Cat Scratch

He is there when Spike gets up - hollow-eyed, thinner than he should be. Dark hair unkempt, jeans ragged. Spike just looks at him, huddled in front of the fireplace, and goes to get a cigarette. Xander watches him - sits curled in on himself, silent. Spike gets his smoke - lights it - finally crosses over to the hearth and crouches down, tight black jeans and nothing else, looking at the mortal.

"What's wrong, pet?"

"Willow..." Xander's voice is cracked - raspy, and he coughs and tries again. "Willow had us all - meet her last night. She...wants to bring Buffy back." Spike shoots to his feet, cursing, and Xander flinches away and ducks his head. *Bloody HELL what is the witch thinking!* Spike paces to the door and back, smoking furiously, shooting glances at Xander who just huddles there. Fear and misery and fatigue - Xander is so tired - and Spike finally relents. He goes back over to the fireplace and settles down next to his boy - pulls him in tight and holds him. Xander clings and shivers, close to tears, and Spike pets his uncombed hair - strokes his back and shushes him. The light is gone from the sky, and an early firefly bobs erratically in the mansion's garden. After a bit Xander sits up, and looks at Spike with bruised, pleading eyes.

"What - what would happen if she did? What would -"

"No!" Spike stares at the boy, incredulous. "Forget it, love. You're not bringing her back."

"What do you mean, I'm not." Xander's eyes narrow and Spike wants to slap him.

"You can't. Didnít the witch tell you?"

"Tell us what? She said she could do it - she could bring her back, back out of h-hell."

"What makes you think she's in hell, pet?" Spike asks, sarcastic, and Xander looks taken aback.

"Well, Willow said -"

"Oh, 'Willow said'. The same bloody Willow who wants to bring someone back from the dead! She's fuckin' crazy." Xander pulls away, affronted, desperate.

"She's not. She said - when Buffy died it wasn't natural. It wasn't - like it was supposed to be, with the monks messing everything up and - all that. So she's - she's trapped in a hell dimension and we have to get her back!" There's something more than concern-for-his-friend in that, and Spike takes a long, last pull on the cigarette - tosses the butt into the coals in the hearth.

"How does the witch know she's in hell? She was the Slayer - that gets her a ticket straight up, don't you think?" Xander stares at him, dark eyes wide and hopeful, and then they shutter, and he turns away, shaking his head.

"No, because she - she died in that portal. She died between the dimensions and - and that..." His voice trails off to silence, and Spike reaches out and tentatively touches the hunched shoulder - rubs gently until Xander sighs and leans into him.

"You can't know that, pet. And - the kind of mojo the red witch is messin' with is - bad. It's not somethin' you just do on a whim -"

"It's not a whim!" Xander glares at him. "Damnit, Spike, she's got it figured out; she's got all the stuff, stuff that was hard to find... Just 'cause you're scared of magic -" Spike growls, warning, and Xander flinches away and then frowns - straightens.

"I'm scared of this kind of fuckin' mojo 'cause it's bloody easy to fuck up! If one thing - one tiny thing goes wrong - you won't get the Slayer back, you'll get a fuckin' demon in her skin, or you'll get her but she'll be wrong, Xander - and that's if your lucky! She probably won't be right even if you do it perfect!" He is right in Xander's face now, shouting, and the boy is looking terrified and furious at the same time - near tears again and trembling, but his mouth is in a hard line, his jaw clenched and jumping with tension.

"You don't -"

"I don't know? Course I fuckin' know! Angelus was always fuckin' around with that kind of crap, especially when Dru got interested. I've seen some damn fucked up things happen and the only reason I'm still here is 'cause I was smart enough not to get mixed up in it! This could kill you, Xander!" Right in his face on that last, and Xander gasps in a hard breath - just stares at him, and suddenly Spike is knocked back into the hearth because Xander is on him, kissing him hard and desperate, hands digging into his back and his neck and this sound, this whimper, coming from the boy's throat. Spike wraps his arms around him and kisses back, knowing desperation - knowing nerves - are most of this. This whole summer Xander's been getting more and more ragged - more frayed. All his little friends are trying to fill in for the dead Slayer but Xander is trying hardest of all and Spike's been running interference for him - making sure the bigger and nastier nasties are waylaid before they ever get in scenting distance of his boy. But it's not helping like it should - there's something else here - and Spike is going to find out what it is, tonight, by whatever means necessary. Xander is hot and vital and so needy in his arms, and Spike slides his hands under the buttoned shirt and pushes - tears at it when it won't cooperate and flings the pieces aside. Xander is kneeling over him now, groin pressed tight to groin, and he pulls back minutely - looks Spike in the eye.

"Love you," he whispers, and that sends a surge of electricity all through Spike - to his unliving heart and his belly and his cock, which is hardening rapidly. Those words - that word - enough to make him moan - enough to make him come - when Xander is in him and on him and whispering it in his ear - holding Spike's wrists in his hands and just chanting that as his hips mindlessly buck and slide, buck and slide.

"Pet - Xander, love you -" Spike whispers back, and Xander is clawing at his naked back now, his hips moving in a slow grind, and Spike gets one hand in Xander's hair, one into the waistband of his jeans. Xander groans into his mouth - tongue darting and licking at Spike's, and Xander tastes like apples, like sweet tea and like chocolate, and Spike can't get enough - can never get enough.

But suddenly Xander is pulling away - panting a little but pulling away, pushing at Spike's shoulders and getting to his feet. Spike unfolds easily, catching his arm, tugging him towards the bed but Xander stops him.

"No, I can't. Spike, I gotta - gotta go. I'm -" he stops talking - bites his lip and looks around - picks up his ruined shirt and frowns.

"Go where, pet? We should finish this first -" Spike murmurs, but Xander shakes his head, twisting the shirt nervously in his fingers.

No, I - gotta go - m-meet -" Spike hisses, the demon surging to the fore, because what's coming off Xander is fear and...deceit.

"Now where do you have to be running off to, boy," Spike says, voice soft, and Xander clenches his jaw hard - looks as if he might bolt at any second. The human's heart is pounding double-time - sweat is beading on his lip, and Spike knows - he knows. "It's tonight, isn't it? Tonight, you're gonna try this fuckin' insanity. That where you're going?" He stalks forward, head down, hands out to his sides and open, ready to grab. Xander is backing slowly away and suddenly he drops the shirt and runs, dashes for the garden and the steps out and Spike pounces. He's got Xander around the chest - around the throat - and he yanks him back into the room, holding him tight. Xander yells, struggles madly, kicking backwards and almost getting Spike in the nose with the back of his head.

"Fucking hell!" Spike hauls him around - flings him towards the empty space between the sitting room and the bedroom - and Xander stumbles forward five and six steps. Catches himself and whirls around, his face a mask of rage and panic.

"Spike, don't! I have to!"

"No you do not! And you won't." Spike sweeps forward - crashes into Xander and pushes him back, hard, into the wall. Xander yelps as he connects sharply with stone and then Spike is grabbing up the chains, the chains left from when Angel came back, and in minutes the manacles are around Xander's wrists and he's standing there, yanking on them, leaning on the hook in the ceiling and his furious eyes well with tears that he blinks away.

"Spike! Let me go, damnit, let me go! You can't do this! I have to meet them!"

"You don't have to do any such bloody thing. And you won't. I'm gonna find that damn witch and tear her fuckin' heart out!" Xander's eyes go absolutely huge and then his face crumples and he's sagging to his knees, sobbing, still yanking on the chains but his hands are shaking now.

"No, no - Spike please, you can't! No, please, please -"

"You're not going to be part of this, Xander. No fuckin' way. And it's not gonna happen. They're not gonna bring back some - some fucking zombie or something and try to pretend it's her. Don't you see - what that would do to you?" Spike is crouched down by Xander now, trying to make the boy look at him -trying to sooth him, but Xander just shudders away and continues to sob -to beg. Spike finally stands up and goes to his room. Gets a t-shirt and his duster and pulls on his boots. He lights a cigarette and walks back to Xander. The human is still crying, but softly now, hopelessly.

"I'll be back in a bit, love. Don't fret." Spike walks out.

He's gone a few hours - three maybe, or four. He'd gone straight to the Slayer's old house and watched them. Watched them dither and worry and finally just go - this crazed spell more important than finding out if Xander was alive or not. He'd followed them, and scared living hell out of them, and hunted a little, to get rid of some excess energy. Now he's back, standing in the shadows outside the open door. Watching Xander. Learning things. Learning that Xander was scared of the spell, but didn't know what else to do. Learning that Xander was tired, so very tired, of killing, and fighting. Learning that he blamed himself for the Slayer's death. Xander had ranted and sobbed and yanked on the chains until his wrists bled, and now he is in a huddle on the floor, back to the wall and his head down on his knees. Shivering a little. Spike scents his blood, and the demon flickers out for a second, wanting it. Then he calms and goes inside - tosses his duster aside and goes in to stand over the silent, miserable boy.

"Xander," he says, and the human stirs - looks up at him, his eyes red and burning - desolate. "Know what this is?" Spike holds up the jar - the one the witch had, and had tried to protect - and Xander's eyes widen.

"That's -" His voice is a wreck, hoarse and broken, and he swallows and grimaces - tries again. "That's that jar of Osiris...something like that. Willow said -"

"Only one in the world is what she said." Spike looks at the jar - weighs it in his hand - turns and throws, one smooth motion, and the jar hits the far wall and shatters - a thousand fragments that can never be mended.

"None at all, now." Spike says, and he digs the manacle keys out of his pocket - leans down and unlocks the chains and lets them clank to the floor. Xander looks at him the whole time - looks at him as a child looks at the father who just backhanded him. With fear, and love, and hurt, and loathing.

"Did you - did you k-kill -"

"No, pet - didn't touch the witches or demon-girl. Just scared 'em within an inch of their lives. They won't be doin' that kind of fool thing again." Spike reaches down and pulls Xander to his feet - lifts a bruised and bloodied wrist to his mouth and licks, slowly, teasing the blood away from skin with his tongue, shivering as the heady taste of his boy fills his mouth. Rich, sweet, alive, and he's already hard - already wanting. Xander lets him do it, but after a moment he pulls away - steps away and leans against the wall, and he hugs himself, looking at Spike from under his grown-out bangs.

"Spike - Spike you just...you don't understand, we had to do that - we had to bring her back - to save her!"

"No pet, you didn't. She doesn't need you now any more than she did when she was alive." Xander grimaces at that - a strange twist of his mouth that could be hurt or that could be hate, and Spike takes a step closer, wanting the blood again - wanting his boy, hot and tight around him. Safe.

"That's not - Fuck you, Spike! I - I had to do this! I had to - had to bring her back! You don't - you just don't fucking get it, you bastard!" Xander is off the wall now, closer, and Spike takes a deep breath, pulling his scent in.

"Oh, I fuckin' get it, Xander. You think if you can bring her back - bring her home - it'll all be all right again - it'll all be just like it was before. It's never gonna be that way again, Xander! She's dead, and you couldn't have stopped it and you can't change it. She's gone." Xander is shaking his head, pressing his fists to his ears and Spike reaches out and tries to pull his arm down. And Xander lashes out - claws at him like a cat and Spike feels the ragged nails slicing across his cheekbone - jaw - lip. Feels the blood well there, and the cat-scratches stinging. Something - clicks over - in his head. With a roar he launches himself at Xander and drives him into the wall - pins him there, the boy's feet barely touching the ground, Spike's hands digging cruelly into his biceps.

"You think you could have saved her, boy?" he sneers, and Xander kicks out - catches him all unexpectedly in the groin and Spike reels back a step and drops him, snarling.

"Fuck you, Spike - FUCK YOU. I had the chance - I had one chance, to get up there and get Dawn and stop that fucking portal from opening and I fucked it up!" Xander actually pushes him, the human's eyes wide and wild and furious. "I didn't get up there fast enough and that - that demon was already there, he was cutting her and I - I didn't make it, don't you fucking get it, you bastard, don't you understand that if I'd just been five minutes faster Buffy would be alive, and Dawn wouldn't be falling apart and Willow and Tara wouldn't be wearing themselves out trying to - to be her mother and to fix all this and Giles - Giles would still be here, don't you get it you undead bastard that it's MY FAULT!" Xander almost screams the last - spins and brings back his fist and punches, straight into the wall and Spike hears the crack of bone but Xander just stands there, fist to the wall, breathing hard, sweat beading along his spine and blood dripping from his mangled hand.

"Love - your hand -" Spike is human in an instant, hurrying forward to hold him - help him - but Xander twitches away and shoots him a look of pure contempt.

"Don't fucking touch me," he spits. Spike stands there for a moment, remembering that little click in his head. He's feeling like whatever it turned on - or off - is still there. He lowers his head, looking at the spattering of blood on the floor - looks up at Xander who blanches.

"Oh pet. You are so fucking wrong. Don't touch you? I'll do more than that." Spike reaches and sinks his fingers into Xander's hair - jerks his head back hard. In seconds he's right there, the demon snuffling over that arched, pulsing throat. His fangs scrape lightly from Adam's apple to collar bone, and Xander shudders convulsively under him.

"Just fuckin' do it, then. Do it and put me out my misery - it's what I deserve." Spike freezes at those low, despairing words - freezes for an instant but the click is still working through him, the weird little half-step shift that is making him see things in an odd and too-bright light.

"Deserve? What exactly is it you think you deserve? A quick death? Fuck that. If you killed the Slayer - if you killed your best friend in all the fuckin' world, love - you deserve much worse." Xander is pulling against him a little now - trying to free his hair and scrabbling at his chest with his good hand and Spike wrenches him around - brings his other arm tight enough across Xander's chest that the human can only draw half-breaths. Xander writhes there, panting, and Spike puts his fangs on his throat - sinks the tips in, just a little. Xander freezes - shudders all over - and Spike flings him forward - snatches up the chain and has the manacles on him again. He flings a loop of the chain up and over the hook and Xander is at full stretch, just on the balls of his feet, and Spike walks around him - stands looking at him.

"You fucked up? You think you deserve some punishment?" Xander is shocked - shocky - and he blinks and blinks again - nods finally, his eyes pleading. "Oh, pet," Spike steps up close, nuzzling into Xander's cheek - kissing him, soft and sweet. "I'll make it good, love - I'll make you suffer." Xander closes his eyes and Spike walks away, towards a closet. This, this is what's been wrong. This is what's been tormenting and harrying and wearing Xander down all summer. This is what's making him moan in his sleep and this is what's slowly leeching the life out of him. Guilt, so crushing and absolute that he can barely stand up under it - barely draw a full breath. And Spike knows - is pretty sure he knows - how to fix this.

Somewhere in the closet is a leftover from Angelus' tenure in the mansion. Some sort of whip, made of braided black leather with a tip thin as grass and Spike searches for it among the detritus that was left behind. Finds it, and runs its length through his hand. It's still fairly supple, after all this time, and he swings it once or twice, getting the feel. Not something he's done a lot, really. It was never really his kink, but he's done it enough. He goes back to where Xander is standing and walks up behind him - runs the coiled whip up his back - along his sides.

"Think this is what you need?" he purrs, circling around in front of the boy, and Xander gasps and flinches - stills himself.

"Yeah - yeah, it's..." His voice trails to silence, and he licks his lips - looks at Spike. The pain and self-loathing Spike sees in his boy's eyes hit him like hammer-blows. "Make me bleed for her, Spike." Xander's voice is raw, half gone. "Make me bleed for Dawn and Giles and Tara and Willow - make me bleed for them and maybe - maybe it'll be enough." Spike looks at him for a long moment - leans in and kisses him, hard and possessive and rough, cutting Xander's lip, bruising his mouth. Spike withdraws slowly, licking the welling of blood, and grins.

"I'll fix it, love," he whispers. He walks behind Xander - kneels to yank off sneakers and socks, and then wrenches the jeans down and away. Stands for a moment just looking - letting his eyes take in the smoothly muscled expanse of sun-browned flesh. Memorizing the smooth sweep of skin from shoulders to buttock - across his hips. Acknowledges to himself that, no matter what he does, Xander's back will never be perfect again. Never be unbroken - unmarked.

*But he's marked on the inside, already. And maybe it's better to have the marks out where you can see them. See them and...forget them, after awhile.* Runs his hand from Xander's neck to the top of the swell of his buttocks, caressingly slow. Xander shivers.

"Just - please, Spike..." he whispers, and Spike steps back - lets the coils of the whip drop to the floor. Another shiver and the muscles in Xander's back are tight - jumping with tension and anticipation. Spike's arm goes up and back - forward - a hissing and then a crack like another broken bone. Xander doesn't scream until the fifth strike. Spike doesn't stop until the boy's voice gives out.

Standing behind him; two or three inches away, and Spike can feel the heat radiating from the lacerated flesh. Blood-scent is overwhelming, and Spike sways forward, back - closes his eyes and fights the demon for a moment. Opens them, and watches the blood well up and spill down with every heartbeat. He goes around, getting in front of Xander, and surveys that, dispassionately. The whip has curled around, here and there, making cuts across his ribs - his belly. One across his left nipple; one, when Xander had twisted, across the tops of his thighs and, glancingly, his penis. Xander knows he's there - slowly lifts his head, sweat-soaked hair falling back. His lips are bitten - bloody - his face tight with pain, streaked with tears. Somehow the whip has even found this, and there is a fine line of beaded blood along his jaw, on the left side. He opens his eyes, and Spike steps forward and cradles his face in his hands.

"There love, there... You feel that? Can you feel that? That's guilt, love. Guilt, and shame, and sin, and failure. Pouring out of you, Xander. We let it out." Xander blinks at him - wets his lips and his tongue is bloody, too.

"Out..."

"Yes love. Out, it's all...out. Now - we do the magic." Spike steps around behind him, and the demon is eager - ready. He leans forward and puts his mouth on Xander's back - licks - again and again, while Xander writhes and shudders under him. The blood is cool against the fevered flesh. It does taste of guilt, and shame, and despair. But mostly it tastes of Xander - of his boy; tastes of chocolate and apples and Spike needs to take in little breaths. He's hard, and he wants to be inside, inside the heat. He licks everywhere there is blood, and when he comes around again, his mouth is bloody, and Xander stares at it.

"I can take all that sin, love. I can take all that guilt and shame. Doesn't hurt me - demon, remember? I can take it, and change it..." Spike puts his wrist to his mouth - opens the flesh there and presses it to Xander's mouth. He doesn't have to urge him - Xander drinks, desperately.

"You go on, love." Spike purrs, and he digs the keys out of his pocket - unlocks the manacles one-handed and Xander falls into him; arms dead weight and legs going out like a new-born's. "Not your fault, love," Spike whispers, cradling him - carrying him. Walking him over to the bed and its tangled sheets. "Not your fault, not at all. You saved her sister - you saved your friends - you did everything you could do. She's the Slayer, love, she had to die, and she died happy and she's not in hell, love, not your fault..." Murmuring to his boy while blood-loss and demon's blood are making him dizzy - vulnerable - accepting. Worming those thoughts into his head while there's nothing else there to fight them off. Making him believe - letting the surging euphoria of endorphins and magic make it true. Spike lays him down on the bed - pulls his wrist away - and Xander is panting, half-hard, watching him with a glittering, hectic gaze. The vampire pushes his jeans off - snatches up a bottle of massage oil that has fallen to the floor and opens it - fills his palm.

"You feel it, love? Feel the magic?" Spike murmurs, and Xander's breath hitches - catches - and he sighs, long and ragged. Spike's hand is on him, now - working the oil into him.

"Feel it. Sspike..." Rusty thread of a voice, and Spike gently, gently lifts his legs - kneels there, and gently begins to push in.

"All gone, love. All that hurt - all that hate. It's gone. Not your fault, my boy, my own...not your fault..." Spike bites his lip - eases forward - and Xander's head is twisting on the sheets now, his fingers catching at the soft, heavy cotton. Spike pushes a little more - is fully in - and Xander's eyes are fixed on his.

"Not my fault..." he gasps out, and Spike begins a slow rhythm, his eyes never leaving Xander's, his hands gentle on Xander's damaged flesh. Evan inside Xander is fever-hot and Spike cannot contain the groan of pure pleasure that rumbles up out his chest.

"No love, not your fault, not your fault, you were brave, and strong, and you did everything right, everything right..." Spike goes a little faster - Xander can't take much more, not matter he's hard and wet with desire. Spike's oily hand caresses chest and stomach - takes Xander's cock in a firm grip, and now Xander's hips are moving, just a little, rise and fall as he pants for breath. Spike leans forward, kissing him - tasting blood and tears, tasting fear and grief and love. Tasting desire, and hope. Xander's hands creep into Spike's hair - clench there, holding him close, and Spike moves his hips, hits that so-sensitive place, deep in the human's body, and Xander is making that sound again, that whimper of lust and need and want. Spike draws away - nuzzles into Xander's neck and kisses there - tastes sweat and blood and lets his fangs graze the skin - sink them into muscle and vein and Xander is arching under him, crying out, semen hot across Spike's hand. Spike's own orgasm is a rolling wave of muted pleasure, and after another moment he cradles Xander to him - rolls them both, so Xander is on top of him and his poor back isn't pressed into the sheets anymore.

"My boy, my own...love you Xander, love you." Spike whispers, long locks of mink-brown hair across his throat, across his lips. Xander is trembling - his hands still in Spikes hair - and he lifts his head and looks down at Spike. Looks at him and smiles; tiny smile, bruised and faltering, but it's enough, it's enough.

"Love you too, Spike." His voice is a little better - vampiric blood repairing the damage it would take days for his own body to heal. Spike lifts his head for a kiss, and then Xander lays his head down again, snuggling in close. "I was brave..."

"You were, love. So brave. As brave as the Slayer was, I promise." Xander sighs - contentment and exhaustion, and in a few more minutes he's asleep, and Spike holds him - holds him, as close and as tight as he dares. Later, the blood and semen will glue them together and pull uncomfortably on sore skin and sensitive skin. But for now this is perfect - this is heaven. The heat and the weight of the body above him are like an anchor, and Spike closes his eyes and breathes - kisses the shoulder that's under his mouth and tastes the essence of his boy - sweet and savory and a tang like apples; hope and love. Most of all, love.