Pairing: Spike/Xander friendship
Rating: R
Warnings: Implied abuse and mentions of rape
Summary: Spike learns that everyone's a little bit broken.



And We All Fall Down
(Demons In The Dark)


by
Off Suit


Xander was only listening to the conversation with half an ear, most of his mind focused on trying to understand exactly what had happened to him earlier last week. Anya had asked him, in her usual blunt way, if he was cheating on her. Completely shocked he'd stared at her for a moment, completely speechless.

"Ahn, what the hell are you talking about? Of course I'm not!" Blunt statements seemed to be the theme of the night.

"Then why don't you want to have sex with me?" Of course, he should have known the reason for this little debacle was his reticence to sleep with her last night.

"It's not that I don't Ahn, I was just really tired, we spent all night chasing after that big purple thing with the tentacles, remember?" Sometimes he felt like he was explaining adult concepts to a toddler, not that he'd ever tell her that.

"It was a Skitdok demon Xander, and chasing after them has never stopped you from being willing to give me orgasms before." Ok, a toddler with good logic, but he so wasn't going into the rest of the reason why he didn't want to get naked. Repression was the greatest tool of all teens with a crap home life after all.

"I know, I was up at dawn for work, and it was close to 4am when we got home. I'm sorry if I made you feel like I didn't want you, I really was just tired," he said, having learned early on with Cordelia that one never went wrong with apologising.

"Well are you tired now?" Her tone was exasperated and he flinched subconsciously.

Apparently he didn't need to say anything, because before he could draw breath to speak she was giving him a sad look and picking up her coat from the back of the lounge. It really was the anti-climax; she didn't say goodbye, and he didn't say no, please wait, I'll tell you everything, and they sure as hell didn't ride off into the sunset. Instead the only way he knew she'd gone was the soft sound of the lock catching as she shut the door on her way out.

Safe at home without the expectation of The Zeppo weighting on him he sighed, glad for once that he didn't have to try and find a joke to cover what had happened. He could kid himself and say that she would come to her senses - such as they were when one was dating him - and fling herself into his arms. But for all his jokes, he wasn't one for self-delusion, at least not with most things. He knew she wouldn't be coming back. He knew that they'd fit because they were two people who'd never fit anywhere else, not because they were right for each other. Their love, if he could call it that, was more a desperation to know that they wouldn't die alone than anything else.

Snapping back to the present at the sound of his name he blinked at the faces looking at him expectantly. Glancing around he tried to figure out just what cue he'd missed before giving up and giving the Scoobies a blank look.

"Do try and pay attention Xander, I said I need you to take Spike for another week." Giles said, giving him an exasperated look.

"What? Why? I just got the place to myself again!" His words came out rapid-fire while his mind reeled at the idea of having Spike in his basement again.

"I need some space to focus and I'm afraid Spike is a tad too... exuberant to allow me to focus." The watcher explained with deliberate words, as though talking slower would mean Xander was more likely to agree.

"G-man, I can't take him! I barely survived it last time." Cursing himself and his tongue he bit his lip hard, hoping to stop anything else from slipping out.

Thankfully Giles didn't seem to realise he'd been serious and gave him an impatient look, "Do try not to be quite so melodramatic, Xander. It's only a week and then you'll be free of him again."

Flinching slightly at the tone, and the looks he was getting from Willow and Buffy he slumped, knowing it was useless to argue. Putting his nose back in the book he was supposed to be reading he stared blindly at the words in front of him, hoping against hope that no one would notice if there were two people staying in his dingy basement for a week instead of one.

He hadn't realised he was being spoken to again until there was silence around him. The absence of noise made him look up to see Spike standing over him with a vaguely curious, but mostly disinterested, look on his face.

"What'd I miss?" The goofy-grin made a trademark appearance.

"Time to sod off so the watcher can polish his glasses in private." The blond said, no small amount of glee tinging the words.

"Oh, right." Picking up his things amongst the sound of the girls' noises of disgust he nodded to the vampire when he was ready to go and they made their way home.

"Haven't seen the demon bint around for a while." The observation floated over to him on a cloud of nicotine and he nodded.

"Probably because she left." He said it lightly, hoping to derail the conversation train before it got out of the station.

"Get sick of your lazy arse then?" The question, so casual, but full of needle points he could practically hear Spike begging him to fall on.

"Yup." He popped the "p" for emphasis and thought, what the hell? Screw needles, I'll just behead myself.

"You know Spike, sometimes I almost like you." He hadn't realised that particular thought had been out loud until startled blue eyes caught his and he shrugged, "You're a demon, yeah. But at least with you we know what to expect. Oh, not the specifics, but it's just a variation on a theme. Familiar."

Realising he was heading in to babble territory, and knowing that the main reason for it was so he didn't have to think about what would happen if his father figured out that he had Spike staying with him again, he shut his jaw with a snap and jerked his eyes forward.

"You're not as dumb as you look, are you whelp?" Xander couldn't help but chuckle at that, not bothering to respond as he waved Spike inside.


~*~*~*~*~


The basement looked exactly like it had when Spike left; dark, dank and depressing, all those lovely "d" words. Bored in under five minutes he began listing them in his head; dreary, desolate, dismal, dejected. Making a face he stopped and decided to watch the man-child putter around instead. Watching closely he realised the boy was waiting for something and his eyes narrowed. He watched when, for the third time in as many minutes the whelp's eyes flicked to the roof before going back to whatever it was he was doing.

"Wouldn't happen to have any Jack around the place would you, whelp?" God knows he was going to need it to get through the week.

"All out, sorry Spike." The answer was distracted at best, and the blond was beginning to get a little put out with the teen's attitude.

"Can't tell me you manage to live in this place without a little liquid happiness every now and then," he remarked, curious at the slight flinch the words caused.

"Can and am. And speaking of unrelated topics, it's time for all good Scoobies to be in bed. Night bleach boy." That said he promptly lay down with his back to Spike and pulled the blanket up to his chin.


~*~*~*~*~


The week itself was uneventful, though the longer Spike hung around with the whelp, the more curious he became about the scent of old fear that lingered around the basement. The smell clung to the boy like smoke; wrapping around his hair and clothes until it was sinking into his pores and making the demon want to break him apart.

The vampire had cleared out of the basement, having found himself a rather nice crypt, with barely a nod of the head to the strangely old teen sitting on the couch. It wasn't until he had spent three hours digging around his new home that he realised that the missing Zippo was sitting on the coffee table back at the dank hole Xander called home. Cursing a blue streak Spike stomped all the way back to the house, muttering obscenities the whole way.

Not bothering to knock he simply picked the pathetically easy lock and waltzed in. Listening he shrugged when he couldn't hear a heartbeat in the room. Snatching up the silver lighter that was still exactly where he'd left it he froze at the sound of feet outside the door. Turning when the footsteps made their way slowly down the stairs he felt his eyebrows creep towards his hairline at the sight of Xander making his way oh-so carefully down.

Sniffing slightly he frowned at the smell of old fear, stronger this time, and mixed in with resignation and shame. Breathing deeply, deliberately, he studied brown eyes that met his as the scent of liquor and arousal floated to him, almost hidden under too much soap. The blond knew his face told the world that he knew why Xander was walking so carefully, but he wondered what it said to the brunet when the boy simply gave a self mocking smile and moved carefully to sit on the couch.

"Thought you'd moved into your new lair." The boy remarked, so very casual.

"Thought you paid your rent in cash." The barb came out unbidden and Spike almost wished he could take it back when a haunted look settled in the boy's eyes.

He expected the so-old teenager in front of him to deny it, to come out with some quip like he always did, but the boy surprised him yet again, "Guess we were both wrong."

He still didn't know what he was going to say when the boy in front of him spoke again, his voice something old and overused, "How much do you want, Spike?"

Obviously he was in shock or something, because the question made less sense than most of the brunet's babble, "What?"

"Hush money, blackmail, c'mon blondie, I know you know this tune." The look in those brown eyes was so much like Drusilla's for a moment that he took a step back; a child that knew too much, but didn't know any other way to be. And tired, so very tired.

"Don't want anything, pet." Bollocks, hadn't meant to let that last word slip out, but he looked so much like a lost child that Spike couldn't help himself, even the demon uninterested in breaking something so obviously already broken.

The laugh was like Drusilla's too; completely enthralled at something no one else could see. A sad kind of amusement that made breaking glass sound like heaven.

"When have you ever wanted nothing, Spike? C'mon, if it's not money then what? Blood? Cigarettes? Jack Daniels?" The look in those old eyes was full of absolute certainty. The boy believed, without a doubt, that there was no way Spike would keep something like this to himself without an incentive.

Listening to the small voice in his head that he normally ignored, the vampire sat down beside the boy and lit a smoke. Taking a deep draw he blew the smoke towards the ceiling, watching the stream break on cracked paint before he spoke.

"Alright, maybe I do want something." He looked over to see nothing but expectation in tired brown eyes. "Tell me when it started."

There was no surprise, just a sad sort of resignation that curled around the boy like familiarity, and Spike realised the boy thought he was asking to drag out the pain.

"I don't know. I remember going to my first day of kindergarten with a broken finger, but I don't remember the first time." The vampire nodded, not really surprised the boy couldn't remember.

"So when did rent come into it?" Always easier to elude to it, than say it outright. Makes it less real, makes it hurt like lemon juice in a fresh paper cut rather than having a hand punched through your gut and out the other side.

That made a thoughtful frown appear on a haggard face, and Spike could practically hear the boy thinking back, counting each time until he found the one that hurt the worst, the one that stank of betrayal.

"Five years ago." Xander's face was silent, eyes slightly glassy as he remembered. Suddenly he blinked and turned to look at the vampire sitting beside him. "Do you know why I do it, Spike? Why I help Buffy?"

Obviously an answer was expected so the blond simply cocked an eyebrow and shook his head.

"Sometimes it's nice to know that the monsters in the dark have demon faces. That the thing trying to kill you is only doing it because that's what it does, hardwired, y'know?" That made more sense than most of the babble the other man spouted.

"You know one day he'll go too far." It was a statement, not a question, but the man beside him answered anyway.

"I know." There was resignation in that, and acceptance. It was the latter that scared the blond.

"Why don't you leave?" Spike couldn't help but be honestly curious.

"No where else to go." That one sentence had so many things hiding between the lines that even the vampire almost choked on it.

"Could do with a roommate..." Again it was a statement, but the question was there, dangling like a lifeline just in reach.

"Still human Spike, need all those pesky human things." The reply was flat, because there was no way someone would care enough to give him a way out, not when they knew what he was; dirty, used, just a little bit broken.

"Could get a flat. You take care of the utilities and such; I'll take care of the rent." It was the closest the blond could get to asking.

"Why?" Again everything the brunet meant to say was hidden in the shaking fingertips currently gripping his own sides.

Spike affected an air of indifference and shrugged "Be nice to have a heartbeat around. S'nice to fall asleep to, soothing like."

Brown eyes that knew too much too soon stared into him, and for once blue eyes held their tongue, choosing to wait. The vampire wasn't sure how long the stare lasted but he let it continue, Xander obviously needing to find something in his gaze. He almost breathed a sigh of relief when eyelashes lowered, and a small nod flopped hair onto a still pale forehead.




The End



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