Shopping and More
Faith and Xander were headed towards the cafeteria, both in full morning grumpiness. Faith wanted protein and Xander was dying for coffee. The session yesterday with Daniel had pulled out his brain cells. He still was not certain how to handle some one treating him as if he might have something useful to say. Normally he was better in the morning, but all night long he had strange dreams, he could not quite remember, though he was exhausted as if he had been running or chasing things all night long.
They both stumbled into the hall, mornings were still difficult for Faith, though Xander was just desperate for coffee to try and counteract the rough night he had. He ran into Daniel at the coffee pot and Daniel recognized a brother caffeine addict. Silently he handed Xander a mug of coffee, shuddering a bit as Xander added sugar to it, and nodding in response to Xander’s muttered “bless you.” as Xander poured the coffee down his throat.
Daniel followed them back to their table, blinking a bit at the large amount of food Faith had piled on her plate, mostly meats and eggs, and Xander’s’ slightly smaller amount.
Mitchell came over sitting down next to them, with his own tray. Daniel looked up and nodded. “Better double the coffee rations for off world trips, got another caffeine addict on your team.” Daniel jerked his head towards Xander who was working on his second cup off coffee.
“So I see, so noted.” Mentally Cameron increased the already doubled coffee allotment for away missions and made a note to include more chocolate, he was pretty damn sure both Faith and Xander were junk food whores.
Breakfast was continued in silence until everyone looked much more awake. Cameron looked around at the relatively empty chow hall, as it was Saturday, and grinned. “So, are you two ready for a trip into town to make this place a little more homey?”
“OH Hell yes.” Responded Faith who was polishing off her plate of food. “I can’t believe that I actually am getting a real paycheck, but trust me, there is definitely some stuff I want to buy.”
Xander nodded with enthusiasm now that he was fully caffeinated. “Hey Mitchell do you know if I can put an X-box in my room?” Trying to not look hopeful.
Cameron shrugged “As far as I know the only thing you can’t have in your rooms are drugs or alcohol, and they do frown on any level of bass that makes the doors rattle.” Giving Xander a wink.
Xander started dancing in his seat “I get and x-box, I get an X-box… “ He grinned at the people looking at him curiously. “Just wait… I am going to introduce Teal’c to Halo.” Grinning as he got up and took his tray away.
Cameron paused and paled, “You wouldn’t…. “ Looking at Xander’s face. “you would… oh god… “
Xander just grinned and snarked “Figure a little NHL, some Halo, maybe a bit of MechWarrior, and Teal’c will never be the same.”
Cameron shook his head in horror and Daniel snickered “Wait until I tell Jack, he is going to kill you Xander.”
Vala strolled up to them as they walked down the hall towards the quarters so that Xander and Faith could get the stuff they needed to open up accounts. Faith was still jazzed with her new id, Faith Revere. Her eyes lit up as she saw Vala in her trade mark leather outfit. “Vala I was looking for you. You wanna come with, and show me where you get such killer threads?”
The group behind her went quiet, and Vala froze for a moment, pasting a patently fake smile on her face. “Sorry darling, I would just love to go, I am so afraid that I am needed desperately on base. But if I ever get clearance, I would love to take you to where I shop; you at least would appreciate the quality of the merchandise.” With a smile that looked like it hurt it was so bright, she turned and sailed down the hall, the skirt whipping behind her.
Faith blinked then crossed her arms and slowly turned to the quiet group behind her. Xander was just as confused and turned to look at Daniel and Cameron standing there, looking like they had eaten something awful, but could not spit it out because of where they were. “Okay spill it, what the hell was that about?”
Daniel huffed glaring with a surprising amount of anger at the retreating back of Vala. Then he began counting off on his fingers as he talked. “First she use to be a Goa’uld and did horrible things as one, and then once the Goa’uld was removed she still pretended to be Qetesh, ruling over a planet to save her own skin. Then she tricks us, by slapping a type of linking bracelets onto me, linking her to me so that we are forced to bring her on a search with us for a map she had, all because she wanted the possible loot that might be there. Then after the bracelets are removed the link does not end, so we have to go earn favors from all these various people she has cheated or tricked to find out the reason the effect did not end. The cause was a memory device we BOTH had to use because of the bracelets that caused a surge. Not only did she die while we were in the memories because she could not keep her mouth shut, we caught the attention of the Ori. Then once back here, she STILL has to stay near me until the blasted link wears off. Then we go back to the planet were she was Qetesh, we made her tell them who she was and try to convince the people the Ori are evil and she failed, ending up standing trial for her past crimes. So she has proven she is an untrustworthy, lying, sneaky, conniving excuse for a human.” In full rant Daniel grumbled and muttered under his breath in another language, still about Vala.
Faith leaned over to Xander still annoyed and whispered “Is he still muttering?”
“Yeah Sumerian, I think.” Wander was watching Daniel with a suddenly piercing eye. Raising his voice so Daniel and Cameron could hear him, Xander spoke. “So let me get this right, she was a host of one of the snake thingies, which makes her a victim, and apparently the way she survived after having the snake removed involved her being sneaky, distrustful, and willing to do anything to survive. She provides a map to you, and obviously you were going to not include her, even though it was her map, so she forced you to bring her, by the use of these linking bracelets. Then she agrees to use a memory device with you, because you wanted to use it regardless of the possible consequences to her, so she agreed. Then while in said device, in a place she had no training for, she makes a mistake and ends up dying. Then because her own personality came through the Ori noticed and that was her fault. Then when you go back to where she was ruler, where she pretended to still be this snake KT something, she was forced to tell them the truth about her charade, and as a result she was put on trial. So she is now stuck here on a planet with people she doesn’t know, with no friends, and her captors treat her as an inconvenience because of her past, one that I doubt she willingly chose, and you wonder why she is not upfront and honest? Hmmm… ” Xander stood there arms crossed, watching the two men. “I would be a sneaky, lying, conniving bitch if I was being treated as not only a prisoner but had my efforts discounted at every turn.”
Cameron and Daniel both just looked at Xander jaws dropped, and slowly what he had said filtered through and they both began to blush. Red faced and ashamed Daniel stammered back “Hey she is not a prisoner….she just can’t go anywhere.” His voice trailed off at that, and he looked at Cameron. “We can be assholes can’t we?”
“Yep. Come on Dannyboy, what is the worst that can happen? Even prisoners get phone call privileges, lets take her shopping, we at least owe her that when we didn’t let her keep any of Arthur’s hoard.”
Daniel sighed “She drives me nuts though.” He commented through gritted teeth.
Xander chuckled then started to laugh as he turned and started walking down the hall. “She only does that because you like each other, otherwise you would never get that upset. Go get her and let’s go spend some money.”
Fifteen minutes later a glowing and excited Vala, dressed a little more conservatively, was walking down the hall arm in arm with Faith comparing the values of different types of leather, both for fun and business. The men trailed behind, torn between watching the very nice set of asses in front of them, and trying very hard to not listen to the women compare the chafing qualities of different grades of leather.
The banking stuff was easy and routine, then they hit the mall. Vala stood there for a long moment. Then quietly said “This is your shopping center?”
Faith shrugged “Yeah.. a bit on the small side, you should see the Mall of the Americas. Now that place is impressive.”
Vala stood there looking around at the two levels and the various stores surrounding them, and slowly her smile grew, until it was a wicked daring smile that had Daniel stepping backwards with a hand protecting his wallet. “Oh… this is gonna be fun.”
“Dear lord we have created a monster.” Whispered Xander who saw death in both women’s eyes as they each grabbed one of his arms, and started dragging him.
“Come on Xanman we are going to need someone to carry our stuff.” Announced Faith as she and Vala made a bee line to the shoe store first.
Xander looked back over his shoulder to Daniel and Cameron standing there with relieved looks on their faces for having escaped. “Help me?” He whimpered looking at them pleadingly.
They both waved to him, “Enjoy.” Remarked Cameron and he and Daniel both turned around and headed to the Media Store.
“Traitors” muttered Xander as he gave into his fate. “Okay ladies you have your beast of burden, but I do get to get some stuff for myself, and the X-box, k? Please?” Almost begging.
“Hmmm… I guess we could be nice and let him buy a few things for himself, after all, he has to live down there in that lightless place also…Okay Xan we will be nice to you, but only after we hit our stores.” Faith teased him, eyes lighting up with a gleam as she pointed to the first store they were going to hit, Fredericks of Hollywood.
Xander paled as he saw this “The gods truly do hate me.” Whimpering softly as he was dragged to his fate.
Three hours later Cameron and Daniel were sitting in a Starbucks drinking a coffee, Daniel with a book in front of him, and Cameron with a Gameboy. Their shopping had taken them may an hour, and after talking a little bit they were both spending the time following their own pursuits. Daniel glanced up to see two women, dressed in skin tight leather, and long coats walking towards him. It was not until he saw Xander trailing miserably behind them, loaded down with packages, that he realized it was Vala and Faith.
“Holy Moly. Damn they look good.” Daniel muttered. Their faces had exotic make up on them, clothes that were glove like, arrogance and self esteem that poured off of them.
Cameron looked up at Daniels comment and his jaw dropped. “damn.” He whispered, looking them over.
Vala walked straight up to them and pulling out Daniel’s chair straddled his lap. “Like what you see Dr. Jackson?” She drawled soft and low in his ear.
Daniel’s body had an instant reaction to this, regardless of what he said. “Vala please remove yourself from my body, I do not enjoy this sort of public show.” His voice icy.
“Oh really? Funny your body says differently.” Vala ground against his crotch for a moment, then smoothly stood up. “Well boys, my lovely friend Faith here, and I do declare this mall defeated, we have gone through the stores and found a wealth of supplies for ourselves, we are ready to return to our domiciles and have the decorating begin.” She said grandly gesturing wildly, with a truly happy look on her face.
Xander meanwhile had collapsed into a chair. His head laying on his arms on the table. ~those women are dangerous, never seen a battle strategy like that, and it was a battle on the stores, I am exhausted~ He whimpered silently in his mind. A faint though floated through. ~mate look good, smell good~ had him jerking his head up for a moment, but it was too much effort. ~damn telepath, Faith does look good though~ and his mind lapsed back into exhaustion.
Cameron had to fight down a grin at Xander being so exhausted. “What exactly did you two ladies do to him?”
Xander whimpered and looked up to find Vala and Faith grinning. He dropped his head back on the table and started talking. “First it was Fredericks, and they made me give them opinions on the stuff they were looking at, then shoes, again asking my opinions. Then clothes, and make up. Then they dragged me to a men’s store and made me try on cloths and then buy what they wanted to see me in.” Xander whimpered softly, head hitting the table as Cameron and Daniel paled a little at the tortures they had escaped. Xander lifted his head and looked at the ladies pleadingly “Best Buy now please?”
Vala looked at Faith “Well do you think he has earned that right?”
Faith looked at Xander consideringly. “Well he did buy what we told him to, and he did give us honest answers in both Fredericks and the cosmetic sections.” The other two men blanched at that, looking at Xander with more respect. “So I think he deserves Best Buy. Besides which I want an mp3 player and some music.” A grin flashing across her face.
Vala frowned “What is a mp3 player?” Both Cameron and Daniel dropped their heads to the table and softly thudded them on the table. Xander lifted his head and looked at them.
“Oh no… I have NO sympathy, you traitors abandoned me, so you can bet I am going to introduce Vala to Bloodhound Gang, Linkin’ Park, AC/DC, and anything else I can think of. And then… “ He stopped and smiled a very scary smile. “I will introduce her to iTunes and set it up with one of YOUR credit cards.” Standing up slowly. “Shall we go ladies? They can carry the bags.” Offering an arm to each woman, who gladly took it, they walked out with Vala turning her head to call back.
“Come on boys, bring the packages, I can’t wait to hear this Linkin’ Park Xander was talking about.”
By the time they got out of Best Buy two hours later, Xander had his X-box and 4 games, but Faith and Vala were close as could be. They both got iPods, and Xander had exposed Vala to every type of music, even country. Vala had an instant liking to Linkin’ Park, Meatloaf, Evanescence, and Wagner. The ride home, she rode upfront with Daniel and Cameron talking excitedly about the lyrics and music of every song, while Xander and Faith rode in the back trying to not laugh.
When they got back, Xander collapsed on the bed, bags around him, and the next morning he woke to find he had not even managed to get out of his clothes. He spent the morning setting up the X-box and other things he got, even taking the time to hang up the new clothes. Both Vala and Faith said his shirts were torture and they were not putting up with it, so they had re-styled him. By the point they got him to the men’s store, he was so weak he would have agreed to anything to get it over with, so his resistance was less than it normally would have been.
Finally his room was set up, and Xander felt at home for the first time ever. The basement had been something he tolerated, the apartment had been more for Anya than him, but this, this was his and he smiled. Xander then started planning on the introduction of Teal’c and the X-box. Though both would have to wait until his skills were freshened up, and Teal’c came back from visiting the Jaffa council.
Xander and Faith fell into their daily routines of training, procedures and reading incident reports, and then off to their taskmasters. Xander having received the CD from Willow deposited it in Daniel’s hands and correspondingly spent the next month explaining stuff to him and detailing various encounters with different demons. Daniel was by turns excited and horrified. Xander finally introduced him to daemon.net one Friday afternoon, then ran like hell to avoid hours of questioning, grabbing Faith and Vala, and they took off to see a movie in town. Vala and Faith were fast becoming friends. Faith understanding Vala’s attitude of “anything is fine if I survive” and Vala loving Faiths outlook on life “fuck ‘em”, so together they were something to be reckoned with. Xander just watched and learned, absorbing information like crazy. Emails were sent back and forth between Dawn, Willow, Buffy and Xander, and they all worked on keeping their friendship, but they could all tell Xander was happier than he had been for a very long time.
Faith was progressing well in her studies and bets were being taken on her GED score much to her embarrassed delight. She would be able to take the test in about a month. Once her GED was finished, their final “graduation” exercise was planned, after that off world missions would begin.
Around this time tensions in SGC were getting higher and higher because of the issue with the Ori, until a report of another world colonized by free Jaffa, that was being pressured to convert sent Sam, Teal’c, Daniel, and Vala out on a mission. Xander and Faith waited anxiously for them to get back, trying to concentrate on study and mission logs. Tensions kept ratcheting up, as the Goa’uld was no help. Finally General Landry asked Xander to talk to him.
“We aren’t sure if he is telling the truth or not, maybe you can … perceive the truth.” The General asked, “We don’t have any other options. I know we didn’t want to tip our hand as to your existence, but if he is lying we won’t let him leave anyhow.”
Xander shrugged “Might as well see what I can do.”
Walking into the room he was struck by the presence of the snake in the man, and the black oiliness that seemed to surround the man. It took Xander a minute to realize no one else saw this but him. Settling down in a chair, far away from the man gorging on food, he looked at him carefully, seeing that the Goa’uld was much more aware of him than he let on.
“So you have come to ask me more questions, what can I tell you, the Ori must be stopped.” Nerus said, stuffing his face with food.
Xander blinked as the aura flicked. “Bullshit, you don’t want them stopped, you want them to succeed.”
Nerus choked a little looking at him. “Nonsense my dear boy, why would I want them to succeed, I told you where they were so that your people could stop them.”
Again that flickering and Xander smiled, it was cold and cruel, Nerus flinched a little when he saw it. “No you told us so our ships would go there, you want them there. Why?”
Nerus stopped eating. “Why would I want that, of course I want them stopped, why else would I send you to where they are, to try and save the planet of course.” He grabbed a glass of water and gulped it.
Xander barely glanced, he could see the truth, and part of it scared him, but the aura flickered when he lied and he could almost know which words were the lie. “No, you want them there, having them there helps the Ori, I think your feast is over.” Xander stood up and strode out, leaving a confused and suddenly scared Goa’uld sitting there.
“General, he is a plant, the Ori want our ships there, they need them for something. You have to call them back now, it is the key to some sort of plan the Ori have.” His fiddling with the situation, pulling and placing facts with suppositions, the solider helping prodding, offering alternate scenarios so fast Xander only was conscious of pieces falling into place. “The ships… weapons… god they need something from the weapons.”
Landry paled, and ordered a communication to the Daedaelus. Sam’s voice came on the line, but they were too late. “General, the energy from our weapons has just fueled what they are doing, we think they are creating a portal from the energy the destruction of the planet will cause. We are trying to stop them. Colonel Carter out.”
Xander flinched “Too late, we were too late.”
A grim smile on the General’s face. “You can’t blame yourself Xander, you figured it out in minutes, I should have trusted your skills long ago, I was wrong. I won’t make that mistake again.”
The next few hours were hectic, but finally they received word that the team, their friends had stopped the Ori. But even in the message they knew something was wrong. It took a week for the Daedaleus to return to earth, and when Cameron, Sam, Teal’c, and Daniel walked in, Xander knew what was wrong.
“Hey guys, welcome back, glad to see you are okay. So… where’s Vala?” Asked Faith, trying to be bright and perky, but she knew something was wrong.
Daniel was the one who replied, having a hard time looking at Faith or Xander. “She didn’t make it, she sacrificed herself to prevent the Ori from creating a giant stargate.”
Faith was quiet for a long moment, then a fake smile was pasted on her face. “I see… well we knew this job had risks. Glad to see the rest of you are five by five. Talk to you later.” She turned and walked out of the room.
Xander glanced at her and them. “She is really dead?”
“Yes” “Maybe” “Possibly” Were the answers he got. He looked at them for a long moment, then sighed “So she stopped but them, but in such a manner that you have no proof of her death or life?”
“Basically” Replied Daniel looking up at Xander with sorrow in his eyes.
“I see. See you guys in the morning.” With that he turned and went after Faith. Xander found her laying on her bed, eyes closed, face blank, but her hands were curled into fists, showing how very upset she was.
“Hey gorgeous.” Xander said softly, sitting down on the bed next to her.
Faith opened eyes glistening with tears. “I liked her. She was like one of my first friends, who liked me for me, not what I could do or what I was. And I have lost her already.”
“Oh Faith, listen to me. Yes she might be dead. But I have seen Slayers be resurrected three months after death, I have seen people wake up from comas, I have watched a glowing ball of energy become a beautiful young woman. Let’s give Vala the benefit of the doubt until we have her ashes in our hand. Okay?” Xander replied softly, laying down next to Faith and gently pulling her into his arms.
Faith resisted for a moment then gave in, relaxing in his arms and crying, for the lost of a friend she never expected and the knowledge someone cared enough to hold her. They lay there for a long time, Xander doing nothing more than holding her and enjoying having her in his arms. His mind was working on the problem with the Ori, but he knew he needed more information.
Finally Xander spoke. “You okay Faith?”
Her muffled voice replied sleepily “Five by five.”
Xander smiled and slowly removed himself from her arms. She murmured a little and curled up, falling asleep. Xander covered her with a blanket, and slipped out the door. The solider in his mind whispered a question ~why does she use a military term for her state of being?~
The next day was rather strange and awkward, but soon enough everyone fell back into the same routine, but for Faith and Xander there was a Vala shaped hole in their lives, one they both wished was not there.
Authors Note: The term “Five by Five” is a military term meaning “loud and clear” it is a radio check process. Honestly it is… ~nods lots~ and I am going to use it to tie things together. And I actually happen to enjoy country music, I could just see Xander gagging at the idea of it. Also, my beta has gone to Europe for two weeks ~mutters bad things about wanting to go too~ so this is unbeta’d. If you see MAJOR errors, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.