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The End of The Beginning XXII

Title: The End Of The Beginning
Part: XXII
Title: Curiousity drowning
Pairing: Xander/Spike (eventually)
Overall Rating: NC17
Chapter Rating: PG13
Beta: 
[info]shakatany 
Disclaimer: No money.
AN: Alrighty, two pretty important points for now.

1; if you want a happily-ever-after, stop at the last chapter, seriously. My muse is happy to keep writing but I've been warned it's not going to be pretty. There will be angst and horror and beatings of all your favourite characters (especially Xander). You will hate me for what I do to the three of them. I really can't stress this enough; this is not going to be a nice story for at least the next twenty chapters and if you have a problem reading rape and slavery and all things we try to pretend people aren't capable of, please stop at chapter XXI.
2; for the next little while you're probably going to have to wait a while between chapters, I've been told I pretty much can't touch a computer (got this chapter written a week or two back) so there will be cliffhangers, and a wait between each chapter.

If you don't want to kill me yet, and you think Disney got their endings wrong, then read on.

Previous Chapters



Xander lay in bed, slowly coming to the conclusion that the only way he’d get to sleep was if he knocked himself out against the headboard of his bed. It’d been a few weeks since he and Dawn had moved in with Spike and for Dawn things were going really well. She had a stable home, two men to wait on her hand and foot, and Xander no longer had to worry quite so much about the next bill. Safe to say she was more than happy and the guilt was killing him.

 

He was still waiting for the moment she figured out that he couldn’t take care of her and Spike was the only reason they hadn’t needed to do something drastic like move into his parent’s basement. Shuddering slightly, he admitted to himself that he would have gotten down on his knees and begged Spike without shame before he would ever take Dawn to that hellhole. Come to think of it, he would have gone so far as to beg Angel.

 

Dragging his thoughts away from his childhood home, Xander sighed and threw the blanket back. Accepting the fact that he wouldn’t get any sleep tonight, or any night this week at the rate he was going, he padded to the study. Flicking on the lamp that sat on the small table in between the two overgrown chairs he rubbed his hand over his face and sighed, picking up the book he’d left last night.

 

One of the things he’d discovered he enjoyed about reading was that while he got no physical rest from it, he was able to tune out reality for as long as it took him to finish the book. It gave his mind a quiet time; time to think about something other than the fact that he was as much of a failure at parenting as his father.

 

He was half way through a conversation with the Cheshire Cat about a baby who’d turned into a pig – or did you say fig? – when the sound of someone clearing their throat made him start and look up. Blinking to clear slightly fuzzy eyes, it took him a moment to focus on what the blond in the doorway was saying.

 

“Have you been in here all night?” Something in the question made him squirm and he compromised a little on the truth.

 

He shook his head. “Came down here a little while ago.” Not a lie, just omitting the fact that he hadn’t been asleep beforehand.

 

“Want a cuppa?” The question was casual this time, but there was still something that made him drag his eyes away and back into his conversation with a certain grinning cat.

 

“No thanks, I haven’t got to the tea party yet.” Xander said lightly, hoping to try and get rid of the strange tension.

 

He could just about feel the nervousness leave him when Spike wandered off, mumbling something under his breath. While he and the blond got along far better now than they ever had previously, there was still something about the way he tended to watch Xander that made the brunet rather nervous. It was almost like the vampire was waiting for him to put his foot in his mouth again. Wincing slightly he realised that it was probably for Dawn’s own safety that he was watched at all. After all he hadn’t been able to take care of her without Spike’s help so far, why would things change now?

 

Feeling his shoulders slump under the weight of yet another guilty truth he resolved not to be so touchy around Spike, he was only doing what Xander would do if their roles were reversed.

 

 

*~*~*

 

 

 

Trying for the third time to explain to Dawn why he didn't want her going to a moonlight party with a bunch of guys she barely knew, Xander wondered if she remembered exactly what it was that went bump in the night.

 

"Dawn, you know I'm normally laid-back-guy when it comes to letting you do your own thing but it's too dangerous. I mean, middle of the night, bunch of guys you hardly know, with only Janice as backup? No." Watching her face transform from pleading to righteous indignation he felt the desire to curse the piece of paper that made her come to him for these decisions.

 

"But what if Spike - " she began.

 

"No, it's too dangerous, Dawnie. The chances of you getting hurt are too high," he explained as best he could, flinching back from the glare she fixed on him.

 

"But what if -"

 

"Dawn, I said no and I mean it. I'm sorry but you can't go - I won't risk it," he said softly, not wanting to snap at her.

 

She stood for a second, obviously floundering with the idea of her generally easy-going guardian giving her a flat out "no". Obviously the idea hit home because the look she fixed on him was so full of venom that he winced.

 

"You know, sometimes I hate you," she sneered, and he visibly took a step back.

 

When she didn't immediately storm out of the room he knew she was expecting a response, and Xander couldn't help but feel like he owed her the truth.

 

"Yeah Dawnie, I know."

 

She watched his face for a moment further, obviously wanting to make sure the comment had sunk in before stomping off to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her.

 

Sinking into one of the chairs around the kitchen table, Xander watched his hands shake with a strange sense of detachment. So the teen had finally figured out that he was next to useless as a guardian. He'd already known that, so why did it hurt so much to know she had realised it too?

 

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Tags: s/x, spander, spike/xander, the end of the beginning, x/s, xander/spike
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