Rating: R/Implied Slash
Pairing: Spike/Xander (mention of het)
Length: 2226 words
Summary: Xander comes home early and discovers a painful truth.
Notes: Angst, partner betrayal, this is not a happy fic. Written for thestacks March Fuh-Q-Fest, prompt challenge: “I’m sorry”.
Feedback: It’s ALL about the feedback (and naked Spike)! Don’t make me beg, it’s not pretty.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the series, characters and concepts are the property, copyright and trademark of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Kuzui Enterprises, Grr Argh, the WB, UPN and whomever else they really belong to. No ownership is claimed by the author. This work is nonprofit, noncommercial and not for sale for commercial purposes. Characters and situations not specifically owned by the creators of BtVS/Ats or under copyright, are the sole copyright of the author.
Thanks: To Tammy, for the most excellent beta! You are a gem among—uh—other shiny stuff.
Written: March 19, 2005
Xander had arrived back a whole day early, but he was still impatient to get home. Andrew was sick, so Giles had asked if he minded collecting a young slayer Henry had discovered in Spain, and bringing her to London for orientation. What It Means To Be a Slayer, Xander thought, and smiled despite his weariness.
All of the slayers they found were put through a six month training session where they learned the 101 of what a slayer was and some basic self-defense. After Dana, they added seminars and psych classes that helped them deal with things that made a slayer unique, such as their strength, and included courses in anger management, all to make sure they remained on the path and only used their powers for good.
Many of the slayers came from poor families in even poorer countries, and most of them chose to stay in London beyond the six months. A place to sleep, food, and an education they’d never have been able to receive had they not been discovered and brought to London were not looked upon lightly.
The taxi finally pulled up in front of the apartment he shared with Spike. Xander paid the driver, and then grabbed his bag and climbed out. The elevator was broken, so he climbed the two flights of stairs to their floor and trudged down the hallway. Trying to be quiet, he unlocked the door and slipped into an apartment seeped in darkness due to heavy curtains despite the sun shining outside. He didn’t want to wake Spike if he was still sleeping.
A quick search of the apartment revealed that Spike wasn’t there. He was probably sparring with the slayers, Xander thought. He was disappointed that he didn’t get to surprise his lover, but Xander knew that Spike got bored and lonely when he was out of town, so didn’t begrudge him the opportunity to do something that not only kept Spike busy, but helped them train the new slayers. And it didn’t hurt that Spike got to beat up on the slayers, either, Xander thought, smiling at a memory of Spike, bruised and bloody and barely standing, still laughing and taunting the slayers he was supposed to be training.
Xander unpacked his bag and tossed most of its contents into the dirty clothes basket. He left a change of clothes on the bed and went to take a shower. The flight had left him with a headache and feeling grungy, he hoped an aspirin and a shower would take care of that. Half an hour later he was dressed and ready to head out and find Spike.
The first person he saw at the Council’s Training Center was Dawn. She waylaid him and made him tell her everything about Spain. Since he’d only seen the inside of the airport and his hotel, that conversation didn’t last very long.
“So, you looking for Spike?” Dawn asked, a twinkle in her eyes.
“Why would I be looking for Spike?” Xander responded, trying to look serious.
Dawn just rolled her eyes. “Training ended about ten minutes ago, but I think he’s still in the training room with Buffy.”
It was Xander’s turn to roll his eye. Those two never seemed to get enough sparring in. “I’ll go see if I can drag him away,” Xander said.
“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll need to be dragged,” Dawn teased. “Kicking and screaming, even.”
“Nah, the screaming comes later,” Xander said, grinning when Dawn blushed.
“Go on!” She gave him a little push.
Xander meandered down the hallway, trying to act nonchalant, even though what he really wanted to do was break into a run. He paused and took a deep breath when he reached the door to the training room. He shook his head when he heard noises from inside the room that told him Spike and Buffy were still going at it.
Xander pushed the door open, a wide smile splitting his face as he anticipated Spike’s reaction to his early return. He hoped he wouldn’t be able to sit for a week without remembering this homecoming. “God, don’t you two ever....”
Spike was on the floor, Buffy straddling him as they kissed passionately. Buffy had one hand buried in Spike’s hair, pulling his head back, the other touching places that only Xander was allowed to touch, while both of Spike’s hands cupped her ass.
“...stop fighting?” he choked out.
Xander’s chest felt like someone had punched him really hard and he was having trouble breathing. The smile fell off his face as the two turned guilty expressions towards him. They were both breathing hard, lips swollen from kissing, eyes bright with passion.
“Xander!” they said almost simultaneously. It would have been funny any other time, but the fun had all been sucked—no pun intended—out of this day. They both sounded shocked, but they couldn’t possibly be as shocked as he was. Xander took a step backward, and then another.
Spike pushed at Buffy. “Get off, Slayer. Xander, wait.”
Xander stepped into the hall and let the door swing shut, and then turned and ran for the front door. He didn’t try to be quiet or nonchalant this time, didn’t care who saw Spike, his t-shirt pushed up and jeans unbuttoned, running after him.
“Xander, what’s wrong?” he heard Dawn ask from behind him as he pushed the front door open, but he didn’t take time to reply. Then he heard her muffled, “Oh, no,” when she must have caught sight of Spike.
He made it out into the sunshine before Spike could catch him. Xander wasn’t concerned about Buffy coming after him, but didn’t stop running until he’d put some distance between himself and the Training Center anyway. He slowed down to a walk, stopping only when he was too tired to continue. He bought a bottle of water and found a seat in one of the many parks, and thought.
Before they started dating, Xander had made Spike swear he was over Buffy. There was no way he was going to be a substitute for what Spike really wanted. And Spike had said the words Xander had needed to hear. Now, he and Spike had been together long enough that Xander really thought this was it. Forever. Spike had told Xander that he loved him, and Xander believed him. Had believed him.
“I want to be assigned somewhere out of the country,” Xander said.
Giles’ mouth dropped open in surprise. “Xander, are you sure? You’ve always said you didn’t want another assignment like Africa.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” Xander said. He knew that he looked like hell, his eye was probably bloodshot from tears he’d tried not to shed.
Giles took his glasses off and polished them. Xander had realized early on that it was a gesture Giles used when he needed to think, buy time.
“May I ask why you’ve changed your mind?” Giles asked after replacing the glasses.
Xander let out a harsh bark of laughter. “I’m sure it’s already going around the slayer rumor mill, but I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that I don’t want to be around Spike or Buffy right now.”
Giles frowned, confused. “I don’t understand. You can’t mean that Spike...and Buffy...,” he stumbled over the words as realization sunk in.
“I’d prefer someplace with lots of sun,” Xander requested as if Giles hadn’t spoken.
“Xander,” Giles spoke softly, “perhaps you should give it a day or two before you make this decision.”
“I’m leaving London, Giles,” Xander replied firmly. “I’d prefer to do it in the employ of the Council, but that’s not necessary.”
Giles was silent a moment, then said, “Very well. Andrew!”
Andrew appeared in the doorway, tissues in one hand, appointment book in the other. “Yes?”
“Who do we have in the field in need of some time off?”
“Oh.” Andrew looked at both his hands as if they’d betrayed him by not bringing the items Giles was going to ask for. He then appeared to be giving Giles’ question deep thought.
“David Marshall has been in the field for nearly a year now without a break,” he finally said.
“Thank you, Andrew.” Giles turned to Xander. “How do you feel about covering for David while we give him some time off?”
“Sounds good to me,” Xander said. “When can I leave?”
“Don’t you want to know where you’ll be going?”
“It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s not here.”
“Xander, are you absolutely su—.”
“I’d prefer the first available flight,” Xander said harshly, standing. He wanted to put an end to this conversation so he could begin the process of moving on. He still had to go back to his apartment and pack, possibly deal with Spike, and then find a hotel for the night if his flight wasn’t soon.
Giles sighed. “Andrew, please see about getting Xander a flight out, and contact David with the news.”
“On it!” Andrew nearly flew out of the office to do Giles’ bidding.
“We’ll call you with the flight time. You have your cell?”
Xander nodded. “While I’m gone could you, uh, could you...put my stuff in storage?”
“Don’t. I need....” Xander swallowed hard. He didn’t know what he needed, other than to get out of London and away from Spike and Buffy as soon as possible.
“If you’re sure, Xander,” Giles said sympathetically, “I’ll have it taken care of.”
Xander’s throat was tight, but he managed to say, “I’m sure.” He turned to leave, hesitated. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“Oh, Xander, you’re welcome.” Giles’ sadly spoken words followed him out of the office.
Spike was waiting for Xander when he got back to the apartment, staring at him when he came through the door, having sensed Xander’s approach before he even got there. He looked agitated.
“Xander, there you are! Thank hell!” Spike shakily ran his fingers through his hair. “Xan, luv, where have you been? I was worried....” Spike broke off when Xander just stared at him in disbelief.
Xander turned away and headed for the bedroom. He heard Spike follow him, but ignored him. Xander pulled out the bag he’d just unpacked and began refilling it with clean clothes.
“What are you doing?” Spike asked.
“Packing,” Xander replied unhelpfully.
“I’ve taken a field assignment,” Xander said, figuring Spike would find out anyway.
“You’ve what?” When Xander didn’t respond, Spike said, “You hated being in the field.”
Xander gave a bitter huff of laughter. “Right now, I hate being here more.”
“So, what, you’re just leaving? Leaving me?” Spike asked.
Xander froze at those words, then lifted his eye to Spike’s. “How dare you act the jilted lover?” he ground out.
“Xander, please, let me explain.”
“I don’t need an explanation,” Xander said, dumping the socks he still held into the bag, “I got an eyeful.”
“You don’t understand...,” Spike began.
“Were you, or were you not, going to have sex with Buffy?”
Spike hesitated. “It’s not what you think.”
“Answer the damn question!” Xander growled.
Even though he knew it already, it still hurt to hear Spike say it. Xander nodded, fighting back the tears. “You told me you didn’t love her anymore.”
“I don’t love her, Xander. That.... What you saw, that had nothing to do with love. It was just...just sex, that’s all.”
“Yes! I mean, the fighting, a-a-and the adrenaline....”
“And you just couldn’t help yourself,” Xander supplied dryly.
“Right!” Spike said. “You know how bored I get....”
“So sex is now the cure to your boredom?”
“...and lonely when you’re gone....”
“Don’t even try and blame this on me,” Xander snarled. “I wasn’t even gone three full days! I mean, what was different about this trip than any other trip I’ve ever gone on that you had to...?”
Xander broke off at the guilty expression on Spike’s face. “This wasn’t the first time,” he said. He didn’t need to make it a question, because he already knew the answer. “You told me you loved me.” He said it sadly, without censure. He wondered if he should have expected this, his karmic due.
Spike took a step towards him. “Xander, I do! I do love you,” he insisted. “I need you. I don’t love her, I just....”
“Can’t stay away from her,” Xander supplied, heart breaking again.
“I won’t be back,” Xander said, resuming his packing so he had something to do with his hands. “Giles is going to put my things in storage.”
“I need you to leave now, Spike.”
“I can’t bear looking at you,” he admitted in a choked voice.
“Xander, I’m...I’m sorry.”
“So am I,” Xander said, refusing to look up from the bag until he heard the front door shut.
Through blurred vision, a second, smaller bag was filled with other items Xander knew from experience he’d need in the field—books to read, a journal, extra batteries for his cell phone. Only when both bags were sitting side-by-side on the bed did Xander allow himself to fall apart. He slid down to sit on the floor, his back resting against the bed, knees drawn up and arms curled around them. Burying his face in his arms, he let the tears fall as he waited for Giles’ phone call.
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