Xander pushed open the door, figuring he’d leave the lighter on the sarcophagus, but Spike was there, lying on the stone slab.
“Hey, um, you left your lighter at the Bronze,” Xander explained, rolling his eyes at how stupid that sounded.
Spike didn’t answer.
“Spike? You all right?” Xander approached him slowly.
“Just leave it, Harris.”
Xander didn’t know if he meant the lighter or the question. “Um, where do you want me to put it?” he asked, deciding ignorance was the better part of valor.
Spike sat up with a sigh that was equal parts pain and frustration and Xander couldn’t help the shocked sound he made as he took in the battered face, bruises mottling Spike’s torso and cuts above his eyes, lip swollen and bleeding. His first thought, was something along the lines of oh my God, Glory’s back.
Then Xander saw the look he was growing to dread in Spike’s eyes and he didn’t have to ask what happened at all. He saw, and he understood, and his heart ached a little more for what had broken irreparably in the beautiful blond-haired girl he fell in love with a lifetime ago, and the vampire destroying himself trying to fix it.
“Wow!” Xander exclaimed. “You know, if you and Buffy ran into something nasty you should have called. I mean, sure, if it did that to you it’d probably would have tossed me into a building, or, possibly, through one, but distraction can be a good thing if it keeps the big guns from getting used as demonic chew toys. What was it anyway?”
Spike’s expression was blank and uncomprehending as Xander babbled. Xander knew the moment that Spike figured it out though, as a tear rolled down his cheek. Spike ignored it and cleared his throat. “Big one, yeah. Bout seven feet tall, all horns and teeth.”
“I’ll bet you and Buffy mopped the floor with it though, right?”
“Damn right we did,” Spike confirmed, getting into the story. “Was going after the young girls leaving the club, but Buffy had to get involved of course,” he complained.
Xander smiled sadly. “She’s a hero. It’s what she does.”
Spike nodded tightly. “Anyway, it would have ripped her throat out, but I managed to get a hold of a couple of its horns. Gave me a good ride, though…” he explained, gesturing to his bruised and broken body.
“Buffy save the day?”
“Course she did. Took it’s head clean off. Not before I got in my licks, though,” he added.
Xander agreed easily. “She couldn’t have taken that thing on alone.”
“She’ll never have to,” Spike added, under his breath.
It was a beautiful story.