Happily, I've gotten a few chapters written in advance. Have good reading, I hope!
Disclaimer in chapter one.
Shaken from her encounter with Spike, Buffy closed the front door to her house. Wiping at her eyes, she let out a slow sigh.
"Hey, Buffy." Xander's voice rumbled distantly somewhere in the living room.
"Hey, Xand." Buffy wasn't feeling all that steady herself. Then her nose caught a slight scent in the air. "Are you drinking?"
A slight rustle in the darkened living room suggested that Xander nodded. "After Anya and Nancy and everything, I needed to decompress." He chuckled wryly and added. "Dawn's taken away my keys. She says that I can have them back in the morning, if you say I can."
Though her heart wasn't in it, Buffy giggled faintly. "I taught her well. Hey, do you have any more of that?"
"Do I need to dignify that with a response?"
Buffy fumbled around to the kitchen to grab a beer for herself, and shuffled back to join Xander on the couch. She gave him a sympathetic pat on the knee as she sat down. "Alright, tell Dr. Buffy where it hurts."
The face that Xander made was nearly audible. "That's just it. I don't know
if it hurts or not."
Now it was Xander's turn to sigh. "I feel bad that Nancy was freaked out. But I can't help feeling a little bad for Anya. Not the killing part, mind you. But," Xander trailed off for a few moments and exhaled loudly. "I can't help but feel a little respon-"
"Stop right there, buster." Buffy cut him off emphatically. "You didn't tell her to take up the vengeance trade again."
"I know, I know. The two logic brain cells I have say that. But the sympathetic parts of me-," Xander let that hang in the air.
"It's hard to blame her, because you're feeling guilty, even though she was trying to hurt someone else?"
Xander turned to face Buffy. "Okay, when did you get all insightful?"
"Somewhere around the same time you started saving me from myself." It wasn't necessary for Buffy to go into specifics. Instances of Xander intervention were well known to the both of them.
Xander was quiet for several long moments. "When is it okay for me to stop feeling bad?"
"Xander, you've done your time. There's still some things to make up for, but you can't keep punishing yourself." Buffy leaned over until she was resting her cheek on Xander's arm. "Anything Anya does while she's vengeance-ing, you can't take responsibility for."
"My brain knows that. The rest of me isn't so sure." Xander rumbled, as he lay his cheek atop Buffy's head.
Buffy frowned and decided to bite the bullet. "Spike got his soul back."
"Wait, what?" Xander's head leaned back so he could stare at the top of Buffy's head in the dark. "How in the rotating, periwinkle hell did he pull that off?"
"I have no idea." Buffy shrugged. "But it's there. Xander, I saw him hug a cross and let himself burn until I had to leave."
She nodded emphatically. "Very ew. But very true, too."
Xander let out a slow breath. "So, what do you want to do? 'Cause I got nothin'."
Buffy burrowed her way under Xander's arm and wrapped her arms around his middle as far as they would go. "Would you hold me for a while?"
"I repeat: Do I need to dignify that with a response?"
Buffy settled in. Neither of them were likely to sleep. But then, perhaps they didn't need to. Just this once.