Ultimately, they’d decided to ignore everyone else’s advice and just do what felt right to them.
William still didn’t know where Xander had found the rings and frankly he didn’t care. All that mattered was that they were perfect.
Two simple bands of woven white and yellow gold with two stones on each—lapis and cats eye—above each other at the center.
The stones weren’t large or gaudy. They were just small chips, faceted and polished to reflect just a bit of light whenever it struck right.
‘They’re us, Will,” Xander had said when he’d come home beaming that day a mere week earlier. ‘See? The white gold is you. Because you’re so pale and perfect and precious to me…’
He smiled as he remembered his love blushing then.
‘So you’re the bloody well stunning gold gold, then. Must be. All that working in the sun on the site and whatnot…’ he’d said, and he’d meant it, too. His bloke was always tanned from work. Even with going part time at the site in order to attend classes, Xander was still bronzed and so very hot to the touch. His love was actually a few tenths of a degree warmer than most people, and William loved that.
The stones were supposed to resemble their eyes, William knew, and he strongly suspected that Xander had spent an enormous amount of money—enormous now that he knew what real people earned—on having them made. He seriously doubted that Xander had just stumbled across rings that were so… right… by accident. However, if his love wanted him to think that, he’d happily pretend.
“Hurry up! We’re gonna be late!” Buffy cried while dragging her husband towards the building. “I will not miss seeing my brother marrying your brother!”
It had been nearly two months since she and Angel had said ‘to hell with it’ and run off to Reno… and her father and Ethan had almost forgiven them when they’d seen the pre-nuptial agreement they’d both signed. Almost.
But just because she hadn’t had the wedding of her dreams, that was no reason to deny her brother his.
And okay. He and William both insisted that they weren’t getting ‘married’, but… Willow was right and Buffy didn’t see the difference either.
Angel groaned, entirely sure that he’d be hearing about this ‘not a wedding’ for months. Still, he had his woman. She was his. And he’d been entirely whipped even before they’d eloped, so… “Yeah. Let’s go see them be… mated?”
It had taken what felt like ages to make his way through all the ‘he said, she said, they said, someone else said, I heard’ bullshit, but Charles Gunn had finally done the wading.
Okay, so he’d actually broken into William and Xander’s apartment and snatched some hair from what was clearly a brush shared by the two men.
He’d separated out the dark ones and sent them out to be tested, along with some of the little kid’s hair and at this point, they were all just waiting for the outcome.
The independent lab had said they’d have an answer by that afternoon, and that being the case, Gunn sent the child in question off to play with his own kids.
“Shouldn’t be long now, Jenny,” he said softly. “And then we’ll know if your sister was, uh…”
“Lucid enough to know who she screwed?” Jenny Callender sighed. “Drusilla was a lot of things but lucid was rarely one of them. Like I said at the start of all this, I just…”
She closed her eyes and tried not to cry.
“I know Dru was older than me. We were never really close. But she called me that day. The day after she slept with him. ‘Xander’ she said. She said his face was a poem, whatever that means. ‘Xander Harris… he will carry you into the world, just as what I carry will someday take me from it’. How fucked up is that?”
Well, it was pretty fucked up, Gunn admitted silently… but not as fucked up as the fact that he’d never even considered that Dru—or Drew, as he’d assumed the Chase woman meant—could be a nickname for Drusilla.
He still didn’t think the pretty PT had lied to him, though. In fact, he believed that Xander Harris had been either ashamed or embarrassed by the fact that he’d slept with a woman… and had fudged the truth a bit for his friend.
Either way, he needed to pay the man a visit and see what he had to say… and the sooner, the better.
“I’m only nineteen, Mister Gunn, and my sister is dead. I spent pretty much everything she left me to hire you. I can’t take care of a child. I don’t have the time or the money and… it’s just not fair. To either of us. I mean, I love being an Aunt, but… this Xander Harris is the father. He should take care of his own kid, right?”
And God, she hoped she didn’t sound cold, but as much as she’d loved her sister, the reality of raising Drusilla’s child would mean leaving college and getting whatever sort of job would have her. And that would probably mean relocating since everyone back home knew what had happened to Dru.
She’d caught some of them looking at her oddly afterwards, as though insanity was contagious or something.
Of course, Jenny admitted silently, if she hadn’t been experiencing the looks and whispers herself, she probably would have been one of the people gossiping. It wasn’t often that a young mother had to be shot by the police in order to rescue the child that same mother was trying to strangle… in broad daylight… in a park… because the child had picked a flower while holding a rock, as near as anyone who’d been there had been able to tell.
“I’m not trying to pass the buck or anything,” she said hopelessly. “I just… isn’t this a better solution than foster care? I mean, I’ve heard that all sorts of horrible things can happen to foster-kids and…” She swallowed hard, trying not to cry. “I think this is what Dru would have wanted, you know?”
When Dru wasn’t busy wanting a purple pony or a fairy to braid her hair, Jenny thought but didn’t have the heart to say.
Charles sighed but nodded slowly.
He knew the girl wasn’t trying to just ditch the kid. If that was what was happening, Jenny never would have come to him and paid his rather high fees. She would have done exactly what she hadn’t done and dumped the little dark-haired kid with Social Services and gone on with her life.
And the sooner he went to see Xander Harris and explained the situation, the better for everyone, he figured.
Hell, if the man didn’t want a kid around—assuming the dead, crazy girl had been right about who had knocked her up—he could definitely afford boarding school, at the very least. He was pretty sure there were boarding schools that took five-year-olds… and if not, he’d talk to Kendra about maybe putting the kid up with them for a while. He didn’t think she’d mind.
That was a worst-case scenario, though, and he wouldn’t have any idea of whether it was even a necessary conversation until after he spoke with the alleged father, so…
“Yeah. Okay. Look, I have some business to take care of, Jenny. I should be back in a couple hours. Here.” He pressed a few folded bills into the girl’s hand then shrugged when she blinked at him. “Kendra said something about taking you and the kids shopping later and I know you haven’t had time to make it to the bank, okay?”
Not to mention that the girl’s checking account had a grand total of three hundred forty-seven dollars and sixteen cents in it, and Gunn was pretty sure that wouldn’t do much more than get her home, with or without the kid.
“Tell the wife I’ll call her later,” he added with a wink as he grabbed his jacket and headed for the door. He wasn’t actually supposed to be working that day and Kendra would ask all sorts of questions that he didn’t want to answer in front of Jenny. He’d have to tell her on the phone.
Twenty minutes later, Gunn found himself exiting a crowded elevator into an even more crowded hallway.
He moved along as quickly as he could, although he was somewhat hampered by the slow pace of the couple in front of him.
The man was tall and bulky with bizarrely spiked hair, while the woman was… well, tiny. Tiny and blonde, but definitely tiny. Hell, the top of her head didn’t quite reach the man’s shoulder.
And then he saw the man turn and lean down to whisper something to the girl, and…
“Angel, man. That you?”
Angel jumped slightly before he recognized the voice, but only because Charles Gunn was the last person he’d expected to find at his brother’s building… or so he told himself.
“Gunn. What are you doing here?”
Buffy arched her brows and turned, taking in the tall, solid form of the man her husband seemed to know, then cleared her throat. “Well? Introduce me to your friend, honey,” she said silkily while Angel blushed.
His face felt hot but Angel merely nodded. “Sorry, Buff. This is Charles Gunn. He’s, uh… my Head of Investigations. Gunn, this is Buffy. My wife.”
Dark lips spread into a wide grin as Charles reached out to shake one dainty hand firmly. “Well, well. So you’re the little lady that finally caught him, huh? Oh, Kendra’s gonna be so mad I came alone.” He chuckled and looked at Angel once more. “I heard you got married, man, but I didn’t know you’d hit the jackpot. Your wife is hot, Angel. And since she’s loaded herself… how’d you manage that? It can’t be your looks. Or is that it? She was loaded and you talked her into it before she sobered up?”
Buffy found herself laughing along with the two men and made a mental note to invite the Gunns to dinner very soon. After all, anyone who could tease Angel like that and not only avoid making him mad but have him laughing was definitely the kind of person she wanted to have around more often.
She loved the big, broody lug, but sometimes it felt like keeping a smile on his face was a full-time job.
“Why haven’t I met you before?” She demanded, slipping her free hand through the crook of the dark man’s elbow and pulling both the males towards Xander and William’s door. “I mean, you know my Angel… and you obviously know Will and Xander or they wouldn’t have invited you to their wedd… um, their mating ritual, right?”
And Jesus-fuck. He had the worst timing ever.
“Uh.” Gunn said, the sound unnoticed as the blonde went on.
“Oh, hey! I don’t see a gift. I guess you’re giving them services or something, right? I mean, with them starting a new business soon, they’re sure to need background checks and stuff and you’re Angel’s Head of Investigations! Wow, that’s way better than a toaster!” Buffy’s brow furrowed. “Of course, I’m betting they already have a toaster… and probably everything else people usually bring to these things. And God, I wish someone had thought about that when we got married, honey, because who really needs sixteen waffle irons? We don’t even eat waffles!”
It was the sappy smile on Angel’s face that told Gunn his boss and friend was actually happy, and how could he do anything but be happy for him?
That still didn’t solve the problem of his little—or not so little—timing snafu.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t figured out how to extricate himself from the small but surprisingly strong Mrs. Aurelius before the blonde woman had him through the crowd in the apartment and face to face with William Aurelius, Alexander Summers-Giles and a pair of rather short redheads, the female of whom just had to be Willow Giles.
Fuck, it was a family affair and he was definitely not supposed to be there.
“Look who I found, guys,” Buffy crowed. “It’s your friend Charles! We ran into him in the hall and…”
And that was when she noticed the confused look on her brother’s face… and the matching expression on her brother-in-law’s.
“Um, you do know him, right?”
‘Hello, shit… meet fan,’ Gunn thought, even while trying to back away from the group.
He’d been making calls all day, but none of Lindsey’s usual crowd seemed to be around, and that struck him as… odd.
Hell, he usually fielded calls from at least four or five people and hour, all of whom wanted him to ‘grab the Missus and come on by’.
Not that Anya generally agreed, which meant he didn’t go either, because… well, in the two months or so of their marriage, Lindsey had learned a very valuable lesson—and more than once.
He might be the man as far as gender was concerned, but his wife had bigger and harder balls than he’d ever even dreamed of having. And more pairs.
And the minute he went somewhere without her, or without her express permission to go alone…? Well, he’d never known just how much his ass could take until he’d put her to the test.
But when he made her smile, she made him smile, and as that was far preferable to having her make him cry and bleed and beg for forgiveness—or possibly unconsciousness—he’d definitely learned just who was in charge.
Again, it was both a relief and an annoyance, but the one time he’d complained to his Aunt, she’d just stared at him expressionlessly and informed him that he was damned lucky to have found someone who could and would look after him once she was gone… and she had clearly told Anya because his wife had come home from her afternnon’s shopping with a ball gag and unlined leather restraints, which she’d put to use immediately, along with the then brand new bludgeon that passed for a dildo.
It was so large that she’d needed a new harness for it, and… Lindsey’s anus still cringed at the memory of those four days although his cock tended to stir just a bit every time he recalled them.
But that wasn’t the point.
The point was that Anya had told him she’d be busy with his Aunt until after eight that night. They were co-chairing some women’s charity function or other—no men allowed.
Anya had ‘suggested’ that he go out… ‘perhaps’ with some of his friends, though it had clearly been an order rather than an offer.
A part of him rankled at having his every waking moment dictated, but his wife was very good with both carrot and stick, so Lindsey had pushed that portion of his psyche to the far reaches of his mind and tried to do what she’d said.
The only problem was… nobody was around.
He’d tried all the usual spots; he’d even swung by the rarely used health club most of them belonged to, but… nothing. And cell phones were clearly turned off because he kept getting voice mail accounts, and… if he didn’t find somebody he knew soon, he’d be in for it when he got home and Anya asked him what he’d done that day, and…
He shifted in his car seat, the now-familiar shifting of the plug in his ass going almost unnoticed aside from the small shiver it caused him.
“Hell. I’m fucked if I don’t find at least one of the guys to hang out with.” And he was pretty sure he meant that literally.
In fact, the only real question in his mind at that point was whether the screwing was going to be the kind that had him shouting ‘God, God yes!’ or ‘No… please, God, please… NO!’.
As he wanted to avoid the latter, he started to call all the numbers in his phone again, frantically hoping that this time, someone would answer.
William couldn’t help the worried gaze he kept flashing towards Charles Gunn as Xander’s sisters, father and Uncle Ethan joined them, Buffy and Angel in the bedroom.
He hadn’t invited the Investigator to the most important event in his life, and he knew it. What was more, Charles Gunn clearly knew it too, judging by the look still on the man’s face.
And yet, all Gunn had said when Buffy’s words had been met by blank stares was ‘I’m here for Xander. We need to talk.’.
Of course Xander had insisted on William being there… and of course Buffy and Angel had to join them… and then Willow and Oz.
It was as the to-be-joined young men were making the announcement of a small delay that Rupert Giles and Ethan Rayne had arrived, and now… well, now there were more people in William and Xander’s bedroom than Will had ever even fantasized about having there, and sadly they were all related to him in some way or other, however extended those ways might be.
He shook off the bizarre thoughts and focused on the one man with whom he had no family ties whatsoever. “Well?”
It would have been hard enough to tell just the dark-haired man about what was going on; especially considering what he’d interrupted. But now it was Xander-Harris-Alexander-Summers-Giles, William Barrington, Angel, Angel’s wife… and fuck him if the entire fucking Giles household wasn’t there too, more or less.
“It would really be better if I could talk to you alone,” Gunn tried, looking at the brunette with very little hope. “I’m not sure you really want…”
Xander frowned and pulled William closer to his side. “Anything you have to say to me, Will can hear. We’ve had enough of secrets.” He nodded sharply, smiling just a bit at his lover’s muttered ‘too bloody right, pet’.
Gunn sighed softly then glanced towards the small balcony beyond the glass doors.
“Fine,” he answered, “and I get that everyone else is interested, but maybe we could talk out there. Just the three of us. It’s…” he licked his lips then shrugged. “It’s something you should hear first. Then you can decide how much you want to tell… everyone.”
It was only William’s arms wrapping suddenly around his waist that kept Xander from collapsing.
Okay, it had been fine at first.
The three of them—himself, Will and the Gunn guy—stepping outside and closing the glass behind them.
He’d been able to see his family watching them and while he was a little bit worried about what the black man was there for, he still felt… safe.
But then those dark lips had opened and Xander had gotten a very bad feeling about what was going on.
“I was hired a while back by a young woman,” Gunn had said. “She wanted me to find a Xander Harris. It was a… delicate matter.”
He barely noticed William’s eyes widening at the words; mostly because he had no idea of what the P.I. meant. “Okay…”
“You were in El Paso six years ago, weren’t you?” the man continued and when Xander had nodded, Gunn had nodded, too. “Do you remember meeting a young woman by the name of Drusilla Argenti?”
He hadn’t, of course. Oh, there had been a girl named Drusilla, but he was pretty sure that hadn’t been her last name. “Uh… not Argen…”
The shaved, dark head shook for a moment then apologetic brown eyes met Xander’s.
“Sorry,” the man had said. “She was still Callendar then. Drusilla Callendar. She changed it later.”
Xander had shrugged and told the story, all the while cringing on the inside. He’d never told Will about his one and only experience with real heterosexual sex. Hell, he’d done his best to erase the memory from his conscious mind, which had been surprisingly easy to do.
He hadn’t even thought about Dru in years, much less how they’d come to be together.
“Oh… God,” he remembered whispering, even as William looked at him with wide, stunned eyes. “I… what about her?”
The Investigator’s eyes had gone from apologetic to sad, even as the man had spoken again. “There’s no easy way to put this, Xander. Drusilla Argenti is dead. She was shot while having a psychotic episode that caused her to attempt murdering her child.”
Xander recalled swallowing hard and biting his lip.
He even recalled hearing his own voice asking “What… I’m sorry. Of course I am. But I barely knew her and… why are you here…?”
“She was trying to kill her child… and yours,” he’d heard William whisper, that melodious voice shaky and sounding as stunned as Xander himself had felt.
His head had spun wildly and he was sure he would have fallen except…
William was holding him. Holding him close and tight, even after what they’d just heard and the conclusion Will had come to, which was just impossible, wasn’t it?
“I… no,” Xander insisted frantically. “I don’t… I can’t have a kid! I mean, it was just the one time and… and God, I told you, Cha… Mister Gunn! I told you! It was a party and I never should have even gone but I’d only been in El Paso for like a week and I didn’t know anyone and then the guy down the hall invited me and… and someone spiked my drink, I think. I mean, they must have and I don’t… I don’t even remember the sex part that well! I mean, it was different, but so not really what I wanted, but I was so…”
He looked at William and swallowed hard, feeling sick.
“Go on, luv,” the blond insisted, steeling himself to losing his lover. Hell, being afraid of that was something he seemed to go through on a regular basis, and he was bloody well sick of it! But this… this was big.
Xander could function with a female… and had, judging by what Charles Gunn was saying. And that meant his bloke was possibly not as same-sex oriented as William had thought, and… what if someday Xander decided he’d had enough of being gay? What if he met some woman who interested him so much that he wanted to leave?
He didn’t truly think that would happen, but that wasn’t even the important part.
His lover had a child.
His lover had a child… and what did that mean for them?
Would Xander even want to raise a child with him? Would he even offer it as an option?
Or would he take the safe route and decide to cut all ties with the gay lover who might possibly cause the court system of the great state of Texas to keep that child from him?
They’d never discussed children, actually. There hadn’t been time. And—in all honesty, William admitted silently—it hadn’t seemed like something that would even be possible for them. And yet, here it was. Xander was a father. And William was… nothing. Just Xander’s lover. They hadn’t even managed to do their little ceremony, though it would have had no legal bearing anyway.
“Go on,” William said again, his arms tight around his bloke even as he resigned himself to losing him. “You were so… what, Xander?”
A fast, shaky breath entered Xander’s lungs before the words spilled from him as though some sort of a dam had burst.
“God, I was so fucked up, so reeling… so fucking horny! It felt like I would die if I didn’t fuck or get fucked soon! And Dru was there with this guy… I don’t remember his name, but he was so hot, and when they grabbed me and started touching me, I couldn’t even think, much less wonder what was going on… and the next thing I knew, we were back at my craptastic place down the hall and he was fucking me so hard, and Dru must have slid underneath us somehow, and he felt so fucking good, even with the condom, and she was there under me and he… God, I don’t even remember all of it but the next morning…”
Xander sobbed softly, his eyes closing as he tried to let William feel how sorry he was for not telling him before.
“I woke up,” he whispered, “and it was just me and her. Drusilla. And I didn’t know what to say. I mean… ‘Sorry if I gave you the wrong idea but I’m gay and I really didn’t mean to fuck you’ might have sounded a little cruel. So I just kissed her cheek and said thank you.”
His brow furrowed slightly and he sighed. “She just gave me this look… it was bizarre… and said something about matching my deposit with her own. I figured she was still flying from whatever had been in the drinks, but… when I went down to the desk the next day to pay for another week, the clerk told me that a Drusilla Callendar had paid me up for a month.”
“I never tried to find her,” he added with a good bit of guilt, “and I never saw her again. How…” Xander’s eyes opened, staring helplessly at Gunn. “How can I be a father? How could she not have s-said? She knew where I was! I didn’t leave for m-m-months after that and… and it was just the one time! I… I don’t… understand…”
Charles Gunn cleared his throat quietly, not sure of what comfort he could offer the young man but knowing he had to say something. Finally he found some words, though he wasn’t sure of whether they would help or harm.
“I guess I should tell you… it was her little sister who hired me. And according to her, Drusilla was never entirely, uh… normal. Her kid, on the other hand, seems to be just like any other. I mean, I have kids too and they all play together. But Drusilla… well, maybe she didn’t understand that you’d want to know, right? You hooked up at a party where everyone was dosed with something. Who knows?”
Gunn shook his head, feeling a little bit better when Xander’s eyes opened again. “And for the record, this is just what Jenny—that’s Dru’s sister, by the way—says Drusilla told her. Uh, I sort of… invited myself in and stole some of your hair a few days back. For DNA testing. We’ll know for sure in another couple days, okay?” And that wasn’t really true because he’d know later that day but… this Xander kid needed a little time to get used to the idea, not to mention this was possibly the worst moment ever to find out what might be.
Xander swallowed hard before nodding. “I… okay.” It was then that he glanced at the glass door and saw his family—including Angel and Oz—watching them with very worried expressions on their faces and he groaned. “Oh, God. I… how can I even begin to tell them about… all of this?”
William’s fists clenched against his love’s stomach and he gave Gunn a speaking look. “Charles will explain the particulars, Xander. In fact, I fear he will have to.” His gaze didn’t become any less intent when his bloke turned to stare at him with somewhat damp eyes.
“We need to talk,” was all William said, waiting for the large, dark man to leave them. “Privately,” he added when Gunn didn’t move quickly enough for his liking.
Feed the Author