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Going home through a Starry Mirror

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Buffy Carter". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Buffy Summers is kidnapped and ends up a ten-year old in another universe under the care of Samantha Carter of the SGC. She also might become the greatest hope of her new universe as her life becomes interwoven with SG-1's.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Buffy-Centered(Past Donor)theICEBearFR1822221,088181443263,3439 Jan 0714 Oct 07Yes
CoA Winner

Chapter Four

It was many months later that Buffy was picked up at school early not by Janet but by her mom, which meant she was back early from her latest exploratory mission. She got into the vintage restored car and hugged her mom hello. “Hi, honey. I got off early today, and I even have a few days off. How does that sound?” her mom said.

Life as a Carter was good, but having her mom to herself for a few days was beyond great. “Great, so are we gonna spend a few days relaxing at home this weekend?” she asked. She knew her mom wasn't the relaxing type. Usually when they weren't playing a game, cleaning, cooking or shopping, she was puttering about with a project in her basement or in the garage where she was restoring a vintage Harley Davidson Motorcycle.

“I was thinking perhaps we could go shopping tomorrow, and then maybe Sunday we go for a hike. One of the other officers told me about a nice day-trip route that I think you'll love. What do you think?” her mom said. She had a faint recollection that she did not use to like outdoor activities, but she couldn't for the life of her remember why. These days anything that managed to tire her out was welcome.

“I like the way you think,” she replied. Her mom focused on driving through the intense Friday afternoon traffic near the school and headed homeward. Buffy was feeling strange, however. It was something she couldn't quite place. It was like she was being watched -- no, studied intensely -- by something moving around inside the car. She tried pinpointing it but couldn't see or hear anything. It was driving her to distraction.

“What is it, Buffy?” her mom asked.

“I don't know. It's weird, it's like something is in the car with us, but isn't,” she struggled to explain. Suddenly the feeling disappeared.

“Now it's gone,” she said.

“Hmm,” her mom said, looking thoughtful.

A few minutes later they arrived home and headed inside to relax. The rest of the day went quietly, with Buffy doing her homework for the weekend, while her mom puttered around, dealing with the bills and making a few phone calls to family and friends.

It wasn't until late that night she noticed that the strange feeling had returned. It seemed to move around the house, while her mom washed up and went to bed. Officially, Buffy herself had gone to bed an hour earlier, but a slight issue with a cat moving around outside had kept her from falling asleep, and now the presence seemingly moving about their house had her fully alert.

She was about to get up, when the feeling came into her room without opening her door. She knew that it couldn't be anything then, because it had passed through a closed door. It floated over to her and hovered above her. It didn't feel evil -- just foreign and strangely lonely. Suddenly it dove towards her, and she felt everything go white for a moment.

It was as though she floated in a sea of song. Any emotion, any knowledge, and almost anything in the universe seemed within her reach. She knew a place like this, but not entirely so. The other had been a place without this song or knowledge or energy, but a place filled with love and peace much like this. Then she realized that someone else was there with her, and he -- whoever he was -- was looking into places inside her head where no one was allowed, not even her anymore. She willed it to stop. The light disappeared, and she remembered nothing else before her mom woke her next morning.

“Buffy, are you up yet?” her mom called out. She opened her eyes and looked around. She felt fine, but she also remembered her rather outer-space, alien-encounter experience the night before.

“I guess,” she said and got up.



She felt Buffy had been unusually quiet and thoughtful all day. “Is something wrong?” she asked as she helped her daughter put away her new clothes.

“No... Well... You're gonna think I'm crazy,” Buffy said and sat on her bed.

“I won't. I know you're not crazy. Besides, who am I to judge after the life I've led?” she admitted.

Buffy quirked an eyebrow at her but wisely made no comment about the weirdness of Sam's life. “Last night I felt that thing from the car again. It went through the house and then came to my room. It did something, went into my head, but I forced it out and then I passed out. I didn't really fall asleep last night,” her daughter explained.

Sam wanted to respond with a negative or suggest that it was just a dream within the first moments of hearing the outlandish story, but was stopped by the fact that she herself had passed out on her latest mission. It was the very reason for her having a few days off. Maybe there was something. She decided to at least withhold judgment until they had found out more.

“Okay, Buffy, I believe in you. Keep an eye out and tell me about it if it comes back,” she said.

A few minutes later she was out with the trash when a man said, “I'm sorry.” She turned and looked at a frazzled-looking but cleanly dressed man with dark blond hair standing in the middle of the street.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“I said I was sorry,” he said and stepped closer. Something seemed off about him. She wasn't sure if it was his intensity or the innocence of his eyes, but something made her almost step back.
“What are you sorry about?” she asked.

He shook his head as if to say it wasn't that important. He walked closer. “Samantha, I wanted to talk to you. That's why I came, why I am here looking like this,” he explained.

“Listen, I don't know what you're talking about. But if you get any closer I will call the police,” she said.

“I don't want that. I am upsetting you. I am sorry again. Maybe... I will come back when it's a better time,” he explained.

Buffy came running out the door all of a sudden. “Mom, the feeling -- it's back!” she yelled, then stopped, staring at the weird man. “It's coming from there,” she said and pointed behind her. Sam whirled around, looking at the exact spot where the man had stood before she had turned, but he was gone.

“Now it's gone again,” Buffy whispered, almost seeming to disbelieve her own senses.

“It's alright, Buffy, I believe you. Something is going on,” she said, and took her young daughter back inside.

A few hours passed. Sam vacillated between ignoring it all, writing it off as just another weird occurrence, and calling up the SGC to get a Code three team to her house. But she had done neither. Buffy was in the backyard, playing with a boomerang Sam had bought for her after much begging earlier in the day. “Is this a better time?” the voice of the man from before asked, just as she was about to begin dinner.

She turned to find him on the other side of her kitchen counter. “What are you doing in my house? Get out!” she hissed, thankful that Buffy was outside and could easily get away.

“I won't hurt you,” the man promised.

“If I was you I'd be more afraid of me hurting you,” she promised, feeling her heart pumping as the adrenalin flooded her body.

“You and I can do neither,” the man said and stepped through her counter. She backed to the left and away. This was not a crazy man but an alien. And this one was a bit too close to home, so to speak.

“Listen, I don't know what you want from me and my daughter,” she said.

“I want nothing... Well, no, except, well... I was all alone on Velona... the world you passed out on. I am still sorry about that. I was so lonely... And then you came and you were right, your mind was strong, and I thought I could finally relate to someone, share with someone, be understood. I had been so alone for so long,” he said, while all she noted was Buffy standing in the door staring at them with a strange look on her face.

“Ah, Sam, and then I followed you through the Chappa'ai and found this world. So complex so interesting. It was you I came to be with, though. Your mind is the one that I can relate to and through you I also found her. “ He turned and looked at Buffy, who neither blinked nor flinched as he smiled towards her.

“Your daughter, a being of such beauty physically, soon mentally, but oh, Sam, if you only knew the Angelic radiance of her soul you'd weep as I do when I dare look on it,” he said and stared at Buffy with an almost possessive look of reverence, different from the emotion she couldn't quite place which was present on his face when looking at her.

“I don't care, I want you gone. I don't want some alien running around here...” She said.

“If you call in someone to capture me I'll just hide. I passed through your base with ease. I can remain here indefinitely, invisible and incorporeal, until their suspicions fade. I mean you no harm. I was lonely and I came. Please let me stay a little while. Let me have some company for a while; then I will gladly return to my exile on Velona again,” he said.

“I'll have to talk to my daughter about it,” she said and walked over to Buffy. She knelt next to her.

“What do you think? I know he can do what he says. But if we let him stay... We don't know what he wants,” she whispered.

“I think we can trust him. Look, I hate that he had us running around and I don't like that he made me pass out, but look at him, mom. He is nearly in tears. I can feel it in the air. He is no liar, I doubt he knows how to. I think we should at least try. And maybe he can help us, help Earth even,” Buffy whispered back.

“You're right,” she said after looking at the man. He had no real ability with subterfuge. All his emotions showed on his face.

“Alright, you can stay a few days,” she offered, while thinking about how weird her life had really become after reading that brief on the Stargate back in the early nineties. Not only was her dad now in a symbiosis with a Tok'ra, her daughter was a superhuman girl from a parallel reality, and now it seemed she had an incorporeal gentleman caller hovering around in her house.

“Thank you. I am sorry for trying to share my mind with you both without asking. I want to try again some time when we can be sure that it won't hurt either of us and when you want it,” he offered.

“Excuse me, mister, but what is your name?” Buffy asked.

“My name is Orlin, Buffy; I am sorry for not saying it earlier. I am still not used to having to share information again verbally. All my communications have been mental for ages,” Orlin replied.

“Ok, cool,” Buffy replied and, again taking enormous changes in stride, she slid back outside to play with her boomerang again.

“A wonderful child,” Orlin remarked
.
“There aren't two of those,” she agreed with a proud smile.

“You have no idea,” he said.

She turned and fixed him with a questioning stare.

“I am sorry, but as I said I have seen Buffy's soul -- not her past, not her mind, but her soul. I have never seen anyone, even among us, the Ascended, that has a soul as pure of purpose and as forged by the fires of life as that girl. She is a being of destiny. More than that I could not determine,” Orlin explained.

“I see... Orlin, how are we going to do this?” she asked.

“Ah, Sam, do not worry: I will try to make things as easy for you both as I possibly can,” he replied.

After a few moments he added, “However, if you don't mind, I think I would be able to better explain things to you if you'd allow me to share with you.”

She shook her head. “I am not ready for that yet. Let me get to know you a bit better, first,” she admitted.

“Alright,” Orlin replied, trying to sound happy, but disappointment shone through in his expression.



“Sir,” she called out the next day as she ran down the halls of sublevel 28 trying to catch up to Jack. She wanted to talk to him. Her orders were clear. She had to report Orlin. She wasn't sure that was fair to the alien, but she had to. It was her duty.

“Carter, do you understand this thing?” he asked, gesturing towards her with the puzzle that was his latest task in their ongoing, multi-year puzzle game.

“Yes, but I won't help you,” she said. “Jack, there is something really important you and I have to talk about.”

He turned towards her. She gestured for him to step aside in the corridor. “Jack, what if, hypothetically, an alien had followed us back from 636 -- you know, the planet I passed out on -- and it claimed to be able to become invisible and intangible. If we confronted it, it would hide. I could then try and retrieve more information from it about the device, before I alert a Code 3 team to have them handle things,” she explained.

Jack looked shocked for a moment. “Are you nuts?”

“No, sir. I mean, it is just theory. Just let me handle it for now. I would just need clearance from a commanding officer,” she replied.

“Are you sure this is theory?” he said after studying her for a while.
“I am sure, he would be harmless... And besides, he really could come and go without our say-so, anyway,” she explained.

“Good, then I give you theoretical permission to do it, but try and keep things impersonal,” he said and waved her off, almost running to the bathroom. She smiled at her timing.



That evening, with Buffy already in bed, she sat with Orlin.

“I am glad you decided to not tell anyone except your friend about me... Sam, I... I'd like to try the sharing again with you,” he said.

“I don't know,” she hesitated.

“I am sure I can make it work if the human I try it on is receptive. Sam, I'd never, ever hurt you, I swear... I think I... “ Orlin said before looking at her with hope in his eyes.

“Alright, let's try it,” she agreed, feeling a bit nervous. Orlin was so honest she knew that he was infatuated with her. But she wondered if it was really much more than the reactions of a lonely creature to the first person he had seen in an age.

The room went dazzlingly bright as he showed his true shape. “Now relax, open your heart and mind to the possibility of an existence not governed by the rules of science which you so love,” he whispered.

She tried but was unsure if she even knew how to do that.

“Relax,” he whispered.

Suddenly she felt like she was swimming in a sea of white, of pure emotions and love. “Oh, my god,” she said back in the real world.



“So, what are you doing?” Daniel wandered into her office looking as overworked as she felt. She actually rather wanted to get home and be with Buffy, and maybe -- if she was totally honest with herself – Orlin, too.

“It seems that, given your translation and the reports of SG-16, the Pentagon is pressuring the General to test the weapon before we figure out a way to copy it,” she said.

“Do you think we can even get it running?” he asked.

“Well, honestly I think I have figured out a way. If I create an overload in a Naquadah reactor that has been interfaced with the weapon and fed the overload into it, it should in theory be able to perform its function -- at least for a while. However, the overload would be fairly dangerous. Any malfunction or failure could lead to the charge being unable to escape the reactor. The ensuing explosion would be devastating,” she explained.

“So, if you do it, you'd better be sure that the weapon is to be fired and that everything works,” Daniel said.

“I am trying to make it safer, but the General hasn't been given a lot of time to get things working, which again hasn't left me or SG-16 much time for building any sort of buffer or improved safeties,” she said.

“That weapon is pretty powerful according to the accounts. They used it to defeat the Goa'uld, but for some reason that civilization was destroyed,” Daniel suggested.

“You think we should leave it alone, at least until we understand all the consequences?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Daniel agreed.


“You two are right on time,” Orlin said as they entered the house.

“Hey, Orlin,” Buffy -- as usual, the first to accept radical change -- greeted him happily. She had apparently had a great day at school.

“Dinner is ready,” he said and gestured towards a nicely set table.

“Yay,” Buffy said with a smile.

They sat down to eat when it occurred to her that incorporeal beings couldn’t cook. “How?” she asked and looked at the table.

“I think things have been going well between us. Don't you?” Orlin asked.

“I guess, but really, there is no ‘us’, Orlin,” she replied, while Buffy watched them intently with a pixie smile on her lips.

“It is possible for my kind to take, or rather retake, human form, considering that was how we started,” he explained.

She looked at Buffy. “We should talk about that later,” she suggested.



She sat with Orlin. They had discussed his race, Oma Desala, what he had done and what it meant, when she asked, “About Velona. The weapon, it came from you?”

“Yes. Well, I communicated the knowledge. They saved themselves,” Orlin said, sounding sad.

“But not for long,” she egged him on. This was what she really wanted to know.

“It was a horrible mistake. Shortly after defeating their enemy, they started planning interstellar conquest using the technology I gave them... My people had to step in at that point,” Orlin explained.

“They destroyed the planet,” she said in shock. “Isn't that going against that whole non-interference thing you told me about earlier?”

“They as a collective decided to correct my mistake to prevent a disaster. They destroyed the population and banished me there to suffer for my mistake as my punishment,” Orlin said.

“But you couldn't have known,” she defended him.

“I broke the rules, rules that are there for a reason... But I am apparently not the only one,” he said, hinting at the alien Daniel had met on another world.


“Sir, we have something coming off the surveillance of the Summers kid,” Raoul said as he entered his office without knocking. He turned his chair and looked at his Hispanic agent.

“What's new?” he asked. He was looking over the schedule for the upcoming transfer of a very secret parcel between Russia and a friendly U.S. corporation. It was a lot more important to him than the ongoing adventures of a tiny superhuman that he couldn't have just yet.

“Colonel Simmons, sir. Major Carter is harboring an alien,” Raoul said.

“Really,” he said and finally found an interest. “Let's see what we can do with that.” He smiled as the possible scenarios ran through his mind.



She had just come out of a meeting. She had managed to convince the General to give her two weeks to discover if the weapon on Velona could be the cause of the Velonans’ demise. She knew that it was, but she had no chance of proving it unless Orlin could help her. From what he had said, she suspected that a reactivation could cause, at minimum, the death of SG-16, and maybe even draw the ire of Orlin's race to Earth.

“Major Carter,” Simmons stepped up to stand next to her in the corridor.

“Sir,” she greeted him.

He leaned in and whispered, “Stop acting against me. I could make life difficult for you.”

Before she could retort, Simmons walked on, looking and acting like nothing had happened. She felt anger in her mind. How dare he act like that towards her!



She arrived home later that day and found Orlin and Buffy playfully trying to bake. That seemed to involve a lot more flour than she had expected, especially on their clothes and faces. She dropped her bag against the side of the counter and asked, “Who sneezed in the flour?”

“He did,” Buffy suggested. Orlin just chuckled and started tickling Buffy.

“Really? Really?” he asked while tickling her.

Buffy allowed him to continue until finally saying, “Alright, I give. I started a little food fight of a sort,” Buffy admitted.

“Better. Don't lie to people,” Orlin said with a smile.

“What were you making?” she asked.

“Were? Are,” Orlin explained, and moved aside to reveal a huge stack of pancakes with another batch of batter getting ready.

“Oh, and he made us gifts,” Buffy said and lifted a large, beautiful, blood red gem hanging from a silver locket out from under her dress. Then she pointed at another, an emerald locket on a gold chain, lying on the kitchen table.

“I hope you like it. Emerald, that is your birthstone, right?” Orlin asked.

“It's real,” she said, while examining the extravagant gift.

“Of course. I made it, as well as the garnet for Buffy... You wouldn't believe what you can make with common elements and household items... Well, you do need a new microwave,” Orlin said. She wondered if she could learn how to do this -- maybe with diamonds, so that she could use it on electronics.

“Thank you,” she whispered, almost feeling compelled to kiss him in gratitude.



It was late at night again. She was again seated with Orlin in her living room. “Orlin, what will happen if we try to activate the weapon or learn about it?” she asked.

“The others will stop you,” he said immediately.

“Even if it is only to learn how to defend ourselves?” she asked.
“How can you or they be sure that your people won't turn around and do the same as the people of Velona?” he offered.

She wanted to argue, she really did. The Tok'ra, the Tollan, and now Orlin's people had all said it. She believed that they were right. That they should reverse engineer and completely learn, rather than scavenge. But the times were desperate, and so it was their best option.

“I guess I can't say we’ll be better than that,” she said.

“I have read your recent history. The creators of your Atom bomb also believed that the weapon would only be used to create peace. I can't take the chance. I can't watch yet another civilization die because of my mistake,” Orlin said.

“Why didn't you destroy the weapon?” she wondered.

“I thought I had, but you really are brilliant. I never figured you'd be able to replace the power supply,” he explained.

“I have to find a way to stop the test,” she said.

“But how? You have no proof, except exposing me,” he said, then seemed to realize something. “No, no, no. I've done it again. If you expose me they will take and pressure me until I reveal more secrets, worse secrets. I... We have to find another way,” he whispered to himself.

“I'll try to think of something... Damn, I don't like the idea of faking my results,” she admitted, “but I am pretty sure it’s the best solution.”



It was a few days later when she walked into the office of General Hammond.

“Major,” he said, looking a bit angry -- which was not a good thing, especially as it looked like it was directed at her.

“They're going ahead with the test,” Jack said.

“But sir, it has only been nine days. You said I would have 14 days,” she said. She was still puzzling over how to make irrefutable false evidence of the weather effects. She looked at Jack and Simmons. They looked like something else was going on, as well. Buffy would've said they had ‘but-face’.

“I was overruled,” the General answered.

“Yes, nine days. And I daresay you haven't been doing a bit of research into Weather Phenomena,” Simmons said with annoyance in his voice, before dropping several photos on the desk. They showed her with Orlin, Buffy with Orlin, and Orlin alone -- all inside her home.

“And would you like to explain these purchases?” he asked and dropped a list containing several strange items charged to her credit card, such as raw titanium, fiber optic cable, very expensive industrial capacitors.

“You have been watching. You've invaded my privacy. The privacy of my child,” she said and noted that her tone was getting a bit too close to disrespectful, but she was bordering on not caring.

“Yes, and with good reason,” Simmons said defensively, which made her wonder if that hadn't been going on much longer than just since Orlin's arrival.

“The Pentagon. I'm sorry, Major. I expressed my anger and disappointment to the President,” the General said, and she noticed there was something dark in Jack's look. He shared her suspicions.

“We have tapes of your conversations with the alien,” Simmons said.

“I was acting under orders,” she replied and looked over at Jack.

“Huh?” Simmons asked.

“Would you like to tell us what you mean by that?” Simmons asked, after noticing the General's equally perplexed expression.

“She was working under my orders. I thought it couldn't hurt, after she told me how it could turn invisible and was incorporeal,” Jack explained, apparently having caught on quickly.

“I am not here to lay blame, Colonel. If she was acting under orders, that's a load off my mind. However, my visit here is just a courtesy. I am here to lead the operation to capture and detain the alien,” Simmons explained.

“As we speak, a Special Forces team is surrounding your home,” he continued.

“What?” she very nearly yelled, “Buffy is home by now. If you think I will allow you to endanger my daughter just so you can look good and have your commandos drag him out, you're wrong.”

“Calm down, Major, I had no idea your daughter would be home, of course. I am sure we can arrange something,” Simmons said with a bit too sardonic a smile.

“You bet we will. We're joining your operation,” Jack explained.



“What's the situation?” Simmons asked as they arrived. She hated the very idea of armed men surrounding her house with Buffy and, if she had to admit it, Orlin inside.

“The target is inside, but he has failed to respond to our call for him to surrender,” the Special Forces commander replied.

Jack looked at her, noticing her expression. They both knew that the next step would be to move in. With live weapons. She intensely disliked the very thought. “You want him alive, right? Why don't you let Sam go in? She can convince him to surrender,” Jack told Simmons.

“The place is sealed off?” Simmons asked the commander.

“Yes, sir,” he answered.

“Fine, she can go, but she's only got a few minutes,” Simmons replied. Jack gestured for her to move out.

She crouch-walked to her house, then moved past the two officers at the door. She opened it slowly and entered the darkened hall. She slid inside, only to hear Orlin suggest matter-of-factly, “Close the door behind you, Sam.”



She lowered the boomerang as her mom entered. Orlin had been really busy, so she had decided to guard the house in the meantime. They were surrounded, but she was fairly certain she could destroy the surrounding forces. Her mom and Orlin talked for a few moments, then as her mom passed she heard, “Buffy, go to your room and wait for me... And, Buffy, trust no one except Jack of the people out there,” her mom cautioned.

She nodded, but as she headed for her room she considered what her mom and Orlin were doing. She had the distinct feeling that something bad was going to happen. She went inside and sat on her bed. She listened and heard a guy outside her window. Suddenly there was a hum from the basement and the lights went out. She rose, determined to go down there no matter what her mom had said.

She stopped as there was a loud crash. Her window shattered and a man loomed with a weapon ready. He fired his weapon at her. She felt a sting and then intense pain as she shook uncontrollably from the taser darts. They did, however, not stun her. She whipped her hand down and easily brushed off the darts.

“Well, gosh,” the soldier said, just moments before her fist launched him across the garden into the fence, which promptly broke.

She was in danger. They were here to attack not just Orlin but her too. That much she thought was obvious. She grabbed her boomerang and the baseball bat she had gotten months back but never really revealed to her mom because of her mom's strange issues with her having weapons. At least the bat looked innocuous enough to pass casual inspection. There was a movement in the hallway.

She hefted the bat and swung its aluminum length sideways at the door. It hammered through the wood and into the leg of the advancing soldier. She heard his pained yell. She jumped high and grabbed the top of her closet. She hoisted herself onto the top and waited. The door was pushed open. An assault rifle entered first. She waited patiently. She saw someone being dragged out of view while another soldier entered. She needed to leave the room and find a wider area to fight in. Her goal was to defend the house and avoid getting kidnapped. She realized that she had to fight conservatively; she wasn't in this battle to kill or even seriously hurt anyone. A few bruises and knockouts would be the most she could be allowed. These guys were only acting on someone else's orders.

The soldier with the assault rifle was still scanning the room. Her guess was that, aside from the other one assigned to remove the guy she had hit with the bat and the one outside, he was alone. That was a bad move. He was wearing a helmet and a vest, which meant his arms or his legs were her best targets. Given her position, his arms were the only viable ones. She launched herself from her perch while swinging the bat out in front of her as soon as he stepped into the right position.

With another pained groan and a clatter, he dropped his rifle. “Hostile spotted,” he ground out. She rose from her landing and gave him a spinning kick to the gut, hoping his vest would take the brunt of it. He flew into the wall and sank down, also unconscious. She turned towards the door. She expected that someone was covering the corridor with a rifle or a stun weapon of some sort. But there could be many. She picked up the soldier's rifle and tossed it into the hall, while running immediately after it.

There was a strange noise and a hole was opened in the wall as a series of bullets followed the path of the rifle. She jumped low and put her weight against the loose carpet on the wooden floor. She slid on it, practically into the lap of the firing soldier. Before he could do more, she pushed the rifle up and gave him a solid upper-cut to his rather wide jaw. Before he flew back, she pushed her other hand against him, sending him across the room and out the door to the garden.

“Buffy, stop!” Jack commanded. She stopped and slowly turned as three cones of light were shone on her from the other end of the corridor near the basement stairs. She stared at him, trying to determine if it was really him and he was still trustworthy. Her mom had said to trust him, but she had to be careful anyway.

“Jack, what is going on? Someone smashed through my window and shot me with a taser,” she asked.

He looked surprised, then glared at the balding man next to him. “I don't know, but I am sure we'll find out when I interrogate him,” Jack promised.

“Kiddo, this house is going to be a bit crazy for now. How about you and I go sit in my car, while things get sorted out?” Jack said.

“Sure,” she replied, but remembered to go get Mr. Gordo before leaving. She had a sense that sometimes if you left him he disappeared, so he went nearly anywhere with her.

The wounded soldiers were being cared for outside, but neither Orlin nor her mom were anywhere in sight.

They got into Jack's military jeep, and she waited until they were alone before asking, “Jack, where is my mom?”

“I am not sure, kiddo. It seems that alien--” he said.

“Orlin,” she injected.

“Orlin... had built some sort of mini-stargate in your basement,” he explained.

“Oh, I knew about that. Did it work? He said he was worried about the power requirements,” she said. Orlin had loved telling her about things, even things she had no real chance of understanding.

“It worked. Do you know where he wanted to go?” he asked.

“Yeah, back to Velona. He told me that if you guys messed with some device there, his people would come and wipe us out, so he had to go and stop you. Another military mess,” she said, and felt an ancient pain as if something like this meant something important to her.

“Another?” he queried.

She waved him off, “I don't know why I said that either... Jack, I'm sorry for hurting those soldiers, but they attacked us, and we had done nothing.”

“Oh, for crying out loud. It's okay, Buffy, we should have realized that you of all people would defend yourself. And I have the sneaking suspicion that the attack on you wasn't coincidental.” He muttered the last part as he stared out of the windscreen at the black-haired man directing the removal of Orlin's inventions.

“What now?” she asked.

“Now we wait for your mom to come back home,” he replied.

“I guess she went with him,” she said.

“I am sure she didn't mean to abandon you,” he offered, reassuringly.

“Oh, I know. She went because she had to. She had to make sure Orlin had a chance to save us. I know her too, Jack,” she replied.

“I suck at waiting,” he said.

“Me too,” she agreed, while wondering what he wanted to do.

“Let's go see what the General can do for us,” he said, and put the car in gear.



The next day her mom drove her back to their house, which was already fixed to look like nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened there. Her mom was a little sad. She guessed that since Orlin hadn't returned he had either stayed or died. She felt a little sad about that, too.

“Where is he?” she asked.

“He saved us, then his people allowed him to re-ascend to his incorporeal state. He told me to tell you that he will watch over us as best he can, and that you should never be afraid of your nature... Buffy, he also said that you could become our greatest hope... Do you know what he meant?” her mom asked.

She thought it over, but couldn't for the life of her figure out how one girl -- superstrong or not -- could make that much of a difference. “I don't know. I mean, I am special, but not that special,” she finally said.

“You're that special to me. That is all you need to be,” her mom said with a fierce look in her eyes.



A few weeks later, they were preparing for Christmas. Daniel had talked her mom into arranging an SG-1 Christmas party, and she had immediately loved the idea, too. Now they were big with the party-planning. Janet and Cassie were coming. Teal'c was the honored guest, and they were holding it at Jack's place, because he had the biggest house.

But that was in a little while, and right now the weather was turning cold and windy with the season while they were warm and cozy at Janet's place to celebrate Cassie's birthday. Well, the guest of honor was missing in action. She was with her almost-but-not-yet-boyfriend out on the porch. Buffy knew she had the hots for him. Cassie had talked about him all the time these last few days. She had been staying with Janet and Cassie, because her mom had been off-world for some negotiations that hadn't gone well.

“Wow, those are a load of candles,” her mom said, and gave her a goofy smile.

“We could make one like that for you on your birthday,” she said.

Her mom grinned, then commented, “Not without calling the fire department first.”

“So who is the boy?” her mom asked, just as the lights in the house blinked.

She heard a thump and guessed something had happened on the porch. “Cassie!” she yelled and ran.

“Somebody, help!” a young male voice yelled outside.

Cassie lay on the porch, looking pale and sick. “What happened?” Janet demanded, while examining Cassie. Her mom drew the boy away and started questioning him. Her stature and well-trained, almost muscular, body seemed to intimidate him. She judged from his expression and way of talking that he had no idea, and he claimed he had just kissed Cassie before she fainted while the lights flickered.

“Call the base hospital,” Janet said.

“I'll do it,” her mom said, and headed inside. The boy seemed to consider what to do. She walked up to stand next to him.

“It'll be all right; they're calling an ambulance right now. I think you could go now, if you wanted to,” she said.

“You're so calm. Aren't you her sister?” he asked.

“Not really, more like a semi-adopted one,” she explained. She had spent nearly as much time with Cassie as she had with Sam or Janet in her time on this world. She was worried, but she also had faith in Janet and Sam. If something could be done, they'd do it.

“I have faith in them,” she said.

“Oh... You think it's alright if I go?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said, and a few moments later, although haltingly, he made off. He seemed like a nice guy, but he probably wasn't the love of Cassie's life -- he seemed too unconcerned, although of course that could change. She wondered sometimes how she understood these things so well, because she couldn't remember having a boyfriend herself, and she was way too young anyway. Although, according to her papers, her assigned eleventh birthday was coming up in January.

“Buffy, you're coming along, okay?” her mom said. She knew her mom wanted to reduce her number of visits to the base. It had changed after the soldier who had tried to shoot her had been interrogated. Everyone had been really weird for days after that. Her mom, Jack, Daniel, even Teal'c had been home or visited her a lot, and at school an airman was now present during all her classes -- albeit outside the classroom most of the time.

“Cool, you think I can swing by and visit Danny and Big T?” she asked using her private nicknames for the two. She had sworn to never use the nickname when talking with Teal'c, but with Daniel she did often and against all protest. She liked the rest of SG-1 but that didn't mean she couldn't tease them.



The time at the SGC turned out to be stranger than expected. After a few hours of talking to Daniel, going to the mess hall with Teal'c and visiting Jack's really messy office, she had finally been told to go sit with the feverish Cassie, while her mom and SG-1 went to Cassie's old homeworld and tried to find out more about what was wrong with her. No one had deigned to tell her any details, though.

She walked into the shielded medical observation room. Cassie was sitting, staring at the room behind the glass... the empty room behind the glass. A monitor next to her was fritzing occasionally. Buffy scooted onto the foot end of the bed next to Cassie. “Hey Cassie,” she said by way of greeting.

Cassie obviously had a fever and looked very sick. “Go away, midget,” Cassie commented. It was their private joke and current greeting. Although she hadn't smiled when she said it.

“So you're not okay. What is going on? Nobody told me anything,” Buffy said.

“I need to go into the forest. Then I'll be okay... I need to go home and visit a holy place,” Cassie tried to explain.
She wanted to scoff at that, but as always something inside told her that she should never discount that there was more between heaven and earth than air. “Ok, why won't they let you?” she asked.

“They think it's a superstition. Sam and Janet are like that,” Cassie whispered.

“Yeah, I get that. Oh, well, maybe they'll find something, and if they don't and you still want to go, maybe I can help you,” she said.

“You couldn't... you wouldn't,” Cassie whispered, realizing what she meant.

“For a friend, a sister in my heart, I'd walk into hell itself,” she said and knew that she meant it. She wasn't sure she could actually get to the Stargate with Cassie without hurting people she liked, and worse, she couldn't activate the gate computer without a proper palm-print. Of course, the person who opened the gate needn't be conscious.

“Don't say that, Buffy. You're important, too: you can't just throw yourself away for someone else,” Cassie said, almost whispered, as she seemed to weaken again.

“The most important thing a person can do is to do something for someone else. It doesn't matter that I am special, if I can't use what I have to help,” she explained fervently.

Janet walked in. “Buffy, although what Cassie's got isn't contagious, could you do me a favor and stay at a little distance?” she asked.

“Why? I... “ She paused, realizing it was for Cassie's sake, and shut up, while walking back out of the room. Janet was too preoccupied to realize that Buffy had just gone roaming.



It was great fun slipping in and out of different rooms and finding all the strange stairs and passages that took her all around the complex. She even found a crawlspace just big enough for her that allowed her to look into the control room. She rested there for a while, although a large part of her hated the dirty air-duct she was in. It was from there she heard SG-1 return through the gate and talk to the General about finding Nirrti's lab.

That meant no religion, just more lies from the Goa'uld. She felt sorry for Cassie. She decided she'd better slip back into the storage room she had come from and brush herself off.

She crawled into the storage room a few minutes later and brushed herself off before leaving and heading in the direction of her mom's lab. She was barely down the hall when she noticed something weird. It was a feeling much like she had gotten from Jacob. It was like with Sam and Teal'c but stronger. It was the feeling of a Goa'uld. They had been infiltrated somehow.
She needed to protect her family and her friends now. She needed a weapon first. A Goa'uld wouldn't pay much attention to her until she showed her abilities, so she wouldn't have many chances. She needed some sort of weapon that she could conceal. A zat would do fine, but they were mostly locked away in the secured armories.



“Where's Buffy?” Sam asked as she and Janet left the meeting with the General. They had discussed their findings and how Daniel had solved the puzzle of what was affecting Cassie.

“Err, I sent her to the... Come to think of it -- oh, God, Sam, I don't know. I was so focused. I don't know where she is,” Janet nearly yelled in shock.

Sam felt a moment of panic come over her, then remembered that the SGC was her base. Everyone here knew of Buffy, and none of them would hurt her... Unless of course the NID tried again. They had been so shocked during the interrogation of the soldier that had tasered Buffy. He had been ordered to take her and hand her over to an NID operative in a vehicle, before making it look like Orlin had taken her or done something to her. Jack had upped security on Buffy, and she had swept their home for bugs twice, each time finding a few.

She pushed down her fear and went over to the nearest guard. “Sergeant, have you seen my daughter recently?” she asked.

“Yes, ma'am, I saw her earlier today running around looking for something. But that was at least an hour ago,” he admitted.

“Which way did she go?” she asked. He looked around and pointed down a corridor. She went in that direction, leaving the apologetic Janet to her business. They each had a daughter to look after.



“Did you find her?” Janet asked as she walked back in to Cassie's room.

“No, but a lot of people said they had seen her no more than a few hours ago, then nothing. I checked with security: she is still here -- in fact, no one has left the SGC levels for 3 hours, only gone between the levels,” Sam explained.

“Security alert, level 28 corridor B,” the general's voice declared over the radio. She broke into a dead run and hoped that it didn't involve Buffy in any way.

She came upon the scene and was surprised to find a single Airman surrounded by Jack and several other guards. “What's going on?” she asked.

“Airman Kenneths was just about to explain that,” Jack said and gave the soldier the evil eye.

“Sir, I thought I had lost my keycard, but I found it here... I had dropped it. I am sorry, sir, but protocol dic....” Jack broke the soldier off and held up a finger.

“Ah, come with me, Airman. Let's go talk to the General about triggering alerts without looking around first,” Jack said and led him off, leaving her with all the other guards.

“By chance did any of you see my daughter?” she asked.

“Yeah, I saw her head to the infirmary when I ran here,” a guard explained.

She felt a rush of relief throughout her body and rushed off to find her wayward daughter. It was time to impress on Buffy the necessity of telling people where she went again.

She found Buffy sitting outside Cassie's room, her book-bag at her feet, idly reading a novel. “Honey,” she said and embraced Buffy, who seemed glad to see her... although as she rose again Buffy seemed to study her and frown a little for a moment.

“You must always tell someone where you go. This place is huge and you could get lost,” Sam intoned, deciding to spare Buffy the news that someone might try to kidnap her.

“I thought I did... I guess Janet must not have heard me. Oh well, no harm done,” Buffy said and looked calmly back down at her book. Sam wanted to say something to berate the young girl, but decided she was just glad to have her back safely and the lectures could wait for another time.

“Well, let's see how Cassie is doing before I get you home,” she said. Buffy looked instantly upset at that.

“I... I can't leave. Not now. Mom, Cassie could be dying. Please, I just want to stay and make sure she's going to be alright. Please, I promise I'll be good. I can just sleep in Teal'c's cot, or in one of the guest rooms instead. If you take me home, you're not gonna stay with me, and I'll be all alone and I'd only have Cassie's problem on my mind,” Buffy rambled.

It seemed Buffy and Cassie had gotten as close as she had hoped they would. At least that meant that her stays at Janet's had been pleasant so far. “Alright, I'll go clear it with Jack, but then you're going straight to bed. It's almost eleven, you should be fast asleep,” she said and headed off. She stopped and faced Buffy, “And Buffy, stay right there until I get back.”



It was already evening the next day again, and there had been neither hide nor hair of any Goa'uld. She watched as her mom tried to reason with Cassie, who had now decided she was becoming superhuman with her newfangled telekinesis to her credit. And if Cassie was getting better, then it was only at denial. It was so obvious that the fever was killing her. She wished she could just pummel some sense into Cassie, but it seemed unlikely that would work.

She watched her mom leave -- probably to talk to Janet, because she hadn't looked in her direction as she left. Buffy rested her eyes a little, not really tired but deciding that looking asleep would probably make people leave her alone longer and make it even surer that no one wondered what was filling her book-bag, aside from books. She was a bit sorry about tricking that airman yesterday so that she could get into an armory and get her own Zat, which now rested in her book-bag.

As she rested she suddenly felt it again. It was the same as last time. Too strong to be a residue of a larva and feeling somehow evil, for lack of a better word. It was somewhere in front of her, but further than the window. Which meant in the room with Cassie. She opened her eyes and saw no one. It was invisible. Not good.
Something -- experience, maybe -- told her to observe carefully through her barely opened eyes. She saw a folder get opened on the table next to Cassie. She reached into her bag to her left and grabbed the Zat. She would only get one chance.

Her hand closed around the weapon and her finger reached the trigger. She slowly lifted a foot and hammered it into the window, while throwing herself forward and drawing her weapon. Before the glass had even landed on the floor she was firing once, twice, three times, in a pattern from Cassie's bed towards the door. She got lucky on her third shot and grazed her target.

A female figure screamed in pain, and what looked like a cloak flickered for a moment, revealing her enemy. There was a rush and the glass exploded into the observation room. An alarm started blaring.

She fired again, this time downing her opponent. She ignored the broken glass and the feeling of minor cuts all over her neck and hands. She rolled forward into Cassie's room and rose, keeping her weapon pointed at the now visible Goa'uld. She looked Indian or something. Buffy idly brushed glass off herself.

Two airmen advanced into the room, Zats drawn. They targeted her first, probably because of her weapon.

“Drop it,” the first one commanded.

“Not until you secure her. And watch it: she's a Goa'uld,” she said, finding a clipped tone in her vocabulary, as if she was used to commanding troops. She noted that both airmen twitched slightly towards the Goa'uld before ignoring her.

Jack arrived next, his gun drawn. “Buffy, put that down!” he yelled before he did anything else. He had some sort of really weird reaction whenever she picked up a weapon.

“Not until you get her in cuffs,” she insisted. Jack turned and whistled, apparently quite happy about her captive.

“Get that one into holding,” he commanded and went over to take the Zat, while the guards did their job.

“You took her out?” he asked.

“I sensed her earlier, but I wasn't sure until I felt her again. I mean, you have both Mom and Teal'c here -- I couldn't be sure before now,” she admitted.

“And the Zat?” he asked, more curious than angry.

“I stole it from an armory... I kind of lifted a keycard off a guard and got it. But he made that alarm before I could give the card back to him,” she explained.

“Buffy, you're a kid. Never, ever touch a weapon again, no matter what. Understand? Tell your mom, tell me, tell someone when you suspect something before you go out and do something like this by yourself. What were you thinking?” he demanded.

“That it wouldn't be a problem, because I can handle any weapon safely after just looking at how it's done for a few minutes. Because I am not afraid of those snakes. Because it's... it's what I do.” She said the last part in wonder. She felt like she was remembering a part of the past, but before she could grasp it, it faded again.

“I think your mom will have some choice words for you later,” he warned before heading off.

“Buffy... thank you,” Cassie whispered, as most people left the room, only to quickly be replaced by Janet and some nurses. A few moments later her mom arrived. The look on her face told Buffy that Jack had given her the brief version of events. She was probably going to get a serious talking to now.



Her mom had dragged her out into the corridor. “Buffy, don't you dare ever do anything like that again. How could you? I can understand defending Cassie, I love that you do that. But I cannot and will not ever tolerate you stealing and lying. Buffy, you could have told me in private, you could have told anyone you felt wasn't a Goa'uld. But you had to go it alone,” her mom practically yelled.

She felt kind of rotten all of a sudden. She hadn't even considered including anyone. She had just decided that it was her enemy and she could and should take it out. She realized how wrong she had been. And something else previously unknown to her entered her mind. What if Sam decided to throw her out because of this?. Sure, she had adopted her, but the SGC had more than enough power to make that adoption disappear again. Buffy didn't want that. She couldn't allow that. “I am so sorry. I didn't think. I just did what I felt was right. I should have told you. Please, Mom, don't send me away... Don't hate me,” she nearly cried.

Sam enveloped her in a warm hug. “I would never do that. Oh, Buffy, I'm sorry for yelling. I just got scared. Please, please be more careful in the future. Let us do these things,” her mom said.

“Ok,” she said, and mentally a part of her added, “for now.”



Her little stunt did cost her one thing, though. She was summarily confined to spend all the rest of her on-base time with Daniel, who was translating some ancient thing in his large, book-filled room. It was strange, but this room felt so comfortable. Surrounded by books and the smell of them and the artifacts, she felt as much at peace as she did at home or in her mom's embrace.

“Damn, I have no idea what this is,” Daniel mumbled to himself. She didn't believe him. He always figured those things out. He was a genius linguist, a natural in the very essence of the word.

Still she walked over and glanced at the clay shard he was examining. Strangely, it looked familiar to her. “I think that is Ancient Sumerian,” she said as the words started making sense as she studied it.

“Really,” he looked at the shard. “Ah, yes, I think you're right. I have translated some of that before,” Daniel said and got up.
“You know, Buffy, isn't it weird to remember and know things without knowing where it comes from?” he asked.

“Wow, where did that come from?” she replied, “I guess... I try not to let it affect me. It's weird, but I seem to let weird roll off me like water off a duck, no matter what happens. You know, I think sometimes I had a lot of adventures before I came here, but I can't remember them.”

“It's okay, really. You're happy and, well, I... I think you're better off here, if your life was so dangerous back on your world,” he said, then looked a little guilty.

“No, don't look like that. I think you might be right about being better off here, actually. It's just sometimes I'm afraid that maybe I left someone behind who I maybe should miss...maybe even a lot. But I can't remember anyone. There is only you, Sam, Jack, Jacob, Teal'c, Janet, Cassie and George, now. You're my family now, and I worry about you all,” she said.

He put a hand on her shoulder as he sat. “Buffy, you're barely eleven, you shouldn't worry about anything. Leave the worrying to us,” he suggested.

“Of course,” she lied, after pretending to think about it.



The Goa'uld was forced to heal Cassie, but they had to let her go, much to Jack and her mom's disappointment. Still, Cassie was fine and she came home a few days later. Buffy's mom immediately went back to being super busy. Christmas came soon, along with a season full of snow. They actually were having a white Christmas.

She stood in the driveway of Jack's house and watched as he shoveled a path so that Janet and Cassie, who were on their way, could get up to the house. He was a bit miffed, though; it was the second time he had done it that day, but the wind and fresh snow were already conspiring to cover up his current work. She stood, feeling almost giddy at the thought of all the presents inside waiting for the next day, as well as her options when considering whom to dump several gallons of snow on.

She wasn't sure why Daniel and Janet had smiled like goofs when she had told them that Jack had offered to let her and Sam sleep over so he could watch her unwrap his gift tomorrow morning. She had no idea why they had been so smug, when in the end they had all been invited to stay the night. Janet and Cassie had decided not to stay, but both Daniel and Teal'c had agreed after Jack's continued insistence. She liked having a lot of people around.

Jack cursed again as he finally looked up his long driveway and saw the already inch-deep snow at the main entrance. She smiled and waved. He waved back, then headed up the driveway. It was strange. Sometimes when she was out with Jack and they did stuff like this or he took her to see a movie, he would get a strangely faraway look in his eyes and often become distant, as if lost in memories. Like he did now as he walked back towards her. She had no idea why, though.

“Don't catch a cold out here, kiddo,” he said as he came within talking distance.

“I won't, Jack,” she replied and waited until he had just passed her. She reached down into the snow he had meticulously shoveled aside and made a snowball. She turned and flung it with exact precision at Jack's head. The ensuing splat and startled annoyed yell was quite satisfying. Of course, she had by then done the tactically smart thing and run into the garden behind the house.



She couldn't help feeling a bit odd and nervous. Jack had never before invited her to stay at his house, or even over for much more than a beer. They were strictly colleagues, nothing else, and they had to stand by that faithfully until either of them made a movement, which they both knew they couldn't. It would cost them their careers, or at the very least their posting at the SGC. She had recently puzzled about that, something she had never allowed herself to do seriously in the past.

She couldn't believe she even considered it, but she had at times seriously pondered other options. But the world needed her. She didn't like to think about it, but more than once her mind and skills had been all that stood between this world or another world and destruction, or between her friends and death. Still, she was seriously considering either asking to be posted to Area-52 to become part of the research and engineering team or resigning her commission. Area-52 had asked for her a great number of times. This would not just be an opportunity to see if that could give her a chance for something long-distance with Jack, but also to have the time to watch and guide her daughter through her rapidly approaching teenage years. Something she really wanted to do.

Still, she couldn't; she knew that. She couldn't let go of her duty at the SGC. The world needed her. And if she didn't do her duty here, then there might not be a safe place for her daughter anywhere. Sacrificing a little to avoid sacrificing a lot, that was what could only be called inevitable.

She looked out the window. Buffy came running, occasionally jumping and rolling as Jack attempted to hit her with snowballs and failed miserably at his attempt every time. They were playing like children, and she realized she had rarely seen Jack more happy. She sighed and sat down on the couch, in front of the window overlooking the snow-covered garden. She thought about inevitabilities and the fact that with current regulations she still couldn't be with SG-1 if she quit the Air Force and worked as a civilian consultant for the SGC, like Daniel.



Daniel watched as Buffy and Sam sat snuggled up together in the sunken part of Jack's living room. They were chatting quietly, while watching the dusk outside. It looked like they were very comfortable with each other. Janet and Cassie had arrived a few minutes ago. Jack and Teal'c were helping Janet with the last of the dinner in the kitchen. Well, honestly, Jack was goofing off to Cassie and Teal'c was trying to understand their Earth tradition of Christmas. Daniel had spent the last two days talking about it and explaining why they hadn't made much of it before.

He hadn't done it much before himself, anyway. It was no secret to the rest of SG-1, his adopted family, that his life before the SGC hadn't been exactly fun a lot of the time. The only bright spots had been archeology and his linguistic studies, before Sha're. Before this year they hadn't even gotten together within SG-1 for Christmas. Sure, they did celebrate birthdays and the like, but Christmas had been too family-oriented... too sacred, maybe, until this year. He looked back at Buffy and Sam and knew why. Buffy's existence had reminded them that they were a bit more than workmates or comrades in arms. After all those close and not-so-close calls, after all those harrowing times, after all those successes and some failures, they were family by association. He would never admit it. None of them were open about these things, but really they were family now.

Sam seemed to have some trouble, though. It wasn't that Jack had been right originally, when he had predicted that Sam and Buffy could become unhappy. But he knew, he could feel it, when he talked with Sam about this and that. Her focus had shifted, or it was at least conflicted now. He wondered if it would ever come to anything. Both Sam and Buffy seemed to understand the SGC's need for Sam's services, but there were cracks in that theory. He knew from looking at Sam at times that she no longer only wanted to be in her lab or out on their missions. She had bigger issues at stake, but maybe the issues they were working with at the SGC were also the reason she hadn't left yet.

“Hey, Space Monkey, I need a hand,” Jack called out from the kitchen and shook him from his thoughts.



“This was a bad idea,” he berated himself as he watched Buffy dig into her gifts like a frenzied piranha, while Sam looked on with a bemused expression on her face. He liked having someone there on Christmas day, but the scene was continuing to be like a stab in the heart. He kept seeing Charlie before his mind's eye. Still not wanting to ruin anything for anyone, he plastered the difficult-to-maintain smiling facade onto his face and tried to just get through it all.

The minutes wore on, which Buffy gushing and thanking everyone profusely for every gift. He loved the little pixie, and she couldn't know she was tap-dancing on his last nerve. The minutes turned into a half hour, and he feared his jaw would dislocate from shifting between smiling and nearly grinding his teeth. With the last presents unwrapped, including the couple of really nice ones for him, he decided he couldn't take it anymore, so while they were getting up to enjoy breakfast he took at least temporary leave of his friends. He wandered into the entryway and put on his coat. “I'm going out, to make sure the drive is clear,” he said out loud and beat his retreat.

He didn't really care about his speed and as soon as he left the house he progressed at a really quick jog down to the road. He turned left and walked into the bushes, over to an old pine tree. He looked at it, then leaned against it and breathed deeply. He couldn't cry. There were no tears to shed. It was in the past. Still, it felt like an old scab had just been torn off. He stood there for a little while, hoping that none of his friends had noticed his little break-down, when he felt a tug at his jacket.

He turned to find a watery-eyed Buffy looking up at him. “Did I bug ya?” she asked.

“No,” he immediately replied. He couldn't have shown anything. No one could've known.

“You were annoyed all morning. What's the sitch?” she asked.
He blinked and said, “There was nothing wrong.”

“Jack, I... is this about your son? Mom said you had a wife and a son once, but that he died. Did I do something... to... I'm sorry, I don't want to intrude... Jack... It's okay, he's in heaven now, waiting for you,” she said with her seemingly impossible-to-look-away-from eyes locked with his.

He wanted to brush it off, explain it away, or even lie, but something about Buffy's words was so sincere that all he could do in return was to be truthful, “I miss him so much.” And with those words, a few tears escaped his eyes.

Buffy walked over and took his hand. “As long as you never forget, it is alright. Just don't let his memory twist you up inside. It's life. The hardest thing in life isn't people dying; it's living after. But we have to, or all life their lives and ours would be in vain.”

He scooped her into his arms and held her for a while, enjoying her slow, strong heartbeat against his chest. “You know, kiddo, I've told your mom this before, but now I am saying it to you. She should count herself lucky that I didn't you and make you my daughter instead,” he joked.

“Jack... Mom is my mom, I am hers. If you want me, you're just gonna have to make the sacrifice and marry her,” she said matter-of-factly.

Jack frowned at that thought, as he carried her out of the bushes and back towards the house. “Let's keep that thought private -- okay, Buffy?” he said. He had thought about Sam before. Had they not been assigned to the SGC he would never have met her, but he knew that if they weren't assigned to the same command he would ask her on a date within the hour of receiving his new posting. But he felt the SGC needed his abilities, and Sam was practically the brain of the entire program, no matter what other eggheads thought.

Still, Buffy was right. If he wanted a life like his old one before Charlie... before Charlie had shot himself with his gun, then he would have to sacrifice something. He just couldn't make the Air Force actually do things the way he wanted. If that had been the case, then he would've... Actually, he didn't have a good plan, but maybe it was time to think about it. He was basically drafted into the program. The massive compensation they paid him for his services, and other fees for other things, all in all made him wealthy enough to own both a large house with equally large grounds and also a nice little cabin at a lake, and still have a pension fund and stocks in some companies he expected would hit it big when the Stargate program went public. He didn't really need his job, but the job needed him.

He carried Buffy to the door and set her back inside, where a dismayed-looking Sam was searching for her wayward daughter. “She came to collect me, saying breakfast would soon be ready,” he said.

“She was mistaken, O'Neill. We have some difficulty with your juicer,” Teal'c said. He smiled and went into the kitchen. He might live mostly from cafeteria food, take-out, and restaurant visits, but he knew how to make breakfast. He decided maybe enjoying his day was alright, even with Charlie's happy face and squeals of joy when playing with his toys echoing in his ears.
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