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 Jesse’s death. After he dusted Jesse, he was never the same. Xander isolated himself from Willow and wanted nothing to do with Buffy.
Previous parts here
Xander opened the library door and slipped in quietly, the raised voices entirely masking the sound of his entrance. Even from outside, the various emotions had been obvious: Buffy defensive, Giles stern and Willow upset. The three of them were doing most of the talking, Angel wasn’t saying a whole lot.
After Spike had agreed to a truce with Buffy, Xander had told Spike that he needed to meet with Buffy and the others and let them know that Spike wouldn’t attack them. Spike had offered to accompany him but Xander had refused. The offer had been made with an air of innocent helpfulness that Xander didn’t buy for a second. From the look in Spike’s eye, it was obvious that the vampire thought the situation rife with possibilities for creating chaos. As far as Xander was concerned, the less contact between Buffy and Spike, the better. If the two never met again, it would be too soon for Xander. Buffy and Spike in the same room was a powder keg just waiting for a match.
Standing unobtrusively off to one side of the library doors, Xander watched the group. Angel had obviously confirmed that he was Spike’s Sire and the news had not going over well. He shamelessly kept quiet, eavesdropping on the conversation.
“What I cannot understand is how you could have remained silent in the face of the danger to Buffy. If nothing else, you were aware of the fact that Spike has already killed two Slayers. How can we accept your professed affection for Buffy if you don’t even warn her of a serious threat?”
Before Angel could respond, Willow jumped in. “We trusted you. Buffy trusted you. How could you do this to her?”
“I’ve already explained to Buffy that I thought Spike only posed a danger to myself. The only time I’ve seen him since he’s come to town, his anger was entirely directed at me.”
“But he almost killed Buffy anyway.”
“I know but, for Spike, attacking Buffy was simply a way of getting back at me.”
“Buffy,” Willow switched her worried gaze to her friend. “Spike almost killed you and Angel didn’t even warn you that he’s killed Slayers before.”
“Wilow, he didn’t even know Spike was in town until that night.”
“How do we know that?” Giles’ voice was stern and Buffy set her jaw stubbornly.
“He told me and I believe him.” Looking back and forth between Willow and Giles, she said earnestly, “Angel’s not the only one who’s done something stupid. We’ve all made mistakes.”
“This was rather more than just a case of poor judgment,” Giles told her, then continued, his eyes now resting coldly on the vampire. “You are a vampire that we have accepted into our midst because of your claim of a restored soul. If this is how you behave…”
“Giles.” Buffy’s raised voice sliced through his comments. “Angel and I have already talked about this. I’m not saying he was right, but I’m asking you to let it go.” Her eyes met first Giles’ then Willow’s. “Angel felt guilty because he made Spike a vampire” - Xander wondered if Angel or Buffy was editing - “and he didn’t like talking about family issues with…” she hesitated, a thread of hurt sounding in her voice, “with outsiders. If I can get over it, you guys should be able to.”
“I’m afraid that isn’t good enough, Buffy. I have allowed your relationship with Angel to continue, despite my reservations, because you convinced me that he was a force for good. This incident causes me to seriously question that.”
“Giles, we all have things in our past we’re ashamed of. I mean, I don’t exactly go around volunteering the information that I burned down the gym at Hemery. Even if it was for a good cause, it’s still not something I want people to know about. This isn’t any different.”
For some reason, the librarian seemed taken aback by that argument. He pulled his glasses off and began polishing them with his handkerchief - a mannerism even Xander knew was a stall for time. “It is different, Buffy,” he said slowly, replacing his glasses and used the movement to avoid Buffy’s eyes. “This wasn’t just a shameful secret from Angel’s past, it was an on-going situation that could have exposed you to mortal danger.” He raised a hand to stop Buffy in mid-protest. “However, your point is well taken. As you say, we all have things in our past that we would rather not have generally known.”
Giles looked steadily at Angel. “Should you bring any further risk to Buffy or show any indication that your presence is endangering her or any of us, I will destroy you as I would a mad dog.” Something dangerous flared in Giles’ eyes and for a moment the usually mild librarian was almost unrecognizable.
A shocked silence filled the room before Angel said quietly. “I hope you will.”
“No, Buffy, I would rather be dead than be a danger to you.”
“Then we understand one another,” Giles said with satisfaction.
Ignoring the still dubious look on Willow’s face, Buffy settled back in her chair and pointedly changed the subject. “Now that that’s settled, we need to talk about what to do about Spike.”
Xander figured that was his cue. Detaching himself from the wall he had been leaning against silently as he eavesdropped on the conversation, he walked further into the room. “Spike agreed to a truce.” Everyone except Angel, who had obviously known he was there, swung around in surprise as he continued: “He won’t attack Buffy unless she attacks him first.” Belatedly, Xander realized he had completely forgotten to ask Spike to not attack Angel and probably should have asked Spike to let Willow and Mr. Giles alone as well. Oh well, he really didn’t think he could have pushed his tentative connection with the vampire that far anyway. He would just have to hope that no one noticed the omission. Willow and Giles should be safe since they were usually with Buffy. And maybe he could talk to Spike about Willow the next time he saw the vampire.
“How do we know his agreement is worth anything?” Typically, Buffy recovered from her surprise first but her question seemed more wary than abrasive.
Before Xander could defend Spike, Angel spoke up. “Spike doesn’t give his word lightly. Whatever else you say about him, his word has always been good.”
“He is still a vampire,” Giles said disapprovingly. “The Slayer does not generally agree to truces with vampires.” He gave Angel a rather pointed look obviously having only shelved the issue for now and not willing to drop it completely.
“Look, unless they come to her attention, Buffy pretty much just kills the vampires she runs across, right?” Xander asked.
“No buts. I mean it’s not like she goes out hunting for Bob, the vampire that lives in the second crypt on the left. If she meets up with Bob, they fight, but otherwise, Bob pretty much goes his own way, right?”
“What is your point, Mr. Harris?” From the exasperated look on the librarian’s face, Xander wondered if he’d followed that example at all. Maybe he should have called his mythical vampire Vlad or something that wouldn’t have thrown Mr. Giles off.
“My point is that she’s never going to kill every vampire in this town. Spike has agreed to a truce, which pretty much means he goes one way and she goes the other. That works, doesn’t it?”
“Xander, you’re asking her to leave a vampire alive. She’s the Slayer, she’s supposed to kill vampires.” Willow objected, looking uncharacteristically stern.
“And there are lots more to keep her busy.” Xander said hurriedly before Willow could say anything else. “She’s already got Angel on her no-stake list, this would just add one more name.”
“It sets a bad precedent,” Mr. Giles responded, his own features tight with disapproval.
“There’s lots of precedent for mutual non-aggression treaties. If it’s good enough for whole governments…”
“I’ll agree,” Buffy interrupted before he could finish, which was just as well because Xander wasn’t sure he could actually name a successful example. The only one that came to mind just then was the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and that really didn’t seem like a good one to cite given how well that one had turned out. And hey, who said history was useful when it just gave you bad examples?
“No, Giles. If Spike will keep his end of the deal, I’m ok with it for awhile. It’s not like there isn’t a lot of other stuff to keep me busy. If Spike causes any problems or becomes more than the usual menace to the town, the deal’s off,” she looked sternly at Xander. “Angel has helped us a lot, and this is the only time he’s ever asked for anything.” She didn’t look happy, but she did look determined, and Giles’ protests died in the face of that determination. She looked over at Angel and Xander. “I’m relying on you two to keep him under control,” she instructed.
Xander nodded, carefully avoiding Angel’s eyes. He had serious doubts about how much influence either of them had over Spike but it didn’t seem like a good time to mention that fact either. He deliberately refused to meet Willow’s eyes. From her disapproving look, she was still clearly unhappy about the truce with Spike. Well, she’d have to learn to live with it. He wasn’t really worried about Willow tackling Spike on her own and since Angel and Buffy had agreed not to that didn’t leave Willow with much option other than expressing disapproval and frankly, that didn’t really bother him that much anymore.
With a sigh of relief, Xander left the library. The meeting had not been fun, but at least no one had completely lost their tempers and the proposed truce between Buffy and Spike was being grudgingly accepted for now.
Heading home, he felt the tension that had filled him since the “intervention” that afternoon finally dissipate, leaving him limp and exhausted. Somehow, he wasn’t particularly surprised to see Spike emerge from the shadows and fall into step with him.
“I thought you agreed to let me handle this,” he said with a tired smile.
“And miss the chance to hear you all ragging on each other?” Spike answered. “Not likely.”
Spike had followed Xander to the school and lingered outside the library, close enough to hear what was happening. If Angelus had been on top of his game, he would have been able to sense Spike nearby, but if the other vampire had, he hadn’t given any sign of it. Spike had been pleased when Angelus had vouched for him, although he had immediately told himself sternly not to read too much into it. His days of living in Angelus’ shadow were long over. He wouldn’t go back to them even if he could. Still, it was good to know his Sire respected him, even a little.
It would be interesting to see how far he could push that. To see if Angelus was willing to accept Spike as a Master in his own right, with the right to make his own decisions, to create minions and Childer, and to Claim a human, if he chose.
Bloody Hell! Had he actually just thought that? Was he really thinking of the boy that way? Spike studied Xander out of the corner of his eye as he walked beside Spike in unusual silence. The boy was attractive enough: unruly dark hair with bangs hanging over his dark eyes, slender frame, still somewhat gangly and uncoordinated, but surprisingly muscular under his baggy clothes. Spike shook his head, not for the first time, over the way his boy dressed: dark, nondescript, and above all, cheap clothes, none of which fit him particularly well. Dressed properly, Xander would really be a bit of all right in the looks department.
But it was his other qualities that attracted Spike more. The mixture of dark and light in the boy drew Spike’s demon like a moth to flame. Anger and dark, chaotic emotions, lit by flashes of humor like sunlight through clouds. Courage and loyalty, anger, stubbornness and sorrow all mixed within the boy contributing to his intoxicating smell that Spike had enjoyed since the night they first met, when the boy’s anger, fear and grief had perfumed the night air.
Yeah, he was thinking about it all right. Plenty of time, Spike thought comfortably. He didn’t have to decide what to do with the boy right this moment. He rested a hand on the small of Xander’s back, steering him around a broken patch of sidewalk when it looked like the boy would stumble right into it. “Tired, pet?”
“Yeah, sorry. I think I need to go home and get some sleep.”
“Let’s get you home then,” Spike said agreeably. His hand lingered, enjoying the human warmth that seeped through the boy’s shirt.