Well, it has been quite a while since I posted a new part for any of my fics. This part has been done for a short while, but has not been checked for grammar...if there are numerous errors that are simply too much to bear, please let me know and I will update this chapter when I post the next one.
But, until then...I hope you enjoy...
Morning After Halloween
Consciousness came slowly as Xander let out a small whimper. There was a dull ache, more of a throb, pulsating along his entire body. That, however, went mainly unnoticed due to the fact that he couldn’t find the energy to barely lift his head.
This was beyond being tired, it felt as though he had been running in the high summers heat at a full sprint for hours on end, and just when he thought he could have collapsed from the sheer exhaustion of it all, he was forced to crawl further through the blazing sun.
He allowed his body to sink further into the mattress he was currently laying atop of. Trying to get his mind off how completely drained he felt, he began to try and assess what in the hell was going on.
The last he knew, he was out walking the streets of Sunnydale escorting young children on their quest to hoard as much candy as possible. The sudden flash of fear as he realized that he was nowhere near those children caused him to open his eyes in a quick and sharp movement.
As he took in the scene around him, his heart began to slack in its pace of about twenty thousand beats per minute, to a far more sedate pace. His eyes scanned the room, his room, with minimal movement from his head. It had only been a short while, but already the room Giles had given him felt far more warm and ‘homely’ than he would have imagined, especially since he had never considered Giles to be the type of man who would be able to make a teenager feel at home. Perhaps it was the tweed that gave off that misconception, but in any case, he had been wrong. He wasn’t sure if Giles actually knew teenagers that well, but the man certainly knew him far better than he would have thought, and in just a few days, had shown himself to be more of a father figure than Anthony Harris had ever been, not that doing so would have been that difficult. Getting back on topic, if he was in his room, then that meant that Giles and his friends must have had a handle on the situation, whatever that had been.
Xander’s body gave an involuntary shutter as he remembered just how much pain had been involved before he had mercifully blacked out. He had no clue what had been the cause of such a thing, perhaps it was responsible for leaving him completely drained. However, since he was in his room, and not in a hospital bed, he had to assume that things weren’t as bad as they could have been.
As he continued to lie in his bed, shifting slightly so he could see his body, which held not a bruise, he had to wonder why he was only in his white undershirt and boxer shorts he had worn the previous day. He only hoped it was Giles that had done this. If it had been one of the girls, well, he’d be kicking himself for years to come to miss such an opportunity. If not for the memory in and of itself, he’s sure he could have gotten off more than a few wisecracks.
He was more than a little relieved to notice that he hadn’t been horribly scarred by whatever it was that had attacked his body the previous night. He laid his head back upon his pillow, eyes scanning his ceiling, as he tried to remember what happened last night.
For all he could think, there were only whispers of memory, as cloudy as smoke and dissipated in the wind as he tried to access them, it was all for not. He could vaguely remember running around Sunnydale last night. But every time he tried to capture a memory, the feeling of a starting migraine would begin to form. Whether they were part of the memory or a cause of trying to remember, he wasn’t sure. They felt faint, almost an echo of a true headache, and they too dissipated as he pulled his mind away from the fading memory.
After a few more minutes without any progress, he decided to give up. He wasn’t sure how long he had been lying there, but he was fairly sure that he should try and join the others, if for no other reason, than because he knew, without a doubt, that Giles would still be up and worrying about him.
With more of an effort and willpower than he new he possessed, he managed to get himself into a sitting position. His white shirt apparently soaked through as it clung to his clammy skin.
With his motions strained, he was able to pull the shirt off of him, and let it fall onto the bed next to him. He was forced to just sit there, panting, trying to get his breath back from such an easy activity, as a small amount of fear began to surge through his body. He prayed silently to himself, let this just be temporary.
He looked across the distance to his closet; it was just a few paces past his desk that lay next to the window at the foot of his bed. The horizontal strips, that comprised the shades for his window, seemed to let in a grid of sunlight separated by the horizontal slats. It was actually sort of cool how they seemed to go across his desk, floor and over to the wall. It was almost as if his room was being divided for him, a new goal to reach. He just had to get over to the other side.
With painstaking slowness he got onto his feet. He slowly ambled towards his chair, where the varsity jacket was once again resting atop of, and made his way to his closet. As he approached his desk, he body went rigid as his hand grasped the back of his desk chair.
He stood there for a moment, almost in a euphoric high. His eyes were closed and a warm feeling covered his chest as he could literally feel energy flowing back into his body. Opening his eyes once again he glanced down and saw the horizontal bars of sunlight covering his skin.
He could feel the warmth and energy surging through him, and before he realized it, he was outside his room moving with a purpose. His footsteps echoed throughout the house as he made his way down the stairs and towards the front door. He could faintly hear another echo of his name being called, but none of that mattered as he opened the door and was hit full force by the direct sunlight covering his entire body.
It was almost instantaneous at that point. When it first happened, it took him a second to realize just why he had been feeling so good when moments before he was straining just to take a step. He still wasn’t sure how he knew it had been the sun, but his body sure knew it. Reveling in those first few strips of sunlight that he had been exposed to, he hadn’t even noticed that he had made his way out of his room. It wasn’t until after he had opened the front door, and stepped out into the sunlight, that he even became aware that he had moved.
However, once the sunlight hit his body, he was lost in the bliss of the situation. A warm smile cast about his face as he reveled in the heat and energy surging through his body. He could actually feel it happening. He had been so exhausted before, but now he felt as though he were on a sugar high, though this was natural and not sugar induced. It may have taken only a few seconds, but it was a lifetime of contentment for him. Then, as the feeling began to level off, he took in his first labor free breath, and came back to the world.
He glanced back with a smile on his face to see Giles frowning at him while studiously cleaning his glasses.
“Xander, are you quite all right? You gave us all quite a scare last night when you would not wake up.” Xander just lifted an eyebrow at that as Giles continued, “And now I come to find you racing outside in your skivvies?”
Xander blushed as he nodded. “I’m not quite sure what happened, but I can tell you I feel great right now.” Xander smiled as he saw the man relax slightly and let out a sigh of relief.
Giles gave a reassured smile. “I can not tell you how glad I am to hear that. We were all truly quite worried. But, I still must ask. What possessed you to go outside in nothing but your boxers?” Giles had to hide his grin as the young man just blushed a little more. His mouth moved, but no sound came out, finally, he couldn’t help but to release a chuckle, he was just so glad to know that Xander would be all right. “Well, Xander, if you don’t mind, I would suggest coming back inside and putting on some clothes before you wind up with an admirer in our Neighbor’s young daughter.”
Xander’s eyes shot opened as his head turned around. And sure enough, there was the young girl; her own eyes wide open as she looked at him from inside her window of her own house.
With a shriek Xander bolted past Giles as his entire body began to blush. With a snicker and a laugh, Giles waved to the young girl with a smile on his face as he closed his front door.
As the door closed he leaned back against it, allowing his head to lightly graze the surface. For the entire night he had not gotten, or even tried to get, one moment of sleep. He had been so worried about the young man; he wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to be doing. It is one thing to be worried about your slayer and her friends when they are out patrolling for the undead, it is another thing entirely when the young man is here with you, and you haven’t a clue as how to help.
For the millionth time since he had brought his young charge home and placed him in his bed, he cursed his old friend, Ethan, and hoped that the man got whatever was coming to him.
Breathing another sigh of relief, he made his way over to the telephone. He had a few calls to make. He knew Joyce would be awake, if the woman had even bothered to go to bed either. She had called a few times during the night asking for progress reports on his condition, still not sure why they weren’t taking him to a hospital, but not disputing it for now. He knew it would only be a matter of time before they were forced to bring Joyce into the secret life of her daughter, and that was something he truly dreaded.
“Xander, may I come in?”
Xander glanced to his closed door from his open window, the sun still beating down on his bare chest.
“Yeah, Giles, just give me a minute.”
Moving over to his dresser, he put on a ‘work out’ shirt before throwing the sweat soaked shirt into the hamper in the corner of his room. Walking over to his closet, where a towel was hanging on a hook glued to the door, he wrapped it around his waist.
“Ok, Giles, I’m decent.”
Ever so carefully, the door opened. “I wonder, may have a moment of your time?”
Xander blinked as he noted that Giles was actually standing there, in a nervous fashion, his glasses were already off and the man was profusely wiping them. Xander wasn’t quite sure just what to say, so he simply nodded his assent.
Walking gingerly over to the bed, Giles sat down on the corner, taking that as his cue; Xander pulled his desk chair out and placed it just a few feet away from the older man.
“I, I am glad that you are feeling better. You are, truly feeling better, aren’t you?” At Giles’s inquisitive look, Xander simply nodded. “I expected as much.” The man seemed to stammer, but simply made himself go on. “I am not sure if you are aware of this, but the wound you received by those vampires, just a short time ago, are no longer scarring your body.”
Xander’s eyes widened in surprise; in all of the excitement, that was simply a fact he hadn’t noticed. Getting up from the seat, he walked over and closed his bedroom door, revealing a full length mirror on the other side.
Untucking his shirt from the towel he had wrapped around his waist, he pulled it up to reveal, as Giles had said, unblemished skin. “Wow,” he breathed. He ran his hand gingerly over where the scar had been. There was no longer any pain. He could vaguely recall not feeling any strain on his body, once he had been subjected to sunlight, but the fact that the usual pain and stress his body had simply gotten used to due to his injury, was no longer present. It was quite a bit to take in. Pulling his shirt back down, he made his way back to his chair.
“I don’t know what to say.”
Giles nodded at this. “I am not sure that there is much for you to say.” Still, Giles looked a bit uncertain. “You truly do not feel *any* ill effects from last night?”
“No G-Man, I promise you, I feel fine.” He seemed to think for a moment. “Actually, I really can’t tell you the last time I felt this good.
Giles gave an audible sigh of relief, completely forgoing the usual insistence of not being called ’G-Man.’
“I am glad to hear that, you have no idea how worried you had us, how worried you had me.”
Xander looked down as if he were to blame for putting them through that, then his head came up with an inquisitive expression from the end of Giles’ statement. Giles, however, was looking down at his own hands, trying to gather his thoughts and missed the play of emotions that passed through Xander’s face.
“I know that we have never truly talked.” Giles began to stammer. “How-however, last night, I spent most of my time in here, sitting in the chair you now occupy.” Giles looked at him and shrugged. “I suppose with there being not much I could do, all that I could do, was sit back and think about things.”
Xander had no idea what to say, he had no idea where this was going.
“I am amazed how much my perception of you has changed in the time we have known each other. I am afraid to say, that from when we first met, I had terribly misjudged you.” His glasses were back on his head, and he was wringing his hands together. “When you first joined Buffy, which was not something that I had looked favorably over at the time, I had thought that this would simply be a quick experience for you. It may have been something to take out your aggression and anger, over having lost one of your closest friends. I thought it would be simply a quick phase that you and Willow would get over.”
Xander gave a somewhat affronted look, to which Giles simply gave a small grin and an apologetic shrug.
“I had heard stories, and even witnessed on a few occasions, when you would throw yourself into a situation, where you would not come out of it, at least somewhat unscathed.” Off came the glasses once again. “I have to admit, when I first saw that, it was not the fact that you had most likely saved my, our, slayer, but I had worried that there may be some…suicidal tendencies to your actions.”
At Xander’s alarmed look, he simply waved him off.
“It was soon after that I dissuaded myself from such notions.” Xander nodded with a relieved sigh. “Time and Time again, both you and Willow, and indeed Buffy, have shown such tremendous courage when facing demons, and impossible situations that were so far out of your depth, that any sane person would have turned away. But again and again you all moved forward, and indeed become victorious.”
“I had been told, from an early time when training to be a Watcher, that you must keep a degree of separation from your charge, but I find that I simply cannot comply with such a request.”
Placing his glasses back on, he gave a steady gaze at the young man in front of him.
“I am in awe of you constantly. Each day something new is thrown your way, and yet you, all of you, are able to pull together and overcome it. As much as I feel in awe of you, I still worry twice as much.” He sighed and looked down. “I worry about you, Willow, and Buffy, when you patrol each night. I worry about you as you throw yourself headfirst into the next demon you encounter.” Giles looked up, and his eyes seemed to bore into Xander’s soul. “I was worried about you when I noticed your absence the night you went after Buffy and into the Master’s Lair. But even then, I had to contend with that worry against the fact that The Hellmouth was opening.”
He shook his head.
“When that blasted portal began to open, all of my worse fears became real to me. For that to have happened, I knew that Buffy must have been killed, and with you going down there, I did not truly believe in any chance of you coming out of there alive. I can not thank you enough for showing the courage you displayed by your actions that night, nor can I express the regard I hold you in for going through with it, never mind the results.”
He looked back down.
“But still, I worry. Even still, no matter how much you have overcome, no matter how many demons you face, I will still worry.” He glanced back up and was forced to take off his glasses once again. “I can not even begin to relate to you just how much I was worried last night. To be here and to not be sure that you would survive the next minute. There were many times when I believed that you had drawn your last breath, your body was so still, but then you would breathe another.”
“I had all night and this morning to think about the past, and about how I feel. I had time to think about all of the things I should have said to you, to all of you. I wanted you to know, before I loose my courage, that having gotten the chance to know you, in the short time that I have, you are most likely the closest thing I will ever have to a son.”
He held up his hand, not even waiting to see if Xander was going to respond.
“I have never gotten along well with my Father. He did not agree with many of my choices of my youth, from which, he was entirely correct, though, in the end that mattered very little. I have yet to talk to him in many years, yet still, I do believe that family is important.”
Placing his glasses back on, he made to stand up.
“I, I have had quite a few hours to ponder this, and I simply wished that you should know; and that you have made me prouder than I could have ever made my own father.”
He had only taken a step towards the door when an almost silent cough brought his attention to the other occupant in the room. Xander was no longer sitting in his chair; he was standing in front of it, with a lost expression on his face.
Giles simply stood there, not sure if he truly should have shared that with the young man, but in the end, glad that he had. He could only hope that in time, he had earned the same regard in the young man that had already been instilled in him.
“I know what you mean.” The voice was quiet a bit horse. “At least, I think I do.” Xander’s face cleared as he stared at the older man. “The one thing I could never call The Harris’s and that would be family.” He seemed to shrink in on himself. “I never considered blood family to be ‘family.’ The closest I had, have, is my Uncle Rory.”
Bringing his arms together against his chest, Xander seemed to hug himself.
“I would have to say that I never saw my family as having a mother or father. The closest thing I had to a family members were Willow and Jesse.” A small smile spread across his face as he looked up at Giles. “Did you know that Jesse and I would always call each other ‘Bro.’?” Giles simply shook his head, causing Xander to shrug. “To most people, it would be just another way to address a friend, but to me, to us, I’m sure it meant something different, something more.”
Now it was Giles who was simply not sure what to say, so, he simply stood there.
“So, I do know that family can, and is more than blood.” Xander’s eyes seemed to darken. “When I think about a father, my father, I think of eyes that are simply uncaring. I think of never being noticed, or not wanting to be noticed.” Now he was smiling slightly. “So, I was a bit surprised when I could see the clear relief visible in your eyes when we returned from Patrol on more than one occasion. I think I’ve become better than average at reading just what people are thinking of me at a given time.” He shrugged. “I’ve never been around an adult like you, someone who actually seems to care.”
Xander looked some what guilty as he shrugged an apology.
“Though, I really don’t know about a father-son bond.” Xander winced. “And that isn’t you, but I can’t honestly say what that sort of relationship would be like, other than what I see on television.” Xander now found himself staring at the floor. “I do know that of all the adult males I’ve ever known, you’re definitely the closest to a ‘father figure’ that I’ve come to know and respect. I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for, but…” he trailed off.
It wasn’t until a pair of hands firmly placed themselves on his shoulders that he looked up. He couldn’t help but to give a small hopeful smile at the wide grin plastered on Giles face.
“That, my boy, is an excellent place to start.”
It was soon after that warm, yet semi-awkward moment that their day truly began. Giles left the room informing Xander that his friends had been contacted and told about the improvement of his condition. After a brief moment, Xander decided that he’d call his friends once he had finished taking a quick shower.
The phone calls went surprisingly well. Willow hadn’t been nearly as stressed as he thought she’d be. So, instead of every other sentence being a reassurance as to his current welfare, he was only forced to chuckle an, ‘I’m fine’ to every third break in the conversation.
Buffy, like Willow, had sounded worried about him, which was nice. However, it took a lot less to convince her that he was in fact doing fine. Though, a part of him knew how hard she had taken it when he had been injured just a few weeks ago, as she did whenever anyone got hurt and was unable to prevent it, he knew that she would be taking it extra hard that ‘he’ got injured in some way.
He was simply not looking forward to the mothering that was sure to come his way, especially when it came from Buffy. She had a way, as unintentional as it seemed to be, of making him feel less that useless while she was trying to talk him into laying back and ‘keeping safe.’
Hanging up after talking to her, he had to laugh. She was determined, as today was a Saturday, to go out and shop. She decided that she *really* needed some new clothes to counteract the way she felt from her *noble princess* that she had become the previous night.
He had been able to beg out of going along, knowing that she wouldn’t go along, as she’d easily be able to persuade Willow to go with her, Xander now had the morning, and ‘oh god’ he was not a morning person, and the afternoon to himself. Well, himself and Giles.
Making his way into the kitchen, Xander found Giles already sitting at the table reading the morning’s newspaper while eating an English muffin with some Jam. A steaming cup of tea was set just off to the side.
“Hey, G-Man, what’s the what for the day?”
Giles gave a hesitant smile, trying not to grimace as he realized that he hadn’t a problem piecing together what they young man had just said.
“Well, assuming you are still feeling well, you are still feeling well?” Xander rolled his eyes as he reached into the refrigerator to grab a carton of orange juice, but smiled and nodded to the worrying man as he made his way to grab a glass and join him at the table.
“Yeah, I’m feeling fine. I promise.”
“Ah, well, good.” He put the paper down. “Sadly, because of the chaos that was Halloween, I was unable to finish the work I wanted to do last night, when Willow found me and told me what was transpiring.” He took a sip of tea. “If you are indeed all right, I would like to go back and finish last night’s work.”
Xander shrugged. “That’s fine with me. If anything does go wrong, the school isn’t that far away.”
“I do suppose you are correct.” Giles tilted his head, sending Xander an inquisitive look. “What are your plans for the day?”
“Thankfully I got out of having to go shopping with the girls.” Even Giles let out an involuntary shiver. “Though, we are planning on meeting for lunch.” He chuckled and gave a pointed look to the older man. “We even planned to meet at the school library.”
Giles gave a slight blush. “Yes, well…”
Xander shrugged again. “I’m not too sure. I haven’t been up to watch Saturday morning cartoons in a while.” He smiled. “Who knows, perhaps I’ll even do a laundry today.”
They both chuckled as it had been an utter shock when Giles learned that Xander actually knew how to do his own laundry. Though, a darker portion of Giles’ mind supplied, knowing Xander’s parents I have recently come to, it is not that much of a reach to believe they had him doing such chores at an early age.
However, for whatever reason, Xander never minded doing laundry, stating that it actually seemed to calm him as a child. Though, that could have been partly due to the noise the vibrating machines would make drowning out the other noises that were always raging in the Harris household.
Though, in the end, it was a chore that Xander didn’t mind doing. Though Giles had been adamant about taking care of his own clothes, which Xander had made a comment about how those Tweed Suites better not be contagious and infect his clothes. To which Giles replied with a comment about keeping those Hawaiian shirts away from his clothes, lest they come alive and devour all of the proper clothes. Xander had just shrugged; perhaps they would be related to the Sock Demon who lived in their dryer.
Giles had left a short while later, leaving a fair bit of money for Xander to see when he got done putting his load of laundry into the washing machine and came into the den to watch TV.
He found it almost impossible to get Xander to accept money from him, but he figured that would simply change over time. It wasn’t as though he would ever have a money problem in the foreseeable future. Being a Giles’ meant more than just inheriting good looks, as his grandfather, god rest his soul, would always say.
So, leaving a note telling him to spend some money and enjoy his day, he yelled down to the young man he had recently confessed to thinking of as a son, and receiving a reply, left to go towards the mouth of hell, and his previous day’s load of work.
Xander came into the den, flicked on the television, and saw the money, and note, resting on the table. Picking up the note, he wasn’t sure if he should smile, roll his eyes, or leave a thank you for Giles’ generosity. It simply felt weird. He wasn’t used to other peoples’ generosity towards him, especially when that generosity came for no apparent reason. Lord knows his father would never have shown him this, or any, amount of generosity.
With a sigh and a quickly scribbled ‘Thank You’ he plopped himself down on the couch ready to watch some cartoons and feel like a kid again.
It was only a few minutes later that he realized he was simply to full of energy to sit around and watch television, which he hoped wasn’t a lasting side affect of the previous night, he loved watching television, it was something he was quite good at.
After toying with the idea of calling Giles and informing him of this ‘hyper status,’ Xander decided to simply write a note, in case Giles returned home early, and go outside to run off some of this excess energy. Should this condition prove to more than a temporary one; he’d simply go to the library after his run, and inform the man of this latest development.
With that in mind, he left and locked the house, heading down the street at a brisk jog.