Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Naruto, some big shots somewhere do.
AU for both series.
I know I shouldn't be starting another story but I actually wrote this a while ago. And since Surrey Trouble only has a few chapters to go I figured I might as well post it now.
1Kakashi froze as he saw a scruffy dark-haired stranger holding Konohamaru in his arms. His hand slipped down to his kunai holster but he stopped as he heard the boy shriek in delighted laughter. The man held him tightly before putting him back on the ground where Konohamaru instantly latched onto his hand and started pulling him towards the tower. Kakashi moved closer and the man spun, pushing the boy protectively behind him. He frowned, the younger man looked very familiar but he couldn't place him.
"It's been a while Hatake-san." Kakashi's frown deepened, the voice was familiar but changed. The man laughed and smiled at him warmly but Kakashi could hear the weariness in his voice.
"Don't recognise me sir? If I helps I was twelve the last time we saw each other" Kakashi's visible eye widened in shock, could it be?
"Akira?" The younger man nodded and Kakashi relaxed, that explained Konohamaru's reaction. How long had it been since the cousins had last seen each other? Akira hadn't been seen in Konoha since he was twelve. No one knew where he'd been except the Hokage and maybe his uncle. What kept Kakashi from relaxing totally was the fact that Akira had been one of Itachi's closest friends before he'd vanished. Sure, he'd disappeared before the massacre but it was still odd.
"I was on my way to see Grandfather when the squirt ambushed me. How have you been sir?" Kakashi walked beside Akira while Konohamaru hung off his cousin's arm.
"Not bad. I have a team now."
"I feel sorry for them." Akira's lopsided grin softened the comment.
"How's Konoha been?"
"Same as always. Usual rumours of trouble and the like, although there seems to be more truth to these ones than usual." Akira's grin faded and he nodded.
"That explains the trouble I had at the gates." Akira frowned in thought. Konohamaru had stayed silent while they talked but as they approached the Hokage's office he broke from Akira and dashed in, yelling for the old man. Akira shook his head in amusement and smiled at Kakashi. More voices than just his grandfather answered and he raised an eyebrow.
"So you're late?" Kakashi shrugged and the two entered the office, Akira instantly the centre of attention. The Hokage stood and moved out from behind his desk to stand in front of the young man. They stared at each other for a long minute before Akira was suddenly wrapped in his grandfather's arms. He half collapsed in the well-remembered and loved embrace, relaxing as he was finally home.
"I was worried about you, you've sent no word for nearly a year. I feared the worst." Sarutobi whispered to his oldest grandchild.
"I'm sorry, everything's been so hectic I couldn't get away." They pulled apart and the older man raised a hand to Akira's face, briefly tracing the familiar features. Akira smiled and leant into the touch of a family member for the first time in five years.
"Konohamaru take Akira back to my home and make sure he eats something. We'll talk tonight, get some sleep."
"Thank you Grandfather." Akira bowed politely and followed his younger cousin from the room, leaving behind a shocked Team 7, since when did the Hokage have another grandkid? Sasuke frowned slightly; the man had looked vaguely familiar, as if he'd seen him as a child.
Sarutobi watched as Akira slept fitfully in the room that had been his as a child after his parents had died during the Kyuubi's attack. He had missed the boy but he had been unwilling to send any other on that mission. He'd needed someone he could trust without any doubt and who was easy going enough that they could fit in and fade into the background, that hadn't left him many options. He had been left with only family and Akira had been the best choice, Konohamaru had been so young, he hadn't wanted to rob him of his father as Akira had been. Akira had been amongst the top of his class at the academy even though he was not classed as a genius and had graduated early. He had progressed quickly but not a swiftly as his friend Itachi and for that Sarutobi was grateful. Looking back he felt that had been a part of what led to Itachi turning on his family. While he had always encouraged Akira he had never pressured him, it had been the boy's choice to attend the Academy and become a shinobi. But now he wished he had sheltered the boy from that life. Gone was the carefree child he remembered and in his place was a tired, scarred young man hardened by pain and experience. He should never have sent Akira to the Hellmouth but he could not undo that decision. No matter what though Akira would not be returning, he needed to rest and heal and he was going to see to it that he did, even if he had to lock him in his room.
Akira rolled over and jerked awake, hand reaching for a weapon.
"Easy Akira, its just me." He soothed, walking further into the room.
"Grandfather?" Akira was still half asleep but was waking up. Sarutobi smiled and perched on the edge of the bed, smoothing Akira's hair away from his face.
"I didn't mean to wake you." Akira shrugged and sat up fully.
"I don't sleep much anymore anyway." The quiet admission caused a pang in the old mans heart; this was his entire fault,
"Don't, don't blame yourself Grandpa, I accepted the mission. It's been hard but I chose this life." Akira, known to a select group as Xander Harris tried to comfort his grandfather.
"I've missed you so much child. By now your Uncle knows you're back, Konohamaru will have told him."
"I've missed all of you so much. The family I hid in wasn't that great."
"But they treated you well?" Akira shrugged and the Hokage frowned but didn't say anything. He knew his grandson would tell him when he was ready to.
"I suppose you want my report?"
"Food first, you can tell me after dinner." Akira suddenly smiled.
"I've missed your cooking Grandpa." The old man ruffled his hair, as he hadn't done since Akira was a child and stood.
Akira stood in the doorway and watched his grandfather move about the kitchen. He smiled at the familiar sight and felt himself truly relaxing for the first time in what felt like forever. He's seen and done so much since leaving home four years ago, had changed so much. What if he kicked him out because of it? He shook his head, he had to stop thinking like that, this wasn't Sunnydale, and his grandfather loved him and would never hurt him.
"Akira? What's wrong?" He smiled at the concern in his grandfathers' voice and sat on a stool to watch him prepare their meal.
"It's nothing, just memories. That smells great. I've been living on American food for so long hope I still remember how to use these." He held up a pair of chopsticks with a grin.
"I'm sure you'll remember, food is a great motivator. Still eat as much as you used to?" Akira laughed and nodded.
"So who did you stick with Kakashi? Feel sorry for the kids."
"Haruno Sakura, Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke." Akira blinked.
"That was little Sasuke? Wow he's grown. Doesn't look like he remembers me. How's he been coping?"
"Not well. He's not the boy you remember. He's become cold and angry."
"Don't really blame him. He looked up to Itachi so much and for his beloved big brother to do that... I still can't believe he did it myself." Akira accepted his plate and took his first mouthful. He smiled at the well-missed flavours, thinking.
"Naruto...The boy who...?" His grandfather nodded.
"Poor kid. Does he know?"
"He found out the day he graduated the Academy from a traitor. He took it fairly well and can use its chakra at times."
"How is he treated?" Sarutobi sighed tiredly and Akira nodded in understanding. He remembered when the Kyuubi attacked, remembered the fear and then the pain of being told his parents were dead so he could understand why people would want to blame Naruto but that didn't make it right.
"Do his team-mates know?"
"No, we don't know how they would react." They finished the rest of dinner talking about the family and what they'd been up to in the last four years. Afterwards they sat on facing armchairs in silence while Akira gathered his thoughts.
"This last year was bad, real bad. Angel slept with Buffy and lost his soul, freeing Angelus. He joined up with the other two remaining members of the Scourge of Europe and went on a killing spree, trying to demoralise the Slayer. Needless to say it worked. I...she was so stupid!!" Akira sprung to his feet and began to pace.
"People were dying and all she could think about was getting her boyfriend back! He was going to send the world to hell and still she wanted to re-curse him so they could be together. So I lied to her. I told her Willow said to kick his ass, not that she was going to try the spell again. I stayed hidden while they fought it out and I thought I was going to have to intervene but she managed to do her duty in the end. She sent him to hell and then did a runner. No one's seen her since. I...I couldn't stay this summer, I had to come home. I guess coming that close made me need to see you all. I'm sorry, I know I'm meant to stay there but I couldn't." Akira swallowed heavily, fighting back tears.
"You did the right thing Akira, its obvious you need a break. I'm sorry I ever asked you to take this mission." Sarutobi apologised softly.
"I was the best choice, you did the right thing. Though I'm probably the only chuunin with such a long term S-rank mission on their resume."
"The exams are coming up in a few months, want to give being an examiner a go?" Akira laughed.
"No way! Me and exams are not a good combo, besides I'll be back in Sunnydale by then."
"I don't want you going back Akira."
"The Hellmouth has to be watched Grandpa, you know that. Trying to get someone else into the Slayer's group at this point would be incredibly hard, its too risky. I know the people and I know the terrain." Sarutobi sighed in defeat, he knew Akira was right.
"Forgive an old man for trying to keep his family safe?" Akira smiled and hugged him.
"There's nothing to forgive."
"Sasuke wait up!" The teen turned to see the man from the Hokage's office approaching. He waited for him to catch up and then continued walking.
"You don't remember me do you? You were eight the last time I saw you and that was a bad year so I understand." That got a bigger reaction. Sasuke froze and then spun to study him. He was definitely familiar.
"Akira?" Sasuke asked hesitantly, remembering the friend of Itachi who had always made time for him and treated him like family. Akira grinned in answer.
"Nice to know I'm not that forgettable. How are you?" Sasuke went to snap but there was honest concern in Akira's voice, not pity. So he shrugged instead.
"Want to grab some lunch?" Sasuke nodded eventually and Akira led him into a small, quiet café.
"Where have you been?" Sasuke asked after sitting in silence for a while.
"Mission, I'm leaving again in a few weeks. I don't know when I'll get the chance to come home again. Would you mind if I sent the occasional letter with my reports?" Sasuke looked up with a slight expression of surprise.
"What? I've missed you kid. I liked having you around back then."
"So, what do you think of your team-mates?" Akira asked with a small smile. Sasuke was very surprised to find himself relaxing the more time he spent with the older teen. Yes, he was a reminder of happier times but he was also a reminder of Itachi so why did he find himself wanting to spend time with him? Shouldn't he hate him for reminding him of his brother?
"Naruto is a loudmouthed idiot and Sakura is an obsessed fangirl who does not take training seriously. She is a liability to the team, at least Naruto takes training seriously."
"Give them time. Hopefully Sakura will mature as you guys get older or someone will take her aside and explain what she's doing. As for Naruto, ever wondered why he's loud? You use silence and aloofness to push people away; he uses noise to gain attention. Watch how the villagers treat him and what they say when they think he can't hear." Sasuke nodded slowly.
"Want to spar? It's been ages since I've done so, so I'm probably really rusty though. I've had to hide the fact that I'm shinobi for five years and that gets very tiring."
"We can use the compound training grounds." Sasuke said and they left the café.
Akira paused as he felt someone following him. His hand slipped down to his weapons pouch even as he remained relaxed looking. He made his way from the crowded streets into a more deserted area before slipping out of sight to wait for his tail. Sensing them he launched himself out and tackled them to the ground, a kunai quickly placed beneath their throat. He blinked and looked into startled blue eyes. He pulled back as he recognised the blond boy.
"Sorry Naruto, didn't realise it was you." Akira got to his feet and offered the younger teen a hand up. Naruto stared up at him with wide eyes before eventually taking his hand.
"You're not hurt are you?"
"No. Sorry, I shouldn't have been following you." Naruto looked down ready for the harsh words.
"No harm done. Walk with me?" Naruto looked up, startled but relaxed a little at the kindness reflected in warm brown eyes.
"I know about it Naruto, my parents were killed that day. The way people around here treat you is appalling. What happened then was not your fault, you had nothing to do with it, you know that don't you?" Naruto looked up at him from the corner of his eye and Akira smiled kindly down at him.
"You really...?" Naruto asked cautiously.
"I don't make a habit of saying things I don't mean. I should have approached you years ago and I'm sorry I didn't. I'm leaving again for a long term mission soon but I'll write if you don't mind?"
"I'd like that. Hey, do you know Iruka-sensei?"
"Sure do, why?"
"Want to get ramen with us?"
"Sure, lead the way."
"You're leaving today." Akira didn't turn from his packing but nodded at his grandfather. He stopped as a hand fell on his arm, looking up at the old man.
"Take these, train with them when you can." Akira took the offered scrolls with a warm smile.
"Thank you Grandfather." He suddenly threw his arms around him, surprising his grandfather.
"I love you." Sarutobi hugged him back tightly.
"Come home in one piece." Akira pulled back and smiled.
"I'll do my best."
What do you think? Should I continue?
So Sarutobi Akira is Xander Harris in case you missed it. He's one year younger than Itachi and the Third's eldest grandson. Sasuke, Naruto, etc are twelve. Not sure about Konohamaru so I'm making him nine, after all he needs to have been old enough to sort of remember his cousin.
Any ideas for nicknames for Akira?