Contents Under PressureAuthor:
After blowing up Sunnydale High School to save his friends and classmates from becoming the Mayor's Ascension feast, Xander is ordered to serve time in the military -- or else serve time in prison.Rating:
PG for now, rating will go up in later chapters.Pairings:
TBA - probably both slash and het.Warnings:
AUAUAU, and more AU. There's most likely going to be slash and het, adult language, and probably a little character bashing somewhere along the way. Other than that, it should be noted that I am not certain of dates and/or branches of the military in regards to certain characters. Please be kind in correcting me, or simply let it slide as 'artistic license'.Fandom(s):
More's the pity : I do not own the copyrights or characters to either the Buffy the Vampire Slayer
or Stargate SG-1
series. The following work of fiction is written for my own amusement, and the only "profit" I foresee coming of it is in sharing the entertainment with friends and fellow fanfic readers.Notes:
Alright, gonna be consistant about this, so pay attention, boys and girls. Thoughts are in italics
, and the not-here party on phone calls are in bold italics
. Any time Xander is having an internal conversation with either Daisy or Sarg, I'll put them in between slashes. \Daisy\
-- and hope that isn't too confusing for anyone but me *lol*Notes, the second:
I've seen a few stories like this running around TTH, but hopefully mine's just different enough not to ruffle feathers. For the record, this fic was started 2 years ago, before I'd had much contact with TTH at all. Just trying to clear that up. Yeah. Anyways, on with the show.~ Part 1 ~
It had been loads of fun -- not to mention 'morally satisfying' -- to stand back and watch the carefully placed explosives do their job on Mayor Wilkins' demonic snakey self. That it also took down most of the hated Sunnydale High was simply icing on the cake. And true to form, the rest of their sleepy little town went back to their mundane lives with no more than a few words of sympathy for the entire affair.
The Monday afternoon following graduation, each surviving graduate received a very pretty letter from the city council apologizing for the 'unfortunate events' that had prevented them from walking across the stage, shaking hands with Principle Snyder and their former teachers, and receiving their diplomas in traditional style. A second letter, from the school board, assured each young person that they were truly freed from having to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak; it would take months to rebuild the high school, and no one wanted to keep the graduates from moving on to their new adult lives. Also enclosed were their diplomas, transcripts, and letters of recommendation -- even for the slackers.
Unfortunately for one Xander Harris, this meant that he had the grades in hand to make him a more savory candidate for agencies he would never have approached in regards to his future. Helped along by a few disgruntled eyewitnesses (formerly aides to the deceased Mayor), Xander received a third letter in the mail that fine, school-free Monday.To Alexander LaVelle Harris
617 Cedar Hill Drive
Sunnydale, California 90306
The events of 28 May, 1999 show that you are directly responsible for the destruction of Sunnydale High School. It should come as no surprise that your recent activities have been noticed by federal authorities. (See the enclosed documents citing each of the laws of which you are being charged.)
A trial date has not been set at this point. You could be facing up to 25 years in prison. A criminal lawyer versed in federal court proceedings would best be able to advise you on your rights in this matter.
However, we feel that you might wish to consider another option.
If, of your own free will, you agree to enlist in any branch of the military within the next 14 days, we will wave the charges and keep them from your permanent record. After reviewing your history, there are three special task forces that could ultilize and focus your specific talents. (See enclosed synopses.)
It would be in your best interests to study your options and make a decision in short order. For your convenience, the primary contacts for each group are listed with each synopsis. Do feel free to call any or all for a phone interview.
By the time he came to the "Sincerely" part, Xander's mind faded into darkness.~ * ~
A restless night kept him from sleep. Oh, it had been satisfying to see Wilkins end up as so many pieces of flambed reptile when the library went boom... but somehow it didn't seem worth the effort anymore. He had to sign away the next 5 years of his life -- or more -- to the military, or face prison time. Lots of prison time. And not that he had anything against the big bad inmates of such fine institutions, but it really wasn't in his plans to be the claimed bitch of someone named Bubba or Momma Jo.
The thought never crossed his mind to bring this newest problem to his parents. They were blissfully ignorant (drunkenly blind) of his extracurricular activities, and wouldn't understand blowing up the school as a viable option when dealing with a politician-cum-demon. He did briefly entertain the notion of calling Giles about it; an idea that was squelched quickly. The Watcher hardly seemed to like him most of the time, only tolerating him for Buffy's benefit. And the Slayer Herself? Wouldn't have a clue on how to fight this one. Which left his last and closest friend. Willow's eyes would get all teary and sad, and she'd want to spend hours looking at all the laws and try to find loopholes to exploit. Leading them back to square one.
After rereading the letter, Xander came to the conclusion that nothing would help, other than signing up with one of the groups. Some tiny piece of Halloween memory told him that 'someone' wanted him bad enough to make a huge ordeal of this. Bad enough to bring in the big guns. Which meant a threat to his girls.
Flipping back to the last page, he skimmed the synopses provided. The first sounded too close to Black Ops for his comfort, and he didn't like the name of its contact : Harry Maybourne. Next up was some sort of liason position based up in Washington or Oregon (geography wasn't his best subject). Sounded boring, really. Which left the last as his best bet.
With shaking hands, he picked up the phone and dialled, then hung up before the first ring went through. It wouldn't hurt to make sure his parents were out of the house first, right? He hadn't been paying much attention to their actions, and might have missed one of them. Three steps into the living room, he gave up deluding himself. He was alone. Metaphorically and physically. Slouching onto the sofa, he placed the call and let it go through.
On the second ring, a pleasant, almost laughing voice answered. O'Neill here.
Xander cleared his throat, hoping to rid himself of the tightness that was nearly choking him. In a strangled croak, he said, "Colonel Jonathon O'Neill? My name is Xander, sorry Alexander
Harris."Ah, Mr. Harris! I was hoping you'd call. Word got out who my competitors were, and I'd hate to lose a good recruit to either of them. Let's assume you have loads of questions and start with the Q & A, alright?
He caught himself nodding, then smacked his forehead. "Yeah, probably a good way to do it. Uh... can I ask what you've heard about me first? Cus really, this letter is formal and fancy and it doesn't say much plain except for the threats part."
Full, healthy baritone laughter broke his babble before it took hold. Hold on, Alexander. Or Xander -- that's what you prefer, isn't it?
He barely waited for the affirmative before moving on. Let me give ya the short-n-sweet version : You've been working toward the 'common good' for the past three years now, but on the sly. Which means you can keep secrets, you can take care of yourself in weird circumstances, and aren't too freaked out by the unusual. How's that cover the technical stuff?
Letting out a breath, Xander relaxed just a little. This guy sounded like someone he could trust, and probably get along with as a boss. He was down to earth, had a sense of humor, and knew how to say things that were just the right combination of plain-speak and cryptic.
"You're off to a good start, Colonel. But how did you get my name, and why would I be a good addition to your agency?"Okay now, that's where it gets sorta... sticky.
There was a pause, and another voice in the background let Xander know that his interview might not be so one-on-one. Here's how we can do things. The project I'm working on is super-duper, extra secret. The kind that'll never make it to TV or papers. Which means that you can't visit the base without signing a crapload of non-disclosure agreements first. But!
The teen could almost see a finger raised with the word. That doesn't mean I can't come out to Sunny Cal to meet you, and answer more questions there. Face to face interviews are the best way, all those neat gestures and facial expressions mean more than just words, y'know?
Again, Xander found himself nodding at the Colonel's words. He could like this man, an idea that scared as much as relieved him. "Yeah, that sounds good." They were at the planning stage, which meant he had to ask, "Does this mean that my '14 days' is dealt with, or do I need to worry about MPs banging on my door?"
A bark of laughter. Oh kid, you have no idea! Sorry, but I can't explain what's so funny until you sign up. But remind me if-n-when, okay?
More chuckles. You're smart to ask, good thinking. To answer, yes it hits the pause button on your countdown. The clock only gets turned off after you've put your John Hancock on your decision though, so don't get comfy yet. Now, how about this : me and my team will be down to meet you... today's Tuesday? Alright, let's say Friday then. We'll fly down then find a hotel, spend a long weekend answering whatever questions won't get us in trouble, and get to know each other a bit. There's still going to be things we can't answer until you sign on the dotted line, but hopefully you'll get enough info to make an informed choice.
Oh yeah, Xander liked this guy. He didn't feel like the covert type, even if his job was top secret. 'Salt of the earth' was how his Granny would've described him.
"Sounds good to me. But, uh, you might want to make sure you get here near lunch. So I can show you and your team around and..."And tell them about the wild nightlife? Don't worry, Xander. I'll brief them on what I know. There's one of my kids that won't believe til she sees, but the other two'll take it in stride. Wouldn't want to lose anyone to civilian accidents.
This time a naughty little snicker, full of some in-joke. Gonna be good to meet ya, young Master Harris. I'll give you a call when I know our schedule.
They said the appropriate goodbyes and hung up, leaving Xander feeling oddly optimistic. He picked up the letter again and thought about calling the other two contacts, but something made him pause. O'Neill had told him that their meeting would extend his deadline, but that wasn't all. Maybourne's name -- or the description of his group -- something just felt off
with that one. Sunnydale reflexes maybe, but he was leery of giving any indication of interest. And the third left him feeling nothing at all. Maybe I should try meditating a little, give Daisy a chance to be heard in more than 'instinctual' feelings. Huh, later. Need to give the gang a heads up before the military arrives.~ * ~
Thursday night found him in the middle of a research session (ie: Post Explosion party) at Giles' apartment, and he still had no idea how to tell the gang what was going on with his legal problems.
In a way, it would almost be easier if they weren't told anything. Let them think he was talking to a normal, run-of-the-mill recruitment officer. Heck, Willow should remember how he'd wanted to join the Air Force when they were little -- he could use that, skip the worry and nagging and interrogation. Or he could explain the whole mess and watch as Buffy threatened the secret military types, and Giles and Wills went on the warpath with the research for a way out.
Not that he wanted
to sign his life away, but he was more than a little interested now. Tuesday after the call, he had gotten something to eat and laid down on his bed, letting himself slip into meditation while his lunch digested. Part of him wanted to trust this O'Neill guy, but after so many 'oops' judgement calls with mummies and bug ladies, it wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion. And a third, if Sarge decided to join the party.Flashback to Tuesday afternoon\Our new alpha?\
questioned a low growl he had come to trust.Yeah... He sounds like he's being as honest as he can be. Secret operation -- what sorta government agency wants to recruit a kid fresh out of high school for covert ops?
The reply to his worries came in the form of a gravelly voice, /The kind that's smart enough to train ya itself, instead of trusting some generic boot camp to do the job for them./Hey Sarge! Haven't heard from you since we set up plans for the explosives./Nothin' wrong with takin' some R&R, is there?/
Xander nearly jerked out of his calm state of mind. The army personality left over from the previous year's Halloween fun wasn't known for joking around. That he felt this calm and loose about the situation was as good a sign as he was likely to get. Not only that, but Daisy (the remnants of his hyena possession two years ago) seemed to have no reservations about listening to Colonel O'Neill. So I take it that you two have no problems with meeting O'Neill and his group? Cus this step, it's kinda important... not just for me, but you two as well. Eventually, someone's gonna twig that I'm not alone up here. Heavy with the freaksome, something that could get me strapped to some mad scientist's examination table, with lots of sharp, pointy things to make life more interesting.\Must smell first. Nothing certain.\/Wanna see how he treats his team, and how they react. That's always the most telling sign of a good CO to follow./
As he let himself drift back up to full awareness, Xander had to agree with his 'greymates' -- the term he had coined for the two personalities who shared his grey matter. Sure, there were a few things left to worry about, but he had a pretty good feeling about the team leader. Ah well, no sense stressing any more than necessary over it.
The next two days were spent doing the normal things that many recent graduates did : sleeping, watching dumb programs on daytime television, eating at random intervals, and just generally goofing off. There was no rush, no pressure, and no reason to get motivated. No patrols had been called until Friday night (where he would probably have to bow out, thanks to his guests), and his girls had plans to spend all their waking hours at the mall. Ah, being deserted for fashion. What a way to go!End Flashback
Pizza and sweets devoured, the group split to their respective homes, with Xander having told none of his friends about the next day's visitors. He felt a slight twinge of guilt for withholding information, but it was very very small. Not even in the eye tic catagory. The girls had collected catalogues for UCSunnydale and seemed happy with their prospective collegiate futures. So why couldn't he have plans to make too? As soon as he had an answer, he would have to remember to tell them. Then pray he was far enough away not to feel the tremor in the force when they screeched about not knowing beforehand. Ouch.
No matter the tempest awaiting him after the 'unveiling' of his maybe-might-be plans, Xander honestly felt it would be better not to talk it over with Willow, Buffy and Giles. The only one likely to understand (and not throw a hissy) was Oz, and the werewolf had disappeared. So... not tonight.
Saying his goodbyes, he quickly walked home.
The lights were on in the living room, where he found his parents watching some reality show on TV, doing their best to make Coors an endangered species. With a sigh, he grabbed the phone and reminded them not to stay up too late. Like it would do any good. His father had missed so many days of work that he was about to lose his fourth job since the start of the year. Well, one good thing about joining O'Neill -- I won't be around for the fireworks when dear old Dad gets his latest set of walking papers. And speaking of the Colonel...
He let his fingers do the walking and dialled the number.O'Neill here. This Xander? Was just about to call you, kid.
Xander let himself chuckle lightly. It unnerved him how much at ease he felt with the older man, but it was a good feeling too. One he might just like to get used to. "Yeah, thought I'd verify your arrival time before hitting the sack."Good timing! Looks like we're going to be making it into Sunnydale earlier than expected. Barring incursion or infestation, we should get there around 1100 hours tomorrow morning. So why don't you have someplace in mind for us to treat you to lunch, your choice, and we can get started with the meet-n-greet, okay?
"Think I've got just the place. How's Thai sound? One of my favorite restaurants, but I don't get to go very often." His mouth watered as he thought of KeiSohn's succulent strips of pork. "Unless one of your team has a weak stomach or just doesn't like spicy oriental food...?"
A rich laugh. Nah, sounds great. My kids will eat damned near anything that can't outrun them. So, where would you have us meet you?
Now that was the hard part. If he told them his address (not that he didn't figure them already having it on file, but still), then he took the chance of having them meet his 'rents. If he had them wait somewhere in town, the girls were liable to stumble across them -- and him -- on one of their shopping frenzies. And for some reason, it just felt... sordid to meet them at a hotel. Huh. Well, that only left one option : "I should be able to meet you at the airport. Catch a bus into LA and ride back with you to SunnyD. Sound good?"
The faint sounds of papers rustling and taps on a keyboard echoed down the phone line. Finally, O'Neill answered, Actually, we can arrange for you to pick up the rental van in Sunnydale, then drive to the base airfield halfway to LA. Save you some wear and tear on your wheels, and give us a chance to break the ice before we hit town. You do have a valid driver's license, right?
With an eyeroll, Xander allowed himself to be teased. "Naturally! Wouldn't be a SoCal man of the times without one. So I'll need to get to the rental place -- only one major car rental in town -- around 8am, allowing for traffic would put me at the base around 10am." He waited for the agreement. "Right, then I wait at the gates, or is there some sort of pass I'll need to pick you guys up inside the base?"Damn kid, you don't go half measures, do ya?
The Colonel didn't wait for a reply, but his tone was pleasantly surprised. We'll make sure you can get as close as possible at the base, which might not be at the strip itself. Just make sure you have ID on ya, cus the guards'll be tight. Or they'd better be,
the last said with a warning growl.
Snickering, he acknowledged how it might not be a good idea for the sentries to be lax when a visiting hotshot was around. "Aw, come on, Dad! You never let me have any fun."
Silence met his flippant remark, and Xander was ready to babble apologies. He opened his mouth, and nearly sobbed in relief when O'Neill's loud laughter broke in.Y'know Xander, I think we're gonna get along great. Get some sleep -- Daniel and Sam will probably talk your ear off tomorrow. G'night, kid.
"Night, sir. I'm actually beginning to look forward to this."