Disclaimer: All characters belong to their rightful owners. I do not own any of them.
A/N: Sorry for the wait. We have a guest author. His username is haldur. He's new to the realm and wanted to get his chapter in my tale just right. Enjoy.
Buffy and Willow stood over Xander. Giles approached from behind them, cradling a decaying volume in his hands.
"There was this guy," Xander started breathlessly. "And this little girl, Messy, I think her name was..."
"Did you have a burrito or something?" Willow asked.
Xander pinched his eyes, yawned, and said, "What now?"
"I always have bad dreams when I eat spicy food," Willow continued, rubbing her hands together. "Maybe you need something to drink?"
"Yeah, that'd be real nice," Xander replied, sitting up. Buffy handed him a small porcelain cup. "Thanks, Buff. Hey look, R2-D2!"
"It's actually Giles' tea," Buffy whispered. "The big dork."
"What, you've never seen Star Wars?" Willow said. Buffy cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah, me neither."
Xander took a sip from the cup just as a loud blast quaked somewhere above them that sent a torrent of tea into the air. Blinding light streamed through the library's windows as books and documents fell to the floor all around. Giles stood in the doorway of his office, holding on for dear life.
"Another earthquake I presume?" he called out as the rumbling grew louder.
"Don't think so," Buffy said, crouched near the desk. "Sounds like a giant fan or..."
"It's an engine," Xander exclaimed, his face pressed to the glass of the window looking out upon Sunnydale High's lawn. "From a big honking spaceship!"* * * * * * *
'It can't be,' Xander thought as they ran outside with the rest of the school; and about half of Sunnydale's window-shoppers. They all stood with mouths agape, as the landing gear of the insect-shaped vessel lowered and the engine spewed small thrusts of fire. The rear cargo bay hatch opened and three figures stepped down from the loading structure. A few students chattered amongst themselves as the first one, a brash middle-aged man in a brown coat cleared his throat and started to speak.
"What the heck's he saying?" Willow asked, echoing what everyone else was thinking.
"Sounds familiar," Xander replied, arms crossed. "It's Chinese!" He looked around his small circle of friends, all their faces nonplussed.
"Mandarin, I think," Xander continued. Buffy turned her attention away from the abomination before them all.
"Xander," she whispered. "Unless you can translate, give it a rest!"
"What? So I've watched a couple kung-fu flicks."
A group of clueless juniors cooed and giggled at the brown-coated man's bodyguard, a soldier-type with a hulking machine gun strapped to his arm.
"Well, reckon they don't speak our language, gang," the brown-coat man said as he stepped onto the lawn. "Is there an authority figure sort of person around here?"
Xander nudged Giles, who quietly snapped out of his puzzled haze and stepped forward.
"Malcolm Reynolds," the man in the brown coat said, extending his hand. "Good to be back on TerraFirma."
Giles cleared his throat and looked back at the onlookers. "Everyone, back inside, please!" The throng of students shuffled away slowly as they cleared the common. Giles could see Principle Snyder's bald head shimmering in the afternoon sun.
"Look, Mr. Reynolds," Giles said, as he approached the ship.
"No need for formalities, mister," Mal replied. "It's Mal."
"Mal, I'll be very frank with you in saying that Sunnydale High's principle's a hot-head of sorts."
"Shiong mao niao?" Mal asked. "You know, firewater drinker?"
"What in the gods green earth is going on out here?" Snyder said, shielding his eyes from the midday sun to take in the bizarre craft beside the library. "Do you have a permit for that thing?"
"What, that?" Mal asked, turning to his ship. "That's Serenity, my ship."
"Ship?" Snyder quipped.
"Yessir, she's a 03-K64 Firefly-class--"
"It's a spaceship, Mr. Snyder," Xander said, sneaking up between Buffy and Giles.
"Space?" Snyder muttered, face red with emotion.
"It's actually a...what would you call it?" Buffy added, prodding Giles with her boot heel.
"Movie prop," Giles replied.
"Prop?" Snyder asked, clutching a handkerchief. "They're shooting a movie...here? In Sunnydale?"
"Ahem, this is California, sir," Xander quipped. Snyder furrowed his brow and stood with hands on hip. "Might as well be Hollywood, you know."
Mal whispered something to the hired gun, who turned and disappeared inside Serenity.
"That's the director, as a matter of fact," Buffy added.
"Do you people have some kind of...kinda permit or something?" Snyder said, wiping his brow. Mal crossed his arms, a discerning frown upon his face.
Giles took Snyder by the arm and led him back inside the school. The principal appeared to listen to what Giles had to say, but every so often he shot a glare back over his shoulder at the behemoth that was sullying his pristine lawn.
"That's one tenacious little pup," Mal said, hands on hips. "Poor fellow."
"You don't know the half of it," Xander said.
"I'd like to know how we got back to Earth," Mal continued, leaning against Serenity. "And I'd like to meet the..."
"Evening, Malcolm!" Q said, perched on a nearby wall. "I'm glad you could join us."
Mal spun, drew his weapon, and fired. The blast ricocheted off the brick behind Q's head.
"Wait!" Xander called out. The world went white for a moment, disappearing into a screeching vacuum. Xander looked all around. The universe, infinite and swirling calmly just beyond the white ether, stretched out and shifted. This can't be, he thought. Or did he say it? He looked down at his hand.
But he could not move. Not yet.
He thought about his family and how he was gonna take out the trash. He laughed to himself at this thought. He thought of Sunnydale, microscopic and insignificant from where he was standing. He thought of Buffy, Willow and Giles. And the weird spaceship that had descended upon them, its crew armed to the teeth. What did they want with Q? It didn't matter.
He wished Mal and his ship away. He wished for his memories to fall away, trickle down some galactic drain somewhere in the black. He wished Buffy and Willow to be sitting around the table in the library, Giles in his office pouring over some ancient text, and Snyder having some trivial malady falling upon him. Maybe he could spill his coffee or pull a nostril hair with a little too much gusto. That would be nice.
Then he saw Q, beckoning him, urging his hand to raise up before his face. Xander turned it slowly, feeling the prickly chill from the emptiness of space.
On a whim he snapped his fingers. The white vacuum around him surged forward and he was thrust through a wormhole. His life seemed to pass before his eyes. From his birth to his death, he saw everything. Saw the threads that bound his life to his friends and their lives to others he had yet to meet.
A wordless scream escaped his lips as he watched the thread of his life as it unraveled from his ordained future and begin, slowly, to reform into something new and different. Something shiny. He felt a sharp jerk and his world spun out of focus. A second later his vision cleared and he found himself hovering over Sunnydale. The pit of his stomach rumbled and he wavered uncomfortably on his heels as he came back down to earth.
"Whoa, baby," he muttered, gazing out upon the pristine lawn of Sunnydale High. Not a cloud in the sky. It seemed that school was back in session. Midday. The two Landscapers that stood by started up a big green lawnmower; one of them waved him along.
"Did you guys just...see that?" Xander waited for an answer, but got nothing.
The rumble of the mower echoed through his mind and across the school grounds. A small robin landed several feet away on the stoop to the back patio, and hopped around for a moment. Xander followed it from the lawn as it ascended to the roof; it sat perched there, looking down at him.
He recalled a dream he had some months, maybe years, before. He was walking down a foggy alley at dawn, barely able to see his hands before him, the cries of ravens emanating from somewhere distant. Waves crashed nearby, the clang of a bell. Footsteps approached him from behind as a little girl appeared through the fog, her red locks bouncing rhythmically with every step. She pulled at his coat and whispered in his ear.
He rose slowly and walked toward the whispering surf, the light of a lighthouse shone out along some craggy isle in the bay. The red-headed girl glared at him longingly from the far side of the walkway, sobbing faintly and whispering still, "Remember your dreams, remember your destiny."
Xander woke from the daydream, holding a hand to his left eye. A short pain streaked through the nerves within, wavered somewhere in the recesses of his skull, and disappeared. He looked over his shoulder. It was that feeling, that feeling of someone looking upon your every move, wanting to change something, wishing for the inevitable.Crossover