Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

Christmas In Nairobi
By Josey
For Calendae

Christmas in Nairobi; hot as hell and twice as smelly, especially in this bar at the edge of nowhere. But Xander's tried the hotels full of spoiled tourists and sleek suited businessmen doing their bit to add to this continent's misery. He can't stomach it, so now when the mood takes him, he drinks in Kibera.

White skin makes him a target, his hands-off demeanour earns respect, so it all evens out in the end. He gets to lounge in this cracked plastic chair next to a cracked plastic table, aware of not belonging but not giving a damn any more. The past two years have taught him a lot, like always carry a gun, don't outstay your tourist visa unless you know who to bribe, and lastly, take every opportunity that comes knocking 'cause you never know when it's gonna be your last. He should have learned that one year's ago but somehow the lesson had never stuck, 'til Africa.

Angry voices rise from the lean-to across the street, followed by a door crashing open and a couple spilling out. The woman, skinny in that unhealthy way Xander's all too familiar with, stands with her hands on her hips, haranguing the guy she's tossed out on his ass.

Taking a swig from his bottle of Tusker, Xander resists the urge to yawn and rubs his nose instead. Same old, same old. Just people doing people things. Washing dirty laundry in a public place is, after all, a globally accepted pastime.

A plastic cup lands on the table next to his elbow, not uncommon, but the hand holding it is. Paler than Xander's own and deeply freckled, in contrast to the all over weather-beaten look Xander's sporting this season. He's not seen white face in this bar since he started drinking here six months ago and so looks up with more eagerness than's really right.

"Hey."

Red hair, pierced lip and brow, green eyes containing more reticence and less dance than Xander remembers. Muscled arms racked with leather charms, a shirt that abandoned black several months ago.

Stealing a quick glance at the moon before answering, Xander manages an equally laid back, "Hey."

The other chair scrapes through the dust and then there's silence.

Xander swigs. Oz sips. Apart from five years and the current corrugated tin theme, it could be any Friday night at the Bronze. Immediate wordless companionship.

Five minutes stretch to ten. A rusted up truck bounces past loaded with a bunch of guys who spill out as a pack in front of the bar. Xander gives them the hairy eyeball. They're probably commuters, Kibera style, back from a day working the tourists in the park. But they could be vamps set on having a good time. He's learned not to take anything at face value.

As they disperse, shouting and laughing, he relaxes, feeling the same from the man across the table.

Ten minutes stretch to half an hour. Half to full, like the moon, and Xander feels his cool melting in the heat of unanswered questions. Any second now he's gonna start babbling and then Oz will do the thing with his eyebrow that manages to convey complete superiority without making Xander feel like something scraped off his shoe.

"Wolf thing still working out for you?" he says. And there it goes, the quirk of lip and brow, Oz's version of a belly laugh.

A nod's all he gets and now he's broken it, Xander feels the silence like that sword hanging over his head. He's opened Pandora's box and god knows what's at the bottom.

"Interesting look," Oz says, surprising Xander into groping for his eye patch and an answer.

"Evil priest," he says by way of explanation, determined to hold the rest in. He's got good at that, holding it all in 'til it feels like he may pop. When he does, it's gonna be so messy with emotions he'll be mopping up for weeks, so it's better to hang on to it. Bury it deep, like Anya.

Funny actually, Oz appearing like this, 'cos Xander's thought about him a lot since Sunnydale. Modelled his current laconic persona on his wolfie buddy. The trouble is, faced with the real McCoy, his feels exactly like what it is. A fašade, with all the crumbling and cracking that goes along with a bad plaster job. Oz has depths. Xander just has crazy paving.

He's considered it few times, stuck in a land cruiser with no climate control at yet another checkpoint manned by kids with Kalashnikovs. Thought how good it would be, to break out his own gun and go out hero style in a rain of bullets.

Or just finding a track and keeping driving. Run when the car's out of gas, walk when he is. Crawl into the desert and dig his way back to her.

He won't, of course.

"Willow?"

And that's why. Despite the thousands of miles between them, he's still a scooby. For better or worse, one set of vows he can keep.

"Brazil," he answers. "And good, last time I called. Happy."

"Still with Tara?"

Fuck! How's he supposed to answer that? Too much has happened since Oz took the wise way and the highway out of the mess that was Sunnydale a la millennium year.

He guesses his expression says it all, 'cos Oz's face clouds for a second, then he says, "Drink?" like that's the answer to any of Xander's problems. Still a few beers'll help, so Xander accepts and sits back to wait for his fifth bottle of the evening to appear.

The TV blaring inside the bar strikes up a jaunty tune that it takes him a few seconds to place; Let It Snow, complete with kid's chorus. Beyond wrong for a city where the only snow's on adverts for Kilimanjaro. Plus it's the proverbial straw, dragging him back to Christmas past with all the enthusiasm of Marley's ghost.

Snow in Sunnydale's not the kinda thing you'd forget in a hurry. Sent to save Angel, so Buffy said, but privately Xander thought someone was telling the vampire to get the fuck out of town, something that couldn't have happened fast enough in Xander's book. Then for a few blissful months they were vampire free, at least of the 'can't dust them' sort. Before blondie arrived on the scene and it all went to hell again.

But he was getting ahead of himself. It was that Christmas, the one where he woke up to the chilly touch of snowflakes on his face, torn between wonder and freezing his balls off, that he was remembering. The one when Oz pulled up out of nowhere and offered him the use of the mattress in the back of his van.

Looking from family infested house to the guy whose girlfriend he'd been caught cheating with only a couple of weeks before, Xander made the only logical choice. He bundled up his sleeping bag and clambered in the front seat.

"We heading back to your place?" he asked rubbing his fingers in front of the hot air outlet. They tingled and not in a good way. Ah, chilblains, the stigmata of the homeless and unloved.

Oz glanced over. "Nah, was heading up to Breaker's wood. It's kind of a tradition when the 'rents have got friends over."

Xander watched him for a moment; clever hands manipulating the stick shift, eyes flicking from road to mirror and back before they pulled away. Oz never spoke about his folks but he seemed to get on with them okay. Strange he should choose to spend this night alone. But then Oz had always been a bit mysterious. Monthly wolfiness aside, he had that whole laconic bassist thing going on, a 'guaranteed chick magnet' as Devon put it.

That night Oz was more laconic than usual, so the drive passed in silence with Xander attempting to think of things to say that didn't include Willow, or school, or vampires. Or any of the other thousand things that would remind Oz he had a girlfriend stealing ex-friend in his van. Xander'd just got to the point of regretting he'd ever said yes, when the van swung off the road, making him grab for the sissy strap or end up landing in Oz's lap. Not that that would be a bad thing, 'cos lap of Oz was probably a good place to land on compared to, say, the floor.

And sometime he really needed to ask Oz just how he'd gotten so good at driving in snow.

They slid to a halt in the centre of a clearing. Oz climbed into the back and started digging around in the piles of stuff, yanking out a couple of tarpaulins and something that looked suspiciously like a dead sheep. Last out was a small package and Xander knew exactly what that was. He'd seen the guys at school pass them round in the locker rooms. It's pot, ganga, weed. Marijuana to the uncool. Not that Xander was uncool. He was, in fact, so cool that he was shivering.

The dead sheep, which turned out to be a coat smelling of incense and damp wool, fell into his lap.

"Was gonna do a bit of stargazing," Oz said pulling on something similar. "There's a conjunction of Venus and Uranus tonight. Pretty significant, yeah."

It could be an invitation to join him, or an order to stay in the van. Xander looked up into eyes that had a distinctly wolfish gleam in the darkness, getting the feeling there was something riding on his answer. Something to do with him and Willow and Oz and the mess that was their eternal triangle. An opportunity maybe? To make amends.

The shiver that ran down his spine had nothing to do with snow.

"That's... totally astrological," he said. "Me? I'll just squeeze between a couple of guitars and get settled in. You know the Xan-man, sleep is of the good wherever I can get it. Just call me 'sleeps anywhere guy'..."

 

"Tusker, right?"

Xander sits up with a start, back in Nairobi, though he'd swear he can still smell the snow and his fingers feel numb from the cold when he reaches out for the bottle.

Venus and Uranus. At the time it had meant nothing, now Xander knows better. He's educated himself in all sorts of interesting ways in the last couple of years and those planets together mean a sudden change in love. If Oz was offering what Xander thinks he was that night... Well, needless to say Xander's life would have taken a very different turn.

Not letting himself complete that thought, Xander buries it with the rest of the crap. It's past too late anyway. They've both moved on, to dustier and poorer climes.

Speaking more to himself than Oz, Xander mumbles, "I'm sorry."

There goes the eyebrow again, though this time in query rather than amusement. It's a skill reading Oz body language and Xander wonders if it's the wolf inside that makes Oz like that. They hadn't met before so there's no way of knowing.

"For what?"

Oh, the sorry. Xander swirls his bottle and thinks. "For macking on Willow. For not being man enough to apologise before. For a thousand things, I guess. Like for not joining you that night in Breaker's wood."

Silence stretches between them, pregnant with possibility. Then Oz says, "It happens again tonight, Mars and Mercury. It'll be something really special in the desert."