A/N: This is the prologue for what's going to end up being a pretty long Firefly/Buffy crossover. Disclaimers are the usual: I own nothing but the plot (characters, magical artifacts, and most spaceships belong to the wonderful and talented Joss Whedon), and I will be earning no money. Don't sue me I'm poor! Also, if you steal anything from me (plot, catchy phrases, mangled Chinese, or pocketbook), then I'm just gonna have to get me a nice new ribcage hat.
Further warnings: There will be slash and femmeslash (esp. femmeslash), though I do have to emphasize the "eventually" on that. Also, nothing terribly explicit- I'm not very good at writing the nasty bits.
For those of you who are curious, this takes place after Chosen in the Buffyverse, and after Firefly but before Serenity or the Firefly comics. Any questions? Email me or leave a comment.
“Look, I said I’m sorry; more than once, if I remember correctly. Over the course of several hours, I might add. At some point, you’re either going to have to get over it or deal when I get sick and tired of dragging your broody ass across whatever the hell they call this planet. I’m perfectly capable of doing this without Pouty McBroodybritches cramping my style,” Dawn said, turning to face the bleach-blonde figure trailing behind her. Both stopped walking for a moment, and the blonde scuffed at the red-grey earth with the toe of his boots.
“I could’ve been dust, y’know,” he mumbled after a long silence.
“And yet here you are,” she retorted. “I think I would have noticed if you turned to dust. Dust doesn’t whine so much. It certainly doesn’t stomp its big gnarly feet behind me for the last three hours.”
“Hey! M’not whining. And my feet aren't gnarly, thank you very much,” he told her as he started walking again, not looking her in the eye as she passed.
“You are so whining,” she said as she caught up with the stalking blonde. “You’re pouting. You’re throwing a tantrum. You’re in a snit. You’ve been on one big I’m-so-bloody-wounded-nobody-loves-me fest since we got here, and I’m so through with it.” The two didn’t look at each other as they continued to follow the wide dirt “road” through the gently sloping valley.
“What’re you gonna do, leave me here? Bad enough you try to kill me, you’re gonna leave me here at the tender mercie of Bumfuck, Nowhere?” he asked, indicating the small weed-covered hills that seemed to extend to the horizon.
“Oh, come on. I’m in so much more danger than you are, Spike,” the girl snorted. “I mean, come on. I need, like, oxygen and heat and water and stuff to survive. You just need to not impale yourself on a toothpick or something.”
“Right, like the PTB are going to let their little pet send herself to certain doom or what have you. Such danger you’re in,” he countered.
“I’m the PTB’s pet? Right, cuz I’m the one walking around all moody-like after exploding in a ball of sunlight, Mr. Still-undead-and-kicking. I’m thinking if their sending us to some far-distant world, it’s one where the sunlight is a little more vamp-friendly than you’re used to. Correct me if I’m wrong, but putting you back together only to send you off to get all dusty again seems like a waste of their time.”
“Might it have occurred to you that they were trusting you to not land us at bloody high noon?” he shouted, stopping again. His companion spun on her heel, facing him with a deadly glare in her eyes. “Half the damn planet’s dark right now, if you hadn’t noticed. Hell, this side of the planet’s going to be dark in six hours or so. But, I suppose a few hours or a few thousand miles is too much to concern you’re pretty little head with-“
“Dammit, Spike!” she yelled, cutting his rant short. “Did it ever occur to you that not only is this whole portal thing a delicate process, but that I’ve only been learning how to do it for a month? It’s not exactly easy. We’re lucky we ended up anywhere at all, let alone the right planet at the right time. Alternate realities don’t exactly sit still, and I don’t know if you ever took astronomy, but planets zip around space like hummingbirds on speed! You knew when you agreed to come with me that it wasn’t going to be just some walk in the cemetery. You knew we were both taking some pretty fucking serious chances, and now that I’ve managed to land us not only somewhere, but where and when we need to be, you’re bitching because it’s too bright outside? Bite me, soul-boy.” With that, she flipped her hair expertly over her shoulder and began walking in their original direction.
"And here I thought I was getting away
from the Slayer," Spike said under his breath. With a sigh, he hurried after her. “Tell you what, Bit- you promise not to place me in mortal peril again, and we’ll call it even, right? No beaming me onto a stake or what have you.”
“Fine. I promise not to drop you in a vat of holy water, and you promise to shut up and stop being such a whiney little baby. I suppose being thankful that you’re actually walking around in sunlight might be a bit much to ask for-“ she stopped mid-rant at the pained expression that crossed Spike’s face. He’d stopped walking and simply stood gazing at the clear afternoon sky.
“Never think for a moment I’m not grateful for this, Bit,” he said after a moment of silence. “All of it. Not just the sunlight, but… It’s just, the last time I felt the sun…” he trailed off.
“Yeah, I know. Buffy told me about it, once. She didn’t talk about you for weeks, but one night… She said it was beautiful. You were beautiful.”
“I feel ridiculous, being so… scared. I don’t like being afraid, but this; it’s so unreal, walking about in the sun, all flesh and bone again, almost alive again… Hard to believe I’m not going to wake up, find it’s all a dream, maybe find I’m in hell after all.” His voice was soft and distant. Dawn let him stand for a few moments more before taking his hand in hers.
“I wouldn’t worry so much about hell, if I were you,” she said with a small smile.
“I dunno,” he said with a hint of returning humor. “Flung into a distant time and place with only you for company? Sounds a might hellish to me.”
“Again I say 'bite me',” she said with a grin. “Now, I believe we actually had someplace to be?”
“Onward, then. Civilization, ho!” he said with a pump of his arm as they began walking again.
“And no eating the locals. Even if they’re aliens,” she ordered with a sharp look.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Nibblet. I’ve seen X-Files- tell you what, those buggers don’t exactly look like a midnight snack.”
“You watched The X-Files?” She asked, raising her eyebrow.
“Lived with Harris, didn’t I? That boy could stomach more of that sci-fi crap than anyone I've ever met. Between X-Files and Star Trek marathons, he’s lucky he ever got around to moving out of his parent’s basement.”
“Hey!” She squealed indignantly. "I used to like him, thank you very much!"
“So?" he said with a shrug. "'S still true.”
“That’s not the point! Besides, I happen to know that you made him and Andrew teach you Klingon.”
“Yeah, what of it? Klingons’re a warrior race. Bloody fantastic, if you ask me. All noble and violent and the like,” he said in a wistful voice.
“Right… so, anyway, no eating people. We’ve got a spaceship to find.”
Mal surveyed the hold, trying to figure out how the gorram hell he was going to fit three hundred crates of Begolian fertilizer and still have room for Zoe and Jayne to park the mule. Hell, he was trying to figure out if he wanted
to fit fifty some odd crates of Begolian fertilizer into his hold. The money was good, but it was hard to stack any amount of cash against flying in a ship full of gos se for three weeks.
“There’s plenty of room, but that’s not the problem,” a voice from behind him echoed his thoughts.
“Darn right, it’s not, little one. Ain’t no filter in the verse can take that smell out of the air,” he responded without even turning to look. He was finally getting used to River floating about the ship like a gorram ghost; it still spooked him some, but he almost expected her popping out of nowhere with that crazy talk of hers.
“The past doesn’t have a smell,” she told him.
“And we’re not talkin' about fertilizer, are we?” he asked, though it was more a statement and entirely rhetorical.
“Cargo is finite. Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s the things that stay that are the problem. They shouldn’t be needed, but we can’t live without them.” She stood next to him, mimicking his pose, leaning against the rail and looking down at the hold. “Time can’t hold them still, they walk about as if they belong here, but they’re here for me, and I’m not supposed to be.” She was getting emotional. Mal could hear tears on the edge of her voice, and that was rarely a good sign.
“Who’s here?” He asked.
“Will you let them stay?” She asked, turning to look him in the eye. Damn, but the girl’s eyes were powerful. There were few people that could hold even with Mal’s gaze, but this girl never even flinched under the full weight of it. Hell, Mal almost flinched under hers.
“Can’t rightly answer that if I don’t know what you’re talkin' about, darlin’.”
“Here’s as good a place as any. Better, even. But they have to be invited. Not by the rules, but they won’t stay if they aren’t allowed. Don’t know what they’ll do if your words stop them. Time won’t do it, but words will, no matter how powerful the sword. But they’re obligated, and now it’s words against words. They can’t stay with me if you don’t let them.” She was looking down at the hold again, blinking back tears.
“That's all fine and dandy, but I still haven't a clue who you're talkin' of,” Mal reminded her.
“A Watcher for a girl, born into every generation- but those generations are gone now, and I’m not supposed to be. None of us are. He died and she was never born, and we’ll gather here for you to decide. It’s fate in your hands, Mal, can you feel it? It slides and pricks and drips from your fingers…” She trailed off and gazed silently at the empty hold below her. Mal sighed. If River’s words had any meaning, only time would tell, and until then, he had work to do; namely, find a way to get those crates in.
The men piloting the transports were getting impatient, and Mal knew they wouldn’t leave until they were sure the cargo was packed into his hold. Smelly as it was, Begolian fertilizer was valuable stuff. That meant that Verte’s boys wouldn’t be leaving until they were sure that anything that went wrong with the cargo couldn’t blamed on them. Reporting to Verte that they’d left the crates in a pile outside the ship was a very bad idea, so the four rather large, stupid-looking men were stuck here until Mal figured out how he wanted to go about getting the boxes in and still have room for Jayne and Zoe to park the mule.
Thankfully, his thought process was cut short by the familiar sound of said mule’s engine. Mal quickly made his way down the stairs to the door in time to here Jayne shouting at the men to get the gorram hell out of his way before he and Zoe ran them down. With a bit of maneuvering, Verte’s boys got their vehicles out of the way and Zoe pulled the mule into the hold. She and Jayne immediately leapt out and started hitching it to the chains that held it suspended near the ceiling when it wasn’t in use.
“What in the sphincter of hell took you so damn long? I seem to recall sending you two off on a sure thing about three hours ago, and I sure as hell
recall telling you that we aren’t plannin' on spending a whole lot of time on this rock!” He shouted as he joined them in stringing up the mule.
“Your ‘sure thing’ was a little more nervy about buying questionably obtained artifacts than we anticipated, sir. Took a little persuasion to remind him how much he wanted it,” Zoe explained calmly.
“’Persuasion’ meanin’ more beer than I ever seen a man that small drink in one sittin’. He may’ve bought them baubles, but he sure as hell didn’t walk out of the bar with ‘em. They’re gonna have to carry him outta there come closin’ time,” Jayne added with a smirk.
“But everything’s bought’n paid for? No more trying to sell priceless and easily traced pretties?” Mal asked.
“Paid for and then some, captain.” Zoe replied.
“And then some?” Mal quirked his eyebrow.
“He was extremely drunk. Seemed to think throwing money at us would make his new acquisitions less stolen.”
“An’ if he changes his mind about how much he paid, well I reckon he won’t exactly be remembering us come tomorrow,” Jayne said, wiping his hands on his pants. “Now, I suppose we got some shit to load up for we’re off?”
“That you do. I’m going to the bridge to let Verte know we’re just about done. I swear, I never met a man so concerned about his gos se.”
: crap Also, I made pictures!