Long Way To Happy


Rating: M (Just to be safe)

Warnings: Dark content. Rape, pedophilia, abduction. (Doesn't actually happen. This is the aftermath.) I'd also like to point out that I didn't write this, whoever had control of my body at 3 in the morning yesterday did. Also: SONGFIC!!

Disclaimer: Don't own them... Though if I could get my hands on Spike he'd be chained to a wall in nothing but the duster. ...Mmmm... Anyway, still don't own them.

Summary: Xander needs to get something off his chest… Spike's along for the ride.

Xander wondered briefly if the green dude was going to pick up on the fact that Angel told him where he was. He hoped not. Last thing he wanted to do was upset the guy seeing his future. He closed his eye, and tried to mentally prepare himself for the humiliation.

"Come on, Whelp. It won't be that bloody bad."

He still couldn't believe that he had let Spike talk his way into coming.

Well, at least Spike would honestly tell him if he sucked, rather than patronize him.

But then… The song he'd chosen…

"Next up, one Xander Harris."

Too late now. He stood up and made his way to the stage. He wasn't drinking tonight. He knew he was going to make a fool out of himself, but he at least wanted to be sober while doing it.

The bright lights blinded him when he stood behind the mike, and he was pathetically grateful for that.

The music started, and he ignored the small chuckles of laughter when people realized it was a Pink song. This was important. For no other reason than to finally get everything off his chest.

"One night to you
Lasted six weeks for me
Just a bitter little pill now
Just to try to go to sleep
No more waking up to innocence
Say hello to hesitance

To everyone I meet"

He shivered. He'd spent fifteen years not thinking about it. Not dreaming about it. Or… Trying not to. Even now every time someone got too close too fast, he flinched.

"Thanks to you years ago
I guess I'll never know
What love means to me but oh
I'll keep on rolling down this road
But I've got a bad, bad feeling"

He really wouldn't know what love meant. Not in the whole, happy, unbroken sense. Not if he kept lying to himself. He'd spent so long chasing after things he couldn't have so he'd never have to wonder about what he'd do in that situation.

But Faith had taken care of that.

But then she hadn't been… A man.

"It's gonna take a long time to love
It's gonna take a lot to hold on
It's gonna be a long way to happy, yeah
Left in the pieces that you broke me into
Torn apart but now I've got to
Keep on rolling like a stone
Cause it's gonna be a long, long way to happy"

He'd always lied to himself about that. About how he wasn't attracted to men. Even though he had outright admitted to Willow he'd found Angel attractive. Some things just didn't make sense.

But after what had happened with Anya he couldn't keep lying to himself.

"Left my childhood behind
In a roll away bed
Everything was so damn simple
Now I'm losing my head
Trying to cover up the damage
And pad out all the bruises"

He shivered. He was back in that bed… In the dark with the smell of cigars hanging to the sheets. With hands stronger than him grasping at him; pulling him to his knees. Calling him that god-awful nickname.

Screaming himself bloody until his face was shoved into a pillow. The musty smell of pillowcases gone too long without a wash, and smoke, and pine scented shampoo.

He'd just been some random kid that happened to be handy for snatching and molesting.

He'd only been eight.

"Too young know I had it
So it didn't hurt to lose it
Didn't hurt to lose it
No but oh
I'll keep on rolling down this road
But I've got a bad, bad feeling"

He hated the fact that he couldn't find a man attractive without withdrawing, and immediately hating the man. He hated that the time that Anya had hung up a pine air-freshener in his truck he'd had to pull over two blocks from the apartment to throw up the breakfast he'd eaten that morning.

Hated that this still bothered him after so long.

"It's gonna take a long time to love
It's gonna take a lot to hold on
It's gonna be a long way to happy, yeah
Left in the pieces that you broke me into
Torn apart but now I've got to
Keep on rolling like a stone
Cause it's gonna be a long, long way"

He had a scary feeling that the rape was the reason he always dove headfirst into situations he couldn't win. Why he'd always been so reckless. Why he had been willing to be Ampata's meal, Cordy's scratching post, Willow's first innocent victim. Why he had stood before Angelus in the hospital, even though he knew the vampire could hear his heart beating out of his chest in fear. Why he had taunted the vampire he was sure was going to come back and rip him apart as soon as the chip was history.

The same vampire proving 'moral support' in the audience at the moment.

The same vampire…he was doing this for.

"Now I'm numb as hell and I can't feel a thing
But don't worry about regret or guilt cause I never knew your name
I just want to thank you
Thank you
From the bottom of my heart
For all the sleepless nights
And for tearing me apart yeah, yeah"

He was up here dragging out the most traumatic experience of his entire life in front of a hundred people he didn't know.

Because he was so tired of being afraid of his feelings.

Feelings that seemed more apparent around the bleached vampire.

"It's gonna take a long time to love
It's gonna take a lot to hold on
It's gonna be a long way to happy, yeah
Left in the pieces that you broke me into
Torn apart but now I've got to
Keep on rolling like a stone
Cause it's gonna be a long, long way

It's gonna take a long time to love
It's gonna take a lot to hold on
It's gonna be a long, long, long, long way to happy, yeah
Left in the pieces that you broke me into
Torn apart but now I've got to
Keep on rolling like a stone
Cause it's gonna be a long, long way to happy"

He stepped back from the mike, and out of the blinding lights that made it possible to forget that this was real. He'd just admitted it.

He wondered briefly if Spike would connect the dots.

He glanced out at the crowd, barely registering the applause.

A green demon wearing a red suit approached him as he left the stage. He didn't look happy. "Angel sent you?"

"Well… Kinda. Sorry man. But that-" He motioned towards the stage. "Was about personal demons."

"Yeah, I know. Come on, let's find a quiet corner." Lorne grabbed his arm and dragged him to a corner booth. "You've had a hard life from day one."

"Tell somebody who didn't live it." He rolled his eye.

"Well, you're hanging out with Slayers, and with what I picked up on your feelings for Mr. Bloody over there, it's not getting any easier." Lorne stared at him very intensely.

"Well, that's lovely." He sighed, and lowered his eye to the table.

"Xander…" The demon waited until their eyes met. "That doesn't mean it's not going to get better. Just not easier. And it doesn't mean that you're not going to be happy. Because you will. However… You have to stop hiding yourself. All three of you."

His eye dropped back to the table. "I can't. If they knew…"

"They knew what? That you kept the personas? That parts of the hyena and soldier are still in you? It happens to a lot of people who've been possessed. If you ask that man you consider a father, he'll tell you. It's not a big deal, but you've got to stop shoving them into a closet until you need them. If you accept them, they'll help you, even all the instinct the hyena's been shoving at you."

"Can't be worse than what I have been doing." He shrugged.

"You know its okay, don't you? To still be hesitant. To throw up at the smell of pine and cigars. To panic when someone grabs you. It doesn't make you weak; it makes you a human being, even if it never goes away. It actually shows how strong you are."

"Oh please." He glared at the green man. "It's been a decade and a half."

"You were raped!" Lorne was glaring back. "People go their entire lives being unable to deal with that. You, at eight years old, got up the next morning looked at yourself and the mirror, and faced it. I know demons four times your age that can't do that."

"Oh yeah, I faced it. I can't even be attracted to a man without completely freaking out."

"And yet you can touch another person. You can let people touch you. So you walked away with a couple hang-ups? It's normal. Hell you're sitting here talking about it without shutting in on yourself! You're a hell of a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for, sugar." Lorne patted Xander's arm. "Just remember. Overall, hard doesn't mean bad. You have to be truthful to be happy. The strength you think you're imagining… It's there below the surface. Things are going to change for you, Xander. It'll be for the better if you let it." He stood and walked back to the stage to read the next person.

Xander stared at his hands for a long moment before standing and walking back to the bar where Spike sat waiting for him. When he approached the blonde looked up from where he was peeling the paper off of his beer, and froze. "Spike…"

"Xander…" A pain flashed across Spike's eyes. "You meant it, didn't you? The song."

He sat down, not saying a word, and picked up his now warm beer. Lorne's words were bouncing around inside his skull, and all he wanted was for someone, wanted Spike, to truly understand for once. "I was eight."

"Xander…" Spike's hands continued peeling.

He ignored the vampire. "It was Christmas. The Christmas before I'd been tossed out of the house for screaming bloody murder when Uncle Henry took a belt to my back." He paused at Spike's growl. "So I decided to just take myself out that year… It was late, and I was sitting on the curb in front of my house when a car pulled up. That's all I remember until I woke up in a dirty bedroom somewhere. I remember him asking what my name was. I remember very rough hands that I couldn't fight off and the awful pain of being taken dry at that age…" He shuddered. "I remember almost suffocating when he shoved my face in a pillow because I wouldn't stop screaming. I remember that he smoked cheap cigars and used pine shampoo. Those scents still make me throw up. I still flinch if someone grabs me. I panic if someone calls me Alex because that's what he called me during… I've never told a soul before tonight."

Spike ran a hand through his hair. "Good god, Harris… How did you make it through that?"

"I thought of who was going to make sure Willow had food in her fridge when her parents left for two weeks without stocking up, and who was going to pick on Cordelia with Jesse. I thought of my father beating my mother because he had to pay for my funeral." Xander shook his head. "I lost all self-preservation skills. I picked on bullies to get beat up. When Buffy showed up, it was just a whole new group of people to throw myself at the feet of. I told myself that if I just got lucky and proved myself then it would all go away. It was a nice theory that never worked. You know the worst part?"

"There's a part worse than that?"

"I kept lying to myself. I kept running after girls I thought I couldn't get, and every time I found myself attracted to a guy I would automatically get defensive and angry…." Xander met Spike's startled eyes. "That includes you."

"Whelp…?" The question in those blue eyes almost made Xander back out.

"I'm not promising anything, Spike. I'm damaged, and I'm always going to be damaged. The smell of pine is always going to make me throw up. There are going to be mornings where I freak out after reliving it in my nightmares… But… I'm trying to move past that."

The "for you" went unsaid, but the look in Spike's eyes said that he understood.

R&R!! Though, flames will be used to toast marshmallows. It's been way too long since I've had a decent s'more.