Title: Transitions From Blindness: After the Start
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series—AU from Tabula Rasa onward.
Genre: AU, Romance, Angst
Content Warning: M or MA
Warnings: past canonical child abuse/neglect, None planned, but I’ll update as things occur.
Word Count Goal: 30,000 minimum
AU Note: In case it’s confusing I’m posting parts of chapters within the whole story as I write, so “Apocalypse, Please” is Chapter one and this is part two. Total drama and revelations I wasn’t planning on in this one, but hey I’m going with it.
He waited a moment as everything stopped. Even Anya and Harry had paused for a moment, though Anya at least looked a bit peeved at the interruption. And still they were apocalypse-less. Damn it.
He looked at Spike, who had just settled back into his chair in that “I’m relaxed and ready to dive from the line of fire” way. Yeah, Xander knew that look. He’d gotten a black eye from a fledgling last time Spike wore that lazy grin with the relaxed shoulders that Xander wasn’t staring at because they looked rather nice in the thin, shiny, button-down shirt. At least not right now while he had this to deal with. Later though, staring might be on the menu. Much, much later. Like when Buffy and Willow were gone and Willow wasn’t giving him the betrayal eyes of doom. And what did Willow have to feel betrayed about anyway? She’s the one who had been ignoring him.
“Well?” Buffy said, drawing out the word. She stood there, hands on her hips and a scowl on her face, which may have been nice if it had been in his defence, but no, she’d directed the scowly-impatient face at him as if he had done something wrong. And that right there made him sit up and stare right back at her because he had done nothing wrong.
“Anya and I broke up. I introduced her to my neighbor, Harry. They’re happy and I’m glad Harry lives two floors below me.” He looked over at the pair. Anya wore a malicious grin and he just knew what she planned to say.
“We had sex for three hours yesterday. We almost made it to four, but the neighbor called the police on us for being too loud. She’s human.” She wrinkled her nose and frowned.
Spike nodded. “Right prudes, most humans are.”
Anya tapped her chin and eyed Spike. “Xander’s not, but maybe that’s why the cop ran away when I invited him to join us. He did look rather horrified, which was rude. Wasn’t it Harry?”
“Quite rude. There we were offering him a tumble and before we even got to the good part, he’d turned tail and run.” Harry pressed a kiss to Anya’s brow. “I made it up to you though, didn’t I?”
“Yes. I loved my new toy. It was so big and you were even better than Xander.” She kissed him and then turned back to Buffy and Willow, “The neighbor plans to move out at the end of the week. Apparently they can’t get any sleep. I think she’s just jealous that we didn’t invite her to play.”
Harry laughed and Xander found himself grinning too because, really. He’d missed out. Xander swore he saw Gile’s mouth twitch in what may have been a smirk. Harry and Ahn had already been here when he arrived and they had looked rather tousled, but Xander had thought they’d just grabbed a quickie in the bathroom…. Huh. Who knew his pre-thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner would have turned into that? Xander caught Anya’s eye and nodded in Giles direction. She just smiled. Huh. He’d think on that later. Like tomorrow later.
Xander turned back to Buffy and Willow, catching sight of Tara out of the corner of his eye. She was tucked down in her chair, hands held over her mouth as she shook with what had to be laughter since he couldn’t see any tears.
That reminded him of the youngest member of their group and just to be sure he leaned forward to look around Spike. Dawnie was… not paying the slightest bit of attention to the drama of the moment. She had a plate full of mashed potatoes and creamed corn that she was currently adding gravy and stuffing to make a mash that looked rather good. He’d have to try it. And yeah. Food. Distracting. But Buffy and Willow. Important. He sighed. This was so not turning into the semi-happy little gathering he’d imagined. What else was new.
Buffy had lost her “I’m Queen” stance and looked kinda lost. Anya knew how to bust the wind right of someone’s sails.
Willow… Willow just looked ready to cry, what with the wobbly lip and teary eyes.
She tugged at the hem of her shirt as she looked at him. “Is this why you’ve been mad, Xander?”
That made him sit back like he’d been slapped, because no, no that was not why he’d been pissed. The whole not having a memory because she’d fucked with his brain and he was not doing this, not today, except apparently he was. And then suddenly he wasn’t.
“I’m pretty sure the lack of sex doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact he’s been ignoring ya. The fact you scrambled his brains with a spell….” Spike tapped his chin before turning to Xander, one eyebrow raised in question. “Pretty sure that’s it, idn’t it, pet?”
Xander eyed Spike, wondering what was up with the vampire. First there’d been the kitten poker (which he was never doing again because three cats were more than enough trouble, thank you very much.), then the scathing, but helpful commentary about his fighting ability, and now this. He’d take it though and figure it out later. Damn he had a long list of things to figure out later.
“Spike’s pretty much got it right, Willow. The brain scrambling? Big no-no.” Willow started to speak and he cut her off before she could do more than squeak. “And no, I don’t want it fixed. Ahn and I are better off this way and Ahn’s happier with Harry than she ever was with me. Right, Ahn?” Silence. He turned and caught sight of them necking again. He waved at the pair. “So, yeah. As you can see, she’s much happier.”
Buffy seemed to lose the awkwardness and replace it with indignant constipation. Kinda like a two-year old he’d seen once upon a time at the park on the rare day he actually went there. So not helpful, but he was going to be the bigger person and not roll over and say ”Hi! Carpet here. Walk all over me, please.” Or was that the smaller person? Didn’t the bigger person forgive?
“Look,” he said. “I’m not fighting with you because there’s nothing to fight about. I’m not taking the blame either because I didn’t do the magic and scramble everyone’s brains. All I did was say that sorry wasn’t enough. And that, that is not a reason to get pissed off with me and declare me persona non grata, which you both did.” He paused and looked them over. They hadn’t heard a word he’d said, well they’d heard it, but they’d heard their interpretation of it, which meant his whole speech had been pretty much worthless. He sighed and looked away only to find himself caught in Spike’s considering gaze. Spike gave him a nod that could almost be considered encouraging and he kinda liked that so maybe things weren’t totally hopeless. Just weird. Really, really weird.
A heavy hand settled on his shoulder and he looked up to find Giles standing behind him.
Giles cleared his throat. Buffy and Willow looked towards him hopefully. “Xander does have a valid point. Your spellwork was substandard as well as ill done, Willow. That is neither here nor there, for this is to be a family meal despite the lack of blood ties between many of us, but since the topic has been broached, I do have an announcement to make.”
Xander waited for the glasses cleaning to start since the pause kept getting longer and longer, but it never did. Then the pause ended with a whoosh as the tension broke.
“I will not be returning to England at this time.” Buffy rushed forward to hug him or something, but Giles simply held up his hand and she stepped back, confused. “I have resigned as Buffy’s Watcher. Instead, I will be undertaking the re-training and restraint of a rogue magic-user.”
Buffy stepped forward, clenching her hands into fists as she drew her shoulders back, ready for a fight. “Is Ethan back? What’s he up to this time?”
Giles regarded her calmly before switching his gaze to Willow. “Ethan is of no concern. My charge is Willow Rosenberg.”
Xander tensed, ready to protest that, but Giles’s hand was still on his shoulder and he could feel the man’s tension even if he couldn’t see it. It was enough to make him stop and think and when he did, he paled because this was bigger than just standing up for his best friend or even himself. This was doing the right thing… even when it sucked demon balls. And this, this really did because he couldn’t say Willow wasn’t a threat. He couldn’t call it a onetime mistake because it was simply the last in a long line of not-so-much-mistakes as abusive addiction. And Xander knew addiction. He’d lived with an abusive asshole of an addict and been his punching bag for years. He bit his lip, hard, drawing blood to the surface. He’d almost been Willow’s magic punching bag and that right there shook him to the core.
He looked into Willow’s pale face and met her shocked gaze. “Giles is right. You need help. Before someone gets hurt.”
He closed his eyes and slumped back in his chair. He didn’t need to see the betrayal to know it was there. Being an adult sucked. He so wanted a chocolate dipped twinkie. Like now. Doing the right thing wasn’t supposed to mean betraying a friend.
A cold hand landed on his knee, cold enough he could feel it through his shorts and he opened his eyes to find Spike watching him with a grim sort of approval, maybe. He didn’t know what to do with that, so he turned away and checked on Giles only to find him looking at Xander with pride?
This…. He was the cut-up. Willow was the one people were proud of. Buffy was the one people approved of. He just looked from Giles to Spike and back again, but it didn’t change and when it did, all he got from Spike was an eye roll and Giles just patted his shoulder before asking Buffy to bring the turkey to the table and directing her and Willow to open chairs, silencing their protests by saying they’d discuss it after dinner.