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Pairing: Spike/Xander

Rating: NC-17 overall

Summary: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Grief and a kind of madness take Spike and Xander places they aren't sure they want to go....

A/N: Written for my [livejournal.com profile] psych_30 prompt # 10-approach/avoidance and [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse prompt # 72-crawl



“Not tonight, Ahn,” Xander groused, sucking in a deep breath to hold back the scream that bubbled up in his throat. “I don’t want to go out. I just want to eat dinner and go to bed, okay?”

He struggled to find a smile, and that cheery expression was getting harder and harder to dredge up these days. He could feel his lips tilt upward and he knew, knew, it was more of a grimace than a smile. It was the best he could do with his head full of bullshit and his body perpetually tense.

“You never want to do anything anymore, Xander,” Anya said, her voice laced with concern. “Are you developing some sort of bodily illness? Is it serious? Have you seen a doctor?”

Xander groaned internally. After Joyce and B…after, Anya took the possibility of death very seriously. The idea of a mortal lifespan, that suddenly she was trapped in a decaying shell, disturbed her. If she thought he was ill, it was a very small demon-logic leap to his imminent and tragic death. She’d have him in the ER, hooked up to monitors and being prodded with sharp pointy needles in no time.

Sharp and pointy and just like that, Spike was there. Not literally there, in the Hellmouth “My goodness, one minute empty space, the next minute Spike” way which was a relief. But, it didn’t even matter because the reality was that Spike was always there, an irritant. A tiny grain of sand that clung to his skin and chafed, rubbing him raw until he could feel it as a physical ache.

“I’m not sick,” Xander reassured her. “Just tired. It’s been a long week is all.”

If anyone would understand the drain of gainful employment, Anya was…not that person. She lived for her job, pouring her single mindedness into making money. It didn’t bother him much. He figured she’d been a single focus person…demon…person for so long, it was bound to be a difficult thing to get over. Kinda like Spike, only a personality trait instead of a person and damn it, there he was again.

Go to get coffee? There’s Spike. Take a shower? Oh hi Spike, nice to see you. Change a radio station in the car? I’m sorry Spike, but I’m not a big fan of loud noises that masquerade as songs.

He hadn’t seen Spike in two weeks. Wherever he was, Spike miraculously was not. Everyone else saw Spike, talked about him and how he’d helped with this demon or that homework problem. But, somehow, Spike managed to avoid him.

He needed to see Spike, if only to get rid of this perpetual Spike-ness that followed him everywhere and wouldn’t leave him alone. He needed to see Spike because when Spike touched him, he felt a little less like a prisoner in his own skin. The Xander-shape was becoming too tight, a confinement he needed to escape.

But Spike wanted him to crawl. Spike demanded he get on his knees and beg. Xander couldn’t, wouldn’t, do that. If he did, he’d be admitting he needed Spike. Which he did and so he couldn’t admit it. If Xander had learned anything about Spike, it was that any weakness was a weapon. He was too raw to give Spike another tool to flay him with.

Xander squirmed in his seat, picking distractedly at the food in front of him. Sighing, he pushed the plate away and stood. Looking over at Anya, he smiled and the smile was real, or as real as anything about him these days. He held out a hand in silent invitation.

She shook her head slightly. “I have to do the quarterly taxes tonight, Xander. The federal government requires that I send them large amounts of my profit which is unfair. I earned it, I should get to keep it. However, Giles told me that if we don’t, we have to go prison and remember that television show about how overcrowded prisons are? I don’t think that’s a human experience I’d enjoy.”

“Right,” Xander said flatly. “Taxes. Prison. Gotcha.”

“Oh,” she said brightly. “You could go visit Spike. I know you said you don’t want to go out, but he misses you. He said so, last night. Well, you know Spike. It was more like ‘Where’s Harris? None of you lot are even worth insulting’.”

Oh hi, Spike, Xander thought tiredly. Here I thought I could get through a whole thirty seconds without you showing up. Crawl? How would Sir like his groveling this evening? Medium mortified with a crazy sauce? Sir has excellent taste…
Chapter 9
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