Title: Chance Encounters 1/1
Author: Kath firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: If I owned these characters....well, I'd do lots of fun things with them and would probably never be seen again. Sadly, it's Joss that gets to have all the fun.
Rating: G; no shippy pairings, I swear!
Spoilers: Not a one, unless you've never seen either show...EVER.
Summary: Let's go back in time and play with history a bit.
Distribution: Wesleyan Aria, list archives. Free to anyone else that asks.
Feedback: Would I be writing this at 3:30 in the morning if I didn't want any?
Notes: This is obviously AU. Sort of a 'what if...?" fic. Hope you enjoy.
Fourteen year old Wesley Wyndham-Pryce shifted uncomfortably in the hard airport lounge chair, tugging at the tight collar of his shirt with one finger while watching the back of his father's neck with growing trepidation. The elder Wyndham-Pryce had been standing impatiently in line at the rental car counter for nearly twenty minutes and, if the redness creeping up the back of the man's neck and ears was any indication, he was close to loosing his temper on the unsuspecting woman employed there.
"I was told a car would be waiting for me. If you don't wish me to report your obvious incompetence to your superiors you will find me suitable transport immediately!" his father bellowed.
Wesley shuddered with embarrassment as his father's voice rose loud enough to be heard by everyone else around them. Unable to listen any further, he stood quietly and moved off to look out the enormous windows that looked out over the airport runways. On holiday from his second year at boarding school in Surrey, England, Wesley had hoped to be spending time at home, wearing jeans and t-shirts and visiting with his mother and old childhood chums. Instead, here he was in Los Angeles, California of all places, still in the dreaded suit and tie required of all boys at his school, forced to endure the company of a man who made no effort to hide his displeasure in his only son.
When he'd asked why they were going to America he'd only received the gruff response of: "Council business." That was enough to stop him from asking anything else. Born into service with the Council Of Watchers, his father's devotion to his job bordered on fanatical and Wesley knew the same would be expected of him someday. With a sigh, Wesley allowed the large jumbo jet currently maneuvering its way to the runway to distract him. Fascinated, he watched as it managed a tight 45 degree turn, waiting for its signal to proceed before gathering speed and lifting up, airborne as if by magic.
The delighted cry startled the tall, slim, British lad, who turned quickly and looked down to find a dark little girl beside him, one hand firmly wrapped around a ragged stuffed bear, the other tightly grasping the equally dark hand of - presumably - her older brother. Wesley blinked in surprise, studying the two children at his side curiously. The girl wore a pair of dark pink shorts, a light pink top with embroidered flowers along the collar, and matching plastic sandals. Her hair was pulled into thick braids jutting out at odd angles from her head. The boy wore a ragged pair of jeans, frayed at the bottom, a red t-shirt and old black high tops. He scowled at Wesley intimidatingly, despite the fact he couldn't be more than eight years old.
"What you starin' at, homeboy?" The smaller boy drew himself up to full height, projecting the air of confidence and swagger of someone twice his size. Wesley blushed and shifted his feet nervously, glancing back to find his father still otherwise occupied.
"Er, nothing. I wasn't staring, honest."
The scowl disappeared, replaced by curiosity. "Where are you from? You talk funny."
Now it was Wesley's turn to sound indignant. "No I don't."
"You sure ain't from around here."
"If I was, would I be in the airport in the first place?" Wesley countered smartly. This elicited a toothy grin from the younger boy, which Wesley found to be contagious. Soon they were both grinning and laughing.
"Hi, my name's Charles." The black boy stuck out his hand politely, all animosity apparently gone.
"Wesley." The two shook hands, until Wesley felt a tugging on his pant leg. Looking down, he smiled a friendly smile at the little girl, whose wide, brown eyes were trained on him.
"I'm hungry," she whimpered, her little lip quivering.
Flustered, Wesley began to search his pockets. "I - I'm afraid I don't - "
"Alonna, shhhh." Charles poked at his sister, causing the lip to quiver with increased abandon. "Sorry. This is my little sister Alonna. She don't know no better. She's only two. *I'm* seven, how 'bout you?"
"Oh, ah, I'm fourteen." Wesley pulled a crumpled packet from his jacket pocket and knelt down on one knee beside the little girl. "I have some crisps if you'd like them." Charles snatched the bag out of his hand and examined it suspiciously.
"Oh, potato chips. Why didn't ya say so? Here." He opened the bag wide enough for Alana to stick her hand in and both boys watched in amusement as she proceeded to get as many crumbs on the floor and her clothing as she did in her mouth.
"I wish I had a little sister," Wesley wistfully thought out loud.
"They're okay, I guess." Charles regarded his small charge thoughtfully. "A brother woulda been better though."
"Oh, well yes, that goes without saying," Wesley nodded knowingly as he shoved his slipping glasses back up his nose.
Charles leaned back against the thick glass window, his thumbs hooked in his front pockets, swinging one foot so that the rubber heel of his untied shoe thudded gently against the wall. "So, ya gonna tell me why you dress so weird and talk funny?"
"I don't..." Wesley began to protest, but then saw he was being teased. "I'm English. I'm from London. My father...." Wesley glanced back again, worried his father was going to realize he'd left his seat, but the elder man was now arguing with a different desk clerk. He decided to change the subject. "So, is your family going on a trip?"
"Nah." Charles scratched his nose then tugged down the t-shirt that was obviously too small for him. "It's just me, my mom and Alonna. Mom works here, so me and Alonna hang out and stuff. Hey, you hungry?"
Momentarily lost in the rapid-change conversational mode of a seven year old, Wesley stammered "Oh, ah, well..." Suddenly, a loud growling from his stomach answered for him. "I guess I am," he agreed, sheepishly. Charles just flashed his bright smile at him again and motioned with his head.
"C'mon." Seeing the taller boy's reluctance to leave, he added, "It's not far. C'mon!...Unless you're chicken." With that he turned and began to drag his little sister through the bustling crowds of travelers.
His honor at stake, Wesley rushed after him with a "Hey! Wait for me!" Soon they'd arrived at a booth selling hot slices of pizza. Wesley dug into his pockets again but only came up with a worn five pence piece. Lack of funds didn't seem to be bothering Charles at all though.
"Hey, Millie!" he greeted the elderly server warmly with a wave.
"Hi Charlie." She laughed at the pout sent her way. "Excuse me, I mean *Charles*. What can I do for you today...as if I don't already know."
"I got a friend here who just came from England and he's *starving*, only he don't have any of our money yet." He nudged Wesley in the ribs with a sharp elbow. "Say something, English," he whispered out of the corner of his mouth.
Wesley was torn between explaining that of course they only spoke English in England and protesting that he really didn't have any money at all, but what came out was: "How do you do, ma'am? I'm pleased to meet you."
Millie's face folded up with pleasure. "Oh, isn't that sweet. What a darling accent."
No fourteen year old boy wants to be told he's sweet or darling, but Wesley was too polite to say anything, so he merely bit at his bottom lip, shoved at his glasses again, and fidgeted. His eyes grew wide however, when Millie proceeded to slice off a huge chunk of pizza, dripping with cheese and covered in pepperoni, handing it to him on a paper plate, with a napkin.
"Here ya go, sweetie. Can't have you going hungry your first day in our country, now can I?"
"Thank you, ma'am," he responded automatically.
Millie turned to Charles. "You could learn a thing or two about manners from your friend here, Charles." She winked at Wesley, whose cheeks began to warm. Charles merely rolled his eyes and held out a hand for his own slice. Millie handed him one as large as Wesley's and a second small one for Alonna.
"Thank you, *ma'am*," he mocked before dissolving into giggles. Millie waved them off with a laugh and all three moved to one of the nearby tables to eat.
Wesley had never been allowed to eat pizza before and he eyed the dripping cheese dubiously until he watched Charles attacking his slice with both hands, stuffing one end into his mouth and chewing noisily. After a tentative nibble, he was soon following the younger boy's example.
"So, what's your pops do?" Charles mumbled, his mouth full of crust.
"My whaaat?" Wesley looked up over his pizza in confusion.
"Your pops...your father."
"Oh. He..." Wesley hesitated, not knowing what to say. Seeing the younger boy was watching him expectantly, he made a decision.
"My father works for an agency of sorts, called The Council. I'm not really supposed to talk about it," he responded cryptically.
"Secret? Like James Bond? Do they fight bad guys?" Charles bounced eagerly in his chair, the rest of his pizza forgotten.
Wesley took another bite and chewed thoughtfully. "Well, sort of, I guess, only they fight a different kind of evil." Charles' eyes were as wide as saucers. "Do you know what a vampire is?" The other boy shook his head. "Count Dracula?"
"Is he like Count Chocula?" Charles asked helpfully.
"Er, I - I don't know," Wesley stared back at him blankly. He removed his glasses, wiping them on the corner of his jacket before replacing them. "Vampires are demons that drink peoples' blood and kill them."
"Quite," Wesley agreed.
"And your old man kills 'em? Charles excitedly mimed a karate chop, just nearly missing knocking his plate to the floor.
"Well, no. But he helps train those that do. They're called watchers, and someday I'm expected to be one." He puffed up proudly.
"Cool! Will you get a gun? Can I be one too?"
"Oh, guns don't kill them," the future watcher explained knowingly. "Only fire, a stake through the heart, or decapitation does that."
Wesley grinned wickedly and ran one finger ominously across Charles' throat, rather enjoying the younger boy's enthusiasm and awe. "Cutting their heads off."
"Whoa!" The youngster's expression had evolved into something akin to hero worship. "And *you're* gonna do that?"
"Of course." He shrugged nonchalantly, momentarily forgetting his usual uneasiness about his planned future.
"Then I'm gonna fight 'em too, when I'm bigger," Charles decided, with a firm nod of his head. Humoring the boy, Wesley reached inside his shirt and pulled out a gold chain.
"Well, if you do, you'd better carry a cross, like this. It's one of the few protections humans have against vampires."
"Oooh, pretty," Alonna piped up, her gaze resting adoringly on the cross dangling from Wesley's fingers. Immediately he lifted the chain over his head and leaned over the table, slipping the necklace over Alonna's small head.
"There you go."
Charles nudged his sister and hissed, "What do you say?"
"Tank you," she whispered, all her attention on her new prize.
Wesley had just leaned back in his chair when he felt it being violently ripped away from the table.
"WESLEY!" His father's anger reverberated down his spine like an earthquake. "What the hell do you think you're doing? Can't you follow even the simplest of orders?"
"Father, I -" Before he could explain he was yanked up out of his seat by the collar of his jacket and forced to face the red-faced man.
"I don't want to hear any of your feeble excuses." His father struck him hard across the side of his head, causing tears to spring to his eyes. "I can see you can't be trusted out of my sight even for a second." Realizing passersby were staring and whispering, the Englishman firmly gripped his son by the elbow and began to drag him away. Charles stared after them, his mouth hanging open in surprise, then jumped up to follow, pulling Alonna with him. Wesley turned back as best he could and managed a half wave.
"It was nice meeting you. Thanks for the pizza." His father leaned over and growled in his ear.
"Shut up, boy! What have I told you about associating with *that* kind?"
Charles could only wave back, his face a mask of sorrow and understanding. Even in his short life he'd seen far too many kids treated that way not to know what was going on. He shook his head slowly and took Alonna by the hand.
"Poor kid. C'mon, let's go find Mom."
Wesley leaned against the cool car window and gently reached up to feel his ear. The throbbing had subsided somewhat, but he knew it would probably remain red for days. It wasn't anything he wasn't already used to. Looking out, he could see his father on the other side of a chain link fence, in the play yard of the preschool they'd driven to, talking at length with a tall woman dressed in a suit jacket and skirt. Most likely a teacher, the boy decided. Between them was a small girl, not much bigger than Alonna had been. Her long blonde hair was pulled up into pony tails that bounced up and down along with the rest of her.
The elder Wyndham-Pryce squatted down, presumably to examine the little girl closely. He was talking, but Wesley wasn't sure if it was to the child or the teacher. He recognized the dark expression on his father's face and was rather impressed that the girl didn't appear to be fazed by it at all. She was beaming a friendly smile and seemed to be chattering away to herself. Or maybe it was to his father. Either way, after a few more minutes his father stood up and he and the woman disappeared back inside the building. Wesley watched as the little girl ran off to join her friends at the swings.
When his father returned to the car, curiosity got the better of the young man. "Who was that, Father?" His muscled involuntarily tensed, waiting for a potential blow. His father finished lighting his cigarette and took a puff before answering.
"Potential slayer," he grunted before taking another long drag.
Wesley looked back out the window in surprise, then back at his father. "Really? Are you going to train her then?" He felt his heart beating faster in excitement.
"Nah," his father dismissed the thought quickly. "I didn't see much potential there. Bloody wasted trip." Wesley's shoulders sagged a bit in disappointment. His father turned the key in the ignition and let out a sarcastic snort. "Besides, who ever heard of a slayer called *Buffy*?"
As the car pulled away from the curb, Wesley couldn't resist turning back for one last look at the girl, running carefreely around the
playground. Part of him envied her. Her destiny remained her own.