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 had figured on some measure of shock from the brunette, but was hardly prepared for the scream and lightening fast act of lying prone to a full body tackle that collected him around the waist and flung him back through the balcony door and into the shade. Spike landed on his back with an oomph, sunglasses and book lost in the fall, and Harris sprawled on top of him.
"Bloody Hell Pet!" He was about to say more, but Xander's hands began frantically, and none too gently, patting him down anywhere he could reach, accompanied by an almost sobbing "No! No… Oh Ghod, no, no, no! Not this… Not him! No, no, no, Ghod! Not now! Not burnt… burning! Not for me, for us… Wasn't quick enough… no, no no…"
Spike, after but moments, managed to gather his wits and halt the desperate man by pulling him down fully and, despite further struggles, stilled him by wrapping all four limbs around the squirming figure in the parody of a wrestling move. He held on tight and on instinct, began a low rumbling purr, with intermittent baritone, "It's OK Xan. Everything's OK… Calm down pet, I'm OK…"
Long minutes later he felt the surrender of the body above him and smelled salty tears. He released their legs and arms, placed his hands on the shaking, rather too slim, shoulders and slowly pushed Xander up until the man was sitting on his thighs, head still bowed and body shaking slightly. Spike waited until he heard the heart rate settle further, then ventured a hand under the boy's chin and tilted it up until Xander could do aught but meet his eyes with a pained rather disbelieving stare.
Spike cautiously watched as disbelief gave way to wonder and relief, quickly followed by embarrassment and a measure of indignant anger when Xander finally realised he was, in fact, sitting on the vampire. At that point the vampire smiled a little, and softly ventured, "You right now, luv?"
Xander stood with what little dignity he could muster and backed to the safety of the wall, fists balled as though to defend himself. Spike rose also, and made a point of brushing himself down, "Right, well… p'raps we can take this outside and I'll try to explain, OK luv? No bursting into flames for me, an' no rugby tackles on your part - not that it wasn't appreciated, pet." In any other circumstance Spike would have tried for levity but recognised knife edge control when he saw it, so simply walked back out to the balcony, lit a cigarette and sat down.
Xander remained for a moment then followed, sitting heavily and staring at Spike *in the sun* and working hard to make his hands (and whole body for that matter) relax. Not knowing what exactly to say he settled on "Sorry", then proceeded to look down and pick nervously at the cover on his chair.
The blonde exhaled heavily and leaned forward a little, "'s me who should apologise, pet. Should 'a known to give a bloke fair warning before sprinin' that on you, but nice moves by the way - sentiment appreciated, ever the White Hat you."
"But you're still a vampire! Why? How? When?…"
"All fine questions, luv. Not sure as I'll have the answers, but reckon I'll try."
"But blood, and stake through the heart, and the…"
"All still the same mate. Just got me the sun is all I know for now. Least that's all little brother an' I 've been able to suss out."
"Wait… little brother?? What?! … but Giles didn't…"
Spike finished the sentence for him, "… Say anything. Would have thought as much. Not really much on the sharing that one. And before you ask, he doesn't know about this, the sun I mean, nor a lot of the backstory, and I'm trusting you to stay schtum yeah?" He looked at Xander hard, trying to assess the boy's willingness to keep more than a few of his secrets, without that as a premise his kernel of a plan for the next few weeks, or longer with luck, simply could not proceed.
Getting no reply but somehow satisfied by the look of surprise he received he flicked his spent cigarette but over the balcony, and made a move for the door, pausing at Xander's, "Wait! Where are you going?"
"Don't fret, luv. Kitchen. Beer. Back here in a jiffy for a tell all. Alright?"
True to his word, Spike returned with a six pack of beer in under a minute, handed one to Xander and settled into the chair opposite with his own. "Right then, tell me the bits you know and I'll try to fill in the gaps, yeah?"
The discussion lasted most of the afternoon, Spike learning more details of Xander's time after Sunnydale, his rationale for seeking out the Watchers' Council, and brief log of his experiences since. Spike for his part, gave Xander an overview of his own history for the same timeframe, pausing to answer questions as gaps in Xander's knowledge became apparent. By the time the beer was consumed and the shadows lengthened, both men were 'talked out', not everything revealed of course, but it was a start.
They finally fell into a companionable silence, deep in their own thoughts, Spike smoking his last cigarette and Xander picking off the label of his third beer.
Eventually it was apparent to both that there was a chill in the air and it was time to move. "C'mon Harris. Need to move ourselves. Run out of fags for one thing, 'n figure we could go for a bit of a wander, see what we can spy around here."
He heard Xander's heart rate pick up at that, but there was no sign of distress in the man's face, rather it seemed they were both keen to stretch their legs at least once for the day. "Right then. I need some proper kit on if we're walkin', meet you downstairs in five."
Spike was barely inside his bedroom door as he stripped off his black T-shirt and tossed it toward the unmade double bed. What little clothing he had brought with him was neatly hung or folded in the floor to ceiling wardrobe, including his ever present, beloved black duster. His hand brushed the soft leather lovingly but he left it on the hanger, instead pulling out a short, stylish biker-style jacket, his tight black, near new Ramones T-shirt and belt with a matching silver buckle. The latter two items making him smile fondly. They had been gifts from Connor’s adoptive sisters on his ‘birthday’, a date he had divulged after much cajoling on the part of the youngest Becky.
The pretty brunette reminded him so much of Dawn with her intelligence, enthusiasm for life and giggly ‘William worship’, as Connor described it. The older sister Pippa was far quieter, a gifted painter, who frequently rolled her eyes at her younger sibling’s antics in the presence of Connor’s friend William. She was the spitting image of her mother, slim and attractive with long soft auburn curls and particularly gentle smile reserved for those she was close to, of which William was one. He and Connor were both fiercely protective of the pair, and the girls made it plain that they adored Connor *and* William in return.
Spike smiled at his thoughts of Connor’s family, his by proxy, and finished dressing. He ran his fingers through his rather unruly hair. It was two-tone as he had not bothered to bleach it for some time, but his natural blonde and longer fringe gave the overall impression of being stylishly rakish. A pair of very dark, wire rimmed, round designer sunglasses completed the ensemble (dually serving as protection for his light sensitive vampire eyes and the measure of anonymity he still desired). He patted down his pockets, sprayed on some expensive aftershave (another gift) and descended the stairs whilst fitting a solid silver earing and adjusting the thick chain around his neck.
He was met by a quiet “Geez!” of surprised approval from his flat mate standing at the kitchen counter, but chose to ignore it, filing the definite smell of unsolicited, mild arousal for consideration later. Instead he commented casually, “See you’re ready then. Got a coat? No telling how the night will turn out weather wise.”
They exited the building, Spike noting with some pleasure, the decided spring in Xander’s steps as they made their way through the small well-manicured Soho Square they could see from their balcony. “You seem a might cheerier mate.”
Xander frowned a little at the comment then shrugged, “It’s just good to be outside I guess.”
“That it is. You got anywhere you want to be in particular.”
“Um, not really. But I kind of looked up where we are online, and I thought we could maybe just walk for a bit. You know, find where things are. If…well… if that’s OK with you.”
“Right you are then. Lead on McDuff.”
The streets were bustling with people, some obviously on their way home from work, others window shopping, while tourists seemed deliberately out to frustrate the locals by happily stopping mid footpath to snap ‘selfie’ photos in front of anything vaguely ‘Londonesque’ with the camera on their phones. Spike didn’t react for the most part, but drew the line and almost growled when a young group of giggling school girls somehow decided he was a celebrity of some sort, then followed he and Xander for almost a block.
They were eventually stopped together at a level crossing, and to Spike’s horror, and Xander’s look of genuine amusement followed by wicked commentary of, “Come on Will, it’s not paparazzi at least”, his fate was sealed. Photo with the blonde ‘celeb’ taken, the girls were off, leaving a bemused Xander with the vampire muttering promises of dire retribution to be dealt the brunette sometime in the future.
With the sun well and truly set, Spike deliberately steered Xander away from the fast food chain stores on the major thoroughfares and wandered down a number of back streets where finally, and to Xander’s joy, they discovered a small, obviously extremely popular shop and café specializing in all things chocolate. The brunette was all but salivating at the delicacies in the window, and nearly missed the fact that his companion had already gone inside to ask for a table.
Some hour or so later, Spike was left wondering how on earth one individual could consume quite so much at one sitting and still manage to spend twenty or so pounds on “chocolatie goodness” for later, although he had to confess to having had two enormous hot chocolate beverages with ‘the lot’. The first was (he claimed) to compare it to Joyce Summers’ homemade cocoa, and the second, allegedly to confirm his assessment of the first.
It was almost ten and the retail sector winding up as they began to wind their way home. Shoppers gave way to restaurant and bar clientele, and random groups of people threading their way toward various theatres in the area. Spike grumbled that he felt like he was taking a puppy for a walk as Xander, still on a bit of a sugar/cocoa/caffeine high, all but bounced along beside him looking every which way but where he was walking. Twice the vampire had to stop him from stepping out in front of a moving vehicle, the second time by grabbing the boy around the waist and physically spinning him back onto the footpath. Xander didn’t seem to mind the contact, and was in such good spirits that he simply slapped the blonde lightly on the back and thanked him then kept on walking.
Close to home, Spike recognized the name of the street Giles had written as his supplier of ‘the good stuff’. “Think we could swing by that off license down there pet? I reckon it’s on our way back and I could murder a drink.”
Xander only half heard the last part and before properly processing the statement, stopped dead in his tracks. Surely Spike was not back to drinking humans, or worse, killing them for their blood. Giles would have said something wouldn’t he? Or Spike would have let on earlier. His eyes went wide and mouth hung open as Spike went into game face momentarily and grinned. He could barely see the frightening visage before it was gone again, and belatedly realized that Spike was simply sniffing the air before moving again.
Spike had taken a couple more strides then turned back to see what on earth had distracted the boy this time. Xander looked pale and Spike heard the escalating heart rate and breathing, and smelled abject fear emanating from the man. He immediately thought there was some as yet unseen threat the boy, his vampire visage came to the fore ready to defend the boy from some unknown foe, but quickly ascertained the problem when Xander spoke.
“You… you wouldn’t! I mean you don’t… do you? You know… I thought with the bags and…” Xander was staring at him, on edge, frightened. Spike then realized how the previous statement may have sounded if the boy really had no idea regards his feeding habits post Sunnydale. He moved closer to the boy, venturing a cautious hand out and placing it gently on Xander’s shoulder, forcing the brunette to meet sincere crystal blue eyes that begged understanding and calm.
“Come on Xan… I said murder A drink - as in ‘really want a beer’, not take a human life. Bloody hell pet, haven’t munched on the locals since you that wanker Nikki’s boy fixed the First’s trigger in Sunnydale. Boss Watcher really has kept you out of the loop. Just meant we should pick up some booze is all… Come on Pet…” He dropped his hand satisfied that Xander believed him, or at least, was trying to, and let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. He turned to walk on again and Xander fell into step beside him.
They walked to the next intersection in silence, Spike noticing with some relief that Xander had noticeably relaxed, in fact had a hint of a smile on his face. “So you don’t think I’m a ‘nummy treat’ anymore then?”
Spike snorted his own wry amusement at remembering the circumstances of that comment, replying “Nah… not in that sense anyway.” He was about to try for a ‘come hither’ leer but at that exact moment a truck backfired loudly nearby, very nearby.
Instantly any of Xander’s restored good humor was replaced by the sense of cold, all too familiar dread as his memories of firefights and death flooded in. He instinctively flung himself forward onto the ground, collecting Spike en route. They collided with an unfortunately placed lamppost in the process and landed in a tangled heap on the pavement.
Spike was so shocked at the reaction that he was unsure of what to do next, but swiftly scanned the area for anything sinister using every enhanced sense he could engage. Nothing found, he shook off his fangs and game face that had emerged in natural response, just as a group of three couples rounded the corner. Spike extracted himself from the tumbled tangle and pushed himself to his feet to crouch beside Xander’s prone figure as an older gentleman at the front of the group rushed forward to assist.
Ignoring the audience, Spike put a cautious hand on Xander’s arm resulting in a flurry of movement and the ex Scoobie near crab-walking backwards as fast as he could until his back hit the nearest shop front where he remained in a seated ball with arms protecting his head.
Misinterpreting the scene the older gent assumed some sort of altercation, but nevertheless kept moving. He only halted when he saw the worry in the young blonde man’s face and heard, “It’s OK Xan… Nothing’s gonna hurt you… it’s OK.”
Spike saw the movement in his peripheral vision, and spared the man a glance, only taking his eyes from Xander for long enough to meet the good citizen’s squarely, putting a hand out to halt him. “Sir, please! My friend was just… He thought it a gun shot… I…”, satisfied the advancing figure had stopped, he turned his attention back to the terrified, crouching figure. “Come on Xan, it’s me. We’re fine… You’re OK… It’s safe…”
Now surrounded by the others in the group, Spike kept his focus on Xander whilst trying to placate the obvious concern of the crowd, fielding questions as best he could, in particular from the older man who was now on one knee beside him. “Do you need an ambulance?”
“No! Boy’s just… Xan… Xan! C’mon… look at me… Listen people just back up a bit, yeah? Xan you’re OK.”
Xander did not move again, but did allow Spike to ease his hands from where they were held tight to his hair, though his head still remained firmly between his knees. He smelled blood and quickly assessed the damage, noting a steady drip of red from a cut on the forehead and nose flowing onto Xander’s shirt.
The man spoke again, this time putting a kind hand on Spike’s shoulder, “If you’ll allow, I’m more than happy to help your friend… is there something I can do? I’m Dr Jonothan Pierce, physician.”
Spike noted the genuine concern in the man’s voice and willed himself to calm before supplying further information, not releasing his firm hold on Xander’s hands, or taking his attention from his comrade. “Boy’s just panicked is all. Heard the truck, thought it was gunfire I reckon. Too bloody long on active duty. Thought we were under fire. Come on Xan, that’s it, look at me, hey? Let’s see that pretty face o’ yours, c’mon Xan…”
The kindly doctor shook his head a little muttering, “Another casualty of our blasted foreign involvement,” then more loudly to Spike, “So this has happened before. Is there perhaps someone specific we should call?”
Spike could hear Xander’s heart beginning to return to its normal pace and breathing even out. “No, I think the worst is over. That’s it Xan… can you look at me now? Just a peep so’se I can see where you’re hurt… That’s it just a look. Nice doc here to help too.”
Bewildered, frightened chocolate eye finally lifted to meet concerned azure blue pair. His eye patch had swung askew in the fall and blood was streaked down his face, Spike noting a cut and swelling lip in addition to other injuries. Apparently the missing eye confirmed Xander’s status as returned young soldier to the rest of the group as several “Oh dear” and “Oh my lord”s were expressed. One of the elegantly dressed ladies reached forward and handed her husband (?) a purse sized pack of tissues, “Here Jon, it’s all I have I’m afraid, but it might help.”
Several minutes later and with Spike still holding Xander’s hands, the blood flow was stemmed with careful efficiency and the doctor stood with a slight groan. The vampire finally released his charge, patted his shoulder but left him seated and rose also. His well-practiced rough speech was gone as he offered the doctor his hand, “Thank you, sir, for stopping. Few would not have, I wager.” Spike offered a rather bloodied hand out to shake that of Dr Pierce.
“Not at all. Not at all. Can we offer you a lift anywhere? I still think your friend may be in need to be looked… ah…” Spike realized he had not identified himself and true to his proper Victorian manners, “So sorry, William, William ah... Aurelius at your service. My friend here is Alexander Harris. And we are most grateful for your offer, but we are only a block or two from our lodgings, so it’s probably best we make our way there. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” Spike noted the slight frown on the man’s face so sought to placate the concern, “Rest assured, Dr Pierce, I’ll have him looked at. I have his regular doctor’s number at home.”
“Indeed, well, here is my card should you need anything. My rooms are in Mayfair and there are a number of well known specialists in the same building.”
Crisis averted and their ‘rescuers’ satisfied, Spike watched as the group continued on its way still audibly discussing the sad plight of returned soldiers past and present, and congratulating themselves for stopping to assist. He waited until they turned the next corner and disappeared before squatting down again and gently stroking Xander’s now matted fringe back from the injured forehead. “You OK to get up now pet? Reckon you can stand?”
Finally Xander responded, his voice rather rough, and looking at once grateful and more than a little embarrassed, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” Attempting to struggle up, he accepted Spike’s hand and leaned on him heavily as they stood, “I just… can we just stay here for a moment, I think my foot’s gone to sleep.”
Spike did not let go of Xander’s hand as the two again made their way toward the off-license that was, happily, located only minutes from home.
As they made to enter the shop, Xander paused causing Spike to come to a halt also. “Problem luv?”
“No… I just… my shirt’s kind of bloody and… you know…”
“It’ll be fine pet. Anyone asks we’ll tell ‘em the other bloke looked far worse.” At that Xander finally grinned, then grimaced as his injured lip protested.
The shop was empty but for a single attendant seated behind an over full counter, where a late night football was playing on a tiny television. When the man failed to acknowledge their presence, Spike pulled Xander behind him and addressed him directly. “S’cuse us mate, we were told to ask for Sahil. Name’s Spike, erm, William Aurelius? Come for a special delivery, Rupert Giles’ the watcher…”
The reaction was instant, and excited, as the man leapt to his feet and raced around the counter, “Master William!! William the Bloody!! You are back!”