Title: A Season of Hope
Fandom: Buffy, Highlander, Harry Potter, Supernatural
Category: AU, Romance, Yule Themed, Slash
Beta: Queen Sereya
Warnings: Angst, Crossover
AN: For The 2008 Spander Illuminations
Disclaimer: Neither Xander or Spike belong to be, yes this does make me sad and believe there is no Santa.
Summary: Christmas was not a time of love and joy for a Scooby.
Feedback: On List or at email@example.com
Archive: Permission granted.
In his early youth, Christmas had represented the three B’s, bruises, beer, and blood, interspersed with an occasion bought of weeping and groping from inebriated relatives of both sexes. Then she came into his life and Christmas represented these things, but they also meant slaying, laughing, hugs, and good food served without resentment. During his late teens, it meant slaying, uncomfortable obsessions, and illness. Overall Xander Harris had never enjoyed Christmas or any holiday for that matter. They were just another day to get through and a few more people he had to act for or avoid.
Then Sunnydale went the way of the dinosaur and Xander was free of the obligation to pretend to care for a holiday that meant nothing to him. For three years, up to his twenty-fourth birthday Xander had wandered Africa never settling in one place too long and only sending presents back to his loved ones.
Then came the letter, the letter telling him that his time of wandering was over, the letter begging Xander to settle down and take responsibility of Dawn, Connor, and their gaggle of friends and slayers. The letter requested that he take in Faith, Spike, Angel, and his crew and give Oz a home. The same letter informed him that there would be more coming each of them taking a place in his house and training those that would fight and those that would aide.
Giles had given him the most sought after house in the entire organization, New York, while Xander wasn’t happy with living in a cold weather capital, he knew that there he would be able to maintain the connections he had forged with the heroes of New York, including Hellboy and Spiderman.
Therefore, Xander went to London and met with Giles, who had taken one look at Xander and swore with a viciousness that shocked and horrified the watchers and slayers that were in the main entry. Xander had chuckled and swept Giles into a hug. The older man had muttered about children who needed leashes and caretakers.
Xander knew he looked different, he had shed the weight he had gained in Sunnydale, his hair was long and braided in a ceremonial configuration, he would not cut his hair ever again. Xander had taken a slayer from a tribe of ancient warriors in Japan and as a concession; he had done a ceremony that tied him to the tribe. His skin was dark from years in the sun and he looked dangerous with the black eye-patch and black clothing. This was not however, what set Giles to swearing, he could see the toll the years had taken on Xander and the exhaustion he was trying so hard to hide.
For three months, Xander had spent time exclusively with Giles resting and becoming acquainted with the people who would be joining his house and who needed what kind of treatment and structure. At the end of the three months, Xander was ready to go on to New York. He left early in the morning saying good-bye to the girls Xander had sent to the Council and to Giles himself. Flying with him were three Immortals, a group of magickal kids and a werewolf who used magick.
Xander had watched his new charges quietly, watching as they bickered between themselves, tormented each other, and generally used the long plane ride to try to learn more about Xander, covertly. The only thing they learned was that Xander was an enigma and didn’t seem intimidated or freaked out by any of them.
When they landed at the airport in New York Faith and Spike were the ones to meet them. While they knew the newcomers it was Xander they focused on and the sight of the man they once knew shocked the pair. Faith and Spike shared a wary look, not sure, if Xander would want them to remain in his house, since they didn’t have a great history between them. Xander merely grinned at them and to their shock hugged them both.
Leaving the airport, Xander sat quietly while the newcomers asked questions about their new home. All the while Spike and Faith sent bemused looks Xander's direction. His reunion with the other fighters from Sunnydale and Los Angeles were similar, the only ones treated differently were Cordy, Connor, Dawn, and Oz.
Xander lifted Dawn into a hug and gave her a gentle kiss. Xander then hugged Connor with a gentleness that surprised everyone, Xander just held tightly while Connor clung to him. Angel and his crew wondered how it was that Connor and Xander knew one another, but didn’t ask. Xander gave Cordy a reverent kiss and they pressed their foreheads to one another while looking into each other’s eyes. The watchers could see unspoken words pass between the pair. When the pair separated, Oz stepped forward and was pulled into a tight hug and gently petted. The smaller man took a deep shaky breath and felt a sense of home for the first time in years.
Three months later and life had begun to settle down, with only the occasional battle, run in with the crime lab, heroes, and supernatural creatures. Xander made a life for himself among those of his new house, but he rarely dated, though he seemed rather relaxed.
However, now Christmas had come and they noticed that Xander had become tense, moody, and was locking himself away from everyone. It didn’t help that his Mother had found him and called him drunkenly ranting the day before. Anyone with supernatural hearing heard the screaming fight that happened in his office and the inhuman howl of rage that echoed through the building after he had broken the phone.
Cordelia knew that it was time to step in, a depressed and raging Xander was a dangerous Xander, and she worried what would happen if he lost the hold on his temper. She thought of calling in Willow, but decided against it. Willow and Xander barely spoke anymore. She thought of calling Giles, but the man was overrun and she wasn’t sure he wouldn’t blame them for Xander’s mood. In the end, she sent Remus Lupin to get Buffy. Cordy didn’t know why she thought that Buffy would be the one to help, she just did.
When Buffy and Remus arrived, Dawn hugged her sister and in a whisper told her what she knew. Buffy’s face was grim and she nodded, pulling away from Dawn and going into the kitchen. They followed along, wondering what Buffy was going to come up with to help Xander. Dawn sniffled tearfully when she saw Buffy making their mother’s hot cocoa. When she finished, Buffy left the room and went to find Xander where he was hold up in his office. @POV Shift@
Xander looked up in frustration as the door to his office opened, but stilled the words rushing forward at the sight of Buffy coming in carrying two mugs. He smelt cocoa and felt tears prickle in his eye. Buffy put the mugs down, pushed Xander’s chair back and climbed into his lap. He cuddled her close and she buried her face in his neck, inhaling the spicy sent of his aftershave and wishing once again that her mother were there. “I…” he began.
“I know… they don’t understand, holidays, all they are, are pain for you. Even as a Scooby holidays sucked. If your family didn’t interfere then the supernatural did. I hate Thanksgiving, when I think back to the year I went manic, I can’t believe how crazy I was, and now Christmas just doesn’t seem the same. I miss Mom; she was always good about making things better, giving you a reason to care. When she died, I think our reasons to care about the holidays went with her.” Buffy said in a hushed voice. She was afraid that if she raised her voice rage would take over and she would scream.
Xander nodded, tightening her arms around her and letting out a breath. “My Mom had another kid; she’s shipping him here before CPS can take him away from her and Dad. A kid they were paid to adopt is bringing him for us to take care of and I’m keeping him as well. Gods Buff, it was all I could do not to make a wish against her! I hate them!” Xander ground out. Buffy hushed him and kissed his throat. She could feel tears fall into her hair and against her face.
Buffy sighed and the real reason for Xander’s rage became known. “You’ll take good care of them and they’ll be safe with you. We’ll give them what Mommy gave Dawn and I before she and Dad divorced and before things went bad. We’ll make our own traditions and give our charges a better memory of the holidays than we’re used to.” Buffy promised him and herself.
Xander sighed softly and cuddled Buffy closer. “I have to go to the airport, would you come with me?” Xander asked Buffy softly.
“Of course.” Buffy answered just as softly. She knew that she would be staying through Christmas Eve at least Xander needed her.
As the two finished their cocoa, Xander and Buffy stayed side by side. Talking softly of the things that were going on in their lives and the plans they were making for the New Year and Christmas. Soon both of them were laughing and making outrageous plans for the kids in their care. Willow appeared out of nowhere causing the pair to look at her. Willow ran forward and threw herself into their arms, hugging them and crying. “What’s wrong Willow?” Buffy asked concerned.
“I hate Christmas and I can’t do Yule anymore and no one understands!” Willow sobbed out. Buffy and Xander shared a sad look, rocking their friend between them. Buffy and Xander weren’t the only ones with holiday issues. The pair set about cheering their friend up and helping her to accept the plan to make things better for the children in their care, even if all they wanted to do was ignore the holidays coming up.
Spike raised an eyebrow when he felt the sweep of magick in the air. “Red’s here,” he said before turning to look back into the fireplace.
“I wonder why?” Dawn asked subdued, she missed her Mom, but she didn’t understand the Scoobies reactions to the holiday.
“Same reason Rupert just showed up.” Spike answered as he felt the familiar feel of magick.
“What would that be?” Remus asked from his place in the armchair to Spike’s left. Most of the house was seated in the main room, each of them worried about Xander.
“Holidays are nothin’ but a nightmare for that lot, Slayer had good ones when her Mum was alive, but bein’ a slayer changed that. The Whelp and Red only have horror, abuse, and neglect to pass in the holiday. Ole’ Rupes lost his lover near this time a year and he would prefer to be drunk to cheerful. That lot has never had a reason to enjoy Christmas; all the holidays are is a time of pain and sorrow.” Spike had been there for the last years of Sunnydale and he knew what a trauma the four had near this time of year. “When Joyce and Tara were here things were different, it gave the four a reason to join together and celebrate cause those two women were there for them. Now, the ladies are both dead, Red and Kennedy are over, the Slayer, the Whelp, and the Watcher have no one and aren’t even trying to find anyone. If it weren’t for their responsibilities I doubt any of them would be here to be seen.” Spike’s words touched those around him and all of them wondered what they could do to make things better.
Rupert was with his children, each of them were touched by heartache and while they wanted to make things easier for their charges this time of year was particularly hard on all of them. In his heart, he raged at the Powers who they worked so hard for, but took so much in return. Yes, Cordelia had been given back her life, but that was only because she was too powerful to remain in the upper realms. They had not returned her out of any genuine care for the girl or those who loved her.
This year was especially hard, as they had learned that compatriots of the insane Dr. Walsh had killed Joyce by injecting her with a serum that caused a brain tumor and then later her aneurism. Riley was the one who found the evidence and brought it to Giles, fearing who was part of the group and knowing Giles’ new status would help bring Joyce’s killers to justice. They still had no idea why the Scientists had killed Joyce instead of going after Buffy or one of them. There was no one who would or could answer that question. Only Giles, Buffy, Willow, and Xander knew what Riley had found out. The man had been sworn to secrecy and none of the others would ever tell, not wanting Dawn to be hurt by the knowledge that Joyce had been murdered.
Spike sighed sadly and looked into the fireplace his heart heavy for all that his family had suffered. He stood quietly and made his way to the room that held four of the people that meant the most to him. When he opened the door the four looked up at him and it was Xander who motioned him to join them. Spike closed the door and went to the four. When he was human Yule and Christmas were times of joy and warmth. The year he was turned he killed his own Mum, first by turning her and then by staking her. As a vampire he never celebrated the season until he came to be with the Scoobies, and he had seen what the season had done to all of them.
What Spike wanted more than anything for the season was for the four to be happy and cared for. He wished for them to have the ones they loved with them for the holiday and for always.
D’Hoffryn smiled as he heard the vampires wish. Only he could grant such a powerful wish and as the four had fulfilled the destiny set for them, it would not hurt to return their love ones to them. However, the vampire and the boy were in for a shock.
The five looked up in alarm as D’Hoffryn showed himself and said, “Wish Granted. Be well children, and thank you for saving us.” He then disappeared, leaving in his place Tara, Joyce, Anya, Wesley, Fred, and Gunn. Seconds later Spike and Xander felt a rush of emotions go through them causing Xander to black out.
When they came to Xander was lying on his back and most of the household was staring down at him. He blinked up at them in confusion and slowly sat up. When he saw the returned, a sound of shock and joy escaped him. He was swarmed by people, each of them wanting to make sure he was alright.
“You okay luv?” Spike asked looking at him in worry. It was then that Xander realized he was holding Spike’s hand. Instead of pulling away in horror or embarrassment, Xander tightened his hold on Spike’s hand.
“Am I awake?” Xander asked in a heartbreaking whisper, his eye wide with confusion.
“Yes,” Anya answered, moving forward to gently hug Xander and kiss his cheek.
Xander whimpered, tears filling his eye, “Your real, your real.” He chanted pulling her into a hug. When they separated, Xander jumped to his feet rushing forward to lift Joyce into his arms hugging her, crying and pressing kisses to her cheeks. When he put her down, he rushed to Tara repeating the gesture, but picking Willow up with her at the same time, surprising everyone with his strength.
He then spun to face Wes and hugged the startled man tightly. Fred was gently rocked in a hug, Gunn had his hand shaken, and then Xander turned to look back at Anya.
“D’Hoffryn granted a wish did he bring you out of heaven are you okay, oh God, you’re here!” Xander babbled hugging her again.
Anya smiled into his chest and just hugged him tightly. “He replaced us with golems and brought us here. We weren’t really dead. I’m glad you are okay did you know that you and Spike are bound to each other?” She asked cheerfully. Pleased not to be dead and enjoying the hug Xander was giving her.
Xander pulled back to look at her, “Huh?”
“Spike was wishing that the ones you loved were brought back for Christmas and always. The consequences are that he and the ones he was wishing on behalf of were bound to the ones they were supposed to be with. The bindings are you and Spike, Joyce and Giles, Tara and Willow, Buffy and Angel, Fred and Cordelia, me and Wes. In addition, Gunn and Faith were also bound. Dawn and Connor had already started their own binding to one another. While Oz and Remus have mated.” Anya told him seriously.
Xander blinked for several moments and then smiled at Anya, who giggled. “Don’t kill Wes with sex, he just got given back.” Xander told her impishly. Wes blushed bright red, while most of the group snickered.
Xander then blinked at the group and then looked over at the clock, the smile left his face and he sighed sadly. “I have to go to the airport.”
“Why?” Cordelia asked confused, she had yet to release Fred, who was looking at Illyria with wide eyes.
“I have to go pick up my little brothers.” He said quietly.
Those who had not known and knew of Xander’s childhood looked at him in horror. “You’re parents bred again?” Cordy asked horrified.
“Yes and someone paid them to adopt a kid as well. Mom and Dad don’t want them anymore and they didn’t want to go to jail so they had a lawyer fill out papers giving me custody of both kids.” Xander told her mournfully.
“I’m going with him.” Buffy told them.
“So am I!” Spike snapped furious that the Harris’ were allowed to adopt a kid. Just the thought of it was horrible.
“The rest of us will wait here and start on dinner, knowing your parents they didn’t feed the poor dears before they put them on the plane.” Joyce said softly, making Xander nod.
Buffy, Spike, and Xander gave Joyce a hug and a kiss on the cheek before leaving for the airport. No one was surprised when Angel joined them. The ride to the airport was made in silence with the occasional question asked, but mostly it was silent in the van.
When they reached the airport, Xander quickly parked and went to find the corridor that the kids would be getting off. Dawn had hastily written out a sign with “the Harris kids here” written on it and shoved it at Xander as they were pulling off.
It was nearly twenty minutes before the two children were seen. When Xander saw them a feeling of shock rocked through him. He knew the boy and the last time he saw him he was an adult. “Sam?” he asked in a choked voice.
“Hi Xander,” Sam Harris, nee Winchester said softly.
Xander reached out, and lifted the baby into his arms and looked down into green eyes. “Is this Dean?” Xander asked looking back up at Sam, who nodded.
“How?” Buffy demanded pulling Sam into a hug. The boy sighed in relief holding onto her tightly.
“A demon against the prophecy turned me back into a child and killed Dean; he then paid the Harris’s to adopt me. I wished for Dean back and a place we would be safe. I had no idea that it would be with you guys. I just wanted to be safe.” Sam told her tightly, tears in his voice. Buffy’s heart broke, Sam had had a hard childhood the first time around, to be turned back into a pre-teen and raised by the Harris’ was a horrible curse.
“It’s going to be okay, you are both safe here. Any demon that comes for you will die a horrible death!” Xander promised, rocking Dean in his arms. The Scoobies had met the Winchester brothers after Sunnydale had fallen and they had helped the Scoobies stop a demonic ascension in Cleveland.
Spike and Angel shared a look and agreed, they hadn’t been able to protect Dawn and Connor against their status as special children, but they would protect their new charges against the demons.
Spike put an arm around Xander and Angel around Buffy. Together they led the group away from the area. When they found out that neither child had luggage, and the only thing that came with them was the baby bag and it held no diapers they decided to stop at the nearest store and buy what the boys needed. Spike called the house and let them know what was going on and that it would be longer than they thought for them to get back to the house.
Spike looked at the small part of his family and smiled to himself, they had all started out in a rough place in life, hating the holidays and mourning their dead. Now they had the dead returned, a new set of children and mates amongst their loved ones. Perhaps Christmas wasn’t the horror they all feared it to be.