Pairings: Spander (eventually)
Appropriate Ratings: NC17 overall but this chapter... PG
Warnings: This chapter… British slang swearing.
Disclaimers: Not my characters. I make no money off this, I'm just playing. I promise to give them a bath and thorough cleaning when I’m done! Joss Whedon is my lord and Master. All hail Joss Whedon.
Short Summary: About five years post NFA, Xander needs a job, like, NOW! And runs into someone he knows where he'd least expect it.
Word Count: 2535 (As per MS Word Count) (See?? Shorter! Yay!)
Beta: tamakin Any errors are mine and mine alone.
X-posted to: perverted_pages, bloodclaim btvs_lightsout, btvs_slash, btvsatsdotcom, darker_spike, spike_fics, sxandviolence, spanderslash
Archived Outside LJ At: adultfanfiction.net
Comments keep my muse well fed.
The pub was bustling with activity but with a discreet word from Spike they’d been seated away from the patrons in a private back section. Xander listened to the muted hum of conversation from the rest of the pub and settled back while Spike ordered for both of them. For a moment Xander felt like he should be standing up for his Manly-Xan-Man honor, but decided since Spike was paying it was a smile price to pay to get food ordered for him. Xander’s face folded itself into a scowl when he heard Spike order a salad for each of them, but he quickly smoothed it away when he saw the pointed look shot his way.
“You’ll eat it before you touch anything else, got me?”
“Spike, I’m not a little kid!”
“Know that already Harris, kinda hard to miss it really, but I also lived with you for a spot of time and I know you’ll fill up on the burger and ignore the salad. If I’m payin’ for your gnosh you’ll at least eat all of it.” Spike looked up at him knowingly and Xander relented with a pouty scowl. Spike shifted in his seat, cursing himself for wearing these tight pants which were getting steadily less comfortable.
Xander knew Spike was right, given half a chance he’d skip the salad in a heartbeat, and it was probably the most healthy part of the meal. Didn’t mean he’d have to roll over and take it though.
“Pay for a pitcher or two of beer and you’ve got yourself a deal,” Xander bargained. C’mon Bleachie, give in, buy me a beer. He knew that whatever it was they were going to talk about, they’d be grateful for the numbing alcohol. Thankfully Spike agreed with a nod and added a pitcher of beer and two frosty mugs to their order.
They sat in strained silence until the waiter came back with their drinks, pouring for each of them before leaving them to their private conversation. Spike drained his mug before pouring another, fortifying himself against the conversation at hand. He just started talking, not sure how to start his tale.
“After that sodding final battle, Blue vanished. Literally disappeared. I was lookin’ right at her one moment, and the next pfft, gone. She used to ‘ave the power to bend time, but that got taken away from her when Wesley zapped her, so somethin’ else happened, just dunno what. I’d like to think she finally went someplace where her kind were welcome. She may ‘ave been an all powerful god kin once, but she turned into a bit of a person there at the end. She… she deserved to find some happiness somewhere.”
He played with the ring of moisture his mug of beer had made on the wooden tabletop. Now it was his turn to not look up, to find the only privacy he could whilst sharing his secret pains. He had to admit it felt good to get it off his chest, to share the story he’d been forced to keep to himself for so long, but it also left him more open, more vulnerable and that left a bitter taste in his mouth. Xander just took a quiet sip of beer, settled down for a long gossip filled conversation, this WAS Spike after all, and waited for their food.
“Poofter had to sign away his bloody Shanshu prophecy thing to get into The Black Thorn, whole bloody reason we got into that sodding mess. If the git hadn’t aimed so high more of us might bloody well be alive!” Spike snarled, heat in his eyes which quickly melted to sad emptiness. His gaze was locked inwards, remembering…Only his thumb rubbing rhythmically against the tips of his index and middle finger showing his stress.
Xander frowned, trying to keep track of the story, it seemed to be bouncing about a bit. But he knew enough about the previous situation thanks to reports from Andrew and a few Slayers he’d posted about to keep an eye on Angel and his gang. He just looked at Spike and motioned for him to continue low enough that Spike would see it.
“I got the soddin’ Shanshu. I got the bloody heartbeat to go with the spark,” Spike saluted with his beer before taking a sip. “Powers That Be either wanted me to have it all along, which is bloody unlikely, or they decided to hand it down to the next contestant when Peaches signed his life away, literally.” Spike chuckled and took a few more gulps of his beer, a light and teasing smirk curled his lips.
“He had a right fit when he realized what happened. Shot me one mean look and stalked off in a huff, big forehead of his all furrowed. Last I heard he was hidin’ in some castle somewhere learnin’ how to decipher an ancient scroll or such rot. He thinks it has the answers on how to anchor his soul to ‘im. Had some bloody idea that the only reason he did somethin’ so bleedingly stupid an’ got everyone killed was ‘cause it wasn’t stuck on right… He can’t admit to himself that he was actually that vengeful an’ cold an’ calculating with his soul being firmly in place. Souls make you a better person, don’t ya know, you shouldn’t enjoy stuff like that if ye have a workin’ one! Didn’t bloody listen to me sayin’ humans with shinin’ souls all naturally in place had done worse things. He just… was convinced. Dunno if he’s even alright in the melon anymore the way he kept going on about it.”
Spike wondered why he was spilling his guts to the boy, the boy he could never stand before. He kept sneaking covert glances, taking in the too skinny frame, the hollow cheeks and white rimmed eyes. He obviously hadn’t eaten a decent meal in months, his body showed the signs of malnutrition and hunger, and Spike realized that was what was making him divulge his story. The boy looked like he had when he’d first found this job, finally gotten money for a roof over his head and food in his belly. He’d had to relearn how to live as a human, and Xander seemed to be having a hard time with the same problems for other reasons.
“Had some ID’s an’ stuff in my pockets that Wolfram and Hart had made for me. All as legit as possible, with a couple o’ backups, but couldn’t see myself taking any office gig. Id go stir crazy. But I needed money for the first time in my life. Suppose I could ‘ave just kept up the living in crypts and stealing what I needed but it just seemed a bit… crass. All that work to get a soul and become human after repeatedly saving the world an’ I turn to a life of crime? Anyways, I thought long an’ hard on what I have that could get me a job. I’ve no talents or schooling, last lesson I had was out of date by over a soddin’ century. I didn’t fit in the corporate career world, so… I found a place I mostly fit. I started dancing at the place, realized how good I am since I’m all bendy an’ well muscled.”
He shot a quick look at Xander who was for once in his life looking at Spike with something other than loathing and disgust in his eyes. It was a welcome change, but still slightly overwhelming coming from the whelp. His gaze skittered away to the waitress who’d entered their section, “So decided to save up an’ buy the place when I realized how bloody easy it was and how much dosh it brought in.”
The waitress put their orders on the table then, pausing the conversation. She put down two plates piled high with a burger and fries and all the trimmings plus a large Greek salad. Spike pushed the salad over to the boy and raised a single scarred eyebrow which made Xander blush profusely and look away.
Xander picked up his fork and dug into the salad, trying not to make too many sounds of intense contentment. He’d never liked salads overly much, but his body definitely craved the vitamins, minerals, fat and just FOOD, so it was hard to keep the sounds out of his happily munching mouth. He knew this dinner was charity, which dented his pride, but he also knew he had no choice, and besides, he’d pay Spike back with his first nights take… if he had a first nights take… He looked up at his dinner companion who seemed lost in his own morose thoughts, but spared an indulgent smile for Xander.
“So… wait, that place is yours? I thought you were just the manager?” Salad was gone, fries were next. Sweet, lovely fries drowned in ketchup with tasty thick gravy. Food was good, and his stomach definitely appreciated being full.
“I am, struck a deal. I work for at least three days a week at the bar with two shows a night for a year… an’ I get the whole place, lock stock an’ barrel, for a very large discount. He’s also takin’ the year to teach me the ropes, introduce me to his contacts and what not. Dunno if I’ll keep dancing once I buy the place, but the bar definitely brings in more money if I dance than if I don’t,” he shrugged and took a bite of his burger, a dribble of ketchup stained the corner of his mouth before he licked it away. He was too into his meal to notice Xander had kept rapt attention on that smear of ketchup and the way his tongue had snuck out to clean it up. Xander swallowed quickly to keep from visibly drooling.
“So… why are you hiding from everyone?” Xander’s burger was gone, inhaled in a few rather large bites. Spike hoped the boy didn’t get indigestion from eating so quickly.
“Can’t fight, can I? Bloody useless now. I know what’ll happen. They’ll ask me to fight, I won’t be able to say no to a damsel in distress, people will die an’ it’ll all be my fault. Can’t live with that again. I’m human now aren’t I? No longer the mostly invincible Master Vampire, nope, I’m the mostly vulnerable happy meal on legs now. Besides, I figured this whole Shanshu bugaboo was the Powers That Be tellin’ me to take some well deserved time off. Call it selfish if ye want, but I think I earned it.” Spike took another big gulp of beer and watched as Xander cleared off his plate and used his fork to scoop up the dredges of ketchupy gravey and burger drippings, slurping contentedly. Spike pushed the rest of his fries towards him with a nod and wave telling him to dig in.
Xander didn’t need to be told twice. He was feeling better, feeling more confident, more alive. He’d gotten the job, confided in someone who confided in him in turn. He felt… safer then he had in a very long time. In the company of an ex-mass-murdering-demon-of-the-night, but he still felt safer.
He wondered idly if he should worry about his sanity.
Xander woke up to the sun in his face. In his itty bitty apartment there was only one place where his sofa bed fit, and that meant being woken up by a sunbeam in his eyes every morning at around eight AM, till the seasons changed, anyways.
“Fuck…,” Xander groaned and covered his face with his hands. He sat up with a lurch, wincing and rubbing his head, blindly reaching for the tablets and glass of water he’d put on the nightstand the night before. He swallowed the pain relief pills with a big gulp of water and thirstily drained the rest. He needed to get massive doses of water into himself or his headache was never going to pass and he had to get ready for his first lesson tonight.
It was nice that he had someone to show him the ropes, it would make the New Job freakout phase pass quickly and less painfully than just jumping into the pool. He appreciated it. This was going to be nerve wrecking enough with the gay-ness and the groping and the Bleached Wonder right… there looking so - no… not going there! But there would be a lot on his mind and a lot he would have to concentrate on and making it easier for him was just dandy!
He stumbled into the shower and completed his morning bathroom rituals with careful deliberation. His head felt like it was precariously balanced on his neck and light was like slivers of live electrical wire skewering his eyeballs… and he wouldn’t even think of how every single sound louder then a whisper made sparks of pain explode in his vision. Oh no, let us not think of that… because thinking about it makes it something you focus on and focusing on pain is never a good thing.
Ow… so ow.
Breakfast would distract him, he decided and made his way, all two steps, into the tiny cramped kitchenette. It took him about three seconds to remember there was nothing in there edible wise other than a bottle of mustard. He’d been making sandwiches out of it before he ran out of bread three weeks ago. He wondered if he could just chug the bottle back but his stomach roiled and reminded him he was still hung over and shouldn’t eat anything. Okay, good, no food.
He folded up his pull-out bed and put back the ratty cushions, carefully flipping over the one with the dark stain he didn’t want to contemplate the origin of. It had appeared magically after he’d come home to find his basement apartment had been broken into. Nothing had been taken, there was nothing of value TO take, but they’d done a lot of damage. He didn’t have a single plate left and only two heavily chipped bowls. Not that it mattered since he so rarely had food to put on them. He took out a plastic soda bottle filled with water from the fridge and sat down on his couch to think. He had nothing better to do until tonight.
Spike seemed to be as damaged as he was, unable to think about his lost friends for long without needing to change the subject. He’d kept his grief hidden until they’d made it to their third beer and second basket of wings. Xander had ordered a fried onion and when it came to the table in its golden brown flowering glory Spike had taken one look at it and excused himself to the men’s room, eyes suspiciously damp. Strange things set off Xander too, he was in no shape or state of mind to pass judgment on Spike’s reactions.
He slowly drained his bottle of water, feeling it slosh in his stomach when he settled back to stare at the ceiling. Everyone had their demons, their burdens. Xander just wished he could forget his.
Previous parts found here.