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In Which Cleaning Attics Leads to a Crossover

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Summary: Answer to my own challenge. Xander cleans the attic and discovers some old letters of his mother's.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > Other Genre > Tomb RaiderDuctileFR712,6270112,76011 Jun 1011 Jun 10Yes
BtVS and Lara Croft Crossover

Xander and Hilary are cousins.

Answer to the Challenge: Xander and Hilary are second cousins, and Hilary is his godfather.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters mentioned here.

Author's Note: I couldn't find any record of Hilary's last name, so I picked the first one I thought of. Sorry, Hilary.

It was stiflingly hot up in the attic. Dust floated gently through the air on the tiny air currents caused by the movements of the teenage boy. Xander whistled soundlessly as he worked to make some sense of the chaotic mess of boxes, old suitcases, and garbage bags full of old clothing and curtains. His mother had sent him up several hours earlier with the vague instruction to “clean up the attic.” The fourteen year old boy had determined to do so, mostly for fear of his father’s fists, but taking every chance for a bit of fun in exploring the contents of the old place.

He’d managed to look through every box, bag, and decrepit container in the hours he’d been there so far. Now, he was intent on stacking them as neatly as he could. Despite what his best friends Willow and Jessie might think, Xander enjoyed putting things into some semblance of order, and keeping them neat. It was the only reason the kitchen and downstairs bathroom remained in working order; his parents weren’t about to clean up anything.

As he lifted the boxes and bags, he noticed a small wooden chest tucked away in a dark, dirty corner. Hmm. Could have some old jewelry or something in it, he mused curiously. He didn’t really expect the contents to be worth anything, or his parents would have pawned it off some time ago. Seating himself on the grimy floor, Xander pulled the chest out of the corner. It had a small padlock on it that gave way after only a few strong jerks. Gingerly, he opened the chest and coughed at the cloud of dust that emerged. Eyes wide in curiosity, the teenager reached in and pulled out several old letters and an ancient-looking photo album. He opened the album and stared down at the faded photographs.

There were details noted in the margins in a heavy, masculine print. Beside a photo of three young children in stiff formal clothing of thirty years previously, it said, “Hilary, Jessie, and Kevin: Cousins and best friends. Taken at Jessie’s seventh birthday.” He turned the page to see the same three children chasing each other across a large lawn. He turned the album sideways to read the caption: “The real fun comes after Mum has gone for her nap.” Xander grinned; he was always more comfortable when he knew his parents were sleeping the heavy sleep of the thoroughly drunk. The next page was of only two of the children, a boy and the girl, a couple years later, with the description, “Hilary and Jessie, at Hilary’s 9th birthday.” Xander flipped through the album hurriedly; there was no further sign or mention of the other boy, Kevin. Briefly, he wondered if Kevin had been either Hilary or Jessie’s brother, then promptly put the thought aside as irrelevant.

The album continued on through several more years, cataloguing Hilary and Jessie’s childhood as cousins. Xander was rather surprised to see several obviously English locations mentioned in the margins; the two children had evidently been English. That made him reconsider his idea that Jessie was his mother, Jessica; she wasn’t English! Besides, that would have meant that the boy was named Hilary! He choked down a giggle at the thought.

As he reached the end of album, the last photo caught his attention: Jessie, several years older than the previous photo, dressed in a plain white dress and wedding veil and rather obviously pregnant; she was reclining slightly against a tall, slender man with dark hair. There was rather a long note beside this photo saying, “My Jessie, although it seems only yesterday that you were my bonny little girl, you have grown into a beautiful young woman with her own mind. Although I will never agree with all your decisions, know that I will always love you and your expected child. If ever you have need of anything, Jessica Rose Harris née Worthington, you need only ask us. Hilary sends his love and best wishes. I love you, my precious lass. Return to us soon, even if only for a short visit. Loving you always, Your dear old Da.

Xander drew in a deep breath. So Jessie was his mother! He looked at the photo closely and admitted that he could see the resemblance to his parents. He was half-English! The teenager frowned slightly. It seemed like his grandparents were good people; why had his mother left them for someone like his father? More to the point, why had he never noticed that his mother was English?! It seemed an important question…

He looked through the letters, noting that they seemed to be between Jessie Worthington Harris and Hilary Swank, at which name he shook his head mournfully. They seemed to cover a six month span, the three months before his birth and three after; Xander found one which was dated eleven days after his birth and slipped it out of its envelope. The paper was slightly brittle with age, and rustled with dust.

“’Dear Jessie,’” Xander read quietly, having no desire to bring either of his parents up the stairs. “’I am so pleased to hear of the birth of my nephew. I would be delighted to be considered little Alexander Lavelle’s godfather, but must tell you that I likely shan’t get a chance to see him for some months. My position with the Crofts is currently taking up much of my time; Lord Croft has been ill of late, and my duties towards the young child Lady Croft cannot be neglected. As soon as Lord Croft seems to be recovered, I will visit you and my godson as quickly as I may.’” Xander paused to frown at the extremely formal language, but pressed on. “’I’ve missed you greatly over the past years, Jessie. I know that I promised you not to nag, but I regret that you wouldn’t permit me to share in your life as an adult. I watch young Lady Croft playing with her dolls and ponies, and cannot help but remember our own frolics at that age. We were so very close as children; inseparable. I cannot help but wonder if that began to end when your brother Kevin died…’” the teenager trailed off. Well, that answered that question.

Please promise that if you ever regret your marriage with Anthony Harris, you will immediately fly yourself and young Alexander back home to your parents, or to me; I will gladly pay for the Trans-Atlantic ticket. I know that you love him, but love does not always provide peace and safety and food on the table. I may not be able put you up for lodging here, as I reside in Croft Manor, but I can pay for a modest flat nearby until you find your place here in Britain again.” Xander raised an eyebrow; his mother’s cousin had been willing to pay room and board for his estranged cousin and her baby? This Hilary must have loved his family a great deal. He’d never known a family like that. Willow’s parents barely paid their daughter any attention at all, and Jessie’s parents were always caught up in trying to pay that month’s bills or in the newest soap opera, it seemed; they were loving enough, Xander supposed, but weren’t overly interested in their only son’s activities and pursuits.

The letters continued in a similar vein, and he merely glanced them over until he reached the last one. It was very short. “Jessie,” it began, “Please do not write me for money again. I am perfectly aware that Anthony is capable of supporting you and Alexander; if he is neglecting that duty, then I am willing to send you and Alexander a plane ticket back to London. There will be no more money from me in any other form. I respect myself too much to continue deluding myself into believing your excuses about the lack of jobs in the area; the economy in the States is functioning perfectly well, and there should be no shortage of jobs of one kind or another. I am not so foolish as you seem to think me, even if I have only just reached my eighteenth birthday, which you seem to have forgotten. I love you, Jessie, but not enough to sell my soul through false hope. Write me if you ever want that plane ticket, but I think that our correspondence should otherwise be laid to rest. Please send me photos of my godson as he grows; for his sake, I am willing to open your letters. Please do not sully that for me by sending further requests for money with those photos; it will gain you nothing, and will taint my enjoyment of the pictures. Remember, you have but to ask, and I will bring you back to London. Love to both you and young Alexander. Your Cousin, Hilary.

Xander closed the letter slowly, swallowing a lump in his throat. He had loving family, somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic. He couldn’t help but wonder what his godfather was doing at that moment. Was he a butler? A teacher? Maybe someone like Alfred Pennyworth was to Batman, only to a British Lord and Lady. He briefly entertained the thought of Batman’s alter ego as a British Lord, and grinned. The man was probably old and boring and smelled like books, even if he was a lord. It would be cool to live in a manor…assuming that a manor was like a castle, of course. The teenager shook the idea out of his head, but looked at the letters thoughtfully.

Hilary looked through the post, forming two piles. The invitation to Lady Salisburn’s Christmas ball went in one pile, while the thicker envelope containing old maps and similar antiquarian documents was laid in the other pile. “’I formally request the presence of Lady Lara Croft at the baptism of my firstborn son and heir, James Edward Crawford III,’” the young man began reading, and sighed heavily. “This is the third baptism this year asking for her presence.” The baptismal invitation went in the first pile. Two more invitations to parties quickly followed it before he came across a cheap envelope marked with American postage. “Hilary Swank,” he read off the envelope with surprise evident in his voice. “Who is writing me at Croft Manor?” he wondered aloud to the ceiling of the entrance hall.

“That’s a good question,” a slender hand snatched the envelope from him before he could read the name of the sender. “Do you know an Alexander Harris, Hilary?” Hilary’s eyebrows shot up in shock. “I see you do know him. Who is he?”

“My godson,” her butler/teacher/trainer/researcher/librarian/companion snatched for the envelope; Lara Croft held it out of reach, slender eyebrow cocked in question.

“Godson?” she prompted.

“His mother is my cousin. She named me his godfather, but we had a small falling out and I never had the chance to meet him. We’ve never written each other; something might have happened to his mother to prompt him to write now.” He reached for the envelope, distress apparent on his face. Lara instantly handed it over.

Hilary carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the folded piece of lined notebook paper, which had rather obviously been torn from a binder. “Dear Sir,” he read aloud, “I’m sorry if you never wanted me to write to you.” Both adults frowned at this beginning. “I just read your letters to my mother, and you asked for her to not write to you asking for more money.” Lara’s eyes widened in understanding. “I wasn’t sure if that meant I couldn’t write, either, but I figured the worst you could do is write back to yell at me. Well, actually, the worst you could do is write to yell at Mom, who would then yell at me, and…well, badness would be had by all involved. Namely, me.” Hilary stopped reading, utterly confused.

“He’s worried that you would complain to his mother, who would then punish him,” Lara translated helpfully. “Well, I think that’s what he said. There might have been an undertone of something else, though.”

“Yes, I did catch that,” Hilary spoke bemusedly, a small note of worry underlying his tone. He took a deep breath and continued reading. “So…if you want to write back, I’d like that. I’ve never had a pen pal, although Willow has four in South America and Canada, and keeps telling me that I should get one, but it costs a lot to buy stamps, and I only have enough money to buy comic books every month, so I borrowed four of Willow’s stamps, but I haven’t told her that yet, but I’ll pay her back. Well, I’ll let her read my comic books, anyway.” Lara snorted with laughter at that. Hilary shook his head in amusement. The boy was quite the character. “Willow is my best friend, well, one of them. Jessie is my other best friend. We’re like the Three Musketeers of our school, except without swords. And without being cool.” Lara giggled; a small smile began to grow on Hilary’s face.

Mom never told me that she was English, and she doesn’t have an accent, either. I guess the accent disappeared; maybe American English drowned it out before I was old enough to tell. I’ve never had any family outside of my parents, unless you count Uncle Rory, who comes over now and then to sleep on our couch all day. He’s not really my uncle; he’s friends with Dad, though, and I’ve always called him that. Anyway, I don’t know what I’m supposed to call a godfather. What do I call you? Do you live in a castle? You said that you work in a manor; is that a castle? Do you wear armor and ride on a horse? That would be cool.

Well, I hope that you don’t mind me writing to you. Mom doesn’t know that I’m doing it; I think she might get mad if she did. She’s never talked about her family before. Are my mom’s parents still alive? Do I have a grandma and granddad? What about other relatives? It’d be nice to have a family. To have a family in England, I mean. That’s cool. I’m half-English! Wait’ll I tell Willow and Jessie! I haven’t told them yet because I want to see if you’ll write back first. It’s no fun having family in England who hate my guts. Not that I’m not used to it, but I want to wait and see. I hope you don’t hate my guts, even if you were mad at Mom. I guess this is where I end the letter. I’ll talk to you later. Maybe. If you write back, I mean. Sincerely, Your Godson, Xander Harris.

“So he goes by Xander,” Lara commented. “That’s an unusual appellation; I wonder how he got it?” Hilary hmm-d quietly in agreement. “You’ll be writing back to him, of course.” It was not a question. Hilary nodded absently. “Perhaps you might finally meet your godson, after all.” Hilary didn’t even hear her, having gone off in search of pen and paper – proper, unlined letter paper.

The End

End Note: If anyone would like to use this as the foundation for a longer story, I'd be delighted. I will not be adding further content; this is a one-shot, and I have no intentions of adding to it myself.

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