Title: Nothing the Same
Pairing: Spike/Xander, eventually
Rating: This Chapter rated R
Warnings: Some graphic sexual imagery
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 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.
NOTE: the rating is different for this chapter. Please read the warnings before reading.
Previous Parts here
“Mr. Olsen, do you mind if I ask your opinion about something?”
Xander had spent much of the weekend lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling. Patsy Cline had kept him company for awhile, until “Crazy” began to seem personally directed at him. So, on top of everything else, he now had to buy a new CD because his old one had taken the brunt of his frustration and the shards were in the wastebasket.
So here he was on a Sunday afternoon, talking to Mr. Olsen and eating Mrs. Olsen’s leftover coffee cake and trying to get up the nerve to broach the subject that had led him to seek the elderly man out. He’d already ruled out the notion of calling one of those radio shows where people called to have a total stranger dissect their lives and the information line at the library just wasn’t going to cut it for this situation.
The old man smiled easily. “Never have minded giving my opinion on things. Just ask my wife,” he added with an impish smile.
“Ok, this is gonna to sound dumb, but it really is about a friend of mine.” Xander had been thinking about how to discuss the subject of ‘my friend is a vampire’ with Mr. Olsen the whole way over here, but that didn’t seem to have made it any easier now that he was actually plunging in. Or at least dipping a toe. Mr. Olsen didn’t know Spike and didn’t know he was a vampire, so Xander hoped he would give a neutral opinion - it wasn’t like anyone else he knew would. The problem was how to phrase the question so it would make sense.
He leaned forward, his hands clasped tensely as he struggled for words. “I like him, he’s helped me deal with some stuff and we’ve become friends. But…” he faltered, having completely forgotten the analogy he’d practiced, oh yeah, “the problem is, I’ve found out he’s a criminal, he…robs banks. And I think the police may be looking for him.” That seemed to cover the situation generally. Sort of. “I don’t know if he’s…robbing banks still, but he could be.” He looked up at Mr. Olsen for the first time since he’d begun speaking. “I know I probably should call the police on him. But I don’t want to. He’s kind of like my only friend right now. What do you think I should do?”
“Well, son, that’s a tough one. I’m tempted to just go with my knee jerk reaction and say you should call the police and then stay friends with him while he’s in jail. But that isn’t an easy thing to do.” Mr. Olsen leaned back in his chair and rubbed his hand over the grey stubble on his chin. It looked like he hadn’t finished, so Xander simply waited for him to go on. After a long pause, Mr. Olsen did.
“You know, in the 60’s, some people used to rob banks as a political statement. And a lot of people broke a lot of laws because they thought it was the right thing to do and the laws were wrong. Does your friend have any reason for robbing banks?” he asked seriously.
Xander looked away. “Not really,” he said painfully. “It’s just kind of…who he is.”
Spike did have a reason: humans were his food. Maybe Xander should have stuck to the wild dog example he’d thought of, except that wasn’t any better. Spike wasn’t a wild animal, he was an intelligent…being, who knew what he was doing. Humans might be a vampires natural prey but that just got back to the whole wolves vs. deer argument he and Buffy had once had and that hadn’t made anything clearer.
Xander wished he knew whether Mr. Olsen knew about vampires because that would make this conversation a little clearer, but he couldn’t even ask without having to go into a long explanation and he really hadn’t felt up to explaining vampires as a preface. Maybe he would talk to Mr. Olsen about vampires and the Hellmouth some day. Especially since some days he felt like the only sensible thing to do was to put up big signs everywhere in town warning people about vampires and the things that go bump in the night. Only the thought that he didn’t really want to spend the next few years in an insane asylum stopped him on those days. Denial in Sunnydale was a way of life.
Xander realized that he had buried his face in his hands as his thoughts ran crazily down useless paths they had taken many times before and that the room had been quiet for some time. He looked up to find Mr. Olsen regarding him with sympathetic eyes.
Xander gave him a tentative smile and Mr. Olsen patted him on the knee and asked: “Has your friend hurt people?”
“Probably,” Xander said, so quietly he almost couldn’t hear himself.
“Hmmm.” was all Mr. Olsen said in response. He lapsed into silence again, obviously considering that piece of information. It was something Xander liked about the old man: when a conversation turned serious, Mr. Olsen thought about what he was going to say before he said it. Xander himself all too often opened his mouth first and thought second and he appreciated the fact that Mr. Olsen seemed to be considering Xander’s problem seriously.
After another long pause, during which Xander miserably studied the pattern of the rug, Mr. Olsen finally collected his thoughts enough to express an opinion. “Good friends aren’t easy to come by, Xander. And I have believed for a long time that people cross our paths in life for a reason. I think that what you need to decide is why you and your friend have crossed paths and are in each other’s lives. Maybe it’s nothing more than chance but maybe there is a purpose behind it. Maybe the reason you two have become friends is for you to stop him - from robbing banks,” he added the last part with a slight hesitation and a small skeptical smile. “But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, as my father used to say. If there is a reason for the people we meet in life and, in your case, if the reason that fate brought you together is because you are meant to stop your friend, then the question is: are you supposed to stop your friend by turning him in to the police or is your fate more to convince your friend to reform, maybe for your sake since it troubles you to be friends - with a bank robber.”
Xander, listening intently, didn’t miss the slight hesitation each time Mr. Olsen mentioned bank robbers. He wondered again just how much Mr. Olsen knew about the Hellmouth and promised himself he was going to talk to Mr. Olsen about Sunnydale soon.
“Sorry, Xander, I know that doesn’t really answer your question. I guess I should have mentioned that I’m better with opinions on meatloaf and tv movies,” he joked lightly.
“No, thank you. Really. You’ve given me something new to think about and I really needed that - I think my brain had gotten completely stuck in the same old arguments.” Eager now to change the subject, Xander gave him a small, crooked grin. “But can I just say eww, why would someone want to skin a cat?”
“You know, I never asked.”
Xander left shortly afterwards, thinking hard about what Mr. Olsen had said. He couldn’t help wondering what Spike’s reaction would be if he asked the vampire to go vegetarian for him, or whatever vampires called it. If they even had a name for it. Maybe it made him a bad person, but it wasn’t Spike’s violent, blood soaked history that bothered him so much. Sure, it wasn’t something he wanted to dwell on, but it was the fact that Spike was probably still killing people that was the real problem. After all, if everyone else could accept Angel as a reformed killer, he could easily do the same for Spike.
But did he even have the right to ask Spike to do that for him? Never mind the fact that he doubted the vampire would. Well, yeah, he guessed he did have the right to ask. Lots of people asked their spouses to go vegetarian. Ok, he didn’t actually know any, but he was sure it happened. And Spike could still drink human blood. It wouldn’t bother Xander at all if Spike drank human blood from bags. Even stealing from a blood bank would be a lot better than feeding off humans. He didn’t want to be the one to choose, but he supposed he could deal with Spike killing murderers and rapists. So, it wasn’t like there weren’t options.
Xander sighed. It was all just useless speculation. Sure, Spike seemed to like him ok, but he doubted the vampire would lose any sleep over it if Xander told him he didn’t want to be friends anymore. And he really couldn’t see Spike changing his whole way of life for Xander.
So that left him back at square one: Could he stay friends with a vampire? He didn’t want to stop seeing the vampire. Sometimes he seemed like the only bearable part of Xander’s life right now. Not to mention the fact that the thought of telling Spike to get lost seemed both rude and ungrateful. Spike had been more helpful about answering Xander’s questions and had done more to help him get over killing Jesse than anyone else in his life, including the people who had supposedly loved Jesse as much as he did. Xander didn’t blame Mrs. McNally, she didn’t even know the truth and she obviously had her own grief to deal with. But for damned sure he resented how Willow had acted since Jesse died.
And he was so not dealing with Willow issues right now. Pulling his thoughts back to Spike, Xander thought that there was a lot of comfort in Mr. Olsen’s way of looking at things. He didn’t really believe in fate, or destiny, or karma, or whatever, and he’d teased Mr. Olsen about being a closet hippy before he’d left. But was it just coincidence that he and Spike had encountered each other while they were both grieving for people they loved? Probably, he decided, but it was the common ground that had led them to become friends.
Whatever he decided, he didn’t believe that Spike was going to hurt him. Spike was violent and had a hair-trigger temper, Xander had seen that demonstrated on several occasions but somewhere along the way he’d lost his fear of the vampire. He couldn’t even pinpoint exactly when his fear had faded into nothing. Sometime around the point when he started seeing Spike as a person first and a vampire second, he guessed.
So, maybe he should talk to Spike.
Spike cursed himself for being a nancy boy; a poofter; a wanker. How else could he explain that, for the second night in a row, he was standing like a love-struck teenager outside the window of a human boy.
Last night, he’d told himself he was just checking up on the boy. Xander had been so depressed two nights ago, so lost in his thoughts, so uncharacteristically quiet as Spike had silently walked him home after finding him in the park clutching the papers containing Spike’s history, that Spike had listened outside the house until he was sure his boy was simply going to bed.
He’d come back last night, hovering outside for hours, hoping Xander would seek him out. Listening to the truly godawful music coming from his boy’s room, Spike had toyed with the idea of simply going to the front door and asking for Xander. In the end, he hadn’t. He didn’t want to crowd the boy and deep inside, there was a shiver of fear that Xander would refuse to let him in.
He’d distracted himself by picturing what he would do when he learned who had given those pages depicting Spike’s long and bloody history to Xander. He’d considered whether it had been Angelus but discarded the idea fairly rapidly. It wasn’t Angelus’ style. Not now, and not even a century ago - too dry and impersonal. That left the Slayer, the Watcher and the Slayer’s friend as the most likely candidates. None of them had been shy about expressing their disapproval of the relationship and it seemed like a human thing to do, not something a demon would have bothered with. He’d reluctantly shelved his plans for violent retribution - at least temporarily - at the thought that it would only exacerbate the problem with Xander.
So here he was again, pacing outside a suburban house under the concealing branches of a tree, waiting for a mortal, a boy, to decide if he still wanted to be friends. Spike growled. He should be tricking his way into the house and just grabbing the boy and turning him. That would settle this ridiculous situation once and for all. Make the boy his childe and dominate him, make Xander crawl and beg for his Sire’s favor. Savoring the image of a perfect dark childe, dark head bent submissively, gleaming gold eyes filled with fear and longing, Spike was infuriated when the image faded and was replaced by a familiar pair of dark, wounded eyes staring curiously at him, confused but unafraid. He snarled and shook his head viciously, dispelling the unwanted image.
Boy didn’t deserve to be his childe. Ungrateful whelp. He’d make a Pet out of the boy. Keep him chained, naked at his Master’s feet. Whip him bloody and bugger him senseless. Make him beg for death. Yeah, that’s what he’d do. Pacing up and down, Spike pictured Xander chained to his throne - he’d get a throne just for the purpose of chaining the boy to it - pictured Xander’s back striped from a whipping, begging for relief, his cock engorged and purple, unable to cum without his Master’s permission. Spike grinned. That’d teach the boy. He stopped pacing and leaned against the tree, savoring the images playing through his mind. Saw himself on top of Xander, pushing inside, his boy’s eyes filled with love and arousal.
What the hell!
What had the boy done to him? How had he turned William the Bloody into a love-sick fool?
Spike lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, struggling to control his thoughts. He thought he’d succeeded, only to hear Drusilla’s familiar voice saying again that his destiny waited him on the Hellmouth along with a wounded kitten that Spike must care for.
“Sod off, Dru.” Spike snarled out loud to the voice in his head. “None of this would be happening if you hadn’t left me. Bloody damn half-mad seer.”
Rage and grief swirled through him and Spike screamed his fury and confusion into the night sky, venting the emotions that had been churning inside him for days. He sagged against the tree as the lingering echo of his scream faded. “I’m sorry, Dru,” he said brokenly. “I didn’t mean it.”
Head bowed, he waited, straining to hear Dru’s voice again, but silence was the only response. Fine, if that was the way she was going to play it, Spike thought angrily. He straightened up with a jerk, settling his duster and wrapping it around himself like a shield.
Time he started acting like a vampire again and not an overwrought human. First off, he was going to find something to kill. Something large and dangerous, that would take effort to kill. A spot of violence would go a long way towards reminding him who he was. Then, he was going to find a dark haired boy and… cursing, Spike stopped that thought in its tracks. He would find a woman and drain her, savoring the hot blood flowing down his throat as the heart stuttered and died. Then, well, he’d figure his next step out later.
Turning intending to leave his pathetic obsession behind him forever, Spike stumbled ungracefully to a halt. Xander was standing in the yard, arms wrapped around himself, silently watching Spike. “Hi,” he said.
Xander had been watching Spike from his bedroom window for awhile now, Spike’s agitated pacing under the tree in his backyard having caught his eye. Spike’s shifting emotions had been clear from his movements, even in the dark. Watching him, Xander knew that Spike did care about him. Spike looked both angry and upset and Xander considered for the first time how Spike must feel - waiting for someone he liked to decide if Spike was worthy of friendship.
Looking at it that way, Xander felt like a complete jerk. Like one of the cool kids at school who had refused to accept Xander since, well, since kindergarten. And that was a sucky analogy, because he was pretty sure Cordelia hadn’t been putting him down since the day he met her because she thought he was evil. But that was what it felt like, watching Spike pacing outside his house.
Maybe he was just rationalizing the issue, but Spike would go on killing whether Xander was a friend or not. Maybe Mr. Olsen was right and he could convince Spike to not kill anymore. That would be a good thing. Xander didn’t know if it was even a possibility, but for now, he was going to adopt Mr. Olsen’s philosophy and assume there was a reason he and Spike had met. He’d just have to trust that time would eventually make it clear what he was supposed to do.
Having made his decision, Xander felt like the weight of the world had slipped off his shoulders. Even if he was only shelving the real problem for now, it still felt good. Watching Spike’s agitated pacing come to a halt, Xander was shocked when Spike suddenly screamed into the night sky. Without any further hesitation, he’d ran downstairs and out into the yard.
“What do you want?” Spike snarled at him.
Staring at the gold eyes, brow ridges and tense posture, hearing the anger in Spike’s voice, Xander thought he should probably be terrified about now. But he’d learned a lot about grief and Spike wasn’t quite able to hide the raw pain that was only masquerading as anger. “What do I want?” he repeated slowly, then found himself answering with the brutal honesty of his long soul searching.
“I want Jesse to be alive again. I want you to not be a vampire. I want your Drusilla to be alive again so that you aren’t in so much pain. And I want things to be like they used to be.” He smiled self-mockingly. “And since none of that seems likely, I don’t think I’m going to get what I want. Plus, if you weren’t a vampire, you would have died about a hundred years ago and I wouldn’t have ever met you. And if Dru and Jesse hadn’t died, we probably wouldn’t have become friends. So I guess I don’t really know what I want. Except that I want us to stay friends.”
He didn’t even flinch when Spike reached out and grabbed him by the shirt, dragging him closer. “’m a demon, boy. A vampire. We’re not friends with sodding humans.”
“Ok. But something has kept you pacing outside my window for the last hour. I don’t know what you think it is, but I’m choosing to call it friendship.”
Spike released him and turned away. “That’s what’s wrong with humans. Always talking things to death.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Demons are superior. We’ve had this conversation.”
“Too bloody right, we’re superior,” Spike smirked at him and Xander grinned as he saw the tension flow out of Spike’s body.
“If you’re so superior, how come you drink our beer and whiskey and smoke our cigarettes? Haven’t seen any demon brands around.”
Spike’s features faded into human and his smirk widened into a real smile. “See, that just shows our superiority - we don’t muck around with commerce.”
Exchanging humorous barbed comparisons about the relative merits of demons and humans was a weird way to feel comfortable, but Xander felt the knot in his stomach unwind for the first time in days. In mutual, silent accord, he and Spike set off walking side by side, their shoulders brushing lightly. Xander knew that nothing had really been resolved, but he’d made his decision and would stick with it. He and Spike were friends and were going to stay friends if Xander had any say in it. They’d work out the details later.