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Somehow, Xander wound up curled against his chest. Spike held him quietly as the man clutched at his shirt, pulling him close without realizing it. Unseen above Xander, he closed his eyes and felt sorrow for the vampire who had cared for Xander and who he would never meet. He wanted to know more, but didn’t want Xander to rabbit and go back to his mope. Spike couldn’t help but think about Angel.
One rare night after the fall of Wolfram & Hart, he and Angel had gotten drunk together. His Sire had talked about the two deaths of Darla; the one he’d caused, and the one he’d witnessed. The great brooding stone face had cracked and he’d actually allowed Spike to hold him as he cried. Of course, the next morning Angel was aloof to him like it had never happened. Typical.
“Spike?” Xander interrupted his thoughts.
“Are we cuddling?”
“Let’s see. We’re in bed, under the covers, and my arms are very much around you. Yep. It’s a cuddle.”
“Oh.” Spike sat still wanting to see how Xander would react. He felt Xander tense, relax, let go of his shirt, and lay his hand flat on Spike’s chest. “The way I see it,” Xander said quietly, “I have two ways of reacting to this. I can shove you away and pick a fight or I can stay here where I feel safe and risk you mocking me for being a poofy sissy.”
“So which is it going to be?”
“I’m staying here.”
“Poof. Sissy,” Spike said. Then, after a pause added, “wanker.”
“Hey!” Xander said, getting up, and sitting back on his heels. “What do you know?” Spike opened his smirking mouth to answer but Xander interrupted. “It’s all supposition and you can’t prove a thing … not that anyone’s asking!”
Spike took advantage of this opportunity to distract Xander. He stretched, putting one arm behind his head and running the other across his chest and down to rest on his belly as he spoke. It was a move so like unsouled Spike teasing Buffy that Xander had to blink. “I’ve got a video tape of all the best bits of ‘Fear Factor,’” Spike said.
Xander blinked again, totally thrown off balance by Spike’s actions, his mind’s reactions to those actions, and Spike’s nonsequitur remark. “Huh? I, uh, thought you hated reality TV.”
“Most of it. But this show; it’s got almost-naked pretty people frightened out of their wits, crying, begging, and screaming. The very best bits are where buxom bikini-clad birds have to stick their heads in tanks of blood and fish things out with their mouths.” Spike poked the tip of his tongue against the back of his teeth in delight. “They always show them showering it off in slow motion and the blood running down the drain.” He let Xander gape at him for a few seconds before defusing the situation. “Actually, it makes me hungry, too. Which is perfect, me being a vampire and all.”
Xander’s dismay crumpled to a grin. “Damn it, Spike, just when I forget you’re evil, you have to go and remind me.”
Spike shrugged and put his other hand behind his head. “Just pointing out that I’m the last person in the world to pass judgments on anyone.”
“Well, just stop prowling in my drawers.”
“Huh? There’s something to prowl for? Oh, goodie!”
“Spike! I’m just now remembering there are things like locks and do not disturb signs. Let me have some privacy!”
Spike softened. “Sorry, mate. I won’t prowl.”
Xander picked up his book from where it had fallen aside, flipped through it, sighed, and put it on the bedside table.
“What now, Xander?” Spike asked. Xander shrugged. “We could cuddle some more, I rather liked that,” he said lightly, trying to brighten Xander’s mood. Xander shrugged again, not looking at his friend. Spike put his hand on Xander’s knee. “I know you’ve been through a lot. I know you’ve learned to take care of yourself, and I hope you know to listen to what your instincts tell you. Okay, Xander?”
Xander nodded, looking away to where the sun make bright patches on the carpet. Abruptly, he got up and closed the curtain, blocking all but a glowing edge of light. Spike watched quietly as he checked the door lock and lit a couple of candles before coming back to bed.
“Roll over, Spike. I… I’d like to just hold you for a while.”
“Sure,” Spike said and rolled on his side facing away. He knew it was just as comforting to hold as be held sometimes.
Xander slid under the covers, wrapped an arm around Spike, and, with his head on the pillow, rested his forehead against Spike’s head. He sighed and closed his eye. “Tell me a story, Spike. Something about Sires and those they’ve sired.”
Spike paused and found the right kind of story to tell. Xander wanted to know why Anthony had left him. Okay, he’d do his best. “Darla found Drusilla. She was a pretty, sweet, innocent who had the power of precognition. As was her wicked way, Darla presented her to Angelus so she could watch what he made of his prize. What he did was to slowly drive her mad by killing all her loving family and tormenting her before siring her.”
“After some twenty or thirty years, they’d grown bored with their often tiring companion and ignored her. Angelus told her to go make a friend.”
“And she picked you,” Xander said.
“First fool to cross her path, said Angelus. The stars guided her, said Drusilla.”
“I remember hearing her talk about the stars once.”
“She was always getting messages from the stars, or burning baby fish, or her damn dollies. I think she wanted a source other than her own head. Poor Dru. As much as I loved her, it took infinite patience to cope with her sometimes. Once in a while, I would leave her, have an adventure on my own, but I was always drawn back.”
“How would you find her?” Xander asked.
Spike paused. “There is a… pull of family, of blood. If she is around I can feel her. To a lesser degree I can feel Angel, and he me. I think that’s one reason we chafe so.”
“But you said you didn’t know who was following you last time you saw her.”
“It’s like… like a faint song over a fuzzy radio station. Once you pick out the tune, you know who it is. The last person I expected to see was Dru.”
“That’s why Anthony felt so uneasy with his sire around,” Xander said excitedly. “Like Darth Vader sensing Obi Wan!”
“Er… Yeah. Just like that. I’d wager that the shielding on the caves fuzzed their link.”
Xander lay still, listening to the distant sounds in the house and turning over what Spike had told him. He realized they’d never spoken like this before about Spike’s past. “First time I saw you, you called Angel your sire, but Drusilla made you. What’s up with that?”
“Drusilla made me a vampire, but Angelus made me into a right proper demon. Had it just been Drusilla and I, Spike might never have been.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Angelus took me on as a project. My father died when I was young, yeah? And before that he wasn’t around much at all. So when this handsome, charismatic man came along and wanted to bond, I bonded. He taught me… glee in all the wrong things.”
“For almost twenty years we were the Scourge of Europe. The four of us would rain terror wherever we felt the whim. He and I… we were quite the team. You wouldn’t know it when you see how much Angel hates me, but Angelus and I…”
“You and Angel have had a falling out, haven’t you?” Xander asked quietly.
Spike grew still. “Yeah. We have. He wants to play human so… so he won’t talk to me about the old days. I’ve got no one to… It doesn’t matter.”
“You’re wrong, Spike. You can talk to me.”
“Sure, until I start talking about body counts and effective torture methods,” he said dismissively. “I have a soul, but I still like to reminisce once in a while. We have nothing to talk about now.”
Feeling the tension in Spike’s body, Xander laid his hand flat against Spike’s still chest and moved his body a little closer. “You’d be surprised, Spike,” he said quietly into the soft brownish hair. “I’ve done some terrible things myself. I will never brag about them, but… “ Spike felt a shudder run through his body. “I have done things with my soul and without a demon as an excuse.”
“Extreme circumstances lead to extreme actions, Xander. I’m sure you did what you needed to survive.”
“No,” Xander said flatly. “I want mad.”
Spike lay quiet and waited for Xander to say what he would. He pressed Xander’s hand to his chest supportively.
“Anthony was more than my friend. He saved my life. Had he not been there, I would not have made it more than a week... and we were lovers.”
“Nothing wrong with that.”
“Yeah. I know.” 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. Without Anthony’s protection, I would have would up someone’s bitch, I know. After a year, I... we 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. 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. It was like being back in school with the bullies after me again, but this time I had a protector.”
“And you could fend for yourself, “ Spike added quietly.
“Yeah. Pretty much.” Xander paused, and Spike could feel him tense up and pull him a little closer. “And then…” Xander trailed off, sniffing and worrying the fabric of Spike’s shirt.
Spike reached back with his left hand and petted Xander’s hair. “Xander? What happened? Let it out, Pet.”
“I’d been in a fight at another camp and was wounded. This critter I thought dead actually wasn’t. It clawed my back real bad. The scar’s still there, on my left shoulder.” Spike nodded. He’d noticed the ugly twist of tissue. “I’d been away almost two weeks, I figure, and was taken to the medical ward upon return. He… He came to me that night.”
Xander closed his eye and deeply breathed in the scents of leather, musk, copper, and somehow smoke that were uniquely Spike. He opened the door in his memories he’d been attempting to hold shut all day.
“Xander?” Anthony said quietly. There were two other
humans in the sick ward, pregnant women in their final months of carrying
whatever had been planted to grow within them. They were heavily drugged.
“Anthony? What are you doing here?” Punishment for
being out of one’s cell after certain
hours unescorted was severe.
The tall vampire knelt down beside the low cot. Xander could only lay on his left side, as his shoulder had been badly torn. “I pulled some strings, made some threats, and a bribe or two. I was worried about you.”
Xander was groggy from the potions the healer had given
him. He put out a hand and cupped the back of Anthony’s head. “I won. A
bunch. You should be proud.”
“I am,” he said, his voice barely above whisper. “And I missed you.”
“Yeah. You, too. I wish I hadn’t had to leave so
soon after…” Xander said, unsure of how to approach what he wanted.
Anthony pressed Xander’s hand to his cheek. “Shhh,
“You said I could ask anything of you.”
“Can I… It’s been so long. Make love to me?”
Anthony looked around the dark room that was illuminated
only by a single oil lamp turned low. “Here?”
Xander nodded. “Want you.”
“I want you, too. But…”
“Maybe… maybe just a quickie?”
“He should have left. God, he never should have come to start with. But I wanted him, and he wanted me. I asked him to love me. I was sleepy, lonely, horny, and stupid and all the other dwarves. It was late and no one else was about. But… The blood and the desire became too much. It was foolish of us to be intimate in the sick ward, but… but we both wanted so much. Those beds were narrow, but he climbed in behind me, skinny as he was. He licked at my wound as he fucked me, Spike. And it felt so good.” Spike felt Xander draw in an unsteady breath and gripped his hand tightly. “The loving, and the feeding. The healing spell made me sleepy, so I didn’t hear them, Spike. I should have sent him away.”
Xander’s tears were now flowing freely and Spike could smell the salty tang of them.
Anthony spit on his hand and readied his lover. When he
slipped in, they both felt complete. The wound in Xander’s shoulder was before
his face. “Xander,” he growled. “Your scent…”
“Taste me, Anthony. It won’t hurt.”
Xander heard the familiar crackle of bone changing
shape, and Anthony eased aside the bandage. Both moaned as he licked the jagged
edge of flesh. He stopped after a minute and put the bandage back. “Xander.
You still taste so good, so pure.” He thrust more deeply in.
“Anthony. No one can ever fill me like you do.” He
felt the vampire pause and raise himself up on one elbow.
“Know this, Xander: You are beautiful. I do love
you.” He pounded in, riding Xander’s reaction to orgasm. Then he ripped
the large pearl that had been his sire’s death prize from his hair and
pressed it into Xander’s hand. “Take this, and remember me,” Anthony said.
Xander opened his mouth and inhaled to reply, to
question, and inhaled a flavor he knew too well. Vampire dust. A scant second
before he’d been surrounded and filled by someone he loved. The next thing he
was aware of was laughter.
“I felt him raise up on his elbow. Then he pressed this pearl into my hand. This… this was the prize they gave him for killing his Sire. Isn’t that special? ‘You’re so beautiful. I love you, Xander,’ he said. For the first time. For the only time.” Xander took a deep, shaky breath. “I felt him come inside me, and then…” Xander sobbed, leaving Spike to fill in the gap. He could imagine the horror of having a lover vanish from beside you; from within you. “I killed them, Spike,” Xander gasped. “With my bare hands. Three of them. Human men. As the dust and the seed of my lover dripped from my body, I killed them all!”
“Ohhh, he bit he dust, didn’t he boys?” Xander
rolled over. Kyle, the most spiteful human Xander had ever met, brandished a
stake and laughed.
“I recon the big boss will be gad to be shut of his
vampire gone soft,” Zack drawled, always the toady to Kyle. “Now you can
take his place.”
“What about his pet?” Buddy licked his lips. “Can
I have him?”
“One, I ripped his head from his body. The next, I slung by his legs and cracked his spine against a corner wall. The last one, Kyle… I shoved that wooden stake up through his ribcage and into his throat. While the dust and seed of my lover stuck to my body, I killed them.”
Spike rolled over and held Xander tightly as he silently cried. He knew no one else knew this story, no one had been told. “Xander, Xander,” he murmured, comforting.
“I became their best fighter, Spike, won every match,” he said between sobs. “They put me in the death matches. Anyone and anything they put in the ring with me died, and not always quickly. For a year I didn’t care who I killed, or how. And now… now I can’t stop being a killer like the bastards who killed Anthony.”
“You can, Xander. You have. You don’t have to kill any more.”
“Not yet. I have to do it again. I can stop after I rip the Kingpin to tiny pieces with my bare hands. I’m as much a monster as they are.”
“I swear on my undead existence, I will help you see that
day, Xander. I swear. And, Xander? I know monsters. I am a monster, but
you’re not. You’re still a good man, though only God knows how."
On to Chapter 30
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