More Things Change, More They Stay The Same
The whoosh of an opening Stargate filled the room, and General Landry watched through the viewing window, expecting to see a tired Xander and annoyed Faith, followed always by an imperturbable Teal’c. Instead he saw a tired and battered Xander, walk through carrying an obviously wounded Faith, who jerked her head away from his chest as they walked through, followed by a Teal’c who had a confused look on his face. But while there was pain and exhaustion on their faces there was no fear or anything else. So Landry only ordered Dr. Lam with a medical team to the gate room, and then headed down there himself.
“Hey General, they back?” A strangely cheerful Cameron asked; he had intercepted Landry in the hallway headed towards the gate room.
“They are, however they look a bit worse for wear.” The General replied, watching Mitchell’s reactions carefully. He still was feeling out exactly how this man thought, and was enjoying having him in his command.
“WHAT?” All the humor and good nature dropped from Mitchell and he was again the professional. “Are they okay?” Mitchell asked stepping up the pace to reach the gate room.
The General grinned a funny smile, “I suspect they will be just fine.”, as he walked into the room with Cameron. Carolyn had beaten both of them there, and was ordering a gurney for Faith.
“Xander report please. What happened?”
Xander settled Faith in his arms a bit differently so Dr. Lam could have better access to her leg while they waited for the gurney. With a wry smile he replied to both Cameron and Landry. “Well the place was nice and quiet like you said, no creatures bigger than a rabbit… though I do think mentioning the Richter 10 earthquakes might’ve been a thought. We were waiting for the gate to connect, and I would like to know what happened with that by the way, when Mother Nature decided we were bored and decided to fix it. Slayers might be good at reacting to stuff, but Mother Nature, bitch that she is, cheats, and dissolves the ground beneath your feet, it doesn’t seem to matter how good you’re at balance, if there isn’t a damn thing to stand on.”
Teal’c had been standing there quietly, but spoke up “So the female that bested you was Mother nature?” Not sure of the usage.
Xander grinned, “We call the essence of natural forces on planets by the nickname of Mother Nature, and she can be a bitch… especially when she has tornados, earthquakes, and hurricanes in her arsenal.”
“I see, then indeed a female did “kick your ass” as you put it.” Xander just laughed and focused on the General and Cameron again.
Both Cameron and Hank looked at them a bit disbelievingly. “You mean to say an Earthquake, broke her leg and did that to you?”, asked the General, nodding at Xanders’ torn up hands and various cuts and scratches.
“Nah the hands I did, trying to carry her up the hole that appeared ‘neath her feet, 75 feet down. Did I mention Slayers are heavy?”
“I heard that mister, don’t make me come over there.” Sniped back Faith as Dr. Lam was having her sent to the infirmary.
“And I want to see you shortly to look at those hands.” Snapped Dr. Lam, heading out the door with her patient.
“Wouldn’t dream of it… will be there in a bit Doc.” Something yellow flashed in Xander’s dark eye as he watched Faith go out of the room, then he turned back to the other two. “So that about covers it, slayer falls in hole, drag slayer out of hole, waiting for home to call, as their signal is busy.” Shrugging looking at the two.
“I see…” replied the General, part of him wondering how such a simple mission could get so complicated, Xander was starting to fit in here all too well. “And Daniel’s information?”
“Remember the comment about earthquakes… there ain’t no temple… at all.” Replied Xander with a shrug, “Hadn’t been for about six months from what I could tell from the grass growing over the site.”
All three men winced a bit, “Command decision” announced Landry, “You get to go find Daniel and tell him, just as soon as Dr. Lam takes care of your hands.”
Xander narrowed his eye at them, “I see how it is, throwing me to the wolves are you?”
A quick smile crossed the General’s face, and there was glee on Camerons’, while Teal’c just twitched his lips a bit. “Oh yes, there are some advantages to having rank. I will be happy to tell him you will be down to see him, after you have some scrapes taken care of.” With a slight smirk, the General turned and walked away.
Teal’c just shook his head slowly and nodded to Xander, “I will take your equipment to your rooms, so you may visit Dr. Lam and Daniel with out delay.” And turned and walked off at a steady pace.
That left Cameron there with barely contained glee, as Xander turned a dark look on him. “You do realize this means none of you’re safe, right?”
Cameron choked a bit “Hey what’d I do?”
A brilliant smile “You saw too much.” And Xander turned and walked away to see Dr. Lam and Faith.
Visiting Dr. Lam was relatively painless, a bit of blood and some antibiotics for his cuts, then Xander was in to see Faith.
“You did very well in setting the leg, and you got her back here in time, so that I could finish getting it set properly. There are drawbacks to her healing factor at times, and this is one of them. How long ago did she break her leg?”
Xander thought, counting up the time “About 12 hours total, she was unconscious for about 6 of them, and asleep for about 5 of the other.”
Dr. Lam looked at the x-ray in her hand again. “Well at least I have a base line, it takes about a week or so in most people before I start seeing the new bone growth to repair a break, hers is starting in a little over 12 hours. Now you know your time line both of you, get the bone set correctly in less than 12 hours or it might have to be re-broken.”
Xander and Faith both nodded, it was good information to have. “You can take off Xander, Faith you will be here for another few hours, while I get you in a cast, let it dry and take a cat scan, just to make sure you don’t have any bleeding. Okay?” The look she gave Faith said clearly it was not a choice she had, so Faith just nodded.
“K… I will come get her ‘bout ..” looking up at the clock to see what time it was. “1800, and I get to sign the cast first, after all, I carried her up out of that hole.”
Both women rolled their eyes at him and shooed him out.
Once he was gone Carolyn started working on the cast, talking to Faith about the earthquake. While she was in the middle of casting the leg, Faith asked “How much do you have to report to the brass about what we talk about?
Carolyn shot her a quick look, then went back to focusing on the cast. “Pretty much anything that is either not allowed or that I feel would affect your performance. Drug usage, depression, pregnancy, stuff like that.” Carolyn answered, working on the cast, giving Faith time to ask her question.
“Hmm.. what about birth control.” Faith asked, idly picking at the blanket on her lap.
“Nope.. what kind would you like?” Replied Lam, not batting an eye, but trying to remember when she had bet Faith and Xander would get together, and wondering who won that pool.
Xander picked at the torn skin on his palms as he approached Daniel’s office. Sighing he knocked on the slightly ajar door.
“Yeah.. come in..” replied a distracted voice.
Xander pushed the door open, greeted by the normal organized chaos of Daniel’s work space. “Hey Daniel.”
Daniel turned to look at Xander “Yes you’re back. Okay put the tapes of the writing over here by the computer, and the rubbings on the… why are your hands empty?”
Xander adopted a nonchalant attitude. For all that Faith and he might whine about Daniel and his wants, they had fallen just as in love with the scientist explorer as the rest of the SGC and hated to disappoint him. He just got that look on his face that made you feel like you had kicked a kitten. “Sorry.. no pics, no rubs, no nada.”
Daniel frowned, “I’m sure I gave you the right coordinates, and the building was there. Was there a problem? There weren’t any locals.”
Another nonchalant tsking sound, “Sorry, no locals, no building no nada.”
“Dammit, I knew I should have gone, would have avoided this whole thing, dammit we will have to go back and go to the right place this time. Xander, I really thought I could depend on you to find it, come on it’s a huge building in the middle of a valley, how could you miss it?”
Xander watched him get more and more upset, and finally lost it, and started laughing, which acted as a release valve, and suddenly all the stress and worry about Faith and getting home hit, and he couldn’t stop laughing.
Daniel froze in the middle of his rant looking at Xander quizzically for a long moment as he went into hysterical laughter. “Did I miss something?” Daniel asked hesitantly after waiting for the laughter to die down, though that took some time.
Wiping the tears from his face, and taking some deep breaths to get his breath back, Xander looked up at Daniel and replied, still laughing a bit. “We found where it was.. or use to be, prior to the earthquake that swallowed it whole.”
“EARTHQUAKE!!! You mean it is completely gone!!!” Daniel almost shouted looking at him.
“Yep, just like the one that hit Faith and I, and caused her to have a broken leg, and be unconscious for way too long.” Becoming a bit more serious and slowly standing up.
Daniel winced “I take it she is okay?”
“Yeah.. Doc is putting her in a cast now, so I came down to give you the news.”
Daniel sighed sitting down. “Dammit I was hoping that site would shed some light on some activities of the Ancients. That is it, I am never leaving a site to “come back later” some times the bloody site, isn’t there later!”
Xander started snickering and said softly “Daniel.. stop and think how you react, because otherwise… the pranking shall start.”
Daniel paused and reviewed what he had been saying, and sat down with a sigh. “A little overboard huh?”
“Oh your over the top complaints about losing info is legendary.. but.. we did look, and I am glad it happened while we were not there than while we were… a broken leg is bad enough, if we had been in the building when it fell, we would probably be dead, not much can handle a few tons of rock falling on them. Unless you’re a Horta.” Grinned Xander.
“Horta? Is that a new demon species?” Asked Daniel suddenly interested.
Xander sighed “You just sealed your fate on what you are getting for Xmas this year geek boy… I am headed for showers and to write my report. Sorry you lost the info.”
Daniel aware of a pop culture reference he had missed cringed, wondering what present he was now going to be tortured with, just nodded. “Yeah tell Faith I hope she’s okay… I’ll try and stop by and see her later.”
Xander just nodded and headed out the door. The emotional release the laughter had triggered had exhausted him, and now all he wanted was shower, sleep, and Faith in that order. The rest he would deal with later.
A half hour later, Xander crawled out of the hot shower, and lay down on his bed. Glancing at the clock he saw he still had three hours left before the Doc was going to let Faith go, enough time for a nap, one he really needed, then get Faith and food, she was going to be starving also. With that decided, he leaned over, set the alarm for two hours, then laid back and promptly fell asleep.
Once his dreams hit, there was a hyena, lolling in front of him with the smuggest expression he had ever seen on an animal. Eyes narrowing he looked at her, “I wasn’t aware hyena’s knew how to gloat.”
A low growl of laughter ~not gloat content, now get pups and grow pack~
“Whoa… slow down… we are not anywhere near that.” Protested Xander holding up his hands. “Heck I don’t even know if Faith wants pup.. I mean kids.” Xander said shaking his head. “I just am trying to figure out how we are going to work this, any family stuff is far down the line.”
Lady growled her discontentment. ~pups good, bring family close, bond you~
“Yeah well… there are lots of things to come first… like this war with the Ori? I don’t wanna bring any pups or kids into this until it has been resolved. And Faith is a warrior, you would have me take her out of the battle for kids?” Arch voice looking at hyena.
The hyena slumped and growled ~speak good, no like, but yes… kill enemies first, then pups~
A strangely soft smile crossed Xander’s face and he leaned down to pet her. “Let’s just try and treat her the way she should be treated first, then worry about the rest.. k?”
A growl of assent, leaning into the touch, the rumbling a comfort as in the mindscape he fell asleep on her flank.
The alarm jerked him awake and he groaned. Nowhere near enough sleep, but it would do. Faith, he needed to go get Faith.
Splashing water on his face, and brushing his teeth quickly he headed down to the infirmary, focusing only on short term issues for right now; Faith, food, report, more sleep.
He came across Dr. Lam headed back into the infirmary, a rather sour look on her face.
“Hey Doc, something wrong?” Worry flashing through him.
Carolyn looked up at him startled, she was a bit annoyed, she had gone to check on the bet for when Xander and Faith were getting together, to find out the General had already spilled the beans and that Walter had won both pots. He picked the Where – First Solo Mission, and When – getting the rough week time frames dead on. It was almost like he knew things he just shouldn’t have been able to know. Xander’s question startled her and she looked up an amused smile on her face when she saw him. “Nope.. just annoyed with the crap that comes with working here sometimes. Come on, she is probably chomping at my tables she has been complaining of absolute starvation.”
Faith was pacing the room, a dark purple cast on her leg, her face lit up when she saw Xander, then she hurriedly schooled it into normal reaction, completely missing the doc’s grin. “’bout time pirate, I was beginning to think I was going to have to eat the bedpans, I am starving.”
“Hey that is my purpose in being here, to bring you to the wonderful place they call a café-a-teri-a… it even has blue jello.” Looking around for a wheelchair. “So where is the pushy thing you get to ride in?”
Carolyn snorted. “She refuses, was all I could do to get her to agree to a crutch for the first few days.”
Xander looked at Faith with a huge puppy dog eye. “What.. no getting to pushing you tearing through the corridor’s? No wheelchair races? No using the stargate ramp as a jump? Please???” Begging he fell to his knees in front of her, pouted lips and all.
Faith cracked up, he looked so pitiful, and was so sweet, she didn’t even mind that he was sweet talking her. “Okay, okay.. anything to get the puppy dog eyes to go away.. Doc… a chariot if you please.” Giving in to him with amusement, and starting to laugh as Xander jumped up.
“Yes I get to be a Faith pusher… wait.. that didn’t sound right.”
Carolyn Lam by this point was laughing, knowing Xander had made it up all on the spot, mainly to take care of her patient, but she had to give credit to both of them for playing the game so well. “One chariot, here you go… please try to keep it under 20 in the halls?”
“Yes O Doctore!” Saluted Xander as he pushed Faith out into the hall, heading for the all important food.
Once out of the door and down the hall a bit, the act faded and he looked down at Faith. “So gorgeous, you really okay?”
Faith nodded, a bit of her relaxing hearing the tenderness in his voice. “Yeah.. I should be off crutches in a week, and out of the cast in about three. Doc said it was ‘bout three times as fast as most, so… doing good. ‘parently you did a bang up job setting the bone, so there was nothing to redo, for which I am more than thankful.. breaking hurts, breaking twice hurts more.” Grinning up at him.
“Good! So I figure food, then… um.. your quarters to talk this over a bit before it becomes common knowledge?” Asked Xander trying to keep it light.
Faith winked, she had known they had to talk this change over, they might not be military but this was a military base, and as such they had to take certain things into account. “Yep.. food first, swear you would think I haven’t eaten in like 20 hours I am so hungry.”
Xander thought as he pushed. “I think it is closer to 24.”
“Argh… hurry.. food.. I am wasting away!!!” Whined Faith as he pushed her into the cafeteria.
Both of them were met with grins and jibes of “Hm.. took Mother Nature herself to take you down Faith.” Or “What, there wasn’t trouble there, so you had to wait for the earth to move?” All in all everyone was teasing and smiling at them and glad they were okay.
Once seated, Cameron and Sam found them, each dropping a light snack down in front and taking a seat, where they proceeded to pry out all the information about their time on planet, both kinda relieved it was so simple as a natural earthquake, and bummed that it had not been anything else exotic. At this point Xander and Faith demanded to know what was going on at SGC that had prevented them from coming back. Both very disappointed at what they had missed.
“What? I missed multiple Teal’c’s and Camerons’ to drool over.. okay this just isn’t fair.” Whined Faith, her hand covertly squeezing Xander’s leg under the table to let him know she was teasing.
“Hey how do you think I feel.. not only did I miss all the eye candy of multiple Sam Carters, but I missed getting to see this Doc Fraiser they all talk about.” Xander pouted, with an exaggerated expression. Both Cameron and Sam blushed and laughed, and the conversation quickly changed to a few up coming missions.
By the time they had finished dinner, with Faith inhaling twice her usual amount much to Sam’s disgust and envy, it was late and Faith was beyond tired. Xander was very tempted to just tuck her into bed, but they both needed to cover this.
Once back at her quarters, with Faith tucked under the covers, the door closed and locked, Xander sat down on the bed. “So… you mean what ya said, ‘bout loving me?” Trying to keep the hope out of his voice.
Faith reached up gently stroking his face. “I think I have been falling for you for a while, the proof’s probably in the fact I haven’t jumped ya again…. This time I want it to be real, not just a quick fuck.”
A slow smiled spread across Xander’s face and Faith almost gasped at how it changed this man into a thing of beauty, and he leaned forward cupping her face gently and kissed, her. Slow and deep, conveying his love for her, the fact that he wanted her, all in this one kiss. Faith rarely kissed, it was too personal, but this time she fell into the kiss, fell into the love he had for her and felt cherished.
When the kiss ended both were flushed and looking at each other, wanting. But in unison, they shook their heads. “Slowly.. we are doing this right.” Stated Xander, love and regret in his voice.
“Ya.. we are.” Leaning close to kiss him softly. “So… how much do we show out there?”
Xander leaned back thinking, Soldier feeding regs into his mind. “Well we ain’t military but there is a reason why they don’t let people on teams date. So.. .while I don’t want to give you up and I won’t, but I refuse to let you start going offworld without me, I don’t think I’d be able to handle that. So I think that outside this room.. we stay friends and quasi watcher/slayer relationship. But in here and off base… I get to show you how much I love you.”
Faith’s heart stopped. It was the first time he had said he loved her, to her, not just rambling. A slow smile spread. “I think I can live with that… outside we are just us.. elsewhere we can be a we…. Got it.” Grinning and leaning forward for a kiss.
Xander grinned “Now that that is settled Ms. Revere, next weekend we have off, after you are up and fit as a Slayer.. would you go on a date with me?”, with a hopeful tone in his voice.
Laughter bubbled up, and Faith knew she had made the right choice. “I would love to.”
Xander leaned in for a kiss, ignoring the shouts of ~way to go!~ and ~mate good!~ in his head.
Three long weeks of Faith driving everyone up the wall with her cast. First she made just about everyone on the base sign it, that was the first week. The second had Dr. Lam threatening to tranq her if she didn’t calm down, but she was climbing the walls. Xander just watched and snickered, trying not to show his amused love, and kept her busy in the training room doing seated combat drills, or immobilized. Teal’c joined in on these, liking the idea of training how to fight when injured.
In between keeping Faith distracted, and trying to take this whole relationship slow, unaware of the amusement of the rest of the base, Xander had broached the idea of EMT certification with Dr. Lam and the General, pointing out that Slayers often can’t wait to get back to SGC as they heal too fast, and the basic good sense of having an medically trained person on missions where people are getting shot. Neither of them was a particularly hard sell, and they set up classes with the nurses, and found available internet courses for the basics. A few others decided this was a good idea so Xander quickly found himself with about five other people from other teams working towards EMT.
But right about the time the EMT started going, Faith finally got her cast off, much to the relief of everyone on the base. They had learned that a bored slayer was dangerous, and everyone was very glad she was finally fully mobile again. But with Xander busy with his studies, and Teal’c very stressed about the current state of the Jaffa Council, had everyone on edge, especially with the vote for democracy coming up soon. Faith was at a major lose end. However Teal’c made a suggestion.
“SlayerFaith is one of the best warriors I have ever seen, however she needs more partners to match her skill level. I believe that once her fighting skills are proven, the Sodan would be honored to have her come and train with them, they would see it as a challenge to meet her at her level.” This idea was met with nods and pure glee from Faith, who was going a bit stir crazy not having anyone to really go all out against.
Plans were made for Faith to spend a week in the Sodan camp, while Xander kept on studying. EMT was a lot more work than he had anticipated and more than once he regretted sleeping through the majority of Chemistry and Biology in high school. But every time he got too depressed, he just remembered Faith laying there, leg broken and unconscious and not knowing what to do. That would get him up and talking to the Doc, or the nurses, or hunting down Sam to ask questions about concepts he just didn’t get.
(Authors Note: -just FYI so you know what he is trying to do
· First Responders – 40 hours of training
· EMT-Basics – 110 hours of training
· EMT-Intermediates – 200 to 400 hours of training
· Paramedics – 1,000 or more hours of training)
Xander was aiming for an Intermediate, he hoped in the next couple years to get to the paramedic level, but that was time he wasn’t sure they had right now. The three weeks it took Faith to get fully mobile again, he managed to get all the First responder criteria down and pass the test with flying colors. But he was struggling with the Basic level especially with Faith needing something to distract her, once she headed to the Sodan for training, Xander dove in full force, making people compare him to Daniel with his focus, something that would have amazed Buffy and Giles, but Willow had seen this side of him before, whenever some hurt her, the single mindedness to make them pay had appeared. This time he was focused on protecting someone he loved.
As he worked on this he dropped an email to Giles. Willow and Dawn he talked to almost weekly via the email, Buffy only about once a month, but Giles it was always work related. Nothing changed with this email.
Yo G-Man, how goes the work with the lovely ladies? Hey had an idea I wanted to rec about watchers. Faith got hurt a while back, she is okay so no stressing, but I have never in my life felt as helpless as I did seeing her lying there, not waking up, hurt and bleeding. I don’t want to ever feel that way again. So… currently working on getting an EMT cert, and I figure that should be something almost all Watchers should have… nothing hurts worse than seeing your slayer laying there and you don’t know what to do. Don’t give me no money woes, we both know nothing is worth losing one of our girls…
Just think about it.. give my love the ladies.
It was a day or so before the reply, but that was enough o make Xander grin in relief and laugh.
Even in email you insist on addressing me by the infernal name, one would think you enjoyed my reaction from how much you use it. However, regardless of you lack of proper etiquette, your idea is in fact a good one. We have almost gotten everything settled, and yes that means I will soon find time to talk with your Dr. Jackson, and I think that would be an excellent expenditure.
Thank you for the idea, take care of your Slayer.
That left him snickering, but also relieved at the hope that no slayer would have to live with badly set bones. With new energy, feeling like for once he was paving the way, he through himself back into study.
Xander was about halfway through the Basic level when the overhead speaks announced “OFFWORLD ACTIVATION.” Xander looked at the clock “Shit.. that’s Faith.” He was up and running to the gate room, just sliding in as she walked through the ring.
Her appearance elicited a few whistles from various quarters, while Xander was just working on not drooling. A solid week of pushing herself had given her a nice healthy glow, and taut muscles, which were evidenced by the leather halter and skin tight leather leggings she was wearing, clothes she had not had when she left. Trying hard to tamp down the desire to take her in his arms, and the other desire to growl at the soldier teasing her with how hot she looked, he strove for a causal remark. “Heya, glad to have you back, looks like the Sodan’s appreciated you.”
She laughed as she stalked down the ramp carrying a new staff, “Well lets see, I got three offers to knock boots, and four offers of marriage. Only one guy made a comment about my ‘producing’ good children… “ She smiled that sweet deadly smile and talking to her audience “After I cleaned the ring with him, no one else dared.” The various personnel snickered as she walked out with Xander. “But I had to refuse them all, after all my heart is taken by… “ winking at Xander. “my calling…” Laughing as they walked out.
“Glad you enjoyed, and even more glad you didn’t take them up on their offers.”
Faith wrinkled her nose. “Nah.. it was fun and all, but tell ya you ain’t getting me to live nowhere permanent that doesn’t have hot running water and malls.”
Xander laughed shaking his head, seemed like all slayers had a taste for shopping also.
Headed down the hall with Faith, going over her trip they ran across Cameron. “Hey what’s up Mitchell?”
Mitchell had a dark frustrated look on his face, and instantly they both knew something was wrong. “Teal’c is missing, we think Ba’al has him.”
Both Xander and Faith went on alert “You guys going to need help going to rescue Teal’c? We can be ready in 10 minutes.” Xander wanted to go help, and was frustrated with his own preoccupation that he had not noticed Teal’c had missed one of their training sessions.
Cameron looked at him distracted; he had been kinda off lately., but a look of hope cleared as something occurred to him. “Teal’c…. no but you and Faith could do me a huge favor.” He fell in with them walking down the hall. “Look I got a friend.. he shoulda had this gig… but he got hurt in a mission with me and lost the spot. Well.. now he is dying.. from that injury. I got permission to use that memory device and let him see all the stuff I have done.. but I can’t stay.. Teal’c… is more important, he might be dying, but Bryce is dying and nothing can change that.. but.. you and Faith.. could you go… be with him… say good bye for me… you are in my memories so he will know you, and might give him a smile to meet a gorgeous babe that can kick his butt.”
Xander looked at him, surprised and vaguely honored, he glanced at Faith who nodded. She knew what it was like to be the one left behind, prison had taught her compassion in a weird way. “Sure… give us the details and we… we will say goodbye.”
Looking like a huge load had just been lifted from him Mitchell dug a piece of paper out of his pocket and scribbled everything down. “I will try to be back in time, but if not… be there… okay?” Both of them nodded, then Mitchell was gone.
They took time to change, Faith dressing in her typical leather and tank top, but brought along an over-shirt, she didn’t want to cause any heart attacks.
They headed to the hospital, hoping they weren’t too late, but Bryce was sitting there, lost in the memories, so they took a seat, playing Name that Demon while they waited.
It wasn’t too long, when the machine beeped, and Bryce shook his head, eyes opening, then focusing on them, narrowing. “Wait I remember you two… you are in Cam’s memories… you’re her… the slaying girl?” Focusing on Faith.
“See.. you ALWAYS get top billing, what am I chopped liver?” Groused Xander with a smile at Bryce. The door was shut and Faith would hear anyone before they could get close.
Bryce blinked focusing on Xander, “You.. you’re the one that popped into the middle of a secure base, and won’t tell anyone how.”
“That’s me.. but I want to point out I did tell them, they just refused to believe.”
Bryce grinned “Cam likes you…. Faith…” He turned and looked at her, then grinned the grin of a kid who is about to tell a secret. “He would love to date you, but frankly knows you can snap him in half, so he isn’t about to ask.”
Faith started laughing, and winked at Xander. “Too bad he lost his chance, when I was with the Sodan, they weren’t too scared to ask… even if I could kick their asses. You snooze… you lose.”
All of them laughed, and the conversation became Xander and Faith regaling Bryce with stories of life on the Hellmouth. Sticking mostly to the funny and unbelievable ones. They had been talking, enjoying the chance to talk about stuff with someone they did not see everyday, when Bryce winced, and Xander saw his pupil dilate.
“Ow… that hurts.” Bryce muttered rubbing his head. “Did it get dark in here all of a sudden.”
Xander smiled a bit sadly. “Nope.. just that nasty wound is catching up with you, guess you will have to say Hi to Cordy for me, on the other side okay?”
Bryce nodded, his speech slurring. “Will do… th..thanks…fer….being….heeere…” He sagged a little and the alarm went off.
Faith moved out of the way and Dr. Kelly came bustling into the room, flashing a light in Bryces’ eyes, then looking at the monitor. She shook her head. “It cut the vessel… he just bleed out. Tell Cameron I’m sorry.”
Faith and Xander nodded, getting up. Faith walked over to Bryce and gently kissed his cheek. “Wait for me on the other side, I promise to bring lots of new stories with me.”
Xander held Bryce’s hand for a moment, “Tell Cordy I miss her.”
Then they nodded at Dr. Kelly, picked up the machine and headed out to the car. When they got in, Faith spoke. “Don’t go right back, go someplace quiet, where there are no people.”
Xander nodded wordlessly and pointed the car to an overlook that was rarely used except at night by local teens. He parked the car and they both got out, he sat on the hood while Faith walked a little distance away. She tilted her head back and screamed, raw primal rage and sorrow. When she was done, she walked over to his waiting arms. “I am so tired of people dying.”
Xander smiled softly holding her close. “He was career military, we are lifetime warriors, death is what we face daily. He died knowing he’d be missed, and had friends to say good-bye, I can only pray we’re that lucky when we lose that race.”
Faith raised a dry face to him kissing him gently. “If I have to travel the galaxy alone, I won’t let you die without me there by your side, asking you to wait until I can join you.”
Xander smiled and kissed her again. “Who ever goes first, will always wait for the other, you will just have the three of us waiting for you, or three rushing to join you when it’s our time.”
Neither was talking about dying any sooner than they had to, but acknowledging that death was a part of the life they led, and when they found death they would wait until the other was caught as well.
They sat there for a long time, watching the sunset, and thinking of all the ones lost, a litany running through their minds of friends and loved ones they would not see again this side of death.
Breakfast was calling his name in a nice loud voice, and Xander had every intention of answering. He was running really late due to a work out, and was scared he was going to miss the last serving. Faith was going to meet him there, she had wanted a shower first. Mouth watering at the idea of hash browns and sausages, he almost walked through Mitchell, who was walking down the hall with Sam.
Swerving violently he avoided them. “Guys, you know paying attention while you walk is a good thing.” Shaking his head and headed to the cafeteria.
Cameron and Sam jerked to a stop. “Did Xander just talk to us?” Demanded Cameron.
“I think so… Xander.. Xander!” Yelled Sam, as Xander walked away, still thinking about piles of bacon.
Xander did not react still walking forward no matter how hard they yelled. Frowning Mitchell ran to intersect him, waving his arms wildly. Xander looked up and blinked. “Yo dude, sorry I snapped at you, but you are between a man and his stomach.. or at least the filling there of.” Xander started to go around Cameron, but stopped as Cameron moved to intercept him. “What?!?!” A bit exasperated, he finally focused on Cameron’s moving mouth. “Oh funny.. hah hah mime jokes. Not… don’t leave your day job.”
Cameron began waving even wilder and went to punch Xander on the shoulder. Xander stood waiting for the hit, wondering what his game was, then yelped and jumped back. “What the fuck was that? Your hand just went through me… “ He looked up to see the smirk on both Cameron and Sam’s faces. “Say something.” Xander demanded, and both of them started talking energetically, and Xander heard not a word.
Finally he held up his hands “Okay, okay, I get it, I can see you, can’t touch you..” Xander trailed off as an airman, looking at him funny, walked right through Sam. He swallowed hard. “And apparently no one else can see you… please please tell me.. or nod your heads.. you aren’t the first evil are you?”
Sam and Mitchell looked at each other “Are we suppose to answer yes or no to that question?”
Sam shrugged, “I have no idea.” She shook her head the negative, and as Xander sagged with a bit of relief. “I guess that was the right answer.”
Xander stood looking at them and talking out loud, “Well I assume you can hear me, and since my sign language is mostly rude gestures.. that is out.” He was standing there staring at them when Faith walked up.
“Hey.. thought we were meeting in the cafeteria?”
“Faith.. tell me what do you see?”
Faith looked at him funny, rubbing her arms up and down. “You standing in the middle of the hallway making us miss last serving.” She shook suddenly. “Dang, feels like bugs are crawling on my skin.” Glancing down at her arms with a frown.
“So.. you don’t see anyone standing around with me?” Xander asked in a carefully neutral tone.
“Um.. NO… cause there isn’t anyone.. come on can we go eat??? I am starving.. slayer metabolism remember?” Asked Faith, still rubbing her arms.
“Mitchell.. you wanna pass through her or hit her or something?” Xander said to the air idly.
“Xander what are you…. AARGH!” Faith jumped back five feet, almost taking out a passing service personnel. “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?”
“Hmmph.” Cameron had walked through Faith, something no one else had reacted to, and Faith reacted as if scalded by hot water. “That was Mitchell walking through you…. Very cool…”
Faith glared at him and glared around “What are you talking about.”
Xander shrugged, “Sam and Cameron, standing right there, but I can see them, and you can feel them… but neither of us can hear them.”
A long slow blink “So no breakfast for you huh?”
“Yeah.. no breakfast… “ Xander sighed “Okay okay.. headed for brass finding.”
Faith took off, she was starving, her metabolism did not do well missing meals. “Yell if you need me, but right now all they are doing is driving me up the wall.” Casting a glare towards where she could feel Sam and Cam.
Xander started looking and finally found Landry in Sam’s lab arguing with Dr. Lee as to what happened. “Dr. Lee… I am well aware of the fact they were here when there was a flash of light, the question is where are they now?”
“Standing in the corner rolling their eyes at you?” Remarked Xander leaning in the doorway, hungry and grumpy, and rolling his eye at the faces Mitchell was making.
“WHAT?!”, Demanded General Landry, turning and looking in the corner and seeing absolutely nothing.
“Yea.. apparently I am the only person that can see them.. though Faith can feel them, gives her the absolute skin crawly sensation, and oh Mitchell.. Faith says you walk through her again, she is treating you to a special training session when she can lay hands on you again.” Xander tried hard not to laugh as Cameron paled and quit making faces, ignoring Sam’s snickers.
The General and Dr. Lee looked at him for a long moment, not really believing. Xander sighed, “Yeesh and you guys do this all the time? Fine.. I can’t hear them, but turn around and hold up a number of fingers, Cam or Sam will copy you and I will tell you.” Highly bored Xander rattled off the numbers that Cam held up, Landry and Lee turned around to look at him. “Do you believe now? Good.. leaving now.” Xander turned to walk out of the room.
“Wait, we need you here so we can figure out what is going on. I think they were working on this device here.” Dr. Lee said pointing to the ancient device found in the Arthur’s Tomb.
“Well I can’t read that, so get Daniel in here, and I will be back in a b…” about then Daniel walked in and Xander sagged against the wall. “Never mind.. I am going to starve to death.” He sighed.
Daniel looked at them curiously “Has anyone found Sam and Cameron yet?”
Xander answered wearily leaning up against the far side of the room. “Yeah.. they are over in the corner looking very happy to see you.. in fact I think Cameron is asking you to marry him.”
Cameron jumped back up from his knees where he had fallen to them thanking God someone intelligent had showed up and glared at Xander, who just stuck out his tongue at him. Cameron laughed “Is it just me or do you think this is not where he wants to be at the moment?”, he asked Sam.
She laughed “I think we are going to owe him a case of twinkies when this is done.”
Daniel was quickly caught up to speed on what was going on, and that Xander could see them. He stood there looking at the device. “Dr. Lee did you find anything around it?”
Dr. Lee shrugged “Only some lepton radiation, but such a small amount I was not worried about it.”
Daniel paled “They side stepped into another dimension. They are here but not in the same space time.”
Xander perked up “Cool, you know what is going on so I can leave.” Headed for the door his stomach was threatening to go on strike.
“Nope.. need you here to help me communicate with them. We need to figure out what happened.” Replied General Landry, and Daniel and Dr. Lee nodded in unison.
“Sorry Xander, but since you can see them, you can help.” Replied Daniel.
With a groan Xander sagged against the wall, his stomach growling. “Okay.. ask away.”
The next hour was spent with them discovering the display on the Ancients device, and Xander telling them what symbol was next, while Dr. Lee fiddled with the power device. Xander had taken to pacing up and down the room. He had written down the symbols in order, and Daniel was busy trying to work out the syntax as Xander paced.
General Landry stopped by “You don’t have this fixed yet?”
“Um.. no.. “ admitted Dr. Lee, “But I think I am close.”
The General sighed “Okay there has been a problem over with the Sodan, and Teal’c and a team had gone over to help them but has not reported back, I was hoping that Cameron would be free to assist in the team going now, but apparently not. Let me know when you have something.” He turned and strode out of the room.
Daniel nodded silently, as he focused on the symbols, while Xander was still pacing on the backside of the room. No one noticed Cameron slipping out the door. The next hour passed with Daniel getting clarification as to what symbols Xander could see, and the following screens.
Dr. Lee spoke up. “I think I have it, watch!” and pressed a button there was a flash of light. Dr. Lee looked around “Um… Dr. Jackson?”
Xander on the other side of the room, still sulking from sheer hunger, looked up at that, and saw a very disgruntled Daniel and Sam conversing, and Dr. Lee looking around blankly. With a sigh he spoke up “You phased him out. At least he can read the stuff now by himself.” Xander looked around “Hey… were did Cameron go?” Warily watching Dr. Lee to make sure he was not going to touch anything Xander headed over to Sam and Daniel. “Hey where is Cam?”
Sam looked sheepish, and pointed to the door. Xander sighed “Let me guess, Sodan… help Teal’c?” She nodded. Xander rolled his eye, “Anyone want to take a bet that Faith went with?”
Both Daniel and Sam smiled at him shook their heads and went back to discussing the device, though Xander did notice the next screen pop up and a gate address appear. “Okay, I am here.” Another loud rumble from his belly and Xander sighed and wrote down the gate address. Working quietly as he copied everything Daniel pointed at, unable to hear the very intense discussion Daniel and Sam were having. Most of him now worried about what Faith was getting into with out him there.
Xander was beginning to stress as time went by and they heard nothing. Finally Dr. Lee exclaimed “I think I have it, but… there is only enough energy for one attempt.”
Xander frowned “But Cameron isn’t here, will it reach him?”
Dr. Lee sighed “I don’t know, but the energy is draining, I have to try it now… or you may be their interpreter for a very long time.”
Xander watched Sam and Daniel gesture animatedly, then sighed and turned his back. “They say do it.” Completely ignoring all their wait and stop signals.
Dr. Lee pressed a button on his laptop, a flash of light and there stood Daniel and Sam glaring at Xander. “We told you to wait, we weren’t done studying it!?!?!?”
Xander looked at them unrepentantly. “You didn’t have time, and you are needed here, Faith and Cameron are not back yet, and I am STARVING! Now lets go make sure Mitchell is okay and maybe I can find some food.” With a growling stomach all of them could hear he marched out of the lab to the gate room, worry about Faith eating at him more than the hunger.
It took two hours, two long fretful hours, until word came back that all three of them, Faith, Teal’c, and Cameron were fine. When the gate finally opened there were three very annoyed people standing at the bottom of the ramp.
Landry and Sam glared at Cameron, while a narrow eyed Xander glared at Faith. Both Cameron and Faith paused looking at each other.
“Um… I am thinking it was safer fighting Volnek than facing them.” Muttered Cameron to Faith as they slowly walked down.
“Yeah… I’m agreeing.”
Teal’c walked down unperturbed nodded at Landry. “The problem is… resolved, there were however grave losses for the Sodan.”
Landry nodded absently “Thank you Teal’c please prepare a report for the ramifications of these losses.” Never taking his eyes of Cameron, who swallowed, pulling at his collar a bit. “Colonel, I believe you have some explaining to do about leaving the planet with out permission?”
Cameron choked “Well umm. Sir.. I..” Their voices faded Cameron trying desperately to completely justify his actions, with Sam pointing out that a senior officer advised him not to go.
Faith was envious, she was pretty sure his dressing down was going to hurt less than hers. “Um.. Hey Xan.”
Arms still crossed, eye never leaving her face. “And just what did you think you were accomplishing by leaving me here and not letting me know?”
She shuffled her feet a little. “I was worried ‘bout Teal’c then I felt that creepy crawly sensation, and I know Cam was going too.. so.. I went with the flow, and didn’t have time to let you know.”
Xander looked at her unimpressed. “And if you had been hurt I would have been here… unable to help you.”
Faith paled a bit, remembering their conversation, but tried to bluff it out. “Please… I was fine, no hurting involved.”
A tilted head and arched brow was her response “Last time I checked anything could happen.. and you could have been gone… and I would not have been able to say goodbye.” His voice deathly quiet.
Coldness filled her at the thought of not getting to say goodbye and her defenses collapsed. “Promise Xander, won’t ever leave without telling you.. if I can… “
Xander looked at her necklace pointedly. “Did you forget you had a communicator?”
Faith looked down at her necklace and blushed. “Um.. actually yeah… I won’t again.. sorry.”
“Hmph.. but you know what the absolutely worst thing about what you did was?” Xander asked as he turned and started walking away.
Worried now Faith followed after him. “Um.. no.. what?” Scared wondering how much she had screwed up.
“You ate breakfast and didn’t bring me any… I haven’t had anything to eat all DAY!” Xander whined with a quick grin to her, and a loud rumble came from his belly.
Faith started laughing and looped her arm through his. “Then lets go get you to the cafeteria.. I hear they have roast beef.”
Xander walked down the hall slightly distracted and glanced up to see Vala walking towards him, ‘Heya Vala.” He said absently. He heard Daniel’s voice reply with a bit of surprise.
Xander stopped and information processed through his brain. *Vala gone.. Daniel’s voice.. turn and verify* came in bits through his brain and he turned and looked at a smiling Vala overlaid on Daniel Jackson. “Vala?” Uncertainty in his voice, not sure what he was seeing.
It reminded him of his 8th grade graduation trip to Disneyland and the Haunted Mansion, where the ghosts overlaid you. He could see both of them in the same body, but not. Xander sniffed, it smelled like Daniel, sounded like Daniel, but he could see Vala. Blinking his eyes for a moment he looked again, nope still Vala/Daniel. Shaking his head, “Some weird ancient devicey thingy letting you share his body?”
Vala grinned “Got it in one, I am so proud. So do you know where Cam is, need to tell that group some stuff.”
Xander nodded. ‘Yeah, locker room.” Pointing as his eyes drifted from the strangeness of two faces in one and let loose a strangled, “EEP!”
Vala glance back at him curious, then laughed at the look on his face as he squeaked out, “You’re pregnant!”
“Why yes I am.” She grinned and Xander was treated to the very disconcerting sight of Daniel stroking a very flat male stomach, as a very pregnant Vala stroked her swollen belly.
“Okay you have no idea how wrong that looks.” Stated Xander.
Laughter pealed out in Vala’s cadence and Daniels tone, all in all very odd.
“You always were more perceptive than most Xander. Get Faith so I can say ‘Hi’, I don’t know how long I have and have much to tell.” With that she was gone, with hips swaying down the hall.
Xander watched appreciatively, until he realized he was enjoying the sway of Daniel’s hips. “Bleach.. . must bleach mind.” He muttered heading to find Faith.
Finding Faith, dragging her to the interview room where they had Vala/Daniel, took longer than he expected. Faith wanted to know what was going on, and Xander refused to say anything just replying cryptically “I need to know what you see.”
When they got to the room, the camera was going and Daniel was talking animatedly, at first Faith did not really hear what he was saying, instead tilting her head noticing his speech patterns and body language was way off, he reminded her of…Vala? Frowning at Xander he nodded and she kept watching. “It’s Vala.. in his body.. why?” Whispering to Xander.
“Yeah I can actually see her, she wants to say hi to you.” Nodding a bit as Vala flashed them a quick smile as she talked.
Both of them started listening to what she was saying and their hearts dropped. She was so far away, and the situation was not good. Faith had a chance to go up and say hi while they were bringing her in some ice cream. “Val.. you okay? You really do look better in leather and your own body.”
Vala laughed, “You’re telling me. But I wanted to let you know I wish I was here.. hell I wish I was almost anywhere, but wanted to let you know I was still alive.” She glanced up at the impatient General Landry and sighed “Back to the story, listen, you won’t believe how it turns out.”
Faith retreated back to the corner with Xander, and they continued to listen to Vala explain about her husband, the Supergate, the Prior’s, and her child. Faith shot a glance at Xander who nodded in agreement. Everyone was stunned and Vala was starting to explain about the plot to sabotage the ships, when suddenly, “Um… what am I doing here?” asked a confused Daniel. Vala was gone, and Daniel was back.
Vala was gone again, and the Ori were coming. For Faith, Vala being gone again almost hurt more than the knowledge the Ori had a working Supergate. She was all too familiar with the presence of impending apocalypses for this to upset her, but Vala being gone again hurt. At least this time there was the possibility she might come back.
Everyone was in the conference room, discussing the information Vala had related and the possibility of the weapon Merlin had create that might defeat the Ori. The discussion was loud and fervent.
“NO.. I say we have to go at least see if we can find the weapon Merlin talked about, at the moment it might be our only chance!” Stated Daniel, upset and frustrated that everyone thought brute power was going to end this.
“I agree.” Replied General Landry calmly “However we don’t know where it is, if you can find it, and if you can find it in time. We have reports of where we think the Supergate is, and already ships are headed there to wait.”
“Fine.. then lets us go and see what we can find. Xander and Faith can come with us, they might have insights that we would not have.”, inserted Cameron, the need to do something, anything racing through him, making him look like he was chomping at the bit.
The General nodded slowly “Okay, but you don’t have much time to find the device.”
Xander interrupted. “Actually General.. guys.. I had an idea.” He spoke in a low voice but there was something about it that quieted the entire room and had them all looking at him, even Faith. Swallowing under the stares if General Landry, Cameron, Sam, Daniel, Teal’c, and even Faith he continued. “If the Ori are as dangerous as we believe they are, and if they have the power or ability to convert people into Priors, I think.. “ He paused and took in a deep breath. “I think we should bring in The Council of Slayers and Willow’s Coven.”
The room was silent everyone looking at him. Finally the General spoke slowly “What exactly do you mean by the “slayers” and the coven? I thought there were only two, and Faith came with you because there was someone else to hold down the other end?”
Xander winced. “Um… not exactly.. I kinda.. fudged the truth..” He shrugged under all the glares and stares. “It was not information you needed to know and at that point, this program was still on probation with me, and I figured Faith could fight her way out of here if necessary, and no one else was put at risk. Now I know you can be trusted.. so.. I am offering some… backup if the Ori hit Earth.”
The General processed this information, vaguely hurt that Xander had not told them, but he understood operational security. “Okay.. go on.”
Xander flashed a look at Faith and she nodded, they had discussed all of this prior to the meeting. “There was originally only one slayer, each time she died a new one activated. My sophomore year of high school, she died, but was revived by CPR, but another one was called, so for a few years there were two. Remember Sunnydale in California and it disappearing in a “earthquake”?” There were various nods from around the table. “Well that was us… we closed a hellmouth” He saw Daniel and Sam start to open their mouths and quickly explained “It is..was basically a portal to a dimension of hell. In the process of closing it Willow cast a spell that activated all the potential slayers in the world, and made them full slayers. I think we should tell them, and ask for help.”
Daniel started to ask questions, but Xander shook his head. “Daniel I promise, if there is a later, when you get Giles and me locked in a room, you can ask everything you want.. right now there just is no time.” The rest of the room was quiet, as people processed what Xander had said, until finally Cameron broke the quiet. “You mean there are like 15 or 20 girls… women with the strength and power Faith has?” Everyone looked incredulous at this idea.
Xander cleared his throat. “Umm.. not exactly.. last time I talked to them there were over 200 around the world.”
Everyone in the room choked, looking at Faith who started to blush. The General picked it up this time. “So you knew about an army of 200 people like Faith who could help fight this and you are only mentioning it now… why?”
Xander shrugged “Because frankly they have their own war to fight, with vampires and demons, who have come out of the woodwork with so many slayers around, and most of them are under 18, only three,… maybe 4 if Vi has had her birthday are older than 21. With so many we have been able to give them time to grow up, and train and not die alone. I’m not willing to bring that many… children into this unless it is world endage.”
After a few blank looks people processed that and nodded understanding his reasoning. “You are not equipped to fight their war, but if it is a battle for this planet, for the human race, they should be allowed to help. And then there is Willow and the group she has been training…” His voice trailed off… looking at Faith.
Sam spoke up “Willow.. that is the redhead who came with you and Faith?”
“Yeah.. that is Willow…” Xander said, something off in his discomfort.
Teal’c replied “I have seen how powerful she is, she would be a good addition to fighting the Ori.”
“No.. no you haven’t.” said Xander with a sigh.
“What do you mean, no we haven’t.” asked Landry.
“You have seen her doing things, that for her are the equivalent of Sam doing an algebra problem, something you can do without effort, without trying. We really don’t want her to get mad, the damage might get out of hand.”
Everyone around the table frowned, wasn’t that what they wanted, damage? Cameron spoke up. “Um.. what’re we talking she gets a little PMSy at the Ori and blows up a few buildings… or.. we talking atomic bomb damage?”
A soft snort of amusement from Faith as Xander shook his head. “No.. we are talking if she goes all Darth Willow…. she just might decide to cause the sun to go supernova and vaporize the earth. That is the level of what might happen if Willow gets truly mad.”
Everyone in the room froze looking at him with huge eyes, and you could see everyone struggling with the concept of someone with that much power. Xander paused and tried to figure out how to say this without freaking anyone out. “I think… wait.. understand something, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely… everyone got that?” People around the table nodded thinking of Goa’uld. “Well Willow, everyday sweet best friend Willow has enough power to transport people from one side of the earth to the other on her own personal reserve energy. If it was NECESSARY” he stressed this word strongly “I think she could tap power reserves enough that she could open and hold a wormhole from one galaxy to the next.” Trying to put it in perspective for them.
Sam’s eyes lit up “But that is great, if she can do that we could attack the Ori at their heart.”
Xander shook his head and sighed, “Right there Sam, that is my point. Yes.. she might be able to do that, but to do that she would have to tap into power that is what a ZPM is to a battery. She would have to get angry. At that point she will become power, no conscious, no mercy, no caring. Yes she might be able to defeat the Ori, but what would be left would be sheer writhing power with no thought to anything but it’s own wants.” He looked and slowly everyone paled as he continued. “Imagine being able to do anything you wanted, and I mean anything, make people kill themselves in front of you, ‘cause pyramids to vaporize, make the sun go nova. Couple that with no mercy, compassion, or love…. If we ask Willow to do something on that level, that is what she will become. As much as I hate to say it, the Slayers are human, and can be killed, if Willow taps into that again, she will be one step short of a god.”
The entire room went white and Landry nodded slowly “Continue.”
Xander swallowed “She is balanced by love and friendship now, and uses little more than her own reserves, so she is not a danger, but if we ask her to save the earth, she will destroy it because of the price to tap into that level of power. You need to know.. she can help and help a lot, but we only ask that level of help if death is better than the Ori.”
The room just went quiet for a long time, and Xander felt Faith squeeze his leg under the table in support. Finally Landry spoke. “I think we need to have both the slayers and Willow ready if the Ori do reach the earth, but they should stay as a last ditch effort. As you say, they are still children, and we have not reached the point where we are quite that desperate.”
Everyone nodded and Xander relaxed a little. “The other reason I wanted to keep them out of it unless necessary is Willow as a Prior scares the hell out of me.. I mean slash my wrists now scared.”
Everyone swallowed and a bunch of mental decisions were made, Willow as a Prior was a bad thing.
“Understood.. Faith, Xander, go meet with the Council and see if they are willing to help. And.. I understand why you kept this silent, part of me is screaming danger lock her up, but that would create the very thing I fear wouldn’t it.”
Xander nodded “Yes sir, a mad Willow is a very bad thing, and frankly I haven’t seen anything on any world yet that could hold her.”
“Okay.. please see if you can create an alliance, and I think I may pray we never get to that point.” Replied the General gravely, but part of him also wondered at the ‘again’ aspect of Xanders’ comment. He could tell Xander knew exactly what would happen if Willow touched that level of power, but from the grief in Xanders eye he wondered how close the world had come to not being here. He started to ask then he decided he really didn’t want to know that bit of information, sometimes ignorance was bliss. “Credit cards will be ready in an hour or so for you to use to get there and start discussions, call me before you agree to anything. Daniel, Sam, Cameron, Teal’c you go look for Merlin’s device, you don’t have long. Everyone… godspeed.”
With that everyone broke up and headed down their own paths to what fate held in store for them.
Xander and Faith headed to their quarters to pack, both not even needing to talk to the other, they knew the confrontation coming up was not going to fun or easy, but was more important than anything they had done in a while.
“So.. show up at the front door or do we warn them?” Faith asked as they headed to a jet that would drop them in Cleveland, a car had already been ordered.
“Oh.. I am thinking surprise attack, warning will have them suspecting way too much and none of it close to reality, I think a surprise visit will get us the most open minds, they won’t have a chance to expect anything.” Remarked Xander.
“Works for me.. but one thing… any comments about me being pregnant and I get open season on who said it.” Remarked Faith with a suspiciously blank face.
Xander jerked and turned to look at her, paling when he saw her face. “Daniel said something?”
“Well.. he was trying to apologize apparently for something he teased you about when you went to talk to him about the visitors… I am not sure what was funnier, his face when he realized you had not told me, or when I leaned in and whispered that payback was a bitch named Faith.”
Xander choked, but held up his hands “Just as long as you know I had nothing to do with it, you can deal with it all on your own, my dick has been saving itself for you, so feel free… .though now I wonder if I should warn Giles, so he can keep people from being killed?”
Faith grinned, a down right evil smile. “Now where would the fun be if he reined Buffy in?” Linking her arm with his as they settled into the jump seats.
Xander moaned and shut his eye, ignoring the soldier softly chanting ~fight fight fight~ and then snickering like crazy.
The flight was short and long at the same. Short because from Colorado to Cleveland did not take all that much time, long in wondering how much time they had, and how many would die if the Ori army made it through the SuperGate. But soon enough they were on the ground and headed towards a car, then quickly on their way to the Slayer House.
Leaving their stuff in the car, they walked up to the door, and knocked, it was promptly thrown open by a girl they didn’t recognize. “Yeah… wadda ya want?”
Xander blinked at the young girl, then shook his head. “And Giles thought we were bad… yeah here to see Giles.. as a start…” The girl looked at him with narrowed eyes, and turned and shouted into the house.
“Yo Dawn… some yokels here to see Gilesy.”
Both Xander and Faith broke into giggles “Gilesy? Oh my god, he can never complain about G-man again.”
They heard Dawn in the background. “Kath, how many times have we told you not to..” the voice had gotten louder and louder until it broke off when Dawn saw Xander. “XANDER!” was the yell that threatened to break eardrums as Xander suddenly had his arms full of a very adult feeling Dawn. But the grin was there as he hugged her tight.
“Hey Dawnie… how goes it.”
Dawn lifted her head to smile at him “About time you showed up for a visit, email just isn’t enough.” She flashed a welcoming grin “Hey Faith… glad to see you also. The door is open.” No one ever invited anyone in, and Faith walked through the door, as Xander followed arms still full of Dawn.
Kath snorted “Damn.. this the Xan you been talking ‘bout, ne’er said he was such eye candy.”
Jealously flashed through Faith and she whirled and actually growled at the girl before she realized what she was doing, and tamped it down hard. “Amazing what being chased all day long can do for a guys’ ass isn’t it.” Winking at the girl who had flinched back at the growl, but now was grinning with Faith as Xander just rolled his eye.
“I am actually here you know.”
Dawn pulled back and eyed him up and down “I don’t know Xander you are looking awfully good, I don’t remember this much cuteness when you left.”
Xander sighed, “I work out a lot okay, they got us doing stuff that actually burns up all the twinkies I eat.”
About now they heard thundering steps, and looked up to see Willow racing down the stairs, followed a bit more sedately by Kennedy. Dawn barely had time to get out of the way, laughing while she did it, as Xander was engulfed in a Willow hug.
“XANDER… you’re here, why are you here? So glad to see you have missed you, no xanderisms, is something wrong, is that why you are here, email is not enough going to start demanding visiting rights.” She was cut off by a strong hug by Xander, and she melted into his arms.
Xander did not notice the evil look from Kennedy, but Faith did, making a note of it. “Sorry Wills, you know work, demand, demand.. but am here now and you and Dawn can fight over my time.” Glancing up to flash a smile at Faith.
Faith was not worried, she knew that Willow was not competition and as much as Dawn might want to be, Xander saw her as a little sister, and would no more think of dating her than having sex with Giles.
All the commotion drug Giles out of the wing of the house he had claimed as his private domain, it had a small ¾ bath, a bedroom and a library.
“Xander… how nice it is to see you.” An honest smile coming to his face as he saw them. “Faith you look wonderful, I see the work has agreed with you.”
“Heya G-man.. yep we are as fit as a fiddle.” Xander looked around “Well.. the only Scoobie missing is Buffster.. where is she?” Starting to look a bit hurt.
Dawn giggled “Silly, she is at class right now, she took your advice and has actually been going to class and not cutting.”
Relief and a huge smile spread across Xanders face. “That is great… so… where’s dinner, I’m starved.”
The typical Xander remark dragged away most people as Willow and Dawn headed in to the kitchen to add extra supplies for dinner, the other slayers looking at them with awe and a touch of suspicion as, what were to them legends, they walked with Giles to his library, laughing and talking about sparring matches with people at work.
The happy go lucky act dropped as soon as they were in the library and shut the door behind them. “Giles can you put up a silence spell, so no one outside the room can overhear?”
“Dear lord, I had wondered when you showed up so unexpectedly, but I had hoped.” Giles focused for a moment and a spell went up around the room. “Nothing compared to Willow but I can case a silence spell, it is anchored to the walls, if they walk in they will hear, but no one at the door will, though we can hear them outside the door. So is the military chasing you, do we need to hide you?”
Both Xander and Faith looked at him for a moment, confused and started laughing. Giles frowned. “So… I take it from your reactions the military is not after you?”
Faith had fallen into a chair she was laughing so hard Xander shook his head laughter fading. “No.. I hate to say this, but it would be better if that was all this was about.”
Giles paled and sat ‘Dear Lord….” Taking off his glasses and polishing them. “Well then… what is the probl..” His eyes lit up as he saw the tender look pass between them. “Please don’t tell me Faith is pregnant!”
That set Faith off again on another round of laughter and Xander sat down looking annoyed “What is it and everyone thinking we are having sex, and that if we are, neither of us knows how to use condoms or other methods of birth control?!?!?” Completely exasperated, sitting there fuming.
Faith leaned over and kissed him, then looked at Giles. “Yes we’re dating, no sex, taking it slow.. so get your mind out of the gutter G-Man.”
“Oh not you also with that infernal nickname.” Muttered Giles.
Faith smiled sweetly “Would you prefer Gilesy?”
Giles flushed and studied the floor “No I think G-Man will do just fine thank you.” He recovered his composure looking at them. “Well if Faith is not pregnant and the military is not chasing you, what in the world is so serious?” Dread gripped his heart as Faith and Xander looked at each other, then Xander started talking.
They were in there for an hour covering the basic outlines of the Ori, supergates, priors, and Willow, before Dawn was pounding at the door. “Dinner is ready!!!!” Looking at each other, they nodded, and Giles took down the silence spell, they all put smiles on their faces, and headed out for dinner.
Dinner was fun, with Giles, Xander, and Faith all acting as if they had just come by for a visit. Buffy had come home for dinner and both Xander and Faith were treated to a scream of joy and a tight hug. The hug took Faith by surprise, though the whispered comment “I missed having someone around who understood what it was like being a slayer alone.” Made her slightly misty eyed.
Life had become more organized for the slayers, and a sit down dinner was normal, with some of the older slayers just waking up, and the younger ones having just finished their homework. After dinner was done, with the slayers on kitchen duty cleaning up, the three worked on rounding up who they really needed to discuss this with. Xander grabbed Willow by slipping his arm through hers, and walking and talk lead her into the library. Faith corralled Buffy by talking how hard it ws to train when most of the time she had to hold back her strength. Giles looked at Dawn and nodded sadly. “Get Robin would you?”
Over the last year Robin had become the one to run the day to day schedules of the slayers, and the one that took Buffy off active duty so she could go to college. He had known what Faith and Xander were doing from the start, but over time had regarded it as a joke and slowly forgotten. Dawn and Giles had not, and had talked about the ramifications, this was just one they had hopes would not happen. Dawn was becoming Giles right had, the one he trusted. Robin did not always have the best view of the girls, and was slowly becoming a hidebound administrator. Giles figured another two years and only a few would ever actually interact with Robin, but that he would deal with soon. Who knew, this might just shake him up. Then there was Andrew, amazingly enough he had become their primary first contact person for new slayers. As annoying as he was, he was also about as non-threatening as any of them could get. Most of the slayers might be ready to strangle him on any given day, but they never believed they were in danger when he approached them with his crazy speech about dreams and chosen ones. However regardless of all of this, Giles was still very glad Andrew was out in the field and not here to hear all of this first hand.
Kennedy was on patrol tonight, so she was the only one out of the group Xander had originally told that was not here to get the info first hand.
All of them trailed into the library, but it was not until Dawn all but pushed Robin in, who was still protesting he was too busy for any sort of gossip, and shut the door behind him, that they realized they were all in the same room. Giles nodded at Dawn and she locked the door. Willow felt the silence spell go up, and clutched Xanders arm hard. “Are you okay, are you in trouble?”
The tension in the group broke when Xander started laughing. “Okay to set the record straight, no the military is not after us, and no Faith is not pregnant, and definitely not pregnant by me.” He saw a few blushes that told him some people had jumped to that conclusion. “Yeesh… minds in the gutter I swear. Everyone just take a seat, I got some stuff to tell you.” His smiling face and Faith’s relaxed attitude fooled everyone but Dawn.
Much more relaxed everyone fell into their favorite positions, Robin grumbling again how he was too busy. Dawn oddly took a seat behind Giles desk and took out a notebook and a pencil. She looked up to see Xander looking at her with a dark eye and he nodded and smiled at her approvingly. She ducked her head, most still did not see her, but Xander seemed to see too much.
“Okay… okay, scoobies, and gent.” Nodding regally at Robin, then his face changed, subtly, but it did change, became more commanding, less goofy, and everyone in the room chilled, knowing this was not going to be good. “No the military is not hunting us, we are here because I suggested we come, and tell you about the war that maybe on our doorstep very soon.” He was met with blank looks from everyone. Taking a deep breath Xander starting talking, explaining about the Ori, the Priors, the plague, and the war that might be at their front door.
“Given that all of this coming down I asked my general” a small part of him wondered when Landry had become his general rather than the, but it was overwhelmed by the rest of the thoughts flooding around, “If I could alert you that it might show up here. From what I have told you about the Priors and the Ori, I had a twofold reason for that, one I didn’t want either of them getting their hands on you because you were unaware of the risks they posed, and two if it is a war for the planet, it is your fight too.” The room was full of pale, tension filled faces looking at him. Willow had tears running down her face though she made no sound. Xander went on to finish this out. “Willow I told them about you, and I think I made it clear you are a MAD weapon. I pray to all the gods and goddess out there we won’t have to ask you to do anything, but I want you guys to know the nature of the threat we are facing. They have destroyed entire worlds and all the life on them to achieve their goals. Now…. Do you want to be part of the last line of defense.. or not.. I can’t force you, but… this is Earth’s fight, and … you live here too.” Through out the conversation he had been articulate, composed, but so very serious. Only here at the end, looking at Willow, his heart breaking for what she was capable of did he start to lose his composure and offer them the choice.
The room was quiet and Buffy slowly raised her hand “um.. .one questions.. why is Willow a mad weapon?” Confusion clear on her face, still assimilating everything they had been told.
Willow was the one that answered “Buffy, it means if they need me to stop the Ori.. I will have to channel power that will destroy who I am. Xander called me a MAD weapon, Mutual Assured Destruction, meaning I might stop the Ori, but I would destroy the Earth in the process. And he is correct… I.. I think I could do it.. but… you thought Dark Willow was bad that time before… that would be but a candle compared to a bonfire as to what I would be… “
Dawn paled and looked down at her notes, she remembered all too well, and a small part of her wondered if the Ori would be preferable. Robin simply looked confused as he had not been present and made a note to ask later.
Xander cleared his throat. “One more thing.. um.. I haven’t said anything about Dawn. I.. I don’t know what the Ori would see, they are from another plane of existence, and I don’t know if she would or wouldn’t be anything to them. So… “ He cleared his throat and looked at Dawn. “Dawnie, I love you more than I love myself, you are the sister I didn’t have. But I would rather slit your throat than let the Ori use you.” There was a shocked gasp from the room as he said that from Buffy, but she was held back by Willow’s hand. A soft sad smile crossed Dawns’ face.
“I know Xander, and I would gladly lay my throat bare to you if it came to that.”
Xander had a tear running down his face. “But;.. I do have one option.. I haven’t mentioned you to the military, but if the Ori come, I think I would see if we could send you to Atlantis.. it is a base in the Pegasus galaxy. They have their own problems, but the Ori aren’t there. It is an option.. that is all… all of this..” Turning and waving his hand over the entire room. “All of this is a choice for you. Faith and I made our choices, I am just giving you what you so rarely got, the ability to chose to fight this fight.”
With that Xander sat, emotionally exhausted, throat raw from all the talking, and just looked at the people in the room. Giles, mentor, father figure, friend, he was pale but strong as he usually was for his ‘kids’. Dawn, was strangely serene, a smile on her face, and a backbone of steel that did not know how to bend. Willow, pale, crying, but smiling at him at the same time, his best friend, his worst nightmare, the one he knew he would die to save. Buffy, hero, crush, lost friend slowly being found, was pale shaking but nodding to herself, she did not know how to not fight. Robin, looking strangely lost as if his world had crumbled, but making notes on a pad, mind off assessing resources and ideas on what to do next. Finally Faith, the one he loved with heart and soul, the one he would fight death for, smiling at him, calm and collected, a warrior who knew she would die with blood on her hands, and okay with knowing that was her fate, because he would be by her side.
For a long time there was silence in the library, the faint sounds of slayers outside the spell contrasting with the shocked emptiness in the room. Finally Buffy stirred. “Xander, while part of me wants to strangle you for dumping this on us, I think you are being a dunderhead.” Xander frowned a bit hurt, then Buffy smiled “Of course we are going to fight, they set one foot on this planet and I am going to be there to cut it off. That is what we do, fight those who want to hurt others. All of us… “ Looking around the room with a smile as everyone nodded, and Giles had a hint of pride in his smile. “Though I think you’re right about Dawn, leaving her here if the Ori come would be like leaving our nuclear missile codes in Kim Jon-il’s hands.” At the looks of shock from Robin, Willow, Dawn, and Giles she went defensive. “What?? I have been enjoying my current events assignment.” There was low snickering, but she ignored it continuing. “So.. yeah if they come Dawn… you go.” Hard steel and love in her eyes as she looked at Dawn.
Dawn wanted to protest, but nodded slowly “I hate it, hate it with every fiber of my being, but… the risk to the planet is too great, I will go if they come.. and if Xander can get me to this place.”
There was a silent sigh of relief, more than a few had been expecting a battle of wills over this. Xander nodded. “Okay if it gets to that point I will lay the ground work, but for now…” he trailed off, looking at the others. “I guess we need to get contingency plans in order. Faith and I are due back in three days, so I need to let ’em know what we can and will do and how to use your skills if it comes down to that, if it never happens… well… I guess your universe got a little scarier.” A wry smile crossing his face as Buffy blew a raspberry at him.
Xander sat on the back porch, watching the stars. The moon was dark tonight so he could see them all, and now name them all also. Faith came out and sat down between his legs, leaning back against them. “They out there… where?”
“I don’t know… just far away, but all too close.”
“You think we’ll see them again?” Asked Faith, she was not looking at Xander, just focusing on the stars and the friends that might be dying for this planet, this galaxy.
“Either here or in the next life. They are heroes Faith, and we both know heroes rarely get to rest, even after death.”
A slightly bitter laugh interrupted them “True.. but we heroes go where called, where we are needed.. just very ungraciously sometimes.” Spoke Buffy, the last bit spoke with a bit of self-deprecating humor, as she came out and sat down besides Xander.
Neither Xander nor Faith moved, except to smile a welcome at Buffy. “That may be, but they are always loved.” Replied Xander smiling at Buffy, then dropping a soft kiss on Faiths head, feeling the touch of tension at Buffy’s appearance disappear. Buffy smiled watching them, and there was no regret or distrust in her, just joy that they had both found someone, someone worthy of the other.
“And love is what will save us, you already know that Xander.” Willow spoke, holding some tea, as she sat on Xanders’ other side. “Your love saved this world once, it saved me many times, so I think with the amount of love present here, we can’t lose.”
Xander and Faith both smiled as she joined them. Inside they heard discussion, plans being made, Giles looking up stories of the Ori, but outside there was quiet. They had decided not to tell the younger slayers anything, just that there might be an apocalypse coming, and that they were getting ready for it. Only if they were needed would the truth be told, because at that point most of the Earth would know anyhow. The three Scoobies sat together on the top step, with Faith wrapped in Xanders arms and legs, they all looked to the stars, and hoped. They all hoped that love, faith, and heroes would win the day and save the Earth.
Authors Note: Well here is where I end.. maybe, MAYBE once the new season restarts and I know what happens I might write a sequel, but now I get to go beat down some of the plot bunnies ravishing my ankles. Enjoy.