Summary: a very strange bunny which nipped me hard and wouldn't let me go until I got this down.
The original premise was that of a certain sophisticated irony: that Tony Harris is so generally scathing of his son that the effort Xander would have to put into being gay is more incredible to his father than the fact.
Ah, well, maybe next time.

I wanted to write a closer-to-canon family than we usually see in fanfic, while highlighting the bitterness of the mental cruelty involved in Tony's form of abuse.
This seems to have worked, anyway. Interestingly, the way it developed, neither Xander nor his parents seem consciously aware of how debilitating this type of scorn is.

Follow Spot


~~House lights dim and a harsh, neon light illuminates the Harrises' basement - once again home to the un-bridegroom, Harris jnr. He and Spike are facing off in typical style - plenty of tension and close enough to kiss. Spike licks his lips; eyebrow raised, he is looking smug, anticipative and totally predatory. Xander is speaking.~~

" that's it. I'm gay!"

~~Cut to a close-up of Mrs Harris. She is upstairs, quietly closing the door to the basement and is reacting to what she has just heard. A woman of her time, she deals, she accepts; she re-opens the door and continues down the stairs.~~

~~Xander stands looking at the rapidly closing exterior door. We can see just Spike's arm and his hand as he jerks the door shut following his exit. Xander is muttering too quietly to make out individual words. He is interrupted by his mother's entrance.~~

"Oh, hi, Mom. Didn't see you there. How ya doin?"

"Me? Oh, I'm fine. Where did your, er, friend go? I thought I heard you talking to someone. We don't often see you with anyone other than Willow and that little blonde girl who was so kind when... It's nice to see you with another, er, friend. Now that you and that Anya…"

"Yeah, that was Spike. He's... um, well, not a friend exactly, more like a...... umm…. You really don't want to know, Ma. So, what can I do for you?"

~~She deals, accepts and decides to ignore for now. Go to black.~~

~~~Interior. Later that evening in the Harrises' living room.~~

~~Mr Harris senior takes a long, unhealthy but welcome drink of Scotch; he holds up the glass to the light, regarding the deep golden whisky with appreciation.~~

"Aah. That hits the good spot. Now then, Jessica, what the fucking hell are you talking about? You can't be serious - you saying our son's queer?"

"Gay, Tony. The word is gay. And yes, I heard him talking with that rather strange blond, British, young man who came to the, er, that is…"

"Wedding. The word is wedding, Jessica. That complete-waste-of-friggin'-money, embarrassing charade that passed for our son's goddamn WEDDING! Hell, all he had to do was turn up and he couldn't even get that right. Now you're telling me that he threw that sweet little piece over for some fuckin' faggot limey?"

"What I'm trying to say is that we should be understanding about it. It's not easy being young these days. And, well, if our son has decided... that his way isn't our way, we should try to be there for him. You shouldn't condemn your own flesh and blood just because…"

"Easy? Young? What the hell is that all about? And condemn? I'll give him condemn. Hell, Jess, I'm a man of the world, you know that. I mean, it's not that I don't like faggots - I… it's not for me to judge. None of my business if they want to…. with ….. and all that stuff with… dear God! "

~~Tony grimaces in distaste and washes his mouth out with more Chivas.~~

"No-one can ever call me a damned narrow-minded 'ho mo phobe'. That's what the stinking perverts want to do with each other then let them get on with it. But now I have to be proud that my son's taking it up the ass? No. No way. Not my son. Goddamn it, the lazy son-of-a-bitch would have to actually get up off of his ass first. That useless jerk could never get up the guts to do something that faggin' 'life-altering sig nifi cant'. When d'he ever make up his mind about anything important?

"Left the first decent job he ever got to mope around like a fucking faggot 'finding himself', now that girl of his is gone. He sleeps away all the daytime hours God gives him - spends the night doing - well, hell, come on. That's a part of it. Damn boy doesn't even do the normal things a healthy kid of his age should do. Getting over one girl, hell, he should be out getting laid every night. Rolling home covered in lipstick and roaring drunk at 2 in the morning. Show a bit of initiative. Damn, he don't even get what's on easy offer - where the hell's he going to find himself the energy to go against God and nature and the American Constitution to turn himself into a goddamn pervert queer?"

" Tony, now dear…"

"Don't give me that 'now, dear,' crap. You wanna be useful, get me another drink."

~~He hands his glass to his wife and settles more comfortably into his armchair. Jessica Harris regards him for a moment before walking across the room, her lips are pursed and she is gingerly holding the glass between thumb and one finger as if she might catch something. Ignoring his wife's displeasure, Tony stretches, scratches, reorganises his genitals and relocates excess bodily air. He looks up expectantly as Jessica returns to his side with a charged glass.~~

"Hey, what the hell you got there? I don't want to drink that muck. Where the hell's my Scotch?"

~~Jessica jerks her head over her shoulder~~ "Where it always is. You getting forgetful now, as well as stupid?"

~~She downs half of her very generous drink in two gulps and drops heavily into her own armchair.~~

"You were supposed to be getting a drink for me, not for you. Damned least a man can ask for when he gets home from working all day - 'stead of which I get some crazy story that my faggot son's turning into a friggin' fairy… Hey, hah! Fairy stories! I'm getting fairy stories! Hey, geddit? Story? Fairy? Fairy story?"

~~Chuckling fatly in admiration of the great Harris wit he pulls himself out of his chair, fixes himself a drink.~~

"Hee… fairy story. Yu see, even in totally trying fucking times, I never lose the Harris wit."

"No," ~~mutters a long-suffering Jessica.~~ "only half."

"Huh? Half, what half?"

"Oh, wit, dear. Half. Wit."

"I'm gonna choose to ignore that with the contempt it deserves. Now just what the hell fuck is all this crap you're giving me about the boy being a goddamn shirtlifter?"

~~Jessica sighs takes another large sip of her drink, tells what she heard.~~

"You…" ~~Tony pours his third large whisky in rapid succession into the glass then down his throat, tops up his glass with another shot.~~ "You actually telling me you heard him say this out loud, to some guy that he… what, in our basement? Well if he's turned himself into one of those perverts he ain't doing under my roof. This is a decent, respectable family and I run a decent, respectable family home, here. "

~~Years of experience of waving glasses of Scotch around in order to emphasise his speech prevents his spilling any this time~~

"So what you going to be doing about it? Cos I know what I'm gonna do." ~~He drains his fourth glass...~~ "I'm taking the fifth! Hah!" ~~and refills it wheezing at yet another example of half-witted jollity.~~

"Me? Why the fuck do you think I should be the one to do anything about it? You're supposed to be the man of the house - though God knows, my mother, may she rest in peace, took one look at you and told me how you'd turn out I wish I'd listened to her earlier rather than later because if you think you're going to get to blame everything on me again I'm telling you now you no-good pile of shit-useless-excuse for a husband and father….."

"Christ's sake woman! You never need to breathe? And let me tell you, when I first saw that old witch I shoulda remembered what they say about daughters turning into their mothers and left the two of you to… to… to your stinkin' hags' cauldron and got the hell out. Mighta had a chance of getting a decent life and a proper woman. No, not me, too goddamned decent and soft-hearted, and look at the ball-breaking, soul-sucking bitch I've ended up with. And of course it's your fault if that little punk's turned out a goddamned, filthy faggot - it's always the mother's fault. Don't you know nothing about nothing? 'Course it's the mother's fault.. always is. Your responsibility. God knows, I've shown him a good enough example of how a real man should behave. He didn't pick up those ideas from me. Makes me sick to my stomach just talking about it. He's got his ideas twisted, of course it's your fucki…"

~~ sound fades, cut to basement. Spike is sitting on the stairs, avidly listening. He is smirking and stubs out his cigarette on the wall. He rises. Pan through basement following him as he exits through exterior door. He is carrying a box. Go to black.~~

~~ Interior. Lights come up on Xander, Willow and Tara. Willow and Tara sit together on their sofa, Xander sits on the floor next to them, slumped against the neighbouring chair. ~~

"So, you told Spike that you were gay….?"

"Willow, no! He started making remarks about…. I dunno, things. Being snarky about how I never seem to be able to keep a healthy relationship going with a girl. Said that as all my friends were girls I hardly had the excuse of not understanding them." ~~He bends to retrieve his drink and mutters just loud enough to be heard.~~ "As if I've ever understood women!"

~~He looks up to catch both women giving him identical looks.~~

"Ah, present company excepted, of course. I mean, no insult intended, O Ladies of the Graciousness."

~~Willow looks amused, hastens to reassure him.~~

"Oh, no insult taken. Honestly, I don't think that we, that is women in general, would ever expect you, that is, men in general, to understand.... That is, women …."

"In general, yeah I get the picture, Wills."

~~He shakes his head, getting back on course and continues.~~

"So I just said, 'Yeah? So perhaps you ought to take a look at yourself Mr Girly Blondbleach - I mean, with the black-leather look and all? Dressed to cruise, much? (I think I was channelling Cordy, there). So he says, 'Takes one to know one, Ducks.' And just stood there, smirking at me with that, that… smirking, smirky smirk of his. So I said, 'So, just cos I can so recognise a certain style there, I'm the one who's gay? Is that it? You get this stupid notion in your peroxide-fried brain and so that's it: I'm gay!' So then he just shrugged, like all sarcastic, says, 'Well, let me know when you're out of denial, Harris,' and kinda swirly-coated out, looking like the cat that had just got the whole frickin' dairy.

"Then Mom came in. And like I say, I think she must have heard something cos she was like all creepy and understanding-mother woman. I ever tell you how wigged I get when she's like that? That is so not my mom. She's bound to tell my dad. All I need - my ever-lovin' pa on my back about being a 'goddamn faggot'. Calls me that often enough as it is. I'm never going to hear the end of this."

~~He gazes gloomily at his can of soda; takes a swig.~~

"Sheesh, let's face it, guys. His idea of being a manly man's enough to turn any son gay.
"Aw, what the... Spike's been asking for it, he's gonna get it. This is all his fault. Damn it to hell, I'm so gonna stake that vampire's ass!"

~~the girls exchange a speculative look. Willow opens her mouth to ask Xander to elucidate his last remark then decides not to. She shuts her mouth and merely nods, wisely.

Spike, unnoticed throughout this exchange, slips away from his post outside the window. An unholy smirk adorns his face.

The End

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