“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Willow said quietly.
Only Buffy reacted to the statement, squeezing her hand in silent understanding. It had been a solid day of talking, shouting and arguing tossed in sporadically. The only real consensus was that they all felt sick.
“He—he looks like Pinnochio! With the big eyes and the empty expression and he’ll do anything.”
At first it had almost been a joke: make the Big Bad play the puppet for whoever wanted to pull his strings. Giles had been methodical in his commands, trying to ascertain how far the compulsion to obey went. Willow had been curious, almost offering her commands as proof that she understood what was going on and was ready to help Giles with whatever he asked. Buffy—Buffy hadn’t really believed. Not until her one off hand comment—
It wasn’t malicious. It couldn’t have been; the look on her face when he opened that door. . . That was when it really hit home for them. Xander already knew, but even he had been horrified by the look of absolute bliss as Spike prepared to walk out into the bright, Saturday morning sunshine. It was doubtful that Spike had any idea that Buffy had basically ordered him to kill himself. All he knew was the order Buffy had given and the pleasure he felt from obeying it.
Xander ran a hand through his hair, not even wondering why he needed the reassurance. He hated vampires. The sky was blue, Giles liked books, work was annoying—and Xander hated vampires. A soul and a chip had forced him to work with two, but that hadn’t really changed his mind. Vampires were evil things that needed to be killed and he hated them.
Even Xander couldn’t hate Spike now.
“This could be a side-effect, right?” Buffy had gone very quiet after she’d ordered Spike back inside. Now she sounded distressed, almost frantic. “Like weight gain or nausea? Or, you know, wetting the bed? I mean, this can’t be what they wanted.”
At his feet, he felt Spike curl even closer. Dammit, he thought, forcing himself to calm down. Apparently, vampires could smell emotions and Giles was pretty sure that it was scent more than any other sense that influenced the chip. I’m pissed at Buffy, not you, okay?
“We can’t know until we hear from Riley.” Giles had said that a number of times and ways, weariness and nausea clear every single time. “Until then, Buffy, I think it’s a good idea for you and Willow to go about your day as normal. You both have papers due, I believe, and you mentioned needing to go to the library?”
Willow began to pant in her outrage. “Normal? Giles, they—they turned him into a pet! They made him—”
“They made the chip offer a reward as well as punishment. Right now, Willow, that is all we know.” Rising, Giles gathered up the scattered glasses and plates, placing them by the sink. “We cannot do anything without Riley. Until we have some idea of what the Initiative wanted, we cannot even attempt to plan our next move. So, until then, we should make use of our time and do the things we need to. I have several errands I must run and you girls need to do your schoolwork. Now, if you please.”
Xander didn’t say anything while the chastised girls picked up their bags and made their farewells. He remained on the sofa as the door shut behind them. It could have been, of course, that Giles didn’t have an easy direction to prod Xander in—but probably not.
“This is going to be complicated.”
And the award for massive understatement goes to the British guy with the alcohol-spiked tea.
“They don’t understand what this means. They have no concept of this kind of mind control.” Giles voice was calm and controlled, the way it had been during the first few hours before they called the girls.
“No. They don’t.”
Buffy was worried about the implications to her boyfriend and the organization he worked for. Well, they knew the Initiative was rotten, but creating a patchwork demon was a diabolical par for normal on the Hellmouth; Buffy was used to it. She was also still very disturbed by at how her offhand, disbelieving order had almost destroyed Spike—and how happy he’d been, following it.
Willow was empathizing with what she thought Spike was going through, covering her pity with the same kind of compassion she’d offered a dead Chumash tribe that was more interested in skewering them. There was no doubt in his mind that Willow’s compassion was real, pity or not. It always was. But then she starts asking questions and gets curious and suddenly you’re a bug under a glass. . .
Kinda hard not to when he got so desperate that he blew me on the ride over. And thank god Giles didn’t need too many details to paint that not-so-comic-y strip. While not the most humiliating conversation of his life, it had definitely ranked up there on the list of those he never wanted to repeat. Thankfully, it was Giles who told the more personal aspects of the tale, carefully masking and glossing over details so that a curious witch and a determined slayer never realized they were missing something.
They couldn’t have handled it. They fight evil like Lex Luthor or Darth Vader—not this kind of evil.
Spike’s hands were on Xander’s leg. His hands were not allowed to move from the position they had been placed, not the tiniest amount. It had sickened Xander when he realized he didn’t need to offer some kind of punishment if Spike disobeyed—and not because of whatever happy juice the chip was pumping for obeying. And thinking about this is such a happy thing.
Spike seemed calmer when he was with Xander, so initially he had sat on the sofa like a normal person. Vampire person. Vampire-person who has to be involved with sex or things leading up to sex or he starts to hurt.
A fact they’d quickly discovered. Hands had wandered, shoulder and thigh pressing in a way that could only be called provocative, while Xander had done his best to crawl through the cushions to get away. Well, that was what his brain wanted him to do, anyway.
I am sick. I’m like Michael Jackson sick. Like introduce my thirteen year old cousin to my Great Balls of Fire sick.
Two sweetly innocent girls—no matter how worldly their lives had forced them to be—would never understand that. So Spike had gone on the floor, hands locked in place.
“—are you listening? Xander?”
“Huh? Oh, sorry. I was just. . .”
Giles perched on the arm of the sofa, close without breaching the normal adult-child boundaries they’d set up back in high school. Xander tried not to take comfort from the heat he could just barely feel from the older man.
“Xander, I need you to tell me right now if you feel you cannot handle this. I am not trying to pressure you one way or the other, but Spike is—is going to require a lot of care.”
Welcome back, Mr. Understatement. You weren’t gone long enough.
“I get that,” Xander said quietly. He glanced down to the bleached-blond head pressed against his knee, still marveling at how soft Spike’s hair was. Shouldn’t bleaching make it feel like straw? Like Buffy’s did, that one time she used the wrong stuff and had to cut it short.
“Xander.” He looked up, the seriousness of Giles’ voice finally penetrating the shock-y haze. “Right now, Spike is very much like a puppy. A confused, obedient, but still very needy puppy. He’ll form attachments and, given Spike’s previous personality, those attachments will likely be very strong.” Tugging his glasses off, Giles tilted his head in a way that reminded him poignantly of Spike. The old Spike. And wasn’t that a freaky little thought. “If you agree to this, Xander, there’s no backing out. We’ll of course give you all the help we can, but you would become the primary figure in Spike’s life. Essentially, you’d become his parent.”
Yeah. Because incest is another happy topic I needed to think about.
His face must have given his thought away, because Giles winced a little. “Yes, perhaps a poor choice of words, there. Xander, are—are you all right? You’ve been surprisingly quiet ever since I called Buffy and Willow and you’re never quiet.”
Watcher-man’s trying to make jokes? The world is ending. Sighing, Xander sank down slightly in the sofa, wincing when he felt Spike move with him. “I’m fine. I’ve just been thinking.”
Giles nodded, remaining silent for a few moments. “To be honest, I’m at something of a loss as to how to proceed.”
“Too many words, G-man,” he quipped tiredly. “We Americans use less words, not more. Saying ‘I don’t know what to do’ isn’t going to hurt you.”
That got a grin, at least, even if it was small and a little strained. “Perhaps. Have you slept at all?”
“Took a nap yesterday afternoon, yeah. I’m okay.” He hadn’t expected to be up all night, though. Kevin said he was never home later than three or four am, so he’d banked on sleeping late the next morning.
“No. I rather think you’re not. Xander, if you don’t want to do this, say so now. I will take him.”
“He doesn’t like you.” Spike was instantly obedient no matter who gave the orders—but if no orders were controlling him, he went back to Xander. Giles initially postulated that it was because of the prior connection—but Xander wasn’t so sure. All that was clear was Spike preferred being near Xander. Being touched by Xander. And if he isn’t touching someone, or being touched by someone, he hurts. “I can’t just leave him where he’s uncomfortable.”
Where had the possessiveness come from? All he could think of on the drive up was how to get out of this situation—and now I want to save him from the Big Bad Watcher who seems to want to help him. Insanity, thy name is Xander.
“Very well. Then perhaps, despite your protestation, you might take a nap? I really do have things that need to be taken care of today, so you are welcome to take the guest bedroom.” There was a pause as Xander said nothing either for or against the offer. “I’ll go set it up for you, just in case.”
He knew what Giles was obliquely proposing. He knew, too, what Giles was trying desperately to get him to say ‘no’ to. It was the thing that the girls wouldn’t understand—couldn’t understand, and neither he nor Giles wanted to be the ones to tell them. Because they were still so innocent when it came to the harshness of the real world, lacking Giles’ life-long experience and Xander’s—
And Xander’s what? His horrible home life? Okay, it wasn’t quite as idyllic as Buffy’s—not that hers was tv material, either—but just because I know about this stuff, saw it happening to people around me, doesn’t mean I’ve really lived through it. Just because I’m—this is ridiculous.
“Giles!” Spike’s fingers clamped down as Xander pushed to his feet, dragging the vampire for a little. Xander cursed then snapped a harsh order for Spike to let go and follow behind quietly.
Heading up the stairs, Xander halted in the door way of the guest room, arms wrapped around his middle, waiting for Giles to look up from making the bed in the middle of the room. “I can’t do this,” he announced, not caring at how agitated he knew he sound. “I was wrong. I was stupid, just like I’m always stupid. I can’t do this.”
Giles gave him a measuring look before tacking a piece of black fabric over the window. “Why not? Why are you changing your mind?”
“Okay, did I just jump into an alternate reality? You told me that if I couldn’t do this, you would. Well, I can’t!” He could feel Spike behind him, standing close enough that had he been human, Xander would have felt his body-heat. Suddenly, it was horribly important that Spike didn’t have heat or a heart beat or anything like that.
“Spike, go sit down on the bed.” Spike chose the corner closest to Xander. “Spike, go sit by the headboard. Do you know any hand stretches? Good. Do those until either Xander or I address you. Do not move and do not speak.”
“Wait a minute, Giles, you can’t just treat him like a—a—”
“Yes, Xander, I can. Because he is.”
Sinking onto the edge of the bed Spike had vacated, Xander buried his face in his hands. “Why me?” he asked his palms.
“Because I know you won’t mistreat him, even though he’s our enemy. Your. . . insistence on fair play won’t allow you to hurt him and your compassion will probably be beneficial to him. You also currently have the most available time. Which is perhaps not a good reason, as it can be argued I have that as well, but—”
Uh-oh. “Giles? You’re babbling. You don’t babble.”
“Yes, very droll. Look, he seems to trust you the most, I know you won’t harm him and, frankly, I know that you’re attracted to him. And I don’t think I’m far wrong in believing he is attracted to you as well.”
Xander’s jaw dropped.
When that seemed to be the only reaction he was going to get, Giles crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “Spike, I want you to answer me truthfully. Where do you want to stay, while we figure out how to help you?”
The vampire blinked, eyes big as he glanced between Giles and Xander. “Sir? I don’t—I don’t understand.” He never stopped contorting his fingers.
“We’re going to try to help you, although none of us are entirely certain as to precisely what that entails. Until then, however, you need to be taken care of. What you described happening with your—with Kane implies that you know you need this.”
Spike was so graceful. It was hard to tell, with the street-punk attitude he infused into everything, but he really was. The way each individual finger stretched and flexed, the tendons bunching and releasing under taut skin.
Xander wondered what would happen if no one told him to stop.
“Yes, sir. I am weak and stupid and I need someone to tell me what to do.”
Again the glasses came off, but instead of cleaning them Giles rubbed his eyes. It was oddly reassuring because that statement was—something he was taught to repeat again and again and the way he is now, he believes it. Xander had his own set of rote-phrases learned in a lifetime of saving his skin from one monster or another. He knew how hard it was not to believe them, even when you weren’t being brainwashed.
There was a strange hitch in Giles’ breathing as the glasses were replaced. “Yes. Like that. Where is it that you would like to stay?”
Fine tremors were visible Spike’s ever-moving hands. Lines appeared around the doe-like eyes that had stared with placid acceptance at everything, which now reflected confusion and. . . was that fear? His voice wasn’t steady as he repeated, “Sir? I don’t understand.”
“Do you want to stay with me, Spike? Or with Xander? Or somewhere else?”
“With? I will be with whoever I am told. Sir.”
The connotation was obvious, as was Spike’s increasing agitation. Xander watched as the vampire began to tremble, his innocent blue eyes going glassy from pain. Watched the way Spike no longer looked at him, focusing his entire attention on the Watcher.
Why is he doing this? Can’t he see that it’s hurting him?
“Spike,” Giles’ voice was cold and hard, “I want you to make a choice. I am ordering you to make a choice. Who do you want to stay with?”
“I—Sir, I—I don’t—”
“Who, Spike? Do you want to stay with me? Or perhaps go back to Kane?”
“No! He said—” quick glance over to Xander, “I shouldn’t—”
“Enough! Spike, calm down, you’re coming with me.”
The trembling that had rocked the entire bed instantly abated, some of the pain lines fading as Spike got his reward. “Yes, Sir,” he said diffidently, angling his body slightly towards Xander. “As you wish, Sir.”
His hands still moved.
“Xander, why did you come charging up here before? What specifically made you change your mind?” Giles hadn’t moved the entire time, his expression unchanging.
“I don’t know!”
“Yes, you do.”
Yes, he did. It was clear as what he’d been trying to hide when he untucked his shirt hours before, now bunched in his lap. The one he fiddled with even now, trying desperately to ignore what it meant.
“Xander, it’s a perfectly normal reaction.”
“Normal? Normal? This isn’t normal, Giles. Nothing about this is normal.”
“Why, Xander? Tell me why you changed your mind.”
“Because I know I’ll have to fuck him! And I want to!”
The shout reverberated on the pale grey walls, so loud it seemed to shimmer in the still air. Spike whimpered low in his throat, hunching down to get away from what was obviously a source of pain to him. Without thinking about it, Xander offered his hand to be rubbed the way it had been during the long car ride earlier. Spike’s cool fingers were soothing against his heat, kneading away at calluses from myriad jobs and the more constant reality of slaying.
Breathing hard, Xander let himself fall back onto the bed. The mattress was firmer than his own, the material preventing him from curling into the ball he wanted to. Beside him, Spike whined again and shifted closer.
He heard Giles approach the bed. “Long ago. in the Mesozoic Era, I was once nineteen years old. I remember the—pressures you have. Right now, Spike can benefit from that. I know that sounds callus, but he’s hurting, Xander, and of all of us here, you’re the one best suited to care for him.”
“Use him. You want me to use him.” The words twisted in his mouth, leaving a bitter, acidic residue.
“I want you to help him. Xander, if you truly don’t believe you can do this, I will take him, as I said I would. But leaving him alone for less than an hour left him in unbearable pain—and in no way do I believe he was acting. Until we have some idea of what is going on, forcing him to go through, well, detox would be cruel to the point of being sadistic. To help him, we must help keep the pain at bay—or we should stake him.”
That’s what the shouting and arguing had been about. Buffy had raised the issue and the following screaming match had lasted for well over an hour. None of them wanted to do it, none of them could even contemplate something that resembled murder far more than putting an old and broken dog to sleep. But leaving Spike like this was—
—disgusting. It’s disgusting, and depraved and you want to sleep with it!
“I can’t force you to do this, Xander. Take a nap. Try and clear your head a little, if you can.”
Translation: I’m going out, so if you wanna bone the demonic, brainwashed whore, feel free.
Calling a half-hearted good bye, Xander listened as Giles puttered around his bedroom and then the living room before finally leaving. The house grew very still after that, the air contracting to a state that didn’t let sound move freely. Or maybe it was just that there were only two sounds left in the whole house.
One set of lungs. One heart.
Spike lay on the bed beside him. Not close enough to actually touch, but should Xander want anything more. . . Spike was waiting. Probably ready for whatever it might be.
“I can’t do this.” Rolling onto his side, he studied the open, upturned face. “I can’t—okay, Giles is right. I am attracted to you. The demon-magnet thing works both ways, or something—which kinda explains the whole Anya thing, since that was just acres of wrong. But I can’t just order you around like that!”
It wasn’t the sex, not really. Yeah, he wasn’t a real big fan of casual sex, but it had been a few weeks since Anya left, which meant he’d gone from having sex at least once or twice a day to relying on his hand. Jerking off long ago lost its appeal so, casual sex? Really not a problem.
“Why does this stuff happen to me, huh? Why can’t Buffy deal with this?”
Except he knew why. There were lots of ‘why’s and the only real ‘why not’ he had left was that he’d like it too much.
Far too much.
The bed started to shake as he lay there, going from one poor-me riff to another. Turning his head to look at Spike, he could see the now-familiar pain creeping through the vampire’s body. Giles is right. Like usual. Either I do this, or we need to put him down. Stringing him along like this is worse than letting him get his fix.
“Spike, if I told you that you could do anything you want, what would it be? Not what I want. What you want.”
Well, at least Spike would talk more when it was just the two of them. Sort of. Sitting up, Xander tugged Spike to do so as well. “I’ll tell you what to do, okay? I just want input, suggestions, something. Because otherwise I’m—” Good air in, bad air out. “What do you want?”
“I want you, Sir.”
“No, not what I want for you! What do—huh?”
He’d never understood how submissive the kneeling posture was. Usually when Anya was kneeling, he was either too lost in the sensation to notice it, or her strident, commanding attitude had blindsided him in spite of it. Now, though, looking at Spike kneeling on the bed like it was the most natural thing in the world, he could see how subservient it really was.
The way Spike was looking at him had nothing of submission in it.
“I want to please you, Sir.”
He couldn’t just order Spike. But Spike wanted this and he was a nineteen year old guy without a steady girl. He just needed a way. . . “How?” he croaked out. “How would you do that?”
Spike tilted his head for a long moment, a dark smile flickering at the edge of his mouth. “Do you want to be seduced, Sir?” he purred, leaning forward so his weight rested on two balled-up fists. His voice was low and husky, accent suddenly very loud. “Do you want me to slowly undress you, kissing and touching your skin? Tell you to just relax, Sir, an’ let Spike take care of that little problem you’ve had since we came here? Know you want my mouth on you again, feelin’ me suck you off like I did before. It was so good, wasn’t it, Sir? Now’ll be even better, with this big bed to spread you out on so I can touch an’ tease you ’til you’re beggin’ for it.”
He was panting. He knew he was panting and yes, god yes, he wanted Spike to do that to him—which was the problem.
He wanted Spike to do that to him.
Spike froze, eyes flickering nervously. Xander almost told him to forget it, the mood he’d been trying for erased, when a smile—a real smile flared into being. “You smell like sunlight.”
Then he was on his back, deft hands removing his clothing one article at a time. Spike was everywhere, his body ghosting over Xander’s flushed skin like a cool breeze. His rough-slick tongue lapped at nipples gone taut and stiff, a hint of teeth making Xander jump. A hard, muscled belly pressed against Xander’s erection, rippling to make it jump and pulse, precome slicking a path on pale skin. On the upstroke, Xander could feel Spike’s erect cock rubbing against his balls, sliding down to poke and nudge his perineum.
By the time Spike actually began to suck him, Xander was almost in tears from need. He had no idea how long Spike teased him, too lost in the sensations the talented, focused vampire created for him. Gasping too quickly to even moan, Xander levered himself onto his elbows, looking down the length of his body to watch as Spike slowly, expertly, swallowed him down.
Spike was staring at him. The blitzed look was there, hovering in the depths of blue eyes already crowded with lust, but Spike was still there, awake and aware, watching every twitch and grimace he made. Those eyes egged him on, begging him to enjoy the tongue that fluttered along his shaft; the powerful muscles that squeezed the head of his cock; the tight grip at the base of his erection, denying him the release Spike knew he craved.
It felt like Spike kept him there for hours, always backing off the edge to build him back up again. He knew he was babbling in between gasps, praising and cursing the intense feelings. His body was sodden with sweat, muscles on the verge of cramping from need. All he needed was one sweet second—
And then suddenly the restraining hand was gone, replaced by soft lips and a nose that pressed hard into his groin. Practiced muscles shuddered around the head of his cock and Xander was coming, flooding Spike’s mouth and spending himself directly into Spike’s throat.
When he finally became aware of his surroundings again, Spike was licking him clean. Xander stared at the ceiling, too lost in post-orgasmic lassitude to object as his body was rearranged, covers tugged up to his chin, and a happy, contented vampire curled around him.
Absently petting the vampire’s hair, Xander closed his eyes and tried very hard not to think.