Title: Post-Traumatic

Author: Faith Harris

Summary: The after effects of Sunnydale finally take their toll on him. Post-seventh season

Ships: X/Anya, X/Spikeish

Warnings: Suicide…Might be mistaken for Anya-bashing

I remember the first words my Spike said to me.

I'd been dreaming about Anya, for the first time since she'd died. In the dream, she was sitting across from me in our old apartment as we ate breakfast. We were almost always in our apartment. She didn't speak, but she smiled as she listened to me babble about my non-life since her. About how happy I was to see her. I think she knew.

When I woke up, my Spike was at the edge of my bed, smoking. I was in Africa, and I had arrived a couple of days ago. He turned to look at me, his smirk amused and typical Spike. He blew out a puff of smoke, and with a flick of ash on my bed, he told me, "Heard you say her name in your sleep, Harris."

I probably should have been freaked; after all, Spike was in LA with his sire; I wasn't though. It didn't even cross my mind to think it was the First, playing tricks with me. No, this was my Spike, a development of a very stressed and disturbed mind. I wasn't surprised that I'd lost it. After all, I'd felt like I was crazy for a long time now, and full-blown hallucinations were just the next step, I figured.

My Spike stuck around after that first encounter, and it was almost like we were back in the basement again, bickering and living in some sort of routine truce or something. I learned to ignore him in public, in front of new Slayers. Still ended up laughing at things he'd say while we were in public, looking strange. It's funny, since I started out hating my Spike. After all, he was just like a chipped real Spike.

He was my only real company, regardless, him and Anya. Anya visited me every night in my dreams. I lived with my Spike and dreamt with my Anya. I was almost content, and yeah, I got the irony of being content once I lost my mind.

My Spike traveled closely by my side, and I got used to purchasing two tickets to everything. Things got pretty damned crowded if there wasn't an empty seat for him. Two movie tickets, tables for two, plane tickets…I lost count of how many times I had to play 'stood up boyfriend' in order to look less freakish, but I didn't mind.

The thing was that, with my Spike, I didn't have to worry. My Spike wasn't going to die, leave me, or turn evil and try to kill me. For once, I didn't have to be paranoid about being alone. I always had Spike.

And no, he had no qualms about reminding about just how weird that was.

My Spike came with me to Italy when I returned with a bunch of Slayers. I was nervous about going back; I'd been the first to try to leave when the chance arose. Call me a chicken, but I needed to have time to grieve on my own, without Buffy, Willow, or Andrew. Quiet was what I wanted. I got my Spike instead.

My Spike kept me from drinking myself to death at one point, I think. He was the only one there that could help me out at the time. Sounding just like the real Spike- if the real Spike gave a damn- he managed to mock me straight out of the bottle. Thankfully, he managed to convince me it was the "wanker's way out, but hey," if I wanted to, "be a bloody pathetic poof", I could go ahead. Pissed me off enough to sober me up before I saw the girls.

When things got too hard to deal with, he stood by me and whispered what to say into my ear. I mean, hey, wasn't my Spike my delusion anyway? Anything he said was from my head, and I wanted to say it in the first place. Got me in a huge fight with Buffy at one point, but it was for the better. I got what I needed to say about the events in Sunnydale said, and we moved on.

I can't deny that I wasn't really trying to get back in the thick with the group, though. I had been in Africa over a year, and during that time, all I needed to survive were Anya and my Spike. I love the girls, and Giles will always be a father to me. I just preferred the world my head was making for me, and I didn't want much other conversation.

During the day, my Spike was close by. I got a small job repairing things, learning Italian as sloppily and quickly as I could, and when I was home, we watched television. With the Slayer army, we weren't even asked to patrol, which was fine by me. At least, it was until my Spike pointed out that we were both bored and restless. I started patrolling secretly. Spike would bitch about how he couldn't do anything, and I'd just laugh and call him Fangless. He'd growl and turn around. It was…cute, in a way that only my Spike could be. I don't even know when I started thinking about my Spike like that, but hey, I'm certifiable.

Anya knew about it, and in my dreams, she called me on it. Said that I talked to my Spike more than her, and that she missed me. That I should have wanted to be with her more than him.

And what could I say? She had a point. She was my wife, after all.

In dreams, we'd gone through with the ceremony. She was beautiful, and my Spike was the best man.

My Spike and I had our first real fight in England. Willow and Kennedy and Giles all thought it might be easier for me there, where I didn't have to deal with the language barrier. When they left Italy, I came with, staying with Giles until I found my own place.

Living with Giles, I almost slipped. He almost heard me talking to my Spike. I was able to do a pretty snappy job of covering it up, saying I was talking at television. Still, I felt bad. Giles knew it was something, he had to.

I suggested that I tell Giles. Finally stop playing sane and hiding. Needless to say my Spike was unhappy about that. He was pissed, pacing and cursing. He was saying that I wasn't ready, it wasn't safe for me to say anything yet…anyone who's dealt with Spike knows that trying to be rational with him is pointless.

That was when Spike left me. He told me to 'sod off' and stormed out of the room. It wasn't like Spike hadn't done it before at other times, when he got sick of my acting pathetic. In a few minutes, I thought, he'd be back, still bitching about the fight like he always did.

So I waited. Counted to sixty, then I waited some more. Five minutes, twenty, thirty. Two hours, three hours, and at that point I took a walk around the house. Outside. Spike was nowhere to be seen.

Spike had left me. I guess I'd been wrong.

Without Spike around, the only time I felt like anything was when I was with Anya. Sleep was easy; complaining of insomnia, and nightmares when I did manage to sleep, I got pills. I spent time with Anya because then I wasn't alone. She'd hold me and tell me I didn't need Spike, and when she said it, I believed her.

Of course, then I'd wake up, and my room was too quiet- by then, I'd gotten my own apartment in Britland or flat, as Giles or Spike would have told me. It was too quiet, and I'd always regret waking up.

Listening to the others, even Willow, was a chore. The hours I spent awake, which became fewer and fewer, dragged on by the second. I missed Spike's snark, Anya's affection.

Anya was the one who asked when I fell in love with Spike. It was an accusation, not a question, and I denied it. We argued, and I was terrified that she was going to leave again, like Spike had. I pleaded with her for a week not to be mad at me, and it was a week that I had no contact with the Scoobies at all. I usually tried to keep up appearances of caring, and I called Buffy or Willow at least once a week. Didn't have the strength for it anymore at that point, I guess.

She said that if I loved, I'd prove it. Couldn't figure out what she meant, and normally I would have gone to Spike about it, even if he didn't really like being around Anya all that much anymore. I didn't have anyone to talk to about it, but I had a hell of a lot of time to think about it. She suggested I spend some time awake to figure it out.

Finally. I got frustrated. No, that wasn't the right word. It was over a month without Spike, over a week without Anya, and I was desperate for someone to be with. It wasn't on purpose, I swear it wasn't, I just wanted to be with someone who cared.

I grabbed the bottle and took what I had left. Swore to god I heard Spike before I went to sleep:

"Really bollocksed this one up, didn't ya pet?"

I woke up in a hospital bed, Anya on my left and Spike sitting at the foot of the bed. They didn't know that I was awake and they were arguing. I was so deliriously happy to see both of them that I almost spoke up, but their topic of discussion stopped me.

They were fighting about me.

Anya wanted me to stay with her. After all, she was my wife, and I…I was hers. She loved me, and I loved her. After everything I put her through, I knew that was what I owed to her.

Spike wanted her to leave me alone. Said that I needed to live my life and move on, eventually, and she wasn't letting me. 'Find a bird', he said, 'or even a bloke, whatever makes him happy.' Said I was still alive, and I should keep living. Spike didn't understand that they were my life. I didn't have anything left, especially if I lost them.

I drifted out again and woke up with Willow, Dawn, and Buffy by the bed. I didn't much hear what they were saying, because I was thinking about what Spike had said. Did he really think I could move on without them?

The girls thought it was a suicide attempt, and so did the doctors. It wasn't as if I could talk to one of the hospital therapists for too long; too much of what had happened to me couldn't be talked about in therapy. Vampires, vengeance demons, Hellmouths…therapy was a waste.

Buffy insisted I moved in with her. Spike returned, and he said it was to protect me from two people:

The immortal and Anya.

I hated Buffy's boyfriend. He creeped me out and everyone seemed to fall over him. I preferred Spike's company, especially when I wasn't sleeping well. I tried to be closer to Spike- bought a few CDs that he'd used to own back in the basement, a few of the movies that we actually used to agree on watching. A lot of it was to stay away from Buffy's boyfriend, and a lot of it was to keep Spike around. I figured Spike was a healthier choice than Anya, and that made me laugh.

Spike laid with me when I missed Anya- really having insomnia's a bitch when you're not allowed to take anything for it. He was there when everyone else wasn't. I wasn't as desperate with him as I was with Anya. I felt safe.

Spike told me that it was time to cut it off, and I didn't know what he meant. He explained it; he said that he meant with both him and Anya. He said that I didn't need him anymore and I said he was wrong.

Maybe Anya had been right, and I had fallen in love with Spike, but I knew that I needed him. Hell, Anya had been so pissed at me since the hospital that Spike's sarcasm was the only thing that got me through the day.

He insisted that I needed to move on, and that I didn't want to, couldn't, not with him around. If I didn't want to do it alone, he said, maybe telling someone wouldn't be such a bad idea. That he'd sit with me while I did it. He sounded like he was reluctant to say it, but I guess I just wanted to do what he said.

I can't remember a harder thing to do than watch Willow's face crumple when I told her everything that had happened since Africa. She blamed herself, and told me that she'd find me help, no matter what the cost. She hugged me and cried, and told me I wasn't alone.

I told Anya goodbye that night. Spike watched that too, which must have pissed her off. She threw a vase at my head. Spike told her what she could with her dreamworld, and for the first time in a long time, I remembered I was insane.

It felt good, knowing that again. I knew where I stood again.

I don't know how Willow did it, and I know Buffy must have flipped out when she found out. I guess Willow really wanted me sane, because it was the only explanation.

He was sitting on the edge of the bed, his jacket draped on an armchair. He was smoking, and when he turned to me, he was smirking too. "Heard you've been dreaming about me, Harris." He was mocking me.

"Which one are you?" I asked blearily.

"Excuse me?" he was amused.

"Mine, or the real thing?" My Spike appeared, sitting on the armchair. He'd never done the 'poof, I'm there' thing before, but it answered the question. I think that was the point. "Never mind." The Real Spike laughed at me. My Spike just grinned.

It was the last time I saw my Spike. It wasn't the last time I saw Spike.