by debit card via electronic transfer. Check jacket grabbed, he did all his buttons up while putting out the wood heater. At the last minute, he double checked that the kittens hot water bottle would be warm enough until he returned. Once satisfied that everything was in order and that he could no longer put it off, the vampire stepped out into the cold air of the darkened day. Growling in frustration, he started to jog after the small cat that had dashed out of the warm cabin in an attempt to follow him. Weaving a lunatics dance across the powdery snow, he couldn't help but grunt in laughter as the black feline tried to avoid the coldness touching her tiny feet. The result was a small kitten leaping stiff legged into the air every few steps while a grunting blond attempted to grab at her.

     After a few minutes, Spike realised that they heading in the right direction anyway. Giving up, he continued to walk to the post office, knowing that the kitten would follow him eventually.

     Sure enough, after a couple of paces, he felt a solid thump against his lower leg as the small feline attached herself to him. Grunting again, he gently unhooked the sharp claws and popped her down the front of his jacket, relishing the instant warmth that spread across his chest. It would take longer to walk back to the cabin than to continue towards Lukas. Spike was sure that if he turned back, he wouldn't be leaving the cabin again. Forcing himself to continue foward into the icy air, he surveyed the winter wonderland ahead of him. He had to admit that the scenery was beautiful, his ability to see better than humans in the dark came in handy at times.

     While he strode towards his blood, he smiled as he remembered how he had been able to find Spit wandering around drunkenly lost after volunteering to get more firewood for the campsite BBQ. He had heard the others calling out for the missing man about half an hour after he had gone off into the darkness. Idly hoping he would see some wildlife other than the moose that grazed around where he and Xander lived, the vampire had accompnied his claimant in trying to find the drunk man. With his nightvision restored, it had only taken a few minutes before he had found the heat signature of Spit. The lean man had been telling off a tree that continued to drop snow on him despite his impassioned pleas for it to stop. The whelp had just looked at the vampire and had cracked up, Spike only two seconds later in adding to the laughter. Guiding the irate Spit back to the campsite had been easy, Spike just concentrating on the large flare of heat coming from the flames not to mention the delicious smell of almost done sausages. The other man had been too drunk and annoyed at the tree to notice the vampires gameface.

     With a groan, the vampire saw the post office building getting closer. All his running after the mental kitten had shortened his journey by a good six or seven minutes. Good was the thought, the sooner he got his blood, the sooner he could be gone and not see the other demon for a few days. Xander was going to use the enhanced esky while they were in Fairbanks, keeping the container in the boot of the car so that housekeeping wouldn't find it and then call the police. The youth's book from Joyce contained assorted vouchers that entitled the holder to numerous discounts and freebies around the state of Alaska. Keeping the offers in mind, Xander had been able to get them a discounted room for Sunday night to Friday morning in a bed and breakfast that was within walking distance to the college. Thankfully the days were still pretty dark so that the vampire would be inside during the lengthing periods of sunlight.

     So far, the barely sunny hours were from around 11am to just after 3pm. According to Spike's watch, it was only about quarter past nine, plenty of time for him to get his blood and get home before he encountered the deadly sunlight.

     "Hey Spike, good to see you again. You here for a social visit, come on. Got some good beer out the back, English, none of this American crap."

     Barely able to hold back a snarl with his shaken head, the blond vampire indicated that he was only here for his weekly blood order. With another shake of his head, he halted Lukas' questions of if he wanted to talk about his relationship with Xander. A cough later saw both men disappear down the steps leading to the large fridge and engraved door. Spike had seen the door often since getting his own blood but it never ceased to fascinate him. The door was solid metal with odd squiggles and runes carved over it and according to the Fijian, it was a sentient being in its own right. The vampire wasn't sure but sometimes he could feel a slight buzzing on his chipped side of his head whenever he came near the strange metal. It was so fleeting that he really wasn't sure whether he had even felt it.

     In silence, Lukas got out the vampire's usual weekly order. The vampire had three traditional meals a day, not including his indulgence for human foods. Twenty-one bags of blood were divided into four plastic shopping bags and held out for the smaller male to take. Caribou, moose and cow, the vampire absolutly refusing anything to do with pigs blood. Mouth almost watering at the sight of the numerous bags of human blood, the vampire steeled himself and turned around so that he could't see them. He reminded himself that he would be getting a bag a day during the summer, something that he was starting to dread.

     From what Lukas had told him during their last friendly chat, not counting the one on Boxing Day, vampires and other nocturnal creatures usually went into an almost hibernation state during the long hours of sunlight. They only really woke during the short periods of darkness and were then pretty groggy, using that time to feed and do a few things before falling asleep again.

     A shadow of a smile while taking the bags from Lukas and he was once again asked if he wanted a beer. With a hand run through his short hair, the vampire was suprised when the other male apologised for intruding into the blond's life when he shouldn't have. A discreet sniff at the demon and Spike hesitantly nodded his acceptance at the other demons apology, he was still upset and embarrassed at what had been suggested but he reluctantly accepted that it had been only tackled because the Fijian was his friend. A bigger smile and a swigging motion with one hand saw him clapped on the back and the kittens head popping out of the vampire's jacket much to the laughter of Lukas and snorts from Spike. Following the larger demon, he went back up the stairs and into the warmer air that circulated around the ground level dwelling.

     It was opressively hot in the main living room, Spike hated to think of how much it must cost the Fijian to heat the room into an almost tropic zone. A grimace at how domesticated that sounded even to himself, the vampire eagerly grabbed at the ice cold beer being held out to him. Spike quickly shed his thick coat, depositing the black kitten on the floor, smirking as a fluffed up ginger furball made its way over to inspect the intruder. He figured that he had time for one beer before he had to leave again and seating himself upon the sofa, he listened to the other demon telling him about how Steph had rung him as well that morning. Lukas promised to ring the hospital later that day on the behalf of Spike, telling him that he would give him an update about her condition after the phone call. The blond honestly couldn't remember knowing any woman who had given birth since the day he had been turned. When he had been a human, pregnancy and childbirth wasn't something that was included in any sort of conversation.

     Drinking his beer, he nodded and gestured at the wood carvings dotted around the room while keeping one eye on a pair of felines playing hide and seek in the hot room, listening while Lukas described the origins of the traditional South Pacific Island masks and other ornamental shapes. He had a good laugh at the description of how in the days before missionaries, chieftains had a particular way of killing any offenders by basically getting them to kneel with their neck placed across a large stone slab and then dropping a huge rock onto their neck, leaving it there until they died from suffocation. Dropped hard enough, the rock would break the spine, seperating the head from the body almost instantly. Nice, was the thought running through the vampires mind. Sometimes the old ways were the best. Beer finished, Spike got up to leave, glad that the subject of his relationship with Xander hadn't been brought up. With a goodbye to Lukas, he rescued Twatcat from being licked to death by the other kitten, tucking her firmly into his jacket before heading off into the cold day again.

     He was a bit embarrassed about carrying the kitten around with him but he was ultimately glad that he had been able to repair his friendship with the other demon. As much as he liked the demons that employed him, it was nice to have a drinking buddy just to himself. He wasn't too sure but he thought he caught little hints of dislike from the Fijian every time the dark man came into contact with Xander. With a shake of his head, he continued to trudge back to the cabin. Maybe he was just being overly sensitive about his relationship with the youth and imagining things. Spike gave the purring kitten a reassuring pat through the thick jacket, adjusting his hold on the plastic bags. They weren't heavy to his vampire strength but the handles still cut into his hands, making throbbing lines across his palms.

     Blood put away into the fridge once he was back in the cabin, Spike closed all the curtains to prevent the sun from streaming into the cabin. The heavy clouds had started to clear up just as he was only a mile away from the cabin, forcing him to step up the pace. Water boiling for a coffee, he leaned against the kitchen sink while he turned his attention to Xander's birthday. It was coming up soon, March 27th and the vampire still had no idea of what to do to make it special for the youth. He didn't want the boy to go through the same disappointment that had occured during Christmas. Sadly, it was all too probable that the youths arsehole parents would be too drunk to remember their son's birthday.

     An idea striking hard, Spike hurridly made his coffee, extra milky with three sugars. Plonking the beverage down on the coffee table, he removed the kitten from his cool lap while he puzzled over just how he should go about his idea.





But I love you? Part 2

     "Hi, My name is Sarah and I'm your teacher."

     With a glance around the small room, Spike knew that he was the only one trying to ignore a chip giving him tingles for wanting to bite off all Sarah’s furiously moving fingers. Only five minutes into the class and the blond was wishing that a Hellmouth would swallow him whole. Sitting next to him on his left side was Xander, listening intently to what the blue haired teacher was saying. On his right side were three other people, a mother and father team along with their child. The little girl looked to be around four or five, Spike wasn't really too sure, he had never liked kids so he hadn't taken much notice of them. The only time he had ever really come into contact with them once turned, was when Darla decided on treating herself with one or two before bedtime.

     "Ok, I'm just going to give you a brief description of what to expect in the next four days. Any questions so far?"

     When none came forward, the tall thin middle-aged lady went on to describe how the days would go for the Sign Language participants. Spike snorted to himself, four days trapped in a small room with a wanker hippy teacher who was flapping her hands around like they had been burnt, a Claimant who was on the way to being seriously sick with the flu and the bloody perfect do-gooder family of the year sitting right next to him. What the hell was there not to love?

     ~ I hope Cornfed and Arseholes Inc. end up with cock cancer. Hope it bloody well eats their nuts as well ~

     "Class will start each day at 9am, morning tea at 11.15am, lunch at 1.30pm, afternoon tea at 3.30pm and of course, everybody leaves at 5.30pm. Morning and afternoon breaks are 15 minutes each, while lunch is half an hour"

     ~ Thank fuck for that! Won't have sit the whole time with the sodding chip mushing my brain just because I want to smother the sunshiny little turd of a teacher ~

     Ok, regular breaks. Spike could handle that. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. A bout of coughing from his left side and the vampire cast a worried gaze at the brunette next to him. If the class hadn't already been paid for by the two witches, he would have suggested that they both go to the one next semester. Xander had woken up the morning before complaining of a sore throat and stiff muscles. Calling the boy irritable just wasn't the right word. The blond allowed a slight grimace to ghost over his pale face as he recalled the punch he had received when he had tried to massage the other males back in an attempt to relieve some of the stiffness. A snarled request for the vampire to go away had led to a punch when Spike had chosen to ignore Xander's words, instead trying to give the man some relief.

     Spike had quickly scrambled into the kitchen for a bout of tears while the kettle boiled. He had been almost in tears again when his offered coffee hadn't been thrown over him, the vampire had been thankful that the small gesture had soothed the grumbling brunette. The bleached blond had tip-toed his way around the cabin all day, jumping whenever Xander had snuffled out a request for more tissues or coffee. Even Twatcat had been ordered out of the bedroom, Xander in no mood to pet and tickle their substitute child. The drive from Pennington to Fairbanks had been in silence, the brunette not even mocking the country stations choice of music, only stopping the once to drop the kitten off at the post office and to top up the blood supply.

     As soon as they had arrived at the Farmer's Rest Inn, they had checked in and had been shown their room, Xander crawling into bed and going straight to sleep after he had coughed and hacked his way into telling the vampire not to whinge about the separate single beds. Spike had been at a loss as what to do while his Claimant slept, afraid of provoking a hissy fit if he turned on the radio or television. A glance around the yet again wood panelled room, he had gone down to the front desk to arrange a meal to be sent up. While he had been waiting for the room's electric jug to boil so that he could warm up his blood at least a little, he had nibbled on the plate of hot chips and egg that had arrived at his door. It had ultimately been a lonely night for the vampire, he had slept in his single bed, listening to Xander's congested breathing while just wishing that he had a pair of strong warm arms wrapped around him. Someone to soothe his fears that he would look like a complete retard while doing the course.

     "Right then, day one will be just simple. Learning the Alphabet and our names as well as other important names. Day two will be common things like, please and thank you. How to form sentences and signs for slang. Wednesday, we will be looking at how to utilise the available literature and various resources available including the Internet. On the last day, Thursday, I will be getting you all to give a ten minute talk on any topic of your choice. Megan, because she is so young, she can do a few minutes of whatever she likes. We will use that morning to get everything set up for the talks"

     "Any questions?"

     ~ Can I go home yet? ~

     Sliding further down into his seat, Spike felt the first of his nerves give way. He had been so excited to receive the voucher from Red and Mouse but now, when faced with actually having to learn the language, he was scared. The vampire didn't want to have the label of 'disabled' but it looked like there was no escape from it now. A snort, a glare from Xander and the blond wondered just when he would find a situation to apply this knowledge to anyway. It was Alaska. Sure, they obviously had deaf and mute people in the State but it wasn't as if he would be able to walk down the street and 'sign' words with everybody knowing what the hell he was on about. He was still going to have to rely heavily on his note pad.

     "Now, the first thing is that you are not deaf and dumb. You are both Aurally and Orally challenged or just Orally challenged like Spike"

     A cough and snicker from Xander beside him, Spike allowed himself to just accept the horror of having a politically correct label stuck to him. The snuffling brunette beside him nudged the vampires side with a solid elbow, giggling a little at the word oral.

     ~ Any fucking money she tries to get us into either the gay/lesbian support group for the college, or dance around a sodding tree in an effort to better express ourselves ~

     With another glance at her attendance sheet, Sarah took in the group of people in front of her. The parents of the little girl Megan were quite obviously dickheads. Just part of the new breed of upper white collar class that believed in letting children develop at their own pace. Not a bad thing in theory but debilitating if their child happened to have an undiagnosed problem. Mark and Carol had at first thought that Megan was happy in her own little world, not even thinking that she might have a disability. It was only after she had been almost hit by a truck that they had discovered she was deaf. Head shaken, she looked at the dark haired smiling girl sitting in between her parents. If they had only taken Megan to the audiologist sooner, she would probably have already had a good grip on sign language.

     Dismissing that thought from her head, she turned her attention to the bleached blond male who looked like he was torn between wanting to be here and wanting the earth to swallow him. Spike, nice name she thought, too bad about the weird phobia. Not a bad looking couple either. She had originally thought it was nice of the mute males friend to come with him to the class but just one glace at them and they had practically screamed 'couple'. It wasn't very overt but the brunettes hand on the blonde’s lower back as they had walked through the door had been a dead give away. A slight frown as she heard Xander cough again, grimacing at the sound of building phlegm in the boys chest. Not a good idea for everybody to get sick. She would have to send him down to the colleges on campus pharmacy during the next break. Get him to buy something that would clear up the mucus before it got too bad.

     "Ok. These two gentlemen are Spike and his friend Xander, Spike is orally challenged. This is Mark and Carol with Megan who is both aurally and orally challenged."

     Nose blown, Xander tried to focus on what the blue haired lady was saying. It was hard, everything was looking and sounding strange. He felt like he was in a glass box, able to see and hear everything but not quite with it. A warm bed would have been most welcome at the moment. Another soft giggle that he managed to turn into a cough at the thought of Spike being challenged at providing anything oral, he was sure that his sinuses were just about to explode. Looking at Sarah, he watched as her hands made a few pretty shapes before being told they were the first three letters of the alphabet.

     ~Jesus Christ! This is going to be a loooong day. I need a fucking drink and the whelp needs bed ~

     Sighing, Spike settled down into learning how to sign the alphabet, resisting the urge to offer how to teach the signs he knew to the little girl. He was sure that his phrase of "If you're what’s on offer for tonight’s entertainment, I'm not sorry to say that I would rather tongue kiss a ferret that's been cross bred with a warthog and dipped in a fungus demons entrails", would come in handy for the brat one day. Sure, only a demon from the Vetogr Clan would be able to understand it but it was always the thought that counted.

     ~ Fuck it, might just teach the little shit anyway. Would love to see the parental figures faces when it comes out with that little pearler ~


~*~*~*~*~


     Wednesday 14 Febuary

     Farmer's Rest Inn

     8.13pm

     With one hand, Spike gently rubbed the hurling brunettes back in the hopes of soothing the spasming muscles. Nose wrinkled at the acrid smell floating through the air, he briefly wondered if the youth would be too upset if the vampire rented another room for the night in an effort to escape the noxious odour. A deep gulp of air from the hiccuping male and the blond sighed as the tiolet was gifted with another bit of dinner.

     It was without a doubt now, that Xander would not be going with the vampire to the last day of the Sign Language Course. The brunette had tried his best to keep up with the lessons but with his mind addled with the day/night cold and flu tablets, Xander really wasn't beyond making individual letters. Just the thought of his Claimant being unable to understand the vampire was making Spike not want to go and give his ten minute talk the following morning. Really, what was the point if the person he lived with wasn't going to be able to communicate with him? The only bonus was that he actually recieved a diploma for attending the course. A small thing but one that gave him a certain pride. He had come to terms with being classed as disabled, just thanking the higher beings that he wasn't also deaf like Megan.

     Sarah had turned out to be a great source of dirty jokes much to the disgust of both Mark and Carol. Whenever there had been a break, Sarah, Spike and a sniffling, snorting Xander had swapped all the dirty jokes they knew. The do-gooder family had kept right out of it which had suited the other adults just fine. The only person who had been upset had been the little girl, Megan. She had taken a real shine to Xander, at first sitting on his knee while being bounced up and down by the patiently coughing brunette. Her parents had put a stop to that when they had finally clued into the particular nature of the two men's relationship. The looks of disgust being shot at both Spike and Xander at the beginning of each break had pretty much put up a barrier between the two groups.

     Xander had kicked and sworn his way around the Inn's room at their homophobic attitude, only calming down when his latest handfull of cold and flu tablets kicked in, reducing him to a snoring bundle underneath a thick comforter. The angry youth had been more upset over the possibitlity of Megan growing up gay or bi and having to face that sort of attitude from people who were supposed to love her unconditionally rather than the muttered demeaning words directed at them both whenever they passed Mark and Carol. It had been an eye opener for the vampire. He had been almost sick when he had realised that one day Xander might leave him for someone who could provide him with a child of his own. That the vampire could very well be just a passing phase for the brunette. It was a possibility that Spike refused to entertain.

     ~ He bloody well claimed me though, surely that would count for something? ~

     Reaching over a panting body, Spike pushed the full flush button, grimacing as the smelly mess was flushed down the pipes. Hand wrapped around the shivering male's upper arm, he gently pulled Xander to his feet and guided him back towards the bed. Once the youth was back under the covers, the vampire checked that the electric blanket was on a comfortable setting. He gave the sweaty hair a few sweeps with his pale hand, marvelling at how the boys face was almost as white as his own skin.

     "Mmmmm. I like you. You're pretty!"

     ~ Riiiight! I guess someone is off in LaLa land then ~

     With a snicker, the vampire pulled his hand away from the youth who was so doped up on cold and flu tablets, he was licking whatever skin he could reach with a hot tongue. Spike was tempted to take off his pants and pull out his cock for the boy to lick at but knew that it just wouldn't be worth the beating when Xander was well enough. The bleached blond, while sympathising with the boy, was finding the youths drugged state quite funny to be around. Earlier that evening he had seen Xander holding a pretty intense conversation with himself in the bathroom mirror. Upon being caught out, Xander had sworn black and blue that he had an identical twin, the large brown eyes had brimmed with tears once he had realised that his 'twin' was no longer around to be seen. Spike had had to hold a hand over his mouth to stop his laughs from upsetting the boy any further. Only two minutes later, Xander had loudly demanded a meal of chicken parmigana to be sent up with extra chips and two cans of coke.

     Which out of them had made the youth sick, the vampire wasn't sure but it had only taken ten minutes for the hurried scramble towards the bathroom to be set into motion. A shake of his head at Xanders babbling, Spike checked a red and white striped box for some more cold and flu medication. A groan greeted the room when it was made clear that the box was empty. After a quick read of the ingredients, he saw that the box only provided three days and nights worth of tablets.

     "Do you know my snot is green?"

     ~ Jesus Christ! Thank fuck I'm no longer a human, that is just plain disgusting! ~

     Jaw dropped at the very thought of anything coming from Xanders body being green, the vampire was sure that the colour wasn't a normal human thing. Worried, he made a descion to go straight to the nearest pharmacy to pick up some more drugs for the boy.

     "Hey, If I you know, came right now, would my cum be green?"

     "Errrk, cough!"

     ~ Right thats it. More drugs. Now. Very much right now and sure as hell no sex! ~

     Snapping his jaw shut, Spike quickly wrote a note for the boy. Instructions for him to stay in bed until the bleached blond came back, Spike wasn't suprised to find that his stomach was churning at the thought of green cum. Finally, the vampire knew what was a certain cock drooper if he ever needed one in the future. With a burp, he managed to keep down his own drink of Coke. Keys to the Commadore grabbed, he smiled as just how mental Giles would go if the older human knew the vampire had been driving for the past few days.

     A few taps on the lobby desk saw the desk clerk come to help him. After a few notes had been passed to the chirpy Alaskan Native man, Spike was in the possession of the addresses for all the late night pharmacies in Fairbanks. All seven of them. Samuel had been very helpful indeed, all the while letting his warmer fingers linger over Spikes hand as each note was passed onto him. The vampire had known the other man was attracted to both himself and the whelp as soon as they had stepped through the front doors. The aroma of arousal pouring off the lobby jockey as he had signed them both in.

     Spike had shrugged if off, he was with Xander now and by all rights and traditions, he wasn't allowed to wander off with anyone who took his fancy. It was up to his Claimant to decide who he could do. Xander hadn't taken any notice, more interested in getting into a warm bed for some sleep. A wink from Samuel plainly indicated the other males willingness to participate in more than note passing. Returning the wink, Spike didn't see the harm in teasing the youngster. He really wasn't that bad looking, quite cute in a dusky way.

     But no, he was with Xander and that was that mattered. Still, might be nice to be able to dip his wick for once instead of always getting it up the arse. A thought of a hot wet mouth around his much neglected cock and suddenly the vampires jeans were 3 sizes too tight. Resisting the urge to start wanking right in the middle of the lobby, Spike instead jogged out through the heavy doors, towards the Commadore's parking spot.


~*~*~*~*~


     Twenty minutes later

     ~ What the hell is a mucolactic? Does the Whelp have diabetes? Actually, what the fuck is diabetes? ~

     Standing infront of the large cough/cold and flu display at the first pharmacy, Spike studied the flu preparation he held in his hand. The sheer range of items one could buy was horrifying. If he had known even as few as ten years ago how much humans depended on medication, he would have found a way to invest some money into one of the then emerging companies. Box turned over, he snarled as he saw that it was made by Rainer.

     ~ Bugger! If only I had had just a hundred quid, would be a sodding millionaire by now ~

     He couldn't stop himself for cursing missed opportunities. He had almost laughed himself into a second death when a fellow demon had talked about investing into a newly formed pharmacuetical company. Don't be so fucking stupid had been the bellowed reply from the bleached blond vampire. If only he had known that the emerging company, Rainer, would become the third most requested brand of cough, cold and flu medicines on the pharmacy only market.

     ~ Fuckfuckfuckfuuuuuck! Ok, calming down now. Oh, fucking sod it! Now I have to bloody well pay for the bint of a box ~

     Crushed box held firmly in his tight fingers, the vampire looked around for someone to help him with his purchase. The last thing he wanted to do was buy something that would make the brunette worse than he already was. The busy pharmacy was filled with people who were coughing and spluttering with various ailments.

     ~Errk, don't bloody well touch me! Go away, go on, shoo! ~

     Breifly wishing that every body would just drop dead and leave one person to help him, Spike shuddered as a snotty nosed toddler was chased around the shop by a woman waving a handfull of tissues. Scalp tingling, the vampire had a sudden fear of having another flash while in the shop. Trying to think of soothing scenery as he had been instructed by Giles, Spike was pleased to know exactly what sort of cough Xander had.

     It was a cough.

     Yep, thats right, a cough. But no, just knowing it was a cough apparantly wasn't enough. Was the Whelps cough dry, chest, or just plain irritating. Grabbing a bottle of bright blue liquid that promised to clear the chest as well as the nose, Spike wondered if the boys snot would turn blue once the mixture was taken. Another glance at the crumpled box in his hand and the decsion was made to get some throat lozenges as well. Bypassing the menthol and eucalyptus ones in favour of the yummy blackcurrant flavoured squares, Spike took a long look around before pocketing a few packets as he saw that no-one was looking in his direction.

     ~ Bugger paying for them. Haven't done this in ages. Miss it too! ~

     Items thumped on the counter, he drummed his fingers ontop of the daisy yellow counter as he waited for the sales woman to serve him. Smiles all round as he handed over his eftpos card, he punched in his code at the prompt. Medicine gathered up in its plain paper bag, he headed off towards the sliding door. Just going through and into the cool nights air, he felt his fangs drop as a heavy hand clapped down onto his shoulder.

     "Excuse me Sir, I think you forgot to pay for something. Would you care to come back inside please?"


~*~*~*~*~


     Wednesday 14 Febuary

     Fairbanks Police Station

     10.36 pm

     ~ Bloody Fuck! I can't believe this. Unlife just keeps on piling up the shit. ~

     Shoulder flexed once more, Spike grimaced as the links to the handcuffs jangled against the metal bench he was cuffed to. He didn't mind the handcuffs in the least, if it had only been in a different place. To be a Master vampire and at the mercy of the Fairbanks police was quite an embarrassing situation. The only thing more humiliating was the things he had been arrested for.

     Shoplifting items to the total of $3.45 (three packets of Allens blackcurrant soothers at $1.15 each) Driving without a current license Driving without two number plates Resisting arrest and making a public nuisance of himself

     ~ Stupid sodding plate! How was I to know that constantly taking the back plate on and off all the time would make it fall off eventually? ~

     Sneering to himself, the blonde vampire quickly let his eyes tear up as he caught the arresting officer looking his way. The only thing going for him at the moment was the fact that he couldn't talk, and he could smell the sympathy rolling off the officer whenever he had had to write an answer to the questions fired at him. Spike was trying to milk the emotion for all it was worth and so far, he thought he was doing a great job as the officer kept smiling at him each time he looked in his direction.

     ~ Resisting arrest! All I fucking well did was run to the goddamned car! ~

     As soon as the heavy hand had clapped down on his shoulder, Spike had listened to his instinct and had twisted from the gripping fingers, running down the street, towards where the Commodore was parked. He had heard the heavier male running after him, all the time bellowing for the blonde to stop. Car reached, Spike found he had gripped the bottle of medicine so hard it had broken and was leaking through the paper bag. The result had been a slippery car key that had refused to slide into the car door easily. The vampire had been in the process of a third attempt at opening the door when the large man had caught up with him.

     ~ Arsehole! Stupid fuck should be too fat to run that fast, sure it’s not possible! ~

     Sensing the officer still looking in his direction, Spike let his chin wobble a little, overjoyed at the sudden flood of sympathy directed at him. He had been held until the police had come, the vampire unbelieving as to how serious the whole matter was to the storeowner. With a barely concealed smile, the blonde had been handcuffed and placed into the back of a police car after Officer Sewinski discovered the male had been driving without a licence. Henceforth his little trip down to the larger than imagined police station. Surprisingly enough, it was the first time Spike had ever been arrested.

     A few minutes later and the officer was almost yelling each question at the nervous vampire. Spike was not looking forward to what Xander was going to say about this little incident.

     "NOW, MR LAVELLE. IS THERE SOMEONE WE CAN CALL FOR YOU? DUE TO YOU NOT HAVING A LICENCE, I CAN'T LET YOU DRIVE."

     ~ Oh fuck! The Whelp is so going to tan my hide black and blue over this. Oh and by the way, I'm sodding well mute not deaf, you interbred dumb fuck cousin of a pig! ~

     With a nod, Spike wobbled his chin again as he felt very real tears well up in his large blue eyes. Trying not to wince at the loud level the officer was speaking in, the vampire indicated that he wanted to write with his free hand. Pen and paper shoved towards him, the blonde scrawled the number and name of where he was staying just underneath Xander's name. Slumped against the seat, the demon watched as Officer Sewinski finished typing up his newly established rap sheet and placed it on top of his mug shots. Spike had been surprised to find that he was able to be photographed. When cameras and film had first been invented, vampires and a few other demons were unable to be caught on film and no-one knew why so it had just been shrugged off. Obviously things had gotten better with either the cameras themselves or the film, quite possibly both.

     ~ Not the sodding pictures I wanted to have floating around. ~

     Spike felt his stomach lurch as the officer made contact with The Farmers Rest Inn. The vampire was horrified to find that he was sniffling as he tried to hold his tears back. Sure, the display would get him extra sympathy points but the vampire would end up staking himself due to the embarrassment.

     "I'M SORRY MR LAVELLE, BUT I CAN'T GET ONTO YOUR FRIEND. IS THERE ANYONE ELSE I CAN CALL?"

     Head shaken, the vampire was aghast to find that he was now weeping openly, the officer awkwardly patting at his shoulder in an attempt to soothe him. What the hell was he supposed to do? Walk back to the Inn and come back for the car with the Whelp later on that day? That is of course he was still in the land of the unliving.

     "TELL YOU WHAT, HOW ABOUT I TAKE YOU HOME? YOU AND YOUR FRIEND CAN COME TOMORROW AND PICK UP THE CAR KEYS FROM THE OFFICER ON DUTY. SOUND OK?"

     Another head shake and Spike found himself choking on his sobs, the handcuffs rattling as his whole body shook. Xander was so going to beat him into a second death. Spike knew he would be lucky to just get away with a few broken bones after this. Having an idea, he wrote for Officer Sewinski to call the Inn again and ask for Samuel instead. A nod and he listened to the other man arrange for the desk jockey to come and pick the vampire up in just over two hours.

     "RIGHT. THE YOUNG MAN IS GOING TO PICK YOU UP AFTER HIS SHIFT AT WORK. LUCKY FOR YOU HE DOESN'T MIND DOING IT. I'M GOING TO HAVE TO PUT YOU INTO THE CELLS, BUT IF YOU PROMISE ME NOT TO DO ANYTHING STUPID, I'LL LET YOU KEEP THE PEN AND PAPER, OK?"

     Thanking his lucky stars for a horny Samuel, Spike nodded at the Officer. On his way to the holding cells, he listened as he was told when his court date was for the charges. The vampire was finding it upsetting that he had been nabbed on such stupid charges. Here he was, one fourth of The Scourge Of Europe and all he had done this time was steal three fucking packets of blackcurrant lollies. Cell's reached, Spike caught the scent of something familiar as he grasped the out held pen and paper. Walked through the first of the locked doors, the vampire was pleased to find that his tears were drying up as he yet again smelt the familiar scent wafting around him.

     He knew this scent. He knew whom it belonged to and with that, the vampire started to pant. Unable to summon up the courage to resist, Spike let himself get led through the second locked 7door and into the second cell on his left.

     Right next to the one holding the former Initiative soldier he had never gotten the name of.


~*~*~*~*~


     Thursday 15 February

     Fairbanks Police Station

     12.57 am

     Curled up on the floor, as far away from the former soldier as possible, Spike was counting the minutes until he didn't have to smell the unpleasant scent anymore. He was trying to ignore the lewd whispers and suggestions by doodling on the paper with the black ballpoint pen he had been allowed to keep. The vampire was hoping that Samuel wouldn't forget about him. If Spike had to go through another gang-bang to get out, with all of the staff at the police station and or the Farmers Inn, then the blonde was seriously considering it.

     "And when I stuck my cock up you that last time, damn! I thought I was going to cum so quick. Just hearing you moan like a bitch!"

     With a sigh, Spike looked at the clock hanging over the main door into the cellblock. Shit! He had been here too long for Xander to ignore. The male had been hoping to pass this incident off as one of Xander's drug induced imaginings. Now it looked like it was going to be impossible to do. There was no way he was going to be able to convince the boy that Spike being gone for so long was just in the brunette’s imagination. How the blonde was going to get back to Fairbanks for his court date was something that he really didn't want to think about.

     "Bet I could find out where you live. You would like that wouldn't you? I know you're just aching for me to come and fuck you again."

     Christ! Where the hell was Samuel? He just wanted to be gone and back at his claimant’s side. Maybe he could just get a lawyer and arrange an out of court appearance? They did that on the TV all the time so why not in Alaska? How much would a lawyer really cost? Sensing the large ex-soldier start pacing up and down again, Spike flipped over the page on his note book and continued to doodle. One of Joyce's books had some great designs in it on how to carve images of letters and border work, something that had really caught the blonde’s eye. When he had been a thief, he had almost come undone a few times by trying to shove a couple of ornately carved trinket boxes down his shirt at the last moment, leaving him with almost no time to get back up onto the roof again. He just loved the feel of the wood against his sensitive fingers. He was seriously toying with the idea of applying to do an advanced woodwork course that had instructions on how to carve the delicate features. Unfortunately, the sketching of such designs wasn't helping to distract from the soldier in the next cell.

     "You know, it would be real easy for you to go missing."

     Pen snapped at those words, Spike swallowed convulsively at the undercurrent of menace in the soldier’s voice. How the hell one of the Initiative soldiers had come to be in the police station at the same time he did, was something that was stumping him completely. Spike knew that the taller man had probably been arrested for drunken behaviour, the stench of alcohol intermingled with old sweat was disgusting, but why he was in Fairbanks was still the most important question of all.

     "Riley told me you had moved to the great state of Alaska with that useless prick, Harris. Laughed myself stupid at that. Should have seen the Slayer, almost keeled over from laughing herself while Riley was telling the rest of us."

     Stomach clenched in embarrassment, the vampire wasn't surprised to find he was about to cry again. This time, it was more in sadness for Xander. The Whelp had stood by Buffy for so long and with what thanks? None it looked like. The stupid bitch was forgetting that Xander had saved all of their lives at one time or the other. With a thought that at least Giles and the two witches weren't too bad, Buffy's standing on the vampires totem pole slid until she was now lower than his human mother. A mean feat indeed.

     "You see, it's funny. I just happened to be approached by one of my former superiors and asked if I wanted a job recruiting for the army. Not a problem, I said. The first assignment being in the state of Alaska as soon as the winter started to diminish. Met a few guys in Anchorage in the first weeks, went well too. Signed up lots of guys and a few girls as well. Moved to Fairbanks. Haven't liked it up to now."

     "Bosses said that I could make either city my base. Looks like it might just be Fairbanks. Things are looking up."

     Fear crawled all through the vampire’s body at the words. He had a good idea of what the former soldier was getting at and the blonde didn't like it one bit.

     "Bet Harris has no idea of where you are just now, does he?"

     "Hey! You look at me boy!"

     With an effort, Spike managed to sniff back his emerging tears and looked over at the man who was taunting him. Trying to keep his gaze steady, the vampire felt the first tear slide down his face as he obediently dropped his eyes in an all too submissive gesture.

     "Least you know your place bitch!"

     "Does that useless little shit know where you are? No, hang on. If he does, he would be here by now, wouldn't he?"

     A barely perceptible shake of his head and Spike felt a few more tears spring up in his eyes.

     "I can find you so easy. All I have to do is request to be let into the stations records. Just tell them that I have to check up on the background of a few applicants. Won't even take me ten minutes."

     Groaning at the thought, the vampire wondered again just where Samuel was at this very moment. He hoped that the other man hadn't gone home for a quick shower and splash of aftershave. Somehow, he knew that this was precisely what Samuel had done. The vampire couldn't even find it in himself to be remotely flattered. Spike knew that his payment for getting sprung by the Alaskan would be a romp in an unoccupied room of the Inn and it really didn't bother him at all as long as Xander didn't find out.

     "Why don't you just save me the trouble and tell me now where you live. Really looking forward to going out on the town with one of my old friends, William."

     A dry retch from the vampire and Spike was ashamed to hear the soldier laughing at his distress. Shifting himself, the blonde crept closer into the corner of his cell, his gaze on the floor in front of him.

     "Come on Gimpboy, make it easy on yourself. I can get you out when I get free if you like? My housemate is on his way up with my bail. Has to come from Anchorage but I'm sure you could make it worth his while, couldn't you?"

     At the sound of the main cellblock door being opened, Spike was in tears when he saw the friendly face of Samuel standing just behind a policeman he hadn't seen before. Two minutes later the vampire was listening to the Alaskan apologising for not coming sooner, the person meant to take over his shift was sick and he had had to call around for another worker. Head nodding, Spike didn't give a shit as long as he just got out of the station. As he was leaving, the former soldier whispered a sentence that made his stomach twist.

     "The name is Deihl. You'll soon know me real well boy."

     Shuddering, Spike brushed past both Samuel and the officer, wiping at his tears. He tried not to snatch the clean handkerchief offered to him by a chirpy Samuel. The vampire was anxious to get back to the Inn, get screwed by the desk jockey and receive his beating from Xander. Thankfully Samuel kept his mouth shut until they were out of the station and standing just out front in the crisp night air. A watery smile at the sympathetic lobby captain, Spike quickly wrote what happened, leaving out the shoplifting.

     "Oh, that’s alright. I don't actually have a licence myself. Keep forgetting to renew it. Don't worry, lets just get you back to that luscious man of yours."

     A quickly written question of if Xander was alright, the vampire was somewhat pleased to know that Samuel had gone upstairs and had knocked on the room's door in an attempt to wake the slumbering boy but with no success. With a sigh of relief, the demon was thinking that Xander might have just slept through the phone ringing in the room and the knock at the door as well. Hopefully, he wouldn’t have to tell the brunette anything, especially if he was able to arrange things with a lawyer.

     Walking down the main street, towards where the Commodore was parked, Spike wondered if the young lad was going to be able to handle the V8 on such icy looking roads. The car was old but it had a hell of a lot of grunt in it. It was hard to handle if you weren't used to it and he was sure that Samuel hadn't been behind the wheel in anything more heavy duty than a 20 year old two door hatchback. This would not be a good time to kiss a tree amidst twisted car wreckage and flames.

     A good 20 minutes later, Spike and a shivering puffed Samuel were standing in front of a frosty Commodore. The vampire smiled thinly as the Alaskan did the usual four tire kick and then unlocked the drivers side door, a few 'icks' at the dried crusty remnants of cough syrup coating the door lock making themselves known. His door unlocked, Spike slid into the drivers side as Samuel rested a warm hand on the cool upper thigh. The vampire knew that if he could blush, he would have been bright red by now. In all reality, it should have been his claimant that was helping him get out of the hole he had dug for himself.

     "You don't want this mentioned to your boyfriend do you?"

     At the shake of Spikes head, Samuel told the vampire that they would go through the staff entrance and up to the fourth floor.

     ~ Well, that’s it then. All that’s left to decide now is what Sammy wants me to do to him. ~

     In an echo of what was going through his mind, Samuel informed the pale man of what he wanted from the vampire. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Just a blowjob. Samuel giving it though. That was something the vampire was more than happy to comply with. It had been too long since someone had blown him and he almost came in his pants at the mere thought of it. Spike though that he was lucky, he had been under the impression that he would be getting a warm cock up his arse that night. A simple blowjob and one that he didn't even have to provide was something he could handle.

     The drive back to the Inn was quiet, Samuel proving to be adequate in handling the cantankerous car. Obviously experienced on icy roads. A quick stop at an auto teller for the vampire and Spike was happy to pay back the $300.00 Samuel had paid out for bail. Laughing, the Alaskan told the older man that he had taken it out of the petty cash tin in the office. Grunting, Spike just nodded, having no idea what a petty cash tin was. Car parked in the spot reserved for his room's number, Spike was taken quickly around the back entrance by a very horny smelling desk jockey.

     They were able to get to the lobby elevator without getting seen by the night clerk, button pushed for floor four. Both men almost jogged down the hallway to room number 413, tumbling into the room. The air in the cold room was tinged with lust and nervousness. Spike suddenly wanted to ask if the other man had ever provided a blowjob before. Spike felt his skin crawl as he realised that he wouldn't be able to let the other man go through with it. Spike was a demon and his face would change the minute Samuel put his hot mouth around his cool penis. He was pretty sure the instant his face changed, Samuel would be shrieking for his life as the desk jockey ran down the carpeted hallway.

     With a sigh, the vampire was stumped as he continued to let the other male pet and caress him through his too tight jeans. The only other options was if he fucked Samuel so that the younger man's face was turned away or if he blindfolded Samuel. The demon wasn't sure of how either option would be taken let alone just how to convey the idea without his note pad. The Alaskan would be noticing how cool he was almost immediately anyway and it would only take a few minutes before Samuel clicked that something wasn't quite right with Spike.

     Spike resisted the urge to fang straight out as he found a warm hand stroking his cool shaft.

     "I really wanted to blow your boyfriend but I guess you will do."

     Pulling back slightly, the blonde gently grasped at the younger man before he was completely on his knees. Would it be possible to do? Surely if Xander was as drugged out as he had been before his little incident at the police station, then maybe the brunette wouldn't notice the difference between the vampires mouth and Samuel's mouth. Maybe he would think it was just a weird dream? No, it just wouldn't be worth it if Xander twigged during the act. The vampire wasn't ready to die just yet. It was better to just cut his losses and try and think of a way out of his up and coming court appearance.

     "I'm sorry, that was a really stupid thing to say wasn't it?"

     A shrug of his shoulders and Spike let the boy sink fully to his knees in front of him. His zipper undone, the vampire groaned at the warm breathe blown across his penis. Hissing as a hot tongue tentatively touched the weeping slit. Any minute now he was going to fang out at the boy. Spike gasped for unneeded air as his cock was introduced to a hot cavern, his pale hands intertwining with Samuels’s thick hair. Unable to stop himself, the vampire started to pump in and out of the eager boy's mouth. It had just been way too long for the demon and he knew that he would be coming very soon. Hopefully Samuel wouldn't mind.

     "Mmmm. You're so cool, it's..it's weird. I like it though, maybe this room needs more heating."

     Little whining noises came from deep within his chest as the youth momentarily let his rock hard penis slide out of the hot mouth for a few seconds. Slowly, he felt his pupils starting to change, his fangs just dropping, prompting the vampire to close his eyes and mouth. Two hot hands were gripped around his slender hips as Spike felt the warm tongue sliding underneath and around his pale shaft. Any minute now. A little glance and he saw that Samuel had his eyes closed, deep in concentration. The hands clenching his cool flesh tightly, the demon was amazed when he felt the youths throat relax, enabling him to take Spikes penis fully into his mouth. Jesus! If he had been without his chip, he would be turning this one just for his head skills. Some men were addicted to giving head and this one was certainly skilled enough to have done it numerous times.

     Hips pumping back and forth in a steady rhythm, Spike could feel his balls smacking into a solid chin. Something that was drawing him closer to the edge. He was almost hypnotised by the flares of heat being thrown of the man in front of him. They were rolling off the youth in steady waves like a slightly wind whipped ocean tide.

     ~ Oh God! Almost there...almost..uh, oh! ~

     "Mmgrt...'yes grunt'"

     ~ Oh, yes...yes! ~

     ~Grrraaahhhhrrr!~

     "Grggnt..ack.ngt!"

     In an instant, Spike closed his eyes, mouth open slightly as he panted with not needed breath. His hips were still slowly pumping towards Samuel, the last of his cool cum pouring down the welcoming throat. Fuck! It had just been way too long since a human or warm demon had done this to him. He was already hoping that Samuel would want another round before Xander and himself left the next evening just after sunset. The vampire felt his pants slow down as he ran his fingers slowly through the still kneeling boy's hair. Lip bitten, the demon whined as his spent cock slid out of the warm mouth. Maybe he could work on convincing Xander that sucking cock wouldn't mean he was less dominant?

     "Um,...that was good!"

     His eyes now returned to normal, Spike was somewhat annoyed by that fact that his fangs were refusing to withdraw.

     ~Fuck! Thought that they were all sorted out, was more worried about my sodding eyes! ~

     With the unpleasant thought of another flash rendering him unconscious before he reached Xander's side, the vampire wondered if Samuel would get offended if the blonde just ran away. Spike resisted laughing at the Alaskan as he watched the youth tuck his limp penis carefully back into his boxers, gently zippering him up.

     "Come on, I'll walk you to the lift."

     Samuel stuck his head out of the door and with a quick check, he saw that the coast was clear. The lift made in what was quite possible record time, Samuel gave Spike a peck on the cheek. With a comment for the vampire to get more iron in his diet, the Alaskan stunned the demon with his next words.

     "Uh, Mr. LaVelle. Arrange for me to be able to blow your boyfriend before you leave tomorrow and I'll just forget that you are technically released into my care, ok?"

     With that, Samuel stepped back from the lift and made a comment about how he liked to provide only the best in customer service for all the Inn's guests, a wide grin plastered on his face.

     The lift door closing, Spike rode out the first jerk that saw it descend to the second floor. Jesus Christ! The little bastard. He should have known that there would have been more to it than just the one blowjob. Maybe they could leave before Samuel came back onto duty? But then again, Samuel could just as easily call Xander at home one night with the tale of the police station. Slowly walking down the hall towards his own room, Spike wondered just what else could go wrong in his unlife.

     Door quietly opened, the vampire was relieved to see Xander still curled up in bed. In what was the exact position he had been in when the vampire had left. The soft snoring reaching the demons ears, oddly it was comforting to him. With a check on the boys heart rate, Spike was finally assured that the boy was truly asleep and not faking it. He quickly shucked off his clothing. Spike needed a shower to get the little arseholes saliva off his dick. It was not something he wanted to sleep with. He was not going to think about Diehl or Samuel until the next morning.


~*~*~*~*~


     Thursday 15 February

     The Farmers Rest Inn

     5.37 pm

     Clothes grabbed and shoved into the last bag, Spike thought over just what had occurred in the last hours. The vampire had successfully completed his first ever schooling, certificate and all. His name was printed in large fancy pitch black letters.

William Lavelle
has
Obtained Level One (1)
Sign Language Skills




     Spike had never been to school before. All his education had been provided by his thieving mentor, once turned, Angelus. He could still remember the numerous beatings he had suffered through while learning how to read and write. The only thing he wasn't too keen on, was the name Lavelle. Where the Whelp had come up with that one from, the vampire had no idea. He wasn't actually too sure what his real surname was, his mother had never told him who his father had been and it was entirely possible that she hadn't known either. When he had lived with his mother, he had been known as Blue Eyed Will. Once a thief, he had been William the Bloody Light Fingered, shortened to William the Bloody after being turned.

     The vampire had been using the surname given to him by the boy for a while but now seeing it in such important black lettering, he had realised that he had never bothered to wonder why that name. He was going to have to ask, it was just a little too foofy for his taste but he was sure the surname Bloody would draw more questions.

     With all the stress of his trip to jail, the Initiative soldier and the turd Samuel, he had been unable to come up with something for his ten minute speech. Something he had thought about while waiting for Xander to get out of the shower that morning. The boy had woken up feeling a little better, privately the vampire thought that he still looked like a poster child for South African acid spitting zombies. Nasty buggers, they were! Lots of coughing later, they were both sitting in the classroom watching Megan give her five-minute talk on rainbows and flowers, her parents beaming from ear to ear. Mark gave his talk on how to tell the difference between numerous types of salmon and trout. Spike had been unable to hide a shudder, he hated fish and nothing was going to change his mind, least of all a homophobic dickhead. Carol slowly told the group how to cook a batch of cookies that were guaranteed to turn you diabetic with all the chocolate.

     Finally, it had been Spikes turn after the morning break. Unable to think of a subject, he fell back onto what he knew. Demons. He had had them all spellbound as he told the group about a special Barbie like girl who was like David to the demons' Goliath. Sarah had had to eventually tell him to wrap it up as he had gone over his ten minutes. A glance at Xander and his undead heart had leapt at the look of nasally sniffling pride. Xander had been last but due to his being unable to keep up with the class, Sarah had just gotten him to recite the alphabet, sign everybody's names and a few of the courtesy phrases they had all learnt on day two.

     Sarah had told Xander that if he was able to video a ten minute speech and post it to her, she would send him a certificate after viewing it. It was this that silenced the protests of Mark and Carol. They had started to harp on about the unfairness of Xander getting his certificate on the basis of him not doing his speech much to the annoyance of the rest of the class. A few twiddled thumbs later and a good bye to Sarah, the two males ignored, the family had left early after being handed their certificates. Xander, Spike and Sarah had taken the opportunity to have a few drinks in the student bar on the large campus. The afternoon had been fairly pleasant, the vampire thinking that Sarah would get on like a house on fire with their group of friends back in Pennington.

     Eventually, Sarah said goodbye and after exchanging phone numbers with Xander, she had taken the opportunity to go home early. Spike and Xander had decided to walk the alcohol off by strolling around the various corridors, stopping to giggle at a dramatic arts class before being told to go away. They had stumbled onto the library and a whole section of shops specifically for the students so that they wouldn't have to venture into the central Fairbanks during school hours. Xander had pounced on the mobile communications shop, intent on getting the discussed beeper. Spike had wandered around the other shops aimlessly while waiting for the brunette to complete his purchase, the vampires mind on what to do about Samuel.

     The whole car trip back once it got dark enough for the blonde, Xander had prattled on about how to use the beeper. Spike had had numerous pieces of paper shoved at him, the vampire barely taking notice as his panic had mounted about the native Alaskan. Sure enough, as soon as they had pulled up at the Inn and had gone inside, Samuel's head had popped over the lobby desk and he had greeted them both with a hearty smile and a wink for Spike once Xander wasn't looking.

     Bag stuffed to the brim, Spike waited for Xander to finish his own packing before moving downstairs. Spike had a plan. Not a very good one but it was a plan nonetheless. Elevator taken, Xander leaned over and gave the vampire a soft kiss on the cheek that had the blonde grinning from ear to ear. Spike leaned in close and gave the brunettes neck a long sweep with his cool tongue, Xander moaning in delight. The vampire felt the first stirrings of his cock, something that was exciting until Xander sneezed, sniffled and grunted at the excess mucus in his throat. The two men looked at each other with matching grimaces, Xander telling the vampire that they would be taking it slow for the next few days. Nodding, Spike was in wholehearted agreement.

     Spike knew that he was officially virgin tight again. It was going to hurt no matter how slow Xander was going to take it and he was more than likely going to bleed and tear for the next few days. The vampire was in two minds about if he should tell the brunette. On one hand, he wanted to tell the youth so that Xander would make sure that he did take it slow and gentle but he didn't want to tell the whelp because the vampire knew that his rebounding tightness would be used against him in the future. As soon as Xander got into one of his hissy fits, especially the slow to boil ones. Needless to say, Spikes stomach was roiling at the choice.

     Xander took the bags from the vampire, carrying them out to the car after Spike gestured that he wanted to talk to Samuel. While up in the room, the vampire had spun a little tale that he had spent some time downstairs with Samuel while Xander had been sleeping with the flu. Xander had apologised for being sick and spoiling what could have been a fun week for them both. The bleached blonde had accepted the apology with a smile, hoping to god that the brunette never found out just how much 'fun' the vampire had had without him. Once he was sure that Xander was occupied with the bags, Spike gave Samuel a smile and a 'come hither' look.

     With a sniff, Spike could smell the increasing arousal from the native Alaskan. Drawing the other male down to the furthest end of the large lobby desk, the blonde quickly wrote a note that although Xander wasn't interested, Spike would be more than happy to give the desk jockey a blow before leaving. Samuel read the words quietly. It wasn't what he wanted and just as he looked up to snap his protest, he caught sight of the pale man's face.

     Spike let his fangs drop and his pupils change as soon as Samuel lowered his head to read the note. He was hoping that the look of his demon eyes and the glint of his fangs would be enough to scare the man into keeping his mouth shut. His chip shouldn't go off, as he technically wasn't hurting anyone, and really not even threatening anyone. As far as his chip should be concerned, the vampire was letting his demon out for just a little moment.

     Another sniff and the bleached blonde could smell the arousal come to an abrupt halt, the aroma of terror quickly filling the lobby. He smiled widely so that Samuel could see his razor sharp fangs. Placing a finger across his lips, the vampire gently shook his head as the other man opened his mouth to scream. Spike heard the desk jockey's jaw snap shut, Samuel nodded vigorously at the blonde’s gesture. Writing a note telling the other man to forget about the jail incident, Spike felt his knees go weak as Samuel continued to nod his head.

     Spike gently patted at the other man's shoulder, ignoring the flinch of the slender shoulders. Thank god that he had at least some of his game face back! Now all he had to worry about was the Initiative soldier finding him.


~*~*~*~*~


     Spike and Xander’s cabin in Pennington

     Friday, 16 February

     10.43pm

     ~ Mmmmmm, right there! very nice Pet, please keeeeeep gooooiiinnng...ahhhhhhh ~

     The scent of chocolate wafted through the warm cabin as the vampire lay on his stomach, his head supported upon his crossed arms. His half erect cock was being thoroughly mashed into the rumpled comforter beneath him, but for the moment Spike couldn't have given a toss. He was in heaven.

     "Is that nice? Do you want me to go harder?"

     ~ Jesus Whelp, this is bloody perfect! ~

     Large warm hands stroked slowly up and down the pale back, tracing the firm muscles that rippled just below the silky surface. Long sweeping strokes that started from the vampires nape, gently touching each vertebra as the oily hands reached the final destination of the perfect buttocks. The ripe flesh given total dedication for a few minutes, Xander shuffled himself backwards, ending up between the firm pale thighs.

     "You do know that I'm going to have to lick this off you don't you?"

     At the vampires strangled moan, Xander snickered, pouring a generous amount of chocolate massage oil over the blondes left thigh. He barely managed to catch the dripping lotion before it greeted the comforter, using both hands to work the oil down to the twitching knee. Firmer sweeping motions interwoven with occasional rolls of the pale flesh, Xander started on the slim calf muscles, ending up giving the sole of the foot a few feathery touches as Spike proved to be ticklish. Laughing, the brunette turned to give the other leg the same treatment.

     ~ Xannndderrr...soooo goooood! Love you ~

     "I'm proud of you Spike, you did really well. I'm going to get the certificate framed after I send a copy to Willow and Tara."

     Xander really was proud of the vampire. The blonde had put aside his fears, his resentment and embarrassment of being unable to speak and had put all his efforts into the course. The youth was still feeling guilty that he hadn't been able to keep up with the class. He knew how much it must have bored the vampire to potter around the Inn while Xander was in bed after each day at school. Xander was just thankful that boredom hadn't gotten Spike into any trouble. Anyway, the bleached blonde had been quite helpful a few times, carrying the youth into the bathroom when necessary. The massage was a small thank you, the chocolate massage oil however was a big bonus.

     Hearing the vampire trying to smother his giggles as Xander reached the right foot, the brunette told the vampire to turn onto his front. Xander knelt back onto his feet, positioned in-between the blondes thighs. Annoyance settled over the youth as he saw the struggle it was for the vampire to relax in that position. He had apologised for the attack, he shouldn't have to do it again. Xander watched as Spike’s expression went from pure fear to defiance, finally settling on uneasy acceptance. It was a start, hopefully with enough time, Spike would smile willingly whenever Xander wanted the traditional missionary position, something that the youth was determined to enjoy again.

     "X.a.n.d.e.r."

     Xander was captivated by the way the long fingers made the intricate letterings for his name, the former annoyance sliding away as he realised something. From memory, it was the first time that the vampire had ever used his real name, the two toned grunt not even being considered anymore. Softly he whispered,

     "Again."

     "X.a.n.d.e.r."

     With a hand reached out, the brunette lightly touched the cool fingers as his name was spelt out, letter by letter. Spikes blue eyes were wide as he heard the heartbeat accelerate. The youths fingers felt like they were scorching his own as they ran over the vampires hands as he was signing his claimant’s name. The position was unsettling but he wasn't really paying attention as he took in the brunettes flushed face, the youths breathing getting a little heavier.

     ~ Sodding heck! The whelp is kinky for this signing shit! Strike me speechless, no..wait. That’s already been done ~

     "C.l.a.i.m.a.n.t."

     "Jesus Spike, say my name again. Say it in full."

     ~Whoa...I think this is new uncharted territory for kinkdom, not that I'm complaining. As long as he fucks me in a different position that is. ~

     With a grin at the brunette, he moaned only a second later as a large warm hand encircled his hard cock. Eyes closed for just a moment, Spike snapped them open again at his claimants request, surprised to see that Xander had his other hand firmly around his own thick penis. Allowing his hips to thrust lightly up into Xander’s hand, the vampire racked his brains for the right sign for 'H'. Once found, he started the request.

     "X.a.n.d.e.r H.a.r.r.i.s."

     The speed picked up on the handjob, Spike couldn't help but wonder if Xander would jump him in the supermarket or out shopping each time the vampire signed. After a thought, the vampire was sure it was going to be a good thing. Eyes yellowing, Spike felt his fangs drop as the youth thumbed over the vampires weeping slit, using the pre-cum to lubricate the shaft.

     "Alexander Lavelle Harris. Do it Spike, fucking say it!"

     Both males were panting as Xander kept a firm grip on their respective cocks, his hands pumping as steady identical rhythm.

     "A.l.e.x.a.n.d.e.r L.a.v.e.l.l.e H.a.r.r.i.s."

     "Mmmmm. You’re talking to me..using my name, your hands...your face. Fucking beautiful."

     ~ So that's where the name came from. I really am his, he wouldn't give me his name if he didn't want me. ~

     Harder and faster, the firming grip on his cock was driving Spike close to the edge and from the smell, Xander was just about to come. The vampire whined as the brunette let go of his cock, only to gasp as he found that the whelp had gotten more massage oil. The feeling was divine, his sensitive balls being touched every now and again by Xander’s large fingertips.

     "Who do..do you b.belong to?"

     "Y.o.u."

     With a roar, Xander shot over Spike’s groin, both his hands and the vampire’s penis. As soon as he felt the warm cum coat his cock, Spike sliced his tongue on one of his fangs, letting the taste of his own blood tip him over the edge. Grunting as the brunette slowed down his actions, Spike found himself hauled up so that he was sitting opposite Xander. Gently, the vampire was kissed, a warm tongue probing inside his cooler mouth.

     ~ Well, if the signing turns him on so bloody much then its safe to assume no more broken fingers in the future. ~

     Xander broke the long kiss, gasping slightly for breath. The sheer beauty of the language had been overwhelming. He liked it, he liked it a lot. It was just pure artistry. Finally, he was able to understand and speak a language. Pulling away from the vampire for a moment, he slowly did his own signing.

     "S.p.i.k.e."

     Rewarded with a hungry kiss, the two sated males sank down on the mattress, experimenting with various signs into the early hours of the morning. Laying spooned against each other, they succumbed to sleep, oblivious to the spilt massage oil leaking into the mattress.


~*~*~*~*~


     Monday, 19 February,

     9.35 am

     After having racked his brains for pretty much the whole morning since waking up, Spike knew that the only person able to help him was Lukas. The blonde vampire was still a little hesitant to ask the Kava demon, especially after the larger man had been so nosy regarding Spikes relationship with Xander.

     Walking in the darkness towards the Post Office, he was unsure of how to ask for the other demons help. He really had no choice anyway. The bleached blonde needed a social security number, a birth certificate, and a life’s history background. Why? Simple really, he needed to get a current drivers licence, and the birth certificate and social security number were mandatory when applying.

     The other thing he needed was a lawyer experienced in dealing with demons, someone that the Fijian was sure to know. If not Lukas, then the vampire’s employers would know someone. He just wanted this thing over and done with. The sooner it was dealt with, then the less chance of Xander ever finding out.

     A hiss escaped him as he stumbled over a hidden tree root, the protesting muscles in his anus making themselves known. After a whole week of non-penetration sex, he had been virgin tight again, Xander ripping and tearing Spike as he had sunk slowly into a trembling vampire. The vampire had eventually told his Claimant about his rebounding virginity on the previous Saturday morning, just as Xander started to loosen the blonde up.

     Xander had been puzzled as to why the vampire wasn't loosening up as usual. The brunette had been shocked at the very thought, and true to his word, the youth had taken the vampire as slowly as possible. Spike had clenched his teeth, trying not to let any of the small whimpers of pain get loud enough for the boy to hear. As soon as Xander had started to batter his way into the vampire, he had torn, each thrust ripping at his insides. Something that would continue until he was once again used to being sodomized.

     The brunette had gently wiped at the blood and cum that had coated the white thighs, dabbing tentatively at the bruised anus with a warm washcloth, the vampire trying to hold back his tears as he knew that Xander would get angry if he caught the vampire crying. Spike had given the boy a blowjob as had been demanded after an hour, Xander giving him a brief respite. Later that night, the bleached blonde acknowledged that he had made the right decision not to tell the youth of how Angelus used to punish his youngest Childe, holding back from having sex with him until a week or more had gone by, then brutally raping the newly virginal flesh in the cruellest and hardest possible ways.

     He loved Xander with all that he was capable of, but it didn't mean that he trusted the brunette and deep down, he knew that one day the youth would certainly follow Angelus' footsteps. The vampire knew that the boy liked to give it rough but if Xander waited until the blonde was used to it again, then he would be happy.

     The Post Office looming in the distance, Spike found himself looking forward to seeing the other demon again. Lukas may be nosy but he was a fellow demon, someone who understood the intricacies of living amongst unsuspecting humans. As much as Spike liked his bosses, ultimately that was what they were, his financial superiors. Fellow demons as well but Spike and the owners of the Chinese restaurant were divided by employer and employee relations. Spike couldn't risk pissing them off during a drunken socialising and losing his job, he needed it more than ever now.

     Feet wiped at the 'Welcome' mat, the vampire snickered. Even some demons didn't know about all aspects of vampire lore. Door pushed open, Spike walked to the counter and rang the brass bell. While waiting for the Kava demon, the blonde wondered just how much this was going to cost him and what he would have to do if money wasn't the answer.

     "Hey Spike, good to see you. How was the course, you like Fairbanks? Want a beer or blood?"

     "L.u.k.s.s.....L.u.k.a.s."

     Frowning a little at his mistake, the vampire nevertheless got it right on the second attempt. He smiled widely as the demon correctly guessed that it was his own name that had just been signed. Arm grabbed, the vampire found himself being dragged towards the steps leading down to the large walk in fridge. Lukas babbled about what Steph had ended up calling her baby girl as he got out an assortment of blood bags. Moose, caribou, cow and something new. Taking a look at the light pink blood filling one of the bags, Spike arched his eyebrow at the taller man.

     "Go on, taste it. I want your opinion, go on...don't be such a wuss."

     ~ It poisons me and I'll bloody well make sure that the last thing I do is rip your brains from your head via your sodding toenails ~

     Spike gave the fellow demon a smile, wondering just what could produce such pale blood and not really sure if he should take the challenge. Only a second later, he thought that any free blood was good blood. A small tear in one corner of the thick plastic and the vampire took a whiff.

     ~ Never smelt that before, wonder what it is? ~

     Actually that was a lie, he had smelt something very similar a few times before but he couldn't place where he knew it from, but he was sure that it was some sort of animal blood and not demon as he had first suspected. The bag given a roll in his hand, careful not to spill any out of the small slit, he was wary as he saw how thin the liquid looked.

     "It won't hurt you, won't bite either. Its pretty much karked it."

     ~ Fuck off smart arse, it just looks really...um, what’s the word that Red uses...'icky'. ~

     Bag held up to his mouth, Spike took a small sip. The fluid rolled around his mouth, the flavour strange but not entirely unpleasant even with it being cold. Another larger sip and he found himself surprised at how nicely the bloods flavour settled down. It was nice, it was cold but it was nice. A few gulps later and the blood was finished, the vampire patting his full stomach.

     "You like it?"

     At Spikes nod, the Kava demon happily told the vampire that it was salmon blood, mixed together with a little bit of cod blood. A second later, the vampire was running to the toilet, Lukas feeling a little confused, slowly followed. Shoulders shrugged at the retching sounds from the bathroom, Lukas proceed to wander down to the kitchen. Two beers gotten out, he popped the caps off both as he waited for the vampire to make his appearance.

     Mouth wiped, the vampire now knew how the Whelp had felt after discovering what the Eskimo Ice-cream was made up of. He felt a flood of sympathy go towards the youth, it wasn't nice to discover something you like was ultimately made from truly vile things. He hated fish. All types of fish, the only ones he had a grudging respect for were the Great White Shark and piranha. Good kick arse fish. Cod liver oil, that was where he had placed it from, his mother had forced the occasional large spoonful down his throat as a child, supposedly preventing some sort of cough or cold. Another wipe with the toilet tissue, Spike flushed the remains of his breakfast. Hands washed, he ventured into the kitchen.

     "I thought you liked it? Too thin, does it need bulking up?"

     ~ Gack! Its nice to taste but the reality of what it is will never convince me to take another sip. ~

     Writing it down for Lukas to read, he wasn't amused when the other demon told him that the mixture was what Rhonda had come up with for a summer supplement. Apparently the other vampire was going to send a few of her minions up before summer started so that they could get her houses ready for when she came down in the next winter.

     ~ Ello, looks like next winter will be a lay low. Me and the Whelp staying right out of the way. ~

     Tuned back into what the demon was saying, he was surprised to find that the fish blood supposedly took the edge off the summer grogginess. At his question, Spike was told that Rhonda had been working on something to help with the problem of 'vampire summer hibernation' for as long as she had been vacationing in Alaska. She was continually annoyed that her minions couldn't function properly during summer if left alone in Alaska.

     With a nod, he agreed with Lukas that it would be good to find something that wouldn't make him continually groggy through the up and coming season. He listened to the other demon describe how last year, Rhonda had sent a month old minion, accompanied by one of her oldest, to Anchorage for the summer with the direct instructions of the new minion only to have the fish mixture with the older one having both human and the fish mixture. After hearing the reports, Rhonda had been happy to tell Lukas that although the minion was stupid anyway, it had still been groggy but no where as near as any others that had been subjected to the Alaskan summer. The older minion had apparently also been greatly improved.

     ~ So, still not keen on the idea of fish, no matter how nice it is. ~

     With a sip of his beer, the vampire gestured towards the living room, letting Lukas lead the way. Spike ended up staying through the still brief sunny period, leaving just as it started to get dark. Around 4 pm. Walking home, he was pleased everything had gone so well. In two weeks, he would have a current birth certificate, a driver’s licence and a meeting with a lawyer at the Post Office. He had ended up laughing with Lukas as he had told the other demon of his escapades while staying in Fairbanks, looking at it now, he could laugh about his arrest.

     He had however valiantly not thought about the abusive ex-soldier. When Diehl was going to crop up again, and no doubt he would, was anybody’s guess. What Spike was going to do when Diehl made his move, he really didn't know. The vampire just hoped that nothing of his arrest got back to the Slayer, she would tell Red and Mousegirl who would then squeal it down the phone to Xander. Hello broken bones!

     His stomach beginning to twist at the mere thought, Spike picked up his pace, wondering if a few Mylanta tablets would soothe his stomach.


~*~*~*~*~


     21 Wednesday 2001

     5.32 pm

     "I can't fucking believe it! Can you?"

     Pacing up and down, the tall brunette was gesturing madly to the smaller blond who was nestled into the couch. Head shaken at the question, Spike sat quietly as his Claimant rode out his anger.

     "I mean, after all the complaints about him you would think that they wouldn't renew his contract again, but apparently there isn't enough people employed by the company for them to let go of such a, and I quote, 'valuable and experienced staff member'."

     A resounding snort ricocheted around the room as the blond vampire realised just what he was hearing. Stan, the troublemaker of Xander's work crew, was staying. His contract had just been renewed for another two years, which meant the brunette would be coming home in a bad mood at least once a week. Even after the younger man had laid into Stan at Mac's party, the older Alaskan still baited Xander, making homophobic comments at every opportunity.

     Since coming out, Xander had been somewhat supported by his workmates. As long as the brunette didn't get any ideas about touching one of them, then they were pretty much alright about it. Stan, however, continued to try and get a few of the more narrow-minded ones to stir up some trouble with the youth, Mac and Josesse putting a stop to any trouble straight away. Unfortunately, that only led to Stan commenting about Xander being favoured by the crew boss, creating even more tension between the two men.

     Spike hoped that the angrily pacing youth would continue to try and ignore the comments that were directed daily towards him.

     "And you know what? That fuckhead had the nerve to come up to me and tell me that because I had been blowing both Mac and Josesse, I couldn't have been that good because he was still staying. Apparently, my Master Plan of getting him fired by sucking up to the boss hadn't worked."

     ~ Bloody fuck! I'm with you Pet. Wish I had this sodding chip out, the prick wouldn't be a problem then. Few hours torture and things would be fine again ~

     The vampire rubbed at his tingling scalp as the chip reacted to his thoughts. Not much pain, just a sharp slap above both ears, slowly disintegrating into a dull throbbing. It would go away in a few minutes, just one of the usual warnings from the chip. A deep purring echoed from the sleepy kitten curled up into his lap, Spike gently tweaking her whiskers.

     "I don't think I can cope with another two years of him constantly hounding me. When my contract is up, I'm gonna seriously think about transferring to Anchorage or right down to Juneau."

     Hand freezing in mid tweak, the smaller male was stunned as Xander flopped down onto the couch beside him, a warm hand resting upon his cooler thigh next to Twatcat.

     ~ But I don't want to move...I mean, it's Alaska, and it's always going to be a backwater interbred wanker State, but for the first time since this bloody chip and the crypt incident, I've got some sort of life ~

     "S.u.r.e..p.e.t"

     Rewarded with a deep, hot kiss, Spike moaned into his claimant's mouth as a protesting feline was pushed off his lap. The sudden coolness left by the kitten was quickly dismissed as Xander lay back along the couch, dragging the blond on top of him. The vampire smiled widely as he snuggled into the youth's warmth, his whole front feeling like he was lying on top of an electric blanket. Xander wrapped his arms around the smaller demon, decorating the pale face with delicate kisses as he tried to keep his mind off the totally unwanted news.

     One hand making soothing circles on cool flesh, Xander allowed his mind to wander back to earlier on that day. As soon as he had gotten into work, he had known something was wrong. Both Josesse and Mac had called him over, and for a brief instant he had thought he was about to be fired. Once in the portable office, he had been stunned at first upon hearing the news. He and the vampire had both been counting down the days until Stan left the company, neither of them being able to stand the native Alaskan.

     The two other men had explained the situation as calmly as possible and Xander had come to see it from the company's point of view. It was true, there wasn't enough skilled staff that wanted to stay with the company. The youth had quickly come to the same conclusion as the rest of his workmates. The men and women who came for two or three weeks at a time to work with the company, trying to experience the wilds of Alaska, were more annoying than helpful. He really couldn't blame the company for wanting to hang onto one of its longest-working employees.

     Josesse had calmed the furious brunette by telling him that Mac was looking into getting Stan swapped with another employee from one of the company's other branches, but so far it didn't look like a viable option. Upon leaving the office he had had to restrain himself from beating a smirking Stan into a deep coma. As bad as the other man was, he had never made a single comment about Spike since the party at Mac's place after Xander had made it patently obvious that he would tolerate no-one touching or picking on the smaller blond. Xander however, was just waiting for the one little slipped comment that would justify his beating of Stan again.

     With a giggle, he snapped back into the present as he found his neck being gently sucked on by a cool set of lips. The vampire's soft hair was tickling his chin, the small hands slowly creeping under his workshirt.

     "Shower?"

     "Y.e.s..n.i.c.e..s.h.a.g?"

     ~ Yeah pet, want a good shag in there as well, a hard wank too! ~

     "Yes Spike, a shag as well."

     Hauled up, Xander laughed, feeling some of the previous tension slip away as he followed a leering blond into the cooler bathroom. Both men stripped off, their clothes thrown to the floor in a colourful display. Water turned on, Spike was helped into the pounding water, Xander grinding against the smaller man's backside with an achingly hard cock. Clasping the vampire tightly to his chest, the brunette rubbed his shaft between the perfectly formed buttocks, eliciting moans from them both.

     Fumbling with the ever-present lube, Spike flipped open the lid, pouring a small amount into his pale hand. One hand reached around behind him, the vampire ran his lubed fingers slowly up and down the hot, thick shaft, grinning as Xander let his head thump down onto his shoulder. Once he was satisfied that his Claimant's cock was well prepared, he poured some more lube into his hand before starting his own preparation. With a grunt, he allowed Xander to take over for him, groaning as he felt a large finger brush against his prostate.

     Xander gritted his teeth as he pulled his last finger from the tight, cool channel of his Adored. One last rub of his cock against the pale rosebud, he pushed firmly into the resisting flesh. With short, firm, thrusts, he soon found himself embedded to the hilt, panting with the effort of trying not to go too hard. He didn't want to hurt the vampire just yet, not until Spike was used to being fucked again. Just listening to the almost whispered grunts set his heart racing again, encouraging him to start a slow rocking.

     Moving to meet every thrust into him, the blond braced himself against the shower wall, eyes rolling as he felt the thick organ pulsing steadily inside of him. He could hear the whelp's heartbeat grow faster at each little whimper the vampire emitted. With each thrust, he could feel the pressure increasing, his own hard cock being ignored. A hand reached down, he grasped his shaft in a firm hold, using the warm water for lubrication. Timing his fisting with Xander's thrusts, the two men set up a comfortable routine, each one enjoying the time out from the worries of the outer world.

     Almost there, the brunette reaffirmed his grip on the slender white hips, his fingers indenting the pale flesh. Another thrust and Xander watched as the vampire came into the corner of the shower, signalling that it was time for his own release. Muffling his guttural grunts into the crook of the blond's neck, the youth held the smaller man still as he flooded the cool channel with his seed. Upon pulling out, he gently turned the vampire to face him, leaning down to nibble at the cool lips.

     Arms wrapped around each other, the two men enjoying the mutual comfort being offered.


~*~*~*~*~


     23 Friday 2001

     8.52 pm

     Eyes downcast to the dirty concrete, Spike fiddled nervously with the dangling string of his apron. Nodding to the quiet words, he agreed to the terms the other man was telling him. At each pause, the vampire nodded harder, swallowing in fear. Stomach twisting, he wondered just how Diehl had found out where he worked.

     Everything had been fine since returning from Fairbanks. Xander still didn't know about his arrest, Lukas had gotten the ball rolling on the vampires drivers licence and birth certificate and Spike had finally thought of what to get Xander for his up and coming birthday. Off to work he had toddled earlier that afternoon, walking as usual. The cold not really getting to him even though he did feel it, thankful for the thick jacket Joyce had shamed the others into buying for him.

     Work had been great, one of the lower kitchen hands showing him how to carve onion flowers and carrot dragons for decoration. Everything had been fine up until a few minutes ago. Helen had answered a knock at the back door, calling Spike over after a few sharp words to the concealed person.

     With his senses clogged with numerous heated aromas, he hadn't really picked up the visitors scent until a few steps away and then it had been too late. A large hand had reached out and grabbed him, dragging him from the safety of the kitchen and into the cold air. The door had been firmly closed, leaving the vampire pressed against the restaurant wall. Diehl had spat at him, slapping at the vampire as he had reached up to wipe at the spittle making its slow way down his face.

     After being told not to move, Spike had allowed it to continue its journey, listening to the other man threaten Xander's life if the vampire didn't co-operate. How Diehl knew Xander was his boyfriend, he really didn't know but he did know that the ex-Initiative soldier was deadly serious about his threats. The vampire had known the other man was going to be a problem sooner or later but had been praying for later. Unfortunately life wasn't that kind. Now he was wishing Xander would put in for a transfer, maybe he could talk to him tonight?

     A punch to the stomach brought him back to reality, Spike sucking in a lungful of unneeded air as his brutalized muscles protested.

     "You fucking listen to me when I speak to you Bitch. You do as I say and no harm will come to that faggot you live with, got me?"

     Head nodded vigorously, Spike wished for divine intervention of some sort. All he wanted to do was go inside and finish the onions he had started on.

     "I'll be at your place next Friday. Don't fucking disappoint me, be there when I arrive or....."

     Spike was nodding so hard and fast, he thought his head would fall off. He was going to be there. If that was what Diehl wanted, then he would be waiting. The demon was horrified by what the other man was suggesting, worried about how he had let the last sentence trail off, not even bothering with another threat. That the ex-soldier knew just how to play him. The vampire sniffed, his tears continuing to roll down his cheeks. He was scared, it was something he couldn’t deny.

     "Don't cry Sweetheart, you won't have to do much, I promise."

     Almost tenderly, the ex-soldier held the blonde's chin up, forcing the vampire to drop his eyes lower. Trembling in fright, Spike wished the other man would just rape or beat him, anything for it to be over. The taller man dropped an unexpected kiss on the vampires forehead, stunning the panting demon.

     "See you next week, Bitch."

     Chin released, Spike wobbled to the ground as Diehl strode away to his awaiting car. Rubbing furiously at his forehead, he waited a few minutes before trying to stand again. Why did everything have to stuff up on him? Were his previous crimes really so bad that fate had it in for him?

     Eyes wiped, the vampire slowly rose once he saw the ex-soldiers car disappear from view. He was frightened of what the other man had promised to inflict upon Xander if the demon didn't co-operate. Bodily harm, beatings and even a gang rape, much like Spikes own. It was that threat that had made the demon choke, gagging on the rising bile.

     The one that had made him the most frightened had been the threat to tell Xander about his escapades in Fairbanks. It had been a truly sobering moment when the demon had realised that he was more scared of copping the brunt of Xander's temper than he was of the ex-Iniative soldier. It was this that led him to his descion.

     He was going to have to find a way to dispose of the soldier before next Friday. There was not a chance in hell that he wanted to tell Xander about Diehl, not with the whole stress about Stan. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to see a way out other than to tell Xander the truth about Diehl and his involvement in the crypt incident.

     Diehl was the one solder that Spike officially was an Adored to. The taller man was the first one to cum on the vampires face, completing the claiming ritual. A forced sexual encounter followed by the humiliation of having his face covered in cum.

     It was a horrifyingly simple ritual. One would think that demons could come up with a more complicated ritual for picking sexual slaves amongst their own species but obviously not. When vampires initiated it, the Claimant usually broke enough bones to ensure the intended Adored was unable to resist much, pretty much like his own claiming in the crypt. After the initial claim, the Adoreds were usually 'claimed' again before the five year period was over unless the Claimant got tired of them and let them go.

     The vampire was sure that once Xander found out who the previously unnamed soldier was, the younger brunette was going to go mental. Hopefully, the younger male would find out how to get rid of the soldier. Something that Spike had faith in.





But I love you? Part 3

     2 march, Friday, 2001

     9.44 am

     I can't do this anymore.

     I'm sick and tired of washing dishes, chopping sodding vegetables for food that I will never be able to taste due to the high garlic content. Getting my jollies from bashing pieces of days old dead animals. Carving bloody carrot dragons. Waste of time, they just get eaten anyway.

     I used to like walking to work every Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon. Won't be able to do it for much longer, so I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts. The sun will be shining full force in about a month when its time for me to leave for the kitchen, that is if I'm not too affected by the "Summer Hibernation" that can disable vampires. Now I have this fear that my rapist will stop me along the way, on a deserted patch of road and offer to drive me the rest of the way.

     What would he do if I said no?

     More importantly, what will he do if I just get in the car with no argument?

     I feel like I've been shoved back to Sunnydale, I don't want to venture out of the front door without Xander by my side. The small freedom I regained when we moved and I started work has shrunk as my fears have mounted again. I can smell Diehl’s scent over everything I touch. Logically I know its not there but I can't seem to wrap my mind around it. Last night when I was taking a shower, I squealed when Xander hopped in with me. All I could smell was Diehl, beer and sweat.

     I pretended that my head hurt when Xander asked me what was wrong. Stood in the warm water and let my Claimant press kisses to my 'hurting' scalp. Had a fucking doozy of a nightmare last Friday night. Not one of the usuals, where Arseholes Inc. take turns to stomp on me or rape me but the whole event in the crypt, the whole nasty re-digitalised version.

     I'm a Master Vampire and I shouldn't be nervous around humans, I shouldn't have the constant fear that I will one day unconsciously attempt to defend myself against a human and get a headache in return. I've raped, maimed, tortured and murdered my way across continents and islands. I still am technically one quarter of the Scourge of Europe. It's a name that still strikes fear into any demon. I should be sitting in a bar somewhere with my Dark Princess, opposite Angelus and Darla, whisky and beer whetting our appetites. Scoping out our next meals.

     The fact that one of us is chipped, one souled, one dead and the last quarter of the Scourge is insane shouldn't be taken into account but it won't be long before even that smidgeon of respect is taken as demons lose their fear of me. What I'm about to do is going to make that decision for any demon really easy.

     I'm William the Bloody and I'm about to let my rapist into my home.

     I'm going to let him do whatever he wants to me.

     I'm too scared of Xander's moods to tell him about Diehl, every time I came close, I would freeze.

     In ten minutes, Diehl will be knocking at my door and I'm frightened by what is about to happen but realising that I'm more scared of Xander's moods makes me wonder if Xander is worth it?

     I love him and I'm doing this for him. If it was just me, I would up sticks and fucking run but I don't want Xander to go through what I did.

     Is he worth the beatings, the snarled putdowns? Should I have stayed after the rape and it was rape back in the kitchen, I'm not going to lie to myself anymore. Should I still take Lukas' advice and leave after I manage to deal with the ex-soldier?

     If I leave before Xander officially claims me, I will be free. My heart will be breaking but in time it will heal...I think it will. I don't want to risk falling out of love with him if he continues to beat me, even if he does become my official Claimant.

     I don't want to make these decisions...I don't want to think about anything anymore.

     Diehl? He's at the door and he's early.

     I suppose I should take a deep breath and just get it over with.

     It's Diehl that's making me think like this. Once he's gone, these stupid thoughts will be no more.


~*~*~*~*~


     2 march, Friday, 2001

     2.17 pm

     Wiping his brow, Xander welcomed the small droplets of sweat that were forming across his forehead. It meant the warmer weather was definitely on its way. In the past few months, no matter how hard he worked, he had been unable to work up a decent sweat with out shivering from the intense cold a few seconds later.

     Still, he was thankful that the current project was all indoors at the moment. With such a staff shortage, the work crew he was in had to do nearly all of the indoor carpentry and fixture installation as well as bricking the shell of the latest projects. The brunette liked the carpentry and the time spent indoors but he was looking forward to getting back outdoors and using his work time to just do the basic shell constructions.

     Deep in concentration while measuring a length of Formica for a tabletop, he at first took no notice of the piping of his beeper. Only a few seconds later, he jerked upright as the tiny black box went into vibrator mode. Trying not to giggle as it vibrated against his ticklish left hip, Xander stared down at the number flashing on the lit screen.

     137

     His lucky number and the vampires. Unfortunately, it also meant that Spike was either in the process of having a 'flash' or had just experienced one. It meant that he had to get home as fast as possible. Heart rate accelerating beyond the realms of normal, he ignored the startled faces of his workmates as he pushed his way past them, towards Mac. He had already informed his boss about the beeper, putting the vampires 'episodes' down to after affects of the car accident. Both Mac and Josesse had sympathised with him, telling him that they hoped the young man's partner would never need to call.

     "Mac, Spike just beeped me. I have to go, I'm sorry."

     "It's alright, just go. You can make the hours up later if it's not too serious. Call me..tell me if everything is ok?"

     Hand run through his hair, Xander tried to shove down the rising anxiety. With a distracted nod to his boss' question, he gave a halfhearted wave to Josesse while making his way to the car. A twist of the key, he threw the transmission into drive, not even bothering to let the car warm up like usual. Providing the roads were ok, it would only take him 20 minutes to get back home.

     Hoping that the vampire was alright, Xander pressed his foot hard against the accelerator paying scant attention to the mild swerving of the old commodore.


~*~*~*~*~


     23 minutes later,

     Car steering wheel wrenched into the locking position, Xander threw open his door while struggling with a seatbelt that was refusing to retract.

     "Fuck! Bloody thing, just get off me!"

     "Thank you."

     Muttering the snarky comment, the agitated brunette took a few deep breathes before inserting the key into the lock. Things must be bad for the vampire, the door was usually flung open before Xander even had the chance to pull out his keys. The door pushed open slowly, Xander let his eyes adjust to the darkness of the cabin.

     "Spike?"

     Stepping into the cabin, the youth panned his vision over the main room, his gaze settling on a figure curled into a ball on the middle of the mattresses.

     "Spike, I'm home now and everything is going to be ok."

     A small whine greeted Xander's ears at the comment. A few strides took him to the vampire's side, the brunette sinking to his knees while scooping the shaking figure into his arms. With firm but gentle fingers, he raised the bleached blond's chin, noting the pale features were scrunched tight, tears rolling down the sharp planes of his cheeks.

     "It's alright Spike, just relax. I'm here now...just relax."

     Minutes passed as Xander rocked the shivering, whimpering male in his warm clasp, the vampire clinging to him. Humming a nonsensical tune, the brunette wondered just what had happened this time. What part of the vampire's game face had been affected, which part would be coming through next? He dared not run his fingers through the soft hair, afraid of causing more pain to the vampire. The minutes slowly ticked by as Spike's shaking finally started to calm down, his grip loosening a little.

     "Ssshhhh, sssshhhh. Are you feeling a little better now?"

     A small nod.

     "Do you want me to call Giles?"

     Slightly larger headshake.

     Shifting slightly, Xander leaned back against the cabin wall, Spike moving to sit between the brunette's spread thighs. Pulled back against the warm chest, the vampire allowed his head to drop back, nestling into Xander's neck. Eyes closed, the bleached blond drank in the comforting scent of his Claimant, letting the familiar sound of the youth's breathing calm him further. What on earth had he been thinking of earlier? He was obviously so much safer when Xander was around despite the brunette's vile temper.

     "You want a coffee?"

     Small nod.

     With a kiss dropped onto the soft expanse of almost white hair, Xander gently manoeuvred the vampire to one side. Stretching his protesting limbs, the brunette smiled down at the smaller male as Spike started 'talking'.

     "T.h.r.e.e..b.u.g.a.r.s?"

     "Bugars?"

     A snort of frustration and a hiccup later, Spike was watching Xander getting out a packet of the caribou blood. Wiping his eyes, the vampire sniffled a small smile as he was made both a mug of blood and a coffee with extra milk and three sugars. He felt his heart swell with love at the gesture. True, it wasn't much but it was just one of the little extra's that had made him fall in love with Xander. His Claimant would take care of him.

     "Are you sure you feel ok?"

     "M.y..h.e.a.d..s.t.i.l.l..h.u.r.t.d..a..b.i.t"

     "Yeah, but its better than before isn't it?"

     At Spike's nod, Xander breathed a sigh of relief. He really hadn't known what to expect when he had come through the front door. The vampire could have been unconscious or still in the throes of the 'flash', Xander had obviously just come in on the tail end of one. The brunette thought the vampire was lucky he had been conscious enough to call the beeper. Kettle boiled, he poured the water into two mugs, milk added to both a moment later.

     "Here you go Mr. Naptha...I really don't know how you can drink so much sugar?"

     Scowling slightly at the name, Spike signed that he really didn't know how Xander ate so much chocolate. The brunette grinned at the comment, seating himself on the mattress, leaning back against the wall once again. Spike smiled a little as he snuggled back into Xander's larger frame, sipping from the blood and coffee alternately. The salty caribou blended nicely with the extra sugar in the coffee. They sat quietly together, drinking their coffees.

     "Hey, where’s the cat?"

     With that question, Spike felt his stomach drop.

     He burst into fresh tears.


~*~*~*~*~


***WARNING..MINOR CHARACTER DEATH AND TORTURE***

     2 march, Friday, 2001

     4.35 pm

     "Well, that's done."

     With a shudder, Spike nodded as Xander stalked past him on the way to the bathroom. The sound of running water reaching his ears, the vampire gave one last sniffle and a snort as he gingerly touched his bruised cheek. It didn't feel too bad, just a little tender, like his upper arm did. His ribs were another story though. The two on his left side were more than likely broken and it was all his own fault.

     After bursting into tears when questioned where Twatcat was, Xander had demanded to know what the problem was. So, in-between crying and signing, the bleached blond had told his Claimant about the other soldiers piss claim and this time, he didn't leave out Diehl’s cum claim. Xander had already known about the piss claim but he had steadily worked himself into a major hissy fit when told about the cum claim, being told about the vampire’s arrest hadn't helped at all either.

     Spike had told the brunette about his time in jail, his newly established rap sheet and mug shots, informed Xander about Diehl threatening him while in jail. The vampire had watched the youths eyes turn pitch black while describing his deal with Samuel from the Farmers Rest Inn, he had also tried to deflect the vicious kicks that had accompanied the screams that had told the blond that he could no longer be trusted to be left to his own devices. Spike telling Xander about his up and coming meeting with a lawyer had done nothing to calm down the irate youth, instead causing the brunette to continue screaming at him.

     All the while Spike had pleaded with Xander to stop hurting him, signing as fast as he could. Telling the youth that he had only let Diehl into the house earlier that day because of his threats against Xander. What had really set the younger man off had been when Spike had described what the ex-soldier had done to their pet cat.

     The vampire had been forced to watch Diehl torturing the tiny black creature. Diehl had stood outside in the cool sunlight while Spike had watched from an open doorway, standing just out of the deadly shafts of light, waiting like he had been instructed. The ex-soldier had picked up the friendly cat after she had followed him outside, petting her a few times while she had purred in pleasure. Without warning, he had snapped the right foreleg while laughing as both the vampire and barely grown cat had squealed, one in fright and the other in agony. Twatcat had been tortured to death, the soldier taking great pleasure in telling the vampire that Xander could expect the same if Spike even hinted at refusing Diehl. Spike had been unable to stop himself from crying, nodding to each word the other man had said.

     Once the poor animal had died, Spike had watched as Diehl had flung the battered and limp body as far as he could, the vampire shuddering when he heard the soft thump of her body hitting the ground.

     Eyes lowered as Xander approached from the bathroom, Spike signed a quick thank you to the youth for collecting the body and burying it.

     "Just be thankful I don't fucking well bury you. You know full well this is your fault. What have I told you?"

     "T.r.u.t.h?"

     "That’s right, just tell me the truth and you won't get into trouble but obviously you're too fucking stupid to remember that. Tell me why I bother with you at all?"

     "B.e.c.a.u.a.s.e. .I. .b.e.l.o.n.g. .t.o. .y.o.u"

     "Really? Because I'm thinking I made a great big whopping mistake...cut the tears out, no-one's interested...least of all me!"

     "WHAT DID I JUST FUCKING SAY?"

     Cringing into the corner as the infuriated brunette stomped closer, the blond closed his eyes and waited for the punches and kicking to resume.

     ~He's right! No-one else to blame but myself for this. Gotta stop the tears...oooff ~

     Unable to stop the squeal of pain as his head bounced off the wall of the cabin, Spike wiped hastily at his eyes, hoping the small gesture would persuade the youth to start calming down. A kick to the small of his back and the vampire found himself trying to deflect solid blows away from his kidneys. He may not need to use the organs anymore but it still hurt like hell when hit there.

     "You. .punch. .do. .kick. .not. .go. .slap. .punch. .anywhere. . kick. .without. .me. .punch."

     Grunting and nodding as fast as he could, Spike was relieved to hear the phone ringing, Xander leaving him curled upon the floor while striding towards it.

     "If I come back and find you still crying, so help me god, what I have just given you will be considered comfortable to what I will give you."

     Phone snatched up in a trembling hand, Xander dimly noted that his knuckles were bleeding. A few breathes to calm himself, he answered the phone.

     "Hello, Xander here."

     "Oh hey Helen, how are you?"

     "What, oh shit! Sorry, I should have phoned earlier. Spike's not well..he won't be coming in tonight or tomorrow night either."

     "Yeah, I know...who would have thought vampires could get sick. Umm, I think that summer hibernation thingy is coming onto him early, he hasn't really been too well for the last week or so."

     "Hmmm, what...oh, ok. Look, I think it may be for the best if he just finishes for the spring and summer until next winter...is that ok with you?"

     "Great, I'll drop him around Tuesday night to collect the rest of his wages and he can explain it to you guys then...fantastic, that's great to know Helen, thanks so much. Spike and I really appreciate it."

     "Alright then, I'll see you Tuesday....bye!"

     Phone hung up, Xander turned around slowly, his gaze resting upon a still sniffling blond. He took in the dishevelled sight before him, noting the dark bruises marring the pale features.

     "As you would have heard, that was Helen wondering where you were. You're not going to work anymore. I don't trust you. YOU blew that."

     "I.m. .s.o.r.r.y. .X.a.n.d.e.r. p.l.e.a.s.e. .d.o.n.t. .t.a.k.e. .w.o.r.k. .a.w.a.y. .f.r.o.m. .m.e."

     "You took it away from yourself, with your lies and deceptions. Not me, but you! We'll go to the restaurant on Tuesday and you can say goodbye to everybody then while picking up your pay."

     "P.l.e.a.s.e. .X.a.n.d.e.r?"

     Flinching away from the brunette as he came to sit beside him, Spike whimpered as he was pulled into a strong grasp, his sensitive sinuses assaulted by the scent of anger, disappointment and the lingering scent of Twatcat’s blood. A whimper and he was dragged on top of the youth's warm lap, cradled like a child with a large hand stroking through his soft hair.

     "If you prove to me that I can trust you again, then you can go back to work next Winter. Helen has already promised me that she will keep the job for you..BUT only if I can trust you and so far, it looks like I won't be able to."

     ~Thank you..thank you Pet! Helen, you're a bloody legend and I promise that I will NEVER let you down again, Xannny...NEVER!~

     Faced with the loss of his job, Spike suddenly realised that although he did bitch and whine about it, the work got him out of the house and into contact with people that had become his friends. Something to be appreciated and valued, no matter how much he hated the menial tasks that had to be done.

     With a hard nod, Spike ignored his aching ribs as he was blessed with a soft kiss to his mouth, Xander just slipping his warm tongue between the cooler lips.

     "I really wish you wouldn't make me hurt you, let this be a lesson for you. Always tell me the truth..ok?"

     "Y.e.s"

     "Good. I don't want you to go ANYWHERE without me and I mean it too Spike, I'm not joking here. If I have to chain you to the bathtub, I will. I'll fucking well break both ankles if you even try it."

     "O.k"

     ~God Pet, please don't do it. I promise I'll do as you say, won't be stupid and wander like before..down to the park. Thick as ten planks I was that night. ~

     "I don't want you opening the door or talking to anyone that you don't know. I'll get your blood from now on, I don't want you to wander around by yourself until I can trust you again and I sure as hell don't want that arsehole to find you alone."

     "O.k"

     "I'm going to put new locks on the doors and windows, only I will have the keys. I don't want anyone to be able to break in and hurt you, least of all Diehl. You said he was coming back next Friday?"

     Nod.

     "He's not going to find you here. Looks like I'm going to have to find another place for us to stay until I can deal with this. I wonder if Lukas can put us up for a few days?"

     Shrug.

     The two men sat in silence, the vampire relishing his Claimant's heartbeat and the comfort it offered. Xander continued to stroke his fingers through the bleached hair.

     "She was a nice cat. Never had one before but I liked her, it's stupid but I'm going to miss her. Poor little thing."

     "L.i.k.e.d. .h.e.r. .a.s. .w.e.l.l"

     "Yeah, I know. It wasn't your fault that fucking Diehl is mental, I'm sorry I said that it’s your fault Twat died."

     "O.k"

     ~ It is actually. Everything is my fault, you're right pet. ~

     "Let’s tape up those ribs."


~*~*~*~*~


     3 March, Saturday, 2001

     10:43pm

     Seating himself next to the heavier Fijian, Xander gratefully took the offered beer, anything to make a dent in the heat that always seemed to envelope the small sitting room. A small sip and he turned his attention fully towards the situation at hand.

     "So, you and Spike need help?"

     "Yeah, a problem we both thought had been left in Sunnydale has unexpectedly popped up again."

     "Sooo...what do you want from me?"

     Another sip and Xander tried to explain about Diehl and his attitude towards the blond vampire without embarrassing the smaller demon too much. He could feel himself getting angry, each word stirring the barely blanketed emotion. The youth knew he was still in a bad mood from the day before and if he had the choice, he would have waited until he was fully calmed down before approaching the Kava demon. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford that luxury, not when it was his property that was in danger of being damaged.

     "Umm, I'm not actually Spike's official Claimant. Someone else is, someone who has just decided to make an appearance and stir up some trouble...which he has done quite well so far."

     "What has it got to do with me? If you have assumed the responsibility of being Spike’s Claimant in place of the other Claimant, then it's your job to deal with it. If you challenged him to a fight and killed him, then Spike is officially yours."

     "Yeah. That’s the thing, the other Claimant is also a human and I really don't want to murder anyone no matter what the reason is."

     Sinking back into the couch, Lukas now knew just why the vampire and his Claimant had come to Alaska. Unsavoury claims were pretty common but two humans fighting over a vampire...now that was something he had never heard of before. Eyeing the youth, he wondered why Spike had chosen someone who beat him over the other one. He wondered just how bad the other Claimant could be if Spike preferred to stay in an abusive relationship.

     "So Spike doesn't want to go back with the other Claimant then?"

     "No fucking way is he going anywhere with Diehl, Spike is mine. Look Lukas, I don't know Diehl personally but I've seen what he is capable of. He and his friends are the reason Spike came to be living in my basement back in Sunnydale. If Diehl was given free access to Spike, Spike would be dead before a week was over."

     "That bad huh? Spike never told me how he got to be living in your basement and I admit that I'm curious but it's none of my business if Spike doesn't want me to know. Your situation with Spike is unique but to hear of him submitting to a human before you is really odd, I've never heard of a vampire submitting to a human before...never! Two humans is just plain weird."

     "He didn't have a choice in the matter, anyway, Diehl has no idea that he is Spikes official Claimant and even if he did, he wouldn't know what it meant...at least I hope he hasn't gotten clued in. Lukas, what it comes down to, is that Diehl is here in Alaska and hassling Spike, making threats to kill me and I need to find a way to get rid of him."

     Xander ran a hand down the beer bottle, wiping the small beads of moisture from the smooth surface. Label teased until a corner lifted, the brunette absently played with the fraying edge while watching the Fijian think about the current situation.

     "You can't just move again?...not that I want you both to move, you're my friends but would that make a difference?"

     "Diehl is friends with Buffy's boyfriend. Willow, my best friend, is sharing a dorm room with Buffy... there is no way we could move and keep the address a secret. We may be able to do it for a few weeks but Buffy will find out, tell Riley who will then tell Diehl so no, besides, Spike and I already ruled that out. Why should we move? We've both got jobs and friends here, there is no way that I'm going to let him push us around."

     "When's Diehl coming back again?"

     "Next Friday....Lukas, he tortured Twatcat right in front of Spike. That bastard broke just about every bone in her little body. You should have seen Spike, he was a mess. I know he's a vampire and supposed to get off on seeing other creatures tortured and maimed but with the chip and his 'emotions', he can't deal with things like that anymore."

     Finishing the last of his beer, Lukas wiped at his moist mouth. To put it simply, the best solution was to kill Diehl. It was simple and straightforward, get rid of the threat permanently. Xander however wasn't looking to take it that far even with the knowledge that his life was being threatened. Back in Fiji, it was done without mucking around. See the threat and remove it before it became a real problem. Admittedly Spike had to accept some blame in the situation for not telling his Claimant about the man while in Fairbanks. Lukas however could see how difficult the decision not to tell Xander would have been for the vampire. The Fijian had already been a witness to the remnants of the brunette's temper and it hadn't been a pretty sight. Lukas felt a swell of pity for the bleached blond, it seemed that no matter what the smaller demon did, it was wrong. This was just another thing to come and bite him on the arse.

     "Can I ask a huge favour?"

     "Yeah...what?"

     "Can Spike and I, or even just Spike, stay here on Thursday and Friday night?"

     "Look Xander, you're both more than welcome to stay for as long as you like. You can stay in the guest bedroom, its squishy but comfortable."

     "Thanks so much Lukas, I really appreciate it. I don't want that arsehole to find Spike alone...is he able to stay here during the day?"

     "No problem...I like him, he's easy to talk to. That's the great thing about him, he never tells me to shut up!"

     Laughter floated around the overheated room, easing some of the tension. Telling Xander to bring the vampire over each morning on the way to work, the Kava demon promised that he would try and think of a solution to the problem.

     "Where is he now...I know that you wouldn't leave him home alone...tell me you didn't?"

     "Shit no! I dropped him off at Blizzard, you know, the internet cafe? He wanted to download some furniture designs for his woodwork course, so I left him in the care of Nancee and Liam. I figured that he should be pretty safe for an hour or two, I mean, it's in the heart of the Mall and Spike did say that Diehl won't be back until next Friday. I really don't think that even if he did come back today, that he would be looking in an internet cafe for a vampire."

     "Mmmm. I hope not. You take this Claimant thing pretty seriously don't you?"

     "Yeah Lukas, I do. Spike is mine and I don't want him to get hurt and I sure as hell don't want Diehl to come into the knowledge of what a Claim on a vampire is."

     Dark head nodded, Lukas had to admit that from the sound of the current situation, the brunette was the lesser of two evils for the moment. With a cough, the demon managed to hide his smile as a thought struck him. Spike would be in his care for the next week and nothing was going to stop the Fijian from talking the vampire into leaving his un-official Claimant once the threat was taken care of. The only thing Lukas had to worry about was getting Spike away before Xander was able to do the Claim properly. It was something he could work on.

     Xander shown out the front door, he watched and waved as the brunette drove off towards Pennington's Mall. This time, the Kava demon was going to take it slowly and not just shock the bleached blond all at once. Lukas had to admit that he really didn't like Xander and if it wasn't for Spike, the dark man wouldn't even talk to the brunette. He had nothing against humans and inter-species relationships but he hated people who took their anger and frustrations out on others, particularly when one was incapable of defending themselves.


~*~*~*~*~


     4 March, Sunday, 2001

      7.39 pm

      "Yeah, thanks again Lukas, we both appreciate it. Don't we Spike?" said Xander, watching Spike nod his head in agreement as they both walked back through the Post Office's front door. Turning to hold the door open for Spike, he gave the Kava demon one last grin before walking towards the car. Without saying a word to the vampire, he slid himself into the drivers seat and waited for Spike to get himself belted in before starting the engine.

      "I'm sorry that I'm a little late in picking you up, had to finish installing the new locks on the front door and windows at home." explained Xander, clicking the indicator to turn right onto the deserted main road. "No. You don't get keys so you can stop holding your hand out for them. I told you, only I get them. Not you, not Diehl and not anyone else."

      ~Fucking prick! Like I'm gonna give keys to that sodding arsehole. What the fuck happens if there's a bloody fire and I'm stuck inside? What does he expect me to do, burn down to ash just to satisfy his bloody dominence issues?~

      With a soft tap on Xander's upper thigh, Spike indicated that he wanted to ask his soon to be Claimant that very question, albeit without the swearing and snarky tone. As Xander slowed the car down and turned to look at him, Spike signed the question.

      "Y.e.s..b.u.t..f.i.r.e.?"

      "Fire? Well, don't do anything stupid and there won't be one will there?"

      "W.h.a.t..i.f..D.i.e.h.l..t.r.i.e.s..t.o..s.m.o.k.e..m.e..o.u.t?" signed Spike, starting to pant as he ran through just what could happen if the event ever occured. And from the behaviour that Diehl had so far displayed, it was a very real possibility. His body just begining to tremble as his mind threw the memory of his first meeting with Diehl to the forefront, Spike unconciously cringed away from Xander as the car came to a halt on the side of the road. Fearing that he had just managed to upset Xander in some way, he couldn't help but jerk away as Xander reached his hand up to gently run a finger down one side of his face.

      "Don't do that Spike, you know I hate it and besides, I'm not going to hurt you. Yeah, I'm still fucking angry at you but I'm not going to hit you. Already done that and I'm sorry, you know? Good."

      Head nodding warily at Xander's repeat apology for the beating on Friday in which two of his ribs got broken, Spike forced himself to lean into the other man's touch, all the while hoping that Xander's current good mood would last for a while. Even after Xander had picked him up from the internet cafe, Blizzard, last night, Spike had still been able to smell the lingering anger from the hissy fit. It hadn't been very strong but nethertheless, it had still been there and Spike had made sure that he had done everything Xander had asked of him to the best of his ability, even going so far as to be the one to initiate Xander's favourite sexual position. As much as he hated it, Spike had plastered a huge smile on his face and had done all that he could to ensure that Xander had cum quickly while Spike had pretended that he had enjoyed sitting on Xander's thick cock with the boy was laying underneath him on the bed.

      Just by giving that little extra the night before, Spike had been almost overwhelmed with joy as he had scented Xander's anger finally dissapating with the hot hungry kisses Spike had been rewarded with after such a performance. Content to try and forget how his ribs had ached with all the effort he had put into it, Spike had been unable to resist smiling as he had snuggled into Xander arms as they had both let sleep catch up with them. As Xander continued to speak, Spike nodded again and let his cool hand lay on Xander's much warmer thigh and pressed his face willingly into the warm fingers brushing across his now unbruised cheek.

      "Spike...I'm doing this for you. It's mainly to keep that piece of shit from hurting you but its coming up to Summer, I mean, from what both the G-Man and Lukas say, you're going to be real sleepy through most of it and what if someone decides to take up knocking off houses?"

      "Y.e.s.?"

      "Jesus Spike, what the hell is wrong with you at times? You sleepy and unable to defend yourself and an intruder that's hell-bent on getting the video player and tv and not being identified? Can you just imagine what's going to happen if you both suddenly meet one day in the living room? I don't want anything to happen to you." stated Xander, continuing to run his fingers across Spike's smooth white cheek before giving the vampire's hair an affectionate ruffle, much to Spike's displeasure. Smiling at Spike's scowl, Xander continued on with his explanation.

      "I want you to be safe Spike. I can't take the whole Summer off to make sure of that so this is the best that I can up with right now. I mean, I can take you work each day in the trunk of the car but I'm gonna be pretty shitty when someone goes to look in the trunk for something and you suddenly disappear into ash. I really mean it Spike."

      ~Sure. No-one else gets to hurt me but you. Yeah, I totally get it. Can't wait until you start bloody well slapping me around as bit of foreplay. Oh, hang on, he's already done that!~

      "O.k."

      ~Not like I've got a fucking choice anyway have I?~

      Giving Xander a crooked grin, Spike nodded his head at the words all the while feeling like his already short leash had another link removed so that it was even more restrictive. To have to spend the whole Summer locked into a two bedroom cabin wasn't a pleasant thought, no matter how much Spike acknowledged that the reasons for the extra security were good. It was true that if someone happened to break in while he was in his Summer semi-hibernation sleep, it was highly likely that he wouldn't even notice that there was another person in the cabin and he sure as hell didn't want to even think about how bad Xander's temper would be if that eventually happened. Barely able to supress his shudder at such thoughts, Spike started rubbing his hand along Xander's well muscled thigh in soft slow strokes. Spike's quiet panting and shaking subsided as Xander started to respond to his ministrations.

      "Mmmmm, feels nice. Keep going." murmured Xander as most of his blood supply immediately re-directed itself to his groin. With Spike's scowl now becoming a definate trademark smirk, Xander leaned over and gave a pale earlobe a gentle nibble, trailing his tongue down to just under Spike's chin, and was rewarded with a low grunt of pleasure. In a swift descion, Xander took Spike's hand and placed it firmly on his belt buckle, bucking his hips upwards a few times to give the blond a hint before turing the car ignition over. Once on the road again, Xander struggled to keep his attention on the drive home while Spike encouraged his cock into standing at full attention.

      "Wha...what are you dooooooiiiinnnnngggg...ahhhh...good...real good!" exclaimed Xander, almost cross eyed as a cool tongue carefully swept up the small beads of pre-cum that ran down his rigid shaft. Ok, this was new. Sure, Spike had often jerked him off in the car while driving home from some shopping expedition but never had he just unbuckled the seatbelt, leaned over and prepared to swallow...But this was all of the good, Xander decided. All of the very nice and for God's sake please keep going' good.

      ~Mmmm. Not as bad tonight, usually tastes worse than this. Maybe it's them new Sugarpuff things...all that soddin' sugars got to go somewhere and if this is where it ends up, bloody well fine by me. If the kid tastes it like this, then maybe he might try a blow one day?~

      Tongue sweeping around the underside of the hard cock, Spike was prompted to take Xander's cock all the way down his thoat by a heavy hand gripping tightly around his hair and pressing his face down into the heated groin of the moaning boy. His throat readily accepting the wide shaft, Spike managed to wiggle a few fingers in-between Xander's balls and his zipper, just enough room to start rubbing his fingers through the wirey hair much to Xander's apparant pleasure. As the fingers wound through his hair got tighter, he grimaced slightly from the pain as he continued to do his best while trying to avoid getting his head trapped between Xander's thighs and the steering wheel. At his strangled snicker at such a thought, the vibrations of the action around the solid cock down his throat brought Xander to completion.

      Swallowing most of the oddly pleasant cum, Spike gave a soft sigh as Xander released the harsh grip on his hair and allowed him to move his head from the boy's lap and to be able to sit up properly in his seat. A few tugs of the stubborn zipper and Spike had Xander all neatly packed away back into his boxers and jeans just as the car pulled into their cabin's carport. Once the car was at a full halt, Spike leaned over towards Xander, fully intent on sharing the last of the cum in a deep kiss in the hopes that it would encourage Xander into thinking about giving head once in a while instead of leaving it all up to Spike. As firm a grip as the chip allowed around the back of Xander's neck, Spike closed his eyes as the grinning boy also graviated towards him. Just as he opened his mouth as their lips touched, Spike got one of the biggest shocks of his life as Xander moved away only after a brief second of contact.

      PUNCH

      "Whores don't kiss."

      His hand clapped over hurting lips, Spike couldn't help the tears that welled up in his eyes as he sat and stared at the smiling youth next to him. Tears rapidly overflowing even as Spike valiently tried to blink them back, he took his shaking hand away from his mouth and gave a loud whine at the sight of blood decorating his pale palm. As he whined for Xander to explain, the still smiling boy just shook his head and tutted at him.

      "If I have to tell you, then I guess the chip must have shorted out pretty much everything huh?" happily stated Xander, giving Spike a quick pat on the leg as he unbuckled his seatbelt. "Come on Spike, you know what you are? Shit, your Mom was one. Guess it just runs in the genes."

      Shaking his head for all he was worth, Spike tried to tell Xander that he was wrong and that he wasn't a whore, whilst Xander sat and nodded to his signed words. With a squeal of pain as Xander suddenly ground a solid fist into his still healing ribs, he found himself moulded to the car door as he tried to escape being hurt even more. A quick fumble with the car door handle and Spike was soon out of the car and wondering what to do as Xander followed his actions, although a lot slower.

      With the smile still on his face, Xander got out of the car and turned to face the vampire, knowing that his good mood was about to disappear into the begginnings of a major hissy fit. His eyes going from the deep chocolate brown that they normally were to almost pitch black due to his rising anger, Xander quietly asked Spike to come towards him.

      "Spike, come here please."

      ~No...you're gonna hurt me again~

      As he listened to Xander's request, Spike couldn't help but sob at the undercurrent of menace in the voice. He was going to get it and it was going to be big time. It might not be just now but it was going to become, might even be in a few more days but he was still going to cop a beating sometime in the near future, and for what? Nothing more than a simple kiss. Something that they had shared on numerous occassions, so what the hell had he done wrong this time? As he contemplated running down the road in an effort to make the up and coming beating more worthwhile, Spike started to cry in earnest as Xander walked around the car and came to a halt a few yards from him.

      "Spike, come inside. I'm not going to ask nicely again" said Xander, smiling at the distressed vampire even as he felt his former good mood give away to a newly rising anger. What he had told Spike was true, he was still angry because of the mess they were now both entangled in, but what he was really upset about was the fact that Spike had cheated on him with another person. Another human person. In an odd way and what could only be the product of having lived life on the Hellmouth, Xander could forgive Spike more easily if the other party had been a demon but in Xander's mind, another human was beyond betrayal and that made Spike nothing more than a whore. His smile disappearing into a scowl, Xander snarled a demand at Spike.

      "Stop the crying. Don't make me come over and remind you how to do it."

      "S.t.o.p.p.i.n.g. S.o.r.r.y.?"

      ~I'm sorry..so sorry. Please don't hurt me..too much Pet?~

      "Sure, whatever. Just get inside, I've got a surprise for you."

      Whining at the smell of anger drifting slowly towards him, Spike almost retched as he hastily wiped a hand over his damp face in an effort to stop the flowing tears. His stomach dropping at the thought of what Xander could possibly call a 'surprise' in his current mood, Spike wondered again if he should just take advantage of the situation and run for his life down the road.

      ~He's going to fucking kill me. Should've just let him slap me around a bit, probably wouldn't be so bloody angry like he is now..Jesus..I am so fucking done for it's not funny~

      His chest heaving rapidly due to the renewed panting, Spike barely noticed that he was trembling again as he took a tentative step forward. With a shaky hand, he reached out and took Xander's outstretched one as he got closer to the boy. Hand encompassed by one so much bigger than his own, he had to force himself to stay beside Xander as they both walked up the cabin's steps and onto the porch. While Xander was fiddling to find the front door key, Spike turned himself to one side so that Xander wouldn't notice his continuing tears. Flinching when Xander momentarily let go of his hand and grasped him tightly in a strong embrace, Spike hesitantly wrapped his arms around Xander's waist as he wondered just what was going to happen next.

      "You going to stop crying? Good, I'm glad. How about you try a little harder? There, that's better isn't it..hmmm? Sure it is." said Xander softly, one hand wiping gently at the tears that continued to flow while he kept a strong grip around Spike's waist with the other. Spike's nodding to his words only served to flame his anger into a higher peak, something that the vampire almost immediately noticed and cringed from. Reminding Spike that he didn't like that sort of thing, Xander flashed the bleached blond a tight grin as he felt the arms around his waist tighten. His chin resting ontop of the soft hair for a brief moment, Xander gave Spike a quick peck on the cheek before ghosting his lips along the pale skin and pressing them against Spike's much cooler ones, his hand stroking the fine blond hair that had grown enough to start curling at the ends even with all the hair gel. Just as he felt Spike begin to open his mouth in order to allow the kiss to deepen, Xander wrenched his head away from Spike and smiled the same tight smile as he had only moments before.

      "What did I just say? Come on, surely even you can't be that stupid? God Spike, I just said that hookers don't kiss, didn't I?"

      Tutting again as Spike vigourously shook his head, Xander grasped the sharp chin of the vampire firmly and jerked Spike's head up and down in a viscous 'yes' action even as Spike continued to try and disagree with his words. Feeling his anger come to a plateau, he kept forcing Spike to nod, his smile turing into a sneer as the smaller man started to wiggle out his firm grasp.

      "Yes. Go on Spike, you try it. Just say yes..see? It's real easy to do. Yes, yes, yes and do you know why you are? No? Gee, that's not really a surprise since it's coming from a complete retard now is it? Nah, don't answer that one, we both know that answer anyway. Come on, don't get so upset, you'll make yourself sick and then I'll be worried again."

      ~Am not a whore. Never taken money from no-one for sex. Never been a fucking prostitute..hooker or what the fuck ever! Just plain bloody stupid, why the hell do I stay here and let him make me feel like complete and utter shit between his toes?~

      His chest heaving almost painfully as his panting took a turn for the worst, Spike couldn't believe what he was hearing. There was no way that he was a whore and no matter what Xander did to him, he wasn't going to agree. As the quietly spoken words continued to take potshots at his already broken heart, Spike found himself struggling to get out of the iron grasp that Xander had once again encircled him in now that he had let go of his chin.

      ~Let me go..let me go..LET ME GO!~

      Having freed himself enough to be able to start 'talking' again, Spike found that his bottom lip was trembling in his effort not to give in to the desire to just sit on the floor and howl in tears. A slight movement from Xander and Spike leapt back a pace, the demon telling Xander that he wasn't a whore in shaky hand signs.

      ~Why do you always have to do this? Christ Xan, just pick one or the other, please? Either just kick the shit out of me all the time or be nice...but not both..you're driving me fucking insane..I think I'm goin' mental?~

      His thoughts laid out in the open for Xander to finally see, Spike knew that if he had been a human, he would have pissed himself in fright already. Just one small advantage of being dead, he mused to himself as he watched Xander's face closely. Unoticeably, Spike managed to move himself out of what he guessed was arm's length for the taller man all the while hoping that he hadn't made a huge mistake and was about to receive the first option.

      With a deep sigh, Xander reached a hand slowly towards Spike, taking a step closer as he idly noted that the demon was out of arm's reach. Ignoring the harsh panting and the all too obvious shaking for the moment, Xander gently grapsed Spike's upper arms, eliciting a yelp and grimace as he steadily increased the pressure of his grip on the black clad arms. His anger still at its peak, Xander continued to speak in the quiet menacing voice that Spike had come to dread hearing.

      "Because..you..make me do this. If you would just... You make me hurt you. No-one else but you. I'm not my fucking father and just hit you because you happen to be blocking the view of the tv or got the wrong beer out of the fridge and anyway, it's not like I hit you all the time. Fuck, just get inside. Still got that surprise to give you."

      The right key finally found and the cabin door opened, Spike was guided through first by a gentle push between his shoulder blades. Stepping into the cabin, he absently gave the main room a quick look for Twatcat before he choked down a sharp hiccup, the tears trekking slowly down his face as he realised that he would be feeling the tiny kitten's loss for a while. While Xander closed the door behind them and locked it, Spike stood in the middle of the large living room and waited in dread for his surprise from Xander. Barking out a startled yelp when Xander unexpectedly started to knead at his trembling shoulders, Spike wondered if the 'surprise' was really that, just a simple massage.

      ~Oh God. What the fuck is he playing at now? He's not going to..no..anything but that?~

      Thought Spike, standing rigid as Xander's hands tried to work out some of the tension that was the only thing from keeping Spike from tumbling onto the floor. The bitter acrid smell of anger still emanating from the man standing behind him, Spike knew without a doubt that Xander had something else planned for him that night. With a plea to the higher beings, Spike hoped with all his might that what was planned was not going to be a repeat of his rape in the kitchen.

      "There. That feels a bit better doesn't it? Come on, stop crying. Please? That's it...good. Does this feel alright? Oh, good...I'm glad," whispered Xander, his cock twitching as he ran his hands over the slim shoulders in a soothing pattern. Something that probably wasn't going to work since he knew that Spike could still smell how angry he was. He just couldn't help himself, no matter how much he tried not to lose his temper, it just exploded and he nearly always found himself lashing out at the only person available. Spike. Xander didn't like beating at the now timid demon but he couldn't deny that he had experienced numerous wet dreams that had featured him beating and then fucking Spike as hard as he possibly could. And he couldn't deny that he had found these dreams the most erotic that he had ever experienced.

      With that thought in mind, Xander left off his attempt of a massage when it became apparant that Spike wasn't going to start relaxing in the too near future. A hand wrapped around the back of Spike's neck and Xander steered them both towards the spare bedroom door. The door opened, Xander stood back and let Spike take in what he had done with the second bedroom.

      "Surprise! Act like a whore and I'll treat you like one," snapped Xander before turning around and leaving a hysterical Spike curled up on the floor just outside the bedroom door.


~*~*~*~*~


     5 March, Monday, 2001

      2.38 pm

      Xander

      I think I've broken him.

      I honestly didn't mean for it to get to this point. I..I just had to teach him a lesson. Make him learn that there is no way in Hell that I'm going to be putting up with the shit that he still pulls. And I'm sure as Hell not going to just stand around and let him fuck who and what he wants, whenever he wants. He's mine and I'm not sharing.

      I didn't think that my lesson was going to have this type of effect on him. Yeah, sure..I knew that it was going to make him real upset and get him into one of those 'heavy breathing' episodes that he only does when majorly stressed, but I have so gone too far this time.

      The lesson wasn't much and I was even going to bring him back to bed with me in a few nights. It was just a real simple one as well. Just shifted everything of his into the spare bedroom so that it was clear where he was going to be sleeping from now on. You know, the whore gets his own bedroom because no one wants to sleep with a whore on a permanent basis sort of deal. I had to do it. If I don't get it through his head that he can't go around 'shagging' who he wants, then one day, he's going to pick the wrong person to mess with. Shit, he might even get himself into more trouble than he already is.

      I wasn't being cruel...ok, I was, but it's not like I'm not going to make it up to him later. I have to do this, have to give him 'lessons' because asking him not to do things just doesn't work, and I really wanted this one to stick in his mind.

      I only did it because I know how much he hates to be alone. Especially when he goes to sleep. I don't think I can ever remember him not clinging to my hand at some time during the night since the first time he did it, about a week or so after the attack in the crypt. Figured that this would really drive the point home. He hates going to bed alone and he gets all pouty and sulky when we don't climb into bed together, even when I'm only a minute or two behind him. I swear to God, I was only going to make him sleep alone for a few nights, maybe three at a push.

      Christ, I hope he's not in any pain because if he is, I can't tell. I can't believe how much blood there is, there is no way he's drunk enough to be able to produce all this. No fucking way.

      So, he took one look at the room and did exactly what I thought he would. Spike just fell to the floor and started in on a major tear session and that's where I left him. Everytime he whined at me, I told him to shut up. Had to drag him out of the main bedroom once, he had gotten undressed while I was in the shower and had climbed into bed. Ready with legs spread, lying on his back. Could see him trying to relax enough to put a smile on his face but there was no way he was going to stop gripping at the blankets.

      I know how much he hates taking it 'like a woman' as he calls it and I very nearly just called the whole thing off. Don't get me wrong, I was still angry at what he had deliberately done but for him to actually offer himself to me like that... But the lesson had to stick with him so Spike got screamed at and dragged back into what was now his room. Told him that the main bedroom was now mine and if he wanted to enter, he had to ask me and if I was already in there, he was to knock on the door before entering. That set him off really bad, I mean really bad. I still can't believe that the walls didn't shake with how loud he was crying. As much as I wanted to tell him that he wouldn't be by himself for long, I had to ignore his continual tears and shut the door in his face. Spike had to learn his lesson.

      I went to sleep to the sound of his crying and panting coming through from the bedroom next to me. Didn't really sleep too well, to tell the truth, I was so used to Spike being in the same bed as me. Each time I rolled over, I automatically searched for one of his hands so that he could could hold mine. Almost freaked a few times when I realised he wasn't beside me until I remembered where he was and why he was there. I guess I've never really taken in how much I like having him beside me. Wasn't going to tell him that in a hurry though. Wanted to make him suffer and squirm for a few days, could always catch up on my sleep once he was back in bed with me.

      Oh yeah, I made him suffer all right. I just hadn't realised how much until I walked into the spare bedroom early this morning, stroking myself hard at the thought of having a whimpering cool body underneath me. Didn't bother to knock on the door, he was a whore and whores didn't have privacy as far as I was concerned. Was more worried about relieving myself deep in his ass. Disgusting but true.

      Took one look at what was lying on the mattress in the middle of the floor and I swear, my jaw hit the ground, my hard on running for the hills only seconds later.

      Never in my whole life have I ever seen so much blood.

      It was everywhere.

      It looked like someone had come in and just thrown bucket after bucket of blood over him. He was covered from head to toe in it. I don't think I've ever screamed before but I sure as Hell did then. Long, loud and clear and that's what cleared the haze of shock and sent me virtually flying to his side. All I could think was that someone had broken into the house in the middle of the night and attacked Spike. Hurt him so very badly because no matter how many times I was asking him to open his eyes, Spike was totally out of it. Just laying on a wet soggy mattress and letting the tears flow.

      The first thing I did was check him all over to see if he had been hurt in any way, but I didn't find anything. Nothing. No cuts, stab wounds, gaping holes...nothing. I honestly couldn't figure out why there was so much blood over him, the sheets and the blankets. Fuck, it had even soaked into both the mattress and the pillow I had given him. It was only when I bent down to pick him up that I realised I was shaking.

      With Spike in my arms, literally dripping blood, the few steps to the bathroom was the longest walk I've ever made. The blood made him hard to get into the bath and I apologised every time I banged him around while trying to get him in. Can't tell you how many times I accidently banged his head into the bath taps, I winced with each knock myself. It was just so hard, it was like trying to deal with a life-size ragdoll.

      As I turned on the shower overhead and the bath, all I could think was that if he died - you know - died a second and final death, I would be really upset. Even more upset than I would have been if I had been with Anya or Cordelia and they had died. It sort of creeped me out, forcing me to concentrate on cleaning him up.

      I started with his face, wiping the thick blood tears away as gently as I could before angling him more into the water stream so that I could rinse the drying blood from his hair. And it was then that I sort of grabbed a clue as to that there was something so much more majorly wrong that what it looked like at first. Spike's skin was this horrible grey colour, not the usual stark white that I've come to crave. His lips were a light blue, his eyes had started to sink back into his head. I can tell you now, I was almost afraid to touch him. Thought that maybe he would crumble into dust if I wasn't too careful.

      He really did look like a corpse and he was about as responsive as one. Kept talking to him, asking him to open his eyes...talk to me...grunt at me...do anything to show me that he could hear me. All through my washing of him, Spike kept crying and I had to keep washing his face. He was crying so hard that I actually got a little routine happening. You know, rub rub of the body, rinse Spike's face, rub rub of the body, rinse Spike's face.

      Finally, he was all clean and I was still just having to wipe at his face. Kept asking Spike to stop crying but he either couldn't hear me or didn't want to. I've seen him cry before. Lots of times and usually, I'm the one to make him cry but I had never seen tears like this. Spike sometimes cries long enough for his tears to become tinged with blood and from what the G-man told me, that's unusual and not healthy.

      Half the reason I yell at him to stop his crying is that I don't want him to make himself sick, the other is that I really hate it and it pisses me off more than anything. This time, however, all I could feel was this tight ball of fear deep in the pit of my stomach and I started to wonder just how long Spike had been crying real blood for. It had to have gone on for hours, for as long as I've been asleep because when I had to take Spike back to the spare bedroom, his tears were definately pink tinged then. Just thought that he would eventually stop, like he always does in the end. I think that maybe he had a nightmare and rolled around a whole lot on the bed which would have spread the blood around. Fuck, maybe he had a 'flash' or even an epileptic fit sort of thing? I don't know but I do know I'm scared shitless that he's not going to be around for much longer.

      But he didn't stop crying and this time, its my fault he's sick. I'm the one whose caused this. Not anyone else but me. I've tried to teach him a lesson and it's gone so seriously wrong and I have no idea of how to fix it.

      I can't get him to stop crying. Thought that giving him some blood would make him feel better and he would stop but all that did was make the tears flow faster. The tears are like a tap that I can't shut off, constantly flowing down his cheeks in a thick red trail. I can't believe how fast they are, he has to have lost well over a half dozen pints. Actually, he has to have lost more than that.

      I've tried to call Giles but he's not at home and the shop is closed. Left a message on Buffy's answering machine telling her to get Giles to ring me, same message that's on Will's and Tara's machine in their dorm room. It's times like this that I wished we had all gotten cell phones. At least that way, I could get Wills and Tara out looking for Giles. God, I'm ringing almost every fifteen minutes. They're going to kill me but I don't care. Spike's sick and he needs help. Now.

      I'm sitting in a cold bath tub, Spike wrapped in a thick blanket, his head resting against my chest because I know that he likes to listen to my heart beat. So, I'm hoping that in some way it's helping him. Don't know how but I'm hoping.

      Jesus Giles, ring soon.

      If he doesn't ring soon then I'm going to have to swallow my pride and ring Deadboy. I so seriously don't want to but I will if I have to.

      I'm so sorry Spike, I never meant for this to happen. I promise that I'll make it up to you. I..I know that I promise you a lot of things and I make promises even when I don't mean it but this time, I swear, I really do mean it. I just had to do this. Had to be the grown-up. Had to be the man and take control.

      What if I've pushed him over an edge that I didn't even know he was standing on?

      Please Spike?     


~*~*~*~*~



     5 March, Monday, 2001

      3.22 pm

      //Hello? Angel Investigations, we help the hopeless//, a male voice monotoned into the phone.

      "Umm, hi Angel. It's Xander," stated the somewhat nervous youth, hoping against all odds that Angel wouldn't just hang up on him. Sitting on a thick towel on the bathroom floor in an effort to make himself more comfortable, Xander kept close watch upon Spike for some sign of improvement.

      //Harris. Cordelia's not here at the moment, do you want me to get her to call you back?//

      "Ahhhh...umm..no. I don't want to talk to Cordy..ummm, I sort of need your help?" Xander tentively enquired. his stomach fluttering as he wondered just how to broach the subject with Angel.

      //You have a problem and you need my help? Let me guess, Giles and the other's can't help you and I'm your last resort?//

      "Yeah, you are. Anyway, its not me that's got the problem, well, ok it is in a way but it's Spike really. We need your help. Bad..really bad and no, Giles can't help with this because I can't find him so that means I need help from you."

      //Not interested. I want nothing to do with him and I really don't want to know anything about Spike unless his chip is out. Is it out?// came Angel's calm and emotionless reply.

      "Shit Angel, no its not and thanks for the whole 'care' factor. Like I sai..." snapped Xander, his nervousness giving way to annoyance as he was cut off by the other man.

      //What do you want Harris? I've got better things to do and if Spike has a problem, you sort it out. You're the one that took him to Alaska. It's your own fault if you can't handle him. If you're finding it hard, stake him and be done with it. Look, when you took Spike, I washed my hands of him. As far as I'm concerned, he's all yours.//, Angel shot back, his own voice now tinged with annoyance.

      "Spike's bleeding to death." blurted out Xander, his whole body tensing in anger at Angels attitude towards both himself and Spike, his tension reaching its peak at Angel's almost bellowed reply.

      //What?// Angel asked in a startled tone.

      "Since last night sometime. I only found him this morning. Angel, he's crying himself to death. Crying real blood and each time I try to feed him up again, he just cries faster. I..I don't know what to do." Xander said softly into the phone, reaching his free hand out to wipe away the tears from Spike's face with a damp washcloth.

      //Since last night? He's crying? Spike doesn't cry...ok, maybe he does since his accident but this sounds...odd. What happened?// Angel asked, his annoyance letting up a little as curiosity crept into his words.

      His body almost collapsing from the sudden release of tension, Xander gave a quick thanks to the heavens above that Angel was at least somewhat curious about what was wrong with Spike. With a deep breath and another quick face wipe for Spike, Xander started to tell Angel what had caused Spike's condition.

      "OK. He's been crying real blood since sometime late last night. I don't know how long because, you know, we don't...ummm...share a room or anything. We sort of had this huge fight and I got Spike upset enough so that he turned on the waterworks. He went to his room, I went to mine and that was it until this morning. Only found him after he didn't come out for his breakfast." said Xander, lying through his teeth. There was no way in Hell that he was actually going to tell Angel the real truth behind their relationship. "I knocked on his door and when he didn't answer, I went in to see if he was ok. I just thought that it was a bit weird that he would miss breakfast..he just never does that."

      //Very domestic for you both. Anyway, what happened then?//

      "He was covered in blood. Head to foot and he hasn't opened his eyes since I found him, hasn't moved either. He's just like a big ragdoll. I took him into the bathroom after I couldn't find anything wrong with him and washed him off. Spike's this weird grey colour all over. His eyes have sort of sunken back into his head and his lips are a funny blue colour."

      //A ragdoll? I'm sure Spike would like that. What's his skin feel like? Is he making any noises or moving at all?// The annoyance had now left the vampires tone.

      "No. No, not moving at all or making any sounds. His skin is really dry and sort of weird to touch and definately feels a lot cooler than usual. Jesus, how do I say this, I think he's, you know...shrivelling up?" stated Xander as he ran his free hand over Spikes drawn face. Looking down at the still form laying in the bath, Xander took in the changes that were ravaging Spike's body. In only a matter of hours, Spike had gone from a vampire in an almost perfect physical state to one that was in a seriously unhealthy condition. Since being found, Spike had lost all his muscle definition, his whole body growing so thin that Xander could just begin to see Spike's bone structure lying under the wrinkling paper like skin. The worst was how Spike's tortured body was starting to forcefully curl the vampire into a fetal position and still, Spike was continuing to cry at an alarming rate, something that Xander was finding both distasteful and frightening.

      As Xander relayed all this to Angel, he answered his lovers Sire's questions as truthfully as he could, without incriminating himself. Shifting the phone to his other hand, Xander reached out and started to gently run his fingers through Spike's damp dull hair only to quickly snatch his hand back in horror. With his hand held up to his face, Xander looked at what was sticking to it with a sick fascination.

      "Oh fuck..oh fuck me!"

      //What..what's wrong Xander, tell me?//

      "His hair! His fucking hair is coming out...I think I'm gonna b...."

      And with that, Xander moved as fast as he could towards the toilet, ignoring both the phone as it clattered onto the bathroom floor and the thin voice of Angel's questions. His stomach heaving, Xander gulped down deep breaths as he leant over the bowl. In a swift action, he tore off a length of toilet paper and furiously began wiping the strands of bleached hair that insisted on sticking to his palm and fingers.

      "It wont't come off...Why the hell isn't it coming off? Get off, just get off!" exclaimed Xander. All the while he was doing this, he could hear Angel's faint voice demanding that Xander pick up the phone and talk to him. Finally, after Xander could no longer see or feel any more of Spikes hair on his body, he rose from his knees and quickly washed his hands at the bathroom sink. Wet hands wiped on the small towel hanging next to the bath, Xander sat himself heavily upon the floor again and picked up the phone.

      //Xander...Harris? Haaaaarrrrisss? Xaaaaannn...// Angel sing-songed down the phone.

      "Deadboy...ANGEL! I'm here. Sorry about that but..Spike's hair..oh God..it's so gross!" grimaced Xander, unconsciously rubbing his palm against his thigh in an effort to get rid of the false sensation of Spike's hair clinging to his hand. "What? Sorry..so fucking sorry but I have this thing about hair, OK?"

      //I really didn't want to know that and I so very much don't want to know why you have such a thing about hair//

      "Don't worry Deadboy, I wouldn't tell you anyway and gee, sounds like someone has been hanging around Cordelia too much..Sorry..Jesus don't hang up...No, don't! Please?" pleaded Xander, his stomach lurching as Angel threatened to end the so far poor excuse for a conversation. As much as he disliked Angel, Xander forced himself to apologise, and with an eventual grunt of satisfaction from down the other end of the line, Xander listened as Angel ran through what Spike was currently experiencing.

      //So let me get this straight. You two have a fight last night, about what I really don't care, and you both go to your seperate rooms. You find Spike this morning and Spike is sort of dehydrating himself to death by crying continuously. Is that right?//

      "Yeah that's about right. Dea...Angel, he's dying..you know..Again. Angel, I like him. Since the crypt incident, we've become friends and I don't want to lose a friend. What's wrong with him and how do I fix it?"

      //Just friends huh? Are you sure about that? Alright..alright, just asking, no need to start yelling Harris. It's just..If its what I think it is and if I'm right...then it really isn't making any sense? Harris...Xander, have any other vampires or demons been hanging around either you or Spike?// came the firmly asked question.

      "Spike works for some Chinese demons and is pretty good friends with Lukas...Yeah that's right, the ones who own the restaurant and Lukas is the Kava demon..why?" Xander tentively answered. He really didn't like the path that Angel's questions were following and Xander was starting to have a bad feeling that he was going to have to tell Angel the exact nature of the relationship between Spike and himself, something he really didn't want to do.

      //Are you absolutely sure? You can't think of one other demon other than who you just mentioned that may be following Spike? Think Harris, this is very important//

      "None apart from the Veronkif's but we've never met them and anyway, Spike is the only vampire in Pennington. There's not much of demon community up here, its not like Sunnydale or even L.A. It's really small."

      //Veronkifs? No..they only stick to their own kind. They wouldn't touch Spike. What about vampires from another town?//

      With an exasperated sigh, Xander went on to tell Angel that the closest vampire lived in North Pole, a good forty five minutes away while both Fairbanks and Anchorage had a couple of small sized vampire gangs although they didn't cause many problems.

      "Seriously though Deadboy, we haven't crossed paths with any of them. All the demons up here sort of stay out each others way."

      //Uh-huh. This is making no sense at all. Ahhhhh..is Spike seeing anyone...Sleeping with anyone?// Angel hesitantly enquired.

      "No! I...I mean not that I know of and what does that have to do with how he is now? Look..are you going to help us or not?" demanded Xander, his fear for Spike's well-being giving way to another wave of annoyance due to the direction of Angel's questions. Picking up the wash cloth, Xander postioned the phone in the crook of his neck as he turned on the bath taps to rinse the blood from the once white cloth.

      //Harris, I'm trying to help you alright? Good. OK, does Spike have...um...any sort of feelings for you?// was the next obviously reluctant question.

      "What? No..I mean..we are friends but no...no way. I'm not gay Deadboy...and Spike..no fucking way!" Xander shot back, his heart starting to beat rapidly as Angel finally stepped into the very territory that Xander was trying to avoid. Xander couldn't believe he was lying so much and he only hoped that it wouldn't all blow up in his face, although he knew that by telling the truth he would make it so much easier, Xander just wasn't ready to declare himself 'out' to his lover's Sire. "What do you mean feelings...you so can't be meaning the 'happy..gay' sort?"

      //Exactly the 'happy gay' sort and I asked if Spike did, not you afterall, we all know you're not gay. You've said that often enough. So does he have more than friendly intentions towards you or not? Harris...Xander? Are you still there? Answer me?//

      Oh God, thought Xander, I can't believe I'm gonna say this. With a deep breath, he answered Angel's question.

      "I think so. Ummmm....one night, not too long after we first arrived here, we got really drunk and he...ahhhhh...sort of tried to..you know..ummm..kiss me. But..but..I told him straight away that I wasn't like that and we sort of never went to that scary little place again." said Xander, his annoyance giving way to shame by the need to place the blame solely on Spike. Unable to stop himself from the false confession, he continued. "That is until last night. He...he..tried to kiss me again, I sort of pushed him away and that's what we fought about. I said some really bad things and I'm the one that made him start crying. I just thought that he would stop, he always does in the end."

      Bottom lip chewed nervously, Xander felt his whole face flush with a deep heat as Angel gave a short laugh. With a familiar ease, Xander reached over, and with the damp washer, carefully wiped the twin trails of blood from Spike's dry cracked face.

      //Bet admitting that just about killed you huh Harris? Yeah..it did, I can hear it. Alright...alright, don't get so annoyed..Sorry alright? Fine. From what Giles told me about Spike after his accident, you're the one looking out for Spike..is that right? He's somewhat dependant on you? Hmmm..thought so.//

      Oh Jesus. He knows, thought Xander.

      His palms sweating, Xander gulped audibly as his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth in his suddenly dry mouth. With growing worry, Xander waited for Angel to continue.

      //Before you say it, I know you're not gay but have you..ever..given Spike any sort of come on...given him an indication that you in...let me finish Harris...in any way might possibly return his feelings? Think Xander, anything at all? A touch here or there...a few looks between you...did you return the kiss last night?// Hesitant once again to ask questions of this thread, Angel nethertheless plowed ahead.

      "W..why? I mean..no..no, I..I don't think so. Why..why are you asking me this?" croaked out Xander, horrified that he already knew why Angel was asking these type of questions. Xander couldn't help himself, he just had to hear Angel spellout what he already knew and with that thought, he found himself gently stroking Spike's hollow cheek as Angel continued.

      //You say no but you're really not sure. Xander, you said something earlier about Spike's skin being cooler than normal...how often do you touch Spike to know that?//

      "Aaaahhhh...errrrr, sometimes when he has a..uuuhhh..crying fit, he..he needs a bit...bit of human contact. A hug so I..you know..justdothatandnothingelse" Xander blurted out somewhat truthfully. Ashamed of himself and the need to lie almost compulsively, Xander found himself wiping a hand over his eyes in order to stop the pricking of tears. Never in his whole life had he ever felt such conflicting emotions as he was currently experiencing. Even thought Xander wanted to do all he could to help Spike, he just couldn't seem to do what was needed and what was needed was to tell Angel the whole truth. As he waited for Angel to make some sort of comment as to what he had just said, Xander admitted to himself that the reason he was so unwilling to tell Angel all was that he in no way wanted Angel to become interested in Spike again.

      //So a hug every now and again is the closest you two get? Uh-huh. Last night..you basically rejected Spike's advances..you did..right. And that's what the fight was about wasn't it...right. Last night...did you make a final rejection of him...I mean something...something more than before..like ask him to move out..threaten to end the friendship at all?// came the carefully worded query.

      "Yes." whispered Xander, collapsing heavily against the side of the bath as he recalled his carefully thought out punishment for Spike. Shock coursing through his body at the far reaching ramifications he had caused, Xander went on. "I...I sort of told him that I wouldn't put up with that type of shit anymore. I pretty much put my foot down and that's what got him so upset."

      //Harris, what do you know about vampire relationships? Particularly Claimants and Adored's? Harris...Xander? Xaaaannndeeerrr? Hello? Hello..you still there? Answ...//

      "Yeah...yeah. I'm still here. Ummm..sorry..sorry what did you say Angel?" asked Xander, forcing himself to concentrate on what Angel was repeating. "A bit. I do know a bit about it. Read about it in one of the books that the G-man thinks he's hidden away. Why?"

      //Ok...what I think is that, for a reason that totally escapes me, Spike has somehow latched onto you and is identifiying you as his Claimant and has convinced himself that he is your Adored. You following me so far?//

      "Uh-huh. Spike's my Adored and I'm his Claimant. Right." Xander replied, his heart sinking at Angels words. With a shaky hand, Xander reached up and wiped away the first of his tears. If only the earth would swallow him, thought Xander. He honestly couldn't ever remember being so ashamed, embarrassed and scared at the same time in his whole life.

      //Now I know you wouldn't have gone through the Claiming process so I won't go into that. What I'm pretty sure is happening is that your final rejection of Spike has started something called 'The Shaming'. I don't really know how to explain it, only that you won't find it in any of the Watcher's Diaries or in any books about Vampires. It's something that's only very, very rarely seen. What happens is that when an Adored has had, what they feel, is a final rejection from his Claimant, the Adored goes into a crying fit..exactly like you described..and pretty much cries themselves to death. The more they cry, the more their body breaks down and...disolves...into blood in order for them to keep crying. Finally, they get so dehydrated, they just crumble into dust.//

      Horrified, Xander just sat and listened as Angel described the ritual in a calm voice, a cold clinical tone taking over the hesitancy of the earlier questions.

      //Basically, what Spike is doing is committing suicide. He'd rather be dead than live with the shame of you rejecting him. It's a last ditch attempt to get your attention and hopefully convince you to accept him.//

      "Keep...keep going. I need to know?" Xander softly pleaded, hating himself for what he had caused.

      //It's rare because usually when a Claimant has had enough of their Adored, they either give them to another Claimant and they have a token fight with the old Claimant 'losing' to the new one to allow the Claimant taking over to iniate the Claiming process, turn the Adored away after five years has passed and allowing them to become a free vampire again or they just stake them. Sometimes, its even the Adored who chooses the new Claimant and organises the fight between his or her current Claimant and the new one.//

      "Why does this..this 'Shaming' happen? I mean I know why but...you know...why?"

      //Because this is the only option left open to them. When all the pleading, the offering of themselves and all attempts to become the Claimants most 'Adored' possession once again has failed, this is their last cry for attention and help. Do you understand? What happened last night between you both was the catalyst for this. Harris, what did you say to him...what did you do because for Spike to start 'The Shaming'...something big must have happened.//

      'Offering of themselves?' With Angel's words sending chills down his spine, Xander couldn't help but think back to the night before when he had found Spike willingly offering himself like a woman to Xander. Barely hearing Angel's questions, Xander couldn't help but start crying out loud, something that prompted Angel to ask if he was alright.

      "No...no I'm not alright Angel. This is my fault. We didn't just have an argument last night. I had a shower and when I got back into my room, Spike was naked and...and..off..offering himself to me. He offered himself to me Angel and all I did was yell at him and drag him back into the spare bedroom."

      //What?// demanded Angel, his calm demeanour gone in an instant as he listened to what Xander was admitting.

      "I did. I yelled at him and rejected him totally and this is all my fault. I've killed him....Oh my God, I'm killing him right now..how do I fix this...Please Angel...Help me?"

      //I've only seen it fixed once and it doesn't matter how because it doesn't apply to you and Spike. Xander, this isn't your fault. You had no idea that Spike thought of you this strongly...ok, you knew he was attracted to you but not like this. The best and most humane thing you can do for him right now is to stake him.// Angel replied somewhat uncomfortably, trying his best not to sound too harsh.

      "NO! I will not murder him. I can't just stake him....Deadboy, I can't. How do I fix him?" asked Xander, every last bit of his pride vanishing as he was reduced to pleading with someone he couldn't even stand living in the same city as.

      //Just calm yourself down Harris. You are going to have to stake him to put him out of his misery. The sooner, the better. If you...no, you just listen...if you do it now, you can save him hours of agony. You don't want him to suffer do you...you are his friend aren't you? Of course it would hurt! How do you think it would feel to have your body disolving? Are you crying Harris?//

      "I..I couldn't tell if he hurt or not and fuck you..yes I'm crying. I..he. He's my friend and I've killed him so yeah, allow me to feel just a little upset about that...is that alright with you? Oh really...are you sure? Well fuck you very much Liam," spat Xander, unable to help himself from lashing out verbally at the only person available. Smiling bitterly to himself, Xander listened as Angel swore at him and abused Xander for calling him by his human name.

      //You asshole, what gives you the right to call me that? Hmmm..just what gives you the damn right? Don't you ever call me that again....never! No-one calls me that and if you know what's good for you, you'll never repeat that word anywhere where I or others can hear it. Do you understand? Good. The only reason I'm not hanging up on you is that my life wouldn't be worth living if Cordelia found out I didn't help you....you got that Alexander Lavelle?// came the icy reply.

      "Bastard! And lets all hail 'Queen C's' reign of terror on the undead shall we?" shot back Xander, wiping at Spikes tears before he put down the cloth and wiped at his own. His smile growing a mere fraction warmer as he recalled just how scary Cordelia could be up close and personal when offended, Xander knew that Angel had a very legitimate fear for his own life. Xander's anger towards Angel calming down a little as he finally found that they had something in common, he continued. "Yeah, she can be a little...vicious at times can't she?"

      //No...really? She's mellowed though..a lot. Suits her too but she's still more than happy to vent an 'opinion' when she wants to.//

      "Yeah, don't I know it. Deadboy....I'm sorry. I'm upset and I really want to fix Spike. Can we just forget about what I said?" tentively enquired Xander, both thankful for Cordelia's reputation for being a little scary and hating himself even more as he was forced to continue to beg for Angels help. "Fuck it! Angel...I'll pay you if that's what its going to take...I can sell the car..the stereo..whatever? Just tell me how the other Adored was fixed."

      //All forgotten Harris. Just bear in mind what I said and everything will be fine. You really like Spike huh? Yeah well, you're pretty much the only one who does then and don't worry, we'll call this a favour and one day maybe you can repay me OK? Good. Now, the only time I've seen it happen is when a Claimant finally decided that he wanted his Adored to stick around for a little longer. The only thing that's going to slow down Spike's 'Shaming' is either Sire's blood or Claimant blood.//

      "How...Tell me how?"

      //I don't know why you want to know this...it's not going to work for you two..you're not his Claimant. Ok..ok...don't yell at me, alright? It takes a vampire who is bound to the Adored by either scent or blood to halt 'The Shaming'. Sires are bound by blood and Claimants are bound by scent, sometimes both. Once the Adored has drunk enough blood and has stopped crying, the Claimant then has to nurse the Adored back into health and once the Adored is healthy enough, the bond between them is re-established and everyone is happy again. There, satisfied?// said Angel, a little snidely.

      "Just..like..that?" asked Xander, his mind reeling as to how he was supposed to find Diehl at such short notice. He knew that Diehl recruited for the army but where he was at that moment, Xander had no idea. With a deep groan, Xander forced himself to listen to Angel once again.

      //No..no, its not that simple. Harris, the Claimant has to repeatedly assure the Adored that they are wanted, needed and most of all, loved. Just suppose you manage to stop Spike crying, are you going to tell him that you love him? I really don't think so, do you? Because if you do, it's just going to give Spike the come on and when you reject his advances again...Do you know where I'm headed with this?//

      "Umm...Spike starts 'The Shaming' again?" Xander questioned even though he already knew the answer. Unconsciously, he nodded his head as Angel confirmed the truth.

      //Xander, stake him. Be a good friend and just do it. Put him ou...// started Angel in a soft voice before he was cut off by Xander.

      "Would it work if the Claimant was a human? Angel..would it?"

      //Harris...what's going on? Tell me you didn't?// came the demanding question.

      "Just answer me Deadboy, if Spike was Claimed by a human, would the ritual work?" Xander asked in an equally demanding tone of voice, his stomach fluttering in nervousness even as his hopes were bumped up a notch.

      After a lenghy silence on both ends of the phone, Angel was the one to break it, speaking in such a calm tone, Xander couldn't help but shiver at the underlying menace.

      //Are you his Claimant?//

      "No. I know who is and he's due to see Spike on Friday."

      //Spike's going to be dust by then, Xander...you have something to tell me don't you?//

      With a half choked sob, Xander found himself feeling a little lightheaded as he realised he was going to have to tell Angel the whole truth. Just as he wiped at a stray tear, he was struck with a sudden thought that made him give a half-hearted smile.

      "Yeah Angel, I have to tell you a big complicated something."

     





But I love you? Part 4

     5 March, Monday, 2001

     4.52 pm

     //You stupid..stupid boy! What the Hell did you think you were playing at?//

     Wincing at Giles' question, Xander found himself wiping at the tears that threatened to flow. "I...I didn't know...I didn't know that this could happen. I swear Giles, if I knew...if I thought....thought that..."

     //Thought? That's the whole problem Xander, you didn't think. Did you? No. For heaven's sake, why? Why on earth did you meddle with something that you had no idea about?//

     "I don't know..I just did, OK?"

     //No...no its most certainly not just all ok...alright or whatever you seem to think it will be. From what Angel has told me, Spike is already well on the way to his final death and I for one happen to agree with him this time. You must put Spike out of his misery. Now.// came the angry reply.

     "Giles...Please. I've already gone through this with Angel...God, I can't believe he's rung you already...I can't kill Spike. I...I don't...you know...love him but I don't just like him...it's more than that..." Xander stated, his stomach rumbling with hunger, a sensation he tried to ignore as he twisted to one side in order to wipe at Spikes tears. With an involuntary gag as he caught sight of the vampire's shrivelled features, Xander instantly re-directed his gaze to the shower wall. Blindly and a little roughly, he patted the cloth over the tightly stretched skin covering Spikes face, hoping that he had mopped up most of the continuing tears.

     //How dare you say that? If Angel hadn't had the common sense to call me before you did, then just what little fabricated story would you have given me...hmmm...what would it have been Xander? He's told me that you lied, he's told me the whole story. You're just damn lucky that Angel is taking time out to help you with this...I've got a good mind to hang up on you. I'm disgusted at how stupid you have been// stated Giles, his voice, although not rising, took on an icy tone.

     "I'm not staking him and that's final. Angel said that he would help me and I'm...Spike...we're both counting on that. You're...ah...ummm....gonna help too aren't you...Please?" ventured Xander, a louder rumbling of his stomach reminding him that he had skipped dinner, yet another meal that he hadn't even contemplated preparing yet alone eating. The bloody cloth wrung out into an ice-cream container already half full of Spike's blood beside him, Xander grimaced as a few drops of the thick liquid splattered his old tracksuit pants.

     //Of course I damn well am...no matter how tempting it is to hang up on you. I...I just can't believe that this is happening...of all the people to meddle with magic and rituals... I thought that you were mature enough to leave such things alone//answered Giles with a weary sigh.

     "I'm sorry...Jesus...I am so fucking sorry...how many times do I have to say that?" replied the humiliated youth, embarrassed that he, out of all his friends, had been the one to let Giles down.

     //Honestly? You couldn't say it enough at this point in time. Anyway...enough of this. We can discuss this more when Angel arrives but for now, I need to know if what Spike said about Riley and his...ahhhh...friends is true?//

     "Yeah Giles...he wouldn't make something like that up. Spike doesn’t...he doesn't lie to me...since the accident...I don't think he lies at all anymore" admitted Xander, conveniently forgetting about all the times that Spike had in fact lied to him and how he had 'helped' Spike to think about not doing it again. "I...I mean he does at times but...but it's just about small things, not big things like what Arseholes Inc. did to him. Shit Giles, I caught two of them trying to rape Spike down at the park just before we left...I fucking caught them!"

     //I beg your pardon, what did you say? Arseholes Inc.? And you said that y...you caught them trying to abuse Spike...is that right...is that what you said?// came the reply, Giles' voice tinged with puzzlement and more than a little worry.

     "Ummm...sorry, that’s what he calls them. Arseholes Incorporated...you know, Inc. for short. Riley and his so-called friends are the ones who messed Spike up in the crypt...God...I used to wonder why Spike always freaked out whenever Riley came over to the apartment...used to wonder why he always hid in our bedroom until Riley was gone. I..I knew that he had been, you know...umm...raped but I just thought that he was afraid of Riley because Riley was another male....that sort of thing. Jesus, Spike only told me who did it to him after a couple of the pricks cornered him in the supermarket car-park one night and started touching him up and yeah...I did catch them. Martinez and Corey." Xander replied, his voice rising with anger as he recalled how the other two men had been hell-bent on damaging something that by all rights, belonged to him.

     //Dear God. Xander...why didn't you tell me as soon as you knew? That was the reason you moved wasn't it...not the job situation? You moved in order to try and protect him. Why didn't you tell Buffy?//

     "Tell her what G-Man? 'Gee Buff...sorry to tell you but your boyfriend is a homo rapist who likes to give demons who can't defend themselves brain damage and his so called friends are all physcho stalkers....do you think you can ask them to stop hassling me and Spike?' You think that might have worked Giles?" snapped Xander.

     //Ah...right...of course. I do see your point of view. Certainly, you couldn't have told Buffy but you most assuredly should have told me as soon as you became privy to the information. I have seen this Martinez in the company of Riley, as well as a Graham...was Graham one of the men who...who...ahhhh...abused Spike?// came the demanded question, the older man's voice almost trembling with anger.

     "Raped Spike Fuck Giles, they didn't just abuse him....you know as well as I do...they raped him and from the bruises, it was more than once. Yeah, Graham is one of them and another one...Diehl." sighed Xander, a weary hand rubbing at the beginning headache that seemed intent on burrowing itself through his right temple.

     //Yes. I..I did see the bruises. I must admit that I suspected something like that had happened but when nothing was said...I...I just brushed it aside and up until now, I've been more than happy not to think about it. And lets face it, even if I had questioned Spike about it, I very much doubt that he would have admitted it had happened. It's not a subject that any man wants to acknowledge.// said Giles in soft voice, the regret colouring his words was all to plain for Xander to hear.

     "Ummmm...G...Giles?" Xander questioned in an equally soft voice, his face burning a bright red as he prepared himself to admit to the older man his own involvement in Spike's torture of so long ago. "I..I could have stopped it. I mean...I don't think that I could have stopped everything but...but...most of it. I think. If I had…he might not have been...you know...so very badly hurt"

     //And you may not have stopped anything at all...you may in fact have made matters worse.//

     "No...no. Spike told me that if I had just looked for him that night instead of going home and eating a fucking Twinkie, I could have stopped them...helped him…you know? I could have." came the reply, Xander unconsciously pleading with Giles to tell him that what he had done was ok and that he shouldn't still be feeling guilty for not having somehow prevented Spike's injuries.

     //Xander...what would you have been able to do? Ask them to stop? Tell five ex-Initative men that what they were doing to a creature they more than likely considered lower than an animal, was wrong? Would you have taken one look at what was happening and rung the police...come and got me to help you...told Buffy what Riley was doing to Spike or would you have waded right in and thrown a few punches on Spike's behalf?//

     "I don't know! Something....." A frustrated Xander answered back, the hand curled around the phone tightening so that the plastic groaned. "Yeah, but Riley would have stopped...I mean...I'm his friend and I already knew Graham and Martinez....they would have. Right?"

     Not bothering to tell Giles that in fact now Angel was considered more of a friend than Riley ever had been, Xander found himself holding his breath as he listened to the reply. As he took in the carefully stated words, his blood ran cold.

     //Really? Are you so sure of that? Would they have stopped and muttered an apology or two, asking you not to tell anyone or would Riley have invited you to join the party? Xander....they could very well have just put you in Spike's place and I shudder to think of what could have befallen you once they realised whom they were abusing.//

     "W...what do you...mean?" whispered Xander, knowing full well what Giles was trying to get through to him.

     //Xander...doing away with any evidence in a permanent way would have been a very strong desire. Spike wasn't disposed of only because no-one would have believed him and their desire for him to suffer but you...people would have believed your story if you ever told them and that would have posed a very big threat to their futures...especially for Riley and his relationship with Buffy. What I am trying to say is that even though Riley would have most assuredly been horrified at what he had done once he was sober enough, when someone is caught in a pack mentality, a group desire is virtually impossible to deny.// said Giles in a soft sad voice, somewhat uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation.

     "And when you're drunk...anything seems like a good idea at the time, huh?" wryly admitted Xander, shivering as his mind flashed him a disturbing image of Riley beating his head in with a rock from the crypt floor while his friends cheered him on.

     //Yes, quite true. Dear God...I just have no idea of what to tell Buffy and she has to be told...she has every right to know what her...her...boyfriend considers as an outing with the lads. Unfortunately, I don't think that she will believe a word of it. Especially as it's Spike who is pointing the finger.//

     "She won't believe me either will she?" questioned Xander, knowing full well that Buffy was notoriously stubborn and would more than likely accuse him of having the wool pulled over his eyes by Spike. "Buff will just say that Spike is back to his old tricks of causing trouble won't she?"

     //Yes...yes, I'm afraid that she more than likely will see it that way. She...she...sometimes, there is just no getting through to her and it's safe to say that this is going to be one of those times.// Giles sighed, his voice heavy with weariness. //I don't know what to do about Riley and those friends of his but I most certainly do not want him any where near the girls...I don't doubt any of them would be able to handle themselves....//

     "But it's better to be safe than sorry?" finished Xander, inwardly cringing as he went to wipe at Spike's face again. "G-Man?"

     //Xander...For heaven's sake...do not call me that...please?// pleaded Giles as Xander fell back onto a habit from previous years.

     "Yeah. Sorry. Jesus...all I seem to be doing today is saying sorry, you know? Sorry to Spike...Sorry to Angel for pissing him off...sorry to you and I guess I'll be saying sorry for along time in the future huh?" admitted Xander, nodding to himself even as Giles angrily told him that Xander would indeed be apologising for quite some time. With a wry grimace on his face, Xander listened as the older man once again aired his despair over what to do with the Riley and Buffy situation, Giles stating that it would be best for Buffy's boyfriend to just leave quietly and to never return to Sunnydale or Buffy. Something that Giles was unsure of how to facilitate.

     The grimace twisting into a ghost of smile, Xander had to stop himself from blurting out that the Riley problem was probably going to be taken care of as soon as Angel caught up with the taller blond. Xander wasn't one hundred percent sure but he had a very bad feeling that Angel was going to have a severe 'talking to' with Riley as soon as Spike was in the clear. Shuddering, Xander could all too clearly remember the menacing growl from Angel as Xander had done as he had been asked and confirmed Riley's Sunnydale address. As much as he currently hated Riley, Xander couldn't help but pity the other man for being on a Master Vampires Most Wanted List.

     Hoping to all the Gods he knew that no-one else from L.A. or Sunnydale ever found out about Angel's extra-curricular activities, Xander found himself jerked back to reality as an annoyed Giles demanded that Xander provide an answer of some sort.

     "Wha - sorry..again. What did you say? I was...ahhh...wiping Spike's face. Didn't really listen. Sorry?" Xander hurriedly covered as he rubbed a hand over his face. Suddenly yawning, he listened as Giles berated him not for paying attention, his body beginning to ache from stress and hunger.

     //Xander...I was asking if you were prepared for what you’re going to have to do if we can't help Spike?// came the exasperated voice, tinged with sympathy.

     "No...No I'm not. I don't even want to think about that Giles. I...I know that I may have to....stake him but...But...he...Spike isn't just some vampire all mental...flashing fang and ready eat straight from the grave....he's...more than just that"

     //That's right, he is and that's precisely why it would be in his best interests, if not yours, to end his pain now//

     "Fuck Giles...he's not just some...some dog you take down to the vet for a final visit when its looking all tired out. He's my...my..boyfriend. He's more than just that...he's my friend" declared an equally exasperated Xander, his eyes burning from the fresh tears that threatened to fall. A little amazed that he had finally acknowledged Spike's role in his life after considering him no more than just a fuck-buddy that he essentially owned for so long, Xander forced himself to look properly at the still form in the bathtub. In words so quiet that they couldn't be heard, he repeated himself. "He's my boyfriend. Jesus...Spike's my boyfriend Oh my God...I'm in a...a relationship"

     His wide brown eyes taking in the skeletal creature that Spike continued to shrivel into, Xander stared at the blood staining the hollow cheeks. He slowly slid his gaze down the sickly grey body, absently counting each of the horribly prominent ribs as he did so. With more than a little embarrassment, he found himself riveted to the sight of Spikes hairless crotch, the hair having fallen out sometime during his conversation with Giles. The same as most of Spike's once full head of hair. Xander knew beyond a doubt that if it had been any other time, he would be fascinated to know how Spike felt being all hairless...down there.

     Now however, all he could feel was disgust, helplessness and an almost overwhelming shame at how Spike continued to deteriate at such a rapid rate. As he continued to listen to Giles put forth reasons as to why Xander should stake Spike immediately, he dragged his gaze from the vampire’s withered lower legs, glancing over the concave stomach that only hours ago had been defined by tight toned muscles and up to Spikes face again, noting how agonisingly sharp the cheekbones looked under the tightly drawn skin. With a hesitant hand, Xander reached out and took a small lock of the dull bleached hair in-between his fingers. Dry retching as the hair came away from the scalp without any resistance at all, he had an odd thought of how upset Spike was going to be over his white blond pride and joy. Deep breaths taken to quell the queasy feeling in his stomach, Xander jumped into the conversation as Giles paused.

     "You don't know how hard this is for me....both you and Deadboy keep telling me to just...just shove a table leg into him, wash his dust from my hands and then everything will be ok again. This hurts Giles"

     //Is...is there someone who...ah...could do it for you instead? If...if it ever does come down to it? Xander...as much as you are to blame for this...I..I hate the fact that none of us are there to help you with this// came the soft reply, Giles voice once again coloured with regret over the situation. //I can't even begin to imagine how you feel at the moment but...but I did promise to help you and I will, as shall Angel when he arrives but if nothing works......//

     "I know, I know. Stake Spike. I so don't want to make that choice...I guess I know how Buff felt when Angel turned into the Very Big Bad. God...I was such a complete arsehole to her...guess its Karma or something huh?" sniffled Xander, a short bitter laugh coming through on the last of his words.

     //Yes you were but so were we all. So if it is indeed Karma, then I think that you've gotten much more than you deserve as has Spike. Xander...I'm going to leave you until Angel arrives...please...please do not do anything stupid until I call back alright?// Giles quietly pleaded with a voice that clearly expressed all the worry that he was feeling.

     "Oh...I think I've learnt my lesson. Don't worry G-Man...No more stupidity from one Xander Harris...well...not until the next time heh?" Xander sheepishly replied, twirling the dry lock of hair in-between his fingers. Hurriedly flinging the brittle strands into the bath and wiping his hand upon his sweatpants as soon as he realised what he was doing, Xander wryly agreed with Giles. "Yeah...yeah...I know. No laughing matter at all...gotcha."

     //Xander...I will call, OK?//

     "Soon?"

     //As soon as I can or Angel will and please....do be at least a little civil towards him? Right...I'm going. Bye//

     "Yeah...bye" replied Xander, pressing the hang up button and putting the phone down beside the ice-cream container. His gaze still focused upon the prone body in the bath, Xander couldn't help but think that he was going to have to stake Spike no matter how much help both Giles and Angel ended up providing him with. God, if only he could drag Diehl into the bathroom and somehow feed him to Spike...then..then everything would be ok again.

      How though was the million dollar question.




~*~*~*~*~


     5 March, Monday, 2001

     4.52 pm

     Hurt.

     Hurt.

     Ohhhhhhh...Hurt.

     Ffffuuuuuck...this...this pain...Agony.

     Feel you. Can feel you touch me Pet. Touching my face.

     I'm cold. I don't feel the cold usually...I shouldn't be feeling the cold, I'm in bed. All wrapped up in the blankets you gave me. I am though. I'm cold. I hurt.

     All over.

     My head aches so bad. Rub just behind my ears Xan, please? Make the hurt stop. You’re good at that. You hurt me but you always make it go away. Always.

     I don't feel so well.

     Hurt.

     Why? What's wrong with me?

     My eyes. I can't open my eyes. I know you're there...I know you’re near me. I want to see you...why can't I see you...what's happening?

     Friggin’ freezing in this room Xan, need that filthy fuckin’ stove turned up.

     Hurt.

     I feel sick...Christ, all I wanna do is heave.

     So tired. I can't make out what you’re saying...I can hear you. My head hurts too much...all I can hear is bloody mumble jumble shit. I like it though, I like you being near me. Safe, that’s what you make me feel. Can you touch me some more?

     Talk to me Whelp. No...don't stop...keep going...Please?

     Hurting...hurting...hurting.

     Help me...what's happened to me? Did I have a 'flash'....am I still having one? Is this a new type of 'flash'...is this sodding chip doin’ me head in even more?

     My bed’s cold. It's hard. Why? Where's my pillow...what happened to it? Why aren't you beside me...holding me? Am I lying on the floor again?

     Why do you keep touching my face...what are you rubbing at me with? Why is it wet? I can't wiggle my toes...are they still there? You didn't.....teach me another lesson did you? You wouldn't have...would you? They’re still there...right?

     What's wrong with me...what's happening?

     Hurt.

     Tired.

     Why can't I move? I want to talk to you…I want to see you...Help me? Don't you want me to talk anymore? Did you tie me down again...is this a game? Did you want to do something kinky and haven't told me?

     Did you put something over my eyes...is that why I can't see you? Are my eyes open...everything is black...are we in a dark room...is that why I can't see you?

     There's something wrong with me. I don't feel right.

     I can smell you. Why are you afraid? Please don't be afraid...why are you upset? I can smell that you've been crying.

     Why?

     You don't cry. I cry but you don't. You're the strong one, I'm the retard...the one who needs you. Please Pet...I'm getting scared. Help me...tell me what’s wrong with me?

     Are you there?

     Don't go...no...no...don't go.

     Don't leave me?

     Pleeeeeaaaase....please. I want you...need you.

     Hurt...hurt...hurt.

     Ohhhhhhhh...please Pet, make the hurt go away. I know you will. You always do.

     Tired.

     I think I'm having a dream....I think this is a nightmare.

     I'll just sleep a bit and you can wake me up in the morning.

     Hurt.

     Cold...God...so *fucking* cold.

     I feel weird...bit floaty-like.

     Drifting.

      Might just drift awhile.


~*~*~*~*~


     5 March, Monday, 2001

     7.30pm

     "Yeah yeah...hang on. Shit...just hang on!" hollered Xander in response to the continual loud banging on the cabin’s front door. With a deep frown and gritted teeth, he concentrated on trying to pour the last of the ice-cream container’s contents down Spike’s throat. This was something that was harder than Xander had ever thought possible due to the way the sickly vampire was now laying in the bath. Over the last few hours since getting off the phone to Giles, Spike’s tortured body had curled fully into a tight fetal position, making it nearly impossible for Xander to get any of blood he had carefully wrung out of the face washer and into the gallon-sized container into Spike's mouth let alone down his throat.

     "Great idea Deadboy. Feed Spike his own blood he says. It'll slow down the crying," Xander snapped to himself, mopping up the blood that poured straight out the lax mouth. Just managing to catch the gory tide before it flowed over the vampire's cheek and spread out over the bottom of the bath like it had done so many times before. Xander wrinkled his nose in unhidden disgust as the rough material of the fresh washcloth not only cleaned away the thick liquid but also took a large amount of the flaky skin off Spike’s face with it. "Yeah great fucking idea. Of course, it would help if Spike would fucking well swallow it. Christ this is disgusting."

     As soon as the words came out of his mouth, Xander found himself cringing inwardly at how harsh he sounded towards not only Angel but Spike as well. Dimly he noted that whoever had been intent on knocking down his door only moments before was now gone, something that he quickly pushed to the far end of his mind as he apologized to Spike.

     "Sorry Spike. I didn't mean to call you disgusting...I mean, not that you are or anything...aaahhhh...yeah. No, you're still...ummm...really...good looking and everything." ventured Xander, hoping to God that Spike wouldn't start crying any harder. That is if Spike was still capable of hearing. Angel had informed Xander that even as an Adored continued to deteriorate, they would still be able to hear, feel, taste and smell anything that went on around them until their senses also started to fail them the closer they came to the final phase - the final phase being the most brutal of all as the Adored entered their second death. Once the Adored's fingers and toes started to turn into a fine dry ash and crumble away from the main body, according to Angel, there was no turning back.

     Xander shuddered as he went over the last piece of information in his mind, shame once again flaring up deep within him. After Angel had finally arrived at Giles’ place, the ex-Watcher had performed a scrying spell that had enabled both he and Angel to look at Spike's condition. To say that they had been shocked was a definite understatement and as Xander had been forced to accept another tongue-lashing from both men while talking to them on the phone, Angel had reluctantly re-evaluated his thoughts on just how far away Spike was from the final phase of The Shaming. Whilst he had been on the phone to Spike's Sire in L.A., Xander had been horrified and yet somewhat relieved to learn that The Shaming usually took no less than a week to complete all the phases. A week had meant he had time to try and make Spike well again.

     Unfortunately, upon seeing Spike with his own eyes, Angel had come to the conclusion that his Childe only had a maximum of three to four days left. Giles had ended the conversation, commenting that maybe with maybe Spike's damaged emotional center was the reason the once blond vampire was so advanced in his condition. It hadn't been a pleasant phone call as Xander had had to argue for Spike's life when he was pressed to end it. As Angel had icily replied to all of Xander's angrily shouted reasons as to why Spike should live, the older vampire had stunned the upset youth into silence with an offer of a pint of Sire blood. Unable to voice his thanks for fear of breaking down, Xander had just looked up at the spot on the shower wall that Giles had said the scrying spell had taken residence in, and nodded gently. It was offer that Xander was currently waiting for to come to fruition.

     "Please Spike...please swallow? Just gulp down all that nummy goodness you can taste. Mmmmmmm...Don't you just wanna swallow the lot?" Xander pleaded, his words tapering into a soft whisper as he forced himself not to retch as he placed his mouth beside Spike's right ear. Jerking his head back the instant his lips brushed against the dry skin peeling from the vampire's ear, he rubbed furiously at his mouth with the back of his hand, horrified by the idea that something might be sticking to his mouth. As his rubbing slowed down, Xander filled the otherwise silent bathroom with a deep sigh and leaned in as close as he dared towards Spike. "I know you can hear me Spike. The Poof said you could. Did I tell you Deadboy is with Giles? He's got Wesley coming up to help the G-Man with a portal spell and then when that’s done, there's gonna be a nice...yummy...bowl of Sire's blood for you. Sounds good doesn't it?"

     "Dea...Angel really cares about you. I mean, he wouldn't give you his blood if he didn't would he? Wes and Giles really like you too. Like I said, if they didn't then they wouldn't help you...they would just say no and that would be it, but nope...they're....they're pulling out all the stops to tr...make you better again." he stated as brightly as he could. With a hope that he was coloring his words with as much love as possible, Xander continued. "I care about you too. Hell...I care more than any of them put together so I know that you're gonna be just fine...besides...I want my...my... I want to know what you’re giving me for my birthday. Please don't die. You don't know how much I'll....I'll....m-miss you?"

     His words dying down to a cracked whisper, Xander wanted nothing more to gather Spike in his arms, wrapping the vampire up in one of the strong hugs that he knew Spike loved receiving. Something that Spike had often initiated when the blond was having one of his 'bad' days and it was a gesture that always had Xander feeling protective and tender towards the other man. His mouth curving into a ghost of smile at the thought, Xander felt a sudden burst of heat flare up across his face as he remembered the last time Spike had tried to make his way tearily into Xander's arms. With the fire of shame coursing through his body, the youth wearily closed his eyes as he re-called how he had viciously shoved Spike down onto the ground, screaming that as he had had a bad day himself, he wasn't in the mood to put up with Spike's useless pathetic shit. Unable to help himself, he felt himself jerk at the memory of how Spike had squealed in agony every time Xander had kicked and punched him.

     "Jesus. I am such a sick fuck" he mouthed silently to himself as he couldn't help but recall just how strong and in control he had felt, towering over Spike as the vampire had curled up into a tight whimpering ball on the kitchen floor. "I'm not my father. I'm not. Am I?"

     "I hurt you...I know that. I know it's wrong and I shouldn't do it but...but...I c-can't help it. I don't want to be him. I'm not so like him. Yet. I..I." Tears flowing from sheer exhaustion and finally having the full realization of what he had been subjecting Spike to since the forced blow job in the basement in Sunnydale come crashing down on him, Xander found that he couldn't stop the flow of words that poured out of him as his voice got louder. "I hurt...I hurt you so God-damned much and you take it. Just like my Mom. But...but she hits back...she...she always gives as good as she gets. A-and you can't and that makes me so much more worse than Dad. I am such a prick. You used to call yourself the Big Bad but you're not. I am. I'm the Big Bad and you know why?"

     Not even noticing the tears as they dripped from his chin and onto his chest, the distraught youth continued. "Because I like what I do to you. I fucking love that I can punch the shit out of you and you'll always come back for more. I'm sick. I know that and you know what? I can't even blame alcohol like my Dad and Uncle can. You're not my wife but I come from a long line of wife beaters. I...I thought that I wasn't like that. Thought that...thought the label of 'wife beater' didn't apply to me. It does though doesn't it?"

     "Shit, I would never have dreamed of hitting Cordy or Anya. Never. Just thinking about it makes me sick. Thought it didn't matter because you were another guy....a vampire. I could never hurt you..not really. I mean, you'll always heal up won't you? Always had this little thought in the back of my mind that was saying it was wrong to hit you but I kept ignoring it because it just feels so damned good when my fist smashes into you and I know it shouldn't...right? But...but...with help...I can stop feeling like that. Maybe I should go to one of those classes? You know...get up in group therapy and say 'Hi, my name is Xander Harris and I'm a gay spousal abuser"

     "You know what? I can't even blame this Claimant/Adored thingy. Fuck - you're not even my official Adored anyway...that prick Diehl is. Shit...I don't even have that excuse. Nope...the best I come up with is bad days at work and my temper. I know...I know I have a bad temper. Really bad actually....sort of scares me at times as well. But...but...Dad and Uncle Rory have bad tempers too...I just thought it was normal you know? To kick and scream at other people. Hit them. Like Dad di...does to Mom."

     With a watery sniffle, Xander gave out a half choked smile as he wiped at the tears puddling down his chin. "When I was younger, I scared Wills and Jesse a few times with my temper and that's why I started hiding it. I didn't want them not to like me anymore. Went over to their houses and got to learn that no-one else’s parents acted like mine and their kids didn't either. Got really good at hiding it too huh? Fuck, the first time you li-lived with me in the basement, there were so many times I just wanted to punch the shit out of you. Make you take back all that you had said to me. Make you feel as worthless as you made me feel. I didn't though did I? No. I, like the fucking coward that I am, waited until you relied on me...till I owned you. Till you were too scared of your own God-damned shadow to even make a smart gesture back."

     "I...I. I'm gonna get help. Go to one of those anger management courses...buy one of those 'Controlling your temper' books they always have on late night TV. Might even get the steak knives with them. I'm so sorry that I did this to you. So...so fucking sorry" admitted Xander before lapsing into silence. It was true. Every word he had just said was God's honest truth and Spike deserved to know all of it. He was going to get help. He had to if he wanted to have some sort of relationship with Spike. What he had at the moment was nothing and if he really thought about it, he was treating Spike worse than his Mom and Dad treated each other. What his parents did to each other was wrong but neither of the battered party had ever held the other one and promised that the abuse would never happen again. Something that Xander had done after each and every occasion.

     His head hung in shame as his self revelation continued to open up, Xander finally acknowledged that he was not only a bully but he was deliberately cruel. Delving a little deeper into himself, the youth realized that what he had blurted out only minutes ago to Spike was true. He did like that Spike was the weaker one in the relationship and he did indeed feel safe in the knowledge that Spike would always stick with him, no matter how brutally he was beaten and bullied, only because he had no other place to go. As a pang of pain clenched at his chest at the thought of Spike one day leaving him, Xander honestly wondered if the vampire would survive long enough to ever contemplate packing his bags and leaving.

     "I...I am my Dad. I'm not a man am I? A real man wouldn't do what I did to you. A real man wouldn't make his...boyfriend try to commit suicide. Fuck...I'm not my Dad. No, I've fucking well outdone him. Dad or Mom would only kill each other accidentally...I know that. I think they both know that. Me...Nope...I just go ahead and do it deliberately. I know I didn't know everything about Claimant/Adored relationships, all the 'ins and outs', but I should have read properly. Should have done the homework and I didn't and what's happening to you is my fault. And I swear, when you get better, I'll...I'll be nicer. I won't take my temper out on you...I won't hit or...or...force you to do anything you don't want anymore. Even the...you know...sex stuff" came the now earnest words as Xander made a vow with himself to make sure he did everything that he was promising Spike. "I..I can't promise to be perfect...I won't ever be but...but...I can be better?"

     Lifting the ice-cream container, he angled it awkwardly to rest the rim just on Spike's dry cracked lips and tipped it gently so that the remaining blood lapped against the vampire’s lips.

     "Please swallow...Drink Spike. I...I wanna stop being my Dad and I want you around to help me be a better person."

      "I...uuuhhh...I...ummm...love you Spike"




~*~*~*~*~


     5 March, Monday, 2001

     7.48pm

     "Uuuuhhhhh...can you like just...ummm...run that by me again because I don't think my brain has caught up to what you just said." questioned Xander. His hand paused in the middle of closing the cabin door, he stared unbelievingly as Lukas brushed past him and sat himself down on one of the stools by the kitchen bench.

     "I know how to fix Spike." Lukas repeated. With a blank statement on his normally animated face, Lukas waited for his words to make an impact. "Is he still...alive?"

     "Yeah...yeah, he is...as much as vampires can be you know, and how? How can you fix Spike? Ev...even that self-fucking-righteous prick Angel, his Sire, thinks Spike is go...gonna..." Choking on the last few words, Xander slowly finished pushing the door shut, leaning wearily against the solid wood as he twisted the key in the new deadlock. As Lukas started to explain, he turned to walk towards the couch, all the while trying not to acknowledge the tiny glimmer of hope that the dark man’s words were promising. "Real slow Lukas. Just tell me so totally slow. Ok?"

     "Not doing good? Both of you I mean?"

     "Jesus…it's just..." With a shake of his head, Xander collapsed heavily onto the worn couch that he had restored to the living room now that he had replaced the mattresses to the bedrooms. One trembling hand rubbing at his eyes, he gestured for the older man to continue. "No. Not good at all"

     "Right. I got a phone call from the - my village Elders in Fiji. I gotta go back home because I've failed to uphold the Tribal Council and punish Jossessi for not finishing the Kava ritual."

     "Shit...You're kidding? So...what’s gonna happen to you. Better yet...Jossessi and how does this fix Spike?" asked Xander, not quite sure what the Kava Demon was talking about and how it related even remotely to Spike’s current condition.

     "Well...because I've 'performed' so badly, I'm to be relieved of my duties as a Kava Law Enforcer...ostracized from my village and pretty much denied any chances of marrying my childhood sweetheart. Oh...and I won't be welcome back in the Fiji Isles any time soon. Actually...not ever." wryly admitted Lukas, a twisted grin upon his face as he took in Xander's confused look.

     "U-huh?"

     "But, if by some chance I do manage to send home a Kava soaked heart, I get 'promoted' to being the Alaskan Kava Law Enforcer...my fiancée comes over for a permanent extended stay, I promise never to show my face in Fiji again and nothing about this is ever mentioned again."

     "Shit. Again. Everything gets swept under the carpet...just like that?" Xander questioned, still wondering what Lukas' Kava Laws had to do with Spike.

     "Exactly. Providing I send them a heart", nodded the dark man, his smile growing a little wider as he watched Xander try to puzzle it together.

     "A heart? Like as in what gives me a pulse...a heart?"

     "Exactly. A human heart" Still nodding, Lukas continued to smile at the weary youth upon the couch. His nose twitching, Lukas tried ignore the roiling of his stomach as the heavy odour of stale blood permeated the warm stifling air of the cabin. Just as he did his best to ignore the dry dark red trail leading from one of the bedrooms to the brightly lit bathroom. As Xander dropped his gaze to stare at his blood stained hands, Lukas wondered if he should make the youth change from the filthy gore encrusted clothes that he was currently wearing.

     "So...Jossessi's outta here? Fuck...I really liked him as well. He's like your best friend but I guess that when it comes to...well...work..." Leaning back further into the couch, Xander was sure that someone had sneakily transformed his whole body into a block of concrete the moment he had sat down. He honestly couldn't recall ever feeling so tired and drained in his life. With a deep yawn and a barely apologetic look at Lukas, Xander tried to concentrate on what the other man was saying.

     "Nah. I like him too and you're right, he is my best friend. But so is Spike. Like I said, I just have to send over a human heart that has been soaked in Kava and everything will be fine" His smile disappearing as seriousness played across his face again, Lukas took in how exhausted and worn-out the youth looked. Sighing as he watched Xander fight the urge to catch some sleep, Lukas decided that he had obviously been too vague for the stressed man. "Xander, it doesn't matter whose heart I send back. It just has to be soaked in Kava. The Elders trust that I'll send the right one back....they won't check"

     "But...you got sent over here for Jossesse...what do you mea...Oh...oh shit! Are you saying...what...are you..?" Falling silent, Xander felt his heart skip a beat as the Fijian's words sank in. He knew exactly what Lukas meant and he didn't like it one little bit. As he held Lukas' steady gaze, Xander shivered as if someone had walked over his grave. With a deathly pale face, Xander whispered the first thing that came to his numb mind even as the tiny flare of hope suddenly roared into a bonfire.

      "Murder!"


~*~*~*~*~


     6 March, Monday, 2001

     1.25 am

     So, right this moment, I'm laying in bed. Tossing and turning for all I'm worth when I should be trying to get some sleep. I can't though. I can't sleep even though my eyes feel like they're just about to leap out of my head... literally... and my whole body feels like it's gone one or two rounds with Mike Tyson. The fact that I still have two ears sort of convinces me that I'm just too tired to think straight.

     I know for a fact that I'm not thinking straight because I'm busy debating whether I should go to Hell for helping murder Diehl and using the left over blood to save Spike... or... go to Hell for letting Spike die and denying all knowledge of what Lukas is about to do to Diehl.

     This is a boundary that I've never wanted to cross over. Never in my whole life have I ever had to or wanted to make this choice. To choose between the life of two men. I wish it was just plain black and white, something easy but it isn't. My life has never been simple... never normal. Always too many shades of grey to fuck everything up. The fact that I'm even thinking about a human life versus a demon life just shows how much growing up on an active Hellmouth can seriously screw with one's values.

     How the Hell did I end up at this point? How do I choose between ending one life to save another? It's not as if I could safely say that killing Diehl will solve everything because it won't. I mean, Diehl's blood will more than likely end up saving Spike. Doing what Deadboy's blood wasn't able to.

     Jesus, I was so sure that it was going to work. Spike was just going to drink his Sire's blood and everything would be fine and for a little while, it was. Even as I was pouring the gross stuff down his throat, Spike started to swallow for himself and his eyelids fluttered open twice. Twice. I swear, my heart just about stopped and I almost threw up in relief. Seriously, I was so damned happy that I ended up kissing Lukas. Poor bastard, he probably thought I was going to stick my tongue down his throat. Lukas just sort of backed away but it was a definitely happy backing away.

     Everything was going to be just fine. I was going to nurse Spike back to health. Never mind that it's coming up to the busy time at work, I was going to take a few weeks off and stay 24/7 at home with Spike. Making sure that I did everything possible to make him feel wanted and loved as Angel said I had to. I was going to fix his favorite snack foods, let him drink the foul warm beer he likes so much and I wasn't going to complain that I didn't want to kiss him after he's pigged out on Indian food that I've driven an hour and a half to buy just because I hate the way his lips taste. We weren't gonna go out anywhere as we were both going to be stuck at home until I managed to work off the massive debt that I already owe Lukas for all the human blood that was meant to go down Spike's throat but ended up down the plughole over the last day.

     God, it's gotta be close to almost half a grand already.

     But the huge amount of money I've ended up owing Lukas wouldn't matter as long as Spike was alive and in the end, healthy. We could stay at home just doing stuff and maybe watching videos and, depending on the TV reception, the occasional 'Jerry Springer' and 'Passions'.

     I was gonna treat him right this time, not like a piece of shit as I did back in Sunnydale. Try to do my best to love him into wanting to get better and stay with me. I was gonna work on telling Wills, Tara and the Buffster the truth about our relationship. Maybe even my parents, not that they would give a toss but the fact would be that I told them. Shit, I was gonna be as close to the perfect boyfriend as I could possibly be.

     Spike was drinking by himself and I think at one point, I almost came right there and then in front of Lukas when Spike flexed his toes. Everything was of the good.

     And then it wasn't.

     Spike hasn't drunk a drop of blood apart from what Deadboy sent through the portal and that's bad...real bad because both the G-Man and Deadboy...fuck...even Wes, said that Spike was gonna be drinking as much blood as I could feed him. They told me that Spike would stop crying but he hasn't. I mean, it has slowed down but not enough. No-where near enough. He's still dying and I can't let him do that.

     Right now I'm in bed hoping that Lukas will come into the bedroom and 'wake' me up with the good news that Spike is swallowing again. So far, I haven't heard a word and I honestly don't think that I will because I left Lukas with Spike over four hours ago.

     I shouldn't be crying again. I should be trying to be strong for Spike. I don't know if he can smell or even hear that I've been crying and if he can, I hope to God that he isn't getting upset. I can't help it though, they just keep on coming. Least I know I'm not gonna die from my tears.

     Fuck! I was so sure that Deadboy's blood was gonna work. I counted on that. Really, I did. I had to because I didn't want to think about what Lukas had come up with, let alone what would happen to Spike if it didn't work. All the times that Spike was drinking, Angel was talking to me on the phone about what to do over the next few weeks to help Spike. I have to say it, Angel went out of his way to help me with the mess I created and I really do owe him big time for this. I have to take back what I said about him. Well...not everything, I still hate most of his guts... but not all. After Deadboy, Wes talked to me for bit and told me that Angel had risked his own health to be able to give Spike extra blood. Sort of wondered why Angel had sounded so tired over the phone. Thought he was drunk to begin with. I feel a bit weird now that I know Deadboy did so much for Spike and me.

     Either way though, damned if I do and most seriously damned if I don't. Then again, maybe this would be a good thing - Diehl dying. I mean, it's not as if I could really stop Lukas from killing him. What am I gonna do, call the cops and tell them that a Kava demon is going to kill an army recruiter? Anyone else thinking 'straightjacket'? Anyway in all reality, Jossesse is a hell of a lot nicer than Diehl ever will be but that's not the point is it? Jossesse knew what he was doing when he started the whole damn Kava ritual and it's his own fault if he gets himself killed for not going with the flow and finishing it. And he sure as hell shouldn't have run all the way to Alaska from Fiji to try to save his own skin. Why should Diehl have to die because Lukas wants to keep his best friend alive?

     Why should Diehl die at all?

     Then again, why should Spike die?

     If Lukas goes through with this nut job plan of his and ends up doing over Diehl, then why shouldn't I say yes to Spike getting Diehl's blood? Saving Spike's life. I hope. Christ, I really hope it does and you know what, just by saying that, I've made my choice.

     I'm gonna have Diehl's death on my hands... on my conscience and soul for the rest of my life. The fact that I'm willing to kill for Spike is gonna be hanging over this relationship forever. Just because Lukas is going to do the whole 'ripping out of the heart and jingling it like a tea-bag in Kava' thing doesn't mean that I'm not involved with Diehl's murder. Just accepting the left over blood is enough to get me a meeting with a lethal injection.

     How's that for devotion if not love? Surely that proves that I love him and want him to live? Not everyone is willing to go through with a murder in order for someone they like... love...to survive?

     I'm so going to Hell. I don't believe in it normally but if there is one... then I've got a first class hand basket all the way down. I'll be dancing with the devil until Hell freezes over. At least Spike would end up down there with me.

     I'm doing the right thing though aren't I? Getting rid of Diehl would make the world a better place... make the world safer? I mean, what he did to Spike... what's stopping him doing that to someone else... someone who hasn't got super healing? What if he does and this time, kills them? He's a total sick bastard anyway... Jesus... just the way he's been hassling Spike and making threats against me tells the whole story.

     Killing Diehl might stop a lot of bad things happening.

     It's still murder though.

     I so don't want a part of this but I have to because letting Spike die is murder as well. This is wrong, so very... very wrong and I just know that this'll backfire somehow. Everything I do does in the end... look at Spike. I shouldn't be agreeing to this.

     In all reality, I should just let Spike die. I should stake him and get it over with because the sooner I do that, the sooner I can come to terms with what I've done. I should just admit that Deadboy and Giles are right. Put him out of his so obvious misery and pain. Let him die with what is left of his dignity. Diehl could continue being a total prick and causing trouble wherever he goes and once he knows Spike is dead, never bothering me again or until someone bigger and stronger happens to beat him to death in a bar brawl. After all, Diehl is a human and deserves to live a lot more than a demon like Spike does.

     Yeah, I know that Diehl will die anyway when Lukas catches up to him but if I refuse Diehl's blood for Spike, that means I didn't have anything to do with his death and my conscience would be clear. Sort of. Not really.

     I can tell everyone that things didn't work out between us and Spike left me. I can have a cry... mope around for a few months and let the guys at work fix me up on a gay blind date. Bastards. They would too. Deadboy could gloat and say 'I told you so' while Giles could offer his long-distance shoulder to cry on. Even though they don't know Spike and I are together and the whole Shaming thingy, if I told them that Spike had died, Buffy would tell me off for not staking Spike sooner while Will's would offer to come to visit for a while. Help me to adjust to having lost a 'friend'. Think I would take her up on that offer as well. It wouldn't be that easy though. Losing Spike.

     Honestly, right now, I couldn't imagine life without him and I don't even want to start.

     So. I'm gonna turn a blind eye to a murder and just concentrate on making Spike better. Because when it comes down to the crunch, that's all that really matters.

     Like I said, damned if I do and damned if I don't. I just hope that this is the least of the rockier roads to eternal damnation.


~*~*~*~*~


     6 March, Monday, 2001

     7.00 am

     Why are you here... touching me?

     Don't.

     You're gonna get me into trouble. Xan is gonna be so mad. Not at you because it has to be my fault that you're wiping at my face with something wet... touching my mouth.

     It's always my fault.

     Jesus, don't keep talking to me. I dunno what you're goin' on about anyway. You're not speaking loud enough. Shut the bloody Hell up.

     Go away. Leave. Now.

     Xander's gonna kick the shit out of me if he catches you feeling me up. He won't touch you... won't yell at you. My fault. He'll say that I couldn't keep my hands to myself, that I'm a slag just like my Mam was and he'd be right. Shouldn't have cheated on him. Did it for him only because I was too fucking stupid to figure something else out.

     I'm such a pathetic useless retard. He keeps tellin' me I am and every time I try not to be, I let him down and then he has try and help me think smart again.

     See?

     All the bloody pain I've been goin' through was just result of the 'lesson' he must've taught me. I must've deserved it. I always do.

     Why does he waste his time on me? He doesn't love me but....

     So fucking lucky Xan's asleep. I know he's asleep. Can feel his heart beatin' nice and slow. Go now... before he wakes up. How did you even get in the house? How does he not know you're here? Why is Xander so far away from me? We always sleep together, why isn't he beside me?

     This is a dream. It has to be. You're not really here.

     But you are though, I can feel you.

     I don't understand why I feel so weird. God, I'm so tired and sore. He must've gone at me till I was totally out of it. I think this is the worst he's ever hurt me. Must've done somethin' real dumb this time.

     Can move a bit now. Not much though... not as much as I want to.

     All I can smell is blood. Why does it smell so off... old? Don't like it... fucking well creepin' me out. Somethin's real wrong here and I dunno what...

     I don't wanna hurt anymore and I will when he catches us.

     Stop.

     Lukas, don't touch me anymore.

     I don't want you to. Don't like your touch, it's not Xander's. No comfort... your hands are too big... and soft. Too soft. Gentle. Xander always has rough hands... scraping at my skin.

     Xander was with me before. Before I... floated... went away. But I'm back now and Xander's gone and I want you to be gone as well.

     Sod off!

     Yeah... I moved my hand. Doesn't mean you can touch me though. I like ya Mate but not like that and I know full well that you don't go for blokes so you sure as Hell shouldn't be touching me anywhere down there.

     Get your hand off me tackle. You're shifting bits I don't want shifted.

     Don't wanna know you no more. Never speaking to you again. Gonna get my blood from a different bloke.

     God, your hand feels so bloody hot on my head. Stop touching my ears, don't like it.

     What?

     What did you say?

     I... I almost caught that.

     Did you say Xander?

     Fuck!

     You did. You stupid bastard, you just got me killed.

     If Xander see's you touching me, I'm dead.

     Not you.

     ME.

     He's gonna kill me.





But I love you? Part 5

     With a sigh, Lukas watched intently as the pale form in the bathtub lifted a slender hand momentarily before letting it clunk against the reddened porcelain once again.

     "That's good Spike. Come on, you can do it... Move something else?"

     Lifting a small container from the floor, the heavy set Fijian dipped a corner of a face cloth into the container. In a slow motion, Lukas leaned over the bathtub to feed Spike the last of his Sire's blood. Lukas dabbed the cloth gently against Spike's cracked lips, wiping the inside of the vampire's mouth with the moistened cloth.

     "Oooops... sorry. I'll just clean you up." Lukas explained with an embarrassed smile as he awkwardly set about wiping away the blood he had accidentally spilt over Spikes genitals, his smile growing more heated as the wiping caused the limp penis to shift. After a quick glance at Spike's crotch assured Lukas that the pale skin was clean once again, the Kava Demon carefully draped the blood spattered cloth between the vampires legs. Giving Spike a small measure of dignity, something that Xander hadn't thought to do. "You're not really my type Spike so don't think this means anything, all right?"

     The empty container set on the bathroom floor, Lukas wrinkled his nose as he took in Spikes virtually hairless scalp, and with a small shake of his head, couldn't help but smooth a hand over the vampires skull, feeling the soft almost invisible down like hair that had started to grow at his temples and behind his ears again since Spike had drunk the first of Angel's blood. As a thought struck Lukas, he lifted his hand from Spike's head and instead, gathered up the vampires hands, his smile growing broader when it proved that his thought had been correct.

     "Wow Spike, you sure do need a manicure. Not only that, a pedicure as well." stated Lukas, gently twisting the frail claw like hands as he saw that in just a few hours, Spike's fingernails and toenails had almost doubled in length. Certainly, it could only mean that the Sire blood was doing its job and bringing the Childe back from the brink of a second death. It was good news and that meant he had to go and wake Xander up.

     Xander had reluctantly gone to bed, exhausted beyond belief, on the promise that Lukas would wake him up should Spike show any sign of improvement. The larger man had sat in the bathroom by his friends side, listening to Xander toss and turn for hours, no doubt worried by what Lukas had proposed about Diehl until finally, the youth had quietened. Lukas had waited for a few minutes before he had ventured to check that Xander was truly asleep. Once he had been sure, Lukas had hurried back to Spike's side, intent on trying to encourage the vampire to get better.

     In between his words of encouragement however, Lukas had tried to impress on Spike how much worse he was going to be if he stayed with Xander. Lukas knew full well that Spike might have been too far gone to hear him but, as he was possibly Spike's only friend, he had felt it was his duty to do something. Finally, Lukas had stated the plain truth.

     If Spike didn't leave Xander sometime soon, Xander would end up killing him.

     Lukas didn't bother pointing out that it would more than likely be an accident on Xander's part and that, from what he had seen of Xander's behavior, if it happened, Xander would never forgive himself. It wasn't worth saying it. All that mattered was getting his friend out of harms way. Lukas knew that inter-species relationships were always hard but never had he come across such a poisonous coupling as this. It was as destructive as they came and Lukas was somewhat at a loss as to how it all came about but he was determined to help end it.

     It wasn't the fact that they were of different species or they were gay. Nor was it the mind boggling idea of William the Bloody being subservient to a friend of the Slayer, something that by all rights should never have happened but what can you do when science interferes with the laws of nature? Lukas would have been more than happy to put his stamp of approval on the relationship should it have been a benefit to both partners but it so obviously wasn't. No, what went against every grain in Lukas' body was the abusive nature of the relationship.

     He had seen with his own two eyes only a fraction of what Xander was capable of. Lukas had seen the bruises on more than one occasion, seen Spike walking stiffly around the Pennington Mall as if every movement pained him, watched him seek Xander's approval before joining the laughter that a joke prompted. Lukas knew that there were days that Spike wasn't capable, emotionally if not physically, of venturing outside the cabin. Those were the days that Lukas tried to get Spike to allow him to visit. Both men sitting quietly in front of the TV, nursing beers or hot coffee while Spikes injuries were purposefully ignored.

     After visiting Spike for the first time after a beating, something that had resulted in even more severe repercussions for the vampire, neither men acknowledged that Lukas' visits had continued. It was an unspoken agreement that it had only happened the once.

     And the abuse was a subject that he most certainly didn't dare confront Xander with, not with his friend's life at stake. There was no way that he wanted to make Spike's life any more difficult than it already was, especially with the long Summer coming up.

     This time, however, Lukas wasn't going to let Spike freeze him out if he brought up the subject of Xander's abuse. He wouldn't allow it. He wasn't going to let Spike brush it off as 'just a bit clumsy, that's all' or that he had slammed his fingers in the car door which was why they were broken. Oh, and he wasn't just going to shrug and nod when Spike said that he tripped over some clothes on the floor, banged his head on the coffee table and as a result, got himself a purpling bruise under one eye.

     Yeah, he had heard them all and believed none of them.

     Lukas just couldn't get over the way Spike thought that he had to keep defending Xander, even though Lukas rarely mentioned the bruises. Always it was Spike who brought them up. Anything immediately noticeable that is.

     Spike usually waited until his bruises had disappeared before venturing outside again. Something that never took long thanks to the vampires rapid healing ability but, unfortunately, it only helped to increase Spikes dependency on Xander. Every time that Xander hit Spike, forcing the vampire to stay inside, Xander's power over Spike increased. Little by little, Spike was retreating and allowing Xander to think and act on his behalf all the more. It was only the fact that Lukas already knew about the abuse that made it safe for him to visit Spike, even with the evidence of a battering all too clear to see. Lukas knew that if he wasn't the sole local supplier of blood, he would never have seen Spike again after the brochure incident on Boxing Day the year before.

     He had to get his friend out and somewhere safe.

     His and Spike's friendship was strange. Vampires usually didn't have friends, they had minions, Childer, Sires and meals. That was it. Certainly in Fiji, Lukas had never been a friend of a vampire but he had been taught by his mother always to look out for friends and people who couldn't help themselves and that's what he was doing now.

     However, the fact remained that the only one who could truly help Spike was Spike himself. Spike was the one who had to walk away and only then because he wanted to. All Lukas would be able to do was point him in the right direction.

     Brought back to reality by another small movement from Spike, this time the vampire flexing his toes again, Lukas felt his heart leap as Spike awkwardly licked his dry lips. Lukas knew that he couldn't put it off any longer. He had to go and get Xander. The brunette youth had to be the first one that Spike saw when he opened his eyes and was able to recognise people again. As much as Lukas wanted for Spike never to see Xander again, Spike would be too distressed if Xander was not around to help him recover. In his weakened state, the worry could mean Spike having a relapse and this time there would be no more Sire blood from Angel, the older vampire making it perfectly clear that neither Spike nor Xander would be welcomed by him in the future.

     "Spike... Spike, I'm going to get Xander.. OK?" asked Lukas, leaning in close to the greyish-white figure in the bath. Seeing the eyelids fluttering for a mere fraction of a second, the Kava Demon took one more chance. "Spike, you have to leave Xander. He is going to kill you. He will, you know that. Xander is going to continue to hurt you and one day, he will kill you. Leave him Spike, leave Xander as soon as you can..."

     Breaking off his plea as Spike gave a hoarse moan, Lukas leant back and rose stiffly to his feet all the while hoping that his words had made some sort of dent in the vampires determination to stay with his abuser. With a sad smile, Lukas took in how white Spikes fingers and toes already were compared to the sickly grey of the rest of his body. A sure sign that Spike was on the path to a healthy life again, a life that Diehl's blood could only improve. "I guess I'll get Xander up then."

     "XANDER! Xander, get in here!"


~*~*~*~*~


     "Xander!"

     Hearing his name being called from the bathroom, Xander stopped staring at the cabin's ceiling and rolled over. His eyes tightly screwed shut, the youth steadfastly ignored Lukas.

     He didn't want to get up.

     If he got up, then everything that had happened over the past day would be all too startlingly real and if he stayed in bed, then it had all been just a horrible nightmare. With a jaw-wrenching yawn, Xander pulled the comforter up higher around his bare shoulders. After a moment, he slid further down the mattress so that he was completely encased by the comforters warmth. Literally from head to toe.

     "XANDER?"

     Breathing in the stale air from underneath the comforter, Xander concentrated on the only thing he could see. The pitch black from behind his eyelids. As far as Xander was concerned, if he continued to ignore Lukas then the Kava Demon would eventually just go away and then he wouldn't have to think about Spike anymore.

     He wouldn't have to think about Diehl either.

     Xander felt his stomach drop at the thought of what he had decided about Diehl in the early hours of the morning and with that thought, Xander's resolution to stay in bed was strengthened. If he didn't get up, then he wasn't going to be a murderer in the next few days.

     If he stayed in bed, then everything would be perfect.

     "Xander.. would you just get in here? Spike's moving!"

     Fuck! Spike was moving... his boyfriend was moving? Oh. My. God! Spike's better? He's better... Deadboy actually came through... well, Deadboy actually already had but.. but... Spike's better...

     With his thoughts racing wildly through his mind, Xander suddenly found that he was holding his breath even as he scrambled out of the warm bed. A few deep breaths taken, he rose unsteadily to his feet, a huge grin on his face at hearing the good news. Just barely pausing long enough to throw a pair of semi-clean track pants over his naked form, Xander ran the few steps to the bathroom, unconsciously following the trail of dried blood on the wooden floorboards. Skidding to a halt just outside the open doorway of the bathroom, Xander's anxious smile faltered into a wary frown as he stared at the skeletal form in the bathtub. A few slow steps forward and Xander leant against the bathroom door frame, his gaze still upon Spike.

     "XAN... oh. I'll just... leave you two alone all right?" offered Lukas, giving Xander a small smile as he eased his way past Xander and out of the bathroom. Turning around, the Kava Demon couldn't help but feel a pang of pity for the younger man. No matter how much he disliked Xander, Lukas acknowledged that if he made things easier for Xander, he was, in effect, making Spikes life easier as well. Swallowing his misgivings about Xander for the moment, Lukas spoke softly to the youth. "Want a coffee... breakfast... anything? You want something, tell me now 'cos I have to go home and feed the cat. Mail needs sorting too. Xander?"

     "Huh? Uhhhh...coffee. Yeah, lots of coffee." Xander answered equally as soft, still taking in every inch of the vampires haggard appearance. "C.. can you call work for me? Tell them I'm not coming in until Spike's better? Please?"

     "Sure, I can do that but I think it would be better coming from you... but if you want, I can do it"

     "OK. Yeah, that makes sense... I suppose I owe it them, I mean, Mac's already given me heaps of time off... What the Hell do I say?" asked Xander, tearing his gaze from the bathtub and turning around to face Lukas. With a lost look on his face, Xander continued. "They're gonna ask why isn't Spike in hospital if he's so bad that I have to stay at home with him? Shit, what do I say if they want to visit him... everyone likes him... you know, 'Xander's little woman'. What do I do... what the fuck do I do?"

     Looking at the bewildered youth in front of him, Lukas saw that Xander was still well and truly out of his depth and wondered again if he should still be so tolerant of mixed species relationships. Lukas quickly chased that train of thought away, angry at himself for letting one disastrous relationship colour his views.

     "You tell them the truth."

     "What? I can't tell them that?" demanded Xander, his confusion of what to do about his job and any questions from his friends all too clear on his face. "I mean... when they come over, and they are gonna want to, what do I tell them about the way Spike looks? Jesus, we're just lucky we got that whole 'sunlight phobia' excuse going anyway so at least some weirdness is sort of explained but this... this is just waaaay too much of the weird."

     "No. You tell them the truth." Lukas firmly said. Taking a deep breath in an effort to stop himself from trying to shake some sense into the youth, he roughly outlined what Xander was going to say.

     "Truth?"

     "Yes and the truth is that Spike isn't well and needs home nursing. Xander, you don't have to go into any details because its no-one elses business but yours and Spikes. Whatever spin you want to put onto the situation... well, just make sure that its simple. Don't go into anything too elaborate, trust me, someone will just poke holes right through it."

     Nodding his head to Lukas' words and running through a few of the excuses he had already thought about, Xander started to fit a few pieces together. "Shit. I know that but I gotta come up with something that's gonna see us through the whole Summer for when Spike is totally out of the picture."

     Leaving Xander to rack his mind for the next few minutes, Lukas strode the few steps it took to be in the middle of the kitchen and set about making two cups of coffee. As he rummaged around the fridge and found some out of date but not quite sour milk, Lukas listened to Xander go over excuse after excuse for Spike's home nursing.

     "Of course! So simple. I don't have medical insurance which would mean a lengthy stay in hospital for either Spike or myself would literally bankrupt us so that leaves only....home nursing!" crowed Xander, sagging against the bathroom door frame as a wave of relief swept over him. "And I can always put down his condition to a setback in his recovery from the car accident? Right?"

     "Yeah, yeah.. that's good. You both already got it set up that Spike had a car accident so a setback makes sense." agreed Lukas, refraining from adding just how much he'd like to set Xander back in a particular way. The water boiled and pouring it into the mugs, Lukas handed one to the still unsure youth and with one hand, pushed him gently towards the bathtub. No use in Xander trying to hide from what he had done. The sooner he faced up to it, the quicker things may just get better as far as Lukas was concerned. Somehow, he wryly admitted to himself, he couldn't see anything getting better for Spike in the near future.

     Lukas watched somewhat sternly as Xander stepped hesitantly forward and once he had reached the tub, put the mug down on the ground and sat himself down on the edge of the white porcelain tub. The Kava demon's grave visage gave way to slight embarrassment as he realised he was witnessing a truly private moment in the way Xander kissed his fingertips before reaching down to brush them against Spikes lips, a gesture followed by light feathery strokes across the sickly grey brow. The sheer gentleness of the actions belied the brutality he had always asocciated with one Xander Harris. Uncomfortable with this new insight, Lukas coughed to gain Xander's attention.

     "Lukas... thanks. I.. I honestly don't know what I would have done..." Xander's words trailed off even if the intention behind them were clear. Twisting around on the bathtubs edge, Xander smiled tiredly at the Kava Demon and nodded. "Thanks."

     "Spike's my friend." stated Lukas simply. His discomfort increased as he watched Xander resume the gentle caressing of the vampires thin face. With an almost silent groan, Lukas found himself going back on his word. "Xander, I'll call work for you. Tell them that I only know about Spike because you needed help getting him in the bathtub or something like that.. ok?"

     "Really? Thanks... again, I suppose." replied the stressed youth. Realising that Lukas was waiting for something else to be said and even though he knew what it was, Xander gave it his best shot at ignoring the subject. "Can you see yourself out?"

     Sighing at Xander's attempt at stalling the inevitable, Lukas hated that he had to be the one to drag an obviously unwanted decision out into the open. "Diehl?"

     His hand pausing over Spikes delicate left eyelid, Xander swallowed hard, barely holding back a shudder as he went through his reasoning for deciding to end Diehl's life. Taking his hand away from Spike, Xander stiffly climbed to his feet and with a tight grip on one of Lukas' elbows, steered the way towards the cabin door. "Lukas..."

     "Xander, make a choice"

     "Fuck..fuck. I already have!" shot back Xander. Running a hand through his hair, he avoided looking that the man beside him and instead, stared at the floor. A deep breath taken to steady his nerves, Xander dragged his eyes from the floor and met Lukas' dark brown gaze. "I have made a choice... this isn't easy you know?"

     "It's no." Almost the instant the words came out of his mouth, Xander felt giddy and he knew that he wasn't the only one in shock about his decision. What the hell had happened to what he had decided on last night? He had been so sure he was going to say yes, damn his soul and everything and yet, already he felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Forcing himself to speak again, Xander clarified his choice as his knees went weak. "No."

     "You sure about that?" queried Lukas quietly, oddly disturbed at how amazed Xander had been at his own answer. Obviously, he had meant to say the opposite. Reaching out a hand to steady Xander before he wobbled to the cabin floor, Lukas walked him over to the couch and sat Xander down.

     "No. I mean... yeah, I guess I am but no. I.. I can't make that choice about another person's life.. I can't." Xander pleaded with Lukas to understand just where he was coming from. With an exasperated sigh, Xander dropped his head into his hands and sat while he waited for Lukas to answer him. His words muffled by his hands, Xander pleaded his case. "Jesus, I meant to say yes.. I had it all planned to.. to damn my soul and help with offing that bastard. But..."

     "But a human life is more important than a demon's?"

     "Yes." Unable to help himself from answering truthfully, Xander sniffled wetly as he felt the sting of hot tears well up in his eyes. Gulping down deep breaths in an effort to calm himself, he wondered suddenly if Spike always felt so shaky when he started to cry. Just that thought made Xander hate himself even more and with a heavy heave of his chest, he gave in and started to cry.

     His features twisting into a grimace as he took in the sobbing man in front of him, Lukas didn't know what to feel more disgusted at. The fact that Xander was just another prejudiced human who, no matter how 'enlightened' they may claim to be, were biased when it came to the crunch or that Xander knew what had to be done to both stop Diehl and make sure Spike got the best start to his lengthy recovery but was refusing to do the right thing. Yet again. Standing by the couch, Lukas swallowed his dislike for the youth and reached down a hand to awkwardly pat at the heaving shoulders.

     "I.. I can't do it and I want to. I do.. really but.. but it's not that.. that.." Xander started, rubbing the back of his hand across his eyes. "You don't understand?"

     "Understand what? That you're putting a man that you barely know before your boyfriend, someone you claim to care about.. you're right..I don't." came Lukas' icy reply as he let his hand drop from Xander's shoulder.

     "No... no! It's... it's just that things are different for you.. I'm human an-"

     Cutting Xander off, Lukas snapped a reply, a rare anger coloring his words. "And I'm a demon so that means the taking of life isn't as important to me as it would be to you... is that right? I wouldn't feel the guilt that you would because I don't have a soul... Are you going to tell me next that I will end up in Hell no matter what I do with my life? God, you humans are all the same.. and anyway.. I didn't ask for you to help me with Diehl... I just wanted to know if you wanted his blood for Spike"

     "But you're gonna kill him no matter what I say but... but if I say no then.. then I had nothing to do with it."

     "And your hands are clean?" Lukas clamped his hand down on Xander's shoulder, squeezing hard until the young man dropped his hands away from his face and looked up at him. Holding the weary gaze, Lukas continued. "Xander, you're a fool if you don't take this blood for Spike... who knows just how powerful it's going to be.. it could even help with his emotions.. maybe not to what he was but you just can't pass this up and trust me.. there will be plenty to spare."

     "Fuck Lukas.. you're not understanding me!" Xander snarled, his heavy sobs subsiding as his own anger showed. "My hands are already dirty just.. just because I know what you're gonna do to him and I hate that. This is scaring me... maybe even more than what Spike al.. already has."

     "You're not the only one scared.. yeah, I am too.. obviously not as much as you but I've never done this before." admitted Lukas, his anger dying down a little as he realised that Xander really was frightened by how much he was already involved in Diehls death. "Don't get me wrong, I've been hunting down Kava offenders for the better part of 30 years but this is the first time that I've ever planned a deliberate ritual Kava killing... so, I guess I'm with you on the scared front."

     "Sure as Hell don't show it" muttered Xander. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes for a long moment before continuing in a soft voice. "But you're still not getting me... if I accept that bastards blood then it's like I killed him and hung him up to drain dry myself... I know I'm gonna feel guilt for this... definitely gonna feel bad for the rest of my life for going along with it just this far and if I did help you.. then I'm gonna hate myself and if I hate myself then I'm gonna run the risk of ending up hating Spike as well for having to go through this for him a.. and... I don't want to live the rest of my life hating him because I killed someone to save him...?"

     "But you won't be killing him, I will. Xander, you won't.. OK?"

     "He doesn't deserve my hate, I'm scared because up and til five minutes ago, I.. I was willing to risk it. Xander stated quietly, unconsciously pleading with Lukas to understand where he was coming from.

     Eyeing the clearly upset youth, Lukas sighed. "And what if he ends up hating you because you didn't risk it?"

     "I can't... I just can't!" replied Xander with just as lengthy a sigh. "I want him to get better so bad but this.. step, it's just too much. Please don't ask me again because... I.. I don't know if I would be able to say no."

     "Xand-"

     Xander cut Lukas off quickly, his breath hitching as he spoke, the long hours of exhaustion and strain all too easy to hear. "Please.. don't?"

     The Kava demon hesitated for a minute before moving to sit beside Xander on the couch, Lukas himself starting to feel some of the strain from the previous hours. The men sat in uncomfortable silence, the time passing unnoticed as they both slipped deep into private thoughts. A soft cough from Lukas broke the uneasy quiet. "You want Spike to have Diehl's blood but you don't want any part o-.., no.. just hear me out a minute,.. but you don't want any part of it.. that right?"

     "Yeah"

     "OK"

     "OK? Lukas..?" started Xander tentively, sitting upright for a second or two before slumping back down against the couch. "Shit, just don't tell me all right?"

     "Not going to, even if you ask" replied Lukas with a tight half smile. He just couldn't believe how typically 'human' Xander was being, the youth was more than happy to accept the benefits of an illegal activity but only if he had no part in the activity itself. What angered Lukas more was the way Xander was obviously willing to fall back on his upbringing from Sunnydale. Turn an innocent blind eye to the truth until it affects you and then, deliberately blind the other eye so you can continue to deny. Then again, maybe he shouldn't blame Xander on the latter count, it wasn't Xander's fault that humans were basically an ignorant race and it was a race that had flourished from living an existence of ignorance.

     With a slight shake of his head, Lukas wondered if he should just take Spike home with him anyway, no matter how much Spike was going to need Xander over the next few weeks. Rubbing a hand across his eyes, the Kava Demon immediately dismissed the idea as he recalled all that he had heard about 'The Shaming'. As much as he wanted to cut Xander out of the picture as soon as possible, Lukas knew that because Spike had started 'The Shaming' to get Xander's attention, then Xander had to be the one that nursed Spike to recovery. Stifling a groan at the thought of Xander being able to assert even more influence over Spike in the next few weeks, Lukas was suddenly struck with an idea.

     "Got a 'special' shipment due in by the end of the week" Lukas stated quietly, a brief grin flashing over his face as he grew to like his idea even more.

     "Shit. Yeah and?" Xander prompted, massaging his throbbing temples. Staring unseeingly at the floor between his feet, he waited for the man to continue.

     "And it's special because only I get to handle it"

     "What? Oh...oohhhh. Sure, got you" nodded the tired youth, hoping he really did get what Lukas was trying to imply. After a moment, Xander realised he didn't quite get it. "Ummm.. actually, I don't so...?"

     "Xander, you don't touch it at all."

     "At all.. but I have to.. I mean, to a point... Look Lukas, I'm tryin' here but I'm so very tired and it's gonna be a looong day so please, just tell me what you're getting at?" pleaded Xander, dragging his gaze from the floor to look at the dark man beside him. With a weary half grin, he gestured for Lukas to explain.

     "Simple. I feed Spike... nah.. nah, don't stress. I'm not going to open a vein or anything and yeah, I can see from the look on your face that's exactly what you just thought." Unable to hide the small smile that had emerged as a result of Xander's almost freak out, Lukas nudged a wide-eyed Xander in the ribs in an effort to get the boy back on track. "Like I said, don't stress. Not that stupid and I certainly don't want Spike thinking he's gonna owe me anymore than he already will. All I'm gonna do is be the one to feed him the 'special' shipment. Probably not even gonna take a day or so"

     "And because you're the one feeding him... I'll be doing what.. be out somewhere?"

     Lukas felt his breath catch as he saw the edge of a golden opportunity. If he was alone with Spike, while the vampire's defences were down and Xander was nowhere near... then there would be nothing stopping Lukas from being able to work on Spike leaving Xander. This time, Lukas would have the added benefit of Spike being conscious for the talk. Hoping that he was acting normally, Lukas drew a deep breath before answering. "Yeah... you can do the groceries... stock up on a few weeks food.. you know because looking after Spike is gonna be pretty much full time for the next few weeks. Who knows when you'll get another chance and I'll be here if anything happens."

     "And nothing better happen" said Xander grimly. He desperately wanted Spike to get the best recovery possible and he knew without a doubt, Diehl's blood was going to be of great benefit to Spike. However, as he had stated only minutes before, Xander wasn't willing to go the extra length to give Spike that advantage but now, with Lukas' offer, Xander could literally look the other way. Sure, his hands were still dirty and he was already feeling bad for getting involved this far, but as long as he didn't actually touch any of Diehl's blood himself, then, as far as he was concerned, he really didn't get involved at all... did he?

     His mind made up to turn a blind eye to save his lover, Xander wondered if there was still going to be a hand basket to Hell reserved for him for when the time came. Nodding slowly at first before making his agreement clear, Xander aired his choice. "Yeah.. but like I said.. I don't know anything?"

     "Sure and it's gonna be delivered Thursday or Friday... I'll call you before I come over ok?" Lukas smiled at the youth, all the while vowing that he was going to get more brochures from the Womens Health Clinic on domestic violence and this time, he was going to read them to Spike. Rising to his feet, Lukas managed to suppress the urge to punch Xander in the face and instead, gave him a hearty slap across his bare back.

     Wincing at the strength of Lukas' gesture, Xander got up from the couch and followed his guest to the cabin door. Thanking Lukas again for all his help, Xander saw the friendly Fijian leave, squinting into the darkness of the early morning before closing the door and locking it.

     With a hope that Lukas remembered to call work for him, Xander slowly made his way towards the bathroom, this time, seeing the trail of dry blood and grimacing at how long it was going to take him to clean it up. Passing by the spare bedroom, he shuddered as he took a quick peek inside. Unable to help himself, he gagged as he took in the ruined mattress, pillow and bedclothes. There was no doubt about it, all of them had to be burned and with a glance at the floor of the bedroom, Xander mentally added the once cream rug to the bonfire as well. Until he got around to buying a double mattress, it looked like he was going to be sleeping on the couch while Spike got the good mattress.

     His heart sinking at the thought of moving Spike to the main bedroom, Xander turned and left the gory scene to walk into the bathroom. Standing at the side of the bathtub, he stared down at the sickly vampire lying curled in the bottom of the tub.

     "Hey Spike... I hear you're doing better?"


~*~*~*~*~


     6 March, Tuesday, 2001

     5.00 pm

     True to his earlier words, it had been a busy day.

     From the time Lukas had left, Xander hadn't really stopped. First on the day's agenda had been to call Giles and inform the older man that Spike had made some sort of improvement and again, Xander had had to sit and listen to Giles worry about just how to tell Buffy about what Riley had done to Spike. As he had sat on the bathroom floor, alternately giving Spike's face what he hoped were reassuring pats and making comments in response to Giles' conversation, Xander realised that he was somewhat relieved that he wasn't the unfortunate person who had to break Buffy's heart.

     As much as he hated Riley and was sometimes annoyed by Buffy's attitude towards him, Xander did have to admit that they made for an 'all American' poster couple and not only that, but Buffy was genuinely in love with Riley. Xander had longed to tell Giles about his suspicions of what Angel was going to do to Riley once the vampire caught up with the taller blond but there was no way that he wanted Buffy to find out about it and be able to link it back to him and Spike. If that happened, then Xander could quite literally kiss Spike goodbye as the former bleached blond got staked by an irate Slayer. As for himself, Xander had only been able to grimace in distaste at the thought of Buffy being angry with him.

     He had only really been able to offer his sympathies to Giles for the older man having to be the one to break the news to Buffy and as he had done so, Xander had vowed to be a good friend and be as supportive as Buffy needed and for as long as she asked him to be. Hanging up from Giles, Xander's stomach had decided that one cup of coffee in over 24 hours did not make for reasonable sustenance and with the more than subtle hint of an angrily growling stomach, Xander had reluctantly left Spike's side to scrounge up some breakfast for himself. Two cheese and ham sandwiches, complete with stale bread, and Xander managed to gag down enough to quieten his complaining stomach for a while.

     Sitting back down at Spike's side with a cup of coffee in his hand, Xander had steeled himself to call Angel in LA, a very less than welcome task especially as Spike's Sire had made it perfectly clear that he wasn't going to be helping either Spike or himself again. Still, even with that knowledge, Xander had felt obliged to at least give Deadboy and Wesley a courtesy call to tell them how Spike was doing. A phone call that had taken less than a few minutes to complete thanks to Angel's bluntness, Xander in slight shock of how rude Angel had been in the end. The words of 'don't call here again unless it's only to speak to Cordelia, Wes and I don't want to know' rang in his ears as Angel had none too gently hung up first.

     Disappointed by Angel’s attitude and yet not really expecting anything more, Xander had been more than safe in the knowledge that no matter how much the older vampire disliked him and Spike, the details as to the true nature of his relationship would be kept safe from Cordelia until Xander himself made the decision to tell his former girlfriend that he was now as good in stuffing up relationships with the other team as he was with women.

     Putting aside his disappointment over Angel, Xander had rung the small supermarket in Pennington’s Mall, ordering bread, milk and enough bare essentials to see him through until Lukas came over on Thursday or Friday. Asking for them to be delivered, Xander had next called the local pharmacy, getting advice from the pharmacy assistant Julie on how to treat extremely dry skin. Xander had gotten Julie to add the sorbalene/10% glycerin cream and Dermaveen Oatmeal Bath Soak to the Supermarket delivery before making another phone call to the supermarket to add a bottle of extra-light Olive Oil to the order. Once he had Spike's bed made, Xander would soak Spike in a luke warm Dermaveen bath before patting the vampire dry and smothering him in a mixture of the olive oil and sorbalene/glyercin. All in an effort to make the cracked dry skin less painful for Spike and hopefully speeding up his recovery.

     With all the important phone calls out of the way, Xander had placed a last call to Mac at work to explain why he wouldn't be in until Spike was feeling better. After spending a few minutes downplaying his bosses concern with Spike’s well being, Xander had been somewhat relieved that he would be able to take all the holiday's due to him as well as the four Rostered Day's Off that he had been saving up. When asked if he might need more time off other than the two and a half weeks owed to him, Xander had been unable to hold back a wave of shame as he had quietly stated that he had no idea just how long it was going to take Spike to get better.

     A groan from Spike had seen him almost throw the phone across the room in fright, a hurried goodbye to Mac and Xander had been instantly transfixed by the wretched creature curled in the bathtub. Hesitantly, Xander had spoken softly to Spike, encouraging him to open his eyes or move all the while trying to make sure his voice radiated with happiness. Even if Xander was exhausted, he made sure that Spike didn't hear it. For over an hour, Xander had touched Spike all over, his face twisted in a grimace as he forced himself to ignore his revulsion at making contact with the dry cracked skin and to give Spike the reassurance that he needed.

     Once, Spike's eyes had fluttered open, the vampire staring straight ahead for a mere few seconds before the eyelids had drooped shut again. In that moment, Xander's heart had skipped a beat as he had seen just how lifeless they were. Spike’s limbs had twitched and jerked continually, Xander putting it down to Angel's blood still working its way through Spike’s traumatised body.

     Finally, Xander had to heed the urgent call of nature and leave Spike’s side once again. As stupid as it was, Xander had given a weak chuckle as he had turned his back towards Spike while he had attempted to pee into the toilet, all in the name of giving himself more privacy.

     "Jesus... not like Spike hasn't seen my dick before," said Xander with another little half-hearted chuckle as he tucked himself away and adjusted his track pants. Of course Spike had seen his penis before, but never had Spike been in the bathroom along with Xander when, according to Spike, Xander indulged in 'gross human stuff... like, making a donation in the sewerage appeal', therefore, Xander couldn't help but feel a little strange at having another presence in the room. Albeit, a virtually comatose presence.

     There had been one scary confrontation when Xander had accidentally run out of toilet paper and had had to threaten Spike with a kicked arse before a fresh roll had been thrown at him through a barely open door.

     Threaten?

     Kick Spike’s arse?

     "Nah, lets face it. Would be more like a couple a kicks in the ribs... punch in the face, Hell, how about a good ol' fisting?" Gazing at himself in the medicine cabinet’s mirror, Xander noted the dark circles underneath his eyes, the overgrown five o'clock shadow and a lone smear of dried blood that stained one cheek. He felt like crap and obviously, he looked like it as well. However, Xander was unable to ignore the thrum of excitement that flared up within him at the obscene thought of thrusting a clenched fist deep inside the stretched rectum of a bound and helpless Spike even as he silently directed the question to himself. As he stared into the mirror, Xander was disgusted with himself as he reluctantly acknowledged that, once again, it was the whole issue of Spike being helpless and relying solely on him that made the fantasy so much more appealing. Suddenly, even as he gripped the sides of the small hand basin tightly, Xander let his head fall forward, sighing raggedly as his forehead thumped none too gently onto the smooth surface. "Sick. Fuck, I have to be to keep thinking this shit is normal. Oh. Sick... sick... sick but let’s not forget about being a liar and a coward. Oh yeah, major passing rate in those."

     His head still against the mirror, Xander turned slightly so that he was looking towards the bathtub and its lone occupant. Raising his voice, Xander repeated his promise to Spike as the vampire opened and closed his mouth in quick repetition. "I swear to God Spike, to anyone who is listening right now… I swear that I will get help. I promise to be a better man. I wanna be so good to you that you'll want to stay, not because you're afraid I'm gonna go mental and hurt you if you leave but… Because. You. Want. To. Stay."

     Xander's voice tapered off as he continued his promise to Spike. After a moment, he spoke again but in such a quiet tone, he was really only mouthing the words. "I promise that I will love you. I don't know when, oh fuck, or even if I ever will. I'm so sorry but I promise to at least try."

     Slowly, Xander turned away from Spike, twisting the taps at the basin so a lukewarm stream of water ran over his dirty hands. His mind whirling with the idea that he could one day come to love Spike, Xander set about washing his hands of the dried blood, continuing to clean himself up to the elbows before turning off the taps and drying his hands and arms with a towel taken from underneath the bathroom sink. Somewhat mechanically, Xander rubbed the stiff towel over himself, his thoughts concentrating on the relationship between himself and the vampire.

     Could he ever really love Spike? This was the foremost question swirling around his mind and as another thought occurred to him, Xander dropped the towel on the floor and without another look towards Spike, walked out to the cabin’s main room. Sitting heavily on the couch, Xander forced himself to forgo his usual tendency to ignore any serious matters and instead, concentrate on the matters at hand. With a deep breath, Xander prepared himself to face the ugly and violent truth of his relationship with Spike.

     He didn't love Spike. That much was clear and something that Xander had already admitted to Spike a few months earlier but the fact remained, he did more than just like Spike. Even though they had been having sex for over a year, in the beginning, Xander hadn't even remotely attempted to like Spike. Instead, he had relished the power of having a once powerful enemy at his beck and call, an enemy that was, for the most part, no better than a savage animal.

     "Oh God, I can't believe I just thought that!" groaned Xander, dropping his head into his hands even as he mentally nodded to himself that yes, no matter how often vampires displayed human traits and emotions, Xander had always considered them no more than smart but evil animals. Even finding the horrifically injured Spike had done nothing to change his mind, Xander only going so far as to think along the lines of Spike as a brain damaged and badly spooked dog. The same dog that needed to be 'reminded' every now and again.

     "I am such a pig but hey, Giles' fault as well." Xander admitted with a false nonchalance, putting some of the blame on an ex-Watcher who hadn't done anything to change Xander's opinion once he had aired it a few times. Actually, that wasn't fair, Xander decided. Although Giles hadn't said that Xander's opinion was wrong, the older man hadn't said it was right either, instead letting all three of the friends go along thinking that they were helping to rid the world of an overabundance of vicious animals. Of course, when it came down to the crunch, all that mattered was that Buffy didn't think too much about these types of things and just did her job. Xander found himself suppressing a small shudder as he had a vision of a Slayer who refused to do her job simply because she didn't want to kill sentient beings and Xander wasn't even going to drag the example of Angel into his thoughts. Sometimes, ignorance was bliss and as Sunnydale had proved, ignorance could be the safest option and the most lethal.

     However, no matter what Giles did or did not say back in Sunnydale, there was no excuse for Xander to continue the abuse of an 'animal' that others had started.

     Sitting stock still for a moment, Xander felt a wave of guilt flow through him as he couldn't help but recall the night in the basement in which he had started his Claiming of Spike. Nor could he deny how powerful he had felt as his hands had twisted between silky bleached locks of hair all the while causing Spike to gag in panic as he had concentrated in forcing his cock as far down the vampire’s throat as he could before adding to Spike’s debasement by withdrawing and cuming on the pale face.

     Xander had been in the throes of one of his rare black moods, an occasion where his temper surpassed his usual anger. Even though he knew he had a shocking temper, Xander frequently getting angry and upset, he had always managed to hide it from his friends by the way of joking around all the while allowing his anger to build until he was able to go home and let it out with no-one around, bar the basement walls, to witness it. The next day, Xander would have to step around shredded clothing, broken dishes, smashed glasses and other goods he had literally torn apart with his bare hands, all too often having to stop at Walmart on his way home to buy one or two posters to cover up the new dents and cracks in the basement walls. Something he hadn't had to do in a while because as horrible as it was to admit, Xander had found that punching and kicking Spike was a fantastic form of release. That night however, he hadn't meant to Claim Spike.

     Even though his next thought was causing him to squirm in shame, Xander forced himself to follow its lead. No, he had had no intention of sticking his dick anywhere near Spike but as he had grabbed at the cowering vampire with sole purpose of giving Spike a good belting, Xander had been subject to a sight that he had never seen before. A vampire cowering from him. Not just any run of the mill vampire but Spike, William the Bloody who had countless kills under his belt and always sneered at him, only ever having a cruel taunt for someone he considered well below him, even with the chip. A once proud individual who had never given him a second thought, let alone a first, was frightened of him, Xander Harris the lowly donut boy. As he had stood over Spike, years of frustration and embarrassment of being everyone’s whipping boy had come to a head and without a second thought as he had recalled what he had read in one of Giles' hidden books, Xander had switched over to auto-pilot, and let himself get lost in the pleasure of becoming the Alpha.

     The next day, even though Xander had been aghast by what he had done, he had been unable to feel too guilty by his actions and had felt justified when he had seen how submissive Spike was towards him. As far as Xander had been concerned, Spike now knew who the boss was. Still, Xander had made a point of apologising to Spike only because he had been unsettled by the way Spike had flinched every time he had come near him. And so, a pattern of abuse had been set. One that was still continuing.

     Never had a whole week gone by without Xander yelling at Spike for some small thing whether it be that Spike had flooded the bathroom, broken a plate while drying the dishes or...

     "Punchin' the shit outta him just because he's already cringing from me," Said Xander as he finished off his train of thought. "Jesus, I don't have a boyfriend...lover...or even a fucking friend… I have a victim. I have my Mom! Sure, he doesn't hit back like she does but he's still like my Mom."

     Xander was horrified by his thoughts. As bad as he already knew the relationship was, it was only by sitting down and consciously thinking about it that really showed how skewed it actually was.

     But still the fact remained, as much as Xander was bad for Spike's well-being, being around the vampire had allowed Xander to make decisions that he normally would never had had the opportunity to make.

     For example, deciding he was mature enough to make the conscious decision of taking on the responsibility of Spike's well-being... well, OK, he obviously wasn't good for Spike at all but he had actually been the only one out of his friends, including Willow and Tara, who had agreed to allow Spike to stay with him. Of course, the discussion had only taken place after Xander had Claimed Spike so it was inevitable that Xander's property was going to stay where it belonged, not that he had ever come right out and dared call Spike that to his face.

     Another big change had been Xander becoming comfortable in being attracted to another male, never mind the fact that Spike had made for the only non-threatening male in his life to experiment with. Even if Xander had only found himself accepting his sexuality within the confines of the basement and later, the apartment, it had still been a huge step for him to even be able to admit he was attracted to other men. Xander had continued to exploit Spike’s vulnerability, content to ignore the vampire whenever he had dared try to voice his opinion regarding one of Xander's decisions. It had only been after Spike had been forced to tell Xander who had attacked him in the crypt that Xander had started to accept that Spike wasn't just a brain-damaged animal needing 'reminders' every so often. Xander had realised that vampires could be hurt emotionally and psychologically, especially as he had put two and two together, finally working out why Spike had hidden every time Riley had come around to the apartment.

     On being told of whom had permanently damaged Spike, Xander had found himself beyond angry, and for the first time since Spike had moved in with him, more than a little worried about the vampire’s safety. Shifting slightly in his seat, Xander felt himself go red as he pushed ahead with his current thought. If he was going to be truthful with himself, then he had to state the bald truth. He had been more concerned with getting his property damaged than anything else.

     "And what did I do?" Xander muttered to himself. "Gave him a few kicks, a couple of punches and told him to stay inside… all for his own 'safety'"

     His words ending with a self depreciating snort, Xander let himself continue with his soul searching. "Shit, it's me he needs to be kept safe from."

     Fuck, Xander thought, even when he had been nice to Spike, he had only done it to apologise for terrifying the vampire. All the new nail polishes, the collection of 'I'm sorry, come on... you know it's my temper' punk rock CDs and even the rare outings to the movies had been pathetic attempts at glossing over his temper issues. What had been more pathetic had been how cautiously happy Spike had been to receive them. Xander could almost see Spike smiling hesitantly even as the vampire slowly reached out a pale hand to take a gift bag from Xander's hands. Hell, even the gift bags hadn't lasted long, after the first few months, Spike had been lucky to get a crumpled pre-used paper bag.

     Cringing in on himself, Xander gave a low moan as he recalled how excited Spike had been each time Xander had given him permission to go shopping with Willow and Tara. Xander had never straight out said, 'You have the permission to socialise' but that's what it boiled down to. Each time the girls had come over to see if Xander wanted to go shopping with them, Spike had always hung back until Xander had indicated that Spike was to come as well. A Master giving his slave permission to venture forth, the privilege of being at his Master's side in public.

     "He would just stand there, all quiet and... and... waiting," Xander stated to the otherwise silent room, his eyes starting to burn as a fresh flood of tears threatened to fall. "I mean, he isn't my slave and he sure as hell isn't a dog but... I click my fingers and he jumps. Doesn't matter how high... just does. Never really thought about it until now. Fuck, I thought we were friends."

     And despite everything that Xander had inflicted on Spike, he honestly thought that they had settled into a genuine friendship. But Xander felt his stomach churn as he came to slowly realise even though Spike did like... love... him, he never would have dared treat his best friend, Willow, as inhumanely as he treated Spike every day. Actually, he wouldn't have treated a dog as he did Spike, the thought wouldn't even have crossed his mind. Xander thought back to his and Willow’s friendship, smiling softly to himself even as his eyes started to water. With Willow, there was everything a good friendship was built out of, love, laughter, trust, shared secrets, conversations, happiness, the occasional argument, the ability to forgive and the acceptance of change.

     Xander felt his chest clench as he flitted through memories of time spent with Willow, the two of them alone together in a private place where no-one would find them. Despite both their reputations for Uber-babbling, there had been many-a-time in where a whole day had been spent in companiable silence. Both of them just relishing each other's company. Emitting a long ragged sigh, Xander wanted nothing more to be able to unload all his troubles on his best friend but even as he was about to give into the urge to get up and make a call to Sunnydale, he knew he just couldn't cope with Willow being disappointed and angry at him. Xander felt his ears go red in humiliation as he envisaged a phone call in where he would have to tell Willow that he was following in his father’s footsteps, Xander sniffling wetly as he imagined a soft sad 'Oh Xander'.

     That's all Willow would have to say for Xander to spin into his own version of The Shaming, not that Spike hadn't already pushed him close to it. Nothing Willow said after those two words would make as big a dint in his self-esteem as anything else that had happened over the past few days. With another sigh, Xander forced himself back onto track regarding his thoughts on Spike.

     He and Spike didn't even have a real friendship, more of a 'do as you're told and you won't get a beating' thing happening. But still, Xander had continued to make choices on what he thought was best for the vampire, even if they had been little ones and because of this, Xander had been forced to adjust his own life in various ways. The biggest conscious decision he had had to make had come as a sort of shock in as how easy it had been to make. The decision to leave his best friends, his family and work mates all to protect what was his. Spike.

     But he had done it and with only a few days thought as well. Xander had been ready for a change though and Spike had really been a convenient excuse but the fact remained, it had been the threat to Spike that had forced him to finally commit to what had only been a re-occurring yet idle option.

     If he thought about it properly, Xander had taken another huge step in declaring himself 'out'. Sure, he still had to tell his parents and best friends but that was easily fixed with a few phone calls. His parents would go ballistic and, as Xander could only hope, prompt his parents into cutting all bonds. Xander already knew that Willow and Tara would be there for him 100%, even long distance while Buffy would take longer but with an already cautious yet supportive Giles to work on her, Xander knew his new sexual identity wouldn't be an issue for long. Cordelia could be relied on for a 'Well, duh!'.

     Apart from Stan, his work mates hadn't had a problem with his preferences and neither did his circle of friends in Alaska. He still wasn't too keen on being one half of Pennington’s only 'out' gay couple but he was getting there. To tell the truth, Xander had thought that since he was in a small town situated in a state that didn't have the best tolerance levels, he would have met with more homophobia than he already had. Something that he was continually thankful for each time he read about the occasional gay-bashing in the Alaskan Times.

     At the time though, Xander had thought that admitting his sexuality to his work mates and the true nature of his relationship with his 'cousin' was the biggest step of his life, now however, allowing a murder to occur for the benefit of Spike was going to result in a decision with life-long ramifications. A decision that was going to be for the benefit of both Spike and Lukas.

     Xander hated that it was going to happen but couldn't help thinking that Diehl’s death would go a long way into showing Spike that he was willing to risk everything so that Spike would get well again.

     Surely it proved that Xander was thinking about Spike’s needs this time and not his own? It would be another big step, this time in the right direction.

     Recalling his earlier rant about doing an AA style meeting in domestic violence, Xander couldn't help but allow his grin to get larger even as he nodded to himself. He could do that. He could get up in front of people and admit he beat Spike, sure, he would be bright red, as ashamed as Hell and more than likely wanting to punch something...

     "And lets just focus on the something aspect here and not the somebody..." said Xander, a genuine grin ghosting over his face as he finally felt a glimmer of hope for his future with Spike. Yeah, he could definitely fix what he had with Spike. All it was going to take was time and patience. As he got up and walked to the main bedroom to get his bed ready for Spike, Xander steadfastly ignored the hard-on he had been sporting ever since he had gone over the first violent blow job in Sunnydale.


~*~*~*~*~


10 March, Thursday, 2001

7.23 pm

As exhausted as he felt, Spike stared up at the ceiling, his vampiric ability ensuring he could make out the numerous cracks throughout the paint in the pitch black of the main bedroom. Spike was unable to sleep as he listened to yet another visitor, this time Stephanie, ask Xander what the doctor had said about Spike's 'sudden relapse'.

Spike shifted around on the single mattress, frowning at how hard it was for him to do such a simple thing as turn on his side, feeling shaky and heavy. His skin felt tight; Spike fancied that he could almost hear it ripping apart as he stretched out a leg, paper-thin slivers torn from his flesh with the tiniest of movements. A few times, he had held a hand to his face, watching in a sort of weird fascination as dried skin flaked from his long fingers, sprinkling onto his chest. When Spike had followed the fall of one tiny, wrinkled snowflake, he hadn't been able to see where it had landed, the grey particle becoming anonymous amongst thousands as his whole body peeled at an astounding rate. Much like someone who had been caught out in the sun for a lengthy period and was now suffering the after effects of sunburn. He shuddered, teeth clenched as a bone deep itch flared the whole length of the bottom of his right foot, an unwanted reminder that not even his soles and palms had been spared from the continual itch as new skin fought its way to the surface. Spike just wanted to take to himself with a wire brush, scour at his skin until he bled... throw himself onto a bed of nails, rolling from one side to the other... anything for a bit of relief but the itch was nowhere near as frustrating as his constant thirst.

No matter how much blood he drank, Spike was left with a dry mouth and the desperate need for more. The first day after 'waking up', the desire for anything liquid had been so overwhelming that, once all the blood was gone and the jug of iced water finished, in less than five minutes, Spike had downed the four gallons of milk that Xander had only just paid for via home delivery. Xander had knelt beside the bed, staring at Spike with open mouthed amazement even as he had poured glass after glass for Spike; helping to hold the glass to Spike's mouth when Spike proved far to weak to manage on his own. Xander watched the vampire cough and splutter in his desperation to get some moisture back into his body, while he had wiped at the rivers of milk dribbling down the light grey chin. Finally, it had been a bloated stomach and severe cramping that had forced Spike to turn his head from the glass of Coke resting against his bottom lip, his thirst barely sated, yet Spike had been sure he would vomit if he took just one more sip of anything. His throat wasn't as dry as a few days before, and Spike was able to cope with the nagging want for refreshment much better, even though his tongue felt overly large; as if it didn't fit inside his mouth properly.

Spike was bone tired. Exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. His vampire senses seemed to be lacking, not as honed and sharp as they should have been. His game face hadn't come to the surface once while feeding. Worried as he was, Spike was sure that, after a decent rest and a few more meals of human blood, everything would be right again. Still, Spike was finding that he felt 'out of it'; he couldn't really put it into words. Spike just felt... odd, like his head was wrapped in cotton wool. Because he was frequently lapsing into deep sleep, he was oblivious to many of the visitors turning up at their front door. Every now and again, he heard voices he recognised; Cyril, Spit and Fitzy, the whole of the local pharmacy, even the elderly identical twins that ran Pennington’s small supermarket.

Just about every single one of them bringing some sort of foil covered meal or casserole for them both; Xander's laughter had been slightly strained as he joked that there was no more room in the freezer and that he was going to have to start having lamb casserole for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Only earlier that morning, Xander had been grinning from ear to ear as he ticked off on his fingers the one chocolate cake, one strawberry sponge cake, complete with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries on top and three plum puddings that had been left with him over the past three days, along with sincere wishes for Spike to be well soon. Even as Xander had made light of their friends' generosity, Spike could see that the youth's smile was forced, Xander not quite looking at Spike as he told the vampire who had visited while Spike was asleep. More often than not, it was Lukas he heard. Spike was sure that, even dead to the world in a deep slumber, he could sense Lukas in the room with him. Certainly he could smell the Fijian within the confines of the main bedroom. Spike snorted to himself, he would have to tell Lukas that, just because he had touched Spike's old fella, it didn't mean Lukas had the right to perve at a bloke when he was sleeping.

~ Never woulda figured that one for a poof. What the hell did he think he was doin', givin' me todger a right fiddle about? Still, from what the boy tells me, should be bloody well thankful he was around to help. ~

He grinned, pulling the corner of the comforter up around his shoulders, refusing to acknowledge that his hands shook from the effort. If he had one true friend in the world, it was Lukas. Nosy sod and all. From what he had been able to get out of a somewhat reluctant Xander, Lukas had sat with Spike for hours on end, giving Xander a much needed rest from caring for Spike. Spike was sure that he had been able to hear the fellow demon's much deeper voice as Spike had flitted in and out of consciousness.

~ Owe the bugger big for this. F' me, already owe for all the human I've had an' all I'm still gonna be havin' but what he did for the boy... dunno if I can ever repay that? ~

Spike might be feeling and looking like the literal death warmed over but at least he was out of the bathtub. He shivered, the possibility of falling ill again looming over him, no matter how many times Xander had told him that it wasn't going to happen again. Yesterday morning, Spike had finally been strong enough to sign complete sentences. With his courage gathered, as Xander had plonked himself on the blowup double mattress beside Spike's single one, Spike asked what had happened to him. Spike had listened to Xander's reply, the explanation dotted with umm's, ahhh's and awkward silences. He had been alternately fascinated, confused and horrified by what had happened to him. He could understand how a 'flash' could bring on a blood nose, the soddin' thing brought on enough headaches so a blood nose wasn't that far fetched, but to bleed so much that he was only a few hours from crumbling into dust, well, that was just beyond him at the moment.

As for Xander, it was beyond his understanding as well. When Spike pressed the reluctant youth, Xander said there had been some sort of vague reference in one of Wesley's books; something about a rare occurrence when a vampire's blood didn't clot properly which led to the dehydration that only Sire or Claimant's blood could help alleviate. Unable to even contemplate locating Diehl, his real Claimant, let alone asking for a pint of blood, Xander had been forced to ask for Angel's help. Still, even with the lingering taste of Sire's blood in his mouth, Spike couldn't really believe Angel had gotten off his lard arse and actually agreed to help Xander, and more importantly, Spike. The sheer fact that he could smell the older vampire's faint scent wafting from the bathroom had forced Spike to accept that Xander hadn't been making the story up and that it had been a severe 'flash' that had made him sick, not a beating as he had first thought. Nevertheless, Spike was at a loss to understand why Angel had decided to help instead of letting Spike die.

~ Things musta got pretty bloody rotten for me Sire to lend a hand. Thought the bugger woulda jumped for joy to learn of me almost kicking it? Can't hate the ol' Nancy too much now, him an' his boy wonder. Still rip his cock off sooner than look at him though. ~

Again and again, Spike had turned the question of 'why' over in his mind. Why had Angel helped them, why now? Spike was still trying to remember what had caused the 'flash'; every previous one had been brought on by stress. He must have been in the grip of a major panic attack for the chip to cause such problems. What the hell had happened? Why was he in such a stressed out state on Sunday night? Instinctively, Spike knew that there was more to the explanation than Xander had told him so far, but every time Spike gestured at Xander to tell all, the boy had become fidgety, a too bright grin plastered on his face as Xander waved Spike's questions aside. With a shake of his head, Spike pushed the puzzle to one side, just the thought of it tiring him enough so that he yawned.

Whenever Xander decided to tell him the rest of the story would be fine. As far as Spike was concerned, being alive was the main thing. Such reasoning did nothing to quell the constant unease that tickled the back of his mind. The feeling that something was very wrong refused to leave him, no matter how hard he tried to ignore it. Lifting his hand to rub at an itch on the bridge of his nose, Spike grimaced as he took in how emaciated he still was, his hand looking like the stereotypical old crone's claw from the movies. With a small shudder, Spike thought back to his reaction when he had first become conscious of how ill he had really been, and still was.

It had been the sting of the lukewarm bathwater and a faint aroma of warm oatmeal that had wakened Spike from a light slumber only two days before, the vampire finally able to gesture enough at Xander for the youth to realise that Spike was awake, if not physically capable of much movement. Xander had been ecstatic, the scent of relief pouring off Xander had almost engulfed him, prompting Spike to try and sign Xander's name. The resulting gestures hadn't even been close but nonetheless, the sheer effort of being able to bring his hands together and wiggling his fingers had been enough for Xander to kiss him on the forehead. Spike had opened his eyes, Xander's face swimming before him.

A good minute had passed before Spike had been able to focus on Xander's worried brown eyes and the first thought that had come to his mind had been that Xander looked like shit. The dark circles under Xander's eyes and pasty complexion making him look nearly as ill as Spike had felt. Xander had brought Spike's hand to his lips, grazing his mouth over the cool flesh, but not before Spike had recognised the revulsion that had flickered over Xander's weary face, and the youth had scrubbed the back of his other hand over his mouth. Still too weak to sign even a few letters to ask what the look had been about, it wasn't until Xander had tipped him forward to wash Spike's back that Spike even had an inkling of what his condition was like and as he had taken a good look at himself, Spike hadn't been able to blame Xander one bit for not wanting to kiss him.

Spike hadn't been able to scream, too exhausted from the effort of keeping his eyes open and not giving into the darkness beckoning to him. Instead, he had stared in shock at his legs, uttering low grunts of horror as he slowly ran his gaze from his too long toenails, up his withered legs, to his hairless crotch and limp, shrivelled penis. Spike had been instantly disgusted at seeing the long layers of dry skin literally falling from his entire body, his grunting turning into a sharp whine. At his obvious distress, Xander had patted his head, the callused, too hot hand allowing Spike to realise that it wasn't just his lower body that was affected by whatever had struck him down.

As Xander stroked his hand over Spike's scalp, the vampire had become aware of his lack of hair and, twisting his head to one side, he forced himself to lift his right arm a bare inch, instantly feeling faint when he saw that his armpit was as hairless as his crotch. Dropping his gaze, Spike had started to pant in distress as he counted the ribs on his right side. His panting increased as he ran his eyes over his concave stomach; his once perfectly proportioned six-pack of muscles had atrophied into oblivion and his hipbones were hideously prominent. God only knew what his face and the rest of his body looked like but the way he had felt and going by what he had already seen, Spike had known it wasn't going to be pretty. The blackness swirling at the back of his mind had rushed forth, swallowing his conscious mind as Spike wondered if he had somehow become a victim of spontaneous mummification.

~ Stupid git, fainted like the big girl I am. Guess the name, 'Xander's little woman' is now more appropriate than ever! ~

Unable to hold back a small smile, Spike continued to ignore the nagging discomfort of 'not quite right', instead, he savoured the small glow of happiness that warmed him from the very pit of his stomach. All that time spent in the bathtub, in pain and terrified beyond all reason of what was happening to him, and all because of a stupid, faulty chip. Spike had lain motionless, drifting in and out of what could only have been hallucinations for hours. His mind had been so addled from pain and worry; Spike had thought he heard Xander talking to himself, barely discernible mutterings of apologies and promises that Spike didn't believe for an instant. Spike had only really come to as he had felt Lukas touching his body, the too big hand shifting his cock, jerking him from his slumber, and even then he had still lapsed into periods of deep sleep every now and again. His smile broadening, Spike gave a quiet laugh.

~ Christ, I was so off the f'n bloody planet, thought I heard him an' Lukas' talking 'bout murder. Dickhead, that's what I am at times. ~

Sure, OK... Spike could go so far as to believe that Xander would promise not to force Spike into stuff he didn't want to do anymore, not that Spike really held out any hope of that, but nothing on the planet would allow Spike to believe Xander would murder someone. That much he knew, without a doubt, was just the result of a fairly severe hallucination. The boy wasn't like that, too much of a White Knight to even consider something so wrong. Just the thought of it was stupid. Spike shook his head, his quiet laughter the only sound in the darkened room.

It was times like these that he was glad he was a vampire; he didn't have a reflection that would show how foul he actually looked compared to how he felt. And yet, even with that thought, Spike couldn't help but wonder what he actually looked like for Xander to be so repulsed by him. He sighed, rubbing his hand slowly across his scalp, feeling the soft tufts of hair ripple underneath the palm of his hand. Although it was growing back, his hair was barely half an inch long. Only late last night, Xander had joked that he was going to buy Spike a snow beanie for him to wear until it was a better length. Spike had stuck his tongue out at Xander, steadfastly ignoring how Xander seemed to cringe at his own joke and instead concentrated on grinning up at the youth, Spike's cheeks straining at the effort. As he continued to listen to Stephanie in the other room, Spike nodded to himself as he heard Xander firmly dissuade Stephanie from taking a 'little peek at one of her favourite boys'.

~ Boy? If only the bint knew how old her 'boy' was. Stupid cow.~

Stupid cow or not, Spike knew that there was no plausible explanation for him to look as withered as he did and no matter what type of 'setback' or 'sudden relapse' spin Xander put on the official reason for Spike being out of circulation for a while, anyone taking just one glance at Spike would immediately freak. Spike could see the struggle it was for Xander to touch him at the moment, ironic when Xander loved to touch Spike in numerous ways when in a temper. And if Xander was having a hard time coping with how Spike looked, then any ordinary person would probably have Spike in the intensive care ward so fast, both their heads would spin.

~ Don't wanna see no one anyway. Too soddin' tired. ~

Still, Spike was honestly overwhelmed by how careful Xander was when touching him. With his rough and calloused hands, Xander carried Spike from bed to bath, dabbing at him with oatmeal scented bathwater before Spike was gently towel dried, smothered in overly oily cream and put back to bed. Twice a day, slowly and softly. No matter how much distaste Spike could sense from Xander, there was no mistaking the constant relief that shone in Xander's eyes. Since Spike had been settled into the main bedroom again, Xander had been hovering around him. Always ready to ask if Spike felt all right, was he tired, was it OK for Xander to sit down on the bed, did he need something to eat, was the radio too loud or not loud enough? Even if Spike wasn't hungry, there was always the scent of human blood wafting from the kitchen, the ping of the microwave going off every four or five hours, Xander tip-toeing in with a mug in his hand only a minute later. More often than not, it was the microwave that woke Spike, so used to it signalling that it was time for food, that he automatically jerked awake the moment the timer went off.

~Jus' like a ruddy dog, ain't I? ~

Not even bothering to worry about his kinship with Pavlov's dog, Spike smiled to himself. Xander was fussing around him like the proverbial mother hen, something that Xander normally wasn't. As far as Xander was concerned, Spike had two hands, two feet and a working brain that meant Spike was perfectly capable of pulling his own weight. And so, Spike was determined to enjoy Xander's coddling for as long as possible. His stomach fluttered as he recalled falling asleep with Xander holding his hand, waking up just under an hour ago still hand in hand with Xander. For over 3 hours, Xander had sat with Spike while he had slept. Xander had to have been bored out of his mind, sitting on a slowly deflating blowup mattress with nothing but a bare wall to keep him occupied. Spike had woken up, opening his eyes just a smidgeon as he realised that the large, warm hand around his hadn't moved even an inch the whole time he had been asleep.

He had taken the opportunity to stare at Xander from underneath his newly grown eyelashes, silently adoring the man who had once again saved his life. Spike had been overwhelmed by the love he felt for Xander, any of the feelings he had experienced for Xander previously were nothing but mere shadows of what he now felt. As Xander had turned a little to one side and caught Spike's gaze, Xander's face had lit up in a soft smile and he gently squeezed Spike's hand. There had been such emotion in the dark eyes that Spike wondered if there was more than just relief every time Xander looked at him.

Over the past few days, Spike rather fancied that maybe-

Spike hurriedly cut himself off before he got too caught up in it. Was stupid to keep thinking about things that were never going to happen but he couldn't help it. Love was his Achilles Heel, through and through. He was 99% sure that Xander was never going to love him as Spike did. Never in this lifetime anyway, but Spike was such a bitch to the whole idea of being in love that a sliver thin 1% chance encouraged him to work at Xander until the boy was head over heels with him.

As he lay in the bed, just staring up at his Claimant, Spike had suddenly realised that Xander was as close to the fairytale knight in shining armour as he was ever going to get. There was no horse, not even a decent car and the boy's armour was tattered flannel and denim. And in no way did it matter if the castle was a pokey two bedroom cabin in a backwater, interbred town. All that mattered was that Xander had come along when Spike had desperately needed a saviour. Time and time again, Xander had saved Spike from attack and the threat of a second death. So, none of the bad things mattered to Spike anymore. None of the beatings or the gut wrenching insults screamed at him by a youth in the throes of a violent temper tantrum. Likewise with the threats and promises of 'you'll get what you deserve'.

So what if Xander sometimes beat him, it wasn't as if it was a daily occurrence and anyway, Spike knew full well that he was the one to blame most of the time. Besides, beatings and forced interactions were part and parcel of both Claimant/Adored and Sire/Childe relationships, so Xander wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. Spike knew in his heart that, if he could get Xander to love him, even just the tiniest bit, then Xander wouldn't lash out at him as much. He wasn't naive enough to hope for the 'lessons' to stop completely, but if it only happened one or twice a month, then things would be as close to perfect as Spike could ever hope for.

Spike grinned, wincing slightly as he hugged himself, giving Stephanie a mental wave goodbye as he heard Xander walk her out to her car.

~ White knight. That's me boy alright. All that matters is he saved me life. An' it ain't love yet, but it will be. One day. ~

And yet, Spike couldn't quite shake the deep voice telling him that, one day, Xander was going to kill him.




tbc?




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