Pairing: Spike and Xander friendship, pre-Spike/Xander
Rating: PG-13
Chapter: 1/1
Time Period: mid Season 7
Summary: For [info]angstpuppy. Xander's hurt on patrol, and help comes from an unexpected source.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the thoughts in my head.



A Surprising Gentleness


by
Authoress Nebula


“We'll regroup and head out again tomorrow night. I think we really scared them off, though. Who knew demons were easily freaked by the sight of bunnies?” Buffy said, grinning for the first time in weeks. They'd won tonight when a group of rabbits had hopped across their path. The demons had emitted girl-like shrieks and had taken off.

“Well, of course they were!” Anya said, shuddering. “Who wouldn't be? Those things are creepy, and they have beady-eyes, and their ears are WAY too long...”

The group rolled their eyes as one, before each headed off for their own thing. Willow and Buffy headed upstairs to snag the bathroom before the girls did, while Dawn headed for the kitchen. Anya huffed and headed for the living room for some reason, and Xander just stayed in the doorway. It hurt less if he didn't move so much.

Eventually, though, someone was going to open the door and send him flying, and that was fresh pain on top of the pain he already had. Biting his lip, he began to move, feeling every step grate against the wound that was digging against the rim of his jeans. His shirt felt sticky, and he was glad he'd had his jacket with him in the car. He imagined it was probably looking horrible at this point.

He thought about hiding downstairs when the girls came bustling in to join Dawn in the food raid. After a second's thought, however, he decided to not take the stairs and just head out to the back porch. The thought of going down all those stairs sort of scared him right now. He felt as stable as a kid on their first two-wheel bike, and they had something else in common: a definite crash waited for them both.

Xander would prefer if he didn't crash down the stairs.

He closed the door slowly behind him, then lowered himself onto the stairs, hissing as the pain flared. It hurt a lot more than he'd have liked it to. Of course, he'd rather not be hurting at all, but he didn't have a choice at the moment. Everything ached from his desperate dive earlier that evening to avoid the hit he'd taken anyways.

“You all right?”

Xander glanced up and found Spike in front of him, frowning. “Thought you were inside,” Xander said.

Spike glanced back at the small garage. “Had to put the bigger weapons away. Still doesn't explain what you're doin' out here.”

Expecting him to want inside, Xander shifted over to let the vampire through, completely forgetting about the wound in his side. It reminded him before he'd even settled himself into his new position, and he fought to keep from whimpering. Shit but that hurt.

He must not have managed it as well as he'd thought. Spike's frown deepened, and he knelt down on one of the stairs in front of Xander. “Thought no one had gotten hurt tonight,” he said, unzipping his jacket. “What happened?”

“Remember that spectacular pool dive I did earlier, except without the pool?” Xander asked, cringing when the jacket was pulled aside.

“To miss the demon's swipe, yeah,” Spike said, pulling the jacket all the way from the wound and freezing.

“He didn't miss,” Xander said hoarsely. Exposed to the air, the wound seemed to pulse with new pain and life. Dried and fresh blood glistened in the little bits of light from the house behind them. The shirt was torn, exposing the mutilated skin underneath.

“Bloody hell,” Spike muttered, staring at the wound with...something, some sort of emotion Xander didn't fully understand. “Need to get this taken care of, mate. When Buffy called for injuries, why didn't you say somethin'?”

Xander wondered if he should try and even explain. She'd been so tired before they'd gone out, but when the demons had taken off, she'd almost started laughing. She'd smiled and looked a little less stressed out, and if he'd said something about being hurt, she would've gone back to being General Buffy. Stressed and tight and making choices she didn't want to make. He wanted to give her a break for the evening.

Plus, he would've been the only one calling injury, and that wasn't something his ego needed.

“Never mind,” Spike said, sighing. “Think I know why. Buffy, right?”

“She was happy tonight,” Xander said simply. “I couldn't ruin that.”

Cool fingers ran along the edge of the wound, causing Xander to wince. “I've got a first aid kit downstairs,” Spike said, rising slowly. “We won't have to raid the one upstairs, then. C'mon.”

“Not sure if I can make it downstairs,” Xander admitted, gratefully taking the hand Spike offered and using it to pull himself up. It didn't matter how fast or how slow he moved; the wound just throbbed, keeping him on edge and oh so tired.

“We'll make it down easy enough,” Spike murmured as he opened the door. The girls were still eating their snacks, chatting about nothing in particular. Casually they stepped inside and headed for the basement stairs. It took every bit of Xander's strength to stand upright and pass through the girls. Spike opened the door, and Xander stepped through, stopping on the first stair and gazing down at the dozen other steps in weary resignation.

The door closed behind them, and two hands gently grasped his arms. “One at a time,” Spike said softly.

Step by step, inch by inch, the two made their way down the narrow staircase. Things were starting to spin, and Xander felt as if he weren't really there, like he was watching himself from a different vantage point. Each step felt like a faint echo, like he was numb and couldn't even feel it. Maybe he couldn't.

Finally they reached the bottom, and Xander sagged against Spike, his energy spent. “Gotta stay with me a bit longer,” Spike whispered into his ear. Xander whimpered at the thought of staying conscious for any longer. He had sleep dancing in front of him, beautiful resting healing sleep, and he wasn't allowed to have it.

The body he was leaning against guided them over to something hard but soft all at once. He had nothing to lean on anymore, so Xander settled for leaning over himself as he sat, blinking his eyes blearily and trying to stay with...whomever that had been. Someone had told him to stay with them for a little longer.

Gentle touches slid the jacket off his shoulders, down his wrists, and finally off of him. There was a pulsing pain somewhere, and it felt like it was stinging now, no longer hidden safely by the layering he'd been wearing. Then he felt nothing except the surface beneath him. It felt like he was sitting on a cloud of cement, and after a moment's thought, realized that didn't make any sort of sense. There was a stiffness beneath him, but it felt smooth and padded, not sharp and jagged. Not like the concrete could be.

Not like the demon's claw had been.

Then something wet slid across the pulsing pain, and he jerked, suddenly more with it than he wanted to be. The pain was threatening to swallow him, and he just wanted to be anywhere but where he was right now. Moving sharply hadn't done him any good either, and he felt sick to his stomach, and the pain just kept spreading, burning inside and around him, and couldn't someone just kill him now because it just hurt...

“Shhh,” a voice whispered, and something cool touched his face. He managed to focus on the owner of the voice in front of him, and Spike was gazing at him in worry and concern, cool fingers gliding and caressing Xander's cheek. He leaned into the touch and closed his eyes, trying to focus on the small comforting touch. The pain was overwhelming, and he just wanted to sleep, but he couldn't, had to stay with it a little longer...

“Just sleep, Xander,” Spike said, and Xander finally let himself slide into the depths of unconsciousness.


~*~*~*~*~


When he woke up, he found that the pain in his side was nothing more than a dull ache. He glanced over at his side, and a white bandage met his vision.

That question having been answered, Xander glanced at his surroundings.

He was still in the basement, but sunlight was beginning to creep in from the window near the stairs. Early morning, then. He couldn't hear anyone moving around upstairs yet. The cot creaked beneath him as he moved slightly, and he was pleased that no jolts of pain shot through his body. He'd be fine, then. He just needed to take it easy.

His jacket hung over the back of a nearby chair, and sleeping in that chair was Spike. He'd slid forward in his position, and his head rested against the side of the chair, cushioned by the jacket behind it.

He'd probably watched Xander for most of the night. He looked peaceful sitting like that, eyes closed and deeply lost in slumber. He must've been exhausted after the fight last night.

Yet he'd still taken care of Xander. The one person in this household that Spike probably disliked the most, and he'd taken care of him. Gently, tenderly, he'd cared for him. It hadn't been for earning points with Buffy. He'd just taken care of Xander because he'd been...concerned? Worried?

Spike had even given him his own bed. Granted, it was a cot, but it was Spike's nonetheless, and he'd put Xander on it, choosing to sleep in a rickety old wooden chair.

A few moments later, Xander pushed himself to a sitting position, and from there onto his feet. He took small steps, but they weren't as unstable as they'd been last night. He made his way towards the stairs, taking the wall when he needed to.

He paused beside Spike, and then leaned down, pressing a soft kiss to the vampire's forehead. He'd feel silly for it later, but it just felt...right. Like he was supposed to.

“Thank you,” he whispered, before heading up the stairs.




The End




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