A/N: Thanks so much to my beta, Dora -- she was a HUGE help!
Xander learns something from his mother that freaks him out, and he leaves Sunnydale for LA, running to his ex-girlfriend/now-friend Cordelia Chase with his problem. When he tells her what's wrong, Cordelia convinces a reluctant Xander to tell Wesley about it. Xander and Wesley are sitting in Wes's office in the hotel.
Xander fidgeted with his hands, staring down at his lap. Wesley waited patiently for Xander to begin. Finally, Xander looked at him balefully and said, "Cordelia says you've changed. Since Sunnydale." Xander obviously didn't believe it.
Wesley nodded. "Yes," he replied. He understood that Xander wouldn't open up to him if the boy thought he was the same prick he had been in Sunnydale. "I'm not as... uptight as I was in Sunnydale." He sighed, leaning forward to rest his forearms on his desk. He noticed Xander watching him intently. "When I came to Sunnydale, I was young, and I was very arrogant. After all, I was to be in charge of not one, but two Slayers. It is every Watcher's dream to be the Watcher in charge of a Slayer. I won't get into the particulars, but suffice it to say, I had no hope of mentoring a Slayer, for many years, if ever. There were... other motivations as well, to make me act as I did, toward Buffy and Faith, as well as you and the other 'Slayerettes'. I'm not trying to condone my actions, by any means, but merely trying to explain why I acted as I did. Since then, I have been fired from the Watchers' Council, and have learned that there is more to being a strong person than merely being in charge and being right about everything."
Xander's eyebrows rose at that. "Wow. You sound like a real grown-up." Wesley gave him a bare smile at that, and Xander said softly, "You sound like Giles. And believe me, that's a big compliment. Especially coming from me."
Wesley nodded. "Thank you, then. Now. Do you feel comfortable enough to tell me what's going on?"
Xander sighed heavily, wiping his hand down his face wearily. He began to speak slowly, softly. "There's this... weird thing in my mother's family, where they have a tendency to only produce females. And lots of females. I have a large number of aunts and great-aunts on my mother's side. My mother hated all the traditions her family had, so she started rebelling against them. One of her rebellions was marrying my dad -- her family is very liberal, and they didn't condone official marriages. They believed in the whole, what's-it-called -- common law marriages, where you live together as a couple for seven years, and then by common law, you're married." Wesley nodded, having heard of the law before. "Well, my mother and father got married in a church, to spite her family. Another one of her rebellions was me." He took a deep breath, exhaling explosively before continuing. "When I was born, I wasn't... technically a boy." He stared at his hands at this point, unable to even look in Wesley's direction. "I was born with this disorder thing. I had the... genitalia of a male and female. Pseudo-hermaphrodite, the doctor-guys call it. Well, the doctor consulted my parents over it, and he explained that my level of testosterone was higher than the level of estrogen, so I would grow up looking more masculine than feminine. This, coupled with my mom's wanting to rebel against her feminist family, made them decide to have me surgically changed into a boy."
Wesley waited for Xander to continue, but after a long moment, he began to realize that Xander had paused for too long, and couldn't make himself start again. "That actually isn't that unusual an occurrence, Xander. And the majority of children born like that do become male -- whether because they are more likely to become masculine, or merely because the parents would rather have a boy... or because they feel a boy will have more opportunities in life than a girl."
Xander nodded, then shook his head in disbelief. He finally looked up and gave Wesley a self-conscious half-smile. "Thanks. I didn't actually have a problem with it until... well, here." He reached into the bookbag he'd set down beside his chair and pulled out an old book that looked more like Giles than Xander. "My mother gave this to me, a while ago. She told me it's been handed down through the generations of her family for ages. She'd never read it, since it had been given to her after she was married anyway -- she seemed to think it was a 'how to catch men' book. She only gave it to me because it was tradition, and she's past the rebellion stage now. Plus, I think she's wanting grandchildren, and it was a sort of, 'give this to your kids when you have them.'" He shook his head again. He seemed about to say more, but simply shook his head again and handed the book over to Wesley.
Intrigued, Wesley opened the book and began to skim the first page. What he read, however, made him stop quickly. He looked up to stare at Xander in horrified fascination.
Xander nodded resignedly. "Yeah. There's a reason her family only produced girls. I'm a freakin' demon!"
Wesley shook his head. He wanted to allay the young man's fears, but... he was afraid he couldn't; at least not entirely. He had so many questions for Xander, and he had no idea where to start. He eventually decided to start with the most obvious. "Xander. Why didn't you go to Mr. Giles with this? I'm sure he would have helped you deal with this."
Xander gave a short bark of laughter that sounded rather cynical for him. "Yeah, I'm sure he would have. Amid all the 'dear lords' and 'I'm so sorry, Xander's." He looked down briefly. "The truth is, I couldn't tell any of my friends in Sunnydale because they are my friends. They know me too well. They may have good intentions, but... they don't always handle things the way they should be handled. I mean, you know Buffy -- she's too emotional. They'll try to comfort me, and deal with my emotions during this. And the way I deal with my emotions is to deal with the problem. Learn the facts, figure out exactly what's happening to me."
Wesley nodded. "Emotional repression. A very masculine reaction to any disturbing occurrence."
Xander smiled wryly and retorted, "Using big words. A very British reaction to any disturbing occurrence."
Wesley bowed his head in admittance. "Touché. So, you came to Cordelia, because... ? She is a woman, Xander, and prone to sympathy. I thought you, of all people, would realize that."
"Oh, I do, believe me. But I also know her mind works like mine. She's tough. She doesn't talk about her feelings -- I know she has them in great abundance, but -- she takes action. She kicks butt and then she cries about it. And how much macho bullshit can I come up with?"
Wesley shook his head as a smile tugged at his lips. No matter what sort of trial Xander was going through, he was still Xander. "Alright, Xander. Let me read over this, and then perhaps we'll do some research on it. I'm assuming you'll help research it, since it is your condition?"
Xander nodded. "I'm not actually as opposed to researching as it might seem. I'm just... not very good with the reading." He looked down, then shrugged. "Hell, you know all this about me, I might as well tell you this, too. I'm somewhat dyslexic. Not too bad, but enough that looking at all those old books with weird spellings for words confuses me."
Wesley nodded. "Well, then when we research, you can look on the internet -- at least if they misspell something, you'll recognize it more easily."
Xander nodded, standing up after picking up his bookbag. He was about to turn and head for the door, when he paused, looking down at his shoes. He looked at Wesley with an earnest expression on his face and said plainly, "Thank you. For this. For helping me." It was clear from his gaze that he was being as sincere as possible, and when he held out his hand, Wesley didn't hesitate in shaking it. "You're quite welcome, Xander. Fighting demons is quite exhilarating, but, I must say... I've missed using my Watcher skills to help someone." He waited for Xander to make some wisecrack about that, and it seemed like he was thinking about it, but he eventually just nodded and gave Wesley's hand one last shake before releasing it, then exited the room.
Wesley watched him leave. This ordeal was obviously making Xander think about a great many things, and it was forcing the young man to mature more than he already had.
Next chapter: Find out exactly what demon Xander turns into... and how this is going to affect his life!
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