I DO NOT OWN. All recognizable characters and situations belong to their respective owners and I make no profit off of playing with them.Rating:
#109 Anguish at tamingthemuse on LJFandoms:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/SupernaturalCharacters:
Xander, John, Dean, Sam, Jessica Harris, Buffy, Willow, Oz, Giles
Spoilers: BtVS season 3 “Graduation Day Part 1 & 2”, SPN season 1 post “Home”Summary:
Xander was born a Winchester, but he wasn’t raised as one. Still, when the time comes for him to be something more there is no denying the blood in his veins and the man he will become.
Sequel to: The Things We Have to Give UpAuthor’s Notes:
Beta’d by IceBlueRose. This took longer than I expected it to but I am glad to finally get it out, this is Part one so that means there will be a part 2.
There were moments in a person’s life that were certain, graduation was one of them. The meaning wasn’t lost, it wasn’t mistaken. It was moving on, growing up, achieving something great and leaving the past behind.
Graduation was what people strove for, what had kept them all going for years.
Xander had graduated twice in his life before the big day and each had been a monumental moment that had shaken his beliefs and made him view his world in a whole new way.
The thing that stood out the most about them though was that he hadn’t been alone.
Sure, his mom had been there, and Tony of course. But they hadn’t mattered as much as the others, as much as his dad and his brothers. Years passed with little contact with them - a phone call here or there, an out of state (always different states) letter.
Xander had had two graduations so far and his dad and brothers hadn’t missed them. Promises had been made and broken about birthdays, the disastrous school play, even a meeting with his teachers when he wasn’t advancing as fast as the rest of his classmates because he was too busy chatting up his redheaded friend who was a girl.
But each day he had been official, declared as advancing and moving on, Dad, Dean, and Sam had stood in the crowd and clapped as his name had been called.
His first graduation he had been five. It had been his graduation from finger painting and the wonders of nap time.
He had only been apart from his real family for two years but it had only been distance then. Dad called once a week, Dean called almost every day, and they visited every couple of weeks without fail.“Hey, pal.” Someone messed up Xander’s hair making the dark curls even more wild and the five year old grinned, turning to his older brother with joy in his eyes.
“Dean!” Xander ignored the rules of cool and tossed himself at his big brother giving him a very “glad to see you” hug. His brown eyes had been filled with the simple happiness of a child and they had moved from Dean to Sam before settling on their Dad.
There had been no loud cry; the little boy had just stood there for a moment, his older brother’s arm around his waist. Uncertainty flickered in his eyes before they shone brighter and when he wrapped his arms around his father’s legs he was just a little boy who had missed his daddy.
John stood, Xander wrapped around him like an elated albatross and a peace settled over his features, banishing the harsh set to his mouth. “Hey buddy,” John whispered softly, cradling Xander’s dark curls in his hand as he took in his quickly growing baby boy. “We missed you.”
Xander’s smile was infectious and he seemed to fit so well, with his daddy and his big brothers on either side of him.
“Hello, John.” Jessica Harris came to stand in front of John Winchester, her mouth drawn in a tight line and Tony Harris grasped her hand lightl,y looking bored.
John nodded, his smile slipping a little and the harshness creeping back into his features as his arms tightened around his son. Xander just slipped deeper into the hold, forgetting that big boys don’t hug their mommy and daddy unless they were babies.
“Someone is looking for Xander.” Jessica’s smile was polite and decidedly unfriendly.
Xander didn’t notice though, he was too busy squirming out of his daddy’s arms so that he could come to stand beside the small red haired little girl with the bright green eyes. He threw his small arm around her shoulders, looking proud and telling his daddy and big brothers, “This is Willow. She’s my bestest friend ever, she’s the coolest.” His grin was impish. “She has cable.”
The little girl blushed and Dean grinned, a sarcastic comment on his tongue. John nudged him with his elbow gentl,y keeping a smile on his fac.e “Well, hello, Willow.”
She ducked her head, shooting Xander a quick look and muttering, “Hello, Mr. Winchester.” The girl’s voice was soft and polite and he didn’t miss the way she was pleading with Xander without even saying a word.
He could also see in the way she looked at his son that she adored his boy.
Eighth grade graduation had been different. Xander honestly hadn’t expected them to show up. It had been a few months since their last visit and even Dean’s phone calls had dwindled down because of whatever it was they did.
Xander was fourteen and, at fourteen, he was kind of a brat. He didn’t start fights, ditch classes, or plaster the teachers with spitballs, even if it would be funny. He had tried it that one time but Willow had slapped him.
His family’s visits had gotten more infrequent and Xander had even started calling Tony ‘Dad’ in public so as to avoid awkward questions he really didn’t have the answers to.
It had been a surprise that he was graduating at all. A surprise and Willow refusing to let him slack the way he had been trying so hard to do. She could be really scary at times, especially when it came to school.
Xander wasn’t a bad student. He definitely wasn’t dumb, he just didn’t really care. School wasn’t as important to him as it was to some people. The only reason he went was because Willow and Jesse were there and they were his best friends.
And at fourteen, his mom, and probably Sam, would kill him if he tried to drop out.
He still called his dad and brothers regularly. He knew that Dean took up a lot of part time jobs at the bars they passed by and that the car was still in good shape. He knew that Sam was a nerd, not anywhere near Willow’s level, but he had still graduated high school a few months early.
He knew that his Dad loved him and would see him when he got the time, most likely sometime after the next job, or the job after that.
At fourteen, Xander was feeling a little bit neglected so he often threw a teen fit - it was a way to pass the time most days.
So he had graduated, and hadn’t thought much of who was there beyond Willow, Jesse, and Jesse’s mom, who was awesome in all kinds of ways. Halfway through the ceremony, as Cordelia had been reading some love poem to herself, the doors in the back had opened and he had seen his Dad and brothers stumble in.
He was stunned about that and the first thing he had focused on was either Dean had shrunk or Sam had turned into Big Foot.“Hey buddy,” John said softly and he faced Xander, his eyes clouded and just a bit unsure. Xander stood in front of his Dad, gown half off and hands buried in his pants pockets.
“Hey.” He looked down, unsure, and with movements that were stiff and long overdue hugged the older man. John rubbed his back taking a moment to clutch him fiercely before they broke apart.
Xander, not used to uncomfortable silences, and not liking them, let a grin slip onto his face and turned to Sam. “So, what have they been feeding you, Sasquatch? Have you been eating all of Dean’s vegetables again?”
There was a sharp pain in his arm from where Dean punched him and his oldest brother snorted. “Funny, squirt, you’re forgetting who’s the shortest.”
Xander just smiled brighter, his eyes dancing. “Yes, but I still have a few years to grow, dear brother.”
Things had just gone downhill from there as far as Xander’s relationship with the rest of the Winchesters. Over the next few years, one of his best friends had died, he had gotten caught up in the thrilling life of Buffy Summers, and he had stopped noticing his Dad’s and brothers’ lies when he had begun telling his own.
He could still remember the feel of the stake in his hand and the look in Jesse’s eyes as he had faded to dust in front of him. The way the dust had clung to his clothes, the scalding water that had reddened his skin as he tried to wash it out.
Now he barely saw the other Winchesters more than twice a year and, in three years time, things had started the haunt him.
Dean having to replace a part on the Impala didn’t matter as much as Buffy’s still form laying in the puddle on the floor, her white dress clinging to flesh that didn’t breathe.
He had breathed for her that night, he had mattered more than an occasional comment on the phone.
Sam’s explosive fight with Dad and going to Stanford faded in comparison to Willow stretched on the hospital bed, so fragile and barely alive after what Angelus had done. His realization that night that he loved her, thinking back maybe not romantically but maybe as the other, more essential part to his soul.
The guilt still made him feel sick sometimes because of what he had told Buffy, a lie because the hatred he had felt for Angelus in that moment had outweighed the pain he had felt every time he had looked into Buffy’s eyes and saw her broken because of that monster.
Because, sometimes, it felt like he had let her get that broken. Because he had resented and hated Angel, he had let her suffer and hadn’t realized until it was too late that he could have helped her, even if it killed him, even if the thought of her with him was his worst nightmare.
Senior year, he hadn’t thought much about graduation coming up. Angel had come back, Faith had gone evil after helping him get out of the embarrassing virginity situation and then trying to kill him, and he had ended up alone after breaking Cordelia’s heart while Willow had been able to hang onto Oz.
The Mayor was this year’s big bad and he hadn’t given it much thought when he had made graduation invitations with Willow in the library after yet another Scooby meeting. He had made one for Dad and Dean and one for Sam and had addressed them, sent them, and forgot them as the big day had loomed and they had found out the Mayor was going to use their day to ascend.
He had gotten a letter from Sam, telling him to call his cell phone if he wanted to talk to him, instead of the house phone. He had gotten a message from Dean on his 18th birthday and had been delivered a case of beer the next day and a deck of cards. He hadn’t spoken to his Dad in almost six months and hadn’t gotten any messages from him.
It had kind of slipped his mind that he had sent the invitations at all.
Graduation day was coming up and it hadn’t been hard convincing Tony to convince his mom that they didn’t need to go, that it wasn’t anything special.
Willow had told her parents it was okay if they didn’t come and they had taken off for some kind of dig.
Buffy’s mom knew the basics and had left town for the big showdown.
Oz’s parents knew their wolfy son’s secrets and why attending graduation wasn’t a good thing.
And Cordelia’s parents were too involved with trying not to go to jail to make time to show up for their only daughter’s high school graduation.
The rest of the senior class knew what was coming and had done whatever they could to keep their parents away. Not all of them had been able to convince them and Angel and his group were in charge of heading the vamps off and keeping them off of the parents.
The small bit of hope Xander hadn’t known he had been carrying had died when he hadn’t seen the three people he wanted to see most despite the sucky situation in the crowd. There had been a message on his phone at home that his mom had let him know he had gotten after the battle but he had ignored it, grabbed his stuff, and headed over to Buffy’s house for a post “we didn’t die” celebration, complete with pizza and trying to keep Buffy from moping now that her bloodsucker ex had left town.
As far as the event itself, graduation had been everything it was meant to be, a battle, a growing up. Xander had played a large role with his whole “key guy” thing and he had led the students, he had fought back, he had survived.
He hadn’t expected his Dad and brothers to show up. He wouldn’t have been able to explain anything that had happened to them if they had, so it was good that they hadn’t. He had stood up on his own and he had done it without them.
He had been at Buffy’s house and well on his way to forgetting that the name on the diploma Giles had fished out for him read Winchester and not Harris. He had even been happy because Willow was curled up with Oz, safe and powerful and loved the way she should be. Cordelia had kissed him on the check before she had gone home to pack and Buffy was smiling again. Her eyes looked less haunted and she rested at his side, seeming to become stronger each time he had said something that made her giggle.
He was doing that, he was making amends, he was doing something right, and everything was starting to fall in place. He didn’t have to be the hero; he didn’t need to save the day. He just needed to be there for those that did.
Then his mom had called.
His Dad, Dean, and Sam were at his house looking for him.
And he didn’t know what to do.