They lay panting for a few moments and as Spike remembered he didn't need to breath he pulled himself up off the bed and started to dress.

Xander looked like he wanted to say something but Spike beat him to it, 'Thanks,' he mumbled as he lit a cigarette as he headed out the door.

Xander, who had somehow fallen hard for the blond vampire, pulled the blankets up over his head and tried to muffle his sobs.

Spike having paused just outside the door stopped and listened to the distraught brunet. He was sorely tempted to go back in and apologize, to beg for forgiveness, to make all the pain go away, but he couldn't, it was better this way. The whelp's friends would only turn him away, it was what they were waiting to do. It would be the final fuck up that he was known for and Spike didn't want to come between the only family that the whelp had.


'What the hell are you doing here fangless?' Buffy sneered as Spike entered the shop through the back door.

'I came to help but-' he started but was cut off as her lips covered his and she shoved him onto the floor.

'Hey Buff,' Xander called as he pushed open the training room door. Spike was wrestling the Slayer off or trying too but he didn't miss the look of pure pain and betrayal that crossed Xander's face.

'What Harris?' she snapped; not stopping her divesting/assault/rape of the vampire under her.

More hurt and betrayal.

Spike began to struggle in earnest, his previous attempts slightly weaker because he hadn't wanted to hurt the bint. He began to curse in a variety of languages both human and not.

He finally just shoved Buffy across the room as Xander fled the shop.

Giles, Willow, Tara and Dawn all looked from the fleeing Xander to the crashing in the training room in confusion.

'Stay the hell away from me you dumb cunt!' Spike snarled before he was hurtling through the shop after Xander, the sun having set between his arrival at the shop and now.

They all watched as a furious Buffy emerged from the room, straightening her clothing, 'we don't need either one of them, they're both useless bastards,' she snarled.

'Buffy what did you do?' Giles asked, trying to control his fury.

She smirked, 'finally got them apart is what I did,' she replied with a self-satisfied grin. Giles wanted to smack her, Willow did.

'How could you?' she raged, magic crackling around her like electricity.

'Because he belongs to me,' Buffy snapped.

'Who Xander or Spike?' Tara asked, 'or both?' she added as she stood and collected her things, as did Willow.

'Get out,' Giles snapped, looked angrier then she'd ever seen him.

Buffy didn't answer Tara, nor did she leave, 'what are you doing?' she asked incredulously as Willow took Tara's hand and headed for the door.

'Going to help Spike find Xander,' she replied, 'Giles, are you coming?'

Giles shook his head, 'No, I'll stay here in case one of them comes back,' he replied. Willow nodded and the two witches left.

'Why are you still here?' Giles asked Buffy, glaring at her.

'But Giles,' she began to whine.

'No Buffy, what you did was reprehensible. He is- was your friend and he deserves to be happy,' he began.

'But its Spike!' the whine only got worse.

'I don't care if it's a Shinsa'wei Demon! Yes Xander has expressed his displeasure in your choices in partner but he has still stood by you and let you do what you wanted.'

It looked like she was going to start whining again so he stormed to the door and pulled it open, 'get out,' he snarled, not listening to the tantrum Buffy was having.

Finally realizing just how thin the ice she was skating on Buffy finally left, vowing to do something horrible to Xander for screwing everything up.


Spike breathed a sigh of relief when he found Xander on a swing set not far from the shop.

'Xan-pet,' he began moving toward said pet.

'Fuck off,' he said hoarsely.

He wasn't in the mood to deal with Spike, or anyone, at the moment.

Spike didn't say anything but after a while he moved and sat on one of the other swings

'I'm sorry,' he said softly.

Xander pretended not to hear him and continue to gently swing.

'She attacked me as I was coming into the shop,' Spike offered, 'I wanted to see you and then I was one my back with the Slayer trying to get into my pants, I didn't want to hurt her because you would be mad at me if I did and then you came and I tossed her off me, I'm sorry Pet,' he finished softly.

'I can't do this anymore,' Xander finally spoke, 'I can't be your fuck toy.'

'Xander,' the vampire began to protest.

'It's the same every time. You come in strip and fuck and leave, no hey how are you, thank you very much, how'd you get that nasty gash on your abdomen? You just take, take, take and I don't get a fucking thing and I can't do it anymore.' He replied his anger giving away to resignation halfway through and everything about Xander tore at Spike non-beating heart.

Before Spike could respond something flew past him and tackled Xander. The fact that the pair got caught in the swing chains would have been funny if it hadn't gotten caught around Xander's throat or if he wasn't on the receiving end of a Slayer beat down.

Spike snarled and launched himself at Buffy, who was yelling in an incoherent angry babble.

In his rage Spike pulled Buffy away from Xander and started an earnest fight with the Slayer. He didn't notice Xander collapse in an unconscious heap in the sand.

Finally he managed to lock her arms behind her and sit on her, a hold that wouldn't normally hold either of them but it was awkward enough that Buffy couldn't move.

Willow and Tara showed up just then and Willow froze staring at the tableau that she had found. Tara however began to chant in what Spike thought was Aramaic and leapt back when Buffy began to glow. Just as suddenly it was gone and the girl was still.

'It's just a binding spell, Spike,' Tara offered all of her stuttering, shyness gone. The blond was suddenly by Xander's side.

'What did she do to you?' Spike asked as he tried to figure out a place to touch the boy that wasn't covered in blood or bruises.

'Hurry,' Willow heard just before Tara hung up the cell phone.

'Giles is on his way,' Tara announced as she crouched down next to Spike gently putting a hand on his shoulder.

Spike looked up at Tara, startling her with his tears, 'I can't lose him, not like this,' he whispered.

'And you won't,' she replied with an encouraging smile, 'Giles will take him to the hospital, with you,' she added with a soft laugh when Spike growled, 'and he'll be as good as new.'

A honk that sounded like a rubber duck that had been stepped on pulled their attention to the car that had pulled up.

'I've put a stabilization charm on him, be careful, William,' she offered softly. Spike studied Tara for a moment then nodded.

'I like this Tara,' he offered before he hefted Xander into his arms and gently placed him in the Giles-mobile. Spike was surprised as he gently stroked Xander's hair, the boy had lost a lot of weight at working in construction but most of it had turned to muscle. Yes he'd done a lot with the boy, most of it under sheets and in the dark but he hadn't noticed the physical changes in Xander, mostly because he hasn't wanted to.

When Giles pulled away from the park Willow and Tara converged on Buffy, her eyes wide with panic. She had seen and heard everything; Tara's spell only cutting off her ability to move.

'What were you thinking Buffy?' Tara asked, crouching down to face Buffy, 'all he wants is someone who cares about him, someone to love him, and he has finally found that and you want to take that away from him,' she stated.

'We're taking you back to Giles', we can figure out what to do with you later,' they stated before each witch took one of Buffy's legs and they dragged her back to the shop.


Giles flipped absently through an old magazine as Spike paced the waiting room muttering about idiot boys and moronic Slayers.

'Spike, sit down,' Giles commanded as he tossed his ancient People magazine back onto the table.

Spike shook his head, 'can't, not with the whelp...' he didn't finish.

'William, sit down,' Giles snapped and, in his surprise at someone calling him William for the second time in one night, Spike sat.

'Thank you,' Giles sighed as he rubbed his eyes. Spike realized then that he was not the only one that was worried about Xander but it hadn't hit home until just that moment.

They sat in silence for a while, Spike flipping through an even older copy of Weekly World News as Giles finished a few of the crosswords in the People magazines.

'Mr Giles?' a petite redheaded doctor entered the room with a gentle knock.

Giles looked up and stood as he dropped the magazine back to the table, Spike stood as well.

'I'm sorry, only family,' she began to kick Spike out.

Giles almost growled, 'he IS family,' the doctor took a step back but managed to recompose herself quickly.

'My apologies,' she offered.

Spike gave a curt nod, 'Xander? How is he?' he asked his concern for Xander overriding everything else.

'He is out of surgery,' she replied, 'and is sleeping,' she added quickly before either of the two men could ask, 'it will be a while before he wakes but you can sit with him if you like,' she offered. 'You should be warned though, he was severely beaten, his had several broken bones and his heart is incredibly weak, we don't know why so we want to keep an eye on it.' She watched the two men for a moment and both looked so sad, these men genuinely cared for the boy. 'It's not pretty, he's black and blue and hooked up to several machines to monitor his heart,' she warned before pushing open the door to Xander's room.

Spike inhaled sharply as he bit back a sob, Giles cursed Buffy under his breath. 'Don't hesitate to call if you need something.' The doctor offered. She backed out of the room, neither man having heard her.

'Oh Xanpet,' Spike half sobbed as he knelt beside the bed, clutching Xander's hand tightly in his own, 'I am so sorry,' he mumbled as he feathered kisses onto the too still hand.

Giles watched the blond for a few moments and with a sigh pulled over a chair for spike to sit in.

'Causing yourself pain won't help Xander.' He offered softly.

Eventually Giles fell asleep on the uncomfortable couch while Spike murmured softly to Xander, telling him everything he hadn't before. How he loved him, cherish every moment they were together, how he looked forward to seeing the tosser every day. He would sob every now and again as he threw in apologies and the doctors and nurses let him be.

Willow and Tara left Buffy in the training room at the Magic Box when they went to join the pair at the hospital. They were currently asleep on the other bed.


When Giles woke his arm was still asleep, as were Tara and Willow and Spike had fallen asleep with his head on Xander's stomach.

He shook his hand as he went in search of tea. 'Sir, Mr. Giles!' a voice called from behind him as he nursed the black sludge he'd gotten in lieu of tea.

He turned to find one of the nurses rushing up to him.

'I'm so sorry but we just had a major collision and we need all the room we can get. We have a John Doe and we need to put him in your son's room.' He panted.

Giles nodded, 'I'll go wake the girls,' he offered as he continued on his way.

'Thank you,' the nurse called over his shoulder as he headed back to wherever he had come from.

The girls were sitting on the couch; Giles was staring out the window as two orderlies brought in John Doe.

'He's been like this for months, he won't give you any trouble,' one of the orderlies said softly as they wheeled out the stretcher, leaving them to their vigil.

No one noticed the man, Spike was still talking with Xander as Tara and Willow went over ways to magically torture Buffy and Giles stared out the window. He finally turned wanting to stop the two witches.

All three looked up at the gasp from Giles as his paper cup of sludge dropped to the floor. 'Ethan,' he breathed. A whirl of emotions staggered Giles and he found himself leaning against Xander's bed.

Lying there unconscious was Ethan Rayne.

He had no idea what happened to the other man and despite what this man had done to him and his children he had always loved him. He sighed pulled up a chair and started to talk to him.


A few hours later after Giles had told the staff who the other man was and Willow and Tara had gone to check on Buffy and taken showers, though probably not in that order, Xander began to stir.

'Come on, Pet, let me see those beautiful eyes o' yours,' he coaxed gently.

'Spike,' he moaned softly.

Spike ran his hand through Xander's hair, 'I'm here Pet,' he said softly as he squeezed the hand he held.

Xander blinked rapidly and was soon able to focus on Spike, who started to babble his apologies.

'Shut up,' Xander rasped.

Spike shut up looking incredibly hurt and remorseful, and Xander smiled, 'kiss me you sodding poof,' he commanded.

Spike gave a choked sob and kissed Xander, madly, passionately, tenderly.

It was everything a kiss should be and it was also all teeth and drool and grabby hands. Tara and Willow smiled as they headed out to give the pair some privacy. Giles pulled the curtain closed for an extra bit of privacy.

'I love you,' Spike whispered into the kisses.

Xander pulled back, he was surprised that Spike was crying.

'Spike?' he asked uncertainly as he gently brushed away the tears.

Spike kissed him softly, 'I'm sorry about everything, I shouldn't have treated you the way I did and I certainly should have told you how much you mean to me,' he continued to babble until Xander finally quieted him with a soft kiss.

'I know, I heard everything.'

Just then one of the doctors arrived, the same redhead as before, to finally check Xander over. After a few minutes he gave Xander a cheerful smile, 'Well everything seems to be fine, a few weeks of rest and relaxation and you'll be as good as knew.' He checked something else and frowned.

'What is it?' Spike asked, concerned.

'It's this heart thing, it was rather week yesterday but it seems to have gotten stronger, much stronger,' the doctor replied almost absently. 'We'll keep you for a few days to keep an eye on it and if it doesn't change you'll be able to go home.'

'Thank you,' Xander offered as the doctor headed over to check on Ethan Rayne.

The doctor gave Xander and Spike a brilliant smile, 'it's good to see you awake, Mr. Harris.' She offered before turning her attention to Ethan.


Buffy had had a lot of time to think as she lay tied up on the mats in the training room.

She had attacked her best friend.

She had attacked her Xander shaped friend over a boy.

What the hell was wrong with her?

She refused to admit, even to herself, that she was jealous. Because there was No Way she was jealous of what Xander and Spike had. She most definitely did not want that.

She didn't want someone to lean against as they poured over ancient texts trying to decode whatever prophecy or warning or whatever it was they were trying to decode.

She didn't want someone she could banter with as she went patrolling in whatever demon infested place needed de-demoning.

She didn't want someone to curl up in front of the TV with when all was quiet.

She sure as hell didn't want someone to chase away the nightmares as she tried to sleep through them for another night.

She snorted, yeah and if you believe that then there were some magic beans you might be interested in.

She hadn't realised that she hadn't seen the pair do any of those things.


'Willow please,' Buffy sobbed.

'Why?' Willow asked, 'why should we let you see Xander after what you did to him?' she asked again.

'Because I want to apologize, I don't know why I did that to him,' she cried between sobs.

'It's going to take more than tears and an apology,' Willow said sharply.

'But it's a start,' Tara offered softly.


'Xander?' she asked softly from the door way after a gentle knock.

'What?' he asked, it wasn't quite a snap but it still made Buffy flinch.

'Can we talk?' she glanced at Spike and the girls in concern.

Xander looked at the others and at their concerned looks nodded and they gave soft smiles and headed out to the hall. The curtain was pulled across the room, giving the pair the illusion of privacy from those on the other side.

Xander knew that Giles and Ethan were there but Buffy didn't and he wasn't going to tell her that.

She rushed to his side and grabbing his hand sobbed, 'I am so sorry Xander, I have no idea what I was doing or why…' she continued on for a few minutes in the same vein before Xander finally stopped her.

'You were jealous,' he stated stopping her finally.

Buffy could only stare at Xander in confusion, 'I wasn't… I don't…' she tried to protest but couldn't find the words.

'You were jealous because your lapdog and your sex toy weren't following you around anymore. Because they- we had the chance to be happy and you couldn't have that because if Buffy isn't happy then no one can be happy,' Xander stated.

'No Xander, that isn't what, that's not, no…' she denied as she shook her head, her eyes filled with tears and hurt, Xander had no sympathy.

'Please leave,' Xander asked politely, if a little stiffly.

'But its Spike!' she finally snapped, yelling at the young man. 'He tried to kill me, repeatedly.'

'That didn't stop you,' he almost snarled, 'you just tried to kill me, I'm allowed to be angry with you,' he replied reaching for the book on the table beside him, 'now leave.'

Before Buffy could say anything else to Xander the curtain was whipped aside.

'When were you going to tell me you nearly beat Ethan Rayne to death?' he asked coldly.

'He tried to kill me, you, us!' she burst out her anger and frustration at Xander making her lash out at Giles as well.

'It's not all about you,' Xander said softly and Buffy turned on him, fist raised to do more harm to the already injured brunet. Giles caught her hand.

'He asked you to leave,' he stated as he glared down his charge.

'I'm going to have to insist that you leave Miss,' a rather haggard looking nurse is in the door way, two burly security guards behind her and Spike, Willow and Tara, behind them.

Buffy glanced from Xander to Giles then to those in the hall, she wrenched her hand from Giles and stormed from the room, Spike giving a low snarl as she passed him.

A second later he pushed past the nurse and orderlies and was by Xander's side, 'okay, Pet?' he asked brushing away the hair that was covering his Pet's face.

Xander gave Spike a small if slightly teary smile, 'I will be.'

Spike gave Xander a gentle kiss.


'What are you doing?' Dawn asked as she watched Buffy storm around her room, flinging things at the bag on her bed or just flinging things.

'Packing,' she replied curtly.

'I can see that,' she gave an eye roll that would have, if she weren't a teenager, strained something. 'Why?'

'I can't be here,' Buffy replied her curtly-ness turning to bitterness.

'Because of you! You ruined everything! You're not even real and you were still the favourite! You the reason they got a divorce, mom loved you more and I hate you!' she snapped at Dawn, who recoiled like she'd been slapped. She turned and fled, not bothering to get anything.

She banged on Giles' door for almost five minutes before she slid down and began to sob, huddled in a ball.


Willow and Tara were arguing over ways to hex Buffy as they approached Giles' apartment. They had offered to get clothing for everyone and had only Giles' place left to raid.

'I'm telling you an unpluckable unibrow would-'

'Dawnie?' Tara caught sight of the girl first, rushing to her side.

Dawn jerked awake and at catching sight of the two witches, launched herself at them, babbling about Buffy. Tara gently soothed her as Willow quickly packed clothing for both Giles and Ethan.

The trio made it back to the hospital and Tara carrying Spike and Xander's bag while Willow carrying Ethan and Giles. As they walked they explained what they knew had happened.

'She was jealous,' Dawn offered after a brief silence after the witches had told her what Buffy had done to Xander.

Willow and Tara shared a glance and then turned to the teen.

'She had Xander from when they first met, they never did anything but he was smitten and then she actually had relations with Spike and then it stopped and now they don't need her. They have each other, granted Spike was a bastard to Xan but still they were together.'

'When did you get so grownup-y?' Willow asked as they gathered into the elevator.

Dawn grinned, 'last week, sometime between "Passions" and "Smallville" she offered with a smirk.

'How's Xander?' she asked in concern.

'He's hurt not only physically but emotionally but he has Spike who hasn't left his side since he showed up here,' Willow offered.

Dawn nodded, 'If he does anything to Xander like what he did before I am going to take a shovel to him.'

Tara laughed as Willow choked on air, before either witch could say anything else Dawn had bolted through the door that was most definitely, if the argument over whether or not Voldemort was actually dead was anything to go by, Xander's.

She shoved the unsuspecting vampire out of her way as she launched herself at Xander. She babbled into his shoulder as she sobbed into it.

Xander gave a chuckle as he gently soothed her by whispering softly to her as he rubbed her back.

A throat clearing caught their attention and five pairs of eyes turned to the two older men. Ethan was awake, as he had been for the last few days, the doctors unable to explain why he was awake now, and he and Giles were watched the quintet with amusement.

'Right then,' he coughed and cleared his throat, he hadn't spoken for quiet sometime, 'I just wanted to apologize for all the chaos I reigned on you,' he offered his voice hoarse from disuse.

'Well you are a chaos mage,' Willow offered with a shrug.

'Was,' he corrected her softly.

'Was?' Xander, Willow and Dawn chorused.

He nodded, 'had a change of heart, I suppose, couldn't stand to be away from Rupert,' he blushed as he explained.

Dawn, Tara and Willow gave sighs of adoration while Giles, Spike and Xander rolled their eyes.

'So what happened to the Slayer?' he asked changing the subject completely.

Dawn burrowed down into her big brother Xander while Spike's hand joined his on her back.

'She left,' Tara replied tersely.

Giles sighed as he sat on the edge of Ethan's bed by the man's hip and the incapacitated man placed a gentle hand on Giles' leg.

'I suppose that it was to be expected,' he offered with an apologetic smile to Dawn.

'I'll get my revenge,' Dawn replied with a shrug.


Buffy stared at the hotel; she took a deep breath before pushing open the large door.

The sight she was met with wasn't what she was expecting.

A large attractive black man was teaching a tiny brunette how to fight in the middle of the lobby. In a corner by the offices, Cordelia and Faith were painting Wesley's toenails as the former watcher was trying to figure out something, what Buffy wasn't sure.

'Um, Hi,' she announced tentatively.

Her announcement let the petit brunette flip Mr. Handsome and three cries from the makeover corner.


'Miss Summers!'


They all said together.

There was an awkward moment of silence before Angel emerged from his office. He was massaging the bridge of his nose in a very Giles like way and hadn't noticed the blond in the lobby.

'That was Giles, apparently Buffy's run off again,' he announced the room.

'We know,' Faith offered with a smirk.

'What? How?' his head snapped up as he looked at his crew in confusion.

Everyone just pointed to Buffy.

'Buffy,' Angel said surprised.

She surprised everyone by launching herself at him. She sobbed into him as he stared helpless at her, Faith and Cordelia tried to hide their snickers.

'Do you want to tell them why you're here?' he asked, clearly he had heard from Giles what had happened in Sunnydale. 'Because I do,' he added coldly.

'Angel?' Buffy asked, hurt, still holding onto Angel.

'Could you please release my boyfriend?' Wesley asked tersely as he hobbled over to the pair, not wanting to smudge the steel grey coating on his toes.

'What?' Buffy pulled away from Angel as she glared at Wesley.

'Why are you here Buffy?' Cordelia asked; she and Faith had joined the group. The other two were standing back, watching the group.

Angel pushed Buffy away, 'you can stay here until you decide what you're going to do but don't get to comfortable,' he stated as he moved to embrace Wesley.

'I almost beat Xander to death! That's what I did and I did it because I was jealous!' she shouted, angry that the man who was supposed to be hers had chosen a useless insipid man. 'I should've beat him to death like I'm going to do to you!' she yelled launching herself at Wesley.

Angel managed to grab Buffy around the waist as Faith moved to defend Wesley.

'Get out!' Angel snarled even as he carried Buffy to the door and shoved her outside.

'You're mine Angel! You and Spike and Xander! You all belong to me!' she shouted as Angel slammed the door on her.

Angel ignored her and walked back to his crew, he gave a heavy sigh and squared his shoulders, 'grey Wes?' he asked raising an eyebrow.

'What? Is it too much?' Wesley asked looking down at his toes.

'It was that or the hot pink,' Faith offered.

'You passed on the hot pink?' Angel asked in surprise.

'Not entirely,' Wesley admitted as he pulled his hands from his pockets where they'd been tucked away since he had stood up.

Angel gave a hearty laugh as he realised that the former watcher's finger nails were hot pink. Wesley blushed but Angel just pulled him in for a gentle kiss.


Instead of heading to Giles' apartment Willow drove them to a new housing community.

She stopped in front of a duplex and Tara pulled in after her.

'Welcome home boys,' she grinned at Spike and Xander who were staring at the building in surprise. Spike a little less surprised then Xander he hadn't actually expected them to find a place that quickly.

'What?' Xander asked in confusion, he was sure the morphine hadn't affected him that badly. 'This doesn't look right?'

'Let's get you settled first,' Spike offered.

Willow grabbed the bag out of the car as Spike helped Xander out of the car. In the other car, Giles was helping Ethan out of the car, despite the fact that he had been in a coma for a few months and his recovery was surprisingly fast.

Tara grinned at Willow.

'Are we neighbours?' Xander asked suspiciously.

Willow giggled when Giles groaned and Dawn squealed. With Buffy gone, Giles had become Dawn's legal guardian.

'Can I call you daddy now?' Dawn asked turning big brown pleading eyes to Giles.

'Yeah can I?' Xander asked, turning big brown pleading eyes to Giles.

Ethan could only laugh.