Title: Nothing the Same
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.
Previous Parts here
Well, of course he was thinking about what had happened with Spike. A guy didn’t kiss you and rub you off out of the blue without you needing some time to process it.
Xander liked to think of himself as a pretty open guy. He had nothing against homosexuality, it was just that he’d never thought of it as something he would be considering for himself one day. Not like he had much choice now, damn sexy vampire.
The way Spike had put it made sense - that the sex of your partner didn’t matter so long as everybody was having a good time. And Spike had sure proved his body could be aroused by another guy. Or at least by Spike. Maybe he wasn’t gay, maybe he was just Spike-sexual. If the fantasies he’d been having since last night were anything to go by, he was very Spike-sexual. Admittedly, he didn’t have a lot of experience but that had been the sexiest thing that had ever happened to him. And his body sure seemed to want more of the same.
Truthfully, he had a lot less problem with the gay issue than he did with the evil vampire issue - the one he’d been shelving for some time now because he wasn’t ready to deal with it. He wasn’t sure he should get even more involved with Spike until he’d actually taken that one off the shelf and figured out what to do about it. Except he still wasn’t ready.
A small voice in his head kept suggesting that Spike might do things for a lover he didn’t to for a friend. After a brief side trip where his hormones hijacked his brain to think about the kinds of things his body wanted Spike to do to it, Xander got back on track and considered the idea seriously. The problem was that common sense said that it never worked when someone started a relationship determined to change the other person. ‘I love you, now become a completely different person’ just seemed like a bad plan. And he had good authority to back him up on that - ok, daytime tv, too-sick-to-reach-the-remote authority but authority none-the-less.
On the other hand, could he live with himself if he closed his eyes permanently to the fact that Spike killed people? He suspected that Spike was already shielding him from it. Given their first couple of conversations, it probably wasn’t natural that the vampire never mentioned feeding around him and in fact never drank blood around him. So Spike would probably help him live in the land of denial, if that’s what he wanted. He just wasn’t sure how long he could play deaf, dumb and blind.
Maybe he should discuss it with Spike. Just point blank ask Spike if he was killing people and then tell Spike his concerns. At least that way Spike would know what Xander’s problem was.
“Angel?” Xander asked in surprise. He hadn’t seen the vampire since that night in the library when they’d all agreed to a truce. He’d been sitting on the curb a half block down from his house, waiting for Spike. He never waited for the vampire to pick him up in front of his house because he really wanted his parents and Spike to remain unmix-y things. He’d been bouncing his leg nervously as he sat there and had risen to his feet at the sound of someone approaching.
“Xander,” Angel greeted him, emerging further from the shadows. “I need to talk to you about Spike.”
“Is something wrong?”
“Not in the way you mean,” Angel said slowly, “but I need to make sure that you understand what you’re getting in to.”
Xander hoped the early evening dusk was dark enough to hide his blush from vampire eyes. Geez, you’d think Spike could wait until Xander decided what he wanted to do before telling his dad about them. “Getting in to?” he repeated stupidly, going for the ‘I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about’ plan.
“Xander,” Angel repeated patiently, “I may have a soul but I’m still a vampire and I have vampire senses. Spike’s scent is all over you. Spike and I have been talking recently and he’s told me about you.”
He paused but Xander didn’t respond. His first reaction had been to automatically protest that he’d showered, in fact several times since he’d last seen Spike, although some of those weren’t really about washing. His voice died before he got a single word out as he suddenly realized the implications of what Angel had just said. A wave of embarrassment and anger swept over him for having forgotten about a vampire’s sense of smell. Anger at himself. What had been the point of reading all those books if he didn’t use the information he’d learned? If there had been a handy wall, Xander would have beaten his head against it. What an idiot he’d been, trying to hide his arousal from Spike when the damn vampire could smell it the whole time. No wonder Spike had been so confident that Xander was reacting to him.
Realizing Angel was waiting for some kind of response, Xander looked back at the vampire who was still standing motionless, half in shadow as he always seemed to be. He had no idea what to say but Angel continued.
“Spike is a vampire. His idea of a relationship is not the same as a human’s. Vampires are possessive and territorial about their sexual partners. If you let Spike claim you, you won’t ever be able to get away from him. He’ll turn you into a vampire as soon as you reach his ideal age and you won’t be able to stop him. Is that what you really want?”
Xander was shocked by Angel’s view of what lay ahead. He didn’t have much use for Angel but his words echoed some of Xander’s own fears. Worse than any lingering homophobic concerns was Xander’s worry that he was getting in over his head with Spike. Spike had been with Drusilla for 100 years. Xander was 17 years old. What would a century old vampire want with a teenager? Being friends was one thing but why would Spike want a teenaged, human lover?
“Spike said he won’t turn me,” he told Angel.
Angel shook his head sadly. “He may even mean it - now. But in 15 or 20 years, when you are entering middle age, do you really think he will let you continue sliding downhill into old age? If he loves you, he won’t be willing to lose you. And if he doesn’t love you, well I’m afraid you’ll have been long dead by then. He’ll kill you as soon as you cease to amuse him.”
“He…he’s never made a Childe before,” was all Xander could think to say.
“Is that what he’s told you?” Angel sighed heavily. “Xander, Spike has made several childer. None of them has lived longer than a few years. He gets bored with them and stakes them.” Angel shook his head again, regret filling his features. “It isn’t uncommon with vampires to behave that way. And Spike has always been impatient.” Angel looked, if possible, even sadder and continued: “I’m sorry to have to tell you this but I don’t remember Spike ever keeping a human lover around for even a year.”
Studying the shocked-speechless Xander for a moment, Angel finally went on: “You’re a bright boy, you can make your own decision but I wanted you to know all the facts before you decided to go any further. Spike is my Childe but I am realistic about his nature.”
Angel faded back into the shadows leaving Xander standing numbly on the curb. As soon as Angel was gone, he sank down to the sidewalk before his unsteady legs collapsed under him.
Could any of that be true? Had Spike really lied to him about something as fundamental as whether he had kids? Childer, whatever. Yeah, human parents and vampire Sires were not the same but the Sire-Childe relationship was important. Spike had killed his kids? Spike had had human lovers before and killed them? Spike was going to make him a vampire?
If any of that was true, then Spike had lied to him repeatedly. To his face and by omission. Xander buried his head in his hands, gripping his hair tightly enough to hurt and using the pain to try and focus enough to think. Ten minutes ago, he would have sworn he knew Spike. Angel was supposed to be one of the good guys, wasn’t he? Soul-having, repenting of past evil, card carrying white hat. He couldn’t have made all that up.
Xander rolled to his hands and knees, breathing hard, fighting the nausea that threatened to empty his stomach right here. Struggling for control, to think, he felt like the world that had just begun settling back into something approaching normal had just been jerked out from under him again. He got to his feet shakily. He needed to leave before Spike got here.
Nearly hyperventilating, he could only think of one place to go. Jesse’s grave. He needed to talk to Jesse.
Hearing the familiar loud noise of the DeSoto’s engine, Xander spun around, his heart hammering in his chest. For a moment, he was on the brink of running. He was so not ready to see Spike, he had to figure out what he was going to do first.
As the familiar car pulled up with Spike’s typical last second braking, Xander found his panic attack fading. He closed his eyes for a moment and concentrated on breathing deeply, steadying himself and feeling the panic gradually fading, flowing out of him even as Spike’s usual godawful music surrounded him. He didn’t care what he looked like, standing there with his eyes closed and his hand pressed to his chest as he waited for his breathing and heart rate to go back to normal.
He wasn’t going to run away from this. He was staying put and dealing with it. He’d accused Angel once of not knowing who Spike was now. He wasn’t going to judge Spike by what Angel thought of Spike’s past history. He’d ask Spike about it.
And if Spike said it was all true, well he’d deal with that too. Somehow.
Waiting in the car, watching his boy, Spike forced himself not to get out of the car and go over to him. It was obvious that Xander was panicking, probably because, now that Spike had driven up, Xander was actually being confronted with the reality of a “date” with Spike. However casually the two of them had made their plans for tonight, it was a very date-like event and Xander was obviously freaking out.
Spike decided to wait. Xander had his eyes closed and was breathing deeply and it was clear he was fighting for control. He even left the music turned up loud and didn’t adjust the volume down so he could hear his boy’s breathing and heart rate. Not that he really needed to hear it to confirm that Xander was panicking. The boy’s symptoms were so obvious, he might as well have a sign over his head reading “human having panic attack”.
Spike forced himself to sit still and not display any signs of impatience or agitation. He fished inside his pockets and pulled out his cigarette and lighter. He needed the steadying warmth and taste of the smoke to calm himself down. Given Xander’s reaction to Spike’s arrival, the boy wasn’t going to accept a sexual relationship, and that left Spike struggling against his own instinct to simply drag the boy back to the factory with him.
He hadn’t let himself really consider that Xander couldn’t be seduced willingly into a sexual relationship. Spike wasn’t sure he could accept remaining just friends with the boy. Xander was his. He’d known that for a long time now. Letting the boy hold him at arm’s length had never been on the program.
His thoughts were interrupted by the door opening and Xander climbing into the car. The boy reached over and snapped off the radio, then just looked at Spike, studying him like he didn’t know who Spike was anymore.
Spike met his eyes squarely and waited for Xander to tell him he didn’t want to see him anymore.
“Have you been lying to me?”
“What?” It was so different from what he’d expected that Spike actually gaped at Xander for a moment, before snapping his jaw closed. “What are you talking about?”
“Are you planning on turning me into a vampire?”
Whatever was going on in his boy’s head, he was deadly serious. Confusion, anger, fear, hurt, the scents were mixed and fighting for dominance. “I’ve thought about it,” Spike answered truthfully. He knew that, whatever this was about, it was a pivotal moment and he couldn’t be less than truthful. “Thought about it a lot,” he admitted. “But something keeps stopping me. I don’t know what, or why, but somehow I don’t seem to want to turn you.”
Xander nodded, accepting Spike’s answer. “Have you ever made a Childe?”
Spike’s eyebrows rose. “No. Never wanted the responsibility, Dru took enough of my time and energy.” Xander sat back in his seat properly, facing front, and seemed to be considering something. “What’s going on, luv? Why all the questions?”
Xander didn’t answer for a minute, staring out into the darkness, with a thoughtful look. The mingled scents of anger and fear faded, to Spike’s relief. Finally, he looked back at Spike. “I think Angel is trying to break us up,” he announced.
“What are you talking about?” Spike was having a hard time following this conversation, none of it was making sense to him and none of it seemed to relate to last night.
“He told me that you had been lying to me and that you were going to make me a vampire if we got involved. He also said that you had created childer and killed them…” Spike’s outraged roar interrupted him.
“That’s a bloody lie! Who the hell does that asshole think he is? He’s the unnatural Childe who staked his own Sire because he was obsessed with a fucking Slayer.” His anger was too great to be contained inside the car. Spike slammed the gearshift into park and shoved his door open. Getting out, he paced furiously up and down beside the car, swearing at Angelus in several languages.
How dare that sanctimonious prig say such things about him? Angelus knew how loyal Spike was to the beings he cared about. Angelus had once been on that short list of beings, after all. And to say it after Spike had allowed Angel to meet with him and try and re-connect with the last remaining family either of them had, just added to Spike’s rage. He didn’t care about his Sire’s reasons or what his motives had been, to suggest that Spike would stake his own childer was something he wouldn’t forgive. If Spike ever made a Childe, he would never mistreat it, much less stake it. Spike valued family, unlike fucking Angelus who’d thought nothing of abandoning his damaged Childe and leaving her for Spike to take care of.
Gradually, he became aware of Xander, standing outside the car on his own side, leaning against the roof and watching him. Spike glared at him with golden-eyed fury. “What else did my loving Sire tell you?” he snarled.
“He said you had had human lovers before and that you would either stake them or turn them into vampires within a year,” Xander repeated.
“Do you believe him?” Spike stalked closer, all predator, his demonic features thrown into harsher contrast by his outraged fury.
“He took me by surprise and I didn’t know what to think at first. But then I remembered the Watcher notes about you that Willow made me read. They said a lot of things about you but they didn’t mention you ever Siring a Childe. The Watcher’s might not have mentioned a human lover, but they seem pretty big on tracking vampire lines. So, no, I don’t believe him. That’s why I think he’s trying to break us up.” Xander shrugged, unperturbed by Spike’s still simmering anger. “I think he said the things he knew would freak me out the most. It almost worked. When I heard your car coming, I almost ran. But I figured I’d ask you about what Angel said.”
“That bastard!” Spike answered succinctly. He spun away and started pacing again. Xander simply waited. It had taken him a few minutes to calm down, Spike deserved the same.
Spike finally looked over at Xander again. “Look, pet, I have to leave. I need to deal with Angelus. I promise we’ll talk, but not tonight.”
Xander nodded. “I’ll see you soon,” he said and simply walked home, hearing the slam of the DeSoto’s door and the roar of the engine and Spike tore away from the curb.
Returning to the factory, Spike was still seething with resentment. It was one thing for his Sire to interfere in his relationships, if Angel was a proper Sire, he’d have had the right to forbid a Childe from turning a human or from making a Claim. But Angel hadn’t been his Sire for a century, it was too bloody late for Captain Hair Gel to try and re-assert authority now. And lying about Spike to Xander was just the last straw. Wanker couldn’t even interfere properly. Had to try and scare Xander off instead of coming to Spike directly.
After leaving Xander, Spike had gone looking for Angelus without success. He wasn’t at that human-style apartment of his and a quick sweep through town hadn’t turned him up. Angelus didn’t really have any usual haunts - as far as Spike could tell his Sire spent all his time either alone in his apartment or with the Slayer. Unable to find Angelus, his anger still riding high, he decided to return to the factory and send his minions out hunting as well. With more eyes looking, maybe one of them would get lucky.
His footsteps sounded loudly on the concrete floor as he stalked into the factory. He’d considered simply waiting for Angelus in his apartment, bastard had to return sometime, but he’d nixed that idea almost at once. He wasn’t risking being trapped in that above-ground deathtrap Angelus had chosen to live in. If his minions couldn’t find Angelus, Spike would deal with him first thing tomorrow after sundown.
Spike was still so worked up he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. He looked up for the first time since entering the factory and stopped in shock. Angelus was sitting casually in Spike’s usual seat, the one no-one else ever sat in, and talking with a double handful of Spike’s minions.
Spike swore quietly to himself. Angelus had set him up, ensuring their confrontation happened in front of Spike’s minions. Trying to make Spike look weak, either by goading him into an out of control display of temper or by revealing that Spike was courting a human. Well, Spike hadn’t been a fledgling in a long time as Angelus was about to find out.
“Angelus! What brings you here to where vampires live? The Slayer pouting at you?”
The minions reacted as expected, the reminder that Angelus was dating the Slayer had them shifting in discomfort and disapproving looks appeared on the faces of a couple of the braver ones.
Angelus just smiled and tsked at him. “Spike, my boy, still haven’t mastered long range planning, have you? Well, you’re still young.”
“Old enough to have been a Master for a century,” Spike shot back. “Too bad you were too busy nursing that bloody soul of yours to see it.”
At the mention of the soul, the minions became outright uneasy, shifting away from the two angry Masters. Older vampires loved to talk of the vampire cursed with a soul. Over the decades, it had become a cautionary tale about messing with magical types. Although the details had become distorted, the heart of the story remained intact. Spike had never felt the need to enlighten any other vampire as to the identity to the vampire with a soul. The legendary idiot who had killed the wrong gypsy was not someone he particularly wanted others to know was in his lineage. It was bloody embarrassing having to admit the Souled Vampire as his Sire.
Angelus ignored the minions, staring at Spike and taking a deep drag on his cigarette. Studying his Sire, Spike realized that something was off. He hadn’t ever seen Angelus smoke since he got the bloody soul. Like everything else that made him feel even remotely good, Angelus had given up smoking. Smoking, feeding, sex, the company of other vampires, Angelus had given it all up. He didn’t even seem to enjoy fighting anymore. But now… Angelus was wearing silk and leather, smoking, and - Spike inhaled deeply - he smelled faintly of sex and human blood.
“Angelus?” he asked questioningly, wondering what the hell was going on.
“Yeah, it’s really me. What can I say? Had a soul, now it’s gone.”
For one second, Spike forgot his grievance in the shock of joy that went through him. His Sire was back! “This is great!” he said enthusiastically. “How did it happen?”
“Don’t know, don’t really care. The only important thing is: I’m back.” Angelus held his cigarette up, studying the lit end like it held the meaning of life. “And things are going to change around here.”
Spike’s pleasure in his Sire’s return vanished in the wave of renewed resentment and apprehension. Turning to the fascinated minions, who were listening avidly to the exchange between the two Master vampires, he snarled. “All of you, get the hell out - now! I want this place cleared in 20 seconds. Anyone still here in 21 seconds is dust.” The minions scattered and ran, Spike’s voice chasing them out into the early morning darkness. “Find somewhere else to spend the day. Anyone who returns here before sunset will regret it.”
Turning back to Angelus, Spike considered ordering his Sire to get out of his chair, but abandoned the idea. It was a petty point, not worth arguing over with the minions gone and remaining seated left Angelus at a disadvantage. Instead, he growled: “What the hell do you mean by saying I’ve staked my own childer?”
“Lighten up, Spike. It was a joke.” Angelus had an all too familiar mocking smile that Spike realized he hadn’t missed at all.
“Well, having staked your own Sire, I can see how you might think that it was funny, but I’m afraid your sense of humor isn’t shared by the rest of us. Don’t do it again and, while we’re on the subject, don’t mess with my boy again.”
“Or what?” Angelus still had that smirk on his face, his eyebrows raised contemptuously.
“Or I just might learn to share your sense of humor and decide to find out what it feels like to have my Sire turn to ashes around my stake.” Just because he didn’t want to dust Angelus, didn’t mean he wouldn’t to protect what was his.
“Think you can take me?”
“I’m not the one who’s been living on pig swill and not fighting for a century. Yeah, I think I can take you without even working up a sweat.”
Angelus laughed, leaning back in the chair, arms crossed behind his head but Spike didn’t miss the wary look in his eyes. “Good for you, boy. Maybe you have become a Master after all.”
“Not just a Master, Master of this town. You going to have a problem with that?”
“No, I’ve got other plans. I’m thinking of concentrating on the Slayer for a bit. Don’t worry, Spike,” he smiled patronizingly, “that will keep me busy and out of your hair. For awhile.”
Angelus jumped to his feet. “Do you have a room for your Sire, boy? Given the change in my outlook, I don’t really fancy staying in my old place.”
Spike had been expecting this and he didn’t really have a choice. If he turned Angelus away, that was just asking for Angelus to set up a rival court and would give him room to challenge Spike for control. Plus, Angelus was his Sire, he really couldn’t refuse him shelter. “Yeah, pick any room but mine.” He said, hiding his reluctance. “Just throw anything in there out into the hall, the minions can clean it up when they return.”
“Pity you felt you had to throw them out for the entire day,” Angelus commiserated with fake sympathy, “but I can understand you being afraid of appearing weak in front of them.”
“Wasn’t worried about that,” Spike answered sharply. “Just didn’t want to air any more family business around them.”
“Of course.” Angelus’ agreement was patently insincere.
“Bugger off,” Spike snapped. He left in a swirl of coat and attitude before Angelus had a chance to respond, his footsteps sounding loudly on the concrete as he stalked to his own room.
Bloody hell! His Sire’s return was going to be tricky. The moment of joy that his Sire was back had long vanished under the realization that Angelus was going to create problems for the sheer pleasure of causing chaos. Careful what you wish for on a Hellmouth is too bloody right, he thought resignedly.
Xander pounded on the door to Angel’s apartment. Getting no answer, he tried the door and found it locked. He hammered on the door with his fist again.
“Angel, open the goddamn door!”
The door remained frustratingly closed. Xander growled under his breath. What a time for the vampire to decide to get a life. Not prepared to kick the door down, he retreated. He needed to go to school anyway.
“Buffy!” Xander jogged to catch up with her in the hall. “Where’s your boyfriend? I need to talk to him.”
Buffy bit her lip and looked away. “I don’t know.”
“Next time you see him, you tell him that if he ever pulls a stunt like that again, I’ll kill him.”
“What are you talking about?” It was Willow, putting a comforting arm around Buffy and speaking for her.
Xander didn’t really care what was bothering Buffy, although ordinarily he would never have harassed someone who was as upset as Buffy obviously was. “Angel knows what I’m talking about. Just tell him.”
“Xander, something happened to Angel the other night. His soul is gone.”
“What?” That made even less sense than Angel’s cursed by gypsies story. “How do you lose a soul? Did he check where he usually leaves it?”
“It’s not funny, Xander. It’s serious.”
“Actually, the whole gypsy curse thing has always struck me as pretty funny, in a Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not kind of way.”
“Shut up, Xander.” Buffy spoke for the first time, her eyes wet with tears and her voice shaky. “Don’t make jokes about this, it’s deadly serious.”
“Angel’s reverted to being a normal vampire. He’s promised to kill all of Buffy’s friends,” Willow explained.
Xander digested that for a moment. “When did this happen?” he asked.
“Two nights ago,” Willow answered.
“You guys have known about this for two days?” Xander was livid. “Why am I only hearing about this now?”
“Because it’s none of your business,” Buffy answered. She’d blinked back the unshed tears and her voice had steadied. “It’s not your problem and we’re dealing with it.”
“Excuse me? I’m friends with Spike, remember? Which makes me a human who’s friends with Angel’s Childe. You don’t think that an unsouled Angel will maybe have a problem with that?” He looked at both of them, making no attempt to hide his anger. “Not to mention that I was just pounding on Angel’s door demanding that he talk to me. I guess I should just be grateful that he wasn’t home.”
He threw up his arms in disgust, unable to fully express how angry and hurt he was. “Thanks so much for the warning, guys. Remind me to give you the same kind of heads up the next time there’s a man-eating tiger in your front yard.”
He didn’t wait to hear any explanations or excuses either of them might have to say. He was so furious with them, he didn’t trust himself around them. And he needed to warn Spike about his Sire. He didn’t know if Angelus losing his soul would be a problem for Spike but he wasn’t going to play wait and see like the girls had obviously done. None of his business, god how lame could you get.
Throwing his books into his locker, Xander stalked out into the late morning sun, heading for Spike’s place.