Aftermath

by
Imaginary Images




Chapter Twenty-Six







One evening, a couple of weeks after Xanderís ordeal, Spike filled the bathtub with steaming hot water and lots of bubbles. He then helped Xander get settled in for a relaxing soak. Of course, he climbed in as well and settled behind Xander. Never pass up an opportunity for a soak and cuddle. They had long since lost any shyness around each other. The only light came from the candles Spike had set up along edge of the sink. He claimed the overhead light was too harsh for when one wanted to truly relax in a bath. The small bathroom window was open, and they could hear the rhythmic sound of the ocean waves, a soothing noise without the normal city sounds to drown it out. They both just sat quietly for awhile and listened to the surf.

"How ya feeling?" Spike finally asked from over Xanderís shoulder.

"A lot better. I think the umÖswelling has gone down some, maybe. Even if they still lookÖ" Xander was looking down at his own genitals, his forehead wrinkled in concentration. "Odd. They look odd and grotesque. God, I hope they go back to normal soon." Xander studied some more. "Just call me Scrotum Boy, or Captain Horse Balls.Thatís right, Iím Captain Horse Balls.* I wear a big black and blue cape while I carry my balls around in a wheel barrow, fighting evil." He paused to frown. "God, this is embarrassing. You donít think itís permanent do you? At least my dick is starting to look like my dick again, instead of a One-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater." A lot of the discoloration and swelling had indeed disappeared from his penis, but his balls were still swollen and bruised.

Spike looked over Xanderís shoulders to give the boyís genitals a pseudo-clinical eye. "Itís gettiní better. You look better. Just have to give yerself time to heal, pet." He started to wash Xanderís hair. "No, he wouldnít have done you permanent damage. Not that he isnít capable of it, mind you. He does like to keep his things beautiful, but anything that can heal would be considered fair game. He likes to break people mentally, break their spirit, before he breaks their body."

A little uncomfortable with the topic, Xander switched gears. "I think you like this a little too much, Spike." Xander leaned back against Spike.

"What? Taking care of you? I like doing it, síall." Spike chose that moment to nuzzle Xanderís ear, and nibbled on his ear lobe as he wiped some suds off of the side of Xanderís face.

The action caused Xander to moan. "Mmm, Spike. LoÖlike that, but you know Iím not um, up for that yet. Although, maybe weÖ" He struggled to turn around to face Spike, but Spike stopped him.

Spike interrupted, "Pet, I know. Youíre not healed yet. Just like tasting you. Never pressure you."

Xander gave an evil little grin that Spike couldnít see, and relaxed even more into Spikeís body. He placed his hands on Spikeís knees. "Well, in that case, keep nibbling." He wiggled his ass a little and rubbed up against Spikeís obvious erection.

"Oh, pet. You donít know what youíre doing to me." Spike breathed into Xanderís ear.

"I think I might. Tell ya what. You keep nibbling my ear and Iíll keep doing that." Xander was deliberately vague.

"Doing what?"

With another little wiggle of his ass, Xander said, "That."

"Oh, That. Ďkay."



* Note: A note on horseballs...when I was in highschool, we had a teacher everyone called Horseballs. I think he had a problem, and the polyester leisure suit did nothing to hide that fact...ewww!


Chapter Twenty-Seven







While Xander slowly continued to recover, some limited progress was made on the books. Illyria determined that at least two of the books referenced a third volume, one not in their possession. The women took a trip to the local public library in Santa Monica and a search of the remains of the card catalog lead them to the Echo Park Library on Temple Street in LA. While most of that library had been destroyed in a fire, they found what they were looking for, Geloís Omnibus. It was stashed away in a sealed storage room. The library had opened in the early 1900s and the book looked as if it had sat safely in storage that entire time.

They had studied the book for several days, with no luck, when Spike had his first vision since Xander had been rescued. He woke Xander from a sound sleep to tell him about it.

"Spike, just frigginí tell me already." Xander was getting impatient.

"Not until youíre bloody awake!" Spike was fussing at Xander. Heíd made the young man get up and drink some coffee. He continued to stall, not looking forward to sharing the latest vision, knowing it was going to lead to issues. They sat at the table in the kitchenette side of the main room in the apartment. The girls were asleep in their room and Illyria was on watch on the roof.

"Iím awake. See, wide awake, but Iím going to go back to bed if you donít get on with it already." Xander plunked his empty coffee cup down on the table with impatience.

"Ok, ok. Itís just this one is weird, sort of a two-part deal."

Xander took Spikeís hand. "Címon. Just tell me."

Spike watched two demons that looked like Komodo dragons, only they ran on their back two legs. They chased a small child. The boy ran along a subway platform, breathing heavily. Just as the boy passed under an exit sign for Wilshire Boulevard the demons reached the child. They opened their long snouts and spat very well aimed jets of fire at him, engulfing him in flames. Just as he fell to the ground, screaming in agony, there was a bright white flash.

Spike found himself behind The Hyperion again. This time though, it was empty, no corpses, no dragon, just an empty alley. He heard footsteps that came from two different directions. Gunn walked into view from around one corner and Wesley another, to stand on each side of Spike.

"Percy? Wesley? Gunn? What the bloody hell is going on now?" Spike looked back and forth, between the two men. Gunn appeared whole and unharmed and was wearing his Ďold schoolí clothes, a t-shirt, hoodie and jeans. Sweat ran down his face in streams. Wesley also appeared unharmed. Wesley was dressed in his usual outfit of a dark sweater and slacks. Spike could see the vapor of his breath as if Wesley was standing in the cold. In this dream state, Spike felt neither the cold or hot his dream friends seemed to be feeling.

Gunn spoke up first. "Spike, man. Howís it going?"

Before Spike could respond, Wesley interjected. "Charles, we donít have time for that, we need to pass our message along to Spike."

Spike, who still stood between them, looked bewildered and snapped, "Would one of you tell me what the bloody hell is going on?"

Gunn tried to explain, "Sorry, Spike. Itís like this. We had to interrupt your vision because not only do you have that to take care of. We also need to talk to you about the books. We sort of had to hitch a ride on the signal. I donít understand it, but Wes here does."

Wesley spoke up. "Yes, itís quite elementary, actually. However, we cannot waste time on explanations right now. Iím not sure how long we can hold onto the vision. We need to tell you that you are on the right track with the books. There is another one though, the opposite of what you have. You need to find it." Wesleyís breath continued to vapor into the air. He also gave a small shiver.

Gunn added, "Yeah, man you have to figure it out. You also need to hurry up and save that kid, and the rest of his group. Get them somewhere safer. Weíve gotta go now."

As Gunn turned to go, Spike saw the sweat run down his face in rivulets. Spike found himself staring at one bead of sweat, mesmerized. It slowly made itís way down Gunnís cheek and then to his neck, to disappear under his shirt. Spike shook his head to clear it and realized both men were gone.


"I know that subway stop at Wilshire Boulevard, but what the hell was that last part about?" Xander looked at Spike when he let go of his hand.

Spike pulled on his coat. "Well, pet. I think, first things first. I go save that kid."

"What? By yourself? No way. Iím coming too." Xander started to get up. He still moved somewhat stiffly.

"NO. You are not coming." Spike lit a cigarette as he stood there and pleaded with Xander.

"Spike, you canít frigginí order me around!" Xanderís agitation rose.

Di and Dawn came out of their room when they heard the raised voices, eyes still bleary from sleep. "Whatís going on?" Dawn looked at Spike for an answer.

Spike ignored her and got right in Xanderís face. "Youíre barely healed. What the fuck good would you be?" Spike realized heíd crossed the line and took a step back, but he didnít take back his words. He took a few angry drags on his cigarette instead.

"I donít care what you say, Spike. Iím coming along." Xander looked hurt, but determined.

Illyria chose that moment to walk into the room. "I can hear your voices on the roof. You must stop these petty squabbles."

Both Xander and Spike started to talk at once.

"That bloody git thinks heíd be something other than a fucking liability while I go fight fire breathing dragons!" Spike pointed at Xander.

"Spike thinks he can boss me around, make me stay here!" Xander refused to even look at Spike.

Illyria looked at them both for a beat, then she walked over to Xander. With a firm push of her hand on his shoulder, she forced him to sit. "You will stay."

Xander tried to object. "ButÖI canít fucking believe this!"

Spike turned toward Xander and tried to explain. "I canít help that Iím worried about myÖ"

Even more outraged, Xander interrupted him. "Your things? Is that what I am. What we are?" He pointed at Dawn.

Spike threw both of his hands up. "Fuckiní Ada. I donít have bloody time for this. You will stay here. Blue, make sure he does just that. Ladies, Címon." With that, Spike stomped out of the apartment with a swirl of his coat. He didnít bother to see if Dawn and Di followed.

Xander muttered to himself. "Oh sure, Dawn even gets to go, but I donít? What the hell?"

Illyria just looked at him, expressionless.


----------------


Spike found Xander on the roof when he got back a few hours later. Xander was wrapped in a blanket and staring up at the stars when Spike closed the access door behind him. Spike bolted the door closed to prevent any interruptions. He walked over and sat down next to Xander, who rolled away from Spike, to continue his extended sulk.

"Pet, Xander. Talk to me."

Xander gave a small sigh. "Did you save the kid?"

Spike was silent at first. Only when Xander pushed, did he answer.

"Well? Did you? Itís not that hard of a question, Spike."

"Yes, we saved him and about eight other little tykes. We took them to some bloody church where several nuns had setup a shelter of sorts. Illyria had found it on one of her walkabouts and had told Dawn about it. Theyíve got several families there, but mostly children that for one reason or another ended up by themselves. I think Dawn wants to adopt every bleediní last one of Ďem."

Xander mumbled, "Thatís good. Glad you saved him."

Spike tried to place a hand on Xanderís shoulder, but it was shrugged off. "Look, Iím sorry, ok? I just want you safe."

Xander answered, still without turning to face Spike. "I know."

"Then whatís your bloody problem?"

Spike flinched back a little when Xander suddenly rolled over to face him. "Just answer me one question, Spike. What am I to you?"

Spike thought about that as he lay down, facing Xander. He stalled as long as he could, but finally just had to say it and hope he didnít get it wrong. "You, youíre my friend. I hope. Thatís what I was trying to say before. I donít have many friends. You and the Bit are about the only ones Iíve had in a long, long time. I also hope that you and me are somethiní more than that. I just want to keep you safe, ya know."

Xanderís stern look softened a little. "I know. But, Spike, you canít just order people around. You have to let them make their own decisions."

Perplexed, Spike looked like heíd honestly never thought of that before. "How do I keep them safe, then?"

Xander moved a little closer. "Sometimes you just have to trust that they can take care of themselves. Besides, you might have been a wee bit right there." Xander ended with a little smirk, borrowing one of Spikeís words.

"What the bloody hell are you on about now?" Spike asked. He looked completely confused.

Xander looked down at Spikeís chest, a little sheepish. "Well, when I stomped up here to sulk, it kinda hurt. I might not be as healed as I thought."

"Git."

"Yep, thatís me, the git with the giant horse balls."

Spike snorted and said with his own smirk, "Let me see."

Xander tried to move away in embarrassment. "What? I think Iíve studied my parts enough lately."

"Pet. Címon, show me yours and Iíll show you mine."

Which is how they ended up naked, head to toe, under the stars, inspecting each otherís parts.





Chapter Twenty-Eight








Spike and Xander were out on patrol. It was the first time Spike had let Xander out since heíd been injured over three weeks before. They were covering an area that the girls normally patrolled. They had rarely ever seen more than a few vamps at a time while in this neighborhood, so Spike figured it was a good way to see if Xander truly was healed up. Shouldnít run into anything I canít handle.

They only ran into two vampires, which they quickly dispatched, one each. Spike watched Xander walk with a confident step, no visible sign of pain, hesitation or nervousness. He stared at Xander long enough for him to notice.

"Spike? What is it? Why are you looking at me like that?" Xander finally started to look nervous and uncomfortable under Spikeís scrutiny.

"Hmm? Only this." Spike pushed him back into a recessed doorway of an abandoned shop and leaned his entire body against Xanderís. When Spike leaned in to kiss him, Xander met him halfway, mouth already opening up. Their tongues dueled for awhile. Spikeís hands drifted down to Xanderís ass and squeezed. In turn, Xanderís hands reached up under Spikeís shirt to caress up his stomach and chest. When his fingers reached Spikeís nipples, he scratched lightly.

Feeling Xanderís hard-on through both layers of jeans, Spike couldnít resist. "Ahh. I see itís working just fine, isnít it, pet?"

A little embarrassed, Xander whispered. "Yeah, thank God. I honestly thought it was broken." Then he lightly scraped his fingernails down Spikeís chest again, tweaking a nipple along the way.

Spike let out a gasp just as a voice startled them both.

"Well, well, well. If it isnít William and his little boy toy." Angelus stood on the sidewalk watching them. "I mean, my little boy toy." He had the look of someone who owned the world.

Xander immediately stiffened. Spike put one hand on Xanderís chest, clenching Xanderís shirt in a bunch. Spike pushed Xander even farther back into the corner. His hand anchored the other man in place. Spike could feel Xanderís heartbeat racing. Spike kept his eyes on Xander and spoke over his shoulder to Angelus in a voice that dripped with sarcasm. "Angelus. What brings you out on such a lovely evening as this? Ya bloody fuckiní tosser."

Angelus smirked. "Spike, no need for such language. Iím just out for a stroll, just like you both. You never know what you might find and want to take home."

Xander kept his eye focused on Spike's, not looking out at Angelus. He spoke bravely, with only the slightest tremor in his voice belying his nervousness. "Well, we havenít seen a damn thing we want to take home. Just a useless vamp or two to dust, isnít that right, Spike?"

Spike finally turned to look at Angelus. "Thatís right, pet. Nothing worth notice here."

Angelus laughed. "Brave little boy, arenít you? Iím still waiting for my chance to break you in. Got a few things a brewiní with a little help from my pet slayer and those lovely books Illyria gave me, so you better stay on your toes." Angelusí face turned serious. "Although, Iím getting the feeling I got screwed on that deal, and NOT literally. I will get the rest of those books and a pretty little broken in White Knight to go with them."

With a swish of air and a loud thump, Illyria dropped down from the roof to land in front of Angelus. "No, Angelus, you will not."

"Weíll see about that. Iím pretty good at getting what I want. Who do you think is controlling this city? Iíve even got a lock on all the communications in and out of this dump and I control the power grids."

Illyria stood nose to nose with Angelus. "You are arrogant, half-breed. That will be your downfall."

"Weíll see." Angelus turned and left. He walked cockily down the street as if he hadnít just been threatened by an ex God-King.

Illyria turned to Spike and Xander before she walked off. "I will follow him, make sure he does not follow you two."

"Thanks, Blue. Time for me to get my boy here, home." Spike turned back to Xander to see him slumped down the wall with his eye closed. If not for Spikeís hand on his chest, Xander would have fallen down. Xander stared at the ground.

"Whatís the matter, pet?"

Xander looked up, his eye full of tears. "Fuck, Spike." Xander looked down at himself.

Spike looked down as well and saw the spreading patch of wetness on the front of Xanderís jeans just before the smell of urine hit him.

"Oh, pet. Címere. Itís all right." Spike tried to put his arm around the petrified young man, but Xander tensed and pushed Spike away.

"Spike. I canít believe IÖ" Xander still stared down, ashamed. "I closed my eye, heard his voice and got confused. I thought I was back there for a second."

Spike took Xanderís face in his hands. He lifted the manís head up until he was forced to look into Spikeís eyes. "Pet. You stood up to him. That took guts. Iím proud of ya. Weíll get ya home and cleaned up, ok?"

"Whatever." Xander shrugged off Spikeís touch and started to stomp off towards home. "You donít need to baby me."

Spike grabbed Xanderís arm to stop him, but Xander yanked away. "Spike, leave me alone."

"Here, you git." Spike stopped Xander long enough to hand over his leather coat, which Xander gruffly took and threw on to cover himself.

Spike let Xander march home ahead of him in a huff. He stayed close behind though, keeping Xander in sight the entire time.

When they arrived back at the apartment Xander walked straight past Dawn and Di with Spikeís coat wrapped tightly around himself. Without saying a word he went into the bathroom and slammed the door.

Dawn looked up, concerned, "Spike? Whatís wrong?"

"Donít worry about it, Niblet. Illyria will explain. She should be back soon. Iím gonna go check on him." Spike broke open the door and went into the bathroom after Xander.

Spike found Xander slamming the cabinet doors repeatedly. Heíd already yanked all the towels out, making a mess. Ignoring Spike, Xander started the shower and got undressed, throwing his clothes as he pulled each piece off, obviously agitated.

Spike stood patiently by the door. "Pet?"

Xander didnít look at Spike, but spoke in angry tones. "I forgot, privacy doesnít mean shit to you. Does it, Spike? I said, leave me alone." He stood facing the mirror, looking at himself, glad he couldnít see Spike reflected in it. After a beat, he fisted his hand up and punched the mirror, which burst into a million pieces. Satisfied with the destruction, Xander then headed towards the shower.

Staying out of Xanderís way, Spike leaned against the bathroom sink and said, "Not leavin, mate. No matter how much of a snit you throw."

As Xander got in the shower he said, "Fine, whatever." He whipped the curtain closed.

Spike waited until he heard Xander as he mumbled to himself. "I should just let Spike do me, then maybe that asshole will leave me the fuck alone."

At that statement, Spike ripped back the shower curtain, popping several of the rings right off the rod. He stepped into the shower, fully clothed. Spike put a hand on each side of Xanderís face and forced their eyes to meet while water ran out on the floor. His eyes flashed yellow as he angrily asked, "What did you bloody say?"

Xander looked away, but snapped out a response. "For the slow ones in the group, I should just let you do me. Do. Me. Then that assholeÖmightÖleaveÖmeÖalone." His anger went out in a rush and Xander slumped before he whispered, "Not that youíd want me."

Spike got pissed. "Harris, fucking look at me." When Xander finally looked up, a completely dejected look on his face, Spike continued. "Hear this. This has nothing to do with me wanting you. Of course I bloody want you. Who wouldnít? Youíre brave, smart, beautiful and damn sexy."

When Xander tried to look away again, uncomfortable with the praise, Spike forced his head back. "Look at me. I know weíve hated each other passionately, and I think we can probably love each other even more passionately, given half a chance. If we donít kill each other first. We both approach things balls to the wall, no holds barred. But, when I do you or you do me, for that matter, it will be about us wanting each other. It will not be as a means to try and protect you from that fuckiní tosser. I will not let him push us or control us. I donít need my bloody scent on you to tell the world youíre mine. You just are, you got that? And that stupid fuck wonít be putting his hands on you ever again. Thatís a bleediní promise." Spike lowered his hands and grabbed Xanderís biceps. He gave a hard shake to emphasize his point.

Xander started to struggle against being restrained. He brought his arms up to fight back, but Spike held on until Xander yelled. "Let me go, you asshole!" Spike dropped his hands and stepped back.

Xander leaned back against the wall, water streaming down over his face unnoticed as he thought about what Spike had said. "Spike?" he whispered.

"Yeah, mate?" Spike stared at him intently.

Without looking up, Xander asked in a soft voice, "It was only three days?"

Not at all surprised by the seeming non sequitur, Spike responded. "Thatís just the way Angelus works. Confuses Ďem, then he breaks Ďem. He can do it to the best. I should know." Spike tried to reach out again, but Xander held up his hand to stop him, not yet ready to be coddled.

With another jump in topic, Xander finally looked up. "What if Iím crazy?"

"Mate, you do remember that I spent a hundred years with Dru donít you? Obviously, sanity isnít big on ole Spikeís list of priorities."

Still leaning against the wall, Xander gave a very small grin. "But what about someone whoís both crazy AND a big chicken. A chicken who wets their pants and then has a hissy fit over it?"

This time when Spike tried to gather Xander up in his arms, he met no resistance. "Mate, youíre neither. Youíve stood up against the likes of Glory and Caleb for Christís sake. Bravery isnít an issue."

"But I was afraid. Iím not supposed to be afraid of Angel. Not Xander Harris. Heís supposed to just make a smart ass comment, get his ass kicked, and then bounce back for more."

"If someone didnít piss themselves after dealing with Angelus, Iíd think they were loony. You got your own arse out of there, all you needed was the opportunity, and you rescued yourself. If we hadnít come, youíd have figured it out. ĎSides, everyone is afraid of something." Spike paused for emphasis. "Even me. I recently met up with my fear. Hell. I know thatís where Iím headed, but this soul had been fooliní me into thinking I might just be able to escape it. I looked into itís gapiní maw as it tried to swallow me up, but I survived. Just like you did with Angelus."

Xander wrapped his arms around Spike and put his forehead against Spikeís wet t-shirt. "I guess I did, didnít I?" Xander took a deep breath. "I am such a girl, freakiní out like this." When Xander spoke next, his voice was muffled, but Spike could hear humor as Xander finally noticed something. "Um, Spike? Iím not really sure why Iíve been questioning my sanity. You do realize that youíre showering in your clothes yet again, donít you?" Spike just snorted and held on tight until the hot water ran out.

Spike helped Xander out of the shower. Spike stripped down, dropping his wet clothes on the floor. As they both toweled off, he asked, "You feeliní any better?"

"Yeah, I do. I just didnít think that seeing him would throw me that badly. I wasnít prepared. It wonít happen again. Sometimes itís just so easy to fall into old habits and take it out on you. Sorry."

"Donít sweat it, pet."

Xander looked up with a purpose. "We really need to get that assholeís soul stuck back in place."

"You got that bloody right, mate."

When they passed back through the living area towards their room, wrapped only in towels, Spike called out, "Get those bloody books out, Bit. We need to solve this, and now."

Dawn replied with, "Will do," and ogled the two muscular men as they passed by. Di smacked her in the arm and pointed at Illyria, who also stared at the two men.

Just as the bedroom door closed, Spike spoke again, "Oi, and Blue, stop yer staring at my boy!" Xanderís muffled laugh came through the closed door as Spike added, "And somebody better clean up in there, itís bloody trashed."






Chapter Twenty-Nine







After the two men got dressed, they met the others in the living area. Spike was on Xanderís right, so Xander could easily see him. Dawn sat down on Xanderís left side and took his hand. "Xander, are you alright? Illyria told us that you saw Angelus. Did he hurt you?"

Xander didnít respond right away. When he hesitated, Spike took his other hand. Giving both Dawn and Spikeís hand a squeeze, he finally responded. "No, he didnít hurt me. Not this time, anyway."

Dawnís eyes were brimming with tears. "Xander, I know you havenít told us what he did to you, but I want you to know that you can, if you want to."

After he let go of both of their hands, Xander took his patch off and rubbed his hands up and down his face a couple times before he asked, "Can I?"

"Xander, you can tell me anything. I love you, you big dope."

Spike gave Xanderís thigh a squeeze. "Go ahead, pet. Tell them; itíll help."

With a big sigh, Xander stared off into space and started to whisper. "Ok, here it goes. AngelÖAngelus hurt me. NO, thatís not rightÖHe molested me and got off on hurting me." Xander leaned his head back and looked at the ceiling before he added the next part, his voice so soft they barely heard. "I got off on it too." God. Theyíre all going to hate me.

"Oh, Xander." Dawn launched herself into Xanderís lap and gave him a huge hug, which he gratefully returned. They both sat and cried for several minutes. Spike grabbed one of Xanderís hands and held it firmly in his. Illyriaís expression was unreadable, but Di had tears in her eyes. Finally, Dawn sniffled and pulled herself together. "Xander, you do realize that your reactions were purely physical, right? He may have got you off, but that doesnít mean you get off on pain, or him. We all know how manipulative, how controlling Angelus can be." Spike nodded in affirmation.

Xander, who had gone back to contemplating the ceiling, looked at Dawn. "Dawnie, when did you get so smart?" His voice was rough from crying, but it sounded lighter than it had in a long time. He gave her another hug. Maybe, just maybe, I can deal with this.

With a grin, Dawn smacked him on the arm and said, "Iíve always been smart, you just never noticed."

Illyria surprised them all when she offered, "I can eliminate the half-breed."

With an evil smile on his face, Spike responded. "Tempting, pet. Tempting."

Even Di offered to help. "What if we just hurt him a little bit? Iím sure I could burn off some important parts."

With a laugh, Xander shook his head. "Nope, weíll deal."

Dawn offered a more reasonable solution. "Wanna see if we canít get that stupid jerkís soul back?"

They all started going over the books. Xander also had Spike dissect his vision of Gunn and Wesley. After several hours Xander looked up from where heíd been staring at his hand clasped in Spikeís. Spike, who hadnít let go once, had been recounting the vision yet again.

Frustrated and distracted, Xander asked, "Who is Jello, anyway?" He pointed at the book Illyria held in her hand, Geloís Omnibus. "Is he like the King of all the Jello flavors or what?"

Illyria looked up and in a very Fred-like voice, informed him that, "It's Jeelo, not Jello. Gelo is not necessarily a personÖIn several languages, demonic and human, variations of the word mean ice."

Xanderís face lit up. "Ice? Oh, Hey! Wes and Gunn were talking about opposites, right?" At Spikeís nod, he continued. "Also Wes looked cold and Gunn looked hot. What if itís about that?"

Spike looked at Xander with pride while Xander continued to brainstorm aloud, a wide grin on his face the entire time. "Alright, now weíre getting somewhere. Whatís the opposite of ice?"

Dawn suggested, "Hot or heat?"

Xander shook his head. "No, I know. Fire and ice."

Spike grinned. "Very good, pet. Blue, that mean anything to you?"

Illyria was already flipping through the book until she found the page she was looking for. She was hunched over the book, instead of her normal stiff-backed stance. For a second she looked so Fred-like Spike just stared as she found the information she was looking for. "Here, Le feu de Diable. In this context it means the Devilís fire, but that is also the title of a book that Fred Burkle once read. Possibly, itís a companion to this one."

Xander clapped his hands together. "Great! Now where do we find this book?"

Illyria stood up. "She read the book at the library where she was employed, the one where she also found the book that opened the portal to the Pylean dimension. If it is still there, I shall retrieve it."

Xander looked concerned for her. "Be careful. Though. Iím sure Angelus is looking for us."

"He is of no concern to me. I will return soon."

After she left, Xander mused. "I get the feeling that she feels bad about what happened with Angelus, like itís her fault somehow. It seems like sheís trying to make it up to me."

Spike put his arm around Xander and pulled the man back to lie against his chest. "Youíre probably right, pet. Itís hard not to like you. Even a God-King canít help but like you."

Xander stroked Spikeís hand as he spoke. "I like her, even if she is a bit blunt sometimes."

"Well, pet, you liked Anya. She was blunt as well. Youíre also hanging around with me."

"She does remind me of Anya, a little. Sheís both completely sure of herself and lost at the same time. I feel bad about Fred; sounds like she was a nice person."

Spike agreed. "Yeah, she was more than alright."

Several hours later Illyria returned to find everyone else had gone to bed. She placed the new book on the table. Before she went to the utility room that she had claimed for herself, she opened the door to Spike and Xanderís room. She stood and watched the two sleep for several minutes. Both were nude, the sheet down around their hips, just shy of revealing everything. Their intertwined forms, a contrast of light and dark, made for such a striking and sensual picture that even the God-King could appreciate it. A warm, soft glow of light came from a small nightlight Spike had placed in the room. He had insisted that he was tired of tripping over Xanderís dirty clothes in the dark. Spike lay on his back with Xanderís head on his chest. Spike had both arms around Xander, protecting him even in sleep. Xander had one leg curled up between Spikeís legs and one hand lay on Spikeís chest, over his heart. With a satisfied nod, Illyria shut the door without waking them.





Chapter Thirty







It was Dawn who solved the riddle of the two books. It was several days later and Dawn had Geloís Omnibus, while Di had Le feu de Diable. The two girls were sitting at the table, facing one another, each with a book in front of them. Dawn had shoved her book towards the center of the table to make room for the papers she was writing notes on. Her book bumped into Diís. Dawn stared at the books for several minutes. It wasnít until Di turned a page so the page numbers matched Dawnís book that Dawn saw something. Both books contained decorative illustrations across the top of all the pages. When the books were placed head to head on the same page, the illustrations turned out to actually form letters that continued from book to book. Separate, each book only contained the top or bottom half of the words and simply looked like random squiggles. Together, they completed the pattern.

Dawn jumped up with a squeal, and pointed at the books. "Look!"

Illyria walked over from the corner and leaned over the books. "It is in an archaic demonic language that I recognize."

Xander and Spike walked in from gassing up the generator in the utility room. Xander gave Dawn a hug. "I knew youíd figure this out. Congratulations, Dawnie!"

"Alright, Bit. I knew you could do it, if anyone could. Weíll fix that soddiní wankerís soul yet."

"This will take time to translate." Illyria sat down and started writing notes, effectively dismissing everyone else.


----------------------


It took Illyria several more days to translate the text. It turned out to be the key to a coded text held within both books. They soon discovered that there was indeed a machine they could build. It was a semi-mystical, semi-mechanical device that could be used as a conduit to transfer a soul. They also discovered that the dragon that had taken Angelís soul was a similar device, a conduit to transfer his soul. In theory, they should be able to call a soul back to its owner by reversing it with a few small modifications.

There were drawbacks. The device required immense power. It also required that the intended target be in physical contact with the device when it was activated. The third problem would be acquiring the parts required to build the device. Illyria was using all her own knowledge and that of Fred as well, to adapt the instructions so they could use items found in todayís world to build it. There also appeared to be a risk to anyoneís soul who came in contact with it while it was in operation, as his soul could possibly be drawn away in the process.

Xander was concerned about Spike getting near it, though he didnít say anything until they were lying in bed alone. "I realize itís going to take somebody strong to get Angel anywhere near this thing, I just donít want it to be you, Spike. And how weird is it, that I don't want to throw you out to the wolves while I hide 'til they go away?"

"I can bloody well take care of myself, mate. 'Preciate the concern, though."

"I know that. Iím just saying that we should let Illyria actually be hands on if we need it. Sheís got nothing to lose, since from what youíve said, her soul was destroyed. Itís already gone."

"True, we still have to figure out how to bloody power the damn thing first. Then we need to figure out how to get Peaches within a hundred yards of it."

"Yeah, I know. I know Illyria handed me one helluva list of parts we need to start hunting down. Dawn told me that she, Di and Illyria will be collecting the supplies for the magical end of things."

"Iím sure itíll be fun for everyone involved. Now, quit yer yappin." Spike drew Xander on top of him and they kissed.

Already naked and flesh to flesh, they both moaned as they rubbed against each other, both quickly becoming hard. Spike ran his hands down Xanderís back and grabbed his ass hard, pulling Xander up against him. Spike spread his legs, wrapping them around Xanderís waist. The new position caused Xander to gasp and pull back.

"Whatís the matter, pet?" Spike said with a grin.

With a laugh, Xander responded. "Nothing, just slow down or this will be over before it starts."

With an evil grin Spike bucked his hips. "Donít wanna stop, pet. Wanna eat you up."

A strange look passed over Xanderís face, and he pulled back suddenly. "Wait, Spike."

"Now whatís on your mind? Canít it wait, pet?" Even as he said the words, Spike knew heíd just hit a nerve with his unwitting comment. He pulled back and tried to get them both comfortable, knowing things were about to get serious.

Xander hesitated, lying his head on Spikeís chest, so he didnít have to look him in the face. Christ, how do I ask this?

"Mate, whatever is on your mind, you can tell me." Spike ran his fingers through Xanderís hair, trying to help Xander relax and waited. He didnít have to wait long.

"Um, you know how Angel, um, hurt me? I mean, Iím sure you could tell he also bit me."

"Yeah, pet. Keep going. Itís alright." Spike tried to urge Xander on when he hesitated again. ĎBout time he shared some bloody details. He needs to let it out.

"Well, it seemed like he really enjoyed it. I guess I did too. It wasÖconfusing." Xander got quiet again.

"Are you trying to ask if I like that sorta thing or if you should?"

Xander simply nodded.

"Bloody hell, yes! Iím a vamp. And let me tell you, done right, itís amazing for everyone involved. Itís not about the violence he used, either." Spike pulled Xander up so they were face to face.

Xander looked like he was about to ask something, but then rolled away and put his arms over his face.

"Pet, what is it?"

"Do you want to bite me?" Came the muffled question from under Xanderís arms.

Spike reached over and pulled Xanderís arms down. "Xander, yes I do, but only if and when you want me to."

"I do want you too, but itís feelsÖI donít know, wrong? I mean, for years Iíve been fighting vampires, stopping them from biting people."

Spike sat up, and dragged Xander with him, until they were sitting cross-legged, face to face. With one hand on the side of Xanderís face, he explained. "Obviously, you know weíre not talking about feeding. Weíre talking about pleasure. Youíve only ever seen the likes of Captain Cardboard and Angelus. Of course Dru and I bit each other, but weíre two vamps, so thatís probably not a good example." Spike thought for a moment. "This may really spoil the moment, but you donít think that Buffy and I didnít play with this?"

He had been looking down at his hands, but Xander looked up when Buffyís name was mentioned. "You and Buffy?"

Spike looked embarrassed. "Ours may not have been the most normal relationship, but the biting was probably one of the most gentle parts. Guess my point is that itís different for everyone. It doesnít have to be like Angelus. And that pillock Riley, he had issues. Trust me, pet. Iíd love to taste you."

Xanderís face flushed at that, and he dropped his eye to stare at Spikeís chest. "Really?"

"Really, pet. The question is, do you really want it?" Spike asked in a soft voice.

"Yes." Xanderís voice was barely a whisper. Choice made, he tilted his head over, exposing his neck in offering.

"Not like that, you silly sod." Spike grinned as he chastised Xander.

Spike pulled Xander back up on top of him as he lay back, and rolled them both over, until they had switched positions. Spike straddled Xander and kissed him hard. The kiss went on until Xander literally saw spots from the lack of oxygen. Holy turned-on vampire, Batman.

His voice just a breathy whisper in Xander's ear as Spike tried to reassure and confirm. "Iíll show you, pet. Itís ok. If youíre sure?" Spike immediately knew the answer because he could feel the telltale twitch of Xanderís erection.

"Iím sure. I trust you."

Nervous at first, Xander slowly relaxed as Spike kissed and touched every part of his body. Xander locked his legs around Spike as they undulated against each other. Their bodies were slick with Xanderís sweat, and they both panted as their cocks slid against one another.

Spike pulled back briefly and reached for the lube. He gently prepared Xander, starting with first one finger and slowly adding more. Spike never stopped the kisses and gentle nips along the manís face, neck and chest. When Spike finally entered Xander in one long, slow thrust, he stared into Xanderís face and started to whisper, "So beautiful, luv. So beautiful."

Xander blushed at being called beautiful, the endearment overriding any initial discomfort. He quickly forgot about being embarrassed, though. The burn turned to something much more pleasant as Spike picked up the pace. The intensity of Spike driving into his body and hitting that spot every time took his breath away. He managed to finally plead, "Show me your face, please."

Spike obliged and his face switched with a familiar crunch sound. Mesmerized, Xander reached up and ran a gentle hand over Spikeís ridges, down his cheeks and across his lips, just touching. "I neverÖ" Xander whispered, out of breath. When Spike looked at him in question, Xander tried again. "I never noticed how beautifulÖ" Still gasping, Xander pleaded, "Please, Spike. Now?"

Spike gave a simple nod and then continued to drive in and out of Xanderís body as he leaned down and gently bit Xander at the junction of neck and shoulder. Xander grasped the back of Spikeís head, holding him in place and let out a strangled scream as he arched his back and came. Being so intimately joined in two places drove Xander into an orgasm that made his vision go dark for several seconds. Now, that kind of dark, the Xanman can deal with!

Just a taste of Xanderís blood sent Spike into a prolonged and intense orgasm as well. Spike pulled away from Xanderís neck and tried to muffle his cries of completion in the pillow, driving erratically and almost violently into Xander a few more times. Both were so overcome that neither noticed when Spike slipped from Xanderís body to move into a more comfortable position.

After several minutes of heavy breathing, Xander finally caught his breath. Almost speechless, he gave a goofy grin and said, "Holy crap."

Spike looked up from where heíd been resting his head on Xanderís chest and said with a smirk. "Told ya."

Out in the main room, Dawn looked up from her book and said to Di, "I hope they donít actually think theyíre being quiet in there!"






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