Legacies and Side Effects
All day, he’d put a brave face, and all but a select few thought he was fine, that he didn’t remember the events. Those that knew the truth were either a watcher, or had been right alongside him.
For them, they had the horror of what happened to Flutie.
For him, he had the horror of what he’d tried to do to Buffy, and the confusion when she’d struck him with a table or something heavy. He’d snuck away just after school let out, and convinced the girls that he was going to go home and just ‘vegatate’, no patrol for the xandman.
Really, he’d gone to the library and asked Giles if he could read up on the possession. An almost insatiable need to know what had happened to him had taken root, just as it had when he’d found out about vampires.
And what he’d read allowed him and Giles to recognise something. Either Hyena’s embued more strength than suggested, or it wasn’t a hyena. And considering that he’d been ‘the alpha’, he was leaning toward the latter since hyena’s are matriarchal.
The timeline in the book on how long it takes to self destruct was also off, given he was very much alive, along with the dickheads that had gone into the closed-off exhibit in the first place.
It was approaching time when Buffy was to arrive, for one of her few patrols with Giles. She spent at least two a week with Giles alongside, and tonight was such a night. He packed up the books and helped Giles to put them away into their hidden locations.
“I must say, Xander. You’re picking up Sumerian quite well.” Giles commented as he started to gather weapons for the night, and noticed a few needed sharpening.
“Yeah well, I’m motivated, aren’t I?” He replied as he moved to pack a few books into a bag with Giles’ permission.
“Indeed you are.”
They were interrupted at that point by the door swinging open early, and revealing Miss Calendar and Buffy talking in low whispers, before Jenny made a hasty retreat for some reason upon seeing Giles, who was completely oblivious.
Xander, however, wasn’t, but ignored it as he greeted, “Hey Buff.”
“I thought you were going to stay at home tonight?” She asked in confusion, as she watched a myriad of odd emotions roll across his face, none of which she identified.
“Yeah, but the ole’ folks wanted some privacy.” He lied. “So I thought, Me and Giles could, you know... talk.”
“You... and Giles?” She asked bemused.
He nodded, and waved at some books on the table that he was packing into his bag still. “Yeah. I’m not all that good out on patrol, so I thought why not improve how I help the gang. Giles has been teaching me Sumerian.” He decided to reveal, hoping that would distract her from asking anything more.
“And has kept trying to ask how to swear in it too.” Giles inserted with a light snark, understanding his tactic.
“Hey, I got to get my fun somewhere. And between Witches setting girls on fire, Teachers trying to mate with and kill us at the same time, and trying to stop some weird prophecy crap, there’s the regular nightly encounters, and generally trying to avoid the hospital. So far, successfully. There’s not enough time for actual fun, and quips in class don’t count, as I’m usually too tired to put much effort in.”
Giles paused as he took that statement in. “Indeed, Xander. There are times that a humorous quip can lighten the burden our chosen paths lay on us.”
“Just not when we don’t understand you.” Buffy finished in odd sync with her watcher of only a couple months.
“Curses, foiled.” Xander joked flatly, then shouldered his bag. “Anyway, I’ll let you two get ready for patrol, I’m off home.”
“It’s already dark, Xander. We’ll escort you.”
Xander snorted, and revealed a pair of stakes in arm holsters, then two in holsters just in the crook of his back. “My route home doesn’t take me past any ‘cold’ spots, Buff. Only the vamps either too stupid, or too scared of you tend to hunt there, and simply telling them what would happen if you found me dead one day is enough to put them off. And If it’s alone, I can stake ‘em while they hesitate. It’s just the stronger lot that tend to stick around you on patrols that I can’t really handle.”
Buffy blinked, and Giles nodded in the affirmative. “Indeed Buffy, Both Xander and myself are capable of defending ourselves from vampires one-on-one if luck and initiative are one our side. Most try to avoid the Slayer, yourself, because, as you say, you’re their “Boogeywoman.” They are also the ones that are less of a threat, tending not to either turn or kill when they feed. Now, Xander I believe you wish to get home before it does indeed get too dark?” Xander nodded, “Buffy, as we had planned on some training before patrol, perhaps you would care to do some warm-ups, while I drive Xander home?”
Xander looked at him, and sighed at the obvious message.
“Uh... sure.” Buffy nodded, knowing something was going on, but ignored it in favour of going into Giles’ supply room of things to turn the library into a gym. She liked the warm-up sessions, but not the training parts. Holdovers from her cheerleader days, really.
Xander and Giles went out to his car, and Xander blinked. “Where’s the Citreon?”
“Some bloody twat side-swipped it last Friday.” Giles muttered as he got into the drivers’ seat of a station wagon. Xander noticed the chevy badge, then blinked as Giles started the engine.
Giles winced. “Bloody Yanks. It’s a V8.”
Xander blinked. “First... Why a station wagon, and second... why a... V8...?”
“It was the only bloody thing they had in stock.” Giles said, before he tried to gently drive them around, and it was obvious he was too used to stick-shift gearbox, and not at all used to the high power engine.
He was hoping Giles would forget to ask.
His hopes were not answered.
“Xander... She will find out that you remember.”
“I know. Hopefully not for a long time.” He said, face darkening at the memory.
“I don’t presume to know the mind of teenage girls, but I believe they don’t blame you for what happened.”
“Yeah well, while my head knows it, my heart doesn’t. Or whichever way around it’s supposed to be.”
“Quite.” Giles was silent then, until he pulled in outside of Xander’s, and proving just how long Xander had stayed at the library, the sun had set an hour previously, and the sky was now dark. “I know what it is to try and find solace in learning about how it happened, and more, but don’t drown yourself in the arcane and ancient history. I did that when I was your age and refusing to join the Watchers Council.”
Xander nodded, and slowly got out.
“And Xander...I’ve read as much as you have about the possession. I have found that excercise, you know, the movement of arms and legs to work muscles? It tends to work to help make me too tired to have any nightmares.”
Xander nodded and went up the sidewalk, and waved bye to his friend as he entered the house.
Door shut, he heard the 5 litre V8 rumble as Giles pulled away, and closed his eyes.
Everytime he’d looked at Buffy, he’d seen more than just what had happened. He’d seen what would have if she hadn’t done something. It had been getting frustrated in more than that
way, and Xander knew that if it had been denied too long, it would have instead done something that he wasn’t sure wasn’t the worst. Slayer or not, she’s been struggling to subdue him anyway, when he was trying to... do that. If he’d been trying to kill her, she wouldn’t have stood much of a chance.
And that only brought to mind every horror he’d seen since he met her. Alongside everything, her finding out he’s still a Virgin rated rather low, no matter how he tried to play it otherwise, both at the time and since. If anything, feeling embarrassed at it allowed him distraction from the horrors.
He opened his eyes and saw something he’d begun to notice even before said incident. Something that made him wonder how Willow was coping at times, before he remembered that part that Jesse wasn’t really Willow’s friend, so much as his, and to her, she’s gained a friend. She forgot about Jesse so easily because of that, and she blocked most of what he did when he was alive, what with his cordelia fixation.
But he’d lost a friend, and slowly loosing the respect of the school, his father didn’t give a damn and his mother hadn’t much strength to do anything because of her illness, and throwing nightly encounters with Vampires?
He’d lied when he told Buffy about using her to stay alive. They only tried to attack harder on the one occasion he had. It’s actually why Giles offered to drive him home... because it had been Giles who found him those nights when he’d encountered more than one in one go. He’d taken them out, but hadn’t the strength to get home.
He knew how willow and Buffy would respond.
And on top of that lot, the near-weekly incident with other threats that weren’t vampires.
His aunt had a word for what he was suffering. But since he was still in the middle of it, he can’t exactly call it “Post-Traumatic”.
His hands shook slightly, and he clenched them into fists willing it to stop.
He heard from the living room the usual sounds of the TV, the slurps and burps of his dad drinking again to the sounds of some old cop show, reliving his glory days in whichever PD it was he’d been in before getting cashiered out on his ass after he’d killed some kid that had aimed a toy gun at him, although said toy gun was painted and so the orange bit on the front wasn’t.
He knew what he was suffering from, because his dad was too. He’d heard his aunt when mom told her about his career, and her telling mom about PTSD.
What his dad had been through isn’t something he could get over, not with the way any cop who knew him then or now treat him. They either see him as a kid-killer, or a lazy ass scum-of-the-earth. No one except his mom gave Tony much reason to get out of bed in the morning.
And his mom wasn’t exactly strong. She struggled with a lot of things, and always had. Because she didn’t have much strength, she couldn’t defend herself all that much. And she had a phobia of the night. Not night time itself, but the outside world at night. She once told him, when he was young, it was because of the stuff Tony had seen before he was fired – gangs, drugs, and all that ‘normal’ stuff that puts the action into cop shows.
She’d met Tony when they were young. They actually got together as a couple when she was 15, he 17.
Tony, on the days that his PTSD subsided, was a decent guy. But those days were getting rarer and rarer, for the longer that it was untreated. And really, most ‘civilians’ have no idea what PTSD is.
Tonight was not altogether PTSD-free in the Harris household, as Tony’s current mood was ‘drink myself to oblivion’.
There were nights that he and his dad both had either insomnia or simple fear of having nightmares, and would both sit on the coach, and they’d watch – at Xander’s calm insistence – any of their recorded TV shows or movies that had nothing to do with cops. And they’d drink.
He ventured into the living room, knowing that tonight would the same as the previous – he’d have a nightmare worse than the last and end up drinking with his dad anyway, so he might as well get a headstart.
Jessica, his mom, looked up from reading a book and saw him enter and head for the cooler, clearly intent on having a drink.
Then she realised upon looking at him in confusion, that he had the similar look on his face as Tony did. And that his hands where shaking without his own knowledge.
Tony looked up, and into his sons eyes. He’d obviously only just started, as he was sober enough to recognise that look. One he’d only ever seen in the eyes of fellow cops that... well.
He gulped, and turned to Jessica and realised she’d noticed the same as he had. “Jess.” He said simply, and looked at the phone.
She picked it up, and Xander watched with confusion at what was going on. She dialled a number, and he recognised part of the sequence, but had no time to think on that, before she handed him the phone.
He looked at it, and heard a muffled ‘hello’ from the speaker.
He held it up, and heard it, clearer. “Hello?” The woman on the other end spoke, slower this time.
He recognised the voice fine. “Sam?” He whispered.
“... Xander?” She sounded tired. “Why are you calling so late?”
His mind ran through why his mom would call his aunt.
His aunt in the Air Force.
He looked to her, and saw her tears.
It hit him with the force of a metaphorical sledgehammer.
“.... Vampires.” He said into the phone, even as he went pale.
He went paler at the silence that was followed a minute later by her both not laughing, his parents not reacting to that except with them closing their eyes in emotional pain, and finally by her calm and collected response whose words did not contain ‘insane’ or any hint that she’d be sending him to a asylum. In fact, her words hit him with more force, as it meant she already knew about them.
“Xander... I... I need you to stay calm, alright?”
I own neither BtVS or Stargate.