Xander and the Leisurely Drive
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, notes on the minor AU issues, and relevant backstory points (from the first story in the series) are listed in chapter 1.
Xander clambered into his rental truck, and waited while Anise scooted into the shotgun seat. He was frankly surprised that Colonel Carter and her team were trusting him to follow them up to the mountain without any of them in the pickup with him. Or maybe they were trusting Anise to get him to take her back to the base.
Or maybe they had cars and helicopters and stuff like that all around him in covert surveillance, just waiting for him to do something stupid like make a break for it in an area filled with military assets and military bases and military police and military other-stuff. Maybe it was a test.
Well, if it was a test, they were in for a surprise. There was no way he wasn’t going to their base. He needed to know just what the frilly heck these gooberbrains were doing with the astria porta
. And this way, they were even inviting him in. They were inviting him in, and they were leaving a Slayer only minutes away, and they were giving the Scoobies a way to see how heavy their magical wards were, because Xander had a couple Willow-spells on him and they’d trigger as soon as he walked into a warded trap.
He put on his seat belt and waited while Anise fastened hers.
Once he heard that little click, he turned the key in the ignition and said, “Anxious to get back to the base?”
She nodded, “Yes, Xander. I expect that they will want to verify that you are healthy and that I have not done anything that would violate their rules. Then they will want you to talk to them. It is an inevitable part of working with the SGC. But then I expect we will be given sufficient time for you to teach me the sexual positions you promised. You will accompany me to my quarters, where I have a nice, if small, shower.”
He asked as casually as he could, “You have your own room there?”
“It is not specifically my room, but they do have quarters for visitors. It is not the room I used when I was first visiting at the SGC.”
He tried, “When was that?”
“Over five years ago,” she said blithely. “But I was only at the SGC for a couple days before I returned.”
“Through the astria porta
?” he asked as casually as he could.
She smiled smugly. “Yes. And you do not need to try subtlety in order to interrogate me, you may just ask me questions. If there is anything I do not wish to tell you, I will say so. In return, I have questions for you.”
Oh boy. He carefully followed Colonel Carter’s van toward Cheyenne Mountain and said, “Okay. But if there’s stuff I can’t tell you, I’ll just say so.”
“That is quite satisfactory. Now ask me a question.”
He thought it over. “How long has the military had the astria porta
She said, “Due to power requirements and transmission requirements, it can only stay open on one connection for a maximum of one th’liya
. But I believe they first opened it over ten years ago.”
Ten years? How could they be opening this thing for ten years and not be completely overrun by demons? He would have guessed they first opened it about a week or two ago, maybe less, if Anise was just now getting around to wandering around without permission. Now he had even more questions, but he started with, “I don’t know what a th’liya is.”
She looked like she was doing math in her head. Then she finally said, “I believe it would be roughly thirty-eight Tau’ri minutes.”
Okay, thirty-eight minutes would be enough time to lead a small army of demons through something the size of the astria porta
, unless all of Giles’ books were wrong and it was really smaller than a hula hoop. He didn’t get it. If the base wasn’t overrun the first time they opened it into a demon dimension, then why would even boneheads like military guys open it again? Unless Colonel Carter was really half-demon or all-demon, and she was making the other demons tow the line until she was ready. Or they had their very own Maggie Walsh working for Carter, and they were inviting demons in before giving them the Hannibal Lecter treatment.
But that didn’t make any sense, because he had carefully managed to run Carter past Vi, who had really good vampdar. And Vi didn’t even blink. If Carter was even one eighth demon, Vi should have reacted and warned Xander at once. But if Carter wasn’t even part demon, what was the deal with her father, this ‘Sell-mack’ thing? And if her father was this ‘Sell-mack’, then why did the rest of her team think her dad was this General Carter guy? And how could General Carter be listed as being on ambassadorial duties when nobody could find a country where he was on the embassy lists? Could the U.S. government be doing something so stupid as sending ambassadors to demon dimensions?
Now he had a few billion more questions. He kept his eyes on the road and followed the SUV. He said, “Okay, your turn. What would you like to know?”
She paused and then asked, “Xander, how many Kama Sutra positions can be done in the front seat of a pickup truck such as this one?”
He managed not to slam on the brakes or crash into Carter’s SUV. That was definitely not what he was expecting. Good thing he wasn’t drinking a soda. He would have had bubbly goodness squirting out his nose like a fire hydrant, and that would be of the painful. He said, “Umm, I never really thought about it. Lemme think about it… Okay, I don’t know. But at least a dozen.”
She looked pensive. “Hmm. Then how many could be done while the truck is in motion, on an average city street or highway?”
He managed not to laugh or anything. “That would be none
She looked puzzled. “Do you not have an auto-pilot on this vehicle? I can see that there is a velocity control on your steering system, and Dr. Jackson has told me that Tau’ri passenger jets have an auto-pilot that can fly the jet from one airport to another.”
He explained, “Passenger jets just have to fly in a straight line at a fixed altitude. Cars have to be able to react to everything around them at a moment’s notice, including people crossing the street, other cars, guys on bikes doing stupid stuff, traffic signs, traffic lights, curves in the road, you name it.”
“Why would I name it?” she asked.
“Sorry. Human idiom.” He went on, “So the speed control only works to keep the speed up while you drive. As soon as you step on the brake, it automatically disengages. And it’s a really simple system. You can make one with no computers or anything, just mechanical linkages and stuff.”
She smiled at him. “It is very helpful that you know all this detail. Dr. Jackson is quite unaware of much of this, and Samantha Carter is not interested in discussions at this level. O’Neill, when he was at the base, preferred to pretend that he was not capable of such work, even though he has a Masters degree in astronomy.”
“He likes to play dumb?” Xander wondered.
“Yes. That is it exactly. Much like you, he prefers to act in ways which lead others to underestimate him. Although I believe you failed in that enterprise this morning, since Teal’c correctly identified much about you.”
He said, “When my friends hear he thought I was James Bond, they’ll laugh so hard they’ll wet their pants.”
“Why would that be amusing?” she wondered. “Neither Samantha Carter nor Daniel Jackson found the comment to be ‘funny’.”
He wasn’t quite sure how to say it. “I work for a pretty big company, and way over half the people in the company can beat the snot out of me.”
She said, “I do not believe that is the case, Xander. Remember, I have seen your scars.”
He couldn’t help smiling. It wasn’t very often that he met someone who saw his scars and didn’t freak majorly. And didn’t think he was a loser for getting so banged up when he worked with Slayers. People unconnected with the Council tended to be in the first group, and the various Council witches, Watchers, and Slayers tended to be in the second. If only Anise wasn’t a demon connected with ‘The Initiative II: The Wrath of Carter’, things would be a lot better.
She added huskily, “I look forward to seeing your scars as soon as possible. Every single one of them.”
Would Willow look at him funny if he asked if she could do a magical auto-pilot for a car? Would she make one for him? And how much trouble would he get into if he really tried it out with Anise? Because he knew that if anyone would get caught in the most embarrassing position possible when the magical auto-pilot went offline, it would be him.
He followed Carter’s van up the long road toward Cheyenne Mountain and wondered how hard it would be to get back out of this evil lair once he was in it. Most evil lairs didn’t have NORAD sitting in top of them, but then most evil lairs wouldn’t have regulation military elevators and airshafts and HVAC systems. He might not know demons like Giles, but nobody in the Council knew standard human construction work like he did.
He could do this. He kept telling himself all the way past the guards and the ginormous fence and into the parking lot.
Okay, the parking lot was weirdly normal. And he was willing to bet the dorky car over there was Daniel Jackson’s. It just had that ‘Giles’ vibe to it.
Maybe he really could do this.