Summary: While taking care of an injured Xander, Spike takes stock of his love life and comes to a conclusion.

*Important Special Author's note: In the TV show, Buffy gets injured and asks Spike how he killed those two Slayers. We learned a great deal about Spike's past in that show. The thing is, in the show, it happened before all that mess with Glory. In my story, it happens after Glory and Buffy's death and resurrection. Oh, and even though Spike did love her, they never got together.

Worth Knowing


The battle had only lasted about ten minutes. Buffy whooped and bounced about, high on her success. She never felt so alive as when she was fighting demons. The bigger, the badder... the better. She barely glanced at her friends as she said, "Come on, guys. Lets see if we can find some more." Then she took off, hurrying through the cemetary.

When a hand grabbed her arm, she swung around, ready to strike a new foe. She froze when she saw Spike, his face showing concern. "Hang on, Slayer. Your troops are a little worse for wear." He indicated the Scoobies, far behind them. Tara was leaning against a tombstone, trying to catch her breath. Willow was next to her, holding a handkerchief to her injured arm. Xander had given up leaning and slid down another tombstone to rest on top of a grave.

Spike caught her attention. "Look, Slayer, I know you don't care about me. I know you never will. I've accepted that. But I've made a choice to follow you and yours. So I'm going to give you a little advise. All I ask is that you think about it." Ignoring her scowl, he indicated the Scoobies. "You are one of the longest living and most successful slayers. Those people are the reason why. Not just because of their help, but because they remind you what you're fighting for. They remind you that you're human. The problem is, sometimes you forget that they're a little more human than you are. They don't have your stamina and sometimes they get hurt. If you don't start paying closer attention to your troops, you're going to start losing them, one by one." Seeing the concerned look that had replaced the scowl, he said, "Why don't you get the witches home and I take care of the whelp."

She nodded, but before he could move, she put her hand on his arm. "Spike, you're right. I don't care for you the way you want me to. But, maybe, eventually we could be... friends? Anyway, thanks... thanks for reminding me to be human." They smiled slightly at each other and then moved to rejoin the Scoobies.

Spike stood beside Xander as they watched Buffy, Willow and Tara leave. "So, feel up to a game of pool?" He and Xander had been spending a lot of time hanging out, playing pool at the Bronze or watching movies at the boy's apartment.

"Actually, I think I just want to go home."

"Come on, then, I'll walk ya." He started forward, then spun around at a hiss of pain from the boy. "Whelp?" Xander had gone down to his knees. Spike cursed himself. There he was giving the Slayer a speech about paying attention and he didn't even notice the smell of pain coming off the boy.

"It's my ankle." he hissed.

"Right, then." Ignoring the boy's protests, he swung him up into his arms and started carrying him. Although Xander was larger than he was, his vampire strength was more than equal to the task. He easily carried the boy seven blocks to the slightly run down building that he lived in.

As he climbed the three flights of stairs to the apartment, Spike growled, "Will you stop wiggling."

"This is embarrassing. What if one my neighbors sees me?" Xander whined.

"So what if they do?"

"So what? I'm, like, huge and you're so... little."

Spike stopped outside Xander's door. He pouted, "I'm not little. I'm just right. Now get your keys out."

Since the pocket holding his keys was pressed against Spike, it took a little manuvering to get them out. Xander blushed as his hand brushed against a portion of Spike's anatomy that it shouldn't brush against. Spike just smirked.

Once inside, Spike carried Xander into his bedroom and laid him down on the bed. "So, let's have a look." He started to take Xander's shoe off.

"Hey, what are you doing? There will be no taking off of anything." He seemed to realize how high his voice had gotten and tried again in a lower register. "I mean, thank you for getting me home. Now, I'll just take a shower and go to bed... by myself. Alone. In the shower... and bed." He began to blush.

Spike fought the laughter that was building inside. The boy was really quite entertaining. "Sorry, Pet, I'm not leaving until I know you're alright."

In frustration, he scooted away from the vampire. "Spike! I'm alright!" He tried to stand and promptly fell to the floor when he put his weight on his injured ankle. "Oh shit, shit, shit." He moaned in pain.

Spike helped him back onto the bed, growling, "Oh yeah, you're in great shape." He slipped Xander's shoe and sock off and examined the swollen ankle. "I don't think it's broken. You'll need to do twenty minutes ice, then twenty minutes heat, back and forth for a few hours. It should be OK before you have to work on Monday. I'll get you an ice pack and some pain killers." He went to the medicine chest first to get the pain killers. Then he got an ice pack out of the freezer. Fortunately, Xander kept several.

When he came back to Xander's bedroom, he found the boy standing on his good foot, trying to hop to the bathroom. "Hey! What are you doing?" He scooped him up and took him back to bed.

"Spike, I'm covered in cemetary dirt from the fight. For all I know there could be dead people in this dirt. I want to shower."

"Whelp, you can't even stand on that foot. You try washing in a slippery shower, you'll break your neck." He groaned in exasperation. "Look, just sit here for twenty minutes with this ice pack on it. I'll run a hot bath for you and that can be your first twenty minutes of heat. And I'll help you to the bathroom." He gave Xander the medicine and helped him get comfortable with the ice pack, while muttering under his breath, "Don't need you hopping around like a pirate thats lost his pegleg."

While Spike started the bath, he rolled his eyes at Xander's continuous requests.

"Spike, could I have something to drink?"

"Spike, can you help me to the livingroom, so I can watch TV?"

"Spiiike, don't make the water too hot, please."

Twenty minutes later, Spike stood over Xander and glared at him. "You are one high maintenance patient. Come on, bath's ready. Let's get your kit off."

"What!? Oh no. I said there will be no taking off of anything. Just help me to the bathroom. I can take it from there."

Spike sighed. He picked Xander up and carried him into the bathroom. He then set him on the closed toilet seat. "You sure you don't want help."

"Told ya, Spike, I can handle it."

"Fine. Call if you change your mind." With that he walked out and put the ice pack back in the freezer. He then went into the livingroom to watch some TV. Just as he sat down on the sofa, he heard a loud splash, then a call of, "I'm alright! I'm OK!"
Spike chuckled and turned back to the TV.

Thirty minutes later, Spike turned off the TV. Xander should be done by now. He listened carefully, but heard no sounds coming from the bathroom. He quickly got up and went to the bathroom door. "Hey, Whelp... Xan?" No answer.

He opened the door and hurried in. Xander was still soaking in the tub. His head was lying back on the edge and he was snoring softly.
He smiled as he looked down at the young man. He stood for a moment, admiring the handsome body. Oh yes, he may think of Xander as a boy most of the time, but this was definitely a man.

Then his smile faded as he took in the faded bruises, cuts and scrapes Xander had acquired on various patrols. This will never do, he thought.

First, he grabbed some towels and went back into the bedroom. He pulled back the covers and spread a large towel over the pillow and sheets so his boy wouldn't get them wet. He paused. When had he started thinking of Xander as his boy? He shook his head and returned to the bathroom. He bent to gently lift Xander from the cooling water and carried him to the bed.

Being careful not to wake him, Spike dried the young man and tucked him into bed. He kept Xander's injured foot out of the covers so that he could easily switch between the ice packs and hot towels. After securing the new ice pack he took the damp towels to the kitchen. He hung the towels on the back of a chair, he'd heat them in the microwave when it came time to rewrap the boy's ankle.

Spike got some blood out of the fridge and smiled when he saw it was human. Since he and Xander had been hanging out together, the boy started keeping a supply of blood for him and, whenever he could afford it, he'd sometimes get some human blood from Willy.

He heated his blood and went to spend twenty minutes in front of the TV. When it was time, he heated a damp towel and switched it for the ice pack on Xander's ankle. Xander snuffled and mumbled incoherently, but didn't wake up. And that's how Spike spent his night. Every twenty minutes, he changed the wrappings on Xander's ankle, careful never to wake him.

For a little while, he wondered why he went to so much trouble. At first, he thought it was because Xander had become a friend. He'd never had many... ok, any friends. Not real ones anyway.

As dawn was nearing, he lay down next to Xander and began to contemplate all the people in his life, before and after turning. He'd been a frail child, unable to participate in the rough and tumble games the other boys at boarding school seemed to prefer. His father had died when he was very young and Spike didn't have a lot of memories of him. His mother he remembered very well. She had been sweet and gentle. She never failed to encourage her son in his pursuits, be it poetry or the hand of an unattainable girl. Like most mother's, she simply could not see her son as anything less than perfect.

She had lived until his turning. Although she was dying of tuberculosis at the time, it wasn't the disease that killed her. It was Spike. He cringed at the memory of that foolishness. But he'd been a newly turned childe and, like all vampire childer, he'd kept the strongest of his human traites, which in his case was the ability to love. All he'd wanted was to save his mother from the pain and ravages of her illness but what he'd done was turn her into an especially vicious minion. All minions cared about was blood, sex and pleasing their maker. Unfortunately, Spike's youth and inexperience had prevented the bond between master and minion from forming. After only a few moments of conversation with her, Spike knew that there was nothing left of his mother in that thing that had taken up residence in her body and he'd dusted her. To this day, the things she'd said hurt and he had to keep reminding himself that, at that point, his mother had been long gone. To Heaven, he hoped.

As far as his adult peers were concerned, Spike, or rather William, had been something of a joke. Due to his lack of acceptable social graces and his unfailing tendency to drift off into a world of his own as he constantly scribbled out lines of rather awful poetry, he did not fall into the definition of normal society. His father had been a gentleman and, as such, the rules of society required that he be included, thus invited to all activities involving his social class. And so he'd been regularly invited to the many parties and social gatherings of his class, to the disappointment of all concerned. For William hated going to those social functions as much they hated having to include him. That is, until he'd noticed Cecily. Ah Cecily, that beautiful... Bitch!

Spike growled a little as he remembered her. That self-rightious, better-then-thou attitude! William was of equal social standing. He was more than capable of providing for her and any children they might have had. And, most importantly, in a society that devalued women and saw them as little more than property by today's standard, he was a good man who adored her and would have treated her like a queen for the rest of their lives. However, all she saw was a weak poet-wannabe, whom everyone in her acquaintance looked down upon. She perfered the pompus, preening egotists, who sought her company not for any great love of her, but simply to have a pretty bauble hanging on their arm.

Roughly ten years after his turning, Spike saw her again, from a distance. She looked tired and old, but it was definitely Cecily. He had made some inquires and found out that she had married a harsh man, who treated her like a servant and had been seen to regularly verbally belittle his wife in public. It was also rumored that on more than one occasion he'd taken the abuse to a physical level. Other than that, he seemed to have only paid attention to her in order to keep her pregnant. She'd already had seven children. And, of course society frowned on a woman out and about at social functions while in such a delicate condition, so her partying days were long over. On top of that, it rumored that her husband frequently visited the city's more 'fashonable' brothels and had more than once brought home a social disease.

At first, Spike had contemplated making her watch as he ate her family, but, after seeing what her life was like, he'd decided to let her be. After all, everyday she lived with that bastard, she was suffering. And maybe, in the dark of the night, as she thought about how awful her life was, she'd remember a good man who'd offered her his heart. Maybe she'd remember how she'd crushed that heart and thrown it back in his face. Maybe... she'd regret.

Xander stirred next to Spike, drawing him out of his thoughts. The boy reminded him a little of Cecily with his dark hair and dark eyes. Spike had always been drawn to dark beauties, with the occasional sidetrip into blonde territory, like the Slayer. Harmony didn't count. She was just a tool to be used or a toy to play with.

When he determined that Xander wasn't going to wake up, he went back to his thoughts. He supposed that the next stage of his disastrous history of relationships was Drucilla and Angelus. He couldn't think of one without the other. At first, Angelus had been furious that Drucilla had had the audacity to create a childe without his permission. But, after he took a moment to study William's eager expression and beautiful features, he came to realize what fun he could have tormenting this weak little boy. Of course, Spike hadn't realized that at the time. He saw himself as an equal in his new family. He believed that Drucilla was his destiny and his soul mate, despite the fact that he no longer had a soul. He soon learned how wrong he was. Angelus saw any tender feelings William had for himself, Drucilla or anyone else as a weakness to be beaten out of the young vampire. Spike remembered the many occasions where Angelus would show him affection and then suddenly turn on him viciously. It was not uncommon for his sire to chain him to a wall and not allow him to feed for days, sometimes weeks. But, try as he might, Angelus could never break him. Yes, he became hard and vicious, a perfect addition to the House of Aurelious. But, he never lost his ability to love. He just learned to hide it really well.

Drucilla was another matter entirely. He still missed her, ached for her. But he knew that that part of his unlife was over. He'd spent over a hundred years loving her, traveling with her, taking care of her, and for what? She had never loved him. Not really. She needed him and cared for him, but she only loved Angelus. She existed for his attention, no matter how cruel. Spike couldn't count the number of times she'd run off with some demon without any word or indication of her whereabouts. He'd worry and fret for weeks on end, until she'd suddenly show up and act as if she'd been there all along. In a way, her indifference was worse than any torture Angelus inflicted on him. No, even if he did get rid of the chip, he would not be returning to his Dark Princess. He deserved better than that. He glanced down at the sleeping young man. Xander had taught him that.

(Flashback - six months earlier)
He knew it was a mistake, but he couldn't stop himself. He leaned in to kiss her. The next thing he knew, he was sprawled on the alley floor. The Slayer stood over him, fury radiating off her.

"No! Not you! Never you!" Her look of rage turned to disgust. "You are beneath me." She threw the money at him and stormed off.

He sat there, stunned. He slowly began to gather the bills scattered around him, fighting the tears he couldn't seem to stop. He couldn't believe she could be so cruel. He couldn't believe she'd used Cecily's words to hurt him like that. It would have been kinder to just stake him.

As he gathered his money, he noticed someone standing nearby. He didn't look up, hoping the wanker would just go away. But then the person started picking up the scattered bills. "Hey! (Sniff) That's mine!"

"I know." The voice was soft, but Spike recognized it as the Whelp's.

'Great!' thought Spike, 'More humiliation.' But the boy didn't say anything more. He straightened out the bills and handed them to Spike. At first, the vampire just sat there, making no move to stand. He still couldn't look at the Whelp. Then he felt strong hands take hold of his arms and lift him to a standing position.

"Spike, look at me... please."

Spike sniffed one last time, straightened his shoulders and raised his head to look directly in the boy's eyes. He'd expected to see the same disgust he'd seen in the Slayer's eyes or at least anger. Instead, he saw compassion and understanding. Not pity, thank God. Just... understanding. It was confusing.

"I overheard your story." Then he looked chagrinned. "Ok, I eavesdropped."

Spike growled, "What, so now the mocking begins?"

"No, Spike. Buffy shouldn't have used those words against you. And she was wrong. You aren't beneath her. You aren't beneath any of us."

"Uh? You under a spell, Whelp? Maybe we should go find Red."

Xander sighed in exasperation. "Why is it, every time I say or do something different from everybody else, they think I'm under a spell. Don't answer that. Look," his voice softened, "I can prove to you what I'm saying is true, if you'd listen."

Spike put on an air of self assurance, despite knowing it would be seen for the act that it was. "Don't need you to prove anything. I know I'm just as good as you Scoobies, better even. But... go ahead... I'll listen."

Xander smiled slightly. "Ok, here goes. Ever since you got chipped, you've helped us. You've saved all of our lives at one time or another. And yeah, I remember how you helped Adam by trying to tear us apart, but he'd promised to take out the chip. If I'd been in your position, I'd have done anything to get rid of it. I can't imagine how awful it must be to be vulnerable to your main food source. So I don't count that against you. Since then, you've helped us more and more. And don't tell me you had no choice. You're William the Bloody, one of the Scourge of Europe. And I know for a fact that you're a smart guy. The only reason your plans never work is because you have no patience."

"Hey! My plans work... sometimes." Spike pouted.

Xander grinned. "The point is, you're a Master vampire. You could gather all the fledges this town produces and make them your minions, make them take care of you. You don't have to depend on us. But you're always there helping out. When we were up against Glory, Buffy put her mother and sister's safe keeping in your hands. She trusted you with their lives. When we lost Joyce, I didn't realize it then, but you respected and loved her, in your own Big Bad way. And I'm sorry how I acted that night, you know... the flowers and all."

"Not your fault." Spike looked down and shuffled his feet. "She deserved better than a bunch of weeds picked at the park anyway."

"No, Spike, don't say that. They were wild flowers that you took time and effort to pick for someone you cared about. I'll bet Joyce would have liked them best of all."

"Ya think?" Spike asked hopefully.

"Yeah, I do. But back to the point I was making. Where was I? Oh yeah, then Glory captured you. You could have saved yourself. All you had to do was give her Dawn's name."

"I'd never do that!"

"I know. You love Dawn. You'd have let Glory dust you before betraying her. You almost did. I think that's when I realized how different and special you are. You don't need a soul to be a hero. And when Buffy died,... Spike, I remember you crying next to her body. The sun was coming up. If we hadn't forced you to get to cover, you'd have let it kill you. That kind of grief says a lot about someone."

"It says I'm a bloody pounce to care so much about someone who hates me." Again he was pouting.

"It says you have a heart, even if it doesn't beat. But back to what I was saying. After Buffy died, we needed you more than ever, and you were there for us, especially Dawn. Hell Spike, you babysat and helped her with her homework. She'd lost so much in such a short time. You helped her get through it. And I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't helped control the Hellmouth. You know what really gets me? Where was Angel when all that was happening. We could have used his help. And when she died, he disappears, leaving his team to take care of L.A. and us to take care of the Hellmouth. Like he's the only one grieving. We were still trying to keep her little sister, who is still a mystical key, by the way, safe. But the vampire with a soul, who claims to love her, who claims to be a champion for good, blah,blah, blah, was no where to be found. Talk about selfish and self-centered." During this last part, he was pacing back and forth, waving his arms around in frustration.

"Uh, sound a little bitter there, pet."

"Yeah, well, maybe. As far as I'm concerned, you're worth a hundred, no a thousand of him." Sigh. "I guess what I'm really trying to say is", now, he put his hands on Spike's shoulders and looked him in the eye, "You are worth knowing."

Xander took a deep breath and stepped back from the stunned vampire. He couldn't remember a time when Spike had been struck speechless. "I just thought you should know that. And that I'm not the only one to see it that way. Goodnight Spike." He turned to go.

Spike stood very still. He couldn't believe it. It had to be a joke. He'd listened to the boy's praise, believing the entire time that it would end in one of his cutting insults or an 'oh, wait, soulless vampire. Buffy's right you are beneath us'. Instead, he'd received the greatest praise he'd ever received. He was not only better than his sire, he was 'worth knowing'. "Hey, Whelp, I mean... Xan."

Xander turned and looked back.

Spike raised his fist full of cash. "I got beer money. Feel like a game of pool?" he asked hesitantly.

Xander smiled. "Yeah. I could do with a game or two." As he walked back, he said, "But keep your money. As pissed off as Buffy is, you'll probably have to buy your own blood for a while. The beers are on me."

Spike grinned back and said, "You won't find me objecting." They walked back into the Bronze for a night of pool, beer and friendly sniping.

That had been the beginning of some major changes for not only Spike, but the Scoobies as well. Spike and Xander had begun spending more and more time together. Dawn was feeling neglected and spent as much time as she could with Spike and Xander. Giles had returned to England, hoping to force Buffy to grow up. Anya decided that she really couldn't take living on the Hellmouth anymore and had moved to New York. She sent regular emails and seemed happy. Willow was so caught up in her relationship with Tara, she was oblivious to everything. Meanwhile, Buffy's behavior became more erratic and abrasive to both Spike and Xander. And everybody was at a loss as to what to do about it. But, once again Xander seemed to find the answer.

A few weeks after the confrontation in the alley, Spike was going to Xander's apartment to see about renting a movie or two. He stopped outside the boy's front door when he heard yelling. He listened and was amazed to hear Xander cursing at the Watcher. Apparently, he was on the phone because Spike could only hear his side of the conversation.

"Damn you, Giles! Shut up and listen for once in your arrogant, stuck up British life, or else she's going to end up dead, again, and, this time, it will be your fault!... Ok, are you going to listen to me?... Good. I've been doing some research, reading some of Willow's psych books and talking to a couple of psychology professor's at the college... No, I didn't tell them she's the Slayer. I sort of led them to believe that she's from South America and had been in a militia, fighting to protect her family and village since she was fifteen... They don't know she's a blond California girl. It's not like I showed them a picture... Well, it was the best thing I could come up with. How else are you going to describe... ok, ok, whatever. The point is the comparison isn't that far off the mark. I told them about her constant fighting for survival, the loss of her mother, trying to raise her sister, things like that. I talked with them for hours. I learned a lot and put it together with some things I didn't tell them. If we don't do something fast, Giles, she's gonna get herself killed or have a breakdown... Yeah, I know why you left. She wasn't being grown up enough to suit you. And I think you made a mistake... No, just hear me out. How many slayers have lived as long as Buffy? According to your own books, most die within the first year or two. She's been fighting a war for five years. She's faced and averted several apocalypses. She's lost her mother and sacrificed herself to save her little sister. Her best friends dragged her out of Heaven and left her to claw her way out of her own coffin. And God forgive us for that because I doubt I ever will. If she were a normal girl with normal problems, then yeah, you probably did the right thing. But she's not a normal girl with normal problems. From what the professors and the books say, she has a combination of survivor's guilt, severe depression and post tramatic stress disorder. And it hasn't helped matters that she's had to quit college and take a crappy fast food job to make ends meet on top of trying to raise a teenager and go out every night to kill the local baddies. She's exhausted physically and emotionally. She needs help, not to mention a good therapist. Oh, and another thing, I once saw your bank statement. You and every other watcher should be ashamed of yourselves. I know how much the Council pays you. I can't believe you watchers sit around with your noses in your books getting rich while you send little girls out to die without even getting paid... Don't give me that crap about it being a calling and I can hear you polishing your glasses over the phone. If she's the one doing the fighting, the getting hurt and the dying, then she should at least get the same pay as her watcher. Now, I want you to think about what I said and do something about it before it's too late. Bye." Spike could hear Xander slam the phone down.

He hesitated and then softly knocked on the door. When Xander opened it, Spike saw he was redfaced and looked like he'd been crying. Spike just nodded and came in. They didn't talk much that night, but they both got really drunk.

(Present day)

Spike smiled at those memories. Thanks to Xander, the Watcher did indeed do something. He got the Council to help Buffy with her finances, so she was back in college instead of flipping burgers. Both she and Dawn were seeing a Council sponsored therapist, although they were still keeping Dawn's origin a secret. And the anti-depressant medication had done wonders for the Slayer. The last several weeks she'd actually been smiling and acting more like her old self. She'd even been getting along with Spike. And it was all because of Xander.

Again, he looked down at the amazing young man who was the glue that kept everyone together, that made everything right. He saw problems and figured out how to fix them. He'd been doing it for years, like the time he came up with the idea of using a rocket launcher against the Judge. Spike chuckled as he remembered how that had pissed off Angelus. Then his thoughts returned to that night in the alley and his amusment faded as he was overwhelmed by a feeling of awe. Somehow this beautiful boy had made him feel more secure and more cared for than anyone ever had.

Then he groaned and laid down. He stared at the ceiling in sad frustration as he realized that over the past few months, he'd slowly fallen in love with his best friend. It wasn't like anything he'd ever felt for anyone else. It wasn't about possession or dominance. He couldn't even describe what he was feeling. All he knew was that he wanted Xander to be happy.

The sad, frustrating part was that he knew Xander wasn't into guys. All he'd ever talked about were girls. No, if he wanted to keep his friendship with the boy, he'd have to worship him from afar. He'd have to keep his feelings a secret.

Spike lay there for a while and, just when he thought he might be able to get some sleep, Xander rolled over. The young man was obviously still sleep as he wrapped himself around the prone vampire. It was just as obvious that he was dreaming as he dug his erection into Spike's hip and half moaned, half purred, "Spike."

At first Spike could only stare at the sleeping form clinging to him. Then he began to grin as he remembered how the boy had protested Spike's attempt to help him undress. He remembered the blush as he tried to fish his keys out of his pocket. He put his arms around Xander and returned the embrace. Maybe... just maybe, he wasn't the only one having feelings for a friend. Maybe it was time to start moving things forward. Of course, he'd have go slowly. But Xander was worth it. He wasn't just worth knowing, he was worth loving.

The End

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