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.
"Come along Xander," Mrs. M said gently. "I've some gardening to do, and you can sit with me and enjoy the sun and some fresh air."
Heaving a sigh, Xander reluctantly got up. "If you insist, Mrs. M."
Snorting at that, Mrs. M just shook her head. "I do. Ever since you had that meeting the other week with Father Phillip and his associates you've been even moodier than since you arrived. Now let's go. You may not be up for helping me to garden, but you can enjoy the weather."
Following Mrs. M, out to the small garden Xander sat down on one of the benches in the garden, having to admit the beautiful weather was a small pleasure to enjoy.
"So, what exactly put you into such a mood of late Xander? You were doing better, and then when you came back from that meeting it was like someone flipped a switch," Mrs. M, asked as she started to weed the bed. "I know it can't be Father Phillip, as you two have been getting along fairly well."
"It's not important Mrs. M," Xander said closing his eyes and leaning back forcing himself to relax. "Not like you can always act on what you want to..."
"Ahhhh, the old complaint," Mrs. M said softly. "You can't have what you want, so you settle for what you can have. And you think you can just get by being lonely and miserable."
Xander just snorted at that.
"Or was it a case of wanting something else, and realizing that your in a competition for it then?"
"It doesn't matter what it is, Mrs. M, I'm not talking about it."
Anna chuckled softly at that. "You wouldn't believe the number of girls that have tried to catch him, regardless of the fact that he's a priest."
"And? Why would I care, Mrs. M?"
"Xander, oh Xander..." Mrs. M, said chuckling softly. "I'm not so old as that, nor blind either. I can see what's going on. I can also tell that you're scared to even make a single first move, after what happened to you."
"Even if, and that's a big if there, if I was interested in Phillip, as you said he's a priest and committed to the church. Not to mention other commitments he's got."
"That doesn't keep him from being a friend, or someone you could talk with. Sometimes the love of friends is more important than a lover. Especially, when we need time to heal our hearts and minds."
"Maybe...maybe not. Doesn't matter, there's another with ties who has a first call upon him. And that person doesn't care for me at all."
"Or maybe they're afraid that he'll come to care more for you, then them? Father Phillip is a man who has a giant heart, and he's one who gives his all to healing those in pain and hurt. Often burning himself out because of it."
Xander snorted at that. "And you see that happening with me? Not likely, I'm not that naive Mrs. M"
"No, you're that obstinate thought."
"It seems that we have an issue here Nick...or more that you have an issue," Derek said gently, watching the younger man who sat across from him. "As I'm sure you know the House must always be united, no matter what is going on. Of late, you've been lashing out at any and every one around you."
Nick closed his eyes and softly sighed before nodding.
"So the question then becomes what can be done to resolve the underlying issue. But first I think we need to discuss what the issue it's self is Nick."
Nick just continued to sit there silently.
"Nick, I can't help you, if you won't talk to me," Derek said gently, knowing the truth of what was bothering him already, but not willing to force the issue just yet. The confidence that he held, was not his to breach.
"And if I don't want to talk about it," Nick asked at last, forcing his voice to stay neutral and even.
"Then I will have to assign you else where on a temporary basis and see if some distance can help resolve the issue, or I may be forced to release you from serving at this House Nick. I would prefer to avoid either of those options, but especially the latter. The former could easily end up becoming a mark against you."
"And what about Phillip?"
Derek sighed at that. He had known it would inevitably come up. "I deal with each member of this House individually Nick. If there is an issue with any member of the House, I bring it up with them personally. I do not break the confidences that I hold with an individual with another member. I am very much aware of the issue between you and Phillip. I certainly have my suspicions as to the cause of the rift, and I'm not making a judgment call on it."
"And have you had this discussion with him as well Derek?"
"Nick, I'll say this one last time. Whatever I may or may not have discussed with Philip is between he and I, the same as this discussion between you and I will not be shared with anyone else. The same applies to any conversation with Alex, Cat, Marcus, and so on."
"Fine, may I request a personal leave of absence then Derek?"
"I would rather that we worked this out now, rather than later. It is creating problems with in the House Nick. I can make it an order, if that is what is required."
"And I could turn in my resignation and walk away for good," Nick said his voice cold as ice, the warning clear in both tone and body language.
"That would be foolish Nick, and would possibly lead to very unfortunate consequences."
"Don't make threats Derek..."
"I'm not Nick. I'm giving you fair warning. IF you leave and turn your back upon the House, you'll be considered a rogue. You'll be watched at best..." Derek trailed off the rest not needing said. "I will argue on your behalf, but I am only one voice Nick, as well you know."
Nick slumped in upon himself at that. "Fine. Do what you want, you will any ways."
Derek let out a weary sigh at that. "Nick, what I am doing, I do for the best of all involved. You and Phillip both need to resolve this issue, before it destroys this House. I know very well what some of the underlying issues are, you need to make your peace with both Phillip and with this young man who he is friends with. The boy is much like you, even you have to admit such if you're honest. He's seen just as much, if not worse then you have. He's in pain, because those he trusted with his life turned upon him. Give him a chance...that's all I'm asking Nick."
"Fine, I'll talk to Phillip the next time he's out and I'll see what can be done. I don't promise any miracles Derek."
Derek smiled at that. "I'm not asking for any, I'm only asking you to give him a fair chance. I also have more information on him, then either of you do, Sloan managed to do a fairly in-depth investigation and is tentatively in agreement with me on offering him a probationary position."
"And you were going to tell me this when?"
Derek just smirked at that. "When it was needful. Now, give the young man a chance, you may find that there's more in common than you realize."
"I'm sure you both know why you're here Derek, said at last, once both Nick and Phillip were seated in the control room, and it had been sealed off."The issues that exist between the two of you need to be resolved. I'm here as a neutral third party. Nothing that is discussed here will go any farther than the three of us."
"I see," Phillip said softly. "Would you be willing to allow us a bit of privacy first Derek, there are a few things that I need to say that only Nick needs to know."
Derek nodded his reluctant agreement. "I have no objection, provided Nick doesn't? I am assuming that I can trust you two, to behave like adults?"
Nick scowled at Derek for that comment but in the end just nodded his agreement.
Walking over to the other side of the control room, Derek turned his back and turned his attention else where, to give them the privacy that they needed.
"Nick...I know what's bothering you...I'm sorry about it, but there's nothing I can do about it," Phillip said softly. "I canna leave the church, and I won't break my vows. I can't betray my vows or the church."
"I know that, but damn it Phillip, I can't help what I feel...and it's obvious that the kid feels the same way as I do," Nick said equally softly, but with more force behind the words. "Can't you see what the problem is...you can't say you haven't had issues with the Church. You have, you've even admitted such to the rest of us."
"I know...but this is a calling. I'm called to serve God...even if those who lead the Church are less than honorable, the calling is still there."
"Fine, I can accept that you feel strongly about it, but can't you see how I feel as well? Doesn't that matter at all?"
Phillip sighed at that. "Nick, it does matter, but we can't always have what we want...sometimes we have to settle for what we can have. There is someone out there for you, even if you haven't seen it yet. I have...."
"Xander," Nick said softly "You think that he and I..."
Phillip nodded once at that. "Nick...you both have been sneaking looks at the other, and me. I can't be the one for you...but Xander needs someone who can understand him. I can do that partially, but you can do much more. You and he have a lot in common...if you would be honest with one another. Just take the time to get to know him...as a friend at least. If you give him a chance, you can both find the healing you need...then maybe something more can happen."
Nick sighed at that. "Fine, I'll give him a chance. But there's no way he could have the skills he has, without there being something off...it took forever to train such skills into me. How did he get them?"
Phillip just shook his head at that. "I can't betray the secrets I hold, I can only tell you that he's not dark and he bears no taint. Talk to him, share your own secrets with him, show that he can trust you, and he'll do the same Nick."
"Fine, I'll give him a chance since you are so adamant about it Phillip. I still don't like it though."