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In Harm's Way by dawnofme
22. Breaking Xander
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A huge thanks to Mabel_Marsters, who went over this chapter twice for me and to Slaymesoftly who really has a talent for explaining grammar rules and for pushing me to make it better.

In Harm's Way

Chapter Twenty-Two: Breaking Xander

Buffy felt self-conscious with Willow sitting on the bed in the dorm room, watching her put things away. Earlier in the morning, her mom had urged her to stay at the house but she needed to get back to her normal routine, although she didn't like all the packing and unpacking of stuff. Buffy wished she'd taken Willow up on the offer of help, but she hadn't wanted her best friend to treat her like an invalid.

“I still don't get why Spike was following us last night,” Willow said. “I mean, he had to know that we'd notice.”

With her back to Willow, Buffy shrugged and hung up another sweater. The first one to notice Spike driving slowly behind them had been Xander, right after they had left the Bronze to walk home. Buffy asked them all to ignore Spike, but he stayed with them as Willow and Buffy waved goodbye to Xander and Anya. Then Buffy had walked Willow to the dorms. Only then had Spike called out to her.

“Why does Spike do any of the things he does?” Buffy said softly.

“Good point.”

Buffy flopped onto her bed and stared at Willow. She had planned to tell her friend that Spike had basically declared his love for her. She'd meant to do it last night, but the Bronze was loud and Xander and Anya barely left their side.

She sighed and said, “I know why he was following us.” Buffy sat up and swung her legs back and forth, hitting the frame of the bed. “The other day, he told me...he said...um—Spike thinks he's in love with me.”

“Wait. Spike says he thinks he's in love with you?”

Buffy groaned. “No. He is sure that he is, but I think he's just gone crazy. There's no way that he could love me or anyone else.”

“I don't know, Buffy, he seemed very much in love with Drusilla.”

“Anyways, that’s why Spike followed us.” She got up and busied herself with organizing her desk. Willow made sense, but Buffy was just too scared to let herself believe it.

“Did you ask him why he was following you?” Willow asked.

“No. After he called me over to his car and offered to drive me home, he didn't say a word to me, but I know he's stalking me. I mean, he didn't even come in the house last night. He just smoked cigarette after cigarette under the tree by my bedroom window. Which totally weirds me out, you know.”

Willow braved a smile. “Actually, I think it's kind of sweet.”

Standing up, Buffy pointed a finger at Willow. “Yeah, you think it's sweet now, but just wait until he starts killing off our pets and leaving dead people in his wake. It won't be so sweet then.”

The smile left Willow's face and she quietly said, “Spike is nothing like Angel.”

“Come on,” Buffy said, grabbing her book bag, “We'll be late, if we don't hurry.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Spike didn't know why he felt nervous as he knocked on Giles' door. It wasn't like he was Buffy's father or anything; he was just her poor excuse for a watcher. But Buffy cared about the man and what he thought; if she'd listen to anyone, it would be him.

Giles called out, saying the door was open. Spike tried the handle and sure enough, it was unlocked.

“You really should keep your door locked, Rupert. This is a hellmouth, you know.” It amused Spike to watch Giles' attempt to get out of his chair. “Sit down, old man. What were you going to do, swing your cast covered leg at me and hope to knock me out?”

“Do shut up,” Giles said as he sank back into his chair.

Spike grunted a reply and headed straight for the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

“Scotch, please.”

Spike reached for a glass, found the Scotch tucked away in its “hiding place”, and opened the bottle.

Giles said, “Bring the whole bottle.”

After he handed Giles the glass and bottle, Spike sat down on the couch, not waiting for an invitation as he knew none would be forthcoming.

The watcher eyed him warily and said, “I have never known you to not steal my alcohol. Where is your glass?”

“Had my fill of drinking last night, thank you,” Spike said with a tiny smile curving his lips. He'd had a right good time last night, but now he needed to get serious. He cleared his throat. “So, I'm here to talk about the Slayer.”

Giles swallowed the Scotch he'd just sipped and put the glass down. “I'm not going to discuss Buffy with you.”

“Okay. Fair enough. Just tell me that you plan to keep Buffy away from the cemeteries and off patrol duty until she's fully recovered, and I'll get out of your way and leave you to whatever boring activities watchers do all day.”

“Now why would I tell you that?” Giles’ eyes shifted to his empty glass on the end table. “So you can know her schedule and find just the right time to kill her?”

“What?” Spike asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his legs. “Didn't the Slayer tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

Spike leaned back and watched Giles carefully. “I don't want her dead. I'm in love with her.”

There was just a hint of surprise in Giles' expression, but he busied himself by pouring himself another glass.

“Well...what I mean to say is--no, she didn't tell me.” Then he took a sip, watching Spike over his glass. “That would explain why you've been...er...acting against your nature.”

Spike got up and went behind the couch, leaning against it. He had expected protests, threats or even the 'vampires can't love' spiel, but Giles sat quietly, sipping his Scotch. Letting out a sigh, Spike remembered his reason for calling on the watcher in the first place and said, “Last night, I heard a bunch of demons talking down at Willy's Place. They were all excited that The Initiative had left town and that the Slayer was out of commission. They're all gunning for her, because they know that she's just had surgery and not at the top of her game. If you care about her at all, you'll tell her to take a few more nights off.”

Giles took a moment to watch Spike then said, “Buffy assures me that she's fully recovered. While I appreciate your concern, I have already anticipated such a reaction from the demons, we have a plan in place, and she has every intention of patrolling tonight. I have complete confidence in her.”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Clem arrived just after dark, pulling up in his little red Volkswagen Bug which was stuffed to the roof with his belongings and groceries. When Clem asked if the stuff he’d bought was good enough, Spike had shrugged and said it was fine. He wasn't going to eat any of it, so it didn't matter to him. As an afterthought, he asked Clem to remember to get Oreo cookies the next time he went out. Anabella loved those.

The little girl had come running down the sidewalk when she saw his car pull up and handed him the keys to the house as her grandmother watched from the porch of their home. She'd asked if he had any Oreos then.

Spike locked the door to his new residence behind him, leaving Clem humming in the kitchen as he stocked the refrigerator. It was a nice long walk to UC Sunnydale where he planned to wait for Buffy to start her patrol. He arrived just in time to watch her leave the dorms, walk briskly off campus and straight to Giles' house. He smoked two cigarettes and had time to carve Buffy's name into the tree he was standing by, before Buffy came out, followed by Xander who carried a large black weapons bag.

“That's back up?” Spike grumbled under his breath.

Trying not to set off the Slayer's radar-like senses for vampires, he followed at a distance and kept to the shadows. Unfortunately, this also prevented him from hearing their conversation. Every so often, their laughter reached his sensitive ears and Spike felt the need to go snap a certain overgrown boy's neck.

When Anya ran up and joined the party, Spike rolled his eyes. It was bad enough that Buffy would have to watch out for herself and Xander, but now she had to watch out for an ex-demon with no powers as well?

As they entered the first cemetery, Xander handed Anya a stake. They shuffled close behind Buffy, and Spike wondered how she could focus at all with the noise they were making. To her credit, she shushed them once and sighed heavily when it did no good. Spike wasn't surprised when they left the graveyard without any conflict. Any demons would have been warned of their presence long before they could be seen, and because it was an older cemetery, it was unlikely that fledges would be springing up out of the ground.

By the time they got to the next cemetery, the smoky orange moon was covered by thick black clouds. The dim glow of energy saving lights did little to illuminate the rows upon rows of headstones. A slight breeze had picked up and Spike was mesmerized by Buffy's beautiful hair blowing in the wind. He was so preoccupied with thoughts of running his fingers through it that he didn't see the two vampires take off, running away from the little group, until they were almost past the gates and down the street. The others were so engrossed in conversation that they missed them as well. He thought about going after them, but decided it was best to stay close to Buffy.

The fledgling that the vampires had been waiting for made an appearance and Spike sat this one out. He knew Buffy could take care of it with one hand tied behind her back and hopping on her one good leg. Sure enough, she didn't even wait for it to clear the ground before she plunged the stake with precision, getting a clean kill.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

It was almost midnight when her little posse finally made their way to Oak Hills. Being the newest cemetery, it was larger and more spread out than the others, giving Buffy the most trouble. The majority of burials in Sunnydale now happened here, so she always saved this one for last. Tonight, there was an air of eerie calm about the place.

They paused near the middle in a cluster of marble tombstones where Buffy could have a fairly good view. Anya sat on one, swinging her legs cheerfully as she continued talking, seemly unaffected by the atmosphere now that they'd been out a while. Buffy tuned her out and surveyed the situation. To her left was a loose grouping of five crypts that she tried to keep her eye on. Any number of demons could be hiding in that section, though her senses weren't picking anything up. To the right was the more empty section, waiting for the years to pass before it would take bodies into its dirt, but three large trees grew there and that's where he was.

Buffy had no idea how long he had been following, and she hadn't been sure that he'd entered the cemetery with them. Except for his bright hair, he was hard to spot, but he had made the mistake of moving while she was looking in his direction.

Anya said, “So, I told him that we could afford it. I mean, I'm working, too and we couldn't pass that apartment up. Could we Xander?”

“Well...let's just hope it doesn't rain anytime soon and that I can keep up with the overtime,” Xander said.

Buffy's senses told her that there were demons nearby and that they were coming closer. She was on full alert, scanning the area now.

Anya said, “Hey, I've got an idea. We could have a housewarming and get lots of gifts.”

Xander sighed. “It's an apartment, not a—oh my God!”

Buffy just assumed that he'd seen the large group of demons coming into view from behind the crypts. Her mind reeled with what to do next. There were at least six large and diverse demons plus three angry looking vampires.

“He's going to do it. Spike is finally going to kill us!” Xander screeched.

In utter disbelief, Buffy scowled at Xander and saw Spike running towards them at full speed. Even in her panic over how she was going to keep her friends safe, she felt acute disappointment that Spike had done this to her. But then, she saw the stake in his hand as he ran right by them and she felt stupid for thinking he would do that to her.

“Get the swords,” she told Xander before going after Spike.

She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen so many different demons together, outside of a bar. Spike's leather coat billowed out behind him as he reached the group that was now fanned out. Being careful not to expose her midsection, Buffy jumped right into the fray with Spike.

She'd never seen him so fierce, ever. Usually, he swaggered as he fought, delivering as many insults as punches. Tonight, the only sounds he made were guttural and feral growls as he ripped and tore the demons to shreds. It was very distracting, but Buffy pulled herself together and dusted two of the vamps in quick order.

“Buffy!” Xander called out in a panic.

She turned to see him being tossed through the air; he landed with a whoosh on the soft grass.

“Buffy! Spike!” Anya shrieked in anger and tossed her a sword, then flung the second one to Spike.

The demons were without large weapons and one by one they were disposed of until Buffy was left facing the last one. “Is that fringe on the edges of his face?” she asked Spike.

“Yeah, love. “e's got the ugly grey dangly stuff all over his body. It's enough to make you glad you’re human, innit?”

“I'll say,” Xander piped in from behind them.

While backing away from the snickering group, the demon said, “I thought you just got out of the hospital?”

“Yep. I'm feeling very well. Thanks for asking.”

Buffy raised her sword, but Spike reached out and grabbed the handle of it.

“Not this one,” Spike said. In a flash of speed he grabbed the demon by the throat. “This one's going to go back and tell his mates how not weak the Slayer is and how incredibly strong the traitor Spike is. Who just happens to be on the Slayer's side.”

The demon fell to the grass with Spike's shove and scrambled to get up and away. In her anger, Buffy let him go and turned to Spike, who was glancing around like he had no idea what to do with himself now.

“Why the hell did you do that?” she asked, her elation over Spike’s having rushed in to help her dampened by her disappointment at not being able to kill the last demon.

“Word needs to get out that you're stronger than ever and that you have back up. Dead demons tell no tales.”

She threw her hands up. “Dead demons: that's pretty much my job description. I don't let them run off with their tails between their legs.” She paused. “Well, except maybe you, because, you know, you do that so well.”

“Excuse me?” Spike said with indignation. “I save your arse—again—and yet, I still get insulted?”

Buffy couldn't believe where her thoughts were taking her, but he looked so cute when he was affronted. Then she realized what he was implying. With a frown she said, “We didn't need your help. I could have taken them all.”

“Yeah. What with the bumbling duo to back you up. And, what was with that great technique of fighting with hunched shoulders?”

This caused Buffy to pause and think back. Her mind had been on protecting the baby. Had her form been that bad? No. This is what Spike did and she wasn't going to be sucked into his psychological bull. “Just shut up!” she yelled a little too loudly.

“Why is she provoking an unslayable vampire?” Anya asked Xander in a loud whisper as she clung to him.

Buffy glared at Spike while she gathered the swords. “Let's go, guys. I doubt there will be any more action tonight.”

“Hah!” Anya said, tapping Xander on the chest. “There'll be some action. Just not on the battle field, right, tiger?”

Buffy fell behind Anya and Xander, still trying to fit the swords into the weapons bag.

“Did she just call Xander, ‘tiger’?” Spike said with amusement as he came up beside her and steadied the bag for her.

Startled that he was at her side, she jumped a little and forced the involuntary smile off her face. “Go away.”

“Nope. The entire demon population of Sunnydale is gunning for you. I'll see you safely home.”

She stopped and glared at him. Anya and Xander were ahead of them but they stopped and waited patiently as well. “You can't be serious.” When Spike nodded at her, she said, “The demon population is always gunning for me.”

“Maybe so, but they think you’re weak and that’s why they ganged up on you tonight. You need protection and I'm the only one strong enough to give it.” She swung the bag at him and he chuckled when he caught it. “So, I'll carry your bag for you, then?”

“Ah!” Buffy shouted in frustration. He could be so annoying. First he comes in and fights beside her and then he lets one of the demons go. She wanted him far away from her where he couldn't affect her so much.

They argued about Spike’s walking with them all the way to Xander's house. Buffy thought her friends were traitors for walking faster ahead of them, but she was too caught up in her argument with Spike to say anything to them.

“Oh, good, we're here,” Anya said with a bright, fake smile as they entered the backyard where the steps led to the basement door. “Can we go in now? I'm tired of their arguing. They fight like an old married couple.”

“You go in. I'll catch up in a second,” Xander told Anya, patting her on the shoulder. He turned to Spike. “I'm not really getting why you are all with the helpfulness, but thanks—OK,” he suddenly blurted out as he backed down the small set of steps. “It's sorta coming to me, and I'd rather go back to thinking that ring made you lose your vampire marbles.”

Buffy watched Xander shake his head, mumbling incoherent babble that included the words vampires and love, and then he disappeared into his house. She jumped into action when the door slammed, grabbing the weapons bag from Spike. “Look what you did.”

“What I did? I was just standing here.”

“You broke Xander.”

Spike grabbed the bag back. “That one was broken long before I came to town.”

Buffy followed him out of the yard, remaining silent as they walked towards the University. She was feeling just as horrified as Xander had looked once he figured out that Spike had a thing for her. His big eyes, his hands flailing in the air. Spike saying he was already broken. She snickered. There was no point attempting to stop the giggles that followed and the confused look on Spike's face only made it worse.

“What?” Spike asked, smiling at her.

Pausing, she took a deep breath and exhaled. “Nothing.” And then she started all over again. It was so absurd. An evil vampire, in love with a slayer who secretly had the hots for said vampire.

“Well then,” Spike said plainly, “I wish you’d stop, because you have no idea how magnificent you look when you're laughing like that.

She stopped laughing and wiped at her eyes, picking up her pace again.

“I mean,” Spike said, “I'm trying to be good. I really am. But, you make it damn near impossible when you laugh, because all I want to do is grab you and kiss you senseless.”

Oh, God, she wanted him to kiss her. She sobered up and walked faster on the cement sidewalk.

“Don't talk like that.”

She tried to keep walking, but he got in front of her. “You're in my blood, Slayer. I can't stop thinking about you. No matter what I do, I can't get you out of here.” He pointed to his head. “Or here.” He slapped both hands over his heart. “I close my eyes and I see you beneath me, challenging me to take you. I go to sleep and dream of sunrises and light; about making love to you.”

Mesmerized by his eyes, Buffy stood still as he came closer. He looked so sincere that her fingers ached to reach out and touch him the way she had that morning -- without reservations. He didn't touch her, but leaned in and whispered in her ear. “Tell me you don't remember moving together under the sheets as if we were one person.”

His unique scent, his breath on her neck, his way with words. Her surroundings faded away, time seemed to stop, and she trembled with need. She did remember that morning and how much she liked it when he held her.

“It could be like that all the time, you know.” Spike barely brushed his lips on her jaw, close to her ear. “If you'd let me—you don't know how desperate I am to wrap my arms around you and show you how good it could be again.”

Buffy turned her head and captured Spike's lips with her own. They let out identical moans when he finally had her firmly in his arms. Their tongues met and her knees went weak. He moved backwards, pulling her with him until his back touched the lamppost at the street corner. She knew it was wrong, but it felt so right. She moved her mouth over his, matching Spike's desperately hungry passion.

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