Nick found Xander on the roof. He knew the young vampire would need some quiet, some time to think. The Enforcers had left Toronto to do whatever it was they normally did. The council representatives had returned to their home domains. Xander’s friends from California had returned home as well. His cousin most likely needed the quiet. He could also probably use a friend.
“Hey.” Nick said quietly as she sat down next to Xander.
“Hey.” Xander whispered. They sat in silence for a few more minutes before Xander turned to look at his cousin, his dark eyes intent. “I heard that you’ve had a couple of run-ins with Enforcers.”
Nick looked at Xander sideways. “Once or twice.”
Xander nodded. “They seem to be universally feared.”
“They live by their own rules.” Nick offered. “And it’s their job to ensure that the rest of us follow the rules set before us.”
“Rules made by the council.” Xander pointed out, hesitant to put faith in a council of any type.
“To protect us.” Nick countered.
Nick turned to Xander. “I used to think that we didn’t need the rules, that we could manage on our own, we could control ourselves.”
“It’s not just about vampires controlling themselves. Mortal’s are dangerous to us. They fear what they don’t understand and they destroy what they fear. Something needs to control what information is allowed out into the mortal world, as well as how it gets there. The world isn’t yet ready for us. Maybe some people are, but as a whole, human society cannot face that the things that they fear in the dark really do exist.”
“You believe the Enforcers are the answer?” Xander asked seriously. He didn’t necessarily disagree with anything Nick was saying but he wasn’t sure that the way the Enforcers operated was the way that it should be done either. “You don’t think there is a better way? That there could be?”
Nick sighed. “What exactly is bothering you? Is this about Bichon?”
Xander shook his head. “No.” He paused. “I’m just not sure how I fit into their ideology or what being an Enforcer means exactly.” He sighed. “There’s so much about being a vampire I still don’t understand. So many things Petreius didn’t have time to teach me.”
“You have time to learn.” Nick said.
Xander nodded. “I know.” He breathed deeply unnecessarily. “I need to return to California as well. I left things unfinished.”
“Your friends don’t understand what happened to you.” Nick observed. “The mortal girl, the one with the power, she seemed sad when she left.”
Xander looked out over the Toronto skyline. “We’ve known each other most of our lives, and spend the past several years hunting demons. The only vampires we’d ever met were like the Eferra, little more than animals. I don’t know how to explain to her what I’ve become and…” He trailed off.
“And?” Nick prompted knowing there was more.
“I’m not sure I should even try to explain. That life. My mortal life, is over. I’ll always love Willow, but she’s a part of that life, and I don’t think I could explain what I am now, and to be honest, I’m afraid of what she would do with that information.”
“Because of her magic?” Nick asked quietly. He had sensed a lot of power in the young woman but there wasn’t anything necessarily dark about her.
“She doesn’t always think ahead sometimes, but mostly I’m worried about what she would tell the others. Anything I tell her would make its way to Buffy and Giles, and this is not something that they need to know about.” He paused, trying to figure out how to say what he was thinking. “I understand why Slayer’s are needed, and for them to do their jobs things need to be more black and white than they are. If they were to find out how complicated things really were it would make it more difficult for them. It would make her hesitate. I can’t do that to her, and I can’t ask Willow to keep this kind of secret.”
Nick nodded and placed a hand on his cousins arm. “And what of the vampire’s? The Effera you protect?”
Xander tensed under Nick’s hand. “That is another matter entirely. I have…unfinished business with both of them. Our history is mostly bad.”
“Yet they came here, for you.”
“They did.” Xander acknowledged, but not wanting to get into what that history was until he had made some decisions. He turned to look at the older vampire. “What of your future?”
“What do you mean?” Nick asked in confusion.
“Petreius told me that you had some moral dilemma about the nature of what we are. He said you had turned away from your family, from Lucius and Jeanette. He mentioned that you were part of the reason Jeanette had left Toronto last year.”
Nick closed his eyes and remembered how he felt when he’d learned Jeanette had gone and the events leading up to that decision. “I thought I could become human again.” Nick admitted quietly. “My quest for humanity was hurting Jeanette, hurting our relationship, so she thought it best that she leave.”
“Is this because of that friend of yours? The coroner? She convinced you that you could become human again? That there’s something wrong with you?” Xander hissed, angry suddenly for no reason he could explain.
“We’re demons.” Nick snapped.
“Yes, Nickolas.” Xander glared at the older man, his eyes glowing gold to make a point. “We are demons, however that doesn’t make us less than mortals. It doesn’t make us better, as those like Bichon seem to think, but neither does it make us less than the humans we used to be.” He shook his head and returned to his human visage. “We are what we are. Trying to pretend you are something different will only bring you and everyone around you misery and pain.”
“Is that what you told Angelus?” Nick asked with a wry smile.
“It’s what I will tell him, if he still needs to hear it.” Xander smiled despite the seriousness of the conversation. He stood up and took one last look at the skyline. “I will be leaving in a few days, the longer I put it off the less I’ll want to go.”
“We’re going to miss you.” Nick said, standing up as well.
Xander smiled. “I’ll be back. Once I’ve dealt with my former life, I’ll be time for me to make some decisions about my new one. I think I’ll need some help with that.” He grinned slightly. “I’m sure Lucius will be overjoyed to see me return.”
Xander headed towards the doors which lead inside the building, Nick’s laughter trailing behind him.