Title: Old Friends
Warnings: All Human AU, slash, mentions and memories of abuse, violence, illness, and sexual situations.
Pairings: Spike/Xander, Buffy/Angel, Willow/Tara, Angel/Spike/Dru
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.
Prologue: The Early Days
The London Press—pg.8
Hospitalized three months prior at the private hospital of Hancourd Medical, Margaret Elise Mathers, first born daughter to Reginald and Christine Giles of the highly esteemed family Giles, died of leukemia at exactly 5:23 AM on April 22, 1988.
May she find eternal peace and happiness in the loving arms of our Lord and Father.
June 27, 1988—two months later.
Enjoying poetry and books in the place of football and pranks, and preferring time spent with an ailing mother over wrestling in the mud with the other boys, 11yr old William Augustus Mathers was considered rather odd by his peers.
This didn't much matter to him though. Frankly, he considered those very same peers to be particularly dirty little heathens. He, with his books and good manners, was simply far too mature for their stupid schoolyard games. He didn't need them at all, really. His life was much better spent alone.
William turned the page of his book with a small sniffle. Yes. Alone. That was the ticket, he thought, pushing his glasses up with a finger and forcing back the tears that were threatening to form. He was much better off alone.
Sitting in one of the window seats of his father's small estate situated just outside London, William was trying to read one of the latest novels from his favorite author. It was from a series, centered on the knight's of old and their grand heroic adventures. Fighting dragons, saving beautiful princesses, winning duels of honor, and everyone always, always, got a happy ending.
He loved those kinds of stories. When he had been younger he would even play that he was a knight, wearing shiny armor and swinging his mighty sword, running off to the rescue of anyone in need. Uncle Rupert would usually play the fire-breathing dragon, or sometimes the evil wizard. He was really good at that, making the absolute best growls and snarls. And Mum . . . . Here had to swallow, having stupidly forgotten for a moment, and steeled himself to complete the memory—Mum would always be the beautiful princess he would go through death-defying trials to save. Sometimes she'd even give him fresh biscuits for a job well done . . .
Looking down at his book miserably, William sighed, one tear managing to fall slowly down his cheek. Guess he wouldn't be getting any more of those biscuits.
Suddenly not interested in reading, William wiped his eyes with his sleeve and hopped down from his seat. First traveling to his room to put the book away, he then decided that he could use a bite to eat, and began to make his way toward the kitchen.
"I can not believe that you would—
"He is my son and as such it is my responsibility to shield him from any of the negative influences he may so encounter."
Hearing the sound of angry voices, William paused before passing by the next doorway, peeking inside to see Father and Uncle Rupert facing off in the center of the sitting room. Scolding himself heavily for his rudeness, he, nevertheless, stayed to watch.
Uncle Rupert narrowed his eyes at his father, looking angrier than William had ever seen. "And I'm one of these so-called negative influences?"
Father sneered, "Do not think that the tales of younger years could have escaped my hearing."
"Then you would also know that those times are far behind me."
"It doesn't matter," Father waved him off, "Either way you are simply far too dangerous to be allowed around my child. I don't want you coming here again."
From where he stood just outside the door, William drew back in horrified denial, not even realizing as he spoke, "No . . ."
Uncle Rupert looked increasingly frustrated. "For God's sake, David, the boy has just lost his mother. I'm his uncle. You can't just—
"I think you will find that I can," Father said, his contempt openly shown, "And, really, Rupert. You have a good job across the city. Surely, you could do something better with your time."
"And what will you do?" Uncle Rupert asked, ignoring the jab, "Who will take care of William over the school holidays when you've locked yourself in your bloody office again?"
"A nanny, of course."
"David. The boy's eleven."
"Fine," Father said, obviously beginning to tire of the subject, "Then he can simply take care of himself."
"What? No. You can't—
"Rupert," Father interrupted, "The decision has already been made. I suggest that you leave quietly before I decide to involve the authorities."
A pause, staring at each other, the two men waged a silent battle of wills. But the battle could really only have one winner.
"Fine," defeated, Uncle Rupert dropped his indignant fighting stance with a tired sigh, shaking his head in regret. "I'll leave. Just . . . just give me some time to say good-bye to the boy, will you?"
A nod and Uncle Rupert turned to the door, seemingly intent on saying his good-byes immediately.
William blinked stupidly for a moment, luckily coming quickly back to his senses, and he turned to run hastily back the way he came. He tried to be quiet as he did so, of course, because he really couldn't deal with the usual reprimand right then. Finally turning the final corner, he slipped through the door to his bedroom and took up his previously discarded book, sitting back in his bed to stare blankly at the words in an imitation of reading.
And, as he waited, trying mightily to act as though he had always been there, he thought.
The conversation between his father and his uncle replaying in his head, William tried to ignore the possibility that any of it could be true. That conversation could not have actually happened. Those words could not have been spoken. Uncle Rupert wasn't leaving. He couldn't be. William honestly didn't think he could handle the loss of the one remaining person in this world that cared for him. And Father knew that.
Yes, he assured himself. Father knew that. Father wouldn't knowingly do anything to hurt him. William must have just imagined the entire conversation. How silly of him.
Less than a half hour passed and William still sat on his bed, the book at his side and left with only a phone-number, the promise of help, and the concrete knowledge that Father really was a cruel bastard.