Sitting in the shuttle pod, Buffy suddenly realised that she didn’t feel the residual pain from her slow healing injuries any more. She carefully stretched in several different directions and found that she no longer hurt.
“Aeryn,” she said, and her friend turned towards her, raising a questioning eyebrow. “I think I know why my healing wasn’t working so fast. I’m fine now, I feel…fantastic, which I haven’t since I landed on Moya. I think it was being on a planet rather than out in space. I could feel Sineya connecting to the planet, I assume, because we are meant to protect planets, that we need them when we’re injured.”
Aeryn nodded, fairly sure that anything she attempted to say would be lost in translation.
“So, anyway,” Buffy shrugged, again relishing the completely pain free motion, “I think I could probably demonstrate some of those moves I couldn’t quite get the last time we sparred for you.”
“That’s good, Buffy,” Aeryn said. “Now, pay attention. Name it.” She pointed to the different controls, and Buffy gave the names of each, a collection of gurgles, clicks, oddly musical notes and glottal stops.
“Very good,” Aeryn told her, grinning.
“Thank you,” the blonde replied in Sebacean, grinning proudly. Aeryn grinned back, glad to have been able to put that expression on her face. The girl had the right to be proud of her accomplishment – she had only learnt the names of the various controls and instruments on the trip down.
They arrived back on Moya not ten minutes later, and were soon caught in a frenzy of unpacking, Buffy providing heavy lifting and the crew members, when John and Aeryn weren’t available, restricted to a simple point at a container and a single word description of the destination, or the job would never have gotten done.
Finally, Buffy took her own things, her new clothes and a couple of knickknacks that had reminded her of home, to her room. There were a few other things she had wanted, blades in particular, but the quality of the workmanship was too poor for her to bother with. Aeryn had assured her that they would find a planet with at least one decent weapons dealer.
Aeryn had also broached the topic of teaching Buffy how to use a pulse pistol. While she wasn’t sure about it, she knew that she needed to, and her only real problem with firearms was her lack of expertise.
She knew that Sineya prefered old weapons, she had had a long time to get used to them as they changed over the centuries, and that she didn’t necessarily like the idea of killing from a distance, as it lacked the satisfaction of hands on, one on one sparring.
However, Aeryn had helped her to see the sense of learning how to use it, pointing out that t was the weapon that the people coming after her would be armed with, and so she was now the proud owner of an empty holster just waiting for the ex-peacekeeper to be satisfied with her proficiency before it was filled.
Aeryn and John finished unpacking their portion of the shopping, then Aeryn took John’s hand and tugged him away from the others to talk.
“How did it go?” he asked quietly as he cradled her against his front, his lips tickling the shell of her ear.
“Well, I think. She was happy to get things of her own. And I’ll tell you something else, John, at the rate she soaks up new vocabulary we’ll be able to communicate a lot better very soon. She’s memorised, in the space of our trip, the names of all of the controls and things in the pod.”
“That is impressive. She seems to be handling things pretty well, for the most part, but I can’t really get her to talk to me, not about how she’s feeling. I think, in her case, it’s a female thing. She’s just not comfortable talking about it with a guy.”
Aeryn frowned thoughtfully, then shook her head. “I think you’re wrong, John. I think the real problem is that she has been so responsible for taking care of everyone else for so long that she isn’t used to anyone taking care of her. She doesn’t want to burden anyone else so she keeps it all to herself.”
John thought about Aeryn’s words, nodding thoughtfully. “You’ve talked to her more than I have, I’ll trust you on this one. My experience with Earth women doesn’t stretch to someone with her life experience. I spent time with some Air Force physicists, but only one of them had seen battle, and Sam was a fighter pilot, she didn’t deal with the enemy close up and personal.”
“Thank you,” Aeryn replied, before turning and capturing his lips with her own. There was one other piece of news she wanted to share with him, but she hadn’t quite decided how to do it, so for now she would keep procrastinating.
Zhaan watched as the young human child helped to unload the transport pod. She herself was restricted to foreman duties, allowed only to direct traffic flow and observe, her unwieldy bulk making her more of a hindrance than help.
Buffy looked better than she had since her arrival on Moya, her posture fully relaxed, her skin colour glowing. She glided through the group in a way that she hadn’t before, similar in movement to some of the feline races Zhaan had encountered throughout her lifelong journey. Before, her movements had hinted at the potential for such grace, but it had remained unrealised.
The work was soon complete, the various things people had requested ferried to their destinations, and Moya’s crew once more settled down to day-to-day existence.
A week had gone past since Buffy’s first trip planetside. During the intervening period, Buffy had proven herself completely competent with the firearms of this end of the galaxy, and had managed to obtain her own preferred weapons as well.
Buffy had almost laughed herself sick when she entered a bar with John and Aeryn and came face to face with a demon who could have been Clem’s cousin. It turned out that while they were the same species, the ones here had no more knowledge of Earth and their kin there than any of the population of the unchartered territories.
But now, Buffy was on edge. There was something coming, something bad, and she could feel it. She just couldn’t get anyone else in the crew to truly credit it. She had been feeling it for two days, which she was forced to admit was the longest she had ever received a constant warning.
Zhaan, through John, advised her towards calm reflection, which would surely show her the truth of what her senses were trying to show her. She believed that Buffy was confronting the trauma of losing her home and family, not that she was sensing danger as she claimed.
As for the others, while they didn’t dismiss her out of hand, they also made no overt attempts to find out what might be setting off her so-called ‘spidey-sense’. Buffy was frustrated and on edge, sure that, at any moment, something very, very bad was going to happen. She just couldn’t prove it.