Buck had had enough.
Enough of the secrets; enough of the tension; enough of the rift in their little family.
He liked Ezra’s kid, he really did, but he wasn’t about to let him tear apart the best thing Buck had had in years.
His military past warned him that picking your ground was important, but ever since JD’s little bender Xander had been avoiding him, he was sure of it. So it was time to take it to him. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on Xander’s door.
“Greeti… Oh, hi, Buck.” Xander’s initially exuberant welcome faded as he saw who it was. Although, if he was being honest with himself, he thought Buck would have been over demanding answers sooner. He stepped back and headed toward the kitchen. “Would you like a coffee?”
Buck hesitated in the doorway, before deciding the offer of a drink was as close to ‘come in’ as he was going to get from the boy. “No, thanks. I wanted to talk.”
“Sure. Grab a seat, I’m just going to get something myself.” Xander used the time in the kitchen to settle his nerves. As with JD, he wasn’t going to blurt everything out without something concrete from the other man.
Xander had barely taken his seat before Buck started. “What have you done to JD?”
“Er, nothing?” Not the first question he’d been expecting from the other man, Xander mused.
“Don’t give me that. He comes to talk to you, then for the next few days I could barely get a word out of him. Now he’s drinking and keeping secrets. What did you say to him?” Buck demanded.
“I know you all think of JD as the younger brother who needs to be protected, but he’s an adult.” Xander frowned, not liking the feeling that Buck was going around behind the young agent’s back.
“Don’t tell me how to deal with JD,” Buck bristled.
“Because you’re clearly doing so well -- coming around here, demanding answers about your friend behind his back,” Xander pointed out. “Have you even asked him what’s going on?”
Buck fell silent, looking slightly sheepish. Xander rolled his eye.
“Is this still about the Chris thing? Do you realise, Buck, he hasn’t even apologised to Abby? This continuing tension, it’s not me. I asked him to stay out of our home, not out of our lives.
“You’re my Dad’s friends, his family. I’d never try and mess with that. I don’t think *I* could. But here’s the clincher: I’m not going to spill my guts, my past, with Chris just because he’s got a bug up his ass!
“One more thing,” Xander continued before Buck could say anything. “Have you stopped to consider I might have a damn good reason for not telling you? I’m not keeping secrets for the hell of it. JD, he’s smart. He worked some things out and asked me outright, and I gave him an honest answer. I swear on my life, Buck, sometimes ignorance is bliss.” Xander stood.
“I suggest you go and talk to your friend -- who is obviously sorting through something at the moment. Don’t pry, just support him. I can guarantee, sometimes that’s the one thing a person needs more than anything else in the world: friendship with no strings.”
Buck stood as well. He’d come here with preconceived notions, convinced that somehow Xander was the bad guy, but he found himself turned around and uncertain of his position with a few simple words. Yeah, he was still pissed about what was going on with his friends and family but was it really just Xander’s fault? Once again the one-eyed man had proved to be older than his years. He needed to think, needed to work out the right path from here, needed to find a better way to fix... everything.
“This isn’t over, Xander.” While Buck was prepared to let it go for now, if it came down to it, he’d get his answers, by any means necessary.
As the door closed behind the moustached agent, Xander sagged against the wall, only looking up when he heard Spike enter the living area.
“Why don’t you just tell him? It’d make your life a lot easier.” Spike had seen how much the situation was bothering the one-eyed man. Xander was looking tired and drawn. Spike had also noted the concerned glances the slayer had been giving Xander, too. At the rate Xander was going, Spike figured he was going to have to pull out the guilt card to try and snap him out of it. That, or threaten to call Cleveland, although he wasn’t particularly keen to open that can of worms.
“Because I’m a coward?” Xander grimaced at Spike’s snort. “I know I’m going to have to come clean eventually, but in my own, messed-up way I just want to cling to normal for a little longer. A family fight that’s about secrets and because they care; not reeling from demons and monsters and fear.” Xander threw himself onto the couch. “God, I’m screwed up.”
Spike shook his head. “Not arguing with you there.”
Buck listened as JD worked to unlock the apartment door. While he hadn’t gotten any real answers from the younger man, he couldn’t deny that Xander’s advice had been good. JD seemed to appreciate Buck being there without pestering him for details. It was incredibly frustrating, but Buck had seen the pleasure in JD’s eyes at being treated as an equal.
Buck glanced over the back of the couch as the door opened. “Hey, JD.” The greeting froze on his lips as he caught a glance at his roommate’s face.
JD’s left cheek was red and puffy and it looked like he was getting the beginnings of a black eye. Buck stifled the urge to leap up in concern. JD was moving freely and didn’t seem upset but he had clearly been hit in the face, and hit hard.
“Hi, Buck. What ya watching?” JD flopped to the couch beside him but slowly turned to face the other man at the lack of reply.
“You okay?” Buck fought the urge to demand explanations but it was damn hard.
“I’m fine.” JD flushed slightly at the eye roll. “Fine
‘fine’, not Vin and Ezra ‘fine’. I swear, Buck.”
“Who did that? Tell me you at least gave as good as you got.” Buck frowned as JD tensed a little.
“It was a lucky shot and, no, I didn’t lay Xander out in return.” JD had been helping Abby regain some of her confidence. She’d been sparring with Spike but, due to his superior strength and speed, she wasn’t afraid to fully engage with him. Xander had managed to get her to do a little sparring with himself, but Abby was struggling. They’d enlisted JD’s help for her to face someone without any experience of supernatural beings and with average strength.
During this evening’s workout Spike had goaded JD and Xander into a match, claiming it would be good for Abby to see others fight. Spike had been yelling critiques from the sidelines, and JD had been distracted at one particularly coarse outcry. Xander simply hadn’t been able to pull his blow in time.
“What the hell? Xander did that!” Buck was furious.
“Buck! We were sparring. Xander wanted Abby to see my fighting style so we were doing a demonstration type thing. I got distracted; the only person at fault was me.” JD didn’t like the look on Buck’s face but there was little more he could say. “I’m going to get an ice pack and go lie down for a while. I’m okay, Buck, honestly.”
Buck watched JD until he’d disappeared into his room. This was the last straw, he was going to get answers, and no amount of sweet-talking would change that. Grabbing his keys he headed out into the early evening light.
Xander had just got out of Betsy when he found himself slammed up against the side of the car. His automatic reaction, which was to bring his arms up to punch down into the grip of the person holding him, was halted as he took in his assailant’s face.
“I’ve had enough of your secrets and lies. JD can barely see out of one eye! I won’t let you hurt him, Abby or any of my family anymore.” Buck spat. Xander was shocked at the fury in the other man’s eyes. He’d felt bad when he’d clipped JD earlier, but the Bostonian had insisted it wasn’t too bad. Before he got the chance to try and talk the older man down, Buck was ripped away from him.
Buck had felt Xander’s attempt to free himself begin and had been so focused on the one-eyed man he’d failed to notice anyone else approaching. He felt the immense strength in the grip of whoever had hauled him away from Xander, and on top of that he was reeling from the speed in which they’d pinned him, pushing him up the side of Xander’s vehicle high enough his feet felt like they were barely touching the floor.
The lack of leverage meant that it would be hard to free himself on strength alone so he turned his attention to his attacker to look for a weakness. He froze as he realised it was Abby.
…who currently was holding his entire weight pinned against the car without even breaking a sweat. What the hell was going on!
Xander rubbed his arms where Buck had grabbed him; his back was also sore where the handle of the car had dug in, but before he could deal with that he had to calm down a very pissed off Slayer.
“Abby, Abs? You can let him go. Buck was just upset over the fact I hurt JD.” Xander spoke soothingly to her, not liking the predatory look in her eyes. At least she hadn’t hesitated or backed down at intercepting a human; maybe there was a bright side to this little debacle. Or maybe not. Xander suppressed a groan as Spike headed their way.
“It’s rude, you know, not to invite me if you’re going to have a bit of a barney,” Spike drawled, causing Abby to glance his way. Spike grinned at the Slayer, “Nice move, pet, but you need to watch out for your opponent being able to get leverage, so if you shift your right leg a few inches to the left, he’ll be less inclined to do anything with his legs as his ‘cockles’ will be at risk.”
Abby suddenly seemed to realise who she’d attacked and released the still shocked Buck but kept herself between him and Xander.
Buck looked between the three of them trying to work out what the hell had just happened.
“You alright, Buck?” Xander asked the still silent agent. Buck nodded mutely, his eyes not moving from Abby.
“Okay, let’s take this off the street, shall we?” Xander placed a calming hand on Abby’s shoulder. “Come on, I think everyone needs a nice cup of tea. According to Giles, that fixes just about anything.”
“Rather have a whisky,” Spike smirked. “Medicinal and all that.”
“You’re hardly a wounded party in this, Spike.” Xander hoped that their banter might break Buck out of his stupor.
“I might be in a short while.” Spike added, flashing a toothy grin. Xander sighed, having a vamp for show and tell certainly made things easier, in the short term at least. There was no way his run of good luck in these revelations could continue.
“Abby, you’ve got my back.” Xander turned without waiting for an answer, trusting that his actions would break the little staring match the agitated slayer was still having with Buck.
Abby gave Buck one last glare, then backed up several paces before turning to follow Xander back to their apartment.
“You coming, mate?” Spike waited for the big man to make his move. “Only way you’re likely to get answers, though I doubt you’ll like them. In fact, why don’t you toddle off home and leave it be?”
Buck shot the smug blond a look before heading off after the pair.
Spike grunted. Humans, too easy
Buck was on the couch watching Xander and Abby. Abby had perched on the edge of Xander’s armchair, still in a protective mode. Spike leaned against the table behind the couch. Xander exchanged a look with Spike, guessing the vampire had positioned himself to make a point later.
“So, Buck, you have a decision to make. I can explain – my past, Abby’s strength, why the others are acting weird – but you have to understand that knowing doesn’t make things easier. I’m going to ask the same promises from you that I got from the others, including you not discussing it with anyone who doesn’t already know. If you can’t keep to that I suggest you leave now.” Xander held Buck’s gaze.
Buck hesitated. The secrets were half of the damn problem, and here was Xander telling him he expected Buck to keep more of them.
“I’ll think about it, but only if it doesn’t endanger others,” Buck offered.
“No deal,” Xander stated firmly. “You can discuss it with Dad, Vin, Josiah or JD, but no one else outside this room, Buck. It’s dangerous for you, them and Abby.”
“You can’t expect…” Buck grimaced as Xander interrupted him.
“I can and I do. It’s your choice, Buck. In fact, I’d rather not tell you, but I’m offering you the same courtesy as I gave the others. I don’t intend telling Chris or Nathan anything unless they ask me directly, and just like you I’ll still discourage them until I have no choice.”
“That’s not fair,” Buck started.
“I don’t care,” Xander growled. Spike cleared his throat, causing Xander to sit back in his chair. “Buck, the gist of it is because of Abby’s strength she got into trouble at home. She needed somewhere to stay, and I offered to help. If you can’t give me your word, I’m not going to tell you any more details than that.”
Buck remained silent looking between the pair. He felt oddly threatened by Xander’s friend being at his back but resisted the urge to turn. As hard as it was going to be, he’d had enough of being in the dark about Xander and his friends.
“Fine, I won’t talk to anyone other than Ez, JD and Vin. Alright?” Buck gave in grudgingly.
Xander hesitated, looking at his companions before continuing. Abby gave him a nod and Spike just shrugged.
“You wanna take a guess?” Xander joked, half heartedly, but continued quickly at Buck’s scowl. “It’s just it’ll be harder for you to believe what I’m about to tell you if I just blurt it out.”
“Xander.” The threat in Buck’s voice was clear.
“Abby’s strength is not natural.” Buck’s eyebrows rose slightly. “She has it in order to help her fight -- to fight things that are stronger than you or me.”
“‘Things,’” Buck drawled.
“Yeah, monsters.” Xander held up his hand to forestall Buck’s response. “Abby is a vampire slayer. A girl, chosen to fight the darkness and evil creatures like vampires and demons. She’s a champion: a protector of humans, as well as neutral and ‘good’ demonic species.”
“I told you this was going to be hard to believe. I’m not lying to you, Buck, but if you don’t want to carry on you can just leave.” Xander sighed.
“You’re trying to tell me she fights… that monsters are real?” Buck couldn’t believe the crap Xander was spouting.
“Yes. You want Abby to lift you up again?” Xander nudged the slayer, who looked at him. Xander looked pointedly at Spike before indicating she should sit next to Buck on the couch. Unlike the others, he had a feeling Buck wasn’t going to react well to the next bit.
Buck gave the girl a smile as she moved to sit next to him. “Now, now, I don’t think that’s necessary, darlin’.”
“So, you accept that Abby’s stronger than your average human. Well, Spike’s also one of the good guys; he just happens to be a different species. You wanna see?” Xander asked, even knowing that the other man wouldn’t be able to resist now.
“Sure thing, guys, what’s he going to do, turn into a wolf or something?” Buck mocked.
“Wrong species, mate.” As the agent turned to look at him Spike vamped out.
“Jesus!” Buck tried to leap from the couch, scrambling at his hip for where his weapon would normally be, but was casually held in place by Abby.
“Thanks, Spike. We’ll take it from here.” Xander figured that Buck would eventually want more evidence but wanted Spike gone for safety.
“So, Buck, you want that drink now?” Xander offered.
“This can’t be real.” Buck had moved from the couch and positioned himself where he could see the door that Spike had left through.
“It can and it is. Now do you understand why I’ve tried to keep you guys out of it?” Xander rubbed his eye tiredly. They’d been going in circles for the last half hour.
“Vampires,” Buck muttered, yet again.
“You want me to get one of the others to come over?” Xander asked, he was running out of ideas of how else to get through to Buck.
Buck hesitated. He wanted to hear it again from someone he trusted, someone he knew was sane, but judging by Xander’s exasperation he guessed they’d taken it better. Buck forced himself to relax. It was so far out there it couldn’t be a joke. He’d seen the blond change with his own eyes, and Abby…
“Abby is a slayer. Spike is a vampire. Demons are real.” Buck waited until Xander nodded before giving the one-eyed man a weak grin.
“Does he sparkle?”