Fandom: BtVS
Pairing: Spike/Xander
Rating: PG for now, NC-17 overall
Characters: Sadly, not ours. Joss Whedon made them up, we just get to play around with them.
Concrits: welcome in comments
Author's Note: Written for [info]stawberynvanilawho made lovely banners for our TAT series. She asked for a story that includes brave young Xander and then evolves into Spander, and here it is.



Virtual Personal

Part One

Xander stretched up to his toes to reach the door handle. He hated coming to this store, it took ages and he always had trouble getting inside. He frowned in concentration and tugged hard at the handle but still it refused to budge. He tried it once more, pulling the door with as much strength as he could gather. Suddenly he lost his grip and stumbled backwards straight into some man. Moving back, he started stammering apologies. His father said he was to apologise every time he did something wrong.

Spike loomed over the young human, his expression forbidding under the moonlight. His gaze narrowed as he tried to make sense of the muttered words. "What is it you're going on about?"

"I'm sorry," Xander squeaked. He scrambled back, away from the man and started to run towards home. A few steps later he stopped. He wasn't to go back without the whiskey. Dad had made it clear. He had to go get him two bottles and come back. He stared at the man, trying to figure out whether he would get smacked if he went back to try and open the door again.

The vampire watched the expressions flitter across the boy’s face. Fear, then panic, but the panic wasn’t directed to him. Interesting. If he had to guess, the child was less than seven years old.

Taking a step toward him, he cocked his head.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed waiting for Father Christmas?”

"I've been bad, sir," Xander replied, with a resigned shrug. "Dad says Santa doesn't bring presents to bad boys."

He fidgeted a little and glanced towards the shop door. He had to get the bottles.

Santa had always brought him presents when he was young William. Even when he’d been bad. He remembered trying to keep awake, fighting to keep his eyes open, and then waking to prezzies. Blinking back memories from a century ago, he refocused on the child.

“Been bad, have you. Not as bad as I have, I reckon,” he flashed a rare smile. “And what have you done that’s so bad? Mmm?” He took another step closer. “Did you burn down a house? No? Drown your sister? Kill an animal?”

"N-no, sir," Xander backed away carefully. "I was dis-res-pecful a-and bad."

He glanced longingly at the door. It seemed so far away now, with the man standing there. He had to get the bottles. He had to!

“I see.” But he didn’t, not really. This boy who was sir’ing him up and down... disrespectful? “Why are you out and about. It’s late. Surely you’ll get in trouble for it.” His gaze slid to the liquor store and back to the boy. “You trying to steal yourself some gum? Chocolates?”

Xander forgot to be afraid for a moment. He would never steal anything! He was doing his best to be a good boy! Maybe next year Santa would bring him something if he was good enough.

"No!" he protested. "I have money, see?" he dug his fingers in his pocket and brought out the money his dad had given him. "I have to get something for my dad."

“A present? A Christmas present? From there?” he nodded to the store. “You’re too late, boy. It’s closed.”

His eyes widened and he forgot all about being afraid. He ran to the door and grabbed hold of the handle, pulling for all he was worth.

"Please open," he said. Sometimes begging helped. He pulled harder and harder, panicking even more every time the door refused to open.

“Stop... stop.” His orders fell on deaf ears as the boy went wild trying to open the door. Spike pulled him away and dropped down to his level. “It’s closed. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.” He frowned, “Are you having a tantrum? Is this why your father says you’re bad?”

The mention of his father threw Xander into even more of a tailspin.

"I have to get the bottles!" he yelled, eyes filled with tears. "I'm bad if I don't get the bottles!"

“Bottles? Liquor? They wouldn’t give you any even if they were open. Get a hold of yourself, yeah?” This was awkward, he had no idea what to do for a panicked and crying child.

"I have to get the bottles," Xander insisted, "Mr. Mike gives me the bottles and I give him the money and then I'm good." He looked at the man earnestly, trying to drown the hicups. Dad said good boys didn't cry. "I have to be good.”

It was Christmas eve, and this boy was worried about what his father would do to him if he didn’t bring home the liquor. Suddenly Spike had the full picture and was filled with a fury he didn’t understand. A few questions later, he told the boy to stay out there.

He walked up to the barred windows, and forced the steel bars apart. No doubt the boy was scared shitless by what he saw. The fact that he was still waiting spoke much of the level of his fear of his own father. Spike jabbed his elbow into the glass, shattering it, and clearing it with his leather clad arms. Then he was inside.

Making a face at the security camera, he reached for the whisky and even slipped it into a paper sleeve. Moments later, he was outside and taking a hold of the boy’s hand. “What did you say your name was?”

Xander looked up at the man, eyes filled with awe.

"Xander," he whispered as he tightened his fingers around the blond's hand. He kept staring up at the man as he walked, stumbling a couple of times in the process. He tried to work up the courage to speak, and after a couple of tries he managed it.

"A-are you Superman?" he asked.

"I'd like to think so, yeah," the hardened vampire almost smiled. He was getting bleeding soft in his old age, that's what. "Name's Spike. You having guests tonight? That why you needed to get the liquor?" He knew what's the what, had a gut feeling, but wanted to hear from the boy.

"Just Uncle Rory," Xander said, "I like uncle Rory, he gives me chocolate. Today he gave me a Hurricane!" he grinned up at Spike. "Dad didn't like it 'cause I was bad," he continued, face scrunching up for a moment. "He yelled and everything and Uncle Rory said it was snafu." He pondered the word as he walked. "Spike? What's a snafu?"

"Situation normal, all fucked up. Is that how it is? Fucked up at home?" he cocked his head.

"You're not supposed to say that! It's a bad word!" Xander protested.

Spike made a sound of disgust. "Sometimes saying a bad word makes you feel better. Try it," he challenged. "Say 'this is fucked up... not supposed to send a kid to a bloody liquor shop in the middle of the night, on Christmas, to boot." Seeing the boy's perplexed and shocked look, he amended, "just say 'it's fucked up.'"

Xander squirmed. He didn't want to disappoint his new friend but mum wouldn't like him saying that word. Mum not liking things usually meant yelling and then dad would yell too and Xander hated it when people yelled.

"Can I say snafu?" he asked timidly.

"You can say WTFYW. That's 'whatever the fuck you want,' for those of us with sensitive ears," he drawled. He'd have to think of far catchier achronyms, come on, he'd been a poet once, shouldn't be too bloody difficult a task.

"Okay," Xander said happily, "Snafu," he tried the word out and then again, "snafu! I can't say the other thing. I'm only little," he pointed out, "and it's a big word. School is snafu too," he nodded. "Except for Willow and Jesse. They're my friends. Jesse's a boy, it's only his name that's girly."

"Known lots of boys named Jesse. Jesse James of cowboy times, for one." As they strolled along, the boy prattled on about absolutely nothing, it seemed, and Spike found himself answering. It was strange, that... finding himself giving up his time to get the half pint home when there were so many other things he could be doing.

Xander never had a grown up pay so much attention to him before. Jesse and Willow were his friends and all but they were little like him. Spike was a superhero!

He was so busy basking in the attention that he didn't realise they'd passed his house until he saw Jesse's bicycle. It was right in Jesse's front yard which meant that Xander's house was a block behind them. He tugged at Spike's hand and turned around, pointing back where they'd come from.

"We passed it! I live that way. It's the house with the apple tree. I like the apple tree, it has yummy apples on it."

"Passed it?" How could he yell into that little face looking up at him... trusting him with no cause whatsoever? Clamping down on any complaints that threatened to leave his lips, Spike merely nodded and turned back. When they reached the house, he passed the bottle to Xander and gave him a little push. "Happy Christmas."

Moments later, the shouting from inside the house told him it was anything but a happy Christmas. The boy was in trouble for being late. The father deserved to be whipped. Or worse. Fleeting thoughts of freeing the boy from his parents slipped through the vampire's mind, as he stood under a tree until the boy was ordered to bed and the lights went out in his room.

A little later, Xander sneaked past the kitchen and down into the basement. His parents were too busy yelling at each other to pay much attention to him but it was always better to sneak. He grabbed his sleeping bag from the cupboard next to the washing machine and carefully tugged it up the stairs and out to the yard. He'd tried sleeping in the basement last time they yelled but he could still hear them. The best place to sleep, he'd found, was out in the yard under the apple tree. That way he couldn't hear them and they couldn't see him if they looked out the window.

He spread his sleeping bag under the tree, carefully tugging all corners so it was evenly spread out then tried to wriggle in without moving it too much.

It was hard to tell why Spike had stayed. If he hadn't, he wouldn't have seen the git of a boy fall asleep outside, in plain view, in Sunnydale of all places. It was a wonder he hadn't found himself killed yet. Muttering all sorts of curses under his breath, Spike found he couldn't leave, and that realization led to a few more choice curses.

When morning dawned, Spike was gone, but a present lay at the foot of Xander's sleeping bag. It wasn't wrapped very well, but Spike had made sure it was a nice gift... he'd unwrapped plenty from under the trees of several houses from outside the neighborhood, before settling on that one for the boy.


Xander was sneaking again. But then, he usually was. It was his birthday today and Spike was sure to try and leave something under the tree. He grinned to himself as he thought of all the possible presents Spike could have left. He'd gotten a right bollocking after the first time Spike had caught him sleeping outside and he'd been expressly forbidden from ever doing it again. Still, every Christmas and birthday Spike would leave him a present under the tree. For a big, bad vampire, Spike was very sweet. Well, this time Xander aimed to catch him at it.

He slipped into the yard and moved towards the tree as stealthily as he knew how.

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Spike drawled, coming out from behind the tree, and blowing rings of smoke toward the now nine year old. "Too late for eight year olds to be MIA from the house, yeah?"

"Damn it," Xander swore, hand over his chest as his heart thudded painfully. "I'm getting you a bell, you sneaky FAV!"

"Who're you calling annoying?" Arching a brow, the 'fucking annoying vampire' blew more smoke, dropped the butt of his cigarette and ground it out under his heel... leaving it next to a pile of similar butts. "And what have we there?" he jutted his chin out toward the front door of the house. "That for me? Not sure it'll take my weight," he said, starting to walk toward the bicycle with an elaborate ribbon on it... he'd gotten a lot better at his gift presentation skills.

"A bike!" Xander exclaimed. He hugged Spike, bringing his mouth close to the blond's ear before yelling. "I'm NINE! Not, EIGHT, NINE!"

He laughed at the flinch Spike couldn't hold back and ran to his bike. Fucking Annoying Vampires also had fucking sensitive hearing, he'd discovered.

"Then act like something other than a LLC," Spike shouted after him, trying his best to look angry but failing miserably the instant his little lost child, pulled his hard work apart, tossed the ribbons and climbed the bike. "Mind you don't fall off, not as small as your last one," he pointed out. The Harrises hadn't noticed their son had long outgrown his bike, and they wouldn't notice the replacement, he hazarded. "And try not to scrape your knee... and... right, I'll stop sounding like a BFM now."

Spike did not sound like his 'bloody fucking mother' at all. Xander grinned and pushed off.


"And then he told me he likes Cordelia!" Xander grimaced, "We don't see each other for a whole month and he mutates into a Cordelia-loving idiot. So I said, 'snafu then', and Willow laughed. Jesse's an idiot though. Cordelia won't even spit on him if he's on fire."

He took a bite off his burger and looked expectantly at Spike. He could always count on the blond for a dismissive comment and total agreement that humans were stupid. No matter what happened at school or at home, at least Spike could be counted on to be there.

"He's an idiot, she's an idiot... you're all bloody idiots." Spike snagged a french fry from the teenager, leaned back and ate it. Why did ketchup have to be so red? "What about Willow, think she likes you? Winter dance is coming up," he cocked his head to the side. "She's the least idiotic of you BOIs, far as I can tell."

"Willow? No, she's just a friend," Xander blushed as he spoke, sneaking a glance at Spike then focussing back to his burger. "Besides, she's not my type," he dared to add.

"Isn't she? Ah, you're after the elusive Cordelia too, then," Spike shook his head. "She's too much work, you know? Would have you at her beck and call, all the time, yeah?" He knew the type only too well. "Going with anyone else, then? Or stag?" He hoped the boy wouldn't stay home, out was always the better choice for him.

Xander shrugged. "Cordelia's a bitch," he said after swallowing his bite, "and I'd rather go to Willie's with you. We can win a kitten for Willow. The kids at school aren't half as much fun as you. Bunch of bois," he smiled softly.

"A bit of drinking and smoking with the boys at Willies'll put a bit of hair on your chest, that's for sure. But you're hardly likely to learn how to go about getting on with a girl that way. It's an art that, and you've got to practice to get it right," he smiled back, giving sage advice. He'd been awkward with women in his own youth, and it wasn't until he'd gone vampire that things had changed. He didn't want that for Xander. "A little dancing, a bit of kissing... and one day you'll have the Cordelia's of the world eating out of your hand. Go to the dance, Willie's will always be there. You having the rest of the fries?"

"I don't want the Cordelias of the world," Xander responded, mimicking Spike's tone and accent. "Why do I have to go to the stupid dance anyway. I don't like them. I like you," he sulked.

"Stop that, you sound like HP not me," the vampire countered, reaching over for the fries. "And I've told you why already."

Xander sat back and glared at him.

"I'm not going and that's final. Come on, dad said I should be home before he gets back from work," he stood up and grabbed his backpack. "Someone saw me out with you and they told him. Now he has to pretend to be a good dad and make sure I'm home on time. Gotta keep up appearances, you know," he said bitterly.

"What do you mean, with me? Ah... out late," he gave a half shrug. "He'll forget soon enough." Popping the last of the french fries into his mouth, Spike followed the youth out of the burger joint. Xander's dad got home right about 8:00 Tuesdays, and that gave them a half hour, more than enough time.

In the parking lot, the vampire stopped. "Mind you get all your homework done, even if you have to put on those ear plugs of yours, yeah? More I think of it, the more I like the idea of Willow and you... she'll help you with your grades. Should join her study group."

Xander's glare had more fire in it this time. It was bad enough that Spike saw him as some kid, he didn't have to push him towards someone else on top of it!

"Fuck off, Spike," he snarled. He would stomp off but the last time he'd tried that Spike had dragged him back and shoved him in the car. "You know a fuckload of nothing so just fuck off."

Caught by surprise at the sudden tide of anger, Spike grabbed Xander's jacket and forced him to face him. "Stop acting like an LL... a little lost child. Got something to say to me, say it... man to man, here," he snarled right back, not about to take any lip from the kid. There was something else at work here, and he wanted to know what it was, why the boy was acting strange. He'd noticed little shifts in his behavior, but nothing he could call him on, not until now. "Go on... say what's on your mind. I'm not your father." For years, he'd told Spike the things any child would tell only his own father.

"No, you're not."

Xander pushed Spike away with as much strength as he could gather. He stared at him, holding his gaze. Suddenly he could see understanding dawn and that was too much, far too much for him to handle. So he ran, as fast and as far as he could. And this time, Spike let him.

Spike leaned back against the building and bit his lip. What had he done? Had he fucked up worse than Xander's father, here? Given him wrong signals? Confused him? He hadn't intentionally used any vampire compulsion, but the boy was young, and even younger when he'd befriended him. Was there a chance he'd fallen under his thrall? Fuck...

Spike hit his head against the wall, calling himself all sorts of idiot. Xander didn't need this... it was the last worry that the boy should have. He should be making friends, finding out about girls, and not being thrown into a state of sexual confusion by a vampire.

There was only one thing the vampire could do. He hoped he was strong enough... strong enough to walk away from his son.


[Ten years later, in regular BtvS, Los Angeles (post Sunnydale's demise)]

Buffy, Xander and Willow sat cross-legged in a circle. Willow had set a candle in front of each of them, and they were chanting the words she'd given them on a piece of paper. One of the new Slayers had disappeared, and Willow thought she could locate her.

The draft from the window abruptly stopped, and the room grew still... like right before before a storm. Something was building, that much was for sure, thought Buffy, as her eyes met Xander's. There was a 'wooshing sound' and the floor are in the circle suddenly went from blue carpet to glassy like a mirror, and started to swirl. Buffy couldn't help but be reminded of the wormhole to another dimension that she'd dove into so long ago. Her heart thudded.

Xander focused on the circle, trying to see if he could spot Jenna in it. She hadn't been one of his own slayers but a lost little girl was still a lost little girl. Suddenly a shadow appeared in the middle of the hole but instead of the expected outline of a rather petite nine-year-old, a man sized figure emerged.

"What the fucking hell is going on?" the figure demanded as soon as it stepped through the circle.

It took Xander a moment to realise that he was looking into his own face, complete with an eye-patch over his left eye.

"Well? Is anyone going to answer me? Who the fuck are you and why are you wearing my friends's faces?"

"Potty mouth Xander..." Buffy said, eyes wide as she got up. "Well you're no little lost slayer, that's for sure."

Xander's glare faltered. When he'd jumped in the hole he'd expected some kind of monster to wait on the other side. He certainly didn't expect perfect copies of his friends to be there. He looked at the one who looked like him. He sure as fuck never expected that. "Sorry, what?" he asked, instinctively turning to Willow for an explanation.

"Uh oh... I think the spell went wrong. I was trying to find a lost Slayer and then you showed." She twisted the material of her tee shirt in her hands. "You're..."

"His evil twin?" Buffy asked.

"Hey, I don't do evil twins anymore," Xander protested, coming up to look at his photocopy. "Sides' I'm way better looking."

"Where did you get him from?"

"Another dimension? I mean, that's a guess, an educated guess based on... you know, the whole, he looks just like Xander, sounds like Xander, but isn't, thing..." Willow gave the newcomer a smile. "I'll fix it."

"Okay, one: you're in no way better looking than me," Xander glared at the look-alike. "two: if anyone's evil it's you guys, I didn't try to kidnap a slayer and three: over my dead body!"

The last one was addressed to this new Willow person. Xander loved his Willow, really he did, but if this one was anything like that one he'd probably end up in a hell dimension and dead within seconds.

"Didn't we agree that you wouldn't involve me in any more spells?" he demanded. "You promised me, no more fucking spells!"

Willow looked wounded, but mostly she was upset with Xander for yelling and repeatedly using the F word, even if he wasn't her Xander. Her Xander had moved up and put his hand on her back.

"Okay, let's calm down here. Look, we didn't mean to bring you over. Trust me, one Xander's enough..."


The Slayer grinned. "A nine year old slayer's missing, and we were trying to get her... there's no kidnapping going on. Spell backfired, poof... we've got knock-off!Xander. We'll talk to Giles, do a bit of research and get you back where you need to be, okay? If you're from anywhere at all like here, this has gotta be old hat for you."

"You were looking for an LLC?" Xander's anger immediately evaporated. "Fuck...I haven't been that for years," he sighed. "Right. The spell didn't exactly backfire," he confessed, "It was heading for Buffy, my Buffy I mean, and I sort of jumped in front of her. I knew she wasn't feeling well lately but...lost? She felt lost?" he looked sadly at the Buffy in front of him. She was just like his own except for maybe, the hair was a shade blonder.

"An LLC? Is that even English?" Buffy asked.

"'Your' Buffy? You mean you and Buffy are..."

Both Buffy and Willow turned to glare at their Xander.

"Why? Are you and Buffy? Dude that's like fucking incest!" Xander shuddered. "No offence," he added hastily when the glares transferred to him. "It's just that well, you're my girls, you two and Dawn. It'd be weird. Plus, I'm gay," he said, smirking at his counterpart.

This time the girls were staring at their own Xander, speculation clear in their eyes.

"What? No!" Xander panicked as Buffy nodded thoughtfully to herself. "Just because he's gay doesn't mean I am!"

"You do wear flowery shirts..." Buffy teased, then looked back at the newcomer. "We'll get you a room upstairs, and show you around. Giles should get back in town in a couple days, and then we'll work on sending you back where you belong."

"Same place, really," Willow chimed in, seeing the doubt creep into new Xan's eye. "So... do you have a boyfriend? It's not Andrew, is it..."

Xander grimaced.

"I wouldn't touch him with someone elses d..." he saw Willow's eyes widen, "erm...hands. I take it he doesn't swear much," he said, nodding towards this world's Xander. "You sort of grew used to my potty mouth. I had bad influences growing up," he shrugged. Just remembering the bad influence made his mood take a downwards turn so he quickly moved on to something else. His Willow had grown used to the idea of Spike helping him for near a decade but he didn't know how things worked in this world. Maybe Spike had never showed up here.

"We're still in LA, right? You guys didn't move to Cleveland, did you?" he asked.

"This is too weird for me," Xander said, closing his eye and rubbing a hand over it. "I'm going to call my very female girlfriend," he glared at the girls for good measure, "and then to bed."

"L.A., yup." Guess the crew from wherever this Xander was from had also moved and maybe used the insurance money from the home they'd lost in Sunnydale, to buy a new place. Buffy crossed the room, and opened the door. "I'll show you around, unless you live in a carbon copy of the place, in which case, the guest room is on the second floor, third one on the right."

"I'll... I'll get you some sheets and things." Willow grabbed his hand and tugged him, hoping he wasn't too scared or lost here. Guilt ate at her, but she kept telling herself it was fixable.

"Thanks Wills," Xander wandered up the stairs. The colours were all wrong and the furniture was different but the house was similar enough to their own for him to find his way around.

"I'm sorry I yelled before," he said, the moment Willow came in with the sheets. "I was just confused and stuff. Though, if you want to make me some cookies to feel better, I should point out that I love the chocolate and banana ones you made when I got the funny syphilis."

Willow gulped. "O-kay... not even gonna ask what that is," she said, feeling her cheeks warm. "But cookies, check." Leaving him to get settled, she closed the door behind herself.

Part Two

It was early morning, the sun was just about to rise when Spike walked into the house. The vampire clad entirely in black, jeans and a tee shirt, was in a good mood. His night of drinking and playing kitten poker had gone off real well, and he was on top of the world. When he found Xander in the kitchen, making coffee, his night got even better.

"'Lo, there. Since you're flouncing about the kitchen all poofter-like, mind making me a cup," he drawled, resting his elbow against the counter and looking expectantly at Xander.

Xander nearly dropped his cup in surprise as the familiar voice addressed him so lightly. He carefully set his mug on the counter, idly noticing that his hands were shaking, and turned around to face none other than Spike. He stood there and stared greedily at him. He was just like he remembered, blond hair swept back, arrogant attitude to the fore. Just like the last time he'd seen him, ten fucking years ago.

Before the thought was even fully formed in his head, Xander had stepped forward and punched Spike in the face as hard as he possibly could.

Spike staggered back, and wiped the corner of his mouth, rubbing his jaw. "Are you bloody fucking mad? A simple 'no' would have done, yeah?"

"You fucking bastard!" Xander snarled and raised his hand to punch Spike again. This time the blond was waiting for it though and Xander found both his wrists grabbed tightly.

"Mind gone to pot, has it?" Once, he could forgive. But he wasn't about to allow the boy to take another shot. Anger simmered in Spike's blue gaze as he squeezed Xander's wrist tightly enough to cause him a bit of pain. "Want to tell me what this is about, or are we playing twenty questions?"

The pain gave Xander the jolt he needed to come back to reality.

"Fuck. You're not him. Fucking brilliant, just fucking brilliant." He relaxed his fists, and tried to step back but Spike held him where he was. "You're cutting off my circulation there. I won't punch you again, you can let me go now."

"Lucky it's all I'm cutting off, tell me what's happening." He cocked his head, eyes narrowing at the over abundance of swearing. "I'm not who? You having a nightmare? Sleep walking?" Spike's features softened slightly.

"Oh no, this nightmare is very much a real one," Xander responded. "I'm a different Xander okay? Your one went to visit his girlfriend or something."

"You're a different..." Leaning in slightly, Spike sniffed. "Different cologne, anyway." Dropping his hands, he jutted his chin toward the pot. "How about that coffee, and an explanation? Not a mind reader here, yeah?"

"Still a FAV though," Xander muttered. He hadn't minded this universe much until now. He glanced at Spike as he prepared the coffee, automatically adding two spoonfuls of sugar and a drop of milk in Spike's cup. "Willow did a spell," he said in a louder voice, "she was looking for that slayer that disappeared. She got me instead."

"Now we've got two of you for the price of one, bloody hoorahs all around." He took the mug, quite impressed that the boy had got it right for once. "What's an FAV?" He got that it wasn't flattering, but wracking his brain got him nowhere close to discerning what it meant.

"Fucking annoying vampire," Xander promptly replied, "mom would yell whenever I swore so you made up acronyms I could use instead. You were a very bad influence."

"I made up acronyms? You're out of your fucking mind, I hate them. And I'm quite sure I'd never teach anyone THAT one." He took a sip of the coffee, washing down the liquor from earlier. "You still look annoyed... what did my other self do? Call you a git? You can expect more of the same," he announced, giving 'Xander The Second' a smirk. "I'm quite sure it fits you same as him."

Xander's hand tightened around the mug until his knuckles were white.

"He left," he answered shortly. "Looks like you didn't," he added bitterly, "Your Xander didn't disgust you with his gay ways, did he?"

"My... you... what now?" Spike was confused, and he hated that. He was also faced with an obviously hurting Xander, and he hated that even more. Ever since Caleb put the boy's eye out, he'd felt a certain responsibility for him. "Look mate, I can't claim to know what went on. But if the Spike where you're from is anything like me, don't think disgust played a part. Even if he did call you a pooft... names. It's my way, yeah?" He cocked his head. "More than likely he just wasn't as competent as me and got himself staked."

The blood drained from Xander's face as the thought took hold. He'd never thought that Spike had been staked. He'd imagined all sorts of things, from running back to Druscilla to never wanting to see Xander again but staking had never been part of it.

"You think he's dust?" he managed to ask. "No. No, Giles said he tried to kidnap Angel in LA," he remembered. "Fuck, Spike, don't scare me like that."

He breathed in deeply, trying to calm himself. After all these years and still the thought of Spike getting hurt freaked him out. "Fuck," he repeated, "stupid bastard can still get to me."

The vampire noted the way Xander paled, and the expressions chasing over his face, and even the lurch of his heart at the thought that the other vampire might be dust. "You cared... care for him." It was a statement that needed no answer. Spike had been there. "He didn't notice you... and then he left."

"Not exactly," Xander replied. "Did you ever think of coming to the hellmouth, oh...seventeen years ago?" he asked curiously. "Because my Spike came."

Spike shook his head no, "Seventeen years ago, I was still spilling blood. Hasn't been that long that I reformed... Seventeen years ago, you couldn't have been more than, what? Five, six? Xander, ours is twenty four now. You must be about the same. Spike must have been chipped earlier over there, yeah? Or you wouldn't be here to tell about it."

"You got chipped here? Angel got chipped in our world. Well, Angelus got chipped. Then he got souled again," Xander smirked. "Smug bastard got what was coming to him. If ever there was an FAV, he was it."

Spike's lips quirked into a smile. "Some things don't change. You hate him here too... and bloody right to do so. Still, not sure I understand. If Spike wasn't chipped, how did you... how did you know him well enough to survive, and give a fuck where he is?" Didn't make much sense, that. Spike drank his coffee, but kept his eyes on Xander. There was a chance he was lying of course.

"I'm not sure," Xander shrugged, "Maybe he felt sorry for me. Dad sent me to get him some hard liquor and the store was closed. Spike broke in and got me the stuff." He smiled at the memory. "I thought he was superman or something. Big bad hero come to save me from all the shouting."

"Odd that." Thinking back on pre-chipped days, Spike couldn't imagine doing anything like that. "Did he? Save you?"

"I think I confused him at first. How many six-year-olds did you see walking around after dark in search of a bottle of whiskey? I'm not sure why he stayed," Xander frowned. He wasn't sure why he'd left either. "He pretty much took care of me for seven years. Got me out of the house when it got too hard to stay, gave me presents. Then he fucked off. End of story."

"Why?" Spike's eyes were trained on Xander. He had this underlying feeling that a lot more was going on. "If you cared for him, why didn't you go out and find him? You said Giles kept tabs on the bloke."

"He fucking left me! I wasn't going to run after him," Xander said. He looked down at his coffee, avoiding this Spike's gaze. His Spike could always tell when he was lying and he didn't want this one to know that he'd looked for Spike for weeks before he gave up. He'd started searching again after he met Buffy. He only truly stopped when Giles told him Spike had come all the way to Los Angeles and then left again, without even a word to Xander.

"He fixed you, and then he broke you," Spike said softly. The silence told him he was right. "I'm sorry. Sorry for what he did, yeah?"

"Yeah," Xander whispered. Spike walked past him to put his mug in the sink and Xander waited to hear the kitchen door close. Instead, he felt a hand rest on his shoulder a moment before Spike marched out of the room. "Yeah," he repeated to the empty room. "I still miss him though."


Several weeks later, after they'd determined they couldn't safely send the new Xander back, at least not yet, Spike came down the stairs and found him sitting in front of the telly. "Something you can't pry yourself from, or want to go out?" He swung his leather trench coat around his shoulders, and looked over at Xander. "A bit of patrol, and then Willy's to take the edge off."

"Willy has a bar in LA?" Xander exclaimed. "Man, I haven't seen him in years. He used to call me a tasty morsel until you punched his lights out once. I didn't think anything of it until I was older. Did you know he sells crispy human skin to flesh eating demons?" he grimaced.

"I have it on good advice that he gets the skin from the morgue so no humans are injured in the process." Spike was positively gleeful when he sprang that on Xander. It was strange how similar and different he was from the Xander Spike knew well. Neo-Xander was a bit more mature and serious, had a foul mouth, and a cursed tendency to use acronyms known to no one but himself and his precious disappearing Spike. And he was lonely, even a blind man couldn't miss that. "You coming, or you got a date with the set," he jutted his chin toward the telly.

"Hell, yeah! They only let me out of the house three days ago! Something about fucking up this reality. At least now that they're not sure when I'll go back I can get around a bit," he said. Some time in the past couple of weeks he'd slid back to the rambling way he addressed Spike back when he was thirteen. This Spike was so much like his own it was easy to just pretend that he'd come back for him, that his own Spike was there. "Think we can grab a burger on the way?" he asked, "I'll even order an extra side of fries so you can snag them off my plate."

"Erm... thanks?" Spike gave him a quizzical look, did he really expect him to be grateful for the pleasure of probably buying the burger and fries and then 'stealing' from his plate, the same fries he bought. "More of a biscuit man, really." Ushering him out the door, he locked it. "We'll cut across the old Hollywood Cemetery."

"You always steal the...right. Sure, the cemetery sounds good. We might get some slaying in on the way," Xander forced a smile and started down the street, fast enough to walk in front of Spike.

"That's the idea." Spike lengthened his strides and caught up. "You're far too serious, like you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders. That's the Slayers' job, yeah? Blokes like us, we’re here to enjoy our stint in the world. You missing your world?" He gave Xander a sidelong glance. "They're working on it ... Red's beside herself for ruining your life. And Xander..." he laughed, "he's pushing to send you back. Not too comfortable with having a twin about."

"He's okay enough," Xander shrugged, "Of course he's okay enough, he's me. I'd probably freak out too if he showed up in my world being all straight. Hey, did you know Willow was gay here? Now that is weird."

"'Bout as weird as you being, I reckon," Spike grinned and gave him a speculative look. "Have to keep reminding myself you don't have the hots for the Slayer. Hard, that... trying to unwind history in a way."

"Yeah well, at least you're not running this time." Xander shrugged. He had let the past go. Of course it was easier to do when he was back home, with no Spike around to keep reminding him. "At least Buffy's still Buffy, complete with monster crush on Angel," he laughed.

"There's no accounting for taste," he heartily agreed, refusing to touch the other comment. He had no idea what the other Spike had done, and he had an inkling that Xander's story was filtered through the eyes and perceptions of a child.

They reached the gates of the cemetery, and climbed up and over. Spike dropped down and waited for Xander, then they made their way through the statues and tombs gleaming under the moonlight. It was still, but the stillness was like the eye of a hurricane. Spike put his finger to his mouth, and looked around. "Something's off..."

"What?" Xander asked, immediately tense. He was as average a fighter as his counterpart but still, an average fighter was better than no fighter at all. He looked around, trying to see something, but everything seemed normal. "What?" he whispered again.

Suddenly, Spike's arm shot out, grabbed Xander by the jacket and pulling him inside a crypt. The crypt was dark, and very narrow, holding only the ashes of various members of a family. "Don't make noise," he repeated, pressing against Xander to be able to look out the narrow crack in the door. "Think we got more activity than we bargained for."

"FAVs?" Xander asked curiously, pushing against Spike in his attempt to peek outside.

"That's not very PC." Damn it, he was starting to talk like the boy! Gritting his teeth, and smiling at the same time if it were possible, Spike pointed out a part of the cemetery that appeared to be crawling and moving. Black satin robes shifted and moved, came together in a large circle. "Demons. Not sure what they're up to, but can't be good."

"Not if they're all decked out in satin it's not!" Xander exclaimed. "Is there a human sacrifice?" he craned his neck trying to get a better look. There didn't seem to be anyone but the demons. "Think we can take them or should we call for back up?"

"Think we stay put, watch what they're doing and let Giles and crew know. Unless someone's about to be hurt, there's no use jumping into that." What he didn't add was, especially with Xander in tow. He'd never fought at the boy’s side and had no idea if he could keep up his end. Even if he hadn't been around, the number of demons out there might have given him pause. "They're chanting... maybe it’s a fertility ritual, and nothing to worry about. Other than you getting pregnant," he smirked in the dark.

"Spike! Not even for a joke," Xander shuddered. "Not to mention all the other things, where would it come out of? My ass?" He grimaced at the very thought.

Xander looked around the crypt. There was nothing particularly interesting about it. Dusty marble tomb, check. Spider webs in the corner, check. Cranky vampire at the door, well, okay maybe that was taking a bit too far but Xander was used to crypts with vampires in them. The only thing that was interesting this time was that the vampire in question wasn't about to have him for dinner. "So we're stuck in here then?"

"Until they're done." Giving a nod, Spike relaxed against the wall. There didn't seem to be any immediate cause for concern, and he'd keep an ear out on the goings on, try to get a few words of the ritual to give Giles something to go on. "Let's hope it doesn't go on for hours. You that hungry?" he asked, remembering Xander wanted his burger and fries.

Xander shrugged. "Guess I can wait. Better wait to eat than be eaten right away." He looked around the crypt again. "Well, this should be nice and boring."

"Got something else to do? Right, you were watching the telly. So... what do you think of this dimension? Things you like, hate?" he cocked his head, studying Xander's profile.

"I don't know. It's fairly similar," Xander said as he clambered onto a pedestal. He settled down with his legs down one side, swinging and tapping against the marble. "I miss my friends. The ones who don't look shocked when I say I like the way the mailman’s ass looks in his shorts."

"Do you, now? Especially when he bends over to pick up his mail bag..." Spike chuckled. "Have it on good authority that the UPS guy's better looking, works out, what with the carrying of the packages. Or so the girls say." He glanced outside, then looked back. "I don't know what issues you had back home, but it’s not the concept of being gay that shocks them... it's that they grew up with a very straight Xander. You a demon magnet, like him?"

"I heard about the ex-vengeance demon," Xander grinned. "At least Harry didn't go around slaughtering people for a thousand years or so. He was half Brakken. Had the most interesting...ahem...never mind. Other than him, no demons. Though I did have the biggest crush on you when I was a kid. I figured that was why you left actually. He left. Your world’s Xander is right, this is confusing," he concluded.

It's what he'd thought, that there had been more to Xander's feelings toward his world's Spike. "Yeah, it is." He gave it some more thought, then touched Xander's shoulder. "You've been worried all this time you disgusted him, git..." he shook his head. "Poor bloke probably didn't want to be known as Chester The Molester, yeah? Unlike some broody vampires who think nothing of carousing with a young Slayer, some of us, namely me, have a conscience. Right, maybe not that, but a bit of self respect. Maybe not that... erm. You get the bloody point."

"He wouldn't have! I would never, he wouldn't, I mean he was like a dad...oh." Xander somehow felt smaller than he'd ever felt in his life. "I didn't mean to make him leave," he said softly.

"Not you. Him." Pausing, Spike licked his lips. "I don't have the finest track record for making snap decisions, you know?"

"Yeah, you always were a bit of an idiot," Xander replied, a small smile playing on his lips.

Spike made a sound of disagreement. "Odd though. That he didn't eat you... turn you... something. Wonder what you had on him."

"I was an LLC. You probably felt sorry for me or something."

"You were a what? What's with the bloody acronyms... they're annoying, I tell you." He frowned, trying to work it out. "Lilly livered cur?"

"Only if you have a thing for Captain Sparrow," Xander smirked. "Little lost child," he explained, "You couldn't handle saying something so soppy so you changed it. I couldn't swear, you couldn't be sweet," he laughed.

Giving an exaggerated shudder, Spike answered, "Beginning to hate me already." What sort of full blooded master vampire would latch onto a human and help out without... right... vampires named Spike. His gaze sharpened. "You should find him. When you get back. Clear the air, yeah? Seems important to you."

Xander looked down, avoiding the concerned, determined expression, eerily similar to his own Spike's.

"I thought about that. But then...I know about vampires now. I know what he's capable of. What if," he paused, working up the courage to continue, "what if he doesn't care about me anymore. I'm an embarrassment really. What kind of vampire rescues a little lost child?"

Spike gave a shrug. "Could take your Slayer along for protection. I'm betting you won't need it but..."

"If I take Buffy with me he's the one who's going to need protection. You know Buffy, slay first, ask later."

Xander jumped to the floor and went to peek out the door.

"I think they're gone," he noted.

"Right. Nothing's ever simple. Why should this be any different." He listened for sounds, and nodded that it was safe.


Four hours later, Spike leaned on Xander as they walked back to the house with a lot less money in their pockets, and too much alcohol in their blood. It had been a long time since Spike had anyone who'd go drinking and card playing with him. Clem was a distant memory. Angel... the tosser was too good for that sort of behavior now days. But Xander... Xander from another dimension, now he knew how to play, how to flatter, and how to keep the drinks flowing. And not once did the words 'you've had too much' slip out of his mouth.

"What about 'row row row your boat'... sing that where you're from?" he slurred, looking at the human. "We could wake up the bloody neighborhood. Could be fun."

Xander found that an absolutely amazing idea and commenced to sing. "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream!" he yelled, "Belts out, pants down, isn't life a screaaaaam," he finished with a flourish.

He grinned drunkenly at Spike. He'd been the one to teach Xander the song in the first place and his twelve-year-old self had found it incredibly amusing.

Never one to be outdone, Spike sang all the louder, “pull ‘er panties to the floor, and show ‘er something more.” Course his vulgar hip movements caused him to stumble about a bit.

Xander snickered loudly, partly because of the lyrics, partly because of Spike's ungraceful stumbling.

"You're such a geek, Spike!"

"Who're you calling a geek, mate?" Spike clapped Xander on the back, using him to keep himself steady. "I'm not the one with all the bleedin' achronyms... That Medrosha demon was about to pop you when you called him a GPP... what the hell is that?"

"It was a compliment," Xander protested, "Great poker player, I said, not cheating asshole. Which is what he was, by the way," he said, pointing repeatedly at Spike to emphasize his point.

Laughing, Spike agreed. "I got no problem with that so long as he's cheating and losing... Did you see Willy's face when you joined the game? Our Harris never did that..."

"Your Harris never had you to infla...infu...effect his early years. You were a bad, bad role model." Xander nodded to himself and stumbled forward, into their doorway. He blinked up at the door for a few moments. "I think we're here," he said, confusion evident in his voice. "When did we get here?"

Spike just managed to get the door opened, then looked at the stairs. “Don’t think I’m going to make it. See you in the morning...” he started toward the sofa, “don’t mind the shouting, it’ll just be the Slayer yelling at me for the bad example I’m setting for Bit.”

"No, no, you have to come up," Xander whined, "Up to my room, up" He grabbed Spike's wrist and tugged him towards the stairs. "Up," he repeated stubbornly.

“Your room... tiny.” But it was one floor lower than Spike’s. “No, I’ll just...” This Harris was stubborn, and Spike was a bit too far gone to show him his own stubborn side. It was easier to just let him drag him up the stairs, and maybe, just maybe, Spike made it a wee bit more difficult than it had to be.

Xander smiled smugly as he pushed Spike into his room. He wasn't exactly sure why he was so happy at getting Spike here but he was very sure he liked it. "Bed now," he said happily.

“Bed... yeah...” Even as the room blurred, Spike automatically started to take his shirt off. “If I catch the person who put crazy glue on this...” he muttered, having trouble and struggling to get it the bloody hell off.

"Idiot," Xander laughed, after successfully managing to get his own shirt off. He stepped close to Spike to help him, but somewhere in the way he stumbled and crashed straight into the blond, sending them both sprawling on the bed.

Curses flew from Spike’s mouth, but they were muffled by his clothes. “You’re TAH... very TAH... that would be...” What the fuck had he meant? His head hurt as he thought about it, “’Terrible at helping’, that’s what.” He sat up and tried to pull the shirt off over his head again. “Would be easier if you got your bleeding leg off me,” he added, realizing what was the weight he was feeling pressing down on him.

Xander giggled against Spike's chest. "You're making up stuff!" He wriggled in an attempt to get off of Spike but only managed to get halfway there.

Spike snorted, “Being a git like you is what I’m doing.” Finally pulling the material off his head, he found one of his hands tangled with Xander’s who’d also been tugging. “Well? You going to help with the pants?” he demanded.

"Oh-kay!" Xander chirped. He reached down and tugged violently at Spike's top buton, nearly throwing them off the bed in the process.

Giving a loud protest, Spike smacked his hands away. “Bloody hell, don’t you know how to get a bloke’s pants off?” Bristling at the manhandling, he tried unsuccessfully to work his zipper. “Again with the bleedin’ crazy glue...”

"I know how to get a bloke off," Xander sulked. "It's the stupid crazy glue."

He reached out again and this time managed to tug the button free. "See?"

“Zipper,” Spike said through gritted teeth. “Zipper has glue, button was fine.”


Xander frowned down at Spike's crotch. He reached down again and tried to get the zipper. "I can't get it, it's too small," he complained, still trying to get hold of the tag.

“Too small?” That stung Spike. “What... you come from the land of giant cocks?” Looking as surly as he felt, he pushed Xander’s hand away, and this time gave a determined tug on his zipper. Now all he had to do was pull the damned pants off and he could sleep. He got it down to his thighs. “Think you can manage a little thing like getting me off... it off... pants...” Bloody hell, his tongue wasn’t doing what he commanded.

"Hmmm?" Xander hummed, staring down at Spike. "'s not bad," he decided after a moment's contemplation. "Right. Pants. Off!" he enthused once he realized what Spike wanted. He tugged maniacally at the jeans until they were down to Spike's ankles.

“What do you mean ‘not bad?’” Frowning, Spike managed to get the pants past his ankles, and looked over at Xander, “everybody’s a critic these days.”

Xander simply shrugged his response. "Mine's bigger," he noted, eyeing Spike's cock again, "Yours is thicker," he added.

“Is not. Mine’s the biggest, thickest bloody cock ever, and that’s that.” Flopping back, he smirked, “else you wouldn’t be staring. Or hiding yours.” He was right, as right as always.

"Is not!" Xander cried, mortally offended. He immediately reached for his own trousers and tried to get them open. "Show you," he muttered as he tried. "Spike, there's crazy glue," he whined after a moment's failed efforts.

“Course there is,” Spike scoffed. “Nice excuse, yeah?” Mustering up some energy, he got up onto his elbow, and concentrated on undoing Xander’s belt. “Bastards got the buckle too,” he muttered. A few long moments later, he had the zipper down and was laughing. “Who wears red shorts?”

"I like them, they're silk," Xander replied, drawing out the 's'. He wriggled and pushed until both his shorts and trousers were down to mid-thigh. "Help me!"

Groaning, Spike did as Xander requested. “Bloody hell... it’s bigger than your hand,” he admitted, getting a good eyeful, as he tossed the pants off the bed.

"Toldja," Xander said, grinning down at himself. "Sleep, now?"

“Mmms, sleep, yeah.” As he started to lay back, he felt Xander’s arms close around him. Confused, he blinked. “Crazy glue on your hands now?”

Xander just pulled Spike closer. "'s too hot," he complained, "you're nice and cool."

Finding his body flush against Xander’s, Spike’s mind protested again. “But... not a cooler here, yeah?”

"Whatever you say," Xander whispered sleepily. Spike was so close and his lips were so pretty parted like that, he thought. The next moment he was pressing his lips against Spike's, tongue darting out to get a taste.

“Harris...” Spike’s protests died once they were mouth to mouth, tongue slipping against tongue. Acting on instinct, he cupped Xander’s chin and held him in place, as he slowly, and very thoroughly fucked his mouth with his tongue, vaguely aware that the temperature was going up and that his body was tightening... hardening...

Xander was suddenly wide awake and getting more so with every move of Spike's lips against his own. He wrapped his arms around the blond, tugging him even closer to his body. He could feel Spike's chest against his own, their legs tangling together. Then Spike's lips slackened.

"Spike?" Xander whispered, pressing his lips against Spike's neck, trying to recapture the passion.

No reply from the blond.


He leaned back to get a look at Spike. The blond snored in response.

"Well, fuck."

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