Whole New World
Brown Eyed Stray
Disclaimer: I own nothing, a truth that truly makes me want to cry.
Rating: FR15, some gory, and abuse/unpleasant stuff mention, but not too graphically described, hopefully.
Summary: After a disastrous closing of the Hellmouth Xander ends up a street KID in the Anita Blake universe.
Chapter One: Arriving
Xander sat in an alley hugging his knees to his chest, desperately trying not to hyperventilate. He was in shock from his abrupt change in circumstances. Just a few hours before he was in the final fight with the First, and they were losing.
Faith and Giles had already died trying to slow the hordes of demons pouring out of the Hellmouth. Little by little Buffy was also slowly dying trying to distract the First and take on Caleb, the evil Priest. Spike, Dawn, and even Oz were helping to keep the demons away from Willow and him while they cast a last ditch spell.
It was a complicated spell to banish the First from this plane and permanently close the Hellmouth. The spell was powered by the selfless death of a slayer, blood from the Key, twelve years of life willingly given, and energy channeled directly from the Hellmouth. Xander’s role was to assist Willow in casting the spell, and to willingly give up twelve years of his life for the spell.
His fierce happiness when the First gave a short scream of anger and abrupt disappearance was cut off with horror as Willow, his oldest and dearest friend fell to the ground with a short sword through her side.
Xander rushed to her, grimly determined that whatever it took he would help her finish the spell. As blood spilled over her lips Willow choked out the end of the spell with her last breath. Xander collapsed, his vision going dark as his payment of twelve years began to siphon out. His last sight was a close-up view of the Hellmouth exploding.
So here he was, all alone in a dark alley, and though his clothing still fit the same, his body didn’t. Xander’s heart pounded as he looked over his reduced body. If he didn’t know better, he would think he was looking at a child’s body.
He stared at the small delicate hands that were now his. With a sense of disconnection he wiggled his fingers. They just seemed so tiny. He turned and gingerly picked up a large piece of broken mirror from the junk surrounding him and studied his face.
The face that looked back seemed to be his, when he was about ten years old. The same except for the pirate style eye patch covering his empty left eye socket. Staring in the mirror he gently touched the edge of the patch, a dark space on an otherwise pale face. The sight caused a ghostly echo of the pain he felt losing the eye to flash through him.
With a shudder, he buried the dark feelings that began to surface, and returned to staring at the young image in the mirror. Though he knew he was ten when he last looked like this, physically he appeared to be even younger, around eight or so. Short genetics and neglectful parents had doomed him to smallness. A rustle of sound from the opening of the alley caught his attention.
“Hello child, where are your parents?” a calm voice asked. Xander’s brown eye widened in alarm as he scooted back in an instant panic. The man was kind looking, not at all threatening; it was what he was wearing that scared the small boy. The concerned stranger was dressed like a priest.
The man had a small frown on his face as he gave Xander a worried look. He was walking home after locking up his church for the night when saw a small form in the alley he was walking by. When he went to investigate he found a pale, rather young looking boy. What worried him was the fear in the one brown eye that he could see, the other was covered in some kind of dress up pirate eye patch.
“Child, are you lost? Do you have someplace to go?” he gently asked the skittish boy.
However, all Xander could see was a different priest looming over him. All he could hear was a crazy voice telling him that he saw too much, and then came the pain of loosing his eye. Xander pressed his back to the alley wall, his delicate face nearly transparently white with mindless fear.
The man crouched by the boy trying to be as non-threatening as possible. “Child, what’s wrong?” Then the man moved his hand, slowly so he wouldn’t spook the child, to tilt the petite face up.
Through the haze of fear, remembered pain, and mindless panic, all Xander saw was a priest once again reaching for his face. With a scream of pure terror, Xander jumped up and bolted out of the alley faster than the priest could react.
Startled the priest ran to the mouth of the alley, but the terrified boy was nowhere in sight. With a sad sigh the priest turned and slowly continued on his way home. There was nothing he could have done, but it would be a while before he would forget the scared brown eyed child.
Xander ran for two blocks before he collapsed panting on a bus bench, out of breath and energy. Questions whirled through his head. ‘What happened, how did I get here? Why am I TEN YEARS OLD?!’
Since none of these had an answer right now, he pushed those thoughts aside and focused on an abandoned newspaper on the bench next to him. His eye widened as he read about a trial for the murder of a vampire. Xander could only clutch the paper with his small hands as he read other equally frank stories involving the supernatural, or preternatural as it was apparently called here.
Only one conclusion could be made from this, he was in some kind of alternate reality. Xander dropped the paper in shock and wrapped thin arms around his waist as despair began to burn in his chest. He was all alone, his friends were all most likely dead, and he probably didn’t exist here so staying away from the authority here was important. He was also way too young to get any sort of legal job, and he was too small to protect himself.
“Hey kid, you alright?” a young male voice interrupted Xander’s downward spiral of thoughts.
With an unconscious flinch Xander looked up warily to see who could be talking to a ten year old at night. What he saw was a tightly clad, rather exotic older teen casually heading toward him.
“My names Jeremy, what’s yours?” Jeremy asked a suspicious Xander, flopping on the bench next to him and giving him a friendly grin.
Xander carefully stared into a pair of bluish-gray eyes when suddenly impressions began to swarm the one-eyed boy. Sorting through the flood of information he knew that though jaded and street toughened, Jeremy still had a good heart, and he could be trusted.
Xander let the rest of the information fade away as he willed this weird new ability gone to deal with later. He gave the older boy a shy smile and quietly said, “Xander.”
Jeremy didn’t know what drew him to Xander. He had been walking to the street he worked on when he noticed a small child curled up alone, on a bus bench, at night. Normally he wouldn’t even notice, or if he did it wouldn’t be any of his business, but something about the despair in the bent shaggy head, the vulnerability coming off him in waves sparked compassion in him.
When he called out he noticed the kid automatically flinched, and apprehension was spread across the pale face. He casually sat next to the kid, introduced himself, and waited for the wary young boy to do the same.
One big brown eye stared straight at his through long bangs. Jeremy felt like this small child could see right to his soul with his intense stare. He only vaguely noticed that the other eye was covered with some kind of pirates eye patch. The gaze was no less intense with only one eye.
Then the look became less concentrated to his relief. The kid gave a sweetly innocent smile and quietly said, “Xander.”
“Do you have some place to go Xander?” Jeremy asked gently on a hunch.
Xander slowly shook his head no, his face solemn and fixed on Jeremy’s.
Jeremy let out a small sigh. Great, now he felt responsible for the kid…no, for Xander. The little guy was quiet, just staring up at him with that round brown eye. One side of Jeremy’s mouth curled up in an amusement. Somehow Xander’s delicate face, brown eye, and innocent youth made him think of a little lost puppy.
“Well kid, you want to go with me? I don’t live any place fancy, but if you want you can come with me.” At that statement Xander gave such a brilliant smile that Jeremy felt a little stunned. That smile lit up Xander’s pale face and turned it from cute to beautiful.
Happiness, and thankfulness sparkled in his eye and a quiet, “Yes, thank you.” was all Xander said out loud.
Shaking off the stunning effects of Xander’s smile, Jeremy stood up and after a brief hesitation held his hand out to the boy.
Xander studied the hand as if unsure what to do with it, then put his smaller hand into Jeremy’s. As they started walking back to Jeremy’s place the older boy was musing on how trusting Xander was to go with a complete stranger. Then another thought occurred to him that he voiced out loud.
“Hmm, well I can’t take you to the street with me tonight can I? I guess I could leave you at my place, but I don’t think I should till I introduce you to everyone. Crap, this’ll put a dent in my money.” He glanced down at Xander and noticed that the smaller boy was looking at him with a contemplative stare that appeared out of place on such a young face.
“What’s up little guy?”
Xander tugged on Jeremy’s hand for him to stop and then the serious faced boy reached into his pocket. Jeremy chocked a little when he saw what Xander pulled out. It appeared to be some kind of small gold and jewel covered statue. The older boy’s eyes widened as Xander simply held the statue out for him.
“Y-You want ME to have this?” Jeremy asked incredulously.
Xander simply nodded his head.
“But—why? Is this yours?” babbled a confused Jeremy, flustered at the valuable object that he’d been so casually offered.
Xander tilted his head and quietly said, “I’m going to cost you money. I won’t be a useless free loader.” His face held an adult like expression.
‘Wow, this kid must’ve had a harsh life. I wonder what jerk said that to him.’ Jeremy almost reluctantly took the precious statue from Xander, feeling like he was taking advantage of the kid. ‘Sheesh, this kid is really too trusting.’
“Xander,” Jeremy said, crouching so he wasn’t looming over him, “You really shouldn’t be giving things like this to just anybody. Not to mention going places with strangers is generally a bad idea. They could be very bad people. I could be a bad person. How do you know I won’t kill you and take this and anything else you might have?” he bluffed, trying to scare some self-preservation into the all too trusting young boy.
“I know all that.” Xander said firmly, that oddly aged look back in his eye. “I also know you wouldn’t do anything bad to me. You’re a good person.” The serious little boy said with quiet conviction.
Jeremy alternately felt warmed and frustrated by Xander’s statement. On one hand the absolute trust of this little boy made him feel happy and strangely protective. On the other hand Xander’s blind trust could be a very dangerous thing. He felt one side of his mouth quirk up in a half smile.
“You’re a strange kid Xander.” He reached out his hand to ruffle Xander’s hair, but the smaller boy violently yanked his hand out of Jeremy’s and flinched out of reach, shielding his face.
Jeremy froze, surprised at the reaction to his friendly gesture.
“Sorry” whispered a pale, still shaking Xander. He slowly lowered his arm, staring at the ground with embarrassment.
“Hey little guy, its okay. I was only going to pat you on the head. I got it, no touching.”
“I just don’t like hands near my head.” Xander said firmly with only a slight quaver in his voice.
Carefully taking Xander’s hand again Jeremy led the way to his apartment, wondering about his quiet, odd little friend.