Chapt 2: Event Horizons
See Chapt. 1 for disclaimers, warnings, timelines
Secrets: A Father Goose Tale
A BTVS-SG1 Crossover
Chapt 2: Event Horizons
Camp Kendra, Cuba, June 2007
Renee sat cross-legged on the towel, hands resting on her knees, her fingers making the little thumb-to-index finger circles that were supposed to relax your forearm muscles. She peeked through half-closed eyes at the other girls in similar positions. She wondered how many of the others were faking it.
Seriously, how did they expect anyone
to meditate on a beach, let alone a slayer? She could hear the birds, the waves, the people down the shore, Dayami chopping something in the kitchen. She sneaked a glance at Willow, sitting cross-legged herself, facing the girls, her eyes closed, her red hair rustling in the breeze. Sitting about eight inches above the sand. Renee was pretty sure it was trick. Well, trick in the real magic sense, a levitation spell or something, but nothing to do with meditation. Renee was pretty sure. But not entirely. That was the thing with Willow. You never really knew what was going on with her. Maybe Xander did. Maybe Mr. Giles.
The girls made fun of her sometimes, Earth Mother Willow,
imitating the famous babble or the slightly distracted way she walked, looking around like she was seeing a lot of things nobody else was. Of course, the thing was, she probably did see things nobody else did. Things that were really there. Sometimes she just looked at the girls and smiled. Didn’t bother Renee, the witch had always been nice to her, plus she was the founder and president of the “Hurt Xander and Die Club” of which Renee was a fervent, card carrying member, so the witch was Good in her book, end of story.
But some of the girls found her unnerving and, so, being slayers, they mocked what they feared, but always in a low voice and looking carefully around for her. Or Xander. Fast-track to Xander’s doghouse, making fun of Willow.
And Renee wanted very much to stay on Xander’s good side. First, ‘cause she always wanted Xander to smile when he saw her. But also because, while officially Giles was the one who asked for volunteers and made the assignments, everyone knew Xander got final say over the girls that went on the special missions with him and Faith. Just as Dawn had final say on the girls that went on Buffy’s occasional special projects. And Renee wanted badly to go on the special missions, even if it did mean wading through fields of stinking zombies. She’d missed the Jamaica clean-up, and the attack of Wee-knuck demons in Perth and the Fyarl rebellion the Bronx. She’d only managed to get on to the Haiti clean-up by jumping up and down and playing the I-was-shot-in-Panama-and-I-need-to-get-back-on-the-horse-that-threw-me card. Actually she didn’t think she was fooling Xander at all with that one but she’d given him both the trembling lip and the tears welling in the eyes until Faith was laughing,
“For fuck’s sake, Xan if she wants to go that bad, let her. Just don’t bitch to me when you get your first case of the trots, kid.”
Of course, she hadn’t got sick at all, but some of the other girls had.
But this was part of the deal, to go on the missions, you had to go on the debriefings afterward. Sometimes, if the mission had just been cleaning out a nest of vamps or demons, that just meant a big party. But if it had been dirty, if humans or a fellow slayer got killed, you had to go through Willow’s cleansing process. You didn’t have
to. Faith didn’t have to. But Renee didn’t know anyone who had refused. It’s not like it was a bad time or anything. Just boring. At least she got to do it at Camp Kendra, she hadn’t ever been to Devon yet but this had to be better.
She realized Willow was standing now, stretching, speaking, “Thank you ladies, I expect Dayami has some lunch ready for you, Renee, would you stay a minute please.”
Oh, fuck. Now what? Her stomach rumbled.
The witch had put on a wide floppy hat and big sunglasses and had made Renee put on another layer of her special sunblock. They walked along the water’s edge, Renee on the ocean side, letting the surf just wash her feet on every seventh wave.
“The answer to your question,” Willow said, “is about half.”
“You were wondering how many of the girls were faking the meditation.”
Renee’s eyes went wide. “But.. but.. Xander said you couldn’t read minds.”
“Oh, honey, I didn’t need to read your mind, it was written all over your face. And as I said, about half, so no you weren’t the only one.”
“Well, I just don’t see the point,” Renee kicked some sand. “I did the right thing. Everyone, Faith, Xander, everyone says I did the right thing. I saved Jun Lee’s ass,” she snickered, “well, not her ass,
but I saved her life. I just don’t see why I should feel bad about it. Or even have to sit and think about it.”
“We don’t want you to feel bad about it. We just want to be sure that you can
think about it. And we want to be sure that it doesn’t get too easy. You have to understand, Renee, you’re a very important part of an entirely new situation. We don’t have all the answers, Xander, Giles, myself. We’re learning too. This is part of it. Meditation is good for some slayers, others, not so much. In your case, I think
the meditation session will no longer be mandatory.”
“You know, you could try not to look quite so happy about it. Hey, check it out.”
Renee looked down where Willow was pointing, just couple hands’ lengths out from Renee’s feet a brightly colored snake slithered through the water.
“Oh, that’s a pretty one,” Renee said.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed, looking at her just a little funny. “Speaking of snakes, what did you think of the snake things you found in Haiti?”
Renee shuddered. “Yuck, yuck with double blech points. So much worse than the zombies.”
“You mean the ones Faith and Shad found in the barons or the little ones in the guards?”
“Both. Well, the ones in the guards most, but that’s only cause I saw them when they were still alive and squirming and that one tried to jump on Andre and Ashley had to stomp it. Ewwwww.”
“What about the ones in the snake pit?”
“Oh, those were just snakes. Real snakes. I mean, I wouldn’t want them in my underwear drawer or anything, but they were just snakes. Those other things… yuck.”
“I see. Thank you. On that note, why don’t you go see if Dayami saved some lunch for you.“
Willow watched the young slayer sprint happily away. She never knew quite what to make of Renee. She was the most, for lack of a more watcherly phrase, the most natural-born slayer Willow had ever encountered.
Slayers as a whole were not a meek lot, nor overly given to introspection but Renee was the most purely, instinctively self-confident person Willow had ever met and yes she was massively jealous. Renee was, for example, the only slayer Willow knew who treated both Faith and Buffy as equals. Oh, there were girls like Caridad and Vi who had known them both long enough to be comfortable in their presence, but still there was just a touch of deference. And other girls of course nerved themselves up and made a show of their lack of deference which of course backfired completely. But Renee spoke to Faith or Buffy the same way she spoke to Jun Lee or Isobel…. Or Dayami for that matter. Faith of course loved her for it. Buffy was mostly amused, if just the slightest bit put out, which had so entertained Dawn she’d spent half the big Cleveland Christmas party finding ways to put the two of them together.
Renee was utterly unfazed by the battles, demons, vamps, men with guns, sludge monsters, all the same to her. She killed men in battle without second thought and, so the story went, once cried for two days after accidentally killing a baby bird while playing with a boomerang in the back yard of the Cleveland house.
So thank the Goddess she seemed naturally inclined toward the light, Willow thought, she wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what to do about it if she wasn’t.
Speaking of light Willow could tell by the blinding glare of white skin in sunshine that Giles was out by the pool. There was an antithetical concept if ever there was one. Not that she should talk, or was in a position to make fun of anybody’s pale white skin. She went to join him.
On the way she stopped at the jacuzzi where Corinth was soaking her aching muscles, looking sad. She was a big, athletic woman, much given to horseback riding. Willow suspected that deep down, beneath her vegetarian habits and her wiccan love of the earth and all its children she harbored a deep ancestral desire to chase foxes. Here there had been volleyball and swimming and dancing and couple scuba trips and of course Corinth had tried to keep up.
Willow sat on the jacuzzi’s edge, draped her legs down on either side of her, she suspected, not-for-much-longer lover, kissed the top of her head, felt her muscled shoulders, still tight despite the warm water.
“They’re slayers, Corrie. They’d leave Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the dust.”
“I know. I just hate it when they…. Take it easy on me. Go on.”
“Go on. You came out to talk to Giles. I’m fine.”
Yes, Willow thought, this one was over. She felt sad, but just a little. She wished she felt worse but… she didn’t. Soon, there would be another. She was probably the most powerful witch living, and power is of course an aphrodisiac. They came like moths … and if she was careful they left with their (and her) wings just a little singed. It suited her. Didn’t take a genius to know why she kept her distance, she wasn’t ready for another Tara, maybe she never would be. For now, she had a sweet-smelling salve for aching muscles, later she would spread it on Corrie’s sculptured body, they would make sad goodbye love to the sound of the surf and the distant dance bands and in the morning they would ‘port home and go their separate ways.
She went to join Giles.
And..?” he asked as she sat, referring to Renee, maintaining his customary and much appreciated feigned obliviousness to, and, Willow suspected, genuine disinterest in the romantic dramas swirling around him.
“Yep, just like the others. Even little miss wouldn’t flap in a hurricane gets the heebie jeebies just talking about those things. I conjured a snake at her feet and she didn’t even twitch, but just talking about the Haiti things and I could feel her revulsion.”
“And you? Any insights?”
“Nothing specific. I can sense that they are … at home here… and yet there is something … foreign. Not of the earth.”
“Killer snakemonsters from space?” Giles said with a smile.
“Possibly. More likely they came through a portal. But wherever they came from I think they, or rather their ancestors came here a long long time ago.”
“Shame they deteriorated so fast.” Giles said. “I suppose we really should start putting together some sort of evidence gathering kit with some cold storage capabilities. Or maybe a … I so hate to call it a crime scene team. It makes me feel like Inspector Plodder and if there’s one thing I always knew I never wanted to be it was that. Oh well. So, plans this afternoon?”
“Good. Irina has convinced me to let some shady friend of hers have a look at the weapons we recovered. I need you to help me make sure he leaves with nothing but his memories.”
“Do you need me to wipe….”
“No. Shouldn’t think so. I know you hate doing that. Still if he happens to shout ‘Eureka, so that’s
how to end the world by gum!’….”
“I’ll prepare a spell, just in case.”
Colorado October 2007
“Yes, Airman, what is it?” Samantha Carter said as the young woman, one of the numerous non-coms who served as cooks and bottle-washers to the base laboratories, approached her desk.
“Ma’am, I’ve obtained and watched the America’s Most Wanted
episodes as you requested. Permission to go home, lock the door and hide under the bed, ma’am.”
“Denied,” Carter said, smiling. “And?”
“There were several African-American males of above average size, I printed copies of their pictures,” the Airman said, holding out a folder, “but none that I believe particularly resembled Mr. Teal’c.”
“Actually, that’s really more for Colonel O’Neill… Nevermind, I’ll give them to him. Thank you Airman. Dismissed.”
Knowing better than to waste a trip down the hall on the very long shot that Jack was in his office Carter called ahead.
“Colonel,” she started when he answered, but got no further…
“Carter. Great, urgent, is it? I’ll come to you….” And he hung up. Thus trading, Carter realized ruefully, five minutes of having her in his office for at least two hours rambling around the base on his way to and from hers. He must have reports to write. Of course he had reports to write. He always had reports to write.
She wondered how much of his current obsession with their good Samaritans was simply an avoid-report-writing project. Well, she was just going to have to disappoint him. She’d figured it out.
A few minutes later he showed up, lounging in the doorway like the badboy at the school dance, “Whatchya got, Carter?”
She passed on the Airman’s pictures and verbal report, Jack nodded and glanced quickly at the images, looking pleased. Clearly it was exactly what he’d expected.
“You know what I wonder, Carter?” he said. “I wonder what would have happened if I’d said we’d just picked Teal’c up hitch-hiking at a truckstop.”
“Sir,” Carter said, “I think we may be making too much of this. Now that I’ve had time to think about it seems obvious what must have happened. The tires would have been hot initially and melted the snow, the water would have acted as a lubricating agent, making it that much more difficult to gain traction. Then during the time we were talking to the girls and hooking the chain up the tires cooled and the snow and water froze, creating an attachment to the tires that gave us enough traction to move forward and once moving the momentum enabled us to simply drive free, making any assistance from the car unnecessary.“
“Yu-huh,” Jack said, the skepticism large on his face. Okay, maybe she didn’t quite believe it either. But Occam’s razor still applied, even if sometimes the simplest answer in their world was “ancient aliens from another galaxy”, the principle was still sound. Ninety-nine times out a hundred it wasn’t ancient aliens from another galaxy. It was just more exciting and memorable when it was.
She wasn’t ready to believe in ...what, young girls strong enough to lift SUV’s running around rescuing stranded motorists?
Even if they had enhancement armbands hidden under their coats… perhaps a less extreme enhancement than the ones Anise had foisted on SG1 meant survivability?… That seemed to a be a pretty odd group to have such advanced tech.
Alien biker chick with a miniature anti-grav device?
Not when a bit of elementary physics would suffice.
“You get anything on the car?” Jack asked.
“Now, that’s a funny thing,” she said, pulling up the data file she’d compiled, preferring to do the work herself than explain to security why she wanted the check run. “Nineteen eighty two Jaguar XJ6, registered to a Mr. Delmar Karten of Encino, California. All taxes and insurance paid up. Pretty unremarkable, except that according to the Social Security Administration Mr. Karten died in 1988, at the age of sixty-seven. Murdered, a victim of a string of violent muggings in the area, according to the local paper. It’s just that no one told the DMV. He got a ticket for running a redlight in 1992, and three speeding tickets in 1992, ‘97 and 2001.
“Not bad for a dead man,” Jack said. “You don’t suppose that was him all bundled up, with the cane do you. He’d be what, eighty-eight, eighty-nine.
“If that was Karten, yes, but ….”
“Seemed to be doing pretty good with the ladies for an old geezer. ‘Course that was a really
“Sir, it’s much more likely someone else simply assumed the identity…”
“Yes, but not nearly as interesting…”
And then the klaxons were sounding, an unscheduled offworld activation was announced and they ran off to deal with more pressing matters which, as it happened turned out to be SG10 returning with their tails between their legs. Unfortunately, in this case, not a metaphor.
Leticia Kearney hurried through the evening chores, spreading the hay for her three horses in their stalls while the dogs, Buster and Keaton, herded the not unwilling sheep into the barn for the night. The three goats, Charlie, Harold and ClaraBow, making a point of their independence, made half serious butting runs at the dogs and came into the barn in their own good time, ie just in time for Leticia to spread their grain. She checked the book, it was ClaraBow’s turn but Harold was more accustomed to the ritual, seemed to take it as just part of being a goat. Or maybe it was just the apple addiction. In any case, Leticia was in a hurry this night, and besides she preferred Harold. She reached into the pen, lifted him and carried him into the fourth and empty horse stall. She had a big, crisp red McIntosh for him, he was already eagerly nosing her pockets for it. She let him find it, waited as he munched it down, then as he was noisily licking his lips and looking up hopefully for more she knelt beside him, spread the course hair away from the vein in his neck and bit firmly but gently and drank her breakfast.
Back in the house she shucked her chore clothes and took a quick shower, paused a moment contemplating her wardrobe, and decided to go with one of the more old-fashioned full skirt, blouse and jacket outfits she knew he liked. In the garage she unplugged the block heater and started up the 1954 International pick-up she kept in perfect running condition. They just didn’t make them like that anymore, good, simple, working machinery. She let the engine warm for awhile and then drove in to town.
She parked in the church lot across from the cemetery. She paused on the sidewalk and looked around, listened. There had been an influx of … rough types lately. Coarse, citified folks with no sense of place or propriety. But she could hear only the usual sounds of evening in Colorado Springs. She crossed the street and leapt easily over the fence and moved swiftly through the tombstones. Most of the snow from last weeks big storm was still there, thinly crusted over from, she presumed, the day’s sunshine melt, and the crunch of her footsteps echoed in the trees. She circled his crypt. She could see no footsteps going in or coming out. Well, maybe, she thought hopefully, he was just being careful. She took a little run and made a good leap herself, if he wasn’t leaving footsteps she wouldn’t either. She landed on the roof, moved over to the main doorway and dropped down, pushed it open and went inside, closed the door behind her. She rapped on the central sarcophagus, waited a polite minute or two and rapped again. Still no answer. She shifted the stone cover aside, reached down to unlatch the trap door and dropped down into his lair.
The air was dead, still. There was a light film of dust. And she knew. Truth be told, she’d known since he’d missed their usual Wednesday dinner. The sergeant had never had what you would call flowery manners, but he’d been inherently courteous. He would never stand a lady up without a very good reason, or without making every effort to apologize. He’d been very much a creature of habit. He never missed Wednesday, and he always dropped by at least on other day a week… never the same day twice in a row because he liked his freedom… But she hadn’t seen him since the big storm and she knew. She called out anyway,
“Marty? Hey, Marty!…. “ her voice echoed in the small room. “Ah, Marty,” she said softly. She’d tried a couple times to get him to move into a house. Money wasn’t a problem, she’d long ago become quite proficient managing her very long term investments, a house was pocket change, though she would have let him pay her back if he’d insisted. But that wasn’t it.
“If I’m a damn vampire,” he’d said insisting on the crypt. “I might as well be a damn Vampire.”
She smiled. Of course that didn’t stop him from making himself comfortable. He had an old wooden rocker, the best stereo system and home theatre he could steal, a half-fridge filled with blood and Coors which he bought by the case at the nearby liquor store despite her standing offer of all the horse piss he could drink for free at her place.
“I prefer it cold,” he’d say.
She went by the cabinet, ran her finger lightly over his collection of classic western movies, John Wayne and Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott. Eastwood. She paused, shifted a few titles aside… there was one case hidden behind the others, she pulled it out and felt the tears well up. Paint Your Wagon.
He’d got his own copy.
She sat down in his chair and sat rocking, remembering the time she’d conned him into watching it with her, “Marty, honey, it’s Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin in the wild west, you’ll love it.”
And he had, though he could never admit it. Of course he’d gone nuts when Clint started walking through the woods singing to the trees… but Lee had brought him round.
She pictured it now, Marty here alone, late in the day, singing along, They civilize left
They civilize right
Till nothing is left
Till nothing is right
They civilize freedom
Till no one is free
No one except
By coincidence, me
Poor Marty, she thought, a born Partner, steady and stolid, even beyond the grave, longing to be wild Ben Rumson.
“Ah Marty,” she said aloud. She wiped her eyes, straightened her clothes, put the dvd back in the rack, took a last look around and climbed up to the trap door and pulled herself out. She eased the sarcophagus lid back and went out into the clear night air, no longer worrying about footprints.
They were waiting for her, just outside. Five of them. Punks. Two of them were fledglings, but the other three had been around awhile, street thugs, born and raised and turned no doubt on the wrong side of Colfax, now running scared of rumors of little girls…
She gave them vamp face, like she just thought they were stupid enough to think her human and tried to sweep past, but they weren’t having any.
“We know what you are, bitch,” one of them snarled. “You’re what we call local talent.”
She went for his eyes and almost got them, but they caught her arms, she fought, she was vampire strong and had that little extra strength people who work outdoors have, she got in some kicks and a couple good scratches, but they were five strong males with no scruples whatsoever about … anything really. They drug her back inside the crypt, slammed her on her back on the sarcophagus, four of them held her spread-eagled while the fifth ripped at her clothes, shredding the vintage cotton and revealing her marble-white skin that glowed in the dim light.
The leader dropped his pants and shuffled forward, leaning over her, vamping out and grinning … and then he was doing some sort of convulsive dance, his eyes wide and staring and then his head exploded, the vamps holding her arms and legs dropped them and fell back, reaching too late to cover their ears against the echo of the shotgun blast inside enclosed space.
Leticia rolled backward onto her feet and gathered her shredded clothes around her and watched the dark figure in the billowing duster stalk inside, her sawed-off twelve gauge held ready in one had as she reached out to jab the cattle-prod she held in the other at the remaining thugs who, after a token hiss or two, ran for the doorway.
“For God’s sake Letty,” her rescuer said, “you should know better than to come down here unarmed with all this big city trash hanging around.”
“Yeah, Ardyce, I know. I was just so worried about him I got in a hurry.”
“He’s dust, ain’t he?” Ardyce said.
“Yes,” Leticia said softly.
“Well, fuck,” the other woman said, and took a kick at the sad bit of a dust pile the beheaded thug had left. “Fuck. Poor Sarge. Should have shot all
“All in good time,” Leticia said. She moved forward, reached out and touched the leather clad shoulder. Ardyce was wearing her full on gunfighter outfit, black hat and the duster, leather vest and black corduroy pants, snakeskin boots, gun belt, she had a theory she repeated often, “If people think you’re flat out crazy they won’t notice how weird you really are.”
Leticia felt her old friend break and wrapped her arms around her and held her as she cried, convulsive sobs wracking her body. And then the storm had passed, she pulled away, wiped her eyes vigorously, stamped her feet a couple times, folded up the cattle prod and slipped it back into the sheath on her leg, slipped the shotgun back into the holster dangling under her right arm. She turned back to Leticia and shook her head.
“I guess we better get you some new duds.”
Her clothes were hopeless so Ardyce gave her her coat and pretty much wearing only that Leticia got in her truck and followed Ardyce as she took off in her brand new Jeep Wrangler. There were still people around downtown so they parked in the alley behind McWilliam’s Ladies Fashions,
waited ‘til the coast was clear and then clambered quickly up to the loose window on the second floor and went in, as they had many times before.
Using each other as mirrors they played dress-up for awhile, trying on different personas, but ending up as they always did, as themselves. Leticia with blue jeans, cotton blouse, v-neck but not too low, nice hip length shearling coat, brown low-heeled round-toed cowboy boots. Ardyce, as it were, vamped it a bit more, very low cut, draped black silk blouse, her ample mammary endowment supported only by the lovely anti-sag side benefit of being a vampire. Leather skirt hemmed a couple inches above the knees, witch boots, waist length black leather jacket. Leticia did her make-up, kohl-rimmed eyes, blood-red lips, bit of blush to hide the pallor.
The she sat as Ardyce did hers, going for a subtler, more natural look. The process finished, Leticia reached out and took a towelette and very deliberately wiped her forehead.
“Goddamnit Letty, I promised I would never do that again.”
“I know,” Leticia said. Once, mad about something, what exactly, neither one could remember, Ardyce and had written “I suck cocks for quarters,”
on Leticia’s forehead and taken her out on a pub crawl. They’d reached the third bar before she figured out why she was suddenly so popular. Vengeance had been sworn but was still pending. After a moment Ardyce picked up towelette and wiped her own forehead.
Ardyce boxed up her discarded gunfighter outfit and they started for the back door, “So,” Ardyce said, “What’ll it be? Non-com, officer? Play it by ear?”
“I think I’d prefer an officer, just for a change of pace. Of course, if we happen to come across Master Sergeant Greek God I’m flexible. And Ardy, let’s just go ahead and make it a threesome this time. I mean it was fun watching poor Marty working so hard to make sure we didn’t run into each other and compare notes, but sometimes it was just a pain too.”
“Sure. So, O’Malley’s then?”
“Suits me.” -30- Next: Chapt. 3: Games People Play