Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters. I receive no profits from this. It is just for fun.
Archiving: Please ask.
Feedback: Constructive Criticism desired.
Summary: Buffy hesitates.
AN – Thoughts \\I am thinking.//
AN – Mental communication *Who are you?*
*Are you sure you want me here in the Girl's Locker Room?* he nervously asked Aura's First Officer Avatar. After all it was 'No Man's Land'.
*We are just going to talk and then you will leave while I get cleaned and changed,* replied the Avatar. *And nobody should still be there since there’s no girls’ sports training going on tonight, so we can talk without being disturbed.*
Once Aura entered the Girl’s Locker Room and took a seat on the bench near her locker the First Officer Avatar said, *You can go talk to my main persona now.*
Xander got up and willed himself off the Bridge.
He found himself in Aura’s bedroom again as she was releasing him from the hug. He stepped back and sat down on the chair for her make-up table while she went and sat on the bed.
Xander tried to look nonchalant about having been acting scared about entering into ‘Girl Territory’ and the possible mysteries that would be revealed there. Yeah, it was a typical teenage male fantasy to explore such places but there was also the innate fear of repercussions for attempting to do so.
For being a ghost, he was still all too human in his thinking and reactions.
\\I really need to rein in things like that,// he mused to himself. \\If those type of reactions bleed over into Aura while in a fight, it could be disastrous and I will not let her die because of any mistakes I might make.//
*Were you present when my FWB snatched me into the closet earlier?* Aura asked.
*Yes,* he replied.
*Did you watch us?*
*Only a little. I initially thought someone was attacking you. Which you sorta were. But in a good way. I mean I assume it was good from your reaction. Anyway, once I realized what was going on I kinda blanked out in shock and really didn’t pay any attention to what you two were doing.*
Aura looked a bit skeptical about his answer but didn’t pursue that topic any further.
*I’ll be going to her place after finishing up here and would like you to remain outside unless I call to you. Plus, do you have any advice on how to get her talking about the Supernatural so I can gauge how she might react to my being a Slayer even if it is only part-time?*
*I have no problem staying outside unless you call me. I‘ve told you before I intend to do my best to respect your privacy as long as it doesn’t get you killed. As for what to say, you might ask her about the ugly gang members, who were actually vampires in game face, that invaded The Bronze and killed some people a few weeks back,* he said. *You also might refer to the strange happenings during cheerleader tryouts, which were the work of a witch.*
*How is it you know about those things?* she asked, suspiciously.
After a brief hesitation, Xander said, *I was given knowledge about certain things going on here in Sunnydale. Like the fact that there is a Master Vampire trapped somewhere underground who has his minions trying to find ways to set him free so he can bring Hell On Earth. However, I don’t know exactly where he is or who all his minions are. I will probably try to do some ghostly reconnaissance while you sleep to try and find out more so we can be prepared to deal with him. It was some of his minions that invaded The Bronze. As far as I know the witch responsible for the cheerleader tryout problems is gone and won’t be coming back. That’s about the limit of what I know about possible threats you will have to deal with. Though, as I stated, I will be out looking for more info to use to keep you as safe as possible.*
*That's the extent of your knowledge!?!* Aura screeched.
*Hey!* he replied. *I don't like the situation anymore than you do. And I do intend to try and get a better idea of what might be coming down the pike but the guy who talked me into this gig was rather sparse on details. I got the impression that for some reason his bosses wanted it that way.*
*I still don't get the reason behind having a guy ghost instead of a girl one being the link to The Slayer Essence,* she said.
*If you find out, let me know as well, 'cause I don't know either,* he responded. *I'm still trying to decide if this is a reward for having helped a Slayer in the past or a way to atone for failing her like I did.*
*How did you fail her?*
* Uh, uh.* he initially stuttered.
Finally he said, *I'm not allowed to go into details but it had nothing to do with her being The Slayer. It was more of a personal issue and she got hurt real bad.*
\\And I got dead,// he thought to himself. \\Though Whistler insists that was an accident on Buffy's part.//
*I think you should know that I've caught some snippets of your conversation with the Messenger Guy when we merged and I want to know why you referred to me as Miss Hale just before you took control of me that first time.*
Xander paused a bit. Both in shock at the question and trying to organize his thoughts to give a truthful answer without revealing the entire truth as he was still trying to come to terms with it himself.
When he spoke again, he said, * It's a movie reference. A spy movie. A study group that works for the CIA is massacred where they work. All except for one guy named Joe.*
*Hence you name, right?* she interrupted.
*Right,* he said, then continued. *Anyway, in order to escape from the assassins, he grabs an innocent bystander, Miss Hale, and forces her to help him get away.*
*Like you did with me,* she stated.
*Sorry about that, but I was told to find a Potential that I could help empower with The Slayer Essence and you just happened to win the prize,* he explained.
*And you couldn't have looked around for another someone else and ruin their life instead of mine??!!!* she shouted out angrily.
*I'm sorry but Whistler and his bosses told me where to look and were very anxious that I do the initial merge sooner rather than later,* he replied softly. *Look, I can understand your anger but what's done is done and we both need to try and make the best of it so you can live a long and hopefully, happy life. And with some luck this whole gig will be temporary so you can go back to being just you, though a bit more aware of the real world.*
*I apologize as well,* said Aura. *As much as I hate what has happened, I really didn't mean to imply that I would foist this off on some other girl now that you and I are involved. And that just sounds so wrong when stated that way.*
Xander smiled as he thought Aura was blushing from her slightly shifting her head to the side. Her dark skin made it hard to be sure.
*I understand what you mean,* he said soothingly. *I wasn't happy about doing this to you or anyone but I know it's important for Buffy's survival that this be done and I'd rather it be me than someone else who might not care enough about you to keep you alive and relatively sane.*
*You're right I could have gotten someone worse than you, male or female,* said Aura. *You've kept your word about respecting my privacy, as I seem to be able to feel when you're near and when you're not. Plus, other than the first time, you've let me be in charge when we merge. I really appreciate that. It indicates that you are somewhat trustworthy, though I reserve the right to change my mind on that should you be trying to give me a false sense of security.*
*I thank you for your qualified trust and also applaud you for being wary. Wariness will help keep you alive.*
*Speaking of keeping me alive, I've been thinking about our situation and have concluded that there may be circumstances where you will need to take control of my body for both our sakes,* she stated. *This means that we should probably train you in how to do so effectively. Said training will have to be in addition to whatever Mr. Giles has us do since we are not telling him that you exist, only that I have access to The Slayer Essence.*
*Starting tomorrow we'll do a half hour of walking in flats with you in charge,* she continued. *I figure that within three or four weeks we'll have you up to running in 4 inch stiletto heels.*
Xander's face was flashing through so many different expressions, it was hard for Aura to catalog them all. She definitely saw surprise and fear. There was even an 'Are you kidding me?' look along with an 'Are you out of your mind?' look. Finally there was a look of resignation as the logic of her suggestion took hold.
*If we're going to do that, then I need to know what you experienced that first time I took control. I ask because the first time I let you take control I fell through a pitch black void before landing on the bridge of a starship with avatars of yourself manning all the stations. I was directed to the Captain's chair by your avatar that seemed to be acting as First Officer. I just sat back and watched what you did on the main viewing screen but somehow knew that I could override any command if I wanted to.*
Aura was quiet for a moment.
*I remember you holding me as I got quite hysterical and then sort of being absorbed into you. It's a bit fuzzy after that as I tried to grasp all the things I was seeing about previous Slayers and everything you had told me. It may have been dark for a time but I can't be sure as the next clear thing I remember was sitting in a convertible Corvette, with the top down and you at the wheel. We weren't moving and you were desperately trying to get the car into gear but couldn't. Finally, you adjusted the steering wheel upwards and then pulled me onto your lap and told me to put the car into gear and work the gas pedal and brakes while you steered. I was still in shock but did as you told me. It was strange in that the view out the front windshield was that of the school hallway, so even though there was a wind like we were traveling at highway speeds, the front view didn't change like one would expect at those speeds. It just poked along as my body walked to Mr. Giles' office. Once there, you used my cell phone to talk to him. Then when you were getting ready to vacate my body you opened the door, let me out, and then got out yourself. Next thing I know is you're hugging me again then stepping back and leaving. I think I was still too shell shocked to notice whether there was any transition or not.*
*A car seems rather limiting for controlling and monitoring your body when compared to the bridge of a spaceship or even a regular ship, unless it's a Bond car* said Xander. *Of course that first time I was only thinking about moving your body and talking with Giles. Whereas, the time I let you take control, I was wanting to be able to monitor what was going on. It's possible that what I, or maybe even you, are thinking of when we merge will influence what environment we find ourselves in while the other one is in control. You were in no condition to exert your influence during our initial encounter so it would appear to have defaulted to something that reflected my main concerns at the time. Simple transportation and communication.*
*A skateboard is simple transportation,* stated Aura. *A Fire Engine Red Corvette is a fantasy car that is way too fancy for traveling through the halls of Sunnydale High.*
*True, but I think it is much more flattering to compare your body to said Corvette than it would be to even a top of the line skate board.*
Aura didn't know how to respond to that so decided to get back to the issue of teaching Joe how to handle her body.
*So you think that if I concentrate on some kind of control room when I let you take over that is the environment I will find myself in?* she asked.
*It's at least a theory we should test out sometime,* he replied. *When I was being 'The Captain' I knew I could issue my own commands but it would still have been you carrying them out. Sorta like how I got you to enter that closet in the first place. For me to take total control, I think it would have to be my avatars manning the bridge stations and carrying out the actions, to use my analogy of a starship.*
*It looks like we have a lot to learn about working together,* she stated.
*I agree. Next time I see Whistler I'll ask if they have a users' manual for this kind of thing. It'd be so much easier for both of us if we had some directions to follow.*
*We both have a lot to think about and I need to get ready for my meeting, so you should go and wait for me outside,* she said. *Then follow me to her place and we'll see how things go.*
*OK. I hope things turn out alright for you two,* he said earnestly. *I believe having someone that close will be beneficial to your long term happiness and sanity.*
With that he left Aura and the Girls' Locker Room.
\\It really didn't seem all that different from the Boys' Locker Room,// he mused.
AN: In case you are wondering, the movie is “Three Days of the Condor” which, sadly, isn't owned by me either.