We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
~Lyrics by Sister Sledge
Finally, a soft-spoken female answered. “Dr. Chambers’ office. How can I help you?”
“Hi. I’d like to make an appointment, preferably for this evening?” Xander said quietly.
“All right. Is this your first appointment with Dr. Chambers?”
“Okay, for first appointments we usually give the client a half hour, rather than an hour, just to give the doctor an idea about session frequency and length. Is 9:30 pm okay with you?”
“Sure, I guess.”
“Okay, and can I get your first name please?”
“Okay, Xander. We’ll see you this evening at 9:30.”
“Okay.” Xander hung up the phone with a sigh, glancing up as Wes and Gunn entered the kitchen. Wes poured himself a cup of coffee while Gunn sat down across the table from Xander.
“Hey, man, how’s it going?” Gunn asked, smiling at Xander. Xander smiled back weakly.
“I’m okay. How are you guys? I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since Spike and I got here.”
“We’re quite all right, Xander, thank you,” Wes said with a smile, moving to take the morning paper from the center of the table. He discreetly glanced at the phone book just before Xander closed it, and read the word “Psychiatrists” at the top of the page. He made no gesture that he had seen the word, simply pulled the paper apart and handed Gunn the comics. They smiled at one another, and Wesley sat down to flip through the front section. Xander sipped at his coffee and took the business section from where Wesley had left it to read later.
Cordelia came into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee, smiling in greeting to the men around the table. Her smile to Xander was gentler, and it made him feel slightly embarrassed. He didn’t want special attention, he wanted things to go back to the way they were before all of this. He knew that wouldn’t happen, but he could hope.
Xander finished his coffee and stood. “Hey, if you guys decide to go out and kill things anytime today, wanna drag Spike along with you? He’s getting restless, and I think he’s going to slay Angel’s furniture if he doesn’t kill something soon.”
“Can it be that awful ottoman he has in the den?” Cordelia piped up.
“Or how about that stupid torture chamber he has in the lobby?” Gunn smirked.
“Really, Charles, it’s a lounge chair,” Wesley said with a loving smile at his lover.
“It’s hell in cheap velour is what it is,” Cordelia disagreed. Xander smiled at their easy banter, reminded of days before everything had hit the fan.
“You don’t like my lounge chair?” Angel asked, sounding hurt as he entered the kitchen.
“Please, Angel. It’s, like, lime green. It’s damned ugly,” Gunn said, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, but…” Angel tried.
“No arguments, Angel. Spike is going to slay it. I’m going to provide the weapons,” Cordelia said smoothly.
“What am I killing?” Spike asked, entering the kitchen. Xander suppressed a smile at the disarray his hair was in, as Spike blinked owlishly, still half-asleep. Cordelia’s face softened and her eyes widened as she saw how adorable he looked like that, like a small child. A well built, sexy child, which just sounded wrong in Xander’s head. Gunn laughed unashamedly, and even Wesley had to suppress a smirk and hide his face behind his coffee cup.
“The puffball on your head?” Cordelia asked sweetly, accompanied by laughter from Gunn and a snort from Wesley. Spike looked at them all, put a hand to his hair, rolled his eyes, and gave them all a quick two-fingered salute before turning around and going back upstairs.
Xander chuckled and stood. “I’m gonna follow the puffball,” he said, heading upstairs as well.
When he got upstairs, Spike was gelling his hair down, still looking incredibly sleepy.
“Called a shrink this morning,” Xander said, wrapping his arms around Spike’s waist from behind.
“Yeah? Got us an appointment?”
“Yeah. In Receda at 9:30.” He kissed the back of Spike’s neck as he finished with his hair, and they stood like that for a minute, simply being in one another’s space.
“I like them all in the morning,” Xander said with a small smile.
“Who, the Fang Gang?”
“Yeah. They’re like…a family. It’s nice.”
“Bloody Partridge Family if you ask me,” Spike sneered. “’Cept none of them can sing.”
“Well, you can be their David Cassidy,” Xander said with a smile, backing away as Spike turned to glare at him.
“Do not compare me to that poof.”
Xander leaned forward and kissed the frown away, and sat down on Spike’s bed. “Seriously, though. They’re so easy and comfortable with one another. A family. It’s like being at home. With the girls, you know?”
“What?” Xander asked, smiling self-consciously.
“Just picturing Angel and the lovebirds having a lingerie slumber party. There’s makeovers.” Xander laughed.
“You’re insane, you know that, Spike?”
“Yeah, but I’m damned cute.” Xander agreed by kissing Spike on the nose. Spike wrinkled it at the touch.
“When you wrinkle your nose like that, you look like Buffy.” Before the last word was out of his mouth, Xander was running out the door, Spike hot on his heels. Xander flew down the stairs, running as fast as he could, hoping to make it at least outside before Spike could catch him. He was looking behind him, at Spike’s indignant glare, and just avoided his grasp as he made it out into the sunlight of the garden. He laughed and looked forward, just in time to see Wesley and Gunn groping one another in the grass.
The smile vanished, and his eyes widened as he took in what they were doing. Wesley had his hand up Gunn’s shirt, and Gunn’s hand was digging into the back of Wesley’s slacks.
“You like that, Wes?” Gunn murmured into his lover’s mouth as Wesley wriggled happily.
Xander was frozen as another flashback hit him.
”You like that, boy? You like when I fuck you?”
The images flashed over Xander’s vision. He wasn’t seeing Wesley and Gunn in a lover’s clinch anymore, he was seeing himself and his father, the things his father had done to him. He trembled and crumpled to the ground as his legs gave out.
“Fuck,” Spike said, running out into the sunlight, despite the slight smoking that came from his skin the second he stepped into the glaring light. He gathered Xander in his arms and carried him inside, quickly, as Wesley and Gunn broke their embrace at the noise. They looked at one another, and rushed inside after the smoking vampire and the hysterical young man.
“No no no no, don’t, don’t, please, dad, no,” Xander was muttering, his eyes squeezed shut, trying to block out the images.
Gunn didn’t hear what he was saying, but Wesley did, and his face drained of all color.
“Xan? Xan, pet, it’s me, luv, snap out of it, it’s Spike. It’s okay, Xan, it’s okay,” Spike said, kneeling on the floor beside Xander’s trembling form. After a few minutes, Xander began to calm, and Spike started to purr, and pet his dark hair, lulling him to sleep.
When Xander was asleep, drained from the sudden attack, Spike kissed his forehead gently. He looked up at Wesley and Gunn, taking in their expressions. Gunn’s was confused, and he looked like he was about to ask what had happened, when Wesley touched his arm, and they shared a look that spoke volumes. Gunn didn’t speak.
Spike knew Xander would be upset that Wesley had figured out what was going on, and would surely tell Gunn, but it was unavoidable. He sent the two men a look that clearly said not to mention the incident to Xander, then picked up his love and carried him upstairs to his room.
Wesley stood in shock for a few moments before going straight to Angel’s office. He didn’t speak a word to Angel, who looked up from his paperwork, as Wesley went to Angel’s cabinet and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. He poured himself a glass and downed it swiftly, a dark look on his features. Gunn came into the office in time to see Wesley down the drink, confusion still evident on his face.
“What the hell happened out there?” Gunn finally asked, breaking the silence. The look on Angel’s face told him that Angel had figured out that Wes knew what was going on, but he was still left in the dark.
After a moment, Wesley turned to look at him.
“Charles, you are aware that I have issues with my family?” He finally said.
“Yeah, of course, babe. Your dad, and all,” Gunn replied, placing a comforting hand on Wesley’s arm, as he often did when they spoke of Wesley’s father, which wasn’t often.
“I think it’s safe to say that Xander has issues with his own father, as well. And that they are much, much worse than mine.” Gunn’s brow creased in confusion, but after a moment the pieces shifted together, with the help of the look Wesley was giving him. His eyes darkened. He didn’t get to spend that much time with Xander, but knew enough of the younger man to consider him a part of his own small family.
“Yes,” Wesley said.
Back to Mercy
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