Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to Buffy or TFATF
A/N: This is the first in my crossover series. It is set 10 years prior to the movie, and 5 years prior to Buffy Season 1.
A/N 2: I was unhappy with how much I had posted previously, so I finished it and am re-posting it. ~~~~~
The teenager slouched in the back seat of the car, listening to his parents … well, they weren't fighting, but his dad was definitely setting the ground rules for this visit with his mom.
“I know she's your sister, she's family, but visiting has never gone well. If it wasn't for that bastard of a husband of hers, it really wouldn't be a problem. You've told her she can come stay with us if she needs? Bring the boy?”
“Yes, dear, I have. But she won't. He's her husband, and she's staying right there. Can't have a divorce in the family, now can we?”
He didn't think his mom could be so sarcastic. And this was her sister she was talking about. He didn't know much about his aunt or her family. There had been a big blow-up years ago, and they hadn't spoken since. Mom had been talking to her sister a bit over the last year, though, and they were trying a Christmas get-together.
The drive from LA to Sunnydale took two hours, but soon enough they were pulling up outside a suburban house. Not much to look at – the yard was a bit overgrown, seeing they were having visitors, and there were a couple of cars, nothing special, in the driveway. He looked over to his little sister and shrugged.
“Now, kids, there's probably only going to be one other kid here today, your cousin Alexander. I think he's a year younger than you, Mia, but I could be wrong. Anyway, try to play nice with him, okay?”
“Okay, Momma,” Mia agreed.
“Yes, Mom,” he agreed.
Their dad knocked on the door, and was greeted by a man that he guessed was his uncle. Just going lunchtime, and he looked drunk already. Dad drank, but never got that pissed. He didn't even greet them, just looked at them, and walked away, leaving the door wide open.
“Jess, it's your sister. Get out here.”
A woman came out of the kitchen, arms open. “Connie,” she called out, before sweeping his mom up in a hug. He didn't think he aunt was that much older than his mom, but she sure looked it. “Come in, come in,” she welcomed, before turning to screech up the stairs, “Xander, get your butt down here. Your cousins are here.”
He looked around the room while waiting for his cousin to come downstairs. He listened with half an ear to the adults. Aunt Jessica was gushing over how pretty Mia was, and how tall he was. He smiled grimly at her as she patted his cheek. He could smell the booze from here.
A boy came down the stairs, nervously, he thought. Aunt Jessica called him over. “There you are Xander. Here are your cousins, Maria and Nicky.”
He winced. God! She couldn't even get their names right.
“It's Mia and Dominic,” his mom corrected.
Aunt Jessica nodded absently. “Okay, so you take them off to play, now. And behave yourself, you hear?”
“Yes, Mom,” the boy answered softly.
He looked at the boy as he led them back upstairs. Smaller than Mia, though they were supposed to be about the same age. Dark, floppy hair, skinny, with clothes that looked a bit big on him. Probably supposed to grow into them.
Xander led them into his bedroom – not much to look at, no pile of toys, but then Uncle Tony and Aunt Jessica didn't look like they spoiled their only child. “So, uh, Dominic and Mia, is it? Well, I don't really have much to play with. Comics and action figures, really. Some cars. Not much. Oh, but, my friend, Willow, will be coming over later. She comes over every year to watch 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' 'cause she's Jewish, and her Dad won't let her watch it at their place, so we watch it here every year, and she's my best friend in the whole world, except for Jesse, but he's having Christmas at his place, with his family, so he doesn't come over to watch the show.”
Dom looked at the kid in amazement. “You need to breathe there, kid?”
Xander blushed, and seemed to shrink into himself. “Oh, sorry. I do that. I babble. Sorry, I didn't mean to.”
“Hey, no,” Dom grinned. “It's okay. I just never heard anyone do that before.”
“Oh. You should hear Willow. She does that, too. We can get really bad together. Jesse doesn't though. Babble, that is.”
“Cool,” the teenager decided. “So, what comics you got here?”~~~~~
Dom was sitting on the bed, going through his cousin's comics when his uncle's voice boomed up the stairs. “Boy, get your lazy ass down here. Your girlfriend is here.”
Xander's head popped up, and he grinned wildly. “That's Willow,” he crowed as he jumped to his feet. Then he realised what his father had said, and stopped. Turning to his cousins, he went on, “Uh, she's not my girlfriend. She's my friend. Who's a girl. But not my girlfriend.”
By this time, Xander was blushing, and Dom suspected the boy was about to launch into some kind of explanatory babble, so he just grinned and told him they got it.
Xander sighed, relieved. “So you want to come down and watch the movie? In the basement, that is. There won't be any adults down there. We always watch 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.' Do you want to come?”
Already Dom was sick of how his cousins parents treat him. A kid shouldn't be so wary of adults, not like that. He shouldn't be so grateful for a little acceptance. The boy was a good kid. Why couldn't his parents realise that?
Dom and Mia followed Xander downstairs at a normal pace, rather than the boy's own breakneck speed. Dom grinned as he saw his cousin bounce over to his 'bestest friend.' At least someone appreciated him. Introductions were made, and the little red-head, Willow, welcomed them to Sunnydale. Yeah, good kids.
The afternoon passed, the movie, the Snoopy Dance – wasn't that an experience – and dinner, with attendant shouting match. Dom looked over to the kids table, and, for the first time ever, wished he was there. At least there he was guaranteed a decent conversation. And wasn't that saying something about his cousin's family.
Dom and the kids finally escaped out the back after dinner, and he decided that he was going to hide out there until it was time to go. This afternoon, he wasn't going to be a cool sixteen year old, who was fixing up a car, and had dreams of racing the circuit. This afternoon, he was playing with his sister, his goofy cousin, and his cousin's friend. Tomorrow he would deny it all, but today he was having fun.~~~~~
It was late now. Willow had gone home before sunset, and his mom had tidied the dining room and kitchen, despite his aunt's protests. Mom never could leave a house messy, he thought with a grin. The fighting had quietened a little while ago, with his dad grimly stepping back from Uncle Tony's taunts. Despite growing up with the teaching of 'don't start a fight, but make sure you finish it,' Dom was proud of his dad for stepping back. Uncle Tony was a drunk, and a loud and mean one at that. Trouble, by definition.
Dom wandered back into Xander's room, to see him pulling out a sleeping bag. “What's up, Xan?”
“Oh, I'm just getting ready to go to bed,” the boy explained with a small smile.
Dom looked at the bed, confused. “Looks fine to me. Why do you need a sleeping bag?”
Xander bit his lip, and looked a little guilty. “It's just that I sleep outside on Christmas night. In the back yard.”
“Yeah. But that's okay. 'Cause it's just the back yard. You know, fenced and all.”
“Xan, I'm not sure that's a really smart thing. It's cold out there, and, well, anything could happen.”
Xander looked around the room as he fidgeted. “I can't,” he whispered.
“You can't what?”
“It's Christmas, Dom. I can't stay in here for Christmas. I just can't.”
In the quiet bedroom, Dom could hear his uncle's voice start up again. “Yeah. I guess.” looking down, he ruffled his cousin's hair. “You stay safe, now, you hear? You get in trouble, and I'm going to come down and thump you myself.”
The boy grinned, then hefty a mighty sigh. “Okay, Dom. If I must.”~~~~~
Dom settled back into his seat, watching the houses thin out as they left the town. “I hate it, Dad,” he muttered.
“What do you hate, Dom?”
“Xander. We're leaving him in hell.”