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Title: Care and feeding 101 - Food
Series: Care and Feeding
Author: Devo79
Characters: Angel and Xander
Rating: PG13
A/N: A continuation of the fic Care and feeding, more will follow.

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Angel walked down the street, aware of the stares he was getting from the three women standing on the sidewalk. He could faintly hear small scuttling steps behind him and he deliberately slowed down.

“Hey, baby,” one of the women grinned at Angel, “You got a puppy?” she pointed a red long nailed finger at the child following him.

“Mind your own business, Mandy,” he said just as the boy caught up with him and uncertainly stood a few feet away staring at the dirty sidewalk.

“He’s hurt,” another one of the scantily clad women said and glared at Angel. She stalked over to the boy and crouched down, oddly elegant despite her high heels and skimpy skirt. “You okay, kiddo?” she asked.

The boy looked over at Angel, then stared hard at a scrap of paper on the dirty sidewalk and nodded his head.

“You sure, Sweety?” Mandy said and didn’t take her eyes of Angel.

“Uh huh,” came the faint reply from the child.

“Where’s your mommy?” the youngest of the three women asked and popped her pink bubble gum.

The boy shrugged and looked down at his hands.

“Let’s go,” Angel said and held out his hand. Mandy’s eyes narrowed when she saw the dried blood on the back of his hand. She looked over at the child. The small cut on the boy’s forehead had stopped bleeding but it was still obvious that he had been hurt.

“If you…” she started but immediately stopped talking when Angel turned his head and looked at her.

“Trust me, Mandy,” he said quietly, “He won’t get hurt…not anymore.” The child reached out for Angel’s hand and tentatively took it. He flinched when Angel put his other hand on the boy’s narrow shoulder.

“He’s looking,” the youngest of the women said and nodded at someone standing on the other side of the street.

A tall muscular man stood next to a big red convertible. His arm was in a cast. The white dressing stood out against the blood red shirt he was wearing. The man glared menacingly at Angel.

“We told him,” Mandy moved closer to Angel and rubbed her slim hand up and down his upper arm, “that you’re our new man.”

Angel started and pulled away from Mandy.

The bubblegum chewing girl stroked her fingers over the big bruise on her cheek, “He hasn’t tried anything since you broke his arm,” she whispered and nervously looked from Angel to the man on the other side of the street.

“Here,” Mandy pushed a small roll of bills into Angel’s hand and he moved away as if her touch burned him.

“I don’t want your money,” Angel held out his hand, offering the money back to Mandy, “I’m not your…” he searched for the word, “I’m not your pimp.”

“Take the money,” she took a step back, “All he has to think is that you’re our new pimp,” she licked her lips and Angel could see where the lipstick didn’t quite cover her split lower lip, “Please.”

--------------------------------------------------

Angel unlocked the door to his small apartment and stepped back. The little boy stood further down the hall, one hand on the grey concrete wall.

“You coming?” Angel asked and tilted his head at the door. The boy didn’t move so Angel simply walked in, put the small roll of bills on the old hallway table and took his coat off. He was draping it over one of the wooden chairs in the small living room when he heard the front door creak and close.

Angel pretended not to notice the boy as he turned on the lamp on the floor by the door. The lampshade was missing and the naked bulb lit up most of the room with its glaring white beam.

“What’s your name?” he turned and looked down at the kid. The boy was once again staring at the floor. “Look at me,” Angel said and the kid’s head snapped up so fast it startled the vampire, “What’s your name?” he repeated in a softer voice.

“X-x-xander,” the stuttering voice finally managed.

“Well, Xander,” Angel said as he sat down on the edge of the brown couch, “Looks like we’ll be spending some time together so…” he looked around the apartment. Truth was that he had no idea what to do now.

“I,” the boy started.

“Yes?” Angel leant forward and looked into the boy’s brown eyes.

“Need to pee,” was said almost as if it was a question. Angel abruptly stood up and didn’t notice the boy hunch his shoulders.

“Okay…pee…yes,” the vampire looked around the room, “There’s a toilet right in there,” he pointed at the dark hallway leading further into the apartment, “I’ll show you. It flushes and everything.”

----------------------------------------------------

Xander stood with his shoulders hunched up around his ears. Angel watched the boy for a second. The child just stood there in front of the toilet, his small hands clutching at the hem of his t-shirt.

“Um…Don’t you need to pee?” Angel asked.

The little boy very slowly unzipped his pants and fumbled with them and it suddenly hit Angel that Xander was shy, “I’ll just wait out there,” he said and hooked a thumb over his shoulder, “In the living room, okay?” no answer was forthcoming so he just turned and walked out of the grey tiled room.

A few minutes later Xander appeared again. He had a small wet spot on the front of his pants and he kept pulling his t-shirt down as if trying to hide it.

Angel pointed at the couch, “Why don’t you sit down? I’ll…I need to go…” he stared around the room desperately searching for something to do, “I’ll be in the bathroom…if you need anything.”

-----------------------------------------------------

Sometimes having a reflection would be very helpful.

Like right now as he poured water on his face and then stared at the empty mirror. He could feel the water drops sliding down his face, dripping onto his white undershirt, but he couldn’t see it. And for some reason he really needed to see his own face. Needed to look into his own eyes and ask if he had completely lost it. Had he gone completely mad? What the hell was he supposed to do with a little kid?

Drying off his hands in the towel hanging on the back of the door, he ran a damp hand through his hair.

------------------------------------------------

The living room was cast in shadows when he returned.

The boy still sat, like a statue, on the edge of the couch. Angel studied him for a second taking in his thin frame and the pale skin. He didn’t meet a lot of children and couldn’t tell if Xander was of average size for his age or not. Still, he did seem awfully small as he sat there staring at the tips of his worn out shoes barely touching the sickly yellow carpet. If it wasn’t for the fact that Angel could hear him breathing he’d swear the child was a mannequin. The boy sat completely frozen, his breaths quiet but his heartbeat was hammering away.

Then a quiet growl came from the boy’s stomach.

“You’re hungry,” Angel exclaimed, happy that there was at least something simple he could take care of.

The head lifted a tiny bit and brown eyes looked at him from behind dark bangs.

“You better answer me or…” Angel stopped talking when the boy’s face went impossibly white and the small head started nodding up and down.

“Or I won’t…” Angel continued, “know if you need food.”

The boy stopped moving and returned to staring at his shoes.

---------------------------------------------------

Looking through the kitchen cupboards revealed that Angel didn’t actually own anything edible. He might not have eaten anything himself in decades but he was fairly sure a can of tomato soup, 12 years past its sell by date, wasn’t proper food for a child.

He tossed the can of soup in the trash bag by the sink.

----------------------------------------------------

There was so much of it. All of it in bright colored bags and boxes with words like “New flavor” or “Best Price” screaming out at him from yellow stickers. Humans needed to eat. He remembered that much. He just had no idea if tiny humans with pale faces and an inclination to study their own shoes needed to eat something special.

Sighing deeply, he just started taking boxes of the shelves and filling his cart.

--------------------------------------------

The boy was not sitting on the couch when he returned from his trip to the supermarket. The couch was empty and the living room silent. He quietly put the grocery bags down on the floor by the front door.

Someone was in the apartment, breathing in the bedroom.

He walked past the couch and down the small hallway. The people in the pictures on the walls blankly stared out at him as he passed them.

He didn’t know any of them. The previous owner had left them behind. Not that Angel had actually given him a chance to pack up his belongings. It would have been pretty hard for the poor excuse of a man to do so. Two broken arms and four missing fingers didn’t combine very well with carefully packing up ones belongings.

The bedroom was dark and almost completely silent.

“I know you’re in here,” Angel said quietly.

A shuffling from under the bed made Angel kneel down next to it and look under the wooden bedframe. A pair of big frightened brown eyes looked back at him.

“I…” Angel noticed how the boy flinched when he spoke and backed a little away from where he was kneeling, “I bought you some food. Lots of…uh…colors.”

The boy just kept staring. His eyes following Angel’s every move.

----------------------------------------------

Angel had just put the last of the food in the fridge when he heard Xander walk into the kitchen. The sound of the old ratty sneakers stopped just as Angel closed the fridge. He reached out for a big green and yellow box on the counter and shook it, his back still turned to the boy. The footsteps came closer.

Angel tipped the multicolored cereal rings into a bowl next to the sink and then opened the fridge again. He took the milk out and then poured the cool milk over the red, yellow, green and blue rings. The milk started slowly changing color. He looked through the drawer he’d only opened once before and found a dusty spoon. Rubbing it on his shirt he caught the reflection of the boy standing behind him, eyes fixed on the bowl of cereal, in the spoons curved metal.

“Well,” Angel said and heard the sound of small feet scurrying out of the kitchen, “I’ll just,” he continued a bit louder, “leave it here for you.”

---------------------------------------

He returned to the kitchen rubbing a towel against his dripping hair. The bowl was empty and there was no sign of the kid.

He opened one of the cupboards and took out a box of cookies. As he moved through the small apartment he could hear the boy move around in the bedroom. He made sure to make a lot of noise as he walked over to the bedroom door.

As he opened it he saw a foot disappear under the bed. The box of cookies contained two separately packaged bags and he ripped one open, put the box on the floor by the bed and lay down on the creaking mattress.

He heard the box slide over the dusty floor just as he fell asleep.

-------------------------------------

Next chapter


Date: 2012-05-08 01:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jujukittychick.livejournal.com
awww, poor little xander. and poor absolutley clueless angel faced with a quiet, needy kid and abused prostitutes looking to him for protection. sounds like everybody could use a hug lol

Date: 2012-05-10 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks for reading :)

Well, I couldn't help but wonder how a 250 year old vampire would deal with taking care of a human child.

Date: 2012-05-08 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaleecat.livejournal.com
poor little Xander -- I can just see him with the big brown eyes and messy hair. Clueless clueless Angel -- he is so in over his head. *snicker*

(i admit I was worried for a second, your sometimes tricksy with sudden dark turns -- I still get choked up at that xander all alone in an empty world with the horse statue left guarding over where he was. sob!)

Very vivid in creating scene & character, and grabs emotionally very quickly.

Date: 2012-05-10 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thank you.

I'm hoping to get more posted soon. It's much easier to deal with this story in snippets.

Date: 2012-05-08 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] skargasm.livejournal.com
Totally own me, you truly do!!!

Date: 2012-05-10 11:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
And what a delightful thing to own ;)

Date: 2012-05-08 03:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chaoskir.livejournal.com
Arrgh! Already hooked again! I need more of this fic. It's awesome how clueless Angel can be. I like your little Xander and well, your Angel took care of him without biting him. That's a good one, I guess. Arrgh, really I need more of this fic.

Date: 2012-05-10 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thank you.

I hope to post more next week where I'll have two days off work.

Date: 2012-05-08 05:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whichclothes.livejournal.com
Totally awww! Poor clueless Angel.

Date: 2012-05-10 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks.

Angel is the main character in this fic (or at least in this chapter) so we'll see more of him trying to find his way through the wilderness also known as parenthood.

Date: 2012-05-08 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eithnex.livejournal.com
I'm so pleased that you've returned to this verse. I loved the first chapter, albeit with a desire to see Tony's painful demise! I can't wait to see how you take this, it will be interesting to see how they both develope in this new relationship. Thank you for sharing.

Date: 2012-05-10 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks.

Oh, well Tony might make another appearance. And punishment might be a part of it.

Date: 2012-05-08 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anndaydream.livejournal.com
Awww... This is so sweet, I love the characterization so far, and it's always good to see you writing again. More soon I hope

Date: 2012-05-10 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks.

Hope to post next week. So glad you liked it :)

Date: 2012-05-09 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beccers4469.livejournal.com
OMFG! I love this, made me a little meloncholy though. Poor Xander. I'm not gonna lie, I cannot for the life of me remember what is going on, LOL!

Date: 2012-05-10 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devo79.livejournal.com
Thanks :)

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