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I can see you’re crying
Never liked me to see you cry, it’s true
I’ve done some crying too
The hardest part about it is trying to hide it from you

It would be great to be so strong
Never needed anybody else to get along
But we’re so scared of the silence
And the tricks that we use
We’re careful and we’re cunning
But we’re easily bruised
I don’t wanna lie about it
I’m not bulletproof

~ Lyrics by Blue Rodeo

Spike went into his own room while Xander slept. He sat down on his bed and held his head in his hands for a few minutes. He glanced at the clock and growled lightly at the fact that they still had over 9 hours until their appointment. He hoped Xander would sleep for three or four, and that at some point in the day, he could go out and kill something.

He paced restlessly for a short while, lost in raging thoughts until a gentle knock at the door startled him out of his cycle. “Yeah?” he asked shortly.

“May I come in?” Wesley asked from the other side of the door. Spike closed the door adjoining his room to Xander’s, and crossed to main door, opening it and stepping aside for the former watcher.

“What do you want?” Spike asked as Wesley sat down on a chair. Spike sat across from him.

“I’ve come to apologize, actually. Charles and I had no idea that our…activities in the garden would cause such a reaction in Xander. However, now that we are aware, we will curb such impulses until we are in the privacy of our own home.”

Spike was a little taken aback. He’d expected questions about what Xander had gone through, and had prepared himself to growl about the fact that it wasn’t Wesley’s business.

“Oh. Uh, thanks,” he said uncomfortably.

“May I ask if you’ve killed Mr. Harris as yet?” Wesley said with an air of calm that Spike wouldn’t have expected to accompany such a question.

“No. Want to, though. Bloody chip won’t let me.”

“I can only imagine how much you want to. My own father was…less than caring, and Charles has often drawn up elaborate plans for his death after a phone call from home. My father was nothing compared to what Xander’s father has done, though. And you’re slightly more violent than Charles is.”

“Have you got a bloody point, Watcher?”

“Yes, Spike. Are you bulletproof?”

“Er…vampire here, mate. Yeah, I’m pretty bulletproof.”

“What if you were to be shot in the head?”

“Can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to try it,” Spike replied dryly. “The point?”

“My point, Spike, is that you want to be impervious to everything around you, for Xander’s sake. While it’s beneficial for Xander to have a rock, here, something solid to hold onto, he needs to learn to rely on himself sometimes.”

“Fuck off. You want him to deal with this alone? Are you bleeding insane?” Spike was standing, growling down at the calm man in front of him.

“Not at all. What I’m merely suggesting is that if Xander depends solely on you, he is no better off. He can depend on you to some degree, but in the long run, the full healing must come from within him. You can’t do everything for him.”

“I’m not going to,” Spike growled. Wesley stood and slowly headed for the door. Before he left the room, he turned back to Spike.

“No. But there is one thing that he must do. You or anyone else cannot do it for him.”

“What?” Spike asked.

“Xander must be the one to deal with his father, however he may choose to do so.” Wesley left the room, closing the door behind him, leaving Spike to stare at the dark wood grain.

Xander slept for several hours. By the time he woke up, Angel had cooked dinner in the kitchen for everyone at the hotel. He was setting the table when Xander came into the kitchen, looking better than he had since he’d come to L.A.

“Hey,” Angel greeted him with a nod. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I could sleep for another week. Spike around?”

“He’s in the den, watching some football game with Wes,” Angel replied as he set out plates.

“Things quiet, then?”

“Nothing to fight, if that’s what you’re asking. Wes and Spike’s teams are playing against one another, though. They’re being kind of noisy about it.”

Xander smiled falsely. He wanted to see Spike, but he didn’t think he was ready to face Wesley after what had happened in the garden. He decided to stay in the kitchen and help Angel. He got cutlery from the drawer and started placing it on the table.

“What are you making?” Xander said distractedly.

“Chicken parmesan,” Angel replied, glancing at Xander. “Want me to go tell Spike you’re up?”

“Do…do Wes and Gunn know? About…why I’m here?”

“Yes. Does that bother you?”

“Yeah. They’re going to get that look in their eyes.”

Angel’s face softened, wishing Xander’s pain would go away. “Which look?”

Xander stared him directly in the face. “The one you’ve got on your face right now.” Angel’s eyes dropped back to the chicken.


“It’s not your fault. I just wish you guys wouldn’t…pity me.”

“Is that what you think we’re doing?” Angel asked, looking up again.

“Well, that’s what you’ve got on your face. That or you all spilled spaghetti sauce.”

“It’s not pity, Xander. All of us…yes, we feel bad that you had to go through what you did, and that you’re going through what you’re going through now, but it’s not pity. We’re hurting because we know you’re hurting.”

“I wish none of us had to. Hurt, that is.”

“Well, we’re not invincible, Xander. When bad things happen in the world, we hurt for them. We fight them if we can.”


“So do you want me to tell Spike you’re up?”

Xander smiled grimly. “I’m going to have to face Wes and Gunn sooner or later. Probably at dinner, anyway. Might as well get it over with, you know?”

“Okay. I think you’ll find that they’re going to be sensitive to your needs about this.”

“You’re making me sound like a woman with P.M.S.”

Angel chuckled as Xander headed into the den.

“Hey,” Xander said from the doorway. Spike’s head jerked around, his eyes asking about Xander’s state of well-being in an instant. Xander smiled slightly, letting Spike know he was okay.

“Nice rest?” Spike asked, moving over on the couch to give Xander room to sit beside him. Xander moved to the sofa and sat, snuggling up to Spike slightly. He glanced at Wes, who was smiling gently at him.

“Yeah. I needed that sleep, I guess.”

“Yeah,” Spike said, kissing the top of his head. Xander turned to the television, trying to analyze the look on Wesley’s face. He hadn’t seen pity, which was strange to him. He was pretty sure the only thing he saw there was understanding. He smiled to himself slightly. It was nice that someone kind of understood what he was going through. He knew Wesley had been emotionally abused by his father his entire life, and while the circumstances weren’t identical, they were similar. Knowing that Wesley was okay, had healed, gave Xander a little bit of hope. He snuggled into Spike’s side a little more, who sighed contentedly.

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