Title: Nothing the Same
Pairing: Spike/Xander, eventually
Rating: PG for now
Feedback: yes, please
Concrit: any and all
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: AU from The Harvest. Xander doesn't deal well with Jesse's death and everything changes from there.
Notes: Based on the plotbunny posted here awhile back by wickedchocolate. I took the first part of the bunny only: Xander never got over Jesses death. After he dusted him he was never the same. Xander isolated himself from Willow and wanted nothing to do with Buffy.
Previous parts here
Xander kept walking, away from the library, away from Willow, and away from the school altogether. He needed to think about what had just happened and he needed to figure out what he was going to do.
All he knew right now was that he didn’t want Spike and Buffy getting into a fight. The worst part of it was, if they did, he didn’t know who he wanted to win.
That was really a lie. All he knew was that he really didn’t want Buffy to kill Spike. The problem was he didn’t really want Spike to kill Buffy either. If anyone had given him a vote, he would have picked Door Number Three - no fight at all.
And how sick was it that he could see both sides of this issue? Whatever else they were, vampires were intelligent, sort-of-living beings. The Slayer was someone who existed solely to kill vampires. Killing a Slayer was just self-defense for them. But vampires killed people, so wasn’t the Slayer just the person charged with stopping them from committing murder. Realizing he was starting to consider whether Buffy had the right to kill a vegetarian vampire, and wondering if that was what Angel was, Xander took a firm grip on his out of control thoughts.
Would Spike leave town if Xander passed on Buffy’s warning? He didn’t know but he kind of suspected the answer was no. Spike didn’t seem like the kind to back down from a fight. And anyway, he didn’t want Spike to leave. He wanted some kind of peaceful resolution to the situation. Too bad no one was asking his opinion.
By now, Xander was running, his feet carrying him blindly through the town. The slapping of his shoes on the sidewalk and the sound of his breath coming in harsh pants followed him relentlessly as his body tried to outdistance his racing thoughts. For a long time, there was only the feel of air moving against his face, drying the sweat beads that rolled down his forehead, and the ache growing in the muscles in his legs.
He stumbled to a halt finally, crumpling to his knees on the grass, breath rasping harshly in his lungs. He knelt there, head down, gasping for air, his hands clutching spastically at the grass, until the air no longer burned in his lungs and the sweat had cooled and dried on his body. Finally, he sat back and looked around. It didn’t really surprise him that his blind flight had brought him to Jesse’s park.
“Jesse, man, I really need to talk to you.”
Willow went back through the doors of the library and found Buffy and Giles waiting for her. Thankfully, Cordelia was gone.
“Buffy, we need to talk to Angel.”
“Yes, Willow, we have been discussing that. I have asked Buffy to bring Angel here tonight. If Xander is correct,” Giles shot a quelling look at Buffy who reluctantly closed her mouth and subsided, “we need to find out what Angel knows about Spike.”
“If he knows anything,” Buffy muttered.
“Buffy, Xander doesn’t lie. Not about important stuff. I know you don’t know him but I do, and I’m telling you: Xander wouldn’t lie about something like that. He could be wrong but he wasn’t deliberately lying.”
“I’ll get Angel here but I’m sure it’s all a big misunderstanding.” With that, Buffy picked up her books and headed back to class. Willow and Giles traded troubled looks behind her, but let it go. They’d find out tonight what Angel knew.
“I don’t know what to do, Jesse. I want to warn Spike but… I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. He’s a vampire. He kills people. It’s what vampires do, I know that. And I can’t pretend he doesn’t just because he hasn’t done it in front of me.”
Xander sighed and scrubbed at the dried sweat on his face. “It’s crazy, but he’s become kind of a friend. He’s the first friend I’ve made since you died.” He laughed bitterly. “Which just goes to show how completely insane my life’s become.”
He fell silent, wondering what Jesse would tell him to do. A half smile twisted his lips as he thought that Jesse would probably smack him upside the head and tell him he’d lost it completely. And Xander sure wouldn’t be able to tell him he was wrong.
Xander thought back, trying to find the moment when his life had gotten this out of hand. Like always, it came back to the moment Jesse was vamped. Everything had skewed and tilted from there and nothing had been the same since.
And sitting here, his thoughts churning, waiting for advice from beyond the grave wasn’t solving anything either.
“Jesse, I miss you so much.” Tears burned in his eyes and he swallowed around the lump in his throat. “Things were a lot simpler before…” A tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it away impatiently.
Remembering what he’d told Spike, Xander continued after a moment. He needed to finally say this out loud. “I’m sorry I killed you. But I don’t think you’d have wanted to be a vampire. And I know you wouldn’t have wanted to kill me.”
He got to his feet. “I wish none of this had ever happened and I wish you were still here. Even if it was just to tell me to stop being a dork.” He scrubbed at his eyes with both hands. “I’ll never forget you, Jesse. But I’m not going to come here as often anymore.” Xander blinked back a fresh wave of tears. “I think you would have wanted me to stake you. And it’s time I learned to live with it.”
The tears escaped despite his furious blinking and he stood looking down at the spot where Jesse’s ashes were buried, simply letting his tears fall. As his vision blurred, he realized he’d made up his mind.
Spike had helped him get to this point, where he could say goodbye and start to move on. He owed Spike. And he knew what he was going to do.
Willow slid into the seat next to Buffy and gave her a small smile.
Learning that Angel was a vampire had initially freaked Willow out. Before that, he had been the perfect romantic figure: handsome, mysterious, appearing out of nowhere to warn Buffy of danger. She had been fully behind Buffy’s crush on him. Willow was embarrassed now by how easily she had accepted the fact that he was a vampire. If anything, it had made him more romantic: the tortured soul trying to make up for his past sins. She had defended him to Xander; saying Angel was going to have to prove himself. And, up until now, he had. He’d fought by Buffy’s side and had helped save her life from the Master.
If Xander was right, and she had a sinking feeling that he probably was, Angel had a lot of explaining to do. Angel knew Buffy and Giles were worried about Spike and that they had been trying to find out more about him. The only explanation he’d given for Spike’s attack on him was that he’d known Spike a long time ago and that Spike had been angry over the death of another vampire.
Looking back, Willow couldn’t believe she had accepted that. She couldn’t believe Buffy had. Buffy had been worried about Angel’s injuries from the fight with Spike and had spent a lot of time nursing him. Willow and Giles had seen very little of Angel since Halloween night and researching Spike had gotten pushed to the back burner when Ford disappeared. It was only recently, when they’d found out about the now-disbanded Sunset Club and Ford’s obsession with vampires, that they had stopped looking for him on the assumption that he’d been vamped. With that behind them, they’d begun looking for information about Spike again but no-one had thought to question Angel any further.
Well, that was going to change tonight, Willow thought grimly. Angel was going to tell them everything he knew about Spike. If Spike got the chance to hurt Xander because Angel was withholding information, Angel would regret it.
Xander knocked loudly on the door, his cross clutched firmly in his right hand ready to bring it up to ward off any threats or non-cooperation.
When the door finally opened, he was ready. Shoving his shoulder into the door, he made sure it couldn’t be closed on him, even as he pushed his way past the startled vampire. He took two long strides into the room and spun around, the cross half raised.
“We need to talk,” he said, ignoring Angel’s scowl.
Giles slapped the book closed, exasperated with himself. Why hadn’t he consulted the Watchers’ diaries before now? The information he’d found in them about Spike was profoundly troubling - he had fought and killed two Slayers already. Equally worrisome was the fact that Xander was quite likely correct: Angel had clearly spent many years with Spike shortly after Spike was turned, including being present in China when Spike had killed his first Slayer. Even if Angel was not actually Spike’s Sire - the diarist was unclear on which vampire in the small group had turned Spike - the vampire clearly had more information than he had been sharing and that had very disturbing implications.
Drumming his fingers along the book’s leather spine, Giles wondered if he had been wrong to allow Angel and Buffy’s relationship to continue once they had learned he was a vampire. Looking back, it was difficult to understand how he could have let things slide for so long. He had allowed himself to accept Buffy’s view of Angel when he should have questioned it more.
He would reserve judgment until tonight, but Angel had better become far more cooperative than he had obviously been in the past.
Angel stood by the open door for a moment, but finally closed it and turned to face Xander. “What do you want?” he asked, not bothering to hide his irritation. Which was fair, Xander had just pushed his way into the man’s apartment.
“It’s about Spike.”
“What about him?”
“Buffy wants to stake him.”
Angel looked away. “He’s a vampire.”
“Newsflash, dead-boy, so are you.” Xander found he was bouncing his free hand nervously against his thigh and shoved it into his pocket. “Look, Angel, I know you’re Spike’s Sire.”
Angel looked at him sharply. “That isn’t your concern, boy. Stay out of it.”
“Don’t give me that crap about minding my own business. Buffy just made this my business. Spike’s my friend and I don’t want him to get killed.”
“What do you expect me to do about it?” Angel leaned back against the wall, arms folded, his face unreadable.
“Do you really want your girlfriend to kill your Childe?” Xander asked incredulously.
“No,” Angel finally said with obvious reluctance.
“Then help me. I don’t want the two of them to fight either.”
“I’ve already told Spike to leave town.”
“And knowing Spike that probably went over real well.” Xander shook his head in disbelief and his voice rose sharply. “Hello - she’s your girlfriend. Have you considered asking her not to kill your Childe? A lot of people would think that wasn’t an unreasonable request. The only reason Buffy’s so hot to kill Spike is because you and Spike got into a fight and you apparently keep talking about how dangerous he is.”
“Spike is dangerous.”
Xander pulled himself back. Leaning into Angel’s space and yelling at him didn’t seem to be working real well. More quietly, he asked, “Have you even seen him recently? Well, other than your fight. Do you have any idea what he’s like now?” Something flickered in Angel’s eyes and, for a moment, Xander thought it looked like guilt or maybe regret.
“I know what he’s like. I made him what he is.”
“Bullshit. People change. You can’t tell me vampires don’t. I’ve talked to Spike a lot recently. If he’s as dangerous as you say, why hasn’t he killed me?”
“Spike has always gone his own way. He’s unpredictable and violent and he could kill you without thinking the next time he sees you. Don’t think you know him, boy.”
“Fine.” Xander waved his free hand in a dismissive gesture. “Let’s just go back to the part where we agree we don’t want Buffy to kill Spike. Would you talk to her, ask her to call off the war? At least get her to agree to not attack Spike unless he attacks her first. Or you,” he added as an afterthought. Xander thought about promising Angel that he would ask Spike to back off as well, but he had a feeling that would just lead to another round of “Spike is dangerous” and “mind your own business”.
“I’ll talk to Buffy,” Angel agreed.
That was probably the most he was going to get. “Thanks.” Realizing he was still holding the cross openly, which was probably considered rude in vampire circles, Xander shoved it back into his pocket. He started towards the door, then hesitated. “Umm, I kinda already told them you were Spike’s Sire. You may be hearing about that.” At Angel’s exasperated sigh, Xander bit his lip to stop himself from smiling. “I’ll just let myself out.”
In the hallway, Xander let out a long relieved sigh. That had actually gone much better than he’d thought it would.
Spike had been aware that his boy was waiting outside the factory for some time now. Xander was positioned too conspicuously for it to be an accident, waiting in the slanting rays of the late afternoon sun about a block away and watching the door of the factory.
For a wonder, one of the minions on watch had pointed him out to Spike. Spike had gone to one of the windows, keeping well back from the sun and had easily made out Xander’s figure standing out in the open. He studied the boy curiously for a moment then took the opportunity to lay down the law.
“The boy’s mine,” he began casually, not missing the minion’s surprised look but ignoring it. “Pass the word along - anyone touches him, they don’t just die; they die slow and they die screaming.” He shot a hard glare at Joseph, “I’m holding you responsible for putting the word out. I have plans for the boy and I won’t be happy if you lot interfere.”
Joseph nodded quickly and backed away. “I’ll round everyone up and have them come take a look so they’ll know him.”
Spike just nodded and looked outside again. Once he was alone, he allowed a small pleased smile to surface. Xander had come looking for him. He checked the angle of the sun - it would be at least a half an hour before he could go outside. He pulled a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and settled down to wait near the window, keeping an eye on his boy.
“Spike, can I talk to you?”
“’course.” His boy was vibrating like a tuning fork, nervous tension showing in every line of his body. Spike tilted his head, indicating they should walk as they talked.
He’d left the factory as soon as the sun was fully down, strolling with deliberate casualness over to the waiting figure knowing that the minions were probably watching. Xander’s wary caution had relaxed slightly as he’d seen Spike leave the factory, but he had waited until Spike was close enough for normal human conversation before speaking.
As they began to walk, Xander glanced back at the factory. “I was pretty sure you were living there. Glad to know I was right.”
“Moved in after the night we met.” Spike confirmed briefly, it was obviously not the subject that had brought Xander to the factory. He walked in comfortable silence, waiting for the boy to say what had led him to seek Spike out.
“So, I hear you and Angel got into it.” Xander’s continued tension gave lie to his casual words.
“Poof been whining about it?”
Xander shook his head. “I heard it from someone who was there.”
“Yeah, bit of an audience for that one.” Spike fished out a cigarette and lit it, keeping his tone neutral. He wasn’t interested in discussing what had happened that night. The raw emotions that had spilled out were still there inside him, only lightly covered by new scar tissue. It was a barely healed wound he didn’t want to prod at, lest it break open again.
Xander flicked an anxious sideways glance at him. “Buffy - the Slayer?” he waited for Spike’s nod before continuing, “yeah, stupid name. Anyway she’s pretty pissed off about you beating up Angel, because he’s her boyfriend and all, and she found out we knew each other because someone saw us talking the other day and well, she’s threatening to kill you.” He stopped for breath and seemed to be waiting for a response.
“Nothin’ really new there, pet. Slayers and vampires have been killing each other for thousands of years.”
“Yeah, well, see that’s my problem. I don’t want you two to kill each other. I kind of did something that I’m hoping you’re not going to be mad about.”
Spike was amused. “Killed the Slayer for me, did you?”
“What? No! Not really big on killing, you might have noticed that. I, umm, I talked to Angel.”
“You what?” Spike felt a growl start and knew he was close to shifting to true face. He turned golden eyes on Xander who remained annoyingly unimpressed about being glared at.
“No, it’s cool. He said he would help. He’s going to talk to Buffy and ask her to leave you alone.”
Spike was so surprised he lost control and vamped out. “Angelus is going to ask the Slayer not to fight me?” He stopped and stared at Xander while he processed that. Shaking his head, he shook off his demonic visage and returned to human. The boy watched him steadily, unshaken by the change.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure you think that none of this is my business, but I really, really don’t want you two to fight.” Xander’s eyes were anxious and he shifted uneasily under Spike’s stare but didn’t look away.
Xander’s brows shot up. “Why don’t I want you two to fight? How much time do you have? You two fighting is bad on so many levels…” He checked himself and looked away, color rising in his cheeks. “It’s actually really selfish,” he said, far more quietly. “I don’t want either of you to kill each other and…” What Spike could see of Xander’s face darkened even more. “andIdon’twantyoutoleavetown,” he muttered in a rush.
Spike smirked, his incipient anger vanishing with that admission. “Fond of me, are you, luv?” he asked smugly.
Xander lifted his head, relief breaking over his still reddened features. “Don’t take it the wrong way. I had a turtle once I was really fond of too.”
Spike just made a scoffing noise and started walking again, Xander falling into step beside him naturally. “So, the Great Poof is going to intervene on my behalf.” He said eventually. Spike carefully buried the fact that Angelus taking any interest in his life pleased him. 100 years of neglect couldn’t be made up for with five minutes of caring, after all. Poof’s probably just worried about his bint, he thought to himself sternly, although that thought brought the smug conclusion that Angelus thought Spike would win if he and the Slayer got into it.
Striding along, Spike felt inordinately pleased with his unlife for the moment. Only later would he wonder why he felt no resentment at Xander’s interference. For now, it was enough to bask in the fact that his Sire must care after all and that his boy liked him.
He gave Xander a cheeky grin. “I can live with a truce for awhile,” he said casually and was rewarded by the smile that lit Xander’s whole face.