The Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Disclaimer: Dude - if I was Joss Whedon or I belonged to Sanddollar entertainment, do you think I'd be a broke fat kid that still lives with her mom? Nuh-uh!
The Rating: PG-13 which is probably a journalistic first for me.
Spoilers: Set in the summer between "The Gift" and "Bargaining" though the actual detailed spoilers are few.
Summary: Everything about that summer was backwards, rivers flowed up hill, cats chased dogs around trees, and Buffy was dead.
Warnings: This is my sort of... "between the wars" fic. I used to specialize in these insightful little character pieces that were all about this length, and I thought I'd get back to that. I sought to explain why after the Glory Debacle, and working together for months on end Spike and Xander were still hissing at each other like scared alley cats through the beginning of season 6, and so if it's incoherent that's probably because half the story is still in my head.

All Wrong

Rayne Jelly

That summer nothing was right, which seemed to explain and excuse everything. The birds didn’t chirp, the house plants all died, and the dead wreaked havoc in Sunnydale. They were trying so hard to just keep things to a manageable level, so hard just to survive and what was left of the scoobies was having a impossible time of it. Tara was slowly regaining her mental prowess, there were long and terrifying moments in the Summer’s house when she forgot who she was completely and simply began to scream until Willow could turn on a light, and the house remained the Summer’s house though Dawn was the only one left.

That summer everything had ground to a halt, except for all of life which seemed to obstinately go on in Buffy’s absence. There was still work, there were still chores, there was still breathing, and eating, and sleeping, and demons to stop from doing those things. Spike was helpful, a godsend really, taking out his anger and his angst on the various demonic inhabitants of Sunnydale – and so it was no real surprise that he wasn’t taking care of himself, and even less of a surprise when Xander shrugged and drove him home one night – he and Anya had a couch, it was no big deal, for once they could all sympathize. And Anya wasn’t happy, but she never really was unless she had something to complain about, so they all shrugged and got on with not getting on with their lives.

Anya worked more than any sane woman should, she spent all of her time at the Magic Box while Giles fell into a bottle and tried his best to drown. Willows magic was improving drastically, and in the afternoon when her classes let out she sat at the oak research-party table and studied whatever suited her mood. Anya was company that frankly didn’t care about her grief, and it was a nice change for them all.

Xander was busy in his own way, packing as much productivity into an eight hour shift as he could possibly manage – he showed up early, he left late, he worked himself into exhaustion - returning home sweaty and calloused, and he didn’t care who he flopped next to on the couch so long as there was room for him. Under the bruises of hard work and demon fighting the injuries Glory had left them were beginning to fade, and Xander could no longer tell one scar from another, which was fine by him.  One very early morning that summer as he was preparing for work Spike stumbled in bloody and limping heavily, and Xander didn’t think to complain about the mess on the carpet, only asked whether Spike had killed it or not, and as it turned out the vampire had.

There wasn’t animosity between them per-se, just that old spark of “I hate your species” and the familiar grudge that screamed “You tried to kill me” – both old arguments and a lot of snark. Spike held his leg still while Xander wrapped a roll of gauze around it, trying to push the vampire’s ankle back together, but it was already on the mend and he remembered how Buffy used to heal quickly, and how fucking unfair it was. He was trying not to mention it, trying not to mention her at all – since she was buried it was done, and nothing any of them did was going to change that – because Spike got this look… and the look was indescribable, and painful, but it just slipped out. Buffy: You both heal so fast, I’m jealous. And Spike’s face fell away from a grimace of pain and into a grimace of hurt: not fast enough, he said.

Xander was covered in blood, Spike’s, demons, and the distinction was there whether Xander wanted it to be or not, dirty and gory as a non-participant could be, and so he gave into the urge to hug the vampire, for whatever it was worth, and the vampire hugged back. Hugged back, and took several deep breaths, though he didn’t need to, and steadied himself enough to give Xander a different look entirely, one filled with strength and determination and a little bit of indignation at having been so blatantly cuddled. He had his pride after all, and when Xander cocked an eyebrow his pride led him to push himself towards the young man and kiss him: You have to finish what you started. It was not the kiss of the century – but when he pulled away there was a dare in his cock-sure grin, and Xander could never turn down a dare. The next kiss was better, and the one after that until Spike could walk properly again and Xander had to go wash the blood off – he wasn’t more than fifteen minutes late.

They didn’t let Anya know, ex vengeance demon, vindictive girlfriend, outspoken member of the Scooby society – the logic in that department was very clear, but her presence in a relationship didn’t stop it from happening again either. Their relationship, such as it was, progressed from that first morning on the couch, from a sarcastic and experimental twisting of tongues to heavy, frantic petting and grinding against one another and every time the little death came to claim them it was startling, because that wasn’t really what they were there for. Xander didn’t think it was about Buffy, and Spike tried not to think either.

The mindlessness and the deception made it better, more worthwhile, the sex was desperate, the need to touch flesh, be with someone and inside someone that didn’t care, or didn’t know what the heart was doing, or feeling, and didn’t want to – it was good, it was mad, and in the early afternoons before Anya got home while Spike was still on him and inside him, sticky, cold, and panting, Xander thought this unacknowledged affair of his was the only thing he had.

It was an affair, he realized one afternoon, a deviation from a committed relationship after he had promised himself never to be like his father, because he loved Anya with everything he had, and Spike was just there. A friend, a fuck, someone who didn’t turn to him after sex and expound on the joys of life and how much he appreciated it now that he knew what death was. It was sex, and it was good. It was late summer by then, and by then it was too late to stop, he knew every inch of Spike’s skin and every curve of jutting bone, and it didn’t seem to matter that he was cheating on his fiancé. It was that same afternoon that Willow called him, slipped the idea of resurrection in his ear, and he thought of the look on Spike’s face any time someone mentioned Buffy, the crushed, aching look of failure and grief – he was in.

Nothing about that summer made sense, the whole world was upside down and backwards, the rain poured up, the sun shone cold, and in the very end, when all had been said and done, when Willow had spat snakes, and when the world was jarred abruptly and disconcertingly back onto it’s axis, Spike slammed him against the brick wall of the Bronze and demanded, “Why?”

To which he could only answer, “Probably for the wrong reasons.”

Author's Note: As an interesting side note, and because I am a complete dork - the length of this story (not including warnings, disclaimers, or titles) is exactly 1,234 words long.

The End

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