Xander and the Appetizers
A/N: See chapter 1 for disclaimer, spoilers, notes on AU, and why Xander has his eye back.
A/N2: I went back and edited the previous chapters a bit, so it is clearer that Xander is not 'shoot first and ask questions later' on all demons, and that Anise *never* mentions other planets.
When they got back to the table, Xander saw that Denise had brought dishes and extra napkins and silverware for both of them. Plus big glasses of water. If he was still alive at the end of the meal, she was getting a huge tip. Xander watched, trying not to be too obvious about it. He wanted to see if Anise knew how to eat with human utensils. Or even how to eat while in a human-shaped body.
Anise looked over the food. “These ‘nachos’ look very tasty. Xander, do you have any recommendations on serving methodologies?”
He smiled, “Sure. Look, you just grab a chip, pull it free, making sure you get plenty of cheesy goodness on it, and pop it in your mouth. Or you pull a handful out, dump ‘em on your plate, and eat from there.”
“And are the jalapenos on here?” she checked.
“Yeah. These green slices. They’re kind of spicy. So don’t get carried away until you know you can handle ‘em.”
She pulled a chip out and took a big bite. Not a dainty eater, but not an inhuman eater, either. Okay, so she was probably used to eating in this body. Just not eating regular human food.
“Mmm!” Her eyes flickered closed as she enjoyed the heck out of the nachos. Even though there was a good-sized jalapeno pepper on top. As she ate, her expression was… well… She was enjoying the food an awful lot. He’d seen women have orgasms without putting that much gusto into it. He made a real effort to ignore just how pretty she was, because when she was busy enjoying her food and not being The Royal Inquisitor Demon, she was stunningly attractive.
This did not bode well for Xander the Demon Magnet. He knew how things like this went. The next thing you knew, he’d be stuck on a table while Anise turned into a giant preying mantis demon and tried to eat his head. Or… Well, he had been through way too many bad adventures with demon chicks. Even that time when Anya had… No, he wasn’t going to think about that.
Anise smiled at him. It was part pretty and part freaky. The first part was because the body she was pretending to have was really hot. The second part was because she just didn’t have the whole ‘acting human’ thing down. It was like when Anya had tried to pretend she was Anya Jenkins, All-American girl born on the Fourth of July. There was just something subtly wrong with the act, even if most people didn’t notice.
Anise beamed, “Samantha Carter was most correct. These nachos are remarkably good. And the jalapeno peppers make a spicy accompaniment to the dish.”
Xander casually said, “That Colonel Carter sounds like one smart woman. That’s why I like plenty of jalapenos on my nachos.”
Anise waved away the idea of the colonel. “Yes, Samantha Carter is quite intelligent for one of the Tau’ri. Selmak is quite proud of her, but I am sure much of that is because he is her father.”
Xander managed not to choke on his nacho. Oh God, this was looking worse all the time. If some demon named Selmak had a half-demon or full-demon child who had infiltrated the U.S. armed forces and was now a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, then the Scoobies probably had an apocalypse looming like nothing they’d ever faced. An apocalypse where some of the enemy demons were official U.S. military officers? They were going to have to bring Riley’s teams in on this one. Hell, they were going to have to bring in every single person who ever owed them a favor, starting with the Queen of England and working their way down.
And then there was the fact that Anise didn’t want to admit that someone else could be as smart as she was. She wasn’t going with the usual bombastic demon rant, like what Xander was used to. He’d heard it dozens of times. “You puny mortals are as nothing before the big giant brain of Smartacus!” Yada yada yada. But it was an obvious weak spot with Anise. Xander went for it. “So what has Samantha Carter done that’s so smart? I’m sure you’ve done a lot more.”
Anise beamed at the compliment. “I am a biological researcher. She is interested in physics.” Bingo! They had the right Samantha Carter, at least. Anise went on in her dismissive tones, “The Tau’ri look upon her as a genius merely because she developed the science for them to use the Chappa’ai, and some similar tools.”
The ‘bingo’ feeling went away. Fast. Xander asked, “Chappa’ai? Is that ancient Egyptian?” He concentrated hard. If only he hadn’t skipped out on all those lessons Giles gave Willow those first years in Sunnyhell! He’d had to work like a dog since then just to play Watcher for the Slayers he found in Africa and Asia, and now the Slayers he worked with out of Cleveland. He thought hard. “Umm, the… umm… door to the sky?”
Anise beamed at him. “That’s really quite good! Are you a linguist like Daniel Jackson?”
“Oh no, I’m just a humble carpenter. But I have some friends who know a lot of old languages, and I guess some of it just rubbed off on me.” But he had a really bad feeling in his stomach now. Because ‘door to the sky’ could just as easily be ‘gate to the stars’. He suddenly had a really bad feeling about this so-called ‘stargate’ program. At least everyone at the call center would figure it out, if some dork like Xander could. And now they knew this Daniel Jackson was a linguist. Probably a Ph.D. in linguistics, or something similar.
Then another horrible thought hit him. Oh crap! He ventured, “Are you saying this is the ‘astria porta’ of ancient legends?” Oh God, if the military had the astria porta
out of Giles’ mythology books, and was using it to let demons come to earth from their own dimensions, this was going to be somewhere between horrific and extra-apocalyptic.
She gave him another big smile. “That’s fascinating, Xander. How is it that you speak the tongue of the Ancients?”
The tongue of the Ancients? Uh-oh. He tried to climb out of the hole he’d just dug for himself. “Ancients? No, it’s just Latin. I know a tiny bit of Latin.”
She raised her eyebrows and thought out loud. “Daniel Jackson has also mentioned the ancient Tau’ri language Latin before. I did not realize that it was spoken by anyone other than scholars of dead Tau’ri languages.”
Xander tried to cover his ass. “Umm, it’s still taught in schools and stuff. Some. And the Catholics still use it in their… umm… religious rites.” Well, he was pretty sure they didn’t anymore, but he’d heard they used to. “And there are still some old books in libraries that are in Latin, so you have to learn it if you want to read the books.”
She calmly said, “Yes, the Ancients built what you Tau’ri call the Stargate system a long time ago, before they ascended.”
Did she just say ‘ascended’?
Were they dealing with another Ascension? Or maybe a whole cluster of Ascensions that happened a long time ago? He had a sudden ghastly image of Mayor Wilkins turning into a hundred foot long snake demon, only multiplied by a thousand.
“Xander? Are you feeling all right?” Anise asked.
He took a gulp of coke to hide his feelings. “Umm, sure. I just got a couple jalapenos that caught me by surprise.” He smiled at her as he pressed the speed dial button on his phone that signaled a Code Red.