Broken bruised forgotten sore
Too fucked up to care anymore
Poisoned to my rotten core
Too fucked up to care anymore
In the back
Off the side
Is a place
Where i hide
Where i stay
Tried to say
Tried to ask
I needed to
Where were you?
~Lyrics by Nine Inch Nails
Spike opened his eyes, shutting them again immediately, trying to escape the harsh white lighting of the room.
“You’re awake,” came the comment from beside him. Spike debated braving the light and opening his eyes, deciding against it.
“Somewhat,” he murmured. “We could rectify that if you’ve got a bottle of that scotch you’re so fond of sitting around.”
“Somehow, I don’t think that’s exactly what you need,” Giles replied grimly.
“No, you’re right. A nice little white pill would suffice. Or four.”
“Why are you here, Spike?”
“Seemed like the place to be,” Spike quipped weakly, wanting a Vicadin even more. Giles’ question had reminded him of the answer, and he really didn’t want to think about it anymore.
“Don’t bullshit me, William.” Spike was taken aback enough to open his eyes, however squintingly, to the light. Giles hardly ever used profane language, unless he was very, very angry. Spike had been awake for all of one minute, so he wasn’t entirely sure what he had done to piss the man off. It might have been something to do with the little white pill crack. “Why are you here?”
Spike sighed. “Short version or the long version?”
“Start with the short, though I may ask you to elaborate further.”
“Xan…tried to kill himself. ‘Bout a month ago, though I expect you’ve heard that much from the bints in Sunnyhell. I couldn’t…not bloody well gonna watch him die, am I?” Spike didn’t wait for an answer. His eyes prickled with the tears he still hadn’t let himself shed. “No, I’m not. So I left. Wandered. Wound up on your bloody uncomfortable couch.”
“What have you been eating?”
“Uh…mostly chicken’s blood. S’cheapest. Bloody gross, but Mad Dog masks the taste pretty good.”
“So, you’ve been drinking.”
“More often than not, yeah.”
“And the pills?”
“Er…what?” Spike tried to feign innocent, but Giles pulled out one small white pill from his pocket, presenting it for Spike’s perusal.
“I found this in your pocket.”
“Damn. Thought I was out.” Spike reached for the pill, but Giles snatched his hand back.
“You’re not taking these anymore. Nor are you drinking anymore. We’ll stop at a butcher shop on our way to the airport, and you can drink some real blood.” Giles stood, went into the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and came back empty-handed. Spike shook the cobwebs from his head.
“We’re going back to Los Angeles.” Spike jumped to his feet.
“Like fucking hell we are. I’m not going back there.”
“Yes you are,” Giles replied, his eyes glinting coldly.
“No I’m not. I can’t…I can’t go back, I can’t see him like that…he was…he…is he dead?” Spike asked, the thought suddenly occurring to him. He hadn’t made contact with anyone in L.A. for the past month…Xander may have died in that time. The thought filled him with cold dread, and he felt a piece of him that should have been long dead die all over again.
“No, he’s not dead. But Willow tells me he’s not doing well.”
“I can’t…no. I’m not…I can’t live knowing he’s like that. I won’t. Just…go there without me. Stake me first, or whatever.” Spike had said the words idly, but suddenly it seemed like the best idea in the world. “Yeah. Stake me, and go back.”
Giles was surprised by his response. “Stake you?”
“I’m…I’m no good, Giles. You can just…it wouldn’t take long, and you don’t like me that much anyway.”
“I won’t stake you. You will eat, you will get on the bloody plane, and you will sit quietly until we reach Los Angeles. We will go to the Hyperion, and we will bloody well see Xander.”
Spike looked into Giles’ eyes, and knew he was beaten. Giles, at this point, would brook no argument. Spike sighed in defeat, wondering if he could get hold of a wooden implement on his own, and when Giles wasn’t looking, do the job himself.
“Let’s go,” Giles said, practically dragging Spike from the flat, out into the dark street.
Angel was upstairs with Xander, while Julia was addressing the rest of the group in the hotel’s lobby. Her face was grim, her eyes sad. She pinched the bridge of her nose, taking a deep breath.
“Xander has lost an unhealthy amount of weight. He’s nearly emaciated. He’s heavily medicated at this point, and is showing no improvement. At this point, I’m afraid I’m running out of options.” The faces looking at her fell in disappointment. “If Xander doesn’t improve, at least somewhat, soon, he may have to be institutionalized.”
“It isn’t going to come to that,” came a British voice from the door. Giles stood at the front doors, a sullen Spike in tow. “Xander will be showing some signs of recovery soon.”
Jaws in the lobby dropped at the appearance of the two men. Everyone was speechless. Well, almost everyone.
“Spike! Where the hell have you been? You bastard!” Cordelia cried, her hands involuntarily searching for a stake. Spike’s head hung further down.
“Spike,” Giles said, ignoring the brunette. “Let’s go up to Xander’s room. You know where it is, so you’ll need to direct me.” Spike hesitated, but Giles made no other prompt. Finally, Spike relented and trudged up the stairs, toward Xander’s bedroom. He gestured at the door.
The door was open, and Angel was sitting by the bed, reading aloud from a book. Giles and Spike both peeked in, and both were shocked at Xander’s appearance. Xander was nearly emaciated, as Julia had said, but he was also still covered in bruises, though faded, and dirty. Angel glanced up in shock when he noticed Spike and Giles standing at the door.
“Angel, would you mind giving us a few minutes alone with Xander?” Giles asked politely, recovering from the shock of Xander’s appearance. Angel nodded dumbly and left the room. Giles closed the door behind him. Spike whirled on his fellow countryman.
“Do you see now, you bloody wanker?! Do you see? This is why I left. Look at him…he has no…no will to live, not even a little,” Spike cried, his eyes spilling over, his voice breaking with emotion and pain.
Giles made no reply, but the croaked reply from the bed was heard by both men. “Not without you.”
Spike spun around again, staring at Xander’s prone form. “I won’t stand here and watch you fucking die.”
“Then close your eyes,” Xander whispered, his eyes ticking to the ceiling again. His own voice was raw with emotion and under-use.
Spike spun on his heel a third time, headed straight for the door. Giles grabbed his arm roughly, shoving him toward the chair Angel had vacated. “You’re staying.”
Spike broke into sobs that wracked his body and mind with equal fervor. His hands shook as he tried to wipe the tear tracks from his glistening cheeks, tried to stop the tears themselves, to no avail.
Giles turned his gaze on Xander, who was staring at the ceiling again. “Alexander LaVelle Harris, you will look at me, and you will look at me now.” After a moment of hesitation, Xander turned his eyes to Giles, though they held no spark. “How dare you?”
The question surprised Xander, though he tried not to show it. Giles continued. “I did not raise my children to be quitters. Who do you think you are, to give up, when there are so many people who love you, and need you, here?”
“I’m broken,” Xander tried to explain.
“You will never, ever be broken, Xander Harris. Not as long as you fight. It’s hard, I know, but you have to keep fighting, to live. What your father did to you was incomprehensible evil. We fight evil, Xander. That’s what we do. If you give up now, and let yourself die, your father will have won. I’m not prepared to let that happen, and neither are you.”
“The only thing that made any of this better was Spike, and he left me. I’m not good enough for him,” Xander snapped, tears rolling freely down his face.
“You have to live for yourself, Xander, not for Spike, or anyone else.” Giles whirled his attention on Spike, who was still sobbing in the chair, his hands over his face. “And you. How dare you run? You’re nothing but a bloody hypocrite, Spike. You’re trying to kill yourself as surely as Xander is. You don’t eat, you’re abusing alcohol and drugs…you asked me to stake you.”
Xander sat up suddenly, and swung his legs to the floor. He turned his own attention to Spike. “You broke your promise,” he hissed. “You said you wouldn’t leave, ever, and you left. I can’t do this without you!” Xander was screaming now. “How could you have left? You said…you said you’d never leave!” Xander broke into hiccoughing sobs, the anger in his eyes replaced by undiluted pain.
Spike lifted his eyes, sniffling. “I dreamt of you, Xan. Every night…the look on your face…when you jumped…I can’t do it again.” Spike sobbed again, rising from the chair, headed for the door again. Giles sidestepped him, grabbing his arm once more. He guided him forcefully to the bed, sitting him beside Xander. He pulled the chair forward and sat in it, facing the two men.
“Listen to me, both of you. You’ve both made bad choices here. But now, you’re at a crossroads. You can go either way here. You can be strong, together, and fight. Or, you can be weak, apart, and die, as you both very nearly have.
Xander and Spike turned to one another, their eyes meeting. Suddenly, the pain seemed light years away. Both could remember their first kiss, their first date, their first shared laugh. The many times they had been happy together, in love, hopeful for the future. They had both broken promises, both hurt one another, but both knew that without each other, they were lost. But was it too late? Did they still have time to make things right?
Giles stood. “You both have to choose now,” he said. “You can choose life, or you can choose death. Keep in mind that if one of you chooses death, you are surely making that same decision for the other.” Giles turned and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Xander continued to look into Spike’s teary blue eyes. He whispered, “I want to live.”
Spike pounced forward, pressing his lips to Xander’s in a passionate, loving, desperate kiss, and all the pain was forgiven and forgotten in the meeting of their mouths.
Back to Mercy
Next Chapter - "Let's Make Love"