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You were always reaching in
Looking for somewhere to go
Nobody needs to find out
Nobody needs to know what you know

~Lyrics by Our Lady Peace

Xander shot up in bed, the visions in his nightmares already fleeing his head, as usual. He never remembered the nightmares that had him waking in a cold sweat. He took a few deep breaths, and shrugged it off. They were only nightmares. Probably about giant Smurfs cavorting with miniature vampires or something. For now, it was morning, and the nightmares were gone and forgotten.

He smiled as he thought of the events of the previous night. He and Spike had decided that they were finally ready for sex. It had been going wonderfully. Xander had never felt anything as great as Spike made him feel. But then, just before the main event, Xander had…Xander didn’t do anything because he’s a good boy. A good boy. He won’t be bad anymore and he’s a good boy.…had…passed out, apparently, as he couldn’t remember anything else after Spike had retrieved the bottle of lube. He wondered if Spike was mad. Of course, Xander was tucked in and comfortable, so Spike had probably just rolled his eyes, put Xander to bed, then gone to jerk off. But where was he now?

Xander stretched lazily, sat up, and grabbed his robe from the bedside. He slipped it on, to walk out to the kitchen, where he found Spike, fully clothed, drinking a cup of coffee. With Tara, Willow, and Buffy. They all looked at him with worried eyes.

“Um. Hey. Everyone. How goes it?”

“Xander?” Willow’s voice was watery.

Spike was suddenly at Xander’s side, as close as he could be without touching the young man. His hands hovered at Xander’s shoulders, as if he wanted to touch him but was afraid to.

Xander didn’t understand what Spike could be afraid of.

“What’d I miss?” Xander asked warily.

“H-how are you feeling, Xander?” Tara asked gently.

“I’m fine. In fact, I had a great sleep, I would like some coffee, and is there some reason you all are looking at me like I might sprout a second head if you make any sudden moves?” Xander said huffily, then looked over at Spike, who was still staring at him and trying to touch him while still not touching him. “And you! Since when are you shy about groping me in public?” Xander grabbed Spike’s hand and roughly pressed it to his chest. Spike tore his hand back as if burned, looking at Xander as though he would break into a thousand pieces.

Xander simply stared at him for a moment, feeling slightly hurt. Had Spike been mad at him after all?

“Okay, seriously, this time, guys. What the hell is going on?”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me, Xander?” Willow asked, her voice breaking. A solitary tear rolled down her cheek. His first instinct was to go to her and wrap his arms around her, soothing her the way he had every time her voice had cracked like that, and a tear or two had fallen.

“Tell you what?” he asked, instead. “I have no idea what you guys are talking about. Or why you’re here.”

“How can you not remember? Spike said you were…” Buffy started. Tara shot her a warning look.

“What do you remember from last night, Xander?” Tara asked him, her face as gentle as ever, even etched with worry lines as it was now.

“Nobody here wants to hear about my sex life, so I suggest you don’t ask that question,” Xander said, rolling his eyes.

“Tell her, love,” Spike said gently. “Please?” he whispered.

Xander searched Spike’s eyes for a few moments before sighing dramatically. “Fine. Spike and I were…having fun, and then…I guess I passed out, or fell asleep or something, because the next thing I know, I woke up this morning, in bed. By myself,” he said, with a glance at Spike.

“You mean, you don’t…” Buffy broke in.

“Don’t what?”

“Remember. Last night. You…sort of had a breakdown,” Willow said gently.

Xander began to laugh. “No, I fell asleep. That’s not much of a breakdown. That’s a natural daily function. Granted, I probably should have waited till after the sex, but that doesn’t mean I had a breakdown.”

“Xan,” Spike said. “Other room for a bit?” Xander rolled his eyes, and followed Spike into the bedroom, feeling the stares of the women behind him. When Spike got to the room, he looked around pensively.

Finally, Spike turned and looked directly into Xander’s eyes.

“Xan, it’s okay. We aren’t going to judge you or anything. Bloody hell, we all care about you, and we just want to help you.”

“Help me with what?!” Xander growled. “I have no idea what you people are talking about!”

“You went completely mad last night! The rocking, the screaming, the crying! Everything you said… How can you expect us not to want to help you?!” Spike cried back, desperately.

“I was ASLEEP!!” Xander snapped. “I don’t know what you people are talking about! There’s nothing wrong with me, although I’m beginning to think you’re all delusional!”

“You…really don’t remember?”

NO!” Xander cried.

“But…you…it was for an hour or so. You were…” Spike sniffed the air. “And you didn’t exactly have a peaceful sleep, either,” he finished accusingly.

“Okay, so I have nightmares. I always have nightmares. I’ve never had a breakdown before!”

“What did you dream about?”

“I don’t know. I never remember,” Xander sighed, the fight gone out of him. He plopped down on the edge of the bed.

“Love…I think you need to see somebody.”

“I’m seeing you, dolt,” Xander replied affectionately.

“No. A shrink, or something.”

“Why would I want to do something stupid like that?” Xander answered, rolling his eyes and snuggling his head onto his vampire’s shoulder.

“Xander, you really did go hysterical last night. Just as I was about to touch you…you started to scream, and cry, and you tucked yourself into a corner and rocked for an hour, skittering away from me like a frightened animal…” Spike’s voice was calm and collected, but Xander could hear the fear and the urge to cry in them. “Scariest bloody thing I ever saw.”

“I don’t remember. I don’t even know why I would do that. I wanted to make love with you.” Xander sighed, eyebrows scrunching as he tried to puzzle out what had happened.

“You said…some things,” Spike offered, sounding uncomfortable. “Led us to believe…”

“Believe what?” Xander asked, lifting his head to look into Spike’s tortured blue eyes.

“That because of all the stuff with your dad…which, by the way, you should have told someone, or something. How long did it go on?” Spike put his hand on the back of Xander’s neck gently, petting the area gently in a soothing circle.

“How long did what go on?” Xander asked. Bad. Bad. Dirty. No. Go away. Everything has to go away. I’ll make it go away. Come inside, and it will go away. Forever, if you go inside for just now. I’ll make it go. The bad things can’t get you inside. Bad. Be a good boy. Go inside. Inside is good. Xander shook his head at the litany of unbidden, nonsensical thoughts running through his head.

“How long did your dad…hurt you like that?” Spike asked, his voice carrying the same soothing note.

“My dad never hurt me. I mean, sure, he’s a jerk, but it’s not like he hit me or anything. Is that what I was freaking out about? Because if that’s the case, I don’t know where it came from.”

“Xan, you don’t have to hide it. I’ll understand. So will they.” Spike jerked his chin agitatedly in the direction of the doorway, indicating the girls in the kitchen.

“I’m not hiding anything. My dad never hit me.”

Spike closed his eyes, swallowed roughly, and then looked directly into Xander’s own brown eyes. “But did he ever rape you?”

Bad ugly secret not supposed to know how does he know you were supposed to hide it and go inside and it would go away and it isn’t away it’s right here and it’s bad and it’s ugly and make it go away like you said you would when I went inside and I can’t come out now because it’s too ugly and bad and not supposed to know and how could he know it’s bad bad bad bad

“Xan? Xander? Xander!” Spike was holding him up, and Xander felt like he was still falling. Why was the room so dark? Hadn’t it been light, just a few moments ago?

“Xander? Luv, breathe. Deep breaths, luv,” Spike was saying, his voice soothing and gentle as he brushed Xander’s hair from his eyes. Xander took some deep, gasping breaths, wondering how he could have forgotten to breathe. Suddenly Willow was behind Spike with a glass in her hand. The glass seemed so clear, compared to everything else in the room. It shone. The water droplets glistened in the not-light coming from the covered window.

But the water wasn’t the clearest thing in the room. When Xander shifted his muddled eyes over to his lover, Spike’s blue eyes glittered as well. Sparkling diamonds in his blue eyes. But it wasn’t diamonds that caused the glimmer. It was the unshed tears precariously threatening to fall from those loving eyes.

“Xan, luv, are you okay?” Xander blinked long and slow. He swallowed heavily.

“Xander, why can’t you tell me?” Spike asked, his voice breaking. One tear made good on its threat and slid down the vampire’s porcelain cheek.

Xander didn’t answer for a very long time, as Willow sobbed in Tara’s arms behind Spike, as Buffy sat on the chair across the room, staring at her hands and trying not to break down and cry as well, as Spike held him and oh so gently rocked him, glistening tears streaking his ivory face. His breathing stayed rapid, and his eyes remained closed for long moments. Finally, he opened his eyes, glistening with their own tears, and looked straight into Spike’s.

“Because I had to go inside,” he whispered, before breaking down and sobbing in Spike’s strong arms.

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