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A kiss before dying

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This story is No. 1 in the series "A kiss before dying". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: The main story in the A kiss before dying universe. Kennedy and Hailey, Slayers and Bondmates and aliens and Demons, treacherous Watchers oh my... Rating increased for adult subject matter

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Current Donor)vidiconFR21767,64711688,68123 Jul 1228 Jun 14No

NOTE: This story is rated FR21 which is above your chosen filter level. You can set your preferred maximum rating using the drop-down list in the top right corner of every page.

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Chapter 2

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta, Letomo who patiently deals with my erratically delivered works.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Greek: ^Who cares?^

Ancient Egyptian: »Who’s that?«

Latin: ~Who’s who?~

Telepathy: %Who’s that in my mind?%

There will be some considerable abuse of Giles in this chapter. And series. Sorry about that.

Many thanks to PATM, Shadowman and Tempi for recommending this story.

Chapter 2

Kennedy groaned a little and stirred among the tightly tucked in blankets and sheets. Her eyes fluttered open and focused. *Ceiling. Right. I remember that ceiling.* She sniffed a little. The scent of blood was a lot less noticeable. There was still cordite and weapon oil. And... something heavenly. Kennedy very slowly turned her head and saw the young woman in the chair by her bed look at her with a mix of resignation, trepidation and interest.

“Hey. I know you. You're the pretty girl in uniform,” Kennedy croaked. The young woman quickly leaned over and took a glass from the bedside table, then helped Kennedy sip through a straw.

Kennedy scowled at the straw. She could barely suck, she was so weak. It was embarrassing.

“You saved our lives and nearly got killed. Then you asked me to kiss you, which got me in no end of trouble and the General has made you my responsibility. So stop being so proud and start getting better, Kennedy Maria Asunción de Villarosa y Santa Anna,” the young Captain by her bed told her tartly.

Kennedy blinked. “How did you know my name? Who are you?”

The young woman’s lips firmed. “My name is Jennifer Hailey. Captain Jennifer Hailey, US Air Force. And you will lie still, and you will get better and if you don’t I’ll be very upset, is that clear?”

Kennedy nodded, her eyes wide.

“Good. Someone will be bringing a meal soon. It won’t be very nice but it will be healthy and nourishing, both of which you need, so you will eat it. You’ll keep the IV’s for a while too, you’re burning through nutrients much faster than you should,” Jennifer lifted the glass again. “Now sip, but slowly. The tissues of your mouth are still quite dry and need to get reacquainted with moisture.”

From their location behind the curtain around the next bed Willow Rosenberg and Janet Fraiser watched, smiling slightly. Janet beckoned and Willow followed her into the small office, unnoticed by either young woman.

“You were right, she did step in and take charge right away,” Willow sniggered. “I’ve never seen Kennedy so surprised.”

“There’s a core of steel in Jennifer Hailey. She seldom displays it, but it is there,” Janet smiled fondly. “It’s no wonder, what with her early life.”

Willow gave the Doctor a sharp glance. “Bad?”

Janet shook her head. “I shouldn’t have said that. That’s private.”

Willow snorted. “If it was, she’ll fit right in. Now, I’ll be bringing Buffy in for a full check up next week, including blood work,” she smiled, this time a bit sheepishly. “And she insisted I get one too.”

Janet laughed. “I’ll be gentle with the needles. And I see that a core of steel is not always sufficient to control a Slayer, hmm?”

Willow tilted her head and grinned. “I’ve found that a leather collar and a few padded cuffs work very well…”

Janet sniffed and shook her head. “Girls today. No imagination at all.”

Willow pouted prettily. “Can’t anything I say get a rise out of you?”

Janet snorted. “Not likely. You and Buffy aren’t nearly as bad as… never mind.”

Willow lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll find out, you know. I always do.”

Janet merely smiled and shook her head.

BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1

Briefing Room, several hours later

George Hammond looked around the room, noting those present. SG-1, Dr. Fraiser. Captain Hailey had been excluded, after some hesitation. Hammond didn’t know what this ‘Bonding’ entailed, but he could not risk his officer's reputation if anything from this briefing came out. He felt bad enough about it as it was.

He gestured at Carter, who turned on the beamer and started her presentation.

“I’ve run a few of the people we’ve met through the system,” Carter clicked and a picture appeared of a young redhead. “This one was the easiest. Willow Danielle Rosenberg. Daughter of Doctors Sheila and Ira Rosenberg, her mother is a psychologist and he is a noted Rabbi and Talmudic scholar who often fills in when other Rabbis go on sabbatical, excuse my pun.” Two pictures of the Rosenbergs came on screen, to be flipped past hurriedly.

Jack grinned. Carter continued. “She was Valedictorian of her High school, near perfect SAT's,” Carter's mouth quirked. “She scored seven hundred and forty on her verbal and took a re-sit, raising her score to 799 and her total score to 2399. Her mother requested another re-sit, but Miss Rosenberg declined. She was offered a scholarship at some of the world's most prestigious universities and institutions worldwide. Harvard. MIT, Oxford. Cambridge, the Sorbonne. She published three papers, one on advanced robotics in 1999, one about the Internet Scare of 1996, outlining possible causes and ways of preventing it, and one about of all things, stable wormholes, elaborating on the works of Winifred Burkle,” Carter scrolled forward quickly. “And she went to UC Sunnydale.”

Daniel frowned. “Not a bad school, by any means. But certainly not on a par with MIT or Harvard.”

Carter nodded. “It may have had to do with the fact they were willing to accommodate her course load and choices more. She finished four bachelors' degrees, one in Physics, one in Applied Mathematics, one in Ancient languages and one in World Mythology. She was finishing three Masters Degrees, the one in physics, on String Theory and Wormholes, one in World Mythology, mostly about ancient religious cults and one in Computer Science.”  

Jack let out a whistle. “She's like a mutant offspring of you and Daniel, Carter.”

Sam glared at her superior as even Hammond had to suppress a chuckle. “She's just a very intelligent young woman, unafraid to exhibit that intelligence.”

Jack nodded innocently, then looked at his two team mates. “So what were you doing, say, oh, round about the middle of 1980?”

Daniel spluttered. “JACK!”

Hammond sent his second-in command a quelling look. “Colonel, enough. Anything else about Miss Rosenberg, Captain?”

“We tried to recruit her, twice. She refused both times. She was invited to go to the Academy after finishing her bachelors, but she sent back the reply that if any Government agency, especially those associated with the military, ever tried to recruit her again, she would do something really nasty. She also refused to work in the private sector; she was offered several very lucrative contracts by IT companies, the first one when she was still in High School. But she refused them with rather less vehemence.”

Hammond nodded. “Apparently the affair with the capture and torture took place sometime during her first year at college. She would not have been in a receptive mood.”

Jack snorted. “I can imagine. What about the others?”

Carter clicked on, showing a gorgeous sultry brunette. “I found this one, Faith Lehane. Mother was Vanessa Lehane, father unknown, records of abuse by her mother and her mother's ever changing boyfriends. The mother has since died, murdered for not obeying her pimp. Lehane was first placed in foster care at age fourteen, with extensive bruising and finally just before her sixteenth birthday taken in by Doctor Diana Dormer, a British National who taught at Georgetown and at Harvard. Dr. Dormer was tortured to death by at least four men, just before Miss Lehane turned eighteen; Miss Lehane fled the scene and travelled to Sunnydale, where she arrived broke and alone several weeks later. It is unknown how she provided for her existence in the intervening period.”

Jack glared at his hands, then at the girl on the screen, his face angry. “Poor kid.”

Carter nodded. She noted that Daniel moved his chair a bit closer to Jack's. The    Colonel tended to get emotional when children were abused and Daniel knew far too much about being a foster child.

Carter cleared her throat. “A few months ago she was given a full Presidential Pardon as well as a Gubernatorial Pardon from the State of California for crimes committed that include second and possibly first degree murder. She was commended for her acts of great personal bravery and it was noted her crimes all were committed when she was of unsound mind and judgement. She opposed her pardon, but was given one nonetheless.” 

Jack nodded, thoughtfully. “Still thinks she has some atoning to do.”

Carter shrugged. “Apparently.” She clicked on. “Buffy Anne Summers. A juvenile record, sealed. A lot of things went on in her life, she ran away from home twice, was suspected of several felonies including arson and murder. In all cases the charges were dropped, she apparently was not popular with some people in her hometown of Sunnydale due to her ‘Take back the night’ activities,” Carter elaborated as she flipped past several APB’s and a request to look out for a missing person.

“Sunnydale?” Daniel made a note on his pad. “Interesting.”

“She didn’t finish college but did get a job as a school guidance counsellor. She’s the guardian of a younger sister, Dawn Marie. Her mother, Joyce Summers, is dead, and her father, Hank Summers, apparently has withdrawn himself completely from their lives. He hasn’t paid alimony in several years, despite earning a very good income as a consulting architect,” Sam flicked past a few pictures.

“Stop!” Janet called out. “Go back.” There was a quaver of uncertainty in the doctor’s voice and everyone at the table looked at her.

“Please?” Janet asked.

Carter clicked back until she reached the picture of Joyce. “Joyce Rainier,” Janet spoke softly. “That was her maiden name. Joyce Antoinette Rainier.”

“You know her? Knew?” Hammond asked, slightly surprised.

“We were roommates in college, sir, when I was pre-med. Roommates and friends,” Janet laughed. “She was always supportive of my dream to be an Air Force Doctor. We lost touch after we both married.”

Sam shot the other woman a sharp look. Hammond merely looked thoughtful. “I see. Well, it is neither here nor there, though I suppose it might help explain the bond you formed with Miss Summers.”

Janet shrugged. “I never met Buffy. I never even knew that Joyce had children. If Hank Summers didn't pay alimony, how did Joyce afford to raise her daughters?”

Sam cleared her throat. “Well, part of her income came from the gallery she ran, The Sunnydale Gallery But for several years the bulk of her income came from…” Carter coughed as if embarrassed and then hurried it out. “She wrote romance novels. Quite successful ones, under the name Heloise Sunnier.”

“Heloise Sunnier? Didn't I see a book by her on your desk, Carter?” Jack teased, realising why Carter was embarrassed now.

Sam flushed. “Actually, that was a loan from Cassandra.”

Jack's eyes narrowed. “Really? I thought it was rather... racy.”

Daniel sniggered. “Read it, did you Jack?”

Jack gave him a haughty look. “If Carter persists in not answering my questions I need to do something while I'm waiting.”

Hammond shook his head and cleared his throat. “That is neither here nor there. Anything else pertinent, Major?” Hammond inquired.

Sam hesitated. “There seems to be some confusion about... well some sources state that Buffy Summers is dead. But from pictorial evidence I would say that this young woman is the same Buffy Summers as the one seen in her early pictures.”

Hammond nodded. “Did you identify any of the others?”

“No names, sir. We're still running them through the facial recognition software, but I'd say it would be a long-shot if we found them,” Carter replied.

“So a pardoned murderess and a possible murderess?” Jack noted distastefully and rather sadly.

“If creatures such as these vampires are real would disposing of one not look like murder to the eyes of the un-initiated?” Teal'c asked.

Daniel nodded. “That might very well be the answer, at least for Buffy. Considering her background, and her current desire to atone, it is quite possible that Faith did kill someone.”

Hammond scowled. “See what you can find out about any possible relatives of Miss Lehane. And find out what happened to Doctor Dormer.”

Sam looked sour. “At a guess, sir? Something supernatural.”

Jack nodded, equally sourly. “I really don't want to think about a couple of fourteen year old girls fighting demons.”

Daniel tapped the table. “It rings a bell... I need to research.”

Jack grinned. “Now that sounds familiar.”   

BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1 BtVS SG-1

Cleveland House, Council of Slayers

“Okay. We've got some information so we can start this briefing,” Andrew began.

Willow cleared her throat and looked at the young man. Andrew wilted. “I, errr... Okay, General George Samuel Hammond, in command of the SGC, ostensibly tasked with Deep Space Telemetry. Man for man, the personnel in that unit has gotten more combat citations than any other unit in the US military, including at least one Medal of Honour and three Air Force Crosses.”

Xander whistled. “Not a research unit.”

Andrew nodded pompously. “I wouldn't think so, no.”

“So they really have a Chappa’ai down there,” Giles mused. “Dangerous.”

“From their casualty lists and the number of medals, I’d say they were fighting a full scale war,” Willow noted.

Xander nodded his agreement. “Yeah, and have been for some years. And apparently without messing up or getting the earth conquered by these Goold. That puts them way ahead of the Initiative in my book.”

“True. So, General Hammond, Andrew?” Buffy asked, getting the meeting back on track.

“Right. He has a daughter, Denise, divorced, and two granddaughters, Kayla and Tessa. His wife, Margaret, died of colon cancer in 1994. His record is impeccable and he’s known for being sent in to resolve situations and wind up operations that have been declared obsolete in a tactful and diplomatic manner,” Andrew flipped to the next image.

“Colonel Jonathan Jeremiah ‘Jack’ O’Neill. A former Black Ops officer. Highly decorated, most of his records are officially sealed. He was active in South East Asia and behind the Iron Curtain. He was held in Iraq during the Gulf War and tortured. Divorced after his son accidentally shot himself with the Colonel’s gun.”

Xander winced. “Ouch.”

Andrew nodded. “Yeah. He retired, was recalled to duty for the Deep Space Telemetry program, retired again a few months later, then was recalled again within the year. He’s been on active duty and among the most decorated of the group since then.”

He flipped on. “Major Samantha Carter. Holds a doctorate in Astrophysics and Applied Advanced Engineering from MIT and Columbia, graduated among the top ten of her class from the Air Force Academy and has been with the ‘Deep Space Telemetry’” Andrew made air quotes and waggled his eyebrows,  “Program since 1993. She is a certified genius,” he gushed.

Willow rolled her eyes. “Yes, thank you Andrew. Anyone else?”

“Dr. Daniel Merton Jackson. Son of Melburn and Claire Jackson. Noted Philologist and ancient linguist, with Ph. D’s in Egyptology, Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures,”

Giles coughed. “I remember him. He declared the Pyramids were much older than generally accepted and that Heyerdahl had been correct in his notions of the cross-pollination of cultures. The Council knew he was right, of course, but it couldn’t be risked that the carefully constructed history of the world would be brought tumbling down uncontrolled.”

Buffy gave him a frigid stare. “Another little white lie, Giles? Or a honking great black one?”

Giles winced. “Buffy, I assure you-”

“Save it, Giles. There have been too many lies, too many deceptions for simple assurances from any old Watcher to have any value,” she looked at Willow who bit her lip and nodded, making a note to look into the matter later.

“So Doctor Jackson is not going to be happy to hear about this, us,” Xander noted as his gaze rested upon Giles who sat hunched and looking old, in his seat down the table.

“Probably not, no. How about Doctor Fraiser?” Buffy asked.

“Major Janet Elizabeth Fraiser, M.D. A highly qualified emergency trauma physician and surgeon, with an additional specialization in Virology. She has an adopted daughter called Cassandra, allegedly from Canada. However we can find no records of her birth, just of her entry into the US. Numerous citations for bravery, including bravery under fire,” Andrew flipped through a list of the citations.

“And they honestly want people to believe that all they do is Deep Space Telemetry? Boy, do they need to work on plausible cover stories,” Willow noted. “Even the gangs on PCP and the barbeque fork incidents make sense compared to this.”

“Okay. Bottom line, Kennedy has bonded with Jennifer Hailey. General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser seem trustworthy. Do we commit ourselves to an alliance?” Buffy asked.

Willow nodded. “I say we do. Faith?”

The second oldest Slayer looked thoughtful. “They're not Demons. But apparently Slayers have fought these things before. So I say yes. Xand?”

Xander reached across the table and Faith smiled and took his hand. Xander nodded at Buffy. “I want to see this portal for myself, you understand.”

Buffy smirked. “I'm sure that can be arranged. Robin?”

Robin looked at the clasped hands and then sighed. “I read about the Goa'uld in Bernard's books. I can't in good conscience vote against. They are too dangerous to ignore, no matter that the Military is involved.”

Buffy nodded. “Chao Ahn, Vi?”

“We're in favor,” Vi stated after a short discussion in the pidgin English-Mandarin she had developed with the other Slayer.

Buffy looked at Giles, who sat sunk in apparently gloomy and depressing thoughts. “Giles?”

Giles looked up. “Is my opinion wanted?”

“Like the opinion of all old Watchers it will be weighed and judged before we come to a decision. We've discussed that, Giles. If you wish to refrain from voting that is your right.” Buffy reminded him coldly.

Giles winced. “I, ah... I vote in favour.”

Buffy looked around the table. “Very well. Then I suggest we attempt to form an alliance with the SGC for the singular purpose of fighting the Goa'uld and possible other threats that may emerge from the Astria Porta.”

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Infirmary, Office of Doctor Fraiser

“Janet?” Sam knocked on the doorpost.

Janet looked up and smiled. “Heya, Sam. Come in. What can I do for you?”

Sam closed the door and sat down, then carefully put a well-thumbed book on Janet's desk. “I think you should read this. It might interest you.”

Janet picked the book up. “College Love.” She looked up. “One of Joyce's?”

“Yes,” Sam fidgeted with her trousers. “It's rather different from her usual books. I understand that Cassie got it from a friend at school.”

Janet lifted an eyebrow then let the book fall open and started to read out loud. “Are you sure you want to do this, Liz?” Holly asked her roommate, her large blue eyes wide and her lips slightly moist and bruised from their kisses.

Liz reached out and up under Holly's shirt, her fingers and hands roaming her roommate's heated skin. “Oh, yes. I mean college is all about experimenting, isn’t it?”

Janet closed the book a slight flush on her cheeks. “Right. I can see the attraction.”

Sam's mouth quirked. “I thought you might. Well, I need to be going. Maybe we can talk later?”

Janet nodded as she read the blurb on the back of the book. ‘Young Art Student Holly shares a room with the gorgeous young Pre-med student Elizabeth. Will they be together? Or will life interfere?’”  Janet put the book down and swallowed a sob. “Oh, Joyce…”

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Briefing Room, SGC

The President sat in the chair facing the display window, looking at the Star Gate with fond wonder, and then turned to the man opposite him. “Well, George, your Lieutenant Hailey has managed to do what we’ve been trying to do for the past three years, forge a somewhat amicable link with the Slayers,” he tapped the table. “I’m not an expert on them, but they can be an incredible asset, a great support, for the Star Gate Program. I want to give her every encouragement to continue, and deepen, her bond with Miss De Santa Anna.”

Hammond nodded, noting that the President took considerable enjoyment in using the second part of Miss de Villarosa’s name. The President was not above teasing a little and the young woman did descend from the Mexican General who had nearly conquered Texas after the Texans had revolted against Mexico.

“Sir,” Hammond began, then hesitated. “Sir, I will not order one of my people to use a friendship or other personal relation to fulfil their duty, sir.”

The President looked at him and smiled. “I know, George. It feels wrong to use a personal relationship like that. And if the stakes were not so high I would agree with you. But beggars can't be choosers, and in this case I have literally begged before.”

Hammond folded his hands together and looked at his Commander in Chief. “It may lead to an even greater rift between these people and the US Government, sir. After seeing the Project Lilac file I'm surprised they didn't just cut our throats and be done with it.”

The President ran a hand through his hair. “Talk about unmitigated disasters. And we can't even lay the blame where it belongs. Ward and the Oversight Committee managed to wiggle out of that one, too. I just hope that the new people are willing and able to rein in the NID’s illegal operation and aren’t lured into their ‘America before everything’ way of thinking,” the President snorted. “Including the Constitution and Civil Rights, too.”

Hammond smiled briefly and then looked at the table. “So the ones responsible for that debacle get away with murder and we want the ones that pulled our fat out of the fire to sacrifice themselves again so fewer of our people are hurt? I doubt that will go over well, sir.”

President Hayes shook his head. “You know I don't intend it like that. God knows I tried to have them impeached, tried. But their influence is too great. Brucker, Ward and Blim have the whole thing sewn up tighter than my mother’s purse.”

“But that is how they will see it, sir. That is how it will feel like to them. The reality is, sir, that we need them far more than they need us. Now that they know that our opponents are aliens and not demons, do they have actual reasons to oppose them? Will they not let us stew in our own juices and fight our own battles?” Hammond pointed out; his Texas accent rather more noticeable than it usually was as his agitation grew.

Hayes nodded. “They might, if they weren't heroes. Men like Ward and Blim would see it that way. But these people see the world differently. They will realize that they are needed and do what must be done.”

Hammond gave the President a sceptical look. “Or I lose one of my most promising junior officers.”

Hayes nodded. “A possibility. But we have to at least try.”

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The Infirmary

Kennedy looked at the wall, her hands fidgeting with the blankets. She was alone in the room, the nurses having left and Captain Hailey had been sent away by Dr. Fraiser to ‘take a shower and stop stinking up my Infirmary.’ Kennedy had wanted to protest that Hailey smelled wonderful, but had realised that it might be impolitic to say it about a member of the Armed forces, no matter how cute.

There was a flash of light and Kennedy had to look away, blinking. Then her eyes widened as she realised who were standing at the foot of the bed. “H-hello Buffy, Willow.”

Buffy crossed her arms and glared. Kennedy winced. A few months ago, in Sunnydale, she had carefully hidden her need of Buffy’s, of the Senior Slayer’s, approval behind a wall of brash self-confidence. When the Bringers had killed her Watcher, nearly killed her, almost killed her parents, brother and sisters, she had been terrified but unwilling to admit it. And when she had really been in battle, really had to fight vampires and demons, on her own, when she had almost been killed, she had realised that all her training was worth very little compared with Buffy’s real life experience.

And then she had to go and get herself critically injured and captured by the military.

Buffy sighed. “Only you, Kennedy, only you.”

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t let them die. I had to attract the Unas somehow, please don’t leave me here! I don’t want to be a lab rat!” Kennedy rushed out.

Buffy snorted and looked at Willow. “You want to tell her? Or shall I?”

Kennedy’s fist gripped the blankets. “What? What’s going on?”

Willow sat on the bed. “Ken… You remember Captain Hailey?”

Kennedy looked at Willow in confusion. “Yes?”

“You’ve bonded with her,” Willow smiled gently.

“B-bonded?” Kennedy whispered, her wide, hopeful eyes going from Buffy to Willow. “Really?”

Buffy nodded. “Yeah. I can sense it. Faith was the first to notice and Willow confirmed it.”

“Oh,” Kennedy lay down slightly, her face filled with wonder. “Oh, so that’s why it feels so good to be near her.”

“And why you let yourself be ordered around and fed like a baby,” Willow teased. “You really should work on your Sensing, Janet and me were behind the curtain and saw and heard everything.”

Kennedy flushed. “WHAT?!”

“Willow,” Buffy told her bond-mate. “Don’t tease, this is confusing enough for her as it is,” Then she smiled, a trifle wickedly. “We have pictures though, which we will send to Jennifer.”

Kennedy bit her lip. “Is this why you two were smiling like loons for a week once you found out?”

Willow nodded. “Yes. It’s a very intense feeling. And Jennifer feels this way too.”

Kennedy looked around uncertainly. “So you’ve been here before? Where is here? Is this some secret Government facility? Am I going to be experimented upon?”

Buffy tapped her toes on the ground. “Yes, Cheyenne Mountain, near Colorado Springs, yes, NORAD, and no, unless Jennifer gets a little kinky.”

“NORAD? I’m in NORAD?” Kennedy asked, surprised and also flushing a tiny bit at the thought of Jennifer getting kinky. “How long was I out? How did I get here from Brazil?”

“Ah, now there’s the rub,” Willow smiled. “You see, these people have access to advanced technology and one of those pieces of technology is called a Chappa’ai or Astria Porta…”

BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS

When Jennifer returned to the Infirmary three quarters of an hour after she left to take her shower she found the room rather more full than before. Willow and Buffy sat by Kennedy’s bed and Janet Fraiser was berating all three of them about both the quantity and the quality of their diet.

She almost growled when she saw that Willow was holding Kennedy’s hand, barely suppressing the urge to jump forward and rip it from her hand. Then she saw Buffy look up and give her an understanding smile, beckoning her forward. “Ah, Captain Hailey. Just the person we needed to talk to. Willow?”

Willow gave Kennedy’s hand a final squeeze and then released it before sprinkling some herbs on the bed and muttering a few words. The air around them seemed to shimmer and glow and then settled.

Buffy nodded. “Right, now we can’t be overheard by anyone we don’t want to.”

Jennifer opened her mouth to state that it wasn’t possible just to block sound like that, that equipment was needed, bulky and quite noisy equipment, to form a shield against recording sound as well as against actual eavesdropping.

“It's magic, remember?” Buffy told her, quite kindly. “Now sit here and listen, there are a lot of things we need to tell you we couldn’t before.”

Jennifer sat down. “Such as?”

“For one we will be offering aid to the SGC. A Slayer will be sent on permanent assignment here. One of us was responsible for kicking the Goa'uld of the planet in the first place,” Buffy explained.

Jennifer reached out and caught Kennedy's nervously plucking hand, holding it gently. Kennedy avoided her eyes. “And I guess that will be Kennedy. So what exactly is going on with the two of us? What is this bonding thing?”

Willow smiled. “Well, it’s both the most wonderful and the scariest thing in the world. It's a really deep connection. Every Slayer has the ability to form one, possibly even with more than one person. It is a sort of anchor, to reality, the real world. A reason to exist and to fight. Something to live for.”

Hailey's eyes narrowed. “What sort of bond are we talking about here?”

Buffy's mouth quirked. “In most cases so far it has led to a rather intense physical relationship, as you may have guessed. You‘re attracted to Ken here and that confuses you. Kennedy is lesbian and wasn’t all that surprised. I was a little shocked when I realized I had sexual feelings for Willow, even if I had the occasional naughty dream or had glanced at her when she was changing.”

Jennifer's eyes narrowed. “Why surprised? If this bond is so important, why didn't you realize what it was?”

Buffy's eyes grew distant. “Because I didn't know, then. For a very long time there was a group of people who called themselves the Council of Watchers. They assisted the Slayer, primarily with research, and other forms of aid, sometimes combat. But they grew arrogant and decided that they alone knew what was best for the world, for the Slayer. So they sought ways to control her, them. Us. We don't know exactly when, but we think at least a thousand years ago, the Council succeeded in finding a way of transferring part of the bond. And the person they transferred it to was always the Watcher assigned to the Slayer. The transfer also lessened any influence a real bond mate had on the Slayer, and a sense of disassociation and depression tended to manifest itself after a while, culminating in a wish to die.”

Kennedy shivered, remembering the stark and cold descriptions in the Watchers' Chronicles she read. “And sometimes insanity as well, or other forms of instability.”

“And to make sure that no unsuitable Slayers, insane or otherwise insufficiently controlled or focused on their task clogged up the line of succession, they instituted something called the Tento di Cruciamentum. Around a Slayer's eighteenth birthday the Watcher administered a poison that removed the Slayer's strength and the Slayer was placed in a building with a vampire,” Willow growled taking Buffy's hand.

“No matter what happened the Council won. The Slayer would either be killed and a younger, more stable and more easily manipulated Chosen One would be called. And if she survived her bond with her Watcher, the only thing she ought to have in the eyes of the Council, would be severely damaged and she would soon succumb to a death wish and get herself killed in combat.”

Jennifer looked at Buffy's stony face. “So why are you alive and not insane?”

“Because I was near at least two possible bondmates, as well as my mother and sister I stayed reasonably stable. The Council also tried to disrupt family relations, so that the Slayer depended upon the Watcher even more,” Buffy explained.

“Despite everything that happened, all the fights about me being the Slayer and sneaking out of the house to kill vampires and demons, I know Mom loved me,”  Buffy smiled, but her eyes were sad. “Maybe because of those fights. She wouldn't accept my fate long after I had stopped resisting. And Willow is looking into how much of that, the fights, and even her death, may have been caused by the Council,” Buffy looked at the wall over Kennedy's bed. “Since Willow took the main spell down my Dad even wrote and asked to see me and my sister. He hasn't done that in years.”

Willow lightly squeezed Buffy’s hand and raised it to her lips, kissing it. Jennifer looked at them and wondered when Willow had started wearing black lipstick, and how she could have missed that the redhead didn’t have emerald green eyes. They were far darker, brown, almost black even.

Buffy noticing the tint, startled, reached out and hugged the redhead. “Easy Will. Fight it back. You can do it.”

Kennedy looked at the two of them and shivered. Jennifer took her hand and looked at the other two. “What's going on?”

“Willow went of the deep end a while ago, using her magic for... Let’s just say that if anybody would've been alive after we'd all been wandering through the valley of death,” Kennedy explained softly.

“The spell that transferred the Bond also messed with the Mate's mind, not just the Slayer. If the two never met, it was a minor problem with concentration and things like that, until the Slayer died. But if they did meet...” Kennedy gestured at Buffy and Willow. “Willow got more and more irrational and unstable as time progressed since they were close, but not together for a long time. Add to that the regular stresses of a life fighting Demons starting while you're still in High School, PTSD and hey presto, one very screwed up witch.” 

Jennifer nodded. “I-I thought I saw her hair and eyes going black?”

Kennedy nodded. “That happens when she draws on the dark side of her powers. Buffy is very good at calming her down. Much better than I ever was,” Kennedy added grudgingly.

After a few minutes Willow disentangled herself reluctantly from Buffy's arms. “Okay, I'm good.”

Jennifer saw that the two were still holding hands and that Willow was much closer to Buffy than before. “So what happened to these Watchers?”

Buffy pursed her lips. “Most of them were killed before we even knew about this. The First Evil had them killed along with many Potential Slayers, in an attempt to end the Slayer Line.”

Willow nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah.  And you know what? I'm no longer entirely sure if the Powers That Be didn't intend for all this to happen. Sure, we lost a lot of Potentials, but the Line is free from the Watchers and will never be enslaved again,” She declared fiercely.

“And the ones that survived?” Jennifer asked timidly, seeing the anger on their faces.

Buffy laughed softly. “Regrettably we needed them to help take control of the Council’s wealth and resources. And they do have a great deal of knowledge we need. Willow suggested we place them all under a spell, but I don't think keeping slaves will set the right tone for an organisation dedicated to the protection of mankind. It might give later generations the wrong idea. We also need their knowledge of things demonic. So they were given the choice to cooperate fully, or to have their minds wiped by magic, removing all knowledge of demons and the supernatural.”

Jennifer gulped. “Mind wiped? Ugh. Sounds nasty.”

Willow blushed as Buffy gave her a look. “At least they would be alive. That is more than can be said of the Potentials and Slayers and bondmates they lied to and abused and sent to their deaths,” Willow defended the possibility.

Jennifer looked at Buffy. “And your own Watcher?”

Buffy's eyes grew flinty. “We tolerate him. For now.”

Willow winced at the harsh words, but her eyes were hard as well, “You have to understand that Buffy was under his influence for a long time, several years, before we found all this out. He performed the Cruciamentum, and he knew about the Bond and renewed the spell to tie her to him on at least two occasions, deeply endangering Buffy's sanity and life despite the fact she was already psychologically unstable and struggling.”

Buffy looked away, gazing at the wall and Willow squeezed her hand and then drew her into a hug. They stood like that for a few minutes while Kennedy and Jennifer looked on, thoughtfully.

“So what happens now?” Hailey asked timidly, once the hug was over.

“You mean, will you have to leave the Air Force? I doubt it. The Government has been trying to improve their relations with us for the past few years, ever since a debacle with a very secret and illegal operation to try and use the supernatural for warfare. They tried it first with the Scoobies, back in Sunnydale, and now with the Council of Slayers, so they’ll see this as a perfect opportunity to do that,” Willow explained as she played with Buffy's fingers.

Jennifer gritted her teeth. “So I’ll be offered a promotion and become a Trojan Horse to infiltrate your organization?”

Buffy shook her head. “If they tried that a few Generals and bureaucrats would die, fairly horribly, and they know it. No, they want an easy way to be able to inform us of problems and to put forward the US Government's view, as well as the possible use in world-threatening situations of a Slayer' she sniffed. “Or at least that is what they write in all those Memo's we've read. It might be Government Double Speak for 'subjugate them and use them to invade Mexico'.”

“Canada's more likely, Buff,” Willow teased. Then she became serious. “But it will change your career. They'd no doubt like you to take on a less dangerous job, but since Kennedy is going to be in the field as well, you being there might just be an added incentive.”

“Great. I'm an incentive,” Jennifer sulked.

Willow smiled smugly. “Oooh, yeah, that we are. An incentive for our Slayers to behave. If they don't, they get to sleep on the couch.”

Buffy lifted an eyebrow. “I seem to remember waking up on the couch when a sleepy redheaded witch threaded herself into my arms...”

Willow flushed. “Hush, you. Yeah, okay, so I need her too. I wouldn't want it any other way. But I don't think your General Hammond is going to stand for it to see one of his people abused.”

“After this stunt I'll be lucky if he’ll trust me to clean toilets with my toothbrush,” Jennifer sighed.

“Oh, he was a bit miffed. Mostly he's keeping silent and very much not asking,” Willow grinned. Then she sobered. “He was really very upset by the Initiative, I think. He takes his duty and the Honor of the Armed forces very seriously and that American soldiers did that sort of thing? He never raised his voice, but you could hear it in his tone.”

“The Initiative? What is that?” Jennifer asked, curious.

Buffy shrugged. “Remember that secret operation I mentioned? It was a secret part of the Government's secret program to study and control the Supernatural for military purposes. Which culminated in building a Frankenstein's monster from bits of dead soldiers and demons and computers and nuclear reactors. Only this one didn't stop at killing his creator and, oh, there was a lot of torture and 'experimentation' to find out what makes Slayers tick. I'm just glad they never got hold of Willow.”

Willow shivered. “They didn't really believe in magic at first. But they might have thought I was psychic. They really weren't nice people.”

“Lucky most of them are dead,” Buffy added dryly. “If I'd known then what I know now, and if Adam hadn't been so damn dangerous, I would've let him slaughter all of them.”

Jennifer looked shocked. “But they're people, aren't you sworn to protect them?” 

Buffy snorted. “No oaths were involved, except swearwords to make me what I am. And it's debatable if they were human. Some were honestly misguided. Most rather enjoyed what they were doing. They will not be missed. A pity the ones who authorized the operation weren't caught in the fall-out. Congress could do with a little pruning.”

Jennifer looked from the icy cold moss-green eyes of the Slayer to the blazing emeralds of the witch and decided that she was not going to argue the point that elections had been instituted for that reason.

“Okay. Ummm... So me and Kennedy... Is it possible to h-hold off on the physical stuff?” Jennifer changed the subject, carefully not looking at Kennedy.

She felt Kennedy's hand grip hers tighter. “Jennifer, look at me.”

Jennifer bit her lip and looked the girl in the bed in the face.

Kennedy gazed into Jennifer’s eyes. “Jennifer, I will never, ever force you to do something you don’t want. If you want this bond to remain platonic, it will be platonic. If you want it to become physical…” Kennedy grinned a lascivious grin. “I promise to give you the best sex ever.”

Jennifer blushed.

Kennedy lightly squeezed her hand again. “I admit that I’d love for this to be more than platonic. But if you’re not comfortable with that, I can find other ways to release my sexual tension. Don’t worry.”

Jen nodded. “Okay, I can live with that. But you have to remember that this is a military base and I’m an officer in the Air Force. Don’t ask, don’t tell is in force here. I don’t want to have any more rumors than there are already. One PDA and I’ll, I’ll…” Jen floundered around for a suitable threat.

“Hand her over to me for a sparring session,” Buffy stated dryly, her eyes on the younger Slayer, who was grinning broadly. “You will make sure you don’t threaten Jennifer’s career or do anything she doesn’t want to, won’t you Kennedy?”

Kennedy gulped at the look in Buffy’s eye, the mild tone of her voice not deceiving her. “Yes, Ma’am!” she squeaked.

Buffy nodded. “Good. Come on Willow. We’ve got a General to brief.”

Jennifer looked after them and then at Kennedy who looked disgruntled. “Something wrong?”

Kennedy gestured at the place where Buffy had been. “I thought I was immune to the Slayer Eye. Seems I’m not.”

“Slayer eye?” Jennifer sounded confused.

Kennedy sighed. “Buffy and Faith both have it. They look at us, the younger Slayers, in a certain way, and wham, instant scared little recruit,” she glared at her hands, pouting a little. “It was much more fun when I was still a Potential and could diss her whenever I liked.”

Jennifer laughed. “Well, it’s good to know there’s something that will hold you in check,” she hesitated and then leaned forward and kissed Kennedy’s cheek. “You look adorable when you pout. And now go to sleep. You’ve still got a lot of healing to do.”

Kennedy was about to protest when she yawned. She pouted at Jennifer, then snuggled down, with Jennifer’s aid, and soon was sleeping. Jennifer Hailey sat at her bedside and tried to get her heart rate back under control. Kennedy’s skin had been very soft against her lips…      
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