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Tell Me How

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Tell Me". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Xander wasn't entirely human. After leaving Sunnydale he makes an unlikely friend, and when Buffy comes to visit he finds himself explaining to her how it happened. Rating for non-explicit slash, and language.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Xander-CenteredRuthlessFR1513,225013,8189 Feb 109 Feb 10Yes
A.N This is me, in the depths of my boredom. I wanted something different, and I think I got it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with either Highlander or Buffy. All works belong to David/Panzer and Josh Whedon. If I had owned them however…well, you get the general idea of how things would have turned out.

Tell Me How

>>>

Present Day


Illustration

“No. It’s too risky,” Buffy frowned at Xander, as he stood before her, “I can’t focus on what I’m meant to be doing if I’m worrying about you at the same time.”

He knew that words would make no difference. Only actions would. He shifted his coat to one side, so that she had a clear view of the sword that he was wearing under it. Then, he followed through with the actions that hundreds of Immortals before him had done.

Grasping the handle of his sword, he freed the first inch of blade, pressed the heel of his hand to it, and drew it sharply down. She looked at him, firstly, in shock, and then with fascination, as the blue light of the Quickening arched out of the wound sealing it.

“What?” she half-whispered, in an awed voice, “How…” she trailed off into silence, unsure of how to finish the question.

Seconds later, the sound of footsteps snapped her back to reality. She glanced up, just as Ethan came in.

“What are you doing here?” That was far easier to ask, than what the hell was going on.

All that Ethan did, was look coolly at Xander, who was looking at him, hoping that the would take things over, “No, Alex. This is yours to field.”

“It’s a long story,” he sounded resigned.

“Well,” Buffy said, as she sat down, “The actual apocalypse isn’t due to start for another four days, so I think I’ve got the time. Tell me how this happened.”

>>>

It was a dreary, grey day, and Xander had been in Britain for long enough now, to know that this was the norm.

He had moved out here, and entered Giles employment some three years ago, for the silliest of reasons –he had fallen in love with a beautiful woman, whom originated from Britain. A lady named Kathy.

When he had first started to date her she had come across as sweet, and silly, and fun, and loving. But since he had moved in with her, however, and had changed countries, things had become a different story.

She yelled at him all the time, constantly belittling him, and insulting him. She was bitter and more –nothing that he ever did was good enough for her. And the work was hard enough, without having to come back and listen to her ranting and raving, like a lunatic.

Giles had tried, several times, to tell him that he would be better off without the ‘yellow-livered bitch’ but he had never been prepared to listen –Because if there was one thing that he hated more than anything else, it was the thought of being alone.

>>>

So it was, that one evening, after a particularly savage fight, he found himself out walking the drizzly cold streets, in an attempt to get away from it all, head bowed, and hands in his pockets. It was the pose that one adopted when one was desperate to avoid company. And so, of course it happened, that he walked straight into someone else.

He stumbled back, and looked up quickly, in order to stammer an apology. And he took two quick steps back. It may have been several years, but he didn’t look as though he’d aged a single day in that time –Still easily recognizable, still the same guy that had tormented him, and Buffy, and his friends, and Giles in Sunnydale.

Still Ethan Rayne.

He went as though to run, but the man flashed a quick smile.

“So sorry, you’ll have to excuse me. Wasn’t watching where I was going, you know.”

All of his plans, of turning on his heel, or hitting him over the head, or…anything…were dissolving. He expected Ethan to recognize him right off, and try to crack him one, but if he had then he wasn’t showing any sign of it.

When Xander didn’t answer, he smiled again, and extended his hand. Obviously the years had changed him more than they had affected the Mage.

“Ethan Rayne, at your service. You do look a little blue. Care to join me for a drink, and tell me of your woes? My shout –it’s the least that I can do after just about knocking you over on your arse.”

Again Xander hesitated. The last thing that he wanted to do was go back to Kathy.

But, that said, he didn’t think that drinking with Ethan Rayne would endear him to anyone, either. He had tried to be sensible, and think things through, but look at where that he gotten him –into the relationship from hell.

Surely it wouldn’t kill him to relax, and let his hair down just this once?

>>>

Ethan could almost read the thought process on the young mans face. There was something familiar about him, although he couldn’t quite place him, and he looked, in the first second that he had glanced up, as though someone had torn his dreams out from under his feet.

Usually, it was he doing that very thing, but to hell with all of that –For the moment, at least. He was in a good mood –he’d just been payed for one shit of a job, after all. Money to blow, and no one to play with -And if he could cheer this young man up a little, then it would be all the better. For him, at least, because the good deed would go a little ways towards balancing out the chaos that he’d so recently wrote.

>>>

“Sure,” he finally replied, in spite of the fact that his better instincts were screaming at him to get out of here, “You got a regular?”

With one smooth movement, he flagged down a cab, and gave the driver the address of some place that he’d never heard of. The driver frowned at them on hearing the destination, but still dropped them off outside five minutes later.

“The Black Gem,” he muttered, looking up at the name of the place, as Ethan lead the way in, nodding to the bouncer, who stood to one side the instant he saw them approach.

“Good Evening, Reggie.”

“Good Evening, Mister Rayne.”

It took a few moments to work out why the driver had frowned. This place obviously had a reputation, and he could see why.

For the most part it looked like any other pub or bar on the main. But there was one difference.

All of the patrons were male. And a couple of them, in the more shadowy corners, looked to be rather engaged with one another.

>>>

He watched as the shock registered on the young mans face. He was obviously one of the few people in the city that hadn’t heard of this place.

And it would be a shame to lose his drinking companion so early on in the show. So, he reached out and caught his elbow before he could make good on his escape, and made him take a seat.

“Oh, relax. It’s not as though I’m going to jump you. My offer was for a few quiet drinks, and a sympathetic ear, and it still stands as is. I simply prefer this place for the… atmosphere.”

>>>

Xander listened to Ethan’s ready explanation. He preferred it for the atmosphere indeed.

Still, he did still want to relax. And at least this wasn’t the sort of place that Kathy would ever come looking for him at –if only because the bouncer wouldn’t allow her to pass through the door.

“Now, I seem to have missed your name. You do seem rather familiar, but I cannot fathom to place you,” he spoke, once he saw that the young man had forced himself to relax a little again.

“Alexander LaVelle Harris.” For once he used his full name, in a half-hearted attempt to throw Ethan of the trail to whom he really was.

>>>

Well, at least this one knows how to give a proper introduction.

Ethan frowned for a few moments, before he grinned, having turned it over in his mind, and come to a conclusion. He knew where he knew the young man from, now.

“Alexander. Xander, for short, wasn’t it? You were one of old Rupert’s white hats, in Sunnydale, weren’t you? What brings you all the way to Britain, my dear boy?”

He stiffened slightly, at the endearment, but resisted the urge to confine The Black Gem, and all of its clientele to a dark corner of his nightmares.

“It’s a long story.”

“Well, Alex…Do you mind if I call you Alex?”

A shrug.

“The best place to start, even with a long story, is at the beginning.”

>>>

By the time Ethan flagged down a cab, to run his young friend back home, still playing the roll of the gentleman, they had been talking and drinking for several hours, and Ethan had listened to everything. It felt bloody good to get everything off his chest.

And, after the first couple of beers had gone down, drinking with Ethan Rayne, in a gay bar, hadn’t seemed like such a strange thing.

It was just after midnight by the time he stumbled back into his house, and collapsed onto the couch, not wanting to face the wraith of Kathy, after he’d only just recovered from the last time she went off at him.

>>>

Giles watched, as Ethan called the cab over, and helped Xander up into it. As long as Ethan didn’t attempt anything then he saw no reason not to let things take place as they would. It would do Xander some good, to get away from Kathy as much as he could.

A couple of times he’d been moments away from forcibly vetoing the young mans relationship with the queen bitch, but whenever he’d moved to do so, Xander had practically begged him not to.

Maybe Ethan, however, could make him see some sense. After all, the Mage was nothing if not self-serving, and he seemed to be able to inspire that trait in anyone that he interacted with.

One Year Later

There was only one person that he could turn to, really. Well, with this sort of news, anyway. Oven the lunch break he rung a phone-number that had become just a familiar to him as his own. He may not have been due to catch up with Ethan again, for another two nights, but he needed the company tonight.

This evening.

>>>

He hadn’t been expecting the phone-call, today.

He’d had a job lined up for tonight, but young Alex came first, and he sounded seriously depressed. A friend-ship would always win out over a job.

>>>

As usual, Giles kept an eye on things from a distance, as Xander got out of a cab in front of The Black Gem. This time, there was one fundamental difference, however.

He was carrying a couple of heavy-looking hold-alls.

>>>

“Good evening, Alexander.”

By now, all of the bouncers knew him by name. Well, he had been drinking with Ethan Rayne for over a year, here, after all. It would have been more of a mystery if he weren’t recognized.

>>>

Ethan watched the young man, as he approached their regular table. He looked even more downcast than he had on the night they’d first drunk together.

“What’s wrong, Alex?”

The name ‘Alex’ suited the young man far better, he believed.

“It’s Kathy,” He was wasting no time, “she just kicked me out.”

Well, well, well. This is an interesting turn of events.

“Well, Alex. There’s only one thing that I could think of. You could stay with me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Entirely.”

>>>

Xander entered Giles’s office, and sat down in the chair in front of his desk.

“Yes, Xander? What can I do for you?”

“Kathy and… well, we’ve split up.”

He saw the satisfaction, which flared in Giles’s eyes, as he said it, but carried on, regardless.

“So, I was wondering if you could forward any mail to this address, instead?” He handed over the slip of paper with his new address on it.

Giles took it, and looked at it, before handing it back, his expression strangely satisfied, “I thought as much. You’ve moved in with Ethan.”

“I…what? How do you know?”

“I helped him pick the place out, Xander. In spite of our differences, we’ve still maintained some form of contact. And I’ve been keeping an eye on things since the first night that you went out drinking with him.”

“Umm, well. Yeah.”

He wasn’t sure what else he could say to that.

“He hasn’t tried to seduce you yet, has he?”

Xander looked shocked at that, “Perish the thought.”

>>>

When he got there, it was to find the couch folded out, and made up like a bed.

Ethan was still playing the gentleman.

>>>

“It wouldn’t be surprising, not really Xander. You do actually fit the bill rather well.”

Giles looked at Xander. They were talking about Ethan again.

“What do you mean I “fit the bill’?”

“He likes dominant people, those that aren’t afraid to fight, those that don’t turn away from a little passion.”

Eighteen Months Later

He was still sleeping on Ethan’s couch. Several times, he’d thought about trying to find a place of his own, but he was reasonably comfortable here.

But for the last month, the Mage had been in a increasingly sour mood. This evening, he’d walked out, saying only, “Don’t wait up.”

He wished he knew what was getting under his skin, because it made for a rather cold atmosphere.

>>>

Ethan was drunk enough that he wasn’t thinking straight. But sober enough to still keep his plot in mind. He’d been waiting for over two years now and he’d never been the most patient of people, as was.

He slipped his arms around the shoulders of the man standing next to him, “Come on home with me.”

>>>

It was after midnight, when Ethan came in, giggling, and rubbing himself against the man with him.

Felt sick, as he saw the other man steal a kiss.

Felt something that he couldn’t really identify, as a pair of cool brown eyes flicked to him for a second.

The stranger returned the kiss with equal depth, and vigor.

An anger, and a stomach-clenching nausea. Oh, god. He couldn’t be…

He’d said as recently as yesterday, that there was nothing there. But this… was the same sort of feeling that he used to get whenever he watched Buffy and Angel making out. When he first saw Willow and Oz kissing.

I can’t be jealous. Not of Ethan Rayne.

But even as he told himself that, he was across the room, and grabbing the other guy by the shoulders, swinging him around to slam against the wall. His fist caught him fully in the face, and seconds later blood began to run from his nose.

Felt hands on his on shoulders, holding him back, as the other guy made his escape.

“Alex. Calm. Down. Now,” the words were clipped, the tone of voice sharp.

He reacted. And not just to that, but to everything.

“No, don’t you tell me to calm down.”

“It was you, who said that there was nothing there. In pertinence to that, what should it matter to you if I decide that I want to have a little fun?”

“And I’m still saying that. There is nothing there. But you don’t…. You don’t fucking do shit like that. You don’t bring home a complete stranger, and…”

>>>

It was time to make the gambit. Either it would pay off, and he would finally get what he wanted out of this, or he would lose out, and lose everything.

“So you don’t fucking want it, but I’m not allowed any either? I haven’t been with anyone since this fucked up joke of a relationship started. I’m fucking sick of this.”

He spun, and stormed up the stairs, with Alex hot on his heel.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

He didn’t reply. Instead, grabbed a suitcase out from under the bed, kicked it open, and began to throw clothing into it.

“You can get the fuck out of my home!”

“But… but…” the boy stuttered. Then he grabbed Ethan by the shoulders, as though to shove him away.

And Ethan grabbed him back, spun them both around, and slammed him back against the wall.

>>>

He wasn’t sure how he’d gone from fighting with Ethan, to kissing him, with an equal fury.

I was wrong. There isn’t ‘nothing’ here.

Hands in his hair, tugging sharply back.

His back was throbbing sharply, from where he’d went into the wall.

And this time, Ethan was spinning him towards the bed. Pushing him back until they were on it, hands running up and over his body, exploring.

Straddling him.

He shivered at the touch.

Passion. Just like Giles had said.

>>>

“Giles?”

“Yes, Xander?”

“What is Ethan like…as a…a…well…”

“As a lover?”

“Well, yeah. That’s what I meant to say.”

One Year Later

“Ethan, I need you to come over to my place. Right away.”

Giles was frowning, as he held the phone to his ear.

“Why?”

“It’s Xander. He was bitten by a Septemia demon. The poison… it…”

“He’s dead?” Ethan’s tone of voice far too calm. Too collected. Too steady.

“Yes.”

“I’ll be right there.”

>>>

Ethan drew the chair to the bed where Xander’s body lay.

Seconds later, he gasped, and his eyes opened again.

“Alex?” he spoke softly, “Welcome back. Welcome to my world.”

“I thought I was dead.”

“You were.”

“Then, how…how is this possible?”

Giles brought in a couple of hot drinks.

Ethan closed his eyes for a few moments.

“I was born in London, in the year 1620. Even back then, chaos was my fortitude. I was a sorcerer of some magnitude. A few weeks after I turned forty-five, I was doing a spell with four others, and it got out of hand. It killed all of us, and sparked a fire in the process. This was in 1666. It was the start of The Fire. Several hours later, I came back, just in time to see it really take off.

“Baring the stroke of a sword, and the fall of a head, I can live forever. I’m an Immortal, Alex. As are you, now, too.”

"Immortal?" Xander queried the word.

At that, Ethan smiled, lightly. It had been a long time since he'd had a student. This was sure to prove interesting.

Present Day

“So, I can help. It’s not like I have to worry about dying.”

“In that case, I can use all the help I could get.”

>>>

“I hope, for her sake, that she has a long, full life. Our way isn’t for everyone.”

As Buffy had left, the persistent, barley perceptible buzz, which announced the presence of a pre-immortal faded.

“Yeah,” Xander muttered, as he looked towards the just closed door, “And I hope that Rupert does, too.”

Ethan stood, and looked down at Xander, who was sitting on the arm of the couch. The he lent down, and pressed a light kiss to his lips.

“For now, lets not worry about it.”

The End

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