I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or MASH. They belong to Joss Whedon and Larry Gelbart respectively.
AN: I believe this fic fits into canon... That was my intention...
Occurs during The Zeppo
~~A Pat on the BackJanuary 26th 1999
Catholic Youth Organization, Sunnydale Chapter
Father Mulcahy glanced up as he heard someone pounding on the heavy bag. He sighed softly in exasperation. Xander. It had to be.
Xander Harris had been Mulcahy’s special pet project since he had come to Sunnydale in 1990. Xander was a child with a great deal of rage that needed an outlet. Francis Mulcahy had offered him a punching bag… quite literally. As Francis had discovered during the war in Korea, sometimes your anger just needs an outlet.
Xander was the only child of the town drunks. As such, everybody looked down on him. Everyone compared him to those two tortured souls that were throwing their lives away in favour of inebriation. God knew that Mulcahy was no stranger to alcohol. Only Burns and Radar had been relatively pure in that sense in Korea. Still, there was a lot to drink about in Korea. Here in Sunnydale they were only hurting their son.
Francis approached Xander at a slow pace, analysing his form. This was very bad. Xander was starting to abandon the forms he had been taught in favour of just attacking the bag like a savage. Whatever was bothering Xander must really have him wound up for him to forget his forms.
“What is it, my son?”
Xander spun about in surprise at Mulcahy’s sudden presence, taking a tumble to the floor as a result. Somewhat embarrassed, Xander hauled himself back up to speak to his CYO boxing coach. “What makes you think anything’s wrong, Father?”
Mulcahy just speared Xander with a knowing look. “Either that or you need a refresher course on the basics of throwing a punch, not to even mention your footwork.”
Xander blushed faintly. In boxing or in life, Father Mulcahy pulled no punches. Xander considered for a moment, trying to decide how to broach the subject. “My friends are cutting me out of our activities. They say it’s too dangerous for me.”
Francis pursed his lips faintly. He knew exactly what Xander and his friends did at night. It was a sort of unspoken truth. Everyone knew, really, save for a few of the truly thick. It was why Father Mulcahy disliked the police of Sunnydale. There was no way they didn’t know what was going on. “And you feel that it isn’t?”
Xander growled faintly. “It is and it isn’t. It’s dangerous for all of us. I don’t think the danger is that much greater for me in particular, you know.”
Father Mulcahy nodded agreeably. “I was a chaplain in Korea, you know. I was assigned to a medical unit. More than anything, I wanted to be assigned to a combat unit, where I felt I could do some real good. I was told by my CO that line officers didn’t want chaplains in combat. It was just another unarmed man they had to take care of.”
Xander nodded faintly. “You think that’s how they see me? As their chaplain? Someone to leave at home until you return to accept whatever comfort he can offer you.”
Mulcahy shrugged. “Perhaps. Why do you do this, Xander?”
Xander blinked. “What?”
Francis did not back down. “Why do you do what it is you do?”
Xander considered that question for a moment. “I suppose originally I was trying to impress someone. That died pretty quickly though. I found other reasons to fight.”
“As well you should, my son. I learned a long time ago that trying to impress someone was not a proper use of my time.”
Xander nodded. “It shifted to revenge for a while. I really resented them taking Jesse away from me. It wasn’t right.”
Mulcahy winced. He’d known Jesse’s disappearance had been a sore point with Xander, but he hadn’t realised that Jesse disappearance had been ‘that’ type of disappearance. “No, I don’t suppose it was. Still, revenge is best left to the lord. Do not let it devour you so, Xander.”
Xander shook his head. “It was all I could think about for a long while. Revenge was what I lived and breathed. It was my reason. Then we heard about a prophecy...”
Mulcahy let Xander speak, sensing that they were getting to what Xander really wanted to address.
Xander seemed to steel himself to continue. “It said that Buffy would die, that there was essentially nothing we could do about it. Everyone shut down. Nobody believed that it was possible to stop it from occurring. It was prophecy. It was immutable.”
Xander snorted. “I didn’t care. I was damned if I was going to let them take another of my friends without a fight. And so I fought… and somehow I won. Buffy survived, despite the prophecy declaring she’d die, despite everyone giving up on her, despite her giving up on herself, she lived. And I liked to believe she lived because of me, because I didn’t give up.
“I’m not so arrogant as to believe that I’m the only one that can save the world. Still, when something like that prophecy comes up that only I can see through, I know why I have to fight the good fight. If not me, then who? That’s what sustains me, I suppose. If I don’t stand and fight then eventually they’ll come up against something that they needed me there for and they’ll die because I wasn’t there to stand up and be counted.”
Mulcahy smiled. This was the Xander that he had worked so hard to develop over the years. “If that is your belief, then you mustn’t let them cut you out, Xander. And keep this in mind. People who believe they are protecting you can be very stubborn. Don’t give up. This won’t be a piece of cake, but it’ll be worth it.”
“Cake…” Xander’s eyes seemed to fade as he considered something for a long moment. “Cake… Baking a cake.” Xander’s eyes bulged as a niggling memory came to his mind. “I’ve gotta go, Father. I’ve gotta take a cake out of the oven before it gets burned.”
Mulcahy watched Xander leave with a bemused smile. Somehow he doubted it was anything as simple as a cake that had Xander moving so fast. “See you Sunday, Xander.” And with that Mulcahy turned about and left the workout room. He had a feeling Xander would be okay. Sometimes all mankind needed to move forward was a sympathetic ear and a pat on the back…
Father Mulcahy is my favourite fiction chaplain ever.
Hope you enjoyed.