Rating: Mature Audiences – for content and themes
Summary: The hellmouth has its way with Xander, this time it involves Chlorophyll, Spike and a bunch of other world beings that the Scoobies are not quite used to.
Spoilers: Sometime in early season five – or possibly late six BtVS.
Warnings: M/M – if you don’t like boys together, don’t play here!
Disclaimer: Don’t own the characters nor make any money from stories etc, and bow down to their original creators Joss, et al., plus all the wonderful online writers who continue to give the Buffy/Angel verse characters life.
previous parts here
Baden worried… but also felt utterly calm… a contradiction he was still trying to come to terms with as he woke for the fourth time in three months and knew that the stories his grandmother told… were real. The frond feeding him pulsed more sap into his system and like any newborn he slept again.
A lifetime ago, the amber around his neck had seemed to pulse, to somehow call to him and he felt compelled to return to the tree his grandmother had always revered. She had always referred to it as special, her friends combined, but he had simply written it off as silly, it made no sense. The tree was one single being. In his teens he had noted the two shades of bark, one light and one dark as she pointed out, but the swirling nature of the bark and the magnificent branches and rich foliage left him extremely sceptical of his grandmother’s ‘ravings’. He would pat her kindly and offer his arm so they might walk slowly to ‘see’ her mother and various other friends.
It was on just such a trip he had picked up the amber from the base of the tree. A single, pretty teardrop shaped piece lifted from the warm earth the day before his grandmother, Dawn, passed away. It had been their last walk together, she slow and relying on his arm and her walking stick, he just happy to be walking with her. The youngest of three of the youngest of her four, he always seemed to feel closer to his grandmother than any of the others.
It was five years ago that she died, and on the night of her funeral he had drilled a hole in the amber and carefully threaded a leather piece through the middle before tying it around his neck.
Confronted by a very worried Melanie, he had told his mother the source of the piece and ignored her warnings, explaining to his worried mother that grandmother’s stories were “ridiculous” and that it was “cool so back off!”, but Dawn’s daughter knew better. She spent days praying to Gaia, to Willow, to anyone who might listen, but also accepted, her son was one of the chosen, and had actively chosen his own fate.
Dawn’s ashes had been spread at the base of her favourite tree and a small brass plaque attached via drill and screws into the east side of the tree. If Xander could have cried he would have as the power tool tore four neat holes in what would have been his thigh in another life. His bound lover simply conveyed his adoration and the wind pushed their combined form as their friend was laid to rest.
Angel had done as promised all those years ago. Every few months the ancient being sat at the foot of the tree to read from a favourite Irish poet or author in quiet, loving tones, often giving in to silent tears, and always hugging the tree’s base to confess his love for his lost Childe. It was the one time Spike felt truly animate again, Gaia and the powers allowing him to reach down and stroke the bereft vampire, giving comfort and starting tears anew. The whispered “Love… Sire” that seemed to come with a slight breeze was enough to complete the moment, and Angel would pack up his books and promise to return in a month or two.
As Xander and Spike had shown Dawn and the others, all those years ago, their change had indeed coincided with an act of partnering, joining them for all time in an act of love, embedded in each other, mind body and soul. Now they blossomed together, their leaves sprouted as one, their combined bark spread over masses of limbs and an ever increasing expanse of foliage. They stood at fifty feet tall and were still growing, their feet/roots now extending as deep and wide as they were high. They hosted numerous birds and beasties. Their combined base was broad and strong. It was time. Their leaves intertwined and released again, the caress everything and though their mouths were joined for all time, they made a ‘call’ to their amber.
Baden had returned to his grandmother’s tree four or five times in the last fortnight… he couldn’t seem to help it. It seemed like an obsession, something kept making him return to the cemetery, to that tree. He fingered the amber around his neck as he gave in to temptation one more time.
Dawn’s grandson, Baden, stepped up to the pale bark on this side and with no more thought, hugged it. The tree shuddered, their nymph was home…
Xander allowed instinct to take over and did to Baden that which was done to him all those years ago. Immobilised by stiff fronds and forced to silence by a feeding frond, the young man was stripped then enveloped in loving bark. He too was to become a wood nymph. The difference? His human/wiccan mother would be there when he emerged, as would faeries Harry and Michael, and occasionally the vampire Angel.
He knew his tree. He felt that… There had been pain when the change first occurred, but now there was just… belonging. He relaxed and felt the loving bark surrounding him, drank more of the sap and… accepted.
And when the silent young nymph was released on the solstice… he was welcomed as a young prince might be to a loving populace. Harry and Michael were front and centre of the festivities and the tree, Xander and Spike, the centre of attention as the ‘changed ones’ now welcomed a nymph of their own.
And it was Harry who tugged an extraordinary youth, complete with his own set of blossom, to be introduced. “This is Ali… just thought you two might have somethin’ in common…”
Baden blushed a darker shade of green, his nether regions filling and lifting away his groin flap, and all the same responses seen in the new nymph for the still twenty years young coral ash from just down…
The two stepped toward each other with trepidation, yet moments later saw their lips and nether regions in contact. It would be another three months before the two partnered properly, but the first kiss grounded them both, and Baden understood. He too would plant himself one day… but that was a lifetime away. He grinned across at Harry (who was currently stroking a quite debauched faerie Michael’s torso as he lay across a loving lap, wings, arms and legs akimbo and head thrown back in bliss). Harry simply smiled back and winked. The lad had much to learn, but if his heritage was true, then the games were just about to begin,