“Oh, yuck,” Xander said, shaking his head as he closed the door behind them. “That was so yuck.”


Spike snorted.


“Worse than the Vorgost an’ my trailing entrails?”


“Okay, point,” Xander admitted. He carefully did not look in the direction of Spike’s shoulder bag and the bottles therein. “It just seemed so . . . so cold-blooded.”


“Can’t argue that, Pet,” Spike said, grinning. He patted Xander’s shoulder. “Pet, nothing I could do for ‘em. We couldn’t have even got ‘em to a hospital in time for a transfusion. Too late to do anything but turn ‘em, and I wasn’t about to do that. So no point in wasting what’s left.”


“I know, I know, but . . . ugh.” Xander shivered. “At least we got both of the vampires.”


“Yeah, got ‘em right here,” Spike quipped, patting the bag, drawing a reluctant grin from Xander.


“You’re sure perky,” Xander said, sighing.


“Well, lessee,” Spike said, counting the points on his fingers. “One, I’m back in fighting trim, thanks to you, by the way, Pet, and don’t think I’m forgetting it. Two, I got a nice fresh meal, always happy for one of those – “ He gave Xander a speaking glance. “ – although it wasn’t nothing as nice as what I had earlier. Three, I got to beat the snot out of something, always fun. Four, got to stock me fridge again, nice to have food in the house. And five, it’s only half eleven, night’s still young.” And I’ve got a righteous woody, plenty of good food and a good fight’ll do it every time. Wish Xander was up for a bit of bouncy-bouncy. But I’ve got to go slow with him or he’ll spook, he’s that timid. Wonder what that’s about. Certainly wasn’t shy with his demon girlfriend.


A nasty suspicion began to form in Spike’s mind, and he mulled it over as he put his bottles in the refrigerator.


“Hungry, Pet?”


“Not really,” Xander said, but he pulled out the cereal and milk and prepared a bowl anyway. “I’ll just munch.”


Spike opened a bottle of stout and sat down at the table too, wondering how to broach the question that he wanted to ask. At last he sighed mentally; there was just no good way to ask.


“Pet – Xander.” Xander looked up, startled at Spike’s use of his name. Spike grimaced at the uncertainty in those warm brown eyes. “Um, don’t know quite how to say this, Pet, but . . . your dad, besides whaling the hell out of you, did he ever do anything else? Y’know, anything like – well – “


“What, you mean molest me or something?” Xander looked astounded and queasy, but there was the briefest flash of something in his eyes that told Spike there was something there. “God, no. Mom smacked me a lot, and Dad – well, you know. Especially when they’re – they were – drunk. But nothing like that.”


“Someone else then?” Spike said plainly, and he saw that flash in Xander’s eyes again, quickly suppressed. Gotcha.


“Look, I don’t know what you think you’re getting at here,” Xander said uncomfortably. “But I really don’t want to – “


“Pet, you know I’m gonna have it out of you sooner or later,” Spike said gently. “Might as well give it up.”


Xander rolled his eyes.


“Spike – “


Spike said nothing, just gazed at Xander pointedly. Xander was silent for a long moment; then he sighed, gazing down into his cereal.


“It wasn’t anything like . . . like you’re thinking,” Xander said, shrugging uncomfortably, still not raising his eyes. “My uncle Rory, he was always nice to me. Always liked me. A lot.”


Bit too much, sounds like, Spike thought, clenching his hands.


“I don’t really remember how old I was when it started,” Xander said softly. “Pretty young, I guess. We called it the horsey game. I’d sit on his lap and he’d kind of, you know, buck, like he was trying to throw me off, and I’d try to stay on.” His face was crimson. “I thought it was fun. Just a fun game. Later on he’d kind of, you know, rub against me. Through our pants, I mean. And after a while he’d take my hand and put it on him, and I’d rub the way he wanted me to. Always through his pants, though. I hardly ever saw his cock.”


“’Hardly ever’,” Spike repeated. His mouth had gone dry.


Xander swallowed, still not looking up.


“A couple of times when Mom and Dad weren’t home, he had me take my clothes off,” he said. “He said I looked so beautiful, that he loved to look at me. He never touched me then, though. Never. Just looked at me and jerked off. That was all, just that and the stuff when we were dressed. I didn’t mind. He said it made him feel good, and as I got a little older, it made me feel good too. He said I was a good boy, that I made him happy.” Xander probably didn’t realize that he’d fallen into an almost childlike speech pattern, but Spike noticed. At that moment, Xander sounded disturbingly like Drusilla.

Spike ground his teeth together, fighting hard to keep from slipping into game face. It was all he could do to stay silent, to stay where he was. It was all he could do not to fold Xander into his arms and stroke his hair as he’d stroked Dru’s while she wept. He didn’t want to hear another word. He listened.


“He was really good to me,” Xander said, still in that little-boy voice. “He told me he loved me, and he never ever hurt me or said mean things to me. And I used to think that maybe someday, if I made him really happy and he loved me lots and lots, that he’d take me away with him and I could live with him instead of Mom and Dad. For years I used to dream about that, that Uncle Rory would take me away with him. I thought the white knight always came to the rescue, and the good guys lived happily ever after, you know? That was the way the story was supposed to go.”


Slowly Xander’s voice was deepening again.


“He came to visit when I was about twelve, and he’d gone out drinking that night. Mom and Dad had been drinking, too, but they’d stayed home. I don’t remember what I said or did to get Dad mad. It didn’t really matter. Sometimes just my being alive was enough. Anyway, he was whipping me with his belt. It was bad. The buckle end caught me a few times and I could feel the blood. I didn’t scream because he hit me worse if I screamed.”


Xander spoke in a monotone now, matter-of-factly, still staring down into his bowl of cereal.


“I guess they thought Uncle Rory would be out later. But he came home early, and he walked upstairs. I was the first one to see him, ‘cause Dad was looking at me and Mom had her back to the door. I saw him, and I remember feeling so happy, so relieved. I knew I was saved. I knew he’d rescue me and take me away ‘cause he loved me and he thought I was beautiful and I made him happy. And I wanted for him to come running in there and stop my dad from hurting me ever again.


“But he didn’t,” Xander said, very softly. “He just stood there for a minute, watching my dad beat me. And then he turned around and walked back downstairs and got in his car and drove away. He visited again a few times after that, mostly when he’d lost his license and needed somebody to drive him around, but he never touched me again. I always wondered what I could have done to be better. To make him want me enough.”


Now Spike had no trouble keeping quiet; he was, quite frankly, struck silent. Ironic that Xander, who had never told his dearest friends, was now confiding this story to an evil, soulless vampire. On the other hand, he doubted that any of Xander’s friends would have been able to understand. They’d have seen the terrible beatings compounded by the presence of a child molester. They’d have thought how lucky Xander had been to have escaped Rory’s attentions.


But Spike had grown up in turn-of-the century England. He’d gone to public school (courtesy of his mum’s latest gent, who was rich enough and kind enough to pay for his mistress’s son’s schooling) where headmasters whipped students as savagely as they pleased, where dreamy, poetic William Barstow had known he was damned lucky that he’d only been buggered a few times by boys his own age and not the headmaster. Where the beautiful lady he’d loved had scorned him, but a mad soulless vampire had thought him beautiful enough to share her immortality with him.


He understood that, to Xander, the beatings themselves hadn’t been as horrific as the callous cruelty that prompted them. That the pain hadn’t been nearly as terrible as the shame and the humiliation. That the few stolen caresses and illicit endearments from his uncle had been the only positive attention, affection and tenderness Xander had ever received from his family. That the monumental betrayal had not been the seduction, but the abandonment. That the scars on Xander’s soul had not come from being desired inappropriately, but from not being desired . . . quite . . . enough.


Spike stood slowly, holding out his hand.


“C’mere, Pet.”


Xander glanced up warily, and that trapped-animal look in Xander’s eyes went straight to Spike’s heart. Hesitantly, Xander took the outstretched hand, letting Spike lead him into the master bedroom. He didn’t question even when Spike drew him into the closet, the vampire sitting down on the floor and pulling Xander down with him, the mortal sitting back with his back against Spike’s chest. Spike pulled the closet door shut, enclosing them in darkness, and wrapped his arms around Xander, leaning back against the wall. It smelled rather nice in here, like the leather of Spike’s boots and duster and suchlike. Spike said nothing, just held Xander tight in the darkness of their makeshift den, and slowly, slowly Xander relaxed back against him, his head leaning back against Spike’s shoulder.


“Dru had a soft life before Angelus took a fancy to her,” Spike said idly, leaning his chin on Xander’s shoulder. “Sometimes when Angelus had been especially hard on her, or me, we’d curl up in some little place like this, and I’d stroke her hair and make up bad poems for her, or she’d rock me and sing to me, crazy little tunes she’d made up. Angelus would hurt us when he’d a mind to, yeah, and he’d humiliate us when he pleased, but we never felt ugly or unwanted. We knew he thought we were beautiful, that he wanted us, else he’d have staked us or ignored us at least. In his own way, all the attention, however bad it got, was his way of showing his favor, and we knew it.”


He was silent for a long moment.


“Don’t think it wasn’t that your uncle didn’t want you, Pet,” he said softly, allowing one hand to stroke Xander’s stomach gently. “Probably lots of things went through his head. Guess he needed your dad when he couldn’t drive, else he wouldn’t have visited so much later on – guess maybe he was afraid of losing your folks’ help. Maybe he was afraid your dad might suspect what he’d been up to with you. He probably knew there wasn’t a whole lot he could do either. He could’ve called the cops, maybe, but even if your dad went to jail, he wouldn’t have got you, not with his record. Maybe that was what he was thinking. Or maybe he was just a bloody coward without the spine to stand up for you. Me, I’d’ve ripped the bleeder’s head off. Still will, if ever I can get around this fucking chip in my head.”


Xander gave a watery little chuckle.


Which bleeder?” he asked.


Spike considered it.


“All three,” he said cheerfully. “But your dad last, ‘cause I’d want to take my time with him.”


Xander shivered slightly, but Spike couldn’t sense any real distress about him.


“That should bother me,” Xander said, very quietly. “Because I know you mean it. But to tell the truth, it makes me feel kind of good. Not because you said you’d kill them because of me. But because I know you really would.”


“Not would,” Spike corrected. “Will. Assuming pickled livers don’t get there ahead of me.”


Another long silence.


“How long were you and Dru together?” Xander asked at last.


“Since 1880,” Spike said, realizing what Xander was really asking; the thought both terrified and exhilarated him. “And she was the one to leave, remember, Pet. Bloody broken up about it, I was. Remember?”


Xander chuckled again, more strongly this time.


“You know, I’d never have imagined a drunken, maudlin Spike,” he said. Then he paused and the humor went out of his voice. “I couldn’t believe you wanted to kill yourself because of the chip,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it could really be that bad for you, not being able to kill humans. But that wasn’t even it, was it?”


Spike shook his head against Xander’s shoulder, not surprised that Xander had seen through to the heart of it.


“You’ve got to understand, Pet,” he said. “I went from a starving, lonely poet to being Dru and Angelus’s plaything. That’s how it was for a lot of years. Then suddenly Angelus is gone and Dru and me are on our own and I’ve got to manage to protect her, take care of her. I . . . grew up, I suppose, Pet. Became more. I became a master vampire, yeah, and I worked fucking hard to get there. It meant something, to have minions of my own, power, see? First time ever I’d had respect, had control over me life. And God, I was good at it. I was a legend, Pet. I was feared. I’d killed two Slayers. I came here and knocked over the Anointed One. I made Sunnydale my own. Me, Spike, William the Bloody. My Hellmouth. All right, I had this little problem with the Slayer and all of you, but then so did everybody else. And they got slain, and I, Spike, I didn’t. I couldn’t get the Slayer, but she neither couldn’t get me. So I was still head ‘an shoulders above the rest.”


He grimaced.


“Then the Initiative and their bloody chip. It’s not the blood, Pet. You’ve seen I can get blood. But now I’m nothing. No minions, no power, no respect. The bloody Slayer could take me out any time she likes – hell, any of you could. I can prowl in the park and the alleys and beat up some demons – as long as none of ‘em figure out all they need is to get a few human gits to hold me down for ‘em. So here I am, William the Bloody, the bloke who gave railroad spikes a bad name, reduced to the Slayer’s neutered mascot, alive only ‘cause they pity me too much to stake me when I can’t do nothing to protect myself. So yeah, Pet, there’s mornings when the sunlight or the end of a stake looks awfully tempting.”


In the darkness, Xander folded his arms over Spike’s around his waist.


“If it helps,” Xander said wryly, “I still think you’re a pretty scary guy.”


“Oh, yeah?” Spike grinned. “Do say.”


“Well, I mean, I whacked that Vorgost with the biggest piece of wood I could pick up,” Xander said ruefully, “and all it did was make it give me a nasty look. You’re the one who crawled out from under it, chewed half to pieces, and still tore its head off with one good twist. And the way you howled when you jammed those spikes in its eyes – man, I was – well, impressed as hell, let’s just put it that way.”


“Mmm. Was a good bit of work,” Spike acknowledged smugly. “But if you hadn’t distracted it for that moment, Pet – what was it you said? We’d be poking through its shit looking for my leg?”


Xander snickered.


“Well, that didn’t have anything to do with your chip,” he said triumphantly.


Spike snorted.


“No, it had more to do with the bloody Slayer breathing a mouthful of garlic in me eyes,” he said ruefully. “Should’ve listened to you, I guess, Pet. Don’t know, it’s just after that, I needed to feel like – “


“William the Bloody?” Xander suggested. He turned his head, nuzzling Spike’s cheek ever so slightly.


Spike smiled.


“Yeah,” he said. “Something like that.” He chuckled. “Want to know what I’d like to feel now?”




While Xander was still trying to switch gears, Spike slid his hand down Xander’s belly and between his legs, rubbing slowly.


Xander went rigid. All over, but especially there. Spike could hear his heart beating like a triphammer, smell the anxiety and arousal fairly pouring off him. Could feel the fear, the exhilaration, the desire through the growing bond between them.


“Spike – “ Xander gasped.


“Shhhh, ‘s all right, Pet,” Spike soothed, stroking Xander’s belly with his free hand while his other hand caressed more boldly. “Won’t do nothing you don’t want, all right? I’ll stop if you really want. But I don’t want to stop, ‘cause I want you, Pet. Want you bad.”


Xander took a long, shuddery breath, his head falling back on Spike’s shoulder. Spike could feel the muscles of Xander’s arms clench and unclench, as if he was fighting to keep from pushing Spike’s hand away. Spike kept up the same slow, caressing strokes, feeling the erection behind Xander’s sweats pulse ever harder.


“Easy, Pet,” Spike murmured, nibbling softly on Xander’s ear while he slid his hand under the waistband of the sweat pants. “Nothing to be afraid of. I couldn’t hurt you if I wanted to, remember? And I don’t want to. I’d like to make you shiver, yeah, make you scream even, but not with pain, hmmm, Pet.” His hand clasped hot pulsing flesh, and he stroked it boldly. “Ah, yeah, that’s nice, innit?”


A long hesitation while Xander sat there trembling. Then Spike felt Xander nod, just once.


“Mmm, good. Love the way you smell,” Spike whispered. “Want me to stop?”


Another pause; then Xander’s head shook once, side to side.


“Tell me,” Spike whispered in Xander’s ear. “What d’you want, Pet?”


Xander was still trembling; his answer, when he spoke, was barely audible.


“T-t-touch me?”


“I’d be delighted, Pet,” Spike purred, tracing a long wet lick up the side of Xander’s throat; Xander’s moan, however, was all desire now, anxiety slowly fading. “Tell me how you want it, Pet. I’ll do just what you say, all right?”


“H-harder?” Xander whispered.


“Mmm, love to,” Spike murmured, increasing the intensity of his strokes. Xander shuddered, his legs involuntarily spreading a little wider. “Like me to suck you again, Pet? I’d love to taste you.”


Xander moaned again, but tensed slightly.


“But . . . what about you?” he barely whispered.


Spike grimaced. He almost suggested making the blowjobs mutual, then reconsidered. Xander had never done that, and now wasn’t the time to make him try. But leaving Spike unsatisfied was going to do just as much damage to Xander’s ego, and after what Xander had just told him, asking Xander for a wank was just not on, at least not now. Right, then.


“’Kay, Pet,” Spike said soothingly. “Turn round then, hmmm? Yeah, like that.” Xander squirmed around awkwardly to face Spike, and Spike slid them down to the floor despite the rather cramped quarters, Xander’s confused half-cooperation, and the boot solidly in the small of Spike’s back.


When Spike had them down, his knees bracketing Xander’s hips, he stroked down over Xander’s back and gave his buttock a teasing pinch. Xander yelped with outrage and bucked against Spike, then moaned as the motion sent his erection skittering over Spike’s through the layers of their clothing.


“Ohhhhhh, yeah, Pet,” Spike breathed. “Got the idea?”


Xander moved again, more solidly this time, and gasped.


“Uhhhhhhh – “ Xander shuddered, moving again, more eagerly. “I – think – so.”


“Mmmm, good, Pet,” Spike encouraged. “I like that.”


“Me – uhhhh! – me too,” Xander panted. He had a rhythm going now, more confident in the face of Spike’s evident pleasure. Spike whimpered at the wonderful, long-missed sensation of a lover pleasing him; he clutched at Xander’s back, reminding himself sternly not to grab too hard, and let himself thrust back against Xander, helping to set their rhythm.


“Wait – “ Xander gasped, and Spike froze, miserably certain he’d done something wrong.


“What, Pet?” he said softly, trying not to let his frustration show in his voice.


“Let me – “ Then it was Spike’s turn to gasp in surprise as he felt Xander’s fingers fumbling with the buttons of his jeans, opening them, then pushing them frantically downward.


It was awkward as hell in the cramped closet in their position, although Spike arched and squirmed as best he could to help. Then the jeans were down around his ankles, and that was bloody good enough, and he grabbed Xander’s buttocks and pulled him down hard, arching up against him impatiently, never mind that the whelp was still wearing his sweats.


Apparently that little detail didn’t bother Xander either, and it was a bloody good thing, because Spike wasn’t in the mood for any more waiting. The first stroke of the soft fleece over his aching erection made Spike howl, and Xander gave an answering moan, rocking against him confidently now, shamelessly savoring the friction between them. Spike squirmed one foot out of his jeans and wrapped his legs around Xander’s hips, and that made the angle even better, and Xander cried out and pumped hard against Spike. Spike let go of Xander’s shoulders before he could dig furrows there, threw his head back and let his game face emerge, thankful for the darkness so Xander wouldn’t see, and he jammed the back of his forearm in his mouth and bit down hard as he howled and came. A split second later Xander screamed, and Spike felt the soft fleece become warm and wet; then Xander collapsed on his chest, breathing hard.


For a long moment they were both silent, Xander panting and exhausted, Spike tasting his own blood as his forearm healed and his face slipped back into its human contours. Then Xander chuckled tiredly and broke the silence.


“Thanks,” he said. “I needed that.”


“You?” Spike chuckled too. “If I told you how long it’s been for me, guess I’d have to learn to blush again.”


Brief pause.


“Spike – “ Xander said hesitantly. “I – uh – “


“C’mere, Pet,” Spike said softly, and he pulled Xander’s head down so their lips met.


Tender kiss, almost chaste after such raw intimacy. Spike felt Xander’s tongue tentatively flicker along his lips, and he opened, inviting a deeper exploration. No hesitation this time; Xander kissed him slowly and deeply, that incredible focused emotion, and Spike curled his fingers through Xander’s hair and tried to show with his mouth all the emotions he didn’t yet have words for.


Finally Xander pulled back slightly.


“Did you – bite yourself?” he asked confusedly.


Spike smirked.


“Better me than you, Pet,” he said, chuckling. “The bloody chip going off would’ve done bad things for my afterglow.”


“Oh.” A long pause, then Xander chuckled too. “We’re a mess, you know.”


“Don’t I just,” Spike grinned. “And there’s a boot in me back, too.”


“Ooops.” Xander didn’t move. “Guess we should get up.”


“Guess we should, before we both need traction,” Spike chuckled. He hesitated before he spoke again, surprised to find himself having to force a casual tone. “Don’t suppose I can wrangle another day of cuddling in the waterbed?”


A sigh, and Spike was surprised to feel a slight tension in the body above him ease.


“I’d like that,” Xander admitted. “I kind of like having you there.”


Spike bit back an automatic humorous retort that Xander could have him anywhere he pleased.


“I kinda like having me there too, Pet,” he said, craning his head up to kiss Xander’s chin. “C’mon, Pet, let’s crawl out, and when you’re climbing off, mind me bollocks, please.”


Xander winced and blinked when Spike pushed the closet door open and light flooded in, but he climbed out carefully and thankfully didn’t crush anything tender. He turned around, holding out a hand to help Spike out of the closet, then suddenly burst out laughing.


“Oi, thanks, Pet,” Spike grumbled, trying to untwist himself. “Glad I’m so bloody amusing.”


“Sorry,” Xander gasped. “But your jeans are all tangled and you’ve still got socks on and you’ve got come on your tee shirt and your legs are all over the place and – “


Spike snorted, trying to look annoyed and failing as the humor of his situation sunk in.


“Right, right, laugh at the pretzel-twisted vampire in the closet,” Spike grumbled. “And by-the-by, Pet, you’ve got come on your tee shirt too, most likely mine, since yours is mostly soaked into the front of your sweats, which, I might say, makes you look like you pissed yourself, while we’re so bloody amused here.”


Xander snickered and helped Spike out of the closet, breaking out in fresh giggles when he saw the boot print in the small of Spike’s back. Spike glared, then sent Xander into hysterics when he nearly tripped over his trailing jeans. Then, slowly, the laughter tapered off, and Xander stood there looking very shy and unsure.


“Um . . . so what happens now?” Xander said, very softly.


Spike kicked off the offending jeans, pulled off the spattered tee shirt, and tossed his socks after them.


“Well, Pet, you’ve washed me and I’ve washed you,” he said. “So as I see it, us washing each other isn’t all that big of a step, hmm?”


“Uh. No, I suppose not,” Xander said awkwardly, trying unsuccessfully not to stare at Spike’s nudity.


“Then I figure we’ll go back and get you that snack you never got to eat,” Spike said, grinning, enjoying the way the whelp’s eyes traveled hungrily down his body and back up again.




“And then I thought maybe we’d curl up on the couch, catch a late movie.”




“And then I figure we’ll curl up in that nice sloshy waterbed and sleep late.” Spike gazed into Xander’s eyes. “And tomorrow – “


“Tomorrow?” Xander asked faintly.


“Tomorrow I’ll still be here,” Spike said firmly. “And in the meantime, Pet, I want you to remember something for me, okay?”


“Um, okay.” Xander swallowed.


“He didn’t take you away, Pet, but I did,” Spike said, reaching out to cup Xander’s chin. “You didn’t get your white knight, but maybe a black knight’ll do, hey?”


Xander’s lips were trembling slightly, but he grinned shakily.


“I guess a black knight’ll do just fine,” he said, dipping his head shyly. “And who knows, maybe there’s a happily ever after.”


“Could be, Pet,” Spike grinned, sliding his arm around Xander’s waist and guiding him out of the room. “Could be, after all.”


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