Another Time, Another Life
Summary: Puck considers how far he's come. Related to Not Slipping, Living
A/N: This should really be categorized as Introspection, not Angst, but there you go. A deeper look at the Puck/Owen dynamic (according to my own, personal theory) and the banishment from Puck's point of view. I might do it again from a more "Owen" perspective. The events that take place in this story do not necessarily reflect the events of In the Beginning, which is a prequel to these stories, as this is strictly from Puck's POV and I consider Puck an Unreliable Narrator.
Spoilers: The Price and The Gathering
Disclaimer: The Gargoyles franchise belongs to Disney, Buena Vista and mostly Greg Weisman. I borrow the characters for entertainment purposes with no disrespect meant to the creators.
The lessons got farther and farther between as time went by. Alexander had excellent control for his age and was rarely inclined to misbehave, though when he did it was usually categorized as an emergency of the highest importance.
There were times that Puck could cheat though. "Training" doesn't always have to mean learning something new. He found himself spending more time playing with the infant in a way that strengthened the connections to the flow of magic than teaching spells. He considered, as he watched Alex shape shift into a much smaller version of Lexington, that if Fox had ever been encouraged to play such games as a child rather than being forcefully suppressed, she would have been a rival to Oberon himself.
Perhaps that's why Titania had done it. Puck had no doubt that the fae lord could have tracked his wayward queen through the clumsy magical manipulations of a child. He had no doubt that at the time Oberon would have been enraged at the sight of a young girl with his queen's blood, his queen's power, and no loyalty to him. It had seemed to irk him even when it seemed Fox had no magic at all.
He sometimes wondered if Fox realized just how much her mother had done to protect her. He wondered if she would even care.
Puck flitted protectively behind the baby as he awkwardly tried out his new wings. Not understanding the mechanics of gliding just yet, mini-Lex flapped his arms and rose with a little burst of magic. Puck took the form of a smaller Brooklyn and chased his charge around the room, laughing.
As Alexander returned to his own natural form and plummeted to the ground, Puck considered David Xanatos. Catching the baby under the arms before he could hit the floor the trickster gently explained to a wailing baby that control was the key. There was no reason that baby Alex couldn't fly just like Uncle Lex, even without wings. He had to remember that.
David Xanatos had excellent control. Even the threat of losing his first born had been met with grim determination. The discovery that his family was more extraordinary than he'd first thought had been met with calm acceptance. The man was great fun.
Alex stopped sniffling and suddenly became liquid in Puck's hands. The child regained his solidity an inch from the ground and bounced. Puck laughed and bounced after him. Whether Alex had made himself elastic or the walls like trampolines, the Puck could not tell.
Like water, ever shifting, ever changing. The baby took things in stride and flowed around obstacles much like his father. Most times figuratively, other times more literally.
It was a trait that could only have come from David Xanatos - taking things in stride that was, not flowing around furniture. That was something he'd learned from Puck.
Settling Alex down to watch a movie, Puck had a sudden bit of inspiration and taught the infant how to pull images from the screen. Alex clapped and burbled as Peter Pan flew over head, the breeze in his wake lifting Puck's silver mane.
Puck considered David Xanatos and his unflinching resolve. He was sturdy like the mountain stone - Puck chuckled softly at that - but soft and pliable like… The trickster saw a colorful container to his right. Like play-doh.
David Xanatos had started his journey looking to become rich to make up for the poverty that he'd started his life in. Smart and ambitious he had been, in his own humble opinion, too good for a small fishing village. Puck had a tendency to agree.
Having achieved riches, his attention shifted to the acquiring of power and so he had gained power. Then, almost naturally, he had begun searching for the means to immortality. Both scientific and supernatural. The silly man hadn't realized just how dangerous the things he'd been playing with were until he'd watched faithful, loyal Owen dip his arm into the cauldron and come back out with a stone fist.
Puck remembered the steely resolve in Xanatos's voice when he'd been given the choice; the steady gaze and the no-nonsense tone. Immortality was all fine and dandy but he'd like Owen back if Puck didn't very much mind. They had work to do, please leave.
Puck returned his attention, briefly, to the movie taking place around them. He liked television; it could keep his attention surprisingly well when few other things could. There was little Tinkerbelle, all red with jealous anger and too small to feel more than one emotion at a time, flitting off to plot murder. Puck shifted the baby in his lap and tilted his head thoughtfully.
He was a bit like that, he supposed. He felt things so big and bright - regardless of what that those feelings were - that it was hard to fit more than one emotion in at a time. It wasn't always that way.
There was a time that he could have been plotting and playful at the same time. There was a time that he could have been trickster and loyal servant, a gentleman and a rake. Not anymore.
Puck glanced down at his charge and noticed the baby was looking tired. The characters of their movie suddenly broke into a wild fight and Alex jerked awake again, suddenly entranced.
He thought of the night of Alexander's birth frequently. He thought of Anastasia's flippant comment and wondered if she hadn't known who Xanatos's faithful servant was just by his reaction. He remembered the way he'd shoved being Owen aside in favor of flying into action, of preparing his employer - and friend - for the worst case scenario and running.
He remembered the ache as he left and the way distance only made it worse. He remembered going back.
Facing his old master had been one of the most frightening things he'd ever done but oh, it had been so much fun while it had lasted.
He remembered making his own choice. He wondered if Xanatos had felt the same way about his. He hoped not; he could not bear to think of the man being in that sort of agony.
He remembered being surprised as Oberon's power flowed over him but not initially worried. His master had always been fond of the Puck.
And then the horrible twisting. The burning pain as something in him parted from the rest. He'd panicked at first and gone searching for that other thing that was no longer with him. Where was Owen? That quiet place in his mind that Puck let take over when he was tired or bored? That steady place that took care of the hard things, the scary things, the things that playful, sneaky Puck did not like to do was gone. Where was that solid, wooden character that Puck had lovingly coaxed into existence to play the part of loyal employee to Halcyon Renard and, later, David Xanatos?
Kneeling confused and fractured, Puck had done what he'd always done best in the face of Oberon's wrath; he'd begged. And as he begged he searched and finally felt the whisper of calm. It was quiet, distant and almost beyond him. Puck took hold of that feeling and gave a hard tug.
He had felt his body stand, he had felt a flow of power and then…
Oh he could see and hear and, when he tried very hard, make Owen say and do things but this was different than before. Always together, always touching but not... quite. There was something in the way now that changed the game. One or the other, but never both.
Alex burbled softly and Puck looked down. The baby had finally succumbed to sleep and now it was time to go back inside. Back to that quiet dark place all alone.
He wasn't sure what he regretted more; losing Avalon or that little piece of himself that he had come to love.
A/N: This is a slightly better explanation for how I like to make the Puck/Owen thing work. In Could Have Been Worse when "Owen" quoted Shakespeare back at Lynn, Puck had temporarily shoved him aside and in Not Slipping, Living Owen returned the favor. When one or the other talks about feeling a tug, a push, or a pull it's usually a sign that the other one is trying to gain control. So same person but with a divided personality... I guess?