I feel in a kind of what-the-fuck mood. I don't know what kind of imaginary mental audience I'm reacting to, but I have this feeling of soggy, exhausted crumbling, as if I've been keeping in all kinds of secrets, which is rather insane, as I don't think I have been. So, for no especially good reason I can pinpoint, my head is saying: I will say whatever I want, this is my space.
That may sound defensive, but it feels merely like tiredness, as if I've been arguing or battling with myself. I think part of it is...I'm tired of thinking about the things I write here, as if I have to hedge. As if they're so weirdly beyond the pale that I need to be careful. Thinking is good as a rule, yeah. Otherwise, we perhaps trend to that place of unselfconscious scariness that makes other people stare at us, saucer-eyed, as if mesmerized by roadkill or naked people.
Still, a break is good. I don't want to caveat today, and I don't want to nicely, politely ease people into their seats for the Anna Experience, and I don't want to apologize to noir readers for my slash obsessions, or to slashers for being "a freak," as I often call myself to preempt others from doing so--and I don't want to apologize for my elaborate fantasies or wonder what they say about my psyche, or muse on whether people will feel embarrassed for me, after reading what they find icky.
Had Riley fantasies today. Riley and Xander and Spike, trudging together across the generic sword and sorcery landscape in my head--always accessed by one of those portals that decant conveniently into other dimensions, where the sun shines on vampires.
Spike has to pretend to be a slave in this world, because vampires are slaves there. And the humans there are stronger, augmented by magical forces in order to maintain social power over demons and such. Not long after their arrival, the guys hook up with a band of mercenaries who patrol this land and protect it for human dominion. Their presence forces the pretense of Spike's slavery, and they absorb the guys into their party after a few battles prove that these oddly-dressed strangers could perhaps be useful--but Xander and Riley aren't strong enough yet to fully hold their own, and this is a problem. So the mercenaries drag them off to the site where they have their coming-of-age ritual, a trial of life or death. Life means you get the gift of strength from the local spirit--slayer strength, more or less. They impose their ritual on Riley and Xander, who comply and win their personal battles. All's well for a time. The guys are strong and they're tagging along with the mercenaries because it's convenient for now; they know (somehow) that they must travel thousands of miles to reach another, distant portal home, and this is as good a start as any.
A few months pass, and the mercenaries travel all across the land, into small towns, into bigger cities, touching base with their kin and making brief stops in places where they keep a presence, with semi-permanent camps and such. One night there's a festival, one of those quasi-religious excuses for getting drunk off your ass and rowdy. They pull out the special wine, a drink that amps up your lifeforce until you have to cut loose or burst--your usual Dionysian celebration of manic power--and Xander and Riley sizzle out of their skins with all this repressed frat-boy meanness. Think "The Pack" and then some, with Xander and Riley both glittery-eyed and nasty. They go back to their hut--private quarters--and they surround Spike, as much as two men can surround someone, and start getting evil. Wired as they are, they crave payback for all the shit he's done over the years; they're acting out without the usual reins of conscience to hold them back. They're a couple of straight boys, but they're going to go to town on his ass.
He has his soul, so he's the only sensible one in the room. He tells them they'll regret this in the morning. They ignore this, being glittery-eyed and intent on bodily harm. He placates them, pretends to go along, then hoofs it out of there with vampire grace and speed, wisely intending to disappear until they sober up. They chase him, and catch up to find that he's been collared by some of the patrol guards, who are just as drunk and viciously inclined. Unpleasant situation for a vampire who is no longer the dominant predator, but Spike is pretty much Spike. He isn't cowed, just disgusted and grim and resigned, in turn.
Riley and Xander find this amusing, so they say, sure, go ahead, do what you want to him. Spike is forced onto his knees in the alley, but one nasty blow job later, they're already itching for their slave back, so they drag him home and proceed to use him as their fucktoy. Spike isn't going to waste his effort struggling, and though he isn't by any means a saint, he still knows that these two pathetic sods will be racked with guilt when they sober up, so he tries to facilitate a pretense that he's game and up for this ugly scene. He goes along, and he's even getting his kicks, if joylessly--he's a vampire, after all, not a choir boy. But as he's taking himself in hand at last after getting both the guys off, Xander grabs his wrists and pins him, and Riley takes a whip and lashes it across his dick--three cruel stripes--until he comes. Spike curls away to keep it from striking him again, and they roll him over, face down, and whip him raw.
More cruelties, and then our poor drunken louts fall asleep. In the morning, of course, they're beyond appalled. They're wrecked. They're in the mental shock and trauma ward. Spike goes to great lengths to blow it off. He tricks out every dry, casual tone in his repertoire to convince them he doesn't give a shit, snipes and sighs, and tells them that if he hadn't been so certain of this very thing--their predictable, drippy guilt--he'd never even have resisted, would simply have gone along with it all in the first place as a bit of good, dirty fun.
So, the aftermath drags out for a long while, because Spike must suffer. Riley and Xander can't deal. They try, but they don't know how to handle Spike, and they can't look each other in the eye. And they certainly don't want to do this again, because they're straight, and have no secret yen in their hearts for Spike--or each other for that matter. They have big tangled masses of guilt and shame, though. Misery all around.
Spike, burdened with a soul now, likes to think that his own feelings are just layers of darker and darker annoyance caused by these miserable sods who can't let things go, deal with it, and move on. But in fact he's like some plant that's slowly blackening and dying. He's withdrawing further and further into a grim little hell, but remains oblivious to his own despair. He's just soul-weary and lonely and isn't dealing all that well himself--he can't blow things off like he once would have, but he doesn't see this.
During all of this, though, there's been a quiet prince of a guy on the periphery. Think Aragorn, all dark-eyed and watchful; clearly noble, even though he's living the life of a mercenary. He's been a friend to all of them, and though he takes Spike's slavery for granted, he also admires him for his bravery, loyalty, and strength. He isn't pleased with Spike's increasingly miserable state though. He's simmeringly angry. He knows exactly what happened, and though he doesn't quite get why it's fucking them all up so much, he wants a better deal for Spike. There's mutual plotting here, which boils down to this: Spike, wanting a breather from the gloom twins, unable to stand being around them another minute, lets AU Aragorn woo him away from his "masters." Getting that here is a sweet sort of deal, Spike viciously guilts Riley and Xander into selling him off--he says he'll give his new master his money's worth until it's time to part ways with the mercenaries (a period of months), and then when the time comes he'll slip away to join Riley and Xander; the money will come in handy as they try to head home. The guys are both horrified, but eventually get browbeaten into this arrangement--after the deal, they can only feel secretly relieved not to have Spike lying just a bedroll away every night, a reminder of their shame.
So after this plotting, Spike ends up owned by a sweetheart of a guy, one of those men who seems crude and dirty and tough but who will in fact gentle your wild grief until you're just a puddle of goo. In time, treated like a prize instead of a monster, Spike surfaces from his dark unhappiness to find that this isn't just a matter of diversion and convenience; here's a guy who will lie with him, hold him, stroke his hair lazily and talk to him about anything. A guy who smiles at him as if to convey some tiny secret, who murmurs tender, poetic things when they're lying together because he's masculine enough to do that. A guy who makes Spike shudder with pleasure, with callused hands.
And just as Spike is at a peak of happiness--when he's relaxed into unexpected contentment and has decided to let Riley and Xander go it alone, while he stays behind to have a new life--his master dies in battle. And he's wrecked.
Eventually they do get home again, all three of them, with much baggage in tow. Which is where some other things happen.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.