Peeeeeep Bunnies! Yum!
Best of all, mom decided to go for, of all things, duck eggs for breakfast. (I don't get it either), so French Toast with scrambled duck eggs.
Yes, they were yummy.
This part is my own weird salute to Jorge Luis Borges and Neil Gaimen in one go.
Dawn/Xander friendshippers will probably like this part. Dawn/Xander shippers will probably want to kill me.
Up to part 44 can be found here
Continued from here
Xander swiped at the condensation on the mirror, feeling better than he had since May when he realized that his life had been bisected by a world where Sunnydale was his world and a world where Sunnydale didn’t exist. He studied himself for a moment, trying to see if his right eye had any telltale signs of his recent storm.
Nope. All he saw was one guy who looked like he needed another week’s worth of sleep, but at least was freshly showered, shaved, and, most important, dressed. His first and last time—thankyousoverymuchly—of walking out of the bathroom with only a towel around his waist was most definitely never going to be repeated.
Sheesh. You’d think the Slayers would have something better to do than wait around for this particular bathroom to be free. Plus, he really didn’t ever again need to hear Rona giggling like it was Christmas. He knew he wasn’t exactly pretty but c’mon, he wasn’t hideous, or at least he didn’t think so.
He looked down at his clumsily wrapped right hand. He had no idea how he was going to operate bow or crossbow in the big to-do coming up. Although nothing was broken, the heated, swollen feeling of infected cuts and the painful bruising made it difficult for him to flex his knuckles. He didn’t even want to think about the pain that would result from drawing his compound bow.
Xander closed his eyes and gave his head a hard shake. He hid up here as long as he dared. He was going to have to go down there and face the rest of the house. How the hell was he going to explain what happened to his hand? As for Robin…
You can’t fix everything.
Meet the new mantra. Fix what you can; don’t try hammering a nail into a brick wall; and learn to figure out what can be fixed and what would be a waste of a good penny nail.
Good grief. He sounded like his mother’s framed Serenity Prayer, Carpenter’s Edition, memorializing the last time his parents tried and spectacularly failed basic AA.
Still, it was apt. He’d been so damn busy running around trying to fix everything—the house, the weapons arsenal, his friendship with Willow, keeping the baby Slayers from mutinying, trying to keep Robin from becoming Heil Fuhrer, and now dealing with Future People bearing disturbing news—that it’s a wonder he wasn’t living in a rubber room.
Not that he didn’t just come disturbingly close to winning himself one very long vacation in a secured facility. Frankly, he scared the hell out of himself. He doesn’t even want to think about what was going through Robin’s mind.
Screw it. He’s not going to apologize about any of it. Robin shouldn’t’ve mentioned the break-up with Faith. While he’s at it, neither Faith nor Robin had any business yanking him in the middle of it in the first place. It really was none of his damn business. Only reason why he’s bothering because he’d somehow made the situation with Faith one more thing he had to fix.
Really, fixing wasn’t the issue. Avoidance was the issue and since he was the king of avoidance, all he had to do was avoid Faith. Simple.
He reached up with his left hand and gave his damp hair a hard scrub. He’ll have to focus on dealing with one thing at a time from now on; otherwise he was going to spectacularly combust and leave bloody chunks of himself all over the house.
Ewwwww! I actually got a mental image of that, especially since stupid crap like that could actually happen, Xander winced. I gotta get away from Hellmouths. Find myself a nice, normal bedroom community and become Alexander Harris, Stud Handyman to bored, rich, trophy wives looking for fun while the sugar daddy is on business trips.
Okay, as plans go, not one of the best he’d had. Vaguely horrifying, but strangely comforting because it confirmed he still had a libido raring to go. Bonus, it was about as likely to happen as meeting Amy Yip at the water park and getting a blowjob from her underneath one of the slides.
And really, he needed to stop psyching himself up with stupid mental jokes just so he could face the world. Christ. If he can’t take himself seriously, than no one else ever would. Then where would he be? Alexander Harris, Stud Handyman, balls optional, that’s where.
To be brutally honest, he’d been balls-optional for a leeeetle too long. He kept trying to be ‘the good guy’ and all that did was make him the bad guy. That had to stop.
One step at a time, he reminded himself for the millionth time. Deal with Catherine’s issues. Get her and her and her crew gone. Leave Cleveland and never come back. Instant make-you-own-future, sans specter of fatherhood, just add one bus ticket to anywhere but here.
Coward, his mind voted. That’s right. Run away like you always do. At least you’re admitting it’s really the fatherhood bit that’s got you seriously freaked.
Yeah, but his fatherhood meeting up with Faith’s motherhood? Icing on the cake.
Xander took a deep breath to psyche himself up and stepped out of the bathroom. He stood uncertainly in the hall for a few seconds.
On second thought, he’ll go downstairs when he’d damn good and ready to face all the disappointed looks on everyone’s face because he got hysterical on Robin’s ass like a scared little wuss.
He went into his room for more mental pep talking and jumped with a shout when he saw someone hunched over the remains of the mirror.
Correction. Former remains of the mirror. The mess was cleaned up and a new mirror was leaning against the wall.
“About time,” Dawn remarked as she stood with dustpan and brush in her hand. “Thank god the floors are hardwood. Because I soooooo don’t want to even think about dragging our ancient, two-ton vacuum cleaner up here.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Xander managed to squeeze out. “I would’ve…”
“…fixed it?” Dawn gave him a skeptical glance as she dumped the pan’s contents into a wastepaper basket. “Sit.”
Xander plopped onto the bed. Something in Dawn’s voice really didn’t leave him a lot of room to argue.
Dawn grabbed a plastic Tupperware container with her name on it—one of those things Andrew insisted they buy so everyone could be clear on who had what stuff, and although Andrew’s suggestions were usually of the insane variety this one happened to be a good one—and joined Xander on the bed.
“Let me see,” she ordered.
No mistaking the edge of warning in her voice. He held out his right hand.
“Geez, you’re about as good at wrapping up your hand as you are at wrapping Christmas presents,” Dawn complained as she removed the bandages.
“What are you doing?”
“Fixing it,” Dawn said simply. “Don’t be upset because no one woke you up. You’ve been running around nonstop and everyone decided you needed the sleep, not that Andrew was about to let anyone in the room. He mentioned to me that you’d cut up your hand so…” she let her explanation trail off into a shrug.
“Oh god,” Xander slumped. He was afraid to ask, but he had to. “Did anyone overhear…”
“…you telling Robin to take a very long walk off a very short pier? Amazingly enough no, but everyone knows both of you got into it something fierce in the backyard,” Dawn answered. She let out a low whistle when she saw the mess that was his knuckles. “You really should stop hitting solid objects when you’re mad.”
“Sorry,” Xander mumbled.
“Don’t apologize to me,” Dawn cheerfully said as she unscrewed the hydrogen peroxide. With no warning at all, she spilled it on his knuckles, getting some on the bedspread in the process.”
“Owww! Hey!” Xander yelped.
“Does it hurt?”
“Yes, yes yes!”
“Good,” Dawn nodded as she grabbed his box of tissues and began soothing away the excess. “You’re quite the hero. Popular opinion is that you finally snapped over Robin-I-Am-the-Boss-Wood so you’ve got a mess of Slayers declaring their undying love for you.”
Xander was surprised about that. The usual prevailing opinion was that when he lost his temper he was either talking out his ass or exhibiting classic alpha male jealousy, so the fact that anyone was cheering him on was more than a little new.
As Dawn ripped the package open for a sterilized gauze square, she asked, “What really happened?”
“Why do you ask that?”
Dawn let out an irritated sigh as she unscrewed a tube of bacterial ointment. “Xander? You’ve been acting weirder than usual since you found out about Catherine.”
“Can you blame me?”
Dawn looked up from smearing the medicine on the gauze and raised her eyebrows in an unasked question.
“Sorry. Pain in my hand is distracting,” he weakly said to get her to stop looking at him.
Dawn pursed her lips, a sure sign she wasn’t nearly done with him. “So who’s the mother?”
“Wh-wh-what?” Xander sputtered out at the unexpected question.
“It’s Faith, isn’t it?” Dawn asked as casually as she would if she were asking about the weather.
“Why the hell would you say that?” Xander’s mind furiously searched for a good way to shoot this thought right out of Dawn’s head.
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. Catherine and her merry band practically worship the two of you, the two of you are in Moscow eight years from now—well, maybe—Faith and Robin conveniently break up—not that it wasn’t coming—and you turn around and rip Robin apart in the backyard. Plus, it’s been bugging me that there was something familiar about Catherine since she got here. She’s got your smile, but she’s definitely got Faith’s eyes.”
“Lot a leaps in logic kiddo,” Xander lightly responded as he watched Dawn put the medicated gauze over his injured knuckles, surprised that the cool ointment actually felt somewhat soothing.
“I’m a regular Harriet the Spy, that’s me,” Dawn said grimly. “Remember our little talk back in Sunnydale about seeing things? Well, let’s just say I learned at the feet of the master. You’re lucky everyone’s so caught up in their own drama because if anyone else was paying attention, they would’ve picked up on it.”
No point in lying. “Faith knows.”
Dawn glanced at him between tending to his injured knuckles. “That I didn’t figure out, but then again, I don’t really care what Faith thinks one way or the other. You I care about, so I’ll pay attention to what’s going on with you. Not that you’ve been a fountain of sharing since…” Dawn shook her head and looked away to snag a bandage to wrap his hand. “Sorry, I don’t mean to get on you, but we need you and that means you need to start taking care of yourself because you’ll be no good to anybody if you collapse like you did yesterday.”
“Sorry,” Xander apologized again.
“Again, not me you have to apologize to,” Dawn huffed as she started wrapping.
“Don’t tell anyone,” Xander begged. “Look, it’s not going to happen. Forewarned is forearmed, right?”
Dawn began neatly taping him up. “I won’t,” she promised.
Silence smothered the pair as Dawn finished. She put aside the silver scissors and studied her handiwork a few moments more before announcing, “I’ll be downstairs. Come on down when you’re ready. And don’t worry, no one hates you, although I’m pretty sure Robin isn’t about to propose.”
As she stood up, Xander wanted to snatch her back to him into a hug, if only to prevent her from leaving. As he watched her put everything back into her personalized Tupperware, he wanted to say, Don’t go. Don’t leave me to this.
No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn’t say it, partly because he just didn’t know how to ask someone to save him and partly because he wasn’t entirely sure what he was asking Dawn to save him from.
So he sat on the edge of the bed, feeling stupid and awkward, unable to shake the thought that once Dawn walked out his bedroom some part of her would leave him for good.
Her things gathered together, she spared a moment to study him and he found his breath catching.
There was something there, something ancient, something knowing, something watching. He saw it and he chilled at the thought that he wasn’t looking at soon-to-be-17-year-old Dawnie, but at the Key who’d seen humanity emerge from the muck and would be there when the last human shut off the lights and left the universe. Some part of him wondered if the Key would die with Dawn or if it would return to its green glow-y state changed by its brush with humanity.
In that split second he knew: Dawn had stopped seeing him as just Xander and he’d never quite be able to look at Dawn the same way again. A gulf had opened between them, bridged only by those final dark days in Sunnydale when they believed they were the only two normal ones in a house full of superheroes or potential superheroes all with the great destinies ahead of them. He could feel his heart breaking at the very idea that this connection had severed while he wasn’t looking. Worse, he couldn’t figure out how it happened or even why.
“Xander…” Dawn began. She cleared her throat as if what she was going to say would hurt. “Look, if anyone can break all the rules when it comes to future pasts, you’re the one who’ll do it. So, yeah, I’ve got no doubt that if you’ve got your mind set on it, Faith and you will never happen.”
“There’s a ‘but’ in there.”
Dawn grimaced. “It’s just that if you run away from Faith, from us, even from Cleveland; if you start burning bridges because of what some book says or because it’s exactly what you’re not supposed to do, than you’ve already lost because you’re still letting what you know about the future dictate everything you do and that means it still wins.”
“Thanks for the Catch-22, Dawnie,” Xander mumbled.
“Hey, you wanna give fate a black eye, be my guest,” Dawn said gently. “But do it because your heart tells you it’s really the right thing to do. Don’t do it just because you think you should.”
“Because following my heart is a strategy that’s been a spectacular success.”
Dawn clamped his jaw in an iron grip and he found himself forced to stare into Dawn’s-old-but-not-old eyes. “You listen to me, Alexander Harris. You can doubt anything you want. Books. Prophecy. Fate. People. The evening news. But don’t you ever, ever doubt your heart because if you do that, you won’t be Xander any more.”
“Promise me,” Dawn hissed through narrow eyes.
“Pwommiss,” Xander capitulated through smushed lips. Dawn let go and he rubbed his jaw. “For the record? Ow. Has Buffy been giving you squeeze-y lessons?”
Dawn’s face settled into a soft sadness, mouth twitching slightly at his weak attempt at humor. She suddenly leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.
Xander blinked at her as she straightened back up.
“You know I love you, right? You know I just want you to be happy, whether its here in Cleveland with Faith or half-way around the world with someone you haven’t met yet, right?” Dawn asked. “No matter what happens, no matter what the future brings, no matter what you decide to do, promise you won’t ever forget that.”
“I won’t,” he whispered, sounding lost even to himself.
Dawn nodded with closed eyes, her face fighting against showing any expression that would betray the thoughts in her head. Without another word she turned and left, abandoning Xander to sit alone on his bed, the ghost of her lips burning into his forehead like a goodbye.
Now, Bunny Peeeeeeps!