Kick and Slide

Yin Again

"Why do I have to do the groveling part?" Xander asked, his shoulders slumping in defeat. "I just got the Fangless One out of my home - from where he absconded with my personal property - and now I have to go ask him for a favor? My life blows."

"Absconded?" Buffy said wryly.

"What? I can't have a vocabulary?" Xander replied, not looking up.

"Well, not usually. But, then, strange things have been afoot lately." She turned to the Watcher. "Giles, give Xander the $300. Xander, take the money and the blood and go suck up to Spike. Take one for the team!"

He accepted the money and the small cooler full of blood packets. "I so don't like the sound of that." He complained as he shuffled dejectedly through the door.

Buffy turned back to Giles. "He's right, you know - his life does blow."

Xander pounded on the door of the crypt. Please, please be home, he thought. In retrospect, walking through a cemetery in Sunnydale after dark with a cooler full of blood and a wad of cash was causing his higher brain to send urgent telegrams to his more primitive lizard brain. Mr. Smarty was telling Mr. Instinct "You're stupid" and "Run, moron!" Mr. Instinct was jangling in response.

"And what have we here?" Xander heard the voice, and caught the slight lisp that almost always signified a vampire in game face. They never seemed to get the knack for suppressing it until they'd been around for fifty years or so. "I don't remember ordering takeout." The voice was getting closer, and Xander fought the urge to turn around as he slid a stake from his waistband.

In rapid succession, the vampire lunged, the crypt door opened, and Spike said, "Duck," in a mild tone of voice. Xander ducked, and then came back to his feet with a gentle fall of dust settling on his shoulders. He pushed past Spike and entered the crypt.

"You're welcome and come in," Spike said as the irritated boy shouldered past him. Xander stalked over to the stone sarcophagus in the center of the dim room and placed the cooler on top of it. He turned back to Spike, who had shut the door and was closing the distance between them. When Spike was two feet away, Xander reached out and took his hand.

"This is the money Giles owes you," he said, pressing the wad of bills into Spike's hand. He pointed to the cooler. "That is a bribe. I was supposed to come over here and make nice with you and try to convince you to give the good guys a hand and whatever, but I'm just not in the mood. Buffy and Giles need your help. There's money and blood in it for you. You interested?" He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the unyielding stone.

Spike thumbed through the money and shoved the bills into the pocket of his tight, black jeans. He gestured toward the cooler. "That human?" he asked. Xander nodded. Spike walked forward and brushed against Xander as he opened the cooler and pulled out a packet. Their shoulders brushed again as he pulled back and walked over to the corner of the room.

He had a pretty decent kitchen set up, with a small refrigerator and a microwave plugged into an extension cord that trailed down from the ceiling. He ripped the blood packet open with his teeth and poured the contents into a flowered mug that Xander recognized as coming from his mother's kitchen. Spike placed it in the microwave and watched it spin until the timer beeped. He removed the warmed mug and turned back to Xander, his game face slipping effortlessly into place before he drank deeply.

"So, what do Spiffy and Captain Fyarl need me for?" Spike asked, and Xander noted that he spoke normally through his fangs.

"Word is there's some sort of new Big Bad sniffing around; they want you to scope it out." Xander's voice was flat and calm, but Spike could hear that his heartbeat was still elevated slightly, and he still smelled faintly of fear. He finished his blood and put the mug down. He carefully licked the last drops from his fangs before allowing his game face to shimmer slowly away. He walked over to the sarcophagus and leaned next to Xander, mimicking his posture.

"Okay," he said, and laughed out loud at the incredulous look on Xander's face.

Two days later, Giles, Buffy, Willow, Xander and Spike all sat around Giles' living room. Everyone was looking intently at Spike, who was smiling smugly as he held a mug of warmed blood between his hands. He waited until the last second before Buffy was ready to explode before speaking.

"OK," Spike said, shifting the mug between his hands to warm them. "What we've got is something a little different. This bloke, name of Terrance, is trying to organize vampires across California. Tryin' to be an undead Samuel Gompers, if you will." Spike looked from face to face, seeing the expected looks of understanding on Giles and Willow's faces and the expected blank looks on Buffy and Xander's. "So, Red's the only one taking history this semester?" he joked, earning a scowl from the Slayer and rolled eyes from the boy.

"Great," Xander said. "So we should be on the lookout for picket lines and groups of vamps singing 'Look for the Union Teethmarks'? Fan-fucking-tastic. I hate this town."

"That seems out of character for a vampire," Giles said, removing his glasses and polishing them with his handkerchief.

"Yeah," Buffy added. "I didn't think organization was exactly a vamp strong suit."

Spike barked a short laugh, and then tipped his mug to drink the rest of the blood, staying human-faced all the while. "Not all of us are as impatient as me, Slayer. Takes all kinds - there are some real strategists out there. Angelus always though of himself as a latter-day Sun Tzu, with all his plans and complicated ideas. Ponce."

"'The Art of Bloodwar'?" Xander asked, smirking at the surprised expressions on both Spike and Giles' faces.

"OK, so how do we find out what's going on?" Buffy asked impatiently.

Spike thumped his mug down on the coffee table and showed his own smug grin. "Got a meeting with him tomorrow night," he said.

"I'm going with you," Buffy said.

"You most certainly are not," Spike replied. "He'd know you in a second. I'm going alone."

"You most certainly are not," Buffy parroted. "No way do I trust you alone - you'd sell us out in a heartbeat."

Spike theatrically laid a hand to his chest. "You wound me with your lack of faith," he drawled. She sniffed at him and turned up her nose.

"Spike's right," Giles intoned. "And Buffy's right, too. She can't go, and we can't trust you. Will this Terrance person allow you to bring someone with you? I assume he thinks you're still a Master Vampire?"

Spike leapt to his feet and closed in on Giles threateningly, demon to the fore. "I AM a Master Vampire, Watcher," he hissed. "Don't let a little bit of plastic and wire make you stupid. Or dead."

Giles held up a placating hand, looking a little shaken. "My apologies, Spike, I meant no insult. My point was, as a Master, you are expected to have an entourage for this sort of meeting, yes? Minions, lieutenants?"

Spike shook off his game face and backed up a couple of steps. "Terrance isn't dumb; he specified no minions, no lieutenants - only human thralls or pets."

"Pets?" Buffy said.

Giles looked from Spike to Buffy. He saw the vampire's mouth open, and interrupted. "Yes, well, sometimes vampires keep humans as pets, for - er - feeding and recreation. Terrance probably finds lesser vampires to be, um, destructive and..."

"Minions start too many fights, and smart lieutenants are always looking to move up the ranks. Keeping it to human companions only cuts down on the violence. Course, most vamps wouldn't care - the bloodier the better - but he's trying to build alliances, not kill his rivals." Spike seemed impressed with Terrance's logic. He nodded toward Xander. "I'll take the boy."

"What?" Buffy, Giles and Willow all spoke at the same time.

"I hate my life," Xander moaned.

"Shut up," Spike said, crossing his arms over his chest. "Slayer'll get recognized, Red's got too much witchy-twitchy power and, no offense, Rupert, but you smell like magic, too. The boy's just a regular human. He'll do. Watcher, give me your AmEx."

Giles threw him a scathing look. "Whatever for?"

"If he's mine, he'll have to be dressed better than that." Spike gestured dismissively to Xander's loud bowling shirt and baggy khakis.

"On behalf of my wardrobe: Hey!" Xander exclaimed.

"Shut up, pet. It'll be fine," Spike said, and Xander was shocked speechless that he actually found the words comforting.

Giles reluctantly opened his wallet and handed Spike his Gold Card. "I'll trust you not to be too extravagant, Spike. You do recall that I'm not currently employed?"

Spike stepped closer to Giles and looked him in the eye. "You'll do fine. Just move a few quid from account number 156977465 at the Bank of Zurich, eh?"

Giles flushed, and then nodded. "Fine. Remind me to never leave you here alone again."

Spike grinned and pocketed the credit card. He snapped his fingers at Xander. "Let's go."

Xander hopped to his feet automatically, then stopped and glared at Spike, who laughed out loud. "Kidding, pet - but, hey - nice reflexes. You're going to be so good at this." His voice was a low purr. Xander merely shook his head and followed Spike out the door.

Spike started walking toward the commercial district, and Xander loped to catch up. "So, Giles has a Swiss bank account, huh?" he asked.

"Bugger's rich," Spike said. "Whole family's loaded. Repressed, dusty old English money."

"Figures," Xander said, shoving his hands into his pockets. "The antiques and the Hugo Boss suit are dead giveaways."

Spike stopped suddenly and whirled around. "I knew you'd be good for this. Why do you let them treat you like you're dumb?"

"Easier," Xander replied.

"Well, you're going to need those powers of observation and your acting abilities to get through this meeting without getting us killed." His voice was harsh, and he could see Xander wilt a little under the force of it. "Come now, pet," he said more softly, "I wouldn't have picked you if I didn't think you could do it. But you are going to have to trust me."

Xander looked into Spike's eyes and swallowed hard. "I'll try," he said.

Spike nodded, then turned and hailed a passing cab.

An hour later Spike was behind the wheel of a sleek, black sedan, and Xander was slumped in the passenger seat. Neither spoke until they were parked in the mall parking lot.

Spike turned to face Xander. "OK, here's the plan. We've got to get some gear, so we look the part. Then, we'll go get something to eat, and I'll give you a rundown on what you need to know. Then, we need to spend some time getting you used to what you'll have to do during the meeting. That work for you?"

Xander smiled. "Sure. How awful is this going to be?"

Spike considered the question for a moment. "It'll be a damn sight less awful if you can just trust me on a few things." He sighed, and then began speaking in a measured cadence. "The main thing you need to know is that a Master Vampire's human pet is his property - completely. Playing your part will mean doing exactly what I say, even if you don't know why. You can't question me, you can't disobey me, you can't hesitate." His voice dropped further. "If you were really my pet, you'd belong to me body and soul. You would live at my convenience; you would live to serve me. And not because you were a prisoner, but because you wanted to. The submission would be total. Think you can fake that?"

Xander swallowed audibly. "I...I think I can. I'll try."

"Good. Now, let's go spend the Watcher's money." Spike grinned and got out of the car. Xander followed more slowly, turning Spike's words over in his head. He jumped when his door opened and a hand fell on his shoulder.

"Come on, then," Spike said, and set off for the mall entrance, duster flapping in his wake. By the time Xander caught up, Spike was turning into the doorway of a store. Loud music poured out, and the guy standing at the counter had so many piercings his face looked perforated.

"Hold out your arms," Spike instructed, and Xander complied. Spike started stacking clothes on his outstretched arms as Xander followed him deeper into the store.

When they reached the back, Spike gestured imperiously to one of the employees, a girl with blue hair. She walked toward them languidly.

"Dressing room," Spike barked.

She walked over to a row of doors and opened one with a key that dangled from a chain around her wrist. Spike gestured for Xander to go in. Once inside, Xander dropped the pile of clothes onto the chair and turned back to Spike.

"Try on the black pants and the dark grey shirt first," he said, and then propped himself up against the wall. Xander closed the door to the dressing room and began to strip.

"Uh, Spike? These pants are too small," he complained.

"Try them anyway," Spike said patiently, and he could hear Xander struggling into the tight trousers. A moment later the door opened. Spike waited, but Xander did not exit the dressing room. Finally, he turned to see what the problem was.

Starting at Xander's feet, the vampire let his gaze do a slow crawl up the boy's body. Long, slim, bare feet led up to the legs of the trousers. They were midnight black, and made like Xander's favorite cargo pants - except for the fact that they were cut skin-tight. The black cotton lovingly hugged the curves of Xander's calves, knees and thighs, and Spike couldn't help but notice the way they emphasized the large muscles of his legs and clung to his hips and waist.

Above the pants, Xander wore a charcoal gray, ribbed silk tee-shirt with short sleeves and a v-neck that exposed flashes of his collarbones. The shirt too, was skin-tight, showing off every dip and ridge of abdomen, chest and arms. Above the neck of the shirt, Xander's face was flaming.

"I cannot go out in public in these clothes, Spike," he gritted out. "This is obscene."

"Yeah," Spike breathed. "That's one word for it." He swallowed hard and tore his eyes away from Xander's body. "You know, for a pet, this look is rather conservative. I could do you up like a rentboy..."

Xander held up his hands in a warding-off gesture. "No, no - this is fine. I don't really need to breathe - much. Honest."

"Get your regular stuff back on, then. What's your shoe size?" Spike was turning to walk off.

"Thirteen," Xander replied, and Spike stopped in his tracks.

He leered over his shoulder. "Well, well, pet," he drawled. "You know what they say about blokes with big feet?" Before Xander could answer, he answered his own question, "Big boots." With that, he stalked toward the opposite side of the store.

When Xander met Spike at the counter, he saw that a pair of supple black motorcycle boots had been chosen for him and Spike was busily tossing bits of jewelry onto the counter. There were also two pairs of black jeans and two black silk tee-shirts in the pile, and Xander smothered a grin, knowing that Spike couldn't help screwing Giles over just a little.

The blue-haired girl read off the appalling total, and Spike signed "R. Giles" perfectly and without hesitation. Xander took the bags and waved Spike off when he offered to take half.

"So," Xander gestured with his fork as he sat across the table from Spike. "Why would a vamp want a human pet?"

Spike ate a bite of his steak and swallowed a sip of red wine before answering. "Well, there are lots of reasons - blood on tap, you lot can get around in the day..."

Xander eyed him gravely. "I do get that it's a sex thing, Spike."

"That, too," Spike said.

"Aren't humans a little - fragile - for the undead boot-knockin'?"

"Sometimes, but you make up for it by being warm," Spike said, and Xander certainly did feel warm all of a sudden. "Besides, a fully claimed pet will heal better than a regular human, so it isn't that much of a problem."

"C-claimed?" Xander asked, and his voice only squeaked a little. "What kind of claim?"

"The usual - blood, sex, ritual sort of thing." Spike sipped his wine and smiled at Xander over the rim of the glass.

"How would other vamps know about the claim?"

"They'd smell it, see the mark, if it was in a visible place," Spike said.

"And how are you planning to explain my not-at-all-claimed-in-any-way status to Terrance, then?" Xander demanded.

Spike grinned again. "We'll just say you're a recent acquisition. That'll also be a good cover if you screw up."

Xander looked down at the table. "Why'd you pick me if you think I'm gonna screw it up?" he asked quietly.

Spike gazed across the table at the dejected boy and actually felt a little bit like crap. "Look at me, Xander," he said quietly. When Xander raised his eyes, he continued. "All I meant was that you're sort of, um, outspoken. If you forget and mouth off to me in front of Terrance, you being new will be a handy explanation for why I don't kill you on the spot, OK?"

Spike waited until Xander nodded. "Look, pet - I know this isn't easy, but I didn't pick you just to see if I could make you miserable, you know. That's fun and all, but I really do think you have the best chance of pulling this off."

"What's in it for you?" Xander asked.

"Blood, money, maybe some violence - you know, all the good things in life," Spike replied with a laugh. "Do you have any other questions?"

"Yeah, I do," Xander replied. "Have you ever had a pet before?"

"Me, no," Spike said. "Angelus was fond of them for a time, and Dru had a few. Dru's never lived long - she'd forget about them or accidentally kill 'em or eat 'em." The vampire shook his head fondly. "Flighty bird, that one."

Xander shuddered delicately at the casual cruelty Spike was invoking, and then got a grip. Vampire, he reminded himself.

"Let's go," Spike said, getting up from the table, tossing the signed check next to his plate. "We've got some lessons to do before tomorrow, pet."

Xander gathered the shopping bags and followed dutifully.

"Why are we here?" Xander asked, as Spike parked the car in front of Sunnydale's nicest hotel.

"Basement's just not suitable, and besides, Watcher's paying. What? Demon girl expecting you?"

"Her name is Anya, and we're 'taking a break' for reasons unbeknownst to me." The two men shared an eye-roll in commiseration over the foibles of women.

"It'll be fine - don't you want dessert from Room Service?" Spike's tone was light and playful.

"Cheesecake?" Xander asked, pretending to wipe drool from his chin.

"Nothing's too good for my pet," Spike assured him as they entered the lobby.

Spike quickly checked in as "Mr. Giles", and a bellman relieved Xander of the shopping bags and led the way to a nicely appointed suite.

Xander was sprawled out on the couch, and Spike was seated in a wing chair, pulling Xander's new clothes out of the bags and snapping the tags off as he piled them neatly on the coffee table. Once he was finished, he leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees, looking into Xander's face.

"OK, I'm going to give you the crash course, but it's pretty much what I told you at dinner. A human pet belongs to his master; he lives for his master. What you're going to have to pull off is convincing Terrance and anyone else at the meeting that you love me."

Xander snorted and struggled to a more upright position. Spike held his hand out to stop any forthcoming comment.

"Shut up," he said, gently. "It isn't going to work if you act like a captive; that's not how it is. The master/pet relationship is totally consensual. The pet submits to his master by choice. I know you're by far the best actor of the bunch, Xander. You can do this. Besides, no one will know - your friends won't see you, and I'm not going to tell them, OK?"

Xander relaxed a little. "OK. So, tell me what I have to do."

Spike smiled. "Nope, I'm going to show you. Come here and sit at my feet."

Xander's eyes widened and his jaw set in a stubborn grimace.

"Now, that's what I'm talking about, pet - that's the shit that's going to get us found out." Spike ran an exasperated hand through his hair. "If I tell you to do something, you do it, and with good grace." Taking a deep breath, he smiled pleasantly at Xander again. "Now, come here and sit at my feet."

Xander could feel his face flushing, but he tried to keep his expression bland as he walked over to Spike and sank down into a cross-legged posture at his feet. Spike leaned back in his chair and spread his legs.

"Here," he said, patting the inside of one thigh. He sighed at Xander's incredulous look. "Christ," he swore, looking up at the ceiling. "There's gotta be a better way. Look, Anya's your girlfriend, right?" Xander waggled his hand in a "maybe; maybe not" gesture and shrugged. "Look, what you have to do is think of me the way you'd think of her and act accordingly. You need to treat me the same way you'd treat her - like you actually like me. That means contact, Xander."

Xander shifted until he was sitting between Spike's legs, with his back to him. He pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them. He jumped when Spike scooted forward a little and hemmed him in with legs that seemed entirely too long for a not-tall guy.

"That's good, pet," Spike soothed. "Now, put your arm up here." Xander allowed one of his arms to be lifted and draped over Spike's thigh. "Let your knees fall to one side and lean back on me a little." Xander did, and was surprised to find the posture comfortable, sitting curled up between Spike's legs. He shifted around a bit, and then dropped his head to rest on his arm.

"Good," Spike said. "This will work for the meeting; you can sit like this for a couple of hours without getting too stiff." He reached down and ran his fingers lightly along Xander's shoulder. Xander jumped and lifted his head to look at Spike, alarmed. "It's OK, Xan. It will be expected for me to touch you - the assumption will be that I've touched you quite a lot." He let his hand slide up Xander's warm neck and start carding gently through his sable hair. It was thick and silky, and it felt good sliding over his hand.

"Now, when we get there, you'll walk a step or so behind me, and you'll keep your eyes down. As soon as we get inside, you'll kneel at my side. I will tell you exactly what to do, so assume nothing. When we go into the room where the meeting will be, I'll tell you to stand and follow me and I'll tell you to come sit with me like this. During the meeting, all you have to do is sit quietly - don't squirm, don't speak, don't look around. You think you can do that?"

"Uh huh," Xander replied, sleepily.

Spike stopped petting his hair and pulled it slightly. "It's 'yes, Master' or 'yes, Spike', pet."

"Yes, Spike," Xander said.

"Good boy. Now, let's have a little test. I'm going to call for a bellman to come get your clothes and have them dry-cleaned. When he gets here, you go and let him in and lead him here. Then you sit down like this and stay there, right?"

"Yes, Spike," Xander repeated.

Spike picked up the phone at his elbow and placed a call to the desk. While they waited, he resumed gently stroking Xander's hair. He could hear the boy's heartbeat slowing as he drifted closer to sleep. The knock on the door startled them both. "Get the door," Spike instructed. Xander unfolded himself and walked to the door. He came back trailed by the bellman, who didn't even blink when Xander folded himself up on the floor and relaxed back into position. Spike gave the bellman instructions to have Xander's clothes back before sundown the next day and told him to let himself out.

"You did well," he said. Xander looked up, and Spike could see the exhaustion on his face. "Tired?" he asked.

Xander yawned. "Yeah. You want the bed or the couch?"

Spike hesitated for a moment, and then plunged right in. "Um, Xan - you're going to need to have my scent on you - we should share the bed."

Spike was surprised when Xander merely dropped his head back onto Spike's leg. "Tell me the rest of it, Spike," he demanded softly.

Spike unconsciously placed his hand back into Xander's hair and resumed his rhythmic stroking. "What do you mean?" he asked, using the most innocent tone he could muster up.

"I know there's something you aren't telling me, and I'm assuming it's horrifying, so just tell me so I can get my freak-out over with and get some sleep - I'm whipped," Xander's tone was both resigned and nervous.

"Well, as my pet, it'll be expected that we're...intimate, so you should have my scent all over you, even if you're unclaimed. It's also for your safety - if you carry my scent, no vampires or demons will bother you..." Spike's voice trailed off.

Xander shook his head. Because of his position the motion was really more like rubbing his cheek against Spike's thigh. "Are you telling me I have to have sex with you, Spike? Please don't be telling me that, OK?"

"Well, that would be the easiest way, but I realize that isn't what you signed on for. You are going to have to share a bed with me, and you can't sleep way on the other side - you're going to have to get close."

"OK, a little snuggling with the evil undead isn't the end of the world, I think I can handle some never-to-be-revealed-on-pain-of-death cuddling," Xander said.

"That won't be enough, Xan," Spike said, and his tone was apologetic. "I'll need to scent-mark you."

Xander raised his head and looked Spike in the eye. "You want to piss on me?" he said, and his voice went into a very high register at the end of the sentence.

"I'm not a fucking cat, Xander, though pissing on you actually is a valid method of marking. It's just used for minions and disposable muscle like that. Since I can't bite you, it'll have to be a come-mark." Spike had the good grace to look slightly uncomfortable, and Xander thought that if the vampire dared to grin or leer at him, he would happily smash his face in.

"You want to...that...ON me?" Xander's voice was still hitting soprano notes. "And let it dry," Spike added. Xander slammed his head back down on the his leg. "Well, fuckin' A," he said. "New outfit, get to sit at your feet and worship you, and I get to be spooged on and LET IT DRY. Would it be too much trouble to just have you kill me, Spike? Is that too much to ask?"

"You want to get drunk first?" Spike offered, helpfully.

"God, no," Xander responded. "No telling what would happen then." He used Spike's thigh to lever himself to his feet. He looked down him. "I'm going to go take a shower and bang my head against the wall for a while. When I come back, we're gonna get in that bed, you're gonna mark me, I'm gonna clean up...after...and we're going to cuddle up and go to sleep. Tomorrow, after all of this is over, I'm going to burn this entire experience out of my brain with hydrochloric acid or magic or Drano and we will NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN. Clear?"

"Crystal," Spike said succinctly. Xander turned and stalked to the bathroom without looking back.

"That went well," Spike said to himself, looking at the closed door.

Thirty minutes later, Xander was in the bed wearing only his boxer shorts, with the sheet pulled up to his chin. Spike was in the shower. Xander was petrified. What the hell kind of world was it where the aversion of yet another potential apocalypse hinged on Xander letting a vampire whack off on him? How did these things keep happening to him? Giant preying mantis ladies and Inca mummy girls were one thing, but vampire jizz? And where exactly did closet groping with Cordelia and being molested by Faith fall on the "hot sex with Anya" to "vampire jizz" continuum?

The bathroom door opened, and the light went off, leaving the room illuminated only by the bedside lamp. Spike was wearing his black jeans and nothing else. His hair was damp and tousled, and the top button of the pants was undone. Xander looked down, and decided that looking at Spike's feet was relatively safe. Except for the fact that Spike had really beautiful feet. They were long and thin and ghostly pale. His second toe was longer than the first; Xander remembered reading somewhere that this signified a dominant personality.

The legs of the jeans pooled around Spike's ankles, and the black denim contrasted nicely with the white skin. Xander watched Spike's feet walk slowly over to the bed. He didn't look up when he heard the unmistakable sounds of a button-fly opening and the swish as the material slid down Spike's legs. Xander watched the pretty feet step out of the pants, and then resolutely rolled to the other side of the bed, his back to Spike.

He felt the mattress dip under Spike's weight, and then the light went off. The dark was comforting somehow, and Xander thought that if Spike could just not speak, things might just be okay. Spike reached out and laid a hand on Xander's hip, brushing against the cotton of the boxers.

"Take 'em off," he said.

Xander waited until the hand was withdrawn before complying and dropping the underwear off the side of the bed. Spike placed his hand on Xander's bare hip, and Xander couldn't help sucking in his breath nervously. Spike merely stroked the curve of bone there, making no move to get closer. After a few minutes, Xander relaxed a tiny bit, and Spike let the circle he was tracing with his fingertips widen enough to cover the entire hipbone and dip down slightly over Xander's flank.

All that warm skin was arousing Spike, and he was getting hard. The boy felt lovely - his skin was soft and smooth, the way only young skin felt, like the petals of a rose at the peak of freshness, dewy and slick. Spike flattened his hand and rubbed it up and down so that his thumb brushed Xander's lowest rib on the upstroke and his pinky touched the sparse hairs of his upper thigh on the downstroke.

Spike shifted his body to the center of the bed and pressed his chest lightly to Xander's back. He kept his hips angled away, not wanting the boy to feel the erection that was becoming insistent. Spike could feel the delicious sliding sensation as the hardening of his cock caused his foreskin to begin slipping back from the head with a gentle, maddening pressure.

Xander's back was hot against him, and he let his hand slip over the boy's ribs to stroke his chest, taking care to remain in the safety zone that guaranteed he'd not accidentally brush either Xander's nipples or cock. This gave his fingers free rein over the gentle contours of his upper abdominal muscles and ribcage and down to the indentation of his navel, which he circled with one fingertip before lightly brushing against the hair below. That motion put him in contact with what could only be the head of Xander's erection. Spike was stunned - he hadn't expected Xander to get aroused, and he hadn't expected the boy to be hung like a bear! He drew his hand back up to rest against Xander's solar plexus with his thumb brushing the hollow between pectoral muscles.

"You OK, Xander?" he asked softly, against the boy's neck.

"Yeah," Xander replied, and his voice was husky. "I didn't think it would be like this."

"But it's OK?" Spike said.

"Y-yeah, I think so," Xander said, and Spike could hear the uncertainty in his voice.

"So, you never...thought about doing this with a bloke?"

"I, uh, there was a guy I thought about...sorta like this, except without really knowing, you know, anything. He died." Xander's voice was still husky, and Spike could hear sorrow mixed with the arousal there. He automatically tightened the arm around Xander and hugged him close, forgetting about his hard on for a millisecond. They both gasped as Spike's erection slid against Xander's back and nestled naturally in the cleft of his buttocks. Spike thought about moving away, but decided against it. Instead, he gently kissed the back of Xander's neck and flexed his hips to rub himself against the boy. Xander shuddered.

"It's OK, pet," he whispered. "You feel nice." He punctuated his words with languid strokes of his erection against the soft skin of Xander's ass and back. He could feel his cock dripping; the cool fluid lubricated the sliding motion. He started gently moving his hand down until it hovered just above Xander's hard on. "Can I touch you?" he asked softly.

Xander hesitated, and Spike considered backing off, but then one of Xander's hands closed over his and brought it down his body. Spike let his fingers curl lightly around Xander's cock, sliding sensuously over the hot, velvet skin. His hand was bracketed with heat, and Xander moaned and arched into the contact. Spike began a gentle stroke, letting Xander's hand dictate the strength of his grip and the speed of his motion. Both quickly increased, and Spike lost himself in the give and take, kissing Xander's neck and twisting his wrist to increase the friction.

"Spike," Xander breathed, "Oh, God, Spike - I'm gonna come."

"It's alright, sweet," Spike replied, panting unnecessarily. "Come for me." At his words, Xander stiffened and Spike moved his hand to catch the rush of hot fluid. He pushed himself back from Xander slightly, but threw his leg over the boy to keep him close. He brought his come-covered hand to his own erection and began stroking purposefully. The slick heat of Xander's release alone was almost enough to send him over the edge. A few strokes later and he felt his balls draw up and he canted his hip forward slightly. Spike groaned as he shot all over Xander's back. When he finished, he brought his hand up and rubbed the viscous fluid into the boy's hot skin, then rolled onto his back with a sigh.

Neither man spoke. Spike occasionally reached out and touched Xander's back lightly. When he found it dry, he stood and walked to the bathroom. He cleaned himself up quickly and brought a damp facecloth back to Xander. He gently cleaned Xander's back, and then passed him the cloth so he could take care of his own front. When finished, Xander handed the cloth back, and Spike carried it to the bathroom. When he returned, he crawled back into the bed, pulling an unresisting Xander against him.

"You OK?" he asked, and realized he was starting to sound like a broken record. Xander grunted sleepily and twined his fingers with the hand that was resting on his belly. Spike relaxed and listened to Xander's heartbeat slow until they both fell asleep.

Five, four, three, two, one, Spike thought, and, right on schedule, Xander slammed bolt upright in the bed. He slapped a hand to his forehead and fell back against the pillows. Spike remained propped insouciantly on one elbow, watching the show. Xander's eyes were wide, glassy and fixed on the ceiling. One hand covered his forehead, and the other twitched at his side, his lips seemed to be trying to form words that wouldn't come. Once he finally blinked and relaxed a little, Spike spoke.

"Queer panic or vampire panic?" he inquired.

"Six of one, half dozen of the other," Xander told the ceiling with a sigh. He rubbed at the stubble on his face. "And I never got my cheesecake."

"Cheesecake I can handle. You need anything else?" Spike still hadn't moved, and Xander still hadn't looked away from the ceiling.

"Shower. Perspective. Therapy."

"No shower unless you want to go again, Xan - smell, remember?"

Xander finally looked at Spike, who was relieved to see no real fear or panic in his eyes. "Right, smell. Can I wash my hair?"

"Yeah," Spike said, hauling himself to a sitting position and stretching. "What else do you want to eat with your cheesecake?"

"Whatever," Xander replied, heading toward the bathroom for the bathroom. Spike watched Xander's well-shaped ass until the bathroom door closed, and then collapsed back onto the bed and sniffed deeply. He could smell the remains of their passion from the previous night. He rolled over on his side and laid his head on Xander's pillow.

Spike brought one hand down to his erection and began stroking himself lightly while inhaling Xander's scent. Thoughts of the previous night brought him quickly to the edge, and he stifled a grunt as he climaxed. After a moment's rest, he cleaned himself with the sheet, sending up silent thanks for chambermaids. He reached for the phone and placed their dinner order.

The black sedan was parked outside a nondescript-looking building located on a side street in a medium-sized town thirty miles outside of Sunnydale. Xander was nervous. He'd cleaned up, gotten dressed in his new clothes, bitching that he looked like a "pimp daddy" when Spike had given him a thick neck chain and a fake earring to wear, then pushed his dinner around the plate without eating it. Spike had finally barked at him to eat his cheesecake and settle down, and Xander had subsided and obeyed. "You'll do fine, pet," Spike said. He wanted to reach out and stroke Xander's leg, but the boy was practically vibrating with tension, and Spike was afraid he might crack. "Let's go."

Xander stepped out of the car and walked around to the driver's side, opening the door for Spike and keeping his eyes downcast. He fell in behind the vampire and they made their way to the large, plain door. As soon as Spike stopped walking, Xander fell to his knees and waited. He couldn't stop himself from leaning slightly into the hard length of the vampire's leg. He let his hand fall against the instep of Spike's boot, lightly encircling the slim ankle, and Spike placed a hand on top of his bowed head. A vampire in game face opened the door. "Who is it?" he lisped.

"William the Bloody and pet, you wanker. Where's Terrance?" Spike demanded.

The minion gestured for them to follow him inside. Spike pulled lightly at Xander's hair.

"Come on," he said, and Xander stood and followed.

The minion led them through a dim corridor to a nicely appointed office. A large desk stood in one corner of the room, and a sofa and two wing chairs were situated in front of a roaring fireplace. Xander noticed that there was a cushion on the floor next to each chair and at either end of the sofa. The minion led them to the sitting area, and Spike seated himself in one of the wing chairs. He spread his feet and kicked one of the cushions to rest between them.

"Down," he said softly, and Xander folded himself gracefully into the position they had practiced, pillowing his head on his arm. Spike's hand came to rest in his hair and stroked lightly. The minion asked if they wanted anything, and Spike declined. "Master Terrance will be with you shortly," he said, and slinked out of the room. Spike continued stroking Xander's hair while sitting quietly. Xander marveled at the vampire's stillness. He'd never seen Spike so patient - his leg wasn't bouncing, he wasn't shifting in his seat - he was as still as a statue except for the hand moving in Xander's hair, and he exuded an air of calm watchfulness.

Spike didn't move an inch when the minion led another vampire into the room. Terrance was about six feet tall, thin and lanky, with cropped dark hair and washed-out green eyes. He remained human-faced and looked down at Spike.

Spike deliberately ran his hand through Xander's hair one last time before glancing up. "Terrance," he said shortly.

"Master Spike," Terrance replied, and Xander almost laughed as the two vampires tried to out-blasé each other. They didn't shake hands, and Terrance settled himself at one end of the sofa. He snapped his fingers imperiously and the minion brought him a glass of wine, which he sipped delicately before placing it on a side table. He leaned forward and braced his elbows on his knees, looking curiously at Xander.

"Your pet is quite lovely," he said. "May I?" The lanky vampire lifted a hand toward Xander, who was surprised to hear a low growl begin to reverberate in Spike's chest.

"No," Spike said, pulling Xander closer by his hair. Somewhat unnerved by the display of aggression and possessiveness he allowed himself to be drawn in closer to Spike's body, looping one arm around his waist and letting his cheek come to rest against hard abdominal muscles. He did not dwell on the fleeting thought that he felt safe and protected.

"I see," Terrance said, sitting back and withdrawing his hand. "Since he is obviously unclaimed, I thought..."

"You thought wrong," Spike said.

"Are you considering him as mate or Consort?" Terrance asked, and Spike merely growled in reply.

"Get to the point, Terrance. I have better things to do with my time." Spike looked down at Xander and pressed a knee against the boy's body suggestively.

Xander tried to listen to the conversation that followed, but found himself very distracted. Being held against Spike's body while practically lying in his lap was playing hell with his reactions. He was trying to stay relaxed and breathe evenly, but it was difficult when he could feel an insistent erection against his chest and cool fingers lightly scratching over his scalp. Xander came back to himself when he felt Spike shift his feet and prepare to stand.

"On your feet, pet," Spike said, pushing Xander back by one shoulder. "Let's go. They stood, and Terrance walked them to the door. The vampires nodded to one another, and Spike led Xander to the car. Once inside, Xander slumped down into his seat with a sigh. Spike started the car and drove for several miles, then pulled over at a truck stop, parking away from the building.

"Did you get any of that?" he asked, turning in his seat to face Xander.

"Not a lot," Xander admitted.

"Well, it was mostly just pissing and moaning; pretty much what I expected for an initial meeting. If I'm not mistaken, there will be something bigger coming up. We'll just have to wait and see if Terrance decides I'm worth inviting," Spike said.

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Xander stared out at the night through the windshield and fidgeted slightly.

"What?" Spike asked.

"What what?" Xander said.

"What's on your mind? Spit it out."

"I...did I...was I OK?" Xander kept his attention on the windshield.

"Oscar-caliber, Xan. For a minute there I actually thought you liked me," Spike's tone was light, and he restarted the car.

"I don't you know. Like you," Xander said, smiling faintly.

Spike put the car in gear and pulled back out onto the highway. "I know, pet," he said.

Back at Giles' apartment, Xander halfway listened as Spike gave the details of their meeting with Terrance. It seemed as though he'd really only missed the two vampires posturing and making small talk. Spike explained to the group that Terrance had merely been checking him out and they really shouldn't have expected much from the initial meeting.

They had driven back to Sunnydale in a companionable silence, and then returned to the hotel. Xander had changed into his regular clothes while Spike gathered their belongings. They checked out, returned the car and caught a cab back to Giles', stopping by Xander's house to drop off the shopping bag that held their new clothes.

The meeting was breaking up - the girls both had early classes, so they prepared to leave. Giles walked them out, but gestured for Spike and Xander to stay. The two men shared a questioning glance while the former Watcher was gone. Striding back into the room, Giles stopped at the small cabinet that housed his bar and poured himself a brandy. He raised an eyebrow at Spike, who nodded, so he poured another. Looking apologetically at Xander, he also brought a soda when he returned to the sitting area. They each sipped their drinks, and Giles looked speculatively from one to the other.

"I'm almost positive I don't really want to know," the older man began, removing his glasses and polishing them on his shirttail. "But, how did the two of you manage to convince Terrance to accept Xander's presence?"

Xander looked at the floor, but Spike met Giles' eyes. "Boy played his part well. He can take care of himself, you know."

Xander looked up, surprised. "It wasn't too bad, G-man," he said, grinning. "I just had to pretend that I sort of liked the evil undead here. I made believe I was under Willow's "my will be done" spell."

Giles' face cracked into a wide smile. "You two won't be getting married, I hope?"

Spike and Xander looked at one another with alarm, and then both laughed. "That's one thing you do not have to worry about," Xander assured Giles fervently.

"Well, it seems that you made a good team. We'll just have to see if we get any kind of reaction. Xander, do you want me to drive you home?" Giles asked.

"I'll walk him," Spike offered, climbing to his feet. "I'll be in touch when I hear from Terrance." He pulled Giles' credit card out of his pocket and tossed it to the older man. He then turned and strode through the door without looking back.

Xander turned to follow, and was stopped by a hand on his arm. "You're quite all right, then?" Giles asked.

Xander patted the top of Giles' hand. "I'm good. It was weird, but not any weirder than usual."

When he got outside, Spike was leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette, which he flicked into the bushes.

"Watcher all convinced I didn't damage you?" he asked.

"Don't be pissy - he's just being careful. You kill me and there'll be nobody to go on doughnut runs."

Spike snorted and headed off down the street. Xander followed, catching up to walk alongside. He stopped suddenly and laid a hand on Spike's arm.

"Oh, man - I'm sorry," he said softly.

Spike turned to look into worried brown eyes. "What for?" he asked.

"The killing comment - I forgot about the chip for a second. That was kind of a shitty thing to say. Sort of like talking about booze to a recovering alcoholic or something, huh?"

Spike couldn't help the laugh that bubbled out of him. "Great!" he exclaimed. "I guess that makes me a recovering murderer?"

Xander snickered. "I bet that's a hell of a meeting; 'My name's Spike and I'm a killer'. 'Hi, Spike!'"

They started walking again, silent except for occasional giggles and chuckles, until they arrived at Xander's house. Spike noticed that Xander listened closely before getting too close to the door, then shrugged and led the way inside. Once down in the basement, he took his new clothes out of the waiting shopping bag and handed it to Spike.

Spike was at the top of the stairs when he heard Xander's voice.

"I guess...I'll see you around, Spike," he said, looking up at him.

"See you, pet," Spike replied, and slipped out the door.

t b c?

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