Guilt - Xander POV
I want to go home.
I know this get-together was for my benefit, and I love that the guys wanna make time for me, but all I want to do is go home.
I can hear voices in the background: Willow and Tara talking about the old photos they found, but I'm not really listening. I'm just concentrating on Spike and this ball we're tossing around. If I just focus on him, I can pretend we're back in my apartment, and forget about the rest of the world. Well, except for the times I throw it at Buffy. That'll teach her to call me fat and laugh at me, or it would if she wouldn't keep catching the damn thing.
I shouldn't be mad at Buffy, she's a good friend: they all are. I know they care about me and want to help me through this. They don't know how hard it's been, because...I don't tell them. I'm back to my old habit of cracking a joke at the most inappropriate time possible. It's just easier than having to actually deal with what I'm feeling.
"Hey Xander." Buffy's call brings me out of my thoughts.
"Ten...Nine...Eight..." What is she doing? I look down at my own watch and I see what time it is. Oh God, not again. I can feel the nausea starting to grow. I begin to feel flush all over and my mouth starts to water. My stomach feels like it's turning summersaults and I can't hold it in any longer.
"Three...Two...One" I put my hand over my mouth in an attempt to contain it until I can get to the bathroom. I run as fast as I can with my heavy load, up the stairs to the toilet.
It burns my throat as I retch and heave, tears stinging my eyes with the effort. I don't know how much more I can handle. I feel like my body is no longer my own. It betrays me every chance it gets with its size, the discomfort, the nausea...everything. I feel like I've been invaded and someone else is at the controls.
I shouldn't be thinking like this. I want this baby, I really do...I think. I need something of Anya to hold on to, to remember her by. Something of hers that will live on.
I get up to rinse my mouth and splash some cold water on my face. I can see myself in the mirror and I look like shit. My hair is plastered over my head from the sweat and I look really pale. Where did the guy I used to be go? The one with the tan and body built from years of construction work. Am I still me, like this?
I need to shake off these thoughts. I try to stand a little straighter, I take a deep breath and I head back down the stairs.
I can hear Giles clipped English tone, telling Buffy off. I know she didn't really mean it to hurt my feelings.
"You don't mind do you Xan?"
"Yeah sure Buff. Just playing." I don't really have the energy to say more than that.
"You forgive me right?"
"Sure Buff." Of course I forgive her: I'm a forgiving guy. It's not like I can ever stay mad at Buffy for long anyway. She just bats her long lashes at me and I cave. She moves forward to give me a hug, so I reciprocate. I don't really want to, but the sooner she gets this out of her system, the sooner we can get this evening over with, and I can go home.
"Jeez Xan, have you been using the pregnancy thing as an excuse to start eating like a million calories a day or something? You're big as a.....Ow!"
She moves away from my arms with a start. Someone actually managed to hit her with the ball? She's accusing Spike but I know it wasn't him. I mean with the chip, would he even be able to? I look over at the guys on the couch and Giles winks at me. Giles? Wow! Go Giles!
Buffy is going into super-sulk mode, so I think the party is over. I walk over to Spike and whisper in his ear. "Can you take me home? I don't feel so good." I can see the worry cross his face before the resolve sets in.
"Okay people. Me and Xander are off. Thanks for the fun and all that. Bye." He doesn't waste any time in getting us to the door and out the house. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. I don't really care at this point though, I just want to get home.
I climb into the passenger side of my car, Spike is at the wheel. He won't even let me drive my own car these days. He keeps saying that it's too stressful, and that's not good for the baby. Personally I just think he misses his Desoto. This is better. I have gotten so used to just Spike's company over the past couple of months, that it almost feels unnatural for it not to be just the two of us alone together. I'm not sure what I would have done if I didn't have him around.
He changes when it is just the two of us together. It's not a big change, but it's there if you watch carefully. It's not as if he starts fawning over me: trying to give me little mints on my pillow or foot rubs, or trying to knit little booties for the baby. I think he just relaxes a bit more with me. When he's around the others, he's snarky and sarcastic. His face seems to either take on a permanent scowl or a look of complete disinterest. With me, however, he smiles just a bit more often and he laughs just that little bit easier. His laughter makes me feel safe again, like maybe everything really is going to be okay.
"Bloody Slayer. If I didn't have this chip I'd...well probably do nothing, 'cause you wouldn't let me. But I'd want to do something really nasty. Daft cow! I can't believe I ever used to...." It sounds like this rant is going to be a long one. I don't mind, I like listening to the sound of his voice, no matter what he's saying. You probably wouldn't think so to hear his accent, but he has a very soothing voice. I've been lulled asleep a few times just listening to him talk.
We reach my apartment just as Spike finishes his tirade against Buffy. He can be very imaginative when planning violence. It was actually quite fun to hear him talk and my earlier mood seems to have lifted with the drive and his company. He helps me out of the car and we walk up to my apartment.
"Are you staying?" I ask this question to him every night, and the answer is always the same.
"If you don't mind?" I just smile and unlock the door. He knows I don't mind, just as much I know he will stay. He's spent practically every night, for the past couple of months, sleeping on my couch. My apartment is littered with his things: the odd CD; items of his limited wardrobe; empty packets of cigarettes. It feels like more of a home again with him here instead of just a building where I sleep and keep my stuff.
"So, you up for watching a video tonight?" He hangs his duster by the door and moves forward to stand in front of me.
"Nah. I'm beat, I think I might have an early night." I yawn to confirm my statement.
"Are you sure you're okay? You still look a bit pale from before." His hand is on my arm, slowly rubbing up and down in a soothing motion. I love his touch: it's so cool and comforting.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He's staring at me so intently, his eyes wide with concern. I give him a little smile to reassure him and he smiles back. It's not a smirk or a leer, just a simple smile. I move my hand up to touch his face. I slowly ghost my fingers over his lips. His expression changes and the smile is gone. I don't know how to read him now, but I need to get that smile back.
I lean forward slightly until I'm barely inches away. My hand moves over to his cheek, cupping his face in my palm. I close the distance between us and our lips touch. It's so soft and hesitant but it makes every nerve in my body come alive. Every one of my senses are heightened and all I can feel is this moment in time. He leans in a little further, I tilt my head slightly and the kiss deepens. His hand moves from my arm up to my face in a mirror image of my own. His other hand snakes around my waist and he pulls me close, our bodies locked together. He licks my lips softly and I open my mouth, our tongues touch briefly and he groans: a hungry; lustful groan, and reality comes crashing back down.
I break the kiss suddenly, I push him away and step back. God, what have I done?
"I uh...tired...sleep...I'm gonna go now." I'm stuttering. I don't know what to say, I just know I have to get out of here: away from him. He's looking at me, his lips still full and red from our kiss, but his face full of undisguised confusion and hurt.
"I'm sorry Spike. I have to...go now...away...sleep." He just stares at me as I back away towards my bedroom. He doesn't move from that spot, his hand raises slightly as if he's going to try and stop me, but he doesn't. I fumble for the doorknob behind me and I quickly step into my room and shut the door.
I immediately collapse to the floor, the back of my head resting against the door.
Oh God, what have I done? Anya! How could I do this to Anya? How could I betray her like this?
She died in my arms barely two months ago and I forgot that...for an instant I forgot that, and I kissed Spike. Oh God, I kissed Spike. I didn't mean to, I just... he was being so nice to me and his eyes were so blue and he smiled... I don't think I meant to.
What am I going to do? What is he going to think of me? What is everyone going to think of me?
I brush my fingers over my lips. If I close my eyes, I can still see his face the moment before I kissed him: his expression so open and expectant. I can still feel his lips on mine: so tender and... No! I have to stop thinking like this. It's so wrong. I'm not supposed to be happy. I'm not supposed to have... feelings for anybody. Not if she can't.
"Oh Anya baby, can you ever forgive me? Please forgive me," I whisper softly to myself. I wrap my arms around my bulging stomach, it seems oddly comforting now: a connection to her. I start to slowly rock myself back and forth.
Doubt - Spike POV
/ Dearest Xander, /
Oh God no. Do you want to scare the guy?
/ Dear Xander, /
No, still not right. Sounds too much like 'Dear John'.
/ Xander, /
Yes. Simple, to the point.
/ By the time you read this I will be gone. /
Way too melodramatic. What is this, some cheesy tv movie?
/ I have decided to leave Sunnydale. I'm going tonight. /
I have decided to leave Sunnydale. It sounds so simple put like that; like it was something I decided at the flip of a coin. Like it's not something I've agonised over for the past two weeks. Like it's not one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.
Most people think that hell is this place with fire and brimstone; I don't think so. I think it's much more personal than that. For me, it's a place where I have to see someone I... someone I care about look at me with...I don't know what look in his eyes. Fear maybe? Not fear for his life (because I would never harm him, and he knows that... I hope), but fear of his own reactions to me. I know he feels guilty over what happened. He's ashamed of what he did... of what we did, I can see it every time he refuses to look me in the eye.
Since that night, he's been scared to be alone with me, he's stopped asking me if I'm staying over. I still stay anyway, because I couldn't stand the thought of going back to my crypt alone, but all those nights we used to spend watching movies, or just relaxing in comfortable silence are gone. God, I miss them; I miss him. I'm not good on my own; I've never liked it, even as a human. I always felt like an outsider even in a crowed room of my supposed friends. When Dru left I almost went mad with the loneliness. Maybe that explains Harmony. But Xander filled that void in me, so as long as I had him as a friend, I knew everything would be okay. This is the first time in a while, where I've had to handle the thought of having to cope on my own again. The others are all there for Xander, as they should be. They can't be there for me as well.
I can see they've noticed the change between us, but it's like they're almost scared to mention it. They're too afraid of upsetting Xander, and driving him back into himself. I can see it in the way they all stare at the two of us when they think we can't see them; their minds working a mile a minute trying to figure out what changed. I doubt they'd ever guess this in a million years.
/ You don't really need me here. You have Willow and Giles and the rest. /
They can all look after him better than I ever could. The Slayer can protect him physically and Red can fuss over him and make sure he stays healthy. Rupert can help make sure he and the baby are provided for, and Dawn can just be a friend to him. He doesn't need me around.
/ I'll just get in the way. /
I don't know if I even felt that way for him until he kissed me. Maybe I did, but I didn't want to admit it to myself. Whatever way, it doesn't matter. That kiss awoke something in me that I don't think I can ignore, at least not if I stay here watching him withdrawing just that little bit further from me everyday.
I can remember it all so clearly: the feel of his lips; the warmth of his hand on my face; the rapid beating of his heart. I keep torturing myself with the memories over and over but I can't stop. I don't want to feel this bad, but I don't want to ever forget.
/ Don't feel bad about what happened. I know you still love Anya and miss her terribly. /
I heard his words after our kiss, after he backed away into his room, away from me.
"Oh Anya baby, can you ever forgive me? Please forgive me."
He just missed Anya, that's all it was. He needed to feel someone close to him, someone he could touch, something real instead of only a memory. I just happened to be there. If it had been Buffy, he probably would have done the same thing. I'm not sure I could ever begin to hope...to imagine that it could be me he would ever want.
/ You didn't do anything wrong. /
No, I did something wrong. I invaded his life after Anya died. I thought maybe I could help him through his pain, but instead I just helped him avoid it. He coped at first by blocking out the rest of the world. He just hid in his room, not acknowledging any of us, or the fact that he was still alive at all. I helped him out of that, but he just hid through me instead. He focused all his attentions on me and still blocked out the rest of the world. I didn't see it while it was happening because... I don't think I wanted to see it. I had someone in my life again; someone to take care of. I haven't had something like that since Dru. It felt good to be needed again: to have a purpose. But I was just being selfish, to which I guess I should be saying, 'yeah well, I'm a vampire, I am selfish, and evil, and all that. So what?'. But if I am a vampire and I'm supposed to be evil and I'm not supposed to care, then why do I feel so guilty?
/ The kid's going to be lucky to have a father like you. /
I really think he's going to be a bloody brilliant dad, but that's probably just another reason why I should go: what do I know about kids? Vampires and children should not mix. It's not as if I could take it to the park to play every day, or go to the beach and muck about in the sea and the sand every summer. Would Xander even want me around his child? I have the chip but I'm still a vampire, would he want to expose the kid to that kind of thing, from so young an age?
No, it's better this way. Sooner or later he would ask me to leave, they all would for the sake of the child, and I can't say I blame them.
So why do I keep coming up with this picture of a little kid, the perfect mix of Anya and Xander, looking up at me with big brown eyes, smiling and calling me Uncle Spike?
/ I lo- /