Relationship: Boyfriend

by Saber ShadowKitten
Brass Knackers 6

"Spike?" Xander called as he entered the crypt where Spike made his home. "Spike, are you here?"

A few candles barely cut through the darkness of the crypt. It was close to midnight, much later than Xander had anticipated seeking out the blond vampire, but he'd had things he needed to accomplish before the stores closed.

On the way home from the art museum, Xander had decided that if he really wanted Spike, there was going to be no halfway. Spike would be invited into his life completely, even with the threat of possible death if the blond ever got the chip removed. Love meant acceptance and, in this instance, it meant accepting the fact that Spike was, first and foremost, a vampire. He might be more in touch with his feelings than other vampires, but he was still an unrepentant killer.

However, Spike was currently chipped and, Xander hoped, in love with him. Xander wasn't going to worry about tomorrow; tomorrow would take care of itself. It was today that was important, it was the now he had to live in, and he had a feeling the present would be much, much sweeter if Spike was sharing his life.

"Spike?" Xander ventured further into the crypt. It was possible that Spike was out doing whatever it was he did on a Thursday night at midnight. But Buffy had said that Spike had been scarce the last few weeks, so Xander prayed that meant the vampire was home.

"Go away."

And there Spike was, slumped in a chair and staring at a blank television screen. His voice was emotionless, cold. The candles cast shadows in the hollows of his cheeks and under his eyes, making his handsomely chiseled face appear gaunt. At least, Xander hoped the candles were the reason and that it was not because Spike hadn't been feeding properly.

Xander leaned against the stone coffin, his hands gripping the edge in nervousness. He looked everywhere but at the vampire. This was it, he thought. Last chance to bail. If he didn't say anything, he could pretend Spike meant nothing to him but a good lay. Everything in his life would stay the same, if he left right now.

Xander straightened and looked directly at Spike. "I'm sorry," he began. Spike snorted, still staring at the blank television. Xander set his jaw. He knew apologizing to the stubborn male wouldn't magically make things better, but it was a start.

"I'm sorry," the brunette repeated. "I'm sorry that I basically treated you like a whore. I'm sorry that I hurt your feelings," another snort, which he ignored, "and I'm sorry that you had to wait so long to get an apology from me that you definitely deserve."

He pulled out a set of keys from his coat pocket and moved to set them on top of the television set. "Two more things, then I'll get out of your hair," Xander went on. He cleared away the knot that had suddenly formed in his throat. "First, I miss you," he said somewhat gruffly, "and secondly... I love you."

Xander stuck his hands in his pockets and, not waiting for Spike to respond, started for the door. "That's all I have to say," he told the blond. "I hope I'll see you at home."

The crypt door closed with a click. To Xander, it sounded like hitting an empty chamber in a game of Russian Roulette. How fitting, he thought as he headed out of the cemetery for the car. He was gambling with his life by admitting to Spike his love, only he didn't know if the bullet represented Spike returning his love... or not.


Spike hated whiners. He despised those who begged -- including himself when he did it -- and couldn't tolerate excuses. You either did something or you didn't; why wasn't important, only the outcome.

The first week, he'd expected Xander to come crawling to him, loaded down with excuses for how he'd acted and begging for forgiveness. The second week, Spike had been ready for Xander to whine about how busy he was with his job or with the ex-demon bitch, and that was the reason why it'd taken him so long to come beg for forgiveness. Spike had his well-thought out slams prepared to cut the boy to the quick, and a plan to press the whelp into sexual servitude.

By the third week, Spike realized he'd been nothing but a whore to Xander, except he hadn't gotten paid for services rendered.

Was it fate's cosmic joke that he always fell in love with those who only wanted him for sex? Was he forever cursed to be the substitute, instead of the truly wanted? Angelus, Drusilla, and now Xander. Three brunette beauties who had loved someone else but settled for him when those loves were unavailable.

Spike was planning on leaving Sunnydale. He didn't know where he was going yet, but it would be somewhere far away, where he could lick his wounds and maybe find a way to get the chip out of his head. As soon as Rupert returned from his trip, Spike was going to nick the Watcher's keys and new motor -- contrary to popular belief, the vampire had no clue how to hotwire an automobile -- and say goodbye to the Hellmouth forever.

That was the plan, anyway, until Xander showed up at the crypt. The moment Spike heard the boy's voice, his plan to leave flew out the window. Instead, he geared himself up to listen to some groveling, had the slams on the tip of his tongue, ready to use, and pictured the brunette on his knees, a position he'd be in far into the foreseeable future.

Except, Xander hadn't groveled, or begged, or whined, or made excuses for what he'd done. No, he simply walked in, apologized without excuses, professed love, and left again.

Spike didn't know what to do. He'd prepared for an apology -- Xander was part of the goody-goody gang -- and to go back to being the boy's fucktoy -- Spike was used to being treated like that -- but he hadn't expected Xander to say, "I love you." Spike hadn't expected anyone to ever say "I love you" to him. The closest he'd ever gotten was Harm's "I love my Blondie Bear," which meant the same as her saying, "I love Antonio Banderas." Drusilla had never said she loved him, those words and that emotion were reserved for her Daddy. She had great affection for Spike, but she hadn't loved him. And Angelus. Ha!

But Xander had said the words. Xander Harris, the puppyish man-child Spike was arse-over-tit for, had said he was in love with him, Spike. Him.

Or was he?, Spike thought. What if it was simply guilt? What if Xander was treating the vampire like he would a girl, smoothing over fights with words of love so that he could get laid? He had commented on several occasions that Spike was the best shag he'd ever had, a little fact that ever-so-nicely stoked Spike's ego. But what if that's all it was, an excellent lay, and Xander was just saying those words because he felt guilty over what'd happened? Or worse, what if it was pity? "Poor Spike, he's all alone because no one wants to be associated with a fixed vampire. I guess since I, Xander, am part of the Get-Along Gang, it's my duty to play with the invalid."

Spike clenched his jaw in self-disgust. Xander didn't really love him. No one could really love a pathetic, impotent tosser like him. Xander was a right bastard for getting his hopes up.

The vampire shot off the chair, grabbed the keys and his duster, and stormed out of the crypt. He and Xander were going to have a few words.


Spike rubbed his eyes and looked at the door again. It was still there, neatly stuck to the buzzer beneath the peekhole. "Xander Harris and Spike," etched into a small brass plate.

The vampire rubbed his finger over the lettering. It was real, one of those plates from that Things Remembered store. And it had his name on it.

Shaking off the disquiet he felt, Spike used the keys Xander gave him to open the door. "Xander," he called, entering the apartment. "I want to talk to you, whelp."

There was no answer. Shutting the door behind him, Spike ventured further into the lighted apartment and came to an abrupt halt. Things were different in the place since the last time he'd been there. Heavy black-out drapes hung partially closed over the large, curved window. There was an ashtray on the kitchen counter, one on the dining table, and a third on the end table beside the couch.

A framed picture sat on the end table next to the ashtray, and Spike walked over and picked it up. He blinked several times in shock. It was him and the boy, standing almost nose-to-nose at the Magic Shop, yelling at each other. In the photograph, they looked as though they were either about to strangle one another or fall into a mad, passionate kiss.

He remembered when Dawn had taken the picture with her new camera, and how the flash had startled them out of whatever they'd been fighting about. Something to do with the Slayer, Riley, her mother, and the end of the world. The usual stuff. He hadn't realized that Dawn had gotten the pictures developed, or that Xander had claimed the photo.

Spike set the picture down, turned, and quickly made his way into the bedroom. "Xander?" he called, a strange knot forming in the pit of his stomach. No human in the bedroom, but there was a neatly made double bed that hadn't been there a month ago, twin night-stands -- one cluttered, one clear except for a lamp and an ashtray -- and a chest of drawers.

Swallowing nervously, the vampire crossed to the closet, opened the door, and pulled the light string. He saw exactly one half of the closet taken up by Xander's things, the other half empty -- as if waiting for someone to fill itt.

In the bathroom, there were two towels side-by-side on the rack. An unopened black toothbrush sat in the holder beside a used blue one. The type of hairgel he used was in the medicine cabinet.

There was Weetabix in the kitchen cabinet, blood in the refrigerator, and a carton of his brand of smokes on the counter.

On the dining table, there was a half-filled out form to take on a roommate. Next to Spike's name and under the word "Relationship" was written, "Boyfriend."

"Geyagh," Spike squeaked, grabbing the back of a dining chair as the world suddenly tilted.


"Aaah!" Spike jumped and spun towards the door. Xander stood in the small foyer area, removing his coat. "Don't bloody scare me like that!"

"Sorry," Xander apologized, hanging up his coat. He stuck his hands in his pants pockets and walked further into the apartment, coming to a nervous halt near the kitchen. He licked his lips, cleared his throat, and said, "I'm glad you're home."

"I don't live here."

"You do, if you want to," Xander said.

"And why would I want to?" Spike asked bluntly.

Xander looked right at him, meeting his gaze squarely. "Because I love you, and I was hoping that you still loved me."

Spike couldn't breathe. At that moment, he didn't remember that he didn't use his lungs anymore. He blinked owlishly at the boy, the same way he did seemingly like eons ago after Xander had kissed him for the first time.

A small smile played upon Xander's lips. He crossed to Spike and stopped directly in front of the vampire. "I'm going to kiss you," the brunette said softly. "Once I do, I'm not going to let you leave. So, if you don't want to be my boyfriend, with everything that includes, stop me."

Xander silently counted to ten, his fingernails cutting into his palms in his pockets, wondering if Spike would say something. When the blond didn't, a huge smile blossomed across Xander's face. "I love you," he said, and pressed his lips to Spike's.

Holy bloody crap!, Spike thought. He was being kissed by Xander... who loved him!

Shock froze the vampire in place as Xander's tongue slipped past his lips and brushed against his palate. Memories of that first kiss slammed into him, along with what had followed, causing his cock to swell beneath his jeans. With a moan, Spike wrapped his arms around Xander's waist and pulled him close.

Xander slid his hand in the back of Spike's hair and angled his mouth over the blond's, deepening the kiss. Oh gods, Xander thought, the scent of the vampire tickling his senses and sending bolts of arousal straight to his groin. It'd been so long since he'd held this man in his arms. Too long.

"Xander," Spike whispered against the brunette's lips. "Love you."

Xander inhaled a shaky breath at the words, then tightened his hold on Spike's hair and proceeded to kiss him senseless. His mouth moved against the other man's, possessive and branding. Why did he ever hurt this creature?

Spike lost his duster, and was working on pulling Xander's shirt from his trousers. Xander toed off his shoes, his free hand tugging at the vampire's belt buckle. When he couldn't get it undone, the brunette growled in frustration and broke the kiss. "Naked, now," he demanded, and yanked his shirt off.

Spike's eyes flashed golden and his nostrils flared at the dictate. Quickly, he stripped out of his clothing, the tee-shirt and jeans joining Xander's on the floor. His cock jumped at the sight of the other man's nude body. Bloody hell, how he wanted to feel the boy against him, surrounding him, loving him.

Xander held out his hand, and with a lift of an eyebrow, Spike took it. But instead of going to the bedroom, the brunette lead Spike over to the curving window. He was surprised when he saw one of the dining chairs behind the couch near the window, and even more so when he saw the tube of lubricant on the seat. "Having a bit of a perv, Xander?"

"Not yet," Xander slyly answered. He pulled Spike in front of him, slid his hands around the vampire's waist and covered the other man's privates. Resting his chin on Spike's shoulder, Xander smiled at the ridiculous picture they made in the window's reflection. "I look like a dork."

"You do look rather silly in that position, pet," Spike conceded. "Now, mind telling me what we're doing in front of your window, when there's all sorts of people in that park out there?"

"We're in front of the window because there's all sorts of people in the park," Xander replied.

Spike paused a moment before saying, "I left my Xander-English dictionary at home, luv. Would you mind repeating that in a way that makes sense?"

"Okay, see those people?" Xander began. "They're having their annual Adult Scout Troop Leader Overnight. Buffy and the others are also there, keeping the mosquitos away. I'm supposed to be out there, too."

"Instead, you're up here with your very own mosquito," Spike said dryly.

"Yes, shut up, lemme finish so we can have sex," Xander said. Spike chuckled, and the brunette kissed his shoulder. "Now, mosquito boy, I am in love with you, and I'm not going to hide that fact. I want everyone to know that you and I are together. If someone calls, they'll get an answering machine recording with both of our names. If I go out with my co-workers and they're bringing their wives and girlfriends, I'll be bringing you. If I want to kiss you in public, I'll... probably not do it until we find something to hide behind."

Xander turned Spike to face him and looked seriously into luminous blue eyes. "I want you to be my boyfriend, Spike. My long-term, monogamous, live-in lover and friend, who'll listen to me whine about work and paying bills; who'll put up with my stinky feet and not run away on bean dip night; who'll stand by me while my parents treat me like trash; who'll undoubtably turn me, or simply kill me, once his chip stops working; but, until then, who'll take care of me when I'm sick and stay with me as I grow older.

"I know there are no guarantees, Spike," Xander continued. "This is a new relationship, and we may end up hating each other by the end of the month." He gave the vampire a half smile. "But I'm willing to chance it, if you are."

Xander moved to the chair, picked up the lubricant and held it out to the blond. "So, what do you say? Feel like showing the whole world that you and me are now a 'we'?"

Spike slowly raised his hand and took the tube from Xander. The boy gave him a lopsided grin, knelt backwards on the chair, and wiggled his bare butt. The vampire cleared his throat. "I heard somewhere that the Scouts were anti-gay."

"Then we'll show 'em how wrong they are," Xander said. He wiggled again. "Fuck me."

Spike looked at that ass, looked out the window at the retreat group below, grabbed Xander around the waist and hauled him down to the floor. "Neyah!" the brunette exclaimed in surprise.

Spike maneuvered Xander onto his back and moved over him, their bodies pressed flesh to flesh. Xander looked questioningly at Spike and was about to speak when the vampire shook his head. "You said your pretty speech," he said. "Now, it's my turn. I love you, I want to be with you, and if you hurt me again, I'll kill you."

With that, Spike sealed his mouth over Xander's, kissing him with a hot, hungry passion. Xander moaned and brought his hands up, sliding them around the lean man's body and running them along his back. Xander arched against the vampire, rotating his hips as Spike continued to kiss him breathless.

Panting needlessly, Spike pulled away from Xander and knelt up between the brunette's legs. He fumbled with the tube he'd dropped, and squeezed an over-excessive amount onto his jutting shaft. Xander's fingers closed around the vampire's hard length, and Spike groaned as the boy smoothed the slick substance over him. "Xanderrr..."

Spike stopped Xander's ministrations, positioned the younger man's legs on his shoulders, and rubbed a slicked finger against the boy's opening. Xander watched him with heavy-lidded, desire-filled eyes, his breathing quick and his face flushed. "Ready?" Spike asked.

"And waiting," Xander replied, reaching for the vampire. He cursed softly as Spike slid into him, his face twisting in pleasure. "Missed you there," he said in a breathy pant.

"Missed you, period," Spike rasped. He started to move, and both men groaned low and long at the sensations coursing through them.

Spike captured Xander's lips, his tongue slipping past them to sensually dance with the boy's tongue. Xander's fingers skimmed along Spike's cheeks and jaw, brushed over the shell of the blond's ear and lightly scratched his neck.

The vampire felt himself being pulled too fast to the edge. Xander's body was snug around his shaft, the hot, velvety passage spasming around him with every thrust. He'd been with no one since his last encounter with Xander, and it felt so... bloody... good...

With a growl, Spike tore his mouth from Xander's as he climaxed, pushing his cock as far into the boy as he could. He filled the other man with his come, the brunette's grasping channel milking every drop from him. His face was strained, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, as the intense orgasm was wrung from this body.

Spike pulled out and collapsed onto his side next to Xander, his back against the couch. Panting needlessly, he kept his eyes closed against the jumping white dots clouding his vision. He felt Xander brush a finger from between his brows, down his nose, and over his parted lips. He nipped at the fingertip with his blunt teeth, opened his eyes, and smiled at the boy. "Nice."

Xander took Spike's hand and guided it to the weeping shaft laying heavy against the brunette's abdomen. "Not nice," Xander stated.

Chuckling, Spike grasped the pulsating length in a firm fist and began to pump. He watched as Xander's features contorted in bliss and listened as he moaned and babbled in pleasure. After a few minutes, Xander's hand closed over Spike's and together they stroked him into a fiery orgasm, his viscous emissions splattering onto their joined hands, Xander's stomach and chest.

"Phew," Xander breathed dramatically, his body going limp. "Now that was nice."

"Mm-hmm," Spike agreed, tracing patterns in the off-white fluid on Xander's chest.

Xander's stomach abruptly let out a loud rumble, causing both men to laugh. "So much for post-coital lovey-dovey stuff," the brunette said.

"Oh, I don't know, pet," Spike said. "Nothing says love more than a cold beer and blood-drenched pizza."

"What about vomit?"

"That's only if you're a Woperfel."


They looked at each other for a second, then burst out laughing again. Shaking his head, Spike was the first to get to his feet, and he held out a hand to help Xander up. Spike noticed Xander's gaze drift out the window, and he rolled his eyes. "Go shower, luv, then get dressed and meet up with your chums."

"How did you...," Xander started to say, then saw Spike's look and smiled. He dropped a kiss on the shorter man's forehead and headed towards the bathroom.

Spike waited until the bathroom door had closed before he let out an enthusiastic, "YES!" He head-banged to the air guitar he played a riff on. Then he noticed that he was acting like a loon in front of the open window and felt his face flame. It was one thing to act like a wild, devil-may-care vampire, but it was quite another to act like a hyper juvenile with his naughty bits flopping around for everyone to see.

After closing the drapes, the vampire slipped on his jeans, used the phone, then lit up a smoke. The calming vice did nothing to still the phrase revolving around his mind. Xander really was in love with him... Xander really was in love with him...

Dressed and armed, Xander returned to the living room ten minutes later to find Spike sprawled on the couch, staring into space. With a grin, he crossed to the vampire and flicked his ear. Spike started, then gave him a nasty look. "I'm heading out. It's...," Xander glanced at the clock, "...nyah, almost two in the morning. I'll be back when the sun rises to catch a few z's before I have to go to work."

Xander gave Spike an uncertain look. "You, uh, will be here when I come back, right?"

"Naked, nubile women wanting me for an orgy couldn't drag me away," Spike replied.

"Good." Xander gave him a tremulous smile, and walked to the front door. He put on his coat, put his hand on the doorknob, and looked back at Spike. "Hey, if those naked nubiles come calling, tell them to wait for me."

Spike laughed. "Will do, pet."

Xander nodded, then left to go join his friends.


"Hello, ladies," Xander greeted, joining Buffy, Willow, and Tara around a small gas stove that was acting as a fire. "How are the troopers?" He grinned at his own pun.

"Alive and still singing," Buffy told him, gesturing to the large group of men and women sitting around a real camp fire a short distance away. "We've chased away about a dozen vamps, mostly loners."

"They must not have gotten the flyer about the Scout Buffet," Xander commented.

"Where have you been, Xander? I thought you said midnight," Willow asked, passing him a cup Tara had filled with coffee. "And why do you look all glowy? Did you and Anya get back together?"

Xander laughed. "No, Anya and I are definitely over with. I've moved onto blonder pastures."

"Ooh, sounds like the Xand-man's got a new hottie," Buffy teased.

"That is affirmative, Buff," Xander said. "I am in luuuuhhvve."

"Is it someone we know?" Tara asked quietly. "Like, from the college?"

"It's Spike."

Abrupt silence. Then Buffy and Willow started to laugh. "Spike!" Buffy giggled. "Spike!"

"Xander, if you don't want to tell us, that's fine," Willow said.

Xander winked at Tara, who was giving him an understanding smile. "I'm telling you the truth, ladies. As of today, the bleached one is my new snuggle bunny."

Buffy started to laugh harder. "Oh God... Spike... bunny suit," she snorted, "Playboy bunny suit!"

A vision of Spike wearing Playboy bunny ears and a g-string with a cotton tail popped into Xander's head. His lips began to twitch as the image took out a carrot and made lewd, suggestive gestures with it. Snork. "No," snigger, "that's not what I meant."

He took a sip of hot coffee and nestled it in the grass beside him. "Seriously," he said, speaking over Buffy's titters. "Spike and I are now together, and I'd appreciate it, Buffy, if you wouldn't beat him up. If you need information, just ask him, or ask me to ask him. Got it?"

"Oh my goodness, you really are with Spike," Willow gasped.

Buffy stared at the brunette in shock. "You're not kidding, are you?"

Xander shook his head. "No jokers here. Spike's my boyfriend, so get used to it."

Buffy moved suddenly, pinning Xander against the ground with a stake poised over his heart. "Yikes!" he yelped, as she slapped her free hand over his neck. She narrowed her eyes at him briefly, then abruptly relaxed.

"Sorry, Xan," Buffy said, climbing off of him. "Just wanted to make sure you hadn't been turned."

"Uh, no," Xander said, sitting up and rubbing the center of his chest. "Still alive and crapping my pants, thank you very much."

"I- I'm happy for you, Xander," Tara said, breeching the silence that had descended. "Spike is, um...," she trailed off with a pained look.

"Homicidal? Sociopathic?" Xander supplied with a grin, setting his knocked-over coffee cup upright. "Evil? Cute?"

"Uh, the- the last one will do," Tara grinned shyly back.

"Well, I guess, if you're happy, Xander, I'm happy," Willow ventured worriedly.

"I'm uber-happy, Wills," Xander told her. "Hey, and now you two aren't the only openly bi-couple in our group."

"That's a, um, plus." Willow frowned. "You're not with Spike because you feel left out on the whole 'dating the same sex' front, are you?"

"No," Xander chuckled. "I'm with Spike because Cordy pointed out that I was in love with him. And I am. Head-over-heels, one hundred percent, ridiculously in love with the peroxide doofus."

"Xander, what you are is one hundred percent certifiably insane," Buffy stated. "Spike is... Spike. Chipped vampire, so currently harmless on the 'I'll kill you while you sleep' scale, but he's still evil. He can still hurt you."

"Just like I can hurt him, and you can hurt Riley, and Willow and Tara can hurt each other," Xander said. "No relationship is perfect, Buffy, you know that."

"Yeah, I know," Buffy sighed. "I'll pretend to be a mature adult and say it doesn't bother me. Just be careful, all right?"

"I will," Xander replied.

"Good. And remember, say the word and Spike's dust," Buffy said. A few seconds later, she screwed up her face. "Wait, does this mean I have to be nice to him?"

Xander laughed. "No, you can stay your usual bitchy self."


"You know, with the amount of noise you lot are making, a herd of Omibrakn could stampede through the park and you wouldn't hear it." Spike came out of the shadows, a sneer on his face, carrying two thin cardboard boxes and a six-pack of bottled beer.

"They might have, but when they saw your face, they fled in the opposite direction," Buffy told him.

"Funny," Spike said dryly as he handed Xander the boxes. "Just for that, you can't have any pizza."

"Pizza?" Buffy perked up. "You brought pizza?"

Xander looked half-hungrily, half-warily at the boxes on his lap. "They're not... vampire-topped pizzas, are they?"

Spike chuckled and set the beer beside the young man. "No, pet. They're cheese and sausage."

"Sorry, Tara," Willow said to her girlfriend, "but I want Spike to be my boyfriend now. He has pizza."

Tara's lips twitched she suppressed a smile. "But I brought you coffee."

"I don't know..." Willow pretended to think about it. "It's sausage pizza..."

Xander cleared his throat. "First of all, my boyfriend, so hands off. Secondly, my pizza... but I'll share if you beg nicely."

Spike looked down at Xander in surprise as Willow and Buffy began to beg the boy for a slice. When Xander had told Spike he wasn't going to keep their relationship a secret, the vampire hadn't realized Xander had actually meant it. A happy, bubbly feeling expanded in Spike's chest. Xander was really in love with him.

"Hey, Peter Cottontail," Xander said, tugging on Spike's jeans. Buffy and the Witches suddenly started laughing uproariously, and Spike had a feeling it was him they were laughing at.

"What?" he growled at Xander.

"Are you going to join us?" Xander asked seriously, although a smile hovered on his lips.

Spike snorted. "No, thanks. My idea of fun does not include sitting around a camp stove, sharing stories with Larry, Darrell, and Darrell."


The vampire shook his head. "Never mind. I'll see you later."

"'K," Xander said. As Spike started to walk away, the brunette called after him, "Pizza and cold beer to you, too."

Spike looked over his shoulder, smiled, then disappeared into the night. Xander sighed, faced the girls again, and found them watching him with undisguised 'sappy female' expressions. "Be quiet and eat your food," he said.

Grinning, Willow swallowed the bite in her mouth and asked, "So, Xander, tell us, complete with juicy detail, how did you and Spike get together?"

Xander chuckled. "Well, it all started out with a plot of revenge and me having, as Spike would say, the brass knackers to pull it off..."