Chapter 17: To Buffy or Not to Buffy
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines.
Thanks as always for the many kind and stimulating reviews.
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapter 17: To Buffy of Not to Buffy
Santiago, Cuba, October 2007
“You’re where?!” Hammond shouted.
“Santiago de Cuba. Cuba,” Jack said. “Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here….”
“What the hell are you doing in Cuba?”
“Well, we had breakfast at this charming
little private café and then we had a lovely walk around the harbor, and then the girls made Teal’c go shopping with them, while Daniel and I went with Dawn to Dinosaur Land… and now we’re meeting for brunch at the fabulous
Hotel Melia,” he paused, smiling while Hammond sputtered on the other side of the call, then went on,
“I am being serious, sir. … well, accurate anyway. … Because Daniel is weird and he and Dawn are having a big honking geek-off, sir, and there’s nothing geekier than big cement dinosaurs … No, sir, I don’t know where we’re going yet, Harris has been very open about not telling me …”
Jack hesitated, a Cuban hotel phone was not exactly a secure line of communication, but then he thought, the hell with it, he was actually a little curious to see what would happen if Harris ran afoul of the local authorities. It would not, he thought, go well for the home team. He went on,
“No, Harris and his moll are off doing something illegal while we play tourist…. I understand, sir, but these folks seem to think borders and laws are things that happen to other people … and so far they seem to be right so I really think a diplomatic incident is the least of our worries…”
“But did you find…..”
“Sir, just to remind you this is an open line….”
“I know that, Jack. I was going to say, did you find what you were looking for?”
“Yes, sir, with all the trimmings, details when I can sir.“
It occurred to Jack as he hung up the phone that he’d been telling the truth, or nearly. Maybe it wasn’t quite wonderful,
and he was actually glad Hammond wasn’t
there, but he was
having a good time.
Finding pirate treasure, couldn’t beat that for fun. He’d actually had a pleasant evening playing dominos with the old men and Jean-Luc, whose company he’d come to enjoy. Last night on the boat passing the rum around, hanging out and shooting the shit, warm tropic air, languid girls in bikinis laughing infectiously and telling tales of gothic violence … it had been like listening to ghost stories around a campfire except for the probably being true part…. Although come to think of it now that he’d met a vampire he might need to reassess a childhood ghost tale or two.
The geek kid, Andrew, had finally released Teal’c from his interview and the two had come to join the party, Renee and Jun had come down from the bridge and finding all the chairs taken decided Teal’c’s knees were the best seats in the house … that was an image Jack figured would make him smile for years to come.
The pothead Captain had come down, casually consigning the navigation to the auto-pilot and took the seat Harris and Faith vacated, saying they were heading up to the bow to “watch for icebergs” … and once the “can you believe Faith and Xander did it in a hearse/helicopter/hedgerow/hurricane/who knows where else…” stories died down Jack found himself having a long talk with the Captain, who, as it turned out, shared a similar fishing-isn’t-about-fish attitude. They made elaborate plans neither expected to follow through on for Jack to charter the Captain’s own smaller boat … this one, he explained belonged to Doña Irina… for a guaranteed fish-free fishing trip….
As that conversation wound down he’d noticed Buffy staring at him… he’d been vaguely aware of her not particularly friendly eyes on him all night, but now she’d given up any pretense was simply watching him. He raised in eyebrow.
“You like to fish without catching any fish?” she asked.
“Yes… It’s just that its nice to just ….”
“No, no, I get it. Lots of times I go shopping without buying anything….”
There was a snort from the companionway steps where Dawn was sitting now. “Once. And you forgot your purse.”
“Quiet in the peanut gallery. And you don’t know. I go shopping lots of times without you.”
“Oh, no, Buffy, I’m crushed. How could you ….” Dawn falsettoed, slapping a wrist to her forehead.
“I had a point,” Buffy said, returning to Jack. “Oh, yeah. So, if you did catch a fish, like by accident, like a real little fish and somebody told you if you tasered it would turn into a big shark, like…. a were-shark, what would you do?”
“Little fish. Zap. Big fish. What you do, zap it or throw it back? Simple question.”
“Throw it back. Why would I want a big shark in the boat?”
“Okay then. Well, I’m going to bed. Good night, Colonel, see you tomorrow.”
“What was that?” Jack asked the Captain.
“I’m not sure but I think that means you’re not gonna get buffied tonight.”
“Oh. Is that good?”
“Miz Summers … well I gather she wasn’t real happy when Xander decided to bring your team in on this, and on trip down I overheard Dawn and Caridad making bets about if you were gonna get buffied. Now I don’t know exactly what that means, but sometimes the girls say things like, ‘Let’s go buffy the bastards,’ and they never say , ‘Let’s go get buffied,’ so draw your own conclusions. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean saying ‘Goodnight, Colonel’ all polite and civil like and going to bed. So count your blessings.”
Jack had gone to his bunk a bit puzzled but with a pleasant buzz, it had been damn good rum, after all. He’d lain back, listening to the low grumble of the engines and thinking idly about how long it had been since he’d had had a similar evening. Thought about how much of a recluse he’d let himself become since Charlie died. It wasn’t bad, really, he’d adjusted, grown accustomed to the quiet, travelling to new planets brought enough excitement into his life, the peace of his home usually a welcome refuge.
And SG1 had obviously become a second family… but the truth was they didn’t just hang all that often, and if they often shared a smile and a head shake, contagious giggle fits like those that had rolled through the group last night would be treated with concern by Dr. Fraiser.
He had to admit it felt good to be out, sharing meals with fresh faces… as well, spending casual, expectation free time in female company was an agreeable, refreshing change. A little bit of that could go a long way of course, but Jack figured he had some distance to go before he reached his threshold.
And now the girls were back from the shopping trip, coming into the hotel like a walking floral arrangement, all looking very fine in new brightly colored tropic weight skirt and blouse combos … including Carter, who, Jack happened to notice, had joined the younger women in showing a bit of cleavage, a strip of flat abs and a length of leg BDU’s just never really did justice to.
Teal’c was resplendent, sporting a new straw hat and cream guayabera .... Jack was almost certain he caught the big man checking himself out in the reflective glass of a shop window...
Dawn had given up arguing, Jack wasn’t quite sure whether in Latin
or about Latin
with Daniel and was squealing over something Buffy had brought her. And then the petite blonde was striding over to him, demanding,
“Shades off, Colonel,” and when he’d complied she held first one tan shirt then a second beside his face, then frowned and held them both up, one on each side and considered for a moment, then, for no reason Jack could fathom, picked one and pressed it against his chest until he took it. “Put it on, ” she ordered, “I know Xander likes to blend but since I really don’t think that’s happening we might as well travel in style.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said and for just a second he saw something cold and hard and just a little unnerving looking out of the oldest slayer’s eyes, then it was gone and she was shaking her finger at him, smiling,
Jack. Make you a deal. You don’t call me ‘ma’am’ and I don’t call you ‘Admiral.’”
“Yes, ma…. Deal,” Jack said.
About a half hour later Harris and Faith arrived and passed through the upscale tourist hotel lobby like sharks bringing dark shadows to a sunlit lagoon and joined the group at the table. Faith had a sword strapped on her back, Jack saw one of the waiters gird himself to remonstrate and think better of it. Harris began dealing out packets of little red pills marked “Malarone,” a malaria prophylactic, Jack discovered, reading the label on the back.
“I assume you guys have your shots for all the basics, yellow fever and so on,” Harris asked Jack, who nodded. “Teal’c, I’m sorry, I have no idea whether those are good for you or not. If you don’t use them, give them back, we’ll distribute the extras at the destination. The rest of you, one now, one a day with a meal from now until seven days after it’s all over.”
“So this means we’re going where and when?” Jack asked.
“Somewhere warm and wet and soon, but not tonight. Tonight we’re going to paradise.“
Kas, Turkey, September 2007
Kadri parked his moto in the usual spot behind his shop. The autumn afternoon was pleasantly cool and he left the back door open and went through to the front to let the breeze in to clear the stale air. He took a moment to sweep the sidewalk, looking around at the still mostly deserted town. Many had stayed in the valley, hoping the miracle would remain even with the Goddess gone but Kadri knew better.
He hadn’t waited. He had watched the three barges come up the river, watched the work being done to make the crafts Godworthy. He had watched Geb mount her throne and glide away down the river, attended by her guards and handmaidens like a movie star Cleopatra. And then he had climbed the hill, unchained his moto and pushed it until he found a steep enough slope to get moving fast enough to kick the starter over when he put it in gear. And he’d come home. He’d had no desire to watch the river turn into a dry bed, no need to watch the coffee and the grapes and all the flowers and the fruits wither, no desire to watch the banana plant die.
No need to watch the people’s joy turn to anger and despair. Kadri ran his finger over the sign-of-Geb tattoo on the back of his left hand. He felt a little sadness but no anger. When a man receives a miracle he should not complain that it didn’t last long enough, he should be grateful to have had a miracle at all. Many a man went his whole life without the chance to visit paradise, to eat his fill and sleep until he was rested, to watch the girls until he found even that appetite could be satisfied. By a certain dark-eyed widow, on a soft blanket beneath the stars, Kadri recalled with a smile. The Goddess Geb had made those nights possible, he would never be anything but grateful to her for that.
Before she left Geb had claimed she was leaving in order to make of the whole world a garden. And who knew, perhaps she would. She had surprised him before, perhaps she would again. But Kadri wasn’t holding his breath.
Besides it wasn’t like he was being consigned to hell. He was back in Kas,
by the sea, with the beach, the cafes, the balmy weather, not paradise perhaps but not bad either. And besides, he had given the widow directions to his shop and, who knew, perhaps one day she would come in. Making love beneath the stars was lovely, but home in bed wasn’t bad either. And if she could cook as well…
He went back inside and swept the shop, steeled himself to the pain of the money lost and grabbed a bag and went around gathering up all the perishables that had dutifully perished in his absence. Tomorrow he would begin, carefully, to restock. The people would be back, this week, next, he would have to wait and see. But when they came…
He went into his cramped office, found paper and a marker, thought a moment. Probably best not to use the name Geb, people might think it mockery, or worse, decide to take their anger out on him simply by association. He wrote, People of the Lost Garden
Free Credit for One Month
Yes, he thought, that should be… neutral enough. He looked at the sign some more, then added, in slightly smaller letters; Limit YTL150 per customer
There was no need to get carried away. After all, it had only been a small miracle.
County of Devon, England October 2007
“You’re going to die,” Giles said. There was a tone in his voice, a look in his eye Janet Fraiser hadn’t seen before. She chided herself for being surprised, given the man’s life, of course he had a hard side.
The goa’uld who called himself Perkunas flashed his eyes and answered, “The host will die as well. “
“Perhaps. Perhaps not. That’s the point of the experiment. But no matter what, you
will die. If you survive the removal we’re going to dissect you. Unless you agree to leave willingly.”
“And go where?”
“With Dr. Fraiser’s help we’ve created a stasis jar, it will keep you alive indefinitely. You have my word that when we can find a willing host, you will be the first awoken.”
“Your word,” the goa’uld spat.
“Is your only hope.”
“Some frail half-dead cancerous …. Pah. This is pointless. Geb will destroy you first anyway.”
“Last chance. “
“You will all die, and those who don’t will be slaves and the gao’uld will rule here as we should have ….”
“So be it,” Giles said, “Lillian, please.”
“Hold,” a voice said softly, and the goa’uld froze and, of course, went silent.
Fraiser shook her head. It was one thing to accept magic as a mental construct, as a possibility, it was still another to see it in action. The woman who had spoken was …. Well it was hard to tell how old she was and Fraiser wasn’t about to ask. She had long gray-going-white hair tumbling down her back, but her face seemed relatively youthful, she wore jeans and a peasant blouse and she moved with a contained energy that Fraiser, weary to the bone, envied.
“Rupert,” the woman said, “are you sure?”
“Lillian … the only way to find out if it works is to try it. Dr. Fraiser, if you’re uncomfortable with this …”
“No,” she answered. “I’ve no problem with killing a goa’uld, and I think there’s a pretty good chance that if the host does die it will be a mercy.”
“Okay.” Giles unlocked the cell door then, the gurney was brought in and the Goa’uld strapped down, taken down the lift to the lab, moved into the center of the pentagram. His clothes were cut away and the his body painted, all but tiny circle on the back of his neck, with a foul-smelling gray paste. The younger witch wielding the paint brush stepped away and nodded and Lillian said,
“Release,” and the goa’uld began to thrash and curse, a second witch stepped forward, blew a powder off her hand into the goa’ulds face and spoke and the goa’uld went limp. Lillian stepped forward then, onto one of the five points as four others took up their posts and began to chant, slowly the gray paste began to glow a dim green-violet color, and then it was Fraiser’s turn. One of the witches set up a platform just over the goa’ulds neck for her to brace her hand on. Fraiser took the syringe full of a pale yellow fluid she had helped concoct, and stepped forward, feeling a slight frisson
run down her back as she entered the circle.
She braced her hand and feeling the open area on the back of the neck with one finger she found the spot she wanted and pushed the needle in until she felt the sudden give that told her she’d pierced the goa’uld, then pushed in just a little further, then injected the fluid and stepped back, felt Giles reach out and take her arm and pull her gently all the way back out of the circle as the witches began to chant again.
The goa’uld stiffened, emitted a high wail that seemed endless, but slowly began to weaken…the skin on the bare spot ruptured and a yellowish pus-like fluid began to ooze out of the wound and the scream came to a halt. Fraiser stood watching, mesmerized as the fluid continued to flow, faster, clumps began to appear, sliding off the side the neck and pooling on the gurney.
And then it was over, the last few dribbles emerged, the chant stopped and the glow faded. One of the witches hurried forward with a vacuum to clean up the effluent, a second felt for a pulse, and looked up, excited, announced,
They hosed the grey paste off and shifted the body to a clean bed, put an oxygen mask in place and began hooking up sensors, heartbeat slow but steady, blood pressure low but not alarmingly so. And then the EEG….
“Damn,” Giles said.
She found him sitting at the little table in the back garden, a sad figure in the gloaming, staring blankly down at an open notebook. She sat across from him, said,
“You know of course that many successful medical procedures have a few failures along the way. In this case, for all we know the host may have actually have died long ago.”
“Yes, Doctor, believe me I was fully expecting this result, even worse actually, it’s just that when she said he was alive….. Damn and bloody damn,” he erupted suddenly, “this is why your government’s insane insistence on secrecy is so appallingly short-sighted. Not to take anything way from your Major Carter but by now there would be hundreds, thousands of researchers studying the goa’uld, talking to one another… every major university on the planet would have a goa’uld studies program…… That’s how science progresses… read a little bloody history, every time there’s breakthrough some lucky bastard gets there first and gets the credit, but you almost always find there were others on the verge, others who had pushed each other forward,“ he threw his pen down hard on his notebook and sat back, glaring,
“For god’s sake, do they not understand that you don’t have to steal
advanced technology? …. Or wait to have it given? Tell the bright folks at MIT or Oxford or Stanford or even the bloody group of eight that you know for certain
be done and they’ll bloody well figure out how. …
six billion people on the planet, many of them with brains, a few of them with quite good
brains, we should bloody well use
them ….. And I’m terribly sorry, you’re certainly not the person I should be yelling at and besides I have no doubt the brilliant minds at number 10 would have done the same if they’d found the gate first. ….. “ he fell silent.
Fraiser smiled as he pulled out his handkerchief and started once again to polish pristine glasses. He inspected them, put them back on and was himself again.
“Again, my apologies. You must be tired, Doctor…”
“Please, I think we’ve been though enough together today that you can call me Janet. And I’m going to call you Rupert, and I’m going to say, Rupert, what is it you’re not telling me?”
“You’re… worried. You’re not just sad about your friend. You’re worried about something … With your friend the worst has already happened, but you’re looking forward. These goa’uld in your cells have apparently been around for centuries without causing a crisis so it must be something new. Is it this ‘Geb’ that Perkunas kept saying was going to destroy us all? Because, regardless of whether you think we should have kept the secret, we did. And that makes us the world experts in defeating dangerous goa’uld …. And if there is a genuine threat to the planet you need to bring us in on it. All the way in. As you said, we’re talking billions of lives here.”
“And we are not amateurs, Janet. And we have
brought you in, that’s why SG1 is with Xander now…. But we are not ready to cede control of the situation any more than your Generals would be if the situation were reversed… Besides, it may be optimistic of me but it’s not really Geb that worries me so much as what comes after. If all goes well there may be a significant number of goa’uld prisoners, probably an even a greater number of jaffa with, of course, the potentially dangerous goa’uld larvae maturing inside them. Obviously we cannot simply let them roam free which means some sort of prison will have to be arranged, where all the problems such institutions are prone to will only be exacerbated by the truly alien nature of the prisoners. And given the nature of what I understand to be the threat from the goa’uld in the rest of the galaxy the arguments for experimenting on that population will be overwhelming. Witness tonight’s events.”
He paused, took his glasses off, pulled out his handkerchief, looked at both a moment, then smiled and began to polish.
“It worries me. I think what we did here tonight was justified. Necessary. Done with the least possible amount of suffering and with the best of intentions. But you know what they say about the road to hell. Magic in and of itself is not good or evil. Magic is power and whether it is white or black is determined by the user … and once you take a step on the darkside it is so very tempting to take another …. It would not be good for the coven to do this sort of thing on regular basis. … And not to be too holier than thou, but this is a pretty touchy feely make love-not-war group here …. These goa’uld in the cages may not be willing to a make a deal to leave their hosts but they’re willing to make most any other deal to survive. What happens when some General starts thinking about how cool it would be to have his own squad of mercenary alien supersoldiers… It is an idea, I assure you, that is not without precedent. Or they might start thinking about how the jaffa might well be able to use bioweapons in a way ordinary humans would not. Plus there is the whole question of longevity …. Would you willingly become a jaffa if it meant you doubled your lifespan? What price would you pay? Suddenly the gao’uld are not an alien enemy but a valued commodity …. Well, I assume you can think of as many nightmare scenarios as I can.“
“Perhaps we should keep them a secret then,” Fraiser said. Giles laughed.
But it’s a little late for that I’m afraid. The wrong people already know. Better everybody knows than just the killer elite. … besides, we simply don’t have the capacity to create and maintain the facility that would be necessary, the SGC or some other organization would have to step in… If we can just find a way to quickly rescue the hosts and the relieve the jaffa of their need for the larvae we can eliminate the goa’uld on this planet before things go to far down the other path... They may be sapient creatures but I have spent my life in a fight against thinking, intelligent creatures who pose less threat to humanity as a whole then these goa’uld, and I have killed them without qualm. I have no problem choosing "us” over “them.” But the hosts and the jaffa are human and if we allow our fear of the Other or our greed for power to drive us to committing horrors of one kind or another on our own…. Well, there’s more than one way to lose your soul. But enough gloom and doom. We did make progress.” He stood, “Will you be staying here tonight or….”
“It is tempting,” she answered, standing to join him as they walked back toward the lab, “but if I don’t go and reassure General Hammond and Cassie that you don’t have me strapped to a table somewhere things could get ugly. But if the invitation is open I should like to return … this has been a very interesting experience, very different … well, I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this.”
“Of course. And bring Cassie… there is a stable just up the road, some of the girls here would be delighted to take her riding if you like. …. I’m afraid I am going to have to return to London and points elsewhere for the next few days, but I do hope our paths will cross again.”
“As do I,” Fraiser answered, “perhaps in happier circumstances.”
“One can only hope. In the meantime,” he reached into his vest pocket, pulled out a small envelope, “just a little thank you from the circle.”
Santiago to Havana, Cuba, October 2007
Harris had provided a van and a small panel truck and apparently some sort of incentive for the drivers to attempt to break the world land speed record. Fortunately the road was in good shape and not heavily trafficked.
They did have to slow at a line at a check point just outside of town, but Faith hopped out and swaggered up to the front of the line and handed the cop in charge a piece of paper, and suddenly the line was moving, the cheerful, grinning PNR officers waving everyone past….
“What the hell was that?” Jack asked as they slowed to let Faith jump back in. She grinned and handed him the square card. Oh, he thought, well, that makes sense, that’s all right then, cool, and he handed the card back.
Ten minutes later he thought, What the hell?
He looked up and saw Faith grinning at him. She handed him the card again.
Oh, he thought, well, that makes sense, that’s all right then, cool, and he handed the card back.
Ten minutes later he thought, What the hell?
Then he looked up and saw Faith smiling and he started thinking about the checkpoints you went through to get into the SGC and how the guard could pass you through if he had orders to do so… or thought he did. That little card could take Faith all the way to damn gate.
“Scary, huh,” the brunette said, apparently reading his mind. “Masterkey to the whole fucking world. And damn handy for getting out of speeding tickets.”
Every hour or so they would pause for a few minutes to stretch their legs and walk the goa’uld. At one stop Jack found himself sharing a bit of shade with Buffy, watching her watch Daniel and her sister whose verbal conversation still focused on the relative influences of aliens and demons on Ancient Egyptian history, but whose body language was growing progressively more intimate.
“I understood you were retired,” Jack said.
“I am, I’m just along to keep Dawnie out of trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Oh, probably just the normal kidnapped by demons thing, though I guess I have to add aliens to the list of usual suspects now.”
“She gets kidnapped often?”
“Well, she’s cut down a lot lately since she’s been hanging at home or at the council, but likely that just means she’s overdue.“
“Danny gets kidnapped kinda regular, too, no wonder they’re hitting it off …. Sooo, you’re okay with them … getting personal then?”
“Well, I was ‘til you said that kidnapping thing.” She sighed theatrically. “You figure them being together makes it more or less likely that they get abducted…” she looked up at him a moment, then smiled and shook her head, “Yeah, that’s what I think too. What kind of tracking gizmo do you have on him?”
“Don’t you have some kind of implant or alarm doohickey … oh. Well, remind me tomorrow, we’ll get with one of the witches and mojo a comefindme.
Saves time like you wouldn’t believe. …. But no, I’m not gonna go all big-sister-with-weapons if that’s what you’re worried about, I mean the whole Dawnie making out with Giles’ junior concept is giving me a mini-wig, but she’s a big girl, she can take care of herself. And if you don’t believe me just ask her.”
“So if he hurts her ….”
“I’ll reach down his throat, pull out his spine and crack it like a whip.”
“So I’d be careful if I was you,” Jack told Daniel later, “’cause I have a feeling that wasn’t a metaphor.”
“I’m not going to hurt her,
Jack,” Daniel said softly and Jack looked at the younger man a moment and understood.
“Oh,” he said, “I see,” and left it at that, since there really wasn’t anything else to say.
It was long past dark when they finally hit Havana, winding their way on a curving zig-zag path through the city and into a section of well-guarded beach houses, finally pausing at an iron gate. Harris jumped out and spoke into an intercom and the gate quietly opened and the vehicles pulled forward into the circular drive of the compound that contained a largish house that seemed at first glance to be open, light and airy. But at second glance, Jack noted with professional approval, the structure had been built to be defended, picking out what he was pretty sure were disguised gun ports on the roof, and masquerading as decorative windows high in the walls, the jutting corners giving clear fields of fire on all sides… the ornate ironwork that let the evening air flow through the house looked to be quite strong… someone with expertise in more than the aesthetic use of space had been the architect here. The van stopped just as the front door burst open, three girls came running out past it to, to Jack’s utter lack of surprise, leap into Harris’ arms as two more women, older but still stunning, appeared in the doorway behind them, smiling in welcome.
Maybe I should get an eyepatch, Jack thought.
He crept out of the van and stretched. In the distance, in between the girls chatter he thought he could hear the twang of a guitar being tuned,
“C’mon you guys,” one of the girls was saying, “You’re just in time, Mr. Giles and Javier are about to do that dueling banjos thing.”
“So, what are you gonna sing, Jack?” Renee asked, handing him his pack down from the rack on the van roof.
“What am I going to what?”
“It’s karaoke night at Camp Kendra, Jack, all first time visitors have to sing. It’s the rule.”
“That’s … not a good rule,” Jack said. Renee laughed and leaped down and picked up his pack and started toward the door. “Hey… “ he started after her, “No one
said anything about singing.