“Come here, Jack.”
The voice was cold, clear. Cruel, although Spike knew he should not think that. I am Spike, he repeated in his mind, his body kneeling at Kane’s feet. I am not Jack, I am Spike, I am a vampire, Sired by Drusilla and Angelus, and I am—
“Very good.” A hand ran down his face, creating a wave of pleasure that blanked out thought. “You are very, very good, aren’t you, Jack? Yes, you know to be good for me.”
The wave receded slowly, Spike left quivering in its wake. I am Spike. I am a vampire and if—when I get out of here, you dickless arsewipe, I’m going to shove my cock so deeply down your throat you fuckin’ choke on it. Then I’m going to rip out your vertebrae, one by bloody one and shove them up your own arse. Then, while you’re twitching and screa—
Hot tears burned in his eyes, the stabbing pain of the chip a mild annoyance compared to the fear in his gut. He knew what was happening to him and he knew that there was nothing to bring him out of it. So long as both pain and pleasure were controllable he had no means to fight.
“That’s right. Now, what did we go over before, hmm? Who are you?”
“I am yours.” I am Spike. I am Spike, IamSpike, IamSpikeIamSpike!
“And what are you?”
This wasn’t new, but Spike had to force down the shiver of fear the words produced. This was something different than the conditioning he could feel warping his mind. This was something far more sinister. If he could just figure out what the bloody hell it was. “I am yours.”
“No, pretty boy. Wrong answer.” Spike quavered, shoulders hunching while a different pain, a new pain that didn’t come from the chip, built cold and aching at the base of his spine. Its dull strength was more potent than the chip’s blinding agony, more seductive. More terrifying.
This is the thing, Spike thought as he pressed his forehead to the ground. I have to stop this. I won’t let him control me. I am William the Bloody, Slayer of bloody Slayers, and I will not let him do this to me. If I can just figure out how to stop this pain before the other one sets in—
Kane picked up the small, silver cross that he always kept by his side. “Have I given you any orders, Jack?”
“No, Sir,” Spike replied quickly, the pain growing. He fought it, lessons learned at Angelus’ feet in controlling pain and its effects giving him an edge. Kane, however, knew exactly what he was doing—and did it as well as Angelus did. If not better.
Just gotta beat this, he reminded himself. So long as I beat this, I can deal with a little pain from the chip. And a little pleasure. I can. Just gotta beat this. . .
Kane’s smile said he understood exactly what was going through Spike’s mind. Rising, he took Spike’s hand and curled it around the cross, holding it there. Then he waited, still smiling, while Spike tried to stay still as his flesh sizzled and burned. Finally, it became too much, as Kane had known it would, and he jerked himself away, knocking heavily into Kane and triggering the chip.
Pain exploded in his mind, joining with the fire in his spine. The combined sensation, cold and incinerating, flamed through his body like a flood. Thoughts disappeared in the icy heat, everything disappeared into it until all that was left was the single desire to make the pain stop. Anything to make it stop, he would do anything.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Spike woke abruptly, swallowing his scream of pain. Safe. Not safe? Breath in his ear, slow and rhythmic, the sounds of the machine that washed clothing rumbling and churning in the corner. Arms, hard but not hurting, around his waist, his back completely covered by a larger chest. Master. Safe.
The waking was always the same. The dreams were different—although the figures weren’t—but each time Spike woke nearly howling in pain and fear. Master said they were his memories. Master didn’t like to hear about those memories, but if he was aware of a dream, he always asked Spike to talk about them. Describing in calm detail seemed to make Master worse—cheeks flushed with sun and blood would turn green and Spike’s own belly would churn in sympathy—so Spike had started hiding the dreams. What Master did not know about, he could not ask about. Then Master wouldn’t hurt.
Spike liked Master. Before, ‘Master’ meant hurting or not hurting, two states of being that often meshed into unconsciousness and what Master’s male friend, Giles, called ‘mindless obedience’. Spike wasn’t sure his obedience was mindless, just that it was no longer his. Giles always looked so sad when Spike said that, like it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Spike never understood—he had everything he wanted. Master took care of him. Master never hurt him.
And Master gave him the one thing he valued above everything else. His name, his true name, the one that made him think of cold metal and dark, wet nights. He hadn’t known he needed it until Master sat him down and explained that the other name was a lie. His name was Spike, William the Bloody.
Spike loved his name almost as much as he loved Master.
A soft mutter against the back of his neck meant Master was waking. With slow, careful movements, Spike flattened himself to the bed, making certain that Master stayed on top of him the whole time. He liked it when Master pretended to be a blanket—but he liked it better when Master woke up already erect, held snug between muscles Spike worked hard to keep toned.
He didn’t understand the moment of surprise when Master woke up. It had been ten days since Master took him away from Kane, and for the first three Master called him ‘Anya’. Spike did not mind being called Anya. Kane had said Spike’s name was whatever anyone wanted, even if it was ‘whore’ or ‘bitch’ or ‘pet’ or ‘slut’. He was to respond as if he’d been called any of those terms all his life, and Spike did. Master was angry when Spike told him about that, but Spike didn’t see anything wrong with it. He knew what his true name was now.
Master always called him ‘Spike’ when he was awake, though. Spike had learned that ‘Anya’ was Master’s former girlfriend, so he reasoned that being called Anya was nice. A compliment, almost. That did not, however, explain the surprise—if Master was used to waking up next to someone else, why was he always surprised when he realized he wasn’t alone? At least, that’s why Spike thought Master was surprised. Master didn’t answer the one time Spike asked, and forbade him from asking again.
But Master had also said that Spike could think about whatever he wanted, so Spike thought about it while he moved his hips, gradually increasing his speed as Master grew harder between his buttocks.
“Spike? Mm. Good alarm-clock.”
There was a note of teasing in Master’s voice, so Spike did not try to imitate the noise the small machine that used to rest near Master’s head. It was a horrible sound, jangly and shrill it pierced his skull. Master didn’t like it either, so when Spike explained that he could wake up at whatever time Master wished and then wake Master in a much nicer manner, Master had agreed to let Spike smash the small machine to as many pieces as he wanted.
Spike had really enjoyed that. He’d smashed and cracked until silvery innards scattered along dull grey concrete. Then he’d chased them, bashing them into even smaller pieces, fresh snowflakes on drifts already discolored from the great big plowing trucks he’d seen on the television. Master had said there was some of the old Spike left in him, after all, when he’d seen the mess.
“So what are we doing this morning?” Flame-edge of heat in that voice, wet lips brushing against the blade of his shoulder, and Master was starting to move with him, now. No more disgust or fear or discomfort, not anymore. Not after Spike realized why Master thought it was dirty, and reminded him that Spike needed this. That Master was helping Spike. Master had glared at him, muttering about manipulation and other things Spike did not understand, but he also agreed.
Spike liked not having to breathe. It made thanking Master much easier.
But that had been days ago, and Master felt so good on him. More than just the euphoria of sex and pleasing, this was Master, and that felt best of all. Arching his back more made Master groan quietly, and Spike tensed his muscles in pleasure. Master liked touching him and being touched, and Spike loved to make Master orgasm. The rush of bliss he received was nothing to the faces and sounds Master gave him, the sweetness of Master’s ejaculate the only breakfast that he required.
Master still made him drink red liquid from a tall mug. Spike no longer pointed out that Master’s come and the red liquid tasted very much like each other, because this also made Master turn green.
“When’d you slick yourself?” Master asked, pushing himself up onto his hands so he had more room to maneuver.
It was colder without Master’s heat on him. Not as cold as when Master went out, though, so Spike did not complain. “After you fell asleep. Xander.” Master did not like being called Master. He always said that he was just Xander, just a ‘screw up kid’. Spike didn’t understand that, but Master ordered that he be called Xander out loud.
But he was still Master inside Spike’s head.
Spike wiggled his hips, knowing that it would make Master gasp and bite his lip and mutter about flexibility. Master liked when Spike did that, so Spike tried to do it often.
“After I went to sleep, huh?” Master could not talk for very long while being pleasured, but he knew Spike could, so he was trying to become better at it. Spike didn’t care one way or the other, but if Master spoke then he would respond. “So you were planning to have me fuck you without actually fucking you this morning?”
Master slapped him, once, working his body faster and faster against Spike’s. Spike moaned as the flat of Master’s hand touched him, the brief flare of heat not hurting at all. Master didn’t like hitting Spike during sex, but he was slowly starting to understand that there were types of pain that didn’t really hurt, just make things better.
“And if I wanted to fuck you for real? If I wanted to slide inside you, and ride you until you were screaming?”
Spike couldn’t scream, was never allowed to make sounds above normal conversation, but Master had already explained that when he spoke this way it was not a direct order. Spike didn’t care; Master liked speaking this way, which meant Spike adored it.
“Yes, Xander. Please.”
“You got yourself all wet and ready for me, inside and out, whatever I want.” Master wasn’t always good at speaking like this. He flushed a great deal and sometimes stuttered, but Spike never complained. Why would he? Master was asking for everything Spike wanted to give, proving to Spike that it was wanted. And more, Spike himself enjoyed it—not just because Master did. He always grew hard at the first husky word, shivering from his belly out, desperate for more words, more touches, more want. “You like that, don’t you? Being ready for me? You’ll blow me wherever I say, and you’ll always be wet when I want to take you.”
“Yes, Xander, always, Xander.” Master liked it when he spoke back, as dirty as Master kept trying to be and more, but when it was like this, when Master was fucking the groove of his arse, not in him but on him, using him but not ignoring him, Spike didn’t have the kind of words he’d first used to make Master take him. Like this, there was only desire and begging, and saying Xander over and over again because he could not say ‘Master’ the way he wanted to.
Their rhythm was perfect, Spike matching each twist and shove without even trying. Bucking upwards and tensing, aching for Master to take him because he always wanted that. If he could cling to Master, carried around by strong muscles that never tormented him, holding Master deeply inside himself all day, he would. He would mold himself to Master’s body and never leave. Well fucked, well loved, and never, ever hurting, ever again.
“Spike!” Master’s shout was muffled as Master bit down hard on Spike’s shoulder, drawing blood. The flare of pain was icy, streaking down his back to cling to the base of his spine, forcing his own orgasm out with a gasp and bitten off cry of Master.
Brightwhitehotstill instantly flooded through him, taking everything but the euphoria of Master’s pleasure away. Spike hung there, suspended on clouds of peace, certain that he’d done what he was supposed to. What he loved.
“One day,” Master said after he regained his breath. “You’re going to tell me what you keep saying when you come.”
It wasn’t an order. Master didn’t like giving orders—although he did, if he had to, or Spike begged enough—so Spike was safe to whisper whichever words he wanted to. It gave him a secret, something warm to treasure when Master was gone and he was alone. Spike didn’t like being alone. The pain wasn’t as bad as it was before Master, he’d explained when directly asked, he just didn’t like being alone. It was cold, then, and the walls were full of crying.
Master was heavy and warm against him, body calm and lax as he blanketed Spike from neck to ankle. It was good, being smaller than Master. It meant Master would cuddle him, sometimes, when they watched movies before they slept. Spike liked being held. He was warmest of all then.
“We should move. There’s work for me—drywall fun!—and you’re going to Giles today.” But Master did not move, so this was just talking, not doing, and Spike didn’t have to leave, yet. “I want you to behave when you’re with Giles, okay? Do what he tells you to. Although why I’m asking you to behave when you can’t do anything but, I have no idea.”
Spike thought about that for a little. He was still floating and it made him lax. “Why do I have to go to Giles today? Can I come with you, to where you work?”
Master was quiet before muttering, “Gotta remember to ask him about that. You didn’t used to act like a little kid.”
“I’m not a little kid.” He wasn’t, because little kids didn’t get erections or ejaculate, and he did both. Besides, he didn’t look like a little kid. He was too tall.
“No, you’re not.” Master sounded sad and Spike didn’t like that, so he got up when Master did, hurrying over to prepare Master’s shower and then Master’s breakfast. “Clothes,” Master reminded him as he sat down to eat, wrapped only in a towel.
The morning was a familiar routine, now, with everything set up the way Master liked it, which meant the way Spike liked it, too. He didn’t need Master’s reminder, but he thought that maybe Master liked it, the way Spike did, so he always waited for the last possible moment before putting on his own clothes. Then he remade the bed, since it was always wet after Master woke, and transferred the laundry to the dryer where it could sit all day, even though he wouldn’t be there to fold it and put it away.
“Ready?” Master asked, smiling at him. He liked Master’s smiles, they were warm and soft like the blue blanket the girl Willow had given him. “I’m going to be late tonight, they’ve got us working over time until after dark, today, so don’t worry if I’m not there until after seven, okay? Just stay with Giles, and do what he says.”
Going to Giles’ was always a big deal, because Spike was allergic to the sun and Master didn’t like it when he started smoking and burning. The one time he’d walked outside without thinking and burned his hand, Master had spent hours making sure that his hand was properly bandaged and he had enough to eat and he wasn’t in pain or bored. It should have been fun, being fussed over like that, but Master had hurt the whole time, angry and blaming himself until Spike had hurt so much he was nearly in tears.
Master hated it when Spike cried. He said he never knew what to do when another man was crying. Then, sometimes, when he thought Spike was asleep, he’d cry a little too.
Running under the big black tarp was always annoying and he didn’t like being bundled into the trunk of Master’s car, but he went without a fuss, not even complaining that the air was thick and full of raven’s feathers. Except. . . it wasn’t, really. Spike tried to see in the darkness, looking for raven’s feathers or any kind of feathers. He found a small sleeping bag, Master’s work tools, and a plastic bag full of candies, but there were no raven’s feathers. So why was he totally certain that dark, stuffy places like this were full of raven’s feathers that would cut him to pieces if he moved?
Confused and a little disturbed, Spike blanked his face when Master opened the trunk. He was supposed to tell Master everything, but he didn’t think Master would like this, and he didn’t want to make Master unhappy with him. Maybe he would tell Giles.
“Oh, for—Xander it’s too early for this!”
“Sorry, Giles,” Master said, helping Spike out of the car and into the house. “I told you, today I can’t leave him at home. My cousins are coming in this weekend, which means Mom is gonna stuff them downstairs. I have to go to work and then convince them that since I, you know, pay rent, they can’t just put the juvenile delinquents—I mean, my cousins, down there with me. Since I doubt I’ll be able to do that, then I have to figure out if I can afford a hotel for the weekend or something.”
Spike tried not to stare at Master, instead watching a bug try and fly into the clear glass of the window next to the door. It was frosted, slightly, couldn’t the bug see that it wasn’t empty space? And why was Master being sent away? Master hadn’t been bad, didn’t need to be punished, and that was Master’s home. Not anyone else’s. Would Spike go with Master?
“Yes, yes, I remember. Oh, come inside before he burns.” Waving them inside, Giles headed towards the kitchen to make tea. Giles always made tea. Sometimes he put liquor in it, but Master wasn’t supposed to know about that. Spike sat on the sofa and waited. He could do that, now, without pain. He was very proud of Master for giving him that. “Tea?”
“No, thanks, I’ve got to run.” Xander entered the kitchen with Giles and Spike pretended that he couldn’t hear their whispered conversation about regression and behavioral modification. Whispers meant private, so Spike didn’t listen. “I’ll be back as soon as I can tonight, okay?”
“I assume you’re not patrolling with us, then? I’ll take him out if you aren’t back in time. He probably needs the exercise.”
They both turned and looked at Spike, who tried very hard to be small and insignificant. He didn’t like being a bug, even though Kane said he was all the time. Master didn’t think he was a bug, but it was hard not to be when they were staring at him so deliberately.
“Yeah, okay. Just don’t let him get hurt?”
“Of course not.” Giles sounded offended, but Spike knew that he was really amused, instead. He wasn’t sure why he knew that, but Giles was often amused with Master. “And Xander, my offer still stands—you and Spike are both welcome here for the weekend.”
“A buddy at work has a line on a really cheap apartment—that’s stop number four hundred and thirty five on today’s schedule—so we may crash there and just move all my stuff on Monday. I’ll figure it out.”
Master looked so frazzled. His hair wasn’t brushed very well. Lines crinkled around his eyes, not the good kind that meant laughter, but lines of strain and worry. Spike didn’t like those lines. If he let himself, his chest would start burning and his muscles would tighten up painfully—but only if he let himself, because he didn’t have to hurt if he didn’t want to, not anymore. Master said so. But he didn’t know how to make Master not hurt without Master telling him that he was being clingy, or he was going to be even later for work. So he didn’t do anything but wave when Master said good bye and left the apartment.
“Right then.” Giles sat down at the table, pulling out paper and pens, a stack of books with titles like Behavior Modification: What it is and How to do it, and Your Wish Is My Command: Programming by Example next to him. “I’ve done some more reading and Xander has indicated that your. . . behavior is changing. So why don’t you tell me about the last few days?”
Talking to Giles was never simple. He interrupted a lot and asked questions about everything Spike said. But Master said to behave for Giles, so he told him everything. Not everything, everything, though. He never told Giles that Xander was really Master.
“Fascinating,” Giles said when the questions stopped. “You seem to be almost regressing or reverting to a more. . . primitive state. I wonder if that’s because of your professed level of pain diminishing, or because Xander treats you with nothing but kindness? Or maybe a lingering association with Drusilla? Perhaps something about you no longer struggling to remain free of Kane’s influence. . . Oh, Spike, go and fix me some lunch, would you? Ham with mustard, please.”
Master never ordered him like that, not anymore. Master asked, unless it was for really important things, and then Master always explained why. Not that Spike minded Giles ordering him—he just wasn’t Master.
Fixing the requested sandwich, Spike seated himself on the floor at Giles’ feet.
“Very nice, Spike,” Giles praised, mouth full. “You do remarkably well in the kitchen. Odd, since I don’t believe you’d voluntarily been in a kitchen to cook things. . . well, probably in all your life. Certainly your unlife. Now, you say that your everyday level of pain is decreasing?”
Spike nodded. “Xander says I don’t have to hurt when he does.”
“And that’s enough?” Giles ate a few more bites, scribbling something down. “So when you are alone and Xander is at work, you don’t hurt then?”
He considered that. “Xander leaves things for me to do. That helps, sometimes, if it hurts.”
“So it does still hurt? Do you know when it hurts most?” Giles finished the sandwich, absently reaching back to put the plates on the bar. Spike followed the movement of his hand, not liking these questions. “Are there any triggers? Er, things that always make the pain start up?”
Were there? Spike didn’t understand what Giles was asking him, but he struggled to answer anyway. He could feel the pain starting, just a light fizz of hurt in his shoulders, and he didn’t want it. Didn’t have to have it anymore, Master said he didn’t. “I don’t know,” he said miserably.
“Well, what makes the pain go away?”
Master. Spike shrugged, the pain moving down and out in a slow, steady wave. “I don’t know.”
“But this isn’t the same pain as when you disobey an order, is it?” Giles studied him then said, “Are you hurting now, Spike?”
Giles nodded. Had he expected the hurting? Spike felt a flash of anger that Master’s friend had purposefully hurt him—then immediately discounted the thought. Master said Giles was trying to help him, and Spike trusted Master implicitly.
“Spike, I want you to go and wash those dishes I just used.” Hurrying to comply, Spike felt Giles’ eyes on him the entire time he washed, dried, and put the plate and utensils away. It made his skin shiver. “There,” Giles said when he sat back down. “Did that make the pain stop? You were obeying me. Rather promptly, too.”
So Giles was trying to help! Reassured, Spike titled his head and considered. “No. It felt good obeying,” he explained, “but the hurting, it’s still there.” The fizz was more like boiling, now, rolls of pain simmering through him.
“And does this happen when Xander is there with you?”
“Sometimes.” He suddenly remembered what Master did to make Spike feel better—he’d curl up on the sofa, Spike cradled in his lap and he’d let Spike ride him or stroke him off just so he’d have some kind of order to obey, and the pain would just melt away. Disappearing into nothing but the bliss that came of making Master happy.
Something of that must have shown on his face because Giles removed his glasses and sighed heavily. “And it has to be towards others, of course. Very well. Spike, please understand that I’m doing this only because it seems to be the only way. Open my pants.”
“Yes, Sir,” Spike said, but it wasn’t Spike who opened the fastenings of Giles’ pants and withdrew the half-hard erection. That was Jack. Jack liked following these kinds of orders the way Spike was finding he didn’t—he liked making Master happy, but that was different. Jack, however, remembered what Kane had done and remembered the pain of not following orders, so Jack was the one who starting stroking Giles’ erection, long and slow so he wouldn’t come too soon.
Spike knew that he was Jack and Jack was him. He wasn’t a multiple personality, the way Giles would sometimes mutter on about. But it was easier to call that slavish devotion ‘Jack’, since Spike, Master’s Spike, was different now. It was like Xander being Master and Master being Xander. Different but not.
“Tell me, Spike, does this make the pain stop? I assure you, you’re making me feel very good.”
“Yes, Sir.” The pain was fading, not quite gone but hard to be aware of when he felt like he was riding on the balloons Master had brought home two days ago after work. Up to where the clouds were big fluffy cotton balls, dyed pink like cotton candy. Master said they might go to the circus, if he was good, on Sunday. “I like making you feel good, Sir.”
“Interesting. You call me ‘sir’ when doing something sexual, but not at other times.” Giles looked down to watch Spike stroke him off—his cock was still not quite fully hard. “Is this helping at all?”
Spike nodded. “I like making you feel good, Sir.” He kept stroking, occasionally scraping his nails lightly around the slit—but Giles remained half-hard at best. He transferred his attentions to Giles’ sac, hoping that stimulation would help. He was happy doing this for hours—at least, Jack was—but he could see Giles growing upset with himself.
He knew Master didn’t like to share him. He knew that Master would be very upset if he found out about this, but. . . Spike hurt. And he didn’t like to see Giles look so frustrated and unhappy. So he asked, “May I suck you, Sir?”
Giles studied him, the light reflecting off his glasses to making shattered rainbows in the air. The glasses were very clean, because Giles polished them often, especially if Master and his friends were around. “Yes. But—but quickly, please.”
There was something in Giles’ voice, a note of discord and sadness, that Spike knew was not directed at him. It made him feel sorry for Giles, and want to help him. Rearing up onto his knees, he offered a comforting smile and concentrated on working every hot spot he could find as hard and as quickly as possible. He bobbed and sucked and swallowed until Giles made a swallowed groaning sound. Then Spike slid the head into his mouth so he could taste every drop.
Not as good as Master’s, older and thinner, but still good. He licked Giles’ clean, too, before refastening his pants. Giles’ pleasure didn’t send Spike spiraling into bliss the way Master’s did, but that was all right. The pain was gone, soap bubbles popped into nothing, and that was what Giles had wanted—wasn’t it?
“Yes. Well, then. I. . . I won’t be doing that again, Spike. I promise.” Giles held his gaze for a moment, but then shook his head. “And you truly don’t understand what I’m saying, do you? Your mind is changing, and probably degenerating. I think Willow and I are going to have to do that spell tonight. Before Xander comes back.”
Spike just watched him, licking his lips.
“Yes, or course.” Giles smiled at him, the way he sometimes smiled at Master and picked up one of the books. “I want you to read this, and then tell me how you think you relate to it, all right? Can you do that?”
“If you tell me to do it, I will.”
That must not have been the answer Giles wanted, since he sighed and took off his glasses, but Spike didn’t know what else to say. So he picked up the book and returned to the sofa, wishing he had the blue blanket while he read.
“Willow and Buffy will be over soon,” Giles said quietly. “Do you want to make them snacks, say around three thirty?”
Not an order. A question. Spike thought about it, and thought about Willow and Buffy. “Yes.”
“Very good. Tell me when you’re done with the book, then.”
Spike nodded and started reading. It was a thick book and the words were large and not always understandable. He'd have to read quickly to make sure he had enough time to make snacks for Master’s friends.