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Carry That Weight

Boy, you gotta carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

~The Beatles

Tara MaClay frowned at the telephone receiver in her hand. She knew Spike’s call was probably for Willow, but Willow was patrolling with Buffy tonight. Tara, herself, had stayed at home to study. She tried to decide whether she should go find Willow and Buffy and tell them Spike and Xander were having trouble, or if it was something she could handle alone. Spike hadn’t elaborated on the problem. He hadn’t even given her a chance to speak.

However, she hadn’t heard much in the background. No fighting noises, no ruckus. Perhaps they didn’t need Slayer-help. Of course, Buffy and Willow had decided to patrol the East end of town, which was on the other side of town from Xander’s apartment. Even if they did need Slayer-strength, the chances of her alerting Buffy and Willow with enough time to make it back to Xander’s before whatever was attacking them…finished attacking them were slim to none.

Reasoning that her own magical ability would be enough to help the two men, Tara grabbed her coat and headed out the door. She headed for Xander’s apartment, as quickly as she could.

When she arrived, she hesitated for a moment before rapping on the door briskly. A moment later, Spike opened the door, shirtless, looking harried, worried, and terrified.

“Where’s Red?”

“She’s patrolling with Buffy tonight. Is everything okay?”

Spike let loose a bitter laugh. “Not fucking likely.” His language startled her, but she tried not to show it.

“What’s wrong, Spike?” She asked, stepping into the apartment. He didn’t have to answer.

From the doorway, Tara could see Xander, in the corner, facing the wall, rocking slightly, muttering something to himself. He was completely nude, shivering, and coated with the fine sheen of unhealthy sweat. His skin was pale, and his heavy breathing was harsh and erratic.

“What did you do to him?” Tara asked, aghast, and growing angry at the vampire for hurting Willow’s best friend to the point where he was lost in some kind of madness.

“I didn’t do anything!” Spike growled, flashing amber eyes at her. “We were…I don’t know what happened. One minute, we were having a great time, and the next, he’s banging is head on the wall and howling like a bloody loon. Worse than Dru in a bad spell. I barely touched him, and he just went mad. I can’t…I can’t get near him. He just gets worse. I don’t know how to help him. I can’t help him.” Spike’s voice started to break, and he moved to the table to pull a cigarette out of the pack, lighting it with clumsy fingers.

“Calm down, Spike. We’ll help him,” Tara said. She thought for a moment. Then she moved over, closer to where Xander was rocking. Closer, she could hear what he was muttering to himself.

“No, please, no, Dad, I’ll be good, not again, no…” Tara’s eyes widened. She looked over at Spike, whose eyes widened as well. His, however, flashed golden, and a low growl emanated from his throat.

“Bloody hell,” he spat out, his throat gravelly with the growl.

“He didn’t…he didn’t say that before?” Tara asked gently.

“No, he didn’t. It was just ‘no’ and ‘please’.”

“Spike…what set this off?”

Spike didn’t answer.

“To help him, I have to know. It wasn’t your fault. This can’t be your fault,” Tara said, trying to reassure him.

“I…we were going to make love. He…we were naked, and I told him to roll over, and he got a little scared. I tried to reassure him, but as soon as I touched him, he…he ran. To the corner. Started banging his head, crying, yelling, and just…he went mad. I didn’t… bloody hell.”

Spike, too, had put all the pieces together. Intimate relations, sudden terror, and talking about his father…none of it was a good sign. She sighed.

“I need to get him calmed down. Then I’ll call home and leave a message for Willow to come over here when she gets in.” Tara moved a little closer to Xander, and raised her hand. “Goddess of Serenity, grant him silence, sleep, and stillness. Soothe his mind, his heart, and give him rest.” Xander stopped speaking, his eyes drooped, and he slumped against the wall, asleep in barely an instant. Spike immediately rushed to him, and touched his hair gently.

“Xander,” he sighed. Then he carefully lifted him into his arms and carried him to his bedroom, and tucked him in. He returned to the front room, where Tara had dropped to the sofa and put her head in her hands. She didn’t notice her own silent tears.

Spike dropped down beside her, and pinched the bridge of his nose before reaching over and getting himself another cigarette.

After half of it was gone, he looked over at the blonde witch again. She sniffled, and wiped her eyes.

“Pull yourself together and call Red,” he said quietly, his voice raw with pain. “She has to…” He stopped, not knowing how to continue.

Tara sniffled again, took a deep breath, and reached for the phone. She dialed home quickly, and waited. She was expecting to get the machine, but Willow breathlessly picked up the phone.


“Will, it’s me.”

“Tara? Honey, what’s wrong?” Tara took a deep breath.

“I’m at Xander’s. I think you need to come over here. I’ll explain then.” Tara heard her own voice crack from the thickness that comes after crying, and cleared her throat.

“Okay, honey, I’ll be right there,” Willow said quickly. She hung up the phone, and looked over at Buffy, who had walked her in, and was looking at her expectantly.

“Trouble at Xander’s. We gotta get there,” Willow said, heading back for the door. Buffy followed her, asking questions about the nature of the trouble.

Tara, back at Xander’s, had gone into the kitchen to make coffee. She figured they’d all need some tonight. She wondered how Xander would be when he woke up. Would he still be unreachable? Would he be calmer? Would he be embarrassed, or angry, or would he make excuses?

Even the way her own family was could never have prepared her to deal with this type of situation. Abuse was something she was used to, though her father hadn’t hit her for many years. He had still abused her emotionally and mentally, though. Donny would still hit her, she believed, if she had any contact with him, but those abuses were very different than sexual abuse.

Even thinking about it made her stomach churn and the bile rise in her throat. Sexual abuse broke down your mind, even more than physical or mental abuse. It tore at everything you knew was good and right. She hoped Xander was strong enough to overcome this.

A new thought entered her head. She wondered if Willow even knew about this. She and Xander had been best friends all their lives. Would Xander have confided in her, or would he have hidden it?

And how long had it been going on? Had it only happened once? Or had it taken place over time? She had so many questions, but she didn’t know how to answer them without asking Xander. She wasn’t sure she could do that.

How would they deal with this as a group? The Scoobies were close-knit, and something like this would completely throw off the balance. How could they get Xander through this?

Tara sighed and went back to the sofa, two cups of coffee in her hands. She handed one to Spike, who stared at it for a moment before taking it and setting it down on the end table, beside his cigarettes. A droplet of hot coffee made its way to the fine finish when he spilled a little with his shaky hands.

A hard, frantic-sounding knock at the door made both Tara and Spike jump, shaking them from their inner reflections. Tara rose and moved to the door, opening it to see Willow and Buffy, who looked worried and afraid. Seeing them, Tara burst into fresh tears. Willow immediately moved to embrace her, while Buffy looked past them to Spike.

“Where’s Xander?” she asked.

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