Disclaimer: These characters don’t belong to me. I play with them then give them back.
Buffy glanced around cabin they had been allocated. She had been offered a separate one to the guys but they had all declined, feeling safer being all in one place. Xander was lying on one of the bunks, staring at the ceiling and Spike, being Spike, was pacing up and down whilst attempting to light a cigarette.
This gave Buffy something to do. “Some of us would like to keep breathing” she snapped and grabbed the white stick from his mouth “and another thing, how come you are all gung ho and active now when you could scarcely move in the bar?”
Spike glared right back and grabbed his cigarette. “What d’ya expect Slayer, Vampire here. You think I could just ignore all that blood around me when I was about to bleed out. I’m not a bloody boy scout.”
Buffy paled and reached instinctively for a stake which wasn’t there. She could see Xander moving slowly and realized with surprise that he was carefully positioning himself to be able to take Spike from behind should it be needed.
Spike growled under his breath as he saw her actions. “Look Slayer” he sighed as he ran his hands through his hair “I didn’t kill any of them OK, they were knocked in my direction, I took a few sips, gave them nightmares to blame on the drugs and then moved on. They will all be alright come morning.”
Xander spoke “So we are supposed to believe that you were presented with three course banquet of blood and you turned down the main course and dessert, are we?”
Spike snapped, angry with himself for being so soft and with them when they refused to believe that he was trying to behave.
“Yes you are because, yes I did, Christ knows why.”
Xander was silent for a moment then looked at Buffy “Well I believe him Buff, what about you.”
Buffy nodded and crossed her arms “sounds OK to me, but you are so not smoking in this cabin. Now let’s vote for the top bunk.”
Spike looked astounded then scowled at them both. “What the hell are you both playing at? You never believe anything I say.”
Buffy frowned at him, God, he was going to make her explain, why couldn’t he just leave it. For a moment she thought about ignoring him but Xander’s raised eyebrow changed her mind. They did owe him an explanation.
“Look we are in this together and you know it as much as we do. We need each other and I don’t think you would jeopardise that by lying” she paused for a moment and then added quickly “even without the chip I sort of trust you Spike, but don’t ever tell anyone I said so or you are dead.”
Turning her back on him she continued “I need a shower, where do you think they keep the bathrooms on this thing, it’s not like I can ask, you seem to be the only one who can speak their language”.
Spike still looked bemused but decided to take her lead and ignore the extremely surprising explanation, at least for the time being “ ‘s not hard pet, it’s mainly English, just with an odd accent and with some Chinese thrown in there. Picked up enough of it in the Boxer Rebellion to make myself understood. It’s rusty but usable.”
Buffy tapped her foot and looked worried. “Easy for you to say but I managed to completely mangle French after 3 years of study. How the hell am I supposed to pick up Chinese?”
Xander smiled “it’s not so bad Buffy; I was listening carefully to Spike and the Captain when they were organising our cabins and I think I was starting to catch on. Like Spike says it’s just a different accent, most of the words are the same and they seem like nice folk, they can teach us”.
Buffy sighed and sat down on the bunk “Sorry to be all misery Buffy but I guess things are catching up on me. I’m worried about Dawn and the others, we have no idea where we are or how to get back home. This is all too much, a new language, spaceships, inhabited planets, it’s like we’re in a Star Trek episode.”
Xander and Spike glanced at her white face and then at each other. Xander stood and gently pushed Buffy to the door “Go find your shower Buffster, get clean and we’ll all get some sleep. We can sort all this out in the morning.”
“Showers are just down to the right” added Spike “and they are just for us so no problem about being disturbed, just go and relax.”
Mal lent back in his chair and looked at Book and Zoë. “Well, did anybody understand a word they were saying?”
Zoë shook her head “understood some, but not enough to make sense of it. Thing of it is, I felt as if I could understand it if they just spoke more, it’s like the words almost make sense but not quite.”
Mal nodded “the blond understands us and he can make himself understood but his accent is just downright peculiar.”
Book looked uncertain, opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again, shaking his head slightly. Mal glanced at him “something to say Shepherd?”
Book sighed “It took me a little while to work it out, but I think I can understand them. I studied classics in the seminary, ancient history, languages and religions. These three appear to speaking an ancient form of English, many of the words and sentence structures vanished several hundred years ago. We understood the blond man because he was mimicking us right from the beginning but it was hard to follow some of it because his Chinese is a very ancient form.
Mal scowled “What you trying to say Shepherd.”
“I’m not trying to say anything” said Book calmly, “I’m saying that these three are using English that was used over 500 years ago on Earth and one of them is using Chinese which is even older.”
Zoë frowned “some of the outer planets use old languages, been out of touch for centuries. They might have come from one of them.”
Well how the hell did they get here” scowled Mal “and what are we going to do with them.”
Zoë grinned “they are right good in a fight Captain, that little blonde girl has some real good moves and the dark haired guy might look harmless but he was downright vicious protecting her back, didn’t let anything through.”
Book nodded “they are both very protective of her but they both look to her for any decisions.”
Mal scowled “I don’t trust them, especially not the short blond guy; there is something I just don’t like about him.”
“They helped us out in there” said Zoë, “we might not have made it out without them. We owe them.”
Mal sighed and rubbed his head in frustration “Yes, yes we do.” He thought for a moment “Let them clean up and we’ll drop them on the next planet that suits them – no charge.
They have a free journey and our obligation is filled.”
He turned to Book “You seem to understand them best, go talk to them and find out where they want to go” he paused “but not too far out of our way, I’m not wasting fuel on them and we have a job to do.”
Book lips twitched slightly as he took in the Captain’s frustration at the interference of their plans but nodded silently. Truth be told he was itching to talk to the three strangers anyway, there was something about them that rang a great many bells and he needed to check some things out. As he moved out of the cabin Mal called out to him
“Oh and Book – keep them to the main areas, we don’t want them bumping into our other guests now do we.”