Once the gate was opened as far as it would go, he picked up the duffel bag and the plastic pet carrier from the ground behind him and ducked under the gray stone arch into the crypt. Small skittering sounds came from the shadows as the local rodent population retreated from his presence. Spike could hear their little heartbeats as they squirmed into their holes, smell the blood coursing through their tiny arteries. Bloody hell, but he was hungry. Hungry for warm, living blood, not the half-congealed butcher-shop crap he had to live on these days. He'd tried hunting rats shortly after his escape from the Initiative compound, but the fucking chip wouldn't even let him do that.
A cobweb fluttered in his path, and he had to put down the duffel bag to brush it out of his way. For a brief moment, he actually wondered what spider blood would taste like, and whether or not the chip would let him find out, before common sense reasserted itself. *Get a grip, William.* If he kept on like this, he'd end up as crazy as Drusilla, except without the poetry.
Kneeling down, Spike unzipped the duffel and began to methodically unpack the contents. Nine black candles. A shallow silver bowl. A small packet of dried herbs in a cloth pouch. A bottle of lamp oil. An antique dagger with a straight, narrow blade nearly as long as his forearm. And last but not least, a thick, musty-smelling book bound in faded leather.
He'd stolen the volume from the Slayer's pet librarian. It had been insultingly easy. They were all so used to dismissing him as harmless, they never even bothered to keep an eye on their belongings when he was around. He'd sit there in plain view, looking through the books, and all they'd do is make snotty comments about getting him something with more pictures. Stupid wankers. He'd show 'em now.
Opening the book to the marked page, he picked up the dagger and began the laborious task of tracing the illustrated design on the dirt floor of the crypt, between the back wall and the oversize stone sarcophagus. It took a while -- the pattern was intricate and dense -- but he forced himself to take his time, ignoring the growing crick in his back and the quiet whimpering from inside the pet carrier. Apparently the tranq he'd used was wearing off faster than advertised.
The pattern completed, he placed the candles in a semicircle around the perimeter, fished a Bic out of his coat pocket, and lit the wicks. The oil went into the bowl and was also set alight. Now the real fun could start. Spike knelt in the center of pattern, held the open book in his lap, and began to read.
The text was apparently a 12-th Century Latin translation of an ancient Greek invocation to the God of War. Spike's Latin was rudimentary, but Giles' notes in the margin helpfully explained that the spell had been used by aging or crippled veterans to restore their ability to do battle. Not quite a perfect match, but close enough for jazz, as far as Spike was concerned. He was out of action, through absolutely no fault of his own. He wanted to kick ass again. Surely, a God of War ought to appreciate that.
Still chanting, he undid the string on the spice pouch and poured the contents over the bowl. A thick, pungent smoke rose from the flames. Spike choked back a cough, but didn't break the rhythm of the chant. The air around him seemed to thicken. He wasn't sure if it was the smoke, or the heat from the burning oil, or an actual side effect of the magic, but he was reasonably sure that if he'd been still alive, he'd be sweating bullets by now. It wasn't an entirely pleasant feeling. Then again, it was about to get much worse.
Rising to his feet, he reached over to lift the pet carrier and place it in front of him, careful not to disturb the spell pattern in the process. This was one of those moments when a minion would've been pretty damned useful, but little luxuries like that were in short supply lately. So he had to lift the lid and haul out the sacrifice all by himself, mumbling in medieval Latin all the while. *This bloody well better be worth it.*
The notes for the spell specified only "a black dog." Spike had chosen a Rottweiler because he figured a War God would appreciate something vicious. Of course, he then had to drug it and muzzle it, which kind of cut down on the viciousness factor… He held the dog up by the scruff, frowning critically. It made another whimpering sound, and batted the air with one paw. *Pathetic. Might as well have brought a toy poodle. Oh well, here goes…* Mentally bracing himself, he tightened his grip on the dagger and slit the dog's throat in one lightning-fast motion.
The pain hit instantly, a white-hot stab in the back of his skull that drove him to his knees. He clenched his jaw, groaning harshly through his teeth. Blue lights danced in his vision. He was vaguely aware of the dog's dead weight slipping from his grip, the hot blood gushing over his hands; he could only hope that enough of it would get into the bowl. According to the book, he was supposed to douse the flames with the stuff, but he was in no condition to pay attention to details at the moment.
Slowly, the agony receded and his vision cleared. The first thing Spike saw, as he blinked away tears, was the bowl, now filled with a rather unpleasant-looking mixture of blood, oil, and floating specks of burnt spices. The second thing was a pair of black leather boots. They had *not* been there before, Spike was reasonably sure of that. His first thought was that the Initiative had found him somehow, but the Initiative was gone. Besides, the boots had steel toes and studded straps, and looked decidedly non-regulation. Feeling rather curious now, Spike slowly looked up at the new arrival.
Oh, yeah. Definitely non-reg. Too much leather, too much silver, too much skin. And that was no pansy-ass dress-up sword at his hip either. The bloke was big, taller and broader than Spike, with a great deal of muscles bulging out everywhere, but none of that was enough to impress William the Bloody, who'd faced down everything from uppity Slayers to Master vampires in his time. It was the eyes that got him, and the scent.
*Not human. Not demon.* The back of Spike's neck felt suddenly cold. He wiped his hands off on his jeans -- a pointless gestures, since vampires didn't get sweaty palms -- and rose to his feet. When in doubt, be brazen.
"Who the devil are you?"
The stranger smirked, the dark, alien eyes never wavering from Spike's face. "I could ask you the same question." His voice was low and rich, with an undertone of amusement that was really rather insulting when Spike thought about it.
"I asked you first."
"Ah, but you shouldn't need to ask." The smirk grew more pronounced. The stranger folded his arms across his chest and took a step closer. Spike had to force himself not to back up. "Not after all the trouble you've just gone through to call me here. Though why you thought *that* would sweeten the invitation, I have no idea." He looked down with an expression of annoyed distaste, and prodded the Rottweiler's limp corpse with one gleaming steel toe.
"Don't look at me, mate." Spike shrugged with all the nonchalance he could muster. "The book said sacrifice a black dog, I just followed instructions."
"Figures." The stranger picked the book up from the dirt where Spike had left it, and glanced at the pages with an expression of amused curiosity. "Amazing what those Romans used to come up with. All right, then." He let the book drop and folded his arms again. Spike began to think that the guy just liked showing off his biceps. "You asked for me. I'm here. What do you want?"
"I did not as--" Spike began, then broke off as realization finally set in. "Whoa. Hold on a minute, mate. Are you trying to tell me that you're… Mars?"
"I prefer Ares." The god took another step forward, and this time Spike had to back up, or get his feet trampled by those steel-toed boots. "The Romans may have appreciated me more, but the Greeks always had more fun. But enough about me." He dropped his voice to a throaty rumble, so deep Spike could feel it vibrating in his boot soles. "Let's talk about you. What do you want from me?"
"I--" Vampires didn't need to pause for breath, or to lick their lips, but Spike found himself doing both, much to his embarrassment. He clenched his fists, digging the nails hard into his palms, and the small pain distracted him enough to recover his nerve. "I want that bloody chip out of my head. I want to kick some ass again. Slayer ass, preferably, but anything non-demony would do for a start."
"I see. And I'm supposed to care because…"
"You're the God of War, ain't you? You're supposed to want warriors. I was a pretty damn good one before the Initiative decided to play doctor, and I'd be one again if you get a move on here."
"You're no warrior." Ares drew back his lips and bared his teeth in an expression that went through all the motions of a smile without actually being one. "You just kill to eat."
"Not true!" Spike drew himself up, affronted. "I like it! I have a knack for it, if I do say so myself. Not that I'm opposed to eating, mind you. But if you're looking for a good spot of gratuitous slaughter, I'm you man… vamp… whatever."
"Are you now?" Ares' not-smile grew wider. "Maybe I'll take you up on that. Let's see about that chip now." He reached out and rested one hand lightly on the back of Spike's head. "Is that where it is?"
"That's my guess. I wasn't exactly paying attention when they put it in." Spike was having a hard time keeping still. Ares' hand felt unnaturally hot, and the scent -- blood, sweat, musk, and something else that he couldn't quite identify though it made his skin creep -- was overwhelming at this close range. To make things even more unnerving, his body was responding in ways it generally didn't to blokes. Well, hardly ever, anyway. And Angelus didn't count -- Spike had never met a vamp that wasn't at least a little bit hot for their sire, even if the sire looked like a toad. Which Angelus didn't. And neither did this guy. This god. This god who was now leaning forward to--
Spike put both hands on Ares' chest and pushed, but it was like trying to move a brick wall. He tried to step back, but Ares' hand held him in place. He opened his mouth to protest, and found himself being kissed. Quite thoroughly. Spike was not exactly unaccustomed to aggressive kissing, but the way Ares' tongue was making itself at home in his mouth was just plain… rude. Pulling away wasn't an option, so Spike planted his feet, shifted into his vampire face, and sank his fangs into Ares' lower lip.
*Fire.* Liquid flame flooding his mouth, searing his throat, a wave of sensory overload that didn't really feel like pain, but was far too intense for pleasure. Spike's legs buckled, but he couldn't fall. Ares held him upright, one hand on the back of his head, the other on his ass, arms like steel bars supporting the vampire's weight with no apparent effort.
"Poor little vampire…" The purring voice at his ear was Spike's first clue that Ares had broken their kiss. His senses were still haywire; he could see nothing but blurs, feel nothing but the heat of Ares' blood scouring him from the inside out. "Didn't anyone warn you about drinking a god's blood?"
"It--" Spike's voice cracked, and he had to cough and start again. "It never… really… came up in conversation before. Thanks for the pointer, though…" It was difficult to speak, or even think. All the heat inside him seemed to be pooling in his crotch, and he found himself wriggling inside his jeans, trying to rub his aching cock against the coarse denim, but it was too tight, he couldn't get any friction going…
Something thick and solid shoved itself between his thighs, and he rubbed against it gleefully for a few moments before he realized that he was humping Ares' leg. Even after the realization sunk in, it took three or four more thrusts before he could make himself stop.
"Fuck," he growled. His vision was slowly clearing, and he could see Ares' face above him now, still smirking. A smear of blood glistened red-black on the bearded chin, and Spike found that he couldn't quite decide if he wanted to recoil from it or to lick it clean, to see if the explosion would be equally intense the second time around. "Fuckfuckfuck…"
"I'm getting there." Ares cupped both hands around Spike's ass, lifting the vampire clear off his feet and plonking him down on top of the sarcophagus. The carved stone lid wobbled a bit, and Spike had to grip the edge to keep his balance.
"Wait--" he began, but before he could decide how he wanted to end that sentence, there was an electric shimmer all over his skin, and when it cleared, his clothes were gone. Well, not quite all his clothes. He was still wearing his duster and his Doc Martens, but aside from that he was totally and unexpectedly naked. And so was Ares, except for the boots.
Spike did his best not to look impressed, but it wasn't easy. The rest of the god's body was a good match for his biceps -- all gleaming bronze skin and hard, bulging muscles. No tan lines. A light dusting of curly dark hairs across the chest and stomach, thickening to a triangular thatch of black at the groin. And speaking of hard and bulging…
Spike was so distracted by the sight, he barely noticed when Ares pushed him down to sprawl on his back across the sarcophagus, with his legs dangling over the edge. Didn't really register it when hands stronger than any demon's lifted his knees toward his chest and spread his thighs wide. Only when a pair of callused fingers probed his ass did he fully snap back to the reality of the situation.
"Whoa! Easy, mate, I'm not-- aaaah…"
"Not what?" Ares moved his hand in slow circles, massaging just the right spot, making Spike's back arch in response. There was some sort of lube on the fingers, conjured up from thin air apparently. "Not ready? I'd say you are…" He withdrew his hand and gripped Spike by the hips, pulling him forward to the edge of the stone lid. "Close your eyes and think of England."
And then that cock that he was absolutely, positively *not* over-impressed by was sliding into his ass, slowly, way too fucking slowly, but when he tried to thrust back Ares held him down, controlling the pace, and smirking the whole time, the smug bastard. Even with his whole body trembling and his cock threatening to explode, Spike managed to be annoyed at that. Not that annoyance made the slightest bit of difference.
Ares gave a low, satisfied grunt, completing the penetration, then pulled back again before Spike had a chance to adjust. The next thrust came a little faster, then next one faster still, and then they were both bucking wildly, no pretense of control left. Spike pumped his cock with one hand, gripping the edge of the sarcophagus lid with the other. He could feel rough stone scraping at his back, probably ripping him bloody, but what did it matter anyway, he'd heal soon enough, assuming he actually survived this without disintegrating to his component atoms, which felt like a long shot at the moment…
Ares leaned forward, planting his hands on either side of Spike's head. Sweat dripped from his body, hot drops leaving zigzag trails across Spike's cool skin. One landed on a nipple, and Ares bent to suck it off, biting down once, hard, before rising up to resume the fucking.
The pain was slight but shocking, an unexpected extra jolt, and something inside Spike's head snapped in response, like a small, contained explosion going off. Snarling, he shifted back to his vampire face, craned his neck, and sank both fangs into Ares' left wrist.
He timed it just right. The sensory rush of god's blood hit him a split second before he came. He screamed, gouged his hands into the stone beneath him, felt his whole body clench and spasm, again and again, seemingly forever but not nearly long enough. When it stopped, he could do nothing more than lie where he was, exhausted to the point of numbness. It took a great deal of effort just to blink.
Eventually, a measure of strength returned, and Spike turned his head to see Ares sprawled next to him, propped up on his elbows, one leg drawn up and the other dangling over the edge of the sarcophagus. The god's body gleamed with sweat, and a smear of cum marked the inside of one thigh. The wrist that Spike had bitten was unmarked though, no blood, not even a scar. Spike himself felt thoroughly sticky inside and out, but he couldn't quite work up the energy to do anything about it just yet.
"See?" Ares' grin was just as insufferably smug as before. "I told you you were ready."
"Yeah," Spike muttered, pleased to find that his voice didn't shake at all. Well, hardly, anyway. "That wasn't half bad…"
Ares' expression darkened for a moment, but then he threw his head back and laughed, a rich, rumbling sound that Spike would've probably found sexy if he wasn't so bloody exhausted. "I like you, Spike. You've got balls."
"I've also got a chip in my head. You planning to do something about it anytime soon?"
"What, you're still worried about that? It's gone."
It took a moment for the words to penetrate Spike's sex-fogged brain. When they did, he actually tried to sit up, but got only as far as lifting his head. "Gone? What just like that?"
"You were expecting brain surgery, maybe? I'm a *god*."
"You're a pain in the ass." Spike raised his arms and stretched, wincing as his muscles protested the exertion. "In more ways than one. Can I have my clothes back?"
"Sure. When I'm done looking." Ares leered at him, quirking one
black eyebrow, then mimicked Spike's stretch, looking for all the world
like a large, sleek, and entirely too self-satisfied cat. "In the
meantime, let's chat. You were saying something earlier about gratuitous