Spike grinned as he closed the basement door behind him. “Whelp?” he called. His grin broadened. His 'landlord' wasn't home yet, apparently. Better still.
He'd just gotten back from a bar brawl, which he hadn't started, but had participated in, nonetheless. He'd turned up the victor, and had a few scars to boast it. Sadly, they were already fading, but it was the moral that counted: he was still the Big Bad.
He'd been living in Xander's basement for the last month, and had to admit that the whelp wasn't that bad a roommate. Sure, Anya was a thorn in his side, but she appeared to be a thorn in EVERYONE'S side, including the Slayer's.
He yanked off his boots and threw them into the corner, showing off his strength and manliness to no one in particular. “That's right,” he boasted proudly. “I'm still the Big Bad.”
Having stated his manliness enough, he turned his attention to the kitchen. “Ooh! Chocolate chip cookies! Perfect for dunkin',” he grinned, grabbing a bag of blood from the small fridge.
Spike stopped, frowning slightly, and closed the fridge slowly. He glanced over it twice, but still found nothing. His frown deepened.
Where was the whelp? Should've been home by now, and if he was running late, he would've left a message on the fridge or on the machine. He turned to the answering system, almost glaring at it when he didn't see the new message light blinking. Where the hell was he?
He blinked at himself. He didn't care. Right? Xander just offered a place to stay. And cable. And blood. That was it.
He tried to forget about the time Xander had stayed up and played cards with him one night, listening as Spike ranted on and on about glorious battles he'd won. Or how he'd switched channels from the movie Spike was watching to a ball game, then felt so bad about it that he'd gone and rented the movie for the vampire. He'd also brought home popcorn and let Spike melt whatever he wanted on it, blood included.
Yeah, Spike wasn't worried. Bullocks. Sighing, he grabbed his cookies and blood bag and went to flip channels. The whelp would be back soon enough.
The 'whelp' was actually still in the house. In fact, he was only upstairs. It was also where he least wanted to be at the moment.
He'd originally gone up to try and talk to his dad about the possibility of him moving out, and had found himself in the middle of a fight between his mom and dad. They both appeared to be drunk, though who was more under the influence, Xander couldn't tell.
The two hadn't been fighting like this for almost a month, and Xander had enjoyed the peace. Of course, Spike had disrupted that peace, but it had still been nice while it lasted.
Speaking of the bleach-headed pest, he ought to be home soon. Panic flooded through him. What if Spike heard what was going on? He'd never live this down. He groaned inwardly. He could see it now; Xander trying to ignore Spike as the vampire gleefully continued to prod at him, pushing his buttons in the way that only Spike could.
Spike wasn't that bad, if Xander was forced to say. He'd saved Xander's life more times then he could remember, and he'd shown the boy how to hold an ax and wield it properly. He'd been impressed by Xander's skill with the crossbow, and Xander had felt a surge of pride, for some odd reason.
But the time that he remembered the most was when he'd fallen asleep at the table from sheer exhaustion, as he'd tried to fill out the paperwork for a new job. He'd awoken to find he had been placed in his bed, and his forms had been filled out. By Spike.
His mother began cursing again, bringing Xander back to the present. “What are you even doing up here?” she screeched at Xander.
Xander swallowed, and tried to answer her. “I...I just wanted to...”
“You brought him into this world, so it's your fault, you bitch,” Xander's father seethed at her.
“You certainly helped the process!!”
Xander began to back away. The wrong time, the wrong place. He had to get out, before something bad happened.
“Where do YOU think you're going, boy?” his father snapped, his attention riveted on his son.
Xander inched further for the stairs. “B-Back downstairs, uh, um, s-sir.”
He flinched as his father headed for him. “Did I say you could leave?” he practically roared, rolling his sleeves up. Xander cringed. He couldn't explain another bruise. Please, no...
His internal pleading was to no avail. He fell to the floor, blood gushing from his lip. “Get back up,” his father yelled, pulling him to his feet. He slammed him against the basement door, banging Xander's head against it. Xander winced as pain rocketed through his skull.
“I don't want you up here, boy, unless I tell you to get up here. Do you hear me?!” his father spat at him.
Xander couldn't say anything. With a snarl his father hauled the door open and shoved him.
Spike jumped as the basement door was flung open. He was even more surprised to see Xander come hurtling down the stairs, only to land at the bottom with a sickening thud.
“Useless piece of shit,” he heard someone grumble upstairs, but his eyes remained on the motionless boy. He remained silent until the door slammed shut.
Quick as lightning he was at Xander's side. Blood flowed from his lip and his forehead, and for the first time in a long time, the smell of the blood almost made Spike gag. It reeked of fear.
He'd just touched Xander's shoulder when the boy jerked away in fright, his eyes finally locking on Spike. “It's all right,” Spike said, in an attempt to calm him. “You're gonna be okay.”
Xander chuckled bitterly, rising to his feet. Spike reached forward to help him, but Xander flinched away. “Nothing's been 'all right' for years, Spike,” he said, his eyes full of grief.
“This has happened before...?” Spike started, surprised, but Xander just shook his head wearily.
“Let it go,” he said, sounding tired. “You don't care anyways.” He brushed back Spike, but stumbled on the last stair, falling to the floor.
Xander opened his eyes tentatively, landing them on the floor, which was inches away from his nose. He also caught sight of two hands holding him firmly but gently. He frowned, utterly confused. Why would Spike help him? He shook himself, then moaned as the action caused his head to swim.
He was barely aware of Spike pulling him into his arms and carrying him to the bed. As softly as he could, he laid the human down on the bed. “Just stay here for a minute,” he instructed Xander, glancing around. Where the hell did he keep his first aid kits?
As if he read his mind, Xander weakly pointed at the cupboard above the sink. “Behind the boxes,” he whispered, closing his eyes. He could feel the blood dripping down his temple, and he shuddered. He'd gotten lucky, too, which made it worse. His dad had gone easy on him. Usually, he could handle himself, but today he'd just wanted to lay there, curl up, and disappear. He might've disappeared for good, if it hadn't been for Spike.
As the vampire retrieved the kit, Xander thought back to why he was even doing this. Why was Spike being so nice?
Spike was back a few moments later, pulling out alcohol swabs. “Probably gonna sting,” Spike said, sounding apologetic.
Xander was too shocked to say anything. Very carefully Spike dabbed at the cut on his forehead, wincing when Xander cringed. “Sorry,” Spike mumbled.
“S'okay,” Xander managed to croak out. He couldn't stop staring at Spike's arms. So much power, enough to rip the head off of a demon (he'd been a witness to THAT more then once), and yet...yet he was being so gentle with Xander, like he actually didn't want to cause him anymore discomfort. He almost snorted. The discomfort had been caused years ago. He hated this.
Inside, however, Spike felt like being anything BUT gentle. He'd heard Xander's father before he'd opened the door, and had thought he'd been yelling at his mom, like he normally did. It had never crossed his mind that he'd been screaming at Xander.
His emotions when he'd seen Xander tumble down the stairs had been mixed. From stunned, to sympathy, then anger. Anger that had built to rage at Xander's father. He was his father, for crying out loud! His father was doing more damage then the demons did on patrol.
Xander had closed his eyes again. Spike had felt his rage building when Xander had told him that it had happened before. Hell, Spike's own father from when he'd been a human had been kinder.
Spike pulled away, quickly bandaging the gash. The lip would heal on its own.
His hand unconsciously drifted up to Xander's soft hair, pushing it away from the injured area. Xander's breathing had evened out, every minute helping him calm down.
Xander was almost asleep when Spike's voice said, “How often?” It was spoken softly, yet he could still hear a flash of something else.
Xander opened his eyes, glancing up at Spike. The vampire was looking off to the side, his emotions unreadable. Xander shifted uncomfortably. “Um...eight, I think.”
Xander swallowed, looking anywhere but at Spike. “Since I was eight,” he mumbled miserably. This was why only Willow knew about it. He hated trying to explain this. The bruises, the fear...
A hand caught his chin and turned his gaze back to Spike. Spike glanced at him sorrowfully. “I'm sorry,” he said quietly.
Okay, Xander couldn't get any more surprised. “Not your fault,” he replied, trying to shrug casually. They'd gotten friendlier over the weeks, but he'd never seen the vampire offer friendship to him. Not like this.
“You gonna try and pull some bullshit 'bout it bein' yours?”
Leave it to Spike to break an awkward silence. Xander chuckled, shaking his head. “Figured that out a long time ago.” He sighed, then jumped as something shattered in the room above them. He cringed, sure his face couldn't get redder with embarrassment if he tried. He was so tired of this.
“S'not your fault,” Spike said, his voice rumbling in his chest. He snorted at the two upstairs, before looking down at Xander. He could feel the boy's breath against his neck, they were so close. Wait. When had they gotten so close?
Xander seemed to realize this as well, and the two pulled away from each other at the same time. It was when they did this that they found their hands were grasping each other's.
Their eyes lit up with horror, before they yanked it away. Xander glanced away to the left, and Spike almost tumbled off the bed in his hurry to get away.
That had been stupid. Stupid human, stupid Slayer...then why couldn't Spike stop thinking about how good it had felt to feel heat filtering through his hand?
On the opposite side of the apartment, Xander was feeling the same way. To have someone just sit and stay with him, not thinking and vocalizing their thoughts on sex, like Anya did, had felt so nice. But Spike?
Both lost in their thoughts, the two went about ignoring the other.
They managed to not talk to each other or touch each other for the rest of the night.
Xander sighed with relief as he turned off his bed light. In the darkness, he could faintly make out Spike arranging himself on the chair. He closed his eyes, letting himself drift off to sleep...
Xander jumped up, sleep forgotten. His eyes darted to the stairs, praying his dad was just drunk. Please, don't come down here, please, please...
“You...worthless worm! Should've offed ya years ago. Wouldn't take much...just...jus' get my gun...”
Xander shook as tears streamed down his face. He had lived through this for years, and every single time his father threatened to kill him, he was always struck with terror. Even when he was drunk, Xander knew he'd be insane enough to do it.
He could see it now: him heading upstairs to see if he could talk to his parents, and finding them in another fight. His dad hitting him, and when Xander cowered, he'd reach into his pocket, pulling out his gun. He'd empty the entire thing into Xander's body, as his mom stood and screeched at him that he was cleaning up the mess.
He gasped and fought against the two arms that had suddenly wrapped around him. “Shhh, just me,” a British voice whispered in his ear. “You're safe, don't worry.”
But Xander could still hear the heavy footsteps above him, heading towards the liquor cabinet. Or were they headed towards the door to the basement?
“Xander? Xander, snap out of it,” Spike said, frowning. Xander had frozen in his arms, his eyes wide with fear as he stared at the stairs. “He's not comin' down here,” the vampire said. No response. Suddenly worried, Spike shook the boy. “Xander! Xander, he's not comin' down. Even if he did, I wouldn't let him touch you. You're safe, I promise.”
Xander relaxed, before leaning against Spike, sobs heaving his chest. He knew he was guilty of the term 'Nancy-boy', or whatever Spike said, but he didn't care. All he cared about was someone comforting him for once, and if it was in the arms of his supposed enemy, then so be it. Very strong arms, too.
Spike rubbed his back, trying to calm him. “I'm here. You're safe. Trust me.” He ignored the fact that of all people the whelp should least trust, it should be him.
As Xander's sobs tapered off to hiccups and sniffles, Spike leaned down and kissed the top of his head, more as a knee-jerk response then anything.
Both men froze. This was something new, something weird, for both of them. “Um...” Spike said, wondering what Xander's response would be.
Xander sat up, staring the vampire in the eyes, before bending forward and capturing Spike's lips with his.
To say the vampire was shocked was an understatement. He didn't even have time to respond before Xander pulled away. He looked slightly embarrassed, anxious, but overall, hopeful.
Spike stared at him, before he began to smile. “Took you long enough,” he grinned.
Xander sighed with relief, before Spike kissed him again, and then, nothing else seemed to matter. Dads, jobs, nothing. Spike was right. Xander was safe with him.
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