If you've Got a Big Enough Hammer
Disclaimer: Do I look rich? Of course not, because I own none of the intellectual properties I’m borrowing. (BtVS/SG)
(Its Hammer Time :p)
“So you're my sister's kid?” Jack asked, looking at the young man who'd just stepped off the bus.
“If you're Jack O'neill, then yes,” Xander replied, taking in his uncle's dress and the way he stood.
“At least you've got taste,” the two chorused, both dressed in flannel and jeans as if it were a uniform.
The grin and handshake were much more relaxed from the two then it would have been otherwise, since they had both found something in common.
“So, my estranged sis said you needed a break – other than the arm,” Jack said, nodding toward Xander's left arm.
Xander nodded. “Sunnydale has a bit of a gang problem and I have a bad habit of rescuing fair damsels.”
“Rescuing fair damsels? That sounds like there's a story behind it,” Jack said, making an offer to listen without pushing it.
“Let’s just say that my now ex-girlfriend Anya didn't like the fact that I refused to choose between saving her and saving my best friend.”
“Best friend is female I take it?”
“Yeah, how'd you guess?” Xander replied curiously.
“Women will put up with men having a best friend if it’s a guy. Sure they'll do your best to limit your time together and let you know they dislike him, but they'll put up with it. If your best friend is a female, it’s generally simpler just to marry them, because any woman you're with will feel threatened by her and insist you choose.”
Xander looked thoughtful for a moment. “That explains some things. Still, marrying Willow isn't exactly possible; for one thing we have the same taste in women.”
“Huh,” Jack replied a bit surprised. “Wonder why she was jealous than, I mean it’s not like you two had a fling if you're both into women.”
Xander sighed and picked up his bag by reaching inside it and grabbing something, rather than by the handles, drawing Jack's attention. “The straps on the last one tore off,” he explained, which really didn't explain anything.
Jack simply nodded and grabbed Xander's suitcase, since he was all out of hands with his left arm in a sling.
“We did have an affair, but it ended badly,” Xander explained as Jack led him to his jeep.
“How badly could it have ended?” Jack asked, then shook his head. “It’s not what turned her to girls is it?”
Xander snickered. “No she stuck with her boyfriend until he had to go see some monk in Tibet. By the time he got back, she had a girlfriend.”
“Well, then she really isn't off guys she just appreciates women as well.”
“No, she's pretty adamant about it.”
Jack snorted. “You don't suddenly change orientation like that. Sounds more like she's one of those people who tend to go overboard on things and since this is new for her she's charging in, but just like her attraction to girls; De'nile isn't just a lousy place to go swimmin'.”
Xander grinned. “Well we both seem to have a weakness for blonds. I'm pretty sure my ex was slowly bleaching her hair that color to try and take advantage of that fact.”
“I know the feeling, unfortunately Air Force fraternization policy trumps my interest in a certain blond,” Jack admitted, opening up a little to his nephew.
“Really?” Xander asked curiously, wondering if his uncle was coming out of the closet to him, since he seemed so knowledgeable about sexual orientation and was talking about a co-worker.
“Yeah, Sam and I have been through a lot together, but as long as we're in the service we have to follow the rules.” He sighed.
‘Definitely coming out.’
Xander carefully set his bag in the back of the jeep, making it sink down a noticeable amount.
Jack looked at Xander and raised a single eyebrow, clearly wondering what was in the bag.
Figuring it was no big deal, as Jack was going to be seeing Xander work out at some point anyway, he unzipped the bag and let him look.
Jack whistled softly. “That is one seriously large hammer.”
Xander nodded. “Just carrying it around is a good workout. I like to keep in shape.”
“Ah!” Jack said, thinking he'd figured it out as they pulled out of the bus station. “You're a member of that group that likes to play with medieval weapons and dress in period costumes.”
“Swords, crossbows, axes and other odds and ends. It keeps me in shape and gives me some bragging rights,” Xander replied cheerfully, not correcting his uncle's mistaken impression.
“Unfortunately guns have made pretty much all other weapons obsolete.”
“Not hardly.” Xander grinned. “Guns have their limitations; they are limited by the amount of ammo carried, suck at stealth and require constant maintenance.”
“Crossbows are the same,” Jack pointed out.
“Just about, but they are pretty stealthy and require less maintenance, unless the weather conditions really suck of course, in that case they need even more.”
“True,” Jack agreed. “And they've got some new synthetics that they use in place of the regular organic bits that have opened up that range quite a bit. They've even redesigned the bolts to reduce drag and noise.”
“Seems like I'm not the only person who likes crossbows.”
“I never said I didn't like them, I just said guns are generally more useful,” Jack defended himself.
Xander nodded. “In large scale combat, where you aren't trying to be stealthy and have strong supply lines, guns are great. In smaller conflicts without steady supplies, older weapons are generally preferable.”
“The Air Force has mostly trained me in guns, some crossbow, bladed weapons and most recently staves.”
“On the battlefield the staff is king,” Xander quoted.
“It also keeps you in shape and helps you develop your situational awareness. You have to know exactly when something enters your zone and the exact distance they are from you for different strategies,” Jack expanded.
Xander grinned. “But the whole spinning staff thing does not stop crossbow bolts, no matter how many star wars movies you've seen.”
Jack was about to ask how he'd found that out when his cell phone rang. “Oh, for crying out loud.”
“Problem?” Xander asked.
“Yeah, my cell phone is strictly for emergencies. So most likely something's on fire and I have to go put it out, because everyone else has forgotten what water does.”
Xander couldn't help but laugh, often having felt that way himself at times and positive his friends had as well.
“Jack here,” Jack said, answering his phone. “Yes sir, of course sir, but sir- yes sir I'm on my way.”
“Problems?” Xander asked as Jack sped up and moved quickly around the light traffic.
“I hope you brought a book to read. I have to go straight to base. Looks like you're stuck going with me. Down side, most of the base is a restricted area so you'll be stuck in VIP quarters for the most part. Upside, the cafeteria has blue jello and hopefully this'll only take a day or two.”
“So just eat and sleep? I think I can handle that. They've got a gym I can use right?” Xander asked, quickly adding, “And the hammer stays with me.”
“Shouldn't be a problem, I'll say it’s cultural,” Jack assured him.
“Cultural?” Xander asked confused.
“Yeah, cultural. Means it holds religious significance, meaning if they don't have a good reason or don't feel like proving it in court, you can walk around with it,” he summed up. “And while it is a weapon, it’s not exactly one you can sneak around with, so it'll be fine.”
“Works for me,” Xander replied agreeably.
“If you have anything on you that'll make security jumpy, now is the time to remove it, we have five minutes until we arrive,” Jack said.
“What makes them jumpy and why would you assume I'd have something that'd make them so?” Xander asked curiously, wondering what Jack had heard about him.
“I'm not assuming anything, which is why I mentioned it, but I noticed you have a knife at the small of your back and a couple of bulges that have nothing to do with being male. I have no idea what sets security off. I've seen Daniel walk past with a sword and they didn't twitch, but someone tried to bring a furby in and they went nuts. So really it’s a crapshoot.”
“I feel naked without a couple of weapons on me. Sunnydale isn't the safest place when the sun goes down, but I don't have anything that'll set off a metal detector,” Xander assured him.
“You're the one that'll have to explain it to them,” Jack warned him. “And trust me the brig is less fun than the VIP quarters.”
“Talking from experience?”
“Oh yeah, for some reason the general just doesn't get my sense of humor, so I end up spending a night or two there when I push things too far,” Jack agreed.
“Ouch, that’s gotta suck. Not the time itself, but all the black marks on your record,” Xander replied, a faint memory of a checkered record in mind.
“Nah, he has a pretty free hand in running things, so it never makes it to file. It’s really just to give him some time to calm his ulcer and so it looks like he's coming down hard on me to some of the higher ups.”
“The life of a deep space telemetry officer is fraught with peril,” Xander said mock wisely, misquoting a cartoon he'd seen.
“Yeah,” Jack drawled out, knowing his nephew didn't buy his cover story for an instant. “You don't seem to be asking a lot of questions about it.”
“I could say it’s the worst cover ever, but I've heard worse. I noticed you didn't ask a lot of pointed questions yourself.”
“Don't ask, don't tell,” Jack smirked. “Everyone has secrets and things other people don't need to know. In my case it’s backed by government authority and in your case it’s backed by the fact that you're family and I trust that if I need to know something you'll tell me. I'm taking a lot on faith here, but family means something to me.”
Xander could feel the last of his tension melt away at that and offered Jack a bright smile. “And I understand that you can't tell me about your work, so we're good even with all the secrets having?”
Jack smirked at Xander's wording. “Yeah, we're good, and we're here,” he said as they pulled up to a guard post on the mountainside.
The guard recognized Jack and waved him through, having been notified he was inbound to deal with an emergency. They drove into a parking garage built into the mountain itself.
Parking the jeep Jack just remembered to grab Xander's suitcase as Xander pulled the hammer out of its bag so it was visible before heading for another security checkpoint in front of the elevator heading down into the base proper.
Jack half expected to be spending the next 15 minutes helping Xander through security, especially with the way the guard's eyes shot open at seeing them approach. 'Must be the hammer.' he thought to himself and was mildly surprised when the guard simply waved them through. 'Things must be worse than I thought.'
The ride down was a lot quicker than Xander expected, giving them little time to say anything. Not that there was anything to say at the moment, as he could see that Jack was mentally gearing himself up for whatever fire they wanted him to put out.
Jack waved down an airman and handed him Xander's suitcase with instructions to settle him into the VIP quarters and get him a badge before rushing off to change.
Xander turned to the airman. “I still can't believe you beat me for the class clown award.”
“Hey! Prop comics were in at the time, milord.”
“You guys are still doing that?” Xander snickered. “And how many of us are here anyway? I saw Martin on security up top.”
John shrugged. “I think we got about a dozen of those that I know and some of those are friends of friends that we didn't figure out came from Sunnydale until later. All of us still know you and remember what you did for us, you and your friends. So if you need anything – ask and please give us a heads up if anything Sunnydalish is going down.”
“I'm on vacation at the moment,” Xander explained as they walked. “I need to let my latest injuries heal before I get back to work.”
“Wow, I never thought you'd take a break for anything. I've seen you fight with your arm in a sling before,” John pointed out. “It’s just hard to think of you not being on the Hellmouth.”
“Oh, I'm still there, but me and my injuries are here.” Xander grinned.
“How did you pull that off?” John asked curiously.
“Magic doohicky, I split off all my injuries into me and left an uninjured Xander behind. Took some futzing with it to figure out how to pull it off, but man has it come in handy.”
“If you ever get a spare, let me know – that sounds like fun, and a great way to surprise the wife,” John joked.
“Oh yeah, it’s real useful, but I'm way ahead of you with the surprise your girl idea. I used it for that several times on both of us.”
“A threesome your girl can't complain about, and one that doesn't feel weird,” John grinned.
“Actually, one time it really felt weird, because I accidentally separated into male and female versions of myself. Anya was a bit disappointed we wouldn't do things to each other.”
“Huh, wouldn't it be like masturbation? But then again if you enjoyed it as her would you be straight or gay? I think I just sprained part of my brain,” John said, putting Xander's suitcase down and rubbing his temples.
“Yep, exactly my point. Some things man wasn't meant to know.”
John opened the door to the VIP quarters and Xander was pleasantly surprised to find it looked like an expensive motel suite.
“Cool,” Xander said, seeing the widescreen TV and stereo.
“Let’s get you your clearance badge and then we can see who's around, so we can grab some lunch and catch up, unless you're tired?”
“Nah, I'm good and food sounds great.”
“Excellent, well let’s see Jensen about the badge then,” John said, leading him to a small office.
“Wendy?” Xander asked, shocked at seeing the young redhead there.
“Alex?!” Wendy replied for roughly the same reason.
“You two know each other?” John asked, surprised since he'd checked if she was from Sunnydale when she joined the command.
“Yeah, met her while I was on vacation,” Xander volunteered. “The only time I left Sunnydale for any length of time was after graduation. I planned on a long road trip but for some reason I never left Oxnard.”
“That was your vacation?” Wendy stared at him stunned. “What do you *do*
John gave Xander a confused look.
Xander shrugged. “Oxnard was a sleepy little one demon town, so I killed the one demon and spent the summer cleaning up his minions. No big deal, the master was barely fifty years old and thought he was Dracula reborn. He turned a bunch of LARPers. Any time I put my hand on my head they'd stop attacking and discuss character motivation until I caught my breath.”
“So you spent the entire summer fighting vamps instead of seeing the US?” John asked.
“That and stripping,” Wendy chimed in.
Xander sighed. “I knew that was going to come back to bite me on the ass.”
“The King of Sunnydale was a stripper?” John asked thoughtfully. “Was it that much fun?”
If not for Anya firmly inoculating him against embarrassment he would have blushed. “Actually it’s a lot of fun, I mean the girls cheering for you to get naked is one hell of an ego boost and the money is nothing to sneeze at.”
“The King?” Wendy asked with a grin.
Xander laughed. “I declared myself the King of Cretins when I was in high school and I dated the head cheerleader who was known affectionately as Queen C.”
“Yes, but that’s not why we called you King.” John grinned.
“Really? What else could it be?” Xander asked.
“You organized us and led us into battle, although some still insist you should be named General for that, but the real reason that I and many others of the common people call you King was simple; as a young man Arthur drew Excalibur from the stone, becoming King of all England. You, sir drew the stick from Cordelia's ass, just as impressive a feat, making you King of Sunnydale!” John said grandly.
“Cordelia wasn't that bad,” Xander said rolling his eyes.
“Well not around you, no,” John admitted. “Arguing with you used to be about as friendly as she got. If you could have seen what she was like away from you … man. So yeah, you made her human. Which I'm sure she would have denied before you two dated, as too many poor people are human for her to admit to it.”
“Seriously?” Xander asked. “I always thought she was at her most venomous when dealing with me.”
“Nope, you brought out her soft … her less harsh side and you led us into battle, and you and your friends saved most of our lives, personally at times. Buffy got the class protector award, because she needed to know she was making a difference. You just needed to be acknowledged. Cordelia actually did grow up because she's the one who let us know that the best thing we could do was to acknowledge what you'd done for us – so we voted and naming you our king won.”
“What about Oz, Willow and Giles?”
“Oz found that any time his group put out CD's they'd sell out. Dingoes wasn't that great a band, but we all supported them. Willow was no longer teased by anyone but Harmony, who pointed out that her job was to be a bitch to everyone and she couldn't quit or it'd ruin her record.”
“Huh?” Xander asked.
“None of us asked,” John said seriously. “We're pretty sure that knowing what went on in her head …” He shuddered. “That way lies madness.”
“Good point,” Xander agreed.
“And as for Giles, well we tracked down the guy who posted the video of him and some gorgeous blond having sex on a patrol car on the net and made him take it down and destroy all copies.”
“Good call,” Xander said.
“Anyway, we need to get a security badge for Harris, Alexander of Sunnydale.”
“You're already in the system,” Wendy said from her terminal where she’d already started the process while they were talking.
“Want to use your current clearance? It'll cover everything but the Gate room. You need to take a course to go out in there.”
“I'm already in the system?” Xander asked surprised.
“Yeah, one Richard Wilkins the third signed off with General MacTavish of the Sunnydale armory for clearance to use anything hand held or shoulder fired as needed four years ago. No further details.”
“Huh, I guess Dick wanted to make sure I didn't screw up the inventory after we took out the Judge,” Xander guessed.
“We also have a security clearance for Top Secret on a need to know basis signed by … it’s blacked out. You have the clearance but we aren't cleared to know who cleared you or when for that matter.”
“The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.” Xander chuckled, shaking his head.
Wendy waved a laminated badge in the air to cool it. “So, lunch?”
“Yeah.” John grinned, “I want more embarrassing details to spread about his majesty.”
“I get no respect.” Xander snickered, looking forward to some friendly verbal sparring.
“We're Americans, we always smear royalty.” John said with a grin.Typing by Dogodma, Typos by Dogbertcarroll.