Thrice Damned


by
Denied Heaven



Prologue

“How long?” Buffy asked again, pacing across the floor in Giles’ living room. He sat off in the corner, morosely nursing his second glass of scotch, lost in his own thoughts.

Tara looked up from the couch and glanced over at her girlfriend on the far side of the room.

“Maybe five more m-minutes?” she said softly.

Raking her fingers through her already disheveled hair, Buffy dropped onto the couch and sat gnawing her bottom lip. “God, this better work. I c-can’t-,” her voice broke as a tear slid down her cheek. Tara hugged her, awkwardly patting her back.

“It will. It has to.”

Less than four minutes later, a golden glow shimmered in Willow’s corner of the room and flickered three times.

Tara’s wide eyes met Willow’s tired ones and the redheaded witched nodded somberly.

It was done.


~*~*~*~*~


Across town, Angelus lay sleepily on his back, cradling his two Childer. They were sated and content from a long night of killing and fucking.

A head on each broad shoulder, arms wrapped around each other as his were wrapped around them, legs entwined, they made a beautiful picture. Turning his head slightly, he softly kissed the tumbled head of silken black hair before doing the same to messy white curls.

When they were sleeping, it was so easy to be tender.

He pretended not to notice two drowsy half-asleep smiles.

Black brows twitched and gold sparks flickered in his eyes as he felt the first itching crawling sensation in his chest. Arms tightening like vices around his Childer, he screamed in rage and anguish.

He knew that feeling.

As the itching turned to blinding burning pain as the poison of the soul tried to re-invade his body, he realized two other voices were screaming along with him; one screaming in fury because he knew what was happening, the other in confusion, both in agonizing pain.

Christ, please…please not his Childer, don’t punish them, too!


~*~*~*~*~


Three figures slowly, warily sat up.

Angel looked around with wide dark pain-filled eyes, cursing as memories of the past month flashed through his head. Guilt and despair filled him as he watched the other two.

Spike clawed madly at his forehead, leaving a trail of ripped flesh and dripping blood as he tried to rip William’s terrified voice out of his skull. As he looked pleadingly into Angel’s guilty eyes and a pair of mad dark eyes, he felt his chest tighten and his world drop to the floor, shattered completely.

Xander swayed as everything he had done slammed through him mercilessly.

His mind flickered as memories slammed into him, of what he was and what he had done. He shuddered, still needing, craving the two men with him. Shame and fear filled him and he stumbled naked from the bed, grabbing the discarded sheet and wrapping it around his trembling form.

Willow, have to find Willow, she can fix everything.

Two pairs of anguished eyes watched as he ran frantically from the old mansion.

Accusing, begging blue bore into sad, stricken brown and Angel dropped his eyes to the floor.

“Spike, I…,” he murmured helplessly, needing to get back home to fix things.

“Save it, Peaches. It’s a long drive back to LA,” Spike bit out, turning his back.

He held in his tears as he heard Angel dressing. When the door closed, he finally collapsed onto the bed. It still smelled of family and dashed dreams and he sobbed, broken and, once again, alone.





Part One

Oh fuck, oh God…this isn’t happening, why do these things happen to me?

His thoughts whirling madly, his chest burning and aching and his heart breaking with every step away from his family, Xander stumbled and braced himself against the rough brick of an alley wall. Tugging the midnight blue silk sheet tighter around his trembling body, he tried to clear his head.

A voice was screaming at him, so loudly it was all he could hear and it felt like steel spikes were being forced through his brain. His conscience? His soul, he realized.

Shit, now I’m gonna brood like Deadboy.

Deadboy.

OH GOD I FUCKED ANGEL! Or Angel fucked me. And Spike. Oh yes, still the demon magnet. He slid down the wall, laughing harshly and bitterly, tears of broken hilarity streaming down his face.

Why me?

With that plaintive thought echoing in his head, he pulled himself up and started walking faster to Giles’ house. He knew they all still had to be there, the night wasn’t over for Scoobies or the undead.

Or those that happen to be both now.

Xander had never been so happy that he didn’t run into anyone he knew on the way. Running around naked in a silk sheet wasn’t good for the image, not that he had a great one to start with.

And you would think death would minimize the need for silly things like social standing, wouldn’t you?

Of course, the past month hadn’t done much to raise that anyway. Eating your peers just didn’t make for a popular Xan-Man.

A broken laugh bubbled up from his throat at that thought and turned swiftly into a sob as he was haunted by flashes of the two teenagers he had killed. Only two because Angelus and Spike had wanted him strong, so fed him mostly on their blood. He had had to learn how to hunt, though.

At the moment, Xander wasn’t sure if he was grateful for that extra strength or not. Much stronger than a fledge had a right to be, his demon wouldn’t go down without a struggle and if Buffy came after him, he would put up one hell of a fight.

He wasn’t sure he wanted to live like this, though.

Stakeage could be the best thing.

He had seen them all since he had become a vampire, but hadn’t ever got close enough to talk to them or read their expressions. Even as a demon he had missed them, though. Angelus had said it was natural, but had kept him far away anytime they had run into them.

He hadn’t trusted the Slayer to not attack first and ask questions later and he hadn’t felt Xander could take her on his own. Not that Xander really wanted to.

Ignoring his demon’s roar of denial and the ‘coward’ it hissed at him, Xander walked hesitantly up to the door and knocked softly. If they were going to kill him, he wanted it to be tonight.

Before he had to see Spike or Angel again and see the disgust on their faces now that they all had souls.

It opened just as he was about to turn back around and leave and he stared into Buffy’s reddened and tired eyes. Eyes that had seen more for her age than any girl should ever have seen. Knowing that he had put that look in them this time made him want to crawl under a bed somewhere and hide until the ache went away.

Sslaayerrrr, his demon hissed, as it rose within him, getting ready to fight. He beat it back down before his eyes and face could change, knowing that that really wasn’t the best way to greet one of your friends who just so happens to now be your mortal enemy.

Xander reached out to her but was stopped by an invisible and solid wall. He wasn’t welcome inside, he was evil now. The ache tripled and almost brought him to his knees but Buffy reached out and placed her palms against his, separated only by the thin barrier.

They stared at each other for a long minute until Giles came to the door and gently but firmly pulled her back. The sight of the man he saw as his father pulling away Buffy to protect her from him made the already deep crack in his heart a little more deep.

Xander bit into his lip to quell the sob that tried to choke him as he turned to leave.

“Please, come in Xander,” Giles said roughly, softly, and Xander turned around with wide hopeful eyes. There was wariness on that worn and beloved face, but there was also guilt and pain, and a chance at acceptance.

Slowly, hesitantly, he stepped inside; the relief as he passed the barrier making him start to tremble again. At the soft pained gasp, a sound he knew so well, his head whipped around and he stared achingly at Willow. His Willow; best friend, confidant, sister.

Please still love me, please still want me here. I can’t do this without you Wills, I’m not strong enough. He begged her with his eyes to still accept him, to fix everything and make it all right again.

Her lower lip quivered and a tear slid down her pale cheek as she slowly opened her arms to him. In a move faster than they could all follow, he was on his knees in front of her and hugging her so hard that she gasped.

She didn’t pull back, though, just held him tighter and rocked him as his tears finally broke through, turning to harsh wracking sobs that shook them both. Hearing him so upset and devastated, and the relief of having him back, started her own sobs and soon they were a sopping mess.

The other three stood over them and watched, their own eyes glimmering with unshed tears, as they thought about what they had almost lost. Could still lose in so many ways, there were so many ways it could all still go wrong.


~*~*~*~*~


They had all talked non-stop the few hours left in the night and into the dawn, before the girls had to get back to campus. He had been caught up on their lives but they hadn’t mentioned the patrolling or supernatural parts of their nights and he knew it would take a while before he was that trusted again.

It hurt, but he did understand.

They had also told him that his parents had left town about a week ago, they had told Willow that with him gone they had no reason to stick around. She had looked at him sadly when she said they didn’t seem all that worried, but he had no illusions about his parents.

She had taken all of his things that they hadn’t sold and left them at Giles’, in the room he was in now. He almost couldn’t believe that Giles trusted him enough to let him stay.

They were both sitting on the edge of the bed, not talking, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable a silence. Xander was wrung out, emotionally, and tired. Giles didn’t look that much better.

Glancing over at the older man, Xander sighed softly.

“Thanks for lettin’ me stay, G-man.”

Giles looked down and smiled before looking over at him. “I never thought I would miss hearing that. You’re more than welcome, Xander.”

He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes before putting them back on. With guilt and pain clear on his face, he said softly, “I’m just so terribly sorry we couldn’t stop him. This shouldn’t have happened at all.”

Reaching over to grasp his shoulder softly, Xander shook his head.

“There wasn’t anything anyone could have done. No one even knew he had lost his soul again. Or was even in town again. I shouldn’t have went with him, I knew better.”

Sighing he fell backwards onto the bed. “It’s over now, though. I’ll just have to learn to live like this. Thanks for not, y’know…staking me.”

Giles smiled again and shook his head. “I don’t know if we could have. You’re like a brother to them,” he cleared his throat. “And like a son to me, I hope you know that, Xander.”

When Xander beamed up at him, he chuckled and stood.

“I’ll let you get some rest. There’s sun-proof curtains on the windows so don’t feel you need to hide under the bed or anything. We also ah… stocked up on some pig’s blood, it’s in the kitchen when you start getting hungry.”

Xander nodded, knowing how hard all of this must be on the Watcher. “Kay. Night Dad!”

He grinned as Giles stopped and blinked before smiling back at him.

“Good night, Xander.”

His grin fell as the door shut and he curled up on the mattress, rocking. He missed them. Spike and Angelus. He missed them more than he had ever missed anyone or anything.

They were gone, just as much as he was now changed.

He should hate them, and Angel he did hate a little. How dare he lose his soul and come running back here to kill him and destroy his life? How dare he let him kill two people?

How dare he…let him go?

Keening softly in the back of his throat, Xander pulled the blue sheet over his head and breathed in their scents. He was so tired and just wanted to sleep but he missed his Sire’s purring rumble and the room was just too quiet.

A quiet purr started out of his chest as his demon tried to soothe him and the keening quieted.

Finally, devastated by everything that had happened in the past month, the past night especially, he purred himself to sleep as the sun rose into the sky. His last thought before sleep took him was of his lost family.

Hopefully I'll see them in my dreams.





Part Two

“Are you sure? I mean, he seems fine to me.”

“Of course, I’m sure! I’ve known Xander since we were five; I know when he’s trying too hard to seem normal.”

The hushed voices drifted upstairs and came in crystal clear thanks to his new and improved hearing. Xander shook his head at the fact that even being around vampires so much, they either forgot that demons had enhanced hearing or either, and more likely, forgot that Xander himself was a vampire and could hear just about anything said in the house.

Grimacing, he sighed as he heard Willow’s indignant response. After a few days of being treated like he was made of glass and no one mentioning the words ‘vampire’, ‘dead’ or ‘demon’ in his presence, and especially not the word ‘Angel’, he had tried to act as if everything was perfectly normal. He tried to make everyone think he was the same old goofy clumsy Xander, just a Xander that couldn’t run errands in the daylight like he used to.

Obviously, it was fooling only Buffy and Dawn. Willow knew him too well and Giles just knew too much about vampires to believe that he was fine already. Xander had grown even closer to the older man since moving in, due to the fact he was the only one who treated him as if he were still Xander, just a vampire, too. The others seemed to only see the old Xander or, in Riley and Tara’s cases, a vampire.

Riley was starting to creep him out with all of his ‘let’s try to piss off Xander and see if we can make the demon react’ experiments when no one else was paying attention.

Tara just stayed a few feet back from him at all times and smelled of fear when he moved too fast. It made half of him sad but the demon inside savored the smell and Xander would sometimes catch himself moving too quickly on purpose just to get that reaction.

Buffy and Willow seemed to be trying to forget he was any different. That first morning, after he had come downstairs to the kitchen to heat up a mug of blood, both the girls had walked in and turned practically green at the sight of him drinking it, squealing in disgust.

He had apologized at the time and had never let them see him feed again, but he had also wanted to yell at them and ask exactly what they expected him to eat.

The bursts of anger over things he would normally shrug off were getting easier to control, although he did sarcastically comment more, which seemed to ease the red haze that built up inside. His demon must be a sarcastic one, go figure.

Stretching his arms above his head and taking a deep breath in and out, Xander slowly blinked open his eyes. He had to remember to breathe around the others, unlike Spike it didn’t come naturally to him anymore. Somehow, he just didn’t think the others were ready for non-breathing Xander; he could just imagine the conversation:

“Xander, you aren’t breathing!”

“Yeah well, I’m dead?”

Insert sobs and running from the room from the girls and a chiding glance from Giles.


His demon snickered at him, or was that just his normal sick sense of humor? Sometimes, he just couldn’t tell anymore.

A glance at the edges of the black curtained window showed no signs of light trying to get in and it verified what he could already sense. The sun had set.

Rolling over to sit on the edge of the bed, he reached for the snug faded jeans he had taken off that morning. Angelus hadn’t liked his former baggy and colorful clothes, and had insisted on providing him with a new and tighter wardrobe.

He wasn’t sure where the older vampire had gotten the clothes and he really didn’t care, soul or no soul. He had snuck into the old now-empty mansion days ago to get them. It was the last thing he had from his sire and even if he hated the clothes, he would wear them.

He was pretty used to the tight clothes now, though. Willow and Buffy had given him some strange looks but he was sick of trying to comply with their version of who he should be.

“Maybe we should go up and try to cheer him up, then? I can go buy some snacky foods and we can watch Star Trek all night!” Buffy’s voice sounded louder, like they were at the base of the stairs.

Xander’s eyes widened and he slipped the jeans on and buttoned them, before grabbing a t-shirt. Walking swiftly to the window, he pushed aside the curtain and opened it, slipping out before he even heard Willow’s reply.

He landed lightly on the ground and started walking into town.

The last thing he needed was a night eating tons of sugar and salt and trying to feign enthusiasm for something he had loved as a mortal and barely enjoyed now.

His demon grumbling at him for making him watch something without blood and gore and excitement got annoying after awhile and killed most of the enjoyment from his used-to-be favorite pastime. He liked action and horror thrillers now but he didn’t think the girls would appreciate his change or the reasons for it, so he never volunteered an opinion on the choice of film to watch.

Gods, I miss being able to be myself. The real one and not the dead and gone version. This pretending is getting damned exhausting and I’m beginning to feel I don’t even know who I am anymore.

Xander tensed as he heard footsteps running up behind him. He didn’t hear a heartbeat so whoever it was, was undead. Slipping his hand in his pocket to grasp his ever-handy stake, he whirled around and faced the demon.

It was a young vampire, possibly even younger than him, considering it was covered in dirt. Probably a minion since Spike was the only vampire around strong enough to make a childe and Xander didn’t think he’d ever made one.

The stake flew from his grasp as he flicked his wrist automatically and it imbedded deep in the demons heart, causing him to freeze and stare at Xander in disbelief. “I just…” it gasped, before crumbling to dust.

A sharp pain went through him and he could hear his demon snarling at him, hissing Traitoorrr. Xander stared in shock at the pile of dust, memories of waking up in his sire’s bed, wrapped in his strong arms flashing through his mind. A soft soothing kiss to his temple had been the first sensation he knew after he woke from the dead, a hushed crooning in Gaelic the first sound. He had been so lucky to have such a strong and caring sire, even if it had started out as a kind of violent and painful revenge.

This vampire might have had to dig itself up from the ground, but it was still a baby and he had killed it. Without letting it say a word, he had ended its life automatically, a vampire that could have been him not even a month ago if Angelus had buried him and left him to fend for himself.

He fell to his knees beside the ashes and gently brushed his fingers over them, letting the breeze catch them. A tear rolled down his pale cheek as he whispered, “I’m so sorry.” His stomach clenched and for a moment he thought he would be sick.

With a few deep breaths in and out, he recovered and stumbled to his feet, and wiping at his cheek and grimacing as he felt the remaining ashes smear across his face.

Well, I guess patrolling is out now. I wonder how the hell Angel does it. Kills them without seeing himself or ones he’s loved in their faces before they turn to dust?

Looked like he was going to have to hunt down demons he didn’t like for his quota of violence, since obviously humans and vampires were both out now. The demon inside grumbled a bit about the demon over human thing but he hushed it up with a reminder that he was letting the vamps off now, at least unless they tried to kill him first.

See, compromise. We can do this, I give a little and you give a little and we can work this whole good or evil thing out, without you or this soul screaming at me all the time.

He blinked.

I wonder if they have a good counseling program in town for people with multiple personality disorder cuz I just talked to two parts of myself like they were separate beings and that so isn’t of the saneness.

He could give his soul and demon separate names like Angel did, but he figured Spike would start calling him ‘poof’ and ‘peaches’ too, then. Xander snickered even as his heart clenched at all the reminders of his family he had running through his head. Even stuffy broody Angel made him ache with longing and he just plain missed Spike.

Spike.

Xander lifted his head and sniffed the breeze again and his brow furrowed lightly. It smelled like Spike but not. His mind flashed back to that last night they were all together and he could hear Spike’s screams entwined with Angel’s and his own, something he had forgotten in the rush to get to Willow and the gang.

Willow souled Spike along with me and Angel? What the hell was she thinking?

Then a slight sense of relief, maybe that’s why he hasn’t come looking for me.

Not that he had wanted to see either of the vampires those first few days. The shame of what he had been through had passed, though, and now he wanted to see how Spike was coping with things. It would be awhile, if ever, before he was able to face Angel but Spike should still be Spike, right?

Xander followed the smell to a large cemetery on the outskirts of the town, one Buffy didn’t always patrol. He didn’t see him anywhere but the smell got stronger around a large old crypt and he pushed down his uneasiness of walking into someone’s grave and eased the door open.

Blinking as his vision abruptly changed to allow him to see in the darkness of the crypt, he stared at the slight figure huddled against the stone wall across the room from him. His throat tightened as memories of being held against that body, being rocked and soothed after Angelus had gotten pissed at him for something and punished him, soft kisses and smiling blue eyes making him laugh helplessly as he was told stories in a rough English accent.

Other than Angel, this was the only other being that truly knew who Xander was now and while he should be upset with him for allowing him to have been killed and changed, he just missed him. Besides, he had been half dead before Spike had ever laid eyes on him last month. His newly ensouled mind shied away from those first horrid two days of being a mortal in Angelus’ cruel and merciless embrace.

“Spike?” he whispered softly, not wanting to startle the rocking figure any more than he had to. Dazed blue eyes flickered up and through him before closing again. Biting into his bottom lip, Xander moved closer and rested a gentle hand on the slighter man’s shoulder, feeling his demon purr contentedly at the contact.

A frown crossed Spike’s face and his eyes opened again, staring into Xander’s. “You’re real this time? It’s you now?”

Clenching his teeth at how lost and confused he sounded, Xander nodded and said gruffly, “Yeah Spike, it’s me. I’m here now.” He brushed his hand along a sharper-than-usual cheekbone gently.

Glaring blue eyes sparked at him as Spike’s head jerked back. “Hey, hey! No touching! You left, you don’t get to touch anymore.” He closed his eyes and mumbled as he started rocking again, “They all leave, no good to try to keep them, everyone leaves.”

“Spike, I…” Xander started, but Spike just shook his head violently and went on rocking. Feeling his heart break for the lost and hurting vampire, Xander dropped down to sit beside him against the cold rough wall, waiting until the blonde calmed down a bit before trying to talk to him again.

From the corner of his eye, he stared at the vampire, taking in the new changes a week had wrought. The white-blonde hair that was usually slicked back was wild and tangled, a mess of curls that usually Spike wouldn’t be caught dead in. Or undead. Whatever.

He obviously hadn’t been feeding; Xander could see rib bones under pale skin when the unbuttoned black shirt parted enough. His cheekbones had always been sharp and gorgeous but now they were almost gaunt and dark circles were under those beautiful blue eyes. Eyes that didn’t hold laughter and mockery anymore, but deep hurt and loss, confusion and anguish.

He felt part of what the blonde was feeling. He missed Angelus, too. His blood ached for him every second. Xander wanted to kick himself, though, for not thinking that getting ensouled and losing his sire again would affect Spike even worse than it had him.

“Spike…” he started again, unable to go on with the tense silence anymore. The older vampire hushed him, staring ahead with unseeing eyes. “Shh, can’t you hear them? Everybody’s in here, talking.”

Trembling white hands reached up to hold his head and Spike moaned. “Everything I did, everyone I.. and him, and you, you’re here too. Everybody. And they all just tell me go. Go… to hell.”

Xander stared at him horrified. The two, now three, that he had killed haunted him all the time and he couldn’t, didn’t want to, imagine how hundreds, maybe thousands, would sound in his head. It made him tremble in anger that Willow would do such a thing, knowing that even now she would insist that he had deserved it.

Spike continued, not paying him any attention. “So many… I get it, the jokes on me. Bring the wife and kiddies and come see the show…” he looked up at the ceiling and yelled out, “What the hell are you screaming about? I can hear you. No need to shout!”

He suddenly jumped up and started pacing, mumbling again, and Xander watched helplessly. The black shirt parted as he walked and Xander stared at the bloody deep gauges over the vampire’s heart. Feeling even weaker, he stood and grabbed the blonde’s arm lightly, not letting go when he tugged and glared at him.

When he noticed what Xander was staring at he tried to hold his shirt closed, but Xander parted the fabric and reached out a hand to the still bleeding wounds. Softly he asked, “What did you do?”

Agitated, Spike tried to step back again but Xander held firm and in his weakened condition he couldn’t pull away.

“I tried… I tried to cut it out. Makes everything hurt more, it does. Voices screaming, wanting me dead, dead, dead, dust. Wanting my blood and strips of my flesh. Makes me ache, the spark does, and I don’t want it.” He looked around, panicked, and started to shake his head, trembling and tugging hard to get away from Xander.

“Not ready, not hardly. Stop! Please, Mum! Begging now, make it stop! Oh, God…” Spike yelled as he sank to his knees, the trembling becoming violent shaking. He pressed his hands to his ears and screamed in agony.

Xander dropped to his own knees and tugged the resisting body into his arms, rocking him.

“It’s gonna be okay, I promise. So sorry, Spike, sorry, sorry,” he murmured as he pressed soft kisses to the dirty and tousled curls. Tears started streaming down his face as he listened to the muffled screams and pleas, until Spike finally stopped resisting and melted against him, causing Xander to drop to his bottom on the cold dirty floor.

Feeling the fragile bones underneath his hands, Xander raised his wrist to his mouth and dropped his fangs, slicing it open. The smell of the blood caused Spike to tense up and start to struggle again but he pressed the bleeding wound to his mouth insistently. His blood wasn’t powerful like Spike’s or Angelus’ but it was better than nothing.

It took a few moments before Spike gave in and the gentle sucking at his wrist made Xander close his eyes and smile softly in remembrance. It was a good feeling, an erotic and safe feeling, of being loved and cared for, needed. After a few mouthfuls, Spike pulled weakly away, licking the gash closed.

Xander tugged Spike against him and the shivering blonde buried his face in his black t-shirt, his boney shoulders shaking as broken sobs wracked his slight body. “Just want to rest, so tired…tired. Please let me rest.”

Xander breathed around the sob caught in his throat and tightened his arms around the older vampire. “Sleep, I’ll be here, I’ll always be here. I won’t leave you alone again, Spike, I swear it.” He started purring roughly, trying the trick that Angelus had used often to get him to sleep after his nightmares.

Spike’s body turned boneless and he hiccupped once, his breathing hitching in his throat, and then he was gone, his eyes closed and soft, even breaths making his sunken chest rise and fall. Xander petted the soft hair in his lap and sang tunelessly, softly, hoping to drive away the evil spirits in the small dark place that were haunting Spike so badly.

He didn’t know how he was going to explain this to Giles, but he knew he had to keep his promise. He couldn’t leave Spike alone again, at least until he was his normal cocky self who pretended he didn’t need anyone around.

It was the least he could do for him, in return for the many times he had soothed and babied him when he had been first turned and scared. Xander stroked his fingertips across the pale, innocent looking face and clenched his teeth.

It didn’t matter if he had to move in here, he wasn’t letting him down again.

Spike needed him more than his friends did and if they wouldn’t understand that, then so be it. He tried to ignore the voice that asked what would happen when he wasn’t needed anymore and he had driven away all of his friends who still cared about him.

It didn’t matter. Nothing did right now but the still-trembling body sleeping in his arms.

A/N: Some of Spike’s lines came from the transcript for ‘Lessons’ and ‘Beneath You’ from http://www.buffy-vs-angel.com/guide.shtml





Part Three

Strong arms held him close and he awoke feeling protected for the first time in over a week, though it felt like he hadn’t been safe for centuries. The screaming, thrumming in his head had died down to a low whine for now, although William, as he called the soul cuz he sure wasn’t William anymore, was still mumbling softly about something.

It was oddly amusing, and vaguely ironic, that he had mocked Angel for so long, saying that he was Angelus and the whole ‘I’m a different person with the soul’ was just crap. Because he did feel like a different person, or at least that there was something inside trying to make him different. His demon was subdued and only now and then did it try to rise up against whatever was making him feel soft and scared.

And guilty. He could admit it, but he wasn’t gonna brood over it.

Much.

A faint stirring in the body that those arms held him tightly against brought him abruptly back to the present. He barely remembered anything from the past week, just feelings of abandonment, loss, pain and then the terrible aching guilt as every wrong he had ever committed was played out again and again in high definition color and surround sound.

He understood now, what Angel had to have been going through over a century ago, and the burden of that hate eased, leaving him breathless and oddly empty.

The ponce could have stayed to help him, though. He had to know what he was going through, what both his childer were going through.

Which reminded him.

The boy, Xander…he had come last night and had held him, all through the day apparently. He would have been less surprised to wake up a pile of dust than to wake up held protectively in his arms. The things he had watched Angelus do to the boy, the things he himself had done… He almost whimpered aloud as flashes of desperate brown eyes, tears and blood, pleas and screams echoed in his mind.

The boy’s last few days as a human hadn’t been the best. But he had made one hell of a great vampire.

He had wanted the boy, this new brother of his. He had wanted him badly, but Angelus had always been possessive over his new toys. The most he had been allowed to do was to kiss those plump pink lips, taste the sweetness of him.

And hold him tight in the mornings, the larger but weaker body cuddled up into him until Angelus came in and inserted himself between them to sleep with a childe on either side.

“Spike?” a soft questioning voice asked gently, as if expecting him to jump or scream. Which, he supposed, wasn’t an outlandish thought since he had been practically insane for the past week.

And when had he started thinking using words like ‘outlandish’? Stupid William.

He turned around and the boy’s arms loosened enough so that they could lie facing each other. “You stayed,” he said wonderingly, staring into brown eyes that seemed a lot older than they had last month. He supposed his also showed the strain of the soul, though.

Xander shrugged, a corner of his mouth quirking up in a slight, sad smile. “I told you I would, Spike. I’m not gonna leave you alone to deal with this and I’m just sorry it took me so long to realize you had to be feeling it, too.”

A strange tickling sensation whirled around in Spike’s belly at the sound of the concern and slight guilt in the boy’s voice and he stiffened his spine against it. The last thing he needed to do was to cling to another dark haired, dark eyed vampire. The last two had nearly destroyed him.

“Don’t need a bloody nursemaid, whelp,” he growled out, sitting up stiffly to brace his back against the cold cement of the crypt wall. Xander sighed under his breath and moved to sit up beside him, a foot or so separating them.

“I know that, Spike. Hell, I don’t think I would be qualified for it anyway, since I’m in the same mess.” His voice was quiet and calm but Spike could just hear the bloody placating tone underneath it. Boy was right, tho. He wouldn’t trust himself alone right now, either.

They sat in silence awhile, neither one feeling the need to make conversation. It should have been more uncomfortable, given what they had been through with each other just weeks ago, but it wasn’t really. It was actually probably more comfortable just because of what they had shared, survived, together.

Dru had been gone for months with her new slime demon lover and he had spent his evenings playing hide-and-seek with a bunch of camouflage dressed soldier wanabe’s when Angel had knocked on the door to the ratty old apartment he had been holed up in. Or at least he had assumed it to be Angel. One of the slayer’s pets over his shoulder smelling like blood, pain and terror had relieved him of that erroneous conclusion.

A brief, hard, whiskey-flavoured kiss and a wicked smile had reassured him that this wasn’t the insane Angelus of those months before and was a more stable version of his Sire from last century. After a quick reunion of cool blood and furious sex, during which the glazed dull eyes of the human had watched expressionlessly, he had followed his returned sire to the old mansion.

When he had finally asked about the half-dead boy over the older vampire’s shoulder, Angelus had slapped him hard on the back and grinned down at him, white teeth flashing in the dark of the street, saying, “Meet yer soon-to-be little brother, m’boy.”

“Why don’t you hate me?” Spike asked abruptly, not turning to face the boy but sensing that he had turned to look at him.

Xander hummed and answered slowly, “Not sure. I mean, I know you’re family and all but it’s not just that. There really wasn’t anything you could have done even if you had wanted to, and hey, I’m much preferring the undead life to the no life at all.”

“Are you?” This time he did turn to look at the younger man. Honest and thoughtful brown eyes met his and Xander nodded.

“Yeah, funny huh? Before, I would have sworn on anything and everything that I would rather die than become the evil undead. But hey, not so evil, anymore, so I can live with it. Or whatever.”

A brief pained look appeared in the dark eyes and Spike sighed inwardly, knowing that look. The boy was remembering the lives he had taken, the joy he had felt in their deaths, their blood and pain. He and Angelus had both been so proud of the vampire Xander had become but now he was even more grateful that Angelus had wanted the boy mainly fed on their powerful blood.

Without him giving his hand permission, it reached over and rubbed soothingly over the younger vampire’s knee, trying to ease some of the pain away. A small smile crossed the sad face and he felt his stomach flutter again. Fuck no. ‘M not doin’ this again.

He stood quickly and started pacing, his soul and demon warring inside his mind. A sudden image of a tiny white haired devil and an angel bickering like on the cartoons almost made him smile, maybe he really was going crazy, but his thoughts were too frantic to allow it.

His demon wanted him to take the boy, his sire was gone and they had both been abandoned so he had every right to take over, since he was the eldest childe.

The damned soul inside of him told him he wasn’t good enough for the younger vampire, that he had played a part in his death and corruption and he didn’t deserve to have any kind of happiness with the dark haired boy.

The part of him that made him compassionate towards the boy, made him want to protect him, had always been there…a left over piece of William… and it just knew it wanted Xander. It always had.

But that same part wanted to protect himself, too, and he just knew he couldn’t survive another blow like the ones Angelus and Dru kept giving him. This boy could destroy him if he let him, with his sweet puppy eyes and caring looks, the thoughtfulness even in the midst of death and violence.

If he had even half of the love that the boy had drenched Angelus in aimed at him and had it yanked away like everything else in his fuckin’ life, he knew he would break totally, go down drowning and never find a way back. He had never been loved like that, needed like that, and it hurt to even consider the idea.

But Christ, he wanted it.

Even soulless and more evil than not, he had wanted it. Only his grudging respect and fear of his sire had kept him from trying to take the boy away for himself. And love. You didn’t want to leave the bloody bastard, admit it.

Spike ignored the voice in his head and whirled around to face the younger vampire, who was studying him through half closed eyes.

“Right. So, as you can see, I’m fine. Why don’t you run along home before your parents think you’ve gone missin’ again, yeah?,” he snapped out. Though if anyone could live with his parents as a vampire and be gone half the time without them noticing, it would be Xander.

He was interrupted from those thoughts by a short, bitter laugh. Glancing back over, he saw that the dark eyes were shut and Xander’s head was leaned back against the wall.

“They left weeks ago, guess they figured after two weeks that I wasn’t coming back and they didn’t need to stick around. I’m actually surprised they noticed I was gone.”

Spike gaped at him. He knew the kid’s parents were shit, but to leave town when your son was missing? “They just left?”

Eyes still closed, Xander nodded. “Sold almost everything I owned and left.” Spike winced. Harsh and cold.

He wished he could get his hands on the bloody humans but figured the soul would keep Xander from wanting them dead.

“No loss on the clothes, bloody things could scare a bloke blind. Those new ones you got were the best idea Angelus came up with in a while.”

As he had hoped, that carefully expressionless face eased and one eye opened to glare at him.

“So where are you livin’ now, then?” he asked, telling himself it wasn’t concern in his voice, it was pure curiosity. Both his soul and demon scoffed at that and he could practically feel them rolling their eyes.

Did they have eyes? It felt like they did, along with all of the other voices haunting him. Surely they had eyes, too? Why a voice with no eyes?

He blinked and the boy distracted him from his confusion as he answered, “With Giles. He’s been great about it all.” Spike grimaced and opened his mouth to retort but shut it when both brown eyes opened to glare warningly at him.

“Yeah, Giles, right,” he cleared his throat and tried to come to terms that a Watcher was housing a vampire, willingly, and with no desire to stake.

Then he frowned and bit at his lip as he considered that it might just be a ruse to make Xander comfortable so they could put him out of his misery with little or no fuss. He would have to keep an eye on the situation, no way was he letting any dusting happen on his watch. Not to his already small and torn family.

Bleedin’ stuffy Watchers. Can’t trust em.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander stared warily at the fidgeting blonde from underneath his lashes. He could practically hear the thoughts turning inside his head and tried not to smile at how stable he was trying to appear to be.

Without even thinking about it, he knew the worst thing he could do right then was let Spike know that he could see how weak and unbalanced he was. The older vampire was barely holding it all together.

Part of him yearned for Angelus, the older vampire was the strong one, the one that nothing upset, nothing shocked. He would know how to help Spike. But Angel couldn’t even help himself and Angel was all he had left of Angelus.

So even though he was the youngest, it was up to him now to hold them together. Well, him and Spike, he was still a bit ticked off that Angel could just run back to LA without a word. Seeing how shaken and disturbed Spike was, though, made him wonder briefly how Angel was holding up.

Not your concern, he left, didn’t want to be bothered with it all. Not like you really want to face him right now, anyway, do you?

He had to agree with the little voice in his head. Memories flashed of opening the front door to a frantic Angel at thanksgiving. The vampire asking to come in, that he had just heard about Riley and Buffy and wanted to ask Xander some questions about the soldier. And stupid Xander had smirked and let him in without a second thought, wanting to poke and jab at the tender spot he was sure the vampire had, knowing that the girl he loved was with another man.

And wasn't that just the stupidest thing he had ever done?

A strong fist had knocked him out and when he had woken up, he was in the mansion, tied down to the bed, stripped naked. Mocking laughter and soft crooning, taunts and secrets. Angelus had been a strange mix of tenderness and merciless viciousness.

Whispering that he had always wanted him, even as Angel. That he knew Xander had wanted him, could smell it on him every time he saw him. And, oh boy, wasn’t that just embarrassing? Why hadn’t Giles told them that vampires could smell lust?

It was an important fact, damn it!

Memories of pain, endless pain, as he tried to deny the soulless vampire, sure that Buffy was on her way to get him, to help him. Then Angelus cracking his last slender line of hope by casually saying that he had left them a note saying that Xander had gone with his parents to a friend’s house in the next city for Thanksgiving and wouldn’t be back until school.

He had lain, scared and hopeless, as he finally gave in and lay submissive to Angelus’ dark desires. Just a few more hours, just a little longer, anything to live, he didn’t want to die. The pain had been agonizing, the pleasure even worse. Even now he would flush hotly if he could at the memories of being made to beg, plead, on and on…beg his rapist to fuck him.

He hadn’t known there could be pleasure like that, pain like that. Everything had run together as endless hours of blood and sex, knives and cruel smiles, tender touches and harsh slaps had made him dizzy and weak.

The dark vampire had broken him, made him feel until he just couldn’t feel anymore. That gorgeous face and massive body had turned him inside out, to where he found he hated himself twice as much as the vampire, for giving in, for letting this happen.

Gods, how he had wanted him, how he had hated him for wanting Buffy.

And then when he had him, all he wanted was Buffy to rescue him, hide him from the darkness inside of himself that wanted the pain. Wanted the domination and the tender smiles, the fierce looks that made him quiver in helpless anticipation for the agony or the ecstasy.

By the time they had gone to get Spike, Xander had been half dead, no human could withstand Angelus for long, the human body wasn’t meant to survive the things he had gone through. Seeing Angelus embrace Spike, rip his clothes off and fuck him roughly on the floor, had filled him with both hope and despair.

It would be over soon, he would be dead any minute because who would want him when they had Spike? The blonde was everything he had ever wanted to be, well, minus the evil. The despair came from the knowledge that he didn’t want to die, he didn’t want Angelus to want Spike.

He hadn’t needed to worry, though, because as it turned out, him dying was just the beginning. It wasn’t anywhere near over.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, he stared up at the blonde vampire, seeing a concerned expression on his face. He smiled weakly up at him and stood up.

“So…you gona come to Giles’ with me to see if I can talk him into letting you stay, too, or am I going to move in here?” He had thought the question to be pretty straight forward, but the confused expression on Spike’s face made him wonder.

“Neither? I’m not letting them see me this way, not letting them make me beg to stay in his damned house. And you are not staying here.” Xander’s face fell a little and he guessed his thoughts were obvious because the blonde sighed and moved closer, catching his chin to raise up his face.

“It’s not that I don’t want you here, Xander, it's because you’ve got a good thing goin’ with the Watcher and your friends, and you’d be upset here because they would be upset at you for living here.”

He raised an eyebrow at that reasoning and almost laughed at the perplexed expression on Spike’s face. “Bloody hell, you’ve got me talkin’ like you now.”

Xander smiled and nodded, “It’s okay Spike, I understand. But do you think I could hang around sometimes, no one else understands any of this.” He was careful to not mention that he was concerned about the older vampire, too, and wanted to be able to make sure he was okay.

Spike smiled at him, a real smile, not his trademark smirk.

“I’d like that, pet. Can come by every night, if you want.”




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