Couple of Months
Xander cringed, trying to dodge another blow. Oh goody, the demon wanted more. Shout with glee, jump up and down with joy. Not.
Was there a reason demons always, ALWAYS went after him? Because hey, if this had anything to do with Willow's spell from a few years back, he would kill her, no matter how much he loved her.
Another swat, like the demon was squashing an ant, and Xander was down for the count. C'mon, Xander, get it together. Be a man. Go out with guns a'blazing. He slowly came up on his feet, then squealed girlishly as it grabbed him by the throat.
Xander managed to grab the dagger from his belt and ram it through the demon's throat. Blood with a bluish tinge; how many different colors WERE there?
He was dropped with a 'thud' onto the ground, wheezing for air. Okay, that had hurt.
But it was dead, at least. Thank Zeus for small miracles. How was he supposed to get back to the Summers' house now?
He'd gone out to retrieve dinner for the Potentials and other residents at Casa de la Summers. A shout had caught his attention, and he'd quickly found himself in the midst of an attack on a young couple by two scaly demons. He'd leapt in, giving the humans ample time to run off.
One demon had gone down easily, but the other had slowly worked Xander down to a pathetic mess of broken limbs and gushing blood. With a whimper he managed to pull his cell out. Only a few times had his dad done this extent of damage to him. He mentally shook his head. Don't think about more pain.
He pressed speed-dial 1, trying to stay conscious. Buffy, or Willow, please answer...
“Summers' residence.” Xander cursed inwardly. Spike. Granted, they were on friendly terms, but Xander didn't want to deal with the vampire at the moment.
Don't let him hang up, stupid, say something! “Spike?” he croaked.
“Oh, it's you,” Spike said, sounding bored. “You got dinner? Girls are hungry.”
“Get Buffy,” Xander said, his vision darkening. Shit. “Spike, please.”
“She's not here. Went out with Red to get the new girl. You all right?” The vampire sounded slightly worried. Of course; why else would Xander say 'please' to him?
“Harris? You all right?” The worry was definitely evident now.
Xander tried to respond that yes, bleeding to death was only a new hobby he'd acquired, but he coughed instead, spraying blood all over his cell. Damn.
“Xander, where are you?”
“Help me,” Xander gasped, his vision dimming. He was really dying. “Spike please, please, please!” he begged, choking back a sob. He was going to die out here, in the cold night air. His panic level reached a new height.
“Xander, tell me where you are,” Spike said calmly.
Xander forced back another sob, trying to stay focused. “S-Southfield Cemetery. Please, Spike, help me...”
“I'm on my way. I'll be there in less then five minutes, promise. Just hold on for me, all right, Xander?” Silence. “Xander?”
The blood encrusted cell phone hung from limp fingers.
What the hell had possessed the boy to go through a cemetery? Spike almost rolled his eyes at the stupidity. You didn't go walking through cemeteries, especially after everything that had been happening.
He wove in and out through the headstones, sniffing the air as he went. It figured that he'd be searching in Sunnydale's largest cemetery.
His nose finally caught the scent of blood – human and demon – and he picked up the pace. He rounded the corner and was assaulted by the stronger smell he was seeking. Glancing up ahead of him, he paused in shock, before breaking into a run at what he saw.
Some demon lay sprawled in the grass, dead. A familiar looking body was curled up beside it, motionless.
“Shit, shit, SHIT!” Spike cursed, sliding to his knees beside Xander. It didn't look like the boy was breathing.
“Xander, wake up,” he said, pressing his ear against Xander's chest. He quickly pulled away, cursing again. His heartbeat was faint, and slowing by the second.
He began to shake Xander, before slapping him. The boy's skin was turning blue, and felt like ice to Spike's hand.
“C'mon whelp, wake up,” Spike said, before joking weakly, “Slayer'll kick my ass if you go and di...” Suddenly he stopped, unable to finish. The thought of Xander not being there anymore unsettled him, for some odd reason.
When Xander still didn't respond, Spike began to seriously panic. “Xander, don't you dare die on me!” he shouted, listening in dismay as Xander's heart began to still.
“NO! Dammit, Xander, don't give up on me!!” Spike yelled, surprised that tears were gathering in his eyes. This was XANDER, for crying out loud. He hated the boy, right?
But Xander was a white-hat. He wasn't supposed to go like this. He was supposed to die of old age, or go out in a blaze of glory, saving the world once more. Not because some scaly excuse of a demon had gotten the best of him.
He was pulled from his thoughts when Xander's breathing stopped completely. Spike howled and positioned his hands on Xander's chest. He began to push, aware that he wasn't helping a few already broken ribs.
When the first stage of CPR didn't work, Spike almost chuckled, despite the situation. “Sorry, Harris, but this is your fault.” With that, he leaned down and pressed his lips to the boy's.
The usually warm lips were now ice cold, causing Spike to shiver as he exhaled into Xander's mouth. Nothing.
Spike repeated his ministrations, this time with more frantic movements. He was really going to lose him. Xander was dead.
He pulled away from the whelp's mouth for a second time, and began pushing on Xander's chest again. “Xander, please,” Spike pleaded. “Don't die on me!”
Xander jerked, causing Spike to push extra-hard on the boy's chest in his surprise. That extra shove had Xander coughing up blood in his attempt to breathe.
Recovering from his shock, Spike grabbed Xander and pulled him into a sitting position. Blood was beginning to trickle back into his throat, and Xander started to choke on it. Spike pushed him towards the ground and gave him a hard thwack on the back. More blood was sent flying from his mouth as Xander heaved in gulps of air.
Spike took a few unnecessary breaths, trying to blink away tears. That had been way too close.
Almost immediately Xander began to shiver. Spike slipped out of his duster and hung it over Xander's shaking shoulders, trying to keep him warm. He hadn't gone this far to save the boy to lose him now to hypothermia.
Xander finally looked over at Spike, frowning slightly. “S-Spike?” he asked through chattering teeth.
“Lost you there for a bit. Good to have you back.”
Xander still looked puzzled. “W-What are y-you doing here?”
Now it was Spike's turn to frown. “Uh, you called the house, asked for help? I came out, got you breathin' again?” When Xander continued to look bewildered, Spike waved his hand in front of the boy's face. “Oi, whelp! You in there?”
Xander shook himself, resting his head on his trembling hand. “Present, though I'm not feeling like I want to be.” He pulled away from his own hand, frowning sleepily. “Cold,” he mumbled.
Spike placed his hand on Xander's forehead, causing the boy to hiss and pull away. “I just said my hand was cold. I don't want a colder hand on me!”
Wonder what he'd do if I told him I'd practically kissed him? Spike wondered with a slight smirk. It disappeared as he realized that Xander was burning up with a temperature. “Should get you back to the house. You need serious help, mate.”
“Got that,” Xander muttered, attempting to push himself into standing. He whimpered as his head swam from the blood loss, and fell back onto the grass. He waited for Spike to laugh at him, the poor, pathetic boy who couldn't even stand on his own.
Spike did no such thing. As gently as he could he pulled Xander to him and wrapped his arms around the trembling body. With a grace Xander knew he could never have on his good days the vampire stood and began to make his way out of the cemetery.
When Xander opened his eyes next, he found himself looking into anxious blue eyes. “Thought you were gonna try another shot at dyin' on me,” Spike sighed, shaking his head.
“The girls?” Xander managed to croak out.
Spike jerked his head to the phone on the table next to them. Wait. That was Xander's table. That was Xander's phone. Spike must've taken them to Xander's apartment. The boy almost snorted. Way to go, self! Glad you figured that out in a record time of oh, five minutes?
“I called them and let them know,” Spike explained. “Slayer was ready to start a rampage when she heard, but I told her to just get the girls dinner, before she had to settle with those types of demons.” He shuddered. “Hormonal teenage girls. Scarier than Angelus.”
Xander laughed, then whimpered as the movement jostled cracked ribs. Ow. “So they're not coming over, right?” he asked. There. Voice sounding better.
Spike shook his head. “No; just figured I'd give 'em the heads up as to why dinner was gonna be really late in comin'.”
“Good,” Xander said, closing his eyes. He hoped his relief hadn't been that noticeable. The last thing he wanted was for the girls to come over and pity him. He just wanted to rest...
Spike seemed to sense it, but didn't comment on it. “Right,” he drawled, a frown evident in his tone. “Don't think 'bout fallin' asleep on me.”
Xander opened his eyes then. “What? Why not?”
“You hit your head,” Spike explained as patiently as he could. “Don't want you to fall into a coma or somethin'.”
Xander snorted, wincing. “Yeah. That would be such a bad thing for you.”
“If I was gonna let you die, I wouldn't have come runnin' to your assist earlier,” Spike said angrily. Damn the whelp!
Xander stared at him, before sighing. “I'm sorry. Not exactly feeling the swiftest right now.”
The vampire's features softened at that. “Got every right to think I wouldn't care.”
“Why did you? Help me, that is,” Xander asked, frowning slightly.
Spike shrugged. “Dunno. You were in trouble. Seemed like the right thing to do.”
A pause. “Thanks,” Xander said, before yawning. He grimaced, his eyes already closing.
“Don't make me slap you.”
“And I'm awake,” Xander said, forcing his eyes open.
Spike smirked at him, before he noticed what Xander was trying to do. “Stay down,” he ordered, but Xander ignored him.
“It hurts, and I can't breathe when I'm down,” Xander said. “Kind of a perk we humans have. Need to breathe, and all that rot.”
Spike sighed, then reached over and helped the human up. Xander looked surprised at his kindness, and even more surprised at his gentleness, but didn't say a thing. These niceties didn't come easily these days. You took them when and where you could.
“Lemme get the kit,” Spike said, breaking into Xander's thoughts. “Under the bathroom sink?”
Xander nodded absently. A few moments later, the vampire returned, bearing goodies in the form of white tins. “You don't have to do this,” Xander said with a small sigh.
“S'pose I don't,” Spike agreed. “But I am.”
So much for getting the reason of the kindness out of him. “Thanks,” Xander said again.
“Welcome. Shirt off.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “And there's a sentence I never thought I'd hear you say to me.”
Spike snorted, trying not to laugh. “You and me both.”
Between the two of them, they managed to wrestle off the shirt. The front was sporting a few gashes and bruises, all that were tended to under the watchful eye of Spike. “Can you turn around?” he asked, his eye catching a gash that disappeared towards the back.
Spike frowned slightly. He could've sworn Xander sounded...nervous. Scared, possibly. “So I can take care of that nasty lookin' gash there. Turn around.”
“It's fine,” Xander sputtered, pushing the vampire's hands away. “Don't worry about it.”
Now Spike knew something was up. “Quit it, you big baby. Lemme see,” he said, pushing away Xander's pushing hands.
Spike growled, and Xander was suddenly reminded who he was dealing with. A master vampire, who had recently become chip-less. Soul or no soul, he was dangerous. Ulp. “Turn around,” Spike commanded, looking pretty pissed off. Double ulp.
Xander swallowed and nodded, slowly moving himself to face the back of the sofa, the vampire helping him get situated. Xander could feel twinges of pain from where the antibiotic was stinging, but he didn't care about those. He cared about...
...that. Xander sighed. “Nothing,” he mumbled.
“Some demon got you pretty good. These weren't recent, either,” Spike said, continuing to muse out loud. “So what did this?”
“Nothing,” Xander said, this time a little louder. “Let it go.”
Spike raised his eyebrows. So THIS had been the reason he hadn't wanted to turn around. “Vampire?” he guessed.
“Wasn't a demon, really,” the boy muttered.
Spike nodded in understanding. “Ah. Weapon, then. So...what? A whip, maybe? A sword, but it must've been pretty dull, because these look more like welts then anythin' else.”
Xander mumbled something, but even Spike's vampiric senses couldn't pick it up. “Come again?” he asked, frowning.
“Belt,” Xander said a little louder.
Spike narrowed his gaze. That didn't sound like a weapon to him. Well, not a weapon a demon would use, at any rate. “Who'd you say did this again?” he asked casually, hoping to find out.
Xander didn't answer. Damn. “Xan-der,” Spike sang, trying to coax the boy out of the mood he was now in, thanks to Spike. “C'mon, tell me.”
Suddenly Xander was off the sofa and heading for the bedroom. He shuddered at the fierce pain that arose, but kept moving. He was NOT going to tell Spike. Not a chance in hell.
He'd almost made it to the door when Spike zipped in front of him, blocking his escape route. “Nice try,” Spike said, glaring at the human. “Get your ass back on the sofa. Now.”
“Leave me alone,” Xander said, trying to snarl back at the other man, but only managing a tired tone.
“What the hell is your problem?” Spike demanded.
“Don't bother trying to care, Spike,” Xander hissed, but the hiss was more pain than anger. “It doesn't suit you.”
Whatever fight they'd about to start was stopped as Xander's knees gave way, and he slumped to the floor, exhausted. Stupid demons who beat him up. Stupid demons who pretended to care. Stupid Xander for not being able to stand a chance against either.
Spike had him in his arms before the boy hit the ground. He carried him into the bedroom, laying him against the headboard in a sitting position. “Be right back,” he said, heading out to the living room.
Xander closed his eyes, unable to bear the weight of keeping them open any longer. He was just so tired...
Spike almost growled when he realized Xander was out. He couldn't blame the boy, however. Xander was exhausted, and with good reason. Once Spike had gotten him back to the apartment, he'd found blood seeping from the wounds on his chest and legs. He neck was bruised, along with his face. The boy had taken quite a beating.
Xander had awakened when Spike had just been about to head for the First Aid, so Spike had stayed with him. Granted, would've been easier to deal with the wounds when the whelp was sleeping, but it was really no big.
He couldn't help but wonder what the older wounds were, however. They were definitely belt lines, but they were almost perfectly in rows. As if Xander hadn't moved, and had accepted them. So either Anya was kinkier than the vampire had originally thought, or there was something else behind those rows. Spike wasn't sure he wanted to know either way.
He took a seat on the bed next to the sleeping Xander, before chuckling. “If you didn't like the kiss before, you might not like the next part too much either,” he joked, undoing the whelp's pants. He was tempted to cut them off if they gave him too much grief, but ended up getting them off just fine.
The vampire's eyes widened as more scars appeared, but what puzzled him the most was that the majority of them, much like the ones on the back, were older.
Spike frowned. “You and I are gonna have a chat when you get up,” he told the unconscious boy. “And I WILL find out what happened here.” The thought of Xander just letting someone hit him infuriated the vampire.
Spike stopped, sitting back on his feet. It was time to start thinking about a few things. Like why he even cared about the whelp. Why he'd cared enough to help him get better. Why he'd cared enough to cry when Xander had stopped breathing in the cemetery. Why he cared enough to get angry at the thought of something hurting the boy.
He shook his head. Now he was really confused. Why, why, why?
He growled at himself. “Get a grip, mate,” Spike muttered. “He's the whelp, for cryin' out loud. You hate his guts.”
But Spike knew he didn't. Well, he had, make no mistake. But Xander had taken him in when the soul had driven him crazy. That gave the boy a point in Spike's book. He remembered a night when the dead had come back to haunt him, and he hadn't been able to sleep. He'd run out into the kitchen, trying to get a knife to make it stop. Just to make the voices stop.
He vaguely remembered a warm hand on his wrist, gently pulling him to the sofa. He remembered that same hand taking the knife away, and wiping away the tears Spike shouldn't have shed. And then the hands had been attached to arms, and the arms had held him tight, keeping the dead away from the vampire. It had been the first night Spike had been able to sleep in peace for over a month.
Xander had never brought the incident up, either, Spike realized with a start. He hadn't lorded it over Spike, for blackmail when the vamp had become sane again. If anything, Xander had given Spike silent support, sticking up for the vamp a few times. It was a nice feeling.
But that still didn't answer Spike's question. Why was HE helping the boy? He supposed he felt obligated since the whelp had shown him so much kindness over the past year, but that didn't seem right somehow. Spike had the distinct feeling that he was doing this for a different reason, though he didn't exactly know what.
A whimper drew Spike back to the present. “Thought I told you not to fall asleep on me,” Spike said, glaring in an attempt to hide his relief. The boy seriously could've had a concussion. Though, considering he'd awakened twice so far, he had probably gotten lucky. Again.
“Sorry,” Xander mumbled, trying to get comfy. He bit his lip as pain shot through his body at the small movement. He hated this; he was completely helpless, and Spike was the one to see it. Great.
Xander remembered a night when he'd seen the vampire without his defenses, though. All he'd wanted was a glass of water for his parched throat. He hadn't expected to find a vampire in the middle of his kitchen, a huge knife in his right hand.
What had shocked him the most, however, had been the tears rolling down Spike's face. Spike didn't cry. The one time at Buffy's funeral, but that was it. He didn't cry. Seeing him like that had made Spike more...human. Vulnerable. A feeling Xander knew all too well.
Cautiously he'd approached the vampire, gently steering him towards the sofa and removing the knife from his trembling hand. The look of pain and hopelessness on Spike's face had been enough to make Xander start to tear up. He hadn't really known what to do then, so he'd just embraced the vampire, hopefully giving him some sort of peace. It obviously had worked; the vampire had slept for the rest of the night. Xander had opted to staying on the sofa, Spike still wrapped up in his arms.
He was saying something now. Wake up, Xander! “Huh?” he asked, frowning.
Spike sighed. Amazing how the vamp had changed from a lost little boy to an annoying arrogant man in the space of a few months. “I said, how's your breathin'? Your chest hurt any less? Need to know if I should get the car and take you to the...”
“It's fine,” Xander blurted out, almost wincing at the pain from his chest. Liar. “It's fine. Really.”
Spike raised his eyebrows. “Somethin' wrong?”
Xander shook his head quickly. “Nope, nuh uh, nothing wrong.”
Spike snorted. “Me thinks he doth protest too much,” he smirked.
“Spike, really, I'm fine. Listen, you probably have much better things to do then play nurse to me. Don't worry about me. Really. I mean, it's not like I haven't done this myself before. Years of patching myself back up; you'd think I'd be good at it.”
Something flashed in Spike's eyes, but before Xander could analyze it, it was gone. “Right. Somethin' I wanted to talk to you 'bout, and since you brought up the subject real nice for me, I might as well talk.”
A sinking feeling in his stomach told Xander he probably wasn't going to like this. “Talk away,” he said weakly.
Spike poked Xander's leg, and the boy flinched. “Hey! Is there a reason you're abusing your non-chip powers?”
Spike glared at him, and Xander shut up. “Why don't you tell me what I was poking?” the vampire asked, in a dangerously quiet tone.
Xander glanced down at the vamp's extended finger and paled. Oh gods. He hadn't realized that not only had Spike pulled off his jeans, the vamp could now see the scars there as well. He slowly looked up and met the burning gaze of one seriously brassed off vampire. Xander swallowed.
“Well?” the vamp asked again, even quieter than before.
Xander stared, then started to laugh. Spike frowned, so Xander tried to explain. “Sorry,” he gasped. “I mean, it's just...just so damn funny. You, pretending to care. It's...it's...” The laughter began to change into another type of hysterics, and soon Xander found he couldn't stop sobbing.
It wasn't fair, was what he'd meant to say. A vampire who hated his guts, would've killed him without thinking twice once upon a time, he was the one who had seen the thing his friends never had. It wasn't fair.
Spike felt a twinge of hurt at the boy's words, but didn't blame him. The boy had every right to think he didn't care. Spike wasn't even still really sure why he cared himself. Or if he even should.
When Xander slumped down, head in his hands, his body wracked with sobs, Spike knew he should. He sat up, reaching forward and pulling the trembling boy into his arms. When he realized what he was doing, Spike almost snorted. The irony of the situation wasn't lost on him. A few months ago, their places had been swapped, with Xander being the comforter. Funny how a couple of months could change things so much.
When his sobs tapered off, Xander pulled away, red with embarrassment and tears. “Sorry,” he muttered, turning to wipe his eyes. Geez, he hadn't lost control like that in forever. And in front of Spike; what were the odds? Seemed to be the question of the day.
“You gonna tell me?” Spike asked, but this time, his tone was soft, trying to convey to Xander that he genuinely did want to know.
Xander sighed, his breath hitching in the aftermath of the breakdown. “It...it wasn't a demon,” he said cautiously.
“Got that already. You gonna stop tellin' me what didn't do this, and what really did?”
“He did,” Xander said in a quiet voice.
“Who?” When the boy didn't answer, Spike leaned forward. “Xander, please.”
Xander closed his eyes, a few tears leaking out. “My dad,” he whispered.
Silence. If Xander had been in a punning mood, he would've said dead silence, but right now, Xander was in a 'let's disappear and die' mood.
Xander hated this. He could ignore it on his own, but telling someone else made it real. He had to face up to the fact that it had really happened. That his dad used to throw him against the furniture, then teach him to obey him. That Xander had soon learned to stay down and just take it; it had usually ended quicker that way. That he hadn't gone out almost an entire summer, because he would've had to have worn shorts and t-shirts, and it would've been too obvious.
His eyes shot open as strong arms enveloped him. “Shhh,” Spike whispered, rubbing comforting circles on Xander's back. “It's all right.”
But it wasn't, and how was he supposed to tell Spike that it didn't matter how much he wished it was, his life was messed up because his father had taken a fancy to belting him when he was only seven?
He hadn't even realized he was crying again until Spike reached down to wipe tears away. “How long?” Spike asked as gently as he could.
Xander looked anywhere but at him. Spike cupped the boy's, no, man's face with his hand and lifted his chin up. He couldn't call him a boy anymore. Xander had earned the title 'man' the hard way.
The young man still refused to look at him. “You plannin' on keepin' it locked up inside? Again? Xander, all it's gonna do is eat you alive. Vent. Talk to me, hit me, do somethin'. If you don't, then you've let him win. He crushed you in the end, and he didn't even have to use the belt to land the final blow.”
Xander's bottom lip quivered, but he straightened it as best he could. “Since I was seven,” he managed to say.
“I'm sorry,” Spike said truthfully. It hadn't been his fault, but he knew what it felt like to get shoved around. Angelus had been a perfect demonstration of that.
Xander laid against Spike and whispered, “You didn't have to do...any of this. But you did. And I wanted you to know that I appreciate it.”
Spike smiled. “Yeah, well, nothin' good on the telly,” he joked, earning a chuckle from the man.
“Wow, I earned precedence over the T.V. I feel really special.”
Spike laughed. “Glad you didn't lose your sense of humor.” Glancing down at the human in his arms, he asked with a frown, “Uh, did you need anythin'? Like painkillers, or...”
Xander shook his head. “I've got what I need right here,” he said, before he widened his eyes. Oh shit. He had NOT meant to say that. Oh no.
As he'd predicted, the arms around him were quickly removed. Xander cringed. Way to go, Harris. He hadn't meant to say it, or even admit it, but it had just kind of happened. He hadn't even known that he'd liked the demon that way, but it had just felt like the right thing to say. Apparently not. He shut his eyes tightly, not wanting to see Spike recoil with disgust.
A light touch on his cheek had him opening his eyes, and when Spike's lips descended on his, his eyes opened to a comical amount.
Spike pulled away, and the two stared at each other. Xander licked his lips nervously, and Spike's breathing was heavy, though he technically didn't even need to breathe.
“So...what now?” Spike asked, never taking his eyes off of Xander.
Xander swallowed. “We try that again?”
Spike began to smile, and leaned forward once more. Their lips met again, but this time, Xander reciprocated. Lips parted, tongues danced, and both were soon breathless once more.
“I should get hurt more often,” Xander grinned.
Spike laughed, before his entire body descended onto Xander's. From enemies to lovers...what a difference a couple of months could make.
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