Summary: At ten, he was taught how to be a man, in more ways then one.
Timespan: Takes place during Spike's stay at the Basement of Doom, Season 4.
Warning: fic-let contains child abuse in the following forms: sexual, emotional, and physical.
Note: I must say, I never thought I could write something even remotely like this. Hope it doesn't come across as... Cheesy.
'By the age of five, he had learned to not cry when he scraped a knee. Big boys didn't cry. At the age of eight, he had learned that he would never be smart, no matter how much he studied. By the time he was nine, he knew the damage a wire hanger could cause to the flesh of the thigh. At ten, he was taught how to be a man, in more ways then one.
He could remember that night perfectly. It was his birthday, he had finally reached a double digit: 10. He was given cake, with chocolate frosting. His friends were there, each bringing him gifts. It was the perfect day, thankfully without any clowns. Then night fell, and he felt rather proud of himself. He hadn't made his father mad all day. His mother did not drink herself into a stupor, not yet anyway. He climbed into bed that night with a smile.'
Xander looked over at Spike, watching as the vampire fiddled with the remote control. He watched as those pale fingers pressed button after button, surfing through the three channels that Xander received, before resorting to removing the batteries for entertainment. Xander looked away, allowing his eyes to travel to the doorway of his basement home.
Xander's eyes went back over to Spike. Spike was now juggling the batteries was vampiric grace.
"Why don't you go out?" Xander offered. Spike fumbled with the batteries a moment, before sending Xander a suspicious gaze.
"Umm... Because?" Xander replied, glancing up at his basement door.
"No, don't feel like it." Spike said, smirking. Xander glared. "What? Is it so hard to believe that I want to stay here with you, pet?"
"I'm giving you a chance to go out, Spike, why aren't you taking it?" Xander countered.
"Rather stay here and see what's got you so anxious." Spike admitted. "Got the ex-demon bird coming over, then?"
"Anya broke up with me." Xander muttered, falling back onto his bed. He stared up at the ceiling, listening to Spike shift around in his seat. He tried to ignore the vampire, listening in on the sounds above. Someone was in the kitchen.
'It was past midnight when he awoke. He could hear someone entering the room, but the darkness kept him from identifying the person. He wasn't allowed a night-light. Big boys weren't afraid of the dark.
Rough hands, the smell of whiskey. He said not a word, knowing things could get much worse. Almost gentle words were whispered in his ear, followed by a warning in a soft tone. He held his breath, allowing those hands to manhandle him into what he assumed was a desired position. He knew not to cry.
Big boys didn't cry.'
Xander watched as Spike walked into the bathroom, humming what sounded like the Sex Pistols. He turned away, looking down at the employment ads in his hands. He could see Spike brushing back his hair, using Xander's brush. The vampire was looking into the mirror, as though he could see his reflection. Xander tried not to laugh at Spike's antics. The vampire was, if nothing else, a point of amusement.
Sighing, Xander tossed the ads away. He looked over at the wall, staring at the calendar that hung from it's thumbtack like a large sign that demanded attention. The red circle could not be denied, drawn on the same date of every month. Xander cringed as he looked at it.
"Looks like I won't be meeting the rent this month." He muttered to himself. The banging of dishes drifted down from the kitchen. Shaking his head, Xander turned back to his resident vampire. Spike was now sitting in the bathroom, polishing his beloved Doc Martins.
'He didn't really know why it was happening to him. He recognized his father's voice, his father's hands. Soft and gentle, and yet holding him down so he couldn't move. He didn't breath. Didn't tense up. He laid limp, waiting to see what punishment he would be dealt next.
He didn't know what it was he did to deserve what happened next. The pain. The violation. And later, when he was able to stumble to the bathroom, the blood. But he didn't say a word. Instead he bit down on the inside of his cheek and squeezed his eyes closed.
Because big boys didn't cry, no matter how much it hurt.'
Spike had stripped down to only his black jeans, lounging in the Chair of Doom like it was the most comfortable item in the world. He had played with nearly everything in reach, before finally giving into the boredom and choosing to watch Xander. Xander was content in merely staring back.
"Why won't you go out?" Xander asked once more, standing so he was able to pace nervously.
"Why do you want me to?" Spike asked in reply. Xander shot him an annoyed glare. "Something bothering you?"
"Don't pretend to even care, Spike." Xander snapped, before falling back onto his sofa-bed. There was a crash from the first floor and Spike watched with interest as Xander flinched.
"'M not stupid, whelp." Spike suddenly stated, ignoring the look Xander was giving him and choosing instead to close his eyes in false slumber. "I know what's going on around here."
'At ten years and one day old he learned what it meant to keep a real secret. Wire hangers cutting into his skin. Fists wrapped around his arms. It was nothing, and now he knew. Now he understood.
Now he could stand strong, because nothing could measure up to this.
And until he was in his sophomore year he did. He was strong. He didn't cry. Big boys didn't cry. And his father proved to him night after drunken night that he was no longer little. He was a big boy. He was a man.
Then the hyena came and showed his father what a real man was. Beat him into submission. And he was free of the pain. He was free of the chains that bound him, telling him he had to stay quiet. But still he didn't cry.
Because big boys never cried and he couldn't escape that.'
"And what would that be, Spike?" Xander asked in a tired voice.
"You should move out." Was Spike's reply, and Xander was no longer amused by Spike's presence. Because Spike's tone was just this side of concerned. "Can't touch you if you move out."
"I'm sure he'd be willing to prove you wrong." Xander whispered as another crash, followed by his mother cursing loudly, echoed from above. Spike opened his eyes, the blue coloring looking dark in the dim lighting. Their eyes connected for a moment, both equally stubborn, before a bang of fist against wood interrupted the stare.
Xander jerked in surprise as the door to the basement flew open, light flooding his so-called home like a lighthouse shining on the sea. Spike stiffened in his chair, then slowly stood and walked into the bathroom. It shut with a soft click behind him, echoing in Xander's ears. And Xander understood. Spike wasn't leaving him, he was simply keeping his father from seeing the vampire. That would, no doubt, only serve to anger him further and Spike, what with the chip, was in no position to defend pathetic Xander Harris. Taking a deep breath, Xander turned back to the doorway, where his father's shadow descended and his mother's distant crying was heard.
'By the age of nineteen, he learned that what once was, could no longer be. While he father ignored him for three years, it couldn't last forever. The fear of the hyena was gone. And now his father had a real reason to punish him. Moved him to the dark place under the house in order to lower his spirit, then set a deadline.
Thirty-one days between each and every encounter. If the price was met, he was set free for another month to enjoy life as much as he could. If he failed to present payment, his father would take a replacement.
It still hurt. He still bit the inside of his cheek so he didn't scream. And he never cried. Big boys didn't cry. And now he knew that it wasn't the pain that threatened to bring tears to his eyes. It was the words.
Because Daddy loved him and this was why he was born. He had no other use.'
Later, Xander would try to tell Spike that it wasn't him. He wasn't the one that did it. He wasn't that strong on his own. It was because Spike was there and Xander just couldn't handle knowing that Spike knew. He couldn't stand the idea that Spike was there when it happened. So, for the first time in his life - not counting the hyena, because that really wasn't him in the first place, he fought back.
Maybe it was the shock of Xander raising his fist to him. Xander wouldn't, and couldn't, ever know. All he did know is that for once his father showed fear, and it was toward him.
And when Spike exited the bathroom to see Mr. Harris in a pile of his own blood and Xander curled up in the corner, he didn't comment on the tears. He never once said that big boys didn't cry. Instead, he pulled Xander into his lap and rocked him. Allowed him the small chance to cry and weep and show weakness.
Months later, when Xander finally allowed himself to be touched again, no one was that surprised to find that it was Spike. Spike, who never once stopped Xander from crying or showing how much he was in pain. Spike, who allowed Xander to show every emotion imaginable in his presence, but to never break.
By the time Xander was twenty-one, he learned what it meant to be loved. Because he was born to be loved, just not the kind of love that his father had forced him to accept.