A/N: Special thanks to prereaders V and C and a big thanks to Grey and Sandra for BETAing this monster!
“You’re an Alteran.”
Tired hazel eyes held his captive and the label, no, the name, became loud in his mind.
There was only one word that he could think of saying: “Yes.”
He wasn’t supposed to know the name of the Ascended. He now remembered that Oma had made a very clear effort to wipe it from his mind and for the life of him he couldn’t understand why she would have done that? What was so important about the name of the Gate Builders?
“I think you broke him,” little Tracy stage whispered, to Buffy.
More and more of Daniel’s meeting with Buffy was becoming clear to him. More about that time period as one of the Ascended was opening up to him and he felt like he had been living a half-life.
“No, I think he’s just remembering. His friends were getting kind of angry with him by the time I met him,” Buffy answered the girl, never breaking eye contact with Daniel.
Buffy had been in Heaven--or a Heaven like dimension, ay least, he thought to himself, considering that a part of him rebelled at such a simplistic or religious concept. They’d met and that was supposed to have been the end of it. However, he hadn’t been able to stop himself from going back to see her and that broke yet another of the Ancients endless rules.
There were so many questions flashing through his mind so quickly that he couldn’t latch on to just one. But, he was still a man, and he couldn’t believe how clear her eyes were or how they changed color depending on the light. Sure, her hair was limp, she had dark circles under her eyes, and a hundred other temporary imperfections, only at this one moment she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever met.
Until he remembered Sha’re, and he braced for the knife that always pierced his heart when he thought about his lost wife. When it came, he had to blink to clear his eyes of tears. When he could see again, he saw the same pain reflected in those knowing, hazel eyes. He remembered then that the woman on the bed knew what it was like for a monster to wear the face of a loved one.
Janet stepped between them, breaking the eye contact, and when she half-smiled at Daniel, he knew it was on purpose.
“This is all very interesting,” the Doctor said, “Miss Summers has been through a lot in the past few weeks and I want her to get some rest, Daniel, girls.”
Tracy protested. “I’m not leaving Miss Buffy alone, no way!”
“Neither am I,” Spring seconded it. And when Nancy started to open her mouth, Janet held up her hand in the ‘stop!’ gesture and caved.
“OK, OK, I can see when I’m out voted! I don’t want three new patients, so I’m going to have to insist that you take shifts and get something eat and some rest—you especially, Doctor Meadows—since you haven’t taken a break yet,” Janet pinned the woman with her eyes.
“Yes, ma’am,” Nancy said meekly.
“Good Airman, show the Doctor to the cafeteria and then her quarters. And I don’t want to see you for at least four hours,” Janet ordered.
Daniel watched as Nancy left and then he received a pointed stare from Janet.
“So, I guess that’s my cue to go find Jack and tell him about the Alterans,” Daniel said, even though he didn’t want to leave. He couldn’t make his legs work and that seemed to amuse everyone in the room.
“Go, Daniel,” Janet ordered. “You can come back in a few hours,” she promised him, like he was a wayward child.
He took a step towards the door and then another one so Janet turned back to her patient.
“Buffy I’m going to give you the medication to help with your dreams.” Daniel heard her informing the petite blonde. “It might make you drowsy at first and it would be best if you didn’t fight it because you really need the sleep. There is a reason…” The rest of what Janet was saying was lost as the door closed behind him.
Daniel took four quick steps towards Jack’s office and then stopped, and turned around to run towards his office.
He had to find out more about the Alterans before he really had any information to tell Jack. Ba’al had taken up where Anubis left off and Earth was in grave danger. If Daniel could find something more about the time he was Ascended, it might make it easier finding more information on the Ancient Weapon in Antarctica or maybe they could even find a Zero Point Module so they could contact their outpost in the Pegasus Galaxy.
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Giles sat in the conference room thinking about Sunnydale.
Thinking about how many times he had failed her.
He knew the reason he’d been so busy with the administration of the New Council was so he wouldn’t have to see the pain in her eyes. So he wouldn’t have to see the hurt and disappointment on her face. Back in Sunnydale, before Glory, he had had all the sage advice. If he told her he was so very proud of her, then as much as she would try to hide it, it would lift her spirits.
Yes, he had been among the ones who’d kicked her out of her own house during the battle with the First. Still, that wasn’t as important as trying to kick her out of his heart after her resurrection. He did the one thing that every other man in her life had done—he’d left—when she needed and depended on him the most.
Oh, he had good logical reasons for leaving then and in hindsight, it had been the right thing to do. However he didn’t leave because of logic—he’d left because it all came down to seeing her lying in her coffin so very, very still and the knowledge that it would happen again.
“I’ll take it from here Airman,” General O’Neill said to Giles’ silent companion. The General was out of uniform and quietly closed the door to the room.
The General walked over to Giles and reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out two cans of John Smith’s best bitter.
“Mind if I sit?” he asked, handing one of the cans to Giles. He then reached for a chair from the table and pulled it closer to Giles.
“Thank you, General,” Giles said formally. He wasn’t sure why the General was here or what he wanted.
“Please, call me Jack or O’Neill. I can’t get used to hearing General, it just seems wrong somehow. Like I should have a stick stuck—well, it just seems wrong—that I’m now ‘The Man.’” Jack said, staring straight in front of him, being careful to give Giles his space.
“Buffy labeled me Giles when I first met her in High School and it’s stuck ever since,” Giles replied. “It’s now strange to hear Dr. or Mr. Giles, instead of just plain Giles.” He couldn’t believe how he babbled on like Willow. “So please, just use Giles.”
“Giles, it is then,” O’Neill offered his can in a toast which Giles accepted.
Giles sat trying to think of anything other than Buffy lying on the couch that morning. He tried to think of anything to keep from remembering that he’d nearly failed her – again.
“So, Frasier thought you would like to know that your girl was awake and able to understand her treatment options,” O’Neill said, mildly, keeping his eyes firmly on the wall beside Giles. The General took a sip or two of his beer.
Giles sat drinking his beer and trying to figure out a way to escape. He wanted to leave, to run and hide back in London. He didn’t want to make choices that could hurt Buffy or cause her to hate him anymore than she already did. He couldn’t face her anger over his handing her over to the military because he failed to find a cure for whatever it was that was plaguing her. Yet, he couldn’t force himself to even stand-up from the chair he’d been glued to for the past hour.
“You know, Giles, I think being a General is the toughest job in the world. When you’re a grunt in a war, in day-to-day fights for your life, the only way to stay alive is to trust and yes, love, your teammate. You form a bond that nothing can break.” O’Neill said, softly. “Only, when you’re a General, you have to send those same people off to fight and die, because everyone’s luck runs out sometime. Oh, we’re trained to get the job done, to keep fighting and move on when one of us falls. Some Generals can detach their emotions and try to see their men as nothing but tools or weapons. Sometimes, I wish I knew how they did it.”
“No, you don’t,” Giles told him, earnestly, shaking his head and lending forward. “Seeing your men asindividuals helps you know their strengths and weakness. When you understand their limits, you have an edge on the Generals who only see them as tools to fight their war.”
“That’s true. Only what happens when you love one of your ‘weapons’
as if they were a son or a daughter?” O’Neill asked, still keeping his eyes on the wall. Giles could tell the man was trying to give him space. Trying not to push.
“Its natural to try to pull back, to try to protect your heart,” O’Neill continued. “It’s our hearts that separates us from the Goa’uld or the demons.
“Though, let me tell you a secret: the pulling back thing? It doesn’t work.”
And Giles realized what his heart already knew: Jack was right.
“And when you make mistakes?” Giles asked.
“You say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness and move on, because if you sit here in the dark keeping score of your failures, then eventually you’ll start keeping a list of their failures. And when that happens, you don’t have friendship, you only have bitterness… Like this beer. How do you Brits drink this stuff?"
“Americans have no appreciation of fine beers, because all your beers are half water,” Giles retorted accepting the General’s effort at lightening and changing the conversation.
Jack O’Neill had made his point. When it came down to it, Giles just wanted Buffy to be happy, like all fathers want their daughters to be when they grow-up.
“Now, Frasier also told me that before Miss Summers went back to sleep she’d asked for you, twice. What do you say we finish these up and go see if she’s awake?”
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Jack walked down the hallways toward the infirmary with Giles next to him. They were almost to the door when Dr. Frasier exited.
“General, Dr Giles,” she greeted them with that evil smile she had perfected. When she smiled like that Jack couldn’t tell what was coming next--a joke or a big honking needle.
“Dr Giles, Miss Summers, and well, two of the Slayers just dozed off. I would hate to wake them right now but if you would like to go into the observation room you can keep an eye on them there.”
“Yes, of course, Doctor, thank you.” Giles answered, and Jack thought he appeared relieved.
“Airman?” Frasier waved at one of the SPs standing by the door. “Would you show Dr Giles to the observation room and get him some tea and food from the cafeteria.”
“Yes, sir!” The young man said, standing at attention. His hand twitched a salute at the two officers. “This way sir,” the young SP led Giles to the door of the room and a few moments later left in the direction of the cafeteria.
“So, what’s up, Doc?” Jack smiled at his joke. He loved to play verbal wits with the doctor now that she didn’t have the authority to demand physicals with the aforementioned big honking needle.
“Well, you see, sir, I think we need to ask for nine more Slayers, for a total of twelve to help with Miss Summers’ care.” Frasier said, then stepped back waiting for the explosion.
“Geese Louise, Doc, with twelve of those girls--I mean women--they could take over the SGC in an hour and there would be nothing we could do about it. I’ve already canceled passes and added extra Marines just in case some Goa’uld picks now to attack us. If something happens to one of them, we would be in serious trouble. And that’s with only the three we have here now.” Jack just couldn’t believe it. Didn’t Frasier see the film of Summers single handedly take down two full Special Forces squads in twenty-seven seconds? If he could just ask them if they could help in case of a Goa’uld attack--however that was the thing he couldn’t do. They didn’t know how to fight the Goa’uld and besides, they are simply too young to be fighting.
“I know what I’m asking for, Sir, “Janet immediately replied. “Its just that the three girls who came with Miss Summers are incredibly stressed and tired.”
“To be honest, if I knew how they would react to the Prim’ta, I would request that you recall Teal’c and ask him to bring a few of his friends so they could spar, to let the Slayers work off their energy,” Janet said, shaking her head. Her brown eyes were as close to pleading as he’d ever seen. The doctor took the care of all her patients personally, though Summers seemed to have touched the doctor more than normal.
“What’s up, Frasier? I want the whole story, now.” Jack demanded, shifting into “General mode” and he watched as the diminutive doctor turned away from him. He was getting a bad feeling about this situation.
“Sir, she’s just been through so much. I’ve read her file and now that I know she died, too--I lose a lot of people and she’s the strongest—“ Janet broke off her attempt at an explanation.
“Sorry sir, I’m not saying this right,” she said after a moments pause. “Miss Summers is--I just admire her, sir. She could be one of us, like you or Sam, and I want to do everything I can to help her.” The doctor was at a loss for words and that was new to Jack. Frasier never stumbled over what she was trying to say--never.
“And nine more Slayers will give her a better chance?” Jack asked, just to be sure. He was already thinking that he’d need to pull some of the security from the Academy for the upper levels.
“Yes, sir. I think they all have some kind of link that her illness either broke or weakened. She was on the verge of becoming completely uncontrollable. I had already signaled the SP to use a Zat, when her Slayers just touched her and she immediately calmed down.” Frasier said, still facing away from Jack. “However, the three Slayers here are tired from the past two weeks and more than upset at the loss of the bond. Right now the youngest one, Tracy, won’t stop holding her hand for fear that if she stops touching Buffy the link will dissolve again.”
“The kid sounds traumatized by what’s happened,” Jack thought. ‘She really should be at home, thinking about what to wear to her prom?’
Jack knew he could never say that out loud.
“Sir, I don’t think you’re off the mark,” Frasier answered. Tracy wasn’t the only one who was reluctant to release their Slayer Prime--both Spring and Nancy was too.
“You want to have twelve so they can take shifts keeping Summers quiet, and so these three can get some rest?” Jack surmised.
“Pretty much, yes. And so they can spar with each other to burn off the energy that’s been building in them over the past few weeks, too.” Janet said, as a nurse walked up to the doctor to hand her a piece of paper with—doctor stuff as Jack thought of it, written on it.
“This is good, thank you.” Janet nodded as she dismissed the nurse.
“Anything I need to know about?” Jack asked.
“No, just Miss Summers’ latest labs,” she said. “So, the extra Slayers?”
“Yeah, I’ll go ask Giles about it now,” Jack turned to head towards the observation room.
“Wait, Sir. Did Daniel find you?” Frasier stopped him.
“No-o-o, and why?” Jack couldn’t stop feeling slightly miffed.
He had been on his way home, when Frasier asked him to check on Giles. Sam was home for the first time in a month and he really missed her. Talking to Giles wasn’t really an issue, but now Daniel needed him?
He really did hate being ‘The Man.’
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Thank you for reading my story!