In memoriam of one of the greatest production companies, ever, I post a sad little tale. I'll never see my Spike again but he lives on in my heart and in my fic. Now, back to the foamy drink.
Banner by the wonderful selene2 from banner_grab
Title: The Visual Spectrum: Seeing the Light
Rating: Soft R
Summary: Xander makes a deadly error in judgment and only pieces the puzzle together when it is much too late.
Timeline: Post LMPTM, goes AU after that.
Pairings: Allusions to Xander/Anya romance and Xander&Spike friendship
Warnings: Major character death, abstract stream of consciousness, and allusions of rape and/or possible non-con. *This is not a happy fic!*
Disclaimer: Not mine, wish they were
Beta: crazydiamondsue, who somehow managed to boost my ego, in part insightful wisdom and keep me on track, all in the same sentence.
A/N: This is a stand alone piece but one day I'd like to explore the story further.
A/N 2: This is not at all a shipper fic of any kind although it does deal with Xander's feelings towards Anya and his budding friendship with Spike.
The Visual Spectrum: Seeing the Light
The sky can be many different colors. He has seen his fair share. Deep blazing purple with mandarin highlights streaking across it or midnight blue with milky white needle pricks of light. Now slightly tinged by lavender the sky was a baby powder blue. Which was funny because powder isn’t blue, it’s white. Unless you put something in it to make it blue and then, well, that is just wrong.
But there was nothing in the sky today. Well, the sky had this white film over it, creating a softness to it, like a thin layer of cloud cover even though there was none. Not a one. Not a single cloud. At least as far as he could tell.
From this angle.
It was just a step. One little step. And one makes all the difference. Measure the distance, as he tends to do, and it wouldn’t be more than a foot. Not a real foot. Twelve inches really. He knows why they call it a foot, even though in the present day no one would have a foot that long.
And now it doesn’t really matter.
Not from this angle anyway.
He thought the sky would have looked different for some reason. Maybe the angle of the buildings this far down and twisted around. But it doesn’t. The color stayed the same. Just the same baby powder blue it was before he made that step.
Except now the angle is all wrong.
Angles, important for building. Got to make sure they are right or else you’ll have to start the entire project over. Couldn’t build without the right angles. Can’t build on that. He should know. It is what he does. He can build anything but he mostly loves to build houses.
He always loved to imagine what type of family would live in the new home once he was finished. A couple just starting out on their own, oblivious to the dangers around them or a family with 2.5 kids, a dog and a cat…and what did that equal anyhow?
They are there to protect you. From heat and cold, from strangers you can just lock out. When the taunting and the jabs and the insults became just too much he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him. Running to the only home he knew. Not quite safe, not quite secure, not as strong as he would have liked, but his nonetheless. And that was enough at the time. It kept the imaginary monsters locked outside. They weren’t invited. Only problem was, the real ones inside were just as bad and they had been invited before he even got there. He’d sworn never again. He was wrong.
Home. That was what was important. It was where you were supposed to be safe and loved. Maybe it couldn’t be that way in the original so he built a home, a sanctuary of his own and for awhile, it was just as he wanted it. It wasn’t just as he pictured it would be but then, nothing ever is. But he was safe and happy, at least for awhile. And now, he was neither and never would be.
What a mess. Thumpthump. A bloody pile of flesh, of bone. Thump thump. His mind ran in frantic circles trying to figure out what his body had done without its consent. Thump, thump. The hollowed out cavity that once held love and trust and the essence of his life was still fighting the fight. Thump…thump. The never-ending battle. Thump. Thump. Even though the war was already over. Thump.
He had made this happen. He had changed the angles. When the angles aren’t right, things run in wrong directions, water needs to flow down, not to the side. But this isn’t water and it isn’t going down. It is pooling into his line of sight. Blotting out the powder blue and making the sky black. He would have thought it would make it red but the sky just isn’t there anymore. He focuses on the part he can still see; wanting to change his vision so all he can see is the baby powder blue.
Baby Powder Blue. Sounds nice. Like babies, soft with powder. Babies are nice. Well, when they aren’t crying. Or shitting. Or eating. But still, nice. He’ll never have one now but he always thought he would. One day. But he needed to get rid of the evil in his life first.
He had invited it in; so many times he lost count.
Into his home.
You aren’t supposed to invite it in.
But he always thought he had a handle on it. Until it grew to have a life of it’s own. Who gave it permission to do that? It came in and twisted his life until he couldn’t recognize it anymore. Doesn’t even remember what his life used to be like. Was it better? Worse? The same? Sure there was everyday evil, up close and personal but this evil grew to mammoth proportions.
He never picked his towels off the floor. It was insidious the way that ate at him. He started to do the same with his socks just for payback. It brought out the beast in him. How much more evil could you get then that? But he found a way, always did. Oh, he made it seem like he had changed. And the lie was bought, hook, line, and sinker.
Friends was too strong a word. Compadres? Brothers in arms? Enemies fighting for the same goal would probably fit it best. They never liked each other but lately, towards the end, before he became a pawn for a bigger evil, camaraderie was forming. Probably from living in such close quarters. Practically on top of one another. At least they had kept different hours. That made the awkwardness less…awkward. And more companionable. There was a foundation there to build on. Build…something. There was trust and a shared history. How many times had they saved each other’s lives? Just on a daily basis was astronomical. They had seen the worst of each other and could still stand to be in the same room with one another. Before intervention, the same home. That was more then he could say for…
No he wouldn’t…couldn’t go there. Not real. It wasn’t …not real. But evil was real and it never changed. No matter how many times it said it had.
He remembered the warmth most. It had been a hot day, the sun bright overhead as he worked at the site. Not a cloud in the sky. He had decided to go shopping on his way home to pick up essentials that he and the potentials were running low on; toothpaste, toilet paper, and while browsing the store, he found a little card, with bright sparkles of red, blue and green, dotting across the front and an envelope made of shiny, silver mylar. A ‘Hey, we aren’t going to die in the next apocalypse. Let’s celebrate!’ card. Who knew Hallmark catered to the Hellmouth? So he bought a few. And then a dozen more, just in case. Those little babies might come in handy, he thought.
By the time he made it home, the sun had made its way across the clear sky and was hanging low, just about to start setting. When he got to his door he never even knew that anything was out of place. After all the evil was inside and not splattered on his door.
He entered and heard knocking coming from his room. A steady rhythm of tap, tap, tap. He should have known to just walk away. Nothing ever good came from walking towards that kind of sound. But he was drawn to it. Tap, tap, tap. It was his room after all. No one, not even the no longer evil one, should be in there. He had taken his meager possessions and practically fled, into the waiting chains across town. The potentials knew to stay out, there were things in there teenage girls just didn’t need to know about, not yet.
His heart gave a little jump. Maybe it was her, coming to…what? They had each contributed to the burning of that bridge to the ground. A roaring, fiery death and then they crushed it under foot. No, there was no going back. They’d had their one last time.
No matter what his imagination had come up with in the short time it took to get across his darkened living room, blinds shut tight against the dying daylight, nothing came close to the bleak reality. He paused in the doorway, just not believing. A part of his mind skittered away and locked itself up, determined to never return. Sayonara, sucker! It said. Taking with it the ability to breathe, think, and move.
He stood there, frozen. The weight of the solitary brown paper bag from the store suddenly became too much and it tumbled end over end, past numb fingertips. He stood there. Oblivious to the individually wrapped toilet paper rolling towards safety and the festive cards and mylar envelopes glittering every which way as they fluttered to the ground. Frozen. Just watching in growing horror. Knowing it was somehow All. His. Fault.
He had invited it in, after all.
They say things slow down after a shock and whoever they may be, they must be right, because he noticed the oddest things. The tap, tap, tap had turned into a thump, slurp, thump. The amber light from the setting sun shot through the blinds at an odd angle casting slotted shadows across the room. Even hidden behind the familiar slicked platinum head, the new auburn highlights in her hair that he had yet to see but heard so much about, caught the light just right as it was twisted over the pillows, creating an ethereal glow to it. And there was the leg. The angle was all wrong draped over another man’s body but he would recognize it anywhere. The painted toenails made it painfully clear. Just the color she loved, an odd shade of green he could never place. Not quite the faded olive tone of the money she adored but just a few tints darker, deeper. Almost emerald in its brilliance, with the way the gloss made it shine.
But he should have known what that sound was without the visual though. Hips thrusting languidly beneath crisp white sheets, tangled pale limbs, and soft moans coming…coming. If even a sliver of doubt remained, it was battered out of existence with the flash of glistening fang withdrawing from her soft flesh and the delighted moan escaping from darkened, wet lips.
But this wasn’t right. Wasn’t it supposed to be red? Bright like ketchup spilled all over your shirt when you’ve tried to get it out and it. Just. Won’t. Come. Battering at the bottle till it gives and gives all over you. It isn’t the same but it should be red. Shouldn’t it? But it isn’t.
It is almost black, a deep russet brown making her hair take on a ruddier hue. At least where it wasn’t becoming a matted, gnarled wet mess covering her face. She wouldn’t like that. She always took such great care of herself. Hair, nails, make-up. For a one thousand-year-old demon she sure did know the ways of the modern woman. And he loved her all the more for it. He had loved carding his fingers through her silky hair and over the softness of her skin but now…
It seemed as if his presence was finally noticed but only one body turned to look at him. The other body lay still as the growing thick, dark pool slid over her chest. He followed it with his eyes as it flowed down around and in between her exposed breasts, ran towards the tender flesh of her belly, quickly filling her navel and then falling away off her sides. Still, some had managed to continue the journey downward, beneath the sheet to where they were still joined. Her and It. The evil. The thing he had trusted. Invited in. He should have known. Could he have prevented this? If only-
Movement. It was coming for him. The soiled sheet slowing falling away revealing taut muscles, still coiled tight after their exertion. Pale and gleaming in the dying light from the window, it stood proud and arrogant, taunting him.
The sun slipped beneath the horizon, turning the amber to scarlet. There was no where to go now. The evil was coming and it was coming for him. He did the only thing he knew how to do. The only thing he ever believed he was good at. Even after all these years of training and experience. When it came down to it…he ran.
Shame, hot and bright, struck him hard and tore at his insides. He nearly stumbled under the weight but refused to stop.
He ran so fast that the stairs blurred under his feet. Stairs taking him up and up. How far did they go? All the way? Would the evil follow? Would it know where it look? It should. Even he could smell the horror radiating off of him. And there was no light to stop it now.
No light to hide behind.
He couldn’t hide from himself or from the truth. That he had left her behind. But she hadn’t done a thing, not said a single word, not made a single move. He told himself that, so that he could live with what he had done but it wasn’t working.
He had left her when she needed him most. Just like before. When she was dressed all in silky white and waiting for him. All he had to do was keep hold of her hand and walk down the aisle with her. Maybe if he had, she would have been safe. They could have had that home with the 2.5 kids and the dog and the cat. But they never did because he ran. And now they never would. No, she needed him and he was a coward, saving his own skin while the darkness shrouded her.
Coward. Yellow belly coward, not fit to be in her presence. Yellow, that was what he was. He could practically feel the bright canary feathers flying off him as he fled. And left her behind.
He tore past the ‘Not an Exit’ sign and onto the roof fueled by adrenaline and shame. Running unseeing in circles trying to escape his memories as they relentlessly bombarded him. The first time they met, the first time they argued, the first time they had sex, only his second ever.
And then there was It, the evil he had trusted, shared a home with, fought beside…what of him? Of all the times he could have turned against them and never did. When there were so many chances. When he was a greater evil’s play thing. Why her? Why now? Now that he was free.
He burst through, past the safety chain, as if the devil was on his heals. And this time, it was. Feet scraped for purchase on the loose gravel, tears blurred his vision as he lost his balance, stumbled and fell. Gravel skittered away as he flopped onto all fours, hands and knees speared and scratched. But there was no time. There were footsteps behind, crossing onto the roof, the crunch crunch of the gravel was deafening and only getting louder.
Oh no. It is coming. But if it is, then she must be…gone. She was always so alive and vibrant, how could she be gone? She had plans. He might not have been a part of them for some time but he still wanted her to have those plans come true. Even without him. But now, she never would.
And it was all his fault.
It was all so clear now. Running was pointless. He understood that. There was no where to go. You can’t run away from yourself after all.
So he got up, not bothering to pick out the pieces of gravel from his skin, or brush himself off. As if in a daze, he walked forward and took that step, before the crunch, crunch got any louder and he could see what was coming. He didn’t need to see in order to know what it was. He didn’t want to look in its eyes and see the truth. That he had let this happen. That by inviting it into his life, he let it infect him. Let it invade his home. Let it inside. Evil that he had trusted. That he had kept. Evil that had fought beside him. But evil all the same.
And now that he had felt the crack from the concrete steps and the baby powder blue of the sky was almost hidden behind black pools he played the scene over and over again in his mind. How had he gotten here? He owed that to her after all, and he had nothing else to do but wait. So he played the record of his mind again and again.
Coming home and hearing noises. Being drawn to them like the moth on a one way trip to Flamesville. Watching in horror as the scene unfolded before him; the package falling from his hands, her leg draped over a hip that wasn’t his, the slurping and a guttural moan of completion, the mylar checkerboard that glittered at his feet, the darkness flowing out and dripping off her sides and the evil rising to come after him, standing in the fading light of the sun.
Over and over again until something in his mind clicked. Something that just wasn’t right.
And as the purpling blue sky faded from view and the darkness enveloped him, he understood his mistake.
“Oh. God no.”
The realization hit him harder than any fall, no matter how high the drop. It should have been so simple. It should have been so easy. But the part of his mind that fled, must have been the part paying attention at that particular Scooby meeting.
The very fundamentals of what he had been taught, droned into his mind over and over again, had failed him. What had saved his life countless times. What he had relied upon since the day he knew the horrible truth. Something that had been ingrained in him for years. Was simply gone.
It was as clear as day but he hadn’t seen.
Because the evil inside his home wasn’t a vampire. It was evil in its purest form. And it knew just how to blind him from the truth, how to send him over the edge.
So it got exactly what it wanted.
The Slayer was one more soldier down.
And Xander’s world faded to black.