17. Enforced vacation and other sundry problems
Disclaimer: This is a work of Fan Fiction, I make no claims to the Ownership of BtVS, Stargate, or NBSG. All belong to their respective creators.A/N
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As always; 'speech' Caprican, "Speech" English.
Helo yawned as he set the Raptor down. Flying across the country was boring, the only part that was technically challenging was the end of the flight. Hovering the Raptor into the hanger was a pain in the ass, but technically difficult. Normally he wouldn’t care about the technical difficulty of his flight, just that he got his required flight hours in, but with only two qualified Raptor pilots he needed to get better as a flyer. He had only barely qualified on the raptor and it showed, rather painfully at times, in his rather sloppy flying. The only way he would get better was to fly more often, and to fly more difficult routes.
The second problem with being a bad flyer was that he really needed to improve before he even thought about trying to fly a Viper. Something that he would have to do now that he had cleared the SGC as a non-demonic agency and potential allies. Cordelia and Sharon would have to go over the readings he had collected but he doubted they would find anything different from what he had. After all both the survey packages had come up clean. He was still amused that he had used a Cylon survey package in conjunction with the Colonial survey package. Despite their different make both were eerily similar in function. Both had been part of their respective ships emergency supplies probably due to the fact that the Heavy Raider and the Raptor fulfilled similar roles in their respective fleets.
Helo yawned again and began shutting down the Raptor. It was clear from his wandering thoughts that he needed to get some sleep. The flight might have been boring, but it had also been rather long. He was looking forward to his own bed with his wife in it. Sleeping without Sharon after he had gotten used to sleeping with her had been a pain. Not to mention he wanted to see his daughter and Faith. As his kids he had found that he missed them when he was away. Before he could take that thought further the door of the Raptor was opened from the outside. Sharon stuck her head in, causing Helo to grin.
“Don’t bother running a complete shutdown,” Sharon said from the door. “We have issues here.”
“Lovely,” Helo finished shutting off the thrusters and then moved out of his seat. “I’m guessing that I’m not going to be sleeping in our bed tonight?”
“Our bed on the Atlantia,” Sharon responded giving him a tight hug.
“We’re pulling out?” Helo asked.
“Not really,” Sharon said with a sigh. “Our interns got hit with a supernatural assassin.”
“Is everyone okay? Is Willow okay?” Helo asked nervously.
“Willow has a slight crease over her ribs, Jonathan had a slug in his calf, and Andrew is freaking out.” Sharon kissed him.
“What the hell happened and who do I have to kill?” Helo shook his head in amazement. It sounded like things had gone insane while he was off working with the SGC.
“Career day of all things,” Sharon said with a slight laugh. “The Assassin posed as a police officer and pulled her service piece. She started shooting, but I got her before she killed anyone. Considering that she was shooting at the CRD group we’re assuming that she was hired to take us out, or at least prune back our operations.”
“Thank you. What a welcome home,” Helo’s voice was filled with sarcastic amusement. “And to think I was just thinking about missing home.”
“I missed you too,” Sharon pulled him out of the Raptor. He noted that there were more then a few bags scattered around the hanger. It looked like everyone was already packed up and ready to head out.
“So what’s the what?” Helo asked.
“You and Sharon are taking everyone but me and six of the Centurions with you and headed to that planet you were taken to by the SGC on the Atlantia.” Cordelia’s voice cut through his thoughts. “It gives the blond and the new Slayer two weeks to deal with the assassins.”
“There’s a new Slayer? When did that happen?” Helo asked, very confused.
“Your fault. It seems that the whole one girl in the world thing was from before CPR was invented. So now we have two,” Cordelia grinned as she said that. “Score one for the doofus.”
“Why thank you,” Helo mock bowed to her. “So this is a vacation, why aren’t you coming?”
“Because we need to leave someone here,” Cordelia’s voice went serious as she said this. “I’m the human face dealing with everyone but the military and the military knows me. Negotiations over the heat sink and solid light projectors are going to commence soon since we just registered our preliminary patent. Not to mention that the SGC will probably be sending someone by to check up on us and nag for technical specs.”
“And the Vipers?” Helo raised an eyebrow.
“The Air Force wants some time before we deliver them so they can snag the pilots and techs they need. I called them last night when you sent us your preliminary report.” Cordelia shrugged as she said that. “Two or three weeks worked for them.”
“Right, so we’re off to a new planet,” Sharon grinned as she said that. “What do you want as a souvenir?”
“Get me something shiny,” Cordelia shot back as she turned and left the hanger flanked by a pair of Centurions. He was glad to see that she was taking her own safety seriously.
“Are we really just going to follow her instructions?” Helo asked his wife. He was well aware of her antithapy towards Cordelia.
“It looks like there are assassins coming after all CDR personnel. I want our daughters well away from that and safe,” Sharon looked him in the eyes and growled out. “So yes, we are doing what she said. Don’t argue with me.”
“Yes dear,” Helo knew that tone, and he wasn’t dumb enough to even think of arguing with Sharon when she was in this kind of mood. “Have we told the interns yet?”
“No, I thought that you would want to be here to see Andrews meltdown first hand.” Sharon grinned as she said that. Her husband took a fair amount of pleasure from getting Andrew to melt down every chance he could in revenge for his slip of the tongue. Ever since he had absentmindedly referred to Sharon as a toaster Helo had taken every opportunity to cause him a meltdown that came his way. “We told them that we’re taking them on a trip. Not where and not how.”
“Excellent!” Helo actually rubbed his hands together in glee. “I believe we should inform them that they are flying Air Raptor. Besides, I want to check on Willow. I know you said she was okay, but she still is my little sister. Well, not real… you know what? Lets just get this done, I’m tired and starting to babble.”
“So any news on our assassin problem,” Cordelia asked as she entered the high school library closely followed by all six of the Centurions that she had kept on planet. She had initially wanted to keep all ten with her, but Helo and Sharon did need some ground forces even if the planet was empty. They would also need assistance running the hanger deck of the Atlantia. It could be done by just two people, but not if they wanted to do anything else with their time. Since they needed to get checked out on the Viper, well they would need the assistance. They also were responsible for six non-combatants, so letting four of the Centurions go with them was a necessity. Her Six memories had beaten the idea that you always plan for Murphy into her head, so she felt better if they had more qualified personnel. After all riding herd on their kids and the three interns would take up a lot of their time to begin with.
“Assassin and Du Lac problem,” Sam Zabuto spoke firmly from the table where he was pouring over a book. “They may be connected.”
“Probably connect I would say,” Giles spoke from where he was making tea in his office. “Tarakan’s are after all supernatural in nature.”
“Smart vamp?” Kendra asked, flipping a knife.
“Quite,” Sam grimaced as he admitted that. “We now have two fronts to work on, thereby splitting our attention and resources.”
“Well, let’s hope the Slayers get him or her,” Cordelia said mildly. “Smart opponents are a pain in the ass.”
“True,” Giles entered the library carrying four cups of tea. “If it is Spike, as I suspect, then this will undoubtedly be a thorny problem. He has after all killed two Slayers in hand to hand combat in the past.”
“This time he will be going up against two Slayers at the same time, I doubt that he will be able to match that.” Sam shrugged as he accepted his tea.
“Unless we are forced to split up.” Kendra said softly. “He has already divided out attention, it would make sense that he would attempt to divide us as well.”
“True,” Giles seemed to stop and contemplate for a moment. “If he does so then he will go after Buffy, not you Kendra. After all we know he has a made a rather extensive study of her fighting style.”
“And her propensity to dive head first into traps,” Cordelia accepted her tea with a roll of her eyes.
“Well…” Giles started to defend his Slayer.
“Giles, you need to realize that she has issues,” Cordelia overrode him before he could get started. “I’m not saying that she isn’t an effective Slayer, what I’m saying is that she has a known weakness.”
“I do have to wonder,” Sam stated loudly before Giles and Cordelia could go into one of their endless fights over Slayer Buffy. “What held the Hellmouth in check before the arrival of the Slayer.”
“What do you mean?” Giles asked, seating himself, slightly confused.
“From reading your reports, and from looking at the history of this place, I would think that you would have an established demonic boss in the area,” Sam sipped his tea as he paused for a second in contemplation. “Before the arrival of the Slayer there were no recorded attempts to open the Hellmouth. Given the nature of demons that implies that something old and powerful was keeping a lid on it. Thus forcing me to ask why have you seen no evidence of this malignant presence.”
“That is a very good question,” Giles sat back abruptly. “Could it have been the Master?”
“No, not with him trapped as he was,” Sam shook his head. “Although he could have been. I would speculate that you are being funnelled threats since Buffy survived her confrontation. Whomever is controlling the town is allowing you to deal with his or hers enemies instead of doing the job themselves. At least that is my theory on what is occurring.”
“And because each threat is credible on there own…” Cordelia frowned as she trailed off.
“You must deal with them, and you cannot look deeper,” Sam agreed. “It is a solid stratagem. Given the life expectancy of the Slayer whomever is doing this is counting on one set of enemies to take out another with the surviving group being distracted by the battle so that he or she can either go about their work unmolested or take out the winner should it please them. Since you have been winning consistently and remain ignorant of this boss I would further speculate that he or she views you being here as a good thing.”
“This is all well and good for the future,” Cordelia spoke acidly. “Unfortunately we have to deal with the now.”
“Ah, but it effects the now,” Sam looked at Cordelia. “We now speculate that this is all one prolonged attempt on the Slayers life, so we must deal with it as such.”
“How did you come to this conclusion?” Giles asked mildly.
“The political sophistication of this attack is beyond anything that a vampire would think up,” Sam said bluntly. “No vampire would think to strip away allies the way this attack does. Something about the presence of the Centurions has forced a change.”
“I think you severely underestimate Spike,” Giles voice was firmer then Cordelia had ever heard it before. “The Vampire has proven himself to be smarter then average and he has access to a seer.”
“So the Centurions are a threat are they?” Cordelia’s smirk was vicious as she spoke. “Then if there is an enemy they will hate what I’m about to do.”
“Cordelia?” Giles asked mildly frightened by the look on Cordelia’s face.
“I have six Centurions with me,” Cordelia grinned. “I’m assigning two to work with and be body guards for each slayer.”
“Putting them at the point of contact,” Sam nodded his approval of the plan. “Smart.”
“Of course,” Cordelia preened. “I came up with it.” Before they could really get into the ideas they had started to discuss the door to the library burst open. Everyone moved to get into combat mode. Even though it was still daylight the doors slamming open like that meant one thing, trouble was on the way.
“GILES!” Buffy’s voice caused everyone to relax slightly. It sounded like the slayer had just run into a problem. “GILES!”
“Here,” Giles called rolling his eyes. When Buffy limped around the stacks everyone’s eyes went wide. It looked like she had gone ten rounds with a master vampire.
“What in the world happened to you?” Cordelia was the first to ask.
“I went home and this creepy salesman knocked, then he turned out to be one of those teriyaki assassin guys, then when I was finally beating him he turned into a pile of bugs and left,” Buffy threw herself into a chair. “This totally sucks, my house is a wreck. Mom is coming home tomorrow and there is no way I can clean this up.”
“I believe that we can take care of that,” Giles said evenly. As he and Buffy began to talk over what would need to be done to put her home to rights Cordelia leaned in to have a whispered conversation with Sam.
“So what’s the big deal with you Watchers not wanting the families of your Slayers to know?”
“It’s dangerous,” Sam said flatly. “We once trained whole families, instead of just the potential. The end result of that was… messy. The families that potentials come from usually have unrealized mystical potential, so when the slayer inevitably died… well their family members tended to go on rampages. The last family involved in slaying was in 1908 and the mother caused the Tunguska Event without aid from anyone.”
“So now you keep the families out of it,” Cordelia shook her head. “Did those Slayers last longer then the Slayers of today?”
“At times,” Sam admitted. “The downside was that the Watchers were forced to avert an apocalypse every time a Slayer died. In the end we chose to accept the lower life expectancy as opposed to the constant clean up.”
“Brutally practical,” Cordelia said lightly. “It sounds like you Watchers care about the results more then the human part of the equation.”
“Yes, frankly Buffy’s support structure worries me because it is made up of her friends and bound together by bonds of love and affection. History has shown that those types of groups favour the human half, not the results.” Sam frowned as he admitted that. “You may not like the Watchers and the way we do things but there are reasons why we act the way we do. Frankly I would love to have a professional support team backing up Kendra, but an amateur group of friends? That is a bomb waiting to go off.”
“So you think we’re a threat,” Cordelia asked eyes narrowing.
“No, I know you’re a threat. You and this Xander, Karl, Helo, what ever his name is now, started off as teenagers and through a quirk of magic you were handed a nuclear arsenal. Admittedly you have used your new power responsibly so far and your memories of the lives the characters you dressed up as have helped, but in my mind it is just a matter of time before one of you makes a potentially fatal or world ending mistake.” Sam admitted sadly. “You are still fundamentally teens, not adults.”
Jonathan looked over the hanger deck in awe. He hadn’t collapsed into complete incoherence like Andrew had he was still in heaven. There were hundreds of starships here, fighters really, for him to play with. Helo had told him that this trip would be a learning experience but he hadn’t thought that it would be this fun. Each Viper was nestled into its cubby hole, each Raptor neatly laid out on the deck. He couldn’t wait to start crawling over the ships.
Frankly he wished that they had a type five Viper here instead of the type sevens, after all, the plan he was working on was from the mark five. Still the mark sevens were impressive ships if he had read the plans right. Just less useful when he was trying to design a space fighter that Earth could build. Despite, or maybe because of, his fascination with the space ships Jonathan knew that he wanted to fly one. He wanted to be the person in the drivers seat, controlling everything as he tore through space.
“Getting ideas?” Helo’s voice cut through his day dream of flying.
“Yeah,” Jonathan walked over to the nearest Viper and ran his hand over the underside of its nose. “You think I can get in on the flight training that you and Athena were talking about on the way up here?”
“Raptors, maybe,” Helo said ruefully. “Not Vipers, not till you’ve logged one hell of a lot of flight time.”
“Why the maybe?” Jonathan turned back to the older man.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take Athena and myself to check out on the Viper. Flying a Vipers like nothing else in the universe,” Helo’s eyes went unfocused and his voice distant. “The response time is unreal, the littlest twitch of your hand any you’re tumbling through space. The truth is that they’re way too responsive. It makes them the most manoeuvrable craft in history but it also makes them a bitch to fly.”
“You don’t know if you’re going to check out,” Jonathan observed.
“Nope,” Helo came back to himself. “I barely passed Raptor training. Even with all the flight time I’ve logged since then a Viper might just be beyond me.”
“Interesting,” Jonathan hid his disappointment. He might not get to fly a Viper but he could end up flying a Raptor. Even if it wasn’t the ship he wanted to fly he would fly some sort of space ship. “How big is the crew of this ship?”
“Non existent,” Helo responded. “We’ve set this ship up as a space station, not as a working ship.”
“How did you get it here then?” Jonathan asked, curious.
“It takes two people to jump the ship,” Helo answered easily. “And that’s only because the hyper drive is on a two key lock out. If that wasn’t the case then one person could conceivably jump the ship. Unlike moving it with the sub light engines you can do everything you need to from the CIC.”
“Hyper drives are computer controlled and not the sub light drives? I would have thought that it would be the other way around,” Jonathan commented after a moment of thought.
“Not really, when you jump you feed Tillium directly into the hyper coils to be flash fried. The amount you burn determines that distance that you travel. Because of that everything has to be very precise so its on computer control. You should have someone watching the hyper drive but it isn’t actually necessary, especially if you’re just making one jump.” Helo shrugged. “With the sub light engines everything is more mechanically complicated, so you really need a full engineering crew to even think about using them.”
“Why not have a bunch of Centurions crew the ship,” Jonathan asked balefully glaring around him. It had just hit him that he was going to have to do everything, without assistance, if he wanted to play with the Vipers.
“Because they’re sentient,” Helo answered sourly. “Do you know how boring it is to sit on a ship and do nothing for months on end? Given the situation on earth and in the surrounding space we can’t even patrol the system. We made that decision just based on the astronomers we knew about. Trying it now when we know that Earth is active in the galactic scene? That would be an act of lunacy.”
“You still haven’t told me how Earth is active in the galactic scene,” Jonathan pointed out.
“They’ve got an artefact from an older culture, it creates a stable wormhole and allows them to explore the galaxy. At least the parts of the galaxy that have their own stable wormhole machines.” Helo paused briefly before continuing. “Frankly I think it’s idiotic, but that’s me.”
“Why idiotic?” Jonathan frowned as he considered what Helo had said. He couldn’t see how exploring was stupid.
“Because they don’t understand the tech they’re using. If something major goes wrong they’re SOL. To top it off think about this, they are involved in a war where their opponent has access to hyper capable starships, Earth doesn’t. It means that they can only fight their enemy on the ground and that is a losing proposition. Been there, done that, have more then my fair share of scars,” Helo’s voice had gone grim as he spoke. “He who holds the orbitals holds the world, that is an axiom any culture that has fought a war in space has adopted.”
“What about you? Is your ship capable of protecting Earth?” Jonathan asked suddenly worried.
“No, we don’t have shield tech, we don’t have energy weapons, and even throwing nukes we would have one hell of a time battering through the standard shields on a Goa’uld vessel. They are the lowest tech race that SGC has encountered.” Helo said softly. “Even if we could fight the Atlantia… well… we would lose if we came up against a Ha’tak.”
“Do you have any means to fight back?” Jonathan was beginning to see just how difficult a position the Cylons were in. On one hand they wanted to protect Earth, on the other they were facing a massively superior enemy.
“We have a plan,” Helo barked a laugh. “It seems all hyper systems the SGC knows about are radically different from the way we do things. I can’t tell you which is better but… with ours we can probably jump under anyone’s shields and nuke ‘em with a Raptor. Of course that only applies to larger vessels, smaller ships we would be at a major disadvantage. Still if we take out the bigger ships at the beginning of a fight we can bluff out the rest.”
“That sounds… suicidal,” Jonathan said softly.
“It’s not, difficult and dangerous yes. Suicidal? No, especially with the improved computers I’ve been working into our main Raptor. We can compute the second jump before we do the first jump.” Helo shrugged as he said that. “As for a fighter fight? Our Vipers would eat Death Gliders for breakfast; they’re more heavily armed and more manoeuvrable. That doesn’t even take into account the Raptors command and control functions. Of course we do need pilots for that kind of fight…”
“Let me get this straight,” Brigadier Ethan Wyndam the second said in a cold voice. “You bought the Stargate from us, got it to work, and then totally excluded us from the defence of the planet despite the fact we had relevant information on the threat. Something that we could have told you had you bothered to ask.”
“Exactly,” General Hammond couldn’t help but wince. “In our defence the people who started the program are all gone and after Dr. Langford died no one knew who he had bought the gate from, not even his daughter. We were told that he had simply dug it up.”
“And excluded your oldest allied power in the process of entering Earth into a galactic war,” Ethan said in a milder tone. “You do realize that you are going to have to give us concessions?”
“Yes, we are aware of that.” Hammond said heavily. “We are asking for personnel to form new teams and cutting you in on the knowledge that we’ve already gleaned from the program.”
“That would be enough were it not for the minor fact that you got us into a war,” Ethan said. “Since you did… you are going to have to give us a bit more.”
“Agreed,” Hammond shook his head at the position he found himself in. Normally the Brits were reasonable and easy to work with, not this time. From the Queen on down the Brits seemed universally annoyed. He thought that part of it was the discovery of their project blue book. Since they had managed a peaceful first contact they had thought that the Americans could have done the same. Only it hadn’t worked out like that, the Americans had run smack dab into an enemy and touched off a galaxy wide war by accident. Killing Ra had been the right choice, only no one at the SGC then had any clue what Ra’s political position was.
“So what are you going to give us and how are you going to sell this to the Pentagon?” Ethan asked with a devilish light in his eyes. He knew that Kinsey and the Pentagon were going to scream bloody murder over the inclusion of the Brits and that the SGC and President would bear the brunt of their ire. As much as he admired the soldiers of the SGC getting them raked over hot coals gave him a warm fuzzy feeling. No one should get you involved in a war and not both to tell you about it. It simply wasn’t cricket.
“Since one of your intelligence organs was in contact with extra terrestrials before the Stargate program began…” Hammond trailed off for a second and then continued in a much firmer voice. “We’re giving you discretion over all Cylon tech.”
“So basically we split the Goa’uld stuff but the Cylon stuff is under British control,” Ethan nodded. “I think that will work. It certainly will please Downing Street.”
“We do ask that you let us build the fighters that the Cylons were talking about giving us blueprints for.” George leaned back in his chair and smirked. The President had come up with this idea to calm the Brits. As angry as they were giving them the illusory control over Cylon tech was the perfect way to counter balance the American imperialist faction of the Pentagon and their supporters on the Hill. It also gave the SGC a solid reason why the Brits had been pulled in.
“Quite,” Ethan smirked as he saw the thoughts running through Hammond’s head. He was an old hand at these political games. “I presume that you are going to be running the tests on the late model fighters that the Cylons are selling us?”
“Unless you think you can get away with it,” Hammond shrugged as he said that.
“Unfortunately not,” Ethan admitted that Hammond had a point. The RAF simply didn’t have the testing facilities needed to really evaluate a space fighter. “How is this going to mesh with the 302 program?”
“It’s not,” George admitted. “We’re planning on running the programs in parallel. The 302s more of a Tomcat while the Viper is more of a Hornet. From the proposed technical specs both blow the Death Glider out of the water, but they’re birds build for different purposes. The 302 is a pure superiority bird while the Viper is a strike bird. At least that’s how we’re playing it at the moment. The fact that the Cylons think they can get us a gate capable model of the Viper is what is informing that thought.”
“And the Raptor?” Ethan asked mildly. Personally he thought that was the more important platform. Earth was already developing a fighter, a command and control bird built for space was something they didn’t have.
“We may get it in the future,” Hammond shrugged. “I don’t think so though. They’re keeping a tight leash on their hyper tech at the moment.”
“I noticed that in the briefings, I’m more interested in its applications as an AWACS bird, an EW bird, or any of the other roles that the Cylons use it for.” Ethan shrugged as he admitted that. “From everything I’ve read we’re better at fighter ops then anyone else in the galaxy, with the possible exception of the Free Colonial Cylon Fleet, it would behove us to take that expertise with us when we go to space.”
“You have a point there, but I’m not sure what to offer the Cylons for a Raptor clone,” Hammond admitted. “They didn’t ask for much technical knowledge. Most of what we gave them was target identification type information so if they ran into the Goa’uld they would know what they were fighting.”
“Point,” Ethan admitted. “I imagine that we can convince them to give us an older model without a hyper engine if we find the right bait though. Possibly even something as simple as offering to pay for it.”
“It will take time,” Hammond cautioned. “The Viper model they’re licensing to us is one that they are designing to be built with our tech base. I can’t imagine that a Raptor wouldn’t need to be redesigned as well.”
“True, but your command has noted that these Cylons think like humans. If so their AWACS birds are not on the cutting edge of technology except in their electronics. They probably have a model we can build in their historical archives.” Ethan said simply. He wasn’t sure if that was true or not, but if it was he planned to get the Raptors constructed in England. It would be a slap in the faces of the right people and it would generate jobs. Getting the British military industrial complexes feet in the door before the American industry realized the opportunity was a goal in its own right. Especially if they could become leaders in at least one of the new fields long term. Running the SGC cost money, and now that they were included the British would have to pay into the program. Boosting the budget was necessary otherwise they would find themselves out in the cold, again, only this time they would know about it.
The thumping of the heavy bag made it obvious where Faith was. She had taken off earlier after yelling at Helo, something had upset her. Sharon had said to let her go but Willow wanted to know what was going on. Especially since she had agreed to tutor the younger woman. Trying to get through to her would be a real problem, Willow didn’t want to get caught on the middle of whatever was going on. Especially when everyone involved in the fight where vicious when cornered.
Sharon had been trying to teach Willow how to fight, but for some reason she had issues with it. There was a cognitive disconnect between knowing the moves and using the moves on a person. Willow just wasn’t a physical person, unlike everyone else. When the Terakan had opened fire she had frozen, even Andrew and Jonathan had reacted better then she had. She had her suspicions as to why that was, their Halloween memories were getting a work out working the way they were. She had run her theory past miss Calendar, and Jenny agreed. It still made it hard to connect with the people she was now travelling with.
It seemed that everyone in her new life was comfortable with physical violence. Of course some of them preferred not to use it, but they were comfortable with it. Even Buffy, who hadn’t been changed by Halloween, was comfortable with violence. Willow’s issues made her nervous because of that. It was like being back at school again where everyone else could bond over fashion, leaving Willow out in the cold.
Not that she really was out in the cold. Helo had spent a lot of time with her while she recovered from her injury. They had talked almost like before Helo became Helo. It was a nice feeling that Willow had missed. Just sitting around joking with her friend. During her recovery everyone had come around to talk to her. It was a nice feeling but at the same time she worried that it was just sympathy. Still Sharon had asked her to get Faith up to speed on her English and history education. That was a mark of respect wasn’t it?
“What?” Faith had noticed Willow and turned towards the older girl.
“I just wanted to make sure that you’re okay. Not that you wouldn’t be okay, but you seemed upset and sometimes people, by that I mean me, need to talk about things.” Willow babbled. “I mean you could talk to Fred or Jonathan but since I was there I figured that I should come along and offer you know?”
“Nothing,” Faith’s voice and manner was surly.
“Well, maybe not talk to me, but you should talk to someone. It’s not good to just hold everything inside. Especially not with things being as crazy as they are. Everything is changing from day to day. Not to say that you can’t do it, just that it’s not good for you.” Willow shrugged.
“I liked the way things were,” Faith spoke softly after hitting the bag a couple of times. “I had a home and people who care. All this change is… screwing with me. I mean I went from Boston to California, everything changed. Now it’s changing again and I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out.”
“I can relate,” Willow nodded. She had thought that it was something like that. As Sharon had said earlier Faith had issues. “One night and everything I knew changed again.”
“Really?” Faith asked, suddenly interested. “What do you mean by again?”
“The first time was when Buffy came. Did you know that we used to be a trio, not a duo? Jesse, Xander, and me. Us against the world. Then Buffy came to town and Jesse died, and we found out about the supernatural. Suddenly everything we knew was wrong and we had to change our worldview.” Willow shrugged.
“How the hell did you live in Sunny-D and not know about what goes bump in the night?” Faith asked her voice filled with shock.
“I never thought about it. I mean, we lived there for our entire lives. The deaths and disappearances were just part of life.” Willow scratched her chin as she said that. “I never really thought about it. I mean now that I know about the night life I can see all of the demons we ran into but back then when we didn’t know? We brushed it off as the usually California wackiness.”
“Weird,” Faith commented.
“Then we had the summer, I mean Buffy left and we did the patrolling on our own.” Willow continued her story, trying to get Faith to identify with her.
“Wasn’t that dangerous?” Faith asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Sort of, but Xander knew… and because of the way Jesse died, well, he couldn’t let it go,” Willow admitted.
“How did Jesse die?” Faith asked getting interested in the conversation. She had never really heard about Xanders life. Helo always talked about his life in the Colonial Fleet and the lessons he had learned there. Never about his life as Xander.
“He got turned and Xander staked him to save Cordelia,” Willow’s voice was soft.
“Make’s sense, I mean everyone but Sharon gets along with the Queen,” Faith just shrugged at that revelation.
“We didn’t used to,” Willow snickered as she remembered what it was like before Halloween. “We hated her. She was this rich bitch who was always down on us. We founded a club based on our hatred of her.”
“Damn…” Faith’s eyes went wide at that admission. “How come you’re so tight with her now?”
“Because she isn’t the same person,” with a shake of her head Willow thought about the changes in life. “Who she is now is a totally different person. Six was good for her, she can still be a bitch but now she’s more focused. She’s less of a bitch for the sake of being a bitch and more a bitch because she has a reason. It’s easier to deal with her when she’s not just going to lash out at you because you’re there or you have the wrong clothes.”
“And Helo?” Faith smirked when she saw the shocked look on Willows face. “I noticed how you look at him.”
“He was a dork, a lovable dork but a dork none the less. I had a huge crush on him…” Willow paused, trying to order her thoughts. “I think Helo is a happier person. Xander always hid who he was. With his parents I don’t blame him but… it’s hard at times to look at the man Helo is and still see my goofy friend.”
“How come you’re okay with it? I know B doesn’t like the changes, but you seem cool with it,” Faith observed shrewdly.
“Because being Helo is better for him then being Xander ever was. When you’re really friends with someone, best friends and more like family, sometimes you have to let your feelings go and admit that changes you don’t like are better for the person then what you thought they should have. Sorry, I’m not explaining myself well.”
“I get it. You get accept the changes because you see them as better for your friend then what you thought should happen.” Faith nodded decisively.
“Exactly. Buffy… I love her to death but she has a view of how the world should be and it takes a lot to change her view.” Willow walked over to the wall and pulled out a folding chair. Since she was going to be playing the part of Sharon for this conversation she wanted to have a seat.
“Like how everyone else says that Angel dusted but she says that he died?” Faith frowned as she tried to wrap her head around what Willow was trying to tell her. Was it that she needed to accept change, or was it that change happened and not adjusting to it was a problem.
“That… yeah, that’s a good example. Angel was a vampire with a soul cursed into him. Buffy saw him as a person, as did I, everyone else saw him as a vamp. I don’t know which side is right, if he was a person dealing with being a vampire or a vampire inflicted with a person, but because Buffy saw him as a person she ignores that he was also a vampire.” Willow waived her hands around trying to explain the situation clearly. “I guess… I wandered way off point didn’t I?”
“Yeah, you did,” Faith giggled at the flustered look on Willows face. She was turning out to be alright. Sure she wasn’t a patch on Lady S, but she was pretty cool. “You’re alright, you know that?”