Odd Team Out
AN: Holy cow, ya'll rock my socks! Talk about feedback for the
last chapter... *bounces* Oh umm, please ignore any and all very
odd responses to your reviews. I'm usually not that weird. Okay,
I am, but I'm tired and didn't feel like trying to be normal.
But, look, shiny new update. Pretty! Shoo, shoo... you go read
and I'll go write some more.
Disclaimer: I own neither Buffy nor Stargate. All rights belong to
their respective owners and I am making no money off this venture.
Just having a hell of a lot of fun.
**************** Trick-Or-Treat: Chapter Eight *****************
The room Major Carter showed him to was spartan but cleaner, and if
he was honest, nicer than his parents' basement. The smell- big
improvement since there was a distinct lack of one. Xander could
definitely crash here for a few weeks. Though the good Major seemed
embarrassed it. "These are standard quarters, Xander," she said,
trying to explain away the severely made twin bed with bare bedside
table, desk, and two lonely chairs. Two black phones sat on the
desk. "We're not trying to punish you or anything."
Not yet, Xander thought with a savage, cynical snort to himself.
Smart ass. Giles had been a saint among mere mortals. Some days,
just some, he could almost see what made Snyder into such an annoying
prick. Mostly when Xander's girls were being especially trying...
"So, umm, what are the rules and guidelines and whatnot? I'm
assuming since there's the whole top-secret thing I'll get the dos
and don'ts run-down, right?"
Major Carter smiled faintly and motioned towards one of the wooden
chairs. Xander sat bonelessly, wincing as he accidentally jarred a
few bruises, and watched with envy as his blonde companion sank
gracefully into hers with a move that wasn't quite Buffy's bright
enthusiasm but which held even less of Faith's deadly sexuality.
Not that Xander was interested in Buffy's enthusiasm or Faith's
sexuality, not anymore, and he really wasn't interested in a U.S.
Air Force Major's unique blend of the two, but after eleven years of
fighting for his life and the world, it was getting easier and easier
to pick up who moved like a warrior. Really, it was strictly
professional. In the not professional way because Xander, fighter
or not, wasn't a Champion by any stretch of the imagination.
He left that up to his supernatural friends.
"Well," Major Carter said, smile growing as Xander blinked and
flushed at his woolgathering, "we'll keep this simple. Don't talk
about the specifics from Halloween. Just keep things vague and easy-
tell them you've agreed to run some tests and will be home in three
weeks, max. That you can call whenever you want and keep in touch if
you think that will keep them from worrying." Yeah, they and Xander
both. "Don't mention your location, Colorado, because there's no
need and this isn't going to be a totally secure line. We're not
asking you to lie, just don't..."
"Spill the beans?"
Major Carter's laugh was light but hearty. It seemed to surprise her
almost as it surprised Xander. Go Xan Man, making the military chick
laugh. Almost as good as getting Oz to crack a grin, or a frown, or
any emotion in general. He missed the werewolf with a sudden pang
and wondered briefly what Oz and Willow would ever say if they met
'Hi, how have you been?'
'Tried to end the world. Rebounded with this bitchy Slayer. Well,
I never thought she was bitchy but everyone else really wanted to
sock her one. But we broke up when she took an assignment in Russia,'
thank god! 'Now I bake chocolate chip cookies and teach a witchcraft
'Good. Still a wolf.'
Oh yeah, lots of emotion that particular reunion would have.
"Yeah," Major Carter said, "pretty much. I'll be on the other phone
listening in, just in case." In case Xander started to spill the
beans. Which was a distinct possibility. Lying, especially to
Lindsay, wasn't his forte. Stupid perceptive girl child.
Xander finally decided to quit stalling and dialed the familiar
number. It didn't even ring once fully before it was answered in a
breathless voice, "Hello? Hello? Xander?"
And damnit, he'd only been away for a day, but he was STILL grinning
like a fool for his girls, his surrogate children. Mommy Xander- how
pathetic. "Hi Lana."
"Xander," his name is whispered with profound relief, making him feel
very proud and terribly important. "Are you okay? Why haven't you
come home yet? When are you coming home? You are coming home,
aren't you? Xander, you have to come back soon..."
"Shhh Lana." She shut up obediently. "Breathe." Major Carter was
wearing a smile nearly as blinding as his own as Lana sucked in a
deep breath of air and expelled, obviously used to being forced into
this exercise. "Count to five." Her southern voice complied.
"Think of endless blue skies," Xander instructed gently as he gave
her a second to visualize. "Are you calmer now?"
She was sheepish as she answered, sheepish and very, VERY happy to
have Xander back, if only vicariously. "Yes." One syllable.
Another difficult victory won.
"Good girl. Can you please put Lindsay on the phone?" He could
sense her reluctance but he's trained them too well to doubt she'll
do as she's told. Not with something this important anyway.
"Hey girlie. Still wanting that CD for your birthday?"
And he must be REALLY pathetic because Mommy Xander's wittle heart
just swelled to hear the tears of relief in her wavering voice. "Oh
Xan, you're really okay, aren't you?"
He gentled his tone, let it warm, as he responded. "You know me
Linds. I always bounce back on my feet..."
"Just not always with perfect depth-perception," she said with a
choked laugh, finishing out the tired joke that went back years in
the Booty House. It was Xander's standard line whenever he got a
bit battered in the daily fight against monsters, demons, and the
forces of darkness.
There was a heartbeat of silence before, "When are you coming home?"
Xander replied promptly, without any of the hesitation he STILL
felt over the situation. The girls would worry about him enough
while he was gone. He sure as hell wasn't going to add to their
worry by admitting his own. "Three weeks."
"That's... that's a long time."
And bless her Slayer heart- she didn't dare question. Not when she
knew that someone was probably listening in. Xander choked back a
bitter chuckle and glanced over to the other chair, which was
currently occupied by a shamelessly eavesdropping Air Force Major.
Tactile stealth at its best, oh yes siree. Some days, when he wasn't
curled up in a ball of terror, Xander really pitied the U.S.
"How are the girls?" he asked, subtly, okay NOT so subtly, changing
Lindsay groaned. "They're holy terrors. How do you put up with us?"
Xander laughed triumphantly. "Yes! Shared misery! Let me give you
one piece of advice Linds- aspirin. Lots and LOTS of aspirin. But
seriously, obnoxious preteen girl stereotypes aside, is everyone
doing their chores? Did Maggie remember she had an English paper to
write this weekend? Valerie was supposed to start her science
"And Dillan is banned from letting Andrew watch anymore Queer Eye
for the Straight Guy when he visits. I know, I know!"
"Can only watch an hour of TV a night until she pulls her Math grade
up to a C+."
"Aww... I'll make a grown-up out of you yet Linds!" She groaned
dramatically. "Speaking of grown-ups, and people who aren't one,
did you call Faith?" Okay, okay, he really kinda thought Faith was
cool now. Xander still didn't LIKE her. But, they had history.
And she was great with the kids, even though she scared the shit out
of them. It was probably sick that he respected her for inspiring
God knew that he was always trying to scare some sense into Ashley,
who was just completely nuts, in an adorable, 'aren't I a pixie with
sharp weapons?' sort of way.
"Yup, called, visited, we're good. I called Dawn, per Faith's
agreement. She's going to play Mother Hen while you're gone."
Smart-ass kid. Good choice though. Dawnie wouldn't loose her head
and start chopping, or blowing them off, other people. Unlike
certain best friends he knew. Plus, it was probably good to have at
least one person who was old enough to drive hanging around the house
Xander loved the girls, he really did, but even with his levelheaded
second in command in charge, Lindsay still wasn't old enough to pull rank
on them if they all decided to gang up on her. Especially if they
started a pranks war like they did that time two years ago when a
Vampire had nearly sucked him high and dry. Even Xander had had
trouble stopping underwear from finding its way into the freezer
while he was recovering. Once he was feeling up to sparring though,
the pranks stopped. Even the most die-hard of practical jokers had
to sleep and he had had them working out about twenty hours a day.
Yup, Lindsay SO wasn't up to that. Dawn, despite her good girl
façade, had grown up with Buffy. Well, sorta. But she definitely
had the memories of growing up with Buffy. Of surviving having
Buffy as an older sister. Not even Rebekkah, Booty House's current
Prank Queen, would stand a chance.
"Really great idea Lindsay, good job." He could feel her beaming
through the phone, definitely with one of her rare mega-watt smiles-
the only one that showed her overbite in the back. "But I want it
understood that you're still in charge." In charge of all the
supernatural crap that Xander couldn't talk about on the nice
The smile died in her voice and was replaced by something entirely
more somber. More fitting to shoulder breaking responsibility.
"Yes, sir," she said softly.
Oh, god, don't let any of them die when he was gone. Not only would
it break Xander's heart- it would break Lindsay's as well.
"Nothing fancy, you understand?" he commanded through a suddenly
constricted throat. "Just... stick to the basics. Don't try to be
Superwoman, okay?" Don't get yourselves killed...
Lindsay's voice was small and afraid suddenly, just a fourteen girl
facing unspeakable terror. "I understand."
The Powers to Be were some sadistic sons of bitches.
Xander was tired but determined when he said, "All right Linds, I
gotta go for now but I'll call and check in every couple of days.
Can you please put Francine on before you hang up?"
There was muted mutterings on the other end of the phone, and some
not so muted shouting, before Francine's timid voice came on.
"Hi sweetie, how are you?"
She was almost thirteen, older than a lot of the girls that came to
him, but younger in so many ways. "Fine. Did you want to talk to me
about... you know what?" The last was asked in a hushed whisper that
made him grin madly once more.
Samantha Carter raised a single gold brow at Xander from across their
shared desk but he ignored her. Funny that this was the first time
the good Major sensed something nefarious in his conversation,
especially considering the actual subject Francine was referring
"You betcha Francy. You gonna be all ready?"
She sounded vaguely affronted, despite her natural shyness. "Of
course! Its tradition."
He chuckled. "And a wonderful one at that. I'll look over things
when I get back. I gotta go now though because I am starving and I
was promised food. You take care munchkin, I'll be doing a finger
and toes check when I get back, make sure you're all there, you
Francine giggled. It would have been a hell of a lot funny if Xander
hadn't been deadly serious in his own right. "I hear. Bye Xander,
we miss you."
He hung up before he could change his mind and whispered, "I miss you
"So, Carter, how's our guest settling in?"
She shrugged gracefully as his team settled in around his office,
with Sam and Teal'c in chairs and Daniel perched on the edge of his
desk which was STILL cluttered with paperwork. Not that Jack was
really in the mood for it. Not after Maybourne's little call. "He
seems fine. Kinda jumpy but he calmed down after he called his house
and I brought him some dinner."
"And the house call was...?" Jack fished, looking for some reason,
any logical reason, as to why a convicted felon had thought that
Xander Harris was important enough to risk his own hide in calling
Jack. Not that Maybourne ever made much sense but still...
"It was normal. Cute."
"Cute?" Daniel demanded out of curiosity, or sheer determination to
annoy the ever living hell out of Jack, he had yet to really decide.
Carter laughed. "Yeah, with the girls he takes care of. I hadn't
thought about it really, Xander being in charge of that kind of
establishment, but he was checking up on their homework and chores
and everything. Very domestic."
What kind of twenty-five year old wanted to tie himself down with
that much responsibility? Seriously, Xander wasn't much older than
the kids he was raising. It wouldn't have been Jack's career job of
choice, that was for sure, but then, Jack wasn't a one-eyed carpenter
with painful looking scars and the interest of rogue NID members.
Jack had it timed down to the second when Teal'c lifted a single
brow a fraction of an inch. Score one for the Colonel!
"What was the nature of Harry Maybourne's phone call, O'Neill?"
He scowled, unhappy with the answer. "Xander. He called about
He almost, ALMOST had it timed to the second when Carter and Daniel
surged out of their seats in perfect, outraged unison, their voices
combined into a babble of confusion and dismay. It was Teal'c next
question that cut through the dramatics though, and let Jack just
get on with the story.
"What did Harry Maybourne say in regards to Xander Harris?"
Jack grimly met each of his teammate's eyes before answering. "That
he was involved in something buried so deep it didn't show up on
Carter's background check."
Daniel spluttered. "Is... is that even possible?"
Jack cocked his head and studied his 2IC. "I dunno," he drawled,
"Major, is that possible?"
Carter furrowed her brows as she thought furiously. "I... I didn't
think so, sir. But theoretically..." oh crap, the big words were
about to start, "theoretically I can see how someone would be able
to disguise data they didn't want viewed. If they managed to
She paused for an instant and shot him an unrepentant grin before
getting to the point, "I'd have to do another background check to
test out the theory you have absolutely no interest in me explaining,
but if Xander was involved in anything, any program at all, even just
mentioned, he'd show up if I expand my search to encompass any new
"The information, if it exists, will be there, sir. I'll just have
to look a little harder."
Hi ho, hi ho indeed.
Jack nodded brusquely. "Then do it. We need to know exactly what's
going on because right now, I'm feeling left out and I don't like
Not one frigging bit.