It’s funny how it happens.

All that work.  The blood, the pain, the suffering, the fighting and finally it’s all right there.  Right where it’s supposed to be, and it’s all supposed to work out now.  Not perfectly, of course, because that’d be boring.  But it was supposed to work.

Spike looked up to the darkened window, waiting for the swell of love his soul was supposed to feel.  That was the point, dammit.  All the work was supposed to culminate in this moment, this one instant of clarity.

Instead there was mostly disgust.

He still loved her.  He probably always would.  But even with the guilt of decades of carnage, and his one, final action, the one that had made him choose a path he should have despised. . .

He couldn’t forgive her.

How ironic, that the monster couldn’t forgive the human?  Even with his brand new shiny soul, he still couldn’t bring himself to look past her actions to her hurt and her fear.

Actually, that was kind of the problem.  He knew all that.  He’d understood her pain from the first moment she’d pressed her body to his, tears and blood behind every action she made.  He knew all of that—hell, part of him was grateful that she’d found some kind of outlet to try and deal.

But it still wasn’t right.

He’d offered her whatever she wanted.  She’d taken what she shouldn’t have needed.

She’d raped him long before he’d ever tried to do the same with her. . . but her bruises were visible.  His still festered in the places he hadn’t had a name for, before he’d left.  So he couldn’t forgive her, couldn’t even muster up the desire to be with her.  To love her, yes.  To pity her, yes.  To want to help her. . . yes.  But the rest?

Standing outside, waiting for something he knew as never going to come.

Damn her.


He toed out the stand, letting the bike hover as the engine cut out, before letting it come to rest.  It was a sweet bike, one he hadn’t been willing to give up no matter what had been offered in trade.  And there had been some highly attractive incentives.  But the sleek, angry black bike was perfect for his image. . .

And it reminded him of Dawn.

The bar was barely half-full, but Spike was expecting that.  Demon and human both would prefer to go to the Bronze or maybe that new place that’d opened up not long before he’d left.  This place, So-Co, was a drunk’s bar.  The kind of place where there was no other point except large amounts of alcohol.

He slid into a booth in the back, unsurprised when a bottle of tequila was placed before him.  Fruity mixed drinks were not popular here.  Oh, the bartenders could probably make them, but their purpose was to put a bottle on every table and keep the glasses clean.  Cocktail, this wasn’t.

He poured a generous measure into the cup that came along with the bottle and knocked it back.  Then another, and another, and another still.  Soon the bottle was gone and something else replaced it.  He didn’t know what, and didn’t particularly care.  The quality was good, whatever it was, and it got him drunk.

It was the only way he could find peace.

He wasn’t stupid.  Well, no, yes he was.  Very, very stupid.  But he wasn’t as foolish as people thought—yeah, that was better.  You didn’t live to be a hundred and something-mumble without learning some of the tricks.  You sure as hell didn’t survive Drusilla very long without learning to be damned careful of your words.

He’d gotten exactly what he’d asked for.

Maybe he really should have just asked for the damned chip to be removed.  None of the other bollocks, just the chip; make me a bloody demon again.  Except. . . how could he?  Vampires were more sophisticated than a great many demons, yeah, and smarter too—but most of them didn’t think.  Not the way humans had to, once they stopped being children.  Vampires wanted, so they took.  They could scheme and plot, but it call came down to want, take, have.

Spike had been denied at every turn, and want had not automatically led to take.  So he’d learned to control himself, something no vampire—not even bloody Angel—ever truly learned.  Stupid poof would go on and on about skill and planning and he was even good at some of it. . . but denial as an object lesson?  Never.  Even with his soul, it hadn’t really changed.  He’d wanted to feel miserable—so he did.  Usually dragging down everyone around with him.  The curse-clause was possibly his only real limitation, and even then, Spike wasn’t so sure.

If he’d wanted to, he could have gotten around it.  She told me should would have tried anything. . . but he always refused her.

He’d wanted to feel miserable, so he did.

Spike had wanted lots of things.  Instead, he’d been forced to make due with reality.  No vampire had ever been up against a situation like that before, and most probably wouldn’t have survived it.

I survived it.  I bloody thrived on it, didn’t I?  And yeah, it was horrible.  Especially once she. . . once she. . . came back.  Not left.  Hell, it was probably the best, then.  No blonde hellion to turn him into knots, but something even better.  Friendship.  Companionship.  And from the little one, love.

He’d wanted all that back again.  All of it, not just her.  He’d wanted family.  That’s what he’d had, before Angelus snacked on a gypsy, before they put the chip in his skull, before she decided she’d treat him like her own supply of white powder.

A soul was supposed to give him that.

And mostly it’s just given me pain.  I take it back.  I am stupid.

“Yeah, you really are.”

Blinking through an alcoholic haze, Spike forced himself to focus on the figure that slid into the seat across from him.  Male.  Dark.  Pretty big.  Very drunk.  Familiar. . .?

“Hello, Spike.  Welcome back to Sunnydale.  You should’ve stayed gone.”

Right, the boy.  Except, now that he was making himself look, there wasn’t much ‘boy’ left in those dark eyes.  Even without the alcohol.  “Yeah.  Probably right.”

“You missed a lot, you know.  End of the world type stuff.  Oh, and Dawn deciding she hates you.”

He tried to hide his wince, but he wasn’t sure if he was successful.  He knew he deserved her hatred—the demon and the soul knew that perfectly—but it still hurt.  Of all of them, he loved that girl the most, and hated to disappoint her.  “Do tell.”

So Xander did.  For hours, he talked about everything that happened since the moment Spike left that blasted bathroom.  He talked about things he probably hadn’t told anyone else—including his conversations with Anya, seemingly all of them, and the all-important conversation with Buffy.

“Willow and Giles are in England.  Anya’s. . . around.  She runs the magic shop, but I don’t go there.”  Flash of deeper pain.  “Buffy’s doing good.  Real good now.  She quit the Doublemeat Palace, but she’s got enough cushion that she’ll be okay for a while.  Giles helped her get a loan.  Dawn finishes summer school next week.  She’s doing great.  Training with big sis, even patrolling.  So we don’t need you.”  Another flash of hatred and loathing.

“They don’t.”

He wasn’t sure what prompted him to say that.  Well, no, he hadn’t lost his insight when he’d gained a soul—that was Angel, ta muchly—but he was still stuck on. . .Tara.  Little tinkerbell.  Such a sweet one she was. . . and to go like that?  All alone, even with your lover two feet from you?

Tears burned and he didn’t try to impede their fall.  William and Spike hadn’t been afraid to show their emotions after the proper lubrication.  Three bottles of whatever we’ve been drinking should do that, yeah. 

“I’m sorry,” he said after a moment.  Xander was watching him cry with the focus only the truly drunk can achieve.  “She was—she was a good lady.”

“She was the best of us,” Xander agreed reluctantly.  “The only one who did what was right no matter what. . .”

Spike looked up sharply through his tears, catching that same burst of hatred again.  Not directed at Spike.  He was part of it, but it was really directed at. . . the Scoobies.  Especially the four original members, but mostly the whole group of them—

“We couldn’t do anything right.  Buffy died and it was like. . . we died too.  And until she was back, really back, we all screwed up right along with her.”

“You think Buffy screwed up?”  Fuck, he talked too freely when he was drunk.  He hadn’t meant to say that.

Dull brown eyes stared straight into his.  “She used you.  She tore you up and used you, just because she could.  I get that, now.  Still think what you did was wrong. . . but then, so do you.  Hell, what Willow did to Tara, or what I did to Anya was probably worse because hey, you’re a soulless vampire.  Best excuse there is.  We don’t have that.  We—we loved them.  And what we did was worse than rape.”

He knew his jaw had dropped.  He knew his eyes were wide.  A half-full glass of something dark—rum?—slipped from his fingers to thunk onto the table and spill its contents.  World’s over.  Boy screwed up, and Red did send us all to hell, he just don’t know it yet.  Only explanation.  Because otherwise. . . Xander was giving him a backhanded compliment.  And the thing Spike had always craved—respect.

Xander was stronger, both physically and in personality, and much more the survivor, but there were a lot of similarities between him and William the Bloody Awful Poet.  If I’d had a Red, to love me unconditionally, be my ally through all the social nonsense. . . might never have run away from that silly party.  Probably would’ve lived, grown up, become an accountant, and married her.

Except there was just one problem with that.

William didn’t like girls.

It shouldn’t be much of a shock, really.  Look at the women he went after: Cecily, arrogant and high maintenance, Drusilla, insane and high maintenance, Harmony, infantile and high maintenance, Buffy, bitchy and high maintenance.  None of these were women he could love, just women he could be with.

Pretty much like the boy and his flock of unattainables.  Probably why he didn’t go through with the marriage, really.

If William had had a bit more in the way of friends and acceptance—or had been a bit stronger—he would have been Xander.  Pretty much exactly.  It was why Spike had hated Xander with particular ire—possibly why Xander had responded with equal fervor—and the reason why it was so good between them here and now.

Gather round boys and girls, while Uncle Spike tells you a story.  Once upon a time, there was a twat of a vampire, who brought a gypsy girl to the vampire she had created.  After snacking on the tasty morsel, the Rom found out what had happened and cursed those who had killed their ‘clan favorite’.  Not the vampire that had stolen the girl, but the vampire that had actually eaten her.  They gave him a soul.  Not the long dead, long unlamented Liam, who was a tosser and a drunk and good bloody riddance, but something much more basic.  He got a conscience.  He got the ability to feel remorse and guilt and all the other brooding crap.  But the personality remained that of Angelus.  Just souled.

Now, we come to a fine, strapping figure of a man, who has got himself into a jam.  He’s got metal in his head, love in his heart, and a girl who hates him cause he’s soulless.  So he goes and gets himself a soul.  Not the cursed mass of aether-induced guilt, but a real soul.  Specifically, his old one.

Right now, William was pretty much letting the ‘Spike’ memories take control.  No more mental babbling in a corner, but not much was going to set him off.  So William was looking out through Spike’s dead eyes, remembering not only his memories, but the demon’s as well.

Before, Xander had been everything Spike had hated about his life.  Now, he looked like a friend.

“Wha s’wrong wit’ you?”  Xander had been matching Spike, nearly drink for drink.  Spike may now have the soul of a poet, but he still had the physiology of a vampire.  Xander didn’t.  “Starin’.”

“You okay, mate?”

“No.”  Belligerent and stubborn, there’s the Xander he knew and loved.  “Where’d you go?”

“Got the chip out.”

Hey, no one ever said William didn’t have an evil streak!  And the blanched ‘god, I’m stupid’ look on Xander’s face was hilarious.  For about two seconds.

“Relax.  Not gonna hurt you.  Got a soul, too.”

“But—but you—a what?”  Blink, blink.  I think perhaps I’ve overloaded his mind.

“Got a soul.  Chip don’t work—yes, I’ve bloody well tested it—but it doesn’t matter now, does it?  I’m bloody Angel, the second.  Call me poof or Soulboy and I’m out of here.”

Xander, however, wasn’t calling him much of anything.  He was too busy passing out.

Spike snorted.  “Right, then.  Time for good little boys, and idiot vamps, to be snug at home in bed.  And, seeing as Clem has basically taken over my crypt and I don’t have the heart to disturb him, your flat’s been elected.  Up we go.”

Slapping down a few bills, Spike reached for his duster—and flinched.  Swallowing, he reminded himself why he didn’t have it, and dealt with the wave of guilt and pain that accompanied the memory.  His wasn’t a constant barrage of pain and torment, like Angel’s had been.  At least, it wasn’t now, after three weeks lying in agony in an African tent.  Mostly because William hadn’t done those things.  Or, he hadn’t come to terms with them, yet.  He wasn’t sure.  It was still all too new.

Brooding won’t get the boy home.  He needs a bed, and some food.  Possibly a lot of food.  Hefting the larger body should have been more work than it was.  He wondered how many meals hadn’t been drunk lately.  Probably not many.

Poor boy.  So afraid of turning into his father, and here he is, on the way to pickling his liver.  Well, can take care of that right quick.  He smirked, remembering that now he could hurt humans again—and not even William would object to scaring the living daylights out of the boy if it meant he would lay off the bottle a bit.  Drunken father was a intimate memory.

First things first, get him home.

No one even glanced as he got the boy outside and over to the motorcycle.  The boy had probably driven, but Spike wasn’t about to fiddle around looking for the car and jimmying his way in.  Dawn wasn’t too far off, and he wasn’t feeling suicidal. . . today, anyway.

By hitching him up practically piggy-back, Spike managed to get the two of them firmly seated on the bike.  Xander was drooling away on his back, arms clasped loosely around Spike’s waist.

Oh, god, he’s so warm.

It took a full minute before Spike could do anything but revel in human touch on him, even the drunk-passed-out kind.  Swallowing, he kicked the bike on.  He experimented with a hand hold, and cursed.  Xander was going to fall off the minute they started actually moving.  Spike was loath to tie his hands, even loosely, afraid of Xander waking up restrained even that much.

A very wicked, very horrible idea formed in the demon’s mind.  William took one look at it, and went into ultra prim-and-proper mode.  Except that didn’t stop the dead body from doing what his human body would have done.  Caught between a frown and a smirk, Spike sucked in his belly and wedged Xander’s hands in between him and his jeans.

And tried hard not to moan.

You should not be getting aroused by this! the soul was shouting, edging back towards the hysterical babbling again.  Except it felt good.  So good.  Real warmth, human warmth, touching me without hatred or disgust or pain. . .

Spike went as fast as he could.

By the time they reached the apartment complex, Xander’s hands had uncurled and were absently rubbing underneath the waistband.  Spike was rock hard in his jeans, trying desperately to concentrate on what he was doing.  He had no desire to force the boy into doing anything—that wasn’t the issue.

The issue is you’re horny.  The issue is that the boy is very, very hot.  The issue is that he’s so much like you   it’s uncanny.  The issue is that he’s sweet and needs to be taken care of, and you bloody well can’t resist that kind of thing, can you.  The issue is that you want him.  Willingly.  Sweetly.  You want him.

All of Spike was in perfect agreement.  Which meant perfectly miserable.

Kill the bike, haul the boy upstairs, hope like hell he had an invite—holy hell, he did!—find the bedroom.  Drop Xander, find some cold water, make him drink.  Going to have a hell of a hangover if he didn’t get hydrated.  Coax unresponsive, unconscious body into drinking some water, spill the rest everywhere.  Feel guilty—duh, as the teens would have said—and decide to strip off the wet clothing.

Which led to Spike staring at a naked Xander.

It was more obvious than ever that he hadn’t been eating well recently, but still. . . he was beautiful.  All hard muscle and soft skin—no, bad, don’t touch—dark hair against a lovely flushed tan.  Cock half hard and waving without the underwear Spike had yanked off without thinking.  Thick and heavy that was, with a delineated blue vein throbbing along the length of it.

Spike’s mouth watered.

Hands clenching and unclenching convulsively, he backed away until he thumped into the wall.  Sliding down, he stared, mesmerized, as Xander moaned, shifted, and woke up.

“Um?  Hey, what—home?”  Xander sat up, blinking dazedly at his room.  “Spike?  Oh, there you are.  Didn’t you say you have a soul now?”


“So, you don’t have the chip, but still aren’t going to hurt me, right?”


“Good.  Come up here.”


Xander sighed and lumbered to his feet.  Weaving unsteadily, he got to Spike’s part of the room and stumbled to his knees.  Spike’s eyes followed the pale, waving bits.  “Hey, perv boy.  I’m drunk.  I don’t like sleeping alone.  You’ve got a soul, which means you’ve got guilt.  Could use some, um, solace, right?”


Another sigh.  “Come.  To.  The.  Bed.”  Spike knew he must have looked totally panicked by then, because the exasperation faded into something. . . softer.  “Spike.  We don’t have to do anything.  I mean, I’d like to.  I’ve been hard for weeks, it feels like.  But it’ll be because we’re both horny and we’re both lonely—or not at all.  I’m serious.  I don’t like sleeping alone.  Don’t need anything more than. . .solace.”

There was a reason that word was important.  He knew there was, and he knew he shouldn’t be doing this.  But he was so desperately lonely.  Dealing with an agony that had no comparison, not even Angel—and Angel had had the luxury of ninety plus years to run around and be insane before he’d been thrust back into the real world.  Spike’d had four weeks. 

He hurt, he was drunk, he was horny, so lonely

And Xander said he wanted it, too.

Big, warm hands that was suddenly much more steady were undressing him.  He had no idea how they’d gotten back to the bed.  Didn’t care, because he had a thick, drooling cock aimed at his mouth.  A sixty-nine.  Smart boy; skip the bullshit and just go for the everybody’s-happy route.

And then he was fondling strong thigh muscles, coming up and around and down again, to stroke warm human male.  Licked the tip, savoring the body-warmed secretions, and the salty-bitter taste.  Listened as Xander moaned around the bits of Spike he’d been licking, and grinned shyly.

“S’been a while, pet,” he felt the need to say.  Kept his lips near skin, so that the vibrations would be felt.

“For me, too,” was the breathless response.  “Don’t care.”

And then Xander deep-throated him.

Spike gave a strangled shout, exerting every bit of self control to not start thrusting into the boy’s mouth.  No chip, true, but choking him would probably be a bad thing, nonetheless.  Still moaning at the feel—warm, wet, tight, god, his tongue, he’s definitely done this before—Spike remembered that this was a mutual thing and started returning the favor.

Suck, flutter, lick, flutter, suck, nibble.  Nudge the sac with the tip of the nose, bring hands around to rub a pretty arse.  Try not to come right then.  No chance is this ever happening again, so it needs to be savored.  Slowly work his hips back and forth, try not to marvel at the way Xander just takes him in.  Decide to be just a little bit daring, and drag one hand down a crevice.  Wait for the expected reaction—blink when it doesn’t come.

“Yeah, Spike, do that.”

He was still deciding whether to be unhappy at the removal of Xander’s mouth, despite the verbal encouragement when—oh, bollocks.  That’s where he was going.  Convenient, having a swear word that was so. . . appropriate.  Feel his body moving in and out of slick, hot lips, a flat tongue rubbing warm human saliva all over.

Panting harshly—the soul forgot it wasn’t alive, frequently; he’d even wondered why he didn’t need to piss, on one humiliating occasion—Spike reminded himself that he was dead, and began suckling continuously.  A tube of something was tossed near his head.

Without looking, he prepared himself—and then hesitated right at the entrance.

A pop and then a sigh from the top of the bed.  “I’m not a virgin, Spike.  You won’t hurt me.”

What the—no.  Don’t ask.  Just make him feel good.  Make him feel better.

Slid one finger in.  Resistance, but certainly not the tightness of a virgin.  He pumped in counter point to what he was doing with is mouth, searching for and finding—

“Oh, fuck, I’ve missed this!”

It was the voice that did it.  The voice that said ‘thank you’ even while it was saying ‘don’t stop’.  The voice that knew what was going on, and why it was happening, and didn’t care.  The voice that said it felt good, and there was nothing wrong with that.

He orgasmed fiercely, hardly aware of Xander swallowing all of it.  That wasn’t important.  He exerted a bit of unfair vampiric strength, rolling them so that Xander was lying mostly on top of Spike, who was flat on his back.  Which meant he had one mouth, and two hands free to pleasure the human.

Every bit of skill he’d managed to pick up in a hundred years of fucking anything Drusilla said he could was used now.  Every trick, every touch, because solace was what had happened before.  This was thank you and relief—and it didn’t matter if Xander didn’t remember it in the morning.  Spike would.  He’d remember that for a moment, he was an equal with someone he’d always respected.  He’d made that person, to whom he’d caused so much pain, feel a little bit better.  That was worth more than his own orgasm, any day.

Xander was thrashing above him, practically sobbing into the Spike’s thigh as he jerked himself back and forth between his dual stimulation until—

Blunt teeth sank into the skin of Spike’s thigh, and even as warm, salty human essence filled his mouth, he felt himself start jerking again.  Felt Xander maneuver so that he could close his lips around the spurting head.

Still a vampire, he thought muzzily as he came down from his high.  But now, maybe more.  Maybe. . . maybe what I wanted?  Nah.  But it’s nice to pretend.

Lazy tugs got him turned around and pulled under the covers.  “I’m all sweaty,” Xander mumbled, seconds from sleep.

Warm arms around him, heartbeat under his ear, and one leg thrown possessively over his own.  “Don’t care.”

“Mm.  ’Kay.  Good night, Spike.  ’m glad you came back.”

He waited until he was sure the boy was asleep—or maybe passed out might have been more accurate—before he brought an extra pillow up to catch his tears.







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