Story: The Awaited One
Chapter 6: No Stranger Meeting
Timeline: Firefly-post BDM seven months after, Buffy – takes into account all of television series of both Angel and Buffy but no the comic books.
Summary: Five hundred years later there is a new light approaching. Rayne—S/K
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy/Angel mythos and Firefly/Serenity are property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Inc., etc.
“This” is speech.
‘This’ is thoughts
~This~ is images – only River sees.
Jayne straightened up. Something about that man with his arms around River gnawed at him.
River for her part was intrigued by the quiet. For the steel of Spike’s reflective mind, there were images floating around her - his life. She had always assumed the mind threw memories at her, but unable to glimpse his thoughts she realized it must come from somewhere else. The only thing she could feel was his red and blue emotions – elation and a sense of calm.
“Spike,” Angel said as Zoe helped him to his feet, “let the girl go before Hamilton takes your head off.”
~A man in a tight business suit. A smarmy, smug smile on a familiar face. ~
Spike turned his head to glare at Jayne. He let out a growl. River laughed softly. “I’m not very menacing when you laugh, love.”
“It tickles,” she informed him.
“Mayhap you could tell me what’s so interesting about my pilot?” Mal cut in, inching for his gun. He was trying to find the quickest way out without any of the crew being harmed.
“Pilot?” Angel frowned.
“This is the crew of Serenity,” Spike informed him as he turned to Angel with his arm still around River.
“Hmm,” Angel went to the door. “I need dinner brought in for eight.”
“On it,” a female voice called back.
River looked at the darker man in thought. He was murky browns and deep purples – secrets and pride – though bits of hopeful blue shone through.
“That’s not necessary,” Mal said.
“Yes, it is, mate,” Spike released his hold on River and immediately she felt the crews’ minds pushing in, though again not Angel’s or Spike’s. “From your reactions this isn’t the first time River has thrown a full-grown man ‘cross the room.”
The crew looked uncomfortable, three of them examining the exits.
“She’s just good at physics,” Simon announced. “She can calculate force needed for optimum hits.”
“Good at physics…?” Angel frowned, this was by far the worst excuse he’d ever heard.
“I am a genius,” River shrugged. “And this is not the first time I have done something they cannot explain.”
“What have you done, love?” Spike asked from where he was filling a glass with red liquid. The metallic smell disturbed River.
“She took on a bunch of Reavers,” Kaylee told them softly.
“Figures there aren’t many demons, but a Slayer just has to find the darkest part of this time,” he smirked, impressed. ~Young women fighting humans with disfigured faces; tiny, ugly fishlike creatures; large, scaly, yellow-eyed creatures. ~
“How long ago was that?” Angel asked as he dropped into a seat.
“Little more than nine months,” Zoe said, her hand securely on her gun.
Spike frowned, “you the lot that uncovered Miranda?”
“And if we are?” Mal asked.
“Perhaps we should all sit,” Angel gestured to the chairs. “This is going to take some time.” He eyed Mal, “you’re safe.” ~Mal bleeding from the eyes. ~
“What is going to take time?” Simon eased into a couch with Kaylee.
“Hashing this all out, mate,” Spike ran a hand through his hair. He paced behind Angel’s chair. “Where should we start?”
“With River,” Angel leaned forward looking at the girl who had taken the chair between him and where Jayne was standing.
“I’m nineteen, a child prodigy. I was born on Osiris, high society parents. I was a ballerina. By fourteen I had accomplished things my twenty-two year old brother hadn’t. So I was offered acceptance to the elite Academy,” she sighed. “But it wasn’t what they advertised. They were looking for something. They started experimenting, training assassins. Puppies to be leashed and controlled.”
“You were too willful weren’t you, love?” Spike guessed.
“They dug into my brain,” she continued, “pulled out natural walls that kept my physic ability from driving me mad. Then they bombarded me with everything. I spent unaccountable amounts of time in my own head. Simon saved me from the Academy, took me to Serenity. Mal let us stay. I was so confused,” she glanced up at Jayne, “dangerous. Then I led them to Miranda. And things cleared up in my head. I got better. Still psychic, still brilliant, still a little off-balance, but I am better.”
“Do you feel something?” Angel asked. “It sometimes sets you off. Like a shadow inside.”
“Yes,” she cocked her head, “I noticed it before they started experimenting.”
Spike cursed in a language none of them recognized.
“We’re sorry,” Angel said, black and murky greens swirling around him, “we had a feeling some fragments of the Council and their old teachings still existed but we never thought they’d take it that far.”
“The Council?” Simon asked. ~Tweed, glasses, old books, libraries, a man in his early thirties wielding an axe. ~
“On Earth-that-Was, there were demons. A group of men got together and created a warrior. A teenage girl imbued with the essence of the very demons she was created to fight. They were called the Council, she was called the Slayer. The first Slayer lived for thousands of years; when she died they found the power had been passed on. For a few millennia one died and another was Called.
“Then there was a Slayer who changed the rules. She died, and was resuscitated. She tipped the Power. Fought off a few apocalypses. She died again and was brought back. A great evil was given a chance to live. To defeat this evil the Slayer had a witch activate all those who could be Slayers.”
“Demons? Witches?” Mal frowned at the man, “that’s all old fairy tales.”
“No it’s not,” Spike drained his glass. He turned towards the crew his face shifting into a hideous visage with bright yellow eyes, a protruding brow ridge, and elongated canine teeth sharp enough to break skin.
“Ahh!” Kaylee squeaked edging backwards into the couch.
River stood and walked straight up to Spike. She pushed on his brow and traced the ridges on his face. She ran a finger over his teeth. All while watching his eyes.
“What large teeth you have grandma,” River sing-songed.
“All the better to eat you with,” he replied quickly twisting her around and burying his face in her neck.
The genius twisted and shrieked.
“Spike…” Angel’s voice cut in, “you might want to let her go before I have to dig bullets out of you again.”
He looked up at the crew with blue eyes. “Kill joys.” He released River who spun away.
“You slobbered on me,” she rubbed at her neck in annoyance. Mal and Zoe’s guns inched back into their holsters.
“So what are you?” Kaylee asked.
“Vampires,” Angel supplied letting his face shift quickly back and forth.
“Dead men who suck blood from the livin’?” Jayne frowned.
“Ain’t they evil?”
“Yep,” Spike smiled, eyeing Kaylee and licking his lips.
“They have souls,” River said. “They aren’t evil. Old and dusty and as ashes, but not evil.”
The blue-eyed vampire pouted, “I hate seers.”
“Wait,” Mal stood, “this doesn’t make sense. That would make you over five hundred years old.”
“Peaches is 776,” Spike informed them as he refilled his glass. “He was twenty-six when he was turned. I am 639, I was twenty-eight.”
“You’re both crazy,” Simon declared.
“Been there,” Spike admitted. “Soul is the damnedest thing to come to terms with.”
“Mine was post-Hell dimension,” Angel shrugged.
“This isn’t a joke!” Mal snapped. “Did you request us to git to River?”
Spike and Angel shook their heads. “No,” the dark haired one denied, “we always knew we’d meet the Slayer, but we didn’t manipulate the circumstances.”
“My sister isn’t this slayer,” Simon cut in.
“Denial won’t get you anywhere, mate,” Spike told him. “She is what she is and turning a blind eye will only make her vulnerable.”
“How did you know?” the mechanic asked.
“Demon’s natural enemy is the Slayer. Tends to make one stand up and take notice.”
“Feels like ice water on my neck,” River admitted.
“That’s how she recognizes vampires and others who wear human faces.”
“If there aren’t more demons,” Zoe said slowly, “what good is a Slayer? And what about those that came before her?”
“That’s the thing,” Angel leaned forward. “There hasn’t been a Slayer in four hundred and forty-three years.”
“I thought when one died a new one was activated,” Simon frowned.
“You said you’d been waiting a long time to see River,” Kaylee chimed in.
River sat back in her chair. The door filled with the sound of a trolley. In rolled a food-filled cart. A red-head rolled it in, she was dressed in black pants and a green top.
“I have eight meals for you all,” she smiled at the crew.
“Thank you, Sara,” Angel stood and helped her to load the coffee table with food.
“What can I get everyone to drink?” Sara asked. “We have water, tea, beer, wine, lemonade, and the hard liquor at the wet bar.”
River waved the girl over and whispered something in her ear. Sara smiled widely and headed out the door.
“Eat,” Spike started opening containers. “I can’t bloody imagine living on protein is healthy for anyone much less a Slayer.”
“What about–” Simon started.
“Eat,” Angel said, “we’ll explain while you eat.”
“Might be able to tell the tale without getting interrupted,” Spike groused.
Sara entered again with a large tray. She balanced it while she dropped beers in front of Mal, Zoe, and Jayne, a glass of red wine for Inara, and two pitchers of pink liquid on opposite sides of the coffee table.
“The one near you, Miss Frye, is strawberry daiquiri,” she gestured, “and next to Miss River is strawberry lemonade.”
Kaylee’s eyes went wide and round, “strawberries?”
“A delicacy in the Black,” River explained, at Spike’s raised eyebrow. “Kaylee could live off strawberries and sex.”
Spike grinned, “I could too… without the strawberries,” he winked at the embarrassed young woman.
River looked up at Jayne who still hovered near her. “You’re starting to feel prickly.” She shifted, “it’s uncomfortable.”
He gazed down at her. “Why do I care?”
“I’m going to be sick if you don’t stop,” she told him, “and this food looks edible.”
Jayne continued to watch her. Then he finally dropped into the seat. He grabbed a fork and started in on the chicken fettuccini.
“What abilities does a Slayer have?” River asked before cutting into her chicken parmesan.
“Enhanced strength, speed, hearing, vision,” Angel listed, “She’s hard to injury, quick to heal, flexible and responds in incredible time. Also dreams, some got dreams.”
“We’ve seen Slayers,” Spike told them solemnly. “We’ve fought with and against them, trained an entire generation. Hell we loved one and I’ve killed a couple.”
“And we’ve been waiting a long time for the next Slayer,” Angel finished. “I never thought your Calling would be so violent, but it’s hardly a surprise.”
“Four hundred and ninety-eight years ago, Dru, a vampire and a seer, announced a prophecy that it would take us another fifty years to understand.
When the Line ends
The Light will fade
Seal her ashes in crystal
Create a new Order
In the sixth month
The year twenty-five hundred
Release her by way of Delida
Her rebirth shall separate the lines
The fifth sign is the Key
A new Legacy.”
“You’ve left out part of the Slayer story,” Angel reminded him.
“Right,” Spike perched on the edge of the chair. “Long before the Earth was ruled by humans, there were demons. Not Halflings like us, full-blooded demons who poisoned the Earth. Between the veils of time, dimension, and reality was a power. The power was too dangerous to leave as the time of man came. So a group of demons extracted it and placed it in the hands of monks. This power between things became known as the Key.
“The Key was protected for unknown ages until a hell bitch went looking for it. She killed the monks, but not before they could send it to the Slayer, in a form they knew she would protect it in. The Slayer suddenly had a full-grown teenage sister, for which there were memories and photos and a room in her mother’s home. It took her months to sort it out. And she protected it, that’s how that Slayer died the second time.
“As the years passed, after all Slayers were activated, no new Slayers or even potentials were born. As the Slayers died off, some by age others by duty, the Key too aged. When the last Slayer died so did the Key. We still don’t understand how it happened, but best we can figure… the bloody monks linked the life-force of the Key to the Slayer linage.”
“The way of Delida referred to a spell of rebirth,” Angel picked up. “So we did as the prophecy suggested. We gave a group of believers a crystal orb, they were to perform the ceremony.”
“The sixth month,” Simon said, “that’s a month from now.”
“No,” Spike shook his head, “it’s two months ago. The conversion calendar used three hundred years ago distorted things slightly in comparison to Earth-that-Was.”
“What was the spell meant to do?” Kaylee asked.
“We don’t know,” he admitted. “River was already a Slayer before the spell so it likely refers to the Key.”
“Did anything odd happen two months ago?” Angel prompted, “Anything?”
Mal shook his head.
“Peaches…” Spike gestured to River, “take a deep breath and think.”
Angel frowned at his counterpart but did as he suggested. He concentrated on River’s scent. Feminine, clean, metallic pieces of a ship, charcoal, pencil shavings, leather, some hint of the behemoth next to her, and…
“Bloody hell,” Spike rolled his eyes, “all of that and all you get is ‘oh?’”
“What?” Inara asked.
“Your pilot is preggers,” he replied. Off their reactions he continued, “but you already knew that…”
“Found out five days ago,” Mal nodded. “How did you…?”
Angel pointed to his nose, “we can smell it.”
“Must have been a real shock,” Spike touched River’s shoulder.
“Why?” Zoe asked, her sharp eyes focused on the hand on River.
“Being pregnant while still a virgin,” he grinned, “no fun for all the work…”
Jayne frowned, “ain’t there a problem with the genes thing?”
“Yeah, well, magic tends to be a bit picky and fickle,” he gave a sad smile, “and ironic in filling in details.” He looked up at them, “the Slayer thought the Key was genetically her sister. It turned out that genetically the Key was her daughter. And I was the Key’s father.”
“Spike,” Angel sighed, “shut up before the doctor has a coronary.”
Simon’s face was pinched, “so the baby’s genetic material could be from anyone?”
“No,” the dark haired vampire glared at his young counter-part. “It would be someone close to River, someone who would protect the baby as well. Likely someone she already had, or soon formed, a connection with.”
Inara’s eyebrows furrowed and she exchanged a look with Zoe.
“You two have an idea,” Spike’s narrowed eyes pinned them both.
“From description alone,” River said over her glass of lemonade, “they likely believe it to be Jayne…”
Simon and Mal made choking noises. Jayne swore, “ya better hope you’re wrong, ‘cuz I don’t want no kid.”
“Do not assume I am any more thrilled at the prospect,” she snapped. His sudden emotions made her stomach roll. She stood and walked quickly to the bathroom.
Spike flinched, “I do not miss that.”
“Morning sickness?” Zoe asked.
“Nah, moody, pregnant Slayers. I’d rather take on a clan of Fyarl demons,” he set down his glass. He held his fist out to Angel. They pumped three times. Spike lost.
“She’s already thrown me,” Angel told him, “if she’s mad she can take it out on your ass.”
“Bloody hilarious, mate,” Spike groused. He stalked to the bathroom and opened the door. “Ah hell,” he looked back at the group, “she pulled a runner.”
“Out the window?” he guessed.
“She what?” Simon stood.
“Don’t worry,” Angel stalled him, “Spike will track her.”
“You have more questions,” Spike nodded, “you stay and learn what you need to know.”
“Why should we trust you?” Mal looked straight at Angel.
“Because we haven’t snapped your necks and drunk deeply,” he stared back. “Spike will find her quicker than your mercenary.”
“SARA!” Spike yelled.
The redhead appeared in the door, “yes?”
“I’ve got to chase down that girl,” he told her, “you’re coming with.”
“Because a vampire’s mind can’t be read,” Angel told her. “The last thing we need is for the Slayer to take over and kill…” he gazed back at Spike, “why should she go?”
“Shut up,” the blue eyed vampire sneered. He ushered Sara out the door. Spike sped downstairs and out of the pub. He stood at the back of the building for a few moments picking River’s scent from the crowd. It took him nearly a minute to identify it. Then he was off at half-speed.
The vampire slowed when he realized where the girl had gone. He stopped at the gates at Sara caught up with him. Hearing him chuckle she asked, “what?”
“Only a Slayer would run away from a conversation and straight to a cemetery.” He walked in, following her scent.
When he found her sitting on a tombstone he motioned for Sara to stop. He stared at her back waiting to see what she’d do.
“I know you’re there,” River sighed.
“Glad to know that sense works,” he smiled, “won’t do you much good most places, though.”
She tilted her head without looking back at him. “Are there any demons still around?”
“Yeah, sure,” he shrugged, “a few are watered-down versions of friendly breeds of Earth-that-Was. Some are dimensional travelers who like to play tricks on humans. Some are friendly, you’d think they’re only in costume and make up.”
“Why can’t I read your mind?” she asked as he approached her.
“Don’t rightly know, love; something about the brain bein’ dead and synapses.”
“But I can feel you,” she frowned, “your soul, more acutely than I can feel hers,” she gestured to Sara.
“Feelings got nothing to do with brains,” he smiled as he stood before her. “And my demon tends to make the soul a little unusual.” He cocked his head, “does it bug ya?”
“No,” she frowned, “when you hugged me before… not being able to read your mind makes your emotions less tactile. When you hugged me it was like a solid box, nothing could get through….”
“I’m guessing with seven people on a boat it tends to get very loud,” he tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “First bit of quiet in a long while?”
“No,” she stared at her hands, “Jayne makes things go soft, like listening through a thick, soft blanket.”
“The one everyone thinks is the sprog’s father?” he guessed.
She looked away from his as she answered bitterly, “yes.”
“Don’t think he meant it,” he tried half-heartedly.
River surged to her feet and started pacing. “Who would want a damaged woman? One who can knock him down and may one day lose her grip on reality and try to kill everyone she’s supposed to protect. Didn’t want her when she was damaged. Didn’t want her when she was better. Why would he want her just because she may be having his child?”
She stopped, crossing her arms and glaring at Spike, “he prefers whores anyway.”
Spike studied her for a long moment. “Everyone is a little damaged,” Sara said from her spot. “He’s a mercenary. So I’d think that goes doubly for him.”
River fixed her eyes on the redhead. She couldn’t be but a few years older than River herself. “He helped,” the genius said, “he made it quiet enough to sleep… but then when he said… it was like fire and ice and acid and I was being smothered.”
“That why you ran?” Sara stepped closer. “Do you have feelings for him?”
She shook her head. “Jayne is mean and crude and hurtful…”
“And someone you obviously care for,” she replied. “Like Spike and Angel.”
“What are you on about?” Spike growled.
“They’re all piss and vinegar to each other but they haven’t let the other get killed in more than four hundred years.” She smiled, “that’s got to count for something.”
“We had a partnership,” she shrugged, “but since I cannot spar it is dissolved.”
“Can’t spar?” Spike frowned, “why not?”
River pointed to her stomach. The vampire laughed, “That’s no reason not to spar. In fact it’s a bloody good reason to spar.”
She tilted her head at him. “But isn’t it dangerous?”
“Slayers have their own pregnancy remedies,” he assured her. “Sparring, sex, and other physical activities…”
“Way he tells it,” Sara added with a smile, “one Slayer averted an apocalypse and gave birth in the same week.”
Spike rolled his eyes, “Rona, chit never could sit down…”
River wrung her hands.
“That is a sign of inactivity,” he looked pointedly at her hands. “Come back to the pub and we’ll spar, yeah?”
~A hundred young women came and went, their fists flying, legs knocking him down.~
She narrowed her eyes, “how many girls did you train?”
“Many,” he summed up. “C’mon, pet, as long as you don’t have any wood, you can’t hurt me.”
“Just his pride,” Sara mumbled. Spike sent her a half-hearted glare.