If the Shoe Fits
AN: Humm, last chapter was lukewarm, huh? Hope ya'll like this one
better. And yes, it is longer. Two *whole* pages longer.
**************** Trick-Or-Treat: Chapter Seven *******************
If Xander was honest the bullshit story they were feeding him really
wasn't so bad. He was sitting alone in his hospital bed since he had
been given time to "think things over". The "beta-snake," as they
officially called the thing that had crawled down his throat
yesterday, was an advanced prototype of an espionage technique being
employed on the U.S. by foreign enemies abroad. This facility, a
top-secret base within an as yet unnamed mountain in Colorado, had
obtained a specimen of the beta-snake and was trying to counter it.
After crawling down someone's throat the beta-snake served as a
recorder and transmitter, sending information back to whoever
instigated its deployment. Apparently it could enter the body less
intrusively than the throat because most "infected" people never even
knew they were compromised. Xander could see how that could be viewed
as a security problem, especially by military people, but, as almost
plausible as the concept seemed, it was still bullshit.
He had been reeling from agonizing, crippling pain when Ashley
chopped the beta-snake in two Halloween night, but he hadn't been
unconscious yet. Whatever the hell it really was, the beta-snake
wasn't some machine or cyborg. It had been flesh and blood, slimy
icky blood, but blood- and it was definitely not of earth. Or at
least, it wasn't part of what normal people thought constituted
Which freaked Xander out.
Most likely the beta-snake was some kind of demon Xander just hadn't
read about yet, which was entirely possible, but unfortunately that
made wherever the hell he was being held look a LOT more like the
Initiative than he was comfortable with. The second option was that
it wasn't demonic but something new to the Scoobies. And that was
bad, bad, bad because that meant that not only the military was
playing with forces it didn't understand, AGAIN, it was playing with
forces that Scoobies didn't understand either.
During its transportation the beta-snake and the person it had
compromised escaped, leading to Xander's entrance on the scene. The
reason why he had been kidnapped, though Major Carter hadn't phrased
it quite that way, was both for his own good and, quote, "for the
good of America." In all the testing done on the beta-snake, the
best and brightest of the good ol' U. S. of A. hadn't figured out a
way to "immunize" military personnel against this new security
threat. They, the U.S. freaking Air Force, had kidnapped him because
they thought that perhaps he had some sort of natural immunity to the
What they weren't saying was how absolutely desperate they were to
find the answer to their questions. Xander could almost see the
desperation in their faces and he, quite frankly, wanted nothing to
do with it. Mostly because when they couldn't find an easy
scientific explanation the U.S. Air Force were going to start looking
for a more complex one.
Which would lead to painful dissections and little bloody Xander
bits. Especially because no matter how much they looked, they
weren't going to find a scientific explanation. Magic left traces
behind, but not the kind that could be seen with a scalpel and
Which left Xander doubly screwed.
Any good, decent, upstanding American would agree, even with some
trepidation, to stay and allow the Air Force to run some "simple
tests" (another direct quote from the oh so friendly Major Carter).
Especially since the Air Force was willing to talk to his boss and
compensate him monetarily for any time he spent away from work and
other responsibilities. It all sounded terribly important and
reasonable and if Xander hadn't had to battle Adam, he might have
fallen for it hook, line and sinker- even with his Sunnydale
Unfortunately, despite the fact that Xander knew better, knew that
agreeing to stay for some "simple tests" was a very, VERY bad idea,
he also knew how it would look if he did what he really wanted to do-
throw a hissy fit until they magically teleported him back to the
safety of the Booty House and Cleveland's tame by comparison
It would look either like he was a coward, something
Xander could live with, or like he was hiding something.
If SG-1, as he was asked to call the team he had met, hadn't seen the
girls, hadn't seen Ashley cut the beta-snake in half with a sword,
hadn't seen Lindsay stand up to Special Ops trained troops without
backing down, it'd be all right. But SG-1 had talked to his girls
and if the military dug deep enough, past the carefully constructed
lies, then there was a lot more at risk than Xander's own neck.
Xander had spent the last four years of his life raising and training
dozens of girls who would one day become the unsung heroes of this
world. And during that time he had seen what the old Watcher's
Council never had- that, super powers or not, Slayers were still
girls. Still human. Still so afraid of growing up. Especially
when growing up meant having to fight daily to stay alive against
things that went bump in the night.
He would die for the girls he had nurtured through happiness and
heartache. Would lie on a military table and gladly die with
sealed lips before betraying the children, the women, he had
come to respect and admire so much, despite their humanity- because
of their humanity.
And that wasn't even taking Buffy, Giles, Dawnie, and Willow into
Xander sighed, because that was the bottom line. He didn't want to
stay because he was terrified of slipping somehow, of saying too
much, or piquing someone's interest in his supposedly mundane life.
But the risk inherent in walking away was so much greater because his
absence would leave the Air Force with questions he couldn't fill with
Despite all the incredibly moronic things the U.S. government was
responsible for, there were still some incredibly brilliant people
working for it. Thinking for it. Dr. Janet Frasier and Major
Samantha Carter were two such people and something told Xander that
Colonel Jack O'Neill wasn't going to let him leave without asking
some hard questions.
Questions Xander wouldn't risk answering. Couldn't risk being
So he'd stay, like they had asked, for a while. Long enough to
subvert suspicion but hopefully not long enough to start an
apocalypse. He had three weeks to the day before he was due to meet
Willow and Buffy outside the Booty House.
Three weeks to figure out how to cool off the damn frying pan and put
out the metaphorical fire before his two best friends tried to
destroy a mountain on his behalf.
He looked up and managed a wan smile as Major Samantha Carter entered
his room, looking sheepishly apprehensive. He knew they kept pushing
her at him because, aside from Glasses... er, Dr. Jackson, she was
the least visually threatening of the lot of them. So obvious.
Why else was it that every demon who didn't know the Slayer on sight
always tried to kill her first in a big group fight? Because she
looked all soft and cuddly.
"Hi Xander, how are you feeling?"
"Oh, loving the asprin right now, but other than a slight throb and
some aches and pains I'm fine, spiffy even."
She smiled brightly at him. "That's great news. I was, uhh...
wondering if you had thought over our offer anymore? You can still
have some more time if you want but I thought I'd just come by
"Major Carter?" She paused and Xander continued before she could,
"I've thought about it."
Her mouth shut quickly with that news as she waited for him to
continue, expectation warring with desperation in her eyes. "I'll
stay on three conditions."
Oh yeah, she was already mulling over bargaining tactics- Xander
could read it in her face. But she was still playing nice when she
replied, "Well I can't make any promises but let's hear them."
"Okay," Xander held up one finger, "first off, get me in some kind
of clothes, preferably not my pirate costume but really, anything is
better than this damn gown. AND less embarrassing. Second," a new
finger joined the first one, "I'm hungry. Like ravenous eat my own
hand hungry. Food would make me a very, very happy and grateful man.
Third," he ticked off another finger, "I know this is top-secret and
all that but I really need to be able to make some phone calls, during
both today and however long I end up staying. I know they'll have to
be monitored or something but it would... some calls would just be
best coming from me."
It was his turn to look sheepish as he held one last finger up.
"Uhh... I can't count. Last condition I have is that in three weeks
I have an appointment I can't miss. We need to be done with
everything by then."
Major Carter's pretty smile turned into a full-toothed, mega watt
beam. "I believe we'll have no problem accommodating you, Xander."
Liar. "I thought you couldn't promise me anything Major Carter..."
Her grin didn't even dim. Damn, she was good. "I thought you were
going to demand things like gold and my first born child or some
nonsense like that. Clothing, food, a couple phone calls and a
deadline even I have the power to grant."
Be careful what you wish for? Xander winced.
She vanished for a moment and came back into the room nearly skipping
and carrying clothes for him. "Janet, Dr. Frasier, had pulled these
aside for you earlier," she said brightly and dropped the B.D.U.'s
into his lap before closing his bed curtain, giving him privacy to
Xander shook his head as he stared at the uniform in his hands and
suddenly, inexplicably, didn't want to put it on. It represented
too many things, both from the past and concerning the future. It
reminded him of another Halloween that had happened years ago, and of
Riley- of Adam. Of Buffy's tears for another failed relationship and
the beginning of Spike's long journey to redemption. It represented
the next three weeks of his life for sure, but it also seemed to hint
at something more intangible than that.
There was something about the uniform he held that seemed terribly
final and that- that finality- scared him more than the possibility
of operating tables and mad scientists. He had found his place in this
screwed up world, after twenty-five freaking years. Now was NOT the
time to rock the boat.
Despite his misgivings though, Xander slowly, mechanically, put the
Sam blinked when Xander pulled the curtain back. She was used to
seeing civilians dressed in B.D.U.s, she really was, but Xander
didn't look like the usual civilian playing dress up. He looked
like a soldier. She studied him for a moment, noticing the casual
ease at which he held himself at ready, the wariness that had worn
lines around his mouth and eyes... eye.
She remembered his scars, the pain he must have endured, and wanted
to question, to ask. But how did you ask someone, a stranger, if his
eye had been clawed out? Why he sported the remainders of
traumatic wounds from head to toe?
Maybe you didn't. Maybe she couldn't.
She wanted to satisfy her curiosity about this shaggy haired stranger
in their midst, wanted to know the answers to all her questions, but
her job came first. The world, Earth, always came first. She
wouldn't ask about things that held no relevance, not when she had
so many questions about the Goa'uld, and Mr. Alexander Harris's
apparent immunity to them.
The questions she HAD to have answers to were too important.
"So," Sam jumped as he spoke and flushed at being caught
woolgathering, "just to be clear, I am getting like a three week
pass from work with compensation, right? I have bills to pay..."
"Right, sir... Xander. We can call your boss and take care of all
of that. You work for," she paused for a moment and yanked his
report out of her back pocket and flipped a few pages, scanning as
she went, "Billards Lumber, correct?"
He grinned crookedly and ran a pale hand through long black hair
that curled at the ends and fell just at his collar. "Yeah, Mike
Billard. Good guy. You shouldn't have any problems with your kind
That was good to hear. The fewer complications, the better. Which
brought her to... "Your other job... do we need to do anything to
take care of that?"
The smile slipped away from his face in an instant and Sam could
almost see him withdrawing again. "NO, no, that's one of the phone
calls I have to make. Make sure the girls have everything under
Sam wet her lips. "But, won't they need someone to come monitor
them? I mean I'm sure they're all very capable," too capable if Sam
remembered Halloween correctly, "but we can find an adult to go over
and help out until..."
"NO!" She watched in fascination as Xander's Adam Apple bobbed
frantically as he swallowed. "No. They'll be fine. I told them to
call Faith, Faith Summers. She..."
Sam flipped through the report another page. "She runs the other
Home in Cleveland for children who have legally divorced themselves
from their parents."
He was even paler when she looked back up, but managed to nod.
"Right. We're... close colleagues. She'll swing by and make sure
everything runs smoothly until I get back. No need to send anyone
over. Besides, those girls are more than capable of taking care of
Sam thought of Lindsay's steely glare and decided she agreed with
that statement wholeheartedly. Besides, the fewer the complications...
Sam let out a deep breath. "All righty then, just let me make a
quick call and inform my superiors of your decision to remain with
us and I'll take you to your temporary quarters and get you some
Xander gave her the wan smile that was an echo of the one he had
greeted her with and absently rubbed his palms against the sides of
his pants as he nodded in agreement.
"Good, good, just give me a second then. Those clothes fit all right
His smile slipped away again as he softly responded, "Too well."
Jack watched as General Hammond hung up the phone in his office and
met his eyes. "Major Carter just called. Mr. Harris has agreed to
stay here for a few weeks and let our people run some tests, hopefully
make find some answers."
Really? Jack was surprised. He had been dead sure Xander was going
to flee at the first opportunity they gave him because the boy, man,
boy man, whatever, was seriously upset about the whole, stuck in a
top-secret military base thing. Upset in a hyperventilating kind of
way. Not that Jack would have let their newest and brightest hope
for defeating the Goa'uld just go jaunting out the front door of
Cheyenne Mountain without a fight, or at least some nasty words, but
Xander had surprised, pleasantly surprised, him.
It was kind of nice.
"Well, that's good news, sir. I'm sure Frasier and Carter and all
their crew are already planning their fun... tests." Like kids in
a candy store. Jack felt sorry for the poor, gullible civilian.
Jack had been on that side of his people's poking and prodding more
times than he cared to count and, well, he REALLY felt sorry for
Better him than Jack though.
"I would like SG-1 to remain on base unless an emergency comes up.
I know Major Carter, and probably Dr. Jackson, will want to be a
large part of the testing." Oh geeze, Jack hadn't even thought of
Daniel getting involved. Maybe he should send Xander a sympathy
card... "But I'm not going to declare SG-1 on leave. We're still
not sure what we're dealing with here, and there might be
repercussions in relation to Katar's death."
Oh yeah, Jack read the General loud and clear. Low on the Goa'uld
power chart or not, the System Lords always got freaked out when the
good ol' Tau'ri managed to off another one of their number, and the
NID were bound to be pretty testy about not getting their brand new
alien toy to play with in one piece.
"Can do, sir. Is that all?"
General Hammond nodded. "For now, yes. Major Carter is showing Mr.
Harris to his quarters and they'll probably give him the rest of the
day off, let him relax and settle down some. Dismissed, Colonel."
Jack saluted jauntily and headed towards his office. He,
unfortunately, did not have 'fun' tests to run on their newest
guest. Though if those weren't bound to be MORE boring than what he
had planned, he would definitely use them as an excuse. He instead
had a pile of paperwork the size of Cheyenne Mountain
that he had neglected since, well, the last time SG-1 had saved the
Sometimes bureaucracy really sucked.
He grabbed a report from the top of his daunting stack, collapsed
into his office chair, put his feet up, and with a defeated sigh,
began to read.
Jack answered the phone on the twelfth ring, figuring if someone was
willing to try that long it was probably reasonably important, or at
least interesting. That and he was damn tired of paperwork and he
had only been reading for oh, two whole hours. Come on distraction!
"Jack, good to hear from you." Or not.
Jack leaned forward in his office chair and scowled into his cell
phone. He didn't bother asking HOW Maybourne had gotten his number,
and went straight for righteous anger. "What the hell do YOU want?
Shouldn't you be rotting in a prison again by now?"
Maybourne tsked across the line and Jack wished the little toad was
there in person so that he could throttle him. Slimy no good
"Now Jack, is that any way to act to someone who is trying to do you
"If you want to do me a favor you can do..."
"Why Colonel O'Neill, I didn't know you cared!"
Jack gritted his teeth. "Listen you..."
Maybourne's next words stopped him cold. "Jack, I'm calling about your
newest guest, a Mr. Alexander Harris. I believe he goes by Xander."
Jack swallowed his curses and took a deep breath, counting to ten,
twice, before managing to respond. "I won't ask how you know that,
it'll only piss me off and you won't tell me anyway." He could god
damn HEAR Maybourne smiling over the line. "So drop the enigmatic
shit you love so well and just tell me whatever it is you called to
taunt me about."
"Colonel O'Neill, you know that isn't how this works..."
"Harry, if you don't spit it out, I'll have NID in here tracking
you so fast you'll be eating dinner behind bars."
Maybourne's voice was smug when he replied, "They can't track me,
Jack. Got some nifty new technology to block that on cell phone
Jack rolled his eyes. "You can be a real moron sometimes, Harry.
I can hear the slot machines over the line. They'd search for you
in Vegas first but I'm not a betting man and I'd lay my money that
you're in Atlantic City. It won't take them more than a few hours
to reach the same conclusion. Cut the crap and talk to me."
There was a long pause before Maybourne grudgingly replied. "Just
calling to tell you I'd do a little digging when it comes to Mr.
Harris. Sunnydale isn't the only colorful thing in his past."
"Then tell her to hi-ho back to work. I'm talking about serious
digging Jack. And when you find his file and can't access any of the
information call this number and ask for Agent Riley Finn." Jack
paused, but couldn't help himself. He picked up a pencil and wrote
down the number Maybourne gave him.
The line clicked once and went dead.