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Chapter 25

“He kept you sane, yeah?” Spike held his lack of breath and hoped for more.

“It was horrible there, Spike. In… in the first week, I was already contemplating ways to… to not be there any more. And it had to be final so I wouldn’t be a minion or a werewolf or… or something worse.”

“A million ways to die,” Spike said.

“A million and twelve. But then he… I still don’t know if  he bought me or adopted me or what. He never said.”

“Eventually he claimed you, though, that’s something powerful.” He took note of Xander’s startled look. “I noticed the scar, okay? I couldn’t not’ve.”

“You could not look at my crotch.” Xander said lightly, unthinking covering the bite scar high on his left leg near the base of his penis.

“Not with you parading it around like you do.”

Xander’s humor evaporated. “Does… does it bother you? I can wear clothes..”

Spike sighed. “Xander. I want you to be comfortable around me. Understand? You, naked, does not make me uncomfortable. And you’re changing the subject. Anthony claimed you. You were physical. It. Doesn’t. Bother. Me.”

“Don’t vampires claim people they aren’t physical with?”

“Rarely, mate. Not much of a point.”

“Oh.” Xander stared out the window. “Yeah,” he finally said softly. “We were lovers.” He studied Spike’s profile until the vampire glanced over at him


“No poof jokes?”

Spike shook his head. “I already told you, things like that don’t matter to me.”

“Good. Can we head home?”

“Sure thing.” They traveled in silence as Xander once again stared out the window.


“Xander,” Anthony murmured. “I wish to touch you, and for you to touch me. I know you’ve hired male as well as female pleasers.”

Xander drew back and considered the dark skinned vampire. “I don’t know, Anthony. I…” he looked away, toying with his book that had fallen aside, forgotten as soon as Anthony pulled him in for a kiss. “It’s already strange that we kiss. I mean, We have to be all business outside of this room and…”

“Xander, can you deny that you desire more? I can see and feel your body desires me. Do you not in your mind as well?”

“No. I can’t deny it.”

“Then let us share what we can. My care protects you from others taking what they wish of you, but by the same coin, it entitles me to claim it if I wish.”

Xander glared at him. “You’d do that, wouldn’t you?” He let out a frustrated huff and punched a pillow. “You lull me into forgetting what a soulless thing you are, then when your coercion doesn’t work, you‘ll just take it!”

Anthony stood and moved away from Xander. He stared at the lone painting of a sunlit seascape that hung on the cave’s walls. Xander recognized this as a calming habit the vampire had. It had been months since he’d done it in relation to anything Xander had said. After a while Anthony shook his head. “No, Xander. I do not wish to take from you. I only want to share what few pleasures we can have in this cursed place. My sire came to me when I was human. He seduced me. First my mind, then my body. I had had lovers before.”

“The twins?” Xander asked. He had wondered about the true relationship between the landowner’s sons and their servant.

“Yes. It was the true reason I was separated from them. The landowner wanted his sons to marry and bear him grandchildren. So it was easy for my sire to lure me away. His touch was nothing like that of a human. He knew just how to touch, to please.”

“I know vampires are good at reading people,” Xander said, more because he felt he should contribute.

“We are.” Anthony turned from the painting and Xander saw a rare slip in his carefully composed mask. “When we touch, I can taste your desire. I can smell your arousal. It was not my intention to…what word did you use, coerce you? I thought simple kissing would be enough, but I want more.” Anthony hung his head. “If you refuse me, you must stay with me for less time of a night. My demon wants more. It…is peaceful with you around, Xander, and I thank you for that. But after sampling your kisses…”

Xander got up and stood before Anthony. “I want more, too, but I am afraid.”

Anthony brought his head up sharply. “After a year, you fear me still?”

“I never stopped fearing Spike and Angel. Even after soul and chip. I know too well the nature of the beast, but that is not what I meant.”

“Then what?”

“What if I want more?”

“I will do for you what you want. I can teach you how it is done if you do not know.”

Xander barked a dry laugh. “I now how to fuck. What if I want… more?” Xander laid his hand on Anthony’s still chest.

The vampire tilted his head to one side, giving Xander a twist of mental vertigo as he recalled another so fond of that gesture. “I can make no promises, Xander. I can declare no loyalties for I have nothing that is my own. I respect you and as much as I can in this hell hole I will protect you as my own. I can do no more.”

“Then that will have to be good enough for me.” Xander cupped Anthony’s narrow face in his hands and kissed him soundly. “I will take what crumbs the world lets fall onto my plate.”


“He claimed me to protect me,” Xander said suddenly, pulling Spike from his own woolgathering.

“Strong vamp like that, he’d want to keep others off what was his.”

Xander sighed. “There is no way to keep Warriors from taking what they want, so sex amongst them was not forbidden. Love was. When they fucked it was rough and grab and want and… animal. We... I wanted more. We hid it as best we could. I basically belonged to him, so it didn’t cause a stir when I slept in his room now and then. We became as close as two could be under the circumstances. Of course, there were always those after what they couldn’t have, and those who have to mess up what you find good.”

“So he marked you so if anyone touched you, he’d be justified in killing them.”

“Yeah. That’s all it was.”

“For him.”

“Pretty much.”

“I’m sorry, Xan.” Spike could hear the disappointment in the man's voice. He knew Xander was one to love strongly and fully.

“No, it was good. When we trained, I fought and spit and did my damnedest to kill him. When we were alone… It was nice.”


“You want to what?” They had been getting more and more intimate in the past two months. It was Xander who had not wanted to cross the line of penetration.

Anthony lay with his head on Xander’s leg, studying his now-wilting hard on. “Mark you with a claiming scar.”

“What’s that? You want to thrall me into some kind of puppet and make me eat bugs?”

“Why would I make you want to eat bugs, Xander? I know you prefer peanut butter.”

Xander sighed and sat up, pulling his leg from under Anthony. “I don’t want to be your snack bag or sex slave.”

Anthony chuckled and sat up. “What kinds of stories have these Watchers of yours been telling you?”

“Well, not so much the Watchers as Dracula. And Spike.”

“Dracula plays mind games will all he meets, and I gather Spike loved to tell his own stories.”

Xander nodded. “He told plenty of good ones.”

“And most had to do with making you respect or fear him.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Xander, a claim scar is nothing more than a physical marking that warns others that you belong to another.”

“Couldn’t I just have a collar with your name on a tag or something?”

“As adorable as that image is, it would not have the same impact. If my mark were upon you, no other vampire, and precious few demons will take any liberties with you.”


“Meddling with you would be the same as meddling with me. No one could fault me for killing any who touched you.”

“You would do that anyway, wouldn’t you?” Xander asked, unsure.

“Yes. All here know that. But I suspect they will soon send you to other arenas and our relationship is not so well known.”

“But you can’t leave here. How does that help?”

“I can order vengeance to be carried out in my name.”

“Oh.” Xander thought it over. “Where? My neck?”

“It doesn’t matter. I was thinking where my sire placed mine. Where his is.” Anthony spread his legs to show the lighter twist of scar high on his left thigh, near the base of his cock.

“Oh. That’s the style?” Xander joked.

Anthony shrugged. “Call it tradition, if you will, along the DeAmeron line.”

“Will this give me vampire speed or better healing?”

“What on earth have you been reading? Is this from your comic books?”

Xander shrugged. “Maybe. I just want to know what I’d be getting into.”

“I would bite you. It will scar. That is it. You do not have to drink any of my blood if you don’t want to.”

“Oh. Well. If that’s all. I already have a collection of scars. One in just that place might add to the ruggedness of my appearance. But I would expect flowers on our anniversary, mister.”

Anthony smiled a little. “There is one more benefit. I could keep you here, with me, all night whenever I wished and no one could cry foul.”

Xander swallowed. “Honestly?”

“You would then be marked as more than my toy or my pet fighter. Symbolically, you would be a part of me. I do not make this offer lightly, Xander. You may think it over if you want.”

Xander stood and went to the door. “I’ll tell you tomorrow, Anthony. Okay? It’s a lot to think over and can’t be taken back, right?” He pulled the cord that summoned a guard. Anthony studied the pattern on a pillow. “Wait. What if… what if you get killed?”

“All that is mine will go to you, such that it is, and you will be able to find your own fighter if you wish.”

“Won’t happen. I’m not big on the biting thing. What if I get killed?”

“Then I will be very sad.”


They remained silent as Spike drove up the long driveway and parked in the dark garage. He could smell the arousal and the underlying sadness pouring off Xander.

Xander tossed his sunglasses on the dashboard and rubbed his face.

“Do you want to go spar? Let off some steam?” Spike asked.

“No, Spike. I’ll be fine.”

Spike laid a hand on Xander’s shoulder. “Look. I can see you’re shaken up…”

Xander shook his head. “I’m fine. I… just some memories got stirred up I didn’t expect.”

“I’m sorry I asked about him, mate. Curiosity got the better of me.”

“It’s okay. I… I need to face it all. I need to dig it up and let it air out.” Xander scrubbed his face again and came up with a too bright smile. “I wonder what’s for dinner.”

Spike didn’t believe his cheer for a minute, but had to respect his wishes. “It’ll be good, I’m certain. Let’s get your bags from the back and go in.” Spike didn’t miss the flush on Xander’s cheeks at the mention of the bags. “What’s wrong?”

“I was shopping and the girls will want to know what I got,” Xander sighed.

Spike snorted dismissively. “It’s none of their business what candy you want to squirrel away in your room. Look, I’ll carry them up and then join you inside. They don’t dare question me.”

“I…” Xander didn’t want Spike knowing he’d bought sex toys for himself.

“Xander. I don’t care one bit what you bought. I won’t go through them, okay?”

“Yeah. That... that would best.” Xander slumped.

“You sure you’re ready to face the crowd? We can eat out."

“No. I want to see them.”

“Okay. You come in when you’re ready.” Spike opened the trunk, scooped up both bags, noting with a smile that Xander had tied the handles closed, and took off through the door to the tunnel.

Xander stared after him for a few minutes, not seeing the closed door. “Anthony left things unsaid until it was too late. I hope you don’t do that, too.”  Xander closed up the car and washed his face in the utility sink before heading in.

On to Chapter 26

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