A/N: Sorry for the delay, this one just isn't writing as quickly as I thought it would.
Later that first night, room-mate number three still hadn't arrived, but a clean-cut freshman named Jack Neillson had joined them for pizza at a place near to campus. Cassie apparently knew him from high school, and although she had a year on him, he seemed to be able to boss her around.
"So, Summers, why did you choose the Air Force?" Jack asked. He seemed unable to say Buffy without snickering, so they settled on last names instead.
"I like working out and helping people. Saving the world doesn't hurt, either," Buffy answered.
"I doubt that's going to happen very often in the reserves," Jack replied, dryly. "Saving the world, I mean."
Cassie giggled a little, shaking her head.
"What?" Buffy asked.
"Nothing," Cassie said, innocently. "I hear the planetarium's going to have an open viewing on their big scope tomorrow night. You still enjoy astronomy, right, Jack?"
Jack shrugged. "I haven't bothered much with it," he said. "It seems too far away these days. I doubt I'll be visiting the stars any time soon."
"You sound just like your uncle," Cassie said. "He hasn't stopped complaining since he got promoted to general."
"General?" Jack asked. "Who had that crazy idea?"
"Oh, for crying out loud. He can't possibly be able to fill George's shoes."
Cassie shrugged. "Apparently he is, since he got transferred to Washington after a year," she replied. "Things just aren’t the same without the barbecues."
Buffy tried not to sigh. Watching those two banter back and forth about things they didn't elaborate much on made her wonder if that was why Giles always complained about her friends' butchery of the English language.
"Problem, Summers?" Jack asked, noting her expression.
"I just feel like I'm on the outside with you two. There's so much you share that I don't even know where to start with asking. I mean, astronomy? I would have thought you'd be more interested in guns and planes or something."
"Oh, I like those, too," Jack said, grinning.
Settling in to classes seemed easier than Buffy had expected. She hated math, but that was a given, and she was enjoying psychology, a class Willow had talked her into over the phone. Cassie was willing to help with any of the areas Buffy had trouble with, and they ended up sharing meals with Jack most of the time.
The inseparability of the trio had caused some interesting rumors to spread, since no observer had quite figured out which of the two pretty girls Jack was chasing, or even if it was both. All three of them found the talk amusing, and had quickly come to an agreement to say as little as possible about the topic. Buffy still missed Xander, Willow, and even Faith, but Jack and Cassie kept her from being lonely, except that she had to hide her nocturnal wanderings.
Being one of the Chosen Two meant that she needed less sleep than an ordinary person, and even if there was less slaying to be done, she still had a drive to be actively doing something. Buffy couldn't wait until the conditioning classes began. But when Jack showed up the night before their first lecture to strategize, as he put it, something sounded fishy.
"Cassie said she's driving down," Buffy said, frowning. "I thought I'd get a ride with her."
"If you want, but I've got something better. I'm sure Cass won't mind dropping us off on the way," Jack said, a glint in his eye.
"On the way where?" Cassie asked, walking in with a couple books under one arm.
"Summers just told me you're driving to Boulder. I figured you could drop us off so I don't have to worry about finding a parking spot at the field," Jack replied.
"You're taking Dolly?" Cassie asked, incredulous.
"Yes, Cassandra, I'm going to introduce Summers to Dolly."
"Who's Dolly?" Buffy asked, annoyed.
"You'd have to see her to believe me," Jack answered, grinning. "She was a gift for my birthday."
"I don't even want to ask," Buffy groaned.
Buffy was still feeling confused by the whole thing when Cassie turned the SUV she was driving into the airport, and then bypassed the passenger unloading turnoff.
"You did file everything, right, Jack?" Cassie asked, an amused smile on her face only a few shades dimmer than the grin that was on his.
"I wouldn't want us held up, now, would I? All we have left is the ground check and we're off."
Buffy's frown deepened as they pulled in beside a small, dilapidated-looking building with a handful of spaces in front. "Why are we out here?" she said, as she followed their lead and got out of the vehicle.
"Just picking up some paperwork for the final check," Jack said, almost bouncing.
"I'm missing something, aren't I?" Buffy asked.
"Hey, he only let me go up with her once," Cassie said, shrugging. "And we've known each other as long as I've been in the States."
"Hey! I've flown with you more than that!" Jack retorted.
"Not with Dolly, you haven't. Just the once when you got her, because Sam was in Nevada with that research project," she said.
"Will one of you quit being coy and just tell me what's going on?" Buffy said, exasperated.
Jack and Cassie exchanged a look. "I think you're better off seeing for yourself," Cassie said, as Jack went into the office to get his paperwork, and Cassie started walking off towards a set of shapes about a hundred yards off.
As it turned out, Dolly was an airplane. It was very obviously named Dolly because the name was elegantly painted on the side of the plane just in front of the door, along with a rather odd-looking female form.
"Is that supposed to be…"
"A sheep," Cassie said, nodding. "Jack's uncle has a rather odd sense of humor. He named her."
"So going with Dolly means?"
"You get to fly to Boulder. Denver, actually, since the Boulder airfield isn't long enough for a jet and it costs a lot more to land there. But it still cuts the time in half compared to driving."
"Then why are you driving?"
"I'm not much for flying."
"But you're joining the Air Force."
"My mom was Air Force, Jack's going into the Force, why shouldn't I? You don't have to be a pilot, or anything. I'm pre-med, remember?"
"So what do you want to do?"
"I'd like to be a doctor, maybe someday my mom's old post at NORAD. She was the CMO with Sam, Colonel Carter's project."
"The radar stuff?"
"Yeah, she's been working there for years. Pretty much since the project began. Her, Jack, and a couple other guys. The General Jack, I mean, not ours."
"Weird. But then, I don't know what I want to do, after, I mean. I'm not a math whiz like Willow, or anything. I just want to do something different."
"Well, you've got a few years, and Sam's pretty good at explaining, if you need it."
The two girls were still talking as Jack came up with a clipboard, and began strolling around the base of the sleek jet, making notes the whole way.
"I didn't know Jack was a pilot, he never said anything," Buffy commented.
"I don't like people asking me for rides," Jack called over. "Why should I let them know I have a plane?"
The two girls were still laughing when Jack finished his checks and opened the cockpit door. "Attention passengers, Citation tango-six-niner to Denver is now boarding," Jack said, standing at the top of the stairs. "You coming, Summers?"
End Act One