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Parts 1,2

TITLE: What Makes Us (1/5-ish)

AUTHOR: Laikokae (

CATEGORY: S/X; Angst; Rape;


FEEDBACK: Would be nice

DISTRIBUTION: If you want it, take it.

SUMMARY: When Angel returns to Sunnydale to help fight the latest demons, Xander has to face some old demons.

DISCLAIMER: They're not mine.

NOTES: Basically my take on Xander's attitude during the Angelus period. Yes, I know I should be writing Warrior, but I get distracted easily. Thanks goes to FireHorse for the beta.

WARNING: Includes descriptions of rape and abuse.

"The big moments are going to come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are." -- Whistler, 'Becoming'.


//It begins the same way it always does

It's late and Xander is alone. He's walking home from Buffy's after the debacle with the wayward love spell. Every inch of him is aching with exhaustion and all he wants to do is get home and crawl up in the dubious comfort of his cold, empty bed, and sleep.

He's less than two blocks away from home when he feels it. The slow, anticipatory prickle of fear that raises every hair on the back of his neck.

All of a sudden he is painfully aware that it is past midnight on the Hellmouth and he is out alone in the dark without so much as a stake or a cross.

A cold stab of fear shoots through him, making his heart constrict. His muscles tense and Xander finds that he can't seem to convince them to move. There is nothing he can do that will calm the wild stampeding of his heartbeat. Like a deer caught in headlights, he is frozen to the spot.

He's aware of someone standing directly behind him. He doesn't need to be able to turn around to know who or what it is. His senses pull together with a few recent memories and manage to make a giant intuitive leap.

A voice echoes in his head: "Perfect. I wanted to do something special for Buffy, well, *to* her, actually. But this is *so* much better..."

He feels a ghostly finger trace the line of his neck. He shivers and the fear begins to roll off of him in waves. When his captor finally speaks, Xander can hear the smirk in his voice.

"Xander," he sounds out the boy's name. "Fancy meeting you here." His voice drops to low, mocking tone. "You didn't really think I'd let Valentine's Day pass without getting her a gift, did you?"

Mustering all of his courage, Xander convinces his body to pull away from Angel and turn to face him. "You're not exactly the most thoughtful boyfriend," Xander points out, hating the quaver in his voice.

"I'm wounded," Angel replies, feigning hurt. An arm shoots out and he grasps Xander by the throat, pushing him roughly against the wall of a nearby alley, pinning him there. He slips into game face, sneering at the boy. "Guess I'll have to make up for it, now."

"Kill one of her friends and make her stake them," Xander states for him. "It's gonna get old real quick, Deadboy," he tells him, trying desperately to erase the fear from his voice but failing miserably.

Angel pretends to consider what he says. "You're right," he answers finally. "It needs to be a little more *romantic*."

Grasping Xander by the hair, he yanks the boy away from the wall and turns him around, twisting his arm behind his back and pushing him face first against the cold brick.

He leans forward, so that his mouth is right by the boy's ear. "Thanks, Xander," he tells the boy. "You're *such* a help. For that, I think I might even let you live."

The confused relief that flows through Xander is so powerful that he is sure Angel must be able to *smell* it. A moment later, however, he feels cold fingers come around him and make short work of the fastenings of his jeans, before unceremoniously jerking them down past his hips.

Suddenly every bit of relief is replaced with cold, wretched fear as he realises what Angel's idea of romance is. Uncontrollable shivers rack his body and he feels the bile rising in his throat as his stomach contracts. He wants to retch, he wants to scream, he wants cry. His mind is on a crazed rampage. Oh, was it too late to take it back? Couldn't he just die instead?

Angel chuckles at his violent reaction. "Oh, come on," Angel coaxes him, his voice taking on a sleazy quality. "I've seen the way you looked at me while I was with her." His voice drops down a scale and turns into an almost-growl. "You *want* me."

Xander is too racked with fear to form words. A choked half-sob of denial escapes his lips.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," Angel whispers sickly in his ear and Xander shudders violently. "Have to capture the moment first, of course."

Angel tugged the back of his shirt up and Xander felt something sharp cutting into his back with a purpose. He gasps in pain and begins to sob. The pain goes on and on, until Xander is sure he can't take it anymore.

Then all of a sudden it stops, but before Xander can bathe in relief at its absence, he feels cold fingers pry apart the cheeks of his buttocks and the tip of Angel's hard cock rest at the puckered entrance.

Xander's sobs escalate to the frantic stage. He can vaguely hear Angel chuckling lightly behind him as if he just told him a good joke and it makes Xander cry harder.

Then Angel thrusts, the pain rips through his body and he feels like he's being split in two.

Xander stops crying and begins to scream.//

Xander shot up in bed, eyes flying open, a scream dying on his lips as he realised that it was just one of the nightmares. His breath was ragged, his throat hoarse from screaming and the sweat was pouring off him in bucketloads. He couldn't seem to stop shaking.

He couldn't remember how many months it had been since the last time he had one of the nightmares. There had been a time when he relived those nights every time he closed his eyes to sleep. It had gotten to the point where he overdosed on caffeine supplements to stay awake, just to avoid the dreams.

It had gotten worse when Angel had returned from Hell. Maybe a part of him knew that it was not exactly the same person inside, but the body was the same one that had violated him over and over again in the months before Acathla. Those hands were the ones that had held him down, while he screamed.

And to make it worse, the momento Angel had carved into his back before he had taken him that first time had scarred permanently. Finally, with a great difficulty, Xander had sliced up that area of his back so badly that the 'Love Angel'was no longer discernible, unless you knew what to look for.

After graduation, once Angel was in LA, things got easier.Anya had helped a lot. Having someone with him while he slept had kept the nightmares at bay. But since their explosive break-up the week before, Xander had slept alone.

It had actually been okay. But then two nights ago Buffy had come up against a demon pack that she couldn't defeat. The Gang had immediately gone into research mode, but had had no luck until last night, when they'd recieved a phone call from Angel about a vision Cordy had gotten about the demons.

The Gang had been sent home in the early hours of the morning to catch up on sleep. Angel would be there that night.

Xander had been dreading the reunion ever since. He'd finally managed to get to sleep at about two in the afternoon and the sleep had been a restless one, finally interrupted altogether by the nightmare.

Xander glanced over at his clock radio and cursed. He was late and the last thing he wanted to do was to bring any sort of attention to himself at this particular Scooby meeting.

Making his way to the bathroom, Xander quickly washed his face and examined himself in the mirror. He looked horrible. His eyes were slightly blooshot and shadowed by deep bags. His hair was disheveled and hanging over his face in sweaty tendrils.

Even with the little attention the others paid him, they were bound to question him if he turned up looking like this.

Sighing, Xander turned on the shower and began to wash himself, all the while running a calming litany through his head.

He'd been doing this for years, after all. He should be used to facing his demons by now.


By the time Xander reached the Magic Box, the rest of the gang were already there, including Angel.

Taking a deep, calming breath, Xander faced the body of his rapist with a blank expression, though nothing could erase the haunted look from his eyes. "Deadboy," Xander had greeted him coldly.

The others barely noticed his arrival. Out of the corner of his eye, he did notice that Spike was watching him with curiousity. It suddenly occured to him that Spike most probably would've been privy to Angel's abuse of him over those months. For some reason, the thought that the blond vampire knew, maybe even approved, of Angel's behaviour made him sick to his stomach.

But then Angel was looking at him and Xander had other things to think about. There was an unreadable expression on Angel's face as he regarded the boy. "Xander," he replied.

All of a sudden, it was too much for Xander. The dream was still too fresh in his mind. He could almost feel Angel's cold hands digging into his flesh as he pounded violently into him, sending shots of excrutiating pain through his body.

'You *want* me,' Angel's voice echoed in his head.

The familiar blind panic rose in him, and as calmly as possible, Xander put as much distance between them as possible, backing himself against the wall.

Angel noticed immediately, and made to move forward, but at that moment, Giles called him into the next room to look at some text or other.

With the object of his fear now absent, Xander's panic was replaced with anger. "Would someone remind me again why we need Deadboy here?" he demanded of whoever was listening.

"Xander, you know why," Willow began placatingly, but the panic and the fear and the anger had run away with Xander.

He turned on her. "No," he replied. "I don't. I don't understand why he's even welcome here after..." he trailed off, the memories rushing him at once. His breathing became uneven and the sweat began to rush to the surface of his skin. "I can't deal with this," he muttered and pushed open the door and ran out into the night.

Spike watched him go. He knew very well what was up with the boy. He remembered those nights before Acathla when Angelus would come back, reeking of the mortal and gloating about his cleverness.

"What's his problem?" Buffy wondered aloud.

"I'm not sure," Willow replied, worrying at her bottom lip with her teeth.

"Oh, come on," Spike gave them both a sharp look. "You can hardly blame the whelp," he pointed out, "what with the history and all."

Buffy's brow furrowed. "I thought he got over that years ago," she mused.

"Got over it?" Spike echoed in amazement, his jaw dropping open. Surely the bint couldn't be *that* callous. Rape was not something you just 'got over'. He knew that first hand and he was a demon for fuck's sake.

"Yeah," Willow agreed with Buffy. Neither of them seemed to notice Spike's shock at their coolness. "He doesn't even like Buffy anymore. Why did he go all Jealous-Guy?"

Spike stared at them incredulously, realising something "You mean, you don't know?" he demanded. "He didn't tell you?" All at once several things came together in his head. "No, of course he didn't," Spike muttered, almost under his breath.

The whole point of Angel's little excercise with Xander, of course, was to traumatize the Slayer by hurting her friends. The stupid fuck never realised that the boy would die before telling the Slayer what Angel had done to him.

Angel may have known the Slayer inside out, but he didn't know her friends well at all if he had thought Xander would *ever* run to his friends with something like that.

Spike had wondered how Angel had managed to get away with rape again and again, without the Slayer protecting the boy in anyway whatsoever. He should've realised earlier.

"Bloody fucking hell," Spike swore to himself.

He immediately stood up and pulled on his leather duster. "Right then," he said to the Slayer and the witches. "It's been great, really, but it's probably time I was off."

Buffy gave him a suprised['surprised'] look. "You're not going to stick around for 'a spot of violence' with the demons?" she asked.

Spike shrugged nonchantly. "You know how it is," he told her. "Things to do, people to scare." His eyes narrowed. "Give Peaches my best, will you?" he practically spat and then strode out the door and into the night, leaving a baffled Scooby Gang in his wake.

Xander was shaking and crying when Spike found him. He was crouched down with his knees pulled up tight against his chest, and he was pressing himself against the wall of the alley behind the shop as if he wanted to crawl inside it.

In the end, it had been easy to track Xander down. He hadn't gotten very far and he was giving off such an intense scent of fear that Spike could've smelt him a mile away.

Xander didn't even notice the blond vampire's approach, even though he appeared to be staring right at him. His eyes were glazed over, and Spike knew with a certainty that surprised him that the boy was reliving one of Angel's many assaults. For some reason the thought chilled him.

"Boy?" he began tentatively, already knowing that it wouldn't be enough to snap Xander out of it. Spike crouched down in front of him, putting his hands on Xander's shoulders. The boy stared at him with blank eyes and continued to shake.

Spike smothered the fierce anger at his Sire that rose in him and focused his attention on the frightened boy in front of him. He began to shake Xander roughly. "Xander?" This time he spoke loudly and directly into the boy's ear.

Xander only began to shake more violently and his sobs escalated in volume.

Spike ground his teeth. He gave Xander a short, quick slap across the face, ignoring the sudden pain of his chip flaring up in his head.

The boy began to panic and pull out of Spike's grasp. Then suddenly, he seemed to snap out of it. His eyes came back to life, and he realised it was Spike not Angel who held him.

"Spike!" he gasped in relief and crumpled weakly against the blond vampire.

Spike quickly gathered the boy in his arms and pulled him close to his chest, so that Xander's head rested on his shoulder. His cool hands gently brushed back the hair from his face and ran soothingly up and down the boy's back.

Xander sobbed weakly and clung to Spike tightly, trying to get control of his breathing.

They stayed like that for a few long moments, until Xander's ragged breath returned to normal.

Xander wiped his face on Spike's shirt. "You knew," he said. There was no accusation in his voice, just acknowledgement.

"Yeah," Spike replied softly, stroking back his hair. "I wish I didn't," he admitted even more quietly. Spike very rarely took blame or felt regret over anything. But not being able, or maybe even not being willing, to help Xander during those months was something he hated himself for.

"So do I," Xander replied, a tint of amusement in his voice. He was still leaning comfortably against Spike, but he didn't really seem aware of the fact.

"It does get easier, you know, pet," Spike told him after a long silence. "Not by much," he admitted. "But it does get easier."

Xander finally met the vampire's eyes, a hint of suprise on his face. "You..?" he trailed off. He traced the vampire's perfect features with his eyes and snorted. "Of couse," he muttered bitterly, more to himself than to Spike. "The bastard," he added poisonously after a beat.

Spike felt a warm flush of something go through him. No one had ever shown concern or protectiveness for him like that before. Angelus had protected him like property and coveted him like a jewel, and Druscilla had never had enough wits about her at any one time to be able to protect him from anything. The woman couldn't keep a bird alive for more than a week, let alone another person.

It was ridiculous to give Xander's concern for him any weight, given that the boy was not only a mortal, but also a mortal who would never, could never, understand the exact circumstances of Spike's situation.

Nevertheless, Spike had felt *something* in reaction to the boy's concern.

"Come on, whelp," Spike began, after another long silence. "We need to get you home."

Xander tried to give him a weak smile, but all he could manage was a twitch on his lips, almost like a nervous tic. "I don't think I can stand," he admitted quietly.

Spike gave an exaggerated, long-suffering sigh and before Xander could protest, he picked the boy up and pulled him into his arms.

"You owe me big time, mate," he grumbled and proceeded to carry him home.

The walk home would have to have been the weirdest of Xander's life. He'd run, stumbled, crawled and occasionally strolled home in various situations ranging vastly from the freaky to the downright mind-boggling, but being carried home in the arms of a master vampire who had no intention of eating him was definitely a new one.

By the time they reached his apartment block, Xander had just about dozed off in his arms. Spike managed to fish out the keys to the apartment and open the door without disturbing Xander, but since he'd never officially been invited into the apartment, he was stuck outside by the invisible barrier.

He shook Xander gently. "You need to invite me to come in," he told him, when Xander blinked his great big brown eyes at him in confusion.

"Come in," Xander echoed immediately. He blinked a bit and shifted uncomfortably in Spike's arms, realising a bit belatedly who he was with and what had actually happened in the last hour.

Spike noticed the discomfort but chose to ignore it. He glanced around the apartment and guessed, correctly, that the door to the left led to the bedroom. Once inside, he gently lay Xander on the bed and pulled a blanket over him, and Xander immediately snuggled down.

"You gonna be alright, pet?" he asked Xander.

"Yeah I--" Xander broke off. "I mean, yeah, but could you..." he mumbled the last bit so quietly that Spike couldn't hear him.

"Sorry, pet?"

Xander looked profoundly embarassed and extremely uncomfortable.

"Could, if you wouldn't mind, staying?" he managed to get out finally. "It's just that...." he trailed of with a sigh. "Please?" he pleaded.

"Alright," Spike agreed immediately.

Xander shyly lifted the edge of the bedspread and Spike had to fight back a grin. The boy looked so childishly adorable at the moment, tousled, vulnerable and pleading.

Without a word, Spike kicked off his boots and lay down beside Xander, close enough that their shoulders brushed each other slightly, but no closer.

A flicker of smile crossed Xander's face, but it was chased quickly by a sad, haunted expression that settled permanently as his eyes fluttered shut.

After a moment, his breathing evened out and Xander slept.


Part 2:

//"Well, well, what do we have here?" Angel's voice carries through the night air.//

Xander freezes on the spot. His heartbeat accelarates, his mind is screaming at him to run, but his body is unable to oblige. He makes out the tall, dark figure in front of him and a surge of fear rushes through him.

"What are you doing here?" Xander manages to grind out. Cordy had just dropped Buffy off from their night at the Bronze. She'd offered to give him and Willow a lift home, but since Xander lived in the opposite direction to Willow, and Xander lived only a few blocks from Buffy, he'd offered to walk.

Big mistake.

Angel regards him innocently. "I was just dropping in on my beloved," he tells Xander in a conversational tone. "Left her a little something so she knows I care." The vampire takes a step closer to the now-shaking Xander. "She did get the Valentine's gift I sent, didn't she?"

"You bastard," Xander spits at him, desperately trying to quell the overwhelming fear rising in him, but unable to do anything except succumb to it.

Angel shrugs, grabbing Xander by the hair and slamming him face first into the ground, pinning him down with his own cold, hard body. "Oh well," he speaks directly into Xander's ear. "I guess I'll just have to send it again."

Xander begins to struggle wildly, but his meager human attempts are no match for Angel's vampiric strength.

"Playing hard to get, are we?" Angel slurs in his ear. "Give it up, *Xan*," he puts a derisive emphasis on the nickname. "I know you want me."

"No," Xander manages to sob out, but Angel ignore him and yanks down his pants, positioning himself at his entrance.

"I'll take that as a 'yes'," he mutters into Xander's ear before thrusting into him, pushing Xander's face down into the ground to muffle the screaming.//

Xander awoke to cold hands gripping his shoulders and shaking him. His heart turned into a percussion instrument in his chest. Angel had found him again. Angel was going to hurt him again and again and again and...

"Xander!" a sharp voice with a British accent cut through the fear rampaging through his head.

Xander realised all of a sudden, that while he was awake, his eyes were still closed. They immediately shot open to meet concerned blue ones. Xander realised that the cold hands gripping his shoulders belonged to Angel's Childe, rather than Angel and that Spike had been trying to wake him up, not hurt him.

The tension wound up in his stomach like a spring was suddenly released and Xander began to sob helplessly.

Spike immediately pulled the boy into his arms and settled his head on his cool shoulder. "Sssh, pet," he soothed the boy, using a little over a century's experience with Dru to calm the mortal in his arms down. He gently stroked Xander's dark locks back from his forehead and trailed his hands through the boy's hair, calming him.

After a while, Xander stopped crying and wiped his cheeks clean with the back of his hands. "When exactly does it start getting easier?" he asks the blond vampire, referring to their previous conversation.

Spike was tempted to answer that with: 'When I see the bugger again and turn him into ant food' but he stopped himself, knowing that would do nothing to soothe the boy. Instead he replied with a weary: "Eventually."

Xander shuffled around in the vampire's arms, wrapping one his own around Spike's waist and pulling himself close. "Spike?" he broke the silence, finally.

"Yeah, pet?"

Xander nuzzled his face against Spike's chest. "Don't move," he replied and propmtly drifted back off to sleep.

Spike watched the boy sleep, feeling his deepened breath brush across his chest, and was troubled by the waves of protectivenes that flooded him. The last time Spike had had any feelings for a mortal had been...Celia?

He was a demon after all. He may have been a human once, but the characteristics that came with that title didn't necessarily pass over to demons. He didn't have a human soul. All he was supposed to feel in relation to humans now was a hunger for their blood and a passion for violence towards them. Warm, fuzzy feelings were definitely not included.

Unable to help himself, Spike brushed a lock of hair back from Xander's face and trailed his fingers down the boy's cheekbone in a tender caress.

He wasn't supposed to feel like this.

Spike snorted to himself and continued the caress. He had never been one to do what he was supposed to anyway.


Xander awoke to the unfamilar sensation of being held by cool arms and someone was stroking his hair. His eyes shot open to find Spike's unwavering gaze on him.

All at once, the memories of the night before rushed back to him: the nightmares, Angel, and Spike taking him in his arms and comforting him.

Xander blushed and awkwardly disengaged himself from the vampire. "Um..." he mumbled, dropping his gaze to his hands. "Sorry about turning you into my own personal cuddle monkey," He tried to joke to break the tension in the room.

There was a peculiar tone in Spike's voice when he replied. "No problem, pet," he told Xander. "Been awhile since I've had my own person-sized hot water bottle." He watched Xander fidget awkwardly until he finally met Spike's gaze. "Are you okay?" Spike asked him directly.

Something in that gaze made Xander uncomfortable. It also made him completely forget that man who shared his bed was actually a souless demon. He tried to pull his eyes away from Spike's penetrating blue ones, but found he couldn't. "I'll be fine," Xander told the vampire as honestly as he could.

Spike held his gaze for a moment longer, but finally glanced away.

His eyes now free to roam, Xander glanced at his clock radio and cursed. "Shit, shit, shit," he swore, jumping out of bed and nearly tripping over his feet trying to get to his wardrobe.

"Pet?" he heard Spike call after him with concern.

"Work," he explained succinctly, over his shoulder. He rifled through the clothes in his wardrobe and came up with a pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt. He turned around and made to go to the bathroom, but ran right into Spike.

The vampire immediately put out a hand to steady him. He peered at Xander in concern. "Should you really be working?" he asked. "They do still have sick days, you know, pet."

Xander shook his head a little baffled by Spike's sudden concern for his well-being. "I'll be fine," he insisted. He noticed the hand Spike had put out to steady him was absently holding onto his arm. Xander immediately stepped out of the vampire's grasp.

Spike's eyes widened in realisation. 'Bloody hell,' thought Spike. 'If the whelp's still this jumpy after two years, no amount of apologising from the brooding git will ever make up for it what he's done to him'.

"He never apologised," Xander's voice cut through Spike's thought process, making him realise he must've spoken some part of it out loud.

He blinked as he realised what Xander said. "He what?" he demanded.

"Angel," Xander explained. "He never mentioned it. I just thought it was because..." he trailed off, a vulnerable expression flickered across his face, finishing the sentence wordlessly: 'Because it was my own fault'.

Spike saw red. Anger thrummed through ever vein. He barely noticed when Xander pushed past him to get to the bathroom. All he could he think was that thanks to that magneficent poof's oversight, Xander had been in a constant state of suffering for *two years*.

It was bad enough that his Sire had made the boy live in a constant state of fear for those months leading up to Acathla, but to leave him in that state for two *fucking* years...

Spike clenched and unclenched his fists and began to pace the length of Xander's room, wishing with every ounce of his being that he still had the Gem of Amara so he could drag Angel out into sunlight and watch him fry.

When he got his hands on Angel next, he was going to teach him whole new methods of torture. He was going to keep the bastard alive for years, slicing more and more flesh off him every day until there was nearly nothing of substance left.

See how the bastard liked his own treatment.

Spike was still fantazing about what he was going to do to the poof, when Xander reappeared fully dressed. The boy barely paid him any heed as he went around the apartment, pulling on his shoes, grabbing a coke from the fridge and his keys.

Only when he was at the door, did he look at Spike, and even then he refused to meet the vampire's gaze. "There's some blood in the fridge," he told him, "and as long as you keep all the curtains drawn, you'll be safe from sunlight. I'll be home after sunset." And with that Xander was out the door.

Spike continued to pace the apartment. He had a whole day to plan what he was going to the soddin' prick.

Peaches didn't stand a chance.


After nearly slicing his finger off thirteen times in his eight hour day, Xander was beginning to wish that he had taken Spike's advice and taken the day off. Interior carpenting, Xander discovered, was not something you should do while you're mind is elsewhere.

And Xander's mind was most definitely elsewhere.

All he could think about was how Angel's voice had slurred in his ear everytime he yanked his clothes off and prepared to rape him. Or the way the grunted and growled as he pounded into Xander, while the boy whimpered and swallowed down the bile that rose in his throat. Or the feel of his cold hands grabbing him, holding him and pressing into him haunted him, until he could feel ghostly fingers all over his body.

So many months of working to forget all about what Angel had done to him, years of repressing and burying the memories, pretending everything was okay and then Angel waltzes back into their lives for one fucking night and Xander is a complete wreck again.

It wasn't fair. He didn't deserve this....did he?

The crux of the problem, of course, was that Xander really wasn't sure that he didn't deserve this.

Logically, Xander knew that Angel had targetted him because he was a friend of Buffy and not because of anything he'd done. Logically, he knew that everything Angel had done to him had been forced on him against his will.

But not-so-deeply down a part of him whispered that he'd always been attracted to members of the same sex. He'd even been attracted to Angel, while he still had a soul. And that secret little part of him whispered that he'd brought this upon himself. That if he'd never been attracted to Angel in the beginning, the vampire would never have raped him and continued to rape him, over and over again.

And no matter what he told himself, he couldn't seem to banish that thought. He kept hearing Angelus hissing "You *want* me" in his ear before taking him and seeing the blank look in Angel's eyes when he looked at him after he returned from Hell.

Xander was shaken from his thoughts by a large hand coming down on his shoulder. With a start, he stared up at the owner of the hand - tall, dark....Xander saw Angelus standing over him.

He stumbled backwards desperately. "No," he whispered. "Please no, don't, don't, don't," he repeated over and over in a mantra, dropping to the floor and scarmbling backwards to get away.

The dark figure followed him.

"No!" Xander screamed at him. "Get the Hell away from me! No! No! No!" He collapsed into sobs and waited for the inevitable rough grasp of the figure's hands.

It didn't come.

"Xander?" a concerned voice came from above him. Xander managed to pry his eyes open and looked up. A flood of relief washed over him as he realised the dark figure standing over him wasn't Angelus, it was Rodney, one of the other carpenters.

Rodney crouched down to Xander's level. "Xander?" he asked again. "Man, are you okay? You totally freaked."

Xander shuddered and weakly pulled himself to his feet, helped by Rodney. "I should probably..." he trailed off, not knowing what he should probably do.

"Go home," Rodney supplied for him. "Is there someone you can call to come pick you up?" he asked.

Xander shook his head. "I'll be fine," he insisted.

"Uh uh," Rodney contradicted him. "No way. It's after dark and after what just happened, there's no way I'm letting you walk home alone. If there's no one you can call, I'm taking you home."

"After dark?" he echoed. Spike. He could call Spike. At the thought of the blond vampire, Xander suddenly wanted him there more than anyone.

"What's this Spike guy's number?" Rodney asked him, making him realise that he must've spoken aloud.

"My number," Xander replied dumbly. "He's, ah, living with me at the moment," he stumbled through the sentence, knowing exactly what it sounded like.

Rodney didn't seem to notice, he just dialed the number on his mobile and passed it to Xander. Xander felt butterflies flutter in his stomach as he listened to the phone ring. All of a sudden he wasn't sure if Spike would even still be there, let alone come pick him up.

"'allo," the familar voice cut through the ringing.

"Spike!" Xander excalimed in relief.

Spike caught the relief in the boy's voice and worried. "Pet?" he asked. "Pet, are you alright? You sound kind of..." he trailed off.

"Yeah, I, um, yeah," Xander babbled. "Could you possibly come and, ah, pick me up?" he finished in a tiny voice.

"Course," Spike replied immediately. "Where abouts are you, luv?"

Xander gave him the address and hung up, handing the phone back to Rodney.

The wait for Spike to come pick him up mustn't have been more than about ten minutes, but to Xander, it felt like the longest wait in his life.

It suddenly occured to him that Spike was the only person he had ever discussed what Angel had done to him with. The thought both made him uncomfortable and comforted him. He shouldn't be trusting a souless demon with such delicate information, but he couldn't help it. And right now, aforesaid souless demon was the only person in the world, Xander believed could make him feel okay again.

And then Spike was there, striding in with duster billowing behind him, walking right up to Xander, and without a word, pulling the boy into a fierce hug.

It felt decidedly strange, thought Xander, to be hugged by Spike. Sure he had slept in the blond vampire's arms, but it hadn't been quite so deliberate as this.

Spike's arms wrapped around him tightly and held him so close, that Xander almost felt as if he was a mere extension of the vampire. It felt as though Spike was trying to hide him from the rest of the world, protect him. As though, by holding him so closely, he could draw Xander inside of him, pass his own strength onto him.

And, Xander decided as he burrowed down into the vampire's embrace, he could quite happily let him.

Parts 3,4

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