There was a thin line between slavery and good trade, but Spike figured it was all a method to get what he wanted.
The corner of the room stank. Spike could smell the rancid food and urine-covered bodies from his position by the door. Reaching over, he gently grasped Drusilla's arm and pulled her in the other direction. She came, easily, her eyes too wide and busy taking in all of the creatures around them to notice that Spike was directing her movements.
Cages were lined against one another, grouped into categories according to who was selling and what species they were. Spike headed for the human section, not wanting to have to deal with another demon tending to Drusilla. Spike could admit to himself that the ability to become jealous would be too much. No, it was better to pick a lowly human that would never truly catch Drusilla's fancy, but who was able to assist him in taking case of Drusilla as they made their way to Sunnydale.
Most of the cages held two or more humans. Drusilla leaned against one, reaching between the bars to stroke one young girl's leg. As Spike waited for Drusilla's interesting to wane, his eyes were drawn to a cage down at the end that only held one human. Unlike all of the other humans, who stood in their cages at attention in order to show what good breeding they had, this human was sitting, arms draped over his knees and head tilted back.
"Look at the kitty, my Spike," Drusilla whispered, having been drawn to the single human like Spike. He followed her as she slowly made her way over, one hand reaching out to rest on the curve of her back. Finally they reached their destination. Drusilla stepped forward, pressing her face against the bars and staring at the figure.
"Interested in a purchase?" the demon standing next to the cage asked. He wore the regular uniform of a demon slave trader, along with a name stitched into his top: K'arl'c.
"Something like that, yeah," Spike replied, eyes scanning the male human from head to toe. He had pale skin, which contrasted nicely with his dark brown hair. His naked body revealed a lean, muscular build and smooth skin that begged to be touched. On his neck was the slave tattoo, a curved spiral, which was currently black and would turn bright red upon purchase.
"Hello, dark kitten," Drusilla whispered. She meowed softly and tilted her head. The human's eyes opened, those of dark chocolate, and turned to look at her. "There we are."
"Shouldn't he have his head bowed like all the others?" Spike asked, conversationally.
"This is of my intellect line," K'arl'c informed him. "Unlike the other slaves, he had not been broken, but trained properly. He may appear disrespectful, but because he is not dependant on your every command he will be able to further serve you by thinking and evaluating what you need before you even think to ask. He is also trained in combat, so he will be able to defend you and your lady without being commanded to do so."
"It must have took some time to train him like that..." Spike said, not bothering to hide the fact that he was fishing for information.
K'arl'c grinned, revealing mouth full of tiny and pointed teeth. "I received him when he was all but six in human years. His father sold him, needing to pay bills. I kept him in training until he was ten, before he was sold to his first owner."
"He's pre-owned?" Spike asked, not liking the idea of something he was about to buy being used.
"By only the best," K'arl'c insisted. "I have a rather elite screening process. Only certain people are on my accepting list for the slave Xander."
Spike stepped closer to the cage. "Does he speak?"
K'arl'c turned toward Xander and gave a short nod. The boy turned to look at Spike for a moment, before his lips twitched slightly. "I can speak, though I don't know what you want me to say."
Drusilla hummed softly. "I want him, Spike. Make him ours?"
"Yeah, okay," Spike agreed. He glanced at K'arl'c and grinned. "Name's Spike, or William the Bloody if your prefer. Tell me, is the Scourge of Europe on that accepting list of yours?"
There was a thin line between servant and friend, as Spike was beginning to learn.
The soft music drifted through the warehouse, hitting Spike's ears and awakening him. He blinked, rolling over in bed to find Drusilla gone. Letting out a sigh, Spike stood and walked into the other room, following the sound of music and laughter.
What he found was something that actually brought a smile to his face. Drusilla and their slave, Xander, were dancing around the room. Xander kept fumbling, his teenage body not entirely perfected for the art of ballroom dancing. However every time he stumbled, Drusilla would giggle and pull him closer. After a few minutes of watching, Spike had to admit that Xander was probably faking most of his near falls just to get Drusilla to laugh.
Still, the fact that Xander was smiling in return was different. The boy had started out a joyful member of their family. He waited on their every need and, if Spike weren’t present, he would help Drusilla through some of the worse of her episodes. All in all, add in the fact that Drusilla and Spike kept him in bed with them, he was turning out to be worth the hefty price. However, the moment the boy discovered they were heading toward Sunnydale, he had clammed up.
This was the first time Spike had seen him smile since arriving in the small town. Spike wasn't stupid; he knew this must have been Xander's hometown. Which is why Spike had kept him in the warehouse, not allowing him to venture out with them in some strange fear that someone would recognize him and take him away.
"Spike," Drusilla exclaimed, twirling in her dance and catching sight of him. "Come and dance with our kitten. He is in a good mood today."
Spike wondered if Xander realized that Drusilla spent more time caring for him than he did caring for her. Spike had originally bought him to be a companion for his dark princess, so the madness that she was slipping farther into could be pushed to the side and she could concentrate on something else until they found their pouf of a sire and healed her.
"Yeah, come on, Spike," Xander practically purred in his direction.
"You're an insolent brat, love," Spike offered him as he stepped forward and took Drusilla's place. Instead of standing in the formal waltz positions, Spike pulled Xander flush against him and rolled his hips, enjoying the way Xander's eyes fluttered.
"You bought me," Xander retorted. "Are you leaving again tonight?"
"Yeah, got me a date with a Slayer," Spike said.
"I would say I want to come, but I really, really don't," Xander admitted.
"S'okay," Spike murmured, kissing Xander lightly. He wondered how, exactly, this supposed slave had turned out to not be a slave, but be family. Spike inwardly shrugged. He never did anything the way normal vampires did, anyway.
There wasn't a thin line between abuse and love, but there was nothing Xander could really do about that.
Angelus was a grade-A bastard. Xander figured that out the moment he came into the warehouse, soul suddenly gone, and tried to take over. Xander never was too good at the whole slave thing, though, so he didn't really pay attention to Angelus' orders. Then another, Spike and Drusilla had effectively spoiled him. He'd had some horrible owners before, some which thought the word no was an invitation to sex, but after over a year with Spike and Drusilla he had become soft to the slave life.
According to the slave laws set by the Demon Slave Convention, a sire had the right to take over the slaves of those he spawned. Therefore, when Angelus had first entered their lives and had squeezed Xander's ass, commenting on how lovely he was, Angelus had technically took over ownership.
"You got to stop this, pet," Spike's soft voice told him. Xander slowly turned his aching head to see Spike sitting next to the bed in that wheelchair, looking for all the world as though he were about to cry. Over Xander, of all people.
"Hey, I'm okay," Xander insisted. "I've had worse."
"He satisfied with beatings at the moment, but not for long," Spike said. "I don't want to see that happen to you."
Xander sighed and didn't reply. Spike's eyes lifted slightly and from his expression Xander could tell he was looking at the lacerations that lined Xander's back. Xander reached out and rested his hand on Spike's. "Don't. Just, don't look."
"I have to go," Spike whispered. "This will be over soon, trust me."
"I'll always trust you, Spike," Xander replied.
Spike's expression turned sad, before he gripped the wheels of his chair and turned, leaving the room silently. Xander watched him go and wondered, not for the first time, why he was such an idiot. There was a cardinal and unspoken rule among both slaves and their owners alike: don't fall in love. What did Xander, former Alexander Harris of Sunnydale, do? Just that.
It didn't hurt that Spike was simply easy to love.
Xander turned his head to the other side, shifting his body only to stop and hiss with pain. He forced himself to relax, allowing his mind to wander to a time that was pre-Angelus. When Drusilla would pull him out of bed at the worst time in order to teach him how to waltz. When he could sit for hours watching Drusilla play with her dolls or fiddle with her tarot deck. When he slept between two vampires that made a point to wear him out every single night. When he could get Spike to smile without even thinking about it and, most of all, when he could get Spike to make that keening sound when he licked his hip just so.
Then Sunnydale came and not so long after that, Angelus, who stole Drusilla away from both Spike and Xander and treated Spike no worse that he treated Xander, only he abused the other vampire with words instead of blows.
Silence descended. In the distance he could hear Drusilla crooning over something, but he couldn't make out the words. He wanted to go to her, to see if he could translate what Spike couldn't, but he knew that if he moved he would rip open his back again. A door slammed open somewhere in the mansion. Footsteps moved around the living room, before coming closer to the room Xander was stuck in.
"Why don't you give the bugger a rest, eh?" Spike asked, somewhere near Xander's doorway.
"Oh, nonsense, Xavier, why would I want to do that?" Angelus' voice was happy, almost perky, and filled with a fake sense of friendship.
"How about the fact that you're trying to break a perfectly good slave? I paid a lot of money for him--" Spike started. Xander winced. He couldn't help it, but the words stung. He'd always be a slave, no matter how well Spike treated him.
"Why don't you go see my latest present in the other room? Here, I'll even give you a head start," Angelus cheerfully offered. There was the sound of a boot hitting metal; following by Spike cursing further down the hallway. Angelus laughed, before opening the bedroom door and entering, shutting it behind him.
Angelus walked closer to him and Xander did everything he could not to move. A hand touched one of the wounds in his back, propping it almost gently. Xander sucked in a sharp breath.
"The world is going to end soon," Angelus told him over the sound of clothing shifting. Xander didn't turn. He didn't want to see Angelus undressing. "I thought that might put you in a better mood. After all, once we're all sucked into hell you'll be thankful I prepared you for what will no doubt happen to you."
"Fuck off," Xander muttered.
The bed dipped and suddenly Angelus was straddling his thighs. The vampire laughed, once more. "I'd rather fuck you, actually."
There was a thin line between slavery and freedom, which Xander had learned when he was younger.
Xander looked across the room, peering through bars at the man slouched against the wall. He was an older man, with glasses and a receding hairline, but he radiated a strange sense of knowledge that made Xander feel more comfortable around him. Xander reached out and gripped the bars of his cage, wishing for not the last time that he had tried to cut off Angelus' dick the other night. His punishment had been the longest rape in recorded history, following by what Angelus called a time out.
Stuck in a cage like a bad little boy, who had disappointed his owner. It reminded him of his first owner. The demon had locked him in a tiny cage no bigger than the average cardboard box at night; afraid Xander would try to run off. That had been a long year, before he had been sold back to K'arl'c.
"Hey," Xander called out softly. He didn't want to attract Angelus' attention, but he didn't think it was possible. Angelus was too busy playing with his new toy, now that this Giles person had told him how to activate Acathla. "Hey!"
Giles grunted, eyes blinking open. He took a moment to adjust to be awake before focusing on Xander. "W-what happened?"
"Let's just say you've been a naughty boy and let it go," Xander offered. "Do you think you can get over here and help me out? I so don't want to be here when hell opens up."
Giles attempted to stand, but collapsed almost immediately, head moving in a way that indicated he was dizzy.
"Okay, so apparently not," Xander sighed.
"Bloody hell, pet, stop yammering," Spike insisted as he entered the room.
"Spike!" Xander exclaimed, grinning happily. "You're walking! ...You're walking. I thought...oh, never mind. What's going on?"
"The Slayer's here, that's what's going on," Spike replied. He dug around in his leather duster and pulled out a single key, which he tossed into the cage. "You're free, love. I'm abolishing our contract and I'm making it official, you're no longer a slave. So grab the Watcher and get the fuck out of here, got it? I don't want you in the crossfire."
Xander slowly picked up the key and fingered it, as though he didn't know what it was. "Free?"
"Yeah, mate, got you're freedom," Spike repeated. "Now, I've got to go--"
"Wait!" Xander reached out and grabbed the cage's bars, sending Spike a begging look. "Can't I come with you?"
"I'm not going to risk it, Xander," Spike said softly. "You're on your own now. I don't own you anymore."
"No, Spike, don't leave!" Xander yelled as Spike made for the door. He didn't realize he was crying until his voice caught in his throat. "Don't leave me. I don't know how to be a normal human. Please. I love you."
Spike didn't look at him, instead choosing to look at the floor. "Sorry, pet, but I'm not taking you with me. You're just a human."
Xander watched Spike leave with a sinking feeling in his gut. He had a feeling, if he had eaten anything that day, he would have vomited right then. It took the sound of swords clashing in the other room to wake him up. Outside, distantly, he thought he heard a car peel out of the driveway. Taking in a deep breath to steady himself, Xander slowly unlocked his cage door and stepped out.
Giles was watching him warily, not sure how to react to a human that he just admitted his was in love with William the Bloody. Xander walked over to him, carefully helping the man to his feet. When it spoke, it was with a soft and defeated tone, "Come on, let's get out of here."
Xander didn't stop to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not really caring who she was or what she looked like. He ignored the flashes of light that emitted from the portal. All he knew was that she must have been successful, because by the time he got Giles to the hospital the world was still there.
There was a thin line between what is lost and what is found, but Xander wasn't sure he wanted to find anything new.
Some how, after months of trying to survive on his own, Xander found himself staying at Rupert Giles' apartment. He helped the man at the library, but he didn't bother to join in on the slaying activities of the others. He recognized Willow immediately, but she didn't notice him. It took him some time, trying to figure out the computer, to find out why.
According to the United States government, Alexander Harris was dead, having died in a car crash at the age of six. Xander no longer had a place in the real world. He couldn't get a job, or go to school, so he was stuck in the library with the Watcher, occasionally offering information on various demons he knew.
When Angel had showed up, standing in the doorway of the library, Xander had immediately collapsed, his feet giving out on him. He had scrambled back, pressing his spine against the front desk and trying to look small and insignificant. Angel had merely looked at him with a sad and guilty expression.
By the end of the year, when the Mayor had turned into a giant snake-dragon thing, Xander had gotten used to a few things. He was used to being around humans instead of demons, but he wasn't used to humanity's constant need to use touch as affection. He was used to standing in the same room as Angel, but he didn't think he'd even get up the nerve to actually talk to the man. He was also used to know that he was dispensable.
Buffy ignored him, viewing him as some kind of parasite that had latched onto her Watcher. Willow tried to be friendly, but she followed Buffy's every whim. Giles was friendly in the distant way some fathers managed, who had never met their child but was trying to make an effort. Xander liked Giles, he made Xander feel important.
Xander mostly liked Wesley, who was as much of an outcast as Xander was. Xander couldn't count the number of times Wesley had sat down with him, asking him question after question about the culture and nature of the Demon Slave Convention, which the Watcher's Council knew next to nothing about. Xander was happy to share, seeing how he was no longer an official slave and therefore not required to abide their rule of silence.
Still, the mark was there. Every morning that he woke up and looked in the mirror, he saw the black mark at the base of the right side of his neck, the spiral design standing out in contrast to his skin.
No matter how much he tried to integrate himself into this new family, he couldn't seem to be able to. Most likely this was because he didn't want to fully give up what had been lost to him: his old family. He worried about Drusilla constantly, but mostly he thought of Spike. Who wanted something new when there was still a chance, hidden away; that one could retain what they had lost?
There was a thin line between fear and obsession, but Spike would never admit he felt both.
He had avoided seeing the boy the first two times he had come back. Then, after escaping the Initiative, he had gone to the first place that came to mind: Xander. Which incidentally was also the Watcher's place.
"Spike?" Xander whispered, standing in the doorway to the kitchen and watching as Giles tied Spike to a chair.
"Hello, love," Spike greeted indifferently. "Just stopped by to see how the Watcher was treating you. Thought I might stay for a pint or two."
"Spike," Xander repeated, before slowly turning away and rushing up the stairs.
Spike winced and closed his eyes; ignoring the look Giles was sending him. After every single day of thinking and hoping and wondering, he couldn't bring himself to admit that maybe Xander no longer cared for him. And, yeah, okay, maybe he was a little afraid that Xander still cared for him.
"If you hurt him, I'll have no qualms about staking you," Giles informed him, before walking away.
Well, at least Spike knew Xander was in good hands. Perhaps he'd stick around a while, just to give himself an excuse to watch the boy. He looked older and stronger, but there was still that insecurity that had drawn Spike in the first time.
Yeah, he'd stick around a while.
There was a thin line between love and hate, but Spike had difficulty believing in that.
"I hate you!" Xander screamed. All Spike could do was stare at the naked figure standing at the foot of his bed. It was actually a beautiful vision: dark hair flying, muscles tensing, and that anger radiating from every pore.
"Yeah, love, I know," Spike whispered.
"You just keep fucking using me, don't you?" Xander demanded, staring at him. "I'm always going to be that pathetic slave you gave away. You've been screwing me for months because I'm just property to you, aren't I?"
"Tell the truth for once!" Xander ordered.
"I love you," Spike blurted out. Xander stared at him, brown eyes wide, before he shook his head. "I do! Don't bloody well believe me, I don't care, but I do love you."
"You love having a hole to thrust into," Xander hissed. "You love knowing that in some way you actually broke me, because I keep coming back for more."
"No, I didn't break you," Spike said, softly. "I could never break you. You're too strong."
"You fucking liar," Xander muttered, covering half his face with his hand. A shudder ran through his body, a sign he was fighting back tears.
"First time I saw you, I thought you were a silly brat who didn't know who his superiors were," Spike informed him as he tossed the covers away and began to crawl to the foot of the bed, naked. "Still thought that when you got Drusilla to fall in love with you, and then me. Pissed off Angelus big time when he waltzed in, expecting us to dote over him, but we were too busy doting over our human."
"Shut up," Xander whispered, looking down at where Spike knelt on the bed in front of him.
"No," Spike replied, smiling. "Love you. Want you. Need you. Why do you think I cam back to this fucking town? Drusilla knew I was coming back for you, too, that's why she went and got herself something to entertain herself with, so she would be able to let me go."
"I hate this," Xander finally admitted. "I hate feeling so dependant on you. It's like I still belong to you, no matter what I do to try and get away."
Spike didn't reply. He just stood up, pressing his body against Xander's. He kissed the side of Xander's neck, opposite to his slave mark. "Always wanted you just to myself. Just me and you, love."
"I suppose you've got me," Xander said, sounding as though he had just sold his soul to Satan.
Spike pulled back and looked at Xander carefully, before breaking into a leering grin. "Does this mean we get to have rough and sweaty make-up sex?"
"I guess so," Xander said, resigned.
Spike slid and hand down to cup Xander's ass, squeezing gently. He purred, hips thrusting forward in order to draw a pleased gasp from Xander's throat. "That's my boy."
"Not your boy," Xander protested as he allowed Spike to pull him onto the bed.
"My man, then," Spike corrected.