This chapter feels very forced to me. Let me know what you think. I may try and rewrite a little bit of it later, but nothing too much. Also, I think I need some inspiration for Wash's character. I love the guy to death, but it just feels like everything I have him say is not a Wash way of saying things. Yet, Xander's words seem to come easily to me. Weird, since they're both so much a like. Maybe that's my problem.

Anyway, anything you guys can suggest to help me out with Wash would be greatly appreciated!

*~*~*~*

He was a force of good. Maybe not the strongest force, but Xander was at least a nice little zing on the good radar. He had fought beside those that were a mighty solar flare in this field of goodness. He had even given lectures on being good. He never gave lectures or speeches before. This was how dedicated and consumed his life had become to the righteously goodness energy.

So why was he doing this again?

Xander gave the man a huge fake grin as he walked around the shop, eager to keep the man distracted on him.

"Hey! This looks sturdy!"

Xander and the shopkeeper both turned to Wash. The pilot grinned and rapped his knuckles on the table's surface. He then grabbed a hold of the sides and tried to shake it, "See? No shaking! Good sturdy table! Just what we need!"

"Ahh!" the store owner grinned and patted Xander on the back. Xander fought down a grimace, "That's a one of a kind!"

Yeah, Xander thought, judging by the craftsmanship, it was the only one the three blind mice tried to build together.

"Yeah, sure," he walked over to Wash and patted one of the legs, a big grin on his face, "If by sturdy, you mean exhausted and flimsy, you're right on the money," he gave Wash a thumbs up.

"What d'ya talk?!" Wash protested, "It's just seasoned. Look at it!" he ran his hands over the less then smooth surface, "You can tell it's been through its share of battles. It can still go through many more," he paused for a split second before breaking out into a huge grin, "It's a warrior table!"

Xander bit back a grin. He really had to hand it to the cheerful man, he could probably sell just about anything if he wanted to. Either way Xander looked at it though, it resembled the coffee table at Buffy's house in Sunnydale after one of the many demons tore through the house. This table could not take much more. Of course, for him, much more included body slams, axes, and big horned demon guys. It probably would do just fine on Serenity.

He still couldn't bring himself to let the crew buy this one though. It was just bad craftsmanship.

"Ya know," Xander looked around the furniture store, trying to find a much more suitable table, "We should be more manly in our perusal of tables," he gave Wash one of his Xander grins, "we should steer clear of commitment and hunt on!" Xander pointed towards a table just a few aisles down as he headed over to it, "Look at that one; it's smooth, it's sturdy," he smacked the side of the table, "plus, the craftsmanship, I mean, a table like this'll last you for quite some time."

"Yer friend here has a good eye!" the shopkeeper cheered happily.

Xander and Wash just gave the man incredulous stares.

"M-My apologies, I meant no disrespect," the owner was quick to apologize and held both his hands up in surrender, "I just meant that, this table is one of the finest ones I have!" he grinned again, "It's a bonafide piece from Earth-That-Was!" Xander rose an eyebrow, "see the design and the smoothness of the legs? Only the technology that was lost on Earth-That-Was could do something so beautiful and flawless!"

Inwardly, Xander groaned. What did this man think of Earth? That they were incredibly technologically advanced? 'Cause from what he had seen so far, it was kinda the opposite. At least it was nice to know that some things never changed. Like a furniture store owner trying to get Xander to buy something for more than it was worth. Hell, he could just build something three times better for only a fourth of the cost! Whatever he made would be way cheaper than even the warrior table!

"Eh, don't worry about it," Xander waved a dismissive hand at him, "it's true. I got a good eye and a dead one. Luckily, my good one can still spot good craftsmanship from a mile away."

"It's definitely nice," Wash conceded as he walked up next to Xander, "but there's no way the Cap'n'll let us get that. Too expensive," his tone suddenly lightened increasingly, "I think we should get the warrior table. It's got character. Plus, ya know, the whole run down thing just makes it seem kinda depressed. How can we abandon it?"

Xander glanced at Wash in thought. He kind of reminded him of someone...

"Charlie Brown!"

"Who?"

Xander laughed, "Wow, I hadn't thought about him in ages!" he shook his head and sighed as he glanced back at the warrior table. As the thought and laughter slowly dissipated from his head, he went ahead and said what he had been meaning to say since they walked into this store, "Ya know, I could build a pirate-y one for the third of the price."

Wash stared at him a moment before glancing back at the table, then back to him. He turned to the shopkeeper, who had a less than pleased look on his face.

Wash then looked at the clock and grinned. Perfect!

"A pirate-y table?"

"A pirate-y table."

Wash turned to the worn down table and frowned down at it, "I won't forget you, warrior table! I'll always cherish our memories of good sturdy times."

The Hawaiian shirt clad men swept past the shopkeeper without a glance. He was glaring at them with narrowed eyes.

"Hey!" Wash exclaimed happily as they walked outside, "Ya know, you almost look like a pirate! You ever own a parrot named Polly?"

Xander smothered down a smile "Nope. Though I did date a Polly once."

"Ooh! Nice! What happened?"

"Didn't end well," Xander grimaced, "Let's just say there was some fire, sharp objects thrown, maybe an ax or two, and a voodoo doll."

"A voodoo doll?" Wash blinked in surprise, "Spooky. Does that work?"

Xander pursed his lips together in a frown, "Couldn't tell ya," he lied, "All I know is that for a week, all I wanted to eat were crackers."

Wash laughed.

Xander buried his hands in his pockets.

This place really was like an old western. It was strange, he half expected something like Star Trek. A great Federation, aliens, and even a higher education where physics was just common knowledge even among the simplest people. Instead, he found himself on a planet that reminded him of the backwards hick towns back home. He learned that he had a higher education than most, a surprise since he was the one who never went to college out of his friends. He also learned that, strangely enough, history did in fact seem to be repeating itself. It was really like a western now. He just couldn't get over that.

Xander blinked in surprise as Wash hurried them past what was obviously the local police.

Were these people fugitives?

Either way, Xander wasn't sure how he felt about his current predicament. Of everywhere for him to wake up, it really wasn't the worst place. Far from it actually, at least these people were hospitable. Most of them, anyway. All right, fine, just Kaylee, Simon, and Wash really. The others acted kinda weird and suspicious towards him. Not that he could blame them honestly.

In a situation like this, Xander just figured it would have been the government or someone higher up that would have woken him up. Sure, at first he hadn't really thought about it, but after they told him he was found on an Alliance ship (which he was assuming meant the government ship), he began to wonder...

Why was he frozen? And why would the government be interested?

OK, he knew why they'd be interested, especially in Buffy, Willow, or Dawn and Giles even. But him? He was just the normal blue collar Joe who just so happened to have one eye. Did someone really think him so valuable?

It was more than possible that Willow had put him into the container for some reason and had planned to open it when he was healed or whatever, but something got in the way. Then again, Giles and Buffy would have protested vehemently towards something like this. They knew damn well the worst situation would always be what happened.

So, why?

Bang!

Xander jumped, "What that a gun?!" He watched in wonder as the local police went charging into the furniture story they just came out of.

"Wuo duh Ma!*" Wash cursed. He smacked Xander's shoulder and motioned with his head, "C'mon! We gotta go!"

As Wash sprinted back towards the ship, Xander hesitated. Realizing he no longer had any choice in these matters, Xander rolled his eye to the high-heavens and inwardly cursed. Why couldn't he just run away anymore? Why couldn't he just be like Wash again?!

He ran back into the furniture store.

He stopped dead in his tracks.

The shopkeeper had his gun out. He was pointing it down, towards Mal, who laid on the floor with a bloody shoulder and his hands in the air by his ears. Zoe, on the other hand, stood tall and had the two police pointing their own guns at her with what appeared to be a heavy bag lying at her feet. Her hand dangerously close to her gun.

Shpedoinkle.

"Hey, where's the party at?"

The entire room turned to Xander. Inwardly, he winced. Why couldn't he ever just keep his big mouth shut?

"What's goin' on?" he asked casually.

The shopkeeper, his hands incredibly too steady for Xander to think it was his first time holding the gun, let alone at a person, glared down at Mal, "This... this shiong-mung duh kwong-run** just tried to rob me blind!"

"Oh, c'mon now!" Mal defended, staying completely still, "I ain't tryin' t'rob ya blind. Ain't got nuthin' t'do with you. Does it now, Zoe?" he glanced over his shoulder at his first mate.

"Ain't about him, sir," she agreed, ever stoic.

"Then what's in that bag there?" one of the police men half shouted, obviously a bundle of nerves.

Mal glanced at Zoe and nodded.

Xander had seen that look before. It was a look Buffy had given him and Willow on several occasions. Either there was something useful in that bag or...

Zoe knelt down beside the bag and opened it up, revealing a wooden box. She stood back up, her hands in the air, and backed up a few steps.

The two soldiers headed towards it.

Only one knelt down, while the other kept his eyes on Zoe.

The other man reached down to open the lid.

"Now!"

Mal and Zoe both whipped out their guns with lightning speed and shot their captors.

Xander, not at all use to dealing with attacking people, acted immediately. He may have been too late in terms of the shopkeeper and police number one, but the second the shots rang out, he jumped police number two.

The two men went sprawling to the floor. Xander could practically feel Mal's and Zoe's eyes on him as he struggled with the man. Xander managed to pull himself onto his feet and yanked police number two back up with him. He then gave him a good shove, and the man toppled over the warrior table.

Which then proceeded to collapse.

Police number two only groaned, but stayed down.

"Huh," Mal grunted. Wordlessly, he motioned for the two to follow him. Zoe grabbed the bag and they all ran out the back door.

And they ran.

And they ran.

Xander really wasn't liking all this running.

When the small ship pod thing began to descend in front of them, Xander didn't think he'd ever been so happy to see a flying ship.

When it landed, the back opened wide, and the three of them ran inside.

Wash grinned from his pilot seat, "Great. Thought we mighta lost ya back there."

*~*~*~*~*

Simon frowned from his perch in the cargo bay. He was watching as his little sister sat cross legged on one of the many containers, the only pressurized one he believed. She had a notepad in her lap and continued to draw one of the four pictures she had become obsessed with.

He really didn't understand why she continued to draw the moon those animals, each one covered in blood. It was very disturbing.

"Hey."

Simon looked over his shoulder and smiled warmly as Kaylee approached him.

She motioned over her shoulder, "Noticed you weren't in the medbay," her smiled quickly disappeared when she noticed his furrowed brow, "Everything OK?"

"Yeah... I guess," he sighed and turned his eyes back to his sister, "After that whole thing with Early..." Simon shook his head, "She was doing so much better," Kaylee glanced over at River with a frown, "but since we came across that Alliance cruiser...," Simon trailed off and shook his head.

"She's gettin' worse again, huh?" Kaylee placed a hand on his shoulder in sympathy.

"Well, she's not getting better anymore."

Sssssssss....SSSssssssssSsssszzzZzzzz....

All three stiffened and watched as the second container let out a clouds of smoke and the side panel slowly lifted into the air.

A woman rolled out.

Simon quickly moved towards her and put his fingers to her throat. He waited a moment as he took her pulse, "She's has a steady pulse," he reached down and lifted her up, "Kaylee, go get Jayne," he glanced over at River who was staring at the woman with wide eyes, "River, I'm going to need your help, OK?"

His sister just nodded mutely and followed her brother quickly into the medical bay.

*~*~*~*~*

"OK, so let me get this straight," Xander frowned as Wash brought the shuttle back onto Serenity, "You guys are a bunch of thieves, taking whatever job you can get, because you lost a war and don't agree with the current government?"

"That's the story," Mal confirmed with a nod.

"Oh..." Xander seemed to think a moment, "but you don't do things like steal from somebody whose life depends on that thing... do ya?"

Mal and Zoe both glanced at each other, as if remembering a certain moment, "Not intentionally."

"Ah," Xander frowned.

"You gotta problem with the way we do things 'round here, yer more than welcome to find a new ship t'stay on," said Mal, "I ain't gonna be babysittin' someone who's gotta problem with me and mine. That clear?"

"Huh? Oh! No! No judgments here!" Xander rose his hands up in surrender and shook his head, "I don't have a particular fondness of the government myself, so I say have at it with the robbing from the rich and selling to the poor."

"Alright then," Mal stood up, "Just so where on the same page-"

Cap'n! Kaylee's voice came up over the intercom.

Mal quickly moved over to the co-pilot's chair, "What?"

The second container just opened!

Mal cursed, "Feifei de piyan!***"

Xander was quickly out of his seat and out of the shuttle. Zoe and Mal ran after him. They all flew down the stairs, through the cargo bay, and into the medical room.

Xander froze when he saw who it was.

Everyone looked over at Xander.

Wash soon joined them. He glanced back and forth between them, "So... you know her?"

"Oh, God..." Xander muttered.

Of all the people for him to be stuck 500 years in the future with!

"Cordelia?!"

*~*~*~*~*

*Wuo duh Ma! - Mother-of-Jesus!

**shiong-mung duh kwong-run – violent lunatic

***Feifei de piyan – a baboon's ass-crack.