In Which There Is a Background Story.
Xander was still upset when they arrived at the mansion. Dear God, had she always been like that? Or was it recent? Had he just been too desperate to be a part of something to see it? He glanced at Delvin. Was Buffy sorta right? Was he desperate to belong, so desperate that he was willing to let Delvin control him? These doubts swirled around his mind even as they carried Oz's things up the stairs and to the room they'd be sharing. There was a room attached through the bathroom in case one of them wanted more space, but he hoped that was just a formality.
Once in the room, Delvin stared at Xander a long moment.
"Oz, get settled in. I need a word with Alexander for a moment," he finally said.
Oz nodded with a glance at Xander. That almost smile was back. It made the doubts seem not so loud. Xander smiled back as best he could and followed Delvin out of the room.
Out in the hall, Xander leaned on the balcony, not looking at his Teacher. Delvin didn't object, just leaned beside him, both of them staring at nothing.
"I'm proud of you Alexander," Delvin began quietly. "I know what you just did was not easy, and I know that you must already be wondering if you were right in doing it. But life changes. You have changed. A friend who can not accept that is no friend."
Xander blinked stubbornly. He didn't want to say anything. Delvin would be furious if he knew what direction his thoughts were taking him. What if Buffy was right? Not about everything, but about the killing? What if he was evil? What if his whole kind was evil?
"When I had been an Immortal for thirty years, I ran away from my teacher." That got Xander's attention. He swiveled his head around to stare. Delvin gave him this sad half smile. "I wanted to go home. I wanted my friends. I wanted the man that raised me as his son. Diane was against it. She was always less sentimental than me, but she didn't stop me or tell our Teacher where I went.
"When I got home, I knew I had to be careful. It had been so long, I knew the guards would not know me. I went through one of the hidden tunnels that we used to play in as children. I went through the halls. It was night time, in the winter. Dark and cold, but I felt such excitement that I didn't care. I was going home! I would see my father again. But when I got there...
"You must understand, these were before the days of Christianity. There were no crosses, no holy water. But there were blades of steel and silver, blessed by the gods against creatures of evil. We kept them by our beds at night. Modern man says we were superstitious. We would have called modern man naive and blind.
"Anyway, I reached my father's room, and saw an old, old man. In my head, I knew the time had passed but my heart had expect to see my father looking the same as I had seen him the day Diane and I were murdered. He was awake, and he thought I was a ghost come to ask if he was ready to join the dead. When I realized that he truly was dying, I decided to let him think that. I sat by his bed all night and we talked until he closed his eyes for the last time. I told him I loved him, that though he was not my father by birth, he was a wonderful father. But I waited too long after."
Delvin had tears poring unashamedly down his face as Xander listened, transfixed by this tale.
"When the doctors came in the next morning, they found me asleep with the dead king's hand in mine. One of them remembered me as the dead prince. They sent for the guards and had me chained. The captain of the guards had been a boyhood friend of mine. I pleaded with him to release me, tried to make him understand, but they believed that I was an evil spirit that had taken the prince's body and the king's soul. When I was beaten, they saw me heal. It was decided that they only way to bee rid of me was to chain me and cast me into the deepest part of the river." He ran his fingers over his wrists as though he could still feel the bindings.
"I don't know how many times I froze, drown and revived before my Teacher found me. But that wasn't the worst part. It was the look on Decebal's face when he called me a daemon. It was the knowledge that that was what I was to him, and I could never be anything else in his eyes. Had I faced him somehow, as you faced your friend today, I do not know that I would have been as strong."
"All I mean to say is, I do know the pain of losing a friend to this thing called Immortality. And I believe you are strong enough to hold this pain. Do not try to make yourself stop feeling it, but do not let it control you either. Feel the pain when you must, but between stabs, live. Alright?"
Xander blinked, suddenly aware of his surroundings again. Surely if someone could live through that sort of betrayal, he could handle a bad ending with a Slayer. Still he had doubts.
"What if she's right, though? What if we are all evil?" he asked in a barely audible voice, hoping he wouldn't be punished. He flinched when Delvin moved, but all his Teacher did was step behind him and wrap him in one of those strong, surprisingly safe feeling, hugs.
Delvin made a sound that was nearly a laugh.
"What if we are? Alexander, even if we are not human, we were all raised to be human. Whatever beings create us make sure of it. We are different, we have our own set of laws for dealing with our own kind, and to keep our secrets, we must break a few harmless laws of humanity. That being said, do you feel a sudden urge to take over the world?" Xander snorted. "No? How about slaughtering widows and orphans and bathing in their blood?" Xander was starting to laugh. Delvin released him but kept going. "Not that either? Oh, you want to chain someone down and make them watch a Barney marathon for eight hours and feed them only tofu?"
Xander couldn't speak. He was laughing too hard. That last one was pretty evil.
"Huh," Delvin said, walking away. "We must not be that bad after all."
AN: Sorry, the updates haven't been coming as often. Life is kooky. Are we having fun yet?