Pain Pills


The minute Xander walked into Giles’ living room without a word, Spike was instantly suspicious. The boy was too pale, with twin blotches of colour staining his wan cheeks. A khaki ragged coat, uglier than Xander’s usual choice of attire, was draped over hunched shoulders and the boy staggered to a chair in the corner of the room before sitting down with a pained huff. The girls continued talking around them while Giles pressed his nose against a tome dusty and stained enough to have witnessed the extinction of the dinosaurs. Willow had smiled when Xander first walked in and Tara had shyly waved but both had quickly stopped paying attention and had gone back to playing footsies under the table. As for Buffy well… the girl may be the Slayer but she had the attention span of a chipmunk and after shooting Xander a confused look, as though wondering about why he hadn’t said a word, she had gone back to fidgeting.

Spike often spent a good many sleepless nights wondering how such a haphazard group of kids had defeated powerful demons. Spike refused to admit it but he spent longer than he would ever confess to contemplating how on earth a bunch of mismatched and untrained youngsters had defeated him, William the Bloody. It was utter bollocks, completely embarrassing to think about. If Angelus was still around he would have whipped Spike until he bled, his voice low and rasping as he breathed false platitudes into Spike’s ear. One of his favourite fantasies was imagining Angelus tearing the Initiative apart searching for him, fangs flashing and gameface splattered in blood droplets as he ripped off limbs with a savage joy. Then again, if Angelus was still around Spike wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. If Angelus was still around their little qausi-family would be whole.

The thought made Spike snarl and the room turned silent, the girls looking up at him with varying expressions of alarm. Buffy’s hands tightened around the stake she had been twirling, shooting him a glare that promised swift and painful death. And Xander. Xander just sat there, head down, like he didn’t know where he was. Spike wouldn’t admit it under pain of torture but deep down he was worried about Xander.

The girls finally returned to their books and Buffy had stopped shooting him death glares that gave Spike just the opportunity he needed to sneak up to Xander and take the chair beside his. Closer up, the boy smelt sick and the worry Spike was completely and utterly, 100 per cent not feeling, squirmed unpleasantly in his chest.

“Oi, whelp, what’s gotten into you? Haven’t heard you this quiet since the Gentlemen showed up,” Spike asked.

“Aww Spike, I didn’t know you cared,” Xander whispered, his voice hoarse and painful sounding. Spike felt a part of himself sympathising before he could help it.

“What’s wrong with you then?” he asked, nose scrunched up in what was an attempt at to look disgusted at the obviously sick human but just made him look all adorably concerned.

“I’m sick. And everything hurts. I feel like someone threw me off a cliff and then danced on my remains,” Xander replied, pouting. His nose was red and irritated looking, his eyes red rimmed and glassy, and Spike felt his desire to look after the kid growing. He had always been the caregiver, always had someone to look after, and besides, now he could chalk it up to selfishness.

“Come on Xander, let’s get you home. I need you alive if I’m going to be crashing in your grubby little basement for the foreseeable future.” Spike grabbed Xander by the arm and got to his feet, pulling the kid up after him. He could tell how sick Xander really was when a biting remark wasn’t even forthcoming, the kid just groaned and got to his wobbly feet.

After making cursory excuses to the girls, the pair made their sorry trek back to Xander’s, the boy puffing every step of the way as if he was running a marathon. Spike grasped him by the bicep and helped him along, pausing every few minutes so Xander could rest. When they finally got to Xander’s house, the boy’s hands were shaking so badly that he had difficulty inserting his key into the lock. Cursing under his breath at feeble humans and their susceptibility to disease Spike snatched the key out of his hands and quickly opened the door, shutting it behind them and then ushering Xander to bed.

The boy was too tired, too pale, and too quiet. Sprawled on the battered sofa that he slept on, Spike felt a twinge of pity for the kid. He brought Xander some water and some paracetamol, which he swallowed with a grimace, and then placed a box of tissues onto the nightstand beside him. Toeing off his Docs, Spike collapsed onto the despised armchair he had spent the last few nights cramped on.

“Hey, Spike,” the boy mumbled, talking into a ratty old pillow that he had buried his face into.


“Thanks Spike.”

Spike couldn’t help but grin.

He had taken care of Drusilla for almost a hundred years and she had never once thanked him for his care. It felt odd to be thanked, for someone to notice the effort he put in and praise him for it.

“That’s okay pet. Get some sleep, I’ll be here in the morning,” Spike said, almost fondly. He was glad that Xander had fallen asleep and was unable to hear the pleasure tinging his tone.

Spike stared at Xander’s lax form, tranquil in sleep, and smiled. The fluttery, giddy feeling in his chest was simply hunger cramps from not eating enough human blood lately. That was all. Spike just didn’t know why he felt like a teenage boy again, jumping head first off a cliff and looking forward to discovering what he would find at the bottom.

The End