The Wheels on the Bus...
Earth that was what?
Disclaimer: Both Buffy and Firefly are owned by Joss Whedon. I take no credit for them or their fabulous scripts and make no money…seriously don’t, it’s kinda sad.
Chapter 2: The Wheels on the Bus…
“So let me get this straight,” Wash asked as he and the rest of Serenity’s crew sat in small, synthetically-drafted pseudo leatherback benches on board a large yellow transport of some sort. “We went through an inter-dimensional portal of some type and landed on… I can’t even say it… EARTH!??” Zoe rested a hand on his shoulder and he took a deep breath to steady himself. “Really?”
A girl- no, a woman Simon realized; the jaded expression she wore all too easily assuring him she’d seen too much to still be a girl, though she couldn’t even be as old as Kaylee- with blonde hair and a tiny, almost mal-nourished frame replied, “Pretty much. Where are you from again?”
Mal, who had been strangely quiet since their encounter with the sorceress, err…witch, shuffled over on his bench so he was nearer to the conversation and the aisle and said, “We’re from a galaxy far far away and…”
“OH MY GOD!!” The man they’d called Andrew cried. He was still in a lot of pain, but somehow, he managed to pull himself to a sitting position and ask the startled captain excitedly, “Do you know Han Solo?!”
“I’m sorry,” the dark-haired man with a patch over his eye said as he gently pushed the Andrew fellow back and covered his mouth. “He’s in Sci-Fi remission.”
But Andrew wasn’t the only one in bad shape. A dozen girls were in just as serious a condition with nearly a dozen more with only slightly less severe injuries. The worst, by Simon’s quick estimation at any rate, was the dark-skinned man in the seat just behind the driver’s. He was critical and if the jarring didn’t kill him soon, his loss of blood was sure to.
Looking around the hot and crowded antique transport at all the wounded and suffering, Simon couldn’t help but wonder what prehistorical war they’d stepped into.
His fingers itching with the need to cure, sooth, and fix as many as humanly possible, Simon at last spoke up, addressing the diminutive blonde, “Umm…do you happen to have any medical supplies?”
She looked to him surprised, as if she’d just realized he was there and the full weight of her stare hit him. It was so…haunted. Just as tired and emotionless as River’s…
“Can we get back to the who any of you are thing? Because I’m still a little lost on that.” She turned her stony gaze back to Mal, as if instinctively knowing that he was their leader just as they knew she was theirs. “Is he even a doctor?”
Mal glanced at Simon. “Yes, and not too shabby a one at that…” He drifted off, unsure of what else to say or what to do next. Everyone seemed to be going without a chart, except for the blonde that was- that and the only older gentleman with them. He was the one driving the transport and appeared around Jayne’s age only he didn’t look like Jayne at all thankfully. He wore glasses and although he dressed in clothes like the rest of them- suited for blood and gore- he didn’t pull them off naturally, suggesting to Simon that he was more of a teacher or possibly even the kindred spirit of a fellow doctor; an academic.
Jayne himself was steaming, indecision making him even more monkey-brained than usual. “Go HWONG-TONG! What the ruttin’ hell are we doing and what the jung chi duh go-se dway is going on here!? We ain’t been given any answers yet ‘cept for some gorram bull about Earth that was!”
His eyes narrowing, Mal said in a steely voice even Jayne was forced to respect, “It’s enough when I say it’s enough, Jayne. And you will keep a civil tongue, especially in the presence of young ladies.”
“Wow, what was that?!” Andrew exclaimed, trying in vain to sit up and see what was going on before the eye-patch man once again shoved him lightly to the bottom of the bench’s worn seat.
“Chinese,” a cultured voice came, shouted from the driver’s seat.
“Thank-you G-man,” a woman’s voice called sarcastically from the front seat before she stood and began stalking back to where they were all seated in the back of the transport. “Now, doll-face,” the small brunette said dangerously as she rounded on Jayne, slipping into the bench in front of Mal’s public-relations disaster so she was only a few feet from him. She rested her arms on the seatback behind her and said languidly, “What the hell you doing speaking Chinese in a dump like this?” She finished with a wicked smile and Simon got the distinct impression that she was one of those girls his uptight mom would have considered ‘bad news.’
“I ain’t no doll-face you wahg-ba dan duh biao-tze.”
“Alright, alright!” Jayne muttered, throwing Mal his dirtiest look before he focused his glare once more on the smirking face of the doe-eyed dark woman. “But she better get out of my face before I break hers.”
“Ooooh. Is that a promise sweet-cheeks? -‘Cause I’d love a good excuse to crack that ugly jaw of yours.”
“Gorramit, Mal! Just let me hit her once! It’ll do this broad wonders, I’m sure of it.” Jayne grinned a grin as equally un-settling as the woman’s and cracked his knuckles menacingly.
“Bring it, big man!” the woman shouted, unaffected by Jayne’s size or muscles. But Simon saw something the others didn’t- the woman's body was not only compact and…well proportioned. It was also very taunt and the slim cords of muscles she possessed were tensed and ready. She was much, much stronger than they realized.
But before the two could lunge at each other and Simon’s theory could be proven right, the blonde interceded. “That’s enough, Faith. We don’t have time for a fight after just defeating the First Evil.” Faith didn’t move. The blonde tried once more in the weariest voice Simon had heard yet, “And Wood is still up there, dying all by himself...”
Faith sunk at that and quickly made her way back to the front without a backward glance at Jayne.
“I’m Buffy,” the blonde said suddenly from right beside Simon. He marveled at the speed she must have used to changed seats so fast, but then he was forced to marvel at the name she’d just produced as what she’d said finally sunk in. “Here you go,” and she shoved in his hands a small plastic box. He carefully opened the lid and found several adhesive bandages, wound solvents, sutures, gauze, and one very primitive looking iodine-based soap inside.
“Is this all you have?”
“Fraid so. Some of the bandages have already been distributed but we’d certainly appreciate your help…”
“Simon,” he supplied, extending his hand.
“Simon.” She grasped it very professionally, like a resident had his first day as an intern and they shook. Her grip was frighteningly strong and he suspected Buffy and her darker friend Faith were of the same physical caliber.
“I’ll get right to it.”
He started with the front, the man called ‘Wood’ being his foremost cause to worry. He patched him up as best he could and made his way to the back of the transport, stopping at each seat and checking to make sure the inhabitants who weren’t overtly wounded didn’t have any other problems.
A few of the teenage girls with minor scrapes had concussions and as he neared the back where Serenity’s crew and Buffy’s… whatever they happened to be were, he noticed the blonde herself had a pretty nasty forehead gash. Why hadn’t he seen it earlier?
Probably because he’d been too spooked with the entire situation to notice anything at all he reminded himself.
Looking up from her conversation with Mal she replied, “Yes?” and seeing him approach whispered, “How’s Wood?”
“Oh, well, I stabilized him as best as I could, but I don’t want to risk sutures until your transport stops. The jarring would only make the wounds messier.” He knelt down in the aisle by her bench and took out the water bottle he’d borrowed from one of the girls named Rona and a gauze from the small medical kit. “If I may?” He asked, stretching up with the moistened gauze to her forehead.
She sat motionless before him, her gaze locked onto his; her expressionless face and vacant eyes giving away nothing.
Simon tried to ignore her stare and instead focused on using the so-called ‘betadine’ soap- the backwardness of these medicines fascinated him- to disinfect her cut. He tried to be gentle, knowing the tissue over the frontal lobe to be extremely sensitive, but she never flinched.
He felt the soft fabric of a skirt brush his back and a lithe figure seat itself behind him on the bench opposite to Buffy’s.
“River, I thought you were going to stay with Inara,” Simon said pointedly, not breaking a stride in his cleaning procedure and hoping River was cognizant enough to pick up his less than subtle hint to go away.
“This is your sister?” Buffy asked, once again startling Simon.
“Oh, umm…yes. This is my younger sister River. River, this is Buffy.” According to his ever-present uptight upbringings, Simon would have then told River Buffy’s last name and her status, but having neither to go on, he simply trailed off and continued with the next step, the delicate process of rinsing off the betadine’s soapy residue while trying to keep Buffy’s top from getting soaked. It was turning into quite the challenge….
The quiet melody of River’s voice floated over Simon’s shoulder as she said, “The dulcimer…the genuine article. You are her.”
“Her who?” Buffy asked, at last tearing her eyes from Simon’s face. As she did, she jerked her head upward. Conceding defeat, Simon laid the gauze down and gave up the floor, awkwardly pushing himself up and past her to the window seat and waiting for her to turn back to him so he could finish. His knees had been killing him in that position anyway.
All Simon had to go on was the fountain of blonde hair tied in a swift pony-tail at the back of her head, but the way her shoulders tensed and her voice darkened as she nearly growled, “Who are you?” was enough to know that River wasn’t going to be making a new best friend anytime soon. Endearing as River was lately…
“A weapon, like you.”
Buffy rounded on Simon. “What the hell is this? We don’t need any more surprises on this bus!”
Simon raised his hands in defense and tried to say in what he hoped was a very soothing voice, “River’s just a troubled girl. She’s been through a lot… she doesn’t mean any harm.”
“But that’s always what I seem to get,” Buffy said with a sigh. “Oh well, finish up quickly doctor. I need to have a chat with the man up front.”
Simon nodded and resumed with the solvent, resting his hand to her delicate cheek to steady his other as her eyes continued with their vacant search of his.
He hoped she’d be appeased with whatever she found.
“And you really believe their story?” Giles asked as he continued to clutch the steering wheel with both hands when the only thing before them was more road in the middle of yet more desert.
“I’m not picking up any vibes contrary to that. The doctor, who’s by the way even more of a stiff than you were when I first met you in the library in your tweeds- you’d probably like the guy- is definitely a doctor.”
“And how could you possibly know that? Anyone with any modicum of brains could patch up a few abrasions.”
“His hands were soft.”
“Buffy, do you ever think that maybe apocalypses find only us for a reason?” Giles asked as he took one hand off the wheel to rub the bridge of his nose beneath is weathered glasses.
Exasperating Giles was Buffy’s other higher calling and it felt good to crack a smile for the first time in a very long and harrowing day. “Yea, I think they do.”
At his silence, she continued, “They know the Scoobies throw the best post-apocalypse parties.”
Drolly, Giles amended, “It’s my queso-dip. I suppose I should have know better than to unleash *that* on the world.”
Buffy and Giles grinned at each other. All the distrust and agonizing arguments they had endured over the past few weeks forgotten as the Watcher and Slayer remembered the reason they loved each other.
“I’m sorry Giles,” Buffy said to her mentor.
To his prized pupil, Giles quickly said, “No, I should be the one to apologize. I was in the wrong, on just about everything.”
“It doesn’t matter. You were doing what you thought was right.”
“So were you.”
“I don’t know, it was touch and go there for a while. Mostly with the winging it.”
Giles shook his head. “That’s not true and you know it. You were amazing, Buffy. I’ve never more proud.”
Even though he was driving, Buffy gave him a tight hug around the neck and for a second, the yellow school bus swerved slightly to the left. She quickly straightened up and Giles straightened the bus.
Faith, only a seat back, opposite the bench with Wood in the first row, said, “Gettin a little sappy there, B.”
“Shut up, Faith,” Buffy said with no real enthusiasm.
Faith stepped up between Buffy and Giles and asked casually, “So, tell me we’re not actually going to Cleveland, Watcher-man?”
“I’m not entirely sure where we should head. I was planning on stopping at the next major city with a hospital, but aside from that, I haven’t much considered it. Any ideas Buffy?”
“What? Why?” Faith and Giles asked together.
“Spike gave us the freedom to start anew. Let’s begin by rebuilding the Watcher’s Council.”
“Are those new people screwing with your head B, or are you just losing it?”
“Buffy, I must admit that I’m a bit confused by this request as well. The Council, to their deaths, proved a thorn in our, and especially your side. Why would you want to rebuild it?”
“Because we’re rebuilding it the way it should have been. As an institution to aid, train, and care for Slayers.” Faith continued to stare at Buffy as if she’d sprouted fangs but Giles seemed to be considering it.
“And a place to provide Watchers with the resources- in both training, books, and computer files- that they need in order to assist their assigned Slayers.” Giles nodded and Buffy knew he was on board.
“It’ll be a safe-haven and an excellent international base of operations,” Giles said thoughtfully.
“Exactly. A place where new Slayers can feel safe and get the proper training and where our older recruits can be deployed and return to when their missions are over.”
Faith rolled her eyes. “What about Cleveland, B? A Hellmouth is still a Hellmouth- even in Ohio.”
“And it deserves are full attention,” Buffy said rather evilly. “That’s why, once we’re set up, you and a team of your choice are going to be living there.”
Faith backed away a step. “No way in hell.”
“There’s always a way,” Giles said slowly.
“Absolutely!” Buffy agreed. “And we have faith…
The dark Slayer groaned. Maybe Cleveland would be better than prolonged exposure to B and her Slayerettes. Not to mention the munchkins.
Maybe she could even drag the new hottie doctor onto her ‘team’ to provide hospice care for Wood… now that idea had potential, Faith thought with a smirk as she and Buffy sat back down in the front to ground out the details with Giles. Willow and Xander would get filled in later. As for the kiddies and the newbies…well, they’d just have to learn.