Rating: Adult overall
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in this story
Summary: Xander has a crush. William has a secret
After a few minutes of quickly cleaning up and dressing, Xander
grabbed the wallet and headed for the door. Just as he reached
for the handle, however he stopped.
Turning to Willow he suddenly wasn't so sure about what they
were about to do.
"Maybe this is a mistake. After all, he left of his own free will.
If he wanted to still be here he would. Maybe I should just mail
the wallet and let it go. What do you think?"
His eyes broke her heart.
He suddenly looked so young, so vulnerable. Maybe he
and William were not so different after all.
Closing the gap between them Willow put her arms around
her brother and pulled him into a tight hug.
"I think this is one of those times when your hearts thinking is
sharper than your brains.
I don't know what happened last night or this morning but I
suspect that whatever caused William to leave had nothing
to do with you.
I think he would have stayed if he could.
Now, Sweety, we are just going to return his wallet.
We are not going there to demand any explanations or force
him to talk about anything he doesn't want to deal with.
But if we can help him.... well, I just think he may need a friend"
"How did you get so smart?" Xander hugged back
"Comes from years of taking care of a pain in the ass like you."
She gave his back one last pat, and reached around him to open
the door and shove him out into the hall.
Following the address on the license it didn't take long to locate the row
of rundown houses in the rougher part of the university area.
It was a part of the town that had once been the most elite in Sunnydale.
Before the railroads had gone out of business.
Before the out of town malls had ended business in the downtown.
Before World War II.
Now it was neglected.
The mansions that had at one time been the showcases of society
were now divided up into crackerbox sized apartments and rental rooms.
Crime was high And the interest of the slum lords was low.
It was close enough to the university area to always have an
unending supply of poor students who could not afford better.
He hated the thought of Will living here.
It wasn't hard to find the right house.
123 Paradise St. Apartment 3A
Pulling into a parking space at the curb, Xander let his eyes take it all in.
"Paradise St" Xander snorted
"Must be somebody's idea of a sick joke."
"Xander! Stuff all that negativity in your shoe, Buster.
We're here for Will, and that won't help"
"I know Sis, but damn. Just look at this place."
Ignoring him, Willow was already out of the car and walking up the
cracked cement sidewalk. Xander shut off the engine and jumped
out to catch up.
There was no elevator, and in fact if there were Xander wasn't so
sure he would have risked it.
Everywhere he looked the building was in total disrepair.
It was beyond him how the city building inspector allowed
violations like this to go unchecked.
Deep down he knew the truth, though. He had been in the
business to long to not know that an unmarked envelope of
cash in the right hands can cause just about anything to be overlooked.
Willow had run up the stairs ahead of him and was waiting at the top.
That little woman had an unending supply of energy.
'Damn, she's not even short of breath', Xander thought as he struggled
to catch his.
The hallway was dark The carpet was worn, torn and smelled distinctly of
old cat pee.
Apartment 3A. First door at the top of the stairs.
Xander raised his hand to knock, but stopped when he saw that the door
was not closed all the way.
It was just slightly ajar.
Not enough for someone just passing by to even notice.
Cautiously pushing it open, Xander stepped just inside the room with
Willow pressed tight to his back.
When they first entered, Xander was momentarily disoriented.
The room was small, dark and claustrophobic.
He struggled to adjust his eyes from the morning light to this
dim unfocused area.
For a minute he thought maybe they were at the wrong address,
or at least that William had not come back here, but before he
could turn to go, Willow put her hand on his arm.
Xander looked at her questioningly.
The nod of her head was barely discernable, but he followed the
direction of her gaze.
That's when he saw it.
A movement so slight he might have missed it had he not been
straining to find what had caught her attention.
Quietly and cautiously Xander eased further into the room.
There sitting on the floor in the corner against the far
wall was William.
Knees pulled up and head down, he appeared to
have made himself as small as possible.
"William?" Xander whispered edging closer
Willow stepped inside the room and closed the door behind her.
"Baby, what's wrong?" Receiving no answer or acknowledgment
of their presence Xander crept closer.
That's when he heard it.
The quiet sobbing.
Dropping down to crouch in front of the distraught figure
Xander reached out and lightly touched his shoulder.
"Will, sweetheart, what is it?"
With the physical contact, the crying stopped.
His fingers on William's chin, he gently lifted his face.
Xander was stunned by what he saw.
He barely recognized the man in front of him
Gone was the innocent, sweet face of his angel.
Replaced by the ravaged look of someone who was totally broken by life.
"Jesus Christ. William I want to know right now. What happened."
Xander knew he was probably using too firm a voice, but he was actually
showing an amazing amount of restraint to keep himself from shaking
the answers out of Will.
With tears still running down his cheeks and his nose red and puffy,
William looked imploringly into Xander face and with a hitch in his voice