All Cats are Leopards After Dark

Spike is having one very good day. He looks down at the body laid out on the concrete - nudges with one foot so that the splayed legs are together. Decorum, after all. He takes in a hard, deep breath and exhales with a roar. He feels the blood - spiced with lust, rage and terror - racing through him, repairing and replenishing. He's pretty sure he has a couple broken ribs - a fractured humerus on the left. And his face is bruised - lip split - jaw maybe cracked. It all aches but it aches in a good way, because he's standing here feeling it, and he's not dust. And fuck, that blood - like fucking rocket fuel, like - Spike tips his head back to the paling sky and laughs - spins and spins in place, his duster flaring out and around him, his arms raised to the sky. He feels he could almost withstand the dawn, with this blood arcing through him like a fucking lightning bolt - like Frankenstein's monster. But common sense tugs at him - whispers at him - and finally he turns and leaps up onto a parked car - jumps from it to the next and the next, denting the hoods, kicking in the windshields. He runs, because if he doesn’t move he might just detonate - might just crucify himself in the sun just to feel that blood fighting the ultimate end. He runs like a greyhound through the frail lemon light of false dawn, towards home. Despite his aching face, he grins all the way.

His sleep is hard and fast and deep, and when he wakes he stretches out until tendons pop and joints creak. Naked and almost warm in the cotton sheets and he feels good - so very good. He props himself on one elbow and snags a cigarette from the bedside table - lights it and inhales - blows smoke towards the corner.

"Come out, pet," he says, and Xander snorts softly and steps forward, out of the deep shadows there. He looks - strung out, his human. Paler then a Southern California boy should be, his hair longer than ever and untidy - combed out by the wind, but not by anything else. His eyes - so deeply brown they often seem black - are set back into their sockets too far today. Shadowed, a little red around the edges, crowded with hunger. Xander walks slowly to him and settles on the edge of the bed. He brings with him a smoky scent, and scent of dead leaves, and the sea.

"What burned?" Spike asks, and Xander reaches out and runs one hand gently over what Spike knows are fading bruises - temple, cheekbone, jaw.

"Mr. Hawk, down the street? He was clearing out his garden - burning the dead stuff and some old trellis and it got away from him a little. I helped him get it back under control." Xander lifts his arm and sniffs at the faded chambray work shirt he wears. "Guess it kinda stays on you, huh."

"Yeah." Spike takes a last pull on the cigarette - flicks the butt away into the corner and pulls Xander close. His boy comes to him with a sigh, curling into him, tucking sneakered feet up onto the worn satin duvet; slipping one arm around Spike's waist and laying his other hand on Spike's naked stomach. Just placing it there, hot and heavy and possessive, and Spike grins.

"Ssso... What're we gonna do tonight, pet?" Spike pushes his nose into Xander's hair - breathes deeply of the smoke smell and the just-turning-autumn smell that's best described as cinnamon and damp, rich earth. Been raining, these past couple of days, just a drizzle at sunset, and the damp air carries more scent than at any other time. He can smell the jasmine out in the garden, and the peppery scent of marigolds, and old, old blood. Xander is rubbing his cheek slowly, slowly over Spike's chest, faint scratch of stubble that makes Spike's skin tingle.

"I -" Xander sighs - twists a little - and Spike knows what he's doing - where he's looking. Over at the wall, and the chains, and the spatter of faded blood across the stone. Spike kisses Xander's temple and slides his hand up under his shirt, trailing his nails lightly up his boy's spine, making him shudder.

"You what, love? Need something tonight?" Xander sits up, and his eyes are wide and wet and full of some dark emotion - hate, maybe, or loathing, or need, strong enough to choke him.

"Need to fight," Xander whispers.

*Fight and lose* Spike thinks, and he reaches out to run his fingers under the collar of Xander's shirt - grazing the delicate tracery of scars there - multiple bite marks from their four or so years together. Xander closes his eyes and sways towards him, and the smoke-smell is suddenly overlaid with sweat and the warm musk of arousal. Spike runs gentle fingers up Xander's neck - pushes into the silky hair behind one ear and combs through and through the long strands. Rich sable brown, like a mink or a wolverine, and Spike combs and pets and twists it around his fingers, just a little. Then he sinks his hand in and yanks - pulls Xander's head back with a jerk and propels him off the bed. Xander stumbles - recovers - and swings a fist into Spike's ribs. Pure luck connects fist with still-sore rib and Spike hisses in displeasure and shoves him, hard, at the wall. Xander staggers and thuds solidly into stone - bounces off and comes straight back at Spike, fury in his eyes, his fists bunched and swinging. Spike's been drinking his caramel-sweet blood for years, but Xander's been drinking vampire blood, and he's stronger than he was - faster. Heals a little quicker and notices things a little more. All his senses fine-tuned a couple notches higher than most other humans, and it's brought that lurking hyena sensibility closer and closer to the surface. More of the world looks and smells like prey to Xander these days, and it makes him a little edgy and a little mean, and a lot quieter. Makes him - feral - and it's never so obvious as when he's hurting, and needing, and wanting to kick out at the world. Then Spike sees what he keeps under his skin, and revels in it.

Xander lands another blow to the ribs - canny boy - and Spike backhands him, almost groaning aloud at the sudden scent of blood on the air. Xander's lip is split now - his eyebrow just about where Spike's old scar is, and he whips his head to one side, dashing blood away in a fine scatter of carmine drops. And launches himself again, and again. Five minutes, ten, and Xander is panting, bleeding from his knuckles as well, limping from a hard kick to the thigh. Spike's lip is blooded as well, and his ribs creak a little, not happy. His arm is sore now, too; just-healed bone still tender. Xander is crouching, head down, up close to the wall, and Spike stands still for a moment - still as only the unliving can be - and he sees the rage and resignation in Xander's eyes as the demon surges to the fore. Then Spike is on him, blindingly fast, driving him back into the wall so hard his boy's breath oomphs out of him. He can't fight this - can't even evade this - and Spike laughs as human teeth tear into his shoulder - as ragged nails open his back.

He grips Xander's face in his hand, thumb digging into his jaw, fingers across his mouth and pressing hard enough to split the lip again against bared and snapping teeth. He raps Xander's head once, sharply, into the stone and while his boy is reeling, dazed, he snatches up the chains and locks them on. He shreds the old stone-blue shirt off Xander's body and flings the pieces aside. Xander leans there, panting, crying - more blood on his shoulder, where Spike's nails have scraped. Bruises fanning along his ribs and collarbone, angry red.

"Now what's to do pet, eh?" Spike asks, panting a little himself, and Xander snarls and yanks on the chain - putting all his weight on the hook in the ceiling. The hook that held Angel, and has held Spike as well, a time or two. Spike bares his fangs in what might be a smile and saunters over to the bed to get a cigarette. Lights it, and smokes it slowly, watching Xander fight the chains.

"I need something I can...push against," Xander says, a week after the witches had tried to bring Buffy back. "I want - I want to hurt something - hit something...oh...but I don't want anyone ELSE to h-hurt, I just..."

"You want to push against something you can't break, is that it pet?" Spike asks, deep inside him, curled over him and just rocking, rocking. Xander moves under him like the sea, rise and fall, salt and wet and warm as sun-baked sand.

"Yeah, I - I want to FIGHT b-but - oh, OH - " Xander gasps, his head back and his throat arched up, honeyed skin beaded with blood, pulse fluttering, fluttering.

"You can fight ME," Spike murmurs, twist of hip and nudge right THERE and Xander claws at his back - opens his mouth in soundless, agonized rapture.

"Ssss...Spike, oh please, oh -"

"We'll figure it out," Spike whispers, and then drinks deep, and Xander is clenched hot and hard around him, helpless and utterly SPIKES, no one else's boy, just his own, and Spike is as lost as Xander is.

Now Xander asks for this - not every week, but he asks, and then they fight, and Spike locks those chains on so Xander can fight as hard and as desperately as he wants to - can scream and kick and claw and bite, like some rabid jackal, but ultimately he loses - ultimately he batters his fury and fear and desolation against the stone and the iron until it's shattered and gone. Until he can think again, and know that he's not to blame, not responsible - not, finally - the strongest one, and doesn't have to be. Spike knows this - knows the fear and rage and pain that surge up in Xander are so strong that he's afraid he could crack the world in two. He knows Xander is afraid that he'll do something unforgivable one day, in the grip of those desperate emotions. And this...helps, but Spike knows it's not the answer. Knows this might get to be...too much, eventually. Might become something more - something else - and Spike doesn’t want that for his boy, his lovely, fragile boy. But tonight it's what Xander wants and Spike lets him have at it until Xander's wrists are torn and the iron is slick with blood.

Spike walks back to him, slow, and Xander watches warily from his place near the wall, hands on his thighs and slightly bent over, gasping in hard breath after hard breath. The salt of tears and blood and the bonfire smoke-smell thick and sharp and enticing.

"You done tryin' to prove something, then?" Spike sneers, and Xander snarls - snaps his teeth at Spike as Spike once more slams him into the wall - takes him down to the floor and wrestles him out of his jeans and shoes. Xander is so hard it looks painful - probably is - and Spike hauls him to his feet - pushes him face-first into the rough stone and holds him there. Twists the chains in one hand so Xander's arms are behind his back, and rubs his fingers over the slick fluid that's beaded thickly on the head of Xander's cock.

"You can't win this. No matter how hard you try. You can kick and scream and break things - beat me until your hands are bloody. But I'm always gonna win, Xander. Always." Spike laps with his tongue, blood and sweat in a line from Xander's temple, and Xander shivers and wrenches his arms, hissing.

"I'm the strong one here - I'm the one that says yes or no." Spike kicks Xander's legs wide - puts a hand slicked with pre-come and blood into the small of Xander's back. Puts his lips right at Xander's ear, cool breath ghosting over the pale shell of cartilage and skin. "You fight me, love, you beat down on me with every bit of that rage, pet - you won't break me. Never break me." Spike slides his hand lower and roughly pushes two fingers in, breeching muscle that is as tense and aching as the body beneath him, and Xander cries out. Pushes his hips back even as he writhes and kicks back with one foot. Spike takes no time - uses no finesse. He twists his fingers - scrapes a nail across and across that most sensitive place and Xander shouts, his voice cracked and rough. Spike pulls back - pushes in with three fingers and presses, hard. Then he's grasping his cock in his hand - jerking the chains higher so Xander is forced to bend a little - spread his legs a little wider or risk losing his balance. Spike presses the tip of his cock into Xander - just waits there for one long moment and then surges forward - fast, hard, and unrelenting. Xander screams - comes up on his toes and claws the air with his helpless hands. Spike feels the breaking of delicate tissues like teeth snapping through the skin of an apple. Doesn't matter - Xander is arching back into him with a frantic need, wrenching his shoulders and gasping in hoarse pants. Spike pulls back and slams in again, and again, and again - leans down and runs his tongue over Xander's back. Over the scars there, that make the tanned skin feel like raw silk - coarse and satiny at the same time. He lets one scalpel-sharp fang trace one of the scars - opening it and making it bleed, making it more permanent - and Xander is crying again, beggin - pleading in a raw voice for more -for something else - for absolution and for rest. Spike lets go the chains and winds his arms around Xander's ribs - holds him tight enough to hurt him and just fucks him - letting this pain wipe out that other pain - letting this reality supplant all others.

Xander's hands are on the wall, clawing until his fingertips bleed, and Spike thinks remotely that blood has become their holy water - their benediction. Xander needs it as much as Spike ever has, and Spike closes his eyes and breaths it - wallows in it - his tongue rasping flat and hard on the Braille of old pain that criss-crosses Xander's back. He pounds into the heat and crush of Xander's body - lets his fangs scrape Xander's throat and frees one hand to grasp Xander's cock - to caress and then to squeeze, hard enough to cause a flinch. He sinks his teeth into Xander's neck, drawing hard on the wound and it's life bubbling into his mouth. Steamy-hot and sparking with his own demonic essence - redolent of lust and love and want - spiced with pain and rage. It's like champagne and opium and fiery old whiskey and Spike grinds forward, frantic, his eyes rolling back and his spine arched and ridged and crackling with fire. His orgasm is long and deliciously edged with pain - ache of rib and arm and face, sting of the many cuts and scrapes that Xander's sweat is burning in. Xander is panting, groaning - pleasepleaseplease from bitten lips.

When Spike can move again he pulls out and spins Xander around - crouches swiftly and takes Xander into his mouth, one fast push and his nose is touching the heaving belly - his throat is working spasmodically around slick, hard flesh. He presses three fingers back inside, deep and searching and pushing - sinks his nails into the hard muscle of Xander's buttock and pulls him open and sucks and Xander shouts and arches off the wall and comes, shuddering. Spike sucks until Xander is limp and then he stands slowly, rubbing against Xander like a cat, licking his way up the trembling body. Xander tastes like Lapsang tea - all smoke and salt and dark - and Spike can't get enough of it. He takes his time; following every scratch, every line of blood or sweat, mouthing every bruise. He's hard again by the time he's reached Xander's mouth. Xander is collapsed against the wall, barely upright, and Spike pulls him close and kisses him - tasting the flavors of China Black and blood and chocolate, still smelling the bonfire in Xander's hair. Xander kisses him back, a hunger and a desperation there that makes Spike pull away and look at him. Xander's arms are tight across his back - the chains slither and clink against Spike's thighs, chilly and heavy.

"You killed her last night." Xander says, voice raw and broken, and Spike leans in close, forehead to forehead, bodies touching all along their lengths and Xander is hard as well, hot against his belly. "You got your third Slayer last night," Xander whispers, and Spike knows, then, what this has been about, and he hugs his boy even closer.

"It's what I do, pet. What I'm made for. We dance, and they..."

"Die. Faith died." Xander's lips are right by his ear - then they are at his throat, and Spike knows what he wants - encourages him with a hand to the back of his head. Xander kisses, licks - then bites, hard and fast, and Spike shudders against him, his eyes fixed on the ceiling and the hook and the swaying chains. They both grind into each other, and they both climax again, slick wash of fluid on bellies and thighs. Xander licks the bite he's made - rests his head back against the wall and looks at Spike. Spike looks back - brings back his human face finally, and touches the fine hairs that curl at Xander's forehead and temple.

"We can't be here anymore, love. We can't. You need -"

"Need to go," Xander rasps, and Spike kisses him, soft and quick.

"Yeah. Need to shake the dust off our feet and leave it behind, love - leave it all behind. It's eating you alive, pet."

"I know." Xander shifts - sighs - pushes his fingers through Spike's hair and tugs him close for another kiss. This one is slow, and deep, and it speaks of things that Spike and Xander rarely say. Things they don't need to say out loud. Things that they say every single time they touch - every single time they look, or kiss, or bruise.

"Let's go soon," Xander whispers, and Spike nods, eyes shut, face buried in the sable hair and smoky flesh.

*Fly from here like an arrow shot at the sky, and no one to know where we'll come down.* Spike thinks, and imagines a black-shafted arrow arching stark against a summer sky. Happiness like that arrow, soaring so high it could pierce the vault of heaven.