Title: Family Bonds
Summary: After his relationship with Anya fizzles out, Xander and Spike become lovers. Xander’s insecurities lead him to seek help from
Notes: AU begins S6 replacing Hells Bells. No Dawn, Buffy didn’t die, no Season 6 Spuffy.
Disclaimer: not mine, all belongs to Joss and Co. Damn them. And bless them.
Other chapters are here
“Birthday’s only a week away now huh Xan?” Willow said as they wandered through the cemetery on Saturday night. “My little Xander’s all growed up.” She pinched his cheeks, ignoring the soft growl from Spike as she touched his consort.
Xander smiled at Spike walking on his other side and wrapped an arm around his shoulders, silencing the growl. Spike’s displays of possessiveness always gave him a warm tingle. “Yep not long now. Man, we’re getting old now Will. Twenty-two. We’re not those little kids who sat around eating paste anymore.”
“Alexander Harris I never ate paste!”
Xander laughed. “Maybe not, but it would make a birthday party cheaper to cater if you did.”
“You people are bloody disgusting,” Spike said, pulling away from Xander and lighting a cigarette.
“Excuse me Mr Secondhand Carcinogens, that is way more disgusting than eating paste which I so did not ever do,” Willow said, with one hand on her hip, the other waving away the smoke. “And take that thing somewhere else, not all of us have amazing consorty powers of regeneration you know.”
Spike threw his hands up. “Will you idiots stop with the soddin’ amazing consorty powers? He is going to live a bloody long time and I will not put up with that rot for another minute let alone our entire lifetime.”
“Overly dramatic much?” Willow said under her breath.
“Oi! I heard that,” Spike grumbled.
“Pfft, amazing vampirey powers of state the obvious,” Willow huffed.
“Okay how about we stop with the snarking? Bleachie you need to go kill something.” As Spike glanced at Willow, Xander stepped in front of him. “Something, not someone. “‘Scuse me Will.” He took Spike’s face in his hands and kissed him lightly. “Why don’t you go on ahead of us and see if you can find some fledges to kick the crap out of okay? You’ll feel better. I’ll catch up with the others and meet you at the car.”
“You patronising me Harris?”
“Nope,” Xander said with a smile and hooked his hands in Spike’s belt, pulling him closer. “Just looking after my master.”
Spike looked at him with a distinct lack of patience. “Fucking tease. I’ll deal with you later.” Spike kissed him quickly and was gone in a swirl of leather and smoke.
“Um, Xander? You call him master?” She asked with a slight curl of her lip.
“Only when I want to-, um, only sometimes, just for fun,” Xander answered, not wanting to explain the ins and outs of the effect that word had on Spike. “He doesn’t make me say it or anything.”
At her sceptical face he decided a change of subject was in order. “So you want to go catch up with Buffy and Tara?”
“Xander it’s not like his ego needs any boosting you know?”
Xander sighed. “Drop it Will, it’s one of those things I’m not going to talk to you about.”
“Oh. OH! Its one of those things. Oh my. Not wanting to know here.” Willow waved her hands around, obviously flustered.
“Okay, settling. Tara, let’s go and find Tara and Buffy and not speak of the inappropriateness that so often accompanies a conversation about Spike.” Willow took his hand. “Can you use your consorty powers and tell where they are?”
“Nope!” he said cheerfully. “But I can use my man sized eyeballs and see them just over there.” He pointed to a bend in the path about twenty feet away, where Buffy, Tara and Giles were emerging from the shadows.
As the others drew closer Xander raised a hand to Giles. “Hail fellow well met.”
Giles turned on his patented impatient frustration face and gave it full force to Xander. “Did you find anything?”
“Nope, not staked a thing since thing since we all split up,” he said happily. “But Spike’s gone off for a bit of a workout, he was getting twitchy. He’ll probably turn up something else soon.”
“Yes, well needless to say that if you and Willow are in one of those appallingly cheerful moods, you have most likely warned every demon and vampire within a two mile radius that we are here.”
“Oh come on G-man. you got to give them a sporting chance. They’ve got Spike on their tail, not like they’re really gonna get anywhere.” He turned and started walking the path back to the cars.
“So Xan, did you and Willow make with the birthday plans yet?” Buffy asked.
“No, not yet,” Xander said. “We kinda got interrupted by a bit of bitching; not naming anyone in particular.”
“Boy he came with a side of extra grumpy tonight didn’t he?” Willow said, referring to Spike.
“Nah, he’s just a bit on edge, didn’t feed before we left,” Xander said dismissively. “He’ll be fine as soon as we get home. So, party.”
Buffy tugged excitedly on his arm. “Okay yeah, we were thinking Magic Box, training room. It’s big enough, almost empty and no neighbours to disturb with the music. Sound okay?”
Giles cleared his throat and looked sourly at them. “Giles may we use your store for a raucous gathering after which we will probably not clean up but leave it all for you? Why yes of course you may Buffy and it was so thoughtful of you to ask first.”
“See? Saved all that pesky begging, you would have said yes anyway,” Buffy told an annoyed Giles. She turned back to Xander. “So, food, music, what’re you up for this year?”
Xander and the girls wandered their way back to the cars, making shopping lists and planning an event that judging from the sounds coming from behind them, was causing Giles to already have a cardiac episode. Tara dropped back and comforted him, reassuring the put-upon watcher that she would ensure the clean up was done properly and reminding him that Anya wouldn’t let anything happen to his store.
By the time they arrived back at the cars, Spike was waiting, several cigarette butts littering the ground. “’Bout bloody time too,” Spike climbed in the car behind the wheel and waited impatiently for Xander to do another round of goodbyes. “Come on Harris, you’ll see them again in a couple of days, get your arse in the car.”
Xander waved them all off and got in with Spike. “Next time you feed before we leave mister, cause you-.” Xander’s sentence was cut off as Spike reached across, fisted a handful of his shirt and pulled him into a hard kiss, his other hand resting heavily on Xander’s groin.
Spike pulled away and leered at him. “It wasn’t the blood love. Do you have any idea how you look tonight and how you smell when you’re happy and when you’re fighting? It’s like a bloody cocktail. All night I’ve just wanted to bend you over and take you, audience be damned.”
Xander felt his pulse racing and was hit by the surge of lust from Spike. “It’s not the lack of blood?” he asked with a shaking voice.
“Not the blood love.” Spike moved to the soft skin of Xander’s neck and sucked at his mark. He took Xander’s hand and pressed it to the front of his jeans. “See what you do? That’s you love, all you.”
Xander pulled Spike away from his neck and moved in for a kiss that had Spike moaning. His tongue pushed its way into the cool of Spike’s mouth, teasing and tasting, while his hand worked at the belt on Spike’s jeans. Xander broke off and nodded to the steering wheel. “Drive Bleachie. We need to be home.”
Spike looked down at Xander’s hand working into the opening on his jeans. “You going to stop that while I drive?”
Xander met his eyes with a slow smile. “No.”
“And you call me evil,” Spike groaned.
On Sunday, Xander woke around midday out of a dream that he couldn’t remember completely. Something to do with his uncle Rory and a stuffed cat and then it segued into his mother being disappointed with him for some reason he just couldn’t recall. He lay quietly for a time, trying to pull together the images he could still grasp, but it wasn’t enough to make a full picture. Sighing, he kissed Spike’s shoulder and climbed out of bed, pulling the covers over his vampire’s head, the way he liked.
Leaning on the kitchen counter, nursing a coffee that was growing cold, Xander tried to ignore the niggling feeling that wouldn’t leave him. He cursed Spike for planting the seeds of the idea in his head on Friday when he suggested Xander should have a talk with his mother. They talked. Not often, but Xander would sometimes phone her from work, being the dutiful son, although God only knew why he should. She seemed to appreciate it though, even when he couldn’t think of anything to say and she just wanted to drop hints about how his father was acting. She would never say it outright though, Xander had to play this game where he put together the pieces of what she let slip and would soon realise it was nothing different than it had been for years. It was why he only called once every two weeks or so. It was why since he’d gotten together with Spike he hadn’t called at all and worse, hadn’t even given it a thought. He’d actually been happy and who would want to ruin that with Harris family anecdotes?
But maybe Spike was right. Everyone else knew. All his friends. Even Angel. Stupid, don’t say that name, don’t even think that name. But even he knew, so why hadn’t Xander told his parents? He took his coffee to the couch and stretched out, trying to make a list of pros and cons in his head. The cons list was enormous but the pros list had a big flashing neon ‘duty’ sign above it. Eventually the pros won out, and Xander picked up the phone. Fighting back the urge to just hang up, to pretend it was a wrong number, he forced himself to greet his mother and make arrangements for a quick visit that afternoon. Might as well get it over with while Spike was asleep, then get back here before he got up.
He showered and dressed quickly, then woke Spike. “Hey Bleachie,” he whispered. “Wake up for a sec okay?”
“I’m awake, you’re a noisy git,” Spike mumbled without moving the blankets from his face. “You smell clean and dressed. Where are you going? It’s still the middle of the day.”
“Going to see my parents, I’ll be back soon.”
Spike threw the covers off his head. “You want me to come with you?”
Xander shook his head. “No. Next time though okay?”
Spike grunted. “Don’t let the buggers get you down. I’m right proud of you love, you’re a good bloke no matter what they say.”
“Love you Bleachie.” Xander kissed him once more then tucked the covers back over his head. He lightly slapped Spike’s ass as he left. “I’ll wake you up when I get back.”
Spike’s muffled voice came from under the blankets. “You’d better be bloody naked when you do it or I’ll bite you.”
“Threat or promise?” Xander laughed but as he left the building and got into the car, the smile faded from his face and the familiar feeling of trepidation overcame him.
It weighed heavily on him until he reached the front door of his old home. Even though he’d spoken to his mother a few times recently, not counting the complete lack of speaking over the last two months, he hadn’t seen his father in just as long and he hadn’t been home again since he’d left the basement. Did he knock, did he just walk in? It didn’t feel like his home anymore. He settled for both, knocking as he opened the door.
“Mom, Dad, you here?” He stopped just inside the door and hung his coat on the empty rack, the unfamiliar smell of baking hit him immediately.
“In the kitchen Xander,” his mother’s voice came from the other side of the house.
Okay, Kevlar vest on, Teflon coating on the brain, ready for the Harris version of parenting, Xander crossed the living room and walked into the kitchen. Jessica Harris was alone and elbow deep in a sudsy sink full of pans, the counter was covered with ingredients and several plates of cookies. Xander wondered if he should go check the house number again.
“Mom, you’re cooking.” Half statement, half question, completely weird.
“Yes I am.” She said with confidence. “I thought it was high time I gave it a go.”
“And how’s that working for you?” he asked.
“It’s actually a little harder than the cooking shows make it out to be but I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.” She gave him a tentative smile.
Xander gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before he sat at the table. She seemed inordinately pleased; it made Xander feel slightly guilty for not having spoken to her for so long. “Where’s Dad?”
He noted the blush creep up his mother’s face. “Oh. He said he was going to work. He’s been putting in long hours these last few months, some big project going on. You know what he’s like if you ask him too many questions.” She gave a nervous laugh. “I didn’t like to pry but he’s been out most nights until late and some weekends too.”
“It’s Sunday Mom, he works Sundays now?” She ignored his question, pretending to be absorbed in a stubborn stain. He got the hint. “So what have you been doing while he’s out?”
“Baking!” she said with mock cheerfulness.
“And did he notice that?”
Jessica turned back to the sink. “No, I have things cleared away before he gets home. Its usually doesn’t turn out that good anyway and when it does he just assumes I bought it.” She finished scrubbing the last tray, then dried her hands and sat with Xander at the table, placing a plate of cookies nearby. “Are you game Xander?”
Xander seriously wondered if he was. But one glance at his mother told him it would be churlish to refuse and so he smiled and took one. Surprisingly they weren’t too bad. Not a patch on Willow’s guilt cookies, but edible. He nodded as he ate it. “Good job Mom.”
Again the exceedingly happy smile in response left him with a twinge of guilt. He wanted to push it aside, after all his parents were the ones who should be feeling guilty. But if they were unable to take the role of adult in the family relationship then perhaps it would be up to him. No point deliberately perpetuating a dysfunctional family.
So where’s Anna? How is she?”
“Its Anya Mom, and she’s fine, but we broke up a few months ago.”
“Oh, she was nice.”
“She still is nice, we’re still good friends,” he told her patiently. “We just decided we weren’t right together. She’s seeing someone else now.”
He waited while his mother digested the information. From experience he knew she would need a moment to process it all, let the connections form and basically let it all sink in. Years of looking for comfort in the bottom of a bottle took their toll. Granted her bottle was nowhere near as deep as his fathers’ but still, it had an impact. When her eyes again focussed, Xander knew she’d gotten everything.
“Oh Xander are you okay?”
“I’m great Mom, really and its kind of why I’m here.”
An awkward, uncomfortable expression crossed her face, almost as though she were waiting for Xander to ask her help with a personal issue and that would be unthinkable. “You need something son?”
Xander resisted the temptation to roll his eyes. “No, I just came to catch you up on a few things. I’m seeing someone new as well, for a while now and we are really happy.”
“Oh, well that’s lovely. Who is she?”
“Right. Who is she. Um, well that’s kinda one of the things I need to tell you. See it’s not a she. It’s a he.”
Xander knew that would take a while to filter through as well and again, he waited while she sorted through his words.
She nodded slowly then reached across and took his hand. “He? Not she? It’s a he? Xander do you think you might be gay?”
The question caught Xander off guard, her connections were a little more tenuous that he thought. “Um, yeah Mom. I’m seeing a guy so yeah I’m pretty sure I’m gay.”
“You’re not going to tell your father are you?” Xander’s stomach lurched at her scared expression.
“I was going to yeah, but if you-.”
“Not now Xander, please? Just wait until things settle down for him okay? I don’t think he needs big news like this right now.”
He’d been gone from this environment for so long but the fear in her eyes was so familiar he couldn’t refuse her. He realised she still had hold of his hand and squeezed it gently. “I can wait Mom.”
Funny that those simple words made his stomach roll too; praise from his parents was so rare as to be almost non existent. “So you’re gay. That’s, ah, it’s, I’m supposed to say something profound aren’t I?” she asked with the hint of an uncertain smile.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to. I just wanted to tell you.”
“I’m not disappointed or anything Xander. If you’re happy then that’s good isn’t it? You should be happy now.”
“I’m happy Mom. We both are,” he assured her.
“Will I get to meet him one day? What’s his name?” Jessica snatched at a dish towel and twisted it nervously through her fingers.
“Spike. And yes you will one day. He’s sleeping now, he, um, works nights sometimes and besides I thought it would be best to just come and talk by myself this time.”
“Spike? That’s unusual. Are you living together Xander?”
“Yeah we are, we have been for a while now. We, um, had a kind of, well I guess it would be like a kind of commitment ceremony a while back, so this is, you know, this is it.” Again, he waited while she processed.
“Commitment? This is it?”
“You didn’t invite us-, me.” She looked hurt and relieved at the same time.
Xander blushed. “It wasn’t that kind of thing Mom. We didn’t invite anyone, it was very private.”
“Does he drink?” she asked, her voice suddenly harsh.
“Well sure, but-.”
“Does he do anything to you? Does he hurt you?”
“Mom, no!” Xander was taken aback by her sudden, almost desperate manner. “He has never hurt me, he wouldn’t. And he doesn’t get drunk like that. The drink is not an issue Mom. It’s okay.”
She dropped the towel and grabbed at both his hands, squeezing his fingers so hard the bones ground together. “Watch the drink Xander. They get mean. And you can fawn and simper and degrade yourself and it makes no difference, you still aren’t good enough.” Her eyes glazed and she no longer looked at him but through him, the words pouring out in a desperate rush. “You can try to get him back. You can colour your hair and keep in shape and learn to cook and still he’ll be so drunk and apathetic he doesn’t notice. You’re just a thing that’s in the way, that must have done something so bad that your own husband can’t even look you in the eye, so bad that he can’t even be bothered to let you go to have a better life.”
Xander had no words. His mother’s face was red with anger and hurt. There were tears in her eyes but they didn’t spill. Her hands gripped his so tight that she was trembling. “Mom? Are you okay?”
She stared past him for another long moment then her eyes slipped back into focus and she saw him again. She nodded and forced a smile. “I’m sorry Xander, I don’t know what got into me. Your, um, friend, he sounds lovely. I’m glad that you’re happy.”
“Mom? You want to talk about this? Has Dad done something?”
Jessica Harris shook her head. “Nothing. He’s done nothing. It’s been twenty years and he’s done nothing different. I shouldn’t have said anything. Please don’t tell him I said anything.”
Twenty years? Her math was slipping, they’d been married for twenty five. He took in her pleading expression and shook his head. “Course not Mom.”
She stood quickly and moved over to the sink. Xander watched his mother pick up a glass and swallow down what looked like water. He knew better. He said nothing, but waited until she calmed and turned around. There was that familiar fake smile plastered firmly on her face.
“So. You have a husband of your own then.” She gave a fragile high pitched laugh. “Oh my, that’s not something I ever thought I would say to my son. I guess I’ll have to get used to that.”
Xander cringed. “No Mom, that would be something you don’t have to get used to saying. I don’t think Spike would appreciate it too much.”
“No, of course not. But then I probably won’t get to meet him will I?”
“Mom, you’ll get to meet him, just not today okay?”
Xander had no idea when. He had no idea how Spike would react. He was possessive enough around the Scoobies, it was anyone’s guess how he would behave once confronted with Xander’s less than caring parents. Still, it would have to happen one day. And maybe going by past indicators, it would only have to happen the once. His family were not the get-together type.
When his mother began flicking glances between the clock and the door, he knew it was time to leave. He stood slowly, while she gave an almost grateful sigh and jumped out of her seat.
“I have to finish cleaning before Tony gets back. Of course I don’t know when that is, but just in case, you know?” She waved a hand vaguely at the mess still on the counter.
He smiled. “Sure Mom. I need to get back home anyway, Spike will be up soon.”
“Yes. Don’t keep him waiting. He won’t like that.”
At the front door, she handed Xander his coat and held the door for him. Almost as though it were an afterthought, her head jerked up and she said with surprise, “It’s your birthday soon.”
“Yeah, next weekend.”
“Yes. It’s been twenty years,” she said vaguely.
Xander sighed and corrected her patiently. “I’ll be twenty-two Mom.”
“What? Oh, yes, yes you will.” She looked warily down the street as Xander stepped out on to the porch. “Thankyou for coming Xander.” Suddenly formal and almost dismissive, she gave him a small push towards the path. “Go home to your friend.”
He turned back, in two minds about whether he should kiss her, but she decided for him by giving him a small smile and a wave then stepping back inside and locking the door. That’s a sad lady, he thought as he left the yard and got into his car. Maybe it was just as well his father hadn’t been there, from the sound of it, Xander’s news would not have been too well received.
He pushed aside all the feelings his visit had stirred up. Again, experience told him there was nothing he could do where his father was concerned that wouldn’t make things worse. One day he would have to sit down and talk to his father, one day he would have to have his parents meet Spike. Both made his head spin with unpleasant possibilities so he chose to focus instead on the master vampire waiting for him at home. Surprisingly, and considering it was Spike, it was a much less complicated train of thought.