NOTICE: Anyone who's recently had trouble emailing me (like in the last
week or two- ie not before when my account was too, heh, big), let me know
through a review or something so I can yell at Hotmail, always fun. I
had gotten one head's up about that.
AN: A short update because I promised and if I had tried to keep going
this chapter would have turned into a monster and tried to eat itself.
BUT, update this weekend. Regular sized update even. See, I'm a good
updating author, err, again. :) Hope everyone is enjoying their
respective holidays or, if you're holiday-less, at least looking forward
to some extra free time.
And I posted by Wednesday, umm depending on your timezone. Think Hawaii.
************* Trick or Treat: Chapter Twenty- Seven **************
"She locked us in the closet. The closet! I can't believe the nerve
of that short, blonde, high-heeled..."
"If you say attractive I refuse to even pretend that you're in charge
of me, Colonel or not."
Jack turned outraged eyes to a mild but exasperated archaeologist
before slumping down against the wall of the oversized supply closet
that the pint sized bimbo with kung fu moves and the damn NIGHT NURSE
had barricaded them into. "Shit."
He ignored Carter, who was watching him worriedly, and Teal'c, who
didn't look so carefree himself, and glared moodily at Daniel as the
younger man slumped down to the floor next to him. His jaw
"Jack..." Daniel said, hesitatingly.
He counted until ten, and sighed deeply before running a hand through
graying hair. "It's my fault. I pushed and pushed. Xander warned
me off, hell the NID warned me off and I lead Kinsey to Xander's
fucking front door. Shit!" He exploded upward in a burst of
movement, suddenly too angry to sit there and accept Daniel's calming
presence. He didn't want to be calm! A little girl was fucking dead
because of him.
He hit the concrete wall across from him with enough force to split
his knuckles. Jack hissed and savored the pain as blood flowed down
his hand, his wrist, and stained the shirt he was wearing.
"God damnit Jack!" Daniel was up and at his side in an instant, but
the comfort of a friend was replaced by the archaeologist's need to
mother, and scold. Jack could tolerate that a hell of a lot better.
The young man gripped the injured hand none too gently as he examined
the injury with pursed lips.
Jack glanced over at Teal'c. The Jaffa would have looked impassive
to anyone who didn't know him well, but Jack O'Neill wasn't just
anyone. He could see Teal'c own remorse, his own rage, behind the
outwardly inscrutable gaze of the warrior. Jack cared because he
couldn't NOT, not when kids were involved. Teal'c cared because he
and Alexander Harris had bonded in the short time they had been
Not like SG-1 loved and befriended each other. But as two men who
had shared and suffered similar experiences. As warrior certainly,
maybe even as people whom would one day, could one day, be friends.
Jack hadn't really gotten that until he'd seen Teal'c hold Xander
while he sobbed for the little girl Jack's foolish actions had
murdered. It made him wonder who had held Teal'c when loss moved him
to mourn. Made him wonder what other horrors and pains the Jaffa and
one-eyed construction worker from Cleveland had in common.
"Sir..." He looked up at Carter's questioning tone and she met his
eyes as she worried her lower lip with her teeth.
"Spit it out Major. Ouch, damnit it Daniel!" Jack yanked his hand
away from his friend and shoved it in his jacket with another glare,
ignoring the renewed pain as raw knuckles scratched against the
She ran a hand through her closely cropped blonde hair with an action
that mimicked Jack's own nervous tic before slowly responding, "Sir,
why did Kinsey attack Xander's home?" The question brought him, and
the rest of SG-1 up short. Good Carter. "I mean, Kinsey and the
rogue parts of the NID obviously knew that we had Xander in our
custody, what was the point of breaking into his home, guns blazing?
What could Kinsey possibly hoped to have gained from that, except
Xander's animosity? The man's sleaze, but he usually isn't THAT
The three of them stared at her for a heartbeat and blinked. Golly
whiz, it was nice to have a genius around once in awhile. They were
so damn useful.
Buffy placed a gentle hand on his shoulder as he paused outside the
hospital room where the girls were. He didn't have superhuman
hearing, but Xander could still make out the muffled sobs through
He sighed deeply and rested his brow against the cool wood of the
door as Buffy squeezed his shoulder with one hand and hugged him
awkwardly with the other. He turned so that she could step forward
and embrace him before wrapping his arms around her slim form and
burying his face in the crown of her strawberry scented hair.
It was times like these that he always realized how truly small the
oldest Slayer in the world was. How much of the burden that world
had to be for her. It was times like these that he felt like such
a bumbling fool trying to follow in her footsteps.
"Go," she finally said gently, and pushed him away from her, "don't
worry about what to say. Just be there. Its what they need most."
Xander remembered the hours he and Willow had spent those first
weeks after Jesse's death locked away when no one knew, talking
about nothing but mostly crying for the loss of their other best
friend. The first pain always seemed to be greater with griefs
like that: the first dead friend, the first time Buffy died, the
first dead lover. But the blonde Slayer was right, company eased
the pain and his girls deserved to be offered that much comfort.
He turned away from her embrace, and opened the door.
Giles looked up and bit back a sigh of pity as Xander came slowly
into the room. The night had aged the young man, making him seem
older than his twenty-five years for once. The older Watcher stood
off to the side and watched as the youngest of the Slayers rose,
tears streaking their cheeks, and swarmed the one-eyed man. Watched
as Xander unhesitatingly opened his arms and welcomed them to his
On the surface it was easy to assume that Xander hadn't changed much
from his teenage years. That the loud, obnoxious, irreverent man
was the reflection of the boy Giles had met so many years ago.
Moments like these served as a good reminder that the surface of
Xander was just that, the surface.
Dawn came and stood next to him. There were tears in her eyes like
most of the rest, but she watched Xander with something akin to pride
on her face. "He's so great with them." She looked up at the man
who had nearly raised her, "I do hope that you all know how lost
you'd be without him." Her tone implicitly implied that if they
DIDN'T know, they'd damn well better start paying better attention.
Giles smiled wanly and shook his head. "Oh we know Dawn, but I'm
learning every day just how lost."
"Good," she replied firmly as she crossed her arms across her
breast. Impertinent brat.
Buffy slipped into the room and joined them. Dawn opened her mouth
and her sister moved to speak first. "I know, I know, treasure
Xander. Trust me, I don't need the lecture. He's one of MY best
friends oh young one."
The ex-Key to the Universe snorted skeptically but leaned into the
hug the oldest of the Slayers offered as he watched fondly. "Who's
going to call Faith?"
"Not me," Giles interjected quickly and tried to swallow his panic.
Buffy cursed. "Damnit. That was totally unfair."
"I had to call her when Vivian died," Dawn snapped.
Giles rolled his eyes and reached for his glasses, a classic
polishing move. If Willow hadn't been unconscious she SO would have
called him on it. "Need I remind you both that I had to call when
that Vampire yanked a little too hard on Robin right after Sunnydale
and tell her that nighttime activities had to be suspended until
Willow could grow a new one?" Oh to have had the ground swallow
him whole after THAT colorful conversation. Buffy, Xander, and
Willow had always been baffling on some level with their California
cheer and witty banter, even in the face of torture and death, but
Faith was incomprehensible on levels that Giles couldn't begin to
Nine years after being called and he STILL didn't know what the dark
haired Slayer was talking about the vast majority of the time.
Dawn and Buffy both made disgusted faces. "Oh eww," his charge
exclaimed with prediactble feeling, "you win."
Giles replaced his glasses and glared at them both. "Yes, quite."
"Someone's going to have to call her parents," Dawn said softly.
Buffy shook her head. "Xander will take care of that. He insists
if parents are involved."
Faith stared at the empty cradle of the cordless phone she held,
expression blank. Emily watched her mentor silently as she crouched
on the old wooden stairs of the Big House's main entryway. Watched
the second oldest Slayer in the world as she turned suddenly and
hurled the phone against the living room wall with enough force to
dent the drywall and smash the phone into pieces.
Watched as Faith raged, screamed and cursed and wrecked every piece
of furniture that she could get her hands on. Brandy stole like a
silent shadow to Emily's side from the second story, and Maggie
crept in from the dining room, pale faced and wide-eyed. Emily
wasn't big on the nurturing, mothering crap, but she still reached
out for the younger girl's hand and gripped it tightly. She told
herself it was for Maggie's comfort as much as her own.
The brunette finally calmed after several minutes of total
destruction and stopped, her back to the three of them as she
panted from exertion. From suppressed emotion too. Emily was
definitely down with the no touchie-feely philosophy, she knew what
it took to keep everything bottle up where it was safe.
And she was enough like Faith that after several seconds grew brave
enough, stupid enough, to rise and walk down the stairs. To place a
gentling hand on the older woman's bare shoulder. The muscles
beneath her palm tensed like a bowstring, but Emily wasn't
backslapped for her efforts and personally, was willing to count
that as a victory in and of itself.
"Is Ashley..." Emily let the unasked question trail off. Sometimes
it was better not to name your fears.
"Dead." Faith's reply was cold and crisp in its restrained fury, for
Emily bowed her head. "Xan?"
The muscles under her hand relaxed and Faith's voice, when she
responded was full of a queer kind of satisfaction. "Alive,
grieving, and in a murderous rage." Satisfaction that came from
future vengeance for the one who had taken Ashley away from them all,
even before the short time that Slayers were usually granted.
Emily's stomach dropped out from under her before jumping into her
Despite the grief for Ashley, the overwhelming relief was strong
enough to make her weak in the knees. As callous as it would sound
to others, while Ashley's death pained her, Xander's permanent
absence or death would have destroyed some integral part of herself.
The part that he had made with smiles and laughter and all the things
she usually didn't allow herself to need.
"He'll make things right," Emily stated with quiet, unshakable
conviction once she caught her breath. Once she reaffirmed to
herself that she would be okay just a little while longer. Xander
would make things right eventually because he had sure has hell
never failed her and Emily was a lot more fucked up then Ashley was,
even being dead.
Maggie's trembling voice broke the moment. "Not even Xander can make
Emily and Faith turned towards the younger girl who stood, ramrod
straight and ready to collapse, exhausted and tear streaked. Brandy
stood behind her. "No, you're right Mags," Faith replied, "not even
the X-man can make this right." Emily met Faith's eyes briefly, in
mutual understanding, though the understanding was bitter.
"But Xander can make it equal," Emily finished.
Maggie wiped her the tears and snot off her face with the back of one
arm and stared at them both like they'd grown two heads and Emily
really appreciated what a difference just one or two years could
make. Had she EVER been that young? Would she ever survived on her
own if Xander hadn't been there to whip her into shape?
Brandy's lips twisted suddenly in a knowing smile that was more pain
than pleasure, more knowledge that happiness. "In blood. Our entire
lives are ruled by blood. It's the great equalizer."
Maggie frowned, and frustrated and emotional cried out, "I don't
Faith bounded up the stairs in a heartbeat until she was towering
over the younger girl. She pulled a pocketknife from her back pocket
and flipped it open. Emily could see Maggie's eyes widen as the
brunette Slayer drew the silver blade across the fleshy white of her
arm. As blood welled in a scarlet line from the wound.
"Shit, you know this kid. Its all about blood," Faith breathed into
Maggie's frightened face, "our blood makes us who we are. Gives us
our destinies, our honking package of superhero powers. But it's
bigger than that. Everything bleeds: me, you, vampires, demons-
even if it's not red. Young, old, living and dead, even those who
hunted Ashley down in her home like it was some sort of fucking
sport. They bleed too and Xander will make sure that they do."
Faith smeared the blood across the white of her forearm. "Drop for
fucking drop until they're dead too. Five by five."
As lessons went, it was a little dramatic for Emily's taste but
sometimes some of the girls needed things spelled out a bit more
colorfully. It was why Emily usually got along splendidly with
Faith. All she needed was a few terse words and an ass kicking
to get her head screwed on straight usually.
It apparently did the trick for Maggie though. The younger girl
closed her eyes, visibly steeled her face, and slowly opened her
eyes to meet Faith's intent stare. "Good." That single word was
chill, devoid of any and all emotion.
A crooked smile curved the brunette Slayer's lips. "Good."