Skeleton in the Closet
When Xander arrived back in England, he was shocked to see Spike there. The last he had heard of Spike was he was dust in the crater that was once known as Sunnydale. What was even more shocking though was that they became closer friends over the passing months. It had to do with needing a male friend since he was surrounded by hundreds of girls; he loved his friends but he needed some guy time. Sure, he would spend time with Andrew to talk about sci-fi shows and movies but that wasn’t what he was all about anymore and needed some other type of guy time that involved beer and pool.
So that’s how Xander found himself now in a pub playing a few rounds of pool with Spike. He had lost the last three games, but that wasn’t so shocking since Spike had a lot more practice than Xander ever would.
They had a mutual agreement when they first started spending time together. Xander wouldn’t bring up what happened the night that Spike and his friends faced down Wolfram and Hart leaving Spike the only survivor in the alley that happened almost a year ago and Spike wouldn’t ask about Xander’s time in Africa. Xander refused to tell anyone about what had made him come back to England. They knew whatever it was it had to have been bad but never pushed him into discussing it. The one time they did he blew up at them telling them that it was none of their business and if they ever mentioned Africa again he would pack up and leave.
Spike watched as Xander lined up his next shot with hooded eyes. Over the last couple of months, he would find himself watching the man. Xander had changed since his time in Africa. He filled out more, bulked up. He looked like a grown up, maybe more than he should be. He knew something happened in Africa but knew better than to ask. He had been there for the blow-out between Xander and his friends and he feared that Xander would truly leave. He also noticed that Xander didn’t really smile as much as he did back in Sunnydale. Even at the worst of times, he would be the one to pep talk everyone and was the one to be able to crack a smile from anyone that was in the room. Even himself from time to time, not that he would admit to it. Spike missed Xander smiling and wanted to be the one that made him do it.
“Spike!” Xander all but yelled startling the vampire from his thoughts.
Spike shook himself out of his thoughts, “What?”
“You’re up,” Xander said with slight annoyance. He had been calling Spike’s name for a couple minutes and received no acknowledgement, which had him somewhat concerned.
“Right,” Spike bent over the table lining up his own shot. He only had to sink the eight ball and he would win another game.
Xander leaned against a pillar his eyes were drawn to Spike’s ass. He had to admit he had stolen a few peeks back in Sunnydale. Spike was sex on legs even when he was an ass. If things would have been different maybe, he would have done something about his attraction to the vampire but they weren’t different and he couldn’t go through heartache again.
Spike was now facing Xander his eyebrow cocked as Xander now stared at his cock. “You enjoying the view there, Harris?”
“What?” Xander’s head shot up a blush covering his face. “No!”
Spike pouted a bit, “You saying I’m not attractive?” He gave a fake sniffle.
“I mean… yeah, you’re good looking but I’m not into guys.” Xander replied weakly.
“Really? My nose says differently,” Spike slinked closer to Xander pressing him up against the support beam. He leaned in breathing in the scent of Xander.
Xander stiffened; Spike blew cool air against his neck. “You smell delicious pet.” Spike said before swiping his tongue over the flesh feeling the pulse pounding. “Taste even better.”
“Spike…” Xander let out a low moan. “What are you doing?”
“Obvious isn’t it?” Spike asked and placed small kisses across Xander’s neck and jaw. “Can I kiss you, Xan?”
Xander swallowed hard, “I-I thought you already were.”
“You know what I mean,” Spike replied pulling back slightly. “Been wanting to for so long, can I?”
His mind shut down when he saw Spike lick his lips. Xander could only nod his head. Spike was once again plastered against him, his lips on his own. Xander wrapped his arms around Spike slender form kissing back as good as he got, the kiss was hard and fierce. He only pulled back when he needed to breathe. While catching his breath his brain started working again and realized what he was doing. Xander pushed Spike away and shook his head. “I can’t, Spike.”
Spike glowered, “Can’t what? Be with me? I’m not good enough for you?”
“No, of course not. Look you wouldn’t understand, just believe me when I say that it’s better this way.” Xander said without giving much of an explanation. “Safer.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Spike asked quietly, he ran his thumb over Xander’s well-kissed lips. ”We could be happy.” He offered.
Xander shook his head, “Spike, I like you a lot. And because of that I can’t be with you.” He pushed Spike away again and walked around him grabbing his coat.
Spike watched as Xander walked out of the pub leaving him baffled at the statement.
Buffy found Spike smoking outside underneath a tree. She walked over to him and knelt in front of him. “What did you do?”
“What are you talking about?” Spike asked blowing smoke into the air.
“I’m talking about the fact that Xander stormed in slayer central upset more than I’d seen him since he came back from Africa. I also know it was your male bonding night, so again I ask, what did you do?” Buffy asked, her tone was firm.
Spike stubbed out the butt of his cigarette onto the bark of the tree. “I may have made a move on the pup.”
Buffy’s mouth fell open, “And you’re still walking around?” She then punched him in the arm. “I thought you were done torturing him.”
“Ow!” Spike scowled at her. “I wasn’t harassing the boy. I like him, alright?”
“Oh…” Buffy rubbed where she had punched him. “What did he say?”
Spike shrugged, “He said he liked me, but told me that’s why we couldn’t try.”
“I don’t get it. If he likes you, why doesn’t he want to be with you?” Buffy’s face scrunched up with confusion.
“I don’t have a bloody clue. He's off his rocker. Africa messed up his head; he hasn’t been right since he came back.” Spike said snidely.
Buffy punched him again this time in the chest harder than before. “You don’t know what he went through in Africa. None of us do. If you want him to actually believe that you give a damn about him maybe you should stop being such a prick.” She stood up glaring down at him. “Now I have to go train the girls.” She stormed off leaving Spike to think about what she'd said.
Willow knocked on Xander’s door before entering his room. He hadn’t found his own place yet but for the most stayed in his room unless it was to help fight evil, hang out with Spike or sometimes Andrew. He had been avoiding the girls and Giles in fear they would try to question his time in Africa again.
“Xander, what’s wrong?” Willow asked. She sat on Xander’s bed where he was pretending to read a comic.
“Nothing, everything is fine, Wills,” Xander said. That had been his catch phrase since returning to England.
Willow grabbed the comic from his hands tossing it onto the floor. “No, you’re not! You have been back for months and you’re different.”
“We’re all different.” Xander shot back. “Giles is in charge guy, Buffy is leader gal and you’re souped-up uber witch girl. Did you really expect me to stay the same after everything?”
She grabbed his hand, “Of course not. I know things have been hard. With the loss of Anya and then finding out about Cordelia, we’re not expecting you to be our goofy loveable Xander right now, but it’s eating you alive. That and whatever happened in Africa.”
“Willow,” Xander growled her name.
“Calm down, I’m not pushing.” Willow replied calmly. “But you are going to have to talk about it. It doesn’t have to be to me or even Buffy but you need to talk about it before it kills you.”
He laid his head down on her lap where she began to rake her hand through his hair. “I miss the good old days. You, me and Jesse, no vampires or demons, all we had to worry about was what we were gonna do on the weekend or what the homework assignments were going to be. I also miss when we knew that the demons were the bad guys and all we had to do was kill them instead of getting to know them.”
“You’re talking about Spike,” Willow said softly her hand continued to massage his scalp.
“Yeah, I’m such a hypocrite.” Xander mumbled. “After all the grief I gave Buffy over the years for crushing on the evil dead and what do I do? The exact same thing.”
“Do you think she’s going to be mad at you?” Willow asked.
Xander shook his head causing his brown locks to bounce. “No, I wish she would though.”
“Why?” Willow requested.
“Because than that could be my excuse for not wanting to be involved with Spike.” Xander replied quietly.
“You need to tell Spike the reason, Xan.” She made him sit up. “Go talk to him.”
“I don’t even know what to say.” Xander said standing up.
Willow stood as well pulling him towards the door. “Tell him why you can’t be together. It might make you feel better.”
With a nod, Xander stood up straighter and made his way to find Spike. He only hoped that Spike would understand.
Xander found Spike still under the tree that Buffy had found him under early. He slowly made his way over to him. His hands buried deep in his jean pockets. “Hey,” Xander said weakly.
Spike looked up surprised that Xander came to him. He was just working on going to see him. He just needed to get his emotions under control enough to actually talk. “Hey.”
“I’m sorry about earlier,” Xander said his head was down but he was watching Spike through his bangs. He really did need to get a haircut.
“Nothing to apologize for mate, you’re not interested in getting involved with a vampire. It’s not really that shocking, you’ve made your feelings about us quite clear over the years, yeah?” Spike brushed it off. Maybe he didn’t have his emotions in check enough for this discussion. He didn’t need Xander; there were plenty of other people that would like to be with him. He was sexy; people were always tripping over each other to just talk with him when he went out to pubs.
Xander gracefully sat down on the grass. “Spike, I’m not as blind as I use to be. I was a dumb kid back than. It was easier to think all demons were evil. That has nothing to do with why we can’t… whatever it is that you want.”
“You keep saying stuff like that, yet you continue to fail at the reason.” Spike growled he lit a cigarette.
Xander watched the coal glow bright red. “I’m cursed.”
Spike’s eyes widened, he dropped his cigarette and stood up grabbing a hold of Xander pulling him up as well. “Why didn’t you say something, you twit? Red and Ripper can fix you right up.” He began pulling Xander towards the house. “You’ve been back from Africa for months and you never said a bloody word!” Spike snarled.
“Spike!” Xander dug his heels into the ground making Spike stop. “I’ve been cursed long before Africa.”
“What are you talking about?” Spike frowned wishing he hadn’t just wasted his last cigarette.
“Just can we sit down? Please,” Xander asked.
Spike nodded and pulled Xander back towards the tree. He pushed Xander onto his butt before he leaned against the tree looking down at him. “Tell me.”
“Everyone that I get romantically involved with…” Xander looked down. “They die, Spike. Anya and than Cordelia, because of me they got sucked into this life. Look at where that got them. They joined the fight for the greater good and they end up dying.”
“You think you’re responsible for their deaths?” Spike asked astounded.
Xander nodded lowering his head. “I dragged them into this life and in the end; I ended up hurting both of them. You think they suffered enough, but no.”
Spike knelt in front Xander taking a hold of his chin making him look up. “You listen and you listen good. You are not responsible for any of that. They choose to fight, you didn’t force them.” Spike glared when Xander opened his mouth. “Does it sound like I’m finished?”
“No,” Xander answered meekly.
“They joined because they knew it was what was right. They went out like heroes saving this bloody world. Do you honestly believe that they are in heaven cursing you out for that?”
“No… they are probably talking about how my taste in clothes has improved.” Xander replied with a small sad smile.
Spike chuckled slightly than became serious. “I lost my friends in the fight against Wolfram and Hart. All of them, do you see me hiding away? Yes, it hurts losing people you care about. You’ll never stop missing them but you can’t make yourself miserable for the rest of your life. Like I told Buffy years ago, you’ve got to keep on living.”
Xander knew Spike was right, he couldn’t just hide away from being happy. “Spike, I’m not the same guy I was back in Sunnydale.”
“What are you talking about?” Spike asked. What else could the boy have been hiding?
“In Africa I did things,” Xander started pausing trying to figure out where to start.
“You don’t have to tell me.” Spike said softly. He wanted to know but he didn’t want to push Xander.
“I was in some small village in Lesotho searching out a new slayer. I was there for almost a month, her family didn’t trust me. I didn’t really blame them it’s kind of a shock to find out their fifteen year old daughter is meant to save the world. I decided to help the village, building better shelters stuff like that while I tried to convince them that I could help give her a better life in England. The day that they finally decided to let her go with me, the village was attacked. A group of kru’cka attacked.” Xander told Spike looking solemn. Spike’s eyes enlarged. “I know. Kind of far from their home, they are known more in the northern area of Africa not the southern. I guess they decided to expand their horizons.
“The people were terrified; they had never seen a real demon before. My guess is that they got word of the slayer and decided to take one out themselves. There were only three of them but they were older, and faster. As soon as they came into the village they sensed her. They killed anyone who got in their way. Her family was killed trying to protect their only child. Dahia, the slayer she was handling her own even without any training. It must have been the adrenaline. While she was distracting them, I was able to kill two of them with a titanium dagger. The third one was a little tougher but eventually I was able to take it down.” Xander trailed off lost in the memory.
“I turned to tell Dahia that she did a good job and that with training she would be a great slayer. She was on the ground panting hard. The last demon got a swipe in before I was able to kill it. Its talons were so sharp they sliced through her stomach; her insides were literally on the outside. I don’t know how but she was still alive. She begged me to kill her.” Tears filled Xander’s eyes. “I never even hesitated, Spike! I didn’t question it, I just did it. I snapped her neck without a second thought.”
Spike didn’t speak he just pulled Xander into a hug purely for solace, it had nothing to do with attraction right now. “What you did, it wasn’t wrong. You saved the girl from any more suffering. She’s at peace with her family.”
Xander shook his head, “If it wasn’t for me, she’d still be alive!”
“Do you bloody well honestly believe that?” Spike asked in earnest. “Those demons would have tracked her down one way or another. If it hadn’t been for you a lot of other people would have died from them. You saved their lives.” He pulled away. “You may not be the boy you were in Sunnydale but you grew up to become a hell of a man.”
Xander wiped his nose on the sleeve of his coat, “It sucks being a Scooby sometimes.”
“Being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but we keep fighting.” Spike stated softly. “All we can do is hope we keep winning and find some happiness somewhere in the mix of the battles.”
“Do you think you could really find happiness with me, Spike?” Xander whispered.
Spike’s blue eyes stared into Xander’s hazel ones, “Course I do, luv. You’re strong, brave, passionate and stubborn.” He said with a smile. “I think if you gave me a chance we could make each other happy.”
Xander pulled Spike into a kiss; it wasn’t like their first kiss, this one was slow and loving. He pulled away and leaned his forehead against Spike’s. “I think you could make me happy.”
“I know I could make you happy, pet,” Spike purred. “I’ll give you everything you want.”
“The only thing I want is you with me.” Xander replied honestly. Spike was right; he couldn’t hide himself away from being happy. Cordelia and Anya would want him to move on and be happy. He was sure they never would have thought Spike could be the one to do that.
Spike smiled, not a smirk but a real smile. “You got me, Xan, and I promise I’m not going anywhere.”
He knew he would never lose Spike, he was too good a fighter and Xander wouldn’t allow it. Tomorrow he would inform Spike that he would start training Xander, if he was going to help keep Spike around, he was going to have to learn how to actually kick some demon butt. And maybe there would be some pinning involved. That thought brought a real smile to Xander’s face.
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