Author's Note: Eternal gratitute to Stone Cold, and thanks to Joel and John, who both helped me through an ugly spat of writer's block.
Xander relaxed in his favorite chair, chatting lightly with Giles. Glancing absently at the clock, he frowned. Hunter was late getting home again, for the third night in a row. That meant that he would have to lay down the curfew law soon. Night was dangerous enough in Sunnydale, but staying out late was just asking for trouble.
Just as these thoughts ran through his mind, he heard three heavy knocks on the door. With a relieved grin, he went to answer it, as Giles shoved the books he'd been paging through into a locking box. Niether wanted Hunter to see any of these books, as he would ask questions that no one wanted to answer. Giles picked up the box, and carryed it up to Xander's room, to return it to its hiding place.
Stiffling a yawn, Xander walked over to the door, wondering if Hunter had lost his keys again. Honestly, some times he thought that that kid would lose his head if it weren't so firmly attached to his neck. But it was always impossible for Xander to stay mad at Hunter, he always relented when he saw his son's eyes, so like Buffy's.
Thinking of Buffy was a mistake. Even after nine years, he still got a lump in his throat when he thought about her....
....Xander held Buffy close in the circle of his arms. The closer they drew to the due date, the worse her nightmares became. Xander had stopped sleeping on the couch entirely, and spent his nights trying to protect Buffy and her unborn child from whatever demons stalked her sleeping mind. Buffy moaned softly in fear, and Xander murmered soft words and stroked her hair. She quieted, and relaxed into a deeper, untroubled sleep. But Xander remained awake, a silent sentinel, holding the darkness at bay....
....Buffy screamed in agony, her hand gripping Xander's weakly. The doctors were worried, the baby should have come by now. Buffy was weakening rapidly, and Xander knew all too well that only the fact that she was the Slayer was she still alive. She had lost so much blood...Some part of Xander's mind pointed out the irony of it not being Angelus who finally killed her, but the child that was the result of their tragic union. Finally, the doctor called, "One more push! We've almost got it!" Xander almost yelled that she couldn't, but his wife amazed him yet again. With an increadible effort, she pushed, and the room was filled with the cries of a baby who was quite irritated at being brought into the world. Buffy struggled to push herself up, but Xander caught her, and gently lifted her up. Her face was drawn with pain and exhaustion, and her hair was so soaked with sweat that it looked like she had just come from the shower. But the look of triumph on her face was indescribable, and when the nurse placed the blanket-wrapped form of her son in her eager arms, the joy on her face drove away the pain and sorrow of the last months.
....Sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, Xander cautiosly asked Buffy what she would name her son. Her voice was soft when she spoke, so as not to wake the infant who lay in her arms.
"His name is Hunter LaVell Summers-Harris."
Xander looked up in surprise. Not at the first name, which Buffy had dreampt of months ago, but at the middle name, which was the same as his own, and had been the middle name of every male Harris for over seven generations. He opened his mouth to speak, but Buffy stopped him.
"Angel is his biological father, but Angel is gone now, and nothing is going to bring him back. And Angel did not hold me over the toilet when I had morning sickness, or try to put together a crib, or never budge from my side for 36 hours of labor, even though you hate the sight of blood." She took a deep breath, and, taking his hand, guided it to place on top of the baby's head.
"Hunter is *our* child, Xander. Besides, who else can I trust to teach him the Snoopy dance?"
Blinking back tears, Xander gave a soft laugh. Carefully, so as not to wake the baby, he reached out and held his wife and son in the circle of his arms.
Forcing his thoughts to his son, Xander smiled. The lecture about curfew could wait for tomarrow. Tonight, all he wanted was to give his son a hug, and hear about his day. Xander was always proud of Hunter. He was a good student, was the star of the track team, and apart from the usual teenage shinnanigans, was a good son.
With those thoughts, he pulled open the door with a welcoming smile. Which dissapered, only to be replaced by a look of complete hatred and rage when he saw Angel standing on his front stoop, and then changed to one of horror when he saw that Angel was carrying the unconcious Hunter, whose face was sporting several bruises, and his hair was matted with blood, his shirt torn, and was bleeding from several cuts on his face and chest.
Angel watched the play of emotions across Xander's face, and the look of fear and worry when he saw Hunter. When Xander spoke, his face was thick with hatred and fear.
"Oh my God, what have you done?"
Despite his own anger, Angel couldn't help but become defensive at the accusation in his tone and words.
"I haven't done anything!"
The moment he said those words, Angel knew they were a mistake.
"Yeah, and neither did OJ."
Disgust was clear in Xander's every gesture. Angel decided to ignore that little comment, and tried to explain to Xander why he was here, and why Hunter was unconcious.
"Two of Spike's vampires were attacking him, a-"
Xander cut him off with a snide remark.
"You decided to take a little drive-thru?"
Angel had been trying to control his anger, but Xander wasn't helping, and he was getting very irritated, and also very concious of the fact that he was still standing on the front stoop like some stray.
"Look, I rescued him from them. Aren't you going to let me in?"
Xander actually looked surprised.
"After all you've done, do you seriously think I'm going to invite a living body count inside my home?! Let me have my son!"
Angel gave him a grim smile.
"I would," he said, in an almost conversational tone, "but he's not your son, is he? He's my son, who you told I killed!"
The discussion was brought to an abrupt halt when Giles, who had been listening to the whole conversation, shoved himself between them. With a flinty glare for both of them, he began issuing orders.
"Angel, come in and put Hunter down on the couch. Xander, get the bandages and some ice."
Both men glared at each other, but old habits die hard, and each moved slowly to perform their assigned tasks.