|The Space Man Cometh|
by Chaym, E-mail: email@example.com
About The Space Man Cometh
Summary: Buffy-Farscape Crossover. John Crichton gets sucked through a wormhole and winds up on an alternate Earth – the Earth where vampires exist and Buffy is the Vampire Slayer.
Rated PG-13 (for language)
Spoilers: BtVS Season 6 up through "As You Were" and Season 3 Farscape up to "Fractures"
Copyright Notice/Disclaimers: Farscape and all its wonderful characters are the property of Jim Henson Productions, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and the Sci-Fi Channel. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its wonderful characters are the property of Mutant Enemy Productions, Joss Wheadon, and UPN. It’s my second fanfic and first cross-over, so be kind and send words of praise and boxes of chocolate cookies to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Written in March 2002.
John Crichton had had it. He was fed up, pissed off, and depressed. It had been two weeks since Talon had returned to Moya and Aeyrn still wasn’t talking to him. Pulling his flight suit over his muscled arms and shoulders, he stormed across the flight deck. "Pilot! I’m headin’ out."
A disembodied voice answered him, "Will you be gone long, Commander?"
"Just doing some experiments and getting some air." Quickly, he climbed into his module, performed a preflight check, and lifted off, expelling his craft from the enormous living ship’s body.
It didn’t take him long to find what he was looking for – solar flares. Moya had only just arrived at the tiny, backwater planet and the rest of the crew had already gone down, trying to scrape together some badly needed supplies. All that is, except John. "Damn it Aeyrn! It’s not my fault the other me died." The astronaut shook off his memories and got back to work. "Farscape 1 to Moya, prepare to receive data stream."
It was well over an arn when something on the readout caught his eye. There it was! The conditions were perfect. John flicked some switches to his right and grabbed the throttle, pulling back, urging his ship faster and faster around the planet’s orbit. Other vessels jumped out of his way. Soon, a blue circle appeared, swirling faster as it grew in diameter, stretching into a long tube. He checked his readings once again. The wormhole was stable. "I’ll just take a peak," the Commander muttered half to himself, half to Pilot - ever vigilant.
"Commander, Moya begs you to be careful. She senses that something isn’t quite right."
Pissed, Crichton moved further into the wormhole. "What is it this time Pilot? Is some big bad gonna scoop me outa the sky? Or how ‘bout Scorpius? He comin’ to kick my ass? You know, just because I open a wormhole, doesn’t mean something’s going to happen."
Suddenly, a glowing red light streamed through the spatial phenomena, striking the Farscape 1. "Oh, Frell!"
Commander John Crichton groaned, slowly becoming aware of his senses. Pain. Yeh, there was a lot of pain...all over, but mostly his head. And blood. At least he was assuming it was blood. Eyes adjusting to the dark interior of his craft, he checked the ship’s damage control monitor. As far as he could tell, his module miraculously, had survived relatively intact. The big question now: where was he? Sensors showed a planet, breathable atmosphere with a mixture almost identical to Earth’s. Gingerly, he popped open the hatch and climbed out.
The ship had landed in a large field, grasses high and swaying in the cool night air. The astronaut looked up at the stars. It was cloudy and not many could be seen. John thought for a moment that he recognized the Big Dipper. But no, it couldn’t be. Earth was a zillion miles away. Shaking his head, only too late realizing it was a big mistake, he locked up the Farscape 1 and covered it with grasses. Noticing some lights in the distance, he headed for them.
The lights belonged to those of a small deserted street, which led straight into a cemetery. A twig snapped behind him. Suddenly, a voice rang out, "Get down!" John dropped just as figure leapt over him, kicking his would-be assailant in the stomach, followed by a punch, which somehow turned the attacker to dust.
John got to his feet and studied his rescuer. She was a tiny young woman, with short brown hair, wearing a red coat and black leather pants. Sebaccean?
Hands on hips, the woman glared at him, "When will you people ever learn? You don’t go walking around in graveyards after dark!"
He stared at her, not believing his ears. It couldn’t be… "You’re Human?"
Warily, she in turn studied him. Tall, brown hair, medium build, with dried blood caked on his face and orange jump suit. "What?! Of course I am. Listen buddy, I really don’t have time for games."
A mixture of disbelief and ecstatic joy swept across his handsome features. "You mean this is Earth? I’m finally home?!" He wiped his hand over his face. "My name is Commander John Crichton. I’m with the International Aeronautic Space Association. My ship crashed not too far from here and …"
She cut him off, "Sure. And I’m Lieutenant Uhura. Look, if you wanna go play out your little geek fantasy, do it with someone else. ‘Cause me? I got work to do."
A demonic figure ran out from behind a bush, knocking the already bruised and battered Crichton to the ground and into unconscious oblivion.
Once again, John awoke to pain. But this time, it wasn’t so dark. Filtered sunlight streamed though what looked exactly like a crypt, only furnished. He sat up on the makeshift bed and saw a tall, blonde-haired man, drinking from a cup near the refrigerator. Only, this guy wasn’t exactly a man. Ridges stood out on his forehead and his teeth were oddly pointy.
The "man" looked at him. "Oh, your awake." Shaking his head, the ridges disappeared, leaving a smooth Human-looking face."
"Johnny Boy, this is definitely not Earth," he muttered to himself.
His captor walked over to him, speaking in a British accent. "You alright there? Gotta nasty bump on your head, you did."
Pulling back on his flightsuit, Crichton slowly backed himself against a wall, looking furtively around for his pulse pistol. "Where am I?"
"What? You’re in Sunnydale, California mate."
"California? As in Earth? Sorry, played that game too many times before. What the hell are you and why are you keeping me here?"
"Oh! You mean the bumpies…just a trick of the light, nothing to worry ‘bout. Listen, Buffy’ll be back with the Scoobies soon, so you just sit back and all will be right as rain soon enough."
Crichton lunged at the alien, only to double over as nausea washed though him, forcing the contents of his stomach onto the floor.
"Bloody hell! And I just had the rugs cleaned!" He pushed the man back onto the bed. "I am not your enemy, bud. So just sit back and wait." Digging into a drawer, he pulled out a roll of paper towels. "And if you wouldn’t mind, how ‘bout cleaning up your mess."
John did as he was instructed, playing along, absorbing as much as he could of his surroundings. "Do you have a name?"
"Commander John Crichton, astronaut, International Aeronautic Space Association. Any chance you got a phone or a com system?"
"Never heard of it and no, I don’t have a phone." Spike flung himself down into an easy chair and turned on the t.v. "Now if you don’t mind, my soaps are on."
Giving up trying to escape and not having anything better to do, John soon found himself absorbed in the soap opera. Its plot was simple and cheesy, the writing even more so. Yet for some reason, he couldn’t turn away. "You said Timmy fell down the well?"
"Yeh, long time ago." His keeper choked back a half sob. "Almost didn’t make it, the poor fellow."
The show ended and another had just begun when the woman from the night before burst in through the door.
Spike jumped out of the sun’s rays, patting out his smoldering back. "Hey! Watch it!"
A small group of people followed her in - two women, one blonde, the other red, and a black-haired man, all as young as she.
Handing him a bag, the woman smiled, embarrassed. "Hi. I’m Buffy. Sorry about last night. Are you hurt much? I…I brought you something to eat…and some bandages. Spike was all out."
The blonde woman stepped forward, her high heels clicking on the stone floor. "He should be in a hospital! Gods Buffy – he could sue us! But you won’t, right?"
"No! No more hospitals! I’m in enough trouble already. The last thing I need is more cops hanging around asking questions."
He looked at each of them in turn, confused. "My name is John Crichton. I’m an astronaut. I was in my ship, doing some experiments when this red beam of light hit me and I got sucked through a wormhole. Look, I’m not here to hurt or sue anybody. I just want to find a way home."
"Wormhole?! Like on Deep Space Nine?"
Buffy glared at them, "Willow! Xander! Could we not encourage the stranger?"
Wearily, John tried again, "If you could just tell me where I am or give me some star charts, I’ll be on way."
"You’re in Sunnydale, California…on the planet Earth."
Placing hands on hips, he glared at the blonde. "Yeh? Well on my Earth lady, guys like him don’t exist."
Xander pointed his finger at the astronaut excitedly. "See! I told you – just like Sliders. He’s from an alternate Earth!"
John ran his thumb across his lower lip, thinking, performing calculations in his head. "You know. You could be right."
Again, Buffy took charge of the situation, "Listen. John is it? Why don’t you have something to eat, we’ll get you all fixed up, and then you can call your little starship and have Scotty beam you up."
Crichton looked at her, knowing he was getting nowhere. Then an idea came to him, "I can prove it. Where’s Winona?"
"My pulse pistol! Where is it?"
Perturbed, she walked over to a small chest of drawers and took out the black weapon, snug in its holster. "You mean this? Buddy, around here, these things are never useful." Casually, she tossed it back into the drawer, only to watch in horror as a pulse of blue light discharged into the room forcing everyone to duck for cover.
Thoroughly pissed, the astronaut stormed over to retrieve his possession, only to be blocked by the bleach-headed alien. "I don’t think so, mate."
Standing his own ground, John glared back. "Get out of my way."
The brown-haired woman rolled her eyes. "You two wanna cut out the testosterone crap?" She turned on the visitor. "So where are you really from? The Initiative? Cause those government boys moved out a long time ago."
"The who?" John shook his head, mind racing. "Translator microbes! I’ve got these ‘things’ in the back of my neck - let me understand any language."
"Parlez vous francais?" the one named Willow, asked.
"Oh give me a break!" Spike once again, opened his mouth. "Nt’ lk rvrow nyk ktqu, tuh."
"Nancy boy?! Buddy, I’m more of a man than you’ll ever be!"
Xander, desperate to break the tension, stepped to the front of the crowd. "Well, I’m convinced. So, Alternate Earth Man, why don’t we get you all cleaned up? And later on, we can all go see your starship. Is it cool?" He turned to the blonde. "I’ll bet it’s really cool."
Sighing, John smiled. "Yeh, it’s cool."
Sitting back on the bed, eating the strange tasting "Double Meat Medley With Cheese," Crichton listened intently as Buffy told him all about the vampires and demons of this Earth.
"So that’s what attacked me? A vampire?"
"That and a Kir’an demon, which is weird because they don’t normally attack Humans. Spike, have you heard anything?"
The chipped, and now-harmless, vampire crossed his arms and glared at her. "No. I got stuck here all night babysitting Astro Boy, remember?"
The "Slayer" smiled back at the brooding man regretfully, "Right. Well, find out what you can tonight. Anya, you and Willow hit the books, find out everything you can about the Kir’an. I’ll do a thorough patrol and Xander, you go with the Commander, help him with anything he needs." Her face broke into a wistful grin, "Where did you say your ship was?"
Relieved, John smiled back. "About a mile, maybe two away. In this big field before you get to the cemetery."
"Near a small forest?" The man nodded in agreement. "The L’off like it there - all nice and hiddenish. I’d better go with you. But not now. I have to pick Dawn up from school. Is later o.k.?"
The blonde-haired woman, Anya, dropped a small pile of clothing in his lap. "Here. Some clean clothes and a 10 percent off coupon to the Magic Box. Because you’re not going to sue us or call the cops, right?"
John laughed. "Thanks and no." He turned back to Buffy. "Is it alright if I take a look around town? It’s…it’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Earth…any Earth."
"No problem. I’ll meet you back here. Say around sevenish?"
The group, who for some reason called themselves "Scoobies", left, leaving him to change. That done, he headed for the door, turning to stare longingly at the dresser holding Winona. Receiving a "Don’t even think about it" glare from the crypt’s owner, the astronaut turned away and headed outside.
Commander John Crichton walked along the main street of Sunnydale, his borrowed blue jeans and white T-shirt blending in perfectly with the locals. No one would suspect he was from an alternate Earth, let alone, an astronaut, lost in some distance universe, trying desperately just to get back home. Then again, from what he was told, the locals would believe almost anything, except for the reality right under their noses.
Still, this was Earth - the sky, the trees, the wind, the smells. It may not be his exact homeworld, but it sure felt like it. A rich, brown aroma wafted through the air. Coffee. Gods, how many cycles, years, had it been? Groping around in his pockets, he discovered a few crumpled dollars and headed for the place calling itself "The Espresso Pump."
Cup in hand and now sitting at a small table, the long-gone native picked up a newspaper. It was in English and bore the day’s date. Tears sprang to his eyes. He was home.
A couple of arns, hours, later, John headed back to the crypt. He found the young woman waiting for him - the vampire, gone.
She held up a fast food bag, identical to the one from the night before. "Hope you like it. I made it myself. It’s…all I could afford."
"You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve had to eat the last three years. I’m sure it’ll be fine. Thanks." He took out the fries and sandwich and began to eat.
Buffy looked at him, suspicion in her eyes. "So. What did you do today? Were you able to contact the mother ship?"
Crichton pursed his lips and stared right back. "I had a cup of coffee and did some research at the library. Turns out your friend, Xander, was right. This isn’t my Earth. Your world - it’s close, but it’s not the same. There is no International Aeronautic Space Association, let alone with headquarters in Sydney. There’s NASA, but no IASA. Hell, as far as I can tell, even I don’t exist."
Before she could interrogate him further, Xander burst into the room, brimming with excitement. "Hey! How’s it going? Can we go see your starship now?"
Walking, for apparently none of the "Scoobies" owned a car, Crichton found Xander quite amusing. The man’s knowledge of cult t.v. was amazing and it had been cycles since he’d had anyone to talk to about it.
"You’re kidding, right? Paris and Torres did not get married."
"Honest to God. They even had a baby. And on Babylon 5, Sheridan not only got married to Delenn, but became president of the Alliance."
"Sheridan? Who’s that? I thought Jeffery Sinclair was the commander of B5?"
"Not anymore. He got sent to the Minbari homeworld."
"Anything else? Please tell me they didn’t make another Star Trek movie?"
"That they did my man…that they did. But at least it wasn’t as bad as the fifth one."
"Nothing was as bad as the fifth one."
Clearly annoyed and having reached the edge of the field, Buffy interrupted their conversation. "If you two are done with the Geek Fest, maybe you could show us your ship, Commander."
Crichton led them the clearing caused by craft’s rather abrupt landing. Turning on a borrowed flashlight, he checked out his baby, answering Xander’s enthusiastic questions as best he could. Next, he turned his attention to the interior, mentally, making a checklist of the things he would need.
The Slayer too, studied the craft. It hadn’t looked like what she expected. Instead of some stereotypical saucer, it bore a great resemblance to the space shuttles used by NASA.
Suddenly, yet hardly unexpected, she saw a large, green and brown mottled demon emerge from the woods. Bringing her battle-ax to fighting position, she attacked the beast straight on. Three more emerged, engaging the men in their own battles. Quickly, the L’off were dispatched.
Helping to drag the bodies into a pile, Crichton discovered himself being studied once again by the strong woman. "You fight well for a space man."
"Years of practice. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen."
"Tell me about it." She looked around, eyes going over every blade of grass, every tree and bush, looking for movement. "Well, it doesn’t look like anymore are around. Did you find out what you needed to know about your ship?"
John nodded. "There’s a bit of damage, but I think I can fix it. I’ll need some supplies though."
"You’ll get them…I’m sorry about what I said earlier, about not believing you."
"Not a problem. I wouldn’t have believed me either."
John Crichton couldn’t remember when he’d ever been this cold. Wincing, he ran the soapy-wet cloth over his chest. Apparently, vampires didn’t mind the cold, and the water in the washbasin was bone chilling. Still, it was better than smelling like a Hynerian. Bracing himself once again, he dunked the cloth back into the water and proceeded to scrub his legs.
The crypt’s door burst open and the Slayer stormed through. Startled, Crichton reached for a towel, trying in vain to cover himself before anything was seen. "Don’t you people ever knock?"
The vampire, half dosing in the easy chair, glared at the cause of the intrusion. "That’s what I’ve been trying to her all along. But oh, no, Little Miss Buffy just has to…"
"What?" Buffy forced herself to stop staring at the man’s well-muscled body. "Did you say something?"
Embarrassed and still quite cold, Crichton grabbed his clothes and headed to a semi-hidden alcove. In the background, he could hear the two talking.
"Did you come here for a reason luv, or just to drool at Buck Rogers over there? Is that what you go for these days - Fly Boys?"
"Cut it out, Spike. I don’t…Stop it…I told you. We’re though."
"And yet you keep coming back to me, pet. ‘Oh Spikey, I found this stray on the street. Can you take him in for a li’l while?’"
"I needed your help."
"I know what you need, Slayer. I can feel it…"
"What I need, is for you to stop fooling around and get me some answers. Go play kitten poker or what ever it is you need to do. Just find out what’s up with the Kir’an or whatever it is that’s got them on a feeding frenzy."
Crichton walked back into the room, just as Spike, now wearing his black leather jacket, was storming out. "Fine! But if your new Boy Toy messes with any of my stuff, I’m going to have m’self a Happy Meal. No matter how much it hurts!"
Buffy clenched her fists, trying to calm her anger and turned towards her guest. "Are you going to be o.k. here? I’ve got patrolling to do and I’m sure you must be tired by now. Tomorrow we can go get those parts that you need. And I’m sure Willow could help. She’s good with tech stuff."
He looked down at the small, strong-willed, yet vulnerable woman. "I’ll be fine."
When she left, John fell easily into a deep sleep. He dreamed of Moya. Of Aeryn. And of Home.
The next day was a tedious blur of hunting down parts for his Farscape module. Fortunately, this Earth’s technology was identical to his own and none of the now-alien-based systems had failed. Spike had unwillingly loaned him some money, though how he was going to pay it back, Crichton didn’t know. Research into the Kir’an was going well and a "Scooby Meeting" had been called at the Magic Box.
Crichton looked around the dimly lit shop. It’s shelves, filled with books, potions, and oddities reminded him of similar places in the Uncharted Territories. When the group was assembled – Willow, Xander, Anya, Spike, and a new, plain-looking girl – Buffy started the meeting.
"Tara. Why don’t you start?"
After giving John a polite smile, she began. "Well, Kir’an elders will periodically perform a spell linking them to others of their kind living in another dimension. Sometimes, they’ll even travel back and forth between those dimensions using a portal they call the Eye of Ran. Two days ago, when…when you crash landed…was a holy day for them…And more than likely, they were performing the dimensional spell, which somehow linked with your wormhole…’causing you to get sucked into our…our…version of Earth."
John shook his head in annoyance. "And now they’re out to get me for interrupting their little family reunion. Great. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt. So how do I get home?"
Willow gave him a sympathetic smile. "We’re not exactly sure yet…But, we’re fairly certain that the Kir’an will try the ritual again within the next couple of days."
"Which won’t matter unless I can get my ship working by then." The astronaut rubbed his face. "Plus there’s that little matter of needing solar flare activity."
"Oh! But I can help you with that! I’ve got NASA’s website bookmarked on my laptop. We can check it out anytime you’d like."
Buffy took over. "John, do you have everything you need to begin repairs?" At his nod of approval, she continued. "Great. Spike? Can you watch John’s back while he’s fixing his ship? I would, but there’s this whole parent-teacher conference thing tonight, and I have to be there for Dawn. Tara, keep hitting the books. Willow, look into that solar flare thingy."
"What about us?"
"Oh Xander. You two have done enough already. You’ve got your wedding coming up and all those relatives at your apartment. It’s not fair to ask…"
"But I want to! It’s scary at home. And I’m not sure which side of our families scares me the most. So please, let me be Research Guy!"
"O.K… Maybe you could go over the receipts at the Magic Box. See if there have been any purchases for the things needed in the Kir’an’s dimensional spell."
"Great! Sounds like a plan." And with that, the Scoobies and space farer went their separate ways.
Crichton’s body could be seen as he tinkered with a panel deep inside Farscape 1’s cockpit. "Could you hand me the screwdriver Spike? The teeny tiny one."
Taking a drag on a cigarette, the bleach-blonde vamp stood up from where he was reclining against the ship’s nose. "Get it yourself you bloody git." He stomped out his smoke and lit another one.
John emerged from the craft. "You know, I’m not your enemy here."
"Sure you are. Come flyin’ in here all Space Hero Cowboy. Got everyone of ‘em makin’ googly eyes at you."
"I’m just trying to get home."
The astronaut moved on to the ship’s tail section, lifting a panel and pulling out some wires. "Back on Moya – this ‘living ship’ that I live on, there’s this girl…woman actually, Aeryn. She’s a lot like your Buffy. Headstrong. Does her own thing. Bosses everyone around. The first one to go in fighting and the last one to come out."
"She your girl then?"
"Used to be. Then there was this guy. This other ‘me’…but he died and...it’s too complicated to get into."
"You still love her?"
"More than anything in the universe." John stopped, looking up at the night sky. "But I can’t have her."
"So, if this other bloke is dead, why don’t you move in? Show her who her new daddy is?"
"Because with women like Aeryn and Buffy, it’s not that simple Spike. They need time. They need patience. They need space… I don’t know what the frell she needs!" He slammed the panel shut and picked up a car jack. "Help me raise this baby up?"
Spike stomped out the used cigarette and took the jack. "Sure."
The two beings worked side-by-side on the module, telling stories of their exploits – as men from all galaxies are known to do. Fyarl Demon against Scarren. Initiative Commando against Peacekeeper. Glory against D’Argo during Hyper-Rage. Enemies. Friends. Women. In every city a port and in every port a conquest. As the sun started to show upon the horizon, they headed back, finishing the last of the liquor in Spike’s flask.
"What is that? Whiskey?"
"Yeh. Don’t they have that where you’re from?"
"On Earth, yes. In the Uncharteds? No. There’s this blue shit - felip necter – that comes from the bu…you don’t want to know."
Blinding light and a shrieking whine pierced Crichton’s skull. "What is it now Pilot?!" He rolled over, groaning, trying to get away from the pain, when suddenly, his nose struck a very hard surface. "Ow."
"Gods, what is with you two?! John! Spike! Get up!"
"Huh?" The space man, tangled in a white sheet, propped himself up on his arms, blinking hard, trying to clear his vision "Aeryn?" No. Wrong hair color; wrong height. "Buffy? What are you doing on Moya?"
Disgusted, the blurry figure moved out of site and kicked something. "Spike! For crying out loud, wake up already!"
"Leave me alone, Slayer. Th’ boy and I had a long night."
John reached for his clothes, thought better of it, and continued to sit on the floor, wrapping the sheet further around him.
"This place smells like puke."
"Yeh? Well, you don’t smell so great yourself, luv." The vampire stood up, zipping his black leather pants, then tossing an identical pair to John. "Here, you can borrow these if you’d like."
The astronaut cocked his head and simply stared at Buffy, waiting until she grew embarrassed and turned away.
Buffy tried once again to take charge. "John, we need you at the Magic Box. And Spike? I need you to get the lowdown on the Kir’an demons. Make sure you find out just when and where they’re going to perform the ritual."
Her ex-lover crossed his arms. "No."
"No. Astronaut Boy here looks like he could use a cup of coffee. And besides, you didn’t say please."
She turned to John, who too, had folded his arms in determined indignation. The Slayer finally gave up. "Fine. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. And, please Spike, will you help me out?"
"Alright. That’s better then."
Crichton finished getting dressed then followed her out into the daylight, while the vampire took a back exit leading to the sewers.
As promised, Buffy bought Crichton a cup of coffee, some for the rest of the Scoobies, and a box of doughnuts.
Tired and hung over though he was, John savored every bite of the cake, sighing with pleasure. "I’d forgotten how good these tasted!"
"They don’t have doughnuts in the…the…Unmapped Place?"
"There are similar things, sure. But they definitely do not have chocolate or coffee."
"No chocolate? That’s like - no Christmas."
"Don’t have that either. I tried to once, but the gang just didn’t get the whole ‘Santa Claus coming down the chimney’ thing."
"Well then. We shall make sure you get plenty of both coffee and chocolate."
The space traveler laughed, "Thanks."
"Have you considered staying? I’m sure you could get a job with NASA or something."
John looked off into the distance, "Yeh. I did. Almost called my dad yesterday, but it wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t know me and there’s just too many things…I’ve got this life now. It’s weird and strange and people are trying to kill me. But…in some whacked out way…it’s home…at least for now."
"Do you think you’ll ever get back – to your real Earth I mean?"
"I don’t know."
They arrived at the Magic Box, where Anya was taking care of a customer.
"Thank you for your patronage. Please come again so that we may engage in more capitalism!" With no other customers in the store, she joined her comrades at the table.
Buffy pouted to her friends, "Aww...Where’s Xander? I brought jelly ones just for him."
"He’s replacing a window in our apartment. Mrs. Harris tried to get Halfrak to curse Mr. Harris and, well, you know…"
"Halfrak shoved Mr. Harris through the window?"
"No. Mrs. Harris did...well, only his head." Nonchalantly, she tore a piece from a doughnut and started nibbling.
Willow turned John’s attention to her computer and the NASA website on it’s monitor. "I was able to find data for the past month’s worth of solar flare activity. They’re expecting the sun to keep it up for a few days, but not much more than that."
"Can you show me the tables?"
The two chatted away for the next several hours, pulling up information from various satellites and monitoring stations. Streams of data flowed by in every known form. Calculations were made and a plan formulated.
"So with solar flare activity expected to peak on Thursday, my optimum window of opportunity would be Tuesday night to early Saturday at the latest." He smiled at her. "Thank you."
"Aww, shucks…It was nothin’. I like getting a chance to put my nerdiness to good use. Makes taking all those astronomy classes seem worthwhile now."
"Commander?" Tara politely interrupted. "Have you thought about…how you’re going to dodge the military? I know you didn’t encounter any when you came here, but…but, Buffy thought it would be a good idea to not take any chances."
The pilot shrugged, "I figured I’d just pray and outrun ‘em best I could."
The young woman looked guiltily over at Willow. "I know this spell, that could render you and your ship invisible…temporarily of course. I’m not sure how far it would reach, but…but I think we could keep you safe…at least for a little while."
"Tell me what I have to do."
This time, the Scoobs met over at the Summers’ residence. Dinner, unfortunately, was again a swirling of chicken and cow. John was beginning to long for the food cubes so prevalent on Moya. At least they smelled better. This night was also his first introduction to Dawn, the Slayer’s little sister.
"So, you’re the astronaut from an alternate Earth everyone’s been talking about?" The girl was young, 16 at most, with long brown hair and an attitude befitting a typical teenager.
"In the flesh."
"You don’t look like an astronaut, not like the ones on this Earth anyway."
"I’m more of a scientist-type guy."
"Can I see your space ship?"
"Sure. If it’s o.k. with your big sis."
She groaned, "Then I’ll never get to see it. Buffy never let’s me go anywhere where there might be demons…As if I’ve never faced them before."
"Dawn…." Her sister glared at her. Naturally, her comment was ignored.
"Have you met any aliens? Are they like the ones from Roswell?"
"I live with a bunch of aliens. But no - none of them look the ones from Roswell."
"Dawn….why don’t we stop with the twenty questions and get on with helping him get back to where he belongs?" The elder turned her focus onto Spike. "So what’d you find out?"
"That your resident Wiccas were right. The Kir’an’ll be performing their dimensional meet and greet night after tomorrow."
"Well thank goodness! Because you can’t have it on Friday - that’s the rehearsal dinner. And you can’t mess that tradition up. It’s the whole prelude to the wedding."
Buffy smiled at her ex-demon friend. "Don’t worry about it, Anya. I’m sure it’ll all work out just fine." Getting back to matters at hand, she turned to John. "Will your solar flares be all flarey during that time?" He nodded with agreement. "And Tara’s got the invisibility spell all set to go. What about your ship?"
"Just a little fine tuning and she’ll be ready to fly."
"Perfect. I get done with my shift at the Doublemeat at 3:30, tomorrow. So I’ll take you right after. Dawn, will you be o.k. by yourself?"
"Why don’t we all go celebrate the mission’s future success at the Bronze?" Xander suggested - almost too enthusiastically. Everyone agreed, sympathizing with the soon-to-be-wed man.
Embarrassed, John leaned over to whisper in Buffy’s ear. "Umm…I hate to ask, but…would…would it be o.k. if I…took a shower first? It’s just that, you know, after working all night on the module and…the water’s really cold at Spike’s place."
"Oh!" She blushed furiously. "Oh, sure! The…the bathroom’s upstairs on your left. Extra towels are in the hall closet."
"Thanks. It‘ll only take a few minutes."
Partying was one thing John Crichton knew how to do well. Except for the last time where he had wound up in a store window wearing fishnet stockings and high heels. As far as clubs went, the Bronze wasn’t half bad. It catered to both the high school and college crowd, with a large dance floor set up between the bar and stage. A pretty good band was playing in English, at least it sounded like English.
Beer. Frosty Nectar of the Gods. And John was enjoying it for the first time in far too many years. He was also enjoying dancing with his newfound female friends. Spike was right – Buffy had stamina. He took a polite turn with her little sister, and another with Anya. He lost to Spike in a game of pool, but won his "money" back with Xander.
A very attractive woman, who was closer to his age, asked him dance. But Buffy warned him off and asked her to go outside. When the Slayer returned, she was alone and covered with a fine dust. His luck with women had been truly miserable lately.
The evening wore on and the Scoobies started to leave.
"Hey Slayer, me and Captain Spock here were going in search of a game of poker. Care to join us?"
"No. Thanks. I…I really have to get Dawn to bed."
Spike shrugged, "Your loss then."
Vampire and space traveler headed out, picking up a litter of kittens they found under a nearby house.
"You guys really play for kittens?"
"You got a problem with that?"
"Nope. Where I’ve been? Nothing really surprises me anymore."
The bar seemed oddly familiar to Crichton. Aliens, demons, of every description muttering curses and slurs about "the Human." Unfortunately, his translator microbes happened to decipher one particularly descriptive suggestion that would’ve been anatomically impossible for any species.
In the back room, a game had just ended and two of the players left in disgust.
"Mind if we join you?"
A big, blue and bumpy demon growled at the vampire. "This isn’t another of your human friends, is it, Spike?"
Annoyed, yet aware he’d been caught, he retorted. "No. This fella here is from an alternate Earth. Been travelin’ ‘round the galaxy he has."
The demons shrugged in agreement and the duo sat down to play.
One particularly wrinkly demon smiled at the astronaut, "By any chance have you been to the planet Solracgni? I’ve got some family there."
For a man who hadn’t seen the sun of his homeworld in over three years, one would’ve thought he’d welcome every tiny ray. Instead, John Crichton cursed its very existence. Groaning, he dragged himself out of the recliner in search of something to ease the throbbing in his head. "Johnny Boy, you should’ve listened to your momma. ‘Jack Daniels is a friend of Satan, not man!’" Giving up, he went to the washbasin, wet his face and brushed his teeth as best he could. Grabbing an open bag of chips, the only other food being blood, the man plopped back into the chair and turned on the television, vaguely aware of his roommate still asleep on the bed.
Crichton flipped channels until he found a news station. Another Bush was president. This was definitely not his Earth. Horrible things had happened in the US and the world was just as frelled up as it was when he’d left the first time. In local news, no one seemed to think the latest "mysterious deaths" were odd.
Bored and tired of wearing dirty clothes, John gathered up his flight suit and jeans loaned to him by Xander. Having won a couple of kittens in last night’s game, he’d managed to trade them in for some cash. Still, it wasn’t much.
While the laundry was washing, the space traveler wandered over to a nearby pizza joint. Pizza! He’d had dreams of pizza – weird cartoony dreams. But memories were nothing compared to the smell and taste of the real thing. John sighed with satisfaction. Coffee. Chocolate. Beer. Pizza. He’d had all of the things he missed the most - except for sex. And he definitely wasn’t getting any of that. Ice cream. Did Sunnydale have an ice cream shop? Changing quickly into now-clean clothes, the native Earther went in search.
John arrived back to the crypt in time to meet Buffy. This time, she knocked.
"You ready to go?"
"Just let me grab some tools."
"You need me for anything?"
Buffy looked at Spike and smiled, "No. But thank you. We’re meeting at the magic shop later if you’d like to come."
"I’ll have to check my calendar first, being real busy ‘n all."
The two humans left and headed for the spaceship.
John Crichton was once again half submerged in the cockpit of his Farscape module. Poking one eye and one arm out just long enough to grab a small tool, he asked the Slayer a question, "You need any help?"
"No." Grunt. "I’m fine thanks."
He heard the sound of fists hitting a punching bag, then a slicing noise followed by a groan of pain.
All of a sudden, his craft was rocked, causing his head to slam into a panel. "Hey! Watch it!"
Slice. Slice. Whoosh. Kick. Slam. More groaning.
Grunt. "John, if you wouldn’t mind?" Grunt.
"O.K. ready." The astronaut braced himself for the impact that quickly followed.
Punch. Punch. Punch. The sound of a tree branch snapping in two. A big sigh of relief.
The Commander emerged from the ship. "You get ‘em all?"
The Slayer brushed some dirt off her red leather pants. "I think so. Help me move the bodies?"
Later that evening at the Magic Box, Tara was going over with Crichton the details of the invisibility spell.
"So you take this crystal, put it into the pot, sprinkle on the powder, and recite the words I’ve written down for you."
"All while trying to overcome Earth’s gravity and slingshot around the planet?"
The Wiccan gave him a sympathetic smile, "Actually, by the time you reach the ionosphere, you should be invisible. Your part is just to keep the energy focused while we perform the main ritual in the field."
Buffy turned their attention to another part of the operation. "Willow. Spike. We’re going to need you two to keep the L’off at bay while the spell is going on. Can we count on you?"
"I’m with you Slayer."
"Spike, you said the Kir’an will start their ritual at midnight?"
"Great. We’ll meet back here at sunset. Any questions?" There were none and the group dispersed.
Commander John Crichton, astronaut, and native of a different Earth, spent his last day in the Milky Way galaxy enjoying all of the things he might not see again for a very very long time. He strolled through Sunnydale’s park and zoo. Took a spin on the carousel and listened to a man play guitar in the coffee shop. He ate pizza and chocolate, washing it down with a beer. When it was time to go, he went back to the crypt, changed into his flight suit, and strapped on Winona.
Entering the Magic Box, he was greeted with the sight of balloons and a sign reading, "Good Luck!"
Buffy took him by the arm, leading him to the table near the back of the store. Small, brightly wrapped gifts laid upon the table.
John started to protest. "You guys didn’t have to do this. It’s too much."
Willow shushed him, "Oh, like it’s everyday we get to meet a real live astronaut from an alternate Earth?" She handed him a pink box tied with a red bow. "Open mine first." It was a bag of coffee. "See - I sealed it up all night and tight, so it wouldn’t get all over the inside of your space ship."
He gave her a hug. "Thank you."
From Xander he received a package of Hershey bars, and from Anya a dollar bill – the symbol of American capitalism.
The space man opened Buffy and Dawn’s present last. It was a red Christmas stocking, trimmed in white with his name written out in glitter. "So Santa Claus will know where to find you."
John rubbed his face, fighting to hide his emotions. Only six days ago he’d been a stranger to these people. Not only had they’d taken him in as one of their own but given him a part of home. He’d remember them for the rest of his life.
Moving out of the shadows, Spike broke the mood. "Hate to interrupt your little Love Fest here, but we’d better get moving."
"Right." Crichton gathered his presents and placed them into a small zippered bag. It was time to go back.
The walk to the field was uneventful. Not a demon was in sight. A quick check of the ship proved that it was ready.
Xander was the first to give John a hug. "Take care of yourself, Space Man."
"You too. Good luck on your wedding."
Willow, Anya, Tara, and Buffy each had their own turns for hugs and "for luck" kisses.
Crichton looked at Spike.
"I don’t do hugs, mate." He tossed him his flask.
Crichton drank and threw it back. "Take care of her."
"If you take care of yours."
Commander John Crichton climbed into the cockpit of his module and strapped himself in. Tara handed him the magic items and made him rehearse one last time the words he would have say. The Scoobies backed away to a safe distance and formed a circle, the former Witch and Vampire, standing on the outside, acting as Protectors.
With a roar, the ship came to life and the chant began. The astronaut took one last look at Earth, then urged his ship slowly upwards. With one eye on the windshield and one eye on the monitors, John looked down into his lap long enough to put the crystal inside the clay pot. A hand managed to open up the vial of magic powder and pour it into the pot. Taking a deep breath, he began the spell. "I call upon the powers of light. I call upon thee to surround my vessel and hide it from all who may see it. I am the focus for those below. May their energy combine with mine. May our wish be granted. May my vessel be hidden. May my presence not show to those who watch. I thank the powers of light."
The Farscape module broke through the ionosphere. Solar flares. Where were the frelling solar flares?! Nervously, John began accelerating around the Earth, eyes glued to the monitors. There! The sun began its cosmic dance. Almost…almost…Perfect! The astronaut pulled hard on the throttle, urging the engines ever faster. A circle of blue appeared on the horizon. Seconds seemed to stretch for years as it grew, swirling, elongating. Crichton moved into the wormhole. A glowing red light appeared in its epicenter. Almost forgetting Tara’s warning, he yelled, "Let the spell be ended!" The glow engulfed the ship, once again, knocking the pilot unconscious.
"Commander. Commander John Crichton! Are you alright Commander?"
The familiar voice awoke the space traveler. "Pilot. Is that you buddy?"
"Yes, Commander. Moya has engaged tractors and is pulling you in."
Commander John Crichton, astronaut, and native of the planet Earth looked out his portside window. An enormous, glowing, brown, living ship blocked the nearby stars of a galaxy not yet discovered by his own race. "Whoooo hoooohhh!"
He’d made it. John Crichton was Home.