Meeting A Stranger
Having moved to a large round table near the back of the Saloon, the two men sat facing each other uninterrupted by the employees. "Why didn't you knock last night Xander?"
"By walking away you were a name in a letter from Mom, nothing more. If I had knocked, who knows what I would have gotten." The younger man ran his finger along the folded edge of his letter, speaking so softly that Chris nearly had to strain to hear. "Why did you come up to me at the bar? You could have easily ignored me."
"You stood at my door for an hour and as you walked away you Adam's smile. I wanted to know who you were and what you were doing." Seemingly at ease Chris's hand had wrapped so tight around the beer bottle his hand tore the label, betraying the image.
"I'm sorry he's gone." Having looked right at Chris, he was able to see the honest sorrow in Xander’s face.
Startled he nearly demanded, "How do you know he's dead?"
"The look in your eyes is the same one that is in Buffy's when she remembers Joyce, Willow of Tara, and Giles of Ms. Calendar."
"You've lost someone, too."
"Anya one time fiancée and possibly once again, a few others."
Father and Son sat in silence until the elder man suddenly leaned forward to balance on the edge of his chair. "Xander my teammates just walked in the door."
Looking down as he collected his shredded napkin Xander calmly asked, "Is that an odd way of saying move so they don't see that we've been talking?"
Aghast and appalled at the thought of turning away a child Chris hurriedly and forcefully exclaimed, "No. It's a warning that they are overbearing, opinionated, and will interrogate you from all directions."
"Heh, I've faced a horde of hormonal teenage girls demanding everything all at once. So, stay?" Keeping eye contact Xander waited, to move away or stay sitting.
"Stay." After Xander relaxed a fraction, Chris turned to face the six men that had walked up to the table. "Everyone this is Xander. Xander this is Josiah Sanchez, Ezra Standish, JD Dunne, Vin Tanner, Nathan Jackson, and Buck Wilmington."
"Hi, nice to meet you all." Xander nodded in the general direction of the new comers to the table.
Informal hellos, heys, and one pleasure to make your acquaintance Mr. ... returned. The six men all claimed chairs with out arguing over who sat where. Each man tried to be covert but Xander knew he was being critically overlooked by each.
"Just Xander, please."
Leaning over Vin, Buck asked, "How do you know Chris?"
"I stopped at his house to ask for directions and we got to talking." Xander nearly squirmed in his seat, unsure of what to share and what to keep private.
"It's up to you if you want to tell them what we talked about." Chris had set his empty hands on the edge of the table, not wanting to deny his son's existence, but willing to let him reveal it at his own pace.
A pretty woman approached the table with a tray of drinks, noticing the atmosphere she efficiently placed the glasses and hurried away.
"Sure about that?" Double checking, Xander wondered how this man would react to him publicly stating daddy.
"Of course. I say what I mean."
Having settled down around the table with Xander in between Chris and Josiah, the six men sat in quiet anticipation; this was no simple stranger who had struck up a conversation with Chris.
"I found a letter my mom wrote years ago, she mentioned Chris in it." Slowly elaborating Xander couldn't decide to look at Chris's face or the table so he compromised, stare fixed to the second button down on his fathers black linen shirt.
"She also said that Xander is my son, and I believe it." As he expected it to, the table erupted into cries of what, who, and general confusion. Ignoring his closer than a brother teammates he leaned over to a shocked and still Xander. "Where have you been staying in town?"
"The hotel about four blocks north of here."
"Would you like to come and at my place? I have a spare room you can use." Ignoring the loud questions he hid nothing in his expression from Xander.
"What? You don't know me."
"True, but I want to."
"What about meet for coffee or dinner sometime? Not skip to share my home!" Not sure if he wanted this or not Xander weekly argued against it.
"Call it a gut instinct."
"If you get indigestion, it's your own guts fault." Finally relenting Xander put up a final argument as he shifted to look at the now quieter table.
"In what municipality do you currently reside?"
Before Ezra's question could be rephrased Xander uneasily shifted in his seat. "I grew up in Sunnydale California, then Africa for about a year or little more, and then in Cleveland for the last nine months or so. I got here to Denver night before last."
"Why were you in Africa so long?" Nathan asked from next to Josiah who was silent in observation as he watched and tried to figure out the young man.
Leaning back into his chair Xander calmly explained, "Giles had England, Buffy in Rome, Willow in Brazil, and I got Africa."
"That really doesn't explain anything kid." Buck retaliated as he pushed JD's hat off of his head.
"Giles's old business kinda ended up being no more so we were working on rebuilding and improving it."
"Cleveland?" Chair on two legs, tilted back, Vin was very Oz like in his short question.
"Remodeling what Andrew likes to call our bat cave with a less scary front or as the rest of us call it headquarters, for now, of The Watchers Council."
Swirling a burgundy colored liquid in a glass Ezra mused, "I do not recall being aquatinted with an establishment by that moniker."
"Doesn't surprise me. They were a very old family business in England." Xander smiled at the surprise on Ezra's face at the easy comprehension of his question. "When the remodeling was done and the house was up and running I told them I was taking a vacation. I packed my bag and set out to finish my trip to see the country. I started the summer after graduation, but with my car dying after about three days and then having to work the rest of the summer to fix it I didn't get to see much."
"What kind of work?" Josiah spoke up, wanting to see how the young man answered. Open and honest, but answering in general terms Xander was likable, but appearing to hold something back.
"Then, no power on the earth will get me to tell. Now, carpentry. Mostly cabinetry, furniture, and detailed work. I was a construction foreman for a while in Sunnydale, and then in Cleveland I was in charge of pretty much all the construction and remodeling. Chris called you his teammates. What sort of team are you all?" Emptying his glass, Xander grinned and changed the focus away from his self.
"Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm agents. We are team seven based here in Denver." JD proudly explained, every day in awe and thanks that he was part of this amazing team and family.
Glancing at the neon clock above the bar Chris interrupted, "Before it gets too late do you want to get your stuff and check out of your hotel, Xander?"
Tossing some money onto the table, eight men walked toward the parking lot. One man continued walking past the parking lot, stopping only when hollered at, "Xander aren't you forgetting something?"
"Nope, I had to return my car to the rental place earlier today." Hands tucked into his pockets he rocked back and forth from toes to heels.
"Come on. Ride with me."