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Spike heard the crying first. Harsh, wracking sobs that spoke of pain, sadness, horror, and betrayal. Opening his senses further, Spike took a deep breath and scowled at the scent of blood, familiar blood. He cocked his head, listening to pinpoint the location, then headed towards a crypt not too far from his own.

Easing the door open, he crept cautiously inside. The crypt was pitch black, save for the moonlight filtering in from the open door. Spike shifted to his game face in order to see better and found the object of his search huddled in the far back corner. A low growl started deep in Spike’s chest as he took in the ripped clothing and the now overwhelming scent of sex and blood. He thought he recognized the other scent, but wasn’t positive.

Slowly, but purposefully, Spike made his way to the back of the crypt. He stopped a couple of feet away, crouching down, and said softly, “Xander? You all-” and abruptly scrambled back when Xander clumsily swung the sword he’d been clutching in Spike’s direction, a high-pitched keening sound erupting from an already raw throat.

Spike pressed against the other side of the crypt and stared at Xander. The young man was muttering unintelligibly and gazing about wildly, but not seeing anything. That was partly due to the darkness of his surroundings and partly due to being locked inside whatever waking nightmare he was in. Spike shook his head, “Jesus Christ, what the hell happened to you?” he muttered, more to himself than to Xander.

He had a pretty good idea what had happened, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to accept it. For all the bitching and moaning Spike did, he’d come to like his sometime-roommate and patrol partner. The thought that Xander had been violated this way started a slow burn of rage inside, and that surprised him. Spike had always figured that, since he couldn’t hurt the Slayer’s pups himself, he’d take great satisfaction if someone else accomplished the task. But sitting here, watching one of the strongest men he knew completely shatter, Spike found that was not the case at all.


Spike brought his attention back to the broken man and pitched his voice low, and unthreatening, “Yeah, pet, it’s me. You all right?”


Spike nodded. “Yeah, stupid question, that.” He stood up slowly and looked down at Xander. “Can you walk, mate? ‘S not safe for you to be out here in your condition.”

Xander chuckled mirthlessly. “Been here for awhile, Spike. No nasties about ‘cept you. The one time I actually want to be a demon magnet and no one wants to oblige.”

Spike cocked an eyebrow at that, but didn’t say anything at first. He wasn’t sure just what to say. Of all the things he knew Xander had been through, nothing he’d ever seen this boy go up against had left him wanting to die. After a few more minutes of silence, he said, “My crypt’s just down the way. I’ll get ya cleaned up and then you can tell me who I have to kill.”

Xander looked up at the blur that was Spike. In the darkness he couldn’t make out the vampire’s expression, but the words held no animosity or contempt, just concern…for him. He finally shook his head and slowly, painfully, stood up. “Lead on.”

When they stepped out of the crypt, Spike got his first good look at Xander, and he swore viciously. Split and swollen lip, bruising around his throat in the shape of fingers, blackening eye, the boy was in a bad way and that was just what Spike could see. He could smell the blood, but wasn’t sure he’d be allowed to ascertain the damage. He saw Xander pale even more and shrink back from him and he tried to calm himself. Normally, he’d revel in the fear pouring off the other man, but not now. “Sorry,” he muttered, “but you look like hell, Harris.”

Xander just nodded and started to carefully make his way to Spike’s crypt. “Figured, but that’s what happens when you’re…” his voice trailed off and he shivered violently. The walk back to the crypt was made in silence.

Once inside, Spike said, “Shower’s downstairs. I’ll see if I can hunt up some clothes that’ll fit ya.”

Xander nodded absently as he stared at the ladder leading to the lower level of Spike’s home. He shuffled awkwardly towards the opening, then stopped. The sword he still held fell to the floor with a clatter and his shoulders started shaking with suppressed sobs.

Spike approached him cautiously and laid a gentle hand on Xander’s shoulder. Xander flinched at the touch, but didn’t say anything. Spike asked, “What’s the matter? I mean, besides the obvious.”

“I-I don’t think I can make it down the ladder. H-hurts too much,” he whispered brokenly.

Spike nodded, then asked, “Do you trust me?”

Xander finally met his eyes for the first time since he’d found him. Instead of the immediate denial Spike was expecting, Xander just studied his face as if he were searching for something. He must have found it, because after a few moments of silence, he said, “Yeah, Spike, I trust you.”

“All right then. I’m going to pick you up and we’ll drop down to below. Not gonna try anything, just want to get you patched up.”

Xander hesitated at the thought of anyone touching him right now, but there was no way he’d be able to climb down by himself. He was about to nod his assent, but then asked, “Why are you doing this, Spike?” When the vampire just looked at him, he elaborated, “Why are you being nice and helping me? I thought you hated me.”

“Thought so, too, pet, but that appears to not be the case. You and your merry little band of do-gooders are the closest thing I’ve got to a clan now, and I’ll be damned again if I’m gonna sit idly by when one of you is hurt. You’re hurt, I’m here, and I can help you if you let me. We can try to understand it later, but for now just let me take care of you, yeah?”

Xander nodded his agreement, too tired to speak anymore. He braced himself for feeling another body so close to his so soon after what he’d just been through, but Spike was as gentle as he could be, and he barely even felt it when they landed at the foot of the ladder. Spike set him down and made sure he was steady on his feet before letting go.

Spike gestured towards the back of the cave. “Shower’s back there. Got hot water and everything. Take your time, and yell if you need any help.”

Xander shuffled off and Spike stared after him sadly. He did recognize the other scent that clung to him and was almost blinded by the urge to tear the other person apart. A warning twinge from the chip had him toning down his thoughts of vengeance, but as he made his way towards his trunks, a thought struck him and he changed course to climb back up to the top of his crypt. He snagged the sword Xander had been clutching like a lifeline and studied it. It was familiar and held a copious amount of Xander’s attacker’s blood. A feral smile of satisfaction crossed Spike’s face as he realized that Xander might have already taken care of the person who’d done this.

A cry from below had Spike dropping the sword and jumping to the lower floor. He hurried to the bathroom he’d pieced together and stopped just shy of entering. “Pet? What’s wrong?”

Harsh breaths were all he heard at first, then Xander stuttered out, “B-b-bleeding, Spike. I’m bleeding. Oh God! Make this stop, please make it go away!”

Spike entered the bathroom to find Xander huddled on the shower floor watching rivulets of pink swirl down the drain. From what he could see of Xander’s body, there were bruises around his hips, and he gnashed his teeth in anger. As Spike started to strip out of his shirts, he said softly, “Can’t make it go away, Xan. Wish I could; but I can help you get through this. Will you trust me to take care of you? I’ll have to touch you, but it’ll only be to help.”

Xander looked up with teary eyes and nodded numbly. “Nothing you could do to me could be any worse that what’s already been done. Do what you want.”

Spike’s jaw clenched at the defeated tone, but he briskly gathered what he needed. The ointment he had would help Xander heal physically within an hour, but he had nothing to help him with the emotional pain.

Spike stripped down to his boxers, deciding to leave them on to spare Xander any more terror, and finally entered the shower stall. He angled the showerhead the way he wanted it before lathering up a cloth and then began gently washing Xander’s pliant body. He spoke soothingly to the still-frightened young man, using the same tone he’d used to help Drusilla through her more terrifying spells. When it came time for Spike to apply the ointment, he explained what he had to do and waited with literally bated breath to see if Xander would let him. After a violent bout of shaking, Xander had finally given the go-ahead and Spike applied it as gently, but as quickly, as possible. After he was done, he turned off the water and stepped out. Taking one of the bath sheets, Spike helped Xander up and gently wrapped him in the towel.

“Stay here a minute while I find you a kit.” Xander just nodded, and Spike couldn’t help himself. He laid his hand on Xander’s cheek and brought the other man’s gaze to his. Spike said softly, “You’ll get through this, Xander. You don’t have to be alone.” He stepped back and grabbed another towel on his way out of the bathroom.

Spike dried off quickly and threw on a pair of comfy flannel lounge pants and a t-shirt before searching for clothes for Xander. He found what he was looking for in the second trunk. For some unknown reason he still had some of Angelus’ clothes and had turned up a pair of black silk pajama pants and a dark blue cashmere sweater. The clothing might be a little big, but it would be comfortable and would cover Xander thoroughly. Spike had the feeling that the boy would need as much armor as he could get. When he went back into the bathroom, he found Xander in the same spot he’d left him, clutching the oversized towel around him like a security blanket.

Spike held up the clothes. “Here ya go, mate. These should fit ya all right. You need some help?”

Xander shook his head, but didn’t say anything. Spike sighed and set the clothing on the sink. “Well then, I’ll leave ya to it.” He turned to go and was stopped by a soft voice.

“Thank you.”

Spike just nodded once and left the room. He prowled the lower floor of his crypt for a few minutes before heading to his kitchen area and making some hot chocolate. Xander loved chocolate in any form and Spike thought the drink might do him some good. He’d just topped the mugs with mini marshmallows when Xander shuffled out of the bathroom. Spike took the mugs and moved towards his bed. It was the only place to sit on this level. He handed one to Xander and motioned for him to make himself comfortable.

Xander set the mug on the nightstand and hesitantly crawled onto the bed. He automatically reached to pull the covers up over him, but stopped with a questioning glance at Spike.

Spike smiled slightly. “Go ahead and make yourself comfy. You can stay here tonight, no worries.”

Xander gave him the ghost of a smile and settled into the big bed. Then he grabbed his mug and took a tentative sip, sighing in appreciation as the warmth spread through him. Spike settled at the footboard so he could see his patient and the two enjoyed their hot chocolate in silence.

When they’d set their mugs aside and the silence became oppressive, Spike finally broached the subject. “You feel up to telling me who did this to you, pet?”

Xander started and looked wildly around the room before slumping against the pillows. “I’m sure you already know who did this, Spike. Vamp sense of smell, right?”

Spike nodded. “Yeah, got a pretty good idea who, but I’d like to hear what happened from you.”

Xander sneered. “Can’t physically torture me, so you want to make me relive it again to fuck with my mind? I thought you wanted to help me!”

Spike took the verbal assault in stride and said evenly, “If you don’t talk about it, it’ll eat you up inside and destroy you as surely as the sun would destroy me. I’m not tryin’ to fuck with your mind. I’m tryin’ to help you heal it.”

Xander was about to attack again when he stopped and stared hard at Spike. He finally said, “You’re speaking from experience, aren’t you?”

Spike took a deep breath before answering. “Yeah, I am. If it’ll help you, I’ll share, but I’d really rather not.”

Xander thought about it then shook his head. “I think one horror story is enough for now. Just…did it happen when you were human?”

Spike dropped his eyes before looking back up at him. “Yes, and it took becoming a demon and destroying those responsible to get me over it. I’d like better for you.”

Xander nodded. “Okay then. Um…we went out for drinks and a couple of games of pool. It was nice, you know? Just the two of us, no slaying, no demons, no girls, just two guy friends out for a fun night. I wasn’t drinking alcohol, because, well you know what my parents are like, and I just don’t. We played, talked, and had a good time. I walked back with him to his apartment and he invited me up. We were sitting on the couch, just talking, when he…” Xander stopped and pulled in a deep breath then continued, “He sidled closer and kissed me. I-I was so shocked that I didn’t do anything at first. I hadn’t been kissed by a guy in years and he was the last one I thought…” his voice trailed off again as his initial confusion came back.

Spike raised an eyebrow at that admission, but decided it was a story that could be told later. He had no idea Xander Harris swung both ways, and he wanted to find out more, but now was not the time.

Xander shook himself and started talking again, not realizing that he’d started to shake once more. “He told me he wanted to try something different. I tried to tell him that I didn’t think of him that way, but he wouldn’t listen. I pushed him away and started to leave. He-he grabbed me and pushed me into the wall. Spike, he was so strong. I mean I’m not a weakling anymore, what with working construction and all, but I couldn’t get loose. I think he was still hopped up on whatever drugs they’d given him. He started telling me how I’d been flirting with him all night and wanted to know why I was being coy now, and I swear I wasn’t! He's my best friend’s boyfriend and the thought had never even crossed my mind. I tried to apologize and he hit me.” Xander’s hand drifted up and touched his swollen cheek. Spike sat in rigid silence, letting Xander tell his story at his own pace.

The tears had started again, but Xander didn’t notice. “I tried to fight back, but he started choking me. I couldn’t get free. I-I think I passed out, ‘cause when I came around, he was inside me. It hurt so much. I begged him to stop, but he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t stop! It was like he didn’t even hear me. I guess when I hit the wall, I knocked down the sword. I managed to get a grip on it and, and I stabbed him.” Xander’s voice was no more than a whisper when he said, “God, Spike, I think I killed Riley.”

Spike moved then and took Xander into his arms, letting the younger man cry out his shame and his anger. He rocked him gently and murmured lowly until Xander quieted once more. They sat in silence for a while, until Spike said softly, but firmly, “You did what you had to do to get away. I’m right proud of you, and if the bastard’s dead, all the better. If he’s not, well, we’ll take care of it one way or another. You did good, Xan.”

“H-how will I explain to Buffy?”

“Don’t worry about that now. You just-” Spike broke off at the sound of his crypt door being flung open from above. Xander flinched violently in Spike’s embrace and hid his face in Spike’s chest.

“Spike!” Came a strident voice from above.

“Bugger. You stay here, pet. Curl up and try to relax. I’ll take care of the Slayer.” Spike started to extricate himself from Xander’s hold, but the boy refused to let go.

“Spike, are you here? Have you seen Xander?” Buffy’s voice was getting closer and Xander’s shaking was getting worse.

“Xan, luv, you have to let go of me. I’ll be right back, I promise.” Buffy’s feet could be seen on the ladder and Spike cursed, “Fuck, too late.”

Spike settled himself back on the bed and tried to shield Xander as best he could. Buffy reached the bottom and turned, a question on her lips. She froze at the sight of Spike holding a Xander-shaped lump on his bed.

“Xander?” She asked softly.

“Now’s not the best time, Slayer. Boy’s had a bit of a night.”

Buffy scowled at him. “Riley said Xander attacked him, that he stabbed him, then took off running. I’ve been looking for him for the better part of two hours.”

“I did.” Xander’s voice was muffled against Spike’s side, but Buffy heard him. She approached the bed cautiously, but stopped when Spike growled at her.

“Xander…why would you do something like that? Were you possessed again?” She sounded like she was just trying to understand, and that helped Xander gain the courage to lift his head and look at her. Buffy gasped when she caught sight of his face. “Oh my god, Xander! What happened to you?”



“Riley happened. We went out tonight like we told you we were going to and then we went back to his place. He r-r-” Xander’s voice cracked, but he forced the words out anyway, “Riley raped me. I stabbed him to get away. Spike found me and has been taking care of me.” He started shaking again and Spike absently ran his hand up and down Xander’s back, not saying a word.

Buffy stood there, pale as a ghost, her mouth opening and closing with no sound issuing forth. Then she managed to choke out, “I-I don’t understand. Why, why would he…” her words trailed off and she swayed on her feet.

Spike leaned forward and caught her flailing hand, drawing her closer to the bed. She sank onto the edge and just stared at her best friend and the vampire he was clinging to.

Spike remembered what Xander had told him and said softly, “Xan thinks he may still be on those drugs the Initiative was pumping into him. Said he couldn’t get away from him. Maybe it’s messed with his head.” He studied the girl carefully, then asked, “You do believe Xander, don’t you?” When she didn’t say anything, he growled, “Don’t you?!”

Buffy jumped and focused back on Spike. “Of course I believe him, Spike. What reason would he have to lie, and why on earth would he say he’d been raped if he hadn’t been? I’m just trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was my boyfriend who did it and then lied to my face.” Her voice wavered and tears pooled in her eyes as she hesitantly reached out to touch Xander’s hand. “Xan?” He looked up at her and let her take his hand. “I’m sorry, Xander. I’ll find a way to make this right. He won’t get away with it. Do you want to file charges against him?”

Xander shook his head. “No, it wouldn’t do any good. I’ve already washed away the evidence and Spike had this ointment that he put on me to help me heal. The police wouldn’t be able to find much and it would be my word against his. And the humiliation…he, god I wish he was dead.” Xander buried himself back in Spike’s arms and hid his head.

Buffy stared at him for a moment before taking a deep, calming breath. She looked at Spike and he started to smile at the look in her eyes. She said vehemently, “I think that can be arranged.”