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Province (NC-17) by ChessM

Title: Province
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supernatural
Pairing: Xander/Dean
Categories: Crossover, slash, angst, gradually diverging from canon.
Length: Super!Epic (~217,000 words across six stories)
Warnings: Explicit sex, suicidal talk, believed character death, angstorama

Author on TtH: ChessM's author page on Twisting the Hellmouth.

Summary:
Dean and Xander are the same sort of self-sacrificing idiot. It shouldn't be surprising that their relationship is made of angst.

Review:
I'm cheating slightly here; Province is a series of stories that chart a not exactly idyllic relationship between Dean and Xander. I'm not entirely sure that the series is complete — the major plotline clearly isn't resolved &mdash but nothing has been added for quite a while now, so I'm going to claim that all the important stuff is at least rounded off. As far as timelines go, it asserts that the first episode of Supernatural occurs shortly before the fall of Sunnydale, and starts bending canon from there on.

It begins with a break-up. Set The Fire To The Third Bar alternates between Xander and Dean having enthusiastic sex, and Dean calling to break up in the immediate aftermath of Jess's death. It's short, bitter, and makes perfect sense from Dean's point of view, and it's patently obvious that neither of them knows that the other knows all about the supernatural.

From there we watch Xander struggle through the fall of Sunnydale with plenty of taunting from the First Evil, not really having the time to deal. It feels a little strange because we're used to seeing Xander the goofball, and this Xander has too recent a hurt to play that part. Then Dean sees the news reports of the destruction of Sunnydale and loses it, because he knew that was where "Alex" lived. We are treated to exactly the sort of meltdown I'd expect from Dean; tightly controlled until he's too drunk to manage any more, and with Sam hovering and trying to stop his brother self-destructing.

The next story turns the screws. We reach the end of season 1 of Supernatural, and of course the Yellow-Eyed Demon lets John Winchester know that his oldest boy is gay, and lets Dean know that Alex is still alive and now its number one target. This naturally gets the Scoobies involved and things kick into high gear for a while, until Dean and Xander meet up in relative safety. And then the real fun begins.

For all the plot I've just described, and all the rest that I haven't, this is really a family drama. Xander and Dean are both damaged in their different ways, and have both been keeping secrets for that matter. It's not surprising that they have a hard time rebuilding trust. Throw in John, who has a whole barrelful of prejudices of different sorts all pushing his buttons, and a Sam who can't go five minutes without exploding at his father or wanting to know more than Xander will trust him with, and you have a highly volatile situation. The story takes a justifiably long time to work up enough trust that Xander and the Winchesters can function (albeit badly) as a team, and Dean and Xander both come out darker if marginally happier by the end. From Xander we get the overwhelming impression of weariness, and very little of his characteristic humour; from Dean we have a massive lack of confidence after his big decision went so badly wrong, and his trademark cockiness is sorely missing as a result.

This isn't a light or easy read, but it is very well written and nicely observed. The little nods to canon throughout the earlier stories help to anchor the later ones and make the crossover work. All in all, worth the effort if you can stand the angst.


Set The Fire To The Third Bar (first story in the series)

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Length Guidelines

Short: under 2,000 words
Medium: 2,000-15,000 words
Long: 15,000-40,000 words
Epic: 40,000-100,000 words
Super Epic: 100,000+ words

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