“It’s been a pleasure to have you here, Xander,” William Clark said with an unusually wide smile.
“It’s been… wonderful,” Xander replied. And as little as he had seen his grandfather the last two week, it had been wonderful. He’d been introduced to a whole new world, a new city, and family. And now he was going to meet more family. He couldn’t stop grinning.
“I’m sorry I haven’t had more time for you.”
Xander shook his head. “It’s okay. We might not have shared every minute, but it’s been wonderful getting to know you.”
“I agree,” William said, clapping Xander on the shoulder. “I wasn’t quite sure how you’d have turned out, being raised by that jackass.”
Xander snorted and rolled his eyes. They’d shared a number of words and opinions regarding the elder Mr. Harris.
“If you ever want to move here, I’d be honored to help you get set up.”
“Thank you,” Xander said with more honesty and feeling that he’d expected. “But as much as my parents are a mess, my friends are all in Sunnydale.” He shrugged. “It’s my home.”
“Well, if you ever change you mind, let me know. And if you ever need a recommendation—”
“Most don’t like references from family,” Xander cut in, though he appreciated the sentiment.
William snorted. “No, but you’ve impressed a number of my associates with your insightful comments over dinner. I’m sure a few would be willing to share a few positive words.”
Xander was stunned. He hadn’t thought himself particularly insightful, and rarely spoke at the dinners that were half business meetings, but there had been a few times he couldn’t keep silent when someone seemed determined to present some kind of completely idiotic theory.
“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, Xander. I wouldn’t offer you a position in my company just for being my grandson.
“Thank you.” This time Xander’s words were quiet and he couldn’t resist ducking his head and looking at his grandfather through his shaggy bangs.
“And if you ever change your mind on college—”
“I am so done with school.” No way Xander wanted to deal with college.
“I remember feeling like that once upon a time. You may change your mind yet. And if you do… Or if you don’t…” William handed Xander a thick folder full of papers he’d arrived for goodbyes while holding.
“I set up a trust fund for you when I learned you existed. Your cousin has one too, though I don’t know if your aunt will ever let me close enough to tell them.”
Shocked Xander flipped the folder open and found a bunch of legal documents, followed by something with a lot of numbers on it.
“It won’t mature until you’re twenty-two. Then you can do anything you want with the money, whether spend or reinvest. But the manager will shell out to cover advanced education at any time, whether it’s college or more hands on classes. I know you mentioned your tempted by construction.”
“Grandfather… I…” Shocked, Xander closed the folder and tried to hand it back.
“It’s yours,” William said, pushing the folder gently to Xander’s chest. “The money has been collecting for over a decade. Whether you spend it or save it for your children, that’s up to you. But let an old man know he’s done something for his grandchild.”
Feeling like a broken record, but meaning every word, Xander said, “Thank you.”
William smiled and pulled Xander into a hug until he was feeling a little less shocky.
“Well, if that set you off this probably won’t help.” William released Xander and handed him a credit card. One with Alexander Harris firmly imprinted on it. “This is for the rest of your trip. Pay for a hotel room if Martha and Johnathan won’t let you stay on the farm. Or for gas and hotel rooms if you decide to finish your road trip. Whatever you need, within a bit of reason, have fun this summer.”
“Call it a graduation present.”
Snorting, Xander accepted the card. “You already used that to convince me to accept the ticket here and the wad of cash you shoved at me for clubbing.”
“And museums, cabs, lunches….”
The shared a laugh. “Alright,” Xander said. “Graduation present. I’ll shred it when I get home.”
“Don’t,” William said firmly. “Keep it. For emergencies.”
“Grandfather,” Xander said, shaking his head.
“Shred it when you hit twenty-two if you must, but I’ll feel better knowing you have it if you ever get stuck in Oxnard broke again. Or injured without insurance.” Oh, that knowing look meant he’d gotten ahold of Xander’s medical records somehow. “It’s not for drugs, birthday presents, or covering rent. I’ll expect a call and explanation for any purchases. But if something comes up and you need the money now, I’d rather you had that.”
It was so hard to see someone care about him. Xander was used to offhanded care from his friends and Giles, and a little more serious support from Joyce, but he’d never have a relative care about him so much. This time Xander took the step forward and wrapped his arms around his grandfather. “Thank you,” he whispered into gray hair, his hands gripping folder and card behind his grandfather’s back.
They stayed like that for some time, and for a moment Xander wondered if this time he’d actually cry. But the moment passed and they finally separated and smiled at each other.
“The car’s covered as long as you want it,” William finally said. “Road trip included.”
“I’ll let you know,” Xander promised.
“And… maybe you could let me know how my daughter’s doing?”
Xander had always wondered just what a worried father looked like, and now he thought he knew. “I promise at least a basic assessment.”
William leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Xander’s forehead. “Take care of your mother when you get home.”
“I will.” That wasn’t a promise, it was a given.
“Now off with you, and have fun.”
Urged through the door, Xander looked in awe at the nice car parked out front, already loaded with three new suitcases full of clothes. Damn his life had changed the last few weeks.
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