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|| Bloodclaim ||
You know they're doin' it
31st-Jul-2005 11:00 pm
velvet scandal
Author: Nasty_shrew
Title: Wanderlust
Rating: 13
Genre: Angst, schmoop
Notes: Feedback, please? This is my first attempt at Spander in ages.

Summary: Xander searches for a home in a world that he just can't quite fit in to anymore.


“I’m sick of this.”

He’s cold, his nose is running and there’s unpleasantness in spades. Xander hates Europe. Europe hates him. He’s too loud, his shirts too ugly, uncomfortably foreign. The sun is pale and dying and the wind slices across Xander’s face whenever he steps outside. Oh, and it turned out that British people had no Twinkies. Or Tootsie rolls. Or beer that didn’t taste like puddle-water. Old puddle-water.

“How about Africa?” Giles asked, glancing over a delicate china cup. Xander had already broken four. His hands were too big and the tea was too strong.
“Africa?” Willow asked from her seat by the fire, cheeks tinged pink, legs slung over the arm of her chair. She and Buffy … they had slid between the crooked buildings and flourished in the bustling high streets. They knew to say pavement instead of sidewalk and petrol instead of gas. Xander was a lumbering nuisance, providing jokes they’d already heard and trying to fix things that weren’t broken. Xander felt like he’d been invited to a ball only to discover he couldn’t dance.

“Africa probably won’t have Twinkies either, but I’m opting for weather that doesn’t make me want to die.”
A week later and Xander is on a plane for the second time in his life, a plastic eye and a cross round his neck.

Egypt is hotter than he’d expected. And not the Paris Hilton sense, in the very literal sense. California could get pretty damn hot but Egypt had something else. Raw heat, thick and stifling in the night but with air so dry you can barely breathe at the height of day.

He meets Steven in the hotel lobby on his first day there. He has his sexuality crisis in the hotel cafe on his second day. He’s attacked by a vampire in the hotel pool on the third day and he has sex with Steven in his hotel room on the fourth.

Life’s too short – he’s learning that.

He’s stopped wearing the fake eye by the time he gets to Botswana – too much hassle, and it tends to wander in the wrong direction. Xander would rather have a patch than be ‘that crazy guy with a beard and a lazy eye’.
He’s kidnapped in his second week there, strapped to one of the rocks in the Tsodilo hills – an offering to some big ass demon with a name that sounds like ‘Lickypat’. Some things never change.

He manages to slit the throat of one of his captors with it’s own knife and runs for his life. Hours later, he realises his hands are covered in thick copper crimson. It’s only then that he realised he’s killed a man. A ‘he’, not an ‘it’.

Things change.

Xander loses half of his left foot in Mozambique. He’s sent to a hospital in Maputo and it’s there that he’s told he’s lucky he didn’t lose his whole leg. He asks about the slayer he was sent to recruit, toothy smile that cracked across her face and long black eyelashes, the girl who pushed him out of the field of landmines.

He thinks his heart might stop beating when they tell him she wasn’t so lucky.

Christmas comes and goes – Willow is upset that he didn’t come up to visit (“Yes Xander, I know I’m Jewish but … it’s the principle!”). He explains he couldn’t, that he was tracking a slayer in Ghana. He tells her that he saw the Ashanti king (“… and there I was, totally confused ‘cause I thought Ashanti was a singer!”) and smiles into the phone like she can see him.

He doesn’t tell her everything. He doesn’t really tell her anything. She knows.

The distance between seems larger than ever.

Buffy calls him when he gets to Angola. She wants him to come home. Xander laughs, bitter and unfamiliar. He reminds her that their home is a giant pothole.

He gives up on finding this slayer within a few weeks. The war has left too many orphans, hundreds of small calloused hands reaching up to grab his shirt, pleading for the heavy coins he doesn’t have. He wants to take them with him, take them to Disney and feed them ice-cream, a perfect day for children that probably didn’t have many left.

With every face he turns away, he’s sure some part of him dies.

He gets shot in his left calf when he goes to Burundi. It’s an odd sort of pain and Xaner thinks he may laugh himself hollow at the possibility that his eventual demise would be attributed to a scared kid with a gun.

He lies on the hospital floor with his arm over his face and kicks away the doctor who tries to touch him with gloves already stained in another patient’s blood.

AIDS is no longer just a word.

They don’t recognise him at the airport. Three years, and they don’t recognise him. He makes a joke of it, tells them he knows he’s been totally assimilated – he’s a proper pirate now, what with the eye patch, the beard and the limp. He grins as he throws his arm over Giles’ shoulders and pretends he doesn’t see the tears in the Willow’s eyes. It’s easier that way.

He knows he shouldn’t be surprised that Dawn is a woman now. But he is, regardless. She hugs him tight and whispers that she knows he’s there somewhere beneath the beard.

He doesn’t tell her that he’s not sure he is.

Three weeks later Giles asks him if he’d be willing to take a package to LA. One look at the amulet and Xander knows it could have been sent via DHL. He’s infinitely grateful Giles has offered him this small escape, a few weeks away from the worried glances and the awkward pauses that had never been there before.

He promises the girls that he’ll call and is shocked when he realizes how much he’s looking forward to leaving even when the prospect included handing a package to Mr. Broody Sonuvabitch. He blames prolonged exposure to the sun. Must have fried his brain.

“You … you’re …” words fail and Xander settles for poking Spike with his cane. He has a cane, now – fun new Xander feature. It’s made out of ebony, he’s carved it himself.

“Oi!” an indignant squawk and Spike takes a few steps back. Into sunlight. He folds his arms, unconcerned by the penetrating glare of light that isn’t making plumes of smoke rise off his skin.

Xander needs a stiff drink.

“You’re such a light weight,” Xander observes, amused as Spike wobbles dangerously on his chair after three beers and a couple shots of Jack. They sit in the corner booth and Spike’s hand is on the nape Xander’s neck and neither of them are sure as how it got there.

“Bugger off. ‘M human. The rules have changed,” he slurs, rolling his shoulders, legs splayed.

“Yeah,” he says. “They have.”

Xander has had a lot of one night stands in the last three years. He’s always the one to wake up to an empty bed, pleasant memories soon to be forgotten. That’s the way it works, and he’s a man who’s come to appreciate routine.
So when he opens his eyes, he’s startled to meet blue ones.

“Didn’t expect you to stick around,” he says into the silence. Spike shrugs, the sheets gathered at his hips as he sits up to lean against the head board. He cocks his head, stares at Xander with uninhibited curiosity.

“How’d you fuck up your leg?”

Xander feels sure there’s a catch to all this - because it can’t be this easy. It can’t be that he can sit like this – watching INXS reality show on a Friday night with Spike’s head in his lap, pulling his fingers through soft curls and snorting at the jeers and popcorn hurled with vehement loathing at the singers. He’s sure there’s a shoe about to drop. That there’s going to be a moment when Spike will look at him and ask for something he won’t give. Can’t give. Xander is afraid he’s going to regret this decision. He already regrets getting cable. The day after he had it installed, Spike grinned at him and started calling him ‘House’.

He listens to Spike tell him about how he discovered Michael Hutchins was into vampires that way and calls ‘bullshit’ rights. He knows that he’s home, for now at least. And that’s enough. Hell, at least this time there are Twinkies.

31st-Jul-2005 10:24 pm (UTC)

I loathe the whole concept of Shanshu, just so you know, but damn.
Love this. Love Xander and his world and his hurts and his changes. Yes. Minefields and genocide and killing a man... And the Scoobies thought they had it bad.

Love Spike still SPIKE and them just guys. Nice.
Damn, girlie, this is sweet.
5th-Aug-2005 11:00 am (UTC)
Heee! See, I detest Shanshu, which is why I made myself write it. So very pleased that you liked it noticed my attempts at keeping Spike SPIKE.

Thanks hun! *huge smooches*
31st-Jul-2005 10:35 pm (UTC)
That's the sweetest seems like the wrong word, but someone it's a bittersweet satisfying piece of fic that leaves this sweet aftertaste. Wow, you've reduced me to bad metaphor here. I just want to pet poor Xander and tell me to stop waiting for shoes because he's home.
5th-Aug-2005 11:01 am (UTC)
I just want to pet poor Xander and tell me to stop waiting for shoes because he's home.

My mission has been accomplished, then :)

Thank you.
31st-Jul-2005 10:38 pm (UTC)
That was exellent. Just the right amount of black humor to go with the darkness invading Xander's life. I think what a lot of people don't get is that these characters evolved, they had to. Hell, we watched them grow up right in front of our eyes and that wouldn't have stopped (at least in writer's heads) when the credits of the last show rolled. Africa held two options for Xander, it would either destroy him utterly, maybe literally, or it would have tempered him like a sword in fire.

He wants to take them with him, take them to Disney and feed them ice-cream, a perfect day for children that probably didn’t have many left.
With every face he turns away, he’s sure some part of him dies.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, but sometimes, being stronger isn't the best thing.

Hoping to see more lovely Spander from you.
5th-Aug-2005 11:03 am (UTC)
Africa held two options for Xander, it would either destroy him utterly, maybe literally, or it would have tempered him like a sword in fire.

That is a beautiful description and verbalises exactly what I was trying to do. *snog*. ;)

31st-Jul-2005 11:03 pm (UTC)
Great writing, babe - the black humor, the Twinkies theme - gotta love the Twinkies theme.

Favorite moment? Spike asking what happened to Xander's leg - utterly casual and them being guys together.
5th-Aug-2005 11:05 am (UTC)
Well who doesn't love Twinies, seriously? :)

Thanks so much for mentioning that section - I was a little insecure about it. *smooch*
31st-Jul-2005 11:14 pm (UTC)
5th-Aug-2005 11:07 am (UTC)
Thank you!
31st-Jul-2005 11:14 pm (UTC)
This is just wonderfully written and sort of bittersweet. Really high quality Spander here! You did great!
5th-Aug-2005 11:09 am (UTC)
Thank you - I started off bitter and then didn't have the heart to torture Xander that much so I snuck the bit of fluff at the end ... I'm so happy you liked that sort of bittersweet aspect. *hug*
(Deleted comment)
5th-Aug-2005 11:15 am (UTC)
I'm glad you noticed my efforts to show the world can be just as ugly as any demon - I tried really hard not to go overboard with that concept.

Thank you!
1st-Aug-2005 12:38 am (UTC)
Oh, my God, you really ARE back! *twirls you around and snogs you silly*

One thing right after another - I can't even begin to quote. I LOOOOOVE your broken, or dented, or just plain bent Xander!
5th-Aug-2005 11:17 am (UTC)
Wheee! *enjoys being snogged silly*

"or just plain bent Xander"

Hee - pun fun!

Thank you - I've always been facinated with Xander and well ... I like beraking pretty things ;)
1st-Aug-2005 12:59 am (UTC)
There's gotta be twinkies.

:) Loved this.
5th-Aug-2005 11:18 am (UTC)
Life's not Life without twinkies ;)

Thank you.
1st-Aug-2005 01:11 am (UTC)
Ohh. I just loved the whole matter of factness. It happened, he dealt and then something else happened.

SO so good.
5th-Aug-2005 11:21 am (UTC)
I tried to distill the experiences to ward off my tendancy to go all purple prose-y, so thanks for mentioning my effots :)

1st-Aug-2005 01:43 am (UTC)
You make me cry with jealousy. And you give me living, breathing Xander who isn't nice and is often mean, and dies a little bit more than people like Buffy and Willow and Giles do, because he doesn't have a Calling to line his fall with. And that scene in bed was so real that I could taste the musty air of two boys who don't understand how to open windows and don't really care.

THank you.
5th-Aug-2005 11:24 am (UTC)
Oh, wow.

Your comment is beautiful. And so very touching.

Thank you. *snuggles*
1st-Aug-2005 01:56 am (UTC)
That brought tears to my eyes. I'd have loved it even without Spike. Xander - so lost, waiting to find out who he's gonna be. Love that boy.

You just keep getting better and better.
5th-Aug-2005 11:30 am (UTC)
Woah - I'm amazed and touched.

And yeah, gotta love that boy. Poor thing. He probably hates me - I break him at least once a week, just for kicks ;)

Thank you - if it weren't for your pimp I doubt whether I'd write quarter of the stuff I do. *glomps*.
1st-Aug-2005 02:06 am (UTC)
loved it!
the poor two lost boys who never could find home, finding it together
giles was really good in this too, poor guy
5th-Aug-2005 11:31 am (UTC)
*Yay* for mentioning Giles - bless 'im, I tried to keep true to a Giles!voice.

1st-Aug-2005 02:14 am (UTC)
Beautiful -- sad and real and satisfying.
5th-Aug-2005 11:33 am (UTC)
Thank you - I do try to keep them as true to reality as one can when dealing with demons and Shanshu :)
1st-Aug-2005 02:19 am (UTC)
Oh, that was sweet. I can't wait to finish Nessuno so I can write the bois again.
5th-Aug-2005 11:34 am (UTC)
It's like seeing old friends whenyou re-visit a pairing :) SO much fun.

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