Xander came to slowly, with the deeply unsettling feeling of not knowing where he was. Looking around, he realized he was in lying on the ground in a rather seedy looking alley. He groaned when he remembered the spell. Could be worse though. At least the spell had given him his clothes back. He did not fancy having to walk around a strange city with black symbols drawn all over his chest. He put his hand to the back of his head and pulled it back when he saw blood. He grimaced. I must have hit my head on the ground when I fell.
He noticed that there was blood on the ground too. Couldn’t have been lying too long if I’m still bleeding.
He stood cautiously, stretching out his muscles, feeling tired and stiff.Okay, first things first,
he thought. Where in the Hellmouth am I?
He moved slowly to the entrance of the alley, looking around. He seemed to be downtown, judging by the traffic and the number of people moving around. But what city? It wasn’t London, that was for sure. He made his way into the street, pausing at a newspaper stand to get a clue about his location. The New York Times?? Willow transported me halfway around the country! Well, look on the bright side, at least there was no time travel involved,
he thought, noticing the date at the top of the paper.
Next, he had to find a phone. He didn’t care if this was where he would find what he ‘needed’, he hadn’t wanted to do this spell in the first place and Willow was going to bring him home, resolve face be damned. He had made it two blocks without finding a phone when he heard shouting. Sounds like a mob,
he thought, worried. He turned in the direction the noise was coming from and saw a crowd gathering around a smaller group of people, who were clearly hitting something. He wove his way to the front of the crowd, only to freeze at what he saw.
A small, battered form lay curled in a protective ball while four kids -maybe sixteen years old - taunted and teased, occasionally landing a blow to the prone victim’s ribs or back. Xander exploded into motion. Despite what Buffy or Willow thought, he did know how to take care of himself. In addition to what he had picked up on his own, Spike had started to help him after he’d stayed in the basement.
After hanging around him for a few weeks, he’d come to the conclusion that Spike wasn’t so bad. Yeah, he was evil, but he was a vampire; it was expected. Other than being the evil undead though, he was funny and observant, and once you had his trust, loyal to a fault. Quite like Xander, actually. One night when they were paired up for patrol together two vamps had attacked them. Xander ended up fighting both of them, while looking frantically for Spike, who was nowhere to be seen. He managed to dust both the vampires, and whirled around angrily to see Spike lounging against a tree. As he tried to focus his rage into something coherent, Spike lit up a cigarette.
“Not bad, pet,” he’d said, pushing off the tree and coming closer to Xander. “’specially the part where you dodged and let that one fall past you. Good use of his momentum, that was.” He stepped even closer, manipulating Xander so that the stunned boy was grasping his wrists. “Next time though, when somethin’s got you like this, don’t try and pull back. That’s what they’re expecting. Step into it, and twist sharp-like. Like this,” he’d said, demonstrating. “That way, at the very least you’ve thrown ‘em off balance, and you more’n likely got yours hands free too,” he concluded, finishing his cigarette and crushing it under his boot. He continued along their patrol route through the cemetery leaving behind a rather shocked and confused Xander. Then he noticed Spike was moving away from him and jogged to catch up.
Since then Spike would help him out with his fighting while they patrolled, teaching him without making him feel incapable, something Buffy, Giles, or Angel had never managed to do. They had become friends, good friends even, and when Xander had left the basement to move in to his new apartment, he didn’t even think about Spike not coming with him. His absence burned a hole in Xander’s belly, which was one of the reasons he had been headed back to Africa. Easier to forget him there, in a place where he had no memories of him. But Xander wasn’t thinking about that now.
He moved forward, cracking one of the attackers in the back of the head before anyone had even registered the disturbance. He turned to the next, kicking him swiftly in the chest, following with a punch to his face, and he smiled grimly when his nose crunching satisfyingly under Xander’s fist. The other two turned to him, having realized that their two friends had fallen silent. Xander kept a slight distance from them, keeping them from being on his blind side. They exchanged a look and Xander had to resist the urge to roll his eye at their surprised looks when he easily blocked their next moves. Holy telegraphing punches, Batman!! That had been one of the first things Spike had taught Xander about fighting. It’s about surviving, not putting on a show. If you can get it done faster and easier by doing it sneaky and dirty, then so be it. With that in mind, Xander shot forward, catching one in the groin with his foot and then kicking him hard in the chest even while he grabbed the other boy’s arm and twisted it up behind his back.
He turned to the crowd, keeping the wall and the fallen form behind him without relinquishing his hold on the boy. “I think,” he said with forced calm. “That it would be best if you all left. Now.” At that he pushed the boy forward, and watched warily as the four boys shot him dirty looks but left the alley anyways.
One turned around and spat “Hope you enjoy your fuckin mutie then!” with such venom that Xander suppressed a wince even as his mind tried to figure out what the boy was talking about. A quiet moan reminded him why he was here in the first place and he crouched down next to the figure, who was trying to sit up.
Xander gasped. The person seemed to be a young girl in her teens, younger than Dawnie. Her frame was long and slender and everything about her seemed fragile and delicate, from her long legs to her tapered fingers to her decidedly elfin features. Exotic, yes, but normal enough. Her skin though, had an iridescent sheen of faint violet, and beneath her long black hair Xander could see that her eyes were black with silver irises, now opened wide in fear. And are those scales up near her hairline?
She scrambled back from Xander hurriedly, pressing up against the brick wall of the alley, and Xander caught a glimpse of white teeth too sharp to be entirely human. Xander raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture and tried to calm her, even as his mind raced.Demon?
he thought frantically. There weren’t many demons that came out in the day, not ones that you could tell were demons anyway, and he had never heard of one matching her description. Fey weren’t native to this dimension, and even if one happened to find itself here, it would be as far as it could get from the city. It doesn’t look like she means me harm, not right now anyways.
The poor thing was shaking like a leaf, but looked like she was doing her best not to cry. Good for you,
he thought affectionately. Never let them see your belly. Even if she is a demon, he reasoned, I’m not going to just leave her here. Wherever here is.
Decision made he approached the girl carefully, cursing his size while he tried to appear as non-threatening as possible. Good thing I have lots of practice at that,
he thought, only a little bitterly. One goofy-Xander smile, coming up!
“Hey there,” he said softly, moving a little closer. “My name is Xander. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I just need to see how badly you’re hurt, okay?” He kept moving forward, as slowly as he could manage until he was able gently touch her arm. He slowly pulled her arm away from where it was wrapped around her body, aware that her ominous silver-black eyes never left him. He checked her quickly, but thoroughly and kept his movements calm. No broken bones, but her ribs were definitely bruised and possibly cracked. She also had bruises scattered on her torso, as well as some on her arms and legs, and what looked like a sprained ankle.
“Well I don’t think we need to go to the hospital, but we do have to get you off the street. What’s your name sweetpea?”
The girl looked up at him through her eyelashes and whispered with a soft French accent, “Emmeline”.
“Okay Emmeline,” Xander said with a soft smile. “We need to get you home. Where do you live?”
Xander had scarcely finished saying the words when Emmeline was backing away, trying to push herself to her feet. “Non!” she said hoarsely. “Je ne peux pas… I cannot go home. I have no home any longer,” she said sadly, tears gathering in her strange, beautiful eyes.A runaway then? Orphan? I have to find a way to get her home.
“Emmeline? Come on sweetpea, let me help you up.” He helped the girl to her feet, supporting her with one arm wrapped around her waist. “I’m not going to leave you, okay Emmeline? But you have to tell me where you live,” he said gently, looking into her fear-filled eyes. “I promise that you don’t have to stay if you don’t want to, but we have to go there first, okay?” He could feel the resignation and fear pouring off her, but she nodded her head hesitantly and they moved together out of the alley.