Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Firefly/Angel crossover
Rating: PG-13 (default)
Length: Short story (a little over 13,000 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Feedback: Concrit adored! If you see something that can be improved upon, please let me know.
Written for: inlovewithnight's Fred Appreciation Day and the apocalypsos's apocalyptothon.
Notes: The request was from Deviousli, who wanted "The Scoobies hop forward in time to warn the Serenity crew about an impending apocalypse. Insanity ensues. Yay." I cheated and used the Fang Gang instead, because I'm better at AngelFic than BuffyFic. Many thanks to _aadler, who did yeoman's work in beta-ing this thing, improved my Illyria voice immeasurably, and gave me a reason for the initial assault on the Hellmouth other than "getting their asses kicked."
Pairings: Jayne/Illyria and a hint of Spike/Fred.
Shepherd Book frowned as the crew brought the new cargo aboard and secured it to the floor. A stasis box, it had markings on it he recognized but never thought he'd see. No--markings he'd never actually credited the existence of.
But the curly-horned sheep, the deer, and the wolf were unmistakable. He'd come across them more than once in his readings of the arcane leather-bound books that were a staple of his calling. His other calling, the one the others knew nothing about. And those three creatures, taken together, always portended evil.
He took Mal aside after they broke atmo. "Any idea what's in the box?"
"Don't know, don't care, Shepherd. Why?"
"No particular reason." A very particular reason you don't need to know. "Just wondering."
"Best not to ask too many questions, business we're in." Mal clapped him on the shoulder and headed out of the cargo bay, calling over his shoulder, "Dinner's in a few."
"Wouldn't miss it."
But first, he intoned a protective spiritual chant over the container. He only half-believed in such things, preferring his Bible over the books at the Council of Watchers, but better safe than sorry.
No one saw the flash of light in the smuggling space under the sink in the kitchen...
What...where...? She regained consciousness, slowly and muzzily, her first thoughts confused and blurred. She could move, so that was a good; but she seemed to be surrounded by cold metal, in the dark, which didn't fit her last memory and therefore was probably a bad. She was also...naked? Um. Probably another thing for the "bad" column.
Her last memory floated to the surface. Wesley, why can't I stay? Burning up, some virus or other invading her body, devouring what had been Winifred Burkle and leaving a shell behind. Illyria, that was its name. Old One, sarcophagus, she'd been curious. What was that saying about curiosity and cats?
She smiled to herself. Of course, the little-used addendum to "Curiosity killed the cat" was "Satisfaction brought it back." Apparently that had worked in her favor. This once. But cats had nine lives, right? Probably not smart to stretch the metaphor too far, and she was babbling, albeit mentally, again. Best to shake herself out of this and figure out just where she was and how to get in touch with the others. Wesley would be happy; she couldn't wait to see him.
She felt around herself and discovered that she was in a coffin-like space, which gave her the willies until she found a sliding panel on one side. She opened it and rolled into a roomful of surprised-looking people. One of them hollered, "Jayne!"
Later, dressed in a kimono donated by a lady who was prettier than she had a right to be, she sat at the kitchen table surrounded by the inhabitants of this real, live spaceship. The Captain of the ship was staring at her with his arms crossed and his brow lowered thunderously, and the rest of the crew seemed to be in varying stages of puzzlement and suspicion. The only person who seemed to be completely blase about the whole thing was a teenaged girl who appeared to be slightly loopy and kept muttering about cats.
She was a bit discombobulated herself. Finding out that you're aboard a spaceship in another solar system five hundred years in the future would throw anyone off their game, and just because she was used to a dozen mystical events happening around her on a daily basis didn't mean that the physics of this particular event didn't make her head hurt. She wanted to curl up into a ball and hide, but apparently that wasn't an option.
The Captain was yelling at the big guy again. "You're tellin' me you had nothin' to do with a naked woman aboard my boat in one of the smuggling spaces?"
"I swear on my Mama, Mal, I ain't never seen her before in my life! Not that I wouldn't mind havin' her, she's damn cute, but I didn't have nothin' to do with bringin' her on."
Mal rounded on Fred. "And you say you got no idea how you got here?"
"I'd have to run some pretty complicated equations on a supercomputer to even begin to figure out the 'how.' As to the 'why'--" She shrugged. "Last thing I remember is dying."
"Why does everything happen to me?" Mal asked the ceiling. "How come, for once in my life, things just can't go smooth? We finally get a nice, simple job, and along comes a nekkid dead girl from out of nowhere to throw a monkey wrench into the works and gum up the whole plan."
"I-I'm sorry," Fred stammered. "I don't mean to be any trouble. You can just drop me off on the nearest, um, planet, or wherever we're close to, and I'll get out of your hair."
He snorted. "Sounds easy, don't it? Only we're flying way under the radar here and we ain't gonna be close to any-damn-place until we get to where we're going. Looks like we're all stuck with each other 'til the job's done with. Shiny." He pointed at her. "Stay out from underfoot, don't bother my crew, and don't touch anything. Dong ma?" She wasn't familiar with the foreign phrase, and her puzzlement must have shown on her face. "Understand?" he clarified.
"Oh! Yeah. I won't be any trouble. Promise."
Mal snorted again. "See that you ain't. I've not put anyone out the airlock in awhile, but I won't hesitate. No matter how cute Jayne thinks you are."
Somehow, Fred had expected the future to be more...futuristic. Okay, she was on a spaceship, which was all kinds of just neat, but they still used regular old-fashioned books (although she wasn't familiar with any of the authors), bedsheets still seemed to be made from regular old-fashioned cotton, and everything was a whole lot dirtier than she thought it would be. Also, the food? If you could call it that, she snorted to herself. Was terrible.
Whatever her vision of the future had been, it sure hadn't been this.
Apparently the order to "not bother the crew" didn't extend to "the crew not bothering her." She soon found out that River and Book weren't members of the crew, but passengers, sort of like her, except they hadn't apparated out of thin air after being eaten alive by an Old One. And Jayne had been hanging around her more often than she figured was strictly necessary as well; she gathered that his duties tended more to be ground-side work rather than having anything to do aboard ship. In fact, she got the distinct impression that the others would rather he just disappeared until they needed him.
Wesley would have liked his guns, she thought with a pang. And Wes is irretrievably gone, and so is everyone else from the past. She still wanted to curl up into a ball or run away, but going outside the spaceship right now wouldn't be too smart.
Simon examined her and declared her healthy, so the Illyria infection apparently hadn't crossed over with her. Kaylee loaned her some clothes, although they were a bit short.
However, Wash, the pilot, had given her some charts of the solar system to study, and the Cortex was like the internet on steroids. She spent hours at a time going from one site to another, checking up on breakthroughs in physics, and then hanging out in the doorway of the engine room to see the practical application. Kaylee was more than happy to chatter endlessly about "her girl" and pointed out where all the parts were and what did what.
All the new and exciting technology was almost enough to make her forget that she was stuck five hundred years in the future with no personal infrastructure and no way to make a living once she got off the ship. At dinner that evening, she was a bit overwhelmed with the enormity of it all and sat poking at her protein while the conversation carried on over her head.
That conversation died abruptly when thumping noises and British curses began emanating from the same smuggling space in the kitchen cabinets where Fred herself had appeared...
And a familiar--naked--form rolled out of the door, cursing his platinum-blond head off and wrapped in the embrace of an equally-naked blue-tinted carbon copy of herself.
Mal thought he was going to have a heart attack, right there in the dining room. He was beginning to suspicion that this job weren't as easy as it had been made out to be. Three nekkid folk appearing out of thin air in the same spot on his boat, directly after they'd taken on this new cargo...
And they all seemed to know each other, too, which pinged his radar plenty. The two girls looked an awful lot alike, and they apparently didn't get along; the guy with the radioactive hair sat between them attempting, unsuccessfully, to keep the peace. If looks could've killed, Kaylee wouldn't need no oil for the engine for awhile, because nothing'd be left of the blue one except a greasy spot.
At least they had clothes now. The blue gal, Illyria, apparently could do...something or other that covered her decently, and Spike, the guy (why would anyone want hair that color? Mal kept coming back to that), was about the same size as Wash, if a bit skinnier. He complained some about the brightly-patterned shirt and seemed to be eyeing Mal's coat a bit more covetously than he ought.
Speaking of covetous eyeing, Jayne had switched his attention from Fred to her twin. Illyria stared back at him in a haughty fashion. "Cease lusting for me, human," she said. "You would snap as a dry twig were we to attempt what you contemplate."
"Wouldn't mind tryin' it anyways." Jayne turned to Mal. "Can I have her, Cap'n? I'll take real good care of her."
"No!" Mal pounded his fist on the table. "There will be no 'having' of anyone on this trip, least of all our unwelcome visitors! Don't even think about it. Wuo de ma..."
Illyria tilted her head and looked closer at the mercenary, then turned to Spike. "He resembles Hamilton, does he not?"
"Thought Angel said he killed that bugger."
"Hamilton was a creature of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart. He could be defeated, but might not actually die. The match is uncanny."
"Bit of a coincidence," Spike said doubtfully. Then he gave Mal a sharp look, appeared to consider for a second, and shook his head. Fred blinked, stared at Zoe, then frowned and shook her head as well, muttering something about "maggots."
"It is no coincidence. We have been brought here for a reason. Such a confluence of events can never be happenstance." She gestured at Fred, who bristled. "The shell is here also. There is some source of power on this vessel, drawing us all to this place."
Mal's mistrust about their job solidified. "The gorram cargo. Shoulda known they was willin' to pay too high a price for somethin' seemed so simple." He slapped the table again, with both hands, and jumped to his feet. "Let's go have a look-see." He strode out of the room without waiting for anyone to follow.
They filed into the cargo bay to find Mal, hands on hips, staring at the largish crate tied down in the center. "Oh, bloody hell," Spike said, gesturing at the logo on it for the benefit of Illyria and Fred. "The law firm that wouldn't die. Any idea what's in it?" he asked Mal.
"One way to find out." The captain unsnapped the straps and considered the lock, then grabbed a pry bar.
"I'm not so sure that's a good idea," Fred hastened to say. "There might be some pretty heavy protective spells on this thing; just whammin' it open might unleash something you don't want to deal with."
"Me and the Blue Meanie can kick any ass necessary," Spike said, swinging his arms back and forth. "Wouldn't mind a bit of violence right now."
Fred gave him a look. "You can't kick non-corporeal ass." To Mal, she said, "Just...let me take a look at it first, before you go all Rambo on it, okay?" And then to herself, "I wish Wes was here. He was better at the mystical stuff than me."
To her surprise, Illyria stepped up beside her to examine the crate. "Wesley never ceased to love you. He would be happy that you survived." Her blue twin seemed curiously unwilling to meet her gaze. "He wanted you, at his ending. I am glad I could at least provide the semblance of what he desired."
Fred took a deep breath. "He died? I mean, of course he died, we're five hundred years in the future, but you were with him?"
"He died valiantly and well, with your name on his lips and your image in his vision. It was my last gift to him." Illyria touched the crate. "There is a ward, here, and another, here." She frowned. "And something here that was not placed by the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart." She tilted her head and eyed the Shepherd, who stared back at her blandly. After doing something complicated with her hands, she said, "They are released. You may open the crate with no mystical repercussions now."
Mal's expression was suspicious. "That seemed kinda easy. Didn't look like anything happened to me."
"I have had dealings with the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart for millennia," Illyria said contemptuously. "Their power has never exceeded my own and never will. The affairs of beings such as we are not for the eyes of puny human vermin."
"Um, Blue?" Spike said. "Let's not forget that the 'puny human vermin' can put us out the airlock and leave us stranded in space, yeah? A bit of politeness for our hosts is in order here."
"An attempt to put me out the airlock would be instructive and amusing, but very well." She backed away from the crate as Mal came forward.
He didn't use any finesse; he just whacked the locks with the pry bar and smashed them apart. Taking a deep breath, he flung the lid open and peered in. "Huh." They all crowded around him as he continued, "This business of nekkid folk aboard my boat is getting really damn old."
"Oh, bloody hell," Spike said, examining the still form.
"Um, Captain, that's the same sort of stasis box--" Simon started, but he didn't have time to finish before the person inside sat up, vamped out, and began screaming.
Spike lit a cigarette he'd gotten God-knew-where. "Hullo, Angel. Fancy meetin' you here."