Part One

"Luv? Are you alright?" Xander had been hit by a blast of energy and knocked flat on his ass. Without even thinking, Spike was right at his side, helping him up, making sure he wasn't hurt. They hadn't told anyone they were together... dating... a couple... having sex... in love. Xander wasn't ready to admit to his friends that he not only was gay, but his chosen partner was dead… undead… whatever.

Xander gave Spike a pointed stare as the vampire helped him stand. "Yeah, I'm fine," he ground out. He shook his arm out of Spike's grasp and stalked away. The blond growled quietly and quickly followed the boy out of the house and down the street.

"Wait up, Luv," Spike called out. Xander stopped, dropped his head and turned around. "I'm sorry, Xander. I can't help it. Bloody feelings keep getting the better of me." He paused, jaw clenching. "I can't not show how much I care about you. I know you don't want your… friends… to know about me… us… this, but, Jesus wept, it's starting to make me go off my trolly! It's not like I want to shag you in front of them. I just want to be able to show my feelings."

Xander looked up at Spike. "I know, baby, but I'm just not ready. I just can't. The way I treated Buffy when she was with Angel… Willow, when she came out… to see the looks of disappointment on their faces. I can't handle that right now." Both men started to back away from each other. Before anything could be said, Xander turned and ran down the street. Tears blinding his vision as he ran and cried. He knew by the look on Spike's face that he had really screwed things up this time. He ran home and sank to the floor, leaning against the back of the door.

Spike stared after the dark-haired man who long ago had won his heart. However, he was hurt. Every time Xander had denied his feelings and their relationship to his friends cut Spike to the quick. This time, it was too much. "He's ashamed of me… of what we have. Fine. I don't need this, neither of us do," he walked back to the Magic Box, careful to wipe any trace of tears or upset from his face.

"Where's Xander," Willow asked as Spike walked back in the door.

"Went home. He'll be fine." Willow nodded and went back to talking with Buffy and Giles about the spell they were working on. "Umm… I've got to get out of town for a while. Think the Hellmouth is starting to mess with me head. Last time I talked to Peaches, he mentioned summat about needing some help in L.A. Think I'll go there for a while, in case anyone needs me." Everyone stared at Spike. No one could believe what they were hearing. They knew that since he had regained his soul, he was talking to his Sire more, asking for help and advice, but no one expected him to voluntarily go live with and help Angel. "Tell Xander... just... tell Xander." As quickly as he came, he was gone.

Spike didn't go back to Xander's to get his things, he just left. Xander waited all night for him to come home. The next day he went to Buffy to tell her that Spike never came home and she told him about the blond leaving town. He did his best to hide his emotions. Over the next few weeks Xander threw himself into his work, but Spike was always in his mind. He kept a picture of the two of them Willow had taken with a digital camera by the bed. They had started throwing popcorn at each other and ended up wrestling on the floor. Buffy had dumped a pitcher of water on them and Willow snapped the picture. She made copies and gave one to both of them. Proof of their friendship she had said.

Xander went out to the bars nearly every night. He wallowed in self-pity and beer, occasionally picking up someone to take home to take his mind off Spike for a few hours. It didn't matter if the person was male or female, but he did his best to stay away from demons. He wanted to forget for a little while, not end up dead.

Spike stayed at a hotel in L.A. He helped Angel when he was needed, but tried to stay out of everyone's way in order to keep the peace. Even with his soul, he was still rude and snarky and tended to grate on people's nerves. He also wanted a little freedom. Angel was the type that would criticize him for drinking too heavily or partaking in libations of the illegal variety. Spike was one vampire who liked his drugs. Pot, coke, speed, trip, horse, anything and everything… anything and everything that will make him forget for a while. He bedded men and women alike, anyone he thought might make him forget. He couldn't.

"Spike, pack your shit. We're going back to Sunnydale... tonight." Angel wouldn't take no for an answer, so Spike packed what little he had and returned to the Hellmouth, knowing he would see Xander, hoping he would be welcomed back. If only he could convince Xander that they needed to quit hiding. If only...

2 Picture

Spike sat up in the hotel bed, some nameless girl asleep beside him. He lit a cigarette and glanced at the girl, then out the open window.

Livin' my life in a slow hell
Different girl every night at the hotel
I ain't seen the sunshine in three damn days

He stood and crossed the room. Escape sat temptingly on the bureau. He quickly downed a shot.

Been fuelin' up on cocaine and whiskey
Wish I had a good girl to miss me
Lord I wonder if I'll ever change my ways

Spike looked at the picture in his wallet, then closed his eyes and put it down. Tears formed in the stormy blue eyes.

I put your picture away
Sat down and cried today
I can't look at you while I'm lying next to her

Xander sat at the Bronze. Buffy, Willow and Dawn danced to the house band, occasionally glancing at their friend with sad eyes.

I called you last night in the hotel
Everyone knows, but they won't tell
But their half-hearted smiles tell me somethin' just ain't right

He looked at his watch, glanced at the door and sighed. Refilling his glass from the third bottle they shared, he quickly downed his wine.

I've been waitin' on you for a long time
Fuelin' up on heartaches and cheap wine
I ain't heard from you in three damn nights

He got home with the blond he picked up at the bar after the girls left and quietly slipped a photo in a drawer.

I put your picture away
I wonder where you've been
I can't look at you while I'm lyin' next to him

While on patrol, Xander and Willow ran into Spike, talking with Angel.

I saw you yesterday with an old friend





It was the same ol' same, how have you been

"It's been a while."

"Yeah, it has."

Since you've been gone my worlds been dark and gray

"You're looking well. Healthy. Tanned."

You reminded me of brighter days

"Well, you know, construction. So, you movin' back to town, or just visiting?"

I hoped you were coming home to stay

"Dunno yet. Just testin' the waters. See if the old place wants me back. You off to slay something?"

"Yep, demons in the old Lutheran on Rosemont."

I was headed to church

"See you at the Bronze later?"

"Sure thing."

I was off to drink you away

Their lips met in a soft, unsure kiss. Alone together again, ghosting touches over skin.

I thought about you for a long time
Can't seem to get you off my mind
I can't understand why we're living life this way

"I missed you."

"Me too, pet."

"Stay. Things will be different. Please stay."

I found your picture today
I swear I'll change my ways
I just called to say I want you to come back home

"The whole deal? I love you, I want the world to know."

"The whole deal. I promise, just stay."

I just called to say I love you, come back home

The End