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Change of Space

by Annie

CHANGE OF SPACE
1

By Annie

Could stand alone, but better to read Fighting Jose, Change of Pace first. Warning; Slash content.
Summary: Lex Luthor takes a little trip to the Hellmouth. Rated: R
Disclaimer: Still not mine, or I would have way, way better insight into what makes them tick. Feedback: crehnert@ptd.net

I underestimated. Everything.

Sure, I got what I wanted, as usual. Got more than I hoped for, and free bonuses are just extra points in the Luthor way of keeping score.

I underestimated the effect the vampire would have on me. I also, it seemed, underestimated the effect I would have on the vampire. It turned out feeding is a sexual thing. Extremely sexual. I got hard every time I thought about it, and I had been thinking about it a lot. It was even distracting me from enjoying Clark's company, which is practically impossible for any thought to accomplish.

When I roused from my dreamy, weakened state in my office that night, I leaned forward and put my head on my hands. I was afraid to touch my neck, afraid to look, and insanely, I took my pulse. Just to be sure I still had one. When my eyes focused, I saw the taunting note Spike had left, and I read it over a few times, curiously.

Did I think he really knew things? Not in a million years. Could I still almost feel that orgasm ripping my insides out while I allowed a demon to do something that could actually kill me on the spot? God, yes, in the pounding of my heart, trying to force too little blood through my body, and in the pit of my stomach as a bolt of heat flashed to my cock.

I put the note in a file folder in a drawer and tried to forget about it for a few weeks, but every time I woke in bed hard as steel and aching, every time I sat up in the dead of night clutching at my throat and breathing raggedly from coming in my sleep, I would think about it.

He wanted me to find him.

I wanted to find him.

I'd start by flying to Sunnydale.

2

I usually got a lot of paperwork done on flights. Long or short, it never mattered. Somehow, the quiet movement of the plane was soothing to me, allowed me to calm the background business of my brain and do the tasks at hand. This flight I had set aside for reading over the various written reports I had asked my scientists to write. Reports on their prior work in the Initiative, Sunnydale, the Slayer, Hostile 17 and anything else they may have come upon in what they termed The Hellmouth. One of them, quaky and nervous in his coke bottle glasses, had even ventured to warn me away from going there to see it firsthand, which he was assuming, and rightly, was the plan.

I didn't really give a fuck about the Slayer or the demons that were reported to appear there on an apocalyptically regular basis. I wanted to find Spike. I wanted to....well, I knew what I wanted and it didn't have a damned thing to do with any Slayer interviews. Whether Spike had gone back there or not, it was the first place I would have to look. I just had to figure out how to go about it when I got there.

Things started out badly. I had to rent a Sebring convertible, which was the best car the rental place at the small airport had. At least it looked nice, although the least expensive car in my garage would put it to total shame. It was gray, which was also okay. I didn't want to draw any unwanted attention to myself.

The best hotel in town was merely adequate, but I wasn't there to sleep, after all. The only question in my mind was where to look for Spike. If he was even here, the odds of finding him weren't the best. However, cash would loosen tongues, and how many men in town could possibly look like him?

There weren't any stylish bars around, and I really didn't feel like getting rolled in an alley, so that first night was a bust. Except for that feeling. That quiet pull inside me that made me think he was here. Somewhere. Maybe we had a connection. All I know is I tossed and turned relentlessly that night, finally sleeping near dawn, the feeling of cold flesh on mine and teeth in my throat uppermost in my mind.

I had a less than adequate breakfast, and then took a lazy walk through what passed as the business section, noting at least a hundred things they could all do to bring in more customers. I entered a few stores curiously, and wound up in the Magic Box. This place, at least, had some interesting artifacts to browse through. The bright young thing at the counter kept her eye on me as I walked around the displays slowly, only occasionally paying attention to the older, more cultured man who was obviously the owner.

He finally decided that I looked like I needed help.

"Good morning. Can I assist you in finding something?" he greeted me, distinctly British. The sound of it brought the vampire instantly to the forefront of my thoughts again.

I smiled coolly. "Just looking around. I'm passing through town on a business trip, and there isn't actually much to see. Is there?"

He looked a bit insulted at that, and blinked just once. 'Well, we've a very nice town here, and I'd be happy to direct you to the better restaurants...."

"I'm sure there aren't any," I replied, just as the blonde behind the counter put her two cents in.

"The Bronze." She said enthusiastically.

"Excuse me?" I inquired.

"The Bronze," she repeated, more confidently now, as she had my full attention. "Everyone goes there. There isn't anywhere else to go. They have food and alcohol. Many people go there to imbibe and initiate sex. They have pool tables."

She seemed quite enthusiastic, and I wondered if the pool tables had anything to do with the sex.

"And this megaplex of sin is located...?" I asked her.

She smiled brightly and glanced smugly at her boss. "It's ten percent off everything in the store today for new customers who need directions."

I glanced around purely for show, then turned back to her and smiled. "I don't have any real use for anything here, although I would be willing to buy one or two rare books, if you have any. I see you do have books in the back there. I have an extensive library and I like to add to it often."

She continued smiling. "All of the best books are for resea...aren't for sale. They belong to Mr. Giles there. But we do have some rare editions you might like." With that, she all but ran out from behind the counter to direct me to the shelf where they kept the books for sale. She had obviously been meaning to say research when she caught herself, and I wondered why that was something I wasn't supposed to know.

I noted with amusement that she only showed me the tomes with the highest price tags, and I bought two interesting-looking books in deference to her inhuman enthusiasm.

When I handed her my credit card, she did a double take. "Giles. Giles come here!"

He hurried over to the counter to see what she was so excited about. "What is it now, Anya?" he asked, a bit irritably, I thought.

"It's Lex Luthor! Here in the Magic Box! In our store! I knew you looked familiar!" She gazed back up at me raptly. "How much money have you actually accumulated?"

I was a bit taken aback by that, as was Mr. Giles.

"Anya! Don't ask tacky questions," he chided her, shaking his head and walking away. "And I knew who he was the minute he walked through the door." She glared after him.

"Well, he's like, the most famous capitalist in the universe!" She turned back to me again, running my card through the machine and bagging my purchases carefully. "You're my idol!" she informed me gaily, as she handed me the bag.

I smiled as I took it from her. "And my directions?" I reminded her.

"Oh, yes. In all the excitement, I forgot. Wait till I tell Xander! Are you going to the Bronze tonight? We could see you there, and then Xander won't think I'm delusional."

"Yes, Anya, I will most likely go to the Bronze tonight. Which is where?"

She laughed and then actually managed to tell me the way.

So I had lunch, as inadequate as breakfast had been, and then I settled in my room to make a lot of business calls and wait for it to be time to get ready for the Bronze.

3

The Bronze was exactly what I expected, no more and no less. A wanna-be nightclub, packed with the young and the restless of Sunnydale. There were people pawing at each other on the catwalk above me, and beneath the metal staircase, where it was a bit darker. I took up a position at the end of the bar, trying to be unobtrusive. I wondered mildly if there were any demons about tonight on the Hellmouth, and if I would actually get to see one.

I ordered the best Scotch they had, which turned out to be incredibly cheap and bad, and sipped it as I scanned the room.

Ms. Magic Box was sitting at a table across the room, talking animatedly and moving her foot to the too-loud music. She was plastered to the side of a young, dark-haired guy, obviously the Xander she had spoken of in the store today. She had his undivided attention, and I could see the glaze in his eyes as he listened to her. I could imagine he was thinking of things to shove into her pretty mouth to shut her up. Directly across from Anya was a redhead, nicely enough shaped and listening politely to whatever Anya was going on about. Plastered to the side of the redhead was a blonde with longish hair, bustier than Red, softer looking. I raised an eyebrow at the incredible depth of immorality in Sunnydale. The final person seated at the table, not even maintaining a pretense of paying attention, was The Slayer.

Buffy Summers. I recognized her immediately from a picture I had seen in one of the purloined Initiative reports. Anya was obviously an integral part of this group, and that explained the aborted reference to research when I had asked about the books at the Magic Box. I watched The Slayer for a few minutes, taking in the overall deceptive fragility of her. She was deep in thought, the slightest worry wrinkle creasing her smooth forehead. Her hair was past her shoulders, honey colored and soft-looking. She had a pretty face, hardened by the serious thoughts that were obviously distracting her. She was very slim, tiny in fact, and if I hadn't known anything about the Slayer, it would never have occurred to me that she was anything but a run-of-the-mill college student. She finally felt my gaze on her and looked up, meeting my eyes. I raised my glass to her just the tiniest bit, and she looked away coldly. Heat had flashed briefly to my cock when she looked at me, and I found myself wondering if she ever used Slayer strength in bed. Wondering, too, why my Initiative reports mentioned that Hostile 17 had spoken continuously of killing her, and if murdering her was the particular reason he was so desperate to get that chip out of his head.

I motioned the bartender over and ordered a round of whatever they were drinking at that table. It took a few minutes, but someone finally took a tray of drinks over, pointing in my direction. They looked over to the bar as one, Anya brightening even more when she saw me, waving frantically for me to come over and join them.

I had my Scotch refilled and then made my way through the pressing crowd of flesh, irritated by all the times I had to brush up against them. I have never liked to be touched unless it's a product of my own invitation, and my entire body was tense until I finally made it to their table. There were no empty seats, so I had to stand while Anya, overly excited, introduced me all around. They seemed friendly enough, but I was obviously intruding. Anya was pointing. "Xander, Willow, Tara and Buffy, this is Lex Luthor! You know, Lex Luthor, the multi-billionaire!"

"Not quite," I corrected her with a smile.

Xander reached out to shake my hand, which I did reluctantly. "Mr. Luthor. Anya hasn't been able to talk about anything except you since she got home from work today. Nice to meet you."

"And you," I said, as the redhead, Willow, smiled at me. "Hi. Welcome to Sunnydale! If you need to know anything, don't hesitate to ask."

"Thank you, Willow," I replied.

Tara, sitting so close to Willow, was blushing. "Ni-Nice to meet you, Mr. Luthor," she stammered quietly. I felt compelled to reach out to shake her hand and put her at ease.

"Lex will do quite nicely, Tara. You say Mr. Luthor and I think my father is standing behind me," I smiled.

I turned to the blonde across the table from me then. "Buffy," I said shortly in welcome.

She nodded her head in greeting. "Mr. Luthor," she said deliberately. I was not welcome here. "What brings you to our fair little town?" She asked politely, obviously feigning interest for the sake of propriety.

I smiled back as genuinely as I could manage. "Acquisitions," I replied, marveling at how easily lies flowed from my lips these days. Even easier as the years went by. A Luthor, borne and bred, that's me. "I took some time out of my business meetings today to take a walk through town. That's when I ran into Anya," I said, favoring the perky blonde with a much more sincere smile.

"Thank you so much for the round of drinks," Buffy said, "But if you'll excuse us, we're in the middle of something. I'm sure we can all get together another time." She smiled then, but it didn't reach her serious eyes, and peripherally I caught sight of Anya kicking her under the table.

"Buffy," she protested, chagrined.

"It's all right, Anya. I have things to do tonight anyway." (Like finding Spike) An uncomfortable silence descended, and I felt distinctly unwanted. Retreat with grace, my father's voice mumbled in my head. "Maybe we'll run into each other again. I don't want to interrupt."

"Bye then," Anya was saying, as I started to turn away. "If you feel the need to discuss money-making while you're in town, stop by the shop! I'm there all day, every day. I take care of the money."

"I'll keep that in mind," I promised her. Just then, as I was walking away, waiting for a second for a group of dancers to get out of my way, the music stopped, and I could have sworn I heard Xander say quietly, to Buffy. "I'm going to run and check on Spike. Make sure he's still too beat up to go running back to Glory."

My heart thumped in my chest at the mere mention of his name, at the realization that he was really there. I walked back to the bar, trying not to hurry, wondering who the hell Glory was, paying my bill and getting out the door as inconspicuously as possible. I needed to follow Xander. Of course, they would know about Spike if he were there. I just couldn't understand why he was still alive, or existing or whatever you wanted to call it. Wasn't it the Slayer's job to stake all the vampires she could find? As I understood it, Spike had been in residence in Sunnydale for quite some time, and apparently he had returned here when he left Smallville that night. The thought of that night invaded me totally once again, and I could feel my blood quickening, wanting to be used, drained. I shook my head to clear it. Not drained. Just tasted. I felt that pull on my psyche again, and somehow knew exactly in which direction Xander had gone. I saw him up ahead then, walking the darkened streets quickly, glancing around every once in a while nervously. I guess there really were things to be afraid of here. I saw very few people on the streets as I followed the Slayer's friend. We soon ended up at the entrance to a large cemetery, and I waited outside the gates until Xander had come back out, even though I felt the strongest urge to enter, to keep going. I didn't need to know where he had gone. The feeling of Spike was so strong I practically ran through the maze of tombstones to the big crypt.

Here. He was here. This was the stuff of bad fiction and worse movies. I was overwhelmed and no longer in control. This was nothing like it had been in my office that night, before I had let him feed from me. The desire that swept over me pushed me to my knees, and it took a great effort to quell the twisting feelings inside, so I could stand up and try to regain some semblance of calmness. I was a Luthor, dammit, and this vampire would not have this power over me, couldn't be making my insides feel like this, couldn't be making my cock this hard. He needed what I could give him. I had the upper hand here.

Forcing myself to believe that, I reached to open the door.

4

I opened the heavy door slowly, peering around it at the increasing view of the inside of the crypt as I did so. It was dark inside, of course, which was exactly what I would have expected, lit only by candles and the dim glow of an old black and white movie on a medium-sized television set. Theft of services, I thought, and wondered how long the extension cord was that Spike had used for the set. And for the refrigerator I finally saw him standing near as I opened the door all the way. He was in almost total darkness there, and my heart started pounding in my chest at the dim sight of him. He was standing at a small table, pouring some type of whiskey into what appeared to be a glass of blood. He startled me when he spoke, even though he did so quietly, as if we had already been talking together for a while.

"I knew it was you, felt you coming a mile away," he growled, throwing my own words back to me. "Get back to the cornfields."

"Nice to see you, too, Spike," I countered, turning to close the door firmly behind me, taking a few steps closer to him slowly. "Not happy to see me?"

"Bloody ecstatic," he replied sardonically, downing the glass and preparing another. I stood silent as he sipped at this second drink and then walked closer to the middle of the crypt in the dimness, closer to where I was waiting.

"Nice place you have here," I was starting to say, when I got a dimly-lit view, finally, of his face. He looked bad. Looked like someone's favorite punching bag. An irrational sense of protectiveness almost made me dizzy, made my blood boil.

I went closer to him and reached out to gently touch his purple jaw, aching to see the brilliantly-planed face I knew was hidden beneath the vicious bruises.

"Who did this to you?" I demanded. "The Slayer?"

He smirked, or tried to, I could tell it was painful for him to move the muscles of his face. "Not directly," he told me, stepping away from my touch.

"The Slayer." I repeated. "I'll..."

He almost laughed, taking another deep drink. "You'll what? She'll kick your spoiled, worthless ass right back to the heartland. Leave the Slayer out of this. Whatever this is."

He emptied the glass again, and I had no idea how many he may have had before I arrived, but he was well on his way to being spectacularly drunk.

"No manners, Spike? You could at least offer me a drink, seeing as I came all this way."

He turned and held up the whiskey bottle, a touch unsteady on his feet. "Fancy blood or bourbon?"

I shook my head, mostly in an attempt to clear it. "Bourbon," I told him shortly. This was nothing I had expected. Whatever was going on here, I probably should get away from it as soon as possible. But being this close, I couldn't leave. Not yet. And apparently Spike was still harmless to humans. I couldn't imagine anyone having the strength to damage him like that if he was unchipped. I wanted to kill whoever had done it.

He brought the two drinks over, and looked from one to the other, as if trying to decide which was mine. I took the glass without the added blood from his hand.

"Very funny, Spike. Now do you want to tell me what the hell is going on here, or do I have to get drunk first?"

"Short version?" Spike asked, sitting down on a sarcophagus that was obviously being used as a bed. I pushed the thought of bed away for the moment, and drew nearer to him unconsciously, magnetically.

"That'll do." I replied, taking a sip of my bourbon. Cheap stuff. I made a mental note to visit the nearest liquor store tomorrow and stock this place with something drinkable.

He lit a cigarette calmly and blew the smoke toward the floor. "Okay, short version. I got my ass kicked by a slutty Hellgod to protect the Slayer's little sis, and then they took away my robot. End of story."

I sipped again, coming even closer, as I tried to comprehend this mini-tale. "They took away your robot?" I repeated. "And the Hellgod is a slut?"

He considered this a moment.

"Well, she might be, I don't know, I didn't fuck her. Sure I could have. Would have liked to give the bleedin' robot a few more rolls with the ol' Spike, though. But I can't. Not anymore. It's over." He inhaled deeply on the cigarette again, and I could feel the hurt coming off him. He emptied his glass yet again. "I need another drink," he mumbled.

I stopped him from climbing off the sarcophagus by coming in so close he would have had to knock me over to do it. "Here," I said simply, raising my arm toward his face and turning my wrist upward. I saw his nostrils flare just the slightest bit, and then he pushed my arm away and laughed darkly.

"Is that what you came here for? I don't want you. I want another drink. I really don't need any more bloody distractions at this point. Except a drink. I'm not as hungry as I was back in Smallville. Shouldn't have gone there anyway. Should have been here."

It almost seemed like he had spoken that last to himself. Whatever was going on around here, I would obviously have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

"Fine," I agreed finally. "Just stay here, I'll get you a drink."

"Don't forget the blood," he snarled, laying back and throwing his arms above his head, as if in surrender.

This certainly wasn't going as planned. I used careful fingertips to retrieve a bag of blood from the refrigerator, praying it wasn't human, and dumped half of it into the glass, filling it up with the rest of the bourbon. By the time I took it back to him, he was out like a light.

I put it back in the refrigerator and went to stand by him, breathing him in, taking him in with every sense I could muster. He was so beat up, and it made me murderously angry. He was defenseless, and beautiful, and I wanted to kill whoever had done this. Aside from the fact that this meeting had not gone as I had planned and hoped, someone had tried to destroy him. From the looks of him, they had almost succeeded. If he had been truly gone when I got here, I don't know what I would have done, but it wouldn't have been pretty.

I would come back tomorrow, when he would hopefully be sober, and make my proposition to him. I didn't see how he could possibly refuse a win-win situation. The first winner being, of course, me.

I should have left then, should have just gone quietly back to the hotel, but he drew me as no one ever had, and I had to stay a while, just looking. Watching for the rising of a chest that never moved, noticing the way that beam of moonlight struck the side of his face and glistened eerily on his hair. Looking wasn't enough then, and I had to reach out tentatively and run a hand over the swollen flesh hiding his face from me. Ran my hand down the cold silk of his throat and dipped my fingers beneath the collar of his shirt to feel his chest. Not breathing. This thought twisted my insides, and I almost tried to awaken him, make sure I hadn't imagined the feel of his swollen cock in my hand and his teeth in my throat as I came that night.

I brought my hand back out from under the shirt and ran it down his arms slowly. Odd to think I might be doing this and he wouldn't know, would never wake up to feel it or see me. I brushed my fingers over the front of his black jeans and got even harder myself when I felt his erection. A hardness he was unaware of, in his stupor, but which I was content to caress through the material. I laid the flat of my hand on his cock, and he moaned involuntarily, hips thrusting up unconsciously to press into my heat. He moaned, and I froze in mid-movement. More than a moan, a word, torn from bruised lips, spoken not with hate but with deep need and desire.

"Buffy," my vampire whispered yearningly.

My heart twisted with unexpected hurt. What the hell was going on in Sunnydale?

5

After I got back to the hotel, I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning. Even the long shower with the vicious flogging of my cock did nothing to satiate me. I had been so, I don't know, expectant, no, sure, that Spike would be more than happy to fall onto my neck with his fangs bared, and now obviously something was rotten in Sunnydale.

I forced myself to wait until two hours after the sun had risen, using the time to make a few international calls and getting the day's business out of my way. I had every intention of spending the rest of the day with Spike, hopefully uninterrupted by the drunken invocation of the Slayer. I was tempted to return to the Magic Box, buy about a thousand dollars worth of junk and set Anya's tongue wagging, but the probable presence of Mr. Giles stopped me. He would never let her tell me a thing. As I thought about it, I knew he had to be the Watcher. Every Slayer had a Watcher, and if the Magic Box was the boardroom, then he was the CEO.

I paused in the middle of the cemetery on my way to Spike's crypt, steeling myself, trying to quell the shakiness I felt inside, the burning need for Spike's physical touch. I hated this. I hated that I wanted this demon to bite my neck and suck my blood. I hated that I wanted him to do things to me, and mostly I hated that I absolutely needed to do things to him. If he accepted my proposition, maybe I could get over this addiction to the unusual I had catered to that night. I closed my eyes and ran my fingers lightly over the almost-invisible scar on my throat. No time like the present, and I vowed I wouldn't leave Sunnydale without my 'acquisition.'

I got a better look around the crypt in the daylight, as I opened the door, finding Spike slouched in front of the television, watching an old Frankenstein movie. The place was a veritable haven for cobwebs and dust, but it was, after all, a home for a dead thing. As I thought that, I wondered in the back of my mind if I was already trying to talk myself out of this. Wouldn't do any good. Just being in his presence made my mouth water, made me swallow, boiled my blood in my veins and hardened my cock.

"Good morning, Spike," I greeted him calmly, as I closed the door firmly behind me and walked toward his chair.

"Bugger off, I'm busy!" he replied, not even looking in my direction. He was pissing me off.

I tried another, more sarcastic tack. "Can we go out for coffee or something? Oh, no, I guess we can't, what with the sunshine and all. We'll have to talk here. How's the hangover?"

He looked at me with something very much like contempt in his eyes. "Dead, remember? I don't get hangovers."

"Big plus there. Anyway, I'm here because I found your note. Intriguing. I want you to tell me what you know." I thought a direct approach might be best. But, apparently not.

He almost snorted. "Just blowing smoke up your ass, Lex," he told me, with some kind of hissing, sardonic emphasis on my name that I didn't understand. Hadn't I been good to him? For him? "I don't know anything. Don't know anything at all, anywhere."

I didn't believe him, but then I never was one to trust easily. I plunged right in, forcing myself not to take another step closer to him.

"I have a proposition for you. Mutually beneficial, of course."

Okay, that lit a spark of interest in his cool blue eyes. The bruises on his face could never hide that piercing color, and as I examined him critically, I noted that he had healed somewhat from the night before. Vampire stuff, I assumed. Maybe, if I hung around long enough, I could see that cut-glass facial structure once more. I got harder looking into those eyes, and I had to refocus my thoughts to hear what he was saying.

"Speak your piece and get out," he advised, standing now and heading across to the refrigerator. He must drink an awful lot, I thought. He really did need better supplies, and vaguely I wondered when the liquor store opened. He brushed against my body as he went by, deliberately I thought, and the cool touch burned, lit my insides on fire, sent my brain reeling so I had to really work to form coherent words. I wanted nothing more than him in me, teeth and cock, if he would, but I was getting failure vibes and I wasn't going to give up lightly. I always get what I want.

I tried not to watch his mouth and hands as he made and poured a drink. "Very simple," I told him, my calm tone belying the furor inside. "I want you to come back to Smallville. You will be acting as my personal assistant, with a negotiable salary and fringe benefits. I want you to do this for one year, after which, I will set up a laboratory in any part of the world you choose, and have my scientists remove your chip. Of course, you will have promised to stay away from me and any of my, for want of a better term, 'loved ones,' and you can go on your merry way from there."

He cocked an eyebrow, tingling my spine. I was itching to put my hands on him. Or better yet, my mouth.

"I get money and what? These fringe benefits. What exactly are we talking about here? Paid holidays? Christmas bonus? All the hot wings I can eat?"

I was ready to jump over there and eat him alive by now, and he knew it, was delighting in it. "Me," I told him, with barely a crack in my voice. "We're talking about me." I was determined to stay in control.

He smiled then, darkly, and it chilled me to the bone. I was dealing with a notoriously vicious vampire here, and chip or not, I was starting to be afraid.

He put the glass down then and stalked toward me. I stood my ground, unflinching, until he was standing bare inches from me. I couldn't feel any heat from him, as I knew I would have from any human standing that close to me, almost touching. I didn't care, I was hot enough by then for the two of us.

"You." He repeated, deliberately inhaling, sensing, I knew, my heat, blood and fear. And my arousal. He knew how hard I was, how hot my blood felt running through my veins. "You and your fresh, painless blood. Want that feeling back, do you?" His eyes flashed hungrily at me, and I knew he wanted it, too. "Underestimated my thrall, did you?" He leaned in and inhaled the scent of the blood beneath the skin of my throat, then pulled away sharply.

"Go home," he demanded." There's nothing here for you. I have nothing for you."

My insides dropped sharply at his sudden claim of disinterest. He did want me, I could see it in his eyes, see it in the prominent bulge he was beginning to sport in the front of his jeans.

"You want the chip out, I know this." I watched his face carefully then, gauging his reaction to my next statement. "You want the chip out so you can kill the Slayer, right?"

"I can't...I can't kill the Slayer. There's stuff going on here, you have no idea..."

"I have a very good idea. What's with this Hellgod and a robot? What's with you moaning the Slayer's name in your sleep? And where did you get a robot anyway?"

"You'd like to know, wouldn't you?" Spike laughed. "You just never mind about the Hellgod and the sodding robot and especially the Slayer. You stay away from the Slayer."

"I wasn't planning on going anywhere near her. I came here to take you back to the castle with me. One year, Spike, that's all. You're immortal for fuck's sake, what's a year to you?"

He looked at me, trying to measure my intentions. "A little fresh blood and what? I'm supposed to be your lapdog instead of hers? One year," he remarked. "Why one year, in particular? Oh no, wait, let me guess...Farmboy will be legal in a year, right? What if I've drained you as dry as an October cornstalk by then? You wouldn't be much use to him, would you? Does he share your.....proclivities, do you think? Or are you planning to convert him? I know he wants to shag that piece of sugar cane behind the counter at the coffee shop....."

It was my turn to move closer to him now. "You leave them out of this." I warned, barely able to speak with the sheer overpowering closeness of him. "Clark is the only human being who treats me like something other than a pariah. He's......."

"Farmboy's not....." Spike started to interrupt, and I could almost see him biting his tongue. Something I would have been more than happy to do for him. But I didn't like him even thinking about Clark, let alone bringing him up in conversation.

"Not what?" I snapped.

"Not your type," he said finally, turning back to his glass.

"Will you just think about it?" I asked, trying to keep the desire out of my voice. "No one loses here."

His back was turned to me, as he finished his drink and set the glass down on the little table a bit harder than necessary. I moved up behind him and put my arms around him, bringing my right arm up to his face, moving my wrist back and forth by his mouth. He was trembling, and I knew he was enjoying the heady scent of my blood, the fact that he could have it without painful recrimination. I pressed myself up against his back, and he moaned, feeling my erection. He reached up and grabbed my arm then, as I ground into him, exasperated by the amount of clothing between us. He licked my wrist, wrenching a groan from me, making me push my wrist against his mouth, tender skin against seeking lips. He nipped lightly, and I could feel the physical exertion he was putting forth to resist breaking the pale skin so willingly offered. He pushed me away abruptly, and I stood, trying to keep my breathing from sounding so desperate and broken. "I can't." He said, and I could see he was torn.

"Yes, you can." I told him insistently. "I read your note. You wanted me to find you. Now I have. All I want is one good reason you won't come with me. One."

He just looked at me, lost in bloodlust but fighting against it for something else. "I can't," he repeated quietly. "We're in the middle of a bloody shit storm here. They need me. She needs me."

"I need you." I admitted, against my better judgment, I might add.

He looked at me, incredulous. "We're fighting a war to save the bloody world, and you just want to get sucked and fucked?"

"And when did it become your job to help the Slayer save the world?"

He didn't answer me. I saw the anger and frustration suddenly growing in his eyes, and unconsciously took a step backward, something I normally never allow myself to do. He strode toward me furiously, and, chip or not, I thought I was a dead man. He grabbed a handful of my shirt and dragged me across the floor, flinging open the crypt door and pushing me out into the sunlight, heedless of his own safety. He pulled back from the brightness quickly, practically slamming the heavy door in my face.

In the history of bad ideas, this was turning out to be the worst. Measures would have to be taken.

I always get what I want.

6

I had enough to deal with as it was, and when I felt the approach of the hairless whelp I had to double the amount of whiskey I was pouring into my glass of blood. Between this thing with the Slayer, my humiliating bruising at the hands of Glory and the totally frustrating loss of my 'bot, I wasn't in the mood for any Luthor nonsense. I figured I'd end up throwing him out, which I finally did the next morning, headache be damned. I hurt so much in other places it didn't much matter anyway.

When he came back in the morning, though, it was hard to resist his offer. First off, I started salivating at the sight and scent of him, instinctual memory trying to lengthen my all-but-obsolete fangs. He paused in the doorway a second, taking in my posh estate in the daylight, wearing a long-sleeved lavender T-shirt and soft black pants. He looked....good. Delicious, in fact. My cock was hard before it knew what hit it.

I was operating on the ragged edges of sanity anyway, and felt like his presence would be enough to push me right over one of those bloody edges soon. The thought of fresh blood, willingly offered, was almost too much to give up, but there were Buffy and Niblet to consider, and as I had gone this far, risked unlife and limb for them, it didn't seem like this would be the best time to abandon them. Perhaps, if I survived the Glory problem, but in the meantime, throwing him out and suffering the resultant headache would have to suffice.

The memory of that night washed over me quite often since I had returned to the Hellmouth; the taste and warmth of his rich blood, made even more incredible by the feel of his hand on my hard flesh. It made me angry, most times, to think about that part of it. Sometimes, though, at the very edges of sleeping and waking, the memory made my cock come to life, aching for the return of his hand and the feel of the hot blood in my mouth again. Especially the hot blood in my mouth part. Maybe I should go back to Smallville, if the world survived this latest Apocalypse, and I could be unchipped. Luthor was right about one thing; a year was nothing to me. Up until a mere few months ago, being chip-free had been my fondest wish. Now it seemed my priorities had rearranged themselves, whether I wanted them to or not.

There was a big showdown coming soon, and if I managed to walk away from it, I'd have to test the Summers' waters then, see if my selfless acts would have done anything to soften the Slayer's opinion of me even more.

Maybe I'd be heading East after all.

7

Measures would have to be taken. Simple measures at first of course, which would be the best way to start off. Save any big guns I might come up with as a last resort. I needed to retreat, not to admit defeat, but to regroup. Revitalize, as it were. I never even checked out of the hotel in Sunnydale, pessimistic about being able to obtain what appeared to be the only hotel suite in town when I got back. I only planned to be gone for a week or so, let Spike sort out his problems with the Slayer or whoever, maybe let him mull over in his mind the memory of that fresh blood I had offered to him.

Things were comparatively calm at the castle, which grated on my nerves. I still missed the beat of the city, the never-ending parade of distractions, be they male or female. Being back in Smallville did nothing to alleviate the aching need I had for...something. I wasn't even sure what I needed anymore, and the disturbing, cock-hardening presence of Clark Kent did nothing to assuage the hunger growing inside. I needed something a bit more legal, a bit more unorthodox.

Sunnydale never left my mind; I thought about what Spike had said, over and over. The mystery of it pulled at me persistently. What was a Hellgod? Where did Spike get a robot? That was what interested me the most I think. My own scientists were hard pressed to make an electronic puppy, and there in California was a vampire who not only had a robot, but apparently he missed it very much. I wanted to know more. I wanted to find out what the heck the story was there at the Hellmouth, and after two or three days of pacing like an agitated wild man in the mansion, I headed right back to Sunnydale.

I had to talk with the Slayer after all, it seemed. She could tell me what was going on, unless she tossed me out on my ass, too. But, maybe she'd be happy to have Spike leave Sunnydale. There had to be ways to persuade her to give me a clue as to how to accomplish that. Maybe ways with dead presidents and numbers on them. Maybe other ways.

I tried the magic shop first, and it was closed, contrary to the hours posted on the door. Strange. Anya didn't seem like the type to deviate from normal hours when there might be potential sales coming in after dinner. Okay then. I found all their addresses, by simple courtesy of the telephone book and my infallible memory of the names I had read in my reports. I started at Revello Drive. Simple house, homey-looking enough, but empty. Like everywhere else I tried.

I was getting frustrated and that was something to which I was not accustomed. Nobody stood in my way. Nobody. Not the Slayer, or her Watcher, or any of her friends. I tried the Bronze as a last resort, and then decided to simply take my life in my hands and go back to the crypt. Just offer the vampire too much money to refuse and be done with it.

I saw the tower on my way there, just as I neared the edge of town. The only reason I noticed it at all was because of the light. A freaky, undulating kind of thing, suspended in the air near the top of the tower. I slowed the car, peering up through the windshield, and that was when the ground started to shake and all Hell broke loose. I nearly laughed. Hell on the Hellmouth. Why should I be surprised? At the same time, I could barely make out two small figures way up there on a walkway. Then the street trembled again splitting open in front of me.

I slammed on the brakes, my heart all but stopping permanently as a huge ...THING... flew up out of the wide crack in the street. It paid no attention to me, grazing scaly wings against the front of the car, screeching defiantly and running smack into another, different....THING.... that suddenly appeared in a rip in the air in front of the car. It glared at me through the windshield with hateful intent out of deep-set rotted eye sockets, then was abruptly eaten in two gulps by something even bigger and more putrid that descended out of the electric sky. Next thing I knew, there were creatures everywhere, appearing from the street, coming out of the very walls of the buildings near me. Cars were careening all over the place and two of them crashed into mine before I had the presence of mind to slam the shifter into Park and get the hell out of there.

As I started to run, ducking and lurching away from those indescribable beasts, I felt Spike. I felt the magnetic draw like I had when I neared his crypt. It steered me in the direction of the tower, and his words came back to me. 'Shit storm.' 'Hellgod.' I probably should have stayed in Kansas.

But the feelings coming over me were of a Spike in need, in pain, and I ran heedlessly in his direction. Just before I got to the clearing at the base of the tower, it all stopped. The creatures, the eerie light above, the quaking of the ground beneath my unsteady feet. I hesitated a moment, confused, but then suddenly overpowered by a feeling of tremendous pain. Spike was in a lot of trouble, and the Igor in me, the remnants of the effect of Spike's feeding on me, propelled me forward again. I was wading through waves of pain and something else. Grief. Overwhelming grief so powerful I was almost bent double and had to keep walking anyway. Damn that vampire. I should have never allowed him to feed from me. At that thought I almost laughed crazily. First and foremost, what I wanted more than anything was to have him feed from me again.

First I had to get to him.

I was stopped in my tracks by the tableau that greeted me at the base of the crazy-looking tower.

The Watcher, Xander and Willow were all standing, staring in horror at... my God, the Slayer, who lay in a limp heap on a pile of rubble. Tara was leaning on Willow, and Xander was carrying Anya, who appeared to be battered and unconscious. A younger girl, insanely dressed for a masquerade ball or something, was stumbling down from the tower, her own eyes glued to the fallen Slayer. I didn't see Spike at first, but then I found him, crashed to the ground, bloodied face buried in his hands, too weak with grief to even stand up, too overwhelmed to even look at her. The others were ignoring him, so I forced my legs to move and went to him.

I knelt down next to him and spoke his name softly. He either couldn't hear or didn't care. I expected him to cringe as I laid a hand reassuringly on his leather-clad back, but he ignored that as well. The sight and sound of him was enough to tear my heart out, he was so obviously crushed into nothing by grief. So then I knew; knew why he had come back to Sunnydale, why he had to stay and assist in a fight with a Hellgod, who had apparently been winning for a few minutes there. I couldn't fathom the details, and figured I would probably never know them, but my main concern now was Spike.

I don't usually feel such genuine concern for others without some selfish motives, except for Clark of course, who would be the sum and total of my universe if he would allow it. If I could allow it. With Spike, it was almost an instinct, and the thought of leaving him here, with them, so lost and neglected, was something I wasn't prepared to do. I tried to pull him to his feet, and as I did so, the Watcher finally spared a glance in his direction, dampening his own grief long enough to come over and help me get the vampire into an unsteady standing position.

"Spike," Giles was trying to speak to him, but Spike ignored him, too, finally pulling his hands from his wet, bloody face to stare at the body of the Slayer in disbelief. The bruises he had suffered at the hands of the Hellgod were mostly gone, but the pain on his face now was even harder to watch. "Spike," Giles repeated. "We need to go. We need to take Buffy and...."

His voice broke, and he looked down at the cracked ground beneath his feet, trying to compose himself, brutally proper.

"I'll take him," I said, putting an arm around Spike's waist and beginning to lead him away. He didn't want to turn his gaze away from Buffy, and I had to reach up and grasp his jaw, forcing him to look away. "Spike, come with me," I insisted.

He moved as if to rush to the spot where she lay and then Giles laid a restraining hand on his chest, lightly, so that I thought Spike would just fling him aside and out of the way. Except, he didn't. "Go with him, Spike." Giles told him quietly. "We'll talk tomorrow. I promise."

Spike nodded numbly, and as I started to lead him away, back to the car that I hoped was still in working order, I called back over my shoulder to the Watcher. "I'm at the Regency. I'm taking him there. Call me tomorrow."

The Englishman looked at me strangely. "There will be a tomorrow now. I'll call."

8

I thought Smallville was weird. The meteorite freaks had never given me an eyeful like the one I'd had tonight. I knew, somehow, I had witnessed the salvation of the entire world, possibly more worlds than ours. The only problem was the price - one Slayer. The problem was more Spike's than mine, but it had become mine by default.

I had to practically drag him to my room, trying to avoid being seen as much as possible. Here, like in Smallville, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I managed to get us into the room, securely locking the door. I was hesitant to put Spike in the bed just yet, although my anxious libido was screaming for me to do so. I could see he needed other attention first, and opted for the long couch. Obtaining the only hotel suite in Sunnydale had just come in handy. Spike resisted a bit, as I pushed him down onto one of the little corner pillows, but I was gently insistent, and he finally gave in, resting back against the pillow, eyes closed against the soft light in the room seeing, I knew, the fallen Slayer, replaying over and over in his head.

He needed some medical attention, not that any of those bleeding wounds would kill him, since he was already, technically, dead, but I couldn't bear to see him like that, bloodied and crushed, holding the anguish inside with obvious heart-rending effort. I went to the bathroom quickly and started the shower running, just hot enough to warm the room with steam. I headed for the bar next, pouring a generous amount of 12-year-old scotch into a tall glass, smooth balm to the pain I knew he felt inside.

I stood over him on the couch, and just took him in. This was strange, this feeling of wanting to help. I wondered briefly if I would be able to take him in this condition, he seemed so much more vulnerable than he had before, but that thought was banished quickly as he opened his eyes and bolted into an upright position, capturing the glass in my hand in a swift fluid motion that both surprised and, inexplicably, terrified me.

He threw his head back and downed half the scotch at once, then looked up at me, glaring. "Why are you still here?" he demanded roughly. "I thought I threw you out."

"You did. I came back. We have unfinished business." I replied matter-of-factly.

He raised the glass. "This is our only business," he told me, and proceeded to empty the glass totally. "And now it's finished." He stood as if to go, but he swayed slightly on his feet, and I could see the blinding pain on his face as the sight passed across his memory again.

"You need help, Spike. You need......"

He moved closer to me, threateningly, and even though I knew he still had that chip, I was afraid. More than being afraid, I wanted him. Badly.

"We did need help. We don't need it anymore, and especially from you. Or your cronies down on the farm."

He almost stumbled over to the bar, abandoning the glass in favor of the bottle itself, taking another healthy swig. At this rate, he'd never even make it out the door, whatever his intentions were.

"All you had to do was ask," I said. "You wouldn't tell me anything."

He picked up a small vase from a shelf on the wall behind the bar. He stared at it hatefully, and the thing suddenly shattered in his hand, opening more wounds, letting precious blood he needed flow from him. I flinched inwardly, feeling the pain he was obviously too far gone to feel himself.

"You couldn't help. She was the only one who could....I tried, dammit. I try and try and Nothing. Ever. Helps...." He picked up the bar stool and flung it angrily across the room, sending it crashing into a large decorative mirror. The check-out bill was racking up unbidden in the back of my mind. "Nothing ever works...!" The other stool flew now, careening across the room to land on top of the glass coffee table, smashing it into smithereens.

"Why are you still here?" he shouted at me, taking another drink, stalking toward me dangerously. "I don't want you here. I don't want you anywhere."

"We can talk about it later," I remarked. "You need to get cleaned up, get some rest. Tomorrow, we'll go wherever you need to go, finish things up here, pay off any debts you might need cleared up, and then we'll leave. There's nothing for you here." I think I was babbling at that point, but his coming even closer to me was so terrifying, and yet made my blood sing with the need for him. I wanted, insanely, to reach up and tear my own throat open for him to drink, wanted him to stop hurting, stop being angry. Wanted him to forget about her. I wanted him in me, teeth and cock, and I stood my ground against the burning anguish I could see in front of me.

"I don't want to be clean," he said, very quietly. "I don't want to be gone. I don't even want to exist. I don't want to go with you. And I don't want to fuck you, Lex, no matter how much I see it in your eyes." Another drink to punctuate his statements. "No, don't want to fuck you. Want to kill you...just...can't." He broke, I could see it in the pain on his face. "Can't kill you, can't kill some old man who only has a bloody little knife, can't do anything. I'm just worthless Spike, the hired help who doesn't get paid or laid. What do I get?"

He took another deep drink, and by now the bottle was almost empty. He was beginning to sway on his feet, and I wasn't sure if it was the scotch or the agony doing it to him. He answered his own question. "I get fucked, and not the nice way either. I get to be alone. I get to drink this really good scotch, and I think I may get to be unconscious for the rest of forever if I can drink enough. How many more of these do you have? Because I don't ever want to wake up again."

It was the agony, no question, because he started to crumble before my eyes, and I knew he wasn't drunk enough to do that just yet. I leaned in and put my arm around his waist, steering his bleary self toward the bathroom and the warmth there. He was so cold. (So dead, I had to keep reminding myself, thinking I must be losing my mind to be in a situation like this. And not making any money off of it.)

I leaned him against the steam-damp wall of the bathroom, and he stayed there unsteadily while I undressed him. I did it slowly, I had to because my hands were shaking so badly with the hunger. I was surprised at the trembling; that was something I usually only had to hide when Clark came around, with his honed body and his fuck-me mouth. Spike resisted when I tried to take the bottle from him so I could remove his coat and shirt, but then he just drained it and threw it into a corner of the bathroom, thankfully away from the shower, where he would soon be walking barefooted. I eased the clothes from him, marveling at the cold marble feel of him, aching to press myself against him and let him steal all my warmth. I touched him softly, everywhere, and he was almost oblivious to my hands, he was in such a hurtful state of mind. He was beautifully put together, and I had a raging hard-on by the time he was naked. Of course, the only way to get him into the shower would be to get in there with him, so I stripped myself a bit more quickly than I had him, regretting the fact that he never even cracked his eyes open to look at me.

"Come on, Spike," I urged him, steering him toward the big tub and through the open shower doors into the hot stream of water. Bless hotels, and their seemingly endless hot water supply.

He looked at me then, opening his eyes as the hot stream hit him squarely on the back. "What?" he sneered. "Think you're going to seduce me in the shower, all naked and horny? I don't give a bloody damn if your cock turns to stone, Luthor. What did you do with that bottle?"

I pushed him a little further back into the cascading water, firmly, trying not to let my eyes linger on the heavy cock right in front of my stomach. It took all my considerable willpower not to just reach down and hold onto him, but I was afraid I'd end up with my head through the wall, chip or no chip. I took hold of his shoulders and turned him around gently. He sighed, throwing his head back and letting the soothing heat pound on his cool skin, warming him slowly. I moved a bit closer to his back, carefully. He needed to relax a bit first, try to come down from the furious grief reigning inside.

He just stood there, like he was trying to drown himself, and I picked up the bar of soap and reached around him cautiously, lathering him slowly, across his chest and around to his back, which I could see at this close inspection still bore the marks of whatever it was the Hellgod had put him through. He hadn't moved a muscle since I started, and I put the soap back on its' little shelf. There was enough now to spread around with just my hands, and I went back to work on his back, closing my eyes so I could just feel the touch of my skin on his. I ran my hands up and down, kneaded firmly against the tense muscles I found in his shoulders and the back of his neck. He remained rigid, and my impatience and need were becoming too much for me to control. I smoothed my hands slowly from the small of his back, around the fine muscle of his waist and abdomen, pulling myself in closer to him so I could reach down, splay the fingers of one hand down across his stomach and into the wet nest of curls there.

I leaned up to speak softly in his ear, ignoring the flood of water coming down around us. "Come home with me, Spike. You know what I can do for you."

Without warning, he whirled around and I found myself slammed up against the wall, his fingers deep in my throat. He let go an instant later, grabbing his head in agony. He opened the shower door and stumbled out, dripping water, uncaring. I got out too, and ran over to stop him before he could get out of the room.

"Was it worth it?" I asked. "You told me the pain is blinding. I know you're in pain, Spike, and if you come with me it'll all be over. You can feed whenever you want, you can get that chip out. No more pain, Spike. All you have to do is drink. I'm right here."

He knew he couldn't push me out of the way without risking another stab of pain, and he snarled in frustration. If I couldn't use his need, then I'd use his anger. Any means necessary; the Luthor way.

I pushed him further into the room, my hand almost skirting off his slick chest. "What's the matter, Spike? Lost a fight with an old man, did you? Lost your favorite toy? Got beat up for nothing? Need a drink?"

"Luthor. I'm warning you," he started, but I wouldn't let him finish. If the chip wouldn't allow him to beat me to a pulp, then he would have to take his frustration out on me the only other way left to him. And he knew the chip wouldn't go off then, because I was the one who wanted it.

"What are you going to do? Beat me up? Steal my scotch?" I pushed him again, and he was almost across to the other wall now and would have nowhere to go. "Yea. You're bad all right.."

I didn't even have the sentence out when he rushed me with an enraged roar and pinned me to the wall near the door, face buried in my still-damp neck. The weight against me was intoxicating, the feel of the shower-slick skin brushing mine. I could sense the change as he turned to vamp face and before I could even react his teeth had invaded my tender skin savagely. I moaned and almost came right then, but he pulled away suddenly, tearing tiny pieces of flesh. He looked into my face and I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

He was infuriated, lost and heartbroken. He wanted to take it out of my flesh one heartrending second at a time, and I was perfectly willing to let him.

"Drink, touch me, whatever, do something," I urged him anxiously. He growled again, deep in his dead throat, and the sound thrilled me, sent a jolt of fire to my groin and made my cock jump pleadingly.

"I'll drink you. I'll touch you," he replied threateningly. He leaned in again, gripping my shoulders almost painfully, and I tensed for another attack on my throat, but he headed downward instead. He bit around my collarbone, hard, sucking the blood that seeped out. I thought I would go flat out insane any minute. His head moved minutely, and he sank his teeth into the skin halfway from collarbone to nipple. Sucking again, flashes of heat going to my brain and my weeping cock. He's going to kill me anyway, I thought, murder me with pleasure and he won't even get a slight headache while he does it because I am so into it I might just explode. Even then, I wouldn't have been able to stop him. It was pure addiction, I was spellbound by a vampire and I would have willingly cut off an arm to give him a steady flow of hot blood.

He bit my nipple and I muffled a scream and closed my hand around my cock without even thinking about it. My other hand was buried in his damp hair and I pushed his face harder against my chest, silently begging him to take every drop, bite every inch. Below the nipple now, inching his way down toward where my hand was beating my cock rhythmically, mindlessly, totally driven now by the feel of the teeth invading my flesh, pulling the life blood from the wounds he left behind. He was hard, too, I could tell when the cool tip of steel brushed against my leg. His hands had somehow ended up behind me, holding onto my ass tightly, keeping me as close to him as possible. His fingers were digging into the muscle, sending even more bursts of pleasure to my groin, although I don't think that was what he intended.

Spike had reached my abdomen now, tracking his way down, leaving a trail of small bloody holes behind to mark his progress. I moaned as he bypassed my cock, which I was still pounding, mercilessly now, and buried his face on the inside of my thigh. I could feel him there, inhaling deeply, something I knew he didn't need to do. He was smelling the artery there, in my thigh. I moaned in frustrated anticipation as he pulled my hips forward. He licked the hot pulse lightly, just once, then buried his fangs into my thigh, sucking greedily.

I couldn't hold it anymore, didn't even want to, and I came screaming all over the bathroom floor while the vampire drained the blood from me.

The vampire came, as well, stifling a hurtful moan against my skin, cool fingers digging into my hips painfully to pull me even closer.

He moved away suddenly, and stood, backing away to the other side of the room.

"No," he said, as if to himself. "This isn't it. This isn't what's going to be. I'm bloody well out of here." He brushed past me, collecting his clothes on the way, and I was too weak to stop him, leaning against the wall and trying to catch my breath, calm my pounding heart. Wondering how much blood I had lost this time. Trying to figure out, already, how much I could lose without dying.

I finally peeled myself away from the wall and walked slowly into the other room, where Spike was in the process of donning his leather duster. He walked around behind the bar and checked out the supply, gathering a few bottles that he obviously intended to take along with him.

"Spike, come to Kansas."

"Never happen, Luthor." He told me determinedly. "Don't ever come back here. This will never happen again."

He was heading for the door, and I knew he wouldn't ever come back if he left right now. "What's here for you? I can give you so much. You have no idea."

He paused, a hand on the doorknob, and his head drooped slightly, I could feel the waves of grief returning in spades. "I can't go. I promised."

I opened my mouth to continue my argument, but then I looked into his eyes and knew I had come up against something that could even defeat the Luthor powers of persuasion. And although they were nothing remotely alike, something about the resolve, the steadfastness in his face, reminded me of Clark. Chalk up a defeat for Lex Luthor. I knew it was a lost cause, and I steeled myself against a sense of loss I would not allow myself to feel.

"If you change your mind, you know where to find me." I told him evenly. "The 'position' will stay open.....but not forever."

He turned to look at me again, then, some strange glint of amusement in his eyes. "If you ever find out what's on that museum tape, let me know. It's been bloody real, Lex."

With that, he went out the door. And out of my life. I ground my molars in frustration. Already I wanted more of him, and I began to question how I would be able to just go back to Smallville and forget.


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