The day after
AN: I realize that it has almost been a year since I posted the first chapter. I finally had some time to write, although I probably should be preparing for my presentation tomorrow morning (it will be the first paper I present at a real academic conference).
I vaguely remember someone correcting me about Xander's age at the time of graduation, saying that he is more likely to be 18, not 17. Oh well, this suits my story and the Kyle-verse, which had Kyle and Amanda's relationship remain fairly innocent (sticking to kisses and hand holding). Anything more between Kyle and Xander will definitely wait until Kyle is a little older and has a little more experience in the world (it would be a little creepy for Xander to sexualize someone, who although is 16, is essentially a newborn).
I'm also fairly certain that this story will be shorter than originally planned and my muse is definitely tugging me away from the plot I had planned last year.
I would also like to note that this has not been betaed. Although Schrei agreed to beta the story, that was a year ago. So I'm unsure if the offer is still open.
This chapter may seem to be end a little abruptly, but I really just needed a chapter that develops the characters and story a little. The night of the day in this chapter will be eventful, and probably quite long in its own right.
Also, I can't remembered if I mentioned in my AN for the last chaper that I use the pinyin system of romanizing Chinese. Thus, Tai Qi (in Wade-Gilles) is Tai Ji in pinyin. I suppose it can't hurt to point out that I read and write Chinese, and know a fair bit about Chinese Buddhism and Chinese history in general, so I'm sticking with my comfort zone here.
Last, I still do not own either Kyle XY or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also am making not profit from this story. A Little Tai Ji in the Morning
Xander had been forcing himself to wake up early and do some Tai Ji in the morning before he started his day. After a lifetime of slacking he found being disciplined a very difficult thing. He wasn’t always successful, often succumbing to the urge to sleep in. However, he was beginning to notice that the days where he woke up early were better. It was really the only thing that let him know that it was probably a good thing for him. He had only been trying to be adult-guy for a month, and was already finding it exhausting. He missed the comfort and company of his friends. Sure, as things stood before he left, he’d have to go back in the closet or come out, or something like that. That aside, his friends were the only real family that he had. He had given himself until the end of summer, if he still felt the same way, he’d go back.
As soon as Xander got out of bed, so did Kyle. Xander wondered if Kyle had managed to get any sleep, because if it were him, he probably wouldn’t have. Xander couldn’t imagine being conscious like a newborn. Sure he had gone through the same thing, but it wasn’t like he remembered it. Xander handed Kyle some more clothes to wear for the day and busied himself with preparing a light breakfast for the two of them. Another part of Xander’s multi-step process to growing up was eating properly, thus he was making a surprisingly tasty breakfast with granola, yoghurt, and fruit (it was still sweet enough to satisfy Xander’s need for sugary goodness). Suddenly remembering that he should be talking to help Kyle learn English, he started describing all of his actions as he did them. I was happy when my companion, Xander, finally stopped sleeping. I had been quite and still for too long, thinking about what had happened to me. I had so many questions and so few answers. However, it had been pleasant to lay still with Xander. Being so close to him made me feel safe and warm. My companion immediately began to do things and soon began to make more sounds. It was comforting but also frustrating. The sounds were slowly becoming more intelligible but I wanted to understand everything Xander was saying.
“Kyle?” Kyle looked towards him at the sound of his voice, “after breakfast we are going to the park to do a little Tai Ji. I’m sure you’ll like it. I don’t know all of the forms yet, and can only practice what I’ve learned so far in class, so don’t make fun of me when I’m all bad and stuff. Hmm...maybe I should take you to the martial arts classes with me. This reminds me! We totally have to do something about getting you an official identity. ‘Cause toting you around as my cloned human pet would probably not be of the good. This is probably something that we’ll have to do later, since these dark deeds usually happen at night. We should probably find out if anyone is looking for an escaped science experiment. Might have to ask Willow for help with that, since it’ll probably involve secret labs or whatever. Also, she would probably be able to detect the signs of human cloning in the science world better than me,” I paused, because now that I was living alone and away from my friends, I hadn’t talked this much in quite some time.
“What is Tai Ji?” Kyle asked because the words did not have the same phonetic combinations as the noises Xander usually made.
“It is a type of martial art. Slow moving, helps with balance and flexibility, as well as being somewhat meditative. Martial arts are usually some structured way of fighting, most of which originate in Asia.”
“What is Asia?”
“It is a continent, one of seven. Tai Ji comes from China that is why the name sounds different, because they speak Chinese there, not English. Oh! For that matter, what we are speaking now is English. We are also in the United States of America, one of many different countries in the world,” when Xander paused again, he noticed that Kyle was ready to ask another question. Which caused Xander to put up a hand, “Kyle, I’m sure there are many things you have questions about. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to answer most of them, because me and school were non-mixy things. How about after the Tai Ji, and a quick shower, we head out to the library? Libraries are filled with books with facts about the world. You’ll learn more from there then you will from me. I’m not really the brightest crayon in the box, if you know what I mean.”
“I thought you were human, but now you are a crayon? What is a crayon?” Xander laughed because Kyle was so earnest when he spoke, plus he did the endearing eyebrow crinkling thing whenever he asked a question.
“See? That is what I’m talking about. Wait until the library, it’ll explain many things. After you learn a little more about the world, you can ask me more questions and I’ll do my best to help. Okay?” Kyle gave a reluctant nod. Seemed like Xander would be having another genius type of friend. The only person who he knew who was as curious as Kyle was Willow. The library really was the only answer.
By this point breakfast was finished and Xander had cleaned up the dishes. Putting on shoes, he tugged Kyle out the door.
The park wasn’t too far from where Xander lived and they arrived in fairly short amount of time. Once there, Xander quickly started practising the moves he knew. After a month of learning Tai Ji he still knew less than half of the forms. Nonetheless, the instructor had said that practising regularly would produce the greatest amount of benefits. Xander found that the meditative aspects of Tai Ji were more effective for him than the navel-gazing kinds. Turns out that he had an easier time focusing if his body was moving. Which made sense to Xander, considering that he had always been somewhat hyper. Also, the slow graceful movements of the martial art were helping Xander with his clumsiness. He was the first to admit that he did not have the grace of a jungle cat. More like one of those wobbly clown punching bags (Xander inwardly shuddered at the thought of clowns).
When we arrived at a small place similar to where I met my companion, Xander, we stopped and he began moving strangely. This was Tai Ji. There was something different about it. I soon began to do what Xander was doing and as I did so, my mind for the first time began to calm. All of my questions and worries receded. Quickly I became elated and felt both detached and connected to my surroundings. Sights and sounds all became sharper and I felt like I was standing at a precipice. But then Xander stopped, so I stopped. I could tell that there was more to the pattern of movements we had been doing and, while I could almost guess the shape of the future movements, it was lost when Xander looked at me curiously. I began to worry that I had done something wrong, but then Xander smiled at me and it filled me with a curious warmth.
After finishing one run through of the forms he knew, he noticed that Kyle was prepared to join him. Keeping his eyes open this time, he was a little surprised to see that Kyle was doing the moves with far more grace and accuracy than Xander had been able to manage so far. Xander was a little shocked, because only Buffy had ever been able to assimilate martial arts as quickly. In her case, it was more instinct and supernatural mojo that allowed her to learn them so quickly. Xander didn’t know how Kyle was able to do the forms perfectly after only seeing Xander do them once: it made Xander curious, because clone or not, he didn’t really expect that the average person was capable of learning like Kyle. Who had created Kyle? And why? Xander shook his head and smiled at Kyle.
When an hour had passed, Xander stopped with his practice and felt calm, peaceful, and prepared to meet the day. It has been only a month, so far, for the Tai Ji, but Xander was already in love with the martial art. Doing it in the morning always meant that he was generally calm and relaxed for the day. It had helped with his babbling and defensive joke making. He had been acting generally quite un-Xander-like as a result. Since he didn’t often feel uncomfortable anymore, he didn’t have to make so many jokes to hide his fear. More to the point, the Tai Ji helped a great deal with the after effects of the nightmares. Every few nights he had been having nightmares about Sunnydale. They ranged from staking Jesse to graduation. Sometimes he remembered the content of his dreams, other times he simply woke up screaming or crying. Xander was pretty sure he should be going to therapy and would seriously consider it, if weren’t for the crazy part about his experiences. How would he explain having PTSD from battle with the vampires, demons, and stuff? Something would have to be done, as Tai Ji seemed to be the only thing that was keeping him sane these days.
“Uh, so I guess we should head back to my place and change. After that, to the library! Where you can learn all about this wild and wacky world we are in,” Xander smiled widely at Kyle, who followed in his wake back to Xander’s place. The Library
“Alright, Kyle, this, my good man, is the library. It is the home of musty and boring books, which I guess I don’t actually think is true anymore, considering how I’ve been coming here often to do some reading. Also, it gives me a little feeling of home,” Xander was speaking in a hushed voice, so he wouldn’t disturb the other patrons (since this was the main library at the University of Washington and Xander definitely wasn’t a student there and didn’t want to be kicked out).
Xander was also mildly amused that what he had told Kyle was true. In his new program of trying to grow up and have a future worth living for, he had been going to the library several times a week to do reading on various topics. Of course, for some of the reading he wanted to do, he often needed to phone Giles for suggestions for both the books he was interested in and where he might find them. This, in turn, had meant that he and Giles had been growing steadily closer. Giles, while initially surprised, had been as thrilled as a stuffy, tweedy British-guy could get. Giles was also interested to see if Xander’s approach to continuing to fight would be successful or not.
Xander’s plan to being a better and more useful Xander-shaped friend had many steps. Step one: learn how to defend himself and not be a liability in battle. He was finally ready to listen to Buffy’s concerns: he really couldn’t fight. And to continue to do so, particularly as he had been, could only really be considered passive suicide, like smoking. He also realized that he probably shouldn’t be on the front lines. Even more importantly, after the horror of leading his fellow students in battle and to their deaths, he really had no desire to ever be in that kind of situation again.
Step two: learn some of the esoteric aspects of martial arts. Since Xander knew for a fact that magic and whatever existed, it was no stretch of the imagination to think that those fantastic martial arts stories might have grains of truth. Xander was even more convinced that this was true after reading some Chinese history. The tales of Daoist immortals might simply seem like folk stories or religious propaganda, yet Xander had already experienced his own encounters with American folk stories come to life. At this point Xander was trying to figure out which was likely to be true and which would be something he would be willing to follow.
Step three: find a religion and become a practitioner. Step three was related to step two, so he was focusing on Asian religions, since many martial arts (particularly the mystical stuff) were related to Asian religions. He had already read the stories about the famous martial arts of the Xiao Lin school, which was also a Chan Buddhist monastery. Xander sort of figured that if he was going to succeed at the more mystical, magical, and esoteric practices he would have to be a sincere believer, so he was trying to find the right combination of martial arts and religion (something that wasn’t easy).
Step four: become a paramedic. This last was a little more difficult and required upgrading his high school classes and re-taking his SATs, but he thought it would be good (since he could take it at a community college, which might be the only college he was likely to afford). This was both a better job than he ever imagined for himself and it would be entirely useful for the battle. Every army needed their medics and there had been many a time when having a medic would have made things much easier for the Sunnydale group. It was also something more reliable than Step two and three, since he could fail to access any of the mystical aspects of the martial art and religion he ended up choosing.
With all of this in mind, Xander headed towards the reference section, where he had been going through their reference works on Chinese Buddhism (since Indian Buddhism didn’t have the same connection to martial arts, Tibetan Buddhism had a lot of esoteric mystical stuff he wanted to learn but he would have to go to Tibet to learn it, and Japanese Buddhism was similar enough to the Chinese that he didn’t really have to study it as a distinct area). This time, however, his first thought was for Kyle, who needed to learn a little about the world.
“Kyle, we are in what is none as the section of references, also known as the section of the most high of boring books. Nonetheless, there are several books here that should help with your questions. First, an English dictionary,” which Xander pulled off the shelf, “and next, the encyclopedia, which tells you a little about a lot.” Xander, of course did not pull the entire encyclopedia off the shelf. Instead he sat Kyle down and gave him a quick introduction to English as a written language (i.e., taught him his ABCs). After which, he explained how both the dictionary and encyclopedias worked. He took only the U volume of the encyclopedia and turned it to the entry on the United States of America, since Kyle should probably learn about this world he was now in.
“Start with this entry. Use the dictionary to look up words. I’m pretty sure that you can’t read yet, but since you are the product of a mad scientist’s probably evil experiment, I’m pretty sure you’ll figure it out really quick,” Xander trailed off as he noticed that Kyle was entirely absorbed by the books in front of him. Xander shrugged and went off to find the book he hadn’t finished reading the last time he had been here. After grabbing it, he settled down to do some reading. Xander had taken me into a quiet building filled with many variations of the same object. I saw that many of the patterns I had seen on the side of buildings and on the streets were on these objects. Then, Xander gave me two of these things, called books, and I saw that they were filled with these patterns. As soon as I saw the pages filled something in my brain clicked and the patterns become evident and understanding suffused my being. One Hour Later…
Xander, who although was trying to change, was still Xander. This meant that after an hour of reading he was feeling a little antsy and was more than ready for a break. However, he congratulated himself for even doing one continuous hour of focused reading (without complaining about how bored he was or making some stupid joke). He had done more before, but never without the threat of immanent apocalypse to fuel his reading. Xander had also learned that he could read longer if he indulged his distraction by reading several different kinds of things at the same time.
In any case, he looked up to see how Kyle was doing, who even if was pretty silent guy, hadn’t made a single noise or asked a single question the entire hour. Xander’s eyes widened dramatically when he realized that Kyle had a stack of about five or six encyclopedia volumes beside him and he was currently flipping through another volume at an insane pace.
“Um, Kyle, not to doubt you or anything, but should I have gotten you something with more pictures?” Xander asked, teasing slightly but with a big smile.
“No, this was perfect. I first read the dictionary and then began to learn about America. I didn’t realize there was so much to learn or that it would be so much fun,” Kyle said with a very big smile and his eyes opened wide. Xander melted a bit inside because the look was unbelievably cute and really, really endearing. On the other hand, Xander was also deeply impressed that Kyle’s language skills had improved so dramatically over the course of a single hour. Xander then realized that he would have to revise his clone hypothesis. It was looking more like Kyle might be some scientifically engineered human being, considering that he was shaping up to be smarter than Willow-smart, which on Xander’s grand scale of all things smart, was the highest level he knew.
“I’m glad. Do you want to keep reading? Or do something else?” Xander asked, even though he wanted to do something else for a little while. But if Kyle wanted to stay, Xander figured he could practice meditation again or continue learning Chinese, since it had become clear that he was heavily leaning towards some type of Chinese Buddhism and knew that all the good stuff would be written in Classical Chinese, since all the good stuff always seemed to be written in some old language that hurt Xander’s brain to read. I became worried when I thought that I might have to leave. There were still so many books left to read before I finished the encyclopedia, which was answering so many of my questions. The more I knew, the more I wanted to know.
“I would like to finish the encyclopedia, please. I think I should only take another hour or two.” My gods, thought Xander, Kyle had the most devastating puppy eyes that Xander had ever seen. Right this second they were on full force and, had Xander had any reluctance to stay, it would have been utterly ruined under the force of Kyle’s puppy eyes.
“Yes! I was just asking! There was absolutely no call for the puppy eyes of doom! Please, please, go back to reading before I start promising you impossible things,” Xander pleaded and whimpered. The alarmed tone in Xander’s voice worried me until the comment about puppy eyes confused me.
“You said I was a man, or boy, how could I have the eyes of a puppy?” Kyle asked, getting that cute and curious look in his eyes. Which, although less evil than the puppy eyes, were still devastating in their own right. Xander groaned, he already knew that Kyle would be the end of him, seeing as he activated Xander’s desire to protect wrapped in a beautiful body to create an irresistible package. Xander was glad that Kyle’s innocence squished any lusty thoughts before they fully formed, otherwise things would be much harder, both literally and figuratively. Whatever relationship that Kyle would have with Xander would be decided by Kyle. Considering that Kyle had, for all intents and purposes, been born yesterday, it was far too early for any question of romance to enter the picture.
“‘Puppy eyes’ is something we say to describe a certain expression. Here let me show you,” and Xander demonstrated, watching with glee as Kyle became a little panicked, “see what I mean now?”
“Yes. I had the strong desire to do something for you, but became worried because I didn’t know what you wanted.”
“Good, super. Just remember that you generally only bring out puppy eyes if someone is reluctant to give you what you want. Before, when I asked you if you wanted to stay, I only wanted to know if you were tired of reading. I like the library and don’t mind staying longer, so the puppy eyes weren’t actually of the strictly necessary in that situation.”
“I understand now, thank you for explaining. I will continue reading,” which is exactly what Kyle did, flipping through the pages at a fast pace.
“Cool beans, I’m going step outside for a moment to call Wills about getting you official ID. If you need me, I’ll be right outside the entrance, okay? Please don’t go anywhere without telling me, or I’ll get worried,” Xander waited for Kyle to nod and then headed out the door, while pulling his cell out of his pocket. He pulled up Willow’s number and hit dial as soon as he was outside. Willow pick up after only two rings.
“Xander! You’re calling, is something wrong? Are you okay? How is your trip going? Seeing anything interesting? Where are you right now? What are you doing? Are you with anybody? Met anybody interesting? Staying away from evil demon girls?” Willow, of course, did her patented Willow-babble. This got Xander laughing because, gods, he had missed her.
“Willow, you know I love the babble, but maybe you should pause so I can answer even one of the many questions you seem to have.”
“Sorry, I’m just so darned excited to finally hear from you.”
“It is really awesome to hear your voice. I’ve missed you Willow and I have so much to tell you. Unfortunately, it’ll have to wait. I’m just outside a library right now, but I left someone inside that I have to get back to. Before you start the Willow-inquisition, I will explain everything tonight, okay? Can you whip up some sort of fake history and official-like ID for a guy, around 16, birthday yesterday? I need it as soon as you can get it done,” Xander closed his eyes and waited hopefully. He didn’t know how else to get Kyle into the system and, while he had seen many a movie of back alley or underground forgers, he really didn’t want to start mucking around in the mundane dark side, on top of the mystical not-so-good part of things.
“Xander,” Xander cringed at the disapproving tone in Willow’s voice, “I hope you aren’t in trouble and not telling me.”
“No, no. I’m not in trouble and I really will explain tonight. If this helps explain some things, I also need you to do that computer thing you do so well and see if there are any signs of some sort of government or private lab, of the secret variety, around Seattle. Focus on ones that might study genetics, cloning, or human engineering. But I’m not in any danger, really.”
“Xander. I’ll do this today, but I definitely expect some answers tonight, mister. Since you can’t see me, I'll tell you: Resolve Face.”
“Thanks, Wills. I just don’t want to leave Kyle alone for too long. Oh, by the way, for the official ID, can you make the first name Kyle and last name Smith. Hey, actually while you are at it, can this fake history of Kyle’s include a brother, named Alexander Smith, five years older? Essentially, I guess I also need a fake ID, so I can pretend to be Kyle’s brother. Can you include passports? I’ll send you a picture of Kyle in an hour. Make our parents recently deceased, with me as Kyle’s legal guardian. Oh, yes, last can you make us have family in Vancouver, Canada?”
“Xander, you’re starting to get me worried and I’m smart enough that I’m beginning to guess at what is going on. Can I assume that your demony magnetness is at work?”
“Kinda, which should explain why I can’t tell you everything right now, since I’m in a public place and there are people around. This seems to be more with a people type problem than a hellmouthy problem, which is why I need the official stuff.”
“Okay Xander, I should have some initial info about labs when we talk later, although more detailed information is going to take longer. I’ll also set you up with a secure email account, so we can communicate safely if you have to run or something. The other stuff will take a little longer, since I’m guessing you want complete histories that will stand up to some scrutiny. They won’t be full proof but it does help that I’m in Sunnydale and you will still be. I’ll have the death certificates of your parents, yours and Kyle’s birth certificates, your state IDs, passports, etc., all sent to you in a week. After I set up your email account, email me an address to send it all, but use your new name,” Xander breathed a sigh of relief, since Willow was going to help. He and Kyle would be fake brothers, but they could get into Canada easily if it turned out that the US government had made Kyle and wanted him back. ‘Cause anybody that was making human beings was definitely not on the side of the good, particularly considering that there hadn’t been any big news splash about. If this science project was on the up and up, then everyone would already know about it. I briefly watched my companion depart, momentarily worried that he would leave. My reading so far indicated that people were usually not as nice as Xander and I was worried that his compassion and patience might come to an end. Still, I remembered that he did not want me to leave without telling him, saying he would worry. This warmed me. For all that I had learned, these reactions to Xander were confusing to me. I returned to the clarity of the books and continued reading, shortly after Xander returned.