I am so sorry I missed the deadline - I suck.
Title: Tales from a Moroccan Knight
Setting: post-Chosen. Mostly. Morocco, mostly. :)
Characters: Xander, Faith, Anika (OC), Hessa (OC), other OCs will appear further down the line.
Disclaimer: The characters of Xander and Faith and the basic concepts behind this story remain the property of their rightful owners, none of whom are me. The original characters herein are my creation as are the plots of these tales.
Author's Notes: Written for ludditerobot's Scatterlings and Orphanages Africander ficathon - the masterlist for which is here. Thank you to Monkey for checking this over for me and convincing me it doesn't suck. This is intended to be reminiscent of the Arabian Nights tales, hence the crappy title - any suggestions for a better title much appreciated!, and as such could go on for a while! Although Faith is present, this is not intended to be a 'ship' story, the focus here is intended to be on Xander and Morocco.
The market square was busier than usual - throngs of people trying to make their way through the opportunistic hawkers and the water sellers dressed in their outrageously garish outfits - no doubt making far more money charging the tourists for photographs than they ever would selling ladles full of drinking water. Xander leaned back in his seat and watched the crowd of tourists mix with the throng.
It never ceased to amuse him how animated the locals would become whenever a tourist coach pulled up. Maybe these foreigners with their too-bright clothes and their cameras apparently permanently attached to their eyes thought they were seeing Moroccan life as it really was - that the hawkers were always so loud and always spoke in that broken pidgin English that sounded so quaint and 'otherworldly'. After all, it had taken him an hour of sitting in this same seat to notice the pattern for himself. The truth was, though, for the better part of the day these people were just getting through the day - same as anyone else.
He smiled a little as he realised that he had just moved himself out of the 'foreigner' category. It had only been two months since he stepped onto the tarmac at Tangier Airport with no clue why he'd agreed to come here. As soon as he had walked out of the terminal he'd wondered what the hell he'd been thinking by coming here - yes, he'd wanted to do something completely different - something he'd never have had the chance to do any other time. But still…
Yeah, this definitely fit into the 'completely different' category. Everything was alien - he didn't fit in here, this wasn't, and could never be, home. And didn't that just segue straight into thoughts of other places he could never call home. Everything he'd ever known was at the bottom of a very large crater - unstable tectonic activity they were calling it now. Inevitable given the geographic location really. The so-called experts had shaken their heads sagely and said it was just to be expected, as they had packed up their samples and left.
There had been no talk of rebuilding the town, no power-mad maniacal wannabe-demonic-mayors showed up talking of regeneration - the survivors all packed up whart they could and got as far away as possible. Some of them no doubt making new homes where they stopped.
And he had come to Africa.
"I'm bored - what time is it?" He stopped scanning the square and turned to answer the question.
"About two minutes after you last asked." His smile felt false but he doubted she would pick up on that. "You know, they've managed to shrink clocks down to a size you could wear on your wrist - you might want to look into that."
"Why bother? It's not like I care what time it is - only reason I'm asking is 'cause I'm bored." Faith propped her feet up on one of the spare chairs at the corner table they were occupying. The café front was open to the square giving the illusion of being a pavement café while keeping the customers shaded from the sun. Xander had come here every day since he'd found the place and would spend hours just watching people in silence. It felt almost like… not home, but maybe like a long-term rental lease with an option to buy.
Of course, the chances of Faith letting him get away with people-watching today were pretty much nil. Sure enough, as if on cue she dropped her feet to the ground and leaned forward, elbows on the table, and stared at him.
"Talk to me."
He sighed, "About what?"
"Anything," she said. "Seems like we never really talk. 'fact, now I think about it, I don't think we said two words to each other back in the 'Dale."
He shrugged and looked down at the tea glass in front of him. "Yeah, 'cause we have so much to talk about - maybe the good old times… Oh, wait! That's right - our old times don't exact count as 'good' do they?" The bitterness in his voice was something he hadn't really expected and he almost apologised. Almost. Instead he picked up the glass he'd been examining and took a long swallow. Sometimes he really wished alcohol wasn't illegal in this country. Immediately the thought crossed his mind he shook his head, yeah 'cause that would make a fantastic impression on Anika's aunt. God he hated this - it was like meeting a new girlfriend's family except less of the honourable intentions questions and more along the lines of 'is she going to die?' And he'd thought it would be simpler if there was someone else there to back him up, someone who knew what this kind of life. And that someone had ended up being Faith.
The silence that had developed was threatening to deafen him. Eventually he looked up to see her still watching him, evaluating him. He shifted a little in his seat, suddenly not feeling so comfortable in this little corner of Jemaa l-Fna square. As he opened his mouth to say the automatic sorry he had tried to suppress she stopped him.
"Tell me a story."
"A story? What is this, Sesame Street?"
She grinned but it looked false to Xander. "Nah, s'just - look, don't worry about it, it's just something…" She stopped and looked down. "Forget it."
Putting the empty glass down he reached over and touched her arm, wondering a little at the way she tensed instantly, "Hey. What is it?"
She leaned back in her chair, breaking the contact, and looked out over the square. "S'just, stories are important - y'know? Sometimes they're all you got."
"Oh-kay…" He puzzled over that a little, stories were all you had? How did she come up with that one? Then he remembered the first time he'd met Faith - the tales she'd told of her Slaying escapades on the road to Sunnydale, the story of the Vamp Wannabe Mafia Don with his pet alligator featuring high in his memory, and he got it.
It was kinda sweet in a way, her stories back then had made her part of the gang for a while, connected them all, this was like a second chance.
He racked his brains: jokes, yes; eulogies, maybe; stories? Not so much… Then an idea struck him and he grinned. "A long time ago," she looked up with a puzzled frown on her face. He continued undaunted, "In a galaxy far, far away…" He ducked as she swiped her hand at the back of his head - blindsiding him no less - and grinned. "Sorry, my stock of scintillating stories is pretty limited though."
Her frown deepened. "You're kidding, right?"
"No. Why would I have any fascinating fables?"
"Enough with the alliteration already. You lived in Sunnydale all your life right?" He nodded not sure where she was going with this. "And you knew what was really going on for a good long time. You still think you've got no good stories?"
He smiled a little, "I guess if you want to put it like that, I got enough to make a five or six season TV show, only what network would ever air it?" His smile faltered, "I don't much talk about Sunnydale though - still too soon, y'know?"
She nodded, "Yeah, I do." This time it was her who reached across and patted his hand, albeit a little awkwardly. "So what about later then? I mean look at you - Africa? S'got to be a tale or two in there. Take a for instance - how'd you find out about Anika?"
"Ani? Not much of a story - heard some rumours that maybe some vamps were fixing to settle down in Fez, went to check it out and met her there. Turned out she was a Slayer and she took down the nest."
Faith rolled her eyes. "Y'know, you suck at telling stories."
He shrugged a little, "That's what happened, what more can I tell you?
"Maybe how she got involved, where you heard the rumours from, how you knew she was a Slayer? You know - add a little narrative content in there, maybe even some human interest, *then* you'll have yourself a story, mister."
Xander smiled, she was really into this whole thing. He checked his watch, still another hour or so before Anika was due to meet them, he had time and hell, maybe it'd even be fun.
He opened his mouth to speak again but Faith held up a finger to stop him and turned to catch the waiter's attention. She rattled off an order in fluent French and as the waiter returned with a large pot of coffee and two cups Xander was still gaping at Faith. "How did…"
"That's a story for another time." She said. "Tell me Anika's tale."
So he did.
...to be continued in Anika's Tale...