Inner Moppet
by Voleuse

The difference between vamps in California and vamps in England is that Xander's cold, and he's missing an eye.

It's a big difference.

It's the middle of the night in a London alley, and Xander's feeling his age in a way he swore would never come to pass. He's bleeding, his bones ache, and there's a vampire eyeing him like a very special powdered donut.

A slayer or two would make all the difference in the world, but it's just Xander, the vamp, and Xander's emergency stake. Fourteen minutes ago he'd heard laughter on the street, but now there's only lethal silence. There are never any witnesses, at least never any that stick around to help.

It's between the third and the fifth slam against the wall that Xander manages to wedge the stake into the vamp's throat, and it hisses blood. Lets him go, and drops to its knees, and Xander can't see anything human about it. Can't see anything but the monster.

He can't move, doesn't run as he watches it fall, clutching at its neck. Sees it start to pull the stake out, and draws his foot back. Kicks its hands away, kicks the stake deeper, and then he keeps on kicking. And kicking.

And kicking.

He works into a rhythm, and the vamp has only just stopped grunting in counterpoint when Xander is shoved aside with a curse, and Giles is there. There's a quick, knifing gesture, and then there's only ashes.

Xander wilts a little, lost, before he gets slammed into the wall again. Not viciously, this time, but still. Slammed into the wall with love feels just the same as for other reasons.

"What the hell do you think you were doing?" Giles sounds oddly like Spike for a moment, but Xander's distracted by the pain.

"Giles," he winces at talking, "ow."

Instantaneously, the harsh support of Giles' fists is gone, and Xander is sliding down the wall like sandpaper. He looks up at Giles, and he looks grey on the edges, and there's no hint that he's smiled, ever.

"Let's get you home."


It takes Xander a little while before he recognizes this safehouse. It's yet another hole-in-the-wall apartment, stocked with stakes, medical supplies, and not much else. Rebuilding the Council, Giles and Willow had decided the best changes start at home.

Xander remembers liking the idea, adolescent visions of James Bond becoming reality in the most mundane of ways.

He remembers stocking this one, in particular, and smiles at the godawful sofabed, complete with a blanket still smelling of mothballs. Willow hadn't liked it, but she cast her mojo through the room all the same.

Thief-safe, vamp-proof, and glamoured the fuck out. A slayer haven.

Or a place for their friends to bleed.

Xander's spread out on the sofa, and he's not sure when that happened. It feels dreamlike, sinking into the cushions, Giles muttering in the background. He's blurry with the pain, so he can't tell if Giles is invoking something or just pissed.

In a second, though, there's salve and sting and he doesn't care whether Giles called down the goddess of desk lamps, as long as he can stay sitting in the sofa with cloth pressed against his forehead. And if she can heal a cracked rib or two, so much the better.

"Thanks, G-Man," he says, gazing thankfully at the man who wields morphine in the palm of his hand. He wonders if Giles would allow him a shot of brandy to wash the pills down.

Then he looks into his eyes. Shivers.

And sets his jaw.

Giles doesn't even speak before Xander responds to the wordless accusation.

"Fuck you, Giles." He snatches the painkillers from Giles, and swallows them dry. "I know what I'm doing."

"Right." Giles backs away from the sofa, leans against the wall with hands in his pockets. "That's why I found you beating an already-incapacitated vampire into pulp. And why you look like you've been run over by an extraordinarily large demon."

"A man can't go for a walk?"

"If he wants to get killed."

"I don't need a babysitter!" Xander flings his arm out, collides with an unidentified object on the side table, and hears it crash to the floor, shattering. "I can take care of myself."

Giles doesn't flinch.

"I can." Xander stares at the shards of pottery, scattered on the floor like roses.

"Obviously." Drier than drought, and Xander winces at the scrape of it. "Did you want to get yourself killed?"

"A little bit, yeah." A glass of water appears in front of his nose, and Xander takes it from Giles with a sigh. "Not really, but kind of."

"I know the feeling." Giles sits next to Xander, leaning into the sofa slowly. "After Jenny died. Joyce. Buffy. And others."

Xander swishes the water in its glass, watches as drops spin out, splashes onto the floor. "I don't know what you mean."

"Xander." Giles takes the glass back, sets it on the table.

He can't meet his eyes, chooses to examine his knee as it bounces, as he taps his feet against the ground.

"Xander," Giles sounds quiet, quieter than usual. "I miss her, too."

Xander grows still, nervous movements freezing like honey.

"I miss Anya, too."

When Xander breaks, it's like the tides, tears rushing out until he gasps. His entire body shakes, and he clings to Giles desperately, sobbing into his neck like a child.

When he's finally able to breathe without hiccuping, he pulls his head back a fraction, meaning to apologize. He finds his mouth an inch away from Giles' own, and feels oddly comfortable with that.

He watches Giles' lips curve into a smile, and feels his breath fan across his face.

"Thanks," he says.

Giles shakes his head. "Thanks aren't needed."

He draws back, and Xander feels bereft.

"Just," Giles picks up the glass of water, "just don't go out at night anymore." Takes a sip. "Not alone."

"A man can't go for a walk?" Xander knows the way the world works, and he knows theirs is a lot different. He can't help but ask.

"If he wants to get killed."


"Xander," and Giles reaches out. Takes his hand. "We can't lose you."

Xander smiles, squeezes Giles hand softly.

"I can't lose you, too."

Xander nods, at that, and leans against Giles' shoulder with a sigh.

For that short while, he feels safe, and that will have to be enough for now.


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