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 SEX
Previous parts here
Xander had frozen in the doorway, staring in appalled horror at his face, and Spike wondered what he was seeing. Sometimes the inability to look in a mirror was a distinct disadvantage. He could tell by touch and by the reduced pain that the claw marks on his face were healing after the blood he’d drunk, but obviously they were still fairly noticeable, given the way Xander was fixated on them.
“Not to worry, pet. Be gone in a day or two.” The deep gashes in his shoulders where Spike had torn free of Dracula’s claws would take a bit longer to heal completely, but his ribs and the scratches on his face weren’t anything to be worried about.
All in all, he was extremely pleased with how the fight had gone. Dracula had been a better fighter than Spike had expected and, in the end, he hadn’t been able to keep Drac alive and suffering like he’d deserved. Still, he thought smugly, being known as the vampire who staked Count Dracula wasn’t going to do his reputation any harm.
Xander shot a suspicious glance at the sink and Spike cursed himself for carelessly leaving the empty blood bags scattered around. At this rate, Xander would be coddling him and refusing to participate in celebratory sex. “’m fine, luv,” he repeated firmly. “Told you Dracula wasn’t going to be any problem.”
Xander just shook his head and moved to his side to examine the deep tears in his shoulders. “Your definition of fine needs a little work, Spike. These must hurt like hell.” He moved away before Spike could get his arms around him - he hated to admit it but the injury to his shoulders was still hampering his movement despite six bags of blood. He’d hardly felt them at all in the immediate aftermath of the fight, but Dracula had done some fairly serious damage to the muscles and he was feeling it now. The blood had helped but it would take a day or two for his arms to fully heal. Not that he wasn’t prepared to ignore that for the sake of sex with his Claimed, but he was afraid that was going to be a problem as Xander turned back with the first aid kit in his hands.
He let Xander fuss over him, putting unnecessary bandages over the wounds, grateful that Xander knew better than to even try and put bandages on his face. Vampires simply did not wear bandages, it was too much a sign of weakness. He was disappointed but not surprised that Xander was completely businesslike as his hands moved gently over Spike’s wounds, not letting them stray to more interesting places, despite the fact that Spike had taken off his shirt and was sitting there, perched on the kitchen table, half naked and very horny.
He waited patiently until Xander had finished, then circled his arms around Xander’s waist, preventing him from moving away again. “It’s traditional to welcome the victorious warrior home,” he hinted.
“You so deserve nothing but a peck on the cheek,” Xander told him but a smile tugged at his lips and Spike was relieved to see that Xander had obviously decided that Spike’s injuries weren’t all that serious.
So he was a bit surprised, not to mention outraged, when Xander did in fact lean over and give him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Oi!” he protested, but Xander just laughed and did the same thing to his other cheek.
“Xander…,” he began sternly - no way was Xander going to be allowed to treat him like an invalid - when Xander put a hand over his mouth. Spike glared at him.
“Spike, if you shut up and sit still, you just might get very, very lucky,” Xander told him, dark eyes beginning to sparkle with laughter.
That sounded promising and Spike teased at Xander’s palm with his tongue, his hands beginning to slide downwards. “Tell me more,” he purred as soon as Xander moved his hand.
Xander frowned at him with mock sternness and removed Spike’s hands from around his waist, setting them firmly down on the table next to him. “I believe I said shut up and sit still.”
Spike lifted an eyebrow questioningly, but kept his hands where they were, curious as to what Xander had in mind.
Apparently what he had in mind was placing his hands on Spike’s hands, lightly pinning them to the table and leaning forward. Firm dry lips nibbled at his own and Spike let his own lips part willingly. Xander teased him with light flicks of his tongue, grazing along his lips and teeth but not delving inside the way Spike wanted him to. He tried capturing that elusive tongue, but Xander evaded him with a throaty chuckle. He abandoned Spike’s mouth entirely to begin kissing his way down Spike’s throat, nipping lightly along the thick veins running just below the surface, mouthing kisses along the taut skin as Spike arched his head back and gave Xander room to work.
Xander licked and kissed along the line of Spike’s collarbone, his tongue swirling and tasting Spike’s skin. His hands tightened warningly over Spike’s when Spike tried to lift his hands to touch Xander. Spike subsided with a groan, finding this slow, teasing seduction almost unbearably arousing.
Xander just chuckled again, his breath puffing warmly across Spike’s skin as he did so, and his mouth drifted lower, tasting the smooth skin of Spike’s chest, nipping, kissing and licking his way down to Spike’s brown nipples. He spent a long time there, his tongue teasingly circling first one nipple then the other, until a hoarse groan broke from Spike’s lips and Xander relented, laving his tongue over the tight, crinkled peaks, sending jolts of blissful sensation down to Spike’s eagerly straining erection.
After lingering at his nipples long enough to drive Spike crazy, Xander began journeying south again, tracing the hard muscles of his abdomen, playfully darting his tongue in and out of Spike’s bellybutton in a suggestive rhythm that had Spike stirring restlessly against Xander’s restraining hands.
Xander lifted his head for the first time since he’d started this tease and looked Spike in the eye. “Don’t move,” he breathed, and raised his hands to deftly unbutton and unzip Spike’s jeans, allowing his aching erection to spring free.
“Hmmm,” he said consideringly, then - bloody hell! - put his hands back down over Spike’s and bent his head to the task of driving Spike completely out of his mind.
His tongue darted out, tasting the tip of Spike’s hard cock, lapping teasingly at the droplets already welling from the slit, before he shifted around and began licking in earnest, his warm tongue caressing the entire length, slow languid motions of his tongue that made Spike clench his fingers down hard on the edge of the table to keep the still, as he threw his head back, hips bucking up into the incredible sensation.
Xander worked tirelessly to drive him to the brink, shifting back to swirl his tongue around the engorged head of Spike’s penis, then abandoning that, to lick down the length again, his tongue exploring every contour, teasing the foreskin, even nipping lightly, surprising a whimper of lust out of Spike. That seemed to be what Xander had been waiting for and he finally swallowed Spike down, encasing the straining length in his hot mouth and sucking hard.
The slow teasing seduction had done its work and Spike erupted with a yell, emptying himself into Xander’s eager mouth, his come pulsing out of him into that warm, loving cavern, as Xander struggled to swallow all of his offering.
Xander drained him dry, pulling back a little and letting some of the semen escape from the corner of his mouth. Spike bent over him, his freed hands circling Xander’s shoulders as Xander grinned up at him triumphantly.
“Bloody hell, pet.”
The moment he got close enough to sense the Slayer, a wave of fresh anger swept over him and Spike forgot all about his promise to Xander. He crossed the distance between them in a flash and then he was on her, yanking her away from her toy soldier, his fist connecting before she knew he was even in the same cemetery. The blow sent her flying, crashing into a tombstone, the force of the impact cracking the granite and sending her sprawling to the ground amid shards of broken stone.
“What the hell?”
Spike ignored the shout from the Slayer’s boy, leaping forward to where the Slayer was still scrambling to her feet after the unexpected attack. He yanked her up and punched her again but she was prepared this time and set herself, absorbing the blow and throwing one of her own.
“What is your problem, Spike!” she yelled. She punched him again, in the stomach this time, hard enough to knock him back a step, breaking his grip on her shirt and sending a stab of pain through his injured ribs despite the additional blood Xander had made him drink. The pain brought him back to his senses and he forced himself to back off. He’d promised Xander he wouldn’t kill her, he reminded himself, taking a firm grip on his temper.
Never shifting his furious glare from her face, Spike ignored the pain in his shoulders and swung backwards with one fist, knocking the boyfriend off his feet as he approached at a run. The soldier stumbled to the ground, the stake he’d held clutched in one hand spinning away into the grass as he fell.
“Spike, stop! What the hell’s going on?” The Slayer stepped back one step, disengaging but remained on guard, wary of another attack.
“You knew Dracula was in town and you didn’t give so much as a warning to people who are supposed to be your allies.” He snarled, ripping off the orange and blue scarf she’d tied around her neck, exposing the bite mark the scarf had been covering. “Or are you going to try and tell me it wasn’t Dracula who gave you that?”
The Slayer lifted a guilty hand, covering the two puncture marks on the right side of her neck.
“What business is it of yours, Spike?” The soldier said contemptuously from behind him. “Hoping to join his fan club while he’s in town?”
Spike didn’t bother even glancing in the soldier’s direction. “Xander was going out of his mind worrying about you, trying to warn you, and you knew all along that Dracula was in town. What the hell are you playing at? You endangered Xander, you stupid bint. The only reason you’re not dead already is because he doesn’t want me to kill you, no matter how much you deserve it.”
The Slayer looked surprised, her anger at what she’d obviously thought of as an unprovoked attack fading into concern. “What are you talking about? Is Xander all right?”
“Don’t be thicker than you already are, Slayer. You know that Xander is a target for other Master Vampires because he’s my Claimed. You saw what Angelus did to him during our little dust up two years ago. Why the hell didn’t it occur to you that Dracula might take a shot at Xander while he’s in town?”
Now that it was too fucking late, the Slayer looked horrified. “He didn’t, did he?” she asked faintly.
“Yes, he damn well did,” Spike snarled. “Just lucky he didn’t do more than mess with Xander’s head with his mojo, since Xander didn’t have a clue who he was dealing with, thanks to the fact that you hadn’t bothered to warn us.”
“That’s enough, Spike!” The soldier clamped a hand down on Spike’s shoulder, attempting to force him around to face him instead of the Slayer. Spike shook him off like the annoying mayfly he was but otherwise ignored him.
“No, Riley, he’s right.” The Slayer hadn’t taken her eyes off Spike even as she addressed her boyfriend. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that Dracula would be a problem for anyone but me.” She flushed. “He… he made it seem like he was only in town because he was interested in me.”
“Of course he did, you idiot, that’s how he works. How a Slayer as ignorant about their main opponents as you has survived this long, I’ll never understand,” Spike said disgustedly. “Drac’s big into the seduction thing - fucking hell, there’s entire books on his techniques ever since the poncy git went public a century ago.”
She blushed again and Spike gave her a tight, contemptuous smirk, still ignoring the soldier who’d come to stand beside her, arms folded, trying to look like he mattered. “Let me guess: Drac told you he’s searched everywhere for you, that you are the only one worthy of him, that you are different from everyone else.” The Slayer’s face was on fire now and she wasn’t meeting his eyes any more. Spike snorted in contempt. “Figures. You birds have been falling for the same lines for 300 years. No wonder Drac doesn’t bother coming up with new ones.”
He fished a cigarette out of his pocket and lit up, blowing the smoke in the soldier’s direction. “You listening, soldier boy? Never hurts to pick up a few hints about what works and what doesn’t.”
The soldier was staring at the Slayer, looking absolutely betrayed.
“Riley, no, it wasn’t like that,” she began, but Spike interrupted.
“You two can handle the relationship spat on your own time,” he said impatiently. He gave the Slayer a hard stare. “You put my boy in danger again and we’ll have more than just this little slap and tickle we had tonight. We clear?”
She wrenched her gaze away from her boyfriend. “I’m sorry, Spike. I would never deliberately put Xander in danger. I’ll call him tomorrow and apologize.”
“See that you do.” Not that it would matter to Xander who would be far too forgiving as always. “I’ve taken care of Dracula, and Xander’s talking to your mum. Did you even realize that you left her wide open for a return visit since Dracula got her to let him into your house?”
He deliberately ignored the fact that Dracula had probably thralled the Slayer into not talking about his little midnight biting party. Let her feel guilt over putting her mum in danger, might make the lesson sink in a bit more. He was guessing at what had happened, of course, but, given that Joyce had told them that she’d let a strange man into the house last night and Dracula’s hunting patterns being what they were, it wasn’t much of a stretch to guess that the Count had wafted into the Slayer’s bedroom last night for a little mind-fuck and biting session.
The tidal-wave of color that swept across her face this time was pure embarrassment. Soldier boy was back to looking betrayed and all was right in Spike’s world. His work was almost done here.
“Don’t worry, Slayer. I killed the big bad monster for you,” he said in mock soothing tones.
That snapped her out of it and she glared at him. “Damnit, Spike. Dracula was my kill.”
Spike smirked at her. “Damn shame, you missing a prime kill like that. But if you wanted the credit, you should have killed him when you had the chance instead of acting like a lovesick schoolgirl.”
He strode off without another word, hearing the soldier’s hurt questions starting up again behind him. The Slayer might be an idiot about things she should bloody well think through before putting everyone around her in danger, but that boy had insecurities the size of the Mayor post-transformation. That relationship wasn’t going to last long.
Crossing the cemetery heading for home, Spike wondered idly if he could get up a betting pool on when the final breakup would happen.
“I feel like such an idiot, Xander.” Joyce shook her head, seeming bewildered by her own actions.
Xander had driven over to the house, wanting to check on her after Spike had told him that Dracula claimed he’d bitten Buffy last night and told him that the Count had a fetish for biting women in their own homes.
Spike had left to track down Buffy. He was angry that Buffy hadn’t told anyone about Dracula, but he’d promised he wouldn’t attack her physically. Xander was pretty sure Spike wouldn’t lose his temper and break his promise, especially because he was still hurting from his fight with Dracula. When he wasn’t too angry to think straight, Spike did have a streak of caution in him, and Buffy was growing into her Slayer powers, getting to be stronger and a better fighter. Even Spike had commented on the change he’d seen in her over the summer.
“You’d think I would know better, but he seemed like such a nice, normal guy. Maybe a little pale.” Her brows drew together in puzzled uncertainty. “I don’t understand what happened. I’m not like this. I don’t invite strange men in for coffee, especially not vampires.” She flashed him a tiny smile. “Spike being the exception, of course.”
“This wasn’t your fault,” Xander told her reassuringly. “I mean, this is Dracula we’re talking about, not some two-bit minion. He had some pretty freaky abilities.” That was putting it mildly. “Getting people to invite him in is kind of what he does.”
She nodded, still looking a little shaken by the fact that she’d invited a vampire inside her home.
“Why don’t I call Willow’s friend Tara to come over and do a disinvite spell, just to be absolutely sure,” he suggested, glad he’d had the idea when Joyce looked relieved.
“Thanks, Xander. I know it’s silly, but I think that would make me feel better.” Joyce frowned. “The spell won’t keep Spike out, will it?”
“Yeah, it will, but all you have to do is re-invite him.” He grinned. “He’ll love it if you make sure to invite him in in front of Buffy.”
Joyce shook her head, obviously torn between smiling and frowning over the continuing friction between Buffy and Spike. They respected each other and worked together well, but they never had found a way to like each other.
Xander checked the time. It was barely 10:00, he was pretty sure Tara would still be awake and willing to come over. Tara was like that. Xander didn’t know her very well yet but she was just about the kindest person he’d ever met and he was sure she would be willing to come over tonight so that Joyce could sleep easy.
“I’m really sorry, Xander. I didn’t think. I never meant to put you in danger.”
Buffy looked at him apologetically. She’d called this morning and arranged to meet him at the espresso pump. She’d greeted him quietly and fidgeted uncomfortably as they placed their order, hardly saying anything until the waitress had set their coffees down and left them alone. Xander had known why she was calling, of course, and he’d had all morning to think about what he wanted to say.
“Buffy, I want to say it’s no big deal. But I’m having a hard time because it could have been.”
It really was hard to get too worked up when everything had worked out ok but Dracula could have caused Spike serious problems with the Court. A vampire as legendary as Dracula made waves just by being in town. If he had decided to just stroll into the Court and announce himself, every vampire in the Court would have been considering whether to switch allegiances and watching Spike like a hawk for any sign of weakness. A heads up that he was in town would have been really helpful so that Spike wasn’t taken by surprise.
Fortunately, Dracula really had been in town because of Buffy and hadn’t bothered to learn anything about who the Master of the Territory was before arriving. As far as anyone could tell, he’d set himself up in his “castle” and hadn’t had any intention of dealing with anyone but the Slayer until he’d happened to sense Xander’s Claim Mark and gotten curious.
Granted, if she’d warned them, Xander might not have had to deal with Dracula’s freaky illusion experience but he’d been working steadily at repressing everything he’d seen and felt during that, and thought it would retreat into nothing more than the occasional nightmare soon.
“I know. Spike explained it to me.” She rubbed her face absently as if she could still feel Spike’s fist crashing into it. “The thing is…” she stopped. “I screwed up, Xander,” she said bluntly. “And I can’t seem to stop screwing up.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked blankly.
“I love Riley,” she said, somewhat irrelevantly, in Xander’s opinion. They’d been talking about Dracula, not Riley. “He’s everything I thought I wanted. A nice, normal guy. Solid. Dependable.”
“What is he, State Farm?” Xander interjected. “What’s this got to do with Dracula?”
“I’m getting there,” she told him and Xander settled in for what was clearly going to be a long, convoluted explanation.
“Then Riley turns out to be almost a male Slayer. You know, college guy by day, demon hunter by night. And it was like: wow, I’d found the perfect guy. Who else would ever understand my crazy life so well. And Riley was such a good fighter, better than any human, and we were so well-matched.”
“And now he’s just a nice, normal guy again,” Xander interrupted, suddenly understanding where she was going, although he still couldn’t figure out what this had to do with Dracula.
“Yeah, and all of a sudden he can’t keep up with me, and I’m worried about him getting hurt, and…” she trailed off, looking miserable.
“And you’re leaving him behind.”
Buffy nodded. “I know he hates it but I can’t risk him getting hurt.” She looked up, eyes fierce. “And he’s going to get hurt, Xander, because he doesn’t accept that he’s not as strong as he used to be, and he keeps trying to protect me from things I can handle myself.”
She held up a hand, cutting him off before he could answer. “That’s why I didn’t tell anyone, especially Giles, about Dracula. I really didn’t think he was a threat to anyone but me. And I know that was stupid.” She flashed him an apologetic look. “But I thought if Riley and I researched him together, Riley would feel useful. Necessary. And he is,” she insisted, “but…”
“But to Buffy, not to the Slayer,” Xander finished for her.
They fell silent and Xander wondered what to tell her. That Riley would never be happy as research guy and, by the way, he sucked at it because he was used to being spoon-fed information by the Initiative? That trying so hard to keep Riley happy had pushed everyone else away, and Giles was about to leave town because of it?
First things first, he thought. “Buffy, I think you need to figure out if Riley is really what you want.” It was his turn to hold up a hand, cutting off her automatic response and forcing her to listen. “If you need someone who can physically keep up with you, then Riley’s not that guy. That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way it is.”
“But it’s not his fault that he can’t keep up with me anymore, and I feel horrible blaming him for it.”
“Buffy, will you listen to what you’re saying? Riley is a normal human. Maggie Walsh pumped him full of drugs and made him into the super-soldier you first met. That isn’t who Riley is, and it never was. That was Maggie Walsh’s twisted experiment, not a real person. If that’s who you’re in love with, that person doesn’t exist.”
She glared at him and Xander just stared back until her eyes fell.
“I think you need to figure out who you are, Buffy, before you can know if Riley, or anyone else, is right for you. You’ve always seen yourself as two separate people: Buffy and the Slayer. And frankly, as far as I can tell, only one of those two loves Riley.” He hesitated, then decided to just lay it out for her. “I think you’re having so much trouble now because, when Riley was super-soldier guy, both sides of you loved him.”
Buffy stared at him for a long time, fingers restlessly shredding her napkin into confetti. “Is that what happened with you and Spike?” she asked finally.
Xander’s eyebrows shot up, not having expected her to make the comparison. But, as much as he hated being compared to Riley, it wasn’t an unfair one. “Kind of,” he answered slowly, trying to think of how to explain. “Spike had to learn to accept that, while I’m human and a lot weaker than he is, he can’t protect me from everything or force me to stay out of dangerous situations.” He smiled fleetingly. “We still have arguments about that and he’d still like to keep me out of fights,” he admitted. “I had to decide if I could deal with the fact that’s Spike’s a vampire. He’s always going to be stronger and faster than me, and he’s never going to think like a human.”
He shrugged, “Maybe you should talk to Spike because he’s pretty much dealing with your side of things and I’m seeing them from Riley’s.” He grinned at her expression. “Ok, maybe not,” he conceded. God knows what Spike would tell her. “What you have to understand is that it’s just as hard for Riley as it is for you. Spike and I have almost broken up over him trying to keep me wrapped in cotton wool. I resented the hell out of it and I can only imagine how much more Riley resents it when you do it. The guy’s a soldier and he’s used to being in command.”
Buffy winced and Xander could tell she’d gotten the point.
“If you two can’t find some way to compromise,” he finished gently. “Where you let him do what he has to and he doesn’t deliberately act recklessly, you’re never going to be happy. Spike had to learn to accept that I’m going to protect him as much as he protects me, and I had to learn to think before doing crazy stuff.”
“But you guys made it.”
“Yeah, because we’d rather be together than apart, even if sometimes we drive each other up the wall.” He looked at her seriously. “You know that stuff about love being easy? It’s crap. Especially if you’re in it for the long haul.”
“So, you’re telling me I have to let him risk his life, or he won’t be happy?” Buffy didn’t sound happy about that.
“I’m not saying anything of the kind. You guys have to find your own balance and what works for you. The fact that I’m not out there patrolling every night has nothing to do with Spike. But if Riley needs to patrol to be happy, you’re going to have to decide if you can handle that. If he stops patrolling because that’s what you need him to do, it’s never going to work in the long run because he’ll resent you for making him quit.”
Buffy nodded slowly, and slid off her stool. She stood there beside the table for a moment, eyes thoughtful. “Thanks, Xander.”
“What are you going to do?” he couldn’t help asking, looking at her curiously.
“I’m not sure. But I think I’m going to start by talking to Giles. I need to figure out what being a Slayer really means.”
She turned and left the restaurant without another word, and Xander sat in stunned relief, a smile slowly spreading across his face. He wished he could take the credit but he hadn’t seen that coming at all.
No way would Giles leave now, not with Buffy asking him for help.
Spike lifted his head, every sense alert.
Xander slept on, oblivious. The disturbance Spike had felt hadn’t come from his Claimed. For one moment, he’d thought….
Spike’s eyebrows swooped together as he struggled to grasp the fleeting sensation that had woken him, but it was gone.
All was quiet in the Court, he discovered, extending his senses and finding no trace of motion except the normal, nearly silent movements of the sentries on duty downstairs, guarding the entrances to the Court through the long daylight hours.
Shrugging, he decided it must have been his imagination. He already couldn’t remember exactly what it was that had woken him so abruptly. Settling back down, he pulled Xander closer to him and went back to sleep.
On the other side of the world, a group of extremely determined amateurs sighed in relief even as the pounding reached a crescendo.
It was done.
The magic was already seeping into the fabric of the town, permeating the very soil as if it had always been there. It would lie quiescent, undetectable, activated only as needed. The two most directly affected had already had their memories and their physical reality adapted to fit the requirements of the spell. It was not possible to anticipate every need in the weeks and years to come, so the background spell would ensure that gaps were filled, and records were in place, as they became needed. Anyone with links to the sister and mother, anyone who would necessarily have previously encountered the Key in this new form, would be sensed by the background magic they had set and have appropriate memories added and altered upon their first encounter with the Key.
Modern technology had caused the greatest difficulty. Their youngest member had been recruited and trained for this eventuality, and it was he who had woven the portions of the spell that would allow the passive magic in the town to travel across electronic and telephone links to distant persons, altering their memories as needed. Once hoped to be an easy addition to a spell that had already been adapted and worked on for centuries - after all, letters had been taken into account generations ago - it had almost proved a fatal flaw in their weaving until Brother Johann had found the way. The delay had been necessary to avoid glaring holes in what needed to be a seamless cover, holes that would make the Key vulnerable to discovery, but the delay had proved costly, and they had barely finished the spell in time.
The spells they had woven would be undetectable to any deliberate search. It might be glimpsed out of the corner of an eye, as it were, but only if the person was searching for something else, in which case they were likely to ignore it. The Beast wasn’t subtle enough to search for it with anything less than brutal directness and those methods should fail. And in any case, if they had overlooked something, the protector they had chosen would be standing between the Beast and the Key, guarding the Key with her life.
Their goal accomplished, there was room for the terror that had been held back by intense concentration alone as the strongest metal known to their ancestors, reinforced time and again over the centuries, bent and crumpled like tissue paper under the blows hammering against it.
Bits of dialogue borrowed from the episodes ’Buffy vs. Dracula’ and ‘Into the Woods’