River slowly, almost lovingly, ran a hand over the stasis unit. She remembered when she had been put in one. She hadn't liked it. She wonders if the Sleeper likes it even less than she had. She watched as her brother looked over the readouts of the unit.
If she understood everything, Serenity was transporting it some place. River didn't, really understand everything, that went on around her. River knew that the Sleeper called out to her. She could see it...
A blond woman, who could fight like she did, fought with a bleached blond male who had ridges on his brow. Yellow eyes gleamed with a feral bloodlust. It was a monster like the Reavers.
A different woman with blood colored hair and inky black eyes, was shooting lightning from her fingertips, and chanting in a long dead language.
Dusty books and ancient weapons surrounded an older man. A powerful aura surrounded him as well.
Darkness, fear, despair...
Light, love, hope...
A hero's trails...Battles won, battles lost...
Dark, dark eyes that cried soundlessly for help
River blinked, and pulled her hand back. "Help," she whispered.
Simon looked up for the control panel of the stasis unit. He had heard her whisper but not what she said, "Are you alright, mei-mei?"
"The One That Sees, the Fallen White Knight..." whispered River with a tear running down her cheek. Simon frowned in confusion. She was making less sense than normal even for her. "He is the First."
Mal and Zoe stood at the back port of the Serenity listening to their employer's last minute instructions given to them by the well-dressed, pale skinned crimson haired woman.
"That stasis unit must not be opened under any circumstances. The delivery must be made in a week."
Mal nodded. "We get paid on arrival?" he asked.
The redhead nodded, "On delivery of the unit."
"Of course." muttered Mal. He had a bad feelin' about this run. It was the same one he had when Simon Tam had bought passage two years ago. But Mal had a crew to pay and feed.
"My sister will be waiting, she will be the snobby looking blond. Trust me you won't miss her. I can not stress how important it is that you not be late."
"You have my word. The unit will arrive on time and in perfect condition."
The redhead's eyes narrowed, and for a moment Mal would swear they flashed black but then she nodded. "Do not fail, Captain. If you do the consequences would be dire," she threatened and before walking away.
Mal turned to Zoë, "Am I the only one with a bad feelin' about this?"
The crew of the ship were gathered in the cargo bay area as Mal paced in front of them giving them last minute orders," No one. And I mean no one but the Doc is to touch that thing." said Mal pointing at the stasis unit. Mal shoot a glance at his mechanic." This means you, Kaylee Fray!"
Kaylee rolled her eyes. Open a couple of shipments and no one lets you forget it. "You still blame me for that?"
"Hamsters, Kaylee, all over my ship!" Mal said waving his hand around. Kaylee made a face at him but promised not to touch the stasis unit.
Mal said nothing for a moment.
"Anything else, Sir?" Asked Zoë.
"Uh, no." the captain said with a shake of his head.
River silently walked down the stairs, towards the cargo bay. The others were in their quarters. She knew now would be the best time...Time to awaken the Sleeper.
Only the Sleeper could help with what was to come. Only he could help her...
River ran a hand slowly, almost lovingly, over the top of the stasis unit.
Mal stumbled out of his quarters swearing at sound of the alarm. He had taken no chances with this shipment. Mal was going to throw whoever touched that stasis unit, out of an airlock. He made his way to the cargo bay, meeting up with the others, as he did so.
River was sitting on the floor with a young man, who had long dark hair. He was resting with his head in her lap. She looked up at them. "The Sleeper has awakened."
Mal sighed." I'm guessing you helped awaken him."
Simon walked over to his sister and kneeled next to her, "Mei-mei, what have you done?"
River looked at her brother as she ran her fingers through the young man's hair, asking, "Help him, Simon."
Simon saw that the man's eye's were unfocused and he was shaking. The first two signs of stasis sickness. "He must be brought to the medical bay." Simon told them.
"Don't suppose we could just put him back in the box?" asked Mal.
Simon glared at Mal.
"You suppose right." Mal sighed again.
"So, what's wrong with him, Doc?" asked Mal once they got the boy to the medical bay.
"Stasis sickness, it starts with the shakes, then there is the blindness...it's not fatal just uncomfortable. "Simon told him.
"So, you can help him." Said Mal now standing at the foot of the medical bed, as the young doctor nodded. Zoë was standing next to the bed; being that she had helped move the boy here.
"Captain, what are we going to do?" she asked.
"Who cares," said Jayne from the doorway," he's got demon eyes!"
Simon scoffed, "No, he doesn't. While it's very rare it is possible for some one to have a green eye and a brown eye."
Jayne shook his head, he didn't care if it was rare it just wasn't natural to him, eyes should be the same color. "Demon eyes," he muttered again. The boy on the bed moved, quicker than a snake, he pulled Zoë's gun from her hip holster and pointed it toward the door.
I didn't even feel that, thought Zoë in shock.
"I thought you said he couldn't see!" Mal hissed to Simon.
"He can't!" Simon hissed back.
"Take it back, " the boy whispered hoarsely. "I'm not a demon!"
"Or what?" asked Jayne with a smirk.
"Or I'll shoot you." The boy said flatly.
"Now, hold on a second..."said Mal holding up a hand, then realized the boy couldn't see the jester. He glared at Jayne. "Say your sorry for insulting, the nice young man who has Stasis Blindness, who's holding a gun."
Jayne crossed his arms over his chest. "No."
The boy pulled the trigger, the gun fired...Jayne barely ducked in time to avoid being hit.
"Hey, no shooting up my ship!" yelled Mal
"Are you crazy?" shouted Jayne.
The young man, now resting on his elbow, smirked as he pointed the gun on Jayne.
"You know, for as many times as I've been asked that question, I should be."
River was standing next to Simon. She reached out and petted the boy's long dark hair. "Jayne's just mean...not evil."
The others glared at Jayne, until he mumbled an apologized. The young man sighed and melted into River's touch. The boy spun the gun around by the trigger guard, before slipping the gun back into Zoë's holster. before he slowly laid back down on the bed.
"Hey, Doc?" the boy asked.
"Can you make with the shot so I can see again?" he asked with the weariness of someone who had been through the sickness before.
Slowly, Xander Harris blinked, at the bright light shining into his eyes. He looked around the room. A beautiful black woman with long curly black hair stood by his bed, a hand resting on the butt of her gun. This had to be the person he took the gun off of...and from the look on her face she wasn't happy he did it.
On the other side of the bed stood a young man, maybe ten years older than himself. This was the doctor. He had short dark brown hair and caring brown eyes. Dressed in expensive clothes practical but expensive. Next to the Doc, there was a young teenaged girl, long dark hair and eyes that reminded him of Drusilla's. The insanity lurked plainly in her dark, but kind eyes. Xander could tell she was related to the Doc, in someway, a sister perhaps?
Xander glanced toward the door way of the room, the man who stood there was a soldier of fortune, he could tell by the way the man held himself...and the fact he was armed to the teeth. Xander was pretty sure that was whom he tried to shoot. A small movement next to the black woman caught Xander's attention. A young woman wearing coveralls, who had light tawny colored hair, with grease on her pixie like face stood there looking at the Doc. Xander came to the man standing at the end of his bed. Coal black hair, dark almost black eyes. He wore brown pants and a blue shirt. He looked familiar to Xander. He blinked then rubbed his eyes.
"Preachify...stick out my eye." Xander muttered to himself softly.
Mal looked at Simon, who just shrugged. Everyone reacted differently to being taken out of stasis.
"No!" River said sharply. Pulling on Xander's hair making him look at her.
"Not him, looks like...maybe even was...but not him now!"
Xander thought about that then nodded.
"Why don't we exchange names?" asked Xander.
"Ok," said Mal " who are you?"
Xander snickered and shook his head.
Mal sighed and began to speak, "I'm Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, which your on by the way. Next to you is my first mate Zoë. The Doc, there is Simon; the pretty thing with the death grip on your hair is his sister River. Jayne's the one over there by the door; he's the one you tried to shoot. Don't do that again by the way. If anyone is going to shoot Jayne it's going to be one of my crew." He said, as Jayne made a discontented noise, "And Kaylee there is our grease monkey, she keeps this ship running."
Xander didn't see just a group of crewmates he saw a family, one that had suffered loss and had know triumphs, but had yet to be truly tested.
"Xander Harris," he said paused," just so you know, I'm not getting back into that box."
Mal sighed...he seemed to be doing that often lately. "I figured as much."
It had been a week since Xander had been released from the stasis unit. A week since he made a deal with the captain of Serenity. Xander knew they would start searching for him soon if they hadn't already. He was angry with them. Her most of all, she should and did known better. Xander didn't like it when she played with his memories. He was missing time again. But Xander knew her magic wasn't as strong as it use to be, or perhaps she had just used it so often on him that he was becoming immune to it.
What worried him was the missing time; he remembered the time spent with them how they had used him like a slave...each of them in their own way. Xander was not a happy with them and soon they would know it. But first he needed time to get his head back together.
As Xander looked out of one of the window ports he could see that the Serenity was passing through a ship graveyard. Xander had been watching the dead ships float in space, passing by each other, crashing into each other like it was a ...
"Dance," said a soft voice.
Xander looked away from the view port. River stood next to him. He hadn't even heard her come into the room. I should have hear her, he thought, but wasn't sure why he should have.
"Do the stars sing for you?" Xander asked River instead.
"Do they for you?" she replied instead of answering the question.
Xander shrugged, "Sometimes, I think they do. Sometimes I think I'm just crazy, you?"
River shook her head." They don't speak to me, but Serenity does sometimes, she speaks to Kaylee too."
That Xander didn't doubt it. But most of Serenity's crew seemed touched in the head to Xander, though in this he could cast no stones. It was the crazy ones, who were the most interesting people.
"What are they?" Xander asked motioning to the ships in the graveyard.
"Fireflies, that weren't given Serenity's fate. Their pretty when they dance, Serenity hasn't danced since Wash died." She said sadly. Xander nodded, he had heard about Wash from Zoë she liked to talk about her husband, to remember him. Xander stared out of the view port.
"You can't hide..."River murmured.
"Not hiding, just resting, getting..." he trailed off.
"Getting the crazy out."
Xander frowned. "No, trying to remember..."
River shook her head, then gave him the 'your stupid' look, "Try too hard, make yourself worst, let it come on it's own."
Xander sighed and wanted to smack himself. It was a known fact that when you wanted to remember something you couldn't. He was about to reply when Kaylee come into the room.
"There you are Xander, Captain wants to see you."
"That redhead, she done waved the Captain, accusing him of stealin' the cargo we were to deliver. But since you are the cargo...she's making an awful fuss."
A dark look crossed his face, making Kaylee take a step back. They all liked Xander, except for Jayne. But they were all still warily of him, except for River who would follow Xander around like a puppy sometimes. Xander got up and walked by Kaylee. "Guess I'll go see the Captain then."
"What's wrong River?" asked Kaylee.
"Things are coming, strange things...he sees them. He doesn't like them."
"Who doesn't like what?"
"The White Knight, he sees the darkness that claimed those he called friends...family. He wishes he were still blind." River told Kaylee as she followed Xander.
Mal looked at the monitor that showing the redheaded woman, he had dealt with over the stasis unit that had held Xander. He didn't like it when clients lied to him; it always bought trouble when they did.
"Captain, I demand to know just what you are still doing with my cargo. My sister waved me saying you hadn't arrived yet?"
Mal sighed, "There was a slight mishap with the cargo," he told her.
The red-head's eyes narrowed, " What sort of mishap?"
"He woke up."
Her eyes widened. "How did he wake up, if no one opened the stasis unit?"
Mal got an embarrassed look on his face. "That was the mishap." He stated flatly.
The woman to growl at that statement. "I want you to return the cargo, you have no ideal what your dealing with." She told him. Mal was about to reply when he heard the door to the cockpit area open, he watched the self-a-sure woman pale to a ghostly white. Mal turned to see a mean smile cross Xander's face. "Xander, sweetie, you're awake." Said the woman.
"Yeah, I am Willow, no thanks to you."
"Now, Xander you know I would never..."
"Shut up, Willow!" Xander cut her off, the anger plain on his face." Your are one of my best friends, WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS!!!"
"NO! You don't get to say anything here. What you did to me, is what you did to Tara, all those years ago. I TRUSTED YOU!! And what's worst is that BUFFY went along with it. WHAT GAVE YOU TWO THE RIGHT TO PLAY WITH MY LIFE THIS WAY!!!" Xander screamed at her. For two years maybe even longer both she and Buffy Summers had played with his memories, his emotions. They had managed to hurt him soul deep. Willow thought her memory spells could make him forget they things they did to him, the things they made him do...
"You had no right." Xander whispered.
It was at this that she flinched. Willow knew deep down that he was right. She just didn't want to admit what she did was wrong.
"You have been abusing your powers, you magic. It's no wonder you can't find her..." Xander said.
Willow's cheeks flushed with anger. "How dare you," she hissed at him. Xander's eye flashed a bright green in anger. Willow who sat half a galaxy away stepped back from her monitor.
"How dare I, Willow you..." Xander stopped. Willow saw this as him being unsure of things.
"Xander, come home once your away from those pirates..."
"Hey!" Mal interrupted "we're not pirates...this week." Willow sent him a glare.
"As I was saying, once your home things will be clearer, ok?"
Xander shook his head.
"We are not ok, Wills. We may never be ok again." Xander told her.
A dark crossed Willow's face as her eyes turned black. "This is all his fault. He was confusing you, Xander, I was only doing what was best for you."
"Whose fault?" Xander wondered, confused. Willow said nothing to that.
"Your still doing it again, making decisions for me. I think we all need some time apart."
"Xander, you don't mean that!" exclaimed Willow.
"Yes! I do."
Willow sighed then her eyes now fully black. "Buffy, will send Angelus to find you. There is nowhere in the 'Verse, you can hide in, where he can't find you." She said. Xander blinked the glow gone from his eye but was replaced by a dark feral look.
"Let her," Xander sneered, "Deadboy and I still have date for a reckoning. Let him come." He reached out and flipped off the monitor before Willow could say anything to that. Xander sighed.
"The Dark King and his Slayer Queen will come for him, to take him back to the Red Goddess." A soft voice from the doorway stated. Xander smiled at River.
"Don't worry, Mystic River. I have defeated the Dark King and Slayer Queen before. I just need to rest a bit more." Xander told her.
"Can't hide for long."
"Not hiding, just have to find the right companions for trip."
River blinked, Mal looked at them like they were both crazy, Xander turned to Mal."I need to send a wave to someone."
"Who?" asked Mal, wondering who this boy really was?
Mal blinked and frowned. "The Picture Star?" Mal asked incredulity.
With in moments after Xander send the wave, it was responded to by a beautiful woman with dark eyes and dark hair that had a white streak in it, artfully styled to show it off.
"Xander," she breathed out, smiled that million-dollar smile that she made famous.
"I've been worried," she said as she smoothed down the high collared red with gold Flowers dress she was wearing.
Xander smiled embarrassedly. "Sorry, I lost my mind for a while..."
Cordelia smirked but let the obvious slam pass before she frowned. "Willow and Buffy said you were sick and wouldn't let any of us see you." she said, softly.
Xander nodded, "They lied."
"Again? " Cordelia sighed as she shook her head. "You would think they would know better."
"She was playing with my memories." Xander told her.
"But that's not what I want to talk about right now. I would like to come see you."
"No!" she said sharply.
"I'm filming on Paradise, maybe afterward."
Xander frowned but nodded. "What about my sanctuary?"
"Fumigation. It's being fumigated, vermin, you know."
Xander raised an eyebrow at that. "Vermin?"
Cordelia nodded. "Rats, actually."
Xander sighed and nodded in understanding. "How are the others?" he asked her.
"Good, their good. Dawn and Conner are on Artemis with Faith training the girls." Cordelia told him.
"I found one...or perhaps she found me?"
Cordelia's eyes widen. "Trainable," she asked.
Xander shook his head.
"She should still be trained...for her protection."
"She has plenty of protection. She sees...Cordelia like I do."
Cordelia realized what he was saying. "Oh, she's nuts."
"Cordelia! Focus, please, the others."
Cordelia sighed, "Wesley is on Socrates, he's still teaching there."
Cordelia shrugged, "Don't know he checks less than you do."
"Thanks Cor, I'll talk to you later." Said Xander as he turned off the transmission.
"Well?" asked Mal.
"I know what she's going to do." Said Xander.
"Did you hear any snark?"
"That's how I know."
"Well, what's she going to do?" Mal asked him.
Cordelia Chase turned in her chair, to look at the man with the shoulder length dark-haired and the kicked puppy brown eyes. "It's done." She said harshly.
"Will he come?"
"What do you think?"
"I think," Angelus sighed " that their losing it."
"Angelus, don't do this, just let it go. Let them go." Cordelia begged him.
Angelus shook his head. "What Buffy wants she gets, you know that. Besides I've waiting five hundred years for our reckoning." He smirked," Boy's finely a worthy opponent."
Cordelia sneered at him. "He was always a better man than you!"
Angelus grabbed her arm jerking her to him. Smirking, he leaned toward her and said " You know, you always did prefer me to him."
Cordelia sighed and wrapped her other arm around his neck, and smiled seductively at him, before she kissed him.
"She's going to betray me..."
They stopped at Whitefall for supplies later that month. Mostly because Xander said he would pay for them. It seemed that Xander had accounts all over the 'Verse. Most though weren't in banks but favors people owed him. At first Mal hadn't wanted Xander to pay them anymore than a passenger's fee. He just smirked at Mal and called it hazard pay. It soon became obvious that Xander's luck was like the others on Serenity's...bad, very bad.
Mal, Jayne, Xander and River walked aboard the ship, they were the last to return from getting supplies. Mal had gotten a wave, from them saying they were in the local jailhouse, for starting a brawl at a bar. Mal had to go bail them out and the Sheriff asked them to leave town not wanting the trouble he thought they would bring.
" Just what were you thinking!" Mal almost shouted at them. "We have enemies who would love to get a hold of us and there you are starting a barroom brawl?"
"Hey," said Xander, "we didn't start anything".
"No, we finished it." Said Jayne. It seemed one fight against someone else had made them allies for the moment.
Simon walked up to River." Are you alright, mei-mei?" he asked.
"Bad men tried to touch the girl...we hurt them." River growled.
"What!" said Simon.
"One of the locals tried to feel the moon-brained girl up. She took exception to it." Said Jayne.
"Violently." Xander added.
"That explains why she did, what she did, but what were you two thinking?" asked Mal to Xander and Jayne.
"The odds were twenty to one!" exclaimed Xander.
Mal made a disbelieving noise. "We know River can handle herself. She took on and ungodly amount of Reavers single handedly. You said she was one of those Slayer girls..."
Yes, Xander had told them about the true history of the 'Verse. That it was older than they knew or were taught. He had to after River threw a three hundred pound man across a room. Added to the fact some of the bounty hunters that would come after Xander wouldn't all be human. He didn't want them too shocked.
"I do not turn my back to a fight that is twenty to one. No matter how power the one fighter is!" Xander lowly hissed at Mal who wisely stepped back at the tone. Mal had seen what happened went Xander used that tone, things and people got dead.
Mal nodded, then looked at Jayne. "What's your excuse?" Mal asked him.
Jayne looked at him blankly. "Violence."
"They had my back." Said River.
"You should have seen it, Mal. The way she tore though them, she and Xander fought back to back, their moves almost in unison. It was a thing of beauty." Said Jayne in an admiring tone.
River smiled slightly, then frowned. "Beauty that as a terrible price."
Jayne frowned, "Can't even give the moon-brained girl a compliment." As he walked away.
River smirked wickedly. "Do you still prefer her when she was in the box?" she called out to him.
"She was naked then." Jayne muttered just loud enough so they all heard him. River giggled, he then realized what he said and made a frustrated noise as he continued to walk away.
Simon frowned at his sister, "You shouldn't tease Jayne," he told her " he might try to bite you."
River shrugged and walked up the catwalk, but before she got out of earshot they heard her say " but that's the point."
Both Mal and Simon looked confused at that, but not Xander they saw the understanding look he had. "Now probably wouldn't be a good time to mention that Slayers have a thing for the bad boy type, would it?" he asked. Both Mal and Simon shook their heads.
For the last few days, Mal had noticed, Xander watching Jayne. Whenever they went out on jobs Xander always partnered with Jayne or River. Serenity's crew learn quickly how useful having Xander along on jobs could be, he saved their lives more than once. It seemed after the bar fight on WhiteFall, had caused a bond to grow between Jayne, Xander and River too. Jayne hardly ever called her crazy and when he did it was with affection. Simon was wary of this new development between his sister and the one he thought an ape of. The three were always found together talking, fighting, somewhere on the ship. Mal didn't understand it or like it very much, but the new friendship between River and Jayne seemed to help River, she hardly ever had fits, and when she did they weren't as bad. Mal also knew Jayne would never betray River the way he did on Ariel. If the Alliance were to take her, he knew Jayne would stop at nothing to fine her again. River was Jayne's friend now and Jayne did value the few of them he did have, and very few people earn Jayne's friendship, Mal knew. No one but River and Xander had that; no matter what names Jayne may curse at them.
Mal walked into the cargo bay in time to see River swing a sword at Jayne. Normally that would have worried him if he hadn't seen Jayne had one too. The swords clashed like thunder, sparks jumped from the clashing blades. Jayne, it seemed could use that sword, knew the rules to what he was doing not just mindlessly swing it. He was matching River blow for blow. They circled each other both looking for the other's weakness in a primal dance. Mal didn't have to ask where they got the swords; he had seen them in Xander's things. And thought it odd, until Xander told them about the truth to the 'Verse and how some things just couldn't be killed by a gun. Mal was about to stop them when he felt a hand on his should startled him he jump.
"Damn it, you need a bell." Mal told Xander when he saw him. Xander just smirked at Mal. "Don't you think those two are dangerous enough, you had to give them sharp objects to play with, Simon's not going to be happy."
Xander shrugged. "Wanted to know something and I couldn't if I was the one fighting him."
Mal blinked at that. "Him?" Mal questioned.
"Not everything is about River. But this way she gets to have her fun too. Slayer's love fighting any time or place. Hand to hand or with weapons it's all good to them." Xander told them but his eyes never left the dueling pair. After a few more minutes Xander told them to stop, they exchanged a few more blows before doing so.
River skipped up to them looking amazed as if she just learned a secret and wanted to share it. "He's like me, Captain Daddy!"
Mal looked at her blankly as Xander walked over to Jayne and was speaking in a low voice.
"He's just cracked, not broken." River said in a dreamy tone.
"How old!" Xander asked getting Mal attention.
Jayne sighed and look like he really didn't want to have this conversation. "I was eighteen, two months later I found Serenity." Jayne said. Mal looked dumbfounded.
River giggled. "Captain Daddy thought he fooled Jayne...when Jayne was the one who fooled you. Fooled us all...couldn't see it...was hidden deep...made the girl mad that she couldn't see it then. Fooled us too, not any more now."
Mal walked over to the other two men, asking "What's he talkin' about, Jayne?"
Jayne sighed and looking away from them. "You know, I came from a backwater world. Only three ways off it, The Companion Guild, The School, or death."
Mal frowned he had heard rumors of the School, it was said they taught and train elite soldiers, but some said they trained assassin's as well.
"When I was six, I was given the tests for learnin'. Wasn't pretty enough for the Companion Guild. That left the School. It's an honor to be chosen." Jayne said with a dry laugh. "If they knew the truth...But I learn what the tests said I would. I had violent reactions to everything as a child; I would hit things and people when provoked. The tests said I what was needed to be trained as..." Jayne trailed off.
"As what?" asked Mal.
"An assassin...changed his name, changed his fate." whispered River
Jayne nodded at that. "I was seventeen when I escaped the School, my training was finished. I wasn't tortured the way River was but no child should be taught what I was, no child should know how to kill a person forty-three ways by the time they're seven. Traveled for a while. Decided if I was going to be a killer it would be on my terms. Spread some rumors about Jayne Cobb. Made him older, meaner, and stupider than most merc's then I became him."
"Masks to hide the hurt." River said softly. Jayne didn't hear that but Mal did.
"Just like my training taught. But when I saw Serenity, I knew I had found it."
"Found what?" asked Xander.
"Peace? I found my freedom. You felt it too, Mal. Why else did you make a deal with me and not one of the others?"
Mal couldn't answer that, he shrugged he had just had a feeling that today. Jayne sighed and asked "Do you want me off Serenity?"
Mal shook his head. "Already have one crazy assassin why not two? Never asked about your past, seems yours is the only one that hasn't come to haunt us yet. You do your job, I got no complaints, Jayne." Mal told him, Jayne nodded then left the cargo bay, Mal turned to Xander. "How did you know?"
"I saw him pull a move they only teach at the School, during that bar fight."
Mal nodded then wondered how Xander knew which fighting move was that one move. Xander could see the question on Mal's face. Xander shrugged then and said.
"Trained there too. "he told Mal.
Mal walked away, going up the stairs, shaking his head there were three of them on his boat. Mal did some quick math, his merc' was only twenty-six, who was a trained assassin. The crazy girl was an assassin-reader Slayer girl. The 'Verse had real demons in it; real evil that epic's were wrote about. The boy from the stasis box was well connection in the underworld of the 'Verse, demon and criminal. Mal looked down from the catwalk as Xander sat on a crate as he started to clean and sharpen the swords. River sat on the floor watching him work. Mal wondered what other revelations Xander would bring.
Xander felt the arm around his neck, felt the hand at his throat squeeze slightly.
"Angelus!" greeted a cockney English accent. Glancing up he saw platinum blond hair, yellow feral eyes, ridges on the nose and forehead...a vampire. Angel greeted the blond with a hug and a laugh still holding on to Xander. Finding himself between the vamps, Xander was worried.
"Spike," said Angel as Spike throws aside the poke he had been using to poke hole in the school ceiling. Angel smirked at him.
" I taught you to guard your perimeter. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. You should have someone out there." He told Spike. Spike sighed.
"I did, I'm surrounded by morons."
Xander listened as Angel an the blond vampire spoke, Angel asking if he met the Slayer about how tough she was, that he was using the Anne Rice I'm so tortured routine. Xander could keep his mouth shout anymore at that. "I knew you were lying."
Angel squeezed Xander throat and shake him to shut him up.
"Undead liar guy!" he choked out. Angel holds him by his hair and shirt exposing Xander's neck
"What about a bite before we kill her?" Angel asked Spike. Xander felt himself being jerk up. Angel on one side of him, Spike on the other. Sharp teeth embedded themselves on both sides of his neck, Xander screamed; a few moments later a pair pull out of his neck.
"He is a nummytreat." Said that English accent. Xander woke himself up screaming.
Xander woke with a start. He sat up in his small bunk and wiped the sweat from his forehead. Xander knew he would not be going back to sleep. He got up and left his room.
As Xander wandered the ship later, he wondered about the dream, wonder why the first he dreamed that first meeting so differently from what actually happened. Xander wondered why he had dreamed of a meeting that happened five hundred years ago. Xander sighed as he sat next to his favorite view port on Serenity. Looking out it he remembered the past.
The final Apocalypse had come, the Scoobies were there, they beat it then partied. The Powers-That-Be decided to reward them. Angel became human, he and Angelus became one personality, and Angelus was also give immorality. Buffy, Willow, and Xander were granted immorality as well. But given other things as too, Buffy though lost her Slayer powers. The PTB's knew Buffy never liked being the Slayer and that all she ever wanted was to be normal, so that was how the PTB's rewarded her.
Buffy was able to have the fairytale ending with Angel that she always wanted. Willow had been given full excess to all her powers. She had forever to learn all about them. They also gave the promise that Willow would find Tara again. For Xander they gave him back his eye, emerald green it might be, along with that he got some of the hyena's abilities back as well as the memories of the soldier restored. They always granted Xander the knowledge of what it means to be The One Who Sees...he could see it now...
Giles strangely enough refused the offer of immortality. He told the others later that there were people he wanted to see again, and he couldn't do that if he lived forever. Buffy and Willow never understood Giles's choice but Xander had. So Giles trained Slayers until he died at age of hundred and five.
Wesley and Cordelia were given a second chance at life as immortals as well. But their disenchantment with the good fight and with Angel became obvious. And it resulted in a parting of way between the broody vampire and them. Faith to became immortal, she stayed a Slayer, she loved being one. It was after the final Apocalypse that Faith made her true peace with the others, she and Buffy made their peace with each other, but would never like each other. Faith still admired Angel, still believed that he could help her redeem herself. Even though she had been forgiven she didn't feel that she had earn it yet. Willow and Faith came to an understanding and became better friends; they no longer hated the sight of each other. With Xander, she became a true friend to him, they even tried a relationship later, but in the end were better as just friends.
Dawn and Connor they all found were immortal because how they were created. She and Connor had, had each other; they had a lot in common since neither was suppose to be able to exist. Their romance had enough adventure and angst to match any romance novel.
Spike was given true immortality, but still kept the strengths of a vampire.
Spike still had the bloodlust and needed to drink blood but could live off animal blood instead of humans. He still liked a pint of the good stuff every once in awhile. Spike was also now immune to holy objects; and holy water and he could walk in the sun.
When Earth-That-Was, was lost it's destruction, it hit them all hard. Until they had realized that it wasn't just the planet they were protecting but humanity itself.
As long as there were people still living in the universe they had a purpose.
"Why are you staring out there? Nothing to see but black." Asked a voice.
Xander blinked and tried to shake the thoughts of the past away. Jayne was sitting across from him cleaning a knife. "Just lost in thoughts."
"The past?" asked Jayne.
Xander nodded then asked, "Did you want something?"
"Captain's called a meeting."
"Let's go see, the Captain, then."
The crew sat around the table in the galley as Mal paced in front of them. "We've been on this bout with out a break for two months. Thanks to Xander we've had steady work, and we've worked hard. We deserve a some R&R.."
"But where are we gonna go? Alliance patrols all the good places." Said Kaylee.
"Well," Mal said, seeming uncomfortable, "I got a wave from Inara. She's fine at that school on Isis, she went to teach at six months ago, but I think she's homesick for this old boat. She wants to see all of us." When no one said anything. Mal asked, "So? Should we go?"
The crew all nodded in agreement.
"Isis, uh." Xander muttered, to himself, wondering why he got feeling of intense anticipation?
Two days later Serenity landed on planet Isis. It had a lush tropical climate, full of dark green vegetation just behind the school. The school itself looked like an old Arabian castle that Aladdin would have tried to steel something from. Xander followed the others of the ship. He was walking between River and Jayne, when Xander suddenly said " I knew a Companion once..."
"Was she pretty?" asked Jayne, River hit him in the shoulder; she had taken to hitting him if he showed any interest women, Jayne glared at her. Xander smirked at them before he smiled softly in remembrance, "He was breathtaking."
"Oh!" said Jayne dumbfounded. He knew there were male Companions just as there were females but they were rare.
Xander got a closer look of the castle, the gardens were blooming with the scent of hundreds of exotic flowers, and something about this place teased his memory.
Xander turned slowly at the sound of his name, and he walked up to the slim man with honey colored hair. Xander put his arms around the slimmer man's waist and pulled the blond closer to him until man's rested back rested against Xander's chest. "So, what do you think of your castle?" Xander asked, whispering into the blond's ear as they looked at the half finished Arabian castle.
"It's beautiful, pet!" The other man exclaimed before asking, "But why have you done this?"
"Well, you deserve a beautiful place to teach beauty to others." Xander whispered softly into the blond's ear. The other man twisted in Xander's arms until the other faced Xander and wrapped his arms around Xander's neck, his azure eyes gleaming with happiness. "We need some peace and beauty in our lives...there has been too much fighting, too much death. It's time to rest for awhile...just us." Xander said as he lean his forehead on the other man's.
"Have I told you just how much I love you today, Xander..."
"Xander!" Simon said as he shook him.
Xander blinked sharply, "Sorry, I spaced off."
Simon frowned, Mal had told him and what he found out about Jayne and Xander's pasts. The look Xander had was the same one his sister got when she was remembering things that hurt her.
"I'm fine." Xander told him, rather unconvincingly.
"I'm fine, Doc." Xander said more harshly, and then smiled, " I'll be just fine."
Simon eyed him but left the subject alone as they walked through the courtyard entrance of the castle, and were greeted by a beautiful brunet with deep dark eyes; and golden tanned skin. The woman was wearing silks and satins in different shades of gold, that showed off her body, in the way most Companions like to do.
"Inara..." Mal greeted the woman.
Inara smiled and hugged each of the crew greeting them by name. Then she was introduced to Xander. If Xander had looked up at that moment he would have seen a familiar platinum blond head, leaning out one of the tower windows smoking a cigarette. Xander would have seen the blond man's azure eyes narrow ah he frowned. But Xander would have saw something else too, he would have seen a gleam of hope in those cold eyes.
Inara lead them to a large room that was decorated in red and gold silks. Cushions were placed through out it, in the same colors. Kaylee and Simon sat on a large red cushion cuddling together. Zoë had found the only lone black cushion to sit on. Mal sat on a gold one, that was next to a red and gold patterned one that he knew Inara would use when she was done pouring tea for everyone. Xander stood in front of a big arch window, looking out into the courtyard, where male and female students of the school were training in self-defense and weapons, bows and arrows and swords. Jayne and River sat on opposite sides of the window, where Xander was standing.
Xander half listened to the others conversations.There is something about this place, Xander thought. It made him feel things. Things that made no sense. Feelings of longing, happiness and joy, love too. But Xander was sure he had never been here before today.
"Why do Companions have to learn weapons or self-defense?" asked Kaylee innocently after seeing the students train.
"For protection, in order for a Companion to do they're calling well, they must open themselves in a way you never would. Making them vulnerable. People would take advantage of the Companion. If the Companion knows they can take care of themselves, even on just a physical level. They learn the self-confidents in order to be able to do this."
This was not said by Inara, but by Xander as he looked out the window.
Inara's eyes widen in surprise. "That is one of the reasons the owner of this school teaches. Were you a student here?" She asked having noticed Xander's beauty and grace of movement.
Xander turned to face them. "I don't know." He said, softly. Inara was about to ask how he couldn't know. When Mal stopped her by laying a hand on her arm and shaking his head.
"You said you knew a Companion," said Jayne.
Xander looked at him confused. "I did...when?"
Jayne looked at him in concern. "Ten minutes ago, when we were in the courtyard garden. I asked if she was pretty, you said he was breathtakin'...don't you remember?" Jayne asked.
Xander wrapped his arms around himself. Looking down at the floor he shook his head he said, "Don't remember that, " the fear in Xander's eyes was obvious.
"Xander, maybe you should let the Doc, see to you. Maybe he can help." Said Mal.
Xander saw Simon was going to agree to that. Xander knew it wouldn't help.
"Don't bother, Doc. What's wrong with me isn't physical, really."
River then cocked her head to the side. "The Heart hid its secrets from the Red Goddess. So she couldn't steal them away. Deep in the darkness they hide. But all will be revealed."
"You think." Xander asked hopefully. "Cause I don't mind being crazy, that can be fun, but I would like to know what make me that way."
"Whelp, you've always been crazy!" Said a cockney English accent. Turning to look Xander saw there standing in the doorway of the room was a slim young man, dressed in black and sliver patterned a kimono type robe, who was a couple inches shorter than Xander. He had short platinum blond, electric blue eyes and a scar that cut through his right eyebrow. The blond man oozed sexuality but not the prim and proper type of a Core trained Companion, something more animal like, more primal. He affected everyone in the room.
"Spike!" Xander said in shock.
"Don't just stand there with your mouth open. Greet an old friend." Said Spike.
"But why...the how...uhh?"
"Eloquent as always, whelp," Spike smirked.
Xander blinked, shaking his head. Finding Spike in a Companion house wasn't as shocking. Finding him working as one...well that was head shake worthy. Spike always did like his creature comforts as a Companion, he'd have them. Only vampire Xander had ever knew who preferred a smelly basement to a crypt and that was pre-soul. Xander smiled at him. It had taken almost three hundred years but they had become friends not just the allies they were in Sunnydale. Of course the first two hundred they had tried to kill each other.
Spike smiled slightly, but it didn't reach his eyes. They shared a hug and manly backslapping. When Xander pulled away from him, he wondered why that had felt so right. Why he felt...
"Introduce me to your new friends, pet."
"Not your pet." Xander hissed out at him. Wondering where this anger he was feeling was coming from. Spike blink then nodded. Xander closed his eyes and sighed. When Xander opened them he looked embarrassed at what he said. He then did as Spike asked and introduced Serenity's crew.
Spike's eyes widen slightly when he saw River, who had her head cocked to the side listening to some unheard voice.
"The Kitten will care for you, my wicked light. Kitten will keep the dark light in you shining; he will be more than you know. Protect Kitten, my Spike, and the Kitten in turn will be loyal to you." River said in an upper English accent. From Spike's look she was mimicking someone he had known. Spike choked out a shocked "Drusilla".
That had been the last thing Drusilla had said to Spike before she disappeared three hundred years ago. Spike turned away from the less than sane girl to look at Xander and saw the blankness that had come over his eyes. Spike knew what was coming...
"I miss Selene," Xander said swaying slightly back and forth.
Spike frowned, "You almost lost your head on Selene," Spike told him. True they were all immortal but they still got hurt and they still felt pain like humans or vampires do and only healed slightly faster than normal. Spike knew this because each of them had sought death at one time or another trying to find release from their reward.
"Would have found it and stuck it back on like a Lego."
Spike put a hand on Xander's arm but he turned his back to Spike. Walking a way, Spike followed him.
"Do you love me, Sweet William? Even the parts you can't see?"
"From your beautifully strange eyes to your blood, my sweet." Spike said as he pulled Xander's back against his chest.
"The dog meows and the cat barks."
They others had never see Xander act like this; true they had seen him do and say crazy things but not this crazy.
"What's going on?" asked Mal.
"Shhh," River hissed, holding a finger to her lips. "The Knight is Seeing, must be like mice, so the Poet will know his words to speak."
Mal was just confused, it seemed he stayed in that stated anymore. He was about to say something when Jayne spoke,
"Shut it, the blond know what he's doin'" Jayne told Mal in a low tone. Mal kept silent.
"Talk to Spike, tell me what you see." Spike said to Xander in the same tone in used on Drusilla for hundreds of years. Spike hated this, hated that for this gift or curse Xander had he had to give up his sanity to use it. Hated that the fact that Willow, Buffy and even Angelus used the boy for these abilities, for their own gain rather than helping him through this visions. When Xander was like this he reminded them all too much of his maker a and that make Spike remember Angelus's cruelty. Something none of those three liked to remember, to them the past was best forgotten. They used this to force Xander back to being the Donut Boy, the Zeppo. Why Xander could always forgive the girls for what they did to him Spike could never figure out.
"The day of the hawk is coming, the petty gods will rise. War will be declared king, Peace shall consort. The gods reborn, the old ways return." Said Xander looked over at River.
"Two by two, hands of blue, did what they were created to do" River shuddered and cuddled closer to Jayne"...from normal girl to Slayer made...not right. But is now, what purpose does she serve." Xander cried out "Why did the Slayer Queen do this!!" Spike shook his head, and then saw the sanity slowly come back to Xander's strange eyes. "Spike, catch me." Xander whispered just before he passed out. Spike caught him before he hit the floor.
"Gods now!" muttered Mal, "Wasn't the Alliance, Blue Sun and every Bounty Hunter in the 'Verse enough...now Gods." The part about the gods was about the only part he understands of Xander's crazy talk and he didn't like it.
"Well, Captain" Zoë said as they watched Spike tended to Xander with the help of Inara, Jayne and River. "There never seems to be a dull moment since we met Xander."
Mal glared at her.
Xander woke slowly and realize he was not in his bunk on Serenity. A soft female body lay pressed against his right side, a leg carelessly thrown over his own. A hard male body lay pressed against his left and arm thrown over Xander's chest. For a moment Xander was afraid to open his eye's, afraid to see blond hair or red next to him. To hear that soft Irish accent that seemed to live in his nightmares. Xander didn't want to open his eyes and find out his months of freedom on Serenity had been just a dream.
"Have no fear, open your eyes and greet the day!" River's soft voice whispered in his ear. Xander sighed in relief. He was still free from them. Xander spoke with his eyes still closed,
"You know, if your brother were to walk in, he could accuse me of corrupting you."
River snicker at that, knowing her brother the lecture would be boring.
A soft snort came from the other occupant of the bed. "Got to many manners that one, just to barge in. Besides if the sounds that come from the engine room are anything to go by, he's got no cause to be accusing you of corrupting anyone." Jayne muttered sleepily.
River laughed at that as she cuddled closer to Xander. "Captain Daddy gave the Knight the special hell speech."
Xander shuddered in remembrance whoever had taught Mal that speech did a good job of getting their point across if it made Mal uses it. Xander wondered when waking up with River or Jayne had stopped surprising him. River had crawled in to his bunk that first night on Serenity. Jayne had just got drunk with Xander one night and fell a sleep in Xander's bunk. There was nothing sexual about it. But over the months on the ship they had found that they kept each other's nightmares away.
"We must get up, Captain Daddy will want some answers. And I don't think your sweet Poet will give them to him?" River said.
"No, Spike's a stubborn guy. Will get up, just not yet." Xander sighed out as he yawned and cuddled down in to the bedclothes.
"Yeah, moon-brain, soon." Jayne said as the hand that had been on Xander's chest came up to stroke River's hair.
"Soon," River sighed in a whisper and leaned into Jayne's touch.
Spike took breakfast with the strangers that had appeared on his doorstep. Inara, he had found had invited them. Spike knew for a fact that Red and the Slayer,( even though Buffy was no longer a slayer he still called her that, old habits and dying hard you know.) that they were on a rampage that their favorite toy was gone. Spike knew cause the
Movie Star had seduced the information out of Angelus, who was looking for the boy.
Spike sipped the blood hidden in the coffee cup. He had always thought Angel was a ponce long before the Reward. After though Angelus had become worst. The demon and soul merged creating a new being that had the memories of both of Angel and Angelus.
Xander had a theory that all the PTB did, was give Angel the freewill to be an asshole.
To say Xander didn't like the new Angelus was like saying Red didn't like doing magic.
Surprisingly Spike hadn't agree with Xander at first he had seen a lot of his old Sire in the new being...but in the end, Spike hated it when the Whelp was right.
Spike had slowly took in the measure of the people in the room. The guy who looked like the Preacher, Caleb, was the defacto leader of this bunch, he was also an idealist who had all of his ideals crushed brutally. It was Mal relationship with Inara that Spike found amusing. It reminded him of the thing between the Whelp and the Movie Star when they had been in the stages of not quite being lovers, yet not friends either. Zoë it seemed was a grieving but healing widow. She was also had been career military. It was obvious that she would follow her Captain to hell and back and probably has. Kaylee was a sweet and simple girl but was by no means stupid. Those dark eyes seemed to appraise everyone, if the girl ever told Mal not to trust someone he would be a fool not to believer her. Some were just lucky enough to see and know the souls of others. Kaylee reminded Spike of a sweet and simple young boy he knew once. The girl was also in love with the young man she was sitting next too. Simon Tam, now, he was interesting. Core born and bred, a doctor and a wanted criminal. Their wasn't a person in the 'Verse who hadn't heard his story or the stories that was being born from it. In another decade he'd be a myth and a legend. Someone who defied the Alliance and for the love for his sister.
The two he hadn't had a chance to get a feel for was the two who had refuse to leave Xander's side when he passed out. Their loyalty to their friend said much though. Out of all of theses people it was those two, who would die for Xander. That really told Spike all he need to know about them. That and the fact the girl was a reader and a Slayer also told him where Xander's would be, Spike knew he had to tread carefully here or everything would blow up in his face and the whelp would never understand.
"So, what exactly was that with Xander?" asked Mal. Spike sipped his blood, smirked and said nothing.
Xander shivered, though warm in his sleep, dreamed...
It was a deadly game they played, one that would lead to the other's death...if they could die. Xander wasn't so sure they couldn't but he hadn't found a way to prove it...yet.
Hunting and being hunted.
Sometimes he wondered if this game was worth the trouble. True it relieved the boredom; Xander had hunted the other all over the world. The hunt had taken him to Paris, St.Petersburg, Giza, and Rome. He had seen these cities before but he learned to see them again through the eyes of his prey. The old cities became shiny and new to Xander. The game was always interesting to say the least, it also kept the demons of the past away.
Out of sight, wasn't always out of mind this, Xander knew well.
Xander moved silently through the corridors of the building, his prey, he sensed was close by. He had picked up many tricks in Sunnydale. Xander used them all to his advancement. This hunt was coming to a close he could sense. Would the prey submit or fight? Xander had wondered what would happen if he ever caught his cunning prey. He stopped at the end of a long hallway, there was a door, and slowly Xander opened it. It was a bedroom, simple decorated with a single bed and a small nightstand table. He looked around the room then noticed a white card lying on the table. Picking it up and opening it, he read what it said. Xandee cursed in every language he knew before he made some up. Throwing the card down on the bed, Xander stormed out of the room. The forgotten card had fallen open on the bed, the mocking words were written in bold black letters.
'Better luck, next time, Pet!'
Xander woke with a start feeling as if he were now the one being hunted.
In the tallest building, in the middle of Londinium, Buffy Summers stood looking out over the Alliance controlled home world. She was one of the most powerful women in the Core worlds...And yet finding one man eluded her. She turned to look at her mate, Angelus who was sitting carelessly at a conference table with Willow Rosenberg the most powerful witch in the 'Verse, she was looking over some data pads. "Well, why haven't you found him?" She asked.
Angelus knew who the he was with out asking, only one person could make Buffy use that tone of voice.
"It's a big 'Verse, even with my contacts." He said. Angelus was one of the most feared people, ruthless in his dealings with pirates, smugglers and traitors to the Alliance.
Buffy made a rude sound then asked, "Did you enjoy making Cordelia do her part?"
Angelus opened his mouth to retort when Willow said, "You can fight about Cordelia later, right now we have to find Xander."
"We wouldn't have to find him if you hadn't used those smugglers to ship him to Ceres." Angelus said, snidely.
"Why did you do that? Why didn't you use a company service ship?" asked Buffy.
"That would have been to dangerous, what if someone had opened the stasis Xander was in..."
"Some one did!"
"That's not what I meant!"
"Girls!" Barked Angelus both women looked at him. " Fighting will get us nowhere. What did you find out about the smugglers that have our boy?"
Willow sighed and picked up a forgotten data pad.
"They're the ones who found out the truth about Miranda and they sent the information through the 'Verse. They all seem to be honorable people from everyone that was talked to but still criminals. It's Serenity, the ship the Tams are rumored to be hiding on. River Tam was almost a successful experiment or would have been if her brother hadn't found a way to get her out of the Academy." Said Willow.
"I don't care! I want my...err..." Buffy stopped when she saw the looks on the others faces "Our...our Xander back...back doing what he is suppose to be doing. Send the Slayer Teams out if you have too...Have them bring Xander Harris back and if they can get the Tams too...well, that's just icing." Said Buffy.
Angelus stormed out of the meeting. He had convinced both women not to send the Slayer Teams yet and that he could find Xander. Angelus just needed the time to do so. But it made him angry, made him wonder why he wasn't enough for his girls...why did Xander have to get in the way. Why everyone seemed to prefer Xander Harris to him?
Angelus had the choice of the three most powerful, most beautiful women in the 'verse and they seemed to care about Xander more. So why did Angelus want a boy who had hated him from the moment they had met? Now don't get the wrong idea he could live without Xander and had but he had to admit his favorite times were when the witch played with the boy's memories. Sharing a bed with Xander, the witch, and Buffy was fun but it always had a price. Willow's spells never seemed to last. Angelus loved Buffy would always love her and Willow too, and knew they loved him in return...Even Cordelia still loved him in her way. But he knew he would never own even a small part of Xander's heart that belonged only too....
Spike shivered as he sat in the shadows of the garden, protected by the overhang from the sun. Even though the sunlight was no longer deadly to him. Old habits were hard to break. He had been watching how his guests were interacting with each other. Spike saw they would die for each other...if they didn't snark each other to death first.
"Spike?" Xander asked as he walked into the shades area.
"Have I been here before?"
"Here on Isis or here at the Castle?"
"Here," Xander said motioning around with a hand. For a moment Spike was silent before he told Xander that he had stayed there for a time."Oh, was I a ...well..." Xander trailed off at the vampire's smirk.
"No, you weren't a Companion." Spike told him.
"Then why was I here?"
"I can't answer that Xander."
"Can't or won't." Xander demanded.
"Won't, some things are better understood if you remember them yourself."
"But that could take months, even years!"
Spike smiled then and not a smirk, "Well it's not like you don't have time."
Xander groaned at the old joke.