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Summary: The citizens of Atlantis have seen a lot in their four years. But they're not prepared for the chaos two Slayers, two witches, a Seer and team leader Xander bring with them...

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered
Stargate > Xander-Centered
WildForceFR131150,51416546,9158 Feb 129 May 12Yes

Chapter Two

Author's note: Quick clarification. In this universe, the SGC already know about the things that go bump in the night. Xander and his team will not need to make any explanations to them.

Enjoy.


Chapter Two



"Please put me on the team. Please, please, please?"

"For the last time, Andrew, no. Too many of the Circle are going as it is. I can't afford you to be gone as well. I need you here to deal with Clem."

Andrew sighed, slumping in his chair and folding his arms. Giles ignored the theatrics, heading out of the room. "No fair," Andrew muttered.

"Whining. Anyway, it's your own fault for being indispensable," Chris told him. "Here, look."

He squinted at the display on the screen, trying to read what looked like a map. "Is that it?"

"Cheyenne Mountain," Chris agreed. "It's well done, too – the scans don't show anything particular down there."

"It is a secret base," Dawn reminded him, tapping at the control. The map vanished. "They want us there as soon as possible. Xander is thinking day after tomorrow. Does that work for you?"

"Yeah. Have we got communicators?"

"Willow's just finishing up. It's more of a tech job, really – I think she misses doing that kind of thing."

"I should go see if I can help," Andrew announced, wandering off.

"You ok?" Dawn asked Chris.

"Hmm? Yeah, fine. Why?"

"You were very quiet in the meeting."

"Enough people were talking, I didn't feel like I had anything that really needed to be added." He studied her for a moment. "We'll make sure Xander's alright. That's why we're going, right?"

"We want you all to be ok," Dawn told him. She held his gaze for a moment before grinning. "Otherwise we'd have to deal with Wyatt, and that's just not something we want to have to do."

"I can see your point there," Chris agreed. "We'll do our best, promise. Where are the other two? The military?"

"Graham's gone to his room. Vida took Taylor off somewhere to talk. You should go home, Chris. Spend tomorrow with your family."

"Yeah, good idea," he surrendered. "I'll go find Parrish and bring her along. I'll see you morning after next."

"That's fine. See you then."

Xander came in as Chris orbed out. "He gone home?"

"Yeah. Well, to find Parrish and then go." She called the map back up, staring at it.

"It's not that far away, Dawnster," Xander told her. "And Chris is going to stick with me all the time. We'll be back here the second anything even looks like going wrong."

"I know. Just make sure Andrew doesn't hide away – he really wants to see those aliens."

"We're not even going off base!"

"Try convincing him of that."



When Chris and Parrish came back to Slayer Headquarters two days later the place was bustling. Emily and Vida were carefully checking all their weapons; Ariel, without any specific preparations to make, was watching bemusedly. Andrew was talking at them about the various kinds of aliens they might meet. None of them was paying much attention, though Chris couldn't blame them. Andrew was currently discussing the finer points of Klingon cuisine.

"Parrish!" Kennedy appeared around the group. "Willow wanted you to go see her, she's putting together some herbs and stuff for you and she wants to make sure you have everything you need. Chris, Xander wants you. He's up in his office with Giles."

"Thanks." Chris leaned in over Ariel to snag a nice athame, passing it to Parrish and turning away.

"...if we should need it," Giles was saying when he pushed open the office door. "Ah, Chris. Come in, please."

"Didn't mean to interrupt," he offered, folding his arms and leaning against the nearest wall. "What's up?"

"Chris, how many people can you orb at once?" Xander asked, looking up from the computer.

"Me and two others, maybe. Why?"

"Only two? What about Parrish?"

"She can't orb at all. Why?"

Xander grimaced, looking at Giles. "This isn't exactly a volunteer assignment for me."

"What?" Chris straightened. "What do you mean?"

"I mean the military made it very clear that I either show up at the base, or they'll arrive to bring me. This ATA is in short enough supply that they don't care who they trample on to get it."

"You run an army of super powered warriors."

"They run an army with bombs and guns and all manner of long range killing implements. Plus they can shut the Council down if they want. The ISC is strong in the supernatural world, but they're stronger in the real world and that's the one we're living in."

Chris grimaced. "I can't manage more than two, but I can drop them and come straight back. And Parrish could call for Leo or Paige. That's the best I can do."

"Right. If it comes to it, get Ariel and Parrish out and come back, alright? That's Plan...O, for orb, I guess."

"Got it," Chris agreed. "Plan O, Ariel and Parrish." He glanced at the files spread over the table. "Got everything you need?"

"Almost. We're not going to run into any demons, as far as we can tell, so I don't need much from here. Did Willow find Parrish?"

"Kennedy did. We brought stuff, you know."

"Can't hurt to have extra," Giles said. "Where is Ariel?"

"Down with the Slayers. You want her?"

"Yes, if you wouldn't mind."

The group around the Slayers had grown – Chris had never met a Slayer who could resist a nice blade – and he had trouble extracting Ariel from the middle of it. Finally he yelled over everyone's heads until she appeared.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

Chris shook his head. "Nothing's wrong. Xander and Giles want to talk to you, if you're free."

"Yeah, sure." She pressed the cleaning cloth she'd been holding into the nearest Slayer's hand and followed him back upstairs. "Is this place always so chaotic?"

"Your first time?"

"Almost. I usually stay in the Observatory with Xanthe and the others. If the Slayers are going out we stay out of their way."

"Most of them get pretty excited about weapons. You ever need to distract a Slayer, show them a weapon they haven’t seen before. They haven't pulled out the Scythe, have they?"

"No, I don't think so."

"You'd know," he assured her, tapping on the door and pushing it open again.

"Ariel!" Xander said brightly. "Come in come in. Sit down somewhere. Wherever."

Chris leaned against the wall again, watching as Ariel perched on the edge of a seat. "Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No. Not at all. I just wanted to make sure you were alright about the team, and the mission and everything. I know it's your first, really, but you used to help out your mom in Phoenix, right?"

"Yes, but we were sort of supposed to keep it secret. Well, we used to. Most people know about us now. I'm fine about the mission, I'm just not sure what you want me to do exactly."

"I just want you to make sure you tell us about anything that triggers your instincts. Even if it seems like a tiny little thing, Ariel, we want you to tell us about it anyway."

“I don’t always see things,” Ariel warned him. “And it doesn’t happen on command. I can’t decide that I want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

“We understand all that. You’re not going to be blamed, I promise. But if you think of anything, tell me or Chris straight away, ok? Interrupt us if you have to.”

"I will," she promised, rising to her feet. "Is that it?"

"Yep. See if you can find Graham and Taylor, will you? I've no idea where they are. Make sure they've eaten something and get them down to the main hall. We'll be going as soon as I find Emily and Vida. Chris, you should rescue Parrish from Willow. She's probably getting threatened."

"You think?" Chris asked, sensing for Parrish as he spoke.

"I love my Willow, but subtle she ain't. We'll be going soon. Head down to the main hall, ok?"

"Sure," Chris agreed, orbing out.

Willow was brandishing various kinds of herbs at Parrish, who was refusing most of them. "Honestly, Willow, I have pretty much everything I need."

"You can never have too much dogwood," Willow insisted.

"Dogwood's only going to be any good if we need to blow something up and don't care who gets hurt. I think that's unlikely where we're going."

"You think?" Chris murmured.

"Yes, Chris, I think it's unlikely," Parrish said firmly. "We don't hurt people, remember?"

"No, you're right. Thanks but no thanks, Willow." Touching Parrish's shoulder, he added, "Are you ready? We've got to meet the others in the main hall."

"Yeah, I'm ready. Got everything. Let's go."

Chris nodded, orbing them away.



The first problem came when the guards on the main gate outside Stargate Command tried to confiscate the group's weapons.

"Oh, come on. I have no depth perception. What could I possibly hit?" Xander protested.

"You cannot pass this point with weapons, sir," the guard said for the fourth time.

"Tell you what," Vida offered. "If you can touch it, you can take it."

Neither guard looked ready to take her up on it, Xander noted thankfully, but they didn't look ready to budge either.

"I can hide them," Chris offered.

"No, they know we have them. Ariel, any ideas?"

"Hand them over," she said with a shrug. "They're hardly going to steal them, and they're definitely not going to let you in with visible weapons."

Xander stared at her for a moment before looking at Graham. "Not going to let us in with visible weapons, huh?"

"Nobody here is permitted to touch you unless you threaten someone. But there are detectors."

"You heard the man." Xander met Chris's eyes before turning back to the guard. "You are now personally responsible for the weapons we are about to hand over, understand? Nobody touches them, nobody moves them anywhere without your knowledge and permission from one of our group. Say 'yes, Sir.'"

The soldier looked to Taylor, who shrugged. "You heard the man."

"Yes sir."

Xander handed over his axe. Vida and Emily, between them, contributed nine daggers, stakes, and crossbow-and-bolts. Chris put the athame he'd been carrying into a carry case himself.

"Make sure no one touches that," he said warningly. "I'll know. No one touches it."

The soldier nodded, gingerly closing the case before looking at Ariel and Parrish. "They don't carry weapons," Chris told him. "Can we go now?"

"Yes sir." The soldier saluted sharply before carefully lifting the carry cases and turning away.

Graham directed the group to the elevator, grinning when Xander caught his eye. "Nice," he murmured.

"Just make sure no one tries to pat us down."

"No one's going to pat you down."

"Shame," Parrish said from just behind them.

"Parrish!" Chris protested.

"Oh, come on, Chris. A girl can look."

"Not while I'm around, she can't," he said firmly.

"Spoilsport."

Another soldier met them at the elevator door, walked them through a scanner which utterly failed to pick up anything, and led them to a conference room. Xander's almost-forgotten soldier memories stirred, and he saluted the general in charge without hesitation. "Sir."

"Mr Harris. Please, sit."

Chairs had been left empty along one side of the long table. Xander took the one beside the general, sensing Vida take up a guard position behind him; Emily sat at the far end, where she'd be able to see everyone. Ariel sat next to Xander, and Parrish slid in beside her.

"There's enough seats for everyone," the general said mildly. Xander turned to see Chris standing by the shuttered windows behind their seats.

"Chris," he said loudly. "Sit."

"I'm fine right here, thanks."

Xander rolled his eyes, glancing at Graham. "You guys sit. You're on the team now. Em, move up a couple."

They reshuffled themselves quickly. Graham leaned forward to meet Xander's eyes. "Xander, General Landry, head of the SGC. Colonel Cam Mitchell, head of SG1. Colonel Sam Carter, Dr Daniel Jackson, Teal'c and Vala Mal Doran. Dr Lam, CMO."

Taylor quickly named everyone on their side of the table, ending with, "And Chris Halliwell lurking at the back there."

"Pleasure," Landry said briskly. "Mr Harris –“

"Xander –"

" – you understand why you're here, yes?"

"To make your shiny technology work," Xander said innocently.

"I'm sorry," Ariel said abruptly. "What are you?"

Vala elbowed Dr Jackson. "I believe she's talking to you."

He looked up from his file, startled. "I'm sorry?"

"What are you?" Ariel repeated.

"Me? I'm, uh, head of linguistics and anthropology..."

"No." Ariel shook her head, pointing first at Vala and then Teal'c. "She's an alien, and so is he. You're not, but you're something else."

"He is definitely something else," Mitchell agreed. "But it's a long, complicated story. Can we maybe do it later? He'd just love to tell you himself."

Ariel stared at him for a moment before turning to Xander. "They're going to take you to the other base. The one in Pegasus."

Vida jerked Xander out of his chair, pushing him towards Emily and slipping into a guard position. Landry was already protesting; Taylor was trying to shout down Chris and Ariel and having very little luck.

The piercing whistle shocked everyone into silence and they turned as one to glare at Colonel Mitchell. “That’s better,” he said calmly. Neither he nor any of his team had moved, though Daniel had one hand on Vala’s arm. “Let’s all just calm down for a minute. Ms DuBois, no one is going to ‘take’ anyone anywhere. Yes, we’d like to have Mr Harris’s talents on Atlantis, but we’re not in the habit of forcing people to work for us against their will.”

“No,” Daniel told Vala as she went to speak. She subsided, scowling, and he let go of her arm. “Ariel, what is it you think you saw?”

“I don’t think I saw anything. He’s going to be on Atlantis.”

“That doesn’t mean we force him there,” Daniel pointed out calmly. “Do the things you see always happen?”

“No...”

“Then let’s not worry about it just yet. We won’t be forcing him to go anywhere during this meeting at least, alright?” He glanced at Xander, repeating “Alright?”

“Yes,” Xander decided, stepping past Vida to reclaim his seat. “Alright. Vida and Emily, stand down.”

Emily sat back down, leaning forward slightly. “They aren’t deliberately lying.”

“Good to know, thank you. Vida, find a seat and sit in it. Now, please.”

Vida backed off, dragging a chair from the other end of the table to sit behind and between Xander and Ariel. “I’m sitting, boss,” she said when he turned to glare at her.

“Good. Stay there.” He turned back to General Landry. “We’re listening.”

“The Pegasus expedition has sent back various pieces of technology. We would appreciate your help in examining some of them. And yes, we would very much like to have you visit Atlantis, but I’m well aware that that must be your choice, not ours. We would not attempt to force you there.”

“Good to know. Tell us about Dr Jackson over there. Not an alien?”

“It’s a really, really long story,” Mitchell warned him.

“I like stories. Impress me.”

Ten minutes later he gestured a time out. “Ok. I give up. Summarize.”

“He used to be floaty energy, now he’s not,” Vala said before anyone else could answer. “Also he’s been evil, but who hasn’t a few times?”

“Not helping,” Daniel muttered.

“No, actually, that does help,” Xander said thoughtfully. “So what’s the plan?”

“Colonel Carter will walk you down to the lab and show you the equipment we have right now. Most of it is touch activated for someone with the gene.”

“I just touch it?”

“Sometimes you have to think ‘on’, too,” Mitchell advised him.

“Ok. Touch, think. I can handle that.”

“Doing two things at once? Might be tricky,” Chris noted. Xander flipped him off amiably.

“I can show the rest of your team to their quarters,” Mitchell offered. “There’s no need for you all to go down to the labs.”

“Ariel, you and Emily come with me. Chris, get everyone else settled in, alright?” Xander rose to his feet. “Nice to meet you, General.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr Harris.”

“Xander. My name is Xander.”

Xander followed Colonel Carter, eyeing the guard behind them curiously. “We rate a guard?”

“Hmm? Just until one of your liaisons catches up,” Carter said absently.

“How is Cassie?”

Carter glanced at him, frowning. “I’m sorry?”

“Cassie Frasier? You know her, right? Her mother worked here.”

“I know Cassie,” Sam agreed.

“I wasn’t at the training house while she was there, but I heard she did very well.”

Sam stopped, stepping into his path. “Forgive me, Mr Harris –“

“Xander –“

“ – But Cassie left your organization. Why do you care?”

Xander shrugged. “You can take the girl out of the Slayers...she doesn’t have to come back, Colonel Carter, she can hide out up here for as long as she wants. But she’s still a Slayer and I’m responsible.”

“He’s just asking you how she’s doing,” Emily added. “Not where she is. I trained with Cassie for a little while, I liked her.”

“She’s doing fine.”

“Thank you.” Xander smiled innocently. Sam frowned, studying him for a moment before turning back towards the lab again.



Touching things, it turned out, was not as much fun as it sounded. Most of them didn't work at all. Some lit up feebly but stopped as soon as Xander let them go. Only one or two stayed working when he put them down.

"Are there many more?" he asked after a while, putting down another unresponsive one.

"We can stop if you want," Sam told him, making a quick note before looking up at him. "It's fine."

"No, no, I said I'd help." He reached for the next one with a sigh.

"Emily!" Ariel was on her feet, hand locked around Emily's wrist. Emily's hand was hovering a few inches from a piece Xander had tried and discarded.

"What?" Emily drew back; Ariel didn't let go until her hand was in her lap. "What's wrong?"

"That was..." Ariel grimaced, reaching out. Her hand hovered over the piece without touching. "Sorry. You shouldn't touch it, though."

"That one isn't working, Ariel," Xander said carefully.

"It isn't working for you."

Sam frowned, sorting through the pieces they hadn't tried yet before holding out what looked like a smooth, rounded stone. "Emily, can you take this please?"

"What is it?" Xander asked with a frown.

"It's decorative. Not dangerous at all. Emily?"

Emily glanced at Ariel, waiting for her nod before taking the piece. It lit up under her touch, glowing feebly. Xander reached over to take it from her and it glowed brightly under his fingers, throwing coloured light over the walls and remaining lit when he put it down.

"Emily, have you been tested for the ATA?" Carter asked.

"No," Xander answered for her. "The Council doesn't test for it - although maybe we should be - and we didn't give your medical department permission to do any testing."

"Would you let us test? It's just a blood test."

Emily glanced at Xander, who shook his head. "We'll discuss it as a team and if we agree, you can test all of us. Are we done here?"

"Yes, we're done." She glanced at Taylor, who'd turned up about half an hour after they'd started. "Escort them back to their quarters, please."

"Yes ma'am," Taylor agreed. "This way, guys."

Xander gestured Emily out ahead of them, falling into step beside Ariel. "What was going to happen?" he asked softly.

"I don't know exactly. That thing was bad, though. You should ask them to make sure no one tries to activate it again."

"I will." He grinned, bumping her shoulder. "See, this? This is exactly what I meant. Your instincts are good."

"I guess. Thanks for listening."

"That's what we brought you for. I'd be a fairly crappy team leader if I didn't listen to my team."

Ahead of them, Taylor glanced at Emily. "You guys didn't test anyone for the ATA?"

"As far as I know, we didn't even know about the ATA until the IOA contacted the ISC." Emily paused, thinking. "There are way too many initials in that sentence. Um, no, the Slayers aren't typically tested for anything. We don't contract or carry diseases except in very unusual circumstances. We don't need to be tested."

"Huh. What about the other groups?"

"They can carry stuff, I guess, but we can't really make them take tests that we aren't. That's not very fair."

"No it isn't," Xander agreed. Taylor jumped, looking over her shoulder at him.

Emily smiled placidly. "The first thing you learn at the training house? Xander hears everything. That's his gift, knowing everything."

"Gift, curse, potayto, potahto. Is anyone expecting me to know my own way around this place? Cos I'm totally lost."

"No, that's why we're here," Taylor told him. "Is anyone hungry? We haven't eaten in a while."

"I could eat," Xander agreed. "Girls? Taylor, can you get the others to meet us there?"

"Yeah, I can get Graham." She toggled her radio, talking to it for a minute. "They'll meet us there."

"Good. I've got some cards to lay on the table. I don't think we can afford to hide things anymore."




Xander waited until everyone had some kind of food and had stopped complaining about it. The Council had a couple of really good chefs on staff, but the SGC quite obviously didn’t.

"So I have some things to tell everyone," he said. "Graham and Taylor, would you mind moving to another table for a couple minutes? I'm about to ask everyone what they think of your Project and you might not want to hear the answers."

"We're assigned to make sure you're safe at all times while you're working for the Project," Graham said. "That includes internal threats as well as external and your views won't change anything."

Taylor nodded without moving from her slouch. “That said, keep your voices down a little. There are a lot of people in here and I don’t know all of them.”

"Thanks," Xander murmured. "First of all, what do you guys think so far? Chris?"

"I'm not sure yet," he said slowly. "Most of the actual people seem to be ok, but the Project I'm not sure about."

"Parrish?"

"I think we can trust the ones who are here. But they take orders from other people, and if they get orders to hold us here – well, they can't actually do it, of course, but they'd try."

"Ariel?"

"I agree with them." Ariel was pale. "I think the best thing for you is to leave now. But it's not good for the Slayers if you do."

"Thank you. Emily?"

Emily shrugged. "I like Dr Jackson. Mitchell and Landry seem honest. I can't really read Vala or Teal'c, I think because they're actual aliens; I need to spend more time with them. But the others were nice."

"Vida?"

Vida shrugged. "Tell me who to hit, I'll hit, boss, but I don't read crowds. That's not why you brought me."

"Fair enough." He sighed, looking around. "I haven’t been quite honest, and I'm going to tell you everything now. I would like everyone to count to ten when I'm done speaking before you try and answer, and I want Emily and Vida to stay in their seats." At their nods, he quietly explained the threats the Council had received, the IOA’s promise to have them closed down and everyone under their care taken into custody. "Basically, it'd be Initiative mark 2, except they would also be focusing on parahumans. All our witches, Seers, Slayers – everyone would be marked, all our contacts, everyone we know of. Giles, Buffy and I discussed it, and while they were willing to risk it, I thought it was worth checking it out here. As long as Chris and Parrish are with us, they can't hold us against our will, and if there's a peaceful way out of this..."

He trailed off and Graham grimaced, shaking his head. "I'll make a call. Ry's got some pull, and no reason to want to see the Initiative rising again. He might be able to rein them in some."

"Don't do it yet," Chris said. "I mean, if you can alert him, do, but don't let him start talking yet. If the IOA know you're looking for support they might move against you anyway. Are there cameras in our rooms?"

"Yeah, but there's blind spots. I'll show you. Why?" Taylor asked.

"I'll go talk to Dad tonight. I should be able to work it so that any of you can call him if you need to. Parrish and I are good, but we can't be everywhere at once. At the worst, Wyatt will agree to listen for you. He doesn't have any charges yet."

"What does that mean, he'll listen for you?" Taylor asked.

"We have a form of teleportation," Chris explained. "My brother and father and I, we can also hear people from anywhere, but only particular people and only if they say a certain word – usually our name. If I can set this up with Wyatt, any of us can call him at any time and he'll be able to get us out of here if it becomes necessary."

Graham leaned forward over the table. "Through anything?"

"Anything you have here. There are spells that can block us, but they have to be specifically laid and even in the magical community they're not well known. It's not likely anyone here will know enough about us to lay them."

"Good," Xander said. "But if we all have to bug out we've lost. Or at least, the Council has lost."

"We'd go to war if it came to it," Vida said. "Don't do more than you have to."

"Don't worry. I'm not the self sacrificing type."

He let them laugh for a minute before quieting them down again. "All right, all right. I am still the boss here. Stop laughing at me."

"We're not laughing," Emily assured him, taking a long swallow of her drink. "Honest. We're fine."

"OK." He glanced around the table. "Graham, Taylor, you know anything about this IOA? Our sense is that they'd go through with their threats."

"The IOA aren't actually that bad," Taylor said. "Most of their members are actually human. But they're not just an American group, there are other countries in there too, and they might go after the Slayers even if the Americans aren't."

"You want to be careful of the Trust, though," Graham added. "They’re an offshoot of the old NID, they're sort of the anti-SGC and if they get a whiff of your girls, they'll never be safe again, not anywhere. The SGC actively fights against them but they have people in the IOA and if this information gets to them..."

"Right. Trust bad, IOA sort of mostly ok, NID really bad but defunct, kind of. Got it. Why do they all have initials?"

"It's quicker?" Taylor suggested.

"Speaking of – well, of nothing, but anyway. What's this programme you and Vida were in together?"

"We weren't in it together," Vida corrected him. "We were years and states apart."

Ariel blinked. "Really?"

"That's creepy," Vida told her.

"You're screaming it. I can't help."

"We were in the Power Ranger programme together," Taylor told Xander, ignoring the byplay.

"Really?" Xander said in surprise.

"Mmm. I was Turtle Cove's Yellow. I was Air Force first, I took leave to join the Ranger programme, and afterwards they shifted me in here. Only Power Ranger in the Armed Forces, so I have to join the most dangerous combat group the Air Force has."

"It's a security level thing," Graham said absently.

"Vida?" Xander asked, looking at her.

"I was Pink. Briarwood. That's how I found out I was a witch, actually. All my team were found witches. Well, most of us."

"Pink?" Parrish repeated.

"Yes, I know, I'm the least pink girl you know. Everyone says it."

"No, I was going to say I can see it. Pink would suit you, I think."

"Not sure that's a compliment, but thanks anyway."

"Ok," Xander said, suddenly quiet. Chris blinked, following his gaze to see that Daniel and Vala had just walked in. Catching his eye, Vala waved vigorously. "We're all on the same page now, so what's the consensus? We can run, right now – you too, Graham and Taylor, if you want, or we can go when you're not with us – or we can stick this out a little longer and see what happens."

"Stay here," Emily said. "A little longer can't hurt. We won't leave you alone. Not ever." Vida nodded, taking a sip from her cup.

"Chris, Parrish? You guys in?"

"We're in," Chris agreed. "At least until I talk to Wyatt. We'll see what happens after that."

"Ariel?"

"It's better for you if you leave," Ariel said again. "But it's best for the Slayers if you stay."

"And what about you?"

"I'll stay if that's the team's decision."

"Thank you." Xander sat back as Vala and Daniel arrived, Vala throwing herself into a seat next to Chris.

"Hi guys, may we join you?" Daniel asked pointedly. Vala grinned up at him, helping herself to some of Graham's fries.

"Sure, join us," Taylor agreed, shoving some empty plates aside to make space.

"How's it going?" he asked, settling in and passing a plate to Vala. "I understand Emily has the ATA?"

"Oh, that was the other thing," Xander blurted. "Emily may have the ATA – she started a thing, a sort of torch, earlier, and they'd like to test us all. Team decision, guys."

"I don't mind," Ariel said with a shrug.

"They already know I have it," Emily agreed.

"They think you have it," Xander corrected her. "They don't know anything yet. Beg pardon, Daniel." Daniel nodded quickly and he turned to Chris. "Well?"

"No. Can't do it, I'm sorry."

"Why not?" Graham asked, frowning.

"Because there are reasons that I would rather not tell you. Parrish and I will not give our blood for any kind of test."

"That's that, then," Xander said with a grimace.

"They could just line you all up and give you a piece of Ancient technology to hold," Vala pointed out. "That would tell them without any need to test your blood."

Chris glanced at Parrish before nodding. "That kind of test we can do. If they're willing to do that, Xander, we'll agree."

"I'll tell Colonel Carter tomorrow. Or – later. I have no idea what time it is. How do you deal with being down here all the time?" he asked, looking at Daniel and Vala.

"We're not down here all the time," Daniel told him. "A lot, yes, but not all the time. We go out on missions every few days, and we leave the base...sometimes."

"Only if sometimes means never, darling," Vala said airily. "He leaves the base for missions and not much else."

Daniel turned deliberately to Ariel. "Are you liking it any better down here?"

"Am...? Oh, yes. Thank you. It's a lot better now."

"When do we get to see the 'Gate?" Chris asked.

"I can take you up right now if you like. SG7 are due back in in about twenty minutes, you could see them come in."

“Sounds good. Anyone want to come with?”
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