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Fragile Existence

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Fragile Existence Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: A clean slate opens up a whole new existence for Jack.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > General > Characters: mini-Jack(Past Donor)LaneyFR153299,134128614342,98123 Jun 0312 Jun 10No
CoA Winner

Chapter 32

Author's Note: This fic 'verse is AU from Season 2 Finale of Angel so the events from then onwards haven't occurred in this 'verse. That means no Connor, no Jasmine, and no Illyria.

Oh, how I would have loved to incorporate season 5 Angel in this fic, but given that this fic is AU from Grave and that there is no First, no extra Slayers and no dead Spike, half the events that occurred in Season 5 Angel wouldn't have happened anyway or at the very least they wouldn't have made sense. Besides, if Angel worked for Wolfram and Hart, Buffy wouldn't have called him to help Dawn.



Oh this was bad. Really, really bad.

Kit bit her lip and tried to stop herself from having the mother of all wigs. As soon as that agent said he wanted to talk, Kit's stomach had fallen to her feet. She just knew Jack was who they were going to ask about. It couldn't be anyone else. The fact that they were here now, and asking questions, because of something other than Buffy's call for help, was just too much of a coincidence. So they had to be here for Jack. Her 'half-brother'.

Knowing they were here for Jack had her instantly imagining the fight that she knew would occur if they tried to hurt their newest friend. Kit had seen Buffy in action too many times not to know that she could easily handle the four 'agents' if needed. Kit had no doubt Buffy would kick their asses if they so much as touched Jack. And, of course, Kit knew she couldn't stand back and do nothing if Jack was under threat, either. Not after the way he had fought for them with the Creeps, or the way he protected Dawn.

God, her mom was going to kill her if she got into trouble with the government.

"You know, this really isn't a good time for a chat," Buffy insisted, no doubt as desperate as the rest of them to avoid this conversation.

"As I already said, Ms Summers, we will be finished before Finn has those numbers for you," the Agent, Kit wasn't sure which one, said.

"Okay, we'll talk." Buffy turned to face the Scoobies. "Guys, why don't the rest of you start researching for Dawn and I'll answer all the quest – "

"Actually, Ms Summers, we need to speak to all of your people."

Kit's heart sank. That was so not a good sign.

Buffy didn't think so either because she froze and gave the agent who spoke a look that would have had a vampire scurrying into the night. "I thought you came here to ask me a few questions."

The agent shook his head. "Your friends might be able to help us with the information we need."

Kit stiffened at the words and her heart started pounding loudly.

"What kind of information?" Giles asked in a tone that sent a shiver down her spine.

Kit's interaction with Giles had been limited, but each interaction Giles had always come across as kind of... stuffy. Kit didn't think Giles was stuffy anymore. In fact, he was kind of scary. Instinctively, she found herself moving a little closer to the Watcher. The action, to Kit's horror, caught the attention of one of the agents. He was standing behind all the others, holding a briefcase, and watching her with a curious expression.

Kit didn't like curious expressions.

~ * ~ * ~



"So you got all that, kid?"

"Yeah, I got it," Carlos said. He had memorised all the descriptions of his allies exactly as, er Jack-Two had described them. He was ready to go downstairs and help Jack.

Carlos wasn't surprised when he felt a stab of nervousness at the thought of hanging up the phone and venturing outside Dawn's bedroom. Not because he was worried he couldn't lie, but because Jack would be in deep shit if he screwed this up. Carlos didn't want to screw this up for Jack.

"Kid, you okay?" Jack-Two asked when Carlos became too quiet.

"Yeah, sorry, I'm just... I want to do this right for Jack." God, could he sound any more like a girl?

"You'll be fine. You know what you need to do."

"What will you be doing while I'm lying my ass off?" Carlos wanted to know. "Are you going to come here to help Jack?"

Jack-Two sighed. "I wish I could, kid. Unfortunately, if I go to Sunnydale now I'll expose his position. We'll have to sit tight until it's safe."

He didn't like the sounds of that. "What if this doesn't work? What if I expose Jack's position?"

Jack-Two was quiet for a moment and then rattled off a phone number. Carlos scrambled to find a pen to write it down. "Once it's safe, I want you to call that number and ask for someone by the name of Cassie. Tell her that you're in her Ancient History class at college and you got her number from a friend. Ask her out on a date." He paused for a moment before adding. "If Jack is back, ask if she has a friend who could double with you. If he's not back, stick to the first question. I'll drop by her dorm and tell her to expect your call. If she doesn't hear from you in four hours, she'll call me and I'll know to send in the cavalry."

"I can't call you directly?"

"It's too risky," Jack-Two told him. "Don't worry, kid. Jack and his friend are going to be fine. I can say with absolute certainty that there isn't a situation Jack can't handle. He'll be okay and so will you."

Jack-Two was right. Everything was going to be fine. It had to be. "Okay, well, I'll call Cassie as soon as I can."

"Good luck, kid."

"You too," Carlos said and disconnected the call. Now that he was off the phone, his nervousness came flooding back. Could he really do this? What if he screwed it up? Carlos shook his head and took a deep breath. Jack-Two was right. He knew what to do and he'd be fine. Taking another deep breach Carlos turned to leave Dawn's bedroom – only to freeze before he'd taken even a step.

Someone was standing in front of the door.

Someone who Carlos didn't recognise.

For a heart-stopping moment he thought it was one of the Creeps, but every Creep he had seen was identical and this man was different from any other Creep he had seen. For one thing, he was taller and instead of short hair, this guy's hair was long and tied in dreadlocks. Not to mention that his clothes were different, they were... weird. He was wearing what looked like military boots and pants, which were held up with rope, with a long tan robe and a black vest. He didn't look like a Creep and he didn't look like he belonged with agents downstairs either.

"Who are you?" Carlos asked, wondering when he had snuck into the room and, more importantly, how. The windows were shut and he had locked Dawn's door when he first came up here. There was no way the guy could have gotten in here the 'normal' way without Carlos hearing.

This wasn't good.

More than anything, Carlos wanted to know who this man was. Was he here because of Jack and Dawn? Was he connected to Dawn and Jack's disappearance? He was unarmed, as far as Carlos could tell, but being Sunnydale that really didn't mean a whole lot. It was for that reason that Carlos hadn't rushed for the weapons he knew were hidden under Dawn's bed. While it looked like the two of them were a match physically, Carlos had no idea if the stranger was going to kill him the second he took a step. The fact that he was here in this room, without Buffy or Willow knowing about it, scared the absolute shit out of him. Willow set up wards all around the house. No one should have gotten in here without their knowledge.

"Do not be afraid," the man told him. "I am not here to harm you."

"Who are you?" Carlos repeated.

"I am Skaara."

~*~*~

"Yeah, what kind of information do you want from us?" Buffy asked, echoing Giles' question.

Xander and Willow both moved next to Buffy, flanking her on both sides. At that moment, Kit almost felt sorry for the agents. She had heard almost every story there was to hear about the Scoobies and the Slayer from Dawn, but until now Kit had never seen them all in action. Willow and Giles were living in England by the time she met Buffy and Dawn, so Kit had only witnessed Xander and Buffy together. Seeing all of them – Giles, too – was enough to make the overwhelming fear that Jack was in trouble fade because suddenly Kit knew, with absolute certainty, that these men posed no threat to Jack. Not with big-sister Buffy ready to pounce.

"Not the kind of information you're imagining," one of the agents assured her, looking a little uneasy. "We're not here to cause any trouble for you or your friends."

Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

"Ms Summers..." the Agent with the brief case, the one who had been staring at Kit a moment ago, began.

"Yes, Agent..."

"Barrett."

"Yes, Agent Barrett?"

He paused for a moment to take a breath before continuing. "Firstly, let me reassure you that none of your friends or family are in any trouble. We really did come here simply to ask you some questions. While I can understand your reluctance to trust the military or the government – "

Xander snorted.

"—I assure you that we're not from the Initiative, the program has been permanently disbanded, nor do we have any interest in establishing a similar operation. Actually..." He hesitated, his eyes briefly looking to his companions. "We're here to ensure that you and your operation remains as classified as possible."

Kit frowned and noticed Buffy's expression matching hers. That was not what she had been expecting to hear.

"I, ah, I don't understand. You're here to make sure we remain classified?" Buffy didn't bother to hide her confusion.

"Yes," Agent Barrett replied. "Right now, only a relatively small amount of people in the government and the military are aware of the existence of demons and your team. We've managed to limit your exposure to the National Intelligence Department and, obviously, the Marine Special Operations unit Major Finn is a part of. Along with those two departments, a very select few government officials are aware of what you do."

"And which government officials are those?" Giles wanted to know.

"The President, to name one."

Oh. Wow. Really?

"Okay, if you're here to make sure we're kept a secret, well there's no need to ask questions," Buffy pointed out. "Trust me when I say we're not going to go running to anyone and spill our secrets. We totally get the whole not telling the whole world thing."

Kit echoed that. If her mom found out she helped fight demons she would be grounded until she was thirty.

Agent Barrett shook his head at Buffy's words. "We're well aware of that fact, Ms Summers. It's not you we're concerned about."

Buffy sighed. "Why don't you just get to the point?"

"We're not here because of anything you or your friends have done." Agent Collins said, deciding to take control of the conversation. "Recently, it has come to our attention that a department of the US military has accessed your file and the files of Xander Harris and Riley Finn."

Buffy's eyes widened. "What does that mean?"

"That's what we're hoping to find out. We've tracked the person responsible for accessing your files, but so far they've been uncooperative in revealing how they found out your names. As far as we know, there's no way they should have known anything about you which means either they sent someone here to watch you or she came here herself."

"Who accessed our file?"

Agent Collins hesitated briefly before replying. "An Air Force Major by the name of Samantha Carter."

Kit froze at the mention of the name and she noticed Buffy do the same. Before the study date at the Bronze, Kit had insisted that Dawn recount every single moment she had shared with Jack. Kit had been so excited that the mysterious Jack Peters wanted to spend time with Dawn that she wanted to know everything. So, Dawn being Dawn, happily complied. She had told Kit all about their first interaction in their physics class. She had recounted word for word everything Jack had uttered – including a comment about killing someone by the name of Carter. Was Carter the Samantha Carter the agents were asking about? It seemed a little too much of a coincidence. Especially since Jack claimed his, er, father was in the Air Force. Kit had a feeling she knew who had accessed the records and why – Jack's 'father' or this Carter had accessed Buffy and Xander's records before sending him here for protection. It made sense.

"I take it you recognise the name?" Collins asked, forcing Kit's attention to him once again. To her dismay Collins' eyes went from her to Buffy.

He had notice her reaction, both of their reactions. Shit. Shit!

As soon as that realisation slammed into her, Kit started to panic. She was not really good at lying. Calling Jack her brother was one thing, but lying to these guys when they knew she knew something was quite another. Before she could get herself too worked up, a slight movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. It was Agent Barrett and he was staring right at her. It took her a second to realise why he had caught her attention. He was shaking his head from side to side. He was standing behind the other agents, so they couldn't see him, but Kit could see him clearly. It was like... It was like he wanted her to say...

"No," Kit blurted out before she could stop herself. Actually, she didn't want to stop herself. That was the answer she had intended to give, regardless of Agent Barrett's actions.

Agent Collins frowned. "I'm sorry, Miss..."

"My name is Kit," she supplied for him, not wanting to give out her surname. "And I mean no, I don't recognise the name."

Collins gave her a disbelieving look, as did the other two agents. The only one who looked remotely normal was Barrett, and Kit wasn't sure whether that was something to freak out about or not.

"I don't recognise the name either," Buffy stated, taking a step closer to her.

Kit felt Giles put a protective arm around her shoulders as the agents became obviously agitated. They didn't believe her or Buffy. To be honest, Kit wasn't surprised. Their reaction had been far too obvious. Now the two of them looked like they were hiding something, which they were. But there was no chance of her ever admitted where she heard the name because that would lead them straight to Jack.

Collins sighed. "Look, Ms Summers, Kit, it is obvious that you..."

Whatever Agent Collins was trying to say didn't make it out because at that moment every light in the house flickered and then went out, plunging them into darkness.

~ * ~ * ~

Skaara? Okay, well, that really didn't tell him anything. Carlos mentally kicked himself. Maybe he should have asked another question.

"What are you doing here?" There. That was a better question.

"I am here to stop you."

Stop him? That didn't sound good. "Stop me from doing what?" He wasn't doing anything! All he was planning to do was go downstairs and use Jack-Two's information to save their Jack. That couldn't be what he was talking about. Unless...

"O'Neill cannot help him."

Um... Huh? "What?"

Skaara nodded to the phone still in Carlos' hand. "O'Neill cannot help him."

O'Neill? Who was... Wait! He held up the phone and shook it. "O'Neill? You mean the guy I was just on the phone with?" Jack-Two?

"Yes. O'Neill cannot help him. He cannot help your O'N... Jack."

What? Was he serious? "Why not?" Carlos was confused. What the hell did he mean?

"By helping your Jack, O'Neill is helping them."

Ahhh... huh?

"The Others know O'Neill and those who fight with him. The Others know if O'Neill and his people become involved in your Jack's fight that O'Neill will cross the line and the rules will be broken. The Others have already allowed the rules to be bent, they will not allow them to be broken."

Carlos blinked. "I don't understand."

"You must tell your Jack all that I have said," Skaara continued, ignoring his words. "He must know that the rules The Others imposed on their brethren still apply, even today. O'Neill cannot help him. The Others will not allow it."

"You're not making any sense."

"You do not need to make sense of my words. Your Jack will understand. You must tell him that the descendants of the Alterans who fled the plague returned home many many years ago. The descendants of those Alterans still live today. O'Neill is one such descendant. "

Alterans? Plague? Descendants?

"The Others will not allow the punishment of their brethren to be broken." Skaara smiled sadly and to Carlos he almost looked sorry about what he was saying. "The Others are already allowing their brethren to do more than they should. They have allowed their brethren to leave this world and dimension momentarily unprotected to save your Jack, but The Others will not allow them to break the most fundamental rule of their punishment. No direct descendants can assist in your fight."

What? "The Others? Who are these Others?" Carlos demanded and then froze as the rest of what Skaara had said sunk in. "The Others' brethren have left this world unprotected to save our Jack? You know where Jack and Dawn are?" He felt a burst of hope at the thought.

Skaara ignored his questions. "Your Jack will understand all that I've said and he must obey. O'Neill cannot help him. You cannot use the information O'Neill has shared with you to save him."

What? Oh no. Hell no! "If I don't go downstairs and tell these guys then they'll stick around and might find out about Jack! No. I'm sorry. I can't risk that."

"O'Neill cannot help him."

He was like a broken record. "I can't not help Jack. Can't these Others help him like their brethren are?" If someone was trying to save Jack, then that meant he had to get the agents downstairs out of the house. Who knew when Jack would appear out of nowhere like Skaara did. "Look, I don't understand half the shit that you're saying, but I'm sorry, I can't let those guys downstairs find out about Jack. If The Others don't want me to use the information O'Neill gave me then they're going to have to help me instead." Carlos froze as soon as he finished his tirade, more than a little surprised by what he said.

Skaara stared for a full minute before smiling. Really smiling. "Very well."

Oh shit. Carlos frantically ran over his ultimatum in his head. Now that he thought about it, did he really want The Others helping him when he knew next to nothing about them?

"You must remember what I have said and tell your Jack," Skaara said, taking a step forward. "Also tell him that The Others wish to give him a warning."

Warnings were never good.

"Inform your Jack that a choice, when there is no choice, is still a choice."

Huh?

"And change, while temporary, is permanent."

A choice without a choice is still a choice? Change while temporary is permanent? What the hell did that mean? Before Carlos could ask Skaara took another step towards him. Then another. Then another until he was standing right in front of him.

"Hey! What are you doing?" Carlos demanded when Skaara reached out to touch him.

He tried to move back, but he wasn't fast enough. The second Skaara's hand 'touched' his arm – or rather passed through it – Carlos' legs gave out from under him. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was the lights in the room flickering.

Then there was just blackness.

~*~*~

"Buffy, please tell me you forgot to pay the electricity bill!" Xander begged.

She shook her head. "Nope, bills all paid," she muttered, her slayer senses going into overdrive. The first thing she noticed was that it was dark, too dark. She couldn't see anything. There wasn't even a light coming into the room from the full moon she knew was shining outside. She had a bad feeling about this. "Ahh, Will, can you give me a little light?"

Willow muttered a word quietly in Latin and Buffy waiting patiently for the room to light up, even just a little.

Nothing happened. "Will?"

"It's not working, Buffy. I can feel my magic, but the spell's not working. Something is blocking it."

Oh, she really had a bad feeling about this. "Nobody move," she ordered.

"So not a problem," Xander muttered.

"Is anyone hurt?" Giles asked.

One by one they replied.

Well, one by one the Scoobies answered, as well as Kit. There was no answer, however, from their guests.

"Agent Collins?" Buffy called out into the darkness. "Riley?"

No answer.

"Oh God!" Kit exclaimed. "CARLOS!"

No answer.

"CARLOS!" Kit screamed out again, panicked.

Still no answer.

Buffy heard Giles whispering quietly to Kit, no doubt telling her not to go running blindly up the stairs and to let Buffy do her job and that Carlos would be fine. Unfortunately, she had no idea where to start. "Will, you want to try that spell again?" Light would probably be a good start.

Willow muttered the spell once again, but like before nothing happened.

That made Buffy feel more than a little uneasy. "Okay, I need you guys to stay where you are, I'm going to –"

Her words were cut off by someone shouting her name... A very familiar someone. "Angel?" As soon as she uttered Angel's name the lights flicked back on.

Momentarily, they were all blinded, but over the next few minutes four things came to Buffy. The first, and most obvious, was that Angel and his team were here. The second was that her friends, those downstairs, were okay. The third was that Carlos was not so okay; they found him in Dawn's room on the floor unconscious.

The fourth was that Riley and the agents were gone.

~*~*~


Doctor Daniel Jackson dropped his pen onto his desk in frustration. It was getting harder and harder to concentrate. All he could think about was Jack and Clone-Jack. It had been far too long since Jack left the base to warn his clone that the NID were on their way to Sunnydale and Daniel was slowly going insane. He didn't want anything to happen to Jack... either Jack. He sighed and silently debated whether or not it was wise to call his Jack. It probably wouldn't be all that wise, the NID would be –

"Hello Dan'yel."

Daniel's head snapped up at the voice. The all too familiar voice of his dead – ascended, rather – brother-in-law. "Skaara?"

Both joy and fear gripped Daniel at the sight of his brother and friend. Joy, because this was the first time he had seen Skaara in his ascended form. Fear because Skaara was not alone. No, behind him were five men... All of whom were lying unconscious on the floor. One of them Daniel recognised as Agent Barrett.

"Ah, Skaara, what's going on?" Daniel asked as he slowly rose from his seat.

"The Others require your assistance."

The End?

You have reached the end of "Fragile Existence" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 12 Jun 10.

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