A Chance Meeting
Disclaimer: I do not own either set of non-original characters and I do not make money off of this endeavour.
Time period: After Season seven of Buffy. And the other show, season 3.
Sydney shifted in her seat, trying to ease the discomfort of the bruising on her torso. The chair in the room was more comfortable than the plastic torture devices out in the hall, but it was still a hospital chair.
A slight fluctuation in the steady bleep of the heart monitor jerked her attention back to the figure in the hospital bed. She sat up straight, ignoring the twinges of the strains and bruises.
“Xander?” she said.
No answer. He remained as still and silent as he had the last three days. Frowning, she noted the tubes feeding him oxygen through his nose were slightly off kilter. She leaned forward and adjusted them.
A sound near the door caught her attention. Looking up she met her father’s gaze. She voiced what he probably already knew, “No change.”
She looked back down at Xander’s face and she heard her dad move from his position in the door. A hand settled on her shoulder, giving a gentle squeeze.
“This isn’t your fault, Sydney.”
She looked up at her dad. Jack Bristow was an experienced CIA agent but when it came to his daughter he wasn’t always objective. “How is it not my fault? I got him involved in this.” Looking away she gave a bitter laugh. “I should know better by now.”
He crouched down in front of her and said, “He would have involved himself anyway.”
She looked back to him, hearing something unexpected in his voice.
“I did the check that you asked for,” he said. “There are a number of files on Sunnydale.”
“On a no-name town in southern California?”
He nodded. “Most of them are classified need to know. I can’t get at them. One file I was able to shake loose,” he inclined his head toward the figure on the bed. “Was Alexander’s.”
“Xander has a file?”
“Yes,” her father said. “In three different government agencies, and even then it was compartmentalised. Most of what he has done to earn the file is blacked out. But the Psych profile is there. And, Sydney, he would have involved himself even if you hadn’t been there. That’s just his nature. If you hadn’t been there he would probably be dead.”
She stared into her father’s eyes and some tight knot in her chest eased and her eyes then turned to the figure in the bed. Of course the fact that he had a file wasn’t reassuring. Civilians having government files was not a good sign.
Her father obviously picked up on her thoughts, saying, “I don’t think you need to worry about why he has the file.”
She looked back to her father. “What?”
“I managed to speak with an old friend in NSA, one of the agencies that had Xander's file. Among other things I was told categorically to drop it. But I received the impression that he thought Xander was something of a,” he paused as if searching for a word. “Hero.”
After a moment a smile touched her features. “I could believe that,” She said. “He handled himself well, and he saved my life.”
Her father nodded, “I read your report. The FBI is handling the investigation, but I’m doing my own inquiry into the gunman that recognized you.”
On an impulse she leaned forward and hugged him. “Thanks dad.” His arms went tentatively around her after a moment’s hesitation.
After they pulled apart he glanced to the bed and then back to her and offered, “Judging by the amount of the file that was blacked out, he’s been through a lot. He’ll be alright.”
She didn’t say anything, just nodded.
He stood back up. “I have to go and give a report on the Audi investigation.” He looked at her, hesitating and then said, “You should get some rest.”
“I will. But I think I’d have a little trouble sleeping right now.”
He left after another hesitation. She thought he was going to make another comment, but stopped.
She stared after him for long seconds. Emotions. They seemed to be the only thing that could make her father hesitate.
Understandable considering how long he had been undercover at SD-6, and how much emotional repression it had taken to work there.
It was a situation Sydney had come to understand far too well.
She sighed and turned back to the bed. The steady rhythm of Xander’s heart remained unchanged. She took some comfort from that.
When the ceiling had caved in, Xander had took the brunt of the falling material. It should have killed them both, but the beam had caught on something again, just inches from crushing them. It had still put enough weight on them to break several of Xander’s ribs and make it extremely difficult for her to breath. She had blacked out sometime during the interminable period she was trapped. Xander had been knocked unconscious in the initial collapse and he hadn’t woken up since.
She had returned to consciousness briefly when the rescue teams pulled them from the rubble, and had woken at the hospital hours later. Her injuries weren’t serious, but she had a prescription for rest from the doctors. She’d set up camp in Xander’s room when the doctors had released her.
The afternoon passed with no change in Xander’s condition and Sydney was returning to Xander’s room from the hospital’s cafeteria when her cell phone rang.
She checked the phone number of the caller. The number ID was blocked. Someone was calling her from a secured line.
“Sydney, hey. I found something I thought I should ask you about. Because, well, you obviously care about the guy an…”
Even if she hadn’t known the voice the rambling way of speaking would still be a dead give-away. “Marshall?”
“Oh, yeah! Yeah it’s me. Listen, I was doing a optimising of the joint computer network. Because this guy at the FBI made a really novice mistake, I mean really-”
The tired ache in her chest and back made her cut off his ramble. “Marshal?”
“Right, the point. Um, well, I know care about this Alexander Harris, obviously, because you sitting at the hospital and-”
A sweet as he was she couldn’t deal with this right now. “Marshal, please?”
He said, in a burst, “I found someone trying to hack into the network. I've got them contained of course, but the person seems to be trying to find out the condition of your friend.”
Someone trying to find out about Xander? Who would… “Willow.”
“Can you direct what they find?”
“You mean control what information they get? Yeah, sure.”
Sydney thought for a moment then said, “Keep her out of anything sensitive, but let her find out that Xander is all right.”
“Uh, okay. Are you sure…”
“They’re just concerned friends, Marshall.”
“You welcome.” His voice sounded like he’d begun to turn away from the phone, but then got louder again, as if he’d suddenly turned back. “Oh, and I just wanted to say that I’m…well, really glad your okay. I mean everyone here is, you know. We were kinda worried about you.”
“I’ll see you at work in a week.”
He hung up and Sydney put the phone away.
She entered Xander’s room and was about to reclaim her seat when the figure on the bed twitched.
“Xander?” She leaned over him.
A brown eye slowly opened and blinked groggily.
His voice was barely a whisper. “Sydney?”
Her smile was impossible to control, not that she really wanted to.