Broken by the rules of love
And fate has led you through it
You do what you have to do
And fate has led you through it
You do what you have to do ...
And I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
~ Lyrics by Sarah McLachlan
At 11:13 am, Xander woke up.
At first, he didn’t open his eyes. It didn’t work, was all he could think. He laid there for a few more moments, wishing he could go back to sleep forever. He was scared to face Spike… Spike, who had saved his life. Xander wasn’t grateful, though he knew he should be.
Finally, he blearily opened his eyes, staring up at the white ceiling. An instant later, Willow was above him, tears in her eyes and a forced smile on her lips.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” she said quietly. Xander closed his eyes again, reopening them a moment later.
“Hey,” he croaked out. He wondered why his voice was so hoarse.
“What the hell were you thinking?!” came Cordelia’s shrill, angry voice from across the room.
“Cordy, shut up! He’s been through a lot, he doesn’t need you…”
“He put himself through it!”
“Don’t talk about him as if he can’t hear you!”
“Xander, how’re you feeling?”
“The lot of you can just fuck off now.” The quiet, ravaged English voice came from the corner of the room and stopped the cacophony of arguing voices. Xander’s eyes closed again. He was sure now that he couldn’t face Spike. The pain in the voice, the complete and utter desolation…Xander had caused that.
After a moment, Xander heard the large group of people shuffle out of the room, and he swallowed roughly.
“Xander.” Spike’s voice was calm, and more than a little bit angry.
Xander opened his eyes reluctantly, and stared up into eyes so blue they almost took his breath away. All of a sudden, he couldn’t remember why he’d even gone up to that roof. He immediately knew that if he’d just woken Spike after his nightmare, and looked into those eyes, he wouldn’t have gone, he wouldn’t have stepped off the edge.
“I…” he started, but Spike raised a hand, looking away. Xander looked down, too, embarrassed and scared. The pain in Spike’s movements was enough to make him ashamed of what he had done, and fear Spike’s reaction. His fear couldn’t have prepared him for the words Spike spoke after a long pause.
And Xander’s world came crashing down all over again.
“I’m leaving, and I’m not coming back. I wanted…I wanted to say goodbye before I go. But I’m going.” Spike’s voice broke and he turned away.
“Why?” Xander finally asked, even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
Spike stood still for many minutes. Finally he answered. “You don’t…I thought we were going to fight together. But you just…you gave up, Xander. On me, on us, on yourself. I won’t wait around for the day you give up again, and I won’t live wondering if today’s the day you’re going to kill yourself. I love you, but I can’t be with you this way.”
Xander nodded, his throat burning. He thought he might be sick, and he blinked back the sudden onset of tears. He didn’t want to make this any harder for Spike than it had to be. Spike still hadn’t turned around to look at him, though.
Spike finally did turn, looking at Xander with tearful, burning eyes. He moved to the bed, bent down, and kissed Xander gently. Xander kissed back with all the feeling he had, trying to make Spike want to stay, trying to burn the moment in his mind because he knew it would be their final kiss. Spike finally broke away, a sob struggling to make its way from his throat. He choked it back and turned on a heel, heading to the door. “Goodbye,” he whispered without looking back. With that, he was gone, and Xander let the tears flow.
On the other side of the door, Spike struggled not to collapse to the floor, knowing the worst wasn’t over. He still had to make it out of the hospital, down to the sewer, back to the Hotel, and leave L.A.
Buffy moved toward him, but he ignored her, not slowing his pace. The sob that had been fighting its way out finally broke free, and he almost stumbled with the force of it, but kept moving. The group that had been standing outside the door looked on in confusion. Angel looked at the door, then at Spike’s retreating form in indecision, and finally took off after the younger vampire.
“Spike,” he said when he caught up.
“Don’t…” Spike tried, but another sob cut him off. “I can’t…”
“Spike, where are you going?”
“I’m leaving. I’m going back to the hotel, get my stuff, then I’m gone.”
“What?!” Angel was shocked. He’d never thought Spike would leave Xander, especially at a time such as this.
“I’m leaving. I can’t… I have to.”
“Xander needs you, Spike,” Angel started angrily, grabbing Spike’s arm roughly. Spike spun angry, teary eyes on his grandsire.
“No, he doesn’t! He doesn’t need me to stand by and watch him try to kill himself! He doesn’t need me to fight with him because he won’t fucking fight himself! I won’t…I can’t live every day wondering if that’s the day he’s going to give up again…if that’s the day I’m going to lose him.”
“Spike, you can’t give up like this…” Angel said desperately.
“Why not?” Spike whispered, his eyes imploring for an answer. “He did.”
“Spike…” Angel knew there was nothing he could say. Spike was in as much pain as Xander, and Spike had never been able to deal with emotional pain.
“I have to go. Just let me go.” Spike’s voice was barely a whisper, breaking with his tears. The wretched anguish in his voice surprised Angel so much that he released Spike’s arm. Spike held his eyes for another moment, then turned and continued on his way out of the hospital.
Willow knocked on Xander’s door, walking in without an invitation. She saw him on the bed, sobbing, and rushed to his side, taking his hand in comfort.
“What happened?” she finally asked when the sobs died down enough for him to speak.
“He left.” Admitting it out loud made it all the more real, and the round of sobs that followed wrenched his throat beyond pain. He could barely breathe, it hurt so much, and he began thinking of the roof of the Hyperion again. How nice it would be to be back there, to step off again…how the pain would stop. That was what he wanted…all he wanted. Was for it to stop.
“He…” Willow could hardly believe it. Spike couldn’t have left, not like this, not now. It must have been some sort of mistake.
“He left. He said he couldn’t…that if I wasn’t going to fight, neither was he, and he…” another sob, “he kissed me, and he left. He said he wasn’t coming back. That…that he loved me but he couldn’t be with me.” The sobs renewed themselves, and he couldn’t speak for long minutes. Willow felt a tear roll down her own cheek, and squeezed Xander’s hand.
“He…Willow, he promised me. He said he’d fight with me, and that he would never, ever leave me. He promised me he would never leave me alone! He said… He wasn’t supposed to go, Willow, this isn’t how it was supposed to…” Xander’s tirade ended on another choked sob, and all Willow could do was watch her best friend fall apart even further than he already had. Her heart broke for him all over again.
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Next Chapter - "When I'm Gone"