Title: Price of Happiness

Writer: Azure K Mello

Feedback: please, Adult themes, language, rape, torment, slashy.

Summery: how much would Xander pay for his best friend to be happy? Why does he hate Angel?

Thanks to Angelina for the beta and to Meg for the word change.

The thing is, you see, I couldn't really tell her, could I? She thought I was jealous of him? She thought I was trying to break them up to hurt her? She thought I honestly cared what she did with her life? How wrong could one girl be?

I couldn't really tell her though. She was happy with him. And he took such good care of her. Sitting through our little scoobie meetings, stroking her hair, listening to what Giles said with careful attention. She said I hated him because he was a vampire. She said I hated him because I didn't understand that with a soul he didn't hurt anyone. She said Angel was different. Again, so wrong.

She thought that just because he had a soul Angelus had ceased to exist? That the soul had taken over fully? The fact of the matter is, lots of killers, and rapists, and all around bastards have souls. He had one: it didn't change much. But then, in her eyes Angel was special.

He didn't like it when I called him Angel. I called him Angelus and if I did as he said it didn't hurt so much. I couldn't have told her. She's the slayer, doomed to die young; doomed to be destroyed again and again. He made her happy. And it wasn't as though I was of any use to her. I couldn't fight the fight. So what if I didn't tell her that her boyfriend was raping me? She was happy. That was my contribution to the good fight: a happy slayer.

So when he came to me that night I didn't say anything. I didn't fight him; I didn't try to fight him. Because if I was good he didn't hurt me.

But when he whispered, "You're so good, Xan, why are you so good?" I answered honestly.

"Because I'm scared." It wasn't the right answer and I knew it once it was out of my stupid, fucking mouth.

"What?" he asked slowly.

"Because I'm yours," I said trying to make up lost ground, "because I'm yours." But it wasn't enough. As he ripped into me I felt as though my blood was rushing out of me to make room for the poison he was pumping in. I looked away from him but he hit me so hard I felt my bones move in my jaw and I was forced to look him in the eye.

"You are mine," he said angrily as he pumped into my abused body.

"Yes, Angelus," I agreed quickly, wanting it to be over. And then, just like that, I passed out.

I couldn't tell her, because I played along with it. I told myself that I just wanted it to be as easy as possible. But what if he was right? What if I did like it? Slowly coming to I saw that it was late afternoon: that I'd slept through school. With a quick flash of inspiration I leaned out of bed and managed to throw up on the floor instead of all over my bed. And I was pleased, for the first time in years, that my parents often forgot I existed. Sliding back into oblivion felt amazing. I could hear distant vague voices talking.

What do you mean he wasn't at school?

I thought he would be here.

Well how should I know where he is?

He is your son.

Don't you take the tone with me, girl.

I have his homework, can I come in?

Soft steps came up the stairs but I didn't expect them to come in to my room. No one cared, or knew where I was. Frightened, I looked out the window to make sure it was light: that it wasn't him. So relieved to find sunlight outside my window I started to drift off again when suddenly there was a voice talking to me.

"Xander? Can you hear me? Oh god, so much blood. Xander? Please!" I opened my eyes slowly and smiled at Buffy. I had the power to make her happy. All I had to do was not tell her about his visit.

"Hey, Buffster, I think I have the flu."

"There's blood everywhere."

"Yeah, I was sneezing blood, I'll be fine." She was studying me and I realized I was naked and I tried to roll on my side to hide all the bruises on my ribs but instead I just exposed my back to her.

I heard a small gasp and she said, "You're still bleeding. Who did this?" she demanded.

"You're so happy, Buffy, I gave you that. . . He's such a good boyfriend and I think he really loves you. He, he, he. He really loves you. And that makes you happy. Let's not talk about this, you'll be sad. I can't make you sad." I felt smart because I didn't think I'd given the game away.

"How long?" she started to ask but she stopped.

"How long have you been going out with Angelus? I mean Angel. He likes it when you call him Angel. Not me though, he says that's only what the people he likes call him. How long?"

"About a year. Xander, you have lost so much blood. I think we should go to the hospital."

"No, I don't like it there. Are you happy? I like it when you're happy."

She looked at me for a long time before she smiled at me brightly through her inexplicable tears, "You make me so happy. You're the best friend I've ever had."

And I felt like there was a huge balloon in my chest, "Don't tell Willow, she thinks she's your best friend. She used to be mine but you have her now. You have both of us, 'cause you're Buffy."

"Why didn't you tell me about this?" she asked softly as she stroked my hair. It felt good, like a mom. Her hands were warm and smelled girly and clean.

"You're hands are nice."

"Thank you. Why didn't you tell me, Xan?"

"Don't call me Xan. He. . . I mean. Never mind, call me what you like," I didn't want to tell her about Angel. I was pretty sure she hadn't figured it out. And I was woozy.

"He calls you that?" she asked angrily. I flinched and suddenly her tone was soft and begging as she stroked me, "How long, Xander?"

"I guess, about a year, maybe."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You're happy, Buffy. I don't want to change that. Your boyfriend loves you," I slid off into my thoughts and said, "He says I like it. He says that I know it will stop if I tell. But I don't," I shook my head trying to make her believe it. "I don't like it. It hurts, and it's scary, and I'm scared," I finished and I was almost whispering.

"I know, Xander, I know. You're the best friend I ever had. I know you didn't want it." She kept stroking my hair as she thought and then she pulled out a first aid kit from her backpack. With slow care she wrapped my chest saying softly, "He broke some ribs." She cleaned up all of my cuts with something that burned slightly but she whispered apologies and she promised me that I make her happy so somehow it didn't seem too bad. With a cool washcloth from the bathroom she washed the sweat off my face. Silently she cleaned up the sick on the floor even though I begged her not too. She just said that she wished I would go to the hospital to check for internal bleeding but as I started to cry again she said softly, "Well, my Spidey sense isn't picking anything up so maybe we'll go tomorrow when you feel a little better." She gave me some painkillers a doctor had given to her. And then she said, "I'm gonna go out for a little while. But I'll be back, and I promise he won't come ever again."

"Don't go!" I begged suddenly scared again, "Please stay!"

"I'll be back, I just have to go see Angel."

"Oh," I said slowly, "yeah, 'cause he's your boyfriend. He really loves you." I looked up at her and met her eye for the first time, "Buffy, please, don't talk to him about this. Go have a nice time. You'll only make it worse. He'll come back and I'll get," I breathe slowly reminding myself he isn't here, "punished. Please."

"Xander," she said at an equally slow pace, "I'm not gonna have a sit down talk with him about this. I'm gonna stake him. And he's gonna know, before he dies, why he's dying. Nobody hurts my friends. You make me happy and now it's my turn to protect you. I'll be back in a little bit. I promise. A half hour, maybe. It's still light out, he can't get away. It'll be so quick. I promise, I'll be back soon. He won't even have time to react."

"But he makes you happy."

"No, Xander, you do," she leaned over and kissed my forehead like the mom in a Rockwell picture. "No one hurts my friends."