Summary: Spike is William and Xander hates that.
Disclaimer: I didn't make them up. I wish I did but I didn't. I do get to play with them sometimes though, and I say 'play' because I don't get any money out of it so it cannot in any way be described as 'work'.
Xander sat in the corner of the room, looking down at his hands as they twisted and turned around each other. Once in a while he lifted his eyes and glared at the general room, then looked resentfully at the occupant of the couch. He knew that the object of his resentment was well aware of the scrutiny and fidgeted uncomfortably every time Xander looked his way. He didn’t care.
For the first time in his life, things had been going well. He had everything he wanted, his friends were doing well, and the world had been his oyster. Then this had to happen! This time the glare took in Willow as well. Instead of fidgeting like the other object of his wrath, Willow stared right back, utterly apologetic. Xander knew it wasn’t her fault, she hadn’t been aiming at Spike, she’d been going for the demon of the week, Spike just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t care.
All he cared about was that with one little, tiny spell his whole life had been turned upside down.
He glared at William again. He didn’t like the guy—he’d stolen something from him—something Xander prized highly. Something he had no right to steal. He was supposed to be dead damnit! Dead, not sitting in Spike’s favourite seat as if he belonged there.
Xander had been so consumed by his thoughts that he hadn’t realized the talking had stopped. He glanced up to glare at them all again and caught all eyes on him. “What?”
Nobody replied. “What?!”
His first clue that he wasn’t going to like this was Giles taking off his glasses and beginning the ritual polishing. His second was Buffy and Willow refusing to meet his eyes. “After some thought, we have decided that it would be best for you to take William home with you.”
Xander knew how to reply to that. The answer was clear and unequivocal. “No.”
“Xander! You can’t say that!”
“Can’t I? Just watch me. N-O. See? I can,” he snapped, glaring at Willow.
“Xander, we can’t take him to the dorms, and Giles is going to be at the Magic Shop looking for a solution…he can’t go there! What if someone sees him!”
“I don’t care.”
He could be just as stubborn as Willow if he wanted to. He’d stand by his refusal—nothing could sway him.
“Xander, he looks like Spike. Don’t look at me like that, he does. What if someone tries to fight him? If something happens to him, we won’t be able to bring Spike back.”
Except that. That would sway him.
William remained quiet throughout the drive, glancing at Xander every few minutes, still fidgeting in the most annoying way. Xander kept his silence, tightened his hands around the wheel every time William looked his way, and prayed to every deity he could think of to bring Spike back to him.
They either didn’t hear him or didn’t care. He walked into his apartment with William still trailing behind him.
Xander headed straight for the kitchen, ignoring the blond shadow in favour of a beer. He leaned against the counter, head hanging low, eyes closed.
“Mr Harris, sir?”
His voice is hesitant and soft. Spike was neither.
“I just wanted to apologise, I…I never meant to cause you any pain.”
Spike wouldn’t apologise, he’d just show me he still loved me.
“I assure you sir, I shall do my best to keep out of your way.”
And there’s that damn fidgeting again.
“Mr Giles explained most everything to me about how this era functions, and I hope to be as little a burden as I can to…”
“Shut. Up.” Xander finally looked straight at the man standing in front of him. He looks exactly the same. So long as he’s quiet and still, he could be Spike. William fidgeted again. But he’s not.
“You get to sleep on the couch. The bathroom is through there,” he nodded at the bathroom door. “I’ll be at work most days, you have to stay here. Don’t forget you’re a vampire, so no sun, no embracing religion and no garlicky foods. Blood’s in the fridge. I’ll show you how to warm it up later.”
With those words Xander grabbed a six-pack and went to his room, slamming the door closed behind him.
Xander stepped into the Magic Box, expecting to see William sitting in a corner as usual. It’d been three days since Prim-and-Proper had stolen Spike’s body, and he always stayed out of everyone’s way, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. The sight that greeted him was so different from what he’d expected, it had him gaping in shock.
William was far from unobtrusive—he was the centre of attention. He was sitting at the research table, laughing with Giles about something. He followed that up with speaking softly to Buffy, making her look at him all wide-eyed and perky. And Willow, his Willow was gazing at him in a way that could only be termed as ‘adoring’.
“So…what’s everyone up to? Find a way to get Spike back yet?”
His words were greeted by utter silence.
“We’re still looking into it, Xander,” Giles replied. “William has been of particular assistance, especially with the Latin texts.”
William smiled at Giles, near glowing with pride at the compliment.
“Has he now?”
Three faces nodded at him, with varying degrees of perkiness. Nobody could ever call Giles perky—but even he seemed to border on it. Dawn was the only one who didn’t nod. She kept her head down, concentrating on the book she was reading.
Xander went to sit next to her, glaring once around the table before he grabbed a book from the pile and got to work. “We need to get Spike back,” he said, still staring at his book, “I need to have him back.”
“We'll get him back, Xan. He’s our friend too, isn’t he?”
Dawnie, coming to Spike’s rescue as always, and sounding as determined as she could be.
“Yes, of course.”
“We’re all about the Spike-saving.”
Try it once more, with feeling this time, Xander thought spitefully, still smarting from the exhibition of camaraderie between his friends and the usurper.
The evening went from bad to worse as far as Xander was concerned. There seemed to be no way to reverse the spell Willow had cast, especially as no one even understood why it had brought William forth in such a way. His friends kept falling deeper under the spell of William’s poncy charm. Buffy actually giggled at him when he got up to help her open a jar. She was the Slayer for fuck’s sake, why was she giggling at him for that! Willow was the worse traitor of them all. She hugged the impostor, and why? Because he got excited about ‘all the knowledge one could garner from this ‘Internet’ did you call it?’.
By the time he left the Magic Box, William in tow, Xander was about ready to throttle every single one of them. Why did they have to like William? Did they think he was better than Spike somehow? Did they want him to stay?
Once again, he walked into the apartment, grabbed a six-pack and went into his room. The next day he took William to the Summers’ residence, and put him under Dawn’s charge. She was the only one who loved Spike enough to want him back no matter what.
The tactic worked for a few days. He would pick William up from Buffy’s place, get a smile and a hug from Dawn, and take him to the Magic Shop for more research. There, he would have to live through a few hours of unabashed William worship, interspersed with a few guilty looks from Willow.
Xander’s breaking point came two weeks after he’d lost Spike, when he went to pick him up from Dawn’s and found them gone. He read the note taped to the front door and went on to the Magic Shop. The William Bradshaw Appreciation Society had a new member.
“Oh my God, Xan, you won’t believe how much he knows! He helped me with my English lit homework and my history. He is so cool!”
Xander stood there, staring at Dawn and just blinking for a few moments. He then turned his back to her, moving very, very carefully, and looked at the rest of the group.
“Have you found a way to get Spike back?”
Once again, silence greeted his question.
“Have you even looked for a solution? Or have you all been having so much fun with your new friend, you forgot all about my missing lover?”
“Xander, that’s not fair! We’re trying to get him back!”
“No, you’re not.” This time he did nothing to hide the anger. “You’re teaching him to surf the net, and Buffy’s fawning all over him and Giles! Giles is acting like William is his long lost son! And now Dawn thinks he’s cool? He is not cool!” Xander yelled, pointing accusingly at William, “He stole Spike’s body and he’s walking around in it, acting like he owns it. Every minute he’s here is a minute when Spike isn’t, and not one of you seems to care. You love William so much, you don’t want Spike to come back. But I need him, and I will find a way to bring him back.”
So saying, Xander stormed to the table and sat down. He ignored the shocked people surrounding him and grabbed a book to read. He tried to read through the tears blinding him, angrily wiping his eyes when that proved impossible. He wanted Spike back, and he would get him, no matter how many books he had to read to do it.
He ignored the other people in the room until he felt a small hand rest on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry Xan. I didn’t think. We’ll get him back, I promise.”
Xander nodded stiffly, never taking his eyes off the book. The rest of the group followed Willow’s lead and settled back around the table, each one picking a book to check out. Xander could see William take a place at the table from the corner of his eye, but he made sure not to look up in his direction.
The rest of the evening was spent in stilted quiet, the silence full of unspoken words and hurt feelings, no one knowing how to make things better.
Xander kept reading, methodically working through his pile—searching out any information on Willow’s spell—but finding nothing over and above what they already had. By the end of the evening his head hurt, his eyes felt sore, and he was fast approaching hopelessness.
“I’m going home.” He stood up, grabbing his things, willfully ignoring William standing up as well. “I can’t deal with him tonight. I’m going home.”
He woke up the next morning with a mind-splitting headache and a redhead on his bed stroking his hair.
“I already called you in sick,” she said. “I cleaned up the living room too.”
They stayed like that for a while, perfectly silent and still—other than Willow’s stroking motions.
“I don’t know how to fix this,” Willow admitted. “You always fix things for me and I always fix things for you but now I don’t know what to do.”
Xander nodded, rubbing his cheek on Willow’s lap. He'd missed this, the comfort only his Willow could give him. Between Spike and her studies, they hadn't had much time for each other.
"I'm so sorry, Xan," Willow burst out, and Xander was sure she'd been holding this in for days, "I told him not to jump in front of the spell, I told him— swear. He should have known it wouldn't hurt you—you don't have a demon—how could it hurt you? It was supposed to hit the demon holding you!"
Xander looked up at her, taking in the shadows under her eyes and the sadness in her look. "I know, Wills, I don't blame you…I just…I miss him so much, and you all love William," the name was invested with as much loathing as Xander could infuse it with, "so damned much. I'm scared…what if you don't bring him back?"
"We do like him—he's a likeable guy—but, Xander, no matter how much we like him—we know you love Spike more. A-and Spike, he's like a member of the family. An annoying, sarcastic member, but still, family. We'll get him back… I promise."
Before Xander had a chance to respond, the door to the room slowly opened and William stepped inside.
"I apologize for the interruption, but Miss Rosenberg asked that I inform her if anything peculiar occurs."
There's the fidgeting thing again. Spike is filled with nervous energy, and he doesn't twitch half as much!
"I'll be right there, William."
The usurper nodded, glanced at Xander then away again, before leaving the room, eyes on the floor.
"I hate that guy," Xander muttered, glaring at the door.
"I know, Xan." With one last stroke of his hair, Willow disentangled herself and left the room.
Xander buried his face in his pillow and wondered what William meant by something peculiar happening.
The next couple of weeks passed in a haze of anger for Xander. Despite Willow's assurances, they all spent even more time with William—Willow especially. Every time Xander walked into the Magic Shop, Willow would be sitting right next to the British Bastard, heads bent together, talking in hushed voices. Willow had explained, and he knew they were working on bringing Spike back, but he couldn't stand to look at them—to think all the shitty things he thought whenever he saw them together.
He was feeling more and more hopeless, despite Buffy and Dawn's attempts to keep his morale up. The girls had done their best to reassure him, and he believed them—really he did—but Spike was still gone, and William was still here and… Xander was getting lonelier by the second.
Xander walked into the Magic Shop. He nodded to the guys, all sitting at their regular places. He glared at the impostor before he took his seat at the table and automatically reached for a book. He tried to open it, but his arms were suddenly held down by no less than three women hugging the stuffing out of him.
"Not that I'm complaining but…what?"
The girls all started talking at once, Buffy bouncing lightly on her feet and Dawn reaching new levels of high-pitched sound. Xander looked for Giles, eyes skimming past the usurper and landing on the watcher. He was leaning against the counter, smiling his satisfied little smile.
"Giles? A little help here? I can't understand a word they're saying."
"I believe the girls are trying to inform you that we found a way to bring Spike back."
"W-what?" Xander sat there, frozen, as the girls started bouncing and talking again. Xander was pretty sure only dogs could hear Dawn at this point.
"Giles? Please? In plain English? No, wait, American, plain American."
It was a testament to how hopeful Xander must have looked that Giles merely raised his eyebrow and didn't comment.
"Willow's spell separated the demon from the body. Ordinarily that would mean the body would turn to dust without the demon animating it, but in Spike's case, the soul retained its link to both the body and the demon."
Giles paused, and Xander nodded to show his understanding.
"What Willow and I will do now… is reinstate the demon's link with the body."
"Oh…oh…" He just sat there, staring at Giles, trying to get himself to believe. Spike was coming back…
"William helped, you know."
He looked up at Willow, standing right next to him.
"He didn't have to—but he did."
That was his Willow, always pressing the point.
"I know, Wills."
Xander only resisted for two minutes before getting up to stand in front of William, still seated at the table. He looked at Spike's face, into a stranger's eyes, and still felt anger and frustration that the usurper wore his lover's body.
William glanced warily at him and nodded once.
"I mean it. I don't like you, I’ve made that pretty obvious, but you still helped—so thank-you."
"You're welcome, Mr. Harris. I must say, I did this as much for myself as I did for you. I'm sure you've been unaware of this, but I have had a hard time adapting to this life I've been thrust into. I rather like the thought of the demon returning—I am accustomed to him. He completes me or, perhaps, I complete him. Now if you'll excuse me, I must help Mr. Giles with the spell."
Xander watched William walk away…even his walk is different from Spike's, less…just less…struck by his words. He'd never thought of William as part of Spike. All he could see was some guy who'd stolen Spike's body. Buffy and Dawn came to sit with him, both radiating nervousness. He watched William pass through to the training room to join Willow and Giles, to start the spell, and immediately dismissed William's words with the thought of Spike's return. He felt a little guilty about it, but he didn't care how the usurper felt. All he cared about was getting Spike back.
He stared at the door to the back room, afraid that if he looked away he'd wake up and it would all have been a dream. Then finally, after aeons of patience, someone stepped out. Xander saw the familiar figure stand in the doorway, confused blues looking around.
"It's William," he whispered, closing his eyes. "It didn't work." He looked up again, confirming to himself that it was William.
But then the figure was striding towards him, and his walk...even their walk is different…Spike's more…just more...and then Spike was holding him and kissing him until he could hardly breathe.
Next thing Xander knew, he was being pressed against his own bed, Spike pushing inside him slowly, blue eyes trained on his. Xander was sure he'd thanked the guys for bringing Spike back, but couldn't remember anything other than Spike’s kisses and being rushed home as fast as possible. He was caught up in the blue of Spike's eyes, once again looking at him like they were supposed to, with fire and want and love, not polite disinterest, not William—but Spike, his Spike loving him and fucking him and, oh God… more, please more.
It wasn't until after they calmed down, after Spike's panting trailed off, that Xander wondered at the urgency. It seemed reasonable for him to be anxious, but Spike had been asleep. Willow had explained that the demon had been resting—his bond to the soul not enough to keep him conscious.
"He's a part of me," Spike replied before Xander even had a chance to ask. "You hate his guts, but he's still a part of me. I've been watching through his eyes…all this time I saw you glare at me, ignore me, bloody hate me."
"I don't understand, Spike, that wasn't you!"
"What's not to understand, Xan? You hate a part of me."
"No, how could you say that."
Spike moved away from him and those eyes were back to a being a stranger's eyes.
"Spike, no…I," Xander ran his hands through his hair, trying to find the words to explain, "I hated him because he wasn't you! Everything he did, every look, every word, every fucking movement was not you, just some prim and proper British bastard walking around in your body and I hated that, and I hated him for stealing that body away from you."
The more he talked the angrier Xander got, all the stress and pain of the past few weeks pouring out of him. He'd been trying so hard to hold himself together, and now, with Spike back and doubting him, he couldn't do it anymore.
"No! No, don't you 'Xander' me…I had to watch you walk around acting nothing like yourself and not loving me. All because you jumped in front of a stupid spell that wouldn't have hurt me anyway! Do you have any idea how hard that was? Do you? Or would you have preferred to watch me make out with William," Xander spat the word out as if it were a curse. "That would have made you a lot more secure, huh? Me falling in love with your nicer, less demon of a twin? Well fuck you Spike."
Spike was suddenly in his space—pulling him into a hug and holding him there until he stopped struggling.
"You should be," Xander sniffled, hiding his face in the crook of Spike's neck.
"I was just scared...William is me. The most vulnerable part of me."
"Yeah, but if you gave me flowers and candy I'd know it was from you, and I would love you for it. William alone is wet and a prude and a fucking usurper. William in you is...you."
"Well, that's settled then," Spike whispered, and Xander nodded against his skin. "So...can we shag now?"
Xander laughed a little and lifted his head to drop a kiss on Spike's lips. "Now I really know you're back."
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