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Written for the Fractured Fairytale Ficathon! organized by [info]willshenilshe

I wrote for [info]reremouse and she wanted:The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.

Pairing and/or characters you want: Drusilla as the Snow Queen, Xander as the boy she takes (turning Xander as a variant on the shard in his eye is a plus), Spike or Wesley as the love he's taken away from. *Or* Unchipped, unsouled Spike as the Snow Queen, Xander as the boy (again, turned), and Willow as the girl he left behind, but with the ending twisted so that Xander stays with his Snow Queen.
Rating desired: NC-17
Three things you want to see: Vamp Xander, basic concept of the fairy tale fit into Whedonverse setting and characterizations, happy s/x or x/wes ending.
Two things you don't want to see: Fairy tale setting, complete copy of the original tale. Have fun with the concept of the story instead.

Hope this works, bay-bee! I like this fairy tale a lot, and was so excited to get such an interesting request!

And Ice For Your Wounded Heart


Part One

"Jesse, come on! Please - I know you're in there!" Xander felt the wall at his back - smelled the earth and iron tang of the vampire. But he could smell Calvin Klein, too, and grape Now'n'Later, and that was Jesse, that was his best friend in the world, that was the first boy he'd ever kissed. That was the vampire, one fist knotted in his shirt, Xander's hand over that fist, trying to make him remember.

"It's like - like I'm connected to everything, Xander! I can hear your heart..." Jesse's face - demonic, alien - twisted and subsided and it was just him, just the black-haired boy Xander had seen nearly every day of his life. "Come with me, Xander -"

"But - but this Master - he's gonna destroy everything, Jesse! Help us, just - help us kill him and then - you and me, it'll be like it always was. Please." The stake in Xander's hand was cutting into his palm. Hastily carved, crude and rough, and he could see a drop of blood rolling slowly down to the tip. Jesse saw it too. He leaned forward and put out the tip of his tongue and tasted it. When he looked back up at Xander he was smiling - that wide, Jesse smile, black eyes sparking with laughter

"You really would. Xander -" The stream of panicked kids running past surged, swirled - and Jesse suddenly fell forward, pushed hard. And the stake slid in, as if he were made of nothing - as if Jesse were made of...

Dust, dust, he's... Jesse's agonized, horrified face stared at him - his lips moved, 'No!' And then he was dust, collapsing back and down and Xander collapsed with him, the stake clattering to the floor and Xander sprawled, hands and knees, grit under his palms and in his eyes; making him cry, making him cough.

"Jesse! Oh, god, I'm sorry, I'm, no, no -"

"Xander! Come on!" It was Willow, eyes wide and terrified, her sweater ripped and her face bruised, grabbing his arm and hauling him up - yanking him out of the club. Vampires and humans ran through the shadows - Mr. Giles appeared out of them, his glasses askew and his face smudged, looking pleased.

"She did it! She killed the Vessel - the Master is trapped for another century!"

"Go team us!" Willow said, her voice shaky, and Xander wanted to scream.

"I say, Xander - are you all right?" Giles was peering at him, cleaning his glasses on a handkerchief, and Xander drew in a hard, hurting breath.

"J-jesse... I k-killed him. I staked - him." Willow's hands went up to her mouth, 'O' of shock and grief, and he grabbed her and hugged her, feeling her thin arms come around his ribs, feeling dampness on his chest through his shirt, from her tears.

"Oh, that is - that is very unfortunate, Xander, but you must remember -"

"- that that wasn't Jesse, it was the thing that killed him. I know. You keep saying that, Mr. Giles, but it... But I think you're wrong!"

"But he was a vampire, Xander!" Buffy snapped. She was irritated - on edge - because Angel was there. Lurking in the shadows of the library and making Buffy's exciting new Slayer senses go right off the scale. Like fingernails on a blackboard, Buffy said.

"I know he was a vampire! But - but he could have been good - he could have - he could have been like Angel!" Angel finally stepped forward, frowning, and Xander drew away. He didn't like Angel. He wasn't sure why - he just didn't. Too much lurking, too many cryptic remarks. And he'd been too scared to come and help them find Jesse. Xander, who'd been hyperventilating from the fear - shaking and sweating and his gut cramping from sheer terror - couldn't forgive him that.

"Xander, there's no way -"

"Look!" Xander got right up in Angels face and wanted to grin when the bigger man flinched a little, frowning. "You got a soul and you're all - helping us, Jesse could have -"

"Xander - my soul was a curse! Some - gypsy sorceress put it back into me - it's not something you can just do!" Angel looked astonished and uneasy, and Xander just wanted to deck him.

"But he was listening to me! He was -"

"No, Xander!" Mr. Giles pulled him around by the arm - shook him a little, his face strained and angry and white. "He wasn't listening - he was trying to trick you! Vampire's are soulless, evil -"

"That's not right, Giles! They do have souls!" Everyone stared in shock, and Xander listened to the echo of his shout die away, but he didn't care. He pulled his arm slowly out of Mr. Giles' grasp and took a step back. When he spoke again, he could feel his chest hitching with coming tears, and his hand was stinging, stinging, stinging where the stake had cut him and the dust had gotten ground in. Fucking dust, all that's left of my best friend is DUST and it's in me and all over me. God, GOD! "You stood right here, Giles, and you told us - you told us that the last demon here mixed his blood with a human's blood, and the human had the demon's soul in it then! He had a soul, just not a soul like ours and we could have fixed it!" He was yelling again, and Angel was looking shocked and Giles furious, but what actually stopped him from screaming was Willow, who was crying with her head down on the library table.

"C'mon, Willow. I'm - I'm sorry. Let's go home, okay?"

At his house, Xander stood in the doorway to the living room, watching his parents. His mom was slumped over on the couch, her flowered robe open to mid-thigh, her mouth open, too. His dad was in his recliner, a beer-bottle half-slipping from his fingers, a sliver of pallid belly showing between stained t-shirt and baggy boxers.

"I killed Jesse tonight," he said, watching them in the weird, flickering blue of the static of an off-the-air station. "I killed him and he turned to dust and I breathed it. It went in my eyes and in m-my - my hand." Xander watched, and his father twitched - grunted - snored into heavier sleep. "Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say." Xander went upstairs and bundled his clothes into the trash - got into the shower and scrubbed at himself, over and over, until the water was running cold and he was crying again. But he could still taste the dust on his lips - could still feel it on his skin, and in his eyes. He felt like the stake had gone into his heart, too - splintered and drove in deep and pinned it, dead and unbeating, to his spine. And it hurt, oh god, it hurt.

"Wanna have a bite? Before we go and kill the Slayer?" Xander tried to wrench free of Angel's grasp, twisting, but Angel's cold hands held him a little tighter, pinching his neck and cutting off his air.

"He stinks of the Slayer - he's in her little cheering squad, you know." The other vampire - Spike - stood there, a pole in his hand. Idly turning it, twirling it. White, white hair and snow-white skin - black eyebrows and a scar and Xander couldn't help staring at him. Couldn't help wondering - as he always wondered now - how much of the human that came before was in there.

"I know - that'll make it that much better, don't you think?" Angel yanked Xander's shirt down a little further and Xander scrabbled at him, gagging for air.

"Fuckin' liar," he grated out, and Spike laughed.

"He's got some spine, anyway," Spike said, and Angel laughed too. And then Spike was leaping forward, the pole coming up and driving straight at Angel - straight into his chest. Angel gave a high, shocked bark of pain and flew backwards, his hands coming loose so that Xander went down hard on one knee, gasping.

"C'mon, people, this is not a spectator sport!" Spike yelled, and other vampires came streaming up the hall, heading straight for Angel who scrambled clumsily up and ran.

"You fuck -!" Xander screamed after him, and then was kicking and punching madly as another pair of strong, cold hands grabbed him.

"Settle down now, luv, settle down," Spike said, striding off down the hallway and dragging Xander effortlessly along in his wake. His long leather coat snapped and flared around him, licking over Xander's shins. "Got some questions need answering and I think you know the answers." Xander flailed but Spike was as strong as Angel and took almost no notice. The vampire dragged him down the hall and right out of the school, and Xander - bent almost in half, his neck aching from the vise-like grip pinching it - gaped in surprise. A low, black car - old and massive and somehow sinister-looking - crouched by the curb. "'Sides, Dru wanted to meet the boy her Daddy picked out, an' that'd be you."

Dru? Daddy? What the fuck... "You're - you're just gonna - abandon them? You're not gonna kill Buffy?" What in hell am I saying?

"Buffy?" Spike yanked him upright and Xander yelped, grabbing at one leather-clad arm, trying to ease Spike's grip. "You mean - the Slayer's name is Buffy?"

"Ow! Yeah. So? What kind of a name is Spike?"

"A name I earned." Spike looked him up and down - leaned over and yanked at the handle on the trunk of the car, lifting it. "Come along, ducks, in you go."

"No fuckin' way -" Xander said, but then Spike hit him and the yawning blackness inside the trunk swallowed him up.

Xander woke up in pain. Neck throbbing, wrists on fire, the left side of his face stiff and stinging. Someone was hovering over him - someone dark - and he squinted, licking dry lips.

"Little cuckoo's awake, now - little cuckoo's aaall better," someone purred, cool fingers stroking his forehead and he twitched away - blinked furiously. The face above him slowly swam into focus. A woman - pale and perfect and catlike, her long dark hair loose around her face. She was smiling at him, soft smile, and there was white lace at her throat and wrists. Xander felt himself smiling back. "Oh! Spike, look - he smiled at me! They don't ever smile at me!"

Spike? Spike! Oh, fuck, I'm still - she must be - Xander tried to sit up but his wrists were tied painfully tight, somewhere above his head and he couldn't move. The - room? - was dimly lit, and he couldn't see the other vampire anywhere.

"Is that so, poodle? Show's he's got good taste. You'd make anyone in their right mind smile." The woman preened and Spike was there behind her - black coat taken off, revealing a red, silky-looking shirt open over a black t-shirt. He looked - rumpled - and Xander realized that his white hair was un-gelled and sticking up in spikey tufts. As he watched, the woman ran her fingers through it, smiling.

"My Dru's the prettiest thing there is, don't you think, boy?" Spike asked, and Xander clamped his jaw shut, knowing that whatever came out would probably be either a futile plea for mercy or an ill-considered threat. Silence would be better.

"Make him talk, Spike. I want to hear him say my name." The dark-haired woman - Dru - pouted, and Spike slipped his arm around her - reached down and put his hand - cold hand - flat on Xander's chest, and Xander realized his shirt was gone. For a moment nothing happened and then Spike dug his fingernails in - five lances of white-hot pain - and Xander gasped, trying to curl away.

"Say 'how d'you do, Drusilla?'," Spike instructed softly, and Xander wheezed in a breath.

"H-how d'you do, D-d-drusilla?"

"Dru-sill-a, silly, not D-d-d like a motor-boat." But she laughed, and Spike eased off, letting his hand slip up and cup Xander's sore jaw.

"Good boy, then. Now that you're talking, I've got some questions. Princess, I brought you a lovely treat, why'nt you go up and have it?" Spike purred, and Dru clapped her hands, bouncing a little on the balls of her feet.

"Oh! You always bring me the nicest treats, Spike." She leaned in and kissed him - a long, sensuous kiss, and then danced away, up a flight of stairs. Halfway up she stopped and turned around. "Now Spike - this is very much the cuckoo's egg in the nest. You must be very careful, and tend it just so, and then you'll get a lovely surprise."

"That so, Dru? I'll be careful then, and not crack the shell." Xander watched her go - realized he was lying on a canopy bed, and his arms were tied to the head-rail. His feet were cold, and he wiggled bare toes, wondering where his sneakers were.

Just got those, damnit, won't be getting any MORE... Spike watched Drusilla go, a fond smile on his face. The same look that Willow had turned on Xander, countless times, and that Buffy's mother used. A familiar expression. Even through his fear, Xander noticed it.

"Now then," Spike said, and he sat down and swung his feet up onto the bed - barefoot too, Xander noticed - and stretched out beside Xander, pressing his body close all along their lengths. Xander was mortified to feel an erection being pressed solidly into his hip. "Just keep talking, and you'll be fine, luv." Spike smiled at him, lazy smile, and reached out to stroke his chest, making Xander gasp a little when he touched the bloody crescents his nails had left.

"What - what do -?"

"Shhh, shh. Haven't asked a question yet, have I?" Spike reached behind him to a side-table and grabbed a cigarette that had spilled from its pack. He brought it to his lips, and then dug into a pocket for a lighter, grinding against Xander. He lit up, grinning, and blew smoke straight up. Xander couldn't help but look at the long line of the vampire's white throat - at the silvery scar that showed when his shirt fell back, just where shoulder met neck.

"Now, what I want to know is...what exactly were you doin' with Peaches?"

"P-peaches?" Fruit? What? Is this some secret vampire code? What the hell is he talking about?

"Yes, yes - Peaches. The great souled pouf. Angelus," Spike said, exasperated, blowing a lungful of smoke in Xander's face.

Xander coughed, and the pain in his neck flared. "Oh! Ow. Angel. He - he goes by Angel. He - you know about his soul?"

"Course I know about his soul. Was there when he got it, wasn't I? And then the great dolt went lumbering off into the night, never to be seen again. Well, not for a while," Spike added and tapped ashes over the side of the bed. "So - what's he doin' with you lot?"

"Well, he - he said he was here to help Buffy. To - make up for stuff he did before he g-got his soul back." Xander tried to subtly squirm away from Spike and his hard stomach and harder penis but Spike grinned and lifted his leg- threw it over Xander's thighs, pinning him close and driving his hips forward a little more; back and forth rocking, his thigh rubbing over Xander's groin, and Xander gave a mental groan.

Fuck! I'm sixteen - don't do that!! he thought frantically, and Spike seemed to hear him and just pressed a little harder, his eyes going half-shut.

"Now, now, luv. I know it feels good, so just relax. So Angelus is now one of the good guys. Figures." Spike smoked for a moment, his hips just moving, lazy grind, and Xander shut his eyes and tried to will his own growing erection away. "So you know the Slayer. That's odd, don't you think? They're usually the Lone Ranger types."

"When you're best friend gets killed, you kind of wanna help," Xander blurted out, and Spike raised the scarred eyebrow at him, smirking a little.

"Oh, that it? Huh. Got more balls than most, then." Spike took a long drag off his cigarette and flicked the butt away, into the wall. Then he sat up and straddled Xander's hips, running his hands up Xander's ribs to his wrists. His hands were cool and very smooth, his nails painted a lightless black. Xander couldn't stop the small noise of pain that he made when Spike rubbed over the coarse rope wrapped around his wrists. "Hurt, pet?" Spike murmured, and Xander tried to buck him off.

"You know it does, you bastard," he snapped, and Spike laughed softly.

"Yeah. Want me to unite you?" Xander froze, looking up at the pale, pale face that seemed to shimmer above him in the gloom. "Course you want me to. 'Cause it hurts. And I will. If you promise me something, luv."

"Wh-what?" Xander breathed, and Spike smiled, rolling his hips in a slow, obscene grind. He leaned down, inches from Xander's face, and Xander could smell smoke and alcohol and something that was sweet - perfume, maybe, from Drusilla. But also - iron, earth. So like Jesse - exactly like Jesse, and he felt tears hot and unexpected in his eyes. "Promise what?"

"Promise me you'll be nice." Spike purred, and he dipped down lower, and his cool, soft lips just brushed Xander's cheek, smearing the tear-drop there into a cold line. "Mmmm," he hummed, and Xander gasped sharply, his fingers clutching uselessly at the air.

"Promise, I p-promise."

"That's a good boy, then." Spike sat up slowly - reached into his back jeans pocket and pulled out a straight-razor. He grinned at Xander, and then leaned up over him, his crotch inches from Xander's face. Xander turned his head to the side, and heard a low chuckle. Then his arms were falling down, limp and heavy onto the mattress, fire raging through them as the blood rushed to fill starved veins. Spike settled back to his former position and reached up - dragged one of Xander's arms down and started rubbing it.

"But a shame if you lost the use of this, yeah?" he said, and Xander just stared up at him.

"Why - what do you care? Why are you - are you going to kill me? Is this some game? I mean - is that what you do? Angel said -"

"Angel said? What could that ignorant bugger possibly have to say to you about me?"

"Angel said you were - a bad-ass. That you killed everything in your path to get what you w-want." Spike looked down at him, looking surprised, still briskly rubbing Xander's arm.

"That what he said? Well - it's true, most of the time. But sometimes you need to use a bit of subtlety. The Irish aren't known for their subtlety." Spike dropped Xander's right hand and hauled his left across his chest, starting to massage it, and Xander experimentally flexed his hand. It still hurt, and his fingers felt like sausages, but they moved. Moved right into Spike, and brushed against the inside of his knee.

"Getting a little fresh there, luv," Spike said, grinning again, and Xander felt a deep, hot blush suffuse his entire body. "Oh, it's all right, I like it." Spike shifted his leg a little closer, crowding Xander's hand into his own hip. "In fact - you just keep it up, yeah?" Xander stared at him, and Spike stared back - squeezed his hand suddenly, crushing grip, and Xander yelped. "Be good, boy, yeah?"

"Y-yeah," Xander gasped, and moved his hand - found the seam of Spike's jeans and rubbed along it, up and back, as far as he could. Knee to mid-thigh, over and over, and Spike took Xander's other hand and put it on his other leg.

"You are good. Well, but Dru said, and she's usually right." Spike shrugged the red shirt off and tossed it aside - pulled off the black t-shirt and then looked down at Xander. Xander stared back, taking in the gleaming expanse of flesh and hard muscle. Perfect skin, no marks on it except for the pale coins of his nipples.

Jesse would look like that. Perfect like that. "Spike...Giles said that - that there's nothing in there - in you. He said the demon kills the human and the soul - leaves and there's just the demon inside."

"Giles? Who's he, now?" Spike let his fingertips move slowly, slowly up Xander's arms to his shoulders and then stroke gently at the tops, where neck and shoulder met. Xander shivered and let his fingers dig into Spike's thighs a little.

"He's her Watcher. He... Is it true? Is there any of the...of you? From before?"

"Well now, that's an interesting question," Spike said, looking down at him with his head tilted a little to one side. "A very interesting question, little cuckoo. Why do you ask?"

"Will you tell me if I say?" Xander asked, and he bit down hard on a scream as Spike's face morphed into its vampiric aspect and he bent down low again, his fingers digging sharply into the sides of Xander's neck.

"Say anyway," Spike hissed, and Xander nodded frantically.

"B-because my best friend got - got turned into a - into a vampire and... And he was talking to me and - and I know he was listening! I know he - he would have helped me."

"You know?"

"We grew up together." Xander took a deep breath but his voice still came out cracked and soft - too close to tears. "He - we loved each other. He would have helped. But - he was - I had a stake and he was really close and somebody p-pushed him and he - he died." Xander closed his eyes and bit his lip so hard that he felt it split, and blood well up. But he was not going to cry in front of Spike. He wouldn't. Not again.

"Maybe he would have at that, luv," Spike whispered, and Xander felt the smoky breath on his cheek - felt Spike's mouth - wet and cool and delicate - moving over his face - over his lips. Lapping like a cat at the blood there, and Xander didn't care; he let his mouth fall open a little and let Spike just do it - rubbed his palms slowly up and down Spike's thighs until Spike pulled back. He was human again, and his eyes were dark and darkly gleaming in the low lamp-light and Xander felt a rush of blood to his face - to his groin.

"Is there anything of the old you in there? Is there?" Xander whispered, and Spike reached down between them - quickly and neatly opened Xander's button and zipper. His hand caressed inside and then he was scooting down the bed and tugging as Xander's cargo pants and underwear, pulling them to his knees - pulling them off. He shed his own jeans in moments and Xander stared at the lean, arched body that prowled like a cat back up the bed towards him. White, white cat - snow leopard - with those burning blue eyes and slash of blood-red for a mouth. Mouth that curled in a sweet smile as Spike dipped his head down and made one, slow lick up the underside of Xander's cock. Mouth that whispered to him:

"Sing we for love and idleness,
Naught else is worth the having.

Though I have been in many a land,
There is naught else in living.

And I would rather have my sweet,
Though rose-leaves die of grieving,

Than do high deeds in Hungary
To pass all men's believing.

"Now there's a bit of the old me, luv," Spike said, as he settled his hips onto Xander's again - as he leaned back on his heels and put Xander's hands onto his thighs, high up. "There's what came before, and if some of that me wasn't in here, why, then the demon would have had your blood in its belly and your bones for bread hours ago." Xander slid his palms up and down over Spike's thighs - let his fingers flutter over the arch of hipbone and the tender skin where torso met groin. Spike's cock was palely flushed, gleaming with moisture at the tip and Xander watched as Spike's hand reached down and languidly stroked, once and then twice. And then the long fingers gathered them together and Xander's mouth went wide - his back arching - at the sensation of cool flesh against hot, and friction all along his length. Spike stroked them both; slow, slow caress, smearing the moisture from his cock and Xander's together, his other hand roving here and there over Xander's body. Cool fingers slipping between Xander's teeth and Xander tasted their mingled flavors - salt and smoke and savory and sour. He didn't question it - didn't even think about it. His head was spinning and Spike was like a creature out of some fantasy, his too-white skin and eyes of blue flame - his low, purring voice that lulled and soothed and seemed to make every thought simply disappear. Magic...vampire's must have magic...god, I want, I want...shouldn't want but I do, I do...

"Or I could be lying, luv. I could be telling you just what you want to hear...pretty little cuckoo..." Spike's hand sped, twisted, pulled, and Xander bucked under him, his breath sizzling through his teeth as he came over Spike's hand - over his cock. Spike's eyes were gleaming - vulpine and eerie in his fallen-angel's face and then he came too, grumbling moan deep in his chest.

"How do I know what the truth is?" Xander asked when he could talk, and Spike looked up at him, his fingers drawing idle patterns through the cooling fluid on Xander's belly.

"Only one way to really know, luv," Spike murmured, sharp-edged grin, and Xander shuddered.

"I don't - don't think I want to know...from that side," Xander whispered, and Spike laughed. The vampire swung up and off - picked up a discarded shirt - too big to be his own, and bloodstained besides - and wiped cursorily at his hands and genitals.

"Don't know what you're missing," he said. He picked up his clothes, dressing quickly, and then lit a cigarette and watched as Xander levered himself upright and off the bed. He was stiff, sore, and exhausted, and when he stood up everything went black for a moment. His vision cleared slowly and he found himself on the edge of the bed with Spike holding his head down.

"I'm okay! I'm - okay," he gasped, squirming away, and Spike shrugged.

"Guess I clocked you kinda hard," Spike said, nothing like apology in his voice.

"You and Angel both. Fuck." Xander rubbed his neck - picked up the same shirt Spike had used and wiped himself sketchily clean and then dressed as well. His shirt was nowhere to be seen, so he dug around in a pile of discarded clothes near the wall. A lot of the shirts were torn, and a lot had blood on them, and he realized after a moment that these were the discards of dead people, and he backed off. Spike was watching him, a sardonic expression on his face.

"I suppose you think I'm just going to let you go?" he said and Xander felt his heart slam into a panicked stutter, the blood draining out of his face. Spike laughed. "Oh, calm down. Dru said not to hurt you, so I won't. For now. Let's go."

"Won't? Why - I mean...I need my shoes." Xander tried to be calm but he really wasn't sure if Spike was telling him the truth and if he had his shoes on at least he could try and make a run for it.

"Oh, in the corner somewhere. Let's go." Spike went over to a tall dresser and chair that were in one corner and picked his coat up off the chair - swung it on. He picked up something from the dresser and slipped it into a pocket and Xander scrambled to find his shoes in a tumble of more clothes, broken dolls, and what looked like half of a motorcycle. He found them at last and shoved his feet in - yanked the laces tight. Spike was waiting by the stairs, tapping his fingers impatiently on the railing and Xander trotted over - followed him up and out. The part of the building they walked through seemed deserted, although Xander could hear sounds from the gloom - sounds that made him shiver and walk faster.

"Don't suppose you'll keep this place a secret," Spike said, looking at him as if the thought had just occurred to him and Xander opened his mouth and then closed it, thinking. Would he tell? Or not?

"Why - are you in town? Why now?" Xander asked, and Spike looked surprised and then frowned.

"Got business with Angelus, me and Dru... Why do you care?"

"Just - leave my friends alone, okay? I won't tell anybody where you are. I don't care what you do with Angel. The fucking jerk."

"He just makes friends where ever he goes," Spike said, looking amused now instead of pissed off. "Right, then. Don't need any complications, anyway, although I would like my hat-trick..." Xander just stared at him, puzzled, and Spike reached over and ran his fingers through Xander's hair, tugging a little. "Never you mind, cuckoo. Let's fly then, shall we?"

The front seat of the car wasn't much better than the trunk actually, because Spike drove like someone - heh - possessed and at least unconscious in the trunk Xander hadn't noticed the awful driving. He was, in fact, so grateful to be out of the car that he didn't realize he hadn't actually told Spike where he lived until the black monstrosity had roared away into the night.

"Xander!" A red-haired missile plowed into him and Xander almost fell back down the steps in front of the school. Willow clung to him, babbling into his chest and Xander winced. The cuts Spike's nails had made were sore as hell. Xander gently took Willow's shoulders in his hands and eased her back.

"Hey! Willow! It's okay - I'm okay - are you okay? I'm okay!" Willow snuffled and wiped at her nose with a crumpled Kleenex - looked up at Xander with a scowl.

"Why didn't you call? Why didn't you - come back! What happened!" Willow's voice was getting higher and louder and Xander grabbed her arm and steered her over to a bench.

"Listen - Angel grabbed me last night and tried to use me for - for bait or something! And that other vamp - that Spike - he grabbed me. But - after awhile I got away." Willow stared at him.

"He did? You did? Oh my god! Are you okay? Did he bite you? What was Angel thinking?" Willow yanked at the collar of his shirt and Xander grabbed her hand - patted it softly.

"Iím not bit. He got - distracted. I'm okay. I don't really know that Angel does think. What happened with you guys?"

"Well, Buffy Slayed most of the vampires after Spike - ran off, or whatever. Talk about easily distracted. Do you think vampires get ADHD? 'Cause if they do I bet Spike is. And I was stuck in the janitor's closet with Cordelia for half the night and my god, does she never shut up?" Willow made an exasperated face and blew upwards, blowing a stray hair out of her eyes. "And - Buffy and her mom made up 'cause Buffy saved everybody and Mrs. Summers told off Principal Snyder. Oh, and Giles said that St. Vigeous was ruined, so I guess that's one for us." Willow blew her nose on a fresh Kleenex and wiped her eyes - hitched her book bag up higher on her shoulder.

"We're gonna be late. Next time - call. I was worried sick about you."

"Yeah, I know, I'm sorry." Xander ducked his head - did the little internal shift he had to do, to lie to Willow. "I got home late know... Dad was kinda pissed," he said, inwardly cringing. That was the worst sort of lie, because it was something that he knew hurt Willow to hear. But he couldn't - he just couldn't - tell her what happened.

"Oh - Xander..." Willow's face went set and furious, even though her lower lip was trembling, and Xander shrugged and looked down - glanced up and tried a small smile.

"I'm okay. He was just - you know...yelling. I promise next time I'll call, okay?"

"Okay. Yeah. He's just - yeah. Okay." Willow held the Kleenex hard to her nose for a minute and then nodded once, sharply. Resolve-face, and Xander knew it was over.

"C'mon - let's hurry. Giles will give us a note." They both stood up and trotted to the library, and Xander couldn't help but feel guilty. But mostly, he just felt relieved.



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