"It has nothing to do with you," he'd said to Anya, and he'd been tired and hadn't even cared if she believed him or not. So tired that even a vengeance demon's clear brown eyes didn't scare him. Tired the way you got when you'd had the flu for three days or when living with your parents made you so desperate that you snuck out one night through your bedroom window at age twelve and hiked to the bus station and wound up in the police station at eleven p.m., because you'd been stupid enough to say good-bye to your best friend, who turned you in. Only now when you knew about vampires did it seem miraculous you'd lived, been dragged home, met the sunrise, gone to school, fought with Willow, who gave you stubborn eyes and pretended she was to blame when really, hadn't you stopped by her house on the way hoping that she'd turn you in? She was the wise one.
"It has nothing to do with you," he said, and he'd felt the ridiculousness of breaking up with a girl who'd once been a demon. He wasn't good enough for her, not *even* her.
He was afraid she might figure out the not-even part. She wasn't dumb, naïve, not at all the young high-school grad she posed as. She was born again, sort of. And like religious fanatics, the few he'd met to go by, she believed herself and the world to be a fixed and certain way. He had no clue what way. He'd accepted her little by little, in stages, as a girlish ex-demon willing to have fully naked sex with him and then as a kind of convenient girlfriend, then as just Anya. Background noise and then a person. A pushy and successful person. He was still anti-demon on principle, but she smelled nice, smiled pretty, and didn't drag her violent past into his life too often. He was wired to notice the things they had in common, a liking for sprinkles on donuts and the smell of fresh laundry. When she wondered aloud where dimes were minted and if you could visit and get samples he nodded and wondered too. She was easy to talk to.
She'd killed lots of men in lots of ways. No getting around that. And he'd lied when he said it had nothing to do with her. You didn't break up with an ex-demon without it having something to do with her. Some part of him huddling down in the basement of his thoughts was always like, "Whoa. Scary vengeance demon. What the hell am I doing?" A distant voice shouting up through the vent shafts of his mind, trying to get his attention. A call for help.
At the same time, he wasn't good enough even for her. He was confused.
"I'll get over you," she said with certainty. "I'll date older men. Possibly British." She paused and gave that a moment's thought. "Possibly Giles."
"Well, good," he said, glancing over at Giles, who'd frozen with a look of horror on his face. "Great. I'm sure you two kids will be very happy."
He hadn't meant to break up with her in the Magic Box in front of everyone, but she'd forced him to. She moved through the world with such authority, kicking over stones as if by accident to reveal all the squirmy truths hiding underneath. Worms, Roxanne. Worms.
"I've decided that Xander and I are getting married," she'd announced brightly to all of them, smack dab in the middle of the relationship crisis he hadn't yet found a way to tell her about. News to him.
As she put on a brave front it struck him how incredibly like Cordelia she was. He'd had a pattern going and no one had said anything. Bastards.
But the really stupid thing was, the pattern didn't end there. You date one insanely blunt and self-centered girl, move on to another one just like her who also happens to be ex-evil, then you hook up with an ex-evil fiend. There was a chain there, if you looked closely. If he hadn't dated Cordelia first, would he have dated Anya? And if he hadn't dated Anya, would he ever have given Disturbing Crypt Boy a second chance? It was like dominos. Or perhaps dominoes, with an 'e'.
During his relationship crisis he'd picked up a bad habit of kissing Spike. One thing might even have something to do with the other, if he was honest with himself, but he tried to avoid that. It was an embarrassing new thing and he hadn't told anyone yet. Spike knew though, and that was a problem. Not as if he'd macked on a dead sleeping beauty. Oh no. He'd chosen to make out with a highly conscious dead guy who shouldn't be--couldn't be--trusted with a secret.
When Spike heard about the break-up, he turned up at Xander's apartment with a certain look on his face. Smug, Xander was prepared for. Cocky as a quarterback who just won the championship on a scoring pass or whatever the hell quarterbacks did, knowing, smirky, the whole Spike palette, but Spike played dirty; when Xander opened his door, the vampire was half-turned away as if ready to scarper, hoof it, make a mad dash, flee, bolt, but the door opening settled the moment and he looked at Xander, took a breath as if he had a speech prepared, and--and nothing came out of his open mouth. A panicked look hit his eyes. It was fucking adorable.
"You," Xander said with certainty, "are fucking adorable."
Startled, Spike did nothing as Xander walked right up into him and took his mouth.
"There was this girl," Xander said a while later, when he'd managed to peel Spike out of his spiffy leather jacket and wrestle him to bed. "In junior high, Tammy Burris. All the guys said she was the school slut and she'd give you a blow-job if you--"
He lost his thought but it wasn't important. Spike was doing intimate things to him with a serious focus of effort. Xander held two handfuls of vampire curls like blond wood shavings and felt a muscle in his left butt-cheek crimp tightly enough to be painful as he tried not to come. He made himself hold back as long as he could, until he reached that amazing point when his body jerked control out of his hands, a car getting away from him, wheel spinning wild as he accelerated to a crashing orgasm, yesyesyes, over the guardrail, tipping in freefall, bang.
He didn't have a death wish, did he?
I came into a mouth with fangs, he thought, but as he drifted off he forgot why that was special.
Waking up, he felt Spike mashed against him, a dead victim thrown from the crash. He made the vampire wake up too and listen.
"I had this dream," he said. In his dopey state, he was sure that this was vital to explain. "I passed through a check-point and they made me show my license but it was expired. They made me take all these tests--it took forever. And when I got through I knew I couldn't return that way, because they'd catch me. And that was when I realized--"
Spike offered an inquiring crease of brow.
"--I was trapped on a peninsula of the Amish and there was no way back."
Spike stared at him, then rolled over in disgust and went back to sleep.
Well, it had seemed meaningful at the time.