Title: Illumination
Author: Kylia
Fandom: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Genre: Holiday
Relationship(s): Xander/Spike
Content Rating: PG
Word Count: 3663
Summary: Originally written for Lazuli’s Spander Advent 2008; Willow wants to give Xander a present that will help him see things more clearly.

“Why don’t you like her, sweetie?”  Tara asked as she placed another ornament on the tree.  It was the first holiday since both Joyce and Buffy had died and they were doing everything they could to make it special for Dawn.

“It’s not that I don’t like her, exactly,”  Willow said. “It’s more that I don’t think she’s the right person for Xander.  “I think he can do better.”

“This spell you want to do, what exactly does it entail?”  Tara asked warily, concerned whenever Willow talked of doing spells for someone’s own good.

“It isn’t a spell, not really.  More like a charm, to help him see who is right for him.”  Willow admitted.

“To help him see?”  Tara asked cautiously.  “Like the one I did to reveal Auras?” She clarified, feeling not only more mollified by what Willow wanted to do but also that the choice could ultimately be left up to Xander.

“Exactly like that.” Willow nodded pleased Tara seemed to be on board with her idea.  She knew that she tended to get a little obsessed with magic and while she never meant any harm she sometimes didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.  Tara was both her strength and her compass. If Tara agreed then it was because what Willow was asking was neither too difficult, nor too dangerous nor was it too ethically challenging.

“And if Anya is the one it shows him?”  Tara finally asked, making a point that Willow needed to face that possibility.

“She isn’t,”  Willow stated with some degree of certainty.  So much so that Tara wondered for a brief moment if there was some other knowledge driving her desire.

“Okay, it isn’t Anya.”  Tara agreed, for the sake of argument.  “I’ll go to the shop and pick up what we need tonight.  You call Xander and ask him to come over early tomorrow.  We’ll give him our gift and explain what it is then.” Tara kissed Willow on the cheek before standing back to survey the tree to decide if it could be judged finished on not.

“Then it will be up to him,”  Willow whispered and hoped her old friend wouldn’t dismiss her gift out of hand and not use it, or worse yet, use it but ignore any guidance it provided.  I guess all she could do was wait.

“So, what’s going on, my lovely ladies?”  Xander asked as he entered what had once been the Summers’ house.

“We have a gift for you,”  Willow stated handing a small box to Xander.

“And it couldn’t wait until tomorrow night’s party du jour?”  Xander asked, slightly confused. He looked at Tara, hoping for some clarification.  She smiled at him reassuringly but didn’t elaborate.

“We thought it would be best if you opened it alone,”  Willow said quietly.

Xander raised an eyebrow.  “Are we talking kinky toys or magic spells?”  He was only half joking but the moment he said it and saw the expressions on both girls’ faces he took a step backward.

“It’s not a spell,”  Tara said suddenly, trying to reassure, Xander could tell.  “More like a charm.”

“Spell, charm, I’m not sure what the difference is.  I only know that where magic is, Xander’s shouldn’t mix.”

“This is different.”  Willow rushed forward. Holding the present out.  “It’s just a little illumination charm. You don’t have to use it…just if you want to.”

“Okay,”  Xander said slowly.  “I’m missing something.  Illumination charm? What exactly are you hoping to…illuminate for me?”

Willow didn’t answer right away and when a look to Tara wasn’t making anything clearer Xander sighed.  “Wills, is this about Anya?”

Willow looked away and then back quickly.  “What makes you think that?”

“Well, you call me over here, alone, to give me a gift you admit that you think I should open alone.  It’s not a kinky sex toy, and it is magic related, which leads me to believe that this…illumination, whatever it is, is somehow tied into my relationship with Anya.”

“I just think that maybe, just maybe, she’s not the one, for you,”  Willow admitted.

“Will, honey, what makes you so sure there is a one person for everyone?  What makes you so sure that Anya’s not it?”  Willow didn’t answer and Xander looked at the small wrapped box before he slowly pulled the ribbon free and lifted the lid.

Inside the box, nestled in soft fabric was a small crystal.  He raised his eyes to the girls. “How exactly does this work?”

“When you break the crystal, if you break the crystal, it will allow you to see your…”  Willow hesitated not wanting to say something as girly as soul mate or true love, though that was basically what it was for.

Xander blinked.  “See how exactly?  What some shining light from within?  Their souls?”

Tara smiled.  “Sort of. Everyone has an aura.  Some people can see them…everyone’s aura is different.  This charm will help you to see them too.”

Xander thought about that for a second.  He supposed that being able to see someone’s aura might help really seeing someone; what that didn’t explain how the true love angle applied.  Knowing Willow, this was really designed to prove Anya wasn’t his soul mate or some other girly nonsense.

“If you don’t break the crystal, nothing happens.  It’s your decision, Xander.” Tara added.

“I’ll think about it.”  Xander said, at last, placing the lid back on the box.”

Willow hugged him tightly and stepped away.  “Come see what we got Dawn.”

Several hours later, as Xander was getting ready to leave Tara stopped him in the hall by the door.  

“Xander, about the charm…you don’t have to use it.”

Xander smiled at the girl who had stolen his Willow’s heart after Oz had left.  She had lost much of her shyness in the past year, but she was still one of the few truly honest and selfless people Xander had ever met.

“But you think I should.”

Tara paused, considering her words.  “I think if you don’t you’ll always wonder.”

“Is there a time limit on this charm?”  Xander asked, wondering why he didn’t ask earlier, or more importantly why he was asking now if he wasn’t ever planning on using it.

“No.”  Tara hugged him.  “People’s auras are all different, Xander.  If you do this, whatever you’re looking for, you might not recognize it when you see it.  It isn’t like shining lights and goodness. It’s not even like you’re seeing a person’s soul…it’s more complicated than that.”

Xander hugged her back and sighed.  “I will think about it. I promise.”

It was the next afternoon before he took out the box again.  Anya was at the Magic Box and his current work site had closed down early due to incipient bad weather.

He stared down at the innocuous-looking crystal for several minutes before he carefully lifted it out.  Xander could see a faint blue glow emanating from it when he held it up. He thought about just putting it away and hiding it somewhere where even he wouldn’t stumble upon it again, but then he realized Tara was right.  He would always wonder.

Before he could think too hard about it, he threw the crystal against the kitchen floor.  Watching as it shattered Xander wondered if he’d lost his mind. Magic was bad news. Maybe not on general principles but any time magic had come anywhere near him bad things happened.  

At first, it didn’t appear anything had happened.  The crystal had broken, but nothing seemed to change.  The room looked perfectly normal and his worldview didn’t seem to alter drastically.  Not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed, Xander began to clean up the crystal shards.

It wasn’t until he went to wash his hands that he got a look at his arm.  

There was a faint blue glow surrounding his hand and up his arm.  He moved swiftly into the bathroom and took a look into the mirror.  The glow appeared to be surrounding his entire body. It wasn’t overly distracting but still…bizarre.  It was like horror stories he’d heard about acid trips back when he was in high school.

Okay, so maybe it had worked.  Was he supposed to be horrified or relieved?

By the time he arrived at the Magic Box to meet the gang, he had more or less gotten used to the weird vision.  It only affected him when he totally focused on a person. It didn’t even have to be a human person, he discovered.  There was a pair of vampires in the park that looked like some sort of dark pukey green and brown combination and a weird demon when he passed by the bronze that glowed fluorescent pink.  That one took a minute or two to get over. He was only looking that closely at the thing because it was wearing antlers on its floppy ears and Xander was pretty sure it was Spike’s friend Clem.  But fluorescent pink? Really?

When he stepped inside the shop he cautiously looked around, not sure what he was going to see when he looked at his friends.  Dawn was the only one in the room. She was glowing a pale green color which didn’t surprise him considering some of the things Glory’s crazy people had said when they saw her.

She ran up and gave him a hug and he tried not to look at what happened when their two colors mixed.  He wasn’t sure he was ready to see his aura, or whatever it was mix with anything else.

“Where is everyone?”  Xander asked looking around the empty shop.

“Willow went out to buy more eggnog; Tara is making sure everything is locked up downstairs.  Anya said she had to go get something, but she didn’t say what.” Dawn shrugged.

Before Xander could comment Tara came in from Buffy’s old training room, now just used for storage.  Xander stared at her and had to blink a couple of times. “You’re purple.” He said without thinking.

Tara smiled shyly.  “You used the charm.”

Dawn looked from one of them to the other and was about to ask what he was talking about when the front doors burst open.

“Let go!”  Spike snarled as he came inside, followed quickly by Anya.

“Don’t be a baby. If you would have just come along willingly….” She saw Xander and smiled.  “Look who I brought.”

Xander blinked, unsure of what was more bizarre; the sight of his girlfriend seemly dragging the cranky undead into the Magic Box or the sight of the weird colors radiating off the two of them.

Anya was glowing an oddly bright orange color that he didn’t think actually existed in nature.  Spike was…fluctuating. He kept shifting colors, going from a deep blue, almost black color to a dark maroon, then to a dark indigo and then back to the blue.  It was kind of mesmerizing.

“Xander?  Hello? Xander!”  Anya waved an orange glowing hand in front of his face.

He blinked.  “Um, yeah.” He turned back to Tara looking hopefully at her.  “So when’s Will gonna be back so we can get this party started?”

Xander spent most of the evening alternating between trying not to stare at his friends and trying to get close enough to touch them without raising suspicions.  He had the strangest desire to touch everyone and see what kind of colors they could make together.

He’d accidentally brushed up against Willow twice and Tara was giving him these knowing little smiles.  He’d managed to not be alone with Anya for more than a few minutes but he wasn’t sure why he was actively trying to avoid it.  

Was it because of the weird colors he kept seeing surrounding every one?  Or was it because he was having trouble wrapping his brain around why Anya thought dragging Spike to what basically amounted to a family gathering constituted a gift.  A gift for who exactly?

“Xander.  I’ve been looking for you.”  Anya announced as she came down to the storage room where Xander had fled after the melding of colors had started to get to him.

“Hey, Ahn.  What’s up?”

Anya came further into the room and hugged him.  Xander tried not to visibly flinch away. He’d discovered earlier when she kissed him upstairs that his own blue did not mix well with Anya’s fluorescent orange.  He wasn’t sure if that said anything important about them or not.

“What’s wrong with you?  You’ve been acting weird all night.”  Anya frowned at him.

“Weird how?”  Xander manfully did not squeak, but just barely.

“You’ve been staring at everyone.  Are you high?” Anya stepped closer eyeing him with deep suspicion.

“What?  No! I’m just…there was this…”  Xander sighed. “There was a crystal, from a charm.”

“A charm?”   Anya repeated looking at him carefully.  “A love charm?” Xander nodded. “You did a love charm?  Why?” She sounded hurt.

“It was a gift from Willow and Tara.  I wasn’t going to use it, but then I thought…”

“What exactly, Xander?  You thought what? That you don’t really love me so you’d cast a love spell.”  She was starting to raise her voice but not enough to be heard above the holiday music playing upstairs.

“It’s a charm, not a spell,”  Xander said weakly.

“You don’t even know the difference!”  Anya wiped her eyes as she continued to stare at Xander.

“I know.”  He admitted.  “They said it would show me…auras.”  He hesitated, not sure if that was what he was seeing or not.

Anya blinked.  “Is that why you’ve been staring at everyone?  You can see their auras?”

Xander nodded.  “Yeah.”

“But…”  She hesitated.  “Every time I touch you, you…wince.”  She took a step closer to him and watched his face as her hand clasped his.  He didn’t move, but his eyes had widened and he swallowed as if bracing himself.

“Our auras don’t fit, do they?”  Anya asked quietly. “What color am I?

“Orange,”  Xander answered just as quietly.  “Mine is blue.”

Anya nodded once and stepped backward.

“It doesn’t mean anything,”  Xander said. “This will wear off and everything will go back to how it was before.”

“But you’ll know that we don’t belong together and now I will too,”  Anya said sadly. “I love you Xander, but maybe I’m not in love with you.  Maybe you’re not in love with me either.”

“So you think we should just break up?”  Xander asked, not sure how his need a few minutes of privacy had turned into breaking up with his girlfriend.

“Yeah, I think we should.”  She whispered before kissing him quickly on the cheek and disappearing up the stairs.

Tara made her way downstairs thirty minutes after Anya had left.  “Are you going to hide down here all night?”

“Can I?”  Xander asked wryly.

“Well, you could, but since Will and I were gonna take Dawn home now, it seems kind of pointless.”

Xander cringed slightly.  “Is Dawnie upset?” Xander asked.

“Not really.  She thinks you’ve embraced your big gay love for Spike and Anya set your free to make you happy.”

Xander blinked.  “She does not!”

“She really, really does,”  Willow added as she joined them.  “Come on, say goodbye before she starts to spread her imaginative little drama to Spike and then you’ll really be in trouble.”

“Oh, God!”  Xander nearly ran back up the stairs afraid of what he’d find when he got there.  

“Oh. Look, he decided to come out.”  Spike smirked from where he sat on the stairs.  “Told you he was fine, little bit.”

Dawn ran to Xander and hugged him tightly.  “Are you okay?” She pulled away and looked at him carefully.  “Willow told us about her gift after Anya left. I think it’s great.”

“Yeah, great,”  Xander muttered hugging her back.

“Come on.  I want to get home before we require an escort.”  Willow said smiling at Xander. “We’ll talk tomorrow, mister.”

Xander smiled back.  Regardless of the fact that she had made the gift, it wasn’t her fault what had happened.  The fact that he had chosen to break the crystal was completely his own doing and whatever had happened with Anya might have been a long time in coming.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been so easily done, would it?

Once the Magic Box door had closed Xander chanced a glance up at the stairs where Spike was still sitting, idly playing with an unlit cigarette.  The colors were still shifting but he was able to look past them and just see Spike. The vampire’s lips were twisted in a smirk but his eyes weren’t as mocking as Xander expected them to be.

“You probably want to know what all of that was about, huh?”  Xander asked moving slowly to the stairs.

“The birds convinced you to try a Rygellian love charm.  It allows you to see the auras of those around you. The idea is to see how you fit into the fabric of their lives.  It’s not strictly a love charm you know. It works just as well for determining partnerships in business or just close friendships.”

Xander blinked in shock.  The girls hadn’t told him any of that.  He had had many doubts over the past few years about where Spike fit into their little group, partially because he was a vampire and partially because of the gaping hole Buffy had left in their lives.  However, once Buffy was gone, Spike had stayed.

He’d done what he’d promised and did his best to help them keep things together.  Giles was only a phone call away but it wasn’t the same thing as having to deal with the day to day stuff of raising a teenager not technically related to you, on a Hellmouth.

One of the things Xander had learned about Spike recently was that he was a lot smarter than he was comfortable with people knowing, and he knew many things about the supernatural world, things that Buffy and Giles had never prepared them for.

“Anya discovered that maybe the two of you didn’t fit together quite as well as you thought.”  Spike continued. “That about cover it?”

Xander nodded as he took a step closer.  “Can I…touch you?” He asked hesitantly; already reach a hand towards the vampire.

Spike stood up and reached his own hand out but stopped just before they would have touched.  “Why? Does whatever you see when you look at me change how you see me?”

“Illumination.”  Xander whispered.

“What?”  Spike frowned.

Xander moved his eyes from Spike’s hand to his blue eyes.  “The girls, they said it was an illumination charm. This thing…but they were wrong.  It didn’t…illuminate anything; it just…allowed me to see what was already there.”

Spike scowled slightly.  “What exactly are you trying to say?”

“I have no idea,”  Xander admitted. “Can I touch you now?”

Spike nodded and allowed his fingers to brush Xander’s.

Xander swallowed the gasp trying to crawl out of his throat.  He’d touched Spike before. Most times, not all of it in a non-violent way, but this was different.  The moment their skin touched Spike’s fluctuating colors sped up quickly going from indigo to maroon to black then back to blue before they just stopped.  Their two auras seemed to blend together until it was just one, a combination of Spike’s indigo and Xander’s lighter blue.

“What do you see?”  Spike asked, moving his hand so their fingers were nearly intertwined.

“Us.”  Xander whispered before taking his free hand and grabbing the vampire to pull him closer and into a kiss neither one of them were prepared for.

When Xander woke up the next morning he was not alone, but neither was he seeing colors so he counted it as an improvement.  For about two seconds he wondered who he was in bed with, knowing almost instinctually that the arms around him did not belong to Anya.

He could feel the tension in the body behind him which told him more about Spike’s state of awareness than anything else.  “Hey.” He whispered and turned to face him.

“You still seeing colors?”  Spike asked roughly, loosening his grip slightly.

“No.”  Spike started to pull away.   “Don’t,” Xander asked though he didn’t try and physically restrain him.

“Why not?”  Spike asked in confusion.

“I’m not…illuminated anymore,”  Xander said wryly, “but that doesn’t mean it changes any of the reasons why this happened in the first place.”

Spike sighed unnecessarily.  “You lot are more confusing than ten Drusilla’s.”  

Xander laughed.  “I guess that means we’re made for each other then.”  He frowned suddenly. “Hey. Anya never said why she dragged you into the shop yesterday.  Did she say anything to you?”

Spike snorted.  “Your ex-girlfriend seemed to think I was moping all alone in my crypt and it was the human thing to do to bring me to your little holiday gathering.  I don’t think she thought it would end up like this though.” He laughed, motioning between the two of them, still naked beneath the sheets.

“I hope not.”  Xander laughed, knowing he should be way more worried about the way things had ended up than he did, but maybe some things did happen for a reason.

“Come on, let’s go take a shower.  We better go see Dawnie and let her squeal at us, get it out of her system.”  Xander climbed out of bed and held out a hand for Spike. When the vampire didn’t move, just looked at him oddly he frowned.  “What? There’s sewer access. I promise I’m not trying to fry you.”

Spike shook his head.  “No, that’s not it. I’m just surprised you want to tell everyone.”

Xander shrugged.  “I’ve learned secrets don’t work so well with this group.  Come on.” He continued to hold out his hand.

Spike finally took it and allowed him to be pulled into the bathroom.

Maybe Christmas wishes did come true.


One Comment:

  1. That was sweet. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

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