|Through the Looking Glass
Author: Kimberly-A PM
Two years post-Chosen, one year post-NFA, Xander is happily living in San Francisco when he thinks he sees Spike on the street. But Spike died when Angel's gang was destroyed in L.A., right?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Spike & Xander H. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 35,937 - Reviews: 29 - Favs: 41 - Follows: 49 - Updated: 07-12-12 - Published: 11-11-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6468111
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Okay, so I left this fic unfinished for a long time (like 2 years) because I don't like the final chapter, and yet this is what came to me when I was writing, and I haven't been able to bring myself to rewrite it significantly, as I think it requires.
Recently, a couple of people sent me comments asking for the end of the story, and so I decided it would be better (nicer to my readers, anyway) to post a final chapter that doesn't live up to my standards, rather than leave a fic permanently unfinished. And so …
Previously in "Through the Looking Glass": There was teh sex.
It wasn't like they were a couple. They hadn't even had sex more than that once. In the morning, Spike just got out of bed and acted like nothing had happened.
So they didn't hug or hold hands or exchange Eskimo kisses. It just wasn't like that.
But things were still different. They looked at each other a little more often, maybe. Made more eye contact. Smiled a little more, smiled at things other people just didn't get. Maybe didn't lean quite so far away from each other on the couch.
It was like those secret times with Willow in high school, except not.
Still, there was an illicit thrill to having something going on that nobody else knew about.
"So ... you and Spike, huh?" Luba grinned at him.
Xander literally jumped. "What? Spike? No! What?"
Luba just rolled her eyes. "Come on, Xander! You thought I wouldn't notice? Like I don't know you by now?"
Xander didn't know what to say. He'd been so sure they were being discreet. And there wasn't anything going on to be discreet about, anyway.
Luba nudged his shoulder and grinned again. "Oh, come on! I'm just glad you found somebody! And I love Spike. It's nice to see you happy."
"I'm not happy," Xander insisted, then backed up. "I mean, not happy like that. Not because of that. Because there is no that. Nothing to be happy about."
Luba heaved a heavy sigh and looked very put-upon.
"Fine," Xander hissed. "But don't say anything, because it's still kind of weird."
Luba nodded understandingly, then offered, "Maybe things will be easier once he's recovered his memory."
Xander wasn't so enthusiastic about the memory idea, especially since Giles had been increasingly encouraging about a magical cure. He took every opportunity to urge Spike against Giles's offer.
On their walks in the city at night: "Believe me - most of your past is really really terrible. You really don't want to even hear about it, let alone remember it."
At the pool table in O'Malley's: "Your life is pretty good now, right? Why would you want to change everything all of a sudden?"
On the couch in front of the tv: "If some powers brought you back to life, then don't you think they knew what they were doing? If they thought you shouldn't have those memories, then they were probably right, right?
At Frank and Luba's on movie marathon night: "Most people wish they could forget the bad stuff in their past. Why would you purposely try to remember it?"
But Luba interrupted, "I think Spike should do whatever makes him comfortable. I imagine it doesn't feel very good to know less about yourself than other people do."
Chastened, Xander sat down on the couch and pouted. Spike sat down beside him but didn't say a word.
Xander got home from work one day to find Spike sitting on the couch with the tv off. Usually not a good sign.
"Hey. What's up?"
Spike looked at him and held up a piece of paper. "Luba found me a job."
Xander ran in and plopped down on the couch, excitedly grabbing for the piece of paper. "What is it?" he asked before he'd had a chance to read anything.
"Translator. Some publishing company downtown."
Xander didn't notice Spike's lack of enthusiasm, because he had enough for both of them. "That's amazing! It's perfect for you! When do you start?"
"I don't," Spike replied simply.
Xander just looked at him in confusion.
"I'm going to London. Your friend Giles is going to try to fix me up."
Xander's hands fell limp into his lap, still holding the now-irrelevant paper, and he stared at Spike in disbelief. "You're going to Giles? In England? You ... you want to get your memories back? After everything we talked about?" He was feeling utterly betrayed, even if it didn't make much sense even to him.
Spike explained hesitantly, "Him and his ... 'coven' ... they think they've found a way to make things right..."
"No no no! That's not making things 'right'! Things are 'right' right now! You don't need them to..."
Now there was no hesitation at all. "I'm going, Xander. It's what I want."
Xander slumped at those words. He set the job information paper on the coffee table and let his body sink into the couch. This was what Spike wanted. Not Xander. Not San Francisco. Not this new life he'd been living. He wanted to be the old Spike. He didn't even know who that was, but he would soon enough. Giles wouldn't have told him to come all the way to England if he wasn't sure he knew what he was doing.
He didn't say anything else, and finally Spike got up and left the room.
Xander was the one who told Frank and Luba. Spike wanted to say goodbye himself, of course, but Xander was the one who told them the bare outlines of the news.
"Spike's going away for a while. He decided he wants to try to get his memories back, and I sort of know this guy in England who might be able to help."
"That's wonderful, Xander!"
"Yeah." Xander didn't sound so excited. "The thing is, though, that knowing Spike's past, I think he's gonna have a rough time. Some of the stuff is going to be pretty traumatic."
Frank reached out a hand to grasp Xander's shoulder supportively. "He's our friend, too, Xander. You know we'll do anything we can to help."
"Just knowing you guys are there will probably help a lot. If he comes back."
Luba frowned, obviously worried for him. "Do you have any reason to think he won't?"
"One-way ticket," Xander replied tightly. "He bought a one-way ticket."
The apartment seemed to echo with his absence, and three-person movie nights had never seemed so lonely.
Giles said the process went so smoothly that it seemed almost as if the memories had been only superficially hidden by the original spell, as if they'd actually been intended to be recovered.
Perhaps, he speculated, the shanshu would not have been awarded to a vampire who would choose to shun responsibility for his past sins. Perhaps Spike's decision to recover his own memories - however painful - had been foreseen and rewarded.
And now Spike was ready to come back to San Francisco ... and he needed someone to pick him up at the airport.
Just like that.
The tension in the car was excruciating.
"So ... it worked?"
"Yeah. I remember everything about Sunnydale now ... and the ... rest." Spike was so distant.
Xander panicked inside. Spike remembered Sunnydale. His love for Buffy. Xander being a prick to him for years. Spike remembered now.
"So why'd you come back?"
Hurt flashed across Spike's face, but then was quickly hidden behind a cool mask.
"Didn't particularly have anywhere else to go."
"What about Italy?"
Spike looked confused for a moment, then seemed to figure it out. "Buffy's made a new life for herself. Doesn't need me mucking it up."
Xander nodded, not really understanding. Spike had loved her so much ... why wouldn't he at least try?
Neither of them said anything for a bit. Then Xander said nervously, "So ... no crazy this time?"
Spike ran a hand through his hair. It was still loose and curly, no gel. Just like the new Spike ... except he wasn't anymore. He remembered now, knew who he was, knew what he felt about everyone ... about Xander.
Spike replied slowly, "Worked through that last time, didn't I." It wasn't a question. "Wasn't off my rocker those last few weeks in Sunnydale, or didn't you notice? I'm not gonna say it's easy, but I can manage. Don't have to worry about me going off and murdering the populace."
"That's not what I meant!"
The silence returned. Then Spike said calmly, "Gonna be looking for my own place now."
Xander nodded, a jerky movement that he hoped didn't communicate the pain he felt inside at those words. Spike was leaving. Of course he was leaving. Of course. Why would he want to stay? "Of course," he choked out. "Right." He tried to get a hold of himself. Tried to remember he was supposed to at least be Spike's friend, even if Spike didn't want anything more now. His voice was husky when he continued, "Luba can probably help. That's pretty much her job."
Spike nodded but didn't say anything.
Sometimes they saw each other at Luba and Frank's apartment, because they'd stayed friends with him. He showed up for movie marathons once in a while. Sometimes for dinner. Frank and Luba always invited Xander, too, but conversation was usually stilted.
Xander didn't know what to say. It made sense, what had happened. Spike didn't know anyone else, and so he'd fallen into a friendship - and into bed - with Xander. It was just because he didn't remember. He'd never do that now. Now that he remembered.
"So ... you have a job now?"
"Yeah. That translating gig Luba found for me. Not the same job, but they had another opening."
"Good. That's ... that's good." Xander didn't know what else to say. "Do you like it?"
"It's all right." Spike was looking around, looking for Luba or Frank, probably. He didn't even want to talk to Xander, and it was obvious.
Xander didn't say anything else, just let him be.
They all went to O'Malley's one night, and somehow Xander and Spike ended up back at the pool table, playing a game. It was probably Luba's fault. She made sad eyes every time she saw them together.
Somehow, Xander ended up asking, "You dating anyone?" He didn't know what possessed him. Perhaps literally. The words just came out of his mouth without his permission. He'd been wondering for weeks, obviously, but he hadn't planned to ask.
Spike gave him an odd look. "What's it to you, Harris?"
Xander decided to just go for it. Clear the air. Let Spike take a few shots at him and maybe things would be less awkward. Okay, so Xander would be humiliated, but what's new. He'd spent most of high school that way. He could do it again. And then maybe they could at least figure out how to be friends again. This silence was killing him.
"Well, we ... you know ... we ... when you were living with me and that one night..."
Spike shrugged casually. "Look. It was just a bit of fun. You saw me at the Boy Toy, figured I'd be up for it. No harm, no foul."
Xander was shocked. That's what Spike thought? "It wasn't like that!"
"Then how was it, Xander?" Spike's head was cocked to one side, his expression rebellious and angry. It was the most emotion he'd shown toward Xander since he got back.
Xander couldn't let him think that, couldn't let him think Xander had used him like that. No wonder Spike didn't want to have any kind of friendship with him, if that's what he thought. It all made sense now, and it was time for some serious honesty if he was going to clear everything up. He knew it was going to make Spike uncomfortable, but uncomfortable was better than this, right?
So Xander took a deep breath and said, "I was in love with you, okay? I know you didn't ... don't feel the same way ... that's why I never said anything. I didn't want to fuck everything up. And now everything's fucked up anyway so it doesn't even matter." He turned away, swallowing heavily around the lump in his throat, waiting for the mockery or the gentle apologies. You thought I'd actually care? or I'm flattered, really. Was this going to be old Spike or new Spike? Or did new Spike even exist anymore?
Spike didn't say anything for a long time, and Xander fought the urge to run away as quickly as he knew how, and that was pretty fast. He had a lot of experience with running away.
Finally, Spike said quietly, "Is that true?" Not what Xander had been expecting. He nodded, still facing away. Spike continued, "When?"
Xander looked down. The floor was dirty. Spilled beer and mud from people's shoes. "I don't know. A long time before ... that night."
"I didn't know," Spike replied. Xander prepared himself for the gentle let-down, since that's where this seemed to be going. But Spike continued, "I would have done everything different."
Xander frowned and turned to look back at Spike over his shoulder before turning around to face him. "What do you mean?"
But Frank came into the room and said he and Luba wanted to leave. It was getting late. Did Xander and Spike want to come over for some hot chocolate before heading home?
Not sure what to say, Xander looked at Spike. Spike nodded, and they all left the bar together, huddling in their coats against the cold. Luba chattered in her usual way, but Spike and Xander didn't say anything. Luba didn't even notice. It was what they'd been doing for weeks now.
They were back at home and the conversation was awkward again, but not for the same reasons. Xander's mind was racing. What would Spike have done differently? Were they going to finish the conversation, or had Spike nodded because he'd said all he planned to say?
Luba glanced between them as they sipped their hot chocolate. Only minutes after Frank had brought the mugs out, she yawned widely. She covered her mouth and apologized, "I'm so sorry. I'm just really tired." She smiled.
She wasn't usually so rude, but Spike and Xander took the hint and said their goodbyes. They walked down the stairs together.
When they arrived at Xander's door, they looked at each other. Xander was thinking, Is there more to talk about? Do you want to come in? What's going on? But he didn't speak any of it out loud.
Spike frowned slightly, looking at the floor, and then looked up into Xander's eyes. "I thought we could talk ... if you aren't too..."
"No," Xander interrupted. "That would be good. I mean, come in. Of course, come in." And he unlocked the door and held it open for Spike.
Spike walked in slowly and looked around. Nothing had changed. The same couch, the same chair, the same tv in the same place. The guest room door was closed, but inside that was the same, too, except there weren't any sheets on the bed, and Spike's stuff wasn't scattered around.
"It looks the same," Spike said.
"Yeah, well..." Xander didn't know what to say to that. It was the same. Why would Spike expect it to be different? It was just his place. It'd been Spike's place for a while, too. But that seemed like a really long time ago. "You can sit down if you want."
Spike sat on the couch, the same spot where he used to sit when they watched tv. Xander sat beside him in his old spot. Not too close together. Just like always.
Spike looked down at his hands. Xander wanted to ask a thousand questions, but somehow it seemed better to wait until Spike talked on his own.
"I didn't know," Spike repeated softly. He looked up at the blank tv screen. He glanced uncertainly at Xander. "Are you sure?"
"Oh yeah," Xander replied ruefully. "I'm sure."
Spike nodded in a stuttering movement. Xander wasn't sure what that meant. "I would have come back sooner," Spike said quietly, "if I'd known."
Spike nodded again. "Yeah."
Xander frowned in confusion. "What does that mean?"
Spike just watched him for a moment, then said quietly, "Me too."
"You too what?"
"I felt that way, too. But I thought..."
"You thought I was just using you? For sex? What, are you an idiot?" Xander was smiling, though, hardly believing what Spike was saying.
Spike shrugged. "It made sense."
Xander grinned at him now and said, "I thought you ... just because you didn't know anybody else."
"What, are you an idiot?" Spike repeated, a slight smile beginning to appear on his lips.
Xander didn't know what to do next, just staring at Spike in disbelief. If Spike was a girl, he'd probably pull him into a hug, kiss him, hold his hand and squeeze it happily. But they'd never been like that, and he just looked at him helplessly.
The silence stretched again, so unlike the other silences when they'd watched each other in these past horrible weeks. But, a moment later, when he led Xander into the bedroom, Spike took his hand and squeezed it gently.
The (Very Fluffy) End
I know the ending's abrupt, and I apologize. I hope it's better than nothing