Paths We Were Meant to Take

by
Akasakasan

It was amazing how Xander always ended up back in the Basement of Doom. Trapped inside those four awful mouldy walls that seemed to absorb all the cold and misery in the house, it suddenly hits him that this might be the rest of his life. Lost and alone in the shadows of his parent’s house, a place that was meant to be a shelter but to a small brown-haired boy, afraid and confused, it had never really been a home. Even now, there were barely any personal relics decorating the place, no treasured possessions to give the dingy basement a homier feel. Anything breakable and precious was stored at Willow’s, while anything nostalgic was hidden in a box in his cupboard. He had not collected much over the years, and what he had collected was thrown onto the curb while he was away in Oxnard.

High school, the road trip, slaying, and all the jobs he had worked; all ties led back to the same place. It seemed that no matter how hard he tried to escape the basement, it just kept reeling him back in. Anya had offered him to leave with her as she packed her bags and headed out of Sunnydale. She wanted to go everywhere and anywhere- Thailand, Russia, Belgium, Mali, Tibet, and France. He had been so tempted; the need to travel somewhere further than Oxnard bubbling in his veins like the finest champagne. It was a desire born out of desperation and agreement had been on the tip of his tongue. One simple word and his life would change dramatically; he would finally be free of the accursed basement forever. But Xander thought of his friends- his real family- and something inside him had prevented the word from slipping out. Therefore, with a kiss on the cheek and tears in her eyes, Anya was gone and Xander was just as trapped as ever.

The loneliness and the depression that snuck in after Anya had left that made him constantly worry that he had, just like in the myriad of multiple-choice tests that he had taken in school, chosen wrongly. Willow and Buffy were always glad to talk about their problems but his didn’t interest them. They were in college now, too caught up in assignments and finals to reassure Xander that he would eventually find a job, that he should just hold on and keep looking. They had moved on, grown up and found freedom in college while he was forever trapped beneath the sterile basement roof. They didn’t need him for research or for slaying; at the end of the day he was still the same useless Zeppo he had been a year ago.

Spike changed all that. Giles had thrown Spike at him like yesterday’s trash, putting the two broken losers together as if they were nothing, nobody. They had fought and screamed for weeks, hating each other to the core. Spike had threatened that when he got the chip out all that would remain of Xander would be a bones and blood splatter on the walls. Xander had threatened that he would throw Spike into the sun and watch while he burned. On and on, the fights just kept looping on repeat. Then one night Spike had come home early and watched silently as Xander, unknowing that he had an audience, broke down over yet another lost job. The slaying, no matter how unwanted or useless he felt, meant that he would stay up most of the night and work most of the day and Xander drifted through the days on autopilot, making mistake after mistake. That night Spike said nothing but the barbs lessened and the insults lost their sting. They became friends and soon after that lovers, until the day Spike had told Xander he was leaving town and wanted him to come with him. Xander felt his breath catch in his throat. He had always known that this was too good to last. Throwing Spike a look of pure devastation, he had grabbed his coat and stormed out.

Spike had been unsure about why they had fought but he was careful and hesitant with Xander afterwards, as though afraid that Xander would abandon him. Waking up the next morning, sun newly risen in the sky and the crack in the curtains filling patches of carpet with a warm red glow, Xander turned towards Spike, memorising the perfection of the moment, capturing the picture in his mind forever. He buried his face in Spike’s chest and the peace and familiarity of the scene made his heart ache.

“Spike?” Xander whispered hesitantly, voice muffled in Spike’s cool skin.

“Yeah, luv?” Spike replied, his voice heavy with sleep.

“If you still want me I’ll go with you.”

They piled their bags into the Desotto the next day, Xander staring blankly out the window as Sunnydale faded from view. Spike reached the highway, dusty, open, and free and Xander had finally found a road that didn’t lead back to the basement. Breathing in the warm summer air, rays of sunlight peeking out of the poorly applied black paint and gently hitting his face, the tension in Xander’s chest tightened and then abruptly vanished.



The End