Word Count: 400 (ficlet)
Xander's learned to adapt. There are obstacles to overcome, and the small accommodations that make a shared life livable. Example, obstacle: on an empty stomach, the smell of blood makes him queasy. Example, accommodation: avoid the kitchen morning times, grab breakfast on the road.
Some adjustments are harder. Example: missing sunlight. Xander does home renovation now, interiors exclusively. Driving to jobs before dawn, indoors all day, returning home at dusk. There are days off, of course, but daytime outings with Spike tend to involve sewers, or burning blankets -- generally more trouble than they're worth. And given the choice between a day in the sun and a day with Spike, he'll take Spike, every time.
Still, he misses it. His daydreams are literally that: dreams about the day. Images flickering through his head, like a montage in some cheesy movie: walking with Spike in a park, light filtering hazily through the trees; holding hands at the beach, toes digging into hot sand; buying Snow Cones at a county fair, laughing as they melt in the summer sun.
He wonders if Spike ever misses it, if he got used to it again, at Wolfram and Hart. But Xander never asks. Spike's not stupid -- he'd understand instantly that Xander's been missing it himself. He'd think that he's depriving Xander of something; holding him back, or imposing. Spike is firm about not doing this, vigilant, even.
"Promise you'll tell me if you see me going round the bend," he says. "Can't see it myself. Need a good kick in the arse, now and again."
Spike knows too well his own fraught history with love; knows that he's always leapt the line from devoted adoration to dangerous obsession. He wants to protect Xander from this, to shield them both from his own M.O.
"You should have a beer with your mates from work," he'll say, his tone deliberately casual. Or, not quite meeting Xander's eye, "Red's probably hankering to see you. Take a week, fly down and visit, if you like."
Xander shrugs, says maybe, as if he's considering it. He really isn't. He doesn't give a shit about beers with the guys. He can cope with Willow's distance. He can even live the rest of his life missing the sun. But he can't handle missing Spike. And he won't -- not if he can help it.
Some adjustments are easy. Example: he's not going anywhere.
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