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Ok, so the plot bunny that finally bit as an angsty, pathetic one.
For some reason, I'm just in the mood to make myself cry!
Totally unbeta'd, set sometime after season 7.
Spike is obviously dead and well...undead and well...ok, y'all get what I mean!

Songs are Smile and Dangerous, cuz thats what I'm listening to!
By GotR of course...I'm such a whore!






Smoke


by
Kyrieane





Part One



Xander Harris looks around the loft with an appreciative gleam in his eye. His apartment bought and paid for with his very own money! Two years of working his fingers to the bone, literally, but now he has a home. As far away from Sunnydale as he can get, and still be in the states. After the final battle, he had tuned down Willow and Giles’ offer to come to London, and continue the harvest of potentials. Deciding instead to take his boss up on the offer to be a ‘mobile technician’, in layman’s terms, to go where he was needed, and fix what was broken. And boy had it paid off. Enough money socked away to buy his own place, and invest in a small architecture firm. Several years with hands on experience in the field counted a long way towards a degree. Only one more test, and he would have his Masters degree in architectural design. His place, his company, his future. With him in charge! Feeling a surge of energy, akin to a chocolate overload, he grabs his battered bomber jacket, adjusts his eyepatch, and heads out on the town.

[New Orleans…. wonder what Anne Rice had in mind? Almost Christmas, wonder if I should get the girls something? Hey! Crystal cups, I forgot. Bar hop in style! Mmmm, blues type bar, Will Brently, why is that name familiar?]

With a jaunty step, Xander walks down the few steps to the bar door. A thick, husky voice rolls over the top of the patrons. [Why do I know that voice…that name?] Slowly edging his way to a corner table, staying carefully in the shadows. The figure on the small stage had tousled honey blond curls, long enough to fall carelessly over his brow, hanging down to dance around his ears. He wore a dove gray button down shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, top two buttons undone to reveal a pale, sculpted collarbone. In his lap was cradled an electric guitar, and he could play! [Wait! What? Long brown hair? Dangerous? Is he singing about Dawnie?]

“Let’s try this real quick!” the man on stage stands up, throwing a feral, energized smile at the crowd, and fingers the strings. The pure joy on his face is breathtaking. Xander feels his heart skip, a fire starting low in his belly. The female half of the crowd begins clapping, chanting ‘dangerous’. The song ends, and he sits back down, scanning the crowd. Picking up a glass, taking a long pull. Smiling at the crowd again, he begins to mesmerize the group with his cultured British voice.

“I’ve been here what, a year now?” a chorus of ‘yes’s’ answer him.

“Most of you are aware that I come from across the pond, er, ocean. Sorry. But I spent several years in California. There were these kids there, called themselves the Scoobies, that last song was about my Nibblet. Dangerous doesn’t even cover it.” A smattering of laughter at this. The man is totally comfortable in the spotlight, and Xander can tell this is a story that has been told many times.

“All right, back to beautiful stuff. This is called Smile.” With a rueful shake to his head, he begins to croon.

Feeling tears threaten in his eye, ducking his head so that chestnut locks hide his face. Memories flood the young man as he remembers the incredible chemistry between the Slayer and the Vampire. The fighting and the fucking. And the love. Xander knew that Buffy had loved the blond, but it was more of a primal thing. She had loved the total lack of moral complications that the vampire had offered her. Spike had loved what he couldn’t have. Loved the boundaries and limits that she had put on him. Both had been reaching for impossibilities. Xander couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment that he had fallen for the other man, somewhere between leaving Anya at the altar, and the end of the world. Being the realist that he was, Xander knew that his feelings would never be returned. Not wanting to face that kind of humiliation, he had kept silent. When the end came, and they all went their separate ways, he had left. Wanting to make his life worth something. To be something besides a side kick, to make himself worthy to be loved.

The song ended while he was deep in thought, but the familiar voice pulled him out.

“Buffy was this golden child. So pure and perfect even at her worst. And beyond my grasp. Knew it when I fell for her, knew it when I walked out of her life. ‘S a bad habit of mine. Can’t see what is plain on my face. But, oh God her smile. Could light up the darkest corners of my heart.”

Xander sat, motionless, through the rest of the set. Sneaking out as soon as the lights fell.

[He walked away, I walked away. New Orleans is big enough that we will never see each other. Not like he saw me to begin with.] Shoulders slumped with resignation; he made his way back to his apartment, falling bonelessly into bed.





Part Two



Completely within his element, shaping and forming elegant structures, Xander threw himself into his new company. Taking bids to restore some of the older homes in the area, he spent his days pouring over blueprints. Not having to use the portion of his brain relating to emotions, saving that for his nights.

Feet having a life of their own, taking him night after night back to the smoky blues club. Sitting in the corner, drinking a beer, head tucked, face hidden. Feeling every scrap of love and passion he had thought was safely tucked away. Xander had started bringing his journal into the club with him, writing down the flood that always accompanied the sets. There were days he could identify the situation that had prompted the lyrics to a song. Times when he could see events playing out in his mind. Other times, all he could do was identify with the emotion pouring out of the vamp. And always, without fail, leaving before Spike was off stage.

“Hey Will.” The bartenders’ voice surprises the blond.

“Calla.”

“You been havin any…problems?” the older woman treated the blond like a long lost child, looking out for him, and fixing him up on dates.

“Nope. No problems. Why?” confusion mars his features.

“There’s this guy. Comes in every night.” She nods her head towards the back of the bar. “Sits in the corner, like he’s hiding. Drinks a beer. Writes. Never looks up, doesn’t watch or anything. Sometimes he shakes his head, like he’s trying to get rid of something.” She pauses, waiting to see his reaction.

“And he looks like….?” Curioser and Curioser.

“Brunette, big. Eye patch.” Concerned when her already pale friend blanches.

“I…it can’t be.” Whirling around, furious at the intrusion to his life. Stalking to the corner table. Shaggy brown head dipped low, frantically scratching in a leather-bound book. Half drank beer at his elbow.

“What in the bleedin hell are you doing here, whelp?” hissing as only a vampire could. Cerulean eyes flashing with gold. Brow ridges rippling in fury.

One pain filled whisky eye looking up. Bottomless in its misery.

“Intruding. Sorry.” Xander stands, scooping up his journal, darting around the livid blond.

“Oh no, hell no. What are you doing here?” slim hand darting out to wrap around a muscled bicep. “Never mind, I don’t care, don’t want to know. Get the hell out of my bar, out of my town. Got it?”

Shrugging helplessly, shaking off the pale vice. A single tear, trailing down tanned skin.

Releasing the younger man, Spike watches the pain filled face relax back into remembered nonchalance.

“Going now. Sorry.” Striding away, defeat rolling off his strong frame. Leaving the bar.

``````````````

Xander had been prepared for anger, could deal with it. But the pure, blinding fury darkening those pale features had doused his fantasies. He knew now, without a doubt, that even friendship with the blond was out of the question. He had played it out a thousand times in his mind, his dreams. Spike realizing he was there, offering friendship, comfort, and love. All of the things he so desperately craved. Knowing he couldn’t stay in New Orleans, couldn’t stay that close, and be so completely hated, the young man began making plans to sell his apartment, and his share in the company.

24 hours later, any hope that Spike would magically appear on his doorstep gone, Xander had put his apartment up for sale. Several pieces of handcrafted furniture had been lovingly wrapped for storage. The movers had been contacted, and would be there later in the week. Plane ticket to London paid for and waiting at the airport. Shares in the company sold to the other partners. One remaining detail. Shortly after seeing Spike perform the first time, Xander had noticed that the blond owned about 6 guitars. Wanting to make some sort of gesture, he had begun designing and creating a custom guitar case. Dark teak, Big enough to hold 10 guitars, hand carved night orchid gracing the scalloped doors. The only electric equipment that had touched the teakwood had been the saw used to cut the boards. All the detailing, all the intricacies had been done by hand. Countless hours spent pouring over the plans; new calluses formed by the small, unfamiliar woodworking tools. But the damn thing was perfect. Now to get it to the club.

“Hello? Yes, Alex Harris again. I need something to be delivered. Something very big, and heavy. Yeah, to the Crying Club. Tonight if possible. Ok, yes, I will be here until tomorrow. Thank you”

Spike.

Sorry, didn’t mean to intrude. Please accept this as my apology.

Xander

Tucking the note inside the case, knowing the movers would have all the right stuff to make the case safe for transport, he heads to the office to clean out his desk.

```````````

Waking as soon as the sun makes it final descent, Spike realizes that he is still completely pissed off. How dare Harris come in here, tryin to muck up his life? He had spent almost a year running and hiding from the pain, the misery, of facing the truth. The woman he loved enough to get a soul for would never, ever, return that love. Loved him enough to let him about die for her, but not enough to just love him. Over 150 years of experience, and not smart enough to stay away from the fire. Disgusted with himself, and the emotions that seeing Xander had resurrected the blond pushes off the bed. Time to go to work. Taking a shower, busying himself with heating his blood, Spike lets the normal activities of routine sooth him. Lovingly picking out the guitars he is going to play that night. ‘Just one more hidden talent’. Shrugging on his duster, making his way to the bar.

“Everything work out last night?” Calla’s voice stops the blond in his tracks.

“Yup. Got it all clear.” He continues to the small stage,

“Good, then care to explain the present?” he stops again, spinning around to face the woman.

“What pressie?” probably a case of garlic, knowing the whelps sense of humor.

“Huge box, behind the stage.” She tosses an evil smile, “seems you have an admirer. Can I have him when you are done?” gently teasing her adopted son.

Without replying, he slowly makes his way to the back of the stage. The box is huge, taller than he is, well over 6 feet, and more than 4 foot wide. Pulling out a small knife, he carefully slices the tape. Prepared for stakes, axes, anything other than the magnificent case that is revealed.

“That is not admiration. That is love.” Calla’s voice behind him doesn’t really surprise the vampire. Her curiosity was legendary.

“Hand carved teak, do you know how expensive teak is? Are those night blooming orchids?” awe making her voice husky.

Reaching out a trembling hand, Spike gently traces the fragile-looking flowers. Memories flood his mind. All the times Xander had walked into danger, had willing put himself between claws and teeth, and his friends. All the times he had, out of the blue, talked to him. Without the snarky comments. The blood, the safety the boy had provided. Without asking anything in return. Could it be true? Did Xander love him?

“Sorry Calla, have to see a boy, about a boy.” Spinning on his heel, he almost misses her words.

“There’s a note, don’t you want it?” she holds out a small slip of paper.

Snatching it from her, he reads it quickly.

“He’s leaving, running. Shit!” grabbing his duster, flying out of the bar. Without a clue as to where he was going.





Part Three



Taking a final look at the city he had come to love, Xander settles back into his seat. Pulling out his journal, he makes a final entry.

‘Well, I’m leaving. I should have known better than to stay after the first time. Should have left the moment I saw him. Could have kept my fantasies. How fucked up is that? 25 years old, still having wet dreams, not having the balls to do anything about them. Such is the Xanderlife. I will never be good enough, strong enough. Never just be enough. This is probably the last noble act of the Zeppo. I will go quietly into that goodnight. Going home to Willow, find a nice quiet place to melt. Don’t really know why it has taken me this long. Why? Why am I so fucked up? Why cant I just be enough?’

Pulling out a wrinkled flyer, a playbill for The Crying Club, looking once more at the beloved face drawn there. Xander carefully folds it up, and tucks it in behind his final entry.

``````````

England fits Xander, gray skies and wet air. He avoids Willow and the rest of the girls for the first two weeks, finally coming up for air when a weapons chest is finished. Book cases and sword stands begin tumbling from his workshop at a frantic speed. The doors are kept locked at all times, and their insistent knocking is met by aggrieved silence.

Faith is finally convinced to kick the door in, after the girls reported that Xander hadn’t been out of the cottage for over a week. She glances around, awed at the pieces of hand carved wood littering the tiny workshop. Roses and tigers, falcons and snakes. Shadowed in a corner, a delicately worked dividing screen. Ancient protective runes worked in rolling filigree. Gilded gold and lacquered black. Faith has a flare of jealousy at whomever the screen is intended.

A pair of ragged boots peek out from underneath a roll top desk, she shakes her head, Xander hadn’t gotten any neater in the almost decade that she has known him. Bending over to pick up the boots, move them out of harms way, she’s stunned to realize the boots are still attached to Xander’s feet.

“Holy fuck.” Her voice drops to a desperate whisper, she falls to her knees, scrabbling around the base of the desk.



``````````

Spike spends every waking, non-working minute of the next two months looking for Xander. Scanning the crowd for his familiar face. Sending out pleas through the demon community. Nothing. Not a peep, not a sound.

“Hey Will!’ Calla’s shout shakes him from his quiet.


“Yeah, pet.” Sliding off the stool, he saunters to the bar.

“Phone. Says her name is Willow, and to get your ass on the phone, its long distance.” Handing the shaking man the phone, she steps back to give him privacy.

“Willow?” voice tremulous with fear.

“Oh my Goddess! Spike? Is that really you?” her voice is pitched high with emotion.

“Yeah Red, its me.” Throat tight with trepidation.

“I am so going to chew you out later. Right now…. What did you do to Xander?” she is now yelling into the phone.

“Didn’t do nothin to the whelp. He came in here, I got mad, he left. End of story.” So that’s where he went, relief courses through his body.

“Spike, I am at the hospital right now, and don’t really have a lot of time to explain. Xander came here two months ago. He was…. Broken is the only word I can think of. He bought a cottage, turned it into a workshop. All he does is carves things. Builds things for the girls. He barely eats barely drinks. Never leaves. The only reason we knew he was hurt is cuz Faith went to pick up a bookcase. The doctor said if he had lain there any longer, he would be dead. Now, what did you do…hello? Spike?” silence envelops the witch, and a feeling of foreboding settles in her bones.

``````````````

“I give up, Wills. I’m too tired to fight anymore.” Spike stands outside the hospital room door, eavesdropping on the shattering conversation.

“Xan, please…” Willow whispers, agonized.

“I am 25 years old, and a waste at everything I do. You should have just left me there to bleed out.” Spike can hear the rustle of crisp cotton sheets, bunching up as Xander turns away from his oldest friend.

“Go take care of the world, I’ll call when they release me.” The vampire can smell the grief in the room. Tangible. Violently bitter. He can hear the witch’s chair scraping against the linoleum, she stands to leave.

“I love you, Xander.” Her soft cry falls on deaf ears; Xander is too lost within himself to hear her.

Spike ducks around the corner, not wanting Willow to see him just yet, waits until her stunning red hair disappears inside the elevator, chrome doors blocking out the misery etched on her face.

Silently entering the room, he is stunned at the frail creature huddled beneath the hospital sheets. Dull brown hair lays limp against the blindingly white pillow. Long knobby arms rest listlessly over prominent ribs. Spike can count the bones of his spine through he open back of the faded blue gown. The sheet is bunched up on his hip, but does not disguise the sharp ridges and deep valleys of his waist and ass.

An electric tingle race up the vampires' back, he can smell a powerful spell hovering over the figure.

“I can hear you not breathing there, Spike.” The empty voice rumbles in the quiet room.

“What happened?” Spike takes up residence in the still warm chair Willow had sat in. Xander snorts, bony shoulders quivering.

“Does it matter?” he rolls over to face Spike. The vampire sniffs the air again, picking up traces of grief and love from the witch, and pure salty loneliness from the boy. No pain, no love, no loss. Only an encompassing sensation of being alone.

“What happened. “ he repeats, voice now low and razor sharp catching Xanders eye, dirty and dull, with his own, flashing lethal gold.

“I made a wish.” The brunette replies, “just a wish from a born and bred Hellmouthian.” He turns his face away, staring blankly at the wall. “D’Hoffryn said it was one of the most original he had heard in a century, and that I had potential. That Anya had made a wise choice with me.” Spike has a sudden sense of Déjà vu. This blank, flat nothingness is the same sensation he gets every time he passes in front of a mirror. Some part of him still expects to see a reflection peering back at him. He shudders violently.

“What was the wish?” Keeping his voice as toneless as possible, fists clenched tight around the arms of the chair. Xander laughs again. The sound is tinny, metallic in Spikes ears.

“I wished that every drop of love I had for you would pour into that guitar case. Then poof, big plume of smoke in my workshop. D’Hoffryn standing there like a friend. Said he could do me one better, and let all of my emotions bleed into whatever I was carving. That’s the key, have to carve it by hand, and put a little of my blood onto it. So far I have gotten rid of love, joy, hope. Passion, protection and anger. Hate, desire, and sadness. All of them, except one.” He falls silent, ignoring the vampire silently weeping next to him.

“What’s the one then, pet?” Spike scrubs his face, trying to obliterate his own emotions.

“Loneliness, Spike. Just…I’m alone. All the time. I don’t want to be anymore. So that’s it. Now you know. Go away.”

“I don’t have time for this, Xander. I have a life now. A good one.” The vampires' voice is rough, plaintive. Soul wanting to coddle him, snuggle him better, and the demon howling to drain him, put the miserable wretch out of his misery. Xander turns that blank, dead eye on him again.

“I never asked you to. I never asked you for anything, really, now did I?”





Part Four



Stalking onto council grounds, Spike sets off every ward and alarm spell protecting the compound. His eyes glow a furious old gold color, and in his rage his vampiric face is clearly visible. Willow, who has immediately keyed into the intruder, is stunned senseless at the depth of pain and fury rolling off the demon. The moment he reaches the front door, she throws a binding spell on the house guards. She waits for him calmly, knowing he well scent her out, and find her.

The double doors to the meeting room are thrown back with a shattering violence; she has dreaded this confrontation since Xander returned to England

"Two questions, Red." She can see him struggle to pull his human face. "One, why the hell did you leave him there like that? Two, can you summon D'Hoffryn?" he strides into the room, coming face to face with Willow.

"So that's where the spell came from." She murmurs quietly, almost to herself.

"Yeah, that's where it came from. Answers, Red. Chips gone, torture and bloodshed's back on the list of things to do." He sits down in a ladder-back chair, propping his feet oh so casually on the table. Looking for the entire world like a social caller. Willow isn't fooled.

"We aren't going to get very far if we start this out threatening each other, Spike." She folds her arms across her chest, giving him her sternest mommy stare, the one she has perfected on the teen Slayers.

"Well now, I dunno 'bout that, Red. Seems to have worked well enough in the past. Tell ya what. We'll do a bit of tit for tat. I'll tell you what happened in New Orleans, and you tell me what happened here. We can take it from there, yeah?" He crosses his arms over his belly, trying to comfort the clenching nausea that seems to have taken up permanent residence there. Willow considers his offer for a long tense moment, finally nodding her assent, and sitting down opposite the blond.

"You first," she says, tone brooking no argument. "New Orleans came before England, so its only fair." Her expression softens at the naked anguish in his azure eyes.

"I was singin in a club," he begins, voice low and tremulous. "Been there for about a year when he came in. Calla said he had been sittin back in the corner for a while, wanted to know if he was causin any problems after my sets. When she told me what he looked like…"springing from his chair, the vampire stalks around the room. "I was so fuckin pissed, Willow. The soul just cowered in the corner of my mind. If he'd tried to touch me then, I woulda ripped his fuckin throat out. Danced in his blood." His eyes glaze at the remembered rage. "I thought he was there to ridicule me, to invade the life I had made. Instead, he apologized, and left. Wasn't until later that I figured it out. He sent me a gift. And I knew. I knew I had to find him, but by then it was too late. That's what happened." He stops pacing. Stands in the corner like he is bracing the wall. Staring at Willow.

"Are you done pacing? Because I'm getting a headache. Ok? Ok." She takes a deep breath, bracing herself.

"Xander showed up here about two months ago. He was…missing something. Something Xanderish. He walked in and kissed me. We didn't even know he was coming. Then he went out to the cottage. About two days later, all his tools showed up, and he went out and bought a fortune in wood. Expensive wood, like Teak, and mahogany. Then he started making stuff. A new weapons chest, book cases, tables. And he wouldn't let anybody into the cottage. Little by little, pieces kept disappearing, like he was cutting off parts of his body." Willow buries her face in her hands, shudders wracking her slender form.

"Sorry," her hands muffle her voice. "It's like…you know how you put two magnets together, only you put north and north? And it pushes? That's what its like." Scrubbing her face, she looks up at the vampire. Eyes pleading silently for understanding. "It made me sick. Violently sick. Then he stuck the lathe through his thigh." Rising from her chair, she approaches Spike.

"Now, what is this about D'Hoffryn?" Her eyes glow a luminous white. Spike reaches out a hand and cups her face.

"It's ok, Red. We'll fix this. Just call him, yeah?" she spins away, lifting her slim arms into the air.

"D'Hoffryn. Come to me" Blue smoke begins to coalesce, whirling in a gentle circle. Forming a tall spiral. A horned blue figure steps out of the center, looking disapprovingly on the witch.

"Really now Willow. You might have been a little more polite." D'Hoffryn extends his hands, offering a peace gesture. Throwing up a protective barrier, she stops the demon.

"What did you do to Xander?" her voice has taken on an other world quality, empty and hollow.

"I simply answered a wish. I did owe him, and it was a brilliant wish." The demon smiles at the memory.

"Break it. Stop it. Do what ever." Willow tightens the barrier, trapping D'Hoffryn within its confines.

"Oh, I can't do that. But somebody who truly loves him can." With a snap of his clawed fingers, his is gone



Note: Willow invites Spike into the council house when she calls him.





T B C








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