Disclaimer: I do not own the characters contained within this work of fiction. They are the sole intellectual property of their respective creators.
Xander gaped at the tall, muscular man who towered over him. He had a broody, angsty look which reminded him immediately of Angel in one of his funks. The guy even looked like Angel with his brownish hair standing up all kind of spiked-like, but the eyes were different, they were a startling cold, blue whereas Angel’s were more of a deep topaz. Shaking himself from his musings, he gulped audibly and smiled sheepishly as he carefully inched away from the man, holding his hands up in what he hoped was a placating manner.
“Please don’t eat me,” he muttered beneath his breath hoping that he’d not managed to walk into a vampire hidey hole on his trip to Port Charles. Xander scanned the dining room of the small establishment he’d wandered into, his eyes latching onto door. A heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder and he closed his eyes wishing for the umpteenth time that he’d thought to bring a stake along.
“What’s with the getup?” The man’s voice held a note of amusement.
The kid reminded him of Spinelli and he briefly wondered if they were long-lost cousins before brushing the thought aside. Regardless, all hell was about to break loose and he didn’t want the kid to get caught in the crossfire.
“Oh, um, Hawaiian pride week at school…?” Xander blushed slightly and shrugged.
The quizzical way in which the man was eyeing him made him feel like he was back at school in science class, as the lab rat rather than on spring break in Port Charles, New York. Which, in and of itself was a rather bad idea. He really should not have let Willow choose their destination. Not that he didn’t mind the excessive walking or all of the shopping they’d done in the Big Apple itself– much.
“You stick out like a sore thumb kid.” A sour-faced man looked him up and down in a dismissive way before nodding to the Angel lookalike whose hand was now squeezing his shoulder in a somewhat comforting manner. Strange.
“Ready?” The sour-faced man was peering at the man Xander was now considering in a slightly different light, like maybe the man was more of the savior than a heavy-handed New York thug.
Xander felt the man beside him tense and he chanced a look at his face.
The tight lines around the man’s smile belied his tension and Xander shivered imperceptibly. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end and suddenly had an urge to flee what had on first sight seemed like a nice local diner, a momentary peace from Buffy and Willow. A little alone time. He should have realized that, with his luck, things were never as they appeared at first sight.
“Kid,” the single word held some unfathomable emotion; Xander swallowed past the rapidly forming lump in his throat as the man’s icy blue eyes pierced his with a look which bespoke of imminent danger, “I think you’d better…”
Xander didn’t hear what it was that he’d better as the rat-a-tat-tat sound of rapid semi-automatic fire broke through the relative silence and shattered the front window of Kelly’s. And here I had such high hopes for the day, he thought as he was bodily pushed down and out of the way. His head bounced as it made rough contact with the authentic wooden floor that he’d admired when he had first walked into the establishment. A sickening crack followed in the wake and pinprick stars exploded across his vision.
“Shit, kid,” the Angel-like man was hovering over him, a pistol gripped in one hand, the other holding him firmly in place, “you okay?”
Xander tried to nod, tried to speak, but nothing more than a pathetic squeak issued forth from his mouth. His head ached and he couldn’t quite make out what was happening around him. Loud blasts of gunshots were accompanied by shouts and screams of pain, horror and anger.
He reached a shaky hand up to his pounding head and pulled it back with a hiss of pain.
Closing his eyes, willing himself to breathe through the intense pain, he opened them once again and looked down in mesmerized wonder at the viscous, slick red liquid which coated his fingers. Blinking rapidly, he raised his eyes to the man who’d pushed him out of danger and was now shielding him with his body. His vision began to blur as the world swam in and out of focus.
Panicking, he surged forward only to be pushed more firmly into place. His running mantra of, oh god, oh god, oh god, was punctuated by the occasional: let me go, please, please let me go.
“Stay still,” the man hissed at him. “You’ll be okay.” His promise was accentuated by a brief smile which somehow brought comfort to Xander who stopped struggling against the man’s hold and relaxed back onto the floor.
“Jason!” A voice called and Xander watched as his protector turned in the direction of the voice, bringing his gun to bear.
Xander felt the powerful whump as a bullet tore from the gun in his shielder’s hand and watched in awe as Jason rapidly fired off a few more shots, all while keeping him down and out of the immediate danger zone. Without so much as batting an eyelash, his rescuer was reloading and firing once again, a look of deep concentration on his face.
As quickly as it all began, it ended. For a prolonged moment silence reigned supreme and the world slowly came rushing back to Xander in a macabre juxtaposition of lush, glossy reds and stark, bleached whites. His ears rang and dizziness threatened to overtake him as he was hauled gently to a sitting position while sure hands ran over his body, assessing him for wounds other than the obvious one on his forehead.
“You’re okay, bullet just grazed your skull,” the words were whispered and Xander fought to maintain control over the panic which surged as he put meaning to them.
“Wh…wh…” his stilted attempt at speech was summarily halted as he felt burly arms surround him, pulling him into an impromptu embrace. The persistent thud of his rescuer’s heart filled his ears and drowned out everything else, lulling him.
“Shh…it’s okay,” Jason assured. “It’s all over now.” The kid was white as a sheet and Jason’s heart clenched as he imagined Spinelli sprawled out on the floor as this young, innocent boy was. The thought of it terrified him. He shushed the kid, thinking of Spinelli, running calming fingers through the boy’s dark hair.
“Bu…” As good as it felt to be held and comforted, Xander wanted answers.
“Jason,” another voice, this one businesslike, broke the moment. “We gotta get out of here.”
A low growl erupted from the man who held him and Xander’s eyes widened as confusion descended upon him. Was he in Sunnydale? Was it Angel who held him in comfort? He snorted and a soft giggle escaped past his lips before he could stop it.
“Jason!” Urgent tugging pulled at the man and he was pulled up with him. “Drop the kid, we gotta leave before the PCPD arrives.”
“No, I’m not leaving him.”
“C’mon, he’s just some lousy kid, kinda reminds me a bit of Spinelli, that freak hacker,” this statement was followed by a humorless laugh.
Xander felt more than saw the shake of Jason’s head as consciousness ebbed and waned. He didn’t have a clue what was happening and wondered dispassionately if he’d make it out of Port Charles alive. One would think that, after growing up on the Hellmouth, anything would be survivable. Maybe it would be a bullet to the skull which would kill him. Just a graze, the words seemed to echo in his mind and he took minor comfort in them as he thought that if it had been just a graze, surely Jason would have left him and gone with the other man. Why would he remain with him if his injury was not lethal?
“Go,” he managed to croak out, “I…I’ll be fine.” His words came out slurred and thick as darkness encroached upon and finally overcame him.