Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: NC 17
Warnings: Semi- character death, Angst, Borderline- underage sex, but not really.. (just read it, I can’t explain!)
Summary: That would be giving it away, wouldn't it?
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Beta: Mofetash





Second Chance


by
Denied Heaven



Prologue

“Mmm,” Xander purred into the cool mouth currently devouring his. When Spike leaned back and smirked down at his dark, glazed eyes and slightly dopey expression, he blinked slowly up at the vampire.

“What was that for?”

After grabbing the boy’s swollen lower lip in between his strong white teeth and tugging gently, Spike reluctantly rolled over to sit at the edge of the bed.

“Need a reason to snog you now, do I, luv?” he asked, standing and stretching, muscles rippling under pale skin. Padding naked over to his duster, he pawed through the pockets in search of his lighter, before glancing back at the bed and crooking a dark eyebrow in question.

Xander grinned and stretched his arms out above his head, wiggling around so that he was spread out on the dark sheets. It was rare when he had the bed all to himself.

“Well no, but if that was a prelude to anything else, I have to say you’ve worn me out for now, Spike. Not a vampire, here, us breathing-types need a break every now and then.”

Eyes heating up at the sight of his claimed writhing naked on his bed, arms above his head in a position of submission, Spike bit back a low moan and growled out, “Yeah, a pity, that.” Tearing his eyes away from the innocently erotic sight, he drew deeply on the just-lit fag, drawing the smoke deep into dead lungs, before letting it out in a slow stream towards the ceiling.

Under control again, he turned back to the dark haired teenager on the bed. No, not a teenager any longer, the boy had turned twenty a few days ago, he reminded himself. It didn’t help, though, Spike had a feeling he would always see the boy as the scrawny sixteen year old his sire had offered to him four years ago.

Has it really been four years?

It hadn’t been too very long after that day that he had taken Angel up on the false offer. After Dru had left him for another demon because he had helped send Angelus to Hell, he had kidnapped the whelp and the witch for a love spell to use on her.

Hadn’t ever gotten around to it, though. He had smelled the pheromones pouring off of the boy every time he had touched him and with just one real look into those puppy brown eyes, he had gotten lost in a different kind of love spell.

Truly sad how far down he had come since that day, but at least he had the boy. He could live with helping the Slayer, killing his own kind and reuniting with his ponce of a sire, as long as they let him keep Xander. He’d rather take the boy far away from the Hellmouth and the interfering, nosy humans but his claimed wouldn’t leave. Bloody noble child.

He had no business being with a human of such light and goodness, he knew it and so did everyone else. But though him and the boy had both fought it with every fiber of their beings, they had eventually given into their feelings and Spike couldn’t remember a time in his life, human or not, that he had been happier.

So he corrupted the boy a little, and let Xander try to convince him to work on the side of good. Compromise was good. Fuck, he had even went and gotten a soddin’ soul for the boy after he had almost took him by force once, during their often fiery and mercurial ‘courtship’.

Bloody nancy poof ‘m turnin’ into. There was no fire in the mental grumble, though, and Spike’s lips twitched as he watched his lover sprawl spread-eagled on the bed and curl his toes into the sheets. Such a puppy, he was.

A flicker of long dark eyelashes alerted him to the fact that his boy was watching Spike watch him. Through their bond, he could feel the slow heat building steadily up again in the human’s body and he bit back a smirk. Stubbing out the fag on the top of the dresser, he left it there and slowly, sinuously, stalked his way back to the bed.

Letting his eyelids drop heavily to partly shield his dark eyes, Xander could feel the pulse race in his neck with every prowling step his vampire took towards him. Muscles twitching, wanting to flee because something primitive in his mind screamed that Spike was the predator and he was the prey, he had to force himself to lie still.

He had run from Spike once, playfully, early on in the relationship, and the bruises had taken weeks to heal. Spike had been apologetic, climbing off of him and doctoring him up, but he had gotten a harsh scolding from the vampire afterwards.

He sure learned that lesson. No running from the demon, it just makes it attack.

Besides, it wasn’t like he actually wanted to run from Spike, not when the vampire did such delicious things to him.

By the time the blonde was crawling up the bed to cover him, his breath was coming in short pants and his cock had shown its renewed interest by hardening again, already leaking on his taut belly.

He arched up against the cool flesh that covered iron-hard muscles, as Spike pressed him down into the bed. His low voice purred into Xander’s ears, “Such a good boy, all ready and eager for me, aren’t you, pet? So,” a wet velvety lick along his neck, “Bloody,” another soft massaging lick, this time right over his claim mark and he whimpered. “Responsive,” the word purred right over that sensitive skin and Xander shuddered in need.

“Please, please,” he choked out, bending his neck even farther. Spike chuckled, a low and slightly evil sound. “But luv, I thought I had tired you out?”

Xander growled and bucked his hips, rubbing his erection against the vampire’s just as hard, but slightly cooler, one. Spike hissed at the sensation and shifted, his eyes glowing gold as he looked down at him. Whimpering, Xander pressed soft kisses over the now-familiar and loved planes of the demonic face and tilted his head back once again, baring his throat to his lover.

Unable to tease any longer, Spike brushed his fangs over the human’s warm, silken skin and sank them deep into the first marks he had made on his boy. He drew slowly, so slowly, on the wound, wanting to draw out the moment as long as he could. It was only a small taste, but it ran hot and wild through his veins, making him shudder in need.

The boy bucking under him, the hot pulsing erection grinding into his own hard, sensitive flesh, made his eyes roll back into his head. Through the bond, he could feel the almost agonizing pleasure that Xander was feeling from the bite, could feel the blood connecting them even further.

Distantly, he heard Xander’s hoarse moan as the boy came and felt the warmth on his belly. All of the erotic sensations combined and he felt his own body convulse against the sweaty body of his lover as his balls drew up, emptying his cool essence to mix with the boy’s.

Licking the small punctures closed, he purred, a low rumble, and flipped them so that Xander was lying on his lightly vibrating chest. Long, elegant fingers brushed the tangled black and sweaty hair back from the boy’s forehead, before he pressed a cool, soft kiss to the flushed skin there.

Xander’s pulse slowly started to wind down and he snuggled his chin in closer to the crook of his vampire’s neck. There was nowhere else he wanted to be and he wished that they could spend all day just as they were.

Even as he had the thought, though, he felt Spike sigh underneath him and he clung a little tighter, knowing they had to get up and get dressed any minute. The strong cool arms around him tightened a bit, then relaxed, and Spike shifted him so that he could get back out of the bed.

“Gotta run over to Peaches’ old place, he’s in town cuz his seer had some vision bout somethin’ and he wants me to look at a drawing to see if I recognize it. He called earlier while you were sleepin’,” he told Xander, as he reached for a towel to wipe the sticky mess off of his belly, then slipped into a pair of faded blue jeans.

Grimacing, Xander dropped his head onto the pillow and sighed. “So not going with you. He hates me and we always manage to piss each other off when we’re around each other more than five minutes.”

“He doesn’t hate you,” came the automatic answer.

“Does so, he gives me these looks. Evil looks,” he complained, flipping over on his belly so he could watch Spike move around the room. The blonde laughed and pulled a grey t-shirt over his head. It had taken Xander over two years to get his lover out of wearing nothing but black and red. Not that he hated those colors, Spike was beautiful in anything, but since Spike had taken over his wardrobe, he figured he had to get some payback somehow.

“Pet, Angel only has three expressions. Broody, annoyed and somewhere in between,” the vampire told him, walking back over to the bed to ruffle the messy black hair on his head. “Don’t care, still hate him. He always tries to separate us,” Xander mumbled, pouting up at Spike.

Spike sighed, getting annoyed with the old argument. “Oh, like your bleedin’ do-gooder friends don’t? No one is gonna separate us, luv. Stop worryin’ so much.” He smacked Xander on the ass and the boy yelped. “Get dressed, I wanna get back home sometime tonight.”

Spike grinned as he watched the dark haired boy grumble and sigh as he pulled on a pair of black jeans, boots and a dark blue button-up over a white t-shirt. Coming up behind him, the vampire wrapped his arms loosely around the boy’s waist, nuzzling his chin against the warm crook of Xander’s neck.

“You don’t have to go, pet. Just remember to not leave Giles’ without me, I don’t like you patrolling with those twits when I’m not there.”

Xander turned around in his arms and huffed out, “I’m not helpless, Spike. I’ve been killing demons for almost five years now, give me some credit.”

Narrowing his eyes at his human, Spike growled. “This isn’t negotiable, Xander. You aren’t a Slayer, a witch or a vampire and they all seem to forget that. They don’t look after you enough and ‘m just not bloody havin’ it.”

With a roll of his eyes, Xander pulled away and stalked towards the dresser to grab his comb and quickly brushed through the tangles in his hair. Throwing it back down, he snapped, “Yeah, yeah, Xander’s weak and helpless, I get it. Can we go now?”

A strong hand swung him around and cold, hard as steel fingers dug into his shoulders as he stared defiantly at the angry vampire. Golden eyes glared into his as Spike shook him lightly, growling out, “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

Shoving Xander back a few steps, Spike reached for his duster and pulled it on, scowling. Sighing deeply, he closed his eyes and breathed in a slow, deliberate breath. His features human again, he turned back to the boy and caught him by the chin in a strong grip, murmuring gruffly, “Love ya, I do. Don’t want anythin’ to happen, is all.”

Xander sighed and nodded wearily, as fed up with the same weekly argument as Spike was. There just didn’t seem to be a compromise.

Following his lover out the front door of their apartment, the cool night air sneaking in underneath his new black leather jacket, Xander turned and locked the door. Spike smiled almost sadly at him, an apologetic yet obstinate look in his eyes before saying, “Be careful on the way to the Watcher’s. Should be there in a few hours.”

Throwing his hands up in exasperation, Xander groaned, “Spike, it’s only a block down! I promise I’ll make it in one piece.”

The blonde nodded, before turning to start off in the opposite direction, towards Angel’s old mansion. After a second’s hesitation, Xander ran a few steps after him. Grabbing him by the collar of the duster, feeling the cool leather bunch up in his fist, he whirled him around. He ignored the startled look on Spike’s face and brushed his lips over the vampire’s lightly, before deepening the kiss for a long moment, tongues delving and sliding against each other.

Stepping back, he smiled at the bemused expression he had caused and said softly, “Love you, too, Spike. See you in a few hours.” Turning, he jogged down the sidewalk, heading towards Giles’ house.

Spike stared after the boy until he turned the corner, then shook himself lightly and smiled as he turned and made his way to his sire’s.

---

“I just don’t understand why you’re still with him, Xander. I mean, you hated him just like we did, then one day you’re just shackin’ up. You weren’t even gay!”

Muttering under his breath, Xander closed the heavy book he was looking in and thumped his head down on the desk repeatedly. “We’ve had this conversation a million times, Buffy. I love him, and nothing you can say is going to change that.”

She rolled her eyes in exasperation and brushed a hand through her hair. “He’s a vampire…he’s evil and I should have dusted him years ago. I mean, how do you know he really loves you and isn’t just using you for something?”

Standing so quickly that he knocked his chair over, he whirled around to face her, eyes flashing with temper. “He went and got a soul for me, damn it. I would think that would prove it.”

“Yeah, after he practically raped you, Xander. Don’t forget we were all there afterwards, we saw how devastated you were,” she snapped back, and Willow finally looked up from the computer and made a small noise in her throat. “Buffy…” she started, but Xander pounded his fist on the desk and they both stared at him.

“Stop, just stop. It was three fucking years ago and he was going through a bad time. Deadboy did a whole lot worse to our group but he’s still trusted and allowed around. I’m sick of you guys treating Spike like he’s lower than dirt when all he does is help. So…stop,” he bit out, closing his eyes briefly before staring at them steadily.

They looked at him sadly a moment and he pushed down the guilt he felt for snapping at them; he was just sick of listening to it. In four years, nothing had changed their minds about Spike.

Finally, the girls looked briefly at each other and Buffy cleared her throat. “So, yeah. Let’s go patrol, we aren’t finding anything out about the baddy here.” Buffy and Willow stood, Willow walking to the couch to wake up Tara, and Xander bit his lip in indecision. He didn’t want to worry Spike but he also didn’t want to bring up that he wasn’t supposed to leave without him and start the whole conversation over again.

“Maybe we should stop by Angel’s, he or Spike might know something about it,” he finally suggested, and to his relief, they simply nodded. Buffy yelled into the kitchen and told Giles they were leaving and the Watcher walked back in, nodding absently.

“Since you’re heading over to Angel’s, I’ll walk with you. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask him and I keep forgetting to call LA.”

---

Less than a block from Angel’s, the demon found them. None of them had seen it coming and Buffy hadn’t felt it approach, either.

Within minutes, it had knocked Willow almost unconscious by slamming her against the wall and kept dodging away from Buffy’s attacks. Tara shook her lover, trying to keep her awake. Giles was cursing softly as he tried to figure out what would kill it and Xander was trying to distract it so that Buffy could get in a few shots.

Wincing as the scaly fist of the demon knocked him hard into the brick wall, Xander shook his head and tried to make the stars whirling around in his eyes fade. When it started back towards Willow, he reached out and punched it hard in the back, just as Giles yelled, “Xander! No, don’t! Buffy, cut its head off. Now!”

It was too late, however. As soon as his fist made contact with the tough leathery scales, two inch diameter, razor sharp spines sprang from the demon’s back. As soon as Buffy decapitated it, the spines sank back into the demon.

Xander jumped back and didn’t feel the pain at first, but at Willow’s gasping yell, he looked down. Three of the deadly spines had impaled him, through his chest and stomach, leaving large holes that were pouring out blood so dark that it was almost black.

The pain hit fast and he dropped to his knees in agony, as he watched everyone move in slow motion towards him. His head spun crazily and the world tilted, black spots dancing in front of his eyes. When he blinked them away, the pain was gone…only a numb coldness remained.

Willow held his head in her lap and he stared up at her, mouth trying to form the words he wanted to say. Her tears rained down on his face and they felt so hot on his skin. “Spike…” he rasped out painfully, and she nodded. “It’s okay, Xander. You’re gonna be okay.”

He knew better, he could feel his heart slowing with every labored breath and the weight on his chest pressed him farther and farther down into the ground as he gave up trying to speak.

Reaching for their bond, he sent, Sorry, so sorry. I didn’t know, you were right, so right. Love you, need you, and closed his eyes at the sudden wash of pain and terror he felt coming from Spike. Close, so close, but too far away.

***

They were in mid-conversation when the pain hit Spike and he screamed, feeling as though a red hot knife had cut him from chest to navel, splitting him wide open. It took him a moment of clutching at his belly in horror before he realized the pain wasn’t coming from him.

Nausea roiled in his stomach, for the first time in a century, and he almost blacked out, but he managed to stay upright, as upright as one can be on their knees and bent over. Mentally running a check over his body, he was reassured again that there was nothing physically wrong with him. But the pain…

Then it eased, which scared him even more than the agony ripping apart his insides, because he went numb, almost paralyzed, practically frozen in place. He could feel Angel shaking him, a big meaty fist on his shoulder, but he couldn’t speak.

When whatever it was released him, it happened in a flash, and he collapsed down on hands and knees, shaking. It was then that he reached for the bond in the back of his mind, wanting to make sure Xander hadn’t felt anything he had been going through.

Xander. And just like that, he knew. Even before the flood of love and sorrow, of pain, apology and hopelessness from his lover washed through his brain, he knew. And he howled, screamed with the anguish of it, the agony of a different sort burning through his veins.

Angel hauled him to his feet and he could hear the older vampire begging him to tell him what was wrong, but he couldn’t speak, couldn’t draw in enough air to. No no no, gotta get to Xander, gotta help, please baby, please…

“Xander,” he finally managed to gasp out, stumbling towards the door. With Angel behind him every step of the way, he made it outside and felt around for the boy, trying to figure out what direction he was in. After a moment, he didn’t need to try.

He could hear the screams.

There was Buffy’s voice, and Willow’s…and they were wailing, loudly, cursing and crying and the sound made his heart shrivel up because… he knew. With every racing moment, closer and closer, he knew.

Within seconds, the two of them were around the corner and they could see the group of humans. Blood, so much blood. The smell of it coated the air, the pool of it dark against the dirty street.

The watcher was on his knees, supporting his Slayer, Tara was kneeling by Willow…and Willow…she was bent over his boy, his life… his everything. At his horrified gasped-out moan, her head came up and he collapsed next to her, watching the tears stream down her red and swollen face. He didn’t want to look, couldn’t. But he did.

Wide open brown eyes stared up at him, eyes that should be filled with agony and pain but were filled instead with an awful, consuming sorrow. Tears and blood covered the beloved face of the boy and Spike’s hands trembled as he wiped ineffectually at it. Xander’s chest rose and fell in a heavy, uneven rhythm and his pale, bloodied lips moved, trying to form the words that Spike knew he didn’t want to hear.

A loud coughing choked sound came from the boy’s throat and before Spike could grasp the fact that this was really happening, that this was the end unless he did something quick, Xander’s eyes rolled back in his head and he was gone.

Just like that.

No warning, no time to convince the Scoobies that they could ensoul him later if Spike made him a vampire, no time to say goodbye or ‘I love you’ or ‘Don’t you fucking die on me’. Just gone.

He felt it echo, the snap of the bond, felt it vibrate through his bones and leave him screaming hoarsely in denial. It couldn’t happen this way, it wasn’t right, wasn’t fair. Then the sudden emptiness, the awful echoing emptiness where their love used to be, where the only warmth and joy in his life had been.

“No, no,” he muttered at first, then said louder and louder until he was screaming it. “No! Ya can’t do this to me, Xan, I fuckin’ need ya, I can’t do this alone. Fuck,” he yelled, fingers digging into the body that only an hour ago had been filled with so much life, so much happiness. He slit his wrist with his fangs and poured his blood into the open mouth, but there was no movement, no life.

Tears started pouring down his vampiric face, but he didn’t feel them. Shaking the still warm body furiously, he begged him in choked whimpers, “Don’t Xan, don’t leave me, please, please, no.”

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Slayer start to move closer and felt the witch shift anxiously, and he snarled at them, clutching the boy tighter. Giles shook his head at the girls, his own tears falling, and whispered brokenly, “He’s already gone.”

The slight hope abruptly extinguished in the red-head's eyes and Spike felt the answering loss of hope in his own; there would be no miracle, no recovery, no rising from the dead.

“Go,” he snarled at the humans. “You can have him and do whatever you need to later, but go. Please,” he added brokenly, his voice breaking on the softly spoken word. The four humans stood dazedly, arms around each other as they cried, and gave one last look behind them as they started to walk away.

His body started shaking with his sobs and he shoved a bloody fist into his mouth to stifle them. The taste of their mixed blood just made him cling tighter to the dead body of his lover and keen loudly, as he felt his sire press close to his back to try to comfort him.

Angel wrapped strong arms around him as he collapsed over Xander’s body, howling in agony and sorrow until his throat was so raw that he couldn’t do more than gasp out pleas and curses. He could feel the cool tears of the older vampire against the back of his neck as he cried, rocking him as he rocked Xander, the pool of blood widening slowly in the dark, dirty alley.

***

Green sparking lights flickered erratically in the small dark room, casting eerie shadows on the walls. Taking a deep breath in, Willow finished the last of the chant and exhaled, as she felt her body race with energy, and a tiny unfamiliar stirring within her.

The room went dark and she closed the circle, standing wearily, her body exhausted by the events and emotions of the day. Please work, Goddess, please let it work.

Tomorrow, she knew, she would be terrified. But tonight, with the magic and the pain and sorrow still racing within her, she just hoped it worked.

Sliding quietly into bed next to her lover, she cuddled close to her warm body, feeling her tears start once again. Xander, I don’t want to be here without you. And he needs you, we never realized, never knew. But Goddess, he needs you.

When Tara stroked her wet hair from her face, she smiled sadly up at her, her heart aching so badly that she couldn’t breathe. It was unfair of her to have done this, but a second longer and it would have been too late. But she didn’t want to lose Tara, either.

“Tara, honey, how do you feel about babies?”





Part One

The full moon cast a silver glow on the tanned skin of the boy, causing him to look almost ethereal and otherworldly. Keeping to the dark shadows, Spike stalked silently behind the carelessly whistling human, telling himself it was the chase, the hunt, that excited him so much, that made him almost feel his borrowed blood pound in his dead veins.

It wasn’t the pure innocent beauty of the boy, it wasn’t watching the gleaming black hair blowing messily across his forehead and those pink luscious lips pursed wetly as the idiot announced his presence to any predator in the area. He didn’t
want the bumbling teenager. He just wanted to eat him. Or so he kept telling himself.

Apparently, so did the fledge who ignored Spike’s presence and jumped out from an alleyway to grab the boy by the throat. Within moments, the young vampire was dust and Spike found himself gazing down into the dark incredulous eyes of Xander, from where he sat confused on the ground, covered in ashes.

He looked almost grateful, which galled Spike, because he hadn’t even realized what he was doing until it was done. Face flashing to demon, he snarled down at the boy and Xander’s face went white even as his eyes narrowed and he pushed to his feet unsteadily. Spike could smell the terror wafting off of the boy but, except for the paleness of his face, he couldn’t see it.

Annoyance turned to grudging respect, then back to annoyance, as Xander stared him down, snapping, “What? Can’t go get your own meals and have to steal from other vamps now?”

He scoffed, “Who bloody says I’d want to eat
you?”

They stared at each other a few more moments, before Xander looked down and sighed, edging warily away. “If you aren’t gonna kill me, then I’m gonna get home. School tomorrow, and all that, y’know? Not that you would care I have school, but I want you to know I’m not running away, or walking, just…class, can’t be staying up all night. So yeah, this is me, going home. Like…right now.”

Another two steps backwards, and Spike lunged forward to grab the kid’s arm. Liquid chocolate eyes widened and Spike moaned at the scent of fear and pheromones coming from him.

“Never said I wasn’t gonna kill ya.” He yanked the boy closer and Xander stumbled, falling against him, hands grabbing onto Spike’s shoulders. Ignoring the terrified whimper, his head darted down so that he could lick from the boy’s collarbone to his ear in one long swipe, the body clinging to his shuddering, the smell of desire coming from Xander spiking his own.

‘Bite him, bite him,’ his demon chanted, coming to the forefront so suddenly that his face changed without him willing it to. Leaning his head down again, he could almost feel the hot blood rushing into his mouth, but his body wasn’t listening to him. His hand fisted in the boy’s shaggy black hair, yanking his head back, and when Xander gasped in pain, his mouth came down over the boy’s, tongue delving inside to taste and stroke the soft, heated flesh.

They both moaned, arms tightening on each other, as Spike devoured the boy’s mouth, claiming, dominating, possessing it for his own with every stroke inside, every nip on the boy’s lips, every soft caress. When Xander’s soft tongue shyly ventured into his mouth, Spike growled and shook in need, and he nipped sharply at it. The taste of the boy’s blood was like nothing he had tasted before, sweet and hot, spicy with his lust, and Spike jerked back, stepping away from him.

“Go,” he panted out, eyes blazing gold, fangs itching to bury themselves in the tender skin of the teenager’s neck. Xander, confused, took a step towards him, and Spike snarled, shoving him away, wanting him to run home so he didn’t have to feel this dividing need, didn’t have to argue with himself over whether to kill the boy or not, take him or not.

His shove slipped, however, and instead of knocking the boy backwards, his hand sank into a warm chest, through skin and bone, wrapping around his heart. If the boy didn’t have his heart, he couldn’t stare at him with those gorgeous, sweet, innocent eyes, eyes that begged so much from him yet expected nothing.

With a yell, he yanked the offending organ out and it turned to dust in his hand. The last expressions on that beloved face were hurt and betrayal, and love, before Xander’s body disintegrated. Still love.


Dublin, Ireland

Spike awoke screaming, sitting straight up in bed. Eyes closed, fists clenched in the sheets, tears pouring down his face and screaming. It was the sound of Xander’s name, loud and echoing in his own voice, that brought him back to reality. His eyes opened slowly as he panted, throat raw, chest tight with held-in sobs.

Blue eyes bright with tears darted around the hotel room, reassuring himself that it had been just a dream. It was more than that, though. His memories of Xander were all he had left, and now his nightmares were fucking even those up.

Wasn’t the way it had ended, of course, but enough of it had been real to make him ache. Even now, ten years after the boy had died, he could remember every moment they had shared, every touch, every kiss, every harsh word or cry of ecstasy.

He had stalked Xander for weeks after he had let him and the witch go, cursing his own softness in doing so. That night that the fledge had almost killed his boy had been the first time he had kissed him, first time he admitted to himself that he had wanted the kid. Xander, for all his arousal, hadn’t been quite as ready to admit anything, though, and had punched him hard and stalked away, after Spike had raised his mouth from those warm sweet lips and told him to go.

That had been how it really ended, not Spike pulling out his boy’s heart, for Christ’s sake. And those warm brown eyes hadn’t held love for him at that time, not yet, but he had wanted to run from them when they first started showing it.

Now, he’d give anything to see those eyes again, shining with love for him or not, even hate would be preferable to not having Xander in this world.

Sighing deeply, Spike climbed out of bed and stretched, knowing he would get no more rest that day. Ten years and he was still haunted. Yeah, he loved hard when he loved. He still dreamed of Dru sometimes and wondered how she was doing, he still heard Angelus’ husky laugh at night, but Xander? Xander haunted him.

He would spend months ruthlessly suppressing any thought of him, any slightest memory. It would work until he saw a head of dark hair, smiling brown eyes or a flash of a crooked white grin and he would rush back to his hotel room and throw up violently, sobs wracking his body as he begged to be released from the pain.

After, he would spend days not moving, not eating, just sitting in the dark and going over every moment he had known his sweet, gorgeous boy in his head. From the first night he had seen him, dancing with the Slayer at the Bronze, all goofy smiles and bumbling steps, to that last, awful night, he went through them one by one, every word, every smile. Making sure that he remembered it all, never forgot a single, precious second.

There had been many a night, after one of those episodes, that he would sit on the roof and wonder how badly it would hurt to watch the sun rise, how quickly he would burn before he didn’t feel anything anymore. Something always stopped him, though.

Like it had that first horrid night, when he had finally escaped from his sire’s embrace hours later to rock and keen over the cold body of his claimed, holding a stake to his heart determinedly.

That empty gaping hole in his mind had glowed slightly, had warmed a little, and that had somehow been enough to keep him from doing anything drastic. Moments later his snarling sire had loomed over him and ripped away the stake, thus ending his first suicide attempt.

He didn’t have Angel to save him from himself anymore, he hadn’t seen any of the old group since that night, but some weird hope, some odd feeling that said it couldn’t be this bad forever, was enough to stop him at the last minute every time. And thinking of Angel, he realized that he seriously missed the poofy buggar.

He had left that night, ten long, aching years ago, without a word to anyone, with one last kiss on those cruelly cold, dry lips, lips that had always been hot and wet, wonderfully alive. There had been no way he could have gone back to their apartment, no way in hell he could have stood seeing Xander’s things still lying there waiting for him to come back.

He hadn’t been able to face the Scoobies either; his hatred had faded over the years, but he still blamed them. If it hadn’t been for them, his laughing, golden-skinned, brown-eyed boy would still be taunting and teasing him, loving him. So staying in Sunnydale had been out.

Could have stayed with Angel, but it was just too close, too raw, too many memories. So he had run, and had been running ever since, from city to city, country to country, continent to continent. At least when he didn’t see anyone who knew Xander, he could pretend his boy had left him or he had gotten tired of him and done the leaving himself, that Xander was still out there somewhere and there was always the possibility of a reunion. Of course, he never would have left Xander and he would sure as hell not have let him leave, but it was still a nice thought.

Eventually, though, he would break down and get reminded, or end up drunkenly telling the whole sorry story one night, and wake up with the desire to go somewhere new, somewhere that even the memory of remembering Xander wasn’t.

So onward he would go, until he couldn’t run anymore, until he had been everywhere and ended up in the one place that started things back at the beginning again. Not London, not Sunnydale, but Ireland. Ireland was the beginning to him, the place his sire had been born and raised. He realized now what needing to come here meant.

It was the first step in facing the past.

Suddenly, he couldn’t spend another minute in the misery he had been living in. It was time. No more running. It was time to face the past so he could either move forward, or end it once and for all.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he pulled open the phone book and called the airport. First stop London, then off to LA. He had some demons to face.

---

London had been the same, it pretty much always was every time he went. The only real memories there were good ones, aside from his human life, so it hadn’t been that hard to bear.

Now, though, on the plane to LA, he was having serious doubts about whether he could do it or not. Shaking hands opened the third little bottle of Jack Daniels in as many minutes, and he gulped it down quickly. He knew Angel would be pissed over the way he left, but that couldn’t be helped now. He just hoped the other man wouldn’t mind putting him up for a bit because he just wasn’t ready to make the trip to Sunnydale.

Not now, not yet.


***

Angel felt him the moment he arrived in town. At first, it was so unfamiliar, it took a moment to place what the feeling was, but then a broad smile briefly flickered over his lips. His boy was back.

A small part of him had been wondering if Spike was even still alive, but surely he would have felt it if he had passed. So it was with great relief, and more than a bit of anger, that he looked up to see a head of now honey-blonde hair and those burning blue eyes, wary eyes.

He was out of his chair and holding the startled younger vampire against the wall before he even realized that Angelus was angry enough to take control. Not that his demon was any angrier than he was. Snarling down into Spike’s face, he thumped the blonde’s hard head against the wall a few times, then hauled him into his arms and hugged him tightly.

“You damned idiot, I thought you were dead!”

A dark eyebrow raised and Spike opened his mouth, but Angel glared and he shut it. “Don’t even go there, boy, you know what I meant.”

“Worried bout me, Peaches? Touched,” he smirked. His eyes, though, his eyes were filled with a kind of confused relief. Did he really think Angel wouldn’t worry? Wouldn’t care?

Stupid childe.

In answer, he just hugged Spike against his chest again and breathed deeply, the scent of family soothing Angelus and reassuring himself that his childe was still around. Stupid, stupid boy.

Pulling back, he grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him harshly, opening his mouth to yell at him some more, when Spike’s eyes went over his shoulder and widened, mouth gaping. Frowning, Angel looked backwards and saw Buffy staring at them with tears in her eyes and he smiled softly at his mate, knowing how badly she had felt about Spike and Xander after seeing Spike break down over the boy.

Feeling Spike move under his hands, he loosened his grip and turned back to the blonde vampire, just in time to see Spike jerk away and head for the door.

“Spike?” he heard Buffy ask in a hushed voice and he could hear the suppressed tears in it. Spike stopped, his back to them, shoulders hunched and muscles quivering.

***

Not fair, not fair, not fair!

He had sensed her and for some odd moment, he had thought Angel was actually living with Dru, but even before he looked up into her eyes, he had known who it would be standing there, smelling of his sire and family. Buffy.

The unfairness of it almost brought him to his knees and it was all he could do to stand there and not scream in agony. Angel had gotten to turn his Slayer, a Slayer for fuck’s sake, and his boy was rotting in the ground. They had forever and all he had were memories and dust, not even the promise of seeing him again in the afterlife because there was no chance Xander was in Hell and there was even less of a chance that he was going to Heaven.

If it hadn’t been for the raw pain in her voice, he would have walked out the door and kept walking until the sun rose. At the feel of Angel’s hand on his shoulder, he stiffened even more, every muscle quivering with the need to escape.

“I’m so sorry, Spike, I hadn’t wanted you to find out like this. We just couldn’t find you.” He heard the apology and sympathy in his sire’s voice and sighed shakily, staring blankly at the carpet. A single tear full of bitterness, envy and broken dreams slid down his face and he raised a shaking hand to wipe it away quickly, before straightening his shoulders and turning to stare at his new ‘sister’.

She hadn’t been made long after he had left, a year or two maybe, and was still the beautiful girl he remembered. Her bottom lip quivered as she stared back at him and he hesitated a brief moment, flashes of bitter arguments and a choking hate going though his mind, before he opened his arms to her and let go of the past.

He had his arms full of soft woman and golden hair before he had even blinked and he bent his head to breathe in the traces of sun still left in her silken locks as she wrapped her arms fiercely around him, murmuring something. It took a moment before he got over the distraction of Buffy actually hugging him before he realized what she was sobbing into his shirt.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry, we didn’t know, all my fault, never should have met him, wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t met me, God, I’m so sorry…” she kept repeating it over and over as he stood stunned, feeling the same pain and anguish inside of him radiating from the small ex-Slayer in his arms.

Awkwardly patting her back, he looked with wide eyes at his sire, asking for some help. Angel just stood there with a sad smile on his face, so Spike had to wait for the storm to recede, just stroking her back. All of his past hate and anger towards her slipped away with every tear from her eyes, every choked apology.

Later, when they were all sitting on the large couch in front of the tv, Buffy on Angel’s lap and Spike curled up facing them, they talked. Mostly they asked about where he had been, what he had been up to. It was awkward and full of silent pauses when someone stumbled and brought up something painful, but it was nice to talk to people he had known for so long after years of strangers.

They didn’t say much about what had been going on around there or Sunnydale and he didn’t want to ask. Eventually, Buffy’s eyes started drooping and Angel told her softly to go on up to bed and he would get Spike situated for the day. With a last kiss pressed to Spike’s cheek, she smiled and told him goodnight.

Shaking his head at the sight of Buffy the vampire, he watched them kiss and whisper softly about something, eyes flickering to him and back. Slipping a pack of fags from his pocket, he shook one out and lit it as Angel reassured Buffy about something and gave her one last smile, saying he would be up in a minute.

There was silence for a few minutes after she disappeared upstairs, Angel staring at the floor, brow furrowed as if he was debating something in his head. Spike was about to roll his eyes and make some comment about brooding, when those dark eyes came up and looked into his.

He could tell his sire was about to say something deep and important and his mind raced to put it off, he didn’t want to deal with anything else that night. He was tired and emotionally drained, just wanted to sleep.

“So, think ya could put me up a few days, Peaches?” he asked, and the other man just nodded, opening his mouth and Spike sighed, knowing it hadn’t worked.

“Spike…” he started, then growled softly and ran his hands through his hair. Looking down, then back up at Spike again, he said, “You can stay as long as you like…but first, you need to go to Sunnydale. First thing tomorrow. Dawn and Willow deserve to know you’re alive and okay, and to hear it from you, see you.”

Blue eyes blinking, Spike just stared a minute, before smirking and shaking his head. “I’m not that hard up, wanker. I can find a place to stay on me own.” He stood up, his mind screaming at the very mention of Sunnydale, too soon, too soon, but a strong hand gripped his arm and held him in place before he could walk out.

“Please, Spike. I can’t imagine how badly it has to hurt to even think about going back there, but I really think it would help. I might be wrong and it might make it worse, but you have to face it. I wish I could do it for you or go with you, childe, but it’s something you have to do on your own.”

Heart aching, chest hurting, mind spinning with everything that had gone on that night, Spike clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, nodding slowly. He didn’t want to, but his sire was right, the bastard. It was time, and he had to face it.

---

The next night, after a surprisingly tight embrace from his sire and a sad-eyed goodbye from Buffy, he took one of Angel’s cars and headed towards Sunnydale.





Part Two

His fingers clenched frozenly on the steering wheel, Spike tried to not look around as he entered the city limits of Sunnydale. Not that it mattered, because from what he did see, nothing was the same. Oh, the Bronze was still there, and the high school, but the past ten years had changed the town.

It seemed... happier. The dark cloud that had hovered over the place had dissipated, leaving a sense of quiet and peace in its place. Spike couldn't even feel the Hellmouth.

It was as if it had never existed there.

He still saw the occasional demon, but no more than any other large town or small city. Something had obviously happened to close the mouth of Hell, something that had probably cost Buffy her life, but he had no idea what.

A sliver of guilt ran through him at the thought that with him there, things could have happened differently, but the Slayer had seemed happy with the way things had gone and was much the same as before, just a little more mature. Obviously, Red was still in the souling business.

Willow...

There went that guilt again. The red-headed witch had looked so broken, hollow, the last time he had seen her. Maybe if he had stuck around, they could have helped each other through the agony of Xa-.

He broke off the thought, staring determinedly out the windshield as he passed by their old apartment, not even glancing over. The closer he got to Giles', which is where Angel had told him that the witches lived now, the more his stomach knotted.

As he was nearing the park that was between their place and Giles', he noticed a small shape moving quickly down the old path, followed by a larger, more sinister-looking shadow. Sighing to himself, he pulled into the small parking lot at the edge of the baseball field and climbed out.

Guess with the Hellmouth gone, parents figured it would be a safer place to be and didn't shove it into the brats' heads to not run around after dark.

Loping silently across the field, he cut around behind the child, putting himself between the boy and the man following him. The scent of lust and sickness coming from the man made him curl his lip in disgust.

The scent of the boy, however... it was heady and sweet, intoxicating, and Spike had to shake himself before he just stood there frozen in the middle of the park, barely reining in his demon. Making noise so that the boy knew that there was someone behind him, he jogged up the path towards the kid.

"Hey, kid!" he called out, wracking his brain for a reason to approach the boy without seeming just as much a predator as the man following them. The boy walked faster, head down and hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans.

Reaching into the deep pockets of his bomber jacket, Spike pulled out a small Star-Trek figurine, something he always carried, never having had the chance to give it to Xander like he had planned. Striding up to walk in pace with the small boy, he held it out to him with knots in his stomach, nauseous at the thought of losing it.

"Hey, did ya drop this? I picked it up over there," he told him, waving his hand absently towards the way the boy had come.

Deep chocolate brown eyes flickered up to his as the boy shook his head and Spike felt the punch of them knocking him flat on his ass. Puppy eyes, liquid and consuming, dark eyes that drag you down inside until you don't know which way is up anymore, but really don't care.

Xander's eyes.

It was impossible, of course, and he held his breath, waiting for the overwhelming agony to wash over him, almost knocking him to his knees as it did so. The boy stopped when he hunched over, fists pressing against the hollow space under his ribs where the pain hit hardest.

"Mister? You alright?"

That voice, those eyes... that smell.

He whimpered silently, nodding, just wanting the kid to stop talking and back up, but a small hand came up to touch his shoulder and he glanced down into the boy’s worried face. Xander’s face.

Clenching his eyes closed, Spike backed up and tried to breath. Wasn’t him, wasn’t him. Never was. He couldn’t count how many times this had happened to him over the years…although they were usually a bit older. This was the first time a kid had made him feel the overwhelming déjà vu and vertigo of seeing his boy in someone else.

Taking a few calming breaths, Spike shook his head to clear it and straightened up, not looking over at the boy again. “Yeah, sorry bout that. Got a mite dizzy…Asthma y’know?” He coughed once for effect and saw the boy nod slowly, warily, at him from the corner of his eye.

He wondered if the boy was old enough to think he was on drugs or just figured he was insane, because he sure wasn’t buying it. Smart kid.

Without looking over at him again, the boy started walking towards the street, and Spike paused to glance behind them. The man that had been following the boy was nowhere in sight but Spike had his scent. He would find him later, he wanted to make sure the boy got home safely.

Before he could turn around and follow the boy, however, he heard a car door slam and a familiar, so familiar voice yelling out, “Alexander Rosenberg, you get your butt over here right this minute!”

---

The kitchen was bright and cheery, reminiscent of Joyce’s back in the happy times. It looked like a real family’s kitchen, unlike the clean and sterile place it had been when it had been just Giles living there.

His mind determinedly blocking out all thoughts of the small boy getting lectured by his mother…Red as a mother?…Spike continued to glance around the small kitchen and avoid the overly bright and anxious eyes of Tara and Giles and the curious gaze of Ethan Rayne. He had been mildly shocked, only mildly because he was already in so great a state of shock that if the world ended he wouldn’t have blinked, to see the warlock there when he entered the house.

Obviously, he had only recently worn Giles down, from the hesitant but loving glances between the two older men.

No one was offering up any explanations for why Willow’s son looked so much like Xander that he could be his twin and since he was afraid of the answer, he didn’t ask. They sat silent in the small room, as Willow continued to berate the boy for not coming home before dark. Eventually, she grounded him for a week and told him to start on his homework and she would bring him some dinner after she talked with ‘Uncle William’.

After he had heard Willow’s voice yelling for the boy, Alexander, Spike had slowly turned around, the world giving way underneath him. From the look on Willow’s face and the gasp she made when he took a couple of steps towards her, she was feeling the same.

Before he could even open his mouth to say anything, she was in his arms, and he was breathing in the old familiar scent of strawberries and incense. There were some tears, an admonishing smack on his chest as she shrieked out that everyone thought he was dead and some laughter, before they both remembered the dark-haired boy watching them with calm but confused eyes.

Willow had paled, before flushing darkly, swaying on her feet, and Spike had held her up gently. In a soft shaky voice, she had introduced the boy as her son and introduced him as “William”, which was a bit confusing since she had never used the name before. Before he could ask anything about the boy, who still made his stomach knot and the world careen whenever he looked at him, not to mention the name, she had rushed them all into the car and they drove in silence to Giles’.

With a sigh and an exasperated roll of her green eyes, she walked into the kitchen, Alex’s grumbling complaints over being grounded following her till she closed the door for privacy. As she made her way to the table to sit next to Tara and across from Spike, he studied her.

Motherhood had been good to Willow. A bit taller than she had been as a girl, much more filled out, her hair was lightly braided and quite a bit longer than it had been. Still the beautiful red it had always been, though.

Tara looked much the same as she always had, sweetly rounded and calmly serene. The older ex-watcher and warlock looked good for their years, too, trim and distinguished. Must be something in the city water.

The silence stretched out awkwardly as Willow opened her mouth several times, trying to figure out what to say. When Spike could take it no longer, he looked the witch in the eyes and said softly, achingly, “Just tell me it’s real, what ‘m thinkin’. Tell me Xa-Xander didn’t decide to knock you up so that you two could have a baby in your lesbian love nest and just forgot to tell me. Tell me it isn’t just a coincidence that he looks so much like him. It’s impossible, but fuck…tell me it’s him. I don’t care how or why, just please…”

Biting her trembling lips, the girl…no, woman now… nodded slowly, her eyes slowly filling with tears, a look in her eyes begging him, but for what he didn’t know.

Having his greatest hope, his most secret and unattainable desire confirmed made the world freeze in place. The room spun and everyone in it blurred, but every sound came across crystal clear, including the buzzing and humming in his ears. Panting for unneeded breaths, he closed his eyes and tried to fit his mind around the whole impossible, huge situation.

Xander was alive. In an odd sort of way, but alive nonetheless. Clenching his teeth to blink back the hot, scalding tears pricking his eyes, he glanced back up at Willow to find her watching him with a worried and guilty look on her face.

A small delicate hand reached for his and she said softly, “He doesn’t remember anything, Spike. Any of it. His parents, me, you.” A tear trickled down her face and he wiped it away gently, his heart breaking at the truth of her words, a truth he hadn’t considered but should have, since he had seen no recognition in those dark eyes earlier.

“You did what you could, luv,” he rasped out past his tight throat. “Or at least ‘m assuming it was a spell, yeah?”

She nodded, glancing down at the table guiltily, and he tipped her chin back up. “You did what you could, which was much more than any of the rest of us could. He’s alive, Red,” he whispered, awe and tenderness in his voice.

Another tear fell and she choked out, “But it’s not him, Spike. It’s Alex, my son. It isn’t Xander in that room. We keep trying to not jar his memory because we just don’t know how it will affect him. I don’t know if he will ever remember and I don’t know if I can even handle it now if it does happen. I want Xander back but… He’s my baby, Spike! I can’t lose him, either. A-and he’s too young right now to remember what he was to you.”

His eyes closed at the pain and guilt in her voice and a silent, hot tear slid down his cheek. “’M not gonna hurt him, make him remember… or take him away, Willow. He’ll always be your baby. But he’s mine, too, and I can’t just stop feelin’ that, damn it. But I’m not a pedophile, for fuck’s sake. He’s only nine years old.”

Nine. His boy was a baby, not even a decade old. With no memories of him, them.

It hit suddenly, the overwhelming grief of it all. Xander was alive but it wasn’t Xander. And he didn’t know him.

He tried to stand up, to get away, but the tears kept flowing and the sobs starting wracking his body. Not fuckin’ fair. None of it. There was a low murmur of concerned voices, and then there was only Tara, wrapping her gentle arms around him and easing them both to the floor. Soft soothing words were whispered in his ear as she let him cry it all out, the injustice of his world, everything he had been through the past ten years while his boy was alive and well, walking around, growing up. Unknowing.

After the sobs subsided, they sat quietly in the now silent and empty kitchen, drawing comfort from each other over the awful loss of the boy they had all loved. Eventually, Tara started talking, in hushed short phrases, telling him a little of what had went on ten years ago.

“Willow, s-she took his soul into her body from the place where it was waiting. She did it only hours after he died, any later and she would have pulled him from Heaven and she c-couldn’t do that to him. She told me that night, but we didn’t tell anyone else till it was confirmed. You were gone weeks by then, we tried to find you but you moved too often and we eventually gave up. Knew you’d make it back here eventually. I think she thought it would…be Xander, you know? She wasn’t expecting to be a mother, neither was I. But goddess, we love him. In a w-way that only a parent can understand. There’s still the love we have for Xander but it’s all mixed in with this other love and it’s so confusing some times.”

She touched Spike’s face gently, wiping away some of the tears. “He is very loved, Spike. Wants for nothing. Willow does a great job raising him because she remembers how his other parents treated him and tries so hard to make up for it. She’s s-scared, Spike. She is so scared she is going to lose him and she feels awful about not wanting him to remember, to go from her child back to her best friend. It wasn’t anything we were expecting. I think seeing you here made her r-realize how unfair it is to not want him back, to remember who he was.”

He nodded bleakly, heart dying just a little more. It was all just…impossible.

But impossible or not, he couldn’t leave. Couldn’t abandon the boy or the others, now that he had them all around him again. Couldn’t go be that lonely dead inside person he had been for over a decade.

So he moved back into his and Xander’s old apartment, aching at the memories and hiding away every memento around that would make it more difficult for him, anything that would trigger a memory on Alex when he was too young to deal with everything that had happened.

Dawn and Oz, and what a sickeningly adorable couple they made, came over often and Spike found a great comfort in the young man’s calm. Dawn mothered him relentlessly and he found he liked the strength that being a werewolf gave the almost-fragile girl he remembered. They, along with visits to Angel and Buffy’s, got him through some very rough times in the beginning, helping him to realize that Alex idolized him and he couldn’t rebuff the child because of the deep pain it caused him to be around the kid.

He got to know the boy, helping him with homework, playing video games with him, teaching him poker. Just talking. Getting to know Alex. Growing more and more fond of the boy who housed the soul of his claimed.

The boy was growing up into a more self contained, strong and confident boy than Xander had been at his age. Most of it was his upbringing, but every now and then, they would see the wisdom beyond his years in those dark eyes, and they could only wait with bated breath to see what would happen.

If Willow ached a little every time she saw a glimpse of Xander in his chocolate eyes, if Spike died a little every time the voice of his lover-turned-child called him ‘Uncle William’, they both hid it well.

And if Spike ever screamed and raged against the fates that had dropped him and shattered him into a million pieces only to put him back together and do it all over again, he did it in the dark confines of the house that used to be filled with laughter and love, but now was filled only with pain and loneliness. And a fierce longing for what had been.




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