Seven years on, and I'm still reading it, and writing it, though not as much or as often as I'd like.
And now, on to the important stuff:
Title: It Ain't Kansas Either
Fandom: Pairing: Buffy/Stargate Atlantis: Spike/Xander, Sheppard/McKay.
Rating: R, eventually, maybe(?)
Concrit: Please. If you spot a typo or a grammar glitch, feel free to tell me in comments.
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: Spike and Xander get lost en route to Atlanta via a portal that really shouldn't have rippled like that...
Notes: I had this wacky idea for a crossover about five years ago, tweaking time so that the final season of Buffy and the first season of SGA overlapped, just enough... I wrote a couple of thousand words, and then wandered off in a museless fog and forgot about it. Until now.
Revived and improved for my (first) posting day fall_for_sx. Thanks to tabaqui for the encouragement and the read through. ♥
Fandom primers (rather tongue-in-cheek) for those who need 'em:
Set in the SoCal town of Sunnydale. Buffy is the One Girl is All the World, the Slayer (of vampires, and other supernatural beasties). Giles is her Watcher, the guy with the knowledge and the training to correctly utilise the weapon that is the Slayer. Except that's not really how he rolls. He mostly tries to keep Buffy out of trouble, along with her friends Willow - a witch and sometime computer geek whose spells have a habit of going wonky - and Xander, who is a bit of a demon magnet and tends to date them instead of 'normal' girls. (Okay, so he usually thinks they're normal girls at the beginning of the date, but by the end, they're either a mummy or a praying mantis or... you get the picture.)
There are many other characters, but the only one you really need to know about here is Spike. Spike, aka William the Bloody, is a vampire. Over 100 years old, hair bleached blond and gelled into immobility, he likes a smoke, his treasured leather duster and a good game of kitten poker. And, for the purposes of this story (and many others), he likes Xander. He also has a behaviour modification chip in his head, courtesy of a bunch of rather nasty US Army scientists. This means that if he hurts a human, to feed, or fight, even in self-defence, he is subjected to untold agony as the chip is wired into his nervous system and fires when provoked.
This chip is the reason he has been working with the Slayer and co instead of trying to kill them (most of the time).
Stargates were created by an Ancient race of aliens to provide near-instantaneous transportation between planets. A branch of the US military has been operating one of these gates for several years when the crazy-smart archaeologist who figured out how to use them in the first place suddenly realised that while a seven chevron dialling sequence (think digits in a phone number) would connect their gate to another planet in the Milky Way, an eight chevron sequence would connect to a whole new galaxy. And the sequence he's looking at belongs to Atlantis, which, it turns out, is in the Pegasus Galaxy. Quite a way aways.
It also turns out it takes a whole lot more power to dial long distance than it does to call a 'local' planet. An expedition is put together with volunteers who understand that there may not be a suitable power source at the other end that they can use to dial home. Dr Rodney McKay, PhD, PhD, a cranky genius, is one of those volunteers. And so, by chance application of slinky bottom to genetically-keyed alien super-chair, is disgraced Major John Sheppard of the USAF.
This story takes place not long after the expedition trundles through the stargate and into/onto Atlantis, an Ancient city in the middle of a huge ocean. They have a stargate but no energy to dial home. They are woefully under-equipped (for which we blame the writers) but they have John to be the hero (once he's killed his Commanding Officer, but that's not really important) and Rodney to save the day while bitching and snarking and declaring they're all doomed.
Oh, and there are vampires in this show too, but these are six foot tall gothic-dressed, super-strong humanoid catfish-looking vampires - the Wraith - who drain your lifeforce by pressing their feeding hand to your chest. As they feed, you age. And they can rape your mind while they're at it too, so now everyone's terrified they're going to learn about Earth, the 'All You Can Eat' buffet.
It Ain't Kansas Either
There was no warning of an incoming wormhole - no chevrons lit up one by one, no IDC came though, no radio crackled with transmissions. Nothing.
And then there was.
A poor, sickly grey-green imitation of a wormhole flashed to life and spat out two apparently human life forms, then just as quickly blinked out of existence before the gate technician could activate the shield. Instead, he hit the alarm.
The small team of marines on guard detail had their weapons drawn and aimed before the klaxon even sounded. If they knew there was something odd, something unnatural about what had just happened, they didn't show it. They were veterans of bizarre Stargate occurrences. They didn't even blink.
The unexpected visitors blinked. Repeatedly. The slightly shorter, leaner, meaner looking one snarled and shoved the taller, darker one behind him.
"Your little witch has really bollocksed it up this time, Harris. I don't know where the bloody hell this is, but you can bet your Babylon 5 collector plates it's not Atlanta."
Once the circle was complete, Willow stepped back and drew in a deep, calming breath.
"Okay, I'm ready."
Giles checked the chalk marks on the hardwood floor and gave her an approving glance. Willow took his nod as permission to continue. She began to chant, focussed on the rhythm and cadence of the portal spell, her best friend's hushed voice reassuring, almost soothing, in the background.
"- I'm telling you, Spike, the latest news at 'findingatlantis-dot-com' says there's a secret base buried under Antarctica! A guy who lives in New Zealand says that he's lost count of the number of flights that are going over his place heading south. There's nowhere else they could-"
This would be the fifth portal Xander and Spike had stepped through in the last three weeks in the hunt to find some way of defeating The First Evil, and Xander was getting kind of sick of this means of travelling, in more ways than one.
It had been interesting, the first time, to watch Willow work her magic and open a door to Istanbul in the middle of The Magic Shop, but after stepping through it, he'd dropped to his knees and puked up everything he'd eaten since a week last Tuesday. That had taken the shine right off the experience.
Now he was almost convinced he'd rather go by bus.
"-bloody military's probably got it under lock and key, luv. Even if you managed to get as far as Antarctica, they'd never let you see anything. Bastards are probably trying to find the perfect weapon to-"
"Atlantis, Spike! I wouldn't care if they held me at gunpoint if I could just go there and see it for myself!"
The air inside the carefully drawn protective circle finally started to shimmer, and Willow's words got louder and faster. The power she'd gathered for this spell was being sapped much more quickly and more brutally than she'd expected. After a long second of internal debate, she began to draw more from the atmosphere - the ambient magic of the Hellmouth. Giles wouldn't be happy, but if they could just get their hands on this book, it would be worth it - a foolproof way to kill The First.
Wave after wave of power, tinged with malevolence, a skin-crawling evil, began to flood through her. It raced up through the soles of her feet and in through the tips of her outstretched fingers. She could feel it seeping into every pore, tickling every nerve in her body. And it poured out though her mouth, riding on her words, getting stronger with every syllable, and she couldn't stop it.
Giles ignored Xander's excited chatter from ingrained habit, and focussed on the slowly forming portal. His first thought was that it looked somehow off - they didn't usually ripple like that. The vaguely nauseating motion was most certainly not enhanced by its dingy shade of slime mold green.
"Right then, we'll be off. Don't forget to have the bucket waiting this time, eh, Watcher? He had Count Chocula for breakfast, and that's going to make a hell of a mess."
And with that, Spike - the only ADHD vampire Giles had ever heard of - grabbed Xander's arm and yanked him into the portal, which snapped closed ominously behind them.
Fearing the worst, Giles turned to Willow, only to find her lying pale and lifeless on the floor.
"Wait, wait! Let me see if I've got this right. The two of you know a witch in California who can open wormholes with her mind, and, by mistake, instead of sending you to Atlanta to collect a magic book that can save the world, she sent you here. Yes, it's all perfectly obvious now."
Dr Rodney McKay turned to the leader of the Atlantis expedition. "Elizabeth, we're in the Twilight Zone. Either that or somebody's been playing in the locked-down labs again and opened a vial of something they shouldn't have." He tapped his ear.
"Radek? I need you to run some tests. Check the atmosphere for hallucinogens and other mind-altering substances. And you'd better add bio-weapons to that too. Do it now."
He turned his gaze back to the pair sitting across from him at the table, pausing to check - again - that Bates and his men still had their weapons at the ready. They didn't know who these people were or how they got here - magical explanations aside - but they were obviously insane and probably dangerous.
From the corner of his eye, Rodney saw John's - Major Sheppard's - eyebrows slide up into their 'Here he goes again' position, but he wilfully ignored it.
He opened his mouth to continue, but Elizabeth beat him to it.
"You're quite certain that this Willow person doesn't have access to a crystalline power source? And that you didn’t step through anything like a Stargate?"
Reflexively, Xander looked back over his shoulder, as though he could still see the huge arcing shape through the now closed doors of the conference room.
"It was just an everyday portal." He shrugged and looked at Spike, who frowned.
"It was a bit off, Xander. None of the others have been that colour, and it did that rippling thing. And then there was the way you threw up for half an hour. Never seen you go for that long before."
Everyone in the room politely ignored the sharp kick that Xander administered to Spike's Doc Martened ankle beneath the table. They also ignored his faint blush. Spike grinned, unrepentant.
"We stepped through a wonky portal and ended up here, wherever here might be. I don’t suppose you'd care to tell us where that is? We've answered all your questions polite enough."
Nobody pointed out that that wasn't exactly truthful. Spike had spent the time since stepping through the wormhole glaring daggers at everyone in uniform and sneering often. He hadn't volunteered much at all. Meanwhile, Harris - call me Xander - had babbled out a truly unbelievable explanation, citing magic portals, sacred books, and apocalyptic, world-ending evil. And he'd been remarkably consistent when repeating it, which would seem to mean that he'd either learned his cover story very well or that he believed it completely. Neither option was reassuring.
The whispered word came from Xander, much to the surprise, and suspicion, of the others.
"Spike, this is Atlantis. It has to be, remember? While Willow was doing her chanting thing, I was telling you about the secret base they've found in Antarctica." He looked around the table at purposefully blank faces.
"We're in Antarctica, aren't we? Aren't we? This is Atlantis, and we're under the ice and... Wow!" His gaze bounced from wall to floor to ceiling, fingertips trailing over the tabletop as though it was eggshell delicate. "Wow."
Xander missed the worried glances shared between the room's other occupants, but Spike didn't.
"Something tells me it's not that simple. We'd have been arrested and carted off by now if it was, isn't that right, Elizabeth? But you're not military, are you, pet? Even Major Spock over there looks to you for the last word on what to do."
John's hand made an abortive twitch towards the ear the British blond punk was sneering at, but managed to turn the reflexive action into a fairly smooth rearrangement of loose, long limbs. A tiny twitch of the twisted lips let him know he hadn't been entirely successful. John grinned.
"Doctor Weir - Elizabeth - is in charge of this facility, but as military commander I can easily have you arrested and carried off to the cells. We've found a fancy detention unit in one of the lower levels, if you'd prefer to do this there?"
A sharp elbow to the ribs kept Spike quiet, and Xander smiled uneasily.
"We've both had enough of being locked up for now, thanks." The inquisitive expressions his words had garnered had him replaying what he'd just said. "Ah, that - that came out wrong. I don't mean we're used to being arrested or anything, and we're not dangerous or..."
Spike growled, and Xander swatted him absently. "We're not! We just - got off the magic train at the wrong stop. If you'd just call Giles, he could explain this so much better than we can. We're just the physical labour part of the job. Go in, grab the book, make sure it doesn't manage to open itself, and get it back through the portal without losing any pages or letting the spells escape. Simple." He looked around the room again. "Or not."
Three hours later, everyone was still unsettled. Radek had informed them that the tests were all clear. Whatever was going on had nothing to do with drugs or biologicals, at least not in the air. Rodney had disappeared for an hour or so and come back stabbing viciously at the datapad in his hand. The diagnostics he'd run on the 'gate produced nothing but vague, anomalous data, nothing useful. He was not a happy scientist.
"Are you people still going on about magic? Do you have any idea how many physicists are rolling over in their graves while you spout this insane drivel? I can feel my brain cells dying in self-defence, just to get away from the absurdity of it all!"
Despite the volume, the wildly waving hands and the tight-lipped look of fury, nobody seemed to be more than quietly amused by McKay's outburst, but Xander drew back automatically, leaning sideways into Spike's personal space, and Spike shifted to accommodate him. John watched the interaction from the corner of his eye and stored the tiny snippet of information away for later.
"Don't you military wankers ever talk amongst yourselves? Your stupid army's known for years about magic and-" Xander's discreet little kick cut Spike off before he could get them into even deeper trouble. "-and stuff. Last I knew they had themselves a pet Chaos mage, unless they cut the poor bastard open to figure out how he worked. They certainly never shied away from a bit of vivisection before - it always seemed to get their blood pumping."
A brittle silence descended as Spike's words took root in everyone's mind. Then Rodney snapped his fingers with triumphant glee.
"Alternate realities! We already know they exist." The Atlanteans - Antarcticans? - all glanced fleetingly at Elizabeth, and Spike made a mental note to find out what that was all about.
"This... This portal-" Rodney practically spit the word out. "Was it reflective at all? Did this witch conjure some kind of mirror? I can maybe, maybe accept that magic exists in some form in another reality - some form of misinterpreted physics, of course."
Spike and Xander were shaking their heads before he'd even finished.
"Sorry." Xander really did look apologetic. "There was no reflection, just a dirty greenish patch of rippling air. Then we stepped through and came out here."
Rodney sighed deeply and sank back into his chair.
"I've got nothing. Whoever they are, they somehow managed to open a wormhole that bypassed every security protocol that's ever been installed in this system. And even if I could reconfigure the console to do a star sixty-nine, it wouldn't work because they didn’t engage the chevrons. We have no way of knowing where they came from, or who they are."
"Rodney, I'm pretty certain they came from where they say they did."
In explanation, John waved a hand over the contents of their pockets, heaped in sad little piles on the table between them.
Xander's wallet was open - his California driver's licence on display, and a thin fold of bills poking out of the battered brown leather. A tattered photo of him - several years younger - standing with an equally young and skinny grinning boy and a tiny, pigtailed redhead, had pride of place behind the clear plastic window.
Beside that was the ever-present pocket rubble. The half a dozen or so Jolly Rancher candies in various flavours and half a pack of cinnamon gum got Rodney's attention first. A crumpled Milky Way wrapper lay half-hidden beneath a dog-eared flyer for Sunnydale's Bar and Grill - '50% off if you can produce this coupon!' Next to that was a mishmash of loose change, pocket lint, nails and screws and empty pistachio shells, topped with a bunch of keys, and set neatly to one side was an unopened pack of Marlboro cigarettes and a plastic lighter in a hideous day-glo orange.
It all looked very - American.
The second collection was not quite as plebeian as the first. The twisted iron railroad spike was the first clue. The very illegal knives - all three of them - were the second.
Rodney's gaze skittered from them to John and back a few times, before John caved under the 'Are you insane?' expression on his face.
"Half a dozen P-90s in the hand beats a knife on the table every time, Rodney. And Mr Spike has-"
"It's just Spike, mate."
John tilted his head in acquiescence.
"Spike has promised not to play with his knives in polite company." He paused for a beat. "Or his spike."
Spike wiggled his eyebrows and leered at Rodney, and Xander swatted him again.
Rodney turned his attention back to the objects on the table and carefully didn't turn to look at John when he saw the three tubes of personal lubricant. A quick glance showed that Spike was still leering, but that he'd transferred his attention to Xander. Rodney continued his examination.
Between the weapons and the lube lay a rather odd collection.
A lock of braided hair, tied off at both ends with faded pink silk ribbons. It lay curled in on itself in a neat, chestnut spiral.
A half-empty bottle of NYX nail polish - black - bore long-hardened drips and streaks around the neck and shoulders.
A black leather wallet - no licence - contained a single five-dollar bill and an un-creased photograph of Xander with his arms around a young, lithe brunette. They were both grinning like loons.
A silver hip flask, which looked as though it had been through both World Wars and an elephant stampede, it was so battered and misshapen.
Three packets of Marlboro cigarettes - one opened and almost empty - and a scuffed steel Zippo.
A tangled nest of narrow leather thongs cradled what looked, to Rodney, to be an age-yellowed finger bone. His eyes skittered over that to the next item.
A keychain, bearing at least twenty different keys, varying in size and shape from a delicate twist of silver to a five inch long, gothic-looking sculpture in wrought iron.
Tucked away, almost hidden by the rest of the stuff, were a small, leather-bound book and a sleek, expensive-looking pen. More than anything else, those items piqued Rodney's curiosity.
He catalogued and cross-referenced every item in the time it took most people to blow their nose. When he was done, he huffed a resigned sigh.
"Okay, I'll accept that they're from-" He hastily swallowed the word 'Earth'. "-from home. But I'm still not sure they're from our reality." Rodney pinned Xander with a sharp blue stare. "Who's the President of the United States?"
"Oh, for..." Spike smacked Xander on the back of the head, and flinched. "It's President Hayes, you daft git."
"I knew that!" Xander's bottom lip pushed out in a subtle pout. "I wasn't expecting the question."
Rodney rapped his knuckles on the table, regaining their attention.
"Name one of the most recent Nobel Prize winners."
They both looked at him blankly.
"Fine. Who won the last World Series?"
"I'm not really into baseball-"
"Cricket's more my thing."
They answered simultaneously without actually giving Rodney what he wanted. He sighed loudly, and then twitched as John's elbow dug a hole between his ribs.
The look Rodney sent him let John know that he'd better know the answer to that question, because Rodney didn't. He winked his reply.
There was a moment of embarrassed silence.
"Spike reckons American Football-" Xander ignored Spike's derisive snort. "-is Rugby with sissy pads. We only watch soccer - real football - and cricket. Oh! And ice skating."
Rodney leaned forward hopefully.
Spike's expression was priceless, like he wanted to kill Xander, pull his leather jacket up over his head and disappear under the table all at once. John swallowed a grin and turned to see Rodney looking even more depressed than he had before.
Elizabeth intervened before anyone could ask another question.
"This is getting us nowhere, gentlemen. I suggest we adjourn for the evening. John, if you have no objections, I'll have our guests escorted to the rooms next to yours. I'd like you to arrange for someone to stand guard, and I'll see about having food delivered."
She turned a diplomatic smile on their 'guests'.
"Do either of you have any specific dietary requirements? Any allergies we should know about?"
Xander and Spike managed to compress a whole conversation into one indefinable glance before Xander spoke for them both.
"Something with plenty of iron would be good. And - and maybe something sweet?"
Elizabeth smiled and nodded, as though it was a perfectly usual request.
"Are either of you anaemic?" All eyes were on Spike's unusually pale complexion. "We have a medical staff on hand if you need attention. We could-"
"We'll be fine. Xander here just needs a bit of a boost every now and then." The hand he placed on Xander's closest shoulder was both proprietary and protective, and obviously so. "And we'll only be needing the one room, thanks all the same."
"Atlantis, Spike! I can't believe we're actua- Huh."
Xander had dragged Spike past the armed guard situated outside their room, mouth already off and running in full-on babble mode. Spike only started to take notice when the words abruptly stopped.
Unlocking his fingers from around Spike's wrist, Xander bounded across the room and brought his hand up to touch the oddly shaped window that had captured his attention.
"Okay. So, not Antarctica then."
Standing as close as he dared to the sunlight dappling the floor, Spike stared over Xander's shoulder. Bloody hell.
"Not unless someone hit the defrost button a while ago and didn't bother to inform the press."
The view was impressive, but also vaguely disturbing. The buildings visible from their vantage point - several hundred feet above ground, Spike estimated - looked like something from one of the sci-fi shows Xander was addicted to, all steel and glass, odd angles and overhangs and tiers upon tiers of balconies. And between the staggering arrays of shining towers...
The vast expanse of ocean, coupled with the almost imperceptible movement Spike had been trying not to notice since they'd somehow ended up on this not-quite-a-military-base, added up to only one thing in Spike's experience.
"We're afloat. This isn't just some fancy beachfront property the government have set up shop in; this whole place is shifting, not enough to get anyone seasick, I'd reckon, but I bet more than one of them had the queasies when they first got here."
Spike turned, studying the room's contents and design, the strange blocky shapes projecting from the walls and the narrow, embedded lights that looked like neon tubes but weren't - no barely audible buzz, not even a flicker.
"There's something off about all of this, Xander; this place, the ocean, the sunlight, the air. Everything. It smells wrong, tastes wrong, feels wrong. I've spent time in more than one hell dimension but I'm damned if they felt anywhere near as alien as this."
It wasn't that Xander wasn't listening because he was, kind of, but he knew Spike, and as long as Spike was talking and not shouting, he couldn't be in too much danger. That left him free to stare out of the window at the wet dream of sci-fi nerds everywhere. He was ninety percent sure - okay, maybe ninety-five - that the structure - floating city! - he was standing in was the coolest thing he'd seen since Babylon 5, and the only reason it wasn't the coolest was, you know, the whole Space Station bit.
"I wonder if the window op-"
The window opened silently, and Xander's jaw dropped.
"Voice-activated? How cool is that?"
"Yeah, cool. Now, can you...?"
"I wonder what else is? Door?"
The door slid open, revealing the stone-faced guard still standing outside. It snapped shut with alacrity, though Xander hadn't said a word. Neither of the room's occupants realised the significance.
Every light in the room grew momentarily brighter.
The furniture remained stubbornly inanimate, for which Spike was truly grateful, but a small section of the strangely sculpted wall near his hip slid out, revealing a rack filled with what looked like flattened chunks of clear Perspex, though Spike was fairly sure they weren't.
"Don't touch it!"
He spoke too late, but he didn't really know why he'd even bothered. Xander was one of those people who had to touch, even - especially - when they didn't know what it actually was that they were touching.
The flattened chunk of not-Perspex under Xander's hand flared bright enough to burn a negative image into Spike's retina, and then went dark, now looking as if a swirl of sooty smoke had been encapsulated in that brief moment of blinding light.
"Ooh, that can't be good."
Before Spike could respond - or clip Xander around the ear in a manner likely to cause him more pain than Xander while still being totally worth it - the door to the room slid open to admit one irate Dr Rodney McKay and one lounging-but-wary Major Sheppard.
"I told you you should have put them in the cell, but no. 'They're not prisoners, Rodney. They haven't done anything wrong, Rodney. They're just as stranded as we are, Rodney.' I should know better than to listen to you for even a moment."
With one last scowl, Rodney shifted his attention from Major Sheppard to the latest two problems to throw themselves under his feet. Spike reached out and tugged Xander behind him, out of the direct line of fire.
"What did you touch?"
Xander took a breath to answer, but Rodney was already staring at the open wall panel.
"That's not supposed to be there. Major, I thought we'd checked all of these rooms for-"
"We did." John smirked at Rodney's indignant sniff. "Every room was double-checked for tech and booby-traps before anyone was allowed to move in. Maybe we should ask our guests how they found... whatever that is." One eyebrow lifted in query as he studied the pair in front of him.
"I was just wondering what else was voice-activated, beyond the windows and the doors, and the- lights?"
Xander's voice trailed off as Major Sheppard stared at him for several tense moments before turning to look at Dr McKay.
"Voice-activated windows, Rodney. Did we know about those?"
"Voice-acti-? What? That's ridicu- Oh! Oh, you have got to be kidding me. You think he has the gene? What am I saying? Of course he has the gene. We'll have to have Carson do some tests on him, of course, but he already has the lab set up so that won't be a-"
Xander was still standing behind Spike and couldn't actually see his face, but the expressions on the faces of both Dr McKay and Major Sheppard - not to mention the Major's swiftly drawn weapon - when coupled with Dr McKay's mention of tests and a lab, could mean only one thing. Spike had vamped out and now everyone in the room knew why Xander had requested iron-rich food.
This could not end well.