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When I’m Gone

There's secrets in this life that I can't hide.
Somewhere in this darkness there's a life that I can't find.
Maybe it's too far away or maybe I'm just blind, maybe I'm just blind.

So hold me when I'm here right me when I'm wrong.
Hold me when I'm scared and love me when I'm gone.
Everything I am and everything in me
Wants to be the one you wanted me to be.

Now roaming through this darkness I'm alive but I'm alone.
Part of me is fighting this but part of me is gone.
So hold me when I'm here right me when I'm wrong.
Hold me when I'm scared and love me when I'm gone.

~Lyrics by 3 Doors Down

Xander remained under intense observation in the hospital for a week, until Julia was able to convince the doctors there that her patient would recover better at home. She would see him daily for a period of time. She reasoned that his physical injuries were not serious, and he was well enough to not take up an extra bed in the hospital. When the doctors at the hospital told her that he was on suicide watch and couldn’t leave for a few more days, she conceded, but told them that as soon as the suicide watch was over, Xander was to be sent home where she and his family could take personalized care of him.

In and out of the hospital, Xander barely spoke. He ate only when forced, and he didn’t try to move or smile. His friends could see that he was practically dead inside, but they had no idea what to do about it.

Dawn left two days after Xander went back home to the Hyperion. She had classes to attend at UC Sunnydale, and she knew that her presence was neither helping nor hindering Xander’s progress. She decided she couldn’t do any harm by going back to Sunnydale. She also hoped that perhaps Spike had gone back to Sunnydale, and if she could see him, she could try and talk some sense into him.

The rest were given accommodations in Angel’s hotel. Xander was never left alone. Willow slept on a cot pulled into his bedroom. He laid in bed listlessly, not carrying a conversation, not reading, not watching television…all he did was sleep, or lay awake staring at the ceiling. He cried at night, but he did so silently. No sobs or sniffles ever came from him. Tears rolled silently down the sides of his face, pooling salty water in his ears and hair, soaking the pillow on each side of his head, but he never made a sound.

There was always at least one person in the room with him. Wesley and Gunn never, ever went into Xander’s room together. They didn’t want to hurt him by reminding him that they had each other, and he was alone.

No one in the group truly knew how to interact with him. Xander was nearly catatonic in his grief. There was no reaching him, and the others were beginning to get tired of trying.

“You would think Spike had died, the way he’s acting,” Buffy said sadly as she sat at the kitchen table with Cordelia, Angel, Tara and Wesley. Gunn and Willow were upstairs with Xander, trying to convince him to eat more than a few bites of spaghetti.

“It’s worse,” said Cordelia. “Spike didn’t die…he left Xander. Willingly.”

“I can’t even imagine what he’s going through right now,” Tara sighed sadly.

“Has anyone heard from Spike?” Wesley asked, looking around the table.

“Dawn said she checked our messages as soon as she got home, and he hasn’t called any of us. No one’s seen or heard from him since he left the hospital that first day,” Buffy replied, sighing sadly. “I just wish I knew where he was…if he was okay.”

“Well, I hope he’s lying in a ditch somewhere,” Cordelia said angrily, sniffing.

“How can you say that?” Buffy cried. “Spike’s our friend.”

“He left Xander. The one time Xander needed him the most, Spike couldn’t hack it and he up and left. I don’t feel sorry for him.”

“Don’t, Cordy,” Angel said, finally breaking his silence up to that point. “Spike… I talked to him. He was in just as much pain about leaving as Xander is.”

“Then why did he go?” Cordelia cried. “When the going gets rough, you don’t leave! Spike knew that!”

“I’m sure Spike has his reasons, Cordelia. For now, we need to concentrate our efforts on making Xander better. Then we can find Spike and see how he’s doing,” Wesley suggested.

“But what if it’s too late by then?” Tara murmured, mostly to herself.

“Okay, Xander, I’m going to go take a walk. Gunn will stay with you.” Willow stood, glancing gratefully at Gunn and noting that Xander didn’t acknowledge her at all anyway. As soon as she was in the hallway, she slid down the wall, covering her face tiredly with her hands. She couldn’t believe the immense change in her best friend. Xander had been getting better, according to the phone calls she had been exchanging with the hotel. Something had happened to make him step off the edge of the roof, which had caused Spike to leave him, which had spiraled Xander into a depression so deep Willow wasn’t sure he would ever come back out.

Julia had suggested placing him on some medications, such as thorazine or valium. Willow wasn’t sure she wanted that, but she knew that if chemical substances were the only way she was going to get her Xander back, she would be willing to let Julia prescribe some.

She had spent the last week without sleeping. She’d rolled a cot into Xander’s bedroom, and she lay awake every night, staring at the ceiling and trying to think of a way to help Xander. There was only one solution she could come up with. There was only one thing she could think of that would bring Xander back from the edge, back from the place where he had brought himself. Her biggest challenge now was figuring out how to do it.

She needed to figure out how to bring Spike back.


Spike’s head hurt. That pissed him off, really. He’d spent all that money…well, no, he’d pick-pocketed, then beaten up some demons and stolen their money, then spent it, on booze, and he damn well didn’t want a headache. But the last bottle of Mad Dog he had dropped beside him was empty, and he’d spent all the money he’d managed to steal on the alcohol, one small bag of chicken’s blood (the cheapest he could get), and a rather large stash of Vicadin. The little white pills had been expensive, at twenty-five dollars per pill, but each one made living without Xander a little bit easier. They made him drowsy, they made him a numb, and best of all, they made him forget for a while.

He reached into the pocket of his duster, finding four of the little pills left. He had had $500 before his little spending spree. One hundred of that had gone toward the booze, about five toward the blood, and the rest had been on Vicadin. He had been able to ration the pills so far, because he mixed them with the Mad Dog, but now he was out of Mad Dog. He shrugged and swallowed all four pills with a grimace, then laid back on the mattress he had dragged down into the sewer from the dump. It was his only luxury, not including the drugs and alcohol. He waited for the pills to kick in, so he could forget for a while. Or, if he couldn’t forget, he could at least be numbed of the pain. That was just as good.

His mind, of course, didn’t cooperate. Before the drug kicked in, his mind recalled the look on Xander’s face when he’d told the young man he was leaving. Spike remembered all the times he’d promised Xander that no matter what, no matter what, he would always be there for him. Spike had promised not to leave. Spike had promised to be with Xander forever. Spike had, apparently, lied.

He wished he could be strong. He was too weak to stay with Xander, in the state Xander was in. He was too weak to go back to Xander. He was too weak to be alone. He was to weak to wake up in the morning and face the sunrise. He was too weak to do anything other than drink and pop pills to try and ease the pain.

Spike had convinced himself that he had left for Xander’s own good. He and Xander had slept in each other’s arms, had been more intimate than they had before the entire mess had started. That night, Xander had woken up and tried to kill himself. Spike couldn’t entertain any other possibility than that he was the one who had caused Xander’s suicide attempt. All the signs pointed to him. He knew he had to stay away from Xander in order for Xander to get better. That was the only way, he knew.

He just hoped that Xander still loved him. Spike knew they couldn’t be together again, for several reasons. If Xander didn’t get better, Spike knew his being there would only make things harder on both of them. If Xander did get better, Spike knew he would resent his lover for leaving him at such a tumultuous time, even though Spike felt he was justified in his actions. Now Spike just had to stay away from Xander forever.

He wasn’t entirely sure how he was going to accomplish that, though, because everything in his body, every instinct and thought, was screaming for him to go back to Xander and make things right. Spike thankfully drifted off into oblivion, finally, as the drug began to take effect.


Xander ignored Willow as she left the room. He ignored Gunn’s idle chatter. He ignored everything, wondering whether, if he asked, Julia would give him something to ease the pain. He’d heard them talking about giving him anti-depression drugs, but that wasn’t what he wanted. He was kind of hoping for something along the lines of morphine. Maybe some heroin. Either would do the trick, as long as he didn’t have to think anymore.

His mind flicked to Spike all the time. Any time he thought he’d stopped thinking about his lover, the blue of Spike’s eyes would come back to his head, and the taste of his cool, tear-stained lips would bring on a wave of dizziness. All he could think was that Spike had left, had said goodbye, wasn’t coming back, had broken his promise, had lied, had left when he said he wouldn’t, even though he said Xander could trust him to stay. All he could think was pain.

He didn’t have the energy to respond to any of his friends. He knew they were just trying to help, and he knew he was hurting them by not talking to them, or eating, or getting out of bed, but he just couldn’t do any of those things. He couldn’t do anything because he had never, ever wanted to do anything without Spike.

He knew that if he were dead, he would feel better. He knew Spike would be okay, although he’d be upset for a while. But Spike was the one who’d left him now. Now, his friends would miss him, yes, but they would heal, too. Xander knew he was the only one in this situation who wasn’t going to heal. It was unfair, and he didn’t think he should have to put up with all the pain if it was never going to get better.

He wished someone would leave him alone. All it would take would be a few minutes, and he could sneak up to the roof, or lock himself in the bathroom with a razorblade. He knew none of that would work, though, with Angel in the hotel. Angel would smell the blood, or hear him heading upstairs, and break the door down, or run up and catch him before he could jump. Xander just wanted it to end, to be gone, and he resented his friends for not letting him go.

He hurt. He missed Spike more than he’d ever thought possible, and he hurt. He hurt because he loved Spike, even though Spike had lied to him. He hurt because he wanted Spike to love him just as much back, but if Spike had left, Spike couldn’t have loved him, not the way Xander loved.

Xander continued to stare at the ceiling, wanting nothing more than to be gone.

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