"I hate my teachers," Buffy said as she collapsed with a tray full of food into a chair next to Jack. "Why didn't anybody tell me that college took all the worst parts of high school and improved them?"
"On the good side, we're flying again tomorrow," Jack replied. "Besides, it's not that bad. You just have to remember to do exactly what they ask and forget to think. Simple."
"That isn't simple. Running laps is simple."
"Which is how we'll be spending the time between our flight plans, as I understand it," Cassie said. "Hey, Jack, do you think we can go to the mountain and use the range? I'm still working on my proficiencies."
"Sure, I'll give you some pointers. Maybe Sunday?"
"The mountain?" Buffy asked.
"Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base, Summers," Jack said, with a slight smirk, and he reached over and stole the roll from her plate. "Didn't you hear that your ID permits you access to the base for certain activities?"
"So, what, you can drive up and ask to play with their guns?" Buffy asked, frowning. She was reminded of her one time using a rocket launcher, and the results.
"Well, you have to clear it with the range master, and we can't go anywhere they're doing exercises or the like, but yeah. Maybe we'll see Danny or the others."
"Like Sam?" Cassie teased.
Buffy was a little surprised at the power behind the glare Jack shot at Cassie for that remark. "Why the death glare, Neillson?" she asked.
"Jack's had a crush since, well, before I met him," Cassie said, smirking.
"Have not!" Jack protested. "I don't even like scientists."
"Colonel Carter's a scientist?" Buffy asked, a little surprised. The self-assured woman she'd met made her think of her own mother in some ways, but she seemed more like a career soldier than a brain.
"How did you meet Carter?" Jack asked, surprised.
"She showed up while Mom and I were unpacking my stuff."
"Huh," he said thoughtfully. "Anyone else I should know about?"
"Says the guy who was asking me about my singed high school diploma," Buffy retorted.
"What?" Cassie asked. "This I haven't heard."
"Apparently someone told Jack here about my school records, or rather their problematic disappearance. See, Sunnydale High exploded during Graduation, which, as any sane high school senior could tell you, was just icing on the cake."
"Your school exploded? Who did it?"
"Gas leak, or so they say," Jack said, with a tone that clearly stated his incredulity.
"A lot of people died in that explosion," Buffy said, not looking at her friends. "It's not something anyone likes to think about, losing half the graduating class on the final day. I'm glad I had a way to get out of town for a while, even if it means leaving Mom alone."
"You worry about your mom?" Jack asked, surprised.
Cassie punched her friend in the shoulder. "I always worried about Mom when she was late or had to stay on base," she said softly. "Can you really say I was wrong?"
"'M sorry, kiddo," Jack said, almost too softly for Buffy to hear.
"So, either of you any good with the math?" Buffy said, changing the subject. She didn't think any of them really needed to go into losing family stories, or why Sunnydale wasn't safe.
"Bad topic, Summers. Better off with hockey," Jack said.
"I didn't think the season had begun?"
"That doesn't mean there isn't something to talk about."
Getting on base was even easier than Jack and Cassie had made it seem. The airman at the security checkpoint seemed to know Cassie on sight, and reacted with a knowing smile at Jack's introductions. The range was empty, except for a few folks practicing with small arms, and one of the soldiers took a few minutes to make sure they were settled in.
"You ever fired a gun before?" Jack asked.
"A gun, no," Buffy said, shrugging. "I've done archery, fired crossbows, things like that, but nothing that wasn't totally medieval."
"Why the old school toys?"
"Hands on history, Jack."
"Any good at it?"
Buffy shrugged. She didn't really want to go into just how well she was able to shoot. Giles had been adamant that no one find out about her abilities, even to coaching her just how much to hold back in the physical evaluations. She still hadn't call him to tell about the Colonel's suspicions and get advice.
"Well, it really isn't that different from shooting a bow, same aiming, just a gun has significantly more recoil," Jack said, as he looked over the berretta he was checking out, and grabbed a box of ammo. "How about we start with your basic 9mm sidearm?"
"Sure," Buffy said, hesitantly. Cassie checked out a second gun, taking a position next to them, rolling the earplugs in her hand to achieve pliability.
"Ok, show me your stance," Jack said, watching Buffy closely. She stood, one foot forward, and raised the gun with her arm straight out.
"Good, but you're going to want to try a two-handed grip to start. More control," Jack corrected, standing behind her and placing his hands on hers. Buffy couldn't help but be aware of their proximity, and tried not to blush. The last time she'd done something like this had been with Angel, and she didn't want to think about that.
"Ok," Jack continued, his breath a whisper on her skin as he spoke. "Now, take a deep breath, and as you let it out, squeeze gently on the trigger."
With a strange pop distorted by the earplugs, the gun went off, and a small hole appeared in the paper target in front of them. "Seven, not bad," Jack said, letting go and stepping back. "Now finish out the clip on your own, there's eight more in it."
Buffy was disappointed with her aim, especially as she loaded and then emptied the second clip. Try as she might, she couldn't get her usual accuracy. Giles had drilled her until it was second nature to put an arrow or bolt through the heart of her target every time, but she was only in the outer rings of the chest zone with the handgun. She couldn't get a head shot, either.
Jack had stepped away, and was talking against the wall with Cassie when both looked up with surprise at someone coming into the area. "Hey, Daniel, who's your friend?" Jack called out, without thinking.
Both men, dressed casually, one wearing an Air Force t-shirt, turned to look at the young man, and the one on the right blinked. "Jack?" Daniel asked. "Is that really you?"
Buffy lowered the gun, flipping the safety on and putting it to one side, turning to see who had come.
"Yes, Daniel, it really is me," Jack said, rolling his eyes.
"It is," Cassie added. "I ought to know, since he practically lives in our dorm room."
"Cassie, good to see you," Dr. Daniel Jackson said, giving the redheaded girl a quick hug.
"And, I repeat, who's your friend?"
"Uh, right, Jack, this is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell, this is Jack Neillson, Cassandra Fraiser, and…" with that, Daniel turned and saw Buffy clearly for the first time. "Anne?" he said, shock registering on his face.
"It's Buffy," she said, embarrassed. "Frank didn't think it was the right kind of name for a waitress. Anne's my middle name. Buffy Anne Summers. It's good to see you again."
Everyone stood, various expressions of surprise on their faces, when Mitchell gave a broad grin. "This is so cool!"