Shaking Things Up
(Takes place between Fourth Horseman and thorugh Ripple Effect - season 9 SG-1)
The last two weeks had been busy, still dealing with the ramifications of the plague and then the information Xander had deduced about the Ori. Meditation had been interesting and strangely exhausting, enough so that Xander had started to do it before bed, as he got strange looks if he fell asleep in the middle of the day.
Meditation with his guests was not the relaxing, uplifting experience Willow had always claimed. Once he could easily find his inner space (literally), Soldier would show up, and they would start training. Soldier declined to ever give him a name, saying, that person was long dead and gone, and honestly he wasn’t too sure anymore anyhow. But the training sure seemed real, and in the mindscape Xander suffered broken bones, sprains, cuts, and blows that almost any instructor would have found unacceptable. And it hurt when he got hit, but when he left the meditative state, other than a few bruises and feeling like he had been beaten, he was fine. This toll on his body was a strong argument for falling asleep immediately afterwards and giving him time to rest and heal. That seemed to be part of the hyena’s influence.
Lady found him more in his dreams, she told him it was easier for her to communicate when his fore mind was not as awake, she was more comfortable with the animal part, the one that was part of fight or flight. Her lessons were different and she was just as harsh a teacher as the Soldier was. From her he was learning to track and hunt with a bloody intensity that sometimes disturbed him upon waking. Waking remembering the taste of blood in his mouth was very disturbing. But learning how she saw the world made him regret his body some mornings, though the opposable thumb made up for a lot. As she taught him to hunt and track, she also taught him to craft his mind to create the landscapes for them to roam in, simple at first but over time they were becoming more complex and beautiful.
Soldier took use of this developing skill, prodding and teasing him until he got a recliner and some beer out of it, but no matter what Xander could only create a TV but not the shows on it. In the end the Soldier had to be satisfied with a journal, sketch book, drawing, and writing instruments, Xander could not create anything that was someone else’s creation besides a basic carpentry manual. But that was proof that his guests were separate entities. Soldier could draw, and draw beautifully, enough so that Xander wished he could bring some of the pictures of Lady out with him, they were just stunning.
Slowly the meditation visits became something Xander looked forward to, and often talked to Soldier in his head, understanding the military now more and more to the point that occasionally Soldier was whispering regulations in his head as people walked by, listing all the ones they violated. Faith was getting their share of attention also. While most of Lady’s comments Xander kept to himself as they were rather earthy, however accurate they might be, but that was more of a self defense mechanism after accidentally mentioning to Faith that Lady thought she would make a good breeder. That work out hurt, a lot.
Xander did not realize it, but people around him were seeing changes, and enjoying them greatly, though only Teal’c, Daniel, Faith, Hank, and Carolyn knew why the changes were happening. Cameron was teasing him a lot about the world jetting life suiting him, and Sam was just looking at him funny, but was too busy to worry about it. The biggest change was his relationship with Teal’c. Xander had found someone who understood that sometimes to save you have to kill, something Faith still shied from as a result of her accidental kill many years ago. The understanding Xander gained from having entities inside him, helped him begin to understand why Teal’c missed “junior” and realized that if his visitors ever left he would be less because of it.
Teal’c and Xander spent a lot of time discussing the differences in their mediations. Where Xander actually interacted with his guests, Teal’c had never done more than get vague sensations from Junior as to contentment or distress. Teal’c was fascinated with the difference between Xander’s guests and either the Goa’uld or the Tok’ra. Where the symbotic races tended to overwhelm the host at least periodically Xander so far had not even had that as a possibility, though both Xander and Teal’c suspected Soldier could at least if he really wanted to. But mostly Xander and Teal’c talked, sparred, and slowly realized that this person had the possibility to be the Thousandth Man for each of them.
Life continued on at SGC strangely quiet at the moment, until finally a mission was proposed for both Xander and Faith. This was suppose to be a simple mission, there were no inhabitants on this planet, no life forms bigger than a rabbit, and all they needed to do was go to an old structure, and record the carvings on the wall. Daniel had not yet found the time to go and capture the images, so Xander with his wide smattering of languages and ability to find the oddest things had been selected. Even the General agreed it was an easy mission and just enough to get them some seasoning and stretch their legs. Both of them were glad to get some exercise and get away from the base, tension levels were up in the stratosphere, and by now both Faith and Xander could tell you exactly how far up that was. But by the time the mission was planned, approved, and prepared for, everyone had been saying what an easy trip this was going, to the point that Xander was wired with worry. Too many years of living on the Hellmouth had set off every alarm he had, and he just knew this trip was not going to be good.
The gate whooshed closed behind Xander and Faith and they stood looking out at a few trees dotting a landscape of mostly gently rolling hills and shrubs. They came through the gate on alert, ready for anything. Xander was scanning the landscape with a fierce intensity, and Faith was wired as well, but both of them slowly relaxed a bit as nothing moved, appeared, or even looked the slightest bit threatening. They looked at each other shrugging a bit, and slipping into explore mode as opposed to fight mode. Xander dug out the notes Daniel had handed him.
“It should be about 3 miles North-northeast. We should see a large stone building with Greek style columns in front, mostly of a sandstone material.” Xander folded the notes and looked around. “So ready for a hike?”
“Yep, lets get going, pirate mine.” Faith grinned at him and winked. She had been flirting with him more and more lately, and every time Xander just got butterflies of absolute delight, but he still didn’t know how to respond exactly, but he was trying.
“Of course, me’lassie, lets get this crew on road, argh.” Snickering as she stared at him, then she started laughing. They set off on an easy walk across the open area. It was a long walk across softly rolling hills, and both of them kept an ear and eye on their surroundings. Neither talked much as they had reach a point where just being around the other made them happy. Not much progress on the relationship front, but neither was complaining, just having someone to trust and accept them was a far cry from what they had hoped for.
The came over a slight crest in the hill, and expected to see the building they were looking for but nothing was there. Faith went on alert and Xander checked his notes. “No we are exactly where we should be, but the building is not. Lets go down and check.”
Moving slowly looking for traps or mines, they reached the bottom of the small valley. The lessons the Hyena had been teaching him kicked in and he knelt fingering the ground. After looking around, with Faith patiently waiting, watching for threats from the surrounding area Xander stood up. “You can relax Faith, I know what happened.”
She lowered he gun and looked at him with a smirk “Okay great Swami, tell us the story.”
Xander stuck out his tongue. “Not much, just a really big earthquake that looks like it completely wiped out the building. I found under the layer of dirt, remains of some of the stone, but the rest just disappeared into the earth. It would also explain why there are so few trees, and mostly grass, that grows quick, and trees take a while. I suspect this place is very active with the whole ground shaking thing.”
As he spoke the ground rumbled and both of them sighed waiting for the tremor to pass. “See I knew growing up in California would eventually have a positive effect… I can ignore tremors with the best of them.”
This time Faith stuck out her tongue, but pulled away easily as he tried to grab it. “So back to the gate to tell them of the no luckness of this place?”
“Yep.. so much for our mission. But you realize now we will never get Daniel off a planet until he has filmed every scrap of everything, to avoid this ever happening again?”
Faith winced “Remind me to start packing extra batteries and memory chips for the cameras, might prevent problems.”
Xander snorted as they started walking back. “Yeah, you know he is gonna whine for at least a week about missing this information.”
“Hmm. I say we spike his coffee with Gringik blood, you know the one that makes you unable to be depressed for more than 30 seconds, every time he does.”
Xander started to laugh. “That would be funny.. but if Dr. Lam got wind of it, she would kill us.”
Faith sighed “Um…. Feed him decaf?”
A choked reply “Hell no, I don’t want to suffer that much.. though the temptation of switching his travel supplies next time he goes off world is very tempting.”
A look from Faith “Are you nuts, Sam would kill us, then gives us to Cameron, then Teal’c would take his turn, and she might be willing to resurrect us, just to kill us again if we did that to her.”
Xander thought that over and paled a bit then brighten “But only if she could prove we did.”
“Yeah like anyone else would dare.”
“True.. okay.. next time we leave base for a week, maybe to visit Slayer Central, we switch his private supply, he should be back on regular by the time we get back.”
Faith thought “Yeah that might work, and we would be too far away, with lots of Slayers to protect us, if they came after us.”
“Yep… win win…” Xander ignored the laughter in his head from Soldier at the thought of Danny without caffeinated coffee for a week.
The walk back to the gate was full of teasing and idle conversation, now that both of them were reassured there was nothing on this world to worry about. When they got to the DHD they dialed the symbol set they now new better than their social security numbers. It got through six chevrons, and then closed down at the seventh.
Faith and Xander looked at each other confused and worried. They dialed home again, and the same thing happened. Now really worried they kept trying, after a half hour Xander called it quits. “Well it looks like we are here for a while, something is obviously going on at the base, but right now we can’t get through, so lets find a camp and make ourselves comfortable, we will try every hour.”
Faith nodded, and quickly pulled out a blanket from her pack, and set it up in the shadow of the gate. They, being hell mouth trained, had packed as if they might have to stay there a week, so rations and what not were not an issue.
“So whadda ya think is going on?” asked Faith, occupying herself with setting up a simple camp.
Xander shrugged having laid out his share of supplies. “I don’t know, maybe a gate malfunction or something. But makes me feel better that Sam is on that side, you know she will get it fixed.”
“True.. woman reminds me of Red all too often, but a bit less scary.”
Xander snorted a bit. “Just funny to hear people calling Willow scary, I always see her in my minds eye crying and holding a broken crayon. But she was pretty damn scary on that mountain top.” A strange look in his eyes, before he focused on something else.
Faith tilted her head “You know I don’t think I ever heard that whole story. And I don’t think anyone really knows how you stopped her.”
Xander ducked his head, avoiding looking at her, but he did not fall silent. “Yeah.. never seemed like I needed to say what happened, just that I stopped her… I told her fine she could destroy the world, but she had to kill me first.. I had earned it, I loved her, so I had to be the first to die. The darkness in her wanted to, but in the end she couldn’t.” Another odd shrug. “So she stopped.”
Fatih looked at him eyes wide, “You stood up to Red in full black witchy mode, and told her she had to kill you first? Damn Xan you are either the bravest man I have ever met or the craziest.” Faith was truly shocked, Dark Willow was enough to make her run for the hills, and she had heard about she had done to the guy that killed Tara, it was enough to make her pale.
Xander shrugged “Just was, hated to see her hurting like that.” He then began to focus on making some food, clearly uncomfortable with the subject.
Faith just sat there stunned and the only thought she had was ~someday I hope someone loves me enough to die because I am hurting~ Finally she shook it off and helped with camp, and the conversation switched to casual things like music and movies.
The night passed quietly with Xander testing the gate every hour, but they were still unable to connect. The next morning Faith stretched and glanced Xander.
“Wanna go for a run around the gate?”
Xander stood cracking as he did so “Sure.” He stripped to a shirt, BDU’s, knife, and pistol. Faith was in about the same, and then they started a nice easy run, in a large circle around the gate.
They had just completed their third lap with Xander breathing a little hard, but Faith not even sweating, when the ground shook under their feet, and both of them were knocked off balance as the ground shook and swayed.
Xander hit his head as he fell and was disoriented for a few moments, just trying to hold on, then the shaking subsided, and he shook his head, trying to clear the haze of pain, and looked around.
Faith was gone.
Adrenaline rushed through his system, and he was up and moving before he even thought about it, looking for her, scanning the area. Over to his right, where she had been there was a large crack in the earth, he flung himself down on the edge and looked down, but all he could see was darkness. “FAITH!” Xander yelled, listening carefully, but he could see nothing. Up and moving again at full speed back to their camp, he grabbed a flashlight and rope and was headed back to the crevasse.
Again laying on the ground, he shined the light down into the broken earth, and there at the bottom about a hundred feet, lay Faith. Dirt covering her, and from the angle of one of her legs he figured it was badly broken. Rage not his surged through him ~mate, mate hurt, rescue!!~ came a demand from Lady, growls escaping him as her rage threatened to overwhelm him. “NO.. stop it!” He shouted, startling all three of them. “I can’t be angry and pull this off, lend me strength, but save the rage for when she is safe.” In the back of his mind he heard a soft growl of acquiescence and the rage faded to a mix worry, fear, and anger from all three of them .
Xander slipped into a zone, working fast, grabbing his rope, using the DHD as an anchor, then grabbing Faith’s rope to extend the length, he snapped on a carabineer, and quickly set up a basic loop so he could get down to her. Soldier fed the knowledge and knots he needed to make this work into his hands almost seamlessly, so that Xander barely had to think about what he was doing. Soon enough, but an eternity to the three, Xander was slowly making his way down the crevasse. Each time he touched the walls more dirt fell down on Faith, until he wanted to scream and just jump down, but he knew he could not afford to get hurt also.
Finally after a lifetime, though it took only five minutes, he was at her side. Her left leg was very badly broken, and as much as he hated it, he knew he had to set it quickly before Slayer healing, healed it broken. He looked her over quickly and she had a large knot on the back of her head. Flashing the light into her eyes, both pupils were the same size, and reactive, so he allowed himself to hope that she was simply unconscious, not bleeding from skull trauma in her head. He blessed the first aid training they had been required to take and mentally made a decision to get his EMT certification, he was too scared she might need it someday not too, and the brass would be delighted.
“Faith baby, I have to set your leg, okay? I know it is going to hurt, but I have to do it now.” Talking to her softly soothingly, even though in the back of his mind he heard Lady wanting to attack, kill. But there was nothing here to rend. Taking a deep breath, and placing the broken leg between his legs, and bracing his legs in her crotch and hip, he kept talking softly. “Okay baby this is going to hurt, and I am so sorry.” He yanked hard, pulling the broken bone back into the torn flesh, and feeling it almost snap together like a puzzle piece.
Faith roused screaming, then mercifully slipped back into the darkness that claimed her.
Xander was fighting to just to keep hold of everything, and quickly tied and splinted her leg with her knife, trusting the single splint would hold until they both got up top. He then picked her up, swinging her onto his back, and quickly tying her legs around his waist, and her hands around him, one arm under his, the other over his shoulder. He knew this was going to be hard, but it never even occurred to him that he would not succeed.
Grabbing a firm hand on the rope, he began to climb, the dead weight of Faith pulling at him. “Don’t worry baby, I’ll get you out of here, and home to Stargate Command, they will fix you right up. Just hold on baby.” Xander did not even realize the amount of love and tenderness in his voice as he talked to her, or even what he was revealing as he fought to climb the rope.
The earth was giving way, and there had been a few minor tremors that made him lose his footing, but not once did Faith ever hit the wall. Skin ripped off his palms as he climbed, his grip so tight on the rope, the two voices in his head soothing him, keeping him focused on the climb, and his reassurance to Faith. None of them realized when their words started coming out of Xander as all of them focused on the climb. “Chin up lass, we will get you out of here, plan on keeping a warrior like you around a while, who knows the kid might even marry you someday, he is already in loved with you. Come on baby, we are almost there, then I can check you out, you will be okay I know it Faith. You good mate, you stick with him, provide strong pups, you too strong, this not hurt you, just slow you down short while.” Speech patterns weaving in and out as Xander fought with exhaustion and strain to get up a wall crumbling around him, the tremors showering him with debris from above.
But finally 45 minutes after he had started, he made it to the top. Quickly untying Faith, he carried her to their camp near the Star Gate, which seemed to be built on a granite base as it had not even moved. Laying her out tenderly, he did a thorough scan on her. Unconscious with a large knot on her head, broken leg, a few deep gashes that he cleaned carefully, but otherwise she seemed fine, if she would just wake up. Once he was sure she was stable, he tried the gate again, still the seventh chevron would not lock.
Locking his jaw and resisting the temptation to rip the DHD apart with his bare hands, he went back to Faith and rested her head in his lap. “Hey gorgeous, it’s going to be all right, we all know Slayers can’t get put down for long, guess you just needed a little break huh? It’ll be just fine, and soon you will be back to torturing all the men with your beauty. Please be okay Faith, I really don’t want to lose you when I just found you.”
Xander sat there for a very long time, stroking her hair, monitoring her temperature and listening for any sound that said she was awakening. He rambled to her quietly in a soft soothing voice, almost not aware of what he was saying.
“You know I think I feel for you the first time I saw you, walking in those leather pants, all big and bad, and determined to not let anyone see past that image. Then you pulled me in and rode me, first time I had ever had sex, I was so nervous, I could barely touch you, for fear you would disappear. Then you threw me out… you wouldn’t believe for how long I thought it was cause I’d sucked in bed. Took me a long time to realize that was how you protected your self… heck I don’t think I realized that until I saw you with Robin, how hard you had to fight to not just brush off his touches. I’d wanted you to be happy, even if I didn’t like him. But I’m so glad you are here with me…. Getting to know Faith Revere has been a joy I ne’er thought to have, and falling in love with you was something I never expected. Hell when I offered, I just wanted you to have a chance, the chance we gave everyone else. Then when I found out how young you were the night we were together I almost shot myself, I should’ve known… but you were so beautiful and self-confident it never even occurred to me to ask. I think that’s what almost drove me to do something stupid, here was this beautiful girl, took me in her, and.. I didn’t even notice something was wrong enough to ask why.. what did she see in me… didn’t bother to find out your age, last name, anything. God I’ll always hate myself for that. I want to spend a lifetime assuring you how smart, gorgeous, drop dead sexy you’ve always been. I want you to feel safe enough to be Faith, not just the kick ass Slayer I know you can be. Give me a chance to make you at least give me another chance.” His voice low and constant, just rambling as he talked to her. Even Willow may have been surprised at all he revealed, but Xander was still trying to figure out how to get them the hell home with out the Stargate. Part of his mind focused on subspace communicators, when he realized he still had the amulet on. He was starting to reach for it when Faith’s head moved and a mumbled pain filled voice spoke.
“too late, already fell love w’you…” She was groggy and slowly reached up to touch her head, but was prevented by Xanders’ yelp of joy.
“You’re awake!” Followed by a hard bruising kiss before he pulled away, blushing. “Sorry.. just glad you’re okay.”
A soft snort though she still hurt “only thing to ‘polgize for not giving me time t’kiss ya back.” Her Boston accent thicker than normal, and all she could see was the blinding smile of joy on Xanders face, which slowly faded.
“Wait a mo… did.. did you say you were in love with mE?” His voice rising to a slight screech as the voices in his head went insane with laughter.
“Ow… loud bad.. yes.. but not if’n ya keep yelling while my head’s trying to break open.” Whispered Faith, eyes closed and hand holding her head.
“oops.. yeah.. here.” Reach for the bottle of painkillers and a canteen, giving her both, and watching carefully as she took them. “You okay?”
“Umm.. I think so.. earthquake?” she went to move and gasped in pain as she moved her leg. “Uh… um.. leg broken?”
“Yeah.. a few other nice scrapes, but the leg and head were the worst.” Answered Xander, still watching her closely.
“Still can’t get home huh?”
“Nope.. seems like we get to spend the night.” A bit of worry in his voice.
“What’s wrong.” She caught it immediately and even wounded and tired, she asked.
“I had to set your leg, but if don’t get you back to the doctor soon, your healing might heal it and I don’t know the set is exact. If it heals they will have to re-break it again… and that hurts like hell.”
Faith shrugged “Better pain, than a limp when I run… I’ll deal.”
“K… you go back to sleep, at this point I am sure you don’t have a concussion, so might as well sleep right here.”
“K.. ‘sides I like Xander pillows…” with that Faith faded back into sleep.
Xander sat there for a long time, amazed and full of wonder that she had said anything about loving her, his mind just blank he was so stunned. Finally the Soldier snapped him out of it. ~Kid… you are worth loving.. and she is something special enjoy it.. and don’t let Lady push you into the kids thing too fast… she may want pups.. but right now you two need ta worry ‘bout yerselves…~
Xander nodded, and slowly replaced his leg with his wadded up jacket, and went to the gate to try again, still no luck.
It was late now, so Xander curled up next to Faith, watching over her, and went to sleep.
They were both woken in the wee hours of the morning by the gate coming alive, Xander was up and had a gun trained on the ramp before his eye was fully open, Faith was laying flat guns aimed at the gate, biting her lip from the pain of jarring her leg.
Fingers clenched on the trigger as a form stepped through the gate, then relaxed as both of them recognized Teal’c stepping through, his weapon armed as well. He lowered his gun as he saw the two of them doing the same. “Xander, SlayerFaith, I am glad to see you well.”
Xander holstered his weapon, and snarked “I don’t know about well, but we are alive.” Reaching down to help Faith up, snarling a bit as she bumped her leg. “Sorry gorgeous, but this time I get to carry you.”
Teal’c headed over a trace of worry touching his face. “What attacked you to do so much damage to such a warrior?” Bending to help clean up their sparse camp, watching the area around them.
Faith laughed “Only a lady could lay me low, Teal’c and she was a real bitch.”
Xander started to laugh also, carrying Faith to the ring. “That she was, so tell us what we missed, and you can watch us tell Daniel his building is no more along with everything it had in it.”
Teal’c rose, their bags repacked and in his hands. “Indeed, I shall look forward to the histrionics Daniel will surely produce at that knowledge, and I wish to hear more about the female who took you down.”
Xander dialed the gate and both of them subtly relaxed as this time the seventh chevron engaged. “Lets just say, California needs to quit complaining, they don’t know how easy they got it.” Grinning down at Faith “You ready to go home?”
“I already am.” Replied Faith with a smile leaning her head against his chest as Xander walked into the wormhole.
Teal’c followed behind them with a soft smile “Apparently even warriors can finally see what is in front of them.” And vanished into the event horizon.
Poem: The Thousandth Man by Rudyard Kipling
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.
'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight --
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot -- and after!
Authors Note: Okay to let people know what I am doing. I am going to write one more long chapter and bring everything up to the season 9 finale of SG-1, at which point I am ending the story. I might write a sequel down the road but right now I would like to draw this to a close so I can focus on getting the JLA story done, pulling down and re-writing Life Goes On, and I have another story that I have been playing with I would like to write. So… please no begging, just watch for my other stuff.