Spoilers: Buffy to end of season 7, season 2 of Stargate Atlantis.

Fire and Ice

Sheppard stood against the wall near the door of the room that had been selected as the gym, watching with amusement as a blur of black leather took apart a squad of Recon Marines in a matter of seconds. He remembered the first time he'd seen her.

They had been in the Gate-room, back at the SGC on Earth, waiting for the last supplies to be readied before they tried to dial the address they'd uncovered in Antarctica. He'd looked round in boredom as the huge blast door had opened, and a pair of very worried looking MP's had entered, escorting a slender, but very curvy young woman dressed in BDU's. He noticed that there were no rank insignias or unit badges, just a name patch marked simply 'Faith' and an American flag, and that she carried no visible weapons. One of the MP's had handed her a heavy looking duffel bag, and she'd swung it over he shoulder like it was nothing.

Walking over to Colonel Sumner, the other MP had saluted and asked the Marine officer to sign a sheet of paper. One copy was handed to General O'Neill, who'd appeared out of nowhere. Both MP's then saluted, before making their way out of the room as fast as military discipline allowed. Sheppard watched as O'Neill had a hushed conversation with the young woman, before hugging her. She returned the embrace, even lifting the much larger man off his feet, before he kissed her on the head and headed up to the control room.

He shared a confused look with Dr Weir, before turning round as the inner track of the Stargate started to spin, slowly at first, but getting faster all the time. He watched the read head stand on the yellow safety line, and not even blink as the wormhole exploded out, stopping less than an inch from her face. He was sure he heard her snicker when the Marines jumped back in surprise, but her face remained amazingly passive as the probe was sent through to confirm that it was safe to travel through to the other side. Sumner had looked at her and nodded, indicating that she should go first. Turning to give O'Neill one last wave, she'd all but ran through the Stargate, followed closely by Weir and the Marines.

Sheppard has asked McKay and Becket if they knew her story, but the two scientists had calmed up tight as a drum rather than answer. He watched her for a while, noticing the way most people gave her a wide berth, but were respectful. She kept to herself for the most part, but had volunteered to join the team heading through the gate to look for a safe place to stay when it looked like Atlantis had to be abandoned. Sumner turned her down, saying that his life wasn't worth the trouble he'd get in if anything happened to her on his watch. She'd agreed, but there had been a very dangerous look in her eye. Then when the shit hit the proverbial fan, she'd been the first to sign up for the rescue mission, and Sheppard had seen no reason to turn her down.

He still had the occasional nightmare about what followed: watching a young woman, a girl barely out of her teens, take repeated hits from a Wraith stunner in the chest and keep on going, made his blood run cold. And that was nothing compared to what she did to the Wraith when she caught them: the aliens were bigger, stronger and more resilient than any human, but she took them down with practiced ease. Sheppard recognized some of the moves as those Special Forces units trained with, but none of them had matched the fluid grace, skill and position that seemed to come naturally to Faith.

It had taken him about half a second to decide that he never wanted to be on her bad side, and he'd insisted that she joined his team. Weir had been unhappy with that: Faith had the ATA gene, seconded only to Sheppard himself in her ability to handle Ancient technology. It had taken him mouths to talk her into explaining how she had it, and the answer had almost floored him: he was willingly sending General O'Neill's only niece into ever more dangerous situations. Lord only knew how much trouble he'd be in if she got hurt, and the General found out.

But the one thing Faith never spoke about was how she could do the things she did; like take down a room full of armed Genii solders without even breaking a sweat. But the roomer-mill ground extremely fine on Atlantis, and Sheppard managed to get a peek at her file. He was half way down the first page before he understood why the MP's had been so timid around her back on Earth. If even half the stuff in there had been true, she should have been in a maximum security prison, 'rehabilitation' or no 'rehabilitation'. But even he had to admit that having her around proved useful in a tight spot: someone who could go toe-to-toe with the Wraith would never live a dull life in the Pegasus galaxy.

The sound of the door opening brought Sheppard back to reality just as Faith finished her morning workout, leaving the Marines groaning on the floor. He looked round just in time to see one of the newest members of the expedition step through, and felt his blood run cold. Maybe it was the way the crew of the Daedalus had been pleased to get rid of her after the Wraith siege the year before, or the way she went from being a happy young Texan with an IQ to match McKay, to a armour plated killing machine with a very lose grasp on humanity, at the drop of a hat.

Either way, of all the residence of Atlantis, only Faith seemed to have any control over her, keeping her from doing anything, unpleasant. Sheppard had tried to get a look at her file, only to discover that there was no hard copy: Colonel Caldwell had apparently relayed anything important verbally in the conference room, the doors stopping anyone from overhearing them. It had been shortly before Sheppard got his first look at an extremely drunk Elizabeth Weir, but nothing she'd said had made any sense. The betting pool about just who and what she was had grown to the equivalent of several thousand dollars, but the only people who knew the truth were Caldwell, Weir and Hermiod, and none of them were talking.

"Something I can help you with, Blue?" Faith asked the new arrival as she grabbed a towel and started to clean herself up.

"I am bored." Illryia looked round, "I need distractions."

"Well, maybe if you ask Colonel Sheppard nicely, he'll let me hook my X-Box up to that TV he brought with him." Faith tilted her head to the side, an amused look flashing across her eyes.

"What?" Sheppard blinked, then saw the look in Illryia's eye and quickly nodded, "Yes, no problem; have fun, I insist!"

"Cool." Faith walked across the room, linking her arm through the other woman's and lead her out of the room, "When they wake up, thank the boys for me."

Sheppard watched them walk away, Faith O'Neill and Illryia Burkle: Fire and Ice.

The End