Outed

by
BmblBee



Part Twenty-Six

Xander was flabbergasted. He wanted to be furious, and by some small measure he was. But more than that, he was confused and hurt. The time and date stamp on the posting was proof positive that as soon as Spike had hustled his human from his flat, he had gone online trolling for vampire lovers. Their coupling hadn't meant diddly-squat to the vamp. It was nothing more than wham bam thank you Xan.

"Jesus, Spike. How could you?"

Xander flopped back in his chair and as he did so, his sore, painful butt-hole mocked him with its reminder of the amazing things the vampire had done to him. Although, sadly, the ache in his heart far surpassed the one in his rear. He thought they really had something. He thought there was a connection between them. He had allowed himself to forget, or at least disregard, the fact that Spike was a vampire. That obviously was a major mistake.

"So I guess it's true. You fucking vampires really are heartless." Xander poised the mouse in the upper right hand corner of the screen aiming it at the little red X that would end his suffering and shut down the picture. But he couldn't do it. Apparently he hadn't tortured himself enough and he needed a bit more suffering. With that goal in mind, he scrolled down to see how many responses the bastard had gotten.

One by one, handsome, smiling, virile dead men popped up on the screen. Although their messages to Spike didn't show up, one critical point did. At the side of the grinning, smug faces, either a small, limp cartoon penis appeared or a proud, rigid erection. The tiny sketched hard-on indicated that Spike had corresponded with them. Xander whimpered.

He wondered what traded innuendos and promises were being bantered about between them. Xander wondered if Spike was saying the same endearing things to these men that he had whispered in Xander's ear. As all of this swam through Xander's head, he stared at the faces of the handsome vampires that had caught Spike's attention.

And that was it.

That was all he could take for now and he clicked off the site that was bringing him so much agony. He turned off the gooseneck lamp that sat on his desktop and went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a good think. He refused to cry. He had his dignity. He had his pride, and he also had a strong sense of right and wrong. As he considered all of this he knew he had a choice to make. He could pretend that he had never seen the posting and he could continue to let Spike play him like a cheap fiddle, or he could stand up for himself and call a halt to this situation.

Situation. He no longer thought of it as a relationship. It was now a 'situation.'

He would take the stance of superiority. He would be the one to tell Spike to piss off and Xander would act as though their little tete-a-tete was nothing but a romp on the wild side. A venture into the sexually forbidden, and now that the itch was scratched, Xander would think no more about it.

"Damn you Spike. I could have lived with the dead part but why did you have to be a jerk?"

Xander stood in the kitchen trying to remember what it was that he was supposed to be doing here but his brain was a blank. As he turned to go back to the sofa, the phone in his pocket jangled and vibrated as he jerked it out and flipped it open.

"Harris Integration Service."

"Oh, love, I just adore that official tone in your voice."

"Spike."

Spike frowned and took the phone from his ear and glared at it. That was not the reception he had expected when he called. He anticipated giggles and whispers.

"Yeah, sure it's me. You sound a bit down in the mouth, love. Anything wrong?"

Now Xander was mad. The light, flip tone in Spike's voice was like a slap in the face, and suddenly Xander decided how best to handle this peculiar situation. Spike didn't know it yet, but the ball was squarely in Xander's court and he was about to lob the hell out of it. Immediately, he chuckled and the tone of his voice took on a distant, strained pleasantness that said he really didn't want to be bothered.

"Oh, no, nothing. I guess I was expecting someone else to call."

Spike was shocked by the human's almost annoyed attitude. Spike couldn't wait to call and he had expected Xander to be just as thrilled to hear from him. Clearly, he wasn't. "Oh, well, I don't want to keep you if you're waiting on a call."

"Okay. Thanks. I'll see you, Spike."

"Wait! Don't hang up yet. Are you sure everything is all right?"

"Sure. Why wouldn't it be?"

"Um, I don't know. Are you coming over tomorrow?"

Xander snorted and shook his head in disgust as he wondered what kind of fool the vampire took him for. "Didn't you say that wouldn't be safe? Aren't you the one who said I shouldn't be there too much? I'm not one for intruding where I'm not wanted, Spike. I would hate to cramp your style. Look, I gotta go. I'll be in touch. Bye."

"Wait!" But it was too late. Spike was holding a phone with a dead air sound that told him Xander was already gone. "Wha...?" Spike considered redialing and demanding an explanation, but he had a sinking feeling that Xander would not pick up. Fucking caller ID.

He didn't get it. Xander had never treated Spike like a vampire. He had treated Spike like a man, and he thought they had enjoyed their time together. God knew Spike had enjoyed it and if the wet spot on his bed was an indicator, Xander had gotten his happy too. So what had happened? Was Xander having second thoughts and deciding that the consequences of becoming involved with a vamp carried too high a price?

Spike was depressed. Despite his better judgement, he had allowed himself to remember what it was like to feel a hot, willing man squirm and writhe beneath him. He had forgotten what a joy it was to sit and talk to someone who had mutual interests, likes and dislikes. He had allowed his sealed, dead heart to open up, and now apparently he was being punished for his foolishness. The fucking universe apparently wasn't done screwing him over.

"Well fuck you too, Xander fucking Harris!"

Spike threw his cellphone down on the sofa, where it bounced and landed behind a cushion. He then grabbed his keys off the kitchen counter and he stormed out the door with the intent of heading down to the nearest vampire watering hole and getting royally pissed.

And what better place to do that than The Squat and Gobble?

It was a dive. Even by vampire standards, which tended to be generous in terms of acceptability. Unlike humans, vampires are less bothered by a few rodents and insects. To the contrary, since a rodent seldom got out alive when confronted by a drunken, peckish vampire.

It was only two blocks away so Spike decided to walk. Dead or alive, drinking and driving is never a good idea. Besides, he just wanted to spend this evening alone, drowning his sorrows and not drawing any attention to himself. He wanted to wallow in self pity. He wanted to swim in his beer of self-deprecation.

Just for tonight, he wanted to forget all about unfaithful humans and plans to take over the world. For tonight, Spike wanted to do nothing more than get so drunk that he would have to crawl the two blocks back home. A worthy ambition and one he couldn't wait to get started on.

In less than fifteen minutes, Spike's palms slapped the door face of the Squat, causing it to swing inward, and Spike swaggered through. The bar was dark and gloomy. It smelled of stale beer and poorly discarded animal corpses. On the upside, there was no reek of human piss, no sweaty armpits and no foul bathrooms. It was amazing how disgusting the human body could be under the right circumstances.

When the thought of Xander taking a piss began to enter his mind and threaten to cause a tear to form in his eye, Spike immediately harrumphed, squared his shoulders and marched toward the bar where he slapped his hand on the craggy wooden surface. "Gimme a beer and a shot!" his voice boomed.

Instantly, and as if by magic, a tall cold one, followed by a shot glass slid down the bar and landed right in the palm of his hand. When Spike looked up, the bartender nodded before returning to his animated conversation with two fat redneck vampires. One of which looked vaguely familiar.

Spike chugged the beer, belched and slammed the empty mug back down. With the first drinks breached, he now took time to look around the room and assess the level of scum that was present tonight. Other than the bartender and the two good old boys who were happily arguing with him, there were less than a dozen other customers in the joint.

Two couples sat at a booth back in the corner. Three men played pool in the center of the room. Two skanky women were humping and dancing together next to an antiquated jukebox that was pumping out country music, and a huge man whose smell identified him as a werewolf was trying to interject himself between them.

It was your standard pack of lowlife bar flies. Made even lower by the lack-of-life element. The bar was set with the perfect cast of characters for this stage play that Spike had envisioned in his mind. He would begin with the men at the pool table. A fast hustle to separate the clueless men from their money would stir the mood of discontent. Next, he would interject himself between the wolf-man and the nasty whores. Not because he would ever consider fucking them but what better way to piss off a wolf than to mess with his bitches?

The two couples in the back would stand in as the audience. Spike would play to them. He would drink and fight and cause a scene that would have them on their feet and applauding at the chaotic melee.

With a relaxed smile on his face, Spike downed half of another beer, gave a slight nod of his head, and he pushed off from the bar he had been leaning against. He then casually strolled over to where the three were in the process of setting the balls for a round of nine-ball. He stood to the side quietly sipping his brew as the balls clacked together as they were snugged tightly into the triangle. When one of the men noticed Spike, he winked subtly towards the others.

"How they hanging?"

Spike smiled innocently. "Oh, they seem to be hanging just fine. You gentlemen about to engage in a bit of billiards?"

The tallest vampire grinned. "We are indeedy. Just a friendly game. You play?"

Spike wandered over to the rack on the wall and he selected a pool cue which he turned over and over in his hand as if he weren't entirely sure which end should make contact with the balls on the table. Still examining the foreign object, he returned to the table. "Well, I have played a time or two but to be honest, I never cared much for the game. I was always more of a baseball fan myself."

Then, before the light of realization could appear in the confused vampire's eyes, Spike gripped the pool stick by the end and he swung with all his might. Babe Ruth would have been proud. The resounding 'crack' echoed throughout the room as the stick exploded against the vampire's head and the deadly wood splinters flew everywhere.

The bartender shouted. The skanks screamed and the two couples dove under their table as the fight exploded into action. Three against one. It was clearly unfair odds as Spike took all of his hurt and frustrations out on them, summarily whooping their asses before they even had the chance to get their footing.

When one of the three got in a lucky punch, Spike sailed across the room and landed at the feet of the shorter whore. He quickly reached up under her short skirt and tweaked her on the pussy. The move achieved its goal and, with a roar of outrage, the werewolf dove into the scuffle.

Furniture was broken. Glass shards and blood were everywhere. Broken teeth and clumps of hair littered the floor along with unconscious bodies. By the time Arnie the bartender had restored order, Spike and Hank, the billiard bully, were best pals. They stumbled arm in arm from the tavern and shook hands as they went their own way, agreeing that this was the best night either of them had had in weeks.





Part Twenty-Seven

Xander sat back with a smug, evil grin on his face as he stared at his computer screen. Payback could be a bitch but so was a scorned gay man. If Spike wanted to play games, Xander was just the one to play with. After a lot of cursing, stomping and tossing things about, Xander decided that it was more productive to channel his anger in the direction of the vampire who had caused it rather than punish an innocent tomato or the television remote control that had done nothing to him.

Once retaliation became the entree on his platter, Xander immediately began devising a plan. It had to be something that would show Spike for who he really was without making Xander look whiny, needy or pathetic which, to be honest, was exactly how he was feeling.

The fact was, Xander's relationship with Spike had come to a sudden halt but Xander wanted to make sure Spike knew why and that the sneaky vampire was not as skilled in his undercover activities as he thought. In addition, as a farewell gift, Xander wanted Spike to know exactly what had precipitated their break-up.

That was when it dawned on Xander. The perfect way to go about it. The subtle slap in the face that wouldn't allow Spike the chance to argue or plead his case through a string of lies and excuses that may cause Xander to sway and weaken. Xander would confront Spike on his own turf. He would respond to the vampire's dating ad.

Wasting no more time, Xander hurried over, powered up and sat down as the screen again came to life. After the debacle that was his own dating ad, he knew that in order to respond to Spike's, Xander would have to create a profile. One that identified him as a vampire looking for love. So he did. He went to the application page and he began to type.

Name: Buddy Tubesteak
Password: dicklicker
Occupation: Taste tester for the Red Cross
Date Vamped: July 4th, 1776
Sire's name: Betsy Ross
What you are looking for in a date: I want a vamp that is not a cheating, lying, cocksucking bastard. Okay, actually I don't mind a bit of cocksucking but I am holding firm on the lying, cheating part. I want a man who does not butt fuck an innocent guy then cruise the internet for his next pork dinner. I want a guy that says what he means and means what he says. Are honesty and decency as dead as we are?

When he was satisfied, he grinned into the camera and he hit the mouse. Immediately, his smiling face was added to his profile. Xander then clicked the 'submit' tab, and within seconds he was welcomed to the vampire dating site. Wasting no time, he then scrolled down to where Spike's ad was still attracting tons of horny responses and Xander added his profile to the mix.

He then happily shut down his computer and skipped off to bed. In the morning, he was just certain that there would be a nice, big, erect cartoon penis beside his name and Buddy Tubesteak would have caught Spike's full attention.

Meanwhile, across town, the object of Xander's plotted revenge was staggering happily up the street towards home. His was still buzzed from the whisky and happily bloody from the flying fisticuffs. His nose was broken and a couple of ribs were probably cracked but it was exactly what he needed, and the pleasant distraction of the pain took his mind off the treachery and disloyalties that were a certain human.

Spike was ashamed. You would have thought that a man who had lived through dying and had seen over half a century come and go would not have been so gullible as to fall for a sweet smile and a few flowery words. But he had. He had opened himself up to love and he had been stabbed in the heart.

"Well, no more!"

Spike clung to the lamppost to avoid falling over as he shouted his defiant declaration. When he did, an elderly vampire couple out for an evening stroll quickly crossed the street to avoid the apparently psychopathic demon who was shouting and waving his fist in the air. His face was swollen and bloody and his clothes were torn and stained, and regardless of what had caused his
state, the two knew trouble when they saw it.

When Spike spotted the couple as they hurried to put distance between themselves and the crazed young man, he angrily pointed his finger at the husband while yelling at the startled wife. "Don't trust him! He's a man and all men are fucked up cheating assholes! Dump him! Dump him now before it is too late!"

The husband and wife who had been vamped well into their seventies clutched each other's hand and scuttled quickly down the street and around the corner, disappearing into the night, leaving Spike alone. With a despondent sigh, he carefully pushed off from the iron base of the street light and staggered away in the direction of home.



~*~*~*~*~



After winning a frustrating battle with his house key, Spike tumbled in through the front door and kicked it shut behind him. He was done. He couldn't think about his ad on the computer or his plan for vampire civil rights. It was all too complex and involved to deal with on a bubbled brain. But most of all, he couldn't think about Xander. That was a hurt that far exceeded his cuts, scrapes and broken bones.

Spike just wanted to pass out. He wanted to slide into blissful oblivion and not think anymore. As he choked back a sob, he grabbed a pillow and fell onto the couch. With his own bed still smelling of his human and their mixed, spent seed, there was no way he could sleep there tonight. Or possibly ever again. Within three minutes of lying down, Spike was dead to the world.



~*~*~*~*~



Wednesday morning dawned bright and cheery in the classic California style. The sun shone, the birds sang to each other from the treetops and roof peaks and the breeze that blew through the air was warm and smog filled. It was the kind of day that no one, dead or alive could find fault with.

"Son of a bitch!"

Spike clamped the pillow over his face in an attempt to block out the small sliver of light that was seeping through the tempered glass of his windows. His brain felt like it had swelled to three times its normal size and was on the verge of exploding through his skull and splattering grey matter all over his walls.

His mouth tasted like he had been sucking on a ferret and his nose appeared to be bent at an unnatural angle. Gingerly he felt his sides to assess the damage and he wondered what had caused the bones in his legs to turn gelatinous. Gradually the memory of the night before came back to him, and despite his present condition he had to chuckle. 'Oh yeah,' he thought. 'Good times. Good times.'

Knowing what he had to do, Spike lifted the pillow and, as quickly as he could, he snapped his nose back into place, shuddering at the sickening sound of cartilage crunching and shifting into place. "Ouch. Damn."

Spike needed blood. Spike had blood in the fridge. The question was how to get the two situations to work together without his dying a final death on his expensive carpet. Roughly, he rubbed his hands over his face and rolled off the couch and onto the floor. From there he crawled the seemingly impossible distance to the kitchen on his hands and knees. After retrieving the blood
bags, piercing them with a fang and gulping them cold, Spike rolled into a fetal position to rest. With the influx of fresh blood he should be back to his old self in only an hour. Okay, maybe an hour and a half.



~*~*~*~*~



"Son of a bitch!"

Xander sat bolt upright in his bed. He had been drifting slowly towards wakefulness as his body gently nudged him from sleep. Suddenly, one or two of his brain cells kicked in and the memory of what he had done the night before hit home.

"Oh, my God! What the fuck was I thinking? How could I have done such a stupid thing? That was a fucking VAMPIRE site!"

Xander flipped around with the intent of leaping from his bed. Instantly, he caught his legs in his blankets and landed painfully upside down, cracking his head on the hardwood floor. Tentatively he touched the growing goose-egg on his forehead while he frantically kicked the tangle of flannel off his feet and scrambled toward his computer.

"Come on come on come on come on."

Xander tapped his foot impatiently as he waited for his machine to power up and go online. From there, he squeamishly typed in the name of the site and he cringed when it opened. Immediately he typed in the username of Buddy Tubesteak followed by his personal password of dicklicker. All he wanted to do was cancel everything out before the authorities could catch him engaged in such an unheard of, forbidden, criminal activity.

What he saw caused his jaw to drop. He had hundreds of responses. From men. From handsome vampire men who commiserated with Xander's search for the one decent man left on planet Earth. "Wow." Xander leaned forward and he slowly scanned down through the faces of the men who had responded to him. They all seemed so normal. They all looked so nice. They all wanted to meet him and do delicious, unspeakable things to him that caused Buddy to snicker in his boxers.

He had attracted more men than even his human ad had. "Hmm. He looks nice." Xander stared at the white row of sparkling teeth and the dark, alluring eyes of a certain Sexbiter500. Reluctantly, he shook his head and tried to get himself tugged back to earth and the harsh reality that these men had no clue that Xander was an off-limits human. It was kind of sad.

Then he was reminded of the real reason he had placed the ad. The bastard, Spike! Quickly, Xander scrolled down through the list of men and he was shocked when he reached the end and Spike was nowhere to be found. Spike had not responded!!

"Oh, so I'm not appealing enough? My face doesn't catch your eye? Or maybe I am a been-there-done-that. Is that it? Once you have sampled the hot meat plate you're ready to move on to cold cuts? I will not be ignored, Spike!"

Against his better judgement, Xander decided not to remove his ad just yet. He would give Spike one more day to...what? Prove he was not the jerk Xander knew him to be? See Xander's face and realize what a fool the vampire had been? Xander wasn't sure what response he wanted but he knew he at least needed an acknowledgment. So he left the ad untouched.



~*~*~*~*~



"Son of a bitch."

Willow sat on her bed with her legs tucked up under her. Her babydoll jammies were wrinkled and her hair rumpled from a good night's sleep. Now that she was awake, she was beginning to doubt her decision to set up an encounter between Paul and Xander. In fact, it was beginning to feel more like an ambush than a romantic rendezvous. Although she seldom ever admitted that she might not be perfect, she realized that sometimes, in her enthusiasm, she might overstep her boundaries.

But it was too late to stop it. She didn't know where Paul lived and he wouldn't be working in the spaghetti shop until later tonight. "Damn." Climbing off the bed, she paced back and forth across her room while she attempted to sort out a resolution to this problem. She didn't want to call Xander on the phone. It would be too easy to hang up on her. She needed to see him in person so she could bat her sad green eyes at him. That never failed. He would have to forgive her. Besides, Xander said that he was crazy about this guy so he should be grateful that Willow was moving things along at a little quicker pace.

"Oh, I know." Willow stopped walking as the perfect solution revealed itself. "I told Paul to be there at noon. I'll just get there at five minutes before noon and give Xan a heads up. Before he has time to get pissed off, Paul will show up and there will be lots of smoochies. It's perfect!"

With that dilemma solved, she happily skipped downstairs as she shouted for Betsy to fix her breakfast.



~*~*~*~*~



"Son of a bitch!"

Paul jumped from bed and headed for the bathroom. His morning wood bounced in front of him and waited patiently to be spanked in the shower. He had hardly slept all night in his excitement at the prospect of finally having the handsome Xander Harris plow deep into his ass. Up to now, things with them had been one debacle after another, but today was a sure thing. It was guaranteed by Xander's very own fag hag and Paul was certain nothing could go wrong this time.





Part Twenty-Eight

By midmorning things had improved considerably and Spike was happily back on his feet. The infusion of blood had magically restored both his body and mind and he was feeling good as new, with the minor exception of a nose that still appeared slightly askew on his face. It was a condition that held no concern for him. He would simply make sure that the next demon he picked a fight with was left handed and the shifting of Spike's features would move to the opposite side, thereby correcting itself.

Now that he was fully recovered, he calmly sipped his steamy cup of tea as he strolled purposefully toward his computer. He needed a clear mind and a calm, careful mood in order to appropriately respond to A. Lincoln's cryptic message.

Spike was stark naked. Once the blood had begun to repair his body's damage and clear his brain, he had removed the stale, rumpled clothing he had slept in and he now moved about his flat without the uncomfortable constriction of clothing. As he sat at his desk, his dick flopped between his legs and his smooth firm thighs rested wide apart on the cool leather chair.

While the ringed fingers of his right hand idly ghosted over his chest and stomach, his other hand had the mouse dancing across the screen as he skipped through the steps that would take him to the dating site and the man who may or may not hold the same secret and interest as Spike. The man had used the pen name of A. Lincoln. If the intent behind the message was to be believed, that name was the perfect choice and it's meaning was not lost on Spike.

A. Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln. The president who freed the slaves. So was Mr. Lincoln's short response an emancipation proclamation of sorts? Spike had to know. As soon as he arrived at the site, he logged on and scrolled down to where Lincoln awaited Spike's acceptance or rejection.

Spike clicked on the cartoon erection and a blank box appeared on his screen. After a second or two to collect his thoughts, Spike began to type. "I think you are the man I have hoped for and I would love to meet your friends. I believe we share the same interest in history which includes the knowledge that J.W. Booth was a human. Let's meet and talk about our hopes and dreams. Give me a time and place. I'll be there."

Spike read and reread what he had written. As he did, he found that his fear and apprehension melted away and were replaced by a strength of conviction that what he was doing was right. Then, out of curiosity to see if there were any other leads that had been added after he fell asleep last night, Spike scrolled down through the 'newly added' group of men respondents. He never made it to the bottom of the list. As soon as he landed on the familiar cupid's bow lips and the brown eyes that sparked with life, Spike froze.

His mouth dropped open and his face jerked forward so that his blinking, unbelieving eyes were just inches from the screen. "What the fuck?" Quickly, as if to find an explanation in the words, Spike scanned the small paragraph and the intent became clear. "Oh for Christ's sake. You reckless, foolish boy."

Spike leapt from his chair and he dove onto his couch. His hands fished around in the cracks of the cushions until he located his cell phone and he punched in the familiar numbers. While he waited impatiently for an answer, Spike's feet took short, bouncy steps and he continuallymuttered threats and curses at the impulsive human who had just done the stupidest thing a human could do.

"You have reached the voice mailbox of Harris Integration Services. Please leave a message and a call-back number at the tone." *BEEP*

"Xander. Xander, are you there? Goddamn it Xander, take the ad off! Take it off NOW! Look, I'm on my way over to your place. It isn't what you think. Please, Xander, if anyone sees that...."

*BEEP*

"Fuck!" Spike snapped his phone shut and he ran for the bedroom to dress as quickly as possible. Within minutes he was in his car and headed across town. His foot begged permission to slam the pedal to the floor and fly, but Spike knew better. A vampire caught breaking the law, even a traffic law, on the human side of town could expect a long, painful punishment, and right now Spike had more important things to do than suffer the wrath of a meter maid's stun gun.



~*~*~*~*~



Xander scratched his nuts through his smiley face boxers as he dragged himself toward his kitchen. He hadn't slept well all night as his emotions ran the continuous loop of sad and depressed to angry and furious before sliding back to sad again. By sunrise he was exhausted, and his eyes were puffy and red as a result of his crying in the privacy of his lonely bed.

Sympathetically, the old coffeemaker began to perk and fill the room with the rich, life-giving smell of roast coffee beans for its master. While he waited, Xander shuffled back towards his living room and the vile computer that sat there. He knew that for his own safety, he had to remove the ad. Putting it on was a crazy and imprudent thing to do and, if caught, there would be no explanation he could give that would save him from arrest and conviction.

Of course he could simply claim it had been a lark. A joke. As a human, his punishment would be no more than a fine, but it would be on his record and he would be labeled a fraternizer. Considering the nature of his business, he had always been overly cautious to avoid any appearance of impropriety, and it made no sense to throw it all away now on something as silly as a broken heart.

When the dating site loaded, he took a moment to scroll down through the dead men who wanted to pump life back into him and he snorted at some of the corny lines they used. There was every cliche from 'holding hands as we stroll on the beach' to 'there are 206 bones in my body but I'm saving the best one for you'. Actually, Xander kind of liked that one but the smile it put on his lips faded when he reached the last man posting and he realized that Spike still had not responded.

With a sigh of defeat, Xander deleted his ad. He then went to Spike's profile and was sick to see that another cartoon erection had been added. Spike had written to his admirer this morning. They were probably making plans to meet and greet. That glorious cock that probably still carried Xander's scent would soon be happily pumping away in some cold, dead vampire's ass while Spike murmured endearments. It was a thought that made Xander physically ill and he was glad he had no food in his stomach.

"Well. That's that."

The ad and all references to it were deleted. Xander shut off his computer and he walked away. At this point, not even coffee would make him feel better and it was just his bad luck that there were no more chocolate donuts in the house. The only comfort left was a hot shower. With a shuddering sigh he turned toward the bathroom, but before he could take the first step, a loud, rapid-fire pounding on his front door had his feet nailed to the floor in fear.

His first thought was 'The IVRC!' He instantly imagined that he had been reported and they had come to take him away. He could see himself tossed into a dungeon of rats and snakes where he would be fed only stale bread and water. And they would expect him to shit in a hole in the floor! Xander couldn't shit anywhere but his own toilet! He was screwed!

"Xander! Open the fucking door!"

The recognition of Spike's voice sent a relief flooding through Xander that was so profound that for a moment he forgot all about being mad and hurt. Instead, he rushed over and jerked the door wide open just as Spike raised his fist to pound again. There, the two men stood face-to-face.

"Invite me in, Xander." Spike's tone was low but there was no doubt that he was anything but calm and rational. His words were not a request but an order. By now, Xander had recovered from the terror he felt at his imagined discovery and he again had his priorities firmly in place. He crossed his arms over his chest and tipped his chin upwards. He knew Spike couldn't enter and there was no way in hell that Xander would compromise his pride and resolve by playing Welcome Wagon to a scurrilous vampire.

"I don't think so, Spike. If you have something to say, you can say it right there."

Spike glanced in both directions up and down the hallway to make sure none of Xander's neighbors were dipping in on their personal business and he tried again. He placed his palms on the doorframe and fought the urge to kick and scream against the impenetrable, invisible barrier between them.

"Whatever you think is happening is not what's really going on. If you let me in, I can explain. I can see that you're mad and you have a right to be. Maybe you even hate me but...."

"Fuck you, Spike. You aren't important enough to hate. Look, we had a bit of a romp and now, like you, I'm ready to forget about it. So why don't you just run along and...."

"Xander, please, don't do this. You're wrong. I wasn't looking for men. Not the way you think. Not for the reasons you imagine. Let me in. If your neighbors see a vampire outside your flat, they'll ring the authorities."

Xander rolled his eyes and huffed despite the fact that he could already feel himself swaying in the direction of giving in. "Oh, so you want to come in just to save your ass?"

Spike lowered his head and rested his forehead against the barrier as he diverted his eyes. His voice was only slightly above a whisper and Xander had to strain to hear. "No, I want to come in because I care about you. More than I should and if you turn me away, I'll die a final death."

Before he knew what was happening, Spike heard the words, "Come in," as he felt himself jerked through the doorway and slammed against the wall. Xander shut the door and they were alone. He was still mad and not convinced, but against his better judgement, he had to hear what Spike wanted to say. Spike may have breeched one barrier but the one around Xander's heart was still firmly in place and the declaration of love had a face value of zip.

"Fine. You're in. Now you have ten seconds to...."

Before Xander could issue his time-stamped ultimatum, Spike grabbed him by the arm and dragged the human over to where his computer sat, and Spike shoved his boy into the chair.

"Take it off. Take your damn ad off that vampire dating site."

Jerking his arm out of the vampire's grip, Xander scowled as he rubbed over the quickly coloring bruise. "I already did. What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Relief drove Spike to his knees and he wrapped his arms around the human's waist while he nestled his head on Xander's lap. Xander was shocked. He stared at the blond hair and felt the solid grip of the cool arms that encircled him. After a moment's hesitation, he did the only thing he could do. He carded his fingers through the short soft hair and melted at the sound of purring that emanated from deep in the vampire's chest.

It was suddenly all irrelevant. The dueling ads and the men, both human and not, who answered them. It was secondary. Primary were the words that Spike had whispered to Xander's heart. They were words that now felt so real and true. Spike had promised a reasonable explanation and Xander was ready to listen.

"Talk to me, Spike. Tell me what's going on. Why are you writing to that man? Who is he?"

Spike snuggled in closer as he soaked up the heat from the human's body. When he answered, his voice was muffled into Xander's crotch. "I can't tell you. It would be dangerous for you to know."

"Okay, that's it. Out." Xander jumped to his feet, causing his companion to tumble in an undignified heap on the floor. Just when Xander thought they had gotten on track, Spike spouts bullshit and Xander was through.

Now it was Spike's turn to be mad and he leapt to his feet. His hands balled up at his sides and squared off. "Fine. You want the truth? You got it."

And for the next thirty minutes, Xander sat in stunned silence as Spike laid it all out. The proposed civil rights movement and the hint that there was a group of like-minded vampires that Spike was hoping to join. It was a plan with consequences so horrifying that Xander now regretted that it was nothing more serious than a wayward lover who was sneaking to cheat.





Part Twenty-Nine

"Are you fucking insane? Has being dead somehow compromised your ability to rationalize?"

Xander sat at the computer and looked at the stranger with the cryptic message that Spike interpreted to be a comrade in the fight for vampire rights. To Xander, it appeared to be nothing more than another horny man who was suggesting an orgy of fangy fornication. How Spike was reading it as 'come and join us in our fight for freedom' was beyond understanding.

"You just aren't seeing this with the same perspective as I am, Xander. You aren't coming from a vampire background of persecution and segregation. You have never walked in my shoes. You don't know what it's like to...."

Xander turned around in the swivel chair and faced the vampire who was now immersed in his speech of woeful suffering and martyristic dramatics. Xander was torn between giving a standing ovation for the acting and applying a ball bat to the back of the beautiful blond head to attempt to knock some sense into him.

"Save it, Spike. The Academy Awards are still months away. Look, I know things have probably been difficult for you since you were butchered, killed, drained and turned into a ruthless demon. We all have our little crosses to bear. Shoot, look at me. I've got a bunion on my left foot that has been driving me crazy for the past two years but you don't see me asking the fucking doctors to cut off my leg over it do you? There are just some things that we have to learn to live with Spike. My foot. Your lack of a soul."

"Moron." Spike's eyes squinted as he crossed his arms and adopted a rigid stance while giving his human a glare that spelled out the vast difference between a toe lump and a demon residing where your God-given spirit used to be. Xander had the good grace to be shamed. But that really wasn't what he was feeling at all. The emotion he was really feeling was fear. Fear for his foolish vampire and fear for himself at the prospect of losing the most wonderful thing he had ever known in his short human life.

"Look, Spike, there are just too many pitfalls in this whole thinking of yours. This could be an innocent message from a horny vamp. It could be a trap set by a human. Even if it was all on the up and up, things could go south fast and you could be dust before the sun sets. Frankly, Spike, I'm not ready to give up on you and us just yet."

Spike crouched down so that the two men were on the same level and he could look directly into Xander's eyes as he tried to make his human understand. "Don't you think I've thought of all that? That and a hundred other possible scenarios. I have weighed all the sides and tried to determine the risk. Please understand, Xander. When I first wanted the computer, it was to find
a companion and I found better than that. I found you. But I also realized that this opened up all sorts of other wants and needs that I have inside me. I have the need to be free. To be a real man again. For me. For you. If there's any chance that I can be me again, I have to take it."

Xander placed his warm, large palm against Spike's cheek and the vampire snuggled into it. As he did, Xander tried to imagine what it must be like to be constantly dismissed as less than worthy. His heart ached for Spike but the sympathy did little to assuage his fears.

"Spike, it's hopeless. You are two people against the world. What could you possibly do to change...."

*ding*

Before Xander could finish the thought, the little bell on Spike's computer caught their attention and was immediately followed by a small cartoon peter that bounced into view. The dancing dick then grinned and blinked its singular eye before it skittered, using its hairy balls as little feet, across the screen while shouting, "You have a response. You have a response."

Xander's head snapped around in horror. "Don't read it, Spike. Please. Just delete it." But Spike was already muscling Xander out of the chair as the vampire slid in. He then clicked on the 'open' tab and the message popped up.

"Hi. You are in luck. My friends and I are getting together this evening for a book club meeting. Tonight's selection is called 'Death at an Early Age.' If you are interested, we are meeting at sundown in the basement apartment beneath the Bone Bleeders Cafe on First and Market. We hope to see you there. The more the merrier. A. Lincoln."

"YES! YES!"

Xander stared at Spike and failed to understand why the vampire was leaping about and punching his fist in the air in unrestrained exuberance. "A book club, Spike? This doofus invites you to a meeting of vampires discussing a book about being turned and you act like Brad Pitt just offered to let you sniff his dirty underwear."

Spike spun and twirled as he did a short ass wiggle. He then dropped back down in an effort to make his boy understand the importance of what Lincoln had just said. "No, Xander, you're wrong. It's code. The book is about the suffering of blacks during the Fifties and Sixties. It tells about the struggle to gain equality through government representation. Lincoln's group of vampires is just what I had hoped for."

Xander leapt to his feet in horror. His heart pounded and his head buzzed. "No. You can't go. It's too dangerous!" But Spike was already rushing around the apartment making moves that looked suspiciously like a man about to take his leave. In desperation, Xander did the only thing he knew to do. He dropped his pants.

"I'm horny, Spike! I need sex! Now!"

Spike paused in his task of easing towards the doorway inconspicuously and he turned to face the human that was standing in the center of the living room. The boy's pants pooled at his ankles and the tee shirt hem rested at the top of his nest of black, crinkly, curly pubic hair. Spike glanced down at the limp, uninterested dick.

"You're soft."

Immediately, Xander grabbed himself and he roughly started jerking and stroking in an effort to back up his declaration. However, Buddy was uncooperative. "Damn. Okay, wait a minute, it's coming up. I can feel it now. It's starting to fatten."

Spike chuckled and walked over to his boy. He grabbed Xander's wrist and stopped the rapid motion in mid-stroke. It was early in the afternoon. He didn't meet Lincoln for hours and if things went badly, he didn't want his last time with Xander to be remembered by an argument.

"Shh. Let me. Maybe my fingers will...oh, yes. There he goes."

Xander sighed happily. He didn't have to look down to know that Buddy was already responding to the cool touch of the man that now meant everything to him. Happily, Xander raised his arms and with a chuckle, Spike read the signal and tugged the tee shirt over the boy's head, causing his floppy hair to fluff and fly as the static electricity in the air snapped and sparked.

Spike also quickly peeled off his clothing while Xander kicked the pants from his feet. They then took the two small steps that separated them and they pressed their naked bodies tightly together. As the rush of heat and passion filled and flushed them, Spike dove in for a kiss of fire and lust. Immediately, Xander groaned and opened his mouth for the cool tongue to taste and possess him.

Buddy needed no more coaxing. Both men were hard as a rock as the moment was lips and hips and fingertips. They moaned and ground their bodies together as the need to get off surged and crawled beneath their skin. Their balls ached and their cocks dripped between them. Suddenly, Spike broke the kiss. He grabbed his boy by the arm and spun him around, shoving him in the
direction of the back of the couch. With a whimper of submission, Xander draped himself over the sofa. He spread his legs and he humped, rubbing his erection over the fabric as he waited.



~*~*~*~*~



Willow hurried into the elevator and impatiently tapped her foot to the tune that played in the background. She had begun to feel uncomfortable about sending Paul to Xander's apartment without checking with her friend first. In fact, if she thought too much about it, the whole situation smacked of pimping and she shuddered at the thought. Most importantly, she didn't want Xander to misinterpret her helpfulness and caring for intrusive interference.

Therefore, it was critical that she get there first. She would explain. They would talk it over and Xander would understand. By the time Paul arrived, she and Xander would be laughing at the silliness of it all and she would then back out gracefully leaving her friend and his new friend some privacy to do whatever it is that gay men do.

"Come on. Come on." She patted the elevator wall impatiently as it seemed to take forever to reach his floor. Finally, the doors slid slowly open and she jumped out and hurried up the hall. When she reached his apartment, she considered knocking but he would think it odd and suspicious since she knew he kept a spare key under the mat.

Wasting no time, she shoved the key in the lock and turned the knob as she swept the door wide open and stepped inside. "Xan, honey, you home...EEEKKKK!!!"

The sight in front of her was burned into her brain for the rest of her life, but just when she thought things couldn't be worse than catching her best bud in flagrante delicto, they proved they could.

As the strange woman burst in, Spike reacted instantly to the perceived threat. He pulled his wet, shiny cock from Xander's hole and he shoved the human behind him while his features shifted and his fangs dropped. He crouched and the growl that emanated from his chest and throat sent a ripple of sickening terror throughout her body.

"Wait. Stop. Willow, it isn't what you think." Xander grabbed Spike around the waist and tried to pull the vampire back to intercede himself between his lover and his meddling friend.

Willow had stumbled backwards until she was stopped by the wall. She then stabbed a finger accusingly toward the two. "You're having sex! He's a vampire and you're letting him.... Oh, God, please tell me he forced you. It's too disgusting to think that you would let him.... Oh, God, I think I may be sick." Willow slapped her palm over her mouth as she dry gagged behind it.

By now, Xander was less startled and embarrassed than he was pissed off. Willow had not only intruded on his privacy uninvited but was now imposing her unwanted beliefs and opinions on both him and his vampire.

"Then if you are so sick at the sight of me, why don't you just get out and leave us alone!"

The harsh tone of his voice stunned her and she took her hand from her face. She blinked and took a moment. Both men were stark naked and sporting crude, obscene erections. Their hands constantly drifted over and brushed against the other man's legs, hips, hands or any flesh that was available in a move that seemed to seek more comfort than sexual satisfaction. That was a revelation that was even more disturbing than if it were simply an anonymous fuck.

Yet, she still couldn't allow herself to believe what was happening. She had known Xander all her life. He was the brother she never had. She couldn't allow him to throw his life away. She hesitantly took a step forward as she kept her eyes on Xander's and refused to acknowledge the vile creature next to him.

"Honey, look, I know that we all do things when we get horny. Sometimes they're foolish, reckless or even abhorrent things but you have to think about this. What you're doing is illegal. Is this... thing worth going to prison for?"

Xander had had enough. He marched past her and she flinched at the bouncing erection that slapped his belly with each step. When he reached his front door, he gripped the doorknob and turned to her. "Get out and don't ever call me again until you can treat me and my lover with some respect. His name is Spike. He is not a thing. He is not a mosquito. He is the man I am with, and if you need to turn me in to the authorities then...."

"Turn you in? I would NEVER...."

Whatever else she was about to say was cut short when an unexpected rapping came on his door.

"Xander? Hey, you in there?"

"Oh shit!"

The smell of the strange human in the hallway caused another growl from the vampire and Xander pointed his finger at his lover with the order, "Down, boy!" followed by a glare at the wide open green eyes that shone with guilt.

"What the fuck have you done, Willow?">be





Part Thirty

"That must be the pizza. I'll get it." Willow snugged the large bath towel around her naked body as she shouted and hurried across the living room to the apartment door in response to the insistent knocking. When she jerked it open, the shock and realization of her mistake were obvious on her face.

"Paul! Oh, shit, I forgot all about you coming."

Just then, on his well-timed cue, Xander came rushing from the bedroom. Equally clad in nothing but the briefest piece of terrycloth, he appeared stunned by the familiar face of the spaghetti boy who was flustered and befuddled on the threshold.

"Xander? What's going on here? Are you two...? Holy fuck! Are you...?"

Xander hung his head in shame. Although the whole scene should have been the answer to Paul's questions, the repeated chant of 'Are you? Are you?' led Xander to the conclusion that apparently Paul was a bit slow on the uptake. Finally, Xander threw his hands up. He had been caught. "Alright. Yes. I admit it. I am a closet straight."

Paul gasped in horror at the disgusting revelation and he tossed down the bouquet of daises that he had brought. The small box of chocolates went back in his pocket and he took a step back and glared back and forth between Xander and the redhead who had set him up for this debacle.

"You two are disgusting. I don't know what kind of sick sex games you're playing but if you thought I would be the third in this perverted little hetero wheel, you are very much mistaken. And as for you, mister, don't ever step foot in the Spaghetta Villa again or you just may find your sauce topped with a fresh lugie!"

Xander wrinkled his nose up and watched as Paul stormed off. He then closed the door and the room went quiet. Willow scowled and tightened the towel around her slim body. "Well, I think you owe me a debt of gratitude for covering for you."

Unconcerned with his nudity, Xander jerked the towel off himself and slammed it to the floor. "Gratitude? If you hadn't stuck your nose in where it didn't belong, Paul wouldn't have come over here in the first place. If you hadn't marched in here like you owned the place, you wouldn't have interrupted me and Spike in the second place. Gratitude? You must be insane. You know what your problem is? Because your parents are rich, you think you own the world and everyone in it. You're a snob, Willow. A spoiled, uppity, arrogant snob."

Willow's mouth dropped open and for a moment, she was too stunned to respond. She and Xander had argued a million times over the years but he had never spoken to her like this.

"Do you really think that?"

With the words out, Xander's fury was spent. His head dropped to avoid looking at her and his arms folded protectively around himself. "Yeah, I guess I do. We've always been friends, Wil, but you go too far. You do things that you don't have any right to do."

Willow nodded her head as she eased over to the sofa where her clothes had been tossed in haste just a few minutes earlier, and she dressed in silence as Xander stood quietly by. Both of them fought the urge to apologize as they believed they were too right to admit to any wrong. When she slipped into her shoes, there was no more reason to stay. She paused for just a second to see if Xander would recant, but his rigid stance told her he wouldn't. With nothing more to say, she walked out the door.

"I'm sorry, love. I've caused a terrible rift between you and your friend."

Xander looked up in response to the comment and was even more dismayed to see that the vampire coming out of his bedroom was fully dressed and apparently also about to leave.

"No, all of that is something I should have said long before this, I just should have done it before it came out in anger. So, it looks like you're going too."

"You know I have an appointment, yeah?"

"The book club?"

Spike ran his hand over his head to assure himself that his hair was slicked back tightly and no stray strands were sticking up. He knew if he gazed too long at his naked, beautiful boy, he would also chuck his clothing and stay for the rest of the day. But he couldn't do that. Not even a world-class fuck could justify this missed opportunity. "The book club. Yes."

Suddenly, a new idea came to Xander and he lurched excitedly towards his lover. "I'll go too. Take me with you. We can show them that there's a human who believes in your rights too! We can...."

Spike grabbed Xander by the shoulders and he shook the boy, hoping to rattle some sense into him. "NO! Xander, no. We don't know anything about these vampires. They're fighting against the human population and they could be dangerous. You can't be anywhere near them. In fact, I'm going back to my place first to shower and wash all traces of you off my body and clothes. I can't risk them finding out about you. It could put both of us in jeopardy."

Xander threw his arms around his vampire and hugged him tightly. Spike's logic was irrefutable despite the fear it stirred in Xander. It terrified him to think of Spike stepping into a den of vicious vampires bent on changing the world. Before he could voice his fears further, Spike reached around and smacked him soundly on the bare ass, causing Xander to jump and rub the red handprint on his butt cheek. "Ow. You bully."

Spike chuckled an in attempt to lighten the mood and soothe Xander's fears. He gave the boy a chaste peck on the lips, a sweet smile and quickly walked out of the door. For a long time Xander stood, naked and alone, in the center of his living room. A small part of him expected Spike to return, but he knew that small part was only hope in a hopeless situation. Spike was not coming back. Maybe ever.

"Bullshit!"

Xander hadn't gotten where he was by taking a passive role in life. He was not some whimpering fishwife waiting on her man to come home from the sea. He was Xander Harris! Successful businessman! A man who took charge of his own life and was not to be beaten by anyone!

With a renewed vigor and determination, Xander spun on his heel and he darted towards the bathroom. Like Spike, Xander's first task was to scrub all traces of the vampire off his skin. After that he would dress, and when the sun went down, he would take a little trip down to the corner of First and Market. Once he got there, he wasn't exactly sure what his next move would be but he just needed to take a peek and make certain that Spike wasn't walking into a trap.

Hurridly, Xander's bare feet slapped across the hardwood floors. As he passed his computer, he stopped and jotted the address down on a scrap of paper so it wouldn't be forgotten. He then ran to the bedroom to get ready.



~*~*~*~*~



Willow subtly blew her nose on a paper napkin, sniffled and then took another sip of her cooling coffee.

"Well, you look like a gal that's not having a good day. May I?"

Willow looked up from where she sat in the booth at the coffee shop. The young man who was asking permission to sit across from her was tall, handsome and had a smile that looked like he had squeezed at least fifty two teeth into his mouth. With one more dab to her nose, she conjured up a weak smile and nodded her agreement. He quickly slid in. When the waitress stopped by, he ordered his own coffee and a refill for Willow.

"So why is a beautiful girl like you so sad on a wonderful day like this? Did your 401k tank? Did your puppy run off? Or maybe you just lost your best friend? Come on, green eyes, why not tell me all about it. I guarantee you will feel all better if you do."

Willow lifted her head and took a really good look at the stranger who was so concerned. He had an air of companionability about him that gave her a feeling of comfort and inspired well-being. Maybe he was right. Maybe a stranger to confide in was exactly what she needed to lift the heavy burden off her shoulders.

"What did you say your name was?"

The stranger's face lit up and he extended his hand to her. "My name is Riley. Riley Finn and I have nowhere to go and the whole afternoon free, so why don't you tell me what has a delicate flower like you so upset and maybe I can coax a smile from those lovely lips."

Willow giggled as her fingertips brushed over her mouth before she again frowned at the memory of all the cruel and untrue things Xander had said to her. "Oh, it's a long story. You don't really want to hear it."

Riley reached across the table and he laid a large, warm hand over her small one. "I really do. Come on, Willow, tell me what happened."

"Well, um...did I tell you my name?"

Riley looked perplexed and scratched his head as though he too were surprised by his error. "Gee, you must have. How else would I have known it?"

Willow shrugged. Her brain was so tear-logged that she could hardly think let alone remember, but he was right, how else would he have known? Just then, the waitress returned and poured them both a hot cup. Willow blew on her coffee and took a sip. When she set the cup back down, she began to talk.

"Well, I have this friend. Xander. We have been best buddies forever but I guess you never really know someone even if you think you do. Anyway, I went over to his place this afternoon and...."

Riley studied her face intently and he hung on every word.



~*~*~*~*~



Six o'clock was the evening news on television. A liquor store robbery. A random shooting on the city bus. A yellow cat rescued at great taxpayer expense from a pear tree. Same old same old. It entered Xander's ears but never made it to his brain as his attention repeatedly drew his eyes to the window to check for the sun's agonizingly slow descent in the sky.

Seven o'clock was a peanut butter and tomato sandwich to put something in his nervous, empty stomach. As he ate it, he paced repeatedly between the kitchen and the small computer stand where he had scribbled down the book club's address. Each time he checked, he was reassured to see that it hadn't changed.

Eight o'clock had him standing in the center of a dim, nearly dark room. He hadn't turned on any lamps and the lack of seeable light confirmed that daylight had finally faded. It was sundown. Somewhere across town, Spike would be preparing to leave his flat. In another place the vampire conspiracy was setting up chairs and snacks. Xander barked out a hysterical giggle at the idea of them serving ladyfingers. Literally.

"Stop it! Stop it! Get a fucking grip on yourself!" The sound of his own stern voice chastising himself brought a semblance of rationality to his irrational mind and gave him a renewed determination. He made one last trip to the window to confirm the rising of the moon and then, despite the fact that the words were indelibly carved in brain-stone, he looked once more at the piece of paper.

"First and Market. First and Market. First and...what? Oh yeah. Market."

Xander allowed one small whimper to sneak out before he sucked it up and headed out the door.