Disclaimer: Don't own or claim rights to BtVS, The Sentinel, or SGA~~~~~
“It's a hell of a long way to go for a Guide, Xander,” was his final warning.
Xander looked him full in the eye and shrugged. “You fit,” he said simply.~~~~~
“I don't know about anyone else around here, but I'm really lost,” one of John's colleagues complained.
“You know, normally I'd suggest you couldn't find your way out of a paper bag with a map, but, I'm actually lost, too,” another one sniped.
“Stow it, McKay,” the first one retorted.
“Hey!” Xander bellowed. “Shut up before you give me a headache.” He sighed. “I might have missed introductions before. Anyone care to clue me in?”
“Actually,” Buffy grinned, “we never got around to that. Not in here, anyway. We all got General Landry, and I think you guys know a few of our names?” She looked around to see of the others agreed. Not everyone did, so she sighed. “Okay, here's the deal. And remember what your boss said about the secrecy thing, alright? I'm Buffy, and she's Faith,” she began, indicating. “We're both Vampire Slayers.” She held her hand up. “You work with aliens, just go with the flow. We're Vampire Slayers. We slay vampires. We're faster than you are, stronger than you are, and we fight the oogly booglies, and yes, that is a word, because I say so.”
Twisting behind her, she indicated to Willow. “Her name's Willow, and she's one of the most powerful witches on the face of the Earth.” Seeing their faces, she sighed. “And, yes, magic is really real.” Nodding to her sister, Buffy went on, “Dawn was created, er four years ago?” When Dawn nodded, she continued. “She was magically created from my blood to contain a mystical thingy called the Key. Giles over there is British, but we don't hold that against him. He was also a Watcher, and we don't hold that against him, either,” she added with a smile to her mentor. “Jim over there is a Sentinel, which is a guard-the-village type, and Blair is his Shaman, which is a balance-the-Sentinel type. He makes sure Jim stays sane, doesn't drift off into zones, all that.
“Now, Xander here is one of the most amazing people in the universe, and if any of you do anything to hurt him, there is no place you can go where we will not find you, and when we do, you will beg for death. Faith and I aren't supposed to hurt humans, it's not our thing, and it can seriously mess us up it we do, but we're willing to make an exception. Like I said, Will's one of the most powerful witches around, and even Giles would be more than willing to show you why he used to be called 'Ripper'. Got it?”
Looking at their shocked faces, Willow added, “A vague disclaimer is nobody's friend.”
“How come I get left out,” Dawn pouted.
“Don't worry, Dawnie,” Willow soothed, patting her shoulder. “We'll make sure there's plenty left for you.”
John looked over to Xander. “I like your Praetorian Guard.”
Xander snorted. “Please? Those guys were wimps. Now if Ahn were here...” his eyes flashed a sudden sorrow.
“If Ahn were here, she'd be describing the many, many ways to punish an unfaithful man, with great relish, and maybe even a slideshow,” Dawn offered, stroking Xander's hair.
Xander chuckled. “Yeah. Or talking about sex,” he added. “So what about you guys?”
Hank looked over to Daniel. “Do the honours?”
“Sure. Okay, you know General Hank Landry. Um, on my right is Lieutenant Colonel Sam Carter, on my left is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell, and just there is Teal'c. I'm Dr Daniel Jackson, and we make up SG1. Behind Mr Miller is Teyla Emmagan, Ronon Dex, and Dr Rodney McKay, who are all Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard's team mates,” he explained, indicating each person.
Sam took the opportunity to turn towards the General and murmur, “Sir, are we entirely sure these people are sane?”
Hank looked at them, and remembered the video files he'd seen, files of the last hours of the Initiative base. “I don't know about sane, entirely, but...” He glanced at Graham sitting in the other chair, relaxed, watching the byplay with a slight smile. “Not sure anyone could be entirely sane with what I know that they've dealt with. And I only know a very little of what they dealt with.”
“If it helps,” Jim began, looking at her, “Blair and I went from our apartment in Washington State to this room here, and we didn't take a step. Just stood there, Willow there poured some blood onto some herbs, there was a flash of light, and here we are.”
“The witch here,” he nodded at Willow, “zapped us from Washington to Colorado. Complete with mojo-ed drop-cloth so there would be no mess. Thanks for that,” he added, to Willow.
“How did you even hear me over there?”
“Like she said, I'm a Sentinel. Our senses are very strong – hearing, smell, sight, all of them. Xander's just like me. And if he doesn't get a Guide his senses will go off-balance, and drive him mad.”
“-Der,” Xander corrected. When Jim looked confused, Xander said, “Madder. Not mad.”
“PTSD is not insanity. It is a stress disorder. But hyperactive senses on top will make you psychotic.”
“So now we have to deal with the threat of psychosis along with having to take a civilian to -” Rodney cut himself off before he could say more.
“If he's with his Guide, he won't become psychotic. It's the absence of the Guide that will do that to him.”
“But why should we have to deal with him? It has nothing to do with us,” he pouted.
“The Sentinel protects the Guide along with the village,” Blair argued. “You take Xander with you, and you with get someone who is a huge benefit to the security of wherever it is that you're going.”
“And, 'sides which,” Faith added, “if you think Xan here's a civvie, then you know nothing. He could take down … maybe not the two big guys, maybe not her,” she added, nodding at Teyla, “but he'd give any one of them a run for their money. Any of the rest of you? He'd be wiping the floor with you.”
“Faith, I appreciate your, er, faith in me, but I'm not that good.”
Buffy scoffed. “What was the last thing you faced in Africa?”
Xander glanced at the others, and answered, “Fyarl.”
Faith whipped around to look at him. “Shit, X, what the hell were you doing with a fyarl? You kill it?”
“I'm here, aren't? And I left my spare Slayer in my other pants, so it was just me. God, but they stink! And, anyway, I did have my silver dagger. No probs,” he finished.
“They don't smell that much,” Giles objected.
“To me, they do. Then I had to get on a crowded plane to get back here. I think I've still got the headache,” he grumbled.
“...er fyarl?” Daniel asked.
“Big,” Dawn offered.
“Strong,” Giles added.
“Paralysing snot,” Xander continued, smirking to Giles.
“Yes, you would remember that,” Giles complained.
John looked over to Xander. “I'm guessing there's a story there.”
“Bloody chaos mages,” Giles muttered into his now-cold tea.
“Look,” Dawn suggested, “if we're going to have a pissing contest, can we go somewhere where there's room to have a pissing contest? I'm feeling cramped as it is. I hate to think how Xander and Jim are feeling.”
Hank looked across to Graham, who was in the other chair. “You got any suggestions?”
“How about we go back to the mountain, Carter and McKay can do background checks, and, when you're satisfied, we can go down to the gym so you can see just how much Xander won't be a liability.” Looking to the younger man, he asked, “You been keeping up with your training?”
“I was in Africa for a year. You don't call it training if you're actually using it at the time.”
Buffy looked back, frowning. “What training?”
He shrugged. “After all that mess, Gray and I started talking. He started showing me how to shoot, and I kept it up. I know you hate guns, but I'm not strong like you. And they saved my life more than once over the last year. So which would you rather? Shooting-Xander or dead-Xander?”
“Oh, sweetie,” Willow crooned. “You use whatever weapons you need. Just don't expect any of us to pick one up, okay.”
“Fine by me, Willow-girl.”
Buffy sighed. “Fine. I get that you need them. I just don't want to see hide nor hair of them.”
Xander reached out and rubbed her back. “Thanks.”~~~~~
In the end, Giles took the girls, Faith took Graham on her bike, which left his car for Jim and Blair to take Xander and John to the base. It was agreed that John and Xander needed time with the established Sentinel/Guide pair.
“How are you feeling about this, Xander?” Jim asked.
“Fine. I'm feeling a lot calmer today. I'm a bit nervous about fighting somebody. I mean, I'm not exactly the fighter in our group – that's the girls. I do what I can, and I did survive the last year, but... The shooting I can do. Do you have to do a lot of shooting, John?”
“A fair amount. I wasn't joking about it being a war zone, Xander. We've got all kinds of stuff out there, and a lot of it is pretty bad. There's good, too, but... I'm surprised you can compensate for your eye,” he added.
“Part of it is magic, part is lots of practice. I met a shaman a few weeks after I landed in Africa, and he … didn't give me my eye back, there was some problem with that, but he gave me a way of compensating. Um, kind of false stereo vision? I don't have it normally, but if I need to hit something, I can. Sort of like the whatever I'm looking at gets a targeting guide? I still have no vision on my left, and don't like anything coming up that side,” he added. “So this place we're going, how far away is it?” he asked.
John hesitated. “You guys realise this is national security kind of stuff, don't you? You're probably all going to have to sign a boatload of NDAs. Just so you know.” Turning to Xander, he continued. “I'm based in the Pegasus Galaxy.”
Xander stared at him for a moment. “Galaxy. As in not this one.”
“As in not this one.”
Xander nodded and stared out the window. After a while, he asked, “What's the threat?”
“There's a variety. There are different villains, but... Wraiths. They're probably the big thing. They suck the life-force out of you. They put their hand on your chest and just... All that's left is a husk.”
Xander turned back to him and stared at him for a moment. “You got space vampires?”
John stared back at him, and laughed. “Yeah, I guess so. 'I vant to zuck your … life,'” he tried.
Xander chuckled, and the others joined in. “So, Blair, what else do we need to know about the whole Sentinel/Guide thing?”
“Um... Oh. There's a lot of closeness. Physically. You'll be touching, all that.” He twisted around to look at John. “You need to be able to centre him, and the best way to do that is usually by touch. Did you see how the girls kept touching Xander?” When John frowned and nodded, Blair went on, “Yeah, so touch is probably the easiest and best way to do that.”
“Xander will probably freak out if you're too far away, or away for too long,” Jim added. “He'll be protective, as I said, and God help anyone who hurts you, or tries to take you from him.”
“Guys,” John sighed, “I lead a first-contact team in often-hostile territory. This could be a problem.”
“You'll have an in-built warning system, and someone who will tear down hell to get you back. How is that a problem?” Jim asked.
Blair snickered. “Oh man, because Xander will try to make John stay behind him all the time? The intergalactic version of 'stay in the truck?'”
John turned to Xander. “Not happening.”
Xander shrugged. “I'll do my best.”~~~~~
Once everyone had signed all the appropriate documents, Willow having retrieved a selection from the Cleveland office, the group made their way to the gym, which was cleared for the group. Xander touched Giles' arm to get her attention. “I'm really not sure about this.”
“What aren't you sure about, Xander?”
“If I can even do this?”
“Xander, you need to remember that for as long as you have been fighting, you have been alongside people of much greater strength and speed. Both your friends and your enemies have physically outclassed you in ways that you cannot change. I would like you to consider: have you ever really fought against other humans?”
He thought about that. “Yes. Especially this last year. But I've always, you know, fought dirty and got it over and done with.” He shrugged. “People started calling me 'crazy white man' and the fights just sort of stopped. And, you see, that's the other thing, Giles.”
Xander chewed on his lip. “I think I would get flashbacks, or blackouts, or something. I nearly killed a guy, once. I came to, and there were two guys holding me back. I just walked out of town that night, and kept going. That was a couple of months before my senses started going off. I'm worried, Giles,” he whispered. “If I start to go...”
“I'll alert Buffy and Faith to keep an eye on you.”
They entered the gym, and the various groups made themselves comfortable. Xander looked around while Giles had a quiet word to the Slayers. Jim went up to Xander and put a hand on his shoulder. “I heard what you said, kid.”
“Try to stay calm, don't let yourself get too into the fight, okay?”
“Do my best.”
Hank walked up to the two men. “You ready, Xander?”
“Ready as I'll ever be, I guess.”
“I've asked Ronon to spar with you. He is one of our strongest fighters, and will be able to give a good idea of your skill level. You will be on his team if this goes ahead.”
“That sounds good.” Xander shifted slightly, nervous. “I, um, I've had a problem with, uh, over-reacting. I've told Giles about it, and he's spoken to Buffy and Faith. If they need to, they'll break the fight, okay?”
Hank gave the younger man a long look. “You sure you're okay with this?”
“Yeah. Just … don't shoot if they break up the fight.”
Hank nodded, then turned back to his own people.
Faith came up and bumped shoulders. “You're going to be fine, X. And we'll be right here. Don't worry about a thing, okay?”
“Thanks, Faith. I actually do feel a lot better knowing that.”
“Don't worry about it, stud. So... Going to be a soldier-man, huh? I heard about that Halloween thing you guys got up to.”
“Are they still telling that story? Gods! Tell me they're not telling the minis.”
She grinned. “Word gets out, you know? About wishes, and chaos magic. All kinds of lessons have to be learned. Not much use having all these examples about if they aren't shared, hey?”
“I don't care where this place is,” he muttered, “I'm moving. Not liking the idea of a bunch of minis knowing all about my life.”
Faith laughed, and slapped him on the shoulder, causing him to stumble forward. He glared back at her, then turned back to wait for things to start.
Ronon looked across to the man he was to fight. He didn't really know what to make of him. He didn't act like a warrior, and certainly didn't try to pass himself off as such. A simple love-tap from the dark-haired girl had been enough to send him stumbling forward, which was not a good sign, but his friends had been impressed by the creature he had defeated in Africa, whatever that was.
When they were called to the middle of the mat, Ronon took the opportunity to watch the way he moved. The boy was loose-limbed, and seemed to have an awareness of his surroundings. His left side would be his weakness, of course. The boy was measuring him just as he was measuring the boy – in itself a good sign. He wondered how the fight would turn out.
When they met in the centre, Xander put out his hand. Recalling Earth customs, Ronon shook his hand, then tugged the younger man forward. Feeling himself fall forward, Xander relaxed into the fall, and rolled to his feet again, grinning. Dirty fighting he could do.
The fight was rough and hard. Neither man used a particularly elegant style, and Ronon had height, weight and reach on his side. In contrast, Xander had reflexes honed against vampires, and a limited ability experience fighting someone of nearing his own abilities, and when Ronon tried to approach from Xander's blind side, Xander used his sense of hearing to locate the man. The General allowed the fight to go five minutes before calling a halt. Both men had gotten in very good blows, and he decided Ronon should have a reasonable idea of the boy's skills and weaknesses.
Grinning, Xander bounced back to his friends.
“How do you feel,” Giles asked.
“Not too bad, actually. He hits hard for a human, but I've had worse. Though I'll probably feel it tomorrow,” he added.
“You did really well,” Buffy smiled. “I was a little worried by how big he was, but you really held up your end.”
“Thanks, guys,” he grinned.~~~~~
General Landry walked up to the Pegasus native. “How was it?”
“He is no soldier,” Ronon said, “but he is definitely a fighter. I thought I could get him by coming up on his blind side, but he noticed me every time. He is very quick, too.”
“Quick?” John prompted.
“He moves very quickly. He spots attacks, and retaliates very quickly. He's not a strong as me, I don't think, doesn't have my reach, and certainly doesn't have the training, but his speed if very good, and that does make a difference.”
“Would you be comfortable with him on the team?”
“I believe I could work with him,” Ronon decided.~~~~~
John walked over to Xander, and held out his hand. “That was a good fight,” he congratulated. “You've really impressed Ronon.”
Xander shook his hand. “That's great. Have I impressed you, though?”
“Yeah, Xan, you have.”
“So you're good with the Sentinel thing?”
John thought. “Yeah, I think I am. We'll have to train with Jim and Blair as much as possible before we go,” he added thoughtfully.
“This is big,” Xander murmured. It was finally coming home to him. He was changing everything. He was leaving his family to an extent that he had never considered, not even in the days after the fall of Sunnydale. He was now becoming a Sentinel, a guardian, responsible, in part at least, for the safety of a city. He would be dependant of another person to help maintain control of his senses, and that scared him as much as anything else. And he was going to be so very far away.
“It really is,” John agreed softly.