Mireille (mireille719) wrote in our_fic,
Mireille
mireille719
our_fic

FIC: Holidays on the Hellmouth, 1/5 (Xander/Larry, FRT)

This is not a WIP; the story is complete, and will be posted in five chapters throughout the day.

Title: Holidays on the Hellmouth (or, How to Survive Your Boyfriend's Freshman Year) - Chapter 1: Labor Day
Author: Mireille (mireille719)
Fandom: Buffyverse
Pairing: Xander/Larry
Rating: FRT
Summary: When your boyfriend goes away to college, the passage of time gets measured in holidays.
Word Count: 5,600 this part / 20,700 overall
Spoilers: This universe went AU some time after "Earshot," but there are references to late S3 and early S4 happenings.
Disclaimer: Still not Joss. A few of the lines in one scene of chapter 3 came from the episode "Pangs"; I don't own them either.
Feedback/Concrit: Both welcome, either here or at mireille719 {at} gmail {dot} com
Notes: My girl, soft_princess, wanted more of Xander and Larry from The Full Xander Harris Experience as a birthday present. It's kind of late. *g* All she wanted was the last chapter, but I can't do anything the easy way. Thanks to lostgirlslair for the beta magic.

(Note: this is post-graduation. Larry is in it. In canon, the Scoobies survived graduation; in TFXHE, Larry became a Scooby, therefore, in this universe, Larry survived graduation. This is scientific and unassailable logic, so there.)



Holidays on the Hellmouth
Chapter 1: Labor Day

"What do you mean, you want me to meet your parents?" Just a couple of seconds ago, this had been a good evening. Not too hot, even though it was August; perfect weather to be out here in the woods, leaning back against the front bumper of Larry's car, with Larry's hands sliding under his shirt and Larry's mouth, warm and soft and getting really good at knowing how Xander liked to be kissed.

And then Larry had mumbled something with his mouth pressed against Xander's neck, and Xander could hear the squealing of metaphorical tires as his good evening crashed and burned.

"I mean, I want you to meet my parents," Larry repeated. "Or anyway, my parents want to meet you. My mom says she's tired of only knowing you as the guy who calls the house and asks for me."

Xander sighed. Maybe they could settle this here and now, and then they could get back to the reason they were out here in the first place, namely that it was completely free of parents--either his or Larry's--and little brothers who threatened to tell their mom if Larry broke the rules and took Xander up to his room. "I've met your parents," he said. "If they don't remember me, that's their problem."

Larry frowned. "When, exactly, did you meet them?"

"Your dad came to talk to us on Career Day in seventh grade." Twenty minutes on the fun of managing the Shop 'n' Save. Even if Xander had wanted to work in supermarket management before then, Larry's dad would have completely changed his mind.

"That doesn't count, knucklehead." Xander probably would have minded the insult a lot more if Larry hadn't kissed him again right afterward.

"Your mom!" Xander said. "She was in charge of costumes for the Christmas pageant in second grade. She stapled me into a big cardboard box so I'd look like a present under the tree. Plus, I went to your birthday party in kindergarten."

"Yeah. I tried that," Larry said. "Even showed her the pictures." He smirked. "I had to convince her that you don't still do your hair in tiny little braids with pink sparkly barrettes at the end."

Xander flushed. "That was totally Willow's fault," he said.

"I think I remember you asking her to do it." Larry grinned, taking a half step forward so that Xander's legs were on either side of one of his thighs; he leaned in to kiss Xander again, and for a second, Xander forgot about Willow and Larry's parents and pretty much everything except how very, very good this evening was turning out to be, after all. "So you're okay with this?" Larry asked, when they finally pulled apart.

Xander blinked for a few seconds. His first instincts were to say, "God, yes," and reach for Larry, but something clued him in, just in the nick of time, that that probably wasn't the "this" Larry meant.

Larry seemed to be totally unaware of Xander's confusion. "Because my parents are having this cookout on Monday, since it's the last chance they'll have for a big family thing before I leave for school, and my mom really wants you to be there."

"I don't know, Larry," he said. Parents, in Xander's experience, were something best avoided, even the reasonably cool ones. "I mean, a big Labor Day cookout at your parents' house? That's kind of...." Terrifying, really. A lot worse than your average giant demon snake at graduation.
And also serious. Larry's parents knew about them, so that meant that when Xander turned up, it wasn't just going to be as some friend of Larry's from school. He'd be there as Boyfriend of Their First-Born Child, and Xander wasn't sure he and Larry were serious enough for that. After all, Larry was going off to UCLA at the end of September, and Xander had been mentally preparing himself for the phone call he was going to get a couple of weeks later, about the guy Larry met in the dorm or in one of his classes, and how he didn't want to hurt Xander, but....

But Xander wasn't going to say that to Larry, because Larry had been insisting for two months now that nothing like that was going to happen, so he decided to focus on the terror. "Kind of major," he said. Larry's family all lived in Sunnydale--parents and two sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles and God-knew-how-many cousins--and he was pretty sure that anything Larry described as "a big family thing" was going to involve at least eight dozen assorted relatives, all of whom were going to be trying to decide whether Larry's boyfriend was good enough for him. "I'm thinking maybe I'd rather face certain death. And you saw how well that went last week, what with the screaming like a little girl and running away." Okay, eight-foot demons justified the screaming and running, but still. His point had been made.

Larry took a deep breath. "Look," he said. "I didn't want to say this."

"Then don't," Xander suggested. If he hadn't been trapped between Larry and the hood of the car, he would have pulled away right now. The best thing he could think of that might be happening right now was Larry giving him an ultimatum: come to this family thing, or break up. Xander really, really didn't want to break up with Larry, but he also didn't want Larry to think "Do what I want, or I'll break up with you," was a good argument.

Larry was doing the not-listening thing again, though, because he went on with, "My parents are giving me a lot of crap right now about dating you. Not you specifically, but because we're not going to break up when I go off to college. They think we're way too young for this." He rolled his eyes. "My mom gave me some big speech about all the guys I'm going to meet in Los Angeles, and how it won't be fair to either of us if I stay with you when I want to be seeing new people."

Larry's mom? Not stupid, apparently, except for the thing where she thought pointing out to Larry that he was going to dump Xander before midterms was a brilliant idea. "So?"

"So at least if they've met you, maybe they'll start to understand that I don't want to see new people." Larry grinned. "I mean, really. Where else am I going to find somebody who'd call me at eleven at night to come get them from freaking Oxnard?"

Xander grinned back at him. Okay, not his finest moment, calling his boyfriend after he'd been gone for less than half a day to explain that his car was dead, he couldn't afford the repairs, and the only place that was willing to hire him short-term was a strip club. A male strip club, which meant Xander might even be called upon to strip, and Larry didn't want hundreds of horny middle-aged women ogling his boyfriend, did he?

Larry had been laughing too hard to answer that, but at least he'd come to Xander's rescue, and he'd promised not to share the part about the strip club with anyone, ever.

Maybe this could work. A guy who'd sneak out of the house to pick you up in Oxnard was the kind of guy who might stick around even if the distance thing sucked.

And it'd probably help if Larry's parents weren't pro- them breaking up. Of course, there was a good chance that they'd hate him and would be even more in favor of Larry kicking him to the curb, but it was just barely possible that it would be okay. "Okay," Xander said, finally. "I have to be at work at seven, but I can come over for a while in the afternoon."

"Cool," Larry said.

"We'll see how cool it is after we find out whether or not your parents kill me and bury me in the backyard."

"You're not seriously worried about that, are you? I know this is Sunnydale, but I'm pretty sure my parents aren't serial killers."

"I admit I might be exaggerating slightly about the killing. Seriously worried, though, yeah."

Then Larry's hand was curving around the back of his neck, pulling him closer. "Guess I'll just have to distract you before you panic, then."

***


"How many relatives do you have, Larry?" Xander muttered under his breath as Larry led the way through the house. Larry's little brother Josh was on the couch watching TV with three other kids--probably cousins; they looked a lot like Larry--while an old man sat in a recliner looking through the newspaper. Xander had seen a lot of people in the backyard as he walked up to the house, too, so he knew they were just the tip of the iceberg.

"My dad was one of nine kids. I think I'm related to half of Sunnydale," Larry said, shrugging. He pushed aside a swinging door, the kind that made Xander think of the saloon in an old Western, and then grabbed Xander's hand, pulling him through into the kitchen.

Once Xander was inside, he could see Larry's reason for dragging him in here. Larry's mom was standing by the sink, peeling potatoes, while another woman about the same age was chopping onions at the counter. Two older women were sitting at the kitchen table, one shaping hamburger meat into patties and the other trying to braid the hair of a squirming girl who looked like she was about six or seven.

"Mom?" Larry said, not letting go of Xander, like he was scared Xander was going to take off at a run. He might have had a point. "Xander's here."

It was totally not too late to run, Xander thought. At least, not if he was willing to never, ever see Larry again, and for the split second before Larry's mom wiped her hands off on a dishtowel and turned around, Xander gave that some serious consideration.

But she was smiling when she said, "Hi, Xander. I'm glad you could make it," and she sounded sincere enough that Xander thought that he could stick around for a few minutes, anyway. Maybe long enough to eat, at least.

"Um," he started, and then trailed off until Larry nudged him in the side. "I mean, thanks for inviting me."

"We've been trying to get Larry to bring you around since before graduation," she said.

Larry looked down at the linoleum, mumbling, "Mom, don't start. Please," and it was Xander's turn to squeeze Larry's hand, because this was something he knew all about. He wished, for Larry's sake, that he wasn't here watching it, but at least it was something he was completely familiar with. And maybe if Larry's mom had started criticizing him already, they could get out of here early.

But to Xander's confusion, she grinned at Larry and said, "If you're going to spend that much time telling us how great he is, you can't expect us not to want to see for ourselves," and then reached out to straighten Larry's collar.

Larry squirmed and ducked his head and grumbled, "Quit it," but he was grinning, too, and Xander was almost too bewildered by the way they were acting to realize what Mrs. Blaisdell had just said.

Almost. Not quite. Because Larry talked about him. To his parents. And said good things.

Okay, maybe it was stupid to just be realizing this now, considering that Larry had picked him up after work last night and they'd sat in the car for a couple of hours, talking and making out and then talking some more, but the first thing that crossed Xander's mind was, I think he really does like me.

"Will you boys take those drinks outside, please?" Larry's mom asked, pointing to a big green Coleman cooler next to the back door. "And Larry? Not one word about Jeanna's hair. Your aunt Kate just calmed down about it, and I don't want her starting up again."

"What'd she do now?" Larry asked, then, to Xander, "My cousin's a senior at Caltech. Every quarter she does something new and bizarre to her hair. It's kind of impressive, in a weird way."

"Pink spikes," said Mrs. Blaisdell. "She did worse in junior high, but you know Kate."

"And I know that if I did that to my hair, you'd be just as bent out of shape as she is," Larry said, going over to the door and grabbing one handle of the cooler. "Come on, Xander, let's get this outside."

"That is not true," she said. "If you came home with your hair like that, I would acknowledge that you're an adult now, and if I can't trust you to make a decision about your own hair, I didn't do a very good job of raising you." Then, laughing at Larry's doubtful expression, she added, "And when you were asleep, I'd sneak into your room and shave your head."

"Okay, that I believe," Larry said, grinning.

Once they got outside, Xander realized that Larry didn't have a family; he had a horde. There were people messing with barbecue grills, people drinking beer and sitting in lawn chairs, people playing Frisbee. And there were kids everywhere, from the pink-haired Jeanna down to a handful of preschoolers rolling around in the grass with a dog and a sleeping baby in a floppy sunhat. "Don't panic," Larry muttered, once they had the cooler set down under a tree. "They're all freaks, but they're harmless. My uncle Mike is an asshole, but my grandma already told him that if he makes any more fag jokes he's out of the will, so he ought to be okay."

That was so not comforting, but Xander reminded himself that if he'd brought Larry to one of his family's infrequent get-togethers, it'd have been a lot worse. And anyway, he helped save the world in their spare time. He could face one asshole uncle. "I'm good," he said, and Larry smirked.

"Sure you are," Larry said. "Let's just get the worst over with now." He led the way over to the back steps, climbing to the top and waiting for Xander to follow him. Then, in a loud voice, he said, "Hey, everybody, shut up a minute." After a few seconds and one shriek of "NO!" from a kid lugging an Elmo doll, everyone pretty much stopped talking, looking up at Larry to see what he was doing. "This is Xander," Larry went on, and Xander managed a grin and a wave that probably qualified him as king of the dork-people. "He's my boyfriend. I'd kind of like to keep him, so could you all try to act like normal people?"

He was going to die of embarrassment. He was going to die, literally and permanently, from having six thousand of his boyfriend's relatives staring at him, all at once. And if he didn't die, he was going to crawl under the deck and refuse to come out until everyone was gone.

Or, as it turned out, he was going to feel somebody tugging on the leg of his jeans, and look down to find a tiny blond kid sticking out an unlaced sneaker for him to fix, because apparently one more-or-less-grown-up was as good as another. And by the time he finished that and firmly turned down the offer of a sticky, grass-covered Blow-Pop as payment, everybody had gone back to what they were doing, and he figured he might survive this after all.

***


Things had gone okay for a while; they'd played Frisbee and eaten hamburgers and generally just hung out, and while a lot of people seemed to be looking him over, still, and he was pretty sure he identified Larry's uncle Mike without an introduction from the way his lip curled in disgust whenever he looked at the two of them, Xander had decided this wasn't all that bad.

Then he and Larry had dragged the cooler back into the house to add more ice and cans of soda to it, and Larry's parents were both in the kitchen at once, and they'd motioned for Xander and Larry to come and sit down.

And for a few minutes, even that was okay; Larry's mom had asked him whether he'd had enough to eat, and Larry's dad had said something about how crappy the Dodgers were doing this year, and Xander was completely weirded out by how much Larry's parents both seemed to like him. "Him" being Larry, although they seemed to like him, meaning Xander, too, and this whole situation was just... strange. But nice.

And then Mr. Blaisdell had said, "So, where are you going to college? Larry didn't say," and Xander remembered one of the many reasons Larry's parents were really going to hate him.

"I, um," Xander said. "I'm not." I just barely made it out of high school, he didn't add, and remembered that last year, Larry had been in some honors classes. Not that smart people didn't like him. Willow was smart, smarter than anybody Xander knew except maybe Giles. Buffy was smart; she just didn't like to study even when she had time. But smart people, people who were going off to UCLA, people who were going to be lawyers, didn't date guys who worked the cash register at 7-11.

"I have a job," he volunteered, even if it wasn't going to help, because he didn't want Larry's parents to think he was a complete slacker. "It's, um. Not a great job, I'm a cashier, but it's something, and--"

Larry squeezed Xander's hand under the table, and Xander made himself take a couple of deep breaths and stop babbling. He looked at the Blaisdells, who were polite enough not to look horribly disappointed by him. In fact, Larry's dad even said, "That's good. Do you like it?" and Xander had been able to calm down enough to admit that the job was not great, but definitely okay. And everything would have been fine if Larry's dad hadn't then looked at him for a minute and said, "Harris. Hm. Are your parents from around here?"

Larry groaned. "Enough already, Dad, leave him alone. Get the FBI to do a background check if you're that curious."

Xander had just said, "Yes, sir, both of them," and really wished he didn't have to talk about his parents. Especially not to Larry's family, who were mostly nice and liked Larry and were okay with Larry bringing his boyfriend over during a family party, and who didn't need to know that Xander's family wasn't anything like that, at all.

"Your dad's Tony Harris, isn't he?" Larry's dad sounded like he'd just solved a puzzle, like Willow when she got into a computer system she didn't have the password for. When Xander nodded, Mr. Blaisdell said, "I went to high school with him."

Xander just nodded again, miserably, and how had it not occurred to him that Larry's parents might know his? And oh, shit, that was bad, because he was sure Larry's parents would talk about Larry, and about how he brought his stupid, 7-11 clerk boyfriend over for Labor Day, and hell, even Xander's parents would be able to recognize him from that description, even if they didn't name him. He knew his dad knew where he worked, although Xander hadn't told him; he'd bought gas there the other morning, and it wasn't like his dad didn't recognize Xander when he saw him.

But that was all Mr. Blaisdell said about it, like all he'd cared about was figuring out the puzzle. It was Larry's mom who decided that inviting disaster would be good. "We should have you all over to dinner one of these days, before Larry leaves for school," she said.

He was relieved that Larry blurted out, "No! Bad idea, Mom," because Xander's vocal cords were completely paralyzed with shock.

"I promise, I won't let your father talk about baseball," she said, smiling, but Xander still shook his head, silently pleading with Larry to get him out of this.

"It's not that," Larry said. "It's just--you guys have been great, you know? About everything. But Xander's parents... they're not going to be so great about things. And so until he's making enough money to move out of the house, Xander hasn't, um, you know. Told them about us. Or anything."

"I'm sorry, Xander," Mrs. Blaisdell said. "That just--it never occurred to me. I'm sorry."

Xander shrugged, forcing a smile. "It's okay. It's no big deal." And it wasn't, most days, because God, this was a relatively small secret compared to most of the stuff he kept from his parents, but right now, today, when he was sitting here looking at Larry's parents, who never even thought that Xander's dad would probably throw him out of the house if he found out Xander was dating a guy, it felt like a really huge deal, after all.

"When you do tell them," she said, "whenever that is, tell your parents they can give me a call, if they want to talk."

Yeah. Because that would happen. Either Xander telling his parents anything, or them wanting to talk about it. But she wasn't going to understand that, even if Xander tried to tell her, so he just nodded. "Okay," he mumbled, and then pushed his chair back. "Excuse me," he said, because the last thing he wanted, even now, was for Larry's parents to think he was rude. "I'll be right back."

Larry looked up at him, frowning. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Xander lied. "Yeah, I'm fine. Too many cans of coke," he explained, and left the kitchen as fast as he could without actually running.

In the bathroom, he splashed water on his face until he thought he looked pretty normal. He didn't want to go back downstairs, but he figured he was going to have to, eventually. It wasn't Larry's fault, or his parents', or anybody else's, that Xander's family sucked in comparison. It was just what was true. And it wasn't really a problem, either; Xander was used to it, and it wasn't like he didn't know things could have been a lot worse.

In the end, he went back downstairs, because there were maybe forty people in the backyard and it just didn't seem fair to stay in the bathroom, but he didn't go back into the kitchen. The kids were gone from the living room; the only people in there were a toddler curled up sleeping in the seat of the recliner, and an old woman, sitting on the couch, also apparently asleep. Xander sat down carefully at the other end of the couch, not wanting to bother her.

Either it didn't work, or she hadn't been asleep at all, because she lifted her head, then, adjusting her glasses and looking at him.

Xander had met both of Larry's grandmothers already today; they were kind of old, but not really. One of them had been wearing a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, and the other one had told him about going surfing in Hawaii a few months ago. This woman, though, hadn't been surfing in a billion years, if ever. She was tiny and wrinkled and was wearing a green dress with little flowers on it, and she kept looking at Xander and frowning. "Idiot doctors," she said. "That cataract surgery was a waste of time. Not four feet away from me, and I can't see you well enough to recognize who you are." She shook her head, smiling. "You're not Carol's boy, he's blond--"

"You don't know me," Xander interrupted. "I'm, um, Xander Harris. I'm just--I'm here with Larry."

The old woman laughed. "So you're the boyfriend!" she said, sounding a lot more cheerful than Xander would have figured a little old lady would have been, under the circumstances. "I was afraid I'd missed you, but at my age, I'm as bad as the little one over there. Naps stopped being optional ten years ago." She smiled at him. "I'm Larry's great-grandma, honey. You can call me Millie." Then, totally out of the blue, she said, "How old do you think I am?"

Well, he totally hadn't been prepared for that. "Sixty-five," he said, because there was no way that wasn't way too low.

She laughed again, patting the sofa cushion next to her. "You're either a very sweet boy or a terrible guesser," she said. "I'm ninety-three. Now, come over here so I don't wake the baby, and keep me company for a while." She grinned at him. "I'll make it worth your time. I know all the good stories about when Larry was a little boy."

Xander slid over on the couch, because hey, blackmail material was always good. He'd gotten all the mileage out of the stuff he remembered from kindergarten that he was probably going to. Besides, Millie wasn't interrogating him about his parents, or anything else; she'd just happily launched into a story about how Larry had decided, when he was about three, that he was going to go to work with his dad, and had managed to walk all the way to the Shop 'n' Save before anybody knew he was gone.

Millie was on her fourth story about Larry when she broke off, chuckling. "Speak of the devil," she said, and Xander looked up to see Larry standing there, watching Xander with this weird, goofy smile.

"Hey," Xander said. "I, uh, just needed a little time to, you know. Decompress."

"Okay," Larry said, and then again, as a question. "You're okay?"

"Totally. Millie's been telling me about you streaking at your Aunt Marie's wedding." He grinned at Larry, realizing he did feel a lot better now.

"Oh, jeez, Grandma, I was two." Larry bent down, kissing Millie on the cheek. "Don't terrorize my boyfriend, okay? I want to keep him."

"He's a very bad liar," Millie said. "He said I looked sixty-five. But I like him."

"Good," Larry said. "I like him too." He grinned down at Xander. "Dad wants me to help clean up the backyard," he said. "So if you're looking for me--"

"I'll come with you," Xander offered, getting up. "It was really nice meeting you, Millie," he said.

She patted him on the hand. "You come talk to me any time you want more stories about Larry. I have a thousand of them."

Xander had to laugh at Larry's horrified expression. "I just might," he said, just to see Larry's face. Then he let Larry lead the way to the backyard.

"She didn't talk too much, did she?" Larry asked. "Grandma Millie's great, but she lives at Valley Pines now--you know, that retirement complex on the other side of town?--and I think she gets lonely."

"No," Xander said. "She's great." His Grandma Harris had died when Xander was in first grade, but he'd liked her a lot. She'd worn flowered dresses and baked cookies and had watched Xander after school when his mom had to work, and Xander hadn't missed her in a long time before today. But he wasn't saying any of that, because it was stupid and hard to explain. "Your whole family's great, even if they think I'm a loser."

"What?" The kitchen was empty now, and Larry stopped, leaning against the refrigerator. "Who thinks you're a loser?"

Xander shrugged. "You know. Because I'm not going to college. Your dad was great about it, but I know he thinks--"

"One of these days," Larry said, sighing, "I'm going to remember that sometimes, you can be the world's biggest moron. That way I can start planning in advance, so I can stop you before you freak out about things that aren't even a problem. Xander, my dad doesn't give a damn about you going to college."

"Career Day," Xander said. "Your dad kept talking about how he had a degree in business management--" Pacing was a good option, he decided. He could pace back and forth in front of the refrigerator, and then he wouldn't feel like he was going to jump out of his skin from nerves, from waiting for Larry to figure out that Xander was right and break up with him.

Larry let his head fall back, thudding against the freezer door. "That's because my dad is a dork," he said. "He didn't start college until I was maybe five. He went to night school, because he couldn't get promoted past assistant manager without a degree. I think Career Day was, like, a week after he made manager." Larry grinned. "My dad is not going to complain about someone going to work right after high school. A week after he graduated from high school, he was stocking shelves at the supermarket."

"Your mom, then," Xander said. "Isn't she a teacher?"

"So what?" Larry said. " Xander, they like you. They get that not everybody goes to college. Definitely not everybody in my family does. I mean, Jeanna's like, super-rocket-scientist, but her sister didn't even finish high school. Not that her mom's thrilled, but you know, they still love her."

Xander just shook his head. "It is totally not natural how well your family gets along. I suspect Hellmouth influence."

Larry shrugged. "We don't always. Uncle Mike's, well, Uncle Mike, and Jeanna goes around trying to piss her mom off all the time, and..." He shrugged again, looking down at the floor. "And I hardly even talked to my parents for, like, two years, except for stuff like 'pass the mashed potatoes.'"

"How come?"

"Why do you think? I thought they were going to hate me when they found out I'm gay."

"They so do not hate you," Xander said, trying not to sound too envious.

"Yeah. My dad was kind of pissed when I told them that, because he thinks I should have known they wouldn't ever do that." Larry grinned sheepishly. "Especially since my mom's brother Eddie--he's not here, he lives in Michigan--is gay." The grin got bigger. "I sort of didn't notice that. The living-with-the-same-guy-since-before-I-was-born thing wasn't a big enough clue."

Xander laughed. "Okay, see, even I would have noticed that."

"Good thing I have you around, then."

"So I can point out to you when your uncles are gay?"

"That, too." Larry stepped away from the fridge, grabbing Xander's arm as he paced. Xander stopped, and Larry pulled him closer, his arms going around Xander as they kissed. Right there, in Larry's parents' kitchen. At least there was nobody watching.

Except, of course, Xander's luck couldn't possibly run that way, because when they stepped back, two of Larry's little cousins were watching them, their popsicles melting and dripping onto the floor. The bigger one, a boy who looked maybe eight, made a face at them when he realized they were looking at him, and then ran away outside.

The other kid was the girl who'd been having her hair braided when Xander came in. It was halfway out of the braid now, sticking out in every direction like the fluff on a dandelion. She stared right back at them and said, very solemnly, "Ew. Kissing."

***


"What did my mom want to talk to you about?" Larry said. They were standing out by Xander's car; he'd changed into his work clothes in Larry's bedroom, so he could wait until the last possible minute to leave. It was at least two or three minutes past the last possible one now, but he was still here.

Xander shrugged. "Nothing much." Larry had been helping his dad clean up the yard, but his mom had pulled Xander aside to talk to him.

"I like you, Xander," she'd said. "You seem like a nice boy, and you make my son happy." Xander had waited, because that was the kind of sentence that had a big, giant "but" attached to it. "But I worry--about both of you, really," she'd gone on. Yep, there it was. "You're very young, and with Larry going off to college--" She broke off, shaking her head. "I just don't want the two of you to rush into anything. You're young. You have plenty of time. It's far too early for you to be getting serious."

"I know," Xander had said, and that seemed to make her happy.

And he did know. Larry was going off to college. Xander was staying here. There were vampires and demons and who-knew-what-else out there, and Xander was still going to be helping Buffy fight them. All kinds of things could happen. Life was way too messy for them to get serious. Not now, maybe not ever.

But then he'd looked across the yard at Larry, who was arguing with his brother about who had helped more with cleaning up the backyard, and even though it wasn't exactly one of Larry's better moments, there was that thing that happened sometimes when he looked at Larry, where something lurched inside Xander's stomach and he felt like he'd been smacked in the head, and the only thing he could think was that he didn't want that feeling to end any time soon. Maybe not ever.

He hadn't said that to Larry's mom, though, because he knew it was the last thing she wanted to hear.

***




Chapter 2: Halloween
Tags: buffyverse, mireille, xander/larry
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