Warnings: Hyena!Xander, Dominance battle, Slash
beta'ed by Velvet Virago

































Part One
I remembered waking up and thinking I was in a hospital, but the bed I was laying on was more than even hospital uncomfortable, it was prison cell uncomfortable. Not that I knew anything about prison cells, except of course of a couple nights in the brig for punching a superior…that was straight from my soldier memories. Then the two lab coats came. “The demonic traits exhibit atypically blah blah blah,” offered Dr. Pencil Neck.

“We had thought to bypass examining this target, believing him to be unaffected by aberrant genes yadda yadda,” replied Dr. Too Many Ho-Ho’s

It took me a while to remember, to overcome the effects of the tranquilizer dart, to figure out what I’d been doing that could have attracted the attention of the Initiative. Luckily, I had the time. Hours strapped to a table and now days sitting in a cell staring at the same four walls, at least when they weren’t poking, prodding, sticking, pulling, or burning me. Oh yeah, I remembered and made my little mental hit list. People in white were at the top followed by Riley and then Spike.

Sitting in the white room watching the white coated scientists discuss me as if I were nothing more than an animal to be dissected, I just couldn’t miss the irony. That’s right, irony. Everyone thought I slept through class, and maybe I did my time desk-drooling with the best of them, but I occasionally listened. Irony: when one takes an action and then gets the opposite of what one intends or expects. Woo Hoo—2 points for the Giles impression.

Yep, irony. I still remembered the night in the hyena house, the demon being pulled from my body, the sight of Willow with that painted geek holding a knife to her throat trying to prove his worthiness to carry the hyena spirit. Dr. Nutso thought he could attract the demonic hyena spirit by committing violence. Instead, the sight of my Willow in danger had made me rage and feel such a desire to kill the bastard that the hyena had been sucked right back into me.

And Buffy. Sweet girl, not always the brightest. She’d killed Dr. Nutso thinking to save us all. Instead, by the time I figured out that the laughing barks weren’t memories, the one human who would have taken the spirit off my hands had already passed through various digestive tracts on the way to rejoining the natural world in the form of hyena poo.

And then the hyena itself. It thought it was getting some blood-thirsty fighter who would feed its appetite. Instead it got stuck in the Zeppo, the loser, the “would you like that pizza to go ma’am” moron. And without a pack to back it, encourage it, call it up, it just cowered in a corner of my mind popping up at inconvenient times.

Of course, the scientists were discussing their own form of irony out there on the other side of security glass where people were allowed simple things like clothes. Silly me, I thought gym class with Larry had provided enough humiliation in my life, but no, the universe had to stick me in a cage naked as fully dressed soldiers marched by. Okay, the soldiers did the actual sticking, but the universe in general had never gone out of its way to help me in any way, shape or form.

Truthfully I’d only partially listened. The first day I clung to every word like a lifeline, but I’d discovered that understanding what they planned for the day’s testing just made things worse, so I tended to create my own little imaginary dramas. Right now I had just finished a dialogue where Dr. Pimples confesses his love for Dr. Pencil Neck right before Asshole Riley walks in on them making out.

I was doing a pretty good job of amusing myself until I heard Willow’s name. Well, Willow’s and Tara’s actually. Riley with his famous reports had told them that the girls were witches and were heading out for a coven retreat. That had the scientists getting all steamy in the underpants, and ew, really need a new metaphor for that. There would be no steamy underpants around his girls, unless they were mine. And my underpants hadn’t seriously steamed for anyone since Faith. Well, sort of. Anya certainly got the equipment moving even if the lust didn’t extend beyond my cock. Anyway, the Initiative thought to grab the girls so that it would take Buffy a week or so to notice them gone.

I tried not to make a face at that news. Damn this electrified cage that kept me from ripping their heads off. Usually I frown on the whole violence thing, but a couple of days of electroshock, starvation, experiments, and nakedness left me feeling a little grouchy. Damn scientists who thought they could diagram and count and measure everything. They wanted to get my Willow and her Tara and cut them apart to measure their magic, maybe force them to work for the Initiative or maybe just kill them because the scientists are all cowards down deep. And damn vampires in general, and Spike in specific. My capture was his fault. Why did Buffy always ask me to patrol with Spike? Most of the time I blamed this whole mess on the Initiative, but when I got bored, Spike and Buffy took their fair share of the blame too.

Yep, damn Buffy with her “Please Xander, you don’t know how hard it is to patrol with both Riley and Spike. Just go with the Bleached Wonder and remind him that if he does anything he doesn’t get paid and he’ll have Mr. Pointy to deal with.”

And damn Spike. When the Initiative soldiers had shown up, all I had to do was play it cool. Yeah, Spike would get caught, but I’d faked hateful for so long it should have been second nature. Fangless, Impotent One, Willie Wanna Bite, I had the names down. I should have been able to fling off an insult and walk away, or run away and get Buffy. That would have been the smart move, but no one ever accused me of being smart. Well, this teacher in the third grade did once, but I proved him wrong by sticking chalk up my nose.

Anyway, what did I do? Did I run for help? Did I call Buffy? Nope. I went all green-eyed growly and tried to take out the whole damn unit by myself. I’ve had this discussion with my hyena friend many times. Yes, Spike is one strong bastard who’s survived more than most vampires ever will before turning to dust. But Spike hates me, which is fine with me because it makes it easier to pretend to hate him. But, and this is a big but, I’m going to have trouble convincing anyone that I hate Spike after I went all protective over him. I’m pretty sure I killed one of the soldiers, not that I’m having a case of the guilts. I’m having trouble even caring. In fact, the hyena is practically bouncing over the fact and my soldier memories are all stoic about known risks and dying in the line of duty.

But none of this helps me now. Now I’m sitting on the floor naked, listening to two Mengele wanna-be’s talk about Willow and Tara like their new prized heifers about to be brought to the farm. Spike obviously had his own accommodations down here somewhere, unless the scientists had dusted him, and I could hear myself growl at that thought. Oh great, I just gave the scientists another happy as they got to write down another aberrant behavior. Humans don’t growl, I reminded myself, but the hunger and the fear and the knowledge that I had failed Spike made it difficult not to growl. Made it difficult not to throw myself against that electrified glass, and you would think I would be better at repressing after all these years of practice, but nope.

Here comes Ms. Piggy right on cue. I refuse to do it. Hunger and my hyena see the piglet that’s been lowered into my cell as one big hot dog on legs, but I remember the last time I did that, and I never quite got over it. Well, that and the fact that the pack had gone from the school mascot to the principal. I still had trouble eating bacon without thinking of Mr. Flutie, so I really wasn’t eating another pig no matter how hungry I got or how many scientists wanted to observe my “aberrant behavior.”

When the scientists finally gave up and used another tranq dart to send me to la-la land and retrieve the pig, I had reached a breaking point. I wanted to kill them was my last thought as I sunk into darkness.


Part 2

“Mornin’ whelp,” came a familiar voice, and for a minute I thought I had dreamed the whole getting captured, attacking the soldiers and being experimented on until my skin hurt thing, but when I opened my eyes I saw white. Just white. I closed my eyes again.

“Ya going to lay there all day?”

“Yep,” I answered. Since I was still naked, I was guessing Spike was naked, and I was so not ready to deal with that yet. He answered with a snort, and I really wished that the hyena gave me some cool power like eyes in the back of my head so I could see his expression. Then again, considering he had a full view of my backside, maybe I didn’t want to see his expression. After all, I’m the loser, the townie, the low-status male at the bottom of the pack, so as long as I kept my eyes closed and didn’t look, I could pretend that the bleached on just might want to take this opportunity to sneak a look. Lord knows I wanted to. Just didn’t have the balls to do it, not worth the risk of seeing Spike utterly disinterested.

The silence had become familiar and mind numbing before the sound of metal sliding over metal and a familiar squealing noise interrupted my whole fantasy where I wasn’t completely fucking stupid and where I hadn’t gotten captured just to die next to Spike while soldiers plotted against the girls.

“Bloody hell, the blood's fresher than usual this time,” Spike said with amusement as the sound of piggy feet scrambling over concrete interrupted my doing of nothing. When the pig bumped into me, I scooted closer to the wall, turning on my side so that I took up less floor space.

“Probably for me,” I finally said as the pig noises echoes off bare walls and left my predator spirit crying for meat. How long had it been since I had food, anyway? A day? Two days? Four days? Honestly I had the hyena habit of eating any time food was available, and right now my stomach had passed empty, stomach-cramp hungry, and nauseous with hunger. I had the weak-legged hunger that left the hyena demanding some pork on the hoof.

“What? You into eatin' your meat rare these days?” Spike asked with a derisive snort, and I decided that was it. I would lay here and ignore the pig that smelled of food and ignore the vampire that smelled of leather and smoke even now and quietly die. Well, unless the Initiative had more tests in which case I would lay here until they drugged me, dragged me out, and tortured me. The dying of starvation thing actually sounded pretty damn good considering the alternative.

“No, that would be why I’m ignoring it…if I was into eating it, I’d eat it, which I’m not, so I’m ignoring it.” I scooted closer to the wall so that Spike wouldn’t see my ‘oh shit’ face. Yeah, I know when I’m babbling and sounding like a complete idiot, I’m just genetically incapable of stopping myself. Another snort suggested that Spike found my humiliation amusing.

“Right,” Spike said in a tone that sounded like he was talking to the local idiot at the nutso farm. Of course, I have a secret crush on Spike, so I think that qualifies me for the nutso farm. “So why assume the pig’s for you?” I ignored the sound of little pig feet scrambling and the increased volume as the pig screams started coming from somewhere above me. Either Spike had picked up the pig, or the thing was able to levitate. Hey, pigs could be flying right now, but I wasn’t going to check considering that Spike holding a pig wouldn’t have any hands free to cover parts that I really didn’t want to see. At least, I didn’t want to see them under these conditions.

“They’ve been dropping pigs in my cage for a while now,” I finally answered as the pig gave one final shriek and then the sucking noises started. “Okay, that’s just ew.” Unfortunately for me, the hyena had another thought, and I could hear her scrambling toward the surface, demanding survival, demanding meat. The sucking sounds stopped and a heavy thud told me that Spike had finished dinner.

“Right, so why’d they nab you anyway?”

“Oh, I don’t know…maybe because I’m stuck hanging out with a vampire all day.”

“Harris, you bloody stink at lying. So, want to take another shot at it?”

“Or what? You gonna torture the information out of me pig-breath?”

“When I get this chip out…”

“Oh, here comes the death and mayhem speech again. Let’s see. Revenge, kill, torture, blah, blah, blah. Heard it before oh castrated one.” I knew that I had struck a nerve when Spike hissed, but this wasn’t the time for big secret revelations a la Jerry Springer. Of course, I was also taking out my own frustration since the smell of fresh blood had my hyena fairly screaming.

“What bug crawled up your arse and died, Harris?”

“Ask the white coats. They’ve jammed so much stuff into me that I’m sure they’re familiar with every inch. Even inches I’m not familiar with.”

“Wot the…” I expected more Spike-style profanity, namely words I didn’t understand spat out in an accent thickened by anger. Instead a hand landed on my naked arm, and funny, I’d always expected his hand to be cold, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t really anything, just a pressure pulling me away from the wall. I tried to ignore him and stay in my corner, but hey, vamp strength versus the Zeppo, and vamp strength won.

I found myself forcibly turned so that I found myself eye level with his family jewels as he squatted next to me. Okay time to find something else to stare at. The pig was an obvious choice since my own hunger could drown any insipid lust the might leave me humiliated in the most personal of ways. I really blame the hyena for the gay thing. Of course I kinda had the hots for Angel before the hyena, but boy, once I got to know the brooding bastard, that crush cleared right up and allowed me to return to the happy land of denial. The hyena and her attraction to Spike—not so easy to clear up. If Angel was that weird craving for bananas and peanut butter, Spike was…chocolate induced acne or that really bad foot fungus I got off the locker room showers. Hard to get over and annoying as hell.

“Wow…I always thought you’d be a messy eater,” I commented as I examined the two small puncture wounds on the silent pig. Now that Spike had killed it, would it really be the same thing? I mean eating dead pig was closer to eating hot dogs that to eating a live squealing animal….right? Damn, losing focus because Spike just said something I totally missed.

“Well?” he demanded.

“Well what?” I tore my eyes from the pig and looked at Spike’s eyes. Spike’s blue eyes. Spike’s crystal eyes, Spike’s brilliantly sparkling blue crystal eyes, and oh god time to look at the pig again.

“Don’t bloody ignore me ya little bastard. I asked what the hell is up with you. You’re not smellin’ right and you look ready to tear that pig apart. Not to mention the fact that you’re here at all. So whatever is goin’ on you’d better bloody well tell me or I’ll find a way to make you sorry.”

“I’m already sorry; I’m stuck with you,” I quipped as I pulled back on my arm, but Spike didn’t let go. I just earned myself a sore arm, and from Spike’s grimace, gave him a headache.

“Start talking.” This time Spike narrowed his eyes and flashed me the yellow, which was far less interesting than other things Spike was flashing right now, but I was just not going to look…much. And geez, was that normal what with the skin going all the way to the end like that?

“Make me.” I had all of two seconds to consider my mistake before Spike started singing at the top of his lungs. He started singing with great relish and absolutely no talent. I’d heard Spike sing in the shower, so I knew damn well he could carry a tune, but from his current performance, I wouldn’t have gotten anyone else to believe me. I could hear loud sounds from other cages as demons protested this new torture, but I just focused my eyes on the pig and tried to ignore him. The whole ignoring Spike thing? It doesn’t work. It never works. I’ve never seen anyone so impossible to ignore. He just added dancing to his act, pulling me along so that we became like two naked idiots locked in a cage and dancing. Yeah, I'm not so good with similes; I do much better with irony.

“Spike, stop it,” I snarled, and he ignored me. “Spike!” I wrenched my arm away, but I only succeeded in pulling Spike with me so that we were now chest to chest, and no, that wasn’t intentional.

“Havin’ a problem there, Harris?” Spike whispered in my ear as he looked down toward my cock, and between the exhaustion and the hunger and the fear, I’m man enough to admit that I might have had a small problem, not that I’m small because I’m not. Anya is very appreciative of my equipment; she called me a Viking once, and I’m thinking that’s a compliment. Unless of course she mean a Viking in winter with all that cold and the whole shrivelage factor, but I’m assuming she meant Viking in the big manly impressive Thor kind of Viking way. I hope. “Bloody hell, you really do have a problem there,” Spike said as my cock twitched and struggled to react.

“Getting a little personal, Spike. You want to back off a bit before I give you a problem because the chip, that’s a one-way deal. I can still hurt you just fine.” I find when all else fails, insulting myself and threatening the vamp are the two best diversions.

“Say that again.” Spike tilted his head so that we were face to face.

“Chip no workee on me, so back off or I’ll hurt you. What? Are you going deaf now? Cause I’m thinking you already have enough problems.”

“Bloody hell, you’re soddin’ starving.” Spike’s sudden expression of something resembling concern caught me so off guard I couldn’t quite make my tongue work again.

“Um, huh?” Yep, the Xan-man is as articulate as ever.

“Can smell the sour stomach on ya. You need food.” Spike let go of my arm and reached down for the pig as he dug fingers into the little piggy body and pulled the skin back. My eyes said ewwwwwwwww, but my stomach growled in anticipation. I think it was my stomach anyway. Spike suddenly turned and gave me a sharp look, so the growl might have been an actual growl type growl.

“Losing your mind there, Harris,” Spike shoved a piece of meat at me, a huge chunk of whitish flesh clinging to a single rib bone, and I had to grab my hands to keep from ripping it from Spike.

“Haven’t lost enough of it to actually eat that though,” I pointed out.

“You have to eat something, you’re bloody starving to death. How long’s it been since you ate?”

“Not really sure what with the long periods of unconsciousness,” I conceded as I watched that meat still held in Spike hands. No gore, no blood, no mess, just thick, rich-looking meat. I could almost taste it.

“Yeah, well this is a mite undercooked, but the worst you’ll get is worms, and we can worry about those later. So stop being a git and eat the damn food.”

“Spike, so not a good idea. Me and pig meat—not a good combination,” I said even as I felt my hyena surge forward so strongly that I physically rocked forward.

“Bloody hell, what’s wrong with your eyes?” Oh shit, that little bitch had slipped out. Babble and distract…babble and distract.

“Nothing, they’re just eyes what with the being round and brown and fitting in the head.” Oh shit, he was looking at me like I’d just grown a second head. Just go back to ignoring me like a good little vamp, I prayed as I tried to breath deeply enough to shove the hyena back down into my psyche.

“They’re not bloody human mate. When did you get a demon upgrade?”

“It’s not a demon,” I vehemently insisted about two seconds before my brain pointed out that saying that just confirmed I had something in me. It so sucks being slow.

“Well it’s bloody well not human. Never seen human eyes start glowin’ like that before, so it’s time Mr. Kill-all-demons fessed up about whatever little secrets he’s got in his closet.” Spike crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall in a gesture of determination that would have worked…if he hadn’t been dangling raw meat from one hand and dangling his…danglies…from…the place where danglies dangle. Oh yeah, hunger and lust conspired to rob me of my last active brain cell’s attention.

“I might have a very small, small as in insignificant piece of hyena spirit in me,” I admitted as quietly as possible. I didn’t hear the white-coats squeal in joy, so maybe they didn’t hear. Of course, they were probably recording us, but after the whole ‘taking out the soldiers’ thing, I wasn’t going to be able to claim human purity anyway.

“What? Like a primal?” Spike’s eyes went comically large.

“Maybe.” I answered cautiously since the lack of Spike insults made me entirely too suspicious.

“And no one bloody told me? Feel left out and unappreciated,” Spike put on his best pout face, and I temporarily forgot about the hunger as I tried not to laugh.

“Spike , we always leave you out,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but I find out your stupid little secrets anyway. This time I didn’t bloody find out. Feel left out, I do. Could’ve been insulting your hyena’s lack of taste and your own bloody incompetence to carry a primal this whole time. Lost out on prime ‘teasin’ the beast with raw meat’ opportunities.”

“And that would be why we didn’t tell you, or actually, I didn’t tell anyone that I still have the thing, but I’m telling you now, so you should feel special what with the sharing.”

“You’re telling me because I already found out, wanker, but what do ya mean you haven’t told the others?” Spike tilted his head, and I focused on not thinking words like cute and sexy.

“Telling the others would mean that I told the others, I didn’t tell the others, which means I didn’t tell.” Yep, trying for funny but with the hunger and the meat right there and the lust and Spike right there, the funny just wasn’t coming for me. That probably explained Spike’s expression.

“Bloody loon,” he said as he cocked an eyebrow up.

“Yes, there is that,” I agreed. “So now you see why I’m not doing the whole pig thing,” I pointed out.

“Bloody well don’t see. If you have a primal, you should be ready to tear into this meat.” Spike waved the rib, and I found myself staring at it as my nose flared so that I could scent the meat. Okay, going a little overboard with the primal thing, I decided as I once again tried to shove my spirit girl into her corner.

“I kinda am, but that’s why I’m not doing it.” I spoke through clenched teeth, but Spike just kept right on waving the meat. Wanker. Yes, it’s his word, but the fact is that it describes him well: both literally and figuratively, and I lived with him long enough to know this quite well. Not that I was listening when he did that because I wasn’t….much.

“That’s logical only in the brain of a moron or a member of the Harris family, if that isn’t redundant. You bloody well need food, and this is right up your alley.”

“Enough with the waving dead pig around. Spike, if I eat that, the hyena will just get stronger.”

“That’s the idea, idiot. Two of us against them, and keepin’ strong is the first step in winning.” My hyena almost yipped in pleasure at the thought of Spike joining the pack, but I squashed that reaction before my throat could actually make the sound.

“Spike, trust me, you do not want the hyena getting stronger.” I tried for calm, but I was coming closer to psychotic. Of course the sound of the damn hyena yipping in my head made me want to scoop out my own brains, and that should be a really gross image, but the thought of raw brains is just making me hungrier, and at that point I decided I was so damn damned, it almost didn’t matter.

“Bloody do want it stronger. If we want to get out of here we both need to be up to fighting speed, or I need to be up to fighting speed and you need to be strong enough to run without fallin’ on your face, which right now, you couldn’t do.” I knew Spike was right about how weak I’d become, but I also knew that sinking my teeth into the rich, juicy flesh of that pig would strengthen the hyena who was already rattling her cage more than she had since I’d inherited her from that zoo.

“I can’t, Spike.”

“Wot? You’d rather lie down and die, let these wankers pull you apart on cell at a time rather than strengthen the demon in ya?”

“It’s not that simple, *you* don’t want this thing lose, Spike. Trust me when I say that me plus free hyena is not of the good.” I bit my tongue as I realized that I had said slightly more than I’d intended.

“You bloody coward. You’re goin’ to let these arsewipes get their hands on Red and Glinda because you’re too bloody prejudiced to use the tools you got in that empty head of yours. You’re a worthless clod.” I was torn between retreating to lie in the corner again and defending myself against Spike who had an expression that made it clear if he didn’t have the chip I’d last about 2 seconds.

“Spike, this thing has instincts,” I tried explaining.

“Everything has instincts. Every living or unliving thing in the world has instincts. Instinct to live, to kill the enemy, to hide from those that are stronger, but you’re bloody pathetic pretending that if you ignore this it’ll just go away.” Spike’s words I could ignore; however, he kept gesturing with the hunk of meat, waving it close so that the hyena whined. Then he’d pull it back away from me.

I finally couldn’t take it any more and the vision of the meat being pulled away again short circuited every thought in my head as I slammed into Spike, grabbing the meat and growling as my vision shifted just enough to tell me that I was certainly showing my hyena spirit. My ears could pick up the sound of cameras whirring and clicking, and Spike froze with an expression of surprise as I held the meat in one hand, forgotten for the time being as I pinned him against the wall with my knee and my elbow. He pushed back, and I growled as I felt my frustration that he didn’t submit. He should submit. Why didn’t he submit? He growled back, and a wave of fury and lust and desire left me wanting to throw Spike to the ground and force him to submit, but then it occurred to me I was having naughty Spike thoughtage, and I practically threw myself backwards as I grabbed back control.

I retreated to the far side of the cell which was a good six whole feet away before sinking into the corner, the meat still grasped in my hand. Closing my eyes, I leaned my forehead against the cool concrete and waited for the earth to open and suck me in. Surely the universe wouldn’t be cruel enough to make me live after this, but then the universe and I have never agreed much. The floor remained solid, and I finally brought the meat up and started to eat.

And yep, the universe hates me because here came the white coats. I should’ve expected them after my little display, but I just keep forgetting that I’ve been turned into a sideshow freak. Luckily, little geeky guys with bad complexions and white coats keep showing up and reminding me. Yeah, lucky, lucky me.

“…most exciting display of aberrant behavior since the night of the capture. You were certainly right about the proximity of the second demon acting as a catalyst,” Dr. Pimples jabbered as his brisk steps ended right in front of my current cage. I kept my back to them as I brought up the meat for a second bite. I really was starving in the literal sense, and the food both upset my stomach and filled an empty ache inside.

“I wonder if I really was. Your idea with the pig might have been the actual trigger for the atypical behavior, but we may have failed to consider the possibility that subhuman nature might be scavenger rather than predator.”

“I still believe the presence of this demon is the critical change, even taking into account other variables. Danger to this one led to the original display of demonic traits,” Dr. Pimples replied I groaned at their little circle jerk; this was the sort of sickening discussion that had led me to ignore their actual words as I created a little secret fantasy life for them. If they weren’t sleeping together, they certainly both wanted to. And when *I* can tell someone’s putting out signals, that’s pretty bad considering Anya finally just had to give up and show up at my house with condoms.

I tuned out for a minute, but when Spike jumped forward growling, I found myself twisting around with a growl on my own lips as I expected imminent attack. Instead I saw two geeks on the verge of peeing their pants and a hysterically laughing Spike. I never thought I’d miss that nice square cell I had all to myself, but I did. A nice quiet cell without Spike where I could make up my little stories between bouts of Xander-torture. I turned back around and continued gnawing at my meat.

“Behaviorally sympathetic responses…” Dr. Pencil Neck finally managed to warble out and I smiled as I ate my rare roast pork. Calling it that really didn’t help, but I tore another piece off and chewed anyway, the hyena reveling in every bite…that and the lack of clothing and the chance to growl at enemies and the presence of a worthy male. Hell, she was in hyena heaven, except of course for the whole caged, tortured, starved, and bored stupid parts.

“Perhaps pack behaviors,” Dr. Pimples said in an even less steady voice, one that at the end spiked up like a girl’s into an uncertain squeak. I heard Spike snicker, and I could just imagine the smug expression on his face. Personally I had other matters to worry about, like the pain in my mouth from the bone splinter I’d just rammed into my lip as I cracked the rib bone with my teeth. Idiot hyena. Of course that didn’t stop me from working the marrow out of the bone. I couldn’t eat any more meat without risking throwing up, but the rich, nutritious morrow was too good to pass up, and it took so long to get to that my stomach would have time to digest a bit. Okay, that’s what I told myself later; at the time I was thinking more “Mmmm marrow.”

“Mutually protective or directional imperative?” Dr. Pencil neck mused, his voice now returning to normal after being scared out of five year’s growth by Spike’s antics. Obviously these idiots didn’t normally deal with Spike or they would have expected that. I wondered how many demons they worked with. God, I hope I hadn’t been given to some lower ranking flunkies who dealt in the harmless demons. My hyena growled at the very thought of being labeled harmless

“We know that the younger male will kill in order to protect the vampire. Perhaps we should see if the instinct is mutual under controlled cirum….” The voices faded out as the white coats wandered down the hall, and I was just as glad. I knew damn well Spike wouldn’t put himself on the line for me, so I didn’t even want to know what was about to happen. I finished with my bone and turned around to toss my scraps back into the corner where the pig body lay with the flesh ripped from one side, and I was really bothered by the lack of being bothered by the sight. I was also disturbed by the expression on Spike’s face as he looked at me.

“What?” I finally asked after several minutes of an absolutely undecipherable expression.

“You bloody killed someone?” Spike asked, obviously stunned.

“Yes, I killed one of the soldiers; I’m not a complete incompetent. As you pointed out, everyone has instincts, and I have a few killer instincts of my own, I’ll have you know.”

“Killer instincts, huh?” Spike looked thoughtful, and I rolled my eyes at his skeptical expression.

“Yes, killer instincts.” A sly smile crossed Spike’s face, and I waited for the insult. And here it came…

“Not buyin’, mate. You have the killer instincts of a rabbit.”

“As you would say, ‘ha bloody ha’.”

“Not even one of those wild jack rabbits that ate up big chunks of Australia, either. One of those long haired bunnies with big floppy ears that fall over its eyes.” Spike illustrated his point by holding his hands down over his eyes, and I had an overwhelming urge to knock his head off. Maybe then he’d quit talking crap about me. Probably not.

“Which is still scarier than a chipped vampire,” I snapped back, but the sound of the air gun stopped the conversation as I found a fuzzy, red tranq dart stuck just to the right of my right nipple.

“Hey, that hurts,” I complained. Spike made some sort of noise, but either they’d tranqed him too or I was going down faster than usual because the sounds didn’t make any sense.


Part 3

And again with the white—don’t these people have any other paint colors? I groaned my way back to consciousness, and then wished I hadn’t. Yep, that was one mighty big, nasty-looking nasty in that cage across the room. Even I had enough imagination to understand this test, especially considering Spike leaning against the far wall. So, decision time. Lie down and let that thing eat me as I hope it’s over fast, or try and fight until the thing breaks my neck and eats me as I hope it’s over fast: decisions, decisions. I pushed myself up to a sitting position on stiffened muscles, and my stomach rolled unhappily. The tranquilizer made sure that the first meal I’d had in days threatened to come up all over me with five guys watching through the tilted glass ceiling. Dr. Pencil Neck and Dr. Pimples and Dr. Too-Many-Ho-Ho’s all stood watching along with two guys dressed in military fatigues. Hmm. No Riley. Hadn’t see Riley yet, not that it mattered much. As long as Willow and Buffy didn’t have to watch me die, I really didn’t care much who did.

I looked down to examine the short chain that attached my ankle to the wall, and I knew that I could never get free. The hyena started growling, and I let my head thump back against the wall. Little late for growling because as soon as the geek boys got bored, they were going to get that thing out of its cage, and that thing’s tusks were going to rip me to shreds. And Spike? I felt a brief moment of regret that the last thing I ever said to him was a reminder of how these sadists had crippled him, and again with the irony. I was feeling sorry for a mass murder because he was getting picked on. And when did I get so strange? But it was too late to change anything with me and Spike, so I didn’t even bother.

I pulled my knees up and rested my chin as I considered the boar-demon in the cage: four legs with tough-looking brown skin, thin snake-like eyes, two tusk things coming out of the lower jaw, and a snout that looked like a pig face that had been sharpened at the end. Okay, I had to smile just a little. I didn’t like to eat pigs, but a pig was about to eat me. A pig with a face only a mother could love too, and I knew Spike wouldn’t go up against a big, tusky, boarish demon without having weapons. He liked his own skin in one piece too much for that; besides I’m the one with the reputation for throwing myself into impossible fights. I tried to ignore the voice that pointed out that I’d survived until then, so Spike should be willing to at least try. Spike wasn’t me; he wasn’t going to fight the impossible fight. Hell, the thing probably weighed 200 or 300 pounds. Well at least this was an end to their tests. I wondered if the white coats would get chewed out or written up for getting their test subject killed.

“Finally found a way to shut ya up,” Spike said from across the room, and I turned my head to consider him. Even naked he had a presence that screamed his confidence, and I longed to take that confidence for my own, but who was I kidding? Damn hyena gave me dom-y delusions, but I knew full well that I wasn’t even in his league, so let him get his last jabs, it’s not like it was going to make me any more or less dead here in a few minutes. Knowing this was the end, I let myself do the one thing I’d denied myself the whole time I lived with Spike and the whole time I’d stood in a 6 by 6 foot cage naked arguing with him: I ogled.

And damn if that vampire wasn’t worth ogling. I stared at the long leg muscles that rippled slightly as Spike shifted in anticipation. His weight was on one foot, so his other foot arched gracefully as he stood with just the toes resting on the ground. His hipbones were visible but rounded by the muscle just under the skin, and his arms had the subtle curves normally seen on someone who works all day long in some physical job: a farmer or rancher or stock boy. Okay, maybe not stock boy because that did not describe the muscles that very clearly weren’t for show but for action: lithe, wiry, compact and coiled. His stomach muscles rippled once and then twice as I watched, and then I allowed myself to look down at the thing I had generally avoided. His cock hung limply and perfect. The foreskin made it look slightly alien since I had grown up without my own and all my furtive glances in the locker room had encountered other circumcised cocks. He looked about the same size as me, and I wondered what he looked like hardened by desire. Unless he was a real sadist who got a jolly by watching me get torn apart, I didn’t think I was going to have a chance to find out.

Spike’s body shifted slightly, and I examined the line of his ass where his butt curved down into his thigh, and the son of a bitch had a butt dimple. It was totally unfair that he was so completely perfect nude, and as I looked up into his face, I could see that he knew just how perfect he was.

“See somethin’ ya like Harris?” he smirked with that one eyebrow that lifted in challenge. Okay, I’ll admit it; I have spent a *few* minutes staring into a mirror trying to get my eyebrow to do that. I would take my finger and push one eyebrow up as I struggled to get the right combination of muscles to make that face on my own because reaching up with a finger to do the eyebrow thing was just pathetic. Or rather doing the finger thing in public would be pathetic. Oh, who am I kidding? Doing it in my bathroom with the door locked and Spike tied to the chair outside was pathetic. And no, don’t ask how many minutes because I am not pathetic enough to admit to a number on that little activity. Suffice it to say I got a cramp in my leg from leaning over my counter so long. Yep, that’s me—disgraceful to the end. But right now I looked right back at Spike and answered.

“Yep.” Wow, I caught the vampire off guard. At least, I think that’s Spike’s ‘off-guard’ look because I’ve never seen it before. Spike just stared back, not that he could see anything with me huddled into a ball on the floor, but then he wasn’t about to die, so I wasn’t about to give him a free show. After several minutes of silence, I took a long breath.

“When you get out of here,” I chose my words carefully. “Let them know I’m sorry about the whole keeping secrets thing,” I asked. Spike was a survivor; I couldn’t let myself think for a minute he wouldn’t make it.

“Bloody hell,” he said softly, and I waited for him to tell me how pathetic I was, not that I really needed reminding what with the chained naked to a wall thing, but it was tradition. Spike’s face had a shocked look that didn’t match any expression I’d ever seen on him before; hell, not even a hint of smirkage when I’d expected the whole smirk buffet, but then his features rearranged themselves. He looked at me as though he wanted to say something, and I could just imagine the insults he was forming in response to my self-outting.

Before I had a chance to try and decipher that look, I heard a clicking noise, and my eyes went to the room’s other inhabitant. The long chain that connected his cage door to the ceiling slowly tightened one click at a time as the slack disappeared. I stood. I had no chance of surviving this, but I’d be damned if I was going down without a fight. I didn’t do that with the master or with Spike and I wasn’t going to go down without a fight for the Initiative. All the slack was out of the chain now, and each click brought the cage door open another fraction.

Ya know, I was almost embarrassed to die in such a damn cliché, stupid scientists stole this right out of Star Wars. Feeling very much like a full size action figure being played with by those watching geekoids, I didn’t hear the second sound right away. When I did notice the scratching sound, I turned to see a door slowly sliding open. Of course, I got staked out as the sacrificial lamb, and Spike got an exit back to safety. Survivors survive, and Spike showed his membership in that category by slowly sliding toward that door. Oh, he stopped when I pinned him with my best pissed off expression, but for that expression to work, he had to give a damn. Spike didn’t, so after gazing into my eyes for just a second, he started edging closer to the door again.

Yeah, I knew Spike would do that, but some little part of me had hoped…hoped that he cared enough to try and save me. Maybe a token effort or a suggestion about the beastie’s weak spot. Hell, at this point I’d settle for some pithy last words. Nope, Spike just left me. Rather than have Spike walking away imprinted on my brain as my last memory, I turned back to look at the beast whose nose now pushed against the half open door in an attempt to escape. Yep, I’d rather watch my own personal death approach. Why can’t I fall for someone who actually gives a damn for me just once? Did I do something horrible in some past life: dump a girl on Valentine’s or rape someone or try to kill a lover? Yeah, bitter much, I asked myself with a snort. My last thoughts are going to be about how the world picks on me, and how pathetic is that? Don’t answer that.

The cage door was three-quarters up now and the beast kept pushing it up with its snout so that the cage thumped and clanged as it rose and fell. Now I could see a long line of drool hanging down one side of the beast’s mouth, and I took a deep breath as I realized the damn thing was seconds away from escape, and yep, here he came. The creature sprang from the cage snarling and whipping around as it considered all the sides of the room. It spun toward the open door, which promptly slammed shut with Spike on the other side. It whirled toward me. It turned to the observation window and tilted its head to the side.

I braced myself for the shortest fight in history…well unless you count that time that I tried saying “no” to Larry and never got past the “n” sound because Larry’s fist interrupted the whole me talking thing. That was short. I hoped to at least make it a little longer than that just so that my last moments on Earth wouldn’t be recorded by Dr. Too Many Ho-Ho’s as “pathetic subject squealed like a girl, collapsed in fear, and got eaten in 1.7 seconds.” Things like that are bad on the male ego.

The monster swung his heavy head my way, and I backed up two or three inches until I had plastered myself against the cold, white wall, but I did manage to stay upright and keep my hands up in some pathetic attempt to defend myself, so I’m calling the whole thing successful; oh, and I didn’t wet myself, I actually *was* proud of that one. The creature snuffed once and then twice before it started backing up to take the corner farthest from me, his whole body collapsing to the ground so hard that I could feel the floor vibrate. Huh? What is up with that? I watched as the thing settled in with an expression of wariness that clearly shouted, ‘I won’t try to eat you if you don’t try to eat me,’ and that was one deal I would gladly take. In fact, I didn’t even make eye contact as I edged as far away as I could…in other words, three whole inches. I could tell the scientists were a bit put out too because Dr. Pimples was wildly gesturing and Dr. Too Many Ho-Hos had an expression that looked like a cross between nausea and embarrassment.

The animal’s head zeroed in on the door as it scraped open again, and I expected to see Spike creep back around now that Fido had turned out to be a Fifi, but the door just opened about a foot and then stopped. Okay, either I totally didn’t understand their test or something had gone terribly wrong—not that I had a problem with that because woo hoo for someone else’s life getting screwed up for once.

I jumped when the chain fell off my ankle, setting me free, and my motion attracted Fifi’s attention because he swung that wide head my direction. I froze. I’d like to say that was some sort of thought out plan, but the fact is that the sight of that thing considering me left my legs so weak I could barely even support my weight much less move. After several minutes of staring at me and snuffing heavily, the beast turned his attention to scanning the room, and I took the chance to slide like a crab toward the door.

Just move slowly and don’t piss off the demon, I willed myself as I headed for the exit. Oh god, I hoped it was an exit. I froze against the wall wondering what was on the other side of the door. Maybe it wasn’t an exit. Maybe this was only the start of the test and I was safer with Fifi. Maybe I really hated tests because no matter how much I studied, I always ended up failing, and I had the feeling I couldn’t afford to fail this time. Funny, I really did think that when the day came for me to be tortured to death that Spike would get the honors.

I crept up to the door and used my foot to push it open far enough for me to slide into the new room while keeping an eye on Fifi who seemed very content to let me leave. At least we agreed on that.

“Close the door ya wanker,” a voice demanded, and I turned to see Spike sprawled on a low bench built into the far end of the room.

“You cowardly piece of shit,” I nearly shouted, and before I could even take a breath to continue my impromptu rant on why Spike sucked, he had sprung up and pushed me to one side hard enough to send me to the ground as he yanked the door shut using the huge metal handle.

“S’not what you…” he started as he pulled the door closed to the sound of something huge hitting it from the other side. His words ended when I leaped up and shoved Spike as hard as I could…so hard that his head bounced off the inside of the door before he turned to face me in full game face and growling.

Okay, I’m the first to admit that I might have lost it at that point. . I growled right back and before I could even think things like chip and unfair advantage and bully, I threw myself at Spike ready to rip him to pieces with my bare hands if need be. I’d made a good start of it by getting him on the ground where he growled even louder as he flipped me over onto my back, but when he suffered the chip shockage, I slipped free and dug my teeth deep into the back of arm so that he howled in anger, and then the sharp little pain in my ass told me that neither of us were going to win this fight.

“Assholes…” I slurred out as I released Spike’s arm and felt my body slump down onto Spike who was either already drugged or way too willing to play pillow. I really missed falling asleep on my own, I decided as the drugs started to take effect and pull me down into the darkness that was the only reprieve from the endless world of white. At least this time I had a nice pillow as I fell asleep on top of the still growling Spike.


Part Four
“Wakey, wakey,” a voice called faintly, and I shifted to try and get away from the sound, but my arm grew increasingly uncomfortable, like it was caught in the sheets or something. I managed some sort of incoherent groans, and the tightening on the arm increased. “Oi, no hidin’ from me now,” I heard that, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. Hiding? Not likely in a little white cell, but the pressure on my arm increased again until I squirmed.

“Not hiding. Tir’d,” I finally muttered.

“Up!” a voice demanded, and I finally figured out that someone was squeezing my arm tight enough for it to hurt. Really hurt. Really as in how the fuck is Spike doing that kind of hurting me hurtage.

“Hands off, fangless,” I demanded as I pushed myself up to sitting, and great, back to the tiny cell with the one glass wall, and didn’t these people know what kind of damage they could do to a person’s psyche with shit like this, but I had more important worries, like how a chipped vampire got away with the hurtage of humans. Right now, that vampire was still squatting down next to me, and I brought one hand up to rub the soreness in my arm.

“Something wrong, pet?” Spike asked in his silkiest voice, and I just knew. I knew why he could hurt me, and hey, my earlier expectation of getting tortured to death by Spike was about to come true after all. Of all the times to finally be right…

“Little heavy handed there,” I said, verbally feeling my way around the monster in the room, and why had I let bright blue eyes and one damn cute ass distract me from the fact that Spike was a monster? Of course, my stupid hyena was all yippy and happy about the fact Spike was free of the chip, but I wasn’t so sure “happy” was an appropriate response here. Terror and fleeing seemed more appropriate, even if one was pointless and the other just a little bit impossible. Stupid Initiative.

“Got me an adjustment,” Spike said as his smirk deepened and his eyebrows both flicked upward.

“Great,” I pulled myself up into a ball again so that I could cover as many privates as possible as I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the wall. So, escape was a no and now the chip wouldn’t protect me…at least it couldn’t get any worse.

“Wot? Ya aren’t goin’ ta ask?” Spike’s accent thickened until it dripped, and I realized that he was in a mood to play. Great. Well, that would be the “any worse” I knew it couldn’t get. Being that I was the only toy in the room, I figured I was about to have a very bad day.

“So, what happened?” I asked dully. Hell, it’s not like I had anything else to do than play Spike’s mind games.

“They turned down the voltage. Thought they’d give me a chance to defend myself from the big bully that knocked me arse over teakettle after I saved his sorry hide, so that means I can do some hurtin’ now.” I opened my eyes and found Spike inches from my face which put him inches from my neck which was miles too close for my liking.

“And which bully would that be because the only thing I remember is beating this coward who ran out to save his own sorry hide.” I could hear Spike growl low in his chest, and I just stared back into those blue eyes which showed occasional flecks of yellow that betrayed either his aggravation or his hunger. Hell, he hadn’t had human blood from the source for months, so maybe this would be quick after all.

“Wanker…didn’t even give me a chance to talk.” Oh, that was rich. The vampire who regularly cut me off with curses and insults and occasionally with objects thrown at my head accused me of not listening. Every nerve in my body itched with a need to knock him on his ass, and I started pushing myself up despite how that left certain… parts… rather vulnerable. Spike didn’t even bother standing and that pissed me off even more, like I wasn’t even dangerous enough to be worth facing off against, and yeah, with him being unchipped I posed about as much threat as that bunny rabbit he called me earlier, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t offended…and a little aggravated with the fact that he kept crouching down and possibly checking out my privates, which were supposed to be private, hence the term privates.

“You wanna talk, fine. Talk.” I tried to sound strong and resolute. I came out closer to grouchy and whiny, but at least I didn’t come off terrified and puny since that’s how I was really feeling.

“If that’s what you really want, mate.” Spike’s voice held a depth I’d never heard before, and I looked down to see the top of his head as he continued to stare at my privates which were actively carrying out a mutiny by responding despite my very clear orders to ignore the sexy demon kneeling in front of me. I reminded my hyena that Spike wasn’t submitting, he just happened to not stand up when I did; however, the sight of Spike squatting with his eyes lowered made my cock fill with both blood and desire.

“Spike, knock it off,” I hissed because there was no way he was doing this by accident, and while I couldn’t help becoming a vampire chew toy, I really didn’t feel like playing ‘Humiliate the Zeppo’ games. I’d gotten enough of that from Buffy lately…yeah, like her grades were any better than mine, the only difference was that she had a mom who paid for her college.

“Wot?” Spike now slowly stood, his eyes moving up my body, and I tried not to flinch under his gaze. Tried and failed, but I at least tried.

“You are an asshole,” I informed him once his gaze reached my eyes, and his smirk just deepened.

“Interestin’ choice of words, pet. Got somethin’ on your mind, do ya?” I would have claimed ignorance about the whole man-love thing only my hyena chose that moment to grab the reins and surge upwards, and I could tell both by the distorted colors and the widening of Spike’s eyes that my own eyes went all glowy at the thought of Spike and assholes, and yes, I did have something on my mind.

“Only thinking that you talk big when you’re facing me instead of…oh, I don’t know… a three hundred pound pig. I think that’s actually the definition of coward, Spike.” I watched as Spike’s eyes flashed entirely yellow and I tried not to hyperventilate. Sadly, I felt myself breathless both from fear and lust, and how sick am I?

“I bloody saved your sorry arse from the pep’tuli, and now I’m wondering why,” Spike snarled as the ridges appeared, and damn if he wasn’t even more stunning in his game face.

“You ran like a little girl,” I contradicted him.

“I made a tactical retreat.”

“Crying ‘wee, wee, wee’ all the way home.”

“I was tryin’ not ta piss the bugger off.”

“Like a yellow-bellied dog.”

“The way you’re pissin’ me off now.” I opened my mouth to reply, despite actually being out of insults, but suddenly Spike’s hands grabbed me by the shoulders and slammed me back into the wall. I didn’t even think. If I had thought, I would have decided that my next action was pointless and stupid, but luckily I didn’t think. I just brought my knee up as hard as I could. Spike noticed at the last second and threw himself to the side, but I still got in a good enough hit to take him to the ground with me falling on top of him. Spike growled as he pushed up, and I did something I’d never done before: I gave the hyena free rein.

I let the hyena instinct guide me as I reached down and bit Spike on the shoulder as hard as I could, which turned out to be hard enough to break the skin and I suddenly had the taste of blood in my mouth. Oh, I’ve tasted blood before: the pig, the second pig, and a little incident senior year that I’ve sworn to never share even with Willow. This, however, was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. This blood was had more zing to it than blood should. It tasted stronger, and as I fed, I could feel my cock harden, a response that didn’t lessen when Spike dug his own teeth into my shoulder and the pulling sensation seemed to reach down through my body so that I felt it everywhere. It was like that pulling a scab when it hurts but it’s just so damn good you can’t stop, and boy I didn’t want to stop. At least not until it occurred to me that this was Spike as in evil and vampire and hating me.

I yanked my shoulder back and the sight of Spike in game face with my blood on his face really shouldn’t look so damn good, and again I’m blaming my hyena for my sudden lack of taste because I’m supposed to be turned on by Seven of Nine and Buffy and cheerleaders, and not a demon covered in blood. And oh god, I just drank vampire blood. I just bit a vampire and sucked vampire blood. I just attacked a vampire and loved drinking the blood. Oh yeah, irony pokes its evil little head up again. I started backing up, and Spike practically sprang up after me as I retreated, and I really thought I was a goner from the look of hunger in his eyes. He leered and reached out to grab me, and I spun away while planting the heel of my hand right into the side of his face as hard as I could.

“You bloody git,” Spike snarled, and I kicked out only to find my leg caught in an inescapable grip as I suddenly found myself falling backwards. I heard my own head hit the wall shortly before my back hit the floor, and I lay there winded and dizzy as I tried to check in to see if my body was still all in working order. Before I’d had a chance to come up with a better plan than lying on the floor like a big dead fish, Spike was straddling me, his legs trapping my own, and oh god I am *so* not looking at our cocks lying side by side, and I will not notice how hard they are and I will not brag about the fact that mine looks a fraction larger than his and boy it sucks that I can’t even brag about that. I don’t think Buffy is ready for me to tell her that I’ve compared my fully erect penis to Spike’s as they lay side by side, and hey, was Spike talking?

“Are you even listenin’?” Spike demanded, and I dragged my gaze up to his face. Trying to focus that far away made my vision go funny what with the multiple Spikes that sort of wavered in the center of my vision and just how hard had I hit my head, anyway?

“No,” I answered truthfully and he got that frustrated expression my father always got when trying to explain algebra…that’s why I went to Willow. She has one heck of a resolve face, but that woman has no impatience face. She actually has no end of patience, as I proved over and over as she got me through math class. Spike on the other hand has a very limited supply of the stuff. “It’s what happens when you knock someone’s brains out,” I added as Spike obviously struggled for words. I paused, looking up at him. “Did that even hurt you at all?”

“It didn’t hurt me enough to keep me from slammin’ ya into the wall again if ya don’t start listenin’ to me.” Uh oh. That thick accent meant that Spike was pissed. He used to get that tone in his voice when he cursed out that one character on Passions.

“I didn’t abandon you to the pep’tuil demon…”

“Ah-huh,” I protested weakly as the three Spikes swimming in my vision started gathering into one solid form. Dr. Pimples…he was the biggest sadist, I bet he turned the damn chip down.

“Bloody listen!” Spike snarled and I suspected that my attention had wandered again, but hey…head injury here. “Pep’tuil are harmless as long as ya don’t bother them; they use those soddin’ huge tusks of theirs to pull up roots. They’re from the Irerth dimension and you can walk a couple of feet from where they’re feedin’ and be safe as houses as long as you don’t threaten them. Two of us would’ve been a threat, so I tried to get out of the way so the beast didn’t feel like it had to attack.”

“You didn’t just leave me?” The minute the words were out of my mouth I wanted to suck them back in because they just sounded so damn needy. Besides, what was Spike going to say? ‘You caught me, I’m bloody lyin’, I’m so ashamed of myself.’ Okay, that wasn’t going to happen, and I didn’t know enough about demons to know whether he was telling the truth or not. After all, he kept winning all those kittens in his poker games, so he was obviously good with the lying, and besides, I really *wanted* to believe Spike, which made me suspect my own judgment.

“Didn’t leave ya. Already got the Initiative on my arse, don’t need the Slayer comin’ after me for lettin’ her donut boy get eaten.” I know, dozens if not hundreds of people have called me Donut Boy, Cordelia so many times that I should be used to it by now, but hearing Spike say those words opened a hole in my chest that hurt so bad I actually had to look down to see if he’d done something like open a hole in my chest. Told ya, hyena made me want things I had no right wanting, and wanting Spike was just going to end in chest opening pain if not actual chest opening injury. He obviously saw me as the loser; I wonder if Spike would have gotten a hard on by sucking his warm human blood out of a bag? And oh shit, how was I supposed to explain mine? Not that there was anything to explain right now since my cock was apparently sensitive to comments of the donut boy variety.

“Whatever, so either eat me or get off me,” I finally said, and even I was shocked by the hatred in my voice. I braced myself for the strike and the bite, but instead Spike stood up so that he straddled my body, and I had a rather interesting view of his entire groin area from the thighs up. And what a fine piece of equipment it was too, but I wasn’t ever going to be invited to play, so all I wanted was for him to go away.

Rather than try to fight him, I just turned to my side so I was facing the wall. Spike stood there for a moment, no doubt reminding me of my place in the food chain now that he had a longer leash, and my hyena whined in need.

Finally Spike stepped away to his own side of the cage, and I scooted closer to the wall. Yep, low-status male rank for me, so take up at little space as possible, try to please everyone else, and ignore my own needs. I knew how to play this game. The hyena however made unhappy noises in my brain. A male shouldn’t be over her; *Spike* shouldn’t be over her. Spike should be under her, and I really tried to ignore the various naughty positions she suggested. Damn it, she was going to break my cock doing this inflating-deflating act. Boy, that’d be hard to explain to a doctor. ‘Hey doc, I think I broke my cock because the primal hyena inside my head and I keep having this disagreement over a local vampire.’ Yeah, I don’t think my medical insurance covers the loony bin, at least not for the length of time they’d throw me in there.

I heard Spike make an unhappy noise of his own, but then he really didn’t have anything to be unhappy about, so whatever. Okay, maybe he had a thing or two that might make him unhappy what with the whole captured thing, but hey, no one was ripping his heart out, although right then I would have tried if someone would have loaned me a dull butter knife. Since that wasn’t an option, I just wanted to be left alone. Of course the scientists chose that exact moment to lower in the latest version of Miss Piggy. Eww…bad image. I had a sudden flash of me ripping the synthetic stuffing out of a wide-eyed puppet pig as I stuffed the cottony material into my mouth. Well, that’s one show off the rerun list of goodness.

I heard Spike and Miss Piggy making the typical pig-killing noises: squealing, cursing, sucking. The pig did the squealing; Spike did the cursing and sucking.

“Here,” Spike said as he kicked my back. Okay, it might have been more of an emphatic tap with a foot, but still I wasn’t in the mood for rude foot action.

“Go away,” I suggested, and then closed my eyes as I realized the stupidity of the request.

“Stop sulking like a prat and eat,” Spike insisted, and I just continued to lie on the floor. “Bloody get up and eat.” This time Spike snapped his command, and I felt myself dragged upright by my arm.

“Knock it off, witless,” I snapped back as I turned to him in time to see the tightening at his eyes that suggested he was in pain. Served him right; he left finger shaped bruises on my arm and my whole shoulder ached from his manhandling.

“Eat.” Spike thrust a meaty rib at me, and I’d opened my mouth to refuse when I just froze. The meat. I stood transfixed by the meat. The hyena was practically howling her hunger and frustration, and I finally couldn’t take it, so I grabbed the meat from Spike and then turned my back to him.

“Wanker,” Spike said behind me, but at least he left me alone. “Thank you Spike for providin’ food since I’m too big of a nancy-boy to kill it for myself,” Spike said in a nasally sing-song, and it took me a second to realize he was imitating me. Yeah, I thought it was about time for the mockery to start—one donut boy comment would never be enough for Spike to get out his frustrations. The hyena growled at the thought that Spike considered her too weak to hunt, but I had pushed her down far enough to ignore her complaints. Spike just kept right on with his little comedy act.

“‘You’re welcome. S’only right since we’re in this together.’ ‘Well I just want to express my gratitude for giving me food and making sure the demon pig didn’t eat me and for putting up with my shitty attitude.’ ‘No problem mate, know how it goes when you’re down.’” Spike finished his little sarcastic conversation with himself and then the cell went silent except for the sounds of my eating. I had nearly finished the rib, and I swallowed hard. It was difficult to get the pork down with all the crow I was about to eat.

“Thank you,” I nearly whispered, and really I hoped Spike had fallen asleep. No such luck.

“You’re welcome. Need ta get your strength up, mate.”

“You mean the demon’s strength?” I asked. I knew full well what Spike wanted: a partner in any escape attempt. I had to remind myself not to need more from a creature who wouldn’t give more.

“You’re a Primal; they’re strong and bloody good in a fight. You need to feed and let that fighting spirit out some. We need as much help as we can get here.”

“Right.” That word came out more bitter than I had expected, but I really couldn’t miss the irony of Spike wanting me as an escape partner and not wanting me in any of the ways that really count. But then again, I was the Zeppo and he… well, he was Spike.

I tossed the empty bone and curled up in my corner to have an nice long talk with my hyena about what was possible and what wasn’t because I didn’t care if both of us lusted after Spike, I wasn’t going to play bottom boy for yet another person who only thought I was good for fetching pastries. Hyena and I kept arguing that over until I finally fell asleep.


Part 5

“I do believe I’ve won our little bet.”

“You had an unfair advantage with your history in Section 15,” a nasally voice responded, and I groaned under my breath- great, another visit from Dr. Pimples and Dr. Pencil Neck. “The vampire’s superior strength made the assignment of dominance a rather easy task,” the first bragged, and here we go back to the land of the circle jerk. I wondered if the other scientists got as tired of this as I did. Of course, if they did, one of their colleagues would have put strychnine in the coffee long ago.

“So, did you finish the tests on seventeen?” the second voice asked, and I perked up my ears without actually perking my ears or perking anything else since I was trying to be all stealthy with the fake sleep.

“Oi, you lot mind holding down the noise before I go get the super?” Spike complained from the other side of the room, and yep, there went the stealth. With a heavy sigh I sat up and looked through the glass at the two men who had tried their best over the past… god, who knows how long we’ve been in here, but anyway they’ve tried to turn me into a pin cushion, an ashtray, an electrical circuit, and any number of other things the human body was never meant to be. Well, not unless you're into kinkier stuff than I am because the blood from my last fight with Spike was about as kinky as I got, and oh god, don’t think about the blood. Too late. I squirmed as my cock filled again, and I almost felt sorry for whatever scientist was in charge of coming up with a theory to explain my amazingly headstrong body part.

The scientists ignored Spike and continued their conversation. “Yes, I did think it was a waste of time to repeat the same tests we’ve conducted on two dozen other vampires, but Dr. Childs did insist on being thorough given the subject’s aberrant behavior. Have you finished with 223?”

“No, not yet. I do wish I could keep 17 around a while longer though. 223 has exhibited more deviant pathology since being housed with 17.” As the words sunk in, I turned to look at Spike. I don’t know what I expected to see, but his face had gone emotionless so that he appeared to be utterly indifferent to the two scientists who were talking about not keeping Spike around, and I really didn’t have any illusions about them retiring Spike to the Old Vamps Home. As I watched the scientists consult some numbers on their charts I felt an overwhelming urge to rip their guts out. Well, actually I felt an overwhelming urge to rip out their guts and then eat them, but I’m trying to stay in denial about that second part for as long as possible.

“When will you take 17 down to Disposal?” Dr. Pimples asked as calmly as if he were talking about the weather rather than talking about destroying Spike. I mean, yes, he’s annoying and snarky, and a giant pain in the ass, but he’s a pain in the ass with a personality and hopes and desires and frustrations, and a good 80% of all those things that make us human. Destroying him was like…okay, it was like staking a vampire which I personally did as often as possible, but I *knew* this vampire and staking him just wasn’t an option.

“After 17 has been disposed of, where will you be transferred?” Dr. Pimples asked, and I realized I had just missed a rather important answer because I was too busy growling at the two scientists who stood inches from a very slow and painful death. Hyena were actually rather famous for playing with their food, not that these guys were food because calling people food was very, very wrong in the getting you locked up for the rest of your life kind of way.

“I hope to get a transfer to Aberrations permanently,” Dr. Pencil Neck responded.

“Oh, that would be nice; I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed working with you.” Okay, I just couldn’t take it any more. I couldn’t take their callous discussion of Spike’s death…well, Spike’s dusting, what with the whole already being dead thing. I was sick of their insensitivity, casually arranging Spike’s “disposal” right in front of us. I was sick of their constant tap dancing around each other when they obviously just wanted to get it on. I think my next comment may have actually qualified as a snap.

“Oh for God’s sake I am so sick of hearing you two suck up to each other. Either rip each other’s clothes off and start fucking like horny weasels or shut the fuck up,” I snarled without even bothering to stand up. Both scientists froze in place, but Spike’s instant deep laugh rang down the halls. I turned to see Spike leaning against the wall laughing so hard that little tears appeared in the corner of his eyes, and if the joke wasn’t that funny, I wasn’t going to call him on it. If I’d lived through a hundred and twenty years of Angelus and Darla and revolutions and massacres and hunters just to get taken out by geekoids like these, I’d be approaching hysterical too.

“Bloody hell, whelp. Didn’t know you had it in you,” Spike finally commented as the two scientists bustled off in a chorus of ‘hrumphs’ and ‘well reallys’.

“Sick of listening to them,” I said with a shrug.

Spike paused and looked over at me. “Seem to have a problem there, mate.” I glanced down at myself down and really, I couldn’t exactly deny what he said, what with the fully erect cock that all but bobbed between my legs.

I dropped my face into my hands, sighing. “Fine, just get the insults over with…what’s it going to be today? Do you want to point out how I’m not really a man since I’m Buffy’s butt monkey even though she treats me like the party guest that no one wants around? Or maybe you’d like to point out my lack of non-humiliation jobs. Say, how about the time I had to dress up like a hot dog to advertise the new hotdog-on-a-stick booth? With all the pork on the hoof around here lately, that should be good for a laugh or two.”

Yep, when all else fails it’s full babble ahead for the Xan-man.

I absolutely refused to look at Spike because I didn’t want to see the mocking expression. Of course I also felt like the biggest heel in the world for picking a fight after the latest bombshell, but at least I managed to bite my own tongue before making chipped vampire jokes, which means for me the day was actually a diplomatic success. Yeah, I know, I’m pathetic. Thank god no one ever relied on me for my diplomacy skills, because that’s a big no on the ‘Xander being tactful’ front. Hell, my tactful scale went from “blatantly insulting” to “obliviously rude”. Yep, that was about my range.

“Bloody hell, not sayin’ anything of the sort, ya wanker. Ya really aren’t very good at hearin’ what I’m actually sayin’, are ya?”

“Nope, and that would be why my third grade teacher wanted me to repeat the grade. However if you have a new one to add…maybe something about how I can’t take care of myself or hunt my own food, you just go right ahead and jump in here.”

“Pet, look at me.” The gentleness of his voice surprised me and I looked up before I could even catch myself. Spike was squatted down like he so often did, but of course the whole lack of jeans thing meant that his squat was so much more interesting than when he did it on patrol, which was of the good, because if Spike squatted like this on patrol with his danglies all dangling I would definitely get eaten by something. Hell, I might not even notice getting eaten. I would just die happy looking at Spike’s cock. His fully engorged cock. His beautiful head poking out of the foreskin with a single drop of precum just gathering at the slit, and oh my god. Okay, unless he had done something really kinky on the other side of the room without me hearing, there was no reason at all for him to have that response. However, my own inflating, deflating wonder, which had deflated during my tirade, was now inflating again at the sight of Spike so hard and needy.

“Spike?” I asked uncertainly even as my body made some rather salacious suggestions.

“Right; I know the Primal’s doing some hijacking there, and you’re safe as houses, Xander. You’re a great bloody pain in my arse, but ya tried to protect me, which is more than most anyone else, so thanks mate.” I sat, stunned and still trying to understand the first half of Spike’s statement when it occurred to me that he was saying goodbye. No no no. I was not going to let him get away, not when I’d just figured out something important. At least, I thought I had just figured out something important. Either I’d figured something out or I was about to make the biggest fool out of myself in the long history of Xander Harris’ making a fool of himself.

“Wait, Spike, you think the Primal’s the one who’s… well… yeah, you know what I mean.”

“You’re a soddin’ adult, Harris. You’re allowed to say the big bad naughty words now.” I felt myself blush deeply.

“Fine, you think the Primal is the one who’s lusting after you.”

“Not like I can help noticin’ the conflict of opinion there.” Spike gestured toward my groin, and I blushed even deeper. Who knew I had this much blood for my cock with enough left over for every square inch of my body to turn beet red?

“Not planning to jump you, so you can just relax,” he finished calmly. Oh, I so totally wasn’t even worried about him jumping me, that wasn’t the real danger, I thought as I started to smile. Right now I was thinking he had a lot more to worry about than I did what with my whole jumping Spike fantasy that now started running on in my head. Knowing what Spike looked like naked really did make the naughty fantasies a whole lot more interesting.

I took a deep breath. “It’s not the Primal, Spike.”

“Wot?” Spike had that wonderfully cute confused-as-hell expression: head cocked to one side with his brows beetled together.

“Primal wants sex… can’t say that she really cares where it comes from. Last time she came out to play I liked Buffy, so the Primal chased after Buffy and tried to take her as a mate. This time, I like you, so the Primal keeps trying to push me into… you know.” I just couldn’t look Spike in the eye and admit my fantasies including throwing him to the ground and pinning him down until he showed me his neck and yielded to my claim. Oh god, I almost broke my cock at just the thought of that. Ow.

“Well that’s a bloody insult,” Spike nearly whispered, and that took care of my cock problem right away. Yeah, I should have known he’d be insulted at the lust of the donut boy, but I hadn’t thought that even Spike would be rude enough to say it. Okay, I had thought it, but I had hoped he would have at least some courtesy, like not saying it in front of god knows how many scientists who would now know that William the Bloody was insulted by the attentions of Xander Harris, Zeppo extraordinaire, and hey, did I just miss something?

“…like me has no business chasin’ after Slutty the Vampire Lay-er. I mean really, I’m a hell of a lot sexier than that bony twat.”

“Huh?” Okay, so that was a yes, I obviously missed something important.

“I *said*,” Spike gave an exaggerated sigh as he looked me in the eye, “anyone who has the good sense to fancy me has no business goin’ for Slutty.”

“What, you mean you aren’t insulted that I…” I stopped when I saw the eyebrow go up.

“Okay, fine I’m being stupid, but I really think I need to know where I stand here,” I said as I stood up and crossed my arms. Spike mirrored my actions on the opposite side of the room as he stood. Oh god, stop looking at his cock I ordered myself. When my eyes wandered up to his face, I would see that sly, amused expression he sometimes got when he knew something that no one else did. Okay, I think I could assume I wasn’t being subtle with the whole cock-staring thing.

“Fine, from where I’m standing I want to throw you down on the floor, feel you writhe under me as I lick the sweat from your body and then slam my cock into you so deep that you beg me to make ya whole.” Spike looked straight at me as he said it, and I couldn’t help but let the hyena up a little to meet the challenge; I felt my vision shift as the hyena surfaced. Then I suddenly found myself looking at a game-faced Spike.

“I don’t think you can do it,” I told him. “I think it’s more likely that you’ll be laying under me, begging me for my cock right before I fuck you into a quivering mass of need and frustration, never letting you actually come until you yield to me,” I answered, shocked at my own mouth, and hoping Spike’s last act wouldn’t be to tear my tongue out of my mouth for even having the fantasy in my head much less the temerity to say it to him. Spike started growling, and I growled back as he stepped toward me, but somehow I just knew physical harm wasn’t on the agenda although physical action might be. Rather than retreat, I stepped forward so that we were chest to chest, and I used my height to look down on him.

“Don’t think ya have it in ya,” Spike said with a snarl, but it didn’t scare me at all. In fact, I was very close to throwing Spike down and fucking him like a cheap whore right in the cell, cameras or no cameras, scientists or no scientists. However not all my luck had changed because at that moment I felt the tranq hit my thigh. Spike looked down at the tuft of synthetic fur decorating his own tranq dart before he looked back up at me.

“Sorry we won’t have the chance ta find out, pet.” Spike’s legs collapsed and he went to the ground like a sack of cement, the only ungraceful move I’ve ever seen him make. It took me a moment to realize that I’d fallen to the ground myself. I expected the abyss to take me, to pull me into the nothingness, but at the same time I fought it. They were going to take Spike; cowards who wouldn’t even face him were going to take him and kill him. I struggled to keep my eyes open just far enough to see his face as he lay crumpled next to me.

I didn’t even notice the unfamiliar grinding noise until a black boot stepped in between me and Spike so that my vision was filled with the boot of the thing that was going to take Spike…kill Spike….turn my mate into dust. Mate? Yeah, we may not have worked out the details, but the challenge had been issued, and he had responded. I reached into myself, and I didn’t just allow the hyena to come up, I pulled at her. I could feel the drug dragging me toward oblivion as I struggled to make my limbs answer, and I found myself praying to be able to find the strength to do one thing right in my life. I promised to forgive myself for every mistake I’d ever made if I just did this one thing. Staking Jesse, falling asleep on Oz-watch, the whole clothing fluke, thinking that magic made for a good post-breakup revenge, poor Cordy falling through those stairs: I’d forgive myself every stupid thing I’d ever done if I could just not screw this up. If I failed Spike… well I just wasn’t going to even think about that. I couldn’t bear it. Not now.

The drug clouded my eyesight as the boots faded to gray, and I struggled to stay awake as I opened myself up and pulled the hyena into me. No more her versus me, no trading off time in the body, no negotiation, just one merged creature strong enough to fight the drug and save the mate. I opened myself totally, both surrendering to and commanding the hyena, and she surged forward in triumph just as I began to lose my grip on consciousness. The world tilted dangerously, and I actually had to throw my hand out to steady myself which really was kinda stupid since I was laying on the ground so the chances of me falling were not so good. Luckily the guards didn’t notice, but then I was just the Zeppo; I wasn’t the dangerous one. Yeah, I think they missed a memo there somewhere because I suddenly didn’t feel like a Zeppo.

My eyesight cleared and sharpened as two uniformed soldiers bodily hauled Spike off the floor and dropped him on a gurney. A white-coated tech had just fastened the first strap when I boiled up from the floor and darted out of the cell before the soldiers could lock me in again. The hyena’s power and rage pounded through my body as I grabbed one soldier and cleanly snapped his neck before I even realized what I was doing. That sounds like an excuse, but I didn’t need an excuse for taking out these men who tortured and killed without remorse or pity. They were as evil as demons, almost worse in way because these were humans who were supposed to have souls.

Anyway, I hardly knew what I was doing with blind instinct taking over, and the other soldier didn’t realize what I had done either because he turned with his buddy’s name on his lips and then stood frozen for that critical second as I reached forward. He grabbed for his gun, and my left hand went down to trap the weapon in the holster even as the scientist-techie screamed and took off running down the hall.

Realizing that I didn’t have much time, I slammed the soldier’s head against the wall hard enough to either stun him or crush his skull, I’m not sure which. This time it was my turn to freeze- part of me wanted to chase down the fleeing white-coat prey, and another part wanted to just grab the mate and escape.

Deciding that I really didn’t have time to stop the alarm from being raised, especially with two bodies lying in the hallway for anyone to see, I grabbed Spike up and threw him over my shoulder and ran for the exit sign, and god please let these soldiers be anal retentive enough for the exit to actually be an exit. And should they really have big glowing exit signs in a demon prison? Are there building codes for secret government torture labs?

I slammed through the door a half second behind the blaring alarm, but I just started climbing stairs with Spike thrown over my shoulder, and damn, look at all those stairs, I told myself as I considered the nearness of that sexy butt dimple. My arm gripped his firm waist, his hips and legs bounced against the front of my body as I ran, and who knew how lickably soft a vampire’s skin could be? I thought being regular teenager made me horny enough, but the hyena’d up me? Very, very horny. Horny and naked and holding a naked Spike which sounds pretty damn tasty, until you consider all the soldiers out to kill us.

I could hear steps pounding down the stairs from above so I took the first door off the stairs into a level that was all white doors and hallways… big surprise there. These people seriously needed to hire a decorator. A desperate giggle rose in my throat at a sudden mental image of the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” boys tut-tutting as they swished around the labs. Right, so not gonna happen. And so not helping me and Spike right now. And how the hell was I carrying a passed out Spike up stairs without even breaking a sweat? And oh god, I had just completely lost my mind as I thought as I stood in the middle of the Initiative trying to figure out what to do.

Just then a familiar scent hit my nose, and I turned my head to the left, nostrils twitching, and how weird was that? I really couldn’t even figure out what I was smelling since the whole sniffing the air thing was kinda new for me, and oh god, was that wonderful smell Spike? I glanced at the ass draped over my shoulder and had an overwhelming urge to mate, but then he wasn’t conscious, and doing the not moving dead guy…so not a good mental image. And really, I should probably be thinking of escape, so back to the familiar smell…anything familiar in this place was of the good. Taking a quick sniff to get a location, I turned to the left. Shifting Spike’s limp body higher up on my shoulder, I took off down the left hallway, turning at the second hallway on the left and then again at the third hallway on the left, and how big was this place anyway? Shouldn’t someone have noticed the government digging a frikkin’ city under the frikkin’ city?

I had just taken another turn when I skidded to a halt as a door opened and the familiar smell snapped into my memory like a rubber band that breaks and hits you right between the eyes.



Part 6

“Xander? What th… What are you…” You know, you’d think that crack commando teams would be, I don’t know, more crack. First the guy who didn’t even react to me until I’d bashed his head against the wall and now Riley with the stammering thing, and I was starting to think that these people were not getting their money’s worth on the whole commando front. Riley must have realized just how wrong things looked what with me being naked and Spike being naked and me touching a naked Spike because his hand went to his sidearm, and I reached out and grabbed his wrist as I pushed him back into the large room he was trying to leave. I could already tell from the smell that there weren’t any other people in there, and one hiding hole looked pretty much like any other. Of course, if I couldn’t get the brain to work a little better, a hiding hole wasn’t going to actually help us for long. Following my nose…brilliant plan for dogs, not so good for people. I gotta remember that next time.

“Xander what are you doing here?” Riley finally finished a complete sentence as I dropped Spike to the ground and tightened my grip on Riley’s hand. Spike might wake up bruised, but at least he would wake up.

“Where else should I be, Riley?” I asked him right back as his eyes tightened in pain even thought he wouldn’t loosen his hold on the gun.

“Seattle.” Okay, that threw me.

“Why would I be in Seattle?” I asked, and I was so surprised at that answer that my grip loosened and Riley took that opportunity to try his moves. To his credit, the moves were good with a slide to the side with a blow with his free hand to the inside of my elbow. Two weeks ago, the move would have worked. Hell, ten *minutes* ago the move would have worked. However, I was just starting to figure out that I was a good deal stronger now.

So, my elbow only bent slightly even as I grabbed Riley’s free hand and put enough pressure on the inside of his arm using my finger tips that he gasped. Of course the gasping was a little less important than the letting go of his gun part, and I quickly reached across his body and grabbed the weapon before backing up a step.

“And again, why would I be in Seattle?” I asked him as I trained the weapon his head. I didn’t plan to actually shoot him, well not unless he did something stupid like breathe or look at me wrong.

“You got that construction job supervising the site. You called Buffy last night,” Riley said even as he rubbed his sore arm and looked at me in a way that made it clear that given a chance he’d break my neck, which was fine by me because he wasn’t getting the chance.

“Never happened,” I said as I backed up some to look down the aisles in a locker room. Yep, lockers. I don’t know what I was expecting, but an elevator with the words “Secret Escape Route” would have been nice. “Where is everyone?” I asked as I realized that the scent of wet hair and male sweat was still fresh in my nose.

“They’re responding to the alarm, which I have to assume is for you.” Riley’s voice suddenly dropped into a more friendly tone, and I immediately turned all my attention back to him. I’m not stupid enough to think Riley would be friendly to me without some ulterior motives what with the hating him and taking him hostage and making fun of him to Buffy. Some guys get cranky about stuff like that. “You’re nowhere near an exit here, Xander. Whatever reason you have for saving the vampire, just look at this logically. You’re in the Initiative and every exit will be covered by now. You need to just give me the gun and let me take Spike into custody.” Um, okay, as far as arguments went that stank… even I could come up with a better argument than that.

“And then you’ll let me go back to Seattle where I have the wonderful construction job?’ I asked sarcastically.

“Exactly,” Riley agreed with such honesty that I realized he could never fake that level of concern. Say what you want about Riley, he wasn’t a liar. Even when he wanted to lie he sort of sucked at it, like worse than me sucked, and I haven’t been able to keep a secret from Willow since second grade. Well, other than the one, and that doesn’t really count since I was lying to myself most of the time. Told myself that the hyena was going away and didn’t really bother me, and I don’t think I can believe that anymore since I could now feel the hyena needs not at a tingling in the back of my mind but as part of Me. Very of the creepy making. I looked at Riley again, seeing him not as an Initiative soldier but as one more sap in the middle of a giant pile of demon poo.

“Well this is ironic, but then that term has been popping into my mind quite a bit lately,” I said to Riley who looked at me as I if I’d slipped off my gears. Maybe I had.

“Xander,” he said in that tone of voice that psychologists on TV use to try and talk someone out of jumping off a building.

“It seems like I know something about the Initiative you don’t. They’re following a new mission statement, and someone forgot to give you the memo.” Riley looked at me suspiciously and then glanced toward the door as footsteps pounded past.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Xander, but the fact is that Spike is a hostile… even if he is harmless, he needs to be destroyed. It’s us versus them. Humans versus demons.”

“Well, the Initiative seems to have redefined humanity and Willow and Tara and I don’t fit into their new definition. I’m sure Buffy and Giles will be following soon, and then who knows, maybe you’ll lose your pure human card for sleeping with a slayer.” With a shudder I realized just how ugly this was about to get. Giles never talked about the whole demon community in Sunnydale, but me plus bored had equaled following him on more days than I care to admit, and he had some pretty interesting friends and business partners, and I *knew* Giles wouldn’t work with people who were dangerous. Well, he wouldn’t work with people who were dangerous in the actively killing people kind of way. Like that tiny old woman with skin that would go all bluish when she was arguing prices with Giles, that wasn’t very damn human, but I couldn’t see the government dragging some 90 year old woman or demon or whatever she was into a lab. Some things are just wrong, even when it comes to demons.

“Xander, someone’s obviously said something to confuse you…” Riley interrupted my thoughts.

“Confuse me?” I asked, indignant. For once, I knew I was right and knew for a fact I *wasn’t* confused which was a new feeling for me. I hovered on the edge of hysteria and I tried to swallow down the fear and the pain and the helplessness until a time when I could feel all those things without some soldier taking advantage of the moment to throw me back in a cage.

“I’ve never been to Seattle, Riley, but I’ve been to a few interesting places around here.” I held out my arm. A dozen track marks wandered up until they faded into the thickest part of my bicep, a strip of still healing pink skin a half inch wide and two inches long covered the area just above my elbow on the inside, and the wrist had faint burn marks. I had grown used to these injures earned one at a time but as I watched Riley’s face pale, I looked down and realized that the arm was a roadmap of torture that left my stomach feeling knotted and heavy.

“Oh shit.” Wow, managed to make Riley speechless. But I had more important fish to fry.

“You told them that Willow and Tara were going on a Wicca retreat this weekend…have they gone?”

“Xander, it’s only Thursday,” Riley said in a ‘what an idiot’ tone of voice, and maybe the hyena made me more cool because my old reaction would have been to splutter and protest and babble, but instead I just looked at him with my best imitation of the patented Spike one-eyebrow-up expression. He glanced at me, did a double take, and then his face sort of melted into this expression of embarrassment. And there’s another shout out to irony because I was usually doing the blushing and wishing the hell mouth would open thing, and I wondered if my normal expression looked at stupid as Riley’s did right now.

“But I guess you don’t know the day,” he said softly. I should have just let it go and kept doing the cool silent thing, but the hyena’s powers were obviously too limited to overcome the Xander dork factor entirely.

“No duh, ya think so?” I asked, realizing a minute too late that I had just left the land of cool with that statement. However, it must have been the right thing to say because Riley shook his head and I could see the tension going out of him even though I still had the gun trained on him.

“It really is you.” He said with a sort of sad wonder, and I felt partially relieved that I had won at least part of the battle and partially offended because Xander Harris with a gun was not worthy of relaxing around. I’m big, I’m bad, and I’m dangerous, damn it! He should’ve been terrified of what I would do in my righteous anger about my treatment. Instead he turned his back to me and went over to the door without a word, and HEY—guy with the gun here. I was just about to point out that hostages really shouldn’t be checking the hall without at least ASKING the hostage taker, but after he stuck his head into the hallway, he pulled it back in and asked me a question before I could get my indignant thoughts together.

“How did you know about the girls if it wasn’t you that called Buffy and Willow last night?” Riley asked, and yeah, it hurts that the girls couldn’t even tell the difference between me and some Initiative poseur. I tried really hard not to be utterly offended.

“I knew because two of the scientists were discussing them. The Initiative is planning on waiting until they get on the road and then bringing them back here for ‘study’.” I made the little air quotes in the air with one hand while the other still held the gun steady.

“But our mission doesn’t…” Riley just stopped mid sentence, and I watched a number of expression cross his face in lightening flashes, and it made me glad not to be a lightning rod because his last few expressions were filled with fury and determination. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter; what matters is getting you out of here and letting Buffy know what’s going on.”

“Spike too,” I hurried to point out

“Xander, we don’t have …”

“When are you planning on getting the message: Initiative, bad…Initiative, bad… Initiative, bad. I’m not leaving Spike in here.”

“Okay Xander, calm down.” I would have told Riley what to do with his calm but just then I heard a soft moaning sound and I lowered the gun to point at the floor while I knelt next to a waking Spike.

“Did they take you together?” Riley asked, and I wondered what the hell difference that made. Captured is captured.

“Soddin’ unfair, I shouldn’t have to put up with Captain Cornfed even if I am in hell,” Spike groaned and I tried to stifle a hysterical giggle. He was okay enough to complain, which was of the good.

“Whatever, just stay out of my way,” Riley snapped as he walked past us and went to the lockers, and again with the HEY! Guy with the gun here! But Riley ignored my indignant expression, or rather he didn’t notice because he didn’t bother to look, and I nearly snarled when something touched my arm. Looking down I realized that Spike had put a hand on my arm and was looking at me a little strangely.

“Not worth it, pet,” he said even as he started to pull himself up. What? I would asked him what the hell he was talking about except I really didn’t want to look even more clueless in front of Riley who was pissing me off to a level I had never experienced pissed offness before.

"Here, put these on," Riley said as he tossed clothing at us; I caught the ugly brown shirt and started pulling it over my head. Spike’s snort was the first indication of a problem, and the fact I couldn’t get it all the way on was my second.

“Wanker,” Spike said without even a trace of our former animosity as he yanked the shirt off hard enough to make me yelp.

“Watch it blondie,” I snarled, perfectly willing to take my frustration in general out on Spike. I don’t know what I expected, but Spike leaning over to give me a quick kiss wasn’t it. Oh sure, I’d had plenty of fantasies about that, but those fantasies were still distant enough that you couldn’t really call them thoughts that crossed my mind. With the brown shirt still in hand, Spike just leaned in and pressed his soft, cool lips against my own, and in the space of one second, I was once again hormonally raging, and shit, Riley was in the room. Spike pulled back and slipped the shirt over his own head, and when his face reappeared, the smug expression on his face told me everything I needed to know.

“You asshole, what are you doing?” I demanded as I realized I now had a hard on that even Riley couldn’t ignore, and that boy seemed pretty capable of ignoring much of reality.

“Wot?” Spike asked with a flip of his eyebrow, and I heard a growl coming from me before I even realized that I was capable of the sort of full growl that I heard from Spike every time I used all the hot water.

“You did that on purpose.”

“Yep,” Spike agreed with a smile as he thrust a hideous green pair of slacks at me, and that was not the type of thrusting I wanted here.

“Asshole,” I repeated as I slipped the pants on and tried to get angry enough to make my hard on go away.

“Seem a bit obsessed with that word,” Spike pointed out, and I just snarled at him. A banging locker announced Riley’s imminent return, and yep, that took care of one problem right there. Spike was just pulling uniform pants on when Riley reappeared with two pair of boots.

“Put ‘em on,” Riley said before he went and checked at the door again.

“Really? Thought I might use ‘em for target practice. Stupid nit.” Spike snarled under his breath, but Riley was ignoring him too, so at least I didn’t feel singled out by Riley’s threat assessment of me that placed me somewhere between 5 year old girl and bunny rabbit. You’d really think I could get at least a little respect with the whole taking his gun thing, but nope. Since I obviously wasn’t winning the intimidation portion of the day’s festivities, I stuck the gun in a pocket and grabbed the shirt Spike held out.

Spike and I slipped on the boots, and with the addition of some stupid hats, we could almost pass as soldiers. Well, except for the bleach blond hair and the body odor and the way the clothes almost but didn’t quite fit. We were *so* going to die, but at least I had the pleasure of knowing we were taking Riley down with us.

“Okay, we’re going to try for the portal room. Give me the gun back.”

“Not a chance” and “What the soddin’ hell’s a portal room” came out at once.

“Will you two shut up before you get all three of us killed?” Riley hissed. Oh yeah, feeling a real desire to pull all his hair out by the roots now.

“I’m not giving you the gun back. I took it fair and square.” The minute the words came out of my mouth I realized that they only made sense in a hyena sort of way what with the strong taking whatever they were strong enough to keep. In human terms, that argument really didn’t work, but I wasn’t about to back down to Captain Cardboard.

“Xander, I’m not walking around with an empty holster; that screams hostage, so give me the gun.”

“Take off the holster,” I countered.

“Xander.” Great, now Riley was using that frustrated tone of voice my mother used when I didn’t clean my room, and I hated that tone from my mother, but from Riley it made me damn near homicidal.

“Bloody hell, you two can play ‘who has the bigger dick’ later, right now I just want out of this soddin’ hell hole.”

“You’re just…” Riley started, and I could tell from the expression on his face that he was about to say something I was going to have to kill him for.

“Riley,” I snapped louder than any tone I’d ever before used around the soldier, “I’m not giving you the gun so you can get rid of the holster or keep the holster or eat the holster, but you’re going in that hall without anything *in* the holster.” Riley actually stopped talking, which surprised me, and looked at me as if he’d never before seen me. He gave me that look that two guys in a bar give each other when they like the same girl. And yeah, the irony there wasn’t lost on me since my days of girl gazing had just come screeching to a halt if my cock’s reaction to Spike was any gauge. It’s not that I didn’t still think girls pretty, but after the whole Cordelia/Willow thing I tended to lust after one person at a time, which left me with one ex demon sized problem, but one disaster at a time. I’d just have to deal with Anya later and hope I got through with all my parts still attached. She’d had this whole Lorena Bobbitt altar thing that made me worry about her reaction— demon powers or no demon powers.

“Fine,” Riley finally said through clenched teeth as he went back into the lockers. One good slam later he came back without the holster, and he stormed past us into the hall without another word. I looked at Spike with my best ‘not my fault’ expression, but he just gave a quick snort and followed Riley out into the hall. Still worried about whether I had pushed Riley too far, I trailed the other two, my hand in my pocket where I wrapped my fingers around the butt of my gun.

The trip walking through the various hallways and passages all painted the same exact shade of white… one of the worst memories of my entire life, and I have a few really bad memories up there. However bug ladies and Angelus and bloodthirsty demons all together didn’t scare me as much as these humans who so coldly considered my death an acceptable loss in their little war. When Spike had been on the other side of the evil fence, he was just being Spike. Not that he was really on the not-evil side now. He was just on the vegetarian evil side of the fence, unless the upgrade put him back on the hunt, and I so don’t even want to consider that as a possibility. But back to the point, Spike was just following instincts that said humans were a food source. That wasn’t evil; it was just…creepy and predatory. But these scientists had no instinct to cut me up and use me like their bottom boy; they did it because they were curious or they enjoyed it or some combination of the two. *That* was evil.

“Now just be quiet and let me do the talking,” Riley said as we came to a stop outside one more door that looked exactly like every other door in this whole damn place.

“Like I want to talk to any of you wankers,” Spike said with a sneer, and I only hoped that Riley didn’t hear the nervousness in Spike’s voice. Of course anything that made Spike nervous left me wanting to collapse into a puddle on the floor. If asked, I would have sworn that my stomach actually did flop around a bit in my stomach, but I tried to keep a stoic face as I followed Spike and Riley into a large control room. God just please don’t let this be the place where Riley turned us in to the demon Nazis I thought as the door closed with a soft snick behind me.



Part Seven
There was only one tech in the lab, sitting at a computer that looked like a prop from the set of Star Trek: TNG with flashing things and glowing things and gauge things and a whole lot of other things that I also didn’t understand. I felt an urge to kill the tech, or at least injure him enough to make the room safe. Yeah, hyena power…not completely of the good obviously, since the tech was some poor kid just doing his job. Now Dr. Pencil Neck? Him I could kill. “Have you isolated target 337?” Riley asked, in the same bored tone of voice a person might use to discuss the weather.

“The portal isn’t quite stable enough yet, but the energy levels are rising and we expect to be able to send your team through at 22:30 hours, sir.” The techie’s words meant exactly zero to me, but from Spike’s expression, I was guessing this was not of the good, in an apocalypsey sort of way. Obviously portals meant something to him.

“I don’t want any screw-ups like with 213. Run the sequence now,” Riley ordered. The tech glanced over at me and Spike, and I tried to look like I belonged…I put on the blankest, stupidest face I could.

“Are they on your team?” the tech asked, and my inner soldier-self noted that he was being as pointed as he could be without being insubordinate.

“Jafo,” Riley whispered quietly enough that humans wouldn’t have heard from across the wide room. Then he snapped out a brisk, “Do your job, soldier.” Spike looked at me, and I nodded back reassuringly. Yep, that’s us, just another fucking observer or two, so go right ahead and ignore us, I thought at the tech. I didn’t think mind control was going to be one of my new powers, but hey, ya never know.

The tech’s fingers fiddled with a knob and pressed a button and typed in a series of commands and then fiddled more and pressed more and typed more, and whatever kind of portal he was opening was so very not user-friendly because that was entirely too many buttons to press. Thank god I hadn’t followed my instinct to get rid of one more white-coat, because then none of us would have been smart enough to figure out that machine.

That was Willow type techie stuff, and to be perfectly honest, none of us had Willow type brains.

“All systems are responding,” the tech finally announced.

“Power levels?” Riley demanded.

“37.2, Sir.”

“Excellent.” I have to give Riley credit here…he moved so fast that I didn’t know what he was planning until he had the tech in a choke hold. The panicked tech’s feet kicked at his chair so that it went skittering across the room and crashed into the far wall, and then his struggles became more and more sluggish as Riley put pressure on the side of his neck. Eventually the tech stopped moving and Riley lowered him to the floor.

“Time to go,” Riley announced as he turned a key and flipped a toggle switch that made a door slide open on the far side of the room.

“And where exactly would we be goin’ then?” Spike asked even as we both followed Riley into a huge empty room where purple and blue and black swirls were starting to form at the far end.

“L.A.” Riley said tensely and then the swirls suddenly came together into a giant whorl shape on the wall. And hey, I always though that classic Trek had really cheesy special effects, but ironically enough, the swirls growing on the far wall looked just like those time travel thingy from that Trek episode where Kirk has to let the love of his life get hit by that car, and let’s just hope it wasn’t some omen cause the whole lettin’ a loved one die thing….I so wasn’t going there. Of course, it might just be an omen that I really watched too many sci fi reruns. Before I could make a decision on that one, Riley walked forward right into the whorl and disappeared.

“So, we trust the wanker?” Spike asked as he turned to me. Yeah, like I had any answers.

“Any place is better than this,” I said with a shrug.

“Don’t say that, pet. There are places out there ya don’t want ta see.” Okay, I had been perfectly willing to walk into a wall before that, but Spike’s doubts made my heart jump, and we were back to anything that scared Spike turned me into a pile of jello. But just because my legs were jello didn’t mean I wouldn’t still go. Right. So go.

I stood and looked at the wall. Spike held out his hand and for a moment I resented the idea of being held by the hand like a child, but then he took a deep breath, and I realized that he was just as scared, probably more so if the whole forgetting he didn’t need to breathe thing was any indication. After all, he was putting his life in Riley’s hands, and great, now I made myself even more nervous. It’s hard to trust the guy who got ya locked up even if he didn’t mean to.

So, I put my hand in Spike’s and we walked forward into the vortex without making eye contact. It’s a guy thing; when doing something unguyly, it doesn’t count as long as we don’t make eye contact. It’s like women with ice cream—if they eat it out of the container it doesn’t have calories. Same theory of physics involved. And I have been hanging out with way too many girls because a guy simply should not have access to that line of logic.

I felt the cold rush of wind, which was funny because there wasn’t actually any wind, and then I dropped out into another room, and oh shit—Demon Central. Riley was already backed up against the wall brandishing a broken chair with two or three angry, bleeding demons circling him. I pulled the gun, Spike snarled menacingly, and the angry bleeding demons spread out a bit to take all of us into consideration.

“Riley?” I half asked, half accused in a slightly sharp tone of voice.

“Whoa there, no need for a Jean-Claude Van Damme impression from the newcomers,” a smiling green demon insisted as he pushed his way smoothly forward. His hands were up in the surrender position, but I didn’t let that distract me from aiming my gun between the demon’s little red horns. Riley seemed to have the same thought because he shifted stance to square off against the speaker.

“Hey, you said Caritas was safe,” a demon from the crowd complained, and that answered one question. We were on Caritas, and as soon as I got back to earth I was going to kill Riley for getting us lost. I’ll admit, I once ended up in Bakersfield instead of LA when I started driving because I got the whole north-south thing confused, but at least I never ended up on another frikkin’ world.

The green guy waved a dismissive hand and beamed a hospitable smile towards the heckler. “Darlings, Caritas is the sanctuary where you can let go of all your worries, this is just a little glitch in the magical programming. I’ll have it fixed faster than Samantha can twitch her pretty nose, but right now let’s all just put down our weapons. Durthock, I believe you promised me a Clint Black number,” and damned if he didn’t wink at a big hulking demon, and that’s when noticed the stage, and oh god, this was a hell dimension. I just knew hell would have karaoke.

“Now cutie, just put the gun down and get Billie there to stop snarling at the customers. Caritas doesn’t permit violence by demons and starting tomorrow, we won’t allow violence by humans either.” At first I thought he was talking to Riley because yeah, I did notice that Riley was kind of cute….stupid and way too willing to follow orders, but cute in a way I’m never again going to admit noticing.

Then I realized that he was looking at me what with me being the only one with a gun, and some demon did not just call me cute. What the hell was it with me and demons anyway? At the speaker’s urging, others started wandering back to the scattered tables to listen to a Clint Black song get mangled so bad that even I didn’t even recognize it. Since the guy did seem to have saved us from death by demon mob, I eventually slipped the gun back in my pocket. The green guy didn’t miss a beat, though; he turned with that perfect-host smile and said, “sweetie, guns aren’t allowed here at Caritas so either check it with the doorman or I’m going to have to throw your cute ass out.” He glanced at Riley and continued, “and you need to put the wood down. Too many demons in here have an intense aversion to sharp bits of wood.”

I snapped a quick look at Spike, unsure what to do, but he’d put on his carefully neutral expression. Was getting thrown out of a demon bar really such a bad thing? Of course there was the whole demon world out there, and it had to be pretty bad if demons were seeking sanctuary in here. Okay, decision suddenly pretty easy, here. I took the gun out of my pocket and handed it butt-first over to the demon.

“Harris!” Riley snapped, and I involuntarily flinched at the tone and then I involuntarily felt an overwhelming rage at being publicly questioned, and then I very voluntarily turned around to do what I had wanted to do since the first Initiative soldier had appeared in that cemetery where Spike and I had been captured: I swung my hardest punch at Riley’s head. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done that since the hyena meant I had the whole super-strength thing, and like Spiderman found out, super powers require super responsibility. But the man had told the Initiative where we hunted, and he had given information about the girls that was going to get the girls captured, and he had gotten us lost in some other dimension so I couldn’t save the girls, and I was just having a bad day. Somehow I didn’t feel bad at all about taking it out on Riley.

However, the day got worse when my punch somehow missed Riley altogether and I found myself launched backwards and landing in a table. Yes, *in*, as in I hit the table and then promptly used my ass to break the table so I landed *in* the broken remains. And Harris luck was running true to form because the sudden pain in my ass suggested that not all of the table stayed on the outside. And here comes Harris luck again because that was Riley ready for a counter attack with his own piece of chair. I suddenly had a whole new appreciation for Spike’s whole not being able to attack people thing. If I couldn’t attack Riley, Riley sure as hell shouldn’t be able to attack me, and yet here he came with his wood. It wasn’t fair, but that was just my luck, especially today.

“Listen you little shit, I just threw my career away to try and save Willow and Tara, but I’m perfectly happy to call the Initiative and tell them where your pet vampire is.” I heard Spike growl from behind him, but strangely enough Spike seemed to have more patience than I did because he didn’t try to knock Riley’s head off. And even more strangely, Riley ignored the growly vampire in favor of yelling at me. “I don’t know what’s going on with you and Hostile 17, but the more I see, the more I think you’d be better off if someone removed him from your life. When Buffy and Giles discussed keeping Hostile 17 at your house, I warned them that you were too impressionable to trust with a job like that, and I think you just proved my point. He’s gotten to you, Harris.”

You know how people talk about seeing red? I always thought that was a stupid expression. Really, who sees red literally? Well, I can tell you that I literally saw red as my hyena vision cut in to such an extent that the whole world was reduced to sepia tones with the warmblooded critters sort of a deeper reddish brown than the objects like tables or the unliving like Spike. I felt the growl from the bottom of my soul, and I pushed myself up. I wouldn’t lie on the floor with an enemy over me.

“Mate, think it’s time for you to be leaving,” I could hear Spike, but the reasonable tone of voice and lack of cursing didn’t quite seem very Spike-like. I started walking toward Riley, so angry I was almost vibrating. I expected him to go nose to nose with me, but he didn’t, he started backing up so fast that he stumbled into a table of tentacled demons playing cards…and were those Heinekens on the table? Did they have an Off-world Export Division? I shook my head as I looked around he room.

The karaoke machine was a Toshiba, the demon had been singing Clint Black, and the tables were all sized for humans despite the inhuman occupants. I turned to the green- skinned host who had just returned with a much larger demon, who looked like a big pile of rocks.

“Where are we?” I demanded, entirely too angry to play nice.

“You’re in Caritas, the sanctuary in the middle of the rough and tumble city of the angels.” Okay, for a half second I thought angels as in…well…angels. Then it occurred to me that the land of angels probably wouldn’t have demons, but the City of Angels had plenty. After all, Buffy’s own Angel had had gone to LA just to fight them.

“We’re in LA,” I said.

“And now that you have your bearings, it might be time for you to find some other place in LA to destroy. They have some nice bars about three blocks down on your right where the owners replace the furniture on a nightly basis. I’m sure Elashi can point them out.” The green demon gestured toward the huge brown beast at his side who started lumbering forward.

“Oi, we didn’t do anything, get rid of Captain America there,” Spike protested as he crossed his arms in an ‘I’m not moving’ gesture.

“You sure as hell have done something to Harris, and when we get back to Sunnydale, I’m going to make sure you pay for that,” Riley growled at Spike.

“Why are people talking about me like I’m not here?” I demanded, but only half-heartedly as I looked around at the demons playing cards and listening to horrible singing and clapping politely as the creature finished. Some of them looked close to human, maybe vampires or primals or half-breeds, which didn’t make them less dangerous, but just the idea of the Initiative taking them made my vision shift toward the browns and reds again. I shook it off and tuned back in: Spike and Riley were busy snapping at each other while the green guy talked about releasing negative energies. Great, a New Age demon. Just what I needed.

“You planned on capturing all these demons and sticking them in your labs,” I said to Riley right in the middle of Spike’s diatribe on Riley’s parentage.

“That’s confidential,” Riley immediately turned to face off with me, leaving Spike sort of spluttering to the side, and I sympathized because having an enemy turn its back on you was really infuriating. Again, Spike showed more patience than I had by simply turning his own back and storming over to the bar. From the looks of things, he was trying to intimidate the bartender out of a drink.

“No, that’s despicable,” I corrected Riley. “If you want to kill demons who are attacking people, I’ll stand on the side and cheer you, I’ll carry your ammo, I’ll give you a hand, but you’re planning on attacking demons who seem more interested in cards than apocalypses.” Yeah, and only a child of the Hellmouth would know the plural for “Apocolypse”.

“Wait a minute there, tall dark and grouchy, what are you talking about?” Green guy asked.

“The Initiative…a group of soldiers whose mission is to capture, experiment on, and kill all demons.” Okay, that got a few people’s attention. Several heads of various shapes, sizes, and colors turned my way.

“Harris, we need to get back to Sunnydale.” Riley put on his nice, reasonable tone. Yeah, I’d heard that before. Didn’t like it then, either.

“You’re right, we do. Because you gave the Initiative information on Tara and Willow, we have to save them, but that ‘we’ doesn’t include *you*.”

“So you’re going with him?” Riley nodded toward Spike, his tone dripping disgust and hatred in every syllable. Spike responded with a two-fingered salute.

“He’s more trustworthy than you are,” I pointed out.

“He’s a vampire, you can’t trust him.”

“I didn’t say he was trustworthy in the being willing to trust him, I said he was just more trustworthy than you,” I snapped back, and I was incredibly proud that I had managed to say all that without one babble, stumble or stutter.

“Okay, enough with the pissing contest, boys, there’s one sure way to solve this. Sing.” Wow, had I missed something? It sounded like the green guy wanted me to sing, which made sense of the ‘not even’ kind.

“What?” Riley demanded, and I silently seconded that even if I wasn’t about to publicly agree with anything the soldier said.

“It’s my gift. The name’s Lorne, and this little piece of heaven where you can get the best Sea Breeze in town is where I provide readings for creatures great and small, but I can’t read the aura without you providing the sweet sound of music first.”

“Forget it,” Riley said with a snort as he backed away…which seemed to be Riley’s reaction to anything new. I bet his mother never made him try new foods; I bet that's where his life went wrong. Personally, I figured the worse thing that could happen was that I would embarrass myself publicly, and frankly I’d done that so often lately that it hardly mattered anymore. At least I had some clothes on for this humiliation, which made a nice change.

“I’ll make you a deal, you let me call Sunnydale to tell my friends they’re in danger, and I’ll sing whatever you want,” I offered.

Lorne considered that and then smiled, head tilted. “I think you just might have an interesting enough story to make that a good deal. Phone’s by the bar.” Spike was already there, I noticed, hoisting a pint mug containing something that sure didn’t look like beer. I headed over and stood beside him.

The bartender slid me a phone, and that’s when I noticed the smell. Blood. Fresh human blood. Spike had an expression of pure, utter bliss on his face as he drank. Good for him, and please let that be volunteered blood, not that Spike would care, but my conscience was about ready to pop with guilt already, what with the Anya issue and the danger to Willow and Tara and the whole three year secret thing that I obviously had to ‘fess up about, because Riley wasn’t going to keep his mouth shut for longer than two seconds. If it wasn’t for the fact that my girls were in trouble, I would have voted for heading towards Canada and not looking back. Then again, I tried that whole extended road trip thing once already, and didn’t get very damn far. Being that I had no car at all now, I couldn’t imagine even getting out of the city.

I quickly dialed, and the phone in the dorm rang three times before the answering machine picked up. Okay, if the Initiative was tapping the phone, I needed to leave something simple enough that the girls would get it without tipping off the government.

“Hey girls, look, I’ve been thinking about that retreat, and I think it’s a bad idea in an Ampata kinda way, and I’ll try to catch you later.” I hung up, smug that I’d dropped a hint about not everything being what it seemed. Then it occurred to me that the government knew we’d escaped so any message I left would probably be erased before the girls got it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Okay, try again, Xan-man. I dialed the Magic Box.

“Magic Box, how can I help you spend money?” Oh yeah, that’s my Ahn.

“Anya, it’s Xander.”

“Are you calling to beg my forgiveness?” she demanded in a hard voice that sounded far more demony that a non-demon really should.

“Uh…what?” I know *I* didn’t do anything beg-worthy, but who knew what the imposter had said?

“If you aren’t prepared to crawl back and beg for my forgiveness, I just don’t see why I should talk to you.”

“Anya, you don’t un….”

“You broke my heart and crawling from Seattle to here on your hands and knees so that you show up with bloody and torn limbs would be a good start.”

“I need to talk to…”

“And if you think that means I’m just going to take you back, you’re wrong.”


“Because I am a liberated woman, and I will not wait around for you to decide whether or not you’re ready for a commitment.


“And I don’t care how many good orgasms you give.”

Dial tone.

Spike snickered, and my guess was that he’d heard the orgasm comment. My day was just getting better all the time.

There was no answer at Joyce’s house, and no machine picked up. Damn. I left a message with Willy, but from the completely unconcerned tone, I guessed that he wasn’t going to break his neck getting in touch with Buffy to pass it on. I hung up the phone and put my forehead down on the bar. Actually, I would have liked to hit someone, but that hadn’t worked out so well last time, as the throbbing pain in my ass reminded me.

“I think we need to find a way to get to Sunnydale,” I said to Spike without lifting my head.

“Considerin’ it’s day out there, I think I’ll be stayin’ here,” Spike answered in a contented tone of voice, but then he was drinking human blood for the first time in months, so from his point of view all was right with the world…or at least all was better.

“Fine. Riley, how much money do you have?” I turned around, but the table I broke and the chair that Riley broke and Riley himself were all gone, and come to think of it, the smell of Riley was quickly fading under all the other smells, not the least of which was me. Spike could get away with not bathing, I obviously couldn’t.

“So, will that be a bit of Metallica or maybe a classic Beatles song?” Lorne asked as he appeared at my shoulder. I turned back to the bar and promptly put my head back down. I heard Spike snicker, and suddenly a song came to mind. Also a coffeehouse, and someone with a guitar and an earring that looked like it might be a clip-on. Perfect. I lifted my head, looked at straight at Spike and started singing.

“No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes.
No one knows what it’s like to be fated, to be hated for telling only lies.
But my dreams they aren’t as empty, as my conscience seems to be.”

I hummed a bit where I didn’t know the words before I picked up again.

“My name is vengeance, that’s never free-ee-eee.” As I stopped, I wondered if I’d even gotten the words right. Spike had a sour expression on his face, and I just smiled sweetly at him. No sense being embarrassed myself if I couldn’t dish out a little to him, too.

“Oh ducks, you’ve got quite a path in front of you.” Lorne started. “If you don’t succeed, more than just Sunnydale is going to suffer. And on a personal note, you and your vampire here need to get a few things worked out before the world puts an end to your Romeo and Juliet act.”

“Yeah, Juliet,” Spike said in the most salacious tone possible, rolling the name in his mouth like it was the naughtiest thing that ever… uh, naughtied.

“Hey, I’m the Romeo here,” I retorted.

“Pet, you don’t look like the kind to do the seducin’, you look more like the seducee,” Spike grinned and stepped close so that we were once again chest to chest, so very close that I could smell the blood on his breath. One wicked eyebrow was raised in challenge, and oh boy, hyena instincts knew what to do about that.

“I’ve read the Watcher’s journals, Spike. The only person you ever seduced into your bed was Harmony, and I’m not so sure I’d be bragging about that,” I pointed out with an evil smile of my own.

“Had my wicked plum for over a hundred years, didn’t need ta seduce anyone else, but I’ve had hundreds willin’ ta crawl in my bed. You’ve had exactly one, and she would’ve settled for anyone who could’ve helped her become more human.” That was a little mean, but I didn’t back down.

“Had two, actually… can’t forget a certain Slayer. Plus I’ve had more demons chasing me than you can shake a stick at, including your wicked plum.”

“That was a soddin’ spell, and she wanted ta eat ya, not set up house.”

“She offered me forever.”

“She was out of her mind at the time.”

“She was always out of her mind.” At that Spike flashed his game face at me, and I felt myself shifting into my own glowy-eyed face. I wanted to throw him down right there on the bar, and prove just who was going to seduce who. Though “seduce” was maybe a little on the mild side, considering just what I wanted to do to the sexy, muscular, incredibly good-smelling demon who-

Lorne was suddenly right there, green hands gently but firmly pushing us apart. “Boys, boys…when I suggested you two needed to figure this out, I didn’t mean in the middle of my club.” My vision slammed back to normal when I realized people were watching us. Holy shit, what had I almost done in the middle of an entire room full of people who were watching with great interest, and that should not be exciting me even more. My cock strained at my pants so painfully that it actually balanced out the soreness in my ass from falling into the table.

“Right, need to find a way to Sunnyhell.” Spike said, switching gears immediately. “Any ideas?”

“None that you’d like,” I said as I tried to think disgusting thoughts. Problem was that most of my favorite delustifying images were no longer as disgusting as I remembered them being. Blood, guts, and gore had taken up residence in the “wow that makes me hungry” side of my brain, and I couldn’t come up with an image to make my stubborn dick go soft.

“Right, need to find Angel,” Spike said, and bingo…there’s an image to make a man’s cock deflate. Mine, anyway.

“I so wish I didn’t agree with you.”


Part 8

I stood in the afternoon glare on the street looking up at the building where, according to Lorne, everyone who was anyone knew about the vampire with a soul. Personally, I’m thinking that with as many enemies as Deadboy has he should consider keeping a lower profile, but that’s just me. Taking a deep breath and then immediately wishing I hadn’t because of my own smell, I braced myself and then pushed open the door. Oh yeah, stereotypical private dick’s office with the dirty windows and 1950’s furniture, and why was I so amused at Angel obviously trying so hard to be the perfect dick? Still amused by my own joke, I wandered toward a door where voices now started to rise in frustration.

“…walked all over you, again” proclaimed Cordelia’s shrewish voice, and I flinched in memory of just how much damage that voice could do. No, no, no, no, no. I’d agreed to face Angel, who could so easily make me feel three years old and six inches high. I never agreed to face Cordelia, who’d honed that same skill until she could make me feel two years old and two centimeters high. Oh shit… too late, she’s seen me. Just don’t show fear, I reminded myself.

“And look who’s back from Seattle, did they get tired of having you around or were you just not as good at getting bagels and lattes as you were at getting donuts and sodas?” Okay, I could do this. And I could do this without getting bitchy about everyone buying the whole Seattle story, and I did not just think of myself as bitchy.

“I need to talk to Deadboy,” I said as I walked farther into the room. No fear. Nice and calm, yeah, just keep thinking it and maybe you’ll believe it, I told myself.

“Xander,” a voice said from the door. Yep, just as I remembered- Angel’s famous knack for managing to make my name sound like a greeting and a request for me to go away all at once. No one could say the vamp didn’t have talents.

“Angel,” I replied, trying to sound as neutral and friendly as I could. Spike had insisted that Angel would do anything to help his precious Slayer and her little friends, and I really hoped that was the case. Either way, I wasn’t going to piss him off before asking for a favor… of course, from his tone just seeing me seemed to have pissed him off.

“What do you want?” he asked with a sigh as he walked all the way into the main room, and I took that as a good sign, I mean four words in a row was positively talkative for Broody Boy.

“Buffy and Willow are in trouble.”

“Yeah, well she can just get herself right back out on her own, can’t she?” Cordelia snapped, and okay, her response in general didn’t surprise me; it wasn’t like those two loved each other, but for all of Cordelia’s bitching, she always came through in the end. The real surprise was the look on Angel’s face. Instead of the worried concern I was expecting, he looked like someone had slipped lemon juice in his blood, and I can say that from experience since I once did that to Spike after he kept using the last of my shampoo without telling me. The trick was to clean the whole place with lemon-scented cleaner first, but right… Angel… saving girls… don’t think about Spike.

“Angel?” I asked, unsure about what would cause such a strange reaction from a vamp that normally started drooling on himself at the mere mention of Buffy’s name.

“She knows how to take care of herself,” Angel announced offhandedly before turning around, and this was so not the plan.

“Did you not hear me, or did I slip into a freaky version of my world when I went through that portal?” Seriously, this was confusing.

“Xander, I know you haven’t been talking as much with Buffy and Willow since you’ve moved, so I’m sure they forgot to mention that Buffy and I have decided to stay out of each other’s way and each other’s cities.” From the way Angel refused to face either me or Cordy, I could imagine his expression- broodier than ever, with a side order of hurty. Part of me wanted to cut him some slack while another part really wanted to kick him while he was down. A big part. A really, really big part. I shoved those thoughts down by reminding myself that I needed his help, so fun with Deadboy would have to wait til later.

“Okay, one-I never moved, and two- who are you and where the hell is Angel?”


Upset won out over reason, and I didn’t even listen to what he started to say before babbling on. “You’re always the one jumping on the ‘save Buffy’ bandwagon, well except for that time when you didn’t because you were all ‘it’s her destiny to die’, but you even came through then, and you can’t go all ‘Moving On Guy’ now, because they need you!”

“Well, he’s not the one who’s moved on, is he?” Cordelia asked, and then I realized what bug had crawled up Angel’s ass.

“You’re mad about Riley? He’s a creep,” I said, and I couldn’t keep the anger out of my voice. Not that I tried very hard.

“It’s not about…his name’s Riley?” Angel turned back toward me with an almost amused expression on his face.

“Yeah, stupid name. Riley Finn. Of course his name is perfect compared to his job, which is working for a secret government organization that traps, tortures, and kills demons.”

“She’s made her choices, and I have to make mine.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing- maybe this was some weird alternate reality after all. Angel turned to walk away again, and I dashed forward and put myself between him and the far door where he was heading.

“Not so fast there, buddy. Are you really saying you’re okay with the whole government operation because seeing as how you’re a demon yourself, I would think you would frown on the whole demon-torturing plan.”

“Buffy called me back when Spike showed up. They’re doing what they need to do to keep the Hellmouth safe.”

“They’re planning on taking Willow and sticking her in a lab,” I snapped back. If he didn’t care about Buffy because of some star-crossed lovers shit, fine. If he didn’t care about the vampire he’d all but sired getting tortured and dusted, fine. But he had no right to ignore Willow being in danger. “Willow’s never done anything other than try to help you, and you’re doing your whole broody, my girlfriend’s gone and left me country music … thing.” My voice got slower at the end as I sort of lost track of my own train of thought, and why did Angel always make it hard for me to talk without turning into a babbling idiot? Stupid vampire.

“Buffy’s boyfriend is after Willow?” Okay, that expression was almost funny, in a this really isn’t the time to be amused at Angel’s confusion kind of way.

“Sort of…I think he wants to help Willow and Tara, but he filed reports on them being witches, and now the Initiative put them on the ‘not entirely human’ list, which is not a good list to be on what with the torture and the experiments and the lack of bathroom facilities.”

“That’s where you’ve been,” Angel said in a totally shocked voice which was different from his normal voice in that it actually had emotion in it. “You've been in the Initiative.” He didn’t look quite as broody now. In fact, that face looked almost angry.

Cordelia snorted. “Oh please, Xander’s as human as you get. His only claim to fame is that he is totally unfameworthy with his normalcy.”

“Xander hasn’t been totally human for several years now,” Angel answered quietly, and I couldn’t have been more surprised if the floor opened under my feet. Not exaggerating, I’ve seen the ground open up under me, and I was actually less surprised. Of course on a Hellmouth, you expect the ground to open under you, and I never expected Angel to be the one who noticed anything different about me.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cordelia demanded.

“Did you merge?” Angel asked me, and I didn’t even try to pretend I didn’t understand.

“Kinda had to. It was either that or be trapped down there getting needles shoved in me while they took Spike out in a dustbuster.”

“Which is where Spike belongs,” Cordelia added, and I turned to her and growled. I thought I was expressing myself in a completely normal way; however, Cordelia’s little shriek and sudden retreat behind a giant desk left me thinking I might have gone off into hyena logic again. Okay, note to self: no growling at people.

“Where is Spike?” Angel interrupted.

“Still at Caritas, we had a small problem with the whole sun thing, so he decided to stay behind. Well, that and he finally found a place that would serve him human blood.” I gave an exaggerated stage shudder and a goofy smile for Cordelia’s benefit. It bothered me that she looked at me like someone she didn’t even know; even with the hyena, I was still Xander. I mean, it’s not like she didn’t know about demons and primals and things that go bump in the night. Then again, she’d had a front row seat for my old pack eating the principal, so maybe I couldn’t totally blame her.

“Angel, you are not thinking of helping him.” Cordelia said imperiously--and that’s the Queen C. I remembered- still immune to my powers of charming dorkitude.

“Cordelia…” Angel had his tired, “please just don’t make me fight about this” tone of voice… and I found myself actually feeling some sympathy for the guy, remembering the days when Cordy had made me that tired, and thank god I’ve now got the hots for Spike instead of her. Frankly, he’s a lot less scary.

“Fine. That’s just fine, Angel. Faith tries to kill you and you forgive her. Buffy walks all over you, and you’re still defending her right to treat you like…like you aren’t a person, and you know what I mean so don’t even say it, and now you’re going to help the bleached idiot who stuck hot pokers though you…do you see a pattern here, Angel?” She was on a roll.

“I’m not helping Spike, I’m helping Willow and Buffy.”

“Why do I bother? Just don’t come to me if all these people you try to help end up treating you like the dirt on their shoes.” She made her little washing-my-hands-of-this gesture.

“Hey, I wouldn’t…” I started, but Cordelia cut me off with a glare. “Okay, maybe I would have, but not any more,” I amended myself. God, Deadboy torture was one of my favorite hobbies, and she was just sucking the fun right out of it by making it sound almost wrong.

“And what has changed?” Man, she wasn’t backing down.

“I need his help?” I went for cute-but-clueless, but from her expression of doom, I think I missed the cute part. Luckily, Angel saved me by interrupting again.

“Come on, we’ll go to Caritas through the sewers.”

“Okay, I know you did not just say sewer.”

“Don’t worry; wading around in some sewer water can only make you smell better,” Angel answered, and I was momentarily struck dumb at the sight of Angel making a joke…a bad and overly obvious joke, but an actual joke nevertheless.

“Hey! It’s not my fault I haven’t had access to a shower for a while.”

“Yeah, just stay downwind.” Angel told me. “Cordelia, get the car and bring it over to Caritas, and if you can find some extra clothes, I really don’t want to have to smell Xander all the way to Sunnydale.”

“Hey, standing right here,” I protested, and somehow Angel always managed to do that…to talk around me or over me or just as if I wasn’t in the room. I realized that was why I had never liked him…well that and the whole he got Buffy and I didn’t, which was so not fair. I never would have gone totally evil on her like he did, but then girls are always attracted by the tortured souls. Which didn’t explain Riley, because he was more into verbally torturing Spike than he was into being a tortured soul himself. And really, I wasn’t all that interested in attracting girls anymore, so Angel’s ability to command all the attention in the room shouldn’t bother me. But it did anyway.

He got Buffy, he had Cordelia doing the whole “no one gets to torture you but me” thing that was so part of her flirting behavior, even if Angel didn’t notice it. But the one that really bugged me? He was Spike’s sire. It’s like everywhere I wanted to be, he got there first. Well, except Cordelia; I never got there at all… hell, I never made it past second base with her, and for the sake of all the innocent souls in L.A., I hoped Angel didn’t either, flirting or no flirting. Realizing I’d stopped listening to the pointless sniping that sounded so much like what we used to do in Sunnydale before the girls went all collegey on me, I focused again. They were still discussing my body odor, even as Angel started for the elevator.

“You try smelling nice after a while in the Initiative. They’d probably cut off all your hair.” I finally answered. I could have imagined the shudder in Angel’s shoulders as I followed him into the elevator, but I didn’t think so.

The travel through the sewers was nasty and disgusting and smelly and so much more pleasant than the reunion between Spike and Angel. One hour, countless “bloody wankers”, three death threats, two drinks, and one Barry Manilow song later, Angel finally agreed to go with us to Sunnydale to help and Spike finally agreed to let Angel come to Sunnydale and help. Of course Angel had already agreed to go and Spike had sent me to get Angel to help, but they had to do their little ritual mutual pissiness, so I just leaned back and listened to the sound of the two of them figuratively bashing heads as I tried to figure out just how large of a splinter I had jammed in my ass.

Once all the mutual flashings of gameface and bringing up of hundred year old grudges was over, Lorne even offered to let us use his rooms to clean up. I’m guessing it was either his attempt to keep Angel and Spike from scaring customers away with the yelling, or me from driving them away with my odor. Despite Angel’s oh-so-funny prediction, I did smell worse, but that might have had something to do with the broken grate on the bottom of the sewer that Angel forgot to mention until I was face down in the muck. I hate that vamp. Okay, hate is a strong word, but he annoys me until I want to pull out all his hair one strand at a time.

All of which led to this moment as I listened to Spike and Angel argue as I stood in a bathrobe with a very sizeable piece of wood in my ass. And again with people talking about me while I’m standing right here.

“You bloody wanker, he’s still soddin’ mortal and that wound could get infected.”

“And what exactly do you care, Spike? I won’t have you playing games with him.”

“Who’s playing games? He risked his neck to get me away from those butchers, which is a damn sight more than you ever did.”

“You thought I’d do something after the way you treated me last time?”

“You bloody had it coming after you took Dru away from me.”

“You took her back just fine… right about the same time you worked with a Slayer to send me to hell.” I flinched at that one. If Angel was calling Buffy “a Slayer”, things were not of the good.

“The other option was stakin’ ya.”

“You don’t have it in you, William.”

“If ya mean a heart cold enough ta stake my own sire, you’re probably right. I’ll leave that bit up to you, mate.” Wow, that was once big flinch on Angel as he reacted to that comment. Spike had told me enough about Darla that I knew staking her was a lot harder than Buffy had ever understood. However, none of this helped me.

“Guys,” I started.

“William, yer treading on thin ice, boy.” Oh god, that had more Angelus than Angel in it, I thought as I heard the accent thicken.

“Guys!” I nearly shouted this time.

“What?” Four yellow eyes turned to me as each vampire snarled the same answer.

“This isn’t getting the wood out of my ass, so Angel, get out and Spike, some help please.”

“Xander, I don’t think…” Angel started, and Spike cut him off mid-sentence.

“That’s the thing— you never did think, except with your dick of course.”

“Hey, enough, both of you,” I insisted as I slipped a hand in under the robe and felt the trickle of blood that wouldn’t stop now that I had gotten out of the shower. Yeah, I knew something was wrong, but I was thinking splinter-something, and instead I got chunk of table-something. “Spike can pull the thing out since he’s already seen me naked more times than I can count,” I said as I felt the edge of the wood sticking out of the lower part of my ass, and suddenly I realized what I had said.

I looked up, and Angel was staring at me with an absolutely unreadable expression, well, unreadable with hints of shock and horror.

“…with the being locked up together naked like animals and not enjoying it all and really not enjoying it in a together kind of way because we were definitely not together, well we were together in a cell but not together and in together and just no.” Okay, every bit of cool I’d acquired while dealing with Riley was now officially out the window, and I bit my tongue to keep from saying more. I hadn’t even done anything yet and I was already freaking about the gay stuff, and really the gay stuff wasn’t even a blip on the freaking-out radar. Spike just snickered as he physically shouldered Angel out of the room, clearly enjoying it.

“You’ve just been uninvited, so sod off, Peaches,” Spike announced with a final shove before he slammed the door to Lorne’s room with Angel on the other side. He turned to me with a smirk over what he clearly hoped was an innocent expression. “So, let’s see your ass there, pet.”

“Spike, I just need the wood out… we don’t have time for anything else.”

“And what ‘anything’ ya got in mind, pet?”

“Spike,” I said in my best warning voice, which never actually worked in the past, but now it made Spike stop and look at me thoughtfully. I pretended to be Willow with her resolve face; from the twitch in Spike’s lip, I suspected that I probably just looked constipated.

“Right, but time for anythin’ later?” Spike cocked his head to one side, and for one brief shining moment I would have sworn he looked almost unsure… okay, that really shouldn’t have been a shining moment since enjoying Spike’s uncertainly just sort of makes me seem petty and kinda like a big jerk face as Willow would say. But after a lifetime of feeling like I’m always the one trying to fit in, it felt good that someone actually wanted to fit in with me…and I am so not thinking about things fitting because I need the wood pulled out of my ass. Oh god, now I’m babbling to myself. Stupid, sexy vamp.

“Lots of anything,” I promised just as Spike’s face was starting to take on a guarded look. Oops, less introspection, more reassurance. “Just get the wood outta me, huh?” I asked as I dropped the robe and then flung myself face down on Lorne’ s bed before Spike could see anything interesting, like maybe a cock that was already half hard and rising quickly despite my insistence that this just wasn’t the time. Yeah, Spike had seen it before. No, I don’t know why I felt like hiding now. And no, Xander-logic doesn’t have to make sense, apparently.

I heard Spike’s footsteps behind me and then the bed tilted as he climbed behind me. I kept my head buried in the pillow, trying to think unlusty thoughts, but I could still sense him leaning over me. Then I felt his cool hands lightly touch my ass, and yep, that’s me waving the white flag on the trying not to get hard front. His hands sent shivers of need and pleasure that traveled the length of my whole body… right until he poked the skin around the shard and then it felt like he was sticking me with a rusty nail.

“Hey!” I protested as I tried to sit up.

“Oi, stop squirmin’.” Spike pushed me back down, and my first instinct was to fight him, to sit up, to show him that I wasn’t going to be told what to do. However, my first instinct wouldn’t get the wood out of my ass so I let him push me back down, and to make his point clearer he actually straddled me. I was painfully, hornily aware of the coarse fabric of the stolen uniform rubbing against the backs of my naked thighs as he lowered his weight on me, pinning me down. I swallowed a growl even as his next couple of prods were a little more gentle, his cool fingers gliding across my hot skin as he shifted slightly to get a better look. I stifled a tiny moan of frustration, both at how turned on I was getting, and how long he was taking to pull the damn shard.

“Spike, I want you to pull it out, not make friends with it,” I snapped.

“I’m tryin’ to figure out the angle it went in so I don’t tear a bloody hole in your arse tryin’ to get it back out.” Okay, that made sense…it didn’t help my cock, which was going to get a cramp if I didn’t stop laying on it when it was so exquisitely hard…but it made sense.

After that he mumbled some more under his non-existent breath, but instead of paying attention I just gritted my teeth and tried to ignore Spike’s various curses directed at shoddy craftsmanship, incompetent carpenters, and mostly at one Riley Finn.

Finally Spike seemed to decide on his plan of attack, and those long, elegant hands had settled in on either side of the shard so that one rested on my lower back and one was on my upper thigh and I was so not getting hot or horny or libidinous or salacious and thank you, Ahn, for teaching me the words for what I was not feeling as Spike’s fingers moved over my flesh. He was leaning in closer, I could feel him blowing over the heated skin, the air cooling it as the breeze angled in to tease the sensitive skin between my cheeks, and what the fuck….

“Spike, what the hell are you doing?” I demanded as I tried to push up even as I twisted around to see Spike in full game face centimeters from my ass.

“Wot?” he asked as he turned yellow eyes my way, but that expression was entirely too innocent. Spike never looked innocent because he never was innocent and that feigned look of innocence just wasn’t.

“Don’t have tweezers, do we?” I opened my mouth to complain, but actually, no… we didn’t. “Have ta trust me then, won’t you?” Spike asked with a grin, which combined with his game face looked more demonic than trustworthy. And that so should not be turning me on even more, but it was.

“Just… you’d better not bite me,” I said as I bowed to the inevitable even as I lay back down, “without permission,” I added without even thinking. Spike snickered, but I was too busy fisting my hands in the pillow on either side of my head, bracing for the pain and trying to ride out the lust because this was just not the time to be wimpy or lusty.

“We’ll see about that,” he said, and I would have responded, but suddenly the piece of wood was yanked free, and I yelped in pain as the rough edges scraped over the sore wound that was already swelling and heating with infection.

“Oh sweet Jesus,” I yelped as soon as I could catch my breath to speak. Spike dropped a bloody piece of wood on the silk sheets…a fragment as thick as my thumb and nearly as long, disgustingly slick with blood, and how the hell did I walk with that in my ass?

“How’s that for gratitude? I fix your ass, and you go thankin’ the wrong bloody dead guy.”

“Huh?” I managed and then I felt a satiny, soothing coolness glide across my sore wound, leaving behind a damp trail that evaporated and calmed the feverish skin. “Guhya,” would be the closest description of the sound I made as the sweet touch came again. It was only the fourth or fifth pass, when the touch wandered south down the curve of my butt toward the valley that it occurred to me that Spike didn’t have a cloth back there.

“Whoa, what are you doing?” I demanded as I twisted around. I tried for shocked and horrified, but I think it actually came out kinda breathy, which was understandable considering I was literally trying to catch my breath at the sight of Spike with his yellowed eyes and ridged forehead running a long tongue across my hot flesh. Half naked Spike with his eyes half closed as he licked me in a sensual caress, and when the hell did he get half naked, not that I really cared since I now had a wonderful view of his muscles flexing and cording as he moved up my body, still licking so softly. He finally raised his head and looked right at me.

“Just helping with the infection, vampire saliva,” he said with a wicked smile which shifted into a leer as he opened his mouth and ran his tongue from my leg, up and over the curve of my ass and finally down into the naughty valley and oh definitely panting now. Spike growled low in his chest…a much more rumbly, deep sound than his normal “I’m going to kill you one day, Slayer”-type growl, and wound be damned.

So, the vampire wanted to play…and the vampire wanted to get at *my* ass… and the vampire wanted to growl at me. And actually, that sounded fair since I knew that was exactly what I wanted. But if he wanted my ass, he was going to have to have more than just a talented tongue. I started a growl of my own, and I could see Spike’s gaze dart up to catch mine even as I half turned towards him. When Spike pulled back to start the lick lower down, I twisted hard and got a foot on his shoulder, which I used to kick him off the bed entirely, and thank god the whole unfair spell thing didn’t work back here.

Spike stumbled back and caught himself on the dresser with one hand so that he leaned back in a very James Dean sort of pose. Rather than tell me to stop, he lowered his head so that he looked from under his lashes, and even from the bed I could see the bulge in his pants, which was fair what with my cock bobbing like one of those stupid little toys that jocks put in the backs of their cars. When Spike started to smile wickedly, the tip of his tongue appearing from between his lips, I launched myself at him with a growl.

I was hoping to take him down in a single shoulder thrust to the stomach, but Spike twisted out of my way so that I got more wall than Spike with my strike. With a feral grin he leaned into his own attack, pressing me into the corner between the dresser and the wall, as he twisted the arm he’d grabbed as I charged. A series of clinks and tinkles suggested that we had just knocked over everything on the dresser, but who the hell cared? I was caught between admiration for his maneuver and frustration that his refusal to submit was keeping me from my own goal. As Spike pushed me harder into the wall, I let my limbs go limp for just long enough to surprise him, and then I dropped to the floor and rammed my shoulder into his crotch. All’s fair when it’s love and war. Besides, from the bulge in his pants, I certainly hadn’t hit him hard enough to distract him from the main event.

When Spike’s feet went out from under him in a torrent of curses, I lifted so he was thrown over my shoulder with his head hanging down my back. Before he could figure out to bite me… which he would as soon as he recovered from the whole shoulder-crotch move… I bodily threw him on the bed and then flung my whole weight over him, strategically placing my knee in his crotch as I struggled to grab his wrists. Considering one of his hands had my hair and was pulling my head to one side while the other was digging bleeding furrows into my arm, this really wasn’t easy. Spike writhed when I captured the hand that had bloodied my arm, and I realized he was driving fangs toward my now-exposed neck, and I used my knee to warn him that I wouldn’t submit so easily.

“Enough,” roared a voice from the door that made both of us freeze mid-mutilation. I looked up to see Angel standing in the doorway, his nostrils actually flaring either in anger or maybe because of the blood smell which was pretty strong with the now-open wound in my ass and the lines of red decorating my arm.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Ah, Spike was just helping with the infection,” I answered just as Spike snarked, “Surely you remember what it looks like even if ya don’t get to do it anymore.” I pushed myself up and off the bed as I scrambled for the robe I’d earlier dropped, and I pulled it on before Angel had even stopped shaking his head.

“I don’t deserve this… I really don’t,” he announced to the air over his head. “The sun is down and I’m leaving for Sunnydale in five minutes. Personally, I hope you two don’t get dressed by then because I’m not explaining this to Buffy.” Spike opened his mouth to comment on that, but Angel spun on his heel and left, slamming the door a whole lot harder than he needed to. I looked at Spike, and he just shrugged as he rebuttoned the top of his ugly green pants, and for several seconds the need to get to Sunnydale battled with the need to rip those pants off.

“Move your arse, I’m not goin’ to listen to the pouf complain about us makin’ him late the whole way up there,” Spike said as he threw a shirt at me. Nice…Angel brought me the most god-awful shirt in creation: green with weird upside-down lookin’ leaf things, and who wore shirts this ugly? Right. Back on track. Sunnydale. Business first and then… well, just ‘and then.’

I gave Spike a wicked smile of my own as I pulled on the shirt and went hunting for the jeans Cordy had brought.

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