Show and Tell
AN: Thanks to all who commiserated on having to move. I'm pretty settled,
and a LOT less cranky. :)
Kudos to everyone who caught Jack's slip last chapter (it was intentional).
Thanks for pointing it out to me anyway though. I'm sure I'll make some
more slips (this time purely unintentional) of my own.
**************** Trick Or Treat: Chapter Twenty *******************
Xander sat up from the bed he was sprawled across as Dr. Daniel Jackson and
Colonel Jack O’Neill charged into his room. Actually, Dr. Jackson charged-
Jack sort of ambled in Xander’s general direction. The younger man checked
his watch and raised a single dark brow. “It’s a little late for house
calls, isn’t it?”
“You got nothing better to do,” Jack snapped, his affable mood melting to
show his irritation.
Xander was only too happy to oblige him in the irritation department. They
had left him ALL alone for hours and hours without even trying to interrogate
him and now, you know what, he just wasn’t in the mood. “How do you know?” he
snapped back. “I was having a perfectly nice conversation with the ceiling
tiles. We have decided that gray is SO not a good color for the walls. Can
we recommend a light beige or sea-foam blue?”
“Xander…” Jack growled.
He glared at the older man. “Want me to get out my fork?”
Dr. Jackson sniggered and Jack leveled a dark look in his teammate’s direction.
Daniel smiled widely. “Ferretti showed me the footage.”
Jack cursed vividly. “Fucking meddler!”
Xander sniggered but abruptly sobered as Daniel Jackson turned and focused all
his considerable attention on the younger man. “What do you know about
Jack could tell the exact moment that Xander thought up his lie. Part of the
reason that Jack had survived as long as he had was because he had learned to
read people. Jack didn’t always act intelligently upon that information, he’d
be the first to admit that, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t tell when someone
was lying to him.
And Xander was definitely lying when he shrugged and said, “Umm, pointy teeth,
pointy sticks kill them? Unless you’re talking Anne Rice or Anita Blake and
then there’s leather and lots of unrelieved sexual tension. Or just sex in the
Yup, definitely lying. The tightness in Xander’s face gave him away. He was
good, but for once age was on Jack’s side because experience was better.
Daniel looked both amused and exasperated, an interesting expression that Jack
didn’t usually see directed at anyone but himself. Few people had exactly the
right qualities required to provoke that kind of reaction from Daniel. “Xander,”
the archaeologist started patiently, “we know you know about Vampires. The real
Xander did a good job of looking confused as he absently scratched shaggy black
hair. A REALLY good job. Jack was becoming more and more impressed. “Maybe
you guys missed something that I didn’t but as far as I’m concerned the only
Vampires I know of are more of the book and movie variety.”
Ohh boy, Daniel was getting his determined face on. The one he got whenever he
was about to talk General Hammond into extending an archaeological mission.
Right after he had convinced Jack.
Xander wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
“Xander,” Daniel started earnestly, totally un-intimidated in the face of
Xander’s bland befuddlement, “we need to, HAVE to, understand what happened in
the infirmary the other day to Sergeant Mailer, if only to make sure that it
doesn’t happen again. It’s important, REALLY important.”
The younger man yawned hugely. “As important as figuring out why that spy snake
thing didn’t make me into some sort of treasonous radio transmitter?”
Jack’s teammate blinked once. “Spy snake…? Oh, right, the spy snake! Umm, that
is very, VERY important too. It’s all important.”
Jack tried not to groan. Good one Daniel.
Xander apparently echoed Jack’s views. “Wow,” Xander drawled, “almost makes you
wonder how you all lived without me for all these years.”
Yeah, something like that. Can’t live with him… can’t save the world without him?
Since when had a twenty-five year old, one eyed carpenter who was nicknamed Xander
become integral to national security? It was funny how those kinds of things
Daniel scowled. “Xander, I don’t think you comprehend the full impact…”
“If it’s so damn important, why are you talking to me? I mean, there are tons of
people who probably know a lot more than whatever it is you think I do.”
Very good- no outright admittance to knowledge, but he was definitely trying to
mislead them with a healthy dose of common sense.
And that had Daniel flustered all right. He wasn’t used to people being rational
and logical. He spent too much time with Jack for that. “Umm, well I did get a
hold of one expert but Mr. Giles was rather occupied at the time and…”
Mr. Giles. Mr. Giles!
Talk about slow on the uptake. Damn, damn, damn, of freaking course Daniel had
been talking to Mr. Rupert ‘I Know Xander’ Giles. Of COURSE.
Xander abandoned all pretense of ignorance when that name was mentioned. He
straightened slowly, movements measured and deliberate- shoulders tight with a
tension that had only been visible on his features. Xander’s words addressed
Daniel but his gaze was pinned Jack to his spot. “You spoke with a Mr. Giles?”
Daniel, for all his genius, could be absurdly clueless sometimes. He prattled on
and continued to dig the entire SGC into an even deeper hole when he cheerily
replied, “Yes, and a charming young woman too. Had the oddest name.”
“Really?” Xander asked softly, voice deceptively gentle as his demeanor grew more
and more closed off with each passing second. Jack knew THAT feeling all too well.
Save what you could. Take limited damage onto yourself but most important of all-
protect those that you care about.
“Oh yes, Buffy. Buffy! Very odd… I wonder what the derivative of that would be?”
Oh shit. Buffy? Daniel had talked to Buffy Summers too? Part of the three
Xander-teers? Great, just great. No wonder the kid was freaking out. Although
he wasn’t really freaking. The frightened, intractable young man who was so leery
of all things military and medical had been replaced by a man who had seen too much
and had learned how to survive himself.
A soldier sat before them in borrowed B.D.U.s that fit like they were tailored for
him and it was the first time that Jack really, truly realized the hidden depths to
Xander Harris. Jack had always been able to tell that Xander wasn’t exactly normal
on some level, but it had taken a surprisingly long time for the older man to realize
just how much they were alike.
Xander was watching Jack with a cold, hard stare. Jack knew what the kid wanted to
know. Knew that Xander wanted to know why Daniel had spoken with Rupert Giles and
Buffy Summers. Why Jack had allowed things to escalate to the next level.
It made no difference that Daniel’s conversation had been pure coincidence. The
fact that Jack had already had Carter research Xander’s connections put the two men
on an entirely different playing field. Xander could no longer pretend to be a
clueless young man with an easy laugh and a glib tongue. Jack could no longer pretend
that the SGC was solely interested in Xander’s unusual abilities, not after learning
about the Initiative. Not after being threatened by Barrett.
Not after Xander killed an ex-Marine in the SGC’s infirmary.
“Leave them alone.” Xander said softly, voice terrible with the gentle promise of
secrets that he would never repeat.
Daniel looked between the two of them, his blue eyes skittering from his Commander’s
expressionless face to Xander’s calm fury, confusion marring his own features.
“Jack… what’s going on?”
He opened his mouth to answer, but someone else beat him to the punch. “Yes, Colonel,
what IS going on?”
General Hammond stood in the doorway to Xander’s door, closely followed by Carter,
Teal’c, and Anise. Jack didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.
Xander felt a wave of relief when Murray crowded into the room after a large, balding
man in uniform, Major Carter, and another woman Xander had never seen before. A woman
who was about as human as Murray was.
Not that Xander had issues with Murray. He seemed like a cool guy and Xander was
level with the whole stoic thing. Besides, he hadn’t tried to munch on Xander any
and that always earned brownie points from any ex-Hellmouth resident. Also, Xander
recognized a fellow warrior when he saw one. He didn’t know what in the hell Murray
had to fight, but, they had the whole mutual respect thing going on for the most
This new woman gave Xander a bigger case of the wiggins. It wasn’t so much that he
had some sort of official Buffy spidey sense for baddies, but he had been fighting
next to Buffy’s side for over a decade and had learned how to compensate for his
distinct lack of superpowers.
The others were at ease, comfortable, natural acting around Murray. He wasn’t sure
if they knew that Murray wasn’t totally homo-sapien or if they were just clueless
but they all held themselves apart from this new woman. That, more than any other
thing, indicated their knowledge that she was different, other, intrusive.
She looked human enough, but even the way she walked, moved, showed that she was
unused to the very human clothing she was wearing and her face held a stillness, an
eerie calmness that was reminiscent of demons Xander had met over the years- creatures
that had forgotten what it was to even pretend to be fully human. That and her gaze
had a distinctly speculative gleam as she looked him over.
Very prime meat at the butchers perusal and the only women who looked at him like that
tended to be of the subhuman or nonhuman variety: Preying Mantis Teacher, Inca Mummy
Girl, Cordelia, Willow, and Anya came to mind. Of course, Cordelia, in all fairness,
had been human when they’d dated, even though the Bastards to Be had been plotting her
demise. And Willow was human. Mostly. She just went all witchy and veiny once in
awhile. There had been others of course, but Buffy and Wills STILL teased him about
Preying Mantis and Mummy Girl. Especially when that ridiculous Brendan Frasier
movie had come out.
Not that Xander didn’t get in some cheap shots about Angel and Oz because, hello,
Vampire and Werewolf- it’s not like any of the Scoobies seemed to be attracted to
humans. And that wasn’t even bringing up Spike or Kennedy the Freak. Maybe he
should start up a Monster Daters Anonymous for the three of them…
Baldy was still talking and Xander focused on the man’s uniform. Soldier boy
memories provided the requisite information for Xander to make the connection to
a rank- General. Just great. Now a General was getting involved. It almost
would have been easier to let the snake thing possess him. Definitely would have
been a lot less boring.
“Colonel O’Neill, what in Sam hill are you doing here?”
Xander stifled a snicker. Dr. Jackson was all blue eyed innocence but Jack, good
ol’ Jack looked distinctly panicked and quite unhappy. Teach him to try to
“Sir, sorry sir, Daniel got excited about a theory and wanted to come ask Xander
some questions. Sir, what are YOU doing here?”
A small chuckle escaped as the General sighed, the sound of a man obviously used
to his 2IC being an ass. A Jack-Ass. Jack glared at him from across the room and
Xander, amused with his mental punning, grinned cheekily back.
“Our guest received a message that would shorten her stay and we had to move our
meeting up a few hours. We tried to reach both you and Dr. Jackson at home but
were unable to. Now we know why.” The General dismissed his Colonel’s
impertinence with that and turned to face Xander. “Mr. Harris, my name is General
Hammond and it is a pleasure to meet you.”
The General, General Hammond, held out one strong hand for him to shake. Xander
looked at it for a long moment, evaluating, calculating. He wasn’t thrilled with
the upper brass making an appearance, it boded ill for his continued survival
without being turned into a lab experiment, ESPECIALLY after Dr. Jackson’s little
name dropping routine with Giles and Buffy. Although something told Xander that
Dr. Jackson hadn’t had a clue about who he was talking about.
Something told him that Jack knew, or at least suspected, who Giles and Buffy were
to Xander and that was unacceptable. These people were too smart, and too damn
nosy for their own good. The whole Vampire staking thing hadn’t helped out at all
but Xander, for better or worse, didn’t regret it.
He had enough failures on his conscience- girls he had sent on patrol who hadn’t
come back. Lovers he had disappointed. Friends he had hurt with rash words. He
didn’t need to see Dr. Frasier’s frozen, glassy eyed face haunting his nightmares
too. They were getting crowded enough nowadays. And if he found out Spike had
been the one to send him that musical Golush demon nightmare last night, non-corporeal
heads were going to roll. Golush demons had eight tentacle arms, were disgustingly
overweight, and sounded like someone strangling an ill-tempered moose.
It had hardly been a restive night.
If Jack and company didn’t watch out the gloves were going to come off several dozen
Slayer hands and, speaking from a terribly normal human who got stuck arm wrestling
the bunch at their annual picnic, that was not a fun place to be. But, Xander’s
first impression of the General was positive- he seemed friendly but even more
important, he seemed genuine.
Of course, the Mayor had been a real hoot until he turned into a giant snake and
started swallowing half the Senior Class.
Xander reached out and shook General Hammond’s hand anyway. “Nice to meet you
The General beamed and stepped aside. “You’ve met both Major Carter and, umm,
Murray,” oh yeah- they SO knew Murray wasn’t just run of the mill weird, “and this
is one of our associates,” okay, Xander didn’t like the sound of that, “Anise.”
Xander definitely didn’t like the itching feeling that intensified between his
shoulder blades when the strange woman walked forward and smiled stiffly, the warmth
in the familiar gesture brittle and wan. REALLY didn’t like having five sets of
eyes focused on the two of them with such intensity. What the HELL was going on?
Anise held out one slender hand. “Alexander Harris, I am pleased to make your
Yeah, he bet she was. He bet she was some man eating she-bitch or, or, or some
succubus. Or... well, reality was often more bizarre than fiction in Xander’s world.
He studied the proffered hand even longer than he had regarded the General’s as the
rest of the room seemed to collectively hold their breath. They were ALL weirdos…
Oh, what the hell, Willow’s spell would keep anything from taking him over and that
was all he really worried about. He didn’t seek death by any means- he had too much
to do- but the idea didn’t terrify him like it had the first time he had found
himself in the middle of a room full of hungry Vampires. Xander reached out and
gripped Anise’s hand.
And swore when her eyes glowed a vivid white and her mouth opened in an ear piercing
Startled, Xander dropped her hand and jumped back, jarring a very surprised Murray
who tripped over the bed and took both of them down in a jumble of limbs. Xander
blinked dazedly from on top of the larger man’s chest as Anise lay curled on the
floor, tremors running through her body. The rest of the room seemed equally
stunned as Anise laboriously drew herself to a sitting position.
Her eyes flared softer this time before she demanded, or SOMETHING demanded, in an
eerie, metallic voice that sounded nothing like the stilted but very feminine voice
from before, “WHAT are you? WHAT did you do?”
He jumped again when Murray asked with dignified formality to please GET off of him.
Xander started to oblige when he caught sight of the older man’s face. His forehead,
which until then had always been covered with something, from hat to bandanna, was
bare. Or, almost bare.
A gold tattoo stood out in proud relief from his brow. A freaking GOLD tattoo.
And suddenly Bruce’s words burst into Xander’s mind with stunning clarity, ‘You been
wondering what ‘Off-world Activation’ means yet? You wonder about good ol’ Murray?
Think any about that snake that wiggled down your throat? Have you begun to piece
things together yet, Harris?’
Xander stood, dizzily, and met Jack O’Neill’s grim eyes one more time. “So, Jack,
when were you planning on telling me about aliens?”