Rating: NC-17/dirty!bad!wrong!nasty! overall
Feedback: darkhavens @ slashverse.com
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Warnings/Squicks: This is very early S1 Spander so Xander is 16, but I'm a Brit so that makes him legal over here. It is also rather dark but I have no clue about whether or not Xander will still have a heartbeat at the end of it, though he will still certainly have a Spike. ;)
Summary: I hated that Xander was never allowed to grieve for the loss of Jesse, who appeared to be his only male friend. In this fic he grieves, feels guilt and even despair... and then he meets up with Spike in a dingy little club and Spike decides to keep him for his own.
From outside the club seems dark and really dingy, and though Xander's only sixteen and he looks it, the doorman waves him in without a pause.
Inside the sound assaults him, pounding bass and thrashed guitars and squealing amps. The vocals are unintelligible; screeches, growls and groans he's heard a thousand times before inside his headphones in the basement. And just the thought of trying to listen to his music without jacking in makes his blood run cold. His dad would be down the stairs before the opening chords had finished, his fists both clenched in readiness for another bout of Harris re-education. And then he'd probably smash the third-hand stereo, just to be certain it never happened again.
So here he stands, two towns away from home, listening to his favourite kind of music played the way it should be played, for the very first time. And. It. Is. Fucking. Amazing! He can feel it in his flesh, that bone-deep hum that lets him know he's still alive, and he wants more.
The barman serves him beer without a blink, and Xander wraps his shaking fingers around the sweating longneck, and struggles not to think about the last time he had beer. He fails, of course, and there he is, back in the tree house, sitting next to Jesse, and they're planning out their trip, this trip, to finally hear their music, good and loud. Xander's brought a bottle that he'd found behind the sofa, one live soldier in a whole platoon of dead ones he'd cleaned up that afternoon. They pass it back and forth between them, sipping, pulling faces at the bitter taste, and then coming back for more.
An elbow in his ribcage jolts him out of his maudlin reverie and he turns to see the bleached blond punk beside him.
"Cryin' in your beer just makes it salty, luv, it don't improve the taste. If salty's what you want, maybe you'd like a margarita, or maybe something... creamier than that." And Xander's being towed towards the dance floor before he figures out he's been hit on, and he's stunned. But what stuns him even more is that he's neither very horrified nor trying to pull free. Instead he's half-aroused and kind of curious, and most of all he's flattered that this person is the slightest bit attracted to the Xanman.
The guy is dressed in black and when he peels the leather duster off, Xander sees a red silk shirt, and tight black tee to match the jeans. And then the man is moving, rolling hips and flashing eyes and Xander knows he's going to look like such a fool if he tries to dance.
One step back is all he manages before he's caught by cool white hands locked tightly around his wrists.
"You're going nowhere, Pet. You'll stay right here and dance. For now."
"Can't dance," he mumbles, but apparently he's heard because the blond just grins and steps in much too close and nods, real slow.
"Everyone can dance, they just need the right incentive, and a teacher who knows exactly what they're doing."
There are hands upon his hips, a foot wedged between his, and suddenly he's swaying to the music. His hands feel kind of empty but Xander doesn't have the faintest idea what to do with them until his dancing partner reaches out and snags them up and wraps them around his waist.
So now they're on the dance floor of a grungy little club where no one knows or cares or notices what happens. And just as he is starting to accept that he is dancing with a guy whose name he doesn't even know and hasn't thought to ask for, a few unwelcome facts become apparent.
The blond was wrapped in leather not five minutes ago, and yet his pale white skin is cool to the touch. And while he breathes occasionally, it's really not enough to keep him anything but comatose. Which means he's dancing with a vampire, and that thought twists round his ankles, makes him stumble, trip and almost fall, but hands reach out and catch him, pull him tight into a chest that has no living, beating heart tucked safe inside.
"Don't worry, Pet, you're safe for now. I had an early snack before I came out. I'm only here to dance; at least I was, till you arrived. So pretty, full of pain, you smell of Sunnydale, a Hellmouth taint that lingers on the skin."
Xander finds he has no will to fight, to struggle free, and lets himself be held and rocked and danced with, while he tries to understand his apathy. He knows the bare mechanics of how to kill the demon hiding in this body. He's done it once before and maybe that is why he's loath to try again. One month ago he watched his closest friend in all the world, apart from Willow, turn to dust before his eyes. Everyone had told him that it wasn't really Jesse he had staked but just a demon walking around inside his skin, but he'd known better. He'd looked into Jesse's eyes and seen the boy he'd kidnapped Barbies with; the boy he'd traded punches, lunchtime sandwiches and comics with, and that was why he knew that they were wrong. The demon somehow made his Jesse more. A killer, yes, but who was he to argue, now that he was just the same.
Cold fingers tapping on his cheek draw him back to his present predicament, and he opens his eyes to find himself trapped in an azure gaze just barely tinged with yellow.
"I think I like you, Pet. Let's take a walk and get acquainted." And Xander lets himself be led out through the dancers and the bouncers, barely noticing his guide reach out to snag his coat and bottle from the table as they pass.
Too soon they are outside, the cold night air on his hot skin making him shiver, and he's achingly aware of what he's doing, courting danger, or is it danger which is courting him? Then his back is slammed against the wall and lips are on his lips and oh, that taste! Hands under his tee shirt claw his sides, his chest, his nipples and that mouth just keeps on sucking his last brain cells out through his tongue.
And then the demon is pulling back and frowning before moving in to do something that feels a lot more like being tasted than kissed. The hand that had curled around the back of his neck slides forward and is suddenly tight around his throat and Xander wonders if it's time to die now.
"I can smell Angelus on you, boy. Who the fuck are you?"
Fingers tighten even as the question is asked, and Xander is on tiptoes, scrabbling at the fingers that are crushing his larynx, stopping his breath entirely. A tiny nasal squeak escapes, and the demon visage fades back to human as the fingers loosen but not let go.
"I... I don't know any Angelus..." But even as the words are coming from his mouth, his eyes are opening wide in realisation, and the demon behind the human mask sees it and squeezes, just enough to make the point. Speak up or die.
"An... Angelus. Do you mean Angel?"
"Angel." A pink, pointed tongue slides out and tastes the name, snakelike, before retreating. "Tell me about this... Angel, my pretty pet. Tell me how you know him, what you know, and I might keep you around a while longer."
And even as one hand gives another squeeze around his throat, nails digging half moons in taut skin, the other is petting, stroking, tweaking, making Xander feel so alive so close to death. The answers fall from his lips without being censored and the demon pounces on them.
"Buffy... Angel helps Buffy, the Vampire Slayer."
Magic words, powerful words, that send this creature backing away from him for just a moment, just enough of a moment for Xander to grab a taste of freedom, before it's back, closer than before, mouth ghosting up the line of his throat and across his parted lips.
"You know the Slayer? The Chosen One? You are a prize, aren't you? Keeping you, I am."
A hard, hungry kiss leaves Xander panting and then he's being dragged down the street, away from the only bit of town he knows, the half mile between the club and the second rate motel he can barely afford, but he still doesn't panic, doesn't struggle or cry out, because, really, wasn't this what he wanted? Hasn't he come here to remember Jesse? To maybe try and make things right between them again? So, he's been accosted by a vampire who seems to know Angel. It has to mean something, it has to. And so Xander trails along as the demon stranger leads him to his fate.
Dru knows they're coming long before they arrive, and has her dolls all lined up for a tea party, waiting to greet their guest. She's clapping in delight even before the door is completely open.
"Have you brought me a present, my Spike? A pretty dolly to scream for me until the whispers stop? Is that why you've been gone so long?"
She slides from the bed, all lace and silk, and runs towards them, eager to claim her gift, then stops. Frowns. Approaches more cautiously, a puzzled expression on her pretty face.
"Oh, my Spike, you've caught yourself a very special kitten. He's not for me at all, though his pain sings to me so prettily, my sweet boy. I smell innocence and grief and guilt and... Oh! Spike! I can smell Daddy!" Fingers hooked like claws reach out and grasp at Xander's arm. "I smell Daddy on you, Kitten. Did he send you here, a present for his bestest boy and girl?"
And Xander cannot answer because he doesn't understand a single thing she's said so far, except the bit about the grief and guilt... and pain? But Spike is reaching out and prying her cold fingers from his arm, and drawing her away, back to the bed. He settles her in and rearranges the pillows and the dolls, and Xander can tell this is a regular thing.
This evil, soulless demon that has taken control of his life, such as it is, obviously cares a great deal for the strange, exotic beauty he is catering to. Xander knows that she is damaged somehow, almost childlike; though he doubts her ability to kill is much impaired. And he wonders again what Jesse had felt when the stake slid through his flesh. Did he have time to think, to regret that it was Xander who was responsible for taking his life? Had his, their, life flashed before his eyes, or might that even have happened before, when he was turned? If he had survived the accidental staking, could he have shown the care and love this unfamiliar monster now displays?
"Your kitten's tearing tiny little holes into his soul, my Spike. I see them, full of dirty dark brown poison and they weep the purest blood-red rage and fury. He's a strong one, is your kitten, but he doesn't know his fate has been rewritten. Someone moved the picture, changed the clocks and made the moon go black. His coming here has altered all the truths I've seen so now I must see more."
Dru pulls Spike down and kisses him quite delicately, then snuggles down into the heaps of comforters and pillows. "Your kitten's hurting, Spike. So purple-pretty and so raw. I think you need to go and help him grieve and ease his guilt and maybe make him bleed a little, just to let him know he's still alive. But not too much or else he'll leave us, and my Spike, that just won't do. I could smell Daddy on him, so he's special, just for us, so keep him safe and keep him close and make him ours, not hers no more."
Xander hears her whisper, knows it's likely about him but cannot find it in himself to give a damn. He's taken all these possibilities away from Jesse, not on purpose, true, but in the end his friend still turned to dust and he was told that that was best for all concerned. How do they know? How could they know? They didn't see his eyes, or hear his words before he died that second time. They just assume that demon equals bad; that vampires only want to kill or turn. And yet he's here, right now, with two of them, and he's feeling pretty confident that they don't mean him harm, or not the lethal kind at least, although the thought of even that won't make him turn and run in fear.
His memories of Jesse are interrupted by a cool hand taking his, and he looks up into eyes of purest blue that seem to burn a hole right through him to his soul.
"My princess needs her sleep, it's almost dawn, so let's adjourn this pity party for the night, okay with you, Pet?" And he's led, unresisting, out of the bedroom down the hall into another room, not quite as large, but just as dominated by the black silk sheeted double bed and crimson drapes that stretch from floor to ceiling.
"I'm feeling pretty tired myself, so let's just get you comfy, yeah, and then we'll get some sleep and talk some more when evening comes." And nimble fingers strip away his shirt and boots and socks and jeans. They linger on the waistband of his shorts before withdrawing with reluctance, which amuses, for a moment, till the apathy returns.
He's pushed back on the bed and nudged and turned and just allows the vampire, Spike, to rearrange him as he wants before the blue-eyed blond slides in between the covers, right up next to him, and wraps his arms and legs around him tight.
"I could get used to cuddling up to you at night like this, so warm and cosy. You won't try and leave us while I sleep, now will you, pretty? Won't try to sneak out in the sunlight when you know that we can't follow? You'd best not try it, pretty, cos I'd hate to have to hurt you but I would. You're mine now, mine to keep and care for, hurt or harm. And you know it, deep inside you, where the pain is sharp as knives. So sleep now, and I'll chase away the nightmares that won't leave while you're awake."
And Xander sleeps, entangled in the limbs of something he'd been told to hate. And he sleeps well.
But waking's not so simple and he fights to stay asleep with every ounce of strength he has, which isn't much. Then hands are on his shoulders and a weight is on his stomach and a voice is pulling him back to the world outside.
"Come on, pretty. All the way out now. Don't be hiding yourself in dreams when reality can be so much more fun." And Xander cracks his eyelids open and discovers that the weight upon his chest is a grinning Spike. The evening's strange events come flooding back and Xander waits a moment, braced for the shock and fear and waves of panic. Nothing comes, except a deep and gnawing hunger. For the first time in an age he wants to eat.
"What'll it be, Pet, eat, shag or talk first? I'm not bothered."
Xander's stomach makes it's choice heard quite emphatically, while Xander tries not to wonder just what shag might mean, and Spike rolls off to stand beside the bed, entirely nude and unashamed of it. His cock is standing proud and Xander stares at it, suddenly as curious as a cat. He's only ever seen one other cock before, besides his own, and both of those were neatly trimmed before they ever knew what they were missing. This alien piece of skin is fascinating, though a small part of him knows he's just avoiding facing up to what he's done and where he is and who he's with and maybe why.
A hand drifts down into his line of vision and gives a casual tug that makes him flinch. He didn't realise foreskins were so... stretchy. And then he blinks and looks away, and down, and up and gets ensnared by laughing baby blues.
"I'd crawl back into bed, but the way your stomach's growling I think I'd be more in danger of being bitten right now than you are. So up and at 'em, Pet. For obvious reasons we don't tend to keep much food about, so we'll be going out to find us something nice to eat."
Spike pulls him up and leads him to a door set in the corner of the room. "Have yourself a shower and do the necessary. Then get dressed but do not leave this room. Don't want you wandering around and getting nibbled on, the minions are a pretty stupid bunch; bite first, ask questions later."
He's ushered through the door, which shuts behind him, and Xander looks around the tiny room. It's obviously been utilised quite regularly, and he recalls how Jesse used to love a long hot shower when he woke up. He reaches out and turns the taps on, sets the temperature to almost tepid, then wriggles off his shorts and slides his teenage body into that cool torrent.
Barely fifteen minutes later he steps out into the bedroom, a towel around his hips and another round his shoulders like a cloak. His jeans are on the bed, as is his jacket, but the shorts and socks are new, and the silky-looking tee shirt isn't his. It's black and smaller than the clothes he's used to. It looks like it will cling and fit like skin.
He shrugs and puts the outfit on, the tee shirt sticking slightly to the damp skin of his back.
"Need some help?" a whisper by his ear as two cool hands unstick the shirt and smooth it down, real slow. He stands and lets those hands iron out the wrinkles, barely twitching when they tuck the soft material under the waistband of his jeans then pat his ass.
"I've had that baggy thing you came in burnt; it wasn't even fit for rags. We'll find you something decent later on, but first, let's eat. I'm sure there's something nice and juicy out there for us both to sink our teeth into."
They're halfway out the door when Xander pauses and looks nervous. His eyes flick up to Spike's and then away, then back, then down.
"I... My stuff, back at the motel... Could... could we get it? It's not much, but there's a couple of things I need and..."
Before he finishes his broken explanation Spike is nodding, turning back into the house and shouting out. "Hey, Hodgkins, get your pasty arse down here!" Then, turning back, "Which fleapit were you booked in, pretty? Still got your key, yeah? Here, I'll take that."
The room number and address of the motel are both etched into the lump of plastic hanging off the key, and Spike is unsurprised at the locale. He'd bet even the price of this dump took a huge chunk from his pretty's bankroll.
A skinny guy, quite tall and pale, comes trotting down the stairs, and Spike holds out the key and issues orders in a voice that's obviously used to being obeyed.
"My pet here wants his stuff back from this grotty little hole. Make sure you pick up every single thing that might be his. Put the bag in my room. See my Princess is well fed. Don't let her wander outside on her own; remember last time? And do make sure the leftovers get dumped as far from here as you can take them."
Grabbing hold of Xander's hand he squeezes, reassuring, and gives a tug to get his pretty moving.
"So what do you want to eat, pet? Burgers, pizza, deep fried chicken, or a lovely juicy steak with all the trimmings?" A slight intake of breath gives him his answer, and Spike smiles and knows just where he'll take his pet to fill his stomach.
They walk a while in silence, Spike wondering a little what is going on inside his new toy's head. Then,
"What's that, Pet?"
"My name's Xander. You keep calling me 'pet' and 'pretty'. My name is Xander."
Spike puzzles for a moment why his pet thinks that is relevant information. He's Spike's now, and he'll take what name he's given. Spike thinks. Was it because he sent a minion for the bag? Curiosity, plain and simple, that's what that was. An urge to know what it is the boy claims to need when life itself seems so disposable. Something of such importance that it makes him interact and ask a favour is something Spike has really got to see.
He gives a tug and Xander bumps into his shoulder. Spike turns to cup his face and catch his eyes.
"You're mine now, Pet, remember? Your name don't matter none, not now, not really. My Dru will call you Kitten, and I'll call you Pet, or Pretty, or a hundred different names and you will answer to them all because I say so."
Spike sees a flare of life, and maybe anger, in the eyes he's watching closely. He grins and knows he's in for quite a fight when his cute kitten rediscovers long lost claws. A swift hard kiss applies a patina of shy arousal to those eyes and Spike is satisfied he's made his point.
"Now stop your worrying, Pet, you'll ruin your appetite. We're here, so just relax, and enjoy your meal."
And yes, when Xander focuses, he sees that they are standing on the sidewalk of the main street, stopped outside a small Italian restaurant. He lets himself be led inside, his stomach growling at the smell of fresh cooked food, and wonders when he last ate something not out of a can or box or carton. A memory of Jesse roasting wieners on a stick over a campfire surfaces briefly, but the hand still holding his tugs him along and past a cart filled with tarts and tortes and a triple chocolate cake the size of Newark, and he's lost.
The next he knows, they're sitting at a table on a terrace, and Spike has tapped a finger on his nose to bring him back.
"So, I'm guessing you like chocolate just a bit, eh, Pet? We'll have some for dessert." And then he turns and gives their order to the waiter Xander hasn't even noticed standing there. "The largest steaks you've got and make them rare, with all the trimmings, but no garlic mushrooms, luv, 'cause I'm allergic. A bottle of Jack for me; the boy'll have milk. And make sure there's a nice big slice of chocolate cake for later, keep him happy."
They sit, each lost within their thoughts, until the drinks arrive. Then Xander takes a sip and frowns and asks the question Spike is hoping for.
"Why milk? I don't like milk."
"You need it, pet, you're skin and bone. You've not been eating right. Whatever's beating you up inside has got you in a right old sorry mess, and no mistake. I bet you haven't sat down for a proper meal in weeks, and no one's noticed. No one cared enough to see you're hurting and that's sad. But you're mine now, pet, so I'll take care of you, make sure you get the things you need, and more besides. I won't sit back and let you starve yourself under my nose. You'll eat, and eat good food, not junk. Don't worry; you'll still get chocolate... if you're good." But then Spike winks and grins, and Xander takes another sip of milk and tries to think.
He runs what he has heard back through his mind and tries to pick the words apart. He hasn't eaten much. He couldn't, not with Jesse always on his mind. Every time he looked at food his first thoughts were of his friend. Was it stuff he'd eat or not if he was still alive? And then Jesse would turn to dust again before his eyes; his appetite would fade and he'd feel sick. So, no, he hasn't eaten, and he's lost a little weight, but not that much, he thinks.
His parents hadn't noticed anything, but then again they hardly ever did. Benign neglect, he'd seen it called on talk shows. They probably didn't even know that Jesse was now amongst the ranks of the 'disappeared' of Sunnydale.
But even as he's pondering, he's following Spike's orders to eat up, and when he finally refocuses he sees he's eaten more today than he probably did last week. The sated feeling in his belly makes him pause and wonder, and before the apathy takes hold again he has to ask -
"What makes you think I wasn't eating? You don't know me, never met me before last night so how come you think you know so much about my life?"
Spike has watched his new pet thinking as he eats, verbally nudging him on when consumption slows. To Spike's delight the boy's responding well to his commands, and finishes all the steak, the trimmings and the milk before he blinks and actually notices what he'd done.
And now his pet is speaking, asking questions, and a tiny flare of life is in his eyes. A minute smear of blood adorns the corner of his mouth, and Spike pauses for a moment to admire the pretty images that paints in his imagination. Then he reaches out and with his thumb he wipes the smear away and brings it to his mouth and slowly licks.
"I know you haven't eaten 'cause your skin is almost hanging off your bones. And even if it wasn't, I can smell the pain and misery in you. Your chemistry is off, it's more acidic when your body has to fight itself for fuel. Much longer and your organs would have started to shut down."
Spike knows this is exaggeration, knows the boy is hardly close to death, but also knows that if he had continued down this road he might have been. Wide eyes accept his explanation, fingers pinching skin at narrow wrist in confirmation.
"I... Thank you, for the food and all. For... caring, when you..." Xander's voice broke. "You don't even know me..."
"I don't have to, Pet, you're mine now, that's what matters." He waves the waiter over and turns back to place his hand on Xander's wrist and squeeze it tight.
"Now you stay here and eat the chocolate cake I had them keep for you. Don't leave this table, Pet, or you'll be sorry. I'm going to find my own dessert; I'm sure you won't approve. Stay here and wait and have another milk if you get bored." Spike presses a violent kiss upon his boy and then is gone.
He saunters through the restaurant and out the door, somehow attracting no attention. He's left his pet alone and wonders will he still be waiting once the chocolate cake is gone and there's time to think.
It isn't such a big risk, really, everything considered. If the boy does make a run for it, he'll surely go straight home and, well, Sunnydale's already in their plans, and he can wait, if he must.
Picking up his pace, Spike prowls the streets in search of sustenance. A juicy, camera-laden tourist maybe, or an office drone or two. And then he sees his prize, a muscled lad, about as tall as his new pet, but broader, huskier, and cocky as can be. The swagger in his step sends out a siren call Spike's demon can't ignore, and he is off and following like a trout after a lure.
Spike can't believe his luck when his dessert turns on one heel and disappears down an alley to his right. And then he understands and with a feral grin he follows, unsurprised to feel an arm slip round his throat and see the other holding up a vicious blade to catch the light.
"Who the fuck do you think you're following, punk? I've taken bigger men than you without a knife."
Spike springs into action. One strong arm comes up to block the weapon hand; the other firmly grips the thumb under his jaw. Then one quick jerk, a snap, a scream, a twist, the knife is on the floor and Spike slips into gameface with a grin.
The cockiness is suddenly a puddle on the floor; the brash voice whimpers pleas for clemency. Spike sucks down adrenalin-spiced blood and gets an atavistic thrill. A hundred years and more and still the taste is like ambrosia on his tongue. It never changes, not by much: modern drugs of choice, a jolt of hormones, and the ever-present taint of modern living typified by a smorgasbord of chemical additives.
A nearby dumpster takes his offering of lifeless flesh, and Spike's back on the street, spring in his step, and with a near new leather jacket for his pet. Oh, life is good. The only possible ray of sun on the horizon is the thought that maybe Pretty has absconded while Spike's back is turned.
The cake is rich, the chocolate bittersweet on Xander's tongue, and yet the first few bites he hardly even tastes. His mind's still on the kiss, the care, the interest Spike's shown in him so far. He somehow can't get past the realisation that this demon, this dead thing, has really looked at him and seen something worth claiming for its own. The knowledge that he's wanted scares him rigid, for he knows he always fails at stuff like this; he's such a screw-up. Somehow he always seems to disappoint those who should care for him, and this time disappointment could mean death.
He sips the milk he ordered as Spike said he should, and wonders why the thought that he might die has suddenly gained such great importance in his mind. Yesterday he didn't give a damn, but now a demon's made him care and... is that right? Should a creature who, right now, is busy slaughtering at will, should a beast like that be able to touch his heart, not through his chest, but just by word and kiss and deed? His fork ticks on the porcelain and Xander sees he's finished off the cake and barely noticed it go down. And suddenly he's full to bursting, stomach unaccustomed to such fare in quite a while. A panicked look around is little help, but the motion draws their waiter to his side.
"W...Washroom, please? I need..." The pale tinge to his skin completes the sentence and he's helped up from the table and assisted to a door with artful ease. Once inside, the bolt slides home, then Xander's on his knees and losing everything he's hardly even noticed himself eat. And finally the tears begin to fall. The grief he's kept inside, and all the stress and guilt and hurt comes pouring out in wide-mouthed sobs that shake him to his soul.
Spike is fairly bouncing as he slips back through the restaurant, heading for their table on the terrace without pause. Then he sees it, cleared of plates and glasses, no one sitting there, and rage towards himself comes to the fore. He'd known it was too soon to leave his pretty on his lonesome, but no, he had to go and grab a bite, and now it might be weeks before...
A light hand on the arm that's draped in extra leather makes him spin and snarl, but the waiter simply smiles and nods towards a door and whispers magic words to soothe the beast.
His pet's not gone, he's doing... things, that human bodies need, and that's okay, Spike thinks, but then he hears the sobs. Three great strides and as the door flies open Spike goes stalking in, without a care for who might see his shocking non-reflection in the mirror on the wall. The cubicle the furthest from the sink is where he crosses to, the sounds of misery and sad despair act like a beacon. The door resists his tug and is summarily ejected from it's frame, is tossed away so Spike might sink down to the floor and pull his crying, shaking pet into his arms.
"I've got you, Pretty. There now, hush." He sets them rocking, joyous as two weakly trembling arms slide round his waist and latch on tight. "I'll not leave you alone again like this, make no mistake. You'll never be alone again, I swear. I'll keep you safe..."
The crying jag goes on for quite some time, until their waiter slips inside and, with apologies, explains that others really need to 'go'. He enters bearing gifts: one glass of water, one of milk. He offers them an office, tucked away behind the kitchens, where no one would interrupt them while they 'talk', but Spike declines. His inner demon's howling with the need to take this pain and make it his; to take this boy and make him his alone, erasing all the memories that burn so very bright behind those eyes.
Instead Spike nods a thank you to the man and makes it plain that they will leave as soon as he can calm his boy. With murmured words and rhythmic rocking, gentle strokes and pats, Xander's wrenching sobs are finally reduced to hitching sighs.
"Let's get your coat on, Pet. We'll pay our bills and then we'll go. I should have had more sense than fill you up until you pop. I never quite remember just how delicate you humans really are." He sighs. "We'll pick some soup up on the way back home and get you fed. Again." Then, like a father with a child, he raises up the water to that pair of trembling lips and tilts the glass.
"Sip it, rinse and spit, eh, luv? I can smell the bile from here; it must taste foul." And Xander does exactly as he's bid, then drinks the milk that's held up just the self same way. He'd be content to stay there in the comfort of those arms but they shift and ease him back against the wall so Spike can rise.
He holds the purloined leather out and Xander sniffles, wipes his eyes and stares in blank confusion. His hand comes up to tug the thin lapels of his light jacket and his head begins to shake, not in refusal, just in puzzlement.
"I've g...got my jacket on, S...Spike. That's n...not mine. I've n...never owned anything li...like that." His breathing stutters wildly as he tries to stifle sobs that just wont die. Spike simply shakes his head and wraps his quivering stray in leather soft as butter.
"It's yours now, pretty, 'cause I say so, yeah? No need to fret. It'll keep you warm and fit you right, once we've filled you out a bit."
Spike holds out his prize again, expecting swift obedience. A flash of golden eyes is all it takes. Xander peels his threadbare cotton coat from his thin frame, and offers it up to Spike with a shy, expectant smile. The demon takes it, quite bemused, and makes a mental note to dump it, quick.
Then Xander slides his arms into the jacket made of finest dark grey leather, the silk-soft lining unbelievably sensuous on his skin. He shivers, pulls the body close around him and then spies the tiny hand-embroidered logo on the breast. The name is something foreign, unfamiliar, but the quality, the cut, is unmistakeably top-dollar. It probably cost more than everything he's ever worn. The kind of coat he's always wanted, always known he'll never have. And now it's his, but...
With a sigh, he thrusts his hands deep into silk-lined pockets, accepting for the moment that it's his, at least until life finds a way to take it back.
"Looks good on you, Pet, leather does. I'd like to see you wearing more of that."
Xander shrugs and blushes and looks down at his feet in mute dismissal of the unexpected compliment. Spike reaches out and tugs the collar up to frame the beautiful sweet face that is imprinted on his mind. And then he takes a tight grip on the jaw and squeezes hard, tilting back that face till Xander meets his eyes.
"You will listen when I speak to you. If I tell you you look good then you'll believe it or I'll know the reason why. I couldn't give a toss what those wankers in your past have made you think, but they aren't here now, Pet, there's only you and me, and I'm the one who'll tell you what you need to hear."
Fingers clamp down tighter. Fragile flesh of cheek and lip is mashed against resilient teeth and bone. The demon knows its vice-like grip could crush this jaw quite easily. It hungers for the so familiar feel and sound and rush. Spike controls the urge and eases up, but stops to watch, to hear, to smell the sweet hot blood come pumping in. His demon-sharpened vision lets him see the ink stain bruises that will probably be glorious tomorrow, and he smiles.
Xander doesn't move or blink, he doesn't say a word. He's been here in this space a hundred times or more and though he knows he's never going to win, he hopes and prays this time it's different, just this once, and then... it is.
No punches, slaps or kicks, no castigation follows on from that tight grip. Instead, those fingers, punishingly tight just breaths before, are ghosting, light as feathers, over lips and cheek and hair.
"My pretty pet." The words are steeped in pride, and Xander falters for a moment and then understands, the pride is meant for him. This preternatural creature's proud of him, and that's enough to finally ignite a tiny spark of dignity in Xander that he's never felt before.
"My pretty pet. I'll have you standing tall before you know it."
While Spike settles up the bill and offers extra for the broken door, Xander stands in shadows in the corner, gently petting his new coat. His fingers curled in soft lapels, he holds the collar closed, mouth and nose eagerly inhaling, tasting, rich new scents. The leather has a comforting dark odour, tinged with smoke and oak and something vaguely coppery he steadfastly ignores. And layered over that there is a hint of real cologne, the kind he's only ever dared to sniff at in the mall. The owner, previous owner, of the coat has worn it recently, and he shivers at the thought that they might someday want it back. And then again, because, instinctively, he knows they won't.
He watches Spike remove a folded wallet from his jeans, the monogram 'J.P.' picked out in faded gold design. He tries hard not to wonder if the 'J' once stood for Jesse. Or for Jason, or for James, or maybe Joe. Too late he recognises his mistake, and Jesse's there, right there in front of him, a look of accusation on his face, the disbelief as he is knocked onto the stake held tight in Xander's shaking hand. And Xander tastes that dust again, feels it clog his chest. He starts to cough, to retch, to try and shift that ghostly blockage from his throat.
Spike is there in seconds, wallet swiftly stowed away, and they hurry out into the evening air. A battered flask is pushed into his hand and Xander takes a sip, choking once again, this time on heady liquor fumes.
"Right. Maybe not the best idea, but... Hey!"
Xander takes another, larger, slug and swallows fast. The alcohol burns harshly but it cleanses as it flows, sluicing out the lingering remainders of that taste. He lifts the flask again but Spike steps in and grabs it back.
"Oh no, Pet. I'm not carrying you home."
The flask is disappeared into a pocket with a flourish and then they're walking back the way they came, their hands entwined. The people on the sidewalk flow around them, quite oblivious to the pretty, undead monster in their midst. And Xander realises that he's never seen a crowd like this at home, not after sunset, and that's sad. The sounds of laughter, jumbled conversations in the moonlight, make him sigh and wonder just when Sunnydale became so dark, so quiet and fearful.
His pretty boy is seeing and reacting and that's good, Spike thinks. At last he's showing real signs of life. He hopes that tiny spark won't sputter out before he's had a chance to taste, to play, to feed it some more fuel.
He's making plans to feed the flame when he sees them closing in, a pack of feral teens out on the prowl. Five of them, all dressed in 'tough kid' gear, out for a fight, and Spike decides a fight's exactly what they'll get.
Xander is oblivious to their hunters, and he follows as Spike leads him from the sidewalk, down an alley that's not fit for man or beast. He falters when he hears the sounds behind them; snickering voices, snicks of blades and shuffling feet. Spike's hand gives his a squeeze and then lets go, and Xander is alone in shadows, watching as the demon takes the stage.
"Oh look, guys, sissy queer here wants to fight. I'll take him on. You go on and grab his little boyfriend, have some fun, this won't take long and then I'll join you for a... Unh!"
Even though he knows he should be frightened, Xander watches as the vampire takes them on, all armed with knives and chains and steel toe-capped boots. The sounds and smells of violence and garbage make him glad his stomach's empty from it's earlier upset, although, for once, the usual urge to puke in fear is strangely absent from his life.
Until, that is, a knife is at his throat and there's a chuckle in his ear.
"Your boyfriend's good, he's really quite a fighter, for a gay boy. I didn't think he'd last this long at all, but never mind. Those guys are only playing with him, working off some stress. While they have fun, let's have ourselves a party."
And even though he's scared, because, well, knife!, he's somehow not, because his captor doesn't seem to understand. The stress that's being worked off isn't theirs it's Spike's; already three of them are on the ground. A final-sounding crunch and that makes four down, one to go, and still the idiot behind him doesn't see.
A blur, a yelp, a sudden drag of blade on skin, and once again he's free to turn and watch the fight go down. He barely even notices the sluggish flow of blood that trickles from the nick beneath his chin.
The vampire tastes the air and sees the reddened glistening steel and is enraged. A blink and now the knife is in his hand, the upstart pup is at his mercy, and his pet is open-mouthed. Spike decides a lesson could be taught here, if he handles it just right and takes a chance.
"He hurt you, Pet. He wanted to hurt me. They saw us, out there on the street, just holding hands, and figured we were prey, too weak to fight, protect ourselves. They knew what they were doing, came prepared, tooled up and hunting for a thrill. Which one of us looks like the monster now, eh, him or me? At least I kill for food. He kills for sport, for fun, to party with his mates."
Xander looked and listened. He knew that everything Spike said was true, that they'd been thinned out from the herd and hunted down for holding hands while being male, and that was wrong. But, somewhere, deep within the darkest corner of his mind, he knew that other things were happening here, that something here was off somehow, but then Spike spoke again and it was gone.
"You ever have a chance to get your own back on the bastards of the world who beat you down and keep you down and make you sorry you were born? This is it, pet. Here's your chance to shine, to make them pay, to make them bleed, to make them scream and beg for mercy. Here's your chance."
And Spike lets loose his grasp upon the youth intent on murder, and knows it never passes through his mind to run for freedom when his friends are lying there, brought down by 'queers'.
Sure enough, the fool heads straight for Xander, slams him hard into the wall and they go down, all fists and fury, out for blood and for revenge. Xander's disbelief is burned away by his desire to stay alive, something he hasn't really felt for far too long.
The first punch leaves him breathless, the second makes him mad, and before the third has landed he is fighting back with everything he has. The face of his opponent swiftly changes: father, uncle, high school bully, vampire, mantis-lady. Everyone who's ever made him feel so small and worthless gets a turn beneath his fists and he is glad. His fury won't be beaten and the thug who thought he'd found an easy mark is soon a huddled ball of pain curled on the concrete at his feet.
The demon wants to see his pretty toy make its first kill, but eventually the smarter side of Spike begins to show. He knows his pet is fragile still; a murder on that conscience would destroy him without doubt, so Spike steps in and lifts him off the beaten form.
He edges in between them, making sure his boy can't clearly see the damage he has done. Spike doubts the shape behind him will be moving much tonight, or much at all unless some help arrives quite soon. The pulse is weak and thready; he can hear the whistling sound of damaged lungs and feels the need to get his pretty far away before the gurgling begins.
"You beat him, pet. You won, now let's be off, eh, 'fore the cavalry arrives."
Xander's on his knees in muck, shaking as he falls from his adrenaline-fuelled high back to the world he knows, the world that's filled with shadows and with pain, and oh, he hurts. His knuckles throb, his lip is split, the socket of one eye has its own pulse that's pounding back against his brain and trying to shake loose all his teeth. Ribs and innards, skin and bone and muscle, all are aching now and Xander's trying hard to find a focus, something solid to latch onto, and then suddenly it's there.
A hand extends in silent invitation. Bone white fingers, nails as black as pitch, just hover there, inviting trust, demanding acquiescence. Xander doesn't even stop to think of other choices...
The trembling hand that latches onto his and holds on tight, shows Spike a trust in him he's never seen before today. This boy, this child, who's placed his hand in his, is hurting, in and out, and trusts that Spike will take the pain away. The demon crows with glee and wild delight at such pure faith, and hungers for the chance to break it down. Outwardly he smiles and holds his pugilistic puppy to his chest, all broken sobs and sniffs and shaking shoulders once again.
"There now, Pet. Don't feel so bad. You stood up for yourself, you should be proud. You won, this time; you should be feeling good, so ditch the guilt. We never asked for any bit of this, now did we, eh? Those idiots thought we were easy marks but they were wrong, and they've paid the price for picking on the weak."
Spike gives the shivering bundle in his arms one last hard squeeze, then eases back an inch or two and sighs.
"Chin up, Kitten, let's be on our way and get you clean again. We'll leave this rotten garbage where it lies."
But Xander tries, just once, to see the damage he has done, and Spike moves in again and blocks his view.
"None of that now, luv, you beat the bastard fair and square. No going back for seconds on my watch."
Indignant, Xander lifts his chin, preparing to deny, and just like that Spike's focus is elsewhere.
"Tilt your head back, Pet, so I can see what's to be done. He caught you good and proper under there." And Xander feels the pull and burn of skin sliced roughly open, as, obediently, he does what he is told.
He jumps when Spike swoops in and starts to nuzzle at the wound, that cool, wet, lapping tongue a gentle balm. A near sub-sonic rumble, not quite purr and not quite growl, soothes his nerves and dulls his troubles while it lasts. He's quietly content to stand and wait as Spike administers an odd vampiric version of first aid. He wonders why he has no fear, well, nothing more than usual. It's surprising, with a demon at his throat.
And then that clever mouth and agile tongue are at his lips, seeking out the split to lick away the blood that's almost dried. Two hands, as cold as ice on flesh too hot from nerves and battle, rise up to tangle tightly in his hair. A gentle tug brings forth a whimpering gasp and fast as lightning Spike is in, his tongue exploring every dip and curve and angle it can find.
Xander's arms creep slowly around his waist and Spike's in ecstasy. His pet is coming on in leaps and bounds. The hunger that's inside, that wants to take and take and take, is quickly lost beneath the urge to wait. Those tiny sips of blood, so freely given, burn like lava in his veins, and he has never felt their like before today. He aches to know if everything tastes sweeter when it's given as a gift, not ripped away with brutal force. He needs to know.
Spike pulls off to let his pretty drag in needed breath, and watches as dark eyes blink back their lusty, dazed expression. The cock against his thigh is hard and full, the same as his, and that's enough to put a smile upon his face.
"C'mon, Pet, time's a-wastin'! Let's get you home and clean and see what's what." And with a wink he dives back in for one brief fragile kiss, before entangling their fingers once again.
Once Xander's sense is back from it's impromptu short vacation, he sees that they're already on their way. The alley is just a dark smudge in the distance and already it's a dream, a shadowed nightmare that is fading, crumbling slowly into dust, until the crimson-tinted details are a blur of rusty greys.
Spike has set a pace that keeps them moving through the night, not giving either of them any time to pause. He wants them home and safe, he wants the doors locked tight behind, he wants the beauty by his side tucked in his bed. He wants the whole thing over, wants his princess fit and well, he wants to know what visions she has seen. He wants too much, he hungers for it; knows he has to wait, but patience never was his saving grace.
A sharp tug on his hand and then the sound of frantic wheezing make him stop and turn to see what's going on. His kitten doubles over, bracing hands on shaking thighs before he's drawing in great gouts of night-chilled air. Spike realises while his thoughts were racing, so was he, and this poor human had been struggling to keep up; it makes him proud.
He's glad his little jaunt last night has netted him this prize. He's always had an eye for pretty boys, mostly for Dru. But this one? This is his, his pet, his choice, and what a perfect choice it is indeed. Such eagerness to please, such blind obedience, such trust. Oh yes, his kitten's gonna do him proud.
A cigarette is lit and Spike waits patiently, for him, one booted foot tap-tapping on the ground. He's contemplating lighting up a second when that shaggy head lifts up and jerks about, in search of him?
"S...sorry, Spike. I'm sorry, I just..."
"Had to stop and breathe? I get it, Pet, you're only human after all. Can't hardly put the blame on you for that, now can I, eh?"
A muffled snort that might just be a laugh is his response, and Spike extends a hand to help the human straighten up.
They're halfway up the staircase when they hear the screaming start, the eardrum-piercing shriek that cuts the air. They're barely on the landing, Xander towed along by Spike, before the agonising cry becomes a moan and then is gone. A laugh, as cold as crystal, and as sharp, rings out in glee. Spike flinches at the sound and turns his back.
"You wait here in my room, Pet. Take a shower, take a nap." He opens up the door and looks inside. "Your bag's there on the bed but don't be opening it without me here to see. A little wait won't hurt you none and I insist. I have to see to Dru, she's sounding bored and that's not good, but promise me you'll stay behind this door. A minion gets a hold of you, you're vamp food, understood? I need to know you're in here, safe and sound."
A wide-eyed nervous nod greets his demands, and moments later Xander's safely in the room, the door shut tight. The holdall on the bed sends out a siren call he's helpless to resist. He has to touch this solid, oh-so-very-real reminder of the swiftly fraying fabric of his life.
Standing just outside the door, Spike hears him cross the room. He listens for a sound that never comes. The boy is on the bed, the springs squeak gently, then are still, but he doesn't pull the zipper, not one click. Spike lets out a sigh and turns to face the task at hand. His dark princess will want to play a game...
There's a body, disembowelled, beside the bed that cradles Dru. She lies, festooned in coils of small intestine, serpentine and slightly steaming in the coolness of the room. She claps her hands.
"Your kitten drew first blood today, I bet he tasted sweet. He must be even sweeter than the cherries in the pie."
Spike nods and tries to find an unstained patch of hand-stitched quilt, but gives up when his princess starts to pout. He sinks into the pillows by her head and lets her snuggle close. Her fingers, drenched in gore, caress his cheek.
"Nobody likes the games I play, 'cept you, my darlin' Spike. Play with me a little before the kitten calls you back? He's very nearly yours but never ours; must taste you, blood and bone. You have to pluck the other from his heart and take his place. He'll bleed for you when she tries to steal him back."
Once the screaming starts anew Xander quickly moves into the shower, hoping water in his ears will drown the cries Drusilla makes as she begs for more. He lathers up and scrubs from head to toe and then again, convinced the alley's dirt is somehow trapped beneath his skin. His bruises and abrasions throb a strident plea for mercy but he doesn't stop until the water is threatening to run cold.
Then he dries off slowly, soft towels coarse against his shiny pink new skin. Each darkening purple bloom a rich new note in the symphony of quiet discomfort that plays out its mournful hymn inside his head.
It almost, but not quite, blocks out the squeals of pain and ecstasy that leave him feeling nauseous and weak. His bag, still sitting squarely on the bed, makes whispered promises to chase away the pain, the thoughts, the shrill discordant cries that keep him twisted up as tightly as a spring. And he gives in.
Xander doesn't notice when Spike steps inside and shuts the door. He's curled up on the bed around his bag, loud music blaring through the tiny little speakers in his ears. The first he knows is when Spike grabs the wires and pulls them free, the unexpected silence screaming louder then than Dru had ever done. He swallows, hard.
The yellow-eyed, ridged demon in his face is dressed in nothing but a pair of undone jeans and smears of blood, not all his own. The alabaster flesh is scored with livid, raised striations, the claw marks of a she-cat spawned in hell. Here and there are sharper, cleaner slices through the skin and deeper, oozing out a drop or two of blood - she'd used a knife. And over and around these marks are scattered perforations, ragged, part-sealed eyelets made by vicious fangs.
Strong fingers, pressing hard on half-formed bruises on his jaw, remind him once again of who's in charge.
"I gave you just one order, Pet, I thought you understood. I told you not to touch, and yet you did; you'll have to pay for that. Any final words before we start?"
Xander takes a breath and tries to organise his thoughts, but linear progression won't be had. Instead, what tumbles out are fractured phrases, mixed with memories, and Spike is gifted with another clue about his pet.
"The screams. So loud, so... Hate it. Hate it always. Wouldn't stop... It never stops. He just keeps on and..." Xander swallows hard once more and tries again.
"I didn't really open it, you know, not how you meant it. The player's in the pocket on the end. The zip was open, just a bit, and I pulled the headphones free. I poked around until I hit on 'play'."
Golden eyes flick down between their knees to where the bag lies waiting, follow slender wires to their source and then return.
"Clever little puppy, aren't you? Never break the rules? I'll have to keep the sharpest eye on you."
Spike takes a small step back and really looks at what he's chosen for his own, all shining eyes and hot pink skin, and earnest honesty that makes the demon want to sink his fangs in deep and suck out every drop. He really hopes that Dru's not raving when she says they need to keep this boy alive, and sweet, and firmly on their side, because he knows temptation is the only thing he's never learned to fight. But he will try.
"I need a shower but I don't think I trust you on your own. You come and keep me company while I wash." And locking fingers round a skinny wrist, Spike hauls them both onto their feet and leads the way into the bathroom where the air's still warm and damp.
"If you've used up all the hot I'll have you lick me clean from head to foot, and don't think I won't use the scented stuff, because I will."
As Xander pales, Spike twists the hot tap on and moans as scalding water starts to fall onto his aching skin.
"Put the loo seat down, luv. Take a pew, I won't be long."
He grins as he's obeyed without a pause, and starts to bathe, his every move designed to catch the eye. His pretty pet is staring, watching every soapy, slow caress, his mouth half open, panting in the steam. A tongue peeks out and slides along dry lips and Spike's hand drops down to his crotch and starts to lather up in haste. He wants to feel that warm, abrasive pad against his cock; he needs to feel those lips around his shaft. His hand moves faster, tighter, and he spies his pretty's blush and the thought of all that blood near gets him off.
Frustration rears its ugly head and Spike turns down the heat. He shivers as cold water hits his flesh. In moments he is rinsed and out and holding up a towel.
"C'mon, Pet. Dry me off before I freeze."
Xander takes the towel and without thought begins to dry, his mind still focussed on the sight he'd seen. A hand, a cock, mass of soapy bubbles and a face that's drawn in ecstasy and creased with self-denial... because of him?
The thought that he's the cause, to blame, is worthy of that look is quite enough to keep him totally distracted as he dries. He only halts when fingers snatch the towel away and lock around his wrist to lead him back towards the bed.
They settle on the mattress with the bag sitting between them, both clad in nothing but a towel apiece.
"Let's see just what you think is so important, shall we Pet? You got the Crown Jewels stashed inside your socks?"
Not waiting for an answer, Spike grabs hold and yanks the zip, delighting in the flinch the harsh noise brings. Without a pause he's folding back the flap and digging in, socks and tee shirts tossed out of the way. And then he slows, a look of disbelief upon his face. One hand lifts up a stake and holds it out.
"Is this what's so important, luv? This worth the fuss you made?" But no, his pet's still focussed on the bag.
One flex of bicep, triceps, bone and cartilage and what was once a stake is now a scattering of splinters. Spike reaches in again and grabs a battered tin designed to hold tobacco, though he doubts from pretty's face that what's inside is quite as innocent as that.
"Brought your stash along, eh, Pet? That's thoughtful, that is; hope you'll let me share."
Ignoring shaking hands that try to wrest the tin away, Spike uses black, chipped nails to pry the lid. He hardly even registers the monotonic 'nonononono' as the lid resists his attempts to ease it free.
And then it pops.
A tiny cloud of dust and ash flies up and tumbles back down to the quilt, and then he realises that what had been inside the tin was what his pet had made the focus of his sorry life.
The boy is scrabbling, trying to catch each flake, each dusty smear, and all Spike hears is 'Jesse. Jesse. Oh Gods, Jesse, no. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry...'
"Jesse! No, please don't... I'm sorry. Jesse, please... Don't leave me! Don't, please, Jesse... No! Come back!"
Spike is stunned, confused, and then realisation dawns. His pet's been carrying round a dusted vamp. The grief, the guilt, the anguish, all the pain he's held inside, is pouring out with each recaptured fleck. And when Spike reaches out to draw him close and offer comfort, his pretty doesn't even seem to see. He's acting like he hasn't noticed Spike is on the bed, too busy trying to gather up his mate.
"Pretty, leave it be now. There's nothing to be done. There's nothing you can do with all that dust but build a shrine to it, and the only vamp you'll worship here is me."
And Spike understands he might as well have spoken in Fyarl for all the good his remonstrations do. His pet is madly clawing at the smears and streaks of black, trying to scrape them back into the tin. Enough's enough.
Trying not to damage his new toy, well, not too much, Spike reaches out and takes a gentle hold of both slim wrists. He's somehow not surprised to have to clamp down pretty hard when a screaming snarling wildcat tries to twist and throw him off.
"Let me go, you bastard! Have to... Can't just let him... No!"
Spike wonders why his pet is so much stronger than he looks, but realises now is not the time. Instead he wraps his arms around the boy and tumbles backwards, to land them in a heap beside the bed.
A few frantic moments later and he's got his pretty pinned; hand and foot and naked groin to groin, their dampened towels a tangled knot beside their madly writhing hips. Spike's interest takes a turn towards the erotic for a moment but his feral beauty isn't in the mood for fun and games. Then Spike is using every ounce of strength to hold him down, to keep him down, to stop him damaging them both.
Minutes pass and Spike is trying in vain not to react to the body that's still trapped beneath his own. His cock is hard and hungry, and every heave and buck only serves to dial the fever up a notch. He's oh so very tempted to lean in and take a taste, just steal a nip, a sip, a tiny dram of what is his, and really, who's to say that that would be so very wrong?
Spike adjusts his grip and moves in fast, fangs dropping smoothly, features rearranging as he goes. His Pretty has no chance to counteract the demon's speed and whines as Spike's incisors sink in deep.
The first ambrosial droplet of that liquor on his tongue is tinged with bitter fear and defeat. Spike can't help compare it to the taste he had before, the sweetness of that gift so freely given. He wonders if he'll ever taste its like again in time, if Pretty will forgive him this harsh act.
The struggling grows weaker as Spike takes each new draught; the exertion and the draining take their toll. Eventually the boy is lying motionless and cowed, and steady streams of tears bathe his face. His eyes are screwed shut tight, his body limp, his breathing shallow, and Spike figures out he thinks he's going to die.
One last gentle lick and Spike pulls back and rolls aside, gathering his boy into his arms, a soft embrace.
"Didn't want to do that, luv. Didn't have a choice. You passed the point of talking some time back. Couldn't let you do that to yourself, it wasn't right. Your mate'd say the same if he was here, you know he would. He'd want you to move on, you soppy git."
Xander sniffs and burrows closer, only half aware. He could easily get used to being held like this, like something precious; could easily learn to need this vampire's touch.
"Now I know what broke you I can fix you, Pet, I swear. I'll never let you hurt like that again."
A promise. No one ever makes him promises like that. None had ever known that they were needed. And yet, in one short day, his needs and wants and fears and lusts have been stripped down to basics and rebuilt, at least a little. For that he owes the monster in whose arms he blindly lies.
"S... Sorry. I just couldn't... He was..." Sobs begin anew, as Xander turns his face towards the bed. "I loved him. He was mine! She had no right to... but she did. And then he... and I said... and he was gone. I'd do anything to bring him back, anything at all! He's the only one who really understood..."
Xander moves his head again and winces at the pain - the knife wound and the bite are both still sore. He knows he should be freaking, should be begging for his life, but, well, he isn't being drained right now, that's of the good, right?
His sigh is part confusion, part exhaustion, and some pain. He wonders when the comforting will end. Spike shifts and Xander figures that the answer would be now, then goes to do some shifting of his own.
"Where d'you think you're going, Pet? Not finished with you yet. Just need to get you rearranged a bit." And Xander lets himself be tugged and pushed and gently twisted until his vampire mattress is content.
"That's better. Now, we need to fix you up a little, luv. You've taken quite a beating since we met, and some before. You've bruises on your bruises, you've got scrapes and cuts and bites, and you've probably got a carpet burn or two. If you trust me I can take away the worst of that tonight. You'll get out of bed tomorrow good as new, or near enough. But you have to trust me, Pretty; I can't do it if you don't. It'd probably make you sicker than you were..."
Spike waits and pets and strokes and knows his lies are going to work, his lovely boy's too weak from rapid blood loss to resist. He nods and Spike decides that's not enough, he wants the words. He tilts his new toy's head to catch his eye.
"I've gotta hear it, luv. You need to say it, clear and true. Tell the world you trust me with your life."
His reddened eyelids flicker and he licks his trembling lips, and Spike can feel the exultation rise.
"I trust you Spike. I know that you're a demon and you kill, but I trust you not to cause me too much pain. You... care for me. I don't understand why, but you do, and I believe that when you change your mind you'll make that painless too."
Spike isn't sure he likes his boy's assumption there at all, but he's said the magic words and that's what counts. He lifts his wrist and uses one sharp fang to nick a vein, then holds the bleeding limb to Pretty's mouth.
"Drink up, Pet, it'll cure whatever ails you soon enough. It'll help build up the strength you've lost as well. It wont hurt you none, you trust me, yeah? It'll heal you up a treat. Can't wait to get you back up on your feet so we can play."
Spike curls his tongue behind his teeth and gives a sexy grin, and his Kitten swallows hard and starts to suck.
'Grungefic' has been nominated for The Unfinished Fic Award at The White Knight Awards. It has also been nominated for Best Angst, Best Drama, Best Plot and Best Unfinished at The SunnyD Memorial Awards and for The Inside Your Twisted Mind (Spike Characterisation) Award and The Bleeding Soul Award at The Fade To Black Awards.