Pairing: Tom (Swale)/Carl (Romeo), Xander/?? Not sure yet, far off in the future.
Disclaimer: Buffy and company belong to Joss Whedon, Tom, Carl, etc belong to Diane Duane.
Warning: The aftermath of Xander's ordeal and secrets are finally revealed *evil smirk* Yep, lots and lots of angst and unhappiness
Looking around him, Xander smiled ever so slightly. While it wasn't quite the same as the last time he'd been here, he did recognize Time Heart. Pausing as he heard an odd noise, he slowly turned in a circle, freezing when he recognized the being who was making the odd noise.
"Greetings Wise One," Xander said greeting the Transcendent Pig, by one of it's many names. "Forgive me, but I didn't expect to run into you here."
The Pig laughed at that. "Yes well, being a transcendent being, means that I'm everywhere and everywhen all at the same time. Now for a person to see me is rare, but it does happen on occasion, or if there is a reason for me to choose to be seen. Which is the case this time."
"May I ask why you want to be seen, and by me of all people? I'm just a novice," Xander asked, feeling like there was definitely something off here.
"That is as may be, but you won't always be a Novice. You've begun a long and hard path, and the one's who chose to set you upon it, aren't going to offer you the guidance, or the answer that you need," the Pig said, it's voice filled with a hint of censure. "So I must step outside of my normal role and interfere, lest lack of interference lead to disaster. Plus there are two who are approaching, who you need to speak with as well. I will tell you this one truth for free, don't close your heart off, not everything is what it seems."
Glancing at a point off to Xander side, the Pig smiled, as much as it was capable of. "Ahh, and here come the two we were waiting upon. Do try and keep your temper child, not everything is as it seems. Not everyone gets a free choice in matters either."
"Xander," Tom said as the two of them arrived, "I'm Tom, and this is Carl. We're Advisories for the greater New York City area, but there's also another connection as well, that we need to talk about."
"Ok, but since I'm out in California, why would there be a connection to you two?"
"There's a couple of reasons Xander," Tom said with a smile. "One is where you're located. With what's there, it falls into a specialty area and Gates, Gating and related matters are a specialty of Carl's. There's also another reason, which is even more important, but it's complicated. I'll let you and Carl talk about it a bit later in private."
Taking a minute Xander considered that before nodding slowly, frowning as he got a good look at Carl and his instincts started prompting at him that there was something bigger than what had been said so far.
"The one thing we need to discuss, is making sure that you're aware of the various dangers that the Hellmouth poses," Tom said watching his partner out of the corner of his eye. "The biggest is that you were born and spent your whole life growing up there. That's left a mark on you. Since you passed your ordeal, that mark is going to become even more pronounced as time goes by."
Xander shivered at that. "So what exactly is the Hellmouth?"
"Basically it's a type of gate, but it's more or less a rogue one, that came about for reasons that are unclear," Carl said, his voice reasonably steady. "I'm sure you've read and seen how different points between the worlds can wear thin? Well the hellmouth is like that but it links to other, much more dangerous and deadly dimensions and realms. One's that are more to the Lone Power's liking."
"So that's left a mark on me, it would explain the odd feel of the energies and things locally. But what else are you guys leaving out," Xander asked, his gaze darting back and forth between the two men. "Because it has to be something major, obviously."
Carl sighed at that and shot Tom a look, which Tom shook his head ever so slightly about.
"It's a complicated story Xander," Carl said softly. "It's not one I wanted to bring up, but you have a right to know about it. It's not fair to keep it a secret from you, and it wasn't really fair how it happened either. So I hope you can accept that."
"Ok," Xander said slowly, the wheels turning faster and faster in his mind.
"I'm sure you ran across the spells called 'Blank Check Spells'?"
Xander nodded at that, he'd seen them but had skipped over them after reading the basics, not quite willing to put himself into a binding debt like that without one hell of a good reason.
"When I was younger, there was a time I was forced to use one of those. The details aren't important, what is important, is that when the time came to repay it, I did," Carl said softly. "Though I broke other promises to do so, I was eventually forgiven."
Tom sighed softly at that, giving Carl a gentle pat on the shoulder at that admission.
"The price that was required was that I be with someone, other than my bonded partner and lover. I pleaded and argued about it for a long time, but eventually had no choice but to agree to honor my debt. Nine months later, a baby was born," Carl said softly, closing his eyes as tears welled up at the memory. "I had a son, but one who I couldn't be there for. Who until, and only if, he became a wizard and passed his ordeal was cut off from me. I couldn't see him, speak to him, or anythng like that. IF he was offered the Oath, and IF he passed the ordeal, then and only them would I have the chance to finally speak with him, to meet him face to face."
Xander just stared at Carl, as the final pieces clicked into place. Silently he turned away and walked off without saying a single word.
Carl watched as his son slowly walked off, tears streaming down his face, in silence as the pain overwhelmed him. Silent sobs wracking his body, as his son walked away, not giving him a chance to beg forgiveness or offer a more complete explanation.
"Carl," Tom said softly, holding his lover close. "Give him time. This is a shock to him. He needs time to adjust to this."
"Time that none of us have," the Pig said firmly, "I will remain with your partner, and we shall talk. You Tom Swale, must seek out the young man and reason with him. You are possessed of a silver tongue, it is time that you soothe his hurt, and heal yours as well. The Powers, have set these events in motion, and still others beside this, and they must be carefully tended, lest disaster overtake this world and others besides."
Watching as Xander kicked at the sand at the water's edge, Tom just shook his head. So much potential, so much hope to rest on such young shoulders. But that was how the world went all too often. The young had the enthusiasm and faith that they'd survive anything. As they grew older, they became more cautious and careful.
"Xander," he called walking over slowly. "I know it's a hell of a shock, but we really do need to talk."
Xander just shrugged at that. "You can talk all you want, doesn't mean that it's going to change anything. What's done is done. Not like it really matters."
"Yeah it does. Look, Carl would have been there for you if he could have. Hell, I would have been there. We didn't have a choice kid, the Powers forbade us from getting near you until you passed the Ordeal. It was a huge IF, if you'd even be offered the chance to take the Oath or not. We didn't know, and we were kept away from you. If we hadn't listened, we would have not only lost our powers, we would have had the memories taken as well and been left with a vague, sadness and sorrow, but not known the cause of it."
"You could always ask the Transcendent Pig, the truth of it. He did say this one time, he'd share some truths, for free. Which ones, he didn't say but I expect he'd answer that one honestly and for free."
"So what now? It's not like I can just pack up and leave here, I've already learned that much," Xande said softly, his voice filled with pain. "I learned a lot more than I wanted to in the Ordeal. I don't even know what, if any of it can be changed."
"The future is fluid Xander, it's almost never set in stone, save where one or the other of the Powers intervene and even then it's not locked in absolutely."
"Yeah well, some things can't be changed. The past is definitely one of them," Xander said softly, wincing away when Tom gently laid a hand on his shoulder.
"Nothing...it's not important," Xander said instinctively, having learned that lesson the hard way over the years.
"Uh huh, I may not be the best at it, but I can still manage some minor healing spells," Tom offered gently. "If you need it that is."
"How am I supposed to get him to forgive me," Carl asked softly, his voice filled with regrets. "He won't even look at me."
"Time will heal the wounds, as you well know. Give him time, let your partner work his own magic with his words upon his heart," the Pig said simply. "There are pains there, that are none of your doing, but that this truth merely aggravates. He must find his own path to healing, find his own truths as well."
"I can not speak of those. When the time is come, he will share his truths with you, as you've shared yours with him. It must be when he is ready and not until then."
"So what am I supposed to do until then?"
"Be there for him, let him reach out to you when he's ready. Until then he will survive. That much is certain. Much like a sword is forged in fire and tempered in water, over and over, so he is being prepared. You and your partner shall be the solace he can seek, to heal, to renew himself and to find his way again. Do not push him, or he'll walk away instead. Leaving you behind, not to return. He doesn't trust easily, nor will he in the future."
The End for Now