A/N:  Yes, Xan is soulless.  But, I think Spike proved that even soulless creatures are capable of great affection.  And they are also capable of controlling their impulses if given proper motive.  But don't expect either one of them to be good little boys all of the time. 

DISCLAIMER:  Honestly, if I owned any of this would I spend hours at financial aid begging them to hurry up with my loan?

Choices

Chapter 6

            "I am not going to allow him to go out there without me, Slayer." Spike said, frowning.  They were outside the crypt, just after sunset, and Buffy had come to pick Xander up for patrol.

            "If you go out together it could be more of a liability.  He overreacts when anything threatens you.  And I expect you would do the same if you saw him in danger." 

            "Do you really think you could control him?" Spike threw down his cigarette, "If he went out of control could you guarantee me that you wouldn't harm him?"

            "He wouldn't do that.  He's my best friend."

            "He's not the Xander you knew.  Not anymore.  Don't expect him to be all nice and housebroken.  That'll only last as long as he's afraid of me.  And he won't be afraid of me forever."

            "Then what's the solution?  The curse?  Willow and Tara can…"

            "Never." Spike pulled her chin up so that their eyes met.  They stood close. "I happen to like the boy the way he is."

            "I noticed." Buffy frowned.

            "Jealous?" Spike grinned.

            "Never." She spun around and hastily removed herself from the vamp's proximity.

            "We have one hope, Slayer."

            "What's that?"

            "He actually wants to be good.  I don't know why.  I've never seen a vampire who actively tried to fight his nature like this before, without extenuating circumstances.  It's strange. Could you have the Watcher investigate?  See if this has happened before?"

            "I can tell you without consulting any books, Spike.  Xander wants to be good because he doesn't want to disappoint you." With that, the blonde spun on her heels and walked away. 

Spike turned toward the cracked door of the crypt. "You can come out now.  She's gone."

"I thought you had more confidence in me than that." Xander sank to the grass, "You only want to patrol with me so you can keep an eye on me."  He pouted.

"I could care less if you did decide to go snack, pet.  But it would hurt her."

            "And you don't want her hurt.  Of course." Xander remarked angrily.

            "Don't, pet.  Don't assume anything."  Spike pulled the boy up, pulling him against him and into his arms for the first time since the first night. "I do want to keep an eye on you, but only to protect you.  I know what it's like, luv.  I know what you're going through.  But you're stronger than I was.  I couldn't fight it."

            "What if I can't either."

            "I'm here to help you.  To give you the kind of support I didn't have.  And besides, pet.  I enjoy being around you.  You're a lot more fun than you used to be."

            "Thanks for the compliment." Xander replied sarcastically before reaching up to rub his neck.

            Spike frowned, "You know that if you're that averse to sleeping with me, I could have taken the couch." He reached up to massage Xander's neck.  He wanted to get off the subject of comparing old Xander to vamp Xander.  It would only lead to trouble.

            "You're not getting off that easy, Spike.  I'll have you know that I used to be a very fun person." Xander's eyes were darkening and he made an unnecessary gasp for air.  Spike noticed and grinned.  He would win this argument.

            "Really?  And would the old you have allowed me to do this?"  Spike walked Xander back into the wall, pushing their bodies together, "Or this?" he pressed a quick kiss to Xander's lips.  For a brief moment Xander leaned in to him, but then he suddenly pushed him away.

            "I haven't changed that much."

            Spike's grin widened. "I know." He whispered.

*****

            They walked through town, quietly.  Xander was reluctant to look at Spike, and Spike had decided to let Xander be alone with his thoughts.  He had felt the desire coursing through the younger man's body.  It reminded him of another time, when he had caught the boy's eyes on him, noticed that they lacked the malice that he had come to expect.  The only sound that had come from the two of them for two hours had been during the few quick, minor skirmishes that had occurred that night.

            They were nearing the alley where it had happened.  Spike wasn't certain that Xander remembered.  He hadn't exactly been fully conscious.  But he saw Xander glance toward the alley and look away quickly, remembering the attack.  Just as he turned away, a familiar redhead ran out.

            "There you are!  Come on, we need some help here!" Willow grabbed Xander by the hand and pulled him into the alley.  Spike followed.

            A demon of unknown origin held Buffy against the wall.  Four more stood in wait.  But the girl smiled a smile that was very familiar to her friends.  She kicked, and was suddenly free and pounding the surprised demon against the opposite wall.

            "Nice of you two to join us!" she yelled as Spike and Xander joined the fray.  They made quick work of three of the demons, but then Xander saw the fourth throw Spike several feet.  He vamped out and ran full speed at the offending demon, chasing him out of the alley.  Spike yelled to stop him, but was ignored.  Before he could get up, the fifth headless demon fell into his lap.

            "Ugh, Slayer!  Do you have any idea how much it costs to get demon blood out of clothes?"

            Buffy just looked at him incredulously and shook her head, chuckling.  Of course she knew.

            The three of them went out to look for Xander.  They found him in the street, a couple of blocks away.  They stood and watched.  The two girls were puzzled, not quite knowing what to make of what they saw.  Spike was simply amused.

            He sat on the demon, pinning him to the ground.  The creature had already lost one limb, and Xander was, to all appearances, playing with him.  With a knife.

            "Having fun, pet?" Spike grinned.

            Xander nodded.  He proceeded to carve his name into the creature's chest.

            "Yick!  Can't you just behead it and get it over with?" Buffy asked, making a face.

            "He hurt Spike."  He carved Spike's name below his own.  The demon wriggled, mumbling in some strange tongue.

            "Xander, please, kill the poor beast." Willow begged.

            "This is what he is now, Red." Spike said, but he grabbed the axe in Buffy's hand and effectively separated the demon's head from his neck.  Xander pouted, and looked up at the girls almost hungrily.  Willow backed away from the golden gaze, but the ridges faded from Xander's face.

            "I wouldn't bite you, Willow." He said, frowning, "But I'd better go home."

            Spike looked down at him, an unreadable expression on his face. "Yeah, pet.  I think you should."

*****

            "Are you mad at me?" Xander asked as they returned to the crypt.  He was sitting on the stone sarcophagus.  "I don't know why, I just couldn't help myself.  I just wanted to hurt it, to hurt anything really.  And I had fun doing it."

            "Well that much was obvious."  Spike sat beside him, "Don't worry.  I don't expect you to completely deny your nature.  I would like you to spare the others the sight of it, but that's not always possible.  Especially when you're angry.  Just don't be so graphic with it next time."

            "Maybe Buffy's right.  I shouldn't patrol with you.  I didn't get that way until I saw him hurt you."

            "He didn't hurt me.  I can take a hell of a lot of punishment, pet."  Spike looked over at the boy, but he was still gazing down at his hands. "Why are you so protective of me?"

            "Believe me, Spike, I'm as confused on that matter as you are."

            "Don't worry about it, pet.  I think I have an idea."  He hopped down and walked over to the refrigerator.  "Ready for some supper?"

            Xander nodded, and looked up.  If he had been able to, he would have been blushing.

            "I think I'll sleep in the bed tonight."

            "Smart boy."  Spike had to struggle to hide his smile.