Nothing the Same, Book 2
Rating: PG13 - NC-17 Individual chapters will carry specific warnings.
Feedback & concrit: yes, please
Disclaimer: don't own them, never will, just playing with them
Spoilers: Anything from Season 1 on.
Summary: sequel to Nothing the Same.
Previous parts here
“Hey, Spike. You’re up early.” Xander swung his backpack onto the kitchen table and opened the refrigerator. He emerged a moment later with a frozen snack pizza and carried it to the microwave, wrestling with the plastic wrap they insisted on smothering the boxes with.
“Giles is taking care of the leftover magic chocolate.” He grinned at Spike over his shoulder. “He got Snyder to convince the Mayor to issue a recall, claiming the chocolate was tainted at the factory and was making people sick. The Mayor made a speech on the news about it and promised to seeks damages against the factory. They’ve been broadcasting it on the news all day.” The cellophane ripped suddenly and he had to make a quick grab to keep from dropping the pizza. Popping it into the microwave, he turned to face Spike, shaking his head in bemusement.
“Personally, I think Giles blackmailed Snyder. I’m thinking photos of Snyder hitting on Mrs. Williamson at the Bronze last night. Her husband is this huge truck driver and gets really jealous. I can’t think of any other reason that Snyder would listen to him. He and Giles don’t exactly see eye to eye on anything.”
The microwave dinged and Xander tweaked the pizza out and onto a plate. Turning back towards Spike as he took his first bite, he saw Spike watching him steadily. “I’m sorry, Spike. Did you want one?”
He set his dish down, intending to put a second pizza into the microwave. Spike liked pizza and always shared them with Xander. He was crossing to the refrigerator when Spike spoke for the first time.
“When exactly were you planning on telling me that Willow did a spell on you?”
Spike watched as Xander froze for a bare second before turning with guilty eyes to look at him.
He’d spent the day stewing over what he’d learned last night. He’d even rousted his lieutenants for a sparring session on the main floor to help burn off the anger that kept returning whenever he thought about Xander lying to him; Xander trusting the Slayer and the Watcher over him; Xander taking everything that Spike did for him for granted then throwing it back in his face.
After an hour’s session, three on one, he’d emerged panting and bruised but calmer. His three lieutenants had limped back to their rooms, much the worse for wear and the watching minions had been greatly impressed. It was the first time most of them had seen Spike fighting all out and it had been gratifying to see that even the stupidest of them hadn’t missed the fact that the lieutenants were still alive only because Spike hadn’t wanted to kill them.
Dismissing his lieutenants, he’d spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv and occasionally pacing the apartment, thinking about how he was going to calmly discuss the situation with Xander. He would lead into it gradually, he wouldn’t be aggressive or confrontational. He would just explain firmly, but kindly, that Xander was completely in the wrong. Xander would see that Spike was right and everything would be fixed between them.
Apparently, he hadn’t quite burned off all his frustration in the impromptu sparring session. Now, fisted hands buried in his pockets, Spike cocked his head to one side and waited for Xander’s response.
Xander turned carefully, trying not to look like someone who was in the wrong. That hadn’t been a shot in the dark. Someone had told Spike about Willow’s little foray into the dark arts. From Spike’s expression, it was obvious the cat was well and truly out of the bag. In fact, the cat was obviously out of the bag and dancing on the tabletop. There was no way he could claim ignorance or that Spike was mistaken.
“Kind of… never,” he admitted. At Spike’s darkening look, he added hastily: “Maybe not never-never, more like eventually-when-it-will-be-so-long-ago-y
“Xander, you lied to me.”
“No, I didn’t. I just didn’t tell you what happened. I didn’t actually lie about it.” Xander thought back to that day. He was pretty sure he just hadn’t mentioned what Willow had done. How had Spike found out about it anyway? Oh. Wait. His magic induced talking jag last night. Great, he couldn’t even blame someone else for this.
Spike’s blue eyes were showing a hint of yellow and his whole body was stiff. “So tell me now,” he ordered and Xander sighed.
“Willow did a truth spell on me. It was right after Angel came back and you’d hidden him from Buffy. Buffy thought you’d killed him and kept asking me where you were. Willow did a truth spell to help Buffy get her answers.” Although he tried, Xander couldn’t help the shiver that ran through him as he remembered Willow’s black eyes boring into him and felt again the magic prickling inside his mind. Spike was not looking even slightly appeased and he hurried on. “Giles came in and stopped her. He ripped her a new one. I’ve never seen him so angry. He’s been monitoring Willow ever since and giving her all sorts of punishments: reading about people who’ve misused their magic and stuff like that.”
It was almost a relief when Spike broke off his unrelenting glare and turned away, beginning to pace back and forth across the kitchen, obviously struggling to control his anger. His silence was unnerving. Usually, Spike’s anger was accompanied by noise: taunts, threats, and running sarcastic commentary. Spike was making way too much of this, just like Xander had feared. “It wasn’t that big a deal, Spike. Really. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you but I was afraid you’d over-react.”
“You’re tellin’ me Red did a bit of black magic on you, something that could have permanently harmed you, but it wasn’t a big deal?” Ok, maybe the silence had been better.
“Pretty much.” Xander tried a smile but it died rapidly under Spike’s withering glare. “Look, Spike, you’ve got to admit, you tend to over-react to this kind of thing. Giles handled it and it’s over. I didn’t see any point in getting you all upset when everything was over and there wasn’t anything you could do about it anyway.” Xander could hear the exasperation in his own voice even as he struggled to keep his tone reasonable. He’d made the decision not to tell Spike for a reason and, now, hearing Spike’s rising growl, he knew he’d been right.
“See! This is exactly what I wanted to avoid - the growling and the game face and the ripping off of important body parts. You’re over-reacting.”
Spike was moving before he even realized it. Grabbing Xander, Spike shoved him up against the wall and pinned him there. Glaring at his Claimed, he growled: “You lied to me. You trusted the Watcher to protect you. You’re my Claimed not his.”
“Spike!” Xander put his arms up and tried to push Spike back. Spike didn’t budge, leaning forward even further into Xander’s face as he snapped: “Back off. I said I was sorry.”
Spike was barely keeping his temper in check. Now that he knew exactly what had happened, he wanted to tear the witch apart with his bare hands, to thrash them all within an inch of their lives until they understood the hazards of interfering between a Master Vampire and his Claimed.
He had to make Xander understand or he would give in to the almost overwhelming need to lock his boy in the apartment and never let him out again. Xander took for granted the freedom Spike gave him and didn’t seem to realize how hard it was for Spike or how unusual it was for a Claimed human to be allowed to roam freely during the daylight hours, alone and unsupervised. Spike had allowed it because it made Xander happy and because it was good for his boy and Xander was throwing it back in his face.
Almost shaking with the effort it took to control his anger, Spike forced himself to relax his grip and step back just a little. He was rewarded for his forbearance by Xander folding his arms stubbornly and glaring at him without the slightest showing of repentance.
Seeing Xander staring at him like that, apparently baffled by Spike’s anger, Spike felt like shaking him till his teeth rattled. How could Xander not see that Spike lost face when he didn’t know what was going on with his Claimed? How could Xander not know that Spike needed to protect him? His demon was screaming with the need to keep Xander chained by his side, and Spike was sorely tempted to give in to that need, to make Xander a typical Claimed human: obedient and submissive, paraded before his Court, by his side day and night. No more waking up in an empty bed and having to learn after the fact and secondhand what had happened during the hours they were apart.
Spike closed his eyes, breaking their glaring match, and let himself picture it. Xander, naked in his bed throughout the long days, ready and available for every erotic impulse, his own cool body wrapped around the delicious human warmth as they slept through the deadly sunlit hours. Xander, by his side during the long, boring Court sessions, sitting obediently at Spike’s feet, leaning into Spike’s leg as Spike toyed with the dark waves of his hair, his brown eyes filled with bitter resentment and hurt. Spike swore to himself.
It always came back to that: Xander wouldn’t be happy if Spike kept him as a traditional Claimed human. The love that shone so clearly in his dark eyes would vanish, to be replaced by confusion and even hatred and Spike couldn’t bear for that to happen. He let Xander run free because it made Xander happy and that happiness was reflected back at Spike. They didn’t have a lot of hours together but the hours they had were filled with more love and quiet happiness than Spike had ever known. He’d known for a long time now that he was going to have to be patient with Xander, give him time and the freedom to develop and mature. He just hadn’t realized how hard it was going to be.
Opening his eyes, he studied Xander. His boy had lost his defiant glare and was now vibrating like a tuning fork with anxious distress, waiting for Spike to talk to him. He allowed himself to soften a bit at the reminder of how important he was to Xander. Xander loved him. He didn’t always understand how his actions affected Spike but he loved Spike and that was worth a lot.
It was worth everything.
“Xander,” Spike began, more quietly than he’d thought would be possible a minute ago.
Xander puffed out a quiet sigh of relief as Spike broke the long silence that had stretched between them. His own rising anger had been checked as he realized agitated Spike was. He’d never seen Spike shifting in and out of game face like that, fists clenched, obviously struggling to control himself. Eyes closed, his brow ridges thrown into prominent relief, Spike had been as distant and unapproachable as the most terrifying demon Xander had ever studied. As the silence stretched out and Spike still didn’t speak, Xander felt his stomach tightening into knots at the thought that somehow he’d done something unforgivable and Spike was going to tell him to leave. He hadn’t thought he’d done anything that wrong, not relationship-ending wrong anyway.
“Xander, you’re my Claimed. Means you belong to me. We’ve worked out our own ways of doing things but that part doesn’t change. I’m responsible for you. It’s my job to protect you and I can’t do that if you lie to me.”
“Hush, luv, let me finish.” Xander was so relieved that Spike had called him ‘luv’ again that he closed his mouth without protest and let Spike finish what he was saying. Besides, he didn’t understand what Spike was going on about, this seemed way off the topic.
“You don’t trust me, Xander…”
“That’s not true,” Xander interrupted, unable to let that pass without correcting it.
Spike’s voice overrode his.
“Trust me with yourself, Xander. You don’t trust me with other people.”
Xander shifted uncomfortably, looking away as Spike’s gaze bored into him. He couldn’t deny there was some truth to that, he did tend to not tell Spike about things he was afraid Spike would overreact to.
“I lose face if my Claimed doesn’t respect me and that’s dangerous for both of us,” Spike continued remorselessly. “Can take care of myself, Xander, but I won’t have you putting yourself in danger needlessly.”
“Spike…” Xander didn’t know what he was going to say but Spike didn’t let him get any further.
“No. This isn’t up for debate. You’re mine. I’m judged by your behavior: if I can’t keep my Claimed in line, I’m not respected as Master of the Hellmouth. I’ve kept you separate from that as much as I can, but demons are aware of your existence. Don’t give a piss what most of them think, and I can handle any challenger that wants to take me on, but you make me vulnerable, Xander. If they think they can get to me through you, then someone’s going to try it. And that makes you vulnerable.”
“That’s not fair. I’m not part of your Court, only a few of the vampires even know my name, and I don’t exactly hang out with any of them.”
“Xander,” Spike said sharply, “you’re not stupid, don’t act like you are. Every vampire in the Court knows who you are, what you look like, your name, your scent, everything. You’re the source of constant gossip, because you aren’t a typical Claimed human. I don’t treat you like a pet and you aren’t seen at Court. That makes you very unusual. Hardly a member of the Court doesn’t speculate on our relationship and whether they can use it against me in some way: either by currying favor with you or by using you against me.”
Xander stared, aware that his mouth had dropped open and he was probably looking like the village idiot. He’d talked to Spike’s three lieutenants a number of times, Jose the most frequently, but he probably wouldn’t even recognize most of the other vampires who made up Spike’s Court. How could they all know him, much less spend their time talking about him?
Spike made an exasperated sound. “They all know it’s death to lay a finger on you Xander, but I can’t stop them from watching you when you leave this apartment. I can’t stop them from thinking - not that most of them spend a lot of time doin’ that - and I can’t stop them from puttin’ two and two together.”
Spike glared at his clueless lover, who still looked astonished at what Spike had just told him. “I trust you, Xander. I trust you to tell me what’s happening during the hours I’m not with you. I trust you to not put yourself unnecessarily in danger and I trust you to tell me when people have put you in danger. What am I supposed to think when even the bloody Slayer knows more about your life than I do?” Despite his best efforts, the hurt he felt at being left out threaded through his angry tone.
“When someone hurts you, I’m seen as weak if I don’t do something about it. A weak Master can’t hold his territory or his possessions.” When Xander still looked more disbelieving than convinced, Spike continued remorselessly. “We talked about this last year when Angelus went off his rocker. Almost the first thing he did was attack you because he knew he could get to me through you.”
“Ok, point taken,” Xander acknowledged. “But Spike, the members of your Court don’t know what goes on at the school during the day, so they wouldn’t know about the spell. What would you have done if had I come home and told you: ‘guess what? Willow used a spell on me and I’m scared it might have caused permanent damage’? You would have gone all over-protective and tried to kill her.”
“Xander, protecting you from people who are hurting you is not being overprotective. It’s just keeping you safe.” Spike was about to point out blisteringly that Xander shouldn’t assume that vampires couldn’t know what went on at the school. Not like his boy didn’t know about the tunnel and basement access to the school. But Xander’s quick response cut him off.
“It is being overprotective when I have to worry about you hurting them physically after it’s all over,” Xander answered hotly. “See, that’s the point, Spike. It was over already and it wouldn’t have done any good to say anything. I didn’t want you to get all angry when it was over and taken care of already.”
“Taken care of how? Watcher givin’ her a lecture? The wolf poutin’ at her and tellin’ her he was disappointed in her? Slayer probably applauded her.” Spike was getting angry all over again as he thought about it. Humans had such bizarre ideas about what kind of things deterred people. “You think any of that is actually going to change her?”
Xander looked away, his own doubt showing clearly in every line of his body. “I don’t know,” he answered, barely audibly. “I hope so.” He turned back and said earnestly: “I know it probably doesn’t make sense to you but, even after what she did, I don’t want you to kill her.”
Xander could see the baffled frustration in Spike’s eyes. To Spike, it was simple: you killed whatever it was that was causing problems - problem solved. He tried to think of a way to put it that Spike would understand. “It’s kind of like you and Angel: even when you were pissed off at him and he deserved it, you didn’t really want to kill him.” He could see that that had sunk in as Spike’s mouth twisted in a frustrated grimace. After a pause, he asked quietly. “Was I wrong? What would you have done if I’d told you?”
Spike met the searching eyes and answered with flat honesty. “Don’t know for sure, luv. But I haven’t killed any of them yet because I know you don’t want me to.”
“How about we agree that I’ll tell you if something like that happens again and you promise you won’t kill any of them unless you have to, to save my life?” he offered. He knew Spike would never accept not placing Xander’s life above another’s and, if it came down to Willow or Buffy getting him killed, he wouldn’t have a problem with Spike stopping them. Ok, he’d have a problem with it, but it was one he could live with.
“You promising to tell me immediately whenever one of your little friends does somethin’ stupid, whether you think it’s a big deal or not?” Spike clarified.
Xander winced at hearing his own words thrown back at him. “Yes. Honestly, Spike, this is the first time since we’ve been together that I’ve kept something like this back.”
Spike looked skeptical but somewhat mollified and Xander wound an arm around Spike’s waist, relieved when the vampire didn’t shrug him off. “I love you, Spike. I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
Spike let himself be held, feeling the tension gradually leaving him. He could tell Xander was sincere and that helped. The compromise didn’t sit well, although he was depressingly certain that his Sire would approve - if he ever found out about it. Spike had no intention of letting Angelus know that Spike was so whipped he’d agreed to forgo a demon’s right to avenge their Claimed except under the most extreme circumstances.
He couldn’t help growling a little at the thought of having to hold back and conform to human standards but then he’d always been love’s bitch. At least it wasn’t tea parties with bloody dolls this time around, he thought resignedly, winding his own arms around Xander and holding his boy tight.