"I was twelve. They were drunk."
No need to ask who 'they' were, Spike thought darkly.
"It was supposed to be a joke. Uncle Rory was complaining about being horny, and not having enough cash for a hooker. Dad offered me. Said I was pretty for a boy--he was right, I was--and that Uncle Rory would never know the difference. Dad meant to embarrass me. He was always telling me I was too pretty to be a real boy. He meant it as a joke."
Xander's voice had gone flat and quiet. Spike wondered which one of them Xander was trying to convince.
"Only... Uncle Rory was too drunk to know that it was supposed to be funny. He came up to my room after I went to bed."
Spike didn't want to know the rest of the story. Growing up in the streets of London he had known children who made their living selling it. Often it was the father making the arrangements. It had never happened to him for two reasons. Three, actually: his mum was a widow, so there was no man in the house; and he made enough thievin' and picking pockets that he'd never had to sell his arse. And he was good with his fists, as several of his chums' dads had found out, after they'd tried it on with young William. It hadn't happened again. Not until Angelus.
Right, Spike said to himself, we are not going there again. This isn't about you. Xander needs to tell it, so you, mate, are going to sit here and listen.
"You know what the worst part was, Spike?" Xander turned his face toward Spike, but his eyes were unfocused, staring into the past.
"Instead of just bending me over and doing it, I got the Uncle Rory Royal Treatment. That's what he kept calling it, the Uncle Rory Royal Treatment. Like if he said enough sweet things, if he petted me enough, he could make it better than it was. Like he could make it something that it wasn't. Like he could make me like it."
Xander's voice, eerie and distant, gave Spike goosebumps, and he could feel the tiny hairs at the back of his neck standing on end.
The misery and sadness were rolling off in waves, and his demon roared. Spike waged a brief battle with himself, torn between comforting Xander, if that were possible, and venting his rage.
Somehow, when Spike wasn't looking, he realized that Xander had gone from 'enemy' to 'not enemy' to 'friend' to 'my friend'. And smart people left things that belonged to Spike alone. Chip or no chip, the Harrises would pay for their mistreatment of his friend. If the zap-the-chip thing didn't work, Spike still knew a few assorted demons who owed him favors. He'd cash those favors in with Harris blood if he had to.
Tentatively, he tugged on the hand still clutching his. Xander slowly slumped over, until most of his upper body was lying across Spike's lap, his head on Spike's thigh, entwined hands pinned under him. Spike used his free hand to brush the hair out of Xander's face, then put it comfortingly on his shoulder.
"What happened next?"
He could feel the fine shivers running through the body in his lap slowly fade as he rubbed Xander's arm.
"By the next morning, Uncle Rory had sobered up and realized that the whole thing wasn't a figment of rotgut gin. He spent the next three days crying and puking. Never apologized, though. Then he climbed back into his gin bottle and hasn't come out since. Hasn't spoken directly to me since then either."
"What did your folks do?"
"My dad blamed it on me. Told me I was a fag while he was waling on me, and that it was my fault Uncle Rory was a fag too. He broke my collar bone slamming me against the kitchen counter."
A thought occurred to Spike. "Does Red know about this?" She was the most likely to. She and Xander had been close since childhood and even if they weren't as close any more, Xander still considered her family. Come to think, maybe Giles was better than he thought. He would never hit the boy, or hit on him, either.
"No. I never told her. She went with me to the ER to have my collarbone fixed. She knew my dad did it, but she didn't know why. He didn't usually need a reason. I've never told anybody."
Xander's voice was low and slurred. Spike could hear his heartbeat slowing, could smell the sadness being replaced by sleepiness. He stroked Xander's hair gently.
"It's funny, y'know? I always liked Uncle Rory. Before that, I mean." Xander tumbled over the edge into sleep as Spike continued to stroke his hair.