Been There

Summary: Xander visits the hospital, and meets someone who has similar problems. . . Follow-up to "Woman of Steel, Man of Kleenex."

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters portrayed here, they remain the property of their respective owners/creators.

Rating: PG-13, for themes.

Time Frame: Early fifth season, alternate time line. Xander has been involved with Buffy since not long after "The Harsh Light of Day", and never dated Anya.

Archiving: Be my guest, but e-mail me (eilandesq@aol.com) to let me know. . .I like to know where stuff I write ends up and I might want to see what else you've got.


BEEN THERE


Xander settled into a chair, waiting to be called for his date with an x-ray machine. * One of these days, I'm going to start glowing in the dark or turn into a mutant from all of the times I've been x-rayed * He moved gingerly, then winced as a burst of pain from his lower back caused him to grit his teeth and hiss softly. As he always did at times like this, he focused on the one thing that made it all worth while: the smiling face of Buffy Summers, sitting across from him at the kitchen table of the apartment he had just moved into.

It had never been as bad as it was during the first weeks of their relationship: Buffy had become aware that her. . .um. . .ardor could be damaging to Xander, and she tried her level best to avoid damaging him during their lovemaking. Unfortunately, there are certain times when one's best intentions are lost in the heat of the moment, and Xander could remember quite clearly the consequences of every one of those slips. He was able to hide most of them from Buffy, and always downplayed the ones she could not help but notice as minor nuisances.

He had decided that the best way to keep Buffy in the dark about his painful difficulties was to use another hospital when possible, and he had picked one in a nearby town, next to a technical college. They knew him quite well by now, and he explained his injuries as being the result of his dabbling in the martial arts. . .so far, they were at least claiming to buy the cover story, though Xander suspected that it wouldn't be long before he had to choose a new hospital in order to get a clean start with a group of doctors that hadn't had to treat him fifteen times in just over a year.

Xander heard steps, and a young man about Xander's age stiffly moved over and sat a few feet away from him. He looked vaguely familiar. . .Xander wondered if he had attended Sunnydale High. He looked over and asked, "Excuse me. . .do I know you?"

The man looked over at Xander and frowned, then shook his head and replied, "I don't think so." He shrugged, wincing at the motion.

Xander frowned, then commented, "You look like you're in a lot of pain. . .what happened?"

The man started to shrug again, then visibly checked himself and responded, "Car accident. . .banged me up quite a bit. I'm going to have some X-rays taken."

Xander nodded and elaborated, "Me too. . .was boxing and someone got a good shot in on my ribs. . .need to have it checked out."

The man looked over at Xander, sizing him up, then nodded and absent-mindedly began taking his coat off, revealing a black T-shirt. Xander was starting to turn away when he spotted the man's right arm and blinked in surprise. The man saw Xander's reaction and started to pull the jacket back on when Xander reached out and stopped him. He pointed at the bruise and asked quietly, "Since when does a car accident leave a bruise that looks like a hand print?"

The man jerked away from Xander, wincing from the motion, then snapped, "Mind your own damned business. . .what do you know about it, anyway?"

Xander looked at the man for a moment, and somehow, he just knew. He rolled up his own sleeve, revealing a similar bruise, then asked quietly, "Her name wouldn't happen to be Faith, would it?"

The man stared at him in shock, then shook his head and replied, "No, her name isn't Faith." He volunteered no other information, and Xander inwardly sighed in relief that the younger Slayer wasn't on the loose again. The man looked at Xander, then asked, "How long?"

Xander smiled wistfully and responded, "A little over a year now. . .the best time of my life. I'd walk straight into Hell for her, no questions asked. . .a few accidental bumps and bruises here and there are nothing, as far as I'm concerned, and I make sure she doesn't worry about them." He looked at the other man, who seemed rather taken aback by Xander's quiet confession, then asked, "How about you. . .how long?"

The man blinked and replied, "About two weeks now. . .she's great, but she just doesn't know her own strength." He sighed and commented, "I guess I'm going to have to make a few adjustments."


Xander chuckled inwardly. * Yeah, just like I had to * He took a deep breath, then commented, "That bruise is a giveaway. . .if you haven't told them how you got hurt yet, tell them you got mugged and beaten up. It's more consistent with the injuries you probably have, anyway. If it happens again, telling them that you took up boxing or wrestling and are training hard might put them off the scent. . .if you push it too far, the cops will start asking questions, and you'll be in a fix." He shook his head and concluded, "It's a hassle, but if she means to you anything near to what my girlfriend means to me, you'll do it."

The man blinked again, and Xander saw doubt in his eyes before he nodded and replied, "Thanks for the advice."

"No problem." Xander leaned back in his seat and waited, noticing the other man was still visibly uncomfortable and shooting looks his way every so often.

A nurse walked over to Xander and called out, "Mr. Harris, we're ready for you. . .follow me, please."

Xander stood up carefully, then turned to the other man and quietly commented, "It was nice to meet you. . .hope everything works out for you. By the way, I'm Xander."

The man hesitated as Xander extended his hand, then grasped it firmly as he replied, "Thanks. . .I'm Warren." He nodded, then winced and sat back down.

Xander nodded and turned away, shaking his head at how small the world could be at times, and followed the nurse down the path he had come to know so well in the last year.


AUTHOR'S CLOSING NOTE: I am definitely not writing a follow-up to this one, but with the developments in "I Was Made To Love You", it was just too much to resist. I will leave it to your collective imaginations to decide whether this alternate Warren managed to make the necessary adjustments, or whether April sent him to his much deserved fate by wringing his slimy neck. . .]:-)






As always, comments are welcomed and desired