A/N: I would like to thank Jo and AMS for BETAing this monster. Without them this chapter would not have been written. However, with my dyslexia it takes many helpers to make things readable. On that note, I still need pereaders and BETAs. Just drop me an email if you are interested.
"Daniel, if you don't calm down I will have you removed from the room!" Janet ordered. The steel in her voice and the look she gave him made him stop in his tracks. He raised his hands in surrender and backed away from the tiny doctor.
She watched him for a few more seconds and then Janet took the Taser from the SF stationed by the door. The grisly, old Master Sergeant had checked his weapon twice to make sure it was on its lowest possible setting. And still, despite all the assurances from the Slayers, and from Janet, Daniel simply didn’t know if this was the right thing to do.
However, what else could they do? Daniel watched Janet's frown deepen as she lifted the Taser in her hands. 'Time, we’re wasting time.'
The sudden thought blazed a fiery trail across Daniel's mind. The same feeling that had seized him in the elevator and caused his mad dash through the hallways of the SGC came back in full force. They needed to do something, now!
had to do something. The Slayer Prime was keeping everyone out, and she was cutting everyone off for a reason. Why was she cutting off the very people she loves and the people who love her back, who accept her unconditionally?'
“Wait,” Nancy shouted, startling Daniel, and causing him to lose his train of thought.
“Doctor?” Janet inquired of Nancy; her eyebrows rose in question. They had first debated what to use: the defibrillator, a stun gun or a Taser. Then they debated which Taser setting to use and now, so close to actually trying the plan, there was more equivocation.
Daniel clenched his fists at his sides. He was so tempted to just take the Taser and do it himself! And he would have except the Master Sergeant was still scanning the room for threats.
“I don’t know,” Nancy cried, the girl was still trembling from the earlier reaction. “What if I kill her?”
“Dear girl,” Giles said, as the blast door opened, and he came rushing into the room, “You aren’t going to kill her.” ‘Oh, thank God! He’s here, now I know something will get done!’
Daniel nearly shouted for joy. Then he shoved his hands into his pockets to keep from reaching out. He didn't want Janet to kick him out of the room. She had already given him more warnings tonight than she normally gave.
He could tell that the other man wanted to rush over to Buffy and hold her. And maybe that wasn't such a bad idea? Tracy told him that they had tried the same thing from this afternoon, having the slayers touch her, and it didn't work. Now he knew why it didn't work. There was something in the dream that was so horrible to her, so bad, that she couldn't stand it.
For some unknown reason more images of Jack flashed into his mind: Jack by Charlie's grave, Jack standing stoic and alone in his full dress blues during Kawalasky's memorial. Jack, who had seen war, been in war, even before this one with the Goa'uld. Jack who had the full support of the entire United States Air Force backing him up, training him, and letting him know that sometimes people died, that he wasn't perfect, that he's only human and some of his mistakes would cause other good people to die.
That was the price of war. Death. Good people dying needlessly before their time. 'She alone.... would fight the forces of darkness.'
Could it be that simple? Could it really be that simple? That she was killing herself over guilt? No, something is doing this to her.
How many men died in that NID bunker? No wait. While he was sure she was dreaming of that bloody massacre, what was tearing at her soul happened after he was no longer ascended.
Daniel so badly wanted to hold her. He wanted to do that so much he was shaking with the effort to stay standing in the one spot that Janet had assigned him. He didn't understand his own emotions. He felt a connection with the woman in front of him. But he didn't know exactly why?
“Dr. Giles,” Janet began, “ Miss Summers….” The Doctor stalled, trying to put into words what had happened in the past few minutes. And it had only been a few minutes since Daniel had been pulled from his dream. 'There was still time, there was still time until her mind consumed her soul. Just not a lot of time. They had moments, seconds, until the damage would be done!'
Once again, Daniel didn't know how he knew what was happening with her, he just did.
He wanted to scream at them. He could feel her slipping beyond them. It felt as if she was just leaving, not physically dying per se. 'No, it was as if her mind was--was consuming the very things that made her strong. Her mind was tearing away at her strength until nothing would be left.'
If it continued, ‘he’
would never be able to reach her again. After weeks of torture, with no end in sight, she was slipping through their grasp, and not because she was emotionally weak. Oh, no! She was slipping away because she wanted to protect her slayers. 'Guilt. Something was using her guilt against her. It was the only answer.'
Dr. Giles just stood in the middle of the room instead of immediately taking charge, like Daniel expected. The Watcher's eyes got bigger as he stared intently at his Slayer Prime. He walked up to the bed as if in a daze. Damn it! Doesn’t he understand that we need to do something now?’
Daniel was afraid to speak because of Janet’s threatened removal. If he could only touch her! He glanced around the room and all eyes were focused on Giles. It was now or never. He had to act now or it was over.
“There is… a kind of magic here,” Daniel vaguely heard Dr. Giles say.
He saw an opening between the two younger slayers. He slowly stepped next to them, and he could feel the sweat break out on his forehead as he expected Janet to see him and call the SF's to send him away.
The tall African-American slayer-doctor, took a step closer to Giles. "I thought Willow and the coven checked for magic?" she questioned as Janet looked up. Daniel saw something extremely dangerous in the Englishman's eyes.
“I don’t feel anything,” Tracy said, as the other two nodded their heads in unison.
Daniel took another step closer to Buffy. He couldn't understand why he was the only one who could help. Why he was going against Janet's orders for no other reason than he knew disaster would strike if he didn't get to the slayer's side. Or how he knew there wasn't enough time to explain to Janet what was happening.
Giles’ face was as white as a sheet and he slowly followed Daniel to the bed. He glanced around the room as if searching for something that only he could see. This was Daniel's chance, while everyone was distracted.
He was sure that she was nearly beyond them; he felt her hopelessness as if he was the one nearing Dante’s Abyss and not her. That was it! She was convinced that all the young slayer's, like Tracy, would fall into the Abyss because of her!
“Wait!" Giles' shout stopped Daniel in his tracks, he was sure his intentions were clear on his face. Only Dr Giles was looking away from the archeologist.
"If it's magical then I can trace it,” Dr Giles concluded. Daniel sagged with relief, and he watched as the man’s eyes went out of focus and it felt like he--left. It was hard for Daniel to watch and it still didn’t help the woman in the bed in front of him. This is it!
Daniel snapped. He quickly glanced around and all eyes were focused on the drama being played out with Giles.
Daniel took the final step to the bed and before Janet could react he lunged to grab hold of Buffy’s cold, limp hand. At first touch it felt as if he’d been Zat’ed as a shock passed from her to him, causing his body to go stiff. Then he lost all control over his body and he pitched forward to fall over the prone form of the woman in the bed.
It felt like a door in his mind had been blasted open as all the memories of his time as an Ancient, no, an Alteran, no, one of the Ascended came pouring through the breach. He couldn’t release her or control his own body. Somehow his other arm came in contact with her cheek and he was shocked again. It was as if he was watching a movie on fast forward as images and thoughts slammed into his mind too fast for him to see them. He couldn’t grasp onto any one single thing and it felt like his head was going to explode. He thought he could literally feel new pathways forcing their way through his mind, trying to accommodate the information. Even with all the new space, he felt at least half of the knowledge was stealing away from him; as if his brain was a cup and the knowledge was Victoria Falls.
Then it stopped.
Another door was blasted open, only this was the door to Hell on earth. Dante's Abyss realized in the flesh. He was in the gate room and everyone, almost every single person was dead. Except for Buffy kneeling in a pool of blood and a small red-headed woman standing on the ramp.
The blast door shut quietly behind him. He felt weak, and confused. How did he get to the Gateroom and when did a battle take place? After the experience he'd just had and the new knowledge still burning its way through his mind, Daniel couldn't make sense of what he was seeing. It wasn't that he was just seeing the blood, he could also smell it, and hear the terrible silence of a place that was normally loud with the vibrant voices of the living.
He glanced up from the woman kneeling on the floor into the eyes of--Willow?--yes, that was who was standing on the ramp. The name was just appeared, from nowhere, in his head. He didn't have to go searching for it, or try to remember the picture of her from the Initiative's lost tapes. He simply knew who she was, if not why she was standing there.
The witch's eyes were completely devoid of expression as she nodded towards Buffy. It took Daniel a few seconds to break away from Buffy's 'best friend's'
emotionless gaze and back to the tiny Slayer. She was still kneeling in the blood, seemingly oblivious to everything around her. Buffy's face was white, and she was trembling, no, shaking, with tremors running violently through her.
Daniel took an unconscious step towards the Slayer and stopped because the sound of his boot hitting the floor was so loud that the echo of just one step bounced off the walls. Buffy's hands grabbed at her ears at the noise with an inarticulate cry of pain.
Seeing the Slayer in pain broke another dam within his mind and he realized his true feelings for the woman in front of him. Seeing her pain broke through his stasis and caused him to dash to her so he could finally take her into his arm something he had dreamed about doing even while he was ascended. In the half of a second it took him to slide to his knees next to her, he realized that she was the cause for his fall from grace. Not because he loved her, or that he had true feelings for her. She caused his fall because of her caring, her love for her friends and her will to fight on against all odds simply because of that love.
Her fight had finished when he met her, while his fight had only begun. When he instinctually reacted and grabbed the Kelownan weapon he was glad that he wouldn't have to keep fighting. He had an excuse to stop, to just give up. He was going to go out in a blaze of glory, his story over. Only it wasn't over and he knew it.
Her soul held up a mirror to him and caused him to return to the battle, return to life, and the SGC.
Buffy was so incredibly cold in his arms and she collapsed into his warmth. He sat on the floor and pulled her into his lap, heedless of the dark red liquid soaking his pants. He cradled her against him. She was so small, he could support her with just one arm. Using his free hand to brush her unruly hair out of her face, he looked into bleak hazel eyes. If the eyes are supposed to be the window to the soul, then Buffy's soul was mortally wounded.
She blinked and sudden recognition flooded into her eyes. "I know you. You're the Alteran from, well, before now," she said. Her face crumbled and she started to cry, great wracking sobs.
The echoing sound of someone walking up to them pulled Daniel's attention away from Buffy. He glanced up to see Willow stop directly in front of him, her face still the expressionless mask from before.
"She has to choose." The witch's voice was unnaturally deep and distorted. Her eyes were glowing from an inner source. For a second, Daniel thought she had been conquered by a Goa'uld. Only, he wasn't sure because nothing was exactly the same as a Goa'uld and there wasn't the innate aura of evilness. "She must choose," the witch repeated.
Daniel was back in the silo that was Buffy's hospital room, holding on to her as she cried. As he looked around the bed, he noticed that the Slayers also were touching her, and Dr. Giles was standing at her protectively over them both.
Thank you for reading my story.