Uh-oh, Pet, Spike said uneasily. I think we may be in trouble.
They look dangerous, all right, he said. Shit. Im not really up for a fight tonight, you know? Can we just make a run for it?
Theyre between us and the car, Spike said worriedly. And theyve already seen us. You could run, Ill hold em off long enough for you to get away.
Or you could run, Xander said fatalistically. I think theyre more likely to kill you than me.
Wouldnt count on it, Pet, Spike warned. Dont like the look in that ones eyes.
They exchanged resigned glances.
Bluff? Xander suggested.
Bluff, Spike agreed.
They continued toward the car, clutching the shopping bags tightly.
Hey, Buff, Xander said cheerfully. Nice night, huh?
Buffy, scratched, battered and bruised, not to mention doused in some kind of slime, did not look amused.
Where have you two been? she demanded.
Uh Xander glanced down at the dozen or so bags that he and Spike were laden with, then back up. Shopping?
Shopping, Buffy said flatly. We called and called and called before heading down under the crypt without you. Where we fought about a dozen trolls who were trying to get out while we were trying to get in. Also without you.
Hey, I needed clothes, Xander said defensively. And nobody told me there was anything going on tonight.
We tried to call, Giles said, rather irritably. Repeatedly.
Well, you must not have called before sunset, cause thats when we left, Xander retorted. What am I supposed to do, sit by the phone 24/7? Or should I just check in every half hour?
Youre the one who always whines about being left out, Buffy snapped.
And youre the one who told me to stay out of it! Lets see, how did it go? Xander said coldly. Me Slayer, you bartender?
Buffy didnt answer, just whirled on Spike.
And what about you? We pay you to help us!
Spike rolled his eyes.
And you pay me to get garlic in the face, too, hmm, is that it?
I apologized, she said between gritted teeth. Not that I wanted to. But still, we give you blood and money. She hefted her purse meaningfully. And I dont introduce you to Mister Pointy.
Sorry, ducks, mustve missed the small print in the contract where it said I wasnt permitted to set foot outside my door without your permission.
You liked it better tied to chairs or chained in the bathtub? Buffy said sweetly. Cause we can go back to that arrangement.
Over my dust, Spike snarled.
Buffy smiled and pulled a stake out of her purse.
Can do, she said brightly.
Cut it out! Xander said, stepping between Buffy and Spike and glaring at Buffy. Overreacting much? We didnt know you needed us, we went out, you decided to go on without us. Deal already.
Yes, I believe this is getting out of hand, Giles interjected. His suit was ruined for good and the left lens of his glasses was cracked.
Yeah, we didnt really try calling Spikes place until we were almost ready to leave, Willow added. She had a big black bruise on one cheek and a bandage tied around one wrist. Tara looked unhurt, but she was definitely the goopiest of the lot.
Xanders expression softened.
You okay, Wills? he said worriedly.
Yeah, Im all right, Willow said embarrassedly. One of the trolls grabbed me and kind of threw me against a wall, and Tara hit him on the back of the head with a rock, and he started to turn around on her, and I cast this spell, only I didnt get it quite right cause I was hurrying, it was just supposed to stop it, but instead it kind of, um, blew up. All over Tara.
Ewwww, Xander said, grimacing sympathetically. Yak much?
T-t-twice, Tara confessed in a small voice.
Yeah, well, Giles got stepped on and Dawn almost got eaten, Buffy said impatiently, and we couldve really used some extra help, you know? From the people who are supposed to be helping us with this stuff anyway.
Most of the time you dont want our help, Xander pointed out. Either of us. Me you just ignore. Spike you insult all the time.
Oh, so what now, your feelings are hurt so we can all go get killed? Is that it? Buffy snarled.
Oh, so now youre saying Im the difference between life and death, huh? Xander said hotly.
Im saying youre supposed to be one of us, not the bleached wonders shopping buddy! Buffy shouted.
And grabbed the front of his shirt, giving Xander a good shake.
Back the fuck off! Spike roared, charging forward, chip forgotten in his sudden red rage. Mine! Touching MY Xander! Threatening MY Xander!
Buffy whirled and punched, and with amazing speed Xander pushed Spike out of the way
-- and Buffys fist connected solidly with Xanders face, the impact of flesh on flesh very loud.
Spike snapped. He never felt the transition to game face; he howled and leaped at Buffy, intent on gory murder. He plowed into Buffy, knocking her back onto the hood of Xanders car.
And then the chip kicked in.
Momentum carried him forward; with Buffy out of the path, he plowed into the windshield of the convertible, but he never felt the impact as his brain exploded in exquisite agony. He screamed, blind, deaf and near paralyzed with pain, but he still tried to crawl toward Buffy, fully intent on ripping the offending hand off her arm and shoving it so far up her arse that she could pick her nose from the inside. It was a futile gesture; in his unthinking, unseeing agony he only rolled off the hood onto the pavement, shuddering helplessly, waiting and half wishing for the stake to end his pain.
Dimly the sound of voices intruded into his consciousness; then he became aware of warm hands holding him still, and that one of the voices was addressed to him.
Spike! Spike, just lay still, its okay, hold still, dont move
Xander something, something, doctor, hadnt you better
Cant believe you something how could you?
Didnt mean something, something, accident, I didnt
Something, something, broken, need to
Spike, are you all right? Can you open your eyes?
Xander sounded funny, his voice thick and liquidy, and that knowledge brought Spike jarring back to the present. He forced his eyes open; little flashes of pain-light were still exploding across his field of vision, but he could see Xanders face. Blood was running down his lips and chin, his eyes were swelling shut, and Spike could see even at a casual glance that his nose was broken. Weakly and hating his weakness, Spike reached up a shaking hand to touch Xanders cheek.
Youre a mess, Pet, he whispered.
Yeah, you too. Xander mustered a bloody grin. From now on Im doing all my shopping on the Internet.
You got it, Spike said rustily. Then he made the connection between Xanders face and Buffys fist and he growled, fighting to force himself upright. Hurriedly Xander held him down.
Dont, dont, dont, Xander said frantically. Uh uh He glanced around as if searching for a distraction. Why dont you take me to the clinic, okay?
Emergency room, rather, Spike thought grimly. He didnt look at Buffy. He didnt know what hed do if he did, but whatever it was, it would delay Xander getting treatment. He forced himself to his feet and helped Xander into the car, even though he was still reeling himself.
Throw our bags in the back, he said stonily to whoever might be listening. He heard bags crinkle but never took his eyes off Xander. Not bothering to check and see if anyone was in front of the car privately he hoped Buffy was, chip and his head be damned, he roared out of the parking lot.
Three hours later Spike was still seething. Xanders nose was indeed broken not only was the cartilage displaced, but the bony structure had been cracked and he almost needed surgery; both his eyes were swollen almost completely shut, his lip was cut and several of his front teeth were loosened.
Giles, dressed in clean clothes and wearing his spare glasses, had showed up at the emergency room with the other recently-washed Scoobies in tow. Spike had been astonished to learn that Xander had listed him, not Giles, on his insurance as his medical contact. To Spikes glee, Xander refused to see anyone but Willow, who was allowed to come back and sit with him while the x-rays were being developed. Willows eyes were swollen and red, and she clutched at Xanders hand as if he was her only anchor to sanity.
Im so sorry, Willow whispered. Buffys sorry too. She didnt mean to hit you like that. She didnt mean to hit you at all, I mean, it was She glanced guiltily at Spike.
Oh, yeah, like thats so much better, hitting somebody who cant hit back, Xander rasped hoarsely; Spike guessed his throat was sore from the blood that had been dripping down the back of his throat from his broken nose.
I know, I know, Willow said miserably. Thats not an excuse, I know that. She fell silent for a long moment, then asked humbly, Do you think some more of that liniment might help? You said it was so great
I dont really think
we have all that much left, Spike finished smoothly. Good idea, Red. We could use another batch if you dont mind the bother. Probably put him right in no time.
I can do that, I can do that right now, Willow babbled, looking desperately relieved. Ill run home with Tara and have it done in a few hours and
Willow, Xander croaked.
Breathe, Xander chuckled painfully.
Oh. Okay. Willow flushed. Im just so sorry, Xander.
Xander grinned bitterly and closed his eyes.
Its okay, he rasped. Its not the first bash in the face Ive ever gotten.
Willow winced, and Xanders eyes shot open.
I didnt mean that to sound
No, I know what you mean. Willow squeezed Xanders hand. At least this time I can help a little. She smiled tremulously. Thanks for letting me help.
Xander squeezed her fingers.
Tell Tara her hair still stinks, he quipped. I can smell it on your hands, and you always play with her hair. Go on, get out of here. Thanks, Wills. Youre a friend.
Willow hesitated at the door.
Buffy wants to apologize, she said tentatively.
No. Xanders eyes were closed and his voice was flat. I dont forgive her, and frankly I dont even want to hear her apologize for punching me out instead of Spike. Im tired of her shit and I dont want to see her, not tonight and not for a good long while.
Willow sighed softly.
Okay, she said, and was gone.
Between x-rays and insurance papers and prescriptions, it was almost dawn when Spike helped Xander into the car and drove him home. There was a sad sort of synchronicity to it the times Xander had supported a staggering, injured Spike through the door, and the times Spike had brought a wounded hurting Xander home. This time Xander was almost unconscious from pain medications, and Spike forestalled any effort from Xander by simply scooping him up and carrying him inside. He gently stripped off Xanders blood-spattered clothes and tucked him cozily into the waterbed, then quickly fetched their purchases from the car before the sun rose. After all theyd gone through to buy Xander a few nice clothes, Spike, weary as he was, took the trouble to hang the garments up before he stripped and crawled into bed with Xander.
He roused sometime around noon to a ringing phone. He stumbled out into the living room, picked up the receiver, identified Giles querying voice, muttered, Bugger off, and stumbled back to the bedroom. He checked the time, shook a pain pill out of the bottle, and took that and a glass of water with a straw in it to Xanders side of the bed.
Wake up, Pet, he said. Pill time.
Whuzzat? Xander muttered blearily, trying to open his eyes, then wincing as swollen flesh protested.
Open your mouth, Pet, Spike said patiently. He carefully slid the pill and the end of the straw between swollen lips. Swallow.
Xander swallowed blindly.
Spike thought a moment, then went to the kitchen, fetching one of his empty blood-collecting bottles. He took it back to the bedroom, slid it under the covers, and positioned it carefully, grinning when Xander yelped as cool glass contacted sensitive skin.
Piss, Spike instructed.
This time Xander managed to get one eye open, and he used it to glare at Spike balefully, but he pissed. Spike took the bottle to the bathroom, emptied, rinsed and discarded it he just couldnt see using it for blood again, no matter how he washed it then went back to bed, curling cozily around Xander.
Sleep, he murmured in Xanders ear.
Spike roused again shortly after sunset, this time to a knock on the door. He threw a robe on this time before stumbling out into the living room.
If its that bloody Watcher, hes doomed, Spike grumbled, peeping out through the peephole, surprised to see Willow standing there. Oh, right. Liniment. He sighed and opened the door.
Evening, Red, he said. The young witch looked like she hadnt slept. Probably hadnt. Tara stood behind her, looking just as weary, her hair rather frizzy and dry as if shed washed it several times in harsh soap. Spike grinned.
Cmon in, ladies, he said, stepping aside. Xanders still asleep, though.
No, thats okay, Willow said embarrassedly, pointedly not looking at Spike in his robe. I just wanted to, you know, drop this off right away. Is Xander okay?
Hes hurting, he said flatly. Be nice if he had a week when someone or something didnt pound the hell out of him.
I know, she said. Giles is really upset, and Buffys not talking to anybody, and . . . well, it doesnt matter. Just let me know if theres anything I can do, okay?
Sure will, Spike said, accepting the jar of liniment Willow was holding out. He liked Willow, but frankly wanted her to go away; he wanted to go take care of his mortal. Thanks, Red.
He heard Xander stirring as he walked back to the bedroom, and in fact found the mortal trying to sit up on the side of the bed.
Hey, hey, easy there, Spike said, gently pushing Xander back down. Not ready to go beat the shit out of any more monsters tonight.
Willows liniment. Xander grinned slightly at the sight of the jar in Spikes hand. If she only knew.
Yeah, well Spike set the jar down. Ill give you something thatll help more than that.
Xander glanced up at Spike.
Uh-huh. Spike pulled out his boot knife. Want me to mix it in something for you, Pet?
Xander swallowed, then slowly shook his head.
Right, then. Spike helped Xander into a half-sitting position, supported by the pillows. He pushed up his sleeve and cut deeply into his forearm, holding the bleeding cut to Xanders mouth. Xander swallowed almost instinctively once; then his hands came up to clasp Spikes arm and he fastened his mouth on the wound, drawing hard on it. Spike didnt stop him, let Xander drink until he felt the wound closing, then reluctantly pulled away.
Stop for now, Spike said softly. He wiped the smears of blood around Xanders lips away with his thumb, then absent-mindedly licked the blood off his thumb. More later.
Xander was panting, gazing at Spike with wide eyes which were already far less swollen.
Is that dangerous? he asked in a small voice. I mean, can it
Turn you? Spike shook his head. Mortals cant be turned unless theyre bloody close to death already. Nah, worst or best, Id say my blood can do is change you a bit, just as I said, stronger and faster and so on. Course, enough and youll start giving the Slayer twinges, he added reluctantly.
I dont care. Already Xanders voice was clearer, less nasal. I dont want to see her. And I dont care what she thinks.
Dont blame you, Spike said mildly. But youd better care what she thinks. Cause if she gets the notion Im turning you or changing you or whatever, she and her stake dont need no invitation to come bursting in here, and then I wake up with the wrong kind of woody altogether. And wouldnt be nothing I could do. Get it, Pet?
Yeah, I get it, he said. I just dont like it. Wow, I feel funny. He lay back woozily.
Spike stroked Xanders cheek absently, watching as the bruising faded, as the swelling eased, as the split in Xanders lip closed and vanished. The mortal had never had this much of Spikes blood at once and the effects were understandably stronger. He watched Xander healing before his eyes and felt a thrill at the thought of his blood nourishing and healing his Consort.
Not my Consort. Never my Consort.
Xanders eyes snapped open as if hed heard the thought, and he captured Spikes hand, holding it against his cheek.
I want you, he whispered, blushing furiously but meeting Spikes squarely.
Spike snorted, amused but not surprised. It was the blood, of course. Not to mention teenage male hormones.
Think youre up for that, Pet? he said mildly.
Xander pulled Spikes hand away from his face and drew it down his body to a firm lump in the covers.
Does this feel like Im up for it? he whispered.
Spike grinned and stretched out on the bed beside Xander.
And what do you think youre up for, hmmm? he teased.
You. Xanders eyes burned. I want you.
Spike fumbled with the tie on his robe, flung the garment off the bed.
You got me, Pet.
No, I mean I want you. Xanders cheeks flamed. To you know. Do me.
Do you? he said numbly. As in, er, fuck you, Pet?
Yeah. Xanders cheeks darkened to an almost alarming shade of red. As in, um, fuck me. Then he looked anxious. I mean, if you want to.
Want to? Want to? Spike almost came at the thought.
Then reality set in and he sighed.
Cant, he said briefly.
Xanders face lost all expression.
Cant? he repeated softly, worriedly. Why not? I mean He blushed. Ive seen that everything, you know, works.
Yes, Pet, everything works, he said patiently. He tapped the side of his head. The bleeding chip works, too, remember? And the first time I give you the least twinge of pain, you say ouch and I say Fucking OWWWWW, get it? Kind of kills the mood, if you know what I mean.
Xanders brows shot up as he understood.
But He licked his lips. You wouldnt hurt me.
Oh, I wouldnt say that. But Id never hurt you moren youd like.
Pet, your confidence is nice, but if youve never had nothing up there before, then chances are, youre giving me too much credit.
Oh. Xanders face fell, and for the millionth time Spike cursed the damned Initiative who had yet again come between Spike and his rights as a master vampire.
Pet. Spike gently turned Xanders face toward him. Dont mean we cant do something special if you want. Just means you have to be the one doing it.
This time Xanders blank expression was almost comical.
You mean Xander gulped. Me? Do you?
Spike grinned and kissed that beautiful gaping mouth.
Yeah, he said simply. You do me.
Is that a yes oh or a no oh? Spike chuckled.
Xander blinked again, then rolled over on top of Spike, kissing back.
Thats a hell, yes! oh, Xander said. Then he paused. But, um, dont we need, um, something?
What, like rubbers? Spike said amusedly. Cant get me preggers, Pet, and if we were gonna give each other something, swallowing each others blood would pretty much do the job, wouldnt it?
Not that, he said. Um, like, uh, lube or something.
Oh. Spike frowned. That was a poser. When Angelus had claimed his rights as Sire, Spike had been lucky to get anything more than spit and blood as lubricant. It had been so long since Spike had gotten his end down long before hed taken over Angels building that he didnt have anything himself, and he very seriously doubted that Angel wouldve had anything to leave, either.
Then an idea occurred to him and he grinned.
Right back, Pet, he said. He fetched what he wanted and returned. Xander stared at the naked vampire, not to mention what was in the vampires hand.
Butter? Xander said, his voice squeaking.
Well, its that or olive oil, Pet, Spike chuckled. And comes to that, Id rather smell like a scone than a salad. So, Pet, you want to do it, or dyou want to get up, get dressed, toddle on out to the chemists for whatever you use in this century?
Gimme that! Xander said, grabbing the butter out of Spikes hand. Then he sat there, staring down at the waxed-paper-covered brick. Ummmm . . . so what do I do with this now?
Here, Ill show you. Spike hopped back up on the bed, knee-walking up to straddle Xanders hips and pushing the covers out of the way. He unwrapped the butter, pinched off a bit and took Xanders hand, rubbing the butter slowly over Xanders fingers. The butter quickly melted on the warm skin. Gazing into Xanders eyes, Spike drew Xanders hand around behind him, guiding one slick finger to his target.
Like this, he said huskily, pressing the slippery fingertip in. He shivered as the warm finger penetrated, pushing back against it. Xander got the idea quickly and moved the finger himself, sliding it gently back and forth.
Now another, Spike whispered, purring as Xander worked a second finger in beside the first. Bloody hell, this was good. With Angelus it had always been about power and submission, pleasure and pain; gentleness didnt even enter into it. Spike couldnt remember the last time hed actually allowed another male to top him; once hed become a master vampire, it wouldve hurt his status. But this was his Consort, and there was nobody to say how a master vampire and his Consort could please each other.
More? Xander asked huskily.
Dont have the patience, Spike muttered. He pinched off another piece of butter and rubbed it up and down the heat of Xanders erection, moaning as he licked his fingers clean, savoring the intoxicating mixture of butter and precome. Pushing Xanders hand back and away from him, he scooted forward slightly and lowered himself, groaning as hot, hard flesh pressed, then slid in.
Xander echoed his moan as the mortals heat slowly, slowly filled him.
Bloody hell, it was good. He couldnt remember it ever feeling so good, so easy, so right. Spike sank down slowly, savoring the gradual penetration. Hell, he loved a good hard fuck; he didnt mind pain liked it in its place, actually but there was something to be said for this, nice and slow and easy and loving? relaxed. Then he groaned again as Xanders pubic bone pressed against him and the hard length filled him completely.
Oh, God, Xander whispered, his eyes wide, an expression of utter wonder on his face. Oh, God
Wrong team, Pet, Spike purred, and began to rock.
Purrs of delight became whimpers when Spike found the perfect angle to send Xanders slick cock skidding over his prostate. Whimpers became moans when Xander wrapped butter-slick fingers around Spikes cock, pumping it in rhythm with their coupling. Moans became cries when Spike deliberately clenched his muscles around Xanders erection and scratched his nails softly over his mortals nipples. Cries became screams when Xander lost control and began slamming upward into the vampire riding him. Spike felt his control slipping, felt the contours of his face change, but Xander apparently didnt care because he continued without pause. Screams became howls when Spike met Xanders upward thrust with one last slam downward, burying the hot length deep, deep inside him and felt the hot spurts flooding him, prompting Spike to pump out his own room-temperature jets into Xanders hand, exercising every last iota of his will to keep from sinking his fangs into the beautifully bared throat below him.
Spike collapsed on his lover, savoring the odors of their rut his sperm, Xanders sperm, sweat, lingering traces of Spikes blood, butter. Drowsily he licked sweat off the side of Xanders throat, fighting down his own lingering frustration. Damn, it was fucking hard not to bite.
Spike? Spike pulled his head back to find Xander watching him, a sympathetic expression on his face. Xander reached over and picked up Spikes boot knife from the bedside table; before Spike realized what his mortal was up to, Xander drew the sharp tip over his upper chest, opening a fine cut there.
Is that what you wanted? Xander whispered, his fingertips unwaveringly tracing the contours of Spikes game face.
This is what I wanted, Spike whispered too, bending over to kiss Xander, plundering the mortals mouth with his tongue. Then he turned his head, slowly licking the droplets of blood from the scratch Xander had made. It hadnt been that long since Xander had drunk his blood, and the cut healed almost immediately, but the small taste was enough. Spike rolled over in the bed, content, pulling Xander over to him to cuddle.
That was amazing, Xander murmured. He laid his head on Spikes shoulder, absently stroking the vampires chest.
That it was, Spike agreed, tangling his fingers in Xanders sweaty hair. He grinned. God, were spunky, Pet. Better have a wash or well wake up glued together.
Xander grinned and kissed Spikes shoulder.
Would that be so bad?
Might make patrolling entertaining, Spike snickered. And just picture the look on Reds face, the next time she and her girlfriend visit.
Xander laughed until he almost choked.
Wonder if shed blame it on the liniment? he gasped.
Spike smacked his forehead.
The liniment! he exclaimed. Shouldve tried that.
Xanders forehead wrinkled.
You mean instead of your blood?
Nope. Spike grinned. Instead of the butter. That way youd have had something to put on your toast when you get up.
What the hell, I cant imagine a better way to waste butter, Xander grinned. Besides, theres always your orange marmalade.
Oh, no, Pet, Spike snickered, tracing one finger suggestively down Xanders chest. Come to think of it, Ive got plans for that.
Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you a story about Anya, the bathtub, and eighteen packets of Strawberry-Kiwi Jello . . .