…This Is a High Price to Pay…
“Where is Xander, girls?” Giles asked as he moved toward the counter and placed a stack of books on it.
“He’s getting clean,” Buffy said with finality as she and Willow sat down at their usual table.
“What?” Giles asked as he cleared his throat and looked at the girls, stunned.
“All this weird stuff that's been happening with him lately,” Buffy said as she flipped a hand dismissively. “So Willow and I confronted him about it.”
“What did you do?” The girls did not recognize Giles’ threat in his voice as he surreptitiously cleaned his glasses. Ripper was dangerously close to the surface.
“We flushed his drugs,” the Slayer said as she looked up at her Watcher unrepentantly.
“What drugs?” Giles questioned carefully.
“The pills he was hooked on,” Willow said as she looked at her father figure with a frown.
“Yeah,” Buffy nodded sternly, “They’re hailing the porcelain gods.”
Giles leaned heavily on the table and took a breath so that he would not explode, “You flushed... his medication... down the loo?”
“He doesn’t need them,” Willow said.
The Immortal sighed as he sat, shoulders slumped, “Xander has a neurological condition. Those pills that you flushed are the only thing that helps.”
“He never said anything to me,” Willow sounded stunned.
“He would not wish to let it be known that he has a weakness,” the older man said as he frowned, his forehead thumped against the table as he sighed heavily.
…I'm Here for You so Don't Forget…
He had been avoiding them all week. He knew why they did it, but he did not want to deal with the Saturday Morning Special routine yet. He sat in the pool room during lunch, his feet dangled in the water drawing small circles of current.
He thought of the Tank in Manticore and how he was able to hold his breath underwater for a really long time, nearly eight minutes if he prepared himself for it. He had broken the 5:97.354 record made by X5-741 when he was eleven years old. He remembered Sandoval, his handler, being very proud of that fact… had celebrated by giving him his first shot of scotch and a puff or two off of his cigarillo.
Buffy and Willow looked all over the school grounds for him without finding him. Finally, they had a thought that he might be in the pool room and looked for him there.
Scenting the girls and hearing the recognizable fall of their feet as they walked into the room, Xander frowned but remained seated.
“So the fish men are headed home,” Buffy quipped airily as she sat down next to him.
Willow sat on the other side of him.
“Yep,” Xander said as he sniffed and frowned, “All’s well that ends well.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Willow asked into the long silence that followed.
“I have a problem with my brain chemistry,” the young man said as he looked into the water, almost hypnotized by its blue glow and the crystalline brake as the light hit the surface. “The stuff I take, Tryptophan, helps my brain to regulate serotonin. If the levels get too low, I have a seizure.”
Buffy frowned at this, “Are you alright?”
Xander shrugged, smirked then looked over at her, “I’m always alright.”
“You know what,” Buffy said as she leaned against his arm, careful of his injury, “You should have told us about this. We’re your friends, we’d understand.”
“You can trust us,” Willow agreed with a sympathetic nod.
“This mysterious condition…” Buffy began.
Xander cut her off, “You guys wanna know?”
Both girls nodded encouragingly.
“What if I told you I was a genetically engineered super soldier?” He asked with a half smile on his face as he looked at both of them.
The girls laughed.
“Fine,” the blonde Slayer said as she rolled her eyes, “don’t tell us your deepest and dark. Whatever’s going on with you…” she looked at him out of the corner of her eye, “…you’re still one of my best friends.”
Willow leaned against him on the other side, offering comfort. “Mine too,” she said quietly.