AUTHOR'S NOTES: So, the last thing I need is another WIP. So what do I do? (all together now) Start another WIP. I'm actually really, really nervous about this one, because it's a lot more sexy, I think, than anything I've done before. *is embarrassed as hell* It's all Spike's fault! He's all vampire-y and 'oh, I'm sex on a stick'. *sigh* This goes AU after season four, so the Spuffy hasn't popped up yet, but Adam is dead.
I thank you profusely for bothering to read this piece, and I hope I can bother you just a bit more to comment.
I do hope you enjoy,
Empty of Tomorrow 1/?
by Meredith Bronwen Mallory
(Be in me, as I am in you. And I am in you, my boy, my precious childe. My blood in your quiet veins, your still heart. Crack open your bones, and you'll find me inside-- no escape, pet. You bring me with you into every sanctuary, carry me with you where ever you run. You'll remember that, someday; that you are only ever mine. That's only so many places to go on this Godforsaken rock, pet. Trust me, I know.)
Despite the protests of his perpetuated body, Xander rose a full hour before sunset, moving from the bed as if from a nest of enemies. The brown-on-yellow curtains were pulled closed over the windows, leaving only little shafts of sunlight to run down the wall beneath, like escapees. Stretching, Xander moved a single toe into the illumination, hissing-- but refusing to retreat-- at the burn. He watched his flesh curdle calmly for a few moments, pulling away just before his cursed skin caught fire. Distractedly, he threw the foam pillows back up onto the bed, tugging at the dura-silk cover. He fiddled with the heat console for a moment, fingers hovering over the unfamiliar controls. He knocked the machine once, twice, watching it shake where it had been haphazardly installed against the cracked and faded wall. Finally satisfied, he shed his clothing lethargically, heading for the shower.
The mirror in the bathroom stared at him blankly, reflecting only brown tile and grossly aged facilities. Xander disliked modern hotels, with their chrome countertops and glass lift-tubes. They had abstract-looking lamps that threw odd shadows; paintings all just a jumble of dark colors that never seemed to vary room to room, city to city. He'd find himself staring, searching for imperfections in the plastic-white washed walls. No, too much like his apartment with Anya, or a hospital-- by turns sterile, disturbing and impersonal. Turning on the old-fashioned shower, Xander let the water run for a minute, watching it turn from brown to almost clear. In a dive like this-- an openly demonic establishment in the sub-levels of Tokyo-- he was surprised to find even that little bit of quality. He pulled the curtain to and stepped under the spray, absently humming a pop tune. He still couldn't speak a word of Japanese-- or much else besides English, for that matter-- so the words tasted funny in his mouth. Too many vowels. Still, he liked the song. It had a heavy rock beat, like the alternative bands from his youth; he could almost picture the smoke and lights, Oz on the guitar at the Bronze.
"I'm getting way too old," Xander muttered, even as he ran his fingers through his still rich brown locks. "Never meant to live-- unlive-- this long. But hey," this said with false brightness, "skateboards are back in style." It was an old complaint; one he voiced more to the cool, lingering marble fingers of his dreams than to himself. He scrubbed his body down harshly, as if to erase the ghosts of remembered touches, the substance of endearments and devoted words.
(Beloved. My precious childe.)
He'd learned early on that dream and memory had form-- they were real. Perhaps more real, at the moment, then the moldering shower cubical that surrounded Xander now.
(Cool hands, cool arms-- cradling, binding. Grip tender or punishing, but always possessive, through and through. Kisses on his forehead, his cheeks, in his hair, anywhere his sire could reach. And, in the aftermath, a purr rumbling against his ear, a soothing as a distant heartbeat in the womb. He was embraced, pulled close-- so close that he would never really get away.)
"Spike," Xander said softly, word slithering between his lips. Sibilant, unstoppable.
He shuddered. Words were power too, names. Battles could be won and lost on the intonation of syllables, evil could be so deep that the descriptor "First" could barely convey. "Tabula rasa", and your memories vanish, like so much smoke out the window. Xander kept the names of his friends, his own name, guarded close. The vampire, Alex, was a shell for the still-young boy rattling around inside. 'Xander', Jesse said, in his dreams, the sound melting away in time with his flesh. 'Xander!' Willow, calling him from far away, dreamy, like the long, abandoned highway she had once traveled alone.
'Xander.' Buffy or Anya, bemused. Giles, half impatient, half paternal. Tara, stumbling over the word, under the familiarity. Dawn, caroling, young and high-pitched, from a time when she had not existed.
'Xander.' Spike's voice, falling over the word, smooth like molten amber, like silk. Whispering, calling, cursing, conjoling; always in his veins, in his mind, where he paced like some large, exotic cat. Waiting to be loosed.
"You can't break that connection," said the witch he had consulted in Bombay. He'd sat amidst the chaotic designs of her rug, cradling a small bowl of tea in both hands. She threw bones, drew cards for him, explained. "Your sire was cut from his ties, turned away. They didn't want him, and he didn't want them, after a time. You, he will draw back, like the moon pulls on the waves. You are Childe-Consort," she brushed a lock of void-colored hair away from her face, and he watched the dim, oily lamplight catch along the folds of her red sari.
(Pressing his face into soft crimson fabric. There was no heartbeat to disturb its layers, but there was comfort all the same. Blood, autumn, nicotine-- Spike's smell, and Spike's arms drawing him close.
"Hush, Xan," They lay together, aching and sore, under the leather duster, sprawled and still smelling of the brawl, in the back seat of the DeSoto. The car was parked under a half-fallen overpass-- it was raining, cold rain, with distant thunder. The old heater rattled. Head on Spike's shoulder, Xander sighed, and Spike caught it-- the unnecessary breath-- with his kiss.)
The witch had looked at Xander patiently, dark eyes too deep. Too knowing. She was Willow's age, back when she first started learning magic, but there was nothing of Willow about her, to give him comfort.
"The bonds are powerful," she advised, "feel like silk, strong like steel. And really..." For a moment, she was silent, before she sipped her tea, voice a whisper. "Really, you don't want to be free."
Had he been any other vampire, Xander world have raged, denied-- broken the tea bowl, broken her neck, and howled the walls down. As it was, he sat perfectly still, trying to keep his hands from curling into fists. Because he was Xander, he just looked away.
He *was* still Xander.
And that was the worst part.
That was the first question he asked, when the haze of his false death had faded, and he was able to tolerate consciousness without the comfort of his Sire's body wrapped around close. His voice had been soft, still lingering in the back of his throat, perhaps still crowed-- as Xander himself had been-- by the memory of the visions his Turning had wrought. The images were burned into him, like copper peeling from charred flesh. The Place; the dark, howling, desolate plain to which his very essence had been drawn. Green shadows flickered amongst horrific monoliths, grotesque forms lumbered through the thick fog, ever hungry. Spike didn't have to tell him-- Xander knew that, if there was such a thing as a soul, he had lost his there. Dreams woke him when the sun was high in the sky-- daymares, he supposed-- left him trembling under Spike's kisses and strange coos.
"Why am I still here?" he asked, pulling away from his Sire to roll to the edge of the great, ruined canopy bed. Spike pushed the heavy quilts down into his lap and looked at Xander quizzically.
"We've only been here two nights, pet," the other vampire pointed out, almost purposely misunderstanding. The blonde smirked, gesturing to the high, faded walls around them. The wood paneling and curved fireplace were like the house on Crawford Street, but Xander knew it wasn't. The windows were wrong, too oval, even under their thick coverings, and the fledgling knew that they were as far away from Sunnydale as four nights travel could take them. "Think we'll stay here a bit," Spike continued, lazily retrieving his zippo and Lucky Strikes from the dusty nightstand. "Nice little town, this. No Master, here, no Court-- more importantly, no Slayer."
Xander said nothing. He remembered, or thought he remembered, yelling at Spike, saying that Buffy would come for him. Memories of his first days as a vampire were muddled, soft focus, filled with a longing for Spike that Xander had no wish to examine. Feeding, being held, intense coupling-- he wished he could say he'd been possessed. But there had only been the fragile, mending pieces of his consciousness, happily sinking into Spike's loving voice. Leaning into his careful hands, drowning in his intense, possessive gaze.
"Don't pout at me, pet," Spike rolled his shoulders, briefly pushing the pack of cigarettes towards Xander. The Childe wrinkled his nose and pushed them back.
"That's not what I meant," Xander stared fixedly at the tattered canopy. "I mean, why am I still me? I should be all 'grr' and vampire-y. Making with the mayhem and killing. The real Xander, *me*, I should be dead. The demon takes over the body. So why do I still feel the same?" Now Spike's eyebrow was a perfect, dark arch against his white skin. "Almost the same," Xander amended. "I definitely would not have had sex with you when I was alive!" The verbal jab was sharp, but Spike only smiled-- wide, triumphant, somehow beautiful.
"Watcher certainly filled your head with a lot o' crap, didn' he?" the older vampire rolled his eyes. "Who else would ya be? Me? I'm still William Brenden. Don' like to admit it-- an' I'll give you a good thrashing if you ever tell I said so, by the way-- but it's true." At Xander's expression, he laughed. It sounded at once youthful and far too old. Jaded. "What-- you think I was suddenly all leather and bad ass the moment I was turned?"
Xander paused. "Well, I didn't know you before you were turned, so..."
"No, love," Spike moved closer, quieting Xander's slight struggles with ease and carding his fingers through Xander's hair. "No, you didn't. But lemme tell you something. Darla's always been a bitch, even when she was a slave-girl to the Turks. Angelus has always been a whore-monger and a thief who hated to hear the word 'no'. Dru was crazy even a'fore she was turned. And I..." he traced Xander's cheek with a touch of victory, "have always been love's bitch. Though I must say, I'm doing better as of late."
Xander stared into Spike's eyes; the deepest ice of the arctic, with lava simmering underneath. Those eyes had been the first thing Xander saw upon waking to his unlife. "Giles said..."
"The Watcher was full o' shit. The whole damned council is!" There was some exasperation in the Sire's tone. "You think they want the Slayer known' her loved one is still there, even after they've been turned? Not staying we stay exactly the same, or that all of us hold onto what were were as humans. Some minions go bonkers-- they go to the Place," here Xander shivered, pressing closer to Spike in spite of himself, "an' there's no one to hold 'em and care for 'em when they come back. Some Childer can't take it, either. The Place blasts their mind away, s'too terrible, and they can't take it. Leave their body completely to the demon, they do. Others get high on the power-- no rules anymore, right? Some are too weak to face the hunger. But you..." the blonde vampire drew Xander closer, as if he could hide the boy away inside his own body. His forced breath was a chill of certainty against Xander's ear. A terrible promise. "I knew you'd be strong. You're my child, my sweet boy-- my Consort. Bound you to me in every way I could think of. Going to take care of you, I am, and--"
"Stop!" Xander whispered, almost brokenly. "Stop talking like that. You hate me, I hate you. That's the way it's always been!" He pulled, trying to get away, and Spike let him go, looking annoyed. Stumbling, he crossed the room to stand by the smoldering fire.
Spike growled a little before answering. "Never hated you, Xan," the older vampire was earnest, angry at being so, but also amused-- as if he thought Xander should have known all along. "Was just pissed as hell you weren't mine." He chuckled. "Don' look so affronted! Peaches gave you to me, and wanted you, I did. I even went back to good ol' Sunny 'D' for you. Figured I'd kill the Slayer, snatch you out of your nice warm bed." Spike leered for a moment, before his expression darkened, "Then those Initiative bastards get ahold of me, an' everything goes to pot."
"I'm not hearing this," Xander raked his hands through his hair. "You said you'd kill me!"
"Said I'd make it quick," Spike pointed out calmly. His eyes trailed along Xander's left side, where the demon's venomous stringer had taken hold. Xander turned away for a moment, trying for a moment to reach for the memory of that night. The stillness of the cemetery, himself and Spike walking back from a Scooby meeting. They'd been arguing-- the memory seemed distant, oceans away-- snapping at each other, nothing unusual. He remembered Spike tilting his head, taking a deep breath of air. A demon, the blonde had said, nesting over in the old, hollowed out Morrow Mausoleum. They'd retreated back the way they came, intent on getting weapons-- maybe even the Slayer-- to clean the place out. A piercing howl, Xander had turned and...
"I thought you were going to drain me-- make it fast." The memory of fire, the painful sting eating into his flesh, stood out in stark relief. "I've never felt anything like that. Nothing ever hurt that way." It had been more than hurt, something so consuming that Xander had been sure that it had comprised his whole existence, a time without pain just a wishful dream.
"Grislock demon," Spike muttered knowingly. "It's poison was gonna set you to fever, then eat you up like acid from the inside. No cure-- and it moves quick. S'why I said you had to let me bite you." The Sire's smile was wistful, almost tender. "You turned you neck for me, so prettily. Never had a boon like that before; want you, I get you. You expect me to let that go? Even through the pain, you tasted..." The reverence in Spike's voice made Xander cough, turn to stir the banking fire. "Never made a Childe before, Xander. Never wanted to-- it's not something I take lightly. You'd do well to remember that. Now," he stretched complacently, "if we're done with this little question and answer session, you can come back to bed."
"No," Xander said firmly, not turning around. The fire crackled, flames healthy and bright. He held his hands close, relishing the warmth.
"Come to bed, Childe," Spike's tone hardened, glittering, dangerous.
"I'm sleeping here." Xander made a great show of curling up by the fire, pulling one of the thin sheets off the furniture to cover his naked body. He squeezed his eyes closed at the resulting growl, glad he was facing away from his Sire.
"Suit yourself," the older vampire said cooly. "You'll be sorry."
And Xander was. Curled on the unforgiving wooden floor, he shank deeply into dreams filled with chaotic stairways, blank skies without stars. The wind of the Place hissed in his ears, spoke in Jesse's voice. 'Still me,' his old friend said, 'I was still me, Xan, when you turned me into dust!' He trembled, dwarfed by huge stone towers, filled to overflowing with fear of the things that lurked amidst the dark columns. At last, he woke, feeling as if he couldn't drag air into his lungs even if he really needed to. He moved without thinking, tripping over the sheet, groping for the bed in the dim gray of shielded afternoon.
"Sire," he whispered, flinching as his voice cracked. "Sire, please--"
"C'mere," Spike murmured, no trace of sleep in his voice. He lifted the quilts, spooning to hold Xander from behind. "Are you sorry?"
"Yes!" the fledgling closed his eyes tightly, trying to turn that he might better cling to his Sire. "I'm so sorry, don't leave, don't let me go..."
"S'okay, pet," Spike kissed along Xander's shoulder, laved the scar which bound the young man to him so. "Never gonna happen. Even when you ask me to, I won't let you go."
Remember-- despite what those pesky physicists say, feedback makes the world go 'round.