Rating: R
Warnings: Angst, character death (sorta), mentions of het
Summary: Spike isn't sure what's happened to him, but he knows that he needs Xander to move on. It's pretty angsty, I guess, and I have no idea where it came from. Comes with complimentary box of tissues.
Notes: Medium length. One shot.



Inbetween


by
Markedxup



Click.

Spike opened his eyes to a blurry fuzzy world. For the first few minutes, colors were too bright and sounds too loud, crashing into his senses like breakers against rocks.All the senses mixed together to form one big vague impression, skimming just over the surface of perception and skipping away before he could really make sense of it.

Spike lay on his back for an immeasurable amount of time, feeling disconnected from both his body and mind. Finally, when full consciousness had leaked through his skull and was pooling unnaturally at the base, sights and sounds and smells still too crisp and sharp but now separate units, he managed to twist his head around and take in his surroundings.

He was in the graveyard next to his crypt. With a shock, Spike realized it was daytime, but the panic gradually buzzed out of him when he saw that he was in the shadow of the crypt building, shielding him from the sun. Still, the unnatural feeling of being surrounded by light and chirping birds struck a finely tuned instinct inside him to get away, into a darker cooler place. Spike tested the movement of his arms and was pleasantly surprised to find they didn’t ache at all. He sat up then pushed himself to his feet, and found that he still didn’t hurt or throb.

That was strange, because the last thing he remembered was facing that ugly big horned demon that Giles had warned them about. According to the Watcher, it had hidden pincers that could strike quite imperceptibly. But his memory after that was rather hazy. He remembered the brat had been with him, though. A lot of help he was. Spike slipped into the crypt, feeling much more at home in the darker atmosphere. Spike knew that he’d obviously been knocked out while fighting the demon. It was odd that he didn’t ache at all, but vamp healing had probably sped up his recovery time more than usual after the human blood he’d sneaked from a little visit to the local blood bank. He only wished he could have seen the faces on the nurses when they found out what a mixture of blood types his turned out to be.

But anyways, Spike felt fine and that was all that mattered. Xander must have called Buffy and they’d taken the demon out, callously leaving the vampire to fry. Spike grinned a bit triumphantly at their failure.

After a satisfying moment of that, he figured he should sleep, as it was still daytime, but he wasn’t sure how long he’d been out and he wasn’t feeling very tired. He figured it must be around midday because Passions was on. He debated fixing himself a bag of blood, but also wasn’t feeling very hungry, so he resigned himself to the couch and watched all the daytime soaps before sleep crept in and dulled his overly aware senses, fitting snugly over him like a blanket.


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

When Spike woke again, it wasn’t like waking up at all. The first thing that kicked in was once more the colors and sounds and smells, overwhelming him for a moment as he faded. Faded into the world, one sensitive molecule at time.

The second thing Spike noticed, as he reached up to rub his eyes, was that he wasn’t in the place where he had fallen asleep. In fact, he wasn’t in his crypt at all.

Sitting up, he glanced around wildly, completely unaware of the place he was in. But after a moment, realization dawned. Xander’s apartment.

What the bleeding hell?

Wood floors and a squashy couch and large flat windows with acid sun leaking through. The curtains twirled like dead snakes from the sides, useless. Spike didn’t burn.

In fact, he didn’t feel the sunlight at all. It seemed to wash right through him, passing as it might through a layer of smoke.

It took a moment for Spike to realize that he couldn’t feel the couch beneath him, either. He brushed his hand over the fabric, but the scratchy smooth material was solid air under his fingers. By all rights, he should be dust spreading over this cushion right now. No, by all rights, he should be lounging in the armchair in his crypt, sucking dry a bag of blood and plotting world destruction.

Swish.

The sound of the door gliding softly through the air. Spike could hear it as if it’d been done inside his head.

Crash.

Clanging metal objects dropped onto the counter, and the smell of dirt and wood shavings. Sweat.

Clomp, clomp, clomp.

Heavy boots, landing on the wood floor and echoing through the silent apartment, adding a foreboding atmosphere to an already lonely ambience.

Spike’s senses overpowered him, became him, and he closed his eyes. They could see everything. Every little flaw. But his body seemed suspended in midair, touching nothing. As if his nerves were dead; fried by the sunlight that slid through his abdomen and dripped onto the couch without a shadow to drape it.

Spike opened his eyes and Xander walked into his peripheral vision, as defined and brilliant as the rest of the room. Sawdust sprinkled like snow in his hair and smudges of dirt decorated the sides of his cheeks. Tiny pinpricks of stubble stood out on his jaw.

Xander kicked off his boots and sat down on the couch next to Spike, bouncing the vampire in place. Spike looked down to see that his body didn’t even make an impression on the surface of the cushion. He experimented by pushing his hand down, but it was like pushing air. He could feel his arm extending, but it didn’t appear to move to his eyes. His hand didn’t slip inside the actual fabric of the cushion, it just didn’t move at all.

But when he looked over at Xander, the boy’s legs spread and shaggy head leaning against the back of the couch, the weight and impression on the couch was obvious. Sunlight highlighted a few golden strands of hair in the wavy mass.

“Hey,” Spike called, experimenting. His voice held no impact on the room. No echo called back to him. No dark head turned in his direction. He was a soundless breeze. No, less than that. He hadn’t even cooled anything.

“Harris!”

The boy absently scratched his balls, eyes glazed as they watched past the TV. Now that Spike watched closer, he could see the firmly placed frown on Xander’s face, dry lips slightly chapped. His eyes were dull; the sun highlighted no bright flecks in them. Stringy hair hung limply over his forehead. Spike could see the beginning of worry lines etch his brow.

The slump of his shoulders, though routine, was slightly different. No self-contempt or humiliation. Just — sad. Defeated. His eyes weren’t puffy but the surface was shiny with unshed tears. Spike wondered what had happened, but not enough to depress himself with another attempt at speaking.

Something had happened to him. He needed to reverse this spell or whatever and get himself back on feet that he could feel. How he planned to do this, Spike still didn’t know.

Why had he ended up at the boy’s anyways? He couldn’t remember being moved and didn’t feel drugged. It must be part of whatever curse had been placed upon him.

Xander suddenly stood and the cushion rocked back to its original position. Spike didn’t feel it move. The boy walked quickly out of the room, socked footfalls landing solidly on the floor.

Spike paused a moment then swung his own feet over the edge of the-


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

Splashing and sterile white, a loud roar of static that rained down on Spike. His vision slowly settled in.

The shower.

Water bombarded down, passing through Spike and smacking the floor loudly. The spray also thudded against solid flesh, sluicing down limbs. Xander reached for the shampoo.

Spike blinked. He was in the shower with Xander. But a moment ago he’d been – sitting on the couch with Xander. Spike watched as the boy’s hand appeared to move right through his chest. Spike felt nothing. He reached out and tried to touch Xander, but again his own hand seemed to freeze just millimeters away from flesh.

Squick.

A fat glob of orange citrus-y shampoo dripped onto Xander’s head, slipping down the sides of his hair and leaving a snail trail of bubbles in its wake. Spike let his gaze drift down, past the absolutely visible chest and defined muscles, to where a wet trail of hair trickled darkly from his navel to the base of his flaccid penis. Spike could have counted every hair on the boy’s leg if he had that much patience.

Spike wondered about his curse as Xander washed his hair. It apparently had something to do with Xander. Maybe originating from the large demon he barely remembered. Was he unconscious? Was he in a coma? Can vampires go into comas? Was he even still alive?

He felt alive, or at least as much as he had been before, which, granted, wasn’t much, but still not the coffin-in-the-ground type of thing. He’d been able to move and be heard and feel. His fingers itched to touch something.

But maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was dead. Which would make him – what? A ghost? A vampire ghost. Spike snorted and it wouldn’t have registered over the pounding of the water even if he could be heard.

So maybe Spike was standing fully clothed in a shower with his sworn enemy because he was a vampire ghost, doomed to haunt a teenage boy for whatever reason.


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

The slip-slip of soft sheets, a smell so heavy he could taste it on his tongue. Quiet gasps and slick sounds, golden hair the first thing visible, spread out against the pillow in shallow waves. Strong arms on either side, bracing as the larger body thrust into the other.

The sheets whispered as the girl pushed back to meet Xander somewhere in the middle, eyes closed and delicate lashes curling over her pink cheeks. Xander’s eyes were closed also, the edges under the lashes just barely shimmering in the lamplight. Not a single tear track streaked over the clean skin.

At the smells' and sounds' crescendo, gentle slap of flesh over low moans, Xander stiffened over Anya, back curving a valley where sweat pooled in the middle. His eyes opened and stared into the window, his own haunted reflection staring back at him over the cries of his lover.


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

Swishes, old paper rustling through young fingers. Dust and age, clogging his throat and begging him to cough. Murmurs of voices, subdued in the darkness until a single chair became the center of his vision. The world unfolded around it.

Giles at the head of the table, glasses glinting in one hand, shined to a perfect transparency. The others fanning out around him, scattered through the store with books or objects propped in one hand. A cellphone, a wad of money, a tube of red lipstick.

Xander had his head propped up by one hand, eyes glazed like when he’d been staring through the television, like he’d been looking into the window. He stared through the book like Giles passing through Spike’s left arm as he walked to the front of the table.

When he spoke, the words were crisp and clear in Spike’s ears, making perfect sense in his mind. When he spoke, Xander looked up. When he spoke, it left an impression.

“I understand that the recent loss has left us all, well, ah, at a loss,” Giles stated, fingers twitching as they longed to reach for his glasses. “But we mustn’t let it dampen our spirits too much. Yes, Spike was as much as an ally that a vampire can be, and he was – almost a friend, but there is still the matter of destroying the demon that killed him. It is still on the loose and may kill a human next time.”

Spike let the perfect words flow through his mind. He was dead. Dust. At the hand of another demon.

He wondered why this information didn’t crush him. He still had emotions, after all.

“Who’s dampened?” Buffy asked cheerfully. “He’s gone. We don’t need to worry about when the chip gets out or paying for anymore blood.”

She didn’t notice the glare Xander threw her way; the first real expression Spike had seen him make. Willow also frowned, staring down at the fat book in front of her. Tara, seeming to feed upon her girlfriend’s emotions, also looked down dejectedly. Spike felt a pang for them.

There, there. Nothing you could have done about it.

Nothing anyone could have done about it, really. Spike had been too slow. Xander hadn’t even stood a chance. Spike doubted even Buffy could have stopped the fatal blow, even is she would have tried.

Not that it mattered anymore.

“Where will he go?” Willow asked softly, bright eyes flickering up to the Watcher, begging for condolences and lies.

“Er, well,” Giles cleared his throat. “I have no idea. Perhaps hell if there is such a place. Maybe a hell dimension.”

Upon seeing the expression on the girl’s face, he quickly added, “Or maybe not. Maybe he just – leaves. Or he could inhabit another demon; recycled. Maybe he became a ghost.” Giles shrugged. “What happens to anyone when they die?”

No one heard Spike’s answer.


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

Crunching, sweet in Spike’s nose. Xander was eating a candy bar.

He was alone, at the table in his kitchen. He wore old worn sweatpants and nothing else, nipples hardened in the cold morning air. Well, in the nothing morning air for Spike. He couldn’t feel temperatures.

Spike didn’t think Kit Kats were good for breakfast, but he said nothing. Wouldn’t have if he could have. The boy didn’t need appreciate his advice.

But – Is that it, Harris? Do you feel guilty? Do you replay that night in your head and see exactly how you could have stopped that blow?

Crunch.

Or. . .do you miss me? Do you actually regret that I. . .died? Do you wish you could have saved me for reasons other than your white-hat instincts?

Crunch.

The silent, listless eyes offered no answers.

The boy finished the terrible breakfast and left for work.


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

Machines rumbled, cement and new wood. The bright yellow glare of a construction helmet.

Spike vaguely wondered where he went when he was Inbetween Did he just float around in a shallow hole in the universe, waiting until Xander’s consciousness dragged him to another scene in his life? Did he simply not exist until the boy thought about him? Was he tugged back and forth through reality by Xander himself, or whatever higher means there were, trying to teach him a lesson?

Which opened up a whole new realm of questions. Was there a reason for his continued existence on earth? Was he going to go onto another dimension; another state of being? Did he have to earn something, or prove something? Did everyone become a ghost when they died? Was the world littered with spirits that had shed their bodies, crowding the streets and air, unfeeling and haunting people they had known?

Spike watched Xander wipe the sweat off his brow and realized.

Xander had been the person to see him die.

He had watched Spike turn to dust in front of him, watch the skin crumble off him and bones erode to ash. Is that why Spike was following him? Was Xander somehow the key to his existence? What had to be done for Spike to move onto whatever was waiting for him on the other side of that Inbetween?

Did it matter?


~*~*~*~*~


Click.

Soft wooshes of breath, salty tang on the tip of his tongue. Xander was crying.

The first thing he saw was the bright tracks, glinting like moonlight on pale cheeks. The rest of the world slowly flooded around those tracks, the pinnacle of Spike’s planet.

Night pressed like floodwaters against the windows of the car. Spike could see the cemetery outside, squat soldiers with names and epitaphs, reporting in the solemn duty of Death.

Xander held a jar. Inside Spike could see a small mound of chalky dust, fine and black in a slowly crumbling mountain.

You do miss me.

Xander let the tears fall freely now as he stumbled from the car, door hanging open and engine purring low. He walked through the cemetery and the sobs began to fall from his lips, building in an erratic rhythm until he had to gasp for breath. Spike could only follow.

His fingers burned, begging to reach out and soothe; something he’d rarely felt before. This person, the last pair of eyes to be laid on him, were streaming and pouring rivers down his cheeks.

Xander halted in front of a fresh grave. So fresh that it hadn’t even been filled yet. A blank tombstone rested at the head, shining steel black and sadly in the moonlight.

Spike felt tears well up in his own invisible eyes as he watched Xander slump down onto his knees. He would miss them, he realized for the first time, emotion slamming into his chest with a long-delayed vengeance. The people that had been with him his last days, that he’d fought with and almost made friends with. He would miss them wherever he ended up.

But now, he’d especially miss this boy. The boy who had collected his remains so carefully then bought a shiny black stone to place by his grave, to the exact place where he’d died. The boy who had cared enough to keep him on this earth just a little bit longer.

Xander lowered the jar into the shallow hole, placing it gently at the moist bottom. Fat tears dripped like rainwater onto the lid, slipping over the sides and soaking into the earth. Spike watched him bow his head and felt his pain like a tangible thing. Which was ridiculous. Ghosts couldn’t feel.

The dirt was slowly placed over the jar, filling the rest of the hole, one careful shovel-full at a time, until solid ground rested in front of the black stone.

Xander removed his tools from the belt around his waist, then, leaning down, began to carefully carve words into the tombstone. Spike watched, every moment causing him to love the boy more and wish he could know.

When he finished he stepped back and Spike saw.

On one side, Spike, engraved into the rock.

On the other, William.

In the middle, on the top, in the Inbetween, a perfect heart.

“I’m sorry.”

The whispered words broke Spike free from the earth. He felt himself rising into the dark, dark sky and held out his hand at the last moment to catch his last attempt at touch, of Xander’s face; his lowered jaw. Maybe he succeeded. All he knew was that Xander suddenly looked up, looked at the sky, and maybe, perhaps, saw Spike disappear into the infinite and the endless.




The End





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