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Getting On

Tisienne Blue

Part Eleven

He slipped on the Armani with a soft sigh.

It had been years since designer clothes had felt comfortable on Xander’s body. Five years, in fact, and while he never would have expected that when he’d left, there was something stifling and just too… much… about them now. Hell, these days he was used to jeans and t-shirts bought at Wal-mart; flannel when the weather called for it, which wasn’t that often in Dallas.

And more to the point, he was used to hot blue eyes locked firmly on him while he dressed. Even at six in the morning, Will would lay in bed and watch him dress, that heated gaze promising all sorts of naughty pleasures when the clothes came back off hours later, and… and it had only been two and a half months that they’d been together but Xander couldn’t help feeling lost without those eyes; that slow, sleep-tinged smile.

“Fuck,” he grumbled as he fastened his pants, “I am so whipped. I’ve been gone less than a day and I’m all… sad?” Well, yeah. He missed Will. He’d known he would, but this… this felt like he’d lost some sort of limb that he’d never even known was there.

Xander sighed again, softly, and plucked his mobile phone from the table beside his bed.

He was one button away from hearing his lover’s voice when the knock sounded at his door and he groaned, closing the phone. “Come in, Dad.”

A voice chuckled with obvious amusement and Xander knew it wasn’t his father even before he saw the man’s face.

“As much as I might find it amusing to claim responsibility for your presence, Xander…”

“Come in, Uncle Ethan,” he corrected himself. “I’m sure you have a butt-load of meddling to do, so we might as well get started, right?”

Even with the annoyed tone of his own voice, Xander found himself smiling at his father’s lover. Ethan might be many things—among them scallywag and rogue—but one thing Xander had never doubted was that the man loved his father. Loved him too much, he’d thought when he was younger, but now that he had Will, he thought he understood. He would do anything for his own love, after all, so the many things Ethan had done in the past and would likely do in the future to make things easier for Rupert Giles were… forgivable.

One brow arched as Ethan stared at the dark haired young man he’d known for a good two decades and would know for much longer, still. It had been a year since he’d seen his beloved’s eldest child but a year couldn’t possibly account for the confident strength his gaze was being met with. “Well, well,” he murmured, “I do believe someone has finally grown up.”

Xander blushed slightly, then shrugged. “Maybe I’ve just been doing some thinking, Ethan. I’m twenty-six; it was bound to happen sooner or later. I couldn’t stay stupid forever, right?”

The rather lanky Englishman barked out a short laugh, one corner of his mouth quirking into a sly smirk. “Oh, you were never stupid, Xander. You simply had no referent for what you saw playing out between Ripper and myself. But I’m thinking you do now. And I would dearly love to meet whoever it is that’s shown you. Not that Larry chap, of course, because that was doomed even before I knew about it.” His sly and wicked gaze grew a bit. “This is someone new. Someone you… dare I say love? How marvelous!”

It was exactly that strange knowing that Xander hated about Ethan Rayne.

“Fuck off, Ethan,” he mumbled, knowing the much older man was right. He really hadn’t understood about Ethan and his father. Of course, why would he have? And then again, Rupert Giles was only his father by virtue of adoption so maybe he’d been a little… possessive of him, even at two years old, which he’d been when they’d met. Himself and his Dad.

His biological father wasn’t even a memory, and Xander was convinced that was a good thing.

He had no recollection of Anthony Harris.

He had no memory whatsoever of that man hitting his mother or him, although he was fairly sure that had happened.

He didn’t have the vaguest shadow of a nightmare during which his sperm donor had tried to kill Joyce so that he could inherit Summers Industries.

In fact, his earliest memory was of a very tall Rupert Giles and an equally tall Joyce Summers-Giles—because she’d given up the name ‘Harris’ after her first husband had killed himself while on bail and driving drunk after the attempted murder, and thank God it had been him against a tree rather than helpless pedestrians—smiling and calling to him to come get his new ‘prezzie’ and tell him he was going to have a baby brother or sister in just a few months. He’d been glad because it meant his Mommy hadn’t been getting fat after all.

His next clear memory was of seeing a small, wrinkled red thing and being told it was his sister Elizabeth.

“Bethy,” he remembered his mother saying. “Xander, this is your sister Bethy. It’s going to be your job to look after her, okay? Not now, but when she’s older. She’ll need her big brother because kids can be mean sometimes and your Daddy and I weren’t married when she started growing.”

Everything after the name hadn’t made much sense to him then and when he’d tried to say ‘Bethy’ it came out more like ‘Boofy’. And his first little sis had been Buffy ever since.

It had still been years before Ethan had entered their lives, of course.

Joyce had died—ironically enough—crossing the street while pushing Buffy’s stroller just over a year later when a different drunk driver had careened through downtown Sunnydale, but she’d somehow seen or felt the car coming and at the last possible moment she’d thrown Buffy—stroller and all—to Lilah Morgan-Chase, who’d caught the baby and claimed an impressive reward for doing so a few weeks later.

It had been hard, he remembered, for his Dad and he to try to hold things together on their own. Dad had been dying inside; mostly because while Joyce had been a good choice as a wife—she was the Summers in Summers Industries and their marriage had created a merger between SI and GileSystems, forming Giles-Summers Industries—he’d truly loved her. Add in trying to raise a one year old as well as a three year old, and…

Oh, yeah. Things had been hard and Xander hadn’t been old enough to be of any real help. In fact, he was likely more of a hindrance.

He certainly hadn’t been even a little bit supportive when his Dad had married again; this time to a woman who was so unlike Joyce that he couldn’t manage to grasp it.

Sheila had been a nightmare. A nightmare composed of too-perfect hair and too-reserved touches designed to give the impression that she cared, but… she was an anthropologist and cared nothing for anyone or anything other than her research.

Xander still wasn’t sure of how she’d managed to conceive his youngest sister Willow but obviously she had… and had run off to study aborigines in the depths of the Congo a mere six weeks after giving birth.

Three weeks later, Ethan had arrived and nothing had been the same again.

For one thing, Xander had never seen his father so… relaxed. Not since before his mother’s death, anyway.

Ethan had bothered him in a way Sheila never had. Even as an uncaring and cold woman, Sheila and his Dad had made some sort of sense. Hell, he’d seen his friends’ parents and it was always boy-girl. But boy-boy? It didn’t gel within young Xander’s mind.

He’d been resistant, but Ethan had been so good with Buffy and Willow that as he’d grown older he’d sort of accepted the other Englishman, trusting him almost as much as he trusted his Dad.

And when he was fourteen he’d discovered exactly how far Ethan was willing to go to keep their family on top and he’d never really trusted him again.

But now… well, he still didn’t exactly trust the older man, but he… understood.

All the introspection took a mere moment and when Xander smiled, he let his eyes meet Ethan’s. “I mean it. Fuck off. I’m not the same kid you knew, Ethan. My life is… different.” Xander swallowed hard, forcing his stare to be both hard and sincere. “And when I leave this time…”

“You’re not coming back,” the reedy man guessed. “Your father will be heartbroken, you know… after all, you’ve only one more million to earn before you’ve matched and surpassed him.”

Xander sighed. “It was never about out-doing him, but you know that, don’t you? Or maybe it was at first, but… not now.” He waited for the nod then went on. “You’re right, by the way. I’m in love. And he’s…” Xander’s eyes glazed and he sat down suddenly on the edge of his old bed. “He’s not what I ever thought I’d fall for, Uncle. He’s… complicated. He’s just so… fuck, I don’t know how to say this without sounding scarily gay, but he’s so fucking perfect. I… I swear, if he were a woman, I’d be plotting how many kids I could get him to shell out for me.” A soft sigh left him and he hung his head. “Jesus, I know Dad wants grandkids, but I just can’t… I mean, I can because I have, but it wasn't... good, and...”

Ethan smiled his dangerous and wicked smile as he patted Xander’s shoulder. “I doubt you need to worry about that, Xander. Buffy seems to have it covered.”

He laughed softly at the brunette’s stunned stare.

“Buffy,” Ethan said slowly, “has developed an infatuation for Liam Aurelius of Aurelius Technology Systems.” He grinned. “And he seems to return her interest. Assuming it lasts more than another few months, there is a very good chance that your father’s desires will be satisfied within the year.”

And the interesting part of that was… “GSI has been aching to do a hostile takeover of ATS for years,” Xander snapped. “Why in the hell would Dad want to do it that way? Connect our family to… them?” He glared. “He would never…!”

Ethan smiled a bit and shook his head. “If you’d actually been listening, you would have heard me saying there’s a grand passion between your sister and Liam Aurelius. It has nothing to do with Ripper, although he’s not exactly upset about it. If they marry, GSI gets ATS without any drama… and without cashing in any capital. And there is the added benefit of children. God help us all if the step-brother breeds first, though. He’s got forty-nine percent of the public stock through his mother, whether he’s brain damaged or not… which is actually rather in question.”

And that was probably true enough, though Xander had never really bothered to keep up with the lives and such of the competition, but ATS were definitely their biggest rival company and had done things that… well, were definitely not kosher, which begged the question…

“How in the Hell did Buffy ever meet Liam Aurelius, much less end up spending time with him? We avoid them like the plague, ever since Heinrich fucked us over after Mom died!”

Another small smile crossed Ethan’s lips. “I suppose your sister felt it was time to bury the hatchet, Xander. Among other things.”

He felt ill at the very idea of his sister with an Aurelius, but… it was her decision, Xander figured. He only hoped she wouldn’t end up regretting it. Hell, he hoped he didn’t end up vomiting.

Part Twelve

Lindsey MacDonald groaned silently when William walked into the room, and it was definitely William, not Spike. Spike had carried himself differently. Spike had been almost as pale, but so fucking perfect.

“What the hell is he doing here?” he demanded, looking up into serious brown eyes.

Angel shrugged, sipping his warm champagne with a grimace. “It’s his house too, Linds. When he wants it to be, anyway. I guess he was bored and decided to swing by. Or a chipmunk told him to. Either way.” He carefully hid his sorrow at his brother’s state. It was his fault that Spike—William, he reminded himself—had been so badly injured that his mind took flights of fancy. “He has every right to be here,” he added.

Lindsey sighed and shifted a bit, trying to hide himself behind the much larger form beside him. “I know. But it’s been months. I just…” He sighed again. “I can’t stand the way he looks at me, Angel. Like I shouldn’t care about the scars. I mean, he was…”

“Pale. Perfect. An incubus before the accident. You’ve said. Repeatedly.” Angel growled softly, setting his glass down on the tray of a passing waiter and snatching another. “God, you’re so fucking shallow, Linds.”

The younger man shrugged. “You’re just now figuring that out?”

He tensed fully when the blond in question approached, only to find his brow furrowing at the lack of interest in the soft blue eyes.

William smiled just a bit as he entered the usual Friday night party his brother threw. He didn’t particularly want to be there, but with Xander gone he was somewhat at loose ends and dropping in was far preferable to sitting and moping. Besides which, he had his mobile, so if his love called, he’d be able to find a quiet space very quickly. And he was thinking about Xander again, which was not good for his peace of mind.

It wasn’t until he was approaching his brother that he saw the other man who seemed to be hiding behind Angel’s tall, broad form. “Bloody hell,” he grumbled, but it was too late to change direction so he simply pasted a pleasant smile on his face.

“Angel. Good to see you,” William managed to say with just the right degree of affection. “And Lindsey.” He didn’t realize that his tone had become a good bit more flat but the two men couldn’t help noticing. “Hello.”

Less than five minutes were spent chatting and when William wandered off in search of shrimp puffs because ‘you know I can’t resist them, Angel’, Lindsey frowned. “That was… what the fuck just happened here?”

Angel furrowed his enormous brow playfully as he laughed on the inside. There was nothing quite like stunning Lindsey, after all; especially with how much the younger man hated being out of the loop. “William has a new boyfriend. You knew that, right? It’s been… God. Over two months, now?”

Close to seven years without dating and Spike—William—had someone all of a sudden and wasn’t pining for him? Well, shit.

He’d thought he wanted the blond to move on, but… Lindsey frowned and if he hadn’t been at a party—and standing beside William’s brother—he would have snarled.

“So, who is he? Who’re his family? Oh, wait. Let me guess. No one we know, right? I would have heard,” he said instead, his teeth gritted; fingers clenched into fists at his sides. “Does he know about the brain damage?” Lindsey blinked. “Or is that why he’s with him? I mean, think about it, Angel. Crazy, rich, gay guy… and did I mention rich… whoever it is could be reaching for the brass ring, right?”

Angel frowned deeply, swallowing the entire contents of the glass in his hand. But no.

“No… he doesn’t tell anyone who he is. He never mentions ATS. Hell, he doesn’t even use Aurelius in his name, except at the office. The guy he’s seeing… well, he can’t be after William’s money. How would he even know he had any?”

Lindsey snorted. “Maybe the ‘vette? Or Sp… William’s apartment? How many guys without money drive around in fifty-thousand dollar cars and call million-dollar condos ‘home’?”

Fuck. As much as Angel hated to admit it, Lindsey had a point.

Of course, that didn’t mean he was going to say so out loud, or even imply as much.

“I’ve had him checked out,” he lied bluntly, “and Xander Harris has enough money of his own that he doesn’t need my brother’s.”

He would get Charles on it in the morning, he promised himself. And if Lindsey was right, there would be one construction worker who couldn’t find work even sweeping up dust.

Angel looked after his own, and William was definitely his own. He’d known the guy since he was nine and William was six, for fuck’s sake. They were family and that trumped everything else.

“Planning to bite me if I touch you?” he heard, and the teasing tone of the words had him smiling suddenly.

He turned, one large hand closing around the petite fingers presented to him. “Only if you ask really nicely,” he answered, Lindsey and his issues forgotten for the moment. “I thought you had to leave this morning?” His voice was soft and probably just as besotted as he was.

Buffy smiled and shrugged as he lifted his arm in a clear invitation. “With as many chicks on the make as you have here?” she laughed, her arm going around Angel’s waist as she pressed herself lightly against his side. “I’m staking my claim, Mister. And I’ll leave in the morning. That way I’ll still catch the second night—and all the rest—of the Shareholder’s Ball.”

And God, how he loved a woman who could multi-task.

“Oh, hey,” he smiled, giving her a gentle, sappy gaze, “My brother’s here. You should meet him.”

Buffy couldn’t help tightening her hold just a little before nodding. Angel’s father and step-mother had been dead for years so she’d never met them. His brother was the only family he had left and he wanted her to meet him?

It was a good sign, she figured, that he was as enraptured by her as she was by him.

“I’d love to,” she agreed with a soft squeeze to his waist.


Xander was groaning on the inside as old man Travers rambled on and on about… well, he didn’t know what because he’d known by the age of ten that the man could and would go on and on about nothing at all, simply because he’d once been Rupert Giles’s boss and so thought he had some claim to the family’s loyalty.

He sipped slowly at his scotch on the rocks, ‘uh-huh’ and ‘oh, I’m sure’ emerging from his lips at appropriate intervals while he scanned the room for a rescue.

God, how had he ever thought he was happy when he was younger? Sure, it was nice to have people around whose sole purpose was to do things for him, but the third time he’d tried to put his own ice in his glass and had it taken from him and refilled, Xander had realized that there was a certain sense of satisfaction in doing things for himself and… and he hadn’t truly understood that until just that night.

Even a year earlier he’d lapped up the attention, but maybe that was because he’d been coming off of the travesty of a relationship with Larry and had needed soothing.

Yeah, he told himself, that was probably it.

Now, however, he was with Will and he was so fucking happy. Except for the part where he was hundreds of miles away from his lover and being bored to fucking death.

“I’m sorry, Quentin,” he interrupted, not even noticing that he’d used the man’s Christian name for the first time ever, “but my sister seems to need me.” He nodded towards Willow, who looked frighteningly good in a sapphire blue silk gown, then narrowed his eyes as he caught one of the waiters giving her an interested stare. “She’s way too young for that guy.”

The older man’s obvious grumble had him lying like a cheap rug when he continued with “Not to mention, he’s a waiter. She’s so far out of his league that it should be illegal for him to even think about looking at her like that.”

And as that was something Quentin Travers could understand, he let the young man wander off, even if he did mutter “Sister. Hardly. Your half-sister’s half-sister, yes, but no relation whatsoever to you, Alexander,” before wandering off, sharp-eyed for his next victim.

Xander heaved a sigh of relief as he made his way across the room. He couldn’t imagine anyone actually wanting to spend time with the snobby old man. That didn’t make Quentin’s words any less true. Willow really wasn’t related to him by blood, but what Travers didn’t get was… it took more than the same genes to make a family. He’d grown up with both his sisters; loved them like they were a part of him. Hell, Willow was only six years younger than he was and he remembered his fumbling attempts at changing her diapers, watched over carefully by her nanny, Miss French.

He’d gotten many a giggle from her name back then because he’d been obsessed with old TV shows at the time—mostly ‘Family Affair’—and the nanny ‘Miss French’ couldn’t have been more different from the heavy, bearded butler ‘Mister French’ if she’d tried.

So no. Willow really was his sister, regardless of what Quentin Travers seemed to think.

“Hey, sis,” he said with a one-armed hug that effectively blocked her from the view of the poaching waiter, “I missed you.”

For her part, Willow was nearly bouncing and had been ever since she’d seen Xander across the room. She’d known he was home again because Uncle Ethan had called her dorm room and left a message, but she’d had classes and such and this was the first chance she’d had to see him.

“Xander!” she grinned, turning under his arm to wrap her own around his waist and hug him hard. “You’d better have missed me! It’s been three whole weeks since you’ve even called! And ‘it’s me, just saying hi’ on my voice mail doesn’t count!”

Xander laughed and shook his head. “Like it’s my fault your schedule exists in a dimension that’s totally opposite from mine? Right. Tell me another one, Wills.” He winked as she released him and grinned up into his face.

Willow snorted through her happy smile. “Uh-huh. And the new boyfriend doesn’t have anything to do with you suddenly being so busy that we’ve barely spoken in nearly three months? Tell me another one, Xan.” She giggled. “In fact, tell me all about him. Is he cute? Because I didn’t want to ask over the phone but I’m betting he is. What does he do? Um, for a living, not… with you, because… well, that might be hot to know but it’s none of my business and you’re my brother, so thinking about you and him and the hot-naked-sweaty would be kind of creepy, right? So only tell me whatever won’t have me needing therapy a few years from now, okay?”

And it never ceased to amaze him that she could manage to get that many words out on one breath and not sound even slightly fazed.

“In order, sis…” he said with a laugh, ignoring the comments about ‘hot-naked-sweaty’ completely because… his Willow would never even think such things, “Yes, he’s cute. Hell, he’s fucking beautiful. He works for his brother’s company doing… something that involves phone calls. We don’t really talk about his work. It embarrasses him. But Angel likes him to keep busy and so do I. He’d get bored, otherwise. As for the rest…”

Xander shrugged, his arm tightening around the petite redhead. “He had some kind of car accident a while ago so he has a limp but he’s been working with Cordelia—you remember her. Anyway, she’s been helping him so he’s not as bad off as he was at first, and…”

He smiled sheepishly and leaned down to whisper into Willow’s ear. “I’m in love, Wills. It’s like he makes me… more me, somehow. Or maybe more the me I want to be… and that doesn’t make any sense, does it?” Xander flushed slightly.

The mention of Cordelia Chase had thrown her for a moment but she’d known that both Xander and Buffy had kept in touch with the girl. Of course they had. Cordelia’s mother had been the one to catch Buffy’s stroller the day Joyce Summers had died. And granted, Lilah Morgan-Chase hadn’t made the perfect catch because Buffy still had a small scar on her temple from the corner of the metal newspaper box, but… Willow could totally understand their loyalty to the girl.

In fact, she shared it, and if Cordelia Chase ever called her needing anything, Willow would do whatever she could to make it happen, but… Cordy was scary. Always had been, what with being so focused. But at least she hadn’t wasted the scholarship to Sunnydale Preparatory Academy that GSI had arranged as part of Lilah’s reward for saving Buffy.

Still, that had nothing to do with what Xander was saying, so Willow pushed it from her mind for the moment and let herself squeal softly.

“You’re in love? Does he love you too? Are you going to get married,? Because I hear that lots of gay couples are doing that now, and… and why isn’t he here?” she demanded with a sudden frown, not even noticing the disappointed waiter finally walking away.

“He’s your boyfriend and if you’re in love, he should be here! Meeting the family and stuff, right?” Willow pouted. “Xander, are you ashamed of us? Because with Daddy and Uncle Ethan being what they are, you know your guy would be welcome and… and we’ll all love him just as much as you do. But in different ways from you because it would just be freaky if we suddenly wanted him and…” She blushed. “Shutting up now.”

Xander found himself laughing more than he’d done in ages and he pulled Willow close again, not caring that he was likely wrinkling her gown.

“I may not have mentioned who I really am,” he murmured into her ear. “To Will, I mean. Um, that’s his name, in case I didn’t mention it on the phone. Will. William Barrington. And yeah, he… loves me.” Xander sighed, suddenly aching again with missing his one and only. “But the me he loves is Xander Harris, Wills. The construction worker who dabbles in the stock market. I… I don’t know how to tell him that I’m not as poor as my life makes it seem… or that I’ve been sort of… lying to him since the second we met.” He sighed again.

Hazel eyes blinked and Willow pulled back to stare up into worried brown. “Oh.”

Yet another sigh. “Yeah. Oh.”



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