Nothing the Same, Book 3
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
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
WARNING: THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX
Previous parts here
From Chapter 20:
“Something’s happening in the dark worlds, young man. Something’s harming demons and it’s not the Slayer. Know anything about it?”
Xander didn’t know what he’d been expecting but it wasn’t that. “I’ve heard rumors,” he said cautiously.
“Oh yes, there’s plenty of those around,” Ethan confirmed, looking interested that Xander had heard anything at all. “Demons are scared. The kind of scared that turns to angry. This new outfit, it’s blundering into places it doesn’t belong. It’s throwing the worlds out of balance and that’s way beyond chaos, mate. We’re headed quite literally for one hell of a fight.”
“Do you have anything specific, Ethan, or are you just peddling vague rumors?” Giles prodded impatiently.
Ethan shrugged. “You know demons. It’s all exaggeration and blank verse. ‘Pain as bright as steel,’ things like that. As I said, they’re scared. There’s something called ‘314’ that’s got them scared most of all.”
He paused a moment, watching them, the cynical laughter gone from his eyes. “I know we’re not particularly fond of each other, Rupert, but we are a couple of old mystics. You should be able to read the signs as well as I can.” He shifted position, leaning carelessly back against the arm of the couch, and said with deliberate offensiveness: “Or have you lost your touch entirely, old man?”
Giles didn’t answer, frowning and looking off into the distance. Ethan seemed content just to sit there, watching Giles, a small, mocking smile on his lips. It was Xander who finally broke the long silence.
“That’s pretty much how Spike has it figured,” he said to Giles. “That it may come down to a war.”
Ethan lost his air of casual insolence, jerking upright in sudden alarm. “Bloody hell, Ripper! Are you trying to get me killed?”
Giles glanced at him. “Not at the moment.”
“Then this isn’t Master Spike’s Claimed human?”
“Oh, yes. Spike Claimed Xander some time ago.”
“You know Spike?” Xander asked in surprise.
Ethan was looking very nervous all of a sudden. “We met briefly,” he said. “I’m afraid your vampire was a tad miffed at me.”
Giles just looked amused. “’A tad miffed’?” he repeated. “As I recall, Spike mentioned something about evisceration if he ever saw you again.”
“You’re not helping,” Ethan told him.
“Well, for Spike, that does actually qualify as being just a little miffed,” Xander pointed out which earned him a glare from Ethan. “His threats tend to be a bit more serious when he’s really ticked off. What did you do?”
“You don’t know?” Giles looked surprised. “Ethan is the one responsible for tampering with the Band Candy last year. Not to mention the Halloween costume stunt the year before.” Giles’ eyes darkened. “As well as a number of other things.”
“I feel obliged to point out that I was a mere subcontractor in the candy business…” Ethan began when Xander interrupted.
“That was you?” He looked at Giles. “So, how come you’re sitting here talking to him like he’s an old friend? Shouldn’t you be… I don’t know, slamming the door in his face or calling the police or something?”
“Oh, Ripper’s not going to call the coppers on me, are you, old mate?”
“Haven’t ruled it out,” Giles told him, then looked at Xander and sighed. “I don’t trust Ethan but he does have connections in places I don’t, sources of information that differ from mine.”
“Careful, you’ll hurt my feelings, Ripper,” Ethan drawled sarcastically, then rose to his feet. “Well, given that I value my body parts exactly where they are, this is probably a good time for me to leave town. Wouldn’t want Master Spike to get cranky over a little misunderstanding.” He looked down at Giles who had remained seated on the couch. “Do take care of yourself, Rupert. You’re getting a bit old for this.”
Giles scowled at him. “Stay where you are, Ethan. We’re not done talking.”
“I think not. Not without Master Spike’s permission. That was a fairly serious mention of evisceration and I really don’t want to experience it first hand.” He headed for the door, then stopped with his hand on the knob. The notepads they had all been using when the Gentlemen stole their voices were still stacked neatly on the table just inside the door and Ethan picked one up and wrote something on it. “If you get lonely, you may be able to reach me at this number,” he said, tossing the pad back on the table. “No promises, of course.”
Giles rolled his eyes but made no further attempt to stop him and Ethan opened the door, glancing back at Giles with one more mocking comment: “By the by, Ripper. Do keep an eye out for the demon Prince Barvain. He is scheduled to rise soon.”
Ethan closed the door behind him and Xander gave Giles a raised eyebrow look. “Interesting guy,” he said finally.
“Yes. He always was.” There was a world of mixed emotion in the brief statement which Xander decided he was a lot better off not asking about.
“Giles, are you up for talking or do you need to rest? I can come back.”
Giles straightened up from where he’d begun to list a little sideways on the couch. “Despite Ethan’s cracks, I’m not that old, Xander.”
“Of course not, but you only just got out of the hospital, Giles. You’re entitled to a little down time.”
“I suspect from your expression that we don’t have time for that right now,” Giles said, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
Despite Giles’ obvious fatigue, he listened carefully as Xander outlined what little he’d learned from Buffy about Riley Finn and the Initiative. Knowing Buffy would tell Giles soon anyway, Xander told him what had happened to Spike, admitting frankly that it had been a joint decision not to tell anyone that Spike was temporarily helpless against humans. He was grateful that, other than a frown and a sharp look, Giles didn’t comment on the fact that Xander and Spike had concealed the information until now.
“So, Buffy is dating one of our mysterious soldiers and thinks she can convince him of the error of his ways and, from Spike’s condition, we know for certain they are experimenting on demons with some degree of success,” Giles summed up thoughtfully when Xander finished, flicking him an apologetic look at referring to Spike’s helplessness as being a successful experiment. “I take it you don’t agree with Buffy.”
“No. I mean, even if Riley suddenly becomes best friends with Spike, what good is it? He’s not going to convince his superiors to stop what they’re doing.”
“I agree. Bureaucracies are notoriously inflexible. They’ve obviously been planning this for some time, I don’t see them changing their position because one soldier has allowed his girlfriend to persuade him that their mission is flawed. On the other hand, if Buffy is able to convince this boyfriend of hers, he could prove extremely useful.”
“You mean as a spy?” Xander asked, frowning.
“I was thinking more along the lines of telling us what they are up to. What troubles me the most about these people, Xander is the idea that they are trying to control demons. What has been done to Spike is… unprecedented. Killing demons, even indiscriminately, is one thing and understandable.” At Xander’s protest, he raised a staying hand. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t approve. I merely said it was understandable. Governments do tend toward overkill especially when they are frightened. But for an organized group to be experimenting on demons, trying to control them…” Giles paused, looking very disturbed. “The implications are frightening.”
“Like they’re planning on using what they learn on people?” Xander said grimly, voicing the fear that had haunted him ever since he’d learned what they’d done to Spike.
“Possibly,” Giles said slowly, “but I’m rather more concerned with the idea that the military is seeking a means of controlling demons. There are far too many demons capable of wreaking carnage on a scale humans can barely comprehend for me to be comfortable with the idea of the military trying to harness that power.” Giles made a frustrated gesture. “We need to find out what they are planning and Buffy’s new boyfriend may be our best chance at finding that out.”
Xander drummed his fingers nervously against his leg as he thought that over. He had a hard time picturing the straight-laced soldier he’d met briefly, the man who’d wanted nothing more than to take ‘Hostile 17’ back into custody, acting as a willing spy for them. From what Buffy had said, he’d been pulling the confidentiality card about anything useful. Still, he’d told her the name of his outfit, something he probably hadn’t been supposed to. Covert military operations tended to deny they even existed. Which meant that maybe Riley would slip up again. “I wouldn’t put a lot of money on him agreeing to help us,” he said finally, “but I guess we’ll have to see what Buffy can talk him in to.” It always worked in spy movies for the girl to get secrets out of the guy. “What about your friend? You said he had different connections…?”
“Not military ones.” Giles looked amused at the very idea.
“Do you think he’ll help us?” Xander asked dubiously. Giles was giving off so many mixed signals about this Ethan Rayne guy it was hard to keep up and the man had obviously not left his phone number thinking Giles would call him for sex, as he’d implied. It was obvious there was a lot of history between the two Englishmen but the slender man with the mocking eyes didn’t impress Xander as someone they could rely on.
Giles had let his head drop back against the couch, closing his eyes, and now he smiled slightly. “I don’t know.” He lifted a staying hand and Xander waited, his eyes on Giles, worried about how tired and drawn he looked. After a long moment, Giles sat up and faced Xander, his tired eyes meeting Xander’s steadily.
“Ethan’s not a very reliable source but the fact that he felt it was important enough to come here openly to warn me is significant. Especially since his information fits with what we already know.” He took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose as he continued. “Ethan’s a chaos mage, Xander. Probably the thing he would hate most in the world is the government interfering in the ‘dark worlds’ as he calls them.”
“What do you think 314 means?” Xander asked, wondering if the numbers had any meaning for Giles that he wasn’t aware of.
“I have no idea. However, the demon Prince Barvain is something I’ve heard of. Would you be so kind as to fetch me Van Wyck’s Compendium Demonicae? I believe it’s on the shelves under the window.”
Xander got up obediently. “He was serious about that?” he asked over his shoulder. “I thought that was a joke.”
“Unfortunately, Ethan’s jokes run more along the lines of waking up and discovering he’s turned you into a demon while you were asleep,” Giles said darkly.
Giles had to be exaggerating about that, Xander thought, returning to the couch with the requested volume and preparing for research.
Twenty minutes and three books later, Giles put down the last of the volumes he’d had Xander get for him and took his glasses off again, rubbing tiredly at his eyes.
“Honestly, the thing that really alarms me is the fact that Ethan has given us a timely warning of the demon’s rising.”
Xander looked up from the notes he’d been jotting down for Giles. “You mean he’s making it up about this demon?”
“No. No, it’s clear his information about the demon prince is accurate and, believe me, I am kicking myself for not remembering the significance of the date. What I meant was that it’s much more like Ethan to tell you about something like this five minutes after it’s happened, not more than a week in advance. As Ethan would say: where’s the fun in that?”
Xander raised his eyebrows at the dead-on mimicry of the other man’s voice and the softly reminiscent smile curving Giles’ lips but stuck to his earlier decision not to ask. So not going there. Giles continued after a moment.
“Ethan’s visits usually involve finding out he’s in town because all hell is breaking loose. For him to arrive in town openly and warn me of a real danger - even if it’s a fairly minor one - well, frankly, I’d say Ethan is very worried about the rumors he’s hearing and wanted me to know he was serious. And something bad enough to worry Ethan, terrifies me.”
Xander didn’t know how to answer that. Giles afraid meant the danger was apocalypse-level bad. A five-hundred year old demon capable of destroying half the town rising soon, that was a minor inconvenience in Giles’ view.
Giles’ point of view was a scary place sometimes.
For now, Xander settled on dealing with the immediate problem. “So, the third new moon after the…” he checked his notes “nine-hundredth feast of Delthrox or, in new world talk, Tuesday of next week at sunset.”
“Which gives us plenty of time to prepare and won’t interfere with Buffy’s birthday,” Giles said in weary satisfaction.
Xander headed home shortly after that, having reminded Giles that Buffy hated birthday parties and putting in his vote for not organizing one. He left, fairly sure he’d convinced Giles to just buy her a CD or something. Buffy had mentioned more than once how horrible her birthday parties tended to be. Between Angelus and run of the mill family issues, her last several birthdays had apparently sucked big time, featuring everything from death and mayhem to an absent, indifferent father. Xander could relate and was completely on board with her wanting to break the pattern of her birthday being associated with destruction and disappointment.
He also hoped he’d convinced Giles to take it easy for the next couple of days, pointing out that they had well over a week before they had to worry about the demon prince guy. Giles had acquiesced a little too easily, which spoke volumes about how he was really feeling despite his efforts to appear fine. Xander promised that he and Spike would keep an eye on the crypt the demon was going to rise in - for a wonder there was an actual, specific reference in the texts and they wouldn’t have to hunt all over town for the right spot. He didn’t think Spike would mind doing a sweep during the night and Xander could stop by during the day to make sure nothing was happening on the demon-rising front. The ritual Giles wanted to perform to bind the demon and prevent its rising could wait a few days until Giles was feeling better.
Xander glanced at his watch. It was barely noon and Spike would be sound asleep. He’d make a swing through the cemetery on his way home, find the right crypt, and see how easy it was to get inside.
Spike was sprawled out on Xander’s side of their bed as usual. He wasn’t a covers stealer or a bed hog when they were sleeping together but he automatically moved over to Xander’s side the minute Xander got up in the morning, stealing Xander’s pillow and burying his face in it. He claimed it was to shut out the cracks of light that slipped in around the edges of the window no matter how many times they adjusted the shutters and blackout curtains.
Watching him from the doorway, Xander smiled. Spike hated to admit that he gravitated to Xander’s side of the bed to hold on to the warmth and smell of Xander that lingered on the sheets and pillowcase. He knew Spike wished Xander would adopt a completely nocturnal lifestyle, sleeping during the days and staying up all night, but he wasn’t ready to make that change and didn’t know if he ever would be.
He could be happy forever with this, Xander thought. If there was some way to hang on to what they had now - living together as human and vampire - he would take it. An eternity of Spike, rumpled and crabby in the mornings when he got up, fighting against every normal vampire instinct so he could keep Xander company while he ate breakfast. Of Spike’s rapid mood swings and flaring temper and possessiveness. Of his biting wit and the quieter moments when he would unexpectedly quote snatches of poetry. Of training in the early evenings and lying together on the couch, mocking the television and squabbling over the remote. An eternity of passionate sex and just sleeping together, Spike’s strong arms around him, his head resting against Xander’s back, listening to Xander’s heartbeat as he slept.
“Thinking awfully hard, luv.” Spike’s muffled voice sounded from the pillow. “Everything ok?”
“Everything’s fine. Go back to sleep.”
He crossed to the bed and sat down on the empty side. Spike’s side was closest to the door. Xander smiled involuntarily, one hand reaching out to slide over the smooth pale skin of Spike’s naked back. Spike’s instinctive need to protect his Claimed meant that he automatically slept between Xander and any possible danger that might come charging through the door.
The sheets were twisted around Spike’s hips, the blanket had long since been kicked to the floor. Since they weren’t paying for the heat - Spike having had a former electrician who was a member of the Court hook up the entire building untraceably to the electric grid - they never bothered to turn the heat down in the winter. Which meant that Xander had an enjoyable view right now of Spike’s lean muscular backside with its narrow waist and prominent shoulder blades.
He trailed his fingers down the line of Spike’s backbone, tracing each vertebrae, then bent over and reversed direction, kissing his way back from waist to neck. He took his time, bracing himself on his hands and paying attention to each individual vertebrae, his tongue darting out to taste the cool skin as he kissed and nibbled his way up.
Spike made a low, almost purring sound, arching his back a little. “Thought you wanted me to go back to sleep,” he said, his voice sounding a lot more awake.
Xander lifted his head. “I’m not stopping you,” he pointed out innocently. “Don’t mind me, I’m just amusing myself while you sleep.”
“Wouldn’t want you to be bored, luv.”
“So considerate,” he mocked lightly, then dipped his head again, exploring Spike’s shoulder blades this time, nibbling and licking his way from one side to the other, leisurely tracing the path of the bones lying so close beneath the skin. Spike murmured in appreciation of his efforts.
By mutual unspoken agreement, they had kept their lovemaking slow and gentle ever since the night Spike had returned. It was so easy for Spike to accidentally hurt Xander and neither one wanted to risk Spike being hit with the punishing pain for accidentally gripping hard enough to leave a bruise. And it was fine, but Xander missed the wild passion of the nights when they would tear each other’s clothes off and go at it like crazed weasels, heedless of the bruises and aches that would follow in the morning. Worst of all, they hadn’t dared risked fucking. They’d learned that first night that Spike didn’t have to mean to hurt him. If Spike caused Xander pain, even inadvertently, he paid for it in agony and Xander refused to risk that. He missed it though - the almost unbearable pleasure of Spike pushing inside him, stretching him to the limit, and the shattering pleasure of hard thrusts against his prostate.
But really, it wasn’t anything that Spike hadn’t been putting up with from Xander all this time. As a vampire, Spike had stamina that made a mockery of Xander’s. From things Spike had let slip, Xander knew that Spike had been used to having sex sometimes a dozen times a night. Two vampires could go at it for hours without stopping and be ready for round two five minutes later. Xander couldn’t keep up that pace and Spike had never once reproached him for it. Waiting until Spike was cured wasn’t a hardship, well, not one he couldn’t put up with anyway. Unfortunately, they couldn’t just switch to Xander being on top as a solution.
He’d long since accepted the fact that Spike fucked him, never the other way around. For demons, relationships were all about power and, even though Spike was about as atypical a vampire as you could imagine, Xander had figured out pretty early on that Spike had issues - giant, unresolved issues - with being in any way what he perceived as the weaker partner. As the youngest member of a seriously dysfunctional vampire family, it was hardly surprising. Once Spike had struck out on his own with Drusilla, he had made sure he was never again in a position where he wasn’t top dog. Although Drusilla was technically Spike’s Sire and Spike had loved her to the point there was nothing he wouldn’t have done for her, he had still been the dominant one in the relationship. Drusilla had been too damaged - too freaking insane - to dominate anyone.
And it was fine. Xander didn’t have any issues about being the “bottom” in their relationship. Spike had been the experienced one in the relationship when they had started and it had not only been normal but useful to have Spike take the lead. Xander hadn’t had the first clue about gay sex, any sex actually, when they’d begun dating. It had been awhile before he’d even realized that he always bottomed in their sex life.
Although he would love to fuck Spike, and had all sorts of plans for talking Spike into it one day, now was not the time to broach the subject. There was no way he was going to suggest that Spike start bottoming for him, not when Spike already felt out of control and barely able to deal with the fact that humans had effectively crippled him. Someday though, his lips curved in a smirk worthy of Spike himself, someday when Spike was better, he was going to convince Spike to let Xander fuck him and learn for himself what it felt like from the other end.
“If you’re goin’ to fall asleep back there, take your clothes off and do it proper.” Spike’s voice interrupted his woolgathering and Xander realized that he was staring into space, his thoughts having distracted him from what he had started.
“Well, since you put it so nicely,” he answered, sitting up and peeling his shirt off.
“Oi!” Spike rolled over with the fluid grace that was so much a part of him and pounced, pushing Xander down against the sheets underneath him and glaring down at him. “Not nice to start somethin’ you don’t plan to finish.”
Xander laughed, reaching up to pull Spike’s head down. They kissed slowly, deeply and Xander felt Spike’s hands at his waist, unfastening his jeans. He dropped his hands to help, shimmying the pants off his hips as Spike growled against his lips, kicking at the sheet which had gotten tangled up between them.
Xander rolled them onto their sides, laughing as Spike struggled to get free to the sheet, which had wrapped itself around him as if possessed, finally losing patience entirely and tearing it off him with the sound of ripping cloth.
“Laughin’ at me, luv?” he accused, his voice a silken purr of menace.
“Absolutely not,” Xander denied. “I was laughing at the sheet.”
Spike swooped down and stopped his laughter by the simple expedient of covering Xander’s mouth with his own. Their tongues dueled as Spike shifted so he was on top again, this time with no annoying fabric between them. They were both fully erect and Spike began a maddening rhythm, rocking their bodies together slowly so their cocks slid against each other. Xander gasped into Spike’s mouth and pushed up, wanting more and Spike obliged by pressing down harder, trapping their erections between their bodies as they moved. Pleasure built rapidly as their hips thrust and parried, faster and harder, the pressure and motion driving Xander wild and he came with a yell, his semen spurting out between their bodies as Spike continued to thrust against him until he too came hard.
Looking down at Xander lying beneath him, flushed and panting and beautiful, Spike’s own afterglow faded rapidly. Xander deserved more than this. He deserved a lover who wasn’t such a sniveling coward he was afraid to have sex with his Claimed. If they were careful, if they went slowly…
Even as he thought it, Spike felt his still erect penis soften. He was so afraid of the pain, he couldn’t even maintain an erection and he despised himself for letting humans do this to him. Xander hadn’t complained and Spike knew he never would. Xander would take what he could get and be happy but it wasn’t fair to him.
Worst of all, Spike knew he was endangering Xander because of his fear. His Claim mark hadn’t been renewed in nearly two months and it was faded to the point where it wasn’t protecting Xander any more. Demons wouldn’t know Xander was Spike’s, if anything, they would assume Spike had discarded him since he wasn’t renewing his Claim.
He felt a wave of possessiveness sweep over him. Xander was his and he wasn’t going to let fear stop him any longer.
Spike dipped his head and began laving his tongue over the faded Claim scar. Xander made a pleased sound and pushed his head back into the pillow, exposing more of his neck to Spike’s attentions.
He had to do this. Once again, Spike had the helpless feeling of things inexorably slipping away from him. There was a battle coming and Xander would be at his side. Spike knew that, knew it beyond the slightest doubt but he needed the world to know that Xander was his, Claimed and marked by a Master Vampire. While the Mark made no difference to most humans, it was both warning and proclamation of ownership to demons.
“Do you trust me?” he asked.
Xander gave him an unreadable look. “Of course I do,” he said. “But, Spike, most people only ask that when they’re about to do something they know the other person won’t like. What’s up?”
“Need you to hold still, Xander, no matter what happens. Just for a minute,” he added reassuringly as Xander’s brows drew together and he looked uneasy. “Promise me?”
Spike lifted his scarred eyebrow and Xander sighed. “That’s what the ‘trust me’ was about, right? All right, Spike, I won’t move.”
This was going to hurt and Spike braced himself as well as he could. The pain he could, and had, survived. What worried him was hurting Xander. A Claim mark was supposed to be clean, not the sloppy scar left by feeding. If Spike couldn’t hold himself steady while he did this, his fangs would tear Xander’s flesh.
Spike took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the warmth and scent of his Claimed. Xander’s scent was tainted with nervousness but he lay motionless, his head tilted back, his eyes on Spike, nothing but trust filling the brown depths. Xander knew what Spike intended and Spike felt a rush of love that Xander wasn’t arguing, wasn’t going to try and talk him out of this. His boy knew how much Spike needed to renew the mark the proclaimed to all the world that Xander was his.
Shifting to his true face, Spike took hold of Xander’s shoulders, pinning them down, then hesitated for one more second. Fast or slow? Both held risks and Spike decided that, no matter how much he longed for the taste of Xander’s blood, drawn hot and willing from the source, he needed to do this quickly to minimize the risk to Xander.
Lowering his head, he drove his fangs into the faded scar in the spot between neck and shoulder where the blood vessels ran so thick and close to the surface. Pain tore through him, blinding him and he felt the almost uncontrollable urge to fling himself away, tearing his fangs free in an effort to stop the agonizing pain that filled him, seemingly coming from everywhere at once. Shaking with the effort to stay put, Spike concentrated on not moving, his hands clenched convulsively tight on Xander’s shoulders as he drove his fangs home. The pain built unbearably inside him as he continued sinking his teeth inside the warm human flesh until he was blind, deaf and barely able to cling to the awareness of what he was doing. A scream filling his lungs, his muscles twitching and spasming even as he fought to hold himself steady and disregard the searing agony.
Almost sobbing in relief at accomplishing his goal, Spike carefully began withdrawing his fangs. He felt it the moment they cleared the precious flesh they were buried in and flung himself away from Xander, the withheld scream bursting free as he curled up in agony and let the pain consume him. It was an eternity before the pain ebbed and his nerve endings stopped feeling as if they’d been dipped in acid.
Shaking with the aftermath, Spike felt Xander’s arms gathering him up, holding him against his warm body. Drops of blood slid along the tanned skin and Spike licked them up carefully, cherishing each drop for the gift it was. He licked soothingly at the fresh bite mark, his tongue lingering as it lovingly traced every inch of the mark. His mark.
He’d done it. Spike felt a flush of victory. Despite what they’d done to him, he’d succeeded in renewing his Claim mark on his boy. They’d taken almost everything else from him, but hadn’t been able to take Xander.
The muscles in his arms stopped trembling and he slid them around Xander to hold him close.
“I love you, Spike.” Xander whispered fiercely in his ear, his arms tightening around Spike. “They won’t beat us.”
*A/N - Bits of dialog borrowed from the episode ‘A New Man’