Misunderstood and Manly
Strife stood eying the small room. He seemed to take up most of the available space, but that could just be the fact that he was dancing around trying to keep from soiling his only set of clothes. There was a large mirror and he looked at himself with large, blue eyes. He smiled his most maniacal grin and felt marginally better. There were bright lights lining the top of the mirror, and a sink. ‘Dite had a similar set up at her temple, but the water was always running from the water spout and was spelled to stay steamy at all times. He considered momentarily and then began to play with the knobs. Water came gushing out of the spout, as he thought it might, and into the sink and away down the hole in the bottom of it. The sound of water running wasn’t helping his situation though, and he feared there would be plenty of time for investigation later. He fiddled around until the water was no longer running before getting down to business. He giggled. Bet it would be a bitch if these things only spouted icy cold water. He filed that thought away for later shenanigans.
He held the knife up, in front of his wide eyes. It shone with the promise of danger as he twisted it this way and that allowing the light to play along the silver. Strife was impressed with the honed edge the warrior had worked onto his knife. He sighed, pulled up his shirt so that he could see what he was doing and began to cut along the waist of his pants downward. The knife sliced through his battle ready, layered black leathers like they were butter. This spoke of a care for weaponry that Ares would appreciate in a dedicated soldier. Strife considered the knife owner and giggled screwing his eyes shut tight as he laughed. That hair of his. It was the exact same shade as Cupid’s.
“A distant cousin? Unc’ has been around the battle field a few times,” he contemplated as he sliced down toward his groin wiggling around in his pants to see if they were moving south yet.
“Don’t want to slice too far,” he frowned and began to cut the leather pants in a different spot on the other side of his hips. He just wanted to be able to wiggle them down enough to pee. Amidst the wiggling and bouncing and tugging a dizzy spell hit Strife. He closed his eyes and concentrated on keeping his feet, wavering a bit as the feeling passed. Gods, he felt like he’d gone three rounds with a hydra. He jumped and his eyes opened wide as he felt a sharp sting and blood welled up were a teeny, tiny wound had spoiled the perfection of his white skin. He hissed out his breath, but otherwise ignored the nuisance pain. He continued cutting leather and wiggling until he could remove his favorite appendage from his pants. Ruby drops of blood dribbled down his skin from the small wound he’d acquired. Quickly, he looked around the room. There was the sink, what looked like a bathing tub, and another bowl full of water connected to what looked to be a holding chamber for more water, judging by the condensation on the chamber. He sat the knife down on the lid to the water chamber and he hoped that he wasn’t going to get yelled at for befouling someone’s washing water as he relieved himself into it. He giggled, causing himself to jerk and spray a little onto the wall, not sure he did care if it was someone’s washing water. They would get a lovely surprise. He just didn’t want to piss off these people he didn’t know very well when his powers were on the fritz.
“And isn't’ that a kick to the divine junk,” he muttered again to himself. He was scared, but that wasn’t an unusual feeling. After all with Discord as “mother” and Ares in charge of his upbringing he’d become good friends with terror. The fear sat in a small lump in his stomach. He wanted to panic. He could feel the antsy, anxiety creeping up his spine and nestling in to crash down on his brain, but he was holding it off as best he could. It was never good to show weakness in front of strangers-or people you knew-for that matter. They had already seen him in a bad way. He didn’t want to give them any more ammunition.
“They didn’t hurt me, though. That man was kind ta me. He felt like a followah, but not how the adults usually feel. Do I have worshippah’s here? I did get nabbed and brought here. That’s something they might do. Is he a priest?” Strife’s anxiety skyrocketed a bit. He didn’t have priests, per say, since he was a minor god who had only reached his majority a few hundred years ago. None of his adult followers were wrapped too tightly either. They were usually bitter and twisted seeking revenge or tip toeing toward mild insanity. He considered the warm cradle of arms he had been in while he was aching on the ground. No, none of his followers would have been so comforting, unfortunately. There were very few true dedicants to Mischief. For some reason crazy and stupid got confused as mischief by the general population. He bared his teeth in a grimace and his stomach clenched as the walls began to close in on him a bit.
“I hate being helpless,” he whispered.
Shaking his head, and his manhood, he finished. He pulled up the black leather and held it in place. Experimentally, he let go. He wasn’t exactly in danger of flopping out into the open air in front of the women if he went out there, but he had a feeling that things were going to start slipping down as soon as the leather got stretched out a bit. The small stream of blood from his cut was already starting to scab over, but the pants were rubbing it as they moved. He flinched as he mentally prepared himself to face the people on the other side of the door.
They reminded him a little of Xena’s crew-only maybe smarter, but they had the same “do gooder” feeling hanging around them that guaranteed they were going to hate him sooner rather than later. He sighed.
In the living room Spike leaned against the wall near the hallway. Giles was standing in front of Willow, book in hand, explaining that she had most likely injured the young god in his bathroom with the spell she had performed. They were discussing how the addition of a few different herbs and words could have potentially changed the outcome of the situation dramatically.
“I just don’t understand¸ Giles!” Willow said thoughtfully as she frowned over the book he had handed to her as he sat down on the couch and patiently began a deeper explanation of what had possibly gone wrong. He didn’t know for certain, of course, but he hoped they would figure out a solution together.
Xander still sat happily on the floor pulling apart Oreos, licking out the cream center, before he stuck them back together and dipped them in the milk. He was making contented happy noises throughout the process. The whelp was clearly doing his best to ignore the conversation, probably afraid he’d learn something. Spike snorted quietly. His libido took a vague interest in the pink tongue flicking out over the chocolate treats, but he tamped it down. It had been so long since he had anything other than a solo tango he was pretty sure he would take interest in a slime demon. As it was every time he got too close to the witch he “perked up” so to speak. Thank whatever dark gods were in charge of his love life Buffy’s slayer essence was revolting to the demon he shared his body with because if he found himself pounding one out to the bitchy girl he might take a stroll into the morning sun.
Spike’s nose twitched as the smell of something incredibly sweet wafted out into the living room. It seemed to be coming from the bathroom, which was a first. The smell escaped clear definition, but …yes, the honey he had spilled earlier. It smelled like honeyed blood, which was ridiculous. How much honey would one person have to eat for their blood
to smell of it? His nose didn’t lie. He turned his head slowly, scenting the air in a discrete fashion.
“Mmmm,” he moaned softly as his fangs began to ache to drop down into his mouth. His face itched. He wanted to transform into his game face, but Buffy would be on him in a hot minute of he did. She was already in a pissy mood, dripping goop in the kitchen where she had wandered off to forage for food. Blood lust shut down the thinking part of his brain briefly as he slid unnoticed into the hallway. That smell
. He growled and he heard a plate shatter in the kitchen, but continued moving forward until his face was pressed against the door of the bathroom. He could hear movements, a soft voice muttering in Greek. Most importantly, the smell was stronger here. The copper tang of blood layered with sweetness was heavy in the air. He sniffed along the crack where the door met the doorframe and inhaled. He felt his face ripple into the fearsome, protective ridges that allowed him to feed, fight, and fuck like the demon he was. The growl that rumbled up from his chest wasn’t loud, but it was clear. He was going to have that sweet treat. All he needed to do was get into the bathroom.
His hand was on the doorknob when he heard, “Spike?” Xander called to him as if speaking to a child. “Spike, why don’t you come out here with me?” Xander and Buffy were standing behind him in the small hallway. Xander seemed confused, but Buffy seemed calm and confident, which didn’t bode well for her frame of mind. Spike was about to get seriously injured or dead if he didn’t reign in his demon. He knew it, she knew it, and Xander probably knew it, but he was too busy being confused to pay attention to the byplay. Spike turned to look at her and struggled to take over his body from the demon. He was having a problem pulling on his human visage. Even pissed off Slayer wasn’t enough to make the blood in the bathroom seem less important.
“If you could only smell it,” he whispered.
“Get away from that door,” Buffy said in calm, measured tones. “Now.” He made a high pitched keening noise. He needed the blood in the bathroom. There was steel in her voice that Spike didn’t miss. The fact that she was still covered in the gore of her latest battle held sway with the demon. He shook his head, but that smell was maddening and kept dragging his awareness back to the man in the bathroom.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, but I can’t …” he waved vaguely toward his face. Suddenly, he was ashamed. “I’m a fucking Master, not a fucking fledge,” he growled again. “I need to get away from the smell. There’s blood. He’s cut himself.” Still, he couldn’t move away from the door.
Xander shared a look with Buffy and then shot the few feet down the hallway, pulling a startled Spike out of the way. He threw the door open. Surprised, Strife dripped the knife he had been holding. It stuck, point embedded deeply in the faux tile on bathroom floor half an inch from his feet. He took a step back, large blue eyes focused on Xander with what looked like fear, and nearly tumbled into the bathtub. With reflexes honed from years of surviving on Boca del Inferno, Xander shot forward and grabbed the leather clad arms of the Mischief god pulling him away from braining himself on the white porcelain bath tub and flush against his own body. Strife gasped, both at the contact of the shockingly hard muscled body he was pressed up against and at the demonic face that currently replaced the attractive one he’d seen earlier on the blond man. He peered over Xander’s shoulder and didn’t question the relief he felt in the warms arms circling his body. Xander began to run his hands along the Mischief god’s chest. He stopped and pulled Strife’s hands up to inspect them.
“Not that I mind a good man handlin’,” Strife drawled, “especially, when the man doin’ the handlin’ is as hot as you are, but what are you doin’?” Xander took a step back and continued his visual perusal of the god, still holding his hands.
“Spike said you were hurt. He can smell the blood.”
Strife’s eyebrows shot up. “The warriah is a vampire?”
The vampire in question rumbled another growl before a scuffle started in the hallway. Buffy was doing her best to haul Spike out of the area before it turned into an all-out brawl. Xander didn’t turn around, trusting Buffy to fix the problem. He felt his face heating as he saw the tight, black leather pants had ridden low on Strife’s hips from his almost fall, revealing a small line of hair on his lower stomach that disappeared into the now gaping waist band giving him a glimpse of the ghost pale skin leading down to more interesting parts of the god’s anatomy. He was staring. He couldn’t stop. He had the urge to let go of one soft hand and slide his fingers along that line of hair. Shaking his head he continued checking for injuries. What kind of an asshole was he anyway? The guy is hurt and he’s ogling. He felt embarrassed and angry with himself, but he couldn’t stop thinking about that exposed bit of skin.
“He could smell that?” Strife’s face did a good job of advertising his astonishment. He laughed, “it’s only a scratch.”
“Where?” Xander tore his gaze away from the happy trail his eyes had returned to in order to resume aforementioned ogling so he could look up into Strife’s face. He almost immediately found himself captured in true, blue eyes. He forgot to breathe.
“Um…” Strife’s hand drifted down toward his groin. He grabbed the leather and folded back a corner of it displaying what was, indeed, an exceptionally tiny cut. Xander looked and swallowed. Smarter than most people give him credit for, he reached over to the wall and flipped up the switch for the fan in the bathroom before reaching over to swing the door closed.
“Spike’s a vampire, and apparently you smell really, really, good to the things that go bite in the night,” he grinned at Strife. Xander paused for a second, “Did you just call me hot?” Strife shrugged and looked down at the scratch. “Sure, why wouldn’t I? I’ve never seen a vampire before. Do they really suck blood, and all that stuff?”
Xander snorted. “Yes, they do. Are you sure you didn’t hit your head earlier?”
“Nah, feels fine, on the outside at least. Why?”
“Nevermind.” Happy and buzzing from the complement, but still confused, Xander began to dig around under the sink for the alcohol he knew was in the cabinet. He stood up and opened the mirror to look in the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid.
“I’m Xander, by the way. It’s kind of an unspoken rule around here that introductions are supposed to precede playing doctor.” Xander made a happy noise as he found the Band-Aids and pulled out the cotton balls.
“Xandah, huh?” Strife rolled the name around on his tongue. “Xandah. Xandah…I’ve heard of Xerxes and I know a Xena…but, I’ve never heard the name Xandah before.” Strife stood still, continuing to hold the leather out of the way of the wound, gathering what the kind, young man was going to dress his ‘wound’.
“It’s short for Alexander, but no one calls me that except my Mom sometimes or maybe Willow when she’s super angry because she’s known me forever. Willow’s my friend who is a witch, the redhead, kinda cliché, but she had the hair first, you know? Her parents didn’t know she would be a witch or anything. I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean to make a redhead anyway because they don’t have red hair. They’re Jewish. Not that that has anything to do with Willow’s hair. She accidentally brought you here. That’s kind of a long story, actually, but we really didn’t mean to drag you here at all,” Xander paused for a breath-
“Are you a healah?” Strife butted in, familiar with ‘Dite babble he knew that was the only way to do things.
“What?” Xander asked as he dabbed some alcohol on the cut causing Strife to yelp and jump back almost toppling him again as Xander was forced to grab his slim hips to steady the man. His fingers dug into warm, pliable skin and he closed his eyes, face inches away from the almost ghost white skin he was entirely too fascinated by. It was so soft.
“Coulda’ warned a guy!”
“Sorry,” Xander smiled. He found his thumb moving in a small circle without directives from his brain and brought the action to a halt. “I figured…well, maybe you wouldn’t know. Here, hold still. I’m going to wipe the leather down with the alcohol too.”
He reluctantly let go of Strife’s waist and retrieved the fallen cotton ball. Efficiently and quickly he wiped down the leather wanting to get out of what he had begun to think of as “the divine danger zone” of Strife’s stomach and upper groin area framed so appealingly by black leather. He dabbed some ointment onto the small cut and gently applied a Band-Aid. He smoothed it on and smiled up at the god. He stood, still smiling and Strife looked a little flustered as he pulled his pants back to where they were originally and pulled his shirt down.
“Everybody decent?” Buffy’s voice came through the door.
“No.” Xander looked at Strife quickly. Strife shrugged and grinned. His smile was quickly joined by Xander’s as Buffy opened the door anyway.
“Out. Now. This shit is starting to paste my clothes to my skin,” She picked forlornly at her ruined clothing.
“Where’s Spike?” Xander peered out into the empty hallway.
“He went outside to de-fang himself. He said something about God boy here smelling like vampire nip, so Giles is in Super Watcher mode. He’s waiting to ask you about a million boring questions,” her eyes snagged Strife’s and she gave him a sympathetic look before bending down to pull the knife out of the floor.
“Unsafe, much?” She handed it to Strife, apparently deciding that he was less likely of the two to stab himself on the way back to the living room before she stood aside and pointed ominously.
“Geez. Okay, we’re going,” Xander grumbled, allowing Strife to exit first following him out into the living room.
They had taken about two steps when Strife stopped and both hands shot out. He drunkenly leaned against the wall.
“Dizzy,” Strife said feeling weak. Before he knew it he found himself in Xander’s arms again
“Zeus, keep this up and I’m gonna start thinkin’ ya think I’m worth bein’ nice to,” Strife mumbled as he clutched at Xander’s solid frame. The room was spinning, but Xander was a solid tree in the maelstrom. Soon the world calmed down and he was just enjoying the comfort of being held. He had his head cradled on the top of Xander’s shoulder, face in the crook of his neck.
Xander frowned at Strife’s comment, but didn’t say anything. He just tightened the hold he had on him and waited. Eventually Strife straitened.
“Tell me if you start to feel bad, okay?” Strife bared his teeth in a grimace and nodded as Xander led him back into the living room, one arm around him for support. He settled Strife gently onto the couch.
“Here,” Strife said handing the knife in his hand to Xander, “I don’t think I should have this while I’m playin’ damsel in distress.”
“I’ll give it back to Spike.” He disappeared out the front door and Strife finally noticed Giles. He was watching him, which he supposed if he was a watcher, that must be normal.
“Are you Giles?” The man smiled. He seemed very fatherly, or at least Strife guessed that was what fatherly looked like.
“Yes, Rupert Giles.”
“What is it that you watch?”
Giles smiled and then began in a solemn voice as Willow rolled her eyes, “Into every generation she is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one.-“
“A bloody pox on that!” Spike snarled as he opened the front door. Xander followed him in. “I do not
want to hear the bloody slayer prophecy again for the thousandth time. All chosen one this, and rainbows flying out of her butt. Tell him later, and I’m sure you will. You’re going to have some trouble with that one in Sunnyhell if he’s wandering around bleeding all over the place. Is he staying the night here or what?”
Giles stammered, “Now, now see here. The Slayer is a noble calling with a long and storied history-“
“Which we’ve heard before,” Xander cut in. He turned to Spike, “I guess he could stay with me in the basement of doom. It’s kind of lonely now that you’ve got the crypt.”
“Ya, the crypt isn’t really people friendly. Course, it isn’t really vampire friendly either, but I can make due,” he cast a hurt look at Xander.
“Don’t start with me. You know damned well why I asked you to move out.” Spike immediately shut up, and Strife tuned in to the discomfort. Interesting…did that mean?…
“You two are lovahs?” Strife asked sadly from the couch. The idea of a sweet healer being interested had been nice while it lasted. He mentally shoved the hope that had been sputtering to life inside his chest deep down into the box in his mind where all the other almost good things that happened to him lived.
Xander turned an interesting shade of red and Spike laughed while Willow tittered in the armchair covering her face with her hands. Giles sighed.
“Lord, I hope not,” Giles said just loudly enough to be heard over the laughter.
All of the laughter and embarrassment wound down. “So, why does he smell so crazy awesome to vampires?” Xander asked hoping he sounded normal.
Willow had on her thoughtful face. “He is a god. Maybe it’s just a god thing?”
“Ambrosia. They stuff us with it when we are little so that we grow up big an’ strong. It neveh leaves the system. We eat it sometimes when we are really injured too. Least, that’s my best guess.” Strife shrugged as that bubbly happy feeling once again bounced around inside his chest, competing with the panic over his loss of powers.
“Interesting.” Giles was looking at Strife as if he were a bug. He got an uncomfortable feeling.
“Still don’t solve the mystery of how we’re getting him from here to there in one piece. The smell isn’t as strong, but…it lingers. Something’s going to tear the two of you apart on the way to your house from here.”
Strife’s hackles rose. He stood and walked up to the smaller man, the warrior that radiated menace and transformed his features, and got in his face invading his personal space. He backed the shorter man up a few steps as he wore the wild eyed look that had served him well on the battle field.
“I’m a god. An immortal. I’m descended from the House of War and trained by Ares himself. I’ve bathed in the blood of the enemies of Greece. There ain’t nothin’ this side of Cerberus that I can’t at least maim, if not kill, with a weapon. Any
weapon. It’s not the healah’s fault he hasn’t been propahly trained to fight. I can protect him on our journey.” Strife’s ire knew no bounds. He would not be made out as a weakling. Especially not in front of Xander. He picked up the axe Buffy had tossed aside earlier and confidently walked out of the conversation and into the forbidding Sunnydale night.
“Healer?” Giles asked.
“I have no idea G man, but I guess we’re going to my place,” Xander grinned at Spike’s gob smacked look, flipped him the finger, and hurried after Strife. He hated how Spike belittled him and it was extraordinarily satisfying to see someone tell him to shove it. He really hoped that Strife was serious though. They had a long walk to his house.