The knock on his door in the middle of the night wasn't unusual. In fact, it had become commonplace. As was the sight that greeted him as he opened the door - the boy who more often than not was battered and bruised, shut off and drawn in on himself.

The silence was more disconcerting than the bruises; those he could deal with. They were tangible; given time they would fade away into nothing. It was the other, the quiet, that affected him the most - so strange, so wrong - stripping the vibrant young man, making him appear so much younger, so much more vulnerable than he ever should be.

He would open the door wide and let Xander enter, watching as he curled his lanky frame into the corner of the sofa and withdrew deeper into himself, disconnecting from everything around him. When he cried, the tears were silent, running down his cheeks without so much as a sob to guide them.

He never spoke.

And Giles never asked. He bit back the rage that swam up to the surface with every visit, focussed instead on his need to nurture the boy, caring for to him in every way he could, every way he was allowed.

Silently, Giles would move into the bathroom, returning with damp facecloths and the first aid kit and tend to Xander, trying, in his own way, to ease his suffering, to take away the pain. He knows he never can though.

Every bruise, every cut and scrape and scar he commits to memory. Every drop of blood, every shirt stained and torn beyond repair is memorized, stored so one day he can recall it, draw on it and use it to his advantage. One day, he would seek vengeance on the man that did this, make him suffer as he made his son suffer.

But that was for another time. For now, he would finish tending Xander's wounds, he would hold him if he cried and didn't push him away, and he would sit with him as he swore nonsensically, never asking what happened and never needing to be told. The bruises and cuts and scrapes spoke for themselves.

Giles would sit there until exhaustion overcame the boy, until Xander cried himself to sleep. He would wrap him in the throw he kept waiting over the back of the sofa. He would go to bed himself, vowing that one day he would make the man pay that broke his poor, sweet, Xander. The man that drove him into himself, that was slowly destroying his darling boy with every taunting word, with every swing of fist and bottle and belt.

In the morning he would wake to find Xander already gone, the throw folded neatly over the back of the sofa as if he had never been there. Every day would pass with them pretending that nothing had happened, and without a word being spoken about Xander's late night visits, nor the man that drove him there.

And at night - not every night but often enough to be a common occurrence - he would open the door to the boy, beaten and broken, and know that words were not what Xander needed.

He just longed for the night that Xander no longer had to leave.