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Getting On

Tisienne Blue

Part Fifteen

It had been a difficult night, Buffy remembered, slowly slipping from Angel’s bed and making her way to the shower.

Even with as slow as William had been in getting to his feet again from the edge of the pool, she’d been stunned enough that she’d barely managed to stop him before he could storm off without his boots.

Some fast talking had finally convinced him that Angel hadn’t said anything about his former life as ‘Spike Martin, Professional Beach Volleyball Star’… and amateur man-whore, although she hadn’t mentioned that part, no matter how apropos the appellation might have been, once. She remembered reading all about his many many exploits with both women and men, after all.

So she’d spent a good twenty minutes explaining that she’d figured it out herself; mostly because one of her good friends had been fascinated by sports-medicine when they’d been younger and had talked her ear off about his accident… at length… until she’d been sick of even hearing about it.

“But I had no idea that Spike Martin and William Aurelius were the same person,” she’d finished, “I swear, William. If Cordy hadn’t been so into your… injuries… I would never have connected your leg with that.”

Whatever she’d been expecting him to say, it definitely hadn’t been what had come out of his mouth.

“What’s my favorite color?”

Buffy was fairly sure that she’d looked like a moron when she’d answered with “Huh? How would I know?” but William had finally laughed.

After that, there’d been an awkward moment, broken finally by William’s next question.

“So…” he’d questioned, looking down at his boots, “This Cordy you mentioned. Would that be Cordelia Chase?”

Again with the looking like a moron, a state which continued once she’d admitted that yes, it was… and William had announced that the young woman was a friend of his boyfriend’s.

His boyfriend Xander.

Xander Harris, at that, although Buffy had a sneaking suspicion that the small blush that had tinged William’s cheeks when he’d said it meant that he, at least, knew who her brother really was.

Still, Buffy was giggling softly to herself as she finished her shower and stepped out, wrapping one of Angel’s truly enormous towels around herself. The rest of her careful questions had cleared up any possibility that it was somehow a different guy with the same name, and now…

Oh, now her brother was in so much trouble.

How dare he be dating an Aurelius after all the times he’d argued her out of going anywhere one of them might be?

It was just too funny.

Now all she needed to do was get William to Sunnydale, but that shouldn’t be too hard. She’d just invite Angel to go home with her and bring William along. They were becoming friends, after all, so she didn’t think he’d fight the idea too much.

Especially not with ‘Xander Harris’ being out of town… and the possibility of ‘accidentally’ running into him there.

“This is going to be too much fun,” she giggled, slipping off to her own room to plot the particulars of her plan.

It would totally get Xander back for that ‘Virgin for Life—Ask Me How’ bumper sticker he’d stuck on her car during her Junior year at Sunnydale Prep.


Angel was already hidden away in his office downstairs by the time Buffy finished her plotting, but that was fine. She had an agenda, after all.

First order of business? Track down William and pump him for information about his relationship with Xander.

To that end, she quickly selected and called the number she’d saved to her phone the night before.

“Hey, William! It’s Buffy. Whatcha doing? Angel’s all working-boy. You feel like meeting up for breakfast…?” She glanced at her watch and laughed. “Or lunch, I guess?”

Ten minutes later found her tooling from the Aurelius Estate in the sporty Jaguar convertible Angel had loaned her for her visit, the address of the Ritz downtown already entered into the GPS system.


It hadn’t been until a good two years after Xander had left home that he’d finally understood his father’s liking of the Sunnydale diner. It had never seemed like the sort of place Rupert Giles would patronize when he could afford so much better.

Now, though, Xander figured the Diner was comforting for his Dad, kind of like Mamacita’s was for him. A place to just… be. No expectations, no need to be constantly on your guard.

Granted, the crowd at his favorite haunt in Dallas had no idea of who Xander was, aside from one of the regulars and a construction worker, while the people at the Diner had to know who his father was, but still… it must be nice for Rupert Giles to get away from his real life even a few hours a week and just be… Rupert.

And as his father had been meeting Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Xander supposed his Dad was trying to make a point.

“Hey,” he said, sliding onto the bench seat on the opposite side of the booth from the older man, “Fancy meeting you here.”

Rupert’s brows arched for a moment before a rather large smile spread over his face. “Xander! Thank bloody Christ!” He frowned then. “Or is this just a happy coincidence and I’m still going to have to meet with that Wesley git?”

Xander couldn’t help the full-on laugh that exploded from him.

“No… no, I got Oz… I mean Daniel… to tweak things for me. Um, you still have to meet with that um… Windy-Mice guy, but not today. I…” He sighed and bit his lip. “We need to talk, Dad. About me and… well, everything.”

Rupert Giles frowned more deeply and put one manicured hand over his son’s larger, work-roughened one. “Of course, Xander. You know you can tell me anything, after all. Or is this about your sister and Liam Aurelius? Because I’m entirely sure that you haven’t the full story regarding what Heinrich did… and more importantly, didn’t do. You’re reaching an age now where you really should know the full truth; especially if you are to someday take the reins of GSI from my hands.” A small pause; then a wry smile. “Although I suppose that may be in question. Still, you need to understand what truly happened.”

Wide brown eyes blinked, even as Xander shook his head. “I want to know about that, Dad, but first I…” He blushed. “Um, things have… changed. I’ve met someone. Someone I love. Um, he’s… God, why is this so hard?”

Rupert smiled shakily and shrugged. “I believe it to be a rite of passage, son. Or so it felt to me when I was near your age and informing my own father that I wouldn’t be following in his footsteps. He was rather… upset… that my cousin would be the one to inherit the grocer’s rather than me, but…”

He gave the young brunette a rather wry half-smile. “I was in love as well, you see, and Quentin Travers made me a very generous offer of employment that included the object of my affection, which my father never could. He didn’t have the… heart, I suppose, to accept that my proclivities were omni-sexual rather than hetero. But that’s another story entirely. You were going to tell me about your love. And how he’s changed things, correct?”

“And there’s yet another thing I really want to know about, Dad,” Xander replied. “I guess there’s a whole lot we’ve never shared, huh? But you’re right. I… damn, it’s so good to see you and I know this is a tough week, what with all the Board Members being here and their families too, and everyone needs some of your time, so I’ll just get on with it, okay?”

Xander looked down at the table between them, entirely unaware of the way his voice softened as he said “His name is William, Dad… and he’s so fucking perfect for me. I… it’s like I never really existed before I met him and…”

Rupert chuckled silently as his son went on waxing nearly poetically about the beautiful blond who had stolen his heart but given his own in return.

He only hoped that Xander and his William were spared the heartache he and Ethan had suffered before finally finding their own balance.

Then again, he realized, if things hadn’t gone as they had, he wouldn’t have his children—any of them. And that wasn’t something to even be thought of.

Xander, Buffy and Willow lived in his heart and always would, so perhaps… perhaps everything had gone as it was meant to.

Yes, Rupert decided. His life would have been much worse had he never suffered his split with Ethan when they’d both been just slightly younger than Xander.

There would have been no Joyce in his life. No Xander. No Buffy… and later, no Willow if he hadn’t married Sheila out of some misguided desire to give his two children a Mother.

It had been quite a ride thus far… and while he’d hated some of it, Rupert wouldn’t have traded where he was for anything. It had all gone as it had been meant to… and he wished the same for his only son.

“Barrington, you say?” he finally responded during a small lull in Xander’s monologue, “William Barrington?” Rupert didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the irony.

The man Xander loved was none other than Liam Aurelius’s step-brother… and as much a part of ATS as Liam was, himself. Or as much so as he could be, considering the rumors regarding the blond man’s mental state. Which perhaps explained why his son’s lover hadn’t told him who he was. Perhaps he didn’t know anymore, or simply didn’t think it mattered.

But then, considering what his son had told him, it seemed William wasn’t the only one keeping secrets.

“He sounds like a charming young man,” was what Rupert finally said, tilting his head at his usual waitress, Rosie, for a refill of hot coffee as what was in his cup had become rather tepid. “Perhaps you’ll bring him for a visit sometime, son.” ‘And perhaps you’ll not react as badly as I fear when you discover the truth of his identity…

Part Sixteen

“I’m sorry. What?” Angel nearly yelled into the phone, the fingers of his free hand clenched into a hard fist, “You know what?”

Charles Gunn laughed silently, taking great care to keep the amusement from his voice when he replied.

“Angel, man… I probably know more about Xander Harris than his mother does. Or did. You know, assuming she ever existed because… well, until five years ago, he didn’t, on paper. Or not exactly. And you’re not the first one to ask me to check him out, either. But you’re the first other than William who’s getting the whole truth from me.” Charles did let his laughter be heard then. “He called me with the same questions maybe two months ago; I told him everything I found out. And he’s not the only one.”

Angel found himself frowning deeply. “Wait. William wanted you to check out his own boyfriend.”

Charles snorted softly and was glad the broody man on the other end of the line couldn’t see him while he shook his head at the surprised tone. “Angel. I know you think Will’s kinda lacking in the brain department, but he’s not stupid. Some guy suddenly falls head over heels for him? He’s more than smart enough to wonder if it’s a set up.”

He paused for a few moments, enjoying the frustration he could almost feel flowing through the phone line.

“It’s not, by the way. Xander Harris—who, like I said, has no record of anything until relatively recently—isn’t after your brother’s money. He has more than enough of his own.”

Gunn smirked to himself before going on. “The guy may work construction, but he also owns nearly thirty percent of the public stock of the company he slaves away for. Durring Construction opened to the public maybe three years ago and he’s been in on it ever since. And by that, I mean… he’s been buying it up from the start, under a variety of aliases. And other companies, too, in all sorts of areas.”

Gunn’s smirk grew deeper. “From what I can tell, he started out with maybe sixty grand as seed money and now… well, the guy’s probably worth about a hundred times that. In five years, Angel. So whatever else he might be, this Xander guy is a fucking genius where money and investments are concerned. But he’s still working construction. Go figure.” He shrugged to himself.

“What are you saying?” Angel demanded, not sure he liked where this was going. “Is he… what? Making Spike love him so he has an in with ATS? Because if he’s as good as you say, he could be a threat and maybe he’s just trying to take us over. You ever think of that?”

Charles Gunn sighed and shook his head again, this time regretting that Angel couldn’t see him.

“Chill, man,” he ordered, the street-wise attitude he’d never lost even when he’d become the favored investigator for Liam Aurelius coming out. “This Harris guy isn’t even a little bit interested in your company. Hell, he told his broker to never buy any stock in any company even remotely connected to ATS.” Gunn’s voice became expressionless. “I think he has issues with your family, Angel. Hell, I know he does.”

“Then why is he seeing my brother?”

It was a good question, and fortunately Charles Gunn had a good answer.

“I don’t think he has any clue about who William is. I mean, Will uses Barrington everywhere but at work. It’s his name, considering your Dad and his Mom disappeared at sea before Heinrich got around to legally adopting Will, right? You let him use the Aurelius name as a courtesy… or whatever.”

Angel sighed and forced himself to relax.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Once again, Charles Gunn held his laughter in.

“Well,” he said, “I seriously doubt that Alexander Harris Summers-Giles would ever knowingly be involved with William Aurelius. Don’t you?”

And when he heard the lack of words or even breaths coming through the line, Gunn smiled wickedly.

“Oh, didn’t I mention that part?” he asked, “Xander Harris is really Alexander H. Summers-Giles of GSI. Not that it was easy to find that out.”

“I’m going to kill you,” Angel said bluntly. “I’ll rip out your innards and use them as garlands on my terrace.”

Gunn snorted. “No you won’t, Angel. You have way too much of a conscience to do that. Besides, I think your girlfriend—Xander Harris’s sister, by the way—would find that kinda gross. And messy. Can’t forget about the mess.”

And unfortunately, Angel realized, Charles had a point.

“Fine. But don’t tell anyone else what you know, Charles. It’s… well, it’s worth a lot right now, okay?”

Gunn shrugged to himself and leaned back in his chair as he responded smugly. “You know me, Angel. Highest bidder and all.”

Angel sighed again. “Fine. Consider yourself a full time employee of ATS, starting now. Twice your current annual income as salary. Chief of… Investigations or something. I’ll start a new division.”

A dark brow arched and Charles smirked. “Medical… and dental. For myself and my dependants.”

Another sigh. “Fine,” Angel said again. “And dental. Just don’t say a word to anyone, got it?”

Gunn smirked and agreed quickly. Kendra would be so happy and that was more than likely to end up with him being happy, so… yeah. And no need to tell Angel about the others who’d been asking after Xander Harris since that had been before their agreement had started and they hadn’t asked the right questions to find out the whole truth, so...

“Done,” he agreed, “but I want the paperwork for the insurance by this time next week.”

And as it could have been worse, Angel only growled slightly before ending the call.


“So you’re really serious about Xander?” Buffy asked slowly as she stabbed a beet with her fork and put it on the smaller bread plate beside her. “I… just, don’t take this the wrong way, William, but he hasn’t had the best… luck with love, okay?” Her eyes rolled just a bit and she snorted in an entirely ladylike fashion. “Hell, he’s had worse luck than anyone else I can think of. I mean… but then again, I shouldn’t be telling you, should I? It’s none of my business.”

William groaned at the smug tone, even while he tried to wrap his brain around the fact that the girl knew it was her brother he was involved with. He’d assumed—and he had no idea of why—that his bloke’s family didn’t know what he was up to, but as it turned out? They not only knew, but Xander was giving them regular updates on some sort of private family internet forum that his youngest sister Willow had created.

And William had never known. That was the part that rankled.

He’d been able to accept Xander’s silence about his true identity because he’d assumed the young man was somewhat on the outs with his father and the yearly trip was some sort of concession that allowed Xander to be left to his own devices the rest of the time. But that was clearly not the case and… he was starting to wonder whether he and Xander had anything like what he thought they did.

“I… he’s not really been terribly forthcoming about his romantic past,” William finally muttered, removing a mandarin orange segment from his salad and placing it carefully on his own bread plate. “We’ve discussed a certain…” he frowned for a moment, choosing his words carefully. “There was a certain fellow before me who was rather… unworthy of him. He hasn’t chosen to speak of any other… liaisons with me.”

Buffy found herself biting her lip just a bit, her head shaking slightly at the defeated tone of William’s voice. “He wouldn’t, though. Couldn’t!” she announced triumphantly.

“Okay,” she went on, responding to the confused look William’s blue eyes were giving her, “there was this whole thing. Xander and Daddy argued for months about some stock Xander liked. Daddy was sure it would just go belly up, you know? But Xan…” She laughed and removed another beet from her plate. “He was sure it was going to perform. He just ‘had a feeling’, he said.”

And while the girl’s words weren’t clearing up any of his internal questions regarding the state of his relationship, it was still rather interesting. It gave him some insight into his love, after all. “And…?”

“And Xander was right!” Buffy giggled, another beet joining the small pile. “Daddy didn’t believe him, but he secretly invested. Not much. Maybe ten thousand. I think he was planning on doing that whole ‘nyah-nyah, told you so’ thing—but in a much more British way—when his money went poof.” She laughed again. “And he didn’t listen when Xander got all ‘now is when I’d sell’ and Daddy did lose his money. He tried to tell Xander it was his fault, but really…? He was just trying to get Xan to go back to College, you know?”

Buffy sighed and pouted slightly at her salad. “You’d think a place like this would understand when someone says ‘no beets’, wouldn’t you?”

William smiled slightly, looking at his own small pile of orange segments. “Perhaps they mistook the word ‘no’ for ‘extra’? Although I must say that I can not understand your objection. At least beets aren’t sweet. Salad is not dessert.”

The two exchanged a surprised gaze then smiled at each other and exchanged again—bread plates, this time.

A few minutes late, William looked up, purple-tinged lips smiling a bit more. “You were saying, pet…?”

“I was? Oh! Right!” Buffy blushed. “Sorry. I love mandarin oranges. Okay. So Daddy and Xander were fighting about school and…” Her brow furrowed for a moment. “I can’t remember which one of them started it, but… Daddy was doing his whole ‘I came to this country with a dollar in my pocket and twenty years later, I’d built GileSystems into a million dollar enterprise’ thing. Somehow, it turned into a dare. Or maybe a challenge.” She shrugged and stopped speaking as their waiter appeared to remove their salad plates, replacing them with their entrees.

“Anyway,” she continued as the dark-haired man moved off, “They came up with a really stupid idea.”

William arched his brow, still amazed that her eyes weren’t locked on his scar. “I must admit that I rather doubt your father’s truthfulness, Buffy,” he said with a small smile. “My understanding is that Rupert Giles had close to eight thousand dollars when he first arrived in the United States… and that it was largely luck that he didn’t lose it all in the first month.”

He blushed and stared at his plate of shrimp and scallops when she turned wide eyes on him. “I… may have studied your family’s company when I was younger,” he admitted sheepishly.

She couldn’t help laughing at the look on William’s face. It was the same look Willow had always worn when their chef had caught her trying to sample things ahead of time. That ‘but I don’t know how my hand got into the cookie-jar’ expression.

“That’s fine,” Buffy said gently, not wanting to make the man any more uncomfortable. “Why wouldn’t you? I mean, we’re kind of… rivals, right? Our companies, I mean. Not ‘us’ meaning you and me. And you’re right. Daddy got lucky. He… God, I don’t believe I’m telling you this, but according to him, he was in a bar one night and overheard the guy next to him mumbling something about gates changing the world.” She grinned. “The guy was way drunk. Drunk enough to tell Daddy some things he probably shouldn’t have. And I guess he was convincing because Daddy decided to invest everything he had when Billy went public.”

William snorted and silently congratulated Rupert Giles for being incredibly astute. “Yes… but we’ve gotten rather off topic, haven’t we?”

Her eyes rolled again before Buffy could stop them. “Okay, okay… back to Xander!” She laughed when William blushed. “They made a deal. Dare. Challenge. Whatever.”

“Xander would take some time off from school and try to prove that he really did know what he was talking about. He’d have only what our Mom left him in his personal account to start with and if he hadn’t managed to match Daddy’s profits—adjusted by the temporal exchange rate, of course—within seven years, he’d come home and go back to College before Daddy would let him take over GSI so Daddy and Uncle Ethan could retire to that island they bought a while back.”

Buffy smiled again and cut a small piece of meat from her steak. “But Xander couldn’t tell anyone that he was a Summers-Giles. Daddy said that he never got special treatment, so Xander couldn’t take advantage of the name now that it actually means something in certain circles.”

And while William could understand that in theory, there was one thing bothering him more than anything else about the girl’s explanation.

“What, pray tell, is a… ‘temporal exchange rate’?”

The blonde girl laughed. “That’s Willow’s term for… God, how do I explain it?” She thought for a moment as she enjoyed another bite of steak.

“Okay, it’s like this. Ten years ago, you could buy a book for like… four bucks, tops. Paperback, obviously.”

William nodded and speared a shrimp. “Yes…?”

Buffy wrinkled her nose as he ate it.

“But today,” she went on, ignoring his obvious enjoyment of the shellfish, “that same book will cost you nine, still in paperback. That’s the temporal exchange rate. Daddy got someone to figure out what his starting-out money would be when he and Xander made their stupid bet. And what it would have equaled after seven years. The adjusted figure is what Xander has to make in order to win.”

Blue eyes closed, then opened a moment later, spearing Buffy’s gaze deeply. “How’s he doing, then?” William demanded.

Buffy couldn’t help the huge grin that spread her lips.

“Let’s just say that he’s ahead of schedule, and Daddy…” she giggled.


“Daddy is so proud! But he still wants Xan to go back to school. He was only a semester away from his degree when he quit. My brother is wicked smart.”

And suddenly William wanted Xander to go back to University as well. If only because nobody would be able to turn their nose up at his lover then… even if the bloke decided to go on being Xander Harris. It wasn’t as though William minded being a construction worker’s boyfriend.

Hell, he’d spend the rest of his life dining at Mamacita’s and sitting on the broken spring in the passenger seat of Xander’s truck with a smile on his face. His brother already thought he was insane—thanks in large part to William’s own efforts—so it wasn’t really an issue. He simply didn’t want Xander to feel slighted.

Assuming, of course, that Xander didn’t completely destroy William when he found out who he was, and that… well, that was entirely possible and utterly unthinkable at the same time.



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