harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote in spanderverse,
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Spanderverse: Burial, Chapter 1 of 2

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Spoiler Alert: Tidbits from BTVS prior to season 5. This directly follows Spanderverse: Dracula so you should read that first.

Notes: Fourth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Dracula”. Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

More Notes: BIG thanks to Joss, the ME creative team and the crew of one of the best shows on television.

Thank you to twiztv and Buffyguide for script and character name assistance.

Finally, thanks to the authors of Fanfiction wherever you may post. It’s probable that I’ve read at least one of your stories somewhere. I apologize for recycling concepts inadvertently from the plentitude of stories I’ve read. I also include Xander's family. Where possible from online transcripts I’ve used the proper names: I couldn’t find Xander’s parents first names so they became Walter and Peggy.

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Spanderverse: Burial

CH 1 – Day

 

Xander stood in the streaming sunlight in a suit that was ill-fitting and much too warm for the spring-like weather. His brow was beaded with perspiration and small drops of sweat were running down his back and sides under the dress jacket he wore. It wasn’t helping anything that he was dressed entirely in black.

 

 

Behind him, there stood an empty aluminum chair growing hot in the Californian sun. The chair waited patiently for him to sit down as the others who were gathered around him were. He wasn’t able to sit however as he had a nervous need to be standing. Xander peaked from the corners of his eyes at the seated figures to his right and left. On the right of him sat Anya, as well as members of his father’s extended family. To his left, his mother slumped and next to her were her relatives. She had been crying ceaselessly since the non-denominational minister began his… what, sermon? He wasn’t sure what you called it when a minister was saying last words over someone’s grave.

 

Anyway, every so often his mother let out a pained wail that his rich aunt, Margo, quickly shushed. Xander had been surprised when his rich relatives from Utah had bothered showing up to his father’s funeral. They’d always shunned the Harris household. Sure, Margo would call his mother on her birthday and invite her for a weekend in Salt Lake City sometime, but it was always with the unstated understanding that she was inviting Peggy… not the husband. His relatives had never liked Walter Harris and the antagonism was mutual. Xander himself didn’t really hold any strong feelings about the Harris/Concorde feud. Mostly there had just been embarrassment of his own modest upbringing when compared to the designer clothing and trust funds of his cousins. As he had always been the first to admit, there were good reasons for the Concorde side of the family to keep their distance from the Harris clan.

 

So, he hadn’t really developed any strong feelings toward his Aunt Margo or Uncle-by-marriage Roger. His cousin Reginald (never Reggie or Reg!) seemed okay, if a little too preppy. His other cousin, and younger than him was Regina and she was the typical snobby bitch. As soon as she’d arrived in her parent’s Cadillac, she’d had her nose stuck in the air. He honestly didn’t know why they’d bothered coming anyway. It was likely because it was the socially expected thing to do rather than any real desire to support their ‘white trash’ kin. Not that Xander thought of himself or his parents as trash, but Walter was and always had been very blue collar and next to the proper etiquette, silver-spooned, and spoiled pinky in the air while drinking from delicate tea services relatives from Utah, he supposed Walt could appear pretty low-brow.

 

He glanced back at the crowd of people seated behind the family. There were perhaps twenty in all, mostly from his father’s steel mill. In addition toward the back, Xander saw fellow construction crew and their families. He’d just seen them four days ago at the funeral service for Blayne Thomas, killed that brutal night when Xander himself had almost needed a coffin. He didn’t see any of Blayne’s family, but didn’t harbor any bitterness toward them. They’d suffered a horrible blow too, worse than his, in fact. In the second row behind the bereaved family sat his true family. Willow sat with misery and sympathy on her face, trying not to cry again, as she met his eyes. He gave her a small smile. Tara nodded her head in sympathy for him and then reached into Will’s lap to take her hand.

 

They were all there, of course. Buffy with Riley, Joyce with Dawn, Willow and Tara, Giles doing the stiff upper lip thing, though Xander was sure he saw real tears in the Brit’s eyes. That struck him as odd. Actually, this whole thing was so surreal that he felt he might as well have been standing on Venus over the grave of a ham sandwich or something equally ridiculous. He knew he shouldn’t be thinking these sorts of weird thoughts. He should be weeping with his mother, he supposed. After all, his father was dead. But like at the hospital, Xander seemed to feel nothing much about it. It was sort of embarrassing. All of his friends, who hadn’t really liked Mr. Harris, grieving away and feeling horrible for him and all. And here he was; stone cold to it all.

 

The minister was finally wrapping up whatever it was he’d been saying. Xander hadn’t been paying much attention. His eyes drifted from the casket waiting to be lowered into its resting place to the dais set up at its head. His uncle Rory, Walter’s brother, was making his way to the podium. 

 

His uncle began sharing his memories of his brother, or at least the ones that didn’t involve drunken arguments, mutual puking, and head-smashing hangovers. He tuned out again. Most of this was all shit, he’d decided. The apparent agenda for today was to ignore that Walter Harris was a bitter and drunken jerk with a mean temper and an ugly tongue and to turn him into some sorta swell guy. Xander decided he’d pass. When the minister had asked him if he wanted to take a few minutes during the service to say a few words about his father, he had declined. His mother had explained that Xander’s grief was too raw for him to express in front of everyone and he believed she might even think that. His real purpose in not saying anything though was that he wasn’t sure what he could say. Most of his memories of his father weren’t exactly warm and fuzzy. It was sad, but true. Not that he had hated his father, but he couldn’t stand up there and tell the lies his father’s brother was telling right now. His father hadn’t been funny, or a hard worker (hard drinker: yes) and he hadn’t been deeply in love with his wife and son; at least not as far as Xander could’ve told.

 

As Uncle Rory continued with his fairy tale, his daughter Carol stood up and crouched over like she was in a movie theatre trying not to block other movie-goer’s view of the screen. She came up to Xander and whispered to him, “Sweetie, why don’t you sit down for a bit. You look like you’re ready to collapse.”

 

Xander gave her a brief glance and a quick shake of his head. As he stood a little straighter, Carol sighed heavily and returned to her chair in that same silly ‘excuse me for blocking your view’ crouch. He tried not to be irritated with his cousin Carol, she only meant well. But that was how it always had been with her, any suggestion she’d made that wasn’t immediately acted upon ended with a huge put upon sigh. Even more annoying was that her son, Mikey, was developing the same annoying habit and he was only twelve. Xander feared what living 24-7 with his neurotic aunt was doing to the boy. Especially since Carol and Bruce divorced. With Bruce having moved to Australia right after the split, the boy was getting all of his behavior from Carol. If he didn’t end up either a serial killer or in therapy for life, it would be a miracle.

 

Uncle Rory had finally finished his ‘Tales of a Perfect Brother’, and Xander’s mother was half stumbling to the podium now.  

 

At least she isn’t stumbling ‘cause she’s crocked this time, he thought cynically. He was sure that the half-stumble was strictly for the theatrics, however, and not because of the “overwhelming grief” she was allegedly feeling.  As Peggy began hitching her breath and sharing her glowing memories of her husband, Xander tried to push away the resentment he’d been feeling toward his mother for the past several days.

 

It wasn’t that his mother wasn’t upset that her husband had been murdered, practically in front of her eyes. He understood that. But it had been eleven days since his father’s death and the whole time Peggy had done nothing to be useful or to help her son deal with what had happened. It had fallen to Xander to speak with the police coroner to find out when his father’s body would be released for burial. It had been Xander who’d had to go through his father’s papers to discover that at least he had had some life insurance. It was a basic policy through his employer, but it was something. He, of course, had been the one that had to call the insurance company. He’d been the one to go to the hospital for the death certificate, he’d arranged the funeral service, chose the coffin, called all the family. Peggy had done nothing but lay in her hotel room all day long with a bottle.

 

That was another thing that really pissed him off now that he was remembering the last nearly two weeks. Peggy had left taking care of the house entirely to him. Cleaning the bit of blood left behind from his father’s body off of the front porch, pulling down the crime tape and paying the bills that had come due in the meantime. It had all been left to Xander to figure out.

 

He turned away from his mother’s praising of his father as a wonderful husband to seek out Giles’ eyes.

 

Thank God that Giles was here to help me, he thought. He gave Giles a nod of his head and then once again turned back to the grave. Anya had appeared at his side now from her seat behind him. He felt her hand slip into his and he grasped it gratefully. Looking down at her lovely features, he saw tears had recently been shed from her red-rimmed eyes. He leaned down and kissed her forehead. She had been wonderful, stepping in to organize things as Giles helped him make sense of the legal documents he’d had to go through. She’d also taken to checking in on his mother and sitting with her while she drank and wailed. Xander had been too busy taking care of the things that Peggy should have been doing to put up with her drunken sobbing.

 

He knew he was being unfairly tough on his mother. He recognized his own anger over what had happened and even understood that he was misdirecting it. That didn’t stop the thoughts from coming though. So many buried resentments were bubbling to the surface. He felt resentment toward her for not standing up to protect him more when his father’s insults had cut deeply. He resented that she’d never praised his small accomplishments, but was always quick to chastise him when he mis-stepped, especially when he’d still been in school. He’d probably be a complete basket case, growing up in that household, if it hadn’t been for Jesse and Willow who had always been there to listen and commiserate and prop him up against his own self doubts. Both of their parent’s homes had offered escape when life at Chateau Harris became too much.

 

He wished Jesse was here now. He wished a lot of things, of course. One of the biggest being that Hellmouths didn’t exist. He wondered if a vengeance demon could grant that wish.

 

That thought brought him back to Anya and he again gave her hand an appreciative squeeze.

 

Finally his mother was finished and the casket began its slow descent into the earth. His mother came to stand beside him briefly, before she picked up a handful of fresh soil. Stepping forward, she released the soil onto the lowering coffin and said a whispered good-bye to her husband. Others from Xander’s family followed suit and then his co-workers approached to do the same. Finally Joyce stepped up to him and gave him a warm hug.

 

“Xander, Dawn and I are going to get back to the house and get the food out before everyone arrives. I’ll see you there in a bit, okay?”

 

“Yeah. Thanks, Joyce. You’ve always been there for me… for all of us, whenever we need you.”

 

She gave Xander a sad smile and then moved off. Dawn wrapped him in a huge bear hug. She hugged Anya as well. As she opened her mouth to say something to him, she burst into tears and ran to put an arm around Joyce. Joyce pulled Dawn to her side and the two of them hurried toward the elder woman’s Jeep.

 

The others walked up to him now. Buffy and Riley were first. Riley surprised Xander by eschewing their usual handshake to embrace him. A few manly slaps on the back followed and then came Buffy’s warm kiss on the side of his face. The two of them also headed out toward the cemetery’s exit.

 

Giles embraced both Xander and Anya, one under each of his fatherly arms. He placed a quick kiss to the top of Anya’s head and then told Xander he would be waiting at Joyce’s for them to arrive.

 

His mother, Peggy, had refused to return to the home where her husband had been murdered. There had been a short argument about what was going to happen with the house and where they were going to have a wake if not there, but Peggy was adamant. She’d insisted that she would never set foot in that house again.

 

It had already been decided that she was going to be moving in with her sister in Utah when they returned, at least for the short term. Xander didn’t have any idea how this would all turn out, but for now he’d stay at the Harris home until it was decided whether to sell it or not.

 

Peggy wanted it sold and forgotten. Anya had already volunteered that if it sold, he would have enough money for him and herself to get an apartment closer to Giles’ where all of the Scooby meetings took place these days. He was on the fence about what to do. He wasn’t sure he was ready to leave the only home he’d known for his whole life, no matter how many bad memories may be there right now. That could wait though. The pressing matter had been Peggy’s refusal to hold the wake in the Harris home, but Joyce stepped in and offered the Summers’ house to her.

 

She had jumped at the chance. Xander had gratefully agreed, heading off a crisis that he hadn’t been able to see how to resolve. So that was where everyone was headed now except for himself, Anya, Willow and Tara who were still standing at Walter’s graveside.

 

“How you holding up,” Willow had asked.

 

“I’m okay. I’m kind of wishing everyone would stop asking me that question, but you know… I’m okay.”

 

Willow gave him a sad smile then quickly hugged him tightly. He closed his eyes and breathed in the scent of her strawberry shampoo. For a few moments it could have been the good old days before everything had turned out so complicated and dark.

 

Tara cleared her throat, “Why don’t Anya and I head over to Buffy’s. You two could use some time together.”

 

“What,” Anya asked, clearly confused, “Why would I leave Xander here by himself?”

 

“I just thought that Willow and Xander could use a few moments alone. To talk, take stock…,” Tara trailed off.

 

Willow released Xander and turned to her girlfriend. “Thank you, Sweetie. Tell the others we’ll be there real soon.”

 

Tara nodded her head and gave Xander a quick hug. As she grabbed Anya’s wrist to lead her away, Anya exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! During times of sadness, old friends often feel the need to reminisce about things which others would find extremely boring!” A quick look at Xander and Anya added, “I mean, not boring! Um, I meant…?”

 

“Private,” Tara provided.

 

“Yes,” Anya was quick to agree. “You two take some private time. Just, you know, don’t reminisce about that time that you two were kissing and making Cordelia and Xander break up. ‘Cause, you know, that wasn’t good.”

 

Tara rolled her eyes and again tugged on Anya’s wrist, “Come on.”

 

As the two strolled away, Anya could be heard clearly. “What? Old kissing-type friends in sorrowful situations often fall back on old lusty feelings for comfort. You wouldn’t believe the amount of vengeance work I used to get right after funerals. There was this one time…,” her voice faded into the distance.

 

“So. I’m not asking how you’re really doing with all this, but if you wanted to volunteer the information out of the blue….”

 

He gave his best friend a warm smile. “Oh, Will. You’ve always been so sneaky with the subtle way of drawing my feelings out of me. I really am fine. Maybe I’m a bit too fine. I feel guilty that I’m not more of a headcase, like mom. I’ve spent most of the service thinking about everyone we’ve lost since we started fighting the good fight instead of about him.”

 

“Yeah, I thought a lot about Jesse, too.”

 

“I miss him, Wills. I haven’t even visited his grave in, god, two years or so. Some friend, huh?”

 

“You and me, both. But, you know, life has a habit of going on whether you mean for it to or not. Maybe we could swing by his marker tomorrow?”

 

“Sounds good. I guess we should get going, though, get this over with.” Xander stepped over to his father’s now completely lowered coffin. Standing thirty feet away were four men with shovels waiting to fill in the now occupied hole. He grabbed a handful of soil from the same mound that the others had and sprinkled the dirt over his father’s casket.

 

“Good bye, Dad. I hope you find a lot more peace wherever you are than you had here.”

 

Taking Willow’s hand, Xander turned his back on his father’s final resting place. He led her from the graveyard toward Buffy’s.

 

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End CH 1

 

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