Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the intellectual property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, et al; Gundam Wing is the intellectual property of Sunrise, Kodansha, et al; and Naruto is the intellectual property of Masashi Kishimoto, Shueisha, and VIZ Media. No money is being made from this story and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: In late August of 2005, a meme went around livejournal in which you listed 12 characters and then answered various questions about them. The trick was that you couldn't look at the questions first. One of my questions was whether Sasuke would do better paired with Faith or with Duo Maxwell. "Obviously," I said, "they should have a threesome."
Beware of making jokes. Sometimes they come back to bite you.
Summary: An unfortunate accident with a demonic portal dumps Faith, Duo Maxwell, and Uchiha Sasuke into a hell dimension. Knowing these three, things can only get worse from there...
Part XVIII: In which the author has had enough of translation gaps
"We don't trust them," Faith said immediately. Demons were people, but they weren't human - they didn't think human - and trusting them when you knew nothing about a species' quirks was a fast way to a messy death. Still, these ones were being polite, which was a good starting point. "Doesn't mean we can't give them the benefit of the doubt," she added. "They don't act like they're itching for a fight."
Sasuke looked blank, and Faith reminded herself to go easy on figures of speech if she wanted him to understand. Duo muttered something quick in Japanese, probably translating. "Better to have these guys where we can see them instead of watching for them as well as the Sarguls," he added.
Sasuke shrugged, as if to say he didn't care one way or the other.
"Looks like we're traveling again," Faith decided. "Duo, you explain the sitch to the blue teakettle guys. Sasuke and I will clean out the cabin." She sheathed her knife and strode over to the little cabin, carefully not acknowledging the blue demons to her left and right. Showing fear was a good way to get marked as prey. Showing direct attention was often a good way to get marked as a challenger. Polite non-attention was a useful compromise.
Sasuke followed her inside. "Sun or fire?" he asked, one hand on the door.
"Leave it open," Faith said, bending down to grab the purple blanket. "We have no secrets. Nothing to hide. If we close the door, it looks like we're afraid or we're plotting an attack." She wasn't sure how much English Sasuke actually caught, but he wasn't stupid.
"We have yes secret," Sasuke said, with a 'what kind of idiot are you?' tone, but he left the door open which was the main thing. He stood halfway through the doorway, keeping an unobtrusive eye on the blue demons while Faith looked around the dirt-floored room.
There wasn't much else to bring. They all kept their weapons close to hand. Duo was wearing his much-abused jacket. The remnants of the lobster-crab thing Sasuke had killed yesterday were already starting to smell bad - better to ditch it than risk food poisoning. That left Sasuke's canteen and the wooden comb she and Duo had made yesterday. Faith tossed the canteen to Sasuke and wrapped the comb in the blanket, which she tucked under her arm.
"We travel light," she said. "Um. That means we don't carry a lot of supplies. Don't carry much." Fuck all, she was sick of this language barrier, and now they had another one with the blue demons. Faith wished Willow were here. The witch had worked out a passable Babelfish spell to deal with all the multinational Slayers, and Faith would take the mild headache of magic rummaging around in her brain over the massive frustration of not being able to talk to the people watching her back in a heartbeat.
Also, if Willow were here, they wouldn't be stuck.
Well, if wishes were horses and all that jazz. Right now, she had some blue teakettle demons to learn about - Faith foresaw lots of reports in her future, once they all got home - and a long day of travel ahead of her. At least this time they knew there was water at the end of the trip, and with a bit of luck they might even figure out what the Sarguls had against Willow.
"No point wasting time. Let's get out of here," Faith said, and walked back out of the cabin, tapping her fist lightly on Sasuke's shoulder as she passed.
Duo waited with the leader and translator of the mantis demons, hoping he'd remembered the right Chinese words (and the right tones, so help him) for 'yes,' 'truce,' and 'we come with you.' Apparently he hadn't said anything too incomprehensible or insulting, since the translator demon only extended its lower hands, three finger-like pincers spread open and aimed skyward, while it clasped its heavy upper hands and made a sort of rising whistle terminated in a flurry of clicks.
"I got no clue what you mean, buddy, but same to you," Duo muttered, smiling tightly, making sure he kept his lips closed over his teeth. It would be stupid beyond stupid to mess this up by assuming the mantis demons would understand human body language any more than he understood theirs, and since most other animals only showed teeth as part of challenge displays...
"Don't smile at them until we have better translation," he said to Faith and Sasuke as they returned from the cabin, carrying the purple blanket and Sasuke's canteen.
Faith nodded. Sasuke looked confused for a moment, then said, "Dominance display?"
"Yeah. So until we know they won't read it wrong, be as antisocial as you like," Duo said, stifling his urge to grin.
"Idiot," Sasuke muttered.
Faith reached sideways and punched Duo in the shoulder. "Knock it off, spaceboy. The last thing we need is the teakettle guys to think they can play us against each other."
Duo shot her a wounded look. Faith stepped closer to Sasuke and slung her arm around his shoulders. "Don't play that game with me," she said, kicking Sasuke unobtrusively in the ankle when he stiffened at her touch. "I'm right and you know it. I bet you a blowjob Sasuke agrees with me too - or he will once you translate." She grinned. No teeth, though - just wicked humor glinting in her eyes and a slight curve of her closed lips.
Duo choked on his planned response, remembering how those lips felt on his body.
Sasuke glanced from him to Faith, blank-faced, then muttered under his breath and slid out of Faith's grip. "Breathe," he said to Duo, pounding on his back for emphasis. "I don't know what she said - and that doesn't mean I want you to translate it! - but it can't be worse than the things you've said to me. Get over it and tell the blue demons we're ready to go. We need to look professional and united."
Hey, look at that, Faith was right. Sasuke did agree with her.
Sasuke had pretty nice lips of his own, Duo thought as he caught his breath, hands braced on his thighs and head bent low. He'd also do his damndest to maim Duo if Duo slipped and said that out loud, which was a crying shame. Really, if you looked at it objectively, Sasuke needed a blowjob a lot more than Duo did.
Come to think of it... "Can I pick who gets the blowjob?" Duo asked, straightening and doing his best to leer at Faith with only his eyes. After all, he didn't have to tell her she'd won the bet.
She laughed. "If you mean what I think you mean, I'm game. I kinda doubt he is, though, so it's a moot point. Now stop wasting time and get a move on before the teakettle guys lose their patience and decide to play human sacrifice or something. I don't know about you, but I don't like the look of the tusks on those overgrown dung beetle things they're riding."
Duo said something to the blue demons' chief which produced a flurry of clicks, whistles, and gestures. The demons formed into two lines with the riders at the front and rear, and began moving out of the ragged grove and up the ridge. The chief rode beside the lines, accompanied by the translator demon, keeping Sasuke, Faith, and Duo between them and the rest of their party. Faith and Duo muttered quietly to each other as they walked.
Sasuke forced himself to relax. Tripwire tension would exhaust him unacceptably fast, without his accustomed chakra reserves to fall back on, and from what he'd seen so far, the demons weren't the sort for sneak attacks. People who believed in arbitration tended to consider themselves above more pragmatic tactics.
The first riders crested the ridge with a chorus of whistles and clicks to the rest of the caravan waiting below in the desert. Duo paused for a moment on the valley's edge and added a whistle of his own. "Trade caravan, I bet you. That's some serious baggage they're carrying. Reminds me of camel trains in the Sahara, though I think you could build roads in this desert - rocks don't shift like sand dunes. I bet the scarabs could pull wagons if someone worked out a good harness. I wonder if I could get a closer look at-"
"They want us to meet the Sarguls on neutral ground," Sasuke said, ignoring Duo's speculations. "Do you think that will be in the town at the end of their trade route, or in the middle of the desert? Also, how do they plan to contact the Sarguls?"
"Neutral ground is probably the town. They'll have an easier time keeping things under control if we're stuck in the middle of their soldiers, and a town's more likely to have proper soldiers," Duo said, starting the hike downward toward the gathered demons. "As for contacting the Sarguls, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they have a base in this world and the mantis demons can send a message. Maybe they figure we're being tracked and they'd rather the Sarguls open their next portal in a guarded room. Maybe they're all witches and can talk across dimensions. Who knows?"
"-," Faith said irritably, and Duo switched to English for a minute. She listened with a frown, then said, "- one. You say they call us -, but they call the Sarguls - people. See?"
"Shifting-world strangers and net-mouth people," Duo translated. "Were those word for word meanings or just your own take on the kanji?"
"Word for word," Sasuke said, pieces slotting neatly into place in his mind. "I see. The blue demons identify us by our origin - they know we're not from this world - but they identify the Sarguls only by physical description, which implies the Sarguls aren't foreign. But if the Sarguls live here, why were some of them in Faith's world?"
Duo translated again, and Faith shrugged. "Who knows? - are -."
"The ones who took us are in a cult. Cults are crazy by definition," Duo clarified.
Sasuke nodded in agreement, thinking of Orochimaru's more brainwashed followers, some of whom would even willingly go under Kabuto's knife awake and unanesthetized if they thought it would make their master happy.
Then they were among the caravan. The riders and foot-demons peeled off to mingle with the others, while the chief blue demon and the translator led the human trio through the columns of squatting, heavily-laden gold demons - packhorse equivalents rather than riding mounts. Finally they stopped in front of a gold demon whose rider was lying down across its sheathed wings, to all appearances taking a nap in the middle of the excitement.
The chief demon clicked and whistled, and the napping demon slid to the ground, blinking itself awake as it stepped forward to meet them. The translator added a few words, and the napping demon - which was wearing a skirt of loosely woven fabric around its abdomen and upper legs, and rows of rings piercing the front edges of its folded wings - pulled a piece of red rock from a pocket with its lower right arm and motioned Duo forward.
Duo said something in a questioning tone. The pierced demon touched its forehead with its lower left arm, then pointed toward Duo's head, then touched its mouth and whistled. The translator crouched and scratched several kanji in the ground.
"Speak. Word. Hear," Sasuke read. "A translation jutsu? Is that possible?"
Duo translated for Faith, who shrugged. "Your choice," she said, her hand resting casually on the hilt of her serrated knife.
Duo glanced at the chief demon, the translator, and the pierced demon, who were waiting patiently for his response. "Oh well, you only die once," he said. "Hit me."
The pierced demon lifted the rock and touched his head.
AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why. Also, please tell me if I'm not giving enough background for any of the three series in this crossover. I'm trying to be clear without resorting to exposition dumps, but if I'm leaving stuff out, I'd like to know so I can fix it! (Conversely, if I am infodumping, please tell me that too.)