Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: Xander has PTSD after rescuing one too many slayers. Spike is recovering (sort of) after the battle with W&H. Fate may have it they eventually find each other - she's funny that way.
Spoilers: Sometime in early season five – or possibly late six BtVS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
Spike smiled weakly at the ginger headed Matthias, “Right grateful then mate. Figure the lad here has filled you in on what I am, least as much as he knows.”
Matthias smiled back then gave Connor a quizzical look, “Well some. You’re his half brother to his birth father and have been working with Angel at Wolfram and Hart law firm for the past year or so. There was some sort of terrorist attack. Connor went back to look for his Dad but the emergency crews wouldn’t let him near the place, then he found you in an alley practically dead. He rang me and brought you back here, though he didn’t tell me the full story until we got back here, all I knew at the time was that you don’t have insurance and I since I work in the ER anyway...”
Connor had the wherewithal to look a little guilty at that point and picked up the story, “Matti here has been looking after you, sewed up the worst of your wounds, set both your legs and left arm, brought enough blood for the first few days, and changed your drip…”
Spike’s eyebrows went up at that and belatedly he realized that indeed he did have an IV line taped down on his lower right arm.
Connor gave Spike a small nod noting some confusion, “We couldn’t get you to drink too well and Matti figured painkillers and well...”
“So I must have been pretty bad…”
“As close to really dead as it comes.”
“How long since…?”
“Two weeks, and either I’m a great doc, or you have the best healing time on the planet, or both. Still Connor told me that it was kind of normal for your family.” Matti grinned at that, “Now you’re awake we can probably get rid of the IV in a day or two, see how you go. Anyway, I’ll leave you two to catch up I guess. I’m… I’m sorry about your dad.”
Spike felt a stabbing pain in his chest and tears instantly threatened, he still managed a quiet, “Yeah, thanks.” Before Matti moved to his bedroom door and disappeared from view.
Spike moved slightly but the sun was clearly shining on his very pale forearm. The strange part was that there was heat to the rays, unlike the necrotinted windows at Wolfram and Hart which was strange, but when Connor stood and moved to apparently open the window, he pulled said appendage back immediately with a rather panicked, “Oi! Don’t fancy frying!”
Connor simply smiled and said, “No necrotinting Spike. You seem to… well just trust me on this one.” With that he pulled up the window and swept the blinds aside fully until the entire room and Spike’s nude torso was in bright sunlight.
The look of wonder on his face was priceless, Connor grinning even wider.
He moved slowly, as if in a dream wiggling fingers and let his eye fall closed as he faced the sun directly. Suddenly Spike had no control over his emotions and did the only thing left to him… accepted the proferred from Connor and held fast to the strong male form beginning to cry in earnest. His distress was marked not by the quiet sobs of the upset adult, but rather the bone shaking cries of a lost child, screams of a bereft lover, the ultimate distress of parent losing a child… He didn’t need to breathe but it seemed his body not only wanted to, but also struggled as his sobs alternated with attempts to speak to vale lost ones then tried to whoop large gasps of unnecessary air.
Connor simply held on…
After long minutes, he opened his eyes again, pulled away a little, cleared his throat and wiped his face roughly with the palm of his right hand causing the IV line to tug a little. When he looked at Connor again it was with true puzzlement and a not so small amount of embarrassment. “Sorry ‘bout that. But… not human cause no heartbeat so far as I can tell, ‘n can hear yours clear as a bell, so how??”
The young man sat down on the couch near Spike’s splinted legs placing a gentle hand on the plaster, “I figure you’re a day walker now, you know like in that movie Blade. I guess when Illyria went all postal it must have done something to you…” He shrugged and looked down at his hand on Spike’s plaster. “She wasn’t there when I found you, but I figured it must have been her that caused the blast.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense, she was standing over me is the last thing I remember. Came to for a moment or two but figured the bright light was just all part of it, never figured it for the sun proper. Passed out after that, ‘n you know the rest.” Spike stared thoughtfully at the younger Aurelian for a moment before continuing, “So why’d you…?”
“You’re family Spike, and you fought the good fight along with Angel, our well… Sire, and I figure he loved you and would want me to keep you safe, plus you’re the only one who really knows me now – you know the vampire part and that makes you important to me, really important.”
Spike ducked his head, then looked up to stare into Connor’s pale blue eyes and saw the truth of what the boy was saying, breaking into a shy smile, “Your Da loved you, was right proud as punch when he knew you were at Stanford. Yeah the ol’ bugger was right proud.” He couldn’t continue past the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat and he could see Connor struggling to hold back tears also.
They sat in silence for a long time after that, not quite sure what else to say, but sharing the grief was somehow comforting in itself as both remembered Angel’s part in their turbulent and unusual existence.
Finally Spike yawned a little and Connor stood and stretched, “You need to rest some more. I guess I’ll just go heat you some blood now that you’re awake. You need some more pain killers too?”
“Nah, much as it hurts still I figure that’s just the bits pullin’ together, plus not all to keen on the floaty feelin’ that comes with, and I’m sure you’d rather not I be sick on the bedding if I’m eating proper again.” Connor screwed up his face a little at that and made for the door to the kitchenette in the small apartment, but paused when Spike asked, “We still in L.A. then? Last I heard Stanford was a good eight hours away.”
“Yeah, I had to come here for one of my uni assignments – was supposed to be doing some hands on experience at Universal, looking at the changes they’ve made to their Studios, the financing and promoting that sort of thing. I kind of caught up with dad before the big showdown, and during. Saw him kill some tall guy in a flash suit – we kind of fought him together for a bit until dad worked out that he could drain him. He told me to go after that, so I ran. The building had started to shake really badly, I saw dad heading in the opposite direction. It was the last time I saw him.” Connor’s voice trailed off for a minute.
“When I found you, you know, after, Matti said I could extend my stay. I’ll still have to do the study but that’s OK, I’ve done all the research already. When you’re up to it you can, well if you want to that is, you can come with me when I head back. I was going to move out of the frat house anyway ‘cause there’s just too many distractions, and I’m sure Mum and Dad will agree if I put it like that. I’m on scholarship so money’s not such a big deal.”
“Money won’t be a problem pet, got my own stash from back in the day, haven’t touched it in a long while, all safe ‘n sound in good ol’ neutral Schweiz. I’ll pay my way so long as I’m welcome. No doubt Angel has some squirrelled away for you too.”
The ensuing days saw the former vampire healing (at least on the surface), physically and emotionally. The casts came off and though he was still a bit shaky if he stood for too long, Spike doing what he did best, adapting and shifting his focus to the ‘day at hand’.
As soon as he was able, he made himself useful. He cooked for Matthias and Connor, lay out in the sun on days that were warm, and even cleaned for the two boys. Anything that would take his mind away from his grief, the loss that when he allowed himself, had him on the floor of the kitchen holding his knees and crying like the bereft childe he truly was.
It was late Connor had retired to bed early, claiming the next day they had to do the drive back to Stanford and he wanted to be rested. Spike was reading and Matthias was bent over his computer at the main table, apparently focused on some article or other online.
He had become used to the presence of the quiet young man who was apparently a half brother to his friend Connor, though he was still a little unsure of why or how.
“What’s the study?”
Matthias startled then turned to smile at their erstwhile ‘houseboy’.
“Not sure it would interest you, but it’s a history paper on the British Legal system, specifically looking at the history of the Queen’s Counsel and rule changes applying to them over the twentieth century.”
Spike took a seat opposite as he snorted an “Oh, general knowledge or hobby?”
“General knowledge actually, one of my patients is a retired lawyer. He was talking to me about how different our system is in the states versus UK. It just kind of… well I figured it would be nice to learn a bit more.” He went back to his reading so very nearly missed the murmured, “Studied Law at Oxford back in the day.”
Matthias looked up surprised, “You don’t look…” He was about to say old enough but then remembered what Connor had told him about vampires being really old. “So that was what mid twentieth century or something?”
Spike laughed out loud at that, “Nah mate, finished me articles in ’73.”
“That still would have been interesting, all that flower power stuff and Vietnam…”
“1873 mate. Women still to get the vote n’ all that.”
Matthias’ eyes went wide, “So you’re what? One hundred and something?!”
“A hundred and fifty five at last count, turned vamp in 1880.”
“I… Wow! All the changes you must’ve seen?! All the progress - just amazing!!”
“Yeah, guess it’s one of the perks. C’n be bloody frustratin’ ‘n lonely at times too, ‘specially after Dru left.”
When Matti simply sat and waited looking like he wanted to ask a million questions, Spike added, “C’mon mate, I know you want to ask sommit or other. Fire away an’ I’ll do me best at an answer or three.”
They ended up talking until the early hours of the morning about all manner of things. Matthias drifted off to bed eventually with his head full of images of women in bustles, horse drawn carriages and lavish décor of Victorian England. He would be genuinely sad to farewell his guests and return to solo life, but was buoyed up a little when he learned that Spike (or William as he had established his human name to be) was quite web savvy and promised to reply to emails should Matthias be so inclined.
Giles wrapped Xander in a blanket as the terrified young man continued to shake violently despite being curled up in a fetal position on the lounge suite, hands over his ears to try to stop all noise input, and eye squeezed shut tight.
Giles kept Xander in plain sight as he reached for the phone and rang the number for an after hours visiting doctors’ service. Twenty minutes later a young medic knocked on the door and Giles ushered him in.
“Is he on any medication already?”
“Are you allergic to anything Mr Harris?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“Has this happened before, the panic I mean.”
“Never. Not even in the middle of a fight, not even after I lost my eye.”
“Well, I’ll give you a light sedative for now, but you really would be best to see someone pretty much immediately.”
“I… I’ve been seeing a couple of counselors since I came back, but…”
“I would recommend attending a psychiatrist, he or she can take it from there. I’ll write a referral to a Dr Hokin. He’s a young guy, pretty up with folks who’ve seen active duty, kind of his specialty.”
The doctor injected Xander in the arm and handed a script for valium to Giles then rose to leave. Walking to the front door and just out of earshot of Xander the doctor turned to Giles. “I really think you should contact the psychiatrist today. If you tell Hokin I sent you and the circumstances he might even be able to fit you in this week.”
“Yes, indeed. Thank you for all your help and candour. I’ll do what I can.” He shook the young man’s hand and the doctor departed.
Two days later Xander was seated outside Dr Hokin’s office looking miserable, picking at a loose cotton on his light summer sweater and staring at nothing in particular. Giles was worried again as, since his panic attack Xander had not said more than three words in a row, eaten nothing, and had obviously not slept more than a few hours, even then crying out in his sleep tp the point Giles himself was feeling rather stressed.
Xander had returned from Africa obviously thin, but now was positively haggard and had been wandering Giles’ small back garden incessantly during the day for the past two, apparently trying to find some balance. None seemed to come and the shaking was still apparent.
Admitted to Dr Hokin’s rooms he was ushered in to a warm modern style consulting room and invited to sit.
Dr Hokin with his long hair pulled back in a ponytail and wide Hollywood smile did not immediately put Xander at ease, but in the ensuing hour, as the ex-Scoobie and recently returned Watcher answered all manner of questions, he eventually relaxed, his shaking hands stilling for a moment or two before the crux of the matter was tackled head on.
“So… are you sleeping?”
“Well, yeah. Not always at once.”
“I wake up… but everyone does that… you know to pee.”
“And you remember what wakes you?”
“No! Yes! And No… sort of. Giles says I call out and cry, but I don’t really remember.”
“How much sleep do you get – you know… straight through before you have to ‘get up’?”
“Two maybe three hours.”
“So how much sleep do you get in a day?
“I figure four is OK and six a bonus. Why?”
“No matter, Xander do you wake up to noise or movement in the house where you reside?”
“Well of course! Doesn’t everyone… I mean if there’s a burglar or…”
"How long have your sleep patterns been disturbed… and by that I mean compromising, giving headaches or exhaustive feelings?”
“I…. Forever.” Xander slumped down into his chair at the last admission. It was as if a balloon that had held him just above water had burst and much to his shame, he covered his face with his hands and cried.
Dr Hokin said nothing until he calmed, handed him the tissue box then made a suggestion that caused Xander’s heart to skip several beats. “I really think you would benefit from a short stay in the Delmont. It’s a private hospital, you’ll have your own room and en suite. Just until your sleep is sorted, and we can sort some antianxiety and anti depressants while under supervision. I’m fairly sure there’s a bed coming up tomorrow or the next day.”
Xander sat stock still for a moment then stated flatly, “So I am officially insane. Just… please, can I talk to Giles because if you guys are going to do something that involves being strapped down or, I don’t know, bars? There’s gonna have to be a court order.”
Dr Hokin simply smiled and handed Xander a card. “Mr Harris, the Council of Watchers is fully insured for their employees so your stay will be in our private facility. You can sign yourself out at any time.”
Giles delivered him to the door two days later, Xander signed his name in a rather shakey hand, and he was directed to his new abode for the next four or so weeks.
And strangely enough, despite all his worry about stigma or horror stories of mental hospitals of bygone eras, he relaxed on the first night after sleeping meds prescribed by his doctor kicked in (the first of seven days of sleeping tablets as agreed to). A fitful ten hours without worry of attack or dire consequences for charges. Dreamless and comfortable, and utterly surprised, he realized on the second morning that he had almost missed breakfast sleeping twelve hours straight. Xander nodded to the male nurse on his wing and headed to consume a hearty cooked breakfast before confronting his first day of official ‘therapy’ sessions.
Signing up for art therapy and a more worrying stress understanding and management session before lunch, he still felt relaxed for the first time in what seemed like… forever. Still he knew, he was in a private hospital, the people around him were struggling with their own ‘demons’, he just hoped his would be found to be neuro-chemical rather than 'real' insanity.