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In Their Shadow

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Summary: Xander's been transported to the 27th century? Can he adapt to life in the future? Can he ever return home? And more to the point, can the guy stay out of trouble for once?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Sci-Fi > Night's Dawn Trilogy, TheSmegheadFR151174,52121114,28012 Jan 0412 Jan 04Yes

We're Off To See Somebody

Title: In Their Shadow - Chapter 8

Author: Robert Cox (smeghead_76@dodo.com.au)

Disclaimer: Buffy is owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy productions. The Night's Dawn trilogy is owned by Peter F. Hamilton. At least until the copyright runs out, anyway. Since that won't happen for a long time at the least, I've just gotta hope that no-one takes offence.

Summary: Xander has been transported to the 27th century. Can he adapt to life in the future? Can he ever return home? And, more to the point, can the guy stay out of trouble for once?

Rating: M-15+ (Australian system)

AN: This is where I take over writing duties.

AN2: Thanks to Grossclout, who volunteered for beta-ing duties in the later parts.

AN3: There are a couple of non-standard methods of communication used in this story, represented as follows: Affinity and {Datavises}

Distribution: FF.net and XanderZone. Anywhere else, please ask first.

Feedback: Yes, please! After all, it's the only recognition a fanfic author gets...



Near Colsterworth, Stoke County

Kesteven Island, Norfolk

8th June 2614


The first-class compartment of the train from Boston to Colsterworth was extremely comfortable - it should be, for the price Ione had paid for the tickets - but the silence was somewhat more problematical.

Ione didn't really know if it was a comfortable silence or not, but she suspected that it wasn't. During the entire journey to date, Xander hadn't said a word, preferring to stare out the window at the passing countryside with its agricultural activity.

I've got to say something, try to draw him out of his shell.

"Xander?"

"Huh?" Jerked from his contemplation of the scenery, Xander started slightly before turning to look at Ione.

"You've been awfully quiet," Ione said, stating the obvious. "What's on your mind?"

"Just thinking," Xander answered. "Wondering why I'm here. Wondering why you're taking the time to be here with me, particularly after what happened back at Tranquillity."

"After what I ordered done to you, I felt that I should make it up to you..."

Xander held up a hand, interrupting. "Given that I appeared from nowhere, and attacked you without provocation, shouldn't I be apologising to you?"

Ione shrugged, slightly uncomfortable. "Yeah, but no harm was done." She brightened somewhat. "How about we start over with a clean slate?" She held out her hand. "Ione Saldana," she stated.

A bemused expression on his face, Xander gripped her hand firmly and shook it. "Xander Harris. Pleased to meet you." Releasing her hand, he waved a hand of his own at the scene beyond the windows. "Why am I here again?"

"You need a chance to adjust to where - and when - you are," Ione said. "Norfolk has deliberately limited the level of technology allowed on the planet, although things have been changing over the last few years. I thought that this would be as good a place as any to help you overcome your culture shock."

Xander nodded. It seemed to make sense. "So, are you going to stay here with me?"

Ione shook her head, with no small regret. "I can't. I've got things to do back at Tranquillity. Strictly speaking, I shouldn't be here, but..." Ione shrugged, unable to find words to complete her explanation.

"You felt guilty,"Xander stated flatly.

Ione nodded. "A little, yes."

"There's no real need to," Xander protested. "I tried to attack you. God alone knows what would have happened if I hadn't been stopped."

"And then, instead of asking you about it, I basically ripped your memories from your head. I think there's some responsibility left over for me."

Xander shook his head. "Tell you what, how about we assume that we've both said 'sorry' and been forgiven and carry on from there?"

"Okay, Xander," Ione said with a bright smile, before changing the subject. "I think you'll enjoy your time here. It's nice and quiet." She rethought that last statement based on where they were headed. "Well, mostly quiet, anyway."

"You haven't really said who I'll be staying with," Xander pointed out.

"You're staying with a... friend of mine named Joshua Calvert. He..." Ione's voice stumbled to a halt. How did you explain Joshua? Former starship owner-captain, who gave up the Lady Macbeth to marry a landowner's daughter and take over the running of a rosegrove estate. That was after he pretty much saved the human species, of course.

Saved humanity... Ione rethought that, based on the information taken from Xander's debrief nanonics. Xander had saved - or helped save - the world on a number of occasions, too. The difference was that, while Joshua had been acknowledged for his actions, no-one had even said as much as 'thank you' to Xander.

Xander had caught the pause before Ione had said 'friend', but decided to leave it alone. "Should be interesting, anyway. Hopefully, there won't be anything that goes bump in the night here."

Ione shook her head. "No nasties, not on Norfolk, at least." She knew that she'd said the wrong thing when Xander riveted her with a gaze.

"'Not on Norfolk, at least'," he repeated slowly.

Damn! Did it again! Ione berated herself mentally. Once again, she'd slipped up and revealed more information that she hadn't meant to.

"There are still vampires and demons on Earth, aren't there?" Xander said in a tone of voice that expected no other answer than 'yes'. Then a realisation crossed his face. "And I can't believe that I said 'on Earth' so easily," he muttered.

Ione sighed and decided to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.

"Yes, vampires are still active on Earth," Ione admitted. Hopefully, he wouldn't take this too badly.

"Then why am I here rather than on Earth?" Xander demanded. "If it's to 'protect' me, or anything like that..."

"NO!" Ione interrupted, hoping to derail his mounting anger. "You really do need to adjust to life here. I think Norfolk really is the best place for that. Besides, it's only going to be for a few days. After that, I'll arrange transport to the O'Neill Halo where you can receive neural nanonics and artificial muscle implants if you want them."

Xander looked at her oddly. "O'Neill Halo? Neural nanonics? Artificial muscle implants?"

Ione smiled. At least she'd managed to stop him getting angry. "In the same order as you asked the questions, the answers are: the O'Neill Halo is the ring of inhabited asteroids orbiting Earth, numbering well over fifteen thousand, and used for a variety of purposes ranging from industry to military bases. Neural nanonics are basically a supercomputer on a molecular scale and implanted in the brain - you'll get a more detailed explanation later. And artificial muscle implants are used to make people faster and stronger than normal. Does that answer your questions?" Ione concluded, still smiling gently.

She watched as Xander matched her answers with his questions. From the data taken from Xander's debrief nanonics, she knew that he was quite intelligent. The reason he hadn't made it into college was mainly because he couldn't afford it.

"Yeah... I think so," he answered, still deep in thought. "You know, this is the first time anyone's ever fully explained why they were keeping me out of things."

Ione was mildly outraged. He'd joined the fight against evil of his own accord, and instead of respecting his courage, his 'friends' had done their level best to belittle him and make him feel worthless. Why couldn't they have thought of training him, for God's sake?

And yet, he'd still stuck with it. Despite no mystic abilities - such as the Slayer gifts, or the ability to use magic - he'd stood with them, time and again, to turn back the forces of darkness. The fact that humanity was still around to this day was a testament to his group's activities.

"Hello? Ear... Norfolk to Ione..." Xander said with a smile.

Ione chuckled lightly at that. "Sorry. Just thinking."

"I could tell by the way you just zoned out there for a while. I'm guessing serious thoughts?" When Ione nodded, Xander added, "No need to tell me if you don't want to."

Ione did want to. Once she explained her thoughts, Xander said, "Yeah. It's a good thing I was never in it for the thanks in the first place. After the first three years, I may have been quite depressed about the whole thing. Fortunately, most of those times when world-savage was an issue, they started off with me saving myself. And running away wasn't an option, either. If I did, there would have been no way I could have lived with myself afterwards. Especially if the gang had failed, and the world had ended."

There was more than a grain of truth in that, Ione realised. "Then let me be the first to say it," Ione said. "Thank you." Acting on an impulse, she leaned forward and hugged him tightly, and kissed him lightly on one cheek.

When she leaned back in her seat, she saw the dumbfounded expression on his face. "Y-you're welcome," he managed, before smiling.

Ione couldn't help but return the smile.

****

Colsterworth station, Stoke County

Kesteven Island, Norfolk

8th June 2614


"Mister Calvert? The Boston train will be arriving in five minutes."

Joshua Calvert nodded to acknowledge station master's information. Standing beside him, his wife Louise asked, "Why are we meeting the train?"

"Ione thinks this is important. And besides," he said with his patented Joshua grin, "didn't you meet the train the first time I came to Norfolk?"

Louise ducked her head slightly to acknowledge the comment. Her eyes unfocused slightly, which meant that she was remembering the events which followed. It was obvious as to which events she was remembering, since she was both blushing slightly and smiling at the same time.

"She didn't explain too much though," Louise pointed out.

"She said she'd tell us everything once she got here," Joshua replied. "Something about it really being best if she explained in person."

Louise nodded and turned her attention to making sure that Fletcher didn't cause too much trouble. His name had come about through interesting means. Fletcher Christian had been the second-in-command on the pre-spaceflight sailing ship HMS Bounty, and had lead a mutiny against the captain, William Bligh. During the possession crisis, he had been one of the souls to return, and had returned to Norfolk. Despite his centuries in the beyond, he had retained enough of his sense of honour to help Louise and her sister, Genevieve, as they first left Norfolk, then made their way to Earth, in order to thwart the plans of Quinn Dexter, a member of the Light Bringer sect, who had been possessed but had managed to overpower the possessing soul and retain the abilities of a possessed.

He had intended to open the gates to the dark continuum, and bringing forth a creature that he thought was the Light Bringer himself. Fortunately, when Joshua had activated the Sleeping God, Dexter's plans had been brought undone, otherwise God alone knows what would have happened.

"Is Fletcher causing any trouble, Gen?" Louise asked.

"No, Louise," sixteen-year-old Genevieve answered.

Just then, the train pulled up, and the passengers piled out. Joshua nudged Louise, and pointed up the station. He'd spotted the distinctive figure of Ione, accompanied by someone who could only be Xander.

"Joshua!" She'd spotted him, too. Running the few meters that separated them, she tackled Joshua with a fierce hug. "Louise!" The hug she bestowed upon Louise was only slightly more gentle.

"Aunt Ione!" Obviously Fletcher had decided to get in first. Breaking free of Genevieve's hand, he ran towards Ione, who swept him up in yet another hug.

"Ooof!" Ione grunted as she took his weight. "You're getting big, aren't you?"

"Hello, Ione," Genevieve said, slightly shyly.

"Hi, Gen," Ione said, shifting Fletcher to one arm so she could hug Genevieve. "How's things going for you?"

"I'm going to get my neural nanonics next week!" Genevieve exclaimed brightly. She'd been promised a set while on Earth during the possession crisis, and she'd turned sixteen - the minimum age to receive neural nanonics - a week ago. Ione would have paid for a top-of-the-line set herself, but Joshua and Louise had already ordered a set from Kulu.

"So long as you don't spend all your time running games through them," Ione said.

"Yes, Aunt Ione," Genevieve said in a tone of voice that indicated that this was a topic that Joshua and Louise had already covered extensively.

"Just making sure, Genevieve," Ione answered, before turning to Xander, who had been hanging back while they had gotten caught up.

"Everyone, I'd like you to meet Xander Harris. Xander, this is Joshua Calvert, his wife Louise, her sister Genevieve, and Joshua and Louise's son, Fletcher."

Xander shook hands with Joshua and Louise and turned to Genevieve. He stopped dead, somehow managing not to gibber with shock.

She looks exactly like Dawn!
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