Ignorance is Bliss


by
Nash



Part Nine

Spike watched Xander sleep, troubled by the distressed expression on his face. In sleep he was supposed to be calm, relaxed…restful. Not anxious and upset. Spike mentally kicked himself; he had made a big mistake, allowing Xander to seduce him like that. Spike should have held back, been strong enough to refuse him somehow. What they’d done would only make things worse.

With a tired sigh, Spike got out of bed. He needed space to think, to figure out how to behave around Xander now that this had happened. Maybe Angel had been right and he should have stayed in L.A. The thought reminded him of Wesley’s message and he picked up his cell phone. If nothing else, talking to his friends would make him feel better.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander woke up gradually, a sense of contentment covering his whole body like a warm cloud. He stretched, sighing happily as he felt the familiar aches of an energetic night.

“Spike?” he murmured, reaching towards Spike’s side of the bed. No body in reach. He opened his eyes just a sliver to look around the room, pouting at his lover’s absence. “Spike?” he said, a little bit louder.

“Where did he go,” he muttered to himself as he got out of bed. “Spike, come out, come out, wherever you are,” he called again in a sing-song voice. He wandered through the living room to the kitchen, but Spike was nowhere to be seen. Sighing, Xander went to turn the coffee machine on. There he found a little yellow post-it note bearing Spike’s handwriting.


Had to go to LA.
AI needed help with a H’kleah demon.
I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Love,

Spike


And just like that, all the sleepy happiness he’d felt upon waking transformed into blinding hot anger. The note crumbled into his hand, gripped tightly by bloodless fingers. Xander drew in deep, calming breaths, consciously relaxing his muscles, releasing his fists.

“It’s just my nerves,” he told himself, “just the accident messing with my nervous system. I just need to calm down a bit…calm Xander…” He breathed in deeply again in an effort to control his temper. “And now I’m talking to myself,” he added sarcastically, whirling around and stalking back to the bedroom to get dressed.

One full hour of pacing later, he was still not calm. The anger at Spike’s absence had morphed into restless worry.

Finally, unable to stand the choking feeling anymore, he grabbed his keys and headed out. Nerves be damned, he needed some fresh air.


~*~*~*~*~


Willow was concentrating on getting a little ball of sunshine to grow between her hands when it happened.

Red!  Xander won't answer the phone!

"Holy..." the ball burst and when Willow managed to blink the sun out of her eyes she saw a black scorch mark on the table.

"Buffy's going to kill me."

Willow!

Ever since she'd done the telepathy spell, whenever one of their group was especially agitated, the telepathy would kick in. It never ceased to surprise Willow and so far she'd broken a crystal amulet, a few mugs and her favourite bracelet. Still looking mournfully at the scorched table, she picked up the phone and dialled Spike's cellphone.

"What do you mean 'he won't answer the phone', aren't you there with him?"

There was a suspicious silence on the other side of the line.

"Spike? Where are you?"

"In LA."

It was Willow's turn to stay silent.

"It's not what you think!"

"What is it then?"

"There was a demon and they needed my help. I wouldn't just leave him like that."

Once again Willow remained silent.

"I wouldn't. I never did, he bloody well kicked me out! Look, I'm on my way back but can you please check on him?"

"He could just be asleep," Willow offered, unsettled by the increasingly desperate tone in Spike's voice. "I'll go see, okay?"

"Okay...okay, I'll be there in an hour."

Before she could protest that he needed at least two hours to get here Spike had hung up.

"Right...checking on Xander. Maybe if something bad happened Buffy will be distracted from the ruined table," she mused, then immediately felt guilty. Buffy could yell at her all she wanted so long as Xander was all right.

“Buffy will not be distracted,” the person in question yelped from behind her. “Willow, you ruined my table!”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander sat on the swing, pushing himself in a gentle to and fro, as he watched the children play. The parents kept casting suspicious looks at him but he didn't really care. This was the most open place in Sunnydale, no buildings or trees to close him in, just grass and toys and children playing.

He tried to submerge himself in the joy the children felt as they screamed and laughed around him but he couldn't calm down. Every happy shriek was like nails dragging against a blackboard, every small giggle was like a hammer pounding on his head. Flashes of memories and dreams kept surfacing, keeping him off balance and tense.

He doesn't need you, he needs family, like Drusilla, like me. You'll lose him in the end.

Maybe he should have stayed home.

Don't worry, sweet, I'll be back before you know it. It's just a pesky demon Angel needs me to deal with, yeah?

But he'd been so angry to find Spike gone.

Can't you see, Mr Harris? He's so much happier here with us than he will ever be with you.

"No, that's not true."

You hurt him Xander, you broke his heart and stomped on it and I will never forgive you for it.

"It's not true!" he yelled.

The sudden silence brought him out of his thoughts, as the children stopped playing and turned to stare. Then an onslaught of noise as parents rushed to their kids, intent on protecting them from the crazy guy screaming in the swings.

Chest heaving as he tried to breathe, Xander left the playground at a run. He needed to go home. Somewhere where he could feel safe.


~*~*~*~*~


Buffy stalked into the flat, immediately yelling out Xander’s name. Unlike Willow she was not so complacent about Xander’s seeming absence from the apartment. She was also damn pissed at Spike for daring to leave Xander again. None of Willow’s attempts to placate her worked. Spike shouldn’t have left and that was that.

She swept through the apartment once, then a second time, as if Xander would somehow materialise out of nothing. There was no sign of him. By the time Spike came back she was frantic.

“I can’t find him anywhere.”

Spike stared at her for a moment, then dumped the bag next to the door and ran for the bedroom.

“I looked,” she said but he showed no sign of hearing her. “Spike, I looked!”

“Well then, where the hell is he?!?”


~*~*~*~*~


Xander practically ran all the way home. He felt tired and tense and scared that he was going crazy. The doctor had warned him that his mind would keep on trying to remind him of the things he’d forgotten but nobody ever said he’d be hearing voices!

He got the door open, stepped inside and stopped. There was a bag next to the door. He barely noticed the two other people in the room, he just stared at the bag. There was something he should remember about it, something important. He chased the memory, reaching out to grab it every so often but it eluded him.

“Xander!”

A hand on his shoulder finally caught his attention. He looked at Spike.

“Hey, you’re back,” he said with a weak smile.

“I called you and you wouldn’t answer the phone,” was his reply.

“Oh…I went for a walk,” Xander explained. He felt oddly detached, aware of the fact that Spike’s return was good but not quite feeling the happiness. He couldn’t shake the fatigue nor the feeling that he was missing something important.

“I should go then, since you’re okay and all,” someone said from his left.

“Buffy?” he asked, confusion clear in his voice.

“Or maybe not so okay. Xander, how are you feeling?”

Once again, Xander recognised the worry in her voice but he couldn’t work up an emotional response.

“Tired,” he answered truthfully.

“Okay…okay, we’ll get you into bed and I’ll go and let you rest a bit.”

“You’d best stay, Buffy. I have to go back and he’s just proven that we can’t trust him to stay alone.”

“You’re going again? But you just got back!”

Buffy looked pissed, Xander noted . The words…they were familiar.

“Because he disappeared! There’s still a demon my friends need help with.”

Spike was acting defensive. And what was the little stress on the word ‘friends’ about? Weren’t they his friends too? Xander frowned, unease tickling up his spine.

“Xander needs you too,” Buffy snapped.

Xander hasn’t needed me in over a year, Slayer.”

Make up your mind right now Spike, me or him. If you walk out that door, don’t bother coming back!

It took him a moment to realise that the words hadn’t been spoken out loud. The argument was picking up speed, soon they would be yelling about the First and who really killed it. Spike and Buffy always argued with a passion and they hadn’t had a good argument in over a year because….

Because Spike had left the little voice dutifully informed him.





Part Ten

He watched Buffy and Spike yell at each other and sure enough, they'd gone all the way back to the First. Spike had left. Xander couldn't remember every little thing but that one fact was coming through loud and clear. Spike had left.
“Buffy, leave,” he said, his voice coming out calm and quiet.

The argument immediately stopped as they both turned to look at him.

“What? No! Xander you’re not well and Spike’s leaving and-"

Spike has already left, Xander thought and repeated his order, more forcefully this time.

“Buffy…leave.”

She stared at him a moment, seeming to vacillate between standing her ground and following his wishes. In the end she nodded, a small sharp movement, and hugged him tight before she left.


~*~*~*~*~


In the silence that followed Buffy's departure, Spike found himself caught in Xander's steady gaze. There was only one conclusion to draw from the little scene that had just played out. He knew. Xander knew and Spike was about to get the bollocking of a lifetime. He'd anticipated this moment ever since he returned to Sunnydale, but still when the words came they were entirely a surprise.

"Why did you come back?"

"I..." he started but a moment of hesitation was enough for Xander to intervene.

"You were very clear when you walked out the door the first time." Xander's tone was sharp enough to cut a soul into ribbons. "You preferred Angel over me."

"Angel and I were never more than family," Spike said, afraid that the memory loss had confused things even more. Xander had freaked out last time he’d seen Angel. Maybe his mind wasn't completely back to normal, maybe he thought that Spike had left him for Angel. "I was never anything but faithful."

"My little hallucinations were very convincing but I still remember what happened, Spike. Sure, there was no kissing in the Hyperion, no saying you were happier with him than me. That should make things better, I suppose, but you know what? It doesn't."

The bitterness in Xander's voice surprised him. He couldn't understand it, couldn't understand why Xander was reacting so badly to Angel.

"I gave you an ultimatum, Spike," Xander went on, "me or him. You picked him. I took my chances and I lost."

Spike shook his head.

"There was a demon, he needed me," he explained for what felt like the millionth time. This had been the mantra that had gotten him through the last year relatively sane. When a suitcase full of his clothes was delivered to the hotel just as he was about to return to Sunnydale he'd felt like someone had plunged a knife into his chest, all the way to the hilt.

"So did I!" Xander screamed, literally screamed at him. Spike stepped back, shocked by the sudden outburst. "He needed you every fucking week. Every other day. I never knew when I was coming back to an empty apartment. Every time he called, he had you. All I had was a note on the fridge and if I was very lucky a message on the machine."

"Xander, you're being..." Whatever Spike had meant to say was lost as he noticed Xander's hands, gripping the edges of his sleeves tightly. Xander's whole body was trembling. He was barely standing up, Spike realised and reached out to steady him.

"You're shaking again," he said softly.

"Well, I'm going crazy so that sort of makes sense," Xander muttered. He slumped against the wall, looking defeated and small, as lost as Spike had ever seen him. They should probably talk about this, but then, what good would it do? It was all over and done with. The important thing here was that Xander was sick and needed to rest.

"You need to lie down."

When he received no reaction, he put his arm around Xander's shoulders and gently steered him towards the bedroom. Xander passively accepted the help, quiet until after he was settled in the bed, sleeping pills dutifully swallowed.

"Why did you come back?"

This time the words were uttered quietly, laced with sadness.

"Because I had to," Spike replied, equally quiet. He waited until Xander was asleep then packed his things for L.A. Xander remembered; there was no point staying now. Besides, the guys needed him and Xander had his friends to take care of him. There was no place for Spike here.


~*~*~*~*~


Buffy and Willow were sitting at the kitchen table, each nursing a cup of hot chocolate.

"I can't believe you let him kick you out," Willow said for the umpteenth time.

"Not like he gave me a choice," Buffy sulked.

There was a pause, filled with tension and worry before Willow finally asked the question they had both been thinking.

"Do you think we should get Dawn back here?" she said, rushing to continue before Buffy could interrupt. "She's the only one who ever managed to calm those two down. One flash of the Bambi eyes and they get all quiet and guilty."

Buffy toyed with her mug, pushing it this way and that.

"I don't know...Dad barely pays any attention to us and okay, I don't care any more, but Dawn does. This holiday means so much to her," she said, frowning down at her drink.

Willow nodded.

“Do you think we should go see what happened? It’s been, what, six hours since you left? Maybe they worked things out.”

At that moment Xander charged into the kitchen, wild eyed and vibrating with suppressed anger. For a split second Buffy felt like she was the china and Xander was the bull trapped in the shop. Destruction was imminent.

"Where the hell do you get off bringing Spike back here?" he demanded

Buffy glanced worriedly at Willow and tried to explain.

"Xander..."

"Don't 'Xander' me in that tone of voice. He didn't need to know! He made his choice and I’m sure he was damn happy with it! Why would you make him come back?"

“You needed him,” Willow stated.

“No I didn’t. I needed to get over him! Not have him shoved in my home again, pretending to care. He made his choice and we both had to live with it. You can’t just bring him back like that!”

“He wanted to come.”

“He just felt guilty,” Xander replied and sat down. “That’s all, he felt guilty for choosing Angel.”

“Xander, I’m sure Angel and Spike didn’t, um, do anything,” Buffy said, trying to reassure him.

“I know Buff," he immediately dismissed that thought. "I'm not saying they were having a tawdry affair or whatever. He still chose Angel though. Every single time Angel called, Spike didn't even ask if it was necessary - he just jumped in the car and went off to LA. And Angel always called. Every other day Spike would be gone. Was it too selfish to just want my boyfriend home with me?"

"Yes," Willow promptly replied.

"Willow!" Buffy admonished, shocked at the response and worried as Xander's face lost all colour. He sat heavily down on a chair and just looked at Willow.

"It's true, Buffy! Angel is the only family Spike has and this is the first time in over a hundred years that they're not trying to kill each other! Just because Spike needs Angel doesn't mean he doesn't need you, Xan."

"Yeah, well, he obviously needs Angel more than me. Deadboy wins again," Xander muttered.

"You don't think Angel was doing this on purpose?" Buffy asked. No way would Angel do that. If he thought Spike and Xander shouldn't be together he would come out and say it, not be all sneaky about it. She thought.

"No. Or – no, I don't think so," Xander replied. He sounded so tired, Buffy couldn't help but go and hug him. "I don't know if he was doing it deliberately but he was dragging Spike away from me. Every time he went it took a little longer for him to come back," he laughed bitterly, "You know, I felt a little like a hobby or something. He'd come see me when it was convenient, then scurry on back to his real life."

Buffy breathed in, ready to say something but Willow reached out and touched her hand, quieting her. She cast a questioning look towards her friend but stayed silent.


~*~*~*~*~


He didn't know why he was telling them this. It was all over and done with and there was nothing anyone could do to change it. He'd woken up and Spike was gone again and this time there wasn't even a note. Nothing had changed.

"So I thought I'd try and fix it. I thought maybe we could spend some time together, go away somewhere. So I got some travel books and went home to tell him about it. And when I got home there he was, writing another stupid note. 'Gone to LaLa Land, luv, back soon'," he said, mimicking Spike's accent. "There I was, planning to go away with him and he was going away alone. Again."

"Choose, Spike. Me or him."

"Xander, please."

"No. You have to choose. I'm taking time off work, we can go somewhere together. Anywhere you want."

He hated the pleading in his voice. He shouldn't be begging his boyfriend to spend time with him. Spike should want to do it himself.

"There's no apocalypse, and I got time off work. We can leave tomorrow."

Spike's phone rang and after a second of hesitation he picked up. Xander could just about hear Cordelia's voice, quick and breathless.

"If you go, don't come back," Xander said firmly, "You make your choice now. If you walk out that door, don't bother coming back."

Seconds later Spike flipped the cellphone shut and looked helplessly at him.

"Xander, I have to go."


"I didn't mean to do it. I was so angry and the words just came out," he explained, leaning against Buffy's warmth. "I couldn't take it back, could I? And then he left so his choice was pretty clear."





Part Eleven

Spike stood over the remains of the demon, sword still clasped in his bloody hand.

“Well that was enthusiastic,” Cordelia commented.

“I would even go so far as to say it was on a fanatical scale,” Wesley agreed, “Has the demon insulted your fashion sense? Was it personal?”

“Shut up,” Spike sulked, glaring at his two so-called friends. “It’s dead isn’t it?”

“Oh it’s definitely dead,” Cordelia said, poking at it’s head with her axe. It lay a good ten feet from its torso. The legs were near Wesley, about five feet to her left. "Would you mind telling us why it's so unbelievably dead?"

"Xander remembered."

Spike spoke quietly but Cordelia and Wesley stopped and stared as if he’d yelled.

"Did he hurt you? Do you want me to beat him up for you? Because I can, you know, the little bastard won't hit a girl," Cordelia immediately demanded.

Spike smiled. After days of having his motives and decisions doubted at every turn, it was good to have someone completely on his side.

"It wasn't his fault, not completely. You would have reacted the same way if it was you, Princess."

"That doesn't mean I can't bring him down for you. I have an evil tongue, Spike, I can make him cry just by talking to him," she said, an evil gleam in her eyes.

"Spike, I don't mean to intrude in what is obviously personal and private business," Wesley paused when Cordelia snorted, "but" he continued with a significant look in her direction, "what did happen between you two?"

Spike looked at his friends, both drenched in purple goo, both looking concerned for him.

"I don't know," he said, leaning down to grab the Ba'ska's torso. He picked it up and threw it into a nearby trash can.

"Spike."

"I don't know. I thought everything was fine, then one day he came home and told me to get out."

As he talked, Spike grabbed bits of the demon and threw them away.

"That can't be all," Wesley's tone was soft, even gentle, reminding Spike of the way he himself had talked to Dru when she was in one of her moods.

"Today he said that I was never there."

"What? You were there for the whole week!" Cordelia exploded.

"Cordelia." The warning in Wesley's voice made her subside.

"That's not what you meant, was it," she said sheepishly.

"No," Spike replied with a small smile. He lit a cigarette, using the time until the first drag to compose himself. "Said I was always here helping Angel with some demon."

"But Angel needed you," Cordelia pointed out.

"Said he needed me too."

Spike took another drag, staring at the ground.

"You did spend a lot of time in LA," Wesley said thoughtfully.

Spike looked up in time to see Cordelia slap Wesley's arm. He looked at the man, waiting for him to continue. After another glare in Cordelia's direction he did.

"That was the sum of my wisdom," he said dryly, "You spent a lot of time here, which translates into not spending a lot of time there. We didn't always need you desperately. There were times when we could have handled it ourselves."

"He still shouldn't have kicked Spike out like that," Cordelia declared.


~*~*~*~*~


"So what do I do now?" Xander asked. He had his head pillowed on his arms, eyes closed tightly as if that could keep the world at bay.

"Talk to him," Willow replied.

"Why? It's over, Will."

"But it doesn't have to be over in that way, where you think he left you and he thinks you threw him out."

It was Buffy who had replied, earning a surprised look from him.

"I'm not saying you'll be best friends or anything but maybe you won't die a little every time you see him."

"Buffy, you don't understand," he started to say but Buffy placed a finger on his lips making him quiet down.

"If there's one thing I do understand it's breaking up," she said firmly, "Angel, Riley, hell even Spike. I can't offer advice on a whole lot of subjects but if there's one thing I know, Xander Harris, it's how not to say goodbye."

Too shocked to formulate an answer, Xander merely nodded.


~*~*~*~*~


Having left Cordelia and Wesley home, Spike returned to his flat. He was so preoccupied with Wesley's words that he didn't notice the shadow on the wall until he reached the door. Once again one of the Sunnydale crew was leaning dejectedly against his door. Except this time it wasn't Willow standing there. It was Xander.

"Hey."

Spike nodded a greeting.

"Willow thinks I'm an idiot."

"Does she?"

"Yeah," Xander sighed, "and Buffy agrees with her. I think she might be right too."

Spike looked steadily at Xander, trying to figure out what the brunet was thinking. He'd thought he knew Xan so well but he'd never realised how Xander felt about his LA trips and Xander had never told him. Now, with him standing so close, hands in his pockets and staring at the floor, Spike couldn't see anything deeper than the obvious awkwardness of the situation.

In the end he swallowed a sigh and let both of them in the apartment. He gestured towards the kitchen table and headed for the fridge.

"Beer?" he asked, glancing back at Xander.


~*~*~*~*~


Whatever Xander had been expecting when he'd headed off to LA he hadn't been expecting this calm acceptance of his presence. He took a seat at the table and nodded his acceptance of the offer.

Spike joined him at the table. Silence descended. For the first time in his life Xander had no words ready. He nervously twirled the beer bottle around, the sound of glass scraping on wood loud in the silence enveloping them.

"So..." Spike said, clearly prompting him to say what he had come here to say.

Except of course Xander didn't know what to say.

"So," he started. Still no words so he lapsed once more into silence.

Spike's hands wrapped around Xander's own, stilling the nervous movement. Without even the sound of the twirling bottle the silence seemed louder. He looked up, straight into Spike's eyes.

"Sorry," he said, looking down again, "I just don't know what to say. I don't want to have to avoid you forever or drink myself stupid every anniversary but I don' know how to fix that." Now that he'd started Xander couldn't stop. "I'm sorry I gave you an ultimatum like that. I should have handled that differently. I should have...I don't know what I should have done but that wasn't it."

Spike nodded.

"I'm sorry I let you do that without a fight," he said, surprising Xander into looking up again. "Wesley thinks I was being a berk."

Xander smiled a little at the self-deprecating tone.

"So," he said hesitantly.

"So," Spike repeated.

"Where do we go from here?"





Part Twelve

And wasn't that the million dollar question, Spike thought in the silence that followed. It had been nice to hear an apology and he'd felt so relieved when he offered his own back. Wesley had been right, the two of them had done this to themselves.

"I don't know, Xander. Where do you want us to go?"

Xander shrugged.

"Can't we go back to how things were?" he mumbled. If not for vampire hearing Spike wasn't sure he would have heard him.

"Xander..."

"Last week, before I remembered," Xander interrupted, "That was the best week I had since you left. I don't mind a nervous breakdown here or there," he finished. There was a tiny little smile on his lips, the one Spike knew he had whenever he tried to joke but couldn't quite get there.

"For me too Xan," Spike said, "but-"

"See?"

Spike flinched. The desperation in Xander's voice was painful to hear.

"But," he repeated, feeling like a complete heel, "my life is here now."

He couldn't go through that again, get his hopes up and then have them dashed so completely. What he'd said was true, his life was here now. A nice, secure one with friends and family and no fear of getting his heart stomped on. But then Xander's eyes lost all hope and that was even more heartbreaking than seeing his things in the Hyperion lobby and knowing he'd been kicked out of his own home.


~*~*~*~*~


He should have expected that. Xander didn't know what had possessed him to ask in the first place. He'd just suddenly realised how happy he'd been during that week, when he couldn't remember all the bad things that had happened. His nod was a sad, resigned affair as he got up.

"I'll just go," he whispered. If he spoke any louder he might break himself before he got out.

Just then the front door opened and Angel walked in.

"Did you get the demon? Cordelia left a message but I think I broke my cellphone again because I can't see it," he said, looking down at his phone.

Xander stood still, staring at the keys in Angel's hands. He looked up at Spike then back at the keys, his mind tumbling into chaos.

"Are you two," Xander started but then caught himself in time. "Never mind, it's none of my business."

He stepped around Angel and walked towards the door as fast as his dignity would allow.

"We're not," Spike suddenly said and that was enough to stop Xander for a moment. He could see Angel out of the corner of his eye, hovering in that annoyingly uncertain way he had when confronted with any emotion. Good, Xander thought maliciously, the least he can do is feel uncomfortable.

"Look, we could start over," Spike said, once again shocking Xander into looking at him. "Go out or something."

"You're not," Xander glanced briefly at Angel, reluctant to even say the words.

"He's family," Spike replied, "Family has keys."

Xander could understand that. After all, Buffy and Willow both had keys to his own apartment.

"Do you really want to start over?" he asked. They'd never really dated, him and Spike. They had somehow jumped from enemies, to flatmates, to a couple with no adjustment period in between.

"You're not the only one who was happy last week. Nervous breakdowns and all," Spike smiled a little at him.

"We could start dating then," Xander said hesitantly, "but what next? Would you, if it all went well and we were okay and all...I can't leave the girls and you said your life is here and what do we do then?"

Spike looked thoughtful for a while. After a minute or two Xander started fidgeting again and contemplating a quick escape. A glance at Angel made him feel a little better. He wasn't the only one who wished Spike would hurry up and speak. Angel looked like he was praying for aliens to beam him up.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it but the commute isn't so bad. I could come to LA for big cases," Spike spoke suddenly.

Xander frowned. He knew how that went, he'd been through it and even if he promised to try and get used to it, he wasn't sure he could. Not if Spike was gone for days at a time.

"But, that was how-" he started to express his doubts.

"Only big cases this time. And if they're on the weekend you can come with me." Spike continued as if Xander hadn't interrupted. "We'll work it out. If and when we get to that part. No more silent resentment though. You don't like something, you tell me."

"No more silent resentment," Xander agreed.

They stood there, staring at each other. Xander was trying to get his brain to accept the complete turn around that had just occurred. A slow smile dawned on his face as he begun to realise that Spike was giving them another chance.

Angel cleared his throat. Xander turned to look at him and the smile turned into a smirk at the look on Angel's face. He'd gone past praying to downright begging for alien abduction. Back to Spike and Xander actually chuckled at the blond's amused expression. Spike always did like to torture Angel.

"I should go," Xander said, a smile still playing on his lips. He wanted to stay, spend the night maybe, but that would be rushing things and they'd just agreed to start over. He looked at Spike, enjoying the way his eyes lit up in amusement. After he remembered everything, Xander didn't think he'd ever get to see that again. "So, when do you want to..." he trailed off, not sure how to say it.

"I'll pick you up on Saturday," Spike said, laughing blue eyes focused on him now. Xander startled as Spike came close enough for a quick kiss. "Dinner and a movie. A classic date, yeah?"

"Yeah," Xander echoed. He dared to kiss Spike once more, taking his time and savouring the experience. "See you on Saturday," he said when he stepped back. With one last smile he walked outside, paused for a moment to get his bearings and then started off for his car.

"Call me when you get there! And be careful on the way, Xan, no more bloody accidents, okay?" Spike's voice floated down from an open window.

"Okay," Xander yelled. He laughed a little in amazement at how things had suddenly changed. He had to talk to his girls, figure out what to wear on Saturday. He had a date! With Spike!


~*~*~*~*~


With a last fond look at Xander, Spike pulled his head back inside and closed the window.

"Was it really because I called so often?" Angel asked, sounding as guilty as ever.

"Oi! Get that look off your face," Spike demanded. "It wasn't your fault," he continued in a less ear-splitting volume, "We bollocksed everything up just fine without your help."

"I didn't mean to call, it was just," Angel sighed, "more fun when you were around. I missed you," he admitted.

"'course you did," Spike smirked. Angel still looked guilty, which was, frankly, bringing Spike down from his nice, happy cloud. "Look, mate, I had about as much tension as I can deal with these past few weeks, and things are finally getting back to normal," he said, "Xan and I are going to work things out, you're your usual brooding self and I'm as close to happy as I've been for months. Can we just skip to the part where I tell you I need Saturday off and you nod in agreement?"

He could see Angel struggle to let this go.

"Come on, nod like the good little vamp you are," Spike cajoled with an overly patronizing tone.

Angel finally sighed and relaxed his shoulders.

"Okay. So...tell me about this demon you killed today."

"Good boy, here's a beer for your trouble," Spike laughed at the disgruntled look Angel gave him and launched into a description of the fight.

"Now, I don't care what Cordelia says, the demon was no more dead than necessary!"




The End




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