Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Labyrinth
Summary: The past is never as far behind you as you might wish. Jessica Harris is closer than she'd wish.
AN: I've got a story stuck in my head. I don't need it there. No. No. No. But it's my baby, Xander. I can't deny him. Enjoy.
Xander pulled the pillow over his head, and wondered if it were possible to suffocate this way. And how long it would take. Rolling over he tried to tune out the shouting. It was impossible. Not with his mother actively participating. She only did that when she was sober; another hellmouthy portent of doom. She'd been surprisingly sober for over a month. With nary an A.A. meeting in sight. He was just waiting for the rain of toads, and the Hellmouth to open.
He pressed the pillow closer, then let go with a wince as his fingers brushed the bruises on his throat. A week later, and they still hurt. No matter what Giles said he couldn't help feeling the fool. Actually, thinking someone really gave a damn about him. Hell his own mother barely tolerated him. But then he'd ruined her life, so what did he expect. Christmas eve's revelations weren't exactly that surprising. Not with Da-Tony always referring to him as the little bastard. Apparently, he really was and his mother blamed him for wrecking her marriage. Everything had been going so well, and now his life appeared to be falling down around him.
Starting with the revelation that he wasn't Tony Harris' son (though that wasn't necessarily a bad thing). The family he'd made for himself seemed to be leaving him behind. He might just possibly not be as human as he'd once thought. Ending with losing his virginity to a girl who'd later tried to murder him. It was official his life sucked. Hard. Pushing up from the bed, he climbed to his feet. He couldn't stay here. Moving as quietly as he could he slid his window open, climbing out. Nimbly, moving from the roof to the gutter, and sliding down the drain spout.
Brainless to be out this time of night. He knows this. At the moment there was nowhere he was wanted. He was persona non grata with Willow, especially now that she'd gotten back together with Oz. And that hurt in ways, that made what Faith did pale in comparison. His sister had sacrificed their relationship for the sake of another.
The key to Giles place burned in his pocket. Except more often than not lately, Buffy was there. As he walked his thoughts grew darker. He couldn't help but feel she was taking his place. He snorted in disgust. Yeah, right. You were more likely the substitute, no matter how close you thougth you and Giles were getting. Xander stopped abruptly, looking around. Not really surprised it seemed familiar. He knew he was only a block or so from Giles apartment. Bad feet. No biscuit, he muttered, before turning back toward home.
No matter what he did or how he struggled everything he cared for seemed to slip through his fingers. He couldn't seem to get away from his dark thoughts, and endless mocking loop. His mother loathed him. Willow abandoned him. To Giles he was second, no third best. Buffy thought he was a joke. For that matter so did Faith. That too hurt more than he liked to think about. What he'd thought, even if it had been a blur, was the beginnings of a connection had been nothing more than a joke. He was a joke. Xander ignored the odd sheen the world had taken on as he scrambled back up the drain.
He was halfway back inside when the bedroom door swung open. He looked up into Tony's pissed off gaze. "Where do you think you're going ya' little shit," growled the man he'd once thought was his father. In his eyes was the bitter disgust he'd always had for his stepson.
"Nowhere, Dad." He was quiet, respectful. Not wanting to provoke him.
Tony snorted. "Don't be stupid, well any stupider. I know you heard us," he slurred. "I for one am glad I don't have to pretend you're my kid anymore."
Xander pulled himself all the way into the room, but remained silent.
"Get your ass downstairs and clean up the mess your mother made," grunted Tony. Xander sidled past but couldn't quite dodge the pop to the back of his neck. His eyes teared as it caught a bruise, but he swallowed the cry of pain. He deliberately ignored the thought that he'd been doing that a lot lately. Swallowing his pain.
Fortunately the two of them hadn't completely destroyed the living room. So it only took him an hour to clean up the broken glass, and straighten the room. He escaped back upstairs with only another fingerpop to the back of his neck to emphasize his unwanted status.
Xander shut the door, stripping as he crossed the room. Passing the light switch he flicked it off, climbing into bed. In the dark he let the tears come. His soul giving a silent cry against the barren future he saw looming before him. A quite plea escaping on a breatheless exhale before sleep claimed him.
A nearly soundless whisper. A wish birthed of true despair. A ripple that built as it drifted out into the night.
Three rooms away, Jessica tossed restlessly dreams plagued with fears, as Tony slept beside her dead to the world. Blocks away, Giles started awake, before rolling over and falling back into sleep.
A growing wave of power that breached the mystical barriers surrounding the Hellmouth.
Willow shifted in her bed, a tiny frown marring her brow. In her bed, Buffy dreamed of shadows and smoke.
Tearing through the supernatural world like a tsunami.
In the darkness, eyes opened.
Xander paused in the doorway of the kitchen, frozen in shock. His mother was up, and making breakfast. He contemplated the real need for ice-skates in the near future. He was certain there was a pair somewhere in the basement, left over from the hockey phase he and Jesse had briefly gone through.
"Good morning, Alexander," said Jessica, dumping another pancake onto the platter. Xander eyed her warily, scooting by her to get to the fridge.
"Morning." He pulled open the fridge, and once again marveled at the stocked shelves. "Umm, not that I don't appreciate it but why are you cooking?"
His mom was silent. Xander reluctantly pulled his head out of the fridge. She was staring off into the distance.
Jessica slowly pulled her thoughts back into the present, gaze meeting his. She didn't know what to say. But after last night's dreams, she knew nothing would ever be the same. "Things are gonna change, Alexander. I thought I'd get a head start."I hope the little devils know how to ice-skate,
thought Xander as his mother fell silent again.
Xander left for school, thoroughly wigged. His mother's behavior cinched it. Something hellmouthy was happening. He had to tell Giles. 'Cause whatever this was, could possibly be as big as the Ascension. As he walked he tried to get his thoughts straight. He wanted his facts clear when he pointed out the uber weirdness to Giles.
Fact one: his mom was sober. Sober and making breakfast even. It was right up there with a rain of stones in his opinion. Fact two: he carried a birthmark tattoo gibbered a tiny voice
that was the exact match for the symbol of the Sidhe. Fact three: he was a bastard. A bastard who might not be as human as he'd once thought. Oh yeah, he was in panic mode. The library was his first stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
As he neared the doors, he could hear the gang. It didn't surprise him. The closer they got to graduation the more frequent and desperate their meetings grew. He pushed open the doors. "Hello, people. I bring you tidings of the end."
Giles was the only one to acknowledge his arrival. The librarian looking up, giving a tiny smile before returning to research.
Buffy and Angel were supposedly researching, but in actuality exchanging tormented looks over their individual books. Xander rolled his eyes, wondering if they ever got tired of it. Which was why he couldn't bring himself to care that Mini-Giles was ogling Cordelia as he warily quizzed Faith. Willow and Oz were all cuddly as they shared a text. All in all everyone looked quite comfy without him. He hesitated, suddenly not quite as sure about his conclusions. He didn't want to be accused of making mountains out of molehills. Or be told he was seeing shadows where there weren't any. Maybe it was nothing. Except, nothing was now tingling.
Xander stiffened, hand shooting down to his birthmark. Caught up in his worries he'd been unaware of the steadily increasing warmth. It was unavoidable now. Forgetting for the moment where he was he traced the shape.
Of course, that was when Cordelia decided to take note of his presence. "Another example of your failure to evolve beyond an ape, Xander. Though come to think of it, I'm pretty sure if they had more privacy they wouldn't grope themselves in public either."
Xander blushed, yanking his hand away from the mark. He stuttered incoherently for a bit as the gang finally focused on him. "Shut it, Cordy," he snapped, at last.
"Oh, brilliant come back, Zeppo."
Xander opened his mouth, then snapped it shut. He did not have time for this. Instead turning to the librarian. "Giles, I need to talk to you. There's something wrong with me-"
"I hope it's a raging case of v.d.," snapped Cordelia.
"Cordelia enough," said Giles. She quieted but her dark eyes glowed with suppressed venom. "Xander, we're a little busy. I'm sure whatever it is can wait."
Xander shook his head. "NO. No. I can't. Something uber-hellmouthy is going on. For God's sake, my mom's been sober for a month!"
Giles frowned at the words, not liking the implication behind them. Wondering exactly what that meant. He'd known Xander's home life left much to be desired but to make such a comment. Still, now was not the time. "While I appreciate the sentiment behind that, it's not exactly a portent of doom."
"Oh, I beg to differ," said Xander as he began pacing. "It is so a portent of doom. Let me enumerate the ways."
Jessica hadn't moved from the kitchen since Xander had left. She knew her time was coming. You always had to pay the piper. She just hoped she'd be able to protect Xander. Sighing, she turned to dump her coffee in the sink.
She stiffened as she heard 'that' sound. She hadn't heard it once since she'd stopped drinking. Though she'd been waiting for it. She turned slowly, half certain nothing would be there. Except...
They tumbled down the stairs; three glittering spheres. Chiming, and tinkling as they spilled down the steps until they reached the bottom and burst.
"Alexander," she whimpered. Scrambling for her keys, Jessica fled from the house in a mad rush.
"One, my mom is never sober. Ever. Yet, since I found that book...."
"What book," asked Willow. For the first time in months concentrating on Xander. Unlike the others she had an inkling of the importance of Mrs. Harris being sober.
Before Xander could speak, the building shook. Books tumbled from their shelves. Lights flickered.
"Tell me the hellmouth's not opening again," shrieked Buffy, climbing to her feet from where she'd been flung out of her chair. As the others found their feet, cries from all around the school could be heard. 'My God,' echoed from outside. 'Look at the sky!'
Giles lunged for the back doors, flinging them open. Buffy hurried to his side, both slayer and watcher staring up in awe. Lightning danced across the pale blue horizon. Blinding flashes of sliver and ebony streaks, with nary a cloud in sight. The building quaked again as a sound like a sonic boom filled the air. "Thunder and lightning," muttered Giles, mind working as he tried to think of a mention of such odd phenomena in any prophecy.
"Something frightening," whispered Buffy as she stared up at the lightning filled sky. The unnatural nature of the storm clear to everyone.
Giles turned back to Xander. "Xander what," he stopped abruptly as he spotted the stranger. "What do you want?" barked Giles, stepping forward. Wary of how close the man was to where his son was standing. The question caught the others attention and they turned back to the library.
Buffy stalked into the room. Hackles rising as she observed the intruder. He gave her the wiggins.
The blond man said nothing. A sly grin, flirting along the curves of his mouth.
Xander stood mesmerized unable to move. The eyes holding him still, much like a rabbit before a viper.
The stranger flung his arm out, his cloak spilling into the air like smoke and shadows made solid, and enveloped Xander. They were gone before another word was spoken.
Silence reigned for a timeless second. Then...
"Giles, what was that?"
"Xander," shrieked Willow. "Someone stole my Xander."
"Woah," muttered Oz.
"My word. That was..." sputtered Wesley. "No. It couldn't be. Could it? Mr. Giles?"
"I didn't know that the bad guys could do that," yelled Cordelia. "Oh my god! What if he comes back? What is he going to do to us? Or Xander? Not that I care."
"Uh, what just made off with Boytoy?" asked Faith, hopping up on the counter.
Buffy and Willow's cries became more strident. Having the child he saw as a son snatched from before his eyes had done nothing for Giles' patience. If anything it had shortened it considerably. "Buffy if you don't...."
Whatever he'd been about to say was cut off by the slamming open of the library doors. Wide-eyed, panting like a winded horse stood Jessica Harris.
Her gaze darted wildly around the room. "Alexander," she cried, stumbling further into the room. "Where is Alexander?"
Once again chaos reigned as the others began to shout out questions and accusations. The din grew to near incoherent levels.
Buffy's demands for information. Willow's demands alternated between the return of Xander and how Mrs. Harris had known Xander was gone. Even Wesley added to the confusion, questioning Mrs. Harris sudden appearance. Cordelia's worried questions about future abductions joined with Faith's curious inquires. Though in her case it was to see what she needed to convey to the Boss's. To this Mrs. Harris's cries for Alexander.
"Silence," roared Giles, worry adding to the force behind his cry.
Surprisingly enough every quieted for a second. Buffy opened her mouth after the intial shock wore off. Giles' gaze snapped to her. She shut it. "Not another bloody word out of the lot of you," he growled. Meeting everyone's gaze, one at a time, until they either cowed or nodded in agreement. Finally, he turned to Mrs. Harris who stood in the center looking lost. Her arms wrapped tightly aroudn herself as she muttered frantically.
He took a tentative step toward her. Her head snapped up and fear stirred in his heart. The look of grief and terror in her eyes, unmistakable. She kenw what was going on. Xander's words rang in his ears. 'My mom is sober. She's never sober.' Her sudden fortuitous arrival shortly after Xander's abduction. She knew what had happened to his charge. Mother or not he would have answers.
"Mrs. Harris, would you be so kind as to tell me," he snarled, stepping closer. Menace clear in his every gesture. "Why the Goblin King himself has abducted Xander?" He watched as his words registered, and the woman fell apart.
Jessica's knees buckled, and she hit the floor with a bone jarring thud. "He's gone," she moaned, sinking into herself. "He's gone." She couldn't...
Giles knelt beside the muttering woman. Hands locked around her shoulders, before he'd thought, he gave her a rough shake. "Tell me what's happened to my son," he hissed in her ear.
She lifted sad, unseeing eyes. If they saw anything it was far beyond the borders of these halls. "I'm sorry, Toby. So sorry." She sobbed, passing out as all of the stress caught up with her.
There's such a sad love
Deep in your eyes.
A kind of pale jewel
Open and closed
Within your eyes.
I'll place the sky
Within your eyes.
As the World Falls Down -- David Bowie