This has been done for a while. I figured I might as well post it.

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." ~ Albert Camus

Alibaba shifted in his seat to glance back at the people in his cart. Budel was lounged out on his carpet, munching contently on the apples Alibaba provided. The mother, daughter duo were talking quietly as the mother brushed her daughter's hair and weaved it into two neat braids.

And the final passenger was leaning against the side staring off into the desert.

He let his eyes linger over the boy for a bit longer. He noted the pale face and unusual hair color. The boy's garments were strange too. It was all flowing fabric of varying blues, purples and whites, folded, layered and tied to fit the boy. The way the sleeve draped over his hands and the bottom hem touched the ground made the boy look smaller than he already was. All in all, it was definitely not proper attire for the desert heat.

(It looked expensive too. He wondered where this child was from that they would allow someone who was obviously higher born to wander alone so young. He also wondered how exactly this boy avoided bandits before now. They had picked him up randomly and last minute at the previous town, but from his familiarity with the cart caravan the boy had been traveling for a while.)

He could feel himself sweat just looking at him.

Alibaba sighed.

(He was going to save the extras for himself. It was hard to get his hand on such sweet fruits in his position, but…)

He checked the cart ahead of him. The road was straight for a little while and his camels were well trained. He tied off the leads to the post and turn to his guests with a smile. Budel eyed him with annoyance as he shuffled to the back to look through his supplies and gave him an even more sour look when he extracted another crate of apples.

Alibaba smiled at the mother and gave them half of the crate, waving off her soft thanks as he turned to the boy.

"Here, with that kind of outfit you need something refreshing, don't you?"

Suspicious blue eyes met his own before tentatively glancing down at the fruit he was being offered.

(Alibaba didn't fail to catch the way the boy's hand had tightened on that strange wooden staff he had laid carefully in his lap. Possibilities spun through his mind before he had a chance to stop them.)

After an almost uncomfortable pause, the boy took the offering.

"Thank you."

His voice was whisper soft and Alibaba had to strain to hear it. He smiled gently.

"Don't worry about it."

Everything seemed fine after that.

Until it wasn't.

(He really should have expected it. Budel was notorious for toeing the line with his wine transportation. Despite all the warnings over him transporting so many wine caskets the man never listened. And now they were paying the price.)

(Why…why was he always so useless in these situations?)

He never expected Budel of all people to snap him out of it. Then again, the man was so infuriating at times it was a miracle Alibaba hadn't snapped sooner.

His body moved on its own as he snatched up a wine barrel and dove into the Desert Hyacinth's hole.

"Dammit, why did I say that and punch him!" He gritted his teeth as he tried to control his slid while still holding onto the barrel. "I had a good thing going there. He could have got me a lot of money."

After tossing the wine and snatching the little girl out of the monsters grasp he thought he had managed to actually do something right for once.

Of course, he was wrong.

(He was always wrong. Why did he ever think he could do something right? Something worthwhile?)

'So, this is how I'm going to die then, huh?' He squinted up at the sky as he was dragged down in place of the girl. 'Digested by an overgrown weed.'

"Don't give up, Mister."

He almost missed the voice.

But he did not miss the floating kid with staff raised high.

He also didn't miss the lighting that struck out of nowhere, killing the deadly plant instantly.

"My name's Aladdin, what's yours?"

"Uh, Alibaba."

"So, you're a magician?" Alibaba reached up to try and pat down his frazzled hair once more, to no avail. His hands were still shaking, and his left foot felt a bit numb. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep, but he pushed forward. He needed answers.

(He tried to stifle the hope building in his chest, but it kept bubbling up the longer he spent with the strange blue-haired boy.)

"Hm, yea..." The kid muttered through a mouthful of fruit as he glanced around Alibaba's home with interest.

His winced subtle. Trying to get a conversation out of this kid was like pulling teeth. Alibaba chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his head.

"I was wondering how a kid like you managed to survive out here."

That earned him a response. Blue eyes turned to him and the boys head tilted to the side.

Alibaba answered the silent question. "Well, you're dressed in pretty expensive clothing. You don't normally see those bright colors out in the desert. Dyes have to be imported and that takes time and money. Usually even the rich only have a few garments dyed in different colors, like Budels' little vest. Not to mention that style is a bit strange and you're a kid."

Aladdin looked down at his clothing and blinked. "Oh, so I stick out. That's why all those guys tried attacking me?"

'How many people actually attacked?' Alibaba thought incredulously. 'And he didn't notice he looked different at all!?'

"Uh, yeah. But, they didn't know you're a magician, so…"

"Hm, yeah I beat them up."

Alibaba's eye twitch. He never thought he'd feel bad for bandits before, but the matter of fact way the kid said that made him wince.

"Yeah…so, uh, where you from kid? And why are you traveling all by yourself?"

"Me?" The kid licked the lingering juice from his fingers and blinked slowly up at him, almost thoughtfully. "I'm from the Kou Empire and I'm…well I ran away."

So, you know that one panel when Aladdin was talking about parallel universes? The panel that showed Judal as Sinbad's magi and Jafar and Aladdin in the Kou empire? That's what inspired this fic. Basically, Aladdin is caught by the Kou empire/ Al-thamen when he leaves ( a little earlier than canon) and is kind-of-sort-of brainwashed (the idea is a bit vague right now). He's not quite a dark magi, but things are definitely in a worse position than canon.

I'll have to flesh out the idea more before I continue this, but its an interesting idea, no?