Disclaimer: Characters not mine, or anybody's I know. Just playing with them for a while.
A/N: I chose to ignore the whole Mal/Caleb thing because, quite frankly, I think it's boring, and it's been done. A lot.
There was a bright flash of white light and Buffy Summers stumbled out of a silvery opalescent square suspended in midair. She was closely followed by Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, and Rupert Giles. The patch of light disappeared.
“Was that supposed to happen?” Buffy asked as she surveyed her surroundings, taking in the incongruous mix of hard shiny metals and homey kitchenware hung on hand painted walls. “I don't think that was supposed to happen.”
“Uh-oh, this is bad.” Willow's voice wavered a little.
“Yes,” Buffy agreed, “I would place this firmly in the 'of the bad' category.”
“No,” Xander quipped, “This is exactly where we wanted to end up. This is Africa, just less jungley than the last time we were here. And without the giraffes. Unless there are giraffes, and they're just very small.” He brought his forefinger and thumb about two centimeters apart to demonstrate just how small the giraffes would be.
“Xander, is this really the time?,” Giles had finally recovered enough to speak and Buffy could pick out the familiar tones of resigned exasperation and worry in his voice.
“Right, too soon for jokes, I get that.” Buffy turned on her heel to face Xander, her eyes narrowed, and noticed the other two doing the same. At the force of their combined glares, Xander backed away sheepishly. “Shutting up. Check.”
“Ok, guys, where the hell are we?” Buffy was becoming less befuddled and more irate. She spun abruptly at the sound of voices coming from behind the closed door to her right. Putting one finger to her lips, she signaled for them all to be silent.
“-And we need to let the buyers know that we ain't sellin' for nothin', got it?” Malcolm Reynolds strode up the passageway of his ship, verbally making to-do lists which his first mate Zoë committed to memory, calmly and without question. As he stepped though the door to the combination kitchen and dining area, Buffy caught the slight change in his posture as he noted the extra four people he didn't know on his ship with something akin to surprise, albeit more violent.
The scoobies were equally alarmed by the two newcomers' presence. That had mostly to do with the science fiction-esque weapons that Mal and Zoe had aimed at them within a second of entering the room. Buffy eyed the guns, mind running through the somewhat short list of options for a course of action not leading to badness.
“You got about 30 seconds to tell me who the hell you are and how you happen to be on my boat without me knowin' 'bout it 'fore now.” Mal didn't give her much time to think or silence to do it in. Buffy could see his suspicion escalating. All the scoobies put their hands above their heads in the universal signal equivalent to 'please don't kill me.'
Xander was the first to respond. “Um, I'm sorry, did you say boat? As in ship?”
“Boy, are you funnin' with me? Because I don't take kindly to unannounced company.”
Willow attempted an explanation, “Well, so,um, here's the thing, we don't actually, well, we're not really so sure where we, you know, are. Where are we?”
As Mal took a moment to figure out if she was joking, Buffy took advantage of the speed part of the slayer package. Moving faster than she knew she could, she dashed over to him, kicked the gun out of his grasp with her left foot, caught it in her right hand, and aimed it at Zoe. “Everybody stop!” She stood still for a moment as she waited for all eyes to be trained on her. “We don't want to hurt you guys, we just need to figure this out.” She addressed Zoe, “I tell you what, you put your gun down, and then I'll put my-his- gun down, and we'll all sit down at the table like sane and nonviolent people. Sound fair?”
Zoe's eyes flicked about the room quickly, taking in all the factors and processing them with a speed to rival Buffy's own. Seeing no opening and deciding cooperation was the safest option, she nodded cautiously in acquiescence. Slowly bending at the waist, without taking her eyes off Buffy for a fraction of a second, she placed her pistol on the ground.
Giles, Willow, Xander, and Mal had all been watching the exchange carefully, and seeing the two women walk slowly to the large wooden table, they followed suit. Mal finally spoke up, “Ok, I changed my mind, the first thing I want to know is how you did that. You ain't even as big as River. Though lord knows she's got some unexplained talents of her own.”
“Maybe I'll tell you later. Right now, I'm going to tell you something less believable and, at the moment, slightly more important. We came through a portal-a magical gateway glowy square thing. Willow here,” Buffy pointed at the woman sitting to her right, “is a witch. But more Sabrina the teenage than wicked of the west. Most of the time. Anyway, we meant to go to Africa, not here. Wherever here is. Did you say we're on a ship?”
Before Mal could respond to the statement, Willow broke in, “Ok, I want to make this quick so we can move on. You don't believe I'm a witch, it's not possible, yadda yadda blah blah, you want me to prove it. Ok, fine.” She stood up and pointed at Xander over Buffy's head. As she lifted her hand above her head, Xander's entire body followed the motion, rising off his seat and continuing until he bumped lightly against the ceiling.
“Hey!” he scolded ineffectually. Buffy grinned and without looking away from Xander, she could hear Giles snickering from across the table. Slowly, Willow lowered Xander back to his place on the bench.
“Good enough?” Willow directed this last question at Zoe and Mal.
“No, not good!” Xander protested, “why do you always demonstrate with me? Buffy's littler!” At this, Buffy scowled, “Or Giles. Why doesn't Giles ever get levitated without warning?”
“Oh no, you leave me out of this!” Giles warned, “You float me to the ceiling without telling me first and we'll bloody well have a problem!”
Buffy caught a movement out of the corner of her eye as Zoe nudged Mal, and he got the message. “Alright,” he interrupted what was sure to be a long bickering session, “alright, sure, she's a witch. I've seen stranger things by half.”
“Hmm.” Giles mused, “that went better than usual, wouldn't you say, Willow?”
“I've definitely seen worse reactions, yes.”
Buffy spoke up again impatiently, “Now that we've got that established, can we go back to the part where we're on a ship?” She turned to Mal, “Explain.”
“Serenity is my boat. I'm Malcom Reynolds. Mal.” He tossed a thumb to his left to where Zoe sat across from Buffy. “Zoe is my first mate. The rest of my crew is around here someplace.”
“Where are we though? Usually with the boats comes the motion and the water and the me getting seasick. Not getting so much of that.”
“Water? What in the-where did you say that portal was from?”
“We didn't.” Buffy crossed her arms across her chest defiantly. She hated not knowing what was going on and she was keeping any information she had to herself.
Mal sighed. “Well, I'm going with the witch thing so this isn't really that crazy a thought. Mayhaps I should be askin' when that portal was from.
Willow fielded this one along with the previous question, “London, England, April 15th, 2006. Why?”
At this, Zoe's eyes got wide and her mouth opened slightly. The look was mirrored in Mal's face. They both sighed. Based on their reactions, Buffy was beginning to get an inkling of what was going on, and she followed the expressions on her friends' faces as one by one they ended at the same surmise. This time it was Zoe's turn to speak up. “Sir? I think it's time we brought everybody in here. That way, no need to be explaining things twice.”
“Sounds like a good notion,” Mal agreed, “If, um, what are your names?”
“Buffy Summers.” At a quirk of the eyebrow from Mal, Buffy narrowed her eyes, daring him to make a comment.
“Willow Rosenberg. Hi.”
“If Buffy, and the rest of you, don't mind, I'd like to bring my crew in for this little gathering.” As Buffy opened her mouth and took a breath to begin a stern tirade with many hand gestures, Mal cut her off, “No weapons, o' course. No funny business.”
Buffy looked at Giles. She was suddenly feeling exhausted, and wanted her watcher's opinion. “What do you think?”
“I think Miss-Zoe has made a valid point. I don't want Xander to have to be levitated any more times than he has to.” One corner of Buffy's mouth tugged up in a half smile. “Well, alright, that's a lie,” Giles admitted, “but the fact remains that none of us wants to be here. The sooner we puzzle through all this, the sooner we can get home. I would much rather be in my library with a good book and a decent cup of tea.”
“You're so British.” Buffy shook her head. “Okay then, you heard the stuffy British man” she looked Mal directly in the eyes. “I want them to come in one at a time,” she ordered, “I want them unarmed, and I want to check each of them.” She gave him her 'You want to see if I'm bluffing?' eyebrow raise and Mal resentfully agreed to her conditions.
Mal got up-slowly-and walked-also slowly-through the door leading to the bridge. Buffy frowned and started to rise. Zoe placated her. “He's just getting on the speaker,” she explained, her words soon corroborated by Mal's voice coming a second later, metallic and tinny through the speakers.
“This is the captain. I need Kaylee, Wash, Simon, River, Jayne, Book, Inara, by the dining area doors, lined up outside single file, and no questions. Leave your weapons in your bunks.” A pause. “Jayne, I'm serious.”
“Wash, River, Book and Inara?” Buffy repeated incredulously, “And he thought my name was off? Um, ok.” Zoe lifted a hand to cover the smile that flickered disobediently across her face. *********
Give me feedback and I shall love you forever. We're talking epic, here.