PROLOGUE: Waking up lost
Disclaimer: do not own characters of Buffy universe, Echo universe - they belong to Joss Whedon and Max Fry. I like my story idea so far, so HAND OFF! there. Otherwise, I'm happily leeching of Whedon's/Fry's successes.
He woke up because sun rays were trying to pierce his slightly throbbing eyelids. It was surprising, too, considering the fact he’d moved the bed to stand at an angle, which should make it impossible for sunlight to reach him before the alarm clock’s jiggling did the dirty waking-up work. On the other hand, his raging alcoholic bastard of a father had pulled the “drop annoying alarm clock down the flight of stairs” stint often enough for Xander to feel totally unsurprised if slightly vengeful at that turn of events. Still, there was something else bothering him… Analyzing and interpreting the signals his body tried to send him, he suddenly understood that he was NOT on the bed. Well, that could lead to different degrees of badness. He could have fallen off. He could have had a crazy Scooby party with Buffster and Wills and one thing lead to another and… he forced himself to stop his weird morning imagination from continuing that line of thought, if only to stop the stupid drool from covering him whole. That still left less fun, but more probable alternative. The explanation which took his luck into account. Meaning the probability someone actually kidnapped him to either mate with him or eat him. Though, considering the way he was feeling, he probably woke up after the fact… “E-eeew… Bad thoughts, bad thoughts…”
He groaned and managed to pry his eyes open and could not help staring. There were people all around him, wearing… were that dresses?.. lo’ohi...
He suddenly felt as if something was rolling out of the darkest recesses of his consciousness “They’re… wearing lo’ohi
and turbans. Well, talk about freaky. Well, maybe not Algel-creepy, but still… ohtshit, ohshit, ohshit…”
His head was spinning like a carousel, and turning and he remembered children in the costumes and then the monsters, and suddenly Xander was in the back of his head, and then deeper and he met the Others who were before The Present One. And on the forefront was he, the only hope of the World of Echo – or was it Echo of the World? He remembered a phrase which greatly offended him somewhere down the line – or would have, had he been capable of holding grudge for longer than it is needed to express indignation about it: “He’s not even a man – just someone’s figment of imagination”… That self-taught gypsy was right in the end, come to think of it.
Xander… no, it was Sir Max in his glorious Death Robes… his life was spinning in front of him, as if trying to find a better angle for demonstration… fentan staring hungrily from the mirror… a little scared box afraid of talking even to the adepts of Invisible Magic… his long-standing friend, the calm killer Shurf Lonley-Lockley… King Menin loved waling this streets, looking at the incredible ornaments… and unforgettable Melifaro, whose parents were lazy enough to forget to give their son a name, leaving him only with a surname to use (and his quips about himself and Max being Day Ass and Night Ass instead of Day Face and Night Face of their Boss)… The incredible loveably scary Boss, sir Juffin Halley… And his predecessor Sir Kofa Joh’h, Master Eater-Listener, the spy wandering the streets in unbelievable disguises… chaotic multiworld of newlyreborn Kettary village… A cook trying to prepare a pate from unforgettable (to everyone’s deepest regrets) Sir Bubuta Boch… The bodies of victims of the epidemia, falling dead after his order… Friendly Magister Nuflin Moni Mah trying to take over his body and almost succeeding…
It kept spinning in his mind, sir Max, sir Max, SIR MAX… But in the end, - “As it should have been” –it felt as though someone whispered that phrase into his brain -, Max dived within and brought forth Xander, screaming and kicking, and a vision of Willow crying over gravestones, and frantically whispering some things he could not hear. But no, that was irrelevant, considering situation. Unless someone died on Halloween, “the most peaceful night of the year”… Shit! That was it. Someone had to have done something on the Halloween! He could vaguely recall a ghostly redhead telling him of the spell and himself refusing to go anywhere with her, when he could help, and shooting his unique version of the Balls of Death at poor demonic saps making them patrol and provide safety for your honest-on-the-way-to-early-grave Sunnydalians…Yep, his life was just a fun and daisies. Mutant elephant-sized man-eating daisies, of course. He guessed he shouldn’t have believed G-man’s assurances, or should have understood that “demons have a quiet night on Halloween” did not mean everyone else does too. So there was a chance that some crazy-witch-Catherine-wannabe had decided to liven night up, or maybe they created distraction for the robbery of the Centrury… Ri-iight.
“Gee, talk about distracted… How did I get into freaking ECHO of all things?” – His mind immediately supplemented him with a picture of sensing world-altering magic tearing the holes in probabilities and following it directly to the source. Seeing the surprised face of shop proprietor Ethan Rayne as the Corridor of Worlds used the entry to the doorway as a way to get sir Max to visit again… sad, really. Thankfully – or not, - Xander’s world unlike sir Max’s was much more open to idea of its children hiking to the other dimensions (what other choice did it have with all the hellmouths?). So, not being clingy, world let them go to play elsewhere – and thankfully the dull reality of Sir Max has not noticed the new creature as hers. Therefore they came to the world Max considered his real home – Echo. And considering the nature of the spell – at least Xander hoped that was it – sir Max left, though possibly there were some leftovers. For example, irritatingly strong love for this strange city – really it even graded almost on the same level as Xander’s love for Twinkies, and that was saying something – and the intimate knowledge of the streets of Echo. And… did the road just whisper a greeting?