Over the previous few months, Xander had been increasingly concerned that his ambiguous sexual status and constant ‘episodes’ with the implant had rendered him unworthy of…. anything… Spike had never failed to reassure or caress, but like Jon’s teeth that seemed impossibly slow to repair, Xander’s continued hormonal imbalance was the cause of serious concern. By month three, Xander’s tiny breasts had all but disappeared, but his body definitely appeared to be cycling hormonally on a monthly basis. He was still missing body hair and his skin was unusually soft to the touch. More worryingly, his morning erection simply did not occur any more. He wondered if he was ‘capable’ any more. Ironically it had been Jonothon who first broached the subject with Spike in month four of their stay, in the context of his own compromised status… and (at that time) impending fatherhood.
“Sire, we have discussed my teeth but may I speak freely with you of another matter.”
At the time, the two vampires were lying on the same bed in the early afternoon, intertwined as had been their habit since Spike ‘adopted’ Jon as his Childe. Their partners were on ‘garden duty’, so this was a couple of hours of quiet time for the vampires. The formal address gave Spike pause. This was something important. He answered accordingly…
“Of course Childe, what is it that troubles you?”
“I believe your friend… um your partner… um consort? I believe that Xander’s hormonal struggles have gone well beyond his injected treatments. If you permit me Sire, I can do a couple of simple tests to prove the same.” Jonothon watched nervously as the blonde fell into game face and began to growl. “They are non-invasive … Oh please Sire… I would never hurt Xander! But Sire… he is being hurt daily… and we need to know why… Please let me try to help… Please Sire, you have done *so* much for Ed… and me… and… just… Please! For Xander…!”
Spike began stroking his adopted Childe’s now thick, shoulder length locks, then ran his fingers along the mere beginnings of white bumps on the violated gums. They were in themselves puzzling. Samuel suggested that there must have been magical intervention for vampire healing not to have replaced them more quickly… but for the Initiative to do that… well, they were breaking their own ‘rules’ if they had any. But it did also beg the question as to whether Xander’s ‘challenged state’ was similarly related.
Jonothon conducted numerous simple and non invasive tests. Xander had been patient and the results confirmed their suspicions. Despite the initial withdrawal symptoms after their escape, something within Xander was still causing him to have extremely high levels of estrogen and low testosterone, more akin to a female system than a human male. Yet he was still able to achieve an erection… with determined physical encouragement. It all made little sense. Eventually, all privy to the results came to the same conclusion. Something had been done or inserted in one of their many trips to the Initiative ‘labs,’ and apparently it was now permanent. Whether it was ‘medical’ or magical in nature could not be established without the aid Samuel’s wiccan contacts. Xander slumped in his chair as that news came to light.
All adult parties agreed, the physical connection with Spike was vital for Xander’s mental well-being and should be encouraged. Spike agreed readily. Xander simply worried that ‘everyone knew’. But in the fifth month of their freedom, kisses and caresses became more… much more… and the brunette honestly could not care that family was aware of their undoubted ‘bed buddy’ status. By then Spike was already able to bring him to the brink of tears, and the beginnings of arousal, with a simple, pointed smile across a room. If they were touching in any way, Xander now found himself ‘rising to the moment’ for his blonde friend. That in itself, came as something of a relief.
It had been a Friday night when the major shift in Xander and Spike’s relationship occurred, after so many months of sharing sleep with the kissing-friend.
The chaise lounge had been dragged in from the bedroom so, the then heavily pregnant, Eddie and Jon could perch in sight of the tiny television, while Sam had his favourite chair, and the other two took the lounge. The film was not Xander’s usual fare, ‘Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard’. Two of the ‘oldies’ in the room were Shakespeare experts. Xander, Jon and Eddie were simply amazed that they followed any of it at all… Xander smiled as his lovely vampire delighted in the complex philosophical banter, rejoiced in the ‘tradgedians’ and preempted the lines of Hamlet, then openly cheered for the game of ‘question tennis’.
Xander socket insert began to throb around the middle of the film, so he shifted to lie behind Spike, no longer trying to watch the bright screen. The vampire joined him, their heads now sharing an aptly placed cushion. Samuel smiled knowingly and patted Xander on the arm, as he wandered past on the way to making a pot of tea. The blonde in front of the human remained oblivious to the gesture, utterly taken in by the play and mouthing the words from Hamlet that were interwoven into the new text.
Xander smiled to himself, and began to stroke down Spike’s side, then stroked, and stroked…. until his friend began to reflexively purr…. They had played the ‘caress and purr’ game before.
Spike was engrossed in the movie, so Xander snuggled closer to spoon his lovely friend, continuing to caress the pale torso from behind. His hand wandered to rub Spike’s burgeoning erection through the material of his jeans he whispered, “I’d like more of this after…”
Spike’s hardness twitched against the material in the hands of the prospective lover. And as the movie finished, he rolled to face the owner of the hand. “C’mon Pet. Let’s skip the tea, and work with this good and proper.” He cupped Xander’s erection and squeezed, “Then we can explore a few more techniques see if we can’t sort your morning’s out.”
Spike bade their friends goodnight and led him to their sleeping quarters. Xander’s eyes took on the guise of the ‘deer in headlights’ as Spike stripped them both and tugged a tube of lube from a small clothes cupboard. He realized Samuel must have supplied it. The human shook a little and worried that his performance might not be ‘up to scratch’, but as their coupling progressed in earnest, Xander relaxed. He was the partner to a considerate and passionate lover, and there was no doubt that Spike also wanted this, wanted Xander! Xander was stunned that the Master Vampire wasn’t repelled by him, by his strangely effeminate skin and softer body, by his missing eye and precarious emotions. After all, Spike was perfect: hard body, now back, almost to ‘fighting weight’; immaculate skin; and exquisite unmarred face. Xander was utterly enamored by the beautiful blonde Master, now stretched full length against him, yet Spike had no doubts and matched his passion.
The consistent evidence of Xander’s arousal following their first encounter was a relief; his willingness to experiment with his newfound sexuality enthusiastic; and his deepening love for his partner openly acknowledged. Spike rejoiced in the downy soft skin and rather slim, rounded lines of his male partner. His own preferences ran to both genders, so there was not ever a question of the attractiveness of his lovely brunette. Xander’s hormonal situation saw him alternating between lusting after Spike and needing a ‘reassuring shag’. Regardless, their coupling was once or twice… or (in bad times), more per day. Jon and Eddie learned to ‘ride the passion wave’ with them… but as Eddie came close to delivery and their own lovemaking slowed, they generally opted for a quiet evening stroll, or sat on the ‘Xander built’ porch seat until the enthusiastic couple finished their activities.
Eddie’s babies changed all their lives as the family rallied to care for the tiny individuals. Xander found himself treating them as though he had carried them to term himself, and finally confided in Spike that he really didn’t mind having a body that thought it was part woman, if it meant that one day he might indeed have their children. Spike had snorted at the notion of his lover getting ‘knocked up’, but was quietly pleased that Xander was more comfortable in his own skin, and finally talking about his hopes and feelings. Their lovemaking matured over the next few months and became less desperate, as Xander fully accepted his status. Babies were unlikely though perhaps not out of the question; he was the lover/mate of a Master Vampire; he was hormonally at least, female; he loved Spike and was loved back; he had an odd version of family around him; and for the first time in, forever, he felt content.
However, Xander’s headaches had continued, made worse by the ocular implant sparking painfully at increasingly shorter intervals. Thought compared with Samuel’s ever more frequent and more painful visions, Xander felt fortunate. The problem was that there were sharp jolts of electricity and blinding sparks of white without context, they remained intermittent and fairly short lived. The last seven months of transmissions/impulses from his implant had contained no real images, just electrical jolts, and pain, and increasingly a mental confusion as his brain was apparently scrambled from the ocular centre out. The only blessing was that it was extremely unlikely that there were any outgoing signals but if so they would constitute a jumble of interrupted colors and obscured, out of focused images, similar to those sent by a damaged unit, free of a functional body.
Spike and Xander had their own suspicions about the implant being out of operation but still worried in their first days with Samuel. Their host had tested for radio signals and various other frequencies as Xander stared painfully into a lamp, then into the dark. The implant was most definitely damaged, therefore they were indeed somewhat luckily. It simply provided pain without transmitting a signal. Xander covered the instrument with a patch almost permanently, and bore the hurt stoically, but ultimately… they knew they would have to get it out… just as they all knew, Jonothon’s chip had to go.
It was a Sunday, toward the end of month three of the triplet’s lives. Jonothon and Spike were inside tending to Samuel, who was lying on the lounge with a damp towel on his head, a sports bottle of water beside him, and a bottle of painkillers ready and waiting. Soft classical music played in the background, Spike smiled as soft strains of the various arias from the Magic Flute and Madam Butterfly permeated the tiny home. Spike tended to their host yet again. The visions had been getting closer together all month and each time more devastating in their content.
After nearly ten months of liberal intervention bringing some relief to the persecuted demon community (invoked following a leak to the public detailing some the activities at the bombed Initiative ‘medical centre), the Initiative were apparently ‘ramping up’ again. It was an election year. Things were ‘not so positive’ economically, so the threat of ‘the other’ was an easy agenda, and the politicians demanded Initiative become ‘tougher’, detailing the draconian measures they were prepared to back to keep ‘people safe from the monsters’. The members of the farm’s little ‘blended’ family all felt for Samuel. They gave him frequent hugs to try to compensate for the horrid images he continued to witness… but knew it would never be enough.
The afternoon had involved the three little folks being fed by loving parents and ‘uncles’, before Xander and Eddie took the tiny people into the sun. The miraculous little forms crawled around on a broad picnic rug next to the gardens while ‘Da’ and ‘Unca’ tended the rows of produce. The cooing and squeaks from the three little forms as they happily patted, cuddled and sucked each other (and various soft toys) were the sounds of pure innocent joy. Both Xan and Eddie listened and knew it… the heartfelt love and devotion, so strong that made the chest hurt, and when they looked up to catch each others’ eye, a happy tear or two fell, even as leaves were picked and the three little figures enjoyed their afternoon under the cover of a pitched mosquito net … The two adults occasionally wandered over to blow ‘raspberries’ on tummies, and giving attention to each of the little ones in turn. They were picking the latest abundant crop of rocket lettuce ready for market in the morning.
The little figures squirmed and responded to the intermittent attention of family… and…. all was well, until late in the afternoon... Xander fell to the ground in agony as he advanced on the small forms for another round of playtime. Fortunately he was several body lengths away from the helpless little people as he crashed to the ground. His ocular implant began to fire again and again. Eddie watched his lovely friend collapse and gave himself an internal kick for missing the signs. He had noticed twinge, the wince, the unnatural paling and stoic silence a few times during the afternoon. It all meant pain, but this did seem different, he grasped his friend’s hand hard knowing the agony Jonothon’s chip had caused, but had no other real comfort to offer.
Inside the house, Samuel all but passed out with the onslaught of a terrifying vision; Jonothon fell to the ground screaming as his chip fired for no apparent reason; and Spike’s legs buckled when the pain flowing across his blood link with Xander hit him full force. This was no ordinary episode…
Samuel curled into a fetal position until Spike reached over and took his head into his cool lap for the third time that day. This time he also fed him a little of his own Master Vampire blood to their benefactor, mixing it into his drink bottle water. A teary-eyed Jonothon accepted a wrist from his Sire. While Eddie helped an extremely shaken Xander into the house, kissed Jonothon, then returned to the babies and his task. Xander replaced Jon on the wrist, and shed a tear as he took the precious blood. Spike continued to stroke the sweaty forehead of a quietly sobbing Samuel with his free hand.
Eventually Eddie came inside with the children, all happily riding an enormous basket of rocket, the greenery ready to be pushed into plastic bags for market as usual. Xander stood, and moved to bring in the other two boxes inside while Eddie handed the now weary little figures to Spike, Jon and Sam, then busied himself fixing the children's afternoon bottles.
Finally with babies all suckling happily, the family surrounded Samuel. He fixed them, one by one, with a desperate gaze and shared his latest vision with his dear friends… and most definitely *his* family.
Along with the ‘solution to the Demon Problem’ (Spike unable to quell thoughts of the ‘Final Solution’ - The Third Reich - circa 1942), it was evident that the Initiative had been developing a way of sending messages to any of their devices, and the associated capability to destroy any of the Institute developed implants from a distance.
According to Samuel’s visions, Jonothon and Xander’s implants were prototypes, since then, many non-violent demons had been chipped, implanted with monitors, and released on ‘limited home detention’ terms. In the light of the latest political swing, the Initiative was planning to ‘correct that error’. An application had been put to the Senate to use the remote destruction capability and ‘neutralize these threats to society’. Samuel estimated they had three weeks to a month, before the legislation was passed and implemented, all fast tracked to coincide with the last Senate sitting before the election.
As they settled for the night, the mood was somber. If they could not remove Jon’s chip and Xander’s implant, the two would likely die or be permanently brain damaged. They *had* to get help.
After The Fall: 11