“And … we’re here!” Dawn announced grandly as she exited the portal.
Xander looked around at the large open space then turned back to his friend. “And here is … where, exactly?”
Dawn looked at the soldiers currently aiming their rather deadly-looking weapons at them. “Oh, poop!”
Dawn huffed. “Yes! I don’t know what the problem is.” She conveniently ignored Xander’s yelp of disbelief. “It’s not like I meant to come here -”
“Yeah, I think that’s one of our problems,” the old guy – O’Reilly? O’Hannagan? O’something – interjected.
“It’s not like I meant to come here,” Dawn repeated stiffly, “but now I am. And if you’ll just let us go back to that ring-thing – and can I just say: overcompensation much? – and we’ll be out of your hair!”
“No, you can’t just go back to that ring thing, and it’s not like we built it,” he added, exasperated.
The cute book guy cleared his throat. “Um, what I think Jack is trying to say is that you somehow managed to arrive in a very secure location, and this worries us. Because if you can do it by accident, who’s to say someone else won’t do it on purpose?”
“See?” Xander hissed. “I told you they wouldn’t go for it.”
“Oh, please!” Dawn dismissed. “It’s not like it’s the first uber-secret army base you’ve broken into – not that we meant to break in here;” she added hastily to the old guy, “this was an accident!”
Xander dropped his head on the table, and stroked the surface. Would banging his head repeatedly on it give him a migraine, or just let him slip peacefully into blissful unconsciousness?
The old guy – O’Neill, that was it – leaned back in his chair. “So you make it a habit to break into secure military bases, huh?”
“I told you,” Dawn growled, “this was an accident!”
“But the other times?” O’Neill asked, eyebrow raised.
“Oh, those,” Dawn dismissed with a wave. “I wasn’t involved with those. Someone decided I was too young. And there was this whole apocalypse thing going on. It was a thing,” she shrugged.
“You were thirteen,” Xander’s muffled voice declared. “And we’re not supposed to use the A-word around, you know, people.”
O’Neill frowned. “If she was thirteen, how old were you?”
Xander sat up. “Uh … nineteen, I think. Twenty, maybe. And it’s not like I wanted to do it, ‘cause there were people with, you know, guns there.”
“And what did you have?” O’Neill asked, curious.
“Oh, I had a gun, too,” Xander shrugged. “Of course, it’s not like I knew how to use it, but I had one.”
“Did Spike have a gun?” Dawn asked.
“He had a replica,” Xander nodded. “Still gave him a headache when he aimed it at me,” he smirked.
The book guy – Daniel, Dawn thought – blinked. “Why would aiming a gun at you give someone a headache?”
“Behaviour modification chip,” Xander answered. “He couldn’t hurt humans.” He cocked his head in thought then explained, “It worked on intent, so thinking about hurting humans hurt, too. I think if he accidently hurt someone, it didn’t hurt him, unless he was happy it happened, and, let’s face it, this is Spike we’re talking about.”
“He never hurt me!” Dawn protested.
“He called you ‘niblet’,” Xander argued. “As in ‘snack’.”
“I don’t want to know about this, do I?” O’Neill observed.
Dawn scoffed. “Please! You have a problem with magic. You so don’t want to know about Spike.”
“Oh, speaking of,” Xander turned to Dawn, “we’re on a bit of a timeline here.”
Dawn frowned at Xander, puzzled. Suddenly a thought occurred to her. “Oh,” she drawled. “Uh, yeah. We should really move this along, ‘cause otherwise someone’s going to come looking for us.”
“What,” O’Neill frowned, glancing towards the Gate Room, “another shiny green wormhole?”
“Yeah, no,” Xander grimaced. “Will doesn’t need…”
O’Neill blinked at some papers started ruffling in … the wind? He looked at the blonde he’d shushed earlier, but she appeared stumped by the sudden draft. The military people were all looking around, even the big, dark-skinned guy that reminded Dawn of Oz in that stoic, nothing-fazed-him kind of way.
Xander slunk down in his chair. “Don’t worry, Dawn. I’ll let her know how this was all your fault.”
“How was this my fault?” Dawn yelped.
“Uh… Your portal, your fault. It’s not like I had any say in the direction.”
“Actually, I think I’ll blame Buffy and Giles,” a glowing-white Willow decided.
“Sir…” the blonde began.
“Yeah, I see it,” O’Neill nodded absently.
“Her,” Daniel corrected, equally absently.
Xander grinned. “Willow, you’re a goddess! I’m going to get you the best chocolate I can find when we get home: Godiva all the way. If fact, I’m going to get you shares in Godiva.” He turned to Dawn. “Do they do that? Can you buy shares in Godiva? Their parent company? Whatever?”
O’Neill cleared his throat. “Just so you know, this is a top-secret military base, and we really don’t like it when people drop by unannounced. Not that it seems to stop people, but I thought I should get it out there.”
A now-redheaded Willow frowned at O’Neill. “Top secret military base? And what is it that you do here?” She turned back to Dawn and Xander. “They haven’t been experimenting on you, have they?” She hurried over, and began examining her friends. “If they’ve harmed one hair on your head -”
“Oh, for crying out loud!” O’Neill protested. “We’ve been talking, okay? They turn up, unannounced, in the middle of our facility, and I would really like to know how they did it, and how we can stop people from doing it again. Is that so much to ask?”
Willow looked at O’Neill, then back to her friends. “How’s he on the magic thing?”
“Blondie has a fit every time the word is mentioned, and he kind of turns a bit green,” Dawn shrugged.
Willow turned back to O’Neill. “Sorry, but it’s magic. If you can’t accept that, then you’re going to have a real problem keeping people out. Mind you, you’d have a real problem keeping us out, anyway, since the wards needed to keep us out are really powerful. But that’s okay, ‘cause we only intentionally break into bad military bases. You’re not bad military, are you?” she asked sweetly.
“No!” O’Neill protested. “We’re the good guys. We’ve been giving the bad guys major headaches for nine years running, and proud of it,” he added smugly.
“Okay then,” Willow beamed. “So you won’t mind if I just take my people and go?”
O’Neill glared at her. “Just … go! Get out of here, and I really don’t think I want to see you again.”
“Cool!” Willow beamed. “Okay, kids,” she added to Dawn and Xander, holding out her arms for them to link with, “hands and feet inside the car, trays in the upright position, and here we go!”
Another wind kicked up inside O’Neill’s very secure, underground base and Willow, Dawn and Xander blinked from view.
“On it right away, sir.”
Author's notes: I wrote this as something of a challenge: it’s dialogue only. No labels to say who says what, to whom, or how. Hopefully I’ve written it clearly enough so you can pick it out what’s going on.
“Sir, we really need to -”
“But we have to -”
“I think what Sam’s trying to say -”
“Will not GeneralHammond wish to know of this event?”
“What he don’t know won’t hurt me.”
“Uh, a) that isn’t how it goes, and b) you know it’s going to bite you in the butt if you don’t tell him.”
“Besides, how can I ask them when I don’t even know where to look? Hah! Got you there.”
“Sam could search for them.”
“Right. I’m going to google ‘magic portals Dawn Xander Willow.’”
“Fine. I’ll go google ‘magic portals Dawn Xander Willow.’”
“Huh. And this is…?”
“‘Magic and the Formation of Stable Wormholes.’”
“Hell, Carter, when did this come out?”
“A few years ago, apparently.”
“But, magic, sir! And wormholes!”
“It’s just jargon, Sam. Maybe she was directing the article towards the more … scientifically-minded, uh, magic people.”
“Yes, I know how that sounds, but look at it this way: she’s describing a scientific phenomenon using mystical parameters. Isn’t that fascinating?”
“I do not believe MajorCarter appears fascinated.”
“Do you know what’s worse? She even speculates in the article about the amount of power it would take to do this by ‘mundane means!’”
“And for the normal people here?”
“Mundane means normal.”
“Ah. Oh. Hey!”
“It looks like Ms Rosenberg figured out what it would take to power the Gate with, you know, power. Uh, electricity. Do those figures look right, Sam?”
“I know you opened your mouth, and I know you said something, Carter, but I have no idea what it was.”
“I said, ‘pretty much.’”
“Hey! That means she’s pretty much as smart as you!”
“I do believe that was one of those looks one is glad cannot kill.”
“Yeah, that’d be it.”
“Yeah, with the cranky old guy, and the cute book guy, and the blonde who was having a fit about magic?”
“Hey! No perving on cute book guys who are totally too old for you! Your sister will string me up by my favourite parts if she hears you’re doing anything like that.”
“Why would she string you up?”
“And again for the hearing-normalised?”
“He said Buffy told him to keep an eye on you. Or else.”
“Oh, she did, did she? Well, she better take that back, or I’ll tell Giles about that expense report from Milan.”
“Just so long as you tell her, not me. I may be all mojo-ed up – thanks again, Will – but your sister still scares me when she gets like that.”
“Yes, yes I am. So, to totally change the conversation: military guys.”
“Oh, right. Well, it looks like they found my ‘magic and wormholes’ paper, so I guess that means they’re looking for me. Us. Me and us?”
“Us. So does this mean we get to go and blow their tiny little brains?”
“I checked: the blonde is Major/Doctor Carter, who could be one of the top brains in astrophysics, if she was allowed to tell anyone, and the cute, geeky guy is Dr Jackson, with like a ton of PhD’s. Even the cranky old guy has a degree.”
“And the Oz-heavy guy?”
“Please: compared to him, Oz is Oz-light.”
“Point. Yeah, well, he was really hard to find, so I didn’t get anything on him from my quick check around. I could try -”
“Nah, don’t worry about it. So are we doing this, or are we doing the sensible thing and talking to Giles and the others, then doing this?”
“We could leave a message.”
“Do you know how long it takes for Giles to go through his voice-mails? And he mainly only does it because you help him. Why not send him an e-mail, or – better yet – a text.”
“No, we may want to be rescued at some point, or, you know, someone to actually know where we are.”
“She’d want to come with.”
“Tell Faith, and text Buffy. Then turn our cells off and go.”
“I like your mind!”
“I’d like other parts, but Mama does not like!”
“I thought we weren’t talking about that anymore.”
“Talking about what? What are you two talking about?”
“Don’t worry, it never happened.”
“Was it one of those Wish things?”
“Yeah. Let’s just say it was.”
“Call Faith now, and text Buffy as we’re leaving.”
“Sorry, sir, but it’s been a bit difficult finding contact details for Miss Rosenberg. I’ve found a company that she works for, or with, or owns – it wasn’t really clear – and I’ve found a Xander Harris and Dawn Summers with the same company, but, again, finding contact details for them short of calling the actual company is a little difficult.”
“So call the company.”
“I was going to do that soon, I just wanted to find some more direct method of contacting them.”
“Just a sec. Colonel O’Neill.”
“Mr Harris. You’re at the gate, you say? Yeah, sure, you bet ya. I’ll be right up.”
“They’re at the front gate.”
“Well, kids, let’s go … collect the witch and her minions.”
“I think ‘witch’ is a derogatory name, and she may not like you calling her that.”
“What about ‘minions’?”
“No, ‘minions’ is fine. That’s what they are, after all.”
“Theoretically-non-evil Air Force dude. Minions of theoretically-non-evil Air Force dude.”
“I’m sorry, but he’s really -”
“Do you think all mega-brains are like that?”
“All the ones I’ve met, anyway.”
“And you’ve met a lot?”
“Well, there’s Willow. Although Giles isn’t really like that, so maybe it’s the scientific/computer brainy types.”
“And Giles is…?”
“More your Dr Jackson, ‘dusty books are so cool’ type.”
“Ah. So we have matched pairs?”
“You even have an Oz-type.”
“Yeah, ‘cause that isn’t an alias. If he was something as simple as a Murray, then Willow would’ve been able to find him. Ergo: not a Murray. What?”
“You said ‘ergo’.”
“No need to Beavis and Butthead me for it. Kids these days!”
“She’s not that much younger than you.”
“True. So. Now we need to go, sign some paperwork, and talk about things I really don’t want to know about just ‘cause someone couldn’t read a map right.”
“This looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”