orchidluv (orchidluv) wrote in bloodclaim,
orchidluv
orchidluv
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Nothing the Same, Book 4

Nothing the Same, Book 4
Chapter: 1/who knows?
Pairing: S/X, established relationship
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 5, but anything from Season 1 on.  
Summary:  sequel to Nothing the Same , Books 1 - 3
WARNING:  THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS EXPLICIT, SEXUALLY VIOLENT IMAGES

I didn't think there was going to be any more of this, but the muse had different ideas. 


Author's Note:  The warning above does not reflect a change in the overall tone of the series.  Readers who aren't comfortable with those types of images can simply skip the paragraphs without missing any important plot points.  The section is set off by asterisks at the beginning and end.  

Chapter One

Spike jumped and caught the overhanging edge, swinging himself up and over, landing silently on the roof of the mausoleum.  He crossed the roof, moving with quiet stealth, and chose a spot near the edge, overlooking the shorter crypts and individual tombstones more common in this part of the cemetery, settling in to watch the show.

The Slayer was fighting two vampires.  Both of them had some skill and they were clearly familiar with each other’s moves.  A long-term hunting pair, most like.  The two of them were doing a fair job of tag-teaming the Slayer and Spike lit a cigarette, watching the Slayer intently.

She’d improved in the last few months and her fighting style had changed.  More aggressive.  A bit flashier.  A lot less of the feeble humor she’d been so fond of spouting in between blows.  Now, she kept her jokes for before and after, without the running patter during the fight.  

He wondered who she’d been training with, or if she’d simply shifted into a higher gear -  a natural athlete coming into their own with practice and maturity.

She wasn’t training with the Watcher, Spike knew that for a fact.  And she wasn’t seriously training with her soldier either.  Riley Finn was having problems adjusting to his new role as a “normal” guy.  Finn was well-trained for a human, but he hadn’t been up to the Slayer’s level even when he was pumped full of Maggie Walsh’s drugs.  Now that he wasn’t operating on a chemical high, he wasn’t anywhere near the Slayer’s equal.

She hadn’t been training with Spike either, even though she asked to spar with him back at the beginning of the summer.  Spike took a deep drag, filling his lungs with the warm smoke, remembering that fiasco.  He had flatly refused to spar with her if her toy soldier would be there, and soldier boy had been equally insistent that the Slayer shouldn’t train with Spike unless he was present, so that idea had gone nowhere.  Spike curled his lip.  Like soldier boy could have stopped him from doing anything he wanted during a sparring session with the Slayer.

He exhaled a long puff of smoke, and watched as the Slayer used a tombstone as a vaulting horse, sailing over it to land a double-footed kick in the taller vampire’s stomach, sending him flying backwards, hitting the crypt behind him with enough force to make a serious crack in the marble surface.  The Slayer spun around immediately and tackled - literally - the second vampire who’d been coming up behind her.  The two of them tumbled to the ground, rolling over and over on the grass, both struggling to end up on top.

The Slayer lost that round as they came to a stop with the female vampire on top.  The Slayer managed to get her legs up between them and heaved upwards, shoving the vampire off her, and Spike nodded in approval as the vampire slammed into her partner, sending both of them back to the ground in a tangle of long hair and flailing limbs.  He’d seen the Slayer aim the vampire at her partner as she’d shoved the vampire off her.  The Slayer had  gotten better at keeping track of her opponents’ movements during a fight as well.

The Slayer flipped to her feet and kept the vampires on the defensive as she pounded them, hitting and kicking until the pair was showing signs of breaking and running.  Then, and only then, did she pull out a stake, dusting the woman and yanking the stake out, then throwing it at the male, who’d taken to his heels.  Spike cocked his head and took another drag, watching as the stake whistled through the air and dusted the fleeing vampire in a long trail of ash.

Not a bad fight.  Not quite up to his level yet, he thought judiciously, but getting damn close.  He wondered again what had caused the change.

The Slayer had also taken to hunting more widely than she used to.  Until this summer, she’d always confined her efforts primarily to the town cemeteries and most of her vampire kills were fledglings.  Now she was expanding her patrols, covering more of the town, and she’d tangled with members of the Court for almost the first time since Spike had set up his Court.  She’d dusted half a dozen of his senior minions this summer, no one important, but the surprising thing was that she’d encountered any of them at all.  Living at the Court, most of his minions didn’t spend much time in the cemeteries.  True, some of them had probably gone hunting the Slayer, pumped up with confidence in their fighting skills after the training program Spike had put the entire Court through while getting ready to fight the Initiative.  Two of the casualties had been vampires that had been showing signs of working up the nerve to challenge Spike.  It amused Spike that they had obviously decided to tackle the Slayer first, figuring her to be the easier target.  

Which she was, he thought confidently.  Even with her improved fighting, he was confident he could take her if it came down to that.  

Which it might some day.

Curious to see what would happen next, Spike stayed put as the Slayer examined her shirt with an annoyed expression, obviously upset over some minor damage.  Hands resting on his knees, motionless except for the occasional drag on his cigarette, Spike watched to see what her next move would be.  The Slayer set off energetically across the cemetery, her step almost bouncy, then hesitated, looking around warily.

“Who’s there?”

Spike snorted in disgust, loud enough to be audible in the quiet night air.  Slayer still had a ways to go in the stealth department, that was clear.  

“Considering that the only thing I’ve done to hide the fact that I’m here was not giving a running commentary on the fight, would expect you to bloody well know someone was watching, Slayer,” he said scathingly.

He stood and leapt down from the roof of the mausoleum in one fluid motion, landing lightly on the grass a few feet from her, grinning sardonically as she started in surprise at his sudden appearance.

She gave him a baleful look.  “Are you spying on me?”

Spike lifted his scarred eyebrow.  “Not spying on you, Slayer, just passing the time with the floorshow.”

A smug smile crossed her face at the mention of the fight.  “Pick up any good moves?”

“Your spin-kicks need work,” he told her airily, deliberately misconstruing the question.

“My kicks are great,” she said, glaring at him.

“Well, sure, for a human,” he said provokingly.  He glanced around, conspicuously searching for something he knew wasn’t there.  “Where’s your toy soldier?  Not able to keep up with his super honey, now he’s not pumped full of chemicals?”

The Slayer flushed at the leering innuendo and Spike smirked, knowing he’d guessed right.  

The Slayer had been ditching her soldier more and more frequently, patrolling on her own.  She’d been going out almost every night, much later than she formerly had, and Spike suspected she’d been sneaking out of the house in the wee hours after Finn fell asleep.  From the smell, she’d been rutting with her soldier and had left afterwards to patrol.

Which didn’t say much for her boyfriend’s abilities in the sack either.

“Is there a point to this little encounter, Spike?” she asked testily.  “If not, I need to get home.”

Spike lit another cigarette instead of answering, raising an eyebrow at her exasperated look and the Slayer threw up her hands in disgust and stalked off.  

He wasn’t about to flatter her by telling her he’d been watching her, studying her moves.  Granted, they had a truce, but today’s ally was tomorrow’s enemy and he wasn’t the type to become complacent and assume they would never be trying to kill each other.  

Especially since the complete git she was dating made no secret of the fact that he hated and distrusted Spike.  The few times this summer that Spike had been in the same room as the soldier, he’d smelled the distrust and nervousness that simply rolled off the soldier when he was forced to play nice with the demons in town.  

Wanker didn’t even realize that half the demons the Slayer had dragged him to meet could smell the truth, even when the soldier plastered on a smile and tried to fake sincerity.  Just went to show that you could take the boy out of the Initiative, but you couldn’t take the Initiative out of the boy.  Finn was still Initiative, even if that organization seemed genuinely dead and buried.  And it was obvious that the soldier would never really trust demons.

Not that Spike gave a tinker’s damn what soldier boy thought of him or anyone else.  Xander resented it, which was sweet, but Spike didn’t care.  He grinned now, remembering the way Xander had ripped soldier boy a new one when Finn had made the mistake of telling Xander he’d been foolish to remove the chip that kept Spike “harmless”.  Spike couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Xander tear into someone that way.  Soldier boy had backed down, but it had been obvious that he’d only done so to placate the Slayer; his suspicious eyes continued to follow Spike every time they had the misfortune to meet, making it clear he hadn’t changed his opinion.

Flicking his cigarette butt away, Spike strolled off in the opposite direction from the Slayer.  He had his own patrol to finish, not that there’d been much action recently.  Between the Slayer’s nightly hunts and the generally quiet state of the Hellmouth, it had been a dull summer.

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

Xander signed the last document with a flourish and beamed at Mr. Jenkins.  “I still can’t believe you do this for fun.”

Mr. Jenkins laughed.  “People have been telling me that for 40 years.  Even my wife just shakes her head and tells me I’m crazy.”

Xander looked at the tidy pile of documents they had been going through and was surprised he didn’t feel even a twinge of regret.  The documents transferred ownership of his side business to Rob, the oldest of his employees.

Demand had eased off a lot as his customers gradually became less fearful and convinced the Initiative was gone for good and Xander had been glad.  So much of the work he’d done last spring was because the demon community had been afraid of anything that might call attention to their existence.  

Rob wanted to keep the business going and expand, doing more remodeling work and bigger jobs.  He thought Xander’s little side business had a lot of potential and thought Xander was crazy for not to want to tap it himself.  Xander, who’d been hoping to find a way to shut down the business without leaving his customers in the lurch, had been delighted to learn that Rob wanted to take it on full time, now that he’d graduated from high school.  The customers liked Rob, he’d developed into a good, all around construction guy, and Xander was happy that Sunnydale’s demon community would have a reliable, discrete handyman/construction company to call on for the near future at least.  Xander himself was doing more carpentry than anything else these days and wanted to keep doing that, rather than general construction work, so it had been a good fit all around.

Mr. Jenkins gave him a stern look as he gathered up the papers and put them neatly into a folder.  “Just because I’m not your accountant any more doesn’t mean I don’t expect you to still keep in touch.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Xander told him truthfully.  “There’s no way I’m going without my regular fix of your wife’s cooking.”

Like many of his customers, Mr. Jenkins had become a friend.  Xander enjoyed dropping by their houses to visit them, and intended to keep on doing it.  Often he had just stopped by for five minutes to check on a job and found himself being plied with lemonade and home baked goodies.  A lot of his older clients, and some of the more obvious demons, didn’t get out of the house much and enjoyed having company.  Xander got a kick out of them.  Whether demon or human, they were fun to talk to and he never knew if he would end up listening to a story about surviving the Great Depression or about how their full-blood grandmother defended her nest from a pack of Naarvahl demons.  Either way, the stories were interesting, his customers loved having him visit, and Xander felt like he had a dozen grandparents to replace the real ones he’d never known.

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

“Giles, what’s going on?”  

Xander was tired of waiting for Giles to volunteer the reason behind his sudden drive to organize all his Slayer materials.  The man had been in an organizing frenzy for the past month.  Every time Xander stopped by his apartment, books were piled up everywhere and - most stunning of all - Giles had bought a computer and a scanner and was working his way methodically through the rarer and more fragile of his personal library.  

Ok, Giles was working his way through the books only when he couldn’t con someone else into doing it for him.  The former librarian might finally have caved in to the reality that knowledge could be preserved in a format other than paper or parchment, but he wasn’t going down without a fight.  It was not unusual to enter the apartment these days to find Giles in mid-argument with the computer, as if he could persuade it to do what he wanted by cowing it into submission with colorful insults and elaborate threats.  Unfortunately, the state-of-the-art scanner was proving as stubborn as Giles and it  absolutely refused to scan some of the more faded handwritten volumes, regardless of how often it was threatened.  Xander suspected it was a combination of bad penmanship and the archaic forms of the languages in the books that was causing the problems, but Giles seemed to be taking it as a personal insult to his books and insisted that the books were perfectly readable and that the “bloody machine” was simply being obstinate.  

“What do you mean?”  Giles looked up from where he was working on an index for his Watcher Diaries, another of the projects he’d begun this summer.  “Is that infernal machine refusing to cooperate again?”

“No, I am.”  Xander had finished the book he’d spent the past two days scanning and now pointedly shut down the computer.  “Why are you so gung ho about getting all of this done in such a hurry?  There’s at least six months worth of work here and you’re trying to get it done in six weeks.  What’s the rush?”

Giles closed the notepad he’d been writing in and set down his pen.  He took off his glasses and spent a moment polishing them.  Xander’s eyes narrowed as he watched the familiar signs of deliberate stalling.  He’d been right, something was definitely up.

“Xander, you mustn’t repeat what I’m about to say.  Especially not to Buffy.”  Giles glanced at him, waiting for his agreement.

“Ok,” Xander agreed slowly, wondering what this was about.

“We’re doing all this,” his gesture encompassed the computer and the piles of books waiting to be scanned,  “because I want Buffy to have everything she needs at her fingertips. You see, I’m…,”  Giles looked up at him again, meeting his eyes squarely.  “I’m going back to England.”

For a long minute, Xander just stared at Giles, dumbfounded.  “Why?” he managed to ask finally.

Giles smiled.  “It’s become quite obvious that Buffy doesn’t need me any longer.”  Xander opened his mouth to object but Giles continued before he could speak.  “I don’t say that in a self-pitying way, I’m quite proud of her, actually.  She’s done what very few Slayers have ever done:  lived to be an adult who no longer needs a Watcher.”

“Are you sure?” Xander asked, after a moment.

“I’m very sure, Xander.  England is my home.  While the last few years have proved to be immensely satisfying, I am simply not a Californian at heart.  Especially when I’m not really needed here any longer.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Xander said.  “Do you really think that Buffy’s ready to do this on her own?”  

“Buffy has become quite independent this summer and that is as it should be.”  Giles looked at Xander calmly, “Parents - even surrogate ones - who foist themselves on their children past when they are needed can become very unattractive.”  

All of which would have been far more believable if Giles’ tone hadn’t been just a little too brisk and matter-of-fact.  

“Buffy still needs a Watcher, Giles,” Xander told him.  “She’s no more interested in studying demons now than she ever has been.  That’s always been her major weakness as a Slayer and you know it.  You fill that gap.”

“I agree that Buffy has never been a typical Slayer,” Giles conceded.  “She has always relied on instinct more than preparation.  But she has you and Spike, and the demon community to assist her.  And Riley Finn,” he added after a barely perceptible pause.

Xander suppressed a sigh.  Like the rest of them, Giles was still uncomfortable around Riley Finn.  Everyone had different reasons for their inability to accept him and for Giles, it was primarily the fact that he’d never quite been able to accept the government knowing about Slayers, even a small, covert part of the government.

Maybe especially a small covert part of the government.  

God knows Riley had tried, but Xander didn’t like the fact that Riley had to try so hard.  He was like one of those people who insisted on reassuring Xander that there “was nothing wrong” with him being gay, while still having that look in their eyes that either said they were worried about Xander hitting on them or wondering exactly what it was that he and Spike did in bed.  Xander mostly ignored those type of people.  

Of course, Spike loved to describe exactly what he and Xander supposedly did in bed, in graphic detail and sometimes with sketches, but Xander tried really hard to avoid those conversations whenever possible.  Not only was it deeply embarrassing, but Spike liked to claim they did things that Xander was pretty sure were only physically possible for a contortionist who’d memorized the kama sutra.

Xander shook his head, realizing his thoughts had strayed a little far off the subject.  Not that Riley wasn’t a big part of the problem between Buffy and Giles this summer.  True to form, Buffy had gone off the deep end over a guy, spending all her time with Riley and letting their relationship take precedence over almost everything else in her life.  

Buffy hadn’t trained, or done much of anything else with Giles in a long time.  Looking back, Xander couldn’t remember the last time Buffy had mentioned training with anyone but Riley.  

So, no training his Slayer to occupy his time, the patrol schedules had long since been worked out and didn’t require Giles’ assistance, and there hadn’t been any emergencies that called for research since the Initiative was defeated.  Thinking back over the summer, Xander realized belatedly that Giles had been showing all the signs of someone who didn’t know what to do with themselves.  Which explained the current organizing frenzy.

Last year, Buffy had still been relying on Giles, although to a lesser extent than in previous years.  Giles had also taken on the job of working with the demon community to coordinate their efforts against the Initiative, and, in general, there had been enough going on that Giles had been an active participant in his Slayer’s life and work.  This summer, with Buffy and Riley wrapped up in each other, and all quiet on the demon front, Giles had had too much time on his hands.  

Time he’d apparently used for brooding.

Xander realized he’d been sitting there, lost in thought, long enough that Giles was staring at him curiously.

“Sorry.  I guess I hadn’t realized how dull this summer has been for you.  But, Giles, doesn’t a Watcher stay with their Slayer for…”  He caught himself just before saying “for life”.  “For ever?” he finished somewhat lamely.

“That has certainly been true historically, but there were many reasons for that life-long relationship, a number of which no longer hold true.”

“Like what?”  Xander tried to keep his tone curious, not challenging.

“Xander, I rather doubt you are actually interested in historical trivia about the Watcher-Slayer relationship.”  Giles gave him a stern look.

Busted.  “Ok, I’m not really interested.  But Giles, I think you’re underestimating how much you mean to Buffy.  You’re not just her Watcher.  Since her dad dropped off the face of the earth, you’re practically her father.”

“Buffy will be fine,” Giles told him calmly.  “It’s not like I won’t be reachable by phone if she needs me.  She’s maintained her relationship with Willow quite handily despite the fact that Willow has been in England.  I have no doubts that she will be able to do the same with me.”

Xander backed down in the face of Giles’ quiet determination.  Just because Xander would miss him, didn’t give him the right to demand that Giles stay, especially when Giles obviously didn’t feel either needed or useful here.  

“When are you going to tell her?” he asked, wondering if he should talk to Buffy despite his promise not to.

“Soon,” Giles told him.

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

“Giles is leaving town.”

Spike finished lining up his shot and dropped the 5-ball neatly in the corner pocket before straightening up and leaning against his cue.  Head cocked to one side, he regarded his Claimed.  “Thought that might be coming.”

“You knew?” Xander looked at him in surprise.

“Stands to reason.”  Spike shrugged carelessly.  “Hasn’t been paid by the Council for over a year.  Slayer doesn’t give him the time of day any more.  Nothing to keep him here, is there?”

Xander looked depressed and Spike frowned, wondering how to cheer him up.  The Watcher leaving would devastate Xander.  “Can threaten him for you if you want, pet.  Force him to stay.”

His boy just shook his head, lips curling in a small, reluctant smile.  “No, but thanks for the offer.  It’s just that I’ll miss him.”

“Been more a father to you than your own ever was, ‘course you’ll miss him.  Still, you’ll manage to keep in touch.  Done it with everyone else who’s left town, haven’t you?”  

Xander was obsessive about that.  Even kept in touch with the Witch, who’d thankfully spent most of the summer in England where Spike could pretend she didn’t exist.  His boy spent time every week at the library, exchanging emails with the scattered friends that he clung to so tenaciously.  Xander didn’t handle loss well, and had kept most of the people he cared about in his life through sheer bloody stubbornness and his absolute refusal to let them go.  Spike had no doubt that the Watcher would find himself in that group soon.

“I just don’t see Giles getting into email,” Xander answered gloomily.  He bent over the table, signaling the end of the conversation and lined up his shot.  It said a lot about his emotional state that he missed the bank shot he was aiming for by a mile, sending the ball rocketing around the table.

Spike reached out and took the cue from him.  “Let’s get out of here, pet.  You’re off your game.”  He thought about offering to take Xander patrolling with him, but Xander didn’t get the same enjoyment out of killing things that Spike did.  On the other hand, sex usually cheered Xander up and Spike was always ready for a couple rounds of sweaty fun between the sheets.  

Xander didn’t protest, and Spike steered him towards the door, one hand on the small of his back as they made their way through the crowded bar, his fingers tracing the warmth of Xander’s suntanned skin through his cotton t-shirt.  In the heat of the late August night, they were both wearing t-shirts and jeans, and Spike’s appreciative gaze roamed over Xander’s figure:  admiring the narrow waist and broad shoulders of his boy, the dark, wavy hair Spike kept talking him out of cutting, which brushed past his shoulders now, and the darkly tanned skin which spoke of long hours working outside.

All the little insecure tells had finally disappeared in the past year and Xander kept his shoulders back and his head up these days.  His Claimed moved with the powerful grace of a self-confident man who knew what his body could do.  Between his workouts with Spike and his construction job, Xander had lost the last traces of teenage coltishness and become a sexy, confident man and Spike loved to watch him.

Coming up beside the deSoto, Spike grabbed Xander’s wrist as he moved automatically towards the passenger side, pulling him back and pushing him up against the hood of the car.  Xander laughed and sat down on the hood, feet on the front bumper, his knees spreading apart to welcome Spike between them.  “Thinking about cheering me up?” he asked.

“Was considering it,” Spike told him, moving between Xander’s legs and leaning in, kissing Xander with slow thoroughness, sliding his hands into the dark wavy hair, holding Xander still while his mouth moved sensuously over Xander’s.  Xander responded with the same slow, rising heat, arms sliding around Spike’s waist, his thighs hugging Spike’s hips as their mouths moved against each other:  tongues exploring, teeth nibbling, passion rising.

Xander finally pushed him back with a breathless laugh.  “Shall we take this home?” he suggested, eyes dark with passion.

“Don’ know, luv, like the thought of you sprawled naked on top of my car,” Spike purred.

“Yeah, but the audience would be a turn off,” Xander said, as Spike had known he would.  He’d never been able to convince Xander that sex in public would be fun.  He didn’t move as Xander slid off the hood, so that their bodies ended up pressed full length, and he smirked as he felt clear evidence of Xander’s arousal pressing against him.  “Sure you can wait, pet?” he asked smugly.

“Just long enough to get home,” Xander told him.  “I want you naked twenty seconds after we’re in the apartment.”  He grinned challengingly at Spike.  “Think you can handle that?”

Spike gave him a quick, hard kiss, then headed for the driver’s door.  “Get your ass in gear, luv.  If you take longer than 10 seconds, those clothes are going to be in rags.”

He roared out of the parking lot, Xander’s sunlit laughter filling the car.

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

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.”  Xander couldn’t help an incredulous double-take at the tall, silent figure that suddenly appeared in front of him as he was walking home through the early twilight.  Black, ankle-length cape with a flash of scarlet lining, silk shirt, dark, shoulder-length hair, and dime-store fangs.  “Ok, points for having the whole ensemble, so I’m guessing there’s a magician in the family, but can I just point out that Halloween is over two months away and, given this town’s track record, probably not your best choice of costumes in any case.”

“Be silent.”

And cheesy accent to match the outfit, Xander thought, shaking his head in disbelief.  “Where did you get that accent, Sesame Street?”  He couldn’t resist, he’d always liked the Count on Sesame Street:  “Vun, two, tree -- tree victims.  Mwa ha ha!”  Not bad, he told himself.  Maybe the evil laugh needed work but…

“Whoa!”

Xander nearly jumped out of his skin as the vampire-wannabe in front of him disappeared, leaving only a curl of fog behind him.  

“You have been Claimed.”

Heart pounding, Xander whirled around to see the black-clad figure standing behind him.  Swallowing hard, he was forced to admit that the accent sounded a lot less cheesy and a lot more scary when it was speaking practically in your ear.  

“Who the hell are you?” he demanded, taking a cautious step back.

The man inclined his head slightly and Xander suddenly realized just how tall he was, several inches taller than Xander himself.  “Forgive me, I assumed you knew.  I am Dracula.”  

Just to be safe, Xander took another step back.  “Ok, not really buying that.  He’s like a fictional character, right?”  Surreptitiously reaching for his cross, Xander wished his voice hadn’t sounded so uncertain on the last word.  He knew Spike would be pissed at him for going for his cross instead of a stake, but he couldn’t take the chance this wasn’t some kind of practical joke.  Smacking a human in the face with a cross would maybe leave a bruise and hard feelings but a stake through the heart would kill a human as easily as a vampire.

He eased the cross out of his back pocket and, as soon as it cleared the fabric, swung it hard at the guy’s face.  Again, the guy simply vanished, the cross swiping through a patch of mist that hadn’t been there a second earlier.  

“Who is your Master?”

Xander jumped again, already tired of this guy popping up behind him and beginning to worry that he might be seriously out of his depth with this one.  He turned and shoved the cross straight at the guy, who vanished again.  Xander didn’t wait for him to reappear behind him this time, spinning around immediately, right elbow leading, only to slam with bruising force into a hard, muscled body halfway through the turn.  An inhumanly strong arm wrapped around his waist, pinning his left arm down and chill fingers gripped his right wrist tightly, preventing him from swinging the cross.

“Put it down.”

The cross fell from his suddenly lax fingers and Xander wasted a moment staring down at it in disbelief.  The guy had just told him to drop the cross and his hand had obeyed.  What the hell?

Snapping out of it, he reminded himself that he knew a fair bit about self-defense, thanks to Spike, but before he could move, the imprisoning arm was gone from his body and the vampire simply appeared in front of him again.  Xander started to scramble backwards, intending to get the hell out of there but suddenly froze, staring into the vampire’s dark eyes, unable to look away.

The vampire reached out and pulled down the neck of Xander’s t-shirt, stretching it so that it no longer covered Spike’s Claim Mark.

“Who is your Master?”

“Spike.”  Trapped in the vampire’s stare, Xander heard his own voice distantly as he answered.

“Why does he let you wander alone at night, where others might find you?”

“Because he trusts me.”

Xander shivered as the vampire traced his Claim scar with one fingertip.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything while those eyes held his.  He could feel his heart pounding and his breath coming in short, shallow pants but he couldn’t tear himself away from the grip of the dark eyes.

“He is foolish, your Master.”  The finger moved lower, drifting across his skin beneath the stretched neckline of his t-shirt.  “He does not give you what you need.”

Xander struggled to protest that, opening his mouth to say something.

“Be silent.”  

The words died unspoken at the soft-voiced command.  The vampire drifted around him, the slight fluttering of his cape seemingly the only thing moving as he slid behind Xander.  A hand traced along his back, the unnatural coolness felt even through the worn cotton t-shirt.  

“There are no scars on your back,” the accented voice purred in his ear.  “Has your Master never shown you the pleasure to be found in pain?”

His whole body shivered compulsively for one instant, like a dog shedding water, and Xander felt like he was surfacing after nearly drowning.  Those hypnotic eyes no longer held him captive and he lunged forward, unable to think of anything but getting away from the vampire.  

He’d only managed two steps when there was a shimmer in the night air and Dracula was in front of him again.  Xander no longer had any doubts that this was Dracula.  He’d never encountered a vampire with powers anything like this and he grabbed the stake from his waistband and stabbed wildly at the vampire’s chest.

The stake was slapped out of his hand with a motion almost too quick to see and an implacable grip closed on his forearms.  Xander yanked back with all his strength but the vampire didn’t even need to brace himself against Xander’s struggles, holding him with effortless ease.

Xander kept his eyes on the vampire’s chest, “Let.  Me.  Go.” he demanded furiously.  

“Look at me.”  

He almost looked up but was able to stop himself from obeying, the voice alone was something he could resist, now that he’d had some warning.  “Spike will kill you for touching me,” he said in a low, deadly voice.

Cold fingers closed painfully on his jaw, forcing his head up, and Dracula’s eyes burned into his.  “Shall I take you from him, little Claimed?  Shall I show you what it truly means to be the Claimed human of a Master Vampire?”

Lost in the depths of Dracula’s hypnotic stare, Xander couldn’t answer, couldn’t even remember the question.  His world narrowed to the fathomless eyes holding his own and he was drowning in their darkness.

                                                                                   * * *

Xander struggled wildly against the shackles, even though experience had taught him it was futile.  The manacles around his wrists were padded, preventing him from doing permanent damage to himself.  His bare feet scraped the concrete floor, he could stand only on tip toe, an effort that was long beyond his strength as the session went on and on.  

A sharp crack was his only warning before fire erupted along his ribs as the lash curled around him, cutting into his skin and drawing blood.  He screamed, chains rattling as he tried to jerk away from the agony lancing across his back, and his Master laughed.

Xander waited for the next blow, already half-flinching in anticipation of the pain, but it didn’t come.  He could feel each separate droplet of blood rolling down the flayed skin of his back and he moaned as a cool tongue traced the line of the most recent welt, teasingly swiping over his skin and lapping up the droplets with a pleased murmur.

The worse thing was, like everything else his Master did to him, it was almost unbearably arousing.

“Very good, little Claimed,” his Master praised him.  A gentle hand lifted his head and cool fingers stroked the sweat-dampened hair out of his eyes.  Dark eyes captured his as they always had from the day they’d first met.

Inhumanly strong fingers closed around his bound cock and stroked once down the swollen length, from the ring at the base constricting his cock and balls and denying him release to the dripping head.  Xander whimpered, biting his lip to prevent himself from begging.

His Master chuckled.  “Always so stubborn, little Claimed.  Even knowing that you have never won, you still attempt to defy me.”  

Dracula stroked along the length of his aching erection once more.  “But I can be merciful, little Claimed.  All you need to do is ask.”

Dracula’s eyes bored into his, reading his soul and his most deeply hidden desires, and Xander couldn’t look away.  His hips moved helplessly, thrusting into his Master’s hand, desperately craving the release he’d been denied for so long.  As Dracula had once promised, the pain in his back merged with the arousal, intensifying both, until Xander couldn’t bear it any longer.

“Please,” he begged, shame overcoming him, surrendering as he always did.

The hand on his cock gripped tighter, stroking harder and Xander let out a hoarse cry at the unbearable sensation, hips jerking wildly in desperate need.  “You must tell me what you want, little Claimed.  Ask and your Master will grant you your desire.”

Despising himself, wishing he were dead, Xander heard his own voice sobbing:  “Please, bite me.”

Triumph flashed across Dracula’s face, before he lowered his head to Xander’s Claim Mark.  Needle-sharp fangs penetrated his skin as Dracula released the cock ring and Xander screamed in agony and ecstasy, his body jerking wildly at the pain and pleasure as his long-delayed orgasm erupted out of him.  His release went on and on, unbearable pleasure and agonizing pain woven together until he couldn’t tell one from the other and he was drowning in sensation as he came over and over again, feeling the exquisite pleasure of blood being drawn from his veins as his Master drank from him, until he collapsed, barely conscious, the chains the only thing keeping him upright.
 

                                                                                    * * *

Xander dropped to the ground like his legs had been cut out from under him and for a long moment just stared stupidly at his wrists, wondering where the chains had gone.  He looked up dazedly, seeing the quiet residential street and the amusement in Dracula’s eyes before he looked away again quickly.  He pushed himself shakily to his feet, grateful to find that he was fully dressed, not naked like he’d been in… whatever the hell that had been.  He flexed the muscles in his back, testing, and found that the bloody stripes from the whip were gone from his shoulders and back.  He hadn’t even embarrassed himself, he was grateful beyond measure to discover as he brushed a hand across the front of his jeans under cover of straightening his clothes.

Avoiding Dracula’s eyes, he briefly considered pretending he hadn’t experienced anything but rejected the idea almost immediately.  Aside from the fact that he was too shaken to carry it off, he didn’t want to risk Dracula doing that to him again, which the vampire was bound to, since he’d obviously been trying to prove a point.

“I am forgetting my manners, little Claimed,” Dracula said mockingly and Xander flinched at the title.  “It is rude to take another Master’s Claimed human without proper formalities.  I will leave you for now and take the matter up with William.”

His cape flared out suddenly and Dracula seemed to fold into himself, his outlines blurring and shrinking and transforming until a large bat flew past Xander’s head, showing just a flicker of scarlet under its wings and Xander ducked instinctively as it banked and circled, swooping around his head, almost tangling in his hair, before ascending lazily into the clear night sky.

Xander wrapped his arms around himself, feeling cold in a way that had nothing to do with the temperature of the August night, and waited for the trembling in his muscles to stop.  He let his mind go blank, not willing to think about what had happened just yet, closing his eyes and trying to calm himself down.  It was over, he wasn’t hurt, and nothing had really happened to him.

His breathing evened out and he no longer felt like his legs were about to collapse at any moment and a sudden thought surfaced through the roiling chaos in his mind:  How did Dracula know Spike’s original name?  

~~~~~~

A/N:  Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episode ‘Buffy vs. Dracula’


TBC


 
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