Home Again, Home Again
Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to Buffy or Firefly
A/N: All good things must come to an end. Many thanks for those who read, and those who recommended my fic. At the time of publishing this final chapter, they are: annararen, bucksavage, Catherine, Condatis, Jorrie, mistressarts, Rosette, Runewolf, ScottWanderer, and Shatterstar.~~~~~
Xander leapt and piked the ball through the large hoop suspended from the hold ceiling by a chain. He had no idea what the game was called, or if it even had a name, but it was clean, innocent fun, and they'd had little enough of that lately. Besides which, he was tall enough to get it in, which made up for Faith's ability to both jump and throw. Of course, if they'd let them stay on the same team, it wouldn't be so bad, but no! They had to put him on the other team to Faith and Dawn. Something about it not being fair on the others if the three of them ganged up on everybody else. Fair, schmair! They were his girls.
The game was interrupted by River running up to him, holding his cell phone. He looked at her, surprised, since the phone had long since run out of battery, what with no way of recharging it on Serenity. Then he realised something. “How'd you get this,” Xander asked.
River shrugged, smiled, and held it out.
Xander took the phone, and shook his head. The others had gathered around, curious about the piece of unknown technology in his hand.
“What is that?” Jayne demanded, leaning over to get a good look at it.
“Home phoning ET,” River explained cheerily.
Xander looked up at her, then back down at the phone when it suddenly powered up, and began to ring. Startled, he dropped the phone, but Faith caught it, and answered.
“Hey,” she greeted simply, before flicking on the speaker-phone function.
“Faith?” Willow squealed. “Is that you? Goddess, we weren't sure if we'd even be able to call you. We can't find you anywhere,” she babbled. “You're, like, totally off the grid. The location spell just went kablooey, but we weren't sure if that was because you were too far away, of if it was just because I'd hidden your auras, and even though I did a reversal there was no way of knowing if it worked, 'cause you guys weren't there, and it was total guess-work, though Giles did say that it had a good chance of working, and he went over everything with me, and Tara was there, helping, 'cause she's much with the helpfulness, and -”
Xander laughed at the sound of his best friend's voice. “Merciful Zeus!” he cried, interrupting her flow. “Breathe, Will. You need to breathe.”
“You sure about that?” Mal mumbled.
“Will,” Dawn gushed, “is everyone okay? How is Buffy? How are Giles, and Spike, and Tara? Is Glory gone? Can we come home, now?”
“Everyone's fine,” Willow assured the girl. “Glory got to Tara and scrambled her mind, but we got her essence back, and she's fine, now. She also got Spike, she hurt him really bad, but he's all good now. Missing his Niblet,” she added, and they heard a faint snarl in the background. “Oh, shush, Spike,” Willow admonished. “We all know you are. Anyway, we just need to figure out where you are, and we can open a portal to get you home. Are you okay to come?”
Xander looked around, and cleared his throat nervously. “Uh, yeah. We've kind of got an audience,” he offered. “Who've kind of heard every word you've just said.”
There was a pause, then a very quiet, “Oh.”
“We're also kind of a long way from home, Will,” Xander added. “That would be why you couldn't find us.”
“Huh,” Willow grunted. “Okay. Oh, okay. I see now. Well, what I'm going to have to do is, um, oh! I'm going to have to join with Giles and Tara, then call you back. The three of us should have enough power to get you home,” she decided.
“Okay,” Xander grinned. “That's great. We're really looking forward to going home. So, uh, we'll go pack? You'll have to call us, 'cause we weren't able to recharge the phones. Looks like you're powering the phone yourself.”
“Okay. Well, you go and pack, and try to get somewhere clear. I'll try to call back in, say, thirty minutes?” Willow suggested.
Xander grinned at the others. “Sounds good to me. See you then.” He waited for Willow to end the call, then pocketed the phone. “Time to go.” With that, the three raced back to their rooms, and quickly packed their bags, while the crew remained in the hold, wondering what was going on.
Mal turned to the reader. “River? You understand what's going on here?”
“They can't stay,” River explained mournfully. “They were only here for Miranda, and now it's time for them to go.”
“Where to?” Mal asked. “Where are they from?”
“Earth-That-Was,” River nodded.
“You gone moon-brain on us again, girl?” Jayne demanded. “People ain't been there in five hundred years.”
“Not Earth-That-Is,” River frowned. “Earth-That-Was. Not this time,” she went on, “but that time.”
Simon frowned, and shifted slightly. “Are you talking about time travel? That they are from the past, and came forward to help us?”
River nodded enthusiastically. “That, too. I think. Or they may have just slipped sideways between dimensions. There are other forces at work,” she considered, “and I don't fully grasp the physics of magic. If there are any. And the red tree is too far away for me to talk to.”
Jayne sidled up to Simon. “She ain't havin' no relapse, is she, Doc?”
Simon frowned at his sister, and noticed a slight twitch to her lips. He rolled his eyes. “No, Jayne, I don't think she is. I think she's just playing with us.”
“Don't mean she ain't right about the magic, though,” Faith nodded as she returned with her bags. “Magic is how we got here, and magic's how we're getting back.”
“Magic,” Simon offered doubtfully.
“Magic, demons and vampires,” Faith nodded. “Of course, I could just bench-press Jayne here, if you wanted some proof. Magic made me what I am.”
“Magic made me, too,” Dawn added. “Although, a bit more directly than with Faith.”
“So your friend back home is just going to wave her hands, and you'll just disappear?” Mal frowned.
“Pretty much,” Dawn nodded. “Although it might be more that they but some stinky herbs, say some words, and tear a hole in the time-space continuum. Which we will then just walk through.”
“Uh huh,” Mal grunted. “Anyone else a little … fazed by this?” As he looked around, Mal saw each one of them raise a hand. “Good to know I'm not alone.” He nodded to Xander as the younger man walked back into the hold, carrying his two bags.
“I'm missing some stuff, Jayne,” he began. “Not that I'm accusing anyone of anything, Jayne,” he went on, “but there are a few things I couldn't find.” He smirked as the other man shifted uncomfortably. “So... I guess this is where we say goodbye?” he asked.
“That it would be, I guess,” Mal nodded. “So. You came here for us, then, did you?”
Xander looked at the other two. “No. We came for Dawn. We were sent for you. There's a subtle difference, but it's there.” Mal nodded, and Xander went on. “We're going to miss you. You took us on, and kept us when you didn't need to. You put up with us. We wanted to thank you for that.”
“Ain't no cause to thank us,” Mal objected. “You done pulled your weight, more than, even. Without you, I'd be down a pilot, and my First Mate her husband, not to mention what would have happened at Haven. That's a debt no man can repay,” he nodded.
Faith shrugged. “It's what we do. And it's been nice,” she went on. “Quiet,” she explained, and Xander and Dawn nodded.
Wash frowned. “The way you talk, Earth-That-Was weren't that nice a place.”
Xander looked at his friends, and shrugged. “It was okay. No Reavers, of course. And no spaceships. Except the Shuttles and things like that, and they barely go to the Moon. But Sunnydale can be pretty bad at times.” Dawn snorted, so Xander went on, “Okay, a lot of the time. There's always something going on, and we try to keep things from blowing up too much. So this was nice. Apart from … well, you know.”
They all nodded solemnly, and were quiet for a while.
Xander jumped suddenly, and pulled the cell from his pocket. He grinned, and took the call, activating the speaker-phone. “Hey,” he chirped.
“Hey, there,” Buffy called. “You all ready to go, now?”
“Ready, willing and able,” Dawn called.
“Coolness. Okay, make sure you're together with your stuff, and away from everything else. Will's going to try and pull you back, just like you went there in the first place.”
“Okay, Buff,” Xander grinned. “Talk to you soon.” He looked up, then, and faced the people who'd been family to him for the last few months. “So this is goodbye.” He felt the magic stir, and shivered. He looked at Faith and Dawn, both of whom were beginning to glow. “Thanks,” he said to the others in the hold. “For everything.”
Mal looked at the three youngsters now shining bright in his hold. Dawn's hair had begun to float and wave about in a non-existant wind, while Xander's eyes were glowing green. He was going to miss the three of them, though he understood about the need to go home, to be with family. He looked around the hold at his family, gathered and teary now to see friends parting. “You stay safe, now, you hear?” he demanded.
Xander waved at him, even as he faded from view. There was a sudden flash, and Mal saw something flying towards him. He grabbed at it reflexively, and blinked his eyes. He looked, and saw that the three visitors were gone. He looked down at his hand, and saw the phone they had been using to talk to their friends.
Simon drew close, and peered at it. “That is Earth-That-Was technology,” he observed. “That would be incredibly valuable, if you ever decided to sell it.”
Mal looked at him, and nodded. A last gift. He wondered if he could part from it, or if he should keep it, just in case they wanted to talk to him. Then there was another flash, and something dropped to the floor in front of them.
Kaylee picked it up, and looked at it. It was a cable of some sort, tied to a note. She glanced at Mal, then opened the note. “'Hey, all,'” she read. “'Just to let you know that we're not going to be able to call you on the phone. I thought we might be able to, but Willow says it'd take too much power. So I sent you the charger for the phone, and thought that maybe you could sell it. I figure an antique like this should be valuable. Old, Earth-That-Was technology, and all that. So this is going to have to be our final goodbye,'” she went on, tears forming in her eyes. “'Good luck, and God bless, and all that. Live long and prosper, as Spock would say. May your jobs be profitable, as many as you want, and all Reaver-free. Lots of love, Xander, Faith, and Dawn,'” she finished, sad smile on her face.
Inara moved in, and slipped an arm around the younger woman's shoulders.
Mal took the letter, and read it, before folding it and tucking it into a pocket. “Well, that sorts that, then,” he nodded. “I guess we should set course for Beaumonde. Time to find some work, maybe a dealer for this phone.” With that, he nodded, and took the phone and charger back to his room.
Simon looked around at the group. “Tea?” he asked.~~~~~
A/N: Good night, fare well, and thank you for coming.