Title: The End Of The Beginning
Title: What lies between
Pairing: Xander/Spike (eventually)
Overall Rating: NC17
Chapter Rating: PG13
Beta: shakatany the great
Disclaimer: Don't own them, just play with them and put them back all squeaky clean.
AN: Hey guys guess what... I got nominated for the FangFetish awards. Thank you to my nomination fairy!
AN2: Beware here be angst... again.
Xander didn't give Spike time to shred him with well-meant words, just gifted him with an honest smile, waiting for the answering twitch of lips before moving away from the vampire. He didn't look for the blond but knew the second that cool body slipped off the dance floor anyway, no doubt headed towards the bar. Closing his eyes he began to dance again, but this time the intoxicating beat slid off his skin like water and he listened to the sound of his too-fast heart instead.
He danced to the rhythm of his pulse, unsure when the tears started, or who they were even for. Flinging his head to one side he felt the salt-water scatter and be replaced by fresh tears, their heat scalding rivulets in his cheeks until he was sure everyone would be able to see the scars they left.
This time there was no laughter, and the feeling of being alive was a bittersweet pill lodged in his throat. There was desperation in each twist of his hips, each roll of tightening muscles screaming at the fates for all they'd taken, and all they'd left behind.
He wasn't sure when the fury started, when the tears solidified something in his chest until he was rage wrapped in flesh, but once he acknowledged it he turned tail and ran, some small part of him recognising that the demons dancing here in safety weren't a threat; were prey not predator, even if only for the moment.
His shirt was restricting, and the pants clung to him the way only sweat-damped denim can, but he ignored it all as he ran, leaving the safety of Veritas and heading towards one of the newer cemeteries. There he could hear the boasts of newly risen vampires talking amongst themselves. Turning towards them, he frowned when the first one was dead within seconds, courtesy of a convenient tree branch that ended up square in his chest. Grinning at the others, he let the expression slide from his face as he watched them, subconsciously recognising the pack mentality when they moved to circle around him with one vampire at their center point.
Crouching slightly he gave the others only a cursory glace, focusing instead on their leader. The anger in him turned into cold purposefulness that left him feeling more clear-headed than he had in too long to remember. He could feel the other vampires around him shifting uneasily, not used to being close to a human that smelt of nothing but fury, determination, and bloodlust.
The vampire's demise was almost comical, and left Xander feeling cheated. When the demon had rushed him the brunet just needed to take a small step sideways and twist at the waist to avoid his outreached arms. Instead of capturing the human as he'd intended, the vampire ran head first into one of the too-many mausoleums with enough force that the angel on top teetered for a moment.
Xander watched with detached humor as the fledge leader tried to scrabble backwards away from the slowly toppling angel. Instead of moving out of the way he ended up crawling directly into the path of one of the falling outstretched wings which sliced his head off as neatly as a blade. Snorting in disgust Xander kicked the head that rolled free from the body just before it turned into dust.
Turning back to the minions he'd ignored until now, he glared at their retreating backs. Still full of pent up emotion he whirled at the slight sound behind him, surprised to find Spike stepping out of the shadows. When that blond head jerked in an indication to follow he did so without thought, his steps carefully measured as he tried to keep the rage contained.
He stopped when the vampire did, standing to his left. Tracking the blue eyes' line of sight he hastily stepped back, almost stumbling. He watched the world tilt as he continued to back up until he was pressed against a headstone, finally realising that the continual movement was his own head shaking in a silent denial of where they were.
Xander flinched back at the growl that rolled over his skin, his own fury redirecting towards Spike for daring to bring him here as his lips lifted in a snarl. He didn't have time to react before cold fingers were wrapped around his forearms, forcing him to stand before it.
"You're going to have some bloody respect and sodding well tell her, whelp." The words were so full of anger that the brunet's muscles tightened in expectation of the punch.
When it didn't come, the words filtered through to him and he started struggling, railing against what the vampire wanted him to do. He'd spent too long forcing it to be ok to admit otherwise. He stopped when a firm hand wrapped around his throat and gold eyes glared into his own.
"She died to save your sodding life, the least you can do is have enough respect to tell her the truth." Those words did what threats couldn't and he stilled, looking down at the lonely words carved into cold stone.
He could feel everything bubbling just below the surface, screaming to get out, and for a moment he almost succeeded in pushing it back down to where it would only come out in nightmares. A warning growl from Spike tipped the balance and he closed his eyes in defeat and shame.
"I hate you." The words could have easily been misinterpreted, redirected to the vampire standing behind him with one slim hand still pressing against the flesh of his neck, but they both knew better.
He waited for the condemnation, the spiteful words, and when none came, the words spilled from his lips like rain, gathering speed as they went.
"You always told me some things were worth saving. Like Dawnie, and Giles, and Willow, and me." A harsh laugh ripped from his throat at the last word and he stopped for a moment before the press of feelings pushed him again into speaking, "You're wrong you know? What's left to save now? You took the reasons with you, you may as well have taken the sun with you. You left me here with a teenager that's seen more of death than anyone should have, and I have to try and find a way to tell her it's all ok when I don't - I can't believe that anymore. You left Giles broken, and Willow's not even Willow anymore, and you couldn't care less, because some things are worth saving?! Even when saving them means you destroy them. Damn it! You left me here! You left me here to live and rot while you -"
He broke off for a moment, unable to draw enough breath to speak as the words tumbled over each other in an effort to be heard "Why did you have to be the hero? You left us here to rot, Buffy! Left us here with no reason to keep fighting, because everything you fought for is broken now, shattered when you took your fucking leap off that stupid tower and god damn it all! Fuck you! Fuck you for leaving me here! I hate you!"
His voice broke for good at the last words and he collapsed, ignoring the hand that was still resting against his throat. Landing on his hands and knees, he threw up, struggling to draw breath between the tears and the screams that clawed their way out of his mouth.
He wasn't even sure the words coming from his mouth were English anymore, but some unspoken demand kept his lips moving. Eventually the waterfall of words slowed to one sentence, became his mantra as he knelt there, in front of a woman who'd died for a world he now wished would burn.
"Come back. Please come back. Please Buffy, just come back."
He spoke until his already weak voice gave up, mouthing the words over and over when no sound would come out. Eventually even that stopped and he knelt there, staring at a piece of rock that was now all he had left of one of his best friends.
"She's not coming back, luv." The words were as soft as possible, the speaker obviously trying to take the sting out of them. He flinched anyway before nodding slowly.
"I know." His answer was just a wisp of air but Spike seemed to understand anyway.
"She's happy." This time his head snapped around to stare at the blond with wide, uncertain eyes.
"Had Red do a location spell, for her soul. She's in heaven." Xander stared, trying to make the words mean something. "She's in heaven, Harris, she's happy, and she's not coming back."
The emotions that drowned him when the words finally coalesced into meaning made him sway for a moment. He felt the anger rise up in him again, clawing at his eyes to get free. This time he stopped though, closing his eyes for a moment as he let the tears leak from closed lids. She'd fought so hard, gotten up time and time again, until he was afraid the small woman with the world on her shoulders was going to disappear under responsibility and duty and destiny. Instead she'd let the world fly, even as she fell.
He felt the acceptance wash through him in whispers. At first it was squashed flat by the rage that made his limbs shake. But as it continued, and the knowledge that she was really, truly, happy seeped into the darkness, he sighed, feeling something venomous slide away until he was left feeling nothing but tired.
Crawling forward he brushed his lips against the stone, tracing the name on it with a finger before he sighed again. He didn't even try to get up without help, leaning heavily against the cool body that was at his side the instant he made a move to stand. Looking into understanding eyes he dropped his own for a moment before looking up determinedly.
"I really did love her. She was family." He forced the words into existence, wincing at the pain of it, but needing Spike to understand.
He tried to will the meaning of his words into his eyes. It wasn't a romantic-love, or a friend-love. He loved her like he loved Willow, surpassing friendship a long time ago for a family born of something thicker than blood.
Xander felt himself relax when the blond replied, "I know."