Title: Matters of Perception
Fandom: BtVS/Heroes crossover
Pairings: Pre Peter/Claire
Spoiler: None really. Just about certain character ages.
Disclaimer: These men aren't mine. I'm borrowing them from their creators because they really wanted to have a chat.
Notes: The age difference thing has been such an issue this week, it got me thinking. How come no one ever had an issue when Buffy was 16? And this is what came out.
A/N: I know, I know. I have three ongoing stories that haven't been updated in a long, long
time. But this bit me, and as I've been having trouble writing at all, I thought at least writing something might get me going again.* * * * *
"It really bothers you, doesn't it?"
"What does?" Peter responded, tearing his eyes away from where Claire was pouring over the new clothes she had gotten for her birthday with Niki, her eyes shining with glee. He turned on the couch to face the newest member of the group.
Alex - no Xander - Peter reminded himself, was looking at him as if he could stare right into Peter's soul, even though one of his eyes was glass. It was at times like this that Peter thought that the newcomer could see inside of their minds better then even Matt. Xander was just beginning to get a hold on his powers of perception, so much so that even Mohinder was still constantly guessing at just how far Xander's powers of sight went. But in this case, Xander seemed to have struck a cord. Because it was true, something was bothering Peter.
"The age difference." Xander stated, no doubt in his mind about it. Once again, Xander's perception was dead on, and he proved it even further with his next statement. "If that’s the only thing keeping you from acting on your feelings for her, it really shouldn’t. Because she feels the same about you."
Damn. Peter was going to have to ask Claude if there was something he could do to hide his more private thoughts from those in the group who could so easily read him. After a minute, though, the last thing that Xander had said penetrated the haze of panic that Peter had been in at his feelings discovered, and he turned to the young man who sat beside him, rubbing the eye he was still not quite used to.
Though Xander had been there less than a month, he seemed to know so much about all of the others already. Peter figured that it must have been his powers - to just see things - as Xander had described it, shrugging. Because the same could definitely not be said in return. No one really knew that much about Xander. He'd just shown up one day, saying that he'd seen where he was needed. His appearance hadn't been questioned because Issac had painted a picture of the young man with the eye patch - without eye patch, of course - at their side in the final battles with Sylar. The group had even been contemplating looking for him when he'd shown up at Mohinder's door one day, a lithe redheaded woman at his side.
The only thing that anyone really knew about Xander was that he was somewhat strange. Yes, stranger then even Peter himself, who was a mimic, and could take on nearly any power he wanted. There were a lot of things that made Xander so. The man had been terribly reluctant to trade the eye patch in for a real looking replacement, wearing the patch like a badge of honor. Even when he’d seen reason, Xander kept his eye patch displayed on his dresser like a trophy. When Peter had asked about it one day, Xander had told him that he kept it there to remind him that being the 'one who sees' came with a price.
Xander said and did strange things sometimes, the most prominent occasion to Peter's memory being the time that, when being told that they were all brought together to save the world, his response being to roll his good eye, moan "Again?" in the petulant whine of a teenager, and turning and immediately leaving the apartment, much to the puzzlement of the group and the amusement of the friend he'd brought with him, Willow, they'd learned. He'd shown up less then fifteen minutes later with a few dozen donuts, a case of soda, and a look of determination on his face.
It was then that he'd told Willow she should go. That this wasn't their fight, at least for now. Her departure had made Peter think that maybe oddness was just a characteristic of where they'd come from, because she was rather strange as well. And, after all, maybe you just got to be odd when the town you'd grown up in collapsed practically under your feet.
For when Willow said goodbye, she'd told Xander to yell for her when he needed her, and she'd be there quicker then a blink. She disappeared much the same way, although Xander had told the rest of them when they pointed it out that she hated goodbyes, and she'd simply left when they all weren't looking.
Whenever anyone asked Xander how he could be so calm and laid back, especially that time that they'd helped the FBI contain Ted Sprague, Xander just told them it would keep until they caught Sylar and saved the world. "One apocalypse at a time," he'd asserted, and wouldn't say anything further.
So, they knew very little about Xander. But he seemed to know a hell of a lot about them. Especially what he'd just said about Peter and Claire. Yes, what he'd said about Claire. That's what Peter should be focusing on now.
"What did you say about Claire?" Peter asked, wanting to be certain that Xander had actually said it.
"She feels the same about you," the other brunette man assured him. Peter looked at him, an eyebrow raised in doubt. Peter knew better then to deny his own feelings to Xander, but how could he be sure of Claire's?
And, as if Xander was reading his mind again, his voice broke into Peter's thoughts. "Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself." Before Peter could even ask Xander what he meant, Xander elaborated. "You’re a mimic, right? Can take anyone's powers and use them as your own?" Peter nodded, though both men knew that it really wasn't a question. "Use my power and take a look at her heart." Xander nodded and turned his head in Claire's direction. When Peter turned, the beautiful blonde's eyes met his, her gaze intent.
"So, how do I go about using this?" he asked Xander. The other man just shrugged.
"I’m not entirely sure, man. I've always just been able to see through to the truth of things." Peter looked at Xander then, his eyes narrowed. "I know, not much of a help, but I haven't got anything else." Xander motioned with his head toward Claire. "Just have a look and give it a go."
Peter looked back at Claire, her eyes now a little narrowed, the look on her face curious, and Peter could practically see the question written on her face about what he and Xander were so intently discussing. And he guessed that's how it worked for Xander. The other man just sort of saw what was there, and it was really impossible to describe unless you tried it. So Peter looked at Claire, and concentrated a little harder, smiling at her to reassure her that everything was fine.
It was then that he saw exactly what Xander had been talking about. The feelings Peter had been fighting for Claire for longer than he could remember? Claire had them for Peter as well. In spades. The question was, what was he going to do about it? Because the original instigator of this discussion was still in place. Even if she was 17 today, and legal, there was still a ten year gap between their ages. Didn't that make Peter a pervert?
"Still stuck on that age thing, are ya?" Xander asked, interrupting Peter's contemplation. "Didn't I tell you not to be?"
Peter took a good look at Xander then, his body and his eyes still mimicking that power of perception. "It really doesn't bother you, does it?" Peter inquired, somewhat surprised to see that that was actually the truth. He'd thought that Xander had just been humoring him, but thanks to the borrowed power Peter could see that to Xander, the age difference simply didn't matter. "You don't think I'm a pervert for being in-" Peter just couldn't bring himself to say the word yet "for having feelings for a girl just legal, and ten years younger?"
Xander chuckled deeply, as if he was enjoying a private joke. Considering that no one really knew him, Peter thought that perhaps he was. "If I were to judge you for a tiny ten year age gap, I'd be a hypocrite ten times over."
Peter raised an eyebrow at the statement, and Xander contemplated further clarifying his statement. "You can see that I'm telling the truth, right?" Xander asked. At Peter's nod, he continued. "I'd be a hypocrite because I've kind of been there. All my friends have, in one way or another, been in the middle of unconventional relationships."
Xander could tell that he really wasn't making a point with Peter. He was going to have to bring out the big guns on the age difference front. "Okay, so, what I'm going to say next is going to sound completely impossible, but given the situation we're all in," Xander waved his hand around the room, littered with people who all possessed special abilities, "try to keep an open mind. I promise that the second you guys have not nearly so much to deal with I'll tell you the entire story and it will all make sense. But just go with me for now, okay? Can you trust me?"
Peter could see that Xander was telling the complete truth, and that no matter how far fetched whatever he was about to say sounded, Peter would believe him because of that. "Okay, mind completely opened."
"Buffy, my best friend, the one you didn't meet?" Peter nodded, having heard the name once before, "well, the last serious relationship, though she wouldn't admit that it was, she was in? He was 128 years older then her." Xander could tell that Peter was going to protest that as impossible, so he held up a hand to prevent it. "Open mind, remember. I am telling the truth."
And Peter could see it, the truth was written all over his face. His best friend had a relationship with someone 128 years her senior. Made ten years seem like nothing.
"You think that makes ten years seem paltry, just wait. There's more." Xander grinned at him, like a magician who knew that he had more impressive tricks still up his sleeve.
"Well, go ahead, then, Houdini, astound me." Peter joked.
"Well, her first love? She met him when she was 16. And he was 254 years her elder."
"Wow." Peter was stunned. How could it be? Yet, he could tell, just by looking at Xander, that it was true. "But how does that make you a hypocrite?"
Xander chuckled under his breath at the question. "Well, that wouldn't. What would would be me frowning at the age difference considering how old my fiancé was."
'Was?' Peter wondered, but knew, instinctively, now was not the time to ask about that. "And how old was she?"
"Oh, Anya?" Xander asked, as if he didn't know Peter was hanging on with baited breath to hear the next fantastic but true thing to come out of Xander’s mouth. "Anya was always mad that she was eleven hundred and twenty years old, but couldn't get a beer at the bronze. That was when I was 17."
Again, Peter was floored. What kind of people had Xander grown up with? Was Mohinder's idea that this was a new time of evolution in humanity mistaken? Had there been people with these genetic anomalies all along?
"They weren't like us, Peter," Xander said, once again coming in with that outstanding insight. "They were something quite else. But now's not the time for that. I promise, when you all have less on your plate, and the luxury of time to let my life sink in, I'll tell you all about it. For now, we have too much to worry about to be distracted."
Peter sighed at that, but knew that Xander would, in the future, be forthcoming about his past with all of them. And he could also see, thanks to the borrowed power, that whatever it truly was, now really wasn't the time.
"When you can find l- feelings like this in the middle of the crazy, Peter, you have to grab it and not let go." Though Xander was younger, he seemed eons older to Peter in that moment, and it made the mimic wonder even more about Xander's past, what it was that made him that way. "Besides, I can see someone who, now that she's 17, has more than one thing to say to you." Xander nodded at Claire, and he didn't need his gift to see that the age difference no longer bothered Peter.
The man beside him got up and headed towards the birthday girl, Xander seeing that the two were in for quite a discussion - and other things. It brought up a memory that Xander didn't particularly relish, of another 17th birthday party and the events that had followed. Not wanting a repeat of that time of his life, he called after Peter, who glanced over his shoulder to listen.
"Whatever you do, wait a couple days to get physical." Peter blushed crimson, and though that hadn't been on his mind, it sure was now. "Bad things happen when my friends loose their virginity on their 17th birthdays."
Peter just shook his head at that and went to stand beside Claire, bending down to whisper in his ear.
"Hey Claire!" Xander called out from his spot where Peter had just left.