Warnings/Squicks: M/M relations (way later) and human boys (for now)
Rating: NC-17 (or MA 15+ or R?) There is violence and sex and vampires, and boys.
Summary: Saving both of them had a bizarre set of implications – not least of which was the chance to start again.
Disclaimer: Characters are the concept of the wonderful Joss and Co. Don’t make money from the writing etc etc.
By the last few months of their school years, the boys were both on the cusp of eighteen, increasingly physically and emotionally different, and yet strangely more drawn to each other than they had ever been.
Xander was the Captain of both Swimming and Water Polo teams, played average drums and was a little lost regards his real ‘focus’ for the future. Old memories recognised the feelings of uncertainty post high school, the difference now was that he had been supported, encouraged and helped at home whenever he doubted in this life.
He struggled a little at school, but unlike his now vague Sunnydale memories, he always went home to a loving *very* extended family. His little sister Poppie flipped her hair and whined that he didn’t let her meet any of his ‘hot’ swimming friends; his older sister visited occasionally and berated him for pining after yet another impossibly unattainable girl at school or his exhaustion after taking yet more work at the pool; his father consistently involved him in any of his woodwork or repair projects for home or coven; and his mother still encouraged and helped with homework – especially the English essays and the compulsory book studies that his brother always seemed to find so easy. And then, of course, there was Will, his companion in so much, his brother, his best friend..
William was the part of Alexander’s new life that he simply could not reconcile with old memories. He wondered how it was that they were apparently not so close in the ‘before’ – of course academically he knew the history, but emotionally he just could not fathom a time when they were denied each others’ company.
He had contemplated his orientation on a couple of occasions, but when he ‘did some heavy petting’ with one of the Parker girls after the party to celebrate their Swim season triumph, he figured it was just lack of experience causing the doubt.
Alexander had a matching earring to William’s, several in fact as they tended to split the pairs, though had refrained from joining his brother in the eyebrow piercing of a month ago. He occasionally played drums for Will’s band but really wasn’t committed enough to music to be bothered with the hours of practice required to become really good. And unlike Will, he tended toward the ‘hippie’ side of the family regards day to day clothes - pastel colours, loose, comfortable clothes and more often than not, a pair of brown work boots and (if cold) a rainbow coloured woven hemp jacket and matching beanie.
The two boys had resolved to get matching tattoos for their eighteenth birthday and their parents had finally agreed. A youngish wiccan from New Zealand (and trained tattoo artist) coloured their flesh adorning their upper right arms with a bold warrior band in traditional Maori style. He did point out that one usually adorned the face as well but neither boy was keen on that.
He grinned over at William who was in the chair being ‘inked’ pleased to see that his brother too was wincing a little. Alexander's had already been done... beautifully.
William was something altogether different to Alexander, where the brunette was outdoorsy and laughed easily, the blonde brother preferred the shadows, was ‘intense’ and rather shy.
William was now a First Dan in Karate and wore black rather than white. He was “Sensei William” these days to the ‘Under 12s’ and was still training for his own pleasure, though Sensei Richard had passed him on to a far more senior Sensei Heng for tuition. Heng was a stickler for technique and despite William’s ‘other’ history and Heng’s sixty plus years, was still managed to out-spar William, annoying the boy enough that the blonde threw himself into training ever more enthusiastically. Heng was also Ninjitsu and Taekwondo trained, and calmly explained the differences and introduced William to new skills.
Will took his skills home, occasionally trained with the larger, physically stronger Alexander in the old shed where a punching bag and home gym had been installed for both the boys (and the use of others in the coven). Alex always ended up on his back somehow, and the lighter William throwing him a hand, hauling him up and laughing before instructing Alex further amidst protests of “I’m a swimmer not a fighter, gimme a break!”
Where Alexander wore colours, William wore black. Alex’s hair was unruly and dark silver due to chlorine, Will’s was curly and short but for his eyebrow length fringe, and it was near white (or black, blue or burgundy – depending on his mood). Casually, he wore predominantly black whenever possible – including his ‘Docs’, though did have several shirts in classic rich colours that lifted the look.
Despite being surprisingly shy, he nearly always had a girl on his arm though nothing was serious.
And when he turned up to the senior school formal in a classic French style eighteenth century long coat, pressed military style high trousers, and an open white frilled shirt with blue crystal buttons that matched his eyes, several of the girls literally swooned.
He was a gifted student of literature and language, though in truth a better playwright than poet. His attempts at verse were gradually being absorbed into his love of the guitar and writing songs, though Charlotte often bewailed the fact that he spent more time composing music on the computer, or playing than actually doing anything ‘of value’ when in his room.
Neither of Charlotte’s boys were what could be described as ‘mainstream’ popular, but both had sets of friends outside school and, to Willow’s genuine surprise, both had excelled at their magical studies from the very beginning – though as they approached maturity, something strange was beginning to occur with their auras. She worried a little but said nothing.
Eighteenth birthdays came and went without incident - well there was that rather drunken party and the accidental, rather embarrassing (later) but satisfying, ‘mutual jacking off’ in the darkened area behind the barn at some stage during the night – but hey!
Drivers licenses were obtained (with Trent’s strict instruction and practice regime), they both did well enough to be admitted to University and their parents, and the coven continues to worry. The Prophesy had said “manhood” for their changes and challenges, but that could mean anything.
Charlotte was quietly pleased when William chose Reading University, his preference like Alex’s, to be at home and share the commute to the same institution as his brother – though studying in a different faulty of course.
That summer, Trent and the boys did up an ancient stone outhouse at the rear of the family cottage, making it into a fine ‘bachelor pad’. Though relatively small it was complete with fireplace, thirty foot pitched roof and mezzanine floor bedrooms at either end of the building, all general living areas on the ground floor. They had a shower and toilet, and tiny kitchen with microwave and bar fridge – but most nights still ate inside with family. It was really the best of both worlds, independent, but… well one just didn’t move away from Charlotte’s home baked sourdough bread, baked dinners and self saucing puddings in *too* much of a hurry!
Alexander had chosen to pursue a teaching degree, appropriately with a specialty in Junior school Physical Education, and assisted his resume by working as a swim/gym coach and volunteering for an outdoor adventure group providing experiences for ‘troubled’ children. He also continued to make increasingly more beautiful and complex furniture with Trent’s encouragement (and guidance).
He was tall, obviously an athlete and seemed capable of wearing a minimum of clothing in any weather. He did continue his magical studies but really went to the study group at the coven for the company of the other wiccans. He only ever sparred occasionally with William, nearly always lost, and would brush himself off good naturedly claiming he was a lover not a fighter to which Will would inevitably reply “good luck with Mrs Palmer and her five daughters then”. They both knew that Alex sadly continuing to have little luck in the ‘love’ department, as he seemed to be targeted by girls who simply wanted to ‘make my boyfriend jealous’ when at a party, or were older than he and happy to have a handsome bed-buddy for the night, with the strict ‘no strings attached’ making the whole thing a purely physical act.
The last two encounters had ended in disaster as he was unable to ‘perform’, Alex realised that the female liaisons were not particularly his thing and at twenty two, confided in his brother that he was really attracted to the male form, “So what does that make me?” to which Will answered, with a knowing grin, “Alexander you twonk! Thank the gods you finally figured it. You been checkin’ my ass out for years! Whaddya worried about anyway, find a nice lookin’ bloke, have a bit of a snog, shag ‘im even… see if it works for you. Who the F#$% gives a toss which way you’re bread’s buttered these days! Half my bloody Arts course is experimentin’, and the Law guys are just beggin for a spanking – by either gender! Anyway you’re still the best lookin’ guy in your Uni cohort – and they’re PE teachers!”
After which a rather red faced, somewhat aroused, Alexander received a semi-passionate kiss from his brother-by-circumstance, and was almost too stunned to hear the sincerely delivered follow up line, “Welcome to the club.”
Even though it was only Tuesday, that night they went out for a few drinks to a nightclub of William’s choosing, and Alexander learned a) just how *not* alone he was with the whole ‘same sex’ thing and b) his brother was truly one of the most attractive looking men he had ever seen and c) his brother was a better kisser, and dancer, than anyone else he met that evening. Alexander looked over at Spike as the cab took them home around 3am and wondered. The prophesy had said they were to join and be together for all time – but until now he had not contemplated that they might ‘join’ literally. Technically it would not be incest would it? And he already loved him deeply ‘as a brother’…
William slapped him on the knee to “Stop [Alex] brooding you sod…” and the brunette smiled a little, the idea of ‘joining’ sometime down the track was strangely unworrying, what should have been was his yearning for William’s lips on his again.
He shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat and the rest of the trip home was spent staring out the car window, contemplating some of his older self’s memories of Spike, and particularly of the feelings of respect and friendship in their last days before Spike destroyed the Hellmouth in an act of self sacrifice. He let a single tear escape as he remembered his own grief after the event – grief that very much included Spike – and realised just how much like the original his brother had become.
The ‘at the moment’ near white blonde William had naturally gravitated toward drama and literature, yet all his teachers at school and many members of the coven encouraged him to do Law. In the end he took their advice – despite far too many memories of Wolfam and Hart, though insisted on pursuing a double degree with “Arts” specializing in Literature – French Poets of the late 1900s as his honours thesis topic. He passed with First Class Honours in the latter was the darling of all the lecturers in the Arts faculty and offered a PhD position “as soon as you like”.
On the other hand he had struggled with the internal culture of the Law faculty, not particularly fitting the old school tie, up and comer’ profile, but nevertheless, managed to pass tenth in the cohort with second class honours and was swiftly taken on for his Articles by a small law firm dealing with mostly domestic/personal issues. Sadly, as he told his brother, the work was “deadly boring – worse than…” at which point Alexander would always intone “A research meeting with Giles!” and they would both laugh a little. Old and new memories were always mixed these days.
William shifted in his chair and pushed his John Lenin style glasses up his nose again wondering why it was, that in every human life he seemed to end up working in a traditional profession, bored, and in a suit – albeit a trendy tie-less one this time, yet still in a company where ‘groovy casual clothes Friday’ still saw him cautioned re his eyebrow ring, and ‘advised’ kindly to modify his black on black ‘rocker-look’ for future Fridays as it would ‘put the clients off’.
There was one more month to go, then he would be a fully qualified lawyer and officially cut loose from the company that had so kindly agreed to use his natural talent for law (and extraordinary knowledge base of nearly two hundred years), for a pittance over the last year. Unlike his peers, however, he was unworried by the money or the prospect that he had no intention of staying on even if offered a place.
He really just wanted to write for a living, had been publishing articles in a variety of low key magazines, and on the web. He also had two scripts (WIPs) being critiqued by notable playwrights and could supplement his income by taking occasional contract work in law, teaching karate and playing guitar on weekends for a couple of professional bands he was involved in… His parents didn’t mind – just wanting to see him happy. He was ‘successful’ according to the outside world, and excelled at his magical studies also, but in himself really still felt like he was missing… something…
As Poppie’s twenty first birthday party approached, Blanche visited the boys one evening in ‘their place’ to discuss some of the arrangements. Their younger sister was to arrive home only a day before and Blanche was determined everything would be ready for the celebration.
Poppie had decided against University in England (much to her mother’s dismay) and had taken off to Nice, to study language, continuing her magical studies with a French coven. And for the last two summers she had travelled with the coven to do charity work in Sub-Saharan Africa. She was voluptuous, outgoing and though practical like her mother, tended to be a ‘party girl’, and Alexander worried about her daily… his old memories knowing only too well that nothing was to be taken lightly if working in the harshest parts of Africa. Poppie knew virtually nothing of Alexander’s older memories but was quite moved when he cautioned her sensibly and hugged her hard at the end of her visit to the family just prior to her second trip.
William grinned across the ‘Alex built’ polished oak table catching his brother’s eye as Blanche (as bossy and beautiful as ever) barely sat down before listing off what needed to be done “*Before tomorrow afternoon*” then added “I assume neither of you have scheduled work for the next two days?!”
In the end William couldn’t help it, he winked at Alex as Blanche continued to allocate jobs to them, pass out copies of the guest list, plus a list of people willing to help on the evening, etc etc. The two men snuck around the table and dived on their sister, pulling her off her chair and into a three way hug, all finally collapsing onto a fortunately close beanbag in one big laughing heap - well the boys were laughing, Blanche humphed her disapproval and surprise then began to giggle too.
She loved her brothers dearly. Particularly appreciating them in her thirtieth year after the end of her disastrous marriage to Political Science lecturer – “and all around wanker”, as William insisted on prefacing his name. ‘Wanker Dougal’ left her for a first year student of his who was exactly half his age after a four year marriage that saw their sister becoming increasingly more down trodden. Apparently her ‘ten years her senior man’ and she were never to have children in the current political climate, but managed to impregnate his new girlfriend within their first month together and apparently preferred the ‘challenge of moulding someone’ new in order find himself.
She had called William on his mobile late one night in complete distress as the man who had convinced her she was “Less than I deserve” had left her high and dry with a mortgage, broken heart and broken dreams, and a few healed bruises as the boys would find out later. Which was something that resulted in a slow developing, persistent case of genital warts for their sister’s estranged assailant. ‘Wanker Dougal’.
Will had handed the phone to Alexander who kept her talking while his brother drove to London at close to land speed record time, making it to her place only ten minutes after his brother hung up from the ‘heart to heart’. Blanche had been hugged firmly by the leather clad William then ordered into the car for ‘a Blanched weekend at the barn’.
Her husband-soon-not-to-be seemed to have missed the memo regards Blanche’s younger brother being a rather *good* solicitor and one who – if unsure of anything – had plenty of lawyer friends to call upon.
In the end W.D. paid costs and then some. Despite their prenuptial agreement keeping their assets separate (at his insistence), their parting still saw him attempt to gain possession of their shared home by claiming he had contributed fifty percent to the household. An attempt that was scuttled when it was revealed that Blanche had been meticulous in her record keeping and had paid *every* bill and the mortgage – and indeed said building was purchased by her in her name prior to their nuptials.
Interestingly, the period of the plaintiffs’ claim that he ‘paid his half’ (of which there were no trackable records anywhere), also happened to coincide with the man garnering several thousand pound a month renting out his own London property – records of which were established. Strangely, it was a sum that never seemed to have featured in his last three tax returns by courtesy of (unbeknownst to Blanche), him identifying himself as ‘living alone’ in his owner occupied property, having been ‘estranged’. (And Blanche would be ever grateful for Willow and William’s combined efforts at finding *that* tit bit of information).
After ambushing their sister with the hug, the two men settled them all in front of the open fire and genuinely assisted. This party would not be one that Charlotte or Trent need worry about, particularly as Trent had very recently had a health scare with his heart and was still on a fairly hefty ‘anti-stress’ regime.
Party all planned, Blanche caught up with the latest from her twenty four year old brothers. Alexander loved teaching ‘littlies’ and had just finished his 18 month contract with a local school and was hoping to garner a permanent position for the new school year, and William had just begun a contract with the syndicated local paper writing a legal advice column (and various other pieces). The stories would appear in eight county newspapers and though the pay was not as good as in the law profession, it gave him flexibility. He still did work for his old boss and found the rest of his time taken up instructing, playing guitar and trying to write.
What Blanche hadn’t missed was the calm ease with which her brothers interacted these days, finishing each other’s stories and giving the occasional reassuring touch, or friendly punch. She felt a surprising pang of jealousy as one man seemed to unconsciously anticipate the needs of the other. Blanche knew the prophesy, they all did, but this… new level of closeness seemed to reflect the coming together of the two, perhaps indicating that the day of reckoning approached. She worried but kept her thoughts to herself as the three plotted ‘the best twenty first ever!’
Indeed Poppie’s night was a triumph. The guest of honour was in fine form and dressed (just for amusement) in full traditional festival costume from Gabon – complete with colourful head wrap. Everything went to plan and a relieved Charlotte hugged her eldest daughter soundly midway through the night as the two washed up yet another several dozen glasses and side plates. “It was the boys too Mum…”
“I know honey… and I’ll be doing the same as soon as I find them.”
“Are they, you know… ??”
Charlotte wasn’t quite sure where the conversation was going, but family protected family so bit the ‘bullet’ so to speak, “Oh sweetie, they’ve both ‘come out’ to us, though neither seems to have found the right one… not like me and… Speak of the devil!” A grinning, grey haired Trent sidled up behind his lovely partner and hugged her soft frame before spinning her leaning her a little, and kissing her Hollywood style.
Blanche rolled her eyes in an act of mock disdain, before flicking the tea towel she was holding, over her shoulder picking up a stack of glasses to return to the tent and quipping, “Ohh… Get a room!” as she left her two amorous sixty-something parents.
The speeches were made, candles lit and blown out, song sung and cake cut, and finally Poppie began to open the presents that had overflowed the small card table.
She had asked that the guests forgo her gifts in preference to donating to an NGO charity, but most did both.
A few of her closest friends from the coven in France and from home sat with her as she unwrapped a pretty jade necklet, set of bright thermal underwear, and ‘cheese board and knife’.
A still somewhat sober William leaned up against the door frame, beer in hand and smiled as his sister opened her sibling’s present, a marginally tipsy Alexander sidled up behind just in time to see the reaction.
Poppie tore open the huge brown paper wrapped piece last only to find a framed original charcoal sketch from the Lord of the Rings film shoot. The elven retreat of Rivendel, was depicted by an artist working for WETA in New Zealand in early 2003, and was accompanied by a beautifully scribed card in William’s copperplate perfect hand and a rather official legal document promising “henceforth, and until their death or incapacitation, two percent of any moneys your siblings earn will be donated to third world charities in your name.” It was enough for another round of hugs.
Charlotte and Trent had given her their present early in the day - enough money to buy a scooter or pay for another few trips home… So now they watched on with the crowd as Poppie pulled delicate rice paper from the second last present.
Revealed, was a small wooden chest of exquisite Indian design – complete with tiny brass hinges and handles, and a brass key so small she was sure it was made for faeries originally.
The music still blared from speakers pointing into the garden, but there was sudden silence in the marquee as Poppie inserted the key, turned it and lifted the lid.
Will’s inner Spike suddenly panicked, Willow and Alexander too, rushed forward, but it was Charlotte who was there first, catching her daughter mere seconds after she inhaled the dust that erupted from the box, began to convulse then tipped back in a dead faint.
It was a more than sober end to the party and distraught guests were assured that they would be informed of Poppie’s progress as she was loaded into the back of the ambulance.
Hours later, they stood numbly in their parents’ kitchen, hugging mugs of tea, having returned from the hospital where they had witnessed their sister having a breathing tube inserted and bloodstream filled with various life saving substances. Both her brothers had seen it all before and the prognosis was not good.
The coven had been convened for the morning, and a worried Trent ushered the High Mistress Willow into the room just as a blinding flash of blue energy burst from the wall just behind where William and Alexander were standing. William had just enough time to think ‘Bloody Hell’ before he and his brother were pulled through the dimensional rift. The already distraught onlookers simply stood in stunned silence as a small puff of black smoke emerged from the place the blast had come.
Alexander, Xander, woke with a strange itch all over his body, nudged the body next to him then opened his eyes. He was on the floor of a small gilded cage held by the tentacle of a huge multi armed blue demon. William wasn’t moving and looked extra pale.
His last thoughts before he passed out again - “This is *so* not of the good.”