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Five By Five, Sister

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Sidle Up and Smile". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Mal was her son, all right: oddly perceptive at the most inconvenient times, and obstinately blind when he didn't care to see what was in front of him. (Ancient Slayers 'verse).

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > General(Current Donor)jedibuttercupFR1357,786105521,7264 Aug 101 Sep 13Yes

The Part Where It's a Trap

Title: The Part Where It's a Trap

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.

Summary: B:tVS/Firefly. Buffy could feel her all the way across the room, like she could feel Faith: a tickle in the back of her mind that could mean only one thing. 1200 words.

Spoilers: Very post-Chosen and post-Serenity.

Notes: For the August Fic-a-Day; one more bit in this 'verse, moving the last piece into place before the eventual longfic still percolating in the back of my mind. I'd kind of hinted at this before, but here's spelling it out....



Buffy's first impression of her son's home was of a warm, functional space: cargo tied down to the sides of a wide hold painted a clean, aged silver, scrubbed grates underfoot, and a hovermule chained up above the catwalks. Like the exterior of the ship, like her crew, the interior had seen its fair share of scars, but it was well cared for. At least a few of the things she'd tried to teach him as a child must've stuck.

She followed him across the hold to the stairs, boots striking familiar echoes off the metal walls. It really didn't look much like the Jīngwèi, the ship his father had piloted, now that they were inside, but the sounds were the same, from the way voices and footsteps reverberated through the air ducts to the faint thrum of the engine spinning quietly at rest. It wasn't home to her the way it obviously was to Mal-- she could see him relaxing with every step further up and in-- but it did remind her of better, more hopeful times. Gideon had been a better man than she had deserved.

So was Mal, really. Even without the Council's urging, she probably would have looked him up again after the Miranda broadwave; she was prouder of him than she could ever say. Ship, cause, and crew, he'd chosen well-- especially his lieutenant, who'd stepped up to his shoulder without pause or doubt when Mal had reacted poorly to Buffy's unexpected presence. She was pleased her son had such defenders.

The hasty meeting in the Maidenhead hadn't included all of Mal's crew, though; Buffy kept an eye out for the mechanic, the erstwhile Companion, and the interesting 'passenger' the Council's intel referred to as they reached the heart of the ship, a lounge and kitchen space surrounding a long dining table. Several chairs stood in welcome around the heavy oak expanse, enough for the current crew plus Buffy and Faith-- or the old crew plus a few passengers, before they'd come up against a Parliamentary Operative. A younger woman in flower-patched coveralls with her hair pulled up in tidy buns was already in the room, eyeing the strangers with a cheerful, curious smile.

"Hey, Cap'n," the woman said. "Hey, Miz Fay; nice to see you again! And I'm guessin' you're our new passenger? I'm Kaylee Frye."

"Hey to you, too, Miz Kay," Faith replied with a warm smile as Buffy shook the offered hand.

This had to be the keeper of fare her son had mentioned; and the enthusiastic engineer Faith had spoken about. "As far as records go, I'm Xiăochén Williams, but you can call me Buffy," she said.

"Xiăochén? That's a pretty name; but then, so's Buffy. Unusual," Kaylee smiled back.

"Also news to me," her son grumbled, turning the chair at the head of the table around and plunking himself down on it, arms crossed over the back. "I've heard you called Elizabeth, Liz, Beth, even Bea sometimes when Aunt Fay was around, but never Buffy. That your original name?"

She saw Kaylee startle at his tone, and sighed. "Better call the rest of your crew, ér zi," she reminded him. "I'd rather explain it as few times as possible."

Especially if the rumored girl-type passenger really was what Buffy suspected; the Alliance's record with Slayers, active and potential both, wasn't pretty. They poached them out from under the Council when they could, and few survived the Blue Hands' less than gentle treatment even when they weren't killed outright. She'd need to hear Buffy's story, and share her own in turn, if she was to keep surviving now that every purple-bellied eye in the Five Systems was watching for her.

Mal raised his eyebrows at Kaylee; the mechanic nodded and turned away, heading for the back of the ship again. "I'll fetch 'Nara," she said. "Simon and River should be in the passenger quarters."

"Hey, you want anything to drink while we're waitin'? Or a snack? Still got me some left over apples from our last market stop," her son's merc, Jayne, murmured to Faith behind her. Apparently the meeting he and Zoë had stayed for hadn't lasted long-- or she'd been lost in thought outside longer than she'd realized.

"Shit, yeah; anything high-proof sounds good," Faith snorted, sidling around the table to drop into the chair two down from Mal. Jayne moved to the wall of cabinet lockers as Zoë headed for an aft stairwell, undoubtedly to collect the afore-mentioned Simon and River.

Two passengers, then? Right; Buffy had heard somewhere there was a brother. But why did those names sound familiar? She shook her head, then pulled out the chair at Mal's right. This day had been a long time coming, but that hadn't made it any easier to prepare for.

Before she could take her seat, though, a fast clatter of feet came up the stairs from the direction Zoë had taken, and a sudden premonition of dread shot through her. A long-limbed girl all wide eyes, dark hair, and bare feet pelted into the room, outpacing Mal's lieutenant, then skidded to a stop, eyes fixed on Buffy's face.

Buffy could feel her all the way across the room, like she could feel Faith: a tickle in the back of her mind that could mean only one thing. The Slayer had passed; long live the Slayer. And there was something more....

"Wài pó?" the girl whispered, her expression the too-familiar make it better of a wounded child. "It isn't right; it isn't fair. We showed them false, but they still haven't stopped!"

"Oh, God," Buffy said; because of course. Of course. She should have guessed, when she'd heard the rumors about disappearances on Osiris. The Powers could be real assholes that way.

"Grandmother?" Mal choked, his tone half-disbelief, half-accusation. "You ain't sayin'...."

Glass shattered on the floor from Jayne's direction. "No ruttin' way."

More feet were approaching from various directions, clamoring questions, but Buffy's arms were suddenly too full of slim, clinging Slayer to track the details.

"I'm here now, wài sūn nǔ," she murmured into the girl's hair, holding her close. "I'm here," she repeated, looking up through watery eyes to spy a young man who was obviously River's brother, Buffy's several-greats-grandson Simon; Kaylee flocking anxiously to Simon's side; an elegant young woman with worried eyes resting a delicate hand on Mal's shoulder; Jayne, who took a long swig from a bottle, then plunked it on the table in front of Faith; and finally Zoë, who was watching not Buffy but Mal.

For five hundred years, her only tightly-held family in the 'verse had been her sister Slayer; Buffy had preferred it that way, loving lightly to protect her heart from the shattering pain of her last years on Earth. But for better or worse, she had one now, one she wouldn’t be able to leave behind.

The Powers had wanted her back in the game? They'd got her.

But it was going to be on her own terms, or no one's.

"I didn't know you were here," she said to River, to all of them; "but I do, now. And boy, are they gonna regret it."

-~-

Xiăochén - early morning (aka, Dawn)
ér zi - son
Wài pó - grandmother (mother's mother)
wài sūn nǔ - granddaughter (daughter's daughter)

-~-

The End

You have reached the end of "Five By Five, Sister". This story is complete.

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