Sequel to None So Blind
Summary: Xander is returning home, Spike follows.
Warnings: Foul language, AU, spoilers for all of Buffy and Angel
AN 1: I've gathered the bits that were posted in the comments as well as a couple scenes after. The muse is being difficult, so I'm not sure how long until more will be posted.
AN 2: Flashbacks are in Italics.
He didn't care.
Nope, he wasn't going to think about it.
Jesus, why couldn't he just stop thinking about it?
It's not like there weren't other, more important things to think about. Like how Joyce was, and how he could help Buffy and Dawn, and how the hell that son of a bitch could-
He was not going to think about how angry that jackass made him. Instead he'd just watch the scenery and not think at all.
Nope, no thinking for the Xan-man. No thinking at all. Not gonna even consider why his chest hurt and his head and he couldn't breath right and he felt so fucking betrayed that-
Fine. He knew a lost cause when he saw it. Stupid brain wanted to think about that bastard, he'd think about him. Think about the months he'd wasted following Spike around like a stupid fucking puppy. A puppy too dumb to leave when he was kicked, too stupid to realize he wasn't wanted, but not important enough to bother getting rid of. Maybe he should feel proud. After all he was finally worth the bother. Spike made sure he couldn't beg his way back in.
Boy didn't that just fucking chafe, ordering security to keep him out, like he was one of the obsessive groupies he'd helped protect Spike from for the last few months. Or worse, like one of his used lays. That fit though didn't it? Sure he'd managed to stick around longer than the one night tumbles Spike would pick up from time to time, but that didn't make him any better than them, or even luckier. That just meant he knew what he had lost better than they did.
God, he just wanted to forget the shit that had become his life. He wanted to forget Joyce was sick, and forget his heart was broken, and forget every other fucking crap thing. Not for the first time, he wished he could follow Spike's dubious lead and just drink or smoke or snort his life away for a few hours. But of course he knew how that shit fucked Spike up, and if something could fuck up a master vampire, then it certainly wasn't for the likes of Xander 'the loser' Harris.
Xander looked out the tinted bus window and watched the empty night and wasn't crying. If his face was wet, well, that was just condensation from the window, or sweat, or anything really, but it sure as hell wasn't tears. He was not going to be that person. The person crying cause his 'sort of, somewhat, when he was convenient' boyfriend finally decided he wasn't worth his time. He could accept he was a loser, but please don't let him be that pathetic.
He fell asleep with his head on the window, with the sounds of the bus's tires on the road, and tears streaming their way down his face. He fell asleep and he dreamed about the past.
Spike settled in to his seat, belt fastened like a good little passenger, and wished to Christ he could have a smoke, or a snort or anything really to take his mind off of just how badly he'd managed to fuck things up with Xander. He'd known full well the boy was broken before anything had ever started. He'd let his own bullshit get in the way, and that might just cost him the best thing he'd ever had.
God he hated flying. Crap movies, crap food, crap attitudes. Not to mention the crowding, the poncy security guards, and the bloody limit on booze. He was a fucking vampire, two little bottles of Jack was not going to cut it.
Finally he'd had all he could take, awake wasn't an option anymore. He either needed to get some sleep, or he was going to end up holding the next smiling bint who declined his requests for booze hostage until they made with a large amount of tiny bottles.
He shoved the pathetic pillow under his neck and wrapped the scrap of cloth they saw fit to call a blanket over himself. Ten minutes later he was asleep, and several stewardesses were looking much calmer. It seems passenger number 12 B had been growling at them every time they walked past.
As he lay there, breathing every few minutes, he started dreaming about the past.
Anya's screams for help and Willow's somehow accusing silence haunted him while he tried door after door. He knew he could find help here somewhere. Someone who knew the Initiative, someone who could help him save his girlfriend and his best friend from them. Someone he'd ran off, with his smart mouth and his insults. Instead of help, all he kept finding were his failures; Harmony and Larry's bloody corpses, Cordy with a piece of rebar in her chest and hatred in her eyes, Faith sneering at him so he knew how he just wasn't enough.
Every night he searched and never found the one person he was looking for, the only difference this time was that very person was who woke him up. Now that it was much, much too late.
"Hey, whelp, you really should consider getting that witch of yours to uninvite scary vamps like me after you let them sleep over." Spike said with a mild sneer. He hadn't left on the best of terms, but he sure as hell wasn't expecting the punch to the nose that the Harris git gave him.
After picking himself up off the floor and straightening his well busted nose, Spike glared at the man now glaring right back at him. "What the shit was that for, wanker?"
"Where the fuck have you been, Spike? It's been two fucking years and we needed you and you just fucking left, you son of a bitch. You left." Xander was fighting back both rage and tears. He really wasn't completely sure who the rage was meant for.
"Course I left. You lot wanted me gone, so I found an elsewhere to be. You couldn't have made that any clearer if you'd have tried." Spike said, warming up to his self-righteous anger now.
"We didn't want you gone, asshole. In fact I spent way too much time trying to find your undead ass. Angel said you'd been by, but that he didn't know where you'd gone off to. We needed you, hell I needed you, and you were just gone and we couldn't find you and it's all your fault, you bastard." Xander his lost battle on both fronts as he began crying and punctuating his words with fists pounding on Spike's chest.
Spike's anger fell away, cause this was Xander Harris, and Xander Harris didn't cry, let alone on vampires he hated. Something had happened, something so bad that it had broke Harris' spirit, and despite his still evilness, knowing something hurt the boy who'd took him in and still respected him enough to fear him even with the chip, well that just pissed him off.
He started running through possibilities in his head, while he cataloged the contents of the basement around him. It was even more dismal than before, and honestly he hadn't thought that would be possible. It looked like a Rahatath nest; dirty clothes and broken bits of things thrown in anger and abandoned to time, and old wrappers and boxes from food lacking any semblance of nutrition, and worst of all it reeked of despair. There was no sign of demon girl's things, and no pictures anywhere, although he was pretty sure that broken bit of frame in the corner had held a picture of him and the witch and the slayer once upon a time.
He realized the boy was crying himself right back to sleep in his arms, and Spike let him. Once the boy was out, he'd go get the rundown from the one person, besides Xander, he figured he could get away with visiting, Joyce.
"Red's catatonic? And they dissected his bird? Those bleedin' bastards! Er... excuse the language, luv."
"Lord knows I've called them worse, Spike. I'm just so very grateful they didn't get their mitts on Buffy or on you again. Who knows what they'd have done."
"That's the thing, though. I may not like it, but I understand why they'd come after me, and the slayer for that matter, but why go after Red or Anya? They were both human." Spike said quietly.
"According to the files they found when they managed to pull Willow out, they were looking for physiological changes caused by Anya having been a demon, or by Willow's magic. I'm so glad poor Tara managed to get away. She and Oz are trying to make a go of it. They were both in love with Willow, and both of them blamed themselves. Tara for not keeping Oz out of the Initiative's hands, and Oz cause they were coming in to rescue him. They're taking care of Willow, you know. Neither of them would hear a word about putting her in some sort of private care."
"I know losing Red and his bird would be a big hit for Xander, but he's really bad off Joyce. It's been almost two years. Boy looks like he just got the news."
"Xander tried to stay tough. Losing Anya hurt him, but Willow was the real hit. You know they've been friends since kindergarten, right? Well, the more time that went by without her coming out of it, he just sunk lower and lower. The only thing that got him fired up was the Initiative."
"Slayer was there to help him out, right?"
"Oh yeah, but there was just so much going on at the time. He threw himself into finding the information to bring them down. I guess there were a lot of unpleasant things in the files they managed to get out. Things that had him going through all Giles' books and to just about every source he could find in town. Apparently a lot of non-violent demons were being experimented on and he was determined to save as many as he could find."
"Well that's different. Droopy was always all demons equal bad." Spike said with more than a little bitterness.
"I don't think he knew any better. Rupert told us after everything that he knew they weren't all bad, but that it could cost Buffy her life if she had to worry about this demon or that demon being borderline good. I've never wanted to hit anyone more than when he said that. Trying to manipulate my emotions like that, can you imagine. Trying to say it was better that Buffy kill indiscriminately, than to teach her to know the difference. Xander still won't talk to him. And now with Buffy cutting him off, I'm worried. He feels so damned guilty, Spike."
"Wait, Slayer cut him off?" Spike asked, astounded.
"He blames himself for everything. He thinks if he didn't run you off like he did, you could have helped them get in and out, without the girls being caught." Joyce started to explain.
Spike looked at her strangely. "Who says Harris ran me off? Sure we had words, but I'm more than a hundred years old, luv. No child is going to run me off if I want to be somewhere. He just opened my eyes is all. Afterward, a friend had a job opportunity, and I took it."
"Well, Xander doesn't know that. He felt bad right away, even before things went to hell with the Initiative. Came here to see if I'd seen you."
Spike looked at her amazed. "Wait, how'd he know I'd come to see you, luv? I never let any of them know. Your daughter is a mite protective about vampires coming over for tea an' sympathy."
"He followed you one night and sat watching to make sure I was OK. After you left he came in and made sure I was alright with it. Once I said yes, he never mentioned it again." Joyce said.
"He never told?" He asked.
"As far as I know, Buffy still doesn't know."
"What does Buffy still not know, mom? And let's start with why Spike is sipping tea from your good china." Buffy said coldly from behind them.
Spike sauntered up into a defensive stance, but didn't make a move towards her. "Just havin' a cuppa and some gossip with yer mum, Slayer. I got a gig in town and ain't planning on staying more than a couple nights. No trouble for you an' yours and still chipped right and proper." He said, trying to keep things calm for Joyce's sake.
"A gig?" She asked. "Just what sort of gig do you have in MY town, Spike? Another one of your lame-o plans that end with me kicking your ass?"
"Buffy! Language young lady." Joyce admonished.
"Yeah, language, Slayer." Spike sneered.
"William, over a hundred or not, keep that up and I will turn you over my knee."
Buffy slumped down in a chair in amazement as William the Bloody, one fourth of the Scourge of Europe, wilted like a corrected child under her mother's stern attention.
"Yes, Ma'am." He said, taking a seat opposite Buffy, and then reached for his teacup.
Joyce calmly poured Buffy a cup of tea, and sat down at the end of the table, taking a sip of her own cup before she picked up the strands of their conversation. "So a gig? Have you started singing again, Spike?"
"Yeah, this demon I know, Clem, nice fella I'll have to introduce you sometime, anyway, he had a cousin who's band had lost their lead singer to the Initiative. They had a tour all planned and the possibility for a recording contract, but they needed a singer. Clem knew I was at loose ends, and made some introductions. We're pretty popular in the demon venues, and we're just starting to break out in the human music industry."
"That's wonderful news, dear. I'm so proud of you. Isn't that great, Buffy?" Joyce asked her still stunned daughter.
"Huh? Oh, yeah great." She said, without enthusiasm.
"So, Joyce, what was it you were telling me about Harris not patrolling anymore. You'd think with the way things were going, that'd be just about the only thing he had left."
"You don't get to talk about Xander!" Buffy screeched. "If you hadn't left, he wouldn't be as bad off as he is. I wouldn't make him stop if I didn't think it was for the best. He's going to get himself killed, if he keeps patrolling." Buffy started crying, and then cried harder when she realized who she was crying in front of. "He takes too many risks, especially if there's the chance that something might not be evil, even if they're beating the crap out of him. He was going to get himself or us killed. I just can't lose him too, not like that."
"Joyce, luv, I'm gonna go. Slayer needs you and I need to take care of some things." He said as Joyce moved to hold her daughter. She nodded at him with understanding.
Xander woke with a start. The bus was pulling into one of its infrequent rest stops. He patted his pockets down until he found one that had a few coins in it, and slipped off the just stopped bus with the others seeking the ever elusive working soda machine. Once he'd procured a bottle of Pepsi, made a pit stop in what had to register as one of the nastiest human bathrooms in the state, and stretched good and proper, it was time to get back on the bus.
He slid back into his seat and tried to forget the dreams. He tried to forget the strong arms of a thoroughly irritating vampire, and he tried to forget the first time Spike slid into him. More than anything he just wanted to forget it all, the good and the bad, then maybe the horrible weight on his chest would let up.
He woke with a start and looked around the empty basement. It must have been a dream. Something worse than the nightmares really, cause he'd wanted to believe Spike had been back so badly. He threw himself back down onto the bed, and began to think of all the things he wouldn't be doing, and the friends he wouldn't be seeing. Anything to get Spike off his mind before he went even more insane.
His head was pounding and his eyes felt like someone had boiled them and stuffed them back in his head. A shower might've helped, but he really didn't see the point just now. He was due into his most recent crap job and would end up smelling like grease and dirty dishwater in record time no matter what. He threw on yesterday's grungy uniform and walked out the door and straight into Spike.
"We need to talk." The new wall in front of his door stated.
Xander remembered the night before and colored slightly before moving to step around Spike. "Sorry I hit you, it wasn't your fault, it was mine." He mumbled as he slid past, only to be grabbed gently by the vampire and moved back into the basement.
"Find something a bit cleaner, and a bit less fast food chic to put on, Harris. If the bright colors don't blind a body, the stench of old grease will kill at twenty paces." Spike ordered.
Xander almost got indignant over that, but then remembered vampire senses, and figured there would be another shitty job tomorrow. He even went so far as to shower, albeit quickly, before throwing on what was probably his last clean outfit, a pair of jeans that were a tad too small, and a black t-shirt he belatedly realized had probably been Spike's.
Spike watched him as he stepped out of the bathroom and then led Xander out the door and into the night. Xander didn't know where they were going, and honestly didn't care. He followed Spike without speaking, or even paying attention to where he was being led, and was rather shocked to find himself outside the new club in town, Hell Fire.
"I'm really not in a dancing sort of mood, Spike." He said, trying to pull away. Instead he was pulled to a side entrance, and into the club.
A voice called out to Spike, from one of the dressing rooms in the hallway Spike had pulled him into. "Dammit, Spike, you're cutting it way too fucking close. You guys go on in less than half an hour." The voice belonged to a bald black guy carrying a clipboard and looking frazzled. "I've told 'em three times to get the wires taped down on the stage, but so far nothings been done, so watch out for that, and both Jelfries and Bobbie keep trying to challenge each other to a duel over some underage groupie who claims to know you. See if you can get them to either shut up or go ahead and kill one another."
"Oye, no allowing band members to kill one another until they've found suitably qualified replacements. You know the rules, Gunn." Spike said with a smirk. He glanced over at Xander, who looked fit to burst with questions, before he made a formal introduction. "Gunn this here is an acquaintance of mine, Xander this is Gunn, he runs the crew and generally is an all around pain in my arse... but he's good people. He's gonna keep you company while I get ready." With that Spike disappeared into another door, leaving Xander standing there confused.
"Crew? What the Hell?" He turned to look at Gunn for answers and found the man watching him with amusement.
"C'mon let's find you a good spot to watch the show." He said with a smirk, leading Xander away.
Spike glared around looking for a sign with anything close to his name on it. Gunn had said there'd be someone waiting at LAX for him, but so far he wasn't seeing anyone. Frustrated he turned to head for a taxi when a hand grabbed a hold of him and suddenly pulled him down a narrow hallway.
After his initial "Oi, watch the leather, mate." he kept silent until he found himself slammed against the wall, golden eyes and sharp teeth inches from his face.
"What did you do to Xander and what the HELL are you doing back in LA?"
"Lovely to see you too, Peaches. I'm bloody fine thanks for asking. Careers going well, bollocksed things up a bit in my private life, but I'm doing my best to take care of that, around my busy schedule of being slammed into things and threatened. So how are you these days?"
"Spike... " Angel said in a nearly defeated manner, "what are you doing back here? And why is Dawn of all people calling Cordelia to find, and I quote, "High quality torturers at discount prices to teach that bleached moron how to treat her Xander."
"That is not bloody fair. He can't sic the bit on me without giving me twelve good hours head start and at least one chance to grovel for forgiveness first. I should have bloody well known he wouldn't abide by his own damned rules. Good on 'im." Spike said in a cross between horrified and proud.
"I officially do NOT want to know, forget I even asked. Just get yourself out of L.A. before Cordy can finish that list."
"I'm touched, really I am." Spike smirked. "But really, I'm just passing through on my way back to Sunnydale. I wouldn't bother with stepping foot in your territory if it weren't the closest airport, or for a gig, or you know to make fun of your poncy hair... or car... or that abnormally large forehead... or... you know I could go on like this all night but I need to get to Xander, and hopefully cut Dawn off at the pass before she figures out how to hire Tarakans."
With that he slipped past Angel, grabbed his carry on and made his way over to a chauffeur holding a sign with his name on it. Fifteen minutes later he was ensconced in leather seats while his driver navigated his way out of the constant snarl of traffic around the airport. He watched the tinted world go by and thought about Xander.
Spike led Xander around various crew members and around to the side of the stage, pulling him to one side of the hallway or another every so often to avoid people rushing around with full hands or busy minds, who couldn't be bothered to get out of their way.
"Let me get this straight," Xander started, "You have a band?"
"Yeah, their alright blokes normally, but you throw a pretty groupy into the mix and those two just cannot avoid a fight over who gets 'er."
"You have a band... of musicians?" Xander was still staring at him, rather stunned.
"No Harris, a band of merry men." Spike said shaking his head. "Of course a band of musicians."
"And you do what exactly... in this band?" Xander was giving him the strangest of looks, like Spike was some difficult puzzle who's solution was avoiding him.
"Generally, lead vocals." Spike said with a smirk.
"So when I wake up will you still be in town or are you just a part of my apparent hallucination?"
"Cheeky bugger, I know I'm a dream an' all, but this ain't one. This is why I left before. It wasn't you or us fighting. I got an offer to join up with these guys, and I was looking for someplace to belong."
"So you thought you'd join the demonic version of N'Sync?" Xander asked, still bewildered over the whole situation.
"The original is demonic enough, luv, no need for imitation." He smirked. "Besides, we're not exactly a teeny bopper group here."
"Oh yeah complete with 'underage groupies who claim to know you'" Xander sneered. "Just what underage groupies would possibly know..."
The pair shared a look of horror and then spoke as one before turning and rushing back to the band's dressing room. "Dawn!"