Into the Black
: I do not own these characters. It all belongs to Joss. I'm just playing in his world(s).
Willow stared in shock at the spot where Xander should have been. Then she rounded on Amy.
“What did you do to Xander? Where is he?” The redhead knew black was bleeding into her eyes and hair as she spoke.
She ignored the Slayer. If Buffy knew what Willow did, she’d be just as furious.
They had been surprised to come across Amy Madison while taking a weekend break in Scotland, but even more surprised that she’d attacked with magic. They’d known she still held a grudge against Willow, but her name had appeared on the list of missing/believed killed in Sunnydale. No one had investigated closely. They’d had other things on their mind.
“That’s bought power, Amy. You’re not going to be able to beat me with that,” she snarled.
“I don’t have to beat you. That bought power already accomplished what I wanted to do. You’re never going to see your friend again.” Amy smiled vindictively. Then her smile turned toothy…as the world suddenly grew alarmingly large around her. Not again!
Buffy looked down at the rat. “Willll! I wanted to kick her ass before you made with the mojo.”
Willow’s hair was faintly streaked with black, but her eyes were back to their normal color.
“Sorry. I figured I’d better do something before I really went Dark Side on her.”
“Won’t she just transform right back?” Buffy asked, wondering if it would be fair to kick the rat.
“Nope,” Willow replied, conjuring a cage to put the rat in. “That bought power? She must have had some sort of artifact or pre-packaged spell, but it wasn’t something a person completely without magic could have activated. Using it took all the natural power she had. She drained herself. She’s going to be living the rodent life until I feel like turning her back again. If
I feel like turning her back again.”
She set the now caged rat aside, murmuring a spell to seal the cage shut. No accidental escapes for Amy the Rat.
“Buffy…I don’t know where Xander is. Wherever she sent him, it’s not on Earth. He could be anywhere. Anywhere but here.”
Buffy paused for a moment before answering. Willow sounded despondent, and she could see the doubt and fear in her eyes. Absent evidence to the contrary, she knew Wills would be picturing Xander in some Hell dimension, suffering and tormented. But it didn’t sound like there was a simple fix.
“Grab the rat and let’s get back to Headquarters, Wills. We’re going to find him and we’re going to get him back.”
Willow recognized Buffy’s Command Tone. While it was sometimes accompanied by bitchy behavior, generally when Buffy went into command mode, she got the results she was after. Willow took comfort from her friend’s attitude. As soon as they got back to Council Headquarters, they’d have no shortage of volunteers to help the search effort.
Xander was confused. One second he’d been wandering the Scottish countryside with his two best friends, the next thing he knew he was in what looked to be a warehouse of some sort. A warehouse with people pointing guns at him and swearing. In…Chinese?
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” He held his empty hands in the air to show he was unarmed. “Let’s all put the guns down and play nice! I come in peace! Even if I’m not entirely sure where it is I’ve come…”
Malcolm Reynolds was not a happy man. He’d been just about to turn in for the night when there had been a flash of light in the middle of his cargo bay. His yell had brought Zoë and Jayne running. He liked to think it was a manful sort of yell. But given that men appearing out of nowhere in the cargo hold while Serenity was in the middle of the gorram black with the nearest world three days away was a fairly singular occurrence, he wouldn’t argue if anyone contradicted him.
“How in the tyen shiao duh did you get on my boat?” he demanded of the newcomer, who seemed to be looking a mite surprised himself.
“I’m on a boat? Ok, well, much as I’d love to answer your question, I really don’t know. I’m as bewildered as I’m guessing you are,” the stranger replied.
Mal lowered his gun cautiously, keeping a sharp eye on the man. He knew Zoë was on the catwalk above and had a gun trained on the mystery man as well. If he didn’t, he would never have lowered his own. Who knows what this man who could appear out of nowhere like something out of a children's tale could do?
Xander looked at the woman standing above him, still pointing a gun at him. By her bearing, he knew she was a soldier. He kept his hands in plain view and stood still, trying to work out what to do.
“Um, is there anybody willing to step closer and check that I really am unarmed? I’m happy to move slow and keep my hands where you all can see them, but my arms are getting kinda tired.”
“Jayne?” Zoë said, in a tone that wasn’t quite order.
Another man stepped out from behind some crates, where he’d apparently worked his way around to a place where he could have jumped at Xander from behind if necessary. He was taller and more solidly built than Xander, which meant he was probably the muscle of this group. He looked Xander up and down before giving him a cursory frisk.
“He ain’t got nothing,” the big guy announced. Much to Xander’s relief the gun in the woman’s hands lowered.
“Thanks,” Xander said, lowering his arms but making sure to keep his hands in plain sight. It was clear that despite his lack of weapons, this crew didn’t trust him. Not that he could blame them.
“They don’t understand,” said a voice that startled everyone. “Magic hasn’t been real for a long time.”
As if his night weren’t headache inducing enough as it was, Mal thought. River was sounding decidedly less lucid than she had been of late. After Miranda, she’d mostly made sense. Not quite normal, but nowhere near as distracted and out of it as she had been before.
“Right, little Albatross, magic isn’t real. Which means there needs to be a logical explanation...”
“Men did what the First couldn’t,” she continued, ignoring the Captain. “Poked out all the eyes, easier to take the girls with nobody watching. Cut them up, put them back together again, trying to make the perfect weapon. Didn’t get it quite right.”
She was standing right in front of Xander now, staring at him. One hand reached out, almost as if she was going to touch his eye patch, but she stopped short, her hand ghosting through the air as if touching a phantom.
“The One Who Sees. Will one eye be good enough to watch with? The girl needs guidance.”
Jayne rolled his eyes. “Great, she’s gone all moonbrain again.”
River turned to glare at him, but to everyone’s surprise, the newcomer reached out a hand to restrain her, looking coldly at Jayne.
“Actually, she’s making a lot of sense. And considering she can demolish you with one hand behind her back, you might want to show a little respect.”
That made all the guns jump right back up at him.
“You want to be explaining how you come to know so much about our Albatross, or you’ll be getting off this boat right now,” Mal snapped.
River jumped in front of him, arms spread protectively. “NO! No guns!”
Xander sighed. “Look, since apparently I just got promoted to Watcher, it’s incumbent on me to be the grownup and ask everyone to calm down. Let’s all go sit down someplace and have a nice chat. Maybe even with Twinkies.”
“No Twinkies.” River informed him.
“What kind of boat is this,” Xander grimaced.
“Kind that’s never seen Earth That Was,” she replied.
“Earth that was
?” Xander asked in a strangled voice.