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You’re all I need
When the water runs deep
You’re all I need
Now I cry my soul to sleep
You’re all I need
You’re all I need

~ Lyrics by Collective Soul

Xander didn’t speak through the rest of the session. He didn’t yet feel comfortable telling these strangers the rest of his story. He wasn’t even sure how much he could tell them. Certain things had to be omitted, he knew, such as Spike’s vampirism and Buffy’s slayerism and Willow’s wiccanism. Those admissions would have to be confined to his private sessions with Julia.

Xander did, however, listen to their stories. It was sad to hear their tales, but at the same time, he was kind of glad that he wasn’t the only person in the world that had gone through what he had, though he wouldn’t wish it on anyone. He felt guilty about being glad someone else had lived through the things he had, but he couldn’t help it.

Spike kept hold of his hand through the entire meeting, and Xander reveled in that touch, that simple contact that kept him grounded and comforted. He listened as the other people in the room told horror stories about their abuse, and as they simply talked about the good things in their lives.

Penny spoke about getting into trouble at school, and the way the group spoke of it, it seemed to be an ordinary occurrence for her. Julia told her that she should find a more positive way of dealing with the things that had happened to her, and Penny gave her the finger. Spike smirked at the girl’s reaction, and Xander rolled his eyes. Only Spike would admire someone for flipping off her therapist.

Xander learned that Mike had been afflicted with brain damage by his stepfather when the young man’s mother had tried to save Mike from the sexual abuse. That made him angry, that the man had not only damaged a child by raping him, but had also beat him so badly that he would never be the same. Mike had the innocent bright eyes of a child, and as he told more of his story, he could hear Spike beside him growling quietly.

The hour ended quickly, and Spike stood. “I need a smoke, pet. Meet you outside after you say your goodbyes?”

Xander nodded and allowed Spike to kiss his cheek before Spike practically sped out the door. He turned, a little uncomfortable, but Rachel gave him a reassuring smile.

“You’ll get used to it,” she told him, standing. He stood as well, and they stepped over to the table with the coffee and refreshments. “It’s hard at first. A bunch of people you don’t know, and you hear their darkest secrets, and are expected to tell them yours?”

“Yeah, I’m not used to…telling that stuff.”

“And that’s understandable. You didn’t even remember it until two weeks ago.”

“No,” Xander said, gulping coffee because he didn’t know what else to say.

“I think you’re going to be better fairly soon, though. Julia doesn’t say it, but normally she doesn’t bring anyone to group unless she thinks they’re already on the way to being recovered. You must have shown her some potential.”

“You think so?” Xander asked, looking up in shock. “I didn’t think…”

“No one ever thinks they’re getting better, but Julia knows,” Rachel smiled.

“I still have…you know, setbacks, and flashbacks pretty often.”

“Those will go away as you get used to the idea. Do you know what sets them off?”

Xander thought. “Different things. Circumstances… my friends, Wes and Gunn, were out in the garden, doing…couply things. That set me off. And when I was in the shower. Burned my skin pretty badly, actually.”

Andrea stepped up to them. “What I don’t get is how you can have a boyfriend. I mean, I really can’t stand to have a guy touch me after everything.”

Xander blushed. He was about to answer when Rachel interrupted him.

“Andrea! That’s not your business.”

Andrea looked sheepish, but Xander smiled slightly. “No, it’s okay. Things with Spike are…weird. But I love him, and so far, he hasn’t tried to push me. And I don’t think he will. We’ve never actually…you know…and we’ve been together for 6 months. He can be pretty patient when it’s important. Sometimes.” Xander grinned. “That’s about the only thing he’s patient about.”

“He seems like a great guy,” Rachel replied with a knowing smile.

Xander smiled fondly. “He really is. Speaking of impatient boyfriends, he’s outside waiting for me. I’d better get down there.”

Rachel and Andrea smiled. “It was nice to meet you, Xander,” Andrea said, walking away.

“See you next week,” Xander said to both of them as he headed for the door. Julia stopped him.

“So will you be coming back next week?” she asked him.

“Yeah, I think so. It’s kinda nice to know I’m not alone, you know? I mean, I’m not, I have Spike, and my friends, but it’s nice to know someone else at least understands, you know?”

“That’s why I started these group sessions. People in this age group need to know others understand what they’re going through. I’ll see you for your next appointment, then.” She smiled and turned to say goodbye to the other lingering patients, and Xander headed for the stairs.

“See you later, Marge,” he said as he rushed down the stairs, suddenly wanting nothing but to be in Spike’s arms.

He made it out to the street quickly, looking for Spike. Spike was leaning up against the car, smoking a cigarette pensively. His eyes turned up at Xander’s arrival, and he smiled gently, flicking the ash from his cigarette away. “Hey, pet. Ready to go?”

Xander didn’t answer. He merely walked up to Spike, wrapped his arms around him, and kissed him fully on the mouth.

A small moan escaped Spike’s throat as he threw himself into the kiss. It had been too long since Xander had kissed him this way. When the young man drew away with a dozy smile on his face, Spike perked an eyebrow.

“What was that for, luv?”

“I love you.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Yeah. I just wanted to say…I’m glad you’re with me. You are the most important thing in my life, and I’m going through a lot of shit right now, but I think I’m gonna make it. As long as you’re with me. You’re all I need to get through all of this.”

“Thought I’d hang around a bit, yeah.”

“Good. I appreciate it.”

Spike leaned in and kissed Xander gently. “Love you too, git.”

“Good to know,” Xander grinned. “I’m glad I’m not alone in this.”

“You won’t ever be alone, Xan. Promise.”

Xander smiled and kissed his boyfriend once more before getting into the car to go back to the Hyperion Hotel.

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