Rating: Eh...PG? Nothing especially naughty here...
A/N: This is Part III of my one-shot series. I can't even write a one-shot without turning it into a series. It's a sad sad affliction...
Part I: The Missing Piece
Part II: Why We Fight
Six months and they hadn’t kissed or hugged. He understood, he really did. It was just…difficult. They hadn’t done anything vaguely romantic or sexual for the same reason they always met at Spike’s apartment. Spike didn’t trust him.
Sighing, Xander strode into the elevator and stabbed the button that would take him to Spike. Date night was fraught with peril. In fact, Xander was more nervous on Monday nights than he’d ever been back on the Hellmouth.
It was Monday night because Spike hunted during the weekends. The first time Spike had said that, Xander quietly corrected him. It wasn’t hunting, it was patrolling. Spike sneered at him, cold and hateful.
“Patrolling is just the nice word for stalking and killing. I don’t play nice anymore, Xander. Got no reason to, do I?”
So Spike hunted and Xander went to school. Thanks to generosity of the Watcher’s Council, he could afford to live in the city without a job. But doing nothing made him twitchy and he decided to try college. Much to his surprise, he was a stellar student with a real eye for design. If all went well, he’d eventually get his degree in architecture.
He tried to talk to Spike about how this made him feel and Spike just sat there, stony and silent. Another thing they didn’t do anymore, feelings. He could talk about his classes, the new things he learned, or the stupidity of his classmates and Spike would join in, laughing or snarling. But he couldn’t ever talk about his feelings. Spike didn’t trust him.
Time to get the Spike and Xander show rolling. They always went out. Sometimes Xander would think back wistfully to long nights spent cozied up watching a movie or playing cards, just being together. But they couldn’t just be now. Xander understood, just like understood why feelings were off limits, why kissing was forbidden, why Spike wouldn’t come to his place once in awhile.
Spike didn’t trust him. Didn’t have one good reason to trust him and Xander knew he should be grateful Spike was giving him this chance. Sometimes he was grateful. Sometimes he’d see Spike’s face, shadows playing tag over the dips and hollows, and his throat would tighten up. That face, so pure and lovely when Spike smiled, so gut tremblingly erotic when he sneered, that face was the one he longed to see. Full lips that he remembered tasted so sweet, that slid over body with such reverent care, blue eyes that saw everything about him.
Didn’t see him now, though. This was the ungrateful part. The bits of Xander that wanted, selfishly and greedily, to be loved again and skip all this stupid trust crap. The little voice that wondered how long he’d have to pay for his mistake.
That was what Spike was waiting for and Xander understood that too. Spike had trusted him, fully and completely. Spike had loved him beyond reason and so Xander had hurt him beyond reason.
“Wasn’t me, Xan. I wouldn’t…”
“Just shut up. I don’t want hear this. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe you. They saw you, Spike.”
“Don’t care what THEY said. I didn’t do it. I wouldn’t. If you would just listen, I’ll…”
“Get out before I take a stake to you.”
“No! I’ll make you hear me, damn it!”
“How? Gonna chain me up, Spike?”
“If I have to, yeah. Do whatever it takes to make you listen, luv. It wasn’t me and you have to know that!”
“Don’t call me that. I’m not your love. God, how could I ever have thought I loved you? Buffy was right, and I should have…”
“Should have what?”
“Get out and don’t come back. I’m done with you.”
“I don’t love you. I don’t want you. It makes me sick, thinking about how I let you touch me. GET. OUT.”
He’d left. Xander finally found words strong enough to beat him down. It had been a mistake, a terrible mistake. A Slayer, poisoned with rage that her prey was allowed to walk free in their midst, telling lies. Lies he’d believed because he knew, knew, that it had to a scam. No other reason for Spike to be there with him. Now Spike wasn’t with him, and he understood.
Spike didn’t trust him because Spike loved him. Loved him still and feared him because of it. He held too much power, and Spike would never for a moment forget it. Eventually he might be forgiven, but Spike would never forget how terribly he had been wronged. Xander wasn’t sure he’d forget it, either.
Xander raised his hand to knock, and heard it. Spike’s soft sorrowful voice calling for him. Spike had sounded like that the night he’d thrown the blonde out of their house. So filled with pain and longing and confusion, like a child being punished without knowing why.
Xander tried to respect Spike and the walls he’d thrown up. He never dropped by unannounced, didn’t call without being asked, and generally made himself as unobtrusive as he could. But this was a horse of a different color. This was Spike needing him.
Xander threw up the unlocked door and rushed through the unfamiliar apartment looking for Spike. A few frantic moments of peering in various doors and he found the bedroom. Found Spike, thrashing in the middle of an enormous bed, calling his name plaintively.
Xander reacted without thinking. He climbed into bed, careful to avoid Spike’s flailing arms. Reaching out, he dragged the slighter man into his arms. Rocking Spike was second nature to Xander, rocking and holding and keeping the nightmares at bay with the sound of his voice.
Spike began to calm, his legs and arms moving fitfully as Xander held and rocked him. Spike never came out of these spells quickly or easily, almost as if the spirits that dogged him were reluctant to end their torment. It might be just that, Xander thought. Spike had killed a lot of people over the decades and who knew how many came back to get their own pound of flesh?
As Spike stilled, Xander took a minute to just look his fill. This face he’d memorized never changed and that comforted him in a bizarre raised on the Hellmouth way. No matter what happened, Spike would always be here. Xander blinked back the tears that stung his eyes.
That was what he’d stolen from Spike. The knowledge that he would always be there, no matter what. The contentment of having a love untainted by any bitterness or rancor. The certainty of knowing you’re loved and wanted and needed. He’d taken those simple pleasures and smashed them into a million pieces. He’d broken Spike.
The enormity of that slammed into him, and Xander couldn’t keep the tears back. They rolled down his face, a slow and steady rain. A finger trailed through the wet tracks, and Xander realized that Spike was finally awake. Aware. Staring at him.
Oh god, he’d busted in here and climbed in Spike’s bed. One more thing he’d taken away, the solitude and sanctuary of Spike’s place without him. Jesus, he was a grade A asshole. Maybe he should just go dust Drusilla and finish his little reign of Spike destruction.
Xander shook his head, sliding away from Spike. It was too much. He’d done too much and he couldn’t ever make it right. He didn’t need to hear it in harsh words and frozen tones. He knew.
“Hey,” Spike said softly.
“Hey,” Xander choked out.
“You leaving already, pet?”
“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “I get it, Spike. I took me two years, but I finally get it.”
“What do you ‘get’,” Spike asked cautiously.
“What I did. To you. To us,” Xander replied, voice ripe with shame.
“Hey, hey, none o’that.”
Spike latched onto him, holding Xander as tightly as Xander had held him. Spike crooned, nonsense soft and calming as his fingers brushed through Xander’s hair. Xander hung on fiercely, giving himself over to this last moment.
“I get it, I get it, I get it,” he chanted through his tears.
“Pet, luv, hush now,” Spike said frantically. “ ‘S over, done, yeah?”
“Can’t…can’t ever be over, Spike. Y-you don’t love me anymore and I’m sorry and I love you so much.” Xander was hysterical now; great gulping sobs putting him on the edge of hyperventilating.
“Do too love you, Xander. If I didn’t love you, you couldn’t hurt me like you do,” Spike murmured in his ear. “That’s what love is, pet.”
“I h-hate that! I hate th-that you think that. Love shouldn’t h-hurt.”
“Love doesn’t hurt, nit,” Spike thumped him affectionately. “Just means you can be hurt. If I didn’t care for you, nothing you did could hurt me.”
“B-but you don’t want me a-anymore. You don’t touch me or talk to me or…or…” Dizzy and weak, Xander gave up the fight to explain.
“Can’t, Xan,” Spike told him. “ ‘M afraid if I touch you, I’ll….lose myself. Can’t do that anymore. Need to find my own space, yeah? Need to be me first.”
Spike’s fingers weaved in and out of Xander’s hair, trailing down his face. Xander just lay there, relishing these soft touches. They sucked at words, always had. But their touches, their glances, those were proof. They filled in the gaps that words left behind.
“I’ve always been what was needed,” Spike finally continued. “Me mum needed a sweet lad, Dru wanted a deadly prince, Buffy demanded a hero. I changed like the winds, floating along for whoever would have me. And there’s so much of me that is all of those things. Still want to be sweet, deadly, heroic. Just have to…figure it out, I guess.”
“What did you change for me,” Xander asked.
“Tried to deny myself,” Spike answered. “You didn’t want the demon, so I pretended I wasn’t one. Got to be as bad as Angel for a while. Just another normal human with a bit of an allergy to sun and crosses, ‘cause that’s what you wanted.”
“I never forgot you were a demon,” Xander defended himself.
“Course you didn’t and you’d be stupid if you did,” Spike rejoined smoothly. “But not forgetting and accepting’s two different things, innit? I still want, Xander. I feel guilty as nine hells, but I still want. The sweet sounds of death, the scalding hot blood of a ripe chit being plowed, I still want it. Can’t make it go away and you din’t want to know, did you?”
“Still don’t, “Xander confessed.
“An’ I understand. But it’s who I am, at least part. I’m all mixed up inside. That’s why I haven’t been gettin’ up close and personal. Not that I don’t want you or love you. Just not sure who to be,” Spike explained. “And if I give in, take the comfort you’re offerin’, I’m afraid I’ll never know who to be.”
“So you still…want to be with me,” Xander asked hesitantly. “I mean, you want us to be together, assuming that there is an us which is in no way me assuming that. I’m not taking for granted guy anymore. Nope, definitely not. Just asking because there are no stupid questions, right? Well, some questions are…”
“Xander,” Spike sighed gustily. “I missed your babble. You’re the champ of the whole Scooby babbling team.”
“I am? Really?” Xander grinned tentatively.
“Yeah,” Spike nodded gravely. “Nobody can run on like you, luv. Now, what’s say we go watch some telly?”
Spike pulled Xander off the bed, dragging him towards the living room. Xander smiled and allowed himself to be dragged. Watching TV with Spike sounded like heaven right now. It was a start, anyways.