Part 2 : A Call To Apathy
BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon. NCIS:LA belongs to the house that produced NCIS, JAG and Magnum PI (Bellisario).Fandoms :
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) and NCIS : Los Angeles (NCIS:LA)Note :
This is as far as the written stuff goes, but the story is planned out. Has been for months. Thanks go to churkey for doing the betareading on this one as well.
---Part 2 : A Call To Apathy
“Dad?” Xander called out as he walked into the living room. “You know that phone call we just had? It was kinda important.”
His father grunted. “Who?”
“Rosemary for the Elder,” he replied. “That’s the place where granddad apparently stayed.”
“What does he want?”
Xander decided to cut the chase. This communication thing between his dad and him? Never did work the way those things are supposed to work, ‘moving out’ certainly didn’t help the matter either. “Probably a funeral,” he said.
His father apparently took that as good news: his head lifted up from its slumped position and for the first time that day, he looked Xander in the eye. “The bastard’s dead?”
“He got a hemorrhage at night, they didn’t find him until the next morning,” Xander explained.
“Hehe,” his father chuckled. “Got what he deserved. Well, good riddance.”
Uncomfortable with the rather out of place schadenfreude, Xander continued his explanation. “They’re expecting someone from the family to come over and take care of things. You know, papers and stuff.”
For a brief moment, he’d been convinced that that would be the end for him, that he’d done his duty and now his parents could take care of the rest. That moment lasted approximately half a second, which is when he noticed his father’s expression. It conveyed pure loathing.
“I said years ago I didn’t want anything to do with the miserable fuck,” the other man ranted. “Now that he’s dead, I’m certainly not going to change my mind!” Having said what he wanted to say, he apparently thought it was time to drink from his bottle again.
Xander kept quiet. While his father might have adopted an “in sight, out of mind’” attitude towards him, he’d still witnessed his parents’ arguments. If somebody interrupted the man’s “drinking moment,” certainly when he wasn’t in a good mood already, then things could get... rough. Add in his mother, who had a pretty mean streak as well, and rough tended to become explosive.
Sometimes it was difficult for him to tell whom he disliked the most: his mother or his father. Generally speaking, his mother treated him better. She tried, no matter how inadequate her attempts were. Then again, nothing hurts more than being insulted by your own mother.
Which, oddly enough, brought Cordelia to the fore of his mind. Xander blinked. No, he wasn’t going to go there.
“You do it,” said his father.
Xander glanced up, observing the harsh glint in the other’s eyes. “What?”
“I said: you do it. You’re of age now, isn’t that what you told us? And you’ve got a car. I don’t see why I should bother when you can. Hell, you can even have the inheritance, I don’t want a single dime from that man.”
“If that’s what you want,” said Xander sarcastically.
“Good,” the man asserted. “Now get out of my sight, I don’t want to see your ugly face again.”
Why do I even bother? Xander asked himself, then walked out of the room. He didn’t it was possible, but his dad’s reaction made him feel even more disappointed in the man. Is it so difficult to show some respect? Not that I’m worth a lot of respect of course, but well... Yeah. I know what I mean.
His mother must have woken up somewhere between the phone call and him walking out of the door, because there she was, beckoning him into the kitchen. Not really understanding what she might want from him, Xander nonetheless obeyed her command.
“Close the door,” she whispered.
He frowned. Did she want to tell him something, or what?
“What did you talk about with your father?” she questioned.
Xander glanced about the kitchen, wondering if anything had changed since he’d last been here. Naturally, nothing had in the one and a half hours he’d been gone. It certainly would have been strange if that were the case.
His mother was staring at him with that look in her eyes, expecting a response. What did she ask again? Hmm... Previous, skip, previous, go back,... Aha.
“Did you hear the phone ring?” he asked.
Now it was her turn to frown. “The phone rang?”
“Yup,” he confirmed. “It was the retirement home. Granddad Max has died.”
“Max is dead?”
“How did your father take it?”
He smiled wryly. “Gleefully.”
She sighed. Was that disappointment he’d heard?
“You think he shouldn’t be either?” He couldn’t help the slight hope from clouding his voice. Like or dislike aside, he was still his parents’ child, still holding out for that ray of acceptance, a sign that clearly says ‘we’re related’.
“Oh no, I don’t give a rat’s arse about Max,” she denied. “When you told me he’s dead though, I was hoping your father suffered at least a little bit. He depleted the alcohol budget this afternoon, so now I’m stuck with three bottles of sherry for the rest of the month!”
He nodded awkwardly.
“Well, I’m leaving,” he finally said. “I’ll probably be back some time tomorrow. Dad wants me to deal with granddad’s paperwork and I haven’t a clue where he stayed.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said. “Maybe I’ll remember where we put his address then.”
Ten seconds later, he was outside the house, toilet bag clutched in his hand. The sight of his car amazed him for a moment. With the phone call and the conversations with his parents, Xander had completely forgotten about his road trip.
“If I hadn’t picked up the phone,” he mumbled to himself. “I’d probably be in Massachusetts by now.”
He entered the car, threw his toilet bag on the backseat and started the engine. The way his parents were now, he really didn’t want to stay any longer. He really would rather just head for the 101 and head south, forgetting about the entire affair. Because honestly? Grandfathers dying a natural death didn’t rate much in his books. Perhaps a year ago, yeah, then he might have cared more than he did now.
Some would say “but it’s your grandad, your family,” to which Xander would lift his eyebrow and respond with a succulent “so what.” Family... meant nothing. Family says something about your environment, the examples you might or mightn’t become, but aside the psychological side, family didn’t matter. What mattered, Xander knew, were your friends. After all, family’s something someone somewhere forced upon you, while friends are choices you’ve made, a reflection of yourself.
So why was he doing it, obeying his father’s wishes, handling things? Why didn’t he just hit the road and leave this city behind him? Why did he care?
Because, he thought, I’m hoping that one day, when it’s me that’s dead and gone, someone will care enough to send me off. That someone will grieve over me, or at least be there to acknowledge my passing. That I don’t go quietly into the night, like dust in the wind.
And that essentially settled the issue, didn’t it? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you: it was a lesson he’d learned sometime in the past year.
He’d been driving all over Sunnydale throughout the remainder of the day, too proud to knock on Willow’s door and too polite to intrude into the Summers household. Considering his hometown and his ‘social network,’ that left him with surprisingly little to do. Eventually he’d parked near the beach, intent to at least catch that tiny otherworldly sensation by sleeping in his car and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
It wasn’t exactly Vegas’ neon invasion, nor Manhattan’s torchy salute to liberty, but at least it wasn’t something he experienced every day.
Hours later, Xander came to the rather disgruntling conclusion that small cars aren’t made for people like him. His backseat, which had seemed sufficient, proved to be three feet too short to be comfortable, not to mention that doors? Will never replace pillows.
Notwithstanding the discomfort, he did manage to fall asleep somewhere between midnight and one o’clock in the morning.
Then, out of the darkness, somebody knocked on his window.
“AAAAAAH!” shouted Xander, bumping his head first against a car seat, then against the ceiling. “Oww!”
Panicked, he turned around, trying to identify the creep who’d disturbed his peace and quiet. Ooh, breasts! was his first observation when he finally found the culprit. Slowly, carefully, ready to deny reality the minute it asserted itself, he raised his gaze. Please don’t be a demon, please don’t be a demon, please don’t be a demon. A thought struck him then, remembering paragraphs and drawings in stuffy books. Please don’t be a demon, unless you’re a succubus. Please don’t be... Huh? “Buffy?”
The girl in question waved in greeting, yet gave him a look of confusion as well.
Xander looked from the driver’s seat of his car to the Vampire Slayer standing right outside the vehicle, trying to decide what to do. Wounded pride, blended with a dash of humiliation and shame or an abrupt departure into the void of the night?
Thirty seconds later, he stepped out of the Stanza. “Hi, Buffy!” he greeted with a sheepish smile. “What are you doing here?”
Buffy raised her eyebrows, obviously unimpressed. “Weren’t you going to go on that big road trip thingy?”
All right, Mister Harris, Operation Save Face needs to be reinstated, his mental Man In Black voice commanded. Xander smiled a little brighter. “As you can obviously see, my dear Buffy, this is a car.” He pointed at the car. “As you might know, cars are used to ride on roads.” He pointed at the road six feet to his right. “These little known facts, combined with my obvious presence, should then tell you that yes, I am on a road trip and no, I did not have relations with that exhaust pipe.” He stopped talking, afraid of what would come out of his mouth next.
Buffy just shook her head. “I’m not even going to think about what you just implied.” She adopted a sterner expression, reminiscent of the late Snyder’s default expression. “But I am wondering why you, of all people, would even consider sleeping outside. Hello, Sunnydale: vampires!”
Xander’s eyes opened wide in realization. “Oh.” He scratched at the back of his neck. “Can you believe I completely forgot they existed?”
“No, not really,” said Buffy. “Did something happen that made you go funny with the common sense?”
Xander shrugged. “I suppose so. It’s nothing or anything important, just family issues that need to be resolved. And I didn’t feel like spending the night with my parents.”
“Why didn’t you come to my place?” she asked. “We have a couch; my mom wouldn’t mind. Willow would have let you stay as well, you know.”
He shrugged again, not wanting to admit his wounded pride.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Men!”
“So,” he started, “what are you doing here this time of night?”
Now it was her turn to shrug. “Patrol. The swim team’s been spotted, I thought I’d check it out.”
“Nothing right now, but I’m gonna keep an eye out just in case.”
Xander nodded, understanding the sentiment. He looked at Buffy. “So what’s the plan?”
“You,” she pointed her finger at his chest, “are going to drive us to my house, where you’re going to sleep on my couch. Seriously, Xander, I don’t want to see this again. You know homes are the only places safe from vamps. If this were Spokane, I wouldn’t bother, but you know this city as well as me.”
He nodded slowly. “I get it, I get it. No more sleeping in cars on the Hellmouth.”