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21 June 2009 @ 01:24 pm
Five Times People Noticed Xander's Bruises didn't all come from Patrol (1/1)  
Title: Five Times People Noticed Xander's Bruises didn't all come from Patrol
Rating:  R
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Xander/Cordelia, Xander/Faith, Xander and Angel, Xander and Spike, Xander and Oz
Warnings: Violence, sex and very ugly language
Length: ~1500
Icon: by 
A/N: I'm extremely honoured to have been nominated for the
White Knight awards. Thanks to whomever did this, it made my whole week.

I'm also extremely honoured to have been nominated for round two of
Absence of Light. Thanks so much to you, kindly anonymous nominator.

Absence of Light Awards

Cordelia Chase had always had the money to avoid seeing what she didn’t want to see. Poverty. Homelessness. People who couldn’t shop Rodeo Drive.

The first time she had seen Xander in his speedos her heart had fluttered at the way he fit in to the perfect narrative she had about boyfriends who scored big at high school sports. And the way he fit into the speedos.

The third time she had seen Xander in his speedos she nearly dropped the protein shake she had lovingly bought for him from a local health food place.

He had been at home every night, sleeping off Coach Marin’s insane practice schedule. So where did the bruise come from? The one that spread across his cappuccino-foam skin like the navy of her favourite Chanel handbag.

She saw, for the first time, what a boy who spent his Christmases under the stars might be avoiding. What the fallout from living with two messy drunks might be. She would have paid to have those visions taken away from her.


It was hard work getting your happies with an inexperienced teenage boy, but Faith reasoned that Xander was here in her motel room and if that wasn’t the universe tossing her a snackfuck then she didn’t know what.

As she yanked off his shirt and pushed him onto the bed in one slick move, she was trying to work out if everything she needed him to know could be shown instead of told. Then she froze.

The bruises on his arms were dark against the grimy sheets. Finger marks, each one distinct, and Faith didn’t have to be told that someone had grabbed and shaken him until his teeth mashed together and his head cracked off the wall. Funny, given that she and B had been taking care of the vamps by themselves for weeks.

Her gaze slid off his. She couldn’t stand to see the shame in his brown eyes.

I thought we had a connection.

She ruthlessly clamped down on thoughts of her stepfather as she climbed out of her underwear. Thinking about him while she was fucking was the shortest route to the nuthouse she could conceive of.

It wasn’t until afterwards when they were lying across Faith’s rumpled sheets, with the sweat cooling on their bodies, that she realised that her own body had betrayed her yet again. In the moment she had run her hands over Xander like he was a precious jewel; tracing her fingers down his arms with a feather light touch. The look on his face had nearly jerked a sob from her throat and she had to get him out of her motel room now, now, now.


He knew Tony Harris was a piece of work from the fact that Xander smelt more of fear when Angel walked him home than he ever did on patrol.

He’d opened his mouth on more than one occasion to tell Xander about Liam’s father. To express some solidarity with the half-boy half-man struggling with the father-son dynamic. To tell him that, yes, Liam had been all kinds of asshole but that something had broken in him the day he opened his sister’s bedroom door to see his father on top of her; had lent a different flavour to his father’s hard breathing as he beat him.

His demon was a thousand times more familiar with the other side of the equation. He had tormented children in every way it was possible to imagine: like a trawler leaving behind a thin strip of churning water, he had left debasement and defilement in his path.

The books the Scoobies pored over were unflinching in their descriptions of Angelus and, even with Giles running interference, Angel knew that Xander must know that he had emptied himself into every available man, woman and child across Europe, Asia and the Americas. He knew that Xander must know about the torture and the beatings and the death.

Maybe Xander saw most clearly the ambiguities in Angel. Maybe Xander reasoned that Angel couldn’t ever properly relate to humans again with the scent of their terror curled into his brain like cigar smoke into a club chair. Maybe he was right.

The smell of Xander’s fear tickled a part of Angel that he couldn’t and wouldn’t describe to Buffy or Giles. And so he kept walking him home.


They were always too late, those educational films that schools showed. Sex education long after your first fumble with some bad girl from the Catholic school in the next town. Anti-smoking messages after you’d sucked down your first pack of Marlboros, and practiced holding them in the sleeve of your t-shirt like James Dean.

The Teen Hotline film they showed in gym class in twelfth grade was ostensibly about the stress of college applications and career choices but it covered the usual litany of other issues. Depression. Abuse. Drinking. Drugs. Schoolwork. Bullying. Family problems. Eating disorders. Steroids. Sex.

Xander imagined Buffy and Willow watching. Or rather, Willow watching while Buffy played with her hair; pulling the strands in front of her eyes to check for split ends.

The guy who was narrating the abuse section looked kind of like him. Tell a teacher if someone is hurting you or touching you places you don’t want to be touched.

That got the predictable range of cat-calls and whistles from the class but Xander went hot and cold; felt his face sting with shame.

Next to him in the bleachers Oz sniffed the air delicately, like a maiden aunt trying to decide if the lavender bags were still scenting her closet, and went still. Xander wouldn’t have expected Oz to join in the hollering that was causing Coach to rake the group of boys with his disapproving glare. But he could feel Oz actively not looking at him and that meant he knew. He knew.

At lunch, while Buffy riffed on slayage and the difficulty of keeping a French manicure in good order while wielding a stake, Xander wondered if he would tell Willow.


Spike was lounging in his chair in the most louche manner that someone tied up in Willow’s best Girl Scout knots could manage. Xander watched the flicker of the TV screen dance across his alabaster skin and tried to ignore the faint sounds of the fight going on above his head.

(“No, fuck you, stupid bitch!” Xander estimated that the crashing sound was a dinner plate. It sounded too thick to be a glass.

“Go fuck yourself, Tony. You’re a lazy, selfish cunt who hasn’t bought home a decent pay packet in ten years.” His mother’s voice, wounded and slurring.)

“Rory, Rory, Rory. You cannot think that going out with this Jess feller is a good idea. What about Dean? Stars Hollow’s very own answer to Captain America. He’s a bit uptight, right enough, but he treats you like a pretty princess.” Spike was grinning at the set.

“Maybe she’s after mean and moody rather than buff and boring? Some chicks might dig having their boy-toy all chummy with Mommy but our girl Rory makes much more with the off-beat.”

(“Speaking of cunts, I wish I’d never been near yours.” Tony Harris was screaming at the top of his voice now. “Might not have ended up trapped in this fucking hell-hole with you and that shit-for-brains.”)

Xander cut a nervous glance at Spike. “Although maybe if she went with Jess she wouldn’t have to pay for all that burger-y goodness.”

(Smack. The sound of a fist hitting flesh and then someone hitting a wall. Xander flinched, weighing up the options of taking his licks now or waiting til his father bellowed for him to come upstairs.)

“You think she’d still have to pay at Luke’s Diner? If she was with Jess?” Xander’s voice was as transparent and crackling as cellophane.

Spike took a drag on his cigarette and looked right at Xander.

“I’m not going to tell the Watcher or the rest of your little friends.”

Xander frowned. “You’re not?”

“Evil, remember? It’s all the same to me if he beats you to death.”

Elena: Scoobiesmoscow_watcher on June 21st, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
Loved it. The Faith and Spike parts are particularly heartbreaking.
dipenatesdipenates on June 21st, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much.
parcae_ljparcae_lj on June 21st, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
I can definitely see Spike thinking that, but I can't see him saying it aloud. He would probably let Xander worry about his friends finding out just to screw with his mind.
dipenatesdipenates on June 21st, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I went back and forward on Spike's motivation and what would be the worst thing he could say / do.

I think that objectively for Xander, it's bad that no one with a shred of responsibility knows what's going on at home. However, I'm also hypothesising that Spike's relationship with his mother leaves him with an acute sense of the humiliation Xander might be feeling and that this lines up sufficiently with his essential laziness and desire to continue watching TV in Xander's basement to make him want to slightly reassure Xander. However, I entirely take your point and it's probable that my penchant for H/C has tainted my thinking on this.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Devo79devo79 on June 21st, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
I really like these. Especially the Oz, Cordy and Spike ones.
dipenatesdipenates on June 22nd, 2009 06:35 am (UTC)
Thank you very much.

I struggled a bit with Oz and wondering what he would do. We know he's prepared to make some pretty large sacrifices for Willow around this time [cf: Choices], but I thought the boy-silence-code might kick in for Xander.
Rebcake: Faithrebcake on June 22nd, 2009 04:26 am (UTC)
The Faith one is a double heartbreaker. Funny that tenderness is the bugaboo for her and for Buffy when they are feeling damaged. *sigh*

I like the Spike one a lot. There's no way that stuff wasn't going on. Good for Xander getting out when he did.

They are all quite wonderful. Thanks for posting.
Snick: Spike hate yousnickfic on June 22nd, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
Oh so sad. Liked the Faith and Spike ones most, because they said at least as much about Faith and Spike as they did about Xander. I especially love how the Spike bit can be taken either way - is that last line the honest truth, or just his way of letting Xander save face?

ETA: Misplaced comment FTW! *sheepish*

Edited at 2009-06-22 05:30 am (UTC)
(no subject) - dipenates on June 22nd, 2009 06:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dipenates on June 22nd, 2009 06:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
lusciousxander: Sad by Xanphibianlusciousxander on June 22nd, 2009 06:54 am (UTC)
Wow, those were perfect! Amazing! I especially loved the Faith one, she was surely the one the understood the most.

This icon goes with the angsty mood.
dipenatesdipenates on June 22nd, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Lusciousxander, for the very lovely comment.

I like your icon a lot! I am too artistically deficient and incompetent to make such things, although I feel I should learn...
chrislee: oz whoachrisleeoctaves on June 22nd, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
These are terrific. I'd love to archive this at Five Things.
dipenatesdipenates on June 22nd, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, I would be supremely honoured for this to be archived at Five Things. Thanks very much!
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on June 24th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Very ouchy. Good job.
dipenatesdipenates on June 25th, 2009 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Kevin Jonesmulder200 on June 24th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Ouch! You really feel for Xander. Facing monsters both with Buffy and at home.
dipenatesdipenates on June 25th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks for commenting!
brunettepetbrunettepet on June 24th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed each of these in voice pieces. Cordelia really looking at Xander and wishing she hadn't ever seen the abuse rings true to the character at this time in her life. Faith looking at him and seeing their similarities breaks my heart for her, and then you make it that much worse when she sees her sympathy as weakness and pushes him away with both hands.

Even though Angel was sympathetic, I got the feeling that on some level he was enjoying basking in Xander's fear on those walks home.
I loved this lineMaybe Xander reasoned that Angel couldn’t ever properly relate to humans again with the scent of their terror curled into his brain like cigar smoke into a club chair.

Oz' backdoor way of learning about the abuse was very clever, though I'm left wondering how he could keep it from Willow. I like the way you wrapped this up with a window into Xander's life. Xander and Spike watching "Gilmore Girls" and quipping along with the brutal, vicious fight going on upstairs painted a surreal picture. I could totally see Spike grinning maliciously as he delivered that last line. Whether it's heartfelt or not, Spike likes to poke at Xander . A lot.

Thanks for the excellent read.
dipenatesdipenates on June 25th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the kind (and lengthy!) review.

I left Angel's motivation for walking Xander home quite ambiguous. I think it could be read that he likes the reminder of his humanity (although he was a pretty lame human) or that he likes the reminder of Angelus.

Oz is a strange one. I always got the sense that he and Willow talked all the time when they weren't with the other Scoobies but I watched 'Earshot' again recently and Willow's fear that Buffy will know Oz more than she does comes across really clearly. It made me wonder whether sometimes Oz's silence is the path of least resistance and that, coupled with the guy secret honour code, made me wonder if it was feasible that Oz wouldn't tell Will about Xander's abuse.

Thanks so much for your comment!
jasonsnenejasonsnene on June 25th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Wow! Those were powerfully written. Well done!
dipenatesdipenates on June 25th, 2009 07:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. :-)
a dealer who is through with dealingloveme_likethat on June 25th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, Spike, ouch. & yet he's the only one who actually confronts Xander?

Yowza, baby. 5 drabbles but what a fucking punch.
dipenatesdipenates on June 25th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind commment.
(Deleted comment)
dipenatesdipenates on August 9th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
Thanks for your lovely comment and the link to gabrielleabelle's poll.
Stephanie: Buffy voiceladycallie on October 26th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Here by way of the AoL roundup... and am I glad I did. Ironically, or not, I read this while taking a from working on my Violence in the Family homework.

First of all, phenomenal use of characters and getting characterization dead on and for creating empathy for those characters AND Xander. Also, you have beautiful descriptions that really hit you in the gut with their realness.

Secondly, you made me feel like a bad fan. And this is a good thing. When I thought about it, I remembered Xander has shitty parents who fight... and yet it never really connected that it wasn't just fighting. And this is a series that I know by heart almost, that I've lost count of how many times I've rewatched, that I quote in daily life.

These characters are friends almost. I lived through them in good times, and even more so when my life was bad and I needed a distraction. I write them, I read them, I've cried for them.

And yet, I never thought about Xander's family life. Maybe it's because I'm taking this Violence in the Family class and working towards my psychology degree (I'd like to be a councilor) that makes me so shocked that I didn't see it before. But I didn't.

You've changed how I understand a core character completely. Again, I reiterate this isn't a bad thing, it's kind of amazing. I was just getting into season one for yet another rewatch and now I get to see this totally other side of Xander. Wow. Thank you. Thank you for writing this, and sharing it.
dipenatesdipenates on November 11th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this. I'm really glad that you liked it, or at least that opened up another aspect of Xander for you.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I really appreciate it.
Beckyewanspotter on October 28th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
Hard to read, but excellent work. My heart just aches.
dipenatesdipenates on November 11th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for commenting, and sorry for making you achy.
and all shall know the wonder: for a dreamerredsilverchains on January 16th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
I came across this quite accidentally and oh, I am so glad I did! This is one of my favorite types of fic, you know, when an author shows me some dark, gritty part of a character that you just know has always been there—and I wonder why I’ve never seen it or cared about it before.

Oh Cordy. She’s such a teenager and she’s faced so much darkness unflinchingly and seeing something that isn’t Hellmouth fare but still horrible—well, it has to mess with her head. I love how you phrased it , like it’s a vision she wants exorcised (‘cause we all know what’s coming). And Faith! Heartbreaking mix of denial and terror and tenderness and hard-as-nails right there.

The smell of Xander’s fear tickled a part of Angel that he couldn’t and wouldn’t describe to Buffy or Giles. And so he kept walking him home.
This. I really, really love how you wrote Angel’s section. There’s wariness yes, always, but also this unspoken solidarity. And then Angel walks him home—almost like it’s the least he can do.

I really, really like the whole guy-solidarity feel of Oz too and Oz ‘actively not looking’- well said because that’s so like him. Makes me wonder how many more secrets that boy keeps and knows that he wouldn’t ever tell.

And Spike’s section—I love that it’s almost hilarious, a typical Spike-Xander exchange (Gilmore Girls! Too funny!)—but you put in Xander’s parents and it’s also horrific. It’s also perfect that it comes at the end because at that point Spike is neutral (or yeah, evil) about it, but we the readers, who love Xander, are not.

Okay. Rambled on quite a bit there. But I truly thought it was amazing and one for the memories!