Credence Chapter 15

Credence Chapter 15

"You know, I really am beginning to question your constant use of that tazer.  It seems - excessive.  I DO need my subjects to be healthy."

"All they know is pain, doc.  Go easy on 'em and they'll turn on you, just like a junkyard dog."  A sharp blow to the side of his head - steel-edged fist that cracks the half-healed bone and splits the skin further.  But THAT pain is far away and nothing, nothing at all to the fiery, spine-twisting agony that is the illegal taser pushed hard into his chest.  Volts high enough to kill a human, high enough to send HIM into  convulsions and there's blood in his mouth and he can feel a vertebra cracking in his back and something is dislocated and his throat is raw, raw and swollen and almost useless because he's been screaming for so long, so FUCKING long and it's not stopping, it's not stopping -

"Well, I suppose you boys know best.  I need him in my lab in half an hour, sergeant, all right?"

"Half-hour it is, doc."

*No, no, nonono - find it, find it - THINK you fuck, SAY IT...*

"Spike!"   A voice from down a well - across a windy field - and it doesn't really mean anything, it was just a name, some name - his name, but it doesn't mean anything.

*Now, NOW - fucking Christ, please please please...*   And it came to him in a rush: the still, humid air, the canopy so deep and vividly green that it seemed he swam underwater.  Scent of rot and wet and flowering plants - of musk.  The drone of insects and the strange, high cries of birds and small, secret mammals...

Bagheera stretched himself at full length and half shut his eyes.  "Little Brother," said he, "feel under my jaw."

Mowgli put up his strong brown hand, and just under Bagheera's silky chin, where the giant rolling muscles were all hid by the glossy hair, he came upon a little bald spot.

"There is no one in the jungle that knows that I, Bagheera, carry that mark - the mark of the collar; and yet, Little Brother, I was born among men, and it was among men that my mother died - in the cages of the King's Palace at Oodeypore.  It was because of this that I paid the price for thee at the Council when thou wast a little naked cub.  Yes, I too was born among men. I had never seen the jungle.  They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera, the Panther, and no man's plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw, and came away; and because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan.  Is it not so?"

"Yes," said Mowgli; "all the jungle fear Bagheera - all except Mowgli."

"Oh, THOU are a man's cub," said the Black Panther, very tenderly; "and even as I returned to my jungle, so thou must go back to men at last, - to the men who are thy brothers, - if thou art not killed in Council."

"But why - but why should any wish to kill me?" said Mowgli.

"Look at me," said Bagheera; and Mowgli looked at him steadily between the eyes.  The big panther turned his head away in half a minute.

"THAT is why," he said, shifting his paw on the leaves.  "Not even I can look thee between the eyes, and I was born among men, and I love thee, Little Brother..."

"Spike - Spike - wake up, come back -" 

*Wolf, wolfling - help me -*

"It's all right - wake up - safe now -"   The voice was closer - was soft and steady and warm but it wasn't right, it wasn't the wolf and when something touched his shoulder Spike lashed out, snarling lunge.  His fist connected with something and he smelled blood and then something struck back and he opened his eyes. 

Familiar rough brick beside him, scratching his shoulder and hip and thigh.  A rug twisted under his feet and his hands hurt.  He blinked and looked, and saw his nails were broken - his fingertips bleeding.  There were score-marks in the old bricks; blood and brick dust mingled there, and on his wrists.   He looked dazedly around himself and saw Xander sprawled on his side on the floor.  Nose bleeding, mouth red with it, hair in his eyes and that other thing coming up in his gaze, vicious and unforgiving.

*There you are, beast...Christ...hurts...*   Then the other was gone and Xander was curling up, sitting up and then crouching, watching Spike.

"You awake?" he asked, and Spike gasped in a breath - did it again, catching scent, relearning where he was with every pull of air over his tongue and the back of his throat.  Smoke and damp, leather and aging wood.  Earthy musk of the wolf, honey-sweet of the boy.  Cloves and whiskey and opium and he pushed his body hard into the wall, feeling it - feeling that it was whole.   He looked repeatedly over the room, but everything was too bright, it was all too sharp-edged and things were jumping - flickering - making his head hurt.

"I - I don't -"   He reached for Xander, *Come here, rabbit, come here, I'm so fuckin' cold...*  trying for his ankle but Xander was a couple of feet away, not actually close enough to touch and Spike lost his balance and swayed out from the wall - clutched at it, shivering.

"I'm not coming over there until you're awake."  Xander looked around - grabbed his wife-beater from the night before and mopped his nose and mouth - tipped his head back, watching Spike from under his lashes and pinching the bridge of his nose hard.  The strong, rich blood-scent made his mouth water but his stomach rebelled, twisting in him.  The jumpiness was making him nauseated.

Spike watched, the cadence of Kipling's words still in his head...the ripple of blue-back pelt over muscle and a small boy, all bones and whipcord muscle snuggling up against him...  *No, Bagheera, the jungle...*   He shook his head and blinked, curling down over his knees, shaking harder now.   Xander sniffed and wiped at his face again - pushed himself wearily to his feet.  Something was buzzing in Spike's ears, making it hard to tell what sounds were right and which weren't. He could still hear a voice, but it wasn't Xander's and he was pretty sure it wasn't his.

*I'm awake!  I'm...awake...be QUIET...*

"You awake?" Xander asked again and Spike nodded, trying to say so but his teeth were chattering so hard he couldn't so he just kept nodding, spastic jerk of his head on his neck and it was starting to hurt a little.  His shoulder and hip, already raw, scraped the bricks with every uncoordinated twitch.  Xander tossed the crumpled shirt away and approached him slowly. 

"C'mon then - wanna get up?  Come back to bed."  Xander held his hand out and Spike reached for him and missed - looked again, squinting and reached, leaning a little and missing again, falling forward.  Xander lunged for him and Spike felt the demon flash to the surface, growling.  Xander jerked back, cursing, and Spike twitched away as well, letting out a yelp of pain when his back connected too hard with the brickwork.

"Fuck!"  Xander crouched down again, just out of his reach.  "Spike?  You need to wake up, you hear me?  Wake up now and let me clean you up, okay?  SpikeWake up."    The buzzing, rushing noise abruptly went to a shrill whine and Spike convulsed, his skull cracking sharply into the wall and his thigh and arm scouring painfully into the brick.  Then it was over and in the ringing silence he could hear himself panting - could hear Xander's harsh breathing. He sucked in a deep breath, scenting again, fallen in an ungainly heap on his side.

*Fuckin' nightmare, that's all, that's all, home home...  Wolf is here and...my boy...*   He struggled weakly to his knees, one hand flat on the floor, the other braced on the wall.   "Rabbit...help me up," he said, and was appalled at the thin, hoarse thing his voice had become.  *God, fucking god, that was bad, that was...*

"Guess you're awake, then," Xander muttered, but he stood up and came warily closer, hand out.  Spike reached up, his hand shaking hard.  He almost missed again but Xander moved towards him - caught his hand and pulled him up.  Everything whirled around for one dizzy moment and then thumped solidly back into place and he found himself leaning on Xander, hand clutching hand and shoulder and his head on Xander's chest.  "F-fuckin' hell -"

"It's alright...c'mon, it's alright, I've got you..."  Xander's free hand rubbed gently at his back and the boy shifted, taking a little more of his weight, getting his arm around him and Spike just breathed his scent in for a moment.

"Where...is the wolf okay?" he asked, his throat hurting and Xander turned him a little, tugging him into a weak-kneed walk.

"He's fine.  We were only asleep like - three hours.  He's still out.  C'mon, lets - lets get in the shower, okay?  Wash off all that grit and stuff."  Spike could feel brick dust in his hair - on his ribs and he grimaced.  *Fucking soldiers...  Christ, what he saw - did I say...anything?  Should have stopped him, I guess.*   Spike had thought he was over - things - well enough that what had happened at the club wouldn't have stirred anything up.  *Fuckin' wrong about THAT.  Fuck - FUCK.*

"Rabbit -" he started, groping for the words, and Xander flicked the bathroom light on - pushed him down onto the closed lid of the toilet.

"Don't panic, Spike.  I've got Oz through a few of these.  And...I've had a few myself, you know?  Just - let it be."  Xander got the water started and stood there, arms around his ribs, watching Spike think it through.  His head felt muzzy still - the jerkiness in his vision was still there and he sighed and closed his eyes - swayed where he sat and felt Xander's hands on his shoulders.

"C'mon and get clean, Spike.  It's okay..."  Soft voice, good scent of salt-sugar-licorice and radiating heat and Spike let himself be drawn up - drawn into the water that poured down hot and wonderful all over him.  Xander's hands scrubbed over him, washing away dust and blood, the callused skin of his hands a soothing rasp that made Spike's skin tingle all over.   In the darkness, with touch and smell confirming that he was home he began to feel marginally better.

After a bit Xander's hands left his body and Spike opened his eyes and watched Xander rinse himself off - turn his face up to the spray and clean the blood off his face, snorting rust-tinged water and scrubbing at his lips.  Then the water shut off and Xander was squeezing the excess out of his hair - getting a towel and wrapping it around his waist, getting another and rubbing Spike dry, careful over the sealed but still-raw spots where he'd scraped himself against the wall.   In the erratic stutter-blink of images that still felt half dreamed, Xander seemed to move with the jerkiness of a puppet; here one moment, there the next.  Losing tiny slivers of time and Spike took in breath after breath, trying to anchor himself.

"I might have to read that book you were - were saying.  It sounds kinda cool," Xander said, small curl of a smile at the corner of his mouth and Spike snorted weakly, finally getting enough coordination to scrub at his hair so it wouldn't soak his pillow through.  Time seemed to smooth out a little more.

"Don't need to read it; I've got the bloody thing all in my head, line for line.  One of Dru's favorites."  *There, that's better, that's - nearly normal...  Don't say anything, rabbit, don't...*

"Yeah?"  Xander hung the towels up and waited for Spike to walk out, hovering.  Spike snarled but his knees were still refusing to lock and he staggered a little.  Xander caught him effortlessly around the ribs and steered him to the bed, making him sit.  "Drink for you," he said, and went over to the cabinet, pouring a stiff shot into a glass and bringing it over.  "Take your medicine like a good boy and I'll give you some candy," Xander said, utterly serious and Spike just stared at him - broke into a shaky laugh and snagged the glass, drinking it down in one gulp.

"Did it," he said, holding the glass out in a hand that shook like a leaf in a high wind.  "Now where's my sugar?"    His voice rasped uncomfortably and he swallowed, but he didn't take his gaze off of the boy's face.   Xander's eyes were dark and a slow flush was creeping over his body.  Spike still felt as if he'd been turned inside-out - felt like he'd fallen a thousand feet and jarred himself halfway to elsewhere. 

Xander took the glass and put it on the bedside table - pushed Spike flat on his back on the bed, legs hanging over the side.  Xander got his knees on either side of Spike's - braced his hands beside Spike's shoulders and leaned slowly down.  The kiss was slow, deliberate - consuming.  Spike felt a shiver of lust go through him and he got his arms up and around Xander's neck - pulled him closer, legs falling open, urging Xander to blanket him with heat and sweat and skin.   *Oh, rabbit, nice, nice, nice.  That's better than whiskey, better than...  Kiss me again, rabbit, let me taste you...*

Xander worked his arms under Spike's body and heaved him upwards, getting him higher on the bed and then laying over him, one thigh between Spikes's, his arms making Spike arch up, pressing tight.  When Xander's teeth bit his lip Spike made a small, desperate noise, pushing his hips up and trying for something more.   He was half hard and wanted - friction and pressure and heat.

"Rabbit, that's so good, that's so good..." he murmured, baring his throat to Xander's chapped lips and nibbling teeth - to the swipe of a hot, slick tongue.

"Shhhh...."  Xander whispered.  He bit gently at Spike's neck, making his shivers come back.  Spike felt his mouth move in a wet, warm trail from Adam's apple to collar bone to sternum and the sudden press of Xander's chin into the bone there was uncomfortable - too much.  Spike suddenly felt suffocated - trapped - and he jerked violently, heaving Xander half off him and scrabbling away.

"Spike - Spike.  Shhhhh...it's okay.  I'm sorry, I shouldn't do that, I'm sorry..."  Babble, and Spike lay curled tight against the headboard.  Flicker, flicker, flicker like the fucking lights there, that never went out and whose stuttering cycle had made his head throb - made his eyes ache.

*No, no, nonono...  Take a fuckin' breath, it's home, it's safe...fuck...*  Spike forced himself to uncoil - to sit up a little and Xander just lay where he'd been pushed, eyes wide, his hair across his mouth.  "Rabbit - its okay, I...just..."

"Can I touch you?  Is it all right?" Xander asked, low, and Spike nodded finally, his muscles cramped tight and shaking in waves of painful spasm. 

"Okay - it's okay...  Just let me -"   Xander moved slowly, touching gently.  Getting him to scoot down a little, to get comfortable on his side.  Then he spooned up behind him, one arm curled under Spike's pillow and the other just stroking lightly; shoulder and arm, hip and thigh.  Soothing circles across his ribs and belly.  Avoiding his cock, which had softened.

"Just go back to sleep now, okay?  Just rest.  I'm here, I won't go anywhere, I'll keep you safe, okay?  I'm here and I won't let anything come near you...shhh, shhh, shhh..."

"Big bad rabbit," Spike murmured, snuggling closer, feeling his eyelids droop and struggle open and droop again.  The heat from the boy was intoxicating and he made a low grumble of pleasure down in his chest.  Xander kept up a soft litany of words - gradually inched the flannel sheet up over them and the down quilt, enveloping them and making a cocoon of heat and softness around Spike.

*I'm home.  Never warm there, never soft- this is home, home, home...*

"You shush," Xander whispered.  His voice fell to a wordless hum, and he seemed to be searching for a tune for a moment.  Then the hum strengthened and after a moment Xander was singing - voice so soft and low and the touch of his slow hand on Spike's body utterly hypnotic. 

 

 "Let us be lovers...we'll marry our fortunes together...
I've got some real estate here in my bag..."

 

*What are you doing, Rabbit?  Treating me like the wolf, maybe...  Sweet boy...God, my head hurts...* He said that out loud he supposed, because Xander's hand drifted to his neck and began to rub slowly, firmly.  Pressing at his neck and the base of his skull with callused fingertips, rubbing his rough knuckles over Spike's shoulder and using his nails lightly, lightly on his scalp.  It was bliss and Spike sighed and leaned back and just gave in - groaning softly in pleasure.

 

"Kathy, I said, as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh...
Michigan seems like a dream to me now...
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw...
I've come to look for America..."

 

"Old song," Spike grumbled, and Xander's body shook a little as he laughed softly, humming again.

"Hush, vampire.  Let me do this."

"You're sweet, rabbit.  Sweet...I can love, you know," Spike said abruptly, something coming loose from memory and surfacing in that odd way they did after dreams.  His whole self rattled and nothing tied down, anymore.  "Loved Dru...miss her....  Miss her, rabbit...my rabbit...   Pretty, pretty rabbit, kiss me again..."  Spike knew he was rambling but it didn't matter.  He was safe, he was home, he was warm and held and it was all he'd wanted, down in the pit, and it was all he wanted now.   Xander's caressing hand stilled for a moment and then Spike felt the boy's warm, hot mouth on the back of his neck.

"Don't say that.  Don't call me rabbit, I'm not a rabbit," Xander whispered and Spike caught Xander's hand in his and tucked it up against his chest, fingers lacing together.

"Pretty, anyway.  Rabbit."  Another full-body shiver of laughter and Xander was humming again, singing again and Spike was drifting, drifting...  *Not what I was going to do.  Was going to have him tonight...make it like a collar and leash and he's slipped it...*   Xander had been too dazed - too exhausted - and just getting the blood off him when they'd got home had been almost more than he could take.  They'd ended up curled together in Spike's bed, asleep before they knew it.  *Catch him again.  Hound to his rabbit...I'll lure him in...never let him go...*

 

"Kathy, I'm lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping...
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why...
Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike...
They've all come to look for America..."

 

 

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Rudyard Kipling - Mowgli's Brothers

Paul Simon - America