Part 9



“No—hey, warm. . .”

Xander froze at the sleepy words, unresisting as Spike dragged him back down to the bed.  “Can’t leave,” Spike mumbled as he spooned the boy.  “Jus’ got back.”

“That was three hours ago, Spike.”  Except he was pushing his body backward as he spoke, snuggling deeper into that cold embrace.  Spike smirked into the boy’s hair, enjoying the feel of soft-hard warmth pressed against him.  He would never have pegged Xander as being so. . . cuddly.  The boy loved to be touched, even if it was just the lightest pressure on the small of his back.  He craved the affection and attention that it meant.

Which suited Spike just fine.  Dru had tolerated his physical affection, but—other than the sex—she hadn’t enjoyed it.  With Xander. . . giant teddy bear an’ livin’ hot water bottle, all rolled up into one deliciously sexy package.  Not complainin’.

“S’night time,” he murmured, hair tickling his nose.  “Night job’s me.”

Vibrations traveled from Xander to Spike, making the latter grin in unabashed pleasure.  The boy couldn’t purr, but he did the best he could, humming as he breathed and making his whole body rumble.  Likes bein’ mine, he does.

“It’s just pizza delivery,” the boy said after a while.  “But I don’t like flaking on Jimmy.  He’s a good guy and cuts me a lot of Hellmouth slack.”

“Meanin’ he ain’t gonna fire you on account of fyarl.”

Xander laughed lightly.  “Or making sure my sick mother isn’t alone, but yeah.”

Spike begrudgingly rolled off after a few more moments, nodding absently as Xander babbled about how good Jimmy was to him.  There had been. . . something. . . in that last sentence.  It had been tightly controlled, but Spike’s nose was a highly tuned instrument, able to hunt down lunatic vampiress through crowded mobs, scent souls where there should be none, and know instantly if there was even a hint of garlic in the meal.  He had smelled something.  He just wished he could figure out what.

“You gonna hunt tonight?”  Xander pulled on his shirt, palm trees and something that looked horribly like a baboon glaring from it.  “Or just hang out at Willy’s?  I probably won’t be back until close to one.”

The scarred eyebrow rose.  “You tellin’ me Red and Slu—the Slayer allow you to wander around the Hellmouth.  At night.  Alone.”

Xander gave a long suffering sigh that said he’d done this multiple times.  “Carrying crosses, stakes, and holy-water.  The car has crosses all over it, and Jimmy won’t take calls from certain areas.  I’ve done this before, Spike.”

He nodded after a moment, still thoughtful.  Wonder if that’s part of it.  The whole ‘I must be worth something’ vibe, whenever he mentions work.  Know he hates it, but he still does it, an’ if I were to come between him an’ that. . .  It was probably one of the few things that the boy wouldn’t agree to.  Well, no, he would.  Obedient little thing, but it’d screw everything up if I made him.  Interest—oh, bugger.

There was a hitch in the lift-flex of the left leg.  Bruises still dotted the boy’s body, although most were healing, but the gash on the arm was still red and raw looking.  Dammit.  That might be inflamed, an’ I know he’s lyin’ ’bout the leg not hurtin’ him.  He wanted to growl and shove the boy up against the wall—which will do wonders to reinforce the whole ‘tell Spike when you hurt’ message.  Bollocks.

“Still sore, pet?”  He kept his voice light and even as he began pulling on his own clothes.  Xander grimaced at him, waving the words away as he rummaged around the little fridge.  “We should try again this weekend.”

That got a grin in response, although he knew Xander wasn’t going to like their next session at all.  This wasn’t going to be random hunting, like Monday night had been.  This was going to real training.  Gotta find a place for us to work at it.  Huh.  Looks like I’m goin’ huntin’ tonight, after all.

“Here.”  He looked up to find a wad of cash under his nose.  Grabbing it reflexively, he counted close to four hundred dollars.  What the hell?

Xander gave a shy grin as he poured himself a glass of juice.  “Make sure you buy some human blood tonight?  I know you haven’t had any in a while.”

Spike blinked at him.  “What?”

“You need human blood,” Xander explained patiently.  “Angel mentioned something about it, once.  That he had to drink the equivalent of one human a month, or he’d get weaker.  No living skeletons, mate, but he’d be at half-strength and he wouldn’t heal as fast.”

Picking up the juice, Xander stared at it, and licked his lips.  Glanced over at Spike, and licked them again.  Then he poured the juice back in the bottle untasted.

Spike went rock hard.

“Really?” he managed hoarsely.  “So the poof still drank human?”

“Not a lot, but yeah.  So buy a supply, okay?”

Spike nodded, concentrating on forcing his body to behave.  Don’t think about what the boy just tasted.  Think about. . . about how he managed to get together four hundred dollars workin’ his shit jobs.  The wave of anger nicely removed the temptation of throwing the boy up against the nearest mostly-flat surface.  I know he thinks he has to do this to take care of his bloody pack-leader, but dammit!  Livin’ on fifty cent bags of chips and candy bars?  Lyin’ t’ me when I asked him about it, too.  Stupid git.  I’ve had anorexic and sickly before, ta ever so much.  If I wanted that again, I’d still be beggin’ after blonde and bitchy.  And pack-leader’s supposed to provide for his pack, anyway, not the bloody other way around.  Idiot boy.

However, it gave him enough free dosh that he could get what he’d been planning on begging credit for.  Not that the Big Bad begged but. . . sometimes it worked.

“So I’ll see you later, okay?”

Spike waved him out, still glaring moodily at the blank television.  Boy needs t’ take care of himself.  He’s practically suicidal, hangin’ about with the Slayer like he does.  Only thing hurts him is me, dammit.

Shrugging on his duster, he grabbed a nearly empty bottle to re-read the name of it.  Right.  First stop Willy’s, deal with any what missed the memo the first time.  Do a bit of checkin’ around, and then stop by her place.  Oh, and drink, possibly a lot.  He needed some kind of fortification before going there.

The sun had just barely gone down when he made his way into the cool night air.  There was a heaviness that spoke of rain coming, an ozone tang that made him jumpy.  He needed a drink.

First stop ended up being one of his growing number of contacts.  He found the little weaselly demon skulking near a bank, sure sign that he was about to do something Spike would want to know about.  The furry thing had bowed and scraped its way through complicated answers that Spike grew quickly bored with.

Sighing, he hauled the little demon up by its neck.  “English,” he hissed through sharp fangs.  “Speak it.”

“Everything’s going fine,” was squeaked up at him.  “Everything, Master Spike.  Nearly half the merchandise has been transferred and the rest have buyers lined up.”  Spike raised his scarred eyebrow, and the little thing blanched.  “The t-totals will b-be forwarded to y-you,” it managed to get out.  “B-but so f-far we’re looking at s-seventy percent.”

Spike released him.  Good.  “How long?”

“A w-week?” 

Spike nodded, straightening some misplaced fur.  “Good,” he approved.  “Keep it up, an’ keep me informed.”

“Y-yes, Master Spike.”

He sauntered down the street, extremely pleased.  Seventy percent was a more than decent return rate, especially given what his merchandise was going at.  By the end of the week he’d be able to finish setting up some fairly impressive accounts, make some purchases—and all that without touching the extremely rare and powerful pieces he still had stashed away for a rainy day.  Very good.

His good mood increased when he opened the doors to Willy’s and silence descended on the assorted demons already there.  Ah, the sweet smell of fear.  Don’t care if it’s human or demon, but damn all does it smell good.

Saturday night had been. . . edifying.  The moment he’d entered Willy’s, some of the more vocal demons had started tossing around words like ‘traitor’—apparently news had spread about the snarath’s death quickly—‘lap dog’ and ‘pathetic’.  They’d died first.  Then he’d cheerfully worked his way through the rest of the room.

Spike enjoyed kicking the shit out of things—their species was never really an issue.  Humans were food, not entertainment.  And since all he was really looking for was entertainment. . .  I am the bloody Master of Sunnydale.  Who I chose to eat has nothin’ t’ do with that.

It had been very satisfying to prove that—as many times as he needed.

One or two demons needed reminders, but they were easily dispatched.  Any demon of rank or power had figured out that Spike was no longer someone to torment and would leave him alone—so long as he didn’t interfere with what they wanted.  Ah, demon solidarity.  We’ll pick on the weak, but otherwise. . . ‘stay out of my way, an’ I’ll stay out of yours’.  Works for me.

Willy knew all about the chip, but he also knew that if Spike lifted so much as a finger there would be half-a-dozen demons interested in obeying the smirking vampire, so he was pleasantly frightened by the time Spike made it up to the bar.

The fear faded as soon as Willy realized that Spike wanted to make a deal.  Money always made Willy happy.  It took perhaps twenty minutes to get the particulars worked out, but Spike was now the proud recipient of a bi-monthly delivery of a variety of human blood types.  Should keep the boy off my case about eatin’ right, an’ since I still got plenty o’ credit with Willy, leaves me with enough dosh that I can pay outright.  Maybe even get some groceries.

Perhaps he’d cook?  He could, when he felt like it.  Except the poor excuse for a kitchen was not something Spike felt like braving, so perhaps he’d wait for another time before disclosing that particular skill.  Yeah, cause it’s sooo manly for the Big Bad to cook food for his human pet.  Pathetic tosser.

Which didn’t stop him from grinning into his whiskey.

Deal closed, Spike left the bar and went to the store he really, really, really didn’t want to go to.  Most people—human and demon both—shared that sentiment.  It was creepy there, so small that there was practically no walking-space through the hundreds of different items sold there.  Smells so varied and strong that noses closed up upon entering, when they didn’t start sneezing from the dust that coated the place.  Little light, except for a few carefully maintained candles, hidden in pockets to make the place look dark and foreboding.  Even to demons who liked dark and foreboding it was. . . not a fun place.

And then there was her.  A tiny, Asian woman, who’s face was wrinkled and unreadable, hair pulled back into a tight bun held with two lacquered sticks—one of blue and white, the other of green and gold.  Her wide, dark eyes would weigh any who stepped through her door, and those who were found unwanted refused to speak of what had been done to them to make them leave.  Song Li sold only to those she wished to.

Some thought she was a demon.  The way she would look at you, watch you, with those wide, dark eyes. . . the way she never seemed to be out of stock, and, despite the prices she charged, there was no way she could possibly stay open in the human world.. . . the way you felt as soon as you entered, whether it was fear or comfort, depending on what she thought of you. 

If she wasn’t a demon, she was at the very least powerful magically.  Which made sense given she had the best magic shop in the entire west coast.  Anyone who was anyone shopped at Song Li’s when they needed that hard-to-find item or only the best quality.

He wondered as he pushed the door open if Rupert knew where the store was.  Most people didn’t, even if they were involved with the more supernatural aspects of the world.  Spike knew only through Drusilla, who could always see what was trying to stay hidden.  Wonder if I should be the one to tell him?  Nah.  Don’t want to blow it here.

“William the Bloody.”  The voice was dry, a faint Chinese accent warring with British, filling the shop along with the dust motes.  Her English was always impeccable, despite the old-world flavor to it.  “Back so soon?”

“Yes, mum.”  He winced, but didn’t try to take it back.  This woman, demon or not, commanded respect.  He’d fully intended to come here and beg anyway, so politeness couldn’t hurt.  “That oil you gave me?  I’d like more of it, please, mum.”

“For your golden boy?”

He concentrated on working his way to the back, where Song Li always sat behind her counter.  It helped him fight the start of surprise he didn’t want to show her.  Don’t ask how she knows things.  Don’t ask what she knows.  Ask your questions, get what you need, an’ get the hell out.  Don’t show her surprise.

“Yes, mum.  Xander.  Alexander Harris.”  Finally at the back of the store, he had the obscure desire to tip the hat he hadn’t worn for half a century.

She tilted her head, dark eyes flicking over his face rapidly.  “A good boy, that one.”  Spike stiffened but said nothing.  She can’t possibly know.  She’s just guessin’.  “He’s come in a few times for that stuffy fellow.”

“Rupert knows this place is here?”  He cursed the minute the words were out, biting his tongue even while he knew it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good.  Apparently Song Li wanted information, which meant Li Song was going to get information.  I just hope it’s information I’m happy givin’ away.

He didn’t actually believe that.

The dry, amused laugh turned his attention back to the tiny woman before him.  “No, the good Watcher does not know about me.  Nor will he, until it is time.”  She rose, gathering several bottles and vials from a shelf behind her.  “Alexander, however, has found his way here several times.  He thinks it’s just another magic shop.”  Dancing eyes dared him to contradict that.

“Of course, mum.”

“So the cinnamon oil worked?”

Did she know who I was buyin’ it for?  Don’t ask that.  “Yes, mum.  But he’s still pretty banged up an’ I thought—”

“Such a sweet boy.  Very. . . accident prone, though.”  She handed him a much larger bottle than he’d purchased the first time.  “Take this.  Use as much as you wish; it will sooth and accelerate healing, but it isn’t dangerous.  Whenever you need more, send word.  I’ll make sure you get it.”

“Thank you, mum.”  He was not going to ask about the other things now on the counter.  He wasn’t.  “I’ll do that.”

“I’ll be very disappointed if you don’t.  I like that boy.  So polite he was, very charming.  I don’t want to see him hurt.”

“I don’t want to hurt him, mum.”  What the fuck?  I don’t want to hurt him?  Of course I want to hurt him!  Well, not yet, cause of the blasted chip, but of course I want to hurt him!  That’s what vampires do, especially to our human pets!  I want to see him bleed, see my mark in his flesh, hear him scream from what I’ve done to him. . .   Of course I want to hurt him!

Which didn’t explain the sick feeling in his stomach every time he pictured some of the lovely things he was sure he wanted to do.  Really, he did.  Because he was a vampire and pain was. . . oh, just bugger it all.

Song Li gave him a pleased smile before rummaging about for more things he was going to have to buy.  She separated them out into three piles.  “This,” she pointed to the smallest, “is a special potion.  Use it sparingly, and only when he is very seriously injured.  It is quite powerful.  I don’t want to see you in here for more of it before the summer.”

He nodded.  What else could he do?

“These are more massage oils.  I think you’ll like the cinnamon the best, but sometimes you may want other types.  Several you will find quite pleasant, as well.”  Then she pointed to the last pile.  “Use this vial,” she held up something small and green, “very lightly.  I’m sure you’ll know what it’s for.  The rest do not have the same powerful properties and can be used however you like.”

Spike blinked, eyes widening as he slowly realized what that small vial contained.

“Th-thank you,” he stuttered.  “I mean, how do you—of course you know, but—”

“I know.  I like that young man, and I always help those I like.  Besides,” her wizened grin turned as mischievous as a young girl’s, “I think you’ll be very good for him.  Don’t prove me wrong.  Now, remember to use only the tiniest amounts.  A little goes a very long way.”

“Yes, mum.”

“You are always welcome in my store, William the Bloody, also know as Spike.  Do not mistreat this privilege.”

“Th-thank you, mum.”  He handed over the entire wad of money, taking the bags with the air of a man who had just been smacked across the back of the head with a very large wooden board.  He couldn’t think of anyone—from powerful demons, to powerful sorcerers, to even the richest of either set—who were ‘always welcome’.  Not one.  “Mum?  Not to sound ungrateful but. . . Why?”

She smiled at him, face almost entirely lost in a mass of wrinkles and gleaming teeth.  “Good evening, William.”

Right, like she was gonna tell you anything.  Wanker.  “Good evening, mum.”

He stumbled his way out of the store, thoughts whirling as he tried to understand what the hell had just happened.  He knew he’d bought various items that would be useful and pleasurable in his relationship with the boy.  Okay, good, got that.  But the rest?  She just gave me bloody permission!  Except. . . permission to do what?  An’ why should I feel . . . grateful. . . or maybe pleased. . . cause of it?  The Big Bad does not need permission to do anything!  He doesn’t!

Except now he had it.

Oh, screw this.  Growling, he changed direction and went back to where he knew he find something he could fight.  He needed to feel flesh under his fists, hear the grunts and cries of something being pummeled until it couldn’t walk straight, smell the blood that told him that he, Spike, was the victor.  I need to bloody kill something.

It took work, avoiding the Slayer and the moldy-faced goons she had lurking about with her, but he managed to find three chaos demons lurking near the Bronze.  He grinned ferally, all of his anger and confusion come to the boil.  “Oh boys,” he sang out, “didn’t your mother’s ever teach you to be kind to your neighbors?”

They all turned around, slime dripping down their stupid faces to splat on the ground.

“Huh.  Guess not.  Looks like I’ll just have to.”

“Xander?  Xander, are you down here?”

Soft, delicate feet stomped their way down the stairs.  It always amazed him how something so slight could be that. . . brazen.  He continued forcing the milk into the now overstuffed refrigerator.

“Xan—oh, Spike.  There you are.  Where is Xander?  I have something very important to tell him.”

Spike didn’t even turn around, reaching blindly into the bag beside him for something else to try and squash in.  Cereal, good, that went on top of the shelf.  “He’s off bein’ a good little boy,” he smirked to himself, “an’ deliverin’ pizzas to the downtrodden an’ hungry.  Should be back in an hour or so.”

“Oh.”  Very small, that.  Like she was disappointed, and not in the ‘I-want-my-orgasms-now’ way.  He turned around, giving her a once over.  If his nose wasn’t lying. . .

“Said it was important then?”  Like why you’re two days late, maybe?  Know he wasn’t that unhappy about it—tellin’ Anya the Former Vengeance Demon that he now belonged to one devilishly handsome an’ well hung vampire was not high on his list of things he really wanted to do.  That said. . . it still hurt him.  She didn’t even call, and he was stuck wonderin’ and worryin’. . .

Which in no way accounted for the simmering anger he felt towards the former demon.  Of all the scoobies, he had always felt the most sympathy for her.  They didn’t understand how hard it was, to be forced to change your entire nature because of something you couldn’t control and didn’t want to accept.  Not even the Slayer got it, not really.  Self-involved little bint.

“No, well. . . yes, it is.”  She bit her lip, sitting down on the fold-out sofa they’d yet to re-fold.  Then she blinked.  “You bought groceries?”

“Was either that or listen to him bitch about how hungry he was.  Like he has any right to talk, with the poor, chipped vampire sleepin’ not five feet from him.”

Confusion turned to suspicion.  “You haven’t hurt him, have you?  Because I will be very upset if you have, Spike.”

“No, I haven’t soddin’ hurt the boy.”  An’ don’t ask me why I haven’t, or won’t, cause I dunno.  I mean, at the very least, I shoulda been playin’ mind games with him.  Please, boy comin’ out for the first time?  I could’ve. . .  Except he couldn’t, not really.  Sod this for a lark.

And then, suddenly, he realized what he should have from the start.  Sitting back on his heels, he eyed her warily.  “Leavin’ him, are we?”

She deflated.  Curling onto the bed, she pillowed her head on her arms and tried hard not to cry.  Spike could smell the salt of her tears and the misery radiating off of her.  And he knew why, too.

“D’Hoffryan want you back?”

She nodded wretchedly.  “He was waiting for me and asked me if I wanted to come back.  He said the business had been just awful without me, and he’d be willing to throw in a few extra perks that I’ve wanted for a long time, if I would just come back.  And now that I can go back. . . I don’t want to.”

The tears were falling now, quietly and without the blotchy histrionics he expected.  That told him just how deeply affected by this she was; she was too much the drama queen to go for quiet anything, unless it was the best way to manipulate her audience.  He moved next to her on the bed, not touching but still close.

“Why not?”

“What?”  She sat up, nervously wiping her face.  “Oh.  Because. . . well, I suppose part of it is that I was just getting used to being a human.  It’s quite a change going back to being a demon.  All those little aches and pains, all of them just vanished.  That was nice, at least.”

“An’ the rest?”  If she was a demon again, than he and Xander both had a bit of trouble coming their way.  Because no matter what way he twisted it, Xander had still cheated.

“I don’t want to leave Xander.  He’s a good boy,” an’ there’s that soddin’ phrase again, “and I don’t want to hurt him.  He doesn’t love me, I know that, but he could have and. . . he needs someone to take care of him.”

“Yeah, well, about that—”

Anya turned to look directly at him, face shimmering to her demon visage.  “You’ve taken him, haven’t you?”  Her demon voice was a meld of something deep and angry with her own strident tones.  Spike tilted his head, studying this new look.  Veiny, where vampires were smooth, but still browless and quite. . . delicate.  Feminine.  Almost as pretty as Dru, but unlike his dark goddess, this visage. . . frightened him.

Remember, you can fight demons, an’ vamps are decently immune to a lot of magicks. . .  None of which was really calming the nervous flutter of his stomach.  He hated things he couldn’t use fists and fangs against.

“Taken?  Er, don’t really know what you—”

Anya waved his words away.  The still surprisingly attractive demon face faded, leaving a young girl with too-wise eyes.  “He talks in his sleep,” she said succinctly.  “I figured it out.  Once Giles forced Xander to take you, I knew you wouldn’t be able to pass up something with so much orgasm potential.  And I knew that no matter how much Xander thought he loved me, he couldn’t tell you no.”

Right.  How the hell does she expect me to answer any of that?  “Well, yeah, what with him bein’ so—ah, nemmind.  Yeah, I’ve claimed him.  He’s accepted me as his pack-leader, I’ve accepted him as mine.”  He hoped he didn’t actually snarl that last word.  “Not givin’ him up.”

“Of course not.  Vampires are so territorial.”  She tilted her head back, previous bout of tears vanished into cool confidence.  This was the demon Anyanka, not the mortal girl Xander had dated.  “You’re worried I’m going to claim vengeance.”

Spike shrugged, trying to look as casual as possible.  “He did cheat on you.”

She laughed at him, eyes now completely dry and the pain she’d been feeling a distance memory.  Huh.  Looks like she was mostly worried about the boy an’ now. . . now she isn’t.  Right, not even thinkin’ about that.  Tonight has been a strange night.  “No, he didn’t.  If anything, he cheated on you with me.” 

Shaking her head in continued amusement, she stood and dug something out of her purse.  “Give him this for me.  Tell him. . . tell him thank you.  I’ll probably catch up with him someday, but right now D’Hoffryan wants me in Venice, yesterday.  Some jackass needs to be taken down a peg, and I’m just the demon for the job.”

Accepting the smallish package, Spike nodded.  “So you’re just leavin’?”

“Yes.  Xander was a good boyfriend and I think I could have loved him.  But he was always yours.”  She went through the eternal female ritual of fluffing her hair and straightening her skirt before looking down at him once more.  “Don’t hurt him.  Or the first thing he’ll see afterwards is me, telling him to make as many wishes as he wants.”

Spike nodded mutely, afraid of what he’d say if he opened his mouth.  Except. . .  “What about the rest of ’em?  We haven’t exactly been puttin’ up banners.”

She gave him a ‘duh’ face to rival the scoobies at their stupidest. “I’m going to be in Venice, Spike.”  Looking around fondly at the basement one more time, Anya touched the small blue pendent she wore and disappeared.

Spike stared at the spot she’d been in for a long time, idly playing with the ribbons on the box.  She loved him.  Or was on her way to it, anyway.  An’ she gave him up, because she wanted to be a demon again.

What the hell did that mean for him?

In his one hundred and however many years, Spike had gone through some fairly significant changes.  When he’d decided just weeks after being turned that William was a ponce and should stay dead, inventing Spike over the next few years.  When he’d been left alone with Dru, Angelus and Darla both gone, and it had been totally up to him to decide what they did and where they went.  When Dru had finally left him, and he’d been without any kind of compass to give him direction.  When he’d lain awake in the Watcher’s cold bathtub, contemplating what the hell a chipped vampire was going to do for the rest of his unlife.

Each time he’d changed himself in some fundamental way.  Usually the change was conscious, even calculated.  This time?  All my life, dark-haired, dark-eyed beauties have shaped me into what they want.

He returned to himself slowly, drawn by the scent of pizza and gasoline, with hints of nervousness and concern hidden underneath.  Xander was standing next to him, uncharacteristically silent.  His warmth bathed Spike’s cold bones.  He looked up into eyes so dark they were nearly black, beneath cave-man brows in that sweetly naive and innocent face.

What is this one going to want me to be, hm?  What’m I gonna become this time?

“You okay?”

“Anya was here.”

That got a reaction, anyway.  The boy started, practically jumping out of his skin.  Hastily putting the pizza down before he dropped it, Xander then sat heavily onto the red lounge chair.  It squeaked ominously, but held.  “Anya was here.  Anya my girlfriend.”


He passed over the package, going back to the ‘kitchen’ to finish putting the rest of the groceries away.  Hopefully the boy wouldn’t notice until much later, because this was not the time to have this particular argument.

The sounds of tearing paper and cardboard ripping told him when Xander finally gathered the courage to open it.  A letter was unfolded and read for a long, long time.  The scent of pain and relief, so sharp it was its own kind of pain, overwhelmed even the scent of warm, fresh pizza.  On top of all of it, though, was the ocean-smell of tears.

He was hardly aware of moving, slipping the box onto the small table beside him and tugging the letter out of numb fingers.  “Sh, precious,” he murmured, gathering the boy up in his arms and carrying him over to the bed.  “’Salright, luv, I promise it is.  I promise.”  He held him tightly while Xander cried, snuffling into his shoulder like the little boy he was again.

Much later, when Xander was hiccupping and shuddering from crying so hard, Spike deftly stripped them both of clothing before collapsing back into a tangle of warmth and cool, soft skin.  Winding his body around the boy’s like a cat, he whispered nonsense, concentrating only on his voice being low and soothing.  Kept his touches gentle and platonic.  The time wasn’t right for sex.  Yet.

He wondered what it was Anya had told the boy to get him to react like this.  Decided he didn’t need to know that, now.  It wasn’t important.  What was important was showing this beautiful, golden boy that he was still needed, still wanted.

Still loved?

“Shh, pretty boy, don’t cry so.  I’m here, luv.  You’re not alone, not ever alone.  I’ll always be here.  You’re mine, pet.  My boy, an’ only mine.  Be glad she’s gone and not angry with us both.  Don’t think we’d be happy if she made our parts fall off.”

He slid his hand down to where the trail of hair began, swirling it between his fingers while his other hand rubbed and kneaded at tense shoulders; carefully skated along the edge of the still-healing scar.  “Yours,” the boy whispered, the first words he said since he’d come in.  “Your boy.”

“My boy,” Spike agreed.  Dragged his hand down further to stroke and tease the growing hardness he found.  “My sweet boy.”  Xander moaned, burying his head deeper into Spike’s shoulder, sucking on the skin with enough fierceness that it might even make a mark—difficult to do on a vampire.  Warm hands latched onto his biceps, the desperate scrabbling a child’s need for reassurance.  Not a man’s passionate embrace.

“Shhh, precious one.  Spike’ll make it all better.  Let me make it better.  You trust me, luv?”  Xander nodded without dislodging his mouth, moaning again.  “Then let me, pet.  Let me make it better.  Let me make you mine.”

Deep, guttural moan, and Spike quickly squeezed the base of the boy’s erection, afraid that Xander would cum from those words alone.  Once he was certain the boy was in control again, he rolled him onto his back, slithered down that heaving body and swallowed the straining cock whole.

Xander bit his arm to stop the scream that burbled up from his chest, thrashing under Spike’s expert ministrations.  It had been almost two days since the boy had cum, mostly so his bruised and sore dick could heal.  That’s when Spike had decided that the boy liked the non-sexual touching the most.  Sex he got from Anya, an’ plenty of it.  Doubt they spent much time just holdin’ each other.  Don’t think the chit had the patience for it.

Touch, touch meant so much.  Spike’s lips curled on the most sensitive part of the boy, tongue and teeth swirling and scraping, fingers rubbing and squeezing, one hand on tightening balls, the other flat on a sucked-in stomach, just resting there, occasionally rubbing, but mostly just. . . touching.

A hitching gasp warned him.  Releasing his left hand from its fondling, he reached out and grabbed the small vial he’d purposefully left wedged in the cushions.  Upending it so that the contents spread on the pad of his pointer, he recapped it and placed it back in the cushion—he knew Song Li said only a little, but how little did she mean?

“Don’t cum,” he whispered, licking at the precum gathered at the head.  “Not yet, precious.  Just wait.  I’ll make it so good.”

I’m not nervous, he reminded himself, and eased his forefinger into the boy’s body.  It opened easily, spreading wider than it ever had, to the tune of the Xander’s breathy gasps and moans.  “That hurt?” he asked anxiously.

Frantic shakes meant no.  Okay, right.  This stuff lets him feel pleasure, but not pain.  Uh huh.  She wants me to bugger the boy?  Bloody hell.  When has my sex life become somethin’ little old ladies feel the need to meddle in?

Not that he was really objecting.

Still crooning to the boy, he daubed another bit on his finger and stretched Xander one more time.  He was not taking chances and not really because of the danger of the chip going off.  If he hurt Xander now—really hurt him, not just the pleasurepain he was sure the boy would enjoy—than he’d lose him.  Spike would abruptly be lumped into the category of those who didn’t really want Xander for him, but only for their own pleasure.

I do want you for you, Alexander Harris.  I want to make you mine.  Really mine, the way a bite would.  But since I can’t bite you. . .

He took another one of Song Li’s jars, containing lube that smelled like fire.  He slathered himself with it, one hand still petting and caressing the boy’s surging body.  “Lift up, pet.  Hold your legs under your knees, up against your chest.”  Not the best position for a virgin, but he wanted the boy to see him, to know exactly what was going on.  Fortunately, the boy was limber enough and Spike had more than enough experience to make it good.

“Spike,” the boy hissed through panted breaths.  “Want it—you.  Please, please take me!”

He had wanted it to be gentle.  He had wanted it to be safe and sweet and. . . romantic.

But Xander wanted to be taken.

Snarling into game-face, Spike lined himself up and thrust in.  Hard.  Xander screamed, arching his back and pushing down to accommodate all of Spike in the first go.  Incredible for a virgin, part of Spike’s mind whispered, grateful to the potion Song Li had given him.

The rest of his mind. . .  Heat.  Tight.  Rippling.  Soft.  Tight.  Hot, so hot.  So good.  So right.

Resting his weight on his palms, Spike nudged the boy’s thrown back neck.  “Look at me,” he growled.  “See me, a vampire, taking you, a human.  In you an’ on you, you are mine.  Forever.”

And he began to thrust.  Eyes gone black from lust and pleasure looked up, tracing over brow-less features and elongated fangs.  Then they locked with yellowed eyes, showing Spike that the boy did know what was going on.  And still wanted it.

He thrust harder, using all of his strength and speed, savaging the normal human boy who took everything he had to give.  “Mine,” he rumbled, nuzzling the scar as he jack-knifed into the willing body beneath him.  “Forever mine.”

“Yours,” Xander gasped out, and Spike wondered how they both had coherency left.  The feeling. . . it was intoxicating, spiraling through his body the way nothing ever had before.  His nerves sizzled in his skin, trying to drive out rational thought in favor of just feeling.

Xander raised his hands, gripping the cushion above his head, giving Spike the sudden impression that the boy was bound beneath him, unable to do anything but accept what his owner did to him.  Because he was owned now, in a way that no cum-claim or half-bite could really show.

Why’m. . . I thinkin’ when. . . there’s a warm, tight. . . body beneath me? he gasped out in his own mind, losing himself into the feeling of thrusting in and out of Xander’s tight passage.  The boy was clamping his muscles down, making it even tighter—making Spike force his way in, taking his pleasure.

“So good,” he gasped out.  “God, Xan, so tight. . .  Wrap—wrap you’r legs ’round me.  Hard.  Now!”

Xander complied, a tremor going through sore and tired muscles as they relaxed from their tense position.  “Good boy,” he panted out, rewarded when Xander let out a strangling cry, eyes still locked on his narrowing in intense pleasure.  “My boy.”

“Your boy.”

“Gonna make you mine,” he babbled, his rhythm faltering as he began to lose control.  “Gonna make you feel so good, cause I want it.  Gonna make your hurt too, cause I want it.  Gonna do anythin’ I want, cause you’re mine!”

“Yes, please!”

“Beg me,” Spike ordered, forcing himself to regain the rhythm and not give in to the delicious warmth that seemed to melt into his whole body.  “Beg me to fuck you.”

Xander swallowed and gasped, trying to draw in air and coherence enough to answer.  “Please, take me.  I’m yours, your boy, your fuck toy.  I’m your bitch, a body—a living body for your pleasure.  Just fuck me.  Please fuck me, Spike, please!”

“Will you call me master?”

“Yes,” the boy moaned.

“Will you call me Lord?”

“Please!  Oh, god, anything, I’ll do anything!”

“Will you obey, always and forever?”

“Yes!  Please yes!”  His eyes were open, but tears streaked down the boy’s cheeks.  His hands were white-knuckled on the cushions, and his legs clamped around Spike so hard that a normal human would have had broken ribs.

“Will you be my boy?”

“Your boy, yours!”

“Will you stay with me, always and forever?”

And suddenly, despite the mind-numbing pleasure, despite using a ritual Xander couldn’t be familiar with, there was clear understanding in those dark, dark eyes.  Understanding and a kind of internal pain so deep that it almost made him want to stop.  There shouldn’t be pain, not then, because Spike only wanted him to feel pleasure.

“I’m yours for as long as you want me.”

“Don’t. . . don’t do half-measures, luv,” Spike told him, thrusting even harder now that the formal part was out of the way.  Now it was just fucking, feeling himself pull back from that welcoming body, and then lunging forward.  His nipples scraped up and down the boy’s sweaty chest, his stomach rocking on the boy’s own fierce erection.  “I say. . . forever. . . I mean. . . forever.”

“Yours.”  The whispered word spiraled in his head, filling is mind the way he filled the boy beneath him.  It was all he needed.

Throwing back his head, he roared “MINE!” as he shot himself deeply into the boy he was truly, finally, claiming for his own.  Xander was his—and nothing was going to take him away.  Nothing.

Part 10