"It is required of every man," the ghost returned, "that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and, if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death." - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
First Verse: Past
The first time it happened he was fairly certain he was dreaming. Although there wasn't any creepy man offering him cheese, there was a particularly memorable bleached menace watching him from a shadowy corner. If it had not been for the smirk on that face, he would have thought it was a nightmare.
It had been scarcely a month after the destruction of Sunnydale, and he had only just begun his lonely travels through Africa searching for lost junior Slayers. The Saharan nights were feverishly hot and didn't allow for soundless sleep. The days of endless searching were better suited to the chaos in his mind during that time. When he wasn't lost, he was being chased after by tribal elders being accused of witchcraft.
It was after one of those frustrating and fruitless days that Spike appeared before him looking as timeless as he ever did in his long black duster coat and slicked back blonde hair. Xander had been too exhausted, even in his booze-induced dreams, to muster up any sort of snark or protest. He just watched as the ghost looked upon him with an oddly soft, gentle smile. With a small shake of his head, the baritone voice finally spoke out.
"What the hell are you doing to yourself, Pet?"
Xander turned to follow the ex-vampire as he glided over to crouch in front of a small crate on the floor that'd been placed haphazardly beside his bedding. A pale white, and long fingered hand ran above the empty shot glass and a knocked over bottle of rum. The blonde let his arms rest across his bent knees, and with a lift of the eyebrow asked,"Come now, where is your bottle of Jack? Isn't that what your father favored?"
Xander paled at hearing that, but what could he say? It was true... Captain Morgan had become his new best friend. Plus, rum was cheap, and Xander liked it. He stayed silent, but sent a mutinous glare at the bleached blonde menace.
He watched as the ghost idly wandered around his small tent, carefully examining things without touching. Every so often raising a disdainful eyebrow at one item or another. This went on for several more minutes before Xander finally sighed noisily, unable to take the thick silence anymore, and finally said in a quiet voice, "Dead boy, what the hell do you want?"
A little laugh was the first response before an amused voice responded, "Now that's one I haven't heard in ages." A soft sigh escaped before he looked back at Xander with sad eyes and said, "The question Xander, is what do you want?" He let that sink in for a moment before adding, "You're off to a fine start so far. All you have left to do for this traditional Harris Christmas is to drag your sleeping bag out under the stars."
With a smirk, the apparition disappeared in the stunned silence.
"It matters little," she said, softly. "To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve." - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Second Verse: Present
Xander saw Spike a few more times over the next couple days. He would never speak, and seemed to only be there to observe. Truth be told, his negotiations with various parents and elders concerning training for the mini Slayers had slowed because of those visits. Apparently people aren't used to strange pale men appearing out of nowhere.
Xander had also been drinking less. Every time he picked up his glass, much less looked at a bottle booze, he could just see the smirk on Spike's face. Bastard. He manages to ruin every good thing in his life, even after he's dead.
Not drinking every night also had forced him to think. The first and most obvious was reflecting on his family (or rather lack of it). Coming out here was supposed to be about forgetting. He was the solitary child, neglected by his friends and family. But perhaps this was his chance for a fresh start now that he was finally away from the influence of said family and friends.
So what did he want to do with his life now he was all grown up? One night, fresh from a bath, he sat down to start planning just that. He wrote down his interests, and his skills (which were surprisingly many, and varied considering his past). He even contemplated his dreams of old.
It was upon this scene that Spike next appeared. Now considering that he was awake, and most definitely sober, he knew that he wasn't dreaming. But, he wasn't sure that was any better considering the alternative. His eyes widened with that realization, "Oh my God. You're really here."
Spike gave him a small smile, but didn't answer directly. Instead he said, "You clean up rather well." Xander blushed an embarrassing pink at the slow perusal of his bare chest. With a tilt of his head and a pointed glance at his notes, he continued, "Making some changes?"
Xander looked down at this, not quite ready to admit anything. But he found himself answering regardless, barely nodding his head as he fiddled with a corner of his notebooks. He heard a soft sigh before a breeze brushed past his shoulder.
From behind him, Spike once again asked, "So have you decided what you're doing here yet?"
The brunette didn't answer this time either, but actually met his eyes this time. Those eyes were such a clear and vibrant blue. He'd always thought that the vampire had such startling eyes. It was one reason he always had trouble meeting them. This time he searched (for what he wasn't sure) but the answer was there all the same.
He asked a question of his own, "What I'd really like to find out is what you are doing here? Why are you tormenting me?"
"Oh, Pet, you don't know torment. I honestly hope you never do." Xander was shocked to note that he was completely serious. It seemed that death changed a person.
The reminder of his original question got him back on track. "Not that I don't appreciate the visit Marley, but I'm curious how you ended up coming to me. I would think the first person you would visit is Buffy. Or at least give Captain Forehead a hard time." Spike snorted at that and smiled at him.
"I did actually, and I'm currently stuck haunting my dearest Sire. However, that's a story for another time." Spike took a couple steps closer and said softly, "It was you that I was most curious about. For the one who always sees, you seem bloody determined to remain blind."
Xander actually smiled at that. He had it coming. It was the one thing, something he would have not readily admitted, that used to scare him the most about the vampire. They could both see into the heart of the matter quickly. In a lot of ways, they often played the same role. He finally answered, "I know that now. And thank you."
Spike nodded his head. He stepped back before saying, "I have to go soon. Just give it some thought; I want your answer some day." After a moment more of studying the man, he turned towards the doorway.
Xander spoke up quickly, "When will I see you next?"
Spike paused momentarily, and turned his head to the side. He hesitated before answering, " I'm not sure, but I will be back." Those bright blue eyes met his once more before adding, "For you I will be back."
The ghost turned back to the door and disappeared from one step to the next.
"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?" - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Last Verse: Future
He didn't see Spike again for a year and a day. He was shocked to see him walk up to him rather than appearing out of nowhere. Seeing those bright eyes, and happy smile directed at him made his stomach flutter. He smiled back, and greeted the blonde, "Long time no haunt."
Spike caught up with him in the front yard of his London cottage, and he felt warm arms surround him in a tight hug. Tears for his friend gathered in his eyes as he gasped out a question, "But... how? Is this real?"
A kiss to his cheek before that warm baritone voice answered, "Real enough, kitten. But that's a story for another time." Xander stepped back finally, rolling his eyes at the non answer. Spike, of course just smirked.
Spike followed him into his house, silently accepting the offered drink (nonalcoholic, naturally). They sat in comfortable silence on the little couch in the front room.
Xander quirked a smile at his visitor and said, "You clean up rather nice." He really did, too. Gone was the black shirt, jeans, and duster. This time he was wearing soft grey trousers, and a sweater just a couple shades darker than his eyes.
His answer was a simple smile. Spike raised an eyebrow before asking, "Have you figured out yet what you're doing here?"
With a small laugh, Xander answered, "Waiting for you." He self-conciously struggled a bit, but didn't drop his eyes. "It seems like such a simple question, but I've had a lot to think about."
Taking another sip of his drink, he gave it some thought before continuing, "I've spent my whole life doing everything for other people. So I suppose I should thank you. Maybe this time around I can finally do something for myself." It had been a tough year for sure, but he was certain it would be worth it in the end.
After the last time Spike visited, he had packed off the last of the slayers and returned to the new headquarters in England within two weeks. A month, and arguments with four angry friends later, he had finally settled into a place of his own.
With the help Anya's bank account, and a bit of soul searching, he decided to buy a little cottage and settle into college life. He wasn't sure where he was going with it all, but he had time. Maybe he would become a teacher.
Xander shook himself out of his musing and found Spike watching him. "Why don't you stay for Christmas? I've already got dinner cooking, and there's plenty for both of us."
Spike took his hand and held it gently before answering, "I'd love to, Pet. Thank you."
"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!" - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Merry Christmas everyone!!!
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