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Of Family And Q series

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Summary: A What If challenge by Shadowmage7 - what if Q had another son? Chapter 1 Re-edited (AN's removed)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Star Trek > Other/GeneralAnimeRoninFR18453,88393921,16112 Apr 0514 Jul 07No

Of Family And Q2 - chapters 1 - 3

Of Family And Q 2: Back to School

Author: Anime Ronin

Rating: PG-13 to R for swearing and situations.

Disclaimer: I own either BTVS or Star Trek, but I do own several new characters that I will be introducing to keep X sane in his new 'school'.

Summary: Bombshells are dropped and Alexander Q. Harris returns to school … only of a different sort.

Pairings: X/F (eventually), X/Wendy/B'eth friendship, X/7 friendship

Feedback: As it is said, it is the coin of the realm.

AN: Continuation of 'Of Family And Q', where Xander's true parentage is revealed. He will be pulling 'Butch' for this entire story except for in true 'oh s&t' instances, but for the record, this story will cover about four years in leaps and bounds.

AN2: Cast of New Characters – Wendy Michaels – Allyson Hannigan, B'eth De'lan – Eliza Dushku, Richard Maxwell – Matt Damon. Others will be added as needed.

AN3: I know that setting up a new planet and altering history may seem like a good idea, but when you make up something like a war-torn planet, there will be consequences – this will in fact be a test for Xander by his father to see how well he thinks on his feet, so no questions, please.

Chapter 1

"Let me make sure I have this absolutely clear, dad," Alexander 'Xander' Harris said to the cosmic being known as Q, of the Q Continuum, even as his body began to regress to a younger state. "I am going to be joining Starfleet under an assumed name, sans powers, just so that I can get a unique view of just how the universe works?"

"Basically? Yes."

"And I get to bring only a few things with that are supposed to be from a planet that, before ten seconds ago, didn't exist … ever?"

"Yes."

Xander sighed, even as he flashed his clothes and belongings next to him inside of a Q-like duffle bag that had infinite storage capacity, then flashed the clothes he was wearing into the military BDUs that Soldier Boy felt comfortable in, only there was no rank on them and they were all black (the beret was also black, with the sigil of the United States Special Forces Command on it stating 'De Oppresso Liber', 'to free the oppressed', tucked under his left shoulder seam). "Why do I get the feeling that this is all going to blow up into our faces?"

"Because you are a cynic from past associations with the Hellmouth, son. Besides, your Aunt Kathy won't even know you are there unless you tell her, so she won't be able to call you on it anyway." Q patted his son on the shoulder even as they flashed into the future and were parked right outside of Starfleet Academy, "Now, what is your cover story?"

"Alexander Q. Harris, 18 years old, from Demons VI in the Boca Del Inferno system, first year student to the Academy and I am currently Undeclared as to my choice in Starfleet classification. My parents are both dead from a decades-long planetary war that has ended recently, which I too have also fought and killed in, which will also explain the scars and obvious military-style clothing I currently wear. I have no siblings and my planet is only accessible by way of direct contact because comms are dicey at best due to the highly ionized atmospheric conditions that exist on the D6. I am a trained combat soldier who has no qualms about killing the enemy with any and all means necessary and available, I have lost many friends and acquaintances along the way, which has made me more than a little jaded and cynical about diplomacy, and I could care less about being here but am here because of the fact that I had no and still have no say in the matter."

"Excellent, son," Q beamed proudly, as if pulling off this lie was going to be one for the record books. "Now, try to play nice with the mortals, keep your identity as secret as possible and know that if you need to talk, just whistle." Q patted him on the shoulders again and then winked out of existence as several people passed around Alex, leaving him alone in the future under an assumed name, from a fake planet in an equally fake system all for the sake of learning.

"Maybe I won't have to blow up this school like I did the last one." Grabbing his duffle and the guitar case he'd brought along, as he had learned guitar the Q way in the previous month, along with piano, typing and essential computer skills because of the need to survive in the Star Trek world, he walked into the Administration Building of Starfleet Academy like someone was shouting, 'DEAD MAN WALKING!'

Xander looked around the room he had been assigned to share with someone, an Upperclassman, and repressed a sigh of relief; nobody had caught on to the lie yet, thankfully, but seeing as Q had assured him that nothing could possibly go wrong, Xander, due to his living on the Hellmouth through his formative years, automatically assumed that everything would.

The room was a standard room of about ten feet wide by twelve feet long with a bunk bed, two computer terminals, two closets, a sonic shower unit and a bathroom, but very little else. His roommate was shown to be a third-year Medical student named Richard Maxwell from Boston on Earth and, just by looking at him, was going to be a real pain in the ass with the superior smirk on his face and his pretty boy looks, "So, you're the new kid they stuck me with?" Richard looked him up and down before snorting, "Man, they made a mistake letting you in here."

"Look, asshole," Xander snapped out immediately, not liking his roomie one bit from the get go, "I am here to learn, to be a Starfleet officer, but mostly to get away from that hellhole of a war zone my people call a planet, so back off and there won't be any problems." It was hard to believe how easy it was to lie like that, but it wasn't too hard with how angry Xander was getting.

"And what planet is that?"

"Demons VI in the Boca Del Inferno system, Dick." Xander forced himself to remain angry even as Richard's face paled in recognition of some kind; apparently Q had set up an entire background on the place and made it known to many, "I take from the look on your face that you've heard of it."

"Who hasn't? You really survived that place?"

Xander let an old mask slip over his eyes and felt the light fade out of them, leaving them with a dead look called The Stare, "Are you sure you want an answer to that?" His voice was dead, emotionless, and made Richard quake slightly and pale further. Internally, though, Xander was howling in laughter at the sight of his new roommate doing is best not to crap his pants, "So, which bunk is yours?"

The comms system buzzed and Richard answered it, looking glad that he had a chance to keep his mind off of his new roommate, "Yes?"

The visage of Admiral Katherine Janeway appeared on the comms screen in front of him, looking slightly confused, "Is Alex Q. Harris there, by any chance, cadet?"

"Yes, Admiral, he just got here a few minutes ago."

"Send him my way, Cadet."

"Yes, Ma'am," he nodded to her as the comms shut down. Turning to look at 'Alex', he frowned, "What did you do to get Admiral Janeway on your case already?

Xander shrugged, "Knowing me? I've probably broken every rule in the book by just breathing and dressing like this." Richard saw the dark and obviously military-designed clothing he wore and figured that it was a safe bet. "Where is she?"

Richard gave him directions and Xander left immediately, walking briskly along the corridors of the dormitory towards the offices of the ranking staff, drawing only occasional looks because of either his clothing or possibly military bearing. It took him only a few moments to get to his destination, but then he realized that he had no idea how to ring the proverbial doorbell, so he just pounded the pines, as it were, and got a loud, "Come," in response.

Xander walked into the office and saw his Aunt Kathy, Admiral Janeway, sitting in her chair behind a desk, holding a cup of coffee. He walked forwards, stopped in front of her desk and stood at attention, more out of instinct than anything, "You wished to see me, Admiral?"

"For the record, it's the button at the bottom of the pad next to the door," she advised him dryly with a slight grin before indicating for him to sit down with her coffee cup.

Remaining standing, he nodded, "Thank you, Admiral, and I'll remember that."

"I expect you would, Alexander. Now, I must ask, have we ever met before? You look remarkably like a young man I met on my way back from the Delta Quadrant on Voyager some years ago."

"I do not remember ever being to the Delta Quadrant, ma'am, and if it were a few years ago, I was probably hip-deep in blood and rubble in what would be one of the last large battles on Demons VI."

"Which is part of what I wanted to talk to you about, Alexander. You have seen combat and have killed – so tell me why you want to be a Starfleet Officer instead of a Marine."

"Ma'am, I personally believe that one should have all of the skills necessary to end a … situation in the weapon you hold in your hands, but that reason, along with several others, are the main reasons that the wars on my planet lasted for as long as they have; if I become an officer and learn to at least try and be diplomatic, then perhaps others on my world will follow that lead and it will all work out for the best."

"Yet you still wear military clothing despite wanting to be an officer."

"I am more comfortable in these BDUs then I am in your down-time clothing, ma'am; nothing personal, but the late twentieth and early twenty-first century clothing that used to be on Earth is more comfortable to me than those one-piece things I was assigned to wear." That in and of itself was a bald face lie - he preferred jeans and a t-shirt to BDUs, but he'd have to make sacrifices.

Janeway smiled, "You're not the first to say such things, Mister Harris. I would ask, however, that you not wear your beret with your ensemble; it has obvious military connotations and that is not an image that Starfleet wishes to project."

"Despite the fact that you are a military institution with vessels of both war and research in the same ship? That you train shock troops in the arts of stealth and covert operations under the guise of security training, telepaths to access or block memories with impunity and even have your own dark secrets locked away in Section 31?"

"Precisely. It appears that you know the score on some of the … darker aspects of Starfleet, but I assure you that we do not use those resources lightly, in fact I would prefer it if we never used them at all."

"Ma'am, I'm a soldier, so I can understand and appreciate the arguments for and against what you are saying, so let's leave this debate for when I take political science and strategic thinking classes, shall we?"

"We shall. Now, I have called you down here because the computer has decided to make me your mentor for this semester – that means that I will be helping acquaint you with your classes and some of the technology you will be coming across here, but also I will be making progress reports to Starfleet about you, your grades and your interactions with the students here. I trust that you will not be having any troubles?"

"None for the foreseeable future, Admiral, but for the record, I am a light sleeper and I sometimes react violently when startled or attacked – don't be surprised that if the latter of the two happen, someone other than me will end up in the medical facilities."

"I understand completely, but I ask that you refrain from doing such things. Now, to acquaint you with Starfleet technology that you will be running across every day, I have set up a tutor for you and several other students whom have not grown up with it as many of the cadets here have. Meet me here at 0700 hours tomorrow morning and we'll get you to class. Any questions so far?"

"Just one, ma'am – what day is it?"

AN: I know this paints X as a more militant individual, but remember what his cover story is – he's just trying to fit in with it.

As it turned out, Admiral Janeway had told several others to meet up at her office door at 0700 hours the next morning; not needing any real sleep, Xander was awake and ready to go by 0600, so he amused himself by playing his guitar for a little while before humping it double-time over to her office. The first young woman was obviously part Vulcan due to her pointed ears, but her skin was somewhat pale, hair was dark as coal and her eyes were the most curious shade of green he had ever seen – quite frankly she looked just like Willow but with dark hair and pointed ears. The second young woman was obviously part Klingon from the ridges on her brow and nose, and it was a little hard for him not see her as a vampire due to said ridges; her hair and eyes were dark and her skin was very nice with just a hint of light tan, in it, making it slightly dusky. Both were taller than most of the females he had seen, easily five feet seven inches at least, and while both were slim, they held a muscular set that made him wonder just what they did to work out.

The other person there was familiar to him; he'd seen her on the bridge of Voyager when he and Butch showed up quickly, and she was currently dressed in a Starfleet uniform with Lieutenant's pips and yellow markings that signified ops or security – her hair was blonde as a wheat field and up in a bun, her eyes blue like sapphires and skin like cream. In short, she was a goddess among women and Xander was sure that, had his heart not already belonged to another woman, that he would have had to try his luck with her, "Ladies."

They all looked at him, the two younger ones with something that approached suspicion but the third with a look of near-recognition, but they all nodded at him as the Admiral walked up in her uniform, "Thank you for meeting here, cadets, Seven. Follow me, please." She led them through a small rabbit's maze of buildings, corridors and tunnels until they reached a room that was sealed with heavy doors, "Now, I am sure you are wondering what you are doing here, cadets, and I shall explain. This is Lieutenant Anika Henson, and she will be teaching you the basics of Starfleet technology while I observe. Seven, this is Wendy Michaels of Vulcan Prime, B'eth De'lan of the Dryad system, and Alex Harris of Demons VI." All three women flinched at the name and Xander briefly wondered just what Q had put down with the planet.

They entered the room and quickly got situated at different terminals while the Admiral and Lt. Henson, whom Aunt Kathy had referred to as 'Seven', "You may begin after I have a quick word with Mister Harris." She proceeded to drag Xander across the room and spoke in a hushed tone, "Where is your father, Alexander? Is this some kind of sick game of his?"

Xander, for his part, had the good graces to look sheepish, "No, Aunt Kathy, it is not; he wants me to understand as much as I can HUMANLY understand about this universe before I start mucking about in it – what better place to learn about the universe as a human than Starfleet? I assure you that my powers are repressed for the most part and I am here to learn; there are no tricks, no charades, only as much truth as you can handle right now."

She looked only slightly relieved, "And the back story of Demons VI? Also fictional?"

Xander shrugged, "You'd have to ask him, Aunt Kathy. From the looks on your faces, thought, I presume that it is pretty bad."

Aunt Kathy looked at him with no small amount of shock, "You haven't looked it up?"

Xander snarled slightly, "No, because that over-developed pocket calculator in my room keeps buzzing at me and saying Access Denied."

Aunt Kathy smiled, "The replicators do the same thing to me, Alex. Now, go and learn how to use the computers."

The class went fairly quickly as far as it went; Lt. Henson explained things in cool, clipped tones that expressed that nothing less than excellence would be accepted out of the three of them. Wendy, the Willow look-alike, was the first to get things rolling, letting out an very un-Vulcan-like squeal of happiness when the terminal didn't beep at her, as if saying, WRONG! B'eth, the half-Klingon, seemed to be getting by well enough with only one or two snarled comments about the programmer's parentage and sexual preferences, but Xander found himself neck deep in trouble as soon as he pressed the first key; vile, scathing oaths were directed not only at the computer, but the programmer, the builder and the originator of the design of the terminal – Wendy frequently blushed a deep green color (AN: Vulcans have green blood, not red), Lt. Henson arched her eyebrow every few seconds and B'eth looked to be filing several of the oaths away for later use.

Finally, Xander had enough, "Listen to me you little piece of garbage, either you start working NOW or I start re-programming you from the inside out with a dull axe and more than a few electro-magnets. Savvy?" The computer seemed to hesitate for a moment before complying with the request to access the historical databases of the known worlds and systems.

Lt. Henson looked at him with something approaching a smile on her lips, "Is the problem rectified, Cadet Harris?"

"I believe so, Lieutenant Henson; for the computer's sake, it had better be." He glared darkly at the terminal, but didn't miss the pair of snickers from the two female cadets or the smile that the Lieutenant gave him.

"Good, now for something that Admiral Janeway has asked me to call 'Getting To Know You' time. All I ask is that you, Mister Harris, try and keep your answers as … mild … as possible."

His lips twisted into a smirk as he quipped, "Sans blood, guts, swearing and body counts?"

"Exactly."

"Alright, I grew up on Demons VI in the middle of a war zone, had as normal of a childhood as I could until I was fifteen, I play guitar and piano and like to work with my hands to build things."

Wendy looked at him oddly, "Anybody else at home you want to tell us about?"

"They're all dead." If one looked at it the right way, that was true.

B'eth smiled, "You must be a great warrior, then."

"No, I survived by being the nastiest piece of work in the game; I lied, I double-crossed temporary allies of convenience to save my own hide, I assassinated key people and I even have been known to just flat-out run from any situation that I deemed too hot. I'm not a coward or a fool, I am a survivor." The sad part of the entire semi-speech is that most of it was true. "They all died meaningless deaths in a war that would be won at the negotiating table – much like many wars are." His tone was bitter, even a trifle bit over-done with the bitterness, but it worked.

Lt. Henson decided that it was time to move on, "Cadet Michaels?"

"Mom and dad are both one quarter Vulcan, so I'm half while my twin sister is completely human; mom and Jenny, my sister, died a few years back in the Borg invasion, and dad is an officer on the Reliant, so here I am. I like to paint and sing, though I'm not good at either, and I also despise jokes about my ears." She blushed lightly, covering her ears with her hair, "Kids always made fun of me in school because of them, so I've heard just about every joke in the book about them."

"I think they are one of your more defining features," Xander chipped in almost semi-helpfully, remembering when Willow had felt the same way about her hair that he had done the same thing back then.

"They are nice." B'eth managed to say doing her best, it appeared, to be nice.

Wendy smiled brightly, "Thanks, guys. Oh, and I act more like a human than a Vulcan, so don't be surprised."

"Cadet De'lan?"

"I grew up in the Dryad System with my great uncle after my parents were killed in battle against the Gem'hadar and I prefer to fight rather than to think diplomatically." She crossed her arms petulantly, as if she didn't like that fact, and looked absolutely adorable because of it. "Battles should be one with battle and skill, the true measures of a warrior."

"Skill is not winning battles with the blade, it is winning them without having to fight." Xander paraphrased with a slightly bitter tone, "I was taught that as a child even though my people do not practice it."

"And which idiot said that?"

"A great thinker named Sun Tzu here on earth over two thousand years ago – his stratagems were used to create the game of chess and are still used to this day. Read a book called The Art of War and you will become more … enlightened… in the ways of war and peace." Lt. Henson said succinctly before looking at Xander, "Your people know of Sun Tzu?"

"After the fact, yes. Before the war my … clan, for want of a better term, were scholars in the arts, and happened upon a copy of it. Interesting reading, very practical, but in an age of particle beam weapons and transporters, most of them no longer apply. Now, as we have gotten to know one another, how about yourself, ma'am?"

She narrowed her eyes at him and he gave her a winning smile, which made both Wendy and B'eth chuckle even as Lt. Henson blushed lightly, "Very well – I was assimilated into the Borg Collective when I was a child and was freed by then-Captain Janeway in the Delta Quadrant from being the Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero, or basically one of the right-hands of the Borg Queen herself. I eventually had most of my cybernetic implants removed, which allowed me to 'feel', and I am still learning how to do so." She looked back at him and cocked her head to one side, "You play the guitar and piano?"

"Yes, ma'am, I do – figured it would help me work on my finger mobility and dexterity." Actually, he had learned them on a dare from Faith and then Dawn when there was a definite lack of things to watch from the video store and on the television.

"Classical?"

"Some, but I prefer the music of Earth from the Twentieth and Twenty First centuries – they have more of a … primal beat to them, and they are what I started learning on." He blamed it completely on Oz, the Zen-like rock-and-roll werewolf, and would deny it to his dying day if someone said it was the 'Puppy-dog Eyes' that he had taught to Dawn years before, even if it were true.

"Your people have records from Earth's past?"

"Well, we did before the war started – if they still exist now, that's anyone's guess."

They went back and forth over little details about one another, Xander learning that his Willow look-alike, Wendy, was also scared of spiders, B'eth despised Klingon opera because of the fact that she was not allowed to listen to it as a child, Anika liked strawberries and they learned that he was, before the war, something of a jokester/comedian, which brought three raised eyebrows and a 'fascinating' from Wendy.

"Now," Anika said after a while, "back to work."

Chapter 2
The last strains of Metallica's 'Nothing Else Matters' echoed from within the holodeck, where Wendy and B'eth, his two best cadet friends within Starfleet, had drug him after a particularly grueling exo-biology class that afternoon – they had no classes after that one, and he had lost a bet to them about who had made the best scores on a recent exam, so he played and they listened.

"Remarkable," Wendy said softly as he put down the guitar and flexed his fingers. "Such expression in a song from nearly four centuries ago, it's … remarkable."

"I believe you have said that before," B'eth said with a wry twist to her lips, making her look more like Faith than she normally did – it had taken him nearly a week to place the face and even then it wasn't the same, as his Faith had a Boston accent and this one didn't. "Still, it is good to know that there is a touch of artist within ancient humans."

He was quiet, the meaning of the song, not to mention the rhythm of it still echoing within his skull – so close, not matter how far; couldn't be much more from the heart; forever trusting who we are; and nothing else matters. I never opened myself this way; life is ours, we live it our way; those were words that Faith had lived by more than once in her life and he could see how it was so easy for her to lose her way and her trust in people at times, "It's a good song with a message – I guess that's why the band lasted for over thirty years."

B'eth looked at him and smiled, "Tell me, Ale … Xander," she caught herself, remembering that he didn't like his full name. "Have you decided on what your major is going to be?"

He nodded, "Sort of – either engineering or ops. You?"

B'eth smiled, "Tactical."

Wendy squeaked and hopped up and down in her chair, smiling from ear to ear, "I got accepted into the Medical Program earlier today! I am SO the Vulcan." Wendy was so much like Willow it was scary.

"Don't you mean half-Vulcan?" Wendy stuck her tounge out at him even as B'eth began to snicker and the doors to the holodeck opened to reveal Lt. Hansen, "Ah, LT, good to see you made it."

Anika, as she asked to be called out of class, smiled as she walked in, tapping on a PADD she had in hand, "You lost a bet, Mister Harris, and when a bet is lost, all debts must be paid." She handed over the PADD and he sighed, "Your thumb, if you please?"

Even as he pressed his thumb to the rectangle provided, he still wasn't sure how he had been conned into making the wager that if Wendy got the highest score, he'd serve under Anika as her personal assistant, "When I find out how you three rigged this, I will get even."

"Shut up and play, human." B'eth snarked even as he picked up his guitar again.

"Any requests?" Truth be told, he should have known better as when all three of the ladies got together, they all listened to one song over and over and OVER again – another Metallica hit, One. Anika liked it because of the fact that she said that the song was so complex, B'eth liked it for several reasons, not least of which was that she could easily remember the words and sing along, and Wendy seemed to like the song for it's somewhat anti-war vibe, though he was sure that she was just humoring them all – he personally didn't like the song as it brought up too many old and unpleasant memories of Soldier Boy.

"Something softer this time," Anika chipped in with a little smile, surprising him. "I do believe the title is 'Knocking On Heaven's Door'."

He looked at her oddly, "You listen to Guns N Roses? Why LT, I'm shocked, no, really, I am." Once she had been turned on to the old school kind of rock and metal, Anika seemed to be hooked for some odd reason.

She merely glared at him as the computer provided the background base, drums and guitars while he played a riff on his own – most of the songs he knew by heart from his childhood or his now-perfect memory as Q, but some of the more obscure ones he still had to look at the sheet music for. Fate, however, didn't allow for him to get much further as the Comms system chimed and called for him, "Yes?"

"This is Admiral Janeway, Alexander – I need to see you in my office immediately." He blanched, knowing that Aunt Kathy would not do something like this if there were not a good reason, and dropped hi guitar, excusing himself as he ran to the door, taking note of the worried looks on the faces of his friends. Fortunately for him, Aunt Kathy's office wasn't that far from where he had been, so in under five minutes he was at her door, tapping the door panel and entering.

"You called, Admiral Janeway?" Aunt Kathy was sitting at her desk and in the twin chairs before here were two people that looked vaguely familiar – one was the Vulcan male he had seen on the Bridge of Voyager and the other … just looked familiar, though both wore the rank of Lt. Commander and were in yellow-shouldered uniforms.

"Alexander, I'd like you to meet Lt. Commander Tuvok, Chief of Security training here at the Academy and Lt. Commander Reginald Barkley. I have called you here to meet with them on a situation that concerns me."

"Sirs?"

Tuvok took the lead, standing and handing over a PADD, which held several graphics and scrolling print, "These readings were picked up over the main continent of Demons 5, the planetoid approximately one million kilometers closer to your System's sun than your own. As your own planet has electromagnetic disturbances due to the elemental and magnetic differences in the crust, I would like to know your opinion as to what is going on."

Xander, since figure out how to work the computers and not get buzzed at, had researched everything on his new home planet and had sat back on his haunches on just how detailed and graphic his father had made it – wars spanning entire centuries, weapons that rivaled nuclear bombs, body counts in the billions, and all of this spread over seven continents that vaguely resembled plateaus of rock covered in dense jungles, deserts, mountains and vast grasslands. He himself was considered something of a living legend in some parts, but he attributed that to some creative thinking on his father's part and left it alone, and went on to the geological surveys made by Starfleet and the Federation on his planet – Demons 6 was basically a powder keg of elements that had been put together in just the right amounts and areas to completely screw with the electromagnetic particles in the air that caused hellacious thunderstorms and made it almost impossible for most non-military-grade communications to exist, and those same elements were in the makeup of it's closest planetoid, Demons 5. "Well, sir, if I am reading this correctly, you're worried about a massive influx of energy that could continue to build and possibly detonate volatile gasses in the crust of D5, correct?"

Lt. Commander Barkley took up at that point, "That's right, though in the past it has shown that massive storms have erupted before that comes around. If there was some way to … harness this electrical output safely then perhaps we could do so on your own planet, Cadet Harris."

"Permission to speak freely, Admiral." She nodded and he sighed, "Rule one – never mess with Mother Nature, sirs. IF, and this is a big if, you could do it, what would you use the energy for, sirs? Where would you store it? Even if you DID manage to pull it off, you'd have most of the people on Demons 6 fighting you tooth and claw to get their hands on that power, namely because it is a natural resource that they would never be able to get their hands on." He stopped and looked at the Admiral, who was wearing a huge smile on her face, "This was a test, wasn't it."

"Guilty as charged, Cadet – there is no build up of energy in the crust of Demons 5, or any other planetoid in your solar system. All this was meant to do is to place you in the correct professional path of Starfleet." She looked over at Lt. Commander Barkley, who was smiling nervously, "Treat him well, Reg, because I have a vested interest in his education."

"Yes, Admiral. Cadet, if you'll come with me." Xander drew to attention and followed the Lt. Commander Barkley out of the room as the Admiral and Tuvok began to chat amicably about the test that had been run, "I hope you don't mind us doing this, Cadet, but we needed to see how you work under pressure."

"I eat pressure for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sir." A little bit of bravado never hurt anybody, did it?

Lt. Commander Barkley chuckled at that, "Good to hear, because with your teachers, you'll need it. Commander Geordi LaForge and Lt. Commander B'elana Torres are two of the best Starfleet has to offer and for some reason, Admiral Janeway seems to think that you'd benefit from their tutelage."

Xander winced, "Sir, I'm still a first semester Freshman – I don't have any advanced courses until a year from now."

"We re-evaluated your test score and you've shown that you can handle a little extra work, Cadet."

"I lost a bet, sir – I am currently Lt. Hansen's Personal Assistant for the next six months."

That stopped the Lt. Commander and he arched an eyebrow, "You are Seven's PA? HA! I win."

Xander arched an eyebrow, "Um, sir? What are you talking about?"

"Scuttlebutt's been that Seven, I mean, Lt Hansen, has gotten someone as her PA and he's a Freshman – the general bet has been on who it was and I went out on a limb and bet on you."

Xander blinked, "Uh, sir, do I need to be worried that the Brass of the Academy has nothing else better to do than to place wagers on who gets to be who's PA?"

Lt. Barkley merely chuckled at that and resumed walking.

Later that evening
He hurt everywhere despite the fact that he had been sitting inside of a padded seat for most of the afternoon and evening – legs, arms, back, feet, fingers, hell, even his hair hurt from the amount of tossing around he had been put through in the simulator. While Commander LaForge was not on Earth at the time, Lt. Commander Torres was and she had been in a particularly bad mood that day, or he hoped she had been – she'd run him through the wringer and he knew that were it not for what he truly was, he'd not be getting out of bed the next morning.

Of course that was when the chime of his shared door went off and he knew that it wasn't his roommate, as he often was up all day and all night studying or with his lady friends, "Yeah?" The door opened to reveal the worried face of Wendy and B'eth not far behind her, but he was rather surprised to see Anika/Seven of Nine behind them as they entered, "Hey, guys."

Wendy came over and immediately began to poke and prod him for any broken bones, babbling to herself in Standard (English) and the occasional Vulcan word thrown in there, while B'eth arched an eyebrow and Lt. Hansen merely watched, "Are you okay?"

"I look better than I feel; is Lt. Commander Torres always that … aggressive … in the simulation chambers?"

Anika winced and nodded, "She demand excellence as a minimum and perfection as the standard. She is a … satisfactory Chief Engineer."

"Well, she's been assigned as my keeper while I'm in training until Commander LaForge gets back – apparently Admiral Janeway likes me enough to make sure I learn from the best." He groaned and got to a sitting position n his bunk before swinging his feet out and dropping to the ground, but then sat down on Richard's bunk, "She seemed a bit … agitated today. Is that rare? Please?"

Anika let him down gently, "No, I am afraid it is not rare – Lt. Commander Torres is a half Klingon and her spouse often irritates her to no end, so it is her crew that often feels the brunt of her anger."

Xander groaned and let his head drop back to the bunk as he slumped back, "Perfect – just what I need."

"It could always be worse, Cadet – you could be the one she is angry with." He looked up and gave Anika, who was smirking, the evil eye before sitting up and she went on, "Regardless, if you have been assigned to her, then you have shown aptitude that Starfleet likes."

"Joy – can't you see I am so joyous of this?" He stood up and stretched, groaning as he did, and then yawned, "So, what do I get to look forward to?"

"Construction, maintenance, destruction, more maintenance, Research and Development, even more maintenance, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera." He looked at Wendy, whom had found an old movie, The King And I, in the archives and loved that one line by Yul Brenner, and arched an eyebrow as she blushed, "Well, it's true, you know."

B'eth snorted, "I have heard of Lt. Commander Torres and while she is half-Klingon, it is generally her husband that sets her off, as Anika has said, but one thing that I have noticed is that she … enjoys working with her hands." He looked at her and she elaborated, "Her spouse has turned her onto holographic repair and restoration of ancient Internal Combustion Engines and vehicles that use them. Perhaps you can … find common ground."

Xander nodded and went over to his console, "Any suggestions?"

"Ensign Parris was working on a 'Camero' on Voyager, so I would suggest something of the sort as well." Anika punched up several databases of information and one immediately caught Xander's eyes – Classic 'Muscle' Cars, "If there is something to search for, it is in here."

(Next morning – Holodeck)

Lt. Commander B'elana Torres-Parris was in a far better mood this morning than she had been the previous one – Tom had finally owned up to the fact that he had agreed to take care of their daughter at night, due to the fact he had afternoon classes, while she had morning classes, and she had actually gotten more than six hours of sleep, which made for a 'Happy B'elana', according to Harry, who had finally gotten promoted to Lieutenant. All of this meant that her new charge, one Cadet Alex Harris, would probably not be running away from her on sight – she'd been very upset when Reg had dropped the kid off to her the day before and the kid had borne the brunt of the anger with an impassive air reminded her way too much of Tuvok. "You alright under there, kid?"

"Just peachy, Ma'am." Cadet Harris, 'Xander', as he had asked her to call him, was a so much like some of the crew on Voyager it was scary – he had Harry's innocent sense at time, Naomi's playfulness, the Doctor's arched sense of self on occasion (though she had seen that was an act on both parts), the Captain's sense of duty, Tom's sense of humor (though at least the kid knew when to put it away and get to work) and the smart mouth of … herself. All in all it was a scary combination, as he could probably get away with murder using those brown eyes of his. He was currently re-wiring a command console as part of a test without the correct tools, without the correct replacement parts and against a time constraint that was quickly approaching.

"Two minutes left, so bust hump, kid."

"Speed in working eventually creates sloppiness, Lt. Commander, and I am not sloppy … most of the time." The kid pushed himself out from under the console and began to tap away on the working command console, running it through the paces before the turned to her, "Done."

She arched her eyebrow and tapped away at her PADD, looking at the readouts that said, yes, he had done what she had asked him to do to the best of his limited abilities, but the console was still at only 84 efficiency – which was exactly what she expected out of a green cadet, "Not bad, but not great." She spent the next ten minutes explaining to him what he had done wrong, showing him all sorts of short cuts, which he largely seemed to ignore, and modifications to what he had done until the efficiency was up to 100, "You have a lot of room to improve, kid."

"I've been a cadet for less than a month, Ma'am, and I have a long way to go – plus I'm still learning all the new systems." She had to give him that – she'd read up on the hellhole of a planet he had grown up on and had to give him credit for even having gotten this far, "So, what's next?"

"Basic Engineering 101 – three semesters of pure hell, but in the end you can repair, maintain, and otherwise run 90 of the things in Starfleet. Doesn't that just make your skin tingle?"

He gave her a look and replied in a deadpan voice, "Joy." He watched the holodeck reset itself into a new configuration and it showed an entire host of problems – all on the bridge, numerous displays and consoles were damaged or destroyed, with low lighting and power, a holographic tool kit at his side, with the correct tools this time, and numerous dead bodies around him. "I take it this isn't an after-the-bachelor-party scenario."

"Only on a Klingon Cruiser," she smirked as she brought up the data on her PADD. "You have numerous casualties who can't be saved, an unknown condition on the rest of the ship, and no systems are up except for life support – where do you start?"

The kid looked around and immediately dropped his tool kit to move the 'dead' bodies so that they were out of the way – B'elana wasn't sure about this move, or about the cold proficiency he did it with, but nodded as he was soon working on the power relays that fed the main engineering station along the back part of the bridge, as from there he could access damage reports, distribute or regulate any power that was necessary and possibly run diagnostics. From there he went on to the Ops station and began to first replace the crushed displays and then make only the necessary repairs to make it operation, thus conserving his time and resources, and it was about this time that she noticed his foot tapping along with some apparently unheard tune.

"What are you listening to?"

"Nothing – just playing a song in my mind, Ma'am." She blinked at the response and continued to watch and listen until she heard a half-mumbled 'And I disappear'. Her mind went on it's merry little way to place those three words, which were probably nothing more than a song from his world, but as Seven had been asking her for any and all old Earth 'rock' groups, she had a good idea of whom was to blame for it.

"So, how are you getting along with the Academy? Any real problems?"

"Class on Saturday mornings," he grunted out while horsing a panel out of the way, "is an un-natural thing to ask for out of anybody. Aside from that, Cadets Michaels and De'lan, not to mention Lt. Hansen, are probably the best friends a guy could ask for around these parts."

"All of your friends are female?"

"Some things never change – back home, I had a friend, a brother in all ways but blood, but he died pretty early on and that left me with another friend, Willow. Buffy showed up and others came in along the way, but in the end, I was the one who made it out alive, ma'am." She could hear the pain in his voice as he obviously remembered his friends who had died in a senseless war, as she herself had lost friends in firefights that had not made sense, but there was something else he wasn't telling her and she wasn't going to pry.

"Why aren't you a Marine, then? I read your service record and I'm sure the Commanders over there are salivating at the chance of getting someone like you."

"'Look not into the abyss, for one day you shall find that it is looking back at you', Lt. Commander – there are times past that I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize the guy looking back at me. If they want me, they can come and get me, but I think I've seen enough combat to last me several lifetimes, all said and done." He slid out from under the console and she could see on her PADD that the entire thing was working at 97 efficiency as he went to check on numerous things, redistributing power supplies and running diagnostics as he went, but B'elana was sure that in his mind, he was still back home mourning his dead friends.

Xander
'Why in the hell did she have to bring them up? Damn it, I was almost able to let them rest in peace.' It had taken Xander a week to finally put to rest that, if timelines were congruent, that his friends were dead and dust for centuries; it had hurt to think of them all as dead, Faith especially, but he also knew that once this was over, he'd be going back home and not leaving them for the rest of their natural lives.

"You okay, kid?" He looked over at Lt. Commander Torres and saw regret in her face as he nodded, "Good – you have diagnostics running, life support has been restored to 35 of the ship, comms is fried but can be repaired and sensors are down, what's next?"

"Communications – if there's someone down in Engineering, we can coordinate our work and get it done faster." His hands punched out the correct sequence of keys and the display showed that the Comms unit was basically fucked up the ass without so much as a hope of getting it to work in the near future, "Alright, Plan B is Sensors."

"Time's running out for anyone who is alive, kid – make a choice." He didn't even bother to look up as his fingers began to tap out commands to re-route internal energy to sensors that were working and augmenting others in ways that he wasn't sure would work.

"Computer, scan the ship for any other survivors."

(Unable to comply. Internal sensors are off-line.)

"Re-rout internal sensors through Navigational Sensors and focus them on the internal structure of the ship." He danced his fingers over the command console while the computer didn't, for once, give him any flak and did what he asked.

(Scan complete – there are 549 life forms aboard this vessel.)

"Are there any in Main Engineering?"

(Negative.)

"Hurry it up, kid."

He ignored her, furiously thinking of ways to get out of the simulation, "Where are the closest survivors in proximity to Main Engineering?"

(Shuttle Bay Three – ten crewmen, four of which are currently cutting through the main door.)

"Can we open a comms channel to them?"

(Negative. Warning – Warp Core Breech in 27 minutes. Warp Containment down to 43 and falling.)

"Shit!"

Later - B'elana
The holodeck shut down after the simulation ended and she looked at the results from her PADD, "All souls lost after a Warp Core breech destroys the vessel. You lose, kid."

He snorted and worked a kink out of his back, "Still, I did damned good considering I was alone and you wouldn't and couldn't help me." He was right – he'd been able to stall off the Warp Core breech for almost two hours, but the inevitable happened, just as the program was made to do; if her memory served her correctly, the late Commander Data was the last person/android to make it out of the simulation alive and with the ship in tact, and that was because he had re-programmed the entire program to allow him to finish. Of course, nobody could PROVE it, so it went unsaid as to what had happened.

"I'll give you that you were creative, but not that you were that good." He glared at her and she smirked, "But still, you did alright. Now, what did you learn from all of this?"

"That the next three semesters are going to make me wish I had died in combat?" His sarcastic reply brought a smirk to her lips but then he sobered up, "I have a lot to learn and a short amount of time to learn it in."

"Good. Now, go back to your room and learn all you can, because at 0700 tomorrow, your ass belongs to me."

He gave her a smirk, "Oh, but what better hands for it to be in?" He laughed and left the holodeck with a jaunty salute, leaving her to smirk again and wonder what Tom had cooked for dinner.

Later – The Quad – Xander
"So how was your day, Wendy?" The half-Vulcan looked at him and he sighed at the look of fear there, "Spiders in Xeno-biology?"

"No." She sat down next to him even as B'eth went about her daily exercises with a staff, "You're going to be leaving us, aren't you."

"Ah, what?"

"You're going to be an engineer and you're not going to be with B'eth or me anymore." She curled into a ball and it finally struck him – Wendy was Willow in the same respect that Willow had always been emotionally needy of someone to hold on to and to be held by, which, given that she was a Vulcan, was rather odd as they were trained from an early age to be as non-emotional as they could.

He merely shrugged, "Wendy, you're my friend and nothing can really change that – even if I was an Engineer, do you really think that I'd go without contacting you every few days if I could?"

"I've read your file, Xander, the one from Demons 6, and Starfleet will draft you into the Marines as a Combat Engineer." He flinched physically, having read that file too, and she turned to look at him, "Did you really kill all of those people?"

"Personally, I probably killed about a third of them, and the rest by my actions – you'd be surprised how far a chemical cloud can spread after you detonate its container." The lie came so easily it scared him, but then he thought about what she had said, "Hold on a second – how'd you get ahold of my file? I barely got ahold of it."

Wendy looked very sheepish about it for a second, blushing green as she did, until she admitted, "I kinda hacked their systems." Once a Willow, Always a Willow, even if she was a Wendy – she went off into the techno-babble of it all, how she had bounced sub-space signals and made false inquiries from people who didn't really exist anymore, and went on and on and on until B'eth came over and shut her up by smacking the half-Vulcan in the backside with her staff, "HEY!" The pair squabbled back and forth for several minutes but that too was broken up when Anika walked over in her downtime clothing of slacks, a shirt and some boots.

"Greetings, fair and lovely Lieutenant." From his sitting position he bowed graciously and then came up with a smile, "So, who's your date with?"

"Date?" Wendy and B'eth fell on this tangent like a starving pair of dogs on a bone as Anika blushed heavily and looked away, "Who is he?"

"An old friend from Voyager, and we are NOT going out on a date – we're having a friendly dinner and perhaps some dancing afterwards."

"Su-u-u-u-re," he, Wendy and B'eth drawled out as one, looking at each other. "Name?"

"Lieutenant Harry Kim."

3 weeks later - Saturday afternoon - after class
Xander groaned as he poured himself into his rack, uncaring of anything and everything that could have possibly been right or wrong with the world or Federation - naturally, again, that was when his door chimed and as Richard wasn't there, it had to be for him, "Enter!"

"Why brother, aren't you happy to see me?" Q2 smiled as he flashed into the room, wearing his Command Starfleet Uniform, though not with Captain's pips, but rather a single filled pip, which meant Ensign.

"Die a horribly vile and laborious death, brother." B'elana had put him through the paces that morning, pushing him to just about the limit of his rather incredible patience - they had gotten around to her showing him how to fix more than just command consoles and PADDs, like simple repairs on conduits and structural repairs.

"You're not that lucky, brother." Q2 smiled and looked around, "So, how are classes?"

"Long, hard work and they aren't going to get any easier even with my now-perfect memory." He looked over and frowned, "Question - just how far out of the way did dad go when creating my supposed home planet?"

Q2 shrugged, "Oh, I'm sure he put more than a few future ideas for tests for you in the works, but aside from that, probably nothing more than the usual." He looked around again and smiled, "How about we drop in on Aunt Kathy?"

"Is she alone?" Admiral Janeway had been checking up on him in all of his classes and was on his case just because his mathematics classes, all of which were fairly remedial, were a little on the low side. Anika, Wendy and B'elana had been tutoring him as they worked on work, homework and more work, and while his grade over the past two weeks had improved greatly, it was juts above average and that was something Aunt Kathy would not allow.

Q2 lost his smile as he checked and then scowled, "No, she's with that Chakotay. If ever there was a man without a sense of humor who wasn't a Vulcan, it was him."

"What'd you do to him to make him lose that sense of humor, bro?" Xander hopped out of his rack and grunted as he landed, before pulling on some casual clothing as his brother flashed into similar clothing to blend in.

Q2 shrugged, "I made his sonic shower flow with chocolate, vanilla and Vulcan cherry pudding before making his replicator give him uniforms that were all either too big or too small." Q2 was truly his father's son in that when he found a good straight man, he played him to the hilt as far as the jokes went.

"Is that all?" He noted the somewhat sheepish sort of look his brother gave him and left it alone, "So, how're mom and dad?"

"They are well - mother worries that these primitive being will retard your ability to be Q, Father is surprised you haven't caused the place to blow up already, especially given how your last school turned out, and most of the Continuum is rather curious how long it will be before your friends out you as Q."

Xander snorted as he and Q2 left the room, only to run right into Anika and Harry, both of whom looked more than a little surprised at whom he was walking with, "Hey, Anika, Harry." Off duty, Harry had also asked him to call him 'Harry', which made Anika smile - the pair of them had been 'not-dating' for almost two weeks and while the girls gushed over just how cute of a couple they made (which was odd, given their lineage of Vulcan and Klingon, respectively), he had kept somewhat apart from them and buried in his studies.

Harry looked at Q2 and hissed, "What are you doing here, Q?" While at the same time Anika's face dawned in recognition and she slapped him on the shoulder, "You should have told me you were Q!"

Xander's head sunk to his chest while Q2 merely snickered, "So much for the easy way. He's my brother, you two - he's human right now, not Q, but either way I came here to see how he was doing as both mother and father are both … indisposed." The pair of humans goggled at that and Q2 smiled a little more, "I'm going to go see Aunt Kathy and then Xander and I are going to the holodeck - care to join us?"

"Actually, I was gong to invite him along with us for something that Harry calls … double dating?" Anika looked at Harry, who nodded, and then looked back at Xander, "Apparently you are going to be on something called a 'blind date'."

Xander winced, his thoughts immediately turning to Faith, as he was sure that Q2's thoughts were turning to Ming-Tai, "Um, well, I really don't date well, I mean, REALLY don't date well - the last few I've had, well, they tried to kill me."

Anika blinked at this, as did Harry, but Q2 merely snickered at this fact as the Asian man shook his head and went on, "But I promised her you'd be there! She's a third-year cadet who just broke up with her boyfriend and…"

"Sorry, sir, but I am NOT rebound-man."

Anika looked a little fretful and then smiled, "There shall be Twinkies." She'd learned of his obsession with the snack cake somehow, which was odd seeing as they had not been made in over three hundred years, and knew that he was easily bribed with them - Q2 pantomimed someone setting the hook on a fish and reeling him in while Harry merely looked confused.

Xander then sighed and relented, "Let it be known that I was against this - if she tries to kill me, I'm going to get even." He looked over at Q2, who had a worried look on his face, "Don't worry - we'll go see your Aunt Kathy later."

Later
Anika watched as her young friend desperately tried to not strangle the young scientist, an action that she was not sure that he'd get to as she wanted to do the same herself, who prattled on and on with how she had been hurt, how all men were pigs who needed to be destroyed and how he was a really good listener - Harry had said the girl, who's name was Angela, was quite the charmer, but Anika knew that sometimes Harry was, well, wrong, and this was one of those times as Angela had all of the charm of a Klingon Targ. Quite frankly, she was going to make it her mission in life that Harry never set up Xander like this again, "Harry, doesn't Xander need to meet B'elana at the Holodeck training facility?"

"Oh, yeah, that's right." Xander looked at the pair of them as if he were about to bestow an Admiralty upon them even as Angela frowned, blinking as her mind caught up with them.

"At this time of night? I thought you were an Engineering Major, Alexander?"

"Combat Engineer, actually, or so I've been told - given my past, it's not all that far of a reach." He sipped the drink before him and then stood, "Well, it's been real, but I have to get to the holodeck before Lt. Commander Torres comes looking for me … and I'm not sure that is a wise thing to do."

Harry snorted, "Such wisdom for one so young."

Anika didn't think it was that funny and elbowed him in the ribs, which he winced at and Xander snickered, "Xander, you are correct that it would be unwise. I'm sure Angela would excuse you."

Angela shot her a look of pure venom and Anika was surprised to see Xander frown at, but he had done so out of the view of Angela, "I'm sure I would. Perhaps another time, Alexander."

"Perhaps," he allowed before bowing slightly and walking away.

Once she was sure that Xander was out of earshot, Angela's fake smile vanished, "Ma'am, with all due respect, I know there is not a lesson he needs to get to - do not get involved with my love life, ma'am."

"Cadet, do not take that tone with her." Harry, still clutching his ribs from her not-so-gentle nudge, snapped back lowly as Anika drew herself up for a little glare of her own, "Alexander is a friend of hers and as such, she is only looking out for him, so I understand."

"And while we are on the subject of friends, I would like to inform you that two of his friends have been watching you the entire time, Cadet, and neither of them look happy." Wendy and B'eth had been spying on the quartet for nearly an hour and it was somewhat odd to see them alternating on just whom was holding whom back from charging in and throttling the scientist.

Angela looked around but saw nobody that looked like that at first, then turned back, "Permission to be excused, ma'am, sir?"

"Granted." They said as one and both let out a sigh of relief when the cadet left, "Well…" Harry started out and then sighed again. "That could have gone better."

"Indeed."

"Did Xander really have a training session tonight?"

"No, but I do seem to recall that he had booked some holodeck time with a new program of some kind, something about building things with his own two hands."

Holodeck - later
Xander wiped his forehead and again looked around at the holographic room, nodding at what he had observed - at first glance at the database, he had wanted to rebuild a classic muscle car, something that made him want to grunt and growl like an ape or something, but after a short time that lost it's appeal and his former trade came back into play, carpentry. Soon he had changed his setup from 'modern' automotive to old-school creative, as in wood, stone and no modern tools - at first he'd just carved just little things that sat in his room, not to mention Wendy's and B'eth's, but over the past week he'd been working on something a little bigger and more ambitious.

"Ambition is good, brother." Q2 flashed into the room and Xander saw that he wasn't alone - Aunt Kathy was with him and she looked around for a second before she placed where she was, "Aunt Kathy and I chatted for a while and then I brought her here to have a look-see at what you've done so far."

She looked around again and then looked at his designs, "A sculpture of wood?"

"One must crawl before they walk, Aunt Kathy - this will be transferred to stone, eventually, but first I think I'd like to practice in wood first." It would be an obelisk, carved first out of pine, then out of mahogany and finally out of stone, and it would hold several names of people who had lost their lives in the fight he'd been in so long ago - Jessie McNally, Jennifer Calendar, Kendra McPherson, Tara McClay and the names of the Potentials that Buffy had led to the slaughter in moments of pure pig-headedness. "What do you think?"

"Why not snap your fingers and be done with it?"

"Where's the fun in that? Like an old cartoon used to say, take chances, get messy, make mistakes but don't stop trying." He picked up his chisel again and scraped away several more curls of wood before looking at the nearly finished top, "So, how are you, Admiral?"

"Fine, Xander - being an Admiral isn't all it is cracked up to be."

He smiled, "Still wish you were a Captain?"

"At times - they took away my ship, and it's never easy for a Captain to give up her ship." She smiled and ran a hand over the rough surface of the body of the model, "We're like children at times in that respect."

Xander snickered even as Q2 looked on in confusion, "Yeah, B'elana, excuse me, Lt. Commander Torres, says that the secret to being any kind of an engineer is simply to not give the Captain what they want, but to give them what they need."

Aunt Kathy laughed unguardedly at that, even Q2 snickered at that, but then got herself under control, "That's good to hear from you, Alexander. I take it you know what's going to happen in two years, right?"

"Marine training - joy." It had been a distinct possibility from the get-go that he'd end up a Marine, even before Wendy had told him about it, but only that morning had it been confirmed that he'd been selected to join the Elite fighting force known as the Marines as a Combat Engineer - he'd go through all of his Engineering classes, but for the last two years of his education he'd be trained on Earth and abroad how to 'fight'. Personally, he could have actually given a rat's ass about it, but someone a lot higher up than him (in the human sense, that is) had made the decision, so he'd be forced to deal with it unless he was deemed unfit for Marine status … and his Soldier memories wouldn't allow for that.

"It could always be worse - you could be in Command and go through the Kobiyashi Maru simulation."

"The no-win test? No-thank-you-very-much," he quickly said as he remembered the last test he'd had like that, one that had ended in a warp core breech that killed everybody. He'd run that same simulation about six times since then and it had still come up the same as the last time, but each time he kept tacking on the amount of time the breech was put off by minutes and, this last time, entire hours. "Out of morbid curiosity, what's a Combat Engineer do?"

Her brow scrunched, "I'm not entirely sure myself, but I can put you in contact with other people who'd know more than I - on the basis, you'd be with a Marine Unit and you'd fix or make whatever they need to complete their mission, but outside of that, I'm not sure."

Q2 scrunched his nose up, "Are you sure you will be able to handle it, brother? I took the liberty of checking out the life of the Soldier who possessed you way back when, and I must say he was … particularly brutal, to say the least."

Xander nodded, having read the file before leaving for Starfleet, "Yeah, but he was the best there was at what he did, bro, and beside that fact, combat engineers."

Q2 frowned, "Wasn't that Wolverine?"

"That guy was a comic book character, brother - I guess Andrew infected you more than we had feared." Aunt Kathy looked quite lost, but Q2 paled as the meaning of it all sunk in, "Regardless, I only have a few minutes left, and I want to collect my stuff and save my progress, so hold on." Xander took just a few moments to do just that and shut down the holodeck before he, his brother and Aunt Kathy left the room so they could have some privacy and have a real conversation.

9 days later - Holodeck
"So THIS is where you've been hiding out." Xander turned to see the last person he expected enter the holodeck - B'eth and Wendy had found out about his new habit a while back, and they had told Anika and Harry, but he always assumed that B'elana knew or at least suspected, but from the look on her face, she didn't, "Nice work."

"Thanks - I wanted to do Classic cars, but they seemed so … passé and overdone, so I thought that instead of destroying stuff, I'd actually make things." He turned his back on her and went back to carving out the letters of Kendra's name, having already done Jessie's and Jenny's, "What brings you here, Lt. Commander?"

"A call from Seven about her being worried about you." This brought his head up and he gave her his full attention, "Something happened and it's effecting you - what is it?"

Xander took a breath and looked down at the chisel in his hands before he sighed and put it down, "B'eth happened, ma'am."

"B'elana."

"B'elana. She asked me a question and I froze - sufficed to say the question, tone and who she looks like brought back more than a few ghosts that I thought I had put to rest, but I guess I was wrong." He walked over to 'his' workbench and pulled up a holographic picture that held the faces of every Scooby he could put a picture too and a few hand-drawn pictures for those that he couldn't find/create, and his finger's traced Faith's face, "Her name was Faith and sometimes I wonder if she and I were meant to be from the get-go."

B'elana's face came next to his shoulder and she looked at the picture, "She looks just like …"

"Yeah, she does, or rather, B'eth looks just like Faith used to - she and I weren't always friends, hell, she tried to kill me, but Faith and I eventually made peace before I left."

"So she's alive?"

"No - she's been dead for a while now." His heart, for once, didn't clench as he said it and as wrong as it felt to think or react to, it felt good that he could detach himself from his emotions like that, "I still have issues."

"It gets easier, you know - eventually their faces and voices fade, and you only remember the good times." He could hear the hurt in her voice, and knew that she had once lost someone like that, but he merely shook his head.

"Not Faith - she was one in a million, a billion, a googolplex." What a time for a cheesy Back To The Future 3 line - he was going to kill Andrew when he got back to his time.

He heard the doors open again and knew who it was without turning - he only knew one person who wore those types of boots and could walk that softly, "Klingon women stick together, I see."

"As a rule, no, but you inspire creativity, Xander." B'eth came to his other side and he could see that she was wearing her Klingon armor, "Was she your mate?"

"No, but I like to think that she and I could have been - I never had the best of luck with women, ever, and I guess that after Anya Faith was the one person who actually knew how to get me to drop my mask for five seconds and let me be me."

B'eth nodded and looked over at B'elana and then looked back at him as he put the picture down, "Honor her memory, my friend, and perhaps you will be allowed to see her again in sto-vo-kor. Until that point, though, live and love - I am sure she would want you to do so."

He looked over at her and frowned, "Is part of being half-Klingon, let alone female, that you give out annoyingly true snippets of wisdom whether we need it or not?"

B'elana snorted, "Only if you're human and male - I swear that Tom is out to make me old before my time." She walked back over to the wooden monument and traced her finger's over Jessie's name, "Who was he?"

"My brother in all ways but blood, and he was the first to die. He was … infiltrated, for lack of a better term, and to save someone who I've hated for most of my life from a fate worse than death … I killed him." He walked over and absently picked a shaving out of the bottom of an 'S' in the first name, "They all died far too early - Jessie by my hand, Jenny by the hand of an ally who turned on us for a while, Kendra by that ally's childe, and Tara was lost by a random act of stupidity that I should have seen coming."

"Cho-Ahn, Anya and … who is this?"

"Chloe. Anya died saving the life of an ally back home, she was the last, and the other two died because of a stupid girl who would listen to nobody and instead of being a general she only acted like one." He called out for the computer to save his progress and shut down his program, "Well, ladies, I have some studying to do, so if you will excuse me." He didn't wait for an answer and walked out of the holodeck, brooding slightly as he made his way back to his room, only to find his roommate there and awake.

"What are you doing here, Harris?"

"It's also my room too, Dick, so I have as much right to be here as you." He crawled up into his rack and sank down, doing his best to ignore his roommate, who was making a spectacle of himself.

"What if I had a woman in here? What if you walked in on us?"

"Then I would have had the common decency to walk out and not give you any grief about it." He could hear somebody shuffling around in the refresher unit, which was basically a small bathroom unit, and sighed, "What's his name?"

"WHAT?" Xander smiled at the pure shock in Richard's voice even as he pulled himself out of his rack and landed without so much as a sound, "I don't know what you're talking about - I'm not like you and into guys."

Xander only shrugged, "If I was into guys, Dick, I'd at least have the gumption to admit to it rather than to hide it like you do." There had been more than enough evidence to support his claim, but Xander, quite honestly, didn't care - after knowing that Willow was hay and possibly Andrew, he just couldn't bring himself to actually dislike anybody because of their sexual preference. He hated Andrew because he was annoying - big difference. "Either way, I'm out of here." As he passed the door of the refresher, he slammed his fist into it and heard a rather masculine voice shout in a startled voice and only chuckled as he walked out of the door to Richard's fuming and swearing.

Xander walked around the gardens and Quad of the Academy, the afternoon turning into evening as he did, until he came upon a sight that puzzled him; with all of the automation and futuristic technology, someone could have easily attended to the gardens and grounds of the Academy, but instead he saw an old man in old coveralls calmly cleaning up a planet of what looked to be young roses. If he were a day under ninety, Xander would turn in his Twinkie right then and there.

"Hello, young man." The old man looked up and his lined face held more wisdom and life experience than anyone that Xander had ever met, "What bring you here?"

"Just walking around, sir - needed to think." The old man nodded at this and then looked down at his roses before looking back up, "Need any help?"

"You know anything about flowers and gardens?"

"Not much, but I know about digging holes." He took a seat next to the old man, "Xander."

The man smiled, "I know - Demons 6 can be a rough place and your name was all around here since day one. Boothby." The old man looked around and frowned, "I feel something here, something I haven't felt in a long time."

"Well you should, old man," came the voice of his father, who flashed into existence between Boothby and the flowers. "I swear that if it weren't for the fact that you were once Q that everyone and their pet Targ would think you're the smartest man on the planet, which isn't saying much."

Boothby's face darkened as he straightened slightly, "What do you want, Q? I thought I told you never to come back here."

His father snorted, "Please, I do as I will, and there is nothing that you can do or say that can stop me from checking up on my son."

Boothby blanched and looked over at him, "You're his son?"

Xander could only nod, "Asked and answered, sir."

Boothby looked at him and then looked at Q, "I should have known - nobody with any sense would have believed that a place like Demons 6 could ever exist, let alone the Boca Del Inferno System."

Q smiled, "Ah, but you did, old friend."

Boothby snorted, "I shouldn't have - I got kicked out of the Continuum for the same trick a few million years ago."

Xander looked up at his dad, who shrugged, "Where do you think I got the idea from? Granted, his own attempted at creating an entire system of sex addicts and drug users was novel at the time, but hardly necessary."

Boothby snorted, "I was younger and a lot more foolish then, Q, and if I recall correctly, you've done some things since then that were even less necessary, so why start now?"

"Ah, how about I let you two get reacquainted?" Not giving either a chance to voice their opinion of his opinion, Xander lit out of the area quickly, his reason for brooding forgotten.

Chapter 3 7 weeks later - End of Semester minus 3 days
It had been a little over three months since he had started Starfleet Academy and more than half of that time had been spent not only catching him up to speed on technology and history, but also finding his own limitation and niche in Starfleet - according to B'elana, he was shaping up to be one hell of an engineer, sort of, as he was currently stalled on repairing minor things in EPS conduits and being taught how warp drives worked, not to mention trying to keep up in the rest of his classes. The people who had made it bearable were his friends Wendy and B'eth, not to mention Anika (whom he now called Seven at her own request) and her now-official boyfriend Harry; Wendy had taken to medicine like a Ferengi to a swap meet and was excelling to a point that she was on the fast track to give Beverly Crusher a run for her money as CMO of Starfleet Medical. B'eth was also shaping up to be a great officer, but instead of the Ops that she wanted, she was now a pilot with specialties in starships instead of individual fighters - she had taken them on a simulated course not more than a week ago and Xander had said, then and there, that he'd never get into the same vehicle with B'eth if she was driving, something Wendy would have said as well if she had not already passed out.

Also since a while back, he'd stopped worrying about the past and about his dual identity - Boothby had not told a soul yet and hopefully would not, nobody else had come even close, though he was sure Seven had her doubts from her run-in with his brother nearly two months ago, and he had finally come to terms that he was Alex Q. Harris of Demons 6, war hero/butcher (depending on whom you believed), and in less than three days he would be in need of something to do for what amounted to the Christmas break. His brother had offered several suggestions, as had his father, Wendy and B'eth, but so far the best one had come from B'elana - he could serve on a freighter as an assistant Engineer in order to get some real experience while helping out an old friend of hers who was in need of a crew.

He looked up as the comms system chimed for him, "Yes?"

("Xander, it's Wendy - can you come to my quarters for a second? We need to talk.") His gut twisted a little as he acknowledged her and closed the channel before walking the few minutes to her place, one she shared with B'eth, and chimed for entry, an entry that was immediate.

"What's wrong, Wendy?" He had never seen this much of a worried look on her face as she sat him down next to her and calmly took his hand, squeezing it with her half-Vulcan strength.

"Um, well, you see, I have a confession to make, Xander." He felt his stomach clench even as B'eth, who was up in her rack, began to snicker at something, which caused Wendy to glare at her.

"Just come on out and say it, Wendy - trust me, I doubt you can top some of the things that I've seen, done and heard in my life."

"I'm pregnant."

Mental shutdown engaged. Rebooting - systems check - initializing OS "Uh … excuse me? Pregnant? Who is he and how hard can I kill him?"

B'eth snickered from her rack above as Wendy went a dark green color, blushing furiously, "NO! Xander let me explain." He calmed down just a fraction even as she clutched his hand, "Okay, I, myself, am not pregnant, but I will be soon, kinda - it's kind of hard to explain, but my Aunt, my mother's sister, needs some bone marrow and even though mom COULD donate it, there are some murky things going on and I'm going to be implanted with an embryo to carry to term."

"You're eighteen, Wendy! Who is this fucking person, where can I find them and what the HELL ARE THEY THINKING?" He only knew rage as the scenario played through his mind - Wendy was being used as some kind of a guinea pig and old protective instincts of Willow came into being, instincts that surpassed that of the Hyena, Soldier Boy and himself.

"Calm. DOWN!"

"HELL NO!" Through the din of his raging mind, even with Wendy screaming at him to calm down, he could hear B'eth's howling laughter, something that began to make several things click in his mind. He turned and glared at B'eth, who was now looking at him, "Okay, did you set this up?"

B'eth's face split into a huge grin even as Wendy began to calm down too, "Absolutely - human males are SO easily provoked, and I wanted to prove this to Wendy, so I thank you, my friend."

He narrowed his eyes and turned on Wendy, who was looking very small at that point, "And WHY did you chose the 'I'm Pregnant' track? Are you suicidal?"

"B'eth told me how guys act sometimes and I didn't believe her, so we set this up." She got really small then and meekly asked, "Are you mad at me?"

"Furious - I may be a mass-murdering asshole, but I draw the line at messing with children." Without another word, he stormed out of the room and to the nearest holodeck, blatantly aware that B'eth was no longer laughing and was asking him to come back and talk to them. He needed to hurt something, preferably something that wouldn't feel it, and the holodeck was elected.

B'eth
She ignored Wendy's fretful babbles as they followed their friend down the corridors, which wasn't hard as people were just starting to come back into the halls from their hiding places. It had all been meant in good fun, but apparently there were hidden depths to their friend and, unfortunately, they had found a very sore spot meant to be in jest.

"Quiet, Wendy - we must apologize." Internally, though her voice was rough and cold, she was wondering just what in Sto-vo-kor she had been thinking when this plan had hit her.

"Why did I listen to you? He hates us. He'll never speak-tousagain-andweboth-knowthat-he-holdsagrudgeforver. OhwhydidIeverlistentoyouinthefirstplace? Whatwereyouthinking?"

"Quiet, Wendy! Yes, we messed up. No, I do not know what I was thinking at the time, but first we must find him before we can apologize to him," She half-carried, half-drug the half-Vulcan through the corridors towards the holodeck, only to be stopped by the voices of Seven and Harry.

"What's going on, you two? Why does Xander look ready to kill somebody?"

B'eth told them quickly of what they had done in jest and while Harry looked like a pole axed Targ, Seven looked very furious, "Look, I know we screwed up, but we need to get to him to apologize."

They finally made it to the holodeck and when they got there, it sounded, even though the privacy fields and insulation that it was doing it's level best to kill whoever was in there … and B'eth had a good idea who was in there, "Computer, who is in the holodeck and what program are they running?"

(Cadet Alexander Harris is currently in Holodeck 3 and Program 'Hell On Earth' is running. Warning, safety parameters have been overridden and lethality level has been set to 'Lethal'.) B'eth felt all of the blood run out of her face even as her warrior spirit growled in both pride and jealousy at the statement the computer had made.

"Shut the program down, Authorization Henson Alpha Six, Six, Seven Omicron."

(Unable to comply - Security Override access needed.)

"Security Override Henson Alpha Blue Delta Green."

"Security Override Kim Hector Red Omicron Gold."

(Unable to comply - Insufficient Security Override Access.)

"Security Override Janeway Kappa Red Omega Delta Green." B'eth jerked around to see one rather upset ADMIRAL Katherine Janeway, "And maybe one of you two can fill me in on why Xander is running a program at a level that even the most insane Marines stay away from?"

Security Override Access approved.) The noise ceased and the doors parted to reveal the inactive holodeck, but also the tattered form of one Alexander Harris … and he wasn't in what one could call a good mood - his hands and face were covered in blood, HIS blood, his clothes were torn and his body looked to have taken more than a few hits in the past few minutes that the holodeck had been trying to pound him into a red paste.

"Why. Did. You. Stop. It?" B'eth could see the effects of both rage and battle-madness in his mind, but also saw something that chilled her to her very soul - nothing. Deep within his eyes, where the soul normally rested, where the pride of the warrior burned, according to Klingon legend, B'eth saw nothing in her friend's eyes and for the first time in her life, she knew true fear.

"Xander, we need to apologize!" Wendy rushed forwards before anyone could stop her and in the blink of an eye she was back to front with Xander, his arms locked around her head in a classic chokehold that appeared to be working as advertised as Wendy's eyes bugged out and she clawed at his arms to get him to let go.

"Stop it, Xander! You're not there anymore!" Out of nowhere came a young man, dressed in a Starfleet Command uniform with an Ensign's pip on his collar, lashing out with a foot that connected into the small of Xander's back with a sickeningly deceptive force to cause Xander to let go of Wendy, "You're not there!"

Xander's only response was a pure snarl of fury that stoked B'eth's own Klingon fires - his mind was in a completely primal state the Klingon warriors often tried to achieve, but it was also very dangerous in that all thoughts of strategy and tactical planning left you. This was proven as a heavy stun blast caught Xander in the back and dropped him to the ground like a bag of rocks.

"What in the hell happened to him, Q?" Q? Is that who this twerp was?

"Aunt Kathy, believe it or not, the scenario he was running was built on old MEMORIES of Xander's by father - nobody was ever supposed to find it, let alone those Marines, and Xander was only allowed to use it to let off some steam or kill something." The person, Q, looked over at her, his eyes narrowing, "What did you do to him?"

(Later)

Her Starfleet career was probably over from the look on the Admiral's face and her life was also over from the look on Q's face - B'eth was sure of these even as Medical checked over Wendy and Xander, who was behind a level 10 Security Field, and she turned to the Admiral, "It was just a joke."

Before the Admiral could explode, though, the being, Q, beat her to it, "A JOKE? My brother may be a great many things, capable of many more things than your primitive mind is capable of, but a supposed 'joke' of this level is something that he would kill over. Do you even have the slightest CLUE how close you came to having him wipe out this pathetic mud ball humans call a planet?"

She blinked, "He's your brother?"

He glared at her, "Yes, you insignificant primate, he is - whether he knows it or not is none of your concern nor is it the point, but it was then and is now a very real concern as to if he could tap into his powers of a Q in his rage. What do humans do oh so well when they get angry?"

"Destroy … K'haless, he would have killed us all."

"Which is the reason father made this program for him specifically - if he has an outlet for his truly homicidal tendencies, then there is that much of a chance that he won't destroy things like this planet, the solar system, the entire human race, things like that." Q ran his hands through his hair and sighed, "It's a good thing I'm erasing your memories after this - I sure as hell don't want to have to explain this to him."

Wendy walked over, eyeing the cosmic being with some trepidation, "You're … not like most Q, that we've read about, I mean."

Q snorted, an indelicate sound, "No shit - I was made human for a month and sent to Earth to be taught how to BE human by another Alexander Harris, a doppelganger in another dimension of your Xander, actually, but he was in much worse shape than this one. I picked up more than a few bad human habits along the way, but being protective of my family happens to be one of the few things I did get right - this Xander Harris will wake up and remember nothing of what happens after leaving your room, as none of you will remember this little conversation, and all shall be serene and nice in the Universe for a short time."

B'eth growled, "What right do you have to erase our memories?"

"I am Q, child - I can do whatever I want because I am not forced to care about your petty feelings or sense of right and/or wrong." He snapped his fingers and B'eth felt a light touch on her mind, but shook it off as he smirked, "Now, who am I?"

She looked at his face, then at his rank, and thought hard and came up with nothing, "Do I know you?"

"No, B'eth, not yet," Admiral Janeway said to her as she walked over to where Xander was behind the security field. "Will he be well?"

"Eventually - it takes a great deal for him to work himself up into this kind of rage, but he always recovers, at least, he has in the past." B'eth watched as the unknown Ensign walked over to where Xander was laying and sighed, "He has a lot of baggage, Aunt Kathy, and most of it is from years of combat without so much as a brief respite - always something or other on his plate and never so much as a 'thank you' once it was dealt with." 'Aunt Kathy'? Were he and Admiral Janeway related?

"I'm having an old friend of B'elana's take him onboard his ship to flex his muscles a bit, put to good use some of that training he has - is that a good idea?"

"Yes - it will keep his hands busy, his mind on other things and it may just get him over this stupid prank of theirs." Those words cut B'eth deeper than she cared to admit - true, the joke had been meant in fun, but obviously it had done more harm than good, and she had hurt an ally of hers, a friend, which sullied her own honor.

"What hit me?" Xander's voice was rough as he came to in the security field, which prompted B'eth to rush to him and she knew Wendy was not far behind.

"Forgive me, my friend - it was a joke in poor taste."

Xander
Xander, though many believed him unconscious, had heard all of Q2's rant and, while touched, knew that it was all an act - B'eth's, Wendy's and possibly Seven's and Harry's memories had been messed with, but his and Aunt Kathy's had not been, obviously. He waited for Q2 and Aunt Kathy to get over towards him before he groaned, "What hit me?"

He heard a stampede of two pairs of feet, if two pairs can be called a stampede, and heard B'eth plead, "Forgive me, my friend - it was a joke in poor taste."

In truth, it had been a joke in the most horrible taste, but he put on a confused face, "Joke? What joke? Where the hell am I?" Personally, he thought that the Class Ten Security Field he was behind was a bit much, but with what he had on him, he could get out of it in about ten minutes.

"You went on a minor psychotic break, Cadet Harris," Aunt Kathy stated gravely. "In the process you activated and survived a holodeck program that fully-trained Marines have a hard time surviving - do you care to tell me how you did that?"

"Luck? Skill? I'm not sure because I … I don't remember what you're talking about - the last thing I remember is walking into Wendy's and B'eth's room and Wendy telling me something that … I was upset, angry and then I wake up here." The half-Vulcan and the half-Klingon merely blinked in shock while he stood up to loosen the knot that had formed in the middle of his back, thinking they were off of the hook, but he then frowned, "Wait a second … I remember it was Wendy that told me that … something, and B'eth was laughing."

"It was a bad joke gone wrong, Xander," Wendy admitted meekly. He knew he shouldn't be taking any kind of pleasure from either her or B'eth's discomfort, but he did take a little in that his little go-round with 'Hell On Earth', which was actually a rip-off of the old PC game 'Doom', didn't help him work through.

"Whatever you said to me, don't do that again - I hate it when I get these memory lapses." He looked at the Admiral, who appeared to be rather calm, and turned on the puppy-dog eyes, "Can I get out of here now, Admiral?"

"After a little session with Starfleet's top psychologist - Commander Deanna Troi."

He winced, "Are you SURE you want to let someone in my head? I'm there all the time and trust me, it's not a pretty sight."

She smiled and he knew that this was a setup for somebody, but not for him, "That's the only way you're ever going to get out of the Security Field."

He made a farce of looking around, "A few curtains, a throw rug and a couple of pillows couldn't hurt."

"You're seeing the doctor, Cadet - that is an order."

Later that evening - Xander
'I hate psychiatrists - they're too meddlesome,' was about all that was gong through Xander's mind even as he worked in his holodeck program, shaping the last of the obelisk to the way he wanted it - it would stand about six feet tall and have the names of the fallen on them, but also decorative cravings.

"Xander?" He jumped slightly, not having heard the doors to his sanctuary open and spun around to see Seven standing there, "Are you okay?"

"Don't scare me like that, Seven - I think I've been through enough for one day, don't you think? How'd you get in here without me knowing?"

"I've been here for over five minutes, calling your name and you didn't respond, and I take it you are starting to remember more about your … break." She walked forwards, out of her on-duty uniform and in her casual wear, "Do you wish to talk about it?"

"Not particularly - I don't want to give you nightmares." Soldier Boy had seen some heavy shit, and that little program had brought all of those old memories and night terrors back in full force, "I'll be fine, it's just going to take some time."

She nodded and then looked at the woodcarving, "Are these the names of your friends?"

"Yeah, something I've been working on in my spare time - what brings you here?"

She shrugged, "I came to see if you were okay, and now that I know that, I want to know if I can help." She idly picked up a small chisel and tested the edge with her thumb, "I have found recently that I like to work with my hands as a way of relaxing."

"I'm done with this part, now I get to try it in a soft stone, like limestone or sandstone - from there, I go to marble or granite." He called up an arch and began to tap away at what he wanted as far as raw materials went, and soon there was a rectangular piece of stone next to his bench, "Care to help?"

He and Seven spent the next hour and a half working on the stone, checking it without tools for cracks and possible defects before starting to rough out the shape of the obelisk - they chatted occasionally, asking how this and that was going in their respective lives, and he made a mental note to ask Harry why Seven blushed about her upcoming birthday. Eventually, too quickly in his opinion, his time in the holodeck came to a close and he saved their progress; they had worked up a good bead of sweat working in the enclosed area, itself a stone room and with only some ventilation, and he was a good kind of tired that came with physical work.

Seven groaned as they left the room, "That was exhilarating - I have never worked with stone before."

"Neither have I, outside of concrete - I hope we get better at it." They made their way to the cafeteria for dinner and neither were too pleased with the selection - Xander had, much to his distress, found that school food, regardless of time, space or dimension, let alone technology, was all the same in that it was strictly inedible half of the time and unrecognizable to the point tha one would refuse to eat it the other half of the time. It was there that B'elana, who had joined them after only a few minutes in the cafeteria, made her feelings of displeasure with the food known, joined them.

"I swear they took lessons from Neelix on how to screw up food." The 'food' in question looked like a gray mash of noodles and the occasional orange fleck that was supposed to be a carrot, next to a lump of meat that Xander thought was meat loaf, some vegetables and something that looked oddly enough like pumpkin pie and smelled like peach cobbler. B'elana took her fork and speared the closest piece of meat, which Xander swore he heard squeal in displeasure, and then brought it up to eye level, "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?"

"None of the above - it is a new life form that is not only trying to take over Earth, it also infects all edible food with some sort of protein combination that makes it … displeasing to the eye." He looked over at Seven, who was doing much the same to her own piece of meatloaf, her eyes narrowed as the studied it, "Perhaps we could use this as an effective weapon against or enemies?"

"I think that falls under both cruel and unusual punishment, not to mention torture of enemy combatants and biological warfare." The three of them looked up to see Admiral Janeway, B'eth and Wendy standing there, all of them with trays in their hands, "May we join you?" With a nod of ascent, they did and Aunt Kathy prodded her own meat serving, "I wonder if this is punishment for something that we did wrong in our past lives?"

"Nah - they'd make us eat old MRE's for that." He stabbed a piece of his own meatloaf and, before he had the chance to talk himself out of it, ate it, chewing quickly as he did in hopes not tasting it; those hopes were dashed and he forced himself to swallow the revolting mass, "Gah, I think this IS an old MRE."

B'elana put her fork down and looked at him, "Xander, remember when I told you about my friend who needs some help in Engineering on her ship? I need an answer tonight if you want the spot."

He nodded, "Sure - where is it going and please tell me it's not a Klingon Cruiser."

"It's not a cruiser - it's a freighter and it's a motley crew as far as the people on board; Jennifer and I were in the Academy together and she was kicked out just before I left. She's an okay person and a great pilot, even if she's a little crazy."

"She's gotta be a better pilot than B'eth." The half-Klingon in question gave Wendy a wounded look for the muttered comment and both Seven and Aunt Kathy snickered at it, "Well, it's true!"

"When does she expect me? Or does she?"

B'elana smiled, "Oh, I expect she's already tapping her foot impatiently, but for your information, the day after Finals - you're going to be with her for the next month or so, enough time to pull off several runs, but that's about it. Try not to embarrass me, kid."

He took up a wounded pose, "Moi? Embarrass you? Perish the thought, though if she asks for any stories, I might have to tell her about the diaper incident a month ago." He'd had an early session in the holodeck that day and B'elana had shown up on time, though with a diaper stuck to her seat instead of her daughter's - thankfully, though, it was a clean one.

B'elana growled, "You wouldn't."

He merely grinned at her.

2 days later - post Finals
"So, you passed?"

He gave Wendy a wounded look, "Was there any doubt?"

B'eth snorted even as he packed away the last of his clothes, "Of course there was doubt - if you did not pass, I would have gotten out of babysitting duties for the next semester, not that letting anyone who is any part Vulcan watch a developing child is a good thing. I swear B'elana's child is starting to arch her eyebrow at me and baby-speaks 'fascinating' when I am not looking."

"At least she behaves for you - last time I sat with her she wouldn't stay put for two seconds." He had gotten more exercise with the 18 month old in three hours then he normally did with his morning exercises - he'd almost kissed B'elana's and Tom's feet when they got back, as baby Parris had driven him to the bring.

He packed up his guitar and several pictures he had taken over the past semester - Wendy was much like Willow in her fear of frogs so he had asked B'eth to take a picture of him making frog noises next to Wendy as she slept, which had the half-Vulcan nearly jumping out of her bed when he let out a rather loud one with a rubber frog dropped on her chest. B'eth had, in turn, gotten tricked with a picture of her, asleep in her rack, cuddling her stuffed targ with her normally straight hair being frizzed out with little pink bows in it that Wendy had put in it. He, too, had not been immune to all of this (the pregnancy thing aside) - the pair had gotten Seven in on it too in not only getting the picture, but setting it up that his holodeck program for a simple spar was augmented to where he was fighting larger-than-life versions of green-spotted purple dinosaurs. Personally, he thought that Q2 had something to do with that, but had, at the time, laughed so hard it hurt and then raised a little hell on the dinosaurs, which was the subject of the photo. "Are you two going to be okay?"

Wendy nodded, smiling slightly, while B'eth pouted, "Yes, we will, but things are going to be so DULL on Vulcan - a warrior should be in action, not sitting on her backside waiting for something to happen."

He sighed; if anything, B'eth was even worse than Faith with her jitters when she got bored, "B'eth, don't go looking for trouble if you're going to be Starfleet - it will find you." He grabbed the bag, pushed the photos and some few things on top before closing it, "So, are you two going to stay out of trouble while I'm gone?"

Wendy arched a dark eyebrow, "Shouldn't we be asking you that?"

He shrugged, "Point - so, are you, because I will."

"We'll try."

He snorted, "No, do not try - do, or do not, there is no try." They both gave him an odd look and he sighed, "Old saying where I come from." They walked out of the room and towards the transporter pads, something he wasn't all too keen on - your body was broken down into energy, a whole bunch of ones and zeros, beamed along subspace to another transporter, turned back into energy and then put back together in all under five seconds. It was irrational, as transporter accidents were so low that it wasn't even funny, something like one in one hundred thousand, and even then it wasn't anything major, with one in five hundred thousand that was actually dangerous, but still, he liked all of his parts and pieces right where they were, thank you very much, and the fact that he was putting his life and limbs in the hands of someone else was quite unnerving. In minutes they ere at the starport and going to their respective ships - Wendy was the first to leave and after a tearfully long goodbye and promises of writing, she was on her way to Vulcan where B'eth would meet her later after visiting her uncle in the Dryad system. B'eth's own goodbye was short and sweet, but no less easy as she shot the occasional look over her shoulder, leaving him alone.

"Well, son, what do you think of school so far?" Okay, so not so alone.

"Not too bad, father - maybe I won't have to blow this one up too." He looked over at Q, who was smiling, "So, how're things?"

"Not bad - your mother, Q, is pregnant again, with a little girl this time."

Xander smiled, "Good. So, is there anything I need to know about with this trip, or is it just the routine stuff?"

"No, though I would ask you not to react when you see your new Captain and her First Officer. Either way, I am just here to see you off and wish you good luck on your new journey - I am sure it will be informative." With that, Q flashed away and Xander felt his stomach drop to the soles of his shoes - he was up to something and when that was a possibility, he generally kept himself either armed or heavily medicated.

Shaking it off, he went to where he was supposed to go and looked around for the docking berth - when he found it he was shocked to see perhaps the best ass he had ever been graced with seeing in a pair of leather pants, bending over to check something in a bag, which then straightened and showed that the person, a female, was wearing a vest over a sleeveless shirt, wore a belt on her waist that had numerous pouches and even a holster for a gun, her hair was dark and went down to her mid-back, and her skin was somewhat creamy. Next to her, dressed much the same, was another woman, though shorter with a bad bottle-job on her now-blonde locks, with creamy skin of a lighter nature and … they were both looking at him.

"Yes, may we help you?"

"Um, yeah, sorry - I was looking for berthing 64? I'm supposed to meet a Captain Jennifer Davis and her XO, Liz Craig?"

The dark-haired woman smiled, "You must be Xander, then - B'elana has told me a great deal about you. I am Captain Davis, but please, call me Jenny. This is Liz, my first officer."

"Hi-ya, Xand!" He blanched as his might caught up with his hormones with the name - he cropped the dark hair and put her in the skirt and he realized who he was looking at with the captain and the XO … Jenny Calendar and Buffy Summers. "I hope we become REAL good friends on this little voyage."

AN: Alright, here’s a part of my new story – this is already written to the third chapter, so wait for it and they’ll all be there. From here on out it's going to be about a year to a chapter, so postings will be spaced out. R&R, please, AR.
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