None So Blind
"I don't need the fucking greedy bastard. He's just like all of the other whores before. Take me for what he can take, use me for what he can use, and then leave me when he wants to fucking leave me. The little shit never gave a fuck about anything more than himself, and being able to say he was fucking that name on the marquee. Fucking him, and fucking him over." Spike threw his whiskey bottle across the room to smash against the wall.
"Jesus, Spike, you have fucking lost it, man. I swear to God if we didn't have a show in ten minutes, I'd tie your fucking drunk ass down until you're sober, and then watch as I tell you just how fucking wrong you are." Spike glared at his manager, Gunn.
"d'like to see you try to tie me down, Charlie boy. Then again it might be fun." Spike leered at him.
"Put that shit away, Spike. You know it don't work on me, not to mention you ain't got the time, and I don't poach other people's lovers."
"What other people are you talking about, Gunn. I got no other people laying claims on me, now do I? Boy took what he could get and took off, he did. Little shit bled me as dry as he thought he could get away with, and then just took off."
"Spike, I'm your friend, and as your friend I'm telling you one last time, put that shit away right now, or you're gonna spend your entire first set trying to pick up your teeth instead of singing."
Spike glared at him. "Are you taking his fucking side? How'd he buy the loyalty? Was it the same way he tried to buy mine, with a lousy ass blowjob? Maybe a handjob? Lord knows a loser like him had enough practice at that sort of thing to at least make that good."
The next thing Spike knew, he was being picked up off the floor, while he listened to someone on the PA announce the show had been canceled.
After he had managed to drink more than an entire pot of coffee and gained the ability to sit quietly for more than ten seconds, he found himself across the table from a stone faced Gunn.
"You sober enough to keep your fucking mouth shut?" he asked coldly. When Spike only nodded contritely his expression softened, slightly. "I got a couple questions I want you to answer for me, Spike. How long has Xander been touring with us?"
Spike took a minute, trying to think past the pounding in his head and the throbbing in his very tender nose. "Bout three, four months mebbe?" he asked.
"Ten months, Spike, boy's been here just a couple days shy of ten months."
Spike's forehead crinkled as he thought about that. 'Had it really been that long?'
"Now, Spike, what sorta job did you hook him up with while he was here? Maybe something easy that pays good? Or did you just set him up with some kinda expense account?"
Again, Spike didn't know what to say. He didn't ever remember the boy actually accepting money, the few time's he'd thought to offer. He did remember suggesting some sort of job, though. Xander'd said something about not really being qualified. "If the boy didn't wanna work, who'm I to give him an allowance?"
"That 'boy' wandered around before and after gigs, troubleshooting, fixing equipment, running food and paperwork, loaded and unloaded gear. Not to mention all the star wrangling he did keeping your ass outta the rag sheets when you were too drunk or too stoned to realize you were being a fucking idiot in public. At least twice he talked your way out of a night in jail. If he were anybody else doing even half that shit, I'd be paying him at least a thou' every couple weeks or so, not to mention expenses."
"So how much was he milking me for then?" Spike asked with a sneer.
"Not a fucking dime, you jackass."
"Wot, you got him running around doing all that shite and not botherin' to pay him?" Spike asked confused.
"Oh I offered man, believe you me, I offered. He said that shit wasn't a job, it was just him helping out where he could."
"So he didn't take nothin'? What about that other stuff, whaddaya call it again, expenses. Boy got to tour the world on my dime. Hotel rooms ain't cheap ya know, and don't you tell me he weren't eatin'. Boy was always last one still at the feedin' trough." Spike said, trying desperately to hold onto his anger.
"Yeah hotel rooms." Gunn sneered. "He always stayed with you, moron. Unless, of course, you found something you liked better for the night. Then he'd either spend the night in the lobby or the bus. And yeah, he was always last one eating, cause he was always the last one to start. I ain't never once seen him even look at any of the food spreads until after everyone else had started, cept the time's he'd fix plates for people who was too busy or too lazy to take their egotistical ass down to get their own food. You know why he ate so late all the time, Spike?" He shook his head. "I didn't either, not for a long time. Then I figured it out, he only eats when he knows it's shit that's gonna get tossed out anyway."
Spike just looked at him, stupified.
"That's right, Spike, that's how much he's using you; he's working for free to make everything run smoothly for you, sleeps in strange places so you have privacy to cheat on him, and only eats the shit we're gonna throwaway anyway, and the one fucking time he needed something from you, you act like he's a fucking traitor and throw him out."
"He said he was leavin' me, what am I s'posed to do, thank him for it?" Spike snarled.
"You know, you really are a fucking idiot." Gunn said shaking his head. "Boy told you he had to leave, not that he was leaving you. Course you never once shut the fuck up enough to let him explain, did ya? No not big, bad Spike. You threw his ass out and told security not to let him back in, then got totally fucking shitfaced and missed the first concert you've missed since the two of you got together."
"Boy said he had to leave, that sounds pretty fucking clear to me, Gunn."
"Yeah well as I already said, you are a fucking idiot. He had to leave, had to go home. That woman he said was like a mom, Joy or something, well apparently she's bad off. They found a tumor and the doctors are gonna operate on Monday. He had to get to the greyhound station and get a ticket, so he could be there for her."
"Joyce is sick?" Spike asked. He dropped his now very pale face onto his arms for a few moments, then straightened up in his seat and began barking orders. "Cancel everything for the next two weeks, reschedule, reimburse, whatever you need to do, just get me a clear slate. Then make arrangements to get us to Sunnydale, yesterday."
"What are you going to do?" Gunn asked.
"I'm gonna make sure the finest lady I know has top rate care, and then I'm gonna make sure Xander Harris gets what he's owed."
"And what's that?"
"Well, I figure first he's owed the right to punch my lights out, then, I'd say he was due for me to get my head right outta my arse and show him how much I love him. Now go get the ball rolling."
"Sure thing, boss." Gunn said, climbing to his feet.
He was almost to the door when Spike's voice called him back. "Oh and Gunn, the next time I start acting like a complete fucking wanker, could you not wait ten months to point it out?"
"You got it, boss."
He didn't care.
Nope, he wasn't going to think about it.
Jesus, why couldn't he just stop thinking about it?
It's not like there weren't other, more important things to think about. Like how Joyce was, and how he could help Buffy and Dawn, and how the hell that son of a bitch could-
He was not going to think about how angry that jackass made him. Instead he'd just watch the scenery and not think at all.
Nope, no thinking for the Xan-man. No thinking at all. Not gonna even consider why his chest hurt and his head and he couldn't breath right and he felt so fucking betrayed that-
Fine. He knew a lost cause when he saw it. Stupid brain wanted to think about that bastard, he'd think about him. Think about the months he'd wasted following Spike around like a stupid fucking puppy. A puppy too dumb to leave when he was kicked, too stupid to realize he wasn't wanted, but not important enough to bother getting rid of. Maybe he should feel proud. After all he was finally worth the bother. Spike made sure he couldn't beg his way back in.
Boy didn't that just fucking chaffe, ordering security to keep him out, like he was one of the obsessive groupies he'd helped protect Spike from for the last few months. Or worse, like one of his used lays. That fit though didn't it? Sure he'd managed to stick around longer than the one night tumbles Spike would pick up from time to time, but that didn't make him any better than them, or even luckier. That just meant he knew what he had lost better than they did.
God, he just wanted to forget the shit that had become his life. He wanted to forget Joyce was sick, and forget his heart was broken, and forget every other fucking crap thing. Not for the first time, he wished he could follow Spike's dubious lead and just drink or smoke or snort his life away for a few hours. But of course he knew how that shit fucked Spike up, and if something could fuck up a master vampire, then it certainly wasn't for the likes of Xander 'the loser' Harris.
Xander looked out the tinted bus window and watched the empty night and wasn't crying. If his face was wet, well, that was just condensation from the window, or sweat, or anything really, but it sure as hell wasn't tears. He was not going to be that person. The person crying cause his 'sort of, somewhat, when he was convenient' boyfriend finally decided he wasn't worth his time. He could accept he was a loser, but please don't let him be that pathetic.
He fell asleep with his head on the window, with the sounds of the bus's tires on the road, and tears streaming their way down his face. He fell asleep and he dreamed about the past. Spike settled in to his seat, belt fastened like a good little passenger, and wished to Christ he could have a smoke, or a snort or anything really to take his mind off of just how badly he'd managed to fuck things up with Xander. He'd known full well the boy was broken before anything had ever started. He'd let his own bullshit get in the way, and that might just cost him the best thing he'd ever had.
God he hated flying. Crap movies, crap food, crap attitudes. Not to mention the crowding, the poncy security guards, and the bloody limit on booze. He was a fucking vampire, two little bottles of Jack was not going to cut it.
Finally he'd had all he could take, awake wasn't an option anymore. He either needed to get some sleep, or he was going to end up holding the next smiling bint who declined his requests for booze hostage until they made with a large amount of tiny bottles.
He shoved the pathetic pillow under his neck and wrapped the scrap of cloth they saw fit to call a blanket over himself. Ten minutes later he was asleep, and several stewardesses were looking much calmer. It seems passenger number 12 B had been growling at them everytime they walked past.
As he lay there, breathing every few minutes, he started dreaming about the past.
Anya's screams for help and Willow's somehow accusing silence haunted him while he tried door after door. He knew he could find help here somewhere. Someone who knew the Initiative, someone who could help him save his girlfriend and his best friend from them. Someone he'd ran off, with his smart mouth and his insults. Instead of help, all he kept finding were his failures; Harmony and Larry's bloody corpses, Cordy with a piece of rebar in her chest and hatred in her eyes, Faith sneering at him so he knew how he just wasn't enough.
Every night he searched and never found the one person he was looking for, the only difference this time was that very person was who woke him up. Now that it was much, much too late.
"Hey, whelp, you really should consider getting that witch of yours to uninvite scary vamps like me after you let them sleep over." Spike said with a mild sneer. He hadn't left on the best of terms, but he sure as hell wasn't expecting the punch to the nose that the Harris git gave him.
After picking himself up off the floor and straightening his well busted nose, Spike glared at the man now glaring right back at him. "What the shit was that for, wanker?"
"Where the fuck have you been, Spike? It's been two fucking years and we needed you and you just fucking left, you son of a bitch. You left." Xander was fighting back both rage and tears. He really wasn't completely sure who the rage was meant for.
"Course I left. You lot wanted me gone, so I found an elsewhere to be. You couldn't have made that any clearer if you'd have tried." Spike said, warming up to his self-rightous anger now.
"We didn't want you gone, asshole. In fact I spent way too much time trying to find your undead ass. Angel said you'd been by, but that he didn't know where you'd gone off to. We needed you, hell I needed you, and you were just gone and we couldn't find you and it's all your fault, you bastard." Xander his lost battle on both fronts as he began crying and punctuating his words with fists pounding on Spike's chest.
Spike's anger fell away, cause this was Xander Harris, and Xander Harris didn't cry, let alone on vampires he hated. Something had happened, something so bad that it had broke Harris' spirit, and despite his still evilness, knowing something hurt the boy who'd took him in and still respected him enough to fear him even with the chip, well that just pissed him off.
He started running through possibilities in his head, while he catalogued the contents of the basement around him. It was even more dismal than before, and honestly he hadn't thought that would be possible. It looked like a Rahatath nest; dirty clothes and broken bits of things thrown in anger and abandoned to time, and old wrappers and boxes from food lacking any semblence of nutrition, and worst of all it reaked of dispair. There was no sign of demon girl's things, and no pictures anywhere, although he was pretty sure that broken bit of frame in the corner had held a picture of him and the witch and the slayer once upon a time.
He realized the boy was crying himself right back to sleep in his arms, and Spike let him. Once the boy was out, he'd go get the rundown from the one person, besides Xander, he figured he could getaway with visiting, Joyce.
"Red's catatonic? And they dissected his bird? Those bleedin' bastards! Er... excuse the language, luv."
"Lord knows I've called them worse, Spike. I'm just so very greatful they didn't get their mitts on Buffy or on you again. Who knows what they'd have done."
"That's the thing, though. I may not like it, but I understand why they'd come after me, and the slayer for that matter, but why go after Red or Anya? They were both human." Spike said quietly.
"According to the files they found when they managed to pull Willow out, they were looking for physiological changes caused by Anya having been a demon, or by Willow's magic. I'm so glad poor Tara managed to get away. She and Oz are trying to make a go of it. They were both in love with Willow, and both of them blamed themselves. Tara for not keeping Oz out of the Initiative's hands, and Oz cause they were coming in to rescue him. They're taking care of Willow, you know. Neither of them would hear a word about putting her in some sort of private care."
"I know losing Red and his bird would be a big hit for Xander, but he's really bad off Joyce. It's been almost two years. Boy looks like he just got the news."
"Xander tried to stay tough. Losing Anya hurt him, but Willow was the real hit. You know they've been friends since kindergarten, right? Well, the more time that went by without her coming out of it, he just sunk lower and lower. The only thing that got him fired up was the Initiative."
"Slayer was there to help him out, right?"
"Oh yeah, but there was just so much going on at the time. He threw himself into finding the information to bring them down. I guess there were a lot of unpleasant things in the files they managed to get out. Things that had him going through all Giles' books and to just about every source he could find in town. Apparently a lot of non-violent demons were being experimented on and he was determined to save as many as he could find."
"Well that's different. Droopy was always all demons equal bad." Spike said with more than a little bitterness.
"I don't think he knew any better. Rupert told us after everything that he knew they weren't all bad, but that it could cost Buffy her life if she had to worry about this demon or that demon being borderline good. I've never wanted to hit anyone more than when he said that. Trying to manipulate my emotions like that, can you imagine. Trying to say it was better that Buffy kill indiscriminantly, than to teach her to know the difference. Xander still won't talk to him. And now with Buffy cutting him off, I'm worried. He feels so damned guilty, Spike."
"Wait, Slayer cut him off?" Spike asked, astounded.
"He blames himself for everything. He thinks if he didn't run you off like he did, you could have helped them get in and out, without the girls being caught." Joyce started to explain.
Spike looked at her strangely. "Who says Harris ran me off? Sure we had words, but I'm more than a hundred years old, luv. No child is going to run me off if I want to be somewhere. He just opened my eyes is all. Afterwards, a friend had a job opportunity, and I took it."
"Well, Xander doesn't know that. He felt bad right away, even before things went to hell with the Initiative. Came here to see if I'd seen you."
Spike looked at her amazed. "Wait, how'd he know I'd come to see you, luv? I never let any of them know. Your daughter is a mite protective about vampires coming over for tea an' simpathy."
"He followed you one night and sat watching to make sure I was ok. After you left he came in and made sure I was alright with it. Once I said yes, he never mentioned it again." Joyce said.
"He never told?" he asked.
"As far as I know, Buffy still doesn't know."
"What does Buffy still not know, mom? And let's start with why Spike is sipping tea from your good china." Buffy said coldly from behind them.
Spike sauntered up into a defensive stance, but didn't make a move towards her. "Just havin' a cuppa and some gossip with yer mum, Slayer. I got a gig in town and ain't planning on staying more than a couple nights. No trouble for you an' yours and still chipped right and proper," he said, trying to keep things calm for Joyce's sake.
"A gig?" She asked. "Just what sort of gig do you have in MY town, Spike? Another one of your lame-o plans that end with me kicking your ass?"
"Buffy! Language young lady." Joyce admonished.
"Yeah, language, Slayer." Spike sneered.
"William, over a hundred or not, keep that up and I will turn you over my knee."
Buffy slumped down in a chair in amazement as William the Bloody, one fourth of the Scourge of Europe, wilted like a corrected child under her mother's stern attention.
"Yes, Ma'am," he said, taking a seat opposite Buffy, and then reached for his teacup.
Joyce calmly poured Buffy a cup of tea, and sat down at the end of the table, taking a sip of her own cup before she picked up the strands of their conversation. "So a gig? Have you started singing again, Spike?"
"Yeah, this demon I know, Clem, nice fella I'll have to introduce you sometime, anyway, he had a cousin who's band had lost their lead singer to the Initiative. They had a tour all planned and the posibility for a recording contract, but they needed a singer. Clem knew I was at loose ends, and made some introductions. We're pretty popular in the demon venues, and we're just starting to break out in the human music industry."
"That's wonderful news, dear. I'm so proud of you. Isn't that great, Buffy?" Joyce asked her still stunned daughter.
"Huh? Oh, yeah great," she said, without enthusiasm.
"So, Joyce, what was it you were telling me about Harris not patroling anymore. You'd think with the way things were going, that'd be just about the only thing he had left."
"You don't get to talk about Xander!" Buffy screached. "If you hadn't left, he wouldn't be as bad off as he is. I wouldn't make him stop if I didn't think it was for the best. He's going to get himself killed, if he keeps patrolling." Buffy started crying, and then cried harder when she realized who she was crying in front of. "He takes too many risks, especially if there's the chance that something might not be evil, even if they're beating the crap out of him. He was going to get himself or us killed. I just can't lose him too, not like that."
"Joyce, luv, I'm gonna go. Slayer needs you and I need to take care of some things," he said as Joyce moved to hold her daughter. She nodded at him with understanding.
Xander woke with a start. The bus was pulling into one of its infrequent rest stops. He patted his pockets down until he found one that had a few coins in it, and slipped off the just stopped bus with the others seeking the ever elusive working soda machine. Once he'd procured a bottle of Pepsi, made a pit stop in what had to register as one of the nastiest human bathrooms in the state, and stretched good and proper, it was time to get back on the bus.
He slid back into his seat and tried to forget the dreams. He tried to forget the strong arms of a thoroughly irritating vampire, and he tried to forget the first time Spike slid into him. More than anything he just wanted to forget it all, the good and the bad, then maybe the horrible weight on his chest would let up.
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