Listening to the radio

A whole new band

Author: Norgco <norgco[at]>

Series: Follows 'listening to the radio' and 'a change of tune'

Summary: Faith and Xander, mid fourth season, and why is Maggie Walsh crazy?

Disclaimer: I own none of it

Feedback: please?

Faith and Xanders' place, Mid Season 4, Wednesday night after patrol

"Why do you think Walsh hates me and B so much xman?" Faith was sitting in the hot tub with Xander, sipping idly on glass of Riesling from the bottle in the silver ice bucket sitting on the attached shelf. It was weird how a year could change so much, this time last year they were both flat broke and alone. "Is she just a power crazed bitch or what?"

Walsh had been a pain in the neck ever since they found out the Initiative existed. Xander found the whole exercise bizarre, beginning with putting a civilian scientist in charge of a military program. Civilians did not have the legal right to give orders to members of the military, as far as he knew. The President being defined as Commander in Chief and therefore 'in the chain of command' was a special case. It all just got stranger and more illogical from there.

"Damned if I know Faith." He said as he put some of the Brie onto a piece of bread before biting into it. There was a selection of cheeses and fruit on the platter, he had seen the Rosenburgs set out spreads like this with wine when he stayed over as a kid and wanted to try it. And it was certainly more fun than drinking cheap Bourbon from the bottle while yelling abuse at everyone, which was the only drinking custom either his or Faith's parents had ever engaged in.

Two major things had changed from the main timeline, leading to an ever-greater divergence from it. One, Xander's talents as a construction manager had been discovered in High School, eliminating the soul deadening series of low wage jobs he was fired from anyway, and Two, he had a woman who supported him emotionally as much as he emotionally supported her and the rest of the Scooby's.

"All I can tell you is the base has to be bigger than Reilly is letting on, and I don't think he's deliberately lying to us. I think he's just gullible."

The former high school clown was well enough connected in the local construction industry to know how much effort had been needed to build the base secretly under Lowell House. The question 'who was the fool who came up with the James Bond Villain Secret Underground Lair' when Southern California had enough high tech companies with tight security for the project to be potentially given a cover story as one of them instead was also valid.

Or maybe as a film company specializing in horror movies could have been used. It was actually Giles who had thought of that one, explaining about the 1970's British TV show UFO, where a film studio was created to house the Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation. That way anything captured, no matter how weird or clearly alien, could just be loaded onto a truck and driven in uncovered in broad daylight labeled as a prop. It would have worked in Sunnydale too; god knows the population was not given to asking awkward questions.

"Anyway boytoy, how did your day go?"

"Made some money, solved some problems, finished Dave Marcus's business plan." Being self-employed was small business, most small businesses go broke through lack of planning, and he had quickly learned his real skill was in planning and organizing. Straightening out the woes of his subcontractors had developed into a business on its own, he was thinking of creating a franchise if it kept up. "Oh and Willow wants to have us over."

"Over what, a pile of cushions, a four poster, covered in chocolate sauce, specifics damn it, give me details?" They weren't in the hot tub any more; they were on a large towel on the tiled floor. Finishing what the Bostonian had started in the tub meant draining and cleaning after, which was a lot of trouble for something she liked swallowing direct from the source anyway.

"I think she just wants to be sure we're friends Faith, I mean you know how jealous she is and Tara's totally uninterested in men." Conversation stopped as the hot, humid room became considerably hotter for the two.

Shady rest cemetery, an hour after dark, Thursday night.

The battle that night was nasty, brutish and short, like a Klingon midget. Buffy was covered in blood, most of it not hers, when the initiative patrol arrived. There was a terrible noise of the screams and roar's of the demons as they fought and died, mixed with the sound of gunshots and the quite sound of the electric stunners.

Xander cut the legs out from under a Feyoral demon that was just out of arms reach. Stepping back the did the same for one attacking Forrest, before what felt like a ten ton weight fell on him from behind. The weight was a stunned demon Reilly had shot, a dead weight that continued to pin the businessman as he rolled over to aim at the still standing enemy. Something blue-green loomed over him and put four rounds into its chest, cutting it in half. The two pieces fell on him, completely covering him in demon goo and parts for the rest of the fight.

"Hey Xander, want to come over to mom's place to clean up, it's closer than your home." The rejection of Xanders demon fighting efforts at the same time as the dark slayer desperately needed him had led to a split in the Scooby's that had never quite healed. Buffy was clearly making the offer as part of her ongoing efforts to heal the breach. "You too of course Faith, mom will be tickled pink to see both of you."

"Do people actually go pink when tickled, I've never really noticed?"

"Maybe B, boytoy does a lot of things when I tickle him and I never really noticed the colour changes, ya know."

"Xander's ticklish?" the bottle blonde responded.

"Well if you're using a feather boa and tickling his balls just right he sure is." The darks slayer said as they arrived on the front door step. Buffy was thankful that her mother was out of hearing range for that comment. Her mother was an innocent in so many ways, really.

Casa Summers, after a series of quick showers all round.

"So this Professor Walsh is out of control, in your opinion." Joyce asked, hearing the details of the whole Initiative thing for the first time. "What's he like otherwise?"

"She, Professor Margaret Fitzgerald Walsh, as it says on the work orders I get for renovations at Lowell House is…Mrs. Summers are you alright?" At the mention of the Lecturer's full name Joyce Summers had gone still. She looked like she was in shock.

"Margaret Fitzgerald Walsh, from Billings Montana, is the head of the initiative and totally out of control." It was technically a statement but clearly a demand for information.

"Don't know where she's from Mrs. S, why do you know her?" Faith asked.

"Where's her office Xander?" A desperate urgency and hope in the older woman's voice now.

"I have her card in my wallet, the address is on that." The maintenance contractor said. Given that repairs needed doing and he was security cleared anyway he talked to the psychology professor regularly in a professional capacity.

"Buffy, we were in college together, and I think I know what the problem is." A determined look on the elder Summers face at this point. "Buffy, it will be alright, mom will fix it."

Professor Margaret Walsh's office, 9:37 Friday morning

The woman routinely referred to as 'the evil bitch monster of death' was sitting behind her desk tearing metaphorical strips off Agents Finn and Forrest when Joyce Summers walked in unannounced with a nylon sports bag over her shoulder. The professor looked around at the intruder with her usual scowl on her face, and then something no one who had known her for nearly twenty years would credit.

She smiled.

Actually calling it a smile was like calling the Pacific Ocean a bit damp. Her face and body language were instantly transformed by a look of love and hope not seen by normal people. She watched Joyce Ross, as she had known her, reach into the bag and take something out, something she had not seen or felt in the previously mentioned nearly twenty years. Then she spoke with a disbelieving hope in her voice.


"STRIP AND ASSUME THE POSITION SLAVE!" Joyce Summers demanded. And the professor did so instantly, not hesitating for an instant despite the door not being fully closed and the two men in the room. She had been so lost for so long, Mistress was back, after so long, Mistress was Back…

"Reilly, lock the door on your way out and cancel all her appointments until Monday." Buffy Summers mother said, slapping the riding crop that Maggie had felt such joy at the sight of into her left hand. Agent Finn stood gaping for a second and then pushed the disbelieving form of his friend out the door.

Outside the office a few minutes later

Actually it was a fair way down the hall, to be sure of being out of hearing range. Finn was desperately trying to purge the sight of what was in the open sports bag from his mind. He had been in a state of shock and glanced in, the trained reflex to gather intelligence in an uncertain situation taking over. There were rubber paddles, silk ropes, tiny clamps he didn't want to think of the use for…No, he definitely didn't want to think about the uses that equipment was presumably going to be put to, not to a woman he regarded as nearly a mother to him by the mother of his girlfriend.

"Forrest, we don't even HINT to anyone."

"Not a word buddy, not a word."

A campus coffee shop after Professor Walsh's first lecture, Monday morning.

"…and I tell you it was weird she just floated into the room and started talking about how these could be the best years of our lives and gave this passionate lecture on the importance of hope and love in peoples lives, it was not of the normal Xander."

"Yes and Reilly and Forrest were so strange on patrol last night. I asked where Buffy's mother was and Forrest just said 'Maggies been a baaaad girl' in this funny voice." Willow added.

"Yeah and Reilly slapped him across the back of the head as soon as he said it and glared at him. If looks could kill my boyfriend would be up for murder right now."

The full story never came out, unlike Joyce and Maggie. They were never separated again, and Joyce Summers never died of the aneurysm that claimed her in the main time line. The ADAM project was, of course, cancelled when Prof. Walsh regained her mental balance and wondered what in god's name she had been thinking of when she started it.

As to what happened to the rest of the Scooby's, that is a story for another time.