Series: Frozen in Time
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Joss Whedon, et al.
Previous parts - http/ - 29 - Space - at joss100
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The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the...
Xander stopped in mid-thought. What was this ship called? He hadn't asked that girl that. Kaylee, yeah that was her name. Hard to remember stuff with his head being all fuzzy from the stasis...stuff.
No, he'd stopped asking questions right about the time that she said he was five hundred years into the future and that he was on a spaceship.
He didn't want to think about that too long or closely, but his brain just wasn't letting go of it, either. Five hundred years...and Earth wasn't even around any more. Not from what she'd said when she got to babbling, trying to catch him up to date on what had gone on in five hundred years of history in one bashful breath, it seemed. It was cute in the way that Willow had been cute when she started running on at the mouth.
Was Willow one of the other...artifacts... that had survived? She'd been out cold the last he saw her. That was the only way in Hell the Council was going to be able to put her in stasis without her blowing them back to their makers. Knock her out from a distance, he assumed, and then keep her out until she was frozen.
He hoped she was okay, but knew, too, that it was naive of him to believe that everyone he had known and cared about had made it through centuries with him.
It was hard enough to believe that he had made it.
Someone moved in the room with him, but Xander didn't open his eyes. He didn't care if they knew he was awake or not, as long as he kept his eyes shut he could at least act like he was sleeping. Or ignoring them and this whacked out world he'd ended up in. Or both.
"How's he doin', Doc?"
That was the Captain of this...spaceship, if he was remembering the voice right from earlier in that cargo bay type place.
"Fine. Great, even," the doctor responded. "I am sure that he's going to be confused, however. Five hundred --"
"I ain't tryin' to think 'bout that right now, Doc," the Captain snapped. "Kaylee's done caused us a world of trouble, bumpin' into that stasis chamber and wakin' up the cargo."
Xander stiffened. He was a person, damnit. Not an artifact. Not a box of hardware. Not some cargo to be shipped from place to place!
Even if that was all that he'd been for hundreds of years.
"What's done is done," the doctor's tone suggested he wasn't too worried about the situation, something Xander found interesting.
"Right." Another sigh from the Captain. "Think he's going to go all...weird?"
"I think that he's going to have a hard time adjusting. Not to mention making a life for himself in a world he is hardly going to understand."
Well, that was one thing that Xander couldn't argue about. He didn't suppose that a world that was so advanced that they had spaceships was going to need a simple carpenter around. Maybe it was better when he was locked away in the stasis pod. At least there he was maintained, well kept.
"The Farny sisters wanted me to deliver him, stasis or not."
"You didn't --"
"No, I didn't," the Captain continued, much to Xander's relief. "Didn't take no time a'tall to get the idea that they'd just put him on show like a freak. I told them that he was awake and breathin' and that he had the right to make his own decisions now."
"I don't imagine they liked that."
Neither did Xander. He could only imagine being told that a priceless artifact had been reduced to nothing more than a worthless human being that couldn't even be forced to tell stories about the 'old days'.
"No, they didn't. But they know better than to go arguin'. Ain't no court of law that's gonna say he has to allow himself to be put up like that and they know it. He's got the same rights as any of us. Probably more, given that we ain't exactly the cream of the society crop. Dong ma?"
"I'm not arguing, am I?"
Xander's nose chose that moment to start itching. He wiggled it as discreetly as he could, scrunching up his face as much as he dared. But the itch didn't go away. Slowly and as quietly as possible, he reached up and scratched it.
"Well, look at that. Don't suppose our guest is just fakin' sleeping, is he, Doc?"
Frowning, Xander cracked an eye to stare at the ceiling. "I just woke up?"
"Right. I s'pose you heard all that talk 'bout your future lack of captivity?"
Gingerly, Xander rolled to his side, eyes shutting before he glimpsed much more than two sets of shoes standing near the bed, as a wave of dizziness washed over him.
"Easy," the doctor murmured, helping him to a sitting position. "You've been lying down for a long time --"
"And its going to take a while to get used to being up. I get that," Xander nodded, hesitantly opening his eyes.
What he saw there was like a repeat of his worst nightmare.
"Aaaghh!" He jerked back and away from Caleb with a force that upset his precarious balance, sending him tumbling over the reverse side of the medical bed and onto the floor - butt first. But even that pain wasn't enough to stop the fear. Nor the confused questions and cries coming from the two men. "You just stay away from me...crazy...preacher guy."
Caleb - who Xander assumed had to be the 'Captain' - tilted his head to the side and looked at him with something bordering on amusement.
"Now I know you're confused and all, bein' just woken up after sleepin' for so long, but don't you go insultin' me again like that, boy. I ain't no preacher."
Dead. Caleb was dead, Xander's brain reminded him belatedly. Buffy had slain Caleb and that meant - no more evil preacher guy.
Tack onto that the fact that Caleb had been killed over FIVE HUNDRED YEARS ago - and Xander felt like a first class doofus.
"You're not Caleb, are you?"
The Captain smiled tightly. "Can't say that I am. You sayin' there's another fellow out there with my handsome face?"
Xander shook his head. "Was. Dead now."
He reached up for the eyepatch almost instinctively, fingering the soft leathery edge.
"He did that? This Caleb?" the doctor asked.
Nodding, Xander got to his knees, then slowly onto his feet - leaning against the bed for balance.
"Well - I ain't Caleb and I've got no mind to go 'bout maiming you - 'less you've got designs to be hurtin' me or my crew. Then we'd probably skip the maiming and go straight to the expiring, if you get my meaning."
"Loud and clear," Xander nodded. He shivered, despite himself. This guy might not be Caleb, but he looked alot like him. It was enough to make him uncomfortable.
"I think that Alexander should lie back down now," the doctor quietly suggested.
Xander shot him a look of gratefulness, seeing the obvious attempt at getting the Captain away for what it was. "It's just Xander."
"Xander, then," the doctor nodded. "I'm Simon and that's the Captain."
"Malcolm Reynolds," the Captain declared, holding out his hand. Xander looked down at it. He'd seen those fingers far too up close for his comfort.
But that was five hundred years ago and this was not Caleb.
He shook the Captain's hand quickly and let go, resisting the urge to wipe his hand on something.
Not the same man.
He sure did look like Caleb, though.
"Xander needs to lie down," Simon repeated and Xander would have kissed him for it.
If he was the guy-kissing type.
"Right. I'll be lettin' Kaylee know you're awake, then," the Captain offered with a shrug. "She'll be wantin' to talk your ears off about Earth-That-Was, I s'pose. Might as well get some stories out of you since you ain't worth nothin' as cargo no more."
"Sure," Xander nodded, easing back onto the little slab of a bed. "Stories I can do. All kinds of stories."
Were there vampires in the future, he wondered as he laid back down.
And what kind of questions was Kaylee going to have about Earth?
But, most of all, Xander just wanted a chance to talk to her some more about those other artifacts she'd mentioned.
He had to find them. His friends and 'family'. Whoever was still left, he owed it to them - and himself - to release them from their prisons.
And then together they could figure out what to do in this strange new world.
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