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Yes it's true that I believe
I'm weaker than I used to be
I wear my heart out on my sleeve
And I forget the rest of me

Yes there's times I've been afraid
And there's no harm in that I pray
Cause I'm more frightened everyday
Someone will take the hope I have away

~ Lyrics by Matchbox Twenty

Xander looked around the waiting room, his hand holding Spike’s a little too tightly. When the receptionist finally turned to them, after sitting and filing her nails for what seemed like 20 minutes, but was probably closer to 10, he kept his eyes down. His face was burning with shame. These people would know what happened to him. They would look at him and see the invisible scars. They would judge him.

“Dr. Nasser? Your 8 o’clock is here to see you now,” she said, fluffing her bleached hair and speaking through her nose into the little intercom on her desk. Her hair didn’t look nearly as cool that color as Spike’s did, but Xander refrained from mentioning it.

“Thanks, Debbie,” came a male voice from the speaker, and in a couple of minutes, a tall, heavy set man with a thinning hairline and wire rimmed glasses stepped out from behind a heavy thick door. He smiled at them, though the smile didn’t reach his eyes as he took in their close proximity and the fact that they were holding hands.

Immediately Spike started to have doubts about this Nasser person. If he was a homophobe, how would he help Xander deal with being raped by his own father? Then again, maybe the man would help Xander simply because he’d think the act even more indecent than it already was. Considering how indecent it was, Spike decided to himself that maybe the man would be helpful after all. He kissed Xander’s cheek chastely and patted him on the back, urging him forward.

“You must be Alexander. I’m Tobias Nasser. It’s nice to meet you,” Nasser said, offering his very large hand for Xander to shake. Xander took it and shook it, thought not as firmly as he normally would have. He was too nervous. Nasser was even taller than he was, and quite heavier. Xander had only just learned why big men put him on edge, and knowing the truth didn’t lessen the slight fear.

“Call me Xander,” he replied, his voice coming out weak. He tried a smile.

“All right, Xander. If you’ll just come on in, we can get started.”

“You’ll be okay here?” Xander asked Spike who nodded and shooed him forward. Xander nodded back, and leaned in close. “Don’t annoy Debbie too much.” Spike just snorted, and Xander followed Nasser into his office. The door shut behind him, and in Xander’s ears it echoed ominously.

He looked around the room, noting several degrees hanging on the wall beside the desk. A large bay window covered in Aztec-inspired draperies showed the L.A. night skyline. Nasser motioned for Xander to sit on the wine colored leather sofa, facing the window. Nasser sat in a high-backed chair of the same upholstering, flicking on a small tape recorder. He held it up for Xander to see.

“This is just for my personal notes, in case I need to go back over something at a later time. It’s quite a bit more efficient than writing on a notepad.”

“Okay,” Xander replied nervously.

“Okay, then, Xander, why don’t we start with why you’re here?”

Xander took a deep breath, his fingers fidgeting nervously while he stared at them. “I, uh…the past week or so, I’ve been…having these flashbacks. I guess…when I was growing up, I guess my father was, um, sexually abusing me. I must have been repressing it or something, because I only started to remember it all last week. I, um…my boyfriend thought I should see someone, get some help, and I guess he’s right, which is kinda why I’m here.”

“Mm hmm. I see. So, you’re in a homosexual relationship? With that gentleman that came with you this evening?”

“Yeah,” Xander said.

“Do you recall what set off these flashbacks you’ve been having?”

Xander felt his face burn with embarrassment, but he was in for a penny, might as well go for the vault. He continued to stare at his hands. “Yeah. Spike…that’s my boyfriend…Spike and I were going to…um…we were going to, uh, to make love. And I guess I just…he said I went crazy. Huddled in a corner and cried for hours. I fell asleep, woke up, and didn’t remember freaking out, even. Then it just…came back. All of it. I’ve also had nightmares for most of my life, but I could never remember them. Or, I didn’t until this week.”

“So you were engaging in sexual acts with your male lover, when you started to have these memories of abuse?”


“Had you and your boyfriend had these types of relations before?”

“Not really. I mean, yeah, we’d made out and stuff, but we never, you know, took it to that level.”

“Hmm. And how long have you been dating?”

“Um…hmm. A while, I guess. Half a year?”

“I see.”

“Yeah. I just…I can’t stand knowing what…what my dad did, you know? I kinda wish I’d never remembered. I think I’d be happier.”

“Mm hmm.”

“I just…I can’t believe this is happening to me, you know?”

“Well, Xander, are you sure that it actually is?”

“Um…what do you mean?”

“Well, do you think it’s possible that you’re sublimating your fears about a, uh, an unnatural relationship? Perhaps manifesting those fears into an irrational set of false memories about sexual abuse in the home?”

“You think…”

“All I’m saying is that maybe, in your heart, you know that a relationship that is homosexual in nature is perhaps unnatural, and iniquitous? And possibly, this knowledge is exhibiting itself in a fictitious recollection of abuse?”

“I don’t…”

“It’s something to think about, Xander. Is it possible that what I’m suggesting could be the case?”


“I’ve seen a few cases like yours, Xander, and in my experience, what I’m suggesting is usually what has occurred. The relationship you’re in right now could be what’s causing all of this.”

“So you don’t think I…”

“That’s not what I’m saying, Xander. I’m merely suggesting that perhaps you need to look at your current relationship for answers as to why you’re only now ‘remembering’ your father’s abuse.”

“Oh.” Xander’s mind was flying. Could what Nasser was suggesting be true? Was he making all of this up in his brain because somehow he knew he shouldn’t be with Spike, simply because Spike was a man?

“I would like you to make another appointment with Debbie, for some time later this week, and we can talk about this a little bit more, all right?”

“I…okay…” Xander said, still trying to wade through the muddle in his brain.

“Excellent. It was very nice meeting with you, and perhaps in your next session we can talk some more about this.” Nasser stood, and Xander followed suit. Nasser led him to the door, and opened it to usher him out. “Debbie, make another appointment with Xander for some time later this week, will you?” he said to the receptionist, who was giving Spike some nervous glances. Spike had a smirk on his face, but was the picture of innocence. Xander didn’t really notice, though. He was still trying to make sense of what Nasser had said.

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