Spoilers: Season 5 and the beginning of 6
Summary: Four progressive snapshots of a relationship as it might have happened.
Rating: PG-13 Language and nothing more.
Warnings: As far as I know, none. Er... I acknowledge the canon 'spuffy' but... only in as much as Spike built a robot... er...
Notes: This has been bouncing around inside my brain for about a week now, inspired (strangely enough) by a pair of pajama pants. The episodes referenced are S5 "Triangle", "Intervention", "The Gift" and S6 "Bargaining." Any and all typos/comma splices are mine because I'm too impatient to wait for a beta.
It had been a long day. Xander felt like three days had all melted together in a crazy, mixed up, can’t-remember-sleeping, sci-fi way. He and Anya were on the outs (again) and he was nursing a black eye courtesy of Olaf the ex. Being wailed on by a girlfriend’s cast-offs had never happened before and Xander was finding it a unique experience – Cordelia’s ex squeezes had always seemed somehow… relieved to see another survivor.
He was sore and aching but he couldn’t go home and sleep it off. He had to be here because there was something really important happening. He was positive that being here was vital to… whatever it was and he couldn’t just walk away because of a little blunt-force trauma no matter what Willow kept trying to tell him. He shouldn’t be listening to Willow anyway – Willow and Anya were not the best of buds and there was no way he was getting in the middle of that again even if Willow did make him cookies for his trouble and… Maybe he was concussed.
Buffy was shooting him concerned looks. Looks that usually told him he was going to fall over, but Xander wasn’t too worried because he was already sitting – the trick was to outsmart the head injury. Stupid ex-boyfriends – maybe he needed an ex-boyfriend to avenge him, or maybe they could break Faith out of prison, that would work. Maybe Buff would let him borrow Riley for the express purpose of ganging up on Anya’s stupid, troll boyfriend. Except Riley was giving him concerned looks too. Maybe Olaf killed him. Was he dead?
“Xander?” That was Buffy, “Maybe you should go get some ice or something…?”
“But…” why was he here? Oh, right, “Glory.”
“C’mon whelp.” Spike muttered, surprising the hell out of all of them. “I’ll walk you home.”
“Okay.” And that surprised them too.
Glory, the incredible cunt. Glory and her goddamned minions, the Slayer and her goddamned minions, Spike hated them all – hated everything that led to this moment. Lying in his crypt broken and starving. Spike could trace the series of events to the Slayer’s doorstep, but it was his fault too, and Dru’s, and his own sainted mother’s fault, and Spike was too fucked up to bother with blame.
The Watcher and Harris dragged his sorry carcass back to his crypt and laid him out on a slab of marble to heal. They straightened his mangled fingers with quiet efficiency while Spike was half-comatose but all the while he felt his ribs shifting beneath his skin, rubbing sickly against his useless lungs. Felt the bones in his broken wrists grinding together as they were set; his leg throbbed dully where Glory’s red fuck-me pumps snapped his tibia – and they’d left him. Then in that moment or hours later the Slayer kissed him.
She thought for a moment she could fool his senses, left him there broken and in pain then kissed him with softness that he was hurting too much to appreciate. She certainly picked her moments. Spike adored her as much as he hated her and resented the hell out of her for scrapping his robot.
She left him in fear, and he hated that too – fear of having ruined his chances, fear of do-it-yourself bone reduction for his leg, fear of some nasty ending his existence while he was helpless to fight it off. Fear that he would heal crookedly and have to re-break his bones with crippled hands. Healing would be a long time coming on a diet of pig’s blood, and he hated for hours. Lying there prone on the lid of an antiquated sarcophagus until an all-too-familiar heartbeat invaded his hearing – Harris come by, undoubtedly to abuse him further for whatever his reasons. But Xander surprised him when he entered the crypt with a soft knock, a cooler and a sheepish smile.
“Come to take me to task for the robot?” Spike asked, because he couldn’t help himself.
“I think Glory did a better job than I ever could.” Xander replied unrepentantly, “I thought I’d bring you some blood and try to set that leg” Which surprised Spike so much that he shut up long enough to let him do it – grinding his teeth against the pain as Xander placed a warm hand against his thigh and another on his ankle, preparing to pull.
When Spike jerked in pain and kicked Xander’s hip, when the chip went off and compounded his already ferocious pain Xander surprised him further still by attempting to massage away the migraine. Those big, warm hands doing what the Slayer’s kiss hadn’t to assure Spike that he’d done the right thing by the Scoobies and the Slayer, even as they soothed him into sleep.
Anya was gone – no real surprise there. Between death and old boyfriends and hellgods Xander hadn’t expected her to stick around. Because if Buffy could die then so could anyone else. So Anya was gone and he’d wished her well but Spike stuck around which wasn’t a surprise either. They’d been doing this strange, furtive, non-relationship, sex thing for months now because Xander was incapable of finding a human date and because Buffy would never fall in love with the soulless vampire; but not for lack of trying on either of their parts.
But furtive didn’t matter anymore. He wasn’t cheating on his girlfriend anymore, and it didn’t matter that Spike was in love with someone else, because in the early hours of the morning both of them had left one way or the other. Spike was injured again, his hands were shredded, his whole body was bruised from his fall off the tower, and Buffy was dead – injuries that they both acknowledged he may never recover from.
Xander took him home, tended his wounds with sex and sweetness, tried to make the vampire feel anything but pain and wasn’t positive he succeeded. He needed Spike to be okay – needed him to be snarky and British and complete for all of their sakes. Needed Spike to touch him despite his mangled hands, and needed to touch Spike to reassure himself that the vampire wasn’t walking away. That he wasn’t going to follow Anya into the wild blue yonder or wasn’t going to follow Buffy even farther than that.
When dawn approached and the vampire made to return to his crypt Xander wouldn’t let him. He caught Spike by the wrists, pulled him back to the bed, curled himself around the impassive body, and pressed a kiss to the soft skin of Spike’s collar bone. “Don’t go. Please, don’t go?”
He didn’t intend to let go, no matter what Spike said. “All right.”
“Spike?” Harris’ twisted his foot nervously, body language that Spike had come to interpret as ‘you’re really not gonna like this’ in the months that they’d lived together. Of that Spike had no doubt – his lover had woken him with a shake to the shoulder, bit lip and pained expression – Spike knew he wasn’t going to like it. What was worse, Xander wasn’t giving him the opportunity to erase that frightened expression, just pressed on nervously and dug his toes into the carpet. “Spike, I need to tell you something.”
“What’s that, love?”
“Please don’t call me that.” Cringing, “I need to talk to you and you really shouldn’t call me that…”
Uh oh. Spike gathered Xander’s hands in his and pulled him to sitting where he could look him in the eye but Harris wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Fair enough. What’s on your mind, Xand?”
“Buffy.” The chip prodded him for his warning squeeze as he made Xander’s knuckles crack. “You love her.”
“Yeah.” The vampire returned hoarsely, rubbing life back into Xander’s fingers in apology. A strange intimacy he hadn’t had since Dru, one he hadn’t realized he’d readopted.
“Spike, what would you do if… i-if there was a way to bring her back?”
This time, when Spike’s hands lurched in surprise he broke Xander’s finger and the chip blasted him to near unconsciousness.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Christ, Spike, are you okay? I’m so sorry…” Xander was saying when the vampire regained the ability to understand English. Xander’s hand, the one that Spike hadn’t inadvertently injured, was rubbing gently and rhythmically against the back of his head. The vampire rode waves of chip-induced pain feeling like a grenade had gone off in his skull until it finally subsided while Xander was still babbling apologies and half explanations that grated on his ears.
“What the hell is this about, Harris?” He demanded hoarsely when his tongue started working. There was a pause, a pregnant silence where his mind filled with expletives he didn’t have the capacity to utter, “What did you do?”
“Nothing!” Xander defended immediately, guilty and squirming, “It’s just… I have to ask. You’ve been so unhappy and I know you love her, and miss her, so I had to tell you. Willow thinks there might be a way to bring her back. I…” Spike sat up with a lurch, fixing a blood-shot glare on Xander who refused to meet his eyes, choosing instead to cradle the swiftly purpling finger he’d allowed Spike to break. “I just want you to be happy.”
“Happy?” he repeated dully.
“If you want her back… if you need her I’ll help bring Buffy back to life. I want it to be your decision.”
Did he need her? Xander’s earnest, cautious face was telling the truth – they’d bring the slayer back – and for one minute, one wrenching, indecisive, agonizing minute he was tempted; he wanted and he was filled with shame. Shame and relief as he said, “She deserves her rest, love.”
Quietly, “Please don’t call me that.”
“Xander…” Harris’ eyes rose flinchingly to meet his, “love.”
Despite the purple finger, despite having lost their best friend forever, despite the awkwardness of the moment a slow, hesitant smile formed around Xander’s mouth. “Oh.”
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