Title: Tainted Returns
Author: Kiristeen ke Alaya
Series: Not at the moment
Genre: BtVS
Pairing: Spike/Xander
Codes: Slash, humor, violence, graphic sex, bondage, dom/sub, minor knife/blood play, some language
Rating: NC-17
Beta: Parts 1-6 not beta'd. Chapters 7 - 14 beta'd by Beamer, bless her!

Warnings: Contains explicit slash sex, violence, and sex games.

Disclaimers: The world of BtVS and all its characters belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. They're not mine, and no money will be made from this story. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: (Goes slightly AU immediately following the last ep. of season 6.) This story takes Xander to a place he never went in the series. Immediately following his discovery of Spike's attack on Buffy, he decides to teach the vampire a lesson he won't soon forget.

Seeking out Spike, Xander discovers he has to rescue the vampire before he can carry out his plans. Unfortunately, Xander's luck is running true to form and things don't go quite the way he planned. In an altercation with one of the demons that has Spike, he gets sprayed with the demon's blood. It has some . . . interesting side affects. Xander's plans begin to shift as his controls and inhibitions fail, and memories and desires he'd far rather have kept buried deep in his subconscious come out to play.

AN: The demonic language spoken in this part is spelled with the closest phonetic approximation. Human tongues and throats can't actually form the words. : )~

Part One

Xander had worked up a full head of steam by the time the crypt came into view. As far as he was concerned Spike had crossed the line, and he was just the person to bring that point home. Buffy'd said it didn't matter. She'd told him to let it alone. Well, he just couldn't do that.

Spike had something coming to him, and it sure as hell wasn't a swat across the nose and a gentle 'don't do that again, Spike'.


"Tur noc fon, slet hic novalmo?"

Xander froze, frowning. That pained exclamation had sounded like Spike. But who's with him?

"Turna nog corle. Veta not."

That's two.

Creeping forward slowly, Xander followed the voices and the sounds of flesh hitting flesh. Sure enough, they led him straight the door of Spike's crypt. Someone had beat him to beating up Spike. Damn!

"Bloody hell!"

"Slet hic novalmo?!"

Xander stood indecisively for several long moments. He wasn't sure whether to leave them to it or actually dive in and rescue Spike. The vampire deserved it after all . . . didn't he? Groaning, when Spike let out a pained howl, Xander threw open the crypt door.

Silence descended instantly.

"Spike?" he shouted into the seemingly empty crypt. "Who the hell else did you piss off today?"

"Harris?" Spike asked, his voice sounding the worse for wear to Xander.

"Who else would it be, Fangless?" he shouted back, even as he groaned to himself again. It would have to be down there! Finding a length of discarded 2x4 as he worked his way deeper into the crypt, Xander hefted it. He smiled. About three feet in length, it would make an excellent impromptu weapon.

It didn't take him long to reach the two demons and Spike. He stopped, crossing his hands over top the 2x4, leaning on it as he would have a cane. In other circumstances, he might have found the scene in front of him amusing. Spike was being held shackled with his own manacles. His arms stretched above his head and out to the sides, the chains were sinched up tight enough that only his bare toes touched the ground -- and them barely. "So," he asked brightly, "what'd he do to you guys?"

The demons shared a look that Xander could only interpret as puzzled, but before either Xander or the demons could respond, Spike startled them all.

"Don't leave me with him!"

The two demons slowly turned until they were squarely facing Xander. They studied him silently.

Xander damn near gaped at the blond vampire. What the hell?he thought incredulously. Oh. Oh!! Almost grinning, Xander ducked his head to give himself time to control his expression. He so could not believe Spike was pulling a Brer Rabbit!

"Metso?" asked demon one, turning only his head to gaze questioningly at the manacled Spike.

"Why?!" Spike exclaimed, his voice fairly ringing with incredulity.

Xander's eyebrows rose. He hadn't realized Spike was that good an actor; though, he supposed he should have. Convincing people of lies was, in a way, acting.

"He's a bloody maniac, that's why!"

Oh, what the hell!Xander thought, dropping into the character that Spike was even now trying to paint for him. He allowed a slow grin to form, imbuing it with every ounce of evil intent he'd worked up on the hike over.

He was pleased by the startlement that flickered through the vampire's expression, his blue eyes widening ever-so-slightly.

"What's the matter, Spike?" he asked. "Don't have time for your old pal, Xander?"

The demons -- Xander still didn't know what kind they were; he'd never seen them before -- exchanged bemused glances, their smirks turning to full grins as Spike shook his head vigorously.

"Hell, no, Mate!" the vampire vehemently denied. "The last time around I couldn't walk right for a week."

Don't lay it on too thick, Spike!Xander thought. They aren't going to buy it, if you do.

"Sic nuw voltar, Spike?" demon two asked.

Spike's eyes widened in what Xander could only describe as exaggerated horror. He almost believed Spike was afraid of him. It was a good feeling . . . a very good feeling . . . a surprisingly good feeling. Xander let himself feel it. To hell with always being 'the good guy',he thought viciously. Where has it got me?

Spike shrank back, and if Xander hadn't been one hundred percent certain it was all an act, he would have been utterly convinced that the vampire was terrified of whatever the demon had asked him.

"What's he asking?" Xander demanded, trying to sound gruff and threatening, instead of plain old curious.

Spike shook his head, pulling as far back as the manacles allowed.

"Sic nuw voltar, Spike?" demon two asked again, this time taking a threatening step forward.

Xander copied the movement, bring the 2x4 up to rest across his shoulder. " What is he asking?"

Demon one grabbed demon two's arm, wrenching it around. "Cor nolvatarma lac xtra nommee!"

Demon two chuckled. "Nor poolknor."

"Spike!" Xander shouted, this time managing to add a real growl to his words. It wasn't difficult; he was getting tired of being ignored.

Spike jerked his head around until his eyes locked with Xander's. "He's asking whether or not you'll leave me alive."

Xander laughed. He couldn't help it. So much for the vague, undefined feeling that maybe the 'demons' might stick together. "They understand English?" he asked.

Spike nodded, suddenly lowering his gaze to the floor, the submissive gesture sending a totally unexpected rush through Xander. Yeah, he'd wanted to teach Spike a lesson, but he hadn't expected to actually enjoy it. Well, okay, enjoy it this much.

Grinning fully, Xander turned to face demon two. "Oh, yeah, I'll leave him alive. He won't learn much from the experience if he's dust, now will he?"

Demon two laughed -- at least that's what Xander thought that sound was. It was a disturbing sound, that much was certain.

"Och klart, nova almar crom. Kevleen mora tode comavarn alef. Lvnarta colloor rama noz stranta, co'tld vot."

"MOV!" demon one snapped, striding angrily toward demon two.

"Nava, Lart," demon two replied patiently.

Demon one, obviously unhappy with the way this meeting was turning out, stomped back to his place beside Spike.

"Translation?" Xander asked, turning his gaze back to Spike, surprised to find the vampire staring at him with undisguised amazement.


Xander almost laughed as demon two pulled a gesture that was -- apparently -- universal; he rolled his eyes, then repeated his statement.

The fear -- apparent fear, Xander had to remind himself -- was back. "They said I'm all yours -- roughly."

Demon two reached out casually, and cuffed Spike across the side of his head. The deceptively gentle blow snapped the vampire's head back, rocking his body back as far as the chains and manacles allowed.

Xander's eyes widened at that casual display of strength. It really didn't bode for him, if this didn't continue on its present path of friendly cooperation.

"Novar molt!"

Spike shuddered, closing his eyes briefly before returning his attention to Xander. "He said, 'What's ours is now yours. You'll get ownership as soon as you pay his debt to us.' The other bit was just an argument about whether they should allow it."

"They own you?" Xander asked incredulously, trying in vain to keep his surprise out of his voice. "How much?" he continued, this time not having to pretend to disgust.

"No, you bloody wanker!" Spike objected. "They just think--"

Spike's words were cut off abruptly as demon one mirrored demon two's earlier actions, only he put more force behind it.

Xander cringed as the loud craack reverberated through the crypt.

Glaring angrily, Spike continued, this time carefully not moving his jaw as he spoke. "Within their culture, when someone fails to pay a debt, they become the possession of the person they owe. And it's $200."

"Fine, I'll do it," Xander said flatly, then paused thoughtfully. "I don't suppose they'd take a check?"

Spike carefully shook his head.

"I'll go get the money," Xander offered, turning toward the exit. Then, stopping suddenly, he turned back to demon two. "But I'm paying for him; from here on out, I'm the only one that gets to hurt him. Understood?"

Demon one growled, the sound low and full of menace. Pulling itself up to its full height -- full, rather intimidating height -- it took a single threatening step forward. Demon two, however, merely nodded its agreement, turning an admonishing look on its companion.

Xander turned then and strode out of the room, determined not to look back and spoil the image. This is so not going to turn out well,he thought, worried about the demon that obviously didn't agree with the 'sale'; though, he had to admit the idea of being able to hold his 'ownership' of Spike over the vampire's head for the next . . . oh, couple of decades was definitely grin worthy.

Half way to the outer door of the crypt, Xander saw Spike's duster laying half on, half off the stone coffin. He grinned, an idea forming in his mind. He might just make it out of this alive after all. Grabbing the prized coat on his way past, Xander strode out into the night, feeling better about the ending of this little affair than he had.


Spike watched Xander leave with mixed feelings. First and foremost was his concern about what would happen while the whelp was gone. Secondly, of course, he was concerned that Xander would 'come to his senses' half-way home and decide not to carry through on the agreement. He wasn't altogether certain whether that would be a good thing or not. It was a sure thing that Xander would never let him live this down.

A growl from his left had Spike stiffening in preparation for being hit again. If the whelp can actually get me out of this,Spike thought, suddenly revising his indecision,I can live with the ribbing. At least I'll be alive -- sort of. Frankly, he'd been surprised when the Margaso leader had asked about leaving him alive. Up until that point, he'd been certain he was a dusted vampire.

Of course, Xander himself had really surprised him, he'd expected it to be a little more difficult to clue the whelp in on the part he had to play. The boy had taken to it with an ease that was . . . unsettling, and it was only now that Spike was beginning to wonder what it was that had brought Harris to his crypt in the first place.

"I can't believe you're selling the vampire to the human!"

"Oh, quite being a child, Lart. This is the perfect solution to our problem."

"How?" Lart demanded petulantly.

Spike listened, his mind automatically translating the unspeakable demonic language.

"You know as well as I do that a vampire servant would be more trouble than it's worth. This way, we get our money, and he still gets what he's due for his contemptible behavior."

"I still don't like it," Lart continued. "The human will be too gentle."

The Margaso leader finally snapped. "Leave it be, Lart! What's done is done. I will not back out on an agreement -- even if it was made with a lowly human. I have honor."

"What about--"

"Lart, what do you think will happen when the demon population, as a whole, finds out this one is owned . . . by a human?"

Spike's eyes widened in true horror. Bloody hell! "You can't bloody let this get out!" Spike exclaimed.

Lart flung his hand out to the side, his attention never straying from his leader. Spike groaned as renewed pain exploded across his jaw, the barely knit bone recracking with the blow. Great!he thought sourly. Yet another bruise. This one's gonna be a beaut!

"Lart! Don't damage the human's property further."

Lart frowned, his eyes narrowing dangerously, and Spike suddenly wondered if it was going to come to blows between his two so-called owners. Unfortunately, Lart backed off almost immediately. "I ask forgiveness, M'lkaro."

"Granted, Lart. You are young, you need to learn the times it is appropriate to control your impulses."

Lart didn't reply, but it was plainly obvious to Spike that the younger demon still wasn't happy. The glare he sent the vampire's way made it abundantly clear he wasn't yet satisfied with the new arrangement.

Part Two

The atmosphere in the crypt kept getting more and more tense until Spike thought he might actually scream -- if for no other reason than just to see the reaction. Grumpy, as he taken to privately referring to Lart, was still pouting, angry over what he saw as a loss. Unfortunately, even M'lkaro seemed to be getting impatient. Margaso demons were hard to read, but the big demon kept sighing and glancing toward the exit through which Xander had disappeared. It made it pretty obvious what was bothering him.

Spike, himself, had done it a few times, wondering, with growing concern, whether Xander really had changed his mind. Of course, it could be the boy couldn't manage to lay his hands on the money. Spike frowned as that new worry inched its way into his thoughts. He groaned mentally. He could not believe he actually wanted Harris to 'buy' him. But then, his eyes strayed to the two demons who'd so easily overpowered him. On second thought,he mused, Whelp, hurry the bloody hell up! His arms and legs were beginning to ache -- not to mention the fact that his jaw still felt like it had been snapped in two.

He tensed as he heard the upper crypt door open, relaxing only when he realized it was Xander. Thank you!he thought fervently. We can finally get this over with!

Only moments later, Xander came striding through the opening, money in hand. He strode straight up to M'lkaro, only his eyes flickering once toward Spike. He frowned.

"Who hit him?" Xander demanded angrily.

M'lkaro bowed slightly. "Verta, pos conna. Lart."

Spike sighed. "This other wank--" Twin glares from M'lkaro and Xander cut off Spike's name calling. "Lart did. He lost his temper."

"Twenty dollars off the price. He's more damaged than when I agreed to the sale," Xander stated firmly.

Spike's jaw dropped. Ouch! Note to self, until it heals don't get gob-smacked.

Lart growled, launching himself forward.

Fuck!Spike groaned. We're toast!

The next few seconds passed in a frenzied blur to Spike, Xander surprising him yet again by being well prepared for the angry demon's charge.

The boy whipped a shotgun from beneath his duster -- Hey! That's my duster!he thought irrelevantly. -- firing it at point blank range. The demon howled as he fell to the floor, the buckshot destroying his knee.

Jerking his gaze from the wounded Lart, Spike was surprised to see that Xander had worked himself to the wall, his back pressed up against it. He held the shotgun steadily pointed at M'lkaro, though he hadn't yet fired it at the Margaso leader. Something else caught most of his attention, however; Harris was covered in Lart's blood.

Oh that's just bloody fantastic!Spike thought sourly. My night just can't get any worse! He frowned. And no,he added quickly,no one has to prove me wrong.

"Are we going to have a problem now?" Xander asked, his voice steady despite the fear Spike could smell rolling off the boy. "Or can we still do this?"

M'lkaro grinned, and Spike almost fainted from relief.


"Deal," Spike translated.

M'lkaro cautiously stepped back, slowly reaching down to grab his bag. He clearly telegraphed each movement to the wary Xander, waving the boy forward after opening the bag.

Xander moved forward, lowering the business end of the shotgun until it pointed toward the floor. He glanced in the bag, then nodded and took a half-step back.

"What's he going to do, Spike?" Xander asked without taking his eyes off M'lkaro.

"Beats me," Spike responded, though he had a sinking feeling he knew exactly what the damned demon had planned. The bloody bastard was going to do the whole blasted ritual.

Spike watched in silence as the other demon removed several sheets of paper, and to all appearances completed ignored everyone else in the room -- including the still moaning Lart -- began writing.

Xander fidgeted restlessly as the first page was set aside and the writing continued. Half way down that page M'lkaro looked up.


"He wants to know your name."

"Xan-- Alexander LaVelle Harris."

M'lkaro produced another piece of paper and held out the pen.

Spike was about to translate the unspoken request when Xander set the shotgun on the table and took the pen.

After Xander handed it back, having written his name, several minutes passed as M'lkaro kept writing. Spike shifted, trying to ease the strain on his arms and legs. Having been in this position for far too long already, he was growing concerned that he wasn't going to be able to move when finally released. He knew damn well that either way it was going to hurt like the very devil when he was finally let go. This wasn't exactly the first time he'd found himself in a similar situation.

"Gorona doxz farmala."

"Beneficiary!?" Spike exclaimed.

Xander and M'lkaro both turned icy glares in his direction. Well, that's just bloody fine,Spike thought. 's not like I matter!

"Willow--," Xander began, then a truly evil grin spread over his face as he cocked his head, and looked over his shoulder at Spike. "Buffy Anne Summers," he said, holding out his hand.

Spike's eyes widened. Oh you right bloody bastard!he thought venomously

The pen exchanged hands twice more. After that, it was a matter of seconds before M'lkaro gathered the papers into a pile and straightened, a predatory smile on his face.

"Ratta naut korma yut!"

Suddenly, there were two piles of paper instead of merely one. M'lkaro picked up one stack, handing it to Xander.

Spike rolled his eyes. Right!he thought. Like Harris is gonna be able to read Margasan. He frowned as Xander's eyes flickered back and forth, slowly scanning down the first page, and then the second.

M'lkaro pulled a small knife from his bag and flicked it quickly across one calloused fingertip. Lowering the oozing digit, he pressed it to the bottom of both pages, then offered the knife to Xander.

Xander shook his head, a smile playing across his lips as he pulled out his own knife. He deftly copied the demon's movements, carefully placing his bleeding finger in exactly the same spot on his own set of papers.

Picking up both sets of paper, M'lkaro rounded the table, stalking over to the hanging Spike. He set the papers on the floor at Spike's feet, and then, fishing a key out of a previously unseen pocket, he released the manacle on the vampire's right arm. Spike let out a moan as pain shot through his abused body, muscles held too long in one painful position protesting the movement vehemently.

Grabbing hold of Spike's newly freed wrist as he sagged, unable to support himself, M'lkaro once again flicked the knife. Spike winced as it slit across a finger. By itself, it would have been an utterly ignorable sensation. Added to everything else, it was just something he could have done without.

He barely noticed as M'lkaro first turned toward Lart, telling the younger demon to leave, then unlocked the manacle still around his left wrist. His body screamed in protest as, no longer held in place, Spike slumped to the ground. His focus briefly changed as Xander once again copied M'lkaro's actions, slicing a finger and pressing his bloody finger to the second set of papers.

M'lkaro rose then, holding out the papers with his and Spike's blood print on the bottom. "Velna rot, corna veta new."

Spike wearily raised his head as he automatically translated -- this time loosely. "You keep his, he keeps yours."

Spike largely ignored the rest of what Xander and the demon did, keeping only enough attention focused outward to know when he needed to translate, which he had to do once, explaining that another set of papers that M'lkaro was handing the boy was the original agreement between himself and the Margasos.

Spike perked up as he heard the Margaso give the ritualistic business farewell, and he dutifully translated.

"Farewell, and good journey," Xander responded, surprising Spike for the umpteenth time since this whole thing started by giving the demon a respectful bow. He straightened quickly as M'lkaro turned to take his leave. "Wait," he asked. "How, um, far reaching is this . . . agreement?"

Spike groaned. He'd really hoped Xander wouldn't ask that particular question.

M'lkaro faced Xander, a broad grin blooming that bared all of his formidable set of razor sharp -- and long -- teeth. "Vera pod relava. Rettew mkiut qot." M'lkaro paused a moment before continuing, his smile, if that was possible, growing larger, as he now returned Xander's bow -- this time showing true respect, Spike noticed absently. "Korna vot iotre era huir, eto korova cur."

"The entire demon community, with a couple notable exceptions," Spike translated exactly, hating the fact that M'lkaro had slipped back into ritualistic speech, "honor the Margaso agreements." Pausing in the same place M'lkaro had, Spike sighed. "Most demons are of the opinion that those who break with us are idiots who deserve their fate."

Xander snorted in laughter.

Spike wasn't as amused.

Part Three

Spike let out an audible sigh of relief when M'lkaro left the range of his senses. It was over; it was finally over. He snorted -- except for the Xander taunting, of course. He certainly couldn't forget that. He ignored the snide little voice inside him that ever-so-thoughtfully reminded him of M'lkaro's promise to spread the news to the far reaches of the demon community. He ignored it again, when it questioned just how long it would take Xander to discover that little fact.

"So," Xander asked, working loose the chains the Margaso had shortened, "what possessed you to deal with them in the first place?"

Spike shrugged. "Didn't have a lot of choice in the matter," he admitted, figuring it couldn't do any more damage. "I was desperate." He frowned, watching as Xander moved to the other chain. "You know, you should really wash that blood off you. It does funny things to humans."

Xander spun around, his expression of absolute horror, comical. "What does it do?" he demanded.

Spike smirked. "Nothing too bad," he said. "Just makes all those nasty little inhibitions that humans carry around with them take a vacation." Unless of course, you've been possessed,Spike added privately, knowing he was safe in that regard. The closest Xander had been to that was the one halloween that the boy had spent acting like a soldier. Of all the stories the scoobies told; embarrassing ones, like when the fear demon had them running in circles; downright humiliating ones, like when Dracula had enthralled Xander and had him eating bugs; the ones about Xander's predictable love life, -- demon magnet is right; no one had ever even remotely hinted at any one of the Scoobies ever having been possessed.

"Oh?" Xander asked, and Spike wasn't sure he liked the interest he heard in the whelp's voice. "How long does that last?"

Spike's eyes narrowed. "Why?"

Xander shrugged. "Curious."

Finally, seeing no harm in satisfying the boy's curiosity, he answered. Hopefully, being 'helpful' would shorten the time the boy would ride him about 'owning' him. "Two to three days, on average. I've seen it last as long as a week -- but the girl had been drenched in the stuff."

Xander nodded then, grinning suddenly.

Not good,Spike thought.

"Hey!" he protested as Xander pulled his arm toward a manacle. "No way are you putting me in that thing, Wanker!" He pulled back abruptly, glaring sharply when his traitorous body didn't respond with the strength it should have. He was still caught in Harris' grip.

He continued to struggle as he watched his arm inch toward the now hated manacle. "This is NOT funny, Harris!"

Xander paused then, looking at him strangely. "It isn't meant to be, Spike." Xander cocked his head. "What made you think it was?"

Spike frowned, growing seriously concerned. He wouldn't have expected Xander to be into this sort of thing, not even deeply in his subconscious. Of course, the blood wouldn't be affecting him yet. That took time. It wasn't some instant magical whammy -- though, he wasn't quite sure how, exactly, it did work, just that it did. Consequently, that ruled that out as an explanation for Xander's odd behavior.

When Xander renewed his attempts to restrain him, Spike also renewed his struggle. No way in hell was he letting the boy get him back into those!

"Spike!" Xander hissed, suddenly closing the distance between them to mere inches. "I bruised my shoulder into next week firing that ancient shotgun. If you continue to struggle, you're going to hurt me." He smirked. "And we both know what happens then."

"Oh! I can not bloody believe this!" Spike exclaimed angrily. "You so did not just tell me not to fight you because it might hurt you!"

"You're right," Xander admitted, "I didn't. I told you that, so you wouldn't hurt yourself."

Spike's eyes narrowed, shock flooding him. Xander took advantage of Spike's one second of frozen disbelief and managed to lock the manacle around his wrist.

"Oh, bloody hell!" Spike cursed, feeling like he was repeating himself. He jerked backward, finally wrenching himself out of Xander's grip.

A day late, and a dollar short, taunted that insidious voice.

Xander's hand shot out, and slapped him, open-handed across his jaw. Spike let out a pained shout as the blow landed on exactly the same spot as Lart's had. "Damn it, Harris!" he retorted. "When the hell, exactly, did you come to my side of the force?"

Xander's jaw clenched. "Exactly the moment I found out you attacked one of my best friends," he hissed.

Fuck! Spike slumped, Xander's angry taunt like a punch in the gut. His second wrist was in a manacle before he recovered. Closing his eyes, Spike tried to calm himself. He was completely restrained, effectively helpless against an angry, soon to be inhibitionless -- was that a real word? -- human. How bad could it be? It was Xander, after all.

Understandably, the boy was angry; Spike had attacked, had almost raped, one of the whelp's best friends. Obviously, the boy needed to work off some aggression. He could understand that. He wouldn't enjoy being the recipient, but he could understand it. But, and he couldn't really move past this, it was Xander, how bad could bad get? Xander was 'the heart' of the scoobies, the ultimate good guy, as Angelus had aptly named him, the 'White Knight'.

It wasn't as though he could. . . . Spike's thoughts trailed to a halt as his mind supplied exactly where this could go, what someone like Xander -- his inhibitions and moral training completely stripped from him -- would consider appropriate retribution. He could see two different places it could go, actually -- and he really didn't like either one.

"You really don't want to do this, H-- Xander," Spike began, his voice placating. "When the blood wears off, you'll hate yourself, and you really don't want that."

"Oh really?" Xander asked. "What makes you think I've changed my plans for the evening?"

Spike frowned, unable to find a quick reply to that. "You came here intending this?" he asked finally, shaking the manacles that held him in place, still angry about them, but grateful that, at least, he wasn't strung up like he had been before.

"No, I have to admit that the manacles are an adlib, but they'll make my plans so much easier."

"Xander," Spike began again. There had to be some way to get through to him.

"Spike," Xander interrupted, striding forward. "Shut up," he finished, abruptly shoving the knife against his most tender -- and treasured -- parts, "unless of course, you'd prefer speaking soprano?"

Spike clamped his mouth shut. He most definitely did not want to encourage that line of thinking.

"Good boy," Xander smirked.

Spike raged, his eyes flashing gold briefly, but he kept his mouth shut. That blasted knife was still held against his groin. It was a very effective gag.

Xander's eyes flickered down. Wincing when the boy grinned, Spike was nevertheless relieved when the knife moved away.

"You won't mind if I borrow this, I trust?" Xander asked, not waiting for Spike's reply before releasing the buckle on Spike's belt, quickly working it loose from his jeans.

"Hey!" Spike exclaimed in outraged protest. "Hands off!"

Xander ignored him. Crossing the room, he took the belt to the table and bent low over it.

With the boy's back to him, Spike couldn't see what he was doing with the belt. Spike twisted, trying to see. "That's my only belt, you wanker! Don't mess it up."

Xander just chuckled.

Son of a bitch! Spike thought, now seriously wondering if the blood really was affecting the whelp this quickly. And, Damn it all to hell!, he really wanted to know what was being done to his belt! His eyes narrowed as a new thought occurred to him. Harris was bloody using the blood dousing as an excuse to do whatever he wanted! That sneaky son of a bitch! he thought, actually impressed.

Xander finally straightened, holding the belt triumphantly up. Spike didn't like the truly evil cast to Xander's growing smile. He really didn't.

"Now the fun can start," Xander practically purred as he crossed back to the bound Spike.

Spike shied backward. "And just what 'fun' would that be?" he asked warily. "Cuz, you know, I really don't think our ideas of fun are gonna match."

"You'd consider it fun if you were in my position," Xander countered, circling behind Spike.

"Not really reassuring me there, Xander," Spike replied, trying to twist around so he could continue to watch Xander. "In fact, it's kind of doing the exact opposite."

"Good," Xander retorted with a soft chuckle. "It wasn't meant to reassure you."

Spike flinched as a loop of the belt came over his head. "No bloody way, Harris!" Spike snapped as Xander began tightening the belt around his neck.

Spike twisted and ducked, but held in place as he was, it ultimately did him no good.

"There," Xander said, once the belt was secured, "your new collar -- complete with leash."

Spike growled. "Just remember this, Harris. When everything is said and done, eventually I'll be free, that is when you'll need to watch your back. Remember that as you're having your . . . fun."

"Oh, I will," Xander replied, and Spike could hear the grin. "But guess what, I'm going to be old and grey before that chip stops working, so, really not worried here."

Spike just glared. The idea that the chip would work that long was . . . disheartening, but he wasn't really in a position to dwell on that just now. At present, he had bigger concerns.

"You want to know what your leash says?" Xander asked cheerfully.


"Well, I'm going to tell you anyway."

Spike blinked as the tail of the improvised collar and leash was suddenly thrust before his eyes. It took a moment to focus on the words scratched into the leather.

~ ~ ~Property of Alexander LaVelle Harris~ ~ ~

Eyes blazing, Spike jerked his head to the side. "You're letting the Margaso paperwork go to your head, Whelp!" Spike snapped, his gut clenching as he realized that instead of teasing him as he'd expected, Xander was apparently planning on taking his claim as 'owner' quite seriously. "My, my," he continued snidely, "what would your friends think -- you 'owning' a vampire."

"Who's going to tell them?" Xander asked sweetly. "You? I can see it now."

"Buffy? . . . Yeah, I know I did, but you've got to listen. Xander 'owns' me, and he's . . . gasp . . . taking advantage of me."

Spike growled again. "Not even remotely funny, Harris."

"Really? I thought it was."

When Spike didn't retort, Xander sighed. "Nothing left to say?"

Spike remained silent. He was determined, now, to ride this out without saying another word. He seemed to only dig himself deeper every time he opened his gob.

"Ah, well," Xander said finally. "I discovered something a long time ago, but I've never had the opportunity to test it. I don't really understand how it works, considering you guys don't actually have circulation -- no working heart to pump it round."

Spike frowned again -- it was getting to be a habit. What the bloody hell is he going on about?

"Damn, Spike, if I'd known it was this easy to get you to shut up, I'd have done this a long time ago."

Spike glared, but stubbornly kept his mouth shut. He knew damn well that the boy was trying to get a rise out of him, and he sure as hell wasn't going to let the wanker win that easily. He was, however; beginning to wonder if he might not have been better off staying with the Margaso.

"Not even curious?" Xander asked with another laugh. Shrugging, he reached up.

Spike reared forward as Xander's thumbs pressed into the veins on either side of his neck, coming to an abrupt halt when he reached the end of the chains holding him. He brought his chin down savagely, trying to block, or alternately, to break, Xander's fingers. The chip twinged at that thought, and Spike groaned mentally. NOT fair!

Spike didn't have a clue how it worked either, but he'd used the maneuver on Dru, so he knew it did. If he didn't dislodge Xander's thumbs he had about 20 seconds of consciousness left. Spike's vision started darkening. Okay, he admitted, I might have overestimated a tad. It was his last thought before the darkness reached up and grabbed hold of him.

Part Four

Spike came to suddenly with a gasp of unneeded breath. The crypt dark and silent, he was immediately aware of several things. His jaw no longer hurt, but that pain was replaced by a new stinging low across his belly. Secondly, an experimental tug of his hands revealed that he was still manacled, this time to his bed. Thirdly, as he turned his attention away from himself, a heartbeat.

He inhaled deeply, scenting the air. He'd known before he'd tested that it was Xander. Who else would it be. But the scent was off; it was tainted with the sweet smell of the Margaso. Xander was now fully under its influence.

"So," Spike ventured, searching the darkness for the human, "you got your wish. You're free of all those nasty little inconveniences called human morals. What are you going to do with your freedom?"

Spike frowned. He could see the boy, but the heat of his body was off. It was high, like he had a fever.

"I want to thank you," Xander replied softly, his voice lower than Spike expected, kind of gravelly.

Say what? "What for?"

"For freeing me. I've hidden so much of myself over the years. It's . . . nice."

Spike stayed silent, not sure, exactly, how to respond to that.

"So many things have happened to me: good things, bad things." He paused. "Though, I suppose whether you would think they were good or bad depends a whole lot on your perspective."

"Good point," Spike commented, not entirely certain where this was headed, but figured, the longer he kept Xander talking, the less time there would be for other, less pleasant, activities. "I take it that your current 'perspective' changes your viewpoint on some of those things?"

Xander chuckled, the sound sending shivers skittering down Spike's spine. "You could say that."

"I did, already," Spike replied, smirking.

"There was an . . . incident, back in high school -- a lot of them, actually -- but one in particular that changed my life beyond return."

"Oh? What was that, pet?" Spike asked, curious despite his current circumstances.

"Did you know we have something in common?" Xander asked instead of answering Spike's question. "Something I wouldn't admit any time but right now?"

Okay, that's unexpected! "Yeah?" he encouraged. "What's that?"

"We both tried to rape Buffy."


"Yeppers. Of course, I was possessed by the spirit of a hyena at the time."

Spike whimpered. I told you, no one had to prove me wrong! Unfortunately, it was far too late to undue the damage his earlier silence had caused.

"How'd that happen?" he asked, wishing he could be any place but where he was. This was so not the way he wanted to spend the evening.

"Doesn't matter," Xander replied, finally stepping close enough for Spike to get a good look at him.

Spike sucked in a quick breath at the startling differences in the man he thought he knew. He held himself completely differently. Gone was the comic. Gone was the Zeppo. Gone was the gangly young man that tried his best to keep everyone's spirits up no matter the circumstances. In his place was a predator. Xander stood at ease in his own skin, his stance at once relaxed and alert. In short, he looked like he was ready to take on the world.

"See, the thing is, I learned from my mistake. Did you?"

"You learned from that?" Spike asked flatly. "Just what did you learn? That it's stupid to push a slayer?"

Xander laughed again, moving forward until he stood beside the bed.

It was then Spike noticed the two bowls Xander was holding.

"Well, that too," Xander admitted wryly, his lips twisting upward into a crooked smirk, "but I learned oh so much more than that."

"Really? And just what was that?"

"You'll find out."

Okay, not liking the sound of that! "What do you mean, I'll find out? Wait, never mind. I don't think I want to know."

"Not even remotely curious about what's going to happen to you tonight?"

Spike shook his head. "Not really. Talking is good. It's been . . . informative, so far." He watched warily as Xander set the bowls on the bedside table.

The scratch and immediate flare of a match startled Spike, and he had to blink way the spots caused by the sudden brightness. Xander lit the two candles Spike always kept by his bed.

"Sorry," Xander said, turning to face him as he blew the match out, "you're pretty much out of luck on that. We've got to move ahead, before those cuts heal completely."

Cuts? Oh, my stomach! Spike peered down trying to see what Xander had done.

"You Pillock!" he accused, finally making out the words Xander had lightly carved into his skin.

"Now, now," Xander replied, amusement clear in his voice. "It's not nice to call the person who holds the keys to your chains names."

"You git!" Spike laughed, despite himself. "That won't stay, you know. It'll be gone in a matter of minutes."

Xander shook his head. "No it won't," he denied, climbing onto the bed. Straddling Spike's thighs he settled himself on the now worried vampire.

"And why's that?"

Xander picked up the nearest bowl, holding it above Spike. "Finally, all that research at Giles' pays off."

Spike's eyes narrowed.

"All sorts of interesting stuff in there," Xander continued, ignoring Spike's unresponsiveness. "I'm sure some of it, the G-man would prefer we didn't know."

"Oh, I can pretty much guarantee that," Spike replied drily, warily eyeing the bowl Xander seemed to set such store by. "What's in it?"

"Nothing overly special really."

"You didn't go messing with that dark mojo stuff did you?" Spike asked worriedly. He really never had liked that stuff -- especially when it came to being cast on him. And, despite the fact that Xander seemed much more confident now, he was even more concerned about it being Xander that tried to cast something on him.

Xander laughed. "No way! I've seen some of the shit that can go wrong with that. I'll stay as far away from that as I can get."

Spike sighed in relief. That was good at least. "Care to explain what's in the bowl then?"

Xander grinned, up-ending the contents of the bowl over Spike's stomach.

Spike arched up of the bed, a startled shout yanked out of him at the surprising pain that arced through the cuts on his belly. Xander had to steady himself to keep from being bucked off. "What the fuck's in that?"

"Like I said, nothing overly special."

Spike growled as Xander began dragging his fingers through the fine powdery substance, driving it painfully into the cuts.

"Ingredient one; Cherry wood sawdust. I chose cherry for the color. I like the dark red."

"You're shoving wood into me?" Spike demanded in outrage. Immediately beginning to buck, he completely ignored the strain it put on his body. Xander spread his knees, widening his support base, and clenched Spike's hips with both hands.

"You'd prefer I used a bigger whole piece, a little higher up?"

Spike stilled, grinding his teeth together in frustration. That bloody should have dislodged the blasted idiot! He wished he knew more about exactly how Margaso blood affected humans who'd been possessed, because this was a hell of a lot more than just losing inhibitions. For one, Xander seemed a hell of a lot stronger than he should be. Unfortunately, before now, he'd never really had the need to know. Rumors were all he had to go on.

"That's better," Xander replied soothingly. "Now, be a good boy and stay still while I finish my artwork."

Wanker!Spike thought viciously, wanting so much to vent his frustration. If not for the bloody chip, he would not be in this position -- weakened by the Margaso bastards, or not! Of course, if not for the chip he wouldn't have needed to deal with the Margaso in the first place. He could trace every single one of his present troubles back to the initiative and their poking their noses in places they had no business poking!

At least ground up wood won't make the scarring permanent, no matter what the git thinks,Spike consoled himself. A couple of weeks of humiliation of knowing it's there, and then poof it'll fade away. Spike almost smirked. Wait!

"First ingredient?"

"Oh, yeah, there's also pure silver flakes, and the ashes of a flamed vampire. The book was very specific," Xander continued conversationally, never pausing in his work, "it had to be a vampire that had burned by flame. It wouldn't work using the ashes of one that had been staked or beheaded. It couldn't even be one flamed by sunlight. It had to be by fire."

Spike shuddered. That was just . . . gross. Xander was working pieces of a dead vampire into him! "Tell me you're kidding!" Spike pleaded.

"Nope, I'm really not kidding. I told you those books had interesting stuff in them."

"Don't do this," Spike asked, for once removing all traces of his condescending attitude, and all the bluff and bluster he usually kept up. Even still, he had to pause before continuing, "please." He was no longer worried this was going to head in one of the two obvious directions he had earlier. No, it was worse, it was far worse.

If Xander had managed to get his hands on the right -- or wrong depending on your point of view -- books, this situation could turn seriously permanent, and to his utter disgust, there wouldn't be a damn thing he could do about it.

Xander stopped his tracing, and leaned over Spike, bracing himself on hands planted on either side of the vampire's bare chest. "Did Buffy say please, too?" he asked. "Did you stop when she did? Or did it take her beating the crap out of you to get you to stop?"

"She didn't have to 'beat the crap out of me'. I stopped, damn it! On . My . Own. I realized what I was doing and stopped. I got carried away, but I stopped." Spike was pissed now. He'd done something wrong, something horrendously stupid, but he'd stopped because he'd realized what he was doing, not because of anything anyone else did. "I didn't rape her. I didn't even push all that hard, you bloody wanker!"

"Oh really? I suppose that's why she was sporting a bruise the size of a grapefruit? Buffy isn't exactly easy to bruise."

"Oh, get real. She's come away from our bouts of sex with more bruises than she got in that bathroom!" Spike snapped in exasperation, the words out before he could stop them.

Xander's eyes narrowed dangerously, his lips thinning into a tight, unforgiving line.

Oh, shit! Maybe I shouldn't have brought that up!

"You really shouldn't have mentioned that, Spike. If it was meant to reassure me, in anyway, it backfired."

Like duh!

"I may be overly impulsive, Harris, which I freely admit gets me into all sorts of trouble I'd really rather avoid, but I'm not stupid!"

"Good, you should be easy to train then," Xander quipped.

"TRAIN!?" Spike sputtered. "Are you out of you bleeding mind?"

"Yep," Xander retorted, "that's the whole point of the Margaso blood, isn't it?"

Spike stared incredulously at Xander. He couldn't possibly be serious.

"Anyway, I'm done," Xander said, suddenly sitting up straight, and carefully brushing the excess powder off Spike's abdomen. Leaning forward, Xander blew gently across the scabbing cuts.

Spike's stomach tightened reflexively as the warm moist air slid across his tender skin.

When Xander leaned toward the table beside the bed, Spike seriously considered trying to dislodge him again. Ultimately, however; he gave it up as a lost cause. It might give him momentary satisfaction, but Xander would still be free, and he would still be chained to the bloody bed.

Relieved when he saw the bowl contained only a rag and what he sincerely hoped was plain tap water, he continued to watch warily.

Xander carefully squeezed the excess water out of the washcloth, and proceeded to gently clean Spike's stomach, his gaze fixed firmly on his work.

Spike shifted uncomfortably, the warm water feeling better than he would like -- in his current situation.

"Do I get any choice in what does and doesn't happen here tonight?" Spike asked, gratified when his voice sounded completely normal.

And you're asking, why?!

His hand stilling, Xander's gaze darted up to Spike's for a brief second before returning to the vampire's stomach. "Depends," he answered with a shrug, this time not stopping his efforts.

Spike cleared his throat. "On what?" he asked carefully. He could see the grin his question provoked, and he really didn't like it. Gritting his teeth, he waited as patiently as he could for Xander's response.

"On what it is you don't want to do," he replied. "I've got the next couple days completely planned, and I doubt I'll change my mind. Unless, of course, there's something you want to do that intrigues me," Xander continued, his voice dropping to a velvet purr.

Swallowing, Spike shook his head.

"I didn't think so. So, what is it that you want to avoid enough that you actually risked asking?"

Spike eyes narrowed as he considered his options. He wasn't sure whether it would be better to keep his mouth shut -- for a change -- or admit what had him . . . concerned.

"Come on, tell me," Xander encouraged, "that way you'll know one way or the other."

With a sigh, Spike, trusting that Xander had probably told the truth about not changing his mind, decided to take the risk. "Well," he began, "considering the setting and all--"

Xander laughed, the sound loud in the previous quiet of their low conversation. "I'm not planning on raping you."

Spike heaved a sigh of relief. That, at least, was one worry out of the way.

"I'm planning on seducing you."

Spike blinked, shock stealing his voice. "You what?" he asked after several moments of trying to speak.

"You what?" Spike repeated when Xander didn't respond, going completely motionless. He couldn't have heard that right!

Xander still didn't respond, just grinned, dipping his head down toward the still healing marks on Spike's stomach.

Spike jumped, startled when Xander's wet, hot tongue flicked out and traced the X in Xander's. The muscles beneath that tongue twitched in response, which got a knowing chuckle from Xander. "Hey, um, not to be obtuse, or anything--"

Xander's tongue darted out again, this time tracing the a. Spike snapped his mouth shut cutting off his own words -- and the moan that threatened to emerge. This was ridiculous. Not five minutes ago he'd been worried that Xander was going to force himself on him, and now he was actually reacting to the gentle touches. It didn't make any sense. He didn't want that then, and he didn't want it now. He wouldn't want it, either!

He squirmed beneath Xander's tongue, ready to lodge a second protest.

Suddenly, Xander sat straight up, wearing a feral grin. "I'm hungry," he said out of the blue.

Spike swallowed, surprisingly nervous. He didn't understand this Xander. He didn't have a single clue what to expect from him. "Hungry?" he asked warily. "Hungry for what?"

The grin just grew as Xander hopped off the bed and he strode toward the exit. He shrugged half-way there. "At the moment, I'll eat just about anything," he said, then cast a glance over his shoulder before continuing. "Didn't you know, hyenas are carrion eaters." With those parting words, he disappeared through the exit.

Spike shuddered, swallowing convulsively, his eyes drawn of their own accord to the very spots Xander had licked. He hadn't known that. Jerking his head up to stare at the now empty room, he wondered if he should be grateful that uninhibited Xander hadn't taken a real taste. It was going to be a very long night, and an even longer time before the blood effects wore off Xander.

He couldn't believe it, but, he really wanted the 'white knight' back. At least with him, Spike knew what to expect. He might have to deal with a brassed off best friend, but he sure as hell wouldn't have to deal with all this 'seduction' shit! The Xander he knew didn't like guys. The Xander he knew, the slightly goofy Xander, sure as hell wouldn't have put a collar and leash on him, and carved his name into anyone's belly!

Spike groaned. This was bloody getting him nowhere! Jerking on his restraints, he pulled himself toward the headboard until he could raise himself into a sitting position. It was time to get himself out of this mess. He could disappear for a couple of days until Xander was back to himself. He already had enough blackmail material on the git to keep the boy from taunting him too much about 'owning' him. It might even be enough to keep him in smokes for the next year.

He grinned, realizing that this situation just might turn out to his advantage after all.

Part Five

Xander closed his eyes, reveling in the utter freedom of movement. Part of him wanted to head straight to Giles' to look up the effects of this type of demon. Fortunately, it was a very small part of him, because he'd forgotten to ask Spike what kind of demon it was. He could figure it out later. What he knew now was enough for him -- mostly.

He wasn't possessed again. It wasn't the hyena spirit come back; though, it felt incredibly similar. He vividly remembered how that had felt. Like when he'd been the soldier; he'd been along for the ride, but kinda separate, as though he were two different people. This was different. It was him doing and feeling this. It was him, Xander Harris, moving like an athlete.

Spike had been right about the blood letting him bypass his inhibitions, his 'morals', but that wasn't all it did. Something no one else -- well, possibly Giles -- knew, and that Xander himself had ignored, was that after each possession he'd changed. The hyena had left behind instincts and desires that he'd never acted upon, that he had, in fact, buried so deeply that he forgot about them most of the time. The soldier left behind the memories of his training, and even some knowledge.

That, he'd let the others see for a while, but when nothing changed, he'd slowly allowed them to forget. He'd acted like it was all fading. He'd gone back to being what they needed him to be -- the joker, the one who kept everyone's spirits up, the one who made sure nothing got too heavy to handle. He did it with badly timed jokes, using morbid, gallows humor that made everyone roll their eyes, chuckle, and tackle the demon of the week that could literally tear them limb from limb -- and win.

He was also their precious glimpse into normal. He was the single one of them that actually had a chance at a completely normal life -- if he were to take it. He was their ever present picture of what, exactly, they stayed fighting for. Those were his roles with the Scoobies. They knew it, and he knew it. And as much as it sometimes hurt being that person, it was an important part to play. Eventually, habit became truth, and all his skills and abilities had surrendered to the Zeppo.

For the moment, he was freed from all that, and it was glorious. He'd been completely honest when he'd thanked Spike for it. It wasn't something he'd have given -- allowed -- himself, if he'd known the full extent of what that demon's blood would do. Even in his current state, he knew that. The blood hadn't taken his intelligence. He laughed. No, just his ability to care about right and wrong.

A scent in the light breeze caught his instant attention, and he dropped into a crouch. Nostrils flaring, he inhaled deeply, savoring the fresh mouth watering odor. He'd found what he was hunting for. Grinning, he rose gracefully to his full height, heading toward the source at a trot.

When he neared, he slowed, moving carefully now. Not a sound was made as he picked his way through the trees, not a leaf rustled, not a stick cracked beneath his feet. The hyena instincts may not have been all that great at stealth, but the soldier's were.

There! Dropping down, he waited, the hyena urging him to charge ahead and take, the soldier urging patience, urging him to wait until the time was right. He followed the soldier's advice, waiting, forcing himself not to fidget restlessly.

He watched, eyes avid as the yearling ate, apparently oblivious to its imminent mortal danger. It worked its way ever closer to the waiting man. Xander swallowed as the deer stopped just short of the ideal ambush spot to nibble on the leaves of a newly sprouted sapling. His mouth watered.

He remembered well the feeling and taste as he and his pack had slaughtered and ate the school's mascot. He remembered, too, the feelings of disgust after the hyena spirit had been banished. He was sure he'd have to go through that again, but right now he didn't care. That was tomorrow, or the next day. Tomorrow wasn't important to him, only now was.

His heart pounding in his chest as the yearling took that precious extra few steps, Xander leapt. He crowed, howling with glee as he landed squarely on his prey's back. Xander's feral laughter rang out as the animal fought for its life, twisting and bucking wildly. Locking his arms around the animal's neck, and clamping his knees tightly to its heaving sides, he held on for all he was worth.

Finally, his chance came; the yearling, mouth frothing from exertion, stumbled, and Xander's weight drove it to its knees. Never loosening his grip, Xander threw himself to the side, rolling with the animal as it fell. Twisting deftly as it hit the ground, Xander clamped his blunt teeth over the deer's throat. He didn't break the skin, merely holding on until the animal lost consciousness.

Hyena, soldier, Xander, all crowed as the life beneath him stilled into blissfully unaware sleep; merging, joining, becoming one cohesive whole.

Now, all he needed was a pack, teammates. Xander grinned. A mate. He was working on that.

Energized with renewed purpose, Xander leapt to his feet, hefting the unconscious animal over his shoulder. With one last triumphant glance at the scene of his victory, Xander headed back to Spike.

The return trip took him longer, weighted down as he was, and what with the necessity of hiding from the few souls brave -- or stupid -- enough to be out this late at night, but eventually the crypt came into sight. He grinned again, his mind whirling with ideas, thoughts, and nebulous plans. He had a vampire to seduce, and he now knew he had the way to do it.

Of course, he hadn't forgotten the fact that the vampire in question still needed to be punished, but that could wait. It would wait until that being was his, well and truly his. Then, and only then, would he exact his punishment for Spike's crimes. That he understood completely what had driven the vampire, did not one single thing to change the fact that Spike had overstepped his bounds in attacking someone Xander held dear, someone Xander chose to protect.

The moment he entered the dark crypt, Xander knew something had changed. He paused, scanning the room, scenting the air, trying to figure out what it was. It didn't take him long, and he grinned when it dawned on him. Spike was trying to escape -- and hadn't yet made it. It seemed he'd been close, though; the air was permeated with the sweet scent of the vampire's fevered anticipation. Clinging to that, was the lingering odor of the flash of panic that Spike had to have felt in that instant he'd heard Xander's return.

He'd ignore the transgression for now. It would be added to the ones the vampire would pay for later. He looked forward to it.

Striding in, Xander frowned, wondering how he'd managed to bury his enhanced senses. Until tonight, he hadn't realized he actually still had them. Yay for the power of denial,he thought sarcastically. He hoped that this time around, not all of his potential would get buried. He liked feeling this way. He liked moving with grace instead of awkwardness. He really liked being in control.

When the blood wore off, he hoped with every fiber of his soul that it wouldn't all get hidden under the weight of guilt. With that thought in mind, he told himself not to do anything so bad that his 'normal' self would feel obligated to overcompensate. Maybe if he could prove he wouldn't do anything too drastic while completely uninhibited, maybe normal Xander would get a clue.

He shook his head, chuckling as he strode into the room that housed Spike, then sighed. It was a nice thought anyway. Normal Xander couldn't even loosen up enough to admit that he liked guys the same way he liked girls. He certainly couldn't admit that Spike, in particular, drove him to distraction. What he was doing on that score alone would be enough to send Normal Xander into a tizzy of denial so strong, Free Xander wouldn't see the light of day -- or the moon -- for years to come.

Spike's eyes were locked on him, following his every move as he stalked slowly toward the bed. He could feel the weight of that intense gaze, though he didn't bother looking at the vampire as he closed the distance between them. Dropping the yearling on the floor, Xander turned away, crossing toward the chest at the foot of the bed.

Opening it, he found what he'd hoped would be stored there. Grinning, he popped back up, prize in hand.

"Bloody hell!"

He grinned at Spike's predictable response to the new set of chains he held. "You didn't really think that I wouldn't realize you'd be able to work yourself free did you?"

"I'd sure as hell hoped!" Spike muttered, then snapped his head up, eyes blazing angrily. "If I'd been at full strength, I'd have been out of here long before you got back."

Xander nodded knowingly. "The chains are strong enough, but that bed, sturdy bed that it is, isn't exactly made to withstand a vampire's strength."

"You knew!" Spike accused petulantly.

Again Xander nodded, stepping forward.

Spike shifted instantly, his hidden hands coming back into view as he renewed his frantic efforts to free at least one hand before Xander reached him.

Xander stopped, cocked his head, and waited.

It didn't take long to get a response. Spike stilled when he realized Xander was just standing there staring at him.

"What are you looking at?"


Spike's eyebrow cocked upward in surprise, obviously unsure what say in response.

"Do you really think you're going to get free before I can get these on you?"

"Got to try, don't I?" Spike retorted, resuming his efforts.


"Huh?" Spike responded, once more stopping to stare at him. "What do you mean 'why'?"

"Why waste the energy doing something you know won't change anything?" he asked, honestly curious.

Part Six

That question stalled Spike's thoughts for a moment, but only for a moment. "Yeah, right, Harris, like you wouldn't be trying to escape every second, too," he sneered, leaning back against the half-destroyed headboard.

"Actually," Xander replied, "if I was in your position, I would have slept while my jailor was gone. I would have conserved my energy for when I needed it to fight him."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Sure you would have; Mr. Attention Deficit himself, would have slept while he was scared out his mind."

"Nice to know you can admit to being afraid," Xander replied.

"I did no such thing!" Spike exclaimed in outrage. How dare the whelp! He was not afraid of Xander Harris!

"Right," Xander said drily, suddenly darting forward and clamping one manacle around Spike's ankle before the vampire realized he was even moving.

He groaned. This was just not his night. He'd let the whelp get the jump on him . . . again.

Spike sighed, giving up escape as a lost cause -- for the moment -- and merely watched as Xander hooked the other end to the proper ring -- the one attached to the steel post that was imbedded 3 feet down into concrete of the crypt floor. He knew there would be an opportunity to escape at some point. It just wouldn't be real soon.

Xander then moved silently toward the deer he'd left on the floor beside the bed. It was only then that Spike noticed the thing was still alive. He'd been so focused on thoughts of escape, and of what Xander was doing, he hadn't heard the heartbeat until now. His eyes widened; he was impressed, despite his best intentions. He didn't want to be impressed by Xander, and that was happening far too often for comfort lately.

"You know," Xander began conversationally as he crouched next to the animal, "why Normal Xander was always so hyper don't you?"

"Not really," Spike admitted, "just always figured it was all the sugar you ate."

Xander shook his head. "Nope. Normal Xander kept so much buried, hidden away, it had to come out somehow."

Normal Xander?

"When I was younger, it was anger, anger and hurt. You may -- or you may not -- have noticed that my family life sucks. When I met Buffy, and Willow and I joined in her fight against evil, I replaced my old family with a new one, and the hurt and anger went away -- most of it, anyway. For a while after that, it was fear.

"After the hyena possession, it was all the hyena instincts that got left behind when the spirit was banished, those and the memories of what I'd done. It was the longings to be that free again that, no matter how much I wanted to deny them, always rose at the most inconvenient times.

"Then came the soldier; that halloween night I spent as a green beret was exhilarating. Of course, afterward, I was expected to be the same old Xander."

Spike swallowed, trying to wet his suddenly dry mouth. If his heart beat, he knew damn well it would be pounding about now. Throughout Xander's quiet, unemotional explanation, he'd been drawn closer and closer to understanding the man. So much of what Xander had just said applied to him as well -- not the specifics, obviously, but the rest of it. He'd never realized just how much there was that Xander kept hidden behind his goofy, sarcastic exterior. It was startling to know just how much they really had in common -- more than the boy knew about even, and Spike wondered if he would ever reveal just how he'd started out life.

The slow smile that spread across Xander's face caught Spike's immediate -- and wary -- attention, jerking him out of his thoughts, and had him berating his inattention. The smile was wild, holding very little of Xander's remaining humanity, and Spike unconsciously licked his lips. Eyes locked with his, Xander bent down, bringing his head near the just stirring deer. Nostrils flaring wide, he inhaled the scent of the awakening animal. His eyelids dropped to half-mast as he savored the smell.

Spike quivered, sharing the sentiment. Remembered excitement racing through him, his tastebuds tingled as he re-lived doing the exact same thing with kills of his own. It was intoxicating, that moment before the kill, savoring everything about the life you held in your hands.

Just as the animal jerked, instantly struggling, Xander's head darted down, and he clamped his blunt, human teeth on the thing's throat.

Spike jumped at the sudden movement, his body responding intensely to the incredible scene unfolding in front of him. Rock hard, he watched, anticipation watering his mouth, every single fiber of his being tensing, wanting to join the boy, aching to sink his fangs into hot living flesh.

He whimpered as the heavenly scent of fresh blood hit the air. It didn't matter at this point that it wasn't human. It was hot, fresh, and pumping itself uselessly onto the ground as Xander ripped the deer's throat out.

Spike panted as Xander silently rose, heedless of the blood dripping from the sides of his mouth, over his chin and disappearing from sight below his collar. Frozen, mouth half-open, he watched in helpless need as Xander crawled onto the bed, straddling his legs.

The scent of arousal rolled off Xander, teasing his senses with yet another, tempting, odor. He swallowed, shuddering against the need that raced through him, the fresh blood -- and the man -- so close, yet so far. He held himself absolutely still as Xander leaned forward, stopping when his face was less than an inch from his own. There Xander stayed as Spike fought with himself, the blood staining Xander's mouth taunting him, calling to him. All he had to do was lean forward the tiniest little distance and take it.

Xander was so obviously offering to let him do just that. Spike's lips parted further, his tongue darting out once again to lick his upper lip. There were strings to that offer. He knew that. He could see it in the dancing light of Xander's eyes, in the knowing smirk that just touched the edges of the youth's mouth, in the aroused anticipation that fairly made him tremble.

"Oh, bloody hell!" he growled, darting forward, at last giving in to the incredible desires racing through him. Sucking lightly, he licked the deer blood from Xander's chin, moaning softly as the taste of the blood, laced with the living warmth of Xander, danced across his tastebuds.

Xander remained motionless, inhaling sharply through his nose.

Spike hesitated only the briefest of moments longer, and closed his mouth over Xander's, his tongue carefully lapping up every trace of blood to be found.

Xander's mouth opened the slightest bit, and Spike suddenly found himself the recipient of a mouthful of hot, Xander tasting, deer blood. He swallowed automatically, accepting the erotic offering without thought. Plying his lips across the human's, he teased his tongue inside Xander's mouth, seeking and finding every last trace of blood, learning and reveling in the moist contours of Xander's hot, human mouth.

Xander pulled back suddenly, panting for breath, his eyes dilated with unrestrained lust, and dancing with victory. With eyes now only half open, Xander's tongue slid slowly out from between his parted lips, the pink tip slowly, enticingly, tracing a trail over his upper lip.

A jolt of electric arousal shot straight to Spike's groin at the display, and he leaned forward intent on reclaiming that mouth.

The moment Xander chuckled, Spike realized he'd made every single move. Xander hadn't once made a single attempt to touch him, or to initiate a kiss, yet he'd so very thoroughly succeeded in seducing him completely.

Spike sighed, leaning back against the headboard again.

"Apparently," Xander said quietly, reaching up to trace Spike's mouth with a single, gentle finger, "having girls as my only friends is finally coming in very handy."

Blinking at the odd statement coming out of the blue like that, Spike just had to ask. "What?"

"Listening to all the 'girl talk'," Xander explained, grinning crookedly, "I learned early on that the way to a man's heart was supposedly through his stomach."

Spike chuckled. "It wasn't the blood, Pet." Spike paused, frowned, then began again. "Well, okay, yeah, it was the blood, but not just the blood, ya know? It was the way you went about it." Spike's breath hitched as the picture of Xander bent over the deer flashed through his mind once more. "You'd have turned on a dusted vamp with that routine!"

Xander grinned, and for a moment, Spike saw 'Normal Xander' shine through. "That good, huh?" he asked, his hand coming up to cup the side of Spike's face.

"Oh, yeah," Spike breathed, unconsciously leaning into the touch, "that good."

"Good," Xander said firmly. Eyes never straying from Spike's, Xander slipped his hand behind the vampire's neck. As he gently pulled, he inched forward.

Spike went willingly, his mouth automatically opening under Xander's as it was claimed with a passion-filled kiss. This time, Xander's tongue invaded his mouth, dueling slowly with his own. He moaned low in his throat as Xander's free hand ghosted down his chest to trail lightly over his abdomen. It stopped, resting teasingly above the waistband of his jeans. He bucked without taking his mouth from Xander's, silently demanding the hand continue its path.

Xander pulled back the merest touch, their lips now only barely touching. "More?" he asked, his voice a low, husky whisper.

Spike moaned. He was expected to make decisions now? Instead of replying, he leaned forward, trying to restart the kiss. He growled when Xander matched him inch for inch, maintaining their distance.


"What now?" Spike demanded. Hadn't he made it bloody obvious he wanted to continue?

"You say no, or don't answer me, and it stops here and now. No reprieve."

"Bloody, Wanker! I'm in chains, tied to the bloody bed, and you're asking?!" Spike's eyes narrowed. That wasn't how the game was played!

Xander rolled off the bed, landing gracefully on his feet. "I said, I wasn't going to force you, Spike. And this first time," Xander leered, "I won't even play at it. You want me, you gotta say it -- loud and clear."

Spike's growl was now virtually continuous, his frustration growing by leaps and bounds. The boy wanted him, it should have been obvious to a blind IDIOT that he wanted the boy in return. Why the hell did words have to come into it at all?

"Tell me, Spike," Xander purred, running his splayed hands down his own chest, slowing long enough to circle each clothed nipple before continuing downward.

Spike gasped, the smallest of whimpers escaping as he watched the wanton display.

"Tell me you want me. Tell me you want me to take you."

His traitorous body twitched as pure, unadulterated lust shot through him, his jeans suddenly becoming tighter, even as a small fissure of uncertainty clouded his thoughts. Not since he'd been newly turned, and Angelus had been his god, had he bottomed voluntarily. Until Xander's taunting words, he hadn't thought that far ahead, hadn't really thought through where this would go.

He swallowed convulsively. Did he want this? Hell, yes, I do! Did he want it badly to enough to accept Xander's terms.

"Tick, tock, Spike," Xander said, a single finger clicking back and forth like a taunting metronome.

Fuck! He did! "Fine!" he snapped, all his lust, anger, and yes, fear, poured into that single word. "I want you! Happy?"

"All of it, Spike," Xander demanded, one knee now on the bed. "Say it all."

Spike groaned as, unbelievably, his lust shot up another notch, the fire racing through his body enough to make his eyes drift shut in response. He couldn't believe he was getting this turned on by the mere thought of Xander dominating him. He hadn't--

All thought stopped as Xander lay a hand firmly on his thigh, the warmth of the fingertips, that just missed being where he wanted them to be, seeping through the jeans he no longer wanted to wear as they slowly, teasingly, moved back and forth.

"God, yes!" Spike finally exclaimed, not opening his eyes. He couldn't look at Xander and say what he wanted to hear. "I want you to take me. Do it, Xander! Do . It . Now!"

Part Seven

Xander's moan in response to Spike's demands was more than half growl. Spike's eyes remained glued to Xander as he strolled to the end of the bed, slowly peeling his shirt over his head as he went. He turned, eyes bright, running his hands down the plains of his chest.

Spike rattled the chains in frustration as he watched Xander perform a slow strip, teasing as he took the time to touch each portion of flesh as it was revealed. Spike moaned low in his throat. He couldn't touch himself; he couldn't touch Xander. He couldn't even help remove clothes. The waiting - the chance to 'cool down' -- should have given him time to think, but damned if all this didn't turn the heat just that much higher.

His anticipation growing, Spike watched Xander methodically strip away each piece of clothing. A moan caught low in his throat as Xander, finally divested of his garments, crawled onto the bed, and slowly inched his way up Spike's body. Xander took his time, exploring every part of Spike, his large, hot hands searching, finding, touching everywhere but where Spike most wanted them to be -- hands that while strong enough to do damage, were surprisingly gentle and tender.

Spike couldn't take it. He'd expected -- wanted -- rough, raw, wild shagging. What he was getting was so much more.


Xander chuckled, the sound throaty and strained. "Yes, Spike?" he breathed, panting lightly as he stopped completely, waiting.

"Don't stop!" Spike exclaimed, his own voice a little breathy. "Just fuck me already!" Spike froze, his breath caught in his throat. Had he actually said that?

Xander gasped above him, the grip on his hips tightening. "Pushy, pushy," Xander whispered teasingly, completely ignoring Spike's demands as he resumed his slow torturous climb. But now he bent low, his mouth touching -- caressing, sucking; his tongue darting out to taste. He hummed as he sucked one erect nipple into his mouth, rolling the tiny nub gently between his teeth. A moment later, his tongue darted out, soothing it.

Spike's eyes rolled back, his lids half-closed as Xander sucked and nipped his way to the other side, giving equal time to his other nipple. He fairly snarled when Xander's mouth finally reached his, and their lips met with bruising force, tongues dueling for control of the kiss.

Suddenly Xander pulled back, slipping his hands beneath Spike and yanking him down until he was laying flat on his back.

Spike gasped, but before he could say anything, Xander had reclaimed his mouth, Xander's tongue demanding immediate entry. Spike granted it, his lips parting almost automatically. He was floating in a sea of sensation, Xander's hands working his entire body into one giant erogenous zone, their constant motion seemingly hotwiring every single one of his nerves directly to his groin and his weeping cock.

Xander broke from the kiss, panting, trailing moist breathy kisses across Spike's jaw and down his throat.

Spike threw his head back, giving complete access to that most vulnerable part of himself. "Yesss!" he hissed as Xander deftly unbuttoned his jeans finally freeing him from the confining material. Events blurred a bit for Spike after that, Xander managing to free him of his remaining clothing, all the while never completely losing skin to skin contact.

Spike's skin felt alive, every touch, every sensation heightened. He could feel the slight breeze through the room rustle the sprinkling of hair across his body, the incredible heat radiating from Xander's body, the coarse material of his jeans crumpled around his bound ankle, Xander's hands, Xander's mouth, Xander's tongue -- Xander's incredible tongue doing incredible things to his inner thigh.

Spike's legs parted without thought from him. He wasn't capable of rational thought. He both prayed for and feared the moment Xander actually touched his cock, believing he might actually cum from just that additional stimulation. He felt out of control.

Suddenly everything stopped, and he whimpered, his body crying out for more. He snapped his eyes open, only to find Xander staring at him. He arched off the bed as Xander bent down, the very tip of his tongue darting out to lick across the slit of his cock. "God, YES!" he shouted, electric shots of pure lust radiating out from his groin to his toes, his body now shaking with raw need.

Two hands grabbed firm hold of his hips, pinning him in place. Xander then, leaned forward again, sucking the crown of Spike's cock into his mouth.

Spike let out groan, struggling against the hands that prevented him from moving, wanting nothing more than to thrust into that hot, moist haven. Ever-so-slowly, centimeter by torturous centimeter, he was drawn in, Xander's tongue curling around his cock. Then, abruptly, it too was gone.

"Arrrrrr," he bellowed in frustration, eyes locking angrily onto Xander's.

Xander simply lifted his hand and sucked a single finger into his mouth, lathing it with his tongue.

Spike's eyes widened. Oh! He panted, his hands clamping around the chains as he watched that finger descend. He tensed the instant it touched him, sliding down behind his balls to the puckered opening.

"Shhhh," Xander soothed, not penetrating, just firmly caressing the ring of muscle. "Let go," he encouraged in a hoarse whisper, "Let someone else be in control."

Spike swallowed, forcible relaxing back onto the bed.

"Nothing dangerous here," Xander continued soothingly as he slipped the tip of his finger just inside that first ring.

Nothing dangerous!?Spike thought wildly, moaning as Xander's finger slipped the rest of the way in, now moving slowly inside him.

No, just everything I am! Staring into those lust-dazed, caring eyes, he could so easily lose himself to--

He stiffened, raising his head slightly. "Release one manacle," he said quickly, "let me roll over."

The finger stilled, even as Xander brought his other hand to Spike's cock and began slowly working it from base to tip and back again. "Why?" he asked.

Too much,Spike thought frantically. This was just supposed to be a good shag! Xander will go back to normal and I'll be alone again. I can't do it like this.

"Spike?" Xander asked, and Spike was startled to discover that they were now face-to-face, Xander's body covering his, Xander's hands working soothingly through his hair. The warm weight of the body pressing against his was at once both comforting and, truth be told, a little scary. This Xander had the strength to be an equal. This Xander could actually be strong enough to-- No. This Xander wasn't going to stick around. Spike had been down this road once already -- was still down it in fact. He was not going down it again.

He simply shook his head. He couldn't explain without sounding like a ponce, without humiliating himself further. Xander couldn't possibly understand what it was like to feel loved only be rejected immediately afterward. Spike did. He'd felt that aching void time and time again. He'd felt it until he'd finally lashed out, wanting to hurt the person who'd hurt him more deeply than should have been possible.

"I want to see you, Spike. I want to watch your eyes as you cum with me buried to the hilt inside you."

Spike's eyes widened, and he wanted to deny the request. He wanted to ignore utterly what the words implied. He wanted to demand this change back to the fun shag it really should have stayed. But one look into those soulful eyes and he was lost.

"Let me watch you."

Resisting the urge to close his eyes, Spike nodded once, the movement barely perceptible. He felt like he was giving up all control, and he couldn't believe how terrifying that was. It felt like he was offering himself up on a pedestal, knowing full well that sooner or later that pedestal would come crashing down, leaving him broken once again. How many times could he survive that and remain fixable?

Spike was left feeling vulnerable, and oh so very exposed as Xander's weight disappeared, taking all warmth as he went.


Xander was back in an instant. Positioning himself between Spike's ankles, he held up the object of his search.

Spike took a shaky breath, unneeded though the air itself was, and bent his knees, spreading his legs wide as Xander coated his fingers with the slick he'd retrieved. He moaned again as one finger returned, pumping slowly in and out, the tip finally hooking just right.

Stars exploded behind his eyes. Hell's bells!!he thought. He'd forgotten what that felt like. Almost no time later, a second finger joined the first in easing its way inside, the two scissoring as he relaxed into the intrusion. Soon, he was rising up to meet Xander's thrusting fingers. He faltered briefly, whimpering as Xander's fingers withdrew until only the very tips remained.

"Yessss," Spike groaned as Xander eased a third finger inside him. His eyes drifted shut as he ground his hips upward. "More!"

Xander growled, the sound mutating to a moan as he moved forward instantly.

Despite knowing what came next, Spike whimpered as the fingers withdrew, leaving him feeling empty.

The blunt head of Xander's cock brushed his entrance. Hands braced his hips.

"Open your eyes, Spike," Xander whispered faintly, his voice trembling.

Spike hesitated, then, forcing his heavy eyelids up, he locked gazes with Xander.

Holding himself still for only a moment longer, Xander slipped only the head of this cock in. "God, Spike! So tight, so cool," he moaned, easing the rest of the way in a single smooth thrust.

Spike tried to move.

"GAhhh!" Xander exclaimed, clamping his hands tightly around Spike's hips. "Don't move," he demanded. Several slow, deep breaths later, Xander continued. "You move now, and it's going to be over before it starts."

Bowing forward, Xander rested his forehead against Spike's chest. "Didn't realize--" Xander mumbled incoherently. "Never thought-- So . . . different."

Spike's chest tightened, and his eyes stung, his grip on the chains becoming painfully tight. "Different good?" he asked. "Or different bad?"

"Good," Xander replied immediately and the bands constricting Spike's chest released. "So good," he continued, raising up, and pulling back until he barely remained inside Spike. On that threshold, he paused for a split second before plunging himself back in to the hilt, trying to angle just right.

Slowly, steadily, he withdrew and entered, each time carefully keeping his gaze locked on Spike's, each entry made at a slightly different angle.

Spike gasped as the head of Xander's cock slid across his prostate, once again sending electric shocks through his body. The firey tension curling deep in his gut, built and built, until he thought it couldn't build anymore as Xander managed to hit his prostate with almost every thrust -- and then it built some more.

Moaning almost continuously now, Spike clenched the chains spasmodically. "God, Pet, gotta cum, gotta cum," he muttered feverishly, riding out the crest he'd risen to but couldn't seem to top. "Pleeeaase," he begged, the words coming without his volition.

With a startled shout, Xander's movements quickened, his thrusts becoming harder, deeper.

Beneath him, Spike met him thrust for thrust, driving himself up onto the hot cock buried inside him.

"Spi-ike!" Xander groaned, shaking as his hot seed flooded the vampire.

That was just enough to send Spike over the edge, and he screamed out Xander's name as pulse after pulse of his orgasm spread through his body. He jerked as each spurt of the pearly white fluid shot out over his chest, leaving him drained, and utterly sated. As he lay there limp, Xander panting above him, supported on trembling arms, even Spike's toes tingled.

Dropping his head, finally breaking eye contact, Xander sighed a shaky sigh. "I knew it."

"Knew what?" Spike asked, instantly wary.

"That you'd look incredible as you came," Xander replied wickedly, raising his head just high enough to leer at Spike through his eyelashes.

Spike gaped at the man barely supporting himself about him. A shocking shyness snuck up on him, stealing its way through him, and he averted his gaze away from that knowing stare. He almost jerked his head back a moment later as it hit him just how submissive that gesture had been, but realized instantly it was too late. The impression had already been made.

Xander shifted, carefully not disconnecting them, and his hand reached up gently turning Spike back to face him.

Spike inhaled deeply at the tender, caring smile that met his sight. His eyes flickered upward to see the same emotions lighting the brown eyes boring into his, those and something more. It took him a moment to identify what it was. Shock coursed through him as he did. He swallowed convulsively at the possessiveness he saw there. 'Mine,' that look said clearly.

Part of him reveled in it, ignoring the voice of reason that said it would end all too soon. That part of him longed simply to belong once more. He moaned at the first gentle brush of Xander's mouth across his.

"It'll be okay," Xander whispered against his lips, "I promise."

Spike shook his head in denial. He knew it wouldn't. It never was.

"Sleep," Xander whispered as he eased back, gasping as he did so. Reaching over to the table, he grabbed the cuff key and swiftly unlocked the two wrist manacles, freeing Spike's arms.

A moment later found the two of them curled together, Xander spooned behind Spike, one arm under the vampire, one arm thrown protectively over. The two were fast asleep.

Part Eight

Spike woke swiftly, jumping directly to full awareness with no stop for the gentle hazy rise through the layers of sleep. The first thought that popped into his mind was,I had sex with Xander Harris! In the cold, hard reality of the next day, it was difficult to believe.

Not bothering to open his eyes, Spike took stock of his situation. He was hungry; there was nothing unusual in that. The room itself was permeated with the overpower scent of sex -- and he was alone.

Well, that's familiar, too, innit!he thought sourly, slowly opening his eyes and raising himself up on his elbows. That was one thing that Harmony got points for. In those precious few waking moments -- before she woke too -- he had enjoyed lying still, quietly cuddling against her. Of course, at the time, he hadn't properly appreciated it. He hadn't know just how sorely lacking it would be in the future.

A lesson in that, somewhere,Spike thought, then shook his head. Right now, he had plans to foil. If Xander thought that Spike was an easy mark, well, he just had another thing coming. Restrained or not, Spike had a trick or two up his sleeve. The boy wouldn't be taking him by surprise this time.

Frowning, Spike threw his covers off, glaring at the ankle restraint hidden beneath his jeans. Not having much choice in the matter, he quickly redressed and hopped out of the bed -- firmly repressing the events that had led to his jeans being wound around his bound ankle in the first place.

He wasn't in the mood to examine what had happened. It was sex, so what.

I had sex with Xander Harris! He groaned. Give me a break, and shut the hell up!he told himself, but couldn't quite shake the shock of the last night's events. It wasn't that he was all that concerned about what had happened; sex was sex -- but it had been with Xander! He shivered briefly as he unwillingly remembered being the focus of Xander's undivided exploration attentions, his thoughts immediately shying away from how it had made him feel.

In objective retrospect, Spike could see where Xander's touches had gone from tentative and a little clumsy, to confident and deft as the boy became more and more sure of himself -- and Spike admitted ruefully, his reactions. And did Harris catch on fast, learning quickly what he liked and what he didn't! A shiver of arousal slithered across the base of his spine, stiffening him.

"Okay! We're not going there again, so you can just forget it!" Xander already had enough reason to stake him after this was over; he didn't need to give him more. "Not even supposed to be thinking about it," he berated himself, swiftly crouching down to inspect the manacle around his ankle.

If nothing else, it gave something else to concentrate on. Thing was, he'd had them specially made, and he seriously doubted even he could get out of them. Of course, when he'd got them, he hadn't exactly planned on being the one in them.

He sighed. Hindsight 20/20, and all that.

Several moments later, he jumped up in exasperation. It was useless tugging at the damn thing. It was solid, demon construction, and wasn't coming loose for nothing. For the moment, he was forced to admit that he was well and truly caught. Absently worrying his thumbnail as he thought; Spike paced back and forth restlessly, the length of the chain dictating his path. His attention, however; kept straying back to the bed.

"One track mind, ya git!" he muttered angrily. "Get your mind where it needs to be!"

And where's that? On how wonderful last night felt?

Spike ruthless ignored that thought, frowning. What he needed to do, he corrected, was just make sure he didn't give in again. After this was over, Harris would give him credit for that . . . wouldn't he? Spike sighed again. Who cares? If the whelp reacted badly--


If the whelp reacted really badly, Spike could always make himself scarce until he calmed down. Yeah, that was the ticket. Spike nodded firmly, the decision made, and since he was pretty sure Xander had thrown all the surprises he was going to, it would be easy to resist further temptations.


Xander licked his lips, his anticipation building as he once again tested the weight of the dart gun in his hands. He'd snitched it from the Magic Box, making sure to get there well before Anya usually arrived. He really hadn't wanted to run into her right now. He suspected she -- out of all of them -- would know instantly something was different about him. Not wanting to dwell on what would have happened if she had been there, Xander returned his attention to his surroundings and the gun. They hadn't needed it for Oz in ages, but no one had bothered to get rid of it -- for which he was now very grateful.

Xander sighed as he scented the wind again. He could smell his prey, but he couldn't seem to get any closer. He'd been at this for three hours already, and he hadn't made any headway. It was beginning to get irritating!

He wanted to surprise Spike -- though he was pretty sure he'd done that already. He chuckled. He would never forget the look on Spike's face when he'd straddled the vampire, blood dripping down his chin. He'd never before seen such raw, aching need in his entire life. And while he knew damn well most of the attraction had been the blood, it had felt like he'd been the center of Spike's world, the most coveted, precious thing in existence.

It had felt good, and he wanted to feel it again.

He was going to feel it again, he vowed. First, however, Spike deserved a treat, and stale pig's blood just wouldn't cut it. Xander grinned widely. He knew Spike had to be virtually starving. The vampire hadn't had anything to eat last night beyond the mouthful Xander had give him, and there hadn't been anything there at the crypt to give him this evening.

Xander winced. The waste of most of the deer bothered Xander on several levels, but he pushed it aside. It had been done for a greater cause.

Yeah,he thought, his grin growing, getting into Spike's -- as he would say -- knickers.

Moving deeper into the woods, Xander frowned, not really sure why he'd chosen Spike -- though he did know why he had bypassed Buffy this time. Normal Xander saw her through rose tinted glasses. It wasn't that he didn't see her shortcomings; he just overlooked them. He was her friend; that's what friends did. And while Buffy was strong, an equal, Free Xander wanted someone more giving, someone not afraid to let themselves go, someone who'd give everything for someone they cared about -- like he did.

He snorted, even as he kept his senses trained. Normal Xander wouldn't have looked twice at Spike given that definition -- even if he had managed to look past his gender, and of course, the whole vampire thing -- but Free Xander knew better. He'd figured several things out during this early evening hunt.

Unlike Normal Xander, he saw the blond vampire without the haze of hate and bigotry. He could look back on this past year and see what Normal Xander had missed in his misplaced outrage. He could see how Spike had given of himself over and over again -- only to be rejected almost each and every time.

It hadn't all been selfless, Xander knew that too. Spike was Spike, after all. What Xander hadn't been able figure out at first, was why Spike had helped them so much before he'd fallen for Buffy. Sure, he couldn't function as he had before the chip. His world had been turned upside down, and as would anyone who suddenly found themselves in Spike's position, he'd been lost and afraid.

Xander began moving more quickly, the scent of his prey getting stronger and stronger now, the chase not interrupting his musings -- or vice versa.

Turning to the good guys had been an act of desperation for Spike, Xander knew, one that had most likely been a last resort. He had immediately understood that. It was the coming back later, before the Buffy lovin started, that he'd had trouble with. He'd figured Angel had survived just fine without biting anyone, why couldn't -- or more to the point, hadn't -- Spike?

It was the answer to that nagging question that had been the final piece to the puzzle, and was why -- even without previous understanding -- he'd chosen Spike. The vampire had kept coming back to them, because they were familiar and he knew what to expect from them. He had an innate need to belong, to not be alone that was easy to see for any idiot who chose to actually look, and that Xander could understand all too well.

A low growl to his left jerked Xander out of his thoughts and fully back onto the hunt. His prey was near, and trying to turn the tables. He turned slowly, waiting. Instincts urged him to throw aside the man-made gun and take his prey with his hands and teeth.

Common sense told him it wasn't a good idea. He was strong, he was quick, but experienced he wasn't. For now, he'd keep every advantage he could get his hands on. Besides, if it came down to a one on one, animal-to-animal fight, he'd fight to kill, and he wanted the wolf alive.

Xander set himself, gun at the ready, waiting for the animal's charge. He didn't have to wait long, and as the grey streak burst from the trees Xander pulled the trigger. The gun bucked lightly in his hands, and the nearly simultaneous, startled yelp from the magnificent animal told him he'd hit true.

Wary, but grinning, he kept the gun raised as he inched forward. According to Willow, it had worked almost instantly on Oz, but he wasn't taking any chances. When he reached the wolf, and a nudge with his booted foot gained no response, Xander slung the gun over his shoulder and bent to pick up the sleeping animal.

Moments later he was on his way back to the crypt.

Part Nine

Spike automatically tensed the moment he heard Xander return. A bored expression carefully fixed in place, Spike leaned casually against the bedpost, waiting. He may not have been able to find his shoes, or his shirt, but he could still make an impression. He couldn't control the low tingle that spread through his gut as he listened to Xander's footsteps echo above his head, however, and he groaned inwardly at his body's betrayal. Refusing to let his unwanted arousal change his expression, Spike waited, the picture of bored patience.

Spike wasn't bored -- far from it. He had been, though; right up until the moment Xander had returned. He frowned as Xander's progress halted at the trapdoor.

"Hey, Spike!"

"What?" he asked irritably, wondering why the hell the bloody git hadn't just waited the twenty seconds it would have taken to get down. It was inconsiderate of him to waste the whole scene Spike had spent so much time working on. It was . . . irritating.

"Does different blood taste differently?"

Spike rolled his eyes. Stupid question! Haven't I spent enough time bitching about pig's blood? "Of course it does, ya pillock. Pig's blood is bloody disgusting." Spike paused, rerunning his last sentence through his mind. "No pun intended."

From the floor above him, Xander chuckled. "Well, yeah, that I know. What I meant was, does different animal blood taste differently?"

Spike blinked. He'd never thought about it before. "I . . . suppose it might," he admitted tentatively. "Haven't exactly tried a wide variety."

"Well, I was thinking--"

"Why don't you come down here, before you continue that. You can bore me with your theories just as well that way."

Xander laughed, the sound full and echoing. "Naughty, naughty, Spike. Keep that up, and I'll take away your treat."

Even as he frowned, outraged at Xander's effrontery, a small frisson of pleasure bloomed inside Spike. A prezzie? He briefly debated with himself over whether he'd get more satisfaction out of the, 'sod off,' that was hovering on his lips, or finding out what Xander had brought him. It could be interesting, after all.

The decision was taken out of his hands, however; he took just a little too long and Xander took his silence as compliance.

"That's better," he said into the silence. "Now, as I started to say; I was thinking; human blood seems to taste a lot better to you than pig, and humans -- even if they do eat veggies -- are basically predators."

After a fashion,Spike thought, snorting.

"I wondered if that's what makes the big difference."

"What makes the difference is humans are what we're supposed to eat!" Spike snapped, irritated now. "It's like comparing Prime Rib to gruel!"

"Hmmm, okay," Xander replied with yet another chuckle. "I guess that means you don't want anything to do with what I brought, then."

"I didn't say that," Spike denied, before he could remember he was supposed to be bored. He mentally whacked himself, rolling his eyes.

"Thought you might say that."

Spike growled quietly. Wanker! "So, what is it?" he asked, glad when his tone came out as bored as he wanted it to.

"Dinner!" Xander replied, dropping through the trap door, landing easily on his feet despite his burden.

He shouldn't be able to do that,Spike thought absently, surprised by the boy's apparent prowess. It was like last night with the unexpected strength, he thought; though, most of his attention was centered on the live wolf Xander was busy carrying the short distance across the room.

"I know you can't bite humans," Xander said matter-of-factly as he laid the wolf at Spike's feet, "but can you bite animals? Have you tried?"

Spike shook his head numbly, until he realized Xander wouldn't know which question he was answering. "I don't know. I've never tried."

"Why not? I mean, there are animals out there that would be a hell of a lot more of a challenge to hunt than the average human. Might be fun." He shrugged, stepping back. "I know it was for me."

Spike blinked. He really liked the way this Xander thought. No, you don't, git! You want normal Xander back, so you can get back to your normal life -- well, unlife. Spike tried to believe it, but somehow the thought rang hollow. This was a Xander that was fun. This was a Xander that-- NO! This Xander won't be sticking around, so don't even think it!

"Could be," he allowed.

"So, are you going to try, or do I kill it before it wakes up? I only gave it a half-dose, so it shouldn't be out long."

Spike weighed the pros and cons in his head as he warily watched the sleeping animal. Even now, it's heart beat was slowly speeding up. If he could bite it, it would open a whole new vista for him. Thoughts of hunting tigers with just his wits and fangs flit through his mind. That would be almost as exciting as fighting demons -- and way better tasting. Nothing tasted worse than the average demon -- excepting vampires, of course. Vampires, Sires especially, tasted even better than humans.

Once again, the conscious decision was taken out of his hands as the wolf stirred, struggling to its feet. Instinct took over. Spike darted forward, wrenching the beast's head to the side, and -- mentally preparing himself for the zap from hell -- shifted, sinking his fangs into the furry throat.

He sighed as the first mouthful of the hot, wild blood poured into his mouth. Swallowing the liquid in hungry gulps, Spike growled against the neck. He felt like a vampire again! Jerking his head, widening the wounds as the blood began to slow, Spike forced his fangs further inside. This was heaven. He was sure of it. It may not be human, but he had his bite back!

And it was Xander who gave it back, came the unbidden thought.

Tears of joy, mixed equally with a sadness he didn't fully understand, sprang into his eyes, only to fall unheeded down his cheeks. Long after the blood ceased to flow, and he'd retracted his fangs, Spike left his head buried in the animal's neck. He'd already given the boy enough ammunition for a lifetime of humiliation, he didn't have to give him this, also.

He stiffened as he felt Xander's hands drop gently to his shoulders, kneading slowly. He relaxed into the deft touch, the warm fingers digging into each knot they found in his shoulders. Not moving, Spike ignored the other reaction he had to the touch that seemed so caring.

Supposed to resist stuff like this, he thought half-heartedly, not really intending on stopping it. It simply felt too good. Muscles that had been knotted for so long that they predated recent memory began to relax, and Spike wilted against the cooling body of the wolf. All his muscles had been wrapped up in knots for so long, he'd forgotten what it felt like to be completely relaxed.

Last night came close.

He ignored the voice again. He was getting good at it -- especially since it kept telling him stuff he didn't want to hear.

"Better?" Xander asked quietly, close enough to Spike's ear that Spike could feel the human's hot breath across his skin.

Spike shivered, then nodded. He didn't trust his voice enough to reply.

"Good," Xander whispered, dropping his mouth to Spike's shoulder.

Spike groaned as Xander began gently sucking.

Time to stop him,Spike thought, gasping and arching into the mouth as Xander grazed his teeth across the temporary mark Spike was sure Xander had left behind. Lightly nipping his way across Spike's shoulder and up the side of his neck, Xander teased with his teeth, and soothed with his tongue -- all the while breathing hot, moist air across the sensitive flesh.

Xander's mouth continued working its magic as his hands slid down Spike's sides, and Spike shivered under the touch. Fuck it!he thought, he was already going to have to disappear after this was over, may as well be condemned for the whole nine yards. This time, Xander would learn at the hands of a true master.

Spinning around suddenly, catching Xander by surprise, Spike swooped down and claimed his mouth in a nearly bruising kiss. A surprised, 'oh,' parted the lips beneath his and Spike took full advantage, his tongue diving inside to explore. It was a full three of Xander's heartbeats before he responded. When he did, Spike was shocked at the sheer ferocity of it.

Yes!he crowed. Leaning forward, he pressed Xander backward. Intent on the feelings running through his body, and his ultimate goal, Spike missed the moment that Xander's response changed. He found himself flat on his back before he realized what was happening.

Not this time!he thought, arching up and flipping Xander back over. He grinned down into Xander's lust-dazed eyes, but jerked back just the tiniest bit when Xander simply grinned impishly back at him. A second later the brat copied to perfection Spike's last maneuver.

"Bloody hell!" This was getting ridiculous. As fun as a pre-shag tussle could be, Spike wanted to get to the main event. He switched tactics, thinking to play on Xander's sense of fair play. "My turn," he whispered. Smirking at the man above him, Spike canted his hips upward, pressing his erect cock against the matching one on Xander.

Eyes bright, tongue darting out to lick his lips, Xander grinned, leaning into Spike. Whispering softly into Spike's ear, he chuckled. "Not gonna happen, Spike."

"Get off me, tosser!" Spike shouted angrily, shoving upward with all his strength. All the same, he was a touch surprised when Xander went easily, using the momentum of Spike's push to roll easily up onto his feet. Wishing for the time when that shove would have sent Xander flying into a wall, Spike scrambled to his feet, and for the first time since before his turning, felt awkward in comparison to someone else.

Meeting Spike's gaze with an amused one of his own, Xander shrugged. "Okay by me. We can just move on to the next event in tonight's festivities.

Frowning, Spike wasn't sure whether to believe that Xander was going to give up that easily. Spike wouldn't have.

"Told you before, Spike, I won't force you." He grinned then, his eyelids dropping to hide half his eyes, just before he licked his upper lip slowly. "Until you want me to, that is."

"When hell freezes over, wanker!"

Again Xander shrugged, clearly not caring -- either that or not believing him. It was, in a word, infuriating!

At a seeming impasse they eyed each other, Spike wary, and Xander -- to Spike's disgust -- amused.

"You ready?" Xander asked.

"I'm ready for whatever you've got planned," Spike retorted.

"You're sure?" Xander checked, his grin widening.

Spike rolled his eyes. "Oh, get over yourself, and get to it!" he snapped. Patience had never been his strong suit, and right now, he was at the end of what little he had -- past it, actually. The curves Xander kept throwing his way had him off balance and unsure of himself. He didn't like it, and he just wanted to get this -- whatever this was -- over with.

"Get on the bed."

"EXCUSE me?!" Spike exclaimed, outrage and amusement equally mixed racing through him.

"I said," Xander repeated slowly, "get . On . The . Bed."

"Fuck no!"

The grin he got in return for his exclamation threw Spike, and before he even thought about it, he stepped back a half step. Xander had clearly lost it. He'd finally rounded the bend and entered Dru's territory.

"Are you challenging my authority?"

"Your authority?" Spike asked incredulously. "Fuck, yeah, I am!" He couldn't believe it. One time -- one time -- he'd allowed Xander to top him, and now the boy had delusions of grandeur.

Allowed? I seem to recall there being some begging in there, came the ever present voice of that which shouldn't ever be mentioned.

"Good," Xander replied, dropping into a credible fighting stance that once again surprised Spike -- he really needed to quit underestimating this Xander. "This is going to be fun."

Chapter Ten

Manic glee filled Xander as he and Spike watched each other warily. He was on the cold cement floor, out of breath, and loving every second of it. Neither one of them had managed the upper hand in the first go round, nor any of the succeeding ones -- though Xander was pretty sure he was more worn out by the exchanges than Spike. The simple fact that Spike was obviously considering him a serious threat was beyond incredible, but it was more than that, really. In fact, it was fantastic. It was a rush beyond all other rushes. Now, he just had to find out if he could beat Spike. He knew normal humans -- trained of course -- could beat fledges, but even Buffy had trouble with Spike. This was a chance of a lifetime, one that would probably never happen again, and he was going to make the most of it.

Of course, he wasn't going to be 'fair', and release Spike. The advantage of surprise may be what got that manacle on, but by God, he put it there and it was staying. It wasn't really hampering the vampire much, anyway. Spike seemed fully able to work around the limitations it placed on him. Xander had noticed something during their bouts, however; and he was pretty sure he could take advantage of it. Spike had been good, very good, at keeping the chain out of the way -- of both of them. Sometimes it almost seemed as if it were an extension of the vampire's body.

Occasionally, though; just twice in fact, that chain had come within reach of Xander. Both times, if he'd realized it soon enough, he could have used it to his advantage. The trick was going to be getting Spike in the same position a third time -- without seeming to be trying -- and be ready.

Xander rose slowly, keeping an eye on Spike the whole time. He grinned when Spike stood also, the vampire on his feet and ready before Xander was even halfway up. It made Xander feel . . . dangerous. Trying not to telegraph his moves, Xander faked a lunge left, charging right. He wasn't surprised when -- again -- Spike seemed to anticipate his moves, and the two of them tumbled to the floor, both strong-arming to retain -- or regain -- the top position. He didn't like it, but it was something that had happened time and time again already.

Of course, this round he hadn't really expected to surprise Spike, he'd made the exact same move he had the last two times. He'd already discovered that he couldn't fake the vampire out, so he was going to try something different. Fortunately, it seemed Spike was having the same difficulty, and therein lay the difference from encounters they had before the last two days. They were on a level playing field -- well, more level.

Spike's elbow rammed into his gut, and gasping for blocked breath, Xander rolled away. He grinned, though; his parting shot -- a knee ground into Spike's thigh -- hadn't left the vampire feeling much more chipper than he was. Of course, the shot from the chip couldn't have helped the vampire's condition either.

"Bloody hell, Harris, what's this going to prove? You're not going to get the better of me. I've got a century of fighting experience. You don't."

Xander chuckled through the easing pain in his gut. "I don't exactly see you 'getting the better of me' with all that experience," he retorted. And does that feel good? Can we say yes!

Spike frowned, glaring at him.

Xander almost giggled at the indignation clear in the vampire's expression. The blond obviously wanted to retort, but couldn't find a comeback good enough. Ah, well. Time to end this. He'd had his fun, and found he still couldn't take Spike in a strength for strength match -- of course, Spike's experience was a huge factor there, so he wasn't exactly mortified by the discovery. As he rolled to his feet once again, Xander wondered, just how badly he'd be getting trounced if Spike was actually up to full strength -- which he was fairly certain the vampire wasn't.

Xander started this round with the exact same move he had the last three. He almost grinned at Spike's disgusted expression. This time, though; he planned a twist. He faked left and dodged right, only to spin back left again -- risking his back to Spike as he circled behind the vampire -- Xander was euphoric when it actually worked. For once, the underestimating of the Xandman was coming in handy. He was sure, though, that the only reason it had worked was because Spike thought he was 'predictable', wouldn't try something different.

He backed up rapidly as Spike almost immediately reversed himself, and was once again facing Xander. Come on,Xander thought. Just a little closer. NO! Don't look at the chain! Gaze firmly locked on the now enraged vampire in front of him, Xander prayed no telltale flicker of his eyes or body gave away his true objective. Spike just had to step close enough. Xander needed a little more slack in the chain to carry this off.

He laughed at himself -- assuming Spike didn't catch on too quickly. That was really the key. If he didn't do it quickly enough, he was toast, and would be trapped by his own trap.

"Give it up, Harris," Spike said as he stalked forward. "You'll only exhaust yourself . . . and leave me laughing."

Gritting his teeth, Xander dove; not for Spike, but for the length of chain curled on the floor. Mentally crowing as he actually came back up to his feet after the dive-roll -- chain both in hand and wrapped around one ankle -- Xander didn't give himself -- and hopefully Spike -- any time to think. He leapt forward, using the chain much as he would a lasso. Flipping the upper length around one of Spike's wrists, he yanked, and at the same moment, kicked back with his trapped foot.

He almost giggled as Spike went down -- hard -- his head hitting the cement floor. He winced at that, though. That had to hurt, but he didn't let his sympathy slow him down. He did hope that Spike would be slowed for bit from the blow. It would certainly help. Freeing his foot, Xander quickly strode forward, but only managed one additional wind of the chain around Spike's wrist before the vampire was actively fighting him off.

Damn! Just a second longer!

"I don't think so, Wanker!" Spike exclaimed.

The blow from Spike's free hand caught Xander completely by surprise, and sent him flying off the semi-prone blond. He didn't know how, because he was literally seeing stars, but he'd managed to retain his hold on the portion of chain caught around Spike's wrist. Of course, if Spike's yelp was any indicator, the blow had hurt the vampire far more than it had Xander, and right now, Xander was so not above taking advantage of that.

Ignoring the pain pulsing on top of his cheekbone -- he'd have a bruise come morning for sure -- Xander scrambled toward Spike, finally --YES!-- managing to get the chain around both of the vampire's wrists. Now he just had to keep his position. Easier said than done, he knew. Spike wasn't going to just lay still simply because of this.

"Think you've got the better of me, do you?" Spike asked, his expression an odd mixture between smirking superiority and confusion. It was almost as if the vampire couldn't figure out how he'd managed to get in the fix he was in.

Of course,Xander thought, almost laughing,that's probably pretty close to the truth.

"Nope," Xander replied honestly, shaking his head. "If getting you tied up was enough to best you, you wouldn't be as dangerous as you are."

Spike reared back in outright surprise.

Now, how'd he do that laying on the floor?

"Well, yeah, of course. Glad you realize that."

Xander waited. He may have surprised Spike with his admission, but he wasn't deluded into thinking Spike was done yet -- and he was right.

Spike bucked violently just as Xander made his muscles relax. Having expected it, Xander was ready for him. He immediately clutched the chain tighter, and spread his legs to lower his center of balance. He was determined to make this the final showdown. If he didn't manage it this time, he would have to find another way. Spike had been half-right earlier. This was exhausting, and he didn't have the energy to keep it up much longer. Spike, weakened and chained, was still a formidable opponent.

Xander winced as his knee impacted with the hard cement. He now had an acute sympathy with Spike's head. Simply holding on, and twisting to make sure he didn't end up with his back to the floor -- again -- Xander wondered if telling Spike he was a better ride than the deer would help, or just be suicidal. In the end he decided silence, in this case, was the better part of valor.

"Bloody hell, Harris! You're bloody hard to get off!"

Spike frowned and Xander smirked, chuckling as the vampire's expression turned sour, and he rolled his eyes.

"Perhaps that wasn't the best phrasing I could have chosen," Spike admitted.

"You do that a lot, don't you?" Xander asked, still smiling. I'm still on top! Yay me!

"So," Spike said, lifting his bound hands, ignoring Xander's comment completely, "what are you going to do now? I'm here, you're there. The minute you get up, I'm free."

"You ready to do as you're told?" As if!Xander thought to himself.

"Have you gone daft?" Spike asked incredulously, looking as if he thought Xander had done just that.

"Thought you might say something like that." Xander's eyes narrowed as he considered his options -- limited though they were. Spike was right. If he didn't handle this carefully, Spike was free as soon as Xander stood up. Maybe even if he did handle it carefully. Spike was Spike, after all.

"Find yourself at something of an impasse, hey, Harris?" Spike asked, his smirk firmly twisting the corners of his mouth upward, and lilting his words.

"Yes, actually," Xander admitted. What the hell, it couldn't hurt. "Got any ideas on getting out of it, since you don't seem inclined to be an obedient vampire?"

"Harris, getting me . . . 'obedient' as you so quaintly put it, is a lost cause. I've never been obedient. Even back when there was someone with the right to try and tell me what to do." Spike's smirk turned to a glare as he continued, his tone darkening. "Which you don't."


Spike shook his head, rolling his eyes. "You don't have the knackers to even begin, Harris, just let me go, and we'll call it even. You did help me out of a fix after all."

"Don't have the 'knackers'?" Xander questioned evenly, the tone difficult to maintain with his jaw clenched so tightly his teeth hurt.

"Oh, don't go getting your knickers in a twist," Spike answered, placating. "Even Angelus couldn't do it."

Narrowing his eyes, Xander cocked his head, staring at the vampire temporarily trapped beneath him. "You know something I learned from both you and Buffy?"

"No," Spike replied warily, his entire body stiffening. "What's that?"

Xander grinned, leaning forward slightly. "To use any, and every, weapon at my disposal."

Spike blinked. "Well, like you all say, 'Duh'."

"Glad you agree," Xander said, grabbing the extra dart tube he'd stuffed into his back pocket.

"What's that?"

"Oh, nothing much," Xander replied, upending the tube and letting the dart fall out. He just hoped it really would work without the gun. Giles had said they would, he'd made sure of that when they'd first had to keep Oz under control during the full moon.

Spike's eyes widened as the dart was revealed. "You bloody wanker!" he shouted, renewing his struggle for freedom. "You are not using that . . . on . . . m-e."

Xander grinned. "I'm not, huh?" he asked the comatose vampire, pulling the dart out of Spike's neck. "Sure looks like I already did." He snickered, standing and carefully untangling the chains as he scanned the underground room. It didn't take him long to realize the best place was still the bed -- despite the fact that Spike had half-destroyed the headboard in his escape attempt.

He frowned, swiftly crossing the room and closely inspecting the damage.

"Well, that's just not good enough," Xander said softly. He supposed they'd just have to go somewhere else; the problem was, where? He frowned, the idea growing on him. Taking Spike out of his 'territory' would work to Xander's advantage quite nicely.

He very briefly considered his apartment, wondering whether Spike's pride would keep the vampire quiet enough not to alert Xander's nosy neighbors. They were used to him and his friends coming and going at odd hours, looking and smelling like they'd decided to swim in the sewers -- and, of course, Anya had never exactly been a church mouse when it came to sex. They were used to sudden screaming too. He shook his head. No, it was too risky. If even one neighbor decided to check 'things' out, it would be all over. They might be used to it, but that didn't mean they wouldn't investigate.

Damn! There had to be some place, maybe a place he hadn't been to in years. He grinned. Yes, that would do just nicely.

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