PG-13 (for now)
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the characters or locations used, I’m just playing in a pretty big sandbox in a galaxy far, far away…
Author’s Notes: This is all Jackie’s fault, she got me intrigued by this particular crossover and it wouldn’t let me rest until I wrote it!
A/N 2: Un-betad for now, I just wanted to get this part posted so I can get back to my other fics!
Spoilers: Set just after Hell’s Bells – it’s going AU straight away though so don’t expect any later episodes to appear!
Alarms sounded all around her and lights blinked on and off as she struggled to bring the Headhunter back under control. She had no idea where she was, the blast that had pulled her out of hyperspace prematurely was unlike anything she’d ever encountered before and her normally overly active danger sense seemed to be on the fritz. No warnings at all, maybe Farmboy had been right, maybe she should have stayed there to learn some control.
No, she gritted her teeth, she’d made her decision and she was sticking with it. She’d always gone it alone, not once being part of a team, and she couldn’t bring herself to change the habit of a lifetime. She had no regrets about leaving – she had her own path to follow.
Of course, if she’d stayed she wouldn’t be in this situation – in a ‘borrowed’ Headhunter with limited hyperspace capabilities hurtling in an uncontrolled dive towards some unknown planet in an unfamiliar part of the galaxy. She hit the switch to begin broadcasting a general distress call even though she hadn’t picked up any IFF hits since the ship had reverted to realspace. There were manmade satellites orbiting the planet in a haphazard manner that precluded any standard flight path. She made a quick scan of the cockpit displays that told her the atmosphere was breathable albeit with an oddly high level of industrial toxins in the air.
Both the Remnant and the NR kept strict tabs on that kind of thing so it was looking increasingly like this was an un-allied world. Not a good sign.
The lack of any ion trails or other signs of recent hyperspace activity around the planet also worried her. If she had to land, and it was looking more and more as though that was her only choice, there was no way this ship was breaking atmo again without a serious amount of work and it didn’t look as though there were the facilities to deal with that planetside.
The semblance of control she’d re-established over the ship faltered as it neared the planet’s atmosphere. She’d hoped that despite all the evidence to the contrary that there would be planetary shields she could use to bounce the ship’s trajectory back into orbit where she could attempt to make some ad-hoc repairs.
Nothing. No shields, no bounce-off, no orbit. And soon no power she noted as yet another alarm sounded throughout the cockpit. That was it then, she had no other options – she had to go for landing.
Resolute, she turned the control yoke to angle the ship into the atmosphere and prayed the calculations she was making in her head were somewhere close to the mark and wouldn’t result in the ship burning up on entry.
Bracing herself for impact, she began a mental countdown and goosed the uncooperative ship forward into what she hoped would be a controlled dive. It crashed into the atmosphere with more force than the inertial dampeners could hope to contain and she found herself blinking away the darkness that was creeping into the edges of her vision.
Finally she was through the stratosphere. She paused to catch her breath and evaluate her options, never once relinquishing her grip on the bucking control yoke. Her practiced eye located the best potential site for a crash landing – the large continent to the north seemed the most highly populated and would be the most likely to have the kind of resources she’d need to get airborne again. It was night on that side of the planet, but it wasn’t like she had all that many options open to her. With the ship fighting her every inch of the way, she forced it onto a new trajectory and tried to lock in the flight plan on the navicomp.
Nothing. Either the impact of the sudden exit from hyperspace had knocked it offline or it had fried up on atmospheric entry. Either way she was screwed – no navicomp meant there was no way this ship was going anywhere but down. She could do her best to keep it on its current flight path but with wind shear and atmospheric turbulence coupled with the fact that the ship should have been scrapped years ago she knew she’d be lucky to make landfall in one piece.
Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, the power cut out. The ship was now nothing more than a dead weight moving only with the combined forces of inertia and gravity.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” she muttered under her breath as she struggled to maintain the glide. The landmass was growing ever larger in her viewport and she could make out individual cities now.
The doomed ship skimmed over them silently as she realised she’d have to try to out down in a non-populated area, she couldn’t risk hurting anyone else.
Gathering all her strength, she grappled with the yoke and forced the ship to turn slowly but inexorably towards the vast body of water on the west coast of the landmass. The ship, perhaps deciding that after all it was putting her through it owed her one, finally cooperated.
Calculating quickly in her head, she reckoned she had around thirty seconds before she splashed down. Trying to maintain her grip on the yoke, she reached underneath her pilot’s seat and grabbed the survival kit there. She felt the reassuring weight of the blaster on her hip and the other weapon that rested next to it.
She was coming down too fast, the angle was too steep and there was nothing more she could do. The grip she had on the controls was as strong as ever but she could feel the ship fighting against her. And then there was nothing left for her to do, the water was rushing up to meet her and she finally let go off the yoke and braced her arms over her head as the ship made its spectacular crash landing in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California.
It was an uncharacteristically cold night in Sunnydale which probably explained why the vamps were nowhere to be seen. Buffy had called earlier that night and asked if he and Willow could patrol while she took care of some things at home. Xander wondered darkly if by taking care of things she actually meant screwing Spike. Of course, that was still her secret and he’d try to be her friend when she finally decided to tell him about it, despite the revulsion he felt at the thought.
He’d agreed to go on patrol but he hadn’t taken Willow, he hadn’t been able to find her. That was becoming the norm these days and he hated the fact that his two best friends were so distant from him now, but on the other hand he wasn’t exactly faultless in this. He’d backed away as much as they had and now he had no idea how to go about mending the bridges. As for Anya? He’d screwed that one up royally. He still had no idea where she’d gone after the wedding that wasn’t and no one seemed all that inclined to help him find her.
This time last year things had been going great for him, he had good friends, a good job, a great apartment and a girlfriend who loved him with all her heart. Now? He barely spoke to his friends, he was getting stuck in a rut at work, he could hardly move in the apartment for the piles of trash he hadn’t gotten round to clearing up yet and Anya had gone. How had he managed to screw things up this badly?
At least he knew things were wrong now, that had to be the first step towards fixing it didn’t it? A new sense of resolve came over him. He wasn’t going to wait for Buffy to come to him this time, he’d sit her down and tell her what he knew and talk to her about it. He was worried about what she was doing to herself and that worry was eating him up inside because he wasn’t sharing it with anyone. The same was true for Willow, he had to talk to her as well. She seemed to be actively trying to push everyone away – first Tara and then her friends. If that was what she wanted then that was fine with him, but he wanted to hear that from her lips. And as for Anya, well, she’d come back to town when she was ready. He’d meant what he said, he loved her, part of him always would, but he knew they would never have the happy ending she wanted. He wasn’t the man to give that to her and it was selfish of him to think there could be any kind of continuation of their relationship. It was over. He knew it, and she knew it, now all they had to do was accept it and move on.
Xander realised what he had to do now, he was going to force his friends into the same room and make them hash out their problems. He was also going to call Giles in London and tell him everything that had happened – he deserved to know what was going on. Decision made, Xander realised he was feeling much better than he had done for a very long time. A small smile worked its way across his face, reclaiming familiar territory that had abandoned for too long.
With a much lighter heart, Xander continued on his patrol until his wanderings took him towards the coast. He watched as the waves crashed on the shore, the ocean looked immutable but the constant movement of the water ate away at the coastline, changing it, reshaping it. A small laugh escaped him as he recognised the parallels. Life changed, he couldn’t stop it and trying to go back to the way things had been was like trying to stop the waves breaking – an impossible task.
Even with the changes, the ocean was predictable - you just had to know how to read it. Just like life. Resolved, Xander turned away from the beach and headed back into town, not towards his apartment but towards Rivello Drive. It was time to confront his friends.
He became aware of a whistling sound overhead, it was gradually increasing in volume to become a roaring and as he looked up he saw the impossible – a plane of some kind seemed to be headed straight for him.
It was moving far too fast for him to avoid so he took the only option open to him and dove for the ground. He was just in time and it missed him by a matter of feet. Reeling from the aftershock, it took him a few minutes before he could get to his feet. When he finally did, he raced back in the direction he’d just come from – dreading what he might see. There was no way the pilot could have pulled up from that close to the ground. It had to have crashed, even though he hadn’t heard an explosion.
A few metres out into the ocean he could see a roiling mass of water – apparently the pilot had managed some kind of splashdown. He scanned the beach and the sky above looking in vain for any sign of survivors. There was some debris further down the beach and as he ran towards it he could hear splashing and a muffled voice from the water. Someone had made it out.
He spotted the source of the noise and waded out to help. A little to his surprise considering the fact the plane had looked *very* experimental, the pilot was female. She grabbed his arm and used him as leverage to pull herself from the water. She had a mass of red hair and intense green eyes that caused him to shiver when she looked at him.
She stumbled a little as they finally made it out of the water. “Take it easy, we’re almost there. Are you hurt?” He asked her, checking her over for obvious injuries.
She looked at him quizzically for a moment, almost as though she was surprised at what he said, or maybe at the way he said it. She opened her mouth to answer but then stopped as she watched her plane sink lower into the ocean.
“Shavit!” she shouted before her eyes rolled back into her head and she finally collapsed onto the beach.
To be continued