DISCLAIMER: Due to the slightly off chance that Joss or a legal suit type person may read this and in their anger, sue, I will say that this little piece of work is for fun. The characters contained below belong to Joss, ME production, and others that I don't know. The Chinese from this story is taken from the book, Finding Serenity.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a repost of the story, O,Zhe Zhen Shi Ge Kuai Le De Jin-Zhan, from IKOLY. It is re-edited and the ending has been altered. Heart felt to thanks to the following: Didge, Valyssia, Dennis, Jay, and Thumper. They all contributed in some way and the story would have sucked lots without them. Read and enjoy. Feedback: Good, bad, whatever...I like...so leave it on here or email if you feel the urge.
FEEDBACK: To whedonistic.tendencies[at]gmail.com
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Happy Development
By Whedonist


Chapter 14 – Rescue Who?

Xander and Mal watched as a golf cart drove up and stopped in front of the building they were idling by. A hurried looking man in a white dress shirt, black tie and khaki pants hopped out of the cart and walked in to where Willow and Buffy were sitting.

Willow stood and smiled when the person she assumed was here to see them came rushing through the door. He walked up to the witch and extended his hand. "Hi, I'm Henry Shadric."

Willow pumped the man's hand and returned the greeting, "Hi, Dr. Rosenbaum this is my assistant Beth Sommer."

He nodded to Buffy. "Nice to meet you. I'm sorry about keeping you guys here, but when I saw that the order was being picked up I needed to come see you two. If you don't mind, come with me please." He turned and walked out of the door expecting the two young women to follow.

Willow and Buffy traded glances and shrugged. Whatever was going to happen, they would find a way out of it. Willow opened up a telepathic link between her, Buffy and Xander.

"Xand, I'm not sure what's going on, but you guys need to bolt as soon as we drive away."

"I'm not leaving you and Buffy behind." Xander's voice rang through both girls' heads.

"Xander, we aren't giving you the choice. They need that wiring and if we can provide some type of distraction, then get moving. Will and I will be okay," Buffy's tone was firm, even in Xander's head.

He watched as his friends followed Tie Man to the golf cart and climbed aboard. Buffy shot him a look over her shoulder that he read loud and clear. It was the patented "I'm the Slayer so you just do what I say look"

He rolled his eye and thought, "Fine, but I'm coming back if I don't here anything from you in a half hour."

"Just go Xand." Willow closed the connection off and watched as the storage facilities flew buy.

Henry parked the golf cart next to a long row of carts outside the main offices. He motioned for the girl's to follow him and he set a quick pace to a set of key carded doors. Swiping his badge over a panel next to the right door it slid open and he ushered the girls inside a large office building. Everything was a sterile white and the shoes Buffy and Willow wore clicked as they tried to keep up with the man leading them to who knew where. He quickly mumbled a greeting to a security guard stationed to the left of a set of elevators. As the cab doors opened, he let the two women go first then stepped inside right before they slid closed.

Willow marveled at the sterility of the place, it was like walking into some space age hospital. All burnished steel and white. The only thing missing from the place was the nice, disgusting, antiseptic smell that she associated with every medical facility she had ever been in. The witch took a look at the man next to her, he was definitely high strung, but other than that she couldn't seem to get a proper read off of him. Her nervousness increased ten fold by his silence.

The elevator finally stopped at the 7th floor. Buffy and Willow followed Henry down the hall and stopped when they saw the door they were going into. The plate next to it read: NSA, DOD, NASA Research Division.

Xander pulled away from the building as soon as the cart rounded the corner. He cast a glance over at Mal and saw the worried expression. "It's okay. Will and Buffy have gotten out of tougher spots than this."

"When we goin' for some rescuing?" Mal licked his lips and set his jaw looking over to where his new friends disappeared to.

"I wouldn't do that just yet. I gave them a half hour. If we don't hear anything, then we can do all the rescuing and the guns a'blazin' bit needed." Xander smiled to himself and asked, "Do you guys do the guns a'blazin' bit?"

"I don't know if that's what you would call it, but on occasion we do aim to misbehave. 'Course, I'm not sure we've ever done something like this before. The closest we came was a job we pulled on a Core Planet's hospital. Had to learn all this medical speak. Made the head hurt."

Xander snorted, "Kind of like when Willow gets talking about her computers."

"Or when Kaylee starts talkin' about engine bits. Girl's a damn genius when it comes to mechanical whoseawhatzitz, but I swear by the hair on my chinny chin chin, she don't know when to quiet down." The captain let a small smile tug the corner of his mouth up. He sure did love when Kaylee rambled on some. Made him all fuzzy inside.

"So, is it just a girl thing then or do you think perhaps it's the mark of a genius brain at work?" the ex-glorified brick layer joked.

"'Tween you and me, I'm thinkin' it might be a girl thing, but if THEY ever ask, we're gonna stick with the genius story."

They laughed a little together, easing some of the tension and made their way to pick up Jayne and Zoë. They had thought it would be easier to drop them off at a small shopping plaza right next to the facility. Mal kept the smirk from his face as he hopped out of the cab and walked over to where his two crew members were sitting.

Zoë looked up as the two men approached, saying, "We're missing two people."

"Seems to be the case, Zoë. Xander said we wait. So, we're going to wait."

"What the hell did the two girls get themselves into? And, should grenades have been brought?" Jayne interrupted.

Mal just shook his head. "No, grenades are not necessary, not this time at least. I'm thinkin' we should come up with some sort of plan though."

Xander sidled up next to Mal and sat back listening to the three concoct a feasible rescue operation.

"How about we just run the damn gates over and take the place by force? Always did love a good raid. Get quality violence like that." Jayne smiled wistfully.

Faith jumped when her pocket started vibrating then remembered that she had her cell. She looked at the caller ID and saw Xander's name. "Yo'"

"Who are you Tony Soprano?" Xander snickered.

"I'm hotter than him and besides X, I know for damn sure I got better moves. What gives? Are you guys coming back this way?" Faith looked over and nodded to the questions being asked by River and Inara.

"Well…Will and Buff got tied up, figuratively not literally, and so the rest of us are cooking up some type of rescue plan. I need you to make sure that everyone's stuff is gathered and we are all checked out and ready to boogie. I'm not real sure, but I think we need to make like a tree and leave when we get Buffy and Willow back."

"I can do that. You need back up?"

"No, but once you get everything square at the hotel, grab a cab and meet us at the rendezvous point we set up."

"Five by five X. We'll see you soon." Faith disconnected and turned her attention to her two friends. "So, it seems like we've got a small problem. X and Mal made it out of Lockheed Martin, but Will and B got held up. Come on, I'll fill you in on the way over." Faith looked at the bill and threw the money needed to cover the tab and tip down on the table. She drained her coffee and headed for the door, a worried companion and pilot at her heels.

Buffy gapped at the size of the room they were in. It was set up like a huge lab and from everything she could see there were at least a dozen work stations set up. Remembering the Initiative, a shiver ran up her spine and she thanked the gods that as far as she could tell no one seemed interested in running experiments on animals, humans, or demons. Computer monitors were everywhere with men and women, equally stressed looking, scattered through out the room. She followed Willow who was following Henry to a set of glass doors towards the back of the room. Her slayer senses were on alert, but everything here seemed on the up and up. Trying to force herself to relax, she walked into what looked like a design room.

"Why don't you two take a seat?" Henry motioned to two chairs situated in front of a bank of computers. "I know this is a bit un-orthodox, but you NASA guys, er, huh, people never come visit us that often and to actually have two of you here could make this job a whole lot easier." Henry rambled on as he continued to pull up design schematics. "Now, I know that you may not know exactly what's going on, but I assumed that you were here to pick up wiring for the SR-72. As you know, we've been working on improving the overall design for the test launch scheduled in Fall of 08."

He sucked in a breath and continued, "Now, I know it seems a long way off, but the plans your team sent over just didn't add up. The frame material is going to be too unstable. Who exactly do you have for engineers over there anyhow?" He smiled jokingly at the girls.

Willow suppressed the shock and relief after listening to the man ramble on and then took a long solid look at the designs now in front of her. "Not really sure, but sometimes the boys stay up too late and well, this happens. Of course, it could also be those pesky grad students." She waved a hand at the screen. "What exactly can I do for you?" She glanced at Buffy who was giving her a strange look.

"Well, I was hoping for some input really. I don't mean to keep you too long, but if you could just help me look over some of these calculations and maybe if we put our heads together, we can come up with a workable solution." He smiled hopefully.

"Oh." Willow shook her head. "Help, you want help? Yeah, sure, no problem. Beth, why don't you call our delivery boys and tell them we'll be along shortly. I'm sure they got a bit worried." She patted Buffy on the shoulder and motioned to the phone sitting on the desk. "Also, see if they can gather the rest of our team?"

"What ever you say, Doc."

Xander snapped his phone closed. "Okay, so do you want the good news or the bad news?"

"Spit it out, Cyclops," said Jayne.

"That was the Buffster. They are ok and not in trouble…yet." Xander waited a beat and continued, "It seems that the Tie Man, whose name is Henry, wanted some input from Dr. Rosenbaum about some design troubles they are having with a NASA project. Willow is currently trying to bluff her way out of the situation."

"Hell, boy that's good news," said Mal, relieved.

"It is and it isn't. If Will doesn't get the answers to his questions right, we may have to go get them anyhow. If she does, then hopefully it will be smooth sailing and we meet them at the rendezvous point."

"So, when will we know?" Zoë asked.

"Buff was kinda vague on the detail."

"Waitin' here isn't helping any. Let's meet up with River, Inara and Faith that way we can all be a big happy family. Ya know, promote the paranoia and worry together." Mal finalized the plans with nod of his head.

Xander pulled away from the shopping center they were in with a worried glance in his rearview mirror. Sending a small prayer to both Tara and Anya to watch out for his oldest friends he made his way to meet the rest of the group.

It had taken three hours. Three hours that Buffy sat in the chair and watched Willow run calculation after calculation with the tie guy. She watched as they argued back and forth about how to determine G-force or heat capacity or well, stuff that was way over Buffy's head. So she sat back and played the part of the dutiful secretary. When Willow asked for coffee or water, Henry had given her his pass key and she went to fetch it. They had seemed to come to an agreement on something and Buffy was really hoping that they were finished. She was still nervous as all hell and she wanted to get back to New Mexico.

The blonde did smile as Willow looked over and winked at her. The action caused Buffy to get her mind off her nerves and remember last night and her love for the girl, no the woman, who was keeping up with a guy she thought had to be one of the smartest on the planet. Then again Buffy mused, in all the time she and Willow spent together she seemed to forget that Willow had been The Girl Genius, but with the slaying activities and then the witchy stuff, Buffy seemed to lose sight of that little fact. She made a note to get Willow to finish the degree or a degree in something other than her current classes in the Bad Ass Witch Doctorate Program. She wanted Willow to do something besides be her big gun.

Time dragged and finally after another hour of watching the equivalent of an intellectual tennis match, Willow declared that she was finished. Henry drove them out to the van and couldn't quit thanking Willow for her help. The man had even gone so far as to give Willow his email and cell number so that the next time she was in town they could get together. Buffy had to curb the urge to knock him senseless and just smiled at his polite departure. Halfway to the rendezvous point, the girls broke down in to a fit of laughter. The absurdity of the situation they had just escaped from too much to not cackle over.


Chapter 15 –Houzi Pigu

Dust billowed from behind the small hill that hid Slayer Central, New Mexico, Kaylee and Simon had been waiting outside for an hour for the rest of their family to get home. Now, in the post dusk hours, she saw the van crest the hill closely followed by the giant truck that hopefully held their way home. The two days that her family had been gone had been uneventful at best for the young mechanic. She had filled her time talking to Carrie about Serenity, life in the Black and slaying. The Scottish slayer seemed to only have two areas of conversation: Slaying and Not Slaying, but the pink haired teen had proven a good companion which Kaylee was grateful for. She cast a small smile towards Simon as the van pulled to a stop in front of them.

River was the first out and into her sister-in-laws arms. Before Simon brought his sister in for a hug, he held her back and did a once over assessing her health. Appearing no worse for the journey, he quickly folded her into an embrace and kissed the top of her head. The remaining crew followed suit and Simon stood amazed that not one person came back with a bullet hole, knife wound or broken something for him to tend to. He sent a small prayer of thanks to God and followed his un-naturally bouncy sister in to the house.

Kaylee had taken her turn looking over Mal, Zoë and Jayne, but when she got to Inara it was only a look that passed between the two and the mechanic grabbed her friend's hand and led her away from the rest of the group. Inara's smile said everything and the companion was able to relay what happened during the two days away. Inara indulged the mechanic in the basic details and couldn't help the warmth that settled over her.

The two were interrupted by a loud cough from behind. "I don't mean to interrupt the warm fuzzy reunion little Kaylee, but we've got work to do." Mal smiled and steered his mechanic away from Inara. "We don't need that one fillin' yer head with stories."

Kaylee slapped Mal on the arm, glared and kissed him on the cheek. "It's about time," was all she said, then bounced off to go see the rest of the group.

The captain turned to Inara. "So..." He shuffled his feet as Inara took the offered hand. "I, uh, well, I was hopin' we could get an alteration on the sleepin' arrangements if it seems okay with you?"

"I think we can work something out. If it's okay with you too, that is?" Inara looked up and met his gaze. Mal, did last night really happen?"

"It really did," was all he offered as he led her into the house.

Everyone had situated themselves around the dining room table when the two joined up.

"…I'm not sure that's the best option. Sure Kaylee can fix the wiring and now that we have that, the real question is how are we going to get back home?" Zoë's gaze swept over the group.

"Guys," Buffy's voice was drowned out by the din of people arguing about the next step in the plan. "Hey!" the blonde waited a beat to get everyone's attention after her outburst. "Listen we all know the problems coming up, but let's focus on the problem right now. Kaylee, let's see if we can get Serenity up and running first. We'll work on the whole time travel headachey mess after. One bridge at a time, okay?"

"Besides," Willow offered her support, "We need some serious time for research. I know a lot of you are unfamiliar with how we do things, but it's best this way. I've got Giles sending me a few books and another three on order that might be able to help."

"So you have some idea about getting us back?" Mal questioned.

"There are some theories regarding time travel, special relativity theory along with time dilation. I've been thinking about it yes, but using pure science, I'm not sure if we can. What I've been thinking about is using some physics and magick. Like I said, research. There's lots to consider."

River's head snapped up at Willow's answer. "You're thinking of using Lorentz's theories?"

Willow turned to the girl surprised. "Some, not all. You do know it's all theoretical and hasn't actually been proven?"

"Sort of, but it has been to an extent in our time. It's part of how we travel. Not as severe, but the engineering behind Serenity's engine is based on a few basic theories surrounding Lorentz and Einstein."

The witched perked up and thought there might be a chance after all. "Kaylee, do you have any material on the workings of the ship that I can read over?"

"I'm sure I can find some stuff. Not quite sure what you'd be looking for."

"Tomorrow maybe you, River and I can start looking?" the redhead offered.

"Shiny with me, River?" Kaylee smiled when River nodded enthusiastically.

Buffy sent a grateful smile to the redhead, "We are all agreed then. Kaylee will start on the ship first, while Willow figures out how to bend time and space?" Nods and murmurs of consent were given throughout the group. "Alright then, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm still tired and that drive did nothing for me. Can we start on Serenity tomorrow?"

"Sure. Wasn't gonna do much anyhow. Though it would be kinda nice to get the wiring off the rig so we can start fresh in the morning." Kaylee settled back in to her chair.

"Jayne, Xander, can you guys handle that?" Mal looked at the two men and waited.

Xander got up and waited on Jayne. "Come on Animal, let's go do the lady's bidding."

"Animal? Who you callin' an animal you ben tian sheng de yi dui rou," mumbled Jayne on his way out the door.

"Huh?" Xander followed him confused. "You do know the insult's lost if you can't understand right?"

Willow and Buffy exchanged glances as the rest of the table, who understood Jayne, snickered. Shrugging it off, they let the meeting break up.

Willow and Buffy headed to their room after grabbing a quick snack in the kitchen. The witch had been expecting Buffy to be ready for some serious napping after last nights revelations and today's escapade, but instead she watched the blonde practically bounce into their room and start pulling out what looked like her favorite slaying outfit.

"Uh, weren't we going to bed?" Willow asked confused from her spot on the bed.

"Was. Now I'm not so tired. I was thinking I could talk you into a quick shower then maybe we could go for a light patrol followed by some dancing?" Buffy's face was hopeful as she began to disrobe and wait on her lover's response. The blonde moved over and took Willow in her arms, "Please say yes. Slaying's no fun with out good conversation. Vampire's suck at current events."

"Buff, if you haven't noticed, you me and everyone else are kinda in B.F.E. Where were you planning on scaring up some vamps?"

"Well we could drive into town, it's not that far and I noticed a bar that might be worthy of our presence."

Willow raised her eyebrow, "Were you planning this?"

Buffy blushed, "I, I, crap. Maybe. Yeah okay so I disbanded the meeting a little early, but it's not like we were getting anywhere anyhow. I figured you and I could I dunno do a datey type night. If you're not too tired."

Willow appeared to think for a minute and just as the pout began to form on her new lover's lips, she smiled, "Is this just general cabin type stuff or are you really wanting to dance and hang?"

"Hmm, some exercise would be good, but the dancing and hanging was the major plany part of the plan."

Willow removed herself from Buffy's arms and went to her bag by the desk. She removed her laptop and booted the machine up. Turning to Buffy she grinned, "How about we stay in. I can provide the music and a dance partner." Willow turned back and brought up a few play lists and let the music fill the room.

"And my energy?" Buffy asked curiously.

"Hmm," Willow turned her attention back to the blonde, "I think." She wrapped her hand around Buffy's waist pulling the small blonde to her. "We can find ways to dispel it."

Faith had just rounded the corner to the back of the house when an arm shot out and grabbed her. Getting caught off guard, she pulled away and took a fighting stance.

"Don't shoot." River said jokingly.

"Jesus Riv. Don't do that to a girl. You're liable to get hurt." Faith relaxed and then settled herself in to one of the chairs that lined the back wall. River took her cue and sat down next to the slayer.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to…"

"No worries, Riv. So, what are you doing out here anyhow?"

"Waiting on you."

Faith raised an eyebrow. "You knew I'd be out this way?"


The short answer kept Faith off balance. There were moments in their private time together where the girl would say the oddest thing and then later the comment made sense or when River would say someone was doing something and then a few hours later the person she mentioned was doing whatever it was River had mentioned. The brunette thought that maybe the girl was psychic and the whole thing just added to the mystery that surrounded River Tam.

"You were looking for me Faith. To tell me things. Would you like to now or would you like to ask the questions?" River sat back and drew her legs to her chest resting her chin on her knees.

"I…ya know being at a loss for words isn't something I'm used to?"

"I know. So why don't I make this easy on you. I feel it too. The connection between you and I. That's one thing you can cross off your list. The others are hard to explain. Who I am is easy. I'm River Tam sister of Simon. What I am with the weird insight and occasional veiled comment is different and harder to explain."

"Can you try?"

River nodded and began in a quiet voice, "I was sent away to a school for gifted children. An Alliance funded school that wasn't so much with the education as it was with the experimentation. I was tortured and poked and prodded and a whole lot of other not nice things."

Faith watched the tears swell and fall down the pale cheeks of her friend and she swallowed the lump in her throat to find her voice, "Riv, you don't…"

"I do…you have to know. Just like you feel you have tell me about Alan Finch and the others." River missed the look passing over Faith's face as she continued, "To make a horrible story somewhat shorter. They molded and shaped me to be an assassin. I'm what in my time they call touched, psychic. Things were stripped and eroded and medicated away. I can see things other's can't and know things other's don't." Faith opened her mouth to speak, but was stopped by River's words, "My brother came and rescued me. He threw away a medical career and the world he knew to save me."


"He rescued me and then we found our way on to Serenity. It was bad for awhile. I couldn't…" She met Faith's intense gaze and shrugged. "Think of it as, okay, your emotions you can shut them off, tune them out, or ignore them. I can't. Not only do I have to deal with everything that I feel as soon as it comes, but I also am…you would call it empathic. I also have to filter and sort through what the people surrounding me are feeling. And my filter is broken."

Faith moved and had River in her lap before she had time to process her actions. The need to comfort the girl overrode everything else. She felt the small body shudder under her touch and it caused Faith to hold on tighter. They stayed that way for a few minutes until River was able to get herself under control.

"Wh, what made it better?" Faith asked tucking an errant strand of hair behind River's ear.

"The biggest secret, all those people screaming and no one knowing." River shuddered and continued, "No one knew and everyone was yelling. The blood flowed in rivers drowning cities."

Faith held on a little tighter as River's speech grew more obscure. "Riv, hey, stop okay it's okay I get it. It was bad that's all I needed to know." Faith tilted the girl's face towards her and smoothed the lines on her forehead. "Stop just don't go there okay?"

River stopped and leaned in to the touch. The slayer watched the lines and pain disappear from her friend's features and decided it was time for her to do her own bit of sharing. Bracing herself, Faith started, "I'm gonna say this quickly Riv, my home life sucked until the age of 14 when I was pulled out and met my watcher. She was killed and then I ran until I ended up in Sunnydale…"

"Where you met Buffy and then you met Richard Wilkins. I know Faith you've already shown me."

"Uh?" The shock clear on the slayer's face.

"When I'm around you for a few moments, I see them, all of them. The people that have hurt you and you have hurt. I know about the murders and the attempts to kill yourself. I know about the jail and the things that you had to do there to make sure you didn't hurt anyone."


"I don't know how it works. I just know what I feel and what I see when you are around. I try…I don't ask for it, but it comes anyhow and there I am stuck with knowledge I didn't want."

"Is that why…"

"It's why I know and it's why I kind of lose it sometimes. It used to be worse. I was lost for so long that it's only been getting better the past year or so."

Faith let it all sink in while holding River in her lap. It answered questions about the girl and some of her passing comments that she had made about or to the slayer, but it still was a lot. Here was a girl that knew some of Faith's worst moments and still continued to befriend her. This wasn't like the Scoobies relationship with her; no, this was vastly different.

The silence stretched between the two girls and River had grown tired of the uncomfortable air Faith had surrounded herself with. Rejection loomed in River's mind and it wasn't something she thought she could deal with right now. "I'm gonna go. You need time and I need sleep."

River started to get up when Faith pulled her back, "Don't go. Okay so it's not really what I was expecting and being wicked freaked…well it's kinda old hat around these parts." Faith bit her bottom lip trying to think of the words. "But it doesn't mean I like you any less. Not sure what you and I are, but finding out is something I want. If you do?"

River broke out in to a smile and whispered, "Further up the rabbit hole we go."

Buffy pushed her lover towards her third climax as her fingers moved inside and around Willow's body. Sweat poured from them both, but it only added to the need Buffy felt. Making love to Willow was by far the most intense experience of her short yet very full life. She added a fourth finger to the wet channel of Willow's core and was rewarded by the nails of Willow's left hand raking down the soft skin of her back. Buffy arched into the pleasure the pain of the action had caused.

She thrust down on Willow's own hand buried between her thighs and rolled her hips as her climax neared. The blonde looked down into hooded emerald eyes and couldn't resist the need to lick the sweat from her witch's upper lip. She leaned down and let her tongue snake out to capture the moisture then she turned her attention to expectant lips. Her tongue pushed forward and was met with the mate of her own.

The tempo became fevered as they pushed each other. Willow's thumb moved deftly to the engorged nerve bundle of Buffy's center and she stroked it lightly as her other fingers delved deeper inside the blonde. Her own climax began to crest and Willow did the only thing she could think to get Buffy to cum with her. She moved her mouth to Buffy's neck and sucked at her pulse point, nipping the tender sweat slicked flesh with her teeth she whispered, "Cum for me Buffy." The command did its job and both girls found release almost in time with each other.

Buffy's breath came in short hard gasps as she collapsed on top of Willow. Her body hummed with the after effects of their love making and she latched herself onto Willow's body. She positioned her head on Willow's chest and wrapped her legs around her lover's, reveling in the feel of the way they fit together. Buffy snuggled in deeper as she felt Willow's arms encircle her small form.

They lay that way for a while enjoying the afterglow, neither of them wanting to move. As their skin cooled, Buffy reached down and brought the comforter up to cover their exposed skin; however, she didn't move from her spot on top of the witch which garnered a small chuckle for the redhead.

"What?" Buffy asked innocently.

"Nothing. I just didn't think you were part octopus," Willow joked.

"Ah, it's cuz it's a huge family secret. Can't go telling everyone now can I?"

"Bigger than the slayer gig?" Willow teased, running her fingers through Buffy's hair.

"Way more big. It's a deep dark secret that no one shall speak of. My second great grand something was an octopus. I should warn you though. The traits only express themselves when around gorgeous redheads who happen to be magically inclined."

Willow cocked her head to the side and began to tease, "Well let's see then, that means I need to keep you away from a few of the other girls in the house then."

Buffy shook her head no, "Sorry, no can do. I forgot to mention. Their names have to start and end with W. Otherwise their just no good to me."

A bright smile infected Willow's features and her grin caused the tip of her tongue to poke out between her teeth and lips. "In that case, you're safe."

Willow glanced at the clock on the bedside table and smirked. It didn't appear that sleep would be something they would be doing anytime tonight. She began tracing random patterns over Buffy's back and couldn't help the smug smile that infected her features. "So you still energized?"

Buffy looked down at sweat slicked red hair and planted a firm kiss on the crown of Willow's head, "Uhm, nope, maybe a little buzzed, but that's about it."

"Good. Heya, Buff?"

"Yeah, Wills?"

"Why the need?"

"The need for what?"

"To go out and slay? Aren't you working on a life of semi-retirement?"

Taking Willow's hand, Buffy entwined their finger's and began running her thumb over the soft palm, "I am or was or Giles is forcing me to. I don't know, Will, but this…this urge to fight to go out and kill things; it never goes away. I need it. It sounds crazy ya know. Even in my head, but…" Buffy shook her head unable to find the words.

The seriousness of the slayer's tone threw Willow for a moment. She hadn't been expecting it. "Kinda like magick?"

Buffy nervously shifted around under Willow's body and looked at their hands. "Maybe I don't know what it's like for you. I just know that it's a tension that builds up inside and" She looked down at Willow and noticed the smirk. "Okay, gutter brain not that kind of tension…or maybe. I mean it's just like a little voice that calls to me."

"We call that schizophrenia."

"Then fine, I'm crazy. I'll blame it on Sunnydale. It's why I kinda wanted the break. It's not like I want out of the loop I just want to be less in the loop but still know what's going on. Does that make sense?"

"No not really. You want to kinda retire, but you still wanna beat things up and make with the killing. It kinda sounds like…" Willow thought for a moment and realization came. She mentally smacked herself and tried to clarify for her lover, "You, you of all people want a passive role in the world saveage? Buffy, you'll never learn will you?"

"'Splainy, Wills…I'm not following."

Willow shifted her weight and sat up to meet her lover face to face. "The fact that this thing you're trying to do is total BS and you need to face it."


"Buffy, I love you, you know that right?"

The blonde nodded and grew more anxious.

"That being said, 'cuz it was just said and agreed upon that I do, love you that is, then don't get mad when I say this. Can you promise me that?"

Buffy sat up and folded her arms across her chest and she waited.

"Sweetie." Willow took a lock of Buffy's hair and twirled it between her fingers. "As much as it kills me to say this to you, you can't retire. You may not like it, but just because…just because I changed the slayer line and there are more slayer's out there than there were, you're still the original." She gave the blonde a lopsided smile. "I get that you being a leader isn't something you wanted, but you got it and you have to deal. You taking this passive role will not end in the good way."

"Why not?"

"Because, it's not who you are. Those girls not only look up to you, but they need you. You tried so hard to maintain a normal life and look where that got you, goddess look where it got all of us. We aren't normal Buff. Our lives don't allow for that and if you continue to fight for it you're only going to end up being hurt more. Why is it so hard for you to realize that you don't have to be normal? In fact normal, in my opinion, far overrated."

Buffy fidgeted under her lover's gaze. "I, I'm tired, I guess or maybe it's because normal is something I can finally have."

"Do you really believe that? Would we be here right now if you did? All I'm saying is think about it. I know deep thoughts hurt the Buffy brain, but I have confidence that you will see what I'm talking about. It's like you can't let go of the childhood fantasies." The witch took hold of Buffy's hands and urged the blonde to understand, "We've grown up, Buff and you need to reconcile these fantasies with the reality you live in. Besides, what would be so bad about you and me running the show in Cleveland and then when we hit retirement age we could seriously consider the whole hanging up the stakes thing."

"Because I don't want to die again." The words were out before she had a chance to filter them. She broke away from Willow's touch and folded her arms around her knees. Willing herself not to cry.

"That's what it is? You not wanting to die?" Willow let out a sigh and shook her head.

"If I, if I stay as active as I am or was, I'm going to die again before I can finish out whatever it is I'm supposed to do."

"And what is it that you're supposed to do?"

"I don't know. Not really. It's just a voice that says I need to back off a bit. Not be so killy and to try and focus on Buffy." The blonde buried her face in her hands and mumbled, "So this makes me selfish and wrong and a part of me just really doesn't care."

Willow sent a sad smile over to her lover and decided to take pity on her. She gathered the blonde in her arms and smoothed out her hair. "You need balance baby. What you want and what you are…I'd have thought you would have learned that by now."

"Nope haven't figured that out yet." Buffy sighed.

"We'll work on it. Together." Willow placed a light kiss on the tip of Buffy's nose. The reassuring smile she sent Buffy seemed to calm her a bit, so the witch took the initiative. "Now, I've got some extra energy. Wanna help get rid of it?" She wiggled her eyebrows and then lowered Buffy back on the bed to resume her position straddling Buffy's thighs.


Chapter 16 – Coca Cola

The pop that echoed on the bridge when Willow stretched her neck muscles was the best indicator that she had been sitting looking at the computer or whatever River had called it way too long. Her back ached and she was sure that when she got up there would be a permanent imprint on the seat suspiciously shaped like her butt. Her eyes were dry and burning from the hours spent on Serenity this morning. The witch looked at the two empty coffee cups and the plate that held the crumbs of four doughnuts and decided that it was time for a serious break.

Emerging from the hangar, her eyes protested the bright afternoon sun and she winced at the pain. Willow took her time getting to the back of the house stretching her unused muscles and allowed the feeling to come back to her extremities. As she rounded the corner, she found the person she was looking for. Inara sat back in the grass; her arms stretched behind her holding up her weight. The witch sat down next to her friend and sent an amused glance towards the objects of the other woman's entertainment.

"How long have they been torturing your people?" asked Willow.

"A few hours now. I'm not clear as to why Buffy insisted they train, but, well, look at them." Inara waved a hand at the group before her.

Willow shifted her focus to the 17 girls and 2 men before her. Faith, Buffy, and Tami weaved in and out of 8 pairs of sparring partners. From what could be seen, they had chosen to focus on the quarter staff and the sounds of clacking and grunting filled the afternoon air. She focused on Buffy as the blonde watched Jayne and Carrie go at it. The pink haired slayer swept Jayne's feet from beneath him and then stopped the tip of the staff an inch from hitting his face.

Buffy barked, "Enough!" She helped Jayne to his feet and requested Carrie's staff. "Jayne, you really need to pay attention to her body."

"Gorram it woman!" Jayne brushed some of the debris from his body as he glared at the two slayers before him. "T'ain't right. I know how to fight."

"No, you really don't. You know how to watch a weapon and use brute force to get what you want. That's not fighting that's brawling. Big difference." Buffy took a fighting stance and waited on Jayne to ready himself.

As he picked up his staff, twirling her staff, Buffy said, "You're watching the weapon. Stop." She watched as her words meant absolutely nothing to the man. Smirking, she shifted her weight to her left leg and kicked out with her right connecting with the man's stomach. He barely deflected the follow up blow from the staff as she chided, "You need to pay the most attention to my body." She allowed him a moment to recover and then caught his glare. "Look at what parts of me are moving. The staff is a tool and nothing more. My legs are more dangerous than this." She parried his attack and then reigned down a series of pulled blows most of which he deflected until the last few sent him, once again, to the grass.

The rest of the group had stopped and watched Jayne get his ass handed to him until Buffy turned to face the crowd. "Alright. Is everyone ready for lunch?" The chorus of yes's was mainly from the slayers. Breaking up, Tami offered to make lunch with the help of a few of the slayers present.

Mal, Jayne, Zoë, River, Buffy and Faith all came to sit down by the women lounging in the grass. While Buffy was pretty confident that everyone knew the change of her relationship status, she kept touching to a minimum as she sat down next to her witch.

"So, Willow what have you figured out?" Mal asked, sitting beside Inara.

"Hmm, well, sitting for that long causes the achies; other than that, just a few key points. I need more time." Willow fidgeted with the grass and looked at Buffy.

"We'll figure it out. Promise." Buffy tried for a reassuring smile.

"And if we don't?" Jayne spoke up.

"I…" Willow stopped at a loss for words. This had been going through her mind for some time and unfortunately, she hadn't been able to come up with anything.

"Jayne, we'll handle that if it comes to it." Mal's tone held an edge that caused the other man to back down.

"It's really not that bad. I just don't…you can't just…" The redhead struggled for the words to the ideas her mind had been mulling over. Just as she opened her mouth to clarify her non-sentences, she noticed Xander walking towards the group wearing his worried face. She nudged Buffy with her shoulder and nodded towards their friend.

Buffy looked up asking, "What's up Xand?"

As he reached the group, he said, "Buff, uh Giles called. Seems there are some…Ya know he used all of his British speak and you should probably talk to him. You too, Wills."

"Ok." Buffy stood and offered her hand to Willow. "Let's see what Watcher Prime wants."

Willow took the hand and excused herself and Buffy from the group. They followed Xander to the room he had set up for communications.

Xander established the connection with Cleveland and a moment later, Giles' harried voice came through, "Hello?"

"Giles, it's me. I've got Xand and Wills. What's got your tweed in knots?" Buffy asked.

"Oh, right, hello you three. How is New Mexico? I trust everything went well?"

"Everything's good so far," Willow offered.

"Giles, we're good, everyone's good. What's going on?" The annoyance in Buffy's voice clear.

"Yes, quite right. Xander, shall I continue from the point of being hung up on?" the tone of the watcher's question heavy with sarcasm.

"Sure thing, boss man." Xander wiggled his eyebrows at his two friends.

"First order of business. Xander after you hung up on me, I took the liberty of securing passage back to Cleveland for the three of you. Before any of you interrupt, allow me a moment to explain. It seems we were all a bit too hasty in regards to those demons a few weeks back. Some of the information I have needs a more thorough look at, but I feel that it's enough to warrant being concerned over and bring, for the time being, the three of you back. Willow, I have Kimmie sending the documentation for your travel via e-mail. I trust you will take care of the rest?"

"Sure thing, Giles," agreed Willow.

"Huh?" Buffy asked the shock clear in her features. "You were all with the gung-ho about getting us out here. Time travelers needing to get back, we had a meeting."

"Buffy I assure you that this is taking precedent over them, but I, the demons I feel are tied to our guests' arrival," Giles said.

"Those Coca Cola thingies? We slayed, they stopped trying to end the world. Not seeing the tie in."

"Coca Cola? Buffy, what are you, oh, never mind, yes, that's right the Lekakolo demons."

Buffy smiled as she heard the all too familiar sounds of Giles' handkerchief being brought out. Not being able to help herself, she said, "Giles we should look into getting you contacts. Of course it wouldn't leave you with things to do when you're all frustrated at me."

Sending the slayer a chastising glare, Willow shook her head and asked, "So, we got what's wrong and Buffy's not the only one seeing the connection that's not, Giles."

"It would appear that there seems to be, I had initially thought these demons weren't actually found in this dimension, but then prior to our last session together, I found an account of the ritual they were trying to perform. So, naturally, I had dismissed my earlier musings of them not being from here and went ahead with the second theory of them wanting to end the world."

"Sounds like the norm, G-man." Xander's face reflected deep confusion.

"Well, I was right on both accounts. It seems that they are trying to end the world. It's what this type of demon lives for really. They go from place to place to cause an apocalypse, but I was also right on my account of them not being from this dimension."

"Giles, not seeing the big. You wanna talk in circles more so I can get it. Blonde remember?"

"My word Buffy, you're supposed to gain patience as you get older not lose it," Giles snapped. "What I'm saying is that as I furthered my research, I fear that their appearance here in this dimension is tied to the appearance of our friends from the future."

Willow leaned forward on the table the three of them were seated around and let her mind click the new pieces of the puzzle in. "Giles, you don't think that's why they landed here do you? 'Cuz then that falls under the mystical heading and makes everything more complicated and then you add on the fact that we've killed two of these demons and we've already done so much and do you know how long I've been brushing up on my physics?"

Buffy placed a hand on Willow's arm as her agitation grew and squeezed. "Giles, you broke Willow and I'm still not seeing the problem. So what, they're appearances are tied together? They still need to get back to their own time and it's not like the Coca Loka things are gonna offer us any help."

Willow turned to Buffy seeing where the slayer was going and said, "Sweetie, let's just go back to Cleveland." Turning away from Buffy, the witch faced the phone. "Giles, you're not saying everything. We'll go over everything in detail when we get back."

"Quite right. It would be easiest to do this when everyone is present."

"Giles, fine with the travel arrangements, but what about Faith?" Buffy asked.

"I would like to leave her in New Mexico with our friends for now. She's been with them since they arrived and she seems to get along well enough."

"Alright. Wills, what do we need to do?" Buffy asked, turning to her witch.

"Uhm, let me find out when the flight is for, but going to pack wouldn't be a bad. Giles, we gotta get stuff together. See you in a bit." Willow waited for Giles to say his goodbyes and then disconnected. "Alright, Xand, you wanna let everyone know that we are leaving. Buff, go pack. I'm gonna get together the travel stuff."

Xander nodded and left the two girls alone. Buffy waited until the door shut then turned to Willow. "Is this bad?"

"Uh, no, I don't really know. We'll work it out." She smiled at her lover and then turned back to the laptop she had booted up.

"'Kay. I'm gonna make with the packing. See you in a few." She kissed the top of Willow's head and left the witch to the computer.

"Hmm…morning you," Buffy cooed, as she tried to stretch her limbs while still wrapped around Willow.

"Morning." Willow shot a glance over at her bedside clock and groaned. "Up, we need to get there."

"Will, it's only," Buffy let her eyes follow the same path her lover's had a moment ago and they bulged. "Okay, so it's way late. Right. Up." She rolled off to the right and bounced up from the mattress. Turning back to the bed, she smiled. "We still have time for a shower?" Wiggling her eyebrows got a laugh and a nod from the witch.

"If we hurry. No funny hands lady," Willow warned while following the blonde into the bathroom.

The shower was quick and they made it to the conference room after swinging by the kitchen to grab a quick breakfast. Buffy entered the room balancing three doughnuts and her and Willow's coffee. The redhead was behind her juggling three books and her laptop. Both stopped short inside the door as they took in the sight of the room. The room held an oblong conference table, big enough to seat 12 people along with the space at the front for a flat screen and a projector screen so that Xander could torture everyone with PowerPoint, but today the usually bare table was stacked with books and several laptops, the hum of their fans the only thing audible in the room. Giles was hunched over two texts, Xander was lazily reading one large book with his feet propped up on the table and doughnut in hand, Vi was the only one who looked up to acknowledge their entrance.

"Hi Buffy, Hi Willow." Vi smiled.

"Hi Vi, how goes it?" Buffy asked, setting their breakfast down.

"Uhm, yeah, Giles?" Vi waited a moment for him to respond; when none came, she spoke louder, "MR. GILES?"

"Wh-what, oh, good morning you two." He grinned up at his old charges and sat back from the table. "Glad you finally made it." He looked over his glasses at Buffy and then Willow.

"Hey, we're only…" The blonde looked down at her wrist and noticed the absence of a watch. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're late. It's not a new. What's up with the research?"

"Trying to get a jump on the latest bad or the old bad that's now newer." Xander said, dropping his feet from the table. He shoved the rest of the doughnut in his mouth and let his eyes scan his two friends locking on the doughnuts Buffy sat on the table. "You gonna eat those?"

The slayer shot Xander a glare. "Yes, hands off the sugar."

"Right, not to come between a slayer and her sustenance." Xander backed away from the general area slowly.

Plopping down in a chair, Willow offloaded her things and snagged her coffee. "So researchy goodness early in the morning. Just like I remember. Ya know, there's something to be said for the familiarity of obscure occult texts. It's like hearing an old song that you liked, brings back memories." Willow stopped when she realized everyone was on the verge of laughing. "Fine, business first, mussing later. What have you found out?"

Giles stretched and then removed his glasses before starting in. "Right, first order of business. While you lot were away I did some further digging, what I found led me to a civilization in what would be considered modern day Mongolia. Now, records are of course, sketchy at best, but from what I could gather, this select breed of demons made an appearance some 12,500 year ago. When they appeared, there are accounts of a group of peoples showing up in the same area. The tribes had convened and from what I could dig through, seemed to think that the two were related." Giles had stood during his account of the past few days and replaced his glasses as he continued.

"Now, prior to calling Xander, I had discovered an account that reads more like a creation myth from some of the ancient Inuit tribes. This particular band of peoples migrated south and eventually became the ancestors to the Indians and South American Peoples.

"Ahem…" Willow cleared her throat and glared at Giles.

"What?" Giles looked over his glasses at the redhead.

"Indians? Giles, they are not called Indians anymore. Native American, if you please. They are the indigenous people of this land."

Rolling his eyes, Giles continued, "Pardon me, they became the ancestors to nearly all of the Native American peoples." The watcher raised an eyebrow in Willow's direction.

"As much fun as this little exchange is bringing flashbacks to the small pox having, syphilis infested disaster that was Thanksgiving Day 1999. Can we uh, ya know, continue?" Xander asked.

"As I was saying, these particular band of peoples had been able to record, or as it were pass down, a story of their ancestors. It is told that the group of people that appeared around the same time as our demons were fair skinned, with more than half of their members with white hair and light eyes. It continues to go on with a tail of a curse on their ancestors. Their travel to the new land was marked by the appearance of beasts that decimated the land and neighboring tribes. In order to avoid the death of innocents, the group migrated north across a land bridge, to what I assume to be modern day Alaska.

"The tribe along with another group migrated north then east and settled for a time. Here they were able to set up a village and maintain some order. The elders there would talk of their "home land." Now, during their accounts, the "outsiders" described a place that seemed far too technologically advanced for that time. Warmer climate for instance along with better mobility and they also discussed and showed the people a way to make better weaponry than just spears. This is neatly documented, but again the source of the information was "debunked" due to the improbability that people in that time were not as evolutionarily advanced. Of course, given light to this information…" Giles looked at the bored faces of his family and sighed, "Am I boring you?"

"More like killing us…but same diff." Buffy smirked at her watcher, "So let's play the Buffy's short attention span game: what's the bottom line, before I go back to sleep." The smile she shot to Giles took the sting from her words.

"You really have managed to take the joy out of this you know?" Giles stood from his chair and began pacing. "From what I have gathered, it was fortunate that there are accounts of a slayer being in that area that managed to dispatch the demons. What I would like, Willow, is to see if you can find anything more than I have. Verification that the two appearances were linked by more than the passage I have found." He waited on Willow to nod and then continued, "Now, why we are researching. We need to find out why the two are linked and if they are linked how we can send them back, both of them."

Part 17

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