I've finally got the rest of this all outlined, so if things all follow plan (I've learned not to make promises any more), this series should be done in four or five chapters.
Also, there may be an icon post coming from me in the not-too-distant future, in which there shall be Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Doctor Who, ABOF&L, House, and Jeeves & Wooster icons.
Right, I'll shut up now and post the story.
Title: Sour Revenge, Part 28
Rating: Entire series is NC-17, though this chapter's PG.
Concrit: Very welcome in comments.
Disclaimer: The characters, story, and rating system are not mine and since I'm not making any money, nobody should care that I'm using them.
Summary: Whole series written for willowschild who asked for "A variant on what happened to Xander when he cast the love spell. Only instead of attracting all women it was all men and the only one who could break the spell was his true love."
Beta'd by the fantastic and brilliant kitty_poker1.
Previous parts here.
Thank you authoressnebula for the banner and icon!
And that led Giles to believe that Spike was either being honest about not wanting to kill Xander or he was planning something much, much worse.
All Giles could do was pray for the former.
And what about Xander's feelings? Spike's weren't the only important ones in this dilemma. Was this just a passing crush for Xander? Or was it the real deal?
The very best situation Giles could imagine was that Spike's intentions were pure. That he had no quarrel with any of the Slayer's group and all he wanted was to love Xander. But, as Giles found that possibility highly unlikely, the second best was that this whole thing with Xander was just a phase. That his feelings were unreal and that Spike's betrayal would not leave Xander as broken as Angel's had Buffy.
And that was another factor, wasn't it? Angel. The vampire was definitely planning something. And, while Giles felt he could indulge himself with the near-impossible fantasy that Spike wasn't being completely evil in his pursuit of Xander, he could not even entertain the thought that Angel was being helpful because he was a good Samaritan.
What was Angel planning?
The next few days were relatively uneventful for everybody. There were no sightings of Spike, Angelus or Drusilla. Buffy thought she might've seen Angelus one night, but, since she was obsessing, she thought everybody was Angelus. Including their English teacher. Xander smiled at that memory, which had ended with Buffy in Principal Snyder's office, the proud recipient of a week's detention.
Xander was a little disappointed that he hadn't seen Spike at all in the past few days. He was beginning to get used to the idea of having a crush on the vampire. He was also getting a little thrill in having a secret from the girls. There was something about having a secret relationship that made his life seem a bit more... adventurous. Especially since it was a secret relationship with a male vampire. Nobody could accuse Xander Harris of leading a dull life.
School was over and they were all in the library, hanging out. There was no meeting, no demons to discuss, and no research to be done. Xander was doing his math homework while Willow and Buffy were "studying for history", which actually meant they were discussing the new hair shop that had opened up down the street from Willow's house. Apparently the shampoo boy was very cute.
Xander rolled his eyes and then wondered idly if maybe he should be participating in these types of conversations. He was gay, right? So shouldn't he be over there, braiding their hair and giggling over Geraldo, the shampoo boy?
"And he's got the cutest way of rolling his R's," Willow said with a happy sigh.
Xander sighed for a complete different reason. He may be gay, but he definitely didn't want to sit over there with a dreamy smile over Geraldo’s R-rolling. He'd much rather sit over here, doing his math homework, with a dreamy smile over the way Spike's body moved when he fought.
Giles walked over and sat down in the chair across from Xander. He was eating a banana and reading some poetry book. Xander smirked and wondered to himself how he never guessed that Giles was gay before. Or bisexual or whatever Giles said he was. There was something about the way Giles was holding and eating that banana that made Xander blush and desperately want to think of anything else.
Giles looked up at him and Xander noticed this... look pass over his face. It was gone in a second and Giles looked back down at his book, and if Xander hadn't been seeing that look all the time ever since the night Giles caught him and Spike outside the apartment, he would have assumed he'd just imagined it. But he didn't imagine it. And he couldn't for hell decipher its meaning, either. It wasn't happy, or grumpy, or any of the other seven dwarves. It was... serious. It was pensive. It was pissing Xander off.
"We're going to get moving," Willow announced.
Xander and Giles looked up at the girls simultaneously.
"Xander, you coming?"
Xander went back to doing his math homework. "Can't. Too much work."
Willow nudged him. "Come on, Xander. You can do it at home. Walk two scared little girls home." Willow and Buffy gave him matching sad-kicked-puppy looks.
He smiled apologetically. "If I don't do it now, it'll never get done. You know how hard it is for me to concentrate at home, what with the fun yelling and all."
The girls smiled and Xander noticed Giles' eyes snap up from his book to register their reactions.
"It's hard for you to concentrate anywhere," Buffy grinned teasingly.
Xander grinned back and a little while later both girls were out of the library and Giles was standing up and giving Xander that look again.
Giles looked down at Xander, disbelieving. "What was that?"
"What was what?"
"Do they not care about you?" Giles asked, waving angrily at the closing doors.
Xander frowned. "Huh?"
Giles frowned back as he realized that Xander honestly had no clue what he was talking about. "You just blatantly admitted that your home life was... is not perfect and they smiled."
Xander nodded, finally understanding what Giles meant. When he'd said that about not being able to concentrate at home, he had forgotten that Giles knew about his family. Making jokes about a bad home-life isn’t such a good idea when somebody actually knows you're being serious. "I didn't admit anything. I made a joke. Hence smilage."
Giles shook his head. "They should have..."
"Should have what, Giles? Analyzed the comment? Read my soulful eyes and miraculously come to the conclusion that, because I wear long sleeves in California during the summer, because I'm sometimes quiet and angry, because I used to want to stay at school or at the girls’ houses much longer than I was welcome, that I have two parents who don't give a crap and sometimes like to hit me? And maybe then they'd have noticed that I'm starting to wear nicer clothes that fit the weather, that I'm eating better, and that I'm all around a happier person lately and deduced that I've moved into the school librarian's house." Xander stopped talking and looked away.
"It was just an offhand comment," he continued. "A joke. I've told them millions of time before, in millions of different ways. Do you know why people of Sunnydale don't realize that their neighbours only come out during the night and never look any older, no matter how many years pass? They see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. I joke about being neglected and abused because who wants to hear that I'm serious about it? You used to do it, too. It took Angelus, my father, and a live performance of me living on the streets and getting smacked around a bit to make you realize what was really going on."
"I'm so sorry, Xander."
The quiet words surprised both Xander and Giles. They swung their heads quickly to find Buffy and Willow standing quietly in the door, eyes shining and cheeks wet. Everybody in the room remained perfectly still and unsure of what to do, except Giles, who calmly walked over to Xander and took the seat behind him. He was close enough to put a reassuring hand on Xander's shoulder. He didn't, but Xander felt it anyway.
Finally, it was Willow who broke the silence. "I left my bag and... I'm sorry. I didn't..."
She didn't finish the sentence and she didn't have to. There were hundreds of things she could have said, and Xander accepted all of them. She didn't know. She didn't mean to overhear. She was sorry that she hadn’t done anything all these years. She didn't, and she was sorry, and Xander had a sudden urge to hug her and wipe away her tears. But he didn't move; he couldn't move.
Xander could see Buffy still processing and calculating. Her eyes kept wandering between Xander and Giles and the window and Willow. Finally, she looked at Giles. "Thank you," she said. "For keeping him safe." She turned to Xander. "I should have realized. I'm sorry. I... can I do something? I feel like I should do something. Is there someone I can kill?"
Xander smiled and the sinking feeling in his stomach started to lighten. His finger twitched and he suddenly realized he could move. The second he took a step towards the girls, they both rushed at him and hugged him far too tightly.
"I'm so sorry, Xander," Willow sobbed into Xander's shoulder.
"You have nothing to be sorry for. I'm sorry. I should have told you guys," he replied with a shaky breath.
"You did. We should have listened."
Xander wanted to shake his head. He wanted to say, "No! You were listening. I just didn't try hard enough to tell you." He wanted to reassure them and tell them they were perfect and couldn't have done anything. But he couldn't. He knew it was a lie. As much as he loved Buffy and Willow, he knew he'd dropped plenty of hints and they just didn't pick up on anything.
But he wasn't angry. None of that mattered. It was all out in the open and he wasn't holding any grudges. He was out of his parents' house and he was happy.
He could feel Buffy and Willow slowly loosen their hold on him and step back.
"No more secrets," said Buffy, wiping her eyes. "No more hiding. If any of us ever have anything to say, we say it. We're all friends and we're supposed to be here for each other. With lives as dangerous as ours, we can't afford secrets."
Xander took a step back and looked at the floor. He could see Giles looking at him from the corner of his eye. He looked up to make eye contact with the older man.
Here's your opening, Giles' eyes were saying. They're ready to listen. Xander nodded slightly and looked away. He drew in a deep breath.
He could tell them now. Tell them about Spike, about the spell, about him being gay. He could tell them all of it and they'd listen. And they wouldn't judge. But, just because he could tell them, didn't mean he wanted to. It had taken him long enough to even admit it to himself and, even then, Giles practically had to spell it out for him. Could he do it? Could he really just come out and say...
Giles listened as Xander told the girls everything. He started with how Cordy broke up with him on Valentine's Day, to the spell he and Amy did. He told the story in detail, including the parts with Spike which Giles really wished he hadn’t, and the girls listened to every word without comment.
Giles noticed that Xander never once mentioned the side effect that he'd lied to Xander about. He didn't know what he should make of that, but he was relieved, for the most part. Xander either forgot about it, or assumed it didn't play any part in what he did with Spike. Either way, it wasn't bad news.
The girls seemed to have taken the news pretty well. Giles paid close attention to their faces, and noticed Xander doing the same.
During the parts with Xander's father, he noticed both girls tense up. When Xander told about how Angelus had shown Giles that Xander was living on the street, he noticed Buffy's face flash with sadness and guilt, which she tried to cover up quickly. When he told about how he and Willow had encountered Spike on their way home, he noticed Willow shift uncomfortably.
Giles could tell that Xander was very nervous about telling the girls his story. Whenever either girl made any expression of sadness, pity, disgust, anger, or even blinked funny, Giles noticed that Xander looked away and grew red behind the ears. He felt bad that Xander was so nervous about telling his friends what had been going on for the past few weeks, but he knew it was all for the best. Xander would feel much better now that he’d gotten everything out into the open.
And maybe the girls would be able to give him some advice. Giles had been trying his best to advise Xander, but even he had to admit that a teenage boy would be more likely to listen to his two young friends than a middle aged, foreign librarian.
When Xander finally finished his story with his last encounter with Spike a week ago, he was practically falling out of his chair with exhaustion. His eyes were darting between his two friends, searching for, Giles assumed, something that'd show him what they thought of him now. Giles looked at them, too, and saw nothing but love and pity for their friend.
When Xander apparently couldn't find what he was looking for in the girls' faces, he asked, "So, what do you guys think?"
"I think," Buffy said, "that your past month has been more adventurous than my whole year. And I'm a vampire slayer, so congratulations." She was smiling, and a few moments later Willow was, too. Giles saw Xander's face light up with relief. They weren't mad and they didn't hate him. Xander smiled back.
Willow put her hand on Xander's shoulder. "You look exhausted. Do you want to sleep over tonight? We can talk more. Or if you don't want to talk, we can watch cartoons and just relax. Whatever you want."
"No thanks, Will," Xander shook his head and stood up. "I kinda just want to go home."
Xander was already walking away from the group, so he didn't notice them freeze in their tracks. The words echoed between the three shocked and confused heads. Xander wanted to go back home? After all that?
When he reached the door, he turned back to Giles, completely oblivious to everyone's reactions. "You ready to go, Watcher man?"
When Giles realized what Xander was implying, whether purposefully or not, he smiled. Xander thought of his apartment as home. He gave a half nod and grabbed his jacket. "Yes," he said. "Let's go home."