orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,
orchidluv
orchidluv
bloodclaim

Nothing the Same, Book 3, Ch. 10

Nothing the Same, Book 3
Chapter: 10/?
Pairing: S/X
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
WARNING:  THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS VIOLENCE, SWEARING
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Primarily season 4, but anything from Season 1 on. 
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same & Nothing the Same, Book 2
Previous parts here

Chapter 10

There was a pattern to the movements in this high tech prison. The lab coats and soldiers seemed to work different shifts, presumably night versus day. The lab coats sometimes moved up and down the aisle of cells observing and taking notes. Once, Spike watched as they took an unconscious demon out of its cell on a gurney. The demon was the Drak’taash cub he’d heard whimpering down the hall since he’d arrived. Spike felt a flash of sympathy for the kid as it was wheeled past his cell but mostly relief that the near-constant crying would stop grating at his nerves for awhile.

They didn’t bring the cub back, which made him wonder what exactly they did to the demons they took. He had no memories of the time he’d been gone from his cell. The vampire in the next cell said Spike had been gone for “awhile” - helpful that - which didn’t tell him anything. The only clue he’d been able to find about his absence had been a small shaved spot on the back of his head. If he hadn’t been specifically checking himself for injury, he never would have found it. He’d searched carefully all around the spot but found nothing else in the way of an injury, healed or otherwise, in the area. Which made absolutely no sense. If they’d done something to him, why make sure he healed up afterwards? Unless they’d inflicted only a very minor injury, they must have given him enough blood to remove all trace of it. It made him uneasy when he realized that he’d no longer felt hungry when he’d woken up again in the cell, indicating they must have given him blood during the time he was out.

Unlike the lab coats, who handled only unconscious demons, the soldiers only entered the cell block armed with the taser rifles that had twice defeated him. Since he’d been here, he’d seen the soldiers bring in only one new prisoner, a Reet’tahk demon, dragging it unceremoniously down the tiled floor past his cell and dumping the unconscious body into a cell a few doors down from his own.

He couldn’t figure out what they were up to. There seemed to be no common thread behind their selection of prisoners. Reet’tahks were reptilian, capable of short bursts of astounding speed and had poison claws that made them dangerous in a fight, but they had no stamina in a long fight and were easy enough to defeat if you avoided the lethal claws and kept them moving long enough to wear them down. They were barely intelligent, Spike didn’t even think they were capable of speech.

Not that the people here seemed intent on interrogations - not a lot of conversation was happening when everyone who was taken out of their cells was unconscious. Spike had tried to get information from his fellow prisoners, yelling down the hallway, asking who was in here and what they knew. He’d only gotten a couple of answers before the area was flooded with soldiers. He’d timed his questions to the movement of the cameras in the hall, speaking when the cameras swung away from his cell but apparently the two demons who’d answered hadn’t had that much sense. Watching from his cell, he’d seen the soldiers enter two cells down the hallway. There were bursts of light from the taser rifles and the soldiers stepped back into the hall, looking satisfied.

All that had gotten him was the information that there was a werewolf and a Laorg in here. Anyone else was either too cowed to answer or hadn’t understood him. Either way, it got him no further in understanding the reasoning behind the selection of prisoners. Was it just random, picking up anything they stumbled across? Laorgs were known only for their stupidity and werewolves were more human than demon.

Spike wasn’t sure how long he’d been prisoner but he was close to losing it entirely and attacking the walls of his cell in mindless frustration and he couldn’t afford that. The first pangs of hunger were beginning to make themselves known, which meant it had been the better part of a day since he’d woken up in the cell for the second time. Having come up with nothing better, he’d have to use the drugged blood and see what happened. Anything was better than just waiting for them to come for him again. He had a growing certainty that this place meant final death unless he could find a way out of here.

He was worried about Xander, so much so that he could hardly stop thinking about him. He worried about Xander living in the apartment without Spike there to protect him from the Court. Worried about what Xander would do with Spike missing. Pacing the small cell, unable to rest, Spike was driven by the certainty that Xander was in almost as much danger as Spike. Xander’s reckless bravery got him into all sorts of trouble when Spike was there to rein him in; no telling what Xander was getting up to without Spike there to keep an eye on him. Xander would be looking for him. Spike knew that as well as he knew his own name. Xander wouldn’t give up and that worried Spike as well. This bunch didn’t seem too fussy about who they kept in here - werewolves were barely demons, could hardly tell them from humans except at a full moon. It would be just like Xander if he found this place to simply bang on the front door and demand to see Spike. A human bearing a Claim mark and searching for a vampire might be enough for this lot, enough to get Xander locked up in here as well. He had to find a way out before Xander got himself killed trying to rescue Spike.

He didn’t have anything like a solid plan, just a few ideas based on all too limited information. He’d just have to seize whatever chance came his way. The best shot at escape was during what he thought of as the day shift, past the unarmed lab coats instead of the soldiers. He’d just have to deal with the sun when he got outside.

Impatient now to put his sketchy plan into action, Spike forced himself to stop pacing and sat down against the wall, waiting for the people in charge to drop blood to him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He couldn’t do it. He’d turned it over in his mind, worked out a plan, had his hand on the phone to dial, then found himself hanging up before pressing the numbers.

Xander let the phone drop onto the mattress and bowed his head, burying his hands in his hair, gripping hard enough to hurt to stop his hands from shaking. He couldn’t do it. Not even for Spike.

He’d even thought of who he could ask to help him. A couple of the demons he’d met at the Z’bat’rryth birthday party he’d been invited to back in January had been part Brachen. Allen had gotten really, really drunk and at one point started laughing so hard that, if he were human, he probably would have had peed his pants. Instead, spikes had suddenly popped out all over his face. He’d been really embarrassed but his brother had just howled with laughter and let his own spikes come out. They were good guys and Xander had talked to them a few times since then. He thought he could persuade them to do the spikey-thing and scare a professor or two at the campus.

Unfortunately, he’d come to his senses in time. In their demon-guise, the brothers didn’t look like anything that could be passed off as something normal. Allen and Doug had been among the demons who’d spent all night searching for Spike. He couldn’t ask them to put their lives at risk, bring their secrets out into the open, expose themselves to a hostile world on the off-chance that it might flush out the soldiers he was hunting for.

The problem was, it was the only plan he had. Giving it up put him back at square one with nothing. Would Spike understand why Xander couldn’t do it, or would he think that Xander was wimping out on him? He’d always wondered about those movies where 20 people die trying to rescue one person. For the first time, he understood the impulse behind the rescue missions when logic and numbers said it was a stupid thing to do. A wry smile twisted his lips as he remembered discussing the issue with Spike while watching ‘Saving Private Ryan’ one night. Spike had taken the position that you should only get involved in that kind of rescue mission if you liked a good fight and were doing it for the fun of it. The rescue mission was just an excuse, to his way of thinking. Maybe Spike would understand after all.

Sighing, Xander stood up and headed for the bathroom. Maybe a shower and some desperately needed sleep would get his brain working again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After what seemed like hours, the small hatch in the ceiling finally opened, dropping a bag of blood to the floor. Spike stared at it for a long moment before reaching down to pick it up. Aware of the security cameras in the hall, he bit into the bag and pretended to drain it. Keeping his back to the cameras, he squeezed the blood out onto the red silk shirt he’d taken off hours earlier and tossed onto the floor, then kicked the fabric into a ball to conceal the dark stain. His neighbor had been right: the blood smelled off, more than just the reek of preservatives and chemicals that all bagged blood carried. He tossed the now-empty packet away from him and leaned against the wall, before letting himself gradually slump to the floor as if unconscious.

He was just beginning to think that they drugged the food on general principles when at long last he heard footsteps approaching down the hallway. Remaining still and limp, Spike waited, hoping they were indeed coming to his cell. The footsteps were quieter than the boots the military wore, two sets. The lab coats always seemed to travel in pairs.

Thankfully, they stopped outside his cell and he heard the beep of the lock opening and the sound of the door sliding open. He stayed down, letting the two men pick him up and heave his limp body onto a padded surface. One of the men leaned over him and he felt a strap pulled into place across his chest. Time to move.

Spike erupted into motion the instant he felt the lab coat’s hands fumbling to fasten the strap down across his chest. He tore the strap away with contemptuous ease, ripping it free from the gurney and reaching up in the same instant with his other hand, grabbing the man by the throat, shutting off his air with an iron grip, preventing him from shouting for help, buying himself an extra second before the second lab coat could react.

Pain tore through his body and he screamed involuntarily, unable to stop himself. The pain was everywhere, battering at him, and his body arched in agony as he struggled to keep moving. His muscles seized up and that meant his grip on the man’s throat tightened rather than released. Gritting his teeth, Spike concentrated on the victim in his grasp. Whatever the other lab coat had done to him, he still had this one under control. The man’s face was turning a lovely shade of puce and his hands scrabbled frantically at Spike’s hand, trying to get air.

The pain kept surging through him, waves of agony that threatened to drown him and Spike snarled his defiance, grabbing the man with both hands and throwing him away as hard as he could. The man slammed against the wall with satisfying force, sliding limply down, leaving a red stain on the wall and Spike rolled the rest of the way off the gurney and collapsed on the floor, shaking from the aftereffects as the pain ebbed with surprising suddenness.

He used the gurney to haul himself to his feet, facing the other lab coat, who had backed up until he hit the far wall, and was now standing frozen in place, staring with wide terror-filled eyes at Spike. Not giving himself time to think, Spike leapt for the man. He couldn’t see the weapon the man had to be carrying but he had no other choice. The hallway was monitored, the alarm would sound at any second and this might be his only shot at escape.

He crashed into the man, tackling him to the floor as pain flooded his system again. Spike roared in agony and rolled free, clutching his head. He’d never experienced anything like this level of pain and it was everywhere, enveloping him until he couldn‘t think, couldn’t move, could only pray for it to end.

The pain stopped and Spike nerved himself, furious that he was flinching at the thought of facing the agony again, cursing, at himself as well as the lab coat who was doing this to him, Spike lurched to his feet and kicked the man in the head as hard as he could.

The pain battered him again but his foot met the mark, snapping the man’s head back and dropping him limp and unconscious to the floor. Spike grabbed his own head in both hands, trying desperately to contain the agony as he dropped to his knees, unable to stand under the waves of pain. It stopped again as suddenly as if switched off and Spike let go gingerly. Avoiding touching the body at his feet - he still had no idea what the man had used on him - Spike ignored his still-trembling muscles and sprinted for the other body.

All up and down the hall, he could hear the other demons: shouting, cheering, begging for release. Fuck ‘em, he thought viciously. Let ‘em find their own way out. Even as he thought it, he was yanking the card off the lab coat’s body. He needed a diversion.

Belatedly, an alarm sounded and a red light began pulsing in the hallway. He could hear booted feet at a distance running towards the area and, closer, the vampire in the cell next to him demanding to be released, claiming to know the way out of the building. Spike doubted it, unobservant git hadn’t known anything when Spike questioned him.

He took a handful of precious seconds to open the five nearest cells. Four of the demons ran for it, scattering both ways down the hallway. The fifth stayed huddled on the floor and didn’t move even when Spike snarled at it. He didn’t waste time trying to force the useless thing to move, just turned and sprinted down the hall in the opposite direction from the way the lab coats took their victims. His best guess was that that direction went deeper inside the facility.

Whatever the bastard had used on him hadn’t injured him and he ran flat out, hearing shouts and the sound of guns firing behind him. Ahead, he saw that metal doors were sliding closed over the exits and somewhere he found an extra burst of speed, launching himself into a dive and sliding under the door, making it with no time to spare, barely yanking his feet clear before the metal slammed closed behind him.

He rolled to his feet, and swore viciously. The corridor ahead of them was blocked by a heavy metal security doors, trapping him and two others: his neighbor and the Bratosh demon from the next cell down. They were both hammering uselessly at the metal door, the Bratosh using its considerable strength to dent the metal but the door was holding firm.

It was a wonder he heard the ping of the elevator over the racket they were making. Spike grabbed the vampire unceremoniously by the back of his coat and flung him at the elevator doors just as they opened. The soldiers inside were braced and ready at the door and not expecting a vampire-shaped projectile. All three went tumbling to the floor and Spike and the Bratosh followed them inside. His neighbor was actually making himself useful for once, burying his fangs in the neck of one screaming victim and keeping him occupied as he fed with the hunger of incipient starvation. The Bratosh handled the other soldier, kicking him in the head and taking him out of the picture as Spike stooped and snatched up both guns.

He tossed one of them to the Bratosh and grinned. “Let’s get the hell out of here, shall we?”

The Bratosh hooted its agreement.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Xander was beginning to wish he hadn’t called in sick for work again. He wasn’t accomplishing anything, pacing around the apartment and thinking up increasingly wild schemes about what to do next. He hadn’t been able to sleep and had gotten up after an hour, sitting staring out the window at the sunlight that had begun to seem like an enemy, keeping him trapped in the apartment and impatiently waiting for night when he could be out searching for Spike.

He couldn’t even watch tv to help pass the time. Not with Angel sleeping on the couch in the living room. Which thought made Xander scowl.

Angel wasn’t helping. Ok, actually he was doing his best but that didn’t mean that Xander didn’t resent him being here. Which was completely unfair and he knew it. He was maintaining just enough control to not snap at Angel every time he did something differently than Spike - which was pretty much everything. It was like the time his aunt and uncle had come for a visit that had lasted for almost a month and his parents had made him move to the sleeper couch in the basement and given them Xander’s room. Only he wasn’t ten now and he’d invited Angel into the apartment for a reason and he really needed to get over it. In his more mature moments, he recognized that Angel was just as uncomfortable as he was.

It was just that Angel was making it clear, without saying a word, that he thought Spike was dead. Xander hated the sadness in his eyes, and the pitying looks he couldn’t quite conceal, and his really lame efforts at encouragement. Most of all, he hated Angel’s attempts to subtly discuss Xander’s future plans “just in case”.

He didn’t want to think of a future without Spike. He wanted Spike to come back. He wasn’t ready to deal with anything else. It’s was just that ‘missing, not dead’ was beginning to sound thin, even to his own ears.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As tempting as it was, Spike didn’t dare take the elevator. A secure facility like this, no telling what kind of failsafes they had on the elevators and he didn’t fancy being trapped inside the thing. Instead, he taken off down the one remaining hallway before the last of the security doors came down, the Bratosh demon on his heels as he ran. Security doors were still coming down and Spike sprinted down the hall, not interested or caring if the Bratosh was keeping up. He was a diversion and would be more use falling behind or, better yet, going his own way.

He held on to the gun as he ran. Ordinarily, he had very little use for the things. They took all the fun out of killing - made death distant and impersonal and boring. But he was willing to make an exception under the circumstances. He’d learned the hard way that the soldiers’ taser rifles were effective from a good distance and he’d just as soon keep the soldiers as far away as possible until he had them on his own turf.

Diving under one more closing security door, Spike rolled clear and back to his feet in one fluid motion. The place was a labyrinth of twisting hallways and he was choosing his turns mostly at random, although he was trying to keep heading further away from the direction he thought of as the center of the complex. Behind him, he heard the Bratosh howling in frustration as it slammed into the metal door. Furious pounding noises and the clanging of metal under assault echoed loudly as he raced down yet another hallway, this one fortunately deserted. Turning a corner, the sounds faded behind him and he prayed he was getting to the outer edge of the building.

If only he could find a bloody exit sign, he thought desperately. He could feel the hunters after him, even if it was more imagination than reality at the moment.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“We need to talk, Xander.”

“No, Angel, we’re good.” Xander so did not want to talk. Angel had gotten up not long after noon, early enough to catch Xander still in the apartment. He’d been leaving in early afternoon each day, trying to minimize the number of hours he spent with his reluctant house guest.

In the few days he’d been here, Angel had already established a pattern: spending the early evenings at the Court and, true to his word, doing a sweep of the town looking for Spike before returning to the apartment shortly before dawn. Xander and he would meet back at the apartment just before dawn and report their failures.

Despite Angel’s disapproval, Xander continued to stay awake all night, searching the town, returning to the most likely spots over and over, hoping desperately that Spike would be there this time. He was aware that Buffy and Angel and even Jose were shadowing him - Buffy openly, Angel and Jose more surreptitiously and he was grateful for their concern, even if he knew they weren’t looking for Spike so much as safeguarding Spike’s boyfriend who was so clearly losing it and refusing to accept reality.

Spike had been missing for five days now and it was becoming harder and harder to cling to the hope that he was just missing.

“You can’t keep avoiding the subject.”

“Trust me, Angel. When it’s something I don’t want to talk about, I can give whole new meaning to the word.”

He could tell that Angel wasn’t going to let him get away with it this time. The vampire was standing with his arms crossed, planted immovably in front of the door and Xander suspected he wasn’t going to move until he’d had his say. He’d probably learned that trick from Cordelia.

“You can’t stay here any longer,” Angel told him flatly. “It’s not safe.”

“You said that three days ago and it’s been fine.”

“That was three days ago. The Court isn’t buying Spike’s absence anymore. Like it or not, Xander, a new Master has to take over.”

Xander shook his head stubbornly. “Just because you’re giving up, doesn’t mean I’m ready to. It’s only been five days, you can keep a lid on things a little longer.”

“Nearly six,” Angel corrected. “You have no evidence that these mysterious soldiers have anything to do with his disappearance. You have nothing but blind optimism telling you that Spike is still alive.”

“And you think your example of abandoning him when he needs you is something I’m gonna follow? Go to hell!”

Xander threw a punch with all the pent-up frustration of the past days behind it. Angel blocked it effortlessly, knocking Xander’s fist aside. As Spike had taught him, Xander moved with the blow, spinning around and bringing his elbow up to slam into Angel’s ribs. He smirked in satisfaction as Angel grunted at the force of the blow. He kept turning, spinning around Angel, trying to get beyond his reach, knowing the vampire was far stronger than him.

Angel’s long arms swept out, ignoring the punch Xander aimed at him, and wrapped him in a bear hug. “Xander! Knock it off, I’m on your side,” he roared in Xander’s ear.

For one second, Xander struggled furiously in the inhumanly strong grip, then something seemed to snap inside him and his anger fled. For a long moment, they both stood where they were, Xander’s harsh breathing the only sound. Then Angel released him and stepped back.

“Are you done?” he asked harshly.

Xander nodded, feeling stupid. This wasn’t Angel’s fault and taking out his anger on Angel wasn’t helping anything. He closed his eyes and let out a long, shaky breath. “Two more days,” he said quietly. “You can cover a week’s absence.”

Angel frowned but reluctantly nodded. “If we don’t find him by tomorrow night, you pack your stuff and get out the next morning. Agreed?”

“Yes.” His heart ached as he gave his word, feeling like one more person who’d let Spike down. Moving out of their home felt like giving up, like he was accepting that Spike was dead. He turned and walked slowly towards the door, relieved when Angel just let him go.

“He’s my Childe.”

Halfway out the door, indifferent to the danger to Angel as he opened the door and the sun streamed in, Xander paused as he heard the low, painful words. He didn’t know if Angel was looking for forgiveness, understanding, maybe compassion. Whatever he was hoping for, Xander didn’t have it to give. He closed the door behind him without looking back.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finding the exit had almost been anti-climactic. As he followed the twisting pathways inside the building, Spike had found a ladder of metal rungs bolted to the wall. It had the look of an emergency exit and he had no choice. His luck had held in finding this deserted section of the complex - Spike had wondered fleetingly if the empty cells and the empty offices he was sprinting past meant the facility was only about half-operational - but he couldn’t expect it to last much longer.

Slinging the gun over his shoulder, he jumped up and began climbing rapidly. The ladder ran two stories up and ended in a metal hatch, not much bigger than a manhole cover. With no choice, Spike released the latch and opened it cautiously a bare inch.

As he’d feared, it was daytime. The deadly sun shone down brightly with not so much a whisper of a vampire-friendly cloud in the sky. Mid-afternoon, he judged, and he didn’t have several hours to sit and wait for sunset. He probably didn’t have minutes before the pursuit caught up to him. The hatch was set in the grass in a grassy clearing and there were a lot of people around. Surveying the scene for another second, Spike realized he was in the middle of the Sunnydale U campus. Students were strolling past, carrying backpacks and books, and he recognized the field as one of the green spaces between the main buildings. Fortunately, the campus was generous with trees because staying put was not an option.

Nerving himself, and cursing the loss of his duster, Spike threw back the lid and swarmed up the last three steps of the ladder, feeling the deadly heat of the sun as he flung himself across the grass towards the safety of the grove of trees thirty feet away. He could feel his skin blistering and flames ignited on the unprotected flesh of his head and hands in the few seconds it took to cross the open ground. Plunging into the shadows of the enormous old trees, Spike was already tearing his dress shirt off and using it to smother the flames.

The immediate danger over, he leaned against a tree trunk and panted for unneeded air. Shock and pain were catching up with him now. He had burns on his hands, face and neck and he needed blood to speed the healing. He desperately wanted to head straight for the factory but he didn’t dare. The hounds would be after him and he wasn’t fool enough to lead them to his lair. He had to keep moving, lay some false trails in case they had any good trackers among them, throw them thoroughly off the scent before he could risk going home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Leaving the sewer tunnels behind had been a relief, despite their dark sanctuary from the waning afternoon sun. Knowing that the soldiers had built their little prison directly under the college campus had made Spike twitchy about using the tunnels. The possibility that the soldiers used the tunnels to move around the campus had him on edge, straining to hear any hint of pursuit and anxious to be out in the open where his movements wouldn’t be so restricted if they found him.

The dash from the cover of the trees to the nearest building had left him with more burns and his need for blood almost had him attacking the first student he happened across. He’d forced himself to wait, he was too near the facility, too sure he was hunted to leave such an obvious sign of his whereabouts. As it was, too many of the students stared at the livid burns on his face as he passed. If anyone asked questions, he’d be remembered.

The scent of prey was all around him and his hunger almost overwhelmed him as he made his way down through the building to the basement and the tunnel access he knew was there from his previous explorations of the campus.

He’d headed for the docks, wanting the anonymous prey of transients and hookers. They weren’t his prey of choice - no sport in them, but he wasn’t after sport tonight. He needed enough blood that it would take several humans to give him sufficient blood to heal his burns and bring him back to full strength. It would be easier if he could simply drain them and dump their bodies but he’d promised Xander. He’d just have to make do.

The sun was below the horizon when he emerged from the tunnels. The wharfs were busy and it was easy to find a business woman trolling for customers. Spike kept to the shadows to hide his burns and offered her $50. She countered with $75 and a hotel room instead of the alley. Perfect. She’d sleep off the blood loss and no one would be the wiser until morning. Not that she seemed the type to call the authorities.

The deal made, Spike followed her up the dingy steps of the by-the-hour motel where she had “an arrangement” with the manager. He waited, tapping one foot impatiently as she fumbled with the key. He let her step inside and snap on the light before he pushed inside behind her, slamming the door closed and pushing her onto the bed.

“Hey!” she complained. “Money first.”

“Bugger that,” Spike told her, and pounced, pinning her to the mattress and yanking her head back to expose her throat. He rolled off her instantly, screaming as the pain returned again, even worse than before. He couldn’t think, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything but curl up and scream until it stopped.

“What the hell is your problem, psycho?”

Spike stared at her dazedly as she climbed to her feet and jerked her clothes straight angrily. “I told you: money first. I’m not a charity, you know. No freebies.” She glared down at him as he remained frozen on the bed, unable to fathom what had just happened.

What the fuck was going on? What had those bastards done to him?

~~~~~

He tried to feed twice more and only blind unreasoning terror at what was happening made him try for the third time. Each time he tried to bite her, the pain shattered him, leaving him screaming in agony, unable to do anything but ride it out. The hooker punched him in the face for his second attempt and, when his third attempt left him crumpled, shaking on the floor, she kicked him twice, breaking one of his ribs with an audible snap.

Swearing at him, she rifled his pockets, then kicked him again when she found nothing worth stealing. The pain of the broken rib wasn’t a fraction of the earlier pain and Spike didn’t move, even when she spat on him and cursed him for having no money. He didn’t even try to stop her when she stalked out of the room.

He couldn’t stay here. The manager, or her pimp, would be here soon but it was hard to care. He’d been beaten up by a cheap tart, a human, and he’d been unable even to defend himself.

They’d done something to him. The soldiers, the lab coats, they’d done something to him. The pain wasn’t a weapon, they’d done something to him to stop him from hurting things. In one fell swoop they’d taken everything: his pride, his territory, his brithright. And Xander.

Bastards had taken Xander from him. How could he go back now? Go back and see pity instead of love in his Claimed’s dark eyes? Go back and live off Xander’s charity until his boy resented him for the useless cripple they’d made him. He couldn’t protect Xander now, couldn’t even renew his Claim mark. Bastards might as well have castrated him and pulled his fangs out with pliers. He wasn’t a vampire anymore. He wasn’t anything. Just a helpless cripple who couldn’t even feed himself.

He wouldn’t let Xander see him like this, he’d greet the sun with open arms first.

 

TBC

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