Title: Fear Becomes You

Timeline: Jr. Year sometime after Halloween and before Angelus.

Pairing: This is going to be Spike/Xander and all those other season 2 couples on the side. And it's going to be non-slash. Sorry.

Summary: Spike and Xander are accidentally placed under a curse during Jr year. Then they have to deal.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot. And even the plot's been kinda used before.

Chapter #1: Changes

Xander woke to the sound of worried voices and an aching body. Opening his eyes, Xander found himself lying on the couch in a rather tidy living room.

This was new.

And rather strange.

But, after getting a better look at the room, Xander was relieved to find that this was not, in fact, some bizarre alternate version of his living room.

It had a bookcase.

It also had a Giles, he noticed, when Giles entered his field of vision in search of some book from said bookcase. He could hear Willow and Buffy talking behind him, but couldn't really understand what they were saying, and didn't really want to turn around and ask.

This must be Giles' place, he decided.

It fit the man.

And, so, now with the where answered, his mind was free to silently panic over the what and how.

The last thing he remembered was the park.

He and his girls had been going home from the Bronze, casually walking down the main street, when Spike and ten of his minions made their dramatic entrance. The fight had been going as usual—he thrown into walls, Wills into trashcans, and Buffy kicking serious ass—but then Spike had seemed to take a rock out of his duster. He had seemed to really want Buffy to look at it too, which usually wasn't a good sign. Luckily, Spike never got the chance as Buffy kicked the rock out of his hands and, soon after, kicked him into a wall. Spike had quickly stood, but then, just as quickly, he had collapsed, convulsing and almost screaming in pain. Confused, and in no immediate danger as Buffy was quickly dusting the last remaining minions, Xander had cautiously approached the body. All signs had pointed to unconscious, particularly the sign where Spike didn't suddenly jump up and grab him, or even twitch, when Xander poked him. But Xander had wanted to be certain, so he had checked again, lifting Spike's lifeless arm and waving it around like a noodle. It was then that he had noticed the strange red stone. Picking it up, Xander had seen . . . something . . . and then there had been pain.

Serious pain.

Vaguely he had heard himself screaming, but he had really been too caught up with how his entire body had been on fire to care.

And after that . . . he must've passed out.

But that still didn't answer the why. Had somebody attacked him with a flame-thrower or something from behind?

While he was busy remembering, he had been slowly pushing his body into a sitting position. Willow, seeing him sitting up, moved around the couch to sit at his side. Following her, Buffy squished in to sit on his other side, while Giles, having found the desired book, stood watching him uncertainly. All of them were clearly worried.

Looking at him with wide eyes, Willow asked, "Xander, you're awake. I was so worried. Are you OK? Do you need anything? Aspirin? Water? Another pillow? Something to eat?"

"Uh, no, Wills. I think I'm good. I just . . ." Frowning, he put a hand to his aching head. "What happened?" And did his voice sound higher than usual?

At this, the look on Willow's face shifted from concerned worry to nervously hesitant. And, when she turned to Giles for help, Xander started to feel a little nervous himself. That look always meant something bad. Especially when it was followed by Giles going all British, like he was doing now.

Giles put his book down on the table and answered, "Well . . . we're not quite sure. According to Buffy and Willow you started to scream and go into convulsions quite . . . spontaneously. There was no actual attacker. Buffy suspects Spike, but seeing as he seemed to have, uh, gone through a . . . similar experience, it is really most unlikely. As it is, you were found next to an amulet, of a sort. Willow has told me that she thinks she may have seen you holding it before you, er, underwent your . . . ordeal. I haven't actually been able to get a good look at it as I'm not sure of the exact trigger of the thing. It is most likely sight or touch, which, well, makes it, understandably, very difficult. I—

Buffy, interrupting, gave him a significant look. "Maybe you could actually answer the question?"

"Oh, yes, right, er, anyways, this amulet . . .it . . ." He took his glasses off and began to rub. "It, er . . . it . . well, that is. . ." At a loss for how to continue he paused and looked to Willow and Buffy for help. They said nothing.

"It . . . ?" Xander asked. And again with the voice.

Giles put his glasses back on. "Well, this amulet, it, may have . . . er, well, what I mean to say is . . . it . . ."

Seeing that Giles wasn't going to be saying anything useful in the near future, Buffy cut in again, placing a hand on Xander's arm. "It turned you into a girl."

"Yeah right, good one," Xander laughed, lightly and much higher than usual. Hearing this, he trailed off and, starting to look a little worried, lifted a hand to his neck. "What's wrong with my voice?"

Giles watched him, clearly concerned. Willow and Buffy gave him synchronized sympathetic/worried looks, as Willow reached over to hold Xander's hand.

They were serious.

Xander started shaking his head, "No. No. There is no way I'm a . . a . . ." he moved his free hand in frantic that-thing gestures as he looked back and forth between their faces, searching for anything that would tell him that they were joking, that he wasn't a . . .

His voice was just because he . . .

Panicked now, he brought both of his hands up to his chest and grabbed breasts. Giles let out an embarrassed "oh, dear" and looked away.

His eyes widened. "Oh God"

Then, with something like dread, he reached down and grabbed at his crotch.

"Xander!" Willow blushed, embarrassed, and Buffy quickly grabbed his arm and moved his hand away from that area. Xander was too busy having a complete mental breakdown to feel embarrassed.

"No, no, nonononoNo!"

He felt no penis.

He grabbed again, moving his hand around to see if maybe it had just moved, only to be stopped, yet again, by Buffy. Where was his penis? He needed a penis.

This couldn't be happening. It wasn't happening. It couldn't.

Distantly, he heard Buffy continue--"That rock-thing apparently got Spike too. We're not really sure how, though. And he's not a girl. We think he's alive, ya know? Human. He's breathing and has a pulse and everything."—but he wasn't listening.

No. Just . . . just NO. This wasn't happening. He was dreaming. This was all just some weird dream and he was going to wake up soon and he would be home, in bed, with a penis, and no boobs.

Maybe . . .

He pinched his arm hard.

Ow. Still asleep.

He began to try again.

This time Willow grabbed his arm, stopping him. "Xander! Don't do that." But he still wasn't listening.

This wasn't a dream. Or maybe it was a dream and what he had just felt was dream-pain.

Oh, god he wished it was a dream.

Looking up at Giles, he asked, "There's a cure, though, right? This is just temporary? Like, you'll make with the magic and I'll be a guy again? And soon?"

He could not be a girl. He was a guy. With all the guy-like parts. Like a penis.

Still flustered from embarrassment, Giles answered, "Well, yes, of course, I'm sure there is a cure. But, I'm afraid we cannot attempt one until we discover what the exact purpose of the amulet was. By the results, it seems to be incredibly powerful. And, well, these amulets can be rather tricky. Spike should know something about it, of course, so it shouldn't be that hard to find a cure." He gave Xander an apologetic look. "We . . .we just don't want to risk making your condition, er . . . worse."

With a sinking feeling, Xander asked, "So we're depending on Spike?"

"Well, and research."

"And what happens if we don't find anything?"

"Xander!" Willow and Buffy exclaimed.

"Well, I'm sure we'll find something. After all, everything has a cure of some sort."

Xander hoped Giles was right.

As it was, he could tell that he was going to be a girl for awhile. And he could deal with that.

But he couldn't be a girl forever.

He was a guy, after all. With a penis.

"Yeah, this'll be easy. And it could be interesting, too. Maybe you can learn what makes girl tick." Buffy smiled, then hearing a wheezing cough followed by the sound of gasping, she sighed. "But duty calls. By the sound of all that pathetic panting, our prisoner is awake and it's time for a little questioning." She patted his arm and walked away and his attention was pulled to Willow's smiling face.

"Yeah, Buffy'll question Spike and we'll find the cure and you'll be a guy again really soon. I'm sure of it."

Xander gave her a weak smile. He could pretend to believe that.

Spike woke to the sound of frantic female shouting, an aching body, and chafing wrists. "There's a cure, though, right? This is just temporary? Like, you'll make with the magic and I'll be a guy again? And soon?"

Lifting his head, he stared at his surroundings from his rather limited point of view, confused and in pain. Why was he in a bath tub?

He remembered that last night he had put his newest plan to kill the Slayer into action. The amulet he had gotten from some Wrenix traders last week had been guaranteed to make the Slayer weak and vulnerable. More importantly, it promised to keep her weak and vulnerable. The only problem with the plan had been that she had to actually look into the eye drawn on the thing for it to actually work. And she hadn't. She had kicked it out of his hands and then had kicked him into a wall. Then, after he had gotten to his feet, his world had exploded into pain. He had the vaguest memory of seeing something red on the ground, but that could have been anything. It couldn't have been the amulet.

The Slayer must have taken him hostage for some reason.

And she must have set him on fire in order to kidnap him. It didn't really seem like a thing the bint would do, but there was no other explanation.

Either way, he was awake now and had obviously, and strangely, not been very damaged by the fire.

The idiots had also tied him up with ordinary rope and weren't even watching. He could break free and probably stroll out the bloody front door.

So Spike flexed his muscles, pushed against the rope, and tried to stand up.

The rope didn't break.

This was different, but Spike just shrugged mentally and pushed harder, using more muscle than should be necessary.

It still didn't break.

Now he was becoming a little worried.

Maybe it had been the amulet?

Trying again, Spike threw his whole body into it, straining hard against the rope . . .

. . . which stretched a little, but still didn't break.

And Spike was made painfully aware of heavy breathing and a quick throbbing sensation in his chest.

So, maybe the idiots weren't as daft as he'd thought. The rope must have been spelled to hold a vampire. He could still break out of 'em, though. It would just take a little more effort.

And the breathing . . . It was habit, is all. He didn't need to breathe.

And he was obviously imagining the throbbing. Going as mad as Dru, he was.

So, with a concentrated effort to break the habit and ignore the hallucination, Spike set at the ropes around his wrists, rubbing them against an edge of the bath tub spout near where he was tied to the knobs. If he could get his hands free, he could untie the rope binding his legs.

A short while into the task, his chest was starting to feel heavy as he fought back hard against the desire to inhale.

The rubbing started to get a little slower.

His face was heating up and the pressure kept building, as his arms and head started to feel heavy.

He did not need to bloody breathe!

There was now hardly any actual force behind the rubbing, as Spike focused all his attention on not breathing.

He couldn't do it.

Spike started to cough, dragging in deep, desperate breaths.

But that didn't prove anything.

It did call attention though, as the Slayer appeared in the doorway and moved to stand over him.

"Get something caught in your throat, Spike?" she asked with exaggerated worry.

Pathetic panting dying down, Spike looked up with a sneer.

"Wot do you want, Slayer?"

"Well, there was this new pair of sandals I saw at the mall, but, well, I think I'll just have to settle for you dead. But, oh, we seem to be having a problem with that too, huh?"

"Yer having problems using those bloody trunks y' call arms, are you? Maybe forgotten how t' use a pointy stick?"

"You mean you haven't noticed yet?" The bloody bitch looked amused.

Spike narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Wot?"

"Well, you're alive!" she said and stepped back to watch his reaction.

"No'm not." And he wasn't.

"Ah, yes you are."

"I think I would know if I was bloody livin' or not." And he would. It seemed like it would be pretty obvious, what with the loud heartbeat and daft ideas about rescuing puppies or some such rot.

And besides, it was impossible.

"Right. And that little fit you just had? It had nothing to do with not getting enough oxygen."

"Too bloody right it didn't." He gave a very decisive nod.

"And if someone were to, say, put they're fingers right here," she placed her fingers against the long dead pulse-point on his neck, "they wouldn't feel a pulse."

He jerked his head away from her fingers. "Right"

"And the pulse I just felt was . . . ?"

"Hallucination. Yer going mad, you are. Should get someone to check that."

She let out a noise of annoyance, her arms flapping to show her teenaged opinion of whatever, as she turned back to whine at her little friends. "Giilleees. He's not listening. You talk to him."

"Er, yes, of course." Appearing in the doorway at her call, the Watcher regarded him seriously. "I'm afraid that what Buffy has said is true. You are, in fact, alive."

"No'm not."

The Watcher obviously didn't know what to do in the face of his clear denial to accept their lies. "Er, well, yes. Yes, you are."

Spike gave the old man a condescending smirk, "Riiight. And 'ow'd that 'appen?"

The Watcher raised a brow. "I believe I should be asking you that. It appears the cause was your amulet, after all."

Spike snorted derisively. "An' you think it gave me a pulse?" Couldn't happen.

"Er, well, yes. The effects do seem rather random, I'll admit, but, well. . ." He shrugged.

"An' why should I believe you?"

It couldn't be true.

The amulet was only supposed to make someone weaker, not bring them back to life.

"Well . . ." The Watcher paused and frowned, obviously wondering on how to continue. If he should bother trying to convince him or just leave him to rot. The Slayer answered that problem by cutting him off.

"It doesn't matter if you believe him. What matters is that it's true, so I can't kill you. But as soon as this is over, that'll be fixed and we, as in us and not you, who'll be dust, can go on with our lives."

"Yes, thank you Buffy." The Watcher dryly, giving his charge a look. "And now, I believe it is time for you and Willow to be going home. We'll deal with this tomorrow."

"But don't we need to question Spike?" She looked far too eager, really.

"No. It is far too late right now, and you have school in the morning. Spike isn't going anywhere. You can question him tomorrow."

The Slayer dismissed this easily. "Pfft, I'll be fine. And, anyway, this needs to be done."

"Yes. And it will be done tomorrow. Now go home."

Making as though to argue, she quickly changed her mind at her Watcher's stern look then turned with an annoyed sigh to apparently follow this order.

In a few seconds the humans were back to ignoring him completely, leaving him to rot for the night in a bloody uncomfortable position in a bath tub he quickly grew to hate.

He also grew to hate the humans just that much more. They would have to die. Not that they weren't going to die already, but now it was necessary. It was personal.