Looking For An Escape
Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to Buffy or Firefly
A/N: This is set early in Season 5 Buffy, with a major difference being that Faith and Buffy got counselling for the friendly fire incident that caused Deputy Mayor Finch's death. To deal with the inherent problems arising from two Slayers in close proximity, Sunnydale was split between them, with clearly defined territories for them to patrol. It was a close-run thing, but Faith didn't go bad, but, instead, assisted the Scoobies during Graduation, and onwards. As for Firefly/Serenity: this is set post-series, pre-movie.
A/N: Warnings for occasional language and violence. When it happens, though, it happens! And Mandarin. It's a Firefly crossover, people. Mandarin happens.~~~~~
Dawn, Faith, and Xander looked around themselves. Just moments ago, they were inside a house, watching as Willow cast her spell. Now all they could see were rolling grasslands.
“Well, that went well,” Faith muttered sourly.~~~~~
“No, Buffy, I know you really want to be here, but Willow says you can't be.” Dawn sighed as she heard her sister go over the same argument they'd had since Willow had found the spell, and they'd started to make their plans. “Willow told you, and Tara told you, and Giles darn well told you, and I'm sure he'll tell you again right now, that you can't be here, because two people with the same blood will confuse the spell, and we really don't want spells being confused around me, now do we?”
As she watched, Willow removed a ribbon from a bowl of potion, and tied it around one of her bags. She made a face, and hoped that the potion wouldn't seep through and stain anything. She, Faith and Xander each were allowed two large bags, and both of hers were at least half-filled with clothes. The remaining space contained a laptop, a games console with games, and books, just in case they found themselves facing anything out of the ordinary. Faith and Xander, on the other hand, probably had half a bag each of clothes, and had filled the rest of their space with weapons. She snorted. Xander had almost as much of a weapons fetish as Faith. Oh, and Twinkies. She was pretty sure Xan had packed a couple of boxes of his favourite pastry.
“Yeah, Buff, I'm still here. Look, Will's nearly ready to do this. She's just mojo-ing our bags to shrink them half-size and quarter-weight.” She listened a moment longer, then replied, “Yes, we'll have the mojo-phones on us at all times, so you can call us home when She-Who-Should-Not-Perm is finito. Yes, Buffy, I love you, and I miss you already. Take care of everyone, okay? Love you. Bye.” With that, she finished the call, and walked over to the cleared space. She looked at her friends, who already had a different potion daubed on their foreheads, eyelids, and lips. “Got to love the warpaint,” she muttered. “Okay, Willow. Gunk me up.”
Willow quickly anointed the girl, then positioned the three and their bags within the circle. “Okay, so everyone's clear about what we're doing here today? We're hiding your auras from Glory, so that she can't track you, right?” When she got dutiful nods from each of the participants, she continued. “You still need to leave town straight away, but we'll contact you as soon as we've figured out how to get rid of her. And done it, of course. Or, like, the time's up on her going-home dealie. 'Cause then you won't be in any danger, 'cause she can't use you except at the particular time. So we'll call you, and you can come straight home.”
“Don't we need to do something about the car?” Xander asked, concerned.
“Oh, no,” Willow shook her head vigorously. “Giles did that when he left, so you're all right to go as soon as we're done here.”
Faith, Xander and Dawn exchanged glances. “Okay, Red,” the older girl nodded. “Do your thing.”
Willow put down her bowl of potion, and picked up another bowl of crushed herbs. “Here we go,” she smiled brightly, then began to walk around the circle, sprinkling herbs, and chanting the carefully approved spell.
Xander grimaced as he felt the power build, but said nothing. Ten minutes, he'd been assured. Ten minutes, stinky herbs and weird words, followed by a bright flash. Then it was out to the car, and on their merry way. He hated the thought of leaving town while there was a fight to be had, but Dawn's safety (and the world's) was too important, and he was the one tasked with her mundane care and safety, while Faith served as her protection against things other than human. They hadn't even discussed where they were going, just in case someone overheard. Xander had a simple plan of heading North, and then maybe East. They'd talk about it sometime after they had left the town limits. He was pretty sure they had as much planned as they possibly could: they even had not one, but several false identities, each making Faith and Dawn his sisters. Both he and Faith had Federal carry-concealed licences, and he wasn't going to ask how Willow had swung that one. That kind of protection was far too useful to argue. They had money, phones, identities, weapons, clothes, and transport. Now they just had to survive to get back home.
Willow's voice … augmented, and her hair began to glow and whip about in the mystical whirlwind that sprang up outside the circle. Her voice grew in volume, and suddenly Dawn's eyes began to glow green. Xander clenched his jaw – this hadn't been mentioned, nor had Faith's now glowing-white eyes. All he needed was for his eyes to... He jerked, and threw his head back, mouth open in a soundless snarl. There was a sudden flash of greenish light, and then nothing.~~~~~
“What the hell happened?”
“Language, Dawnie,” Xander chided automatically as he searched the area. The area was empty, with no significant cover other than the surrounding hills. There was, however, a wide trail passing not far from them, and he could see smoke drifting up to the North of their position, indicating a settlement not too far down the track. He flinched, then turned back to the girls. “Are my eyes green, by any chance?”
Dawn's eyes went wide, but she shook her head. “How are you feeling, Xan?” she asked nervously.
“Okay,” he frowned. “Not like last time, actually. More...”
“There something I should know?” Faith demanded.
“Green eyes on Xander equals Hyena-Xan,” Dawn explained, biting her lip.
“I need more than that, Little D,” Faith shook her head.
“Sophomore year, not long after Buffy arrived,” Xander began, “I was possessed by a Primal hyena spirit. The pack matriarch, the alpha. I don't actually feel the same as that, but I don't feel normal, either. My senses feel … hyped. Like they were when she was in control. But I can't feel her. I also feel... I kind of feel like Halloween, when I was Private Harris. Except, again, not. I'm me, but with improved senses and, I don't know, more Soldier-Guy than normal. How about you two?” he added. “Both of you did the glowing-eye thing.”
Faith frowned, then rolled her shoulders. “I feel … good. Not, I don't know, itching. Calm. Don't know I've ever felt this calm,” she mused.
Dawn shrugged. “I feel normal. Nothing different here. Not that I ever felt especially Key-y,” she added.
“Okay. Faith, could you do something Slayer-y? 'Cause if you feel different, I don't want to find out you are different sometime critical. You know, like right in the middle of a fight.”
Faith raised an eyebrow, then smiled, and hefted Xander easily in her arms. “Yep,” she grinned. “Still Slayer-strong.”
“Okay,” Xander rolled his eyes. “Putting down the Xan-man is good, now.” Once he was firmly back on the ground, he smiled. “Well, at least we know you're still strong. It means you can still look after Dawn and yourself. Now to figure out where we are,” he sighed as he pulled out his cell. “And, of course, we have no signal. Fine. Okay, there looks like there's a settlement that way,” he indicated in the direction of the smoke, “so we should start walking.”
“Walking?” Dawn whined.
“Sad to say, Will didn't see fit to transport my car with us. And I can't wait to here her explanation about what went wrong,” he muttered.
“Okay, Little-D,” Faith said as she grabbed her bags, “you stay with me or X, you hear? At all times.”
Dawn picked up her bags, silently thanking Willow for the spells. “So what identities are we using?”
“Xander, Faith and Dawn Joyce,” Xander grinned.
“Joyce?” Faith frowned. “That's a surname?”
“Yep,” the man nodded. “James Joyce, author of 'Ulysses'. We just did that book in school,” he grinned. “I thought it was perfect.”
Faith thought about it, then nodded decisively. “Your mom was a good woman, kiddo,” she smiled to Dawn.
The younger girl gave a sad smile. “Yeah, she was. I miss her.”
“We all miss her. We might just have to pick up some stones to put on her grave when we get home.”
“Like Willow does?”
“Like Willow does.”~~~~~
Faith could feel the tension rising as they walked through the town. Things were not looking so good at the moment. “Fuck, Xan,” she muttered softly, hoping his hyped senses included enhanced hearing. “We go back in time as well?”
“Don't think so,” he murmured, just as quietly. “They're looking at you two, sure, but it's not as bad as it would be if this were the Wild West. There they'd be just about lynching someone for what you're wearing. Here, they don't approve, sure, but they're … almost accepting.”
“Guys,” Dawn whimpered, “what are we going to do for money? I'm not sure they're going to take Amex here.”
“Thought of that,” Xander nodded. “Brought some stuff to sell, just in case we had to stop using cards.”
“So can we do it soon?” Faith asked. “I don't like being stuck without some green.”
Xander nodded. “Money, accommodation, food, transport. Any problems with my priorities?”
“Might want to ask about transport once you got the folding stuff,” Faith considered. “Save having to pay for a room only to find out the train is weekly, and left half an hour ago.”
“Good point,” Xander agreed as he looked around for somewhere that might be appropriate.
“Oh, my god,” Dawn grinned. “Is that what I think it is?” she asked, pointing.
Xander and Faith turned to see a spaceship approaching. “Damn,” the man muttered. “Well, that settles it. We're definitely not in the past.”
“Yo, X, should that thing be smoking like that?” Faith asked, worried.
Xander frowned. “Seriously doubt it.”
“And should everyone be running, screaming?” Dawn wanted to know.
“Hell, no,” Xander muttered. “This'll be some kind of raiding party. We need to find somewhere defensible, and treat all attackers as vamps unless I say otherwise. Got it?”
Faith looked around. “Defensible being?”
“High. And clear. I don't want anyone dropping off a roof at us.”
Faith nodded, then pointed out a nearby building. It was separate from the other buildings, and had no easy access to the flat, walled roof. They ran to the building, and Faith gave Dawn a hard boost up, followed by Xander. Faith then tossed up the bags, then jumped up to join the others. Meanwhile, Xander had opened the bags, and started going through the weapons. Grinning, he pulled out a kind of large gun, and flipped out the stand before setting it down.
The two girls stared at him “Fucking hell, X!” Faith cried. “What the hell have you been doing?”
“Raiding the Sunnydale Armoury again,” he grinned. “This, ladies, is the M249 SAW. Dawn will be operating it, since she's the weakest of the three of us. It's set to semi-automatic fire so you don't accidentally go through all the ammo,” he added. “Sit down on the ground, and just point and fire only when you need to. And try not to hit us, okay?” He quickly set the younger girl up with the weapon and ammunition belts before quickly getting his own weapons ready.
“We got incoming,” Faith called from her position at the corner of the building closest to the now-landed ship. “And they are shit-ugly,” she grimaced. She twitched. “Want to be down there, Xan. They're killing people already.”
“We stay together, and we protect Dawn. She is our mission. If we save some lives at the same time, good.”
“You got something I can use, then?”
Xander dropped down beside her, and handed over another rifle before dropping a bag between them. “M16 Assault Rifle, set to semi-automatic fire. Let's get some fuglies.”
They fired on the attackers, taking out any they could see, quickly drawing the raiders' attention. The raiders all seemed to be armed for melee fighting only, and neither Faith nor Xander allowed them to get close enough to engage. Some of them threw weapons, but Xander and Faith were able to duck behind the wall to stay safe. Xander moved around the roof, making sure they weren't out-flanked, and keeping Dawn between the two of them as much as possible. Eventually they ran out of targets, but continued to walk along the rooftop, waiting for the next wave to arrive. Nearly an hour passed, but still no more raiders appeared.
A man appeared through a doorway opposite their position, drawing Faith's immediate attention. “X?” she called. “Think the locals are coming out now.”
Xander joined her at the front of the building, and looked at the man standing in the road, arms raised. He turned to Faith. “Dawn,” he called, “You reposition here, back to the wall. Faith, you stay here and guard Dawn and cover me.” As soon as he had Dawn positioned so that she could cover Faith's back, he slung the gun's strap across his shoulder, and jumped down to the street. He brought his rifle back up to where he could easily fire it, and walked over to the other man. He nodded to the local. “Name's Xander,” he greeted.
“Cyrus,” the local introduced. “Cyrus Lo. I'm one of the town elders.”
Xander waited a moment, then shrugged. “You can put your hands down,” he said, smiling slightly.
“Thank you. Um, I, we, would like to thank you for saving us. The Reavers,” he shuddered. “Wuh de ma, the Reavers. And you killed them all,” he wondered. “How can we repay you?”
Xander looked at the other man. “We're kind of stuck,” he admitted. “We were kind of dumped here, without anything but our clothes and our weapons, and we don't even know where here is, or how to get home.”
“Oh, well, I can help you with some of that,” Cyrus smiled happily. “Here is Newtown, on Silverhold.”
Xander rubbed his head. “Silverhold. I'm sorry – how far out is that?”
Cyrus nodded and made a sympathetic face. “We're a long way from the Central Planets. This here's a Rim World.”
“And how often do ships come by, if we want to head back in?”
“Oh, they come by regular,” Cyrus assured him. “Maybe a month wait?” he suggested.
“A month, huh? Okay, we're going to have to dig in for a while, then. So I'm going to need to arrange somewhere to stay for me and my sisters, and maybe see someone to sell some stuff so we can live.”
“Oh, I'm sure we can arrange something for you. You saved us from the Reavers,” he added in an awed tone.
“Anything to help,” Xander nodded, then turned to go back to Faith and Dawn.
Faith jumped down to join him. “So what's the what?”
Xander shook his head, smiling slightly. “We're on a planet called Silverhold. It's a Rim World, far from the Central Planets. The things we killed are called Reavers, and they are very happy we did so.”
Faith grimaced. “Ugly fuckers,” she muttered. “Someone's going to have to clean this mess up, too. So what's happening otherwise.”
“Cyrus, the guy I was talking to, said they can help us find somewhere to stay until we can get a flight off-planet.”
“Just so long as we don't become National Treasures they don't want to let go of. Think I want to be somewhere a little more … flash than here.”
“What?” Xander teased. “Don't you like the Wild West theme they've got going here?”
Faith snorted. “'Kay. I'll go back up and toss our bags down to you.”
Xander put his hand to her shoulder. “No, I'll give you a boost, and you'll get Dawn's help to pull yourself up onto the roof. Before was an emergency, and I don't think anyone was looking at us. I sure as hell hope not, anyway.”
Faith glanced around. “Yeah. Forgot about that. Okay, big bro, how about a lift?”
Grinning, Xander laced his fingers together to make a footstep for her, then tossed her up as hard as he could. It turned out that his best was better than he'd expected, or Faith had put some extra spring in her jump, because she simply had to swing her leg over the edge to get onto the roof. The two girls then quickly repacked the bags and dropped them, one at a time, over the edge. Once that was done, Dawn sat on the edge of the roof, then jumped down to Xander, followed neatly by Faith.
“Faith says we've got a wait before we can fly to somewhere more civilised,” Dawn commented.
“Yeah,” Xander agreed. “The guy I was talking to, town elder, whatever that means, said there should be someone here sometime in the next month. Hopefully.”
“You know,” Dawn began, nibbling on her lip, “if they don't have power here, I won't be able to do any school work. Everything's on my laptop.”
Xander looked at the younger girl. “Dawn,” he began, “we're on a planet, far from the Sunnydale School District, and I don't know when we'll be getting home. Right now school work is the least of our worries.”
Dawn grinned. “Cool.”
“'Sides,” Faith added, “I'm sure you can do some reading of the big, heavy books Giles gave us. You know,” she smirked, “get started on your Watcher training.”
Dawn narrowed her eyes. “You're evil, you know that? Pure evil.”
“Oh, come one, Dawnie,” Xander argued. “You like the mouldy old books.”
“Yeah, but she's making it like work,” Dawn pouted before walking ahead of them.
“So, Xan,” Faith began quietly. “You got any ideas about what we're going to do? We're a long way from home, and I doubt Willow's fancy ID's are going to be any use out here.”
“I'd like to get somewhere safer, which probably means somewhere closer to the Central Planets. At the same time, we will need new identities, like you said. We both have marketable skills – I've done construction, and we both can fight. We might be able to work our way inward. We might have to end up selling our toys.”
“The laptop and the games?” Faith confirmed.
“Yep. Won't be much use, anyway, if we can't recharge them. Who knows? They might be valuable to collectors,” he smiled.
“Woo hoo,” Faith smirked. “We're rich.”
“So long as we can stay alive, in one piece, and together.”
Faith nodded. “Working on it.”