Based on a challenge at Spanderfiles
submitted by forsaken2003
Fighting for Freedom
Xander sighed, staring out the tinted window of the limo. He was so bored. Seven years now, he’d been trapped. Always behind walls and windows and security. And he was bored. Really, all the hiding away started sooner than that, so far back he could hardly recall the faces of Jesse and Willow, the only real friends he’d ever had. All because Dad had a reputation to uphold and a career to build. It sucked, all the private tutoring and seclusion. But soon now, Dad wouldn’t have his position anymore, and Xander would have the chance, finally, to live his own life. To be his own man. To make some friends.
He could hardly wait.
Xander nearly jumped when a hand touched his knee. “Are you alright, Alex?” He nodded, not looking at her. He did like his stepmother, but he just wanted to have a chance to think. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, Joyce,” he said, turning to her with a forced smile before looking back out the window. He had never called her Mom and never intended to, no matter how kind she was, and she seemed to understand. Xander hadn’t wanted a new mother when his own died after falling on a bar-b-queue fork, puncturing her neck, when he was eight, which was weird because they didn’t even own one. But his Dad had married Joyce when he was ten, and Xander was of the opinion that it was mostly for show. One couldn’t run for president with just a child at his side. He needed a woman, and the fact that she had two daughters of her own certainly didn’t hurt matters.
Xander liked the girls, too. Buffy was his age, and they had grown close, both having been cut off from most other people their age. Dawn was several years younger than them, and she adored Xander, who returned the affections. She was only four when their families were pressed together, so of the three of them, she would be the one with the least life experience by the time she got out.
They were traveling, Dad visiting all sorts of places in the country, milking his final year for all it was worth. They were in LA this week, some sort of conference or other, and Xander was sure that the hotel would be filled to the brim with security, just like always. But what bothered him most about being in LA was that they were less than three hours by car from home, and probably wouldn’t even drop by, while Buffy and Dawn’s father was in the city, and they would likely get to visit him, if only for a short while.
Was it so wrong to want a chance to be himself? To find out what he wanted and liked? To have a friend or, God forbid, a date? To have the chance to go to a corner store and buy himself a porn-mag? To see the places he played as a kid and try to recall his friends’ faces? To visit his mother’s grave? It was getting to the point where he was ready to explode with all the tension building up from so many different sources. He just wanted to—
His thoughts were interrupted by Dawn squealing in delight at the hotel they were pulling up to. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she shouted.
“Dawn, quiet down,” Xander’s father scolded.
“Yeah, it’s beautiful, Dawn,” Buffy said, glancing at Xander. He knew she was calculating her chances of sneaking out and back in, and deciding on a good bribe to convince Xander to cover for her. He rolled his eyes, looking back out. She wanted to sneak off to spend time with Angel. The large brunet, just touching the other side of thirty, was more than ten years older than they were, but Buffy honestly seemed to be in love with the man. He was another government official, but low enough on the totem pole for it not to end the world if he and Buffy were caught together. He would follow them around on trips like this sometimes, so they could spend time together when they could.
It was sickeningly sweet and caused an uncomfortable tightness in Xander’s chest that he didn’t want to examine. Sometimes, he thought it was jealousy. He and Buffy had had a few make-out sessions between the ages of thirteen and sixteen, nothing ever serious, but just to try it out. Practice. It had actually almost gone too far the last time, moving from making-out to include some pretty heavy petting. But it had fallen apart when Xander couldn’t keep it up. It was like his dick just wasn’t interested.
Buffy had teased a little, but stopped when she realized it was really bothering him. That was how Xander started figuring out he might be gay. A few nights later he’d gone to bed, only to find a box on his bed, with a tag reading ‘open in private’ on it. It was Buffy’s handwriting, and he’d curiously opened it. Then slammed it shut and shoved it under his bed. It stayed there for over a week.
When she asked if he’d looked, because she kinda wanted some of it back, he told her he hadn’t. And that led to the first time they watched porn together. She’d been flirting with Angel for a couple of months, had started just after he moved into the area and it was all ‘love at first sight’, and had gotten him to buy her all of this. There were magazines and tapes, and even an erotica novel, featuring every combination of lovin’ Xander could imagine. And then some he really wished he hadn’t.
But it really put everything into perspective for Xander. He definitely liked guys. A lot. And it seemed Buffy swung both ways. It was an interesting bonding experience for the both of them, and they each had a well spread variety now.
As they moved into their rooms and unpacked a little, Xander looked out the window. It was pretty much a straight drop to the parking lot from here, with a couple of well-placed verandas to catch anyone going down, but far enough apart that most people wouldn’t think of trying to climb up the side of the building. It was perfect. Buffy could slip right out this way.
Later on, though, when Buffy came to his room, presumably to negotiate, she told him Angel was busy that night, with the conference. Xander had blinked and shrugged. “Okay. Wanna watch a film, then?” ‘Film’ was their codeword for porn videos.
“Actually, I was thinking you could go out.”
“Xander, you can’t tell me you never want to go. I know you, and you want to explore. You’ve covered my ass more times than I can count. So go. Mom’s at the dinner with Tony, and I’ll keep an eye on Dawn. No one will notice you sneaking off for the night. Just be back by breakfast, okay?” Xander stared at his stepsister for a long moment, determining her sincerity. Then he leapt off the bed and hugged her.
“You are amazing!” he shouted, swinging her around a little. Buffy laughed as he set her back on the ground. Then he rounded on his clothes. “What do I wear?”
They spent an hour picking out the right outfit, a pair of blue jeans that were tight in the ass and lose in the leg coupled with a dark green top that fit like a glove. Xander was a little nervous about going out in that shirt, but Buffy swore to him that it was hot. Finally ready, with his mop of brown curls brushed back, he kissed her cheek in thanks and started down the hotel wall.
He waved up when he reached the bottom and Buffy waved back. Then he was on his own for the first time in fourteen years.
Xander was pretty sure he was lost. Great. He’d headed out into the city, just looking for something to do. Or to look at people. Or anything. And now he didn’t know where he was. He’d only been gone for a couple of hours, but he was getting the disturbing feeling that someone was following him. Every time he looked around, though, he didn’t see anyone suspicious.
No one had seemed to recognize him, which was great. Buffy said people didn’t usually recognize her, either, and they could only assume it was because people weren’t trying to see them. No one expected the First Children to be running around in society.
Finally deciding to ask directions back toward the hotel, to be sure he stayed within a certain distance so he didn’t end up totally lost, Xander walked up to a woman leaning against a wall by an alley.
“Excuse me,” he said, as she looked him up and down.
“Looking for a good time, honey?”
“Uh, kind of, but actually—”
“I can show you a good time. But it’ll cost you a little.” Xander stared at her for a moment, finally taking in her clothing. She was dressed awfully skimpily for this late in the year, even in California. “What would you like, dear?” He suddenly realized what she was.
“Oh. Uh, nothing, I really just need directions.”
“Mm. Ten bucks.”
“Ten bucks and I’ll get you where you’re going.” Xander actually started to look for the money, and then realized he didn’t have a cent on him.
“Sorry, I don’t have—”
“Hey, kid, how about you move on.” Xander jerked at the deep voice behind him. He turned, seeing a large man there, glaring.
“Carl, lay off. He’s just trying to get some directions,” the prostitute said.
“Well he should do it somewhere that’s not bothering my girls.”
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to—”
Xander took off at a run, not stopping until he was two blocks away and around a corner. He leaned against the wall and focused on breathing. That had been the most terrifying moment of his life. He stood there for several minutes, until he heard another voice and his eyes snapped open before he was aware they had ever closed.
“Look what we’ve got here, Harm,” a male voice that sounded a little younger than himself said.
“I see, Larry!” a female, apparently Harm, answered.
“Hungry babe?” Larry asked her, staring at Xander. The nineteen year old swallowed.
“Yeah…” Then Xander shouted as her face changed. Her could hear the bones crunching as they morphed and watched in horror as her teeth elongated into fangs. Her eyes turned yellow, and then Larry did the same thing, and Xander tried to run, but he was grabbed around the wrist and yanked towards their open mouths, full of sharp teeth, and he closed his eyes again, screaming for help.
Then there was a pain in his neck, something sharp piercing the skin, finding his arteries, and he was going to die. Buffy was going to feel so guilty; she would blame herself. It wasn’t her fault! Joyce and Dad were never going to let the girls out of their sight now. Why had he come out anyway? What was so special about this place, where there were hookers and pimps and murdering monsters, that he had gambled and lost his life for it? He was falling now, everything dark, but maybe that was because his eyes were still shut.
He actually felt himself hit the ground, but just lay there, unable to move from the trembling weakness that had overcome his body. Any minute now, he would be dead. Those two…things would finish what they had started, and he would be found by some homeless guy, or a prostitute bringing a customer into the seclusion of the alley, and the cops would get his body, and his parents would demand to know why and how he snuck out, and Buffy would tell, and then they would blame her, too, which wasn’t fair, because it was his choice to do this stupid thing in the first place.
But he never felt the weight of them coming for him again. For a long time, nothing happened. He finally calmed the tremors, and was about to look, when he felt wet fingers touching the wounds on either side of his neck.
“Fuck,” a masculine voice muttered. “Please be okay…”
“’M dandy,” Xander managed to force past his lips and opened his eyes to meet a concerned face with a pair of ice blue eyes under shockingly blond hair.
“No. Am I going to die?” The other man paused a moment, fingers pressed against Xander’s neck.
“Don’t think so. The bleeding’s stopped, and your pulse seems all right. What say we get you home, yeah?”
“Uhn… Home is three hours, uh, that way?” Xander said, sitting up and pointing in the direction he thought Sunnydale might be. The blond with an accent Xander’s swimming mind couldn’t place chuckled.
“No place nearer by? Hotel, maybe?”
“Yeah. Got lost, though.”
“’S alright. Let’s get you back and you’ll be safe as houses.”
“Sure.” Xander was pulled to his feet, and promptly threw up as nausea accompanied the movement.
“Shit! Sorry. I always forget.”
“No, it’s okay. You…you saved my life, didn’t you?”
“Maybe. Look, don’t worry about that, okay?”
“No. What the fuck were those things? They looked human, but then they…they…didn’t.”
“Don’t worry about it. Let’s get you back.” Xander resisted, but the man, for being quite a bit slimmer and shorter than him, was rather strong.
“How do I know I can trust you? You just come out of nowhere and expect me to go with you!”
The blond sighed. “What do I need to do to convince you?”
“Answer some damn questions, and I’ll walk with you.”
“Fine. Let’s walk and talk, alright?” Xander stared for another moment, and then nodded. “What do you want to know?”
“What were they?”
“Vampires.” There was a long silence while Xander tried to comprehend the answer he was given.
The other man smirked.“Yeah way.”
“Did you really just say ‘yeah way’?”
“Yes. ’S what you kids say now-days, innit?”
“Uh, kinda. But…whatever. Really, though? Vampires?”
“Not so loud, people’ll think you’re mad.” Xander blinked.
“Okay, let’s say I believe you, that they were…vampires,” Xander lowered his voice on the word that time, “how did you get rid of them?”
“Staked ’em right proper, of course. How would you’ve done it? Kinda hard to carry around sunshine in me pocket. Red and her girl kin do it, but that’s what magic’s for, s’pose.”
“Yeah. Course the wolf likes to just tear their heads clean off. I don’t like gettin’ so dirty, and large weapons are a bit conspicuous.”
“…Right. You know you’re crazy, right?”
“No ’m not. Don’t see me walking round at night in a place I don’t know without a weapon, do ya? But you are, aren’t ya?”
“Uh-huh. I haven’t actually seen this weapon yet.” Then a piece of wood was held in his face.
“See? Stake. Enters heart, vamp dies. I’ve also got a gun on my hip. Never know when it’ll be humans need fendin’ off.”
“Yeah. Okay. I think I’ve adventured enough for the night. Can you get me back to my hotel so I can let my sisters know I’m not dead?”
“We’re staying at the Grand Castle Leaves,” Xander said, ignoring the name.
“Mm. Yeah, I know the place. Let’s get you tucked into bed, then, yeah?”
“Yeah.” After a few more lengthy minutes, Xander asked another question. “What’s your name?”
“That’s a bit different.”
“Well, I’m a bit different.”
“I’ll give ya that.”
“Are you serious?”
“Vampires.” Spike stopped walking and looked Xander straight in the eyes.
“Deadly.” There was a long stretch of silence while they stared at each other, and then Spike started walking again, Xander quickly catching up. “I’ve lost friends to them. Family. I managed to piece some things back together eventually, but for the most part, vampires ruined my life. At least several years of it. And that’s something you can’t get back.”
Xander didn’t say anything else, just followed the strange man, whose accent he had finally placed as likely British, until they reached the hotel. Spike stood at the bottom, watching Xander scramble up the building, and Xander waved to him when he reached his own room, smiling as the blond waved back. Then the brunet slipped inside and headed to Buffy’s room to tell her about his night.
Xander crossed the brightly lit hallway to Buffy’s room and began knocking. After a few moments, the door opened, revealing her in soft, pink pajamas, her hair a mess, and blinking blearily.
“Xan?” she muttered after squinting out at him. “Do you know what time it is?”
“It’s almost three.” He had obviously been out longer than he’d thought. “What’s going on?”
“Can I come in? Because I have got to tell you what happened tonight. Please?” Buffy sighed and moved aside, turning on her light.
“Alright, what happened that is so exciting you have to tell me now instead of the morning?”
Xander started to tell her about his night, trying not to leave out any details, even though the first few hours were boring, but just as he reached the exciting part of his evening, she cut him off.
“What happened to your neck?”
“I’ll get to it,” he said, waving off her concern.
“No, you’re covered in blood!” Buffy jumped up and went to the bathroom, coming back with a wet cloth. Xander rolled his eyes as she cleaned his neck.
“I’m fine! But listen,” he insisted, telling her about the vampires and Spike. When he was finished, Buffy was staring at him with wide eyes.
“Vampires? Xander…really? Are you pulling my leg, or do you honestly think this guy was telling you the truth?”
“Buffy, it was real! These things were not human, and, look, they bit me! There must be marks!”
“Xander, as far as I can tell, that wasn’t even your blood.”
“There isn’t a single scratch on your neck, let alone puncture wounds.”
“Maybe you should go to bed. Things will make more sense in the morning.”
“I’m telling you, they were real! Spike was so serious about it; vampires ruined his life.” Xander wasn’t sure why he was so upset she didn’t believe him, he hadn’t believed either, or why he was so adamant about convincing her.
“Well they would, if he’s going around saying something that is mythical is real.”
“Xander, this guy must be crazy. You probably hit your head, mixing up your Xander-brains and making it easier to buy into. Just go sleep.” Buffy pushed him out of her room, and Xander went back to his own and started changing into his pajamas.
“I’m not concussed,” he muttered to himself. “And he’s not crazy. It did happen.” Xander checked for wounds while he brushed his teeth, but didn’t find a thing. “I know it was real.”
He crawled into bed, and fell asleep assuring himself of his sane surety.
It was still dark when Spike’s replacement showed up. He nodded to the man, snuffed out his cigarette in the ashtray built into the trash can nearby, and walked off with a quiet, “Ta, mate.” Rather than rooming in the hotel, where most of the services would be paid for by his employer, Spike made his way into downtown Los Angeles.
He staked a few vampires along the way, stopped a mugger, and scared off a demon that was mostly harmless but would worry the locals in the know but uneducated as to what was dangerous or not. When he reached the building he was looking for, Spike allowed a genuine smile to cross his face and slipped through the gates to knock at the door.
After a moment, a tired voice called through, “Name?”
“It’s Spike, luv.”
“Spike?” the quiet, feminine voice asked.
“Yes, Anne,” he sighed, slumping against the doorjamb.
“Oh bleedin’ hell,” he muttered. Speaking up, he said, “I’ve not been ‘round in nearly a year, pet. Can I get a hint?”
A few seconds of silence preceded her soft voice’s answer. “Your mother’s maiden name?”
“Pratt, ducks, now will ya let me in?” He stood up straight as he heard the locks turning out of place. He entered the building, passing the woman in her mid-thirties as she closed the door again. Then she had turned and was hugging him.
“We’ve missed you,” she said.
“Yeah, I’ve missed you too.” Then she smacked him.
“You had your brothers worried sick! Not to mention the others. You should have called more often.”
“Sorry, pet, can’t change that now, now can I? Besides, I’ve been off makin’ good money for you all ta live on, haven’t I? And has anybody raised a complaint about that? Don’t think so.”
“Hush, William. I imagine you’re exhausted.”
“Just a mite,” he said, smothering a yawn and ignoring that she’d used his given name. They started towards the bedrooms to find him a bed. “Where is everyone?”
“Faith took Wesley and the girls on patrol. Rupert was doing research but is likely asleep now, Jenny is still up working on a spell, and Oz should be drifting off as soon as the moon goes down.”
“Oh hell, the cycle started last night, didn’t it?”
“Yes. He’ll be tired when he gets up, but he’ll be fine.” Anne opened a door, gesturing in. Spike stepped forward and through the doorway, eyeing the sparse furnishings.
“Always is, that boy. Thank you for the room Anne, but I really am ready to drop.”
“How long will you be staying this time?”
“A bit. I’m still working; I’ve just got to keep my eyes on things at night. It’ll only be a week or so, likely. But I’ll spend time with everyone. Once those kids get up it’s like a herd of elephants in this place.”
Anne smiled. “Will, you’ve been gone a while.”
“It’s only been a few years.”
“Yes, but a few years can change children into adults.”
Spike smiled. “Doesn’t matter. They’ll always be kids to me.”
“Sleep. I’ll tell them you’re here when they come in.”
“Alright,” Spike said with another yawn. “I’ll see you in a bit.”
The door was closed, and Spike crawled into bed after stripping himself bare. The sheets felt good against his skin, and he sighed, settling his head into a pillow that smelled of family.
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