Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear: Marcus Aurelius
Xander hovers over his duffel bag like a mother hen and spends time watching the airport crowd. Cleveland Hopkins airport is crazy busy this time of year and he’s kinda glad he said his farewells hours ago.
He’s a watcher-man now, nothing between him and Africa but a dozen Hail Mary’s and two days of travel. So he’s honing his skills in the ancient art of watcher-foo on jet-lagged travelers bug eyed from lack of sleep and in desperate need of caffeine as they ride down the escalator.
It’s all mind numbing Tinker, Tailor, Accountant, “Ooh, Peter Parker!” Who is apparently dating Storm, tch, Mary Jane, you snooze you lose. On the bright side Mary Jane’s a girl used to the weirdness, if she’s free when he returns from Africa maybe he’ll look her up.
There’s an airport security guy hovering in what he probably thinks is Xander’s blind spot but mirror, mirror on the wall works for the Xan man and hey, Xander would be flattered if this type of thing hadn’t been happening ever since he hit Cleveland.
Eye patches freak people out and make everyone from cops to security guys twitchy, who knew?
Two hours before his flight and Xander’s not thinking much of anything.
His adrenaline rush has run its course and is fast tapering off into mind numbing boredom when she steps onto the escalator.
Regal beauty has a quality and class all its own. She could be anywhere from forty to sixty, her blue dress is understated designer simplicity and the pearls he has no doubt are real.
Something catches her attention as she descends; Xander tracks her gaze to a young boy of no more than seven. The little red head is tired and none too pleased with his father’s attempt to put a jacket on him, pale cheeks are flushed and its clear from that pouting bottom lip there’s a massive temper tantrum about to erupt.
Xander muffles a laugh and looks back up to share his amusement but she’s still fixated on the boy.
Her smile is a cold wintry thing of long dried blood and bleached bones.
She is a stain, silhouetted against morning sunlight and polished steel; shadows cluster behind her like a reverse comet trail, their attempts to flee are futile and it would seem they are inexorably bound.
As shadows roil and finally coalesce, indistinct childish features with empty eyes their mouths open in silent screams.
Realization is a barbed hook to the gut.
She wears their souls much like one dons a favorite coat.
He’s up and moving, her first step off the escalator coincides with Xander’s second and he’s got nothing, nothing to kill her with but she dies today.
She turns left towards the exit.
Xander takes his third step wondering how long it takes to saw someone’s head off with an iPod cord.
He’s probably gonna miss his flight.
And maybe kiss Willow for insisting he pack a spare set of clothes in his carry bag.
Her progress stops when a guy with thinning hair and a brown suit steps out from the crowd, there’s nothing more than a regal nod as he takes her travel bag.
He can’t see a thing because some jackass wants to talk.
Only the jackass is airport security and would Sir like to please kindly go back and collect his bag?
No. Sir wouldn’t.
Sir has more important things to do right now and if Geoff likes Sir’s bag so much he can keep it, sell it, wear it as a god damn hat for all Sir cares ‘cause Sir doesn’t give a shit so long as Geoff gets outta Sir’s way!
Xander misses his flight and handcuffs are really, really uncomfortable in non stretch-y ways.
He is the crown prince of fools and she is long gone.
He will never know her name. He will never know how many she killed after that day or if she stopped before their paths crossed.
Africa, Russia and time have taught him much; some things unknown are now recognized.
For she is the type of monster mankind creates all on its own.
She is his most shameful regret, the one that never lessens.
Note: I've always imagined Xander's so called ability to see as something that impacts the mundane world. I couldn't think of anything more horrid than seeing a serial killer for who they really are.