A/N: Welcome to 'Morbid and Creepifyin', my Firefly/Buffy cross-over. This takes place in a slightly AU 'Verse... basically the only difference is the presence of Buffyverse demons (vampires, vengeance demons, maybe even some of the loose-skinned Clem variety...). All Firefly crew members are present (i.e. Book, Inara, and Tam siblings are still permanent crew, pre-Serenity film, ignores any events of the comics). Our favorite punk vampire couple are their season 2 embodiments: Dru is recently weakened, à la mob, and Spike is in full Big Bad regalia, the lover and the fighter. This story will occasionally take quotes from BtVS Season 2 and Firefly/Serenity. Enjoy and please review!

Chapter 1: Passage

"We ready to push off?" Mal calls through the heavy rain. He stands on the gangplank of Serenity, hollering at Wash and Jayne as they lash the last of their fresh supplies in the cargo hold.

"Reckon so, Capt'n!" Jayne shouts back. "Unless this gorram rain is too heavy for liftoff."

"We'll be fine," Wash shrugs, easy-going as always. "What could go wrong?"

"You know you done jinxed us, you nitwit," glowers Jayne, already stomping towards the common area. "Go shake some salt or some such."

"Since when did you get all superstitious?" Wash chuckles, joining him.

Alone in the cargo bay, Mal stomps up the ramp and takes shelter inside. One after another, he pulls off his boots and pours out the collected rainwater, ready for a hot meal – straight protein, what else? – and a fresh change of clothes.

"Oi, there... half a moment, sir. You the captain what put out an advertisement?"

Mal turns at the accented voice and sees a thin young man with startlingly blond hair waiting at the edge of the pier. He's cloaked in a black leather duster and has one arm around a dainty-looking, dark haired woman, whose face is hidden against the man's shoulder.

"That'd be me," Mal replies curiously. "Captain Malcolm Reynolds. This here is Serenity."

The blond man's eyes flicker to the rain-blurred outline of Serenity, and he nods admiringly, earning another small fraction of Mal's attention.

"Lovely ship. Firefly class, am I right?"

"That's so. You ever sailed on a Firefly before, boy?"

"Can't say as I have, but lookin' to. Are you takin' on passengers? Me and my bird can't pay much, but we're nice folk. Make no trouble."

Mal looks the young man up and down, but in the pouring rain the only feature that continues to stand out is his eerily blond hair, slicked back from his forehead.

"Maybe," says Mal. "Depends on a few things. That hair of yorn in't radioactive now, ain't it?"

The man's brows narrow in irritation, and the woman he's supporting giggles slightly.

"No, sir," he mutters. "Touch of bleach every couple weeks. My girl here likes it."

"Understandable. Men can do awful funny things for their women."

A wicked smile appears on the man's lips. "Couldn't agree more, Captain Reynolds."

"What'd be your name now, boy?"

"Will Pratt. I'm a freelance writer an' artist. Bit down on my luck of late."

"He's Spike, Mal."

River floats ethereally out of the cargo hold and stands next to Mal, her eyes riveted to the two strangers at the bottom of the gangplank.

"Come again, girly?" asks Mal, confused.

"Spike," she repeats. "Bloody William."

Still staring at Will, she raises her pointer fingers to her mouth and draws little lines from her upper lip to her chin, but Mal doesn't understand her gesture.

"The word 'spike' mean anything to you, boy?" he inquires, brows raised.

"Can't say it does, sir," he replies, watching River sway from foot to foot at Mal's side.

"Spike, the fairy girl plays in my head," coos the woman on his arm, too quietly for Mal and River to hear. "She dances and prances, throwing flowers that turn into stars . . ."

"Easy, pet," Spike murmurs in her ear. "When we're aboard the nice boat, you can have nummy treats to eat again. Just stay quiet for now."

"Your lady-friend's not ill, is she, Mr. Pratt?" asks Mal loudly. "Don't want no diseases aboard my ship."

"No, Cap'n, my Dru's just a weak little thing. Always has trouble adjustin' from planet to planet. Space works wonders on her."

He bestows a little kiss on Dru's dark hair, and she titters softly, sliding her hand in a sensuous circle over his stomach.

"Well, uh... what'd you have in mind?" asks Mal, mentally inventorying the spare rooms left in Serenity. "Got a passenger cabin vacant, or a shuttle if you shell out a bit more dough, n'case you have a hankering to go planet-side on occasion. What can you pay?"

"What's your askin' price on the passenger cabin, sir?"

Mal shrugs. "Three hundred a month. But I'm a reasonable man..."

To his surprise, the blond stranger doesn't even wince at the suggested rate, but instantly rifles through an inner pocket of his duster and unearths a handful of crumpled Alliance credits. In doing so, Mal gets enough of a glance at the man's torso to see he's got no weapon strapped to his hip.

"I can put up enough quid for three months' down-payment," says Will, taking his first full step onto Serenity's loading ramp, the woman at his side, her playing hands barely keeping to decent places.

"That there's a mighty fine offer, boy," Mal replies, crossing his arms. Not even an attempt to bargain the price down... either the professed writer is a gen-u-ine tenderfoot – a real dandy like Simon – or he's got the best poker face in the 'Verse and something right unseemly he's hiding.

"Like I said, Captain, love seein' what space does to my girl," Will shrugs, arm tightly wrapped around the frail but smiling woman.

"Just like that?" inquires Mal, hands still folded cautiously. "No caveats and addendums?"

"Only askin' for privacy... peace an' quiet... an' that we'll be excused from crew meals and such."

"Reasonable requests, I reckon. Got any luggage needs loading?"

"No, sir, just this carpet bag 'tween the two of us."

"Well, then," Mal nods, extending his hand to Will, "welcome aboard the Serenity."

Will returns the gesture, firmly grasping Mal's. Hmm. Cold fingers. Maybe it's the rain.