Gunn was already dead. He turned and tried to move toward Angel, to assist as his Grandsire wielded the sword and faced the creature just as recklessly and as bravely as a legendary St George. Sadly the outcome was not to be the same.
He felt Angel’s passing, barely able to see the dust begin to fall through his own tears as an iron fist grabbed him around the neck and took him by force. Spike slid through the vortex, it wasn’t intentional. He had seen it open next to Illyria and her blue figure being tugged toward it and had no time to scream his protest as his world went black.
The barely conscious Spike struggled to comprehend his surroundings as a servant of the newly reinstated deity spoke over him, “It is The God Illyria’s defender - the Pet… He must be tended to.”
The nausea of portal travel, the grief of losing his friends, the utter devastation and emptiness his demon felt at the loss of his Grandsire, left him temporarily unable to stand or even respond. His disorientation complete as the shift in dimensions also found him around the size of a lap dog in comparison to those in the room that were tending to him.
His game face disappeared as he was injected with something. He was vaguely aware of the huge tentacles and strange appendages that affixed a collar, restraints and adornments but he was still struggling to understand who they were referring to as “The High One’s personal favorite”. Utterly confused and still suffering nausea, he was tugged across the stone floor, pushed into a gilded cage and carried to an enormous hall to have his cage suspended to the left of… Illyria. He watched in horror as the shell of Fred morphed into her original enormous multi armed form.
For all his feigned disinterest as Wesley struggled with Fred’s loss, Spike was an intellectual and one that cared for the beautiful scientist. Of all the team at Wolfram and Hart, Spike had spent the most time with the ex God (ess). As he saw the tentacles emerging, he recognized the being immediately. It may not have been in the shell of Fred any more, but he could smell it, she was still… something he knew. In his hazed awareness, he sniffed the air again. In the bizarre new dimension he resided in, it was at least… familiar.
Hanging high above what appeared to be a concert hall of several thousand enormous beings, he gave in to old human habits and curled up into a fetal position.
Some time into the meeting, one of her large blue tentacles squashed its way through the golden bars of his jail and stretched out to stroke his bound arms, then his face. Spike shivered at the caress and muttered a vehement, “Bloody Hell!!” under his breath before allowing tears to fall then sob openly as the fronds held him fast and the suckers on one tentacles fixed on his turning mark and began to pulse.
Spike had a privileged position. His role as Pet was one Illyria had long intended him to take, even though initially disappointed that she had to bind him before her seed encouraged his enthusiasm. As recommended by her advisors, the cage was placed on the floor beside her and the base of his cage replaced by a large human-like breast. It did seem to sooth her lovely Pet and she was fascinated that a half breed would respond to such comfort but pleased by his eventual compliance.
Before the teat, his arms were initially bound, he resisted all efforts to feed him and eventually, drugged and semi-conscious again, he was force fed. Then his floor was changed.
After the floor changed, he seemed compelled by overwhelming hunger, to seek out and suckle the teat on the soft organ he was comforted by. Initially it was on his knees, confused, but within days, he needed no encouragement. Unbound, he learned that stroking and gently squeezing the living feeding organ, resulted in a faster provision of the rich mixture. Spike quickly learned that the soft warm surface provided him with welcome heat and comfort. It was soft like the old leather of his duster and the liquid from the teat, though not human or animal blood, seemed to satisfy his new craving, though in the back of his mind he knew he was still hungry.
The liquid was addictive, wonderful and provided a sense of extreme euphoria, and after drinking, it quickly became his habit to lie resting his cheek against the warm organ. He was convinced he could hear a pulse through the silky skin.
It was only a matter of weeks before his time in the cage was dominated by feeding, nuzzling and taking comfort from his soft living floor, often falling asleep still suckling and pawing his feeding teat like a tiny child.
Now, when the cage was opened, he knew to open himself to her attentions. High on her intoxicating liquid, he rode, swallowed and caressed the massive tendrils again and again, welcoming them as they entered every orifice, stroking every one of his erotic locations simultaneously, and preventing him from coming until she willed it.
After every one of their sessions, his cage was carried to another cathedral sized room where, semi aware and sated, he submitted to her minions while they washed, massaged, and stimulated him to readiness again. Erect and suitably prepared for his Mistress, he would then be returned to his cage to feed and fall asleep on his living pillow.
After three months of being filled, he realized intuitively, that the teat contained the Goddess’ own seed. In his more lucid moments he comprehended that every feeding moved him one step closer to completely losing himself and to dust, and yet he was beginning not to care.
The call of the Mistress was all. Whenever was required, he lay in front of her throne and smiled as impossibly strong anaconda like tendrils snaked around every limb and his torso, holding him fast as he was entered and filled in all ways, occasionally being allowed to find completion before sated sleep engulfed him. Her audience tolerated her indulgences, initially fascinated by the small creature whose face changed as he was stimulated, but eventually they simply ignored him.
In his more lucid moments, Spike still raged against his situation, planned his escape and tried to access his demon. He justified to himself that by accepting her attentions willingly, he would achieve freedom in the end. But he had no clear picture of where he was, nor did he have any idea of how he would make an escape. As he pressed his lips over the massive teat and accepted her juices once more, his last thought was a frightening moment of truth. He was dying yet yearned for the attentions of the monarch more than he wanted freedom and life.
Each time he took of her fluids, the mere thought of her entering him had him aching. Despite attempts to banish the rebellious thoughts, the idea of the length and thickness of her entering tendrils caused him to harden. And even her most innocuous touch now resulted in him instantly arching and pushing against her, begging with his body, regardless of the many hundreds of observers that graced her court on that day.
Illyria was most pleased by her Pet. Though over time watched as he faded. The effects of her seed kept him compliant and ‘happy’, but she was distressed as his condition worsened. She began to miss the feisty vampire she seemed to remember from her short time on the Earthly plane.
Her affection for the half breed had been as much to do with his willingness to challenge her as it was his pleasing physical form. Now both had faded. The formerly irreverent, passionate, fighter for good, had consistently lost weight. Weight he did not have to lose. Her seed could not truly sustain her Pet, despite its effects on his psyche, and with no human or earthly animal blood available in her dimension, Spike now struggled even to stand, lying pliant and listless in her strong grip. Her physicians warned that her Pet would be dust… soon(!) unless returned to his own dimension.
So when a powerful magical force stimulated the dimensional link, she allowed the fading vampire to slip back into his cage, but not before a final feeding and a two day session of caresses and coupling that left the blonde vampire sobbing before falling into a coma as he registered her goodbye.
Xander had simply been visiting Los Angeles, taking a side trip to settle some of his parents’ matters after their demise in Sunnydale almost two years on. Wolfram and Hart had been recommended to him by Buffy. Her new Italian boyfriend had apparently mentioned them as they dealt with ‘unusual cases’, and Angel was supposedly in charge. He was stunned by the news, but really did not take much notice of the details and figured that at least they would know about Hellmouth issues.
He was amazed that his mention of Angel’s name saw him in a meeting with one of their top lawyers but a day after the call to the offices.
He nervously carried all the documentation he had been able to recover from the insurance company - statements of ownership of property, birth and death certificates and government statements issued to survivors of the ‘cataclysmic Sunnydale Earthquake’.
A statuesque brunette stood as he was ushered into her office by a pretty young receptionist that had stunning purple eyes, and that he could have sworn, eyelids that blinked from side to side. He dismissed the thought as an immaculately dressed, tall brunette stood and stepped from behind an enormous desk. Her obviously expensive silk scarf was expertly wound around an elegant neck and seemed to float behind her as she walked him over to the plush leather lounge suite. He was impressed by the apparent courtesy and relaxed as Lilah Morgan began a surprisingly informal meeting.
Lilah was quick to mention that Angel was currently 'absent' but that any friend of Angel’s would be looked after by the firm and concerns regards fees could easily be dispelled.
Despite all that, hours later Xander realized what it was that set off his ‘squick meter’. He had never mentioned the Scoobies, or Willow, or Anya, or how he had lost his eye, or the Hellmouth, or being a demon magnet, much less his association with Spike… or… anything really. Yet Lilah seemed extraordinarily well informed, and keen to have him ‘on board’.
It was finally her repeated mention of his various liaisons with demons and his friendship with Spike that caused him to cut the meeting short. He thanked her politely, sent his best regards to Angel (at which she smirked for some reason), promised to consider her offer, and left the building as fast as he could.
He rang Buffy immediately after the meeting, but it was late in Rome, the slayer was out, and he ended up talking to Andrew. The newly appointed watcher was just as confusing to talk to as he had always been, so the strong ‘stay away’ regarding Wolfram and Hart was rather lost in cagey references to the clandestine activities of the new Watchers’ Council, something about crazed Slayers and self promotional statements about Andrew’s own recent liaisons and activities. Xander eventually gave up and left a simple message to ‘say Hi’ to Buffy and Dawn.
The following day the ex-Scoobie was back in Lilah’s office, this time not missing the scar that looked strangely like her throat had been slit and feeling an old Scoobie sixth sense regards her not-quite-human status.
"What do you want of me…? Because, gotta say, not a fighter for anyone these days.”
“Mr Harris, you are a survivor of the original Hellmouth on this continent… indeed apparently you are one of its original ‘champions’. But we don’t need your fighting skills, merely that you might deliver a message and return to us with an item.” Lilah smiled but the act did not meet her eyes.
“All you need to do is deliver this message and pick up the payment owed to our company for returning the deity to her realm.”
“Illyria’s aid has agreed to the payment – but will not enter our dimension – hence your task.”
“Need the services of Wolfram and Hart right now – which I am happy to provide – though I am sure that an unemployed carpenter might be somewhat challenged by our normal fee. You do this and we will wave the fees entirely.
“I’m sure you have had more difficult assignments in your former experiences Mr Harris. Simply go there, speak to Falena and return with the jewel.” She threw him a photo of an enormous sapphire.
The blue jewel seemed to be set into the base of a thrown apparently occupied by a *very* large relative of the octopus. He also saw a human figure in a cage beside the creature. It gave some unfortunate information regarding the perspective of the image and Xander felt suddenly very, very cold. He had already nodded his agreement but instantly began to list off all the rotten decisions he’d made as a teenager, hardly registering the rest of the conversation.
“It shouldn’t be too hard – as a child of the Hellmouth I’m sure you will cope. Just rub the amulet anticlockwise three times when you have the item – it will bring you home.
“Oh and by the way Mr Harris, if you don’t die trying, you will be a very rich man when you return. I’m sure the Senior Partners are more than happy to compensate you for any ‘inconvenience’ the dimensional jump and your services incur… shall we say half a million dollars?”
Xander gulped and nodded absently as he accepted the talisman that would bring him back, then belatedly realized what had immediately begun happening. He looked back in horror as his legs were first tugged then suddenly began to disintegrate. He finally gave up all dignity and cried out as he saw and felt his body apparently vaporizing from the toes up. Despite Lilah’s evil grin he held onto the talisman with an iron grip in one hand and the note to the ‘deity’ from Wolfram and Hart, complete with a printout of the picture of the required stone in the other.
Seconds later he lay in front of the most frightening giant demon he had ever encountered. He did the only thing his body was capable of, given the dimensional change and the shock of circumstance. He passed out.
Xander woke at the feet of the God Illyria.
He did the only thing he think of, he knelt, stayed down, asked for Falena and held out the note.
The next time he awoke it was in an ornate cage on a pulsing soft surface, beside another male.
The skeletal form was attempting to feed from some sort of teat, but seemed unable to even lift his own head. The sickly figure turned toward him, and Xander gasped. Spike was dead… at least… according to Andrew and even once or twice before that, he couldn’t remember… but now… this…. as a child of the Hellmouth he thought he should have known.
He came too again and knelt up rather groggily as he realized he was in the open in front of the throne once more.
Illyria was petting the emaciated human figure he had seen the night before, and her booming voice was felt by Xander at gut level, though at least the message was clear. “The half breed, my pet, is failing. He has been most satisfactory. I would not have him dust, so release him into your care. You will keep and pleasure him. If he survives I will ensure you are rewarded. He has brought me pleasure at a time of adjustment, that is unusual for a Pet in our realm. I would have him well.
“Falena has informed me, and as the messenger for the Senior Partners you are, of course, always welcome in my kingdom. Please tell your Senior Partners that I now owe no-one, and am Lord of my domain once more. I thank the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart for allowing my escape even though my other form… was … limited.”
Xander tried to memorize all he had to convey as he was handed the egg sized sapphire then was led to the ornate cage, where the emaciated, naked and bound figure with long blonde hair now lay curled around a feeding post, at least that was Xander’s first impressions. It took only moments before Illyria began to pleasure her willing counterpart to awareness before lifting him and placing the form in Xander’s strong arms along with the sapphire and an old leather coat.
As disturbing as the whole scenario was, Xander was not prepared for the realization of just *who* the compliant figure was. He held the waif thin vampire to his chest and vaguely rubbed the amulet, happily finding himself and his burden in his LA hotel room on the bed seconds later.
He released Spike onto the bed and raced to the bathroom to throw up. As Xander washed his face he began to realize the enormity of what he now had to do and for whom.
It was Spike. He had had feelings for Spike in the final weeks of Sunnydale, they had come to ‘know’ each other as soldiers about to die sometimes do. He had grieved for him. And now he had to nurse him back to health, he had promised. A devil’s bargain perhaps, but a promise nevertheless.
He turned and looked at the figure curled up on the bed around the old duster, shivering. Regardless of promises, he would never let a friend down if it was in his power to help.
Xander covered Spike with the extra blanket from the hotel cupboard then departed, placing a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door and instructing the concierge that his brother was seriously ill and that he had to go out for medication, then left his cell phone number. He then pushed fifty dollars into the young man’s fist.
The combination of the money and the sincerely desperate look on the guest’s face, saw the young concierge, Jason, breaking protocol and called Xander back for a moment. “Call me if you are concerned Sir. I can check and call a physician within minutes if things become worse.”
In Xander’s stressed state the pain in his chest forced far too much moisture into his eyes apparently. The strapping young man, aspiring actor Jason, raced around the counter and led the upset guest to a seat in a private corner of the lobby, while he organized a car to take Xander wherever he needed to go.
Xander nodded gratefully, still unable to work out why the whole situation threw him so badly. But it had the right effect. Jason was true to his word and within fifteen minutes and three blocks away, he delivered a very large gem, the amulet and Illyria’s message to a rather surprised Lilah.
Two minutes later her assistant delivered a pile of paperwork and whispered a message. “Well done, Mr Harris, it seems you have delivered.” She stepped across the room, handing Xander the completed law work and evidence of payment – in record fast time it seemed. “And so have we.”
Lilah stood rather imperiously and walked across the room, then turned to approach his chair, “You will find everything is in order and the agreed upon bonus has already gone into your designated account.”
She moved closer to him, sat on the edge of the desk and crossed her shapely long legs before adding, “You know, I *do* wish you would consider working for us on a more… permanent basis. The Senior Partners are most impressed with your work I’m sure.”
Xander already felt edgy and just needed to leave. “Thanks… for the cash and all that, but I um… I doubt that you need a carpenter or construction worker… so…”
Lilah smirked and pushed the issue in her most seductive tones, “Oh you would be surprised who we take on… Alexander.”
“I… I’ve already made my decision so thanks, but um… no thanks… I appreciate your time.”
He stood and made a hasty retreat to the sounds of Lilah who was already on her internal phone reporting, “The stone has been recovered. No sir he didn’t. Yes I will insure…” but the door of the elevator closed and he was away.
He checked his cell phone as he reentered the car after a side trip to the hospital. Jason had rung to report all was quiet. On his way into the building he thanked the young man for his attentiveness.
But Xander could hear whimpering from the hotel room even before he entered.
He dropped his bags at the door and slammed it shut as soon as he took in the scene.
Spike was arching of the bed, limbs contorted and his entire form obviously in agony. He was sweating, panting and had clearly been tearing at his own skin for some time, judging by the amount of blood on the sheets and the bloodied strips of flesh torn from his arms and face.
Despite his charge being in game face, Xander raced toward the bed and without thinking, pulled the sickly stricken figure into his arms, capturing the hands that were about to begin attacking the already abused flesh yet again.
“No!!! Come on Spike! Shhh! Shhh… it’s OK. It’s OK. Hold onto me… OK?? Just hold onto me!”
The vampire was so weak that Xander had no trouble subduing him. He pulled Spike tight against his chest and simply stilled until the fitting subsided, all the while kicking himself for taking so long at the lawyers, and yet feeling somewhat annoyed that he now had a new problem on his hands.
Eventually the convulsions ended and the figure in his arms went utterly limp, then awareness seemed to return a little and Spike curled toward the warmth of the body holding him, and the vampire began to cry.
In an instinctively parental gesture, Xander sat up against the head board and pulled the dangerously thin, tortured figure into his lap. He rested the vampire’s head on his right shoulder and began whispering nonsensical words as the last shudders of whatever fit had struck his charge passed.
Spike seemed to sleep for a few minutes but eventually, instinctively began to lick the neck that was so near.
Xander pulled away abruptly, but then remembered his shopping. He gently rolled Spike onto the bed and retrieved the six packets of outdated human blood from his backpack. It had only been a ten minute side-trip and a single call to find the precious fluid (and sometimes he was truly pleased he had Hellmouth experience!).
As the valiant human wandered to the bathroom to fill the basin with hot water and soak three of the packets, he could not fail to see the figure on the bed curl up again and begin to rock and whimper.
He put more water in the bowl and placed the remaining bags in while he took the first of his booty into the bedroom to feed his friend.
Spike was keening and rocking as if in pain as Xander approached with the three precious bags wrapped in a hand towel. He set the food down on the side table before easing the duster out of Spike’s tight grip and covered the vampire with the treasured garment. He then picked up the blanket that had been tossed off sometime during the vampire’s previous thrashing and threw it over the top of the precious leather. Easing Spike’s head into his lap, he nicked the seal off the blood bag with a pair of nail clippers, and proceeded to squeeze it gently into the barely conscious vampire’s mouth.
As the first of the blood began to trickle out of the lax mouth, Xander stroked the limp hair and spoke in tones that were more reminiscent of a desperate, caring parent than a ‘battle buddy”.
“C’mon Spike, just for ol’ Xan… c’mon… you can do it… *Please* Spike, just a little… please??”
It was no good. Xander had read about addicts going ‘cold turkey’, and this seemed just as bad. The vampire seemed to have no comprehension of his whereabouts, the withdrawals from whatever he had been fed were causing him to pant and sweat despite his lack of body heat or need to do either, and the time since he had eaten was now apparently so long that even his demon was confused.
Xander was desperate. He rang Jason, the concierge. The young man was just about to go off shift, but still managed to arrange for a drug store to deliver Xander’s request of a feeding tube designed for intubation of those incapable of swallowing, and amount of electrolytes (at least if Spike did end up feeding from his friend, he would have a ‘replenisher’).
Spike was thankfully unconscious as the ex Scoobie pulled the skeletal figure across his lap, let the head fall back, and the mouth open slightly before inexpertly, gently and very, very slowly, pushing the tube into place. The gag reflex seemed absent, Spike’s face did not change and after five tense minutes, Xander poured the reheated blood into the reservoir then squeezed slowly.
Spike did not respond. Even three bags of blood later there was nothing.
Xander reluctantly withdrew the tube and petted the inert figure before carefully shifting the thin body a little and cleaning up the evidence of the vampire’s meal. He reassured himself, at least Spike had retained the liquid.
When he returned to the bedroom, he noted that the duster had instinctively been pulled closer to Spike’s nose, and that the blanket was still in place. It was something.
Spike shivered through the night. Initially Xander had slept in the chair, but eventually the chattering teeth and occasional whimper caused him to do something utterly instinctive. He slid behind the shattered individual spooned the shaking body and hugged him back into his own warmth. It felt right and they both relaxed and slept dreamlessly.
But it was a short lived respite. Xander was woken at around five am to violent convulsions that saw his sick friend in game face and still utterly without comprehension of his circumstance.
Xander did his best to stop the thrashing arms and hold Spike on the bed as the fragile body under him thrashed and contorted.
When there was no respite, he did the only thing he could think of. Still lying on top of his friend he reached for the Swiss Army knife that he always traveled with, flicked open the smaller blade and winced as he opened his left wrist.
He held Spike even tighter as he pressed the opening to the mouth of the only male, the *only* vampire, he had ever truly cared for.
After what seemed hours, though was only minutes, Xander felt the weak licking of a tongue and finally the suckling action, as lips sealed around the small wound and took the offering. Xander found himself oddly moved to tears. Somehow he knew that his companion would survive, though Spike had not yet regained consciousness.
He sent a prayer to a variety of deities, hoping that one of them might care for the ensouled undead, and assuring them that the friend in his arms deserved their every attention.
Around seven am the following morning, he was still lying with his arms around a friend and smiled semiconsciously as the thin figure edged closer. He pulled the male into a tight hug and wrapped a proprietary leg over the lower leg of the wasted limbs of his friend.
They woke entwined.
Spike looked up apologetically then began to cry silently. Finally sleeping again.
Later that afternoon, Xander had freed himself from the tight hold of his Scoobie friend of old, sped to the kitchen, to return with food for the distressed vampire.
Spike was lucid enough on the second evening of his feeding of human blood to register who held him.
Xander offered up the feeding tube with a rather sheepish smile, “Do I need to…”
Spike stared at the medical implement, then turned his face away in shame whispering, “You should have staked me! I am …. so weak… Ghod… I was… just make me dust…”
“Ho no… Opinions vary buddy!”
“She… then you and this…. Pfff… sh…should be-easy-c’mon… m’a whore…. Sfff dust… m’ dust…!”
“I would, but no one fitting that description is here … so you better start thinking about where you’re going to hang that duster, cause I figure you’re staying. And gotta say… newly reasonably wealthy here, so you might just have it good as the kept man.”
Xander did not expect the tears, or the gratitude, or the compliance, or the brutal honesty. The vampire curled in onto the ancient leather and began to cry again.
He thought he knew Spike, but was still at a loss in some areas. There was the history and the sensitive man; there was a thwarted lover many times over by various uncaring partners; there was the denied son - at least twice, first as human then as demon; there was the damaged vampire, by the Grandsire then courtesy of the Initiative then Wolfram and Hart then by his own hand; and finally he was burnt by the repentant soul and died then rose the hero; and strangely he ended as he was now, the near starved lover of an immortal being rescued by an old friend who lifted him into his arms and cared enough to revive him.
The brunette gave up all pretence of treating Spike as he might have done previously and slid onto the bed beside him. There was no dignity in the vampire’s next act. He knew the chocolate colored eyes staring at him worriedly. All he managed was, “Oh Pet…” before relaxing into the warm hug then sobbing uncontrollably until he finally fell asleep.
Xander accepted the apparently strange need for his unstable vampire friend to nuzzle and lick his right nipple repetitively even when apparently unconscious, though he did shift with embarrassment as his body automatically responded to the stimulation. Despite his own discomfort, he allowed the comfort to continue and repetitively stroked the hair of the desperate figure in his arms.
Xander pulled the old duster up to cover them both, then fell asleep entwined with his distressed friend remaining in an intimate embrace, both finally enjoying a dreamless, peaceful sleep.
The following day the pattern was much the same, he went out early this time independently, thanking the lovely Jason for his offer of a car, but claiming to need the exercise.
His contact at the hospital was ironically a relative of Clem’s and employed as one of their physically unusual quota in ‘PC-speak’. Xander had reflected on the ‘six degrees’ nature of his life when on the second day, Roger sent him away with two bonus bags (a total of twelve in all), six different varieties of strong painkillers, and well wishes from Clem … who was apparently happily living in Las Vegas somewhere.
Xander thanked the floppy skinned Roger, who had spent some half hour proudly explaining his ear operation to remove the ‘flaps’ ten years previously, then proceeded to take out his brown colored contacts to reveal the bright red eyes of the demon, grinning wildly at the deception. Xander indulged the rather endearing character, smiled and patted the flabby arm, just glad that Roger was willing to pass the precious out of date bags Xander’s way, and complicit as to why.
He returned to the hotel, with food for himself also. In his years following Sunnydale, the need for Twinkies and pizza had given way to a slightly more healthy diet. He now carried sour dough bread, tomatoes, lettuce, dressing and a salami, along with a large container of grapefruit juice.
With the swipe card/key in his mouth, he hefted the two enormous bags into the room and onto the ‘coffee maker bench’, and kicked the door closed, only to notice that the bed was empty.
He panicked. Had someone come and found Spike? Was there some reversal? Had he simply come to and left? Or not come to and walked into the sun? The various catastrophic scenarios played out in his head until he heard a sob from the corner of the bed farthest from the door.
Spike was curled up tightly hugging his duster again, rocking and keening, his distress seemed even worse. It appeared as though he must have fallen from the bed judging by the bruise over one eye and the tangle of bed clothes on the floor in front and around him. Xander noted Spike’s closed eyes, the rocking, the hand that tugged repeatedly at the soft leather to stroke his left cheek, and his rhythmic sucking on the thumb of his right hand.
He suddenly remembered the cage and realized his error. Spike had not fed since the intubation and a tiny amount from Xander’s wrist the previous evening, simply refusing any cup or straw or even the bags. Xander was unprepared to intubate a conscious vampire, but had a different idea. The vampire had spent (from Falena’s vague estimation when questioned) close to twelve months exclusively feeding from the teat. If it was the comfort of the suckling and the teat he needed, Xander could do that.
Trusting that Spike’s almost catatonic state would cause him to stay put for a time, the brunette raced back out to find a drug store. He purchased an infant’s bottle and teats for an older child, then as an after thought, purchased some disposable surgical gloves.
Spike, as he had predicted, had not moved by the time he returned. He filled the bottle with warm blood and four of the strongest crushed up painkillers and presented it to Spike. The vampire made a cursory attempt at suckling but finally turned away. So Xander tried plan B.
He tugged one of the surgical gloves from the dispensing box, tied off all fingers but the middle finger, then filled it with the precious fluid. The glove expanded and distorted with the warm blood, but remained in tact.
Xander brushed the soft latex against Spike’s cheek and gently eased out the thumb that was firmly planted in his patient’s mouth. He then pierced the end of the glove finger with a needle and pushed the now oddly distended finger of the glove into Spike’s still slightly open mouth. Spike gave a relieved groan then fell into gameface and began to drink, stroking the bag much as he would have done to the pulsing floor when feeding from the teat in his former cage.
Xander found himself holding the bag with one hand and petting Spike’s unruly hair with the other. When he stood to replenish the bag Xander heard his charge moan a little in protestation, but the sound was replaced progressively by satisfied sighs as two, three, then four pints of blood were fed to the starved figure via the strange glove.
And so the pattern continued for an entire week. Spike’s shivers and convulsions slowly became less, and Xander collected supplies and fed his charge from the gloves. And with assistance from the lovely Jason, he extended his stay to a fortnight, negotiating a weekly rate with the hotel – just until he was able to find accommodation and permanent employment for himself.
Lilah was given the report. “Just keep track of him. Who is the mystery ‘brother’? Can we confirm if he’s gay – I’m thinking more lover than relative!”
“The concierge, one Jason Elms, was not particularly helpful beyond confirming that Mr X. Harris and a Mr W. Harris are staying at the premises but would not release the room number etc. As you might note, we followed our client from the hotel on several occasions. His primary destinations being the hospital downtown and a local drugstore. We were unsuccessful in ascertaining his reason for visiting the hospital other than he is purchasing various items clandestinely for cash. His purchases at the drugstore would indicate he is caring for a seriously ill individual, though without medical records it is impossible to confirm the ailment or injury.”
Lilah smirked wickedly, “Hmm so, he turns up here after two plus years of wandering around Africa, has no recorded siblings, is suddenly keen to source his parents’ funds (plus some), *and* has a sick individual in his care… Pursue the gay angle – gut feeling says AIDS for the friend. Secrecy spells he wants it kept quiet, and isolation means no one to run to for him and his little f#@$ toy."
She smiled triumphantly, stood, handed back the file and stated, “My dear Stacy, this makes our job a whole lot easier. Mr Harris seems firmly in his closet… and what did you say he is seeking for employment?"
“Construction work and project management, Ma’am”
“Excellent! Convincing him to acquiesce is always so much easier if he has some dirty little secrets he’s trying to hide. I think that for now, we ‘ease’ his way into the workforce (one of our clients of course) as appropriate counselor."
“Oh minimum at this stage. I think we have enough.”
The young woman tucked the file under one arm and nodded.
“We will review in three months, and see then if the friend has dearly departed. Grief combined with shame is always such a delicious combination when it comes to motivating people. The Senior Partners are still interested in this one, and given his Hellmouth experience and his recent success, I suspect they have the Special Projects area in mind... Oh and Stacy…?” The woman who had turned to leave paused and turned to her superior.
“Yes Ms Morgan?”
“If you *ever* wear those apologies for shoes into the office again, I will have subdued and your feet replaced by the claws of a raptor on very same day, clear?” Lilah smiled sweetly but Stacy knew the threat was serious.
She paled, replied ‘Yes Ma’am” and rushed out.
The painkillers helped Spike relax, and the imbibing of good quality human blood was having a visible affect on Xander's still recovering charge, the vampire's gaunt cheeks, wasted limbs and sunken eye sockets all gradually filling out.
Most of the self inflicted wounds had at least begun to heal, and his periods of lucidity seemed to be extending. Although the dreadful disorientation that still seemed to take over occasionally and saw the formerly proud Master Vampire begging for food or apparently offering himself for pleasure followed by distressed whimpering when the offer was not taken. Xander was still horrified by this behavior but learned in the first week, that he could manage it by firmly but gently, tipping the vampire onto his side then spooning him from the back, holding tight and whispering soothingly into his ear, stroking him until Spike calmed and slept.
What worried Xander the most, was Spike’s apparent need for the feeding teat and his virtually obsessive stroking of soft surfaces. It was obvious with his leather duster but also included the silky throw cushions on the bed; and Xander’s arm when he was being held, or anything really. Xander ended up in the shower on one embarrassing occasion, after he woke to a hand rubbing rhythmically over the slippery fabric covering his unbelievably hard erection.
But Spike did seem to be improving overall. He certainly spoke a little, though rarely, if ever, initiated a conversation, and his compliance and general lack of ‘Big Bad’ attitude still seemed odd. Xander began to wonder if there had been permanent damage done. He slowly learned of the horror that had been his starving friend’s life, from the time Spike burned up in the Hellmouth to his rescue from Illyria’s dimension by Xander.
Each mention of the final fight in the alley evoked tears. The brunette never failed to hold his friend and allowed the grief to be somewhat healed in the safety of a friend’s arms.
Jason knocked on their door quietly toward the end of their third week at the hotel. The tall blonde with the body obviously sculpted by hours of gym work, was standing with a large box in his arms and smiled as Xander opened the door.
“I hope this is a good time, I just thought you might enjoy some home made frittata and other bits and pieces. Is your brother up to eating soup? My partner Mark made a *spectacular* minestrone for last night’s dinner party and we had a ton over. There’s probably enough for two sittings in the tub there – Come down and I’ll heat it for you any time you want. Oh, and I put in some fresh bagels and OJ from our favorite bakery... Well we got extras this morning. You know never let a bagel go to waste?!”
Xander recognized the blatant lie but was more than a little overwhelmed by the gesture, and stood at the door running his fingers nervously through his hair, finally realizing Jason was looking decidedly crestfallen and obviously assuming he had done something wrong. “Oh Geez! Sorry! It’s just that um… God um… thanks. This is amazing… Geez come in please! Thanks!”
Xander didn’t miss the fact that Jason was in his ‘civvies’, washed out blue designer jeans and an expensive but casual button down surf shirt.
“You just starting your shift then?”
As the young man absently put the box on the suitcase stand, Jason’s hazel eyes wandered to the scene in the sick room and figure in the bed. The curtains were drawn blocking out virtually all the light and a lamp had been switched on. He could see the blond curls pushing out from under the covers, and the extremely pale slim hand resting on the pillow. He also didn’t fail to notice the surgical gloves and pile of painkillers on the sideboard.
Answering belatedly he finally turned back to Xander,“Um… no, day off.”
Xander noted the direction of the man’s gaze, and was about to say something but heard Spike’s weak call.
Hoping that it was one of Spike's more lucid periods, Xander moved across to stroke the curls away from the just awakening figure. Completing the picture of an invalid, Xander helped Spike to sitting propped up on five pillows, making sure to keep the constantly caressing hand on the silky cushion, then turned to Jason.
“Hey Jason, let me introduce you to William, aka Spike (old nickname…) Ummm Spike, Jason here is the guy at the front desk that has, well, done loads for us really.” Xander looked to try to see if Spike was taking in what was being said and knew the message had landed when azure blue eyes focused on their visitor.
A still sleepy Spike said, “Appreciated mate, Xan here’s a right champ puttin’ up with yours truly.”
Jason moved toward the bed and leaned forward to shake the rather ethereally beautiful man’s hand. He hadn’t missed the English accent, or the affectionate squeeze on the hand Xander gave his ‘brother’ before the introduction.
“Nice to meet you… Just dropped in some goodies for you folks – Xan here has been pretty generous with the tips and umm…” He toed the ground a little, “Anyway, I'd better head off, boyfriend is waiting in the carpark… Hey look when you feel up to it, why don’t we head out for a bit of an excursion – you know, surf’s not that far away – an hour on the beach could be fun?”
“Right thoughtful of you, but I’m afraid ol’ Xan here’ll have to do that trip solo. Me, got an allergy to sunlight – permanent condition.”
“Oh, of course sorry – guess some of the side effects are a real bitch hey. Well, maybe a film or something…”
Spike didn’t bother to process the assumptions being made by the blonde too carefully and simply said, “Sounds lovely, Pet.”
Spike was already half asleep again. It was only noon and he had simply woken a little missing his warm bed companion. Now, reassured, he closed his eyes and snuggled down a little. Xander tucked the covers up and pushed the covers up further, then ushered Jason to the door.
Jason tried to imagine what he would do if Mark was ever that ill, and looked back at the now sleeping figure, and then to the drawn face of Xander. He decided to take a punt, “I don’t know what I’d do if my partner Mark got that ill. You are so brave Xander, so brave. But it’s for better or for worse, despite the gender yeah?”
Xander went wide eyed then began a half hearted protest, “Broth…” but was silenced by Jason’s large kindly hand gripping his shoulder and a knowing smile. “It’s OK buddy. ‘Brothers’ I get it… but you just let me know if I can do anything else… anything! OK…”
Xander smiled weakly, genuinely grateful, “Yeah… thanks.”
“Oh and by the way, John on the desk said to tell you, some construction company called, said you had been recommended to them by a friend of a friend. The guy was pretty keen to get you started and said he’d drop the contract off today… Anyway I’ve got a ‘brother’ to attend to and a day off.” He winked and headed out the door before adding as an after thought, “And Xander… hang in there OK? He’s worth it.”
There had been light and an old friend and he thought they had talked… but he couldn’t stay awake and when he woke again it was dark and he felt the ache.
So he let tears flow, because he knew she understood tears since Wesley… but she didn’t attend him, yet there were warm arms and there was… feeding… and the nice touch… it wasn’t the floor but it was touch. And so he slept again.
He woke again to dark, was he back in his dimension? Their dimension… the one where the food tasted right, and there were people he knew or at least were his size, where her 'primordial scum' resided, where his Sire had… he could not continue with his thoughts. He was her prized pet now, if she opened his cage, he opened himself… the other world was gone… he waited for her attentions, and the ensouled half breed let his tears fall silently.
Xander was frantic. Spike had been fine after Jason’s visit, sleeping contentedly without even the need for the duster. Xander wandered down to reception worrying a little at just what Jason had assumed, though felt strangely… comfortable that others might think he and Spike were a couple.
He had simply gone down to pick up the message from the front desk and pay another week’s rent, then thanked John, who smiled and made some comment about the LA Lakers who were apparently playing that night. Xander had nodded and absently promised to watch the match on television. Yet as he returned, it seemed all hell had broken loose for his friend.
Spike was on the floor again still asleep but alternately whimpering and begging.
He slammed the door, swiftly threw some blood into a basin of hot water and began to tie off fingers on yet another glove.
After minutes of waiting and the tentacles not touching him, something was not right.
Then he realized. It was obvious. It had happened so many times… they *must* have moved the court again, because his cage was all wrong and he couldn’t get a purchase on the teat. It always happened when she went out of the palace… He had learned. He kept getting knocked off when her servants were rough with the cage. And sometimes she was too preoccupied to fill the feeding floor and the base would shrink and her servants would forget, so he would hunger for days.
Sometimes they would simply take him out and tie him to her throne, and then it was always hard and cold and his stomach would ache until she noticed. But then there was bliss as she was always sorry, and would cradle him in her tentacles as he fed from the source. And he was able to take his time suckling and laving the warm frond until it gave up its prize, her worry for his wellbeing encompassed in the fronds stroking over his torso, through his hair, and pleasuring him as he drank.
It must be that! Because he felt himself being lifted and was sure he could feel her frond caressing his hair and stroking his body, so he knew to stay lax and compliant. He hungered for her spellings, his stomach growled and felt twisted, though he knew his begging would mean nothing. So he waited, because she always rewarded him when he waited. Lately he knew that waiting was easier because he was always so very tired, but he was content with his body being weaker, because he knew that waiting patiently was always rewarded, and now lying still was easy, since now, it was all he could manage.
Xander felt Spike go limp as he lifted the still light male form back onto the bed. He grabbed the duster and pressed it into Spike’s arms then reorganized the covers around the shivering figure before deciding to slide in beside him to cradle his friend. He then held the warm feeding glove to the lax mouth and waited.
In his fragile state, when in other palaces or the courts of one her ‘seconds’ on a visit, Illyria was careful to give instructions for her Pet, but her servants sometimes forgot to pass on the message to the staff of the household.
Spike mused… they must be in the Phi court – they never gave him his floor in the Phi court. And Illyria always instructed her minions that if he was found without his floor, they should always provide his comfort garment… the old leather duster and she should be informed immediately. And he had the leather in his arms, so...
A few seconds later the theory was endorsed. If denied his floor, then his mistress Illyria would also feed him directly from one of her fronds when she was finished with her business for the day. It was his reward and his only solace. And now he was drinking from what felt like one of her soft fronds, and could feel her stroking him with another of her appendages as he suckled, so he calmed and rubbed against the leather… and suckled… and was stroked… But in the back of his mind something triggered distress.
It wasn’t her juices, it was an old memory… his original food was coming from the frond... then not a frond... a teat, and he knew this… It was human blood and comfort and...
Spike came to full consciousness with a jolt, pulled off the feeding glove and without thought scrambled backwards in confusion and inexplicable terror, only to tip off the bed yet again, this time hitting his head hard on the side table on the way down. He ended in an inelegant heap on the floor for the third time in as many days.
Xander did as he had done each time this had happened. He tied off the top of the glove so it would not leak, pushed back the bedcovers and grabbed the duster, then moved around the bed, squatted down and pushed the duster into the arms of the now lucent but utterly upset vampire. He then lifted Spike back into bed before sliding in to spoon him from behind.
Xander always held tight and whispered words of comfort whilst slowly caressing his friend, and as Spike drifted off into slumber again. Xander would pull the covers over both of them to remain until he was sure the nightmares had passed and Spike was sleeping peacefully once more.
It was three weeks since Spike’s rescue and his human carer was beginning to wonder just how long it would take for Spike to recover… and how on earth he was going to be able to take up a day job if these episodes were to continue – regardless of their frequency.
Spike woke again late evening, this time with a slight frown. He was still spooned in a warm hug and recognized the scent now. He knew him. His lightly snoozing protector, Xander, was holding him tight.
He also knew he was cradling his own duster like a small child with a comfort blanket, but still pulled it a little closer as he remembered the reason for his sore head and the tender care he had been shown. He pushed back into the warmth for a moment, then reached up to his own injured hairline, still sporting a nasty gash. He had vague memories of the precursor to his fall, so began to pet the old leather again.
Xander had been awake since Spike started to move some five minutes earlier, and sported an unbelievably awful head ache courtesy of lack of sleep, food and very real worry for a friend, yet still managed to hug Spike from behind, and rasped “Hey buddy, you OK?” hoping the blonde might again be lucid.
He was rewarded when the figure in his arms rolled so their torsos touched and the never still hands caressed his back and hair. He heard the whispered words “Oh Luv, thank you … but please… let me…”, then was shocked as a soft cool mouth found his. At that moment Xander’s world shifted and so did Spike’s.
They already had a connection, and had fooled around a little once pre Hellmouth obliteration. And more recently when Spike cried and shook as Xander had petted him, twice watching with some embarrassment as the semiconscious, disorientated friend humped the bed a little with Xander’s very platonic (meant to be soothing) stroking, then cleaned him up after the vampire spilled his seed.
The beautiful figure in his arms now simply gave himself to Xander without malice, or apparently any more forethought than a child throwing himself into the arms of a parent. There was unconditional love and a complete trust in his rescuer, all being conveyed in the most primal of ways.
Xander felt like Sire, his protector, and Spike continued to kiss the human holding him. From his oldest memories of Angelus, he recalled that stroking the shaft between the strong thighs was required when trying to please Sire, while proper servicing came later.
Xander was already aroused by the unexpected kiss, so groaned at the touch and his brain caught up with his body, but then gave in to the wonderful sensations and began to deepen the kiss.
Spike pushed further into the embrace, finally feeling whole again.
Illyria had always been attentive even when she knew her pet was dying, and now, finally, his rescuer had determined what Spike was missing.
Spike knew it was Xander now, yet intuitively and physically (as he felt his savior harden) felt his attentions were welcome, so did everything he could think of to convey his gratitude in his actions. This beautiful brunette had saved him, cared for and… loved him, and he was not one to take that lightly, even if the love was only that of a friend or family.
In the back of Xander’s mind, he kept up the mantra of ‘not gay, don’t take advantage, need to slow down’, but it only lasted for a minute or so, then he simply gave in to the expert touches and amorous lips.
Finally, as hard length met hard length, and they caressed their most intimate parts, the human gave in to need, as they rubbed erection against erection and continued to kiss until both stilled, arched a little simultaneously, then climaxed. Xander on the inside of his shorts, and Spike wetting a pair of Xander’s loose pajama bottoms that he had been dressed in by his lovely carer from their first day together.
They were both shocked, Xander embarrassed, and yet both still held their tender embrace.
The following day there was no illusion or embarrassment. Spike serviced his savior, waking him with a mouth and throat used to much longer appendages swallowing Xander’s member. It was nothing but the wonderful feeling of being filled and pleasing his friend. Or at least it was until the object of his attentions woke as he climaxed, realized the reason and dragged Spike up for a passionate kiss before processing what had occurred, calmed and said, “Not saying I didn’t like it but… um… You don’t have to do that you know…”
“Wanted to… always made her happy… and I’m yours now so… need to do what…”
At which Xander pushed away, horrified, “Woah there! What’s with the ownership thingy?”
Spike looked crestfallen, then wide eyed and tearful, as he faced Xander, “Illyriah *gave* me to you… because I was… failing her… so now… and… I really thought… you were happy with me… that you wanted me, I’m sorry. My mistake.” Spike turned his face away and curled in on himself. Still confused by vivid dreams that felt real; and a body that was returning to health; and knowing his kind carer who fed him blood and held him had enjoyed his attentions; and still compelled to act as his training and the residual effects of Illyria’s seed from the past year had determined; and now… he felt… utterly lost.
Xander was beyond distressed. He had obviously, though quite innocently, injured his friend. This formerly proud Master Vampire, the savior of their Earth, at least twice apparently, seemed... broken.
He stepped off the bed and moved around the mattress until at Spike’s front. He then slowly but forcibly uncurled the figure who was again holding the leather duster, rocking and keening, eyes shut tight and tears dripping across his nose and all the way down the other side to drip onto the sheets.
Holding Spike with his full body length, legs over legs and almost pinning him to the bed with his torso, he tilted the pale face so Spike had no choice but to look into the chocolate eyes.
Xander then whispered his message as if to a frightened child, and with as much love as he could engender in a few words, “Hey… Hey! Come on Spike… Please! I… um… I just meant that I don’t *own* you… no one does… Please, please! Just look at me for a second will you. I want to help you, and I liked what we did (which now that I say it, it is a little unexpected…), but I need… well… you don’t have to… you know, unless you want to OK??!!… And once you’re well…then... Anyway… just please…”
Xander had no idea how to end the conversation so simply hugged the smaller figure to his chest and was reassured as a cool mouth sought his warm one and the lips parted, inviting him in.
The phone rang at ten am. There was a representative of the construction company waiting in the foyer. He untangled himself from his vampire, kissed the still sleepy friend chastely, then dressed quickly to meet his prospective new employer.
Looking back at the pretty male form in his bed as he left the room, he hoped that, for the first time in his life… things might finally be working out.
The sound of a rolling frame and skidding of nails on marble announced Lilah’s assistant, before the girl managed to make it to the carpet. Three days previously she had worn yet another pair of unacceptable shoes, and Lilah had carried out her threat.
On her way out of the office of the Senior Partner’s favorite employee, Stacy had been subdued, drugged, and… from now on, would never need to wear heels again when in the office or, for that matter, be able to wear a short skirt in public.
Her lower legs and feet had been replaced (as threatened) by those of an eagle, rendering her some five inches shorter and struggling to stand, let alone walk, on a good day. On the bright side, she could kill with her talons given the right circumstance, could grip onto gym bars or various things around the house, and found that sport shoes and long track pants accommodated her special needs when out of the office. Her original legs and feet had apparently gone to a ‘needy client’.
But she *had* learned, as too many others before her, that Ms Morgan was always true to her word, and Stacy was not prepared to risk another slip up, so the young woman pulled the documents from her carry basket, and head down, handed the notes to Lilah.
“Ms Morgan…? Here’s the information you requested.”
Lilah smirked at the walking frame, the scaly legs, and the talons that were currently stuck into her carpet. She relished the young woman’s submission and fear.
“So this Concierge is confirmed as a homosexual?”
Stacy shifted uncomfortably and leaned hard on her walker, “Yes Ma’am”. Her talons caught uncomfortably in the loops of the carpet and legs ached terribly as she tried to concentrate, but worried more that her newly purchased outfit might also prove inadequate and engender yet more ‘alterations’. She had seen Mandy in accounts and did *not* want a tail!
“The individual Jason McNaulty is in a long term relationship with one Mark Houlihan. And it seems has befriended Mr Harris.”
“Good. And Harris has taken the position with Griggmans?”
“Fine. Then all we need is confirmation of the mystery lover.”
“Ma’am surveillance has not been able to provide anything but audio to date as the curtains are constantly drawn, and even the audio is rather muffled. It seems the subject is quite ill and has spent the best part of the month sleeping. We have not been present on a twenty four hour basis, but there is certainly no evidence of sexual congress while we have been monitoring.”
“Well… What *have* we got?”
“We were able to record the conversation between Mr McNaulty and Mr Harris on several occasions when they were in the lobby, and mention was made of the boyfriend, a person going by the name of William Harris. Gleaning from the conversation, it’s apparent the individual is suffering some form of cancer, or possibly AIDS. The person has not left the room since they arrived and judging by the concierge’s comments, is extremely ill, but apparently recovering.”
“So he’s going by the name of his partner?”
“They registered as brothers, so yes ma’am.” Stacy nervously handed over the incomplete transcripts
“Brothers my ass! You get that reconnaissance to get photos or *something* we can use, or I *will* give you feathers to match those talons”
Stacy looked up wide eyed. She had no idea how the surveillance team could be more effective but she would try everything she could think of. She *really* didn’t want a feathered tail to go with her lower limbs!
The contract with Griggmans was fairly standard. Though the nervous young man from the company was anything but, and seemed terribly enthusiastic to have Xander’s signature on the spot.
Xander couldn’t really understand the urgency but eventually learned that one of Griggmans’ senior project managers had met with a nasty accident at home and the company needed the role filled, if only temporarily – six month contract guaranteed. They seemed unconcerned when Xander mentioned his ill sibling and requested that he spend lunchtimes off the site.
He read through the material carefully then signed without taking particular note of the letterhead. Griggmans was certainly at the top, but underneath were the insignias of their partners the First National Bank, Enron, Komatsu…. and Wolfram and Hart.
Xander was sitting on the bed with Spike’s head cradled by his left arm. He stroked the blonde who was snoozing as Xander reviewed the details of the project prior to his first day.
He had explained some of the job to Spike and pushed a new cellphone into the vampire’s hands before Spike had given in to fatigue – Xander’s number was on fast dial. He had also arranged with Jason to have someone look in on Spike once or twice in both the morning and afternoon. If there was a problem he would be alerted.
Jason asked about ‘meals and meds’ but dropped the issue when Xander looked stressed, but quickly added that he would return every lunchtime to “help William with that stuff”.
Xander’s first day was hectic and worrying.
He rang the hotel four times before lunch, Jason finally heading up to check on William himself, only to report that Xander’s ‘brother’ was sleeping peacefully. Jason didn’t miss the relief in Xander’s voice as the message was gratefully received.
The afternoon was a little better, although the traffic dreadful and the wait at the hospital lengthy as he purchased the week’s supply of blood. By the time Xander arrived home, Spike was propped up in bed listening to the now off duty Jason (who was perched on the end of the bed) expounding the delights offered by various nightclubs in the central LA area.
Xander grinned as he slammed the door with a “Hi honey I’m home” statement and squeezed Jason’s shoulder whispering, “Thanks buddy,” as he moved to stroke Spike’s hair before kissing it with a relieved “Hey…”
Jason excused himself a few seconds later, but only after pushing a piece of paper into Xander’s hand. It was his own address and home number. The brunette looked a little puzzled so Jason quickly added, “There’s an apartment free on sixth if you’re interested. I put down the details, and um… took the liberty of telling the landlord you might be interested, hope you don’t mind… He’s an old friend, good guy…”
Xander’s gave the man a grateful smile and quick hug, “No problem… and thanks Jas… for everything… really… I’ll get onto this this afternoon.”
As soon as the friend had been dismissed, Xander quickly heated enough blood for a full day’s feeding. He filled the glove and carried it, and the three other bags in a tub of hot water, over to the side table, before cradling his relaxed friend in his arms.
He was about to slice the full teat, but for the first time since his rescue, Spike grinned and finally fell into gameface with the smell of blood, puncturing the teat with his sharp incisor and sucked the dark liquid proudly, eyes sparkling as Xander smiled at him.
Xander took a risk, he gently moved Spike’s right hand to the top of the glove, trusting the vampire to hold it while he grabbed another warmed bag of blood, snipped it open with the nail scissors and opened his friend’s fist enough to pour the ‘next course’ into the feeding glove.
The process was repeated, and by the fourth bag Xander had begun to stroke the full, sleepy friend over the stomach that he could swear was a little distended with the feeding. The final few drops were pulled from the now spent glove seconds before the vampire spun and planted his fangs instinctively into Xander’s throat, not in anger, nor for feeding, but in gratitude.
Xander was utterly shocked, but after the first sting, he was amazed… the tight hold, the slight suction and the laving tongue gave him little choice but to pull into the embrace even tighter.
When the mouth pulled free, the words were instinctive, “Sire!!... Xan… need you… in me… now!”
The relief of finding his friend recovering, and the vampire’s automatic stroking of Xander’s hardness, left the human begging for more, but utterly confused.
Spike felt the drive for something and finally realized what it was. He was desperate for the attentions that his mistress was so willing to afford and was desperate for his new carer to provide. He rolled onto his stomach and lifted his backside, his own erection full with borrowed blood, then quietly began to request his servicing.
His lovely carer gasped. He had never… well except for that one time… and of course he had read and seen pictures, but now he was faced with a beautiful male form who was literally begging. “I um… Oh f#@$... Spike I don’t know if I… I mean I do want but… umm… you are… Ohh my!”
His charge held his cheeks open, waiting for his attentions. Spike was literally begging and kept up the mantra, “Please… please… please!!”
Finally Xander stood and retrieved the complimentary container of moisturizer from the bathroom, squeezing a generous amount on his erection and fingers, and gently began to enter another male body with two digits for only the second time, while carefully stimulating his friend’s erection as best he could.
Spike responded enthusiastically and Xander relaxed a little, but pulled his penetrating hand away only to hear the begging resume and felt a slim hand guide his own hardness to its mark. He nervously pushed his member at the opening then sank into the tight but surprisingly welcoming opening, as his partner pressed back on him. He hugged his friend with nervous arms that quickly shifted to a strong and loving grip. He heard the groan of enjoyment and allowed himself to begin to fully feel the pleasure.
It was extraordinary, and Spike was *so* responsive. Xander continued to pleasure Spike’s hardness as the smaller figure pressed back with Xander’s every thrust and groaned, and thanked, begged… before it was all too much and Xander felt the smaller figure come in his hand, the channel containing his shaft contracted hard. The human climaxed immediately filling his friend with warm seed.
They were lying with Xander spooning his smaller partner, both sated, when he pushed his wrist against the vampire’s mouth, he felt oddly satisfied as he felt the incisors carefully puncture his flesh.
The camera the cleaner had planted that morning gave Lilah what she needed. She still had no idea who the individual was due to the angle of shot, but voices were both male and their activity was unmistakable. And at least she had the damning evidence that would help persuade the construction worker and past ‘Scoobie’ to offer his services more willingly to Wolfram and Hart when the senior partners finally did decide on his role.
Her assistant was relieved to find that Ms Morgan was pleased, and removed herself before there was a change of heart and feathers ensued.
The vampire woke at early to enjoy Xander’s attentions before he left for work then fell back to sleep, waking just as Xander arrived home at lunchtime. He finished two full pints of human blood from the teat before rolling to one side, stroking his rescuer’s face. Thankfully large sack of groceries obscured the view of Wolfram and Hart’s tiny camera now fixed to the top of the coffee maker.
Xander kissed his friend passionately and they lay quietly for a moment before Spike spoke, “Jason and Mark want to take us out.”
Xander was playing with Spike’s fingers and replied absently, “Yeah I know.”
“Not sure if you’ve noticed luv, but I’m um… still not walkin’.” Spike looked across at his lover worriedly.
“Well I guess we start on that… cause you are looking…”
“Less like a corpse?”
“I was going to say more filled out but hmmmm definitely… Do you want to try? I mean… now? Because, well we can just give it a try… You know – just give standing a go first?”
Spike saw the unadulterated hope and care in his friend’s face so took a liberty and leant up to kiss him, it was accepted. “Anythin’ for you pet… Yeah, let’s have at it.”
With that Xander held Spike close and sat them both up. He then swung Spike’s legs from the bed before squatting on the floor in front of him, placing a pale hand on each of his shoulders and holding it tight with his own. He then pulled the still surprisingly weak form forward, taking the vampire’s weight a little and easing him up until they were both standing.
Spike was breathing, and Xander could feel his whole form begin to shake, but he was smiling, apparently in amazement. “Oh??!!!!... Bloody … Xan this is …” Then the vampire’s eyes began to roll back, “Oh Xan, I’m gonna… fall!” Xander caught him around the waist before he could, pulling the figure to him in a tight hug and keeping him upright for a moment longer before maneuvering them both back onto the bed.
Spike was breathing again and faced Xander a little tearful, “Bloody hell… should be… better than this Pet, been too long on the mend… and I… I’m sorry.”
Xander simply kissed the pale forehead and whispered, “It’s OK… really! You did great… Let’s give it another go in a while… then I guess I’d better head back to work.”
Spike made it to standing twice more and on the third attempt also walked three steps with Xander’s arm firmly around his waist before collapsing exhausted against his keeper.
Gently placing the slight figure back under the covers, Xander heated one pack of blood and held the glove as Spike fed a little, then stroked the sleepy vampire until he fell into a dream free slumber. His charge remaining happily oblivious until the human protector returned that evening.
A nervous voice came through the handset, “Ms Morgan? Just reporting that we have a digital image of the second person in the Harris case… the brother, shall I…”
“Oh for Hell’s sake… Just put it in the files! I have other issues to address… Where are the records of our dealings with Mr Hainsley… the necromancer…?? They should have been on my desk this morning… You have two minutes to find them!!!”
Stacy dropped the phone, filed the digital images in the ‘Harris’ file, then scrambled to find the archives requested. She bruised her hip on the side of the desk for the third time that week as she raced for Ms Morgan’s door without her walking frame and her talons skidded, unable to get a purchase on the polished floor. She handed over the documents with tears in her eyes, before limping awkwardly back to her desk, slipping at the door and injuring her already sore hip yet again.
The pretty red head returned painfully to the chair that now sported marks on the base where her talons regularly gripped as she worked. She grabbed her designer jacket from the back of her walking frame, buried her face in it, and wept.
Spike woke to the kind caress of his human protector, and smiled into the warm hug of his lovely friend pressing him into the bed and kissing him soundly on the forehead. But courtesy of his very good feeding and rising awareness, Spike’s faculties were beginning to return… And he heard the unmistakable whine of monitoring equipment. It was the same annoying sound that was in the training room of Wolfram and Hart with his sessions with Illyria.
He held Xander tight as his vampire senses located the source, whispering, “Stay still, Pet… seems someone has decided to watch us… lift your foot love and wiggle it a bit so I can figure where the sound is coming from.”
Xander replied also in a whisper “Sh$#!!” but did as asked.
In a feigned kiss Spike was able to convey the needed information, “It’s somewhere in the kitchen… Xan just… go make coffee and see if there’s any new additions.”
Xander found the barely half inch diameter camera and microphone neatly attached to the underside corner of the kitchenette cupboard giving a full view of the bed. Xander disappeared from view of those monitoring, quietly took a screwdriver from his bag, levered off the device and stamped on it hard with the heel of his new shoes.
He returned to Spike, “That’s it, we take Jas’s offer and move tomorrow.”
Xander rang Jason, then the landlord. Two days later he carried his lovely vampire downstairs and into the cool of the night for the first time since their arrival. Spike was wrapped in a new throw rug and his old duster almost as he had been when Xander first entered the building, but was now aware and grasped Jason’s hand fondly and conveyed his feelings with a thankful smile as he was settled into the car for the short trip to their… Xander and his… new abode.
Stacy panicked – the images and the sound had apparently stopped on the Wednesday, and now there was no sign of the pair… they were no longer in the hotel! But Lilah had refused to be interrupted let alone sign any more authorizations that week, she was still entirely preoccupied with a certain Bunny Hainsley’s case against the law firm. Stacy was genuinely worried about the tail and feathers scenario, having *just* learned to deal with a not really adequate set of lower limbs.
The young PA filed the report from the Wolfram and Hart security group, pushed the request for more equipment rather apologetically back across her desk to the now rather desperate looking surveillance team leader, then retired for the weekend.
A month later, Lilah was furious to learn of the loss of transmission and for all Stacy’s trouble, the girl had again been subdued and now sported a very obvious feathered tail, rendering sitting on a normal chair impossible. She also had a forward lean to her walk as her spine permanently realigned to accommodate the new appendage.
Her boyfriend (from within the company) had been understanding about her feet, but would not even answer her calls after the new change. Eventually there was a short note on her Email from the articles clerk, and her boyfriend was friend no more.
Lilah smirked as she arranged for a brass perch for behind the girl’s desk as a final reminder. It forced Stacy to lean against a purpose built padded bar when working at her desk and had the effect of causing the young PA’s tail to be seen by every passer by on that floor.
When difficult clients happened into the office, Lilah took great delight in asking her assistant to attend “With your perch”. Stacy was then compelled to take two trips into the meeting room, one with her laptop and material, and the second to struggle in with the brass bar. Lilah always insisted that it be placed in full view of all concerned, a forced display of both tail and talons to any ‘reluctant’ negotiators. Stacy was always relieved when refreshments were demanded as it gave her time to exit the room and cry… again.
Lilah was eventually bored with the girl and intolerant of her whimpering. Stacy was hospitalized in the work lab for two days, the doctors completely ignoring the physical difficulty she was in, and studying her, rather than bringing relief. Their report finally read that she was suffering, “Work related stress”, and was simply incapable of providing adequate service to the high powered Ms Morgan. She was transferred to the data entry section in the bowels of the building and forgotten.
By sheer fluke however, she literally ran into Rodney, a rather hirsute, nervous new file clerk with cloven hooves at the water cooler on her way to the lift on the second day (as it turned out, a former Surveillance team member on the Harris case).
Despite his damp front, courtesy of the collision, and their initial embarrassed stares at the physical forms, they began to see each other outside work. He was attentive, and sent her text messages three or four times a day for the next month.
They were lovers soon after, and for the first time since her changes, she felt accepted in the kind care of her new partner. Her claws gripped his tough hooves painlessly as they partnered and he had swiftly discovered that stroking her tail was a guaranteed ‘turn on’ for both of them.
Stacy was humbled by his attentions, and his anger at her plight... their plight. He adored her as she was now, but abhorred what had been done. So it was, Stacy recovered her senses a little after yet another amorous hour or so in their third month together, finally released her vice like hold on the thick fur covering his buttocks, and his decision was made. He quietly pledged his intent that some form of retaliation needed to occur… though was unsure of the form it might take without repercussions.
The apartment was lovely, airy and light, open plan and admittedly small but bigger than the hotel room and just… perfect.
Jason apologized for the north facing windows, but was encouraged when Spike reached up from the couch he had been eased onto by his lovely carer and gave Jason a chaste kiss, whispering “Perfect Pet, thanks… boy here deserves the best… and you’ve given it to us… thank you.”
Jason’s teary smile and promise to return with Mark that evening – with a meal was confirmation for Xander that they had made the right decision.
While Spike slept again as Xander fussed about the position of the very basic rented furniture and made a list what they would require. He then took to the cupboards and reviewed the very basic implements that Jason and Mark had provided. He was pleased that he had a few extra funds in addition to his wage for now. Post Sunnydale he had not bothered to accumulate, but if they were here to stay, some things would be needed.
It was Friday night, their third in the new space. He and Spike were propped up in bed between borrowed sheets and covered by two thick bath towels, Spike’s old duster, Xander’s great coat and the throw rug.
“Get what you like Pet. ‘S your money after all.”
“But we both live here Spike! C’mon just look at the catalogue for a minute… Come on! You have to want… something more than that … thing!” Xander knew it was a low blow, but Xander was feeling a tired. The feeding glove was sitting on their rudimentary sideboard, its bulging single teat stared at him like some obscene sculpture in the window of an adults only porn shop.
He was about to say something but turned to see Spike’s pleading look and listened to the master vampire beg. The Big Bad, who *had* been burned more times than anyone could count and of late, had been drugged into submission, trained, then finally rescued, let tears fall in desperation, “But I *need* that… please!! Don’t… please Xan… *please*.”
Xander too let his emotions spill over his cheeks as he lifted the teat, watched the vampire pierce the latex and held it sadly as the smaller male figure emptied the bizarre feeding implement, released it, then buried his human face in the safety of his protector’s neck and promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.
It was Saturday before Xander had time to truly shop, but was the ideal client. His list comprehensive, his tastes specific and his hand drawn schematics of the apartment complete with measurements, ideal. He had kissed Spike at nine in the morning and by three in the afternoon had spent a significant amount of money but was able to report that they were now the proud owners of various accoutrements of modern life. He was rewarded by a sleepy kiss and a hug that pushed their two interested erections against each other and hands that insisted he become nude… quickly!
Jason chose that moment to arrive at their new ‘neighbor’s’ door. Xander groaned and willed his errant member down, but the effort was wasted. He arrived with an invitation to enjoy Mark’s home made pasta later that evening… and could not help but grin at Xander’s hastily wrapped throw rug and the cheerful ‘Hey Pet’ from the bedroom.
It would be their first real ‘outing’ in more than one sense of the word. Spike smelt the trepidation and took his friend in hand, bringing his friend to completion and kissing him soundly before apologizing and asking for his feeding teat before they went out.
Xander complied, then smiled broadly as Spike and he worked toward Spike’s full recovery, walking the full length of the apartment and starting some weights exercises using (temporarily) a five pound bag of sugar. Jason promised to lend his friends some of his and Mark’s unused equipment as soon as Xander and Spike were settled.
Dinner was wonderful. Xander carried Spike to the door to be greeted by a tall, elegant brunette Mark, the partner as quiet as Jason was effusive.
Unexpectedly there were other guests, but it made for a pleasant evening… and the quite wonderful meal in good company was the first time Xander and Spike had truly been together and welcomed as ‘a couple’… ever.
Mark, Jason’s partner, was attentive and concerned, even though obviously the host for the evening. His welcome extended to providing Spike with extra cushions for their initial seated ‘drinks and dips’ but also making sure he had a chair padded with warm wraps discretely tucked below the table for dinner. The gentle man dwarfed Spike’s form, but was polite and engaging, and Spike did not disappoint.
‘William’ the academic was some hundred and thirty years older than most in the room and wonderfully able to hold his own despite his recent illness, to the point that Xander was caught several times simply staring in awe of the amazing person he had been blessed to find. Forgetting all about the pre chipping/ensouling/Anya moments in preference to simply wondering at the age and experience of his lovely charge.
Mark was a wonderful host and even better chef, despite or perhaps because of, his job as resident psychiatrist at the newly opened Westwood Hospital. The meal was beautifully paced and presented, the music in the background discrete and the company excellent.
The other guests were David, a copyright lawyer for the Disney organization, and his partner Michael, classical cellist and sessional player for movie scores; Miranda and Jeff – she a well liked Aussi actress apparently, and he ‘a lovely friend’ who had agreed to accompany her for the evening; and an elderly Jewish couple from the top story of the building.
Elijah and Rachel were well known in the ‘rag trade’ and had originally underwritten their two daughters, who had gone from their owning small shop to a Nordstroms regular, then switched to mens wear and now owned a controlling interest two of the top men’s wear companies across the world, boasting large establishments in the Golden Circle and forty other locations across the US alone. But Rachel and Elijah were uninterested in possessing the large homes and flashy cars of their children – preferring to stay in their own humble home according to Rachel (though Xander knew that they owned almost the entire city block – and were, in fact, his landlords!).
Jason made a fuss of the elderly woman, but it was William who stole her attentions for the evening. He charmed Rachel and endeared himself to the rather ‘crusty’ Elijah with questions of their childhood in Lithuania, commenting knowingly on the Italians’ ability to make fine prints, and quizzing them both on the first play he should take Xander to once he was fully recovered.
Xander nodded to Mark, signaling to him, that his partner was allowed a little wine. Mark leant over Xander to fill Spike’s glass with a fine Chilean red but as he pulled away, paused to whisper, “It’s the first time I’ve seen her *really* take to someone. Even ol’ Jas has his work cut out. Seems your lovely partner has the wisdom of the ages and the charm of Casanova… what does he do again?”
Xander answered with a well practiced line, “He was a student of the classics, traveled a lot and um… soldier for good, you know action, injury and illness… knew him before but it’s different now…just have to focus on getting him well.”
“He’s a special guy Xander, Jas told me but… anyways… glad you both came.”
Xander smiled at his gracious host, and touched the hand that held the bottle for a little longer than was a casual brush. “Thanks Mark… for Jason… and you and all this…”
Mark smiled easily then put his free hand over Xander’s and winked, “Heck, I’m expecting you to keep Jas out of my hair for the next two weeks redecorating your place while I’ve got my resident’s review. Then we can have a payback party. Sound fair.”
“Weeks? Speed shopper here… days or hours! Working man!”
“OK maybe not you… but you have to *promise* to let William keep Jason busy in the shops at least two afternoons a week as soon as your lover is well – or even before – hello wheelchair!… Hey… [winks] they were obviously *made* for each other! Intelligent, emotional, impetuous, fragile, young?? Hmm?? ”
Xander didn’t correct the last descriptor, but instead returned the squeeze, muttered, “Yup, and more than you know,” then turned his attentions to the other guests and his partner. And grinned as he noticed what Mark was already looking at.
Spike had switched from the dialogue with the elderly couple, to engage in an intense conversation with the pretty actress over the merits of watching a screenplay of a classic over reading the book, she delighting in his knowledge of the various original texts and witty dialogue, and he reveling in her intelligent repartee, easy laughter, wonderful skill with accents and apparently untouched, natural charm.
Xander would have been jealous but for the wickedly seductive look Spike occasionally shot his way.
Spike had been irreverent and genuinely friendly to all at the table, but by coffee was obviously grey and waning. Jason quietly squeezed Xander’s hand, acknowledging that they could all see it and it was fine to leave.
Xander did the same under the table to Spike and saw the vampire’s relief. They both thanked Mark and Jason, and they bade farewell to their fellow diners, before Xander lifted his slim partner into his arms and departed.
Elijah was the first to speak after the door closed. “Oi Gewalt… I had no idea! The dear boy… he was so…”
Miranda finished for him, “Full of life… filled with life… And yet he seems so…”
Rachel finished for her, “Sad. He has lost… many close to him, I am happy to guess… He has the eyes of a survivor… He has seen too much… Lovely boy though… Sweet boy… ”
Mark ventured his first public comment for the evening, “Well cancer is about grief, but I guess Jas and I are hopeful. Alexander well… you all met him… But you’ve got to admit they make a lovely couple… and well I hope you...”
There was resounding agreement around the table. The two new neighbors were *definitely* on the ‘please come again’ list.
Jason brightened with the consensus then switched gears, “Now Michael, you were telling us about your newest project…” And so the evening progressed.
Xander quietly returned to their new abode, tucked his lovely, already unconscious charge into bed then stripped himself quickly and simply spooned the smaller figure from behind. He blessed whatever deity had been with him earlier that day as he snuggled down into the heat of an electric blanket on low and pulled Spike closer.
“Ms Morgan?” The very new, very nervous, personal assistant waited for her superior to indicate she might enter.
“So?” Lilah tapped her foot, deliberately setting the young woman even more into panic mode.
“I… No… Um … they… they…”
“Do you want your tongue to stay in one piece? Because… anytime soon …”
The terrified blonde blurted out the rest in a babble fest that outdid anything Willow could have conjured in her days of junior high, “They’ve-found-where-he-works-and-found-some-other… oh *please* don’t give me other bits Ms Morgan!”
Wendy struggled not to sob and waited patiently while the alpha female of Wolfram and Hart took in the information, then almost fainted at the reply.
“Fine, just bring me the details.”
The next four weeks proved far less stressful than the hotel experience, partly because the man and the vampire began to settle into their new abode and a regular routine, and partly due to Spike’s improving health… though he still had his moments.
Particular behaviors seemed to coincide with bizarre dreams, leaving the vampire half way between asleep and awake. Xander now knew to simply push the duster close and feed Spike almost continuously with the glove until full consciousness returned. With the massive amounts of blood taken in such bouts, Spike had filled out and was walking on his own again. They now worked out together of an evening with the borrowed weights, and showered and ate together. What still wasn’t quite right, however, was Spike’s general mental state.
Xander had seen his friend homicidal pre chipping, pouting and petulant post; he had been obsessed/devoted to Buffy pre soul and crazed in a basement after; he had been brave and a friend to the end in Sunnydale… but this Spike… this vampire was as needy and as clingy as a small child. He waited quietly for instructions and only seemed willing to move from the curled position on their bed, or wherever Xander had left him in the morning, when his protector returned from work at the end of the day.
From time to time, over the ensuing month, Xander would suggest that they try something other than the feeding glove, but his somewhat recovering friend would begin to beg for it to remain. Genuine tears would fall as pleading blue eyes melted Xander’s heart along with any resolve.
If he suggested that the duster might be hung in the cupboard rather than held in the vampire’s arms during the daytime when Xander was at work, Spike would retreat into a corner, curl around the old coat in a fetal ball, and cling to the duster with a vice like grip. If Xander pursued the issue and tried to tug the leather away, the former ‘Big Bad’ would hold on for dear unlife and begin to shake as though in severe shock.
And if Xander suggested Spike go out at night – all the way out of the building - the previously fearless Master vampire would panic, pull himself tightly into his protector’s side, and began to breathe so heavily that Xander wondered if he needed to worry about his vampire passing out from hyperventilation.
All incidents were peppered with the same plees for clemancy… “No!!! No! Please… Xan! Please… Sire… I’ll be good! I *need*… I *need* this! I can’t…Oh Xan… I can’t… I [sob] … I just can’t! Please Xan… I’ll be good, I will! I’ll be good for you…” The begging was always followed by an almost catatonic state of sobbing and rocking that would only abate after many minutes of petting and quiet reassurances from his exasperated carer.
When Xander was home, Spike was generally calm and charming, so long as he had the human’s constant touch. Apparently the vampire was utterly at peace as long as he was in contact with any part of Xander, even if only a foot under a table or fingertips touching a thigh.
Jason and Mark visited several times, and a reciprocal dinner party saw a night of good take out food, classic movies from the thirties (playing as background atmosphere admittedly), and a very average game of mahjong, after they all drank a little too much.
The discussion was easy, Rachel and Elijah again charmed by Xander’s slim partner. Spike was obviously well read and well traveled and had a keen sense of history.
By the end of the night there was no way Rachel and Elijah, Mark and Jason, or Miranda (and a new ‘friend’ - name still to be remembered) could have missed the constant soft touches, the tender stroking or, in the end, the inert figure of Spike curled up in Xander’s lap snoozing happily.
As the others made moves to leave, Xander eased his sleeping friend onto the couch. He carefully covered the small male with a throw rug and bade farewell to their guests in the wee hours of the morning. Mark stopped behind for a moment, nodding knowingly to Jason who continued the short journey back to their apartment, before addressing their mutual friend.
“You know Jas and I think the world of you both right?”
“Well… yeah feeling’s mutual… although I think you might just have ‘But-face’ there….”
Mark looked shocked and utterly confused for a moment “Butt … what??”
Xander gave their friend a break, “But – as in I have just given you a compliment but *so* need to give you another message… ‘But – Face’ ie expression… ah geez not explaining, and *so* the babble guy… stopping now… Figure this is about my pretty partner right?”
Mark looked a little worried, “Xander, please stop me if I am out of turn. It just seems that Will is still very needy even though he’s had a pretty good physical recovery. I would venture that there’s more going on… He’s learned to be helpless and really needs to work through that.”
Xander looked worriedly at Mark, but the man’s face was a picture of friendship, concern and professional knowledge, along with a willingness to advise. He replied in a near whisper, “Will’s the bravest individual I’ve ever known, and if you’d seen… when I… he was *so* thin and so near to… And we’ve come so far but now it’s sort of a plateau, I don’t know what to do. Geez... Mark, he won’t even go outside the building! I’m probably doing him more harm by giving in to his… it’s just… oh… I don’t know!”
Mark walked forward and placed a strong hand on the brunette’s shoulder, “Don’t think that – it’s obvious you’ve been there for him but now how about letting me help if I can.” Mark waited while Xander’s shoulders tensed then relaxed a little.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“What? Nothing… Nothing!! No wrong implied! Just that… severe illness often ends up leaving as many mental scars as physical ones. Can leave folks feeling powerless, needy… um… fearful it will all happen again – strategies for dealing with those issues is where I think I can help.”
Xander looked back at the small figure sleeping on the couch, duster firmly in his grip. He loved the new Spike, but desperately wanted his friend strong and confident again. “What do I need to do?”
“There’s some really big things that need to happen, but I don’t know him enough to judge that, so for now maybe just start with some little changes. You know maybe you can gradually replace the behaviors that you feel are getting in the way of his recovery with more desirable, more ‘confident’, more independent ones. Praise him and reward him whenever he shows improvement – think of it like sports coaching. … And get him to tell you what he’s thinking if he can, no matter how bad it is, and work it through logically if he’s up to it… Seems like he needs to belong, and he adores you that’s for sure Xan… not sure what to suggest without treating him formally… But just ask *any* time you need help – we’re here for you Xander You do know that don’t you.”
Xander raised grateful chocolate eyes to the face of their lovely new friend. “Yeah… thanks.”
Spike stirred a little, rolling over and releasing the duster from his grasp. This was followed by a rapid return to consciousness and swift action by Xander, placing the garment back in the arms of his beloved vampire, as he looked apologetically at Mark. He was embarrassed for Spike whose reaction was semiconscious, the relaxed nuzzling into Xander utterly instinctive, as the item was gently replaced. But Jason’s lovely partner, their friend, took it all in his stride.
As soon as Spike was sleeping again Mark quietly suggested a few options then departed.
Xander wished he could have divulged his greatest worry – the feeding teat – but he suspected that such discussions would have led to his own incarceration in a nice padded cell, rather than any advice re Spike.
Mark hugged Xander as he left and whispered, “There’s a nice coffee shop two doors up… they open late – take Will after work… and get him to wear the jacket… just a suggestion.”
Two evenings later – a Monday – found Xander trying to convince Spike once again, to venture out. He had eaten well, three gloves full of just outdated human AB pos and a little top up of ‘Xander special’ straight from the wrist – though sadly the former still taken via the teat. Xander pleasured his pretty friend with simple strokes and gentle nips and licks as his lovely charge fed, the two forms of pleasure so obviously interlinked that the act came naturally now and brought as much pleasure to the deliverer as the receiver. Yet still the answer was an emphatic “No”.
Spike slept a little following his climax and denial of the request, but seemed to rally a little around a half hour later, and Xander took his chance.
He tugged the old duster from Spike’s arms and dropped it on the floor before wrapping himself in his lover’s tight embrace in its stead. He lay awake thinking as his lovely blonde friend continued to automatically stroke his protector – even in sleep. Xander thought about Mark’s words, his own knowledge of vampiric law and Spike’s own experiences.
So it was that as evening approached and Spike roused, Xander took a chance.
Spike woke, feeling for his duster but registered only the skin and strong body of his protector. He looked about alarmed and confused. But Xander was ready and before the vampire had a chance to panic, he started to lave and suck on Spike’s original claim mark, Angel’s mark. He’d never dared before, but now it made sense, there were sucker marks from Illyria overlaying those of vampire fangs, indicating a consequent claim that had endured unaddressed. Now another would overtake it.
Spike submitted to the feel over his mark and groaned as Xander bit down hard, obliterating the circular scoring of flesh and drawing blood with human teeth, continuing to take the obviously willingly given gift until his lovely friend spent without being touched and sobbed with relief.
Sire had finally taken him fully. Spike relaxed and allowed a tear to fall. His rescuer, an old friend, the one who felt like Sire, had claimed him at last. He took Xander’s proffered wrist and bit down reverently, taking but two drafts then licking the wound closed.
“Thank you Sire.” It was said with such adoration and awe that it was Xander’s turn to feel teary, but the sparkle in the azure blue eyes gave him hope.
They both snoozed in their embrace for a short while before Xander struggled to consciousness and as Spike’s awareness returned, it was obvious that the strategy had at least ‘moved the bar’ a little.
Spike rolled over and kissed his brunette lover, but unlike before, did not panic at the absence of his duster. He seemed content to simply touch his friend.
Xander praised and kissed his lovely vampire, stroking him to conclusion as a reward for his bravery. His resolve almost faltered as Spike arched silently, spent his seed, and sighed, ‘Sire’, before snuggling into Xander once more.
Taking a further risk, Xander waited several moments then kissed his vampire back before extracting himself and heating two bags of blood, offering Spike a mug of blood for the first time since he had been around him in Sunnydale. The look of distress was expected, as was the “Please Sire… Please?!”
What was different was the response to Xander’s voice. It seemed that the taking of Spike’s blood and consequent actions had indeed made a difference.
Xander addressed his friend in a commanding tone, “You will take of blood from the cup Childe, only then may you suckle for comfort.”
Spike acquiesced immediately and did as instructed.
By the end of the following week, the duster was permanently draped over the chair near the bed, and the feeding glove was only used for morning comfort as Spike tried to fall asleep again after Xander went to work.
A week later, Xander had been asked to attend an evening work function and could not come home in between. Spike made it to Elijah and Rachel’s penthouse suite under his own steam for drinks ‘by special invitation’.
It was a significant achievement. He managed to decide when to eat, when to leave, dressing, finding keys, leaving a note and, more importantly, leaving the duster behind. But he had promised Xander and would be gifted with Sire’s blood or the feeding teat that evening if he was successful.
The evening was delightful. Rachel and Elijah had invited another elderly neighbor Pauline, an aging wealthy ex New Yorker, whose ample form, bleached hair and easy laugh made for fine company.
The evening consisted of cocktails and fine music and discussions of literature and travel. The ‘older’ neighbors were again pleased at William’s genteel nature and extensive knowledge. The evening ended in an impromptu game of poker, played with the rice crackers from the cheese board as ‘collateral’. No one minded who won or lost.
Pauline was as taken with William as her two hosts, and upon exit promised her dear friend Rachel to ‘look out for that one’.
Spike returned to the haven of their home alone, but immediately felt Xander’s presence.
A sleepy voice and warm arms greeted him as he entered the bedroom, “Hey… Good time?”
Spike stripped quickly and joined his lover under the covers, snuggling down onto a broad chest before he answered, “They’re nice, but I missed you.” He was offered the wrist and the teat and took the wrist for the first time as a preference since his return. Xander grinned as the vampire bit down. Spike laved the wound shut and they both sighed with relief for very different reasons then drifted off to sleep.
Less than a week later, Spike and Xander ventured out of the building for the first time. Spike wore his duster and would be allowed to drink from the glove, if he needed, upon their return (that was the deal).
Vampire and human walked close together in the chill of the evening. If anyone had cared to notice, they were hand in hand.
They headed for the small bar/restaurant recommended by Jason.
They ordered drinks and tiramisu to share, adding to the rather handsome male waiter, ‘Juan’ according to his badge, that Jason and Mark said ‘Hi’. Juan grinned and he replied in a heavy Spanish accent, “I have been waiting for jyou to come! Jaison and Marko are the *best* – jyou have good friends!”
Juan was attentive and unobtrusive, delivering their hot chocolate ‘on the house’ at the end of the evening.
Two nights later they attended the restaurant again with Mark and Jason, staying so late that the night was completed with Juan and the rather portly but no less attractive French chef, Fabian, sitting at their table sharing a bottle of port and platter of leftover hazelnut and chocolate barquettes.
Spike engaged with Fabian easily, the chef and guest arguing good-naturedly (in fluent French) regarding the merits or otherwise of various quirks of French cooking, including truffles, brioche and a number of wines that Xander had never heard of. Xander was initially worried as he simply could not tell what the heated gesticulating was all about, but when Fabian roared laughing and grabbed Spike across the table to kiss him on both cheeks, then continue the rapid conversation, the human relaxed. There were definite flashes of the Spike of old shining through.
Mark leaned over to Xander and whispered, “Shoot Xander?! He is beautiful, I never would have thought!? One minute he’s talking to me about the intricacies of anatomy and the next he’s there with Fabian and in French! No wonder Rachel’s ready to adopt him! My Jas’s the one for me… but just look! Gahhh Xan… he’s wonderful… and you’ve done *such* a great job… incredible.”
Xander grinned at the lovely psychiatrist, “Yeah he *is* special. We’re not there yet, but hey, what you said made the difference. Anyone asks, I’ll be tellin’ them that I took some good advice from a friend, an expert!… So there you go… thanks… for everything.” Xander reached over and squeezed Mark’s hand.
Jason noticed and Xander smiled at him also. They all watched the recovering blonde as he engaged Fabian in an intense conversation regards the merits of double or triple cream when accompanying fine poached stone fruit.
Mark grinned and knew without a doubt. Their lovely neighbor William had much more to his story than he or Xander had divulged to date – not the least of which was the history of his fluency in French, knowledge of anatomy and obvious flair for literature and the finer points of gastronomy!
They all departed the restaurant around midnight, Fabian and Juan making their own way home, while Mark and Jason, Xander and ‘William’ took a leisurely stroll back to their apartments arm in arm with their partners.
Spike looked around twice. He kept hearing the whine of electrical equipment, but eventually put it down to his own paranoia at their first trip out. He grabbed Xander’s arm a little tighter and despite their relatively exposed position, pulled in for a passionate kiss while waiting for the crossing lights to change.
Jason and Mark smiled, happy to see their lovely friends finally beginning to enjoy each other in public again. Jason took the moment to give the usually reserved Mark a quick fondle and was rewarded by a nip to the ear and a “You’ll pay for that”, with the reciprocal naughty grin and a “Counting on it.” in reply.
Spike could smell their friends’ arousals. Xander didn’t need to. They all increased their pace and were home within minutes. But not before the Wolfram and Hart surveillance team had all they needed.
Spike fed from the glove, then he and Xander explored each other until mutual climax saw them both fall into sated sleep in the early hours of the morning
The following morning should have been perfect – at least in Xander’s mind, but there was the old argument again.
“I still bloody need it … *please* just a little?”
“I thought you were getting better… I mean we went out and we had … fun and…”
“No the same … *Not the same*!!! Please Pet… Luv… Oh Gahhh… Sire… *Please!!!*”
Xander finally gave in and filled a glove again before leaving for work. He tied it off and handed it to the vampire.
“Just… let’s get this straight… I need you strong Spike… I want you strong… but you’ve got to… help yourself too… Geez I can’t do everything!” He gave the vampire a cursory kiss on the forehead and very brief hug before storming out, feeling frustration and shame in equal measures regards the last half hour of conversation.
Xander was called up within minutes of attending the site.
“I’m a little confused, Mr Johns? Can you define for me what is wrong with my team in your opinion? We are on time, in fact our team is ahead of your defined schedule, which quite frankly, given the variable weather conditions, is a tribute to the group – and your choice of team, Sir.”
Xander stood, hard hat in hand in front of the rather cheap desk, matching the office that sported neither fan nor air conditioning.
The rather sweaty, rotund gent with watery eyes stood uncomfortably in the presence of two unnamed men as Xander fielded his questions. Nicotine stained fingers pulled at a loose edge of the veneer of his desk, and an overly rosy nose reflected both his after hours imbibing and current extreme discomfort.
Hamish Johns was a man in his late fifties, and had always enjoyed the patronage of Wolfram and Hart. He had benefited from tax breaks, several ‘favorable legal outcomes’ and advantageous negotiations, all in exchange for overlooking a number of dubious employees and several anomalies in the buildings’ designs – simply building to plan.
But occasionally Johns had the hard yards to do for his ‘advantages’. He liked Xander and could not give a toss regards his employee’s personal lifestyle choice – despite his investors’ concerns and having been provided with photographs from a ‘private source’. If they were prejudiced then it was not his concern – and if push came to shove, he would be sure to tell the unions as to *why* the employee that had proven himself time and time again, had been fired.
As far as Regional Manager Johns was concerned, Alexander Harris was one of his best project managers – with a history of large construction contracts and an impeccable record. Yet now he was being asked by the investors to move his best manager ‘sideways’.
What fascinated him was the trouble they had gone to find ‘dirt’ on his mild mannered and utterly competent employee. But Hamish valued his own job, so called Xander in to ‘discuss options’.
“There’s nothing wrong with your work, Xander… It’s just a… restructure of the company, that sort of thing.”
“So I’m losing my job?” Xander suddenly felt like the Xander of Sunnydale, pre construction industry. Yet another job lost – and how would they pay for the apartment if he wasn’t working?
“No… *no*… Alexander, you must know that I value your work immensely, but I suggest you have a chat to these gents. They are quite persuasive so I’ll understand if you want to move on instead of opting for another position here. You’ve done great work… terrific! And I’m also conscious that you’ve got some family responsibilities.” Hamish had been shown the anonymous photos by the W&H team but believed in a person having their own ‘quirks’ so long as it did not impose on their work.
Lilah had been furious that the site boss had been rather blasé regarding his newest employee’s sexual orientation, but unwilling to show her true hand, swiftly decided on a different tack. She approached the directors of the construction company and proposed a consulting position for one of their ‘newest and brightest’ employees.
Xander was sitting, rather stunned in his boss’s office only half listening… A promotion? After only a few months? “…So that’s it. I’ll understand if you do decide to go… Anyway, you’ve been called to head office. Congrats son, if you take the promotion you’ll be missed but I’ll be the first to say it’s well deserved. They have a car waiting for you now.”
Xander collected his briefcase and jacket before joining the ‘investors’ in the waiting limousine. Instinctively he knew there was something amiss as he entered the car, but the conversation with the pretty PA was cheerful enough. He was a bit puzzled by her choice of traditional sari and flowing soft pants and … rather unusual footware, but as the pretty woman smiled at him he relaxed and dismissed any queries.
They drove to an enormous glass clad black building downtown. His pleasant hostess seemed to be a little uncertain on her feet as she alighted and he helped her to stand, only to realize that the woman had some sort of physical disability and was struggling to navigate the polished surface of the entrance. He assisted her graciously but wondered at the severity of deformity that might have caused the need for such odd custom made shoes and all covering, flowing long black pants. It was obvious that Wolfram and Hart were an ‘inclusive’ employer but surmised it was the quick smile and intelligent wit of the woman as the reason for her work at the firm.
The young PA ushered him to the enormous board room on the twelfth floor.
Xander was aware that he did not have his resume or any other material one would normally take to a job interview/review with him. But it was seeing Lilah at the top of the boardroom and photos of and obscured Spike and he kissing… and their fuzzy forms making love in a Powerpoint loop that he realized his error in even entering the car.
“Welcome Alexander Harris. I always thought we would meet again. Now it seems you have a new little ‘friend’ and I guess we were curious… Oh we’re not particularly worried about your orientation – though that *is* fun (seems your employer really isn’t interested which is a shame!) No, what is more interesting is the idea that he is a vampire… oh yes Mr Harris we do know that. His ‘signature’ is also that of an old vampire – a master – what a delicious coincidence, given that we would love to have a Master around to ‘review’.” There was no mistaking the malice in her voice.
“And of course we would love you to join our ‘inner circle’, the directors of the entire building group with a wage plus bonuses. All you need to do is hand over your little friend. A Master vampire needs to be controlled after all!”
But Xander was a child of the Hellmouth, “Well not wanting to be ungracious, but gotta say guys? Not interested… Happy here and if that means I lose this job too well… hey… got the Tshirt for that.”
“I think you should consider carefully Mr Harris, it does seem your partner is at risk at the current time – indeed you may both be of interest.”
Xander was on his feet and ready to leave when Lilah spoke up. “It’s a pity… Ahhh to be twice denied… Seems you are of no use to us Mr Harris. Although, we do have one client who might have use for you, and is rather starved of attention at the moment. I have assigned you to her and look forward to you working in that capacity.
“Oh… and you *will* be pleased that your little ‘love interest’ will be looked after following your ‘change of workplace’ – part of Wolfram and Hart’s commitment to their clients. We *will* find him and I imagine he will be of interest given his ‘non-human’ status”. Xander panicked and began to stumble backwards and headed for the door before feeling the prick of a needle and registered with alarm Lilah’s last few words as he fell into blackness.
As he came to consciousness again he registered his own nudity, and that he seemed a little… stuck! He tried to pull away. The more he tugged and twisted, the more he became entangled. Panic ensued.
It felt like he was in a bizarre dream as the hairy appendages captured him, the barb punctured his thigh and his body only just coming into his control, immediately fell still, refusing to cooperate. He was paralyzed… He lay entwined and immobilized, staring up in horror as a myriad of eyes, eight hairy legs and a huge hairy abdomen loomed over him.
He wished he and Spike had not quarreled as he lay helpless while his body was touched by the furred prickles of giant spider legs. He somehow knew that he was to be dinner and wished Spike would forgive him for being so stupid, for being late, for abandoning him, for failing to come home with his O pos as promised, for not making love to him, for not... just for everything he had ever failed at.
He wished Spike might know, wished the vampire would run, wished someone might have noticed… wished someone would come… but his ‘reality chip’ kicked in and he knew, there would be no rescue… a second piercing of the barb led to the inevitable… he passed out.
Xander had no idea how long he had been unconscious. He was still oddly numb all over and utterly unable to move any of his limbs. He was aware enough to know that he had been folded into a fetal position and that he was being lifted swiftly by four of the spider’s eight legs. The giant arachnid then began to drag a thick sheet of silk and spin him in her arms as he was bound tightly like an infant in traditional swaddling. With no control of his own gaze, he saw the floor, the black hairy abdomen, the ceiling, the wall, then the floor repeatedly. Bound tight, he felt another sting as he was injected yet again, this time it was somewhere in his lower back. He would have cried with pain if he could but then felt an incredible lassitude overtaking his body as functions slowed to a near halt.
Bound as he was, he was still conscious, though now obviously without any control of voluntary muscles. Even his eyes were out of action, apparently fixed forward, though thankfully he was still able to blink, and his heart, lungs and other internal organs continued, though he knew at an impossibly slow rate. His digestion seemed to have slowed to a halt and bodily functions along with it (Though a day or two later Xander reflected that it might also be due to the final terrifying moments before his complete paralysis when his body had rid itself of the last of its waste).
He had no idea of time nor of how long he slept and did not sleep, but was merely aware that he was warm and ‘contained’. He was unbelievably thirsty and had no control over his tongue but did manage to groan as the Spider returned for the second time and dinner – two bodies up from his own hanging grave.
He could just see through the fine silk, though sounds were muffled. Xander’s concern was that he could see that he was suspended by in the ‘larder’ section of the web, along with three other wrapped forms. What worried him more was the hand sized spiders – obviously the infants beginning to emerge from the now empty shell of a fourth hanging figure. Obviously they had been gestating in the figure and were now making their own way in the world.
Being sucked dry in an afternoon suddenly seemed a preferable option to being eaten alive from the inside out by several hundred hungry young spiders. But in his current inert and tightly bound state, it was hardly his choice. His heart and breathing rates were out of his control too, but his tears were still his own. Xander let them fall and they kept falling until the silk holding his form was soaked through with the salty outpouring.
He slept again and woke with an utterly dry throat, cracked lips and a thumping headache. He contemplated that he would die of dehydration through lack of a drink far earlier than evisceration by his eight legged captor. One more day with no water and he would be unconscious with thirst and no longer need to worry about his situation.
He knew Jason would look after Spike… or would he? Xander sent a prayer to whatever higher power was listening, and asked that they look after his lovely friend, and that his friend understand that he had loved the vampire to the end, that he had not, *would* not abandon him.
It was late afternoon. Xander was not home. Spike waited, and tried to be brave.
There was something wrong. He felt it and drained his feeding glove… then went to the fridge and found the small jar of ‘emergency Xander blood’ that his rescuer, his lover, his friend who seemed so angry at him for being weak, always left. He stared at it and worried, eventually closing the door and returning to his vigil beside the phone.
It was a very long night.
He rang Xander’s mobile hourly. It was always off and switched to a voice mail immediately.
He rang Xander’s work early the next morning.
A chirpy voice reported that the office was closed so he rang Xander’s mobile one more time. It was still off.
Finally took a deep breath and rang Xander’s boss on his ‘emergency only’ number. It was seven am, Hamish would be leaving for work soon.
A male voice answered, “Johns’ residence.”
“Hello, I’m…William? Um… a friend of Alexander Harris? Sorry to trouble you but he… he didn’t return from work yesterday and I’m … um… just wondering if you knew… since he works with you and… there’s no-one in the office now and…”
“OK, let me stop you there son. Xander was off site yesterday – called to the head honcho’s office. I reckon he might have gone out to ... you know … ahhh … celebrate after… I wouldn’t worry, he hasn’t called me, but he’s probably on his way to work right now.”
Even as he said it, Hamish felt rather worried. Other employees had been ‘shifted’ by the investors in the past, requested to attend meetings with W&H, and never seen again.
For the most part he had turned a blind eye as they were the employees he had taken on under duress anyway, and many had been rather a burden. But Xander had been a *terrific* addition to his team.
The tall male from Sunnydale was obviously a skilled manager - efficient and fair in his dealings with subcontractors; effective in resolving the many problems that inevitably arose on a building site; and an intelligent and much liked ‘boss’ for all the workers under his supervision.
Hamish was also sympathetic of Xander’s status – the building industry had traditionally never taken kindly to folks ‘batting for the other team’. At parties, even he had to be careful, since his own daughter had a permanent girlfriend – though that always seemed easier to explain, as for some reason, two girls sleeping in the same room raised little suspicion.
Hamish worried. Xander was not only a good worker but a caring and *loyal* man. That he had not contacted his friend, or come home, seemed utterly out of character.
“I’m sure it’s all fine, son. He’s probably just decided he shouldn’t drive home. I’ll give you a call when he comes on site, but you make sure, if you haven’t heard from me, or he doesn’t turn up by the afternoon, you give me a call and I’ll contact Wolfram and Hart. And hey if he rings? Tell him he owes me some overtime!” The attempt at a jovial tone in the voice fell flat, and did nothing to placate Spike’s worry, and the ‘Wolfram and Hart’ reference made the vampire’s blood run cold.
They had Xander – he just knew.
He stood with the fridge door open, staring at the jar of Xander’s blood for a time, then gave in.
With an unnecessary inhalation, then sigh, he pushed the container into the microwave and heated it just enough before pouring it into the glove.
He would not panic, he had to be there for Xan, and he would not panic! As he watched the container circle, a small part of him hoped it was all a terrible mistake. That Xander had just stayed out for the evening to punish Spike. But he knew in his gut, that it was not true, Xander would not abandon him like that – not even for a night.
He filled the glove with a shaking hand, then grabbed his duster and curled up on the couch by the phone to feed. Xander’s blood. He should have felt just a little twinge of connection, but there was nothing. He pulled the duster up over his head, tugged the arm in close to his body and began to rhythmically caress the soft leather and suck the teat dry until sleep took him for the day.
Early evening, Spike woke with such a jolt that he rolled off the couch and fell to his knees, registering unexplained pain. The blood connection with his wonderful savior was wide open – and working! It crippled him with an urgent plea for help.
Spike had not felt such a desperate call since his connection with Angel and before that… Dru. The distress was coming from a muted source, but still strong enough to be felt.
Spike was frantic. It was undoubtedly Xander.
The old Spike would have tackled the problem alone and without thought, but the vampire was now too timid to even venture out of the building alone. Instead, he checked for messages on the phone and rang Hamish to alert him that Xander had not returned.
Hamish sounded worried. It was not a good sign. But there was no offer of help.
He did the only thing he could think of. Tears began to fall as he called Jason. Mark picked up.
The two men were at his door in seconds. They willingly embraced the distressed friend as Spike gave a halted account of his fears and the hours prior, and enough of the Wolfram and Hart ‘backstory’ that they might understand the potential danger.
“C’mon Will… we can do *something*… I mean… are you sure?!” Mark had taken on his ‘clinical’ persona, suspecting that their dear friend might be manifesting paranoia – given other difficulties discussed with his carer, it would make sense. To try to make sense of the situation Jason gave a quick call to the Johns’ home and sadly confirmed Spike’s story.
He turned in shock to the distressed pale friend, “Geez Will, what can we do? I mean if these guys are gangsters?... What about the police?”
Spike was now curled up on one lounge, while the lovely partners were seated on the opposite piece of furniture. He simply stated miserably, “Worse than Gangsters – Evil law firm, and it’s all my fault!”
Spike was not ready to divulge everything, but instead took what comfort he could from the two lovely neighbors.
The men listened as he confessed various details: first of Xander and their long time association; then of ‘taking on’ the firm after working for them and finding out regards top level corruption; of losing some fight with them, but escaping courtesy of a colleague Illyria who [they surmised] must have departed around the same time as Will, and taken him under her wing. He spoke of becoming increasingly ill over the following year; and an odd statement about ‘losing himself’ and being near final death; then of Xander taking him at Illyria’s request, and nursing him back to health… The blonde’s anguish seemed directly related to his guilt that now Xander was paying for his initial mistakes…
Jason squeezed Spike’s hand and reassured him that they would sort everything out, then offered to make tea, dragging Mark with him, as Spike curled in on his duster, his anguish almost beyond bearing.
Jason flicked the tap on and began to fill the jug as he whispered urgently, “So what do you think?? Come on dear heart… you’re the psychiatrist! What the *hell* was *that* all about? What *is* this all about?? F@#$!! Is he serious?” Jason flicked the jug on, then rounded on his partner hands, on hips, with a worried expression.
Mark’s returning gaze was unreadable, “I think he’s serious – at least from his point of view – and it all seems to line up – even Xander’s disappearance. I mean… he doesn’t strike me as the sort who would just ‘take off’, and the connection with this law firm and his disappearance is just too timely to be a coincidence. But I still don’t know what we can do?! We can’t just march into one of the biggest law firms on the globe and accuse them of kidnapping or something!”
“So what *do* we…?”
“We look after Will, number one. And maybe we can find someone who is happy to talk to that firm – you know, just ask around… I guess that’s all we can do for now… I agree with Will, the police will be pretty reluctant to march into those offices.”
“Geez, what a mess! So now what?”
“S$#@ Jas… I have *no* idea! For now we just need to be there for him. Missing persons stuff is horrid at the best of times, but this… this seems that much more sinister. There are thousands of people going missing every year – even if we do get the police involved, the chances are they’ll do a week or two of investigating and then file it along with the others. I guess we could get a PI onto it but, to what end I have no idea.
“And if what Will says is true – though it does seem a little far fetched - I still think that successfully charging a top law firm with abduction, no matter how good the evidence, is going to be a pretty tough call.”
Spike’s vampire hearing could clearly discern the entire conversation, but he remained still until the two returned and placed a cup of steaming hot tea on the table in front of him.
Jason and Mark began to draw their own conclusions. They knew from previous discussions that Will and Xander were long time friends. Jason had seen Will so sick that he could not even hold a cup or walk. They had the bizarre disappearance of Xander confirmed already by the employer, and the ‘last seen’ by Hamish defined as being Wolfram and Hart’s private car.
Jason and Mark sat either side of their distraught friend. The sometime concierge and aspiring actor took one of Spike’s hands in a reassuring grip, but it was Mark who spoke, “I’m not sure what we can do… but we’re here for you, OK?”
Xander drifted in and out of consciousness. Still unable to move, his tight cocoon and inert form gave him no option but to think when he was awake. He had gradually resigned himself to his own death. It was confirmed by his inert form; his overwhelming thirst and cracked, now bleeding, lips; the gradual but definite slowing thump of his heart; his hallucinations, lightheadedness and blackouts. It seemed inevitable. He simply waited for the strong jaws and cruel mouth to break through his covering and drain his carcass, or the sting of an appendage depositing eggs inside his form to consume him from within.
Now, in the few lucid periods, he alternated between sending prayers of love and devotion in the direction of his beautiful vampire, and despairing that Spike would somehow be caught in Wolfram and Hart’s net also.
Some time on the fourth day he could vaguely make out her form feeding from the body next to him, then felt her form move over him at lightening speed as he too detected shudders through the strands of the web, indicating a struggle, then heard the panicked cries of another human. The muffled sounds soon ceased and Xander knew. She had more food for her larder.
Spike rallied a little, at least enough to allow Jason and Mark to depart with various reassurances, then had a thought.
What followed was Spike doing something he thought he would never do. He all but destroyed the apartment looking for the collar he knew he had worn when with Illyria. He knew Xander had kept it, and even in his confused state, he had been aware that it had not gone to the trash, he could feel it!
Emptying every drawer and cupboard in a frenzy, he finally found the item in the back of the laundry cupboard hanging on a hook.
He took it down and with shaking hands buckled it around his neck once more, taking special care to stroke his claim mark. He then grabbed his duster and fell to his knees praying with all his might to the Powers, to Illyria, to any deity who would listen.
The Powers heard the cry for help from one of their former champions, and Illyria recognized the agony of her favored pet. Both responded.
Xander felt the return of his captor and his cocoon being lifted to her – it could mean only one thing. He sent a desperate prayer to his beautiful vampire and bade him goodbye, thankful for the time they had, and mentally apologizing for all the things he had done wrong… or not done. But he was quietly thankful that now he would not have to endure the wait any more.
Had he been more ‘alive’, he might have embarrassed himself as he was embraced by the prickly arms, but was so dehydrated that only a tiny drip of urine marked his final terror as he waited for the fangs to descend. Instead of fangs however, his worst nightmare manifested. She lifted him higher, pushing him against her abdomen and angled her body in an odd way. It was followed by an agonizing sting to his abdomen.
He knew what was happening. He was to be baby spider food. Two tears and a soundless cry of pain were the only indication of his terror before he passed out and her eggs were pumped into his inert and already over stressed form.
Spike was still on his knees as he received the terrifying and inexplicable sensation that Xander was bidding him a final goodbye… but then it was followed by more agony. He folded down, keened and rocked with grief. He knew without a doubt, he had been too slow, too late, too weak! Xander was dying.
And that was the scene the two very different beings found, as they stepped from their prospective realms…. one from a planar rift created by the call, and the old one from a dimensional portal answering the call triggered by her pet’s collar and the favored one’s extreme distress .
Spike scrambled behind the couch as the blinding light emerged but then answered the call of his Goddess Illyria, again in the form of Fred. He crawled across the floor as he had been trained to do and prostrated himself at her feet. She rewarded him by gently turning him onto his back and with a hand that swiftly morphed into one of her more natural fronds, she pushed into his mouth, and he began to suckle. She straddled him as he took comfort, and gently ground her pelvis against his ever burgeoning erection while he fed.
The familiar actions were now, as they had been then, a relief from the grief, and he calmed a little. But her body kept moving and she stroked his collar with her still human hand as he suckled, so despite his distress, he came hard. She rejoiced as her dear pet released, and continued to feed on a fluid that embodied her joy at seeing him physically recovered and her protectiveness. He would not want for assistance.
She had noted his healthy state and felt his angst as she entered his dimension – and was also aware of who had caused it. She was even more determined to assist the mortal who had nursed her cherished possession back to fitness. She had not been wrong with entrusting her pet to that one. She caressed the collar again.
Spike slowly rolled over onto his belly, and attempted to push up, but instead found himself lifted in an iron embrace and held like a small child in the diminutive lap of the Fred/Illyria persona.
The glowing white figure finally spoke. “Old One, we understand that you have taken this… vampire as a pet.”
Illyria cocked her head to the side, enormous blue eyes staring at the being, “He amused me, and was fierce in battle. He was pleasing to my eyes and responded well. He is a half breed, but is responsive to training as you see. I would keep him but my dimension is not for him. He was a fine pet and I wish to help him as I do intend (from time to time) to visit his realm. But for now his carer is in peril. The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart are at the nub of the problem, that is obvious. Are you here to assist?”
The white figure paused for a moment then nodded, “I am aware of William the Bloody’s history, and that of his friend Alexander Lavelle Harris. The former William, Spike is the only vampire to first fight for the greater good because of connections with humans; to seek out the soul and fight for it; to survive the transition then give up his own existence for the greater good; return and do it again! Why, on any plane, would you not think us interested in these beings!?” The glowing figure moved to where Spike could also see her, then delivered its final message.
“I can deliver him, but you must be strong. He will need to be turned, as he has been violated by his captor and carries her eggs. Ridding him of those will result in his death, thus your soul should be placated, his life is forfeit regardless of your actions. Should you choose to turn him, we will grant you his soul… as an acknowledgement of your services to us.” The glowing figure then turned to Illyria.
“Old one, we ask that you rain vengeance upon the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart – at least those that are deserving of it. We give you our protection in this process, and, if needed, we shall arrange the release of another of your choice from The Deeper Well. There is a particular threat that must be dealt with, one Lilah Morgan – she and her section of the LA branch must be eliminated for the sake of balance.
“We are aware that she has violated many, even within her own organization, so your input might be… merely one of ‘admiral’.
“*We* will deal with the Senior Partners of the Wolf, the Ram and the Hart. We are the counterbalance. And we acknowledge your assistance Old One. This is a joining of primal forces and we appreciate your willingness to cooperate. We recognize and endorse your reign in return.”
Illyria had been caressing her pet throughout the speech, but finally pulled her frond from the now semiconscious, Spike’s mouth, stripped him of his lower clothing and began to caress his nether regions with intent.
She was still essentially in her “Blue Fred” form, so addressed the representative of the Higher Power. “I acknowledge your power, and grieve for your lost champions, and for my pet.
“It is an imperative that we restore them to their partnership, as I wish to enjoy him again in the future. The human’s status is of little relevance, but I acknowledge his efforts. I also know that my pet enjoys his carer’s original nature. He may have only been a lower being so should thank the vampire for raising him to a half breed, his soul will make his nature more… affectionate… as is consistent with the human species.” Illyria stroked over her beloved’s nether regions and smiled knowingly as his member responded. Spike was riding high on her fluids and arched into her touch.
Illyria continued to speak and stroke as she snapped a classic cockring onto her pet in full view of the higher being. “I gather you will deliver him? It seems his state is most precarious. And I wish to deal with the violators of my property’s keeper.”
The glowing being simply nodded and asked, “Whom would you wish released?”
Illyria cocked her head sideways, stilled in her ministrations of her pet, then dropped her tone to a frighteningly cold base, beyond any the former Fred might have managed, “Jaquin”.
The blue figure continued to pleasure the pale figure in her arms, probing Spike and bringing him to completion almost as an after thought while the Higher Being spoke.
“It will be done as you request, restore your charge and we will return his protector from Arach’s lair. Jaquin will have three days to complete his task, then we will release him to his own dimension. We will not forget your willingness to assist Mighty Illyria.”
Illyria looked directly at the being and felt… moved… “And for that I am… grateful.”
She gently released her now sated Pet, placing him gently on the lounge. Spike was aware of his vulnerable state but could not care. The mistress had entered him and brought him to completion just as the glowing being smiled, nodded and promptly disappeared.
Spike lay quietly, his nether regions, stomach and thighs still being stroked lovingly by her frond, as she spoke of his new role. “You are to sire a new half breed my pet. Your protector will not survive otherwise. Do you understand? Your human protector is dying, you must turn him. Then we will smite those who dared to violate the savior of my property. Jaquin is a fine choice for such a task.”
Spike was still only semiconscious but nodded mutely.
“I will return to you from time to time, my dear pet, but time moves differently in our dimensions so you must be brave. You and your childe may not see me for many decades. It will require you to be strong. I wish you to do this for me. Be well and strong until I return.”
Spike simply nodded again, then spoke, but was still disorientated from the frond and his recent pleasuring, “Missed you *so* much Mistress… When?... And Xan?... I um… how??”
Illyria’s frond moved into the human hand form again and stroked the side of Spike’s face adoringly. “Oh my dear Pet. All will be answered shortly – but now I must take my leave.” She kissed him firmly on the lips before standing and slipping into the portal that opened mere inches from the lounge suite.
She turned just in time to see the enormous prey mantis like figure of Jaquin manifest on the other side of the room, holding a human figure in his grasp and lowering his jaws to bite down into an oddly bulging abdomen. Her last words to a horrified Spike were, “Fear not Pet. All will be well.”
Xander had felt himself plucked from his place on the web then, through the haze of web covering his eyes, caught a glimpse of his ‘rescuer’. Had he been capable he might have screamed, but as it was he simply accepted. His death might prove swift after all.
It was only as an odd spinning feeling marking a shift of place – or portal travel - and then his bindings were removed by careful incisors, that Xander wondered if he might be in the hands of a savior. He could feel the burgeoning bulge inside his abdomen, and registered pain as the small creatures began to break free to feed, but he was too dry to cry or speak, hoping his rescuer knew the problem. Instead he was aware enough to register the enormous being holding him tight as it plunged its huge jaws into his side and began cleaning out the ‘brood’. Xander passed out instantly with the pain.
Spike was barely consciousness and in shock, as he felt Xander’s inert, bleeding form being laid carefully in his lap by hooked blue green legs.
He looked up and assumed the rescuer to be the Jaquin Illyria had spoken of. He smiled weakly and thanked the original demon. The enormous insect like creature simply nodded, then took his leave.
Spike could hear it, Xander was within seconds of death as the gaping wound in the human savior’s side bled out.
Spike scrambled to place his friend down on the floor, squashing the form of a half formed fist sized spider as he did so (apparently a survivor that had not been consumed by Jaquin as he rid the body of infestation).
Spike’s demon came to the fore as Xander’s blood assaulted his senses.
He could hear the heart faltering. He swiftly opened his wrist and pushed it to the chapped lips as he began to lap up the precious blood flowing from his friend’s side. When no sucking was evident he began to massage the neck so the fluid might still flow and felt the response. Xander was still deeply unconscious and on the way to death but his body responded enough.
The breathing ceased and a minute or so later, the fluttering heartbeat finally failed. Within seconds, and true to their word, a flash occurred and Spike’s newly made, yet to rise Childe had a soul.
Some time later that evening, the shell of an unfortunate security guard now containing a different essence, moved from his van in the underground carpark to the lobby of Wolfram and Hart. He took over the shift, then began to plan the assault.
Jaqiun was ‘in’.
Spike was in a daze. His Mistress had been here and had fed and pleasured him, and then his carer had landed in his lap, and now… and now… He went by his instinct, pulling his new Childe into his lap. He embraced the violated form of his savior before lying him flat once more and letting tears mix with his saliva as he continued to lick his partner’s wound closed long after the action was needed. Then in gameface he rhythmically and obsessively, went on to lick every inch of the now former human. His demon finally assuaged, he arranged the violated body carefully, rigor mortis thankfully absent courtesy of the human’s changing status.
The lack of stiffness was merely helpful in his final act, it made little difference to Spike. He had been too weak. His Xander was dead, and it must be because of him. Now he would have to be strong, because Sire was always the protector and now their roles had been permanently reversed.
A day later, to the rest of the world, Xander appeared to be sleeping comfortably on his back, head cushioned by ample numbers of pillows and body covered by a soft acrylic blanket. Closer scrutiny however, revealed the deathbed pallor of the skin and blue tinge to the color of the lips.
They had never spoken of turning Xander, indeed the idea of Spike becoming a Sire in the last months seemed ludicrous, so weakened by the experience with Illyria that he still relied entirely on Xander. Now everything had changed. In reuniting with his Mistress Illyria he should, theoretically, have regressed, but instead he had felt first sated, then reassured. He concluded that perhaps, somehow during the carnal act with Illyria, or in the restoring of Xander’s soul, the Powers and/or Illyria had changed him, because Spike had awoken from a light snooze beside his new Childe feeling ‘whole’. For the first time in *years* he felt… strong, centered and at peace with himself.
The former ‘Big Bad’ pulled away from his charge and moved to do something he had not been game to do since before his departure with Illyria. He threw open the curtains, and opened the door to their tiny balcony, and stood alone without fear in full game face then roared into the night.
The roar was his grief and anger embodied. Xander’s body was in the next room and he had lost his friend, his savior, his human Sire. Yet in his haze of blood tinged tears, he pondered the most terrifying part this whole process - his failure to save Xander leading to having to turn a friend when neither had even discussed the option seriously, and hurting as he contemplated his forced new role as Sire.
He *knew* with every essence of his being, that he was grateful for being granted his unlife back, even if he had been too late to find his wonderful human alive, at least now he could care for the new Childe Xander had become. For the first time since before Sunnydale even happened in his life, he knew his purpose and felt whole.
He returned from the night to join his Childe once more. He embraced his dead friend, entangling legs and arms and pulling him close, and continued the vigil while his Childe’s body restored itself and the new status took hold.
Jason had left five messages and Mark three on the answering machine by the following day. Spike could not bear to pick up… How was he to explain the situation? He had told them enough to be able to ask for their help, but now… now was something quite different.
He returned their call when he knew they would both be at work. Clutching the phone so tightly there was risk of him crushing it, he dialed their apartment.
It was Jason’s voice on the message, “Hi, You’ve called Jason and Mark. We can’t take your call at the moment so if you would like to leave your name and number and the time that you rang after the tone, we will get back to you as soon as we can.”
“Hey Jas? Mark? I’m so sorry not to have called you back… but um… something has happened… and I’ve found Xan! He’s been really… [Spike’s voice hitched a little] well um… I can’t *tell* you how much you fellows have done for us but please give me one more day before a visit OK. I’m fine… it’s just… Oh Bloody Hell… You’ll understand when you see him again OK!”
He hung up then let out a frustrated growl as he fell into game face again. He dropped the handset and took solace in lying beside his now dead lover, continuing his vigil. Xander would perhaps awaken the following evening … surely?!
Jaquin waited until morning to wander into the bowels of the building, his temporary form moving rather awkwardly, though few of his colleagues noticed and those who did, were uninterested. He wandered to the data processing area, as people arrived for work, nodded at a few of the people sitting in various cubicles and listened. He needed to find this ‘Lilah Morgan’ and the others on her team that might be part of the attack on the vampire’s human companion.
One pretty woman struggled in using a walking frame, accompanied by a handsome male with legs that appeared to articulate an odd way. He stood at the water cooler and watched as the quiet man assisted the woman by swiftly removing her shoes and relieved a feathered tail of the skirt that had been concealing it.
Jaquin smelled both of them – still human, and wondered at the cruelty that must have driven such violations of their form.
The couple kissed and the woman held her partner for a minute longer, resting her head on his shoulder.
“Are you hurting already, baby?”
“It’s not so bad today… More about just this morning… you know seeing Wendy struggling – I didn’t know… I mean I knew about Ms Morgan taking Wendy as her PA of course but Rod…what could she possibly have done to deserve that?”
“Seem to recall yours was just about shoes, Stace. Don’t think she’d need much of an excuse, do you?”
“I guess not… Could be worse I suppose – There have been so many ‘disappearances’ lately, I guess at least we’re still here.”
“That we are lover, that we are. Now come on, let’s worry about the problems with the lady on the twenty-fifth floor at the end of the day.”
Jaquin watched as the young man gently lifted his friend onto a custom built perch, easing her forward until she rested her torso comfortably against a padded stand. He then arranged all her desk items so they were within easy reaching distance.
She sighed as she settled and kissed him lightly as he brushed past her, “Thanks honey.”
“You’re welcome… See you at lunch.” With that, the man moved off, his gait confident but still rather awkward.
Jaquin had heard what he needed and took the elevator to the twenty fourth floor nodding politely to a young articles clerk as he exited the lift and wandered down the corridor to the fire escape. He climbed the last story and emerged on the floor of his target. But he was here for some reconnoitering not for killing. There was plenty of time for feeding later.
The plush carpet and rich dark colors on the walls easily identified this floor as one of the executive ‘elite’. He swiftly found a young woman identified on her desk name marker as ‘Wendy Malkowitz’. She smiled and nodded as he wandered down the corridor in what appeared to be a ‘routine pass’. The old demon noted the pretty female’s rather odd backless stool at her work station, then noted that she had her shoes off. There were furry paws instead of feet pushing out from the base of her suit pants.
She smiled sweetly and greeted him. He nodded back and tipped his cap in a polite gesture of acknowledgement.
There were four cameras in the corridor and no doubt more in Lilah’s office. Cameras were easy to disarm, what worried Jaquin was that he would make his escape swiftly and without detection.
He knew that like Illyria, he could manipulate time, but her instructions were to make the pariah, one Lilah Morgan, suffer before she died… apparently again and this time for good with the help of the Higher Powers.
Jaquin was worried that his voice was not adequately human but fortunately she was on the phone at the time, so he scribbled a kindly note to the young PA and pushed it across the counter..
“All seems in order. You’re a trooper, keep up the good work. J”
She put her hand over the mouthpiece, rolled her eyes apologetically and whispered ‘boss lady on a bender again… sorry’. After reading the note she, grinned and mouthed ‘thanks for this’ at him then went back to her conversation.
Jaquin continued his observations on the floor for an hour or so, mapping every aspect, he was satisfied and would act the next day.
Xander woke in his own bed. He was embraced by the arms of his vampiric friend, but it felt like more than that. He felt love and family and content, and all in a way that did not quite make sense.
His last memory was of the spider and of pain, yet now there was none. Overwhelmed by the assault of thoughts, feelings, memories, and newly heightened senses, he … began to cry. Spike felt the distress immediately and pulled his Childe close, pressed the changing visage to his neck and encouraged his offspring to feed.
Xander’s bite was deep and as he sucked the red ambrosia he felt it at a most primal level Sire, Love, Sire, Devotion, Care, Protection, Sire!!
As he pulled for a final time on his maker’s neck, the ex human came without being touched, then instinctively bared his own neck.
Spike drank of his Childe as was custom, but only enough to mark his beloved again. He reserved the replenishing of his own blood for later – via an appointment with a microwave and a number of bags of O pos.
Xander was still only half aware, groaned as he was marked again then simply rolled into the wonderful scent, snuggling down feeling sated and safe. Sire was here. In the rather addled state of his current consciousness, he groaned “Sire”, then took an unnecessary breath and returned to slumber. This time Spike slept fitfully also.
The new Sire came back to awareness with a jolt as Xander came to full consciousness and called across their natural bloodlink in confusion.
His Sire rolled toward his first Childe and fed him again. Still without speaking, the young one suckled for a time as Spike stroked his sex. Within seconds of spending his seed at the hand of his Sire, Xander fell away from his feeding and gave in to sleep once more.
Spike eased away from his new Childe, letting him rest while the master vampire rose to take a large amount of blood. The Powers and her benevolent highness Illyria had both contributed to his ‘stash’ and the fridge was stuffed full and ready. His Childe’s current pattern of feeding and sleeping could go on for another day or so, but Spike was hopeful. The more the fledgling was able to eat and rest in the first few days, the stronger he should be in the end.
Spike smiled as he satisfied his own hunger. He still took comfort by drinking from the glove – but now it was accompanied by a joyful feeling of connection and trust, not one of dependence and need. The newly restored Master Vampire grinned, brushed the collar he still wore and sent a heartfelt prayer of thanks to his Mistress Illyria for not abandoning him.
She felt his lovely tribute and sent a cross dimensional message of love for her pet, and a pledge… He and his fledgling ‘half-breed’ Childe would always be under her protection should they need it. He felt her message in his gut – and returned his further gratitude and devotion.
Jaquin eventually had all the information he needed, devised a workable plan and made appropriate arrangements. He ‘clocked off’ and returned to Xander and Spike’s apartment. He knocked quietly then moved to the underground carpark again. He found an alcove with a large number of bags of shredded paper were piled high awaiting disposal. He stretched out on a few of them at the rear intent on rather unhappily snoozing for the rest of the day. He needed to feed properly but would wait until the evening or even the following day. He was a carnivore, he was used to being patient.
Spike fed and pleasured Xander three more times before the young vampire came to full awareness around midday the following day. He had left his Childe sleeping, sated once more and moved to yet again replenish his own blood levels. He had just finished a second feeding glove full when he heard a rather tentative voice. “Spike? Where…? Holy s*%&!! Spike? Please I need... um… Oh…”
Spike flew to his side and pulled him up into a tight, reassuring embrace, “Sssshhh Luv, no need for panic.” Spike stroked Xander’s hair rhythmically and began to purr. Xander’s demon responded instantly and he calmed.
“Oh Spike… I didn’t mean to fight with you that day, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry… and you still came for me. It was you, wasn’t it? ‘Cause it … well it was all so muddled, and there was so much pain and I thought… Oh Spike!!” Xander buried his face in Spike’s neck and without thought began to lick over the healing wound he found there. It was an instinctive and comforting act, as Spike’s quiet baritone rumbled through his chest, soothing him almost as much as the purring had while he listened to the account of his rescue.
When Spike came to the part about Jaquin and the removal of the newly hatched spiders, Xander began to shake violently. Had it not been for Spike’s strong embrace, he would have given in to the urge to scream and sob with the remembered pain and fear.
Spike was on the edge of tears himself as he continued in a soft, what he hoped loving tone. “But it was too late Xan – even with The Powers and Illyria, we were still too late. I’m so sorry sweetheart… I was so weak… so we were too late. But I couldn’t lose you, never you… then they promised… and they said you’d keep your soul, so I um… Oh Xan… I um…”
Xander stilled instantly, pulled out of the embrace enough to give a wide eyed stare of realization into Spike’s rather tearful azure gaze, before whispering, “You…turned me?” It was not so much a question as a statement. Spike simply nodded and allowed single tear to track down his cheek.
Xander said “Oh.” before returning to the hug to contemplate what that meant, how he felt about it. His felt his demon, quiet and content as the fledgling sat wrapped in his Sire’s arms. His soul was anchored, he knew that too somehow. But he was still a vampire, still one of the undead. They had never spoken about his wounded charge turning him, but what else could Spike have done? What would he have done if their roles had been reversed? And the Powers that Be had all but forced Spike’s hand with the promise of the soul. He had already been effectively dead, now he had Spike until they were both dust… *Sire* until they were both dust … and he realized his demon instincts had corrected the name for him… He was in the arms of Sire…
Spike worried as the tense silence extended, but then he felt Xander beginning to nuzzle at his neck again in full gameface. Spike felt the sting, then the pull and let him take a mouthful before allowing his own face shift and reciprocating – completing the blood circle and letting Xander feel the truth of family through the red liquid.
Both vampires groaned and began to sense their mutual arousal. Spike almost came as Xander pulled off his neck and lovingly sighed “Sire” into Spike’s right ear. He too finished drawing blood, and claimed Xander’s mouth in a kiss that began fiercely possessive, and ended many minutes later with a passion that saw them both completing without touching their nether regions. Spike in his jeans and the nude Xander in the sheets that were still tangled around his lower half.
Coming down from their mutual high, Xander whispered, “I love you Sire”, and received “And I you Childe” in return.
They lay down together feeling sated and relaxed, and continued gently stroking each other, while they began to contemplate their unlife together.
“Guess I’ll have to give up that dream of being that well tanned professional life guard huh…” Xander turned to Spike and grinned.
“Dunno Pet, all those night surfers need protecting too… be a whole new dimension to the service… course I guess you’d have to be officially called an ‘unlife guard’.” Spike flashed Xander a wicked smirk then became quite serious. “Bloody hell, Pet, we’ll have to sort some funding – I’d bet my last rahzou that the bastards in that law firm have declared you deceased and frozen your assets.”
The loud buzzing of the phone interrupted the conversation as the panicked voice of Jason began to leave a message. Spike all but flew to the phone and picked up.
Jaquin had set the trap in the wee hours of the following day.
Wendy Malkowitz arrived for work early as usual, kicked off her shoes and started up her computer ready to check Emails and review Ms Morgan’s schedule. She had learned the hard way that being under prepared for Ms Morgan meant serious consequences under anesthetic.
Lilah waltzed into the building around an hour and a half later. She had requested no meetings be scheduled for that day and was quietly confident that her stupid little PA would have made certain that her instructions were followed to the letter – especially after her permanent reminder of the consequences a fortnight or so ago. Lilah mused smugly for a moment. The doctors in the lab were becoming more and more expert at the limb transfers. It was lucky she could find them so many ‘volunteers’. Without a doubt the money made from selling the extra parts and performing the human transplants direct was a masterstroke when trying to cover the expense of the more innovative experiments in the Special Projects division.
Lilah hardly even looked at her secretary, but noted that the girl’s shoes were off, so dispensed with greetings and simply commented in a haughty tone that dripped venom, “If you need to flaunt your new extremities, I will assign you to a place in the building you can display your assets fully for the viewer’s pleasure.”
Wendy gulped, swiftly shoved her paws into the uncomfortable shoes.
She dropped her eyes as she handed Lilah the mail for the day. It was a neat pile already categorized and color coded with a confirmation note on the front to say that there were no meetings scheduled. Her only reward was a “Humpf.” Wendy hoped that it would be good enough to get her out of being one of the 'features exhibits' at the demon strip club provided for some particular clients in Basement 3 of the building.
The young PA was so tired of being frightened every day, that, when a call came from someone in the Filing and Data Entry division to say she was being moved – effective immediately - she simply cleared her desk into small storage box resignedly, and struggled into the lift, pushing the button for floor B1.
Rodney had struggled into the office looking decidedly drained. Stacy had had a very bad night.
The new structure of her back and legs was simply not designed to carry the upper body of a human, so he had, yet again, spent most of the night administering painkillers, massaging the cramping muscles, and holding her while she cried. They needed new furniture at home, he had decided.
She was unable to sit on the lounge suite unless on the very edge or even lie comfortably unless facing the back. He had spent some time on the bus to work designing something that would bring her both relief and comfort… a *seat* not a perch. He was sure that a good part of her current distress was due to having to stand all day.
He had kissed her tenderly, then rung in sick for her. It was the third time in the past month – soon she would be risking her job due to absence – and then what?!
His own legs were less problematic, and though his joints ached, often, at least they were designed for a larger animal, not a bird.
He looked at the pile of memos on his desk and sighed then noted the top one.
“Transfer of staff:
Who: Wendy Malkowitz from Lilah Morgan’s office to Filing and Data Processing
When: Effective immediately
Action: Make Ms Malkowitz comfortable and assign tasks as appropriate
Special Note: She has been part of the Special Projects’ volunteer program so may need a modified work station.
Rodney had no idea who the particular HR person was, but knew enough that the poor girl had suffered as his darling Stacy had done. He fisted the paper in anger, then had to straighten it out again. He was determined, ‘Wendy Malkowitz’ would be made felt *very* welcome and appreciated by their division.
He hurried out to arrange an office space for her on the floor.
Two hours later, the girl in question struggled from the lift and was met by friendly greetings and kind words.
She noticed that a number of the individuals had ‘altered’ forms. Apparently her now former boss had more than one grudge to satisfy. So when Rod finished the introductions, showed her to her desk, then gave her an encouraging, “We all really do know what you are going through.” She almost burst into tears, but instead, smiled and kicked off her shoes. She knew for a fact that no one in *this* division at least, would mind!
There was no-one in the corridor as Jaquin ‘did his rounds’. It seemed that the executives in the other offices on the floor were all extremely busy.
The structure of the floor meant that Lilah had almost an entire side of the building to herself. She had her enormous office, a large meeting room plus two smaller ones for negotiations, bathroom and food preparation area, storage room and her PA’s diminutive office.
The old one walked into the PA’s office. He knew that the camera for that corridor would show him entering the office of the young assistant, but also that he could disable the camera from a panel in the office itself. He did so swiftly, and held it disabled for around a minute before replacing it. Anyone watching would merely assume a ‘glitch’ and that he had spent his designated ten or so seconds then left via the the unmonitored emergency exit as was his custom. At the same time he pushed the ‘Record Only’ button for the cameras in Lilah’s rooms. It was a precautionary measure installed to protect some of her less ‘savory’ characters from the eyes of underlings. Unless Lilah hit the ‘Save’, the video images taken would not be preserved. And even then it was password access only, for her, the CEO, and the Senior Partners.
He knocked quietly on Lilah’s door then let himself in without invitation.
“What?!” Lilah didn’t even bother turning her chair to face the door, instead simply snarled, “I have *told* you, so this better be good Wendy, or it’s tails-r-us for you, got it?!”
Lilah turned just in time to see the form of the security guard split down the centre and unfold, much as a mature cocoon might, revealing an enormous pray mantis. Initially too stunned to move, she missed the opportunity to alert other security staff as she was plucked from her seat by the lightening strike of front attacking arms, with a speed and accuracy typical of his species – even his tiny cousins on earth.
She was suspended by barbed legs that held her arms fast and surrounded her unliving torso completely. Her feet were no longer touching the ground and she faced the visage of a vicious insect predator whose feelers were bent over against the ceiling, despite the particularly high architecture. Though she was held fast she refused to scream. There was no point, all the offices were sound proofed. Her only hope was the cameras.
Lilah quelled her natural terror and began to use her most seductive voice, despite an initial waver, “I’m very … ahh *pleased* to make your acquaintance…. But I’m sorry, my PA must have missed noting our appointment… and you would be?”
Jaquin mustered his best his best ‘human’ voice, at least one that might be heard. He understood the current language, it was primitive and simplistic, so he translated his message in the same terms. “You have hurt an Old One’s Pet, and violated a former champion of the Powers. It is also evident that you are disrespectful of the beings that are your co-workers, loyal to a fault to the Senior Partners until your decisions to ‘alter’ them. The Senior Partners are complicit in this venture as they too work to find balance in this realm, something you seem determined to destroy for your own advancement, by manipulation or viciousness. You have chosen to violate the balance. I am the deliverer of their retribution…"
Lilah attempted to spit her answer out, before being permanently beheaded by the mantis, but Jaquin did not do as expected. Instead he delicately nipped off her hands and feet, then scalped her, dropped her bleeding form and consumed the parts, as she watched. She passed out by the time a second appendage, her own left foot, was crushed and consumed by the deadly jaws.
She came to, but had no idea of when. Despite her disorientation, she registered his almost subsonic voice.
“Your agenda has not served the purpose of the Senior Partners, or the Powers. We have all worked so hard to seek balance. We old ones have slept for over many hundreds of millennia, and yet it is in the last few that we are most disappointed, and in the last decade that that disappointment has evolved into a power struggle.
"The human race is flawed, strident, unreasonably confident and mercenary. It truly *is* the ooze that eats itself.
"And to prey on, and violate, so many creatures, so exquisite in the making and so fair in their form? Exactly how long did *you* expect that to last? And now you combine species against their will – or at least the physical manifestation thereof – or feed one to another as humans so gleefully do with their ‘pets’… *because you can*?...”
"You are an amateur, about to be reprimanded for your arrogance, dear lady, and, before your care to mention? The Senior Partners *do* endorse your ‘service to date' but are... tired of your antics."
Lilah already bore the evidence of a beheading from years ago, but this was different. That the Senior Partners might *abandon* her had *never* been considered. She was *the favorite*!!
It was apparent that her status had slipped, and she was aware enough to register the large being carrying her to somewhere in the bowels of her own building, along a corridor she recognized with a measure of dread, then into… She passed out again.
She came too, plastered, nude, against the sticky web that had been the final fate of so many ‘uncooperative’ clients of hers, and a few employees, just for *her* good measure!
She was light headed, though a little puzzled that her attacker seemed to have tended her wounds and certainly stemmed the blood flow. The realization as to why was merely seconds in coming. Her body reacted instinctively and she released her waste just before she was swiftly wrapped by the enormous spider that she was so happy to feed others to.
But Jaquin was not finished.
He communicated with the magnificent arachnid.
She *and her still to hatch - babies* were to be transported back to his insect realm to live their lives, revered and in safety, provided she disposed of Lilah slowly.
The spider merely nodded at the suggestion. And before Jaquin called up the portal she had agreed and swiftly grabbed the wrapped prize and then deposited a full lay of eggs inside the abdomen of the body, the bound, appendage free and scalped, Lilah.
The former Wolfram and Hart pariah was aware for the first part of the impregnation, but would no doubt be more concerned as she awoke. She would have been even more concerned, two days later, to feel the movement of small bodies, and powerless to stop the consumption of her internal organs. In the mean time, she was conscious enough to know that the large spider was lifting her precious load, Lilah, the feed body, into the portal. She knew she was doomed.
Jaquin was done with the realm of the human. The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart were working on an agenda that was ageless, but sometimes their agenda’s did, indeed, need questioning. His gracious, other dimensional nod to the Higher Powers did not go without notice.
His reign would be long and fruitful, just not on Earth.
Jaquin tore the heads off two hapless Wolfram and Hart clients consuming the bodies swiftly as he exited the building. His transition to his own nether world was to be an easy one.
He was a day early, but looked forward to greeting his spider friend into his own realm, as promised. The human husk that traveled with them was irrelevant – and his friend’s babies would be admirable assassins! The Powers acknowledged his right and honored their pact.
Spike answered the phone with trepidation.
“Hi… Hi …. Hang on … There you go!... Sorry Jas… um… Yeah found Xan… and *oh Ghahhh Jas... thanks for the time but… um… Are you free tonight? Cause I’d really like to … We’d... I guess like to… Ahhh geez … Just come if you can OK??”
“Is he OK? C’mon Will??? What’s the deal? OKOKOK!!!! We’ll be there, what time?”
“Just come over around seven … and Jas?”
“You’re a bloody gem mate… and so’s that boy of yours!”
“Ummmm? Yeah yeah ... Glad you found him OK... Just... see you soon, alright?”
Spike rang off.
His ‘Spider sense’ told him that Jaquin had finished his task.
His new Childe slept on, and he hoped that their friends would endure, even after their soon to be revelation.
Spike woke his Childe as the sun went down.
Xander blinked to consciousness as an open wrist, and an adoring, familiar smile greeted him, though was puzzled by the surprisingly formal words.
“We are to have guests this evening, Childe. You must be here with your Sire. It will be a difficult meeting as it is your first time with humans.”
Xander blinked slowly in confusion then replied, “Um wha??...Hmmpf… morning?” Instantly, his instinct told him that formal words required a formal response, and swiftly corrected his error. He struggled to sit up and added, “Umm… Please excuse me Sire. I was not yet awake.” Xander dropped his gaze in an indication of his submission, and the fledgling was caught under the chin by a caring hand as he did so.
“You are forgiven of course! You are only newly made Pet, and we have many lessons ahead. All you need do now, is follow your instincts and your heart. I’m here. Sire will be here… always… just like you were for me. ‘S my turn to be strong, innit.” Spike stroked Xander’s hair gently then leant down and kissed him on the lips, claiming the fledge’s mouth with all the possessiveness that came with his new role of Sire.
Xander allowed the invading tongue in with a sigh of joy and relief. The former human felt truly… happy - definitely dead, he knew - but blessed by the presence of, and claiming by, the only being he had ever truly loved, Spike, and now his Sire.
Spike enjoyed the moment, feeling his own strength increase by the minute and wondered if that came with the new role, or whether it was simply a function of the tender care Xander had given in the past weeks along the added boost from his Mistress Illyria. It mattered little.
They were about to face a challenge – one his newly risen Childe was hardly ready for.
Noting the still rather bewildered look on his fledge’s face he inquired, “Xan, Luv? Childe… Are you with me?”
“Hmmm? Oh… Yes Sire.” Xander stiffened then realized that he remained in his Sire’s embrace, and relaxed a little, though tried to be more attentive.
“We have to meet our old friends tonight, Jason and Mark. You must remain in your human guise… do you understand?”
“Yes Sire.” Xander’s soul shuddered at the thought of meeting the men who had been so helpful with Spike, but his demon responded instinctively with the answer, and was rewarded by the invitation to nuzzle again.
Spike knew that the evening was going to be difficult for the young fledge with newly awakened demon fighting the soul, so pushed the issue, “You *must* wait until we are alone again to feed, then you will have my blood… Do you understand? You *must not* allow the demon out unless I give you permission.”
“Yes Sire… ” Xander pouted a little and the act earned him an immediate bite.
Spike was acutely aware of the unpredictable nature of a Childe barely a day old, soul or no soul, and was unwilling to risk his friends’ lives. His decision was swift and pragmatic. He needed his fledge compliant, so sank his fangs into a willing neck, and drained Xander yet again to the point of semi-consciousness, then lay him gently on the couch.
He returned just enough of the precious liquid from his own wrist, to have Xander conscious, his young Childe’s dear soul at the surface while the demon sharing the body so sated and willingly submissive that it was beyond any independent act, and there would be no risk of attack. The newly risen demon was simply too drained to assert itself in his Sire’s presence even if humans were in attendance.
Jason and Mark were to arrive at seven.
Spike prepared a platter of finger food for the guests and drank as much blood as he could manage while Xander snoozed lightly on the couch.
Their friends were punctual as always.
Mark held his tense partner’s hand tightly as the door was answered, and both bore near frantic expressions as the door opened. Whatever they expected, Spike knew… nothing could prepare them for what their friends had to divulge. The vampire took an unnecessary breath before greeting them.
Jason pulled Spike into a hug, but looked over the slim shoulder to spot a deathly pale and very thin Xander lying on the lounge suite. Jason gave Spike a last squeeze before racing to their lost friend’s side. “Ghoddd!!! Xan?!! What… where have you been…?”
Xander blinked awake, still lethargic after his Sire’s decision to half-drain him. He registered the known voice, a human, and friend from his … life. He felt an absolute level of fatigue and knew he was hungry as he heard the heartbeat. But Sire had told him, no feeding. And his soul knew this man was… Jason… *Friend.* *Friend!*
Despite Jason’s kind attention, the young fledge looked to his Sire for direction, noting that Spike was welcoming Mark with a quick hug and kiss on both cheeks. He began to worry more. He thought he had been asked to be by his Sire’s side, but was now struggling even lift his own hand… Xander let a tear fall, he wasn’t sure why, but he knew he had failed Sire. He looked for Sire, his panic almost palpable and sending the same through the familial link.
Mark looked a little puzzled at the greeting. William seemed… changed, confident, strident even. Certainly there was an urgency to his actions, but it was hardly the behavior of the near catatonic invalid they had seen a few evenings ago.
It was mere seconds before Spike felt the distress of his young one, and let Mark find his own way in as he sped to the rescue of his young Childe who was starting to breathe quickly, and Spike knew that despite all good intentions, Xander was likely to fall into game face without the physical contact of his maker.
He moved swiftly to his Childe’s side, then pulled him closer, “You OK luv?”
Mark joined his partner and did not fail to note as Spike had gathered Xander onto his lap, and the taller man had all but plastered himself to their friend William, the brunette’s face cradled against William’s neck.
Jason was aware that something had fundamentally changed and approached with caution. “Xan?? Hey… Buddy?”
Xander pulled tighter into his Sire and refused to look at their friend.
Human spelt food… or danger, he wasn’t sure. There was conflicting knowledge spinning through his mind uncontrolled. Their heart beats certainly spelt food, all temptation and condemnation embodied. Still the newborn fledge held his human features for his Sire. And his Sire felt his struggle, and kissed him soundly for his show of strength. He visibly sighed and relaxed against Spike and chose a defensive semi-slumber, cradled in his Sire’s arms.
The two friends settled onto the opposite couch, and Spike, holding tightly to Xander’s hand, addressed them, “Obviously Xan is back… but uhhhhm”
Mark had already guessed. The emaciated and almost submissive form of their friend spelt torture. He squeezed his beloved’s hand and received the same back. To have a partner abducted and tortured was their own worst nightmare embodied.
Both remained silent for a few seconds. What should one ask, when their dear friend sat with his partner showing a deathly pallor?
Spike adjusted Xander’s position so the brunette might lie on the couch comfortably. He lovingly covered the form with a throw rug, ensuring Xander’s head was cradled in Spike’s (Sire’s) lap. “I am sad to report that we have held something from you… Was happy to leave you blokes in the dark regards my own status… But things have changed a bit.”
Jason looked not so much worried as resignedly sad, then said, “Were you, you know, um… ahem… doing drugs or tricks or something? And did Xan you know… did get caught up in that too… you know… even the whole HIV pos? Please Spike?… Whatever this is… we’re friends?”
Spike looked utterly confused, “What? No! Um… *No*… Bloody Hell! Nothin’ to do with any of that!”
Spike took an unnecessary breath. “Um… it’s just… He was so injured… beyond recovery…dyin’ when he was given back… I mean *really* dying… so the Fate’s have dealt us both a bit of a different hand…”
The two friends looked even more confused and concerned but Spike continued quickly, “*Figure it’s time for you blokes to suspend disbelief for a moment, ‘cause I’m afraid we’ve got something to show you.” Spike’s voice dropped to a low growl, “You believe in the other?”
Jason and Mark were both looking very puzzled.
“I’d hoped we might still be friends after this, but understand if you can’t. And if you can’t, I’ll take the boy here and you won’t need to see us again. This is… I guess a little bigger than… ah bugger... how about you to see me as I truly am…”
Both Jason and Mark looked puzzled then utterly shocked as Spike shifted to game face and bit his own wrist savagely, his Childe waking to the scent, and latching onto the wrist automatically after also shifting to full game face. He growled his approval, a sound that would have made a full grown lion pause.
Spike could hear the two hearts racing and smelt extreme fear, so fell back into his human form as his Childe continued to feed, and he addressed their friends, “The boy here and I didn’t think we needed to let you know what I really was… least not when I was under the weather. Ensouled you see, us both now. You lads were right kindly, and I do thank you for that. Will always thank you.”
Xander fell off the wrist, shifted back to his normal features and snuggled down on the couch again. It seemed as though, like any newborn, feeding and sleeping occupied most of each day.
Mark was incredulous, genuinely questioning his own eyes. “But that’s… you can’t be serious!? How did you??”
Spike continued, “Give us a moment pet. Xan here had no chance of survival but in the unlife. He was dying, bleeding out, so damaged that none could have saved him… and… I couldn’t lose him… couldn’t… he saved me… now it’s my turn.” Spike ignored his guests for a moment in preference to burying his face into his partner’s neck, softly licking his own mark, and letting a tear fall.
Jason was utterly speechless but Mark interrupted again. “This is insane… How?? You can’t expect us to believe this … OOookay… Where’s the hidden camera… Great joke now… come on William!”
“No camera mate.” Mark and Jason’s heartbeat sped as their friend remained sincere. “ Got the soul of William, but sorry, not human, and now… neither is Xan.” Spike shifted into game face, dropped his ‘mockney accent’, then added in a very low tone – as though to frightened children, “You need to know. I am a vampire, we both are, I’m an older one, but the boy here is new.”
Xander had been staring rather dazedly but suddenly registered his Sire’s stress and tilted his own head to allow his Sire to drink, but Spike merely kissed his lovely fledge in gratitude.
Mark and Jason were beside themselves. Mark in particular. There was nothing in his past that could possibly have prepared him for this. When his patient’s had described ‘the other’, he had prescribed medication. Now he was witnessing… something?! He would have blamed it on a drugged drink – but had yet to have anything orally.
He wondered at his own perception, but seeing Jason’s face, realized that this was a shared experience and therefore very difficult to question.
Spike did the only thing he could think of. He left his lovely friend to sleep and moved with vampiric speed to kneel in front of their two friends grasping a hand of each in his.
Jason gasped at the speed, and Spike heard his heart rate step up even more, “G#%!! But you could hardly… and the illness was …”
“Real Pet. The illness was very real. Xan saved me from dust. My turn now to help him innit? Even if his status is… changed.”
Spike continued to speak quietly, “Most humans are able to go through life oblivious of ‘the other’. Xan here is a child of the Hellmouth – grew up with our kind and fought the good fight for years… and now you know too. The other have been here forever.
“Boy here has been part of that for his whole life. Me? Part of that realm for over a century… And frankly don’t care if you can’t believe or don’t want to, ‘s your choice. Regardless we both thank you and consider you friends. You were so kind when others were not.”
Mark finally shook himself from his shock and asked, “So… you’re, um… what are you?” Then fell back as Spike fell into gameface again and faced him directly. “I’m an ensouled vampire mate.”
It was a worried looking Jason’s turn to speak, “So… the hospital runs… It was about human blood wasn’t it?! That’s what Xan was doing – getting human blood. But… no biting? What’s with that? And … oh geez… How old are you?”
Spike smiled and leaned forward to squeeze his friend’s hand. He noted the lack of pulling away so answered the question truthfully. “No biting pet, and… I was born in the eighteen fifty four, pushin’ a hundred and fifty.”
Mark stood, “What?? That’s impossible!!”
Spike leaned over in his human guise and kissed his friend gently, “You believe what you need to believe, but this *is* our existence now. If you can remain friends, we would like that, but if you can’t, I will help Xander to understand.”
Jason was musing to himself, “I never did see you go out in the day – figured it was the meds or something… and with the languages and…” Jason suddenly looked up accusatorially, “ Wait a second! What’s with the food knowledge and the cups of tea and… and… f#$% Will… How are we supposed to understand all this!?”
Spike spoke very quietly as though to a spooked animal, “You’re not pet, it’s fine… been alive for a long time is all – learned a lot and enjoyed the best and now just have a different status is all. To you still consider us the same old friends, just different physical status. Only ask that if you can’t accept, that you don’t report us – as a courtesy, or if you’re going to, at least give us a chance to get out of town!”
Jason was incredulous, “ What?? Of course we wouldn’t!! Geez!! What did you?? No!! You’re safe with us of course!!”
Mark was still shaking his head and Spike knew the medico was struggling so lifted his arm up and offered his wrist, stating simple, “Test it yourself.” Mark felt for a pulse. There was nothing. He then felt for Spike’s carotid, still nothing. He stood in frustration and went to Xander, Spike moving with him in case the fledge became panicked.
Testing for the pulse on their friend, Mark simultaneously noted that there was no movement of the chest at all, he felt the cold skin and saw the pallor. He had almost convinced himself that it was a terrible dream, that Xander was in fact dead, and that the previous conversation was a figment of his shocked psyche. But then Xander rolled onto his side, moaned “Sire?” and shifted into gameface as soon as he smelt his maker’s presence.
Mark scrambled back to where Jason was sitting wide eyed and they say side by side, watching in disbelief as their friend William opened his wrist and allowed Xander to drink a few pulls before drifting back to sleep.
Mark stared in wonder as Spike’s wrist literally knitted itself back together in front of his eyes and in the few seconds it took to sit down opposite them and begin the conversation again.
Spike gave his wrist a cursory lick then leveled blue eyes at the pair, “Boy had been tortured to the point of certain death. I made a choice. Powers backed it. Know the lad would like to keep your friendship, so would I. Think you can?”
Jason looked thoughtful “I, um… Do we have to mention it? I mean I didn’t know but, um, it didn’t matter then did it?! And it’s not like you’re anything different, except, well, umm, a whole lot not 100% human but um…” Jason looked up embarrassed then dropped his tone, “I mean *you* seem stronger and… look healthier, so that’s all good right?” Mark was still tense but Spike heard his heart slowing to a more healthy pace so Spike simply smiled.
Spike grinned at the two and began to hope all might indeed be well. “Yeah, part of the package I guess – thanks for sayin’ it though.”
They all sat for a while in silence before Spike spoke up again, “So you guys up for a drink? Figure couple of shots of the good stuff ‘d be in order?” He stood, pulled three tumblers from the cupboard, some ice from the fridge, and retrieved a bottle of Jack Daniels from the bedroom.
Mark was still shaking his head a little, trying to take it all in but took the glass all the same.
Two hours later the television was on, Chinese food had been ordered, and the friends, though still rattled, were well on the way back to their previous comfortable status.
Part 13 – FINI
As Xander returned to full consciousness with an infusion of his Sire’s blood and participated in the evening for an hour or so, Mark and Jason found it easier to adapt to their friend’s (or rather friends’) revised status. Jason was apparently faster to accept the ‘other’ than Mark, but the medico eventually gave in to it all by ignoring the ‘special status’ of his friends, and simply treating them as he had always done. It proved surprisingly easy. Over the ensuing weeks ‘life’ went back to normal and two dinner parties later – plus an outing to the opera, ‘Turandot’ – Mark had all but forgotten that Will and Xander were anything but some of their ‘inner circle’ of good friends.
Hamish was informed of Xander’s demise by Wolfram and Hart barely ten days after his disappearance. Hamish had immediately, and very privately, sent money to his employee’s landlord – enough to keep Xander’s apartment for two months, and to give his family a little extra time to settle with his estate. It was a generous gesture, though one Hamish felt somehow still, inadequate. He knew that he had been lucky to escape such a fate working for W&H, and worried for his own family.
For Xander and Spike, the rest of their financial issues were yet to be dealt with.
A few months on and Spike knew that Wolfram and Hart must have had access to his partner’s funds, so pulled in some favors. Clem’s cousin at the hospital knew the new Files and Data Processing second in charge Rodney. Apparently, though still working in the ‘belly of the beast’, this Rodney was sympathetic to those suffering the violations that were part of W&H’s usual procedures. Within a day of contacting Rod, Spike was confident that they would not be destitute.
Rod was sympathetic to handsome young man who arrived on behalf of the estate of one ‘prospective employee’, Alexander Lavelle Harris, had been officially declared missing after attending a meeting at Wolfram and Hart, and had within a fortnight, been declared deceased. The family representative Jason had all the correct papers proving the claim of a young relative William and had all the relevant legal material ready to process immediately.
When Rod did a minimum of internal investigating, he realized that the deceased young man had been one of the ‘Morgan Disappearances’, and the physically altered Rod felt grateful that he only had a couple of altered extremities, swiftly found the documentation. He was able to sign off on the release nearly eighty percent of the funds to the dear young cousin William within days. A week later, an enormous bunch of flowers arrived at his office, along with a beautifully penned card thanking him on behalf of Alexander’s family. Rod was touched and took the flowers home to the soon to be mother of his own brood.
Seven months on from Xander’s turning Rod was promoted, again. Now officially the Chief Officer of the whole division, and studying part time for his MBA in the fall – at the company’s expense, his greatest joy was that Stacy, now his wife, was very pregnant and a week into maternity leave.
It was a relief. She was having twins. Her altered back and legs had simply not been able to support her burgeoning belly, and she had been forced to use a specially designed wheelchair for close to four months. More recently, entering her eighth month carrying the children, her blood pressure and chronic back ache were indications that there were other issues. Her tail had all but lost its feathers, and her formerly curly hair had gone suddenly limp and straight, and of late, begun falling out in clumps. Her body was struggling, but they both rejoiced yet another scan revealed that all was well with the children. They were both eager to welcome their babies (fully human twin girls) into the world within the month.
Wendy had not yet met the man of her dreams – yet along the way, had become staunch friend and supporter of Rod and his pretty wife. Wendy, though only a new friend, had the honor of being witness at their marriage and was known as Aunty Wendy for many years by two small girls who continued to delight in lifting whichever elegant pair of pants she happened to be wearing, and cheekily pet the furred paws beneath (her habit of kicking off shoes never quite broken).
The file of Alexander Harris along with that of Spike aka William the Bloody strangely disappeared from the W&H files without a trace.
For reasons other than money the next months still proved challenging. Xander’s life was now his unlife. Determining what that meant was an extraordinary experience.
His Sire was kind and attentive, but still insisted on discipline. Years on, Xander would adore his Sire (by then Mate) for it, but at the time, it was a combination of exhilaration, unequivocal fear of failure and unexpected triumphs. His soul and demon warred daily, but his Sire was there and knew his dilemma and the slow solution… Xander had the unconditional love and devotion of his maker, and the strength of commitment of a partner that he had always craved… and it was to be until they were both dust. At times he was chained up for his disciplining, but the punishment metered out was always light in comparison to any Spike had endured. More often any reprimands involved isolation and drainings rather than beatings. The soul and the demon eventually found an accord, and unlife began to make sense.
Xander’s demon’s submission to his Sire was not that of a beaten and broken fledge, but willingly given as one of a favorite Childe, willingly bending to his Sire’s wishes and proud to stand by him in any situation. His status meant that more often than not, he fed directly from his Sire, guaranteeing strength and speed well beyond his years.
Xander was a surprisingly quick study and rejoiced in his new abilities - speed, night-sight, hearing, and smell, all were explored under strict supervision and with kind coaching. He reveled in the hunt, practiced on the less savory human characters of the night, and became expert at seducing and ‘skimming’. It was an art form long practiced. A pint or so taken from the willing, leaving them unharmed and satisfied - usually happening in nightclubs or bars where a quick kiss in the dark lent itself to a short, sharp, fluid exchange.
Spike led his fledge through the night with a well practiced confidence. They were a beautiful pair, always dressed to kill but killing few, though strangely, satisfying many. Some humans even returning to the place of their ‘donation’ specifically in the hope that they might meet their seductive night biter just one more time…
Their gym sessions became sparring bouts, Xander gradually learning to control his newfound speed and use the enhanced senses. Being under the direct tutelage of a Master, and taking his blood daily, meant that Xander was no ordinary fledge. Already battle hardened as a human, he was also a quick study and determined to make his Sire proud. With aught else to do but train, feed and sleep, with an occasional hunting excursion, Xander swiftly became a vampire to be reckoned with in his own right. A Master or Slayer might take him down, but few others could.
By the end of Xander’s sixth month, Spike stood back and admired. His boy was a fine hunter. Brutal and swift if it was called for, but also an expert in seduction, and with an apparent natural ability to thrall that rivaled Spike’s dark princess Dru.
For Spike, he was a blessing. A beloved friend, devoted lover, and had developed into a formidable adversary for any demon who crossed their path. He would be a Claimed Mate as soon as it could be arranged, sadly the lack of Spike’s own Sire or even Grandsire made it difficult as the approval of a Senior of the Clan was needed before the ceremony could be performed.
Xander’s great joy was that now, the feeding and fighting always ended with he and his Sire tumbling into bed, where their lovemaking more often than not, took on a feral quality. Both parties willingly gave in to their demonic natures as they explored Xander’s new strengths and desires.
He also had the joy of spending the daylight hours with limbs tangled in his Sire’s arms. If Xander was restless, they would talk for a time - Vampire Law, Spike’s own memories of running with Angelus, their collective memories of Sunnydale and everything between… or they would make love.
The consequences of his new status were a surprise to the former human.
Xander missed the sun, and what it had meant… a job that he was highly skilled at; the ability to venture out in the day; and a set of friends that preferred the living. But he gained strength and speed, the ability to see in near darkness, smell more accurately than any bloodhound, and hear a heartbeat at a hundred paces… Plus had what seemed like an instantaneous recovery time, and several new erogenous zones – including his turning mark, which, if sucked by his Sire, had the effect of him climaxing instantly. Sire had kindly provided a binding to help him with his rather insatiable desire to spend, then trained him to withhold until instructed – the rewards for which, saw him in sated sleep more times than he could ever count.
Mark’s fascination with their ‘condition’ did not wane, unlike Jason who simply accepted. He regularly grilled Spike for details in the weeks following their initial ‘revelation’.
A month or two on, it was not so much testing, rather, he seemed to be trying to build his own understanding. Finally, in the sixth month, it extended to a blood test – by mouth – Spike’s blood given willingly to Mark’s mouth, then a little of Mark’s given nervously, and gently taken from the volunteered wrist. The surprise was that the result was instantaneous… a ‘convert’.
It seemed that Mark had what he needed, and for the first time in years, he felt sure of something. He felt blissful as the strong elixir flowed over his tongue and down his throat. Through the blood of one of the oldest Master vampires on the planet, he was gifted with a little insight into the world of his two friends. He was initially puzzled by the powerful effects then eyes widened as he truly understood the unique knowledge of ‘the other’ he had been given. He was humbled and honored. Years later he would still refuse to speak of the experience despite it, in truth, being a life changing event.
Almost a year from Xander’s turning, a portal emerged in the bedroom of two slumbering, ensouled vampires – Sire and Childe.
The Sire woke immediately and growled “Stay” to his half conscious, very sated, charge.
The Master Vampire always slept nude but did not hesitate to prostrate himself in front of the figure. Fred/Illyria had promised to return and she had not forgotten him.
“My Pet…” Illyria’s arms morphed partially into her true form. She lifted him effortlessly, carried him into the lounge room of their small abode and sat on the couch, cradling Spike like a small child. Spike groaned as she began to stroke him adoringly, focusing on all the erotic regions she knew so well. “I have missed you my dear Pet. Is your Childe well?”
Spike found the rhythmic touch of the fronds utterly distracting. “Mistress, you have given me…. He was my friend and my savior, and now, is my greatest joy! Your magnanimous act… was…” For the first time in a year, Spike was truly struggling for words, instead he fell back on his training, and simply added, “Thank you Mistress. Your benevolent attention is overwhelming.”
Illyriah simply nodded and took his erection in one frond whilst allowing a little further shift to her true form. Six octopus-like arms emerged from her body. She began to touch and caress him determinedly, delving gently into every orifice, dipping into his ears, navel and the slit of his painfully aroused sex. Another frond insinuated itself into his tight rear entrance, exuding small amounts of her fluid to ease its way. It searched for his prostate where it remained and pulsed in time with her stroking. Spike was sending such bliss through the link with his Childe that the sleeping Xander came without being touched, then hardened again immediately.
Even after all this time apart, Illyria knew her Pet’s responsiveness and felt the approach of his climax. She pushed a feeding frond into the mouth of her most treasured, herself so aroused that it took but two pulls on the appendage before she filled her former charge with her seed, both his mouth and his rear. In response, Spike immediately released his own cool stream in pulse after pulse across his pale torso, then passed out.
He vaguely felt her withdrawal from his body at both ends, and reached for the frond that he had been sucking. He kissed it tenderly as she shifted back to her blue human visage.
Illyria was surprisingly moved by the act. She stared with impossibly wide blue eyes for a moment, then cocked her head to the side.
“You still surprise me half breed. I was right to choose you, but find myself confused. Why do you continue to show affection after I unintentionally threatened your existence?”
“Not that complicated Pet. Liked Fred, and not so bad yourself, Highness. And can’t say as I was badly treated by you, can I? Besides you gave me to Xan, then helped when those bastards...” Illyria saw the pained expression as her Pet remembered, so shushed him and stroked his face as a concerned parent might. She was graced with a shy grin and look of such gratitude from William the Bloody, that she no longer questioned here desire for the half breed’s health and happiness. Benevolence, it seemed, had its rewards.
They sat for many minutes as Spike came down from the effects of her fluids and the intensity of his release, but finally she allowed the reclining figure to stand. She then followed him to the bedroom and watched as her Pet settle his new Childe for the next few minutes. The finish of their act had obviously disturbed the sleep of the young fledge, though Spike left cleaning him up until the morning.
In the gentle touches and loving kiss Illyria remembered her own efforts to comfort and her concern for her favorite pet as he became weak. She understood the need to protect and to comfort. It was something of an epiphany. It had not just been her time as in the shell of Fred or the loss of Wesley that had allowed her to feel. It was the connection to this lovely being and his willingness to accept her attentions, even now, that had encouraged her to feel for her subjects’ various difficulties and attend more carefully to resolving them, and to act with the ruthlessness needed to protect them from outside threats.
She had communed with the Higher Powers willingly and completely for the first time in more than ten millennia to correct a wrong. Spike and Xander were under the protection of both unearthly forces, and now Illyria had been guaranteed the right to visit her lovely Pet from time to time. The Powers accepted the rather unconventional arrangement. She was the only old one they would allow to visit the earthly dimension freely. It was a courtesy and she had no desire to annex it, no need to.
Spike completed his task and turned to her, dropping to a kneel as he did so. “Why did you come Highness?”
“You were in distress at your lack of your Sire. You wish to take your Childe as Mate did you not? It is required to be granted permission from your Sire according to Vampire traditions. You are my treasured Pet, and I grant you that permission in the stead of your true Sire.”
Spike looked stunned. When he had raged into the night at not being able to truly claim Xander, he never imagined this would be the result. He folded down to a fully prostrated position again then rose once more and lifted tear filled eyes, “I am unable to thank you enough, Highness. I…”
Illyria cut him off, “You will take him in the traditional way, and when I return, he will also be mine as is my right. I will feed and pleasure you both. I will also study your responses to my attentions when you are coupling. I think that will amuse me.”
Spike was shocked by his body’s instant arousal at the thought, but bowed his head and simply said, “You are most kind.” But Illyria hardly heard the words as she opened a swirling portal behind her.
“I will see you again soon my Pet. Here is a parting gift. I believe these are valued here on Earth – they may come in useful to you.” She handed Spike a small pouch then stepped into the portal.
Spike and Xander had been living frugally for a year – trying to eek out Xander’s meager investments. As Spike peered into the bag he gasped. There were at least a hundred large, polished precious stones inside.
Illyria shift to her true form as she entered. Spike was deeply moved to see her again in all her glory. His expression and emotion was not lost on the departing deity. She would tolerate his freedom in his own realm but there was an odd twinge of longing to lie at her feet once more and enjoy her constant attentions. He quickly shook off the thought.
Spike returned to his lovely charge and began to make love to the slumbering figure. He had a Mate to claim and could not wait to tell his dear Childe the news.
The young fledge rolled onto his back and groaned as Spike’s hand found his hardness and the older vampire began the formal words and act required to complete the Claiming.
What followed was the Childe opening and offering himself body and neck, an act of such wanton submission and adoration that Illyria’s pet mated fully and formally with the other half breed he loved so much. Even across dimensions Illyria knew her pet was happy and that as such would endure for longer. She had affection for the hardy blonde, and wished to visit him from time to time. Now he had a Mate, he was more likely to live long, despite the limitations of his Earthly dimension. She was satisfied.
Spike had marked his Childe, now Claimed, deep and long, the spoken words ensured that the mark would endure for all time. The two consummated their mating over a week of blood exchange and partnering. Illyria felt their joy through the dimensions and was pleased, as were the Powers.
The Powers would wait a time before demanding that the two ensouled vampires step up to their roles as champions some time in the future. The Powers were timeless… ergo, very patient and their ally Illyria had requested a respite for the two. Until their contribution was demanded again the pair would be left to enjoy a peaceful development of their new relationship. Sometime in the near future, the Mated pair would be the most powerful vampires on the planet and useful, but for now they could simply enjoy being and each other.