Credence Chapter 8
It took a week for them to settle in. In that time Spike had another bed brought in, and linens for it. More towels and a box-full of cooking things. Xander himself went shopping the second day, digging money out of a duffle and stomping off. But the wolf was comfortable now - was up and moving on his own. Every day out from the full moon saw him get a little better. But there were troubling gaps in his memory, and he forgot about things, sometimes. Sat holding a comb for five minutes, just staring at it until Xander came and took it out of his hand and combed his hair for him. Spike had looked away from the wolf, then, to let him wipe his eyes and compose himself in private.
Wrxl was working on something to get the silver out of Oz - a combination of science and magic, he'd said, and Spike had just shrugged. Whatever worked, really. The hardest thing was the hardware the Initiative had put in. Magic and electricity didn't mix well, and Wrxl didn't want to take a chance on frying the wolf's brains right along with the chip. He wanted to know why the one they'd put in Spike's head didn't work anymore, and Spike told him, even though it made him remember.
"It was the night the Initiative went down. The - doctor... They were doing something to it. Had me all - opened up like a fuckin' can of beans, didn't they? 'Modifying', that little fuck said." Spike lifted a trembling hand to his mouth and took a long drag on his cigarette, breathing in smoke and chai and herb scents - Xanders scent, since he'd come to the club that night to see if Vivian would give him a job down in the kitchens or something. The scent - wolf and boy, mingled with the homey smells of Spike's own lair calmed him some, but not enough.>
"After this, then, I'm sure you'll be able to come out of that cell - have your own room down the hall with the other chosen few." The doctor patted his shoulder, oblivious to the raw burn that was there. He reeked of the Latex gloves he wore and a thick, choking aftershave and Spike thought he might vomit if his stomach hadn't been so utterly and completely empty. He was shivering hard - freezing. Naked on this table - in this room - tied down like a fucking sacrifice or a dog at the vets, and the doctor bustled cheerily, his curling fringe of ginger hair and round, flushed face making him look bizarrely like a monk.
"No more of that other face, after this," the doctor chuckled, and Spike had jerked reflexively at the manacles on his wrists, terror flooding through him. What did he mean? What was he doing? He twisted in his bonds, uncaring that the dull metal edge was re-opening the ring of scar-tissue around his wrists and ankles.
A soldier standing at his ease by the door watched for a moment and then approached, the taser in his hand held up and waiting. Spike stilled instantly, hissing. The fucking tasers HURT, they burned him, and on his diet of poisoned or half-rotted blood, he couldn't heal. He was covered in burns - some new, some old, all raw and stinking of scorched flesh and the rank blood he was given. The soldier nodded once, smirking, and retreated as the doctor patted Spike's hurt shoulder again.
"There now, fear of the unknown. After this, if you try to bring forth your demonic form, you'll receive a negative reinforcement from the chip. And, in fact, if you STAY in your demonic form, you will most likely receive enough stimulation from the chip to adversely affect your synapses. Although, not right away." The doctor tipped his head a little, looking at Spike.
"Now, that might actually be an interesting experiment - just how MUCH stimulation would it take to cause permanent brain damage? Oh, my, I must speak to the Colonel about this - a whole new area of investigation..." The doctor bustled away again, tapping things into the computer that was against the far wall, consulting his notes. Spike closed his eyes, searching for something - anything - to distract him. He would be nothing, after this. Nothing at all. A tiger on a leash - muzzled. Worse - a tiger whose teeth had been pulled and is let loose to play with the kiddies, because no one fears him. Spike was shaking so hard now that the doctor was fussing at him, and he tried desperately to sink into the headspace the wolf had been teaching him. Tried to find some words of beauty or power that would let him escape this hell.
But the horror at what the doctor was preparing to do was too much and he couldn't. He had uttered no words - to doctors or soldiers - for two solid months. The doctor thought it was something to do with the chip, but Spike had simply decided to stop letting them hear him. Disgust or pain or grief, he was silent. Only Oz - only the wolf heard his voice. Heard his whispered stories and poems and terrified groans when he thrashed in the grip of nightmare. In a minute, though, he felt sure he was going to start screaming. And if he did, he was certain he wouldn't be able to stop.
The doctor was fiddling around - hooking something to the chip, Spike knew. Delicate little leads that would begin a death-sentence of uncertain length. As the doctor hummed to himself, adjusting things, Spike began to hear noises. Shouting - screams - distant explosions. The lights in the room flickered and dimmed - came back up. The doctor looked up at them, frowning.
"Oh, we can't have this! Stockton - go and see what's going on, would you?" The soldier nodded and turned - opened the door and the noises instantly became louder - loud enough for even the humans to hear.
"Doc, I think -" Stockton started to say, and then there was the massive, earth-trembling crump of an explosion and every light in the ceiling exploded. The computer terminal went up in a shower of sparks and the power to the leads surged wildly. And Spike DID scream then, as the electricity crackled through and through him; enough to make him arch up high off the table, his spine cracking and bending and close to breaking as every muscle locked. A moment later it was over and Spike slumped back, his vision gone, a tinny ringing in his ears. He felt as if his whole body were on fire, and his head was full of ground glass and acid.
As the power went out, emergency lights cut in and the room was washed in red.
"Oh damnit!" The doctor swore. Spike could feel something - could feel the Doc putting a hasty bandage over the fucking hole in his skull, the one they wouldn't let heal. Made it easier for them, didn't it?
"Get him back to his cell! What is going ON out there? If that surge has damaged my best subject, I am really going to have words with the Colonel!" The doctor was shouting at Stockton, who kicked the lock on the gurney wheels and began to roll it out of the room and down the hall - back to the cells. A few moments more and the familiar scent of the wolf was there - other demons were held here as well, but the wolf-smell was the strongest after his own. So he knew where he was, even though he still couldn't see very well. Spots and sparks in his vision, flares of color and floating black blobs. He blinked furiously, and the moment the manacles were unlocked he rubbed and rubbed his eyes, hoping to clear them Thinking that maybe he could get the fuck OUT of there, if there was some sort of emergency. Stockton dumped him to the floor and he heard the gurney roll out - heard and smelled the doc come close.
"Here now, Seventeen, you drink this. You'll need to heal up from that before we can do anything else. Damn military incompetence, NEVER trust the government..." The doc aimed one last, excruciating slap at his shoulder and then he was gone and the cell door closed. Spike could feel two blood bags against his hand. He lifted them and tentatively sniffed at them. Even through the plastic he could smell human blood - pure, undrugged, and FRESH - and he tore into them and drank, forgetting in his rush the 'tweak' the doctor was supposed to have made. Apparently he didn't have the time, because the demon emerged with no jolt of pain and Spike swallowed and swallowed the first pure blood he'd had in months..
*Fucker wants me well,* he thought, shivering. There were still screams - shouts - going on overhead, and another explosion shook the floor - made the lights here flicker, as well. They were one level below the main complex, but whatever was happening was reaching here, too, and when all the blood was in him Spike's eyesight slowly came back to him. He saw his clothes, piled in the corner like always - the doctor won't let him leave the cell clothed - and he crept across the floor and laboriously dressed, every piece, even his boots and duster. He had a feeling something was going to happen...
Fifteen minutes later, it did. The cell doors slid open as the lights went out and the red emergency bulbs flared to life. He forced his aching, burning body to its feet - staggered out of the cell. For the first time in six months, he was outside of the cell and on his feet - not flat on his back and his demon was triumphant - eager to get out. He looked over and saw the wolf, and he smiled.
It took him a week of starvation to get desperate enough to attack a human, and he'd ripped the old wino to pieces when he'd realized that he could - that the chip was truly dead. Two days later he was in Seattle, presenting himself to Vivian. Someone he'd known, years ago - a contact he'd never forgotten. And she'd taken one look at him and turned him over to Wrxl, who'd muttered 'Initiative'. At that moment, Spike had finally felt safe.
He sat for a long time after telling Wrxl what had happened, listening with half an ear to the old demon going over texts and muttering to himself. Mir was on a computer, researching computer chips and Wrxl stood over her, getting in the way and making wild stabs at the keyboard. Spike was listening to a voice in his head - the wolf's voice - telling him a poem to drive the memories away and he almost forgot that the rabbit was there, and had heard it all.
*I hold in my hand this cup...this ritual...this slice of womb woven of birchbark strips and the woolly part of a burst cocoon...all mortared with mud and chinked with papers of snakeskin...I hold in my hand this carcass this wintered-over thing...*
Xander shifted a little in his chair, taking another tentative sip of the chai Wrxl gave him, as if not certain that he likes it yet, even though he had drunk half the cup. *He'll smell like that all night,* Spike thought, fingers absently stroking the faint but still-there scars around his wrist. *Like cardamom and cloves and ginger.* Wrxl exclaimed suddenly, something about 'a chip that stops epileptic seizures!' and Spike scrambled for the rest of the poem, the memory almost banished now, if he can just force the door shut and get it locked. Use once again the key the wolf gave him.
*What are they made of, these string sacks...these tweezered and gluey cells can only be said of a house...of plumb bobs and carpenters' awls...God of the topmost branch...god of the sheltering leaf...fold your wing over. Keep secret and keep safe.*
"Keep secret, keep safe," Spike murmured, and felt himself relax fully. Things tidied up - voices shut down - and now he wanted to get a drink and see what was what. It was nearly closing time, and Tod was with the wolf, keeping an eye out. Spike stirred in his seat and got up, and Xander looked up at him.
"Come on, rabbit. Let's go see what Viv has for you so you can earn your keep. I'm not keeping you in food and drink."
"I buy it for Oz, too," Xander muttered, standing as well, and Spike grinned at him.
"Oh, I'll buy for the wolf. But he never said he had a pet, so - you have to earn your own."
"I'm not his pet, Spike, we've been friends for years," Xander said, scowling. Spike stepped up close to him, crowding him against the chair, catching the shoulder of Xander's baggy flannel shirt in one hand and curling the fingers of his other hand lightly around Xander's throat.
"You could be my pet. I'd buy you a pretty collar an' all... Wouldn't you like that, rabbit?" Xander's chest was just touching his and Spike could feel the faint vibration that was his heart pounding - could feel the brush of cloth as Xander's chest rose and fell with his angry, panting breaths.
"Fuck you, Spike. Not in a million fucking years." His eyes were furious - the darkness of that other thing in him fighting to get out - to attack. But Xander didn't move and Spike stroked his throat - his jaw - inhaling lazily, his mouth open just a little so he could taste as well as scent. The blood-anger-fear-want that came off the boy was enough to make him achingly hard.
"Oh rabbit - you know you want to," Spike murmured, and he leaned in close, feeling the tension in the boy in the tremors through all his muscles - in the hitching breaths.. He rubbed his cheek against the sleek, mink-brown hair - curled his hand in the heavy stuff at the base of Xander's skull and tipped his head just a little, so he could whisper right in his ear.
"Just say the word, rabbit. Just tell me - tell me you're mine and I'll take care of you, sweet..." Xander jerked, trying to twitch away but there was nowhere to go and he ended up back where he started - closer, even, as the rebound of his aborted flight pressed him the length of Spike's body.
"Leave me alone, Spike," Xander whispered and the demon came to the fore at the tremor that was in Xander's voice - the huskiness that dropped it to a low moan.
"Course I will, rabbit. Anything you say," Spike breathed, and he pressed his face for one more minute into the heated flesh of Xander's neck. And then he slid away, heading out of Wrxl's office and up to Viv's, and after a moment he could hear Xander behind him.
He found Viv on the phone, as usual and waited with as much patience as he could muster. He felt jittery - felt like a fight, since he wasn't going to get a fuck, apparently, from the boy.
*And he'd be nice to fuck, I'll bet. Bet that darkness comes out when he fucks - bet he likes it rough.* Xander sidled into the office, looking sullen and a little lost and Spike grinned at him. *Or maybe he just clings and begs. Either would be nice.* Xander avoided his grin and pointedly turned his back, looking at the art Vivian had on her walls. Too modern for Spike's taste, really.
"So, Spike," Viv said, clicking her phone off and smiling up at him. "Everything going well, then?"
"Just grand, luv. Come to see about the boy, though." Viv looked over at Xander, who had turned around and now stood there, his fists shoved into his pockets and his shoulders hunched.
"The boy?" she asked, her delicate eyebrows going up, and Spike had to chuckle.
"Yeah. Needs to earn his keep, he does. I wonder, would you have anything for him here?" Now Viv's eyebrows were practically in her hairline, and Spike wanted to laugh. He knew exactly where this was going.
"Spike, darling, he is absolutely stunning in a very - collar and leash sort of way. But you know we only use demonic entertainment here."
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" Xander snapped, and Spike reached over and snatched a handful of hair - yanked the boy close.
"Don't talk like that in front of the lady, rabbit." Xander didn't move - didn't blink - and a moment later Spike let him go. He lowered his head but the glare he sent Spike's way from under his lashes was deadly.
"Viv, luv, he's not looking to be entertainment - although he does provide that unintentionally. Maybe something in a behind-the-scenes sort of way?"
"Oh. Oh! Yes, I see." Viv smirked and looked Xander up and down. He looked away, biting his lip. "What have you done lately? Anything useful?" Viv asked, and Xander turned to look at her.
"Did some bartending. Did some construction." He shrugged, looking away again. "I can do 'bout anything if you show me once."
"Hrmmm..." Viv said, leaning back in her chair. "Actually, I've been looking for a handy-man. A sort of jack-of-all-trades. Someone who can fix a lock or set up lights...break a bone, keep a secret..." Xander lifted his head, looking straight at her and that darkness, that hyena was right there, glittering stare that made Viv go very, very still.
"I'm your man, then," Xander said, and there was the slightest curl of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth. He looked -
*Fuck, looks like malice on two legs. That's a delicious look on you, rabbit.* Spike wanted to reach out and pet the boy but Vivian was nodding - talking about schedules - and he decided not to interrupt.
"Well, that should do it, then. See you on Friday, Xander. Spike - tomorrow, then?"
"As always, Viv. Thanks, luv."
"Anything for you, Spike," Viv smiled, and Spike grinned at her and turned - sauntered out of her office. Last call went out, and Spike watched a soldier come downstairs and head for the bar. Beside him, Xander stiffened and drew in a hard breath.
"Soldiers come here? Are they -?"
"Had a few ex-Initiative," Spike murmured, leaning against the wall and watching the dark-haired human get a shot - toss it back and say something to the bartender, who laughed.
"What - what do - I mean -" Xander seemed unusually upset by the soldier and Spike turned his head a little to look at him. Saw that the boy was pale as paper - trembling. Fear and anger coming off him in equal measures and Spike raised a mental eyebrow.
*So, something else here. Interesting. Think we'll try and coax it out of the boy.* "I've my own way of dealing with soldiers here, rabbit. Want to see?" Spike turned so Xander could see him fully and vamped, lifting his lips in a snarling grin that would take the starch right out of most anyone who saw it. Xander's heartbeat jumped violently but the fear-scent didn't increase. Something else crept into the mix - excitement. And arousal, like a dash of lemony pepper to the opium-sugar that was Xander's usual olfactory mix.
Xander stared at him - looked over at the soldier and the hyena-grin was back, sly and glinting, and Spike laughed. This - was going to be fun.