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Fic: The Ruin of Good Men

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  • Fic: The Ruin of Good Men

    Title: The Ruin of Good Men
    Characters: Xander, Spike, Dawn, Tara and Buffy. Willow is only mentioned.
    Genre: Gen.
    Summary: Xander is abusing Spike, alcohol, everything and, on top of that, himself.
    Setting: Right after Normal Again in S6.
    Notes: This fic explores the ugly side of Xander's character, hope he's still in character though. I think every character has a dark side, and nothing's better than S6 to see Xander's.
    This fic is told completely from Xander's POV. The way he sees things even if I, the author, don't agree with him. I'm just trying to explore his mind as much as possible and I did so much re-watching of S6 and some S7scenes relating to the Xanya storyline.
    Disclaimer: Belongs to Joss and co.
    Rating: Hmmm? probably for 16 years old and older.
    Thanks to lusciousspike, yosso15 and i_luv_trees for the awesome beta!

    made by my friend Francy


    ~*~*~*~




    The unbearable noise intermingled with the detestable smell of beer, creating a chaotic atmosphere inside the dank bar. His nose crinkled when the bartender's awful breath hit his face as he yelled for the change. Xander stuck his lazy hand in his pocket and pulled out his wallet before he handed the money to the bartender and grabbed the glass of cheap beer. He stared intensely at the liquid in the glass before he brought it to his lips, and with a quick move, he took a long drag of it, allowing the burning liquor to wash down his dry throat. He placed the glass down a few seconds later, breathing heavily.

    This was the first time he came here, for starters, no one under the age of twenty one was allowed to enter? and he had never wanted to step a foot inside anyway. The bar was a stink in every meaning of the word. Even Tito wouldn't want to drink here. Right now though, the place felt perfect. The bartender in the rumpled shirt with stained armpits had just broken his sixth glass since Xander came in. That big tattooed bartender over there was smoking a cigarette just a minute ago, now he threw it down without even stepping on it to put it out.

    Xander's eyes moved to the other bartender who scrappily poured some beer into a glass. Some of the liquid spilled on his hand and little drops started moving down the man's arm. He followed the drop of beer sliding down the smelly bartender's hand, falling toward the half lit cigarette. A small blast of fire sounded, and only Xander saw the flame rising. The drunks who heard the angry outburst gasped before bursting into laughter, the bartender didn't even react to it.

    Alcohol makes you burn?until you start feeling nothing. Numb. Empty. No wonder the folks were addicted to it. When life doesn't go the way you want, nothing like alcohol to make you stop feeling. He sighed as the beer burned his throat going down.

    The blast of fire was short though. The flame started to wane quickly. It made him wonder why it didn't continue just a little longer, why didn't it wait for a freaking large foot to crash on top of it in order to put it out?

    "Well, well, look who's here in the adult bar?" a sarcastic voice drifted to his ears, making his grip tighten on the glass, almost breaking it. Just when he thought things couldn't get worse, fate would drop a new obstacle in front him. The reek of cigarettes was more pronounced now, making him close to throwing up.

    "What the hell do you want?" he gritted out, not in the mood for another sparring match.

    "Bottle of American beer won't hurt. I come here 'bout three nights a week." Xander sharply turned his head the other way when Spike blew smoke to his direction. "Thought kids your age go to play in that teeny bopper club, what changed now?"

    Xander heaved an angry sigh, gripping harder on his glass. Some would say that "ignorance is bliss", but it wasn't as easy as they thought. Xander was never one for patience and if Spike kept pushing it, he would just lose it.

    "Ah, you had a wedding, wore a tux, had family over, that ought to make you a man." Spike leaned back against the bar, lighting another cigarette. He exhaled slowly, looking at him with mischievous eyes. "Hate to burst your bubble now, mate, but you didn't actually finish the wedding. That?"

    The glass of beer fell down to the floor and crashed into little pieces of splinter. Xander held the bastard by the hem of his coat, their faces so close Xander could clearly smell the stench of cigarette, so awful it was chocking him. He kept staring heatedly at Spike, the hands holding the vampire shaking with rage, but he didn't speak a word.

    Spike snorted a small laugh. "Easy now, tiger."

    "What do you want?" Xander snapped.

    Spike looked at him intensely, his smirk slowly vanished. "Buffy?" said in very quiet tones, "Last time I saw her, she was?"

    Well, last time Xander saw her was this afternoon. She had tied them up, set a demon to kill them, almost succeeded, but as usual they came through. Buffy had apologized, they had accepted. Another crazy day for the Scooby gang? which was none of Spike's business.

    "For the last time: Buffy is none of your business, we are none of your business. We don't need you here."

    "Except when there's some snippy demon lurking about," Spike said with disgust.

    A punch landed on that horribly angled face. The last thing Xander needed was this piece of shit trying to make him feel worse than he already did. He could hear the bartender reminding him that fighting inside the bar wasn't allowed, which was actually funny, considering how the bar's glasses weren't washed before second use.

    Spike chuckled scornfully as he lay down, blood streaming out of his mouth. He looked at Xander, grinning. "You know, Harris, should thank the soddin' solider boys for the little piece of metal in my skull or else I'd have snapped your effin neck before you'd blink."

    Xander grabbed him by the collar, looking crossly at him. "But you can't, now can you?" He punched him again, sending him crashing onto a chair. He could hear the drunks around him whistling and laughing.

    "I said you can't fight here, are you deaf or something?" the bartender exclaimed, but Xander ignored him, approaching the vampire on the floor.

    "The only thing you can do is annoy the hell out of me, begging me to beat you around." He pulled Spike up and punched him again, watching as he crashed onto a couple of guys' table. One of them glared daggers at Xander as their drinks fell on top of Spike.

    "This is your lucky night, Spike, 'cause right now I'm dying to hurt someone." He slowly moved toward Spike, his mind screaming for another punch. But a large hand grabbed his arm, dragging him away from the vampire. He struggled to free himself, but the hands holding him were stronger. He noticed out of the corner of his eye Spike being dragged by another bartender, then he found himself thrown outside the bar.

    He was drunk enough to lose balance and fall down on his knees and hands, hissing with pain when his bare palms hit the hard street. He got to his feet, staring at the cuts, bruises and dirt now covering his hands. Some of the cuts were bleeding, small drops of blood glistening by streetlight. The pain in his hands, the humiliation of being tossed out like a worn-out pair of shoes added more to his rage.

    "Bloody hell." The yell next to him brought him to reality. Tonight, he had been looking for some kind of relief, a minute of escape, but all he got was bruised hands. He turned his gaze to the reason of his humiliation and misery.

    "See what you did, Spike!" he yelled, frustrated.

    "Yeah, I was the one beating the crap out of you in there," Spike remarked, his hand wiping the blood from his nose.

    "You could've just left me alone, but, nooo, you had to come in there and get on my friggin' nerves," he shouted, gazing at his hands. God, they sting. "And now I have no beer!" He turned around to face Spike in anger.

    "Oh," Spike gave a fake sympathetic moan, "how sad, because I don't give a rat's arse," his mock sympathetic tone changed into plain sarcasm in the last sentence.

    "No, how sad, because now I'm drinking from your beer."

    "Why don't you just drink at your nice little crib?" Spike retorted. "That is if you're man enough to own some."

    "I do have beer," he confirmed. He did have beer, but the cheap type that looked fancy enough for when he and Anya wanted to role play before sex. Thing was that he didn't like to drink much and neither did Anya. He was far happier with some soda in the fridge, and Anya had her healthy juices.

    Shit, thinking about her hurt. More than the bruises, more than the humiliation, and more than the lack of beer combined. It made him more furious.

    "Doubt you have the good stuff," Spike said plainly, aggravating Xander more. "That is if you Americans knew what fine beer was." He got out a cigarette and started to light it. "Not my problem, anyway." He blew the smoke into the night. "'Sides, can always buy some. For an idiot you seem to get paid more than men older and smarter than you."

    Yeah, the money I earn the hard way, which you happily love to steal, Xander was about to yell, but instead he replied, "Why would I when you have 'em?"

    "Not only am I not gonna hand you any, but I know you can't handle stuff I got." He smirked. Look how good he was at it, that bastard. People like Spike could pull off a smirk. Except Spike wasn't people and that was why Xander didn't have to listen to his shit. He needed that beer. Now.

    "Just lead the way, Spike."

    "No." Angry chuckle. "Do the cells in your brain work or you just like playing dense?"

    Xander shoved Spike forward. "Either walk or I'm going there by myself."

    "I said no, you wanker!"

    "Who said you had a say?" Now it was Xander's turn to smirk.



    ~*~*~*~



    He frowned. "Your lips are pink."

    A sarcastic voice. "Your ears are flabby."

    He could feel his frown deepen. "But you smoke!"

    A small, disgusted sigh. "Can't expect a dork to change."

    A spinning room, a heaving chest, a glass that felt so light in his hand, clearly slipping away. He caught it before it slipped? and crashed? because he didn't want to waste the source of escape? and because the sound of the crash would hurt? he didn't want to crash.

    Pink lips were all he could see? except that wasn't how he remembered them. They were shaped differently. They were? different. Who said he wasn't a romantic? No, not that type which they had taught him in school. He was thinking the remember-Anya's-lips'-color-and-shape romantic type of man. The shape, the color? the taste? all different. But it wasn't like the color and taste were always the same. They were always different. He wasn't being sentimental? or romantic? or a romantic? he was thinking about how food changed the taste of her mouth, how lipstick changed the color of her lips. He was being a realist.

    "Bleedin' hell!"

    His ears hurt, he jumped back, startled. A giggle. He hoped it wasn't his, but he sounded like Dawn when she had heard of Justin Timberlake breaking up with Britney Spears. And if that didn't prove he was, then Spike's amused stare did.

    "Thought you an uptight arse, Harris. Can't say that's what I usually go for, at all, but it's better to take it while you can, innit?" A devious voice whispered in his ears, "Drink up, Harris, don't want to taste your dog breath."

    He choked, then coughed, and coughed. Laughs of derision were ringing in his tired ears. He struggled to take another deep breath but death felt stronger than life. He closed his eyes tight, trying desperately to be attached to reality. That hurt. That was going to bleed. That? was good.

    He groaned when a thin knee knocked the air out of his stomach. Falling didn't make him stop though. Big, rough hands? how could they not squash a lean body? Strong, muscled, lean body. Knuckles bruised as they rubbed against the hard ground the minute he slipped his hand under the gelled head.

    The stinking darkness devoured him into madness he couldn't stop? that was when a hand reached under his coat. It was the wake up call. He jerked back, looking at Spike as if it was the first time he saw him this evening.

    "Whoa, what the hell are you doing?" he difficulty gasped.

    "Maybe you should try being bottom. Suits you," Spike ridiculed, pushing him to the rock-solid floor. His back hit the ground roughly, making him hiss. He didn't have much time to recover before Spike sat on top of him, grabbing his head and shoving his tongue into his mouth.

    Bottoming while kissing was no different from bottoming during sex. There was always someone on top, taking the lead. When he bottomed, Cordelia had called him a pussy. When he bottomed, Anya had called him Fred Astaire.

    And just the thought of her name was enough to stop the insanity.

    He groaned angrily, shoving Spike away from him before he started to crawl to the table. He pulled himself to his feet, grabbing the edge of it because the world was spinning far too quickly. Everything blurred and all he could see was the half-drank bottle resting on top of the table. He persisted in trying to stand straight, but all he did was swing from left to right, off balance. In the end, he just took that bottle and drank more. Shit, this stuff was so good. Whisky with? something else. Maybe the jerk had slipped some drugs into the bottle. He wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. He struggled to stand up, supporting his weight by the table, having an awful urge to throw up.

    "Changed your mind?"

    "Huh," he let out, turning his face with difficulty. Spike was standing there, arms crossed, eyebrow raised, looking at him with the same amused expression.

    "Shit, I was?" Xander coughed, alcohol leaking from his mouth. "I almost?" He coughed more, turning his head to look at Spike again. "Guess I lost my mind."

    "Same goes here," Spike retorted. "Depression leads people to take a bit of Spike, don't it?"

    Xander let out a nervous laugh as he unsteadily stood up, shaking a finger. "No, no, no, I don't do the sleeping with the dead thing, that's Buffy's d-deal." He straightened up, trying to clear the fog. He blinked a little before his eyes focused on Spike again. He tried his best to utter recognizable words, his condition making it kind of impossible, but with some great effort he managed to let out, "Except Buffy made out with s? sooouled vampires. 't least she's smarter than me."

    Spike had a strange look on his face, before Xander's hallucinating eyes imagined the pink lips forming a dreadful smirk. "You'd be surprised, mate."

    "No, no, I'm not your mate. We do not mate. There's no mating of any kind. The only thing between us is hate, disgust and everything's bad." He felt the room spinning around as he rambled on his defenses. He could feel something inside his skull running in circles, a cartoon bird that felt more like a small, black, very black, bug. His head grew light and dizzy and his vision narrowed to a dark tunnel. He needed to sit down badly, but he went on before he lost the point he was trying to make, "Not your mate."

    "Got that right. Don't mate with cowards."

    "Whah?"

    "You bugger off whenever you come face t' face with something challenging. Can't take it like a man."

    Xander frowned, trying to see Spike's expression but the bubbles in his head made his vision blurry. "Is it? is it just me or you're actually begging for another make out session?"

    Spike burst laughing, very loud, very cruel? and loud. He closed his eyes as if it'd help his hurting ears, but it didn't as he heard Spike's mocking voice loud and clear, "Your piss poor attempt at snoggin'? Please. Haven't buggered anyone since she broke it off, is all."

    His mind was foggy but that didn't mean he didn't get it. Spike was a whore. He loved sex more than his pride. He'd sleep with a dog just to get some.

    His nose wrinkled in repulsion, suddenly feeling more sober than he should. "You're a sick, sick bastard."

    "What if I am? Least I'm man enough to admit it. Won't say that about you."

    "I'm more man than you, undead freak."

    "Obviously."

    He prayed for the shaking table to hold him still long enough for him to gain balance. He felt really heavy as his hands grabbed desperately on the edges of the table, his gaze leaving pink lips for menacing eyes. The eyes traveled down his body, very mocking. For some reason he just wanted to disappear, hide under the table, or better yet, pop the scornful eyes out, smash that smirk to pieces.

    "I don't have sex with guys." No one asked. But he just wanted to make it clear.

    "Oooh, here's a manly bloke."

    He was close to losing conscious, feeling his body about to collapse. He wasn't going to pass out here, not with a horny, perverted Spike who God knew what he'd do to him. He looked around fretfully. "Where's the damned door?"

    "What? Gonna run away again? Do your specialty?"

    Xander shot him a death glare, his body not stable enough to keep the stare steady. "As much as I hate to leave you all heartbroken with rejection, Spike, and when I say that I'm lying, I gotta run." Great choice of words. He had a tiny bit of hope that Spike wouldn't use it against him.

    The smug voice shattered that hope. "Chicken."

    He was about to lash out. He was. Except his face hit the floor hard. And then everything went black.



    ~*~*~*~




    First thing he felt was the hard floor under his cheek, then his other senses started kicking in seconds later. His head spun and banged like crazy and his eyes remained shut even though he was awake. He flattened his hands on the floor and tried to push himself up. The movement gave him the urge to throw up? bad thing was he couldn't get himself to just throw up and get it over with. He dropped back on the floor before he could rise an inch.

    Slowly opening his eyes, he saw the hall that led to his apartment and realized he was lying right in front of his door. The hall was quite dim, but the light was still there, helping him to make out the doors in the hall. Light spilled from under every door, but his own. Nothing but dark shades creeping down the wooded door.

    He lifted his hand with difficulty and rested it bleakly on the doorknob of his apartment. His shaky hand grabbed on it with all the strength it had in order to raise him up. He almost fell down from the great headache, but thankfully he was stronger than he gave himself credit. His other hand searched his pocket for the keys. Where were the damn keys? Where was the lock?

    The apartment was plain dark, not even the light of the streetlamps coming from his large window helped ease the darkness. He yanked the keys from the padlock urgently, relieved he was able to remember them instead of leaving them hanging there for anyone to steal. He tossed them somewhere inside the safety of the apartment, barely dragging his feet. He took off his coat and scarcely hung it in the closet next to the door. The thud he heard told him the coat had hit the floor.

    He held his throat, struggling in vain to breathe. Not able to stand still, he fell down and threw up all over the floor. His eyes watered uncontrollably as he kept emptying his stomach. The vomiting had stopped shortly and now all he could do was try to remember how to breathe.

    Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. That's it.

    He looked up at his silent apartment, exhaling heavily. How in hell did he get here? Yes, that was metaphorically and literally. He never felt this exhausted after drinking? maybe because he never got drunk, and by drunk he meant the crazy slurred talking, light headed type.

    For awhile now, he had been hitting bars and drinking his sorrows away, but most of what he drank was cheap wine and beer of any kind. And he didn't have a lot. He had made sure he didn't have a lot. He had put a timer and everything.

    He let out a hiss of pain and exhaustion, trying so hard to remember where he was and why he was here. He knew he wasn't in his apartment before lights went off, that was a start. His eyes squeezed shut and his brain tried to work out what had happened with him. An awful smell, no, it wasn't the vomit, it was the smell of Stinky Bar. Some bar, east side of town, stink and beer and no fighting policy. He remembered drinking vodka? for the very first time. There was also JD? were they mixed together? There was a mixture of two strong alcohols but he didn't know what. Someone would think he must know all about it because of his folks.

    He wasn't hot on strong drinks before, mostly because he wasn't of age according to the Californian status. No one under twenty-one was allowed to drink? heavy alcohol anyway? because, hey, the Bronze was kind enough to serve him and his friends some beer-y goodness last year.

    However, he was twenty-one at the moment. So, no one could stop him. Maybe that was why he had drunk JD. And now his mind started to sing the theme song of the new hospital sitcom on NBC.

    He felt his chest heave again. This time, he was able to run toward the bathroom and throw up in the toilet. The smell killed him. Next time he would think before going to a stinking bar? which he was thrown out of?

    All of a sudden, he could feel a set of lips touching his own. His hand uncontrollably brushed his lips in haste. He looked around in hesitation thinking he was going crazy. It was probably the hangover. Although as he was throwing up for the third or maybe fourth time, the fog finally was clearing bit by bit.

    The crypt. Things were starting to come back. He got kicked out of the bar so he went to the crypt. And then there were hands, and lips, he blinked, hands and lips. Hands, lips and one bleached freak. One deader than dead freak.




    ~*~*~*~





    The door swung open. The bastard was sitting in front of the TV, turning to look at him with an annoyed expression, then started snapping some shit at him. Xander didn't listen as he marched inside, grabbing the jerk by his collar, his eyes boring into his.

    "You took advantage of me!"

    Spike remained calm as he responded with a bored, "Did I?"

    "You evil son of a bitch?"

    "That's right." Spike irritably freed himself from Xander's grip, pushing him away. "Now let me tell you who you are: a sad, spineless tosser, trotting around like a clown, can't admit to his own mistakes, much less point out everybody else's."

    He grabbed Spike's collar again and bounced him backwards against the wall. "Anyone told you I don't care what you think?"

    "Me neither," Spike hissed. "All your waffle is a load of cobblers your little mind wants to believe. You came to my crypt, took my drink, came on to me. I let you have what you want."

    "I was drunk," he gritted, bronzed fists still wrapped firmly in the vampire's collar.

    "Knew you couldn't hold your drink." Spike looked snootily at the hands holding him. "Like you better drunk than sober, least you seemed to know what you wanted, even though you still acted like a wuss."

    Xander punched the bastard, making his head smack hard against the wall, gliding down to the floor. He gripped the blond freak and gave him another punch, sending him crashing back at the couch. Go to hell. He strode toward him and smacked the bleached head into the table nearby, then threw him to the other side in fury. Go to ****ing hell! Then after that he knocked the jerk out cold by kicking him in the face.

    He stood there, breathing heavily, looking down at the unconscious vampire. The thought warming his heart was that the son of a bitch would definitely go to hell.



    ~*~*~*~



    "Sorry I forgot to drop you at school today, Dawn."

    She jerked at his whisper. It was obvious she wasn't doing her homework, and that she wanted to walk out of the heavy atmosphere they were in, and that she was uncomfortable around him. It made him wonder why the change. What was it about him that made her anxious?

    "It's okay. No big. The teacher was totally understanding." She pouted at the assignments she had on the table.

    "I don't know why I forgot." It must be because he had gone to the site telling the boss that he wasn't going to take his vacation days after all. The looks he received from his men and colleagues when he walked on the site were filled with pity and hidden mockery. The Harris foreman couldn't marry a lady. How pathetic.

    "It's okay," Dawn said softly, smiling a little.

    No one mentioned Anya's name. No one wanted to talk about her or about what had happened. Was it because it was his fault everything fell apart? Was it because no one wanted to point that out so they wouldn't hurt him? Or maybe it was because everybody was finally starting to be happy again and having a talk with Xander the Downer about his pain would bring the dullness back into their lives. He should stop watching reruns of Boy Meets World, even though he liked watching Eric giving Mr. Feeny a hard time. It reminded him somewhat of the days he used to give Giles a hard time. Good ol' days. Days when Giles was around. But then he left. No phone calls, no letters, big fat nothing.

    "How are you doing?" Dawn suddenly asked.

    He looked up at her. "Fine."

    "Really? Because you're not acting like yourself," Dawn said in that nervous, innocent tone of hers.

    "And what's that?"

    "Cheerful, jokey?"

    "Ah, you mean happy-go-lucky me, acting that way to make you all laugh and not deal with whatever is bugging me at the moment?" he let out, pissed.

    Pretence. That was how he always acted around them. Pretending he was fine, a joke here, a joke there and Xander was fine. They would roll their eyes and just keep on whining about their stupid problems, dismissing him all together.

    Dawn looked twice as nervous. "I didn't?"

    "Whatever," he said, slapping his palms on his knees in a show of anger before standing up. "If my presence is sucking all the fun, I better go and mope alone in my apartment where no one's fun gets sucked." He stopped a second, considering what he said. "Hey, what do ya know, that almost sounded like a lame joke. Guess I'm fine after all."

    He gave away a hard look, his gaze never leaving hers. She was trembling a little, trying desperately to hold back her tears. Why the hell would she be crying? She wasn't the one trying badly to breathe life into her stupid broken soul every single morning.

    He looked away from her and walked toward the door. There was a pathetic moan coming from behind, but he ignored it and left. He needed beer.



    ~*~*~*~




    "Things will change when Anya comes back. I'll make her stay. Things will get better. She'll see how sorry I am, I'll make it up to her." He looked at the liquid inside the glass, the sweet burning liquid, washing away the pain. He took a long swallow.

    "She's not coming back, Harris," Spike muttered.

    It had been a few weeks since Xander came back. Anya was nowhere to be found. He had been by the Magic Box and her old apartment everyday, hoping to see a glimpse of her. But? she was nowhere to be found.

    "She'll come back?" he repeated for emphasis, "I'll explain?"

    "Explain what? Your cold feet?"

    "Shut up, Spike. You know nothing about me." He cringed at the foul taste of vodka and whiskey. It was a wonder how Spike was able to get all these types of drinks. He probably stole them. Yeah, they were stolen. No doubt.

    "Make me sad and disappointed," Spike replied sarcastically. "Now move your useless arse out of my crypt."

    He heaved a sigh, looking around the dark crypt. So dank and dirty it reminded him of his basement. The basement where he slept with Anya for the first time, where he kissed her for the first time: by the washing machine, by the stairs, by the TV? yes, just like that TV? except without the yellow flowers on top? her eyes glared at him several times, but they weren't blue. And they weren't Spike's, who had just ordered him to leave. He was still seated here when he should be leaving. It was the polite thing to do. Suddenly, he felt himself flush in shame, for no logical reason, looking away from Spike.

    He started towards the door, his eyes wandering along the way, very much avoiding a certain vampire sitting behind him. There was a blue vase on top of the TV, which was actually funny. Xanderhadn't put a vase on top of his TV, why would Spike? There were plenty of books on the side table next to the couch. He never knew Spike could read. Next to the door there was? Spike's motorcycle.

    "Is? is that a storage room?" he asked incredulously. "You keep your motorcycle inside?"

    "'Course, think I'll leave it out for others to pinch?"

    "I'm not sure people come to cemeteries to steal motorcycles."

    "Vampires, nitwit, demons. They lurk about for anything useful."

    "Heh, and I thought demons were just wandering, brainless psychos."

    "Just sod off," Spike sneered.

    "Yeah, forgot something." He moved toward the bottles on the table, next to the bizarrely well-designed red box. He grabbed one of the bottles and polished it with his sleeve. "You don't mind if I take this, do you?" Spike frowned at him. "Even if you did, you can't stop me. Bugs, huh?" He grinned.

    "If I didn't have the soddin' chip, I'd?"

    "Yeah, yeah, you'd rip my head off. Whatever. Look, after all the times you've tried to kill me, I think I'm justified to take some of your homemade cocktails."

    Spike began to growl.

    "What? Gonna attack me?" he asked in mockery, of course, with Spike's defanged situation, there was no fear that he'd harm a single hair off his head.

    To his surprise, a quick second after he had asked that question, he felt sharp knives sinking into his neck. The bottle fell from his hand. His whole body fell down with it. He didn't scream because he was completely stunned, so stunned he didn't feel the pain. That thought, however, was the key that opened doors of piercing, raw ache shooting through his neck and shoulder. He let out a scream. Another one. It didn't last long. The pain stopped when he heard a horrid yell. His hand clasped over his neck, feeling two rounded holes. He could feel the blood pouring out, sticking to his fingers the way his mom's coffee did when leaking from that old moldy thermos.

    He felt his eyes grow wider, staring in alarm at Spike clustering into a shivering ball in front of him. His very white fingers were digging deep inside the blond strands.

    "You? you bit me," he stuttered in disbelief. "Son of a bitch!"

    Kick him, his mind screamed. His body was completely frozen, though. His heart was pumping crazy and his mind was screaming red blood. The mind never had control over him, which was why he was walking outside the crypt, two steps at a time.



    ~*~*~*~




    Dawn was talking about Spike. How cool Spike was. How smart Spike was. How brave Spike was.

    How chipped Spike was, that was what he'd have liked to add. If it weren't for that chip, Dawn wouldn't have lived to say these words.

    But he didn't say anything. He didn't feel the energy to say anything. He just listened to her babbling about how cool it would be to have Spike over for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween. Then she giggled, it was always fun having a real vampire over at a Halloween party. If Buffy would allow it. Then she cast her sister a defiant stare.

    It was ironic, actually, having Dawn glare at Buffy for kicking Spike's ass for information sometimes. It reminded him of himself when he was a kid glaring at his mother for saying that Tom was justified to chase Jerry around. Tom had a mission, handed to him by the housewife. His mission was to protect the house from the mice lurking around the house. Jerry was the unwelcome guest, who would steal the house's cheese. Jerry should be stopped. Yet Jerry was the popular one among children because that was how he was portrayed, while Tom, who was protecting the house, was portrayed as the anti-hero. So ironic.



    ~*~*~*~



    "You can't honestly say that you loved her."

    "I loved her."

    "But not all of her. Not the demon part of her."

    "She's not a demon, anymore. She'd risen above that. She's human. All of her."

    Spike gave a lopsided smile. "C'mon, Harris, I'm sure you're not that daft. She's not 'all human'. Her body, yes, her mind, thoughts, experiences, the demon part is above the human here."

    Xander fell quiet. He couldn't deny that when every conversation he had with Anya led to her mentioning her demon days. He hated when she did that. He wanted desperately to forget what she had been, what she had done. It was impossible with Anya bringing it up every single day. Sometimes he would snap at her to shut up, other times he would just look away with disgust. Anya talked very proudly of her vengeance past, it disturbed him. How could someone with a soul enjoy the memories of killing and torturing others? Anya believed that the men she had tortured deserved it. That was why she didn't seem to regret what she had done.

    I guess her past bit her in the ass, he thought. He never really thought about it but it seemed that if it wasn't for Anya's victim, he would have probably married her. He would have gone through with the wedding, even with the doubts.

    Did that mean that Anya was the reason for the tragedy? He mentally scoffed. Like anyone would see it that way. Or maybe he wanted to see it that way. He poured more vodka/white wine into his glass. Spike usually put Whiskey to the mix, but Xander thought it was too strong for him. He didn't want to risk Spike taking advantage of him again, because playing French kissing with blood sucking fiends was a one time thing as far as he was concerned.

    "You can never love all of her," Spike commented, taking a long sip of his glass.

    Xander's hand tightened on his own. "When did despising evil become a crime?" he gritted out. "People should never fall in love with a sin, that's just? wrong."

    "But can you ever forgive a sinner?" Spike looked at him, challenging.

    Xander gazed back at him. "It depends?"

    "Sometimes demons change to better?" Spike looked at him, "humans to worse."

    Xander sighed, the evil stuff danced quietly inside his glass, so very sly, as if it was taunting him, waiting to strike. "At the moment everything has changed to worse." And then he downed the liquid, deep inside him.



    ~*~*~*~




    It was the sun. The rays were so bright they blinded his vision. He wasn't that clumsy. He had never been before. Not after he had gotten this job, the apartment, the girl. Now he had lost the girl, however, losing her shouldn't make him lose what he still had. Kane and Jim were almost killed because of his irresponsibility. Why the hell did he use the machine? He was supposed to supervise, not work. He had yelled at Vince earlier because he wasn't doing the job right. He should just go haul the steel to the eastern side of the building. Xander had climbed into the machine and then?

    "What the hell did you do, Harris?"

    His hands were shaking hard.

    "Get down!"

    He took a shaky breath before he jumped down from the machine, standing before Tony, unable to look at him. "Look, man, I?"

    "The wrecking ball shouldn't have gone to the right!"

    "I know, I'm sorry, there was a lot on my mind?"

    "I don't give a crap! People couldda been killed while you were moping over a nest you wrecked."

    He clenched his fists. His eyes on the ground, ashamed, afraid to look at his crew, see the respect in their eyes wane away.

    Tony's tone softened but was still firm, "Look, lately you're not in the best shape to work. How about I give ya a two weeks break?"

    Xander's head shot up, alarmed. "But, Tone?"

    "Two weeks then," Tony confirmed. "David can fill in for ya."

    Shit, not David! He looked at the taller man who glanced back in arrogance. David had it for him, he vocally showed his opinion on the triviality of having a twenty one year old kid bossing a crew of grownup men around. Now he had gotten his chance to show that he was better than Xander, and before Xander knew it, he'd be tossed back to the first level of the game while David took his place permanently.

    "Starting from now, Harris."

    Xander turned his heated gaze at Tony who had his arms crossed, fixing Xander with a firm stare. He shortly dropped his gaze in defeat and walked out of the site, head bowed, cursing under his breath. It was still day, a sunny, sunny day. He glared up at the sun, blaming the blinding rays for what happened, then grabbed his hard hat and threw it at a bunch of mewing cats near the trash can. The cats jumped, making crashing noise and running around aimlessly.

    "Shut up!" he yelled.

    "How could you do that to the kitties?" a little girl scowled at him.

    He shot her a dangerous stare that made her tremble before running away, crying for mommy.

    His feet later led him to Buffy's house. He glanced in the window, there were Buffy and Willow looking amused at something Dawn was telling them. Xander scoffed, turning around and walking away. The last thing he needed was to burst the happy atmosphere they were in with him wallowing in self-pity. He rarely wallowed around them, anyway. He usually wallowed alone at his apartment because pretending he was okay and fake smiling was killing him recently. He couldn't spend time with his friends anymore, not when their lives were coming together while his was going down hell.

    Buffy would be talking about getting used to working at the Double Meat Palace, telling a joke someone at work said, Dawn would laugh and pat Buffy's thigh, Buffy would smile happily that she and Dawn were finally bonding. Dawn's grades were improving, partly because Buffy started paying attention to her and partly because Willow was helping out. Willow would be talking about a college project, enjoying that she and Tara were planning to take things slow and they were definitely getting back together. Laughing, smiling, all happy.

    Shut up, shut up, shut up! Xander wanted to yell.

    When they remembered he was around, laughter and delight vanished from their eyes replaced by concern, then they would apologetically ask, "How are you doing, Xand?"

    Fake smile. "Never better, how about some Bugles?"

    Spike's crypt. The motorcycle inside the storage room. The TV with the blue vase on top. Everything was looking trashy like always, but there was no trace of the good stuff. It was like an addiction, he just couldn't quit drinking the stuff. He had never drunk something that strong. It made him feel good, actually it didn't make him feel a thing, and that what he wanted. Not feeling a thing. Not feeling at all.

    "Get up, Spike!"

    The bleached maniac sat up with a jolt on that astonishingly clean mattress. His shocked features dissolved into a well-known scowl only served for him. "I was sleeping!"

    "Now, you're not. Where's the vodka?"

    "You've got to be kiddin' me," Spike scorned, throwing his blanket away, jumping out of the bed. His Spike bits dangling as he stood there, so very naked. "Think I'm gonna let you nip my bloody tipple just like that?"

    "Just give me the vodka, Spike."

    Spike shook his head in disgust. "Oh, you little hypocrites. Acting like a bunch of white hats when you're nothing but lousy excuses for humans."

    Xander just looked at him, uninterested.

    "Here I am, minding my own business, then one of you sods comes in and demands something, and I'm supposed to offer. Sure! Let's all use Spike, he's a vampire, don't matter. Points for? "

    Xander punched him to shut him up before he could keep on the angerfest.

    "Going all Moaning Myrtle on me, Spike, won't do you good. Bored to tears."

    He started circling the vampire lying on the ground. "You know maybe we just need you around for muscle and sometimes for a punching bag?" He punched Spike again to prove his point. "And I gotta tell ya, I get a kick out of watching Buffy wiping the floor with your ass." He grabbed Spike by the neck and stabbed a few brutal punches until blood started to slide down his nose. He took Spike's shoulders and threw him at a table next to the mini fridge.

    "So there, none of us give a crap about you, and you pretty much know that." He walked toward Spike, kneeled next to his naked body. "But you're here, you stayed, knowing how we think about you, so what does that make you?"

    Spike just stared back at him, blood streaming from his lips and mouth.

    Xander stood up, looking down at him. "You think about that." He walked toward the mini fridge and took out three bottles. He stopped walking by the door, looking at the bottles with admiration. "Mixing all of these together is great. Bet they'll allow me to buy 'em from the supermarket." He viciously raised his chin, thinking. "But why should I do that when I can just take yours?" He shot a smirk at the vampire mass on the floor before he walked out.


    ~*~*~*~
    Made by Trickyboxes
    Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

  • #2
    Darkness enveloped Xander, the alcohol burning inside him only serving to torment him further. Yesterday, he had yelled at Dawn, screamed, shouted, roared until Buffy had gave him a slap he would never forget. Eyes of shock and fear had gazed at him. Buffy had started yelling. Dawn had hid behind Tara. Willow had looked lost. Then he had left. Seemed it was all he did in the last two months of anguish. This month was worse than the one before. For all he knew next month, life would chuck an extra crappy surprise in his face, possibly another apocalypse. Hey, maybe as a bonus, Angel would come back to town on another killing spree. That'd be fun, wouldn't it?

    "One more glass?"

    He looked at Smelly Bob who held the bottle near his empty glass. This was a nice bar. Not very teen themed like The Bronze and not as disgusting as the east one.

    "Yes."

    Two nights ago, Willow had finally bothered to come and check on him. Sweet, always ready to play role of best friend Willow. He could tell she was shocked by the number of empty beer bottles, the messy furniture, the fast food bags and boxes she found inside the apartment. He didn't know what happened later because he was completely out of it, but from her behavior around him the next day, he was sure something had gone terribly wrong.

    "Screw them, screw them with their glamorous, happy lives. Don't need them." He took a long pull out of his glass, letting that beer so cruelly wash away all the anger and hurt. He swept his mouth with his wet sleeve, his eyes on the half naked lady in that calendar. The twenty second of April. How convenient.

    "Yeah, you're the only one hurting, innit?"

    It seemed that Spike knew all the bars in town since he managed to be in every one of them. He looked at the idiot's bruised face, the bruises he had given him a week ago. Except some of them looked very fresh. Or seemed that way. He was too drunk to know for sure, plus he didn't really care, anyway.

    "What the hell do you want?"

    "Nothing from you far as I'm concerned," Spike muttered, taking a glass.

    Xander was too bored to retort. He gazed at the happy people around him, joking, laughing, and enjoying their time. It felt like years since he had a good time with his friends. Just hanging out and having fun. Right now he couldn't picture himself having any fun time with either Willow or Buffy.

    "They hate me," he muttered factually. This morning, Buffy had told him Dawn was afraid of him, she wanted Janice's mom to drop her at school from now on. Buffy didn't even invite him inside. He had told her he wanted to talk to Willow, she said Willow was at Tara's. He didn't say a thing, he just nodded and left, knowing that Willow was inside but probably wasn't ready to talk to him yet.

    "What took 'em so long?"

    Xander grimaced. "Shut up."

    "I was until you started talking to me."

    Why the hell would they hate him? All he did was yell at Dawn? and something very vague he did to Willow. It was her fault, anyway. She shouldn't have come. And he was wasted. He didn't even remember what he had done. Also, it wasn't like he had put them in an awful load of danger. Willow had gotten Dawn into an accident and Buffy had tried to kill them all for God's sake. It wasn't like they were perfect themselves.

    "I forgave them," he mumbled.

    "Will you stop whining already? So they're a little edgy around you, they'll get over it and you'll all sort it out with a big Scooby hug," Spike said in disgust. "This is how it goes with you Scooby types. One of you causes trouble, next day all forgiven. Never had to pay for what you did."

    "Says the person who slaughtered more people than I've ever met in my life," Xander spat back. "How did you pay for that?"

    "Chip? Fact that I'm rejected by my kind? Getting beaten by a bunch of goody-good children? Tell me what did you pay for walking out on your bride?"

    "What I did to Anya, as much as it stinks, is nowhere near what you did," Xander said tightly, grabbing hard on his cold glass. And he was paying for what he had done. The lousy feeling he woke up with every morning, the problems at work, his inability to stay with his friends, begging Spike to give him his secret ingredient of vodka plus whatever cocktail. Yep, he sunk really low.

    "How about rock 'n' roll demon? How did you pay for that?"

    "I-I got a lecture from Giles," Xander admitted weakly. At Spike's raised eyebrow, he glared. "Fine, so I didn't get whipped for it, so what?"

    "Because your little chums will take you back no matter what you did."

    Xander scuffed and brought his glass to his mouth. A big swallow of alcohol helped ease the headache caused by Spike's revolting voice. Putting the glass down, he eyed the bartender mixing drinks very neatly, before saying, "Call me crazy, but were you just trying to make me feel better?"

    "You don't get it, do you?" Spike spat in aggravation. "It wasn't about you. It's bravura Scooby gang, too perfect for a slip-up."

    "What do you want, Spike? To be part of the gang?"

    "Be the sidekick in your little cartoon group. Give me a stake."

    "Love to," he automatically retorted. "And why the hell would we ever let you be part of us? You've killed billions of innocents just for the fun of it!"

    "You shouldn't talk?"

    "I didn't want anyone to get killed when I summoned John Bubbles."

    "But people died in the end and that's what matters. There's no difference."

    "There is. I didn't intend to kill these people, but you did." That seemed to shut the freak up. How in hell could he compare himself to them? The murders Spike had committed in the past were intended. They weren't done by accident. If the Scoobies had caused some deaths in the past, they were never intentional. And Xander sure as hell didn't wish death on a human being, even when he thought some deserved it.

    "People died in the end, there's no difference," Spike repeated again after a pause.

    Xander drank. He didn't want to deal with that again, especially because he didn't have Anya back in his apartment telling him that what happened was an accident and he shouldn't beat himself to death over it.

    "I've changed," he heard Spike say softly.

    "Just because you have a chip in your head, it doesn't mean you've changed."

    "So no one can be proven to be a good man unless they have a soul?"

    "What is it with you guys and the whole soul thing? It's clear and simple, you're a vampire. You feed on people like me. Why the hell should I be your friend?" He drank his glass, thinking that Spike would retort back but he was only met with silence. He put the glass down, gesturing for the bartender to fill it again. Turning toward Spike, he added, "Besides, the soul doesn't stop the countless number of jerks in the world from screwing up."

    "Including you," Spike tossed.

    He grimaced at the cheap shot. "I'm way better than you."

    "Yeah, with the bully attitude can't seem to see how."

    A quick punch connected with Spike's face. "Shut up!" he yelled, watching Spike's body fall backwards. He quickly turned back to his glass, drinking the rest of the alcohol in a single gulp.

    A disgusting laugh could be heard from behind him. "I hear you, Harris, nice to be on the other side for a change, eh?"

    He sharply turned to face Spike, and for a split second, it wasn't Spike who he saw before him. The dark hair, the dark eyes, the angry, humiliated expression, all of it, didn't belong to Spike. His lips trembled, his eyes blinked while Spike looked back at him with a meaningful expression.

    "It's different. I don't go out beating helpless humans who did nothing to deserve it. You're a vampire. You've killed and tortured before. It's different."

    "Haven't been killing for awhile, now have I?"

    "You'd do it if you could."

    "Probably, but that doesn't change what's been going on for the last few weeks. You come over, take what you want, kick who you want, picture clear yet?"

    Very clear. So clear it cut to the bone. It made his blood boil. It made him rush toward the vampire, grab him by the neck, look heatedly at his disdainful eyes.

    Spike chuckled. "You're right, Harris. I don't belong here. Vampire like me needs more respect than the bollocks he gets from pathetic children who can't run their soddin' lives."

    "Shut up," he hissed.

    "Or what? Gonna beat me nice and proper? Do it. Show me the real dick under that clownish guise."

    Xander's hand shook violently, his eyes fixed firmly at Spike's confidant ones. The smugness and indifference that poured out of the jerk were enough to shake up his whole stance.

    "C'mon," Spike encouraged contemptuously. "Is not hard, only thing you've been doing for the last month."

    The taunting was killing him. This whole conversation hit him like a blow to the gut. He couldn't stand letting Spike snipe at him like that and yet he didn't want to punch him. Yesterday, punching Spike was the only way to make him feel better, especially because he didn't have to feel guilty about it. He didn't give a damn about this vampire and Spike had it coming after all these years of trying to kill them.

    Now? punching Spike felt like him digging his fist deep into the fire, watching it burn and fragmentize into ashes. Just like the Whisky burning his throat? so good at the moment? so bad in the next day. Except? punching Spike was never bad the next day, simply because he never thought about it in the next day. He was too busy thinking about how shitty his life had turned out.

    His eyes landed on the cigarette on the floor with its smoke rising up. He wanted to throw the whole liquid inside his glass at it just to watch that blast of fire. So good as it burned? yet so very short. Just like the feeling alcohol gave him? just like the feeling beating Spike gave him. So damn short.

    His hand loosened its grip and let go of Spike's collar. Instead of falling on his scrawny butt, Spike braced his leg, stopping himself from falling.

    The pink lips formed one of their well-known smirks, and Spike actually dared to shoot him a smug expression.

    "A thing like you?" Xander started weakly, "is not worth the headache."

    With that he turned around and walked dejectedly toward the exit. He could hear Spike shouting nonsense behind him but he couldn't bring himself to listen. The disdainful laughing rung in his ears, he couldn't hear anything else. Everything was wrong. Everything was so very bad. His shoulders slumped and his chest was clenched. He couldn't look at anything but his moving feet, afraid the mocking eyes would gaze back at him. He barely felt himself knocking into impatient people who yelled something at him mixed with the frustrating laughter.

    He felt as if he were inside a rippling nightmare and couldn't feel reality until he stood right inside his apartment, right in front of the mirror in his bathroom.

    A range of faces stared back at him and none of them belonged to him. Ugly, laughing faces that vowed a future of humiliation and pain. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that once he opened them, he could see his face again. He was too much of a chicken to look once more, so he just stumbled out of the bathroom. It felt like all the air in the apartment had been sucked out because he was suffocating.

    Breathlessly moving to the couch, he found himself under that huge table, that very huge where he couldn't make out the person sitting on the chair. He could only hear the cursing and see the large boots tapping on the floor in apparent anger. Hesitatingly moving around the table, there came into sight a ghost of a monster gazing at him with bloodshot eyes. The hairy hand reaching for the poison he held with his wobbly little hands.

    Spinning around for an escape, he saw a smirking, hideous face with a large hand grabbing his neck and pushing him down to the dirt. As his face rubbed in the filth, he could hear the contemptuous, familiar voices laughing and shooting derisive comments at how pathetic he was. He shook his head hard, trying to get his neck free from the firm grip. He flung his head back and stared up at the malevolent gold eyes.

    He was kneeling in a dog position, looking up, uncomfortable and scared. Golden eyes came closer and closer, but he couldn't back away, it was like he was hypnotized by them. Long fangs approached his presently gratis neck. They began wandering around there very lightly as he closed his eyes tightly in anticipation of sheering agony. He winced when the fangs sank into his flesh, bringing pain, humiliation and a profound sense of isolation.




    ~*~*~*~



    "Hello?" her deep, womanly voice was breaking the ice around his heart.

    "H-hey, Tara," his hoarse voice replied.

    There was a moment of silence that made his ear dread the predictable sound of a phone hanging up.

    "Hi, Xander." He closed his eyes, hearing his wretched, ragged breaths.

    "Tara? I?" He wanted to ask about Willow. He wanted to talk to her, fix whatever he had done. He was just horrifically scared. Scared that Willow wouldn't talk to him, scared of the tone of her voice if she would agree to talk to him, scared of Tara denying him the chance to talk to her.

    "Is Buffy here?" he asked, instead.

    "She's out. It's time for patrol." His eyes remained closed. It helped him to just feel the warm gentle voice wrapping him, shielding him from all that was cold and cruel.

    "Yeah? uh? yeah?" He wondered why Tara was at the Summers' house. Was she there to keep Dawn and Willow company while Buffy was away? Maybe staying in to protect them? possibly from him.

    "How are you doing, Xander?" she asked, tender, concerned.

    He bit his lip, feeling a lonely tear sliding down his cheek, feeling his chest clench and his face congest. He heaved a long sigh of despair, finally opening his watering eyes, his hand clutching the handset as if his life depended on it.





    ~*~*~*~




    Tara had come over yesterday. It was a relief to see her take away the whiskey and vodka in the fridge, and then there was that strange childlike feeling of safety when she had filled his refrigerator with different types of healthy juices.

    Well, Henchard, will you avoid alcohol for the next twenty-one years, a year for every year you've lived? Tara had asked him in a humorous tone.

    Are you comparing me to the guy who sold his family? He had studied the novel in high school, but other than the auction chapter he remembered nothing. Maybe because he used to sit during class, imaging his drunken father selling him and his mother for a case of beer.

    Michael Henchard has many faults, but in the end he has a kind spirit. Best of all, he always tries to make amends, even if it's too late.

    Tara hadn't stayed long. She had left shortly with the alcohol. It was a relief that Tara was the one who answered the phone and came over. He wasn't sure how he was going to face Willow and Buffy after everything that had happened.

    Huddled under his humid blanket, he stared at the smoke rising from that hot chocolate drink next to his bed. Tara's previous presence had put him into a peaceful state of mind and heart. His life sucked at the moment. Nothing new about that. It started to fall apart ever since he had ditched Anya on his wedding day.

    A crazy thought had been skipping in his mind for the last few weeks, Anya wearing the same vengeful face like her demon friend Halfrek and cursing him to hell for what he had done. But then he felt like a jerk for even thinking that. He hated it when he didn't give her the credit she deserved. Anya was way better than to just swing back to being a demon. He should just stop blaming others for his misery. He was the reason his friends were wary of him, he was the reason his boss put him on hold, he was the reason Anya wasn't coming back. He brought it all on himself.

    Spike was right, which still didn't register right in his mind. He had turned into another version of the people he despised while growing up. If anything had made him a little relieved about leaving Anya, it would be that. Anya deserved better than a man who would just lose it when anything went wrong in his life. If only Anya came back, he would apologize, he would explain, and fix things. He still loved her so much.

    Xander's sigh cut through the train of thoughts. He pushed the door to the crypt open. First thing his eyes landed on was the blonde he hadn't expected to see.

    "What are you doing here?" he asked.

    Buffy looked at him with a sad expression, holding a paper in her hand. She bleakly looked back at the messy crypt, not answering.

    He looked around, observing the freakily quiet crypt. There was such a mess around, more mess than usual. He could see everything except for a certain blond vampire.

    "Where's Spike?" he asked.

    "In Hell, I guess." Her eyebrows furrowed. "Do vampires go to Heaven?"

    His heart almost stopped, he could feel his chest clenching and his eyes widening. He never thought he'd care much. His hand numbly brushed his hair back. "God?" he breathed, walking toward the tomb Buffy was sitting on, "How did you??"

    "He left this," she mumbled, her eyes still staring at the space. He looked down at her hand where a dirty piece of paper rested. He didn't need to read it because everything was as bright as the sun. He closed his eyes tiredly, feeling small, so small.

    He moved to sit next to her, swallowing hard before looking at the miserable Buffy next to him. He wondered what she was so upset about. Of all the others, she hated Spike as much as Xander did. Was she mourning her punching bag? Or did she have that ripping guilt inside for the times she had beat down the bastard?

    Whatever it was that made her upset didn't matter. He just reached out and held her hand, but she hadn't held his back. Something inside him boiled and not in a good way. He quickly took his hand away and started to run it on his thigh in an indefinite fury.

    "He's a coward," he muttered out of nowhere. He could feel the anger in his voice, he easily got angry. He was an angry man. Another reason to hate himself.

    "He was going through a lot," she whispered in defense.

    "Yeah? He's a coward. Giving up on life, choosing to commit suicide, shows how weak he was." All those times Spike had called him a coward for running away from his troubles, now Spike chose the worst way to do it.

    "Sometimes it gets so tough you just can't take it, anymore."

    "What about the people who kept fighting and eventually survived?" It was weird to hear her defending him. Maybe she was talking about herself. She had tried to kill herself a couple of times after she was resurrected. He hoped that she wouldn't be tempted because of Spike's success. "Choosing the easy way out shows nothing but chicken-ry," he added.

    "Like running away?"

    He frowned at her. She was looking straight ahead with a blank expression. Was she talking about herself or about him leaving Anya at the altar? It was probably him. She was still upset with him over yelling at Dawn, so she felt like attacking him. Or maybe she was upset with him because he called Spike a coward. Now, that would be freaky.

    Also, leaving Anya was never easy. There was nothing easy about leaving the woman you love. He thought about it yesterday as deeply as he could muster, and in the end he realized that it was the right thing to do. Going through with the wedding with all these fears, valid fears considering the last two months, now, that would lead to nothing but badness. The bottom line was: He was not ready. He did the right thing? hopefully. Maybe if he had handled the whole exit thing differently, things would have turned out better than they had.

    "Making right decisions whether they're hard or easy do not show weakness, Buffy," he said softly. "Sometimes? they're just the wisest thing to do."

    "Yeah, but? sometimes you make the decision to protect yourself regardless to what the other person feels about it," she sounded guilty, regretting. She was probably talking about Buffy Psychopath who tried to get her friends killed in order to have the alternate normal life.

    He didn't know how to answer that. He knew that having fears and doubts, but never discussing them with Anya or his friends, that? that was cowardice. Losing himself to alcohol, that was stupid, coward-y and Harris-y. Beating and using someone who couldn't defend himself, that was just the lowest a man could sink.

    "What should you do?" she went on, "When life keeps shooting blows over and over until it's too much?"

    He knew it wasn't the right time to make a funny out of her 'shooting blows' comment, maybe tomorrow? or when things smoothed a little between them.

    "Take them," he replied with a confidence he never knew he had. "Be strong?" His eyes fell on the empty storage room next to the door. The wood doors were ajar, not broken. Not that it would make a difference. The fact that the motorcycle wasn't there explained it all. "Or just? leave," he finished, his eyes focusing on the blank storage room.

    "Leave?"

    "Realizing that things can never work somewhere, no matter how you try to make them work, you have no choice but to find another place where it can." His eyes wandered over the crypt. The elegant red box wasn't there. The bottles of Vodka, Whiskey, JD, hell, all of them were gone. The stupid blue vase on the top of the TV was gone as well. "I think it's a smart move. The Gilesest you can get."

    He looked at her. She was staring at Spike's paper, she seemed deep in thought. She appeared miserable for some reason, misplaced and lonely. It actually hurt him more than he thought. The happy faces he had gazed at through the window, the ones that had annoyed him, were now a bunch of lost empty shells. All broken.

    Congratulations, Harris, they're not smiling at last.

    It wasn't enough to hurt just Anya. He hurt Dawn, Willow and now by getting Spike to leave, he actually hurt Buffy. He squeezed his eyes shut, wondering when he became this son of a bitch who wanted his friends as miserable as him. It wasn't like he gained anything by it, now none of them seemed to trust him, anymore. He hated to admit it, but somehow with Spike being out of the picture, he was completely alone.

    He remembered what Spike had said about them not paying the price for their actions. He recalled many of his not so fine moments, ones which he didn't 'pay the price' for. Ones that had caused others to be in critical danger and he was never accurately punished for them, but then he remembered that even though he wasn't grounded or on detention, he made up for them by sacrificing a lot so that others could live. Should he just pay the price or try to fix things?

    He looked at Buffy one more time, his hand reaching for hers, holding it firmly. He would fix things. He was a carpenter after all, fixing things was his job. He could do it. It was way better than waiting for the price to pay. She didn't look at him, but her perfume brought a sensual optimistic sentiment to his heart.

    "Can it ever work?" he asked.

    She looked at him, bewildered.

    "With us? Can we survive the blows we caused?"

    She stared at him for awhile before a corner of her mouth lifted. "We will. We always do."

    The fact that she still hadn't held his hand told him otherwise.

    Not yet? apparently.

    He heaved a sigh. "Yeah? we'll survive. Eventually."



    The End.
    Made by Trickyboxes
    Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

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