Since I Found Serenity

Note: This is a Buffy/Firefly cross-over. I am assuming you will not be reading unless you know both worlds. We are post-series for both of them :)

It was night in Rome, and it was late enough that the even the city's resident slayer was sleeping. Buffy Summers had already squeezed in dinner with her sister Dawn, patrol, and an evening at a local night club with her visiting friend Xander. She was in deep, well-earned sleep now, and in no mood to be woken up by the shrill of the telephone.

Buffy buried her head in the pillow and waited. The ringing stopped, then as she exhaled and turned over again, resumed. With a sigh, she reached for the phone and murmured a sleepy hello.

"Hello, Buffy," her former watcher greeted.

"Giles? Is everything...look, you are aware that there is a time difference, and it's, like, 4 in the morning here, right?"

"The time difference between Rome and London is rather immaterial when I am sitting in a coffee shop half a block down the street from you, Buffy."

"Oh." She sat up, instantly alert. "When is it?"

"What?"

"The apocalypse, why else would you be here? When is it?"

He slowly exhaled. "We should meet. Now."

She was already rummaging for clothes. "I am assuming you are at Stazzie's? Can't think of who else would be open this late..."

"How long will you be?" he asked.

"Depends on where we're going afterward."

There was silence for a moment as he thought about arrangements. "I understand Xander is in town?"

"Yes..."

"And Dawn will be all right with him for a few days?"

"Oh, of course."

"Might as well leave straight from here once I've briefed you, then. Pack light and dress practically. How long do you..."

"Half an hour," she said. "Oh, and Giles?"

"Hmmm?"

"You do realize that it's, like, 4 in the morning here?"

When she arrived at the coffee shop, she found her watcher not only waiting, but comfortably ensconced as if he had been there for some time. He was dressed casually in black cargo pants, a t-shirt, leather jacket and heavy boots, and at his feet, he had a small duffel.

"Well, aren't you all decked out!" she noted with a smirk.

He looked up from his reading with a thin smile. "I did say dress practical, didn't I?" He appraised her outfit---jeans, a t-shirt and fleece pull-over tied around her waist---with a curt nod. "That'll do."

"Well, since you didn't tell me where we're going, I had to cover all the bases." She dropped her backpack and sat down. "A few changes of clothes, the latest Danielle Steele, the more portable items from my weapons stash and a box of Power Bars. Did I do all right?"

"Perfect." He squinted, fiddling with a dull, old-fashioned ring on his left hand. "Danielle Steele?"

"Only thing I can read on airplanes."

"Right. About that...well, that's not entirely the kind of travel we'll be doing. Let me back up for a moment. Have you ever heard of the Gem of Kadaari?"

She shook her head.

"Kadaari was a powerful 10th century wizard, and the first watcher to formally mention a hellmouth in his diaries. He had a slayer, and she was killed by a vampire we believe to be the Master, when he tried to open a portal to hell in the town square."

"Lovely."

"She gave her life to stop him, but Kadaari worried that as soon as the Master had his strength back, he would try to open a portal elsewhere. So he called upon all the magic he knew to create a force that could seal up a portal to hell and neutralize its magic."

Buffy frowned. "What do you mean by neutralize?"

"Well, it's one thing to seal up a hellmouth, as we did. But that second step, that's what prevents someone from opening it up again. That crater in Sunnydale is still brimming with black magic. It's just hidden beneath the surface now."

"But I thought the spell we did...and Spike..."

"Under ordinary circumstances, yes. But this is a hellmouth, Buffy. Everything is stronger there---good magic, yes, but bad magic too."

"So it's heating up again?"

"Right. The council's been keeping an eye on the former Sunnydale, and apparently it's starting to get pilgrims. It's only a matter of time before some of them decide to pool their resources."

"Okay...but Giles, I'm not the witch here. What do you need me for?"

He fiddled again with the ring. "Thing is, the gem, it's...well, it's kind of lost."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Of course it would be. Do I even want to ask, lost how?"

"Kadaari left the gem with an order of monks for safe-keeping, and..."

"Monks? Right. Cause that always ends well."

"Actually, it was just fine for several hundred years, and the gem was used on 4 occasions to neutralize the magic in a potential hellmouth. Unfortunately, about 3 centuries ago, the monks fled to another dimension to escape growing religious persecution, and it's been a bit hard to keep track of them since---time moves differently in parallel dimensions, and events in their world have been rather tumultuous of late..."

"Okay, again, I sympathize, but Giles, what do you need ME for?"

"Well, I realize that you aren't working with the council these days, but you ARE still a slayer and you of all people understand what is at stake here. I can't go alone, and inter-dimensional travel is a little rough for a person without a slayer's constitution."

"But you're coming too, right? So how does that..."

"I've actually already spent some time in that world," he admitted.

"What? When?"

"Oh, a long time ago. But that's immaterial, as it turns out. It's like riding a bicycle, it stays with you...I might be a bit woozy for a day or so, but I'll bounce back much faster than most people."

Buffy nodded, still processing the whole idea. "So...how does this work, exactly? When do we..."

"Right now. The ring I'm wearing will open a portal both ways---get us safely there and back. You ready?"

He held out his palm. She picked up her bag with one hand, and wrapped the fingers of the other around his hand.

"Let's do it," she said.

There was a flash of light, and when she opened her eyes, they were standing in mud-soaked alley, the crud already sticking to her shoes.

Buffy choked back a cough, put a steadying hand on Giles' shoulder and waited for her vision to clear.

"Wow," she managed.

Giles looked faintly queasy, but managed to collect himself. "Indeed. Are you all right?"

"Looks like. Figures we'd wind up in an alley, doesn't it? Does this world have vampires?"

"Yes, but they are called something else and don't work in quite the same way. Listen, Buffy, there are a few things I should tell you about, before we..."

"Right. A few things. Well, I am assuming you have some sort of plan beyond 'roam around looking for a gem' am I right?"

"Well, firstly, we find a place to sleep for the night. Then tomorrow, we look for a bookstore."

She narrowed her eyes. "A bookstore? That's your grand plan?"

"Buffy, last time I was here, this world was in the midst of a civil war. I can't very well march up the first available citizen and simply ask who won it, can I? It's just like at home, we need context. Research. Information."

"Okay..."

"We'd best find ourselves a temple, too. Since we are looking for monks, after all..."

He picked up his bag and walked out into the city. It was large, dirty and vaguely familiar.

"This world's not so different from ours," she said, surprised. "Except for looking a little bit like the rejected set of a really bad Western..."

"That's actually not a bad description. I've been here before. I think this is Persephone. It's a core planet, but one of the more frontier ones."

"Whoa, back up for a second. Planet? This dimension has more than one planet?"

"Well, don't look so surprised. I did say there were things I had to tell you."

"Giles, it was needle-in-a-haystacky enough to think we just had one world to search. How on earth do you think we're going to find the gem if we have more than one planet to deal with? Is it a very BIG gem?"

He smiled faintly, still looking a little sick. "Panicking accomplishes nothing, Buffy. The only way we can do this is in a methodical, organized fashion. Oh, hello. What's this?"

He was kneeling before a newspaper box, studying the headlines and making interested murmurs as he read.

Buffy knelt beside him. "What?"

"Governing council, united committee...that sounds like the Alliance. Guess we know who won the war now, don't we? Pity. I was rather rooting for the independents."

"Ooookay. Um, listen, Giles, about your plan..."

He shushed her and ducked behind the newspaper box, eyes following a passer-by with sudden interest.

"That man is wearing the collar of a shepherd," he said.

"A shepherd...oh, you mean a monk? He's one of the monks we're looking for?"

"Yes. Let's follow..."

She picked up both their bags and crept after Giles. It was nearly dusk, and the man, dark-skinned and with only a shock of ponytailed silver hair to mark him, was difficult to make out. But he didn't go far, ducking into a small pub barely three blocks later. Buffy grabbed the nearest table and plopped down with their bags while Giles eavesdropped.

"...should be clear to leave tomorrow," the 'shepherd' was telling a neatly-dressed somewhat prim-looking man. "If you were able to get your supplies, doctor?"

"Yes," the man answered. "I suppose I should head back to the ship?"

The shepherd clapped him on the shoulder. "Perhaps you have time for one more drink. Inara has quite a bond with your sister. I am told there was to be braiding of hair?"

The doctor smiled in obvious relief, took another swig of his drink, then cast a wink at a young lady who was lined up at the bar, apparently just arrived. She waved back and beamed a smile at the shepherd, who was obviously an acquaintance.

Giles nodded to Buffy. "Wait here." He walked up to the bar, leaned casually against it, and nodded to the girl.

"Hello," he said.

She turned to him, smiled. "Oh. Hello."

"Nice evening, isn't it?"

"What? Oh, sure! Fresh breeze, open air..."

"Nice to have your feet on the ground from time to time, isn't it?"

She looked suddenly suspicious. "Oh? How so?"

"Heard your friends chatting," he said. "You people have a ship, do you not?"

"Well, yes..."

"My friend and I," he said, nodding to where Buffy was seated, "Happen to be looking for a ride."

"On, well, we're mostly cargo, though we do take passengers from time to time...them that can pay, I mean..."

"That shouldn't be a problem."

"Oh, well that's...where did you say you were going?"

"For now, we're rather flexible. Just anxious to be on our way, and when we heard that you had a shepherd on board..."

That amused her. "Oh yeah? That ain't ever been a selling point, if you can believe. Shepherd'll probably love to have some like types on board for awhile. Of course...you ain't Alliance, are ya?"

"No."

"Cause if you got some quarrels with the Alliance, then we ain't..."

"My dear, not only do I have no quarrels with the Alliance, I have no interest in them either. Strictly private business, I assure you."

He opened his pocket and pulled out a small pouch, which he dangled before her. "And we are certainly good for the fare..."

She peeked into the pouch, eyes widening. "-We de ma-! That's...look, we got to clear all this with the captain, but..."

"Oh, of course."

"You folks know where the ship docks are?"

"We should be able to find them."

"Well, our ship's the Firefly. Serenity, she's called. You come on by tomorrow morning, meet the captain, see what we can work out..."

"Thank you, Miss..."

"Oh! I'm Kaylee! Kaylee Frye."

He bowed slightly. "Miss Frye. It has been a pleasure."

He eased smoothly back over to his table, leaving the young woman smiling.

end part 1