Summary: After his relationship with Anya fizzles out Xander and Spike become lovers. Xander’s insecurities lead him to seek help from
Notes: AU begins S6 replacing Hells Bells. No Dawn, Buffy didn’t die, and Season 6 Spuffy? Eewww no.
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Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here
This chapter brought to you by the incredibly patient kitty_alex and her cure-all for verbal diarrhoea. All waffling or boring parts are completely my own fault.
Spike had gone home via the den of the demon that was going to take care of his duster. The Zeeum demon had some talent for working with things that were once alive, leather and skins mainly. He’d revived Spike’s coat on many occasions, always in return for a bit of collection work. The guy was popular but it seemed that demon or human there was always someone who didn’t want to pay for a service. The coat would be dropped off by the apprentice later in the day. Spike promised to deal with some clients for him later in the week.
It was a fair walk from Xander’s apartment, one that wouldn’t have bothered him a few days ago, but he’d been completely buggered by the time he got home. His side was aching, nowhere near what it had been, but still it hurt. He’d pushed open the door, fully expecting to see the place trashed or taken over, but was surprised to find it in good shape. A note on the slab explained why. Tom had been over to collect his things on Friday night and had left a little Joudel spell behind to keep the unfriendlies out. Good bloke that Tom. Spike dumped his bags and checked the fridge. One bag of blood in the freezer. Pig’s blood. Well, it was that or nothing. He warmed it and swallowed it down quickly. Disgusting. He’d gotten used to the fresh human supply over the weekend. Pig’s was just filthy. Spike didn’t know how he would go back to it. He couldn’t rightly expect that Harris would keep their agreement though
He’d carefully negotiated the ladder to down to his bedroom, glad that he hadn’t tried it when he was in worse condition. That could have ended in a bloody broken mess. He stripped off the clothes he’d been wearing most of the weekend and climbed into bed. It was big, cold and empty. Nothing new there, it had been for quite a while now. But the last time he’d slept had been either in Xander’s heated bed or tangled on the couch in the boy’s arms. No point dwelling on that now. Boy had changed his mind. And bloody quickly he’d done it too. One minute lying there on the couch giving him cheek, the next on the phone with Red saying enough was enough. He’d thought they had chance at something but apparently not. Best just to have buggered off quick so there was no great scene.
Spike pulled the covers over his head and slept.
The worksite was deserted when Xander arrived. He pulled into his space and shut off the engine. This was a familiar place. The smell of fresh turned earth, cut wood, heavy oily machines; all those combined to make him feel home.
He let himself into the building, switched off the alarms and set about his normal routine. Power everything up, switch on the coffee pot, check the refrigerator for breakfast. The office assistant usually stocked it with something high in fat, high in cholesterol, sugar, and sodium; high in anything it should be low in. She also kept a bowl of fruit in the hopes that he might balance the pastries out a bit. It rarely happened.
She knew he was coming back to work and hadn’t disappointed. A box of Danishes and a plate of strawberries. He shifted the fruit out of the way and took out the box. A pot of coffee and a plate of heart attacks waiting to happen. Routine breakfast, Monday through Friday. Xander sat at his desk and took up the pile of phone message memos. There were a good twenty calls to be made as soon as the rest of the town was awake. Check the in-tray. Mail had mounted up, more memos, more development submissions, more distractions. If this didn’t keep his mind on track for the day then nothing could.
It was well into the afternoon before Xander stopped to take a breath, and then he wished he hadn’t. As soon as he took his mind off the endless papers in front of him, his thoughts swung back to Spike. Not giving him anything new, just rehashing the old. That was something he could do without, but his boss had brought him a bag of food and insisted he stop to eat. Xander took his lunch outside, sitting under one of the few trees that hadn’t been removed from the site. He leaned back against the trunk and ate mechanically, not paying much attention to anything, just running through each event of the weekend in his head. He was confused about Spike going so suddenly, a little hurt too but he was sure he was missing something. Anything that indicated Spike had been playing him. Each time he came up blank.
A deep resonating voice startled him out of his thoughts. “Now there’s a man with somethin’ on his mind.”
“Tom? Never expected to see you here.” Xander made to get up but at Tom’s signal he stayed put.
Tom lowered himself down with a grunt and a laugh. “Blasted ground gets further away each year.”
Xander offered his bag of sandwiches, holding it out while Tom dug around in it. “So what brings you here?”
“Oh just droppin’ off your first delivery,” he said, indicating the small cooler at his side. “Just leave this out by your door, and my guy’ll come around and fill ‘er up for you.”
Spike’s blood, he’d forgotten about the standing order. “Thanks Tom.”
“Problem? You look like someone ran over your new puppy.”
Xander looked at Tom. He was in two minds about whether to explain what had happened. If anyone would be able to help him work out what went wrong then it would be Tom. He knew Tom and Spike were not great friends but he and Rose were closer than anyone else to the vampire.
“What do you mean he left? He left town?” Tom’s voice showed his surprise.
“No, not town. Actually I don’t know, he might have left town, do you think he would?”
“Well I doubt it, so what then? He left you, your place? What happened, you boys have a fight?”
“No, well not one that I noticed. I just woke up this morning and he and all his stuff were gone, no note and he never said anything.”
“And you guys didn’t have a barney or nothin’?”
“Nope. Last thing he said was go have a shower and we were just gonna lie around and watch TV. He was feeling better and he really wanted to-. Um, he ah-. Well he was feeling much better.”
Tom laughed, “I know what you’re sayin’, me and Rosie caught the warm up act remember? And I must thank you boys for that, yes indeedy. Good value.”
Xander grimaced at Tom. Why did that just feel like walking in on your parents?
“Glad to be of service. But that was a warm up to nothing. He’s gone.”
“And you didn’t think to go ask him why? Did you want him to leave?”
“God no I didn’t want that. But I’m not chasing after him like a lovesick school boy. It’s pretty obvious Buffy was right. He was just in it for the blood and the warm bed, oh and why not get a bit of a feel while you’re there.”
“Xander, how did you jump to that conclusion? What did he do that made you think he was just lookin’ out for number one?”
“Didn’t have to jump, just took a little step and landed knee-deep in it. And what did he do? He left without a word.” Xander threw his lunch back in the bag; feeling a little sick to the stomach now.
“Look, the slayer’d have her own agenda, so you can’t say she’s right. Now I don’t know what’s in Spike’s head, but I spent a bit of time with you boys this weekend and, near fatal injuries aside, I haven’t seen him so laid back and happy for a long while. I’m havin’ a hard time seein’ him just usin’ you like you think.”
“Yeah, well evil masters can be shifty like that I guess.”
Tom snorted, “Evil master my arse. He can only pull that shite with other vampires, not you pal. You are different. And I would bet my bottom dollar that he was not tryin’ to fool you this weekend.”
“Tom, come on. Seriously. Why would he just leave like that then?”
“I think you might have got this all arse about. If you say there was no argument but then he left, somethin’s got to him, he would have let you know otherwise. You need to work out what happened.”
“But nothing happened Tom. It was fine, we were joking around, I went and had a shower, called
Tom thought for a moment. “One night at the Lion, Rose and I were in the kitchen having a bit of a disagreement; nothing serious mind, certainly not shoutin’. When I came out to the bar, that vampire of yours waltzes up from down the back of the pub, bold as brass, and tells me he agrees with Rose,” Tom paused and gave Xander a moment to catch up. “He heard us; over the TV and from the next room.”
“Yeah but even so, I was only talking to
“So what did you have to say about the Slayer?”
“God I don’t know, just her attitude, how sick of it I was, how I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.
“Right Xander, now imagine you are a self centred guy, with a short fuse and pretty good hearin’” Tom again waited for Xander to catch him up.
Xander looked at him in disbelief. “No, that would be stupid. I wasn’t talking about him, he wouldn’t-”
“We talkin’ about the same vampire here? Of course he bloody would.”
“I don’t know Tom.” Xander wanted to believe him but could Spike have been that presumptuous?
“Well there you have my take on it. Do with it what you will. Just remember you’re dealing with a head strong demon, he’s not always going to be rational. He screwed up but don’t be too hard on him.” Tom hauled himself up from the ground with more grunting and rubbed his back. “Good mileage indeed.” He chuckled softly. “Well that’s it then, I have to get back to work. I’ll leave to you reconsider your position there Xander. Don’t be a stranger now.”
Tom waved and walked off back to the parking lot. Xander watched him go and waved at the back of the truck as Tom pulled out on to the street. He hoped Tom was right about this. Surely if he was, it would be easy to set right. Maybe he could drop by Spike’s after work and find out. Xander picked himself up and went back to his office.
Tom picked up his phone as soon as he got into some smooth flowing traffic. “Rosie, you are not going to believe what those stupid boys have done.”
Spike had slept fitfully for most of the day, waking up tangled in the bedding and extricated himself, noting how much pain he did not feel. He pulled the bandage off his side. Healed. Still a pink scar, but closed over and no longer painful to touch. Rose was as good as her word. Spike dressed and climbed the ladder with much more ease than he had earlier. He’d just switched the telly on when there was a pounding at his door.
“William? Are you in there?” Rose’s strong voice carried clearly through the heavy door.
That was not the kind of voice you could ignore. Spike sighed and pulled the door open. A heavy black bundle flew at him, followed by a pissed off looking Joudel demon. His duster must have been delivered while he was sleeping.
“William Aurelius what have you done?”
Spike tried an innocent face and pointed to himself. “Me?” He tried to avoid her gaze by examining his duster. Clean and repaired.
“Oh, don’t you pull that one with me. What have you done to that boy?”
“Harris? Oh you got this all arse backwards Rosie, I didn’t do anything. He wanted me gone, so I went.” Spike threw himself down on his battered arm chair.
“And he told you this did he? He said he wanted you to leave?” Rose stood in front of him, hands on her hips. That body language meant business in anyone’s book, human or demon.
“He didn’t have to, I heard him call his friend. Said he’d had enough, it’d gone too far or some such.”
“So Tom was right. You eavesdropped on his conversation? Are you stupid? You don’t look stupid. Are you stupid William?”
“You have a point?”
“I happen to know that that boy has been sitting there at work right at this moment thinking he is not good enough for you. That you strung him along just to benefit yourself.”
“Course I bleedin’ well didn’t Rose. Wouldn’t do that to him.”
“But you left without a word and he had to draw his own conclusions. What did you think he would come up with?”
“I didn’t think anything, he wanted me to go. He had a change of heart.”
“He. Did. Not.”
“I heard him Rose.”
“You egotistical fool.”
“You overheard a conversation and because you are William the Bloody you immediately assume its all about you. Centre of the universe Spike, everyone must be talking about you. Nothing else happened to him last night, and there’s no one else in that boy’s life but you is there?”
“I heard him say “I don’t want to talk about him, he let it go too far’”
“And there is no other ‘he’ that Xander could have meant? Think William. What happened to Xander last night?”
Spike thought on it. Take himself out of the equation and think what the boy had been on edge about. Slowly the pieces fell into place. The Slayer. His old friend Buffy trying to off his new friend Spike. Makes you wonder why you bother. The slayer’s endless harassment of Spike culminating in attempting dusting. The Watcher taking Buffy away. I don’t want to talk about him either. Giles not stepping in sooner to rein in his charge. He let it go too far. Where was Xander today? Work. His haven from the Hellmouth. Looking forward to the routine.
Rose watched the expressions flitting over Spike’s face as the puzzle finally completed itself. “Are you with me now William?” she asked him none too kindly.
“Yeah. I fucked up Rose.”
“I’ll let that one slip seeing as I agree with you. So what are you going to do?”
“Dunno.” Spike looked to her for help.
“Oh don’t you look at me like that you silly vampire. You made this mess, you go and clean it up. And if you leave that boy waiting one minute longer than absolutely necessary I will have your hide.”
“You think he’ll want to listen?”
“Oh I don’t know, let me see? Go on thinking you are a worthless doormat and couldn’t possibly be desired, or, find out it was a misunderstanding and that the very attractive, but incredibly daft vampire really does want you and wasn’t using you. My goodness William, you’re right. That is a hard choice.”
“Goddamn it but you are a hard woman.”
“No I’m not, but you were being a tad irrational William.” She said in a softer voice. “Oh what that poor boy must be thinking.”
Spike avoided looking her in the face. What he had seen written there was disappointment in him, and from Rose, that was a worse than anger or hatred or annoyance. “Right then. Thanks for dropping in Rose.” He jumped up and held his door open, standing well back of the odd beam of light.
Rose sighed. On her way out she stopped in front of him. “William, don’t be a stubborn arse about this.” Rose kissed his cheek and gave his shoulder a squeeze. “I know he’ll understand.”
Spike nodded and offered Rose a tight smile, closing the door behind her. He stood and stared at the door long after she had gone. That he’d misinterpreted was a possibility he’d never considered. But now that he did, it seemed to fit. Typical of his egotistical self to assume it was all about him. What to do now? Rose was likely right, Xander would be looking at his own faults as the blame.
Bloody hell. Spike grabbed his coat and pulled the door open, jerking back and slamming it again. Soddin’ daylight. Still a couple of hours till sunset, meantime, Spike was stuck here with plenty of time to call himself all kinds of fool. He paced, he sat, he tried fruitlessly to sleep, he paced some more. Finally, the moment came when he felt the darkness edging its way across the cemetery. He stood by the door and as soon the sun dipped low enough, Spike threw it open and headed for the apartment.
Xander packed up his desk. First to arrive, last to leave. Grabbing his coat and, after a second thought, the cooler of blood, he locked up and headed for the car. Xander threw his things onto the back seat and pulled the car out onto the road bound for Spike’s. The sun had just gone down and street lights were flickering to life. Parking as close as he could to the crypt, Xander put his coat on and stuffed a small knife into his pocket. With his luck this weekend he wasn’t taking any chances. He bounded up to Spike’s door, knocked and waited. No answer. He pushed it open a crack and called out.
“Spike, you here?” Still nothing, no one inside. Xander went in and stuck his head through the hole in the floor and called again. No answer. He sighed and turned back to the door. At least Spike must be feeling better if he was out. Not wanting to risk too long a stay in the cemetery on his own, he ran back to the car.
On his way home he mulled over what Tom had suggested. The more he thought on it, the more sense it made. As he steered the car into his driveway the smallest trace of cigarette smoke drifted in through the open window. His heart thumped. Calm down Harris, it could be anyone. He climbed out of the car, collecting his things and sniffed the air. Nothing now, just the cool damp smell of early evening. Glancing around, he could see nothing out of the ordinary. Just wishful thinking. He put the blood in the refrigerator then went through to the bedroom, stripping off his work clothes and stepping into a hot shower.
Spike had raced to Xander’s not even thinking that the boy might not be back yet. Finding himself an out of the way spot in the shadows of a large tree and he settled in to wait. Half a pack of cigarettes and a hip flask later, he heard the familiar sound of Xander’s car. He watched as Harris got out and looked around as though he were searching for something. The boy shook his head and went inside. Moments later the lights in his apartment come on.
So what was he waiting for? Go up and tell Xander he’d got it all wrong, made a horrible mistake, wanted to pick up where they left off. How the hell would he do this? Offer an apology? Just waltz in and say hey I’m back, sorry about the mix up, let’s forget it? No he would have to come up with something better than that before he went banging on the door.
Xander finished his shower, feeling marginally better. He grabbed some faded old blue jeans and a T shirt, good comfort clothes. Out in the living room, Xander noticed all the curtains and a couple of windows were open and went to shut them against the cool night air. When it came to the window facing the street, he again got the smell of smoke drifting up to him on the breeze. As the breeze shifted, the smell grew stronger. Peering carefully into all corners of the garden he finally spotted it. There, by the dark shadow he knew to be a large tree; a red ember moving around and glowing brighter and duller in a regular rhythm. He stepped back and watched for a while longer, concealed by the curtain. Soon the ember vanished. Not long after, another cigarette was lit, the bright burst of light illuminating a familiar face.
So this is why he wasn’t home. But what the hell was Spike was playing at? Leaving and then lurking. Xander snatched up his keys, stuffed them in his pocket and jogged down the stairs. If Tom was right and he’d had some kind of misunderstanding then this was his chance to set things straight.
“Spike?” Xander called, as he trotted across the damp grass. “Why are you lurking? You gone all stalker vamp on me now?”
Spike stepped out into the open. “Not stalking you Harris.”
“Yeah? Well the pile of butts on the grass says otherwise.”
Spike shrugged. “I’ve been waiting for you to get home. A man needs a smoke while he waits.”
“I was late cause I stopped at your place. Why didn’t you come up when I got here?” he asked.
“Why’d you go to the crypt?” Spike countered.
Xander leaned against the tree and folded his arms. “I had a visit from Tom today, he had a theory and I wanted to see what you thought of it.”
“Wonder if it’s any different to what Rose flogged me with this afternoon.”
“Just taking a wild stab here, but isn’t it likely they’re both flying the same flag?”
Spike laughed softly. “Bloody likely. Right let’s hear Tom’s then.”
“You know what? No. I would much rather you just told me what the hell happened. I thought we were doing okay, then next thing, you’re gone and I’ve no idea what I did, or even if I did something.”
“Yeah well I thought that too, but then I heard you tell the witch-”
Xander held his hand up and shook his head. “Stop right there. Tom was right. I’ve been feeling like shit all day because you’re a self-centred guy with good ears.”
“Rose called me an egotistical fool too. Bloody know-all Joudels.”
“They aren’t far off the mark. That was a shitty thing to do.” Xander told him with an edge to his voice. “Spike, it wasn’t about you, you know. I was talking about Buffy, and Giles. She wanted to talk about what happened and I didn’t. Sure I mentioned you; I called
“Yeah I get that now.”
“But you never thought to come and ask me? Find out if you were right?”
Spike gave a wry laugh. “Well no. That would have made too much sense. Not half as dramatic right?”
“Can’t say as I’m a fan of that kind of drama Spike. You left me hanging.”
“Look, all I can tell you Harris is I monumentally bollocksed it up. Christ knows it’s happened before and it’ll probably happen again. Much as I like to argue otherwise, I’m not perfect.”
Xander considered this for a while. Was there any point in holding a grudge? It had been the misunderstanding that Tom suggested. “So as far as apologies go, this is as good as it gets right?”
“I’m admitting to a pretty big mistake here yeah? I don’t do that often so you should be feeling bloody special right about now mate.”
“Just so as we’re on the same page here Bleachie, if something like this happens again and you just take off like that I will come and stake you myself, got it?”
“Loud and clear.”
“Okay, so you know you have some major sucking up to do now, don’t you?”
“What do you suggest Harris?” he asked.
Xander looked at Spike. Those blue eyes were staring at him with as much honesty as he had ever seen. Those were the same blue eyes that had looked at him at various times over the weekend with laughter, lust, exasperation, passion and pain. Xander wanted him now as much as he had done over the last two days.
He looked at Spike and shook his head. “You’re a vampire and make up sex doesn’t immediately spring to mind?”
Xander turned away and walked back towards the apartment, looking at Spike over his shoulder with a smirk. “Shame on you.”