Before Xander hooked up with Buffy the only thing he knew about fighting was what he saw in movies and on TV. He'd had his share of run-ins with bullies, but he'd mastered fleeing and avoidance and capitulation, and besides, playground scrapping wasn't like going a round with Ali.
But in reality, fighting--with monsters--was much different. What they didn't tell you about was the strange sequence of reactions that fighting could bring: get whacked in the kneecap and your first thought was *ohmygodjesusfuckpainpainpain* and you might wonder what the holy hell you were doing anyway, a mere mortal guy fighting vampires next to some petite blonde whirlwind. After the initial pain though--the bad and very thorough pain, to always be clear--came a kind of euphoria. The sensation of a banged knee just fueled the madness. Everything happened quickly, and later you were inevitably stiff and miserable, but in the heat of things, the body's survival mechanisms worked to keep you more or less alive.
I am a fighting machine, thought Xander as he slammed his assigned demon in the head with a handy bit of pipe. There was grunting and yelling and artless dodging. It wasn't pretty, but he was holding his own.
Afterwards, though. Not so hot. His right eye was a black badge of honor and his knee felt like the baseball after it hits the bat. He limped home alongside Buffy, who watched him from the sidewalk until he reached the door. He'd long ago decided to appreciate the gesture instead of resenting it, and he waved at her before going inside.
The living room flickered: the TV in the dark talking to itself because his dad was asleep in his armchair, a tumbler empty on the side table. His mom would be upstairs in bed already, oblivious in a book, or watching her own TV from there. He went to the kitchen, took two aspirin with tap water, stared out the window seeing only his own blank reflection in the glass, then trudged downstairs to the basement, feeling tired and wired and cranky. With the recognition of his own crankiness, Anya came to mind; every step he descended was like a symbol of a degenerating relationship that had once been happily degenerate.
They were, Anya said, on a break. She wasn't happy with the impact of his limited income on their dating life and his apparent lack of career prospects. They hadn't seen each other in a few weeks. He had a feeling she was off creating spreadsheets of risk reviews and cost-benefit analyses to try and decide whether he was worth hanging on to or whether she should upgrade to a better model. Meanwhile, he was kind of enjoying the time off from coupledom, but missing the steady supply of sex. Combine sex deprivation with Spike's too present presence--inhibiting to jacking off--and Xander was wound up tighter than a very tight thing.
It was that thwarted jack-off time of night already, and the vampire was slouching on his hard-back chair reading a comic book with the bored expression of a patient in a waiting room, as if he'd merely been biding his time until Xander returned. Spike watched without comment as he came into the room, crossed it in quick steps, and grabbed the ceremonial vampire-bridling rope. As he approached, Spike dipped his head, gaze lowering to Xander's crotch, a curve to his lips. He did this almost every time, with various comments.
"We both know I could break these ropes," he said, rolling the words off his tongue in a measured way. "So I have to wonder," head tilt, "why we go through this kinky little charade every night."
Ignoring him, Xander crouched and began wrapping one ankle.
"Know what I think. I think you like tying me to this chair. Gets you hot, playing the dominant monkey for a change."
"Dream on, crowbait." He tightened the rope in a vicious jerk, hoping for a wince, but instead his knot came undone. He cursed, and Spike laughed, then moved his foot away from the chair leg. "Put that back," Xander ordered.
That could be stalemate. Xander considered his options. It didn't take long. "I'll call Giles."
Spike scoffed low in his throat. "A terror of tweed and teacups. Go ahead. Least I'll be able to nick his whiskey before he chains me to the tub."
"I'll call Buffy."
"Yeah?" Spike just looked interested, a pretense of serious contemplation. "You angling for a threesome?"
"Damn it, Spike!" Xander hung his head a moment, frustration forcing him to look away from the vampire's insufferable face before he snapped. "Please."
"You *are* resorting to desperate measures. And why should I please you?" Another smile, smooth as butter and nasty. "Tell you what, I'll make a deal. You please me, I return the favor."
"Not a chance," he said automatically, not caring to hear what pleasing Spike would entail. Even the vague offer made his innards toss.
"You know, a lot of folks would jump at the chance to learn new tricks from an old dog." The canine comparison didn't sound at all self-deprecating; more self-satisfied and wolfish.
"I'm sensing some innuendo here, and can I just say--" Xander gave an elaborate shudder of disgust. "What makes you think I would *ever* turn to a cadaver for sex tips?"
Spike held his eyes in a fixed and pointed way. "Some do." He was clearly talking about Buffy and not your average necrophiliac, a new twist of innuendo that made Xander want to punch him someplace soft. The comeback most certain to tick Spike off would be to sing Angel's praises, get in digs about Big Daddy Vamp's superiority, but Xander knew that if he did the bad taste would linger in his mouth for days.
"Cat got your tongue again, Harris? You're always giving pussy something to play with, aren't you. You sure you don't want to give the doggies a try?"
Xander's muscles tightened. He adopted the same deliberate tone. "Every word out of your mouth makes me physically ill, Spike."
The vampire slid further down in the chair a notch and spread his legs, right hand resting on the inside of his thigh suggestively. It was only then that Xander realized he was still on his knees. His face heated. He would have stood, but it seemed like an admission that there was something between them requiring acts of avoidance.
"Is that so? Every word." A musing tone, and then Spike's focus sharpened on him with laser precision. "And what if I said you could sink all that pitiful, pubescent heat of yours into my guts, right up to the hilt, and I wouldn't even bark? What if I said you could roll me over, ride me to a lather, and I'd bite the pillow for you like a right little bitch?"
Speechless and flushed, Xander gaped at him.
"Not your gorge that's rising now, is it?"
In a battle of words, time is of the essence. You can't let a remark gather dust while you cook up a thoughtful, triumphant put-down. But the faster you loose a zinger at someone, the less likely it is to score a deadly hit.
"Oh, my gorge is rising too." Xander paused to consider the unfortunate implications of that slip of the tongue and the crude smile it provoked from Spike. "You really are a sad excuse for a vampire," he forged on. "How do you hold your head up at family reunions? I bet Angel wouldn't peddle his ass for a few yuks. But you--stick you in prison and take away your cigarettes, and you'd be the first to bend over."
He wasn't doing a bad job of heckling, going by Spike's face, but he hadn't provoked the outburst of temper he'd been hoping for.
"You didn't actually think I was serious, did you?" Spike asked, curiosity indicated by a head tip, the kind an animal will give you when it studies your reaction.
Oh, thought Xander, some of the wind leaving his sails. Of course he hadn't been serious. "Of course not," he scoffed, gaze lowering with the lie.
"You did," Spike said, delight uncoiling in his voice. "You thought I'd bare my tender tush for your mighty manhood."
Xander finally stood up, abandoning the prospect of roping Spike tonight. "Give it a rest," he snapped. "And me." He dearly wished he could throw things at the vampire. Shoes, lamps, power tools, whatever rotted fruit he could find on short notice--but he was above that. Maybe.
He chucked the ropes and crawled onto his bed, losing motor power as he went and ending up as an inert, crushed, face-down substance, one arm flung to the side. He hadn't even taken off his shoes. As he fell asleep, the last thing he heard was Spike lighting up a forbidden cigarette and saying, "Sweet dreams, chicken."
When he woke again, he felt very, very good. "Anya," he murmured, smiling as she tickled her naughty way down his naked spine. Her fingers were cool, as if she'd just been rinsing out her lacy bras in the sink. Possibly he was the only man in the world who liked a bathroom where women's dainties dangled from every surface. Eyes still closed, he tried to shift under her, but something was restraining his hands.
His eyes shot open. His wrists were bound to some part of the bed frame just below the mattress. He was naked. And he and Anya were on a break. Dear. God.
"Spike!" he said, his position making the name come out squeaky and half-strangled, and not the booming Conan yell he'd hoped for.
"Right here, cupcake."
A finger ran down Xander's vertebrae bump by bump as if tracing a route on a map. Muscled, jean-clad legs were straddling his thighs, pinning him down. Then he had a happy thought. Maybe this was just a terrible, traumatizing nightmare.
Muscles stretched around him and a tongue licked up the groove of his back. "Oh, fuck," he said.
"That's the plan. Figure you owe me a good time. Make up for all the brain-numbing boredom you've inflicted." Spike sounded truly disgruntled, stoking this injury up for himself in his twisted imagination.
"*I've* inflicted?! Get off me!"
"Don't yell. The rents might drop in." The vampire leaned down again, voice low against Xander's ear, breath like butterfly wings, tone smoother than butter. "How would you explain our gay love tryst?"
"No no no," Xander said into his pillow, muffling his dismay and panic in its feathers.
"Yes yes yes."
"You're not allowed to do this," Xander said, lifting his head. "This would be--be--" God, he could hardly get it out. "Rape. And that'd be hurting me. And you can't hurt me."
"What--you think I'm going to get zapped for causing you emotional pain? Think again, powder-puff. I'm going to break you in gentle as can be--least till you beg me to hurt you. Then we'll see how the chips fall."
"Help!" Xander yelled, finally getting power into his lungs and giving in to his body's desire to struggle. "Help!"
"Sorry, Daddy and Mummy are tucked up safe in bed, tight as can be. Tight as in soused. Pigeon-eyed. Drunk as coots. Saw a couple empty bottles on the counter. Those two can toss it back, can't they? Suspect that'll be you someday, staggering 'round the Sunnydale gutters, begging your old friends for a pint's worth of spare change."
"That's the spirit. You tell me right off. It'll make you feel better." Spike reached for something unseen; little plasticky clicky noises distracted Xander before he gathered himself again.
"I don't know how you think you'll get away with this."
"And what will you do? Tell your lady-friends? Have them look at you all pity-eyed, knowing you've given up the cherry?"
Xander swallowed. "Maybe I'll just tell Giles," he said, but it came out unconvinced.
"And maybe I'll just tell him how Anya ditching you got you down, and you got curious in your cups, all that terribly obvious latent inversion coming to the fore. Then the morning afters hit. Buyer's remorse kicking in when you realized you'd shagged the dead." He was far too persuasive. "Can't you just see Wally Watcher peering down his spectacles, giving you that fish-eyed squint of his?"
It sounded all too likely, and Xander pushed his face back into the pillow, wondering why everything happened to him.
Spike drizzled something cold on his backside, something Xander had kept all too handy by the bedside. When he resettled between Xander's legs, Xander scrambled onto his knees and yanked at his bonds.
"That's handy," Spike said, sounding amused. He knee-pinned Xander's calves to the mattress, putting his full weight into it, then flicked a finger against one ass-cheek.
"Ow," Xander said desperately, hoping to fire off the chip.
"Nice try." Spike ran his thumbs down the inner curves. "Mm, you're fragrant tonight. Got all sweaty fighting the good fight."
Eww, thought Xander, then realized that he was really ewwing himself. How sad. Spike's fingers slid down and rubbed lotion along the inner stripe of his body, back and forth for a while before circling the drain, so to speak. Xander flinched. Part of him had sunk into resignation; another part was wondering if he could talk his way out of this.
"Look, what do you really want? Money? I can get you money."
"Yeah? How much?"
Xander felt a rush of hopeful relief. "A--a hundred dollars."
"Makes me sad, seeing you put such a low value on yourself, pet. No, wait. It doesn't."
Furious, Xander pulled hard on his bound hands and succeeded only in tightening the ropes.
"Don't struggle. You'll chafe." Spike's voice held a concern that Xander immediately guessed wasn't for him, but for the risk of marks that others might notice. He pulled some more, almost relishing the pain and wondering if the chip would go off. It didn't seem to be reacting. He supposed causing himself pain didn't qualify. Stupid Army scientists.
He anticipated a tussle, but Spike just went back to work with a will, teasing the skin between Xander's frontside and backside and thighs, cool thumbs and knuckles and wrists rubbing him in every intimate place. It was starting to feel loathsomely good. It helped that he couldn't see Spike, unless he wanted to crane his head around, and he really didn't.
"I hate you, I hate you, I hate you," he muttered, head hanging. This was worse than the time he'd been forced to joy-ride with zombies and face down his nemesis over a ticking bomb; worse than being caged by a praying mantis; worse than evil clowns; worse than Talent Night. It wasn't as bad as seeing Buffy lying dead at his feet, and that was something. But it was more personal.
"Hate feeds the dark side," Spike said, pushing two slick, crooking fingers into him. It should have hurt, but it didn't.
"Look, could you do me just *one* favor while you're ruthlessly violating me? Don't quote from my childhood memories, okay? It creeps me out."
"Sure, no problem." So very reasonable was Spike.
"Plus, you got the quote wrong," his inner geek forced him to say. "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
"I'll remember that." So very gracious was Spike. He drove in deep with his fingers and twisted, and Xander choked down a gasp. His dick was waking up, full of perky interest. The thing clearly had no loyalty to Anya or even to women in general. He'd sabotaged himself with years of masturbation, teaching his suggestible body to like a guy's hand, which explained why he gasped again when Spike wrapped his free hand around him and tugged.
"I'm not panicking, not panicking." He bucked a little, shuddered. Spike's hands were very good at what they did. He bit his lip, eyes closing, trying to find traction to keep himself steady on the bed. The bastard hadn't lied; he really was taking his time. But though Xander's body liked it, his mind was disconnected, plotting revenge. He could easily take Spike out while the vampire was sleeping one night. But Spike must know that. He wasn't stupid; was he suicidal?
Spike drew two fingers out, slid three back in, and jerked his other hand faster and more cleverly. Xander saw stars and groaned. He was hard now, and breathless, and his revenge plans were fizzing out, at least for the moment.
"Like that, don't you?"
"What if I do?" Xander asked bitterly.
"Wish I could hurt you," Spike said with feeling, his voice both warm and cruel. "I'd make it better than you could dream of."
Xander's cock jerked and he couldn't breathe for a moment. "Oh fuck," he said, and Spike's own cock brush his ass with a silky kiss of wetness. "Just do it."
"Yeah." Spike didn't sound in full command any longer. "Gonna do it." He drew his jacking hand away and thumbed open both cheeks just a bit and began pushing in, his erratic gasps sawing the silence. "God, you're hot." His voice marveled.
"I hate you," Xander promised, barely audible even to himself. He felt it, he meant it, even a few minutes later when he was coming like Fourth-of-July rockets, and a few minutes of rough thrusts after that, when Spike did. Nothing he'd done had set off the chip, and Xander imagined he could feel Spike's smug triumph as he pulled out. He wanted to cry but he wouldn't. Spike zipped his jeans and said nothing while he freed Xander's hands. He moved away warily afterwards and lit a cigarette. Xander curled onto his side, not looking at the other man.
"Wasn't so bad, was it?" Spike asked uneasily, a nervous jitter in his voice.
"You should leave now."
There was silence, and then the sounds of Spike pulling on boots and shirt and coat. He hesitated at the door before sweeping out, his resumed silence a kind of tact that made it all worse.
He felt like crap when he showered, and pulled on sweatpants, and climbed back into bed. Numb and dirty and down. He thought the worst of it all might be knowing that he wouldn't say anything to the others, that he'd have to fake smiles until he had his façade down again. He'd have to get over it; in the big scheme of world-threatening demons, this didn't even rate.
He thought about how he'd kill Spike, and fell asleep, his plans sliding into dreams.