Disclaimer: Buffy and company belond to Joss Whedon, Tales of the City are owned by Armistead Maupin, PtL belong to SciFi, Showtime, etc.
Author Notes: Goes AU after early to mid-season 5 of Buffy. Glory, The First Evil, Darth Willow, etc never happened. As for the question of Giles knowing that one person asked me...*shrugs* Not a clue yet if he knew, suspected, or what not. Granted most of his focus is on Buffy so....might find out in a sequel to this. This story line is devoted to dealing with Xander's journey to healing and acceptance. What happens next is anyone's guess.
Word Count: 2,467 Words (Per MS Word)
"What's wrong Phillip," Derek ased softly interrupting the younger mans thoughts.
"I'm just stuck in my thoughts, there's a young man I'm speaking with who I think would be ideal to join the Legacy, but he still needs time to heal on multiple levels," Phillip offered. "He already knows a lot more than the average person would who might become a member. And no Derek, I haven't told him about us, other than in the most vague and general of terms."
"I didn't say you had, nor did I think it. I'm just surprised that you would have someone in mind as a prospective member. I know the strain it puts on you at times, bridging the gap between the Church and what we do here."
"Like I said Derek, he already knows a lot more than most. But the pain that I can see in his eyes makes me want to cry," Phillip offered softly with a sigh of his own as he recalled the last two meetings he'd had with Xander. "He's a lot like Nick in some ways, he's been hurt far too often to really be willing to let anyone close to him. But he still cares greatly and it shows."
"What can you tell me about this young man then Phillip, I know you won't betray any trusts you've promised, but in general terms," Derek asked now more than a little curious.
"Before you say anything, I can promise you that he's not evil, even with where he is from Derek, so just hear me out first," Phillip said warningly, giving the older man a pointed stare. "He's originally from Sunnydale, apparently born there as well as living all his life until a month or so ago there."
"Are you insane Phillip? Sloan would have a stroke if he heard this conversation. You know as well as I do what Sunnydale is like..."
"Derek, enough," Phillip said bluntly. "Just because the young man had the misfortune to be born there, does not make him evil. He's anything but, given that he helped fight that very evil."
Derek choked at that, as his thoughts flashed back to a recent report that had been sent out to the various Precepts in the area.
"Bloody hell Phillip, you're talking about the young man who used to work with the Council's Slayer, aren't you?"
Phillip just nodded at that. "Yes, and he walked away for good reasons. Do you have any idea what the Slayer and the witch who was helping her did to him?"
Derek just shook his head at that, stunned at the fact that two people had actually been able to work with the Slayer. The Watcher's Council was known for their cold hearted methods of not supporting a slayer and seeing them as merely tools to be used and thrown away.
"Because they found out something about him that they didn't like, they half beat him to death Derek. He's still healing from the physical injuries that they gave him."
Derek's jaw dropped at that as he stared in shock and horror at the younger man. "What....why....."
"I can't tell you that Derek. I can not and will not betray a confidence that was given to me. If I did that he'd never trust me again. He's spent over the past four years fighting the Dark on a nightly basis, with hardly a break ever. He's sacrificed far more than any of us have ever had to, and still he's kept on going."
"My God....he had to start when he was only in high school then..."
Phillip merely nodded at that. "Exactly. You can see why he's so hard and has closed himself off so much. He needs time to heal fully from the hurt of their betrayal. The Slayer was a friend of his and the witch, he'd known her since they both began school. So it will take a long time for him to finally forgive them."
Derek let out an annoyed sigh at that, "Fine I'll trust your judgement for now Phillip, but I would like Nick or someone else who's not as connected to him to meet with him and see what he's like. If he's like you say, than it shouldn't be an issue."
Phillip snorted at that. "Sure, just push his buttons and see how he reacts. Think about it Derrek, he's a lot like Nick when he's pushed. He doesn't like being poked and prodded at. If you are going to insist on it, at least let me share a bit more with him so that he is willing to trust us a bit more. It's not like he'll go and shout it from the rooftops. He doesn't like to talk about that part of his life at all."
"Fine, we'll set up a meeting at a neutral, but reasonably private spot for you, Nick and this person you are so sure of Phillip. But I do expect you to listen to Nick and trust his instincts."
"Derek, I'll listen to my own instincts. I've got a very good feel for the boy already. I will listen to Nick IF there is a threat, which there won't be if Nick treats him respectfully. I'd also like to give him time to get comfortable with the idea of a meeting first. He'll pick the the time, I'll pick a neutral but private location and Nick can check it out before hand."
Rolling his eyes, Derek sighed at that. "Fine, I suppose that's a reasonable compromise. Neither side gets complete control over when and where you meet, so it's reasonably safe for both sides. But keep it very quiet. I don't need to have Sloan catch wind and explode about it."
Phillip smiled and nodded at that.
Shooting Phillip a side long glare, Nick fought to keep his temper under control. The meeting with Xander had ended just a short time ago, running much longer than Nick had been comfortable with and covering far greater ground than he thought should have been discussed, even if it was by and large generalities, rather than specifics.
"I still can't believe how much you shared with him Phillip," Nick said at last, tapping his fingers along the steering wheel of his Muatang. "I thought it was agreed that I was supposed to be in charge of this meeting."
"Only if there was a threat or danger Nick," PHillip shot back knowing full well that the younger man had legitimate concerns. "Since there wasn't it was up to my judgement. Besides which, even you have to admit he's a lot like you are. He won't trust any one else, unless he's given a good reason to. With his past, I can't blame him."
Nick snorted at that. "Yeah well, he's got the same reactions and instincts that I do, but no record of military service to explain them. So what's your explanation for that?"
Phillip just shrugged at that. "I can't tell you that, without his permission. I can tell you that I have tested him and he's not evil or possesed. So what besides that is bothering you so much Nick?"
Nick ignored the question as they pulled up on to the ferry heading back to Angel Island. The answer to that question, was one he wasn't prepared to deal with...at least not at the moment.
The haunted look in the younger mans eyes had definitely bothered him, but what worried him more was the attraction he felt towards him, and that seemed to be returned as well. It wasn't something that he was comfortable admitting to, or even thinking about. He's managed in the past to ignore those feelings when they crept up, but it was a lot harder this time.
Sitting down in his office, Derek waited as the two men in front of him got their selves settled in and comfortable. "I take it that the meeting was reasonably productive, Nick, Phillip?"
Shooting looks of clear cut disagreement at one another, the two shook their heads in disagreeing answers. "I think that over all, in spite of Nick's objections that it went reasonably well," Phillip offered ahead of Nick's comments. "I know that Nick happens to disagree, but I feel other wise."
"Yes I do disagree. The meeting may have been pleasant enough over all, but Xander was able to find out a lot more than I was comfortable with. Besides which, there's no record of his having been in the military at all, yet he moves, reacts, and has the exact or nearly exact instincts that I do. Since Phillip won't say how he got such skills and knowledge, that alone worries me."
Derek nodded at that. "It is a reasonable concern Phillip, can you explain how he has such knowledge? Or where he gained it?"
"I can't share that with either of you just yet," Phillip said simply looking at both men with honesty. "I can tell you that he is not tainted in any way that would be harmful to the Legacy. But I can't share his secrets with out his permission. The same as I would not betray a confidence that one of you shared with me either."
"I can understand that Phillip, but I do have to know how he came to possess such knowledge. If he has no military training, how did he gain it? It is a legitmate concern."
Phillip shook his head sadly at that. "I can't and won't betray his trust Derek. He's trusted me enough to allow me to test him and be sure he's not tainted in any harmful way to myself or to the Legacy. Beyond that, I will not betray the trust he's given me."
"Then I have to vote against him becoming even an associate member or learning anything else," Nick said bluntly. "If he's not willing to trust us and share his past with us, how can we trust him?"
Derek considered the matter carefully, weighing his options with great care before speaking up at last. "I think that there is only one truly workable solution, and I know you will have objections Nick, but we'll work out a reasonable compromise. I'll set up a time for him to meet and talk with me. If he can offer me reasonable proof that he is to be trusted, that he is not dangerous to this House and it's members, I'll extend him a probationary offer. He'll be watched over and both the various members of this house, and he himself will have a say in whether it goes beyond that. If after a year or so he's proven worthy and wishes to join, we'll do so."
"I don't like it Derek. He's keeping secrets, and that could hurt him or more than likely us in the end," Nick said pointedly staring at Phillip. "If he knows he has to prove himself for a year, then he'll probably do so and then when we least expect it..."
"I know Nick and that is a reasonable concern. He won't be told how long the probationary period is. I will trust Phillip not to tell him what we've discussed here either. This way he has a chance, as has every other member of this house, to prove or disprove themselves. Beyond that, we will see what happens, after I meet up with and talk to him. If I don't feel comfortable offering him such a potential position, it won't be offered. But it is my decision in the end."
"Fine, I just hope we don't come to regret it," Nick said sullenly, glaring at the two other men.
"So what is it that's really bothering you Nick," Phillip asked the younger man, giving him a level don't bs me stare. "And don't even try your patented 'nothing's wrong' routine on me either."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Nick said as he popped the top off a bottle of beer and then proceeded to take a sip. "The fact that you trust this kid so much is kind of telling Phillip."
"As in, I'm a good judge of character Nick. Trust me, yes he's got his own secrets that he's still keeping. So do you, that doesn't mean we can't trust you does it?"
Nick just snorted at that.
"Besides which, if you look at him objectively what is it that's really bothering you so much? The fact he's got the same instincts and such that you do? Or is it more the fact that he's bi, and doesn't bother to hide that he enjoys both men and women?"
Nick blushed at the last, turning away to take a longer swallow of his beer, not willing to touch on that topic.
Phillip let out a soft sigh of his own at that. "Nick, it hardly matters. It's not like he wouldn't respect a simple no. After what all his friends did to him, I doubt he'd even take the chance unless someone made the first move. Since you say you're not, it doesn't make a difference, now does it?"
"And why are you so accepting of it then Phillip? Doesn't the church condemn such," Nick shot back bluntly still not daring to look at Phillip.
"What Christ taught, and what the Mother Church teach do have some differences Nick. I've learned the hard way that what's right is not always what's accepted or acceptable to all. The same as what's wrong is not always condemned. Besides which, much as the Church might condemn it, Christ gave no such injunction against it. I'm not saying it's right, but I'm not saying it's wrong either. I can't make that call, save for my own self."
"And where do you fall on that question then," Nick shot back not daring to hope for the answer he truly wanted, but not unwilling to pass up the opportunity.
"It doesn't matter what I may feel Nick, I'm sworn to the Church. As such, I am forbidden by my vows to know any one. Since I can't see leaving the Church, it doesn't really matter either way."
"That's a cop out and you know it," Nick shot back frustrated at the lack of an answer. "So what is the answer Phillip, if you weren't bound by your vows to the Church?"
Phillip sighed softly at that, knowing now where the issue truly lay at. "It doesn't matter Nick, as I don't plan to leave the Church. But if, and that's a massive if mind you, it would be based on who the person is, not what their gender is. There would need to be a real, true, and very deep attraction there for me to act upon it."