Shadows In Silence


31 The Silence In Between

The world was crumbling, shattering into millions of pieces beneath his feet. Buildings were falling into tiny shards, piling up around him. Raising his hands he watched as his fingers crumbled, landing amongst the ruins around. He opened his mouth to scream, but even the sound fell apart, tumbling down.

"Hey, wake up," a soft voice cajoled, making the horror fade away. He forced his eyes open, wondering why they were so heavy and looked up into worried blue ones. Spike leaned over, brushing his fingers down Xander's face. "Are you okay now?"

Xander managed a weak nod, wincing at the pain in his throat. Raising a hand, he touched the swollen flesh of his neck. He remembered the nurses leading him into the operating room and helping him onto the table. He remembered someone coming in to put him asleep, inserting a needle into Xander's arm. Then there was a soft fog that emptied his mind, save for the brief flash of some ancient map, and then he drifted. And then there was nothing. Finally, there was the world, falling apart around him.

"Doctor said we can take you home in a few hours," Spike told him, taking Xander's hand away from his neck.

Smiling, Xander squeezed Spike's hand. Once again feeling safe, he let himself fall back asleep, content that Spike was there to protect him.


Watching the young man sleep, Spike let himself relax. His boy would be fine now. With a needless sigh of relief, he leaned back in his seat, still holding on the Xander's hand with an iron grip. The hours of the operation and the time waiting for Xander to wake up had dragged on him, leaving his nerves tense and tight. But once his boy had smiled up at him, lucid if groggy, had set most of his fears aside. He was aware there was still danger until Xander healed completely, but the true peril had passed.

"Sir?" His head snapped up at the soft voice and he relaxed when he saw the nurse standing by him. "Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. Has he woken up?"

"Yeah," Spike nodded. "Drifted back off though."

"That's good," she smiled. "Come get me the next time he wakes up and I'll give him his next dose of pain medication."

"Thank you," he said. She patted his shoulder and walked off, leaving him staring down at his sleeping boy.

He spent the next little while watching the minute twists and twitches Xander made as he slept. Finally the boy opened dazed eyes and looked at him, a half smile on his lips.

"Hey, pet," Spike whispered, brushing curls away from Xander's face. "Have a nice nap?" The young man nodded, then paused and shifted a little. "What's wrong?"

A wave of red washed over the boy's face and realization dawned on Spike. Smiling, he helped Xander slip from the bed and supported him on the walk over to the bathroom. Leaning against the wall, he waited as the young man used the facilities. Glancing over he caught the nurse's eye and she nodded. The sound of the toilet flushing and sink running snapped his attention back to his boy on the other side and he waited for the door to open. Xander stepped out of the bathroom and Spike lead him back to the bed, catching him when he stumbled.

"Hey there," the nurse said as she walked over to the bed. "Are you feeling any pain?"

Spike wanted to smack her for the stupid question, but he could tell by the look on her face that she didn't really want to ask it. He looked over as Xander nodded and the nurse smiled.

"Okay then," she said, placing the tray in her hands on the table over the bed. "I have something that'll help with that."

She handed him a small cup filled with clear liquid. Spike took a quick sniff as it passed him, checking for anything harmful. Flicking a brief glance at Spike, Xander took the medication and gingerly swallowed it.

"Would you like anything to drink?" the nurse asked. "Water, juice, maybe some pop?"

Xander shook his head and then nodded. "Pop," Spike translated.

The nurse smiled and then went to get the drink, handing it over with a small pat to Xander's shoulder. Once she was gone, Spike turned his full attention back to his boy, using all his senses to check Xander's condition. Satisfied that the boy was okay, he smiled, relaxing fully. They spent the next while like that, Spike watching as Xander drifted in and out of sleep while the nurse popped around to check on the young man. Finally, Xander was deemed fit to leave.

Spike helped the still slightly unsteady Xander get dressed, easing the young man into his clothing. As he helped pull each article of clothing on, he got strange flashes of heat through his body, centering in his mid-section. Something about the way the clothing covered Xander's pale flesh made him feel odd and out of sorts. Pushing it to the back of his mind, he helped Xander finish dressing and walked the slightly dazed young man out to the parking lot. The feelings were not something new to him, though new to the situation, but he wasn't going to rock the boat and ruin the trust the young man had in him. Xander's past would always make the young man uneasy of anything to do with sex, and Spike spent too much time keeping the boy sane to ruin that.


Xander glanced at Spike out of the corner of his eye, wondering just what had his vampire so riled up. Normally Spike was easy going, but at the moment he was tense and jittery, as if something or someone bad was coming. Spike said nothing on their ride back home, his hands clenched around the steering wheel. Feeling desperate for something to shatter the silence building between them, Xander leaned over and flicked on the radio. Spike jumped and shot a startled look at him before giving him a strained smile. The young man wiggled in his seat to the music, moving as much as his battered throat would let him. Suddenly Spike leaned forward and turned off the radio, his other hand gripping the wheel tightly.

Wondering just what was going on, Xander curled up in his seat, holding himself as still as possible. Spike flicked a glance over at him, and the hands clenching the wheel loosened slightly.

"Not mad at you, pet, I promise," Spike said soothingly, reaching over to run a hand over Xander's arm. "Just not in the mood for music, okay?"

Xander could feel the truth in the first part and the lie in the second and he wondered just what was bothering his vampire so much that he would lie to him. To keep the peace, Xander nodded and let his body unwind some, staring out the window as the buildings passed.


They reached the Hyperion fairly quickly, though Spike was not driving anywhere close to his normal speeds. The vampire led his boy inside, only to have him pulled away by the concerned members of the eclectic little family. Seeing his boy safe and where he belonged, Spike made his way into the office, heading for the stash of liquor he knew Angel kept in there. Bottle in hand he sat at the desk, his feet on the top and took a healthy swallow, relishing the burn as it slid down his throat. A quiet cough made him lift his head and meet the worried green eyes staring at him.

"Is everything all right?" Doyle asked, venturing close to the desk.

"Xander's fine," Spike told him. "Doc's said as long as he took it easy for the next few weeks, there'd be no problems."

"That's good," nodded the seer. "But that's not what I asked."

Taking another swallow, Spike leaned his head back, avoiding the intent eyes. "For the past several decades things have been pretty constant. Darla left us and it was me and Dru against the world. And then I meet this boy, and everything changes. Mostly for the better. We have family, a steady supply of food and violence and a bloody great home. And this boy, this boy I've been charged with guiding. A boy I saw as my little brother, my little shadow. . ."

"You don't see him that way anymore, do you?" Doyle's voice was soft as he crept closer, carefully removing the bottle of fine scotch from Spike's fingers. "How do you see him now?"

A half laugh half sob broke from Spike and he tilted his head to look at the half demon, his eyes haunted. "I still see him as family," Spike said slowly. "I still see him as my little shadow, but now it takes on a whole new meaning."

"What are you going to do?"

"Oh, that's easy," Spike smiled sadly. "I'm not going to do anything."

32 Sheltered Shadows

Angel followed the sound of thumping to his and Doyle's bedroom, finding his husband seated on the floor and banging his head off the wall in a measured beat. The half-demon paused and glanced up at him before restarting. He slid down beside Doyle, pulling the smaller man away from the wall.

"What's wrong?" Angel asked, rubbing a soothing hand over Doyle's back.

"Spike," the seer muttered, turning to bury his face in Angel's shoulder.

"And what's new about that?" Angel asked dryly.

"And Xander," Doyle added.

"Okay, that's new," he said, easing Doyle back a bit. "What's going on?"

Doyle sighed. "It's more like what's not going on," he said. He scrubbed a hand across his face. "Spike has developed some feelings for Xander."

Angel nodded. "I noticed that," he admitted.

"Yeah, well it would be fine except he's practically avoiding Xander which is making him feel rejected and making Dru mad," explained Doyle.

"I do understand why he's avoiding Xander," Angel said. "He probably doesn't want to scare him."

"Oh, that's not the fucked up part," Doyle shook his head. "Xander came to me a while back because he was confused by his feelings for Spike. He also thinks that Spike would never see him as anything other than a little brother."

Angel stilled and blinked slowly. "Oh," he managed to squeak. "You're right, this is fucked up."

"I don't know what to do," Doyle sighed, snuggling deeper into his husband's arms.

"Maybe you shouldn't," the vampire said softly. "This is their problem to work out."

"Yes, but with the way Spike's been acting Dru might dust him and either way Xander will end up hurt."

"Do you want me to talk to him?" Angel asked.

Doyle blinked up at him. "Would you? That would be great. Hopefully you can get through to him."

"But not right now," Angel said, tightening his arms.

Doyle grinned, pulling Angel's head down for a kiss. "No, not right now."


Spike sat beside his boy, noting the minute flinch Xander gave. He sighed and turned so he was facing his boy, ignoring the way Xander refused to look at him.

"I'm sorry," he said, reaching out to touch his boy's shoulder. Xander pulled away and shook his head. "As Angel pointed out, I've been an idiot." This time Xander nodded, still looking straight ahead. "Got a reason for it," he offered.

Xander turned to look at him, blindly grabbing his pad of paper and scrawling something across it. What reason?

Spike sat for a moment, trying to find the words to explain it. Finally, he leaned over and brushed a chaste kiss over Xander's lips. Pulling back, he watched as the young man raised one trembling hand to touch his lips, brown eyes full of confusion.

Is that why you don't want to be around me? Xander wrote.

"It's not that I don't want to be around you," Spike said. "It's actually that I want to be around you a little too much. I didn't want to scare you or make you feel uncomfortable."

A strange look descended on Xander's face and he scribbled something furiously before thrusting the pad of paper at Spike. So instead of making me scared or uncomfortable, you made me feel like I wasn't worth anything to you. That you didn't want to be around me anymore.

"Shit, pet, I'm sorry," Spike said, pulling the young man into his arms. "I never meant to make you feel that way."

Xander wrote something again, looking away when he handed it over this time. I didn't avoid you when I figured out I had feelings for you.

Spike blinked and reread the words. "You have feelings for me?" he asked, turning Xander back to look at him. Xander nodded. "Why didn't you say anything?"

Because I thought you saw me as your little brother or something like that, Xander scribbled.

Smiling ruefully, Spike leaned forward to brush another kiss over Xander's mouth, this one a little less chaste. "We definitely need to talk about all this," he said when he pulled back.

Xander nodded and settled firmly into his arms, turning so Spike could read the paper over his shoulder. You start, he wrote.


A furious look on her face, Cordelia stormed through the hotel, grabbing Wesley as she passed him and pulling him along. She burst into the main office, interrupting Angel and Doyle's conversation.

"Cordy?" Doyle asked, noting how angry she looked. "Is something the matter?"

Too angry to speak, she thrust a piece of paper at him and paced the length of the small room. Doyle read the letter, his mouth dropping open in shock.

"What?" Angel asked.

"Her parents are suing her. According to the summons, she stole from them amongst other crimes," Doyle said, handing over the letter. He turned back to her, reaching out to pause her frantic pacing. "Why are they doing this?"

She sat down on a chair and sighed. "When I was sixteen the IRS showed up and audited my father. It seemed he hadn't paid his taxes in about ten years." They all winced at that. "We lost everything. When they were going through his papers, they found a proposal to," she stopped for a moment, her face twisted in disgust, "sell me to the highest bidder. There were some that were offering almost a million."

"What?!" Angel snarled, vamping out in rage. Doyle laid a calming hand on his shoulder and motioned for the young woman to continue.

"When I found out I petitioned the courts for emancipation," she told them. "I won shortly after my seventeenth birthday."

"Why are they suing you?" Wesley asked, sitting on the chair next to hers.

"When I left I took all my belongings that hadn't been seized yet and the pieces of jewelery that my grandmother had left me," she said. "The jewelery is worth a lot of money. Truthfully, I'm surprised they waited this long."

"What are you going to do?" Doyle asked.

"Only thing I can," Cordy said. "Fight them."

"We're behind you a hundred percent, princess," Doyle told her, moving over to give her a hug.

"Good," she smiled brightly. "Does that mean you'll hire me a lawyer?"

Angel smiled a truly evil smile. "I know a lawyer that might do it."

"Is that a good idea?" Doyle asked, turning concerned eyes on his husband.

"Probably not," Angel admitted. "But he does owe me."

Doyle shook his head. "I hope you know what you're doing."

Interlude 2 Bemused Shadows

Summary: Strange Things Blossom between Wes and Cordy
Rating: PG

There was a pleasant, flowery scent near her, luring her into wakefulness. Blinking dark eyes open, Cordelia stared at the single flower laying on her pillow. She reached out and touched it with one finger, wondering if it was real or a figment of her still sleepy imagination. Her finger encountered cool petals and she carefully lifted the flower, bringing it up to breathe in its smell. Climbing out of bed, she quickly dressed and headed down to the lobby, hoping someone could tell her who had given her the flower. All the while, she cradled the bloom carefully in her hands.

She reached the bottom of the stairs to see Spike and Xander curled up on one of the couches, watching something on the t.v. they had convinced Angel to buy. Angel was behind the counter, reading something and she could see Doyle behind him in the office. Only Wes and Dru were missing.

"Morning," she greeted. "Did any of you leave this for me?" She held up the flower. They all made motions of denial. "Did Dru or Wes?"

"Dunno," Spike shrugged. "Who knows what Dru does. She is batty after all."

Seeing she would get no help from them, she left the lobby in a snit, heading off to find the two missing members of their little family. As she traveled down the hallways, she could hear an almost ghostly voice singing, the words inaudible. Moving up into the unused floors, the voice got louder and the words started to come through stronger.

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds all in a row.

She followed the singing to a suite and gently pushed the door open. Inside, Dru sang and spun around, her doll cradled in her arms. Wes was sitting on a divan, a matching flower twirling between his fingers. Cordelia paused when she heard the Englishman speak softly.

"Do you really think she'll like it?" he asked, breaking into Dru's singing.

"Like mini-sunrises, glowing red and yellow and orange, little suns in a row," Dru giggled.

He shook his head with a little smile. "I don't even know how I should give it to her. Should I just walk up and hand it over? Place it by her plate before a meal?"

Dru giggled again. "Shh," she whispered, leaning down to peer into his face. "It's a secret. Edge of dreams, like wisps of smoke. Can be real. Can be not."

Wes blinked, confused by her words. "I don't understand, Dru."

She only laughed and went back to her spin, her voice once again picking up the song.

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And marigolds in a row,
" she paused. "Or side by side, such pretty little suns. Aren't I right, Cordy?"

Wes leapt off the divan, his hand almost crushing the flower. "Cordelia?" he squeaked.

Smiling slightly, the former cheerleader pushed the door open further and walked into the room. She looked at Dru, dark eyes meeting and exchanging information. "Thank you, Dru," she said. The vampiress giggled again and floated out of the room, her work done. "Is that one for me too?" Cordy asked, pointing to the flower that Wes still held.

"Y-yes," Wes stuttered, holding it out with a blush. "How. . ." he trailed off.

"She left it on my pillow," Cordy told him, stepping closer.

"Oh," he managed to say, his blush deepening. "Um. . ."

Moving closer, she leaned in and whispered in his ear. "Any way you wanted to give the flower to me, I would have taken. I've been waiting for you to make a move."

"Really?" he squeaked.

"Really," she said.

"I wasn't sure my attentions would be welcomed," he confessed quietly.

Cordy kissed him. "They're more than welcomed."

33 Forgiving Silence

Cordelia walked out of the court house, a wide smile on her face. Tilting her head, she let the sun shine on her for a moment before climbing into the specially tinted car waiting by the curb.

"We won. When we left they were grovelling," she told Angel, her smile still splitting her face. "Lindsey said he'll show up later, after he's finished filing the paperwork."

"That's good," he nodded, starting the car up and heading back home. "We should celebrate tonight."

"We should," she agreed. "Where though? Not many places would be able to deal with us."

"Hm, not sure," Angel shrugged. "Doyle or Spike would know."

"True," Cordy laughed, settling back into the seat as the scenery passed by.


Xander finished the last bite of his food and pushed his plate away. The celebration of Cordelia's win had taken them to a high end demon restaurant that Doyle knew and they had plans on heading to a club after.

"Where should we go?" Cordy asked, taking a sip of her wine.

"I know one," Lindsey offered. "It's demon run and violence free."

"Caritas," Doyle nodded. "I know that place. Not a bad idea."

Xander stared at the man. He wasn't sure if he liked the lawyer or not. There was something charming about the man, but he did work for the firm that had kidnapped Xander, and he didn't like the reminder.

"Xan?" He looked over at Spike who looked back, concern shining in his eyes. Xander smiled and leaned over, brushing a soft kiss over Spike's mouth. Both smiling, they turned back to the debate taking place. Once everyone agreed, the group of them headed for the bar, deciding to walk the short distance instead of taking cars.

"Lindsey," Angel called, falling back a bit. "I want to talk to you."

The lawyer slowed until the vampire caught up with him, letting the others move ahead. Xander strained his ears to listen to their conversation, knowing that Angel's proximity to the handsome lawyer was bothering Doyle.

"Are you going back to them?" Angel asked finally.

"I don't really have a choice," the lawyer replied. "The contract had a soul clause."

Angel scoffed. "I know you aren't stupid enough to have signed it. And I'm fairly sure you know a loophole out of the contract. So why go back? They're going to kill you some day."

"I don't have anything else," Lindsey admitted softly. "They're all I have, all I know."

The vampire sighed and looked away from the younger man before glancing back. "I'd offer you a place to stay-"

"But your husband would probably kill me in my sleep and your psychotic childe would help," laughed Lindsey ruefully.

"Yeah," Angel smiled.

"I'll be all right, Angel," the young lawyer promised.

"Not if you stay with Wolfram and Hart," Angel shook his head. "But I can't force you."

"We're here!" Doyle yelled back from the front of their little parade.

Xander turned his attention away from the drama happening behind him to the plain door they were approaching. Doyle pulled it open and they all filed in, stopping in shock at the Polgara demon singing horribly on a small stage.

"Welcome to Caritas," a bright green demon greeted them.

"A karaoke bar," Angel whimpered.

34 Truthful Shadows

The night was dark, hot and humid, weighing down on him. Spike stalked through the dark alleys, skirting the sprawled and curled bodies of the homeless, evading the cunning pickpockets and murderous muggers. He had a single intent thought, and nothing was going to sway him from it. He moved through the dark like he was part of it, meshing with the shadows, edging around the pools of light cast by the street lights.

Slipping down another alley, he kept all his senses open, tracking his prey through the night. Suddenly, the shadows deepened, darkened and he had only a second before a warm body collided with his, forcing him into the wall. Spike started to fight back, but a familiar scent teased him and he relaxed into the body pinning him to the wall. Wet heat latched on to his neck, teasing and tasting and Spike let his head fall to the side, encouraging the mouth to do more. Teeth entered the equation and Spike moaned as the sensation aroused him beyond all thought. He let the other turn him and smiled into warm brown eyes. His attacker leaned forward to kiss him and he opened his mouth, letting the warm tongue invade his mouth, letting the other man set the pace of their encounter.

"Xander," Spike whispered as the young man stepped closer, pressing their bodies together in all the right spots. The vampire groaned as his boy rocked forward, their erections pressing and rubbing together with delicious friction. Spike reached out and pulled Xander closer, running his hands beneath the shirt the young man wore, teasing all the skin he could touch. Each of their movements sent tendrils of pleasure through Spike's body and he could feel the need tightening in his stomach, heralding his orgasm. Xander pulled his mouth away and brought his head down to Spike's shoulder, biting into the flesh there. The pain mingled with the pleasure, rocketing the blonde over the edge and he yelled his pleasure into the night.

The warm body sagged against his, hot breath passing across his neck as Xander panted out his own pleasure. Spike wrapped his arms tightly around his boy. This was perfection, utopia. His boy in his arms and both of them sweaty and sated.


Blinking slowly, Spike gradually made his way into awareness. The memories, the sensations of his dream stayed vividly with him, encouraged by the wet, sticky mess centered on his groin. Turning his head, he gazed at the still slumbering Xander curled up next to him, the boy's expression peaceful. In deference to Xander's past, Spike had been taking his seduction of the boy slowly and it was starting to wear on him.

"Soon, my Spikey," Dru whispered, leaning up to peer at him over Xander's sleeping form. "Slow and steady wins the race. The kitten will be yours, body and soul, but be like the stream cutting its way, slow and steady."

Spike stared at her as she lay back down and cuddled into Xander, drifting off to join the young man in sleep. Slow and steady. It may well be his final death, but he would do it.


Xander kept his breathing and heartbeat steady, letting both vampires believe he was still asleep. Listening in to the cryptic words Dru was saying, he wondered just what they were talking about. He wondered if it had anything to do with the way Spike would pull back when their kissing got too heated. The vampire would push Xander away with shaking hands and sit there, panting slightly before pulling Xander back in and holding him, nothing more. Truthfully, it was driving the young man crazy. He knew he wasn't ready for everything, but he did want something more than the sweet kisses Spike would give him. Letting sleep drag him back down, Xander decided to enlist the aid of the two who would get him his vampire. Spike would be unable to stand against the forces of Xander, Dru and Cordy together.

35 Purrfect Silence

Spike carefully brought blade and whetstone together, the soft sound filling the empty lobby. Everyone had gone off to do something, leaving the blonde, hyperactive vampire by himself and very bored. Xander had grabbed Cordelia and Dru, dragging them upstairs. Wes was researching something in the library, while Doyle and Angel were playing newlyweds in their room. Utterly bored, Spike had decided to pass the time sharpening the multitude of knives, swords and axes they had in the building.

Submersed in his task, he didn't notice the faint shimmering that formed a few feet away. The slowly forming shape finally caught his attention and he placed the whetstone to the side, gripping the newly sharpened sword in one hand. Finally the shimmering shape solidified into the tall form of a familiar green-hued man.

"Robin," Spike said in greeting, offering his empty hand to the other man.

"William," Robin smiled, grasping the vampire's hand in a warrior's clasp. "It is good to see you again."

"So, are you here for business or pleasure?" Spike asked bluntly.

Sighing, Robin sat down on one of the couches. "Unfortunately, I'm here on business," he looked intently at the blonde. "And you're not going to like it."

Spike sat back down and placed the sword on the table, giving his visitor his undivided attention. "What's going on?"

"Some of the Elders have learned of plots to take young Alexander," Robin began. "One of the groups is Wolfram and Hart, who had the boy before."

"We can protect him," said Spike. "They'll never get their hands on him."

"True, if they were planning a physical attempt you could keep him safe, but they're not," the emissary from the Elders pointed out. "They plan on using the legal system to get him."

"We've got proof of what he went through. No judge would give him back to them," countered Spike.

"No human judge," Robin nodded. "But they plan on using the Demonic Courts."

"Bloody hell," Spike whispered, slumping down in his seat. "Do you know what case they'll try to make?"

"One of my sources informed me that Wolfram and Hart are using the fact that Alexander's parents signed custody of him over to the hospital."

"Which they own, which gives them custody of Xander," Spike growled. "And he wasn't formally released so they can still claim custody." Snarling, he picked up the sword on the table and hurled it across the lobby, listening with satisfaction as in landed point first in the far wall. "What do we do?"

"There is a way to protect him," the green-hued man said softly.


"You must mark and claim him."


Hella arched into the hand petting her, purring softly as she listened to half of the conversation happening above her.

"What was so urgent you had to drag us up here?" the loud, dark one asked. There was a moment of almost silence, the scratch of pen on paper the only sound. "More what?"

Rolling over, Hella peered up at her human charge through narrowed eyes, watching the rushing of blood that rolled over his face. He paused to write something else, handing the paper over.

"Oh," the loud one said, her face turning a bit red as well. "Do you want to go all the way?"

Hella's human shrugged, looking down as he pet her. The look on his face was so flustered that the hellcat wished she could laugh.

"Have you tried to go further?"

The boy nodded and wrote something quickly.

"So he's being noble," the loud one sighed.

"Silly Spikey," the pretty, cold one giggled. "He doesn't see his kitten likes to be pet."

The boy blushed again, looking at the two females intently, silently asking their advice.

"It's okay, Kitten," the pretty one crooned. "The stars are spinning faster now. Time is drawing to a close and the pace must be picked up."

The loud one shot a searching look at the other female, opening her mouth to ask a question before shaking her head. She turned back to Hella's boy. "Maybe you should just talk to him," she suggested. "Tell him you want more."

The boy shook his head, then nodded, then sighed and cuddled Hella closer. He looked over at the pretty one who only smiled, humming softly to herself. Sighing again, he pushed to his feet, still carefully cradling Hella and leaned over to kiss both human females on the cheek before quietly leaving the room.

"Spike is such an idiot," Hella heard the loud one say as they left.

The hellcat snuggled into her human's chest, silently laughing at the silly humans that lived in her castle.


"Are you bloody insane?!" Spike growled, launching to his feet. "With everything the boy has been through, you want me to mark and claim him? Marking I can do, but claiming as well?"

"If it was anyone else pushing this, I'd say to just mark him, that alone would keep him safe," Robin said soothingly. "But they know how to work around a mark. It won't be enough."

"He's not ready!"

"Have you asked?" Robin countered. "If you can't suspend disbelief in my words, talk to the boy and ask him. You might be surprised."

"I don't want to hurt him," Spike said, flopping back down on the couch.

"I'm not asking you to hurt him," Robin said softly. "I'm asking you to protect him in a way that can't be broken, not even by time or death. I'm asking you to keep him safe forever." He stood and stared down at the blonde for a moment. "You don't have a long time to think about this, William. A few days at the most."

"You'll be back?"

"Yes," smiled Robin. "Farewell for now."

Spike watched as the green-tinged man shimmered out of view. He sat, thinking about the situation and what a claiming entailed. He didn't want to hurt his boy, but if Robin was correct, then a claiming was the only way to proceed. Lost in thought, Spike jumped as a warm body leaped on the couch. He looked up into the smiling brown eyes of his boy and opened his arms, letting the young man cuddle into his side. The warmth and trust made him realize that he would do anything to keep his precious boy safe.

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