Author: Bear (mirasol)
Disclaimer: Again, really not mine, because I’m still not Joss. Damn! Still not making any money from this.
Notes Set post-N.F.A. My take on pensive here is serious, deep, sad thoughts, so there’s a tiny bit of angst.
“So…” Not really a question, because God forbid that either of them should ever realize that they’re liked. No, questions lead to conversations, which lead to tolerance and understanding.
It’s simply an opening, a chance for that runaway mouth to get back on track, because it’s just wrong that Xander has clearly come to terms now with the uncomplicated beauty of silence.
Or maybe he just bored himself dumb over in Africa.
Whatever the reason for Xander’s quietness, Spike doesn’t like it; he’s taken it upon himself to bring back the old Xander. Least he can do after Xander had given those crusty fuddy-duddies a metaphorical good old one-finger salute and sped to help them out in that alleyway.
He hates to admit it, but Spike has no doubts that he owes his very survival to Xander – and it’s strange to be grateful to the one person he could have relied upon to say hated him. Course, the hundred or so Slayers that had tagged along had been a nice extra touch – especially as Angel was still pissing vinegar that he didn’t even get anywhere near his dragon.
Spike tries once again, pitching his voice a little louder, as he slowly moves towards Xander who is sitting, head in his hands, on the steps of the porch. “So…”
Xander looks up now at the sudden noise and, for just a few seconds, Spike doesn’t see him. There aren’t any tears running down that masculine face in front of him, but it’s as though Spike has been dragged a couple of years back to Buffy’s house.
Perhaps it’s déjà vu that makes Spike feel just the same now as he did back then, with part of him wanting to hold Xander tight and tell him that it’s okay to feel.
Just don’t cry though, please… because that’s the prerogative of girls and really bad situations.
Yet there’s another, far more primal, part that wants to hunt down whatever has dared to hurt his friend this much.
And when did his food become his friend? Probably when Spike realized that it wasn’t fear or Buffy’s say-so that stayed Xander’s staking hand. Definitely when he realized that he’d miss the snipes and jokes… after all, if Xander didn’t care, he wouldn’t have bothered to make sure Spike knew how much he was detested.
So Spike does neither, knowing that vamping out would be unneeded and will certainly earn him a one way ticket to a dusting… and if he starts to hold Xander, he isn’t sure where he’d stop. He knows it’s stupid to compare, but he’s almost startled by how alike this is to that night.
He’d offered Buffy his sympathy and she’d taken everything: his heart, his life and his reason.
So easy to do the same again… easier because Xander just knows. He has always known – always seen everything, no matter how many sarcastic comments were thrown up as a smokescreen. He might as well just carve his heart out right now and offer it up on a silver platter to Xander; he knows himself well enough to see how quickly he can turn attraction into obsession.
Spike wonders what look is plastered clear across his own face as Xander’s gaze drops downwards, his ears turning pink. Right now, Spike chooses to believe that it’s just Xander feeling embarrassed and awkward at his own show of emotion. For once, Spike takes pity on him, walking past him into the house without a word.
A few seconds later Spike is back out on the porch, lowering himself down beside Xander and handing over a cold beer. The hand that Xander runs through his shoulder length hair drops and his thumb wipes away some of the condensation on the neck, before he starts picking at the label on the bottle.
Spike is about to try for the last time, when Xander looks upwards and takes a deep, deep breath. “Where did you go?”
At first, Spike is confused and for an instant thinks about checking Xander out for lumps and bumps on his head. Then his throat tightens and dries as he gets what Xander means, and knows what Xander wants to hear. He’s not sure whether or not he wants to lie – because he can’t say what Xander needs to know – and so it’s not exactly not telling the truth. More some kind of an omission.
Hell, he doesn’t even know himself – so he deliberately misunderstands the question. Taking a swig first from the bottle and pulling an unimpressed face at the gaseous blandness, Spike waves the bottle in front of Xander’s face. “Getting old-timer’s, huh? Went to get these bottles of piss-water, didn’t I?”
“Not what I… ah, don’t worry.” Xander just seems to deflate, all his muscles going limp, his grip on the bottle now dangling between his knees relaxing and letting go. Spike grabs for it before it can hit the steps and cover them both in sticky, stinky, beery foam.
And Xander doesn’t object when Spike doesn’t immediately move back out of his personal space, doesn’t object when Spike’s free hand starts patting him gently, awkwardly, on his back. Doesn’t pull his leg away from where they’re both touching, and Spike is so shocked that Xander isn’t freaking that he starts to talk before he thinks about what he’s saying.
“Honestly? I’m not sure. Can’t remember anything between being chargrilled and turning up in LA. Suppose I was, you know, dead dead, but I really don’t know where I was. Sorry”
Spike feels Xander move slightly nearer; Spike looks at him, searching for a clue as to what to do, what to say, next. Xander’s eye is closed tight, but Spike doesn’t know if Xander is trying to block the world out – or if he’s thinking of her.
Spike realizes that the patting has turned into stroking and stops abruptly, but now he feels even more out of his depth; it’s almost as though he has to do something with his hand now.
But a hold, a hug, that would be crossing right over the boundaries they haven’t even talked about. Not yet. Not for a long time. Perhaps not even ever. Finally he just holds onto the wooden rail right next to Xander, keeping some kind of contact… but, in a way, not.
Spike still feels uncomfortable, though.
“Talk to me then, Xander. Tell me what you’re thinking. Can’t promise to have all the answers, if any – but you never know until you try.”
Spike knows that the one simple answer is probably going to be “I don’t know” but he started this, and he has to see it through.
“You killed lots of people right?”
“Guess so, comes with the job description...vampire, right? No idea how many really. Why?”
“So you were evil and bad for hundreds of years.”
“I’m not that old! Only just over a hundred and twenty, that’s all.”
“Okay… I’ll give you that one. But still, really bad and evil, yeah?”
Spike nods, knowing just where Xander is going with this, hoping that he isn’t going to anyway.
“So, evil – check. But then you go round saving the world. So does that mean you’re not going to hell in the end?”
“You want to know does one cancel out the other? I… I don’t know and I hope it’s a long time until I find out.”
Spike lets go of the rail and curls his hand around Xander’s waist, gripping the fabric tightly as he stares at Xander’s face. He’s so near he can see every little line at the corner of the still firmly shut eye; he sees how the skin is turning white where Xander is biting down on his lip.
Spike can hear the frustrated tears in each breath and almost gulping swallow as Xander fights against letting his pain out. All Spike wants to do is step over that line, hold that face, feel the rasp of Xander’s unshaven skin against his own soft cheek.
He wants to be the one to hold Xander together as he comes apart, be the one to fix him again, but Spike has been burnt just too many times now. Literally, even.
Spike can’t act on impulse with things as important as this any longer. Thinking about things really screws him up – and Xander’s been thinking about things far too much. Whatever Spike does now just won’t stop him hurting in the long run.
So he doesn’t let himself brush his lips over Xander’s, doesn’t let himself drink down all the pain. Instead he lies.
“I’m sure she’s not… you know… down there. Hundreds of years as a demon, sure - but was always someone else’s wishes she was granting. They’re the bad’uns. Not her.”