Tales from the Mall

You meet the Damnedest People...

Author: IceWing <icewing[at]one.net>

Summary: Sooner or later, everybody goes to the mall.

Rating: PG

Feedback: It's the coin of the Realm....

Xander sighed as he watched the girls vanish into yet another store.

Two days till Christmas...

Two days till Christmas in the Mall.

The only active Knight Commander in the Knighthood looked around the bustling retail Mecca, and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if they could somehow harness the manic energy that showed up this time of year, the War against the Darkness could be finished, once and for all.

Not to mention it would get him out of the personnel that he'd found himself dragged into.

'No, Alexander,' chided Elan from within his mind. 'Your personnel Hell would be to be separated from those you love. To be unable to stand beside and help those who you care about, as they fought. To see those who now serve to keep you grounded, as you used to do for them. - That is your own personal hell.'

'But... Shopping? At the Mall?' he responded. 'I mean.. Hello... The Internet? Order whatever you want and have it overnighted to the Mansion.' He looked around, from his rather uncomfortable seat on one of the benches in one of the very short, relatively empty arms of the Mall. 'I mean, look at them Elan. They're like a massive horde of zombies, searching for brains to feast on. Actually, I think zombies might be easier to deal with...'

'As I said, Alexander. You would rather be here with your family, doing something so banally normal, than just about anything else. For this one little slice of time, you, Faith, Dawn, all of you. You're just normal people, doing normal things.'

'Oh, shut up...' thought Xander, a mental grin in place, as he knew that Elan was pretty much dead on the money.

That was one of the problems with voices in your head... They tended to know you pretty well.

The sounds of Elan's laughter echoed in his mind's eye as Xander felt her sliding back from the front of his mind to the semi-private space she went to have some personal time.

Something neither of them had much of, since that now never to occur day at the auction house.

Xander let his thoughts wander as he just sat and people watched for a few moments.

Elan was right, he mused as he saw a family go past him. The mother was trying to herd the children, while the father was loaded down with packages and had the look of a man who would love to be able to crash on the couch for the rest of the day. It was an innocent scene, one being played across the country, if not the world, as Christmas rapidly approached. And, he thought, his eyes glancing back to the store where the girls had vanished. He was pretty sure that they weren't getting anything for him in a lingerie store, but... His face started to turn red as he realized that Faith might be planning something for him in the after all... He swallowed heavily and was just about to start looking for a way to bail from the rest of the shopping trip, when the sound of someone speaking to him jarred him from his thoughts.

"Alexander Lavelle Harris, if I am not mistaken?" spoke the man who had somehow managed to position himself several feet in front of Xander.

The young man looked up, immediately taking in the middle aged individual before him. He didn't seem like any threat, but Xander was sure that he'd never laid eyes on the guy before... So...

"And you know who I am, because?" asked Xander, meeting the man's eyes with his own.

"Call me a fan."

"My very own fanboy... I feel so privileged...." Xander's eyes darted over the man's frame, checking to see if there were any weapons, visible or concealed, that he needed to be aware of. All he saw was a tailored Armani suit, cut from a deep blue, with light pin striping.

"Now, no need to get offensive... I simply wanted to meet the guy who managed to cause such a ruckus with the upper management back at the home office."

Xander looked more than a bit confused and perplexed at this statement. "Who are you?" he asked, incredulously.

"Oh, I'm sorry... You may call me Luc," said the man as he offered his hand.

Almost instinctively, Xander reached out and shook his hand.

"As I was saying, I wanted to stop by and meet you. Put a face to the name as it were. It's not often that an first timer can cause such an uproar. And believe me, it's good to have such a breath of fresh air forced into those hallways."

Xander continued to just try and figure out what was going on, without much luck. "Ok..." he said, dragging the word out. "Who exactly do you work for that I've upset so much."

"Well, personally, I'm in.. Corrections. I am the Warden at what might be called an Ultra-Max containment center. The worst of the worst, they get sent my way and I'm in charge of making sure they don't cause any more trouble for society."

"I thought they called it Rehabilitation these days."

Luc smiled. "Not these folks. They had their chance at redemption, and they're all on the wrong side of the line." He looked down at his watch, then frowned. "I do wish I had more time, but I've got an upper level management meeting. We had a little incident with a few of the, convicts, under my jurisdiction managing to get loose, so now we've got to arrange for retrieval before they manage to cause too much trouble. It was good meeting you, and if there's anything me or my team can do for you, we'll be in touch."

"You'll be in touch?"

"Of course... We haven't managed to get reliable phone or data connectivity to our network, but I can assure you, our intelligence gathering network is second to none." He turned as if to walk away, but stopped.

"By the way, I did appreciate the offer for directions, but all of their information was already on file. We were really just waiting for inprocessing anyway on most of that group... See you around... Commander."

Before Xander could react, a family passed between the bench he was seated on, and where Luc was standing. When they had passed, the man in the suit was nowhere to be seen.

"What the hell was that?" said Xander out loud as he practically leapt to his feet.

Across the metaphysical bond the two shared, Elan explained the identity of the man who was now nowhere to be seen.


The End


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